Langfield Entertainment
40 Asquith Ave., Suite 207, Toronto, ON  M4W 1J6
(416) 677-5883


Updated:  May 19, 2005

Check out the scoop on the much-anticipated spring music series brought to you by Kayte Burgess at The Richmond Lounge beginning on Wednesday, May 18th.  Kayte and Adrian Eccleston also bring the tunes at Irie on Monday nights!
And Sony/BMG offers some scoop on the ever-fantastic Donnie McClurkin. 

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






DeeKaye Plays Distillery Jazz And Toronto Street Festivals Saturday, May 21

His voice is big, his range is big and he is big. but it's not his stature that you'll  remember but the way he can project a song - Chapman's Choice - Toronto Star

DeeKaye Ibomeka, the 6 foot 7, 25 year-old London, Ontario born baritone sensation appears at The Distillery Jazz Festival's Pure Spirits Patio, Saturday, May 21, 2005 between 9 - 11 pm and He'll be accompanied by his band: Waylen Miki, keyboards, Kevin Barrett, guitar, Tim Shia, drums and Ron Johnson, bass. Tickets for the Distillery show are $ 25 in advance, $ 30 at the door. Call Ticket King at 416 646 2166.

The towering figure with the enormous stage presence and three-octave range, the straight A student who started singing secret standards in front of his bedroom mirror is now completing co-writing and rehearsing for the recording of his debut CD with Haydain Neale, lead vocalist, producer and composer for award-winning  jacksoul. The new songs combine contemporary R&B and classic soul influences with elements of Jazz and Blues and is scheduled for release this fall.

DeeKaye began singing publicly in an on-campus group at McMaster University, where he received his degree in Psychology and won a Best Actor Award for his "Audrey" in Hamilton Theater's Little Shop of Horrors. He's toured Ontario and Alberta, and has appeared at The Edmonton Fringe Festival as The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

He studied at the Humber Vocal Jazz Program, performed with Jazz and Blues and R & B combos around Ontario and made memorable open-mike appearances at The Rex, Healey's and Sax on Yonge. He recently recorded two songs on
Seriously Happy by The Royal Jelly Orchestra and three songs on Whitney Smith's Big Steam Band's Life's Drawing recording. DeeKaye has appeared at the Oakville Jazz Festival, the Oshawa Jazz & Blues Festival and The ROM and last Christmas he headlined what he hopes will be an annual show in his hometown of London, Ontario. He sold out the Top O’ the Senator on three separate engagements in the last year.

SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2005

The Distillery Jazz Festival's Pure Spirits Patio

55 Mill (SE of Parliament and Eastern)
9:00 – 11:00 pm
$25 in advance, $ 30 at the door. Call Ticket King at 416.646.2166

For information contact: James Monaco 416 686 3395




Kayte Burgess at The Richmond Lounge’s Wednesday Nights

Toronto welcomes back to the stage Kayte Burgess for a series of original showcases.  Come and join us for this special series at The Richmond Lounge which will feature Kayte’s newest material.  Each week Kayte has invited special guests to join her in giving us the smooth vibes of spring.  What a great line-up!  Kayte's  kickin' band consists of Joel Joseph, Adrian Eccleston, Roger Williams and Don Pham.  Kayte has showcased her R&B and soul singing talents for the likes of Quincy Jones, Mariah Carey, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. She has natural and magnetic presence and a true command of the stage.  We hope to see you there!

The Richmond Lounge
342 Richmond Street W. (entrance to the right of Fez Batik)
Doors open at 9:00 pm
Cover:  $5.00





Jars of Clay: Redemption Songs

The latest contribution from multi-platinum, Grammy Award winners, Jars of Clay. Redemption Songs is a collection of reinvented ancient hymns and spiritual songs. As part of a church community that believed passionately the blessing of understanding the story of redemption through early church songs and ancient hymns, Jars of Clay found themselves a part of a growing renaissance, one that inspired them to write new songs using the rich hymn texts as the foundation. This renaissance was the beginning of a blend of familiar hymns, spirituals and ancient texts which has made Redemption Songs a timeless musical testimony of the Gospel story, reaching throughout history to give us roots and wings, while reminding a new generation that they are all a part of the ongoing Redemptive story.









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Motivational Note:  Introducing the Secret to Living Your Ideal Life

Excerpt from

Are you ready to make a change your life? To achieve every single one of your goals and live each day like it was meant to be lived? If so, motivation is what you're looking for. You see, at the heart of every change and achievement is the motivation to make it happen. Without the motivation, it's impossible to get what you really want. That's why I created The Motivated Mind program. It teaches anyone who is ready to take control of their life the keys to mastering motivation and living their dream life. In six simple steps you'll discover... - How to uncover your true goals and live a happy life - The secrets to gaining an unstoppable confidence - How to instantly overcome fear and procrastination - The one word that is absolutely critical to your success - How to eliminate the devastating myths that hold you back - and much, much more Visit the address below for an in-depth look at what you'll learn from The Motivated Mind:







Let's Fix Cancon Launches Campaign


is supporting the Let's Fix CanCon campaign. This campaign to modernize the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunication Commission's Canadian content regulations, which have been in place since the 1970s, has generated much interest and discussion among the music and broadcasting industries.  The goal is to create a reward structure within the CanCon regulations that encourages Canadian radio stations to give more exposure to new and developing Canadian artists by increasing their spins on commercial radio.

The point system works like this:

·                     When a radio station plays a Canadian International Artist, like Alanis Morissette or Celine Dion for example, they will be credited for playing 0.75 CanCon song. This credit is slightly reduced from its current value of 1.

·                     When a radio station plays a Canadian Established Artist, like Blue Rodeo or The Tragically Hip (or K-OS), they will be credited for playing 1.00 CanCon song. Established artists will remain at today's standard CanCon credit.

·                     When a radio station plays a Canadian National Artist, like Kathleen Edwards or The Arcade Fire (or Jully Black), that are signed but have yet to make lasting impression on the Canadian public, that station will be credited with playing 1.25 CanCon song.

When a radio station plays a Canadian Developing Artist, otherwise known as unsigned or independent, that station would be credited with playing 1.50 CanCon song.

Wayne Williams, FLOW 93.5 Program Director, says "FLOW 93.5 supports the Let's Fix CanCon campaign because it will give radio stations an incentive to support emerging talent. Playing independent urban artists is something we've been doing since our launch four years ago. In fact, most of the CanCon played on our station is by independent artists. Hopefully, this will contribute to renewal of a Canadian 'star' system by encouraging all commercial radio stations to give more exposure to new artists."

For radio stations such as FLOW 93.5, whose current CanCon playlist already consists of more than 80% independent product, this amendment would actually be tantamount to a reduction in the percentage of CanCon by rewarding them with higher points for spinning new and emerging independent talent.

Visit to read all the details and form your own opinion! If you agree with the campaign, the site has an online petition that you can sign.




Honey Jam Searches for Women with Star Power

(May 13, 2005) PhemPhat, creators of The Honey Jam, are searching across Canada for women with star power to take part in the 10th Anniversary edition of this exceptional talent showcase. Vibrant female artists, performing all genres of music, including jazz, hip hop, R&B, pop, rock, opera, and more, are invited to participate in the auditions, scheduled to take place Sunday June 5th, 2005 at The Mod Club (722 College Street, Toronto). Audition start time is 2:00 p.m.  Over the past decade, remarkable performers such as Nelly Furtado, Jully Black, Melanie Durrant, Natasha Waterman and many more have graced the Honey Jam stage early in their careers. Artists representing Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal have all taken part in this phenomenal showcase in the past. 

Auditionees will have an opportunity to perform in front a distinct panel of judges including A&R reps, music journalists, vocal coaches, managers, radio personalities, producers and artists. There is an admission fee of $5 for spectators.  Artists outside of Ontario are encouraged to mail their audition on videotape by June 2, along with a photo and bio to:

Honey Jam Auditions
C/o Universal Music Canada
2450 Victoria Park Avenue
Willowdale, ON
M2J 4A2

The 10th Anniversary edition of The Honey Jam Showcase featuring Canada¹s hottest female urban acts will be held at The Mod Club in Toronto on Sunday August 14th, 2005. The purpose of The Honey Jam is to give independent female artists an opportunity to perform live where they will be seen by key A&R representatives, artist managers, seasoned artists and record producers. Later this month, PhemPhat founder and CEO, Ebonnie Rowe, will be honoured by the YWCA for her efforts within the music community by becoming a 2005 recipient of the Women of Distinction Awards.

Sponsors for this year¹s Honey Jam Showcase include Universal Music Canada, UMAC, Yamaha Music Canada, NOW Magazine, PEACE Magazine and FLOW 93.5FM.  Website:




Canada's Beloved Cultural Icon Gordon Lightfoot Returns To Massey Hall

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill, Entertainment Reporter

(May 15, 2005) He's not racing among ruins. Not exactly.  His dream world come true is a contemporary palatial Italianate structure in Toronto's wealthiest residential enclave, in the city's north end. High grey walls, turrets and ornate balconies overlook a wide circular driveway and sculpted lawns. A door the size of a castle keep's opens onto a magnificent marble-floored foyer with a 30-metre ceiling, then a vast, exquisitely furnished living room with a view of gardens and greenery.  No, not ruins. More like splendid isolation.  And here, only a few kilometres from the long-gone smoky Yorkville folk-music haunt, the Riverboat, where his gentle, melancholy melodies and wistful lyrics first cast their spell, Gordon Lightfoot is making what may be his last stand, and planning to face tomorrow head on.  "I started doing the shows at Massey Hall during the Riverboat days," he explains, leading the way into an apartment-sized kitchen — spotless and shiny — and pointing towards an ancient, dented aluminum percolator bubbling quietly on the stove. The elegant sparseness of the room is undone by this relic and by a vintage hand-cranked pencil sharpener, crudely screwed into the marble wall tile, where he sharpens the pencils he uses to write his songs.  He pours a couple of cups and pushes the sugar bowl over the spotless counter.  "Those shows are a constant fixture for me, something I look forward to every year. They anchor me."

Indeed, Lightfoot's annual Massey Hall concerts — they take place this Wednesday through Saturday — have been defining events in the cultural life of Toronto since they began in 1967. They give heart, substance and meaning to this city. Nothing else seems as perfect as Lightfoot at Massey Hall in the spring. These shows are comforting beacons offering sanctuary and a sense of home, of history and continuation. The grand old lady among Toronto's concert halls and Canada's most beloved cultural icon seem immutably — and rightfully — connected in the collective consciousness.  And we've been deprived of them since Lightfoot was rushed from a concert in Orillia to hospital in Hamilton in September 2002 with a life-threatening arterial explosion in his abdomen. This city has been slightly off-kilter, its rhythm ever so slightly shaken. The fear that we might never see Lightfoot perform again, or hear that purely pitched, mellifluous tenor, was scarcely voiced, yet it has hung in the air for almost three years like a malevolent pall.  "From the time I came out of the coma six weeks later I never doubted I'd get through it," Lightfoot says, lowering himself into a battered office chair in a small workroom off the lobby where four road-worn guitar cases are lined up near the palace doors.  Age lines crack his features. Suspenders and a cardigan stretch over his ravaged belly. He looks gaunt and frail. But there's a hard, black fire in his eyes.  "I knew it was a mechanical failure, a broken artery, and nothing genetic. So it could be fixed — in time."

Lightfoot will turn 67 in November, and time is becoming a luxury. A fastidious worker who is proud of being able to stick to self-determined agendas — "I hate working out, but I've been doing it every day for 25 years because I've proven to myself that it improves my singing," he says — he panicked more about the inactivity necessitated by a long recovery than about the physical damage he had suffered.  His time in hospital would eventually extend to 19 months and involve three extensive surgeries due to complications that successively threatened his survival. The singer's stomach is held together with muscle grafted from his thighs, and though he has trouble attaining the breath he needs for the demanding vocal requirements of his epic "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," he is determined to regain his form.  "I was not happy," he says. "I had to find something I could work on in hospital, something to create a diversion.  "That was when I remembered the tapes sitting here on my shelf." He points across the dark and cluttered workroom. The vaulted windows are hung with heavy velvet drapes. On one side of his desk, on stands, are a pair of identical Gibson Jumbo 12-string guitars, vintage items from the 1950s, with which he recorded the classic "Trilogy" and "Early Morning Rain," his breakout single and probably one of the most often rendered songs in the folk repertoire of the late 20th century. On the other side is a 1930s Martin Dreadnought, its finely lined features dulled by sweat and concert dirt.  Floor-to-ceiling shelves cover all four walls, and they are stacked with notebooks — Lightfoot has kept a record of every set list he has performed since the 1970s, each one different, each one bearing the date, venue and an exact running time — as well as tapes, guitar tools, old analogue recording devices (he's digitally clueless and computer-free) and mementos.  On one of these shelves are the tapes Lightfoot had stored before he was stricken: 18 "song sketches" — guitar-and-voice roughs of works in progress, recorded, fortunately, on multi-track tape in a professional downtown studio. They formed the basis of his most recent album, Harmony, released one year ago.  "(While in hospital) I asked the guys in the band to fetch the tapes, and of the 18, I picked nine that I thought were in good enough shape to continue working on. Later I brought myself to like two more so that we had enough to fill a record. Luckily, Dan Lanois' old studio was just a few blocks from the hospital, so the guys were able to add bits and pieces and bring them back for me to hear. I'd suggest changes, or add extra ideas.

"It was done by remote," he says, laughing.  "And I'm not 100 per cent happy with it, but it fulfilled its purpose. It gave me something to work on in hospital, and it let people know I wasn't down for the count, that I'd be back."  A yellow legal notepad is propped up in a music stand beside him, containing tidily inscribed lyrics, chords and annotations for "10 new songs I've been working on," he explains.  Looking over him while he works is a small photo of one-time manager Albert Grossman, the powerful New York entrepreneur who engineered the careers of every important North American folk and folk-rock star of the 1960s and early 1970s, including Lightfoot and his Canadian contemporary and erstwhile competitor, Ian Tyson. During those years Lightfoot composed songs that have become totems in the Canadian psyche — "Ribbon of Darkness," "For Lovin' Me," "Sundown," "Did She Mention My Name?," "Alberta Bound," "Carefree Highway," "Steel Rail Blues," "Cotton Jenny," "The Way I Feel" and, a few years later, the twin crowning masterpieces, the impressionistic kiss-off "If You Could Read My Mind" and the cinematic disaster ballad "Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald."  In the decades since then, Lightfoot has been awarded every important accolade the government and the music industry can bestow — the Order of Canada, the Governor-General's Performing Arts Award, induction into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame, Junos and Grammys, among countless others. His songs long ago became part of Canadian school curricula and the focus of academic theses.  Yet time has stopped in this comfortable, well-used cocoon. It's clearly where Lightfoot spends most of his waking hours.  "I can work here all times of the day and night. Some people go on trips to find the peace of mind to write, but I work mostly at home. Here I have my tools, my coffee. And it's quiet. I need that, because I'm always working on several songs at once. You have to be able to concentrate.

"Songwriting is a very self-absorbing process," he continues, segueing into an explanation of why he and Elizabeth, his wife for 15 years and the mother of two of his five children, have separated since his time in hospital.  "You have to shut people out just to get the work done. You close yourself off. I have been this way my entire adult life, and it's not easy on the people I live with, the people I love. We drifted apart, though in some ways we are still very close. I spend more time now with my extended family than I ever have. I make time for them. We're only 10 minutes apart."  He's a stoic adherent to the work ethic, he says.  "The work has to be done, the songs have to get written. It's work — not inspiration — that makes a good song. And lonely work, very selfish work."  And he's a man of his word. He licked alcohol addiction in 1982 when he realized it was ruining his performances.  "But I did it without going into rehab," he says. "I went to a doctor who specializes in these things, and after we'd talked for an hour, he asked me to promise then and there not to take another drink. I tried to put it off, but he kept holding out his hand, and eventually I shook it. I went back to him every week for three months, and I never drank again. I'm not saying it was easy. The guy had figured out that when I give my word, that's it."  In preparation for the demanding Massey Hall series, Lightfoot has already done several shows in the past year — a benefit/thank-you concert for McMaster Hospital in Hamilton, a flood-relief charity event in Peterborough with his "old friend" Ronnie Hawkins, a few songs at last summer's Mariposa Festival, and more recently, several small concerts in the U.S. Southwest, including Las Vegas. Another 30 are on this year's agenda.

"I'm ready," he says. "I'd been out of commission for 19 months and spent another year recovering my strength and my voice (which he almost lost after a tracheotomy). And now I'm ready. People have a hard time believing this, but I really do love performing. I never get tired of it.  "I don't expect to have another Top 20 record. Those days are gone, and the music business has changed. I had a pretty good run for about 12 years through the 1970s and into the 80s, a very productive time. I was on the tear with `If You Could Read My Mind' and `Edmund Fitzgerald,' though I never thought either one would be a hit. And I've had a few good people cover my tunes, so I've done well.  "I can sell enough records independently to make it worthwhile, but it's playing I really love. And right now, I'm playing better than ever."  On his own cue, he picks up the small Martin six-string and picks quietly.  "I love good pitch and good tuning," he mutters. The gentle thumb-picked arpeggio hangs perfectly formed in the thick air of the room as Lightfoot begins retracing his steps to that first enchantment with the guitar.  "I'm very good with (musical) intervals, the spaces between notes in a chord — something I learned at music school. My father, Gord Sr., couldn't sing at all. The music came from my mother's family. Even in high school I was a good singer. I used to perform at weddings and in competitions. I made my first recording in Grade 4. I used to sing old Irish songs — the ones Bing Crosby used to do — at church functions, ladies auxiliaries, Kiwanis. But everything I learned was on piano.  "Then, one day, I picked up a guitar ..."  The memory dangles. The arpeggio fades. And suddenly he smiles, reminded of the countless tributes that have been paid to him over the past couple of years, including a special all-Lightfoot episode of CTV's Canadian Idol last summer.  "I really enjoyed that — we went back three days during the taping of that show, and I was amazed by what those kids did with the songs. I love it when people come up to me in the street as if they've known me all their lives, and just start chatting. It makes me feel good to be alive, good to be a Canadian."  The smile broadens.  "But I think Stompin' Tom (Connors) is the one who really deserves the tributes."




