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Updated:  March 10, 2005

Is it me or has March been colder than February?  Not feeling it at all!  In any case, there's nothing cold about all the Canadian entertainment news below.  From an interview with Keshia Chante on a major U.S. site, Juno update, Jonathan Ramos appointment to BMG/Sony, a special honour for Ebonnie Rowe, Ben Johnson's newest venture - well, you'll have to see it all below!

Tons of Canadian news this week in every category.  Check out the rest of the entertainment news below - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll!  This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTS






Motivational Note: The Billion-Dollar Motivation Secret

Excerpt from

Imagine sitting on a tropical island, a cool breeze blowing against your face. In the distance you can hear the soothing sound of crystal clear waves rolling gently onto the shore. Peaceful feeling, don't you think? Imagine running full speed off the edge of a cliff, heart pounding in your chest, with a hang-glider attached to catch your fall. You sore through the air, seeing the world from a bird's eye view. You're on top of the world! Pretty exciting, isn't it? Imagine going through your entire day without a hint of stress, tension or worry. Everything goes your way and no one can get to you. Think about how life would be if every day went this way. Every day was free from worry and stress. Such a relaxing and happy picture. Something special happens within each of us when we close our eyes and imagine. We transport ourselves to better times, and forget, if only for a moment, the struggles of reality. We can even feel it in our bodies - the energy and excitement builds with the images of an inspiring future. This is the magic of visualization.







Keshia Chante: Internationally Known

Excerpt from - By Ashlene Nand

After wooing audiences up north, Keshia Chante has arrived in the U.S with her single “Bad Boy”, which is currently impacting MTV and BET, although it is her third consecutive hit in Canada. Yes, you heard right. This little lady has already had string of Top 10 hits, shot numerous videos - two of which were directed by Little X - and has a chart-topping album to her name.  It was only a matter of time before Canada became too small for her talent, but as everyone knows, America is no easy market to crack. In fact, not one urban act from our northern neighbors has actually managed to cross over in the United States, although Kardinal Offishall came close with his Neptunes produced “Bellydancer” as did Inessence with their club hit “You Will Never Find”.  With a dozen teen artists coming out every month under heavyweights like Jermaine Dupris and P.Diddy, will Keshia Chante be able to make her mark? Will she be able to put Canada’s urban scene on the map? Already off to a good start, this 16-year-old self-proclaimed Tupac fan lets Alternatives know that she is not here to play teenage games. Her plan for world domination has only just begun.

AHHA: There’s alot of buzz on you in Canada. How do you manage school in all this? I read somewhere that you choose not to have a tutor; you prefer to go to regular school.

Keshia: I just think that if you do what you really want to do, and I do love to sing, you’ll do whatever you have too to make it happen. I know school is important and I don’t want to loose it in all of this. So it’s pretty much balancing the two. It’s all about focus. I go to school usually from nine to three, and then I come home and get ready for shows. There’s usually dance rehearsals and stuff like that.

AHHA: How do your classmates handle your fame?

Keshia: It’s kind of weird. They are more shy with me than anything else. I guess that’s kind of a good thing though.

AHHA: They’re probably intimidated!

Keshia: Yeah, I don’t understand why! I guess it’s a good thing because it doesn’t distract me from my classes.

AHHA: Your schedule must be crazy considering there is so much hype on you at the moment and so much press. How old were you when you started?

Keshia: It’s really strange because the album came out when I was 16. I got signed to BMG when I was 14. I was shooting videos, recording and everything when I was 14. I did an underground joint and released four singles and three videos before the actual album came out. I’ve been working hard and doing shows all over, so I’m used to the hectic schedule.

AHHA: What’s your opinion of the Canadian urban scene?

Keshia: I’m definitely representing the frost side [Toronto]! There’s a very strong rock scene that overcomes everything else, but R&B is definitely rising up. Toronto is like a mini-New York, and the music follows what America does. So when you go off [that formula], there’s definitely a different outtake. But I think we’re growing - we are going to get there eventually. R&B and Hip-Hop have taken a huge leap in the past few years. We’ll develop our scene eventually…

AHHA: Why do you think no one from the Canadian urban scene has cracked the U.S?

Keshia: I think our formula is different. And I think population is a big factor. We have a lot of rock fans; the number one stations play Rock and Top 40. So for a Canadian urban artist to crack the U.S market, that’s a whole another level.

AHHA: Who are some of your influences?

Keshia: Oh my god, definitely Tupac Shakur. I was six years old when I first heard ‘Dear Mama’. I was at the back of my mum’s Mustang and I learned every word. I memorized it even though it was a five minute song. My mum’s friend wanted me to perform it, and my mum wasn’t sure whether she wanted me on stage. I did it, got a standing ovation and just that feeling, it was so much fun. From there I knew I wanted to be in music.

AHHA: So what’s in the future for Keisha? Is there another album? Are you pushing it internationally? What are your goals?

Keshia: My definite goal is to push this album internationally. I’ve been working on material for my second, third, fourth album [laughs] since I was little. The first album is still pretty new. ‘Bad Boy’, which was the first single in Canada, has just been released in the U.S. I was so excited when I saw it on BET for the first time!

AHHA: The relationship topics you sing about on your album, are they real life experiences? With school and music where do you find time to date?

Keshia: I don’t write about things that I haven’t gone through in my real life, but I do believe you don’t have to write everything on your album. A true vocalist does have to write every song on their album. A true entertainer can make any song real, even if they didn’t write it and never experienced it. They can sing it with passion. There are some issues that I have dealt with but there are also issues [on the album] that I can understand and can relate to. The ‘Bad Boy’ song is definitely real though!




Alexis Baró Recap -  The Richmond Lounge


(Mar. 3, 2005) It seems trumpet-man Alexis Baró has the technique and the elasticity of spirit to play anything. A recent arrival in Toronto from Cuba (2001), it is not surprising that he plays hot, hardcore Latin Jazz. But, he is best-known in Canada as a member of Archie Alleyne’s award-winning band Kollage, doing mostly hard bop material. Alexis’ own CD, Havana Banana, is listed in the top Canadian jazz releases of 2004. Like all certified Cuban musicians, he has successfully completed rigorous classical training, and is a graduate of the Amadeo Roldán Music Institute in Havana. He has experimented with other genres such as soul, calypso, funk and R&B. He has even played with the Temptations. Alexis’ band this evening was a very funky bunch including Tony Rabala on drums, Mike Sereny on keyboard (Yamaha Motif ES7), Jim Heineman on flute, tenor and soprano saxes, Dave Sereny on electric guitar and Calvin Beale on electric bass.

The group started warming up and jamming on “Born Again” with a seriously funky bass solo and everyone trading eights for a bit before going back to the top. “Wish You Were Here”, the third piece in, is an Alexis Baró composition, a ballad that starts off sounding rather like Medeski, Martin and Wood and continues in a cool hip groove with trumpet sailing over top. The next Baró original we hear, “Stolen Moments”, is coloured with R&B and soul. It gets some interesting treatment here, including a picked, spooky kind of run down the bass and a solo from the keyboardist using a flute setting. "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" closes the set at breakneck speed with a searing solo from Alexis and the whole band deep frying. I find myself thinking of Miles plugged in, although the two trumpet styles are different. “Carnival Can Happen Anytime” by keyboardist Mike Sereny opens the second set. Wade O. Brown joins in singing on the next tune, “You Don’t Know What Love Is”. While Heineman blew a tenor solo, Wade gestured with the flute, “please play this for me”. Heineman obliged and played a fitting, clear solo. The last three pieces are Alexis’ own compositions. “107 Armstrong” makes me glance over at a nice section of empty hardwood floor close to the bar, hmmm, this really makes you want to move. “My Little Groove” is an intense high-velocity piece, the type of jazz that always makes me think of driving but is not recommended in-car music—you might spin out of control. Drive, drive, drive, blow that horn, dart left, dart right, trumpet blast straight through, all move aside for the drum solo, keyboardist is off his stool. Repeated trumpet notes bringing all to a close, short long, short long and final volley. How do they follow this? “We’ll be Together Forever”. It starts as a slow ballad with a heavy groove. It morphs through rhythm and tempo changes and at times reminds me of Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life”. And the music’s over, it’s been a good night.

Given the variety of music I have heard him play, I am curious about what musical direction Alexis wants to take. Like all artists, what he would like is to go where his creative impulse takes him. He tells me he would like to do some big band work although he also enjoys smaller configurations like sextets and quartets. He loves to play with singers too. And he glows with enthusiasm describing the idea of a big band with a gospel choir on stage. He also mentions the difficulties of big bands; the expense of rehearsal halls, making enough to pay everyone and finding appropriate venues. For it to be worthwhile, you need to fill a big place. With his funky Latin jazz sound he’s been well received at the younger venues such as the Drake and Trane Studio, but so far, traditional jazz venues don’t seem to be as interested. We have so much talent in this city but the audience is not really that big. Alexis and I talk about the fact that when you live here, people say, I can go see him next week or whenever. Maybe they get around to it, maybe they don’t. Maybe they go see the guy from New York or Vancouver. If you do a show in Ottawa people will come out because you’re from Toronto. Same thing with Montreal. I start thinking about how people don’t appreciate you fully at home until you’re recognized elsewhere. If they liked it in Europe or the States, it must be good? What is that, a lingering colonial attitude? Come on people, get off the couch and live your own reality. Look for Alexis Baró, and go for a listen, you’ll be glad you did.




Additional Stars To Rock The House At The 2005 Juno Awards

Source:  Holmes Creative Communications

(March 9, 2005) As revealed last night on etalk Daily, and confirmed today by The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and CTV, Feist, Kalan Porter and Sum 41 have been added to the already jam-packed line-up of performances for the 2005 JUNO Awards, Canada’s Music Awards. The awards will air on CTV Sunday, April 3, 2005 from Winnipeg’s MTS Centre, in a now expanded two-and-a-half hour broadcast.   Bringing the total number of acts performing during the broadcast to 16, Feist, Porter and Sum 41 join previously announced acts Randy Bachman, Billy Talent, Burton Cummings, Fresh I.E., k-os, Chantal Kreviazuk, k.d lang, Nathan, Simple Plan, The Tragically Hip, The Wailin’ Jennys, The Waking Eyes and Neil Young.    “With these fabulous additions our line-up is complete for what promises to be a spectacular show!” said CARAS President Melanie Berry.  With her stunning second solo album, Let It Die, Leslie Feist has made a serious impact internationally. Her sweet, melodic pop is infused with subtle electronica, and she has proven herself to be a talented songwriter. Previously a member of the Calgary-based punk band Placebo and By Divine Right, Feist is also a member of the JUNO Award-winning Broken Social Scene collective. Feist is nominated this year for New Artist of the Year (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters), Alternative Album of the Year and Video of the Year.

Canada’s break-out star of 2005, Kalan Porter’s debut CD, 219 Days has gone double platinum while his current, 40-date tour is sold-out across the country. Classically trained on violin and viola, with a talent for guitar and piano, 2004 Canadian Idol Kalan Porter’s versatility is illuminating. His first single went eight times platinum and became the biggest-selling single debut ever for a Canadian artist, remaining on the top of Canada’s Singles Charts for over three months.   The unholy marriage of hook-heavy punk and bonecrushing metal has served Sum 41 well. Firmly marking their territory with debut album, All Killer No Filler, and sophomore CD, Does This Look Infected?, Sum 41 has sold over 5 million records worldwide. Their third album, Chuck, has spawned their first top 40 hit with “Pieces” as well as continued to spread their contagious rock sound. Chuck has earned the band 2005 JUNO Award nominations for Rock Album of the Year and Group of the Year.

Hosted by television star Brent Butt, The 2005 JUNO Awards, Canada's Music Awards, will be broadcast for the fourth year in a row on CTV, Sunday, April 3 from the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, MB. In April 2004, 1.51 million Canadians made The 2004 JUNO Awards the most watched show of the night. In all, more than five million viewers tuned in to watch some part of the star-studded special.  Sponsors for the 2005 JUNO Awards include FACTOR and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage’s “Canada Music Fund”, the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg. Broadcast sponsors for the event are General Motors, Pantene Pro-V, Doritos and Nice ‘n Easy. 

For more information on the 34th annual JUNO Awards, visit the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) Web site at

Web Links:
JUNO Awards:
Feist Web site:
Kalan Porter Web site:
Sum 41 Web site:




Hip-Hop Community Honours B.I.G.

Excerpt from - By Nolan Strong

(Mar. 9, 2005) The Hip-Hop community will pay tribute to one of the most enduring rapper's of all time, Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace, who was gunned down 8-years ago today (March 9) in 1997.  B.I.G.'s former DJ, Mister Cee will host a tribute to his Brooklyn, New York alumni tonight on Eminem's Sirius satellite radio station, Shade 45, while terrestrial radio will also celebrate in B.I.G.'s hometown of New York.  Rival stations Hot 97 and Power 105 are both hosting tribute parties to honour Wallace, who was killed when a gunman open fire on the vehicle Wallace was a passenger in. Hot 97 will host "The Official Tribute," with guests Junior M.A.F.I.A., Mr. Cheeks, Clark Kent, Mobb Deep, Jadakiss and others. Power 105 will host their 3rd birthday party along with a tribute to B.I.G. that will feature Faith Evans, 112, Keyshia Coles and an appearance by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. "Notorious B.I.G., Christopher Wallace was my friend and I love him," Combs said in a statement. "I miss him so much. He was a lyrical genius, a literary giant, a voice for people who aren't often heard and one of the greatest rappers in the history of hip hop. What people need to know about B.I.G. is that he was compassionate, humorous and generous."

Big was gunned down in Los Angeles, California after attending an after-party at the Vibe Awards. His murder came in the midst of a feud between Death Row Records and Bad Boy, which media outlets dubbed an "East Coast/West Coast" hip-hop war. Shakur accused Combs and his Bad Boy cohorts of setting him up to be shot 5 times in the lobby of a New York recording studio in November of 1994 and robbing him of $40,000 worth of jewels. Both Combs and his one-time rival and Death Row CEO Suge Knight have vehemently denied any involvement in the shootings and subsequent murders of Shakur or Wallace. "He [B.I.G.] shared the same problems growing up as many Black youth in America who are raised without fathers or understanding of what it means to become strong, productive and responsible men. Notorious B.I.G. and I both had to teach ourselves to become men." The shootings touched off speculation as to who may have orchestrated the murders of two of the most well known hip-hop figures in the world. Neither murders have been solved, but reports suggested that the federal government was still actively investigating the homicides, one which occurred on the Las Vegas, Nevada strip, the other in Los Angeles in front of hundreds of on lookers who witnessed the shooting. In related news, B.I.G.'s mother Voletta Wallace revealed that a movie about the life of B.I.G. was in the works. No other details are available as of press time.




The Life And Times Of Bob Marley: How He Changed The World

Source:  Rollingstone Magazine - (Excerpted from RS 969, March 10, 2005) Bob Marley was already dying when he stood onstage in Pittsburgh that night, in September 1980. He had developed a malignant melanoma -- an incurable cancer, by this time -- that he had let progress unchecked, for reasons that he probably could not fathom at this hour. He was a man with no time, with a mission that no one in popular music had ever attempted before. In the past few years, he had managed to popularize reggae -- a music that had once sounded strange and foreign to many ears -- and to convey the truths of his troubled homeland, Jamaica, for a mass audience. Now he wanted to find ways to put across truths about people outside Jamaica and America, England and Europe. He wanted to speak for a world outside familiar borders -- a world his audience didn't yet know enough about.  He wouldn't see that dream fulfilled. He would be dead in a few months, his body sealed in a mausoleum back in that troubled homeland of his. But something fascinating has happened since Bob Marley died twenty-four years ago: He has continued. It isn't simply that his records still sell in substantial numbers (though they do), it's that his mission might still have a chance. It isn't a simple mission. Marley wasn't singing about how peace could come easily to the world but rather about how hell on earth comes too easily to too many. He knew the conditions he was singing about. His songs weren't about theory or conjecture, or an easy distant compassion. His songs were his memories; he had lived with the wretched, he had seen the downpressors and those whom they pressed down, he had been shot at. It was his ability to describe all this in palpable and authentic ways that sustains his body of music unlike any other we've ever known.

