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


Updated:  November 24, 2005

One month until Christmas! Yikes. Happy Thanksgiving to those of my readers south of the border!

The HOT events this week include When Brothers Speak on Saturday night and the fab John Legend at Massey Hall on Sunday night - check out all the details below!

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.






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



John Legend LIVE in Concert – November 27, 2005

Source:  REMG Concerts

John Legend, recently nominated for an American Music Award as one of the year's "Favourite Male R&B Artists," is the keyboard
genius behind hits for Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West and Jay-Z. Combining the sensuality of Marvin Gaye and sincerity of Stevie Wonder, with the directness of Snoop Dogg and the wit of Kanye West, John Legend's Get Lifted has rocketed to the top of the charts and helped him sell out concerts around the world.

With a voice described by the New York Times as "supple and bold, echoing the gliding, curving lines and impulsive dynamics of Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder, the rasp of Otis Redding and the falsetto of Al Green," there's little doubt that John Legend is one artist not to be missed when he performs at Toronto's Massey Hall on November 27th.

Massey Hall

178 Victoria St.
8:00 pm
Tickets are $57.50, $47.50, $38.50
Reserved Seating in advance (does not include service charge) and are available at: Ticketmaster, Massey Hall, HOB
19+ event
Doors @ 8 pm






Langfield Entertainment Special Offer in Bahamas!

Langfield Entertainment treats its readers to the life of a celebrity in  "The Bahamas", with a free limousine and chauffeur. And TO QUALIFY, all you have to do is visit and go to RESERVATIONS and request it in the name of LANGFIELD ENTERTAINMENT - CANADA.  

We know you dream of the Bahamas... the sun, the sand and the beach, but you can also enjoy the local culture and many local attractions. Nassau and Paradise Island offer visitors every Bahamian experience, and most are packaged in the convenience of a "guided tour excursion" of the points that interest youmost.  Nassau is the home of the Bahamian national capital, the bustling hub of The Islands Of The Bahamas that traces its heritage back to the shipwrecking days of the legendary pirate Blackbeard. Prized for its sheltered harbour, the city made history and preserved it beautifully in colonial mansions, cathedrals, 18th-century fortresses and a Queen's Staircase whose 66 steps lead to a view not to be missed.  Nassau is home to weather-beaten, ancient forts; elegant, noble architecture; and fine local and international crafts and goods, from handmade lengths of batik to Rolex watches. An abundance of posh resort hotels, casinos, cabaret shows, and cruise ship docks make Nassau a vibrant center for entertainment as well as commerce.  For those who prefer a quieter, more serene Nassau/Paradise Island, it can be found farther west. Indeed, once you leave Nassau, the pace is slower.  For example, the section of West Bay Street that leads to Cable Beach is nicknamed "Go Slow Bend." Beyond Cable Beach, the island is transformed.  Large tracts of pine trees and rolling hills dominate the central portions of Nassau/Paradise Island, and the island's perimeter is marked by miles of fine white sand beach Paradise Island. 

The 685 acres of Paradise Island are connected to the city of Nassau by two 600-foot bridges. The island is developed almost exclusively to accommodate travelers, with resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, a golf course, an aquarium, and a casino rounding out the amenities. Very few private residences exist on the island. For encounters of a different kind, venture east and cross the bridge from the town of Nassau to "Paradise," with resorts, casinos and exciting nightlife on an island formerly called "Hog." Its transformation is not unlike Cinderella's putting on the glass slipper. For years the island stood completely undeveloped, its beaches and tropical splendour unnoticed by the world. Suddenly, with the addition of luxurious hotels and a sparkling casino, it was transformed into one of the most glamorous and celebrated resort centers in the world, combining exclusive tranquillity and lots of action. Reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes and the former Shah of Iran are among those who have found refuge here.  As you go east, just past the bridge to Paradise Island, there is the boating heart of Nassau/Paradise Island with a number of marinas and boats for hire. The East End is also a delightful residential area showing the full flavour of the colonial past in its architecture and horticulture.

So, plan your trip to Bahamas and reserve your Langfield Entertainment Limo and Chauffeur TODAY!






New Bob Marley?

Source: Universal Music Enterprises

(Oct. 7, 2005) In the year Bob Marley would have turned 60, the past, present and future of his music are celebrated not only with the first Bob Marley & The Wailers greatest hits package to include both his early sides and his Island Records hits but also a new recording and two new remixes.  Along with 17 vintage tracks, Africa Unite: The Singles Collection (Island/Tuff Gong/Universal Music Canada), in stores November 15, 2005, spotlights "Slogans," the first new official Marley track released in more than a decade. It is believed Marley recorded the song "Slogans" in a Miami bedroom in 1979.  The tapes were kept at Marley's mother's house and last year the reggae legend's sons Stephen and Ziggy revisited the acoustic demo.  In 2005, Stephen overdubbed the tracks with other instruments, including guitar by Eric Clapton.  Stephen and Ziggy produced "Slogans" specifically for this release.  Another new recording is a remix of "Africa Unite," whose original was heard on the 1979 album Survival.  The song is presented here in an anthemic remix by of The Black Eyed Peas, who was personally invited to create the remix by Rita Marley, Bob's wife.  Also new is the Ashley Beedle Remix of "Get Up, Stand Up Vs. Jamrock," a mash-up of Bob's classic and "Welcome To Jamrock," the 2005 hit from youngest son Damian.  Africa Unite: The Singles Collection commemorates Marley's life on record just as the 2005 Africa Unite concert in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on his 60th birthday (February 6) commemorated it on stage. Africa Unite: The Singles Collection includes the early classics "Soul Rebel," "Lively Up Yourself," "Trenchtown Rock" and "Concrete Jungle" alongside the Island hits "I Shot The Sheriff," "Get Up, Stand Up," "No Woman, No Cry," "Exodus," "Jamming," "Could You Be Loved," "One Love/People Get Ready," "Roots, Rock, Reggae," "Waiting In Vain," "The Sun Is Shining," "Is This Love," "Three Little Birds" and "Buffalo Soldier." Marley's stature in music grows with each passing year. Africa Unite: The Singles Collection continues his legacy.

Bob Marley Background

Bob Marley has been called "the first Third World superstar", a visionary, a revolutionary and even a prophet. Certainly he was one of the most
characteristic and challenging performers of this century. His timeless and evocative music continues to have an enormous impact on people of all races throughout the world.   Like most popular artists, Marley wrote about love. But his music also reflected a militant spirituality, a blood-red hatred of racism and colonialism, and a deep yearning for personal, artistic, political and social freedom. It is important to consider the roots of this legend. All these themes reflected the experiences of a man of mixed racial heritage growing up in a poverty-stricken crown colony. Marley was the product of Jamaica, a country with a unique mixture of black pride and fundamentalist religions set against a background of extreme economic deprivation.   Although there was clearly genius in his vocal abilities, in his on-stage charisma and in his vastly underrated guitar work, it was Marleys attitude and lyrics that made a lasting impact on listeners. He mined fresh artistic territory by reflecting the concerns of impoverished people everywhere.   Marleys musical career stretched over twenty years. During that time his style reflected every new development in the rise of modern Jamaican music-from ska to contemporary "international" reggae.   His first recordings were made as the beginning of the 1960s as a solo artist. In 1962 Marley auditioned for a local music entrepreneur named Leslie Kong. Impressed by the quality of Bobs vocals, Kong took the young singer into the studio. He cut three sides, the first of which, Judge Not, was his first release on Kongs Beverly label.   Bob was tutored during these early years by Joe Higgs, an established singer from the area who held informal lessons for aspiring vocalists in the tenement yards of Trench Town, Kingston. It was here that Marley and his friend Bunny Livingston met Peter Macintosh and decided to form the Wailing Wailers. (Macintosh later shortened his name to Tosh, while Livingston became known as Bunny Wailer.)  

The new group had a mentor, a Rastafarian hand drummer named Alvin Patterson who introduced the youths to Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, an
important record produced in Kingston. In the summer of 1963 Dodd auditioned the Wailing Wailers and agreed to record them. It was in early 1964, as a founding member of the Wailing Wailers that Bob first hit the Jamaican charts.   The record was Simmer Down, recorded in the last weeks of 1963 on Dodd?s Downbeat label. By January of 1964 it was number one. Simmer Down caused a sensation in Jamaica and the Wailers began recording regularly for Dodds Studio One company. This was the era of ska; a hot new music with a pronounced backbeat. Ska had its origins in the New Orleans rhythm & blues picked up from American radio stations and played at local "sound systems".   Over the next few years the Wailers - a group that also included at various times Junior Braithwaite and the back-up singers Beverly Kelso and Cherry Smith - put out some 30 sides and established themselves as one of the hottest groups in Jamaica. Despite their popularity however, the economics of staying together proved too much and Braithwaite, Kelso, and Smith left the band. At roughly the same time Bob joined his mother in the United States. She had moved to Delaware and saved enough money to send him a ticket. Just before he moved he met young Rita Anderson, and on February 10, 1966, the two were married.   Marleys stay in the US was short-lived. He worked just enough to finance his real ambition: music. He returned in October to Jamaica to join up again with Peter and Bunny and re-form the group, now simply known as the Wailers.   It was during these years that Marley fully embraced Rastafari. One can not fully comprehend Marley or the Wailers music without reference to this movement. There is a mystery at the heart of every religion; Rastafaris main object of worship is the former Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie, who is seen as the personification of God on earth. Rastas acknowledge the origin of their religion in Christianity and Judaism while rejecting the "babylon hypocrisy" of the modern church. In addition to proclaiming the divinity of Salassie, worshippers yearn for a return to a homeland in Africa.  

Jamaicans in general have managed to maintain many cultural connections to Africa. That African heritage was given serious political expression by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican preacher and entrepreneur who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association. This organisation advocated the creation of a new black state in Africa, free from white domination. Garvey also predicted the crowning of a new black king. A few years later, in 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen became Emperor of Ethiopia and had taken a new name, Haile Selassie. The Emperor claimed to be the 225th ruler in a line that stretched back to Menelik, the son of Solomon and Sheba. Garveys prediction inspired his followers to found the Rastafarian movement.   Marleys conversion was part of a religious revival that had touched many other Jamaican artists, many of whom had begun writing songs about exile and return to Africa. Such songs as Maytals Six & Seven Books of Moses, Bob Andys Ive Got to Go Back Home, and Desmond Dekkers Israelites mark the early influences of the Rasta movement on reggae music.   The Wailers growing commitment to Rastafari brought them into conflict with Clement Dodd. Determined to control their own destiny, they formed their own record label, Wailin N Soul. Despite a few early successes, the Wailers limited experience forced the label out of business in late 1967. The group survived, however, initially as songwriters for a company associated with the American singer Johnny Nash. The following decade Nash had an international hit with Marleys Stir It Up.    The Wailers then joined forces with Lee "Scratch" Perry, the production genius who virtually re-invented the sound of Jamaican music. By the end of the Sixties, with Perry at the mixing desk, the Wailers were again back at the top in Jamaica. The combination of the Wailers and Perry resulted in some of the finest music the band ever made. Tracks like Soul Rebel, Duppy Conqueror, 400 Years, and Small Axe were classics that defined the future direction of reggae. By the late sixties the Wailers music reflected Marleys new beliefs. Gone were the rude boy anthems; in their place was a growing commitment to spiritual and social issues ? the cornerstone of his real legacy. With its emphasis on "getting yours here on earth" Rastfarian unabashedly mixes spirituality with social criticism.   In 1970 Aston "Familyman" Barrett and his brother Carlton (bass and drums, respectively) joined the Wailers as musicians. The rhythm nucleus of Perrys studio band the Upsetters, they came to the Wailers unchallenged as Jamaica?s hardest rhythm section. With the addition of the Barrett brothers the Wailers reputation continued to grow throughout the Caribbean, though they remained essentially unknown internationally.  

That same year Bob accepted an invitation from Johnny Nash to accompany him to Sweden, where the American singer had taken a film score commission. While in Europe Bob secures a recording contract with CBS, which was also Nashs company. By the autumn of 1971 the Wailers were in London, ostensibly promoting their CBS single Reggae on Broadway. Instead they found themselves stranded in Britain.   In December Marley walked into Basing Street studio of Island Records and asked to see its founder, Chris Blackwell. Blackwell had launched Island in Jamaica in the late 1950s. By 1962 he realised that, by re-locating to London, he could represent all his Jamaican rivals in Britain. The company was re-born in May, 1962, selling initially to the Jamaican population, centred mostly in London and Birmingham. Blackwell then produced a worldwide smash with My Boy Lollipop, a pop/ ska tune by the young Jamaican singer Millie Small.   Through the Sixties Island had grown to become the UKs prime source of Jamaican music, from ska through rock-steady and reggae. The company had also embraced white rock music, with such bands as Traffic, King crimson, Cat Stevens, Free and Fairport Convention. When Marley arrived at Island, it was the hottest independent in the world.   Blackwell knew of Marleys Jamaican reputation. Island had released his first records in Britain. More importantly, Blackwell had also heard the groups recent demo tapes and had been impressed. He offered the group a deal unique for Jamaican music; the Wailers were advanced $8000 to make an album.   The relationship that developed between Island and the Wailers was unprecedented. For the first time a reggae band had access to the best recording facilities and were treated in the same way as a rock group. Before the Wailers signed to Island, reggae had been sold only as singles and on cheaply produced compilations. The Wailers first album, Catch A Fire broke all the rules. Beautifully packaged and heavily promoted, its releases marked the start of Marleys long climb to international fame and recognition.  

Years later the acclaimed reggae dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, commenting on Catch A Fire, wrote: " A whole new style of Jamaican music has come into being. It has a different character, a different sound what I can only describe as International Reggae. It incorporates elements from popular music: rock and soul, blues and funk. These elements facilitated a breakthrough on the international market."   Island also decided The Wailers should tour both Britain and America, again a complete novelty for a reggae band. Marley and the band came to London in April 1973, embarking on a club tour, which sharpened them as a live group. After three months, however, the band returned to Jamaica and Bunny, disenchanted by life on the road, refused to do the American tour. His place was taken by Joe Higgs, the original teacher of the Wailers. The tour drew packed houses, including a weekend engagement playing support to a young Bruce Springsteen.   Such was the demand for a group that and autumn tour was arranged, with 17 dates as support to Sly & The Family Stone, at that time the top band in Black American music. Four shows into the tour, however, the Wailers were taken off the bill. It seems they had been too good; support bands should never detract from the main attraction. The Wailers made their way to San Francisco where they broadcast a live concert for the pioneering rock station, KSAN. The bulk of that session was finally made available in February 1991, when Island releases the commemorative album Talkin Blues.   Catch A Fire was followed a year later by Burnin, an LP that included remakes of some of the bands older songs such as Duppy Conqueror, Small Axe and Put It On, together with such stand out tracks as Get Up, Stand Up and I Shot The Sheriff (the latter recorded by Eric Clapton, who had a number one hit with the song in America).   The following year Marley spent much of his time in the studio working on sessions that eventually provided Natty Dread, an album that included such fiercely committed songs as Talkin Blues, No Woman No Cry, So Jah Seh, revolution, and Them Belly Full (But We Hungry). By the start of the next year, however, Bunny and Peter had left the group. They were late to embark on solo careers while the band was re-named Bob Marley & the Wailers.  

Natty Dread was released in February 1975. By the summer, the band was on the road again. Bunnys and Peters harmonies were replaced by the I-Threes, the female trio comprised of Rita with Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. Among the concerns were two shows at the Lyceum Ballroom in London which, even now, are remembered as highlights of the decade.   The shows were recorded and the subsequent Live! album, together with the single, No Woman No Cry, climbed into the UK charts. By November, when the Wailers returned to Jamaica to play a benefit concert with Stevie Wonder, they were without question the countrys biggest stars.   Their next album, released in 1976, finally cracked the American charts. Rastaman Vibration was, for many, the clearest exposition yet of Marleys music and beliefs. It included such brilliant tracks as Crazy Baldhead, Johnny Was, Who the Cap Fit and, perhaps most significantly of all, War, the lyrics of which were taken from a speech by Haile Selassie.   Rastaman Vibrations international success cemented Marleys growing political importance in Jamaica, where his strong Rastafarian stance had resonated with the ghetto youth. By way of thanking the people, Marley decided to play at a free concert at Kingston's National Heroes Park in December of 1976. The idea was to emphasize the need for peace in the slums of the city, were warring factions had brought turmoil and murder.   Just after the concert was announced, the Government called an election for December 20th. The campaign was a signal for renewed ghetto fighting and, on the eve of the concert, gunmen broke into Marley's house and shot him. In the confusion the would-be assassins only wounded Marley, who was hastily taken to a safe haven in the hills surrounding Kingston. Rita Marley and Bobs then manager, Don Taylor, were also wounded. For a day he deliberated about playing the concert and then, on December 5, came on stage and played a brief set in defiance of the gunmen. It was to be Marleys last appearance in Jamaica for nearly eighteen months. Immediately after the show he left the country and, during early 1977, lived in London where he recorded his next album.   In 1977 Exodus firmly established Marleys international superstar status. It remained in the British charts for 56 straight weeks, and netted three UK hit singles, Exodus, Waiting in Vain, and Jamming. The band also played a week of concerts at London's Rainbow Theatre, their last dates in the city during the Seventies.   1978s Kaya saw the band capitalise on their new international success. It hit number four on the UK charts the week of its release. The album saw Marley in a different mood Kaya was an album of love songs, and of course, homages to the power of ganga.  There were several other events in 1978 which were of extraordinary significance to Marley. In April that year he returned to Jamaica to play the One Love Peace Concert in front of prime Minister Michael Manley, Opposition Leader Edward Seaga and a crowd of tens of thousands. And at the end of the year he visited Africa for the first time, initially going to Kenya and then on to Ethiopia, spiritual home of the Rastafarians. In the same year he received the United Nation?s Medal of Peace.   That same year the band toured Europe and America, a series of shows that provided a second live album, Babylon By Bus. The Wailers also broke new ground by playing Australia, Japan and New Zealand.  

