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Updated:  October 20, 2005

Hello again everyone!  This is a special week as I'm including an exclusive LE interview with Canada's rising comedic star, Russell Peters.  Great news on the music scene, Kanye West is coming to town on November 9!  Get your tickets now! 
This week there's a lot of Canadian news is all categories so check it out - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll!  This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out


Interview With Russell Peters

As released in last week’s edition of my newsletter, the hot news is out that
comedian Russell Peters is the next great Canadian to plant some roots stateside.  Russell’s comedy has been so popular in this country that it has landed him 4 Gemini Awards (Canada’s answer to the Emmy Awards). Most recently, he was nominated at the Canadian Comedy Awards for Best Male Comic.  He has recently signed a television deal with Warner Bros. Television to develop his own sitcom, which is scheduled to be aired in the fall of 2006.  

Look for Russell’s performances tonight and tomorrow in Toronto
(Thursday, October 20 and Friday, October 21) at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts and in Mississauga on Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23 at The Living Arts Centre.  

I had the opportunity to sit down with Russell at Lobby Lounge and Restaurant at 192 Bloor Street W. this week (  My thanks to his brother/manager, Clayton Peters and publicist Danielle Iversen (all pictured right) for hooking up this interview.

LE:             Most people know your special brand of comedy and that it embraces unique influxes of racial humour directed at stereotypes.  How did it come about that you got on board with Tom Werner (Carsey-Werner) and his new associates Jimmy Miller and Eric Gold who are set up at Warner Bros. Television?

Russell:  I don’t actually know how it came together – we have theories on how it came together.  A lady named Kathleen Litery (sp) came to one of my shows at the Laugh Factory in June and she became a fan.  She was having lunch with Jimmy Miller and Eric Gold and she mentioned my name.  They did some investigation and found out that Jimmy Miller’s son, who’s 13, was already a fan.  Basically, that sealed the deal I think. 

Jim Carrey’s people are the ones producing my show. Jimmy Miller and Eric Gold are Jim Carrey’s managers as well as Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell.  They are the elite of the elite as far as managers go. 

LE:             What exactly is a talent development deal in the U.S.? 

Russell:  They are going to develop a sitcom around me, for me.  I am story editing and creative consulting. 

LE:             What can we look forward to, based on a current format?  I saw a reference to Ray Romano.

Russell:  No, that’s the way we thought it was going to go initially.  We’re not doing a family-based sitcom, we’re doing a workplace sitcom.  It’s not an office though.  It’s more of a relaxed work atmosphere. 

LE:             What’s the most exciting aspect of the deal for you? 

Russell:  Right now, this is all the exciting part.  Every day it’s more exciting.  First, you hear that these guys are interested then the second thing is they propose an offer.  Then you accept the offer then they fly you in and you meet with them and then they come up with an idea and they find a writer.  You know, this whole process is fun right now.

                    I’m sure casting is going to be even more fun because they’re going to build a really solid cast around me. 

LE:             Do they have ideas as to who they’re going to cast or can you say?

Russell:  Well, they’ve dropped some names and I was quite impressed with the names they dropped. 

LE:             Who are some of the people that you’ll be working with behind the scenes? 

Russell:  My writer as it stands right now is Tom Brady – he was a writer on The Simpsons, he wrote The Hot Chick and The Animal.  He also used to write on Home Improvement.

LE:             And that’s right up your alley as far as to the style of your comedy.  What about the timing of this?

Russell:  Well, it’s been 16 years in the making really.  It’s multi-ethnic, multicultural.  It will be very much styled around my act.  So, there will be no apologies.

LE:             That’s how Ray Romano got started – Everybody Loves Raymond was based on his stand-up.

Russell:  Mine will have a little bit more of an edge to it.  (laughs)

LE:             Does this new deal mean that you’ll be touring less and living between Toronto and LA? 

Russell:  I think as soon as we get the first pilot episode written, then the touring will have to stop for a minute.  When I can tour, I will.  

LE:             Speaking of the tour, where will you be after the Canadian tour?

Russell:  I’m between the two, I’m here, I’m there (U.S.).  The Canadian tour is the Canadian tour but then we’re doing other U.S. dates as well. 

I’m doing the
HBO Vegas Comedy Festival in November.  It’s the first year for it – (Jerry) Seinfeld will be there, (Dave) Chappelle will be there, I’ll be there, Ricky Gervais will be there from The Office. 

LE:             Are you weirded out by all this?

Russell:  No, you know why I’m not?  Because when I show up at these events, nobody really fawns over me because all these other guys are there.  So, it’s kind of cool because I still get to be the fly on the wall. 

LE:             So, the plan is to become a comedic superstar – who’s your favourite comedic superstar? 

Russell:  I don’t want to say that’s the plan, but I guess it is the plan.  I mean, George Carlin is the guy I always liked.  But, you know, he could walk through a mall and not everyone would know who he is.  I mean, I think he’s a brilliant comic.  All the old school cats I really dug – that’s why I got into it. 

LE:             What pieces of advice do you give someone who wants to become a comedian? 

Russell:  Don’t steal material.  It’s like wearing another man’s underwear – why would you do that?  I’ll give you the same advice that George Carlin gave me – get on stage as much as possible, no matter what.  The more you get on stage, the better you get, the more it helps.  And if you bomb, that’s not a bad thing.  Bombing’s good for you because it shows you how you don’t want to feel. 

LE:             Other than George Carlin, who are some of your other influences - not just in comedy but also musicians, etc. 

Russell:  I’m a hip hop junkie.  I’ve been listening to the music for over 20 years.  That’s very much shaped who I am, and the way I think, how I look at things and how I dress, how I carry myself.

LE:             Canadian artists, who’s your favourite on the urban scene?

Russell:  Kardinal, Saukrates – those guys are really talented.  Kardinal’s got some really hot songs and Saukrates is an all-round artist, as far as producer, musician, artist, rapper, singer.  And kos as well.  I mean, all these guys, they all really do their thing and they don’t really try to do the U.S. thing – they’re trying to do their own thing.  I think that’s the key to success – when you do ‘you’. 

LE:             Yes exactly, and I think this is the reason why this break has come for you.  You’ve got a unique brand of comedy with a global appeal.  We have a very  unique experience here in Canada.  What’s been one of the highlights of your career?

Russell:  Headlining the world famous Apollo Theatre in April.  That was a real buzz.  I sold it out and I tell you something, I was so in the zone, and the show went so well, I really didn’t want to get off the stage that night.  I did exactly one hour but I really wanted to stay.  It was the fact that it was the Apollo, 1,500 (sold out) seats, but it was the Apollo.  Everybody’s performed there.  I mean, considering that I grew up listening to Black music, every Black artist has performed there.  So, I felt like I was in the shadow of greatness the whole night. 

LE:             How is your (Indian) community embracing your success?

Russell:  My community right now is at the height of my support – they’re right there with me and I couldn’t be more happy about that.  There’s nothing better than getting accepted by your own people.  It’s better when other people accept you too - it makes it all the more sweeter.

LE:             In your travels, what country stood out the most to you?

Russell:  South Africa always.  I love it – it’s beautiful, it’s hot. Durban, specifically.  The culture - everything, it’s really cool over there – they’ve got the Indian Ocean right there. 

LE:             What’s in your CD player right now?

Russell:  I got this really dope mixed tape from LA, it’s called Jon Moskowitz Presents Blue Eyes Meets Bed-Stuy.  Some guy took Frank Sinatra songs and mixed Biggie over it.  It’s ridiculous!  The Little Brother album is also very good – a solid album.

LE:             If you could work with any artist (living or past), who would they be?

Russell:  I would like to look out for my brown brothers and do something with Ben Kingsley or Engelbert Humperdinck – those are both my brown brothers.

LE:             What do you want people to remember you for? 

Russell:  Being first.  Trailblazing.  I didn’t set out to become that but when you find out that you are that, it’s even cooler to know.  There were other Indian guys that may have tried it before me, but then I found one guy was Trinidadian posing as an Indian, one guy was Iranian posing as an Indian.  I’m the real deal baby!  (laughs) So, it’s really cool that I’m the first.  And like Grandmaster Flash said - it doesn’t matter who comes after me or who’s better than me, the fact of the matter is that I was the first.

What a year!  Russell Peters is certainly on the fast track to success – if you can call 16 years of hard work and intensive touring, fast!  Russell’s star continues to shine as he performs before sold-out crowds from Toronto to New York to LA.  I’m so proud of Russell for breaking through in such a tough industry. Stay tuned to my newsletter for further updates on Russell’s career. 






Kanye West In Concert – November 9, 2005

No matter who you are or where you lived - if you owned a radio, television, computer or CD player, you felt Kanye West’s presence.  Since the release of his 3 million selling, critically acclaimed-debut The College Dropout, the Chicago-born 28 year old rapper/producer/hip-hop icon has been at the top of the charts and at the top of his game. From the red carpet of the 47th Grammys - where he topped all nominees with a historic ten nods and took home awards for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song and Best R&B song - to the millions of albums sold, a sold-out stadium tour with Usher, and his ubiquitous presence on MTV, BET, CNN, and radio stations nationwide, West grew from being an artist to watch to an artist you experience.  

This tour also features special guests Fantasia and Keyshia Cole.