Bob Marley made hell tuneful, like nobody before or since. That's what has kept him alive. Robert Nesta Marley was born in a small rural Jamaican village called Nine Miles. His father was a white man, Capt. Norval Marley, a superintendent of lands for the British government, which had colonized Jamaica in the 1660s. Marley's mother, Cedella, was a young black woman, descended from the Cromantee tribe, who as slaves had staged the bloodiest uprisings in the island's plantation era. Capt. Marley seduced Cedella, age seventeen, promising her marriage, as he re-enacted an age-old scenario of white privilege over black service. When Cedella became pregnant, the captain kept his promise -- but left her the next day rather than face disinheritance. The couple's only child arrived in the early part of 1945, as World War II neared its end. Nobody is certain of the exact date -- it was listed on Bob's passport as April 6th, but Cedella was sure it was two months earlier. It took her a long time to record the birth with the registrar; she was afraid, she later said, she'd get in trouble for having a child with a white man. While mixed-race couplings weren't rare, they also weren't welcome, and generally it was the child of these unions who bore the scorn. But Marley's mixed inheritance gave him a valuable perspective. Though he became increasingly devoted in his life to the cause of speaking to the black diaspora -- that population throughout the world that had been scattered or colonized as the result of the slave trade and imperialism -- he never expressed hatred for white people but rather hatred for one people's undeserved power to subjugate another people. Marley understood that the struggle for power might result in bloodshed, but he also maintained that if humankind failed to stand together, it would fail to stand at all.

In the 1950s, Cedella moved to Kingston -- the only place in Jamaica where any future of consequence could be realized. She and her son made their home in a government tenant yard, a crowded area where poor people lived, virtually all of them black. The yard they settled in, Trench Town, was made up of row upon row of cheap corrugated metal and tar-paper one-room shacks, generally with no plumbing. It was a place where your dreams might raise you or kill you, but you would have to live and act hard in either case. To Cedella's dismay, her son began to come into his own there -- to find a sense of community and purpose amid rough conditions and rough company, including the local street gangs. These gangs evolved soon enough into a faction called Rude Boys -- teenagers and young adults who dressed sharp, acted insolent and knew how to fight. Kingston hated the Rude Boys, and police and politicians had vowed to eradicate them. It was in this setting of grim delimitation that Marley first found what would give his life purpose: Kingston's burgeoning and eccentric rhythm & blues scene. In the late 1940s, Jamaican youth had started to catch the fever of America's urban popular music -- in particular, the earthy and polyrhythmic dance and blues sounds of New Orleans. By the 1960s, Kingston was producing its own form of R&B: a taut, tricky and intense music in which rhythms shifted their accents to the offbeat -- almost an inversion of American rock & roll and funk. This new Jamaican music was, like American R&B, the long-term result of how black music survived and evolved as a means of maintaining community in unsympathetic lands. It was music that gave a displaced population a way to tell truths about their lives and a way of claiming victory over daily misery, or at least of finding a respite.

Jamaica's popular music -- from calypso to mento -- had always served as a means to spread stories, about neighbours' moral failures or the overlord society's duplicity. The commentary could be clever and merciless, and the music that Marley first began to play had the tempo to carry such sharp purposes. It was called ska (after its scratchboardlike rhythms), and just as R&B and rock & roll had been viewed in America as disruptive and immoral, Jamaica's politicians, ministers and newspapers looked upon ska as trash: a dangerous music from the ghetto that helped fuel the Rude Boys' violence. But the Rude Boys would soon receive an unexpected jolt of validation. Cedella Marley was worried that her son had grown too comfortable with ghetto life and was too close to the Rude Boys. There were frequent fights, even stabbings, in the Trench Town streets and at ska dances. Marley, though small and slight, was known as a force in Trench Town. He even had a street name: Tuff Gong. But he had no aspiration for a criminal life. "Don't worry," he told his mother. "I don't work for them." The truth was, Marley found qualities of ruthless honesty, courage and rough beauty in tenement-yard community, and he didn't necessarily want to transcend or escape it -- instead, he wanted to describe its reality and to speak for its populace, which was subject to not only destitution but easy condemnation as well. He had already written a song about cheap moralism, "Judge Not," recorded it with one of Kingston's leading producers, Leslie Kong, and released it in 1963 -- the same year that the Beatles and Bob Dylan were making their music felt. That year, Marley also formed a vocal group with his childhood friend Neville Livingston (the son of Cedella's boyfriend, who later became known as Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh, a tall guitar player who would shorten his name to Peter Tosh. The group spent considerable time sharpening its vocal harmonies with singer Joe Higgs. Higgs had done some work for Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, Kingston's dominant record producer, who also ran the scene's most successful recording house, Studio One. In addition, Dodd presided over the island's most popular sound system -- a sort of DJ booth on wheels that played the new American and Jamaican sounds at makeshift dance halls, until the police would bust them up, breaking heads and looking for Rude Boys who might be carrying knives or marijuana.

Marley and the others auditioned several original songs for Dodd in 1963, including one that he had written out of deference to his mother's concerns, called "Simmer Down." It was a plea to the local gangs to back off from violence before ruling powers stepped into the situation, and it was set to an aggressive beat that might well excite the sort of frenzy that the song's words disavowed. Dodd recorded the tune the next day with his best studio musicians, the Skatalites, and that same night he played the record at one of his sound-system affairs. It was an immediate sensation, and for good reason: For the first time, a voice from the ghetto was speaking to others who lived in the same straits, acknowledging their existence and giving voice to their troubles, and that breakthrough had a transformative effect, on both the scene and on Marley and his group, who would call themselves the Wailing Wailers and, finally, the Wailers. (The name was meant to describe somebody who called out from the ghetto -- a sufferer and witness.) Marley had already found one of the major themes that would characterize his songwriting through his entire career. Dodd was so impressed with Marley's work ethic that he entrusted him with rehearsing several of Studio One's other vocal groups, including the Soulettes -- a female singing trio that featured a teenage single mother and nursing student named Rita Anderson, who had a dream of becoming Jamaica's Diana Ross. Marley had eyes for other women during this time -- he always would -- but he was drawn to Anderson for her devotion as a mother. In turn, she felt a need to protect Marley, who now lived alone in the back of Dodd's studio, after his mother had finally tired of the Kingston life and moved to Delaware. Rita and Marley married in 1966, just days before he gave in to his mother's insistence that he come visit her and try to establish a home in America. He didn't stay long. Marley didn't like the pace of life in America, nor the circumscribed job opportunities available to black men. He missed his wife and home. While he'd been gone, though, something significant happened in Jamaica that would utterly transfigure Marley's life and destiny: A Living God had visited Marley's homeland and walked on its soil. The living god's name was haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia, and the product of a complicated strand of history that marked the lives of Marley and Jamaica. Selassie's importance for Jamaicans began in the life of another man, Marcus Garvey -- an early-twentieth-century activist who encouraged blacks to look to their African heritage and to create their own destinies apart from the ones imposed on them by America and by European colonialism. According to a persistent myth, Garvey instructed his followers in 1927 to look to Africa for the crowning of a black king, as a sign that a messiah was at hand. In point of fact, Garvey never uttered such a prophecy, but the claim remains attributed to him to this day. In 1930, when a young man named Ras Tafari manoeuvred his way onto the throne of Ethiopia, the prophecy that Garvey never proclaimed took on the power of the word made flesh for many. Selassie was the Living God, the reinstatement of the rightful Jehovah to the earth and a beacon of hope for the world's long-suffering black diaspora.

In Jamaica, a cult called Ras Tafari sprang up around this belief in the 1930s. Rastafarianism developed as a mystical Judeo-Christian faith with a vision of Africa, in particular, Ethiopia, as the true Zion. The Rastafarians never had a true doctrine but rather a set of folk wisdoms and a worldview. One of their beliefs was that marijuana -- which the Rastas called ganja -- was a sacramental herb that brought its users into a deeper knowledge of themselves. More important, Rastas had an apocalyptic vision. They saw Western society as the modern kingdom of Babylon, corrupt and murderous and built on the suffering of the world's oppressed. Accordingly, Rastas believed that Babylon must fall -- though they would not themselves raise up arms to bring its end; violence belonged rightfully to God. Until Babylon fell, according to one legend, the Rastas would not cut their hair. They grew it long in a fearsome appearance called dreadlocks. The Rastas lived as a peaceful people who would not work in Babylon's economic system and would not vote for its politicians. Jamaican society, though, believed it saw a glimmer of revolt in the Rastas, and for decades they had been treated as the island's most despised population. In 1966, while Marley was visiting his mother in Delaware, Selassie made an official state visit to Jamaica. He was met at the Kingston Airport by a crowd of 100,000. Rita Marley saw Selassie as his motorcade made its way through Kingston's streets, and when he passed by, she believed she saw the mark of a stigmata in his palm, signifying that he was God come to earth. After that, she adhered to the Rastafarians' belief system and ways of life, and she let her hair grow. When Marley next saw his wife, he said, "What happened to your hair?" He was put off by her sudden change. Indeed, one of the more interesting questions about Marley's life is just when exactly he too became a Rastafarian. According to some accounts, he adopted the religion soon after his return to Jamaica, as early as 1967 or 1968. But according to Timothy White's meticulous biography, Catch a Fire, Marley's conversion wasn't complete until the early Seventies. This much, though, is certain: In the years that followed Selassie's visit to Kingston, Marley would not only grow into Rastafarianism but would also come to exemplify it. In turn, his faith would help Marley find new depths in his music. Rastafarianism -- and especially its beliefs in social justice, and its critique of the West's political, economic and class systems as a modern-day Babylon -- would play a key part in Bob Marley rising to meet his moment and to address the world he lived in.




Missy Elliot’s The Road to Stardom: Ruminations

Excerpt from

(Mar. 3, 2005) Internationally renowned gossip guru and entertainment journalist Jawn Murray must be psychic.  Weeks ago, the “Jawn’s Juice” columnist tipped the huge readership of the his wildly popular America Online column off that Jessica Betts will win the Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot-helmed UPN reality show, “The Road To Stardom.”  And after receiving calls from UPN officials, and even having the show’s producer scoff at the spoiler, he proved correct.  On last night’s “live” grand finale, the Chicago-bred singer was transformed in front of America’s eyes from a rough-and-tumble thuggish rap prototype to a more polished Lauryn Hill-look-alike. It was like magic. I relished in the hour-long ending.  Maybe it’s the country living but UPN has become my latest guilty pleasure with its latest slew of programming –most notably Taye Diggs’s excellent “Kevin Hill.”   But I have to admit, I had a special affinity to “Road To Stardom” because of that fact that the show’s creator and executive producer Mona Scott is an old pal of mine—dating back to twelve-years ago when I was just a teenage boy, and she was a more mature and seasoned industryite, who was always very nice to me.   Miss Scott used to work for the then-in-demand New York City-based artist development firm Duntori & Company, and fancied cat suits accentuated by artificial ponytails.  Those were the days.  My hat goes off to her for turning her dream into reality, and still developing talent.  As the President of Violator Management, she oversees the careers of Ms. Elliot, Tweet and Busta Rhymes, amongst others.   And to Mr. Murray, who always is on point with his scoops, keep on keeping on!  Move over Miss Cleo.




MTV To Launch Caribbean Channel

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson /

(Mar. 3, 2005) Music Television (MTV), the leading music video outlet for pop culture in North America, is set to launch a Caribbean channel soon.  Sources have told this column that the network’s top brass are quite happy about this initiative and are looking forward to it taking off.  In an interview earlier this week, MTV Networks corporate spokesperson Jeanine Smartt who is a Caribbean national herself (she is originally from Barbados), confirmed the reports about the development of the Caribbean channel, however, she said that the plans were still in the development stages.  Said Ms Smartt, ‘We are working on a couple of things right now and we are in the final stages of signing everything off.  We are really excited about this opportunity’. Asked about a possible projected date for the channel coming on stream, Ms Smartt pointed out ‘Its still too early. We haven’t officially announced anything about the channel as yet, but we will have more news for you soon.’ The MTV Caribbean channel is expected to target the core Caribbean market as well as persons who love Caribbean culture, food and the lifestyle.  MTV’s sister network, MTV2 has for years promoted Caribbean music through the airing of numerous music videos from Caribbean artistes including Shabba Ranks, Sean Paul, Beenie Man, Lady Saw, Delly Ranks, Rupee, Kevin Lyttle and TOK among others.   Á lot of the videos from the Caribbean have been aired on MTV2 over the years.  We are about what’s hot at the moment’, Ms Smartt added.




Electronic Hancock Steers The Show

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller

(Mar. 7, 2005) When pianist Herbie Hancock, tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, trumpeter Roy Hargrove and the rest of the Directions in Music quintet first appeared in Toronto, back in October, 2001, their raison d'être was a 75th-birthday homage to the late, great jazz legends Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Hancock et al. are not ones to repeat themselves, however, at least not this soon, so their return last Friday with a new bassist and drummer, Scott Colley and Terri Lyne Carrington, respectively, promised something different. The current Directions in Music tour's catch phrase, "Our Times," was one sign of change. The presence on stage at Massey Hall of two new Macintosh G5 computers was another. Where the Davis/Coltrane program was an exercise in fairly respectful revisionism, this latest venture took a more extreme tack, bringing together various, sometimes disparate elements of contemporary jazz into a 2½-hour blowout. And yet the ghost of Miles Davis -- funky, rocking, loud, late-career Miles -- hovered still. Central to the evening was the interface, as it were, of electronic and acoustic sounds. Those G5s weren't just up there for show (although Brecker duly gave Apple a free plug); they expanded the band's sonic resources exponentially. Hancock ran two small keyboards and, on occasion, the hall's grand piano through one computer, while Brecker triggered an EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) through the other.

For Hancock, this was all serious business -- jazz musician as mad scientist. For Brecker, it was fun and games; his unaccompanied introduction to Wayne Shorter's Pinocchio was a suitably cartoon-like collage that mixed samples of ethnic voices -- from a Tuvan throat singer to a Swiss yodeller -- with stirring, improvised melodies, kicking bass lines and roaring synthesized harmonies. "Listen to this," he seemed to be saying, shooting a bemused glance out into the audience each time he took a breath. "How about that?" The rest of the show wasn't nearly as light of heart. Alas. Brecker's tenor saxophone work and Hargrove's trumpeting were trenchant to the point of being forced; the relative brevity of their solos only increased their tension, as each musician tried to make the most, and then a little more, of his opportunities. It was Hancock who was taking his time. Despite the band's generic name, despite the equal billing of its principals and despite the inclusion of pieces by all three on the program, Directions in Music came across, conceptually, as the pianist's vehicle. He was the man behind the wheel, Pinocchio aside, while Brecker and Hargrove rode in the back seats -- no more so than in the concert's opening piece, an extended deconstruction of Hancock's mid-1960s classic Dolphin Dance, which set the tone for the entire night. Hancock's indulgences were the concert's indulgences, his bombast its bombast -- the latter abetted by Carrrington's unflinching stickwork. For his exhaustive efforts, and for those more constrained of Brecker and Hargrove, Directions in Music garnered a slow-to-stand ovation at the evening's end -- something less than a rapturous response to something less than a rapturous performance. Seems just about right.




Xscape: Perfect Package

Excerpt from - By Todd Angkasuwan

Talk to any connoisseur of fine wine, and they will tell you that ‘to perfect is to age’. If that's the case, there are four ladies in particular who would probably tell you they have a lot in common with a bottle of 1959 Chateau Margaux – although you would know them better as the Atlanta group Xscape.  The soulful foursome who dominated the airwaves in the early ‘90s are ready for another shot in the spotlight. You cannot make a bona fide comeback without having made a huge impression in the first place - and Xscape had a successful run their first time around.  Shortly after signing to Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def label, the R&B quartet recorded their first album, Hummin’ Comin’ at ‘Cha. Thanks to hits like “Just Kickin’ It”, the LP went multi-platinum in 1993. It didn’t take much time for them to record follow-up album, Off The Hook, which also earned multi-platinum status. The ladies of Xscape went their separate ways shortly after recording Traces of My Lipstick in 1998.

Over the years, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle teamed up with member Kandi Burruss, writing hits for groups like TLC and Destiny’s Child. Tamika Scott got the acting bug and began working on television and film projects. LaTocha Scott embarked on a solo career. They each took on new phases of their personal lives, most notable to the public being Tiny’s longtime relationship with Atlanta emcee T.I.  Now that the group is back together - with a new member, a reality show, and a new album, entitled Unchained in the mix - they have got a lot to tell Alternatives! Alternatives: What recent events led up to the reunion of Xscape?

LaTocha: Well, actually the fans...they did it. Everywhere we went, it was like, “When are you guys going to come back?" We just thought about the state of R&B and where it was going and knew there was a void. Tiny called me one day and she was like, "Yo, we got to do this because everywhere I go...I can't go into a store...nowhere without people saying Xscape needs to come back!" With that in mind, we would listen to the radio and we were like, “Let's do it!” We always knew that we would come back and do this because it was always in our hearts. Now was the perfect time.

AHHA: So you're saying there's a void? Are you not feeling what's out there as far as the genre is concerned?

LaTocha: Realistically, there's no soulfulness in R&B. I just feel like it lost its flavor. There were other [soulful artists] out, then all of a sudden everybody just disappeared. So now is the time for us to come back because I feel like people are looking for that. You know, you have John Legend out there. You got Alicia Keys who's holdin' it down. And you have Usher. But at the same time, there's not a group bringing it soulfully like Xscape. That's why I said that void hasn't been filled. I just feel like this is a better time for us because R&B is coming back.

