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NEWSLETTER

Updated:  May 5, 2005


Happy Mother’s Day – yes, you’ve still got time to pick up that very special momento for the woman that you call Mother.  It’s that time of year again for Irie’s Patio Opening on Monday, May 9th.  Check out all the details below.  Also a benchmark in Canadian entertainment history is the 10th anniversary of Fluid on Wednesday, May 11th.  Again, check out all the details below. 

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 11th.  .  Each week Kayte has invited special guests to join her in giving us the smooth vibes of spring. 

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

 

 

::HOT EVENTS::

 

 

Irie Patio Opening – Monday, May 9

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. 

MONDAY, MAY 9
IRIE PATIO OPENING
745 Queen Street W.
9:00 pm

 

 

 

Fluid Lounge 10th Year Anniversary Gala – Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Come and join the club fashionistas at Fluid that’s been providing Toronto with the missing element – consistency and reliability in excellence of club entertainment!  Come and celebrate their 10 years of sexy club life.  Here’s some Fluid history:

FLUID: 1995-2005: Until now, in-the-know locals would describe 3 reasons to dip into FLUID:
SEXY..//..HIP..//..CHIC..//..

FLUID: 1998-2002: Finally, a real incentive to brave the Richmond Street chaos. That's not to say it doesn't take some getting used to!
VIVID..//..SONIC..//..AURAL..//..PLUSH..//..PERCEPTIVE..//..

FLUID: 2003-2005: FLUID: a sharp contrast with other historical venues in this city.  Join us in celebrating 10 years of Nightlifeism. A term that was propagated by our mere existence.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2005
Fluid Lounge
217 Richmond Street West
Cocktail & Appetizer Reception: 9:00 pm
Dancing And Bacchanalia:  10:00 pm
Music: current/classic house and RnB with DJ Aristotle and Adam X.
RSVP by: Tuesday May 10th @ 416.593.6116 or email: info@fluidlounge.ca 
Syle code in EFFECT!!!
www.fluidlounge.ca

 

 

 

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!

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11
KAYTE BURGESS AND SPECIAL GUEST JENNIE LAWS
The Richmond Lounge
342 Richmond Street W. (entrance to the right of Fez Batik)
Doors open at 9:00 pm
Cover:  $5.00

WEDNESDAY, MAY 18
KAYTE BURGESS AND SPECIAL GUEST CHRIS ROUSE
The Richmond Lounge
342 Richmond Street W. (entrance to the right of Fez Batik)
Doors open at 9:00 pm
Cover:  $5.00

WEDNESDAY, MAY 25
KAYTE BURGESS AND SPECIAL GUEST DWAYNE MORGAN
The Richmond Lounge
342 Richmond Street W. (entrance to the right of Fez Batik)
Doors open at 9:00 pm
Cover:  $5.00

  

::RECAP::

 

 

Soul Sessions, Volume 2

Up From the Roots’ Dwayne Morgan gave us the second instalment of Soul Sessions at The Richmond Lounge  with a tribute to Luther Vandross and Marvin Gaye.  The players that led us down the musical journey were some of Toronto’s finest R&B talent, namely, Wade O. Brown, Carlos Morgan, Kayte Burgess, Chris Rouse, Peter Miller, Dave ‘Fingers’ Williams, Calvin Beale and Shamakah Ali.  My type of evening with some vets of Toronto’s R&B elite.  Check out photos in my PHOTO GALLERY. 

 

 

 

::THOUGHT::

 

 

Motivational Note:  If they Can, So Can I!

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

We are what we think about. Throughout history we have seen countless examples of people who have changed their lives and their circumstances by changing their thinking. We have heard about those who have programmed their minds to believe that they could, when all around them said that they could not. They have developed the faith to overcome impossible situations because they put in their minds that it was impossible to fail. Among them are Mary McLeod Bethune, who started a college with six dollars to her name; Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals after Hitler said it was impossible; Helen Keller, who was born deaf and blind; Dave Thomas, who was an orphan and a high school dropout yet started Wendy's restaurants; the list goes on and on. We are what we think about. Think great thoughts and do great things.

 

 

 

::MUSIC NEWS::

 

 

10 Questions With Jodie Ferneyhough, Director Of Creative Services, Universal Music Publishing Canada

Source:  www.umac.ca

In this episode of 10 Questions With... (see www.umac.ca for previous features) Jodie Ferneyhough breaks down the basics of music publishing, gives his insights on Canadian copyright legislation and offers some tips on how to learn more about the publishing side of the business. Currently holding the position of Creative Director for Universal Music Publishing Canada, Ferneyhough's career has seen him work as an artist manager, festival booker and promoter, tour agent, product buyer and warehouse clerk.  He was named Canadian Music Publisher of the Year at the 2003 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMAs), as well as Publisher of the Year at the 2005 Canadian Music Week (CMW) Industry Awards.  Ferneyhough is the current President of the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA), and also sits on the Board of SOCAN and the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA).

Q1: What path did you follow in order to reach this stage of your career?

Ferneyhough: My publishing career began at peermusic as Creative Manager, and I eventually became Director of Canadian Operations where I signed songstress Ivana Santilli and Snow co-writer Robbie Patterson. In 2001, I joined Universal Music Publishing Group and have been involved with the careers of artists such as Sam Roberts, K-OS, Jann Arden, Shania Twain and Avril Lavigne.  I really just followed what I thought was the right thing for me to do. I had no preconceived plan of being the head of Universal Publishing. I just wanted to learn as many aspects of the industry as I could. I wanted to allow my skills to take me to where I felt was the proper place for me. I have been lucky in my life in that things seem to find me and I have the good fortune of jumping on.

Q2: Can you explain in a nutshell the different types of publishing deals that exist?

Ferneyhough: No two deals are alike, but generally there are three types of deals. The most common deal is a co-pub deal that basically sees the publisher (me) and the writer split publishing income 50/50. There is an administration-type deal that sees the copyright owner (writer/artist) retain 100% of their publishing and the publisher administers the rights for a small percentage. There is typically no advance in this type of situation and the term is limited. Finally there is a sub-pub deal where the publisher, for a small fee, would administer and perhaps exploit your material in a given territory. In this instance you (writer/artist) may already have a co-pub deal in another territory and you have instructed the publisher or gone out on your own to do this job in a foreign territory.

Q3: What changes does our federal government need to make with respect to Canadian Copyright Legislation as it relates to the new digital age? Do you think these changes will stem the flow of free downloading that is now so pervasive in the music industry?

Ferneyhough: Government needs to recognize that the creator of the copyright needs to be protected and that the regulation of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) is of utmost importance. Without the monetization of the 'net, the industry and more importantly the artists will not be able to survive. I know people are always down on the industry, but without their marketing, developing and promotional skills most of the artists that exist today or in the past would never have made it to our ears. I don't think we can stem the flow of "free" but we need to learn to harness it.

Q4. Now that you are President of the Canadian Music Publishers Association, what are your main priorities for that organization?

Ferneyhough: I am more involved in the day-to-day activities of the association itself. Having said that, however, it is not as all consuming as that may sound. The CMPA has recently brought in an Executive Director to run our operation. In the time that he has been with us, he has organized an education day at Osgoode Law School and with the help of Mike McCarty (who is on the Board of Directors) put together a Digital Music Summit that brought together the music industry and the new and future users of our copyrights together to discuss our collective futures. We should see more initiatives like this throughout the coming days and I will be involved in organizing, brainstorming and helping to implement much of it. I am also reaching out to other industry association executives to find out how the CMPA can work more closely with them to further all of our collective goals

Q5. What are some of your responsibilities in your role as Director of Creative Services?

Ferneyhough: My most important role is to find, nurture, develop and break Canadian talent. This is an exciting part of my job but definitely the most stressful. You're always expected to be right. You are required to find talent that is going to generate money, not only for the company but also for the artist. They are relying on you as their partner, to find new and creative ways to get their music heard and used, whether it be helping to secure a recording contract, hiring a radio promoter or getting their tune placed in a film. Of course, this is only one aspect of the job. I am also called on to be a leader in the industry, to take part in negotiations and deliberations between labels and other users of our copyrights. Further I sit on a number of boards including, as mentioned the CMPA, the CMRRA Board and the SOCAN Board.

Q6. What are some of the biggest mistakes that artists (particularly urban artists) make when it comes to their publishing arrangements?

Ferneyhough: The biggest mistake I feel any artist, and this to me is never genre specific, is that they feel they are entitled to huge advances. This to me makes no sense. The larger the advance the longer it takes to pay back. This means that although you may get a sizeable “one time” payment you may never see money from your publishing again for years. I feel artists should work for themselves and not for the publisher. It's their career...they need to build on it.

Q7. Who are some of the people who have positively influenced your career and why?

Ferneyhough: There have been a few over the years and they change all the time. I’ve learned to glean information off of almost everyone I have ever met. No one single person out there is completely right or completely wrong. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses that I have learned to look at, emulate, discard or embrace.

Q8. In recent times, what have been the most successful (revenue-generating) titles in the Universal Music Publishing catalogue?

Ferneyhough: A few of the top money-making songs in my catalogue right now include:
- "Born To Be Wild", performed by Steppenwolf
- Relic Hunter (TV theme song)
- "Insensitive", performed by Jann Arden
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (TV theme song)
- Law and Order (TV theme song)
- Xena: the Princess Warrior (TV theme song)
- "Your Song", performed by Elton John

Q9. The publishing side of the business can be complicated and intimidating. What suggestions do you have for new and emerging artists in terms of how they can do to educate themselves about publishing?

Ferneyhough: Ask a publisher, not your friends. I too often get, “don’t do a publishing deal, they take all your rights.” This is the most outrageous statement of all time. It is the artists' copyright that they elect to have a publisher administer/exploit and protect for them and with them. They should also familiarize themselves with a couple of good books (see below). Go to some publishing seminars at various music festivals (CMW, NXNE, Music West, Montreal Pop Festival, etc.) and as mentioned above look for the CMPA to be holding some informative seminars over the coming months.

Q10. What books would you recommend for people to learn more about music publishing?

Ferneyhough: This Business of Music: The Definitive Guide to the Music Industry by M. William Krasilovsky & Sidney Shemel; Musicians and the Law in Canada by Paul E. Sanderson; and Music Money and Success by Jeffrey Brabec.

 

 

 

Davis's Bizarre Return To CHFI

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - William Burrill

(Apr. 29, 2005) Get back to where you once belonged, Erin Davis!  That's right! Erin Davis is baaaaaaaaack at CHFI, the Star has learned, or at least she soon will be. She's already singing "See You in September" which is the date for her re-debut at the flagship station of the Rogers radio group. Yes, CHFI 98.1 FM — the station that caused a near-riot by firing Davis in June, 2003. A shocked Davis was replaced by the team of Mad Dog and Billie, who jumped from E-Z Rock 97.3 FM.  Davis got some revenge on CHFI eight months later by taking a temporary job at E-Z Rock with host Mike Cooper, while Cooper's regular partner, Christine Cardoso, was on maternity leave. This move not only put Davis in Mad Dog's former kennel but also in direct competition with the supposedly hipper and more youthful duo that Davis was dumped for. Head to head, it was no contest. It is a lucky thing CHFI plays elevator music because the station has been "going down" in a ratings freefall since Davis was booted out on the top floor.  The Star has learned that CHFI recently made a deal to woo Davis back when her contract with E-Z Rock expires two months from now. But come September, when the former CHFI morning mainstay makes her second debut, she will need a sparring partner. And, recognizing good chemistry when they heard it, CHFI also lured away Davis' current E-Z Rock partner, Mike Cooper.  In a one-two punch that rocked the radio industry, Cooper's resignation from E-Z Rock was made public Monday, and then Davis announced on her personal website this week that she had made her final broadcast for E-Z Rock, a surprise to insiders who knew two months were left on her contract.

"When the news broke that Mike Cooper was leaving, we asked Erin what her plans were, and we were told that she `has an arrangement in place for September.'" E-Z Rock general manager Brian Depoe said in an interview.  "Given the competitive nature of our business, we chose to release her a little early from E-Z Rock."  When reached at her cottage Wednesday, Davis was still a little shocked at being fired for the second time in three years, but this de-jobbing had none of the trauma of her CHFI firing. "I'm in a much, much better frame of mind about this (firing) than the last time I was sidelined. So ... here I am being paid to enjoy the two months remaining in my agreement with Standard (Radio), as an unexpected vacation. I have to confess, I'm kinda getting used to this."  Now, one of the biggest questions floating around radioland this week was: "Alas! What is to happen to poor Mad Dog and Billie?" (Now "Jay & Billie.")  After the trauma of being fired herself, Davis says she asked that no one lose their jobs on account of her new position and believes her request will be taken seriously.  "My wish was never to be the cause of the same turmoil in anyone else's life."  You mean like Mad Dog and Billie did to you ...  Ah the radio biz. Just like a record on the turntable: What goes around comes around.

 

 

 

U.K. Hip Hop Original Back From Shadows: Roots Manuva Rolls Into T.Dot

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic

(May 4, 2005) To glancing North American observation at least, Roots Manuva is the closest thing U.K. hip hop has to an elder statesman.  With 1999's sublimely spaced-out Brand New Second Hand, the charismatically daft London MC and producer, born Rodney Smith, became the first rapper not associated with the Bristol trip-hop movement to earn international recognition for beats and rhymes delivered in a distinctively British tongue.  Yet after honing his lopsided fusion of Jamaican sound system thunder, smoked-out post-rave ambience and American hip-hop pugilism into something internationally acclaimed as perfection two years later on Run Come Save Me, he abruptly dropped out of sight while a host of younger, U.K.-garage-infatuated usurpers — most notably the Streets and Dizzee Rascal — furthered his popular incursion into a genre once thought closed to all but its American inventors.  Speculation about his vanishing act accrued to such well-worn Roots Manuva lyrical themes as his appreciation for downing pints and extensive pot smoking, as well as concern that the endearing lunacy regularly invoked by admirers of his off-kilter verse might actually have been a symptom of something more sinister.

Still, while there's enough evidence, in terms of both artistry and personal mythology, to posit Roots Manuva as the British Kool Keith, Smith maintains the hiatus can be blamed on more prosaic circumstances: namely, fathering a son (now almost 2) and trying to sort out the stifling details of label and management representation.  "I changed management and I was at the end of my deal with Big Dada," he says from the back of a noisy tour bus, via a garbled cell phone signal. "I was being wined and dined by major labels for about 18 months, which got very confusing, and was just enjoying not having any commitments. I enjoyed not having a deal. I liked not having that pressure of having to recoup hundreds of thousands of pounds or being forced to do shows I didn't want to do. I had to develop a new business model. It was the first time I almost had the resources to be totally independent."  Those aimless months, he says, were spent "being free" and making music: "Bits and pieces of electronica, bits of dub, weirdo, out there hip-hop stuff."  Eventually, upon returning to the Ninja Tune-affiliated Big Dada for another record, he settled upon a vision of the hip-hop producer as traditional songwriter ("One man and his piano, one man and his machine") as the driving ideal behind what would become Awfully Deep, a record that smooths a vaguely G-funk sense of melody and some sing-song choruses over the jagged synths and lopsided "bashment" riddims of past Roots Manuva efforts.  "I was trying to express my inner Englebert Humperdinck merged with my inner Barry Manilow merged with my inner Peter Tosh," he says. "Trying to mash all those cats into one and come up with some strange cacophony of audio exuberance."  While not nearly as confrontational in tone as Dizzee and the encroaching "grime" hordes, nor as rooted in unfamiliar colloquial patois as the Streets, Awfully Deep is, unfortunately, still too British to have much chance of registering with mainstream North American audiences.  That fact is not lost on Smith, who — despite his belief that "people are more familiar with the idea of `world' hip hop now" — has abandoned hope of conquering America for more modest goals on a current tour that takes him from California's Coachella Festival to a Toronto date at Lee's Palace tomorrow night.  "I ain't holdin' my breath," he says. "I ain't got the money to do that. What (U.S. rappers) spend on promotion would probably be the whole of my personal advance budget.  "America's too big, man. I think underground America, college America, eclectic America have always been open to things. But I ain't expecting Funkmaster Flex to play any of my shit. I'm not waiting for it."

 

 

 

Minnie Makes Toronto Debut

Source:  Angela Pacienza, Canadian Press

(Apr. 28, 20050 Toronto — Like so many other actors these days, Minnie Driver is taking her shot at riding the choppy rock star waters. But hers isn't the flashy, glittery attempt we've seen from teenaged actor-singers of late. Nor is she a hard-edged rocker like Russell Crowe or Juliette Lewis. Instead, Driver has pursued the sensitive singer-songwriter side of melody, and has done so quite nicely with Everything I've Got In My Pocket, a country-tinged folk-pop offering. Flanked by five musicians, the Good Will Hunting star showed just enough self-doubt at a late-night gig Wednesday to pull it off. “Thanks for having me in this particular guise,” crooned the 35-year-old after a warm reception at Lee's Palace.  “I did this before . . . so I'm kind of legit,” she assured her audience, a group several years older than the usual twenty-something punksters drawn to Lee's Palace, a dark, dingy, cave-like rock bar.  With her navy blue peasant skirt and wispy vocals, the vibe was distinctly hippie. She's the Dido of the folk genre.