…one of the better sounding rap records in history…widely expected to be the biggest selling record of the year
                              -  TIME Magazine

Late Registration…is the most dynamic and original album of the fall – maybe even the year.”
                                -  Newsweek

with special guests Fantasia and Keyshia Cole
Air Canada Centre
40 Bay St.
Doors: 6:30pm
Show:  7:30pm
Tickets (incl. GST) $69.50, $59.50 and $45.50 (plus convenience fees and CRF)
8 ticket limit
Tickets available at all Ticketmaster outlets and at the Air Canada Centre Box Office
Call 416-870-8000 to charge by phone
Or order online at





Motivational Note: Keep Swinging

By Willie Jolley, Host of the “Willie Jolley Motivational Minute” syndicated radio show

(Oct. 18, 2005) Hank Aaron had twice as many strikeouts as he had home runs, but he still hit more homers than anyone else! He was not perfect but he was excellent. I say that you should strive for excellence and not perfection because excellence allows you to constantly better your best. A.L. Williams said it best: “All you can do and all you can do is enough. Just make sure that all you can do is absolutely all that you can do is absolutely all you can do!” Martin Luther King, Jr. put it so wonderfully when he said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’” Strive for excellence, not perfection, and always try to better you best! Visit for more information.







Feist Charm Attack Helped By Band

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Tabassum Siddiqui, Entertainment Reporter

(Oct. 19, 2005) During her time playing local dives not that long ago, singer/songwriter-turned-indie It Girl Leslie Feist used to have to berate the sparse crowds for not acknowledging her blistering guitar solos.  How times have changed: during the first of two sold-out hometown shows at the Danforth Music Hall on Monday night, the smitten audience often cheered even before she played the first notes of a song.  It's been a while since Toronto could claim Feist as our own — the Calgary-bred singer has skyrocketed to success with the crossover appeal of her Let It Die album since moving from here to Paris a few years ago — but with 1,200-strong shoehorned into the grand old hall, the evening was a welcome back to remember.  It's not like she needs anything more than her voice — a remarkable, elastic thing of dark beauty — and big red electric guitar to enthrall a crowd. But after nearly two years on the road touring behind Let It Die, Feist has clearly learned how to effectively administer a charm attack.  Taking the darkened stage holding a sparkler, Feist, clad all in white, used a looping effect to layer her vocals — a technique repeated to stunning effect throughout the show — as she sang a capella in advance of her band joining her on stage.  This trio, which includes Apostle of Hustle bassist Julian Brown, recently replaced Feist's Parisian touring band. The switch has breathed new life into her stage show, stripping away the studio polish of the Let It Die tunes and taking them back to their roots.  Alternating between favourites from the album (lovely flourishes of horns and xylophone brought out new colours in "Gatekeeper") and promising new songs (the bossa nova-esque "Fighting Away the Tears" was particularly delightful) due to be recorded in the new year, Feist displayed why she was able to draw everyone from hipsters to soccer moms, coaxing them all into singing harmonies and clapping along to the beat.

The one-two punch of the slinky "One Evening" ("This song is one that's close to a lot of people's hearts. It's about one-night stands. Though maybe it's not their hearts that it's close to") and rustic anthem "Mushaboom" would have been a nearly perfect way to end the night. Instead she closed with a groove-laden version of the Nina Simone classic "See-Line Woman", showcasing her uncanny ability to transform a cover song into something inimitably her own.  "Oh, city that I'm trying to pretend isn't filled with home-ness," Feist had quipped off the top. No reason for the nerves; no matter where her current rise may take her, she's already sung her way into our hearts.




Broken Social Scene Is The Hub Of A Booming Local Empire

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Tabassum Siddiqui, Toronto Star

(Oct. 15, 2005) Trying to describe Broken Social Scene to the uninitiated can be like introducing your extended, blended family:  There's this band, see? They're from around here, you know?  Sometimes it seems like most musicians in Toronto are part of this multi-headed beast — chanteuse du jour Leslie Feist sometimes sings with them. Practically all of the members of Montreal/Toronto Stars like to get up on stage with the group. Then there's Broken Social Scene guitarist Andrew Whiteman, who's got his own Latin-tinged Apostle of Hustle side project.  These are big names on the global cultural scene, where Canadian indie rock clearly rules. Yet with the release this past week of the long-awaited eponymous follow-up to their 2002 breakthrough album, You Forgot It In People, Broken Social Scene sits at an interesting crossroads: the house they built for their extended local indie-rock family is bursting at the seams.  Arts & Crafts, the independent record company founded by BSS's Kevin Drew and former major-label staffers Jeffrey Remedios and Daniel Cutler, has gone from being a leap of faith between pals to the indie-label-that-could in three short years, thanks to some creative thinking, savvy promotions and one simple concept: keep it (mostly) all in the family.  "All of our acts pretty much have come from attrition — if you're going to start a label, I highly recommend you start it with Broken Social Scene as your first band," Remedios says, laughing. "We put out 10 records without ever leaving the family."

Forget all the hype about the Montreal scene — the genesis of the current indie explosion can be found right here in Toronto circa the late '90s, when many of the players who would go on to be part of the Broken nexus were honing their chops in various other bands.  BSS co-founder Brendan Canning and Feist perfected their rock moves in By Divine Right, Andrew Whiteman learned a thing or two about working with a large collective in the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir and BSS guitarist Jason Collett quietly played his bruised ballads in teacup-sized rooms to whomever would listen. That they would all come together under the Arts & Crafts umbrella a few years later wasn't due to coincidence, but to community — which, as it happens, was the founding premise of the label.  Remedios was introduced to Drew by Canning when the duo started BSS as a lo-fi basement recording project in 2000. During their first encounter, he and Drew argued about indie versus major labels, Remedios recalls — he and Cutler were still working for Virgin Music at the time. The two struck up a friendship and became roommates just as BSS morphed into a full-band entity and started recording You Forgot It In People (YFIIP) in 2002.  "As I got to know Kevin and Brendan and all these people around them, I was like, `My God, you guys are at the centre of this artistic community of all these people. If you guys came together in name, wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? It would be like a little miniature Group of Seven, or something like that.'"  But instead of going it on their own, BSS turned to their friends at start-up indie label Paper Bag Records. Paper Bag put out YFIIP to much acclaim, and followed it up a few months later with Heart, Star's breakthrough release. But Remedios was ready to take things to the next level, and decided to quit his job at Virgin to start up Arts & Crafts with Cutler and Drew.  Remedios, 30, and Cutler, 31, currently oversee the day-to-day operations of the label — Remedios juggles management, promotion, accounting and web development duties, while Cutler handles sales, marketing, publishing and licensing.

Seated side by side at a College St. café where every second person seems to recognize them, they are an interesting study in contrasts.  Sporting a tweed jacket, the curly-haired, composed Cutler sits back and lets the gregarious Remedios — looking every inch the indie-rocker himself in a graphic print T-shirt with a jaunty scarf tied around his neck just so — do most of the talking.  And it's just as well. From the time he sits down to when we leave 90 minutes later, Remedios can't stop talking — about the label, their bands, their plans, hopes, fears and dreams.  One begins to understand how he started at Virgin at 19 and made his way through practically every department in the company before he left while in his 20s.  The two have used their experience at the majors to their advantage — A&C was one of the first indies in Canada to sign a distribution deal with a major label (EMI, Virgin's parent company) to get their records into as many stores as possible, a move that has since become an industry no-brainer.  "We were going to keep things independently minded and indie-focused, but we were going to `cheat' — we were going to use certain major-label ideas," Remedios explains.  And they thought big. Despite looking inwards for acts to sign — releasing solo records by BSS members Collett, Feist and Whiteman and picking up Stars from Paper Bag — A&C set its sights on international markets, particularly the U.S.  "What sets it apart from most Canadian indie labels is that it focuses much of its activities outside Canada — more so than any label I've seen in several decades," says Larry Leblanc, Canadian bureau chief of Billboard magazine. He notes that A&C is the first Canadian indie label to make an international impact since Vancouver-based Nettwerk Productions (home to Sarah McLachlan) in 1984.  "When we started the company, Daniel and I sat down and said, `What's the best thing we can do to be a great Canadian label?' and it was like, `Well, don't just be a Canadian label.'  "We can pick up the phone and call Rolling Stone as easily as we can call Exclaim ... So let's call both. So right away, we went for U.S. distribution, and set up as a U.S. company, and said, `We can do this,' " Remedios says.

"When it's a positive reaction, and it happens in Canada, it's a ripple. When it happens in the U.S., it's a wave. It's the same approach, but the reward is larger in terms of recognition and sales," Cutler adds.  Critics and music fans all over the world have taken to A&C's grassroots approach — from their signature CD artwork, to giving fans access to artists via their online forum.  It's not fame and fortune just yet — the label's biggest seller to date remains YFIIP, with 150,000 copies sold worldwide, mostly in the U.S. Modest numbers but they're getting there.  Paris-based It Girl Feist's two Juno wins and across-the-board appeal have made her a bonafide breakout star. Stars are the current ace in A&C's pocket — their Set Yourself on Fire album, released last year, shows no signs of slowing down, with radio and TV embracing the band: their Reunion video sits atop the MuchMoreMusic chart this week, and they've been played three times on popular U.S. drama The O.C.)  A tour with indie-rock deities Death Cab for Cutie is on tap this fall.  This past year has seen numerous new branches sprout on the family tree — young Milton sextet The Most Serene Republic, the label's first non-BSS signing, are injecting a spunky energy into the fold. The label signed its first international artists this summer with Australian songstress Sally Seltmann, stage named New Buffalo, and U.S. indie veterans American Analog Set (another family tie, with AAS frontman Andrew Kenney engaged to A&C's U.S. publicist).  "By (initially) keeping it close to the family, fans of BSS were drawn to the other releases, thus creating an immediate fanbase," says Evan Newman, head of new indie label Baudelaire and a long-time observer of the local scene.  "Without A&C backing a band like MSR, it's doubtful the band would have risen so quickly to the top of the indie ranks. Their affiliation with A&C has allowed them instant credibility," Newman adds. "It's not as if MSR don't deserve it — it's just that their label has allowed them to achieve it quicker."  Australian singer Seltmannconcurs that A&C's reputation is their calling card. "I kept hearing good things about them and their acts, so when they approached me about putting out my record, I felt like it would be a good fit," she says.