AHHA: Since the group split, you all embarked upon solo careers. Individually, was going solo more challenging than you expected?

Tamika: I don't think it was challenging for me because I've always wanted to act. I'm an actress just for life. Ever since I was born, I was born to act in anything. When it comes to entertainment, it's always easy for us because that's our destiny. I guess the only thing that bothered me was not being with my girls. Standing on your own and not having that're out there by yourself...out there on an island by yourself. Usually in a group, you have someone that says, “Come on, you can do it!” If you get tired, they'll be like, “I have it, I'll take control and you can relax.” When you're by yourself, you have to be strong on your own.

Tiny: Most of the time when I was gone off the scene, me and Kandi were doing things together. We were writing together. You know, we wrote "No Scrubs" for TLC and then we started working on the project we were working on together called KAT [which stands] for Kandi and Tiny. So we were writing, I was being a mother and just relaxing. It was challenging because the rest of the girls weren't there. Just everything was new, because before it was four and now there were only two of us. And the whole two girl thing is like a big myth. You know, like two girls can't make it. It was very challenging actually to try to get something going.

AHHA: Tiny, congrats on the birth of your baby boy. With you and T.I. so busy with your music careers, how do you juggle the role of being a mother with your professional role?

Tiny: As with everybody in the group, our parents are very, very supportive. They help us with our kids a lot. My mom and my dad, they have my kids and take great care of them when I'm gone. As far as me and T.I.'s schedules, right now mine is just starting to pick up. It's a little different and it's a little challenging for us, because when he comes home, we're used to being together. So now that I'm gone and he's gone, it's like the timing of the schedules has to get right. We don't want to neglect the relationship, but at the same time we're both working and trying to do what we do.

AHHA: Speaking of T.I., I hear you've been really instrumental in his success. How much involvement have you had in his career growth?

Tiny: I guess you can say it's a lot of inspiration. I give him inspiration to write songs. Basically he was a man before me and his talent was just there. I think I was just inspiration for a lot of his songs. Well, I know I was! [laughs].

AHHA: How did you hook up with your new member, Kiesha Miles?

Tamika: We grew up together. We all grew up in the same church and she was just the one. She's been doing a lot of writing and she sings very well. She's not egotistical and we all have the same goals. She was just ready, so it all went well. My parents literally used to whup her! She got a whuppin' by my daddy! [laughs]. So we're like family. But she's not in the group because she's like family. She's all herself. She's beautiful...she's talented...soft spoken. She fit right on in with us.

Kiesha: Tocha called me and asked what I was doing. I told her I was focusing on writing and she said she wanted to hook up and we hooked up and talked about me joining the group. I prayed on it and the next day I just knew. I knew that was what I was supposed to do. This is what I've wanted since I was a little girl, so it's amazing. They just welcomed me right in. It's beautiful.

AHHA: Do you all stay in touch with Kandi? I understand she's been busy with her production company. Is that why she's decided not to rejoin the group?

Tiny: I talk to Kandi all the time. We're still good friends. She has been real busy with the group she's working with and everything. We just had some creative differences that we couldn't work out as far as what she wanted and how we wanted things to go. It was just the wrong timing. Her focus was on other things then just this. Being that we're coming back in a new time again, we need everybody's full attention and focus. It's just bad timing, I guess. But as far as the friendship, we're still cool and we talk all the time.

AHHA: I can imagine how exciting it must've been to perform together again. Tell me about what was going through your minds at The View in Atlanta in January, where you performed for the first time since the reunion.

Tamika: It felt real good to be on stage with them again. You know, I used to have dreams that we'd be together again. I'd call them and tell them I had a dream and we were performing and Jermaine [Dupri] was in the audience. I'd tell them everybody was in the audience. I had dreams of us getting awards and I'd always call them and tell them. They were like, you so crazy! I never lost hope of us getting back together. It's just something we love to do. We would do this even if we weren't getting paid.

Kiesha: It was kinda crazy because my family was all there and it was the first time I'd been on stage in about five years.

AHHA: I hear you all are gathering footage for a reality show. Can you tell us about the project?

LaTocha: Actually, our manager came up with the idea. We were all sitting down and he was like you guys are crazy. If I can tape this everyday, this would be hilarious. And then my sister, [Tamika] was like, “We should do that!” So he made some phone calls and people started calling back. I know UPN was very excited about it and other people too. We're trying to see what direction we want to go with it, but at the same time people were like that's a great idea. It shows the closeness...the things we go through as women. I think people will be inspired by it, especially people who are trying to get into the industry.

Tamika: It just shows us in our everyday lives…just getting back together as a group. It just shows us how we are individually. It allows our fans to be nosy. People love to see other people in raw form. Believe me, this is going to let people see Xscape in raw form! Without the makeup, without your hair looking good. Just that type of thing.

AHHA: Do you plan on doing more television work?

Tamika: Oh, most definitely! Me personally, I have about three sitcoms I'm working on and three different movies. You'll hear a lot of things. I know I will be into television.

AHHA: A lot of your fans from the '90s are a little older now and still crave the music from that period. Do you plan to build on that same fanbase, or try to attract a whole new audience?

LaTocha: We want to appeal to everybody. We have a couple records we wrote that teenagers will really love. We also have the ballads for the older people that respect it. At the same time we got the ups for the club. You know, for the guys that love the bass-driven tracks, of course with the vocals. I think it's a well-rounded album. We're not focused on appealing to this person or that person. We're just trying to write songs that everybody can relate to. We write records about how we feel, what we're going through and what people are going through. We're giving them the reality of our lives, whether it's love, children, or family. It's a real well-rounded album.

AHHA: So now that Xscape is back and in effect, what else should fans know about you now?

LaTocha: Beyond the album, we have become business women. We also have a foundation that we're bringing to life now called Project Xchange. It's giving back to those who are less fortunate, whether it's us sitting down with kids in high school and letting them know as far as singing what regimen we have to go through. The foundation consists of so many things. My cousin passed away from leukemia, and that [cause] is really close to our heart. So we're going to make sure we donate money to those who are suffering from the disease.

There are so many things in the works for us. We want people to know we're business women. We're seasoned veterans now, and can't nobody tell us nothing. We worked so hard. People don't know we've been in the game for like ten years. To us, it's all love. It's work too, but we do it because we love it. We thank our fans for their loyalty. The response we've been couldn't be better.




Music Fans Discover Temmora

Excerpt from

(Mar. 4, 2005) Memphis, Tenn. - Temmora is Memphis, Tennessee’s blossoming 23 year old soul songstress whose highly anticipated duet with veteran crooner Howard Hewett, "There’s No Me," is expected to be the song of love this spring. The song is the featured debut to her self-titled CD Any Other Girl that will be released this spring on LEG Records.  The single captures the professionally trained singer and church choir veteran providing a poignant offer of lifetime love and affection to a new mate. Grammy nominated songwriter Rodney Shelton assisted Temmora with several song selections and her CD was mixed by Rob Chiarelli, the famed engineer whose previous clients have included Luther Vandross, Christina Aguilera, Janet Jackson and the late Aaliyah. Temmora’s natural talent and professional discipline is also garnering the attention of growing numbers of music executives and programming directors who appreciate her style and truthful, original lyrics, not to mention her silky, seductive voice.

Last August Temmora dazzled the audience during an exclusive performance showcase at the Billboard/AURN R&B Hip-Hop Conference in Miami.  At the annual Radio and Records Conference, held this past June in Beverly Hills, Temmora won
scores of new fans as elite broadcast and recording industry executives from around the country were wooed by her beauty and talent during another performance showcase. "I want you to feel something with my music," said Temmora,  who has been moving crowds and having her music felt from church pews to talent shows, music festivals and concerts.  "I want to be that kind of artist who is always a step ahead." Temmora’s debut CD- Any Other Girl will also feature several up-tempo, radio friendly cuts as well as a ballad performed by Temmora in Spanish; all complemented by her soothing, sometimes searing lyrics about making sense of the chaotic while being young, gifted and female. To see and hear more of Temmora, visit her website online at

For more information contact ESP Public Relations at 310.827.9727 or




CD-DVD: Are You Buying It?

Excerpt from The Toronto Star  By Guy Dixon

(Mar. 7, 2005) New and improved versions of CDs come with better sound, video features and other bonus doodads. Guy Dixon explores whether it's all just a gimmick to fleece diehard fans.  There's a new experiment being conducted by the music industry testing fan loyalty versus consumer fatigue, and it comes in the guise of the deceptively alluring bonus DVD.  Exhibit A: R.E.M.'s new CD-DVD reissues.  Most R.E.M. fans already own at least one album from the band's continuing period with Warner Brothers Records, from 1988's Green to 2004's Around the Sun. Some even own more than one copy of the same album, in order to get the special-edition release with expanded artwork or the DVD audio version. Last week, Warner's entire R.E.M. catalogue was re-released with an extra DVD disc packaged alongside each CD. The bonus DVD contains the same music as the CD, but in surround sound, as well as video footage of the band and a few incidentals such as song lyrics and photos. Are R.E.M. fans going to buy it? One self-described diehard on, a website for R.E.M. fans, says he regularly purchases multiple versions of the band's records and indeed owns 2001's Reveal CD, the special edition Reveal CD, the DVD audio version and will now buy the latest re-release. He doubts that the reissues will be big sellers, though. Another fan writes, "The reissuing would make sense if they included a CD with some outtakes/additional songs/whatever. Sure, people with the right equipment might be happy about these new versions, but all in all, it looks a little bit like a money-making machine." It's not the majority view. Most R.E.M. fans seem curious about the reissues. But record executives should heed the dissenting opinions.

Souped-up CD releases are being viewed as the future of record retailing. (Paid downloads is a whole other sphere.) The new orthodoxy, repeatedly heard last week at the Canadian Music Week conference in Toronto, is that CDs need even more content to entice record buyers. Besides bonus DVDs and enhanced CDs, these also include new dual discs: a single disc with a regular CD on one side and a DVD on the other. Record labels say they like the initial response. Montreal pop-punk band Simple Plan's dual disc Still Not Getting Any went platinum in the United States, selling more than one million copies in its first 10 weeks. The short documentary on the disc, though, is a little self-defeating. It shows veteran producer Bob Rock seemingly treating the album as merely a job to pay the bills. Other dual discs tend not to be new releases, but reissued bestsellers, such as Avril Lavigne's Under My Skin, re-released as a dual disc with a clutch of recent videos and a behind-the-scenes film originally shown on MTV. The dual-disc release of Miles Davis's Kind of Blue has a short, laudatory documentary that preaches to the faithful who already know and love this album. David Bowie explores the dual disc's artistic potential a little more on the re-release of Reality, which now contains an experimental film showing Bowie's new variation on his spaceman-artist persona. But for every one of these dual discs, there's undoubtedly a legion of fans annoyed at having to decide whether to buy music they already own just to get that little bit of extra video footage or surround sound. Steve Kane, head of Warner Music Canada, makes the point that dual discs or DVD bonus discs are directed less at the mass market than at loyal fans willing to pay a little extra for additional content.

Blue Note Records, though, understands the mild feeling of disappointment at having to pay for something twice. It struck a compromise with the latest Norah Jones CD, although it may have learned a lesson the hard way with her first disc. A year after 2002's Come Away with Me, Blue Note issued a hybrid SACD version (a Super Audio disc with heightened sound quality, which can also be played on regular CD players). This drew criticism from those who had to buy the same album again to get the SACD version. Some complained that the label should have released the SACD disc right from the start. In early 2004, Blue Note released Jones's second album, Feels Like Home, and then, toward the end of the year, released an expanded version of the album with bonus tracks and DVD footage. Yet this time, people who already owned the regular CD could download the additional songs and footage for free. (I'm among those -- however, with a copy that seems unable to access the footage, since no Internet link pops up as it apparently should when inserting the disc into my office PC. Others seem to have had success with their copies, though.) Yet another clever trick is being used by the small Toronto-based label Aporia Records. Their new CDs include software that takes users to a Web link from which concert footage, photos and other extra media can be downloaded. This extra media is then updated, so that people who bought the latest album by the Toronto band Beneath Augusta could be in store for more video footage over time, like a continually expanding bonus DVD. Conversely, some marketing tactics seem designed to aggravate. Morrissey's You Are the Quarry is a prime example. Seven months or so after that album came out last year, a deluxe edition was released, featuring a second disc of most (but not all) of the B-sides from his recent CD singles, plus a third disc with videos. Within the video footage is a teaser from a separate concert DVD coming out this month. The aim seems to be to force Morrissey loyalists to pay for his music and videos over and over again.

R.E.M.'s reissues don't seem in that same money-grabbing league, despite the odd disparaging comment on Some fans will undoubtedly like to revisit favourite R.E.M. albums in a new format. The video footage is generally uninspired, however, and tends to be just a short interview film with the band (known in the industry as an EPK, or electronic press kit) originally sent to television networks and journalists when the album was first released.  The one exception is the extra videos and EPK on Around the Sun, which add some new aesthetic insights into perhaps the most misjudged album in the R.E.M. canon so far. Otherwise, the clips on the other releases may take some fans back fondly to a certain era or satisfy their R.E.M. trivia fix for the day. But the question remains, how will you tell your conscience (or your spouse) that you really need another copy of that album you already own?




Gospel Publicists Shine In New AAPRC

Excerpt from

(Mar. 7, 2005) *The African-American Public Relations Collective (AAPRC), a national network of more than 500 communications professionals, releases the February/March issue of its primary publication, The AAPRC Monthly, on March 10, 2005.   As it approaches its one-year anniversary, The Monthly takes a look at some of the African-American publicists and communications professionals who represent the most prominent names in gospel music and other aspects of the multi-billion dollar faith-based entertainment industry. Gospel Today publisher Teresa Hairston steps into the spotlight for The Monthly's regular journalist feature, "The Big Ten."  Hairston, who founded the gospel industry's leading publication as a newsletter more than 15 years ago, discusses the rise of her faith-based entertainment brand and the trends impacting the burgeoning industry. Publicist profiles in the February/March issue include Jalila Larsuel, who, as president and CEO of JL Media Relations, Inc., has coordinated publicity and special events for corporate powerhouses as well as some of music's most prominent names for the better part of two decades.  Though she has worked with artists in every genre -- from Michael Jackson to Kirk Franklin --  Larsuel has, in particular, made a name for herself in the gospel music industry.  The communications veteran counts gospel superstars Andre Crouch and Yolanda Adams among the many clients she has represented over the years, and for 11 years, has coordinated publicity for the Stellar Awards, gospel's loftiest award.  On the East Coast, Washington, DC-based Bill Carpenter and his firm Capital Entertainment have represented a who's who in gospel -- from The Clark Sisters to Vicki Winans, CeCe Winans, Mavis Staples and many others.  This summer, Back Beat Books (San Francisco) will publish Carpenter's book, Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia. 

Publicists Teresa Lyles Holmes, of TLH Communications, and Rhonda Ridley, of Affinity Public Relations, have both built thriving boutique agencies that exclusively represent faith-based institutions and/or Christian artists.  The two discuss their inspirations and the key to success in their niche market.   The AAPRC Monthly regularly features stories that spotlight the AAPRC's 500+ members -- PR executives and communication specialists around the country -- as well as journalists and media executives.  The Monthly is distributed via list-serve to members, who are able to download the newsletter as a PDF. For more information on the AAPRC or The AAPRC Monthly, contact Gwendolyn Quinn via email at or




50 Cent And The Game Shake Hands Publicly, Say Their Feud Is Over

Source: Canadian Press - Nekesa Mumbi Moody

(Mar. 9, 2005) NEW YORK (AP) - Perhaps selling 1.1 million copies of his new album in four days has softened the heart of 50 Cent. Or maybe he has so many feuds going, he can afford to let one go.  On Wednesday, 50 Cent and The Game publicly squashed a bitter feud that had erupted into gunfire last week after 50 kicked Game out of his G-Unit clique for disloyalty.  The two platinum-selling gangsta rappers didn't exactly kiss and make up. When they emerged before a media throng at Harlem's famed Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, both looked as if they'd been shoved into apologies by a stern mother.  But they did shake hands, albeit at the end of the press conference, after speaking about contrition and the need for peace.  50 noted that Wednesday was the anniversary of the unsolved murder of Biggie Smalls in 1997, the culmination of a rap war between Biggie and Tupac Shakur that pitted East Coast against West.  "We're here today to show that people can rise above the most difficult circumstances and together we can put negativity behind us," said 50, a native New Yorker. "A lot of people don't want to see it happen, but we're responding to the two most important groups, our family and our fans."  "I just want to apologize on behalf of myself and 50," said Game, who's from the Los Angeles suburb of Compton. "I'm almost ashamed to have participated in the things that happened in the last couple of weeks."  50 presented an oversized cheque for $150,000 US to the Boys Choir of Harlem. Game donated $103,500 US. It was not clear why Game chose that amount or whether he had been reinstated in G-Unit; no questions were taken at the press conference. They also both made contributions to the Compton schools music program.