J. Low: Can she get her groove back?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Bob Strauss, Special to The Globe and Mail

(May 12, 2005) Los Angeles — More than with practically any other celebrity, our view of Jennifer Lopez is coloured by perceptions. Latina role model or one-woman tabloid circus, multitasking actress-singer-dancer-fragrance/fashion/restaurant-entrepreneur or ingenious self-promoter, demanding diva J. Lo or down-to-earth Jenny from the block, her images often overshadow her work. The latest perception of Lopez is someone who really needs the work to work. That makes tomorrow's release of her latest romantic comedy, Monster-in-Law, more than the usual box-office test. Early reviews this week have been largely negative. And ever since Gigli, the awful mob comedy co-starring then-fiancé Ben Affleck, bombed in the summer of 2003, Lopez's commercial popularity has been called into question. Some of this is debatable. Yes, the follow-up film with Affleck, Jersey Girl, did poorly too. But Lopez was barely in that one (reports circulated that her part was further slashed following the failure of Gigli and the real-life Bennifer romance). And her most recent feature, Shall We Dance?, was a respectable mid-range hit -- something Affleck can't say about his woebegone après J. Lo release Surviving Christmas. On the other hand, Lopez's latest album, Rebirth, barely sold 500,000 copies in a month, and has been descending the Billboard chart since its March release. And a dramatic feature, An Unfinished Life with Robert Redford, has had its release date postponed several times over the past year, with still no solid opening in sight.

Obviously, something's changed since January of 2001, when Lopez became the first female artist to have America's No. 1 movie (The Wedding Planner) and album (J. Lo) at the same time.  Of course, the Bronx, N.Y.-born, self-made sensation was also just as famous for being famous at the time. The revealing green dress she'd worn to the previous year's Grammy Awards was still news, and the famous boyfriend she was about to dump, Sean (P. Diddy) Combs, was on trial related to a nightclub shooting.  Somehow, though, whatever Lopez did offstage back then did not seem quite as cataclysmically overhyped as the Affleck affair with its big, six-carat bling, 11th-hour wedding cancellation and relentless paparazzi pursuits. Many feel this ultimate example of media overexposure may have caused more damage than a bad movie or mediocre music could. "Let's face it: That dress that she wore was very important for her," said Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University. "We're having this conversation right now, probably, as a result of that. Her uncanny ability to get herself talked about, be in front of cameras and all the rest of it, was not a bad move. That part of her career when you couldn't go a day without hearing about her, it really did bring her to a level of superstardom that was useful. "But it ultimately ended up going too far. . . . Now, I think what she needs is a good project -- a movie, a blockbuster album, whatever it has to be. She wants to make sure that she doesn't end up being famous just for being famous."

Lopez appears to have recognized this. There have been wholesale changes in her management and publicity teams in recent years. And after two short-lived marriages and the in-your-face celebrity relationships, Lopez kept her third wedding to singer Marc Anthony a secret last June, and did not publicly acknowledge they had tied the knot until eight months later. "I actually did pull back a little bit, where you stopped seeing me everywhere all the time," Lopez said at a Monster-In-Law press conference last month. Monster, a comedy in which she plays Charlie, a free-spirited young woman whose fiancé's mother turns out to be the title nightmare, comes complete with the rare (for J. Lo, anyway) advantage of a co-star, Jane Fonda, who attracts as much attention as she does. But even though the still-controversial Fonda has drawn the lioness's share of publicity for her first film appearance in 15 years and concurrent release of her tell-all autobiography, Lopez hasn't gotten off easy. Fonda may still get slammed for her anti-war activities during the Vietnam era, but Lopez is having to contend with a multipronged protest by animal-rights activists over the use of fur in her new Sweetface clothing line. When hype turns bad, it pours. "There was a case of overexposure, and she's well aware of that," says Monster director Robert Luketic. The Australian filmmaker says that his own preconceptions about Lopez proved pleasantly unfounded once he got to know her.

"I was led to believe, before meeting Jennifer, that I was perhaps going to have Diana Ross and Barbra Streisand on tour at the same time . . .," Luketic admits.  "But the woman I ended up meeting was nothing like that. She was this unassuming, hard-working girl who just wanted to do good. She wanted the movie to be good, not just her part. . . . I know that the legend was that she wanted special candles and white flowers; she couldn't really give a damn about candles and white flowers." Though Lopez, the daughter of a Puerto Rican computer specialist and a kindergarten teacher, has admittedly made her share of ostentatious displays of success, she seems genuinely puzzled by the prima-donna reputation. "I always felt like, eventually, all of that stuff would fall away, because I think it was a little bit exaggerated and fabricated to make things interesting, you know," Lopez said at the press conference. "I never know why they pick certain people for this. It could be the way my management was or how we did things. I take full responsibility for those things. But who I am as a person never jibed with how I've been described or portrayed in the press, so it was always kind of weird to me." Invented or not, such sniping can add fuel to a backlash. "Celebrity's celebrity, and the media pick on who they pick on," notes Luis Reyes, co-author of Hispanics in Hollywood, an encyclopedic history of Latinos in the film industry. "Part of it is her doing, but it's hard to say . . . why someone is singled out over someone else." Reyes is sceptical that much, if any, long-term damage has been done to Lopez's career. He notes that she's about to start a potentially prestigious new movie, Bordertown, on a serious subject: the unsolved murders of young female factory workers in Juarez, Mexico. Antonio Banderas co-stars and the director is Gregory Nava, who gave Lopez her breakout role in Selena. "Maybe her last album didn't do as well as was hoped," Reyes says, "but . . . her music is played all over the place. And kids look up to her."

If there is a slip in Lopez's popularity, though, it may have as much to do with an aging fan base for the 35-year-old star as any other demographic factor. "A lot of people who had Jennifer Lopez posters in their bedrooms are growing up and going to college and not bringing the Jennifer poster," Thompson says. It only takes one thing to even out the equation Thompson speaks of, though: A hit movie. "There is always that period in a star's life when the thing that makes them a star in Hollywood goes down," notes a film buyer for an American theatre chain who asked not to be identified. "They make some mistakes, they do a couple bad movies, then suddenly they're in a great film and the industry completely forgives them. You've seen ebb and flows with a lot of careers. Look at Jim Carrey . . .," the buyer said. "At some point, J. Lo will make a movie and be the box-office star again. Is Monster-in-Law it? I don't know."  "I don't think it's the make-or-break of Jennifer Lopez's career," Thompson says. "She's clearly got enough brand recognition at this point that, I suppose, she could afford to do another Gigli without the centre completely failing to hold and the bottom falling out. . . . But some kind of clock begins to tick, someplace, if this tanks."




M.O.P. Splits From Roc-A-Fella

Excerpt from

(May 12, 2005) *Lil' Fame and Billy Danzenie of the rap group M.O.P. aren’t trying to stick around Roc-A-Fella records now that founder Damon Dash is no longer HNIC.  "I want you to understand that Dame Dash doesn't own Roc-A-Fella any more, and as of December 13, we actually obtained our release" from the label, said M.O.P. manager Laze E. Laze according to MTV. "We saw the company was going in a different direction. To me, Roc-A-Fella's over." Laze's announcement last week served as public notification of the group's split from the Damon Dash Music Group as well. As previously reported, Dash’s label has backed out of its distribution deal with Universal Music/Island Def Jam after only three months.  During the Brooklyn duo’s three-year stint on Roc, they’ve only released a few underground tracks. Their “Mash Out Posse” rock mash-up album was released on the group’s own First Family label via Koch.  M.O.P. is now looking for a label that will support the four albums the group says it recorded during its time at Roc-A-Fella. The album's titles are “Ghetto Warfare,” “The Last Generation,” a mixtape called “The St. Marksman” and “Kill Nigga Die Slo Bluckka Bluckka Bloaoow Blood Sweat Tears and We Out.”  Despite the departure, Laze says he still may field offers from either Dash or the Roc.

"We're still talking to DDMG about doing something with him, more from a label standpoint," he said. "And [we'd consider] even Jay, if he came to us with a situation that's not just an artist on the Roc assembly line." Laze said he's also talking with Koch, Atlantic, the Warner Music imprint Asylum and G-Unit Records. The group is also planning to follow up their movie appearances in Dame Dash Films' "State Property 2" with a reality show called "Boot Camp Cold Turkey" in Pennsylvania, through their Blaze Films production company. The show, which they plan to shop to television networks when it's finished, details their experiences in a four-week boot camp at the hands of Navy SEALs.  M.O.P. is also getting into the beverage business. "We got a coconut rum liquor called XXX. And we're doing movies, starting on a project called 'Creepers' — porn. We're not acting, but we are producing it," Danzenie told MTV.




Bobby Valentino Hardly Slowing Down

Excerpt from

(May 12, 2005) Bobby Valentino’s smooth and sexy “Slow Down,” the debut single from the first R&B artist signed to Ludacris’ Island Def Jam/Disturbing Tha Peace joint venture label, wins the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot R&B/ Hip Hop Singles & Tracks  chart – and sends his self-titled debut album "Disturbing Tha Peace Presents: Bobby Valentino" straight  to a #2 debut this week on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Billboard Album chart.  On the pop side, “Slow Down” jumps 2 points to #16-bullet on the Hot 100, and the album debuts at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, with 179,751 units sold.  Channelling the sounds of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Prince and other classic R&B greats in his music, Bobby Valentino has tapped into a soul-starved marketplace that can’t seem to get enough of him.  The video for “Slow Down,” directed by Erick White (who has shot clips for DTP founder Ludacris, Chingy, Fabolous, Jojo and others) stays at #1 on BET and has just been added on MTV.  Bobby is scheduled to appear  tonight,  May 11 on ABC’s "Jimmy Kimmell Live," and  Friday, May 13 on ABC’s "Live with Regis & Kelly." 

“Slow Down,” produced by hitmakers Tim & Bob (known for their string of hits with TLC, Jodeci, Jagged Edge, and others) has turned into the R&B success story of the year.  Bobby recently wrapped up a 32-city promotional tour of major and secondary markets, where “Slow Down” accelerated nearly 10 million in Hot 100 radio airplay audience to nearly 80 million last week.  The digital single sold another 7,800 downloads this week, reaching almost 40,000 in a little over 2 months. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, and raised in Atlanta, 22-year old Bobby Valentino first tasted stardom in the teen vocal group Mista (produced by Organized Noize), who delivered a classic hit with 1996’s “Blackberry Molasses.”  Bobby returned to school, eventually receiving a degree from Clark Atlanta University two years ago.  The wisdom he’s acquired over the years makes his debut album irresistible, as listeners hone in on his extraordinary vocal ability, teased by such tunes as “Love Dream,” in which he puts his falsetto to good use, and the poignant “My Angel,” focusing on the magical chemistry between a man and his true love.
Tour dates for Bobby Valentino will be announced in the weeks ahead.




Mario C, The Hottest New Reggae/Dancehall Producer Soars With Latest Projects

Excerpt from -
By Kevin Jackson

(May 12, 2005) Dancehall music which was once considered a ‘downtown’ commodity has hit the international scene with a vengeance as is evident with the recent success of Sean Paul, Elephant Man, and Shaggy and to some extent Beenie Man.  Quite a number of music producers and engineers whose roots are mainly from middle class upbringing are commanding attention with their infectious beats. 357 Records which is spearheaded by one time sound system selector-turned-engineer and producer, Mario Campbell better known as Mario C, believes that fresh ideas and strong musical influences have attributed to his label’s current positioning in the marketplace. ‘We are approaching the music from an international perspective. Everyone was dealing with the same thing and trying to ride off the international wave. We at 357 Records have always and will continue to make music with a global appeal; however we are not ignoring the core market’, Campbell told this column recently.   With four hit rhythms to its credit, 357 Records has among its partners dancehall kingpin Moses ‘Beenie Man’ Davis, and his brother Rohan ‘Blue’ Smith.  The label has also moved into artiste management with names including Razor, Martina, Mafia (one time deejay Gringo) and Kantana listed on its roster.   Campbell who was afforded a middle class upbringing attended St. Georges College. Miami Dade University in Florida was next and then the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he studied Sound Engineering.  After I finished Art Institute, I came back home to Jamaica. Right then I decided that music was what I wanted to get involved in’, Campbell explained. He juggled between playing at uptown sessions such as Pip and Ting and the Great Adventure series of parties, while trying his occasionally experimenting with rhythms and beats.

Coined from what Campbell said were Biblical odd numbers, 357 Records debuted in 2003 with the Bad Wud rhythm. According to Campbell, that project was a big seller in the Caribbean, reeling out a hit with Beenie Man’s They Call Him Moses.  The Freak Side rhythm was the follow up project which reportedly made inroads in the Caribbean.  I have to give a lot of thanks to Tony Matterhorn, because he was instrumental in pushing the projects and giving them a lot of support. Without him, none of this would have been possible’, said Campbell.
The Scoobay rhythm was the project which literally shook the streets.  It was snapped up by London-based independent reggae label Greensleeves Records and added to the label’s Rhythm album series of compilations. It featured chart hits including Beenie Man’s Weh You Nuh Fi Do, the Vybz Kartel/Beenie Man collaboration Breast Specialist, Mad Cobra’s Lock Di Place, Galang Bad by Capleton, and Razor’s Workings.  ‘The scoobay gave us the recognition and respect that we had wanted all along.  It did very well sales wise and radio wise’, Campbell said. Asked how lucrative producing hit rhythms have been for him, he said it pays the bills. The small bills. But we have to give thanks for what we have. What 357 Records has achieved so far is phenomenal’. The Bomb a drop rhythm is the newest project out of the 357 Records camp. Lady Saw’s 5 Star Hotel and Razor’s Mr. Dixon are among those which have hit the charts in recent weeks. Campbell said he his family supported his move into the dancehall music arena. He also said that music was what he was destined to be involved in from an early age.  ‘My parents didn’t have a problem with my musical interests as long as it is clean. If I am not adding something to the business, then it would be a waste of time. We have to be mature in what we do and inject some growth in the music. We are trying to get the music on a higher level, and we are working on a lot of things that are going to surprise people. We got Beenie Man and Vybz Kartel on a project, and now we are working on Kartel and Mad Cobra on a project that we have in the pipeline’.

Hit making producers including Wycliffe Steelie’ Johnson and Cleveland Çlevie’ Browne, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, Dave and Tony Kelly, Lloyd ‘King Jammy’ James and the late Clement Çoxone’ Dodd are among Campbell’s production influences. 
 Campbell writes most of the songs that he presents to recording artistes who are featured on his rhythm projects. Asked how he came up with the ideas for the projects that the label has spearheaded, Campbell said it's more of a spiritual thing. I really can’t explain but it’s amazing how we come up with the concepts’.   The Disturbance and Tyrant rhythms are two hot projects which Campbell is banking on, to make impressions on music fans this summer. He said ‘We already have a combination with Vybz Kartel, Beenie Man and Mad Cobra so that is something that people can look out for’. 




Fugee Pras Michel Is Back

Source:  Iced Media, Amina Elshahawi,

(May 16, 2005) It is practically a truism in American life: the notion of reinvention and second chapters. And for the enigmatic Pras Michel, one third of the nineties super group, the Fugees, that notion is one that he realizes will be a natural question from a curious public as he releases his second, full-length work as a solo artist, the fatefully titled Win, Lose or Draw.  “It’s a second chapter in the sense of the public eye,” Pras muses. “But in my mind and heart it’s more about continuation and growth. In life we try to grow and better ourselves. As an artist, I feel like I’ve grown tremendously. I feel I’m a little bit more comfortable in my skin now than I was, say, ten, even five years ago.” It’s been an eventful ten, even five, years for Pras Michel. A protracted struggle to break into a cookie-cutter music business with his mates, Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean. Earth-shattering success on the Fugee’s sophomore disc, The Score, and the near cultural deification, which followed. A taste of selfdom’s glory and gory sides with the single “Ghetto Supastar” and the subsequent album of the same name. And, of course, the dissolution of the Fugees themselves. A long ten, or five, years indeed.

“My life changed in a significant way, obviously. Being with the Fugees, with Clef and Lauryn. Then us disbanding. When you’re together with a group of people like that you feel like they’re family, you feel like they’re your siblings. But there’s a harsh reality- nothing lasts forever. You have to be ready to grow and grow fast.  For Pras Michel, Win, Lose or Draw provides the armour and sustenance for that jungle.  “Coming off The Score I did the “Ghetto Supastar” record as a demo. A friend of mine got it to Warren Beatty and Interscope, and it became a big single. Then, in came the classic, ‘oh my god, yo, let’s put an album together, now.’ I was rushed into the studio. I really can’t blame anyone but myself, because I didn’t have to deliver the album. But when you get caught up in the gas, and you’re young, and there’s so much helium going on around you, you can’t decipher the real end. Later, I realized that I was compromising myself. So, for this album I was determined to do it my way. Take my time. I’m gonna win, lose or draw on my own.  One listen to Win, Lose or Draw will convince you that Pras Michel, indeed, went for it. As befitting a member of the Fugees, the album pulses with the same thoughtfulness and socio-political vision that marked the Fugees individual and collective work, along with a grown-man maturity that’s all Pras Michel.

“When we came up with titles like ‘Ready or Not’, that’s how we really felt. Sometimes people say things because it sounds cool. But when I say I’m with the revolution, especially now, I’m dead serious about it. There’s a lot of madness going on out there. Artists can only be what they are, but the industry [today] only goes with what they think people wanna hear.” Pras Michel plunges into those issues in honest and sincere fashion on Win, Lose or Draw. From the first single, “Haven’t Found” to the soon to be immigrant anthem, “For Love,” a heartfelt letter to his fellow Haitians, to the Salaam Remi produced, ragga driven “Dance Hall,” featuring Sean Paul and Spragga Benz, to the passionate sentiments voiced on “Party Over,” lamenting a hip-hop world gone blind (“...war going on and y’all don’t even know”), Pras Michel chants down the new Babylon, in his own distinct manner. Fellow Fugee alum Wyclef Jean even turns up “Angel Sings” for a compelling trip down nostalgia lane.  “I didn’t want to do the whole, get the hottest person thing,” Pras Michel explains. “I wanted to make sure every record felt right. The record Clef and I did, “Angel Sings,” was just sitting there. So I said, ‘Clef, I got a record, hit a verse on it.’ He just went in, messed around and ended up doing the hook too.” The years in the game have given Pras Michel perspective, confidence, and hope, despite his disgust, even despair with much of what passes for hip-hop today.

