Langfield Entertainment
88 Bloor Street E., Suite 2908, Toronto, ON  M4W 3G9
(416) 677-5883


Updated:  November 17, 2005

Happy windy week! Hot events this week include the one and only Oscar Peterson in concert on Sunday in support of World Vision - details below. As well is the upcoming When Brothers Speak spearheaded by Dwayne Morgan's Up From The Roots. See all details below.

This week brings something special - an interview with a

Canadian superstar - Kardinal Offishall! And to help us celebrate his new release, this week - get your FREE copy of his CD from Capitol / Virgin Music Canada - IF you can name the title of his CD, CLICK HERE. [Clue: You have to click on the interview to find the title of the track.] The first five people WIN!!

Check out all categories - tons of Canadian content in MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, THEATRE 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. Want to be removed from the distribution, click REMOVE.






Oscar Peterson Live In Concert – Sunday, November 20, 2005

Grammy® Lifetime Award winner and International Jazz Hall of Fame Award winner, Oscar Peterson and the Oscar Peterson Quartet join the Mayor of Mississauga, Ontario Hazel McCallion for Hazel’s Concert of Hope.  Proceeds from the Hazel’s Concert of Hope will help to support the children and families in Tanzania through World Vision.  For more information, visit

Roy Thompson Hall
60 Simcoe Street
7:30 p.m.
Tickets on sale now at the Roy Thomson box office at 416-872-4255
Ticketmaster by phone 416-870-8000 or online at



Brothers Getting Ready to Work it Out!

Source:  Up From the Roots

(Nov. 1, 2005) TORONTO, ON – Spoken word fans throughout the GTA and surrounding areas, are anxiously awaiting the 7th Annual When Brothers Speak Spoken Word Concert, which rolls into the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts on Saturday November 26th; this year, for one night only. When Brothers Speak began in 1999 inside of a crammed Comfort Zone, and has now grown to become the largest spoken word event of its kind in North America; each year celebrating the work of six spoken word artists from across Canada, the US, or the U.K. The 2005 edition of the show, will feature performances by Toronto’s Al. St. Louis and Dwayne Morgan, New York’s Brother Earl and Ainsley Burrows, New Jersey’s Flowmentalz, and Ottawa’s John Akpata, who ran for the Marijuana Party in the last Federal election. If you’re only going to see one spoken word show this year, this should be it! Tickets are on sale now through the St. Lawrence Centre Box Office at 416.366.7723,
in person at 27 Front St., or on line at Tickets are $25/$30 in advance. Groups of 10 or more receive $5 off of each ticket purchased in advance. The 7th Annual When Brothers Speak Spoken Word Concert is proudly sponsored by Dose Magazine, Langfield Entertainment,,, and For media accreditation for When Brothers Speak please call Dwayne Morgan @ (647) 284.9135 or email

Up From The Roots presents
The 7th Annual When Brothers Speak Spoken Word Concert
St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Jane Mallett Theatre
27 Front E
Featuring Toronto’s Al St. Louis and Dwayne Morgan, Ottawa’s John Akpata, New York’s Ainsley Burrows and Brother Earl, and New Jersey’s Flowmentalz
9:00 pm
Tickets $25/$30 in advance
Groups of $10 or more receive $5 off per ticket, in advance
Box Office 416.366.7723
For more info, or 416.822.1465






The Church of Hip Hop by Kardinal Offishall

If you’re a lover of hip hop with a message, loads of Canadian talent (as well as
global talent) and good music, RUN, don’t walk to your nearest retail store for a copy of Fire and Glory! To take from Kardinal’s bio, ‘his diction, a deft mix of Jamaican patois, mixed with Canadian and American slanguage, sounds so distinctive and dissimilar to any other music out there… and that’s where the Fire comes in.’  Along with some amazing artists on this project, it is truly a signature Kardinal product.  The signature of excellence. 

Kardinal Offishall captures the scope of Fire and Glory and hip hop in general in our interview at Irie Food Joint on Monday, November 14, 2005.  This educated and articulate Canadian artist laid it down so eloquently and passionately that I could have been at a private religious service – the Church of Hip Hop, that is. 


Tell me about Fire and Glory.


The album Fire and Glory has been a couple of years in the making.  It’s finally coming out on November 15th in stores all across the country.  It’s dope because it’s a collaboration between my label, Black Jays and Virgin Music Canada.  I got to incorporate some of my favourites on there.  Vybez Cartel is one of my favourite dancehall artists.  Spragga Benz who I think is one of the most underrated dancehall artists.  Also, work with Renee Neufville from Zhane and Busta Rhymes.  That was crazy.  Also I got a chance work with a lot of my favourite Canadian artists, most of which are from my crew, the Black Jays – so Nicole Moses, Ro DollaLindo P narrates the whole thing.  Riley’s on a song with Spragga Benz.  Just got a chance to work with a lot of really talented people. That’s a good feeling at the end of the day.  Besides the fact that the music is good – the energy from those people is also a crazy thing to live with every day. 

There’s a lot of topics on the album from police harassment to family values to people getting deported from Canada from dealing with a lot of legal things.  So many different subjects that we dealt with on the album.  I think that it’s really thorough and complete and something that any Canadian or anybody around the world, for that matter, should be proud of. 


You produced most of Fire and Glory – why did you decide to take that on this time and not before as you’ve produced so many other artists (a virtual Who’s Who of urban music talent)?


Really and truly I think it’s because it’s been so long since I’ve come out with a full length on a major label that’s been one of my own.  I wanted it to be more about myself.  I wanted to be able to showcase what I’m dealing with as far as production goes.  I’ve worked with a lot of different people over the years but I definitely wanted to have my production shown on this album.

My music is an extension of myself and the best way to represent yourself is to do it yourself if you can.  I’ve been putting in work for many years now and I think I know where I want to be and how I want to be represented so I’m always of the opinion that no matter what it is in life, that if you want it done properly, do it yourself.  Whenever I’ve been given the opportunity, I’ll do anything myself.  The more personal it is to me, the more that I will protect my baby, meaning the music.  I think when it’s not as much you then you can kind of fall back if something doesn’t work and then say ‘oh somebody else did that’ but when it’s more you, you kind of hold on to it more and you have a lot more to prove and you feel it more.


Would you say that the difference between this project and other projects would be?


So far in working with other artists I was able to give them my twist and that’s the whole thing about it is being able to work with someone else and even with yourself, and pulling out something that they might not have been able to do on their own.  I kind of challenge myself, sometimes it’s a challenge just to be able to master a song.  Somebody else’s?  It releases something else in your brain but when it’s you, you have to work that much harder to make it an above average piece of work. 


Part of our Canadian culture is that we embrace so many cultures – have you ever been tempted to step outside your culture to make a hit?


It’s always tempting.  I’ve had that dangled in front of me before.  ‘Why don’t you just work with this person?’ but I believe that I have a greater purpose than just making a hit song.  There’s more to it than just the hit.  There’s a message that goes along with it, there’s a movement that goes along with it, there’s a mentality that goes along with what I’m trying to do.  I don’t think it’s as easy as doing a formula song that radio is going to play over, over and over.  That’s not what I’m here for.  I’m here for more than that. 


Do you feel a certain responsibility on the mike? 


Having a microphone is definitely a responsibility.  Some people don’t like to feel responsible like ‘I’m not responsible for your children’ and really and truly, we are not directly responsible because I feel that even on the day when I have my kids, that nobody’s going to say that my child is a certain way because of television or radio.  It’s going to be because of how I brought them up.  I think that no matter what I do in life, it is a direct result of how my parents raised me and the values that they have instilled in me. 

But I also feel that you cannot be just reckless on the mike because your words and the vibe you put out there has an effect on people’s lives.  I know that for sure because of the profound effect that many different artists had on my life.  Anybody from Chuck D and Public Energy to Bob Marley to Mobb Deep to whoever.  These people affected my life and how I grew up so I definitely want to have a certain kind of effect on the way the people grow up as well. 


What would you say is the unique contribution of Canadian hip hop?


I think that it’s similar to other places but what that really is the emigration of people from the West Indies to other places in the world.  Whenever I go to London, it’s a similar mix of people, a similar mind state.  I think because Canada, especially Toronto, deals with the whole idea of being a cultural mosaic, it comes out not only in the music, it will come out in the artist, the way they view the world, they way they think about things.  If you look at us, anybody from Nelly Furtado, kos, myself – Nelly Furtado is a proud Portuguese person, kos is a proud Trini and myself, a proud Jamaican – that type of thing you’re not going to get in the States. 

Until he died, and they started digging for info, you didn’t know that Biggie Smalls mom and dad were from Jamaica, you didn’t know that.  That’s not necessarily what they promote over there.  Pete Rock, who is now a good friend of mine, his parents are from Jamaica.  He actually has family over here.  Renee Neufville (from Zhane), who’s on the album, her parents are from Jamaica but her whole career, they couldn’t find a way to put that into her music and have people understand it in the States.  Whereas here, we get it because that’s how we always came up.  From Dream Warriors to Michie Mee, we’ve always had that in our music.  I think that’s pretty unique just because we’ve been doing it for so long.  Michie was repping that way back in 1987. 


What do you like most about being a Canadian artist?  The least?


I like the fact that I’m educated … I could end the sentence there (laughs).  I like that I’ve learned so much about different cultures growing up here, whether it’s Taste of the Danforth or celebrating Chinese New Year growing up.  There’s just so many different things that go on here that you learn about in the school curriculum.  I grew up before all these educational cuts and they used to have cultural classes within school and you were able to take Cantonese, Black History, dance classes – so many things I was able to learn here. 

We have so much access to stuff – VideoFact, Factor – all these different grants that help artists flourish and help us be the best that we can be.  That’s what I love most about being from Canada and being a Canadian artist.

What I hate is that we will forever looked at as second or sometimes third.  That’s not just within music but that’s our military, our Government, our economy.  A good reason is because of the proximity in terms of how close we are to the States.  Because we are only 30 million people over here and they’re 10 times more.  It’s just one of those things – it’s always going to be like that because for every 2 Canadian channels we have on TV, they’ll have 20.  For every two artists we’ll have, they’ll have 20. 

Although there was a point in time during the Trudeau years when our dollar was actually stronger and until that day comes again, that’s just the way it’s going to be because we have such a powerhouse – they’re an ignorant powerhouse – but because they’re right there, it’s one of those things when you’re living in a house beside a skyscraper, you’re always going to be in the shadow and you’re always going to have to work to get out of that shadow. 


I think that Canadians have somewhat of an inferiority complex.


I think it used to be that way but now because of the Internet, and the global community growing so close together, now people are starting to get what the States is about.  Saying that all this stuff is being revealed about the States, now we’re able to be our own person and have our own identity.  It hasn’t always been that way but now, in 2005 and 2006 just around the corner, I think it’s definitely going to be even more in the forefront, that we are Canadian – we are not American – and people will take us for what we are. 


You’ve been working in the industry for quite awhile.  Did you ever want to give up when you were on your way up?


No.  Never.  I never wanted to throw it in.  Honestly, there’s times when you have to remind yourself why you’re doing it because there’s just so much BS that gets put in the forefront of the music industry. There’s so much stuff that you have to fight against to get your music heard.  Now, it’s about marketing and gimmicks. 

When I was coming up and what gave me the spark was these people that just came out of nowhere with these ideas that were so new, so raw, so fresh.  I used to love when that new artist came out – when Naughty by Nature, the first Tribe Called Quest song, De La Soul, Public Enemy.  I remember all those songs and all those artists and I remember not ever hearing anything like that before.  Now, because things are so based on marketing schemes and gimmicks and stuff, sometimes it’s ‘Why am I doing this again? Is my music going to get heard?  Are people interested in hearing anything with some depth?’ 

But I’ve never wanted to throw it in.  Never. 


What are your thoughts about the music industry and what’s been the biggest challenge?


The biggest challenge is getting my music out there on a large scale - getting the same shot that an American artist would get.  What it means is that I’m proud to say that in travelling, the comment that I hear the most is that ‘yo Kardi, you’re so ill, your stuff is so dope, all you need is that one shot.  That one opportunity to release your music on a large scale.’ 

I’m still in the trenches trying to get it done.  How I plan to keep doing it and eventually get it done to where I’m happy with it , is to work 10 times harder than that next artist.  While that artist is playing video games, I’m going to be in the studio.  While that artist is taking trips to Italy and France, I’m going to be in the trenches trying to get on that next project so that more people can hear my voice and see that I’m not anybody to be played with. 


I’m not a hip hop head, I feel that hip hop started out to elevate consciousness and awareness – do you feel that this mandate has changed at all? 


Yeah, I think what fuels a lot of people unfortunately is to make money.  Not that I don’t want to make money doing it or that it’s a bad thing, but when that’s the only thing that you’re in it for like ‘Well, I don’t really like rap like that but if I can rap and make a million dollars, then I’m going to do it.’  Unfortunately, that’s tainting the way that hip hop is viewed.  Because some people are so focussed on the money and these gimmicks more than the actual content of the song, it’s kind of making a mockery of itself. 


What pieces of advice would you give to a young artist that wants to enter the business?


Network network network.  That is definitely the key to a great amount of me and my people’s success.  And it’s not just about meeting people, it’s about people remembering who you are.  You have to go out there and meet people but somehow they have to remember you.  You have to do something so that they will remember you.  So that your name will come up and other networking opportunities will come.  You never know behind which door is going to be your shot.  You never know when any little crack in the door that you can stick your foot in – you never know if you push that door in if that’s going to be your time to get over that hump and really be someone super successful.  Networking is the probably the most important thing that an up and coming artist should be about.

Even if it’s just that one day and you’re not able to form a long relationship, learn. Listen to what people are saying.  Even if it’s 10 minutes.  That 10 minutes could be the most important 10 minutes of your life. 


If you could work with any artist, living or past, who would it be?


Hmmm.  I was going to say Bob (Marley) but I think it would have been interesting to work with Peter Tosh.  He’s a rebel with no apologies – not that Bob was soft or anything – Bob was definitely one of my idols, but Peter Tosh – just the way that he spoke he was not just somebody who could talk, he was an orator.  Somebody that commanded your attention. 

When I get into my moods when I want to talk about something that’s important to me and society, I think that that combination would have been crazy in this day and age. 


What do you want people to remember you for?


That I was somebody who tried his best to instill the idea of success into anybody that ever heard me speak or heard my music.  I want to be remembered as somebody that was not just trying to push positivity but trying to promote the whole idea that we are more than we think we are.  Sometimes we have this limited idea of what we can achieve in life.  We have this notion that I come from here, I can only achieve this.  Or ‘that’s never going to be me’.  I want people to say ‘Kardi was a person that said screw that.  I can do whatever I put my mind to.’  Really and truly, I’m nobody except somebody that’s from Toronto that’s doing his thing.  To have worked with some of these multi multi millionaires, these super successful people – it’s not that I did anything magical.  I just had a goal and stuck to it.  I reached for it and was focussed and I think that anybody can do it, as long as they work hard. 

How does it go? ‘Success before work only comes first in the dictionary.’


So, what’s in your CD player right now?


I don’t really deal with a CD player, I deal with the iPod, straight up.  I just bought Spragga Benz’s Fully Loaded album.  I buy stuff every Tuesday.  I bought the 50 Cent soundtrack.  I just bought some old school stuff, Audio Two, they did the song Top Billing, Dwele.  I think I have 8,000 songs on my iPod.  We were just listening to some early 90’s dancehall on the way over here – Red Dragon, Cutty Ranks and all kinds of stuff.  It all depends on what mood I’m in. 


Do you have any favourite Canadian artists? 


Yeah.  One of my favourite Canadian artists of all time is a good friend of mine - Saukrates.  He’s so talented.  Like me, we went through all this bureaucracy and he wasn’t able to get his music out like he should have.  He’s going to get his music out ‘cause I’ve heard the album and it’s crazy.  But he is so super talented and he’s somebody that I’d be proud to stand up in any circle to say that this is somebody who’s representing the T-Dot and also representing my crew.  Saukrates is a multi-talented person and I think that the world needs to hear his music because it’s craaaazy – from the same vein as a Marvin Gaye back in the day or a Quincy Jones.  All these different things wrapped into one within a hip hop way, but not limited to hip hop.  He’s phenomenal.  He’s phenomenal. 

