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Updated:  June 9, 2005

Good sweltering June!  Just to keep us even hotter, the International Reggae Superstars Concert is a reggae extravaganza!  Check out the details below.  Laser Rejuvenation gives us their hot new JUNE specials so ensure that you check them out!  No time like the present to get those summer touch-ups!  Must computer programs plague us?  Mine is down again but I managed to get through it without too much stress. 

This week is chock full of entertainment news below - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll!  This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTSWant to be removed from the distribution, click REMOVE.






International Reggae Superstars Concert – Sunday, June 26, 2005

Source:  Rena Malkah, Kick Ass Records

Toronto will be the host to the hottest event this summer. The International Reggae Superstars Concert dubbed "Peace concert". The International Reggae Superstars Concert is a one-day event, which will be held on Sunday June 26th, 2005 Air Canada Centre, Downtown Toronto. Featured artists include Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Lady Saw, Elephant Man, Cocoa-T, Kevin Lyttle, Trudy and many more!  The concert is intended for a family audience showcasing the best of local and international Reggae artists. This is a segment of the musical industry, which is exploding into the main stream. We can see this with increasing acceptance for this musical genre with recent hits such as Sean Paul's singles "Gimme di Light" and "Get Busy", Beenie Man's "King of the Dancehall" and Shaggy's "it wasn't me". Toronto will be provided with an experience of a concert that can only be compared to Reggae Sunsplash and Reggae Sumfest. 

The concert will attract over 10,000 patrons to the Air Canada Centre. The International Reggae Superstars concert has secured some of the best sponsors and partners to kick-off the concert in 2005.  The JACANA Entertainment team wants to welcome Toronto and invite the world to the 2005 International Reggae Superstars Concert. We want Toronto and the world to show us their roots and their rhythm.

SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2005
Air Canada Centre
40 Bay Street
Tickets available at TicketMaster, Sunrise Records and Jean Machine locations - 416.870.8000







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Motivational Note: Remember that the most important ingredient is to trust God.

By Willie Jolley, Host of the “Willie Jolley Motivational Minute” syndicated radio show!

We have talked about hard work, the need to be diligent and committed to our goals and not to rely on luck, which is by definition when opportunity meets preparation. Success comes from hard work. But it is also important to work smart, to think about what you are doing, to plan, and be organized so you can maximize the benefits that come from your efforts. Remember that the most important ingredient is to trust God. Even when you feel you are prepared and ready for success, life will try to throw you some curves, knock you down, disrupt, distract, throw you off track. But just keep in mind that if God is for you, He's greater than the whole world against you! Visit







Girl, Interrupted: Esthero

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon

(June 3, 2005) Born Jenny-Bea Englishman in Stratford, Ont., 26-year-old Esthero, who somehow manages to cross the vast vocal divide between torchlight jazz and Beyoncé, has taken seven years to deliver her sophomore album Wikked Lil' Grrls (due in stores June 28). After bouts of writer's block, internal upheavals at her parent label Warner Music and numerous guest spots on other artists' songs, the Toronto-based singer is finally back with a sometimes-mature, sometimes-racy album of her own. Esthero also returns to the stage tomorrow night at Roy Thomson Hall, joining musicians Ron Sexsmith and Oscar Peterson for the Toronto Symphony's spring gala Sonic Bloom.

You have said that your faith in yourself was reborn with your new album. What had died away?

My confidence, my pleasure in participating and my desire to be of and in the world. I got really lethargic, and I think I was really sad and confused, and I felt like I really didn't have a lot to offer. It's not like I stopped believing in myself or my ability or that one day I would make art again. I just couldn't do it then. I got a lot very fast. [She was still in her teens when her first album Breath From Another came out.] I always say I was plagued by convenience. I just thought, what could I possibly have to say that's worth anything to anybody right now? I need life experience. The irony is that I went broke and got miserable and the art showed up again.

You come across as a jazz singer going head to head with all the Ashantis and Lil' Kims out there. Is maintaining the sexy side a chore?

Oh God, yeah, upkeep is a pain in the butt! What I find to be a chore as a feminist -- but also as a woman and a feminine human being -- is the desire to look pretty. As a feminist, I feel guilty about it. I feel myself succumbing to a certain amount of pressure from outside. There's always a battle with your vanity bone -- constantly.

In the album's lead-off track We R in Need of a Musical Revolution, you mention how sick and tired you are of hearing Ashanti on the radio and watching the same videos on MTV. Is this a dig at the industry or are you more interested in topping Ashanti at her own game?

There's a mission statement that goes along with the song that clarifies that it's not a dig at Britney Spears or Ashanti. That shouldn't be the focus of the song. The song is about our musical diet. I talk about in the mission statement that a little sugar and extra cheese is great in moderation, but you need veggies and water to survive. And I'm starving! I'm hungry. I don't have a problem with Ashanti. What I have a problem with is that we overplay and oversaturate only a few artists at a time.

You have said that your collaboration with Sean Lennon on the new album, called Everyday is a Holiday (With You), is the whitest song you're ever written. At the same time, you've collaborated with a host of hip-hop and R&B artists on the new disc, from André 3000 to Cee-Lo Green. Have you ever suffered flak from anyone saying: Here's some white girl trying to sound black?

All I know is that the urban community embraced me, and in turn I embraced them. I got a lot of support and a lot of love. Wherever it comes from -- black, white, green, yellow, purple -- I'm happy about it. But definitely I have to acknowledge that the hip-hop community, in particular, has been really supportive and integral in my growth. I don't make hip-hop music, but it's a community that really supported me, wants to talk about me and buys the records.

With the new album and an apartment in the Annex, is life settled for you now?

I feel like I'm starting to get on track. I feel like things are possible. I'm still in a situation where my rent is too much and I'm financially not super-stable at the moment. [Laughs.] Because when you take seven years to make a record, the money runs out. But no matter what, regardless of my financial situation, my heart always feels on track.




Critics' Choice: North By Northeast

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Robert Everett-Green And Carl Wilson

(June 3, 2005) If the North by Northeast festival had its own TV-commercial voice-over, it would go something like: Four hundred artists. Da dum. Thirty live music venues. Da dum. And only three days.

A daunting calculation, but Globe critic Robert Everett-Green and columnist Carl Wilson have sifted through the list of incoming acts and picked their musical best bets (there's film, too -- see next Friday's 7 for those recommendations). NXNE rolls into the downtown core June 9 to 11. For information and tickets, see

Robert Everett-Green's Picks

Martha Wainwright. The liberation of Martha continues, with a tour that for once doesn't feature her singing behind brother Rufus or father Loudon. Her recent self-titled debut album (on Maple/Rounder) was a sharing of secrets that we all somehow knew, in words we hadn't heard before and sounds that were as strangely familiar as an old photo on the parlour upright. The wait was worth it, but if you want to be one of the 50 to crack this show with an NXNE wristband, you'll get there early or keep waiting. Mod Club, June 9, 7 p.m.

The Most Serene Republic. Big affirmations are hip. The latest evidence is the buzz around The Most Serene Republic, a fresh new sextet whose luminous, scene-filling sound exudes the kind of optimism that young rockers used to revile. Yes, but it's a knowing optimism. All sing la la. Reverb, June 9, 11 p.m.

Catlow. Natasha Thirsk's first adventure after The Dirtmitts is a guitar-based band adept at constructing the kind of arresting angular grooves that suit her sexy-sinister vocal style. Catlow's new Kiss the World (Boompa) shows her advancing craft as a songwriter accustomed to handling radioactive materials. Cameron House, June 9, midnight.

Novillero. Diminished expectations have never sounded better than on Novillero's new Aim Right for the Hole in Their Lives (Mint), a catchy nu-mod compendium of all known ways to think like a Canadian. One of the best of the year so far, and a good starting point for a strong live show. Drake Hotel, June 10, 1 a.m.

Malajube. This Montreal quartet recently dropped a smashing pop album (Le Compte complet), of the kind that begs to be followed up by a live experience. Think of the New Pornographers with a tougher, wilder sound, fewer inhibitions, and lyrics in French. Cameron House, June 11, 11 p.m.

Carl Wilson's Picks

Azalia Snail. This "space folk" singer, active first in New York and now Los Angeles since the lo-fi scene of the early 1990s, has been a cohort of Sebadoh, Low, Trumans Water, Apples in Stereo and many more. Her noir monologues trace a trail of silvery unease. Cameron House, June 9, 9 p.m.

Shout Out Out Out Out. With two drummers and four bass players, this Edmonton semi-supergroup (featuring stalwarts from bands such as Veal and Whitey Houston) comes as an enthused rejoinder to the New York dance-punk wave (DFA, LCD Soundsystem) that seems to be leaving crowds sweaty and satisfied back home. How will it play further east? Horseshoe Tavern, June 9, 1 a.m.

Fembots. The broken two-step of original Fembots duo Dave MacKinnon and Brian Poirier has found firm footing in the Toronto musical crust after a half-decade, with new disc The City (due in August) at last featuring the line-up (Weakerthans' Jason Tait on percussion, violinist Julie Penner, James Anderson's singing saw and more) that's been enhancing their post-apocalyptic hurtin' songs live for a long while. Gladstone Hotel, June 10, 11 p.m.

Masia One. From Singapore via Mississauga, Masia One's slight frame is the source of some of the most supple, savvy flow in Canadian hip-hop, and one of the scene's foremost organizing forces too, with her regular M1 Academy series. Richmond Lounge, June 10, midnight.

New York Dolls. Some say that without Johnny Thunders it's like the Beatles with just Paul and Ringo, but reports so far are good on the surprise comeback tour led by David Johannsen and Sylvain Sylvain, sole survivors among the original six sullied-fairy godfathers of the mid-1970s glam-punk movement. Reunited last year by Morrissey (ex-Smiths, ex-Dolls Fan Club president), the roster is padded out by journeymen from lesser bands (Hanoi Rocks --?!) but they're still strutting, still looking for a kiss. Phoenix, June 11, 7 p.m. ($29.50; first 350 NXNE badges or wristbands enter free).




Opinion From Canada: Questionable Firing Of Tabby Johnson At Jazz-FM

Excerpt from - By Norman (Otis) Richmond

(June 8, 2005) It's the same old song. The question of Tabby Johnson being fired by Jazz-FM after being on the air for only two months is a 21st Century version of European control over African creativity. Once again, the creators of the music have to take a back seat to non-Africans.  Thirty-five years ago, Archie Shepp, the great saxophonist/educator pointed out: "Some Whites seem to think they have a right to jazz. Perhaps that's true, but they should feel thankful for jazz. It has been a gift that the Negro has given, but (Whites) can't accept that - there are too many problems involved with the social and historical relationship of the two peoples. It makes it difficult for them to accept jazz and the Negro as its innovators."  While it is true that so-called jazz, reggae and hip-hop are performed by people on all continents, it is also true that all of the innovators of these genres have been of African origin. The mass media in North America proclaimed Paul Whiteman the King of Jazz, Benny Goodman, the King of Swing. Sting and the Police won a Grammy Award for their reggae flavoured "Roxanne" before Bob Marley, Peter Tosh or Bunny Wailer; and Eminem is the darling of the media when it discusses hip-hop.

The controversy at Jazz-FM is aided by backward thinking that prevails at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Social policy director Martine Vallee told Now magazine's Sigcino Moyo recently that "radio stations, unlike television, are under no onus to put visible minority voices on the air. TV stations are required to file progress reports to corporate plans for 'cross-organizational diversity'. Cursory questions are asked of radio license applicants, but the CRTC does no follow-up."  In the Now interview Valee went on to say: "The question is, what does cultural diversity in radio mean? Is it an audible minority presence, the music and perspective, or merely an organizational head count of gender, race, nationality and disability?"  Jazz-FM has that covered application-wise. Its CRTC application says, "When hiring we endeavour to notify the following agencies: Native Canadian Centre, Centre for Independent Living, a training coordinating group for persons with disabilities and Canadian Women in Radio and Television job bank among others."

I believe if the CRTC were licensing a station to program Polka music they would expect that a Czech or an Eastern European organization would have been consulted. However, regarding Jazz-FM, Vallee has not mentioned one African-Canadian organization. Instead, it has been left to community radio stations to keep jazz alive in Toronto.  Jazz shows on CKLN-FM, CIUT-FM and CHRY-FM have a history of being supported by the music community. More African Canadians should be working at Jazz-FM-Sharron McLeod, Chloe Onari, Curtis Bailey, Tien Providence, Colin Smith, Al Peabody, Claudia McKoy and Winston Smith could all be short-listed. Until she was fired, Johnson, who hosted the gospel program, Step It Up, was the only African Canadian woman on-air.  Jazz-FM has two men of African ancestry on-air, Canadian-born Joe Sealy and American-born Bob Parlocha. While Sealy is homegrown, Parlocha is an import who has a syndicated radio program airing all night. The hiring of Johnson was like killing two birds with one stone since it answered the gender and race questions.

It has become fashionable to accuse African people of playing "the race card". Bernie Webber, the chair of Jazz-FM's board, allegedly accused Johnson of playing the race-card. The late Johnnie Cochran said this about the race card: "I take great umbrage at that because I think it trivializes our whole situation. They have the deck! They own the deck! They made the deck! And then they accuse us of playing the race card which is preposterous."  According to Now, Johnson said things came to a head when she mentioned to operations manager and music director, Brad Barker, the scarcity of visible minority faces and women at the station. Of the station's 13 on-air hosts, two are women and one is a member of a visible minority.  Johnson is Canadian royalty. She is the sister of jazz diva, Molly Johnson, and Clark Johnson who directed the Hollywood blockbuster “S.W.A.T.” She was born in Zurich. Her early years were spent in Philadelphia and later in Ontario, where her family settled. She was discovered at age 16, when she was encouraged to accompany a friend to a rehearsal for the Toronto Production of Hair. Her friend didn't get the part; it was offered to Johnson. This production brought Johnson into the media limelight.

She spent a few years with Rick James and the Stone City Band, recorded five albums with him and toured with him from 1979-82. She sang James' "Mary Jane Girls" and sang on the Temptations smash, "Standing on The Top", with James, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and others. This was the biggest hit on the Temptations' Reunion album.  History will record that Euro woman have benefited the most from the civil-rights and Black power movements in North America. Numerous African Canadian women speaking on condition of anonymity complain bitterly that you have to be a blonde to get work in the media. However, even Euro women have a beef with Jazz-FM.

Once again the Now article is instructive: "Money has also been blown by the station on settling several labour board cases, among them that of Mary Lou Creechan, the former program host of Jazz With A Twist, a Latin Vibe show. "Creechan claims she was "fired for raising concerns about the lack of diversity at the station, specifically of (B)lacks and women." Johnson's travails there don't surprise her one bit. She says she was reprimanded for "playing too much Latin music" when she was the only woman on air. She was also the only "on-air personality working sans contract."  Says Creechan of Jazz-FM today: "It's an exercise in lost potential. All guys, all white and mostly those who don't know jazz." What else is new?

Toronto-based Norman (Otis) Richmond can be heard on CKLN-FM 88.1. His interview with Spike Lee is on the Internet at     




The Perishers Make Waves As Sarah McLachlan's Opener

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Tabassum Siddiqui, Toronto Star

(Jun. 7, 2005) During Sarah McLachlan's stop in Toronto a few weeks ago, fans streamed out into the hallways of the Air Canada Centre, flitting anxiously between the merchandise stalls immediately after the opening act had finished playing its set.  Those fans standing in long lines weren't waiting to buy tour trinkets, but rather opening band The Perishers' CD, Let There Be Morning. By the time McLachlan took the stage minutes after the band's performance, most of the kiosks had sold out of the album.  The week after their mid-May Canadian dates with McLachlan, Swedish quartet The Perishers, a completely unknown quantity in North America before the tour, found itself on the Top Ten sales charts in Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton and London, and vaulted onto the national chart at No. 31. They nabbed the No. 3 spot on the Toronto chart, sandwiched between heavy hitters Il Divo and Mariah Carey.  Not bad for a few twentysomething guys from Umea, Sweden, whose only real exposure in North America up to this point had been having one of their tunes played on The O.C. and who had never played even a small club in Canada or the U.S. before hitting the massive arenas McLachlan headlines.  The day after its triumphant ACC stand, singer/guitarist Ola Klüft, keyboardist Martin Gustafson, bassist Pehr Åström and drummer Thomas Hedlund play a decidedly more intimate venue — their label, Vancouver's Nettwerk Records (also home to McLachlan) is hosting an early-evening industry showcase at the Rivoli to display the new jewel in its crown to Toronto tastemakers and music-business movers and shakers.  Huddled around a table for a pre-show interview, the four youthful musicians appear exhausted — it's clear the lengthy McLachlan tour (it's believed this will be the singer's last for a few years) is taking its toll. But they're excited about their steady rise in Canada, a country they compare to their native Sweden for its diverse music scene and bitter cold.  "We're having the time of our lives playing these huge arenas," Hedlund enthuses. "Sarah and her crew have been incredible — I can't think of an artist that would be better to be an opening act for. It's been an amazing opportunity."  McLachlan hand-picked The Perishers, whose members met in high school in Umea nearly a decade ago, to open the tour after hearing Let There Be Morning, recalls Nettwerk president Terry McBride, who flew to Toronto from Vancouver just to introduce the band at the Rivoli showcase.