“I’m just one of those firm believers that good music will prevail. Different people in the record business would say to me, ‘well, Pras Michel, you know, you haven’t been out in a while, maybe you should get today’s hottest producer or rapper to do something. But I think there’s always room for people to hear different styles of music, especially when it comes from the heart. The public [responds] if it’s given to them the right way. I’m confident being at Universal, which is a great home for me, cause they understand what I’m trying to do. I don’t know what the numbers will be, and we live in a number driven world right now. But I just want my music to get out there to the people. I want them to hear it and for them to make up their own minds about it. And I’ll take it from there, win, lose or draw.”




Ciara Leads BET Award Nods

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(May 17, 2005) *It’s a 1, 2, 3, 4 Step for Ciara, as the 19-year-old singer has received four BET Award nominations to lead the pack of nominees this year.  The Austin, Texas native is up for best female R&B artist, best new artist and best collaboration for "1, 2 Step" featuring Missy Elliott, which also picked up a nod in the BET Viewers' Choice category. Earning three nominations each were John Legend, Kanye West and Destiny's Child, while Amerie, Fantasia, 50 Cent, Terror Squad featuring Fat Joe and Omarion picked up two apiece.  A lifetime achievement award will be presented to Gladys Knight, while Denzel Washington and his wife Pauletta will receive the humanitarian award. As previously reported, husband and wife team Will and Jada Pinkett Smith will serve as hosts. Confirmed performers so far include The Game, Elliott, Ludacris, Destiny's Child and Mariah Carey.  Here is the full list of nominees for the 2005 BET Awards, to be handed out June 28 at Los Angeles' Kodak Theatre:

Best female, hip-hop:

Best gospel artist:

Miri Ben-Ari

Fred Hammond


Donnie McClurkin

Remy Martin

Ruben Studdard


CeCe Winans

Best male, hip-hop:

Kanye West

50 Cent

Video of the year:


Amerie ("One Thing")


Jay-Z ("99 Problems")

Snoop Dogg

John Legend ("Ordinary People")


Snoop Dogg f/ Pharrell ("Drop It Like It's Hot")

Kanye West

Kanye West ("Jesus Walks")

Best collaboration:

Best actress:

Ciara f/ Missy Elliott ("1, 2 Step")

Halle Berry

Destiny's Child f/ Lil Wayne and T.I. ("Soldier")

Kimberly Elise

The Game and 50 Cent ("Hate It or Love It")

Regina King

Jadakiss f/ Anthony Hamilton ("Why")

Queen Latifah

Snoop Dogg f/ Pharrell ("Drop It Like It's Hot")

Gabrielle Union

Usher and Alicia Keys ("My Boo")

Best actor:

Best female, R&B:

Don Cheadle


Jamie Foxx

Mariah Carey

Morgan Freeman


Mos Def


Will Smith

Alicia Keys

Female athlete of the year:

Jill Scott

Laila Ali

Best male, R&B:

Gail Devers

Anthony Hamilton

Lisa Leslie

John Legend

Venus Williams


Serena Williams


Male athlete of the year:


Allen Iverson

Best group:

Lebron James


Donovan McNabb

Destiny's Child

Shaquille O'Neal

Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz

Tiger Woods

The Roots Viewers' Choice:

Terror Squad f/ Fat Joe

Ciara f/ Missy Elliott ("1, 2 Step")

Best new artist:

Destiny's Child f/ Lil Wayne and T.I. ("Soldier")


Mario ("Let Me Love You")


Omarion ("O")

The Game

Terror Squad f/ Fat Joe ("Lean Back")

John Legend

T. I. ("U Don't Know Me")







Bow Wow 'Wanted'

Source: Iced Media, Amina Elshahawi,

(May 17, 2005) Ask Bow Wow what life is like now that's he's 18 and the music, film and television powerhouse pulls no punches. "I'm maturing," he says. "I'm becoming a man, but staying humble. I'm staying myself and most importantly, I'm trying to make good movies and music for my fans. Every one in hip-hop talks about staying real and what that means to me is staying down to earth, not getting cocky. When I say, 'do you,' that means 'be yourself.' That's what this album is all about." The name of Bow Wow's fourth Sony album is Wanted and whether he's letting fans know about his life, giving the ladies something, partying with the fellas or lacing you with a laid back vibe, Wanted is Bow Wow at his most focused, playful and in control. Featuring guest appearances from some of the hottest names in music--like Ciara and Snoop Dogg--Wanted truly reflects the way Bow Wow is, right now.  As fans of the multi-platinum entertainer know, any time Bow Wow makes a record, it's an event, but even by Bow Wow's standards, Wanted is cause for celebration. Credit the re-teaming of Bow Wow with superstar producer and mogul Jermaine Dupri. While 2003's Unleashed, executive produced by Bow Wow, ushered in the artist's mature new vibe, this time around Bow Wow knew he wanted to get back together with Dupri. "I've got no regrets about Unleashed and was really glad I had the chance to work with other producers," Bow Wow admits, "but Jermaine is like family. He's like my big brother and working with him is like being home. I just put my foot down and said, 'I'm not getting back into the studio unless Jermaine is there and he does my entire record.' You just can't mess with our chemistry." Want proof of that chemistry? Just check out tracks like the hard-hitting "Do You." "That's just me reclaiming my throne!," exclaims Bow Wow. "It's my way of letting everybody know that even if I'm gone for a decade, this is still my house and I'm putting my paw print on things and making sure that everybody knows what's going on." Something that's definitely going on is "Caviar," a slinky southern-fried jam that features Bow Wow and Snoop Dogg (who appeared on Bow's debut) having mad fun. "That's a real feel good party record with me and Snoop, doing what we do ... again," says Bow Wow. Another high profile collaboration is "Like You," featuring Ciara.  "That's a special record," Bow Wow explains. "It's a girl's song and I always make sure that I do something for the ladies because they've always been so supportive and 'Like You' is something that they can relate to because everything that Ciara and I are singing about is real." Equally real and totally hyped up is "Go," which Bow Wow declares "is for the kids. It's an upbeat, way up-tempo crunk record. It's got this great chorus and totally makes a statement. That record is just an adrenalin rush!" A major reason for that rush is that Bow Wow has taken a major hand in the song and music writing, making Wanted an extremely personal experience. "Everything I write about happens in my life," Bow Wow offers. "I talk about everything, from going to the mall, to being on '106th and Park' to shopping, my career, my movies, TV shows, my family. Everything. My style of rapping is bringing my world to ya'll. Letting ya'll know what's really going on inside the world of Bow Wow. I think that's why going into the studio and coming up with rhymes is such a natural thing for me to do because I'm just expressing what my life is all about."

Bow Wow has been letting his fans inside his world from a young age. Born in Ohio (he now lives in Atlanta), Bow Wow was a naturally gifted hip-hop child prodigy. When he was just six and still answering to the name Shad Moss, he appeared on the popular "The Arsenio Hall Show," where he met legendary rapper Snoop Dogg. Snoop was so taken with Shad's charisma and skills that he dubbed him "Lil Bow Wow" and invited the then pint-sized microphone fiend to join the "Chronic Tour."  Soon, word began to filter throughout the hip-hop and pop communities about the cute little kid with the vicious flow. In 2000 Bow Wow brought that flow and his undeniable mass appeal to the top of the charts courtesy of his debut album, Beware of Dog. Thanks to infectious singles like "Bounce With Me," which topped both the rap and R&B charts, and high profile gigs like opening up for *NSYNC and appearing with Madonna to open the 2001 Grammy Awards ceremony, Beware of Dog would sell more than 2 million copies with Bow Wow emerging as the most talked about young rapper in the game. He kept the buzz growing with 2001's follow-up Doggy Bag (which went gold and platinum) and the sold-out "Scream" arena tours. Along with his own albums, Bow Wow popped up on the soundtracks for the films "Wild Wild West" and "Big Momma's House."  In 2002, Bow Wow made his move from the recording studio to the big screen with the starring role in "Like Mike" (one of the 50 top grossing films of 2002) which led to a role in the smash comedy "Johnson Family Vacation" in 2003.  "Acting is something that I feel like is really gonna be crazy for me," Bow Wow says, and his hunch is paying off. Watch for Bow Wow in a new movie, "Roll Bounce," a teenage skater-dramedy set in the late 1970s, slated for an autumn release; the headline slot on this summer's hotly-anticipated "Scream IV Tour;" and his own self-titled television series premiering on the WB Network this fall. One listen to Wanted and you can tell that four albums into his career, Bow Wow is just getting started. Whether kicking it with the guys or whispering to the females, Bow Wow is continuing to deliver edgy but tender rhymes that are both true to himself and universal in their appeal. Asked what drives him and Bow Wow grins. "I know what I gotta do," he says, "I'm still that same threat that I was when I was 13. No matter what people say I'm still gonna be at it. I'm gonna keep being me and having fun with it." Watch Bow Wow's "LET ME HOLD YOU" - Bow Wow featuring Omarion at



Canadian Music Hall Of Fame To Get Own Home

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon

(May 17, 2005) Toronto -- After inducting 57 artists and music-industry leaders since 1978, the
Canadian Music Hall of Fame finally has plans to build a physical site open to the public within 2½ years. The hall would be located within a new shopping complex at the corner of Yonge and Dundas in downtown Toronto. The idea isn't to create a museum solemnly honouring Canadian talent with guitars in glass cases and sheet music in archives. It is instead being billed as a highly interactive tourist attraction, similar to the Experience Music Project in Seattle, with a performance area and "youth-friendly," hands-on activities. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts, which operates the hall of fame (currently as just a few pages on its website and photos on its office walls) and also runs the Juno Awards, had asked for bids from around the country, yet seriously considered two: The one in Toronto led by the design firm Spinning Wheel, and another one in Hamilton submitted as part of that city's waterfront-development project, said CARAS chairman Ross Reynolds. The Toronto bid, budgeted at around $38-million, won because it's in a high-volume tourist area. CARAS hopes to tap corporations and various levels of government for funding.




Babyface Returns All ‘Grown & Sexy’

Excerpt from

(May 17, 2005) *He may still go by the name Babyface, but everything else about the talented singer/producer, including the title of his forthcoming album, is definitely “Grown & Sexy.”  Arista will release the set, his ninth album, on July 26.  Preceding the release will be its first single, "Sorry For the Stupid Things," which hits Urban and Urban AC radio formats on May 23. Also in advance of the album's release will be a live one-hour performance special, with an airdate to be announced soon.  Two tracks on “Sexy” - "Can't Stop Now" and "The Loneliness" - were produced by Babyface and the Underdogs (who shared instrumental parts and programming). Another track, "She," was written, produced, and performed entirely by Babyface. Other album cuts include "Tonite It's Goin' Down" (written by Babyface and Daryl Simmons), "Grown & Sexy" (Babyface-Simmons), "Mad, Sexy, Cool" (Babyface), "Goin' Outta Bizness" (Babyface-Simmons), "Drama, Luv And 'Lationships" (Babyface), "Sorry For the Stupid Things" (Babyface-Simmons), "Good 2 B In Luv" (Babyface-Simmons-Pagani-Allen), "God Must Luv U" (Babyface), and "The Getting 2 Know U" (Babyface). The CD was recorded at Brandon's Way Recording in Los Angeles, and tracks were mixed by Serban Ghenea at Mixstar Studios in Virginia Beach, and at Brandon's Way; and by Jon Gass at Brandon's Way.




Kidjo in 46664

Excerpt from

(May 17, 2005) *Angelique Kidjo, Queen's Brian May, Razorlight and Zucchero have been confirmed for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Arctic concert, to be held June 11 in Tromso, Norway. Bongo Maffin, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Johnny Clegg have also been confirmed for the charity concert, the third such 46664 event designed to promote the education and prevention of HIV/AIDS.




Studdard Plots Fall 'Return' With New CD

Excerpt from - By John Benson, Cleveland

(May 17, 2005) Currently in an Atlanta studio, 2003 "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard is finishing up his third J Records release, "The Return of the Velvet Teddy Bear," for a tentative fall release date. Although he is tight-lipped regarding the entire project, the Alabama native did confirm he's working with various producers on more than potential 20 tracks.  "I think everybody is bringing a different flair to the situation and if it clicks, it makes good music," Studdard tells "[I did] a session with Mario Winans that turned out really well. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to work with Warryn Campbell (Luther Vandross, Brandy, Dru Hill) now. Hopefully [there will be] some other big named producers. It's coming along really, really well and it's turning out like I wanted it to, so I'm excited."  Despite the fact Studdard's 2004 sophomore album "I Need an Angel" was positioned as an inspirational or even gospel release, the crooner takes exception to the label. "It's R&B," he says. "I never went gospel. That was just a holiday release. I never made an announcement that I was becoming a Christian artist." The 26-year-old singer recently returned to his pre-"American Idol" outfit Just A Few Cats by making an appearance on the group's new album, "CATastrophunk." This weekend, the artist will appear with the jazz/soul outfit, which also acts as his touring band, at a CD release party and a benefit for the Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala.  While he has a few solo dates planned for this summer, a full-fledged tour is being set up for the fall. "I like to work and I just try to keep it moving," Studdard says.




Seal Closes The Deal

Excerpt from

(May 12, 2005)  *Seal and supermodel Heidi Klum, who are expecting their first child in September, exchanged vows Tuesday at the Cuixmala resort near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Klum, who wore a Vera Wang gown, had announced their engagement on her Web site back in January. The two began dating last year, right after her break-up with Renault Formula One team boss Flavio Briatore – who is the father of her daughter, Leni, born last May. As previously reported, Flavio is now back with his ex-girlfriend Naomi Campbell. As for Seal, he’s back with a new CD/DVD of a July 6, 2004 performance at France’s the Olympia Bruno Coquatrix. “Live in Paris,” due June 7 via Warner Bros., features 14 tracks from the show, while the DVD includes four additional selections ("Deep Water," "Hey Joe," "Whirlpool" and "Don't Make Me Wait"). "Live in Paris" is also available as a stand-alone DVD. Meanwhile, Seal will begin a North American tour May 20 in Las Vegas and has shows lined up through late fall. During the itinerary, he will take a number of breaks for shows in Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland. The tour comes in support of his 2003 studio album, "Seal IV," which spawned the Grammy-nominated hit "Love's Divine."  Also due out June 7 are DVD-A versions of Seal's 1991 debut and 1994 sophomore set (both titled "Seal"). The reissues will include "a variety of remixes by William Orbit, Nelle Hooper and Trevor Horn and exclusive video extras," according to a press release.




Eminem Auctions Off 8 Mile

Associated Press

(May 12, 2005) Oak Park, Mich. — Eminem, who grew up on both sides of 8 Mile Road, is helping revitalize the highway he made famous in a hit song and film. The rapper, born Marshall Mathers III, has autographed 30 bricks from the recently demolished Detroit Artillery Armory on 8 Mile in Oak Park. One brick was auctioned last month, and the rest are to auctioned on eBay within the next month. Proceeds will be split equally between Eminem's charity, the Marshall Mathers Foundation, which helps troubled youths, and the Eight Mile Boulevard Association. The association, a coalition of 13 cities, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties and several businesses, asked Eminem to sign the bricks. It plans to use its share of the auction proceeds for revitalization efforts along 8 Mile. "He's identified with 8 Mile Road, and he's famous," association president Barry Brickner told the Detroit Free Press. The bricks are painted gold and are covered with a clear sealant on the side bearing Eminem's autograph, said Tami Salisbury, the association's executive director. The bricks will be packaged with DVD copies of the rapper's movie 8 Mile. R. Miles Handy, supervisor of Wayne County's Redford Township, submitted the winning bid of $300 for the first brick, which says "Save 8 Mile Slim Shady 2005." "Here's a kid who lived close to 8 Mile, now is one of the largest entertainers in the country," said Handy, 40. "I think it's a pretty nice piece of history." Eminem was born in St. Joseph, Mo., and grew up in Detroit and Warren — cities divided by 8 Mile Road — as well as Roseville and St. Clair Shores. After attaining hip-hop superstardom, he lived in Sterling Heights and Macomb County's Clinton Township and now lives in Rochester Hills in a 29-room, 15,000-square-foot mansion for which he paid $4.8 million.




Marsalis & Connick

Excerpt from

(May 12, 2005) *Sax man Branford Marsalis and his long-time road dawg, pianist Harry Connick Jr., will team for a new album entitled “Occasion (Connick on Piano, Vol. 2),” due June 14 via Marsalis Music.  The set was recorded during one weekend in March in Durham, N.C. and features 11 tracks written by Connick and two by Marsalis. The musicians will perform selections from the album on June 24 in Ottawa, Ont., and June 25 on the closing evening of New York's JVC Jazz Festival. "Vol. 2" is the follow-up to Connick's 2003 quartet recording "Other Hours (Connick on Piano, Vol. 1)."