Is the truce sincere?  "Of course it was genuine," said hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, who was at the event. "They stood on stage together."  At the very least, it was a remarkable concession for rappers who routinely brag about killing their enemies.  "It is the first time we've seen 50 publicly take a step back" from a battle, said Elliott Wilson, editor in chief of the hip-hop magazine XXL.  In a statement earlier Wednesday, 50 Cent said: "I'm launching a new foundation, the G-Unity Foundation, Inc., to help people overcome obstacles and make a chance for the better in their lives ... to help them overcome their situations. I realized that if I'm going to be effective at that, I have to overcome some of my own. Game and I need to set an example in the community."  50 Cent has always set an example - usually as an unapologetic criminal gleefully wreaking havoc on other rappers. He almost single-handedly dismantled the multi-platinum career of Ja Rule by relentlessly targeting him in songs, magazines and his 2003 debut, the eight-million selling Get Rich or Die Tryin'.  Last week 50 released his sophomore CD, The Massacre, which includes a song attacking rappers like Fat Joe, Nas and Jadakiss for making a record with Ja Rule. But his beef with Game was unusual because it involved a member of his own camp.  As 50 was on the radio announcing the expulsion of Game from G-Unit - apparently because Game wouldn't turn his back on some of 50s many enemies - Game's crew rolled up to the station. Guns were fired outside the building and a member of Game's posse was wounded.  Game is a protégé of superproducer Dr. Dre, who put Eminem (news - web sites) on the map, who in turn made 50 Cent a superstar. They're all on the same parent label, Interscope Records.

Those relationships probably played a hand in Wednesday's reconciliation.  "It's pressure for 50 to look at it from a business perspective and not a personal perspective," Elliott said. "I think the press conference was forced by the mainstream media's reaction to the incident. They don't benefit on a business level to be associated with violence."  Could the whole thing have been a publicity stunt for two rappers with albums in stores now?  Elliott doesn't buy it. "There really was a beef. I think there was a genuine conflict that 50 felt The Game was unappreciative of all the work he did on his album ... and Game is feeling like, 'I'm my own man now."'  But the two have apparently decided that they have more to lose going against each other.  "I think (50) will continue to beef with other artists," Elliott said. "But to beef with your own artist and someone who you're in business with, it doesn't help you."




Eric Benet Has Moved On. You Should, Too

Excerpt from

(Mar. 9, 2005) *True To Myself:  Halle Berry has moved on and so should everyone else.  Folks have forgiven Montell Williams, Lionel Richie, Bryant Gumbel and heck, even Bill Cosby for their headline-making adulterous affairs.  It’s about time people forget whatever transpired with Eric Benet and Berry as well.  Just like Vivica A. Fox was a successful actress prior to dating 50 Cent, Benet had a promising music career before marrying Berry.  His sophomore album Day in the Life was certified platinum and spawned the gold-certified single “Spend My Life With You” (featuring Tamia).  In addition to selling nearly 200,000 copies of various other singles, Benet also appeared on soundtracks for such films as Batman & Robin, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Ride, The Brothers, The Best Man and Glitter.  The singer also made his feature film debut in Glitter, starring Mariah Carey, and had a recurring role on The WB sitcom For Your Love. With all of that said, Benet is now readying the release of his new album in late March.  I was sent an advance copy of his new CD, a collection of carefully crafted love songs and mid-tempo grooves.  With the disk came a note from Benet that read:  “With every project I do, there is a creative evolution, emotional growth and lessons learned—all of which comes together in one body of work.  What person hasn’t gone through losses, hasn’t had to deal with pain, hasn’t made mistakes and hasn’t had to pick themselves up off the floor and say I need to move forward.  I can rise above.  I can move ahead.  This record is my chance to get in touch with the best that I am.”

The CD does address Benet’s ex-wife.  On the song, "My Prayer," he sings, “I never wanted to break your precious heart, and what I did can't be undone and it's tearing me apart.”  On another song, “Where Does the Love Go,” the crooner sings, “We could write the story of how we fell apart/ but your truth and mine aren’t the same.”  To promote his new CD, Benet has been quite busy conducting a string of high-profile interviews.  During a recent appearance on Access Hollywood, Benet chatted with Nancy O’Dell about the way he was portrayed in the media. The biggest misconception about him:  “I think probably the biggest misconception is there is something wrong with me.  There ain't nothing wrong with me.” The tabloid reports about him:  “Some of it is the truth, yeah.  This happened and that happened.  But more often than not there's like the truth, which is kind of a combination of everything but has other stuff added in that wasn't revealed and nobody talked about because the only person that could was me.”  On whether he desires Berry and his 13-year-old daughter India to still have a relationship:  “Um, honestly now I'm trying to figure out, 'Do I say what I really want to say, or do I dance around this?'  I'll leave it at this.  Yeah, I did wish for them to have a relationship, and I still hope they can have a relationship.” It may not be the popular thing to say, let alone politically correct, but someone has to acknowledge that, for whatever reason, Berry doesn’t fair well with her men.  It can’t be a coincidence that Berry’s relationships with Christopher Williams, Wesley Snipes, Shemar Moore and ex-husbands Benet and David Justice have all ended on a sour note.  While we’re all happy to see Berry dating her Their Eyes Were Watching God co-star Michael Ealy, one must wonder how long her fairytale rendezvous with the breakout Barbershop stud will last as well.




Jonathan Ramos Appointment to Sony BMG!


Congratulations to Jonathan Ramos on his appointment as Director of A&R for Sony BMG Music Canada. Ramos, who founded Ramos Entertainment Management Group (R.E.M.G.) in 1993 and is one of Canada's most successful and well-respected urban event promoters, took over this position effective February 28. He will be responsible for leading the selection and development of talent for Sony BMG Canada's roster, and will oversee the A&R team of Jennifer Hyland (A&R Manager), Krissi Campbell (Creative Manager) and Adam Fujiki (A&R Co-ordinator). Jonathan will remain a partner in R.E.M.G., which will now be managed day-to-day by Jeff Brandman.




Chart Attack’s Top 50


In its latest issue, Chart Attack Magazine listed its Top 50 Canadian Albums and Songs of All Time.  K-OS's current hit single, "Man I Used to Be", came in at #33, and Maestro Fresh Wes's hip-hop classic, "Let Your Backbone Slide" (1989) took the #12 spot. The Guess Who took the top spot with their 1970 song "American Woman". Visit for more info.




James Brown Leads Lineup For Jakarta Jazz Festival

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Mar. 3, 2005) Jakarta -- "Godfather of Soul" James Brown tops a star-studded line-up of jazz greats performing this weekend in Indonesia's first major jazz festival in seven years, benefiting tsunami relief, organizers said. A portion of ticket sales for the festival that starts tomorrow will be donated to victims of the December tsunami, chief organizer Paul Dankmeyer said. Brown and jazz legend George Duke were among 80 bands and some 300 artists from the United States, Japan, Brazil and Indonesia who are slated to perform. AFP




50 Cent Makes History On Billboard

Excerpt from

(Mar. 4, 2005 *There’s a buck fitty hovering at the top of Billboard’s singles chart this week, as your boy 50 Cent appears three times in the top five: “Candy Shop,” at No. 1 for a second week; The Game’s “How We Do” at No. 4, featuring 50 as a guest MC; and “Disco Inferno,” which climbs from 6 to 5.   The feat makes 50 the first artist to hold three of the top five slots since Billboard began using Nielsen SoundScan in 1991. In addition, 50 Cent becomes the first artist in history to take over the top three slots of Billboard's Rhythmic Top 40 chart, with "Candy Shop" climbing 2-1 to replace "How We Do," which drops to No. 2 and is followed directly by "Disco Inferno."




John Legend On Importance Of Music

Excerpt from

(Mar. 9, 2005) *John Legend, Queen Latifah and Joss Stone will perform at VH1’s "Save the Music" benefit concert to support music programs at public schools. The April 11 event is scheduled to air on the music channel April 17.   "Great artists, great cause. It's a no-brainer," Legend, 26, told AP about the concert. "Any reason to put extra money into the schools is great. It points to an overall issue that education in general is underfunded. When it comes right down to it, our government needs to shift priorities when it comes to education."   Next up for Legend is an appearance on the March 16 episode of NBC’s “American Dreams” in the role of Stevie Wonder.





Tuesday, March 8, 2005

50 Cent, Massacre, Aftermath
ASH Meltdown (Warner International)
DEANA CARTER The Story of My Life (Vanguard)
ERIC MATTHEWS Six Kinds of Passion Looking for an Exit (Empyrean)
IDLEWILD Warnings/Promises (Capitol)
Ike Turner, Bad Man, Night Train
LOVE AS LAUGHTER Laughter's Fifth (Sub Pop)
Ray Charles, Genius Anthology, Master Classics
Sam Cooke, Peace in the Valley, Kala
SOILWORK Stabbing The Drama (Nuclear Blast Records)
TOMMY DORSEY Centennial (CD/DVD) (Arista Associated Labels)
Various Artists, Smooth Sax Tribute to Alicia Keys, Tribute Sounds
Various Artists, Soul Piano to Anita Baker, Tribute Sounds

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

AL GREEN Everything's OK (Blue Note)
BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA Atom Bomb (Real World/Narada)
BROOK VALENTINE Chain Letter (Virgin)
CROSBY, STILLS & NASH Crosby, Stills & Nash: Greatest Hits (Rhino)
Curtis Mayfield, Curtis Remixed, Rhino
David Bowie, David Live [Rykodisc], Virgin
David Bowie, Stage, Virgin
Earth, Wind & Fire/Heatwave, Take Two, Collectables
GLENN HUGHES Soul Mover (Sanctuary Records)
KAISER CHIEFS Employment (Universal)
LONG-VIEW Mercury (Columbia)
Los Lobos, Live at the Fillmore, Hollywood
Reverend Al Green, Everything's OK, Blue Note
The Isley Brothers & The O'Jays, Take Two, Collectables
THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES Origins (Universal Music/Warner)
VARIOUS ARTISTS Nickelodeon Kids Choice (BMG Heritage)







$25M Boost For Festival's New Home

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman, Entertainment Reporter

(Mar. 4, 2005) The Ontario government has committed $25 million to kick-start a year-round dream home for the Toronto International Film Festival, the Toronto Star has learned.  "Dalton McGuinty is totally committed to our project," said Piers Handling, chief executive of the festival, in an exclusive interview yesterday. "The government has put us through a rigorous process of going over our numbers and the premier totally understands that Festival Centre will be of great value to the whole province."  The five-storey podium-style $122-million Festival Centre, designed by the architecture firm KPMB, is part of a complex to be built on the site of a parking lot at the corner of King and John Sts. in the Entertainment District.  The project is partnered with Hollywood producer Ivan Reitman (his family has owned the parking lot for years) and the Daniels Group (a high-end Toronto real estate developer). The building will include a 41-storey tower. The festival will occupy the lower five floors with 36 levels of condo units above it.  Plans for the development were announced in 2003 with great fanfare, but the original 2006 completion date proved unrealistic. Donors were not lining up to pour money in the project and it has taken two years for the project to gather momentum.  The centre will include four screening rooms and a large exhibition space, as well as office space for festival staff and housing the festival's reference library. This will allow the festival to be more of a year-round operation — the goal of making Toronto an international film capital 365 days a year instead of just 10 days.

The upshot: economic impact would climb from the festival's current level of $67 million to $200 million a year, the festival estimates.  "We are hoping to finish the building in 2008," Handling said, but what will depend on a number of factors, including private fundraising, the condo market and securing another $25 million from Ottawa.  From the start it was clear Festival Centre could not proceed without major government support and despite expectations of a joint announcement of equal contributions from the two levels of government, Liza Frulla, the federal heritage minister, is not ready to make an announcement.  "We have been lobbying like crazy in Ottawa," said Handling, "but as of this moment we cannot announce a federal commitment."  According to Allison Bain, the festival's associate managing director, just under $70 million has been raised toward a goal of $196 million — which would cover the cost of the building and include about $50 million for an endowment fund and $20 million for transitional operating expenses.  Reitman and the Daniels Group are contributing a minimum of $10 million in land value. Visa, a long-time festival corporate sponsor, has pledged $3.8 million. And one major Hollywood studio, Universal, is contributing $1.5 million. The festival is not ready to reveal the names of people and companies who have donated the rest of the money.  The next goal is finding a $30 million lead donor, who would take naming rights for the building.  "It sends a huge message to other donors that the province is onboard," said Handling.  "This is not a charitable donation," said Bain. "When it comes to the economic health of this province, we are part of the solution. The key people at Queen's Park understand that and they have made a smart and good decision."




7 Questions For Maggie Cheung

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Tralee Pearce

(Mar. 4, 2005) Actor, beauty, Asian film icon. Seventy-nine movies so far. Born Sept. 20, 1964, in Hong Kong; raised from age 8 in England. In 1983, began a modelling career after winning first runner-up in the Miss Hong Kong pageant.  Chances are, Maggie Cheung could have passed you on the sidewalk and you wouldn't have rubbernecked. Given to wearing simple black attire and pulled-back hair, Cheung doesn't even immediately trigger visions of her graceful warrior turn in the international box-office blockbuster Hero or any of the dozens of kung-fu films she has starred in since taking on the role of Jackie Chan's girlfriend in 1985's Police Story. Her stark, everyday style is more akin to the look of Emily, her character in the new film Clean, for which she won the best-actress prize at Cannes.

Written and directed by Cheung's now-ex-husband, Olivier Assayas, Clean is a British/Canadian/French co-production that opens with the heroin overdose of Emily's rock-star-has-been husband in a seedy motel room in Hamilton. With Nick Nolte playing her well-meaning father-in-law, we follow Cheung's punky drug addict as she struggles with a tenuous relationship with her son, in London and Paris, and speaking English, French and Cantonese. (In person, her faint British accent mingles with a dash of Hong Kong diction.) Clean is a quiet, poignant turn for Cheung, the kind of work that recently inspired The New York Times to ask, "Why Isn't Maggie Cheung a Hollywood star?"

There are details in Clean, such as Emily's first meal after emerging from a prison term for drug possession, in which she voraciously devours a diner meal. It rang true as the action of a recovering addict. How did you find the mannerisms that would make Emily believable?

Olivier and I have friends who have had this problem. They are what they are. They're not the junkies you see in films. One day one of them will be spaced out and smelling slightly bad. Then a few days later, you see him shaved and smelling better and you know he hasn't taken it for a few days. I didn't do any more research for the part. I've seen it and the data is in there. I just had to find the file and open it.

Nick Nolte has been very open about his own history with addiction. Did he offer you any insight about drugs?

He did it in a very subtle way. He didn't say, "Oh I know what this is, let me tell you." It was never like that. But during a scene, he would suddenly say, "I know that. That's happened to me." And I would listen. It all helped. And he'd give me confidence. He'd tell me, "Maggie, that's good."

The audience has to wait until near the end of the film for what is perhaps Emily's biggest emotional outburst, which happens when her life seems to be back on track. Why the wait?

For me, it was, "At last, whoever is up there is finally giving me something good." It's her first realization that she can do it. All along she is trying and she thinks she can, but she never confirms it. She's never had any achievements in her life up to this point. It's almost like the end of Kill Bill when Uma Thurman was holding her teddy bear and crying "thank you, thank you."

Throughout the film, we're just not convinced she'll succeed. Was it emotionally intense for you to keep her on the edge like that?

Yes and that's the way it is for all junkies. Each day is a new day, a new struggle. And there's Emily's son, too. He gives her a reason to be strong. In the film, there is a shot of a letter she writes asking for help from [the musician and actor] Tricky. They wrote a dummy for the shoot. I said, "This is all fake. This isn't what Emily would say." I [wrote another] myself and Olivier was happy with it. There were little mistakes, and a "p.s. I found a job." It was a quick moment in the film. We don't really see it, but I wrote, "this child is important to me because it's my only link to sanity. Without this link I don't think I can go on."

How does a film like Clean fit into your career thus far?

Since Hero, the next movie was Clean. I used to do a lot, up to nine or 10 films a year. In 1994, I stopped for two years. Then I made three films back to back. Since then, I do one every two years. Because I do so little, they become more. People will remember them more because it's not every month that you see a film with the same actor -- it gets very boring. Nicole Kidman is so great as an actress, but I think she's doing too much. I'm bored with her [movie] posters. Up to Moulin Rouge, her choices were brilliant. Then there was Cold Mountain and they've all become one for me. I want to avoid that.

The Chinese people see you as one of their own. There was a pointed question at a press conference about Emily not being particularly Chinese. Olivier Assayas has said that he wanted to write a film for you in which you were not an archetypal Chinese woman in a Western film. Still, do you feel people look to you to represent them?