Support Canadian talent and get your own copy of this CD – you won’t be sorry.  Thanks to Kardinal for making my job so easy – I can easily see what he’s ‘the people’s champ like Lennox Lewis”, as he raps on the title track.  Special thanks to Ken Witt of Virgin Music Canada (pictured right, also with Kardinal and Craig 'Big C' Mannix) and Mayday for arranging this interview. 






And Now, Fresh From Hornby Island . . .

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -

(Nov. 12, 20050 Tony Wilson is on the move. With the rainy season
descending upon the West Coast, the resourceful Canadian jazz guitarist and composer has just taken up new digs in Sandpiper on the east side of bucolic Hornby Island, northwest across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver. Hornby, population 1,000, has been Wilson's home for most of his adult life. "Where we were was super-primitive," he confides, of his most recent address there. "We had the bathtub outside. Stuff like that." No sooner has he settled in, and presumably bathed, than he's off this weekend with his Vancouver-based sextet to start his first tour of Canada. And come March of 2006, he'll be heading out on his own to Europe for engagements with the Dutch cornetist Eric Boeren. But be not misled: This isn't another overnight success story -- as if such a thing even existed for a jazz musician in Canada. Wilson is 46 now and has been a vital member of the Vancouver scene since he moved to the city from Hornby Island in 1987. (He moved back to Hornby in 1998.) His credits as a composer and/or guitarist include a succession of overlapping bands with decidedly contemporary leanings, including Video Barbeque, Celtic Works, Bugs Inside, Flowers for Albert, the Monkaholics and the two rather different sextets that currently carry his own name. "Contemporary," of course, is a relative term in jazz, but "contemporary" in Vancouver is as contemporary as jazz gets in Canada. "If there's one thing about the Vancouver scene," Wilson suggests in a telephone interview from Sandpiper, "there's a lot of improv. And a lot of European sensibilities, because of all the Europeans who come to the [Vancouver International Jazz] festival. Most of us have played with them."

Indeed it was one such encounter with Eric Boeren at this past summer's festival that brought Wilson the invitation to tour in Europe next year. But improv and Euro-sensibilities are just two elements of Wilson's own wholly multifarious approach to music. The sometimes raucous, electro-acoustically inclined ensemble that he'll be taking east next week, for example, has recorded tunes by the Beatles as well as Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman on its 2003 CD Horseplay (Shire Editions). And Wilson's more recent solo disc Horse Dreams (Drip Audio) includes, in his words, "a pretty wide palette of stuff -- avant-garde stuff, some noise stuff, but also some real simple, almost country-western melodies, some kora playing, and I do a little singing." Does he even consider his music jazz at this point? "It would be hard for some people to call it jazz," he responds amiably, noting the term's many and diverse applications these days. "Others would say, 'Oh yeah, it's jazz.' " (It is, it is.) "For me," he continues, "jazz is gone. It's another generation from me. "I learned music through jazz; I never played rock 'n' roll at first. I spent a lot of time studying jazz, bebop, and I still play that music, I know a lot of songs and I have those skills. But I decided a long time ago that it wasn't how I was going to express myself honestly." Still Wilson doesn't at all mind hearing his music described as jazz.

"I'm happy to be associated with that lineage, obviously. It's great music, I've been influenced by it, I still listen to it." And he's quick to evoke the name of no less a jazz icon than Duke Ellington when he talks about the way he writes music expressly for the specific musicians he has at hand. "It's totally like what Ellington did," he says. "I know who I'm going to write for, I know how they play, I know what they can do and I know what they're comfortable doing." "They," in this current case are musicians a generation younger: violinist Jesse Zubot, trumpeter J. P. Carter, alto saxophonist Masa Anzai, bassist Russell Sholberg and drummer Skye Brooks. Wilson's other -- and older -- sextet, a chamberish ensemble heard on his 1999 CD Lowest Note (Spool), has over the years included tenor saxophonist Dave Say, cellist Peggy Lee, bassist Paul Blaney and drummer Dylan van der Schyff. That's a pretty fair cross-section of the city's creative-music community. And the idea of "community" is clearly important to Wilson, even if he has chosen to remove himself physically from it for personal reasons in recent years. He sees his relationship with its members as being just as important to his development as all of the external factors that have shaped contemporary jazz more generally in recent years. "We all have influenced each other," he observes, "because we've all played together -- Peggy, Dylan, [guitarist] Ron [Samworth] and now the younger guys -- and we all have different interests." Their resulting growth individually has been exponential. Wilson also acknowledges the formative influence of several other Canadian musicians, in particular guitarists Sonny Greenwich and Oliver Gannon, composer Freddie Stone and drummer Claude Ranger, and argues that their examples, noted at an early stage in his own career, may be what has made his music a little different. "I didn't look to America or Europe," he says in retrospect, "any more than I did to Canada."

Of course, none of Greenwich, Gannon, Stone or Ranger could be said to have had -- or even worked for -- the kind of recognition that their artistry has warranted. Wilson follows in the same honourable, if honourless, Canadian tradition. "I'm not a great self-promoter," he admits, "and I'm not a great organizer, so it's a big thing for me even to get this little tour together." But together it is, and another step forward. "In the last little while," he agrees, "I've been doing a bit more travelling, slowly getting out there. It's a work in progress. I'm the kind of person . . . well, basically, I just keep on doing what I do. That's my approach. What little recognition I have in the larger community has just been a matter of longevity." The Tony Wilson Sextet appears at 1067 in Vancouver tonight, followed by stops at the MOeD Gallery in Halifax (Wednesday), the NOW Lounge in Toronto (Thursday), La Kemia in Montreal (Friday) and the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton (Saturday, Nov. 19).


Tony Wilson - guitars, loops, kalimba
Masa Anzai - tenor saxophone, electronics
J.P. Carter - trumpet, electronics
Jesse Zubot - violin, electronics
Russel Sholberg - bouble-bass
Skye Brooks - drums, percussions


Barenaked Ladies Enjoying Indie-pendence

Excerpt from - John Benson, Cleveland

(Nov. 11, 2005)
After officially leaving Reprise following its 2003 release "Everything to Everyone," the members of the Barenaked Ladies are finding the indie world to be filled with new opportunities for releasing music. The group is now aligned with Nettwerk Music Group via its own imprint, Desperation Records.  Singer/guitarist Ed Robertson tells the band is currently working on 30 new songs and fans should expect to hear them all sooner rather than later, or never.   "We're not whittling it down to what we think are the 12 or 14 songs that are going to be the next record," Robertson says. "We're recording everything
and we're going to put out everything. And not a big double or triple album, but [we'll] put out an album and go out on tour. And the next tour leg, put out an EP, another five or six songs, and just keep putting stuff out because I think that keeps us fresh and it keeps the fans interested and aware of what we're doing. It's just a new era."   Robertson is most excited about new tracks "Down to Earth" and "Everything Had Changed," He says these could be among the many unreleased songs that receive stage time on the band's upcoming holiday run, which begins Nov. 21 in Montreal.   Speaking of which, the quintet known for its quirky live shows is giving fans full access to concert recordings via its Web site as well as Apple's iTunes Music Store, which is selling more than 30 concerts.

"Another function of what we do these days is we record all of our shows on a full Pro Tools rig and mix them the next day," Robertson says. "We bring an engineer on the road with us, then those shows are uploaded and available for fans to get."  Robertson says the band may do some touring in the late spring or summer of 2006, with a full outing to coincide with the release of BNL's next, still untitled, album, due in about a year. As for where the group is headed sonically, he says, "I think we're going rawer, less slick sounding and more rock. We really want the record to sound like the band and not like this magical moment that happened in the studio and can never happen anywhere else. We want people to hear the five of us playing a rock song."


Jann Born To Host TV

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vit Wagner, Pop Music Critic

(Nov. 10, 2005) If CBC-TV executives were casting around for a way to get
back into the good graces of Canadians, they could do worse than to create a daytime variety show hosted by Jann Arden.  For starters, the Alberta singer comes with her own band. And, as she demonstrated at Massey Hall on Tuesday night, the musicians are as practised as foils for her barbs as David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer.  Arden was barely a half-dozen songs into her set, the first of five this week at the Shuter St. hall, before she started needling guitarist and co-writer Russell Broom, who has been with her for more than 11 years.  "The reason we've been together that long is that we've never been nude" was her offered rationale.  Later, she turned her attention to the band's other guitarist, Graham Powell, identified as a relative newcomer to the backing four-piece. Invited to give a demonstration of his talents, Powell offered up a passable Joe Jackson cover that had the audience cheering.  "If my mother was here," Arden quipped, shifting into her best church-lady voice, "she'd say, `The people in Toronto seemed to enjoy Graham more than they enjoyed you. Dad and I keep telling you you've got to have a beat.'"

The obligatory TV monologue would also be a snap. Anyone who has seen Arden perform — and her visits here seem to get longer each time around — can testify that she appears to relish the opportunities for between-song banter as much as she does belting out the tunes.  True, some of her material might be a bit blue for midday viewing, but the lengthy anecdote about the hour-long car trip home after consuming too much popcorn and diet soda at the movie probably would have survived the Mother Corp.'s currently relaxed standards.  Not to forget the music, of course. Between dishing the dirt with guests, Arden could bring a heavy dose of heartbreak to the proceedings by plumbing a catalogue that has produced six studio albums in the past dozen years. The current tour leans toward a typical balance of songs from her eponymous album of this year, including "All of This" and "I'll be Glad" and older favourites "I Would Die for You," "Will You Remember Me" and "Unloved."  The ever resourceful performer even managed to slip in an impromptu parody of Leonard Cohen, as well as delivering a song from a children's ditty she's working on: "I got a bunny. My bunny's name is Ed. I put him in the toilet. And now my bunny's dead."  Okay, so maybe Viewer Discretion Advised.

Jann's Arden-Variety Banter

Excerpt From The Globe And Mail - By Brad Wheeler

Jann Arden, At Massey Hall In Toronto on Tuesday

(Nov. 10, 2005)
Jann Arden played the first night of five at Toronto's venerable Massey Hall Tuesday, and, with all due respect to the abilities of the Albertan singer-songwriter, what exactly is up with that? Arden is not without attributes -- a warm, personal stage presence combined with a virtuous voice and everywoman lyrics irresistible to Ardenites. But her ample country-wide base of support is still a thing of wonder. Her material is consistently delivered, which seems both a failing and a strength. The 43-year-old Arden, dressed for farm life in faded jeans and jacket, is not a pony of many tricks. The music supplied by her five-piece band is strikingly unvaried, low in volume and relying on a few stock structures that sit blandly and dependably under her keening, heartfelt vocals. She is excessively fond of ballads, each sounding the same as the last. The many numbers from her new self-titled album seemed only a change in tempo or an added twang-touch away from a place in the repertoire of Shania Twain.  Two songs were notably different from the rest, but only because they revolved around famous riffs or melodies -- Willing to Fall Down borrowed from the Beatles' In My Life, while Waiting in Canada resembled Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind.  Speaking of Lightfoot, there is a rumour afoot that Arden has designs on some day eclipsing the icon's record number of some 150 Massey Hall appearances. "If she keeps on going like this," said hall programmer Jesse Kumagai, "surpassing it is not out of the question." Perhaps, but a particular difference between Lightfoot and Arden is that the former composes famously on his native country, while the latter writes chiefly about herself. "My job is to transport you off for a couple of hours and make you think about my personal life," the affable Arden said, before beginning the acoustic Will You Remember Me.

A middle-aged woman in the audience spoke before the show, saying she had seen Arden many times, and that it was the performer's "comedy" that was so attractive -- specifically, her between-song banter. "She's an incredible entertainer," was the explanation for Arden's loyal following. There's something to that, though Chris Rock and Ellen DeGeneres need not fear her competition. It is not the gags that work for Arden, it is her genial delivery. Her long-winded story about draining a jumbo Diet Coke at the movie theatre and rushing home to use the facilities was not particularly witty, but the fact that she would take the time to tell such a tale speaks to Arden's appeal. Before the slow, sermon-like encore of
Insensitive, the performer spoke of the potential of gaining her fans' friendship -- she didn't have time to sit down for coffee with each member of the audience, so the best she could do was to share herself on stage.  So, while Lightfoot's fans will remember him, they will not know him. Arden, meanwhile, is much the opposite. Sturdy, unspectacular and chatty, you've known her type all your life -- maybe as a teacher; maybe as a relative, maybe as a diner waitress. And for some, it seems, to know her is to love her. Jann Arden and band continue at Massey Hall through Saturday, and play Ottawa's National Arts Centre, Nov. 14 and 15; Halifax's Metro Centre, Nov. 17; and Montreal's Olympia Theatre, Nov. 19.


Making Rhymes On Our Times

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 10, 2005) Kanye West is not one of those artists who claim not to read reviews or pay attention to critics.  Towards the end of last night's not-quite-capacity show at the Air Canada Centre, the producer turned Grammy-winning rapper sat centre stage as an overhead screen scrolled excerpts of his negative press.  The quotes from media outlets such as Spin magazine and the Boston Globe labelled him "narcissistic," "egotistical" and "obnoxious" — typical of circulating opinion that the Chicago MC is an overrated sore loser and loudmouth.  Afterwards, clad in all-white slacks, blazer and sunglasses, the 28-year-old rhymer stood with his back to the audience, arms out, lapping up their adoration and reinforcing that idea that he may be imbued with a messianic complex — as in the interview where he referred to himself as the "ghetto pope."  That's unfortunate, because his work speaks for itself: his current hit "Gold Digger" from Late Registration has held the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 singles and Hot Ringtones charts for 10 weeks. And it's been No. 1 on the Pop 100 for eight weeks.  And the 7,000 who attended last night's concert — his first headlining stadium gig in Toronto after opening for Usher and cramming The Docks — were on their feet, dancing and singing along, for the entire 90-minute set, even during the overly saccharine "Hey Mama" which he dubbed "my little emotional segment of the show."  Exactly halfway through his two-month Touch the Sky Tour, West was energetic and playful as he delivered the songs which have marked him as the connector between socially conscious rap and its booty-shaking cousin. Backed by a keyboard player, percussionist, seven-woman string section, two back-up singers, and Quebec's DJ A-Trak, he offered little in the way of gimmicks. His dance moves amount to erratic shadow boxing and snapping his head sideways. But this audience was keen on his recitations about politics, spirituality, materialism and family values, with an admonishment to "live every day like it's your last."

It's ironic, really, that the most recent criticism of this college professor's son — who survived a 2002 car accident that broke his jaw in three places and who had early difficulty winning a recording contract because of his middle class background — has come from former crack dealer 50 Cent. The gansta' rapper defended George W. Bush after West's infamous ad-lib at a Katrina benefit that Bush "doesn't care about black people."  Diligently pushing his new biopic, 50 is being lauded for applying the work ethic of his drug dealing past to push menacing, sexist songs. West is being taken to task for trying too hard for critical respect, for taking musical risks and for having healthy self-esteem.  There are worse problems, especially in hip hop.


Neil Young: The T.O. Years

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Goddard, Staff Reporter

(Nov. 12, 2005)
Neil Young was conceived, his father always maintained, on the dining room floor of a friend's house during a record snowfall.  "I remember the street in Toronto, the wild February blizzard through which only the hardiest moved, on skis, sliding downtown through otherwise empty streets to empty offices," Scott Young recalls in his 1984 memoir, Neil and Me.  Scott would later become one of Canada's best-known journalists — a featured columnist for The Globe and Mail, and intermission host on the country's most popular television show, Hockey Night in Canada.  On Feb.4, 1945, when the storm hit, he was a sub-lieutenant in the Navy on home leave.  He, his wife Rassy and their 3-year-old son Bob were visiting the home of Ian and Lola Munro, near Eglinton Ave. and Mount Pleasant Rd.  Five inches of snow fell that evening, The Toronto Daily Star reported the next day. After dinner, the Youngs had no choice but to stay over.  "A mattress was hauled down to the dining-room floor and shoved against the wall for Rassy and me," Scott recalled. "We were just past our middle 20s and had been apart for most of the previous year ... We tried to be fairly quiet."

Toronto General Hospital,
585 University Ave.
Neil entered the world on Nov. 12, 1945, at the Private Patients' Pavilion of Toronto General Hospital, since torn down. "He had a lot of black hair," Scott wrote of his first glimpse of the boy.

315 (formerly 335)
Brooke Ave.
A modest three-bedroom bungalow became the Youngs' first home. A monster home now stands on the site. There, he displayed an early musical affinity.
"In his playpen, when the record player or radio was on, he would jig to Dixieland music even before he could stand up by himself," recalled Scott. "His whole body moved to the rhythm."