It makes sense that McLachlan — and her fans — would have an affinity for The Perishers' moody, melodic pop. Let There Be Morning, the band's third CD but first North American release, is a hushed, melancholy affair anchored by Klüft's delicate vocals. The band shrugs off any obvious Coldplay or Radiohead influence, but the comparison is not too far off the mark.  Nettwerk signed The Perishers after label co-founder Mark Jowett was given the band's CD (which had already been released in Sweden) at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, last year. He passed it on to McBride, who immediately fell for the sweeping soundscapes of Let There Be Morning.  "It initially was the mood and feel," McBride, who receives hundreds of unsolicited CDs each year, says from his office in Vancouver. "I knew I liked it from the first listen, but didn't know why. And when that happens, I am always quite curious."  The band wasn't familiar with the influential Canadian label, but were more than happy to sign on once they heard of its roster. "Our A&R guy almost started crying out of joy," Klüft quips.  Despite Nettwerk's enthusiasm for the band, aside from a few TV soundtracks (Hedlund jokes they had no idea The O.C. was so big, since it's not yet a hit in Sweden) and rave reviews in key music and style magazines, there had been no real plans for The Perishers to crack the North American market before the McLachlan tour.  Now, after selling more than 500 CDs at nearly every tour stop — it helped that McLachlan came out on stage each night to sing the slit-your-wrists duet "Pills" with Klüft (Toronto had the most sales at close to a thousand) — The Perishers are garnering buzz beyond Sarah fans and industry insiders. Nettwerk hopes to have the band back for a North American club tour in the fall.  "Many of the things that have been business-related have just fallen into our lap. Not that we don't work hard on the songs, but we hadn't been the hardest working band in showbiz, either," Hedlund muses. "So that makes it easier to realize that as fast as it can come to us, it can be taken away. We've been together for a long time, and being able to create music with the people you love and being part of something that's inspiring means that we'll keep doing what we're doing. If people like it, that's a bonus."




Lowdown: Green Makes CD With Beasties Producer

By Karen Bliss for Lowdown

Ottawa’s Tom Green is coming back for his Juno Award. The comedian/prankster/talk show host/actor and author is working on a new hip hop album with producer Mike Simpson of the Dust Brothers (Beck, Beastie Boys, Biz Markie) to be released in Canada by Sony BMG this fall.  Immediately following Green's commitment as host of Canada’s Walk Of Fame in Toronto this Sunday (June 5), he will hit the road for the five-date "My Bum Is On Your Lips Tour" with Simpson (DJ EZ Mike), pro skater Jeremy Klein and clothing designer Shawn Anthony. Their on and off stage antics will be filmed for the DVD component to the album.  “Everybody who goes to the show and is in the front row will be on the DVD because we’re bringing cameras to all the shows and they’re going to be on stage shooting everything,” says Green, who will be travelling with his friends in a school bus, pulling into towns on the way to each venue for guerilla shows and shenanigans.  Long before Green was lured to the U.S. by MTV, which picked up his outrageous Rogers cable 22-turned-Comedy Network show, he was a member of hip hop group Organized Rhyme. The trio enjoyed a hit single with “Check The O.R.” from the 1992 album “Huh? Stiffenin’ Against The Wall” and received a 1993 Juno nomination for best rap recording — but lost to “Keep It Slammin’” by Devon.  “Maybe if I host the Junos, they’ll give me a Juno for my rap record,” Green jokes. “That’s the whole point here — I’m coming back for my Juno.”

Back then, the Ottawa-based Organized Rhyme, which consisted of Green (MC Bones), Greg Campbell (Pin The Chameleon) and Geordie Ferguson (DJ Signal), was working with Toronto-based Ivan Berry, credited then of launching female rap artist Michie Mee and the groundbreaking Dream Warriors. Berry managed Organized Rhyme and, with partner Rupert Gayle, put out the group’s material on their company, Boombastic Music, which had a label deal with A&M Records Canada (now Universal Music Canada) in the early ‘90s.  Berry is now executive producer of Green’s solo album. “We remained friends and when he wanted to do another album, I thought it was a fantastic idea,” says Berry. “At this time, I was head of A&R and international for BMG Canada, so it was a perfect fit for all involved.”  Green says the album is almost done. Unlike most urban records, there won’t be multiple producers on it. He and Simpson have “completely collaborated on it,” Green says. The pair worked together before, when Green hired Simpson to do the score for his 2001 film, "Freddy Got Fingered," that he directed and co-wrote.  “We worked pretty closely on that and after that, I’ve been making a lot of music at home, just for fun really. Me and Mike have been working on the record for over two years now, pretty consistently. Whenever I’ve been in town I go over there and write. We’ve probably recorded about 50 songs.”  Noted obviously for his comedic skills, Green confirms that that will translate into his music. “The rhymes are funny and ridiculous a lot of the times, but I don’t want to send the wrong message here. It’s not a Weird Al Yankovic parody record or anything,” Green clarifies.

“I would hope that it’s funny the way when you listen to the Beastie Boys, they’re funny. I’m inspired by the Beastie Boys and Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, so it’s obviously not a gangsta rap record.  “I’m definitely excited about working with Mike because his style of beats is very much in keeping with the kind of hip hop I’ve always loved. He produced (1989’s) Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys. That’s one of my favourite records of all time. His stuff involves more sampling and loops and there’s going to be a lot of scratching on the record. You could say it’s an old-school record, but it definitely has a lot of those elements. Rap has changed a lot in the last 10 years and I’m certainly not trying to do any sort of new style of rap.”  Since Organized Rhyme, Green has been keeping up his rhyming skills on such releases as the song “Lonely Swedish (The Bum Bum Song),” as well as an album, “Not 'The Tom Green Show,'” by MC Face, which he maintains is not him, that he only produced. “MC Face hated me. He used me for my computer system,” says Green. “He’s now faded away into obscurity.”  More seriously, Green, now 33, recounts how after MTV picked up "The Tom Green Show" in 1999, he signed a record deal with Virgin Records and built a recording studio in his house.  “At that stage — and that was five years ago now — I was very confused musically with what I should put out,” Green admits. “I was thinking, ‘Well, I can’t put out a rap album I would think because that’s going to confuse everybody and I’m doing a comedy show so I should probably do a comedy kind of album, like Adam Sandler kind of funny guitar songs,’ so I started recording all these acoustic guitar songs and rap songs.  “It was fun, but I was thinking, ‘I’m just doing this for fun; I’m not putting them on the record.’ That’s right at that time when I got (testicular) cancer actually and I had to take a year off and get healthy. Then I went and made my movie and by the time I got done making 'Freddy Got Fingered,' the people who signed me at Virgin had left and there had been a big merger, so I didn’t do that record.

“But then I still had the studio and I just started making beats and writing a lot of songs and doing stuff for fun whenever I had some time on the weekend. When I was in high school, I’d work all summer at a nursing home sweeping up crap so I could buy a sampler for $900 and now I have a killer Pro Tools studio in my house with a sound booth and all this stuff and I was just like, ‘Damn.’ It was like a dream,’ so I just started really using it.”  Still managed by L.A.-based Canadian Howard Lapides of Core Entertainment, who he met backstage at "Open Mic With Mike Bullard" back when "The Tom Green Show" was on The Comedy Network and took it to MTV, Green says his new album is coming out on Sony BMG Canada because of Berry. “Ivan shepherded the music that I’m doing into there (then BMG Music Canada) and brought it into Lisa (Zbitnew, president) before the (Sony/BMG) merger,” says Green. “We’ve been talking to them for a while and we’re going to put it out in the fall. I really like everyone over there.”  As for releases in other territories, Green says he’s not sure of those details. “Kind of a new thing I’ve decided to do with my life is I’m just not going to worry about that stuff,” he says. “I know we are definitely going to put the record out in the U.S.”  When asked if there will be any special guests, Green says American rapper Def Jeff of “Droppin’ Rhymes On Drums” fame, was recently in the studio, but other than that, “It’s not that kind of record. I wouldn’t define this as a commercial record. Obviously, we want to sell records, but it doesn’t have the sound of what you’re hearing on the radio today, I don’t think.”  Berry disagrees. “We’ve got an amazing album thus far with a great variance of songs that will make the album a complete, exciting album that’s perfect for radio, clubs, and, of course, retail. Tom is a little shy (laughs). We definitely have the single and I would clearly says that we have much more than one single. The album is by far his best work yet.”

Focusing on the new album, Berry, who still has the rights to the Organized Rhyme catalogue, has no plans at the moment to re-release it. Green doesn’t stay in close touch with Campbell or Ferguson, so they likely won’t appear on his solo album. “I’ve talked to Greg a couple of times in the last 10 years and Jordie’s working at Nortel so I don’t think he’s really wants to do anything on the record,” says Green.  Asked if he will be resurrecting any of the Organized Rhyme songs on this upcoming tour, particularly “Check The O.R.,” with its catchy refrain “Check the O.R./You like it so far?” and he says, “Hmm, that’s a good question. If I do, it will have been your idea (laughs). Maybe I will. I should call Greg and see if he’s around. Maybe in Ottawa we’ll do it. I don’t know how many people would even remember the song.  “We’re just going to perform the songs off the album, probably not the whole album. I just thought it would be cool when you buy a record, if you get on the DVD, we’ll have every song performed live and then we’ll also have this show that will basically involve us driving around and doing some goofy stuff in Canada,” he explains.  “So a lot of the DVD is going to be not onstage, basically like an episode of one of my shows. We’re going on this crazy road trip and we’re going to skate; we’re going to hang out; we’re going to drink; we’re going to have fun; we’re going to do our raps shows every night and we’re going to mess with people on the street and do all sorts of goofy stuff. We want to pull up in some small towns and pull up on main streets and set up some speakers on top of the school bus and set up some skate ramps and just start skating and doing a rap concert.”  The Ontario tour stops include London’s Call The Office (June 7); Hamilton’s The Underground (8th); Barrie’s Foundation Night Club (9th); Kingston’s Elixir (10th); and Ottawa’s Barrymore’s (11th).  Meanwhile, Green has many other things on the go. He stars in the family comedy "Bob The Butler" opposite Brooke Shields, due later this year; continues to appear regularly on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" visiting all 50 states in a hunt for the country’s funniest people; is putting out a retrospective DVD of his shows; and his book, "Hollywood Causes Cancer," comes out in paperback in October.  If you truly need to know more about Green, his new “personal addiction” is to get up every morning at 6:30 a.m. to write about “mundane things” in his blog. Check it out at




Target And John Legend Partner To Celebrate Black Music Month

Source: Simone Smalls; Susan Blond, Inc.; 212-333-7728;; Paula Thornton-Greer;;  612-696-3400

(June 6, 2005) Target celebrates Black Music Month this June with singer/songwriter John Legend. Target will present an intimate private concert with the R&B star on Sunday, June 19, 2005 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Canal Room in New York City as part of its month-long commemoration of Black music and musicians.  "Target is committed to supplying its guests with a diverse selection of music from the finest artists in the industry," said Darrell Tucker, vice president of entertainment, Target. "By celebrating Black Music Month, we honour those innovators, including John Legend, who continue to inspire us everyday with their artistry." John Legend's platinum selling, critically acclaimed debut CD, Get Lifted, demonstrates a rare ability to fuse the feel and vibe of classic old school soul music with the edgy flavour of 21st century hip-hop. Embodying true artistry, John Legend has been hailed as a contemporary Donny Hathaway, and hit-makers from Kanye West to the Black Eyed Peas have worked with him, making his debut a must-have. "Black music is such an important part of the cultural heritage of this nation, and the rest of the world for that matter," says Legend. "I'm grateful to be a part of this amazing tradition. To have the platform and the opportunity to travel the world and share my talent and passion for this music is something I truly appreciate. Thanks to Target for playing their part in helping me do that." The piano-playing singer/songwriter is committed to furthering arts in education, a philosophy that Target also shares. Target gives back more than $2 million a week to support arts, education and social services organizations across the country. In honour of Black Music Month, Target is donating $25,000 to the Harlem School of the Arts to fund scholarships in the disciplines of music, theatre, dance and visual arts.

Founded in 1964 by world-renowned African-American opera singer Dorothy Maynor, the Harlem School of the Arts serves more than 3,000 students in the New York Metropolitan Area each year. Harlem School of the Arts is one of the few institutions in the nation offering comprehensive pre-professional and post-secondary arts training primarily to African-American and Latino students, many who are from economically disadvantaged families. Music fans can go online to or visit Target - which recently opened its fifth New York Metropolitan area store at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn - to purchase the exclusive compilation CD honouring Black Music Month. The CD pays tribute to inspirational African-American musicians from the past, as well as those who will continue to make musical history well into the future. Retailing for $5.99 and available during the month of June, the CD features artists as diverse as Queen Latifah, Barry White, Donna Summer, Boyz II Men and more. Target is a premier destination for music, featuring music of all genres, new artists and Target exclusives. Through listen-and-win radio promotions with Radio One and WBLS-FM, winners from across the country will be flown to New York to attend the exclusive John Legend concert presented by Target. The rest of the audience will be comprised of special invited guests.




Stage And Music’s Marva King Releases New Disc

Source: Phyllis Pollack, Def Press Public Relations;; 818-349-2282

Born in Flint, Michigan, Marva King is most known for her starring stage role in Tyler Perry's multi-million dollar grossing faith-based DVD, "Diary Of A Mad Black Woman." In "Diary," King played the spurned, attractive, feisty and vengeful housewife, Helen. Twentieth Century Fox and Lions Gate Entertainment have licensed the DVD rights to this hot property. Now, however, the former Prince and the New Power Generation singer is back again, currently in the studio, recording her very own album. Despite the massive success of her stage debut, King, however, has far more to her stellar resume than just her diary. Performing since the age of four, King started her career very early on, and became accomplished at quite a young age. She is heard on albums by Tupac Shakur, Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Cliff, Chaka Khan, Lionel Richie and Phil Collins, just to name a few. She co-wrote the Whispers' single, "Innocent," which debuted at #4 on the "Billboard" Hot Singles Chart. She has performed with artists like Lenny Kravitz, and has toured with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Prince. Holed up in the studio, the prolific vocalist with the four-octave range is currently recording her upcoming neo-soul and R&B CD, "Soul Sistah," for which she has already completed several songs. Fans will certainly relish its new offerings, which include a wide variety of musical samplings. King has received "Universal Love" from audiences around the world, and surely gives it back in her track of the same name. Other tantalizing numbers on her long awaited album include, "Sensuous Man," Big Ups" and "Trippin'." One of her personal favourites is "Sistah," featuring violinist Karen Briggs (Yani). Listeners will be thrilled by tracks that include "Yo Attitude" and "The Flesh." One of the highlights of the album is a revamped version of Minnie Ripperton's "Baby This Love," featuring George Duke on keyboards. King, who also co-composed all of its other tracks, is producing the album.

Marva is beyond any stereotype or genre. Larger than such a limitation, her recordings include music that is hip hop, gospel, jazz, R&B, funk, reggae and rock. Her mesmerizing delivery inspired Larry Flick to write in "Billboard Magazine," "Marva King is a supreme Diva, and her name will go down in history as one of the best." There are many special moments that could fill countless, riveting chapters of her diary. This is one of them: King met Prince when she performed at a birthday party for Stevie Wonder. The Artist secured her phone number, and two days later, he had her to fly her to audition for him. Prince soon took her on the road, under his wing, and made her a member of his group, New Power Generation (NPG). She performed on most of the songs on his "New Power Soul" album, and demonstrated her immense talent, as well, when she played with Prince live, on stage performances that included their still memorable remakes of Shania Twain's "Still The One" and Joan Osbourne's "What If God Was One Of Us?" Says King of being hired by Prince, "At Stevie's (Wonder) party, after I performed, a guy came up to me and said, "My boss wants to speak to you." I said, "Who is your boss?" and he answered, "The Artist." I looked at him and asked, "Well, what artist?" He just responded, "The Artist." Such was the mysterious beginning of their working relationship together for King, when Prince chose her to be a member of his group, NPG. King, who had been working with K.D. Lang, would soon fly off to Minneapolis to start working with the fabled Prince.

