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Updated:  March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day - especially to those of Irish descent!  Enjoy safely!
 Condolences go out this week to Syreeta Neal who lost her fav aunt, Jackie Neal who was shot and killed last week in New Orleans.  Our prayers and thoughts go with Syreeta as she relocates to New Orleans in this tragic time.
 Just a reminder that there won't be a newsletter on March 31, 2005 as I will be vacationing with some good people in San Jose, California.   
 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






Kayte Burgess at Irie

Some may call me biased (and go right ahead!), but the vibe at Irie on Monday was incredibly alive and warm.  Comments came to me all night about how the element of brilliant music and good food came to a climax of cool for all those in attendance.  Newcomers and regulars alike were enjoying the vibe and promised to come back for more next week.  So, if you know what's good for you, make your way down there next Monday to enjoy the crazy and genius combination of
Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston - arrangements that will tantalize your ears and soul. 

Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.  
9:30 pm - NEW START TIME







Motivational Note: The Secret Revealed What is behind the power of visualization?

 Excerpt from
 *The Secret Revealed What is behind the power of visualization? Powerful, scientific fact. It is because of this one trait of the mind that visualization can excite and inspire you to create a life full of joy and happiness. The mind cannot tell the difference between a real experience and one vividly imagined. If you imagine a picture with enough detail and emotion, your mind will act on it as if it were real. Your brain will begin to think of ways to help you achieve your vision. It will constantly be thinking of ideas to make your picture a reality. You will begin to notice new opportunities in your environment that were always there, you just never looked for them before. Right about now you might be asking yourself, 'What if I don't even know what I want? What if I don't know what to imagine?' If this is true for you, keep reading. If not, you can move ahead to the next section. I can tell you from personal experience that not knowing what you want can be a confusing, frustrating and miserable time. But there is an answer. There are very specific steps you can take to discover what it is that you want, what goals will make you happy. If you would like to figure out what you want in life, visit the address below to learn eye-opening and insightful exercises to help you with this exciting process







Keshia Chanté, Great Big Sea and Thornley  to Join the Line up for 2005 Juno Fan Fare

Source:  Holmes Creative Communications

(March 15, 2005) WINNIPEG – The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced today the third round of artists participating in the 2005 Juno Fan Fare. Presented by Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS), and held at the University of Winnipeg’s Duckworth Centre on Saturday, April 2 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., this signature Juno weekend event features special autograph sessions with Canada’s top musical talent.   Artists who will join the line-up include Keshia Chanté, Great Big Sea, Kardinal Offishall, The Tea Party and Thornley.   Previously announced artists include Alexisonfire, Billy Talent, Paul Brandt, Fefe Dobson, Finger Eleven, jacksoul, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Kalan Porter,  The Trews and The Waking Eyes. Additional artists will be announced next week.   Hot 103’s Ace Burpee and CKY News entertainment reporter Jon Hendricks will be hosting this highly anticipated event. Juno Fan Fare is a free event with exclusive tickets available through media partners Hot 103, CKY, The Winnipeg Free Press and presenting sponsor MTS. Contesting will run through the month of March. You must win to get in!   Some of the day’s highlights include autograph signings and prize giveaways. Last year’s Juno Fan Fare at West Edmonton Mall saw more than 15,000 fans attend the special autograph sessions. 

The five new artists announced for Juno Fan Fare are 2005 JUNO Award nominees. Keshia Chanté has two nominations, for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year and New Artist of the Year (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters). Great Big Sea also has two nominations, for Group of the Year and Music DVD of the Year. Kardinal Offishall is up for Rap Recording of the Year, while The Tea Party is nominated for Rock Album of the Year. Double nominee Thornley is up for Rock Album of the Year and New Group of the Year (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters). 

About the Artists:

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters)
Still just 16, Ottawa’s Keshia Chanté is a star in rapid ascent. Her self-titled debut is already gold in Canada, and will soon be released on Epic in the U.S. Her songs fuse contemporary r & b and hip-hop influences, while a strong voice and charming stage presence are other weapons in her arsenal. Keshia has won a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award for her hit “Does He Love Me,” as well as UMAC and Canadian Radio Awards.

Since emerging from Newfoundland in 1993 with their self-titled debut, Great Big Sea has taken Canada by storm with their uplifting acoustic rock sound and captivating live performances. They’ve reeled off a string of gold and platinum albums since, selling over one million albums and receiving international critical kudos. CMJ New Music Report hailed the band's "rich vocal harmonies and traditional sounds," while their latest album, Something Beautiful, lives up to its title.

Toronto MC/producer Kardinal Offishall earned two JUNO Awards via ground-breaking collaborations with Choclair and on the Northern Touch project. His major label debut, Firestarter Vol. 1: Quest For Fire, did exactly that, spawning an international hit in “Bakardi Slang.” He has worked with Timbaland and The Neptunes, and his signature innovative beats and inventive rhymes are vividly showcased on Bang Bang.

One of Canada’s biggest rock bands of the ‘90s, The Tea Party remain a potent force today. They’ve scored a string of platinum-selling albums, multiple JUNO Award nominations and MMVA trophies, and become a major act in Australia. Seven Circles re-establishes their instrumental and vocal prowess and sense of sonic adventure.

NEW GROUP OF THE YEAR (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters)
Dynamic hard rock band Thornley are led by guitarist/singer Ian Thornley, whose previous band, Big Wreck, released two well-received albums on Atlantic. His new outfit is more direct, but their sound retains an impressively epic quality. Their first album, Come Again, sports undeniable hooks and sparkling musicianship.

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. 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”, Western Economic Diversification Canada, 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.




Winnipeg Union Targets Juno Awards For Protest

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Allison Dunfield

(Mar. 11, 2005) Toronto — The Juno Awards are known as the who's who of the Canadian music industry, but this year the red carpet may feature some uninvited guests along with the black clad rock-and-roll glitterati.  A local union representing stagehands and technicians in Winnipeg is planning a protest that could swell to 1,000 people at what is considered one of the Canadian music industry's premiere annual events. The April 3 show will feature a tribute to the Winnipeg scene with performances by Neil Young, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) local 63 is angry that the owner of the MTS Centre, the new arena that will be hosting the event, has hired technicians from a non-unionized British Columbia-based company, Nasco Services Inc., to work all the Centre's concert and sporting events, including the Junos. "The direction with the Junos is for the protest to take place during the red carpet and during the live tapings," says Barny Haines, a spokesman for the union representing the stagehands . "If we can break the 1,000 or more mark, we'll consider that it was a success." The 220-strong union will be supported at the Junos by a large nurses' union and other groups, he said.

The stagehands have already held two other protests, including one at a recent Hilary Duff concert, and they've received a letter of support from the NHL Players' Association, who are holding a benefit at the Centre on March 25. IATSE had laid claim to all events at the old Winnipeg arena since 1955 until the new Centre opened in November of last year. The owners of the new arena decided to award the contract to Nasco instead. Most of the workers Nasco hires are local, but they are paid less than IATSE workers, Haines says. He said his union even offered to match the rival firm's wages but was turned down. Negotiations between the sides have stalled, Haines said. Scott Brown, a spokesman for True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the arena owner, said no new talks are scheduled this month but said the arena has entered into a fair contract with Nasco and has no obligation to use IATSE's workers. Brown said True North has been acting as a liaison between the two sides to try to reach an agreement. The picket line could mean a logistical nightmare for the Junos, however, Brown admitted.

"We're aware of the fact that they're taking action. We are going to take some steps to minimize the impact on the show," Brown said. John Brunton, the show's executive producer, says he hopes the union won't disrupt the show but says the gala will go ahead as planned. "I just think it's really unfortunate for the city of Winnipeg, who tried so, so, hard to put the show on . . . if this becomes the story. It would really be unfortunate for the city if IATSE took the show away from them." Not only is the union concerned with the loss of jobs for its members, but also about safety issues. "It's not even open for debate, they're not as experienced as IATSE people," said Haines. Brown said True North has looked into the matter and is satisfied with the quality of Nasco's stagehands. The protest could, at the very least, cast a bit of a pall on an event which was supposed to bring tourism dollars and jobs to the city of Winnipeg, and on CTV, which has been holding the show in different cities across Canada to boost local communities.




Cdn. Rappers Discuss Hip-Hop

Source: - By Eilis Quinn

(Mar. 12, 2005) MONTREAL (CP) - Somali-born rapper K'naan says hip-hop records helped him cope with his country's civil war, his adolescence as a refugee and his life as an immigrant in North America.  "I didn't understand English at first but I felt the voice on those records," said the 27-year-old Toronto-based MC. "There was some struggle and I identified with it. It taught me what divisions are about, what racism is, about what black consciousness is."  The airwaves may be full of the sexual boasting and gangster posturing of artists like 50 Cent and Ludacris, but rappers and experts say many up-coming performers are using hip-hop to fight racism and discrimination.  "It's a whole new thing that is happening, even in villages in Africa," said K'naan, whose music touches on everything from personal empowerment to life in Somalia. "Hip-hop in the rest of the world is so much based on struggle, something that so much hip-hop in North America has lost."  Marc Perry, an anthropologist at the University of Illinois, says despite rap's commercialization, socially conscious hip-hop is common among immigrants in the West and black populations in such countries as Brazil and South Africa.  That's not surprising given hip-hop's history, Perry said at a recent symposium at Concordia University called Hip-Hop: Culture of Resistance.  "A whole generation of young black and brown youth were living in dismal situations," Perry said of hip-hop's origins in the housing projects of New York City in the 1970s.  "They had no other way to express their urban reality or what they were going through.  "Now, young black and brown youth all over the world identify with that struggle and are using hip-hop to empower themselves and engage in politics against the experience of being other and excluded in society." 

Narcicyst, one-third of the all-Iraqi Montreal-based group Euphrates, agrees.  The Basra-born MC, 22, grew up in the United Arab Emirates and Canada. He says he struggled with being too western in the Middle East and too Arab in Canada, and turned to hip-hop for a sense of belonging.  "I came back to Canada in 2000 and then Sept. 11 happened. I was marginalized just walking down the street," said Narcicyst, who was a panellist at the symposium.  "It was like I wasn't Canadian anymore. So me and my crew (bandmates Nofy Fannan and Habillis) got down to it and started making music.  "We break down the Arab stereotypes you see in the media. The response has been incredible, not just from Iraqis but from Arabs in general."

Diegal Leger, co-founder of the annual symposium on hip-hop culture, said more and more socially conscious artists are organizing against rap's negative image.  "Hip-hop can give out the wrong message, that's for sure," Leger said. "It's important for the new generation that's grown up with commercial hip-hop to really look for its true values - unity, creativity, respect, love and to have fun."  David Parker, 24, comes to the conference each year and is a fan of underground hip-hop that is thriving in places like Montreal and Toronto thanks to large immigrant communities.  "There's a strong grassroots hip-hop movement," Parker said. "I'm into the discussions on cultural identity and racial politics."  Narcicyst said he's not worried commercial hip-hop will ever drown out rap with a message.  "I always say hip-hop stands for Highly Intelligent People Hovering Over Politics," he said. "You've got to use it and allow it to positively change your life.  "We're building bridges. Al-hamdu li'llahi (praise be to God)."




Powerful Voice From Tiny Teen

Source: - By Catherine Oshanek -- Calgary Sun

(Mar. 12, 2005) It's hard to believe such a powerful voice and equally powerful message can come from such a shy little girl. The 14-year-old singer/songwriter Christine Evans has recently ventured into the Canadian music scene.  With her sweet appearance and influential lyrics, she might be just what the overly saturated bubble-gum pop scene is looking for.  "The music that I write, people remember it," says the Victoria-born teen.  With the release of her first album, Take Me Home last January, and the addition of her title track on the Women & Songs 8 CD, there seems to be nothing standing in her way.  "I'm on this CD with all these artists that I listen to all the time, like Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan and Madonna, and it's really cool," she says.  Influenced by such legendary artists as Elton John and Billy Joel, and talented in both the guitar and piano, it's easy to see why see hesitates to label herself as a pop musician.  "I hate the term, but I have been put into the pop genre. I would love it if people would see that it is a little more beyond some of the pop music," says Christine.

Though she's been in the entertainment business since she was seven, Christine still has all the worries of a normal teenager growing up.  It's largely because of this that she eagerly promotes Kid's Help Phone as an ambassador, donating $1 from every CD sold.  "I believe in it because I am a young adult and a lot of the things that I write about have to do with issues like things that kids feel. I think a lot of times people overlook the fact that kids do feel those things," she says.  A voice major at a boarding school in Michigan, which is the feeder school to Juilliard, Christine has tons on her plate, but she says it's all worth it in the end.




Mariah Carey: Free At Last

Excerpt from - — Joan Morgan (Photo:  Ruven Afanador)

This “mulatto” is hardly tragic. There is no haunting semblance to the 1959 movie classic Imitation of Life. And Sarah Jane—the movie’s beautiful, self-hating protagonist who abandoned her dark-skinned Black mother and chose to pass for White—does not live here. The woman who does live here in this expansive penthouse in Manhattan’s Tribeca is Mariah Carey. She has jokingly described herself as a bit of a “mutt” (the offspring of an Irish-American mom and a half–African-American, half-Venezuelan dad). But she’s not tragic. Not tragic at all.

In some ways Mariah Carey, 35, is everything you would expect a pop diva to be who has sold 150,000,000 albums—comes third behind Elvis Presley and the Beatles—for most weeks spent on the Billboard Hot Singles chart and who emerged from her decade-and-a-half career as the best-selling female artist of the 1990’s. Her apartment, which spans three floors, comes with a whirlpool bath big enough for four and a freaky chamber whose tiled walls squirt mist. Carey lies there on a big white bed when she needs to humidify her vocal chords. Odd for you or me, but completely appropriate for a woman whose voice does supernatural things like traverse comfortably from pop’s smoothed-out terrain into the grittier domains of R&B, hip-hop and soul—all in a five-octave range. But in far more compelling ways Mariah Carey is not what you would expect: She’s a natural mimic, effortlessly assuming the accent of whomever she’s with. The sex-kitten persona you see in her videos gets turned off with the camera: A self-described “prude,” she enjoys Bible study and watches her favourite movie, Mean Girls, with almost Rocky Horror–esque devotion. And contrary to the reports about her “nervous breakdown–suicide attempt” in the summer of 2001, she is not crazy. Not now, not then. However, she does suffer from nightmares, recurring ones about her days as Mrs. Tommy Mottola, a time when she could not be free to live as her true self.

Race Matters So this isn’t a twenty-first-century version of Imitation of Life. Still, race and racial identity have been central themes throughout Carey’s career—arguably more so than for any other artist of her generation. It took folks forever to figure out where Carey fit in ethnically despite the fact that she never denied her mixed heritage. In an ideal world it shouldn’t matter. But as we all know, America’s stance on race matters is far from ideal.

To read the entire article “Free at Last,” pick up the April issue of ESSENCE.  Or click here to subscribe now.




Stevie Wonder's New Album Set For May 3rd Release

Source: Motown Records /  /

(Mar. 10, 2005)     (New York, NY) "So What The Fuss," Stevie Wonder's new single (scroll down to hear it) will hit radio stations in early March, the initial release from his much anticipated new album, A Time To Love, which is scheduled to be in stores on May 3rd.  "A Time To Love is a statement within itself," Wonder has said of the new disc.  "There's been a time for war, a time to imprison, a time to hurt and break down.  More than ever we need a time to love." Sylvia Rhone, President of Motown/Executive Vice President of Universal Records, hails Wonder's album as both a watershed moment for the artist, and for the music industry as a whole.  "It's a vital album by an indispensable artist at the height of his creative powers," stated Ms. Rhone.  "Each song stands as a vibrant entry point to the cultural and musical pulse that Stevie has had his finger on for more than 40 years." Stevie Wonder has remained one of the truly essential artists of our lifetime.  Winner of 22 Grammy awards, as well as an Academy Award, creator of more than 25 #1 Pop and R&B hits, with more than 70 million records sold, the youngest-ever Kennedy Center honoree and recipient of hundreds of awards -including the 2004 Billboard Century Award - the Michigan native emerged as the definitive artist of Motown's golden era to become one of the most prolific singer/songwriters in music history.   Cited by a new generation of urban and hip hop artists as one of today's seminal musical and cultural influences, Wonder is also recognized for putting a human face on countless social issues.  A tireless champion for political and social justice, Wonder was the preeminent force behind the Martin Luther King holiday and USA For Africa, as well as helping to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic and the scourge of Apartheid in South Africa.  A leading voice in the fight against world hunger, Wonder also put his highly personal touch to his own causes here at home, including his annual House Full Of Toys Benefit Concert. Click HERE to hear/stream (Windows Media Player required) Stevie's new jammin' single "So What The Fuss."