In 1979 the Survival LP was released, Marleys ninth album for Island records. It included Zimbabwe, a stirring anthem for the soon-to-be liberated Rhodesia, together with So Much Trouble in the Night and the anthemic Africa Unite. As the sleeve design (comprising the flags of the independent nations) indicated, Survival was an album devoted to pan-African solidarity.   At the start of the following year - a new decade ? Marley & the Wailers flew to Gabon to make their debut on the African continent. It was not the event that Marley had anticipated however as it quickly became evident that the band would be performing only for that country's elite. Marley returned to Africa in 1980 at the official initiation of the Government of Zimbabwe to play at that countrys independence Ceremony. It was perhaps the greatest honour ever afforded the band, and one which underlined the Wailers importance in the Third World.   A European tour came the following year: the band broke festival records throughout the continent, including a 100,000 capacity show in Milan. His new Uprising album hit every chart in Europe. It was a period of maximum optimism and plans were being made for an American tour, including an opening slot for Stevie Wonder the following wither.   At the end of the European tour, Marley went to America. He played two shows at Madison Square garden but immediately afterwards became seriously ill. Cancer was diagnosed. A melanoma on one of his toes had led to the spread of the disease throughout his body. Marley fought the disease for eight months. He then left Germany, where he was receiving treatment, for his home in Jamaica. Unable to complete the journey, he died in a Miami hospital May 11, 1981. Marley was given an official state funeral by the people of Jamaica. Following the funeral, his body was taken to his birthplace of Nine Miles in St. Anns Parish where it now rests in a mausoleum. Marley was just 36 years old.   The Legend lives on. Marleys stature and popularity have continued to grow in the years since his passing, and today there are few places in the world that have not been touched by his music. The Legend compilation, released in 1984 and featuring some of his most popular songs, remains one of the best-selling catalogue albums on the Billboard charts. 1992s Songs of Freedom, a limited edition of one million four-CD boxed sets featuring rare and previously unreleased material, quickly sold out, and became a much sought after collectors item prior to its re-release.  


Kardi Flaunts Jamaican Roots

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Robert Everett-Green

Globe and Mail CD of the Week: Fire and Glory
Kardinal Offishall
Black Jays/Virgin (EMI)

(Nov. 18, 2005) There must have been many times during the past four years when Kardinal Offishall (Jason Harrow) wished he were recording the Jamaican way. The single has always been king in Kingston, where anyone with a good song and a little cash can go to one of innumerable small studios and put a record on the street within weeks. Kardi, however, was trying to do it North American style, with the industrial clout of a big international label. Unfortunately, the label (MCA) died before the Toronto rapper's sophomore album could be released. Fire and Glory is not that record, and Kardi seems keenly aware that he may have missed the moment that could have been his in the wake of Firestarter Vol. 1, his excellent 2001 debut. Dancehall rap rhythms were still rare on the scene then, till Sean Paul and Shaggy scattered them across mainstream radio. As if to compensate, Fire and Glory flaunts Kardi's Jamaican roots from the very beginning, with a spoken-word introduction in patois so thick that only those to the island born will get it the first time through. That gives way to The Last Standing Soldier, a shuffling rock steady number about battles lost and campaigns yet to come. The album's best tracks keep a stimulating distance from anything on the American rap scene. Everybody Gone Gangsta critiques the dominant flava, over a buzzy keyboard and bass ground that could suit many a grime star from Britain. Freshie documents the rise and fall of a Jamaican immigrant in Toronto, with a plaintive chorus, bottom-heavy yet delicate groove, and rhythmic flow that make up for the predictable narrative.

Neva Knew (Till I Kissed You) reveals Kardi to be a credible singer in the soulful rock steady mode, and features a nice sampled tribute to Canadian reggae pioneer Nana McLean. The title track offers a rueful look in the mirror, as Kardi recounts all the symptoms of being recognized by people whose memories of his past music have been fogged by the long wait-out with MCA. Like most other rappers, Kardi sometimes feels the need to bang his chest, and does so to tedious extremes in Heads Up and Kaysarasara ("I talk in thunderclaps"). If he honestly wonders why "everybody gone gangsta," the answer is here, in the eternal contest to prove who is the baddest brother in the 'hood.


Canada Gets Second Satellite Radio Operation

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 17, 2005)
Canadian Satellite Radio will be up and running across the country in early December. CSR is the second of two discretionary, subscription-based satellite radio operations originating in the U.S. and licensed earlier this year by the federal broadcast regulator.  Jointly owned by Toronto entrepreneur John Bitove and Washington-based XM Satellite Radio, CSR will air 80 channels in Canada.  Four will be 100 per-cent English-language Canadian content and four French-language Canadian content, the company’s director of programming, Ross Davies, said yesterday.  CSR will carry an additional four “occasional” channels for play-by-play hockey, as well as a “quick update” hockey score and information service.  Rival Sirius Radio Canada — jointly owned by Toronto-based Standard Radio, CBC and New York-based Sirius Radio — recently announced plans to launch in early December as well. It will carry 100 channels, 10 of which will be devoted to Canadian content — four in English, five in French, and one multi-lingual service — for $14.99 a month.

Subscription to CSR/XM, which will carry 72 music, news, sports, talk, comedy, general entertainment and children’s content channels programmed in the U.S., in addition to its eight Canadian channels, will cost $12.99 per month.  CSR/XM receivers will be available in major appliance, hardware and electronics stores within three or four weeks, and range in price from $99.99 for the popular, ultra-thin Delphi RoadyXT model, to $399 for the Delphi XM MyFi, the world’s first portable handheld XM satellite radio, Davies said.  The eight Canadian channels on CSR/XM are:

·  (un)Signed — A rock music channel featuring new, emerging and recently established Canadian rock artists.
·  Laugh Attack — Uncensored comedy programmed by Canadian entrepreneur Mark Breslin, highlighting Canadian comics.
·  Canada 360 — A national news and information channel.
·  Air Musique — Punk, hip-hop, metal, electronic and alternative rock music.
·  Franc Parler — News, talk, information and sports.
·  Sur La Route — Modern and classic pop, folk, rock and roll, “chanson” and soul.
·  Quoi de Neuf — Arts and entertainment news and information.

Despite the massive show of support both CSR and Sirius Radio received from a nationwide lobby by independent Canadian musicians during both the licence application hearings and a subsequent appeal against the two satellite licences that were approved, only three of the eight Canadian channels are devoted to Canadian music — one in English and two in French.  “We hope to develop more Canadian music channels down the road,” said Davies, who recently jumped ship from an advisory position at Sirius to take the CSR/XM programming job held by Toronto radio guru Bob Mackowycz during the two-year planning and application process.  “And we hope the Canadian independent music sector will be thrilled by our content, which will cover all the bases.”  CSR has also appointed a Canadian talent coordinator whose job will be “to take the message to XM in Washington and boost Canadian content on the American channels,” Davies added.  Unlike Sirius Canada, which has opted for the time-being not to carry controversial American “shock jock” talk radio star Howard Stern on its roster, CSR/XM will air the equally irreverent and uncensored The Opie and Anthony Show on its High Voltage channel, Davies said.  “We are not shying away from controversial programming, which will be coded on our receivers so listeners can lock it out if they want to, but we’re having meetings with Opie and Anthony to make them aware of our position as members of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. We hope satellite radio will be regulated differently from regular radio — as discretionary TV is. But we have to be smart and abide by our own rules.”


Jamie Foxx Re-Introduces Himself

Source: Amina Elshahawi, ICED Media amina@icedmedia

(Nov. 23, 2005) The release of Foxx’s long-awaited J Records debut,
UNPREDICTABLE, demonstrates the lessons the Oscar-winner learned at the feet of one of music’s true giants. With a wide range of sounds and emotions, and a breathtaking list of guest stars adding to the mix, the one-time music student at San Diego’s United States International University finally fulfills his true dream.  From the party-starting first single "Unpredictable" to the smouldering "Love Changes," UNPREDICTABLE reveals an artist ready to play in R&B’s big leagues. Of course, Foxx’s musical skills are no secret — the album follows his appearance on Kanye West’s #1 single "Gold Digger," which reprised the magic of their collaboration on last year’s Grammy-nominated smash "Slow Jamz."  That hit was just one taste of Jamie Foxx’s recent unprecedented accomplishments. In addition to winning the 2005 Oscar Academy Award as Best Actor for his career-defining performance in Ray, he was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category for his part in Collateral, making him just the second male actor with nominations for two different films in the same year. Those roles, in conjunction with his acclaimed turn in the FX Networks’ Redemption, led to him being the first person ever nominated for three acting awards at the Golden Globes and four SAG awards in one year. But Foxx, 37, is quick to point out that music isn’t just a sideline to his history-making acting career. "I’ve been working on music for the last 15 years," he says. "I don’t do nothing sideways. If I’m gonna get it, I’m gonna get it 100 percent." He did much of the work on UNPREDICTABLE at his own home studio, and even on the set of his current production, Miami Vice, he’s been logging hours in a portable studio lent to him by super producer Timbaland (who manned the boards on the album’s "Can I Take You Home"). In fact, Foxx says that the success and notoriety he’s enjoyed since his breakthrough performance in 1999’s Any Given Sunday is sometimes held against him when he focuses on a different medium. "I’ve been told many times, ‘I know what you did on the acting side and the Oscars and all that, but that doesn’t mean anything on the music side!,’" he says. "And that’s completely wrong, because the medium of television has bashed that in the head. Music is visual now, as well." To convince the sceptics, he says, "I had to make sure that the album was tight even if I didn’t have anybody to enhance it." But in the end, Foxx was also able to assemble a line-up of guests that reads like a Billboard Top Ten chart— Mary J. Blige, Ludacris, and Twista all add their flavours to UNPREDICTABLE, with production by Timbaland, Babyface and others.

Foxx says that these collaborations all came together naturally. "Those are my friends," he says. "These are people I’ve formed relationships with over the years, thrown parties for, hung out with." The Texas-born former star of In Living Color and The Jamie Foxx Show notes that these artists all share a drive and passion he was able to relate to and learn from. "They’re all going to be legends," he says. "They want to win—not just for the monetary thing, but for the soul and the spirit. That history does something fantastic to your body and your soul. If it feels that good in the studio, when it gets out there with that Clive Davis presentation, man, people are in trouble!"  Hooking up with Clive Davis—Chairman & CEO, BMG, US, and the music legend behind superstars from Janis Joplin to Santana to Alicia Keys—was part of Foxx’s vision for his music career. In 2005, he engineered a performance at Davis’s famous pre- Grammy party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, as a way to showcase his talent directly to the top. "I’d been to the Clive Davis party before," he says, "and I was like, I know how it is, it’s high ground up in here, you got to come in legendary already. So I used a little of my comedy to break the ice, and then slipped my singing in on them before they even knew what was happening." A performance of "Slow Jamz" alongside Kanye West and Twista led to an impromptu sing-off with Alicia Keys and Angie Stone. By evening’s end, Davis was a believer and, says Foxx, "I knew I had performed in the right place for the right people at the right time."  True to the album’s title, Foxx points to a few songs on UNPREDICTABLE as the most surprising, and thus the ones he’s proudest of. "There’s a song called ‘I Wish You Were Here,’ about my grandmother," he says. "It’s a heavy, heavy song — we put it at the end of the album, because I want people to bump and grind and enjoy themselves before they get to that. That’s the one that measures your soul." The track "Til I Met Your Sister," he says, presents a new perspective on a slippery situation. "It’s about a guy having this infidelity with his girl’s sister," says Foxx, "but nobody ever has sung about that in a way where it’s not embarrassing, it’s not jokey, it’s really serious—like, we really did click and there’s no way I can fight it." So did he feel any pressure in following Ray? Was it hard to find the motivation to be creative after giving the performance of a lifetime? Foxx waves off such concerns. "If you go to the mountaintop," he says, "and you hit the very top, even if you go down a hundred feet, you’re still on that mountain, and you can still see a whole lot of things. We got a lot of things we passed up ‘cause we were on our way to the top. Now we’re gonna go down and maybe set up camp, have a barbecue down here, have a little party over there. That’s what we’re doing now. "We just didn’t let the curtain go down," says Jamie Foxx with a laugh. "We’re at the after party right now."

Overcast night (as in, few stars) at AMAs

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Sandy Cohen, Associated Press

(Nov. 23, 2005) LOS ANGELES - Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child had good reason to feel all alone at this year's
American Music Awards: She was one of the few big-name stars to win an award and actually show up to take it home.  "This feels very awkward being up here by myself," Rowland said as she accepted the favourite band trophy in the soul-R&B category for her now-defunct group. "I miss my girls." The group also won for soul-R&B album for Destiny Fulfilled.  Former members Michelle Williams and Beyonce Knowles were not the only ones to stay away from Tuesday's awards. Also missing were award winners Green Day, Kelly Clarkson and Black Eyed Peas who, like Destiny's Child, each won a leading two awards.  Crooner R. Kelly and rappers Eminem and 50 Cent also let others accept their honours.  Country made a good showing though. Not only did stalwart duo Brooks & Dunn and singer Tim McGraw each take home trophies, but Atlanta trio Sugarland was named the night's breakthrough new artist. McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts also contributed country numbers to the night's performances.  Mariah Carey sang the show's opening song, Don't Forget About Us, in an eye-catching silver, sequined, slit-to-the-waist gown.  She changed into a cleavage-baring black dress to claim the night's first prize, for favourite female artist in the soul-R&B category. Nominated a leading four times, the pop diva took home just the one trophy.  "I'm so glad Mariah won that award," Kix Brooks said as he presented the next category. "I need to see that dress again.''  The three-hour program was anchored by spirited performances from more than 20 artists, including a reunited Eurythmics and an inspired pairing of Cyndi Lauper and Sarah McLachlan for a soulful version of Lauper's 1980s hit Time After Time.

Singer and style maven Gwen Stefani landed onstage in a hot air balloon shaped like an ice cream cone for a duet with rapper Pharrell. She had hardly finished the song when it was announced she had won the favourite female pop artist award.  "What did I win?" asked Stefani who said she hadn't heard what award had just been announced. "I guess whatever I won, I just want to say thank you to the fans, especially all my girls.''  Missy Elliott, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, limped to the stage with the aid of a crutch to collect the favourite female artist award in the rap/hip-hop category. She dedicated the prize to singer Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001.  "This is a male-dominated world," Elliott said backstage later. "Females just gotta stand up and be strong and keep it going.''  Rapper 50 Cent's
The Massacre won the favourite rap/hip-hop album award, but he was edged out for favourite male hip-hop artist by Eminem and by Will Smith for favourite pop-rock performer.  The Black Eyed Peas crossed genres to take home favourite group honours in both the rap/hip-hop and pop-rock categories.  In the country category, McGraw was named favourite male artist and his record, Live Like You Were Dying, took favourite album honours. Gretchen Wilson won the favourite female artist award and Brooks & Dunn were chosen as favourite group.  Green Day took home top pop-rock album honours for their 14-month-old political manifesto, American Idiot. The trio also was named favourite alternative artist.

Clarkson won the favourite adult contemporary artist award, and fans chose her, via text message, for the special T-Mobile text-in award.  Colombian-born Shakira, who picked up the favourite Latin music artist award, praised the trend toward the presentation of more Spanish music on U.S. radio.  "America is a cross-cultural open country and music is a language on its own," she said.  Sister act Mary Mary, named favourite contemporary inspirational artist, treated a backstage audience to an a cappella sampling of their new material.  Nominees were chosen on the basis of record sales, with winners selected through a survey of about 20,000 listeners.  Comedian Cedric The Entertainer hosted the event, broadcast live on ABC from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.  Two more no-shows, sort of, were the Rolling Stones who nonetheless had the last word.  The band performed two songs via satellite from Salt Lake City, closing with
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It).

Winners at the 33rd annual American Music Awards:

• Pop-Rock:
Male artist:
Will Smith
Female artist:
Gwen Stefani
Band, duo or group: The Black Eyed Peas
Album: "American Idiot," Green Day
• Soul-R&B:
Male artist: R. Kelly
Female artist:
Mariah Carey
Band, duo or group: Destiny's Child
Album: "Destiny Fulfilled," Destiny's Child
• Country:
Male artist:
Tim McGraw
Female artist:
Gretchen Wilson
Band, duo or group: Brooks & Dunn
Album: "Live Like You Were Dying," Tim McGraw
• Rap/Hip-Hop:
Male artist: Eminem
Female artist: Missy Elliott
Band, duo or group: The Black Eyed Peas
Album: "The Massacre," 50 Cent
• Adult Contemporary:
Kelly Clarkson
• Latin Music:
Artist: Shakira
• Breakthrough:
New artist: Sugarland
T-Mobile Text-In Award (voted by public):
• Kelly Clarkson


Globetrotter/Marksman Bruce Cockburn Rediscovers Old Song

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill. Entertainment Columnist

(Nov. 20, 2005) I went to Baghdad for a vacation and I had a really good time," Bruce Cockburn says about his recent visit to the war-torn Iraqi capital.  "Sounds like a song title, something deeply ironic, doesn't it?" the legendary Canadian songwriter, guitarist, environmental and anti-war activist continues. "But it's the truth. I went there for a week with some American friends to check out Iraq under (American military) occupation. Admittedly it was the quietest week in Baghdad since the war started, but there was automatic weapons fire in the street one night outside the hotel where we were having dinner.  "Someone yelled out, `It's okay — just a wedding!'"  Dedicated to improving the human condition — Cockburn has been invited to take part in the opening ceremonies for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change Dec. 6 in Montreal — the songwriter is no stranger to gunfire.  It was during a similar fact-finding trip to Nicaragua in the 1980s that he was provoked to write his controversial hit "If I Had a Rocket Launcher." It's a powerful and vengeful rant against supposedly covert American military intervention in a civil struggle, and its devastating effects on impoverished and undefended bystanders. Bystanders, he says, like the ordinary Iraqis he met in Baghdad a few moths ago, who were "just trying to lead regular lives, get to work, get their kids to school, and doing their best to keep up their spirits while the bullets are flying all around them.  "You never see these kinds of stories on American television — or Canadian television, for that matter."  That trip to Nicaragua also inspired a decade-long fascination with guns, admits Cockburn, who's in the middle of a North American tour.  He taped a live performance Thursday for an upcoming Live at the Rehearsal Hall Bravo! series, and has solo concerts around — but not in — Toronto over the next two weeks, with material from his recently released CD Speechless, a collection of instrumental guitar compositions.  He's appearing at Markham Theatre tomorrow, Brock University's Centre for the Arts in St. Catharines on Wednesday, the Sanderson Centre in Brantford on Friday, the Oakville Centre next Saturday, the Kiwanis Theatre in Chatham Nov. 27 and Kitchener's Centre In The Square Nov. 28.