"I worked with him for two years," King explains, adding, "It was intense. I have never worked that hard in my life. I was tired, but it was so much fun." She reflects, "I left because it was time for me to go. We were in Europe, and I developed bronchitis. We did a lot of shows in Europe and in the States. I was exhausted for two years straight." "I learned a lot about performing and business from Prince," she notes. "I was a rather reserved performer on stage before, because I came from gospel and R&B roots. He broke all that up, all the chains and barriers. That's when I turned into a performer," she reveals. King still refers to that episode in her life as "major school." King recalls, "When it was time for me to leave, Prince revealed to me he had a vision it was going to happen. He said, "I already know you're going to leave me. You have many angels around you, so I won't try to stop you." Thus, he gave me his blessing." The angels are still watching over her. She continued to attract new fans that watched her in the stage production of "Diary Of A Mad Black Woman." Marva points out, "People never filmed these stage performances and sold them before. Now, everybody is following suit. This was really one of the first black stage productions that just went out on DVD and blew up." A staggering fact, "Blackflix Magazine" has quoted film critic Roger Ebert, as saying, "I have received more emails about that than any other review I have ever written, outnumbering "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Passion Of The Christ" put together. And they were not the same message. Each came from an individual who felt moved to write." Marva, who is also heard on Michael Jackson's "Bad" album, states of the iconic pop star, "I used to travel with him a lot, although I did not do the tours. I just hung out with him and his family a lot; I know all of them very well." She remembers, "The first really big recording I ever did with anybody for a major label was "Let's Get Serious with Jermaine Jackson, and that was in the early '80's."

Stevie Wonder hired her as a teenager. Marva comments, "He told me, I just have a feeling you're not supposed to be in the background, you're supposed to be a solo artist. At the time, I was very happy to be in the background, I sung in church choirs all my life. I toured with him, did a live album with that was recorded live in Osaka and Tel Aviv, which is his double album, "Natural Wonder," featuring the song, "Master Blaster." Lionel Richie has also worked with Marva, who contributed to his "Dancing On The Ceiling" album, which features guests like Eric Clapton and Alabama. It featured her voice on its tracks that include the chartbusting hit single, "Love Will Conquer All." She also warbles on his platinum selling album, "Louder Than Words," which featured her voice on songs like "Piece of Love," which she also wrote. "Louder" had a star-studded cast that also included Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Babyface and Peter Gabriel. King confesses, "I've done so many sessions, it is hard for me to remember them all, as enjoyable as they were." Among the countless albums she graces, King's voice is also heard on Paula Abdul's "My Love For You Is Real" album, Yolanda Adams' "Mountain High, Valley Low" album, the "Gap Band III" album and Jeffrey Osbourne's Grammy nominated album, "That's For Sure." She was also featured on Will Downing's duet, "I Can't Make You Love Me," a remake of the Bonnie Raitt track. Randy Jackson gave her first production job, producing tracks for Philip Bailey. In the upcoming 2005 film release of "Resurrection: The J.R. Richard Story," King plays the feature role of Richard's confidante, sportscaster Cindy Young. She will also be heard on three tracks on the "Soul Of Brazil" compilation album, including its first single, slated for release this summer on You Records, headed by Clarence Smith, founder of "Essence Magazine."




Resurrecting Anthony Hamilton's 'Soulife'

Source: Jason Elzy;

(June 3, 2005) Before Anthony Hamilton earned six Grammy nominations and lent his vocal performance to the Nappy Roots hit "Po' Folks" in 2002, the Charlotte, North Carolina-born soul singer had to overcome a pair of underdeveloped record deals that left two albums unreleased.  Hamilton's rough career start began in 1995 when his debut album for Uptown Records, XTC, was shelved, a casualty of the label's financial trouble. That same impressive album was eventually released one year later on MCA Records, but didn't gain the attention that it deserved. Now Atlantic/Rhino Records comes to the rescue of Hamilton's other lost work on the album “Soulife.”  After the release of XTC in 1996 and before Comin' From Where I'm From on Arista Records sold over a million copies and spent more than 75 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 chart, Hamilton recorded a full album for Soulife Records that went unreleased. SOULIFE includes ten unreleased songs, two previously released tracks, and is available June 28 at regular physical and digital retail outlets and at for a suggested list price of $18.98.  The tale of the lost Soulife sessions began in 1999 when Hamilton joined Soulife, a Los Angeles-based record label. As fellow Soulife artist Sunshine Anderson climbed the charts with her debut album, Your Woman, in 2001, it appeared as though the label would be in a good position to push Hamilton and his new recordings over the top. But his label's grim financial realities intervened once again as Soulife folded, leaving Hamilton's recording efforts in limbo. Until now...  Co-written by Hamilton, SOULIFE includes songs recorded with veteran producers such as Grammy-winner Mark Sparks. These songs showcase the singer's amazing ability to establish a mood with just a few notes. Reminiscent of Bill Withers' style, Hamilton's smooth and precise delivery provides soulful depth to the sensual rhythms of “Soulife.” In "Ball And Chain" Hamilton demonstrates his remarkable vocal ability while expressing the longing desire to break free from life's speedy track and move towards a simpler life of happiness. The album also features a duet with Grammy-winner Macy Gray on the ballad "Love And War"-a song first released on the Baby Boy soundtrack. Despite its delayed arrival, the resurrection of Anthony Hamilton's “Soulife” proves to have been well worth the wait.




Eleven Year Old Gospel Phenom Najiyah Joins Mc Donald's Gospelfest

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(June 3, 2005) Grade-school gospel powerhouse Najiyah has her sights set on a hot, hot summer recording debut and a series of performances that include the 22nd Annual McDonald's GospelFest.  The eleven-year-old Rhythm & Spirit (a division of Rhythmbank Entertainment) recording artist releases her first album, It's Just Me, in September, but her first single, "Watchin' Over Me," hits airwaves this month, June.  First the sixth-grader takes the legendary stage at New York City's Madison Square Garden on the last evening, Sunday, June 5th, of the 22nd annual McDonald's GospelFest.  Najiyah will share the spotlight at the popular event with a wide spectrum of gospel singers and choirs, including the legendary Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.  In addition to her Madison Square Garden performance, Najiyah taped three songs on "I Gospel" a program on the Inspiration Network and she will join BET star Bobby Jones for his annual Gospel Retreat in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  Najiyah will perform on June 12, day one of the three-day retreat, for youth and hip hop day and again on June 28 at the Edwin Hawkins Music & Arts Seminar.  The talented youngster will also be a part of the Bishop T.D. Jakes' Megafest Youth Kickoff in Atlanta on August 3.

Some of Najiyah's pre-promotions efforts for the album will include church visits in various markets.  Most recent visits included Greater Allen Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens and upcoming appearances scheduled include Brown Memorial Baptist Church of Brooklyn, New York on Father's Day, Sunday, June 19 and City of Refuge, Reverend Noel Jones' Church in Los Angeles. The seeds for Najiyah's professional recording career began in 2003 when, during an audition, her phenomenal voice caught the attention of legendary soul/rocker Nona Hendryx. Hendryx knew right away that the Harlem schoolgirl was something special. In 2004, when she and partner Bobby Banks founded Rhythmbank Entertainment, an indie record label, they signed Najiyah as their first act.   Najiyah's debut album, It's Just Me, features the youngster's effortless, soaring vocals on iconic gospel tunes such as "Oh How I Love Jesus" and "His Eye Is On The Sparrow"; as well as contemporary gospel like the powerful "Through The Storm," a duet with R&B diva Jennifer Holliday; the wildly popular "Stand," made famous by gospel superstar Donnie McClurkin; and the album title song, It's OK, It's Just Me, written by Darius Brooks.

The album's 12 tracks were executive produced by Hendryx and an assortment of veteran producers including Darius Brooks, Eve Nelson, Michael McElroy, Joe Joubert, Darren Lighty, Eddie F, Marc S. McKinney a/k/a Ramone.  Najiyah's recording career is just beginning, but she's hardly an inexperienced performer.  She brought her parents to tears when she began singing along with the radio at age two, and by age five was bringing the congregation at Harlem's United House of Prayer to their feet.  By the time she was six, she'd made three appearances on the stage of the famed Apollo Theater.  By age nine, Najiyah had an agent and was making the rounds of auditions for splashy Broadway productions like "The Lion King" and "Hairspray."   In addition to Najiyah, Hendryx's New York-based Rhythmbank Entertainment represents a small, exciting group of artists. In addition to the label, Rhythmbank encompasses a music publishing and film company, and is developing a talent management division.




Reggae Updates From Jamaica: Tami Chynn Signs With Universal

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(June 2, 2005) Singer Tami Chynn has signed a four-album deal with music giant Universal Records. The signing took place early last week, after some two weeks of negotiations. Chynn, who is managed by Spin City Entertainment, says she hoped that her signing with the overseas label would open the doors for other female Jamaican artists. "I am overwhelmed, and I feel just great. It's like we have accomplished a part of the dream. This is definitely a step in the right direction," Chynn said. "The company (Universal) saw the potential and decided to work with me. The negotiations went on for a couple of weeks with the company. I had offers from other companies but for me this was the best offer and I thank God for this opportunity," Chynn said. In a statement issued by Universal, senior vice president of A&R Jolene Cherry said: "Following his trip to Jamaica, music executive Arron Jachoves introduced me to the music and talents of Tami Chynn. We invited her to travel to Los Angeles to perform for our team. Instantly I knew she was great. My team was equally ecstatic about her talent following the showcase. Cherry in the statement also stated that Universal music group chairman, Doug Morris, expressed an interest in the young talent, flying her to New York on his private jet to perform for the team on the east coast and special guest Chris Blackwell. Her flawless performance was amazing and blew the room away. The level of excitement was so high. She delivered a demo which highlighted both her singing ability and song-writing skills. Her earthy, soulful and classy style is a welcome addition to the Universal family. Signing Tami Chynn made our year."

Jerome Hamilton, Chynn's booking agent and publicist at Headline Entertainment was happy for Chynn and the possibilities her signing for Universal can have on the local music industry. "This is another excellent opportunity of Jamaican music to make a mark on the international scene. This puts us in a position of influence and is really an exciting time," Hamilton said. Born into a musical family, Tami's entry into the music world was inevitable. Her sister Tessan caused some sparks to fly as lead singer of Mile High. Her mother Christine was in a group called Carnation and her father Richard is a musician who plays drums and the guitar. "I grew up surrounded by music. I was in the Little People & Teen Players. My mother got us involved in the performing arts pretty early," Tami said. Her experience with Little People & Teen Players has paid off as it has helped in preparing her for the big league. "The experience I gained is now vital to what I am now doing. It definitely helped to hone my craft," she said. Rock You and the Renaissance label-produced Hyperventilated are among Tami's more familiar recordings which have been staples on radio and in the dancehalls. "The work and the preparation is now on. This is just a foot through the door. I hope to use this to make new waves for Jamaican music and for our culture," she said. Chynn has already started work on her debut album. The set was already in production prior to her signing with Universal. "I am taking some care and time to complete the album. I want it to be a wonderful album coming out of Jamaica that Jamaicans can be proud of," Chynn said. The Universal Music Group has had a long association with reggae and dancehall music over the years. International deejay Shaggy is signed to the Geffen imprint which is owned by Universal. The compilation/catalogue arm Hip-O-Records which has released compilations from Capleton, Buju Banton and others over the past few years, is also owned by Universal.




Lil Jon Leads Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Finalists

Excerpt from - By Gail Mitchell, L.A.

(June 3, 2005) Rapper/producer Lil Jon tops the list of finalists for this year's Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards. The artist born Jonathan Smith will contend as a member of the East Side Boyz in five categories, including top R&B/hip-hop artist and top R&B/hip-hop duo or group. For his solo endeavours, he is named in the top producer and top songwriter categories.   "I'm happy that Billboard has recognized my hard work," Lil Jon says. "I try to keep my sound relevant and show my range as a producer."   The awards ceremony will close Billboard's sixth annual R&B/hip-hop conference. The event runs Aug. 3-5 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Atlanta.   Alicia Keys and 50 Cent are finalists in six categories each. Both are in the running for top R&B/hip-hop singles artist. That category also includes Usher, who is named in five categories, including top R&B/hip-hop artist.   Destiny's Child and Terror Squad each have four mentions. Additional finalists in multiple categories include Snoop Dogg, Eminem, the Game and Fantasia. Mariah Carey, who recently earned her 16th No. 1 single on The Billboard Hot 100, is a finalist for top female R&B/hip-hop artist.   R. Kelly, last year's leading contender, returns as a finalist in the top songwriter category.   Kelly won in seven of the eight categories in which he was named for 2004, including top R&B/hip-hop songwriter and producer. Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz were also winners last year, picking up hot rap track honours for "Get Low," featuring Ying Yang Twins.   In addition to Lil Jon and Kelly, top songwriter finalists are Scott Storch and Keys. Rounding out the top producer field with Lil Jon and Keys are Storch and Kanye West. West was a first-time finalist last year in the top producer and top songwriter categories as well as for top R&B/hip-hop new artist.   This year's crop of finalists for top new artist is Ciara, the Game, John Legend and third season "American Idol" winner Fantasia.   Comprising 17 categories, the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards honour the most popular albums, songs and artists as well as the top songwriters, producers and major/independent labels. The awards are based on sales data from Nielsen SoundScan and radio airplay information from Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.   This year's finalists and winners reflect the performance of recordings on the Billboard R&B/hip-hop and rap charts during the period from May 29, 2004, through the issue dated May 21, 2005. New artists are those who have not appeared on a Billboard album chart prior to the March 27, 2004, issue or have not been a new-artist finalist in the past.




Court Gives George Clinton Ownership Of Masters

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(June 6, 2005) *After 15 trying years, the genius behind the groundbreaking Funkadelic LPs "Hardcore Jollies," "One Nation Under a Groove," "Uncle Jam Wants You" and "The Electric Spanking of War Babies," now has complete ownership of the albums’ master recordings. Thanks to U.S. District Court Judge Manuel L. Real, sole possession of the masters have been given to its rightful owner, funk pioneer George Clinton, in a sweeping decision handed down last Thursday. Judge Real concluded that Clinton had been defrauded of his creative works, which involved the complicity of his former employees, a member of his former management team and his lawyers.  According to Clinton, the scheme began 12 years ago when Nene Montes, a Cuban-American, brought a suit in Los Angeles against Armen Boladian and Bridgeport Music claiming ownership of the Funkadelic Masters. The case was defeated and was re-opened in New York.  In New York, Montes claimed that his company, Tercer Mundo and another group, the Association of Parliament- Funkadelic Members (APF) owned the masters. During that trial, the judge found that Armen Boladian's documents claiming ownership were flawed. Boladian admitted that he had signed Clinton's name to some documents. The case was remanded to California where a settlement was reached between Boladian, Bridgeport Music and Montes along with APF. Montes received a large sum of money from Boladian along with the Funkadelic masters.

During subsequent actions, APF obtained possession of the masters from Montes along with liens from lawyers who tried the cases. The liens amounted to more than $2.8 million.  The current case was brought by Montes against APF seeking possession of the masters claiming conversion and fraud. Clinton entered this action as a defendant and a counter-claimant. Clinton asserted that he had never signed the masters over to Boladian, Montes, APF or anyone. A document expert who examined the five documents purported to be the assignment papers, declared that two of them were obvious cut-and-paste forgeries. He examined copies of the originals that have never been placed in evidence in any court.  Meanwhile the Funkadelic masters, originally released by Warner Bros. Records in the late 1970s, had been released by Priority Records which is currently owned by Capitol-EMI.  This decision marks the beginning of a major effort on the part of George Clinton Enterprises to regain control over properties which belong to him and to expose the history of exploitation that has characterized his experience.




Essence Fest Holds Empowerment Seminars

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(June 7, 2005) *The Coca-Cola Presents the 2005 Essence Music Festival’s Empowerment Seminar Series will feature a line-up of renowned speakers, authors and national leaders, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center July 1-3 in New Orleans. Organizers hope it will serve as a daytime complement to the Festival’s evening concerts at the Louisiana Superdome.  The magazine’s editorial director Susan L. Taylor will host the entire series, which includes a gospel music celebration for festivalgoers. This year’s theme “Claiming a Powerful Life” will provide three days of Empowerment including:

Friday, July 1

“Embracing Our Brothers,” hosted by nationally renowned playwright David Talbert The New Voices of Gospel winner. Keynote address from Bishop Noel Jones, pastor of the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, CA. Author and activist Kevin Powell will address “The State of Black Men in America.” “Black Men Speak Their Hearts,” with panellists Reverend Conrad Tillard, interim pastor of the Eliot Congregational Church of Roxbury in Boston; Dr. Carl Bell, author, president and CEO of Community Mental Health Council and Foundation; actor and choreographer Darrin Henson; and New Orleans radio personality Guy Black will serve as moderator. Dr. Cornel West, Princeton professor, theologian, activist and author will deliver a keynote address.