Sting Finds Temporary Backup Singer In Audience

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(May 16, 2005)  New York. -- Ever dream of rocking out on stage with Sting? All you need to do is ask. That tactic worked for one lucky fan Saturday night, during an intimate concert at the club Irving Plaza to mark the end of Sting's tour. As he was about to start playing the song End of the Game, a female fan screamed out that she wanted to join him. "You want to help me sing the song? Okay, c'mon," he said to the delight of the fan, and the crowd. The fan did her best -- dancing along with Sting, and singing into a microphone brought on stage for her. But she needed to read from the teleprompter for the words. AP




Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bryan Adams, Room Service, Mercury
Dave Matthews Band, Stand Up, RCA
MISSY ELLIOTT TBA (Missy Elliott) (Elektra)
SNOOP DOGG The Puff Puff Pass Tour: Special Edition (Eagle Vision)
Various Artists, Southern Soul Showcase, Kent

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Kem, Album II, Motown
Maroon 5, Songs About Jane [Bonus Tracks], BMG International
Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation: First London Invasion Tour 1987, Cornerstone
Raheem Devaughn, Love Experience, Jive
SHAGGY Clothes Drop (Universal)
The Jive Five
, What Time Is It, Collectables







Canadians Have Their Day In The Sun

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell

(May 16, 2005) Any lingering notions of a rivalry between Toronto filmmakers Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg had to be finally put to rest Saturday night after the two made a public display of mutual admiration.  Egoyan and Cronenberg were guests of honour at a beach party sponsored by Telefilm Canada at the Canadian pavilion at Cannes, along with fellow Toronto filmmaker Stuart Samuels.  The three all have films in the festival's Official Selection. Egoyan and Cronenberg are among the 21 directors competing for the Palme d'Or with their respective films, Where the Truth Lies and A History of Violence. Samuels is here with his cult-film documentary Midnight Movies, which screened out of competition on Friday at midnight.  Cronenberg told his audience of Canuck film industry pros and journalists that both he and Egoyan are delighted to be in the Palme d'Or competition, which last saw Canadians together 28 years ago.  They've both been to Cannes many times, he said, but the feeling of exhilaration never fades.  "We both love being here," he said. "It's crazy, just like the movie business."  Egoyan's smile beamed his assent, but it's likely he was trying hard to be in a good mood.  Where the Truth Lies had that day received a mixed critical assessment following its world premiere Friday, including a particularly nasty pan by Variety's Todd McCarthy, an influential journalist.  Under the headline, "Egoyan's Lies Ring False," McCarthy called the movie "ungainly" and "unconvincing" in its portrayal of 1950s showbiz stars, played by Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon, embroiled in a career-threatening murder of a woman.  "On perhaps the most fundamental level, longtime art house fave Egoyan lacks the sort of innate pizzazz to sock over a sense of '50s showbiz at its slickly entertaining apex," McCarthy opined.

Rival industry journal The Hollywood Reporter was considerably kinder.  "Boasting a handsome cast, top-flight design and evocative music, the film should have no trouble attracting audiences seeking high-style, grownup entertainment," said critic Ray Bennett.  Straw polls of critics run by other industry dailies have been equally split between raves and pans.  Cronenberg is next to face the critical firing squad and the scrutiny of a public audience. A History of Violence has its world premiere tonight, and stars Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt and Ashton Holmes are in town and available to stroll up the red carpet at the Palais.  BLONDE AMBITION: Grabbing a big chunk of the media spotlight yesterday, and stealing at least a little bit of Star Wars creator George Lucas's thunder, were actress Sharon Stone and her Basic Instinct 2 posse.  Dressed in a cleavage-baring black dress, and sporting a longer version of her blond mane, Stone stormed the Carlton Hotel for an afternoon press conference.  She was there to give a progress report on the filming of Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction, currently filming in London as the long-delayed sequel to her 1992 thriller about a crime novelist with the body of a sex siren and the mind of a serial killer.  The role of psycho scribbler Catherine Tramell made Stone a star, one whose lustre hasn't dimmed, as attested to by the hundreds of international press who pushed and shoved their way into a press conference and the fans outside the hotel who pressed close to get a look.  She kept the press waiting an hour past the announced start time, and then spent only 13 minutes talking about the movie, which producer Mario Kassar said had been delayed by years of inter-studio wrangling over rights issues.

Stone joked that Kassar took so long to greenlight the project, "I had to beat him into it."  The journalists were happy to sip free wine and to lick ice pops made out of Remy Martin champagne as they waited to hear Stone's description of how she is updating the role of psycho Tramell, which she played opposite Michael Douglas in the original Basic Instinct.  Douglas isn't in the sequel, which moves the action from the U.S. to Europe. This time Stone is matched with British actor David Morrissey (Captain Corelli's Mandolin), who plays a psychiatrist. Two other Britons are the other cast notables, David Thewlis and Charlotte Rampling. The movie is being directed by Scotland's Michael Caton-Jones (Scandal, Rob Roy).  Stone said the ice-pick-wielding Tramell may be just as lethal as before, but she's definitely matured, as has the 47-year-old actress herself.  The recently divorced Stone is also a mom for the second time, having recently adopted a young boy she named Laird Vonne Stone. She has another son, now four, named Roan.  Stone sent a message to all the single moms of the world: you can mix jet-setting and glamour with motherhood: "I've found that you can do it. A single woman can do it all. And I would encourage all single women to stand up and show that you can be these things in the world."




A Successful Festival 'Creates Jealousy'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
- By Matthew Hays

(May 14, 2005) MONTREAL -- It is perhaps fitting to be talking festival politics with Serge Losique, founder and director of the World Film Festival (WFF), just as the Cannes Festival launches. After all, Cannes is widely regarded as the world's greatest film festival. And some are arguing that the World Film Festival has made Montreal the site of the world's greatest film-festival mess. If there is any consensus about the notoriously press-shy Losique, it is that he is brazenly single-minded in his running of what has been Montreal's main film event, which screens approximately 300 films annually. But the last few years of the World Film Festival's history have been especially tumultuous, with government inquiries into the event turning up more questions than answers. Last year, the federal and Quebec film-funding bodies, Telefilm and La Société de développement des enterprises culturelles (Sodec), yanked their funding from the WFF, inviting other players to pitch new and improved festivals for consideration. The dust has never really settled. And while Telefilm and Sodec awarded the Montreal firm L'Équipe Spectra the management of the city's newly formed Montreal International Film Festival (MIFF), the move has spurred several lawsuits by Losique, who claims the event is unlawful in its funnelling of funds away from his WFF. (For the record, WFF is suing Spectra for $2-million, Telefilm for $2.5-million, and MIFF artistic director Moritz de Hadeln and Montreal daily newspaper La Presse for $250,000.) On the eve of his flight to Cannes, Losique agreed to discuss the many trials and tribulations that surround the festival mess in Montreal. In a particularly unusual irony, Losique has now called for a "neutral" inquiry into the situation faced by the three battling summer-fall Montreal festivals (the third is the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma). "We need a Gomery inquiry for the festival situation in Quebec," he declares. It's an unusual request, given that Losique refused to participate in the government-sponsored inquiry into festivals across Canada last year conducted by the private consulting firm SECOR. Losique refused to participate because, he says, he wouldn't get a fair hearing. What he says he wants now is an inquiry conducted by an entirely non-aligned body. "The effort all along has been to smash the World Festival. It's because we dared to criticize Telefilm. Their rules meant actually measuring the length of films in the festival to determine the percentage of Canadian films we were showing. You don't measure art by the inch."

Telefilm spokespeople have repeatedly stated that the WFF has lost government backing because of its lack of accountability. As Losique tells it, this is simply another glitch in the evolution of the World Film Festival, which, if it does indeed run as scheduled (Aug. 26-Sept. 5), will turn 29 this year. "As Yogi Berra said, it's not finished till it's finished," Losique added. Losique has taken his hits before -- criticized for showcasing Chinese and Iranian national cinemas (despite those countries' horrific human-rights records), for an apparent lack of accountability, a notorious arrogance and -- especially -- his terrible relations with those in the local film industry. But these controversies now seem dwarfed by the current situation: In the new year, Spectra hired European festival heavy-hitter Moritz de Hadeln to take over the fledgling Montreal International Film Festival (which encountered its own controversy when its initial dates overlapped with the city's Festival du Nouveau Cinéma). Losique argues that Telefilm is favouring Spectra, and that the organization now has a monopoly on too many of the city's festivals and is attempting to sink his event. "We are not in commerce, they are. They want to give the festival to commercial people," he says of Telefilm's anointing of Spectra. Spectra president Alain Simard is dumbfounded by the remarks. "We offered Serge a position in the new festival. We are very proud of our successes with the Jazz festival and FrancoFolies -- we have been asked to take on the new film event because we proved so successful with these earlier events." Losique brushes off the long-standing charges that he is both unaccountable and too prickly with the press. This distance has led to burgeoning media myths about the man, with Losique being likened to Napoleon or ex-Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau (among others), depending on which paper you're reading. Does Losique think he could simply offer a few more interviews? "I gave many interviews in the beginning. I gave long interviews and when I would read the articles, it wasn't me. One paper called me a colonel after I gave them an interview. I'm not a military man! I'm a man of cinema!" Losique says he finds the charges particularly funny, given the WFF's beginnings. "I didn't want to take on the festival, but everyone urged me to do so. Montreal was suffering horribly at the time, after the Olympics. We were poor. They had tried to run a festival in Montreal in the sixties, and it collapsed after three years because of fighting between groups. I told them that I was not going to do this unless I had complete control." So what is it that has made the WFF and Losique so estranged from so many? "When you are very successful, when you are known for 28 years, it creates jealousy. The World Festival is very well respected around the world." But Losique says he has highly placed enemies, who have done everything they can "to destroy Serge Losique.  "Losique also says he still loves running the festival, declining to answer questions about his age: "Like Marlene Dietrich said, don't ask a beautiful woman her age." And the Toronto International Film Festival's undeniable mark on the festival circuit? "The American critics are drawn to the junkets. Montreal is not about the junkets, it's not a junket city. Toronto is entirely different." Finally, a few more words of defiance before heading off to Cannes: "I don't care about the controversies so long as you have a great public around you. If we haven't been so great, why is everyone around the world talking about us?"




Jet Li Kicks Acting Chops Up A Notch

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
Peter Howell

(May 13, 2005) Unleashed is set in Glasgow, Scotland, but it's not the least bit Scottish.  It has an Asian lead star (Jet Li), a British villain (Bob Hoskins), an American conscience (Morgan Freeman) and an Irish love interest (Kerry Condon).  The shopkeepers and street thugs sound more English than Scots and the movie was directed by Louis Leterrier and written by Luc Besson, both of whom are French.  The soundtrack ranges from Massive Attack to Mozart.  One person's cosmopolitan can be another's chaos. But the bizarre internationalism of this curiously affecting drama seems entirely right.  Unleashed is the stuff of universal myth — there are echoes of Homer's The Odyssey in it — although it can be difficult to glimpse this revelation at times through all the blood and broken bones.  It's the story of a lost child who grows up seeking his true home, as classic a tale as ever there was.  In this circumstance it's a feral child, a favourite construction of screenwriter Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element). As a young boy, Danny (Li) saw his mother violently murdered, an act that erased all memory of her.  He was adopted — imprisoned is more like it — by brutal gang lord "Uncle" Bart, who has trained Danny to be a mute attack dog, the settler of his various scores.  "That's what my sainted mum used to say: Get them young and the possibilities are endless," Bart brags to his hoodlum associates.

Danny is kept in a cage and also on a metal collar, which is released at the moment of truth when Bart barks "Get 'em!" into his ear.  The ritual unleashes a storm of martial-arts violence quite unlike Li's normal screen grace, and that of his choreographer Yuen Wo-ping, but it is again entirely right for the story. This is head-kicking elevated to the level of art.  Since he knows no other life apart from violence, Danny seems content to live the life of a pit bull. But a chance meeting with a blind piano tuner named Sam (Freeman) and his 18-year-old musical-prodigy stepdaughter Victoria (Condon), unleashes emotions buried deep inside Danny.  He begins to discover sensations he never knew he could feel: the sweet chill of an ice-cream cone, the bliss of a piano beautifully played, the warmth of a lover's kiss.  His memories of his mother, a piano prodigy herself, begin to return to him, slowly at first, then in a flood.  Danny decides he no longer wants to be violent. Bart violently disagrees, and on this the movie turns.  "That's what you do," he roars. "You hurt people."  Other home truths in Unleashed are more subtle. Besson and director Leterrier (The Transporter) slide a lot of philosophical content — about family, home, love and destiny — in between the fisticuffs with gratifying ease and satisfying intent.  Jet Li fans might be frustrated somewhat by the middle part of the movie, where Danny is learning how to become human. But Li demonstrates his acting range; he should never again be dismissed as being just an action star.  For his part, Hoskins effectively plays a more fearsome character than he has in a good while, and Freeman and Condon manage to make very likeable and human characters out of virtually nothing.  Unleashed is that rarest of things: a violent movie that makes you think.




Jet Li's Newest Mantra: Make Love, Not War

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
Melissa Aronczyk, Special To The Star

(May 14, 2005) NEW YORK—Jet Li, master of the chop-socky, high-kicking, kung-fu action movie, has a new message for his fans.  "Violence is cool, but not the coolest. The coolest is love."  For this Chinese legend, star of 33 action movies, a Jet Li PlayStation 2 videogame with a "360-degree fight system," and a new role as a caged dog-boy who goes ballistic when his collar is removed, this may be a tough message to get across.  But Li, 42, is undeterred.  "I heard a lot of people say, `Hey, Jet Li! You're kick-ass! You're cool.' And I'm happy," he says, gesturing elegantly with arms that look as if they could bend steel. "But then I think, wow, Chinese people are only known for the kick-ass. Bruce Lee, then Jet Li. Nothing else.  "Action is good. But it's not the only good thing. Maybe we can use a different angle to see action. I made Hero (nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2003), I made Unleashed ... now I am making another movie in China, to talk about my philosophy, my belief. To talk about life."

Is love the new kick-ass?  Unleashed, which opened yesterday, takes this message to heart.  Li plays Danny, who has been trained to act like a dog by his "owner" Bart (Bob Hoskins), a small-time loan shark of the old-school variety.  When customers don't pay up, Bart removes Danny's steel collar and hisses "kill" into his ear, prompting a flurry of flying bodies, broken bones and general mayhem.  But unlike Li's typical martial arts films, where he spectacularly beats armies of foes to within an inch of their lives, Unleashed has Li spectacularly beating armies of foes to within an inch of their lives ... until he meets Sam (Morgan Freeman), a piano tuner with a heart of gold.  "This film is totally different," Li insists. "Usually I save everybody. This time Morgan saves me. How? Through love, music, family. That's the power. This is more powerful than action or violence."  Li's new mantra is prompted by his ongoing devotion to Buddhism, and to a pivotal moment in his life eight years ago.  "Back in 1997, I tried to retire," he says, fingering the string of blue prayer beads around his neck. "I had enough money to take care of my family. I was quite famous in Asia. So I told my Tibetan master.  "He said, `Jet, you cannot retire. You must continue to work. You have to figure out your responsibility.'"  Li realized his responsibility was to use his fame to make movies with a special message — that violence is not the only solution.

Unleashed opened in January in Paris to good reviews (thanks in part to the popularity of French scriptwriter Luc Besson and director Louis Leterrier), but the North American release was delayed by criticism of the marketing campaign.  "We got in a little bit of trouble in China," Li says, smiling sheepishly.  The poster, which featured Hoskins standing with his foot on Li's head, was considered not only racist but also, er, too violent.  Li's family — his wife, Nina Li Chi, and two daughters — are also Buddhist. Once a Hong Kong movie star in her own right, Nina became a Canadian citizen in the 1990s.  "My wife also decided my two daughters should become Canadian, not American. That was Mommy's opinion," says Li.  Li himself briefly considered becoming a Canadian citizen, but ultimately decided just to retain his American status — to the certain disappointment of Canadian kick-ass action lovers everywhere.  If Li's first epiphany was to make action movies with a positive message, his second earth-shaking moment came last December. He took his wife and children to the Maldives on holiday, just days before the tsunami struck.  "That day I brought my two daughters and my babysitter to the pool in the morning, I saw the water come. I saw that something was wrong. I saw the water coming fast. A few more steps — the water came to my chest."

Then Li turned around. "The swimming pool gone, the houses gone, the trees gone. I'm standing in the ocean! Like a movie — wow! "  As soon as he arrived safely back in Hong Kong, Li decided to do something to help.  "Whatever fame you have, however powerful you are, faced with nature, you're ... psst!" he says, flicking the air with his hand. "Half my life has already passed. For the other half of my years I want to do something for the world — to pay back."  Li is working to create the One Foundation, an international relief agency dedicated to helping victims of natural disasters.  "Every time we get an earthquake, a fire, everyone tries to help. For three months. Then they stop. Why don't we just build up this big foundation to be prepared? The idea is not just money — the idea is that we are a big family."  Though this project is keeping him busy, Li has no plans to slow down his movie-making. After all, he is a man on a mission.  "I already talked to Luc (Besson). After this I want to do a light comedy family film. For summer. I don't know when we're going to make it, but it will be very cool. For children. PG."




Star Wars: The Director's Take

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Liam Lacey

(May 16, 2005) Cannes — George Lucas celebrated his 61st birthday on Saturday, mostly on a plane to France, before enjoying a dinner with his family and cast members of his latest movie. Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith, which had its world premiere here yesterday, chronicles the transition of young Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker into the dark masked villain Darth Vader. It is the culmination of the six-movie series that started way back in 1977, and a couple of years before that in the mind of its creator. The Star Wars franchise, which so far has earned more than $3-billion (U.S.), is easily the most successful in cinema history. Its presence at the Cannes film festival is, as much as anything, an indication of Lucas's pre-blockbuster fondness for art films. Among the cast members attending the premiere were Samuel Jackson, who plays the moral paragon Mace Windu; Canadian actor Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker); Ian McDiarmid (the evil chancellor); Natalie Portman (Padmé), shaved bald; and Anthony Daniels, who plays the gold robot 3-CP0, and had an action figure in front of his microphone so everyone could identify him. Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), who is rehearsing for Guys and Dolls in London, could not attend. Apart from a few token comments about "the wonderful opportunity," members of the cast were mostly there as spectators. Nearly all the questions were directed at the empire creator himself, George Lucas. When asked about the political implications of the current movie, Lucas reminded the press that the 28-year-long, six-movie cycle had its inception back in the Vietnam era, though "the parallels to Iraq are unbelievable." But the political inspiration was Nixon and the war. "The issue was how does a democracy turn itself over to a dictator," Lucas said. "I looked hard at the history and studied a great deal about why the senate, after killing Caesar, gave the empire to his successor. Why did the French, after overthrowing the aristocracy, cede power to Napoleon?" An Argentine journalist, clearly a disciple of the Lucas cult, said he wanted to know how the director had invented so many characters, and began reading a multipage list of them all: Wookiee and Princess Leia and Han Solo and Yoda and . . .