Hospital for Sick Children,
555 University Ave.
In 1951, the family was living 100 kilometres northeast of Toronto in Omemee, then a village of 750 people.  Late one night, Scott heard Neil groan painfully in his bed and got up to investigate.  "What's the matter, pally?" he asked his son.  "My back hurts," the boy replied.  That afternoon, the family drove through a lightning storm to Toronto, where a doctor confirmed Neil had polio. For the next several days, he endured excruciating pain and, although he survived, the disease brought him lifelong problems.  "I was in and out of hospitals for the two years between
After the Gold Rush (1970) and Harvest (1972)," Young once told Rolling Stone magazine.  "I have one weak side and all the muscles slipped on me. My discs slipped. I couldn't hold my guitar up ... I wore a brace ... I could only stand up four hours a day ... The doctors were starting to talk about wheelchairs, so I had some discs removed."

133 Rose Park Dr.
In the summer of 1954, when Neil was 8, the Youngs moved to a handsome red-brick duplex on a quiet street in Moore Park. The boys enrolled at nearby Whitney Public School.  The family was seeking a new start. While still in Omemee, Scott had been travelling and carrying on an affair. He had asked for a divorce, then changed his mind. That winter Scott wrote his first novel,
The Flood.  "And then the flood came," the jacket copy reads. "Martin was to find solace not in his children, but in the person of a married woman."

49 Old Orchard Grove
From late 1955 to late 1958, the Youngs lived on a rural property east of Toronto in Pickering. Then they moved back to Toronto, to a tidy two-storey brick structure with a front bay window.  Neil had just turned 13 and enrolled in Grade 7 at nearby John Wanless Public School. He was also getting into music. Late at night, he would listen to the local Top 40 radio station CHUM 1050 and to other stations picked up from the southern United States.  "That's when I really became aware of what was going on," he once told rock journalist and filmmaker Cameron Crowe. "I knew that I wanted to play, that I was into it. `Maybe,' by the Chantels, `Short Fat Fannie,' Elvis Presley, Larry Williams, Chuck Berry, those were the first people I heard. I used to just fall asleep listening to the music. I was a real swinger."  And he began to play his first instrument — a plastic ukulele.  "The first thing I learned is that three chords are the basis to a lot of songs," he later told British rock journalist Nick Kent, for the 1994 book
The Dark Stuff. "It's a blues-based idea. You start in G, go to C, and resolve it all with a D chord ... I basically just taught myself, figuring out as I went along."

Ciccone's Dining Lounge,
601 King St. W.
The Youngs often ate together at Ciccone's, now the high-end restaurant Susur. It was also there, in September, 1959, that Scott told his sons that he was moving out for good this time. Bob was 17, Neil not yet 14. During an assignment out west, Scott had fallen in love with a press officer.  "Helpless, helpless, helpless," Neil sings in his 1970 childhood reminiscence, with Crosby, Stills and Nash.  "His music always had a sort of forlorn and desolate undertone," Rassy once recalled. "At times I would wonder why his face would light up with a sort of joy when he'd play something he'd composed that was so sad it brought tears to my eyes."

The Night Owl, 102 Avenue Rd.
Neil attended Grade 9 at Lawrence Park Collegiate. A year after Scott moved out, Rassy and Neil moved to Winnipeg, where the boy played in high-school bands and developed as a guitarist. After a stint in Fort William, now Thunder Bay, he returned to Toronto in mid-June, 1965, determined to make it big.  On almost no money, with notions of failure constantly on his mind, he lived a transient life, moving from apartment to apartment mostly in the Yorkville area.  "Well, I'm up in T.O. keeping jive alive," he sings in "Ambulance Blues," on his 1974
On the Beach album, "and out on the corner it's half past five."  "That's the beginning of that whole (introspective) side of my music," he told journalist Nick Kent. "I was by myself, just me and my guitar travelling alone, just showing up at these places."  Among the many addresses where Young lived, one stands out for its minor moment in rock history: the apartment of folk singer Vicki Taylor, above the Night Owl coffeehouse in Yorkville.  She had been living there with John Kay, later famous as lead singer for Steppenwolf and for the hit "Born to be Wild," but he moved out.  "A week later I returned to pick up a few odds and ends and met another fellow there ... a singer/songwriter from Winnipeg named Neil Young," Kay writes in his 1994 autobiography, Magic Carpet Ride.  "We said hello and talked briefly. He had a guitar, I played him something, and we talked about music."

The Mynah Bird Club,
114 Yorkville Ave.
As a promotional gimmick, the owner of the Mynah Bird coffeehouse helped sponsor a band of the same name and, in January 1966, Young replaced the lead guitarist.  The singer was Ricky James Matthews, later famous as Rick James for the 1981 hit "Super Freak."  "When Neil took his first solo," James once told
Rolling Stone, "he was so excited he leaped off the stage, the plug came out, and nobody heard anything."  Another sponsor was John Craig Eaton, scion of the Eaton department store family. He lined up gigs at Rosedale house parties and opened an Eaton's account for band members to buy equipment.  Things were going well until Motown Records invited the band to record and James was arrested in Detroit for having deserted the U.S. Navy.

The Cellar Club,
169 Avenue Rd.
The Mynah Birds disbanded. In early March 1966, Young and bass player Bruce Palmer met at the Cellar jazz and chess club, now a TD bank, to plot their next move.  In his 8 1/2-month Toronto interlude, he had not once been able to play one of his own songs to a live audience.  "Let's get the hell out of here," Young said, as Palmer recalled in John Einarson's 1992 biography of Young,
Don't Be Denied.  "What do you mean?" Palmer said.  "Sell everything we can and get a car and go to L.A."  They sold the equipment Eaton had advanced them and bought a 1953 Pontiac hearse. Three days after arriving in Los Angeles, they helped form Buffalo Springfield. Ten days after that they opened on a tour with the Byrds, the No.1 U.S. band at the time. And three months after that, they opened at Hollywood Bowl for the Rolling Stones.

The Riverboat,
134 Yorkville Ave.
While living nearby, Young never came close to performing at the Riverboat, a showcase for major U.S. and Canadian folk acts. In February 1969, however, he returned from California to play a week-long engagement. By then, he had recorded three albums with Buffalo Springfield and had released his first solo album,
Neil Young.  "He sings with a light, high, near falsetto voice," Toronto Star reviewer Jack Batten wrote approvingly of the show, "with a quaver near the end of dying lines."

Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St.
Tickets sold so fast to Young's homecoming at Massey Hall on Jan. 19, 1971, that a second concert had to be added the same night.  The year before, he had released two hit albums:
Déjà Vu as part of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; and After the Gold Rush with Crazy Horse.  The "Journey Through the Past" tour that brought him to Massey Hall was to be a series of solo concerts on piano and guitar to help him catch his breath. He was 25 years old.  "Rich in emotion," the Star said of the concert.  John Craig Eaton got a court order to seize Young's ticket receipts up to the cost of the equipment cashed in five years earlier.  "It was the end of my dalliance in trying to help people in showbiz," Eaton said in an interview a few years ago.  "I paid the whole shot without question," Young told biographer Einarson.

Maple Leaf Gardens,
60 Carlton St.:
On Jan. 15, 1973, building on the success of his 1972 album
Harvest, Young played what was then the city's largest concert venue, part of his Time Fades Away tour with the Stray Gators.  With that concert, Young became the first Torontonian, other than a religious leader, ever to fill Maple Leaf Gardens to its 18,000-person capacity.

Neil Young's recent self-descriptions as a prairie boy are not to be taken literally.  "Bury me out on the prairie where the buffalo used to roam," he sings on his latest album
Prairie Wind, released in September, "then I won't be far from home."  His affinity for the prairies owes to his family heritage — his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents all lived in Manitoba. Young's desire to return there may have been stirred — as he suggests in one song — by his father's death from Alzheimer's in June this year.

No matter where he is or where he's going, Neil Young remains a Toronto boy. His life and his artistic expression were shaped here. Happy birthday, Neil.


Canadian Fans Can Preview New Notorious B.I.G. Tracks At

Source:  Warner Music Canada

(Nov. 1, 2005) Beginning Wednesday November 2, 2005, Canadian hip-hop fans can log on to to get their first taste of the album
The Notorious B.I.G. Duets: The Final Chapter.  Each week for the next six weeks, a different track will be released on the website leading up to the record’s release on Tuesday December 20, 2005. The album is the second posthumous release from The Notorious B.I.G., generally acknowledged as the finest East Coast rapper in history. was established to give Canadian fans a place to go to find the latest news and new release information for some of their favourite R&B artists such as Missy Elliott, Twista, Trina, Craig David, Fat Joe and the Bad Boy Records roster.  Duets: The Final Chapter is the perfect marriage of B.I.G.’s distinctive  rhymes and delivery with some of today’s greatest MC’s and vocalists.  All of the tracks are brand new from the best producers in the music industry.  The album features duets with the likes of Eminem, Diddy, Twista, Bones Thugs N Harmony, Missy Elliott and Korn among others.

In the early 90’s, The Notorious B.I.G. burst onto the music scene providing rhymes to tracks by Craig Mack and Mary J. Blige.  B.I.G. solidified his place in the hip hop world with his 1994 debut album Ready To Die.  With Sean Comb’s massive production and B.I.G.’s vivid rhymes, the album was soon considered a classic and brought Bad Boy Records to the forefront of East Coast hip-hop.  Unfortunately the album titled proved to be prophetic when, in 1997, he was a victim of a shooting.  Soon after came the release of Life After Death featuring the hits “Hipnotized” and “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” which is considered by many to be the greatest hip-hop album of all time.   The tracks being released on are:

Nasty Girl - Featuring Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge and Avery Storm (First official radio single)
Hold Ya Head - Featuring Bob Marley
Beef - Featuring Mobb Deep
Breakin Old Habits - Featuring T.I. and Slim Thug
Spit Your Game - Featuring Twista and Bone Thugs N Harmony

A full track listing for Duets: The Final Chapter is currently available at


Song Keeps Lost Ship Afloat

Mike Householder, Associated Press

(Nov. 10, 2005) DETROIT - It's an evocative song that defies description:
haunting yet comforting, wistful yet powerful, mythic yet real.  "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" was among Gordon Lightfoot's greatest hits, an unlikely Top 40 smash about the deaths of 29 men aboard an ore carrier that plunged to the floor of Lake Superior during a nasty storm on this day in 1975.  "In large measure, his song is the reason we remember the Edmund Fitzgerald," said maritime historian Frederick Stonehouse. "That single ballad has made such a powerful contribution to the legend of the Great Lakes."  Three decades after the tragedy, the Fitzgerald remains the most famous of the 6,000 ships that disappeared on the Great Lakes. A new book is out about the sinking, Mighty Fitz (Bloomsbury) by Wisconsin author Michael Schumacher.  Lightfoot first read about the doomed ship in Newsweek. That telling inspired him to write one of the signature songs of his lengthy career.  At 6 1/2 minutes, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" came out in 1976 and reached No. 2 during 21 weeks on the pop charts. It still lingers like the memory of the doomed craft.  The song remains on Lightfoot's set list; he played it last summer at Detroit's Fox Theater, where the crowd included Ruth Hudson, the mother of a deckhand from the Fitzgerald.

Hudson, who met backstage with Lightfoot, has become friendly with the singer over the years. The Ohio resident said the song is therapeutic to the families of the crew.  "It's kept the men and the memorial to the men alive," said Hudson. "I think it's been good for the families. They have felt comfort in it. I have talked to just about all of them, and I haven't talked to anyone who didn't like the song."  Lightfoot declined to be interviewed for this story. But he told the Associated Press in 2000 that "Wreck" was "a song you can't walk away from.  "You can't walk away from the people (victims), either," he said. "The song has a sound and total feel all of its own."  The structure of the song is simple: 14 verses, each four lines long. Its 450-plus words are carefully chosen, delivered over a haunting melody.  The song tells the story of the Fitzgerald's fatal voyage, which began Nov. 9 in Superior, Wis., where it took on 28,700 tonnes of iron ore for a trip to Detroit.  A day later it was being pounded by 145-km/h wind gusts and 9-metre waves.  Ship's captain Ernest McSorley radioed a trailing freighter, the Arthur M. Anderson, to say the Fitzgerald had sustained topside damage and was listing. At 7:10 p.m., he announced, "We are holding our own."  But the ship soon disappeared from radar without issuing an SOS. After a few days, a vessel with sonar was able to locate the Fitzgerald only 24 kilometres from the safe haven of Whitefish Bay in upper Michigan.

Memorial events are planned for today at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Mich., and the Mariners' Church of Detroit.  Last Saturday, the Sault Symphony Orchestra in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was to present a 2002 piano concerto that chronicles the Edmund Fitzgerald's sinking.  In communities hugging the Great Lakes, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is bound to be heard and discussed today.  "Any bit of literature, prose or poetry that magnifies the loss of loved ones is so dramatic," said Bishop Richard W. Ingalls of the Mariners' Church. "Lightfoot's song definitely has given it a life that seems not to end."


The Robertson Treatment: No Time To Die…. Robertson Treatment’s 50 Cent Interview

Excerpt from - By Gil Robertson

(Nov, 10, 2005) In the 20 years since the release of “ Krush Groove”, marked cinema’s first foray into rap music, we have seen many rappers come into
this business and shine -- LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Will Smith, and most recently Chris “ Ludacris” Bridges, Mos Def, and Andre “3000” Benjamin.  A few years, the story of Eminem was dramatized in the film “8 Mile”, and now the story of 50 Cent is ready to explode on the big screen. In “Get Rich or Die Tryin”, 50 Cent plays the role of Marcus, a drug dealer who after being shot nine times and left for dead, flips his life to become a successful hip hop artist. In speaking with Robertson Treatment, 50 Cent talks about the difference between the film and his life, nude scenes, and getting rich.

Robertson Treatment: Did this film feel like therapy for you to relive your life again?

50 Cent: It was therapeutic. There were things in my life that I hadn't put a lot of thought into. The film forces you to go back to certain places in order to make reference to the emotion, which you are supposed to display on actual screen. Some people think it should be easier to play a role based on your actual experiences but I think it might be more difficult because sure you have to research and figure out how your character would react to certain things and having yourself to make reference to; once you get yourself in that mood, there's so much of you to judge in character, when you get to that point it's difficult to get out of it and go to the next thing because it's a real experience.

RT: Although the film is a fictional story, how much of your life is in the film?

50 Cent: It's about 75% actual.

RT: Is there anything that isn't true?

50 Cent: Not really because in working with Terry Winters, I had the option to change things. What's fictional is the part where I'm so much in search for my father. I got to the end of the film early in my life and I felt like I'm supposed to be able to do that without that assistance at this point. The things that my father would have been able to help me at probably would have been when I made the decision to go out and hustle. Because he wasn't physically present to provide guidance at that point, I don't think it's necessary at this point. I'm a grown man now.

RT: There's a line in the film that's not meant to be funny when the guy who shoots your character comments, "I shot him nine times". That scene is about something that actually took place in your life and folks are laughing. How do you feel about that scene?


Eric Benet Heads To The Top Of The R&B Adult Chart

Excerpt from

(Nov. 12, 2005) Eric Benet is heading to the top of the R&B Adult chart with his sultry ballad, "I Wanna Be Loved.”  The single, which was most added at
Urban AC when first serviced, is currently on the R&B Adult chart. Eric Benet's third album, Hurricane, released earlier this year, includes thirteen original tracks that are infused with courage, honesty, vulnerability and stubborn optimism.   "These songs are about real life.  They are snapshots taken at different stages of my journey over the past 5 years," Eric shares.   Music of this range and resonance is never created overnight.  For Benet, this process was a long one.  Eric worked on two previous albums before deciding to hold back and eventually creating Hurricane. Eric’s approach in the studio was exceptionally consistent, considering the album’s five-year gestation.   “I just tried to open myself up musically.  I wanted to use as many real instruments in as live a setting as possible. That seemed like the best way to stay true to the spirit of the songs.”  It’s that spirit that infuses Hurricane with its unique power and perspective. From the opening notes of the inspirational “Be Myself Again,” through the full emotional spectrum of such standout selections as “Where Does The Love Go,” “In The End,” and “Still With You,”  Eric Benét proves conclusively that an act of courage is a thing of beauty.