David Talbert will present an original play that will highlight Essence’s year-long Take Back the Music Campaign, featuring actress Lyn Talbert and actors Mel Jackson, Chico Benymon, and Buddy Lewis. Introduction by Michaela Angela Davis, ESSENCE executive fashion and beauty editor and a Take Back the Music committee member. Musical performance by Gospel artist Micah Stampley.

Saturday, July 2

“Celebrating Ourselves: Love, Money and Community,” hosted by minister and author Reverend Marcia L. Dyson A fitness workout with actress, and lifestyle adjustment coach A.J. Johnson of the AJ Zone.  “Building Wealth” Introduction by author Dr. Dennis Kimbro, panellists include: entrepreneur who became a millionaire by 15 years-old, Farrah Gray; financial counsellor Glinda Bridgforth; ESSENCE senior writer Audrey Edwards; and ESSENCE finance and careers editor Lena Sherrod will serve as the moderator. Musical performance by mother-and-daughter gospel duo Karen Clark Sheard and Kierra “Kiki” Sheard.

“Reflections” Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell reflects on life and love.

“Women in Love and Empowered,” the Festival’s most popular seminar, will examine relationships with significant others and will feature: comedienne Mo’Nique; author Dr. Julia Hare; author and Professor of American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz Dr. Tricia Rose; hip-hop artist Mia X; ESSENCE contributing writer, Kristal Brent Zook; boxing champion Laila Ali; and author and public relations expert Terrie Williams will serve as moderator. Iyanla Vanzant will deliver an inspirational message.

Sunday, July 3

“Spirit on High,” hosted by Reverend Andriette Earl.  Elder Debra Morton, co-pastor of the Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans and the Greater St. Stephen Choir will offer worship service. Inspirational message from Pastor Paula White, co-pastor of Without Walls International Church Musical performance by Gospel sensation Kim Burrell. Earvin “Magic” Johnson will offer a testimonial. Keynote address from Michael Eric Dyson, minister, author and commentator.

The Convention Center is also home to the Essence Marketplace, which presents artists from around the country displaying an array of arts and crafts reflecting black culture. There will also be an offering of the city’s famous cuisine, along with sponsor activities, festival souvenirs and a book fair with author signings.




Legal Online Music Stores Gain On Illegal Services

Source:  MetroNews By Adam Pasick

(June 7, 2005) LONDON (Reuters) - Legal online music stores have gained a solid foothold against free file-sharing networks, according to new data released on Tuesday. The beleaguered music industry has been pursuing a carrot and stick strategy of supporting legal alternatives such as Apple's iTunes, RealNetworks's Rhapsody and Napster, while filing a barrage of lawsuits against people and services that share music illicitly online. According to data from market research firm NPD Group Inc, the efforts are bearing fruit: iTunes has surged to a tie for second place as the most popular online music source, with 1.7 million U.S. households downloading at least one song in March. That put it neck and neck with the peer-to-peer service LimeWire and slightly behind another P2P service, WinMX, which has 2.1 million households. Napster came in at No. 7 and the Real Player store -- now part of Real's Rhapsody service -- at No. 9 behind P2Ps including Kazaa and BearShare. Napster and Rhapsody's "all you can eat" subscription plans were not included in the rankings. "One of the music industry's questions has been when will paid download stores compete head-to-head with free P2P download services," said Russ Crupnick, president of the NPD's Music and Movies division.

"That question has now been answered. iTunes is more popular than nearly any P2P service, and two other paid digital music offerings have also gained a level of critical mass." While teens have flocked to free peer-to-peer services, the study found that older users have embraced legal online services due to the threat of lawsuits from the music industry. The average consumer buying music online was 33 years old. "Legal services offer some obvious advantages: they're spyware free, and it's very quick and easy to get what you want," said NPD's Isaac Josephson. "The older, more affluent demographics are already a bit more inclined to go for convenience over free, and when you raise the legal issues that's an important tipping point." About 4 percent of Internet-enabled U.S. households used a legal online music store in March, according to NPD. The study did not include the world outside the United States, where legal online music stores have been slower to launch. Apple announced last month it would open iTunes stores in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, although it has yet to launch in Japan, the world's second-biggest music market. NPD's study was based on observing the computer behaviour of the panel participants rather than interviewing them. "It's observational research, so we can actually see what's going on," said Josephson. "If you ask a 14-year-old kid, 'have you used a P2P service', he's not likely to be entirely truthful."




BMI to Honour Gap Band

Excerpt from

(June 3, 2005) *Members of legendary soul/funk group the Gap Band will be honoured as BMI Icons at the performing rights organization's 5th annual Urban Awards gala ceremony and dinner, to be held Aug. 26 at Club Tropigala at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resorts & Towers in Miami.  Members Charlie Wilson and his brothers Ronnie and Robert will be saluted with an all-star musical tribute and celebrated for their role as one of the most influential groups in R&B history. Songs like "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," "Party Train," "Burn Rubber," "Oops Upside Your Head," "Early in the Morning" and "Outstanding" rank as some of the most sampled tracks in urban music.




Babyface Tour

Excerpt from

(June 3, 2005) *Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds will hit the road this summer for a string of solo gigs as well as dates with Anita Baker. The cross-country trek will support his ninth album “Grown & Sexy,” due July 26 via Arista. The tour dates are as follows: June 23 at San Diego, CA’s Viejas Casino; June 25 at  Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl (w/Anita Baker);  July 16 at Detroit’s Auburn Hills Palace (w/Anita Baker); July 17 at Indianapolis, IN’s American Legion Mall (Black Expo); July 21 at Mashantucket, CT’s Foxwoods Casino; July 22 at Atlantic City’s Music Box at Borgata Casino; July 23 at Wantagh, NY’s Jones Beach Amphitheater (w/Anita Baker); July 28 at St. Louis, MO’s Pagent Theatre; July 29 at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theatre; July 30  at Chicago’s United Center (w/Anita Baker).




Benefit Bash To Celebrate B.B. King's 80th

Excerpt from - By Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

(June 3, 2005) B.B. King will celebrate his approaching 80th birthday with a multi-artist blues concert in Mississippi that will benefit the planned B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. King, who will turn 80 in September, will headline the July 30 show at the Isle of Capri's Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi.   Also on the bill will be Deborah Coleman, Bobby Blue Bland, Smokin' Joe Kubek, Jody Williams and Dickey Betts. King will close the show with his own set and a jam that will include all of the artists.   In addition to the concert, the event will include a video presentation with messages from many of King's notable friends and colleagues and a silent auction.  Tickets for the show go on sale July 1 via Ticketmaster. Proceeds will benefit the B.B. King Museum, a $10 million project that will not only honour King, but work to preserve the Delta blues heritage and encourage young artists. A June 10 ceremonial groundbreaking is scheduled for the museum's physical home in Indianola, Miss.   King, who last month won the W.C. Handy Awards entertainer of the year honour for the seventh consecutive year, is in the midst of a tour that last night (June 2) played his namesake nightclub in New York's Times Square. The U.S. leg of the run will close with Mississippi Homecoming shows June 10 in Indianola and June 11-12 in Pickens, Miss. A European run will open June 23 in Groningen, The Netherlands, and close June 14 in Rome.   He'll be back on the road in the late summer for the annual run of the B.B. King Blues Festival, slated to open Aug. 3 in San Diego. Later this year, he'll release a long-awaited duets album through Universal Music with Van Morrison, U2, Sting and Elton John all confirmed to appear.




Morissette to sing U.S. anthem before NBA game

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Jun. 6, 2005) NEW YORK (CP) — Canadian Alanis Morissette, who became a U.S. citizen earlier this year, will sing the American anthem before Game 1 of the NBA final Thursday.  It will be the Ottawa native's first televised performance of the anthem since she gained U.S. citizenship.  On Sunday, Morissette was formally inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame tribute in Toronto.  Morissette will follow Will Smith's performance of his single Switch and the player introductions.  Kelly Clarkson will perform the U.S. anthem before Game 2 while Stevie Wonder will sing both the anthem and his new single So What The Fuss before Game 3.




MC Lyte To Release Book Of Poetry

Excerpt from

(June 7, 2005) *Now that she’s told everyone to “Bust a Tunic” in a recent Old Navy campaign, Brooklyn’s own MC Lyte is hosting a release party for her new book “Just My Take,” a collection of poems and words of inspiration from the veteran rapper. “Every morning I'd wake with the anticipation of writing down whatever moved me,” says Lyte. “Throughout my career I have been inspired by young people across America to speak up and out – and now it's my turn to hopefully inspire and motivate them at a time when few emcees are willing to give words of advice.” The lyrical legend will promote the book during a kick-off release party and signing on June 24, with subsequent book signings on the following two days.  For more information please visit




TLC’S ‘R U The Girl’ TV Series Sets A Date

Excerpt from

(June 7, 2005) *For the past several months, T-Boz and Chilli of the group TLC have been scouring the country in search of a third singer compatible enough to join them on an upcoming project.  Footage of the entire process will begin airing on UPN July 27 in nine hour-long episodes, with a live finale to feature T-Boz and Chilli choosing a winner. According to a UPN release, the show blends comedy and reality as it follows the girls on a journey filled with emotion, surprises and special guests.  For nine weeks, T-Boz and Chilli work closely with the diverse group to find the one with the right chemistry.  The winner will get to perform with them for the first time during the live finale, and will record a single with the ladies. Both T-Boz and Chilli have assured fans that the winner of the contest is not meant to replace late former member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. The show is meant to serve as a new beginning for the remaining members and their fans.




Braxton’s Back And Balanced

Excerpt from

(June 7, 2005) *Toni Braxton will return in September with a new album entitled “Libra,” via Blackground.  The Scott Storch-produced first single, "Please," topped Billboard's Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart last week and debuts this week at No. 78 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs tally. A video for the track will be shot with director Chris Robinson.




Keith Sweat Hits The Road For Summer Tour

Excerpt from 

(June 8, 2005) *The finalized schedule for Keith Sweat’s 20-city “Summer Sweat Tour” was announced Monday by JDP Productions.  The R&B crooner begins the journey in Jacksonville, Florida on July 7 and will roll through such cities as Miami, Washington, Nashville, Phoenix and Kansas City before wrapping Sept. 17 in Milwaukee. The tour also includes pop/SOCA sensation Elvis White and “special guests.”





Tuesday, June 7, 2005

 Black Eyed Peas, Monkey Business, A&M
 Al Green, Simply Beautiful: The Love Songs, Crimson Productions
 Chicago, Chicago Live [Platinum], Platinum Disc
 D-Money, Heist, First Love
 Ike & Tina Turner, Rockin' and Rollin' [Prism Leisure], Prism Platinum
 Ike & Tina Turner, Very Best Of, Prism Platinum
 Jethro Tull/Ian Anderson, Collector's Edition, Fuel 2000
 Jodeci, Back to the Future: The Very Best of Jodeci [Clean, Universal
 Jodeci, Back to the Future: The Very Best of Jodeci, Universal
 Lou Rawls, Amen, Prism Platinum
 Marvin Gaye, Nothing Like the Real Thing, Prism Platinum
 Mary Wells, Mary Wells [Platinum Disc], Platinum Disc
 Pat Benatar, Greatest Hits, Capitol
 Raheem DeVaughn, Love Experience, Jive
 Ray Charles, In Concert: I Can't Stop Loving You, Blaricum
 Seal, Live in Paris [CD & DVD], Warner Brothers
 Seal, Seal [1991] [CD & DVD}, Warner Brothers
 Seal, Seal [1994] [CD & DVD], Warner Brothers
 Simon and Garfunkel, Essential Simon and Garfunkel [France Bonus Tracks, Sony International
 The Chi-Lites, Chi-Lites [Platinum Disc], Platinum Disc
 The Drifters, 16 Greatest Hits [Passport Audio], Passport Audio
 The Drifters, Collection [Prism], Prism Platinum
 The Everly Brothers, Everly Brothers [Platinum], Platinum Disc
 The Everly Brothers, Walk Right Back: 20 All-Time Hits [Prism Leisure], Prism Platinum
 The Ohio Players, Ohio Players [Platinum Disc], Platinum Disc
 Various Artists, 20 Soul Classics-Move on Up, Prism Platinum
 Various Artists, Classic Soul Ballads, Time Life
 Various Artists, Let's Hear It for the Girls, Crimson Productions
 Various Artists, Northern Soul, Vol. 2, Crimson Productions
 Various Artists, Soul Divas, Crimson Productions
 Various Artists, Soul for the Midnight Hour, Crimson Productions







George Chuvalo: Pulling No Punches

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Brad Wheeler

(June 3, 2005) They called James Braddock the Cinderella Man, and made a movie of his life. They called George Chuvalo the Washerwoman, and, well, as far as boxing films go, that title doesn't have much of a ring to it. In 2003, the National Film Board released The Last Round, a feature documentary about the Toronto boxer's 1966 bout with Muhammad Ali, but Chuvalo's full life is probably a biopic to be made. Neither he nor Braddock is alone in that respect. To start with, there is great drama in humans striking each other for a living. Then, there is the common narrative -- hardscrabble brawlers rising from rough origins, and often falling back hard.  "Any fighter who's had a tough time, coming up the ranks, could identify with the film," Chuvalo says over the phone, commenting on the parallels to his life and Braddock's. "I had a lot of tough times, paying the rent -- I scuffled." In Ron Howard's Cinderella Man, there is a scene in which the famished Irish-American boxer Braddock gobbles down a bowl of hash, just minutes before a big fight. Same too for the working-class Chuvalo, a tough-guy, Toronto-raised son of immigrants. He once sold the complimentary tickets he was given for one of his own fights to buy some food. "Just to stay alive." Chuvalo, presumably, is better fed these days. Days before his induction into Canada's Walk of Fame (an annual ceremony that celebrates the artistic and athletic achievements of famous Canadians), he comments on an honour that initially struck him as "a little odd. " He had assumed that the stars on the sidewalk went only to actors and musicians, but was later alerted to the fact that a few hockey players had been recognized. "I'll be the only athlete in there that can't skate," the 67-year-old former Canadian heavyweight champion says, with a raspy chortle. "I'm a lousy Canadian that way."

Chuvalo is not so lousy, but some awfully lousy things have happened to him and his family. His wife and one son committed suicide, and he lost two other sons in drug-related deaths. These days he lectures, speaking to youngsters about drug use and the ruthless effect it had on his family. People do cheer for Chuvalo, and he believes the blows he took in his personal life have as much to do with that as the blows he exchanged in the ring. "It makes it easy for people to feel for me, in light of what's happened to my family, you know." Twenty-six years after his final bout, Canadians still root for the tough-luck underdog. The Canadian Boxing Federation, according to Chuvalo, stripped him of his title in 1978. The star on the sidewalk will be tougher to take away. George Chuvalo is to be inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto on Sunday. Other inductees are Paul Anka, Michael Cohl, Pierre Cossette, Rex Harrington, Daniel Lanois, Alanis Morissette, Kiefer Sutherland and the late Fay Wray. For more information on the ceremony, and on the CTV broadcasts of the event Sunday and Monday nights, see




Boxer Flick Looks Like The Year's First Guaranteed Best Picture Oscar Nominee

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Jun. 3, 2005) Memo to Torontonians bugged by road closures for the Cinderella Man shoot:  It was worth it.  Ron Howard's Depression-era ode to second chances and noble contests, filmed here last summer, is not just another boxing movie or just another picture.  It's a completely absorbing and artfully made fairy tale that just so happens to be true. More than that, it's a real inspiration.  The story of never-say-die boxer James J. Braddock reunites Howard with Russell Crowe, who has the title role and who also starred in the director's A Beautiful Mind, the big Oscar winner for 2001.  The maturity demonstrated by both talents, particularly Howard, puts this film head and shoulders above their previous collaboration, and makes this the first guaranteed Best Picture nominee for 2005.  And that's before considering the movie's many other benefits, including a supporting actor turn by Paul Giamatti that is sure to make up for his Sideways snub, once award season begins in earnest next fall.  No less an authority than newspaper legend Damon Runyon, who coined Braddock's memorable nickname, is cited at the film's outset as proclaiming the boxer's story to be one for the ages.  The claim is difficult to justify at first, because the lean script by Cliff Hollingsworth and Akiva Goldsman establishes the scrapper's proletarian lifestyle and modest ambitions.  The son of poor Irish immigrants, born in New York City but later downsizing to New Jersey, Braddock is the picture of the small-time palooka.  He's good at bashing in faces, with a lethal right hand that makes up for a lazy left, and he mainly just wants to win enough prize fights to feed his wife Mae (Renée Zellweger) and their three children Jay, Rosemarie and Howard (Connor Price, Ariel Waller and Patrick Louis).  When we meet Braddock in 1929, he's doing just fine taking on all comers, despite an injury to his striking hand that never seems to heal properly or quickly enough. His loyal manager Joe Gould (Giamatti) assures him that it's only a matter of time before greatness comes: "You're going to get your shot."  Braddock has never been knocked out, in dozens of matches.