A burning curiosity prompted Paula Doherty, a 40-year-old from Toronto, to dish out $20 to see the pretty actor in her new vocation. “She's great,” gushed Doherty midway through the show. “She's got a good voice. She's got a humbleness about her.” The daughter of a financier and part-time model, Driver grew up singing. As a teen she performed in jazz clubs to earn spending cash, a job she continued while studying drama at college.  She had a brief brush with the record biz when her group, The Milo Roth Band, was signed to Island. The label never released the outfit's album. Driver then started working on a solo record when she landed a role in Circle of Friends, the 1995 romantic drama with Colin Firth and Chris O'Donnell. That job lead to Gross Pointe Blank and later Good Will Hunting.  She never seemed to have the time to go back to music and would have regretted not returning to her first love, she says. “I would have definitely wondered,” the London-born Driver said in an interview before her concert. “I've seen myself as much as a musician as an actor in my life because I've done it for as long as I've acted. I didn't really separate it.” For the CD, she wrote all her own lyrics and music. She included one cover, a slowed-down version of Bruce Springsteen's Hungry Heart (he's heard it and bought a couple copies of her CD, she says) because it was a childhood favourite.

She's obviously enjoying the down-to-earth vibe that comes with the singer-songwriter lifestyle.  It's more genuine, she says. “This is so much better. It's you,” said Driver, who wore her hair curly and much messier than her usual polished red carpet style. “(In Hollywood) you're filtered through the director, the light and camera man, the studio, the publicity campaign. You're not you.” And while she's still reading movie scripts, she's writing more songs and forcing herself to take a relaxed approach to her career. “It's cool coming into something as a woman in her 30s ... to make something as an adult as opposed to making it as a kid where your head is getting blown off by all the fame and celebrity,” she said.

 

 

 

Laying It All Out On The Table: Moby

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Greg Buium

(Apr. 29, 2005) For the man born Richard Melville Hall (great-great-grand-nephew of novelist Herman Melville), everything's on the table: his faith (Christian), his diet (vegan), his politics (left-wing) and his critics. The guru of electronica-cum-pop spilled his guts on-line years before bloggers ruled cyberspace. And even 15 minutes before a sound check, on the phone from Detroit, Moby isn't about to set a serious conversation aside.

What's it like to be an American travelling now?

Most people outside the States paid such close attention to the last election that they don't make these sweeping generalizations about Americans, they just make sweeping generalizations about right-wing Republicans who voted for George Bush. The fact that I was an outspoken critic of the Bush administration, that I worked on the Kerry campaign and that I live in New York City means that I'm somehow exempt from the scorn and the pity that the rest of the world heaps on the United States.

That you were born on Sept. 11 and that you live just a few blocks from Ground Zero must have profoundly affected your views.

I don't know. It's hard to deconstruct who I am and what my beliefs are. I do know the one thing Sept. 11th did change in me, is it made me completely intolerant of intolerance.

You've spoken out quite forcefully on the same-sex marriage debate.

Of course, in 10, 15, 20 years everyone in the Western world will respect and acknowledge same-sex marriage. It's just a given. You kind of want to say to all these crazy, right-wing Republicans: "You're gonna have to give in eventually so why make such a stink about it now?"

As a Christian, you've found this particularly galling.

We have this huge right-wing Christian demographic in the States, but their priorities have nothing to do with the teachings of Christ. The analogy I use is this: Imagine if you had a huge demographic of vegans in America and they all ate meat. Someone in the media would say, "Hmm, it's kind of inconsistent to call yourself vegans and eat meat." In the same way, I wish someone in the media would stop and say, "It's kind of inconsistent to call yourself Christians and base your priorities on issues that weren't even mentioned in the New Testament." The Christian right is obsessed with these issues: homosexuality, a strong family, abortion. Christ didn't talk about any of those things. Who knows what his thinking would have been; we just don't know.

Your new disc, Hotel, has received very mixed reviews. Some of the critiques have even seemed quite personal, haven't they?

Absolutely . . . I read this one terrible review of Hotel in The New York Times. When I was done reading it I wondered to myself, "Did I sleep with this guy's girlfriend? Did I accidentally run over his dog? What did I possibly do to incur this guy's wrath?" Granted, I don't have much objectivity about myself, but I don't think I'm a particularly offensive person . . . But I'd like to meet these journalists. I'd like to sit down in a room with them and say, "Why do you guys hate me so much?"  Moby appears with Buck 65 at the Commodore Ballroom on May 3. 9 p.m. $39.50. 868 Granville St., 604-280-4444.

 

 

 

Lowdown: Queer Eye Songwriters Develop Solo Acts

By Karen Bliss for Lowdown

The Toronto production/songwriting team Widelife, composers of the Juno Award-winning Queer Eye for the Straight Guy theme, "All Things (Just Keep Getting Better)," are working individually on developing young artists.  "If you hear our records, it's really about the song," says Widelife's Ian Nieman. "It's not necessarily about putting a dance beat together and seeing what we can come up with on top. It's about writing a great song and putting it in whatever format fits it best. That's why if you hear the actual Queer Eye theme song on the TV show, there's a lot more acoustic elements to it than just being a club record."  Nieman, a native of Renfrew, Ont., is working with Edmonton's Jessica Ostrikoff, whose songs have already been placed in the television show Queer As Folk. "She's 21 and really talented. She's more like a Dido-type singer," says Niemen.  Widelife's other half, Rachid Wehbi, who was born in Lebanon, is developing Toronto teenager Tacquira. "Great vocalist, great look, really nice person," he says. His other act is Cindy Gomez, who is managed by Forte, which used to represent The Jeff Healey Band and Amanda Marshall. She's "more rocky-poppy," Wehbi says.

Neither knows when the tracks will be ready to shop or release. They're both taking it one step at a time. As for Widelife, Nieman says the remix, production and songwriting duo has "no new material at this time as we are currently working on our own projects."  Nieman and Wehbi met in 1998 and formed Widelife, which remixed tracks for such artists as Deborah Cox, Mariah Carey and Leann Rimes. The duo then scored with its first original song, "I Don't want U," released on New York's Nervous Records.  "It was a big record for us. It went No.1 on Billboard," says Nieman. "That got us on (New York's) KTU which is the third largest station in the U.S., and a No. 1 record for 2003. Based on that, (New York's) Scout Productions who do Queer Eye was a big fan of our song and sought us out."  The key lyric in the song, "all things just keep getting better," was actually taken from the show description Widelife received from Scout. "It said something about, 'This show is not about changing you; it's about making you better,' so we were like, 'All things just keep getting better," says Wehbi.

The track is sung by Canadian singer Simone Denny (Love Inc.).  Since the smash success of the Bravo/NBC makeover show and the release of the track commercially on Capitol/EMI in Canada, Australia (where it went gold), the U.K., and U.S. , Widelife toured the U.S. and Canada, performing about 80 shows. The duo also wrote the TV themes to ABC Family's Knock First and Trio's "24 w/."  Still, neither writer has a publishing deal.  "We have been approached by a lot of people," says Wehbi, "but it's always been a situation where we didn't feel it was the right deal because we look at the artists on the roster and we didn't feel that we fit or maybe we fit too well, so we haven't been approached by the right people yet."

 

 

 

Cam'ron Leaves Roc-A-Fella For Asylum/Warner

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong

(Apr. 29, 2005) After months of speculation, it's official: Harlem's Cam'ron has parted ways with Roc-A-Fella/Island Def Jam for Asylum/Warner Music Group.  The deal makes Cam’ron the first non-southern act signed to Asylum.  "Cam's going drop his album as well as release other records through his Diplomat Records label," a source that wished to remain anonymous told AllHipHop.com.  The move to Asylum could help Warner Music, a privately held entity, reach their goal of raising $750 million in an upcoming Initial Public Offering (IPO) of company stock. In addition to Mike Jones moving over 180,000 copies of his debut Who Is Mike Jones, Warner also recently acquired of piece of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment for $30 million. Cam’s previous home, Roc-A-Fella Records, was sold to Universal in December of 2004 for almost $10 million dollars. Certain artists like Kanye West and The Young Gunz remained on Roc-A-Fella, which is being guided by Jay-Z, who also serves as President of Island Def Jam. Others, such as Beanie Sigel and Noreaga were assigned to Damon Dash's Damon Dash Music Group.

Sources stated that Cam’ron, platinum selling artist, was unhappy with the promotion of his album Purple Haze and was fielding offers shortly after the sale of Roc-A-Fella.  No release date has been issued for Cam'ron's upcoming untitled Asylum debut. In related news, Dip Set member Jim Jones landed a job as A&R at Warner Music, where he will spot new talent for the label. Jones also recently teamed with The Violator All-Star DJ’s, founded by Violator mogul Chris Lighty and DJ Scrap Dirty, to market and promote his latest Dip Set ventures.  “Scrap Dirty and I have been politicking back and forth on what the next moves we are going to make on the streets,” Jones said. “The Violator All Star DJ Coalition has a strong presence in the radio and urban market place nationwide. All the artists whose music they embraced has spread like the plague and with me being deep rooted in the streets; this will be a very beneficial partnership and avenue for me and my music, and product.” Scrap Dirty said the relationship would help strengthen the Diplomat brand. “This can only help Jim Jones and take him to the next level, reaching people in the clubs, on the streets, and reaching the masses," Scrap Dirty said.  Jim Jones’ new album Harlem - Diary of Summer hits stores this summer on Koch.

 

 

 

Sound Check | Vanessa Williams redux

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(May 1, 2005) Vanessa Williams is making a rare concert appearance in these parts. Though she has spent time here shooting films, including the 2002 Adam Clayton Powell bio Keep the Faith, Baby, her only musical performance was a 1997 show at the Pantages Theatre during her first tour.  Since becoming the first black Miss America in 1983, Williams has forged a steady career in music, film, stage and television. Earlier this year, the twice-divorced mother of four released her seventh album, Everlasting Love, comprised of remakes of '70s love songs.  On the eve of her upcoming show at Casino Rama, the Star caught up with the winsome 42-year-old by phone from New York where she lives with her children Jillian, 17, Melanie, 15, Devin, 12, and Sasha, who turns 5 today.  Casino gigs: "I have always been surprised, because I assumed that there are people who are there to gamble who just check in, but are not real fans. But I have been lucky enough to have those shows sell out and fans travel and come to see them.  "I do a lot of my old hits, which are pretty much 50 per cent of the show, and the new stuff is old hits anyway, so people who come to these newer shows know pretty much every word to every song. We do 45 to 90 minutes depending on the venue. Usually, you don't have the luxury in a casino to do a lot of music just because they want people to spend their money."  What's up with the remakes? "It was the record company's notion to reintroduce me to radio in a way that you don't have to compete with all-new material and worry about getting on charts, but do something that would be familiar to people. And it certainly has worked for a number of other artists.

"In terms of the era, I love the '70s, so the hardest thing was to find material to cut, there was so much I wanted to do — but there's always Vol. 2."  Working mom: "The notion that I live in pure luxury is completely incorrect. I jump on the tour bus with my nine-piece band and we share iPod music and 70 per cent of the time we're discussing our kids. And a lot of my kids are on the road with me, also; so, they're at sound checks being taught drums by J.T. (Lewis) or hanging out in the percussion area and hitting the bongos.  "If you spoke to anyone in our group, they would say it's certainly an extended family. We're very low key, very unpretentious, very homespun."  Next: "I've just finished an independent drama called My Brother. It's about two brothers growing up in New York and I play their mother who is dying of tuberculosis and trying to get her kids adopted together — and one has an intellectual disability. It's a heart-wrenching film.  "I've got a deal at NBC for a talk show, I've just finished a pilot for UPN ... there's a million deals that go on in Hollywood, but once it actually happens, that's when you can talk about it. How's my love life? Right now I'm working and I'm raising my kids."

 

 

 

DMB Gets Its Groove Back On 'Stand Up'

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Ray Waddell, Nashville

(April 29, 2005) Dave Matthews Band puts a renewed emphasis on rhythm and groove on its new album, "Stand Up," due May 10 via RCA. Producer Mark Batson worked with members individually to build tracks from even the most basic of ideas. "In a way, it got each of our voices out more clearly than in the past," Matthews tells Billboard.com. "I think we've had tightness on record before and the band has sounded 'big' before, but it never had this sort of natural quality."  First single "American Baby" is No. 14 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart this week. Other highlights include the funky "Everybody Wake Up (Our Finest Hour Arrives)" and "Louisiana Bayou" and the multi-faceted closer "Hunger for the Great Light."  Matthews says the band's creative juices flourished under Batson's guidance. "When he first met us, he said, 'You guys have been playing so long together you get into a habit of reacting to each other in one way,'" he offers. "He would grab [violinist Boyd Tinsley] and say, 'Play something, get a vibe going,' then call me in and say, 'Play something with that.' It opened our eyes to each other in a really cool way."

This led to an overarching spontaneous vibe in the studio, according to Matthews. "[Batson] had this ability to capture us so instantly that it had an element of effortlessness," he says on the line from final rehearsals before heading to a weekend gig at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. "Now sitting around playing these tunes, they've got a giant pocket and are so much fun to play, it's sort of second nature."  Matthews is enthused about showcasing the new tunes, only a handful of which have yet been played live, on the band's annual summer tour. The trek begins June 1 in Maryland Heights, Mo.  "I'm so looking forward to it. Right now we're sitting around playing and it's sounds cool as hell, and I can only imagine it growing," Matthews says. "I think it's going to be magic, a new phase for us, because the groove is so much. We've got an obsession with groove, but the groove is so strong here [that] the room for improvisation is pretty vast inside these tunes, rhythmically and melodically."

 

 

 

Stefani Single Ousts 50 Cent From No. 1

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Margo Whitmire, L.A.

(April 28, 2005) A 3-1 move on Billboard's Hot 100 for Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" ends the nine-week reign of 50 Cent's "Candy Shop" featuring Olivia, which slips to No. 3. Last week, Stefani's single took over the lead on the Hot Digital Songs list, where it spends a second week on top.  "Hollaback" is the latest single from the No Doubt singer's solo debut, "Love, Angel, Music, Baby" (Interscope), which has sold nearly 1.8 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album is No. 6 on The Billboard 200 in its 22nd week on the chart.  The Game's "Hate It or Love It" featuring 50 Cent remains at No. 2 on the Hot 100 for a fourth week, while Akon's "Lonely" spends a third at No. 4.  Ciara has her eyes on a second Hot 100 chart-topper with "Oh" featuring Ludacris, which jumps 8-5. The R&B newcomer first went to No. 1 in September 2004 with "Goodies" featuring Petey Pablo.  As Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" dips 5-6, her latest single, "Behind These Hazel Eyes," continues its rapid ascent on the chart, making a 65-46 move this week.  To go along with his history-making debut on The Billboard 200, Rob Thomas gains 13-7 with debut single "Lonely No More." As reported yesterday, Thomas became the first male artist from a pop or rock group to bow a first effort in the top slot of The Billboard 200 with "...Something To Be" (Melisma/Atlantic).  Reaching No. 1 at all 15 worldwide iTunes download stores the day after its April 19 release, Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" is the Hot 100's top debut this week at No. 8. The song is the first preview of the band's third album, "X&Y" (Parlophone), due June 6 worldwide and the next day in North America.  “Chart Beat” columnist Fred Bronson reports that Coldplay is only the second U.K. group in the history of the Hot 100 to have a single debut inside the top 10, the first being the Beatles in 1968. The No. 8 debut for "Speed of Sound" is also easily Coldplay's highest-charting single to date; its two prior chart peaks came with "Yellow" in 2001 (No. 48) and "Clocks" in 2003 (No. 29).

In addition, this is the highest debut on the chart since Fantasia's "I Believe" opened at No. 1 in July 2004, and the top debut not affiliated with "American Idol" since Eden's Crush bowed at No. 8 with "Get Over Yourself" in March 2001.  Frankie J's "Obsession" featuring Baby Bash falls 6-9 on the Hot 100, while Amerie's "1 Thing" rounds out the top tier with a second a week at No. 10.   Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" rockets 30-12 and is Hot 100's greatest airplay gainer. The title also jumps 28-14 on Billboard's Hot 100 Airplay list.   Green Day's "Holiday" makes a 45-19 move and is the Hot 100's fastest-growing digital track. In addition, the cut takes over the top of the Modern Rock Tracks tally with a 2-1 move, trading places with Audioslave's "Be Yourself," which held the crown for three weeks. "Be Yourself" notches a fourth week atop the Mainstream Rock Tracks list.   Also bowing on the Hot 100 this week are the fourth season American Idol Finalists "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" (No. 39), the White Stripes' "Blue Orchid" (No. 43, also a career best), Rascal Flatts' "Fast Cars and Freedom" (No. 86), Marques Houston's "All Because of You" (No. 91), the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha" featuring Busta Rhymes (No. 95), Shakira's " La Tortura" featuring Alejandro Sanz (No. 98), Webbie's "Give Me That" featuring Bun B (No. 99) and R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet (Chapter 1 of 5)" (No. 100).  Brooks & Dunn's "It's Getting Better All the Time" takes over the lead on the Hot Country Songs chart with a 2-1 move, replacing Kenny Chesney's "Anything But Mine," which falls to No. 2 after two weeks on top. On the Hot Latin Songs chart, Juanes' "La Camisa Negra" remains No. 1 for a second week.