Missy Elliot Protégé, Tweet, Needs A Man And 'Kojak' Is Her Guy

Source: Kim Reed / USA Network / / Cara Donatto / Atlantic Records /

(Mar 16, 2005) New York, NY— R&B recording star Tweet, a protégé of hip-hop R&B sensation Missy Elliott, has completed filming of a music video of the theme song, “When I Need a Man,” for the new USA Network original drama series, Kojak, which premieres March 25 with Ving Rhames in the title role.  The song will also appear on Tweet’s new Goldmind/Atlantic Records album, “It’s Me Again,” which will be released March 22.  “When I Need a Man” was written, produced and arranged by Spencer Proffer and Steve Plunkett.  Mona Scott, who manages Missy Elliott and Tweet, was executive producer.  The song was recorded at Studio City Sound in Studio City, Calif. and mixed at The Hit Factory in New York City by Proffer.   The music video, directed by Antti J. Jokinen, was filmed by DNA/Steam Films at the 30 Booth Avenue Studios in Toronto on the “Kojak” soundstages.  Director of photography was Dylan MacLeod, art director was Mark Gabriel, John Thorpe produced, while Proffer and Scott executive produced. "Teaming up with Tweet and Goldmind/Atlantic Records is a real win for our Kojak marketing campaign,” said Chris McCumber, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy for USA Network.  “The video is a great piece of entertainment that seamlessly promotes Kojak, and the music fits perfectly with the brand image we are creating for the series."

“Kojak is a true American original, and in the hands of the great Ving Rhames, he has an incredible mix of charm, street smarts and intuition,” said Jeff Wachtel, Executive Vice President of Original Programming for USA Network.  “We needed a hot R&B artist with a truly contemporary sound to evoke the new world of our new Kojak.  Tweet was the perfect choice to set a distinct tone for this series.” The “When I Need a Man” video, which is one of the key components in the Kojak marketing campaign, will be seen in Regal Theaters across the country on 5,400 screens in 100 markets as well as the street level window at New York’s Loews in Lincoln Square.  The video will also be featured on Yahoo!, USA Network and  Further, the video will be seen in more than 5,000 barber and beauty shops throughout the country.  Additionally, the video will be released to music outlets such as MTV, VH1, Fuse and others, and the single will be made available to radio stations nationally.  “What I wanted to do was give Kojak a great intro,” says Tweet, whose friendship with and tutelage under Missy Elliott helped with Tweet’s rise to fame in 2002 as the No. 2-ranked Billboard Top New R&B/Hip-Hop Artist.  Her single, “Oops (Oh My),” sat on top of the charts in the No. #1 spot on the charts for three consecutive weeks.  “I wanted to make a statement with this song – ‘don’t mess with ‘Kojak,’” says Tweet, whose real name is Charlene Keys (no relation to Alicia Keys).  “The song has a lot of energy to it.  ‘When I Need a Man’ is very much a woman’s song and is definitely destined to be an anthem for all women.” “Being part of the new Kojak is a fantastic opportunity for Tweet,” said Julie Greenwald, President of Atlantic Records.  “She is an amazingly gifted artist, and this is a great way to bring her and her music to a mainstream audience.  Tweet sings classic, sexy R&B music that is timeless and totally hip, so it is a perfect fit for her to deliver the theme for a modern take on a classic TV icon.  Add a brilliant video into the mix, and the exposure for both Tweet and Kojak will be off the charts.”    Jokinen, who has directed numerous critically acclaimed music videos, is well known for displaying a great sensibility for both mesmerizing imagery and an amazing ability to capture the evocative spark of every artist he works with., according to critics.  Some of those artists he has directed include Shania Twain, Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, Kelly Clarkson and an earlier video with Tweet.

“Tweet is original in her look,” says Jokinen, who directed such music videos as Yolanda Adams’s “Never Give Up,” Wyclef and Claudette Ortiz’s “Two Wrongs,” Celine Dion’s “One Heart,” and Shania Twain’s “Up” and Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This.”  “It was very easy to highlight Tweet’s beauty.  And I concentrated on her performance to fill the screen.  You can test music to death, but there’s no substitute for that visceral reaction you get from a great performance.  The new Kojak series has a real edgy style to it and Tweet’s vocal performance is a perfect match.” “When I need a man,” sings Tweet, “I’m callin’ you.  When I need a man, strong and true, baby, no one else will ever do.  When I need a man.” Kojak is based on the Emmy-winning Universal Television police drama which aired on CBS from 1973 to 1978, setting a new standard for realism in its canny depiction of a New York cop with a passion for justice matched only by his frustration with an imperfect legal system.  Telly Savalas created an instant television classic with his portrayal of the bald, no-nonsense, lollipop-loving detective, Theo Kojak.  Rhames puts his own fresh stamp on this iconic character, bringing Kojak’s grit, strength and soul to today’s mean streets.  Kojak, also starring Chazz Palminteri and Roselyn Sanchez, is executive produced by Rhames and Tom Thayer (A&E's "The Great Gatsby").

Established in New York City in 1947, Atlantic Records grew from literally a one-room operation into one of the world’s pre-eminent music companies.  Atlantic has released a string of recordings that have had a profound impact on the course of modern music, its rich history including such musical icons as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, and Led Zeppelin.  The Atlantic roster today includes many of the world’s most popular recording artists, among them Björk, Tracy Chapman, Phil Collins, The Corrs, The Darkness, Craig David, Missy Elliott, Fabolous, Fat Joe, Jet, Jewel, Juvenile, Kid Rock, Lil’ Kim, matchbox twenty, Jason Mraz, Sean Paul, P.O.D., Rush, Staind, Sugar Ray, T.I., Trick Daddy, Twista, and many more.  Visit for more information.

USA Network is cable television’s leading provider of original series and feature movies, sports events, off-net television shows, and blockbuster theatrical films. USA Network is seen in over 88 million U.S. homes. The USA Network Web site is located at  USA Network is a program service of NBC Universal Cable a division of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.




Davey D: Remembering Notorious BIG ... His Last Radio Interview

Excerpt from

(Mar. 10, 2005) Yesterday, Wednesday, March 9 sadly marked the 8th anniversary of the death (March 9, 1997) of one of the greatest to ever bless the mic, the Notorious BIG.  I remember as clear as day when I got the phone call about Biggie being gunned down at the Auto Museum in LA as he and P-Diddy (Puffy) were on their way to KKBT-The Beat to do an interview.  I was told dozens of people were there and actually saw what went down but no one 'knew' anything when questioned.  I also recalled being told about the panic that enveloped all the East Coast artists who were in LA that night as they frantically tried to find a way to safely get out and head on back home.  A lot of west coast artists were fearful about going back east.  I also remember what would be Notorious BIG's last radio interview. It took place 4 days before he was killed on KMEL in SF with Sway who is now with MTV and his crew called The Breakfast Club.  I had seen Biggie dozens of times at the station but this time he seemed relaxed, thoughtful and somewhat playful.  He spoke about the beef he had with 2Pac and how it was sad yet amazing that two guys with a disagreement could wage a coastal beef. He spoke about his love for God and how you have to put him first.  He also spoke about his love for his kids.  He also talked about the inner workings of Bad Boy.  Biggie explained that he had taken over the role of managing Puffy.  That was an interesting facet considering that Puff was the Ceo of Bad Boy.  Biggie noted how close everyone in Bad Boy had become.

Throughout the interview Biggie joked around with Sway and the crew. He told us that he was looking forward to releasing his album 'Life After Death' and was confident that once folks in Cali heard the song 'Going Back to Cali' that it would once and for all dead what many called the Great East-West Coast Beef which apparently seemed to be in full swing at that time.  One thing that stood out in this interview was Biggie's response to a question posed by co-host Big daddy Victor Zaragoza who asked him whether or not he had anything to do with 2Pac being killed. Biggie seemed to be coy when answering the question and left a lot of people angry including folks who are down with Pac when he answered by saying 'I'm not that powerful yet.'  In listening to the interview today it sounds like he's saying I'm not that powerful-yo,' but because of the east-west coast tensions, folks in Cali listening to the show took his remarks another way.  Biggie and the Bad Boy family were spending a lot of time in LA and to them all seemed chill especially since Suge Knight of Death Row had been incarcerated.  I remember after Biggie conducted his interview and was set to leave the station, one of our deejays and a good friend of his Franzen asked Biggie how everything was going. Biggie noted that it was all good and that he was having a good time in LA. Biggie noted that a lot of people were showing him love. Unbeknown to us at the time Biggie had let go his security guards who were former Navy Seals that worked for a company called Seal-Mar.  The word on the streets was he replaced the guards because they were costing him too much money and employed the services of one of the local gangs in the area.  Also unbeknown to us was that while Biggie was getting lots of love from folks when he was around, there were serious grumblings in the streets of LA all the way up to the Bay.  Cali was 2Pac country and 6 months after his death a lot of people were still mourning and were suspicious of Biggie and his Bad Boy click.

The streets of LA were really grumbling about Biggie showing up around town like it was all good when in reality it wasn't.  Franzen had been hearing the rumors and pulled Biggie to the side before he left and told him point blank to be careful in LA, things aren't always like they seem.  Biggie was jovial and told him not to worry that everything would be alright.  As he stepped into the elevator little did we know it would be the last time we would see him alive.  Below is a link to that last radio interview, some of the excerpts you will recognize as sound bites used by the Eminem produced song 'Runnin' which features Biggie and 2Pac.

Notorious BIG-The Last Radio Interview:

As you listen to this interview we should keep in mind the craziness that is going on with 50 and Game and other rappers who have been drawn into the fray.  It's bad enough these artists who are all grown ass men have beef and apparently haven't learned from the lessons of the past.  It's even sadder that fans and IRRESPONSIBLE RADIO stations are hyping things up. Lastly we should keep in mind that 8 years after his death we still have not found out who did it.  Nor have we found the killer of 2Pac.  It's time for a serious change in direction.

Respond to Davey D via his website




FBI Closes Notorious B.I.G Investigation

Excerpt from

(Mar. 12, 2005) The FBI has closed its investigation into the 1997 murder of rap star Notorious B.I.G., abandoning the theory that a rogue police officer may have been involved in the slaying.  The case was closed after federal prosecutors reviewed the evidence and concluded there was no basis for prosecution, Louis J. Caprino Jr., acting head of the criminal division of the FBI's Los Angeles office, told the Los Angeles Times.  Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was shot to death in March 1997 in front of hundreds of witnesses as he left a music industry party in Los Angeles.  Investigators have pursued various theories, including one that the killing, and that of rap star Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas the year before, was the result of a feud between hip-hop figures from the East and West coasts.  Shakur was the biggest West Coast hip-hop star of his time, and he regularly exchanged insults and threats with Notorious B.I.G., his East Coast counterpart.  The FBI had also spent 18 months investigating the possibility that a rogue Los Angeles police officer working with rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight had orchestrated Notorious B.I.G.'s killing. Knight, whose Death Row Records was home to Shakur, has denied any involvement.

Investigators had said the officer, David Mack, owned a car matching the description of one seen speeding from the murder scene. A witness had also placed him at the scene hours before the murder.  However, other information gathered by investigators did not support the theory and detectives turned their attention elsewhere. Mack, who has since been imprisoned for robbing a bank, has denied any involvement in the killing.  FBI officials abandoned the probe in January after learning the lead agent on the case had talked with lawyers for Notorious B.I.G.'s mother, who is suing the Los Angeles Police Department for allegedly covering up police involvement in her son's slaying.  Voletta Wallace's suit, which seeks unspecified damages, is scheduled to go to trial April 12 in federal court in Los Angeles. FBI officials said the lawsuit had nothing to do with the decision to end the investigation.




Bobby Valentino: Raising The Bar

Excerpt from - By Ivory M. Jones

(Mar. 11, 2005) When most music listeners first caught wind of the song “Blackberry Molasses”, chances are they never imagined that Mista, the group behind the slow-burning, yet solemn single, consisted of four fresh faced teens. It was hard to believe that the lead singer with the grown-up voice that was seemingly filled with years of frustration could belong to a then 16-year-old Bobby “Valentino” Wilson.   Released to glowing reviews, Bobby and his label mates were poised to become the next Boyz II Men, based in part to the four-part harmonies that belied their youth. However, shortly after releasing their self-titled debut, Mista’s rising star seemed to fizzle. In no time, music fans quickly forgot about the promising quartet and moved on to the next flavour of the month.   Undaunted, Bobby would later resurface, but this time on the collegiate playing field. After enrolling in Clark Atlanta University, the Jackson, Mississippi native quietly immersed himself into the experience, on the surface appearing to be your average college student. But deep inside, he never lost his passion for music, recording several demos during his time away from the limelight.   After earning his degree in 2003, he decided it was time to return to his music roots. He aligned himself with Ludacris’ Disturbing The Peace clique, becoming the only R&B artist in the group. Now a little older, a little wiser and oozing with sex appeal, 22-year-old Bobby Valentino talks with Alternatives about his desire to tackle the music charts again with the release of his upcoming album, Give Me A Chance. Alternatives: First, fill us in on what happened with Mista. Was that a bad experience for you?

Bobby: No, I won’t say it was a bad music experience; it was a learning experience for me, which I was real glad that I had that chance to learn about it. It’s hard getting four people on the same page all the time, let alone get four people at the same venue at the same time. It was a learning experience. We’re all still cool. We had worked on our second album, but we had had so many different management issues and people not liking different managers, so we just kind of split up after we had did the album. It was extra hot too because we were working on it with Tim [Timbaland] and [Timbaland’s writing partner] Bob, which made me want to work with them on my solo album because I realized how hot and how tight they were. They were very talented.

AHHA: Are you guys still in touch now?

Bobby: Yeah, we’re still in touch; we’re still cool. It’s all good, but everybody trying to do their own thing.

AHHA: Are they still doing music?

Bobby: Yeah, they’re still doing music. I was just one of the fortunate ones that got a chance to go with DTP and do my own thing. I had a few different demos and I had gotten them to a guy named Poon Daddy that used to be on the radio with Ludacris. He took it to Chaka Zulu and Luda and it was history. They loved it from there.

AHHA: How has it been being linked up with Ludacris and DTP?

Bobby: It’s real good because it’s just like you just said, I’m the only R&B singer, so a lot of time is being put to me versus being another rapper on DTP. You might get lost in the shuffle. That was one of the things that interested me about going with DTP.

AHHA: Tell us about your decision to put your career on hold and earn your college degree.

Bobby: Well, I felt like this music business is so competitive, so I feel like if it’s something you want to do, you definitely have to have something to fall back on. I really wanted to enjoy college, first of all, and get a degree and make sure that there’s always something else that I could do in my life. I wanted to learn more. I learned a lot about being a man, being a Black man and just about life in college, which are things that I’m glad that I did because it’s helping me now in doing this music thing. It’s not just about being an artist; it’s about being able to talk to people and be very versatile.

AHHA: What’d you get your degree in?

Bobby: Mass Communications, radio/TV/film.

AHHA: That’s a good major to fall back on.

Bobby: Yeah. I actually wrote the treatment to my first video, so I put that [degree] to use a little bit.

AHHA: How was it being on campus for you? Did a lot of people recognize you from Mista?