In contrast to the public perception of Cockburn as a hippie peacenik, he was a member of a suburban Toronto gun club during the 1980s and early '90s, a competitive marksman who racked up decent scores and earned the respect of his peers.  "I shot at bits of paper," he says. "I don't hunt. I deplore hunting for sport, though I have no problem with people hunting for food. I wasn't brought up with guns, but my grandfather hunted partridges and pheasants."  It all started, Cockburn explains, when a soldier in Nicaragua tossed over an unloaded weapon the singer had been admiring.  "I've always been ambivalent about guns," he explains. "I like the idea of knowing how they work, but I was scared of them. When I held that rifle for the first time, it felt pretty good."  His interest in target shooting abated in the mid-1990s, he says, though the memory of the destructive power of guns, rocket launchers and other weapons still remains.  "At the time I remember a feeling of outrage after reading in Soldier of Fortune magazine stories with people boasting about all the things Reagan was denying were happening in Nicaragua. There were RPGs — rocket-propelled grenade launchers — all around me. I was fascinated by them, and horrified when I learned what damage they could inflict. That's when I wrote `Rocket Launcher.'"  He stopped performing the song after 9/11, for fear it would be misunderstood in the rage of revenge that was sweeping the U.S., he says.  "I didn't want the song to be misinterpreted. I didn't want to play into the `Let's go get 'em' thing that was going on.  "But it's back in the repertoire now, because Americans seem to be more interested in what I have to say than they were the last time out. A couple of years ago they were demoralized and depressed, and a lot of my songs were too dark and politically pointed.  "Now they're pissed. They feel duped about the reasons for going to war. They've made a connection between Iraq — Iraqis aren't allowed to fix their own cities, and foreign contractors are getting all the money and work — and what's going on in New Orleans, where the millions for rebuilding the city after the hurricane are going to big, out-of-state operations, not to local businesses.  "Now it's all out in the open. Nothing remains concealed. And they're angry.  "Suddenly `Rocket Launcher' makes sense. "


Out Of Africa With Strings Attached

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Tony Montague

(Nov. 18, 2005) What's the most popular instrument in Africa? In rural areas the drum still rules, as it has for thousands of years. But in cities from Dakar
to Durban, the guitar is now king. Whether acoustic or electric, the six-stringed axe has adapted itself to a huge range of styles, and introduced African artists to blues, rock, pop, jazz and Latin music. The musical hybrids that emerged, like Congolese soukous and the desert blues of Mali, have in turn influenced Western artists such as Sting, Peter Gabriel and Carlos Santana. And the criss-crossing over the Atlantic continues. Spearheading the latest phase of this exchange are African guitarists who, for reasons economic or political, emigrated to Europe and, increasingly, to Canada. Last year, CBC producer Todd Fraracci invited six masters to Toronto for a special collaborative project. Each of them -- Vancouver's Alpha Yaya Diallo (originally from Guinea), Mighty Popo (Rwanda, Burundi), Pa Joe (Ghana), Adam Solomon (Kenya), Madagascar Slim and Donné Robert (Madagascar) -- brought a couple of his own songs to the African Guitar Summit, which takes place tomorrow at the Chan. We spent three days getting to know each other and working on arrangements," says Popo, who lives in Ottawa. "Sometimes we played all together, with interlocking guitars and people taking solos -- as on my song Mwembo. Sometimes we were in smaller groupings. For Urwibutso, a song for friends and relatives killed during the genocide in Rwanda, there's just me and Alpha." The guitarists gave a concert at CBC's Glenn Gould Studio, then spent another three days recording African Guitar Summit -- Juno-winner for best world-music album earlier this year. "It was an amazing experience to discover how much we shared. The blues was certainly a common ground," says Popo.

Most of Popo's family, like many Rwandans, moved to neighbouring Burundi in the sixties. The first guitarist he heard was his uncle Mwembo playing Congolese-style rumba every evening in the courtyard with his friends. "But when I started to play myself it was the blues that really drew me. The sound is very similar to music played on the inanga, a kind of harp or lyre traditional to Burundi and Rwanda." Popo listened to blues on the radio and the few albums circulating among his guitar-playing pals. But a rare visit by two black Americans, Taj Mahal and Memphis Slim, really lit the fire in his fingers. "I was just 12 and remember it really well. An inanga player performed for them -- and Memphis Slim cried when he heard him. That's when I decided I wanted to be a bluesman." Popo's development was also shaped by a lack of guitars -- and of proper strings. "To date there still is nowhere in Burundi you can buy strings. So people made 'guitars' from anything that resonated -- steel oil cans with motorbike or scooter cables as strings were particular favourites. For several years I played on a guitar with just the lower three strings. That way I learned all the bass lines of songs. I remember the pleasure of playing a six-string for the first time on a regular basis when I moved here." Since then Popo has focused increasingly on the inanga music of his Central African homeland, reinterpreting it for electric and acoustic axe. "It's typical of a process all the other guitarists of African Guitar Summit have gone through," he says. "In Africa you're drawn to Western sounds because they're the latest thing, and in Canada you want to explore your own traditional music and adapt it for a new time and place. So it travels, and brings in new players, and grows." The African Guitar Summit takes place tomorrow night at 8, at the Chan Centre, 6562 Crescent Rd., 604-280-3311.


Public Rejecting Copy-Protected CDs: Retailers

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Angela Pacienza, Canadian Press

(Nov. 20, 2005) It's becoming a regular occurrence in CD shops across the country: an irate customer comes in complaining the CD they bought won't play on their computer, and worse yet, they can't transfer the tunes to their IPod.  The culprit is copy-protected or copy-controlled CDs — something many Canadian music retailers say they would like to see pulled from store shelves.  "This is just another really, really ridiculous way of telling our customers, `We don't want your business,' " said Tim Baker of Sunrise Records, which has 31 shops in southern Ontario.  "It's so stupid."  The issue was underscored last week with news that the anti-piracy technology used on about 50 Sony BMG titles released in the United States and 37 in Canada secretly left spyware behind on people's computers.  The software — developed as a way to fight music piracy — made the machines susceptible to viruses and hackers. And trying to remove the software disabled CD drives.  Needless to say, the technology irked consumers. Thousands flocked to the web to vent, using blogs and online petitions to encourage people to boycott Sony products altogether.  "There's still plenty of work to be done if we are to achieve our goal of being treated like the music lovers we are rather than the criminals that (Sony) assumes us to be," read one posting on  Sony BMG said Friday that about 120,000 of the 4.7 million faulty CDs were sold in Canada.

They are not the only company to issue copy-protected CDs in Canada.  EMI has been releasing select albums — including the latest Nickelback album,
All The Right Reasons — this way for about three years. The company intends to ship out all its releases with the technology by year's end.  The EMI discs use different software than Sony BMG, and have yet to cause any computer troubles.  Labels say they need the technology in order to stop people from sharing music with those who haven't paid for it.  Still, retailers say such technology is punishing those who are actually willing to fork over cash for music — an ever-dwindling group as it is.  "Consumers are not liking it," says Leslie Purchase, assistant manager at CD Plus in the Halifax Shopping Centre. "People are getting very frustrated by (copy-protected CDs)."  She's noticed an increase in customers who put CDs down after noticing the "copy-controlled" or "copy-protected" label.  "A lot of customers won't buy them now. They say `I don't want it'," she said.  The copy controls are possible through digital rights management technology, or DRM. It lets labels restrict the number of times a CD can be shared — meaning burned or copied.  More controversial is the ability to control which programs consumers can use to playback their music. With EMI and Sony BMG discs, for instance, the music is compatible only with Windows Media Player but not with ITunes (for PC users).  That means people with IPods can't add the newly purchased CD to their playlists without some complicated steps.

CDs with this technology are marked with a warning on the back, usually in a black box.  EMI and Sony openly admit its copy protection measures have upset and annoyed some of its music fans — specifically IPod users. They've even provided websites outlining ways to override the controls, and respectively, in order to get the songs on IPod players.  Complaints even trickled down to the actual musicians, who subsequently posted ways to circumvent the protection measures on their own websites. Bands include Dave Matthews and the Foo Fighters.  The grumbling doesn't come as a surprise, says Terry Millar, director of manufacturing at EMI Canada.  "People have had the freedom to give 10 friends a copy of a disc. For anybody that's used to doing that, all of a sudden they're limited," he said.  "We're going to get complaints. We know that people are used to a certain thing. The thing about it is that it's not the right thing to be doing."  He expects other labels, like Universal and Warner, will eventually follow with similar technology.  But at least one label says it's vehemently opposed to the content protection practice saying it unfairly punishes the music buying public.  "It's backwards thinking. It's protectionism," said Terri McBride, president of Vancouver-based Nettwerk, whose roster includes the Be Good Tanyas. "The average consumer who's not tech-savvy is going to buy the CD, thinking that they can load it onto their IPod . . . They're going to be royally pissed off."  He added: "Why do you want to piss off the people who buy?"


Stones-Struck Teacher A Class Hero

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

(Nov. 22, 2005) It isn't every high school music teacher who can summon the undivided attention of his class by reciting a private conversation with
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. But then, Norman McIntosh is not just any high school music teacher.  McIntosh, a staff member at Confederation Secondary School in Val Caron, Ont., is the first recipient of the MusiCan Teacher of the Year Award, a prize administered by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and bankrolled for its first year by the Rolling Stones. The winner receives a statuette hand-crafted by Shirley Elford, designer of the Juno Award, $10,000 cash, another $10,000 for his school's music program and an all-expenses paid trip to next year's Junos in Halifax.  The official announcement won't be made until later today, but McIntosh has known about the honour for a couple of months. It was why he met backstage with the Stones during the band's Sept. 26 concert at Rogers Centre.  "They congratulated me on the award," said McIntosh yesterday on the phone from Val Caron, 19 kilometres north of Sudbury. "I shook hands with all of them. They were very genuine.  "Keith put his arm around me and said, `I'm still learning about music every day.'"  McIntosh used the anecdote to motivate his students, without entirely explaining the circumstances: "I just said, `Bob Ezrin invited us down for the concert and guess what happened? I met the Stones.'  "They were all completely awestruck that their music teacher had met the greatest band in the world. They wanted to hear every little detail."  The Toronto-bred Ezrin, a Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee who has produced albums by Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel and Kiss, is on the committee for MusiCan, the CARAS initiative that administers the prize. He used his long-time friendship with Stones tour manager Michael Cohl, another Toronto native, to bring the band on board.

Since 1997 CARAS has donated more than $1 million to school music programs across the country, mostly through Band Aid, which awards grants of $10,000 to schools for instruments.  "If you go to the Band Aid presentations and listen to the artists talk about what inspired them, there is always a story about a spectacular music teacher," said CARAS president Melanie Berry. "The award grew out of that."  McIntosh, 51, has taught for 26 years. In addition to his regular classroom duties, he runs an after-school credit program involving a 24-piece rock band, including a 14-strong horn section, and a 16-member stage crew. The band rehearses from October to March and then performs 12 to 14 shows at schools in the region from March until June.  "The fact that the program happens to be a rock program might be a bit controversial, but it shouldn't be," said Ezrin. "Under Norm's direction, the kids have to create a whole performance, from the choreography to the lighting. And they have to run it as a business. These are phenomenal life skills they are learning.  "There are thousands of great teachers. We tried to pick the person we felt most exemplified them as a group. We picked Norm for his dedication, his resourcefulness, his passion, his commitment and for going way above and beyond the call of duty for more than 25 years."  The Confederation Secondary School repertoire includes songs by heavyweights U2 and the Rolling Stones, as well as Canadian upstarts The Trews, all chosen and arranged by McIntosh.  "I decide what is going to be played," he said. "I tried letting the kids choose and I got 20,000 suggestions."  McIntosh, who will fly to Toronto today to receive the award, said his wife and three children have already decided how to spend his $10,000. And the school's share?  "The money will definitely be used for upgrading the equipment, so that many kids — for many years to come — can benefit."


'Still In Love' Hits Urban Radio In The Heart

Source: Trevor Rasmussen, Solters & Digney PR ,

 (Los Angeles, CA.) ----- The next urban queen is arriving.
Tyra's "Still in Love" followed Ludacris' "Georgia" as the #2 added title at Urban Radio this week with 38 stations in all the major markets picking it up.  The new single (her third) is getting high scores in markets across the country and being touted by DJs and PDs as one of the Holiday's hottest picks.

Hear it here.   

Written by Tyra herself, "Still in Love," is a heartfelt ballad, showing us the softer side of this dynamic artist. The song is about a young woman who gets caught cheating. Despite her attempts to make up for it and the true intentions of her heart, nothing will ever be the same.  Tyra comments, "Everybody makes mistakes. It's just sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there's just nothing you can do to make up for them. You just gotta live and learn." Tyra's star began to rise early in 2005 as her first single "Country Boy," shot up the radio charts (peaked at 16 on the Billboard Urban chart) and became a fixture on video countdowns like BET's 106 & Park Top 10 Countdown.  After opening for Destiny's Child alongside Amerie and Mario on DC's final tour her second single, "Get No Ooh Wee," stayed on the Billboard Urban Chart for over 16 weeks.  A talented singer, dancer, and songwriter, Tyra's resume has superstar written all over it. Called the "next big star" by the Beyonce herself, it's the way she handles herself, both onstage and off, in front of a camera or walking down the street of her hometown of Petersburg, VA that you get a feeling this young entertainer has something special. Her upcoming album is called "Introducing Tyra 'The Entertainer' B." and is slated for release February 14th on GG&L Music/Universal/Motown.  Tyra's professional career began in elementary school.  By 4th grade she was writing her own songs and at the tender age of nine started the group Kra'ze that eventually opened for acts like Immature and the O'Jay's.

Her love of singing and performing ultimately led her to Danger Mowf, the producer behind her breakout single, "Country Boy." Tyra signed a deal with GG & L Music in late 2004 and things have been moving quickly ever since. Tyra's debut highlights her writing skills and the raw emotional honesty and pure power of her voice, evoking the spirit of a young Mary J. Blige or Alicia Keys.   Album cuts like "U Got The Goods," a haunting mid-tempo cut flow with an adolescent earnestness while the funky "Country Boy" remix featuring Chingy and Trillville is sure-fire car-stereo blasting, dance-floor rocking jams.   "Most of my songs come from personal experience," she says.  And though her songs are interlaced with mature themes, her music is always mindful of her youngest, most impressionable fans. "I always keep my lyrics clean," she adds. 



Hallelujah! Cohen in Songwriters Hall of Fame

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 17, 2005) Legendary Canadian composers and poets Leonard Cohen and Gilles Vigneault are among five new inductees in the 2006 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame's third annual gala, to be staged Feb. 5 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre's John Bassett Theatre.  Canadian ragtime composer William Eckstein, big-band leader Carmen Lombardo, and classical composer and lyricist Lionel Daunais will also be inducted at the ceremony, which will honour jazz singer Lucille Dumont, Canada's songbird Anne Murray and Canadian recording industry pioneer Herbert Berliner for their contributions to — and support of — the Canadian songwriting industry.  Among 26 songs also being inducted into the hall of fame this year are the traditional folk ballad "Farewell to Nova Scotia"; The Stampeders hit "Sweet City Woman," written by Rich Dodson; Andy Kim's "Sugar, Sugar"; "A Québec au clair de lune" by Marius Delisle; Gene MacLellan's country gospel classic "Put Your Hand in the Hand"; Lombardo's "Sweethearts on Parade" and "Boo Hoo"; and Cohen's "Bird on the Wire," "Suzanne," "Ain't No Cure for Love," "Hallelujah" and "Everybody Knows."  The gala will air on CBC Radio One Feb. 6 at 11 a.m. and on CBC Radio Two and Radio-Canada at 8 p.m.

Tanto Metro And Devonte's New Album Musically Inclined Drops In January 2006

Excerpt from -
By Kevin Jackson

(Nov. 17, 2005) Dancehall's dynamic duo, Tanto Metro and Devonte will release their new album Musically Inclined via VP Records in January next year. The set features some already familiar material as well as new tracks with producers including Tony 'CD' Kelly, Christopher 'Longman' Birch, Robert Livingston (of Big Yard Productions), Troyton Rami (of Black Shadow) and Richard 'Richie D' Martin. The duo has stepped up the game on this upcoming disc with primed tracks including In There and Sexy Lady. The radio hit single I've Got News For You produced by Ryan Leslie, a Bad Boy Entertainment affiliate, has been making moves on the video channels. Having scored hits as solo acts and as a duo, Tanto Metro and Devonte are credited for the success of two of the biggest reggae/dancehall records on the Billboard pop and R&B charts. The songs Give It To Her and Everyone Falls In Love effectively propelled the duo to international status. Musically Inclined is the group's third release on VP Records. Collaborations with artistes on the album include Morgan Heritage on the upbeat Time To Party, Courtney Melody on Cross The Boarder and Lady Ru on The Only One. Also included in the set are the dancehall favourites Hey Girl and Burn. In an interview with this column, Devonte said: "We are trying to get across to the people that we are still there and still making good music. The album is blending all sorts of music, it shows our versatility and during the recording process, the vibe in the studio was good. It took a while to put together as all our energy was focused and we put a lot of work into the album. It is a healthy mix of singles and tracks recorded specifically for the album."

Warren G “In Case Some Sh$# Go Down”

Source: MVD Inc.

(Oct. 7, 2005) New York— Legendary hip-hop artist/producer Warren G is back to re-introduce the world to the “G Funk Era” with his fifth studio album,
and first release in four years entitled “In The Mid-Nite Hour.” The West Coast meets the South with the current single making its way up the charts “In Case Some Sh$# Go Down,” featuring Mike Jones. The nostalgic flow of Warren G and the screwed-up hook by Mike Jones over the smooth feel of the track has all the makings of a future classic. The release date of “In The Mid-Nite Hour is October 11th, 2005. The “G-Funk Regulator” has returned.