 

 

 

Russell Crowe A Soulful Crooner

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Brad Wheeler

(May 2, 2005) The brawling he-man has a softer side. Russell Crowe, an Oscar-winning film star and accomplished tough guy, has recorded an album with Alan Doyle of Newfoundland's Great Big Sea that includes the just-released single Raewyn, a graceful, Celtic-grey ballad that draws its inspiration from the passing of a friend. The song, one of 10 from Crowe's forthcoming solo album My Hand, My Heart (available on iTunes, May 10) was recorded both in Australia and in Toronto, where he filmed Ron Howard's forthcoming boxing drama Cinderella Man. In that film, the 41-year-old actor and part-time musician portrays a Depression-era prizefighter, a role not unsuited to Crowe, no stranger to the occasional dustup. With that in mind, it may surprise those familiar with his convincing portrayals of brutish, volatile characters (1997's L.A. Confidential and 2000's Gladiator, notably) that Crowe would be prone to (or even capable of) the lamenting, reflective tone and lyrics that the song Raewyn holds.  The accidental death of a young friend spurred the New Zealand-born, Australia-raised Crowe to thoughts of his own family's tragedies -- both his parents had lost a sibling. His father's younger brother died at age 17 in a scuba-diving accident, while his mother's sister (Raewyn) committed suicide at age 21, "slashing her wrists in the bath" according to Crowe's website, http://www.myhandmyheart.com. In a tight-mouthed vocal style that recalls Al Stewart (a Scottish singer-songwriter responsible for seventies hits Time Passages and The Year of the Cat), Crowe sings over strings and a delicate acoustic guitar: "How little do I know of the pain of my mother, if I'm now just thinking if I'd lost a brother." The second chorus replaces "mother" with "father," and on one of the verses Crowe sings that "it's time to stop blaming Jolly Jack Crowe," a conciliatory reference to his grandfather, who endured years of unspoken culpability in the matter of the scuba mishap.

Albums and songs dedicated to the deceased are nothing new, but lately quite common. Widely acclaimed Montreal band the Arcade Fire was inspired by the death of family members for its euphoric Funeral album and, more recently, Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor drew on the memories of his late father for the spare, intimate Seven Songs for Jim. As well, Bono memorialized his dad in Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own, from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, and singer Shelby Lynne's new disc has a track titled Johnny Met June, about the Cashes. Raewyn was the first of five songs co-written by Doyle, who met Crowe by chance at a hockey-awards ceremony in Toronto last summer. The pair swiftly became friends, eventually recording the song at a local hotel, in room 1523 of the Park Hyatt. Strings were later added in a proper studio in Sydney, Australia, while other tracks were laid down at Crowe's farm in Nana Glen. The album is the first recording since the demise of Crowe's former band, the unattractively named 30 Odd Foot of Grunts.  Copies of the completed single were dispatched to musician acquaintances of Crowe, including Sting, who described the song as a "royal gift to young Charlie" (the actor's late friend) and praised a "surprisingly tender voice."  As for the likelihood of radio play, however, Sting said in a note to Crowe, "Not a chance, mate."

 

 

 

Kem ‘Can't Stop’: Single Is Top 10 For More Than 5 Weeks In A Row

Source:
Motown/ http://motown.com; http://www.kemmusic.com

(May 2, 2005) Motown Records’ critically acclaimed singer/songwriter KEM’s got another hit with the first single “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” from his forthcoming sophomore album KEM Album II. In its first official week at radio, “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” was the #1 “most added” song at the Urban AC radio format, and is currently # 2 on the Urban AC chart. The heartfelt song has remained in the Top 10 for more than five weeks in a row, and is one of the “most requested” songs at radio commanding a listening audience of more than 13 million fans.  KEM Album II, in stores May 17th, is self-produced by the multi-talented singer and is the highly-anticipated follow-up to KEM's, gold-certified album Kemistry. The album spawned the sleeper smash hit "Love Calls,” which stayed in the Top 20 on the radio airplay chart for more than a year. USA Today hailed his debut album as a “Motown classic,” while Vibe called it “haunting” and “romantic.” KEM will be performing songs from both albums when he headlines a 20-city “Find Your Way Tour” featuring American Idol winner Fantasia and singer Rashaan Patterson as opening acts. The tour kicks off in St. Louis, Missouri on June 8th. Although the Detroit native rose to national attention with his poignant love songs, his personal story is one of victory and triumph: KEM was once homeless, struggling to support himself and his family by waiting tables and singing Top 40 cover songs for weddings. Once he got on his feet, he independently financed and released his first album before signing with Motown Records in 2002. In addition to the tour dates, fans can catch KEM’s performances on The Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise May 29 – June 5 and at the Essence Music Festival (main stage) in New Orleans on July 3rd.

 

 

 

Mike Jones’ Debut ‘Who Is Mike Jones?’ Lands In The Top 5 Of The Billboard 200 Chart

Sources: Tremedia, Tresa Sanders, 845.623.2325 / tre@tre-media.net Warner Bros., Luke Burland, 615.214.1490 / luke.burland@wbr.com. www.tre-media.net www.wbr.com

(May 3, 2005) Houston-based rapper Mike Jones makes an impressive debut landing in the Top 5 of Billboard’s 200 Chart at #3, just under Rob Thomas and Mariah Carey respectively, with his Warner Bros./Asylum/SwishaHouse release of “Who Is Mike Jones?”. The CD sold more than 60,000 units its first day of release and topped out at more than 180,000 at the end of the first week. The CD is also #1 on Billboards “Top Rap” and “Top R&B/Hip Hop” charts as well as having served as the #1 CD on Apple itunes. The first single from this talented marketing wiz/rapper “Still Tippin’,” featuring label-mate Paul Wall and Slim Thug, has already garnered an audience of more than 27 million at radio and continues to be in heavy rotation at BET and MTV2. Close to 2 million people are file trading “Still Tippin’” online with the new single “Back Then” quickly seeing a similar pattern with the file swapping phenomenon online. Produced by the same hit-making team that delivered the debut single, “Still Tippin’,” (SwishaHouse head Michael K. Watts and Silah Williams) and with early online trading detections, “Back Then,” promises to deliver as big a bang as “Still Tippin’.” The video clip shot by Dr. Teeth debuts on MTV2 and BET next week.  “Who is Mike Jones?” boasts production by the aforementioned Michael K. Watts and Silah Williams as well as Memphis-based famed producers DJ Paul and Juicy J, and a host of up and coming production talent. Guest appearances on the disc include rhymes by Bun B, Lil’ Keke and of course, Paul Wall and Slim Thug. Hip hop heavy hitter Mike Jones, who began rapping in 2001, has gone from a fledgling rapper struggling to get his records in rotation to one of the most well known game spitters on the southern underground to chart-topping artist. Mike Jones gained fame on more than two dozen now legendary SwishaHouse "screwed-up" mix tapes by constantly repeating his name throughout his rhymes and hooks then following with the question "Who?" You can catch Mike Jones performing on BET “Spring Bling” on April 28. Jones is also currently on tour doing dates across the country.

 

 

 

Bow Wow’s A ‘Wanted’ Man

Source: www.BowWowWanted.com; www.columbiarecords.com

(May 4, 2005) Rap icon Bow Wow has recently finished work on "Let Me Hold You," the first single from Wanted, the eagerly-awaited successor to Bow Wow's 2003 bestselling Unleashed. Produced by superstar hitmaker Jermaine Dupri, "Let Me Hold You" is a collaboration with Bow Wow's fellow hip-hop heartthrob Omarion, whose first solo album, O (Sony Urban Music / Epic), debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 at the beginning of March 2005. Fans can check out Bow Wow, Omarion and Jermaine Dupri in the studio cutting the smash hit "Let Me Hold You" via an exclusive online video at http://www.bowwowwanted.com . Bow Wow and Omarion will join forces on the upcoming "Scream Tour IV Presents: The Heart Throb Tour," sure to be yet another arena-packed chapter in the history of the "Scream Tour" series (details TBA). 2005 is shaping up to be a very big year for Bow Wow with his hotly-anticipated new album, Wanted, slated for release in early July. Come this fall, Bow Wow is scheduled to light up both the big screen and small with a starring role in the feature film, "Roll Bounce," a teenage skater-dramedy set in the late 1970s, and his very own television sitcom, "Bow," scheduled to air on the WB. Bow Wow first burst on the scene back in 2000 -- under the wing of super producer Jermaine Dupri -- with his debut album, Beware of Dog, which went on to sell more than three million copies while solidifying his status as an authentic hip-hop heartthrob. Bow Wow took his brand of rap to the next level with 2001's Doggy Bag, hitting the road in support of his multi-platinum sophomore CD with the sold-out "Scream Tour II," wowing fans all over the country with hits like "Take Ya Home" and "Thank You."

Bow Wow's undeniable star power led to starring roles in the box office triumph "Like Mike" (one of the 50 Top-Grossing films of 2002) and the subsequent hits "All About The Benjamins" (2002) and "Johnson Family Vacation" (2004). With his third album, 2003's Unleashed, Bow Wow became more directly involved with writing and producing his music, creating a collection directly from the heart, conveying a more personal overview of life from Bow Wow's perspective. He is the youngest musician to open the Grammy Awards, is the first "kid" to be included in Vanity Fair's prestigious annual music issue (October 2001), and entered the "The Guinness Book of World Records" as the youngest solo rapper to hit #1 on the U.S. charts. Having recently turned 18, with several hit singles, platinum-plus albums, sold-out tours, starring roles in hit films, and a place in "The Guinness Book of World Records" already on his resume, Bow Wow continues to prove that he's the 100% real deal with the indisputable goods: a bona fide teen superstar blessed with burgeoning talent, tenacity, and a deep connection to his audience. Omarion's career is currently ablaze with a # 1 chart topping album, a radio favourite single, "O," and his latest smoking hot single release, "Touch."

The music video for "Touch" has already debuted on BET 106 & Park and is following in the large footsteps of "O." Born and raised in Inglewood, California, Omarion rose to fame while still a teen as a member of the groundbreaking urban "boy band" B2K. His soulful vocals and undeniable charisma helped B2K score a hit with the group's very first single, "Uh Huh," in 2001; achieve gold status with the group's self-titled debut album in 2002; and go RIAA platinum with the group's best-selling sophomore outing, Pandemonium! in 2003. Omarion's undeniable media geniality has led to numerous television guest appearances including "Punk'd," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and "Soul Train." In addition to his musical performances, Omarion has acted on the big screen with key roles in "You Got Served" and "Fat Albert." Currently in production, Omarion's latest film venture, "The House," is an innovative horror film directed by Chris Stokes. A solid collaboration between two bona-fide superstar performers, "Let Me Hold You" is as hip as it is infectious. The music video for "Let Me Hold You," directed by Grammy award winner Bryan Barber, is destined to place Bow back on his throne as the self proclaimed "King of '106 & Park.'" A nicely crafted song that's a great fit for ladies and the fellas who love them, "Let Me Hold You" promises to be the jam of the summer.

 

 

 

Hip Hop Appreciation Week (May 15-22)

Source:  www.umac.ca

Founded by Hip Hop icon KRS-One, "Hip Hop Appreciation Week" is celebrated every third week of May. 2005 marks the 8th anniversary of this celebration of Hip Hop culture. KRS-One says, "This year’s Hip Hop Appreciation Week will be a time set aside for all true Hiphoppas to meditate upon the question of freedom. Are we really free? What does it take to be free? What does freedom mean to us? Is freedom even important to us? Even beyond the concept of freedom for political or social point of view, spiritual point of view rooted in the universal desire to be unrestrained and fully developed."  Check out www.templeofhiphop.org for more info!

 

 

 

Vancouver Jazz Festival In Thrall To Krall

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller

(Apr. 29, 2005) Toronto -- The Vancouver International Jazz Festival celebrates its 20th year, June 24 to July 3, with a typically wide-ranging line-up that gives prominence to Canadian singer and pianist Diana Krall on one hand and the all-star British avant-gardists of the Dedication Orchestra on the other. The program will include concerts by singers Dianne Reeves, Cesaria Evora, Mavis Staples and Daniel Lanois, as well as the bands of pianist Bill Charlap, drummer Roy Haynes, bassist Dave Holland, guitarist Bill Frisell, trumpeters Arturo Sandoval and Terence Blanchard, and saxophonists Evan Parker, Jane Bunnett and Roscoe Mitchell. Krall will do two shows, June 24 and 25, while the Dedication Orchestra, which was organized in 1992 to honour the South African legacy in contemporary British jazz, performs on July 2 and 3, sharing the second date with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

 

 

 

War, What Is It Good For? A Concert Gig In Ottawa

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Apr. 29, 2005) Toronto -- War was declared in Ottawa. The seventies pop-funk band, known the hit Cisco Kid, has been announced as one of the headliners of the Cisco System Bluesfest. Other main stage acts for the 12th-annual Ottawa pop and blues festival include folkie John Prine, neo-soul singer India.Arie, Kid Rock and bluegrass-pop act Alison Krauss & Union Station. Canadian performers include hip-hop star k-os, Daniel Lanois and alternative bands Stars and Broken Social Scene. Prominent blues performers include guitarist Johnny Winter, Magic Slim and B.C.'s David Gogo. Staff

 

 

 

Jazz Lovers Can Exercise Their High-Tech Franchise

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller

(Apr. 29, 2005) Toronto -- Voting has begun on-line for the fourth annual National Jazz Awards, which honour the achievements of musicians on the Canadian scene. More than 190 nominees in 24 performance, recording and jazz industry categories have been posted at http://www.nationaljazzawards.com. Voting, which is open to the public, continues until June 1. Winners will be announced on June 21 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto.

 

 

 

New Edition Says They'd Welcome Back Troubled Singer Bobby Brown

By Karen Bliss for Lowdown

NEW YORK (AP) - Bobby Brown's old group, New Edition, says they would welcome back the troubled singer. "No matter what, we love that brother," Ricky Bell said recently. "I mean, this is for real; this is no politically correct answer or anything like that. The door is open for him."  After forming as a Jackson Five-style R and B group in the early '80s, New Edition's hits included Candy Girl and Cool It Now. Brown left for a solo career in 1986, though New Edition reunited for a short-lived comeback in 1996.  Brown, who married Whitney Houston in 1992, took off with singles such as Don't Be Cruel. But he progressively became known more for his drug and alcohol arrests.  Bell says that even in his New Edition days, Brown's troubles were evident.  "It wasn't something he was trying to hide," Bell says. "You'd see the mood swings and the change in attitude."  But Bell adds that when Brown wasn't drinking, "We (would) see that he's a sharp individual, a talented individual, a family man."  Brown, 36, will be the subject of a new eight-episode reality TV show, Being Bobby Brown, that will debut on Bravo June 30.  The show will also feature Houston, who has had problems of her own. In March, the 41-year-old singer checked herself into a rehabilitation centre for the second time in a year.

 

 

 

Diddy, Pitbull Form Latin Label

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 29, 2005) *P. Diddy has expanded his empire into the world of Latin music with the new label “Bad Boy Latino,” a joint venture with Cuban-American Miami rapper Pitbull. Both toasted the new partnership with a party Wednesday night at Miami's Bongos Cuban Café. ''It's gonna focus on Latin artists and the fusion of what I do marketing-wise . . . to embrace the movement and take it to the next level,'' Diddy told the “Miami Herald.”  Bad Boy Latino will have offices in Miami and New York, and will house Latin rap artists, as well as acts in Latin soul and tropical music. ''With Puffy involved, it helps our movement,'' said Pitbull, whose duties will include the signing of artists, marketing and running the label. ''Whether people see it as him jumping on what's hot -- I see it as someone with vision who sees where music is going.'' 

 

 

 

Roots On Tour

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 29, 2005) *The Roots are targeting Feb 2006 as a release date for their next Geffen studio album “Game Theory,” according to "Billboard."  The project will likely feature a collabo with Black Star's Mos Def and Talib Kweli called "Where I Come" and a track with just Mos Def, "Workin' on It." Drummer ?uestlove tells the trade: “We’re about 60% finished” with the new album.   In the meantime, the Roots will hit the road for a spring/summer tour; some dates will feature Floetry as the opening act. Here’s the tour itinerary:

April 29: Bridgeport, Conn. (Fairfield University)
April 30: Washington, Pa. (Washington & Jefferson University)
May 1: Memphis (Tom Lee Park)
May 16: Philadelphia (Electric Factory; w/ Floetry)
May 18: Boston (Roxy; w/ Floetry)
May 20: Cleveland (House of Blues; w/ Floetry)
May 21: Columbus, Ohio (Ohio State University; w/ Floetry)
May 23: Detroit (Royal Oak Theatre; w/ Floetry)
May 26: Milwaukee (the Rave; w/ Floetry)
May 28: Chicago (Vic Theatre; w/ Floetry)
May 30: St. Louis (Pageant; w/ Floetry)
June 2: Atlanta (Tabernacle; w/ Floetry)
June 4: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Revolution; w/ Floetry)
June 6: New Orleans (House of Blues; w/ Floetry)
June 8: Houston (Hush; w/ Floetry)
June 11: Dallas (Gypsy Tea Room)
June 15: San Francisco (the Grand; w/ Floetry)
July 1: New Orleans (Essence Festival)
Aug. 23: London (Shepherd's Bush Empire)

 

 

 

Will & Jada to host BET Awards

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 29, 2005) *Will and Jada Pinkett Smith will host the live telecast of BET Awards, to be broadcast live from Hollywood’s Kodak Theater on June 28. Denzel and Pauletta Washington will receive BET’s Humanitarian Award, and Gladys Knight will be honoured for Lifetime Achievement. Nominations will be announced on Monday, May 16. Tickets are available beginning May 10 at the Kodak Theatre Box Office (323/308-6300), Ticketmaster outlets and on www.ticketmaster.com. General information is available at www.bet.com.