With all their acts shining bright, you'd think the A&C crew would be basking in the glow. But the same earnest, almost anxious vibe that marks BSS's difficult, epic music is echoed in Remedios and Cutler's uneasy reaction to the label's burgeoning success.  "The biggest thing we've had to deal with is not becoming a cliché — in many ways the good times are killing us," Remedios frets. "The temptation to rest on laurels is there and I think that's where all these companies fail. "We're not in a rush. We're trying to build careers, we're not trying to climb the ladder and break the rungs as we go.  "It's about finding a little corner where interesting, creative artists can have room to create and subsist while they do so. And the fruits of that kind of stuff you only see when you get to this point where we've put out 14 records," adds Remedios. "Here we have the new Broken album — we're about to ship 10 times more albums than we have for any other release," Cutler chimes in. "We're going to have to spend a little more money, and it's taking more of our time, more of our energy, but it's important to step back and remember to take the same approach we did when we shipped 3,000 albums for the first record."  With a skeleton staff of six stretched to the max at its Toronto office, contract staffers holding down the fort in the U.S., and a joint A&C Europe venture with like-minded label City-Slang in Berlin, A&C is set to stay in the indie spotlight well into the future.  BSS will embark on a world tour this month (look for an all-star extended-family extravaganza in January) with new member, Calgary's Lisa Lobsinger, along for the ride. The band will also release another CD next year, while Stars singer Amy Millan's long-delayed solo record and a new collection of b-sides and live songs from Feist (who's sold-out Monday and Tuesday, with New Buffalo and Collett, at the Danforth Music Hall) will hit stores this spring.  "There's all this talent coming out of Toronto, out of this community. It was a bit of luck — a lot of luck — that it all came about at this time, and we got in on the ground floor of what became this incredible groundswell," Remedios points out.  "It's a great time to be a Canadian band, it's a great time to be a Canadian label — it's just really exciting.  "It was this community that we found ourselves standing in, and thinking, `My God, if we could shop this to the world, I think the world would listen.' And it has."




24 Hours On The Road With Nickelback

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Angela Pacienza, Canadian Press

Reporter Angela Pacienza traveled with
Nickelback Thursday as they hopped across the country in one day. Here is her blog starting from start to exhausting finish.

 HALIFAX, 6:20 a.m.
(Oct. 14, 2005) Here's how it's going to work. I'm with about 30 other media types, including MuchMusic and eTalk Daily, who are flying across the country with Nickelback, their crew and about 45 fans on a 24-hour whirlwind promotion tour in a WestJet sponsored airplane. We're heading to Vancouver but not before stopping in Toronto and Calgary for mini-concerts, press conferences and autographing sessions.  The idea is pretty basic: The music label has created a publicity gimmick that it's hoping will get the most bang for their marketing money. I, meanwhile, want to get a glimpse at a rock band backstage and unscripted. (I also have to collect quotes and facts for several articles on the band during the trip.)
Westin Hotel, 7 a.m.
We've had breakfast and are promptly shepherded into buses for the trip to the airport. An EMI rep took attendance - I feel like I'm back in grade school. The band is nowhere in sight. Seems they stayed at a hotel across town for a little privacy.
Airport, 7:45 a.m.
The first event and already we're already a half-hour behind schedule. Rock stars, I tell ya. Chad band arrive looking haggard and wearing dark shades. I'm told they were partying into the night after celebrating their No. 1 debut in Canada and the U.S. with chocolate cakes with little No. 1 candles and plenty of boozing and gambling at the Halifax casino.
 8:30 a.m.
Back on the buses after a mini-press conference with local media and about 200 bleary-eyed fans.  ''I know it's awfully early but we're here for all the right reasons right?'' MuchMusic VJ Matt Babel asked the crowd.  I'm afraid I'm going to hear more phrases like that today. See Nickelback's album is called All The Right Reasons. Get it?  We spot our first fanatic female admirer. She's waving a ''Nickelback Makes My Panties Wet'' sign.  Chad asks to have it and she gladly parts with it.  ''It's a little early in the morning for that but I like it,'' he says.  Next we're driven to a private tarmac where our jet awaits. We climb onboard without any of the usual security measures. Guess when you're a VIP you get to bypass all that procedural stuff.
 Flight 8301, 39528 ft in the air, 9:05 a.m.
A stewardess is handing out champagne & OJ for a toast. The 40 contest winners onboard clearly love it and are hooting and hollering.  After, some nice statements from the WestJet folks welcoming fans, media and the band, Chad grabs the mic.  ''I'll be taking over this flight," he declares.  ''Those of you who brought marijuana on board . . . make your way to the front. I'll find a lighter.''
 On the ground in Toronto, about 2:15 p.m.
After another meet-greet with fans at HMV and a 20-minute concert at the MuchMusic studios we're back on the buses to head to the airport. The band is travelling in three SUVs and the rest of us - media and fans - are on two of those large Greyhound-style buses. Elton John's Candle In The Wind is playing. And playing loud. Quite a contrast to the thrashing metal guitars during Nickelback's set. An EMI rep realizes the error and quickly inserts one of the band's DVD.  We've got a police escort to whisk us back to the airport to try to catch a 3 p.m. flight. It's bumper-to-bumper in downtown Toronto yet the flashing cherries on the cruisers clear the highways so our drivers can push the pedal to the metal as we head to our private tarmac just outside Pearson.  ''I feel like O.J.," shouts one radio reporter at the front of the bus.  ''It's hot,'' cheers another.  Still we're running about 1/2-an-hour late and it's clearly got EMI folks concerned. Seems Transport Canada has strict rules about flight schedules and no one, not even rock stars, have the clout needed to reroute planes.
 3:10 p.m.
We're on the plane. Waiting.
 3:35 p.m.
More waiting. Smart WestJet staffers have turned on the inflight TVs (each seat has an individual one) so I'm watching music videos.
 3:45 p.m.
We're finally moving on the tarmac.
 3:55 p.m.
We have lift-off. About an hour behind schedule.  The mood on this leg of the trip is definitely calmer. The day is finally catching up to us. Media are told the band wants to get some shut-eye so they won't do interviews for at least two hours. In the meantime, a group of us quiz a WestJet executive about the cost of such a cross-Canada trip. Says it would cost about $9,000 per hour in the air to charter our own flight, plus airport costs at each end of the trip. I figure we'll have been airborne for at least 7-1/2 hours. Lucky for Nickelback and the label, WestJet's footing the bill. With national media like MuchMusic, Entertainment Tonight, Canadian Press, Associated Press and others onboard, the publicity is worth the expense.  At the back of the plane, the fans are happily enjoying the rock star treatment and don't appear the least bit fatigued. And hey, why not? The cheerful flight attendants are being very forthcoming with beer and those little mini booze bottles.  I'm reminded of that part in Almost Famous where Creem Magazine editor Lester Bangs (played by the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman) offers the Cameron Crowe character the following advice for when travelling with rock stars.  ''They'll buy you drinks, you'll meet girls, they'll try to fly you places for free, offer you drugs . . . they are not your friends. These are people who want you to write sanctimonious stories about the genius of the rock stars, and they will ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it."
 Somewhere between Toronto and Calgary, 40,000 feet in the air.
I snag a couple of minutes in the cockpit with captain Dale Meyer, a 16-year veteran from Calgary. The view of the fluffy white clouds is spectacular.  He says the flight is a first for him.  ''I've done charters but not this crazy,'' he says.  So how does a celebrity-chartered jet rate compared with flying the regular folks?  ''It's definitely a lot more fun," he says.  And challenging, he's quick to add.  ''Usually on a regular day everything is set up for us . . . (today) not everything is at it should be. It's the rock star way.''
Most of the band is up and at work doing the media rounds although frontman Chad Kroeger remains curled up over three seats of his row. Each member has an aisle at the front of the plane to himself. We reporters shuffle our way up with our gear.  Luckily everyone is upbeat despite the cramped quarters.  New drummer Daniel Adair is pushing beer on the bleary-eyed reporters as they plop down next to him.  ''This is great,'' he beams, clutching his Molson Canadian.  Guitarist Ryan Peake tries to downplay the glamour of the trip, saying they're not usually this ''show off-ey.''  ''We're extremely off the mark. This is crazy,'' he says.  Getting back into my seat, Rick Campanelli of Entertainment Tonight tells me: ''I love the vibe on this plane. All these cameras are great.''  I ask David Giammarco of eTalk Daily how this adventure compares with one he took earlier this year with Tom Cruise. The actor was jet-setting around the globe to push his War of the Worlds flick.  ''There are fewer Scientologists,'' he tells me.
 On the ground in Calgary, 5:40 p.m. at an airport hangar at the Calgary International Airport
After four hours in the air we arrive in Calgary. There are yelps and hollers from the back of the plane - it's those fans again. Tired yet? ''Hell no!'' a group tells me. It's daylight outside although we all feel like it's waaaaay past dinnertime. We've been together about nine hours now.  A mob of 1,400 revellers - the biggest crowd so far - has won tickets to this invite-only concert. They're eager for a loud rock show. Lots of chanting ''Nickelback.'' The band looks like they want to take a nap but deboard the plane with professional smiles nonetheless. More Q&As with local reporters on a makeshift red carpet next to the Boeing jet.