When he began reading from his second page, the assembled journalists started trying to shout him down, and moderator Henri Behar asked him to please stop. An amused Lucas finally had a chance to answer: "Well, I was out walking on the steps of my house and I slipped and hit my head . . . Unfortunately, I worked two years on the original screenplay, and it started out with Anakin Skywalker and his two kids. Then, after a lot of writing and rewriting and changes, I wrote one movie that was too long and instead I cut it into three movies. Contrary to popular belief, I never intended more than three movies. I thought that to get through Parts 2 and 3 would take a miracle." When asked about the critical reviews of the two previous Star Wars episodes, Lucas said he had always viewed the project as one large movie, and wasn't particularly concerned if one or two chapters received poor reviews. In any case, he thinks it's because oldsters control the media. His fans, he says, are divided between those over or under 25, with the older fans, "including those who have power in the media," loyal to the older trilogy and the younger fans adamantly in favour of the new ones. "It's like those who say good music was the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, and the other set who like hip-hop." Though Star Wars is officially over, Lucas is not. He is overseeing an animated series based on the clone wars and a live-action series based on some of the marginal Star Wars characters. After that, he said, he may revert to his first love: artistic obscurity. "I was very interested in non-story, non-character films. Just pure cinema with design and camera movement and people, but people in abstract situations. Then I fell under the sway of my mentor Francis Coppola, who dragged me kicking and screaming into theatrical cinema. "Now I can afford to make the kind of films I originally wanted to. Where my future films will be shown, I have no idea, or how widely they'll be released, although I imagine they'll be released somewhere. The DVD market has opened up a lot of opportunities for alternative filmmaking." With almost half the films in competition already screened, there are some notable trends in this year's competition.

Violence and its repercussions is the pervasive theme, internationally and in both the Canadian entries. Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies concerns the mystery of a girl found dead in the suite of two Hollywood entertainers. David Cronenberg's A History of Violence traces the shock waves of violence on a Midwestern family. The bourgeois family that gets shaken out of its complacency is a particular favourite. The opening film, French director Dominik Moll's Lemming, starts off as a sharp comedy about the illusion of civility represented by middle-class life. A young model couple move to a new suburb; the boss is invited over to dinner and his wife (Charlotte Rampling) is obviously mentally ill. An apparently dead rodent is found blocking up the sink.  Austrian director Michael Haneke's Hidden, currently the top-rated Cannes film in the various magazine critics' polls, is about a successful couple (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche) who start receiving videotapes that have been taken of their home, wrapped in mysterious childish drawings.  A more conventional kind of violence figures in Kurdish director Hiner Saleem's Kilometre Zero, the story of a Kurd forced into the Iraqi army in 1988 to fight against Iran. He is forced to accompany an Arab driver across the country with the corpse of a dead soldier (the road-movie-with-corpse has become an international cliché). The film offered one major surprise: It is a film about Iraq that treats the American invasion not as a catastrophe, but as a great liberation. In Bashing, from Japan's Kobayashi Masahiro, a woman who returns to Japan after being kidnapped in Iraq decides to return there, because life was preferable to the brutal emotional violence she meets in Japanese society. (The film is based on the real phenomenon of Japanese hostages who were socially ostracized on returning home). Class violence figures in Marco Tullio Giordana's Once You're Born . . . From the director of The Best of Youth, it's the story of a rich Italian boy who gets swept off his father's yacht at sea and then finds himself rescued by a boat filled with refugees. Class matters also dominate Mexican director Carlos Reygadas's stylized and bizarre Battle in Heaven, a film about a fat chauffeur who is sexually used by the pretty daughter of a general who he is assigned to drive. His wife kidnaps a baby who promptly dies. The husband and wife have sex. They plan to go on a pilgrimage. We are confused. The other most unconventional offering so far comes from American director Gus Van Sant, who took the Palme d'Or for his 2003 film Elephant, a dramatic reconstruction of the Columbine high-school massacre. Last Days, based loosely on the last days of suicidal rock star Kurt Cobain, is eerie and dislocating, and serves as a kind of simulation of the rock star's fragmented mental state before his almost welcome end.  The appeal of violence, as sacrifice, as catharsis, as a thrill-shock, all figure in these films, but Last Days reminds us of its other dramatic purpose: It feels so good when it stops.




Missing Workers? Darth Has Them

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Tavia Grant

(May 12, 2005) Next Thursday, the Force will be with Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda -- the North American work force, that is. Worker absenteeism on the Thursday and Friday opening of Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith could cost U.S. employers a whopping $627-million (U.S.) in the two days, according to one report. And in Canada -- already criticized for its slack productivity growth -- many employers have fully embraced the Dark Side and are cornering blocks of seats for their workers on opening day. "Companies and employers are buying group tickets to be able to give to their staff as a thank you or as an incentive because they know how much of a demand and excitement there is," said Cineplex Galaxy's spokeswoman Pat Marshall. "And I can't even begin to tell you how many people have said to me they will be taking the 19th off work, or they will be sick that day." Not to worry: For those who need assistance in joining those movie lines, is kindly providing excuse notes for employers that can be downloaded on your computer. And woe betide a person with computer glitches -- IT workers are expected to flock to the movie. The Geek Squad, a 24-hour computer support task force, says it plans to help small businesses in high-tech markets cope with the "epidemic" by auctioning its agents through eBay. The $627-million cost to U.S. companies is based on the assumption that attendance on the first two days of the last in the Star Wars film series will match that of the previous last movie, according to Challenger Gray & Christmas, which published the report. "Even though some fans were disappointed with the first two instalments, there is a lot of anticipation to see the final movie," John Challenger, chief executive officer of the Chicago-based firm, said in a release. "With an opening day falling on a Thursday, instead of the traditional Friday premiere, we are looking at two days of Star Wars-induced absenteeism."

About 9.4 million people attended Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones in the first two days of its release in 2002. At that time, the estimated two-day box office revenue was $54.55-million, at an average ticket price of $5.80. Based on past Challenger estimates, the cumulative cost of Star Wars absenteeism for the three most recent movies alone could hit more than $1.2-billion. That's not to say the U.S. economy doesn't benefit elsewhere. Spending on movie tickets, drinks and popcorn will likely soar. Tourism will benefit, as well as shops and restaurants near movie theatres, Challenger said. That boost may have already started. Members of NYLine, a group of Star Wars fans, began assembling outside Manhattan's Ziegfeld Theater on April 30. In Hollywood, line-ups outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where the original Star Wars premiered in 1977, began in early April -- despite the fact that Revenge of the Sith isn't scheduled to play there. In Canada, line-ups at one Toronto theatre are expected to start tomorrow, partly to raise money for a local charity, the North York Harvest Food Bank. Cineplex Galaxy began offering Canadian tickets on-line and at 83 theatres on April 22, and they're almost sold out. (Don't panic if you haven't bought yet -- half the tickets are reserved until the day of the show.)




Cannes Hails Cronenberg

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell

(May 17, 2005) Toronto director
David Cronenberg's A History of Violence had its world premiere on the Croisette last night, receiving rapturous approval from critics and audiences for its thoughtful, well-acted and superbly directed study of the wages of sin for one quiet man's family.  Made in the tradition of a John Ford western and Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, Cronenberg's film instantly vaulted to the top of the speculation list of possible winners of the Palme d'Or at Saturday's closing ceremonies of the Cannes Film Festival, although the second half of the 21 Palme contenders still need to be seen.  Danish director Lars von Trier, a former Palme winner, also premiered yesterday with his competition film Manderlay, part two of his planned "USA trilogy," which began in 2003 with Dogville, which also premiered in competition in Cannes. The applause in this case was far less in evidence and far less deserved.  The juxtaposition of the two films, which both consider the personal and universal impact of American violence, demonstrated how nothing beats experience when it comes to understanding complex issues.  With his latest and arguably best film, Cronenberg, 62, showcases the depth of his understanding of American life, albeit as a peaceable Canadian living next door to the U.S.  Von Trier, 49, embarrasses himself by displaying how shallow he really can be, with a film filled with obnoxious stereotypes and an arrogant belief, repeated once again yesterday, that his never having visited the U.S. makes him all the more qualified to judge and criticize Americans.  Cronenberg is on the top of his game with A History of Violence and on top of the world at Cannes, where he has also announced plans to finally make his long-gestating thriller Painkillers, with a budget of $35 million (U.S.) and due out in late 2006.

A History of Violence is the topic du jour, however, and the Toronto director enjoyed every minute of his day in the sun yesterday — even if rain poured down at inopportune moments.  Cronenberg arrived at a press conference brandishing his own camera, which he is using to take photographs for a Cannes diary that will run in a French magazine after the festival.  Cast members Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt and newcomer Ashton Holmes joined him at the session, but it was Cronenberg's show.  He happily engaged in the debate as to whether a film filled with violence — and that includes rough sex, in a much-talked-about scene between Mortensen and Bello — can provoke violence in viewers.  Cronenberg's view, echoing statements he made at Cannes in 1996 with the even more controversial Crash, is that art can't be blamed for society's ills.  "I think if that were true, the world would be depopulated, frankly. So I think it's evident that it's not true that people just do what they see on the screen."  The role of the artist isn't to pay lip service to any perceived sense of societal duty, he said.  "The responsibility is to the art form. Nobody creates art in a vacuum, but your first fidelity is to the film itself. Once you've decided to do a project, you're trying to realize the potential of a script."  A History of Violence is intended to be "a serious discussion on the nature of violence and the impact it has on society and family," Cronenberg said, but it is by no means intended as an attack on American values.  "The comment on violence is quite universal. Every country has a history of violence. Every country was founded on violence. Every nation exercises its self-determined right to commit violence against other nations and its own citizens ... the specifics are American but the resonances are universal."  He added he wasn't surprised to hear that audiences have been laughing and applauding at scenes where Mortensen's character, a quiet man seemingly living the American dream in a small town, violently dispatches people who threaten his way of life. In fact, that's exactly the reaction the director has been hoping for.  "I wanted them to be complicit in it," Cronenberg said. "I wanted them to be involved in it ... If it's done in such a way that the audience is repulsed and feels outside the movie, then I've actually lost the opportunity to deliver to them the paradox of enjoying something that morally you find reprehensible. Because I'm sure the people who applauded are not people who have killed other people."

In stark contrast to this were the antics of Danish firebrand von Trier, whose continuing critique of American values has lost a lot of impact since he last competed at Cannes in 2003.  Most of the stars of Dogville haven't returned for the second instalment Manderlay, notably Nicole Kidman, despite her public promise to do so.  Kidman had the major role of Grace, the daughter of a gangster trying to flee her violent family and to do right by the world. She's been replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of movie director Ron Howard, who lacks the depth to carry an entire movie and suffers greatly in comparison to Kidman's much more accomplished performance in Dogville.  Set in 1933, Manderlay finds Grace taking her idealism to a town in the Alabama where slavery is still tolerated, despite having been outlawed some 70 years earlier. Grace frees the slaves and imposes a new form of democracy on them, but as the U.S. is discovering in Iraq — and von Trier clearly intends the analogy with current events — freedom takes some getting used to.  Grace encounters numerous problems, including sexual tension that is resolved graphically and in a manner intended to inflame debate, as is the repeated use of the word "nigger" in all of its many vile manifestations.  But both the film and von Trier seem stale and tired, revisiting his oft-heard views of America as an imperial power with no moral compass. The repetition of ideas and the Brecht-meets-Dogme conceit of no props and minimal production values are more annoying than enlightening, as are the supposedly shocking end-credit images of hooded KKK members juxtaposed with L.A. police beating victim Rodney King.  The mental fatigue was especially evident in von Trier, who showed up at a press conference following the screening complaining of political correctness and having been told — by whom, he didn't say — that he must temper his comments.  But even with a muzzle partly on, von Trier was still itching to bash America and its "asshole" president George W. Bush, although he insists he's not anti-American.  He seemed to have support of the Americans sitting on the press panel with him, Manderlay actors Howard, Willem Dafoe and Danny Glover.  Glover was particularly vocal in supporting von Trier's negative view of the U.S.  "This whole idea of democracy in America was built on the backs of slaves," he said.




Up Close With Djimon Hounsou

Excerpt from - By Mr. Jawn Murray

(May 17, 2005) Having gone from being the leading man in Janet Jackson’s 1992 music video for “Love Will Never Do Without You” to being the first African to be nominated for an Academy Award,
Djimon Hounsou has certainly made an impact in Hollywood.  Roles in such films as Amistad, Gladiator and In America have earned him critical acclaim, while the films Biker Boyz and Beauty Shop allowed him to showcase his less serious side.  Hounsou hasn’t limited his career to just film either, having guest-starred in such television series as E.R., Soul Food and Alias.  Next up for the 6-foot-4-inch former catwalk model is a starring turn in the film The Island.  I recently caught up with the talented Hounsou for a one-on-one conversation at the swank Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Jawn:  I heard somewhere you learned how to speak English watching television commercials. Is that true?

Djimon:  Not television commercials. Somehow somebody missed it.  I mean it was mostly watching documentaries on television; The History Channel and The Learning Channel.

Jawn:  What was the most difficult thing about mastering the English language for you?

Djimon:  The most difficult thing was working because I can sit here and converse with you but when it comes to work, I'm always worried about not being heard clearly.

Jawn:  You starred opposite Queen Latifah in Beauty Shop, and she said you were her first choice for her love interest in the film.




‘Madea’s Family Reunion;'

Excerpt from

(May 12, 2005) *Blair Underwood, Boris Kodjoe Henry Simmons, Lynn Whitfield, Jenifer Lewis, and Tangi Miller are set to star in the "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" sequel entitled "Madea's Family Reunion," based on the 2002 stage play from
Tyler Perry.  Shooting begins in July and centres around the infamous gun-toting grandma Madea as she tries to hold a family reunion, a funeral for her sister and a wedding for her granddaughter all on the same weekend." Perry will make his directorial debut and reprise his three roles as Madea, Uncle Joe, and Brian.

*Omar Gooding will take over for Ice Cube in Showtime’s August 10th (10 p.m.) premiere of “Barbershop,” based on the successful MGM film franchise set in a gradually gentrifying Chicago neighbourhood.  Production begins May 9 on the 10-episode series, which stars Gooding as Calvin, as well as Gbenga Akinnagbe ("The Wire"), Anna Brown ("If Tomorrow Comes"), John Wesley Chatham (UPN's "Girlfriends"), Leslie Elliard (Broadway's "The Lion King"), Barry Shabaka Henley ("Collateral"), Toni Trucks and Dan White ("Ali"). “Barbershop” will be distributed by MGM Television Entertainment Inc. and executive-produced by John Ridley along with Robert Teitel, George Tillman Jr. and executive producer and star of the original films, Ice Cube.






Leading Canadian Film Director Deepa Mehta Signs On To Helm Filmblanc Documentary For Crying Out Loud

(May 13, 2005) - Filmblanc, the successful Toronto-based film production company specializing in socially relevant programming, has signed leading Canadian film Director Deepa Mehta to helm its documentary For Crying Out Loud, it was announced today by Filmblanc President Noemi Weis.

Principal Photography of the one-hour program for OMNI TV begins on May 18 in Toronto and features four exceptional women and victims of domestic violence who tell of their struggles to access the justice system.  As important, the documentary reveals the underlying roots of violence embedded in the very fabric of their societies.  For Crying Out Loud also highlights the perspective of the male abuser and intimate conversations between mothers and daughters.     The subjects, from India, El Salvador, Nigeria and Canada, are immigrant women whose stories are compelling and tragic, but also hopeful.   Says Weis of For Crying Out Loud:  “This story is far-reaching and topical.  Abuse knows no language or territorial frontier and must be stopped at all cost.  The issue of violence against women is a global one, and especially for women in ethnic groups who encounter enormous difficulties because of the cultural, religious and language barriers they face everyday. We believe other women will be inspired through these stories and know they have further options.”  

Says Mehta:  “It is both an honour and an opportunity for me to tell this essential story.  As an immigrant myself, I believe I can represent the voices of these incredible women with great integrity and respect.”
  For Crying Out Loud is the second documentary from producer Noemi Weis’s Filmblanc, a new force in Canadian programming with content of social relevance and moral consciousness.  The company’s Gloriously Free, a powerful and eye-opening look into Canada’s growing stature as the world’s safest haven for alternative lifestyles premiered late last fall on OMNI Television and CBC Newsworld’s The Passionate Eye and was recently acquired by premium specialty service HERE TV in the U.S.  The program received its European premiere in early May at the Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester, garnering high praise from filmgoers and ranking among the most popular offerings.   Among the women whose stories are revealed in For Crying Out Loud are Nnecha, a 42 year-old Nigerian with a law degree who fled her country’s bitter civil war and married a clinical scientist with a secret life as a serial adulterer; Janet, born in Windsor, Ontario and a welfare mom who married an emotionally abusive and physically intimidating man whose sudden fits of rage sent her into hiding in a basement closet and ultimately into a  mental institution; Xiomara, who immigrated at 11 to Canada from El Salvador.  Five years later, the pregnant teenager was married to a wife beater so brutal, he caused her to miscarry her second child; and Amandeep, an abused Indian woman.

Deepa Mehta is one of Canada’s most prolific and successful filmmakers.  Among her many productions, the writer, producer and director is best known for the critically acclaimed Bollywood Hollywood, the award-winning Sam and Me and her trilogy, Fire, Earth and Water, the last of which will be released this year in late November.
  For Crying Out Loud is produced with 100 percent funding from OMNI’s Independent Producers Initiative, a $32.5 million independent production fund and seven-year funding commitment created and made available by Rogers OMNI Television for independent producers to create third-language ethnocultural programming.  OMNI’s Independent Producers Initiative is the industry’s first and only major source of funding for the independent production of non-official language programming. 