Cannes was a good example. When I went back to Hong Kong, you could feel everybody was proud that this Hong Kong local has done that. But I also felt their regret that Clean is not a Hong Kong film. And that struck me: "Wow, it makes a difference for you guys." For me it doesn't, because I'm just doing my job. Whether it's Hero or In the Mood for Love. I have no personal problem with doing a nude scene in a film; however I can't do it because it would go to my country, and the people are not going to accept that. I have to respect that. Even though we can say the European or North American market is bigger, no, for me, I want Hong Kong to be my main market. They want to own me and I want to own them. It's out of willingness.

Was it surreal for you to have Hero open in Canada right around the same time as Clean was appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival?

Since Cannes in May, I didn't control any of it. It just fell into place. It's my 15 minutes, as Andy Warhol would say. Also without these last few months [up to her birthday in September], turning 40 might have made me think I'm going toward the end of my career. But it's a great end to my 30s. It gives me nice hope for the future. I can go further in my 40s. Once you have that in mind you make different decisions. It gives me a lot of confidence to explore more of what I want to do. I need a break. Clean is perfect for the self-cleansing technique. Throw it all away and start again. And it worked. This kind of film is a risk. A lot of audiences will feel there's no story. In Asia, they'd find it boring. But we're not looking at the story; it's the approach of this person. These kinds of films don't work everywhere. I just have to choose. And once in a while, put a Hero in there.




6 Questions with Andre 'Be Cool' Benjamin

Excerpt from

(Mar. 3, 2005) Dapper, irreverent and enormously talented, Andre Benjamin AKA Andre 3000 makes a leap into films this week co-starring in “Be Cool”, the hilarious MGM sequel to the 1995 box office hit “Get Shorty”.  Playing a rapper (obvious choice) in the F. Gary Grey directed film, Benjamin delivers a solid screen presence and showcases a strong penchant for comedy. With Hollywood offers quickly lining up (he’s got two more film due for release this year), RTSC grabbed the erudite rapper for our 6 Questions series to share with our readers how he learned to be cool. 

Robertson Treatment: What about this character appealed to you and what trepidations, if any, did you have about playing a gangster rapper given the fact that your own music doesn't have any of those elements at all?

Andre Benjamin:  I've known Gary, (Director F Gary Gray) since our first album  so when he calls me with the “Be Cool” script, I read it and I thought the story was great. I didn't like my character, so I told him I didn't want to play it, because I play a rapper in my first film role. But he was insistent and decided to take a meeting to discuss the part. We ended up fleshing the character out and adding more parody elements of what people think about rappers with the two-ways and all these platinum chains and stuff. Gary was very encouraging and because of him I thought that I would try it out.    try it.'

RT: Gary said that this character started off with no name and one line. So how did you build and embellish the character and how comfortable are you with guns?

Andre Benjamin: I'm not really comfortable with guns but I mean you've got to protect yourself, so it wasn’t out of line for him to have one. But Gary and I embellish the character to make it better.  We sat down and had a conversation after I read the script and gave my character a perspective and background. We came up with things like where is Dabu from and why he acts the way he does… We made up a back story My back story is that my character is from the south and sold records out of his trunk. Sin's character, (Cedric the Entertainer) discovers us and we blow up.  And so when that happens, which it does happen in music that's your man for life and you know you'll do anything for that person cause they got you out of the gutter. Dabu dresses the way he does because of his background. If you never had nothing then once you get it you want everybody to know. So you get all the chains, and all the beepers, and all the pagers and stuff. 

RT: Can you talk about the opportunity to be in a movie with all these great people? Who did you look forward to most, who was the biggest surprise working with and what was it like to meet these people you wanted to work with so much?

Andre Benjamin: I think I was excited to see Harvey Keitel. I've been a fan of John Travolta since I was little when he was on Welcome Back Carter. Uma (Thurman) for sure, Vince Vaughn, you know he was always funny to me. But you got to imagine I'm a beginner and new to this, so I was a little timid and tiptoed around the set trying not to make mistakes--trying to be real perfect. As an actor, over thinking your part can sometimes kill your performance, so I had to ease into it.  Being able to sit down and talk to John (Travolta) about flying airplanes and houses and all this type of stuff was a real thrill. . And Cedric and I tripped the whole movie. We had a good time. 

RT: Did you base this role on someone that you knew

Andre Benjamin: I know people in the rap game who act just like that. I have friends just like that. We joke and talk about each other. I channelled a certain type of rapper and kind of pumped it up. I do know people like that and when they see the movie they will be like, "Yeah. I know you got that from me."

RT: What can we expect on Four Brothers?

Andre Benjamin: Four Brothers, John Singleton is directing. It's a story about four adult brothers who were adopted as kids. It’s myself, Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, and Garrett Hedlund. It takes place in Detroit, I'm the only brother that stayed and made something of myself. My character has a wife and two kids. After someone kills our  adopted mother, my brothers come back into town for the funeral but and to do a little investigation to see if the cop story is true. To see if it was a random shooting in a convenient store and it wasn't, it was a hit. So we have to find out who did it and that’s where a lot of twist and turns develop.  But its fun! We’re in Toronto right now shooting on the frozen lake. (Laughs) So look out for it.

RT: What can we expect from the OUTKAST movie?

Andre Benjamin: The OUTKAST movie is finished. I haven't seen it yet, but I have talked to Bryan (Barber) the other day, Bryan Barber directed and he told me it looks phenomenal. It's a musical that takes place in the 1930's. It's a love story mixed with a gangster story and my character is a mortician, from a long line of morticians. Big Boi's character is this hustler guy who has to end up taking over this club, like a little juke joint type of thing and he gets mixed up in smuggling liquor. I fall in love with this girl who comes to town and blah blah blah… I'm not going to tell you the whole story, but its done and they're trying to decide right now if they are going to release it in theatres or on cable. 

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A Filmmaker's Muse?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Jason Anderson

(Mar. 4, 2005) A Miami shylock turned Hollywood player, Chili Palmer is one of Elmore Leonard's signature creations. Charming, savvy and menacing when he needs to be, Chili knows his own personality is his best asset. As Chili explains to a buddy in the opening scene of Leonard's novel Be Cool -- his 1999 follow-up to both his 1990 novel Get Shorty and the hit movie it inspired five years later -- the most important element of any story is the people in it. ''I don't think of a plot and then put characters in it,'' he says. ''I start with different characters and see where they take me.''  In the stories, screenplays and nearly 40 novels he has written in his 53-year career as an author, Elmore (Dutch) Leonard has repeatedly proved the value of Chili's ethos. While the idea of putting character ahead of story would seem to be antithetical to the not-so-high concepts preferred by Hollywood studios, Leonard's works have been irresistible to filmmakers in search of material. That's because the characters he follows are not like the ones in so many contemporary novels. Not given to moments of anguished self-reflection, Leonard's cops and crooks reveal themselves by what they say and what they do. Given the abundance of talk and action in his books, it's amazing that Hollywood has botched the task of adapting them so often. Of living American writers, only Stephen King has inspired more adaptations. With a total of 19 feature films adapted from his original works, Leonard is well ahead of John Grisham and Michael Crichton. Yet even Dutch can't sit through most of those. Though essentially light-hearted in nature, Leonard's capers have been roughed up and dumbed down in order to fit the mould of the action thriller -- John Frankenheimer's nasty 1986 adaptation of 52 Pick-Up is typical of the misfires in the seventies and eighties.

With Get Shorty, the first adaptation that actually "worked" in Leonard's estimation (though his early western tales yielded two great movies in 1957's The Tall T and 1967's Hombre), Barry Sonnenfeld nailed the tricky balance of humour and malice in these raucous crime stories. Its popularity finally established Leonard as a bankable brand in Hollywood. Having suffered for so long, the author's faithful fans couldn't believe their luck with the snappy Get Shorty or two subsequent adaptations that bettered it, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. Alas, a different malady has emerged in recent years. Instead of becoming too coarse, now Leonard's characters get way too cute. That makes the last two adaptations -- 2004's The Big Bounce and Be Cool, out today -- not half as much fun as they think they are, largely because they turn Chili Palmer and his rivals into crass cartoons. The vogue for Leonard might never have happened if not for the meteoric rise of an ardent fan. Quentin Tarantino's interest was stoked when the teenaged proto-auteur shoplifted a paperback of Stick. Leonard's huge influence on Tarantino was all over his first movie. Until Reservoir Dogs, crooks in movies didn't sit around gabbing about the lyrics in Madonna's Like a Virgin. Tarantino introduced a fresh kind of character for the nineties: the criminal as hipster motor mouth. Suddenly, the movies were full of wise guys who wouldn't shut up about their favourite comic books. Of course, those fellas had long been common in Leonard's world. In 1994, Tarantino repaid the stylistic debt when he and Miramax bought the rights to four Leonard novels. Three years later, the deal yielded Jackie Brown, Tarantino's adaptation of Rum Punch. Though Tarantino changed the race of the feisty heroine in order to turn it into a vehicle for Pam Grier, Leonard rightly cites Jackie Brown as the best of the lot. But many who expected Tarantino to follow Pulp Fiction with another violent thriller didn't take to the low-key character study he created. And despite the combined star power of George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, Steven Soderbergh's suave version of Out of Sight also underperformed commercially. The failure of films based on Touch and The Big Bounce -- plus the smart but short-lived TV series Karen Sisco and Maximum Bob -- pointed to a Leonard glut. Leonard's readers may prefer neglect to more abuse from Hollywood, but Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight illustrate what happens when his stories get the right interpreters. And hopes are high for a forthcoming adaptation of Tishomingo Blues, the sharpest of Leonard's recent novels. It will be the directorial debut by Oscar-nominee Don Cheadle. Maybe it takes an actor to remind Hollywood how much respect guys like Chili deserve.




Cicely Tyson On Top

Excerpt from - By Karu F. Daniels (New York, NY)

 “If there’s a cure for this, I don’t want it. I don’t want it.”

(Mar. 3, 2005) ONE TOUGH BROAD: Stage and screen actress Cicely Tyson has made a triumphant comeback to the big screen.   The past two weeks have seen the release of her two most recent film projects, “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” open in wide release, with the latter hitting #1 at the box-office this week. And just to think, the three-time Emmy Award winning thespian, known for more serious fare such as “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” “Roots” and “A Lesson Before Dying,” initially scoffed at the idea of starring in the Tyler Perry-written slapstick comedy.   “I have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for Kimberly Elise,” Ms. Tyson revealed said in a rare and candid interview. “So she called me up and she said ‘Well, now let me tell you, this isn’t your kind of thing and you may not want to do it but I would love it if you would and we have some beautiful scenes together. So they’re going to call your agent and talk to him about it.’  They did and my agent then sent me the script and I called her and I said ‘Well, I don’t know, maybe we should wait.’ “ Ms. Tyson, who had a experienced a Hollywood misstep in 1997 with Bill Duke’s catastrophic period piece “Hoodlum,” is known throughout the industry as someone who isn’t an easy customer. She’s notoriously known for being meticulous about the roles she chooses.   She disclosed that she pondered the thought of starring in “Diary” further, and yielded to Ms. Elise’s wishes. “[Kimberly Elise] said, ‘But I don’t want to wait.’ And I said ‘Ya know, what am I waiting for? Let’s just go ahead and do it.’  And I’m really glad that I did.”

Having Ms. Tyson grace the independent Lions Gate flick was a very good look. Not too many first time efforts can boast such a living legend.  Mr. Perry, an Atlanta-based playwright who has made a fortune off of traveling stage musicals widely known as “Chit’lin Circuit” plays, didn’t take the coup lightly.   “I tell you what he did to me and I finally fixed him,” Ms. Tyson divulged. “From the time I arrived, I walked into a suite that was covered in flowers, from one end of it to the other. And every day, two or three times a day came more flowers. Flowers, flowers, flowers. So finally, I called him up one night and I said, ‘Ya know, I think I got the message.’ And he said, ‘What are you talking about?’ and I said, ‘I understand what you’re trying to say to me and I have come to a decision and I have decided that I am going to relinquish this suite, I am leaving.  So the flowers can have the suite.”   “The man almost had a heart attack,” she continued, laughing hysterically. “And if that wasn’t bad enough, he did the same thing to [veteran Hollywood power broker] Reuben Cannon and he was in bed sleeping…then they turned around and did it to my agent who almost had a heart attack because he knows that I am quite capable of doing such a thing. Until the night I was leaving at one o’clock, here came three men lined up with flowers all over the place. It was unbelievable.”

Ms. Tyson, who turns the ripe old age of 72 this year, has no other film projects in development but will be honoured at this year’s Sixth Annual Jamerican Film & Music Festival. “We look forward to honouring the legendary Miss Cicely Tyson,” festival founder and accomplished actress Sheryl Lee Ralph told “The RU Report” this week, citing that Ms. Tyson will receive “the Marcus Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding body of work and undying commitment to the betterment of her community as a citizen of the world.” Ms. Tyson, however, doesn’t respond to adulation very well. During the very forthright discussion, the former Mrs. Miles Davis sneered: “I have to look up [the word  ‘legend’] in the dictionary and see what it actually means. It differs from what it meant when I was coming up as a child.  The meaning is not quite the same. I’ve heard it applied to too many people that I don’t think of as such, and that includes myself.” Alrighty then. “I am here for a reason,” the Spanish Harlem turned Atlanta suburbs transplant continued on,  “and obviously I have not completed my work and when my work is done, that will be it.” 

Touche.  I must congratulate the team over at Donna Daniels Public Relations (no relation) for working on a excellent grassroots campaign and making sure they the right folks were exposed to the movie. Lions Gate has done the right thing by having the New York City-based firm oversee the movie’s publicity campaign. “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” directed by music video lens-man Darren Grant grossed close to $22 million during its opening weekend, a whopping $14,771 per screen according to estimates.  The film, which cost just $5 million to produce, stars Ms. Elise as a wronged woman, and also features soap opera star Shemar Moore and Steve Harris, formerly of “The Practice.” And of course the cross-dressing playwright Mr. Perry, who brings one of his beloved characters, Madea, to the big screen.  Ms. Tyson most likely won’t garner another Academy Award nomination, like she did for 1972’s “Sounder,” for this latest cinematic offering.  But who needs awards, anyway.  She admitted that she didn’t keep the three Emmy Awards she’s already won.

What? “I said ‘I don’t keep them?’ (laughing) That should be enough of you!  I don’t have a thing in my house to indicate that I am in show business at all. [I’m] dead serious. I do things for others, not for myself. I don’t sit around and look at pictures of myself. I don’t watch my movies.  The joy and the gratification for me comes in the doing of it.”  Now, that’s ‘tough.’




Voice Of Experience: Comic Who Had Fun Making Kids Movie Robots

Excerpt from The Toronto Star 

(Mar. 7, 2005) HOLLYWOOD—Drew Carey is a self-professed "gadget geek." He loves his digital camera, his iPod and his Treo 600 cell phone — even though it doesn't work outside of the United States.  "I was just in Trinidad and I wanted to make some calls," he says. "I was like, 'I'm rich. Why don't I have a phone that works all over the world?'"  Good point. Especially when you consider how much traveling the Ohio-born comic has done lately, after providing one of the voices for Robots, the next big-budget animated kids movie, which opens Friday.  After a quick stop in Las Vegas for last month's Super Bowl (he bet the under and won), Carey headed straight to Port of Spain to cheer on the U.S. men's team in the World Cup soccer qualifiers.  "I got into soccer about a year and a half ago," he explains from a 14th floor suite at the Four Seasons hotel. "I can't root for any (local) team that is not from Cleveland, so you will never catch me cheering for the Dodgers or the Lakers. But I really missed going to sporting events."  This spring, Carey hopes to watch his team compete in London, Cambodia, and South America. That leaves little time for a day job. But at 46, the former U.S. Marine, who once played in his high school marching band, doesn't really mind.  In fact, he seems to prefer spending time taking photographs, playing video games ("I have one room at home with 10 iMacs set up just to play Medal of Honor") and watching "really bad" movies with his friends. "The last time we got together, we watched Showgirls."  Carey is not, however, a fan of primetime television. Or more to the point, the idea of returning to the small screen for another series.  "I don't know why I would bother," he says. "I am not going to make enough money to make a real difference in my life and I would miss all these great years where I could be traveling to China or Vietnam."  Okay, but what about this theory: Perhaps the actor is still be a bit soured by the way The Drew Carey Show was unceremoniously cancelled last year after eight seasons and 233 episodes.