 7:15 p.m.
We're all waiting (roadies are prepping the gear). Fans are getting antsy. It's chilly inside the hangar and some have been standing for hours waiting for our slightly-behind-schedule flight (the pilots made up time in the air but we're still running about an hour behind.)  I meet a group who are bored and decide they now hate Nickelback. ''This sucks,'' one girls tells me. Fans are so fickle.
 Somewhere between Calgary and Vancouver:
We've left Calgary and the fatigue is starting to show on everyone. The eyes are red. We're all moving a little more slowly.  I think Chad senses the fans might be flagging so he grabs the intercom microphone from a flight attendant who's about to explain how the oxygen masks work (for the umpteenth time today) and shouts ''Let's go to Vancouver! I'll fly this bird myself!'' The fans go crazy. There's a couple of hollers to the effect of: ''The back loves you Chad!'' The four WestJet flight attendants are now sporting signs on the back of their vests: ''We (heart) Nickelback.'' One of them, Joe, explains there is lots of beer on-board.  Someone up front shouts: ''Can I get a Caesar to Row 7?"  A few cheers go up and the flying party is back in business.  Band members finally make their way to the back of the plane armed with black markers. The fans are in absolute heaven as Chad, Ryan, Dan and Mike individually greet each one. MuchMusic is capturing it all for a special. At this point, after collecting a couple more bodies in Calgary, there's a total of 46 fans having a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Entertainment Tonight, MuchMusic and eTalk do their final live hits to assess the success of the flight. All in all everyone's got a positive review of the trip although I'm still not certain why small-town Alberta boys needed to charter a private jet to tell the country they have a new record.  Guess they want to sell lots and lots and lots of units.  I put the question to Chad.  ''In all honesty it allows us to talk to the press and meet fans all across Canada in one day. We could do this huge press trip that would take like a week . . . or we could make a spectacle of it and try to do something cool."  And he says it again: ''And honestly, just get it all out of the way.''  At least he's being honest.  After this trip, the band is off to the U.S. for a show with Audioslave and then they hit Europe and Southeast Asia for overseas press. They say they'll be back in Canada in January for a tour.
 On the ground, Vancouver, 9:15 p.m.:
We've just landed (yay!) and it's dark and cold outside. Thank god. Three times up. Three times down. The landings are exhausting. Chad, Dan, Mike and Ryan don't look so hot either. Their eyes are red and the bags are forming underneath.  On the tarmac we're all bleary eyed as we collect all our bags and get set for the final destination - HMV on Robson Street to meet with more fans.
 Around 10 p.m.:
More pictures with fans. There are about 200 bodies at the store waiting for the band who continue to run behind schedule. It's been the story all day.  Reporters stand on the street trying to assess whether they'll make it to the after party at Roxy nightclub. After all, most of us still have to file stories.  I decide to call it a night. In an hour I'll have been awake for 24 hours and my body is calling out for rest.  I've heard the single Photograph about seven times now. It's starting to really grow on me . . . have I been brainwashed?




Reggae Updates From Jamaica: Sean Paul

Excerpt from - by Kevin Jackson

(October 13, 2005) Sean Paul sets a new record for reggae artistes with first week sales of The Trinity. Following on the heels of Damian Junior Gong
Marley’s spectacular debut at number seven on the Billboard 200 album chart three weeks ago with his Welcome to Jamrock album, Sean Paul’s latest disc The Trinity has also landed in the same position. The Trinity stormed in at number seven with first week sales of over 107,000 copies, making it the biggest one week sales burst for any Jamaican reggae artiste on the Billboard 200.  Welcome to Jamrock held the record three weeks ago, when it sold over 86,000 copies in its first week of release. Sean Paul is the fourth Jamaican reggae act to score a top 10 album on the Billboard 200. In 2001 Shaggy went to number one with Hot Shot, while the late reggae icon Bob Marley, peaked at number eight in 1976 with Rasta man Vibration. Sean Paul’s publicist and booking agent Jerome Hamilton of Headline Entertainment was obviously overjoyed at the debut of The Trinity. ‘Sean had been working hard on this album. He did almost three months of promotion before it was released and he has been on the road promoting it. A strong album from a strong artist with a strong team behind him.  In the space of three weeks we have seen two Jamaican reggae acts debut in the Top 10 of the Billboard album chart. It just goes to prove that our culture is out biggest export, and I hope that this will spur the world on Jamaican music some more. I do hope that this is a wake up call for people to see what our music is about’, commented Mr. Hamilton.  “This is proof that Jamaican music from Jamaica can do well. I am pleased for myself and more for the Jamaican culture. I hope that Damian Marley and others will continue to do well. This is proof that undiluted Jamaican music can stand up against any other music in the world,” Sean Paul commented.

The success of The Trinity has been fuelled by the Billboard chart hit We Be Burnin which up to last week was number 20 on Billboard’s R&B Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart, and number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The massive first week burst of The Trinity was enough to catapult the disc to the top of Billboard’s Reggae Album chart, and fuel a number four debut on Billboard’s R&B Hip Hop Album chart. In sharp contrast, Sean Paul’s last album Dutty Rock debuted at number 26 in 2002 with first week sales of just over 60,000 copies.  It went on to peak at number nine. To date it has sold over 2.6 million copies in the US.  The next single from The Trinity is the Stephen ‘Lenky’ Marsden-produced Ever Blazing. The track was a local hit three years ago on the Masterpiece rhythm. The video for the song was shot on location in New York on Sunday. Additionally, the success of The Trinity and We Be Burnin are not restricted to the US.  We Be Burnin which debuted at number two on the UK Singles chart three weeks ago, is Top 10 on the charts in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Holland and Switzerland.  Over in Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden, We Be Burnin is registering Top 20 positions on the charts. The Trinity debuted at number 11 on the UK Album chart last week but it fell to number 22 on the weekend. It has shipped Silver in the UK, gold in Canada and is expected to be certified gold in Japan (sales of over 100,000 copies). 




New Jamie Foxx CD Is 'Unpredictable'

Excerpt from

(October 18, 2005) NEW YORK -- Academy award-winning actor and Grammy Award-nominated singer and songwriter Jamie Foxx -- currently riding high on pop, R&B, and rap charts as Kanye West's guest on his #1 single "Gold Digger" -- is near completion of UNPREDICTABLE, his first album for J Records.  Foxx's new album, featuring guest appearances by Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Pharrell Williams, Ludacris, and Twista, will arrive in stores December 6th on J Records, a division of SONY BMG Music Entertainment. The official first single will be the album's title track "Unpredictable," featuring rap phenomenon Ludacris and will impact radio on November 7th. "Unpredictable" was written by Harold Lilly and produced by Unusual Suspects. In addition to Ludacris, Jamie has enlisted a number of artists, producers and songwriters as guests on UNPREDICTABLE, including Kanye West on "Extravaganza," Mary J. Blige on the remake of "Love Changes;" Pharrell Williams shows up on "Still Here" (which he produced); Twista guests on "DJ Play A Love Song," which was written by Sean Garrett and produced by Polow and "Can I Take You Home" was produced by Timbaland.

Jamie Foxx, who has always regarded himself as a singer and musician first, and actor second, returns to his first passion with UNPREDICTABLE, described as "the fulfillment of a lifelong dream."  Winner of this year's Oscar as Best Actor for his portrayal of the legendary Ray Charles in Ray, Foxx also shared a Grammy nomination this year in the category of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, for "Slow Jamz" by Twista featuring Kanye West and Foxx (a track from Twista's Kamikaze album).  Foxx can also be heard on "Build You Up," a track on 50 Cent's current album, The Massacre. The recognition that Foxx has earned from his peers in R&B and hip-hop reinforces his dedication to music.  A classically trained pianist who was raised in the church, he studied seriously at San Diego Performing Arts College before moving into comedy on television and in film.  His Oscar-winning performance in Ray was a major indication that Foxx's musical aspirations could not be held back.  Industry insiders caught a glimpse of that at Clive Davis' legendary pre-Grammy party earlier this year, when Foxx stopped  the show with his version of Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman" and a gorgeous duet with Mary J. Blige on "Love Changes" -- which now makes its debut on UNPREDICTABLE.




They're kids. They rock. And the scenesters love 'em!

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Joshua Ostroff

(Oct. 15, 2005) Each spring over 1,000 international acts gather in Austin, Tex., for the South by Southwest music festival, where the hipsterati help determine the future of indie rock with their feet. Every band here is focused on building buzz by attracting a capacity crowd. Well, maybe not every one. Seattle sister duo
Smoosh seem more concerned with chasing each other around the cramped backstage area of Maggie Mae's — then again, Asya and Chloe are 13 and 11. Besides, they packed the club without trying. Smoosh are leading a kiddie-rock revolution — ranging from Vancouver's multigenerational Duplex! and multiplatinum covers act Kidz Bop Kids to reality shows and documentaries — that's becoming increasingly popular among both young and old. Toward the end of SxSW, another ‘tween drummer proved a hit with the hip. The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, a self-described “indie-vaudeville conceptual art-rock pop band,” have been playing the annual festival since 2001. Father Jason Trachtenburg had an unsuccessful music career in Seattle until he started writing songs inspired by slides bought at garage sales, which his wife projects during performances. But what really garnered the quirky family band so much attention — including an appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, a tour with They Might Be Giants, an off-Broadway show and praise from hipster barometers Vice Magazine and on-line magazine Pitchfork Media, as well as The New Yorker — is their adorably deadpan and surprisingly skilled 12-year-old daughter Rachel, who sings backup as well as drums.