But the stock market crashes, the Dirty Thirties begin, and by 1934 Braddock and his family have been humbled, along with the rest of America. Braddock is no longer winning fights, his right hand is now a liability and he's not earning enough to put milk in the fridge or even to keep the lights on.  He gets what work he can find unloading cargo on the New York docks, but it's not enough and the indignities continue to mount. He's reduced to taking welfare money, a hard thing for a proud man to accept. Braddock hits rock bottom when it seems he might never fight again, and has to beg for money from the same men he used to proudly box for.  There's a risk of Cinderella Man turning into a simple tearjerker, but it is never allowed to become that. A scene where Braddock scolds his older son Jay for stealing a salami roll from a butcher demonstrates how nimbly Howard and his team avoid the usual hoary clichés of the good man laid low.  When Braddock and Jay meekly return the salami to the butcher, no words are spoken. The butcher doesn't respond with a lecture, or even a free piece of meat to prove he's not such a bad guy. Other filmmakers would pump this scene for pathos. Howard just lets it go, and it feels all the more real.  When Braddock's luck finally starts to turn, and comeback bouts beckon, life doesn't get much easier for him. He knows he's considered cannon fodder by younger fighters and he's expected to hit the mat quickly and quietly.  When that doesn't happen, he becomes a liability for fight promoter Jimmy Johnston (Bruce McGill), who can't abide a "bum" like Braddock moving up the ranks. When it seems Braddock might rally enough to challenge Max Baer (Craig Bierko), the world heavyweight champ, Johnston and the arrogant Baer both do what they can to bully Braddock and to terrify his family — an easy thing to do, since the massive Baer has already killed two men with his ferocious jabs.  Braddock won't budge.  "Just let me take them in the ring," he tells Mae. "At least I know who's hitting me."  It is easy to take Russell Crowe for granted, since he is a superb actor and he never fails to tell us just how great he is. But this time he's downright marvellous, not only the spitting image of Braddock but undeniably authentic in portraying a man who has everything to fight for and nothing to lose.  He is superbly matched with Giamatti, equally believable as manager and motivator Joe Gould, whose expressive face registers every jab and dodge, especially when the big bout comes in the third act between Braddock and Baer.  Zellweger is also true to good form, although her role is a little underdeveloped — possibly a few scenes have been cut to keep down the running time, which runs to a long but justifiable 2 1/2 hours.  The supporting cast is another plus, in every role. Standouts include McGill as the cruel promoter, Bierko as the brutal opponent, Paddy Considine as Braddock's socially aware friend, who dramatizes the fight against injustice and the rise of unions.  Watch also for a pair of Canadians, Linda Kash and Nicholas Campbell, who in their respective roles of Gould's wife and an insistent newspaper reporter draw the spotlight toward them.

But perhaps the strongest player here is director Howard, who lets the camera move, the story roll and who keeps out of the way of both. By refusing to resort to cheap sympathy ploys, and for treating the fights like the action scenes they are meant to be, he's as big a revelation in the ring as Martin Scorsese was for Raging Bull or Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby.  Part of the credit also has to go to cinematographer Salvatore Totino, who casts Toronto's Queen St. E., Maple Leaf Gardens and The Bay's Queen St. store in sepia shades appropriate to the mood of the piece, making it seem all the more natural. Canada has never seemed so dark.  A quick Internet search or encyclopedia glance can provide the outcome of the Cinderella Man story, since it remains remarkably close to real-life events. As Seabiscuit was to racing, so Braddock was to boxing, both giving people something to cheer for in the worst days of the Depression.  But if you don't already know about Braddock, don't read up on him before going to the movie, although advance knowledge doesn't spoil the picture.  It's just that something this rare — an Oscar contender in June! — deserves to be experienced to the fullest.




Crash An Unlikely Success Story

Source:  Reuters News Agency - By Nicole Sperling

(June 5, 2005) LOS ANGELES -- Crash, a film about race relations in Los Angeles with a cast including Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon, did not seem the obvious choice for an early-summer success story.  But with the box office experiencing a slump this year, Lions Gate Films' pickup from the Toronto International Film Festival has become one of the season's few bright spots. Its success can be credited to a bold release plan, an emotional marketing campaign and an aggressive screening program. For Crash, written and directed by London, Ont., native Paul Haggis, has been able to do what few movies accomplish nowadays: It has attracted four very distinct demographic groups -- college students, upscale adult audiences, the urban market and females. The result has been ticket sales of $36-million (U.S.) in just four weeks. The film could gross as much as $50-million -- a number that might exceed the final domestic grosses of the expected summer hits it opened against: 20th Century Fox's Kingdom of Heaven and Warner Bros. Pictures' House of Wax. And it hit that mark in an unconventional manner for a specialty film: by opening wide in the early summer instead of taking the more traditional route of opening in New York and Los Angeles in the fall, gaining traction through word-of-mouth and expanding to a critical mass just in time for Academy Awards consideration.

"Fall is a season when a lot of highbrow quasi-commercial pictures get released," Lions Gate Releasing president Tom Ortenberg said. "We didn't feel the need to wait that long and then compete in a crowded marketplace." Lions Gate picked up the picture for $3.3-million in the fall and soon after pursued a wide-release plan. "We had great actors, a very promotable filmmaker and a lot of national press. We didn't want to waste it on a few city openings," said Ortenberg. The film was perfectly timed, in that Haggis was coming off his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Million Dollar Baby, and Cheadle was fresh off his Oscar-nominated role in Hotel Rwanda. In retrospect, a platform release could have killed Haggis's directorial debut. While the film received mostly positive reviews around the country when it opened May 6 on 1,864 screens, film critics at The New York Times and Los Angeles Times were scathing. "There was a lot of talk about a fall release in New York and Los Angeles, but there would be no conversations right now [about Crash] if we had done that," said John Hegeman, president of marketing at Lions Gate. "Our only bad reviews were in The New York Times and the L.A. Times."




Honeymoon Begins For Hall And Union

Excerpt from

(June 6, 2005) *It’s quite evident from her scene-stealing character in the “Scary Movie” franchise and stint as a no-nonsense litigator on “Ally McBeal” that Regina Hall has emerged as one of Hollywood’s true comedic actresses.  Gabrielle Union, having drawn laughs from playing the vindictive vixen in “Two Can Play That Game” or the mean, misguided sister in “Deliver Us from Eva,” is off-screen the most authentically funny human being you’ll ever come across. When word surfaced that both would star in a movie together, and that the film would be an all-black version of “The Honeymooners” to co-star Ced the Entertainer and Mike Epps, we could only imagine the shenanigans in store.  “The Honeymooners,” opening Friday, is a contemporary version of the 1950s sitcom starring Jackie Gleason and Art Carney as buddies Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton, a bus driver and sewer worker respectively who dabble in get-rich-quick schemes while their wives Alice and Trixie, played by Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph, sit back and shake their heads.  “Trixie wasn’t a character on the show that was necessarily fleshed out,” says Hall, who portrays the character in the remake. “I did certainly think a lot about trying to make the amount of time that she had matter, whether it was being funny or being supportive. I had a lot of thought of ‘Who is Trixie?’ because it wasn’t there when I watched a lot of the old episodes.” Along with the challenge of finding a voice for the character who barely had one in the original series, Hall was also worried about making Trixie’s relationship with the hapless Ed believable and distinct.  “Ralph and Alice have a very specific dynamic where they love each other, but they just never get along,” explains Hall. “I wanted Trixie and Ed to be that couple where you’re like, ‘They belong together. Who else would want him?’ You know that couple you see at a party and they’re over there having a good time, and he thinks she’s wonderful, and she thinks he is too, but not necessarily everyone else agrees, but you get it? I wanted them to have that different dynamic.”

For Union, nailing down the patience and calm nature of Alice in the midst of Ralph’s aggravating behaviour was as much of a challenge.  “I have zero patience for bullsh*t. I’m one of those people – fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I’m beating your ass,” says Union.  “And some of the roles I’ve had reflected that part of my personality. So I kinda struggled with [the role of Alice] initially, especially in a scene where she realizes Ralph took their money. I was acting like Lorena Bobbitt and [the filmmakers] were like, ‘Whoa, PG-13 here, kiddo.’ So I kinda had to pull back."  “I’m thinking about what my mom said when I got married,” Union continues. “She was like, ‘Sometimes you have to sacrifice a couple battles to win the war.’ I’m like, ‘I’ll win every battle, and the war!’ So I kinda had to take myself out of Alice and get back to the basics of the characteristics that make up Alice Kramden and not Gabrielle Union.” Having to learn patience for the role actually came in handy for Union when she went home from the set to her husband, former Oakland Raiders running back Chris Howard.   “It helped my marriage when I needed to show a little bit more calm and a little bit more restraint and not be the wife that had the knee jerk reaction to the toilet seat being left up or him forgetting tomatoes at the store,” she says. “Whereas before the movie, I had to learn - even on the screen - how to take things a little bit better. I kinda brought that home. Because we would be going at it in the middle of Target over a vacuum cleaner. Like, ‘I want a Hoover! But this one has the HEPA filter! Screw the HEPA filter!’ We’re like, ‘Why are we screaming about a flippin’ HEPA filter?’ But at that time, in that moment in Target, I needed to win the HEPA filter battle. And it was like, ‘What are we doing?’ So the film came along at the right time in my marriage, to learn how to be less knee-jerky.  And going through the process with Alice and with director John Schultz saying you have to show more of this calm, and be the Yoga-Bagger Vance-Confucius of the film, I was able to take that into my own house.” It’s no surprise that Regina and Gabrielle became close friends as soon as they met on set. Their tight friendship remains in tact, which Hall admits is rare.

“I think a lot of times people become friends on the set, but when you come back to your real life, it’s hard to maintain that friendship because you go back to your own friends and you don’t need each other,” Regina says. “So I think it’s great that since we’ve both come back to L.A., we both still keep our friendship up.  I think that’s kind of rare.” An aspect of Hollywood that has become less of a rarity in recent months is the appetite for remakes. “The Honeymooners” will have to share the marquee this summer with big budget reworkings of “Herbie the Love Bug” (in “Herbie: Reloaded”), “Bewitched,” “The Dukes of Hazzard” and the granddaddy of them all, “War of the Worlds,” starring Tom Cruise. Schultz’s approach to making an all-black version of “The Honeymooners” more palatable to the masses, according to Hall, was to avoid the mention of race. “They are black, but one of the things that everyone was conscious of in the movie was not to make reference to the fact that they’re black,” says Hall. “Let’s not make their blackness become a difficulty in getting the house. It’s not about racism. They just happen to be black, but the struggle isn’t because they’re black.”  Both Hall and Union continue to secure their Tinsel Town presence in upcoming roles. Hall is currently shooting “The Optimist,” based on a Russian play about a family of Russian immigrants whose home is taken over by two local car thieves. The film co-stars Lelee Sobieski, Shane West and Eric Balfour. When that shoot wraps, Hall will begin filming “Scary Movie 4” at the end of the summer.  Union, meanwhile, just wrapped work on “Running With Scissors,” based on the best selling book by Augusten Burroughs about a boy growing up with a bipolar mother. The ensemble cast includes such Hollywood heavyweights as Annette Benning, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brian Cox, Vanessa Redgrave and Jill Clayburgh. “I play a lesbian,” Union says of her role, which required her to share a kiss – and other things - with Benning. “My husband actually enjoyed me going to work, I have to say. That helped my relationship, not having to be half-naked with LL Cool J. or Morris Chestnut or Will Smith. Apparently, most spouses don’t really enjoy that.”




The Robertson Treatment: Mike Epps

By Chris Pryor - visit

Mike Epps is a very funny man. After making his big screen debut on the urban drama Strays in 1997, he resurfaced on a much lighter note in 2000 appearing in three films in that year ("Bait", "3 Strikes" and "Next Friday", respectively) which lead to roles on films like "How High", "Friday After Next", "Fighting Temptations" and "Resident Evil: Apocalypse". Suffice to say, Epps has been doing alright and this June, all eyes will be on Epps again when he returns to the big screen comedy opposite Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall in "The Honeymooners" -- a feature length re-make of the classic Jackie Gleason sitcom.    The comic turned actor recently shared his thoughts on colorizing the TV show.    "I'm not going to lie to you, when they came to me with the Honeymooners, I was like, 'Whoa! They want me to play the Black version of Ed Norton? I'm already Black," said a laughing Epps. "I've got to play my version of Ed Norton; this guy's an icon; people love Art Carney and he was hilarious."   There were only 39 episodes of the Honeymooners that aired on TV, but the actor didn't let this fact hinder his research for the role.    "I wasn't old enough to become a fan [of the TV show]," said Norton, who bought all of the episodes on DVD and "I'd watch them everyday - Ed Norton had Ralph Kramden heated all the time. So, I just picked those little antics up."   All of that said, it's not lost on Epps that his new film will be introducing Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton to people who might not have known the characters otherwise. "There are children out here who don't know what The Honeymooners is; that the film was [adapted] from a hit sitcom," said Epps. "They'd probably never know until they got older and say 'I didn't know they re-made that!"   Epps' career in comedy didn't begin with 2000's Next Friday; he started on stage as a stand up comedian -- he's been a featured performer HBO's Def Comedy Jam also -- which should give him an edge for his next big role: playing Richard Pryor in the upcoming feature length bio-pic that explores the legendary comedian's life.

"Daddy Rich tapped me," Epps said of the comic genius now stricken with multiple sclerosis.    "Rich communicates off spirit -- through the eyes. I was over his house one time and made him laugh -- I couldn't believe it. But I made him laugh not trying to [do so] -- Pryor burst out laughing and I went, 'Dayum!'   "His wife was like, 'I told you, he likes you Mike.' You can't be fake with that man. If I felt like he didn't like me [in the film], I wouldn't do it."   Pryor's health has dramatically reduced his ability to converse but Epps shoots straight from the hip when discussing his creative approach to portraying the comic.   "What I'm depending on to help me in the Richard Pryor story is that I have some life experiences myself. I've been on drugs, I've been in prison," Epps bluntly confesses, "I really know what it feels like to be hungry or an addict so I'm depending on drawing from that...That's my familiarity with him, the fact that he was a real person and where he came from."   He said seeing a man who made his reputation as being full of energy in such a state was difficult.   "I felt guilty, still do, a little because he couldn't really tell me how he really feels about me doing this. I wish we could push a button on him and he could just talk to me for 30 minutes," Epps said.   In spite of that, Epps reveals that connecting with Pryor yielded beautiful moments that he'll never forget.    "I talked to his kids -- they walked up on me [at a Director's Guild ceremony in honour of their father] and as they told me, they looked like him; it was like him in a woman's figure and him in a kid figure, they just look like Richard and everything," Epps recalled. "You know what's so wild? [Pryor's children] were like, 'man, we love your movies!' and I just thought, 'that's crazy.' They knew who I was even though I'd never met them."   "When you ask someone about Richard Pryor, they always say something negative. They'll say he was funny but they also say something like, 'remember when he caught on fire?' We want to cover the beauty of his life -- what made you really love him. Anybody can catch on fire, anybody can get hooked on a drug, that's regular life -- there's people in everyday life that go through that.   "What we're going to cover is how Richard Pryor was heroic -- that dude is a fighter," says Mike of the comic legend, "against all of his odds, he's still living."   The Honeymooners opens Friday in theatres nationwide.

The Robertson Treatment is a nationally syndicated entertainment column. For more information, visit




Actress Anne Bancroft Dies at Age 73

By Dino Hazell, Associated Press Writer

(June 7, 2005) NEW YORK - Anne Bancroft, who won the 1962 best actress Oscar as the teacher of a young Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" but achieved greater fame as the seductive Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate," has died. She was 73.  She died of uterine cancer on Monday at Mount Sinai Hospital, John Barlow, a spokesman for her husband, Mel Brooks, said Tuesday.  Bancroft was awarded the Tony for creating the role on Broadway of poor-sighted Annie Sullivan, the teacher of the deaf and blind Keller. She repeated her portrayal in the film version. Yet despite her Academy Award and four other nominations, "The Graduate" overshadowed her other achievements. Dustin Hoffman delivered the famous line when he realized his girlfriend's mother was coming on to him at her house: "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?" Bancroft complained to a 2003 interviewer: "I am quite surprised that with all my work, and some of it is very, very good, that nobody talks about `The Miracle Worker.' We're talking about Mrs. Robinson. I understand the world. ... I'm just a little dismayed that people aren't beyond it yet." Mike Nichols, who directed "The Graduate," called Bancroft a masterful performer. "Her combination of brains, humour, frankness and sense were unlike any other artist," Nichols said in a statement. "Her beauty was constantly shifting with her roles, and because she was a consummate actress she changed radically for every part."