New R&B Sensation Na'sha's Music To Be Featured In 'In The Mix'

Source: Ben-David Fenwick,

(Nov. 21, 2005) MIAMI, FL -- Music from up-and-coming R&B sensation Na'sha (pronounced Nay-sha) will be featured in Lion's Gate film In The
Mix.  She has contributed two songs - "Fire" and "Saturday" - for the romantic comedy that features Usher in his first starring role.  The movie bows nationally this Wednesday, November 23. Blending R&B, hip hop and outright soul, Na'sha is turning heads with her September 20th debut release My Story on Miami-based Pure Records.  The fifteen-track ride, 14 of which were penned by Na'sha, is called "stunning- a seamless assimilation of 30 years of pop, R&B, gospel & soul," by the Miami New Times. My Story brings out a cast of all-star talent. The album is produced by an array of hitmakers including Grammy Award winners Scott Storch (Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Terror Squad) & James Poyser (Common, Jill Scott, Leela James), Sting International (Shaggy) and R&G Productions.   Na'sha is joined by Shaggy on the sexy track "What U Waiting 4" and features Cash Money alum B.G. on "No Good." The lead track "Get To Go Home" was co-written with newcomer Ne-Yo.   Na'sha made her national television debut with Shaggy on The Tonight Show on September 23rd filling in for Olivia on Shaggy's latest single "Wild 2Nite."

The Emotions & Chi-Lites Headline 25th Annual Chicago Music Awards

Source: ACM PR: A.C. McLean, TEL: (312) 373 1778,,

(Nov. 21, 2005) CHICAGO, IL – Celebrating 25 years of total commitment to Chicago area artists like no other organization, Ephraim Martin, executive
producer of the 25th Annual Chicago Music Awards announces headliners The Emotions and Chi-lites of this year’s historic event. They will top a host of other performers including Willie Rogers of the Soul Stirrers, the Sudakial Family, Adero Neely, Redstorm and Carl Brown amongst others on December 10, 2005 at the Museum of Science and Industry. This year’s Awards will be dedicated to over 80 years of Gospel Music. The 25th Annual Chicago Music Awards will also present Special Awards of Honour to those who have made exceptional contributions to the music industry. They are V-103’s Ramonski Luv, Listen Here Radio’s Neil Tesser, The Illinois Entertainer, Mama Curtis, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the Creative Arts Foundation. “For 25 years, the Chicago Music Awards have recognized home-grown talent,” Mr. Martin commented. “The main objective of the Awards celebration is to give recognition to Chicago musical artists.” This year’s gala event will be held on Saturday December 10, 2005 at the Museum of Science & Industry, 57th Street & South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL. VIP pre-show reception is 7:00PM and the Awards ceremony begins 8:00PM. Tickets are $49 general admission; $75 [$125 per couple] for VIP tickets (includes reception with special guests); Groups of 25 or more and adults 25 and under pay $25 in recognition of the 25th year anniversary. Tickets are available at [] and at all Ticketmaster outlets.  Call (312) 559-1212.  For general information, call Martin's Inter-Culture: (312) 427-0266, email:, or visit

Tom Green Gets Back To His Rap Roots

Source:  Canadian Press

(Nov. 22, 2005)  VANCOUVER—Tom Green's cellphone number is 310-717-1919. Call him, and he'll tell you about his special passion for rapping
about naked ladies.  This, he says, was his true calling long before he became a famous shock comedian on MTV.  At a quiet Vancouver restaurant he showed elderly diners exactly how much he loves to rap, cranking up beats on his boom box and singing a song about Hooters off his new album.  Grey heads craned over their scrambled eggs trying to figure out what was going on as Green shouted: "I like naked ladies! I like making babies! I want to make them with girls all around the world! I like to go to Hooters."  Green has a background in rap with Organized Rhyme, the trio he started at Colonel By High School in Ottawa. They were nominated for a 1993 Juno.  His new album, Prepare for Impact, has an old-school sound. Green uses DJ EZ Mike, the producer behind the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique.  Green says the most serious song on the record is "My Bum Is on Your Lips," based on a song he did on MTV.  Later, rapper Eminem talked about the ``Bum Bum'' song in one of his mixes, and took the gag further, saying "My bum is on your lips." For his new album, Green turned that line into a song.  Green will be playing dates across Canada starting in January. They have not yet been announced. The album comes out Dec. 6.

Laurels For Canadian Songwriters

Source: Canadian Press

(Nov. 22, 2005) Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and Trooper's "Pretty Lady" were among five oldies added yesterday to the list of homegrown classics by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada.  Jann Arden's "Insensitive," Paul Carrack's "Don't Shed a Tear" and Nick Gilder's "Hot Child in the City" were other tracks that passed the 100,000-airplay mark on domestic radio.  Benatar's 1980s hit was penned by Toronto's Eddie Schwartz. The singer once gave him credit of sorts in an interview with Songwriter magazine.  "One night — you know sometimes you announce people's names, this is by so-and-so? — when I said Eddie Schwartz, I swear to God, the room (of) about 1,500 people just went dead silence, like `Eddie Schwartz?' I really don't know much about him, I know we met him one time in Canada." Benatar's producer added, "He's Canadian and he's very short. He was nice."  Socan also cited new songs which dominated radio last year. They included Nelly Furtado's "Powerless" and "Try," Sarah McLachlan's "Fallen" and "Stupid," Sarah Harmer's "Almost," k-os's "Crabbuckit" and Emerson Drive's "Waitin' on Me."  The songwriters were to receive trophies at a gala last night.




Rent Gets Its Due

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Nov. 20, 2005) NEW YORK Rosario Dawson slinks down a flight of stairs in a subterranean East Village dive called The Cat Scratch Club.  Her hips
swivel with the promise of unlimited good times, but the druggy fog behind her eyes hints at how much it's going to cost.  She holds out her arms, inviting the crowd of leering men to join her in a place "where all the scars from the nevers and maybes die."  Rent has finally made it to the silver screen.  But for the hit musical that took the basic plot of La BohŹme, added a driving rock score and moved it to Manhattan's Alphabet City, it's been a long time coming.  How long?  "525,600 minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?" ask the cast in the song "Seasons of Love." Multiply that by 10 and you'd come pretty close.  At long last, as tourists line up outside the plush Ritz Carlton Hotel to see the Statue of Liberty, the press are converging inside on the creative team of Rent, the movie.  "It's been an incredible journey," says Julie Larson. She's the sister of Jonathan Larson, who wrote the book, music and lyrics of Rent.  She's speaking for her brother, because he died before his show could be turned into a film. In fact, he died before he ever saw it played in its final form.  That's one of the major items that has helped turn a successful show into a cult, a myth, a touchstone for a generation of young theatregoers. Not among their number, at first, was Rosario Dawson.  "I was a teenager when it first came out and I heard all the buzz. But I thought, `Why do I have to see this? I've been living it,'" she says now.  "I grew up in a squat on the Lower East Side with no running water or electricity. We had an extension cord that went from the building across the courtyard for the one refrigerator that we had for the entire building."

But Dawson came around. She's joined a cast remarkable not for its big names, but for the fact that six of the eight leading roles are being played by the actors who created the parts nearly a decade earlier.  Rent's arrival on the big screen, then, is no less emotional for the actors than for the show's horde of ardent fans.  Cast member Anthony Rapp, who plays the Larson surrogate, Mark, recalls that "Jonathan used to come up to people and introduce himself as the future of the American musical theatre."  It took a great deal of determination to feel that way because Larson went through nearly a decade after graduating from college before things started to move at all for him.  There was the usual mix of workshops, small productions and grants that struggling authors cling to while slogging away at their day jobs.  Larson earned his living as a waiter at a stylized little diner called Moondance at the base of Sixth Ave. while subsisting on a diet of shredded wheat and pasta in an apartment where the bathtub was in the kitchen.  The idea for Rent started percolating in 1989, which is the reason director Chris Columbus decided to set the film then, rather than in 1996, when it opened.  Originally conceived as a yuppie take on La BohŹme, Larson decided to move the show way down the economic scale and write about the addicts, hustlers, transvestites and loners who lived in that chunk of the Lower East Side where streets with names like Avenue A had led to the designation "Alphabet City."  His Mimi didn't have tuberculosis, as per Puccini, but AIDS. And her recovering addict lover Roger (instead of Rudolfo) is HIV-positive, as well. Larson added same-sex couples of both genders and set it to a sound that married genuine rock with the musical theatre tradition.  Everyone who heard it in progress thought it had promise, but it still took Larson five years to get a showcase at the N.Y. Theater Workshop.  That mounting attracted sufficient buzz to generate a full production, slated to start previews on January 25, 1996.  The night before, there was a dress rehearsal that went like a dream.  "We really knew we had something," recalls Idina Menzel, who plays the bisexual performance artist Maureen, "but we didn't quite know just how big it was."  Word had spread uptown and in the audience that evening was a reporter from the New York Times who wanted to speak to Larson.

Taye Diggs, who plays the upwardly mobile Benny, can still remember that night.  "Jonathan was crowded around by scores of people, all of them wanting a piece of him. You had a sense in the air of something happening. I wanted to talk to him, but as I started over, the guy from the Times got to him first. I said to myself, `That's okay, I'll do it tomorrow.'"  But he never did. Larson had been feeling poorly for a few weeks and had paid visits to several emergency rooms.  In the early hours of the morning after that triumphant rehearsal, Larson went home, made himself a cup of tea and collapsed on the floor of his apartment. He died of an aortic aneurysm at age 35.  "The next day, they phoned us and asked us to all come down to the theatre ..." Diggs starts, but he can't continue. Even after all this time, the memory hurts too much.  Jesse L. Martin played the burly, lovable Collins who winds up in a doomed love affair with the transvestite Angel. Back then he was an unknown actor; now everybody recognizes Det. Ed Green from Law & Order.  He tries to explain what the next few months were like.  "We were dealing with a whole lot of heaven and a whole lot of hell.  "After Jonathan's death, it became the most important thing in the world to see that what he wrote got out to the people."  By the time the show officially opened to the public on Feb. 13, it was already the media event of the winter. The rave reviews made sure that an immediate transfer to Broadway was in order.  The date was set for April 29; before it could happen, the Pulitzer Prize committee posthumously gave the award for drama to Jonathan Larson.  Rent was everywhere that year. It won most of the major Tony Awards, generated an amazing advance sale and created a crowd of fanatical fans called Rentheads who lined up for rush seats to every performance.  One of them was Tracie Thomas. She's now one of the new cast members, playing the lesbian lawyer Joanne, but back then she was just a fan.  "From the moment I saw the original cast, it became my mission in life to be a part of Rent in any way, whether it was on tour or playing the 14th homeless woman in the ensemble on Broadway, I didn't care."  Eventually even Rosario Dawson was won over. "When I finally saw Rent, I was grateful, because it gave me the articulation to look back on my life and where it could have gone. I love Mimi, but I'm glad I'm not Mimi."

Rent spawned numerous successful satellite productions while continuing to sell out on Broadway and obviously a property this hot had to make its way to Hollywood, but there were many problems.  The first was the Larson family. As administrators of Jonathan's estate, they were hesitant about what might happen to his work in being translated to the screen.  "It was a big discussion among our family whether we would allow the whole idea of a movie to be made," admits Julie Larson.  "We realized that a lot more people would be able to hear Jonathan's music. We also finally realized what would have kept us from going ahead would have been fear. And so much of what Rent is about is not choosing fear."  Once they agreed there was still the question of who would direct and who would star.  Spike Lee was initially tapped to direct. He interviewed the original cast but then announced he wasn't going to use them, preferring instead to sign the likes of Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera.  Soon, Lee was gone and the project was put into turnaround. Then, a surprising fan came to its rescue.  Chris Columbus is best known as the director of family-friendly flicks like Home Alone and the first two Harry Potter films, but he had been a Renthead from the start.  "I've lived in Manhattan for 17 years. I've lived in a loft. I knew these people and I loved the show."  Like Lee, he wanted to bring the original cast together because "these people had lived through Jonathan's death and were connected in a very strong way."  But once burned, twice shy. "Tell Chris Columbus he doesn't have to waste my time in a f--king pity meeting," is how Menzel recalls her initial reaction to what she saw as a repeat of Lee's condescension.  Columbus prevailed. Only two original cast members are not in the movie: Daphne Rubin-Vega, because she was pregnant, and Fredi Walker because, in her opinion, she is now too old for the role.  So Rent is finally a film. But will it still work for audiences nearly 10 years after its first production?  Columbus feels it needs to because "we as a country have taken a huge step backwards since the play was written. We've become more isolated, more defensive and we need to shake people up a little bit."  Which is precisely what Jonathan Larson wanted to do all along.


Montreal, Not L.A., Beckoned Josh Star: Gave Up CSI For Canadian Series

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Tabassum Siddiqui, Toronto Star

(Nov. 18, 2005) As the Gemini Awards gala honouring the best in Canadian
television news, sports and documentaries got under way last night at Exhibition Place, David Julian Hirsh was probably the most excited guy in the room.  Hirsh, better known for playing the titular character in Showcase's TV series Naked Josh, wasn't nominated for his acting, but for producing Camp Hollywood, a quirky little documentary about Canadian actors who go down to L.A. for pilot season and take up residence in the seedy Highland Gardens hotel while they make the audition rounds, hoping to land the show that'll give them their big break.  Hirsh himself was the film's most compelling character, fretting over auditions and wondering if he'd ever find the right show. Sure, he'd already done two seasons of Naked Josh by that point, but a limited-run Canadian series doesn't cut it in Tinseltown. And the pilots he had landed, including Crazy, a much buzzed-about UPN series with Lara Flynn Boyle, never made it to air.  And then, he got the break that every TV actor dreams of: a recurring role on the hit series CSI: New York, playing lab technician Zack Shannon. CSI's producers liked what they saw, and offered Hirsh, 32, a regular gig on the show. And much to the amazement of everyone around him, he turned it down.  "They actually wanted me for every episode of the season, but I said, `I've got to go back to Canada to do this show Naked Josh.' One of the producers said, `You're making a really big career mistake.' (CSINY star) Gary Sinise was in the room, and said, `Hold on, he's going to do a show with his (character's) name in the title,' but the producer said, `You're going to Canada? To do a show called ... Naked Josh? Think about that for a minute,'" Hirsh says, laughing over the line from Montreal, where he's filming the third season of Naked Josh.  How's that for irony: a guy who made a movie about trying to make it in Hollywood gives up the brass ring because he wants to stay in snowy Montreal? What was he thinking?

"Everyone was like, `Are you f--king nuts?' It is kinda crazy, because 14 million people watch CSI, and not quite that many people watch Naked Josh," Hirsh says. "You know, it sounds trite, but when you look back on your life, it's going to be the things you truly loved doing. CSI was good, but that would be me chasing the carrot and not following my heart." "David is a guy who reacts as much from his gut as his head," says Toronto entertainment lawyer Michael Levine, Hirsh's longtime friend and mentor, pointing out that the actor dropped out of the University of Toronto one credit shy of a degree in criminology when he decided to get into showbiz.  "The people in L.A. thought he was insane, obviously. In America, it's a business, whereas in Canada there is a cultural imperative," Levine says.  Hirsh had become dismayed that so much Canadian talent had to go south in order to get noticed. Camp Hollywood was his response. It started out as a video diary, when he and pal Steve Markle (who directed the film) realized that documenting the young talent staying at their hotel was more interesting than any of the scripts they'd been reading.  "I had to go down there to come back and make a show in my hometown," he says, referring to the fact that he only got the Josh job after moving to L.A.  "What I find upsetting is that someone like Rachel McAdams, who was in my acting class a few years ago, or other Canadian actors who are all over American TV these days — Sandra Oh, Kari Machett — these people are here; there's no reason we can't build shows around these people and export (those shows) to the States. We don't have to copy the Americans and make lawyer shows and cop shows — we can tell other stories."  He hopes to expand on the tales told in Camp Hollywood by turning it into a fictionalized series; he and Markle plan to shoot a pilot for the series sometime this year, and Canuck comedic icon Dave Thomas has come on board as a producer.  During his time off from Naked Josh, Hirsh still does the audition dance in L.A., where he keeps an apartment (his landlord is Adam Brody, Seth from The O.C.). He's not ruling out taking on a U.S. series in the future, but only on the condition that they give him time off to shoot Naked Josh. And even the door to CSI might have been left ajar: there's the possibility he might do a few more episodes of the show this season.

He's been telling everyone in L.A. about the Gemini nomination, except that down there he has to call it the "Canadian Emmy." Heck, even most Canadians don't know what the Geminis are (the TV gala airs tomorrow on Global at 8 p.m.).  "We need to make the Geminis sexy, we have to. We're modest as Canadians, but we have to let that go. We don't always have to be so earnest and sincere. It's sweet, but we shouldn't be afraid of success," Hirsh says.  "The nomination was a total shock, but it's truly one of the greatest feelings since I've become an actor, to work on my own project. I've written out my speech, so I have to win. Maybe even if I don't win, I'll deliver it. Let them deal with it, because I have some really important things I need to get off my chest and people to thank," he says.  Luckily Hirsh didn't have to cause a scene at the awards dinner: last night, he and Markle took home the Gemini for Best Performing Arts Documentary.


Usher Mixes Business With Pleasure

Excerpt from

(Nov. 18, 2005) *Usher Raymond IV’s film “In the Mix” arrives in theatres Wednesday hoping to capture some of that long holiday weekend money,
and without all of the controversy and picket signs that accompanied his hip hop colleague’s entrance into multiplexes last weekend. In fact, Usher says it was no accident that his flick is about as clean as a PG-13-rated movie can be.   “One thing I must say, being mindful of the entire demographic that I cater to as an artist - I considered that with this film,” the actor told us this past Monday in Los Angeles.  “Through the writing, through the screenplay, all of the above, I was very conscious about that. So, this is the type of film that you can take your kids to.” But not so fast.  Part of that PG-13 was for sexual content, something fans of Usher’s music are certainly familiar with. While his “Confessions” album was the biggest event of 2004 until the Asian tsunami hit in December, the set’s lyrics always left a little to the imagination, to the eternal gratitude of parents.  The same could be said for the romantic scenes with his “In the Mix” co-star Emmanuelle Chriqui.   “It remained very classy,” he said of their characters’ intimate encounters. “It’s not too vulgar, although there is a love scene, it’s still appropriate.” Usher diehards will tell you that this is not the first film to feature the 27-year-old Atlanta-based phenom.  