Though Smoosh's parents are not similar scenesters, the girls' pedigree is even more impeccable. Asya writes the songs herself. Chloe was taught by Jason McGerr, Seattle Drum School instructor and member of indie rock stars Death Cab for Cutie. Their favourite groups are Nirvana, Interpol and the Arcade Fire and not long after releasing the shockingly assured debut
She Like Electric, the level-headed girls found themselves opening for Pearl Jam. They've performed with this year's coolest and most acclaimed indie acts, including singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens and dance-rock cheerleaders The Go!Team. Their music video has gone into rotation and they've been garnering props everywhere from People Magazine to Entertainment Weekly to Modern Drummer. This month, Smoosh was featured on Vice Records' snarky single Do they know it's Hallowe'en, a well-meaning fundraiser for UNICEF that puts Smoosh on record alongside music's hippest artists, including Beck, Buck 65, Feist and members of the Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, REM, Wolf Parade and Sum 41. Oh yeah, the girls also recently returned to junior high. The point of the band “is not to get famous or get a lot of money,” explains Asya (their surname is kept private) before their must-see showcase. Being indie means “you're actually making everything you're creating and you're doing it because you want to.”

Onstage, Chloe drums better than The White Stripes's Meg White while Asya channels a chipmunk Tori Amos as she plays keyboards and sings emotional rock songs, adorable raps and self-aware ballads. The crowd cheers enthusiastically, even if, as Chloe noted earlier, adults “don't dance much.” In the late nineties, when the post-alternative implosion resulted in an influx of teen pop stars — including ex-Mouseketeers Britney, Justin and Christina — the indie crowd cried foul. But now even younger kids are enjoying underground acclaim — the scene's latest darlings are Maryland's Eyeball Skeleton, comprised of JJ, 8, and Charlie, 10, with their dad Bill Brown on backup. The current cultural swell first hit the mainstream with 2003's film
School of Rock by generation-defining director Richard Linklater ( Slacker, Dazed and Confused), which may have been inspired by the real-life music program profiled in the recent documentary Rock School. Earlier this month, MuchMusic began airing a British reality show, also called Rock School, in which KISS's long-tongued leader Gene Simmons teaches 10 classically trained boarding-school children how to rock ‘n' roll all night. The series will climax with the kids performing alongside iconic metal act Motorhead. Here in Toronto, auditions were held recently for another proposed reality show called Kids Wanna Rock, which is currently being shopped to networks. There's even a pair of girls rock camps operating in Portland and New York.

But this movement has been building since 2000, when an “outsider music” expert discovered The Langley Schools Music Project, recordings of a mid-seventies suburban B.C. school choir covering pop songs by the Beatles, Beach Boys and David Bowie. Released under the title
Innocence and Despair, the album rapidly became a cult classic. “I weep every time I hear the Langley music school doing the countdown in Space Oddity. I think it's incredible,” gushes Vancouver singer-songwriter Veda Hille. “That's an early version of kids interacting with a culture that's supposed to be for adults. Maybe there's something particularly heartrending about that. We forget that kids have complex feelings much like we do, so of course pop music works for them.” Last year, Hille enlisted some friends and offspring — including members of The Beekeepers and P:ano along with two 11-year-old girls and a three-year-old boy who help write, sing and play — to form Duplex!. Initially a one-off for a storybook soundtrack, Duplex! evolved into an ongoing concern after releasing their debut Album on Vancouver indie imprint Mint Records, home to The New Pornographers and The Organ. “When making this record, I thought about people who like indie music and have kids, of which there are starting to be very many,” Hille said. Though popular with the under-six set thanks to anti-salad, pro-poo songs, Mint's rep has gotten this children's album on college charts and in indie publications. At one point,'s music editors put it on their “Best of The Year So Far” list, nestled between rapper Lyrics Born and alt-legends Nine Inch Nails. “I think it started from a reinterest in naive music, which is part of the backlash against the rise of the computer and our access to perfection,” Hille says, adding she sells as many Duplex! albums as her new solo record at shows. “People have become interested in imperfection again.” They're also attracted to the authentic and often surreal spirit children can bring to the table, even when singing Top 40 tunes.

Children's music is dominated by Kidz Bop Kids, who have sold 4.5 million albums of kid-friendly cover songs on New York indie label Razor & Tie, whose other acts include Toronto garage-rockers Danko Jones. Though Kidz Bop leads are sung (badly) by adults while children gleefully shout along, the concept is reminiscent of the UK-based phenomenon The Mini Pops in the 1980s. Not surprisingly, Winnipeg-based label K-Tel re-released the old albums and recruited local children for last year's Mini Pop Kids. The first album sold 60,000 copies (“kids just love to hear kids sing,” explains producer Tad Kojima, who keeps adults away from the mic) and they've already held auditions for volume two. While hipsters haven't yet rediscovered The Mini Pops, the first few Kidz Bop records flew under the pop-cult radar too, until last spring when they cracked Billboard's Top 10 and sparked an Internet wildfire with their bizarre take on Modest Mouse's
Float On. “In some ways I appreciate that version a bit more because it's already a pretty happy song, but it gives an extra push. The little kids will do that,” says Matthew Perpetua of popular MP3 site Fluxblog, who links the adult interest to the indie scene's current fixation on relentless joy. “There's that part where they're singing ‘I backed my car into a cop car' and the kids are all ‘Yay!' “ The blogosphere reignited a few months back with Kidz Bop's irrepressible video for Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone, complete with Flaming Lips-style animal costumes, a shark microphone and moshing tykes. “I can't imagine that anyone is actively courting hipsters and stoners,” Perpetua says, “[but] they should probably embrace it. I don't know if they want to make Kidz Bop greatest hits of indie rock, but it wouldn't hurt to put a few hipster-leaning songs on every volume to keep that demographic interested.” No worries — album No. 8, which came out in August, takes on Green Day, Gwen Stefani and, most intriguingly, Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out. It debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard charts, selling 67,000 copies in its first week. Of course, Kidz Bop covers are ultimately novelties. What will be more interesting to see is what happens as young artists like Smoosh grow up, especially given the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n' roll” reputation of the business.

“[We] are not totally naive. Nor are the girls,” their dad Mike says. “But none of those issues are unique to the music scene. They are as relevant in Asya's middle-school hallways. The girls will, at some point, make their choices about these things either at school or backstage.” Smoosh have just finished recording their follow-up album with Jason McGerr, completed before he left on Death Cab's current world tour, and it will be released next spring. But until Smoosh fully enter the realm of teenage (and adult) angst, it's important to remember that despite their musical maturity, they're not there yet. “I do wanna play music when I'm older,” says Asya. “But I might not wanna be in Smoosh. I dunno. Whatever happens, happens.” Her little sister Chloe looks mortified. “You don't want to be in Smoosh?” “No, I do wanna be in Smoosh — as long as you're not in it.” “You're kidding, right?”




Will Wheaton Drops 'Old School Soul'

Source: Amina Elshahawi, ICED Media,

(October 14, 2005) LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- May 31, 2005 marked the release date of Will Wheaton's brand new CD entitled "Old School Soul." Will
Wheaton has one of those rare soulful voices that will envelope you as you listen to the songs of his soulful CD. With the resurgence or re-birth of soul music, you couldn't find anyone more capable than Will Wheaton to "bring it on." "Old School Soul" will become an addiction. You won't be able to put it down.  From beginning to end, "Old School Soul" will take you back AND make you go forward to the dance floor and form a Soul Train line. The self-titled track "Old School Soul" was released on May 6, 2005 in AMC Theaters in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and New York as part of a promotion and marketing campaign. Will has written for Tevin Campbell, Will Downing, Earth Wind And Fire, Iyanla Vanzant (inspirational CD featuring Terry Bradford), and the legendary soul group, The Manhattans . Will also wrote the title track for the debut album of Superstar Anastacia "Not That Kind," which has sold millions worldwide. Will studied with Furman Fordham, whose students included the incomparable Lena Horne. He quickly earned a reputation as an accomplished background vocalist by working with a stellar line-up of talent including Natalie Cole, Coolio, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Montel Jordan, Kenny Loggins, Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, and Stevie Wonder. In 1992, Will emerged victoriously in Dick Clark's talent competition USA Music Challenge. Upon hearing will sing Dick Clark said, "Will Wheaton has a signature voice that puts you in the mood for romance." In 1995, he was selected by producer David Foster to be a part of a new vocal group, "Next Millennium." After recording with Will David Foster said, "A beautiful man with a beautiful voice. I hope the whole worlds gets to hear my friend Will Wheaton. Will's voice has been heard across the world on commercial jingles for American Express, Dr. Pepper, The Gap, Master Card, McDonald's and Sprite. In 1999 he released his first-solo project, "Consenting Adultz" a 12-song CD. In 2000 BET (Black Entertainment Television) chose 3 songs from his "Consenting Adultz" CD for their movie of the week "Midnight Blue." Recently, the television show "Felicity" used two songs from that CD as well in their syndication update. Will was also a featured singer in Ben Stiller's, "Mystery Men" and sang bass on the score of the mini-series, "The Temptations." Will has toured and recorded with Rod Stewart and Japanese superstar, Namie Amuro.