Bobby: Some people remembered and some didn’t. But it really didn’t matter because I was there to really just be myself and not be a celebrity or a has-been. I just wanted to get my degree, have fun and have memories for the future.

AHHA: You were on the football team while you were there, right?

Bobby: Yeah, I played football and baseball. I really got into the whole college life.

AHHA: So you finally decide to come back to the music industry. What was on your mind when you were making the album?

Bobby: I just wanted to make this album the next R&B album that really catapults R&B and takes it to the next level. It really raises the bar for anybody else that wants to put out an R&B record.

AHHA: Tell us some of the people you worked with on the album.

Bobby: I wrote on every record. I wrote with Tim and Bob mostly and I worked with a couple of new producers. That’s pretty much it.

AHHA: You co-wrote the single, “Slow Down”. Tell us about the idea behind that song.

Bobby: Well actually, I was driving down Melrose with Tim and I just saw this pretty girl from the back. I never got a chance to catch up with her. She’d dip into a couple of stores, then I’d see her again, then she’d disappear. So when we went to the studio, we just came up with that whole little concept and we wrote the record about that. So when I write songs, it’s all about a mood or it’s all about a moment. I work with Tim and Bob a lot because they can help me capture all these ideas. In the musically aspect, they can take me there.

AHHA: Is there anything that you know now that you wish you had known a few years ago?

Bobby: Oh, everything! The whole music game. I wish I had known that it was a business then and not just fun. But it was a learning experience and I’m glad I had the chance to do that because I really learned a lot. It’s really helping me now to decipher the real people from the fake, to know what to do and how to talk to people and how to make them interested in me and not just be a singer. I have to be more than a singer. So, I learned a lot and I’m glad I had that chance.

AHHA: What’s going to make listeners stop and take note of Bobby Valentino?

Bobby: They’re gonna stop because I have great music. To me, it’s all about the product. I feel like a lot of R&B cats just go in the studio and record something that somebody else wrote. I feel like, these are my thoughts and my thoughts are the thoughts of many, especially guys and there are thoughts that girls can definitely relate too also. I think people are going to really enjoy this album, especially because it has a lot of different feels like Jodeci or the Isley Brothers. With all these different feels, people are really going to enjoy it. It’s going to take them back to a moment when they remembered that R&B was for real. Now, R&B is just like — who knows what it is? Cats just get rappers to rap throughout their whole album, so it’s kind of taking that R&B element away. I really wanted to bring it back.




The Sun Is Shining For Abijah With New Album On The Way

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson /

(Mar. 10, 2005) Talented singer and musician Abijah is hot on the South Florida Reggae charts with his remake of Bob Marley’s Sun is Shining. The song has been released on the Big League label, and has been stirring up some interest in the South Florida area of the US.  According to his manager Albert Ramsay, Abijah has been working hard on several projects including the completion of his sophomore album.  'Abijah has been doing quite a lot of recording of late. He worked with Phillip ‘Fattis’ Burrell on more than 20 tracks for the new album.  We are anticipating a release of the finished product by middle of this year,’ said Mr. Ramsay. Abijah burst on the scene in 2001 with the smash single Revelation. The song spent thirty weeks on the local charts peaking at number six. Since then he has electrified audiences locally and overseas with his energetic stage performances.   Last year Abijah recorded the song Overcome with one time rhythm and blues hit maker and former child star, Tevin Campbell.  Among the other artistes whom Abijah has collaborated with are DJ Krush (Japan), American female roots-reggae artist Zema, Nadine Sutherland and Nadz.  He also recorded the title track and appeared in the 2002 international advertising campaign for the Jamaica Tourist Board.   Abijah’s debut self titled album two years ago by VP Records. The 14-track disc contained the hit single Revelation as well as the follow up single, the Top 10 chart hit Press On.  To promote the album, Abijah embarked on various overseas engagements in the Caribbean, Europe and the US.  Known for his promotion of positive values, Abijah was invited to speak and perform at Harvard University and Oxford University two years ago at international workshops on living values. He also performed at over numerous schools in Jamaica at free concerts focused on Healing the Nation by teaching forgiveness. Most recently Abijah teamed up with deejay Lutan Fyah, to write and perform the theme song for the Buy Jamaican campaign which is being promoted by the Jamaica Manufacturers Association.




Beautifully Jill Scott

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(Mar. 11, 2005) *Creativity always strikes for Jill Scott at four or five in the morning; the hours right before the sun rises when words are conjured up from some fertile place in her soul and next thing you know, we’ve got bright, beautiful creations like “A Long Walk,” “Family Reunion,” “Do You Remember,” “Golden,” or recent Best Urban Alternative Grammy winner, “Cross My Mind.”  I’m not a morning person and I hate to get up, period,” laughs Scott. “I really don’t enjoy it so much, but that’s when the creativity hits, and it’s annoying, and it won’t stop until I get up and go do what I’m supposed to do.” The north Philly talent and proud wife of Lyzel is first and foremost a poet. When the words come at those ungodly hours, they arrive as poems that may or may not be put to beats and bellowed into song. At the end of April, Scott will tour the country with the pieces chosen instead for her recent book, “The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours: The Poetry of Jill Scott.”   “I’ll do a seven-city book tour, and then I’ll probably do another tour of the music overseas – hit all the festivals, which is really cool and fun,” she says, beaming at the thought of sharing her intimate words and sounds with fans.  Scott, who turns 33 on April 4, is currently touring the U.S. behind her latest album “Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2,” a studio follow-up to her 2000 debut “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1.” The singer credits her mother with watering her creativity seeds early on.   “She really facilitated my dreams,” says Scott. “If I was interested in classical music, she saved up money and took me to see an orchestra. I’d be thrilled by it, and then she saved up for many months and bought me a violin.  If I was interested in plays, we went to go see them.  I was interested in art, she’d bring home books constantly. She just kept filling me up with art and music and creativity and life.”

When asked if she would ever consider expressing some of that creativity through film via movies or television, she says: “If something really genuine comes along, I would love to, but I think it’d be a wise idea for me to go back to small theatre just because I want to get my chops all the way up. I don’t want to kind of rig it, pretend. I want to actually do the work.”  While clutching her Grammy award last February, a reporter backstage asked Scott how she was able to amass so much self-esteem. Again, she credits her mama, who made sure Jill had every single tool needed to build the life of her dreams. “We lived in a ghetto, for lack of a better word, but I was so filled up with love that I didn’t know that we were broke until I was in high school and started to really go outside of my neighbourhood,” Scott says. “There’s no reason why I shouldn’t appreciate who I am.” 

Here are the remaining dates of Jill Scott's current U.S. tour:

12 - Mashantucket, CT - Foxwoods
13 - Boston, MA - Orpheum Theatre
15 - Montreal, Quebec - Metropolis
16 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
18 - Detroit, MI - Fox Theatre
19 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre
23 - Cleveland, OH - State Theatre
24 - Baltimore, MD - Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
26 - Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theatre




We Remember George Scott: Blind Boys Of Alabama Vocalist Dies At 75

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(Mar. 11, 2005) *George Scott, a founding member of the Blind Boys of Alabama gospel group, died in his sleep Wednesday morning at his home in Durham, NC. He was 75. Scott was the booming baritone of the group, which formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s. While Scott retired from touring in 2004, he continued recording with the group and sang lead on several key tracks for the Blind Boys' forthcoming album 'Atom Bomb' (Real World Records).   Born George Lewis Scott in Notasulga, Alabama, on March 18, 1929, George met the other founding members of the Blind Boys, Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter, at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1936. They formed a singing group in 1939, for which Scott also played guitar, their only instrumental accompaniment in those early days. The group became a gospel sensation in the 1940s and '50s, and spent more than 40 years working mostly in the traditional gospel circuit.  Just last month they won their fourth consecutive Grammy award in the Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album category for the CD they recorded with Ben Harper, entitled “There Will Be a Light.” Scott sang the lead along with Harper on the opening track to that album, and later performed the song live with Harper and the Blind Boys on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

One of the last people George Scott spoke with before his death was the group's leader, Clarence Fountain.  "I spoke to him last night," Fountain said Wednesday, "and he was feeling fine. It just goes to show you never know when you may be talking to someone for the last time, so always be thankful for the people you have in your life. We're grateful to the Lord for letting us have George for as long as we did. He and I grew up together and sang together from little boys to old men. George was a great singer, he could sing any part in a song. We loved him and he was one of the 'Boys.' He lived a life of service and now he's gone on to his reward."    Scott is survived by his wife Ludie Lewis Mann Scott, his mother Hassie Lou Scott, and his sister Benzie Jackson. The funeral service will be held at 1pm on Tuesday, March 15 at Monumental Faith Church. The family has asked that mourners either make donations to the American Diabetes Association or send flowers to Holloway Funeral Home in Durham.




'Urban Legend' Certified Platinum For TI

Source: LaTrice Burnette / Atlantic Records /

(Mar. 11, 2005) "Urban Legend," the chart-topping album from Grand Hustle/Atlantic recording artist T.I., has been certified platinum by the RIAA for U.S. sales in excess of one million units.  T.I.'s second label release, "Urban Legend" made an explosive debut upon its release last November - premiering in the #1 spot on Billboard's "Top R&B/Hip-Hip Albums" chart and in the #7 spot on the Billboard 200.  Now in its fourth month on the national charts, "Urban Legend" remains in the top five this week on the R&B/Hip-Hop list.   "Urban Legend" has thus far spawned a pair of smash singles.  The first, "Bring Em Out," hit the top five at Urban radio and the top ten at CHR/Rhythmic outlets.  The single is now making major inroads at CHR/Pop radio, ranking as the #1 "New & Active" track on this week's R&R chart.   Meanwhile, the album's second single, "U Don't Know Me," has already bulleted into the top ten at Urban and into the top 15 at CHR/Rhythmic.  The companion video is in Heavy rotation at BET, where it is the #1 most-played video of the week.  T.I. is being featured in a string of BET programs, including "106 & Park" (where he performed live on March 2nd), "Access Granted," "Rap City," "BET Style," and "Rip The Runway."  The "U Don't Know Me" video is also in Big Ten rotation on MTV, and is enjoying major play on MTV2, MTV Jams - where it is in "Blazin'" rotation, and Fuse - where it is "Oven Fresh." Coinciding with the success of "Urban Legend," T.I. is getting ready to hit the road with Nelly.  The two-month itinerary, which will play major venues from coast to coast, is set to get underway on March 18th and wrap up on May 21st.  Also on the bill will be T.I.'s Atlantic labelmate Fat Joe.

In the online world,    T.I. has performed for Sessions@AOL, the exclusive program of AOL-produced in-studio performances and interviews.  His live performance has been among the Top 10 most played on AOL Music.  T.I. has also performed for Rolling Stone Originals, where the audio is available for download and streaming via REAL and Rhapsody.  On the wireless front, T.I. continues to have top-selling ringtones across a number of Atlantic's wireless partners. "Urban Legend" has been winning press raves and major media coverage since its release.  Most recently, T.I. garnered the spring cover of Trace magazine and will be featured on the May cover of XXL. "Urban Legend" finds the Atlanta-based rap sensation joined by a crew of special guests, including Pharrell, Nelly, Lil' Kim, Trick Daddy, Lil Jon, Lil Wayne, Jazze Pha, and others.  The album is the follow-up to T.I.'s breakthrough 2003 Grand Hustle/Atlantic premiere, "TRAP MUZIK," which included the hits "24's," "Rubber Band Man," and "Let's Get Away."    In addition to the original "Urban Legend," an entirely remixed version of the album - "Urban Legend: CHOPPED AND SCREWED BY PAUL WALL" - was released last month.  For this special release, the set was completely retooled by acclaimed underground mixmaster Paul Wall, incorporating the psychedelic sound of "screw" to create an all-new musical experience.




'Billie Holiday: The Ultimate Collection'

Source:  Paula Witt / Shore Fire Media /

(Mar. 11, 2005) Multiple biographies and scores of essays have sought to interpret Billie Holiday. The distinct and guiding purpose of the deluxe boxed set 'Billie Holiday: The Ultimate Collection' (April 5  Hip-O/Verve/UMe) is to present Holiday as she was: how she looked sounded and lived.   Specifically, the video offering on this collection, which also includes two career spanning CDs of her music, reveal poignant visuals that tell her story without interpretation.  For instance, to see a young and voluptuous Billie on the 1935 video short "Symphony in Black, A Rhapsody of Negro Life, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra" released at the beginning of her career sharply contrasts to the frail looking Holiday with the harsh cough you see in a 1958 TV performance for 'Art Ford's Jazz Party'  that was shot in Newark a year to the week before Billie died. Then there is a clip of Holiday where you see her at her best musically. Known as  her most celebrated on-camera performance she sings "Fine and Mellow" during  the 1957 CBS TV show "The Seven Lively Arts - Sounds of Jazz" produced by Robert Herridge -with the guidance of jazz journalists Whitney Balliett and Nat Hentoff . In the same clip you also see Billie  smiling and nodding and then biting her lip as her close friend Lester Young hits a sax solo.  Young is the person who dubbed her "Lady Day" and it was Billie who nicknamed him "The President" or "Pres." Prior to this performance they had developed a close musical relationship that generated many classic recordings. This was the first time they had seen each other in years and the last time they would play together.

Produced by Multiprises LLC: Toby Byron, producer, 'Billie Holiday: The Ultimate Collection' is the latest in the Deluxe Sound+Vision series from Universal Music Enterprises, which brings together a double-CD retrospective and an in-depth DVD for the most expansive audio and video collection of a major artist's career. This new Deluxe Sound+Vision release of 'Billie Holiday: The Ultimate Collection' becomes the definitive overview--audio and video--of one of the major musical figures of modern times. Other sets covered in this series include Bob Marley's Legend, Jimi Hendrix's Blue Wild Angel, B.B. King's Anthology and more.




Rock Of Ages

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

(Mar. 14, 2005) This evening, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will conduct its 20th annual induction ceremony, adding the members of U2, the Pretenders and the O'Jays, as well as singer Percy Sledge and bluesman Buddy Guy, to a pop pantheon that includes Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and the Beatles. A host of glittering, greying rock stars will be in attendance, and a number will jam. Naturally, the proceedings are taped for later TV broadcast. For some, this star-studded banquet attests to rock 'n' roll's stature, vitality and endurance. Others insist it's proof that rock has calcified, and that young people have no interest in listening to old fogeys. There's even a sort of critical cottage industry devoted to arguing that Rock Is Dead, in which one wordy iconoclast after another huffs and puffs over the music industry's arrogance and irrelevance before performing last rites. The public, meanwhile, goes on buying rock albums regardless. Even though artists aren't eligible for inclusion until at least 25 years after the release of their first recording, the Hall of Fame is hardly a Hall of Has-Beens. Not only do a fair number of inductees continue to perform and record, many actually thrive post-induction. Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, AC/DC and Prince are among those whose Hall of Fame status hasn't cut into their ticket and album sales, and it's a fair bet U2 won't be hobbled by having a plaque on the wall of the Cleveland-based museum, either. It is worth wondering, though, how this could be. How is it that, 50 years after Bill Haley & the Comets topped the charts with (We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock, rock 'n' roll remains the dominant pop style in North America? Why hasn't hip-hop -- which itself has been around for more than a quarter-century -- pushed rock out off the spotlight and taken the stage for itself? What would make teenagers interested in, much less devoted to, stars whose careers ended years before they were even born? Simply put, Why isn't rock dead yet? It's not as if the death of rock is a new idea. The Doors recorded a tune called Rock Is Dead way back in 1969; it wasn't a hit, but three years later millions were echoing Don McLean's assertion in American Pie that Buddy Holly's demise marked "the day the music died." By 1979, the Who had turned the phrase "rock is dead" on its head for the chorus to Long Live Rock -- and by this point, the only serious contender for a rock "successor" was disco. Obviously, concerns over the music's health were hypochondriac at best.