 

 

 

2005 Rochester Musicfest Boasts Lineup Of Faith Evans, Brian McKnight, John Legend, & More

Source: www.rochestermusicfest.com

(Apr. 29, 2005) The 2005 Rochester MusicFest, July 16-17, brings 12 leading national R&B performers to Genesee Valley Park. This year’s headliners include four artists with albums in the Billboard Top 20, the performer with the number two R&B album, and a group that has sold more than 60 million albums.  The 2005 Rochester MusicFest line-up features Nina Sky, Jagged Edge, 112, Ciara, John Legend, and Boyz II Men on Saturday, July 16 and Fatty Koo, Raheem DeVaughn, Common, Faith Evans, and Brian McKnight among others on Sunday, July 17. In addition to national entertainers, the 2005 Rochester MusicFest will serve as a showcase for regional acts. Artists from Rochester and Buffalo, selected through “Battle of the Bands” contests sponsored by WDKX-FM and WBLK-FM, will open the festival on both days.   Tickets for MusicFest can be purchased at the Blue Cross Arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets, online at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at (585) 232-1900. Ticket prices, which include a $49 weekend pass, remain the same as last year.  “Rochester MusicFest provides outstanding national artists at an affordable price, enriching Rochester’s culture and community as well as making a positive impact on travel and tourism to the Greater Rochester region,” said Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr., City of Rochester. “This year we’re partnering with AKWAABA: the Heritage Associates, Inc. Underground Railroad Tours to offer group tours the opportunity to experience Rochester’s rich heritage with the Underground Railroad, as well as over 12 hours of music from top performers, as part of a special weekend package.” The three-day itinerary with AKWAABA: the Heritage Associates, Inc. Underground Railroad Tours begins Friday, July 15 with a tour of Rochester’s Underground Railroad sites and carries over into Saturday, July 16, and Sunday, July 17, with hours of continuous R&B at MusicFest. More information on the group tour package can be found at www.rochestermusicfest.com/grouptours.html. Sponsors and partners to date for the 2005 Rochester MusicFest include RG&E, New York State Assembly Member David Gantt, the RIT Inn & Conference Center, WDKX-FM, WBLK-FM, and Time Warner Cable of Rochester.

 

 

 

Super Cat No Longer With Star Track

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson / MYfeedback@eurweb.com

(Apr. 28, 2005) One time prolific dancehall/reggae toaster Super Cat, who signed with the Neptunes’ Star Track label a few years ago, has reportedly parted ways with the label. Super Cat is said to be working on new material for a forthcoming major release. On the weekend, Super Cat performed at Club Amazuru in New York with the Grammy Kid, Shabba Ranks.   Super Cat was signed to SONY Music in the 1990's. He hit the Billboard charts with songs including “Dolly My Baby,” “Ghetto Red Hot,” “Fly” (with Sugar Ray) and “Alright” with Kris Kross.

 

 

 

Pras Working On New Album, Film

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Mike Winslow

(Apr. 27, 2005) Fugee member Pras is preparing Win Lose or Draw, the follow-up to his debut album, Ghetto Supastar.  The first single from the album is a remake of U2’s massive hit, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” taken from the group’s classic album, The Joshua Tree, which was originally released in 1987 and has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. According to Pras, U2 has never cleared any of their recordings to be sampled before, but because of his status as a member of the Fugees, the rapper got the green light from the group’s lead singer. "I got Bono's cell number, and I called and asked him," Pras told Rolling Stone in a recent interview. "He said, 'Really, my biggest record of all time?' I sent him the idea, he played it for the rest of the band, and they loved it. Bono called me back and said, 'Listen, I've never cleared a record for anyone, but I'm a fan of the Fugees and a fan of you. If this record can help you, go ahead and take it.'” The album features appearance by Sean Paul and Wycelf Jean. Pras and Jean recently ended a long running dispute that saw the pair trading disses on mixtapes and in interviews. Next, Pras will launch a tour backed by a live band and then the rapper will head to New Zealand to film a new movie, Mutant Chronicles. Win, Lose or Draw is slated to hit stores June 14th.

 

 

 

Jigga’s NJ Nets Get A Theme Song And Summer Intern

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 3, 2005) *Jay-Z and the rap group Young Gunz have remade Jigga’s track “The Takeover” as a playoff theme for the New Jersey Nets, the NBA team he co-owns.  The new version is available for download on www.njnets.com.   Meanwhile, the mogul’s new S. Carter Academy, in conjunction with Reebok, has launched an innovative college internship program to find one qualified applicant to intern for the summer with the Nets. The S. Carter Academy is billed as the premier online destination for those seeking to train with the best and obtain an elite status in music, fashion and sports. As part of the curriculum, the S. Carter Academy will offer real-world experience to its members in the form of internships in the sports and music industries.  The Nets gig, the Academy’s first internship for the year, is designed to give one applicant the opportunity for real-life work experience in the highly competitive sports industry. The candidate selected for the six-week internship program will intern for the Nets to truly understand the inner workings of a professional sports franchise. Through May 15, 2005, entrants can go to http://www.scarteracademy.com and sign up for the academy and apply for the internship program by submitting a resume along with an essay answering the question, "Tell us about your career aspirations and how they relate to professional sports?"   Entries will be judged on the entrant's academic and professional credentials, an essay submission and the creative presentation of the essay. The prize is a temporary, non-paid internship with the Nets. Housing will be provided by Sheraton Edison Hotel. The Nets internship is the first of three internships that will be provided by the S. Carter Academy.

 

 

 

Keith’s ‘Summer Sweat Tour’ Begins Next Month

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 3, 2005) *Keith Sweat will launch his 20-city “Summer Sweat Tour” tour in late June with opening act Elvis White, billed as an R&B/reggae/pop and SOCA funk band from the Caribbean. Sweat is slated to drop his new CD, tentatively titled “Grown and Sexy,” via Sanctuary Records in July.   "I want my fans to come out and experience something that they have never experienced at a Keith Sweat concert before," he said of the tour, which runs across the U.S. through mid-August. "Elvis White is the hottest new band out of the Caribbean right now and I know they'll heat up my fans nicely."  Elvis White will release its debut CD “Promise” on June 21 via Atlanta based 17.20 Records. Dates for the upcoming "Summer Sweat Tour" are scheduled to be announced later today.

 

 

 

Kirk Franklin Preps New Album

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 3, 2005) *Kirk Franklin is busy at work on a new album to follow up 2002’s platinum-selling “The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin.”  The project will be the first release on Franklin's new Fo Yo Soul Entertainment label, in association with the newly formed Zomba Gospel Group.     Franklin has also launched a brand new website at www.KirkFranklin.us, which will feature sneak peeks of the making of the new album in the coming weeks and months leading up to the late-summer release.  Also in the works is "The Takeover Team," Franklin's first-ever street team initiative which will begin recruiting in mid-May.

 

 

 

Mandela To Throw 46664 Concert In Norway

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 3, 2005) *Will Smith will once again team with South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela for another “46664” concert to benefit the leader’s AIDS awareness charity.  The June 11 concert in Tromsoe, Norway, dubbed "46664 Arctic," is to highlight Mandela's message that "AIDS is a global issue," according to a statement from Mandela’s AIDS foundation. The first 46664 concert, named after Mandela's prison number, was held in Cape Town in November 2003 and was followed by a second musical charity event in the Eastern Cape town of Fancourt.   For “46664 Arctic,” Smith will be joined by fellow 46664 ambassadors Bill Clinton and Bono.  Mandela, 86, is to address concert goers "with a message specifically aimed at the leaders of the G8 summit which will be held under the leadership of Britain's prime minister three weeks later in Scotland, telling them that far more needs to be done to fight HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa," said the foundation.

 

 

 

We Remember Benny Bailey

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 4, 2005) *Trumpeter Benny Bailey, who played with Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton before becoming a fixture on the European jazz scene, has died in his home in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was 79. Bailey's best work in recent years was his explosive solos on the 1970 album Swiss Movement with Eddie Harris and Les McCann. In 2000, he recorded “The Satchmo Legacy,” an album that Dutch jazz impresario Rene Van Beeck said was among Bailey's finest work. The funeral, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was delayed until May 10 to allow family members to arrive.

 

 

 

Kiki Sheard To Judge Choir Competition

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 4, 2005) *Teen gospel artist Kierra "KiKi" Sheard has been tapped as spokesperson and celebrity judge for Kellogg's Gospel Sing Off Youth Choir Competition.  Youth gospel choirs across the country are invited to submit recordings. A total of 40 groups will be selected for semi-final competition in regional contests around the country.  The grand prizewinner will perform with Sheard during her set at Disney's Night of Joy in Orlando on Sept. 10. She’ll also perform at the contest's regional semi-finals in Detroit on July 15, in Chicago on July 16, in Dallas on July 17, in Washington, D.C. on July 22, and Atlanta on July 23.  The daughter of gospel great Karen Clark Sheard, KiKi looks forward to her high school graduation in June, then will spend the summer in the studio recording her sophomore release, due in early 2006.  In the meantime, fans can look forward to Sheard's remix CD, “Just Until…The Next Record,” which will hit stores on August 2.  Sheard will travel the country beginning in June on a mall tour to promote the project.  *Meanwhile, The Mighty Clouds of Joy recently completed a whirlwind promotional tour in support of their newly released CD “In The House of the Lord: Live in Houston.”

 

 

 

::CD RELEASES::

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Amerie, Touch, Amerie, Sony
Elvis Costello, King of America, Elvis Costello, Rhino
Grandmaster Flash, Message, Grandmaster Flash, DBK Works
Grandmaster Flash, They Said It Couldn't Be Done, Grandmaster Flash, DBK Works
Joni Mitchell, Songs of a Prairie Girl, Joni Mitchell, Rhino
Mint Condition, Livin' the Luxury Brown, Mint Condition, Image
The Game, Untold Story [Chopped and Screwed], The Game, Fastlife
Tru, Truth [Chopped and Screwed], Tru, Koch
Various Artists, Blazing Hip Hop Instrumentals: The Music of 50 Cen, Various Artists, Fastlife

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

AMY GRANT Rock of Ages (A&M)
Kem, Album II, Motown
Mike Jones, Who Is Mike Jones? [Chopped and Screwed], Warner Brothers
SHAWN DESMAN Back For More (BMG Canada/Vik)
SLOAN A Sides Win: Singles 1992 - 2005 (Sony/BMG)
Stevie Wonder, Time 2 Love, Motown
The Jeff Healey Band, Live at Montrenx 1999, Eagle
Various Artists, Acoustic Tribute to Dave Matthews, Reverberations

 

 

 

::FILM NEWS::

 

 

Instead Of Pursuing Acting, The Star Of Ararat Quietly Went Back To University

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jim Bawden, Television Columnist

(May 2, 2005) The way he's lounging in the CBC cafeteria, the young, dark-haired man could be any of a dozen wannabe young actors hanging around.  Except David Alpay is just about TV's busiest young actor these days. After registering strongly in Atom Egoyan's Ararat (2002), Alpay disappeared for a few years to finish his undergraduate degree and start a graduate one. Once he decided to get back into acting, though, he's worked virtually non-stop.  This weekend he co-stars in the ambitious CBC miniseries Whiskey Echo (Sunday and tonight at 8), nicely cast as Carlo, an Italian lothario turned handyman. The prestigious Canadian-Irish co-production co-stars Callum Keith Rennie and Joanne Kelly and was filmed in South Africa.  On May 18 he's the guest star in the last episode of the hour-long romantic drama Kevin Hill opposite star Taye Diggs. Alpay has been told by UPN he'll be picked up as a regular co-star if the series gets picked up for a second season (the decision is expected soon).  In June he'll be back in the TV sequel to Slings and Arrows cast as a young actor playing Romeo, with Joanne Kelly again (also in Whiskey Echo) cast as his Juliet: the twosome begins plotting against an increasingly insane director. Co-starring are Mark McKinney, Martha Burns and Paul Gross. The Movie Network has first dibs (it premieres June 26), with Showcase up for the first "free" TV run.  And last week Alpay finished work on the new CBS TV movie about Martha Stewart's jail time, with Cybill Shepherd in the lead. The network placed a rush order on the Toronto-made TV feature as its last big event of the May sweeps, but has since rescheduled it for early fall.  "I've been busy," is the way Alpay, 24, casually sums up his amazing workload. After the success of Ararat he disappeared to go back to university and complete his studies in physiology and French. He did get "a few offers" but wanted to concentrate on one thing at a time. "I'm aware that's not the way to get an acting career going."  He'd only got the movie after auditioning as an extra, meeting with Egoyan, who tested him as one of the leads, finding his naiveté exactly what was called for. But an acting career? "I didn't feel I was ready yet — it seemed premature."  Whiskey Echo was exactly the break needed to get back into the acting game. It was shot about an hour outside of Johannesburg, in an area that is filling up with its own refugees.

"The people there have trekked thousands of miles in sandals because South Africa is the richest country on the continent." As the romantic lead Carlo, Alpay says he built up his own backstory. "He has worked on several of these projects. He's really a Peter Pan character — he keeps moving on, no commitments. He romances one nurse, becomes very unhappy when she switches to somebody else."  The cast lived in a small motel near the film site, but Alpay remembers one trip back to the big city where "I ate hamburgers and just hung out in the mall, things I never do. Back in my hotel room I watched a movie and could see it was shot in Toronto, which felt weird. I just had to suck in some modern civilization."  Far more fun was the sequel to Slings and Arrows. "I think I copied a bit of the way (director) Peter Wellington moves around. It was far lighter to do, I think it's funny."  Getting cast as the whistleblower in the Martha Stewart TV flick was a big plus — Alpay will get North American exposure. He says, like all actors, he's been told to get down to L.A. and scout the territory. "I'm not saying I'll never go, but so far I haven't had to."  If Kevin Hill gets its pickup he'll be in a U.S. series that shoots in TV studios across the street from the Star.  According to Alpay, the series' star Diggs is "a regular guy, very cool, charismatic. He makes everybody else feel easy. We'll see if it happens."  Alpay says until recently he still had to decide between acting and spending months stuck in U of T's rare books library completing his Master's thesis. Acting has offered so many opportunities he's pretty much had the decision made for him.

 

 

 

A Random Crime Made Paul Haggis Think About Fear, Hate, Race And Los Angeles

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere, Movie Critic

(May 2, 2005) Paul Haggis got the strong feeling he wasn't in London, Ont. any more the night somebody put a gun to his head.  It was the early 1990s, and Haggis, then a busy writer for American TV (thirtysomething, L.A. Law, The Tracey Ullman Show), had just walked out of a Los Angeles video store. Two young men approached him, one pulled a gun and, after a tense moment or two, both drove away in his car.  Making his way home, Haggis was shaken by a combination of fear, anger, relief and wonder. Wonder at who these guys were. Wonder at whether they'd done this before, how they selected him, and if they had any idea or even cared what the impact of their actions had been on their random victim.  "I kept asking myself," he says today, "who those kids were. For 10 years, I just wondered, were they best friends? Did they just get together that evening? Was this a career for them? Is it just a one-time thing?"  As is his wont, these wonderings started to take on the form of stories. More than a decade later, a carjacking incident much like the one experienced by the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby would figure prominently in Haggis's directorial debut, Crash (opening Friday).  Set over the course of a few days before Christmas in L.A., which Haggis has called home for 25 years, Crash is an ensemble piece (starring Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Thandie Newton and others) about the spiritually dissociative experience of living in a city where crime and car accidents are frequently the only way that strangers ever make contact.  "In Los Angeles," says the London, Ont.-born Haggis between drags on a Player's Light, "we tend to segregate ourselves. We tend to separate ourselves geographically, and then within the geographic areas we separate ourselves within our home. We don't know the people across the street most of the time.  "Unless," he adds, "you're upset with the way they're putting out the garbage."

"And," he adds, "we think that by doing that we'll be safe, when the opposite is in fact true. We only really feel safe around strangers. When you're walking down the street, if you're with a hundred different people walking in different directions, you feel good. On that same street, if there's nobody there, it's a little spooky."  But the ideas that would eventually cohere into Crash took a long time in doing so. When September 11, 2001 arrived, Haggis finally found his focus.  "I'd seen what happened," he says reaching for the ashtray in a Toronto hotel suite. "And I'd seen our President say that the only thing you can do is watch out for suspicious people."  Haggis, a social activist on the board of a number of organizations promoting non-violence, literacy and environmentalism, pauses and feigns a stunned look.  "All I know are suspicious people! Look at me, I'm suspicious as you get. And I thought, `That's what we're supposed to do as a nation?'"  In Crash, all the characters a gripped by this vague but insinuating fear, and all it takes to stir it are a series of random incidents: a carjacking, a car accident, a robbery, a sexual assault.  But when that fear manifests itself, the form it most frequently takes is racism. A robbery victim lashes out at the Hispanic locksmith sent to her home. A cop insults the black hospital official who declines to admit his ailing father. A white gun-shop owner refuses to sell a firearm to a man he's convinced is a terrorist. Fear is the boil these incidents prick, and racism is what spurts out.