The Mississippi-born and Los Angeles-raised Will Wheaton is the son of gospel vocalist, Juanita Wheaton. His mother would sing gospel songs to him at the early age of three. He would then recite the melodies back to her with amazing clarity and quality. It was while Will was singing in the church choir, that he discovered his voice could stir the emotions of others. Will adamantly maintains his family and friends are most important to him, and these close knit relationships help keep him grounded. Blessed with such a sensual baritone bass voice, Will is an extraordinarily refreshing singer. He has been compared to Luther Vandross, Will Downing and the late Barry White of which he says "it is an honour to be compared to this trio of great performers." The multi-talented Will Wheaton has finally come into his own. He is relentless in his desire to continue on his musical path. Will says, "David Foster taught me that good enough would not do, and for that I will be eternally grateful." Will has learned from some of the best and has made a genuine impression on many. Although Will is known mostly for his work with other artists, nothing compares to his own live shows. Stay tuned to his website to find out where he's appearing next.




Ray Barretto -- Expressing the Best Part of Himself

Excerpt from -
By Deardra Shuler

(October 18, 2005) There is no doubt that conguero and bandleader Ray Barretto has etched out an amazing career in Latin Jazz which was evidenced by the packed house at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola when he jammed with The New World Sextet.  Barretto is a humble man, humbled by his successes and his failures.  He is at the stage of his life where he recognizes his most recent CD "Time Was, Time Is" (released September 13, 2005) is the closest and most organic expression of who he is currently as an artist.   "Every human being is the result of their life experience.  Throughout my life, the main spiritual cushion keeping me going is the music I listened to as a child when I lived in Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx.  I try to represent some of the tunes my mother played on her 78s in my recent CD. It reflects my youth and my culture.  Jazz is a part of my life, too.  Now, I play more contemporary things in a real jazz vein that expresses who I am musically."  Born in Brooklyn in 1929, Ray lived on 111th Street and in the Bronx. "Music was a constant in my life.  It kept me off the streets" reflected the bandleader. At age 17, Ray enlisted in the army.  "At that time, I felt I was on a road to nowhere.  I was on a treadmill and nothing was happening.  I wasn't a good student so I enlisted" said Ray who was an occupation solider in Munich, Germany during World War II. "I heard 2 songs then that changed my life.  One song was "Shaw Nuff" by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.  This was the first time that I had encountered Bebop.  After hearing "Manteca" also by Gillespie, featuring the first great Cuba drummer Chano Pozo, I decided that is what I wanted to do" explained the legendary drummer.  After his discharge, Ray bought drums and started jamming at the Lido Club and the Paradise Club. "My initiation into music was through jazz and bebop.  Afterwards, I started working with Latin Bands. I worked with Jose Curbello and then in 1957, I joined Tito Puente."  Ray began jamming and recording with artists like Red Garland, Sonny Stit, Max Roach, Gene Ammons, Lou Donaldson and Wes Montgomery.  "It was an amazing period in my life," recounted Ray.   In 1962, Barretto went out on his own and had success with his first record which turned out to be a cross over hit entitled "El Watusi."  It went gold in 1963.  "That record topped the charts and put me on the map.  It was a blessing and a curse.  It was a curse because for a couple of years I was locked into a kind of music that wasn't really me.  It didn't represent who I was inside or what I really wanted to play."

Barretto eventually did an album with Celia Cruz entitled "Ritmo En El Corazon" or "Rhythm in the Heart" which won him a Grammy.   "It was great winning the Grammy but truthfully the fares on the subway didn't change.  The landlord still knocked on my door for his rent, so life went on.  I have never been one for those types of awards.  I tend to see them as very superficial," remarked the award winner.  "Though some would see it as an acknowledgement of my work, I see it more as a show biz ritual that goes on every year.  You partake of it for that particular moment and move on" claimed the Latin wonder who was also inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame.  "The one thing about having a commercial hit is that you can lose your focus and it takes a while to realize you are not a pop star or commercial star but only what you are. I am a percussionist dealing in music that is not rock 'n roll, rap, hip hop or any of the more celebrated kinds of music that have a wide acceptance or appeal with the younger audience.  I have been through a lot of stages in my life.  I have made some of the greatest and some of the dumbest records in existence," chortled the bandleader.  "Some of my dumb records came about when I thought I was going to have big hits and become a big star but that is not who I am.  At this point in my life, I have achieved a certain amount of recognition and acceptance amongst my peers.  I can still ply my craft and have been welcomed in clubs like Dizzys and others all over the world.  I have performed in countries like Europe and South America," states Barretto.  "As a man, I have made mistakes along the way.  I've stumbled, and if I couldn't rectify my errors, at least I have tried not to repeat them.  As a musician, I leave the critique of my work to the critics and to posterity.  I try to make the best music I can and assembly the best bunch of musicians together.  I have fun on stage and feel that I impart that to the audience so there is a shared experience."

A father, Barretto spoke proudly of his son Christopher who is following in his father's footsteps.  "My son is torn between wanting to do jazz and/or wanting to do heavy metal. As a balancing act, I remind him that people like Charlie Parker and Dizzy were part of the creative world, too" smiles Ray with a glimmer in his eye.   Barretto's performs with both Latin and Jazz bands.  His band "New World Sextet" comprised of Marlin Waldo, alto and tenor sax; Joe Magnarelli, trumpet; Roberto Rodriquez, pianist; Ricardo Rodriquez, bassist; and Arnesto Simpson on drums will be performing in Puerto Rico and then plan to tour Europe in the near future.  Ray will be appearing at the club Smoke on October 21st and October 22, 2005.  "I spent over 30 years in Latin music and have seen it change.  It is no longer as true to its roots as it once was.  Our music should have an allegiance to Africa in some form or another and it has started to lose that.  The music I play now, I feel, continues to pay that allegiance."




Musicians Trickle Back Into The Big Easy

Source: Canadian Press - Stacey Plaisance

(Oct. 19, 2005) NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Roland Guerin's standup bass helps break the silence that enveloped this city for weeks, offering evidence of
New Orleans' renowned music scene coming back to life.  Yet the birthplace of jazz remains a shadow of its once vibrant self - where music poured from block after block of the French Quarter and beyond late into the night. Since Hurricane Katrina, the crowds are smaller, the streets darker, the venues limited and pay for musicians often minimal. Guerin, who returned for his first gig since Hurricane Katrina, took a cut in pay to play and said some musicians are performing for tips alone. "Folks are so happy just to see something familiar," he said. "That's what matters right now." In the weeks after the Aug. 29 hurricane, New Orleans music could be heard just about everywhere but in New Orleans. The city's musicians have entertained with borrowed instruments in Louisville, Ky.; reunited at a Manhattan TV studio; toured in Mexico; played a rousing rendition of When the Saints Go Marching In at a jazz festival in Detroit; even had crowds hopping to zydeco in Los Angeles. But back in the Big Easy, club and bar owners have had a hard time getting in touch with musicians scattered across the country. Like most of the city's residents, they've been slow to come home. "They're suffering like everyone else," said Dave Facer, a manager at Maple Leaf Bar in the city's Uptown neighbourhood. "Many of them have lost their homes. Some are debating whether to come back." Not until recently have they been seen or heard around here. When Old Point Bar in Algiers Point reopened a month after the hurricane, musicians soon followed, "walking in off the street to play," said owner Warren Munster. Maple Leaf Bar also had live music, "but sporadically," Facer said. Some nights there's only a musicians or two, some nights there are full bands, he said. "It just depends who's around." Blues guitarist-singer Jesse Moore is the only one of his five-member New Orleans-based band back in town. "I could not wait to get back," Moore said. "I know I'm one of the lucky ones. My apartment was fine ... A lot of guys can't come back."

Guerin, commuting from Baton Rouge, appeared on a morning show at a New Orleans TV station, then performed Saturday night at Snug Harbor, his band reduced from a quintet to a trio. He greeted the few regulars strolling Frenchmen Street with big hugs and handshakes as he talked about how he longed to return and how important it is for other musicians do the same. "There are components that make New Orleans what it is," he said. "Music is one of those components. Looking at the news, knowing so many musicians were gone, there was a sense the heart and soul of the city was gone." For club owners, strict curfews have been a stumbling block. Under the current curfew, streets in the city's recovering neighbourhoods remain off limits between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Business owners say the curfew, while an improvement from the earlier 6 p.m. and midnight curfews, still puts a damper on the city's nightlife. "We're trying to piece it back together," Facer said.




Behind The Music, The Business And The Rumours: EUR Speaks With Mathew Knowles (Pt 2)

Excerpt from

(Oct. 19, 2005) Last week, we brought you part one of our interview with
Mathew Knowles, the man some call the second coming of Joe Jackson.  He spoke candidly about his once questionable business affairs and the status of his new venture Musicworld Sanctuary Urban Group Inc. This time we talk about Kelly and Michelle’s survivor tactics without Beyonce, his plans to refill their heels and why controversy follows him around.

It’s no longer considered news now since the world knows it’s over. But what’s the official reason behind the Destiny’s Child break-up?

We always said, from day one, that we would set a goal and once we reached those goals we would do exactly what we’re doing now. Once we had accomplished number one, we wanted to leave on a high note. We’ve accomplished what we wanted to with Destiny’s Child.