A quarter-century later, however, things look a bit different. For one thing, 50 years is an unusually long time for a pop style to remain current. Ragtime's prime lasted just two decades before it was edged off the dance floor by the foxtrot, and jazz managed to go from hot to swing to mouldy fig in barely 25 years. Pop styles, which are generally defined by a specific approach to rhythm, had in the century before rock 'n' roll tended to last only a generation or so. They changed as regularly and predictably as hairstyles and hemlines. Rock, however, has had an uncanny ability to mutate while maintaining its identity. Over the years, it has served a variety of constituencies through hyphenates -- Latin-rock, country-rock, southern-rock, jazz-rock, progressive-rock, hard-rock, soft-rock -- that seemed to make the music immune to change. Like Star Trek's Borg, rock became a ruthless assimilator, and resistance was futile. When, in the mid-seventies, rock was presumed to have lost its way and the punk reformation began, attempts to revive the one true faith ended instead in more sects: Rockabilly, ska, new wave, synth pop, thrash, industrial. Haircuts, makeup and fashion changed, sometimes at a dizzying pace -- yet somehow, it was all only rock 'n' roll. And everyone liked it. That wasn't always so. Back in the sixties, when rock was younger and hairier, the seeming inevitability of change was underscored by a generation gap that left parents and children sometimes wondering if they were actually part of the same species. Although the gap encompassed issues of style, hygiene and deportment, music tended to be the most obvious sticking point, with parents denouncing their offspring's favourites as noise, while the young boomers considered mom and dad's listening the aural equivalent of Sominex. Yet despite the muttered hopes of countless grandparents, no similar gap has occurred with the current generation. If anything, they've turned the very idea on its head. In 2001, for instance, the Teen Choice Awards (sponsored by the U.S. kids' cable channel Nickelodeon) for best rock track went to Hall of Fame members Aerosmith, for the song Jaded. The award was presented by teen idol Britney Spears, who subsequently performed with Aerosmith at the Super Bowl. For what it's worth, Spears is four years younger than Liv Tyler, the actress daughter of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. That's not to say youth culture doesn't continue to baffle oldsters. Boomers are often confused and sometimes alarmed by the music their tattooed-and-pierced spawn embrace, but modern youth are more likely to steal than spurn their parents' CDs. Indeed, it's not unusual these days to find college dorms adorned with posters of Jimi Hendrix or Bob Marley -- even though they've been dead 35 and 24 years, respectively.

For a sense of perspective, that would be like a college kid in the mid-seventies hanging posters of Glenn Miller and Nat King Cole. There are a number of reasons for this apparent time warp, the chief being that older music doesn't really sound all that old any more. Not everything, of course; Robert Johnson's blues still sound like they're coming from a dark and distant past, and it remains impossible for people under 50 to imagine how the dance music of the Roaring Twenties could have generated so much physical exertion. But a surprising amount of music from the late sixties and seventies seems current when used in advertising or on soundtracks today, whereas 30- or 40-year-old music back then would have seemed simply laughable. Some of that has to do with marketing -- unlike rock from the fifties, which radio programmers call "oldies," music from the late sixties and seventies gets dubbed "classic rock," which is far less musty -- and some with the fact that certain types of instrumentation and playing have held for several decades now. Somehow, certain guitar tones from the psychedelic sixties remain fresh even while synthesizer effects from the eighties seem hopelessly dated. It also helps that a lot of music from the sixties and seventies was sampled and transformed by rappers into hits for the eighties and nineties. In a sense, it was like pop plastic surgery, granting a sort of eternal youth to a whole swath of older music. The digital revolution made sampling easy and powerful; it also sparked a shift from LPs to CDs, which in turn led record companies to re-master and re-release huge chunks of back catalogue. By the 1990s, an unprecedented variety of popular music was widely available, and younger listeners began to take "new music" to mean "music I haven't heard before," instead of simply "music recorded recently." File sharing and other forms of on-line downloading only accelerated the discovery process, making younger listeners less insistent on music from "their" generation. And so rock continues to cheat death. Instead of being killed off by the latest stylistic virus, the music continually absorbs new qualities without losing its old vitality, and nobody understands this better than the Hall of Famers. Think of how the Rolling Stones' embrace of disco resulted in Miss You; or how Aerosmith revitalized their career by helping turn Walk This Way into a rap hit; or how U2's interest in techno and electronica spawned Numb and Mysterious Ways. So maybe rock really is dead, but continues to walk the Earth zombie-like, eating the brains of younger, more vital pop styles. It's not the most flattering metaphor, admittedly, but it does go a long way toward explaining Ashlee Simpson.




Keshia Chante Gives Cheque To Hamilton School


(Mar. 13, 2005) TORONTO (CP) - Juno nominee and R&B artist Keshia Chante has presented a $10,000 grant to a school in Hamilton, Ont., on behalf of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Science's "Band-Aid" program.  C.B. Stirling public school was the recipient of the CARAS funding, to be used for new musical instruments.  "Music is the most powerful interpretation of life and art," said Chante. "The creative possibilities that it can inspire are endless."  The teen artist is up for artist of the year and R&B/soul artist of the year at next month's Junos.  Her self-titled album has sold more than 50,000 copies across Canada.




Badu To Announce New Label At SXSW Conf.

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(Mar. 10, 2005) *Texas native Erykah Badu has announced that she will be attending next weekend's 2005 South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference in Austin as both performer and featured speaker -- and to announce the creation of her new label, Control Freaq Records.  Badu is a featured SXSW Interview on March 19 and will participate in a special Q&A with journalist Robert Wilonsky, before opening up the floor for questions from the audience. This interactive forum is open to industry professionals and SXSW registrants and will take place in Room 18 ABC, from 1:30 - 2:45 p.m.       The discussion will focus on artists' rights and Badu's work in music, film and her community development programs - including her nonprofit group B.L.I.N.D. (Beautiful Love Incorporated Non Profit Development.  Its first project was the refurbishing of The Black Forest Theater, which created an epicenter for her community outreach projects.  Immediately following the interview, Erykah will hold a press conference to announce the creation of her new label, Control Freaq Records, and discuss the label's philosophy.   The day's events will culminate in a musical performance later that night at Austin Music Hall. Dubbed "Erykah Badu Presents: Control FreaQ Records Featuring Jay Electronica," the showcase will include a set by Badu and a performance by her first signed artist, New Orleans born MC/Lyricist Jay Electronica.




Boyz, Wyclef To Headline St. Kitts Festival

Excerpt from

(Mar. 10, 2005) *Boyz II Men and Wyclef Jean are among the acts set to perform at the St. Kitts Music Festival 2005, to be held June 23-26 on the Caribbean island.  The lineup also includes Lonnie Liston Smith, Ronnie Laws, Pieces of a Dream, Rupee, David Rudder, Black Stalin, The Grandmasters, Kenrick Georges & The Sugar Mill Bits & Pieces and the Roy Cape All Stars. Additional musical acts will be added in the coming weeks.  "The St. Kitts Music Festival has grown into something of a phenomenon, drawing visitors from across the Caribbean as well as from North America and across the globe," said Hon. Richard "Ricky" O. Skerritt, Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture for St. Kitts. "Not only is it a wonderful cultural event, it also has a significant positive impact on the tourism sector of our economy as hotels, restaurants, taxis and other business entities see increased business as a direct result of the Music Festival."  Now in its ninth consecutive year, the festival attracts both locals and visitors alike and features various musical styles, including R&B, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, soca, calypso, gospel and contemporary music. Past artists have included such top artists as Brian McKnight, Shaggy, Bobby Caldwell, DMX, Hugh Masekala, Xtatik, the Temptations, Chaka Khan, Maxi Priest, Ronald "Boo" Hinkson, Eve, Ashanti and Busta Rhymes.




Activities Relating To The 'Ray' Soundtrack

Excerpt from

(Mar. 12, 2005) The soundtrack to the Ray Charles biopic remains on top of Billboard's Top Soundtracks chart for the 15th non-consecutive week, making "Ray" (Rhino) the second-longest running No. 1 album since this chart was introduced in June 2001.  The only soundtrack to have a longer reign is "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" with 34 non-consecutive weeks in pole position in 2001-2002. In third place is "Chicago," which ruled for 12 non-consecutive weeks in 2003.  Only two other soundtracks have led the list for 10 weeks or more. "8 Mile" sprinted for 11 weeks in 2002-2003 and "Bad Boys II" dominated for 10 weeks in 2003.




DMB Takes A 'Stand' On New Album

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(Mar. 14, 2005) Dave Matthews Band has christened its new album "Stand Up," which will be released May 10 via RCA. First single "American Baby" will premiere at midnight tomorrow (March 15) exclusively via AOL Music's First Listen initiative. "Stand Up" was previewed for a select crowd last night in DMB's Charlottesville, Va., home base.  The album is the follow-up to 2002's "Busted Stuff," which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.9 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  DMB has given fans a peak into the sessions via video clips on a dedicated new album Web site. The latest posting shows the band working through an up-tempo new song with an acoustic guitar lead in the vein of the early hit "Satellite."  "This is one of the best experiences ever we've had in the studio," bassist Stefan Lessard says. "Things happened so organically and I think we've really captured the essence of what makes us gel so well as a band."  Although a track list has not yet been confirmed, among the songs expected to make the final cut are the vocal harmony-laden "Dream Girl," "Stolen Away," "Smooth Ride," "Hello Again," "Joy Ride," "Die Trying" and "Old Dirt Road."  As previously reported, DMB will embark on its annual summer tour beginning June 1 in Maryland Heights, Mo. The first Australian dates of the group's career begin March 21 in Melbourne.




Al Green: Green River

Excerpt from

(March 13, 2005) R&B/soul legend Al Green collaborates again with longtime producer/mentor Willie Mitchell on "Everything's OK," due this week via Blue Note. It's the follow-up to 2003's "I Can't Stop," which was his first secular album with Mitchell at the helm since 1976. "This ain't something we wrote 20 years ago and put out," he says. "This is happening now. This is fresh cream."  Also on hand for the singer's return engagement at Memphis' Royal Studios were backing vocalists Donna Rhodes, Charlie Chalmers and Sandra Rhodes (aka Rhodes/Chalmers/Rhodes) and bassist Leroy Hodges. Additional musicians include the eight-piece New Memphis Strings.  Green adds "Rev." to his billing on "Everything's OK." But he deftly deflects questions about his ongoing sacred/secular balancing act by talking about his parishioners.  "Like I told members of my church [Full Gospel Tabernacle]: Every mother in the church ought to know what [the single "Perfect to Me"] means," Green says between hums. "The mothers started smiling and moving around, but they wouldn't look at the pastor. But you can't fool me."




Youssou N'dour Performs To Fight Malaria


(Mar. 14, 2005) DAKAR, Senegal (AP) - Youssou N'Dour added his voice to the fight against malaria, taking the stage in Senegal to help boost awareness of the leading killer of the continent's children.  The UN-backed Africa Live/Roll Back Malaria show was organized to spread the word about a malady that kills an African child every 30 seconds. The two-day festival ended Sunday.  "Here, through music, we can speak to the local population about malaria prevention, while telling the outside world that we need more money, more medicine, more mosquito nets," said N'Dour, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.  The United Nations estimates the world sees between 300 and 500 million clinical cases of malaria each year. One million children die annually from malaria - and 90 per cent of those are in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is the leading killer of children, according to the world body.  "Instead of a million people dying each year, it could be next to nothing," said billionaire businessman Richard Branson, in town for the show. "We can break this," said Branson, whose philanthropic organizations help fight malaria.  Late Saturday night, Rokia Traore and Salif Keita wowed a 10,000-plus crowd at a soccer stadium in Senegal's capital, Dakar, with the scaling string-drum rhythms of their desert homeland, Mali. N'Dour, a Senegalese favourite son who won a 2005 world music Grammy for his album Egypt, took the stage early Sunday.





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)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

C-Murder, Truest **** I Ever Said, Koch
Curtis Mayfield, Move on Up [Prism], Prism
Fat Joe, Things of That Nature, Atlantic
Gil Scott-Heron, Greatest Hits Live: Collectors Series, Compendia
James Brown & Friends, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Polydor
Kem, Album II, Motown
Lou Rawls, Lou Rawls, Simply the Best
Mariah Carey, Emancipation of Mimi, Island
New Edition, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Geffen
Queen Latifah, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Motown
Santana, Guitar Legend [United Multi Consign], United Multi Consign
Stevie Wonder, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Motown
The Four Tops, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Motown
Tweet, It's Me Again, Elektra







This Year ReelWorld Is Bringing 90 Films Downtown

Excerpt From The Toronto Star - William Littler

(Mar. 16, 2005) The ReelWorld Film Festival is celebrating its fifth year with a move downtown.  That means gala screenings will take place at the Famous Players Paramount on Richmond St. W. and regular showings at Rainbow Cinemas Market Square on Front St., instead of being staged in North York.  More than 10,000 attendees are expected at the event, which runs April 13 to 17 and is billed as "Canada's premiere non-profit film festival dedicated to nurturing, promoting and celebrating the full spectrum of culturally and racially diverse film and video."  This year's festival will screen over 90 Canadian and international feature films, documentaries, shorts and music videos.  There are entries from countries such as Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Mexico, Guatemala and the Netherlands.  Among the greatly anticipated movies are Raoul Peck's Sometimes in April, about the Rwanda genocide; the award-winning Green Hat about sexual taboos in China; and actor Lisa Gay Hamilton's Beah: A Black Woman Speaks about U.S. actress, poet and political activist Beah Richards, who died of emphysema in 2000.  The opening film The Salon stars Vivica A. Fox as the owner of a neighbourhood beauty parlour who finds romance as she struggles to save her business under threat from corporate giants. Written by Barbershop writer/producer Mark Brown, the movie is described as a "sassy, heart-warming tale."  The festival will close with the South Asian epic Morning Raga, starring legendary Bollywood star Shabana Azmi.  Founded by actress/producer/director Tonya Lee Williams, ReelWorld also features seminars with industry experts.  For more information, visit or call 416- 923-9232.




Telefilm Boss Touts 10-Per-Cent Solution

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By James Adams

(Mar. 14, 2005) The new head of Telefilm Canada would like to see Canadian movies earn at least 10 per cent of the domestic box office by the end of the decade, but for that to happen "domestic resources need to be increased" as well as "greater access to foreign funding." In a presentation late last week in Ottawa to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Telefilm executive director Wayne Clarkson said that in 2004, Canadian films accounted for 4.5 per cent of gross domestic revenues at theatres. In other words, "we are 90 per cent there" in having Canadian movies account for 5 per cent of the domestic box office by 2006 -- the figure and the date that former Canadian heritage minister Sheila Copps announced as major cornerstones of the new federal film policy in 2001 (when domestic market share was only 1.7 per cent). Clarkson told the members of Parliament there was no reason to stop at the 5-per-cent threshold once it is reached. He noted that Swedish films account for 22 per cent of that country's domestic box office. Italian films generate 20 per cent of Italy's gross revenues from theatrical releases. In Britain, the figure is 17 per cent. A Telefilm spokesperson said Friday that a 10-per-cent box office would translate into gross revenues of about $100-million by 2009 or 2010. Clarkson, who assumed his Telefilm post after serving as executive director of the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto for almost 15 years, acknowledged that the relative buoyancy of Canadian feature films is due largely to the vibrancy of the French-language market in Quebec. In 2004, French-Canadian films grossed $29-million, or 21.2 per cent of the French-language market.  By contrast, English-Canadian movies earned about $12-million last year, or 1.6 per cent of market share.




Do The Right Thing, Spike Asserts

Excerpt From The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Mar. 15, 2005) Father. Mentor. Concerned citizen.  That's the image Spike Lee projected during his lecture at Roy Thomson Hall last night.  It's not that the director — America's most prolific and prominent black filmmaker — has gotten soft.  He still speaks his mind.  He's still critical of his peers.  He's still pissed off about a lot of things.  It's just that, well, we've heard it all from him before: How the Oscars passed over Denzel Washington in Malcolm X for Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman; how African Americans don't have power in Hollywood; how Soul Plane was a piece of trash; how the New York Knicks suck ... okay, I made that one up.  The point is that since he debuted in 1986 with She's Gotta Have It, made for a $127,000 (U.S.) and grossing $8.5 million, Lee has earned a reputation as an agitator — particularly on the subject of African Americans being sidelined in the movie industry.