Benet recently performed “Heart Of America” on NBC’s Today Show with Wynonna Judd and Michael McDonald.   As part of Warner Music Group and NBC’s Today’s Show’s campaign to build houses for Habitat for Humanity, all proceeds from the song, co written by Eric Benet,  will benefit the Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross and Music Cares.  During the third game of the World Series, Eric performed “Heart Of America” once again.   You can catch Eric on the road doing promo across the country in cities including Birmingham, AL, Nashville, TN,  Washington, DC, Virginia Beach, VA, Orlando, FL and Milwaukee, WI.  Eric also on Tom Joyner’s new television show.   To check out the single - "I Wanna Be Loved" and other songs from Hurricane - visit more information on Eric Benet, press kits, or interviews please contact Tremedia, Tresa Sanders @ 845.623.2325 or via email at or Warner Bros., Liz Rosenberg@ 212-275-4616 or via email at .


Goapele Is Out To 'Change It All'

Source: Langston Sessoms, Project Manager,

(Nov. 10, 2005)
Goapele brings an infusion of fresh energy and a classic, yet new sound to R&B music with her sophomore set, Change It All.  The Oakland, California-based songstress broke onto the Bay Area music scene in 2001 with her ethereal EP, Closer, and the follow-up full length album, Even Closer. Released on her family-owned record company, Skyblaze Recordings, the album's mix of soulful grooves and thought-provoking lyrics introduced the world to a multi-faceted artist and songwriter, known as much for her social and political activism as for her lush romantic ballads.  "I grew up," Goapele explains, "inspired by a tradition of soulful singers like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, and Miriam Makeba, people who created timeless music and positive change in the world. I'm also part of the hip hop generation, and my influences continue to grow, so my music has become a blend of many musical traditions."  Critics from Rolling Stone, Billboard, Essence, Vibe, and a host of others, hailed the songstress as an emerging artist to watch and heralded Even Closer as an album that was ahead of its time. The inspiring title track, "Closer," notched #1's on radio playlists from San Francisco to LA to DC to Baton Rouge, and as of August, 2005, four years after its initial release, was #1 at the two largest urban stations in Detroit.  Goapele followed up the release of her album debut by hitting the road and taking her serene -- yet inspiring -- sound to the masses, both stateside and abroad. Time and again, the singer wowed sold-out crowds with her emotionally-powerful songs, energetic spirit, and electrifying shows.

While Goapele garnered the support of music critics and fans, a host of fellow musicians and celebrities--including The Roots, Talib Kweli, Magic Johnson, Prince and Stevie Wonder--came under the spell of her music, style and sensibility. "I'm very excited to get the support of artists I've long admired," she says.  For her new album, Goapele returned to her Bay Area roots to craft an artistically challenging sophomore set inspired by her recent experiences both in and out of the industry. The album was recorded largely at her Skylight studios in Oakland with a combination of old friends Jeff Bhasker, Mike Tiger, and Amp Live, and fresh collaborators like the production team Sa-Ra Creative Partners (Jill Scott, Bilal), veteran producer Linda Perry (Pink, Christina Aguilera), Bay Area hip hop producer Bedrock (E-40, the Team) and fellow soulster Dwele.  "It was really important to me to work with the people who helped me with my first album," Goapele says of her long-term and frequent collaborators. "We know where each other is coming from, so there's already a strong foundation to create from. And we've all come along way since we made "Even Closer". Jeff [Bhasker], for example, co-wrote and produced the title track of The Game's album, 'The Documentary,' last year, so I was really excited to come back together in the studio with them and share our new skills and experience."  The result is a collection of love songs and politically and socially inspired songs that remain true to Goapele's firmly planted soul roots while allowing her to branch out in a number of exciting, new directions. Songs like the emotive "Darker Side Of The Moon" and "Love Me Right," with its electro-pop funk, show Goapele taking aesthetic risks while staying true to her signature sound.

"What I am happy about was that I don't feel like any of the collaborations were forced," says Goapele. "They were connections that were already there, and we were just waiting for the right time to work together."  Goapele collaborated with Linda Perry on "Darker Side Of The Moon," a ballad that reflects her ability to travel far beyond the borders of traditional R&B while strengthening the core values of sweet soul music.  "I met Linda at one of my shows in LA," says Goapele of the collaboration with Perry, "and we talked about the possibility of working together. Although I was a fan of her music, I really didn't know how our styles would mesh, but I'm really proud of what we created together. 'Darker Side' was inspired by Pink Floyd, who I had recently become a fan of and had been a favourite of Linda's for years."  The granddaughter of German holocaust survivors and South African grandparents who lived through apartheid, Goapele knows the importance of giving back time, energy and resources to the community and the planet. "I've been involved in community organization since I was 10, so it's naturally integrated into my music. One of the reasons I wanted to be a songwriter in the first place was so I could sing lyrics that I believed in and that come from my heart. I draw from my own experience and the experiences I've watched others go through. I want my music to truly represent me, instead of trying to fit stereotypes that women in this industry are encouraged to fit into."  The title track, "Change It All," started with a song idea," says Goapele. "I was feeling disempowered and frustrated with the people who were elected in 2000, and then re-elected, and frustrated about the disappearing support for music and art and resources that are being taken away from our local communities in order to fund a war that many of us don't believe in."  In the spirit of Goapele's interest in positive change, she and Skyblaze founded an online community that shares its name with her album. presents Goapele's musical message, highlights political and social change-makers, and provides a forum for Goapele's fans and others to network and create ways to promote action, creativity, courage and positive growth for people and communities everywhere.

"In talking to the team at Skyblaze, we started thinking, 'What if we used this opportunity to create a tool for other people to connect," she adds. "So, instead of looking at what's wrong in the world, let's look at what changes are already happening and use it as a way for people to organize around those things."  For a singer whose name means 'to move forward' in Sitswana, a South African language, her new album, Change It All, proves that enlightened change can be a positive force in the world of music and beyond.

Note: Goapele is pronounced Gwa-pa-lay.


Em's Longtime Buddy Catches A Break

Excerpt from

(Nov. 9, 2005) Trick-Trick grew up on 7 Mile Road, just east of Detroit's infamous 8 Mile Road. In the mid-1990s, he spent his time hustling the streets and trying to make a name for himself alongside a then unknown Eminem. While Em has became a household name, Trick-Trick has been a mainstay on the underground hip-hop scene. But that's about to change.  Last week, Trick Trick's "Welcome 2 Detroit" featuring Eminem, entered the Billboard Pop 100 at No. 90. It's the first single off "The People Vs.," which will be released Dec. 13 by Wonder Boy/Motown.  Although it marks first time the two rappers have worked together, "Welcome 2 Detroit" is a song that's been a long time in the making.   "We met back in the day, before [Eminem] was signed," recalls Trick-Trick. "At the time, people didn't take him seriously. It could have had a lot to do with him being white. Before I met him, I was first introduced to his music by a [radio DJ] named Bushman. I said, 'I gotta hook up with this guy.' I'll never forget [that] Bushman was like, 'Here's the catch: he's white!' I said, 'I don't give a f*** what he is. The boy's sweet!'  "The following week I was with Proof from D12, and he introduced me to Eminem. I met him and [manager] Paul Rosenberg. I won't ever forget this, too. I looked at them and said, 'Ya'll are two scary lookin' white boys,'" he laughs. "When Em signed with Dre, I knew he would have success, but I had no idea we was lookin' at the next Elvis Presley."  Years of friendship have led to Eminem playing a big role in Trick-Trick's shot at the big time. He wrote, produced and raps on "Welcome 2 Detroit."   "One day, in 2004, Em called me and said to come into the studio. He put a CD in and it was his version of 'Welcome 2 Detroit.' I thought it was just him giving me a shout out on the record, and he was like, 'No, this is yours. This is from me to you,'" says Trick-Trick.   "He gave me a lot of advice and worked with me real close on this album. If it had just been a Trick-Trick record it wouldn't have gotten as much attention as it is [getting because of] Eminem."  Trick-Trick considers the pair to be a "tight family," yet he didn't sign to Eminem's successful Shady Records imprint.

"Em wanted to sign me to Shady and Interscope," says Trick-Trick. "Their roster is so big, though, and I've never really been the type of artist that can be controlled. I'm always doin' somethin', gettin' into somethin'. Normal label protocol wasn't my style; it's still not my style. The offer [from Shady] was there, but it was so complicated that it didn't ever go through. Shady is a powerful label and they work hard, and Interscope is the best brain in the business. But it all panned out, and I ended up being on Universal, which is the power behind Interscope. So, even better."  But it's not just the Eminem connection that has led to Trick-Trick's success. Over the years, Trick-Trick says he has sold about 2 million albums on the streets and through various indie labels, including his own Wonder Boy Entertainment.   "On Click Boom Records, I had one single that [sold] like 600,000 copies through a [licensing] agreement," he says, adding that it took a lot of hustling to get the word out about his music. "You get in the streets first, and you work the record in the clubs -- I like to call them the mom-and-pop clubs, you know the places that only hold 90 people -- and the topless bars. If you see a woman [dancing] to a certain song, you remember that song. Then the [local radio] programmers picked the record up."  Before he signed with Motown, Trick-Trick got a taste of success when "Welcome 2 Detroit" was leaked to radio. Then he was willing to do "whatever it took" to build on that success and get his name into the mainstream.  "Two weeks before the [2005] Anger Management tour, the song leaked," he says. "I called Em and said what do you think if I tagged [along on] this tour? It came out of my pocket, but we got our own tour bus, followed the whole tour and promoted the single. When Universal found out I was on the tour, they were like, 'Whoa, if we don't catch up with this guy he gonna leave us!' So it paid off."  "They say whatever it took to get your baby hooked, it's gonna take the same thing to keep her goin'. I feel like that. I can't sit down and relax now. Now I gotta work 10 times harder," he says. "I'm not a stranger to this business, and I have my own money. So when the label says we gonna go buy one billboard, I'm gonna go buy two more. When the label says we gonna do a 20 city promo tour, I'm gonna make it 30 cities. I want to go the extra mile."

Links: Artist:


Madonna's Gets New Spin

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Tabassum Siddiqui, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 14, 2005) In this era of downloading, where a catchy new song is only an iPod shuffle away, even an enduring brand like
Madonna needs an innovative marketing push.  That's not lost on her record label, Warner Music, whose Canadian arm has been rolling out a cleverly orchestrated campaign of Toronto promotional events leading up to tomorrow's release of the singer's latest album, Confessions on a Dance FloorMadonna may be dominating Canadian urban radio with her infectious new single "Hung Up," but from local record-release parties to an exclusive radio promotion deal, a benefit bash in the gay village — even a Madonna-themed spin class at a local gym — marketers aren't taking anything for granted.  "In the past, there has been a cookie-cutter approach to marketing music. Our industry has been challenged by a few different factors, so we have to find new ways of getting the music to the people," says Dale Kotyk, director of marketing at Warner Music Canada.  The stakes are high for Confessions to do well following 2003's poorly received American Life, widely viewed as the pop diva's only musical flop in a long and storied career. "Specifically with this album, it's really a return to dance music, so the key to the success of this record is tapping into the younger audience that will take to it," Kotyk explains. While it isn't unusual for record companies to try to find different ways to maximize exposure for their artists, Warner Music Canada's approach has resulted in some innovative happenings in Toronto.  Besides the typical massive advertising campaign, including a promotion with Motorola's new iTunes-enabled cellphones (a "street team" has been riding around town in an SUV limo previewing tracks from the new record on the cellphones), Warner partnered with select local organizations to hold special CD-release events and arranged an exclusive radio promotion with CHUM-FM.  "It's a multifaceted marketing campaign, but it's really important that we have this connection with the street," Kotyk says.

After all, the secret to Madonna's success has been her uncanny ability to tap into the zeitgeist, to scoop up street-level trends and sell them back to the masses. 
Confessions, a slick disco-pop record, takes her right back where she began: in the clubs. Even though the record is strictly under wraps until tomorrow, some locals got to get down to the new tunes Friday night at two Warner-sanctioned CD-listening parties at swanky nightclubs C Lounge and Ultra Supper Club.  CHUM-FM, which is exclusively previewing the Madonna record in the Toronto market, hosted the listening party at C Lounge for 150 contest winners, playing the entire album for the first time.  "Her music really just speaks well to our audience; they love her music, so it was a very natural fit for us to partner with Warner on this," says Loretta Tate, CHUM-FM's promotions director.  According to the Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, "Hung Up" hit No. 1 on the Canadian contemporary hit radio chart in only its second week on air, making it the fastest rising single since BDS began monitoring Canadian radio airplay in 1995. The song also debuted at No. 1 on the Canadian digital downloads chart, which monitors legal music downloads.  The key now is to maintain that momentum — perhaps literally, in the case of an interesting event taking place tomorrow to mark the release: a Madonna-themed spinning class.  Warner's Kotyk and his wife take spinning — exercise classes on stationary bikes that mimic the endurance of road biking — at Quad Spin, a King St. W. studio popular with local entertainment types, and suggested to the owner the new Madonna record would be the perfect high-energy soundtrack for a 45-minute spin session.  "I truly believe we will be the first people in the world to spin to the record in its entirety," says owner/instructor Micheline Wedderburn, a "huge" Madonna fan who has been using the singer's music in her classes for eight years.  "We're going to have disco balls and costumes and everything: it's going to be a real Madonna frenzy," she laughed.

Wedderburn will lead all three sessions (at 5:30, 6:45 and 7:45 p.m.) and notes that the 40 spaces for each class filled up rapidly, with people signing up weeks in advance.  "I just think it's so awesome not only because it falls on the day of the release, but I just love her music, and to have something that's so fresh and so hot is really exciting," Wedderburn says. "Everybody who's a die-hard Madonna fan has changed with her through the ages, but some worried that maybe she'd lost her edge. I'm 40, so to see that she can reinvent herself at 47 is great."  The constituency perhaps most excited about Madge's return to the dance floor is her loyal gay fan base, which will celebrate the release of her album with a benefit for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation at popular Church St. fixture Woody's on Wednesday evening.  "She is probably the biggest artist in the gay community at the present time," says Koytk. "The gay audience is going to play such a major role in the success of
Confessions."  To that end, Warner is pulling out all the stops for the benefit, donating rare Madonna collectibles for a silent auction (admission to the event is free, but proceeds from the auction and the after-party at 5ive Nightclub will go to the foundation) and even getting the star to send a recorded video greeting which will be shown at the bash.  "It's obviously maximum exposure for the album and a way for people to get involved," says Scott Cheslock, the foundation's social events co-ordinator. "We've had literally hundreds of calls about the event."  Cheslock, who has heard most of the album already, thinks the strong word of mouth will propel Confessions up the charts.  "Madonna's so changing all the time. How long ago was she just wearing a flowery dress, reading her book to all those children, and now here she is all sexy, flexing her muscles on stage. She's the ultimate entertainer," he says.  But it isn't Madonna's legendary ability to morph with the times that's helping generate the hype this time around, says local freelance music critic Joshua Ostroff, but something more basic: a good pop song.  "We're interested in Madonna because we've always been. She's like the non-train wreck Michael Jackson. But we're also still interested in Madonna's music, not just her celebrity, because sometimes it's still awesome," Ostroff says.


Heather Headley Returns With New Music

Source: Chrissy Murray / CPR MEDIA /

(New York, NY) - RCA Records vocal powerhouse Heather Headley, whose new single “In My Mind,” snagged the coveted #1 most added slot at urban radio formats overall in its debut week and is currently soaring up the Top 20, is putting the finishing touches on her eagerly awaited sophomore album of the same name, scheduled to hit stores on Jan 31.  In My Mind is another standard-setting effort from Headley, whose stunning 2002 debut effort, This Is Who I Am, (‘staggeringly powerful’ raved one reviewer) garnered the multi-talented performer a slew of first-time-out awards and nominations, including two Soul Train Lady Of Soul Awards, dual nods from both the BET Awards and NAACP Awards, and two Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best R&B Vocalist. The new album, according to Headley, is not only a ‘labour of love,’ but a ‘restorative’ process that once again finds the singer/songwriter wrapping herself around a song like no other vocalist in R&B or pop.    “I wanted the album to be like a book, almost,” she says.  “Where the songs provide glimpses into my personality, taking you to some very different places musically, and hopefully are full of fun and surprises along the way.”  