Is this a publicity stunt or is it really the end for Destiny’s Child?

We have a #1’s record that’s coming October 25th that has two new singles on it. The first single is one of the best singles they’ve ever had. Their second single is Beyonce’s single for the “Pink Panther” [movie].  Then we have a couple of new songs on the Destiny’s Child Christmas Album. So it’s not like Destiny’s Child is over. It’s a phasing to that. With or without Destiny’s Child, we know Beyonce is pretty much set. People say that Michelle and Kelly are nothing more than background singers and wonder what will happen to their careers.  We’re really excited about their solo careers. I get somewhat disappointed because the media hasn’t taken the time to really look at what Michelle and Kelly has done individually. Kelly won a Grammy, two #1 songs outside of America, 1.2 [million records sold] outside of America. I don’t call that insignificant, a major endorsement with Soft Sheen and a #1 movie with “Freddy vs. Jackson.” That’s success to me. Michelle had a #1 debut gospel album, #2 [sophomore album], a leading role on Broadway and a Gap commercial. Her next album may be an R&B album rather than a gospel record. And there are TV opportunities for both Kelly and Michelle.

So who do you think will fill Destiny’s shoes?

My philosophy is, if any group is going to fill their shoes, guess who it’s going to be? I have a new girl’s group. We’re doing a reality show with a group of young ladies that started out in Houston. It went from 2,000 to six young ladies. Eventually we’ll narrow it down to four. They have been in my boot camp for the last year. I haven’t named them yet because I want the name to be a part of the reality.

Sounds like a good idea.

Yeah I’m in discussion with a number of networks.

Now switching back to the business side of things…A few months ago rumours surfaced that you were no longer Beyonce’s manager. Now that the group is somewhat disbanded, where do you stand?

I am the manager for Michelle Williams. I am the manager for Beyonce Knowles. I am the manager for Kelly Rowland. Collectively as Destiny’s Child and individually. That has never changed. That has never wavered. I can read you the first paragraph in my management contract… (laughter).

What about the other rumours of your disappearance from your label. . We heard your staff couldn’t get in touch with you for months.

That’s called a vacation! (laughter)

Well folks said that this vacation was 2-3 months long and nobody could find you…

Let’s stop right there. That’s a lie. We all know it’s a lie. No one from Sanctuary can say I’ve been on a vacation for 3 months long. That’s ridiculous.

They didn’t call it a vacation. They just said ‘He’s not here.’

That’s a lie. That’s not even true. Let’s not go there. That’s straight up bulls***.

So how do you respond to the rumours of your absence…?

You gotta remember. We’ve had controversy since 1996. This is the music industry. It’s entertainment. That comes with the turf. What makes me any better than what they say about Lyor [Cohen] or any other executive? You guys gotta have something to sell magazines! I mean come on man… Yeah, but I don’t make a habit of making up stuff. You have integrity and I appreciate that.

That’s the way we roll. We deal with the truth and get right to the source.

That’s why I had to have this call.





Kanye Still As Good As ‘Gold’

Excerpt from

(October 14, 2005) *
Kanye West’s latest single “Gold Digger” featuring Jamie Foxx extends its chart domination to six weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 and Hot Ringtones chart, four weeks atop the Pop 100 and three on the Hot Rap Songs tally.  The song slips to No. 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, shifting places with Young Jeezy and Akon’s “Soul Survivor,” which also moves 8-7 on the Hot 100.  Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off” falls to No. 4 behind Nickelback’s “Photograph,” and the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps" advances 5-4 – trading places with "Like You" by Bow Wow featuring Ciara. David Banner's "Play" slips 7-10 to round out the top tier. Meanwhile, INXS enjoys the highest debut of its career with the help of new lead singer J.D. Fortune, the winner of the CBS reality show “Rock Star: INXS.”  Their single “Pretty Vegas” debuts at No. 37. Other debuts on the Hot 100 this week include Mariah Carey's "Don't Forget About Us" (No. 81), The Pussycat Dolls' "Stickwitu" (No. 85) and Rihanna's "If It's Lovin' That You Want" (No. 96).

Donald Lawrence Presents Tri~City Singers To Record The Finale

Excerpt from

(Oct. 14, 2005) Stellar- award winners
Donald Lawrence presents the Tri~City Singers announce the recording of their  forthcoming and final project the Finale. This  star-studded event, takes place on November 16  and 17 at 7:00 pm at the Tabernacle in downtown  Atlanta.    Giving the peach tree state a little taste of Tri~City  history and leaving behind a legacy of great musical  talents, for one last time the group is set to perform  classic songs and newly recorded material. This  farewell concert commemorates the success of  the group's critically acclaimed career and the  ending of the Tri~City era. This event brings out  the brightest stars in gospel music, with special  guest performances from Walter Hawkins, Daryl  Coley, Kevin Bond, LeJeune Thompson, Kierra  "Kiki" Sheard, LaShun Pace, Darwin Hobbs,  Myron Butler & Levi, The Murrills and  Dewayne Woods.    "Please join us this time of fellowship although  it's our last CD together, says Donald Lawrence,  I expect great things from a lot of the Tri~City  talents...God blessed me to work with some  of the best singers and musicians in the  world....I have mixed emotions about the  Finale because Tri~City has been a child  of mine for almost 15 yrs.  However I know  this is a time for me to release the group and  be released into the continued plan God  has for us all!"

All-Star Line-Up Set For Barbados Jazz Festival

Excerpt from

(October 18, 2005) BRIDGETOWN, Barbados-- A dazzling line-up of international performers, including singing sensation Lionel Richie and musician Jill Scott, make the Thirteenth Annual Barbados Jazz Festival a must for music lovers of all ages.   There is an assortment of music for every taste, from up and coming talent to jazz purists.  The festival is scheduled for January 9 - 15, 2006, and will be staged at various locations, among them the historic Sunbury Plantation House, Heritage Park, set in a rum Factory, the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium and the lush and breezy Farley Hill National Park.  It's the perfect time to explore this leading Caribbean destination. The key performers this year are: Lionel Richie, Jill Scott, Arturo Tappin, Roy Hargrove & Roberta Gambarini, Art Work & Wayne Willock, Norman Brown, Cindy Alexander, Boney James, Gary Davis Band and the Cuban Jazz All-Stars.   For more information on Barbados and the Barbados Tourism Authority, please call 1-800-221-9831, or explore Barbados on-line at Barbados, the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, is popular for its natural beauty, its historic attractions, water sports, golf courses, fine dining and incredible nightlife.  The island is known for its warm, friendly people and wide range of accommodations.

Wilma Postpones MTV Music Awards

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Oct. 19, 2005) MEXICO CITY (AP) — The approach of
Hurricane Wilma has forced MTV to postpone its Latin American music video awards ceremony, which had been scheduled for Mexico's Playa del Carmen resort.  Dulce Gordillo, MTV's Mexico spokeswoman, confirmed the postponement and said a new date for the show hadn't been set.  The cable network had shifted the program from Thursday to Wednesday to avoid the hurricane, which was forecast to pass close by Mexico's Caribbean coast Friday.  The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Wednesday the storm had developed into the most intense hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin.

Matthews Sets Sail For Caribbean Concert

Excerpt from - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(Oct. 19, 2005)
Dave Matthews will anchor a concert in the Bahamas in February which will highlight the Dave Matthews & Friends Caribbean Cruise Getaway. Fans will overtake the Royal Caribbean cruise ships the Majesty of the Seas and the Sovereign of the Seas from Feb. 3-6, and be treated to music from Bob Weir and Ratdog, G. Love and Special Sauce, Toots and the Maytals and the North Mississippi Allstars, among others.  The ships will set sail from Miami and Port Canaveral and will converge to sail together through the Atlantic. Backed by as-yet-unannounced artists, Matthews will perform Feb. 4 on a private island in the Bahamas. The ship will anchor in Nassau that day and proceed the following day to the private island resort CocoCay.  Among the other acts set to appear during the cruise are Ozomatli, the Mike Doughty Band, Mofro, John Brown's Body and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.  Members of Dave Matthews Band's Warehouse fan organization will get first crack at tickets Monday (Oct. 24). For pricing information, visit the cruise's official Web siteAs previously reported, Dave Matthews Band will close out this year with a brief tour that begins Nov. 26 in Minneapolis.

New Anthony Hamilton Album Due In December

Excerpt from - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(Oct. 14, 2005) Soul vocalist Anthony Hamilton will return Dec. 6 with his
next So So Def/Zomba album, "Ain't Nobody Worryin'." The set is tipped to feature tracks like the title song, first single "Can't Let Go," "Where Did It Go Wrong?," "Sista Big Bones," "Never Love Again" and "I Know What Love Is All About." Production was supplied by previous collaborator Mark Batson, Raphael Saadiq, Ced Solo and Kelvin Wooten, among others.  Hamilton expects the song "Preacher's Daughter" to raise eyebrows. "There are some preachers who are so busy being high and mighty that they sometimes forget their own households and what's going on with their own daughters right under their noses -- so the song is like a 'wake up call' for a lot of preachers," he says.  "Ain't Nobody Worryin'" is the follow-up to Hamilton's 2003 breakthrough, "Comin' From Where I'm From," which has sold 1.2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It earned him a Grammy nomination for best male R&B vocal performance.  "I didn't approach doing this new record with the intention of outdoing the last album," Hamilton says. "I wanted it to have the same amount of quality, putting raw emotions and experiences to music, you know, re-living as much as possible what I've been through in the past few years of being out there, being on the road, singing songs that keep the listeners interested."  Interest in Hamilton prompted Rhino's June re-release of his previously unissued debut album, "Soulife," which was shelved after the label of the same name folded due to financial difficulties.