“I caught the acting bug a few years ago,” he said. “I’ve been in a collection
of about five movies, but this one tops them all. This is the first time I’ve ever taken that lead.” After small supporting roles in "The Faculty," "She's All That" and "Texas Rangers," the kid finally steps into the limelight in “Mix” as Darrell, a New York nightclub DJ who saves the life of a mob boss, played by Chazz Palminteri. As a thank you, he hires Darrell as a bodyguard for his daughter Dolly (Chriqui). The two soon find themselves smitten with each other, to the dismay and disgust of her daddy.  “In this film, there’s a little bit of something for everybody,” says Usher. “The drama, the suspense, the relationship and us keeping it a secret; the tension that goes on between the mafia and their struggle for power, the racial tension between Italians and blacks in the film – there’s not a lot of it but my character does experience some of it.” In between selling folks on the film, Usher has been busy juggling the numerous ventures on his crowded plate.  This year, he became part-owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. He served as an executive producer on both the “In the Mix” film and its soundtrack, finding the latter experience of having to deal with other artists for the first time, “uncomfortable.”   “All those times that I decided to be difficult as an artist, I guess karma caught me,” he laughed.  Usher also has his new US Records label to run, new artists to cultivate, and a fashion line to help design.  This busy schedule was blamed, albeit indirectly, for his inability to sign onto the forthcoming film adaptation of “Dreamgirls.” 

When asked if the rumours were true about his one-time attachment to the project, he would only answer:  “There’s been a lot of films that I’ve been considered for. There’s been a lot of films I’ve had to walk away from because of scheduling. It’s very hard to balance being somewhat of a renaissance man. You’ve got basketball, the new label coming, the soundtrack, the movie, you got your next album, then you got your life, the clothing line, all of the above. So it’s kind of hard to balance it all. And if it doesn’t perfectly fit into my schedule like a puzzle, you might have to pass up on it.”   “In the Mix,” however, was a project that fit flawlessly into Usher’s master plan. His popularity, combined with the film’s PG-13 appeal is something he  hopes will give the picture legs through the middle of next year.   “That’s part of the reason I associated myself with this film as an executive producer, because I really felt like this is the type of film [could last from] Thanksgiving all the way through Christmas and through the DVD release,” he said. “This is the type of film that everyone would wanna be associated with.”


The Pursuit Continues

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

(Nov. 22, 2005) The recent, international success of such Canadian indie acts as the Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and Leslie Feist does indeed mark a pivotal point in the development of the country's music scene, but we've watched underground bands turn into unlikely rock stars before.  Of these, The Pursuit of Happiness — which surged to radio and video omnipresence on both sides of the border during the mid-1980s after its self-released single "I'm an Adult Now" bullied its way on to playlists at MuchMusic, Q107 and CFNY — stands as one of the most fondly remembered. At least by the frustratingly modest number of rock fans who remember the group.  Making a bid to rectify this rather shameful historical oversight is Capitol/EMI's new compilation, When We Ruled: The Best of The Pursuit of Happiness, arriving in stores today on the eve of the quintet's first tour in five years. And nobody is happier about the situation than TPOH's erudite (if once eternally sexually frustrated) songwriter, front man and guitarist, Moe Berg.  "I don't think anybody wants this more than I do," laughs Berg over a pint in one of his regular Bloor St. haunts. "People ask me, `Is this for your fans?' But, no, it's kind of for me. I want there to be this sort of legacy item: this is what it's all about, this is what we did, so I don't feel like it was all for nothing.  "We might be the only band in the world that doesn't have a `best of' in Canada. I see bands that had, like, two records out with a `best of.' Every Tom, Dick and Sue Medley has one, so I figured we should have something like that."  The TPOH canon has been revisited once before on American indie label Razor & Tie's 2000 hits-and-rarities package, Sex & Food. But it is something of a crime that the band's muscular, wryly funny and remarkably undated catalogue has become somewhat hard to find in its home country. Love Junk, TPOH's Todd Rundgren-produced 1988 debut for Chrysalis Records, is never far from reach, but its other four records are in limited supply and Mercury Records has let 1993's underrated rock monster, The Downward Road, slip completely out of print.  

A contributing factor, mind you, is that The Pursuit of Happiness itself has been on hiatus for nearly a decade. An official break-up has never occurred, but apart from a couple of "reunion" gigs in 2000 the band has been silent since 1997.  "I think we just ran out of gas," says Berg, an Edmonton native who founded the first incarnation of the group in 1986 after moving to Toronto with the intent of starting a band. "It was more `Let's take a rest from this and we'll see what happens in a year.' But then it turned into a lot of years."  Since it's "almost law now" that any greatest-hits compilation include a couple of new songs, Berg reconvened in the studio with "the five people who ended the band" — drummer Dave Gilby, bassist Brad Barker, guitarist/vocalist Kris Abbott and backing vocalist Renee Suchy — to record a couple of new songs, a cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry" and a typically hooky new number called "Hey Mary Anne," earlier this year.  The Pursuit of Happiness, a potent live act until the (semi-)end, will also embark on a quick tour to mark When We Ruled's release following a gig at Lee's Palace on Nov. 29.


Auditor-General Criticizes Ottawa's Film Funding

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Michael Den Tandt

(Nov. 23, 2005) Ottawa — More than $800-million in annual federal spending
on film, television and publishing is spotted with poor oversight, weak controls and a lack of clear objectives, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser says. In her latest audit of government operations, Fraser found that Canadian content on film projects is not systematically verified, that criteria for choosing which projects will receive Telefilm funding are unclear and that the Canadian Television Fund board's structure makes it prone to conflicts of interest. All told, the federal government spends about $2.2-billion each year to support cultural industries. That includes $1.6-billion for broadcasting and television, of which about $1-billion goes to the CBC. The rest of the money is apportioned to various cultural agencies, bodies and funds, including Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Television Fund, the Canada Council, the Canada Magazine Fund and the Canada Music Fund. Telefilm Canada alone receives $200-million a year. There is also some $300-million in available tax credits for production companies, many of them linked to Canadian-content requirements. The general state of oversight in funding and tax credits for the arts is poor, Fraser's report found.

"Canadian Heritage, Telefilm Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency do not apply controls rigorously enough to ensure that requirements covering Canadian content, project selection and eligibility of expenses are met," she said at a news conference yesterday. In particular, policing of Canadian-content restrictions is lax, the audit found. Under current rules, productions receive points based on the number of Canadians involved. But Heritage Canada's Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office, which polices Canadian content, takes a great deal on faith, the audit found. "CAVCO never requires key creative personnel to submit documentation supporting their declaration of citizenship or permanent residence, even though it has the right to." Moreover, there are significant gaps in the process by which Telefilm Canada doles out cash. "Project selection was not always justified through supporting documentation," the audit states. "Telefilm could not provide us with written justification on its decision to select some feature films in 2002." The Canadian Television Fund board, meanwhile, is prone to conflicts of interest because many of its board members come from the very groups that apply for and receive funding. Beyond issues of governance, "Canadian Heritage needs a clearer overall strategy and a better idea of what it's trying to achieve," Fraser's report says.


Jennifer Hudson, Not Fantasia, To Play Effie In ‘Dreamgirls’

Excerpt from

(Nov. 18, 2005) *It’s only fitting that the role of Effie White in the upcoming film adaptation of “
Dreamgirls” will be filled with another vocal powerhouse named Jennifer H.  In its original Broadway run, Jennifer Holiday became an instant star as the memorable character left behind when her singing group, The Dreams, decided to go mainstream. Holiday’s show-stopping performance of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” just before the curtain falls on the first act, became bigger than the play itself and set the bar for any future actress who should take on the role.   After an exhaustive search to find the perfect Effie, “American Idol” finalist Jennifer Hudson has been chosen to play the pivotal part for the “Dreamgirls” feature film, clearing the way for production to begin as scheduled on Jan. 9 for a December 2006 release. "Effie is such a hugely complex role," director and writer Bill Condon (Chicago) told USA Today. "She is at once exasperating and heartbreaking. Jennifer emerged as the person who captured both sides."  Hudson, a gospel-reared singer with a six-octave range, lost her “American Idol” run to Fantasia Barrino, who ironically, was a strong frontrunner among the 783 hopefuls who auditioned for the part. Jamie Foxx, who will play the manager of The Dreams, even lobbied for Fantasia to be cast in the role. But this time, it was Hudson who emerged with the win.

"It is the ultimate, the greatest role in theatre history," says the Chicago native, who was given the good news Saturday while in Orlando working on her first album. "Why me? I'm still in shock. I just got to Los Angeles Monday night and started rehearsals yesterday."  The Chicago native first heard the news Saturday while in Orlando putting the finishing touches on her still-untitled first album. In addition to Foxx, Hudson’s first feature film will co-star Beyoncé Knowles and Eddie Murphy. Meanwhile, Condon said it was difficult to tell Fantasia that she would not be in the film. "We talked about it," Condon says. "She has a lot of fans, including me. She is an amazing human being and has an abundance of talent. No one lost. Someone just emerged who was perfect." "A lot of people auditioned, and the director made the decision," Hudson said of her casting over Fantasia. "I'm glad to be here. …It was my destiny."


Producer Empties Pockets For ‘Phat Girlz’

Excerpt from

(Nov. 18, 2005) *While actress and comedienne Mo’Nique has been cast in the new film “Phat Girlz,” the real story is the struggle behind the film’s journey to the big screen.   To get the movie made, producer Bobby Newmyer simply ignored the first lesson taught in film school – never put up your own money.  After pouring every dime he had into the production – including his kids’ college fund – his gamble paid off this week, as Fox Searchlight handed him a ‘phat’ check for distribution rights.   "I think it represents a milestone in that someone was gutsy enough to tell the story of a fat woman and of what they go through in this country," Steven Imes, Mo'Nique's brother, manager and producing partner, told Daily Variety.   “Phat Girlz,” which also features Jimmy Jean-Louis, Godfrey and Kendra Johnson, follows an acid-tongued, aspiring fashion designer and another woman who are frustrated and obsessed by their weight. They're thrown a major curveball when they meet the men of their dreams in unexpected ways.  Newmyer's Outlaw Productions, which was paid in the mid-seven figures and will see back-end money as part of the deal, is producing along with Sneak Preview Entertainment’s Steven Wolfe. Imes and Mo'Nique are executive producing through their company, 10 Times Greater Prods.

Newmyer and writer-director Negest Likke had both seen Mo'Nique in "The Queens of Comedy." Likke subsequently wrote the script with the “Domino” star in mind. Newmyer, who also wanted to work with Mo'Nique, quickly bought the screenplay when it came across his desk.  Newmyer said production on the film was actually shut down last year when he ran out of money. Last November and December, he went back to the studios with footage. Still, everyone passed. He liquidated what he could and took out second mortgages on homes in L.A. and Telluride to come up with the $1.5 million he needed to complete production.  "I thought we would find financing partners along the way, but we didn't," Newmyer said. "But I had to finish."  Likke and Newmyer promoted the film as having wide crossover appeal. Fox Searchlight president Peter Rice was convinced enough to pay for a test screening, and quickly found out for himself that the movie could work beyond urban audiences. "It represents plus-size women around the world," Likke said.


The Truth Is That No One Owns True Stories

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Russell Smith

(Nov. 17, 2005)
Oliver Stone has started shooting his new movie, about police officers trapped in the wreckage of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, starring Nicolas Cage, and there has been predictable whining from victims' groups about his right to make such a film. The controversy is reminiscent of the one we just went through in Canada surrounding the film Karla, about the Bernardo/Homolka murders. Victims' families and community groups in New York have expressed irritation that anyone would dare to try to "profit" from their families' suffering by making art from it. The director himself has responded to the objections sympathetically, demurring that the film is not going to be sensationalist but sensitive, that it's really a small-scale story of individual officers, and that the catastrophe would be treated with "respect." He has also decided to shoot most of it on a sound stage in California, presumably both to avoid demonstrations on the set and to avoid the desecration of a mass gravesite with the corruption of Hollywood. Stone's acceptance of the validity of these complaints reflect a bizarre new climate of expression. There is no reason at all to take these objections seriously. They are incoherent. The producers have held dozens of meetings with family members, so as to hear concerns such as, "Are there going to be love scenes in it?" According to an Associated Press report, this was asked by Lee Ielpi, whose firefighter son was killed in the 2001 attacks. "How do you portray it correctly? It has to be done with some reverence." Why should there not be a love story? No one has explained this puritanical resistance to the romanticization of tragedy and heroism -- perhaps because Puritanism itself is so deeply ingrained in the American mentality. We don't need to analyze this: We know, or at least feel, that narratives themselves are inherently corrupting, and that love scenes in particular are somehow "irreverent." They have always been suspicious: This is why theatre itself was banned in Cromwell's England.

Neither Oliver Stone nor his producers nor the screenwriter, Andrea Berloff, have protested against such strangely repressive views. They are bending over backwards to appear accommodating. Stone is reassuring everyone that the film will not be "political" in any way -- it will not attempt to interpret the events or their significance. He has made soothing statements about the film being ". . . a work of collective passion . . . and carries within a compassion that heals." It's funny that people should worry about Stone's unpatriotic intentions -- he is not exactly subversive in his aesthetic or his politics. A famously sentimental, populist liberal, he is unlikely to rock the boat with some radical interpretation. (Although he did get into trouble in 2001 with an intemperate statement about the attacks being a "revolt" against multinational corporations -- a view he appears to have dropped. I don't think he really meant anything coherent by it. Actual argument is not an Oliver Stone specialty.)  All of the concerns will be swept away, of course, by the eventual tide of Sept. 11 movies which will finally start to be made in the next few years. There is no stopping the human need to make narratives -- mushy, sensationalistic or otherwise flawed as they may be -- based on traumatic collective experiences. Already, several films are in production: Universal Studios is planning to release Flight 93, about the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, an adaptation of the book 102 Minutes is in the works, as well as a TV miniseries based on the findings of the Sept. 11 commission of inquiry. Within 10 years, there will be as many dramatizations of this trauma as there are now about the Vietnam War, another "sensitive" subject which cost many more lives. Why, I wonder, are there not similar protests against movies about the Holocaust or the bombing of Japan? Surely those are painful subjects for the descendants of victims as well? Should we avoid their interpretations? If there were no dramas based on real horrors, there would be very little art. But those who object to artists' treading on their own personal suffering aren't really opposed to art, I don't think. It's that spectre of what Stone calls "interpretation" that worries people; it's the idea that the art may push a political view that is not their own. It is from this possibility that Oliver Stone is so furiously back-pedalling: No one wants that, he is saying, don't worry, this is going to be just as propagandistic as every other media treatment of the country's current struggle. This American debate shows, I think, how silly our own was, over that B-grade Hollywood movie about Homolka. The idea of "victims' sensitivities" is getting way out of hand. No one owns true stories, particularly those that affected millions.


Reel Asian Fest

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Jennie Punter

(Nov. 18, 2005) If you ever wondered what the term "running amok" really means, look no further than the 9th-annual Reel Asian International Film Festival, which shines its National Spotlight on the cinema of Malaysia this year. "Amok," a Malay word, denotes homicidal frenzy, thus "running amok" is akin to the modern term "going postal." That's what a Malay army private did with an M-16 in October, 1987, in a Chinese district of Kuala Lumpur,
throwing the capital city dangerously close to the edge of racial riots. The notorious incident is the jumping-off point for The Big Durian (2003), Amir Muhammad's wry and revealing docu-fiction exploration of multicultural Malaysian society, in which characters (both real and fictional) recollect events surrounding that day and share thoughts about politics and ethnicity. (Like the Big Apple, the Big Durian is a nickname for Kuala Lumpur; durian is the name for both the tree and its oval-shaped spiky fruit.) Born in 1972, Muhammad is the provocateur of a vibrant low-budget, digital-video auteur movement that has been making waves on the international festival circuit and whose leading lights are reflected in the Reel Asian festival's Malaysia program. The Big Durian (preceded by three shorts from Muhammad's acclaimed 6horts video series) is produced by Doghouse73, a company founded by the prolific James Lee (born 1973). Lee's fourth DV-feature, The Beautiful Washing Machine, which picked up two major awards at this year's Bangkok Film Festival, is a darkly humorous spin on modern Chinese Malaysian life and love (and dirty laundry) in Kuala Lumpur.

But the urban jungle isn't the only place inspiring young Malaysian filmmakers. Deepak Kumaran Menon (who created animation sequences for The Big Durian) makes his feature debut with the quietly powerful, gently humorous and beautifully filmed The Gravel Road (2004), a household drama loosely based on his mother's experiences growing up on a rubber plantation in the 1960s. Directly inspired by the great Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy, Menon tells the story of a close Tamil family and is centred on the academic aspirations of Shantha, the second of four daughters. In addition to these three features, the National Spotlight includes a shorts program, Malaysian Deluxe Platter, a diverse demonstration of the country's designation as the next hot spot in Southeast Asian cinema. Of the 29 Canadian films at the Reel Asian festival this year, most are shorts scattered throughout a variety of thematic programs. Of Love and Minorities is a program of three shorts devoted to Hong Kong-born filmmaker Simon Chung, this year's Canadian artist in focus. Chung's feature debut, Innocent, which revolves around a young immigrant to Toronto struggling with his both sexual and ethnic identity, receives its Canadian premiere. One accomplished feature from south of the border is a funny, subtly insightful crowd-pleaser. Opening-night film The Motel, director Michael Kang's feature debut and winner of the Humanitas Prize at Sundance, is about the misadventures of chubby 13-year-old aspiring writer Ernest, whose nagging mother runs a flea-bitten motel that rents rooms by the hour (nudge, nudge); with no dad around for guidance, Ernest strikes up an unlikely friendship with the flashy tenant Sam who, in the midst of a boozy-floozy bender, teaches the kid how to handle cars and women.  The 9th Annual Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival run Nov. 23 to 27. The opening film is at the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor St. W); the closing night film at The Royal (606 College St.). All other screenings take place at either Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex Ave.) or NFB Mediatheque (150 John St.). Information and tickets are available in person at Manulife Centre (55 Bloor St. W.), by calling 416-967-1528 or by visiting



Producers Guild To Honour Clint Eastwood

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Nov. 17, 2005) LOS ANGELES (AP) — The
Producers Guild of America went ahead and made his day, choosing Clint Eastwood as the recipient of its highest honour.  Eastwood will receive the Milestone Award for his contributions to the entertainment industry, it was announced Wednesday.  Roger Corman and Norman Lear also will receive honours at the Guild's 15th Annual PGA Awards.  After starring as a gunslinger in Sergio Leone "spaghetti" westerns, Eastwood became an icon in the 1970s with his portrayal of a tough-guy police detective in Dirty Harry, a film that inspired four sequels. He went on to become a two-time Academy Award-winning director, most recently for 2004's Million Dollar Baby, which also won best picture.  Past Milestone Award recipients include Jeffrey Katzenberg, Warren Beatty, Jack Valenti and Steven Spielberg.  Corman, who has produced hundreds of films and TV shows, will receive the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures.  Past honourees include Laura Ziskin, Dino De Laurentiis, Brian Grazer and Jerry Bruckheimer.  Lear, the Emmy Award-winning producer of the TV comedy series All in the Family, will be presented the Producers Guild Achievement Award in Television. Past recipients include John Wells, Lorne Michaels, Aaron Spelling and David E. Kelley.  Nominees for producer of the year will be announced Jan. 4. The 15th Annual PGA Awards will be presented Jan. 22.