Joined by some of music’s most compelling producers, Headley reveals her keen musical instincts on the new album, bucking the trend to ride the ‘name-checking’ production merry-go-round and choosing, instead, a subtle mix of deft collaborators who perfectly complement her wide-ranging musical tapestry.   Whether its veteran production stalwart Babyface, who helps flip the script on the playful/pampering anthem “Me Time,” or Grammy nominated Shannon Sanders (India.Arie), who co-wrote and produced the title track, or the one-and-only Shaggy, who zeroes in on the Dancehall-flecked “Rain,” Headley expands her horizons on the provocatively textured CD like never before.  Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (who collaborated on her debut album) also step up on the new disc, with rap icon Lil Jon contributing one of the album’s most unique gems, the effusive “Back When It Was.”    “Your second album is always a little more worried over,” says Heather, “Because there are suddenly expectations to what you’re doing.  But I felt very comfortable working with these guys.  I love the notion that good music can still affect you in an instant, and I don’t mind saying I think we can affect a lot of people with this one.”



Twain To Receive Order Of Canada

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Nov. 16, 2005) TIMMINS (CP) —
Shania Twain will receive this country's highest honour for lifetime achievement when she is invested as an officer of the Order of Canada during a ceremony in Ottawa on Friday.  Twain, who was in New York as a presenter at the Country Music Awards Tuesday when the announcement was made, will be one of 43 people to be honoured by Governor General Michaelle Jean.  Other notable Canadians being honoured are speedskater Catriona Le May Doan, former British Columbia premier David Barrett, and actress Rita Lafontaine.  Of the 43, 18 will be invested as officers and 25 as members.  The announcement from the Governor General's office says Twain's "rags-to-riches story ... has become legendary.  "Today, she enjoys enormous success, yet she remains true to her roots. Dedicated to eliminating child hunger, she supports a number of food distribution agencies like food banks and breakfast programs in schools.  "From small-town Ontario to the pinnacle of the entertainment industry, her journey has inspired countless other emerging musicians."  The Order of Canada, established in 1967, recognizes people who have made a difference to Canada.  Three different levels of membership honour people whose accomplishments vary in degree and scope: companion, officer and member.  Appointments are made on the recommendation of an advisory council, chaired by the chief justice of Canada.

Marvin Gaye Gets Washington D.C. Memorial

Excerpt from

(Nov. 10, 2005) *After a long, five-year battle, local Washington D.C. volunteers have convinced the city council to rename a park after
one of its most famous native sons, Marvin Gaye.   A patch of land behind a chain-link fence and near two housing projects in Washington D.C. will be named after the Motown legend, who was born in the Nation’s Capital in 1939 and lived there until he joined the doo-wop group the Moonglows in the late 1950s. His next stop was Motown Records in Detroit, where he began a run of 41 Top 40 hits, including “What's Going On,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and “Let's Get It On.” The park renaming is part of a grass roots effort by local residents to revive one of the city’s most blighted areas.    “It’s really shaping up,” said Vincent Gray, the councilman whose ward includes the park. “We should have done this long ago.”  Marvin Gaye Park - which Gray said the city council probably will approve in a series of votes starting as early as this month – would join Washington tributes to two other hometown musicians, jazz legend Duke Ellington and conductor John Philip Sousa, both of whom have a school and bridge named after them.  Now called Watts Branch, the 1.6-mile-long park stretches along a stream and comes within a few hundred feet of Gaye's former home in northeast Washington. The park already has a mosaic depicting Gaye playing piano outdoors next to the stream.  “Marvin would definitely be honoured,” Gaye biographer David Ritz told Bloomberg. “He loved Washington and hungered for the kind of respect the district paid to its other native sons, like Ellington.”

Master P Launches Distribution Company

Excerpt from

(Nov. 10, 2005) *
Master P will release three projects via his new independent Gutter Music Records and Distribution.   The rap mogul says of his new venture: “Record companies are spending too much money and, as a result, the artists are barely surviving. The whole industry is changing, radio stations are constantly firing DJ’s… the industry is all visual now.  Gutter Music will start small of then build - the independent way.” The first album to drop under Gutter Music is the 504 Boyz’ “Hurricane Katrina” on Nov. 8, with proceeds going toward hurricane relief.  The 504 Boyz are Master P, Silkk the Shocker, Krazy, Hallelujah and Playa.  "Young Ballers," an album from Lil' Romeo featuring The Rich Boyz, is scheduled to drop on Nov. 22.  The Rich Boyz are Percy Romeo Miller, Young V (Romeo's younger brother Vercy Miller), C-Los, Big Doug and Lil' D (all Romeo's cousin's from New Orleans).  Now displaced due to Hurricane Katrina, C- Los, Big Doug and Lil' D are putting all of their energy into making music. Their new music video for The Rich Boyz’ single, "Cut," debuted Nov. 2 on BET’s “106 & Park” and will be serviced to local and national music video outlets this week. "Living Legend," the new solo album from Master P, will be released on Nov 29, lead by the single "Cookie Money."  Also look for the new movie “Get Money,” featuring Master P, Silkk, Romeo, The Rich Boyz and the 504 Boyz. 

Mike Phillips Brings His 'Uncommon Denominator' To Jazz

Excerpt from

(Nov. 16, 2005) *Saxophonist
Mike Phillips doesn't want you to listen to his music. He doesn't even want you to hear it; he won't be satisfied unless you feel it; and with Uncommon Denominator, his second offering on the Hidden Beach Recordings label, the hairs on the back of your neck has got to be agitated in order for him to feel he's done his job.  An inquisitive risk taker since age 5, Phillips bypassed Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street and went straight towards the exploration of instruments he could barely pronounce.  A native of Mount Vernon, New York, his formative years encompassed the acoustic and electric bass; the French horn; the violin and piano. But everything else paled when he found his soul mate: the sax, the perfect vehicle through which he could funnel his enormous creative passion.  A musician who is as diverse as he is gifted, Phillips, currently in town for "The Jazz in Drew" benefit concert for Drew Medical College, has performed for the realm of heavyweights that dreams are made of.  For MORE of this article and "Mike Philly's" hella version of Frankie Beverly's "We Are One"  from Uncommon Denominator, click here.




Carnal Film Has Female View

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 15, 2005) Of the three people most involved in making Lie With Me feel like an authentic female take on contemporary dating, only the director,
Clement Virgo, is still in a quandary about just what, these days, do women want?  "Do they still want flowers or candlelight dinners? So women still like flowers what about the idea of feminism?" the Jamaican-born Virgo asked, reversing roles during an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. Lie With Me premiered at the festival and now comes to theatres on Nov. 25.  You'd think Virgo hadn't watched his own film, which his wife and collaborator, Tamara Faith Berger, and his leading lady, Lauren Lee Smith, have judged as faithful to contemporary female mores.  He doesn't volunteer whether he courted Berger, due any day now to produce their first child. Virgo does say they became an item before Berger's Lie With Me, the 122-page novella, barely a book, was published by Toronto's Gutter Press in 2001.  Quill & Quire called it "that rare bird, a novel that aims at combining the trappings of literary fiction with the hardcore vocabulary of the Penthouse letters page."  The tidy volume got passed around, finding its own way like a tattered copy of Story of O.  Smith remembers getting a copy from a friend, who got it from her friend. "I was a big fan," the Vancouver actress says. "I felt very empowered by this female character who is so confident in her sexuality."  Berger says the book sold only about 1,500 copies but reached a lot of women where they lived. Describing her narrator's modus operandi, Berger says, "It's what you do on a first date. You meet someone; you're attracted to them; you go out and have sex. Well, obviously not every one, but you're more likely to have sex with someone and then find out what they're like."  She had been writing stories for porn magazines when she started thinking about developing a "real" character. Her piece got longer and longer, and Sam Hiyata of Gutter Press was happy to release it as a work of experimental fiction, written mostly in the voice of one anonymous woman.

Readers responded to her character's musings:  "It was simple at first, because I finally felt what I was doing with my body was right: I had all this longing for sucking the life out of men and now here was a life that I finally wanted."  Virgo's immediate reaction to the book was, "Let's make a movie out of it."  The character gets a name in the movie: Leila. The man she meets at a Toronto club is David. Her dilemma becomes: what do you do when the person you've having sex with is someone you could fall in love with?  Smith recalls getting a call from her agent on the requirements for the role of Leila, which clearly included not only nudity but on-camera live sex. "I said, `Are you kidding?'" Then she read the script and recognized its origins. Then Virgo, who had directed her in an episode of The L Word, asked her to audition with Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under), whom he'd interviewed in Los Angeles.  "I got them into a room and saw the chemistry," Virgo recalls. "I knew that without the chemistry we had no movie."  And was there? Really? Smith gives a giddy laugh of affirmation. "There was apparently chemistry.  "I think why the film probably shocks quite a few people Ñ it's very easy to film a sex scene, to take off your clothes and go through the motions Ñ is that to watch someone emotionally making love with someone becomes very personal and almost uncomfortable to watch."  Berger, who has since published The Way of the Whore, believes Virgo was faithful to her work while translating the book into "his language" of film.  Virgo says he began shooting the film in trepidation, relying on his female collaborators to tell him when he was off base.  It wasn't the first time the director of Rude, The Planet of Junior Brown and Love Come Down had gone into the head of a female protagonist, "but this was raising the bar. The book was so relentlessly, subjectively female that I felt I could easily get tripped up.  "Men are visual Ñ that's why there are so many strip clubs. They sit there and look. I didn't want to be a voyeur. I wanted to translate what that woman's feelings were in a very subjective way."  Virgo says it was veteran Canadian actor Don Francks who pushed him to the place where he could get as close up as he did in the film. The shooting started with a scene in which Francks, as David's ailing father, gets naked out of the bathtub.  "I didn't know how far I was going to go with it myself. Once I saw his bravery, I thought I've got to go all the way."


Quebec's C.R.A.Z.Y Picks Up U.S. Film Prize

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By James Adams

(Nov. 15, 2005) It's won awards, critical praise and audience adoration
wherever it has played. But there's one plum C.R.A.Z.Y. still hasn't got and that's distribution in the all-important U.S. theatrical market. Yesterday the film's Montreal-based producer was hopeful that situation would change shortly, after C.R.A.Z.Y. tied on the weekend with Tsotsi, a South African feature, for the people's choice award at the 19th-annual American Film Institute Festival in Los Angeles. C.R.A.Z.Y. -- the coming-of-age story of a Québécois gay rock-'n'-roller in suburban 1970s Montreal -- was one of 127 films screened at the 10-day festival. Its victory was a first for a Canadian feature since the AFI Fest became competitive in 1997. Pierre Even of Cirrus Communications has been talking with U.S. distributors for more than two months, but so far a deal has proved elusive. This even though the $7-million film, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, is one of the biggest box-office hits ever in Quebec (the French-language version has earned receipts of more than $6-million since its release in late May), scored a triumphant screening at the Venice International Film Festival and won best-Canadian-feature honours at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as people's choice kudos at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax. "Maybe this [the AFI award] will help us," Even said from his office. "Distributors were wondering if the American public would see themselves in this film. Now, with this people's choice award, they can see . . . it has potential in the U.S. just as it has shown in other territories."

Even if C.R.A.Z.Y. was to finally woo U.S. distribution, it's moot as to whether it would get much screen time before the end of the year. The Oscar deadline is looming and Hollywood is determinedly stuffing American theatres with movies it thinks will appeal to both Thanksgiving and Christmas holidayers as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  In late September, Telefilm Canada, which has invested almost $3.5-million in production and marketing assistance in C.R.A.Z.Y., chose the movie as Canada's entry in Oscar's best-foreign-language film category. However, dozens of films from many countries vie to end up on that short-list of five or six films, which will be announced Jan. 31. Still, a boost from the AFI can only help. Founded in 1967, the AFI is a major player in U.S. film circles, training all sorts of future filmmakers at its campus in Los Angeles as well as preserving and screening classics of the past. In 2000, before the Oscar short-lists were announced, it began what is now an annual tradition of naming the top-10 films of the year. These lists have often been harbingers of Oscar's selections. Moreover, the institute's festival has been credited with heightening U.S. attention to Canadian offerings: For example, it screened Chris Landreth's short, Ryan, at its 2004 event, winning a "special mention" award there that its producer, the National Film Board of Canada, says set it on the road to Oscar consideration and its eventual win as best short film (animated). Positive reaction, too, to Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions at the 2003 AFI Fest was considered instrumental to its success as best-foreign feature at the 2004 Academy Awards. Meanwhile, C.R.A.Z.Y. is currently playing, subtitled, in only two English-language theatres in Canada, both in Toronto, where it's enjoyed steady crowds since going into commercial release Oct. 14. "We're playing it off bit by bit as the right theatres come open for it," a spokesman for the movie's Canadian distributor, TVA Films, explained yesterday. It's scheduled to open in Windsor, Ont., this weekend, followed by theatres in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Waterloo, Ont., and other centres Nov. 25.


Extraordinary, like Harry

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Caroline Mallan, Special To The Star

(Nov. 12, 2005) LONDON—Daniel Radcliffe is trying very hard to convince me that he is an ordinary teenage boy. He is failing miserably.  "I have the
messiest bedroom in the world. I am terrible," insists the 16-year-old Harry Potter actor, as he details how he rearranges the mess to fool his mother.  The problem is, of course, just like the character he has grown up playing for the past five years, this is no ordinary boy.  Radcliffe's self-confidence, keen intelligence and self-deprecating sense of humour belie his assertion that he's just another kid struggling with high school essays and shyness around pretty girls.  In describing his own character, Radcliffe informs me that he can be "incredibly pedantic."  Really? There's a word you don't hear fall from the mouths of teenage boys very often.  Since he was first cast at age 10 to play the boy wizard who becomes the best-known pupil at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Witchery, Radcliffe has matured from being a book-smart kid who looked the part as written by J.K. Rowling, and who could remember his lines.  Today, the star of the fourth film in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, opening next Friday, has the easy charm and quick wit that North American audiences fell in love with in Hugh Grant.  "I'm planning on buying 20 Porsches and crashing them all just for the extravagance," he responds when asked about avoiding the lure of becoming a self-indulgent teen celebrity.

In drawing parallels between himself and Harry, Radcliffe insists that both are lousy with women.  "I've got better now, I think. I think any man, ever, who says he has never had an awkward moment with a girl is a liar," he announces to a room full of media, whom he kept laughing for most of a 45-minute press conference with his one-liners.  Of course, the crowds of screaming teenage girls outside his public appearances should help to ease any lingering insecurity he might have in that department.  When asked to name an actor he would like to work with who has not yet appeared in the star-studded cast of Harry Potter, Radcliffe reaches for a German actor and a Mexican one, revealing a love of film that goes beyond action movies.  "I mean, I don't know if it would ever work, because I don't speak German," he joked in reference to Daniel Brühl of the Edukators.  When it comes to actresses, Radcliffe starts sounding more like a normal teenager.  "Natalie Portman, a fantastic actress, and also beautiful, which is also a plus if you are going to work with someone," he says with a smile.  Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson's name also comes up among possible leading ladies.  Physically, Radcliffe's latest role required him to become an excellent swimmer and scuba diver, since he would log more than 40 hours underwater in a six-metre-deep tank during the filming of Goblet of Fire — which he pegged as the most challenging part of the new movie.  Director Mike Newell said Radcliffe transformed his physique for the role during six months of intensive training.

"He's a very brave boy. He's a rotten swimmer, or he was when this began, and he had great trepidation and he came to me about the swimming. There wasn't any way around it; he had to swim."  When the subject turns to music, Radcliffe's passion for the latest bands is obvious and he rhymes off his latest acquisitions.  His favourite album this year is Montreal band Arcade Fire, which gets a firm nod of approval.  "It's amazing, one of the best," he enthuses.  As Harry Potter ages, Radcliffe inevitably faces questions about whether or not he will stick with it for three more movies in the seven-book series.  Radcliffe says that while he hasn't signed anything yet, he doesn't see himself graduating from Hogwarts anytime soon. He has already agreed to do the fifth film and admits that the juicy storyline in the sixth book — published last summer — is alluring.  "As long as the books and the films and the scripts keep getting interesting, as long as interesting directors keep contributing, then I will be more than happy to go to the end," he says, adding that he also needs to do other work, film or stage. "That's also a big factor for me."  To that end, Radcliffe begins work soon on December Boys, a movie about four orphan boys competing for one family's attention in 1960s Australia.  As for school, Radcliffe and his parents were determined that he not fall behind his peers, despite his intense shooting schedule. On-set tutors and lots of schoolwork between shoots have kept him on track to finish his high school next year, although he confesses that a little bit of Harry's magic would be very welcome when it comes to math and science courses.