"Fear of strangers," says Haggis. "That's what I was going for. And race, what a shortcut to that."  While the rave reviews and multiple Oscars granted Million Dollar Baby have considerably boosted the 52-year-old's profile in the movie business — he's already written two more features for Eastwood and is at work on his second self-directed project — Crash was actually made when Haggis was still struggling to make the transition from TV to features.  This meant shooting a complicated ensemble piece on a low budget and a tight schedule. It meant juggling the conflicting obligations of a large cast and it meant a moment or two of pure, clawing panic for a raw director.  "For the first two weeks," Haggis says, "I don't think I did a good job because I was so overwhelmed by just the logistics. Then, thank god, we had the Christmas break and I could just take a breath.  "And I realized you don't need to control everything. Control what you need to control."  Crash rolled on smoothly from there, he says. Moreover, he's finally stopped wondering about those kids who stole his car.

 

 

 

Larenz Tate Deconstructs ‘Crash’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 2, 2005) *Seatbelts should be passed around to audience members attending the new Paul Haggis film “Crash” this weekend.  Through an all-star cast, including Don Cheadle, Larenz Tate, Sandra Bullock and Thandie Newton, writer/director Paul Haggis and co-director Robert Moresco deliberately push sensitive racial buttons with the voices of their characters living in post 9/11 Los Angeles.  Haggis, who penned the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby,” was inspired to write the script after he was carjacked at gunpoint coming out of a video store in Los Angeles. After returning home and changing all the locks in his house, he started thinking about the men who stole his car – how long they’d been friends; what they did in their downtime.  When he decided to write a screenplay about it several years later, he chose to attack the issue from the carjackers’ perspective. “I play the carjacker, if you will,” laughs Tate, whose character does his dirt with partner-in-crime Anthony, played by rapper Ludacris. “But, what you realize is there’s more to me than being a carjacker and that’s what’s so sweet and special about this film. You begin to pull back layers of people that you first off might judge [like a] book by its cover.” The film’s larger plot centers on a car crash that suddenly brings together the lives of the two carjackers, a Brentwood housewife and her District Attorney husband (Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser), a black television director and his wife (Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton), a rookie cop (Ryan Phillipe), two police detectives who are also lovers (Jennifer Espisito and Don Cheadle), a Persian storeowner, a Mexican locksmith and a middle-aged Korean couple.  “This movie was written in a very unapologetic manner,” explains Tate. “Paul and Bobby [Moresco] really wrote something that hit home for a lot of us.  When you first read it, you feel a little uncomfortable, but that’s a good thing because it felt truthful, it felt real and it felt honest and after reading the movie, I told Don [Cheadle], I said, ‘Yo, I haven’t read a movie like this in a long time.’" 

Tate and Luda’s relaxed dialogue scenes in the car (when they’re not jacking) will bring to mind the amusing exchanges between Jules and Vincent in “Pulp Fiction.” The rapper, whose real name is Chris Bridges, impressed co-stars with his serious approach to the role – his fourth since 2001’s “The Wash,” 2003’s “2 Fast 2 Furious” and the forthcoming “Hustle & Flow.”  “Most of my scenes are with Chris Bridges, and the reason why we refer to him as Chris Bridges is because he checked the whole Ludacris persona at the door and wanted to surrender himself to the character," says Tate.  "These guys that we portray were very criminal minded but could very well be college graduates; they could be anything that they wanted to be but they choose a life of crime, being a product of their environment. It’s the way that they can get ahead.” Tate says he had some initial reservations about jumping into a project with a controversial topic that could very well be shunned by Hollywood financiers. It was co-star Cheadle who convinced Tate to trust writer/director Haggis.  "I said ‘All right, all right. Well, I’m onboard with you.  I’m with you,’” says Tate about his conversation with Cheadle. “Don played sort of the quarterback for a lot of actors and actresses that came to play but, again, Paul and Bobby had written such an amazing film and it was just a treat to see something so clear and so understanding and it didn’t feel like it was watered down.” Last seen on the big screen as Quincy Jones in the Oscar darling “Ray,” Tate has chosen to sit behind the camera for his next project, a straight-to-video comedy called “The Hot Spot,” due in stores June 7.   The first-time director shares filmmaking duties with his brothers, actor Lahmard and writer-director Larron - the founders of the family production company that produced the film.  In the meantime, Tate hopes to take audiences on a thought-provoking joy-ride with lots of racial bumps and potholes in “Crash.”

 

 

 

Children Rule Sprockets Fest

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter

(Apr. 29, 2005) Sprockets International Film Festival for Children, opening tonight with a line-up of 87 films from 26 countries, offers a window on a world where dreams come true and the young rule. A child psychiatrist might know how to handle the increasing despair of a little boy displaced in his family by a new baby sister, but a talking turtle does the trick just as well.

 The Swedish film Max & Josef: Double Trouble, based on a series of popular children's books, is a comedy in which a smart-mouth turtle saves the day. Everyone in this film is a little mad, except for Max, who has to listen to his turtle pal Josef with his incessant chatter. Josef warns Max that he's not wanted and is going to be taken to the "kids store."  Max & Josef is the festival's opening-night film, screening at 6:30 at Canada Square, with repeat screenings tomorrow and May 8.

 A group of 11 students from Toronto, accompanied by nine teachers, change lives and in turn have a life-changing experience in Jambo Kenya! Director Lalita Krishna followed the Canadian team to far into Kenya — to Masai Mara, where several hundred children attend classes in a broken-down building with no light, few desks and scarce supplies. The Toronto teens were not entirely prepared for the hard work of building a new school. They also help out in the classroom teaching English and get to go on safari.  But it's a sure bet the difficult lives they witness will remain with them as long as the beauty of the African desert and its native wildlife. Jambo Kenya! screens May 7 in the Isabel Bader Theatre.

 A ninja is like a knight of King Arthur's court — part real, part legend. In the Japanese film Nin x Nin: The Ninja Star Hattori, ninja Hattori is a martial artist with the skills of Spider-Man. Sent from his distant homeland to Tokyo to fulfil the final test of his training, Hattori lands in the house of a small boy, Ken-ichi, who is a shy outcast until Hattori begins teaching him some ninja moves. Hattori soon discovers his mission, after a mysterious string of poisonings. He tracks the culprit to his lair and completes his mission.  Katori Shingo, a big pop star in Japan, makes a very engaging ninja in this movie that cuts — literally — straight to the chase and never lets up. Nin x Nin runs Sunday at Canada Square and May 7 at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

 The Colour of Milk, a Norwegian film for young audiences aged 10 and up, is a gentle coming-of-age story set against the spectacular scenery of the Norwegian coast. Selma calls herself her mother's natural disaster: her mother died giving birth to her. She is a budding scientist, who believes that "dividing us into separate genders for the sake of reproduction was a big mistake." Selma would like to have nothing to do with boys and swears her two best friends to a pact to avoid them. But young love overtakes her. The film screens tomorrow at Canada Square and Saturday May 7 at Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Grande.

 Laura's Star is a German-made animated film, based on a bestselling children's book. It's the kind of kids' animation no longer made in North America: no smart-aleck cracks for the adults or pop-culture references, just a simple story of wish fulfilment.  Laura is a 7-year-old saddened by her family's move to a new home. She's a child who longs to fly and imagines herself as a space traveller. She finds just the friend she needs: a fallen star. Stylistically reminiscent of Walt Disney's Fantasia, Laura's Star screens tomorrow at Canada Square and May 7 at the Sheppard Grande.

 The festival's closing film on May 8 at the Isabel Bader is bound to a big hit with audiences of all ages. Mad Hot Ballroom is about how cool it is to dance. The directors follow three groups of 9- and 10-year-olds from New York City public schools into a citywide ballroom dancing competition.  At home they're like kids everywhere, but on the dance floor, they're wickedly sophisticated movers. Needless to say, the students from the heavily Latino neighbourhood of Washington Heights have the edge when it comes to the meringue, the rumba, the tango and the foxtrot.

For more information on the films and theatres in Sprockets, go to http://www.bell.ca/sprockets or call 416-968-FILM.

 

 

 

Desire, Danger Arrive At Once

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere, Movie Critic

(Apr. 29, 2005) April 1971 was a bad time for Haiti but a good one for 13-year-old Fanfan (Lansana Kourouma), the narrator-protagonist of John L'Ecuyer's erotically laced coming-of-age movie Le Goût des jeunes filles.  That was the month that the tiny, stricken Caribbean country replaced one autocratic dictator — François "Papa Doc" Duvalier — with another, the even more brutal chip off the old genetic block known as Baby Doc.  But while the transition in power means a surge of tension and bloodshed in the streets — which are patrolled by the armed government thugs known as Tonton Macoutes — it's mostly just background noise for young Fanfan, who spends most of his time gazing slackly at the gorgeous quartet of young women (played by Koumba Ball, Néhé Dumay, Maita Lavoie and Dephanée Desravines) who live in the apartment right across from Fanfan and his widowed mother (Mireille Métellus).  While Fanfan, whose father was a journalist murdered by Papa Doc's regime, is certainly aware of the dangers that lurk outdoors — his understandably protective mother makes certain of that — his more pressing preoccupation is fantasizing about what goes on behind those doors from which the girls emerge in delectable, sundazed slow motion.  Based on screenwriter Dany Laferrière's coming-of-age novel, Le Goût des jeunes filles tells a story of frightening political upheaval from the point of view of a kid for whom such upheaval has clearly become part of the atmosphere of his existence. Whenever he manages to escape his mother's watchful gaze, Fanfan does pretty much what any 13-year-old boy might do under the circumstances: he hangs out with bad influences like the cocky Gégé (Uly Darly), dabbles in adult substances and sneaks away to cowboy movies.  But mostly he dreams of those girls. Seemingly only dimly aware — or concerned — that they're the backseat playthings of a trigger-happy Tonton Macoute named Papa, Fanfan finds his dreams coming true this particular weekend, but only because history finally collides with his fantasy.

After being threatened by a drunken Tonton thug with a pistol, and terrified of endangering his mother, Fanfan goes into hiding in the very apartment that was once the magnet for his moist imaginings.  By the end of the weekend, Fanfan gets for the first time what Haiti has been experiencing for decades — and from a woman who does for the boy what she usually does in the interest of politics.  Working on a minuscule budget with Guadeloupe standing in for Haiti, Canadian director John L'Ecuyer (Curtis's Charm, Saint Jude) lightly spritzes Le Goût de jeunes filles with a vaporous, dreamlike quality, and humidity permeates everything.  While the dangers lurking on the periphery are constant — and barge in on Fanfan's erotic idyll more than once — they're not uppermost on this kid's immediate list of concerns.  And that's the balance that lends the movie it's distinctively heady and appealingly off-kilter charm. It's the frankly told story of a boy who first got laid the same weekend his country dipped even further into hell.  Small wonder that what he remembers most vividly is the heat.

 

 

 

Samuel L. Jackson Is At The Top Of His Game

THE RU REPORT / APRIL 28 / VOLUME 4.21:  Karu F. Daniels

“I should be starting a new life.”

(Apr. 28, 2005) ALL TIME HIGH: Acclaimed actor Samuel L. Jackson is on a new high these days – riding the waves as a much sought after box-office draw.  The Academy Award-nominated thespian made Hollywood take notice 13 years ago playing a lowdown, dirty crack-head in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever.” And then a scene-stealing role in Quentin Tarantino’s break-out hit “Pulp Fiction” sealed his fate as a force to be reckoned with.  All in all, the Morehouse College educated Mr. Jackson has appeared in over 75 filmed works, including a string of box-office hits (“Star Wars: Episode II” “S.W.A.T.,” ”Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” “The Incredibles”). Most recently, Mr. Jackson hit the #1 opening week slot with January’s “Coach Carter,” which he played the lead in a true-life-based account of a high school coach with a conscience. “It's about good stories, good films and people having a good time when they go to the movies and telling other people they do,” he commented about the new renaissance of major studio films starring Black leads becoming successful at the box office. ”It's just a validation of the fact that there's a huge movie-going audience out there that not only wants to see films that are about African-Americans but [that] we are viable in a box office sort of way that crosses over and not just in African-Americans but in general audiences.” This weekend, the always outspoken and witty Mr. Jackson gets to give box-office domination another go with “XXX: State Of The Union,” a sequel to the 2002 box-office hit, which introduced Vin Diesel to the masses as an action hero.    For the newest instalment –in what seems to be a long (translation=successful) franchise—he reprises his role as Augustus Gibbons, a tough-talking, no-nonsense NSA Agent on a mission to successfully recruit a new Agent XXX, which is now played, exceptionally well, by Ice Cube.

“I look at the character like a character who’s running the show, in control and sought of gets to choose the XXX characters and knows what’s going on,” Mr. Jackson said of the role. “In this particular script there was a bigger reveal of who he was and where he came from; he’s not just a bureaucrat but he’s somewhat of a warrior himself, and he’s willing to step into the line of fire and do the things that he asks other people to do.”   “I didn’t care,” Mr. Jackson quipped when asked about the new casting of Agent XXX. “I was a lot more worried about my character coming back… it’s fun for me to do action pictures.” That’s Mr. Jackson for you.  The 56-year old Washington, D.C. native has gone through a lot of highs and lows throughout his whirlwind career, and in his personal life.  And because of his ability to emote effectively as an actor, most of the time folks believe his characters are true extension of himself. “The attitudes and the way that they treat other people tend to be very different from the way that I would normally treat people,” he differed.  “I have a sort of quirky personality, in a way, and I'm kind of cynical in a way. I'm kind of outspoken or there are moments when I need to emphasize something, I can be those characters that are very emphatic. But most times the way that a character approaches the particular life that's being displayed on screen has nothing to do with who I am.” Mr. Jackson is respectfully labelled as one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood – and one of the most consistent.  Next month, Mr. Jackson will reprise his role as Mace Windu in George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of Sith.’ The under-wraps final piece to the blockbuster franchise has become a cottage industry, in itself, replete with a rabid fan base who Mr. Jackson joked “write down ‘Jedi’ on their job application as religion.” “I have no idea what these fans want to see,” he explained about the film’s expectations. “’Star Wars’ fans are kind of a different breed of people. I really have no clue what they expect to see. I don't know because from film to film, people have their favourite films and people have their favourite characters. People have their favourite moments.” “Hopefully this one will be dark enough and bloody enough and w ill wrap up all those loose ends and everybody will feel some sense of satisfaction so that when they sit down to watch all 6 of them by the time George puts all of them out, they can watch them in any order they want to,” he continued.

Coming up for Mr. Jackson, who also starred with Juliette Binoche, last month, in the touching drama “In My Country,” is the comedy “The Man” with Eugene Levy and Anthony Mackie, who he refers to as one of the younger actors of the new generation that he admires.   And then there’s “Freedomland,” which he is currently shooting in The Bronx, New York. “We're like two weeks into shooting the film, me and Julianne Moore,” he shared. “It’s a story of a young mother who gets carjacked in the projects and her kid is in the car and her brother's a cop in the next town so they descend on the projects which I had to find a car and a kid. The brother and his police cohorts are jacking everybody in the projects and creating a hot racial atmosphere. So it's a pretty dark and crazy movie.” Dark and crazy.  Sounds like a perfect fit for Mr. Jackson, who himself has been described as such – and his wardrobe choices. Nevertheless, he’s bound to bring some color to the story, as he always does in his diverse choice of roles. “XXX: State Of The Union,” a Revolutions Studios film, also stars Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman, Nona Gaye and Xzibit. Released worldwide by Columbia Pictures this weekend, the film will open in more than 3,300 theatres in North America. For times and theatre locations, please log onto www.enjoytheshow.com.  For more Ru Report – go HERE

 

 

 

Paparazzi Show They're Crack Shots

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rita Zekas

(May 1, 2005) Springtime in T.O.  Grass is greening, buds are on the trees, fresh air and nicotine fiends are puffing away on patios and the boldface is bloomin'. You'd almost swear it was show biz as usual. Or the Toronto International Film Festival has been jump-started really early.

Traffic is blocked for blocks on Yonge St. above Wellington because Bruce Willis is shooting 16 Blocks. Willis is everywhere: at Avenue bar during cocktail hour at the Four Seasons Hotel (impressing one of the eagle-eyed diners in his vicinity with "his tight butt"); moving on to Sotto Sotto for dinner with a couple of blonde lookers; and then adjourning to Lucid nitery where he chats up a brunette beauty.

Catherine Zeta-Jones bumps into her old Zorro co-star Antonio Banderas while she shops on Bloor St. and he is en route to a dance lesson for his film Take The Lead. She is here with her husband Michael Douglas, who is doing pre-production on The Sentinel. When they go to dinner at Opus, the tabloid paparazzi drop from the trees. Zeta-Jones calls it a night; Douglas has a nightcap at The Four Seasons. Next night, they dine at Il Posto. 

They dine high end. Snoop Dogg has a Happy Meal at the McDonald's at Spadina and Queen.