"I wish somebody would have noticed or said something," Carey admits. "It was really disappointing, but what are you going to do? At least the cheques cleared. So I am enjoying those."  No kidding. By the show's third season, Carey was pocketing more than $300,000 (U.S.) per episode. Plus residuals. And he's still cashing in on Who's Line Is It Anyway in syndication.  He earned a relatively modest paycheque to lend his voice to Robots. "I really only did it for the shits and giggles," he says. "You get a doll made out of you. And kids are going to watch you their whole life and go `Wow, you're the guy from that movie!'"  Carey, a Kent State University alumnus (he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity) joins Robin Williams, Halle Berry and Amanda Bynes in the comedy about a world in which only Robots exist.  "There are really a lot of laughs in it, lots of eye candy. Your eyeballs will just be jumping around in your head like a slot machine."  And who knows, it may even help you get lucky. "I took a date to the cast screening and she just loved it," Carey says. "If you really want to impress a girl, take her to see your movie."  The irony, of course, is that Carey, like many actors, ordinarily refuses to watch himself on screen. "I never liked the sound of my voice and I don't like seeing pictures of myself."  So it comes as little surprise that Carey has always tended to be a bit hard on himself. He suffered years of depression after his father passed away in 1967, and attempted suicide on several occasions. Much of Carey's personal struggle is addressed in his 1999 autobiography: Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of The Unrefined.  His health problems, on the other hand, made national headlines. In 2001, Carey underwent emergency surgery to open blocked arteries to his heart. "I am hyper-aware of my own mortality now," he says.

Yet Carey hasn't completely dedicated himself to healthy living. "I did for a while, then my mom got sick and I started eating crap again ... and I never looked back. Before that I was afraid to eat a cheeseburger because I thought I would keel over."  Beluah Carey eventually lost her six-year battle with cancer in April 2002 at age 79. And through it all, her only son found comfort in food.  "She had a really slow, lingering death — something you wouldn't put a dog through." Carey says. "It was depressing and to make myself feel better I would go to Bob Evan's (a popular restaurant in the San Fernando Valley) and get their roast beef sandwich. I could sit there for an hour and not think about anything except how good that sandwich was."  There have, of course, been plenty more ups than downs for the funnyman, who first arrived in Hollywood with his girlfriend Jackie in 1988.  "We broke up, so I ended up traveling the country in my Subaru doing stand up for a year and a half. I blame that Subaru for breaking us up because I was always on the road trying to earn money.'  Fortunately, the sacrifice paid off. In 2003, Carey received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.  His mother would be proud.




King Me: The Lovely Regina King On ‘Miss Congeniality 2’ And Life After ‘Ray’

Excerpt from

(Mar. 9, 2005) *When the costume designers of “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” drew a picture of the tight dress Regina King would be wearing during a performance scene, the actress immediately thought of the food she wouldn’t be able to eat. “I was like, ‘Okaaaaay, no junk food, huh? Damn,” King told us Friday in Beverly Hills. She had endured the no junk food diet for her previous role of Ray Charles’ background singer-turned-lover Margie Hendrix in Universal’s “Ray,” and thought the role of uptight FBI agent Sam Fuller in a light comedy opposite Sandra Bullock would be a bit of a break. It wasn’t.   Talk about your diary of a mad black woman.  Fuller has been bounced in and out of various Bureaus around the country because of her “attitude problem.”  She lands in the office run by Ernie Hudson’s Agent McDonald, where she is dumped into the low-profile job of guarding Agent Gracie Hart (Bullock), whom she can not stand. They get to scrappin’ at every turn, which required numerous choreographed fight scenes, one intense choking exchange and even a dramatic rescue King and Bullock filmed underwater. Of course, every zany comedy must have a lip-sync moment – and this one is no different. Eventually, Sam and Gracie must infiltrate a drag club and perform on stage.  But instead of Bullock taking the comedic spotlight for the lip-sync, she dished the big comedic moment off to King, who sacrificed some choice junk food to squeeze into a skin-tight dress and impersonate Tina Turner.

“In the original script, Sandy’s character was actually the one who did all that, which just goes to show how giving she is,” King says. “She’s not a person who’s like, ‘It’s all about me.’ Originally, my character freezes up and can’t sing, and then she steps in and does it. She was like, ‘No, I think Sam needs to do it.  That’s the one moment that we really fall in love with Sam.  We need to see her have fun. She can’t be hard through the whole thing.’”    You have to wonder if the generosity would’ve been extended before King’s searing performance in “Ray” made Hollywood finally bow down. The L.A. native says the calibre of post-‘Ray’ scripts coming her way has changed very little, but she has noticed subtle differences in other areas.  “I would like to think that the marketing campaign for [‘Miss Congeniality 2’] probably changed a little bit because I’m in the commercials like crazy, so ‘Ray’ probably had a little bit to do with it,” she says. “But unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of great scripts out there.  I will continue to be selective with what I do.  I feel like this is a great follow-up for ‘Ray.’” King will follow-up “Congeniality 2” with a CBS pilot entitled “The Unit,” about members of a Special Forces unit and their families.  If picked up, the show will mark the artist’s first return to series television following “227,” which thrust the then 14-year-old onto the scene in 1985. More than 20 films later, Hollywood is finally beginning to embrace the skills we’ve known she’s had since drinking Dough Boy’s 40 oz in “Boyz n the Hood.”   It was Regina King who first told us in the summer of 2003 that we should stage a boycott against the Academy Awards if Jamie Foxx wasn’t nominated for “Ray.”  Now that Foxx has actually taken home the Oscar – not to mention several other awards – King couldn’t be happier for her co-star.  

“I can’t explain how awesome it’s been to be a part of it,” she says. “I just really wish that more aspects of the movie were recognized. I thought the wardrobe was beautiful. I feel like Taylor Hackford, the director, did an incredible job. I’m so grateful that we won for the sound and mixing.  [But] the makeup and the hair, I just wish that there were more avenues for those people to be praised more.” Hmmm, that’s the same thing folks are saying about King.  "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous" opens March 24.




Cinéfranco Back For 8th Year

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Mar. 9, 2005) Cultural identity and immigration are themes running through many of the 50-plus films at this year's Cinéfranco festival April 1-10 at the Royal theatre.  The line-up for the eighth annual celebration of international francophone cinema, announced yesterday, includes Exiles, a road movie about a couple who leave Paris to explore their Algerian roots, which won Tony Gatlif the Best Director award at the 2004 Cannes festival, and Monsieur Ibrahim director François Dupeyron's Clandestine, the story of a Kurdish man's harrowing trip through France to reach England.  "Some of our most poignant films explore young people in transition," said Marcelle Lean, the festival's founder and driving force, citing The Battlefields, a first feature by young Lebanese director Daniel Arbid and set in 1983 Beirut and Buffalo Boy, which is set in Vietnam in 1940 during the French occupation.  The festival has grown into an anticipated harbinger of spring for the surprisingly large number of fans of French-language films in Toronto. In addition to France, this year's films originate in Quebec, Belgium, Guinea, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Morocco, Switzerland and Vietnam.  Filmmaker Jeanne Labrune, from France, and Moroccan writer-director Saâd Chraïbi, will attend.  Tickets go on sale Friday on the main floor at the Manulife Centre, and at the Royal (608 College St.) during the festival. For more information call 416-967-1528 or go to




Mendes, Nia Long Respond To ‘Hitch’s’ Race-Based Casting

Excerpt from

(Mar. 7, 2005) *In the March 14 issue of “Newsweek,” (on stands today), “Hitch” star Eva Mendes speaks out about Hollywood’s penchant for casting Latinas instead of black actresses as love interests for black leading men.  “Newsweek” correspondent Allison Samuels asks Mendes, who stars as Will Smith’s love interest in “Hitch,” why she is considered too dark to be paired with a white lead, but just right for an African-American?  "I don't even know what to say about it anymore," Mendes tells the magazine. "Certainly I've benefited, because I've got to work with Ice Cube, Denzel and Will. But it's lame. I wish the mentality wasn't so closed."  Samuels points out in the article that more black men are married to white women than to Latinas-and the conventional wisdom is, as actress Nia Long puts it, "two black characters equals a black film and not just a movie about two people."  Moreover, Samuels writes, Hispanics are now the largest American minority group: businesswise, it's a no-brainer. The casting of Smith and Mendes "just is a good business sense," says Jeff Friday, a producer and founder of American Black Film Festival.  Long says Smith has called her several times about roles, though not for "Hitch." "Will obviously has say, but not completely," she says. "If we can't play the girlfriend, then Hollywood has to figure out what to do with us."




Maseko:  South African Director Makes History

Excerpt from

(Mar. 7, 2005)*Director Zola Maseko on Saturday became the first South African to win the top prize at Africa’s premiere film festival for "Drum," a movie about apartheid set amid the jazz clubs of 1950s Johannesburg.  Maseko was awarded the Etalon d'Or de Yennenga, the Golden Stallion of Yennenga, and a cash prize of 10 million CFA francs ($20,000) at the closing ceremony of the Fespaco film festival in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, reports AP.  "This is an honour for South African people, their beauty, their strength, their resilience in fighting and overcoming one of the most brutal regimes of the last century," said Maseko, who dedicated his prize to his producer, who was shot dead during a robbery in Johannesburg last year.  Set in Johannesburg’s bohemian Sophiatown, "Drum" tells the story of the magazine of the same name and its anti-apartheid campaigning journalist Henry Nxumalo.




Nova Scotia Boosts Film-Tax Credits

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Mar. 9, 2005) Halifax -- Nova Scotia is extending and increasing its film-tax credits in a bid to lure more movie productions to the province. The province's film industry has generated more than $100-million worth of production in each of the past six years and employs about 2,000 people. Premier John Hamm said yesterday the tax credit will be extended for 10 years. The tax break for urban productions will increase to 35 per cent from 30 and to 40 per cent from 35 for anything shot in rural areas. Hamm also announced an additional $600,000 in funding for the Nova Scotia Film Development Corp. for existing programming. Several movies have been shot in Nova Scotia in recent years, including Titanic. CP




Veteran Cobbs Replaces Late Ossie Davis; Coolio Plays His Nephew

Excerpt from

(Mar. 9, 2005) *Bill Cobbs has replaced the late Ossie Davis in Corner Stone Pictures' comedy "Retirement," which follows four cranky Florida retirees who decide to embark on a road trip to Las Vegas, stopping in New Orleans en route.   Cobbs joins lead actors Peter Falk, Rip Torn and George Segal, while rapper Coolio stars as big-time rapper Master Flow, who is nephew to Cobbs' character, Marvin. "Working on this picture has been an adventure," Coolio said. "My one regret is that I did not get a chance to work with Ossie Davis. I was really looking forward to that.” The braided rapper has also written two original songs that he will perform in the film, one of which takes place onstage in New Orleans, where Coolio's character meets up with the four men and joins them in their journey. Both songs will appear on the soundtrack, as well as Coolio’s forthcoming album, due in late spring. This "Grumpy Old Men" meets "Road Trip" production is being filmed on location in Miami, New Orleans and Las Vegas.







All In The Follows Family

Excerpt from The Toronto Star  - By Gayle MacDonald

(Mar. 7, 2005) Two Follows sisters are sitting in their mother's pitch-black living room, a fire roaring behind them, laughing about how folks in the neighbourhood used to scurry by their Toronto home, whispering, ''That's where those crazy actors live.''  The reputation, by all accounts, was well deserved. All four siblings -- Megan, Samantha, Laurence and Edwina -- as well as mom, Dawn Greenhalgh, and dad, Ted, were in show biz and renowned for their love of real-life theatrics. "My parents were known as the Fighting Follows," grins Megan, best known to a global legion of fans as the feisty Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables TV movies. Boisterous arguments in the lead-up to, and fallout from, their parents' divorce many decades ago had tongues wagging for years in Canada's tight-knit theatre community. "Our house was mad," the 34-year-old Gemini winner continues. "We're a family of no secrets. There are no shrinking violets. We let it all out." No wonder the neighbours were terrified. The walls often literally shook -- both with laughter and tears. But today, the century-old home, a hodgepodge of shabby-chic furnishings, is all quiet and calm. The girls have assembled in their 72-year-old mom's cluttered living room to talk about a new joint project they are about to begin. All parties are excited and not just a little nervous about it. Called My Mother's House, it's a six-part CBC series by veteran writer-producer Charles Lazer and Edwina (scribe of the film The Dinosaur Hunter and such TV shows as Traders and Riverdale). It promises to explore the loving, but often battle-scarred, relations of a mother (played by Greenhalgh) and her youngest daughter (Megan). A comedy/drama that is far more factual than most reality TV, My Mother's House begins when Megan moves back home to her mom's with two small kids after her marriage breaks up in L.A. (all of which happened).  Then, with loads of black humour, the show explores the challenges of being a child star, the loss of a sense of self when life hands out a sour lemon to suck on for a while, and how family shapes who we are -- good and bad. The lucky ones, like the Follows, somehow manage to stick through it all more or less intact.

"Stepping into her mother's house is like stepping on a land mine," says Megan, who is engaged to actor Stuart Hughes. "For someone so completely identified with Anne [Shirley], playing Megan Follows, a single mom with two kids, is like playing a completely different character," she adds. Produced by Peter Meyboom (The Newsroom, Hemingway vs. Callaghan), the Follows women plan to start shooting this summer. "Picking up from when my marriage ended, and I moved home, I thought was the perfect way to explore those decisive moments in life, but have fun with it. To have a laugh at myself. "The problem with growing up acting since 8 is you have a kind of warped sense of reality about who you really are. Actors are also perennially children, who like to play. There are huge rewards that go with that, but it also means you're not always so good living in the real world when it starts to fall apart. This show is about dysfunction and trying to make healthy choices. And all the crap in between." Edwina, who lives with her husband and kids in Toronto, says there are always fireworks when show business and family life collide. Writing this series has helped her better understand her mom and sister's acting psyches. "Edwina takes care of us all," quips her mother, a veteran of Stratford and Canadian Players, who keeps sneaking out onto the ramshackle front porch for quick smokes. Edwina, 43, shrugs that off. "The show is ultimately a testament to everything we've experienced growing up in a theatrical family. It wasn't always easy, but none of us ran in the opposite direction and became accountants or engineers." Indeed, they've all performed together before. In the early 1980s on CTV's The Littlest Hobo, the entire Follows clan participated. Then 20 years later they regrouped -- bringing along partners (Hughes) and spouses (Samantha's hubby Sean O'Bryan) -- to do Noel Coward's brilliant comedy Hay Fever at Ontario's Gravenhurst Theatre. The play, which celebrates the days when theatrical dynasties put themselves and their family battles proudly on stage, got rave reviews, but was hell to make. The parents, much happier hanging out together now without familial obligations, got along famously. The siblings bickered non-stop, forcing the production manager to line them up one day and ask them to behave.

"I was the sacrificial lamb of that production," adds Megan. "I had to do love scenes with my father and my brother. Need I say more?" "I was holding the play together -- as usual," says Dawn, not skipping a beat. Edwina promises this new series will neatly encapsulate the essence of her lead characters, with all their bravado, bluster, vulnerability and insecurities. "Megan and mom are extremely close. They share a bond and understanding because this business can be so hard, so full of rejection and superficiality. But they do go at it. They're both drama queens," the eldest Follows child says. "There's an ancient Chinese saying that two women living under one roof is dangerous. Well, two divas living under one roof is one better," she promises. "Our family is like war buddies, and we've been through the trenches together." Samantha, who lives in L.A., will also have a guest-starring role. For all its emphasis on farce, this TV show will also pull some heartstrings as it inevitably forces mother and daughter to explore some wounds of the past. That prospect has both Megan and Dawn terrified. "I'm exhilarated because I'm actively creating something," says Megan. "And I'm absolutely terrified because there's nothing to hide behind. This is about having the courage to really put yourself, as yourself, out there."

There's a line in one episode where a frustrated Megan says to Dawn: "Oh, right, I forgot. First you're an actress and then you're a mother." An offended Dawn retorts: "That's absolutely untrue. You know I would die for you." And Megan responds: "Yes, but only if it would make a good scene." Ouch. Biography. Real life. And fiction. Whatever it ends up being, My Mother's House won't be dull.




"All My Children" Leads Daytime Emmys Nominees

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Mar. 2, 2005) New York — ABC's All My Children earned a leading 18 Daytime Emmy nominations Wednesday, while The View and The Ellen DeGeneres Show both had 11 in talk show categories. DeGeneres's show won last year's award for best talk show — in its freshman season — and will be competing in that category this year against The View, Live With Regis & Kelly, Dr. Phil and Soap Talk. All My Children will compete for best drama series, with its star Michael Knight nominated for best actor along with Roger Howarth of As the World Turns, Jack Wagner of The Bold and the Beautiful, Steve Burton of General Hospital, Grant Aleksander of Guiding Light and Christian Jules LeBlanc of The Young and the Restless. Oddly, the eight nominees for best actress didn't include anyone from All My Children or seemingly perennial nominee Susan Lucci. The best actress nominees were: Martha Byrne, As the World Turns; Susan Flannery, The Bold and the Beautiful; Nancy Lee Grahn, General Hospital; Kim Zimmer, Guiding Light; Erika Slezak and Kassie DePaiva, One Life to Live; Juliet Mills, Passions; and Michelle Stafford, The Young and the Restless. Martha Stewart Living received three nominations. She's being released from prison at the end of this week and, if she wants, can ask federal probation officials for permission to attend the awards ceremony. The 32nd annual awards are scheduled for May 20 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, televised by CBS.. General Hospital and Guiding Light both received 13 nominations, as did the venerable children's show Sesame Street. The hosts of all the nominated talk shows also earned nominations for best talk show host.