Quebecor Braces For Cellphone Threat

Source:  Canadian Press

(Nov. 10, 2005) MONTREAL -- The chief executive officer of
Quebecor Inc. says new technology that allows cellphones to download entire movies is just the latest threat to media companies like his, to rob them of revenue. Pierre Karl Péladeau said yesterday that digital video downloads will allow users to bypass cable or satellite TV fees, whose survival depends on monthly fees and advertising, and bypass distributors. Mr. Péladeau said capturing movies on cellphones will challenge the industry the same way as iPod music downloads over the Internet battered the music industry, which has been able to adapt by selling digital music on-line, even though piracy is still rampant. "Will iPod videos do the same thing?" Mr. Péladeau asked in a speech to the Quebec branch of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. While a cellphone screen is not large enough for satisfactory viewing, Mr. Péladeau said the technology can be used to play the movie on a laptop computer or on a television set.

Other technologies changing the game for media companies are the personal digital recorder, which allows the user to cut out advertising, video-on-demand and the explosion of specialized channels, now reaching 679 in Canada counting all languages. "Quebecor can't insulate itself from these trends," he said. "There will have to be new formulas to pay artists, new sources of financing." Mr. Péladeau said one way to cope with such technical and financial pressures would be for Quebecor Media Inc. companies like television broadcaster TVA Group Inc. to just buy American films off the shelf and avoid the risks associated with original productions. "You can either suffer the changes, and face a slow decline of domestic [program] production . . . or we can be an agent of change, to participate actively in these different types of distribution and assure ourselves of a platform for our productions.  "That is our choice. The key to success is original programming."


Aniston Tries To Get On Back On Track

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Nov. 10, 2005) New York — With the exposure — or overexposure — of her personal life, it's easy to forget Derailed is Jennifer Aniston's first film
since Friends. The 36-year-old actress, whom tabloids long ago nicknamed "America's Sweetheart," is starting a strong push for big-screen stardom with four upcoming releases that also include The Break Up, Rumor Has It and Friends with Money. Whether moviegoers will embrace her as a movie star — not a sitcom actress, not just perpetual tabloid fodder — should become clear after this run of movies. Will all the tabloid attention interfere with audiences' acceptance of Aniston as different characters? "I don't know, we'll see," she says. "I only can hope that I'm doing my job well enough that that won't happen. It's unfortunate; that's the thing I don't like about it." Alongside Clive Owen, she plays a would-be adulterer in the thriller Derailed — atypically dark fare for Rachel Green. "I'm not trying to shed any labels," she says, but acknowledges "a big part" of the film's appeal was its difference from her previous roles.

While she says the "sweetheart" tag doesn't bother her, it's clearly something she's not quite comfortable with — after all, it doesn't exactly fit Aniston, a mostly private person with a dry sense of humour who's more likely to puff on a smoke than enter a beauty pageant. "I don't know what it means," she says. "I've heard that title attached to a lot of woman. Hey, you could be called a lot worse things." Aniston, who spent most of her youth in New York, grew up with acting around her — her father, John, was a long-time regular on Days of Our Lives and owned a cabaret where she says she "got the bug." Some of her early ventures were in comedy, including several TV shows that didn't last a full season. She spent a year on the cast of the short-lived sketch comedy show The Edge and at one point had talks with NBC about joining Saturday Night Live. "It's so funny, because I never had intense ambition," she says of the period. "I didn't know I was struggling. I was just a waitress who auditioned on the side." Nevertheless, in 1994 she landed the part of Rachel on Friends, which ended last year. Aniston, her best friend Courteney Cox and the rest of the cast were close-knit and always negotiated their contracts in solidarity. "I miss them, that's the one thing I miss terribly — the crew, the writers. Everybody worked there together so long, everyday, eight months out of the year. Like school ... depending on what kind of a student you were."

Friends also was where she met her first sideshow. When the series was catching on, her hairstyle became a national rage. "But I grew that out fast," she says. "Whatever it is that they're going to be boxing you in for, you try to bust out of it." Aniston did films on the side during FriendsThe Object of My Affection, Office Space and Rock Star. Her starring role in 2002's The Good Girl, though, won her acclaim. In it, she played a discount store clerk who strikes up an affair with a stock boy (Jake Gyllenhaal). "The Good Girl was the first one where I felt like I was able to move away from what I had been known to do," she says. Of course, Aniston is well-known for her 41/2-year marriage to Brad Pitt. They announced their separation in January and the divorce became final Oct. 2. It would be difficult to overestimate the coverage paid to the romance's conclusion. Magazines splashed photos of Aniston, Pitt or "the other woman" — Angelina Jolie — on their covers like Jackson Pollack dashing paint. Any and all gossip was printed including hurtful presumptions about their relationship.

In interviews, Aniston has made it clear she will not discuss recently published photos showing her kissing The Break Up co-star Vince Vaughn. She does say, though, that the paparazzi's hunger has gotten "really dangerous" and "twisted" to the point of "feeding into a bizarre part of our society." She compares the invasiveness to being robbed, but knows "people don't really have a lot of sympathy for it." "And I don't blame them," she adds. But without going into plot details (which current ads make out to be stunning on a Sixth Sense level), Derailed also uses her "sweetheart" image to its benefit. "That's something you can you use to your advantage," the director, Mikael Hafstrom, says. "The general audience reaction to her is that she's trustworthy and in this case, that's a good thing." Aniston, who says she "doesn't have a method or anything" to her acting, will likely have Friends further in her rear-view mirror after Derailed and the three other films. But that's a bittersweet prospect to her. "I love Friends. I'm proud of it — the best thing that ever happened to me."



Latifah, Chapelle, Lawrence On Tap For ‘Actors Studio’

Excerpt from

(Nov. 10, 2005) *We can only imagine what will come out of Dave Chapelle’s
mouth when “Inside the Actors Studio” host James Lipton asks him to name his favourite curse word.  The question is one of ten posed by Lipton near the conclusion of the Q&A session during the popular Bravo program, which begins taping its 12th season later this month. Chapelle, Queen Latifah and Martin Lawrence are among the talent scheduled to appear in the hot seat for the upcoming season, it was announced Monday.  Other invited guests include Barbara Walters, Al Pacino and “The Producers” stars Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. "The 12th season is very special for 'Inside the Actors Studio' because it has such an unusual range," says Lipton. "From the iconic work of Al Pacino to the sharp contemporary comedy - and commentary - of Dave Chappelle and Queen Latifah, to the historic presence of Barbara Walters, to the hilarity of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, to the unbridled brilliance of Martin Lawrence, I suspect the show and I are in for a hell of a ride." The Emmy Award-nominated series will tape from Pace University's downtown Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts in Lower Manhattan.

Mos Def in Film

Excerpt from

(Nov. 10, 2005)  *
Mos Def has just wrapped work on the upcoming film, “Journey to the End of the Night,” in Brazil. Brendan Fraser and Catalina Sandino Moreno co-star in the story set in the underworld of Brazil's sex industry. Mos Def will also appear with Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg in “The Brazilian Job,” the sequel to 2003's hit, “The Italian Job.”

Scorsese Says He's Giving Up On Feature Films

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Nov. 15, 2005) Marrakech, Morocco -- U.S. filmmaker
Martin Scorsese said he plans to stop directing Hollywood blockbusters and focus on documentaries and short films. Scorsese, director of such hit films as Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Aviator, was one of the honoured guests at the Marrakech International Film Festival. The director, who turns 63 this week, said at a press conference that he was getting old and did not want to spend his time making big pictures demanded by Hollywood studios. He predicted that the film he would make in Japan next year, to be titled Silence, would be one of his last efforts for Hollywood. The movie will tell the story of Portuguese priests who go to Japan in the 17th century. The director said he wants to focus on documentaries like the one he did recently of Bob Dylan. AFP




And Now, Our Exclusive Look At Sandra Oh's Fridge Drawer

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Hal Niedzviecki

(Nov. 12, 2005) It’s mid-morning Thursday in the sprawling eTalk Daily newsroom at CTV in downtown Toronto. Staff gather around a monitor to
watch just-arrived footage that will become the evening's lead story: Ashlee Simpson acting late night disorderly in a downtown Toronto McDonald's. Visiting the city to promote her new album, the singer hardly needed more airtime: The Monday before, Husein Madhavji, host of CHUM's Star!Daily, had Simpson's new CD, I Am Me, on his desk, preparing for his interview that day with the American singer. On Wednesday, Global Television's Entertainment Tonight Canada ran a Simpson interview. Combined with the eTalk coverage, Simpson and her new album reached roughly a million Canadians over the course of the week. If you're the hot thing of the moment, now is a good time to visit Toronto. The fall launch of not one, not two, but three daily entertainment-news shows based in the city means it's crawling with celebrity-hungry producers desperate to give their show the edge for the evening. It also means that in the quest to build a Canadian star system while stealing eyeballs away from competitors, Canadian television has created not just an intriguing ratings battle but, paradoxically, some of the most homogeneous programming ever seen in this country. The battle was joined in September when Global launched ET Canada, a spinoff of the U.S. show, in the same timeslot as eTalk. Also launched this fall was Star!Daily, now showing on the cable specialty channel Star!, as well as on the company's CITY-TV and A-Channel stations. Even Sun TV, which broadcasts primarily in the Toronto area, got into the mix with the launch of its daily show, Inside Jam. "The public's appetite for celebrity coverage," says Jaimie Hubbard, editor of TV Guide, "appears to be insatiable."

Hubbard cites the success of such TV shows as Corner Gas, Trailer Park Boys and Da Vinci's Inquest (now Da Vinci's City Hall) as part of the picture. "There is an appetite for what's happening in Canada," he says, "and not just American stars in Canada." Others wonder how committed the talk shows really are to shining the spotlight on homegrown talent. "I think it's great to create a Canadian star system," says Rachel Giese, who writes about the arts and pop culture for, "but I don't think that's the goal of these shows. They are relying on American product -- they aren't filling the gap." Consider the example of Lost star Evangeline Lilly. Canadian-born, she was all but unknown in this country until her show became a hit and she appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone. Now, the perfectly coiffed castaway is a mainstay of the Canadian entertainment shows. Still, the producers of the shows are quick to defend their commitment to Canadian culture. "We want to make people who work in Canadian entertainment more relevant," insists Zev Shalev, executive producer for ET Canada. "When we brought this well-known, established brand to this country, we distinguished it by celebrating Canadian celebrities. That's our huge priority." Over at eTalk Daily, executive producer Jordan Schwartz points to what he calls his show's "Canadian sense of irony and Canadian sensibility."  Not that every show has the same way of achieving its Cancon goals. "On Star! we don't flag stuff as Canadian," says James Woods, director of entertainment production for CHUM Television. " 'Canada's very own.' 'From our native lands.' I think that's kind of demeaning to the artist." ET Canada and eTalk Daily, meanwhile, trumpet every possible Canadian connection. Schwartz's eTalk says that means giving coverage to all Canadians. "It's easy to just do the Canadians in Hollywood," says Schwartz. "We make an effort to focus on the Canadians who chose to stay at home as well, and that's really important to us, whereas I don't know if our competitors would share that focus." Over at ET Canada, says Shalev, "We cover Canadians who have made it wherever they make it. It would be kind of crazy not to talk about those stars. Wherever Canadians are successful we should be proud of that."

Perhaps, but anyone who tunes in on a nightly basis to any of the shows can't miss their distinct preference for Canadian-born talent of the international-superstar variety. Shania, Celine, Alanis, the Barenaked Ladies, and it-moment actors such as Lost's Lilly and Sandra Oh, of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, can be expected to appear with considerable frequency. (Which is not to say that homegrown celebrities are totally ignored: eTalk sent Dr. Marla Shapiro to interview Melissa Etheridge, and ET Canada did a spot on the cast of Global's new teen drama, Falcon Beach.) But with the average length of a story at a minute-and-a-half, neither fans of Hollywood nor devotees of Cancon can expect much in-depth coverage. "They take something that is virtually nothing and make it appear like we are seeing something that nobody else has," says Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University in New York State. "Just watch how they create an entire segment out of virtually no new data." Even when there is the potential to delve into important political and social issues, the shows rarely do more than graze the surface. The release of the Desert Storm war movie Jarhead could have been an opportunity to talk about how the entertainment world is dealing with the real, live sequel to the first Persian Gulf war. But eTalk offered preshot segments featuring banal sound bites by star Jake Gyllenhaal. ET Canada took the opportunity that same night to use Jarhead as the anchor for a feature on how stars get in shape for movies -- including plenty of clips of a shirtless Gyllenhaal glistening in the desert heat.  "There are ways to cover pop that are smart and engaging and accessible," says Giese, "but they're not doing it that way." Instead, many critics argue that the shows focus too much on making daily promises of "exclusive" interviews and "first-time" peeks. "When we use the word exclusive we mean it," eTalk's Schwartz says. "But I can't always say the same for our competitors. I can't tell you how many times I'll see a story on ET Canada and they'll say 'Only ET has it' and we had it two days ago."

ET Canada's Shalev dismisses the idea that his show is even paying attention to the competition. ET Canada, he says, derives its claims of exclusivity from its ability to package material in a particular way. "We have a large viewership and we value them and respect them," says Shalev, "and when they come to us everyday we want to make sure they get something special." So what does an exclusive look like? One night, eTalk presented a peek inside Canadian Idol winner Melissa O'Neil's new apartment. Another night, ET Canada took viewers behind the scenes for a first look at O'Neil recording her album. Exclusives also often seem to be connected to each network's upcoming programming. Which is only natural, according to TV Guide's Hubbard. "You have to look at it as, where are you going to get the best access, what is going to give you the edge over your competitor? You are going to be able to get better access for stuff on your network, so you enter a loop where you are going to run more stories about the stuff on your network." In that loop recently was a Star!Daily feature on Nickelback crisscrossing the country to do three shows in one day -- followed by the promise of an entire Nickelback special on CHUM's MuchMusic.  Canadian Idol at times seems almost synonymous with eTalk -- both shows share host Ben Mulroney. And when a reviewer was assigned to serve up a 15-second report on Camilla Gibb's Giller-nominated novel, Sweetness in the Belly, the job was thrown to Canadian Idol runner-up Casey Leblanc. (CTV, by the way, was here leading up to its broadcast of the Giller gala.) Global's ET Canada airs regular Apprentice updates (the network runs both the Martha and Donald versions) and does so much promo for Entertainment Tonight, which runs right after the Canadian version, that it's sometimes impossible to tell which show is which.

Despite the cross-promotions, their producers characterize the entertainment dailies as giving fans what they want -- their favourite stars -- while offering a reprieve from heavier news stories of natural disasters and terrorism. But that approach, says Giese, ensures that "you never see an interviewer say to a director or musician, 'I didn't like the work, I had problems with that.' There are lots of people who want to fawn over celebrities, but at the same time there are lots of people who love pop culture, but also feel it could stand up to some challenge." "It's the merger of the news business and show business," says Danny Schechter, executive editor of New York-based media-criticism website "Audience is deserting traditional media. As a consequence, people say if we dumb it down even more and give the people what we think they really want, we'll build our ratings, keep our jobs and everybody lives happier ever after." Or do they? Audiences for conventional TV are dropping and many, including Schechter, argue that while ratings may go up temporarily as these kinds of shows come on the air, the more they proliferate, the more they cannibalize from the same group of watchers, while the rest -- disenchanted and disgusted -- stop turning on the TV altogether. The numbers for the two flagship daily entertainment shows may yet bear this out. On its own, eTalk was reaching as many as 700,000 TV screens nationally in the 7 p.m. timeslot. With ET Canada in direct competition, the shows have been winning a viewership in the 430,000 range -- for a combined total of between 800,000 and 900,000 screens, or a net gain of a mere 100,000 viewers helping to build the Canadian star system. Ultimately, the future may not lie simply in growing a particular show's ratings, but in finding other places on the dial to repackage what it creates. Recently, eTalk started offering local CTV news affiliates an optional minute-and-a-half entertainment package for their newscasts. Six stations from Vancouver to Halifax have taken it up on the offer. And Star!Daily's CHUM is an industry leader in repackaging bits from cable specialty channels like Fashion and Space to appear in different incarnations on their more conventional stations.