Ben Affleck, here shooting Truth, Justice and the American Way, is hounded by paparazzi when he goes for a smoke and coffee at Starbucks. He must be buzzed because he misses Robin Tunney walking along Avenue Road, freezing in her bare legs and skimpy cotton skirt. He could have given her a lift since they're bunking in at the same block.

50 Cent ties up traffic all along Queen West, shooting Get Rich or Die Tryin' in gritty locations like the past-its-expiry-date Big Bop but dines with his director Jim Sheridan and co-stars Joy Bryant and Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje at Bistro 990.

Oscar-winner Adrien Brody does his own heavy lifting and shops for groceries at Whole Foods.

Michelle Trachtenberg shops for bling in Yorkville and shows off her score to boyfriend Shawn Ashmore over lunch on the patio at Café Nervosa.

Side dish:

Vivica A. Fox dined at Trattoria Vaticano on Thursday.

Dan Aykroyd lunched at Sassafraz Café on Tuesday and dined at Nectar with his wife Donna Dixon, Kelly Lynch and the Roots trio Michael Budman, Don Green and Raymond Perkins. Nectar chef David Adjey used to be Aykroyd's personal chef.

David Zayas and Silk, two actors from 16 Blocks, dined at Bistro 990 this week while Lorraine Segato Bistro'd last Sunday.

Out of Africa:

"She has that Jessica Paré thing going on," says Toronto Star photographer about Joanne Kelly.  Naw, she's got it all going on.  She is 20something, gorgeous, smart and even got to work near a game reserve outside of Johannesburg, South Africa for two months where she was captivated by the giraffes.  "It was a gift," she says.  Kelly was there playing a dedicated nurse and team leader of the All World Medicine crew of aid workers on the CBC miniseries Whiskey Echo, airing tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.  "It's loosely based on Doctors Without Borders dealing with refugees from tribal warfare," Kelly explains. Some of the extras were actual refugees from the Rwandan massacres.  "I met people with nothing but the shirts on their backs and they were happy with their lot in life," she recalls. "One man, Isaiah, wanted to be a poet even though his family was hacked to death."

Kelly just got back from L.A. where she shot the pilot for The Catch, a new series from J.J. Abrams, producer behind Felicity, Lost and Alias. It's a comedy/drama series about a family of bounty hunters run by Don Rickles, who plays her grandfather. "I would listen to Don Rickles tell stories about Frank Sinatra, Bob Newhart, Vegas. He's a very sweet guy and actually knows where Newfoundland is."  Kelly hails from the sleepy little town of Milltown, Nfld., which she left as fast as her coltish legs could carry her to be an actor.  "It's perfect (there) until you are 14. The biggest crime was someone robbing the liquor store."

David Alpay, who plays Carlo, the mission's womanizing handyman in Whiskey Echo, plays Romeo to her Juliet on the series Slings and Arrows.  Christopher Jacot, who played her kid brother in her first film The Bay of Love and Sorrows, played her love interest in last year's MuchMusic-produced film Going the Distance. Kelly was the femme lead in the testosterone-heavy Crime Spree, starring Harvey Keitel, Gerard Depardieu, Johnny Halliday and Renaud. She didn't know how big a deal they were in France until she was in Paris for its premiere. "I went to the flea market and there were T-shirts with pictures of my friends. Johnny Halliday is like Elvis."

Y&R alert:

Thad Luckinbill, who plays J.T. on The Young and the Restless, will appear at The Weekend to End Breast Cancer funder held May 7 starting at 6 p.m. at La Luna Rossa restaurant, in the Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre.  Call 416-529-1904 for tickets.

 

 

 

The Robertson Treatment: Idris Elba

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 28, 2005) In April of 1994, Idris Elba, like many a Hip Hop enthusiast, discovered new life in the form of Biggie Smalls. Little did he know that the robust rapper’s debut album – Ready To Die – would, to some extent, characterize one of his most telling roles a decade later.   Known to the American masses as Stringer Bell on HBO’s award winning series – The Wire – Elba’s official introduction came therein. His acting experience however, seems a lifelong journey. A native of Britain, Bell cut his teeth in the theatre and went on to play a variety of roles, broadening his scope over six years of television and film. A veteran by industry standards, Elba’s hard work and consistent performances earned him success and celebrity that may have contented a less ambitious soul, but his drive wouldn’t allow him to stay.  “Even though I was doing pretty well in England, I figured that there would be a time when it would come to an end,” he confirms. “There was only so much room for X amount of actors at one time. Having five television channels and just a smaller pool [of talent wasn’t me]. I have so much ambition that it isn’t even healthy. So I figured that America would be a good place for me to go ahead and spread my wings, so to speak.”  Since 1992 Elba had periodically visited the United States. It wasn’t until ’98 though, that he decided on a permanent move. With it came small opportunities on television series’ such as “Soul Food” and “Law and Order.” It also provided him a chance to do theatre again, as he played Achilles in Sir Peter Hall’s off-Broadway production of “Troilus and Cressida,” for which he received rave reviews. Finally, as the no nonsense drug kingpin Bell, Elba was offered the breakout opportunity that he so anxiously desired in the States. “It was my introduction to America as an actor, and I loved it,” he says.  “I feel that the character was so untypical, so that made it a challenge in the first place.”  For the full Robertson Treatment story, click HERE. 

 

 

 

Mos Def Hitches Ride To Top Of Box Office

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 2, 2005) *"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," co-starring Mos Def in an adaptation of the popular Douglas Adams book, opens at No. 1 at the box office this week with $21.7 million, beating fellow rapper Ice Cube in his third place outing, "XXX: State of the Union."  Sony had high hopes for “Union,” which featured Cube taking over leading man duties from "XXX" star Vin Diesel. Critics hated both flicks, but Diesel’s original did more than three times better at the opening weekend box office than the current sequel.   "Certainly, we're disappointed, because it's a film we all believed in,” said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for "XXX" studio Sony. We have Ice Cube, who is a big star, and I think he's one of those rare actors who really can do just about anything. So I really don't know [what happened]." Cube is looking forward to new projects, most notably another film in the “Friday” franchise, entitled “Saturday.” “Every time I put it to bed, people start to ask about it,” says Cube, according to nobodysmiling.com. "Mike Epps is asking about it and John Witherspoon wants to do another one, so when you get those people excited, you start to say, 'Hey.'” According to the Web site, the full cast of the first “Friday” is rumoured to be on board for the new one. The cast included Chris Tucker, Regina King, Nia Long, AJ Johnson, Faizon Love, Paula Jai Parker and Bernie Mac. Meanwhile, Mos Def has just been cast opposite Bruce Willis in Richard Donner’s new thriller “16 Blocks.” The story centers on Jack Mosley (Willis), an aging cop assigned the mundane task of escorting a young witness named Eddie Bunker (Mos) 16 blocks from police custody to the courthouse at 100 Centre Street in New York City. Forces pop up to challenge their route.  

 

 

 

Felicity Huffman Among Winners At Tribeca Film Festival

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(May 1, 2005) New York — Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman won the best actress award at the Tribeca Film Festival Saturday for Transamerica, in which she plays a preoperative transsexual woman on a cross-country road trip. The Chinese feature film Stolen Life and the documentary El Perro Negro: Stories From the Spanish Civil War were among the other top winners. Also honoured at the awards ceremony were the best new filmmakers: Alicia Scherson, who won for the narrative feature Play, and Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary for the documentary Favela Rising. Director Li Shaohong's film Stolen Life (Sheng Si Jie) follows a young woman who leaves home for college, only to be deceived by the man she falls in love with. El Perro Negro, from Hungarian director Peter Forgacs, is about Catalan industrialists who tell their own history through home movies. The winners in the top four film categories each receive $25,000 prizes. In the best-actor category, Cees Geel won for Simon from the Netherlands, about a gay man and a straight man who rekindle their friendship after many years. Among the judges in Tribeca's fourth year were Sheryl Crow, Whoopi Goldberg and actor Michael Imperioli. More than 250 films were shown during the 13-day festival, which ends Sunday.

 

 

 

Timberlake Drafted For 'Shrek 3'

Excerpt from www.billboard.com

(May 2, 2005) Justin Timberlake will provide the voice for a new character in "Shrek 3," the next sequel to DreamWorks' animated ogre franchise. The recording artist-turned actor will play a young King Arthur, or "Artie," King Harold's rebellious nephew, in the film, which is due in 2007.  Timberlake's girlfriend, Cameron Diaz, is the voice of Princess Fiona, Shrek's wife. It will be the job of Shrek, played by Mike Myers, to teach Timberlake's character to act like royalty. Timberlake, 24, appears in two upcoming films, "Edison," starring Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman, and "Alpha Dog," starring Bruce Willis. As previously reported, the 'N Sync member gone solo also appears on the forthcoming Black Eyed Peas album, "Monkey Business."

 

 

 

Nouveau Cinéma Fest's Founding Director Departs

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Matthew Hays

(May 3, 2005) Montreal -- Montreal's film-festival war has claimed another casualty. Claude Chamberlan, founder and director of the 33-year-old Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, has left the festival rather abruptly. Chamberlan's break with the festival he created was announced in a brief press release late last week. Chamberlan had been at the centre of a nasty three-way festival war, which began last year when Telefilm Canada and Sodec announced that they were withdrawing funding from the city's largest film event, the World Film Festival. There was then a bidding war over that funding, which was won by Spectra, the organization that organizes the city's hugely successful Jazz Festival. Chamberlan had just emerged victorious after a battle with the new event, titled the Montreal International Film Festival, over conflicting calendar placement for the upstart film event. Chamberlan launched an impressive campaign to save his beleaguered festival, including getting letters of support signed by the likes of Robert Lepage, Denis Villeneuve, John L'Ecuyer, Bruce McDonald and Ryan Larkin. Chamberlan's departure from the festival was made all the more mysterious by his uncharacteristic silence while leaving. Now on a two-month trip to Europe, he could not be reached for comment.

 

 

 

First-Time Director Wins Hot Docs Audience Award

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(May 4, 2005) Toronto -- Organizers of the 12th-annual Hot Docs festival in Toronto -- which wrapped on the weekend -- named two more winners yesterday, handing the audience award to first-time director Marshall Curry's Street Fight and the CIDA award to Eylem Kaftan's Vendetta Song. These two winners are in addition to the Festival Jury's selections previously announced, including Min Sook Lee's Hogtown: The Politics of Policing (best Canadian documentary, feature length); André-Line Beauparlant's Little Jesus (best direction in the Canadian Spectrum program, feature length); Marshall Curry's Street Fight (best international documentary); and Jeppe Ronde's The Swenkas (a Special Jury prize). Staff

 

 

 

::TV NEWS::

 

 

Toronto 1 Brings Home Three Top Awards From This Years Worldfest

Source:  Toronto 1

(May 4, 2005) TORONTO 1’s Creative Services team won three top awards at the 38th Annual WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, for their Winter image campaign, NBA spot Kobe vs. Shaq, promoting the exclusive broadcast of the December 25, 2004 NBA game and the Prime Ticket Movie campaign, ‘Movies Worth Seeing Again’.    This prestigious film festival receives approximately 4,500 entrants from over 30 countries. WorldFest is one of the largest independent film festivals in the world and boasts giving Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Lee Hancock and many others their first awards of honour. The festival is unique in that it is solely dedicated to independent features and short films.    “The WorldFest winnings exemplifies the strength of our Creative Services team at TORONTO 1 in terms of writing, directing, casting, editing, lighting and cinematography,” says Mitch Harrison, Creative Director at Toronto 1. “It was the effort of a diversely talented group of producers and directors that brought this team to a level of international acclaim.”   The TORONTO 1 Winter image campaign, produced by Terence Babb, photographed by cinematographer Tony Wannamaker csc., won a Gold Remi Award, in the Use of Cinematography and Videography category. The spot illustrated people on the streets of Toronto, with a montage of winter and Christmas images swirling in the background. Chebli Nadjafi, Senior Broadcast Designer, used Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Red, Blue, Yellow as inspiration for the backdrop.

The NBA ‘Kobe vs. Shaq’ spot, produced by Chebli Nadjafi and shot by John Grierson and Tony Wannamaker csc., won a Platinum Remi Award in the Sports and Sporting Goods category.  The commercial creatively illustrated the battle of the fans who only love Kobe or Shaq, glaring and sneering at their opponents.    The Prime Ticket Movie, ‘Movies Worth Seeing Again’ campaign, took home the highest award available in the Station Program Openings category, the Special Jury Award. The creative team included cinematographer John Grierson and producers Susan Adsett and Terence Babb.   “This industry recognition serves to reinforce what we here at TORONTO 1 already know – the talent, the creative vision and the professionalism of our Creative Services team is dynamic and truly at the forefront of our industry,” says Jim Johnson, Director of Marketing.  “TORONTO 1’s Creative Services team delivers quality in every effort they undertake.”   This is the second year TORONTO 1’s creative team, has received WorldFest Awards, previously winning a Silver Remi Award for Terence Babb’s Liaison College’ commercial, shot by Tony Wannamaker csc. last year.    TORONTO 1 is owned and operated by TVA Group Inc. (TSX:TVA.b), operator of the largest French-language general-interest television network in Quebec and a number of specialty channels, and 25% owned by Sun Media Corporation, Canada's largest national chain of tabloids and community newspapers.

For more information on TORONTO 1 log on to www.toronto1.ca

 

 

 

CBC's TV Boss Outlines Plan To Boost Canadian Programming

Source:  Canadian Press

(Apr. 28, 2005) Toronto — An additional $33.5 million will be invested to add 100 more hours of Canadian drama and entertainment programming on CBC English television over the next two years, says the network's new executive vice-president Richard Stursberg. In a closed-circuit address to network staff Wednesday, Stursberg outlined a major budgetary plan complete with specific targets that he says will redirect resources from non-performing programming and improve sales and overall efficiency, all to retain the CBC as a true, high-profile public broadcaster. "We would like to double over the next number of years the amount of drama and entertainment programming that we put on to the main network," Stursberg said. "Everything from high-impact drama — the miniseries we do now — traditional series, comedies, soap operas, movies of the week, the lot. We would like CBC Television to be overwhelmingly the place that you go for Canadian entertainment programming." Displaying a series of pie charts and lists of objectives, Stursberg described a series of initiatives:

—All of CBC's news and current affairs flagship shows, from The National to The Fifth Estate, are being looked at in terms of making them more accessible to viewers.

—As part of the plan to bring back the regional news programming that had been cut in recent years, pilot episodes of new programs have been made for three locations — St. John's, Montreal and Edmonton — with an eye to launching new shows this fall following market analyses over the summer.

—A greater emphasis on so-called new media platforms, from online services to Video on Demand.

"If we are going to ensure our future as a broadcaster and as a provider of information-entertainment programming electronically, we have to make sure that we keep pace with the evolution of those platforms," said Stursberg.

—Pressing for a guaranteed 50 per cent share of the public-private Canadian Television Fund, up from the current 40. The boost in homegrown programming is contingent on this.

—Ensuring that the CBC specialty channels Newsworld and Country Canada remain entirely self-sufficient through carrier subscriber fees.

When he took questions from staff, Stursberg was strongly challenged on a recent cost-saving move — redundancy notices sent to more than 30 in-house publicists in favour of contracting out the public relations work to the private sector. He called it unfortunate. "But there were really no alternatives, so our hearts go out to the people affected," he said. "That's a little sad." Stursberg added that when the network's communications department was asked to make budget cuts, bids were sent out to a number of firms and it was concluded they could accomplish more and still save $864,000. "We're going to build those specifications into the contract in terms of the money we pay them. So if they don't perform, they won't get paid." He added that if the business case proved to be flawed, they would have to reconsider the decision, that they would be "nitwits" to do otherwise. Lise Lareau, a spokesperson for the Canadian Media Guild, which represents the departing publicists, said a service like publicity cannot be compared to a commodity that can be outsourced and that the expected return to the CBC in quality likely won't happen. "It cannot be cheaper at firms like Hill & Knowlton. It just cannot be."

Lareau said the staff remains uncertain about what's coming in the wake of Stursberg's decision to seek in-house savings since prospects are bleak for the CBC to receive more government funding. "What can you guarantee us that's sacred to contracting out. . .other than news and sports?" she says is the question being asked. "It was this air of whatever it takes to get Canadian programming on the air." Stursberg noted that slightly less than half the network's overall budget comes from government funding and as a result the broadcaster has an even greater responsibility than someone in the private sector to be efficient. He said he also plans to visit as many of the regional operations as possible in the coming months to discuss targets in terms of public value, audience share, costs and revenues. A 25-year veteran of Canadian broadcasting, entertainment and cultural industries, Stursberg took over the executive vice-president's job last fall, replacing the retiring Harold Redekopp.

 

 

 

Consumers Not Buying Into Hi-Def TV

Source: Canadian Press

(May 3, 2005) Fourteen per cent of Canadian households have High Definition-ready television sets but slightly more than half of those — 54 per cent — don't yet have the set-top box required to receive Hi-Def signals, suggests a new survey conducted for The Movie Network premium channel.  And among this group, 41 per cent cite lack of sufficient HD content for not having the box and 16 per cent apparently were not even aware that one was required.  "The results of this survey confirm that a significant proportion of Canadians are demanding a critical mass of HD content before they are willing to commit to the technology," concludes Domenic Vivoldo, senior vice-president for marketing and sales for the Astral Television Networks, owners of the Movie Network.  The channel, which is licensed to serve Eastern Canada with pay-TV fare, recently launched The Movie Network HD, a 24-7 channel available to subscribers at no extra charge.  Among the other findings of the Ipsos-Reid survey:  — One in five HD-set owners say they don't need a carrier set-top box because they are satisfied watching just DVDs on their sets. (While HD-ready sets do upconvert DVDs to widescreen, technically the image is not true HD, which is five times clearer than standard television.)  — One in five Canadians who do not have an HD-ready set say they do plan to buy one, nearly half of those within the next year.  — Men (24 per cent) are more likely than women (14 per cent) to buy an HD-ready set.