Cheadle In Talks To Star In 9/11 Film

Excerpt from

(Nov. 17, 2005) *Daily Variety is reporting that
Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler are currently in talks to star in a Sony Pictures film dealing with Sept. 11. In the drama “Reign O'er Me,” from writer-director Mike Binder (“The Upside of Anger”), Sandler would play a man still grieving over the loss of his family during the  Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He runs into his former college roommate (Cheadle), who has become a doctor and who is determined to help his old buddy come to grips with his loss. Sony is currently in talks to acquire Binder’s script and would begin production next year with a budget under $20 million.

Schwarzenegger, Chan Join Forces Against Piracy

Source: Associated Press

(Nov. 18, 2005) HONG KONG —
Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to his entertainment roots Friday, joining longtime friend and fellow action star Jackie Chan to promote a public service campaign combating film piracy in China.  The rampant piracy of DVDs, fashion apparel and pharmaceuticals has been a constant theme during the California governor's three-city trade mission. But the issue had not taken centre stage until he reached Hong Kong, the last stop on his six-day itinerary.  Schwarzenegger and Chan unveiled a 30-second anti-pirating public service announcement at a luncheon of Hong Kong's American Chamber of Commerce.  The joint appearance had the feel of a Hollywood press junket, with dozens of camera crews and reporters jostling into a hotel ballroom to capture a shot of the men onstage together.  "Who wants to really create or invent new technologies ... if we cannot safeguard the outcome of the final product?" Schwarzenegger told the gathering. "Entertainment is a $30-billion industry in California, and Hong Kong, of course, is the movie capital of Asia. We have a lot at stake."  The public service clip was created by Jonathan Mostow, who directed Schwarzenegger in Terminator 3. Its $190,000 (U.S.) budget was put together by several film studios, the Motion Picture Association of America and the California Jobs Commission.  The clip features both men in leather jackets zooming down a road on motorcycles, dodging exploding cars and other hazards. "When you buy pirated movies and music, you support criminals!" Chan shouts.  "Let's terminate it!" Schwarzenegger thunders.  The public service announcement debuted on Hong Kong television Friday and promoters hope to expand it into mainland China.  Schwarzenegger's trip began Monday in Beijing.

Film Institute Looking For Films That Have Inspired

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Nov. 19, 2005) Los Angeles -- Distressed by thoughts of war, terrorism and natural disasters? Maybe an uplifting movie will take the edge off. For its ninth annual celebration of cinema, the
American Film Institute aims to uncover the "most inspirational films of the century." "When times are darkest, during war and depression, movies . . . provide a remarkable way for us to find ourselves again," said Jean Picker Firstenberg, AFI's director and chief executive. "We need to feel good again, and that's how these movies make us feel." A list of 300 films deemed inspirational by AFI historians will be considered. Ballots went out this week to more than 1,500 actors, producers, writers and others in the industry. Among the suggestions: The Passion of the Christ, The Sound of Music, It's a Wonderful Life and 8 Mile. AP

Oscar Considers 10 Films For Best Animated Feature

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Nov. 19, 2005) Beverly Hills, Calif. -- Ten films will be considered for Oscar nominations in the animated-feature category, the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced. Under academy rules, a maximum of three films can be nominated in a year when there are at least eight eligible films but fewer than 16. The films can also be nominated in other categories, including best picture. Among the eligible films: Chicken Little, Hoodwinked, Madagascar and Corpse Bride. Nominees in the animated-film category and 24 other categories will be announced Jan. 31. AP

Fox To Offer Movies On-Line

Source:  Associated Press, By Gary Gentile

(Nov. 21, 2005) Los Angeles —
Movielink, a joint venture of five Hollywood studios to offer movies over the Internet, has signed a deal with Twentieth Century Fox, allowing it to offer movies from all major studios for the first time. The deal, announced Monday, comes at a time when studios and TV networks are looking at alternative ways to distribute programs, including video on demand and portable devices, such as Apple's iPod. While Fox has offered some of its content on-line at sites such as, it waited until more homes had high speed Internet access and could view downloaded movies on large screen TVs before signing a deal with Movielink. “I think you're going to see us be a lot more aggressive in the next few months,” said Peter Levinsohn, president of Worldwide Pay Television and Digital Media at Fox, a subsidiary of New York-based News Corp. “This marketplace is really going to start to grow.”  Movielink and similar legitimate movie download services exist, in part, to offer an alternative to illegal piracy. But Movielink has yet to become popular, in part because films can only be viewed on a computer or watched on a TV screen using a cable. Over the next few months, consumer electronics devices, such as the recently released XBox 360 game console, will allow users to more easily view material stored on a hard drive on a large TV screen. Studios also are expected to experiment with other business models, including allowing viewers to purchase movies online and burn copies to DVDs. “The end of 2005 and into 2006 is really a watershed year,” said Jim Ramo, chief executive at Movielink. “I think you're beginning to see a snowball effect.” Starting Monday, Fox will make movies such as Robots available and will add more movies over the next few months. But viewers will not see any of George Lucas's Star Wars films, which Fox distributes in theatres and home video. Fox does not own the Internet distribution rights to the films.

Tucker Finally Signs On To ‘Rush Hour 3’

Excerpt from

(Nov. 22, 2005) *New Line Cinema feels like it’s cruising in the carpool lane now that
Chris Tucker has finally agreed to a deal for “Rush Hour 3.”  It took an offer of $20 million against 20% of the gross to get Tucker to sign on.  Under the deal, the actor has also agreed to give up script approval, which was a major obstacle in previous negotiations. According to Daily Variety, Tucker agreed to let go of script approval on the condition that the final draft matches what was pitched by returning screenwriter Jeff Nathanson. Tucker’s co-star, Jackie Chan, will get $15 million against 15% of the gross, and will also own the film's distribution rights in China and Hong Kong. Brett Ratner also returns as director, fresh from helming “X-Men 3.” He’ll get an increase in the upfront part of the $5 million-against-5%-gross deal he pocketed for “Rush Hour 2.” New Line has the option to greenlight the film by May, based on script approval and a budget the studio hopes won't exceed $120 million. The film will go into production next summer in the U.S. and Paris for a summer 2007 release. The film was supposed to begin production this fall for release next summer. While the movie was on ice, Nathanson rewrote the “Indiana Jones 4” script for George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. “Rush Hour 3” will be Tucker’s first film since 2001’s “Rush Hour 2,” which grossed $226 million in the U.S.




Instant Star Scores Three Gemini Nominations

With excerpts from

Instant Star was nominated for three Geminis at the outset of Saturday’s Gemini Awards including Best Direction in a Children's or Youth Program or Series (Graeme Campbell winner!), Best Children's or Youth Fiction Program or Series, Best Performance in a Childrens' or Youth Program or Series. 

Wes 'Maestro' Williams
has a recurring role as Darius Mills, a mogul of a publishing company.  Wes is thrilled to be part of such an exciting series to earn nominations for the 20th Annual Gemini Awards. 

Synopsis: 15-year-old Jude Harrison (Alexz Johnson) wins an enormously popular singer-songwriter contest. The accompanying recording contract and her newfound fame promises to transform her life forever. Will she resist the record company's attempts to "change" her, or will she accept the help of her hot new producer and make music that blows away her fans? Instant Star follows Jude as she navigates through this extraordinary new world of overnight celebrity.

The History of the Gemini Awards


The purpose of creating a national television showcase is to assist the industry as a whole in building television audiences and public awareness, as well as an appreciation of Canadian production and talent. The Geminis celebrate excellence in Canadian English-language television, acknowledging our country's triumphs in 87 award categories, in three gala presentations. Since its first broadcast in 1986, the event has grown in prominence and stature to become one of the most prestigious cultural events in Canada. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the awards.

In January of each year, the Gemini Rules and Regulations booklets and the official Gemini Awards Entry Forms are sent to Academy members and related industry people across Canada. Through the Rules and Regulations Guide, developed by the Gemini Rules and Regulations Committee, any Canadian television production meeting the eligibility criteria may be entered for consideration. This year's entry qualifying period is for shows aired between May 1st, 2004 and April 30, 2005. Once a program has been entered it becomes an Official Entry of the Gemini Awards.


Women 18 To 27 Can Enter Cattle Call To Appear On Canada's Next Top Model

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - David Graham, Fashion Writer

(Nov. 22, 2005) Tricia is the new Tyra.  Canadian model-turned-actor Tricia Helfer will host the Canadian version of America's Next Top Model,
performing the role made famous by Tyra Banks on the U.S. series.  Starting today, Canada's Next Top Model will be searching for the prettiest of the pretties across the country.  CHUM Television's Citytv will recruit until Dec. 21 for its spinoff of the American reality show that's an enormous hit with women between 18 and 34, and male model-izers of all ages.  This is not the first time an American reality show has been replicated in Canada with high-ish profile locals as host. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire hired Pamela Wallin. Canadian Idol chose Ben Mulroney.  The new Citytv series, which will air next May, brings the much-maligned and misunderstood world of modelling close to home. "Viewers can fantasize about the contestants being the girl next door, their best friend or even themselves," says Roma Khanna, senior vice president content at CHUM Television.  Khanna is excited that Helfer signed on, admitting they had a few candidates in mind, but the Alberta native "was at the top of everyone's list."  Helfer was discovered as a 16-year-old ingénue in her hometown of Donalda, Alta. In 1992 she gained international attention when she won the Ford Supermodel of the World contest. Now 31, she is famous among sci-fi fans for her role in the series Battlestar Galactica, being filmed in Vancouver.  Now a California resident and married to an entertainment lawyer, she is also a Maxim sex kitten. She is currently on the cover of the magazine's U.K. edition. "I did it to promote the show," she says.  Says Khanna, "We've been in negotiations for the past few weeks (with CBS-Paramount), but we were waiting on a confirmation from Tricia before making an announcement."

Helfer, who has struggled to prove she's more than just a pretty face, admits she initially had reservations about the project. "When you've been a model and you try to make the transition into film or television, it's sometimes difficult to be taken seriously. I've worked hard to prove myself and gain respect. I didn't want to go into anything that would undo that."  Helfer hasn't seen many episodes of the American series and confesses, "I have a lot to catch up on." Both Khanna and Helfer accept there will be obvious comparisons between the feisty Banks, who now has a midday talk show, and the more laid-back Helfer. They know it's impossible to predict what the interaction of host, contestants and judges will produce.  But Khanna is confident that Helfer's experience as a model and actor, as well as her obvious sex appeal, will draw viewers. Helfer has heard the American version often exploits the hissy fits, catfights and ego trips that occur among the more fierce competitors and demanding judges.  "I am going to be myself. I'm Canadian," she says, introducing the ``nice'' factor.  So the call is out for Canadian girls who feel they possess the right mix of looks, personality and determination to make it in the shamelessly superficial world of modelling. At the very least, you must be female and between 18 and 27.  Khanna calls the recruits "diamonds in the rough," though the fashion industry routinely signs up models as young as 15.  Over eight episodes, the original 10 will be whittled down to one winner.  "It's about the journey," says Khanna, who admits that in reality any girl can approach an agency to determine her chances in the world of modelling.  This rings particularly true in Canada, which spawned several international models recently, including Daria Werbowy, Jessica Stam, Heather Marks and Lisa Cant, not to mention supermodel Linda Evangelista and other alumnae from Shalom Harlow to Yasmin Ghauri.  "Tricia is a fantastic woman," says Khanna. "She is a credible mentor with a lovely temperament. But it remains to be seen if she will suffer fools."


He's 8 Years Old And Already A Star

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Patrick Evans, Staff Reporter

(Nov. 20, 2005) It's a kid's show without puppets, without animation, without
any kind of surreal, attention-grabbing landscape. This Is Daniel Cook is about an 8-year-old exploring the world as it is.  So simple. So dull?  Not according to the kids at home who have made it a hit. Not according to the Geminis, either.  The episode This Is Daniel Cook doing magic garnered three nominations: Best Pre-School Program; Best Direction in a Children's Program; and Daniel, the star himself, was up for Best Performance in a Children's Series.  The show didn't capture any of those Geminis, but no matter. Having aired its first season on Treehouse and TVOntario, they've got season two in the can — ready for its premiere Dec. 5. And now that Disney's Playhouse network has picked up the show, Daniel's red hair is starting to set the American market on fire.  Each episode starts with poor Daniel, obviously ordered by his director to stand still for 10 seconds, staring into the camera and introducing the show in a monotone. "Hi. I'm here with Bill. And today he's going to teach me some magic tricks."  These agonizing introductions are a terrific counterpoint to the explosive action that follows as Daniel, released from the script, blazes wide-eyed through the rest of the six-minute episode. Rapid-fire edits perfectly mimic the explosive energy and spastic attention span of the show's young host.  Writer and director J.J. Johnson of Sinking Ship Productions says kids connect with the show because Daniel drives the material. Johnson just follows him with a camera, confident that whatever makes Daniel's eyes grow wider will affect his audience the same way.  "We shoot for about three hours per episode," says Johnson. A lot of what we keep are things other shows would cut right off the bat, like Daniel making a joke a kid would get that we can't necessarily understand."

And in reverse, there are moments for grown-ups to love. Daniel has occasional bursts where he turns the show into a kiddie version of 60 Minutes.  In one episode, kindly outdoor specialist Amy Wilson, preparing Daniel for a nature walk, tells him, "Hikes are about looking and searching and listening as well. Because often, you'll hear a lot of birds — you won't necessarily see them."  "Yeah," says Daniel, cutting her off impatiently. "I've seen a whole bunch of birds. A million."  It's good TV. But is it good for the TV star?  Daniel's innocence is the heart of the show. Imagine the nightmare if he was robbed of that. Fame has already damaged too many kids — Dana Plato, Danny Bonaduce, Drew Barrymore. And those are just the Ds.  The Star's reporter was afraid Daniel would show up for his interview wearing a red velvet blazer, toss a pack of cigarettes on the table, and order a 17-year-old girlfriend to wait for him outside.  But Daniel is either a real, sweet kid, or he does a diabolically good impersonation of one.  His mother, Deborah Cook, says she's kept a close watch on him ever since a talent agent spotted him when he was 3 and said he belongs in show business. The Cooks dragged their heels until Daniel was 5, which time they'd received assurances that he would be sheltered from the nasty side of the business.  Daniel did some commercials before meeting Johnson at the talent agency where he was working. The meeting inspired Johnson to create a kid's show that was anchored in reality.  And other adults around Daniel say they're determined to keep the young actor anchored in reality, too. This Is Daniel Cook shoots in spring and summer, so it's more like TV camp than a full-time job. The rest of the year, Daniel gets to be a regular kid.  And his parents intend to keep him safe in body as well as soul. Asked where Daniel lives, Cook gives her standard answer: "The GTA or Hamilton area. Take your pick."  Cook says she allows Daniel to act because he loves it. "The trappings of celebrity, the attention and all the accolades, that just doesn't really matter to him. If that does become important, and he starts to listen to and believe the hype, then we need to have a conversation."

That hype is growing. Johnson says after the first season aired, Daniel started getting noticed on the street.  "We would literally be kind of mobbed," he says. But to Johnson's delight, the mobs were made up of kids. "From a 5-year-old's perspective, they're never going to run into Barney the Dinosaur. But they can run into Daniel. For them, he's a friend in their house. When they see him, they know so much about him, and they're like, `I like dinosaurs, too!'"  Early shows had Daniel going to the zoo and a pool. "Now that we've had elephants and planes, we have to keep upping the ante," says Johnson.  He says his love for his star makes it harder to make business decisions. "I feel a huge sense of responsibility. Not only to him, but if a third season doesn't happen with him."  And it might not.  A reboot could be imminent. To balance the gender scales, Johnson says, "We're looking into doing a girl version."  Which isn't to say Daniel's headed for the show business gutter. Johnson says he and Daniel are discussing other projects. "He loves dinosaurs. Right now he and I are coming up with an idea called Dino Dan."  But while the adults fret about his future, Daniel has plans of his own. They don't involve acting — or holding up gas stations. Dinosaurs are the future.  "I want to invent video games and be a paleontologist," he says with utter confidence. Then he talks happily about his favourite dinosaur, the meat-eating giganotosaurus — a reptile Daniel plugs on his show every chance he gets.  In the short term, Daniel said he wants to go underwater in a submarine. Johnson says he's been begging the military to make it happen, but no luck. And asked what adventure he'd least like to film for his show, Daniel replies, "Eat my barf."  No worries, kid. There are already shows where they eat their barf. Keep shooting for the submarine.


Parting Gift For Eleventh Hour

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Nov. 20, 2005) There will be no 11th-hour reprieve for The Eleventh Hour, but the cancelled CTV drama is going out on a high note anyhow after
winning the Gemini Award for best dramatic series last night.  Last night's black-tie gala, aired on Global, concluded the three-evening Gemini event by concentrating on the highest profile categories in the Canadian TV honours.  Actor Michael Riley took home the best-actor award for his portrayal of rumpled lawyer Elliot Sacks on CBC's legal drama This is Wonderland.  Castmate Cara Pifko took home a trophy for portraying Riley's co-worker Alice De Raey. But the story of the night may have been the gush of recognition for Eleventh Hour, which was nominated for 15 Geminis and took home five, having won on Friday for best writing, direction, makeup and guest actor (Henry Czerny).  Elsewhere last night, Global's Kevin Newman won the prize for top news anchor, nosing out both CBC's Peter Mansbridge and CTV's Lloyd Robertson.  Earlier, Newman told Canadian Press: "I've jokingly taken to calling it the Peter Mansbridge Award," as the CBC anchor had won the award for four straight years going into last night.