About Filmblanc: Filmblanc is an international film production company formed in 1998 to respond to the growing need of commercial production houses and advertising agencies to reach into global markets, and to introduce international clients to the enormous benefits of Canada as a world class production location.  Filmblanc has strong and strategic alliances with a number of overseas film companies. Since launching, Filmblanc has produced commercials and music clips for a number of brand name clients, including Chiclets (Colombia), Harlequin Enterprises (U.S.), Tropicana Juice (France), Playstation 2 (Finland), Scotia Bank (International) and Universal Music (France), among others. Two years ago, Filmblanc launched its documentary and television production division. Filmblanc can be reached on the web at HYPERLINK

About Rogers OMNI Television:
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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Contact Margo Raport  Email:  HYPERLINK "; Phone: 416-925-6271




Everybody Loves Raymond, Especially On Its Final Night

Associated Press

(May 17, 2005) New York — Holy crap! Raymond nearly died. Well, not really. But while Raymond was having his adenoids removed, the nurse told his family he was having trouble waking from the anesthesia. A few moments later, the doctor reported that he was fine. But this momentary close call got everybody agitated over what it would be like to actually lose Raymond. “For 30 seconds, you all thought I might be dead,” he said later when his family had told him what happened. A sly smile crept across his face as he prepared to take full advantage of their momentary scare. “What did everybody do?” So went Monday's funny finale of
Everybody Loves Raymond, which, in its own indirect way, addressed viewers, too, who now are losing Raymond after 210 episodes. It was a typical outing, with just a little farewell tenderness — in Raymond's throat after the surgery, which he was nursing with ice cream, and in the hearts of the usually bickering Barones. But just a little. Raymond was a series that, even at the end, wouldn't think of going soft on the domestic tensions that bonded Raymond (Ray Romano) with his wife Debra (Patricia Heaton), his meddling parents Frank and Marie (Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts), and his sad-sack brother Robert (Brad Garrett). As usual, Raymond played his long-suffering wife against his over-adoring mother. “You'll just have to have it done,” Debra said when he told her he would need to have the surgery. “Is that it? That's your attitude?” Raymond replied, indignant that she wasn't more upset.

Marie, by contrast, had a fit. “They want to take a piece of my Raymond away,” she wailed. And although on this particular episode Frank didn't utter his trademark “Holy crap!,” he was as crusty and uninformed as ever. Downplaying Raymond's operation early on, he advises, “Just go in, drop your drawers, bing-bang-boom!” Nine years ago this month, Everybody Loves Raymond was announced as part of CBS' new fall line-up. But when the series was first shown to advertisers at Carnegie Hall, its star, then a little-known stand-up comedian, cracked up the gathering by bidding them farewell. “This is going to be my last year on the show,” he quipped. “We said it all in the pilot.” After an uncertain start in 1996 on Friday night, Raymond caught fire with its move a few months later to Monday, where it became a viewing ritual for millions. Clearly, the audience found its simple concept not only funny but highly relatable. The Raymond pilot set the tone from which the show never varied. When Ray bought his parents a Fruit of the Month Club subscription, his good turn inevitably backfired. His agitated parents demanded: How could he do this to them? All the pressure of eating a year's worth of fruit! And besides, was this “club” some kind of cult? “Like we don't have enough problems!” Frank grumped.

The departure of the show — TV's only top 10 comedy — follows by a year the exits of other beloved, long-running comedies: Friends, Frasier and Sex and the City. With no recent sitcoms making a splash (only CBS' Two and a Half Men is in the top 20), Raymond's goodbye had viewers wondering (and not for the first time): Is the sitcom dead? A chaotic final kitchen scene showed the whole brood at full throttle. But before that, Ray and Debra had a rare moment alone. “You like me,” he told her with a sheepish grin. “You like me, too,” she replied. They ended up in bed, where Raymond had been recovering from his surgery. “And after we get done,” he said happily, a boy-man to the finish, “we get to have ice cream.”




Barone Bonding, Italian Style

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(May 16, 2005) Well, it's all over but the shouting.  Actually, the shouting is pretty much over, too. After tonight, Everybody Loves Raymond will be nothing more than a fond, intensely over-syndicated sitcom memory.  The Raymond regulars gathered one last time for the press last January, just as they started filming tonight's farewell episode (which follows an hour-long retrospective special, all starting on CBS and Global at 8).  It was a warm and riotous and nostalgic hour or so, filled with anecdote and reminiscence, enough to accommodate four or five features — of which, I promise you, this is the last.  But it would be a shame to let the fictional Barones fade into television history without first recalling their trip to Italy.  It was the beginning of the fifth season, back in 2000, a special hour-long episode in which matriarch Marie takes the entire family on a two-week trip to their ancestral homeland. Everybody is thrilled — except for Ray ... Romano and Barone.  "I didn't want to go," admits the actor. "Just like the character, how we played it in the show. When we vacation, my wife and I, the family, we go to the Jersey Shore. She wants to go to Italy all the time, and I'm, like, `I don't like to fly. We have miniature golf in Jersey.'"

And that was all producer Phil Rosenthal needed to hear. "I thought, `There's a show.' We send him over as him, and send him back as Roberto Benigni, after he's been transformed by the magic of Italy and travelling and new experiences."  "It was so exciting," enthuses Romano's TV wife, Patricia Heaton. "It was just glorious. And every time we finished a take, all the women would fly like cockroaches into the stores. And then the assistant director would have to gather us all up, and say, `Come on, we've got to do another take.' And we'd come out with bags of clothing ...  "And I remember Ray and I had just shot a scene, and we were walking back to our trailers, which were by the Spanish Steps or something. And he says to me, `When would you say was the best time in your life?' And (I know) he's thinking back to, like, the Jersey Shore. And I'm, like, `Right now. Right now, Ray. Enjoy it right now.'"  "It was art imitating life or vice versa," says Romano, "me falling in love with these people and the culture. (When) everybody went back home, my wife took me to Sicily to visit her hometown where her parents grew up. We lived that episode. We stayed in her aunt's house. We drove the small car. The goats came up the street. It was an experience. It opened my eyes up."  "For me," says Rosenthal, "it was a confluence of all the things I love in life — to be with my real family, to be with this extended family, these people I love, doing the work that I love in the place that I love with the food that I love.  "This is some scam, to get a network to pay for that."

LOVE HURTS: I have never been a huge Everybody Loves Raymond fan — my standard response to the self-aggrandizing title (which, to his credit, Romano initially opposed) has always been, "Oh yeah? Name one."  But I suspect this was less specifically about the meticulously well-crafted Raymond than it was the fact that almost every other sitcom on TV had become a slavish, brazen clone — lazy screw-up husband, sarcastic hottie wife, bickering overbearing parents, half-wit bumbler brother ...  With Raymond gone, that tired formula has hopefully run its course.  Problem is, nothing with staying power has come along to replace it. Unlike the hour drama, which had a creative renaissance this season, the traditional sitcom continues to flounder.  That may all change this week as the "upfronts" commence, and the American networks trot out their new schedules for advertisers and affiliates.  Starting tomorrow with the cellar-dwelling NBC, who, rumour has it, will be sticking with The Office and moving the universally panned Friends spin-off Joey off to another night, while squeezing one more season out of the flagging Will & Grace.  And, according to the same industry rumour-mill, we may have all sounded the death-knell too early for the perpetually ratings-challenged Arrested Development. Fox ends the upfronts Friday with its seasonal announcements, one of which is said to be a two-season pick-up for the battling Bluths.




Hollywood Takes In The Trash

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By John Doyle

(May 14, 2005) Green Bay, Lunenburg County, N.S. -- In a cottage by the sea on this remote and gorgeous coast of Nova Scotia, two men are putting the finishing touches on a great Canadian movie adventure. It's a movie adventure and it's a giant leap for Canadian television: A rough-looking cable show about endlessly swearing, dope-smoking, uncouth characters is going to become a $5-million movie produced by a Hollywood veteran. The two men are Mike Clattenburg and Robb Wells. The show is Trailer Park Boys. When I arrive in the late afternoon, after a long and tortuous drive -- many wrong turns, and stops to decipher signs -- Wells, who plays Ricky on the show, is standing outside. He's in a little rural reverie, watching an osprey float in the sky and dramatically dive into the water to return with a fish. Soon, Clattenburg comes bounding out of the cottage in greeting. A tall, handsome 38-year-old with his dark hair cut stylishly, Clattenburg is the guiding light and driven, creative force behind the series and the movie. This is a rare opportunity to talk to the Trailer Park Boys crowd. Clattenburg doesn't often give substantial interviews. For several years now, the central characters, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, have appeared in public, but only in character. That maintains the fiction that the show is a mock documentary, but it offers little insight into the creative process. Inside, Clattenburg and Wells invite me to sit with them at the table where they're working on the seventh and final draft of the script for Trailer Park Boys: The Movie. The table sits at a window with a view of the water and that osprey still hovering and waiting to dive for another fish. The script sits there on the table amid a mess of notes, DVDs, coffee cups and cigarette packs. Wells smokes. Clattenburg has quit, is "on the patch," and is so determined to stick with it that he cuts the little nicotine patches into quarter sections and Cellotapes them to his arm. When Wells smokes, Clattenburg taps on the patch to try to get some nicotine going into his veins. He says it's working, and, anyway, those patches cost a fortune at the drug store.

Now that is almost a Trailer Park Boys moment -- the sort of lark that might be a bit of comic business between Ricky, Julian and Bubbles because they're dirt poor but full of ingenuity. Maybe it will end up in the movie, which starts filming next month in Halifax, for release next spring. But few plot points are given away as we sit around the table. I do know that there will be a helicopter chase, possibly to the music of the Rush song A Passage to Bangkok. The song is duly played to give me the feel of it. And I'm told that characters Cory and Trevor will be listening to a lot of Rush in the movie. The movie came about because Clattenburg hired the high-powered Endeavor Agency in Los Angeles to represent the show. A tape was circulated to various American cable channels. A movie deal wasn't a priority, but Clattenburg thought it was a possibility. One of the Hollywood honchos who saw it was Ivan Reitman, the Canadian-born producer/director responsible for such blockbusters as Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Old School. Reitman was interested. Clattenburg was delighted. "I revisited Meatballs," he says. "I remember enjoying it when I was a kid and I realized I really enjoy it now."




ABC Elects Geena Davis As The First Female President

Associated Press

(May 17, 2005) New York — ABC will cast
Geena Davis as a female president in the ultimate juggling act between work and family, part of a change-filled fall schedule that tries to capitalize on this season's unexpected success. A remake of the short-lived 1970s occult series Kolchak: The Night Stalker is also among the three new dramas and two comedies ABC said Tuesday it will introduce in the fall. The network's comeback this year was fuelled by Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and Lost, all of which return — although Lost will move back an hour to start at 9 p.m. on Wednesday nights. The WB network also was scheduled to unveil its fall schedule Tuesday, a key moment for teen trend spotters. Davis stars with Donald Sutherland in Commander-in-Chief on Tuesdays. She assumes the presidency with twin teen-agers and a 6-year-old at home, and a party that wants her to resign rather than take over for a dying president. "It's not a political story," said Stephen McPherson, ABC entertainment president. "It's the story of a woman; it's the story of a wife; it's the story of a family."

The network made schedule changes on every night, except for Saturday's movie and Sunday, which became a powerhouse when "Desperate Housewives" became a sensation. ABC cancelled the Damon Wayans comedy My Wife and Kids and 8 Simple Rules, which soldiered on for two years following the death of star John Ritter. Blind JusticeExtreme Makeover and Less Than Perfect were also axed. But the network surprisingly renewed a handful of comedies that seemed threatened by poor ratings: Hope & Faith, George Lopez and Jake in Progress. All were given new time slots as the network spread sitcoms on three nights — four after Monday Night Football ends its final year on ABC. Following football, ABC will turn Mondays into a showcase for single people looking for love, with a new comedy starring Heather Graham and a new drama about the last man in a group of friends to get married. ABC's other new fall series: Invasion, about an alien invasion that will appeal to Lost fans; Freddie, a comedy with Freddie Prinze Jr. as a bachelor who yearns for family; and Hot Properties, about four women who work in a Manhattan real estate office. ABC said it had ordered five other new series that will debut sometime during the next season. The network also renewed both of its ratings-troubled newsmagazines, 20/20 and Primetime Live.




Scoring The Big One

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Shawna Richer

(May 17, 2005) Fredericton — David Miller figures he is sitting on a hat trick of good luck for the first time in his young career. He wants to pinch himself. And anyone with the barest understanding of Canada's sporting history could understand why. The rangy, mop-haired actor has landed his first big role. It just happens to be playing his boyhood idol, the hockey star Paul Henderson. To ice the cake, or perhaps that should be the rink, the Miramichi, N.B., native gets to shoot Canada Russia 72 in nearby Fredericton, what is essentially his childhood backyard. Oh, yes. There is one more thing: Miller gets to re-enact the goal heard from Yarmouth to Yellowknife, arguably the most dramatic and significant hockey goal scored in Canada's history of the game. Miller's most anticipated scene was Henderson's goal at 19:26 in the final period that lifted Canada over the Russians 6-5 in the deciding game of the epic Summit Series tournament in Moscow. "It's not that hard of a goal," said the 29-year-old, who has watched it dozens of times. "He falls down, comes in front of the net, slaps at it, slaps at it again and it goes in. It's a garbage goal. Even he calls it a garbage goal. "But it's a really big goal." Canada Russia 72, a four-hour miniseries being produced for CBC Television by Dream Street Pictures Inc., of Moncton, and Summit Films Inc., of Halifax, the latter best known for its hit Showcase series Trailer Park Boys, will be broadcast over two nights, in early 2006.

The script, by Trailer Park Boys' producer and writer Barrie Dunn, will attempt to capture the remarkable comeback on the ice that captivated Canadians for eight games that September, but it will also dig deep into the off-ice drama. The series was shot over 39 days in New Brunswick, the bulk of it in Fredericton at the Aitken Centre at the University of New Brunswick, with a few days in Saint John, with Harbour Station doubling as the Vancouver Coliseum. The series will open at Game 4, a 5-3 loss in Vancouver that saw Team Canada booed off the ice and Phil Esposito's televised criticism of the fans. Canada lost the following game, but stormed back with three consecutive victories. Anyone expecting a Canadian version of Miracle, Disney's slick and syrupy $60-million tale of the U.S. hockey team's gold-medal victory over the Soviets at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980, will be disappointed. "It is a hockey movie," Dream Street producer Tim Hogan said. "But far more than that, it is the story of what happened behind the scenes. It is based on conversations and conjecture and it's going to blow people away." Shot with $7.7-million in a documentary style with two hand-held cameras by director T.W. Peacocke (Eleventh Hour, Blue Murder), the series will have a neat, grainy news-footage look. Hogan and his partner, producer Rick LeGuerrier, know that as a piece of this country's history, Canada Russia 72 will be held to the highest of standards. "We're going to be judged by this project," Hogan said. "If this thing bombs, we're going to wear it for years. There's a reason why it took 15 or 20 years to get this thing made. A lot of people were afraid of it. It's a daunting task."

But everyone, from local props master Gary Ferguson, to Halifax-based actor Mark Owen, who plays assistant coach John Ferguson, was thrilled to be a part of its making. Chisholm Pothier, Premier Bernard Lord's spokesman, has a line as a radio reporter. UNB media-relations director Brad Janes is handling the more challenging skating duties for actor David Berni, who plays Phil Esposito. On the set a few weeks ago, as they filmed scenes from the climatic eighth game, with the Aitken Centre done up to stand in for the old Russian Ice Palace, Lord slipped out of the office for an hour to see the set. Back then, he skipped school to watch the real thing. "My mother was home, so she must have been okay with it," the Premier said. "I remember when Canada scored the tying goal -- the whole house went nuts. I knew it was something special." Owen, who as Ferguson is playing one of the toughest guys to ever suit up in the National Hockey League, remembers watching it with his Grade 2 class. He went on to play university and Senior A hockey, and feels a kinship with his character. He was a tough guy, too. "But I never fought off the ice, and Ferguson didn't either," Owen said. "With this, I feel like my stars had aligned as an actor. I've been waiting my whole life for this role." With jet-black hair, bushy sideburns and plenty of polyester, including the white leisure suit Fergie donned at the Montreal Forum -- he seems to have nailed the assistant coach. "That was so hard about casting this movie," he said. "They were looking for someone with acting ability and hockey ability and a physical resemblance. Oh my god, how often do you find all that?" But they did. Actor Gabe Hogan is the spitting image of Ken Dryden. John Breger makes a fine Bobby Clarke. Marc Savard plays his father, Serge. Miller consulted Henderson thoroughly on how he dressed, his superstition of putting his left skate on first, that he talked to himself in the locker room before games, what books he was reading, and to what music he was listening.

But not everyone decided to probe the players personally for their roles. Actor Booth Savage, who plays bench boss Harry Sinden, read the coach's book, researched him on the Internet and watched a DVD of the series, but decided not to involve Sinden personally. Savage has vivid memories of the series and in particular, Game 8. "I remember being pretty excited," he said. "I remember thinking, 'We can't lose this, we can't lose this.' It meant a lot to me at the time. It's going to be interesting to see if people who weren't alive when it happened watch this." Everyone involved agreed that they have never been a part of a film project that was so much fun. Props master Ferguson learned to skate during the shoot. The crew plays pickup hockey games during their breaks. At lunch, the Russian and Canadian actors break off naturally to eat together, just like a real sports team would, without even thinking about it. "I've never been on a set like this in my life," Savage said. "It's hockey, it's all guys. It's a fun, emotional atmosphere. There does seem to be something special about this." And everyone is a little nervous about striking the right tone. Canadians take their hockey pretty personally, and the retelling, even of a tournament long in the history books, will be held closely to the light. "Every now and again it hits you that you hope you really nail it," Miller said. "The potential is for everybody in the country to be watching this movie. You want to do it right. You want to do it justice. "It's a big thing to act as someone who is still alive, but to act as someone who did something so big is enormous. People are going to tear apart every little detail. People are either going to love it, or hate it. I hope we get it right."