But, with 18 feature films under his belt, including The Original Kings of Comedy, The 25th Hour and Do The Right Thing, even the 48-year-old married father of two seems to have grown tired of his own shtick.  During last night's hour-long speech, the New Yorker poked fun at actor Cuba Gooding Jr.'s choice of acting roles and lamented a short-lived sitcom based on black slavery, but most of his comments were geared toward motivating the audience, primarily comprised of college and university students.  The event was organized by the Ryerson University student council to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Monday.  Lee urged them to find their passion, believe in themselves, hang out with positive people and work hard.  His main message was about the plight of young African-American students who "fail class on purpose because of peer pressure."  "Somehow intelligence is being defined with being white and ignorance with being black," he said blaming the imagery and lyrical content of hip-hop music.  "It's not even gangsta rap, it's about pimp rap. When artists talk about `Ho this' and `Bitch this' and `Skank this,' they're talking about our mothers, our sisters, our daughters.  "You have to have knowledge of self and knowledge of history. Because if you had that you would not use that terminology. You would not even be in that mindset."  Lee also said it was a criminal act for parents to allow their children to watch TV, especially music videos, unsupervised.




Genie Awards 2005 - Where Are All The Docs This Year?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon

(Mar. 16, 2005) Canada's documentary community is thriving artistically, and 2004 was another strong year. So why are only three feature-length documentaries nominated for a Genie, the Canadian equivalent of an Oscar? The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which administers the Genie Awards, even folded its best feature-length and best short documentary categories into one this year because it received too few submissions. Why? The talk in the industry is that The Corporation, a film that analyzes the strange psychology of companies, is such a strong contender that many filmmakers feel they may have better luck at the Geminis, television's big awards show held later in the year, than at the Genies on Monday. The academy doesn't let films compete for both. Even if The Corporation is seen as a shoo-in by some, it is still up against two very well-received films: What Remains of Us, a hard-hitting treatise on Tibet, and Mr. Mergler's Gift, about a piano prodigy and her teacher.

One omission, at least from the National Film Board of Canada's point of view, is Hardwood, the short documentary it submitted about basketball and family reconciliation, which received an Oscar nomination, but not a Genie mention. What Remains of Us, however, which was overlooked by the Oscars despite lobbying by the NFB, did get a Genie nomination. "Go figure," one veteran NFB producer lamented. Two other acclaimed NFB documentaries, The Take, about Argentina's financial crises, and Scared Sacred, a journey to the sites of various political horrors from Cambodia to Afghanistan, are said to be going for Geminis this year instead of a Genie. And where was The Corporation on Oscar night? Despite its U.S. theatrical release, it was ineligible to compete for an Oscar because it had also aired on TV.  Given the Oscar and Genie horse races, the Geminis can be a convenient third chance to get award-show publicity. The Geminis also have the advantage of having more documentary award categories, such as best direction, best writing and best original score.  But competing for a Gemini Award isn't always by choice. Since many documentaries are shown solely on television, they only qualify for a Gemini. The Genies, on the other hand, require films to have had a theatrical release. Most don't make it to cinemas. Also broadcasters who contributed funding to documentaries may have more interest in seeing those films compete for Geminis. So, Genie or Gemini? It's a yearly hair-pulling exercise for documentary-makers. And this year, many seem to be choosing the latter.




Saluting Pioneers And Phenoms

Excerpt From The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman

(Mar. 16, 2005) Last year the Canadian director honoured with a tribute retrospective at the Toronto International Film Festival was Quebec documentary pioneer Pierre Perrault. The year before it was the veteran Allan King, whose latest work was Dying at Grace.  Now comes word (though it has not yet been announced) that at the 30th edition of the festival in September, Don Owen will be in the spotlight.  The film that made Owen an international celebrity was the happy accident called Nobody Waved Good-bye. In 1963, Owen, then a cherubic young unknown at the NFB, was assigned to make a half-hour documentary on middle-class delinquents. Instead, he came up with an 80-minute feature that became a sleeper at the New York Film Festival — where it was hailed as "marvellous" in the New Yorker and chosen by Judith Crist as one of the year's 10 best.  Peter Kastner played a misunderstood kid who makes enemies of his teachers, his family and his girlfriend, and for a few years the role brought Kastner a Hollywood career.  Much of the film was improvised (there wasn't much of a script), and it had a feeling of freshness and sociological accuracy. The characters did not seem derived from American movies and British plays; they sounded like awkward Toronto teens and their bumbling parents. The low-budget, thrown-together style turned into an advantage; its lack of Hollywood slickness seemed like a testament of good faith.  For me Owen's best work was Notes for a Film About Donna and Gail (1966) — a study of two working-class Montreal girls narrated by Patrick Watson. Because it's an odd length (less than an hour), it is rarely shown.  But for sheer novelty you can't top Partners (1976), possibly the only movie ever made in which love story and thriller elements are combined with ringing declarations of Canadian nationalism and dire warnings about the risks of U.S. takeovers.

 This week the festival demonstrated once again that it is effectively becoming a year-round presence, not just something that happens for 10 days each autumn. Monday evening's movie and party combo — alias the 2005 Volkswagen Canadian Short Film Showcase — was a high-energy, joint-is-jumping scene.

The evening began with a special screening at the Cumberland of the year's top 18 short films (from six provinces). Among them was Chris Landreth's brilliant 2005 Oscar winner Ryan and Hubert Davis' Oscar nominee Hardwood.

After the screening, most of the audience trooped over to Flow for drinks, nibbles and movie schmoozing. The shorts showcase will make its way across the country and around the world via the festival's innovative Film Circuit — dedicated to developing new markets for Canadian films.

 John Weinzweig, a.k.a. the dean of Canadian composers, celebrated his 92nd birthday quietly on Friday after being released from hospital days earlier. Happily, he has the radio on, because the CBC seemed to be playing wall-to-wall Weinzweig from morning to night.

There's an irony to that. Weinzweig, a pioneering rebel, did battle with the CBC brass a few years ago, insisting that the national broadcaster was failing to give adequate air time to Canadian composers. After months of debate, the CBC blinked and admitted he had a point. As a result, it beefed up the Canadian content on its classical programming  Now even the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is giving Weinzweig his due. After paying tribute to him a year after his 90th birthday, the TSO has just announced that Weinzweig's 1941 composition Rhapsody for Orchestra (revised two years ago) will be played on April 1, 2006 as part of its New Creations Festival. Hugo Wolff will be the conductor and the TSO's music director, Peter Oundjian, will be the host.  Lately, talking to the audience instead of merely playing music has given the TSO a cosier, warmer flavour. A delicious example came at last week's Stravinsky concert. Before the orchestra started playing The Nightingale, the audience was treated to a fascinating excerpt from an interview the CBC recorded with Stravinsky when he was in Toronto in 1962 for a concert marking his 80th birthday.




Wilson Brothers Unveil Their First Feature Film At South By Southwest Festival

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell

(Mar. 14, 2005) AUSTIN, Tex.—The Brothers Wilson had no human rivalries making The Wendell Baker Story, a loose-limbed comedy about a charismatic fraud artist that launched the 2005 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.  There was no star trip by celebrity middle sibling Owen, 36, the shaggy blond with the perpetual grin, who seems to be in every second movie these days, especially those starring Ben Stiller and Bill Murray.  There was no auteur posing by younger brother Luke, 33, an actor in his own right, who seeks triple-threat credibility by adding writing and directing to his advancing renown.  There was no look-at-me angst by oldest (and hairiest) brother Andrew, 40, the occasional actor, first-time co-director and hitherto complete mystery in stories about the talented Wilson boys from Dallas.  Andrew and Luke co-directed The Wendell Baker Story, which Luke also wrote and stars in. Owen plays a supporting role as the bad guy of the film, which was shot in Austin and vicinity.  They all got along like a house on fire, except when it got around to deciding what to do with Luke's dog, who just happens to be named Brother and who had movie-star ambitions of his own. In The Wendell Baker Story, Brother plays Sonny, the devoted pet of Luke's title character Wendell, a small-time counterfeiter with big-time ambitions, who ends up running a seniors' home.  "I didn't audition him," Luke says proudly, scratching Brother on the head as the pooch wanders into a hotel interview suite, perfectly timing his entrance. "I just gave him the job."  The brothers did audition 30 dogs before Luke pulled rank and resorted to canine nepotism. "He rammed Brother down my throat!" Andrew moans, not looking like he's joking. And here the Wilsons had just been talking about how well they get along, both as brothers and as filmmakers.  "That actually was one difference that Andrew and I did have," Luke allows, his Texas drawl seeming to hang in the room. "He was saying, `Brother is insane! He's too neurotic. He couldn't do it.'"  Brother is neurotic? Can this be the same placid mutt that we see here before us, a brown as Texas dirt, contentedly nuzzling anyone who proffers an outstretched hand and a smile? The same Brother who had padded down the red carpet at the Paramount Theater the night before, accompanying the Wilson Brothers and their photographer mom Laura to the SXSW premiere?  "I was wrong," Andrew concedes. "Brother does do a good job in the movie. But he is very neurotic. He's an odd dog."

Nepotism notwithstanding, there were practical reasons why Luke wanted to hire his dog for his first film that he both directed and wrote. The production budget was a thrifty $8 million (U.S.), scraped together from various U.S. and foreign sources.  That's not a lot of money for a production with a large cast that includes, besides Luke and Owen Wilson, such familiar faces as Will Ferrell, Kris Kristofferson, Harry Dean Stanton, Seymour Cassel, Eddie Griffin and the fast-rising Eva Mendes, who plays Wendell's erstwhile girlfriend. Shooting was scheduled for just over month, and going over budget just wasn't an option.  "We were conscious of knowing that we didn't have time to fool around, like having a trainer or a dog that wouldn't do stuff. So I just ended up saying, `Well, we might as well use Brother,'" Luke says.  He took a similar attitude toward enlisting his brothers. He's worked with both before, famously in the films Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums made by Owen's film-school pal Wes Anderson. But the three had never been this involved in a project before, and neither Luke nor Andrew had ever directed before.  Luke says he didn't feel confident enough to both star in the movie and to direct all of his scenes by himself. So he called upon Andrew to assist him.  Owen loyally signed on, even though he was being handed a rare role as a genuine bad guy, playing evil head nurse Neil King at the Shady Grove retirement hotel, where pension cheques and patients have both been going astray.  "I was surprised to see the way the movie was edited," Owen says at a press conference earlier in the day, smiling as he gets ready to spin some whimsy. "Because the way it was pitched to me was that I was kind of the hero of the piece. I was a little disappointed that I didn't really have the audience on my side."  Luke has a quick rejoinder. It's just payback for some of the roles written for him in all those Wes Anderson movies.  "He always has me kind of playing nut cases," Luke says. "Or guys who have to go into hospital for exhaustion. But I just thought Owen could do a really good and funny job with that. It's one of those characters that could have been a little too broad. But Owen did it and came up with good things."

So maybe the Wilson Brothers are more like real, squabble-prone brothers than they let on?  Owen admits "it's a very difficult position to be in" as the middle child in life and in filmmaking.  "I felt like both Luke and Andrew were kind of directing me," he says. "Although Andrew was probably talking to me more about my character. But I would notice that Luke was kind of whispering stuff to him."  Which one was the toughest director? "Andrew actually seems the most easygoing," Owen says. "Luke can be sort of tightly wound. But Andrew can snap. And he did actually, at one point. With the pressure of the movie, he could sometimes lose it a little bit."  There was more pressure than Luke expected when he began writing The Wendell Baker Story to pass the time on the set of My Dog Skip. He made that movie with producer Mark Johnson, who also produced this one, but neither the success of My Dog Skip nor the continuing popularity of the Wilson Brothers could open doors.  "Mark Johnson and I shopped the script around for over a year and met with tons of people," Luke says.  "I just never wanted to get involved with people who said, `Yeah, we'll give you some money but we want to develop it.' I was tempted, but I just never wanted to go that road. To be stuck at Miramax and have some other guy take it over and rewrite it. I thought, `I'd just rather not make it than have somebody own it.' That just made me paranoid."  The business problems aren't worked out yet. The Wendell Baker Story doesn't have a distributor yet, and when a question is asked whether they're close to finding one, Andrew quips, `Do you know anybody?'"  But the Wilson Brothers have high hopes that they'll do well on the festival circuit, helping them get a distribution deal.  At least they got the film made, and they're still talking to each other. They have to, since they all live within hailing distance of each other near Hollywood. And they've got their mom keeping a close eye on them, as she was during the press conference, beaming from the back.  "We see each other every day, so I guess we get along," Luke says. "But it's not like it's any honeymoon or anything like that."  Nobody has a bone to pick, except for Brother — Andrew bought him a steak dinner to make amends.




‘Guess Who’s’ Zoe Saldana On Race

Excerpt from

(Mar. 16, 2005) *The “Newsweek” article that examines Hollywood’s insistence on casting black leading men with non-black (typically Latina) love interests for marketing purposes is finally on newsstands this week (March 14 issue). As previously reported, writer Allison Samuels sought input on the subject from “Hitch” star Eva Mendes, who called the practice “lame” and wished “the mentality wasn’t so closed.”   Actress Zoe Saldana, a self-described black-Latina who stars in the film “Guess Who,” opening March 25, is mentioned in the “Newsweek” article along with Mendes and Jessica Alba as Latina actresses who have been cast opposite black leading men to make their films more appealing to overseas audiences, and more comfortable for folks here in the States. [Saldana starred opposite Nick Cannon in “Drumline”; Alba was the love interest of Mekhi Pfifer in “Honey.”]     While the issue of race in Hollywood is not lost on Saldana, the former ballerina prefers not to give it any power by dwelling on it.  “When I go into a room for anything, whether it’s for a meeting or for a party, I don’t think that I’m going as a black Latina, I’m going in as Zoe,” she told us last weekend in Beverly Hills. “And when I go in for an audition, I don’t care who’s up for it, they better watch their backs because I’m going to go there to give the best that I can because I believe in my world that people are cast to do a job according to their potential. That’s the way it should be. And if it’s not that way, then it should be that way.  Call me oblivious or whatever, but I’m happy in my own little box.” 

Saldana, 26, plays Ashton Kutcher’s girlfriend in “Guess Who,” a race-reversed remake of 1967’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” which starred Sidney Poitier in an interracial relationship and Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy as the parents of his white girlfriend.   While the barriers of race have loosened politically and socially since the late 60s, Hollywood has remained firm in its belief that mass audiences will not flock to see a black on black relationship, nor a black man/white woman combination.  Saldana, who has dated interracially in her personal life, says her multi-cultural upbringing makes it impossible to harp on Hollywood’s unfair leading lady constraints.  “I never grew up with any type of barriers,” says the native New Yorker. “When I would ask my mom - once you go into that phase where all you’d see is a certain type of thing on TV, or all the Barbies are blonde – when I’d ask my mom, ‘What am I?’ She would just look at me and go, ‘You’re Zoe.’ It’s not like, ‘Honey, the world will always see you as a black woman’ because that’s not true. You’re a woman.  If there is a battle that you will have to fight in life, it’s being a woman. Everything else is just a subcategory that is completely insignificant.”




Filmmakers Ink Support Of Montreal's FNC Festival

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By James Adams

(Mar. 11, 2005) Toronto -- Eight prominent Canadian film directors co-signed a letter yesterday to Telefilm Canada and its Quebec counterpart calling for the "protection" of Montreal's Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (FNC) in the face of a dispute between the long-running World Film Festival and a new, government-funded film event scheduled for this year. The letter, signed by John L'Ecuyer, Ron Mann, Bruce McDonald and others, says the plan by the new event, Festival International des Films de Montreal, to run simultaneously with the FNC this fall threatens the "continuation" of the 33-year-old FNC by "creating obvious funding issues" and "possibly alienating an already confused cinephile public." The new event is being funded in part by $1-million from Telefilm and the Quebec cultural agency SODEC that previously went to the World Film Festival. "Placing their schedule on top of Claude's [Claude Chamberlan, director of the FNC] is a very aggressive act," said L'Ecuyer of the new festival's approach. "The FNC is a cultural gem that cannot be lost."