Last night's Gemini winners include:

Best Dramatic Mini-Series
Sex Traffic
Best Dramatic Series
The Eleventh Hour
Best Comedy Program
or Series
Corner Gas
Best Social/Political
Documentary Program
Runaway Grooms
Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series
Chris Abraham, I, Claudia
Best Writing in a Dramatic
Program or Mini-Series
Alan DiFiore, Chris Haddock,
The Life

Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program or Series
Ken Finkleman,
The Newsroom
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series
Brendan Fletcher, The Death
and Life of Nancy Eaton
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series
Kristen Thomson, I, Claudia
Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading
Dramatic Role
Michael Riley,
This is Wonderland
Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role
Cara Pifko, This is Wonderland
Best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Program or Series
Trailer Park Boys
Best News Anchor
Kevin Newman, Global
National with Kevin Newman
Best Host or Interviewer in a Sports Program or Sportscast
Scott Russell,
CBC Sports Saturday
Gemini Viewers' Choice Award
Marilyn Denis, Cityline
A complete list of winners is available at


Hit TV Shows Leaping Out Of The Box

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
. Raju Mudhar, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 20, 2005) Television anywhere, any time, and however you want to watch it.  That's the prediction of media experts since the rise of the Internet and with it, the idea of convergence — in which content can be consumed on a variety of devices, such as your computer or iPod. With a flurry of recent announcements from American networks, there's talk about television's new frontiers.  But, according to analysts, it might not come as quickly as predicted — and perhaps may be even slower coming to Canada.  The television industry has been forced into action by threats of online piracy through software like BitTorrent, as well as the growth in popularity of DVDs and digital video recorders (DVRs) that allow viewers to skip ads.  And with the rise of portable video devices, viewers are starting to change the way they watch television. The networks, meanwhile, don't want to be left behind. In many ways, TV is where the music industry was five years ago
when Napster came on the scene. Having the benefit of those lessons in how to lose the revenues and the attention of a fan base, television networks are seeking remunerative new ways to distribute their programs.  Apple kicked things off by introduced video capabilities in its latest iPod model. For television execs, that innovation has been overshadowed by the ABC/Disney content deal that allows Desperate Housewives and Lost to be downloaded for iPod viewing after their prime-time airings. It's going well; Apple announced this past week that there have already been a million downloads purchased.  The ABC/Disney deal spurred the other TV networks into action. CBS and NBC have both announced video-on- demand deals for top-rated shows — the CBS list has NCIS, Survivor and powerhouse CSI, while NBC's six offerings include Law & Order: SVU and The Office. The shows are available through U.S. cable giant Comcast, America's largest cable company, for $1.99 (U.S.) an episode.  "We've been waiting for a long time for the most popular shows on television to get into the on-demand area. There's 5,000 television on-demand programs at Comcast, and none of them are the top Nielsen-rated shows," says Josh Bernoff, a cable television analyst at Forrester Research.

"The Comcast CSI announcement is, I think, the beginning of a real shift in the way that television is distributed. You will see, one by one, the most popular shows on television starting to appear on video on demand."  Here at home, it's something the head of Rogers' television division has also been waiting for.  "The biggest news is the CBS Comcast deal," says David Purdy. "The holy grail, for me, has long been acquiring network-produced, prime time television on demand. It's those high-profile shows that will drive people to these new offerings."  What's not known is whether existing viewers will move to the new services. That's part of the networks' experimenting: to see what will fly. As in, how much are viewers willing to pay to watch a single episode of a show? Just as the music industry tried various models in the early days of online — such as subscription-based services, which failed — television is trying to determine the formula that works.  There have been several attempts with streaming. The pilot for Everybody Hates Chris was available on Google Video. CBS's Threshold has been aired on Yahoo! and Fox just put an episode of Kitchen Confidential on, the social networking site. (However this week say Fox has pulled the comedy from its schedule, a likely precursor to cancellation).  The networks "are trying everything out to see what works," says Bernoff. "I mean, take a look at those shows. Not a hit among them. Buzz-building is a good way to look at it." 


Webcasting is another area starting to see fierce competition. Google Video and Yahoo! have been the industry leaders, but last week AOL announced plans to launch In2TV, a Web TV service that will offer 4,800 episodes from old Warner Bros. series such as Welcome Back Kotter and Growing Pains.  The service will launch in 2006, and unlike the new pay-to-play offerings, AOL says it will be advertiser-supported, meaning viewers will still have to watch commercials. As the backbone of the current industry, it's an easy model to fall back on.  "They want to see if they can continue to make money the way that they always have," Bernoff says.  "I think the lesson of the Napster era was that if you make all of your money from one form of distribution, then you're vulnerable ... so the lesson that the television industry needs to follow is to embrace all these different forms of distribution, and beef them up to protect itself as best as possible."  But one thing Bernoff says not to wait for is advance viewing of new TV episodes before they've aired in prime time. "You'll see that the day you buy a DVD of a movie before it gets into the theatres," he says.  And despite the flurry of announcements, many new developments are still a long way off. And such advances seldom turn out the way they're planned.  "Just look at TiVo," says Sajeeth Cherian, a 21-year-old computer sciences student at Carleton University in Ottawa. "In 1998, everyone expected digital video recorders (DVRs) to become standard, but they still aren't. It's a very slow process."


Cherian is the inventor of Videora, software that basically works like a DVR for web-based video content — you tell it what you want, and it searches various sites to download it for you. He's at the forefront of the online TV movement, but he admits the technology is not yet good enough to dominate. "I still watch some shows on network TV, because sometimes you want to watch a thing at the same time as everybody else, or with people," he says. "I'll use my own product to get something that I missed, or some Internet video-only tech shows that I like to watch."  Cherian is a good example of the new TV viewer: he's mostly wrestled free of the rigid network schedule.  Rogers' Purdy sees this as how things are supposed to evolve. He believes it's a matter of time before users will be able to move shows across different platforms — an attractive prospect for Rogers, considering its many arms (Maclean's, Fido cellphones, the Toronto Blue Jays, cable TV channels, radio stations). Rogers Cable already has some shows on demand, like Fat Actress and Huff. Purdy hints at a deal in the works with a major U.S. network.  "From a technological standpoint, there's nothing holding us back. Anything Comcast can do, we can. I hope there won't be too much of a hangover until many of these options are available in Canada, but there are rights management issues," he says.  Rights issues are the likely reason why Lost and Desperate Housewives aren't yet available in Canada on As the owner of those shows, ABC can sell them to Americans on iTunes if it wants to. However, in Canada, CTV pays for the right to air both shows, and it might not appreciate having its ratings undermined. (However a spokesperson said CTV has nothing to do with the shows not being available on and suggested we call Apple.)  However Purdy is optimistic that most prime time shows will be available on demand, at least, in this country within two years.  "The one thing we have all learned it's that we must be more attentive to how the customer wants to consume things," he says.  "Because if you're slow, then their only response is to go and find it elsewhere."


CRTC Ponders Product Placement

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Keith Mcarthur And Grant Robertson

(Nov. 21, 2005) The federal broadcast regulator is watching the rapid rise of product placements on Canadian TV shows to see whether it needs to overhaul the way advertising is allowed onto the small screen. Current rules prevent Canadian broadcasters from running more than 12 minutes of traditional television commercials an hour. But advertisers are increasingly looking for ways to embed marketing messages directly into programs. That's partly because new technologies -- like personal digital video recorders -- allow viewers to skip commercials. "We're keeping an eye on it. Obviously, we're seeing it more and more in
programs," said Doug Wilson, director of industry analysis and program monitoring for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. "At some point in time, the commission may have to adapt to the new advertising model out there." Mr. Wilson emphasized that no decisions have been made about changing the regulations, and said there would be public consultations prior to any amendments. Canada's broadcasters, meanwhile, want the rules loosened so they can be more responsive to advertiser demands. "We have to attract more dollars to the system, not close opportunities. That's the direction we think [the CRTC] should be going," said Glenn O'Farrell, president of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. Product placements and product integration are a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States. Placements involve strategically inserting items, from cars to soda cans, into the background of TV shows. Integration features those products in the script.

In the U.S., the techniques range from placing Ford Explorers on the network hit 24, to integrating Burger King and Sony PlayStations into the storylines of The Apprentice. While the strategy is becoming more prevalent in Canada, the market is much smaller with not as many homegrown productions. "There are far fewer opportunities as a Canadian marketer to get involved in those types of things," said Scott Cooper, marketing director at Unilever Canada. The company is integrating its Knorr brand into The Next Great Chef, which airs in December on Global. The program, which will see prospective chefs compete in a documentary-style cook-off, has worked several products into the show, including pots, pans and dairy products. On CTV, a December episode of Corner Gas will integrate the Sears Wish Book catalogue into the script, while CBC's hockey mockumentary, The Tournament, again features a Kia dealership this season. "The traditional 30-second commercial isn't dead yet, but it is dying," said Andy Levine, executive producer of The Next Great Chef. While all three networks are boosting their revenue with product placements in domestic shows, they say they're being selective. "At the end of the day, it must make sense in a script and the bottom line is that show integrity is not compromised," CTV spokesman Mike Cosentino said. But Canadian broadcasters must be careful about how much product placement they attempt on domestic productions. If a Canadian program exceeds the rule of 12 commercial minutes an hour, it can be labelled an infomercial. If that happens, the show is no longer considered Canadian content and is also not eligible for federal funding incentives. The CRTC has ruled certain programs offside. One example was Rona Inc.'s involvement with TVA's Ma Maison Rona and Global TV's Rona Dream Home, where episodes prominently featured the sponsor. Those shows contained too much commercial content and could not be counted as Canadian programming, the CRTC said. With a much smaller TV market, and no guarantees that a new production will make it to air in Canada, advertisers must choose their campaigns wisely. The idea is also in its infancy in terms of pricing. "Where in the U.S. you could look at it costing you $3-million to be on The Apprentice; here it's all generally custom opportunities, so it's not an easy comparison to make," Mr. Cooper said.



Danny DeVito Returns To TV In Comedy Series

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Nov. 17, 2005) NEW YORK (AP) — Danny DeVito — who hasn't starred in a TV series since Taxi ended its run in 1983 — will return to the small screen next year in the FX comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  "Getting the news from FX that our show got a second season pickup was fantastic," said series creator Rob McElhenney in a statement. "Getting the news that Danny has signed on to co-star feels like we just hit the lottery."  DeVito will play a retiree who has moved back to Philadelphia to spend time with his children.  The series' second season is set to debut in June. DeVito, 61, will co-star in all 10 episodes. He will be able to shoot his scenes within a period of 10 to 15 days, the network said.  Taxi began its run in 1978. DeVito played Louie De Palma, a New York City dispatcher who bullied and insulted his drivers.  After the series ended, he turned his attention to producing (Get Shorty, Man on the Moon) and directing (Throw Momma From the Train, The War of the Roses, Hoffa).  His screen credits include roles in Romancing the Stone, Twins and Batman Returns.

CBC, CTV Clean Up At News Geminis

Source:  John McKay, Canadian Press

(Nov. 18, 2005) CBC and CTV picked up most of the key awards in news, sports and documentary categories of the 2005 Geminis, honouring the best in Canadian television.  At the first of three consecutive galas, CTV News won Thursday for best newscast and best reportage. CTV's W-Five also won in the best news information series category.  But CBC's Witness took home a Gemini for best documentary series, while CBC News coverage of the memorial service for the four RCMP officers slain in Mayerthorpe, Alta., won for best special event coverage.  CBC's The National won best news magazine segment (for an episode titled "Strange Destiny") while Wendy Mesley won for best host or interviewer for her work on Marketplace.  CTV's Ronnie Hawkins: Still Alive and Kickin' won for best biography documentary program. CBC's venerable newsmagazine show The Fifth Estate won three Geminis for direction, editing and writing.  In sports, CBC took the trophy for best live event for its coverage of the 2005 Tim Hortons Brier, and best direction in a live sporting event for its broadcast coverage of the CFL's 2004 west division championships.  The Thursday gala and Friday night's industry gala are considered preludes to Saturday night's main event, airing live on Global Television and featuring the most high-profile awards.  There are some 86 categories in all. Leading the Gemini race this year with 15 nominations each are the now-cancelled CTV drama The Eleventh Hour and CBC's The Fifth Estate. The CBC miniseries Sex Traffic has 14 nods and the legal drama This Is Wonderland has 12.  Global news anchor Kevin Newman will be in the running Saturday with CBC's Peter Mansbridge and CTV's Lloyd Robertson for best anchor. Newman has his fingers crossed.  "I've jokingly taken to calling it the Peter Mansbridge Award because it just seems to be appropriate," he said.  This is the Geminis' 20th anniversary.

Bernie Mac To Develop New Fox Series

Excerpt from

(Nov. 21, 2005) *Bernie Mac is coming back for seconds at Fox. With “The Bernie Mac Show” currently in its fifth season, the comedian is developing a
new “All in the Family” flavoured sitcom as the first project under his Mac Productions banner, which has an overall deal with Regency and 20th CentSury Fox TV. The series, expected to be set in either New York or Chicago, will follow a young woman and her new husband who end up living next door to her father and mother. The pilot will be written and co-executive produced by Mac’s production partner and “King of the Hill” writer, Dean Young. Young tells Daily Variety that the father and son-in-law "are complete opposites: religiously, politically, the (son) doesn't have a job,” as was the case with “All in the Family.”  Young adds: “The show's really about these two people building a relationship.” Unlike Archie Bunker and his clan, the family for Mac’s as-yet-untitled sitcom will be African-American.  Mac will not star in the series, however, the story is loosely based on his recent experience as a new father-in-law and Young's own life as a newlywed.

Canadian Shows Scoop International Emmys

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

(Nov. 22, 2005) NEW YORK (CP) — Three Canadian shows overcame
competition from Sweden, Germany and France, among others, to snag International Emmys Monday night in New York.  Fresh off its Gemini win, Ken Finkleman's The Newsroom won the International Emmy Award for comedy.  The series was first launched on the CBC in 1996.  YTV's Dark Oracle won the International Emmy in the children & young people category. Using both live action and animation, the series follows the adventures of two 15-year-olds as they investigate the mysteries behind a strange comic book.  A second season of 13 half-hour episodes is scheduled to air on YTV next year.  A CBC co-production claimed Canada's third win of the evening.  Holocaust — A Musical Memorial Film from Auschwitz took the Emmy for arts programming.  The 90-minute piece, shot entirely on location at the museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau, interweaves music connected to the Holocaust with accounts of three survivors from the men's and women's orchestras, which were forced to perform for SS and Nazi officers.  The film is a co-production between the CBC, BBC, Poland's TVP and Germany's ZDF.






Canadian Lights Up Lloyd Webber Musical

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Nov. 21, 2005) Adam Brazier woke up Friday morning to the classic good news/bad news scenario.  The bad news first: New York critics were sharply divided about the merits of The Woman in White, Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical, which had opened the night before with Brazier playing the romantic male lead.  But then came the more cheerful stuff: the critics were universally enthusiastic about the 30-year-old guy from Unionville who was playing the heroic young Walter.  "Extremely appealing," said the New York Daily News; "amiable high tenor ardour," pronounced Newsday; while the Associated Press said his role was "strongly sung" and Variety pronounced him "a vigorous, youthful romantic lead."  If that wasn't enough to turn a young man's head, no less than five reviewers, including The New York Times' decided to single him out as "handsome."  None of this would come as news to Toronto audiences, who've been cheering Brazier's work for years now.  Whether it was as the original Sky in Mamma Mia!, Aladdin and Prince Charming in Ross Petty's Christmas pantos, or in the title role of the Shaw Festival's hit 2004 production of Pal Joey, Brazier has always stood out from the crowd.  When reached on the phone Friday afternoon, he was still coming to grips with it all.  "It was a very exciting evening, the audience
was receptive, and the whole thing had a positive and genuine energy."

Brazier's Canadian cheering section included his mother, father, brother, sister-in-law and 96-year-old grandmother, as well as his significant other, Melissa Kramer.  Also present was Canada's consul general to New York, Pamela Wallin. Brazier said the most exciting part of the night for his parents was getting to meet the former broadcaster.  She graciously invited the Brazier clan to her official Park Ave. residence for lunch on Friday, which made a nice way for them to come down from the buzz of opening night.  The whole experience has been an intense one, not just because of what Brazier calls "the incredibly high stakes of opening a multi-million-dollar musical on Broadway," but for an additional bit of drama no one could have predicted or wanted.  On Nov. 1, with the show already in previews, Brazier and the company were called into a special rehearsal by director Trevor Nunn, who broke some shocking news to them about their leading lady, Maria Friedman.  "He told us that Maria had discovered a lump in her breast the day before and had immediately seen her doctor. It was diagnosed as stage-one cancer and Maria had decided to go for surgery that Thursday."  The company was in shock, but Nunn communicated her wishes. "We were not to talk about it," recalls Brazier, "just go on with business as usual."  One week to the day after her successful surgery, Friedman returned to the show's previews, earning Brazier's eternal admiration. "You would never have known what she'd gone through. Her sense of humour was amazing and her courage was unforgettable."  Brazier also was impressed with the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom he pronounced "very professional, but very excitable. When you get it right, he lets you know it immediately.  "What I wasn't expecting is that with him it's ultimately all about the storytelling. He's more interested in the emotion and the narrative clarity rather than whether or not you hit a note just right."  Critics praised Brazier for his sense of Victorian style, which he eagerly attributes to his training at George Brown Theatre School, where "we studied period movement, posture, behaviour, etiquette. It gave me all the tools I needed."  Right now Brazier is hoping to settle in for a long run with The Woman in White and planning to relax.  "Finally," he sighed, "I feel I can just sit back and enjoy it."


Fringe Product Drowsy Earns Plaudits In LA

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Nov. 22, 2005) The Drowsy Chaperone is proving to be a true Sleeping Beauty in La-La Land, which is just one more indication of the far-reaching
influence of the Toronto Fringe Festival.  The spoofy musical romp, which premiered here at the 1999 Fringe Festival, opened to very positive reviews at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday night.  The Los Angeles Times called it "an unabashed love letter to musical comedy" and Variety raved that "it emits enough intoxicating charm for anyone to get drunk on."  This California run is being viewed as a pre-Broadway tryout by its lead producer, Kevin McCollum, a two-time Tony Award-winner for Rent and Avenue Q.  After its Fringe premiere, Drowsy was successfully remounted at Theatre Passe Muraille later in 1999 and then given a whole new production at the Winter Garden in 2001 as part of the Mirvish subscription series.  It lay dormant for several years until a presentation at the Festival of New Musicals in Manhattan last fall generated considerable buzz and resulted in the current production.  The major focus for the reviews' enthusiasm has been the narrator figure of "Man in Chair," played by Bob Martin, who created the role back in 1999. Variety hailed it as a "breakout role" for Martin and the Times praised the way he managed to be "silly but sincere."  Reviews were also full of enthusiasm for the cleverness of the staging by Casey Nicholaw and the work of the cast, in particular Sutton Foster, who stopped the show despite a broken wrist she incurred during rehearsals. They also enjoyed the wit of the book by Martin and Don McKellar.  The critics' major reservations concerned the lyrics of Lisa Lambert and music of Greg Morrison. The Times complained that "they don't have the intoxicating power of the standards that inspired them, while Variety lamented the fact that "we're never quite allowed to get lost in a song."