Of Canadians not interested in acquiring a set, 36 per cent say it's because of the cost, 15 per cent were not even aware of the technology. HD sets can now be bought for less than $1,000 but set-top boxes must be rented or purchased as an extra, with some carriers charging even more for a special package of HD channels.  The survey was conducted between April 19 and 21, among a randomly selected sample of 1,000 adults 18 or older. The results are considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.  The findings of the survey seem to support views expressed in March by Michael McEwan, president of CDTV, the government-sanctioned industry consortium charged with overseeing the migration to digital, or Hi-Def television in Canada. McEwan has said Canada is falling behind the U.S. in the creation of domestic HD content and as a result set owners are watching either DVDs or incoming U.S. Hi-Def signals.  Such conclusions were disputed by broadcasters like CTV who insist that the shortfall in content is only a perception and that they are doing plenty to roll out such fare.  "Content is king in the world of HD," says McEwan. "As with any technology, application and content are required to justify the expenditure in the minds of consumers."

 

 

 

::THEATRE NEWS::

 

 

A Black Woman's Memory Lane Of Dark Years In South Africa

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Robert Crew

The Star published this review when A Woman in Waiting had its Toronto premiere at the World Stage festival in 2003. The show is part of this year's World Stage: Flying Solo festival and runs until May 1 at Harbourfront Centre's Studio Theatre.

(Apr. 29, 2005) Thembi Mtshali got her big break in the hit South African musical Ipi Tombi.  The year was 1976 and it was her escape road out of a lifetime of toil and hardship. In the township of Soweto, meanwhile, young people were rioting, heralding the start of the changes that would eventually bring an end to apartheid and the installation of Nelson Mandela as president.  Now one of South Africa's leading artists, Mtshali tells her story in A Woman in Waiting.  She uses simple, unadorned storytelling to relate her life under the heel of apartheid. She couldn't wait to be born, she tells us, but "it was before I saw the world beyond my mother's womb — a world that would teach me to wait."  Her parents left her with her Zulu grandparents while they went to work in Durban. Mtshai counted the months until Christmas, when she would spent two weeks with her mother.  Eventually she is old enough to join them in Durban but only spends time with her mother on Sundays; the rest of the week, her mother is busy all day and well into the night slaving for her white boss.  And because her mother has no time to tell her the facts of life, Mtshali finds herself pregnant ... and the cycle begins all over again.  She has no time to spent with her baby; she is a "mother to rent," caring for the children of the whites.  Then there is the nightmare of raids on her home, making her late for work.  There are no great revelations here, little or no dramatic tension, just a poignant story well told.  Mtshali moves fluently around the stage, singing snatches of folk songs, hymns, carols and (later) a few bars from some of the Ipi Tombi songs.  What makes the show so effective is that it is so obviously honest and heartfelt. Mtshali doesn't experience any huge tragedy or brutal mistreatment. She is exploited casually and matter-of-factly by her white masters.  The fact that such treatment was once so ingrained in South African society is the real horror story.

 

 

 

‘Ray’ The Musical: Producers Of The Universal Film Are Turning Charles’ Story Into Broadway Production

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 4, 2005)*The producers of the film “Ray” are re-teaming to bring a Ray Charles stage project to Broadway, according to the “Hollywood Reporter.”   Producers Stuart Benjamin and Howard and Karen Baldwin have acquired dramatic-musical rights to the project from the Ray Charles estate and Ray Charles Enterprises.  Unlike the Universal biopic starring Jamie Foxx, the Broadway play will span his entire career, allowing the producers to showcase Charles' lifetime repertoire of music. It will also combine performances with dramatic vignettes that will tell stories of Charles' business, political and charitable endeavours.  "This will be more of the warmth and the personality of Ray as well as some of the anecdotes and stories that weren't in the movie," Benjamin told the “Hollywood Reporter.”  The stage version will also focus less on Charles’ drug addictions and infidelities, which were prominent aspects of the film.  "This will be a celebration of Ray, somebody I got to be very close to over the years, someone I respected and someone whose company I enjoyed," Benjamin told the trade. "What is really in my mind is to convey some of that. As was the movie, this is an enormous responsibility. We will take our time and make sure it's done correctly."  A search for playwrights is now under way. Benjamin produced both soundtrack CDs, the television special "Genius: A Night for Ray Charles" and the "Ray" DVD.

 

 

 

::SPORTS NEWS::

 

 

Wakestock's New Home

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(May 3, 2005) Toronto, get ready for Wakestock.  One of the largest action sports events in the world is coming to the city's Centre Island this summer after a deal was reached last week. Organizers are expecting huge crowds for the weekend wakeboarding event, set for Aug. 11th-14th.  After Wasaga Beach, the wakeboarding festival's previous home, voted over the winter to can Wakestock, more than a dozen cities across the province began lobbying to host it.  Wasaga's loss is Toronto's gain as the largest of five international stops on the wakeboarding World Series tour promises to get even bigger.  "Wakestock has been a continually evolving event," says Steve Jarrett, co-producer of Wake- stock, as he rounds his yellow wakeboarding boat toward Centre Island for a tour of the new site.  "It's been growing every year and it's been pioneering the sports festival event format. This is now the closest that Canada has to the X-Games."  Along with the World Series wakeboarding competition, Wakestock features skateboarding and freestyle motocross exhibitions by the top pros in the world. Spectators can also listen to bands throughout the weekend at various concert sites, and there will be a skateboarding park. More than 40,000 people took in the event last year.  Organizers won't say who's playing this year, but about 350 bands have asked to appear at the event. The Ataris and Andrew W. K. co-headlined last year's Saturday line-up.  It's a win-win situation, says Don Boyle, director of parks and recreation for the City of Toronto's south district. He hopes the event will expose more young people to the islands.  Island concerts and events will not go on past 9 p.m. Then the partying will shift to an area built for it — the downtown core.

"The event is being planned so that people will want to get back to the mainland for all the events that are being planned downtown," he says.  As for the wakeboarding itself, Jarrett says, "this is going to be the best course on the whole World Series tour."  The competition will be held on Long Pond, the same spot where the 1979 World Water Skiing Championship was held. It was staged there because of the calm conditions and the lack of wave rebound from the shoreline — the same ideal conditions for wakeboarding.  Long Pond runs within a sheltered shoreline on Centre Island. Out on a boat, on a day when the waters of Lake Ontario are choppy, its surface remains almost perfectly still.  A grandstand sits at the far end of the pond, which is also used to hold various rowing events. Along the entire length of the course, spectators can also watch from either shoreline.  But unlike at Wasaga Beach, where camping was an option, visitors will not be allowed to stay on the islands overnight.  Instead, the last ferry back will be at 11:45 p.m. Ferry capacity will be about 3,000 people one way, per hour, which has been more than enough to handle traffic to the islands for other events, such as Caribana, which used to attract about 35,000 people to Centre Island in one day. If that still isn't enough, Boyle says more boats can be added.  Jarrett says one of the biggest problems in the past — Wake- stock was held in Wasaga Beach the past three years and at Bala in Muskoka for four years prior to that — was the lack of accommodations.  "People, mostly younger people, wanted to attend, but couldn't find a place to stay. That won't be a problem here.

"Wakestock is all about celebrating youth and young adult lifestyle.  "There's the wakeboarding, the consumer shows with all the fashion, the freestyle motocross, all the bands and it will be Canada's largest portable skateboarding park.  "Being in this venue, in this city, is going to make it much more accessible for young people who will get to be a part of a world-class action sports event."  Over the four days, large crowds are anticipated and Bill Jones, Wakestock's other organizer, is expecting 20,000 people on the Saturday alone. Things will be much more controlled than they were in Wasaga Beach, he says.  As far as noise issues, which could be a concern for island residents, Jones says all the city's regulations will be followed during the staging of concerts and the freestyle motocross shows.  "There were some challenges (in the past)," Jarrett says. "Not with the daytime event, but with the things going on later — we were maxing out with the capacity of the town.  "The X-Games isn't held in the backwaters of rural America. It's held in world-class cities. We've been operating Wake-stock in places where we were challenged, organizationally.  "Now we get to be right here in the city, off in a slice of paradise, that I don't think too many people are aware of," says Jarrett, after docking the boat and walking up to the north shore of Centre Island, overlooking Lake Ontario and the downtown skyline.  He says the final decision on where to relocate was based on two factors, the infrastructure (transportation to the venue, parking and accommodations) and the course itself.  Reaction to the new location has been positive.  "I've heard that it should be good conditions," says 24-year-old Joel Adair. He's competed in Wakestock every year since the event started in 1998.  "That's absolutely key for riders in order to perform. I was just happy to hear that someone was glad to take it because the event has received such bad publicity."  Adair lives in Huntsville and saw Wakestock as a unique event.

"Myself, I'm a Muskoka boy, I would have liked to have seen it stay in this area.  "Muskoka is a wakeboarding mecca and Wakestock was a good fun weekend for a lot of people who wanted to enjoy the outdoors and the atmosphere.  "But I think the move is healthy — turning it into a mainstream event now."  For 25-year-old Jason Ruttan, owner of Phat Wakes Wakeboarding School in Wasaga Beach, you'd think news of the new location would be hard to swallow.  "I was worried about it getting away from its roots. I hope a lot of people from cottage country will still go down for the event.  "It can cater to a larger crowd down there," says Ruttan, whose store sponsors and organizes a competitive wakeboarding team.  "I think the location will still give you the feel of being out of the city. But you'll have the infrastructure that's needed with parking and transportation and hotels.  "We're looking forward to Wakestock being even bigger and better down in Toronto."

 

 

 

Okafor Top NBA rookie, Source Says

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(May 3, 2005) CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte forward Emeka Okafor has won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, narrowly beating best friend Ben Gordon of Chicago Bulls, a Bobcats source told The Associated Press.  The award will be announced tomorrow. The Bobcats have called a news conference for what they have only called “a major announcement.”  Okafor, the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft, led all rookies in scoring (15.9 points per game) and rebounding (10.9 rpg) and was second in his class behind Atlanta’s Josh Smith in blocks (1.71). He also ranked second in the NBA with 3.8 offensive rebounds per game.  He ended his season with 47 games in double figures in both points and rebounds.  But Okafor spent the final months in a close battle with Gordon, his best friend and roommate while the two led Connecticut to the NCAA championship. Both left UConn for the NBA following the 2004 title, and they went Nos. 2 and 3 in the draft.

Gordon became a sparkplug for the Bulls off the bench while helping them into the post-season for the first time since Michael Jordan’s retirement.  Okafor played under tremendous pressure the entire season as the face of the expansion Bobcats. Charlotte traded up in the draft for a chance to pick him, hoping to make him the cornerstone of their franchise.  Even with a limited supporting cast, Okafor was able to help the Bobcats to 18 wins despite pre-season predictions that Charlotte would be the worst team in NBA history. He helped the Bobcats to two wins over Detroit, the defending NBA champions, as well as victories over Miami and Houston.  After the season-ending win over the Pistons, Okafor said he enjoyed his rookie season.  “With an expansion team, I knew that things would be different, but I didn’t have anything to compare it to,” he said.  “I’ve had a pretty enjoyable experience. I can’t complain at all. I’ve had a great time in Charlotte this year and its only going to get better. The future is looking bright.”

 

 

 

Sean John Signs NBA Star Dwayne Wade for Fall Ad Campaign

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Kye Stephenson

(Apr. 28, 2005) Sean John clothing company has announced that Miami Heat NBA star Dwayne Wade will be featured in their fall advertising campaign.  Wade, a 2004 NBA All-Rookie First Team selection, will be sporting all three Sean John men’s lines: Sean John, Sean John Collection and Sean John Tailored. Previous models have included Tyson Beckford, Mase and P. Diddy himself. Look for the ad campaign to be featured in GQ, Vibe, The Source, Unleashed, FHM and Complex, among others. “Dwayne Wade is the Sean John man,” said Sean John owner, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. At such a young age, he has become one of the best players in the NBA. We’re going to make Dwayne Wade the first NBA male supermodel!” Sean John is a privately held company created by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and made its fashion debut with a men’s sportswear collection in the spring of 1999.  The company has reached retail sales of over $450 million and in 2004; the Council of Fashion Designers of America named Comb the “Men’s Wear Designer of the Year.” Dwayne Wade will be featured as one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” when the magazine hit newsstands this Friday.  Wade is the only NBA player honoured and one of only four athletes.

 

 

 

::OTHER NEWS::

Toronto Life Leads The Pack With 31 Nominations For National Magazine Award

Source:  Canadian Press

(May 2, 2005) Toronto — Toronto Life leads the pack in the 2004 National Magazine Awards, with a total of 31 nominations. Saturday Night follows with 23 nominations, the Walrus with 22 and L'actualite with 19. Finalists represent more than 300 articles in 75 magazines, and were chosen from among a total of 2,150 entries. Winners will be announced at a National Magazine Awards Foundation gala in Toronto on June 10. This year's winner of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement is Paul Jones. Over his 30-year career Jones has been involved in the launching or refocusing of a number of magazines, including Canadian Business, Maclean's, MoneySense and PROFIT. He has also helped transform major industry associations, including Magazines Canada, the Print Measurement Bureau and the National Magazine Awards, said Foundation president Christian Bellavance in a statement. Individually, writers Trevor Cole and Rita Leistner received six and five nominations respectively for the 2004 awards, but 10 other contributors each garnered three or more nominations. A full list of finalists can be found at www.magazine-awards.com. The National Magazine Awards Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes excellence in Canadian magazine journalism.

 

 

 

20Q Knows What You're Thinking — Most Of The Time

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem, Entertainment Reporter

(Apr. 30, 2005) It looks like a large, stringless, high-tech Yo-Yo — a fistful of electronics encased in a flattened sphere of coloured plastic, with several small buttons and a scrolling LED readout.  It beeps. It boops. It buzzes. It flashes on and off.  And it can read your mind.  The 20Q handheld game is the latest addictive must-have toy phenomenon — that is, if you can even find it, since stores that do stock it (K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, Toys R Us, etc.) are constantly selling out.  Retailing in Canada for under $20, the 20Q game has sold over a million units in the last year alone. And sales are picking up.  What it does is play 20 Questions, that ancient low-tech party game also known as "Animal, Mineral or Vegetable?" You think of an object, and it tries to guess what you are thinking by texting a series of questions, such as "Does it have fur?," "Is it larger than a microwave oven?" or "Does it bring joy to people?"  The handheld game is a scaled-down version of the 20Q website (20Q.net), which has been up and running since 1995, logging some 50 million hits per month, and boasting an astounding accuracy rate of 80 per cent — 98, if you allow it an extra five questions.  The handheld 20Q isn't quite as smart. But amazing nonetheless. And the whole thing was created by a native Ontarian, Robin Burgener, a 39-year-old computer professional who grew up in Kitchener and now lives in Ottawa.  We had 20 questions of our own for Burgener. He got it in 15.

1. How and when did you come up with this idea?

I started working on it in 1988. I was playing around with artificial intelligence and different applications of it, and 20 Questions seemed a perfect match for the type of artificial intelligence I was playing with.  The source for the program, the program itself and all the data fit on a 5 1/4-inch floppy (disc). Pretty small.

2. Was this a job for hire, or something you dreamed up in your spare time?

I've been working in the computer industry full-time for well over 20 years ... mainly as a computer programmer, though my expertise goes well beyond that. This was something I did in my spare time.

3. What's to prevent someone from pulling a Bill Gates, breaking down your algorithm and making their own rip-off version of the program?

It's taken a long time to teach it to be as good as it is. It takes millions of games to get it to the point where you say, "Wow!" And that's hard to duplicate. I've let it develop organically — all the objects and all the questions were suggested by people playing the game.

4. So it actually learns?

The original online version, yes. It's been learning for 17 years. I mean, I came up with this algorithm and played with it myself ... it took years to play a thousand games. Then I put it on the Internet, and started to see it grow and evolve.

5. So at what point does it become smart enough to take over the world?

Right now it's limited to playing 20 Questions.

6. And very, very well. Although I've noticed that sometimes it does get things wrong. A design flaw?

I never said it was based on fact. Everything it knows is from experience gained by people playing the game. So, for example, it believes that rabbits are rodents. Because most people think that. If enough people give it the correct answer, it will change its mind. It's part of the learning process.

7. It also has an attitude. It is not above taunting the player with its intellectual prowess. Who taught it to do that?

It has its own opinions. All I've done is provide an interface for it. It's all driven by the neural network itself.

8. So how smart is it, really?

The big online version has about 10 million synaptic connections. Which is roughly equivalent to a gnat. Of course, gnats can't play 20 Questions. And 20Q doesn't fly. Different priorities.