Tarantino Wins British Film Award


(Mar. 14, 2005) LONDON (AP) - Quentin Tarantino, director of cult movies Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, was named Film Icon of the Decade at an awards ceremony in London on Sunday.  Tarantino was among a cast of Hollywood and British movie talent recognized during the Empire Awards, which were voted for by more than 12,000 readers of Empire Magazine.  Accepting his award, the 41-year-old announced plans to retire from movie directing in 15 years to become a movie theatre manager.  "The fact that England has embraced me as one of its own is really cool," Tarantino said. "I hope to give you at least 15 more years of movies, I'm not going to be this old guy that keeps cranking them out.  "My plan is to have a theatre by that time in some small town and I will be the manager - this crazy old movie guy.  "I've made enough money that nobody even needs to show up at the theatre. It's just having something to do."  Other award recipients included Matt Damon, who was voted Best Actor for his role in The Bourne Supremacy. The action thriller was also named Best Film.  Julie Delpy was awarded Best Actress for Before Sunset, Kate Winslet's performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won her the Best British Actress award.  Best British Actor went to Paddy Considine for his role in Dead Man's Shoes.  Supermodel Claudia Schiffer collected the Best British Director award on behalf of her husband Matthew Vaughn, who directed British gangster film Layer Cake.




More 'Ray' Awards

Excerpt from

(Mar. 11, 2005) *Universal Pictures' "Ray" garnered nominations for best picture and best performance for the ninth annual Prism Awards, which recognizes the accurate depiction of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and addiction in film, television, music and comic book entertainment. Joining Foxx in the film performance category are Scarlett Johansson ("A Love Song for Bobby Long"), Ashley Judd ("De-Lovely"), John Travolta ("Bobby Long") and Christopher Walken ("Around the Bend").




Filmmaker Daniel Roby Wins Claude Jutra Award

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Mar. 15, 2005) Toronto -- Quebec director Daniel Roby has won the 2005 Claude Jutra Award for his film La Peau blanche. The award, named for the legendary Quebec filmmaker and sponsored by the National Film Board, recognizes the director of the best first feature of the year. The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television made the announcement yesterday. Roby will receive the award at next Monday's Genie Awards in Toronto. Roby and La Peau blanche co-writer Joël Champetier (who wrote the original novel) are also in the running for best-adapted-screenwriting honours at the Genies. Staff







OMNI News: South Asian Edition to Showcase Community “Success Stories”

Source:  OMNI News

TORONTO (March 14, 2005) – Starting Thursday, March 17th, OMNI News: South Asian Edition will feature Success Stories, a special 13-part series that will showcase men and women from all walks of life who have distinguished themselves as "successes" in their respective fields.  One inspirational profile will be aired per week, each successive Thursday night during OMNI News: South Asian Edition, between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on OMNI.2.

“The influence of the South Asian community on Canadian society is growing by leaps and bounds,” says Renato Zane, Vice President of OMNI News. “Success Stories highlights just a few of the many positive, concrete contributions this growing community is making to the business world and to the arts in Canada.”


Guests who will be sharing their various triumphs (and challenges!) on Success Stories include:


In addition to platforming some of the more entrepreneurial members of the local South Asian community, Success Stories typifies the comprehensive reporting that has become a trademark of OMNI News: South Asian Edition.  

OMNI NEWS: South Asian Edition is a one hour LIVE English language newscast that focuses on local, national and international events of importance to Ontario’s South Asian community. Recent independent research* shows that 70% of Toronto South Asians feel that OMNI.2 is the best South Asian station, with its South Asian news programming being a deciding factor. *(LLS Market Research, July 2003.) Now celebrating its 25th year of diversity broadcasting, Rogers OMNI Television is a free over-the-air system owned by Rogers Communications under its Rogers Media: Television division. Through its operation of ethnic television stations OMNI.1 (CFMT) and OMNI.2, Rogers OMNI has significantly expanded the variety of languages, number of hours and choice of programming being offered for ethnocultural communities throughout Ontario – Canada’s most ethnically diverse province.  Combined, the Rogers OMNI stations provide programming in more than 40 languages to ethnocultural groups encompassing close to 50 communities. With the launch of OMNI.2 in September 2002, ethnic programming on OMNI.1 (CFMT) now principally serves the local European, Latino and Caribbean communities, while OMNI.2’s programming reflects the local Pan Asian and African population.




Godiva's Serves Up Flash, Flesh, Flavour

Excerpt From The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon

(Mar. 16, 2005) We begin in a taxi.  Kate (Erin Karpluk) has just arrived in drizzly Vancouver, late after a delayed flight. She's decamped from Toronto and accepted a job as manager of Godiva's, a cool bistro in the city's Yaletown district.  The Big Smoke, though, is still clouding Kate's actions. She eats in the backseat, uses her cellphone and implores the driver to step on it, encouraging some reckless motoring with a $50 bill.  And with that Godiva's (Bravo, 10 p.m. tonight) — a new six-part series — races from the starting line. Created by Julia Keatley and Michael MacLennan, the show throbs with style and confidence. It is, in a word, outstanding.  For anybody who has toiled in a busy restaurant or, perhaps, read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Godiva's will have immediate resonance.  It's all here: The jaded staffers, the leering barflies, the egomaniacal chefs, the hottie bartenders, the pretentious patrons, the put-upon waiters, the pressure-cooker ethos of an urban kitchen where drugs and dysfunction are as ubiquitous as chanterelle mushrooms and truffled tenderloin.  In the '90s, following two decades of accelerated foodie culture, chefs became local celebrities. Restaurants continue to occupy a unique place in the beating hearts of 20- and 30-something hipsters.  So Godiva's has a broad canvas upon which it can paint the dreams and aspirations of its well-drawn characters.  Kate's arrival at Godiva's — she accepted the job after the restaurateur Godiva confessed she had a dream about her — is complicated by an unexpected departure. Leave it at this: nothing good usually comes from doing lines of coke off a meat cleaver in the cold storage room. 

Exacerbating Kate's already stressful first day is the dismissive attitude of the staff. They resent the presence of an interloper, especially one from reviled Toronto.  Kate was an assistant manager at Canoe and started her career at Scaramouche. But on the west coast, this has little cachet.  "If you don't want to run us, that's fine," shrugs Ramir (Stephen Lobo), Godiva's gifted but arrogant chef. "Because we've been doing great without you."  The conflict between Hogtown and Lotus Land, between fresh-faced Kate and the dour staffers she must oversee, is set in motion. Within minutes, you'll also detect a looming friction between Kate and Ramir. Gary Harvey's direction is brilliant. MacLennan's scripts are terrific. But Godiva's is a character-driven show and from the opening minute to the closing credits, the characters jump off the screen and straight into your imagination.  Ramir is the womanizing, self-taught chef who acts as the restaurant's ringleader. Simone (Carmen Moore) is the sultry, unflappable bartender. Martin (Neil Grayston) is Ramir's sous chef, roommate and partner in scheme.  Cordell (Michael McMurtry) is the flip, smart-mouthed gay waiter. Daisy (Sonja Bennett) is the New Age pastry chef, who uses transcendental techniques to maintain her sanity as chaos swirls. Stick (Matthew Currie Holmes) is the prep chef and laid-back toker dude. Victor (Rick Tae) cleans the kitchen and has an uncanny way of silently manifesting in the strangest of situations. There's more.  T.J. (Noel Fisher) is the restaurant's incompetent busboy but, as the son of Godiva, his presence is begrudgingly tolerated. And, finally, Jenna (Leah Cairns) is a waitress who dreams of becoming a dancer.  I really hate to keep gushing but Godiva's is also beautifully shot. The exteriors capture Vancouver's grey atmospherics. The interiors telegraph a sense of Boozy Bistro at night. James Jandrisch's score punctuates the scenes with energy and panache.  The easily offended may bristle at some of the dialogue — "Stick to packing fudge, Cordell, stop molesting Daisy's mousse," "Touch my tips again and I'll wrap your scrotum over your head," "What does a dirty Hindu know about beef?"  And some of the scenes and situations (an implied three-way, nude beach, excessive coital moaning) may seem decidedly un-Canadian. But this rough-hewn edge fits with the show's gritty, honest sensibility. It never feels forced or contrived.  In the interest of balance, I tried, repeatedly, to come up with something negative but was stumped. So here's my only quibble: six episodes are not enough. To whom it may concern, I come cap in hand pleading for more.  In tonight's episode, one pompous chef describes Ramir's cooking as "assertive yet complex."  You could say the same thing about this show.




Layoffs Pending At TVOntario

Source:  Canadian Press

(Mar. 10, 2005) Toronto — TVOntario is cancelling two of its regular programs, the award-winning book series Imprint and the health series Second Opinion, resulting in the loss of between eight and 10 jobs, says the Canadian Media Guild. The provincial education broadcaster has made no official statement yet. "Management has stated that its priority this year is to generate more revenue," says Carol Burtin Fripp, the CMG's TVO branch president. "At the same time, though, our capacity to produce programs is being cut back." The union says TVO's eventual plan is to tighten its budget belt for the 2005-2006 fiscal year by cutting its work force by eight per cent, or 40 positions. Created by the Ontario government 35 years ago and chaired at present by Isabel Bassett, TVO says it has more than 100,000 viewer members.





More ‘ER’

Excerpt from

*NBC is finalizing a deal to extend “ER” through the 2007-08 season, sources tell “Hollywood Reporter.” NBC's current contract for the show ends with the upcoming 2005-06 season. The medical drama is also NBC's most-watched program overall by a considerable margin, averaging 16.5 million viewers for the season to date.

Eve to play lesbian

Excerpt from

*Rapper/actress Eve is in talks to play an HIV-positive lesbian in Showtime’s “Getting Unstuck,” a biopic of talk show producer Conscious, based on her autobiography of the same name. Conscious (real name Merle Soden) was molested as a child, contracted HIV from another woman and lived on the streets before turning her life around and becoming a successful TV producer. Conscious produced Queen Latifah’s short-lived talk show.







Wicked Composer Is Bitter But Better

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Simon Houpt

(Mar. 12, 2005) NEW YORK -- If there's one man in the world who felt Martin Scorsese's pain when the director lost yet another bid for an Oscar two weeks ago, it's probably Stephen Schwartz. Six times now, Schwartz has been a bridesmaid at the Tony Awards, nominated for his work on Broadway musicals during a celebrated composing career that has spanned more than 30 years, but never a bride. His most recent nomination came for Wicked, the popular big-budget musical that begins a North American road trip with a stop in Toronto, opening March 20. But last June, Schwartz had to sit in Radio City Music Hall and watch as the cheeky underdog Avenue Q stunned the audience by taking home the night's major awards, including the trophy for best musical and best original score, for which he'd been nominated. "That was a big deal," Schwartz acknowledges now with a pained look, seated at a round glass table in the dining room of the two-bedroom Hell's Kitchen apartment he uses as his base in New York. "But in retrospect I'm glad about it because it completely cured me entirely of ever thinking about these things or dealing with them again. People kept saying to me this year, 'Were the Grammys fun?' [Wicked beat Avenue Q at last month's awards for Best Musical Show Album.] And I was like, I don't know, because I wasn't there, because I'm never going to another awards show as long as I live. That's it."

It wasn't just Tonys night that hurt. The span of time between the nominations and the awards, when the talent involved in the shows goes out and presses the flesh with Tony voters, "was one of the most unpleasant six weeks of my life. It was really horrible. You know, most of these people don't like me, and there they are smiling their little fake smiles at me, and I'm not wild about a lot of them, either. It was just six weeks of fraudulence and pandering. And I just thought: I can never ever be part of something like this again. "I'm extremely bitter about it," he adds, with a curdled purr. "I'm happy to talk about it, I took it extremely personally, I consider it a personal repudiation. I'm very, very bitter and I expect to be bitter about it for the rest of my life." Schwartz pauses, then adds, tongue-in-cheek, "he said cheerfully. "I'm not a darling of the New York theatre establishment -- the critics, the cognoscenti, the tastemakers within this little island -- and I never have been, and what I realized last year -- and it was a very emotionally positive realization for me -- was that I was never going to be that." One of the strange things here is that the nasty backbiting politics that Schwartz is talking about are usually associated with Hollywood, but he worked there for much of the eighties and nineties on scores for TV and feature films like Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, and The Prince of Egypt, and he feels quite warm toward the place. Then again, he has won three Oscars, so why shouldn't he feel warm toward the place?

But even that rosy glow of success comes with some lessons attached. In the corner of Schwartz's living room, on the top shelf of a glass awards case, sits one of his Oscars, and if you look closely, you can see the statuette has lost some of its lustre. Literally. The thin gold leaf has peeled away from the little man's calf, exposing a dull gunmetal grey underneath. "I just feel that's the perfect metaphor, for awards and for glamour in general," says Schwartz, 57, whose physical appearance and manner of dress proclaims no acute interest in personal vanity or glamour. "The shiny stuff is incredibly thin veneer and then under it is this sort of heavy, lumpen, leadish kind of thing." But then, we all know surfaces can be misleading, a folk truth that Wicked enjoys playing up. Based on a 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, the show offers a revisionist take on The Wizard of Oz by suggesting that the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch of the North may not, in fact, have been as purely evil or good characters as we were led to believe in both L. Frank Baum's story and the 1939 Technicolor film. "I am very attracted to what I would call Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ideas: something that takes a familiar story that is more or less part of our culture, and suddenly spins it and looks at it from another point of view," says Schwartz. His career is filled with examples of such spins: the classic Godspell, which presents a modern-day version of the gospels; Children of Eden, another off-kilter look at the Bible (in this case, the first half of the Book of Genesis); the TV movie Geppetto, which presents the Pinocchio story from the point of view of someone learning to be a father. Even Pippin, his first Broadway hit, gives the medieval era a modern attitude. But it was more than the opportunity to give a postmodern wink to Dorothy that attracted Schwartz. There were the politics of the piece. "Americans are extremely uncomfortable with ambiguity," he notes. "They just want things to be simple. You hear over and over again in terms of political leadership: praise of clarity, simple thinking. And that's been increasingly true in America, certainly since the eighties, and I'm not sure that's really a good thing."

The Wicked Witch, here named Elphaba (a name created from the initials of L. Frank Baum), is a green-skinned freak of nature with magic powers who becomes a convenient scapegoat for a morally vacillating Wizard needing to strengthen his hold over the gullible people of Oz. The fact that the politics of Wicked happen to reflect the paranoid state of present-day America is an unhappy accident. When Schwartz dreamed up the show in late 1996 and began a campaign to woo the rights for the book away from Universal Studios, which was trying to develop it into a non-musical feature film with Demi Moore's company (oh, the horror!), he saw it more as a metaphor for Nazi Germany. (There is a subplot about the dehumanization, if you will, of the animals in Oz: Once equal members of society, they are chained up and lose the ability to speak.) But musicals take a long time to develop, and by the time the show opened on Broadway in October, 2003, there was no longer a need to reach back in time to find parallels. But focusing on the politics would, ultimately, do the show a disservice, because it's really more about the relationship between the two witches: one perky blonde adored by all, one green outcast vilified by forces beyond her control. That's the part of the story pulling in young women and helping the show sell out the Gershwin Theatre every night despite its mediocre critical reception. "It's not such an amazingly original approach," admits Schwartz. "Many writers are attracted to stories of people who feel themselves estranged from the mainstream, for one reason or another, but it's always attracted me." For a ready example, he points to a poster for Hunchback of Notre Dame. "I think one of the elements of the popular success of Wicked is that there's a little bit of that green girl in everybody." Which is a truth that any almost-Tony-winner can surely understand.