Still, the overall verdicts have been positive and there's a good chance of further life for The Drowsy Chaperone.  That would put it in the company of other Toronto Fringe-created hits currently on the boards in America.  Da Kink in My Hair just concluded a successful run at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, the latest victory for trey anthony's popular show, which began at the 2001 Fringe and went on to a record-breaking run at the Princess of Wales Theatre.  Job, the Hip-Hop Musical is a show that has enjoyed more lives than Shirley MacLaine since it began at the 2002 Fringe. It's been revised and revamped, playing sold-out runs in our city every step of the way.  Now in a new expanded version as Job the Hip-Hopera, it's about to conclude a well-received month in L.A. at the Stella Adler Theatre and we can only hope this latest reincarnation will come back here as well.  And finally, Charlie Ross's One Man Star Wars, which also premiered at the 2002 Fringe, is in the middle of a lucrative run at the Lambs' Theatre in N.Y., where it will play until Dec. 31, before Ross continues to tour it across North America.



How’s ‘The Color Purple’ Doing On Broadway?

Excerpt from

(Nov. 18, 2005) *Because of the cast’s recent field trip to appear on their benefactor’s top rated talk show, “The Color Purple” played only six preview performances on Broadway last week, but their visit to the “Oprah Winfrey Show” kept the new musical strong at the box office. According to, the production filled the large Broadway Theatre to 82.2% capacity, up 10.7% from its first week of previews (before the “Oprah” show aired). The musical also netted a substantial $499,572 in those six previews. The top grossing Broadway play was the Ben Vereen musical, “Wicked,” which earned $1,318,294 for the week ending Nov. 13. The top show by capacity was “Spamalot,” which averaged 101.76%.  “Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple” is based on the Alice Walker novel and 1985 film of the same name.

'Black Face' Ends At Royal Opera

Source:  Associated Press. By Jenn Wiant

(Nov. 21, 2005) London — White opera singers will no longer wear black face paint when playing black characters at the British Royal Opera House. The practice of putting black makeup on white performers was used in dress rehearsals for Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera ( A Masked Ball), but the singer portraying the sorceress Ulrica did not use the makeup in Thursday's opening night performance, Royal Opera House spokesman Christopher Millard said. Novelist Philip Hensher noticed it while attending a dress rehearsal and criticized the practice in The Independent newspaper. The Royal Opera House would not discuss the reason for the timing of its new policy, which was announced within a day of Hensher's article. The Italian director of the opera, Mario Martone, accepted the decision not to use black make-up on mezzo Stephanie Blythe, Millard said Monday.  “We had tried various means to see if there was a way in which we could resolve the issue of whether a white actor should be 'blacked up' and decided we should cut it,” Millard said. “It doesn't work. It's racially insensitive." He added that operas calling specifically for black characters “are incredibly rare,” although exceptions to the policy are possible. “Blacking up” was common in the United States for about 100 years, from the first minstrel shows in the 1840s until civil-rights activists began criticizing the practice in the 1940s. In Britain, The Black and White Minstrel Show, a popular musical variety show featuring blackface actors, was on TV until 1978.



Jesse Joins Push To Save Tookie

Excerpt from

(Nov. 23, 2005) *Convicted murderer Stanley “Tookie” Williams got a visit from Rev. Jesse Jackson on Monday as the clock ticks down toward his scheduled execution on Dec. 13. The Death Row inmate, convicted of killing four people in a robbery, awaits a decision by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on whether or not he’ll be granted clemency. Jackson’s visit included prayer with the former gang leader and words of encouragement in the battle to save his life.  “At the conclusion of our one and a half hour visit I told him ‘We are going to fight for you and we are going to win.’  He told me that his work here is not finished,” said Jackson. Jackson’s visit comes on the heels of a rally held outside of San Quentin last weekend to support Tookie’s plea for clemency. Snoop Dogg was among the supporters who
attended.  Rev. Jackson released a statement following his visit with Williams. It read in part:   “Tookie Williams is a changed man.  He stands before Governor Schwarzenegger requesting clemency.  There are those who state that he should not receive clemency because he has not acknowledged guilt and remorse.  But this is not a legal requirement for clemency.  It cannot be predicated upon a false or coerced confession of guilt or remorse.    “What is certain is that since 1992, Tookie has been a voice reaching out to the voiceless.  He has encouraged youth to lift themselves up so as not to end up locked up.  His voice has reached impoverished and alienated youth in places police dare not tread. Through his personal transformation in prison, he has brought light to dark places because he knows where to look. He speaks truth to power with a sincere knowledge of what lies ahead for these youth and gives them a stark look at what their future could be if they don’t renounce gang life and all that it stands for. And they listen, because he was one of them.   “Tookie Williams personifies what ‘redemption’ is all about.  He has used his time in prison to reach others and save lives.  We may not be able to quantify the number of children he has saved, but I am certain that there are children in this country and abroad that would not be here had they not received his powerful message.

"In the days to come we will bear witness to our criminal justice system at its lowest point. As California gears up for the taking of a life, the eyes of the world are upon us. We must kill the idea of killing as a remedy to societal problems and shortcomings. We do not condone Tookie Williams past actions, however, the streets of California will be no safer on Dec. 14 should he be executed.  In fact, there is reason to believe that they will be even less safe as those he would have reached in his ongoing efforts to stop children from joining gang life will never hear his message. “Today I have requested a meeting with Governor Schwarzenegger. I will urge him to grant clemency and convert Tookie Williams’ sentence to life without possibility of parole. By granting clemency in this case he would be setting an example of courage over cowardice, of humanity over brutality. Commutation in this case would follow in the best traditions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Cesar Chavez. Gov. Schwarzenegger has the ability to come down on the right side of history and make it clear by this single act of courage that he remains committed to the principles of justice.   “I will also urge the Governor to halt all executions while the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice conducts a thorough study of the state’s criminal justice procedures. This Commission was formed by the state Senate in August 2004, ‘to study and review the administration of criminal justice in California to determine the extent to which that process has failed in the past, resulting in wrongful executions of innocent persons.’  There should be a moratorium on all executions pending the completion of this official governmental body’s investigation.”  The legislative findings will be presented to the Governor by December 31, 2007. 


Journalists In The Frame And Under Fire

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon

(Nov. 18, 2005) If journalism is the first draft of history, then the second draft
inevitably includes a re-evaluation of the media. Three events this weekend are set to stir up the tendency to reassess, with a focus mainly on photojournalists and television camera crews. These days, there's a renewed interest in how journalism gathers the news, matched only by heightened criticism of the media's failings. Yet the images of lone photojournalists travelling through foreign lands or camera crews holding their position in a besieged city maintain their integrity. All this remains, somehow, a special case. How far, though, does this hold true? Are photographers and camera crews more interested in building drama than simple truth-telling? Are they too quick to follow the constant rush for the next story? Steve McCurry would be one to ask. At 55, he's taken some of the world's most recognizable photos, and tomorrow he will be conducting a seminar at the University of Toronto about life as a photojournalist. Known mostly for his images for National Geographic, including his famous photo of a staring, beautiful Afghan girl, McCurry is a solitary documentarian -- almost like a tourist, he says. He shoots people with whom he feels a connection. Sometimes it's immediate. Sometimes the connection takes a little time. Yet in this way, his work stresses a certain humanitarianism. That's how he gets his best shots. "If you appreciate them, then people will respond positively [to being photographed]," McCurry says in a phone conversation from his home in New York. The downside, after more than 25 years of shooting in foreign lands, is that people expect a certain kind of image from him: of children and older people; of intimate moments in the world's farthest reaches. But some of his photos also have a sweeping, National Geographic-like scope.

McCurry acknowledges that some photo editors, too, ask for a particular look, or they will tell other photographers to take a "McCurry shot." Does this style, though, always accurately reflect the subject matter? Are editors trying for a certain effect that may not be entirely truthful? Some of these themes echo in French-American director Marcel Ophuls's The Troubles We've Seen: A Story of Journalism in War Time, a tour de force of foreign-correspondent soul-searching that screens Sunday afternoon at Cinematheque Ontario. Ophuls interviews seemingly everyone working or connected with Sarajevo when it was under attack, from freelance journalists holed up in the city to former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic himself. It's a fascinating look at reporters working in wartime. Throughout the film, Ophuls includes old movie clips, often musical bits from Hollywood films. It can be jarring, but it perfectly captures a certain irreverence all journalists have at times -- and that war correspondents particularly have in order to stay sane amid the danger and destruction. As the New York Times' John Burns said in an interview while in Sarajevo: "The fact is that if you are a newspaper reporter, inappropriate as it might be to say, this is a story that has everything. Everything you ever wanted." The film shows how differently a war can be covered from various perspectives. French camera crews were more interested in the human aspects of the war in the former Yugoslavia -- the little details such as a general's garden that became packed with birds because the trees in the city park had been chopped down for firewood. The British, though, were more removed and didn't want to be seen as compromising their objectivity. Approaching the story from multiple views, the director even interviews Martha Gellhorn, the grand dame of war reporting, who said that war is really as much about the endless hours of boredom after intense moments of terror. There is the long wait of simply sitting in tents and mud. Yet war correspondents are able to follow the action. "I think war correspondents are highly privileged and shouldn't be glorified," she said.

You can ponder this thought in another forum this weekend, as Ryerson's Image Arts Gallery exhibits some of the highlights from its collection of historical images from the New York-based Black Star photo agency. Following a timeline of world events from the First World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the actual photos aren't on exhibit, but replicas are projected on the wall and shown on interactive screens. Many of the iconic images appeared in Life magazine, and they are the kind of photojournalism long upheld as beyond reproach. But as time passes and new drafts of history are written, will we start to see these Life magazine shots in a different light? As Ophuls says in his film: "History never ends." Steve McCurry's full-day photography seminar is tomorrow at the University of Toronto's Medical Sciences Auditorium,  1 King's College Circle, 8:30 a.m., $90, call 416-927-0623. Cinematheque Ontario screens The Troubles We've Seen at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Art Gallery of Ontario's Jackman Hall, 317 Dundas St. W., call 416-968-FILM.  Ryerson's exhibit of highlights from its Black Star photography collection opens today at the university's Image Arts Gallery, 122 Bond St., 3rd Floor, Monday to Saturday 12 to 5 p.m.


Ray Nagin Looks To Jamaica For Love

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(Nov. 21, 2005) *New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says he is looking to
strengthen his city’s ties with Jamaica in continuing efforts to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.   "As we look to rebuild New Orleans, we are also looking to rebuild relationships and the first place that we are looking to rebuild and strengthen relationships is Jamaica," said Nagin, who is vacationing in Montego Bay with his wife Seletha and three children. Plans were already in place for New Orleans and Montego Bay to team for the staging of a food and music festival this month in the Jamaican city, when Katrina wiped out 80 percent of New Orleans in August. "The festival was supposed to kick off something big," said Nagin, who is staying at a private villa owned by Sandals chairman, Gordon 'Butch' Stewart. "We were planning to rotate this festival between Jamaica and New Orleans where we could bring the best music, the best food and the best people together and then, for example, take advantage of the tourism of both places." He noted that in addition to the festival, the hurricane also forced the postponement of a planned visit in August of a Montego Bay-based trade delegation to his city. Speaking to reporters at a brief ceremony hosted by Sandals Resorts, Nagin noted that Jamaica and New Orleans already share interests, particularly in the area of culture. "We both have unique characters, unique styles, wonderful food and, most importantly, wonderful people," he said. "The wonderful people you see when you go to Jamaica or New Orleans ... they make you feel welcome, they treat you like your brother or sister."

President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Horace Peterkin said at Friday's welcome ceremony for the Nagins that the trade delegation was to examine ways in which Montego Bay and New Orleans could establish long-term relations. "The invitation was for us to go there (New Orleans), get the businessmen to look at some investment opportunities in Jamaica and for discussion on the twinning of the cities," said Peterkin, who is also manager of one of Stewart's Sandals properties. Nagin said he was pleased with the massive rebuilding effort in his city, and noted that several annual cultural events, including Mardi Gras and the jazz festival, would return to the city next year. "We are moving in the right direction," he said. "The hotel industry is now up to 75 percent of its capacity and it should be up to 100 percent by year-end, and electricity has returned to almost 75 percent of the city." Nagin told the Jamaica Sunday Observer that Congress had appropriated $1.6 billion to assist in the recovery exercise. "But we are also pushing Congress for tax incentives for businesses and people to move back to the city," he said.



Yuk Yuk's Contest Punchline: $25,000

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman

(Nov. 23, 2005) No one will be wearing a black tie, but you could call it the Giller Prize of comedy. Mark Breslin, founder and ringmaster of Yuk Yuk's, has cooked up what he's calling "the great Canadian Laugh Off."  Comedians from all over Canada and the rest of the world — both professional and amateur — will compete for a grand prize of $25,000, and possibly a shot at fame and fortune.  "We live in a world of contests, and I thought this would be fun, and also a way to draw attention to live comedy."  I asked Breslin whether he has morphed into Jack Rabinovitch, founder of the Giller Prize.  "I don't think there's any chance I am going to be mistaken for Jack," says Breslin. Indeed, one of the features that makes this a clever deal is that Breslin does not have to write the big cheque. That will be taken care of by the Comedy Network, which gets a TV special out of the event.  Laugh-off finals will happen over eight nights in February at his company's flagship Toronto comedy club on Richmond St. W. in the Entertainment District. Juries will whittle 64 contestants to eight survivors who will compete on the final night.  "It's open to almost everyone," says Breslin. "The only rules are that you have to speak English. Mimes aren't eligible."

Shaq Parties ‘Downstairs’ With Payless

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(Nov. 21, 2005) *You gotta give it to Payless. The discount shoe company gets folks you’d never in your most feverish hallucination believe would
even step foot in the store, much less partner with them in business.  But alas, the chain that hired proud designer label-lover Star Jones Reynolds as a spokeswoman has signed an exclusive five-year deal with Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal to distribute his own signature Dunkman athletic shoe. While regular NBA signature shoes can sport prices in the triple digits, Dunkmans will be available beginning Dec. 1 at Payless ShoeSource for $39.99 (men) and $24.99 (kids).   "When I was a kid, I got a lot of my shoes at Payless," O'Neal said in a statement. "Now having kids of my own, I wanted to create a performance shoe that parents everywhere felt good about providing for their kids or themselves." The idea for the partnership came after Shaq was dissed by some random woman in Orlando who thought the price of his Reebok shoe was out of control.  “She was crying so much, I reached in my pocket and handed her some money," O'Neal told South Florida’s Sun Sentinel. But she didn't want money. Instead, she asked the ball player: "When is somebody going to make some shoes affordable?"  The Dunkman is licensed by Exeter Brands Group, a subsidiary of Nike. They feature a distinctive logo of Diesel dunking a basketball. "Nobody was doing the downstairs market," O'Neal said, referring to the Wal-Marts and K-Marts of the world. "See, you've got to realize this world we live in there's more downstairs people than there is up."

Bassett To Promote New Lotion For Black Women

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(Nov. 22, 2005) *Olay has announced that Angela Bassett will star in a
national television and print campaign to promote its new lotion product designed specifically for African American women.  Olay’s Quench Body Lotion, made with shea butter formula and an exclusive amino-vitamin formula to get at that ash, purports to eliminate the need for constant reapplication.   Bassett’s ad campaign, to premiere this month, will be handled by Burrell Communications, one of the nation's leading African-American owned full-service communications agencies.  "Angela Bassett personifies the kind of woman who buys Olay products. She has ageless beauty and an aura of sophistication but she's also very likable and real, a very rare combination," said Brenda Blonski, senior vice president/group creative director at Burrell. "Research shows African-American women have different skin conditions and behaviours as it relates to how they use beauty products. Burrell's consumer insight and innovation will develop specific messages about Olay products that should have amazing appeal and resonance among African-American women," adds L.T. Cushon-Dillard, vice president/account director, who is also a beauty and skincare expert at Burrell.  In addition to the Olay ads, Bassett will next be seen in the film “Akeelah and the Bee” opposite her “Boyz N the Hood” co-star, Laurence Fishburne.

Canadian Authors Make The Dublin Long List

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
- By Rebecca Caldwell

(Nov. 23, 2005) Toronto — A handful of Canadian authors -- including Globe and Mail columnist Russell Smith and 2004 Governor-General's Award-winner Miriam Toews -- have made it to the long list of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the world's richest prize for literature with a purse of €100,000 ($138,500). Revealed yesterday in Dublin, the long list of 132 books was selected by libraries in 43 countries.  Among the Canadian nominees are: Wayson Choy for All That Matters, Trevor Cole for Norman Bray in the Performance of his Life, Greg Hollingshead for Bedlam, Robert Hough for The Stowaway, Joel Hynes for Down to the Dirt, Beth Powning for The Hatbox Letters, Smith for Muriella Pent, Toews for A Complicated Kindness, Thomas Wharton for The Logogryph, Michael Winter for The Big Why and Richard B. Wright for Adultery. Other nominees include Alan Hollinghurst for The Line of Beauty, Marilynne Robinson for Gilead and Andrea Levy for Small Island. The short list will be announced on April 5. The winner will be announced on June 14.




The Real Secret To Achieving Your Fitness Goals

(November 21, 2005) Call me whatever you want. Personal Trainer, Sports Performance Coach, Strength and Conditioning Specialist; all are just variations on the same theme. Regardless, I have achieved a level of authority by devoting myself to the study of human physiology and how it responds to various forms of exercise. It's what I do. It's who I am. Before I got where I am now, I was like most people. Probably a lot like you.



Motivational Note: 5 Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Stress

1) You can’t take back unkind words or reckless actions. Before you say or do the wrong thing, (i.e. overspend, overeat, over drink, overreact, lose your reputation, lose time, lose your temper or lose your mind), ask yourself, “is it really necessary?”