Her beginnings in Hollywood were unimpressive. She was signed by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1952 and given the glamour treatment. She had been acting in television as Anne Marno (her real name: Anna Maria Louise Italiano), but it sounded too ethnic for movies. The studio gave her a choice of names; she picked Bancroft "because it sounded dignified." After a series of B pictures, she escaped to Broadway in 1958 and won her first Tony opposite  Henry Fonda in "Two for the Seesaw." The stage and movie versions of "The Miracle Worker" followed. Her other Academy nominations: "The Pumpkin Eater" (1964); "The Graduate" (1967); "The Turning Point" (1977); "Agnes of God" (1985). Bancroft became known for her willingness to assume a variety of portrayals. She appeared as Winston Churchill's American mother in TV's "Young Winston"; as Golda Meir in "Golda" onstage; a gypsy woman in the film "Love Potion No. 9"; and a centenarian for the TV version of "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All." After an unhappy three-year marriage to builder Martin May, Bancroft married comedian-director-producer Brooks in 1956. They met when she was rehearsing a musical number, "Married I Can Always Get," for the Perry Como television show, and a voice from offstage called: "I'm Mel Brooks." In a 1984 interview she said she told her psychiatrist the next day: "Let's speed this process up — I've met the right man. See, I'd never had so much pleasure being with another human being. I wanted him to enjoy me too. It was that simple." A son, Maximilian, was born in 1972. Bancroft appeared in three of Brooks' comedies: "Silent Movie," a remake of "To Be or Not to Be" and "Dracula: Dead and Loving It." She also was the one who suggested that he make a stage musical of his movie "The Producers." She explained that when he was afraid of writing a full-blown musical, including the music, "I sent him to an analyst." When Bancroft watched Nathan Lane and  Matthew Broderick rehearse "The Producers," she realized how much she had missed the theatre. In 2002 she returned to Broadway for the first time since 1981, appearing in Edward Albee's "Occupant." She was born Sept. 17, 1931, in the Bronx to Italian immigrant parents. She recalled scrawling "I want to be an actress" on the back fence of her flat when she was 9. Her father derided her ambitions, saying, "Who are we to dream these dreams?" Her mother was the dreamer, encouraging her daughter in 1958 to enroll at the American Academy for Dramatic Arts. Live television drama was flourishing in New York in the early 1950s, and Bancroft appeared in 50 shows in two years. "It was the greatest school that one could go to," she said in 1997. "You learn to be concentrated and focused."

In mid-career Bancroft attended the Actors Studio to heighten her understanding of the acting craft. Later she studied at the  American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women at UCLA. In 1980 she directed a feature, "Fatso," starring  Dom DeLuise. It received modest attention.  Among her notable portrayals: a potential suicide in "The Slender Thread"; Mary Magdalene in Franco Zeffirelli's miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"; actress Madge Kindle in "The Elephant Man"; Anthony Hopkins' pen pal in "84 Charing Cross Road"; feminist U.S. senator in "G.I. Jane"; the Miss Havisham role in a modernized "Great Expectations."  Despite all her memorable performances, Bancroft was remembered most for Mrs. Robinson. In 2003 she admitted that nearly everyone discouraged her from undertaking the role "because it was all about sex with a younger man." She viewed the character as having unfulfilled dreams and having been relegated to a conventional life with a conventional husband.  She added: "Film critics said I gave a voice to the fear we all have: that we'll reach a certain point in our lives, look around and realize that all the things we said we'd do and become will never come to be — and that we're ordinary."




Film Fest Focuses On Female Creativity

Terri-Lynne Waldron for Metro Toronto

(June 3, 2005) After witnessing a lack of support for female directors' works at other film festivals, Leslie Ann Coles decided to do something about it. "I attended a lot of international (film) festivals and I met a lot of female directors whose work was underrated," says Coles, director of the award-winning film In The Refrigerator. There were (many) more male directors and I kind of wondered if that was because women were not making films or that their films were not getting programmed." So Coles founded the Female Eye Film Festival, which intended to spotlight the creative female mind. The fourth installation of the festival runs today until Sunday at the National Film Board and other venues. The event celebrates the artistry of female-directed features, shorts, documentaries, animation, drama, comedies and music videos. Directors from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Iceland and Denmark will be on hand this year, including Deepa Mehta and her daughter Devyani Saltzman, Anais Granofsky, Ingrid Veninger, Gail Harvey and Eylem Kaftan and a host of other established and emerging talent.

And the festival has never shied away from inviting male directors into the fold. "Every year we get about one to three submissions that are co-directed or co-produced by a male and female team and I always try to include one of those films," Coles says. But she does believe female directors bring a unique perspective to their work. "They feature female leads ... ," Cole says, "not women in secondary or gratuitous roles. We see women who are multi-layered, diverse in terms of cultural representations, age range and socio-economic situations." The festival also wants to dispel any preconceived notions that the films only target a female audience. "Our tagline in the first three years was 'FEF Flicks Are Not Just For Chicks!' Just because a woman makes a film, it does not mean that she is making it specifically for a female audience," Coles says.  Visit for details.




Media Focus On Personal Life 'Misguided,' Brad Pitt Says

Associated Press and Canadian Press

(June 6, 2005) New York — Brad Pitt is taking on poverty and AIDS in Africa — and the tabloids. In an hour-long ABC Primetime Live special set to air Tuesday night (10 p.m. ET), Pitt talks to Diane Sawyer about the humanitarian crisis in Africa. "I can't get out of the press. These people can't get in the press. So let's redirect the attention a little bit," he tells Sawyer. "We have the potential to end poverty [in Africa] in our time. ... Man — I mean, what is more exciting than that? The potential's there. We gotta go for it." Pitt separated from Jennifer Aniston in January after 4 1/2 years of marriage. Aniston, 36, filed for divorce in March, citing irreconcilable differences. He calls tabloid speculation that his Mr. and Mrs. Smith co-star Angelina Jolie played a role in the break-up of his marriage "a good story." Says Sawyer: "But that's painful too. "Yeah, but, well, listen, let me speak from my experience," he says. "You know I've been in these tabloids for 14 years now. And at some point you just become a Zen master of it all."

He calls the media focus on his personal life "misguided," and denies that he wanted children and Aniston didn't. "Ridiculous ... completely fabricated," the 41-year-old actor says. "You know, you find that these stories ... will turn one of us into the good guy and one of us into the bad guy. ... Most of these stories, you get probably 2 per cent real fruit juice and the rest is just garbage with no nutritional value." Photos of Pitt, Jolie — who turned 30 on Saturday — and her 4-year-old son, Maddox, walking together on a beach in Africa were published in April. Did he know there would be cameras there? "You know, obviously not," he says. "I mean, it's an amazing fact, the bounty that's on my head and the lengths that these people go to get these shots and the amount of money that they're paying for these shots . ... I can't help but think what that money could have gone to. ... I would have set up the damn pictures myself." However, Pitt says he dreams of having a family someday. "Just feels like a natural progression," he tells Sawyer. "And, you know, anything to get the focus off myself. It's gotta be a healthy thing."






CBC Will Fall Upon Bio Flicks

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jim Bawden, Television Columnist

(Jun. 3, 2005) CBC-TV yesterday unveiled a fall schedule with more Canadian drama, part of a strategy designed to win back viewers who've drifted away to U.S. fare on competing channels. Highlights include TV movie biographies on Walter Gretzky, Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau's younger years, René Lévesque and Shania Twain.  Sunday and Monday nights will see two-hour special events under the umbrella title High Impact. But in a quest for higher ratings, the arts series Opening Night won't return until at least January 2006. Rick Mercer, meanwhile, gets moved to Tuesdays to avoid competition with CTV's Corner Gas on Mondays.  Nicholas Campbell takes his crusading coroner into Vancouver municipal politics in the spinoff dramatic series Da Vinci's City Hall. Coronation Street episodes will run every weeknight at 7:30. Cancelled series include Making The Cut, and The Newsroom is also finished.  "Canadian television is the world's most competitive," said CBC executive Richard Stursberg. "We're bullish on Canadian drama, which will increase by 50 per cent by 2007. We want to tell Canadian stories and these must be of high quality."  Stursberg says it will require imaginative new methods to find the money required for such a step forward. "We have to be the leaders in this — the place on the dial where viewers find out about their country."  CHUM's stations also announced fall schedules. New Canadian shows include the sci-fi series Stargate Atlantis (Citytv, Space) and Ice Corps (Space). New Canadian reality series include Bathroom Divas (Bravo!) and MUCH 911 (MuchMusic). New Canadian documentaries include Dark Pines (investigating the death of Tom Thomson) (Bravo!) and the 13-part series Shadow Hunter, about ghost hunter Darryll Walsh (Space).




Chin Resurfaces At Global

Source:  Canadian Press

(June 3, 2005) Toronto — Ben Chin, the former CBC journalist who jumped to the fledgling Toronto 1 station in 2003, is joining Global's national news team as a senior correspondent. Toronto 1, recently acquired by Quebecor Inc. after the collapse of the Craig Media empire, has cancelled its flagship current affairs show Toronto Tonight, effective July 15, as well as The Source, an entertainment show hosted by ex-CTV journalist Wei Chen. Toronto Tonight was co-hosted by Chin and Sarika Sehgal and was launched in September 2003 with considerable hype, although the channel quickly foundered in the ratings and was sold to CHUM, which in turn handed it off to Quebecor. In all, 20 employees at Toronto 1 were to lose their jobs, according to the Canadian Media Guild. "We're thrilled to have Ben join the Global National team," said Kenton Boston, senior executive producer of Global National. "Ben is an experienced, well respected journalist and news anchor, and is extremely popular with television viewers."




CBC To Increase TV CanCon

Sandy Garcia/Metro Toronto

(June 3, 2005) CBC aims to double its prime-time Canadian entertainment shows within three years, the public broadcaster said yesterday. CBC's fall TV line-up includes the Rick Mercer Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, This Is Wonderland and others. News  will also get a boost.






'Da Kink Is Surfing to San Diego

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Jun. 8, 2005) 'Da Kink in My Hair lives on.  After a groundbreaking 14-week run as the first Canadian production staged at the prestigious Princess of Wales Theatre, trey anthony's play about the hardships and joys of black women set in a beauty salon, will open the fall season at the noted San Diego Repertory Theatre.  It's thanks to acclaimed writer/director/choreographer Marion J. Caffey (Cookin' at the Cookery, Ain't Misbehavin') who was so impressed by 'Da Kink that he put aside a play of his own to accommodate it.  The New York-based Caffey was in Toronto earlier this year directing Ain't Misbehavin' at CanStage and auditioning women for his upcoming CanStage production Crowns, a gospel celebration of African-American women's hats, when Anthony walked into the casting call.  Caffey hadn't seen 'Da Kink, but he'd heard the buzz. The Mirvish production would have its run extended three times and be seen by 100,000 people.  "She had just received news it was being extended for the first time," recalled Caffey. "I said, `What are you doing here? You should be out celebrating.' I told her to get out. `There are plenty of actors around. We need more writers, especially black writers.' If I had (already) seen the play at the time, I would have thrown her out on her ass."  Not long after, at the urging of the Mirvishes, the director caught a matinee performance of 'Da Kink.  "The writing to me was enlightening, entertaining and inspiring. I loved the concept of the show and thought some of the performances were extraordinary. During the intermission I darted back to (the Mirvish offices) to tell them, `I love it. Don't give it to anybody else.'"  Caffey then called Sam Woodhouse, co-founder and artistic director of the acclaimed San Diego Repertory Theatre, where Caffey had launched Cookin' at the Cookery in 2003 and was in the midst of negotiations to premiere Black Magic, his retrospective about blacks on Broadway, this fall.  He told Woodhouse that a) he needed to see 'Da Kink and b) he'd let it take Black Magic's place.  "I thought it worthy," explained Caffey. "I think she's a better writer than I am and she deserves a run that, with a little tightening and refocusing, could make it palatable for a New York production."

Woodhouse flew to Toronto during 'Da Kink's final week.  "I was just knocked out by the power of the writing and by many of the performances," he said. "I think the piece itself, even though it articulates very specific challenges and dreams of black women, transcends race and even gender — and that, I didn't expect.  "For example, my mother at the age of 72 went on the Love Boat cruise and fell in love with a guy who is 78. She's an anglo from Southern California and my new stepfather is a white man (yet) that’s a direct echo of what happens with the Sweet Potato Pie Lady."  (The Pie Lady is the older 'Da Kink character who has a late-blooming romance with a next door neighbour.)  Woodhouse met the playwright anthony for drinks after the show. Soon he was rearranging his theatre's 30th anniversary season and she was applying for a U.S. visa.  It was an easy sell for anthony.  "I really liked (the San Diego theatre's) reputation for diversity and multiculturalism and it is close enough to get that L.A. buzz. And we can rework (the play) with an eye on getting to off-Broadway," said the ecstatic 31-year-old creator, who is also working on a new play (5 Kinky Womyn) and a novel.  "Every time I think this play is going to end ... I'm just going to enjoy the journey, because if it ends now it's been more than I ever imagined."  This weekend at the St. Lawrence Centre she is staging dat girl 'sho is funny! — the third annual Urban Womyn's Comedy Festival, featuring an all-female line-up of stand-up comics and spoken word artists. This year the proceeds are going towards 'Da Kink's San Diego run, which anthony is co-producing.  However, the West Coast move is bittersweet since it means paring down the production for the 550-seat theatre. And some roles will likely be filled by American actors, so more than a third of the Toronto cast won't make the trip.  "It's a very sensitive journey," said anthony. "It's like asking a mother to choose her best children; some of these women have been with me since the beginning."

Born in England, the eldest of three children of Jamaican parents, anthony moved with her family to Canada at 12. She was the family mimic, inspired by comediennes Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin and Joan Rivers. And 'Da Kink originated with Carleen the Dancehall Queen — a character anthony developed for a routine at Yuk Yuks monthly all-black comedy night, where she was the only regular female comic.  Carleen, a patois-spewing job seeker who kept putting off work to defend her dancehall title, morphed into Novelette, 'Da Kink's central character and comic foil played by Anthony. She is the boisterous salon owner who insists she can tell what is going on in a woman's life by touching her hair.  As she has through the play's incarnations from low-budget fringe favourite to TV adaptation to marquee theatre, anthony will play this central role in the San Diego production — much to Caffey's chagrin.  "I know she is hooked on this acting thing — it's not that she's not a good actor but her writing is better. One day I'm going to talk her into getting offstage and just go write. That's where we need her most."




A Marriage Beached In Stormy Jamaica

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Robert Crew, Arts Writer

(Jun. 8, 2005) Gloria and Jim are locked in a marriage that got off to an uneven start and now, 20 years later, is in urgent need of re-examination.  That's the situation at the start of Trevor Rhone's Two Can Play, a lighter-than-usual offering from Obsidian Theatre.  The play, now at the Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs, is set against the backdrop of Jamaica's political troubles during the 1980s. And as the gunfire and explosions get closer and closer, the domestic unrest is about to reach flashpoint as well.  The children have been packed off to the United States where the eldest is holding down three jobs and putting his younger brother through school. The solution would seem to be for the parents to join them in the Land of the Free.  The problem is how to get visas and the first act explores various scenarios while filling in the details of Jim and Gloria's one-sided relationship.  Jim expects his meals to be waiting for him and has "a little sweetheart" that he visits on Tuesdays. Gloria does all the dirty work.  Inevitably, therefore, it's up to Gloria to divorce Jim, travel to America and take part in an arranged marriage so she can obtain the visa that will eventually allow both to emigrate.  The twist is that Gloria returns to Jamaica a changed woman. Her adventures in Miami have forced her to become resourceful and self-dependent and, of course, she is no longer married to Jim. She makes it clear that he will have to court her afresh if he wants to become her husband again. The 20 years of "feed me" are over.