 Late Tom Patterson Remembered

Source: - By NOEL GALLAGHER -- London Free Press

(Mar. 14, 2005) STRATFORD -- Joyful recollections shared the stage with tearful, dramatic moments at Stratford Festival's memorial for its founder, Tom Patterson. "He changed the cultural landscape of this country and was a man who made Canada a better place to be," the festival's artistic director, Richard Monette, told the audience of about 900 at yesterday afternoon's service in the Festival Theatre.  Patterson, a Stratford native, died at 84 in Toronto Feb. 23, after a long battle with illness.  "Tom really did this for the town, the people of the town, to save his town," said Monette, who recounted how Patterson's "cockamamie dream" became a reality.  In 1951, Patterson, a 30-year-old journalist and Second World War veteran, began to pursue his long-held vision of establishing a theatre festival in Stratford that would present the classic works of William Shakespeare.  To research his project, he garnered a $125 grant from Stratford's city council -- "a shrewd investment," Monette quipped -- and travelled to New York in a futile attempt to meet the great British actor Laurence Olivier. He had better luck recruiting artistic director Tyrone Guthrie.  On July 13, 1953, the Stratford Festival premiered with a production of Richard III.  The play, starring famous British actor Alec Guinness, was staged in a tent pitched at the site of the present-day Festival Theatre.

From that modest start, noted the festival board's chairperson, Tom Orr, the stage company grew to become North America's largest classical repertory theatre with four stages, 1,000 employees and a $52-million operating budget.  It generates more than $145 million in annual revenue for the festival and the local economy.  "Tom invented the festival, but he invented all of us as well. He invented us actors and the audience," actor Christopher Plummer said in a poignant salute to "that tenacious little firebrand and maker of miracles."  "Every time I walk onto this stage, every board I tread on cries out, 'Tom Patterson,' " Plummer said.  "Every word I said in a play was courtesy of Tom Patterson and most of the laughter and greatest times I had here were in the company of Tom Patterson."  Tim Patterson remembered his father as a master storyteller, a keen gardener and an accomplished chef.  "He was an eternal optimist who always saw the bright side of life," he said.

At a reception in the Festival Theatre's lobby, Tim Patterson had no doubt how his famous parent would have reacted to the memorial service: "He'd have been delighted and loved every minute of it."  Patterson was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1967 and, 10 years later, was raised to the level of officer. In 1991, the festival renamed its third stage the Tom Patterson Theatre.  "But the Stratford Festival itself remains a living gift to Tom's memory," said Monette, before joining Plummer and actor Martha Henry to toast a metallic bust of Patterson near the theatre's entrance.  "Without Tom, this festival wouldn't exist, I would never have come to Stratford and none of us would be in this place today," said Henry, a former artistic director of London's Grand Theatre.  She added Patterson's naiveté about theatre allowed him to ignore obstacles.  "He had this kind of innocence about him and because of it there were no boundaries put on what he could do."




Lord Of The Rings Musical To Premiere In Toronto

Associated Press

(Mar. 15, 2005) London — A much-anticipated musical based on The Lord of the Rings will have its world premiere in Toronto next year, the show's producers announced Tuesday. The $22-million show will open in March 2006 at the Princess of Wales Theatre with a largely Canadian cast, producer Kevin Wallace said. Wallace had hoped to open the show in London in the fall, but no theatre large enough to accommodate the technically complex production was available. The musical is now slated to open in London in autumn 2006. Published 50 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien's mystical adventure trilogy has been discovered by a new generation through Peter Jackson's Academy Award-winning trio of films, which have grossed more than $3 billion around the world.

The three-hour stage adaptation will feature book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna (Lautrec, Maddie) and Matthew Warchus (Tony nominated director of Art and True West), and music by A.R. Rahman (Bombay Dreams) and Finnish group Varttina with Christopher Nightingale. Warchus said the show, which has a cast of 50, would combine words, music, physical theatre and spectacle to create a production in which the audience is "actually plunged into the events as they happen." "We have not attempted to pull the novel towards the standard conventions of musical theatre, but rather to expand those conventions so that they will accommodate Tolkien's material," he said.




Will T.O. land Rings musical?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Michael Posner, With a report from James Adams

(Mar. 15, 2005) Toronto's Mirvish organization may be on the brink of winning rights to a $30-million (U.S.) version of The Lord of the Rings -- the most expensive musical in stage history. If negotiations succeed, it would open next March at Toronto's Mirvish-owned Princess of Wales Theatre for an indefinite run. Today, impresario David Mirvish is said to be huddling with the show's lead producer, London's Kevin Wallace, hoping to hammer out final details of a production agreement. Wallace arrived last night from London. While some sources in the theatre community say it's a done deal, others insist that no contracts have been signed. Mirvish himself declined to comment. If an agreement is struck, a musical Rings could be expected to deliver a positive economic jolt to the city's economy -- still not fully recovered from the SARS epidemic scare of 2003 and the subsequent decline of U.S. tourism. Where Wallace and co-producer Sol Zaentz would choose to open the show, in development for more than two years, has been a subject of intense speculation for months. They had originally favoured London, where the show was created, but have apparently had trouble finding a theatre that was both available and large enough to meet its physical demands.

The two or three West End theatres with backstage dimensions sufficient to accommodate The Lord of the Rings, the Musical, are now occupied by long-running hits. And these venues are owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, where Wallace worked for seven years. It's presumably in no hurry to lease space to a rival. Wallace's problem is that the musical Rings has been finished and ready to be cast and mounted for some time. Rather than wait indefinitely for a London theatre to come open, he may have finally decided to opt for Toronto. Portions of the show, which involves 50 performers, complex hydraulics-operated sets and elaborate battle scenes, were workshopped here for Mirvish executives last year; afterward, David Mirvish immediately began negotiations to co-produce its opening run in Toronto.  The production, directed by London's Matthew Warchus, condenses J. R. R. Tolkien's epic trilogy into a three-act, three-hour-and-30-minute extravaganza. It was written by A. R. Rahman, the Indian composer who scored Bombay Dreams. Rahman collaborated with Varttina, a Finnish folk ensemble. The stage rights to the property were held by Zaentz, who authorized Wallace to create a musical version. The three films of Frodo's journey through Middle-Earth won 11 Oscars and earned more than $16-billion at the box office.







Brothers Seek Hoops Glory North, South Of The Border

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Glen Colbourn, Sports Reporter; Jana Chytilova/Cp File Photo

(Mar. 16, 2005) The long road to March Madness begins in Odessa, an eastern Ontario hamlet near Kingston that boasts one restaurant, two gas stations, a Royal Bank and a hairdresser.  "We all go to the same (stylist)," laughs Sheri Doornekamp. If you want to see Odessa, she says, "you don't want to blink."  Oddly, the not-quite-as-long road to Canada's men's university basketball championship begins in the identical spot.  Same restaurant. Same gas stations. Same farm driveway with the two basketball hoops, one attached to a steel pole, the other to an adjustable arm that Nate and Aaron Doornekamp would lower so they could practise slam dunks while not yet in high school.  Odessa, population 1,150, boasts two brothers chasing two national basketball titles in different countries at the same time and for the same mantelpiece.  "It's very exciting. It's pretty lucky," mom Sheri says from the family home.

Nate Doornekamp, 22, is the starting centre for the Boston College Eagles, a No.4 seed at the NCAA championship that gets under way tomorrow and winds up April 4 in St. Louis.

Aaron Doornekamp, 19, is a top forward for the Carleton Ravens, the No.1 seed in this weekend's CIS championship in Halifax.

"My dad jokes around about it and says we're going to have two national champions and stuff like that," Aaron says from his residence room in Ottawa. "But it's not like it's a dinner-time conversation."  That's partly because basketball success is old hat for the Doornekamps, who are part of one of Canada's leading basketball families.  Sheri played for Queen's University, as did her brothers Rob and Dave Smart. Dave is now the head coach at Carleton; Rob is an assistant coach at Queen's.  Nate and Aaron's older brother and sister both played university basketball (Ben for Carleton and Queen's, Amy for the University of P.E.I.), while their father Hank Doornekamp, who stands 6-foot-5, played in high school.  The net result was a crucible of basketball excellence in Odessa and environs.  "It always seemed like you were getting coached," Nate says of growing up. "Sometimes it got on your nerves, but in the end it helped us. It's probably the reason we are where we are now."  Nate and Aaron's journey to simultaneous national championship tournaments began in the driveway of the Doornekamp's eight-hectare hobby farm.  "The three boys played together a lot, all the time," says Sheri, who helps run the family's general contracting business. "They always had a ball in their hands."  Aaron remembers the driveway games, but not entirely fondly. Nate, now 7 feet tall and 255 pounds, showed no mercy. "Ben and Nate had more evenly matched battles when it turned into a foulfest. ... I would just end up getting tossed somewhere."  "Aaron was always the rug rat," Nate says from Cleveland, where the Eagles play No.13 Pennsylvania tomorrow afternoon. "He got kind of beat up on."  The home school of hard knocks paid off. Aaron, now 6-foot-7 but still slight at 200 pounds, leads Carleton in rebounding as a hard-nosed freshman. He will be a key player when the Ravens play their first game Friday night against the winner of tomorrow's Brandon-Ottawa game.  The brotherly battles extended into this year, when Carleton and Boston College played an exhibition game. The Eagles won, with Nate blocking a three-point shot attempt by Aaron.

"He dribbles once, looks me in the eye and thinks he's pulling a three in my face. Come on. Things haven't changed. That still doesn't fly."  The brothers' chase for dual national championships is not unprecedented. In 1996, Greg Newton of Niagara Falls, Ont., helped power Duke in the NCAA tournament, while brother Tom played for McMaster in the Canadian university championships. Neither won a title.  The Doornekamps may have better luck.  Carleton, which has won 75 consecutive CIS games, is heavily favoured to win its third straight Canadian title.  Boston College (24-4) was considered a top NCAA contender until a late-season swoon, including a 78-72 loss to West Virginia in the quarterfinals of the Big East tourney.  However, there is a downside to the family's basketball achievements. Last Wednesday, mom and dad drove to New York City to watch Nate in the Big East tournament. At 5:30 Saturday morning, they drove from New York to St. Catharines to watch Aaron in the OUA final, arriving in time to hear the national anthem.  Tomorrow, they'll drive two hours to Syracuse to catch a flight to Cleveland to watch Boston College.  They fly back the same day, then drive to Ottawa on Friday to catch a flight to Halifax for the CIS championships.  If Nate and the Eagles win their first two games, it means flying to Chicago for the Sweet 16.  "We're trying our hardest to be everywhere at once," says Sheri.  "We've just decided that we'll spend six months paying off our Visa.  "We'll regret it if we don't."






Engel's Triumph Writ Large

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Rebecca Caldwell

(Mar. 10, 2005) A few years after a stroke left him unable to read, the author wins the $20,000 Matt Cohen Award, Rebecca Caldwell reports.  It's turning into a triumphant year for Howard Engel. Not only has the veteran Toronto author just released his 11th Benny Cooperman crime novel, Memory Book, nearly four years after the stroke that left him unable to read, he's also just been named the recipient of a prestigious prize for lifetime achievement, the $20,000 Matt Cohen Award. "I'm absolutely delighted to have been recognized, particularly by an outfit that is made up largely of writers. That's the great treat," Engel said in a telephone interview prior to yesterday's Writers' Trust of Canada's ceremony for its annual Great Literary Awards. "The timing couldn't be better." Born in 1931, Engel was a producer at CBC Radio for many years before turning to writing, but his second career has left an indelible mark on the country's mystery fiction. He is often credited with creating the first truly Canadian detective, the chopped-egg-sandwich-eating, Grantham, Ont.-based gumshoe Cooperman, who first appeared in 1980 in The Suicide Murders. Engel also was a founder of the authors' association Crime Writers of Canada in the mid-eighties.

In 2001 came the stroke, resulting in a rare condition, alexia sine agraphia, which stripped him of his ability to read -- a serious hardship for most people, devastating for someone who makes a living as a writer. Engel was no prisoner of print, however; he could still write and had no plans of stopping. "I'm hardwired to writing; it's too late for me to learn new tricks," he said. In the past few years he's diligently retrained himself to read to about a Grade 3 level, but he still has difficulty remembering words, and identifying numbers also remains a problem. With the help of an assistant to edit out the repetition and standard word-processing software that can perform text searches for paragraphs and words, he produced Memory Book, which sees Cooperman struggling to regain his memory after suffering a head injury. He has another Cooperman novel in the works and plans to write a memoir. In some ways, Engel says wryly, the alexia has "sorted out some priorities" in his life, particularly when it comes to the Matt Cohen Award. "I can remember Matt Cohen, who was a neighbour down the street and who I used to see in the Harbord Bakery, and I can remember the people who have given me the award, and my agent and my publishers, but I have a hard time remembering how much it's for."  This is the fourth year of the Great Literary Awards, one of the richest nights in Canadian literature, with prize money totalling $133,000. Other awards handed out at last night's ceremony at Toronto's Jane Mallett Theatre included the $15,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, given to Alice Munro for Runaway, which won the Giller Prize last November; the $15,000 Pearson Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize, granted to Elaine Dewar for The Second Tree: Of Clones, Chimeras and Quests for Immortality; the $10,000 Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, awarded to Peter C. Newman for his own life story, Here Be Dragons: Telling Tales of People, Passion and Power; The Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, which bestowed $10,000 to Devin Krukoff for his short story, The Last Spark, and $2,000 to Grain Magazine, where the piece first appeared. Other overall achievement awards, each having a cash prize of $15,000, include The Marian Engel Award, given to writer and playwright Dianne Warren (Bad Luck Dog); The Timothy Findley Award, given to writer David Adams Richards (Mercy Among the Children, The Bay of Love and Sorrows); and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature, given to author Deborah Ellis (The Breadwinner trilogy, The Heaven Shop).




Brenda Stone Browder Uplifts The Down Low

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

Brenda Stone Browder has been to hell and back.   And just like the phoenix, she has risen from the ashes and is soaring to new heights.   As the ex-wife of “Down Low King” J.L. King, the author of last year’s best-selling memoir “Living On The Down Low: A Journey Into The Lives of “Straight” Black Men Who Sleep With Men,” Mrs. Browder has been in a whirlwind with all of the attention that the sensational title has brought on, since last spring.     The term “down-low” has become a household expression.  From Oprah Winfrey’s much-buzzed about show on the subject, to “Will & Grace” adding it into a hip, match-making storyline, the “down-low” phenomenon has morphed into a cottage industry. A random search on any e-commerce book website will bring up countless recently published books on the theme.  And the subject has become common place on shock jock radio.   Apparently, Mr. King --who wrote so lovingly about his ex-wife (who caught him the act)—neglected to discuss the book or give her a copy of the book before he became a quasi-celebrity.    Now she’s got a book out. And a publicist.  “Years of deception had led to him being found out and told to leave his home and family. His reward for lying, putting Brenda’s life at risk, and breaking his vows was to become a media darling and the author of a six-month ‘New York Times’ bestseller.”  That’s what piqued our interests in a pitch letter that her publicist sent over a few weeks ago.

Whoa! Mrs. Browder, a well respected minister in Springfield, Ohio, has penned her own tome – titled “On The Up And Up: A Survival Guide For Women Living With Men On The Down Low” (Dafina Publishing, $21)-- and is ready to share her side of this shocking story.   “Writing [this book] is apart of the call on my life to share my story with other women who have experienced a similar situation in their lives,” Mrs. Browder told “The RU Report” yesterday. “This message goes out to all women to empower them with knowledge of the ‘down low’ lifestyle.”   Mrs. Browder, who is now happily married to another man whom she shares a daughter with, is “pouring the tea” in her own special way, on a positive note -- in a prose that’s conversational, upfront, candid and motivational catering to a female demographic.   “Sharing my experience with women will enable them to be armed with knowledge and higher expectations. Expectations that their spouse or significant other will love, and respect them enough to avoid hurting them, or putting their lives in jeopardy, by exposing them to a disease. Women need to be armed with the truth. Women need to know that they are not alone, and that it is not their fault. If only one person avoids this  life threatening disease (HIV/AIDS) the message has been received, and the book has achieved its' goal. Writing and sharing my story may seem self-serving, but I know that this is bigger than me.”   Co-written with best-selling biographical powerhouse Karen Hunter, an esteemed Pulitzer Prize winner and co-author of books by Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Wendy Williams, Mr. King and Mason Betha, “On The Up And Up” tells how Mrs. Browder moved forward in her life, with the power of pardoning.   “Forgiveness is powerful,” she stated. “When you forgive someone who has wronged you, your power is restored. You give your power away when you hold animosity and un-forgiveness. It is a breeding ground for strife and illness”.