Networks Submit Wish Lists

Source:  Canadian Press

(Mar. 4, 2005) Canadian broadcasters are publicizing some of their programming plans and ideas for the 2005-2006 season.  CBC is requesting financial assistance from the Canadian Television Fund for miniseries on the 1990 Oka standoff and the 1970 FLQ crisis, TV movies about Conrad Black and hockey wives and regular series Da Vinci's Inquest, Colin Mochrie's Getting Along Famously and Mary Walsh's Hatching, Matching and Dispatching.  CTV's wish list includes Whistler, a new 13-part one-hour series set in the B.C. resort town, Last Exit, a TV movie about two women whose lives one day collide, literally, and Doomstown, a movie-of-the-week set in a Toronto inner-city community. The network's list also includes returning series — Corner Gas, Degrassi: The Next Generation and Instant Star.  CTV also plans a Conrad Black biopic, but says it will not require CTF funding.  Global TV plans three series, including 13 episodes of Falcon Beach and 22 of The Jane Show, both of which have had pilots airing on Global already. In addition, Global will co-producer a second season of ReGenesis, which debuted last season on pay cable. There are also plans for documentaries, including one about a national spelling bee, and Past Lives, a series that takes a genealogical look at the immigrant odyssey in Canada.  With the production order deadline having expired Wednesday, the Canadian networks are making public the program ideas they want underwritten by the fund, the public-private sector source of financing that is invariably short on money to satisfy all subsidy requests.  Decisions are announced in early May.




Rather Departed But Not Defeated

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon

(Mar. 9, 2005) Dan Rather, the sombre face of CBS Evening News for nearly a quarter century, steps down tonight, bloodied but unbowed.  It's not a retirement, says Rather, 73, so much as a transition; he will become a correspondent for the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes.  Unlike NBC's Tom Brokaw, who bid an emotional farewell in December, in the redolent twilight of a storied and uncontroversial career, Rather's extrication from the CBS anchor desk arrives with a mixture of lukewarm respect and boiling contempt.  An hour after Rather presides over his final newscast — Bob Schieffer will take over on an interim basis — the network will air a one-hour retrospective titled Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers (CBS, 8 p.m. tonight).  The special will examine Rather's four-decade career with CBS, in which he covered everything from the assassination of John F. Kennedy to Vietnam to Watergate to the Iraq wars, including an exclusive interview with Saddam Hussein.  Rather has been on the scene for dozens of momentous events, starting with 1961's Hurricane Carla, which killed 43 people. On that September day, Rather reported live from a seawall in Galveston, Texas, bracing against the Category 5 whirlwind.  Ironically, it was a story, 43 years later, that put Rather in the eye of a proverbial storm.  A misguided report last fall about George W. Bush's military service forced CBS to fire a producer and ask for the resignation of three news executives.  The now-discredited report, which aired on Sept. 8, claimed Bush had received preferential treatment while serving in the National Guard. However, CBS could not verify a key, incriminating document, which was later deemed a forgery by third-party critics.

An independent investigation was launched. The panel released a scathing, 224-page report on Jan. 10, which found several problems with the segment but concluded it was not pursued with a political agenda.  Conservatives flatly dispute this, arguing Rather has always operated with liberal bias. In 1974, U.S. president Richard Nixon sarcastically asked, "Are you running for something, Mr. Rather?" His return volley — "No sir, Mr. President, are you?" — set off a political firestorm that galvanized Rather, in conservative circles, as the enemy.  In 1988, during another memorable exchange, Rather got into a shouting match over the Iran-Contra scandal with the elder George Bush, who was then vice-president.  A few years later, conservatives would bristle at his perceived kid-glove treatment of Bill Clinton, saying it further illuminated Rather's liberal predilections.  To understand just how far Rather has fallen, consider this: After being inundated with hostile, anti-Rather feedback, one Michigan station asked viewers to vote this week on whether it should even air tonight's retrospective.  In this age of group-think blogs, partisan pack hunting and online petitions, the process of political demonization has assumed a new expediency. But, politics aside, Rather's slow demise ultimately had more to do with his inability to connect with viewers as an anchor at a time when broadcast news was, itself, struggling to remain relevant.  As a young reporter, Rather was aggressive, fearless, determined to "speak truth to power." He aspired to the venerable standards of his hero, Edward R. Murrow.  He worked the phones and reported Kennedy's death 17 minutes before it was officially confirmed. He won Emmys for his Watergate stories. He was on the ground in Vietnam and, in 1980, Afghanistan, where he donned local garments to avoid snipers. Though the so-called Memogate scandal will haunt him forever, too many forget it was Rather who broke the Abu Ghraib story.  By sharp and painful contrast, Rather never looked comfortable behind the anchor desk, even when he was a ratings leader. As the years went by, he increasingly became a caricature of himself, a self-conscious facsimile of what a network anchor should be.  In 1982, he briefly traded the requisite suit for a sweater. Also that year, after a story about Mexican immigrants, Rather signed off a newscast by saying "courage," in Spanish. For the last 20 years, the real Dan Rather has been searching for the television Dan Rather.

By the late '80s, the ratings stranglehold CBS News had enjoyed with Cronkite was weakening. Between 1993 and 1995, the network teamed Rather with Connie Chung, only hastening a decline in viewership. (CBS Evening News has lagged behind NBC and ABC for years now.)  So Rather leaves not at the top, where he began, but near the bottom, a shadow of his former self, a lightning rod and punching bag for those who have spent years railing against the abstraction of liberal bias.  His arsenal of homespun similes — or "Ratherisms," as they are called — has only added an unintentional comedic flourish to his tragic tumble from the top.  Adding insult to injury, several CBS legends — Cronkite, Mike Wallace, Don Hewitt — were quoted in a March 7 New Yorker article with less than flattering assessments of Rather's work.  Born in 1931, in Wharton, Texas, Rather began his career as a reporter for the Associated Press at the age of 19. He wanted to end his run on March 9, 2006, 25 years to the day after he succeeded Cronkite.  Rather's critics are undoubtedly chilling champagne in breathless anticipation of tonight's farewell broadcast. But the idea that Rather will simply vanish come tomorrow might be wishful thinking.  In his Manhattan office, there is a framed Scottish proverb that neatly conveys a pugnacious attitude: "I am wounded, but I am not slain. I shall lay me down and bleed a while, then I shall rise and fight again."








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

(Mar. 4, 2005) The Broadway-born musical phenom imagines the complicated history that bonds the Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. As in Gregory Maguire's 1995 novel of the same title, two girls form an unlikely friendship in the land of Oz. The lass with the green skin is whip-smart, passionate and deeply misunderstood. Her counterpart is pretty, ambitious and popular. Of course, life being just an endless repetition of high school, guess which one gets the bum rap?  Begins March 8. Tues. to Sat., 8 p.m.; Wed., Sat. and Sun. matinees, 2 p.m. $26 to $110 (try your luck with the daily lottery draw for a pair of $25 box seats). Canon Theatre, 244 Victoria St., 416-872-1212.




Broadway’s Billy Porter Opens ‘Ghetto Superstar’

Excerpt from

(Mar. 9, 2005) *Billy Porter's new musical "Ghetto Superstar," based on Porter's own experience as a gay black artist, opened in New York Sunday at The Public Theater's Joe's Pub, the intimate cabaret space that works in conjunction with the Public's theatrical programming, reports Playbill Online.  Inspired by real-life stories of other gay black men - including James Baldwin and Donny Hathaway, according to Porter, he tapped into his own experiences to give the piece its shape and direction.  Porter's press release says the production "is a spiritual, sexual, and musical odyssey in which the teachings of the Pentecostal church collide with the gospel according to Dreamgirls."  Porter says he composed 70 percent of the music, which he mixed with various other forms of songs appropriate to the show's feel.  Meanwhile, the Broadway veteran (Five Guys Named Moe, Grease!, Miss Saigon) is also working on a second CD entitled, “LIVE from Joe's Pub - At the Corner of Broadway & Soul." The album would follow-up his 1998 debut “Untitled” on A&M records.







Sports Beat: Jigga’s Shoe

Excerpt from

(Mar. 4, 2005) *Rbk has partnered with Jay-Z and New York Knicks standout Jamal Crawford to unveil the S. Carter Basketball Mid, the latest performance basketball shoe from the S. Carter Collection. Today’s official launch will be supported by Crawford, and Denver Nuggets star Kenyon Martin, who will wear them on the court throughout the 2004-05 season. The Mid will be available in a black/white colorway for a suggested retail price of $85.






Eager To Leave A Lasting Legacy

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Trish Crawford, Life Writer

(Mar. 7, 2005) When Ebonnie Rowe was studying English literature at the University of Toronto in the '80s, her life took a sudden twist.  Rowe, the daughter of a Barbadian diplomat and the youngest of three children, was shaken to the core when a friend killed herself by jumping in front of a subway train.  Realizing that life may be fleeting, Rowe left school to make her mark in the world.  "I became crazed with the notion that I had to have a legacy, a reason for being on the Earth," Rowe says in an interview. "I felt I had to do something, to accomplish something."  From that point on, she has worked tirelessly to help young people realize their dreams.  While employed as a legal secretary, she devoted her spare time to creating a mentoring program for black students called Each One Teach One. Founded in 1992 in reaction to negative images in the media, Rowe lined up black professionals to act as role models and mentors to young people. At this time, she also changed her name from Bonnie, adding an "e" at the beginning to reflect support of her black culture. Her name is pronounced like "ebony."  In 1995, she formed PhemPhat Productions, an all-female production company showcasing women interested in urban music. Picking a name that reflected street cool, Rowe helped showcase women as artists, DJs, engineers, managers and promoters. One of the many women to benefit from PhemPhat programs is singer Nelly Furtado.

For these accomplishments, Rowe has been named one of eight recipients of the YWCA's Women of Distinction Award for 2005. She is honoured in the arts and entertain category. The list is to be officially released at a news conference tomorrow, which is International Women's Day.  The list includes, for the first time, a posthumous award to feminist lawyer Dianne Martin who died suddenly last year. Other winners and the area for which they are being honoured include:

 Sylvia Chrominska (corporate leadership). The first woman executive vice-president of Scotiabank established the Advancement of Women initiative at the bank and also founded the Sylvia Chrominska Award at the Richard Ivey School of Business to help a young woman entering first-year business studies.

 Beth Jordan (social justice). The former director of the Assaulted Women's Helpline and member of the team providing recommendations to change law enforcement policy around sexual assault investigations following the Jane Doe case, Jordan is the principal of Abode Consulting, which specializes in feminist and anti-racist training.

 Sister Ellen Leonard (religion and education). A Sister of St. Joseph since 1951, she taught elementary school and was a school principal before returning to university and earning her PhD in religious studies. As a member of the faculty of theology at St. Michael's College and the Toronto School of Theology, she linked faith and women's struggles for equality and dignity. Retired, she is professor emeritus at St. Mike's and the Toronto School of Theology.

 Margaret Norrie McCain (philanthropy and volunteerism). The former lieutenant governor of New Brunswick has funded and organized programs for women and children, including the Family Violence Research Centre at the University of New Brunswick and Beatrice House, a child development centre for at-risk mothers, in Toronto. She is co-author of Ontario's The Early Years Study and a recipient of the Order of Canada.

 Dianne Schwalm (mentorship). The senior vice-president of Warner Bros. Canada was the first woman field director at 20th Century Fox and the first woman in management at Warner Bros. The mother of three children urged Warner Bros. to institute a maternity leave policy and had leadership roles in the organizations Women of the Motion Picture Industry and Canadian Women in Communications. She has sponsored internship and mentoring programs to give young women opportunities in the industry.

 Tonika Morgan (young woman of distinction). Born to teenage parents whose marriage dissolved when she was 14, Morgan has gone from the streets to shelters to independence and has become a youth advocate working on the Toronto Youth Cabinet, the Task Force for Socially Isolated and Homeless People and the Toronto Summit Alliance. She is an aspiring urban artist.

 Dianne Martin (Special Award, posthumous). A criminal lawyer who graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1976, she was a feminist leader who successfully fought for the establishment of midwifery as a profession, reform of sexual assault laws, a citizens' review of police and the defence of the wrongfully convicted. Nominated by lawyer Marlys Edwardh for whom she articled.

In honour of the 25th anniversary of the awards, there will be a special essay contest, sponsored by the Star and the University of Toronto. The Inspiring Young Women to Achieve Essay Contest asks young women to write about real women who inspire them. The authors of the top 25 essays will receive two tickets to the awards dinner held on May 31.  The awards dinner is the major fundraiser for the YWCA, which uses the proceeds to support programs reaching 50,000 people a year. As it is a special year for the awards, past recipients will also be part of the celebrations.  In the audience will be Emily Mills, the Ryerson University journalism student who nominated Rowe for the award. When she was a teenager participating in the Each One Teach One program, Mills picked Rowe to be her mentor. Later, Mills joined the Sista to Sista program designed to empower young black girls. (The one for boys was called Brother to Brother).  "I was an active kid and looking for something to do," Mills says of her introduction to the programs being run by Rowe. She was particularly affected by a trip to New York that Rowe arranged for some of the Sista to Sista members.

"Ebonnie is a tough cookie. She demanded excellence of us," says Mills, who attended an Essence Magazine awards dinner with Rowe and the other girls as well as visiting magazine and music producers involved in urban music. These influences were part of Mills' decision to study music at York University and journalism as well as continuing to work at volunteer at PhemPhat productions.  "Ebonnie has affected the careers of many women. She has helped transform the whole entertainment scene."  PhemPhat runs an annual concert to showcase women performers in many music genres, produces a magazine profiling artists and behind-the-scenes workers, and has produced a CD called Honey Drops. Rowe says she wanted to create a place where women could be creative in their own way.  She has attacked negative cultural stereotypes head-on. After young girls complained to her that they were being called "hos," even by their little brothers, Rowe raised a few hackles in the black community for criticizing the misogyny of hip-hop.  She doesn't buy the explanation that it is just lyrics. "Sometimes, you have to speak frankly," Rowe says.  She also took on the issue of teenage motherhood and irresponsible fatherhood when she formed the Sista to Sista and Brother to Brother programs.  "None of this is tied in to great role models," Rowe says. "You are dealing with low self-esteem. Girls think having a baby will mean they have someone who will love them forever.  "I tell them, `Get a hamster.'"

Rowe, who is single, has accomplished all of this in her spare time, as she has continued to support herself as a legal secretary while working nights, days and weekends on her labours of love.  "I don't know how to drive a car," she says, laughingly vowing to take a course, learn another language and read some books for leisure in the near future.




Ben Johnson: Fashioning A Comeback

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Mar. 6, 2005) Three floors above 259 Spadina Avenue, deep in Toronto's garment district, a team of women piercing fabric with threaded needles look up from their sewing machines as the scuffed hardwood creaks heavily under firm, rapid steps.  Ben Johnson has shown up for work.  The Canadian once hailed as "the world's fastest man" is easily the most famous model to stride into Ling May Apparel, wearing form-fitting black tights and a long-sleeved white shirt — a sample from the self-named clothing line Johnson will launch in May. History may not be kind to the planet's most infamous sprinter but time surely has. At 43, Johnson is buff. Sculpted legs, flat stomach, unlined face, jet-black hair and "Here, feel this," he commands, offering a titanium-quality bicep to squeeze.  These days, clothing, not sprinting, is Johnson's newest passion.  "I am no longer in track and field so I want to do something I have control over," said the man whose unmistakable racing silhouette is the discreet logo on The Ben Johnson Collection of sportswear. "It's been six months of hard work, travel, long hours and now it's paid off. I see the product now and it feels good."  Johnson admits it's been a while since he's felt this good.  It will be 17 years in September since he tested positive for banned anabolic steroids in Seoul, shortly after crushing the 100-metre Olympic field that included loathed American arch rival Carl Lewis. His life since then included a return to track, more failed drug tests, a foot race against a horse, a contract to personally train the soccer star son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a bitter feud with a former agent and a personal tragedy.  Last September, Johnson's beloved mother Gloria died of stomach cancer. She was her son's most ardent supporter, a hard-working, religious woman who, even in death, has provided the inspiration for Johnson to move on.  He has.

What do you fear?

I've got no fear.

So would you be a good candidate on Fear Factor? Could you eat spiders, jump off of hot-air balloons and swim with sharks?

No, I wouldn't do that. I don't go places where my legs can't bail me out if I'm in trouble.

What's the best present you ever got?

That my mother and my father make me possible.

What's your comfort food?

I like veal chops, pork chops, vegetables. Lean pork.

Nothing from Jamaica?

I still eat curried goat from time to time. My sister (Clare) makes it for me; she cooks it very, very sweet.

Who has inspired you the most over your life?