Two Can Play is a cleverly structured and acute little comedy that provides lots of amusing moments without venturing particularly deeply into the human condition.  Gloria and Jim are finally forced to communicate and discover some surprising facts about each other's sexual habits and needs.  But the author rarely heads towards the darkness; true, there is a potential rape situation but the whole tone of the play leads us to believe that Jim, selfish and unthinking as he is, would never actually do such a thing. As proves to be the case.  Karen Robinson is Gloria and plays her with meticulous detail, a shrug here, a sardonic glance there, fashioning a rounded and believable character. Robinson can be both fierce and tender and her comic timing is razor-sharp.  As Jim, Malcolm Xerxes' approach is broader and not quite as relaxed and surefooted. He starts slowly, almost diffidently, but gains in strength as the evening progresses.  Steve Lucas' set is a Ludo board that becomes its own mirror image— a metaphor for the changing dynamics that are unfolding within the marriage. And ahdri zhina mandiela's unobtrusive direction is deft and sensitive to the rhythms of the plot.  All in all, it's a solid production of a fairly lightweight, resolutely traditional comedy.




Magic Carpet Ride

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Jun. 6, 2005) I didn't just like it ... I loved it.  Antoni Cimolino's "summer of love" production of As You Like It, complete with songs by The Barenaked Ladies, is an explosion of pure delight that absolutely shimmers on the stage.  It opened Saturday night at the Festival Theatre to a cheering crowd and I'm willing to bet that's what it's going to be like for the rest of its run.  But it's not only a delightful piece of theatre, it's an important one. For years now, Stratford has been searching for a way to connect with a wider and younger audience without losing its integrity.  Sell-out crowds for classic American musicals may make the bottom line look good, but they ignore the fact that, once upon a time, people flocked here to see Shakespeare.  Let's get one thing straight from the beginning. If you're the kind of person who rolled your eyes when you heard that this As You Like It would be set in hippie garb and feature a score by the group who gave us "Be My Yoko Ono," you can stop your ocular aerobics right now.  This is a smart, solid, substantial production of William Shakespeare's script. It doesn't play fast and loose with the text; it honours it. The best part is to hear these wonderful words spoken with such clarity and comprehension by the largely youthful company.  On the other hand, if you were looking forward to a world full of psychedelic goodies and the kind of tuneful magic the Barenaked Ladies can create, you can relax as well.  Cimolino and his crew take us on a magic carpet ride back to a time when tie-dyed shirts and bell bottom pants could be worn without irony, while Steven Page and his cohorts have set Shakespeare's words to music as apt as it is tuneful.  It's a win-win situation. Everyone gets something to make them happy and nobody feels cheated.  Shakespeare's story of the evil Duke Frederick, whose repressive military court leads people to flee into the forest to seek an alternative lifestyle based on love, fits perfectly into that time when people were blowing their minds for peace instead of losing their bodies in war.  In the centre of it all is Rosalind, a true flower child. She's suffered painfully from her Uncle, the Duke and the bleakness of his Establishment hatred, so she seeks out a place where she can blossom and grow.  Sara Topham is our guide through. She starts out as a sweet, but melancholy wraith, buttoned-up in a schoolgirl uniform. But love and freedom release the spirit inside her and it's heart-warming to see the way she turns into a glorious young woman. Did I mention that she knows how to speak Shakespeare beautifully? She does.

As the love object who opens her heart, Dion Johnstone is a dynamite Orlando. He's got charisma, strength and a lucidity of emotional and verbal delivery that make him irresistible.  The melancholy Jacques sits at the heart of the story — a man who has seen it all and liked very little of what he's seen.  Graham Abbey, customarily a leading man, steps into a character role here with amazing results. In an appropriate piece of period larceny, he's co-opted traits from all three leading men of the film Easy Rider.  Abbey combines the aloof swagger of Dennis Hopper with the breezy charm of Peter Fonda and the mordant wit of Jack Nicholson. The combination is unbeatable and it provides the lynchpin that unites Cimolino's chosen period with Shakespeare's text.  Another winning performance comes from Stephen Ouimette, who conceives of the jester Touchstone as part Andy Warhol and part Tom Wolfe, a white-suited, white-haired dandy with a ever-ready wit who makes Shakepeare's jokes sound as freshly funny as if they written yesterday.  Praise is also due to Sophie Goulet's deliciously ditzy Celia, Steven Sutcliffe's touching LeBeau and Dan Chameroy's breezy Amiens, sings most of the show's delicious songs.  Designer Santo Loquasto has provided a quirky environment made up largely of umbrellas and stainless steel ladders which serves the staging well and allows his prodigiously amusing '60s costumes to stand out in all their glory. From Carnaby St. fops to trailer trash, Loquasto captures them all.  By the time Chameroy and his men swing into the unforgettably catchy "It Was Lover and His Lass" (with nifty period choreography from Donna Feore), you will be willing to throw everything over and move into the Forest of Arden with this totally winning company.  It's a blast from the past that points the way to the future, as well as the most fun you're likely to have this summer.  Don't miss it.




Tony Loves A Romance

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Jun. 6, 2005) Romance was the big winner in the Tony Awards last night in New York at Radio City Music Hall and broadcast live on CBS-TV.  Six Tonys went to The Light in the Piazza, a musical about a mentally challenged young woman who finds love in 1950s Italy.  The Lincoln Centre production was honoured for Best Score (Adam Guettel), Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Victoria Clark) Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Michael Yeargan), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Catherine Zuber), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Christopher Akerlind) and Best Orchestrations (Ted Sperling, Adam Guettel and Bruce Coughlin).  The biggest award of the evening, however, Best Musical, went to Monty Python's Spamalot, which found its creator, Eric Idle, falling to the stage in gratitude. Veteran director Mike Nichols took home his ninth Tony for directing the smash hit.  Spamalot won a third prize for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, which went to Sara Ramirez, who was poured into a strapless red gown that seemed on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction. She accepted her prize by thanking "Claritin and all of my doctors."  Another big winner of the evening was John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, which earned four major awards: Best Play, Best Leading Actress in a Play (Cherry Jones), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Adriane Lenox) and Best Direction of A Play (Doug Hughes).  Shanley's play deals with allegations of sexual abuse in a Catholic school and he wryly thanked "the Sisters of Charity for teaching me to read and write and the Irish Christian Brothers for kicking me out of high school."

The Antoinette Perry Awards have been given out for the past 59 years to celebrate excellence on Broadway and were hosted this year by Hugh Jackman, who undertook the same task last season.  The evening got off to a clever start with Billy Crystal (later to win the Best Special Theatrical Event award for his memoir 700 Sundays) appearing as though he were going to host the show and calling the evening "CSI: Broadway."  He was interrupted by a cellphone, which triggered laughter among the Broadway crowd, because Crystal has been severe about chastising the audience for cellphone interruptions during his show.  The call was from Jackman, trying to reclaim his place on stage and he finally took over to Crystal's mock chagrin. Jackman once again kept the evening moving smoothly, and stopped the show with a knockout showtune medley.  Later in the evening, he partnered with Aretha Franklin on "Somewhere" from West Side Story, a tribute to Stephen Sondheim on his 75th birthday.  Norbert Leo Butz drew warm applause when he won Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his scene-stealing performance in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  Other prominent winners included Liev Schreiber as Best Featured Actor in a Play for his portrayal of a Real Estate barracuda in the revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, which also won Best Revival of a Play.  The dark comedy The Pillowman won two design awards for scenery (Scott Pask) and lighting (Brian MacDevitt.)  The quirky musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee won two awards: One for Rachel Sheinkin's witty book for the show; the other was for Best featured Actor in a Musical. That award went to the plus-sized, shaggy-headed Dan Fogler, who earned applause when accepting his prize by proudly stating, "I won with this hair and this body. Be brave. Be different."  Political comments aren't very common at the Tonys, unlike at other awards shows, a fact noted by presenter Nathan Lane, who then made his statement: "I have a message for Saddam Hussein. For the love of God, switch to boxers."

The Award for Best Revival of a Musical went to La Cage Aux Folles, which also earned Best Choreography for Jerry Mitchell. Bill Irwin snagged the Best Actor in a Play citation for his performance as George in the revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  Albee won a Lifetime Achievement Award and made the most moving speech of the evening when he thanked Jonathan Thomas of Toronto, who died last month, as "My life partner for 35 years. He made me a happy playwright, which you have also done tonight."

The complete list of 2005 Tony Award winners:

Play: Doubt.
Musical: Monty Python's Spamalot.
Book of a musical: Rachel Sheinkin, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Original score: Adam Guettel, The Light in the Piazza.
Revival, play: Glengarry Glen Ross.
Revival, musical: La Cage aux Folles.
Special theatrical event: Billy Crystal, 700 Sundays.
Actor, play: Bill Irwin, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Actress, play: Cherry Jones, Doubt.
Actor, musical: Norbert Leo Butz, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Actress, musical: Victoria Clark, The Light in the Piazza.
Featured actor, play: Liev Schreiber, Glengarry Glen Ross.
Featured actress, play: Adriane Lenox, Doubt.
Featured actor, musical: Dan Fogler, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Featured actress, musical: Sara Ramirez, Monty Python's Spamalot.
Scenic design, play: Scott Pask, The Pillowman.
Scenic design, musical: Michael Yeargan, The Light in the Piazza.
Costume design, play: Jess Goldstein, The Rivals.
Costume design, musical: Catherine Zuber, The Light in the Piazza.
Lighting design, play: Brian MacDevitt, The Pillowman.
Lighting design, musical: Christopher Akerlind, The Light in the Piazza.
Direction, play: Doug Hughes, Doubt.
Direction, musical: Mike Nichols, Monty Python's Spamalot.
Choreography: Jerry Mitchell, La Cage aux Folles.
Orchestrations: Ted Sperling, Adam Guettel and Bruce Coughlin, The Light in the Piazza.
Regional theatre: Theatre de la Jeune Lune of Minneapolis.
Special Tony Award for lifetime achievement: Edward Albee.




Stars Celebrate Canadian Roots

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jordan Heath-Rawlings, Entertainment Reporter

(Jun. 6, 2005) For Kiefer Sutherland, it was a long-awaited honour. For Paul Anka, it was long-delayed by his own choosing.  But both the rising television star and the legendary crooner described their induction to Canada's Walk of Fame yesterday as coming full circle.  Sutherland, star of TVs 24, was standing on the red carpet outside the Elgin Theatre on Yonge St. yesterday, surrounded by screaming fans, hand-in-hand with his mother, Shirley Douglas, who was inducted to the walk last year. His father, Donald was added in 2000.  "In some points I've been incredibly lucky ... but I'm just incredibly humbled today. There's such an incredible talent pool in this country," said Sutherland. "It really feels like a full circle for me."  For Anka, who travelled the world and won his fame in America and Europe before making a triumphant return to Canada, the honour came at just the right time.  "I've turned it down for many years," Anka said after receiving his plaque. "The timing wasn't right, and there were personal reasons ... but it's come a full circle ... finally the time is right. You realize as you reflect, `Wow. What a journey.' And, `oh, how short it is.'"  Anka, who now resides in California when he isn't touring (his latest album, Rock Swings, hits stores tomorrow), said that even if he had little recognition in his home country for many years, he kept it first in his heart.

"It's always been at the core of my behaviour. I travel the world as a Canadian. I represent myself as a Canadian ... This is just amazing. It caps it off."  As the nine inductees (actress Fay Wray, who passed away last year, was represented by actress Helen Shaver) made their way down the red carpet on Yonge St. to a stage set up outside the Elgin Theatre, they were greeted with roars from hundreds lining the street on a sweltering afternoon.  In addition to Wray, Sutherland and Anka, inductees include singer Alanis Morissette, boxer George Chuvalo, musician and producer Daniel Lanois, music promoter Michael Cohl, showman Pierre Cosette and dancer Rex Harrington.  The star symbols that will eventually be imbedded in a sidewalk, however, were nowhere to be seen yesterday. A contest is underway to redesign the Walk of Fame and everything about the project's design — including its current location along King St. in the theatre district — is up in the air.  Instead, the stars got plaques bearing their name. Harrington promptly dropped his on the carpet, then recovered quickly by incorporating it into a short routine featuring a high leg kick and several toss-and-catches before being lead into the Elgin to tape a presentation ceremony hosted by comic Tom Green. It airs tonight at 7 on CTV.  Morissette, meanwhile, was reflecting on the decade that has seen her go from a pop singer in Ottawa to selling multi-platinum albums and enjoying worldwide success. As far as she's travelled, she said, she always remembered her native land.  "In all the amount of time I've spent away from Canada, I've noticed a real thread of continuity between Canadian artists. They're all very introspective," she said.  "But I'm very honoured today ... I've had so much support from everyone in Canada since day one ... It's an amazing opportunity that not a lot of people have."




Sutherland Fan Favourite At Walk Of Fame Bash

From Canadian Press

(Jun. 5, 2005) Hundreds of fans braved Toronto's first truly hot day of the year today to cheer and applaud nine more home-bred celebrities — from singer Paul Anka to boxer George Chuvalo — as they were formally inducted into Canada's ever-growing Walk of Fame tribute.  Red carpet arrivals in front of the downtown Elgin Theatre were carried out with all the glitz of a major Hollywood movie premiere. Organizers even had two blocks of Yonge Street roped off with bleachers set up for the crowd.  The other 2005 inductees included singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette, ballet dancer Rex Harrington, and three pioneers in the music industry: producers Daniel Lanois and Pierre Cossette, and concert promoter Michael Cohl.  Inducted posthumously was old-time screen legend Fay Wray, who was born near Cardston, Alta., and made 70 films in Hollywood, the most famous being the legendary King Kong. Actress Helen Shaver, who was inducted last year, substituted for Wray, who died last year.  But by far the fans' favourite was Jack Bauer himself.  Actor Kiefer Sutherland, star of the action TV series 24 where he plays anti-terrorist agent Bauer, joined his parents in posterity — along with Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas, they constitute the Walk's first complete Canadian acting family.  One young female fan sported a T-shirt that read "I'm having Kiefer's baby" while others were content to just squeal their love for the blond star.  "It's fantastic to see everybody come out and thank you very much for the incredible support, y'all rock!" Sutherland said with his mom at his side.  Asked how it felt to be joining both his parents on the Walk with their respective stars, he said it was a humbling experience.  "I've had so much support here at home from the fans and from people I've worked with over the years. I'm truly moved."  With a new platinum streak in her hair, Morissette observed that Ottawa was taking over the event, as she and Anka were being inducted and comic Tom Green was hosting the gala afterward, a telecast that included former prime minister Jean Chrétien in the audience.  She also told interviewer Ben Mulroney — another Ottawa native — that she might be getting an engagement ring soon from her actor boyfriend, Ryan Reynolds of Vancouver.

"I think over the next little while we're going to have to start talking about a wedding date."  Cohl, the man behind the Rolling Stones concert to benefit the city after the SARS health crisis two years ago, said he just had to help the city where he lived. And he had known the Stones for a long time.  "I was Keith's (Richards) bail bondsman when he got popped in the mid '70s and helped him out and that started our relationship."  Chuvalo said he first became aware of boxing in the 1940s, so his heroes would include Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson. As for comparing getting a star on the Walk of Fame to stepping into the ring with Muhammad Ali?  "This is much more lovey-dovey. This is much nicer. Far more gentle, for sure."  Harrington said getting the call to be inducted was amazing.  "My big joke was `Well I had a Gemini and an Order of Canada. Now I just need something to go with it to make it three.' "  But Harrington remains a seriously proud Canadian.  "I had never left the country. I had opportunities to dance abroad and in America but I always felt that I was happy to be Canadian and to be an ambassador and show the rest of the world that it's not just about hockey sticks and igloos. That we have art in this country."  For Ottawa native Anka, remaining connected to his Canadian heritage has been more difficult. In an interview prior to the ceremony he conceded there were years of bitterness between him and his former hometown where, as with many Canadian celebrities who left for greener pastures to the south, there was resentment over his success.  "Because I was the first kid out of there, I got hammered," he explained, describing his hurt. "Then I'd come home and it was like I was an alien . . . I laid low and never went back. I wouldn't accept going to these awards shows for many, many years."

But he views the Walk of Fame as part of a new attitude of pride toward Canadian showbiz exports.  "We've grown up and understand that we're important and what we export is good," he said. "We're part of the North American corridor. We're not just this little thing next to the United States."  The Walk — a stretch of star-embossed sidewalk snaking through Toronto's downtown theatre district — enjoyed a major leap forward in prestige in this, its eighth year. In all there have been four days of celebrations including outdoor screenings and concerts.  As well, CTV signed on to provide Canadian Idol-like pizzazz, from a televised gala hosted by Green to Mulroney and crew on the red carpet.  Unlike past years, however, the stars — flanked by Mounties in their scarlet tunics — did not actually unveil a sidewalk slab but rather a temporary plaque since officials are in the process of redesigning the Walk and the plaques are likely destined for a radically different design and location.