Sisters Make Network Power Moves

Excerpt from

(May 13, 20050 *Shonda Rhimes, creator/executive producer of ABC's “Grey’s Anatomy,” has signed a two-year overall deal with the series producer Touchstone TV worth seven figures, according to the “Hollywood Reporter.”  Under the deal, which has an option for a third year, Rhimes will continue as exec producer/showrunner on "Grey's," which recently was picked up for next season; and she has the option of developing new projects for the studio.    "Grey's," which chronicles the lives of first-year surgical interns at Seattle Grace Hospital, features an ensemble cast led by Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh and Isaiah Washington.  *Over at MTV, former VH1 president Christina Norman has been appointed president of MTV: Music Television.   In her new role, she’ll oversee the day-to-day leadership, strategy and management of MTV; direct business development, research, marketing and promotion, finance, communications and human resources and will partner with the respective general managers on the overall strategic direction of MTV2, mtvU, MTV Español , MTV Hits and MTV Jams.   She will also help manage MTV’s new media efforts, with the digital media group, including and MTV Overdrive, the new hybrid service available via broadband. Norman will also guide MTV’s strategy around new business initiatives and consumer products under the MTV brand.  During her last gig as president of VH1, Norman was credited with leading the network out of a prolonged ratings slump into a continuing ratings rebound during the past two years. She has also revamped VH1’s on-air design and overall creative direction. Norman will continue to be based in New York.







Kimsa To Slash Kids' Prices In 40th Year

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
Robert Crew, Arts Writer

(May 12, 2005)
Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People will celebrate its 40th anniversary by dropping ticket prices for its 2005-6 season.  Kids' tickets will be $15 or less — a saving of up to 50 per cent — while adult tickets will be $20 or less, the theatre announced yesterday.  For younger children, the 2005-6 season at 165 Front St. E. includes the return of the hit show Where the Wild Things Are (starting Nov. 7); the Canadian premiere of Bunnicula, a stage version of the popular kids' book (from Nov. 9); The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate by Paula Wing, adapted from the book by Margaret Mahy (from March 14); and Russell's World by Herbie Barnes (from April 17).  Three shows are targeted for kids 10 and up: Duel at Dawn by Glenda MacFarlane (from Oct. 2); Hana's Suitcase by Emil Sher (from March 4); and Dennis Foon's SeeSaw (from Jan. 24). The first two are world premieres. There are two shows for teens: a remount of Ed Roy's The Other Side of the Closet and David S. Craig's Smokescreen (from Feb 27).  More information: call 416-862-2222 or at


The world premiere of The Golden Thug, a new Ed Roy play, is part of Buddies in Bad Times' 2005-6 season, also announced yesterday.  That season opens with the world premiere of The Monster Trilogy by R.M. Vaughan, woven from Vaughan's hit Rhubarb! plays and featuring three remarkably evil women (from Sept. 20).  Bear With Me, Diane Flacks' book about becoming a mom, gets new life in a workshop presentation from Oct. 13). Hysteria, the country's largest multi-media festival of work by women, runs Oct. 27 to Nov. 5, followed by the return of Marie Brassard's Jimmy (from Dec. 6).  A burlesque called Under the Mink, created by Sasha Van Bon Bon and Kitty Neptune, runs Jan. 11 to 21, while Rhubarb! returns for the 28th time from Feb. 1 to 19.  In Gabriel's Kitchen by Salvatore Antonio takes the stage from March 7, Evalyn Parry and Anna Chatterton's Clean Irene and Dirty Maxine returns from March 15.  The Golden Thug begins April 6, to be followed by another world premiere, Sky Gilbert's Conversations With Joe (from April 27).  One of the most eagerly awaited events of the season will be the Toronto premiere of Daniel MacIvor's A Beautiful View, co-directed by MacIvor and Daniel Brooks. It runs May 9 to 21.  A new play by d'bi young called organ-eye-zed crime runs June 6-18 while Sexy Pride: A Queer Festival (June 14-25) will take over the theatre at 12 Alexander St. in the two weeks leading up to Pride Day.  More information at




Jones Takes Us Down Broadway Memory Lane

Excerpt from

(May 13, 2005) *James Earl Jones, who earlier this week received a Tony nomination for his role as grumpy Norman Thayer in the Broadway revival of “On Golden Pond,” told reporters how serendipitous it is to return to the Cort Theatre, where he appeared in his first Broadway play, "Sunrise at Campobello," in 1954.  "I got cast as the house boy on the Roosevelt estate up in Campobello," he said. "I had about three lines. One of them was, `Mrs. Roosevelt, dinner is served.' And that was my beginning."  Jones joined several other nominees Wednesday at the annual Tony Awards nominees meet and greet with the media, held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Broadway. The event is designed to drum up interest in the annual event, which will be broadcast  June 5 on CBS.







Rogers Wireless Presents The Steve Nash Foundation Charity Classic Inaugural Event At The Air Canada Centre, Friday, July 29, 2005

Source:  TRANSL8TOR Marketing Inc.

May 16, 2005)  Rogers Wireless presents the Steve Nash Foundation Charity Classic inaugural event at the Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario on Friday, July 29, 2005.  The Steve Nash Foundation Charity Classic provides high-energy excitement and will bring together an unmatched collection of basketball talent on one court.  This freewheeling, high-flying style of game showcases the players' athleticism in an atmosphere that is charged by the latest hip-hop beats. A number of high-profile NBA players have been invited, and will be announced in the following weeks.


“I’m looking forward to a great event in a great city, and to giving back to a community that has been home to me for many summers while training with the National team.” -- Steve Nash

“Rogers Wireless is proud to be the title sponsor of the inaugural Steve Nash Foundation Charity Classic, providing Toronto youth with access to a great event and the chance to meet celebrity athletes like basketball icon and homegrown hero Steve Nash.”  – John Boynton, Vice President, Segment Marketing, Rogers Wireless Inc.


In the West Plaza, community groups and sponsors will come together at “JamFest” to inform and educate families on how they can get active in their own communities.  Appearances by athletes, music, food, drinks and free entry will highlight the afternoon warm up to the big game at 7:00 p.m.     The beneficiary will be the Steve Nash Foundation, with a mandate to assist underprivileged children in their health, personal development, education and enjoyment of life.  The proceeds from the inaugural event will be dedicated to the establishment of an all-kids, all-access basketball centre in Toronto.  


“We’re so excited to have this dynamic opportunity -- and to have the support of these great players and the Toronto community -- to assist Canadian kids.  The Foundation is a project close to Steve’s heart: it’s driven everyday by his genuine compassion for youth and his desire to help.  And when you talk about improving circumstances for youth, we know that sports can help, activity can help, getting up and out and playing can get it done.  Kids know how to do that, they just need the access.  So this event is about recognizing the importance of kids and their empowerment in the health and strength of all of our communities.  Kids build community.” – Jenny Miller, Executive Director Steve Nash Foundation


On Sunday May 6, 2005, a group of 127 media voted Nash for MVP of the NBA.  Nash’s selection as MVP is a triumph of selflessness, as one of only three point guards in history to win this award - leading the league in assists, with 11.5 per game.  Earlier this month, his peers honoured Nash with the 2004-05 NBA Sportsmanship Award Pacific Division, designed to honour a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on and off the court.  With Nash at the helm, the Suns are only the second team in history to go from a 50-loss season to a 60-win campaign, a true representation of why he was selected to represent the best of the NBA.


“Rogers Wireless is committed to providing customers with access to things that matter most to them. As title sponsor of the inaugural Steve Nash Foundation Charity Classic, Rogers Wireless will provide youth and young adults in the Greater Toronto Area with access to basketball icon Steve Nash in three exciting ways. First, through the Rogers Wireless “Get in the Game” contest, fans can text to win the chance to be honorary team players and sit with the team during the game. Second, one lucky fan will have his or her picture taken with Steve during the game using a Rogers Wireless camera phone. Third, Steve will provide Rogers Wireless customers with behind-the-scenes access with the Steve Cam – a Rogers Wireless video phone that he will use to capture highlights of his day, both on and off the court. In these ways and more, we are delighted to be able to assist the Steve Nash Foundation in achieving its goal of establishing an all-kids, all-access basketball centre in Toronto.” – John Boynton, Vice President, Segment Marketing, Rogers Wireless Inc.


Rogers Wireless is the title sponsor of the Steve Nash foundation Charity Classic, other event sponsors include gigabeat by Toshiba, Air Canada.   Tickets for the Charity Classic will go on sale Tuesday May 17 at 10:00am EST in the Toronto area through Ticketmaster at (416) 870-8000, or outside of Toronto by calling (888) 833-4447, or purchase on-line at Get on board early, as this game is sure to sell out.



Igali Takes His Golden Touch To Voters

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -
By Gary Mason

(May 14, 2005) Word has spread that he is on their street. Now people are pulling back their curtains to sneak a look, kids are running to their front doors with scraps of paper to be autographed, while others pause from their yard work to consider the commotion the riding's provincial Liberal candidate is creating as he searches for votes. It's not every day, after all, an Olympic gold medalist strolls through your neighbourhood. “Hi,” says the candidate, flashing his famous smile. “I'm Daniel Igali, the Liberal candidate for Surrey-Newton. And I'm looking for your support on May 17.” “I know who you are,” says the woman at the door, smiling back. “Everyone knows Daniel Igali.” As they talk, a small entourage of media record the moment, straining to hear whether the resident of this upscale neighbourhood in a working-class riding 45 minutes east of Vancouver plans to vote for the famous Canadian in Tuesday's general election. “You have my support,” she says. “You're going to win.”

If only it were that easy. While recent polls indicate the provincial Liberals are heading toward a comfortable victory, Mr. Igali's political future is in question. There are probably a dozen ridings throughout the province that are too close to call and his is one. Mr. Igali's main challenger is New Democratic Party candidate Harry Bains, a prominent union executive with deep roots in this riding's Indo-Canadian community. That is significant. According to the last census, 54 per cent of the Surrey-Newton riding is made up of visible minorities; of that figure, 85 per cent are South Asian. The Indo-Canadian community takes its politics seriously. Often the community votes depending on how its leaders size up a candidate. The deeper a candidate's tentacles are in the community, the better his or her chances are of getting elected. That being the case, the race in Surrey-Newton would seem to favour Mr. Bains. Except that Mr. Igali, while Nigerian by birth, has connections to the community of his own. When he defected to Canada in 1994, he was provided a place to live by a prominent Indo-Canadian businessman from Surrey, Satnam Johal. It was Mr. Johal who introduced Mr. Igali to the game of kabaddi, described by many as a combination of tag and wrestling. Mr. Igali became a star in the sport, earning the nickname Toofon Singh — which roughly translated means whirlwind in Punjabi. When Mr. Igali won his gold medal in wrestling at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the loudest cheer he received at the Vancouver International Airport upon his return was from a boisterous group of Indo-Canadians. “The Indo-Canadian community is one I've always felt completely at home with,” Mr. Igali said in an interview. “They opened their homes up to me when I first came to Canada. They've always made me feel welcome, always made me feel I was part of their community as a whole. At the door, I'm getting that same feeling.”

There were easier ridings in which Mr. Igali could have run, ones where he would have been virtually assured victory. But he insisted on running in the riding in which he lives, even though it is considered to be NDP-friendly. The riding was represented for years by the Social Credit's Rita Johnston, that is until 1991 when the Socreds were booted out of office. The NDP's Penny Priddy would take the seat in the next two elections before it was swallowed up by the Liberals in the landslide of 2001. What's surprising, and yet not surprising, is how smoothly Mr. Igali has made the transition from Olympic athletic to passionate politician. He's approached the election campaign like he would a major wrestling meet, studying the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents.  He starts his days at 6 a.m. and finishes around midnight. If he loses it won't be because he was outworked. Far from seeking a career in politics simply to put food on the table — after years of being a starving athlete — Mr. Igali appears to be have been inspired by some fairly old-fashioned values. “I owe a lot to this country,” he said. “I am so grateful for the opportunity Canada and British Columbia gave me to pursue my dreams. I believe politics should be an honourable profession. I also believe that politicians should be the servants of the people. I don't hear that word servant used much in connections with a politician's duties, but that's how I honestly looked at it.”

You don't win gold medals wrestling unless you know how to scrap. And in B.C., you don't get to the provincial legislature if you don't know how to scrap either. That, too, is something Mr. Igali understood quickly. He can, without consulting a note, give you a complete rundown of Liberal accomplishments over the past four years and just as quickly recite how the NDP took the province to the “brink of ruin” during its 10 years in power. When an NDP candidate in Surrey accused the Liberals of allowing the community's main hospital to become “something you'd find in a Third World country,” Mr. Igali was indignant. “What a ludicrous statement,” he said. “First, it's an insult to all the hard-working nurses and doctors at Surrey Memorial. But secondly, he has no idea what he's talking about. I've been to Third World hospitals, believe me. We have no idea how lucky we are in this country.” Mr. Igali has been involved in plenty of wrestling matches where he needed some magical move in the final minute to pull off victory. In some ways, that's what he needs to help him win the fight he's in now — a down-the-backstretch manoeuvre that will dispatch his opponent for good.

“Unfortunately,” Mr. Igali said, “politics isn't like wrestling that way. In wrestling I controlled my own destiny, but in politics someone else does. I can work as hard as I can, but at the end of the day my fate is in the hands of the voters.” But our two-time Olympian is cool with that. “You know,” he said, “whichever way it goes I will always consider this a highlight of my life. I've been a lucky man.” And one who's hoping his luck holds out a few more days.




Racist slurs taint B.C. election campaign; Pamphlets target Liberal hopeful Igali

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -
By Jane Armstrong

(May 16, 2005 ) Vancouver — In B.C.'s Surrey-Newton riding, where more than half the residents are visible minorities including both leading candidates, the issue of race has vaulted to the top of the agenda in the waning days of the campaign. The discovery on the weekend of racist pamphlets apparently aimed at Liberal candidate Daniel Igali, an Olympic gold medalist, has touched off a wave of heated accusations between Mr. Igali and his New Democratic opponent Harry Bains. The leaflets, which popped up on Saturday, have the words "don't vote ugly black" over Mr. Igali's picture and "vote pretty brown" under Mr. Bains', who is Indo-Canadian. Mr. Igali, who came to Canada from Nigeria in 1996, spent Saturday condemning the leaflets and hoped to put the issue to rest. "I just dismissed them and told everyone to discard them and told them it was the work of somebody with a sick mind," Mr. Igali said.

"I just pray to God that He forgives anyone who still has that kind of mindset in the 21st century. Especially in the kind of riding we live in, where it's a multicultural riding with a lot of visible minorities -- and a lot of the candidates running are visible minorities too." He also hoped his NDP rival would condemn the pamphlets and publicly distance the party from the offensive material. Instead, the two rivals launched a bitter back-and-forth, with each candidate accusing the other camp of using dirty tactics in the tightly contested suburban Vancouver riding. Mr. Bains’ campaign responded by denouncing the offensive leaflets, but suggested they could be the work of Liberals. "It's an act of desperation," Mr. Bains said yesterday. "You have to ask yourself: 'Who is this going to help? Who is this going to hurt?' "It is going to hurt my campaign. An attempt is being made to help someone other than me. Who would do that?" Mr. Bains did not accuse the Liberals by name of distributing the pamphlets, but said he believed they were the work of desperate people "from other camps."

And he pulled out an anecdote from the campaign which left little doubt as to whom he believes is making mischief. While knocking on doors in Surrey a few weeks ago, Mr. Bains said, a woman told him a caller who identified herself as a Liberal phoned to ask whether she was supporting Mr. Igali. When the resident said no, the caller asked whether that was because Mr. Igali is black. The resident was offended by the comment and told Mr. Bains. Mr. Bains said then that he was prepared to stay silent about the incident -- until the pamphlets dropped. "Now, when this kind of stuff is coming out, it seems to me to be strategically designed that way," he said. By yesterday, Mr. Igali, who won a gold medal in wrestling at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, was as furious at the NDP response as he was at the news of the racist leaflets. "What upset me was -- that they tried to put a spin on it," Mr. Igali said. "Let me just tell you what I would have done . . . I would have called Harry Bains’ office and I would have told him right away . . . 'Listen, there are pamphlets like this going around. You know I would never be involved with something like that. If anyone sees them, they should completely discard them and throw them away and let's together call a press conference and address this, because this is wrong and should never have happen.'"

Instead, Mr. Igali said, the NDP are casting blame on the Liberals. "And that is what was most disappointing of all. And I made that known." The contest in Surrey-Newton is a tight one. Mr. Igali, who was recruited as a star candidate for the Liberals, is running neck and neck with Mr. Bains, a union leader. Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell has distanced the Liberals from the pamphlets. On Saturday, he said his party had nothing to do with leaflets, one of which appeared in a shopping cart at a Surrey grocery store. "Our campaign has checked, we have absolutely nothing to do with it," Mr. Campbell said. "There is no one associated with me who would do this. . . . I can't find the words to describe that kind of thing, I would find it amazing that anyone would even suggest it would be out of any legitimate campaign."




The New Headquarters Of The CNIB Is Extraordinary For Its Ordinariness

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Christopher Hume

(May 14, 2005) At the new Canadian National Institute for the Blind headquarters, what you see isn't always what you get.  For many users, what they get will be what they feel and hear. For the rest of us, the splendid new CNIB facility is a powerful reminder that disability is strictly in the eyes of the beholder.  Though the CNIB has occupied 16 acres on the east side of Bayview Ave. north of Eglinton Ave. for five decades, its former premises were always something of a mystery to the larger community. Indeed, the complex, which housed a series of sheltered workshops and residences, was virtually a self-contained village.  Now it has come out of its shell and taken up its role in the life of the city.  Designed by architect Mary Jane Finlayson of Sweeny Sterling Finlayson, the $25-million building is carefully crafted to meet the specific needs of its users while appearing as ordinary as possible.  Given the recent passage of Ontario's new accessibility law, this kind of thinking is more relevant than ever. The legislation calls for the province to be "fully accessible" in 20 years.