My mother.

How difficult is it now that she's gone?

It's very difficult because since I've taken up this new business, it keeps me busy from day to day. But when I go home and she's not there, then it starts to take effect. But I can handle it. It's just sad that she's gone this early, but she's there in spirit.

What's the best thing about being you?

I'm a good human being.

What's the worst thing about being you?

(Long pause.) I was humiliated in my career in track and field but it made me very strong as I go on in life. I put that behind me and moved on to the next direction of my life. This business is my direction, so I can do anything I want. No one can tell me what to do and how to do it. In track and field, I didn't have that power.

How many pairs of shoes do you have and how many are for running?

I only have one pair of (running) shoes and I wear my old shoes in the winter; adidas to train, basketball shoes — ankle cuts — just for casual wear.

So you only have two pairs of shoes?

Yes. That's all I need. I only have two feet.

What about for tripping the light fantastic at night?

I have shoes that go with my suits. Five pairs, made in Italy.

When's the last time you ran 100 metres?

About two years ago. Electronic (timing) was 10.7 seconds. At York, outdoors ... just practising.

If you ran it today, what would your time be?

Probably about 11 seconds.

How do people react to you in the streets of Toronto?

I'm still recognized, warm welcomes. They say that even though 17 years passed by, it still feels like the race was yesterday.

What do you sing in the shower?

I sing a few Bob Marley songs.

Have you changed physically 17 years after Seoul?

Not much. I still have a lot of muscles. I still work hard to maintain it.

Who's the greatest athlete you've ever seen perform?

Carl Lewis was pretty good at long jump.

I can't believe you said something nice about Carl Lewis. What would you say to Carl Lewis if you ran into him on the street?

I probably wouldn't say anything. I'd probably just stare at him and just walk away.

Do you have a guilty pleasure or a vice?

I love movies. Westerns, the old stuff. Classical westerns.

What's the appeal?

The characters. Horse thief, bushwhacker, all those names (laughs). The worst thing you can do in a western movie is be a horse thief.

Name one favourite western.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. You remember when they were reading (the Eli Wallach character's) crimes? It was a long list: horse thief, stolen goods (laughs).

What's your most valued possession?

My most valued possession was my mother and I lost her.

Who's on your speed dial?

Mostly business contacts for my apparel.

So Moammar Gadhafi's not on there?

No. I used to have his number but he changed his phone so often.

If you could have dinner with one person from history, who would it be?

I'd like to have dinner with the Pope because many years ago, I had a chance to meet him when he sent for me after the 1983 world championship in Rome. I think it was my agent — I don't know where I was at the time — but everyone was speaking on my behalf and that was a mistake (to decline the invitation). And then the media said Ben Johnson turned down the Pope. It didn't look good.

How will you be remembered?

(Long pause.) As the fastest man in the world. I think that's better than the gold medal.

Why aren't you married?

(Laughs.) Because my mother was the one love I had and I would never put a woman in front of my mother. That's the reason I've never been married. Well, now that's she's gone, I will try to take my time and find someone.

Do you have a girlfriend now?

I try to keep my private life out of the media.

Would you ever be a daddy?

I'm an old-fashioned type of guy in some ways but I am open-minded. My kids would have to go to school and come home on time. They can't wander off and get into trouble. They would be polite to people and focused on what they have to do.

Who's your best friend?


What's a typical Ben Johnson day in Toronto?

I have four appointments a day, almost five days a week, making new contacts in the garment business. Checking factories, fabrics, make sure sewing is excellent (with the) right thread, right colours. Then I go home, relax, turn my phones off. That's been going on now for five months.

Will you ever get your gold medal back?

Maybe I won't live to see that, but in due time, one day, it will come back. But I can't miss something I never had.




CBC's Sexy-Voiced Promo Girl Reveals All

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - By Gayle MacDonald

(Mar. 3, 2005) Today the truth will be revealed.  The mystery woman called Promo Girl, whose incredibly sexy voice has polarized CBC Radio One listeners for close to a year, is out of the closet.  And she is none other than the smart-talking actress Shauna MacDonald, whose eclectic career includes roles such as Officer Erica Miller on Trailer Park Boys, the demure Dr. Paxton on Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion, and more recently, a minx of a detective named Velma in a short film, The Porcelain Pussy. Reached yesterday on her cellphone as the Antigonish, N.S.-native rushed into the CBC to record yet another of the hundreds of 30-second spots she's churned out since June, MacDonald said she feels both sad and relieved to be finally "outed" by The Globe and Mail. "As an actor to not be able to tell anyone about a gig for 10 months -- it was killing me!" says the throaty MacDonald. "But it's really been one of the funniest -- is that a word? Oh, well -- things I've ever done. The mystique's over so that's sad, but it's nice the pressure is off too. Now I can relax a little more. "I just hope they don't fire me, now that everyone knows who I am." By all accounts, Promo Girl is loved and loathed by CBC listeners in almost equal measure. Men tend to go crazy for her teasing intros. "I was in Halifax for the Atlantic Film Festival," MacDonald says. "And, of course, in a bar. And this guy from Newfoundland is like, 'Wow, man, your voice is so familiar.' Then he went, 'Oh my God. You're Promo Girl!' And he nearly lost his shit," laughs MacDonald, who now lives in Toronto. On the flipside, though, CBC radio host Stan Carew in Halifax recently ran a contest asking listeners to pick the most annoying Canadian. Don Cherry won, but Promo Girl was near the top of the list (ahead of, gasp, Celine Dion).

"One person called in and said, 'I can't stand her. She's got an American accent,' " recounts MacDonald. "Now that insults me," sniffs the actress. "I'm as Canadian Every-girl as it gets." Yesterday, Mark Thompson, spokesman of CBC English Radio, said he was disappointed Promo Girl's true identity is now known. "People liked how personal she was. People liked the mystery. We kind of wanted to keep it that way." Then Thompson added: "You guys are good at not giving away the endings to movies so why do you have to spoil this?" Frankly, because we figure Promo Girl's done her duty, and now she deserves a little promo herself for being an irreverent breath of fresh air at the often stodgy public broadcaster. MacDonald says she figures Promo Girl's detractors were folks who simply don't like change. "And I can commiserate with them," she added. "Heck, I don't like change. It shakes me up when they switch garbage day. I'm like WHAT?! Now it's every two weeks? How am I going to keep the raccoons out of my trash for two weeks? And I have to go out there and sit by the can. I'm as much of a curmudgeon as the next guy," says the thirtysomething actress. Her fans will get to see her in a serious leading role in the feature film Saint Ralph, in theatres this April. She's also in an upcoming episode of This Is Wonderland. To date, though, she counts Promo Girl -- superchick of the airwaves -- as one of her best gigs ever. "My friend's dad is [Maritimes-based author] Sheldon Currie [who wrote Margaret's Museum]. He says he loves Promo Girl because she's got the right amount of wry. "Or is that rye?" ruminates MacDonald. "Hell, even better," she hoots. "It could be both."




Fresh Batch Of Stars Join Walk Of Fame

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon

(Mar. 9, 2005) Singer Paul Anka and 24's leading man Kiefer Sutherland are among the celebrities being given stars on Canada's growing Walk of Fame in Toronto. Also on the list of inductees this year are singer Alanis Morissette, musician and record producer Daniel Lanois, former Canadian heavyweight boxing champion George Chuvalo, dancer Rex Harrington and silver-screen star Fay Wray, who recently died at age 96. Less well-known by some is tour promoter Michael Cohl, one of the Rolling Stones' principal business ties to Toronto and an organizer of 2003's SARS mega-concert. Another behind-the-scenes notable receiving a star is Pierre Cossette, an entertainment-industry veteran, talent agent and long-time Grammy Awards producer. The current inductees, once their stars are officially unveiled in the first week of June, will bring the number of sidewalk stars to 93, far below the more than 2,000 plaques cluttering Hollywood's sidewalks. The organizers of the Canadian version hint that the comparison with Hollywood isn't just.

Unlike in Hollywood, where anyone with a few hit records, films or a long-running TV show seems to get a star (even Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen share a star), the criteria in Canada are a little more stringent. Officially, candidates born in Canada must have been successful in their particular celebrity field for a minimum of 10 years and "have a body of work recognized for its impact on our cultural heritage." That's broad enough to attract more than 500,000 ballots from people sending in names of Canadian entertainers and sports figures they would like to nominate. A volunteer panel, primarily made up of business people and media types, then make the year's selection of inductees from the nominations. New this year are plans to expand the gala on Sunday, June 5, into a four-day public event with free movies and a benefit concert in Dundas Square in Toronto, sponsored by Cineplex and Universal Music. "We have started growing the idea now of a multiday festival celebrating Canada," said Peter Soumalias, chairman of the Walk of Fame, "and with our [corporate] partners, we think that will grow into a full week's festival in the next three years." Also this year, in a tribute to Fay Wray, organizers are helping to put together a national competition. Young filmmakers, photographers and videographers will present images of Wray in current, multimedia ways, rather than those of the early film era.  Then there's the made-for-TV, red-carpet gala, which CTV has secured the rights to broadcast for the next three years. Returning to host this year's show is comedian Tom Green, who during a luncheon announcing the inductees yesterday, made an obligatory reference to dead raccoons and other gags from his shock-comedy days.

Laced with obscenities, he joked with reporters about how angry he was about not being given his own star. "I sucked milk out of a cow's udder, why don't I have a star?" he added. Soumalias said Green was picked partly to attract a younger audience. The Walk of Fame, which is a non-profit group established in 1998, still has ample room for many, many more stars along the bare sidewalks of Toronto's theatre district, unlike the Hollywood version, which is beginning to see the end of available sidewalk in sight. Already, many spaces on Hollywood's sidewalk have two stars side by side in an attempt to double up available space.




Canadians Authors Make Prize Shortlist

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Rebecca Caldwell

(Mar. 9, 2005) Canadian authors Douglas Glover and Frances Itani have made it on the shortlist for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award, one of the world's richest literary awards with a cash prize of €100,000 ($162,000). Glover's nominated book, Elle, which won a Governor-General's Award in 2003, is about a near-mythical figure in Canadian history: the 16th-century French woman Marguerite de Roberval, who is abandoned by her uncle on the Isle of Demons in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. "I'm befuddled -- I'd wilfully forgotten about it, to tell the truth, because I thought it would be too much to anticipate," said Glover on the phone from Davidson, N.C., where he is currently the McGee Professor of Writing at Davidson College. "If you look at the long list, many of my old heroes were there -- such as Gunter Grass and Peter Ackroyd and J. M. Coetzee, at least a dozen great writers. It's amazing." Itani's book, Deafening, which won the regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 2004, is a love story about a young deaf woman set in Ontario during the First World War.

"I'm thrilled," said Itani, an Ottawa resident currently in Hearst, Ont., where she is visiting family. "It's a huge boost for morale while I'm working on my new novel, and will be a lovely boost for Deafening itself." Glover and Itani face some serious contenders for the prize. Among the other finalists are Booker Prize-nominee and regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize-winner The Good Doctor by South African Damon Galgut, National Book Award-winner The Great Fire by American Shirley Hazzard, Pulitzer Prize-winner The Known World by American Edward P. Jones and regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize-winner Gardening at Night by South African Diane Awerbuck. Rounding out the shortlist are: The Half Brother by Norwegian Lars Saabye Christensen, translated by Kenneth Steven; Phantom Pain by Dutch writer Arnon Grunberg, translated by Sam Garrett; Willenbrock by German Christoph Hein, translated by Philip Boehm; and The Fortress of Solitude by American Jonathan Lethem. Canadian writer Nino Ricci was one of six jury members who whittled down a long list of 147 books supplied by libraries around the world to come up with the 10-book shortlist. The long list, which was announced in November, included books by nine Canadian writers. The shortlist was announced yesterday in Dublin by Lord Mayor Michael Conaghan, who is the patron of the award. The winner will be announced on June 15.

In the prize's 10-year history, the only Canadian author to have received the award was Alistair MacLeod, who won it in 2001 for his novel No Great Mischief. Last year's winner was French writer Tahar Ben Jelloun, who won for This Blinding Absence of Light.




Queen Of Bling -- Kimora Lee Simmons 2005 Fall Fashion Show Is Off The Hook!

Excerpt from - By Audrey J. Bernard

(Mar. 8, 2005) NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- There was as much fashion buzz backstage as on the runway at Kimora Lee Simmon’s spectacular Baby Phat 2005 Fall Fashion Show at the Skylight Gallery on Hudson Street in chic SoHo during Fashion Week. Photographers jockeying for key positions had more menacing moves than the high steppin’ diva-like models on the runway causing the wife of hip hop mogul and philanthropist extraordinaire Russell Simmons to almost call the fashion police. No one was too surprised at the explosive behaviour because this is a hot ticket during fashion week as fashionistas want to attend the show because of its hip hop flavouring and star power.  Plus, the original creator of Ghetto Fabulous street wear has a predilection for pushing the fashion envelope; and this time she went postal.  Baby Phat’s new look reeked of “I might be daddy’s little girl but I’m also your baby’s mama!”  It’s slammin’! As soon as the ear-shattering hip-hop beats dropped one knew (unless they were deaf) that something hot was about to jump off.  It was showtime and the music was so loud that even pacemakers were beatin’ off the hook!  Steeped in funk, divalicious models dazzled from beginning to end. The self-proclaimed Queen of Bling provocative creations featured poured into, skin tight baby length skirts, leather bra tops, low waist pants, short shorts, skimpy bathing suits under luxuriant furs and fur wraps around the head and neck. All made for a sumptuous show that did not leave too much to the imagination as Lee didn’t want you to sweat -- just salivate.  How’s that fur diversity? 

Baby Phat is one of the more popular shows and Lee always packs the house with big name celebrities.  Making the scene this year: Mos Def, Denise Rich, Tori Spelling, Ashley Olsen, Lil’ Kim, Mary J. Blige, Andre Harrell, Tracey Ross, Vivica Fox, Paula Abdul, Usher, Amerie, Jay Z, Beyonce, Foxy Brown, and the triple threat brothers, Danny, Reverend Run and Russell Simmons.  The stars come out to see the exotic beauty boldly cross the fashion line with frills, thrills and lots of flair.  And she never disappoints Another highlight of the show was the introduction of Lee’s new jewellery line consisting of eye-blinding Bling Bling of yellow and pink diamond rings and matching necklaces.  Prior to the phat show, Lee hosted a champagne and chocolate reception while her husband Russell and her brother-in-law Reverend Run talked to the media about the Phat Pharm dynasty.  The Baby Phat show was innovatively refreshing layered with pizzazz, purpose and perfection.  The girl’s on fire.  She’s so hot!







Key To Fitness: Mix It Up!

By Joyce Vedral, Special for eFitness

(Mar. 7,2005) You've heard it all by now. When working out, you must move very slowly to get maximum results." "No," cries another expert. "You have to move fast in order to get in shape." Well if you want to get in shape the fastest way, ideally, you should do both, shocking your body into making maximum progress.  In addition, you should vary the moves, not doing the same exercises for a given body part every time you work out. Why? It's called "muscle confusion." When you do the same old exercises every time, your muscles say to themselves, "Oh that again. I can do this in my sleep." In essence, your muscles do just that, they half sleep, putting less effort into it each time you work out because they move along familiar paths.  When you do different moves, and at a different pace in the bargain, you're really making your muscles work with a double whammy of "muscle confusion."

But exactly how does this work? The idea would be to do slow exercises for your body part one day, then switch to faster moves for that body part your next workout day, and keep switching that way.  I'll use the most difficult to shape sagging triceps as an example but you can do your entire body this way.

Slow Moving Double Arm Single Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

Start: Stand with your feet a natural width apart holding a dumbbell over your head between your interlocked fingers and thumbs, ready to extend the dumbbell behind you.

Action: Keeping your elbows close to your head, slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head counting 1-2-3-4 slowly and going as far as you can comfortably go. Then flexing as hard as possible, on the count of 1-2-3-4, raise the dumbbell to start position, Repeat until you have done 10 repetitions. Repeat two more times. The next time you work triceps (take one day off) do:

Faster Moving Double Arm Two Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension

Start: Stand with your feet a natural width apart, holding two dumbbells straight up, palms facing each other, arm close to your head, ready to extend the two dumbbells down toward your back-neck-shoulder area.

Action: Keeping your arms close to your head, and counting only to 1, extend both dumbbells downward until you go as far as you can comfortably go. Then flexing as hard as possible, return to start position, again counting only to 1. Repeat until you have done 12 repetitions. Repeat two more times. You can go a little heavier on your weights here than your slow moving exercise above (if you were using two pounds for the above you can use three here for sure).

For a full body workout using this fast-slow method, get a copy of the DVD Non Stop and Dynamic Tension at




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




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




Trane Studio
964 Bathurst St.
First set kicks off at 9:30pm

EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Syreeta Neal, Adrian Eccleston, Daniel Stone




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