Over at TV Guide, Hubbard says that is ultimately good news for Canadian entertainers. "Canadian shows and Canadian talent are actually getting much more coverage on television in their own country than they ever had before," says Hubbard. "And you gotta figure that's a good thing."




Inspired Gleanings Of Jamaica

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter

blood.claat — one womban story

Written and performed by d'bi young. Directed by Weyni Mengesha. At Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave., until Nov. 27. 416-504-7529

(Nov. 16, 2005) D'bi young has a good measure of that "fire
energy" a Yoruba god calls up in blood.claat, the one-woman show that is the last work to open in Theatre Passe Muraille/Obsidian Theatre's Stage 3 series. It won't come as a surprise to anyone who saw her as Stacey-Anne in Da Kink in My Hair that the actor gives a phenomenal performance in her own, dub-infused one-act play.  A blood claat is what used to be known as a sanitary napkin. In Jamaica it is also used as a swear word. Blood is the image that threads through this play, connecting a 15-year-old girl whose mother has left for Canada to three centuries of Jamaican history and the gods of the African slaves.  Mugdu has her "menses" when she wakes up at Granny's in a not-so-nice neighbourhood near Kingston. She has to wash out her sheets before she can leave for school. She's a leading athlete; she's in love with Johnny, a musician. She rides the bus with a stammering ticket taker.

Young is Nanny, too, or at least the spirit of the escaped Ashanti
slave and Maroon leader who led the slave resistance in the early 1700s. And she's Auntie, the Bible-carrying disciplinarian who invokes the blood of Jesus.  On a tiny set as simple as it is cunning, young rides the bus, takes on the persona of a madman wielding a machete, then becomes Johnny, with his hip-hop swagger and his seductive ways. "You're my dream queen," he says, looking deep into his girl's eyes. "What, you lost somethin' in there?" she asks.  The language is Jamaican patois, yet clear enough to all when matched to young's expressive body language. She also does a tone-perfect Canada Customs officer greeting a visiting Jamaican woman. ("Are you carrying any alcohol, tobacco, plants ... ? Or drugs? Drugs? Do you have any drugs?")  Ahmina Alfred supplies the drumming and the vocals that accompany this blood-stirring performance. 


Actors Duel On Holy Land Divide

Excerpt From The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic


By Niki Landau. Directed by Paul Lampert. Until Nov. 27 at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave. 416-504-7529

(Nov. 10, 2005) Sometimes what you say is more important than how you
say it.  That's the lesson to be learned from Territories, which opened last night at Theatre Passe Muraille.  For its first 15 minutes, Niki Landau's play seems dangerously gimmicky, but honesty soon trumps artifice and what we are left with is a deeply felt and fascinatingly reasoned look at the ongoing struggle in the Middle East.  But first, there's that beginning. Landau plays a woman named Sara who is presenting a one-woman show about what it was like to live in Israel.  Suddenly, from the audience, a Palestinian named Hissam (played by Sam Khalilieh) jumps up muttering imprecations and finally moves down to the stage.  They argue whether he has an equal right to be on the stage telling his story. A shower of new programs that includes his name even falls on the audience's heads. It all rings false and you start tuning out, but then something happens.  Part of it is the sheer magnetism of the two performers, but even more important is the fact they start to truly reveal their lives. As Hissam says, "Theatre is about story, not propaganda or rhetoric."  And in a gesture of dramatic complicity that means more than any speechmaking could, they each begin to play a role in the other's tale. This means that when each character crosses the line into personal tragedy, the emotional stakes get even higher.

Landau the writer tries with admirable rigour to deal equally with both sides of the clash over Israel's territories. It's not really her fault that Sara's voice rings just a bit truer than Hissam's and her tale of personal loss, although less dramatic than his, is somehow more touching.  Khalilieh is a fine performer, even when the script leads him dangerously close to melodrama, and one can truly say that Landau the playwright has dealt fairly with his beliefs, even though they may seem to be the direct opposite of hers.  But then again, maybe they're not. "Why do we hate each other when we're so much alike?" they ask and the question hangs in the air.  Paul Lampert has done an admirable job of staging the play, once we're past its opening awkwardness. The scene where Sara divides the stage into chalk-lined playing areas and tries to negotiate the best spaces for herself, while assuring Hissam that what she's offering him is just as good, stands as one of the most effective visual metaphors for the division of the Holy Land that I have ever seen.  Landau is also a nicely complex performer, knowing how to blend sweet and sour, tough and tender, often in the same scene.  The play ends with a symbolic tennis match, in which a deft use of projected images of innocent victims drives home the fact that this is a battle that neither side can ever really win.  For that alone, Territories is worthy of your time and attention.



Maurice White Musical Headed To Broadway

Excerpt from

(Nov. 10, 2005) *“Hot Feet,” a new musical featuring music and lyrics by Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, arrives on Broadway April 15 for an April 30 opening, reports Variety. The show, featuring original songs as well as past hits such as "Shining Star" and "September," tells the story of a young dancer with Broadway dreams who dons an enchanted and possibly sinister pair of red shoes.  Maurice Hines, last on Broadway in 1986 with the short-lived "Uptown ... It's Hot!," conceived the show and will direct and choreograph.  "Feet" will have its initial run at the National Theater in Washington, D.C., March 18-April 9. It has yet to confirm a Broadway theatre.



Schwarzenegger Receives Clemency Request For Tookie

Excerpt from

(Nov. 12, 2005) *California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked
Tuesday to grant clemency to Crips gang co-founder and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Stanley "Tookie" Williams, who is scheduled to be executed Dec. 13 for four murders.  On behalf of eight attorneys in Los Angeles, Pasadena and New York, Peter Fleming Jr. wrote in the petition: "Stanley Williams has become a symbol of hope and purpose to those who most need to believe -- the disadvantaged youth of our great nation who live with a sense of hopelessness in circumstances which test the human spirit."  Williams' attorneys are asking the governor to reduce his sentence from death to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Schwarzenegger's office had no immediate comment on the petition for executive clemency, which hasn’t been granted in California since 1967.  The petition "is about redemption, rehabilitation and hope," Fleming wrote. "It is about a single man, a prisoner for a quarter-century, who found purpose while facing death by execution. It is about trying to do good. It is about the positive impact one man can have on the lives of others, even from death row."  Williams was sentenced to death in 1981 for the 1979 murders of four people. The first victim in the killings, which took place during two separate robberies two weeks apart, was Albert Lewis Owens, a 23-year-old Whittier 7-Eleven employee. An immunized government witness testified that he, Williams and two other men took $120 from the store's cash register. He said Williams then shot the young man execution-style and mocked the gurgling sounds the victim made as he lay dying.

Williams was also found guilty of the shotgun murders of Thsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang and Yee Chen Lin. The couple and their daughter owned a South Vermont Avenue motel that the gang targeted for robbery.  At a brief hearing last month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William R. Pounders set a Dec. 13 execution date, noting that Williams' appeals had been rejected.  Since being condemned to death, Williams has renounced his gang past, penned children's books, been the subject of a cable TV movie starring Jamie Foxx and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for work he has done to curtail youth violence -- all from his 9-foot-by-4-foot cell on San Quentin's death row.

Snoop Dogg To Attend Tookie Rally

Excerpt from

(Nov. 16, 2005) *Snoop Dogg will be among the thousands
expected to rally Saturday outside of San Quentin State Prison to support convicted murderer-turned-children’s author and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Stanley “Tookie” Williams. Snoop had attempted to visit Tookie in jail recently, but his application for entry to the prison was denied. "We were unable to provide him with a security clearance because of his arrest history," said San Quentin spokesman Vernell Crittendon. Williams, a co-founder of the Crips gang, was sentenced to death in 1981 for killing four people in two Los Angeles robberies. He is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 13. During his years on death row, Williams has received international praise for his children's books urging kids to stay out of gangs. Jamie Foxx starred as Williams in the award-winning FX film, "Redemption: The Stan 'Tookie' Williams Story."  Snoop, a former Crip associate who spent time in prison for drug-related offenses, will join other supporters for Saturday’s rally scheduled for 10 a.m. outside San Quentin's gate, according to Death Penalty Focus, the group organizing the event. More than a dozen other rallies around the state are scheduled in the next few weeks supporting Williams, whose prison teachings have also earned him several Nobel Prize nominations.  The rallies include a documentary film screening about Williams in San Francisco, hosted by Danny Glover; a discussion led by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael; and a round-the-clock vigil outside the prison from Dec. 4 until the execution, when people from across the country are expected to demonstrate.

Jamie Foxx Endorses Clemency For 'Tookie'

Excerpt from

(Nov. 10, 2005) Most people familiar with hip-hop culture know who Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams is. He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. His memoir, ‘Blue Rage, Black Redemption’ is a great informative read. The DVD ‘Redemption’ staring Jamie Foxx, and Lynn Whitfield has earned worldwide critical acclaim. He is a co- founder of the Crips. Many hip-hop and rap artists are members or are affiliated with different gangs and this is no secret, as many sport sect tattoos or talk freely about their affiliations with different groups. Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx has officially endorsed a Stan 'Tookie' Williams clemency campaign spearheaded by over 150,000 youth who claim the Nobel Peace Prize Nominee (set to be executed on Foxx's 38th birthday next month: Dec 13) has saved their lives with his nine anti-drug books and personal anti-gang mentoring over the past decade. "We can't let [the execution] happen," Foxx told Fox News at the October 30th New York premiere of his latest 'Jarhead' film. "We've got to do everything we can to get the word out."

The Sundance and Cannes recognized 'Redemption' 2004 TV movie filmed in Toronto, Canada based on Tookie's life story featured a stellar cast of 'Ali' actor Jamie Foxx starring as the former Crips gang leader, 'Thin Line Between Love And Hate' actress Lynn Whitfield playing the co-author of Tookie's books Barbara Becnel, and Canadian Hip-Hop forefather Maestro as former Crips lieutenant turned "Tookie Protocol For Peace" ambassador.  Early next month Becnel and a clemency team of lawyers from New York's Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP and California's Howrey Simon Arnold & White LLP legal firms will present a petition of over 30,000 signatures asking California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to choose a "life without the possibility of parole" sentence for Stan 'Tookie' Williams instead of execution due to "overwhelming racism and discrimination at the heart of the case and vital innocence issues," backed by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 2002 ruling which praised Tookie's "laudable work [that made him] worthy of consideration for clemency." To view testimonies of support for Stan 'Tookie' Williams from members of the Chicago Public Schools District, the American Library Association, the Swiss Parliament and fellow Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu visit the official web site. For MORE of this article, go to


Local Photographer Paves His Own Way

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Goddard

(Nov. 12, 2005) Michael Awad is a lucky guy. He doesn't keep up with what his competition is up to — and his art seems all the better as a result.  His work — panoramic, day-in-the-life shots of contemporary Toronto — reflects a lively photographic instinct that goes far beyond his laudably civic-minded plans to catalogue Hogtown from top to bottom.  Awad, 39, is a successful architect, University of Toronto lecturer and true Maple Leaf-blue Torontonian who, since 2001, has been photographing every aspect of the city for "The Entire City Project," a part of which is now at the Art Gallery of Ontario until Feb.26.  "But I came up through architecture and urbanism," he says matter-of-factly. "I didn't come up through the art world. So I didn't study it."  What that means is that he seems unaware of the similarly Toronto-centric panoramas taken recently by another Toronto photographer, Alex Turner, or Vancouver photographer Stan Douglas's Every Building On 100 West Hastings, an enormous composite of 21 images taken on a single evening in 2001 in one of Vancouver's grungier neighbourhoods. Nor has he yet come across the Parisian urban photography by the late 19th-century street photographer Eugène Atget.  Thus freed from the pressures of precedence and peers, Awad has been inventing his own kind of photography, using mostly equipment he's made for himself, for a career that's now on hyper-drive.  He's already shown at the Power Plant. His large-scale image, Chinatown, was part of the "Next Memory City" project with multimedia artist David Rokeby and pianist/composer Eve Egoyan representing Canada at the 2002 Venice Biennale in architecture. And for "Entire City," his first solo show, he gets this AGO gig curated by the gallery's contemporary art guru, David Moos.

Awad still thinks of himself as an archivist, not a visual poet, documenting the city's mass and shape, for a lifelong mission of fact-finding. But what's on the AGO's wall goes beyond basic documentation. "The Entire City Project" is as much about an emerging artist as an evolving city.  With Supermarket, Toronto (2005), Awad creates something akin to a modern version of a hieroglyph-filled slab rescued from some ancient Egyptian tomb. Sixteen parallel horizontal layers of composite images, each with its own vibrancy of light and colour, fill a large, rectangular frame. Taken together, they detail every shelf in the cavernous Queen's Quay Loblaws store. A concealed camera had to be used, "because in the purest sense this wasn't a public space," he says.  With its multiple striated layers, Awad's Supermarket allows you to "read" the store as one gigantic storehouse of 21st-century labelled, branded consumerism. With Supermarket, you absorb something like five years' worth of television commercials in a single, unhurried viewing.  Not everything in the AGO show is as distinctive. Permanent Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2005), a panorama of AGO art on the wall, has little of the power that comes with most of the images in German photographer Thomas Struth's similar "Museum Photographs" series. Escalator, Toronto (2005) — shot in the Eaton Centre during a Boxing Day sale — is as much a trick as a treat. Starting with the top left image and ending with the bottom right one, the work's series of vertical composite images show all the people who jammed onto the same length of escalator during a single 10-minute period.  It's with Queen Street, North-Side, Toronto (2005) where Awad's artistry best serves his urbanism. "Queen St. represents the city in so many of its identities," he says. "It goes through the central business district. It has commerce. It has City Hall, Parkdale, two hospitals, High Park, provincial courts, the Eaton Centre, and the whole Swansea west-end neighbourhood.

"One of the strengths of Toronto is that we have really vibrant neighbourhoods so close to the central core of the city. We have duality of scales. We have big buildings beside established healthy neighbourhoods. Queen St. represents this varied and complex view of the city."  It's a cross-section of "cultural, political and economic, cut right through the city. The image captures it going from river to river, from the Don River to the Humber. Everybody can find something about their life that's represented on Queen St."  This is Awad the urbanist talking, the one who feels "the emergence of the urban agenda for the city has been really rewarding. Everyone is talking about the importance of urbanity, not just locally but on a national scale with a new deal for cities."  Happily, Awad the artist is on the wall with Queen Street, where he finds in the odd assortment of structures that rub shoulders like old pals a uniquely Toronto look. Here's an off-kilter funkiness that's charmingly underwhelming.  Awad first photographed the length of Queen St. "over two years ago when the Gladstone Hotel and the Drake Hotel were both under scaffolding," he explains. "That strip of Queen St. hadn't really changed that much since the '70s or '80s. Now you can line that (2003) version up with the 2005 version of Queen St. to see the changes, to see where that coffee shop is now a gallery, where this appliance store is another gallery."  His Yonge St. panorama, not part of the AGO show, can be found at the Eglinton subway station as part of the city's "Live With Culture" initiative. "It represents Yonge St. from Queen's Quay all the way to Finch Ave." he says. "It's the above-ground representation of the subway."  For some future show, he plans to contrast one vast strip of a Toronto street with streets in other cities, such as New York's Broadway or Paris's Champs-Elysées. "But my practice is rooted in Toronto," he's quick to point out. "I've had opportunities to go to other cities to work and teach and I've really resisted leaving.  "It's been a huge investment in time to see how this city functions, to know where you can go, how you do things, who else is doing what to get certain things done. To leave this city you'd almost be starting at square one again."


Arts Groups To Seek Cash At Clarkson Fete

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By James Adams

(Nov. 16, 2005) It's being billed as a tribute to Adrienne Clarkson -- but there's also going to be plenty of political arm-twisting Friday evening when federal and Ontario government officials gather with representatives from some of the country's major cultural institutions in a Toronto concert hall to mark the recently completed tenure of the former governor-general. The cultural institutions, all based in Toronto, are on the prowl for more than $120-million from Ottawa and Queen's Park for the ambitious construction campaigns most started in 2002, now in various stages of completion in the Ontario capital. Representatives from the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, the National Ballet School, the Canadian Opera Company and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art will attend the dinner at the Toronto Centre for
the Performing Arts at which Clarkson is scheduled to speak, along with federal Immigration and Citizenship Minister Joe Volpe (he's also Minister Responsible for Ontario) and Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario's culture minister. Other politicians attending the fete -- which also includes a performance of Mahler's Fifth Symphony featuring conservatory musicians conducted by COC maestro Richard Bradshaw and a post-concert, invitation-only reception -- are Minister of State (Family and Caregivers) Tony Ianno, whose Trinity-Spadina riding contains many of the cultural institutions; Sarmite Bulte, Toronto MP and parliamentary secretary to Heritage Minister Liza Frulla; and Joseph Cordiano, Ontario's minister of economic development and trade.