Just like a Mortal Christian involved in the clergy, always willing to turn the other cheek.  Okay.  But why do grown people continue to do the things they do, knowing that it will hurt others they supposedly love?   “Human nature,” she replied to the out-loud thoughts. “We want to be selfish and satisfy the flesh. It seems to be the easy road but it is not. Some of us are so self-centered. We think it is ‘all about me.’ We do not live alone in this world. The choices that we make do affect others.”   This down-low diva is far from being low-down.   “God is using me as an example to show people that even though we may have trials and may have difficult lives we can get through. I have been shown that we are to take our test and use it as out testimony to help others.”   Mrs. Browder shared, what she thought, was  a happy home, a loving marriage and two lovely children with Mr. King before finding out that he was having sexual relations with other men. The children were the truest things the marriage produced. She revealed to us that upon her discovery, she felt her life was “destroyed.”  Her close family bond –even with her then-in-laws—helped her through the most trying of times.  And of course, her faith. “I found comfort in prayer and direction,” she added.   Mrs. Browder isn’t the pious churchgoing type that doesn’t practice what she preaches. Just last night before our final interview, she ran into one of the church-going men who had sex with her husband, while at the neighborhood grocery store.  “I hadn't seen him since our encounter at church that is detailed in my book,” she confided, “We embraced each other. It felt good to see him and not have those old feelings of animosity. If I were not grounded in my faith this couldn't have happened.”   That’s the power of the light.  For real!     Shoot, when people do me dirty, I don’t hate them – I just do everything in my power to steer clear of them.  For good!

She agreed that women often succumb to the down low life style because they feed into the stereotypical image of what male masculinity is. Mrs. Browder also admitted that it was difficult for her to fully comment because “Personally I don't have a stereotyped perception of male masculinity. I was shown what a man is by example, my father and brothers. Male masculinity and sexual preferences are separate in my view.”
With a tour in the works with Mr. King (whom she admitted to being close friends with), and a forthcoming spread in the May edition of “Essence” magazine alongside an appearance on “The Montell Williams Show,” Mrs. Browder’s message can’t help but be heard.  And she wouldn’t prefer it any other way.    “People are fascinated because someone has the nerve to tell their ‘business,’” she continued. “My mother always told me ‘don't tell all of your business.’ This has been going on forever, it is not new and there are women out there who have also been silently suffering for years. Some women who knew, and some who are making that admission for the first time that they too are living with a man who has been living a lie. The broken silence has freed people.”   Indeed. “I have been fortunate to have numerous forums to present the message. I will continue to speak out about the need for women to be protected and empowered with knowledge and truth,” she concluded.   Mrs. Browder encourages people to reach out to her and share their stories:




Live Life Like It's Golden

Excerpt from - — Tamara Jeffries (Photo:  Helen D'Souza)

You want the good life. So you’re manic every day, juggling meetings, E-mails and voice mails, working your cell phone and your PDA. Lunch hour means errands. After work, you rush home to prepare microwaved dinners for family members who eat in front of separate satellite-delivered television programs. Even after a weekend full of chores, your to-do list is still longer than the “I Have a Dream” speech. At night, just before you drop off to sleep, you wonder: Why am I working so hard? What am I rushing toward? Does anything I do really matter? And as you fall asleep, you have a dream of a life that seems more fulfilling—not just a good life in the material sense, but one with purpose.  You are not alone. “People are more interested in purpose now because without it the acquisition of things and the accomplishment of feats have no meaning,” says author and motivational speaker Iyanla Vanzant. “People are doing, getting and accomplishing things, and they’re still feeling empty.” Purpose is that internal drive that gives meaning to our daily activities, she says. It lightens the load of our hectic schedules, stressful jobs and endless to-do lists and makes our life and work feel worthwhile.  But what is your purpose—and how do you identify it? We asked these questions and more of Vanzant and four other experts, who say the path is different for everyone. And they all also agreed on this: Your purpose is God-given and involves using your talents to serve others. Living life like it’s golden, as singer Jill Scott would say, is to “do unto others” what brings you joy. Our experts have learned valuable lessons on their own spiritual journeys. Through their coaching of others they’ve discovered what works. These pages offer guidance for getting on the path to your own ultimate divine quest.  “If you want to know your purpose, ask God.”

IYANLA VANZANT Inspirational speaker, life coach on NBC-TV’s Starting Over, and Maryland-based author of best-selling self-help books, including One Day My Soul Just Opened Up (Fireside) We all have the same basic need: to feel loved, needed and valued. Only purpose can fill those needs. And we all have the same purpose: to serve the Creator and to offer and receive love by doing what brings us joy.  Purpose is about how you serve God, not how you pay rent. Your purpose is not synonymous with your job, but living with purpose can turn your job into a divine activity. To find purpose in your work, understand the higher principle behind what you do. A telephone operator is not just a telephone operator; she’s a person who supports communication between people.  I would say that 85 or 90 percent of people are on purpose, but they’re looking for more money, glory, reward and recognition. We look at people like Oprah Winfrey or Michael Jordan, and we want to be like them. But they followed their unique path, and what they do may not be our purpose.  If you pay attention, how you’re supposed to live will unfold. That’s where prayer and meditation come in.

I know my purpose: I’m a teacher. Often your own issues will lead you to your purpose. I need empowerment—self-love, self-value, self-worth. So as I go about learning how to achieve that for myself, I teach it to others.  If you want to know the purpose of a thing, ask the Maker. Every manufacturer creates a thing and includes instructions for it. The first chapter of James says, if you want wisdom to know your purpose, ask God and He will surely give it to you. How are you going to get on target if you don’t have a relationship with your manufacturer?  To read the entire article “Live Life Like It’s Golden,” pick up the April issue of ESSENCE.




Evoking N.Y.'s Terrible Day

Excerpt From The Toronto Star - William Littler

(Mar. 16, 2005) The world changed for New Yorkers following the attack on the World Trade Centre, among them a choreographer of talent and imagination named Stephen Petronio, judging by the provocative trilogy of works brought to the stage of Harbourfront Centre's Premiere Dance Theatre last night by his nine-dancer company.  Now near the close of its 20th anniversary season, the company was making its belated local debut, although Petronio himself was previously known to some local dance aficionados as the first male member of another New York-based ensemble, the Trisha Brown Company.  Like Brown, he regards the whole body as his kinetic province, initiating movement phrases from various anatomical points, not just the limbs, but unlike her cool, rhythmic, minimalist patterns, he offered highly charged, often manic movement, tinged with a sense of destruction and despair.  When these three works, two dating from 2002 and the third from 2003, were presented collectively at New York's Joyce Theatre last March they were billed as The Gotham Suite, and although no such designation appeared on last night's program, a post-apocalyptic quality identifiable with the events of 9/11 in Lower Manhattan was easily read into them.  The first, Broken Man, took the form of a solo for the bald-headed Petronio himself. Standing erect, he soon seemed to lose some of his self-confidence and body control. His limbs began to bend, his torso twisted. His jacket hung from half of his body. Was he victim or agonized survivor? Perhaps both.

City of Twist drew on seven dancers, the men dressed in backwards shirts and white cotton briefs, the women in black, glitter-speckled slip-dresses. Dancing to the music of Laurie Anderson, they resembled an energized, on-the-edge version of Petronio's solo figure, their bodies often moving as collections of seemingly uncoordinated parts, with limbs flailing through the air, faces staring into the distance.  The choreography tended to ramble, dependent much of the time on the dancers' intensity to carry the viewer's interest forward, but it culminated in a fascinatingly protracted, occasionally strobe-lit solo for Ashleigh Leite, dressed in tatters and moving with the multi-directional force of an explosion.  What enormous flexibility of torso and limbs such a solo requires! Add to this the emotional overlay Petronio asks of his dancer and you begin to appreciate how fully he engages the human being in all her capacities.  The program reached its climax in a full-company performance of The Island of Misfit Toys, a post-apocalyptic vision of damaged survivors, imagined by the choreographer as he sits, cigarette in hand, with his back to the audience, on a stage framed by two gigantic baby dolls designed by Cindy Sherman, one of them with its face hollowed out.  It is a nightmare world of doll-people come to life that he places before us, before being carried offstage. The voice of William Dafoe narrates an edited version of Poe's poem The Raven. Music by Lou Reed mixes with the sounds of the McGarrigle Sisters and Velvet Underground. Dancers move in pajamas and little girl dresses with a wounded virtuosity.

And in the background stands a totem pole of huge baby faces, leering as if from some horror movie starring the lethal doll Chucky. If this is what New York may have become, a place where order has broken down, emotions are dislocated and energy runs rampant, terrorism has taken a terrific toll.  On the other hand, nothing in the program mandated such an interpretation. The Island of Misfit Toys may only be a dream of the future, brought on by the events of the recent past, a dream made all the more vivid by the Petronio company's flat-out dancing.  Performances continue through Saturday.




Beyonce’s Clothing Line Pacts With G-III

Excerpt from

(Mar. 11, 2005) *Beyonce and her mama Tina Knowles announce that their clothing line, The House of Dereon, has signed a licensing agreement with G-III Apparel Group, Ltd. to collaborate on the design, marketing and distribution of an exclusive comprehensive collection of outerwear, due to launch in time for the holiday season.  "We want to launch an extraordinary outerwear collection for the Holiday season ... the perfect coat to complement our fashion line," Beyonce said in a statement.    Tina Knowles added, "Beyonce and I are so thrilled to add G-III to the House of Dereon team! My daughter and I are enjoying every moment as we put together what we hope will be a truly incredible collection for the young women's contemporary fashion market."




Basquiat Celebrated In Brooklyn

Excerpt from

(Mar. 14, 2005) *Internationally renowned artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is being honoured in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York.  His work is the subject of a new exhibition “Basquiat,” which opened Friday at the Brooklyn Museum and runs through June 5 before traveling to Los Angeles and Houston.  Born in 1960 to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents, Basquiat became the darling of the art world, earning critical praise for his strong use of colour and composition, as well as his willingness to infuse social commentary into his pieces. Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at 27.   "He isn't getting the type of respect he deserves in art history," said Marc Mayer, project director for the show, which features over 100 of the artist's paintings and drawings.  At age six, Basquiat became a junior member of the Brooklyn Museum. In his teens, he took up the pseudonym SAMO and made his graffiti mark around Lower Manhattan, part of the burgeoning rise of hip-hop expressionism on the streets of New York in the 1970s. By the time he was 20, he had moved on to paper and canvas. “Some of his paintings are scary, they're so good,” Mayer told AP. “They sort of trick you into feeling that they're really innocent. The more you look at them, the more you realize they're a terrible indictment of Western civilization.”




Gizoogle Refuses To Let ‘Izzle’ Die

Excerpt from

(Mar. 14, 2005) *Snoop Dogg’s slang of choice is overused for laughs in a new search engine parody,, reports the “Washington Post.”  The Web site, like Google, is a search engine that puts your results in izzle-speak.  For example, enter "Vice President Dick Cheney" in the search field and it turns up "Vizzy President Dizzle Cheney." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is "Condoleezza Rizzle."  It then supplies the same information on the subjects as Google does -- except it's izzle-filled and drenched in obscenities.     “I started the site a few weeks ago,” 28-year-old Web designer John Beatty tells the “Washington Post.” “I was talking to my buddy on AOL Instant Messenger and he always talks in that izzle-speak, and I do it to my wife all the time and she hates it. I was thinking that it might be cool if there was a site that searched and all of the answers came up in that format.” The Gizoogle site copies Google's multicoloured lettering, but the O's in Gizoogle are filled with chromed-out wheel rims. "When I first put the site up, I had these crappy gold spoke rims on there and then my friend was like, you have got to get some spinners on there," Beatty told the newspaper. Beatty wasn’t the first one to blast izzle into cyberspace. Snoop Dogg has his own version on his Web site,  "After I put the site up, someone called me and told about Snoop's thing," Beatty says.




Ashanti’s Shampoo

Excerpt from

(Mar. 16, 2005)  *Ashanti faced a gaggle of reporters in Toronto Tuesday to promote her various projects, among them, the Herbal Essence gig that features a shameless cross-promotion of the shampoo product and her video for “Only U” (which features a bottle of the stuff in a shower scene). The 24-year-old said there’s no shame in the symbiotic relationship. "It made sense. It was a shower scene. You know, you have shampoo and conditioner in the shower . . . It's the best of both worlds," she said. "When we first had the meeting and I got the whole deal [with Herbal Essences] . . . my video was coming out right after, so it made sense."







Exercise Smarter, Not Harder

By Michael Stefano, Special for eFitness

(Mar. 14, 2005) If I were to ask the average Jane or Joe, whether they'd rather work out six days a week for two hours each day, or four or five times per week for 30 minutes, most would jump on the second choice.  Unfortunately, most beginners make the mistake of thinking more is better. They dive in head first, but hit a brick wall after a few weeks. Before you pick up your first dumbbell, you should pause and reflect upon what is truly motivating you to get started.  A wise man once said, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Take a close look at your immediate and long-range goals, likes, dislikes, limitations, time and budget constraints, as well as exercise/health history.  If necessary, get clearance from your physician, who can also advise you on what type of exercise he or she feels would be best for you. Following my six-step formula below will help you organize the process, and match you more closely with the right program. Follow the simple assignment with each step.

Mike's 6-Step Fitness Formula


Being clear about what you want helps you get it. Clearly established goals are the earmark of any successful endeavor. For example, if weight loss is your ultimate goal, know how much weight and how many inches you’d like to lose.


Write down two or three simple, but specific goals.


Use, but don't abuse your strengths. Ultimately select exercise that utilize your current abilities to overcome weakness in other areas. For example, if you have strong legs with no lower body problems, but somewhat low cardiovascular capacity, use brisk walking or jogging to enhance heart and lung health.


List any areas where you have adequate or greater abilities.


If you can find an activity you like, and make it the bulk of your program, you've overcome the first obstacle, boredom. On the other hand, if you despise treadmill walking, but based on somebody else's advice, you’re putting in four or five painful hours a week, your program is doomed. You might possibly prefer outdoor walking, circuit training, or 18 holes of golf. You make the choice.


List at least three things you like to do that involve physical activity.


God created us all very differently. Respect your individual limitations as much as you rely on your strengths. Don't exacerbate a current condition. Work around problems. It may take more time or a greater effort, but at least you’ll reach the finish line.


Clearly define, and make sure you're completely aware of, any physical limitations, illness, injury or weakness. Get a check-up before you start.


Here's where it gets tricky. Thirty minutes, three to five times each week somehow sounds like nothing initially, but eventually becomes harder and harder to block out of every week. If you can't get in all 30 minutes, have a five or ten-minute backup plan that can hold you over to your next full workout.


Be honest with your available time. Take a close look at your day, and realistically set aside the required time you'll need.


Whether it's $25 dumbbells, or a $2,500 health club, if used properly, most all exercise equipment has a positive effect on your body. But remember, it's about saving time and energy with intelligent choices. If you can't make it back and forth to the gym, you can save time by having some basic stuff around the house. Exercise bands or dumbbells are a great option, and all you need are a good pair of sneakers to go for a brisk walk.


Decide whether at home, or at a health club what will work best for you. Travel time has to be balanced against the variety and atmosphere of the gym.




EVENTS –MARCH 17 - 27, 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