9. Was it your idea to market a handheld version?

No. And when they first approached me, I was very sceptical that it would be a compelling game. I mean, I'd known this A.I. for 15, 16 years, and had always known it as being interactive and dynamic. I thought, "Make it static and stick it in a little ball, what playability is it going to have?" But they did it.

10. How does it compare to the online version?

The handheld version has about a quarter million synaptic connections, which is still an impressive number, verging on insect intelligence. It doesn't learn, but the gameplay is still really damned good.  That little ball ... the processor is roughly equivalent to a Commodore 64. And it runs off a couple of AAA batteries!

11. What are the plans for the future?

We're working on other formats. There's a tabletop and a big-screen version. And a portable version with a bigger screen. Because some of the older customers are complaining they can't read it.

12. You get people that old playing with this toy?

That's one of the amazing things about this. The demographic is completely flat. There is no gender bias, no age bias. And there's no seasonal bias. Last week, major U.S. retailers sold over 50,000. And that was up from the week before. Every week they're selling more.  The demand is phenomenal right now. And by September we'll have them in French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch.

13. So then it's you who is going to be taking over the world?

I don't know about that. I do get a royalty for every unit sold. Which is what's funding the website right now.

14. Are there other applications beyond sheer entertainment?

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the data in the future. I can see using it for something like background information for writing fiction. Or using it to give some other artificial intelligence a sort of base knowledge about humans.  In a more controlled situation, it could be used for something like tech support, or automobile diagnosis, even medical diagnosis. It can consider thousands of possibilities simultaneously, whereas a human will concentrate on some and ignore others.

15. So is this the future of artificial intelligence?

Well, let's put it this way ... I have a similar program that controls all the lights in my house. And it's renowned for, you know, the light is on, and the moment you sit down in a chair to read something, it goes and turns it off.

 

 

 

Read Your Matzo, It's Good For You

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Simon Houpt

(Apr. 30, 2005) NEW YORK — is it about Canadians that make them want to cover rooms from top to bottom with bizarre foodstuffs? In 1999, the Montreal-born artist Cosimo Cavallaro caused a stir in New York when he covered a low-rent hotel room in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan with melted Swiss cheese. Now, in the spirit of the Jewish holiday of Passover, which ends at sundown tomorrow, the Toronto-based artist Melissa Shiff has covered a suite of rooms at a New York University student centre with matzo. Titled The Medium is the Matzo, Shiff's installation at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life offers a series of multimedia treatments of Passover, the eight-day holiday celebrating the escape of the Jewish people from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Jews begin the annual holiday by recounting the story of their ancestors' flight, and are instructed to imagine that they themselves had escaped from Egypt. Shiff makes the metaphor literal with Passover Projections, in which visitors walk in front of a video camera to insert themselves into a film clip from Cecil B. DeMille's costume epic The Ten Commandments. Among those who have put themselves in the picture, which is projected onto a wall covered in matzos, are the Jewish sexologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Shiff used about 4,000 matzos in total, donated by the food company Manischewitz. The exhibit's centrepiece is the Elijah Lounge, where visitors are invited to recline on a floor covered in pillows that read "Crush Oppression," suggesting that visitors take the Jewish tradition of social justice into the contemporary world by helping to stamp out hunger and other social ills. The corner of the lounge is dedicated to "matzo ball activism," where visitors can pick up a kit to instruct them in activist pursuits. The kits sit next to 120 jars of matzo ball soup, also donated by Manischewitz, which will be transported to a soup kitchen run by Hebrew Union College after Shiff's installation closes Monday. Shiff, 38, says she wants to move the Passover tale "from a story that's told to a story that's acted upon." The pillows, she says, exhort people to "crush the oppression of today, so the Passover story doesn't necessarily stay as a religious or a Jewish story." A number of the Crush Oppression pillows have been stuffed with matzo, which provides an unsettling crunching sound that prevents people from getting too comfortable while they're reclining. The pillows, which are for sale, are lined with a Ziploc bag, so once the original contents have been reduced to matzo meal -- useful in any kitchen, kosher or otherwise -- more matzo can be inserted.

 

 

 

Joan Rivers Preps For Canadian Shows

Source:  Canadian Press

(May 2, 2005) Toronto — Chatting with Joan Rivers is a lot like white water rafting. She's frantic, bumpy, brash and leaves you feeling dizzy and exhausted afterwards. The famous comedian and red-carpet critic says a kid-like attitude is the reason for her continued vigour. "It's a lot of very childish 'I'll show them' syndrome which goes back to third grade," she says breathlessly over the line from her office in New York. "That's why I continue to work. It's all about 'I'll show you. You look out.' It keeps you going." The 71-year-old comedian brings her stand-up act to Quebec and Ontario for three shows this weekend where she'll likely do her usual riff on celebrities and perhaps even throw in a few lines about her favourite Canadian game. "I loooooove ice hockey," she gushes. "It's fun. It's fast. I like fun and fast. And I like rough guys. I just love to see them fight and they get crazy. It's all great." An opinion on the cancelled NHL season? "Of course I missed it," she laments. A favourite team? "Who cares?" she shouts. "My assistant's father owned a team down here in New York called the Islanders that always lost. Then he sold the team and it started to win. That was the only name I ever learned." Her shows, as always, will also devote a substantial chunk of time to her all-time favourite pastime: plastic surgery. She was one of the first celebrities to fess up about her beautification techniques. Those nips and tucks have now become as big a part of her persona as her sharp tongue, flashy outfits and stand-up skills.

"One of the reasons I came out about plastic surgery was because all these women who've done everything — and just about every woman out there has done something truly, truly, truly — I was so angry about all these actresses saying 'I've done nothing. This is the way God made me.' That's such nonsense," she scoffs. It seems nothing is out of bounds for Rivers. Her act has even included jokes about the 1987 suicide of her husband, Ed Rosenburg. "Suicide's no longer chic," she has said. "Everyone's doing it . . . it's so 80s. When my husband committed suicide, it really meant something." And she's got some harsh advice for her rich and famous peers who complain about the pushy press. "If the paparazzi won't leave you alone, go back into your $20-million house, have your servants lock your big gates and you can do anything you want to," she says. Salacious headlines are simply more likely to lure her to the newsstand than kindhearted ones, she says. "If I pass a newsstand and there were two magazines. One said 'Gwyneth Paltrow: Wonderful! Works with Orphans' and the other said 'Gwyneth Paltrow Caught in Sex with Animals!' I know which one I'd buy." Love her or hate her, it's this sort of matter-of-factness that has kept Rivers working more than 40 years, beginning with the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Over the years, she's evolved from comedy to red carpet commentator and costume jewellery entrepreneur. She's currently working on a book about the history of costume jewellery, which she hopes will be ready by the fall. She even wangled an invite to the year's most exclusive party, the wedding of Prince Charles to Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall (she befriended the couple five years ago at a painting party in the south of France). Rivers has no intention of slowing down. "I thank God everyday . . . I'm having more fun than anybody," she says. "I'm not making a joke here." Indeed.

 

 

 

Greenpeace Co-Founder Dies

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Terry Weber, With a file from Canadian Press

(May 2, 2005) Environmentalist and Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter died Monday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 63. “This was a man with a great loving heart, a brilliant mind and a massive spirit,” Stephen Hurlbut, vice-president of news programming for CITY-TV, said in a statement. “Bob Hunter changed our world. It is a sadder world today, but a better world because of him.” Mr. Hunter, who had suffered from prostate cancer, passed away early Monday morning. He leaves his wife, Bobbie, and his children, Will, Emily, Conan and Justine. Mr. Hunter helped found Greenpeace in 1971, eventually winning worldwide recognition for his environmental efforts. He was responsible for adopting the term "Rainbow Warriors" to describe Greenpeace activists. In 2000, Time magazine dubbed him one of the 20th century's 10 top ecoheroes. Today, Greenpeace boasts 2.5 million members in 40 countries. "Bob was an inspirational storyteller, an audacious fighter and an unpretentious mystic," Greenpeace Canada chairman John Doherty said in a statement.  "He was serious about saving the world while always maintaining a sense of humour." Born in Manitoba in 1941, Mr. Hunter was also well known for his work as a journalist, columnist, writer and political candidate. In 1991, he won the Governor-General's Award for literature for his book Occupied Canada: A Young White Man Discovers His Unsuspected Past. He was the author of more than a dozen books. Television viewers knew him as CITY-TV's environmental reporter as well as the host of Paper Cuts on the station's popular Breakfast Television show.  He also hosted Hunter's Gathering on CITY's CP24 news channel.

 

 

 

Wilder, His Wives And Hunt For Love

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Judy Stoffman, Entertainment Reporter

(May 3, 2005) Gene Wilder's big innocent eyes, woolly hair, impish chin and droll delivery have made audiences chuckle for three decades. But desperation lies at the root of his nutbar comic persona. He was 8 when his mother had her first heart attack and her doctor told the boy to make her laugh. Young Jerry Silberman (his real name) felt he had to play the clown to save her life.  Wilder says he intended to call his memoirs I Lean Towards Women until he realized it sounded like "the story of a man whose right leg is shorter than his left." Then he remembered Gilda Radner, before her death in 1989, had told him: "I have a title for you, `Kiss Me Like a Stranger.' Maybe you can use it some day."  Distraught over having her life cut short by ovarian cancer, the zany comedienne had started taking out her frustrations on Wilder, her husband. And he begged her to at least treat him with the respect she'd show a stranger.  Kiss Me Like a Stranger (published by St. Martin's Press) is a captivating book about Wilder's artistic development and search for love. (He is in Toronto to discuss it with Ralph Benmurgui at the Bloor Cinema tonight.)  "Being honest is the easiest thing for me, that's about all I know how to do," he says over the phone, before flying to Toronto from Stamford, Conn., where he still lives in the 18th century home Radner left him.  He has previously written screenplays such as Young Frankenstein (1974), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother ('75), The World's Greatest Lover ('77), The Woman in Red ('84), and in the late '90s, three period mysteries for TV.

In his books "I don't say the whole truth and nothing but — sometimes I withheld information to keep from hurting people. I just tried to tell the truth and what I remember."  Thus he avoids giving the full names of his first and second wives — the book has them only as Mary and Mary Jo respectively — nor does he fully identify his adopted daughter Katie, whose mother was Mary Jo. Katie now refuses to speak to him for reasons he says she has never explained, and this obviously hurts. Though married four times, he has no other children.  Complete contentment eluded him, Wilder writes, until his current marriage to Karen Webb. On their answering machine in Stamford, the two croon "I can't give you anything but love, baby."  But it's his marriage to the mercurial Radner — he calls her the most generous and most original person he'd ever known — that forms the book's emotional centre. They met on the set of Hanky Panky, and she jumped on him in his room at the Carlyle Hotel in New York, saying "I have a plan for fun."  Since Radner was then married to the pony-tailed Saturday Night Live musician G.E. Smith, Wilder claims he initially put her off. After their marriage, he stood by her through bulimia, paralyzing insecurity attacks, her attempts to have a baby, her cancer, her rages, her operations and chemotherapies and her death.  A decade later, in 1999, Wilder himself learned he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the cancer that killed Jacqueline Kennedy. It was successfully treated with stem cell therapy at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he attends a reunion of 200 cancer survivors every year. "I am in complete remission," he says. "They don't use the word cure because what does it really mean? My doctor says if you reach your life expectancy, you are cured."  He has not made a film in seven years, though he has done live theatre for a small company run by Joanne Woodward, the Westport Country Playhouse.  "The (film) scripts I'm getting now are not the kind I used to look forward to — the writing is stupid, brazen, vulgar, or else violent and obvious. It's all about visual effects. There's no human comedy, or tragedy for that matter. I'm not very optimistic about making another film."  He enjoys writing and doing watercolours instead. "I am having my first exhibition at the New Brittain Museum of American Art, July 10 to Sept 4. They are framing the pictures now. They came and looked at my paintings and asked if I'd do it. I asked, `Do you want me for my celebrity or my painting?' They said: `Both.' I was content with that. It was honest."

 

 

 

Media Professional Offers A Helping Hand To The Next Generation Of Scribes
 
 Los Angeles – Entertainment, Lifestyle and Media Specialist, Gil L. Robertson IV has added the title of author to his illustrious resume with the publication of Writing as a Tool of Empowerment.”  Extending a helping hand to the next generation of writers, Robertson has written an in-depth, step-by-step guide to navigating a successful and profitable career as a writer.  “Writing as a Tool of Empowerment” delivers invaluable lessons on achieving success in the media marketplace and features a wide range of topics including “Getting Started” “Developing Ideas That Sell,” Negotiating Services,” and “Developing Growth Strategies for the Marketplace.”  In addition, the book features in-depth interviews with a number of respected media professionals including Yannick Rice Lamb (Howard University), Lee Bailey (Electronic Urban Report), Kelly Carter (USA Today), Tavis Smiley (National Public Radio) and Patrick Henry Bass (Essence).  “I wish a book like this were available when I began my career,” notes Robertson.  “My goal is to offer guidance and insight to those whom are aspiring to write professionally.  [As such], I hope that I have lit the path for the writers who will come behind me.”  A noted journalist and media consultant, Robertson is the CEO and Founder of the Robertson Treatment, LLC, a leading, urban-media resource agency. Within the last decade, Robertson has written more than 40 national magazine covers and his by-line has been featured in Essence, Billboard, The Source and the Los Angeles Times, to name a few.
 
 Additional information relating to Gil L. Robertson IV and “Writing as a Tool of Empowerment” may be accessed at www.robertsontreatment.com.

 

 

 

Haute Face in Beverly Hills

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(May 4, 2005) *Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills will host "Martinis and Makeovers," a promotional event for the makeup line Haute Face, the newest venture from music exec Cassandra Mills. Private appointments with makeup specialists must be reserved for the event, to be held Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

 

 

::FITNESS NEWS::

 

 

Lose The Loose Skin

By Joyce L. Vedral, Ph.D., Special For eFitness

(May 2, 2005) It's not rocket science, but it is a science! Women ask me all the time, "What can I do for my sagging skin. Even after I've lost weight I look terrible?" Other women who have not lost weight yet, worry that they will have loose skin if they lose weight.  Well, there's good news. You can tighten up that loose skin by making it cling to developing mini-muscles. Now don't panic. I'm not talking Arnold. I'm talking sexy, feminine muscularity that in the end will take up less space than the hanging fat and sagging skin.  Two of the most common loose skin areas on women are the triceps and the thighs. (In case you don't know, the triceps is the flag-waver -- the other side of your biceps. My aunt used to call them "Haddasah Arms.")  I used to have plenty of loose skin on my arms and thighs, and look what I've done for myself, not in hours a day but minutes, by being consistent.  You can start out as light as two or three pounds and build up, as you get stronger. As long as it's work for you, you're getting as much out of it as someone who is stronger than you and lifting 10 times as much. If I could do it anyone can. I'm lazy and old. Sometimes I really am lazy but I don't feel old. By the way I just celebrated my 61st birthday. And, none of the photos are touched up.

The following exercises are a good start. You'll start seeing changes in three weeks.

1. The seated double arm dumbbell press for the sagging triceps. Sit at the edge of a chair or bench, holding a dumbbell at either end with one hand at each end, palms facing forward. Hold the dumbbell straight up with your elbows nearly, but not quite locked.

Movement: flexing your triceps muscles as you go, lower the dumbbell behind you until you cannot go any further. Give your triceps muscle another hard flex and return to start position. Do this movement 10 times and move to the next exercise.

2. The Front Squat. Stand with your feet a natural width apart; with a dumbbell in each hand resting on each shoulder, your arms are crisscrossed.

Movement: Keeping your back straight and eyes straight ahead, lower yourself to a comfortable position, making sure you do not compromise your knees. Even a small amount of lowering goes a long way. Return to start position and repeat until you have done 10 repetitions. Return to the first exercise: Repeat this series two times for a total of three times.

 

 

 

EVENTS –MAY 5 - 15, 2005

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MAY 7 AND SUNDAY, MAY 8
THE A-TEAM
The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
$8.00   
 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MAY 8
SOULAR
College Street Bar  
574 College Street (at Manning)  
10:30 pm 
$5.00   
  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.

 

 

 

MONDAY, MAY 9
IRIE PATIO OPENING
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. 

 

 

 

MONDAY, MAY 9
VIP JAM WITH SPECIAL GUESTS  
Revival Bar  
783 College Street (at Shaw)  
10:00 pm  
NO COVER  
  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Rich Brown, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11
KAYTE BURGESS AND SPECIAL GUEST JENNIE LAWS
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!

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2005
Fluid Lounge
217 Richmond Street West
Cocktail & Appetizer Reception: 9:00 pm
Dancing And Bacchanalia:  10:00 pm
Music: current/classic house and RnB with DJ Aristotle and Adam X.
RSVP by: Tuesday May 10th @ 416.593.6116 or email: info@fluidlounge.ca 
Syle code in EFFECT!!!
www.fluidlounge.ca

EVENT PROFILE:  Come and join the club fashionistas at Fluid that’s been providing Toronto with the missing element – consistency and reliability in excellence of club entertainment!  Come and celebrate their 10 years of sexy club life. 

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MAY 14 AND SUNDAY, MAY 15
THE A-TEAM
The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
$8.00   
 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MAY 15
SOULAR 
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
10:30 pm 
$5.00
 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French

 

 

 

Have a great week!  


Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment  
www.langfieldentertainment.com