There were concerns that a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons might topple the Liberal regime as early as this week, resulting in possible no-shows by Volpe, Ianno and Bulte. But with such a vote likely to occur next week, most of the politicians contacted yesterday indicated they'd be appearing at the Clarkson celebration. The tab for the evening is being picked up by Mississauga-based Siemens Canada, which earlier this year gave $3.5-million to the conservatory for naming rights to the RCM's 150-seat performance hall. Tomorrow, the conservatory is expecting to announce it is receiving another "multimillion-dollar gift from an individual donor" for its $85-million Building National Dreams capital campaign. The timing of the announcement of the donation is designed to signal to the federal and provincial governments that Toronto's expanding cultural organizations are continuing to add to the estimated $400-million-plus they've managed to raise from private companies and individuals.


Gang rape? Homosexuality? This is Swan Lake?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Paula Citron

(Nov. 16, 2005) When the National Ballet of Canada premiered James Kudelka's radical version of Swan Lake on May 5, 1999,
people stood outside the Hummingbird Centre arguing with each other about the meaning of the production's themes and symbols. When the ballet's revival opens tonight, no doubt disputes will rage again. Controversial plays often generate such lively post-theatre discussions, but rarely do ballets. On the other hand, conventional interpretations of Swan Lake do not usually contain a gang rape or a white-slavery meat market. Of the many Swan Lake versions since the original Petipa/Ivanov production in 1895, perhaps none have layered the original storyline with the depth of psychological complexities that have become Kudelka's trademark. At the heart of his version, Kudelka has kept relatively true to the original story, a fairytale of true love, betrayal and tragedy; a white swan, a black swan and a prince. But in this choreographer's hands, the fairytale is transformed into a host of metaphors that takes the original ballet far beyond its simple beginnings. The dancesmith is notorious for giving his dancers little insight into his choreography. He sets the steps and assumes they will come to grips with the interpretation. Thus, as a guide to Kudelka's Swan Lake, I asked several company members what they think the ballet is about.  It's about romance: In Swan Lake's classic story, Prince Siegfried encounters the beautiful white swan Odette, held under a spell by the sorcerer Rothbart, and swears his love to her. When Rothbart appears at the Prince's birthday ball with the black swan Odile, Siegfried mistakes Odile for Odette and promises undying love. This betrayal of true love, even though by accident, dooms Siegfried and Odette to a sad end.”

Aleksandar Antonijevic, a principal dancer, sees Kudelka's prince as a sensitive, marginalized outsider. "The ballet is about Siegfried's quest for the romantic ideal, embodied in a woman who will understand his poetic nature, a search for beauty in a savage world," he says. "It's a love story," adds principal dancer Greta Hodgkinson. "To lose the love of one's life is a death sentence, but as long as Odette lives, so does their love." In most versions, the first act is a celebration of the prince's 21st birthday, filled with pretty dances. In Kudelka's version, the birthday guests are lusty knights returning from a bloody hunt. As the alcohol flows, things spiral out of control, and the lone female, a serving wench, is the victim of a gang rape. Both Antonijevic and principal dancer Guillaume Côté, who perform Siegfried, are adamant that the prince is so distanced from this violent world that he is unaware of the rape. He is also harried by a domineering mother who insists that he must marry. "When Odile comes to the ball," says Côté, "it is the happiest moment of the prince's life. After being passive for so long, he makes a stand and tells his mother he will marry this stranger." Senior ballet master Peter Ottmann feels that in Odette's final solo she becomes determined to keep the soul of Siegfried alive.

"The beauty of their love will exist forever in time," he says. It's about politics and the environment: The choreographer has added a prologue in which a magnificent, nearly nude Rothbart plants a sword in Swan Lake, an idyllic world that is doomed to crumble. This is a ballet about power -- not the age-old conflict between good and evil, but man versus nature. According to first soloist Christopher Body, Rothbart, usually considered the villain, represents the Earth threatened by man's encroachment. The prince, heir to the throne, the leader of humankind, must be destroyed. "Siegfried's betrayal of Odette is the metaphor for our betrayal of the planet, and for man's stupidity," he says. First soloist Patrick Lavoie adds: "Rothbart sets the tone for the whole ballet. He sees the weakness in the prince, his blindness to life's realities, and plays on it. A quest for an ideal in a cruel world is doomed to fail." It's about feminism: "It is a society that renders women as meaningless chattel," says first soloist Stephanie Hutchison, "or objectifies them into unattainable ideals." In fact, from the gang rape of the wench onward, you could call Kudelka's Swan Lake feminism expressed through misogyny. Take, for example, the harrowing experience of the four princesses who appear in the third act, potential brides for the prince, who are made to perform enticing dances to a leering male audience.  Equally misogynistic are the menacing female black swans who do Rothbart's dirty work. They represent women at the beck and call of men who forego the duty of sisterhood. "In these two competing worlds -- the castle and the lake -- the women are no better off with Rothbart," says principal dancer Jennifer Fournier. "A secondary theme could be James making a statement about the objectification of the ballerina and the female image in ballet."

It's about dysfunctional relationships (and Kudelka): "James is uncomfortable with things romantic," says Victoria Bertram, a character artist with the ballet. "He sees deeper, darker, dysfunctional relationships in Swan Lake." Designer Santo Loquasto has created a dark, claustrophobic castle where there is no light. Psychologically, in this ballet there is no ray of hope to offset the ominous sense of dread, and the ultimate death of love. For Bertram and other company members, this could be a metaphor for Kudelka and his own cynical world view. In fact, many theorize that the ballet could be autobiographical, with Kudelka identifying with all the characters. The dancers see parallels in the ballet to Kudelka's personality: impulsive actions that cause situations to unravel; not being able to influence the outcome of important situations; the feeling of being victimized and manipulated. "James identifies with the prince," says Fournier, "the outsider in a prosaic world. He is also happiest in nature, away from the city and society." Côté mentions Siegfried's relationship with his friend Benno, viewing the latter as the prince's gay counterpart. Kudelka has given the two a provocative duet with homoerotic undercurrents. There is also Siegfried's enigmatic and questionable relationship with Rothbart. As Côté points out, the prince's adoration of the swan could be like the gay world's fascination with iconic female celebrity divas, and Rothbart could represent homophobia. "It's significant," says Côté, "that James pumped out as much testosterone in the knights' hunting scene as he could to put Siegfried, and the more conforming Benno, in greater contrast to the others in that macho society."

Swan Lake opens at Toronto's Hummingbird Centre tonight at 7:30 and continues until Sunday (416-345-9595).


Mag's 100th Bash Rootless

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman, Entertainment Columnist

(Nov. 16, 2005) It was billed as the 100th birthday gala of
Maclean's, a/k/a Canada's magazine, and it certainly had the feel of a great event.  But the glitzy show seemed to be more Garth Drabinsky Goes to Las Vegas than a celebration of Canada and its premier magazine.  There were star performers (including Brent Carver) and celebrity orators (such as Kim Cattrall, David Frum, Belinda Stronach and Barbara Amiel), but you would hardly know what country you were in.  Both Canada and the history of Maclean's (which now ranks, after the death of Saturday Night, as our oldest magazine) were weirdly under-represented in the lengthy show produced by Drabinsky at the invitation of Ken Whyte, publisher and editor of the magazine.  About 400 of Toronto's A-list set, all dressed up in tuxes and gowns from Holt's, gathered on the vast stage of the palace built by Mel Lastman, once known as the Ford Centre and now called the Toronto Centre for the Arts.  Among the guests were former Ontario premiers Bob Rae and David Peterson, moguls Galen Weston and Conrad Black, media stars such as Valerie Pringle and Seamus O'Regan, cultural leaders such as Anna Porter, Peter Herrndorf and Jack Rabinovitch and mega-lawyers Edward Greenspan and Michael Levine.  And of course, there were many who figure prominently in the history of Maclean's, including former editor Peter C. Newman, one-time columnist Allan Fotheringham and the broadcasting czar who owns Maclean's, Ted Rogers.  Reversing the settings of audience and performers, Drabinsky put the audience on the stage while the show took place on a temporary stage near the front of the normal seating area.  The show unfolded in three acts, each covering several decades going back to 1905, with dinner courses served during the intermissions.

Among other things, the evening marked yet another comeback for Drabinsky after the fall of his Livent empire seven years ago; he's had more of them than anyone in showbiz history with the possible exception of Judy Garland. This was the same stage where he produced many Broadway musicals in the mid-1990s; last night was his first return gig here since 1998.  Unfortunately, in terms of content, he seemed to have lost track of where he was and what the occasion was. Decade after decade rolled by with sound clips and extended references to Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Alfred Kinsey, Martin Luther King, Ed Sullivan and the Beatles.  There was no mention of Laurier or the Dionne quintuplets, let alone cultural pioneers like Jack McClelland. It all added up to a glossily packaged social and cultural history, but one in which Canada hardly had a right to exist.  The story of World War II was told without reference to Mackenzie King. The arrival of talking pictures in Hollywood was covered, but not the birth of the CBC or National Film Board.  Canadian literature? You'd assume from this show there was none worth mentioning. Mordecai Richler, Alice Munro, Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood did not make the cut.  At least the performers were mostly Canadian, including Carver (as marvellous as ever), Susan Gilmour and violinist Jacques Israelievitch. But with only a couple of exceptions, the material chosen for them to perform was from elsewhere.  And so we had Gordon Lightfoot sitting in the audience while Carver sang Bob Dylan's Blowin' in the Wind. The wartime song chosen was "The White Cliffs of Dover" rather than "I'll Never Smile Again" — a song written by Toronto's Ruth Lowe.  And if you expected to get any sense of what Maclean's has been about for 100 years, or the writers who made it successful, you would come away scratching your head.  This could just as easily have been a birthday bash of Time or Newsweek.  How could anyone allow a show like this to go on?  The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.


Mo'Nique's Moment

Excerpt from - By Pamela K. Johnson

Mo’Nique rested her hand against her belly on the day of our interview, gently cradling the form of David, who had just moved in her womb. “He
tends to curl up,” she winced. Her voice, usually powerful enough to reach the back row of a comedy club, was now as soft as kitten fur. At his mother’s touch, David simmered down and nestled against brother Jonathon, who loved to chill. “I can’t wait to meet them,” Mo’Nique said. “I’m like, Wow, I’m 37 years old and having twins with my best friend.”  She and Sidney Hicks, her soul mate from high school, welcomed their little princes into the world October 3. Though the new parents have known each other for more than 20 years and kept in somewhat close touch, it was a surprise to them both when a platonic hug at a party Mo’Nique threw last year awakened romantic yearnings. “That night it was different to me,” says Mo’Nique. “I saw him as a man, my man. I thought, Oh my God, I could fall in love with him.” Hicks simply says, “The love has always been there; it has just been taken to a different place.” They plan to marry in May.

The bigger surprise may be that the two, who grew up in the Baltimore area, still know each other at all. They only attended Randallstown High School together for one semester—more than two decades ago. But they stayed connected and maintained a friendship that has lasted through her two marriages and divorces, his girlfriends, and the children they’ve each had along the way: her Mark, 19, and Shalon, 15, and his little Michael, 2. All the while Hicks has watched his friend go from being the funny girl in English class to a Hollywood power broker. Her latest groundbreaking project, Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance, is a plus-size beauty pageant that gave the Oxygen network its highest-scoring original program.  Yet with all her accomplishments—television and film roles, best-selling book, sold-out comedy concerts (see “Big Business” in the December issue) —neither she nor Hicks could have predicted that she would take on yet another pivotal role: the leading lady in his life. In hindsight, it makes sense the two would end up together, with all they have in common—including a love of comedy. Hicks, who worked in corporate sales for many years, first tested the comedic waters when Mo’Nique opened a comedy club in Baltimore a dozen years ago. She told him she was going to sign him up, “and I said, ‘Okay,’ ” Hicks recalls. So he honed his joke-telling skills and for several years wrote material and TV-show treatments for Mo’Nique.

To read the entire article, "Mo'Nique's Moment," pick up the December issue of ESSENCE.  


Performances Recall Ken Saro-Wiwa

Excerpt From The Globe And Mail - By Guy Dixon

(Nov. 10, 2005) Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa is as strong a figure for persecuted writers now as he was at the time of his execution 10 years ago today, given the numerous events being held around the world to commemorate his death. At least 28 countries are marking the 10th anniversary of Saro-Wiwa's hanging, along with eight fellow dissidents from Nigeria's Ogoni region. They had successfully organized grassroots opposition to the environmental damage by international oil companies tapping Nigeria's rich oil supply. Saro-Wiwa's case became an international cause with groups around the world trying to save his life. Saro-Wiwa was eventually executed on widely discredited charges connected to the deaths of a group of Ogoni chiefs. PEN Canada is staging a tribute tonight in Toronto featuring writer Rohinton Mistry, journalist and author Linda McQuaig, dub poet and actress d'bi.young and others. In addition to readings of Saro-Wiwa's works by Mistry and McQuaig, the evening will include the performance of a play written by the writer while he was imprisoned,
awaiting the outcome of his trial and likely execution. Roughly a 20-minute to half-hour monologue, with an actor as Saro-Wiwa, the play almost perfectly foreshadows the actual details of his death, said David Cozac, a program coordinator at PEN Canada.

In London, the Remember Saro-Wiwa campaign (a coalition of activist groups) has staged over two weeks of events, including readings of his work, panel discussions, a silent vigil outside the London office of the Shell Oil Co. and a memorial service on Sunday. PEN has never commemorated a writer in quite this way and with as much support around the world. Even the group's yearly Day of the Imprisoned Writer, usually held on Nov. 15, has been moved up to today to honour Saro-Wiwa. "I think it's a measure of the person that he was, in the sense that he was larger than life through his writing," said PEN Canada's executive director Isobel Harry. Saro-Wiwa continued to write to the various international PEN centres when they were fighting for his release, keeping them closely informed about his situation. "We really had a human face behind the case in a lot of ways -- more than many other cases." PEN Canada also hopes the Saro-Wiwa event will emphasize the plight of other persecuted writers around the world. The Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation and PEN Canada are hosting Remember Saro-Wiwa? in Toronto at 8 tonight, at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St.




WWE's Eddie Guerrero Found Dead

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail  - Associated Press

(Nov. 13, 2005) Minneapolis — A World Wrestling Entertainment star was found dead in his hotel room Sunday in Minneapolis, where he was scheduled to appear that evening in a WWE show. Eduardo Gory Guerrero, 38, didn't respond to a wake-up call Sunday morning, authorities said. His nephew, fellow WWE wrestler Chavo Guerrero, and hotel security at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center forced their way into the room and found him. There were no apparent signs of foul play, police said. An autopsy was planned to determine how Guerrero died. His nephew said Guerrero was open about past drug and alcohol abuse but had been sober for four years. Guerrero was married and had three children.  “This is a huge loss,” said WWE chairman Vince McMahon. “Eddie was a wonderful, fun-loving human being. Eddie was a consummate performer.” Guerrero was a featured star on the UPN series “WWE Smackdown!” and son of Mexican wrestler Gory Guerrero. Last year, he became the second wrestler of Hispanic heritage to be WWE champion, though he lost the title four months later. UPN also aired a special last year on his life, “Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story.” The program chronicled Guerrero's childhood and his struggle with drug addiction that almost cost him his job, family and life.



Lose Your Turkey WIngs by (American) Thanksgiving

(Nov. 14, 2005) Two of the most complained about areas from women is the sagging triceps, or "turkey wings." This is the part of your arm that can jiggle in that embarrassing way whenever you raise your arm -- and it shows up even in the winter time unless you wear long sleeves every single day. Thankfully, you can get a good start in losing your turkey wings before (American) Thanksgiving.



Motivational Note: One Moment In Time!

Whitney Houston sang a wonderful song called, "One Moment In Time," which detailed how one moment, one defining moment, could change your life! In everybody's life there are moments that define the direction and context of our lives. Those moments are commonly called "Defining Moments!"