Pam In Toronto For Aids Benefit

Source:  Canadian Press - By Lorrayne Anthony

(June 5, 2005) Toronto — Pamela Anderson lent an element of stardom to Toronto's Fashion Cares AIDS benefit as she reminded Canadians to get tested for HIV no matter how safe you think your partner may be. “I think somehow AIDS has kind of been off the map a little bit lately,” Anderson said in an interview before taking stage at the Bollywood-Cowboy-themed gala on Saturday evening. “You should still be tested every once in a while even if you are in a marriage because ... you know ... infidelity,” said Anderson, looking like a glamorous girl next door in a beige blouse and denim capris, her blond floppy curls bound loosely in a high ponytail. “Get past the stigma because it's not a gay man's disease. Actually, women and children are the fastest group of people getting it,” she said minutes before donning a black evening gown to host the 19th annual Fashion Cares event. Anderson knows first-hand about trusting one's spouse. She believes she contracted hepatitis C from ex-husband Tommy Lee after sharing tattoo needles. But Lee, former drummer for rock band Motley Crue, has denied having the disease. “Even though it's never good news to find out you have AIDS, there is life after it,” said Anderson, adding that once you know you are positive for HIV you will be able to make choices to take care of your health and ensure the health of your family and loved ones. Anderson is also MAC Cosmetics' newest Viva Glam spokesperson, following celebrities such as Linda Evangelista and Christina Aguilera.

“Since Pam has been the spokesperson, we have raised $1.8-million — in just one month we had a 200-per-cent increase in Viva Glam sales,” said John Demsey, MAC president. For the last 11 years, 100 per cent of the sales of Viva Glam lipstick — $59 million — are donated to people living with AIDS/HIV. In addition to lending her name to causes, Anderson — a divorced mother of two — manages to drop off her children and pick them up from school. Her sitcom, Stacked, in which she plays a woman who works in a book store, has been picked up for another season and her second novel, Starstruck, is due for release later this year. Anderson — who turns 38 on Canada Day — refuses to be compared with Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch, and is happy to hone her comedic skills in Stacked. “I don't think I can let myself in a category with (Monroe and Welch), I mean they were beyond beautiful. “I'm definitely not becoming a serious actress (in Stacked) but this is the first opportunity where I'm not winking at the camera and I'm learning a lot from my co-stars,” said the former star of Baywatch and VIP. “But it's definitely a new avenue for me.” Anderson wasn't the only blond Canadian star to lend her name to the cause. “I'm usually a fashion felony,” singer Jann Arden, decked out in a David Dixon coat, said at a news conference.

“I'm really not known for anything except, of course, my sex tape that came out a couple of ...” she cracked. “Yeah, everyone's got one,” Anderson interrupted. “Yeah, but mine ... I was just alone,” Arden quipped. Despite earlier controversy surrounding the Bollywood Hollywood theme, the audience departed from haute couture's basic black and instead was a sea of colourful saris, salvar kameez and kurtha-pyjama suits. “I feel so ridiculously dressed,” said one gala goer in a black tuxedo with a deep red vest and tie — a dashing ensemble at almost any other event. One sari-clad Indian woman was mistaken for filmmaker Deepa Metha, until the man who pointed her out to his pal said, “No not her. The woman behind her in the black and white sari.” In April, when Fashion Cares went public with the theme and ads — one featuring a white woman portraying Kali, the black goddess of destruction — some members of Toronto's South Asian community were angered. But at the fundraiser, members of the Indian community welcomed the theme. “I don't see any harm in that. We do the same. We appropriate white culture for our benefit,” said Kumkum Ramchandani, a Toronto writer originally from New Delhi. “I think it's great and if it benefits Bollywood in some way, go for it!” When asked if she had ever seen a Bollywood movie, Anderson, a Ladysmith, B.C. native, was unsure. “Probably not. You know, I'm sorry but when I got here I was like ... you spelled Hollywood wrong.” “What's Bollywood?”




Toronto, U.S. Poets Win Griffin Honours

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Judy Stoffman, Entertainment Reporter

(Jun. 3, 2005) Charles Simic from New Hampshire won the international award and Toronto's Roo Borson was the Canadian winner when the Griffin Prize for poetry was given out for the fifth time last night at a candlelit banquet in the Distillery.  Founder Scott Griffin this year increased the value of the twin awards by $10,000 to $50,000 each, making them the most generous literary awards in English Canada, and for poetry anywhere. He also foots the bill to take the winners to several international literary festivals.  Simic won for Selected Poems 1963-2003, published by Faber and Faber. A Pulitzer prize winner, he is an English professor at the University of New Hampshire. Born in Belgrade, he came to the U.S. in 1952 at 14.  Borson won for her 10th poetry book, Short Journey Upriver Toward Oishida (McClelland and Stewart), which was inspired by the Japanese poet Basho and deals with themes of aging, mortality and the changing seasons. She's a member of the poetry ensemble Pain Not Bread.  "Poetry is the most difficult and demanding of the literary arts and also the oldest — it's not about to go away," said August Kleinzahler, last year's winner and emcee. He was cheered by a crowd that included Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson.  The three judges — poets Erin Maure from Montreal, Simon Armitage from Britain, and Tomaz Salamun from Slovenia — read 433 submissions, a record number.  Armitage, in a charming Yorkshire accent, explained that since the three judges were in different time zones, they often conferred at late hours by telephone in their pyjamas, a dress code he recommends since it engenders humility.  Griffin made his fortune manufacturing shock absorbers before becoming an evangelist for poetry — he can recite reams of it by heart. His prize has stimulated interest in the genre. Wednesday night, 830 poetry lovers went to hear the seven finalists read in MacMillan Theatre at University of Toronto.  The others were George Bowering for Changing on the Fly and Don McKay for Camber for the Canadian prize; and Fanny Howe for On the Ground, Michael Symmons Roberts for Corpus, and Matthew Rohrer for A Green Light in the international category.




Aiming Beyond The Game Boys

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Scott Colbourne

(June 7, 2005) LOS ANGELES — Today marks the launch of The Globe and Mail's expanded new-media entertainment coverage in which Scott Colbourne, who already writes a gaming column for The Globe, will track the trends and cultural implications of this burgeoning world.

The video-game industry is targeting your living room. If you're reading this paper in the comfy confines of that oasis of home entertainment, look for the crosshairs in the vicinity of the television. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is the gaming world's version of an international film festival -- a lot of business with a dash of art. At this year's show, held late last month in Los Angeles, executive after executive talked about expanding gaming's share of the entertainment pie. Here is a typical bit of bluster from Microsoft's resident prophet of gaming, J Allard, on that company's hopes for its next-generation home console, the Xbox 360. "Our revenues keep growing faster than music, than movies, than television. . . . But today we're relying mainly on one type of consumer," said Allard, a corporate vice-president who heads up the Microsoft division that provides game developers with software. "Now, don't get me wrong, we love that guy -- the 18-to-34-year-old male, he's the backbone of the industry. . . . But 360 is also the product that's going to push gaming back into the mainstream, the product that will fill that couch up with people from every demographic and every market." Allard has set a goal of having one billion people identify themselves as gamers in the coming years. Sony, which also unveiled its next-gen console, the Playstation 3, and Nintendo, with a mysterious new system to be called the Revolution, sang a similar tune to Microsoft's. While hordes of 18-to-34-year-old males walked the E3 show floor, the men who lead all three console contenders talked about reaching beyond that dedicated core with more games and applications for women, for the young and for the old. For those who don't dream in pie charts, the ramifications of these plans go beyond market share and the bottom lines of already flush companies. Played on increasingly powerful machines using high-density discs capable of storing a small library's worth of data, video games can now compete with films in terms of visual fidelity and the size and complexity of their virtual worlds. Anyone watching the demo of Fight Night that Electronic Arts showed off during Sony's press conference, for example, would be hard pressed to tell its digitized boxers from the real deal. The next step, say many in the industry, is to approach the depth of expression and emotional connection found in other art forms, such as movies and novels.

At E3, the clarion call on this front came from a somewhat unlikely source. Doug Lowenstein is the president of the Electronic Software Association, which represents the interests of video-game publishers and organizes the trade show. In a remarkable speech to open E3, he challenged the companies that pay his salary. He began by deflating an oft-repeated statistic that video games currently outpace movies financially. This is true of theatre box office versus game and hardware sales, he said. When you factor in DVDs and videos, the movies hold a substantial lead (for you pie-charters, films take in about $45-billion [U.S.] worldwide; video games, after 30 years in existence, rake in around $28-billion). He then laid out a plan for bridging that gap, not just in dollars but in artistic terms as well. "We need games with better stories, more interesting and complex characters, games that keep you up in the middle of the night wrestling with whether you made the right ethical or moral choices, games that stay with you when you're done with them," Lowenstein said. "We cannot let the lure of onrushing technology blind us to the essence of what makes games great entertainment. "Great entertainment, whether books, films, or games, must engage us on some emotional level." Lowenstein said there is also a need for simple games that anyone can pick up and play, but noted the financial reason why all this innovation is so rare in today's video games: When publishers have to pay millions of dollars to create a game, they need sure bets. Hence the large number of sequels and titles built around movie licences, such as The Godfather, Peter Jackson's King Kong and Scarface, all games currently in development and all showcased to much fanfare at E3. Those games have a ready-and-waiting audience, with fewer risks than venturing outside the genres -- war, sports and fantasy -- that currently dominate gaming.

Many developers say they would be happy with a larger audience, but, as Josh Holmes of Propaganda Games put it, "in the current market, success travels from the core out." Holmes spent years working for the world's largest game publisher, Electronic Arts, and recently co-founded Propaganda, a studio that Disney's interactive publishing arm is establishing in Vancouver. He says future innovation will have to begin with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, which all have a vested interest in expanding the current definition of video games and the number of people playing them. All three companies publish games for their various platforms. Nintendo, with a stable of popular characters such as Mario and Donkey Kong, is one of the world's leading game-makers in addition to producing hardware. "If Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo want to reach out to non-gamers, they need to make the games that lead the way," Holmes says. "It's going to come down to people taking risks. Games provide such a narrow vocabulary of interactive experiences and they tend to appeal to a very narrow audience who understand that vocabulary." All three companies have so far shown very different approaches to spreading the word about the next generation, which Holmes very succinctly summed up as E3 wound down: "Nintendo has said that it is not visual quality, it's play experiences; Sony is setting the bar for visual quality for the next generation; and Microsoft is trying to move away from the hard-core gaming crowd." To those ends, Sony showed off photorealistic graphics last week and highlighted the supercomputer-like power of the PS3, which will land a year from now. Microsoft hyped the 360's community-building features, including simple on-line games that can be played using a TV remote control, and said the next Xbox is expected by the end of this year. Nintendo didn't have many specifics about its Revolution, but it did add new vocabulary -- as in sit! stay! roll over! -- to the gaming dictionary with something called Nintendogs. Developed for the company's hand-held DS system, it allows users to create virtual puppy dogs and then care for them, teach them tricks and let them walk with other digital canines wirelessly. That game is already a huge hit in Japan, and Nintendo is hoping it and other creative oddities will translate into fun for gamers -- and non-gamers -- around the world as the next-gen systems begin to hit stores. All three approaches may work or perhaps none will, but the gaming world's emphasis on testing artistic and demographic boundaries guarantees an intriguing 12 months between now and the next E3.




Beatle McCartney Pens One For The Kids

Associated Press - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Jun. 3, 2005) NEW YORK—Move over Madonna, Paul McCartney is getting into children's books. The former Beatle has signed on to publish, High in the Clouds: An Urban Furry Tail, for the Penguin Young Readers Group, the publisher announced Wednesday. McCartney will team up with veteran children's book author Philip Ardagh and animator Geoff Dunbar. The picture book is to be released this October with a first print of 500,000 copies. "Having worked on this story and its characters for many years, it's very exciting for me to see things come to fruition in what I think will be a remarkable book," McCartney said.






Bottoms Up!  10 Best Butt Exercises

Source:  Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

If we were to look into the imaginary dictionary of honesty, we might find the following definition for the butt:

BUTT (but) n.

a. female...The body part that every item of clothing manufactured makes "look bigger."

b. male...What you slap when someone's scored a touchdown, home run or goal. Also good for mooning.

Did I strike a nerve?  I want to make your life a whole lot easier by giving you my 10 best butt exercises list. However, don't make the mistake of thinking that all you have to do is perform some of these exercises to get a great butt — it takes a little more than that.  To get a dazzling booty, you still need to follow the rules of a calorie-reduced diet to lose body fat, cardiovascular exercise to burn calories and strength training for the entire body to stimulate the metabolism and tighten your muscles.  If you're following the above guidelines, then the following exercises will help tighten and firm your valuable assets.  Some of the exercises may take the entire leg muscles into consideration, but there's nothing wrong with that. The key is to make an impact on the glutes so we change our butt definition to, "the body part that every item of clothing manufactured makes bodacious looking."


1. Walking Lunges — Stand with your feet hip width apart, grasp a pair of dumbbells with your arms straight at your sides, palms in. Take a large step forward and lower your body so that your front knee lines up with your ankle. The back knee is almost touching the floor. Push off with your back foot and take a large step forward with your other foot. Walk lunge 15-20 steps and then turn around and return to the start using the same form. You should contract your glutes on the lowering of each movement.

2. Extension Step Ups — Grasp a pair of dumbbells by your sides with palms facing the side of the body. Stand behind a 6 -to 12-inch high step (normally used in aerobic step classes) and keep your arms straight. Step onto the middle of the step with your right foot and then lift your left knee high (to hip height). Step down with your left foot, then repeat on the right side. This is a great one and you'll really feel it.

3. Bent Leg Reverse Kick Up — Start this exercise on your hands and knees on a mat. Raise your left leg up until it is parallel with the floor with a slight bend in the knee. Support your weight with your arms and right leg. While contracting the butt, lift your left leg up and toward the ceiling, maintaining a bend in the knee. Slowly return to the starting position. After completing the set on the left side, repeat on the right side. To increase the difficulty, you may want to add an ankle weight to the working leg.

4. Lying Gluteus Lift — Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your arms at your sides for support. Contracting the glutes, project your hips up toward the ceiling as you lift your glutes off the floor. Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of your glutes touching the floor. Exhale while lifting your butt, and inhale while returning to the starting position.

5. Smith Machine Rear Squat — I prefer free weights, but for safety reasons, a Smith machine will work just fine. Place the bar across the back of your shoulders. Be sure it's not resting on your neck. Your feet should be shoulder-distance apart. Lower the weight, keeping your knees behind the toes at all times. Think of sitting back into a chair and contract the glutes on the lowering phase. Stop when the knees are at a 90 degree angle. Return to the starting position and repeat. Inhale while lowering the weight and exhale while returning to the starting position. Do not let the knees ride over your toes (you should be able to see your feet at all times), and don't arch your back.

6. Cycling — Riding a bike is great for your glutes, hips and thighs. Get your glutes involved by leading with your heels when you push down on the pedals. On the upswing, pull up on the pedal (providing you've got foot straps) to make sure you're using every part of your legs during your workout. For brief periods, lift your butt off the seat and slowly pedal as you contract the butt.

7. Stepmill — This is one of my favorite cardio exercises, and it works the glutes with absolute precision. This machine is not to be confused with the Stairmaster. The stepmill actually has revolving steps and is extremely difficult. When I go into the gym these units are always available and the elliptical machines are unavailable — what does that tell you? Yep, it's hard, but it will turn your butt into a J-Lo look alike.

8. Running — I've never trained a female who didn't get a smaller butt from a running program. If you have excessive body fat to lose, then this may not be your best bet due to the stress it places on the knees. However, a gradual program works great for those who have less than 25 pounds to lose. Try to build up to 4 days per week for 30 minutes and remember to invest in high quality running shoes.

9. Leg Press/Feet High — It's amazing what a simple change of foot positioning can do. Try the leg press with your feet placed high on the platform. This simple change of positioning will activate the butt and hamstrings as well. Lower the weight until you feel the glutes contract. You'll definitely feel this one.

10. Ankle Weight Butt Blaster — Get on the floor on your hands and knees. Relax your shoulders and find a neutral spine with your head at a natural extension of your neck. Extend the left leg up with a 90 degree angle at the knee. Your foot should be parallel with the ceiling. Contracting the glutes, push your foot up toward the ceiling. Stop when your leg is at a full extension from the hip maintaining the 90 degree angle at the knee. Return to the starting position. After completing the set on the left side, repeat on the right side.

Whether you're a beginner or more advanced exerciser, incorporating some of these exercises into your program and remaining consistent with your eDiets nutrition program will grant you access into the world of tight tushes.   As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.




EVENTS –JUNE 9 - 19, 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.




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.  The party begins earlier next week – 9:00 pm.  Carl will be serving goodies from his bush grille for us to get some samples from his summer menu – not to mention the drink specials he’s got going on.  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