In other words, though there's little about the CNIB that differs from a conventional building, it could become a model for much future development.  The extra-wide hallways, the tactile strips that lead from one room to another, the auditory clues created by different flooring materials, and the talking elevators are not out of the ordinary. The result is more a feeling of openness than anything.  "It took me a day or two to get the rhythm of the new building," says CNIB president and CEO Jim Sanders, who became totally blind in 1983. "Now I can walk into the building with dignity. I don't have to fumble about searching for curbs and doors. I don't need to go searching for elevators (thanks to) the tactile path that leads the way.  "We've tried to apply common sense; the hallways are straight and in the same place on every floor. I need something that tells me where I am. I use a lot of echo. This is by far the easiest building for me to get around. There's a sense of freedom here."  But when Finlayson's firm was first approached, the idea was to refurbish the original 1950s complex. It turned out to be in worse condition than expected and not particularly well situated. The new building sits on top of a small but steep hill that rises from Bayview, closer to the street than the old structure.  "It was a very institutional setting," Sanders admits. "It was also badly dilapidated. It was built in an era when our primary service was to provide housing for blind people. We had a 125-bed residence. We looked at the aging building, we looked at the land we owned and we made a decision. We've created what we believe is a building that combines elements of rehabilitation, business and aesthetic appeal."  The new attitude, as expressed in this facility, is to help the visually impaired stay in the community. That means, for example, a model kitchen where new clients can learn to cook and use equipment safely. There's also a series of recording studios where talking books are prepared and shipped across the country.

Since, as Finlayson explains, 90 per cent of the CNIB's clients have some visual capacity, light is a surprisingly important element of the building. Corners are marked (dark against light) and stairs are easily made out through the use of colour.  "Glare is the enemy of anyone with a visual handicap," she says. "We wanted light, but very controlled light. Much of the lighting is indirect."  Finlayson also ensured that the main north-south hallways — she calls them the "spine" — that run through the building are in the same location on every floor. That makes navigating the place relatively easy.  Best of all, perhaps, the final product is a genuinely pleasant building that has none of the meanness formerly associated with institutions such as the CNIB. There's nothing about this place that smacks of charity or good deeds. Instead it is all about enabling the blind to live as normal a life as possible.  Not surprisingly, the measures introduced to assist the visually impaired also help the sighted. Clarity, space and light are, after all, useful in any structure.

From the outside, the new building is low, sleek and nicely placed within the site. Though the CNIB still owns four acres, it sold off 12 to pay for the new headquarters. The main entrance faces south to the inevitable parking lot; you enter and immediately find yourself walking down the spine towards the far end of the building.  Even the cafeteria is a memorable space. Reaching two storeys high and filled with light from an equally tall glass wall, it brings inside and outside together. In fact, the sense of connection between interior and exterior has been highlighted. Though unfinished, a scent garden will be planted near the north end of the site.  Given the specialized nature of the building, its ordinariness makes it extraordinary. Those prone to feeling sorry for the "less fortunate" will be taken aback to find a place that looks so, well, unassuming. Needless to say, this is what's truly revolutionary about the project.  In this way, its message may be aimed as much at sighted visitors, those who show up bearing a load of guilt and pity about the blind. This is a building that demonstrates just how few architectural changes are required to accommodate their needs. If anything, the visitor quickly realizes that he may be the one who needs help, not those already here.

The CNIB will officially open its new building on June 1, but it will participate in Doors Open, which runs Saturday and Sunday, May 29 and 30.



Comedian Chappelle Sets Record Straight

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(May 15, 2005) NEW YORK (AP) — Comedian Dave Chappelle wants to set things straight: "I'm not crazy, I'm not smoking crack," he told Time magazine more than a week after his hit Comedy Central show was suspended and the rumours started to fly.  "I'm definitely stressed out," said Chappelle, who took off last month for South Africa for a "spiritual retreat," leaving his fans — and even his agent and publicist — wondering where he went.  "You hear so many voices jockeying for position in your mind that you want to make sure that you hear your own voice," he said. ``So I figured, let me just cut myself off from everybody, take a minute and pull a Flintstone — stop a speeding car by using my bare feet as the brakes."  After Comedy Central announced the planned May 31 debut of the third season of Chappelle's Show had been postponed, the magazine Entertainment Weekly reported the comedian had checked himself into a mental health facility in South Africa.  "I'm not in a mental facility," said Chappelle, who also said he did not have a drug problem but had consulted a psychiatrist for one 40-minute session.  The comedian, 31, said he fled to stay with friends in Durban because he wasn't happy with the direction of the show, which trails only South Park as Comedy Central's most-watched program.  "There's a lot of resistance to my opinions, so I decided, `Let me remove myself from this situation,'" Chappelle said.  Comedy Central president Doug Herzog told Time that the star has ``complete creative freedom."  He has told staff he believes there won't be a Chappelle's Show in 2005, but leaves the option open for the comedian's return.  Chappelle, whose wife and two children live in Ohio, said he hopes to start up the show again, but did not indicate when he would return.  Comedy Central had inked a reported deal equivalent to $63 million Cdn to keep Chappelle's Show for two more seasons.  Meanwhile, the comedian hinted to Time about struggles associated with the power and fame that come with that kind of success.  "If you don't have the right people around you, and you're moving at a million miles an hour, you can lose yourself," he said. ``Everyone around me says, `You're a genius, you're great, that's your voice,' but I'm not sure that they're right."




Chappelle, Mos Def Win Namic Awards

Excerpt from

(May 12, 2005) *As Dave Chappelle was supposedly having a nervous breakdown on the set of his Comedy Central show, the comedian was being recognized in Beverly Hills on April 29 by the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) during its 11th Annual NAMIC Vision Awards - honouring the cable industry’s best in multiethnic, original television programming. Starz InBlack will broadcast the show on May 28 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. ET.
While Chappelle was not in attendance, he received an award for Best Comedic Performance, while his sketch series "Chappelle's Show" tied for Best Comedy with TV Land/Nick at Nite's "Fatherhood."  The HBO/Cinemax original movie "Something the Lord Made" won Best Drama and Best Dramatic Performance for the movie's co-star, Mos Def. HBO/Cinemax's special "Chris Rock: Never Scared," tied with BET's "BET Awards 2004," for Best Music and Variety, giving HBO/Cinemax triple wins.  Guests in attendance included Michael Clarke Duncan, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Georg Stanford Brown, Tim Reid, BET's AJ and Free, and singer-songwriter Brenda Russell.  An emotional moment of the ceremony featured industry veterans Melvin Van Peebles and Glynn Turman presenting NAMIC's North Star Award to the late screen legend Ossie Davis. Given to entertainment entities for longstanding commitment to advancement of industry diversity, the posthumous honour was accepted by Davis' widow, actor-filmmaker Ruby Dee.  Additionally, "Sesame Street," its production company Sesame Workshop, and Jeff Valdez, chairman of SiTV were honoured for their achievements in television programming diversity.




Rusesabagina To Write Autobiography

Excerpt from

(May 13, 2005) *The Rwandan hotel manager who sheltered hundreds of people from genocide and was portrayed by Don Cheadle in the film "Hotel Rwanda" will publish an autobiography next year, his literary agent Jill Kneerim announced Thursday. Eight publishers spent 28 hours bidding on North American rights to the property, which eventually went to Viking Penguin last Friday for an undisclosed sum.  Kneerim said she also sold British rights for the book and was in negotiations with publishers in other countries for the French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese editions of the book.  According to Kneerim, the biography is still being written with co-writer Tom Zoellner, an American journalist, and will likely begin with a prologue set in the midst of the 1994 massacre. The first chapter is likely to open with his childhood.  "I think he'll certainly have a lot to tell; the genocide took 100 days and the film took two hours," Kneerim told Reuters. "There's so much to be said about the massacres and his own personal story."  Rusesabagina left Rwanda in 1996 and currently resides in Brussels.






Can You Stomach The Abs(olute) Truth?

By Phil Kaplan, Special for eFitness

(May 16, 2005) A few nights before I wrote this, I conducted my Three-Hour Breakthroughs seminar. As I walked into the Grand Ballroom at the Marriott, a very excited woman ran up to me and apologized for the brief interruption. "Phil, I'm sorry, I know you have to get on stage, but I just need to know, how can I get a waist like hers?" She pointed to a woman wearing a half shirt (belly shirt?) who was proudly displaying a lean midsection.  She asked the question as if she were the only one who harboured this unanswered enigma. I calmly said, "Don't worry, three hours from now you'll understand." I walked up on the stage realizing I had just met someone I'd met 17,000 times before. Let me explain.  In the course of my career, I feel as if I meet the same 12 people over and over again. They have different faces, and different names, but the questions are pretty much the same. There is the over-aerobicizer, the muscle wanter, the sugar-holic, the diet addict, the supplement junkie and, of course, the "waistline hater." Although everyone who asks believes his or her question is unique, the "trim the waistline" question shows up in various forms -- and the questions can all be clumped together.


·  How do I reduce my waist?

·  How do I flatten my gut?

·  How do I get the "six-pack?"

·  How do I get great abs?

·  How do I trim down?

·  How do I get ripped?

·  How do I get rid of the beer belly?

·  How do I get a waistline like those models?

·  How do I get rid of love handles?

·  How, how, how, how????


You have a few options. You can cut calories and perform crunches, try one of the hot new incredible infomercial devices, buy a fat burner or go to the gym and use the ab machines.

Oh, and then there's the other option. Eat right, understand the respective functions of the various abdominal muscles, work the body as a whole and allow for ongoing fat release. Of all those options, there is only one that "works," 100 percent of the time. Unfortunately it appears to be the most complicated, but when the smoke clears you'll find it's the "secret" you've been searching for.  Let's understand why the first options I mentioned will leave you discouraged.  I've written no less than 100 articles about the pitfalls of calorie deprivation as a fat loss solution. The bottom line is, it slows metabolism, causes the body to sacrifice muscle and leads to the summoning up of some protective biological processes that cause your body to cling to fat.  If you want "great abs," that means you want body fat levels low enough so you can see the rectus abdominus through the skin, and while caloric deprivation eats at muscle, crunches do absolutely nothing to reduce the fat in the midsection.


Infomercial devices are cyclical. In other words, one new model or design emerges as an incredible discovery and millions upon millions of dollars are generated by the sale of the product to anxious buyers. Research, the FTC and user experience all kick in to prove that the device is ineffective, and it's pulled from the marketplace. But, hardly a day passes before the new miracle ab trimmer emerges and the process repeats all over again.  The bottom line is, even those few devices that actually do stimulate muscle contraction that might lead to muscular development are not waist trimmers. Working the muscle does not reveal the muscle through layers of fat. It is a flawed approach destined to fail.  The science of infomercials is not about getting results, it's about getting people to pick up the phone and recite their credit card numbers aloud.

You Can Buy A Fat Burner

This one's simple. There aren't any true fat burners. High-level scientists are playing around with genetic manipulation, with microscopic computer robots that can remove fatty deposits and with redesigning the entire hormonal environment, but none of that research is actually making its way into bottles. The bottles usually contain stimulants, many with addictive properties, and the ads are usually deceptive and misleading.

You Can Go To The Gym And Use The Ab Machines...

Doing ab machines is a great way to kill time, in some cases a great way to kill your lower back and is a very ineffective way of reducing fat around the waistline. Do these machines have their place? Sure. Some of them, if used properly, can strengthen the rectus abdominus and the obliques, but that is a very different goal than that sought by most who say they want "great abs."

The Real Ab-Solution:

It's important, before fully delving into the solution, to understand precisely what we mean when we say "great abs." We mean body fat levels are low enough so the tendinous inscriptions that run across the rectus abdominus are visible. Translation, you can see the "six-pack" (which is really an eight-pack).  We mean the rectus abdominus is reasonably developed so once fat levels are low enough, the muscle definition and mass are both aesthetically pleasing and the muscle is functional. We mean the obliques -- the muscles that lie under the dreaded "love handles" -- are also visible and reasonably developed.  We mean the deep lying abdominal muscles involved in maintaining the integrity of the abdominal wall are strengthened to prevent the tummy from protruding.  Now that we understand what we're seeking, let's zero in on the solution.

Eat Right

"Eat right" sounds so simplistic, but it's a vital element in reducing that fat preventing abdominal definition.  The idea is not only to eat healthy foods, and to avoid junk food, but to eat in a manner that supports the desired goal. If "great abs" are the goal, the real trick lies in stabilizing blood sugar, taking in adequate combinations of nutrients and maintaining a hormonal environment optimal for ongoing fat loss.  This ideally would be a nutritional program built around nutrient-complete meals. The meals would be free from simple sugars and refined carbs, low in saturated fat, and balanced with protein, complex carbs, fibre and essential fatty acids. Most bodybuilders, who have mastered leanness, consume a meal every three to three and a half hours -- and in each meal include a lean protein, a starchy carbohydrate and a fibrous carbohydrate... a concept I refer to as "Supportive Eating."

Understand The Respective Functions Of The Abdominal Muscles...

Rectus Abdominus -- the rectus abdominus, as I touched on earlier, is the "six pack" muscle. It is located in the front abdominal wall and is divided by tendinous inscriptions and contained by the rectus sheath. Its primary function in body movement is to flex the trunk or draw the rib cage toward the pelvic bone.  Lying on your back, the rectus abdominus works to draw the torso upward to a point of 30 degrees. Beyond that the hip flexors take over, which is why many of the oft-used sit-up type movements where the feet are fixed in place are limited in their actual stimulation of the rectus abdominus muscle.  The rectus abdominus also contracts to increase intra-abdominal pressure such as in the act of coughing or childbirth. What you should understand is that the "six-pack" is in there, even if you can't see it. It's also important to note that this muscle is used during virtually any movement requiring stabilization of the trunk, such as squats or overhead presses.  Abdominal crunches work the rectus abdominus, but they really play a small role. Unfortunately, far too many believe that crunches are the solution by themselves, and a crunching routine without the other elements in place is a guaranteed exercise in futility.

Tranversus Abdominus -- It's attached to the ribs, the spine and the pelvic bone and maintains abdominal integrity. This is the muscle which, acting sort of like an internal corset, leads to the flat tummy so many seek.

Obliques -- The external obliques are those muscles you can see when the love handle fat goes away. They connect to the line that runs down the middle of the rectus abominus (the linea alba) by connective tissue and the iliac crest, the crest of the pelvis bone. A common mistake in trying to reduce love handles is the incorporation of weighted side bends and twisting abdominal movements. These will develop the external obliques, but will not assist in fat loss leading to a more prominent fatty deposit on each side of the waist.  Because the obliques are called to act in stabilization, balance and twisting, "great abs" usually do not require direct focus on training these muscles. The internal obliques, like the transversus, are deep lying muscles which assist in providing intra-abdominal integrity and support.

In the quest for great abs, exercises that target the deep lying muscles, primarily the transversus, are more instrumental than endless sets of crunches and twists. If you move your crunches from the floor to the stability ball, you get a greater extension on the movement while providing support for the lumbar region. This brings in the deep lying muscles that you want to target.  Another valuable movement is the Captain's Chair, otherwise known as the hanging leg raise, which, when the pelvic bone is tilted so the hips are rolled forward at the top of the movement, asks the transversus to act. Back in the '70s, bodybuilders used to perform both a pose and an exercise called The Abdominal Vacuum where, in a standing position with the arms extended overhead (elbows bent, hands behind the head), the abs were sucked in as if they were trying to touch their bellybuttons to their spinal columns. This is yet another way to help develop intra-abdominal strength and support.

Work The Body As A Whole

Because the abs are involved in stabilization during free-standing movements, it's important to perform compound movements that ask the body to move as the body was designed to function. Squats, lunges, presses and standing curls all have their place, not only in increasing muscle mass and metabolism, but also in strengthening the abdominal musculature.

Allow For Ongoing Fat Release

This is the element that most leads to making the abs visible. Eat right, work the whole body, optimize circulation with moderate aerobic exercise, and fat release should be consistent and ongoing. A little at a time and those abs will shine through.




EVENTS –MAY 19 - 29, 2005




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




SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2005
The Distillery Jazz Festival's Pure Spirits Patio

55 Mill (SE of Parliament and Eastern)
9:00 – 11:00 pm
$25 in advance, $ 30 at the door. Call Ticket King at 416.646.2166

For information contact: James Monaco 416 686 3395

EVENT PROFILE:  DeeKaye Ibomeka, the 6 foot 7, 25 year-old London, Ontario born singing sensation appears at The Distillery Jazz Festival's Pure Spirits Patio, Saturday, May 21, 2005 between 9 - 11 pm and He'll be accompanied by his band: Waylen Miki, keyboards, Kevin Barrett, guitar, Tim Shia, drums and Ron Johnson, bass. Tickets for the Distillery show are $ 25 in advance, $ 30 at the door. Call Ticket King at 416 646 2166.




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




Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
10:00 pm
EVENT PROFILE:  Welcome to Negril … Ontario, that is!  Yes, Carl’s been at it again and has completely revamped his back patio for his faithful Irie patrons.  And now that the weather is warmer, you just HAVE to come out and help launch the new Monday nights on the new and hip patio on Monday, May 9th.  Rain or shine as the patio is covered for our convenience.  The party begins earlier next week – 9:00 pm.  Carl will be serving goodies from his bush grille for us to get some samples from his summer menu – not to mention the drink specials he’s got going on.  A real celebration of summer at the hippest patio in Toronto!  DJ Carl Allen will be spinning the tunes while Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston bring the live music. 




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




The Richmond Lounge
342 Richmond Street W. (entrance to the right of Fez Batik)
Doors open at 9:00 pm
Cover:  $5.00

EVENT PROFILE: Toronto welcomes back to the stage Kayte Burgess for a series of original showcases.  Come and join us for this special series at The Richmond Lounge which will feature Kayte’s newest material.  Kayte's  kickin' band consists of Joel Joseph, Adrian Eccleston, Roger Williams and Don Pham.  Kayte has showcased her R&B and soul singing talents for the likes of Quincy Jones, Mariah Carey, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. She has natural and magnetic presence and a true command of the stage.  We hope to see you there!




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