Tuesday, October 18, 2005

DEPECHE MODE Playing the Angel (Reprise/Sire)
Keith Sweat, Candy Store, Sanctuary
KESHIA CHANTE Ring The Alarm (Vik)
MS DYNAMITE Judgement Days (Universal)
SIMPLY RED Simplified (Verve)
STEVIE WONDER A Time 2 Love (Motown)
Tyrone Davis, Ultimate Tyrone Davis, Brunswick
Various Artists, More of Funk Comes A-Live, Compendia

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

DESTINY'S CHILD #1's (Columbia)
FAITH EVANS A Faithful Christmas (Capitol)
FEFE DOBSON Sunday Love (Island)
MARGARET CHO Assassin (Nettwerk)
NSYNC Greatest Hits (Jive)
Prince Paul, Hip Hop Gold Dust, Antidote
ROBBIE WILLIAMS Intensive Care (Virgin)
SHARISSA Every Beat Of My Heart (Virgin)
Slum Village, Slum Village, Barak
Sly & The Family Stone, Mastercuts Presents, Mastercuts
Lil' Flip, Flip Side of Lil Flip, Sucka Free
Various Artists, Return of the Funk Soul Sisters, BGP







The Real Toronto: Welcome To The Neighbourhood

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Joe Friesen

(Oct. 15, 2005) Two young men stand in a dingy apartment hallway speaking directly to the camera. "We're so real, we take you right to the snitch's door," says one, referring to an unnamed resident who has co-operated with a police investigation.  "He knows he's watched. If you look carefully, he can't leave his door."  The camera tilts down to a bag of trash slumped on the hall floor, leaning against the alleged snitch's door. The occupant is too afraid to take the three or four steps across the hallway to throw his garbage down the chute, they explain. "We check his house every hour on the hour to make sure that nigga stays there," says the second man. After a summer of gunfire that brought the number of shooting deaths this year to 41, a new underground documentary offers a glimpse of a violent subculture that celebrates brutality and has a menacing array of weaponry at its disposal. The DVD, The Real Toronto, is a dystopian urban travelogue that moves through some of the city's most notorious neighbourhoods. Released last week and sold in a handful of local record and clothing stores in downtown Toronto, its nine chapters treat areas such as Jane and Finch, Black Creek, Chalkfarm and Parkdale as little-known tourist destinations.

The packaging boasts of interviews with "gang members, drug dealers and some of the realest street rappers in Toronto," and it's this cast of characters that acts as tour guide, introducing the viewer to groups of young men eager to describe a life of drug dealing and gang banging. They brandish pistols, shotguns and Uzis and pose for the camera with their faces hidden behind bandanas.  The shaky, hand-held digital video production was made over the summer by a 22-year-old white hip-hop enthusiast who goes by the name of Madd Russian. He says although he expects some outcry from critics, the film is not meant to glorify violence.

"I just put the reality out there for people to judge for themselves," he says. "I just wanted to show the struggle . . . for people to see that there are people in Toronto actually struggling. And just like the disclaimer [on the video] says, it's a world-class city but we do have our own fair share of problems that have been swept under the rug." His film belongs to a genre that has grown in popularity in recent years, most notably with Hood 2 Hood: The Blockumentary, a video tour of infamous neighbourhoods in the U.S. The no-budget films are sold through the Internet, or through independent music stores. The Russian says The Real Toronto has already sold 200 copies at a price of $10 each. The Russian, who grew up in Nyzhny Novgorod in southern Russia, says he came to Canada 10 years ago and fell in love with hip hop while learning to speak English. He's careful to emphasize that he doesn't know anyone who appears in the film -- these are people to whom he was introduced through connections in the local hip-hop scene. The only thing that surprised him while filming The Real Toronto was the extent of the firepower he was shown. In one scene, shot at a Jane and Finch area apartment block, a group of teenagers pull .40 calibre and 9 mm pistols from their waistbands before an Uzi submachine gun is flashed for the camera. In other scenes, pistols and shotguns are fired at random into the night. The Russian says he made a deliberate effort to keep these scenes brief, but he felt they needed to be included. "I wasn't trying to make this as a movie for people to watch just for guns," he said. "But it's important for Toronto to know that there's a lot of guns out there and that in order to get the guns off [the streets] you need to stop people at a younger age."

The DVD is generating some underground buzz in the city. One local record store owner, whose shop carries the DVD, says he's fielded several calls a day since its release. "Whoever made this film did a great job of street marketing," said the owner, who didn't want to be identified. "I just know it's very popular. I'd say we've only sold about a dozen copies so far, but the calls just keep coming in." Scarborough City Councillor Michael Thompson said he hasn't seen the video but has heard of similar productions. He hopes the video doesn't promote violence, but says he's not surprised such a video exists. "It would validate the issue that we're working on, which is that there's a lot of people in the city of Toronto with guns," Mr. Thompson said. Two senior officers contacted in Scarborough and the Jane and Finch area said they also haven't seen The Real Toronto, but were concerned that it might glorify gangsterism. They note that although the number of people involved in this world is small, they do present a significant threat to public safety. "It's the gangster lifestyle that comes out of Los Angeles, California," said Superintendent Gary Ellis. "It's a fantasy lifestyle that has stark and dire consequences." Referring to the scene where the alleged snitch is too intimidated to step outside his apartment, the Russian says he doesn't advocate the kind of violent retribution depicted in the Stop Snitching video that has become popular in the U.S. The video, which features images of gunshot victims and threats against suspected informants, gained notoriety because it featured a cameo by NBA star Carmelo Anthony. Now T-shirts with the slogan have become big sellers in New York.

A couple of themes percolate through The Real Toronto. One, repeated across several neighbourhoods, is the lack of recreational outlets for youths. In one scene, a group complains that their local community centre has been locked up and left to rot. In others, young men talk about how the community worked for years to get basketball hoops installed, often contributing their own money, and while some courts flourish, others are broken down and empty. "No rec [centre], no playground for the kids, no b-ball court. All we do is smoke and drink and sell drugs all . . . day," says one tour guide in Black Creek. Elsewhere, on a hot summer night outside the Chalkfarm apartments north of Jane Street and Wilson Avenue, a rapper named J-Staxxx holds court with a small group of friends. A member of the entourage describes his limited options in life: "If you ain't a drug dealer, you're a baller. And if you ain't a baller, you're a rapper. That's how it is down here." J-Staxxx agrees. "That's how it is. That's how people see it. Quiet niggaz don't make money." Making money is another central theme -- in particular, mimicking American hip-hop artists who, over the past 15 years, have created a marketable brand identity that often banks on the notoriety of their communities. In The Real Toronto, the men wear an assortment of neighbourhood-specific clothing; T-shirts with the name of their housing complex, a Scartown logo for Scarborough residents, or a photograph of the Jane and Finch intersection. Some are even shown selling the clothing from a shopping cart. And what they're doing, as they say repeatedly, is representing their neighbourhood. The desire to be scarier than the rest even goes as far as this unusual boast: "We're the second-most drug-infested area in Etobicoke, and that's a proven fact." Mark DeZilva, who runs a martial-arts school in the Jane and Finch area and who works with local community leaders, says the big talk is typical of teens seeking notoriety. "When you ask a kid something with a video camera in front of him, then they'll say anything if they think it makes them famous," he said. "And then an outsider looks at it and says, 'Oh, that's Jane and Finch, that's what I thought it was like.' Realistically, it's not how they all talk . . . Unfortunately, the bad things get on TV and make money." The Russian says the response to the film has been overwhelmingly positive so far, noting that many of the subjects have seen it. He doesn't feel that his film is exploitative. But he's not offering to share his profits, he says, because he hasn't made any. He says he has considered working on The Real Toronto: Volume 2, but he's more interested in bigger projects, something to help the communities that helped him make his film.




Teens Taste Reel Canada

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Tabassum Siddiqui, Entertainment Reporter

(Oct. 17, 2005) There's no popcorn, the seats are harder than at the
multiplex, and the audience should be in class rather than watching a movie in the middle of the day. But students at six Toronto high schools are getting a crash course in Canadian film this month, thanks to a new pilot project that brings the cinema right into the classroom.  Reel Canada, a travelling festival of Canadian movies, is visiting six local high schools with a program of films selected by each school. The project was conceived last year by a group of filmmakers and educators to foster awareness and pride in Canadian film by screening homegrown movies.  "We want to introduce students to the idea that Canadian films exist and that there's this wide range of them," says Reel Canada co-founder, filmmaker Jack Blum.  Blum and his filmmaking partner Sharon Corder, co-creators of hit Global Television series Traders and writer-producers on the CTV series Power Play, hit upon the idea during a post-SARS summit of film professionals convened by Toronto Mayor David Miller (Reel Canada's honorary patron).  "It had been a very downbeat conversation about all the problems and then, all of a sudden, people brightened up," Blum says.  "The whole industry came together and everyone was really excited about it," Corder adds.  The duo, along with Triptych Media producer Anna Stratton, put together a committee of filmmakers and educators to get the project off the ground. Soon, Telefilm Canada, the CBC and the Directors Guild of Canada came on board.  Reel Canada's advisory committee, which reads like a who's who of Canadian directors, from Atom Egoyan to David Cronenberg, put together a short list of student-friendly films, eliminating anything R-rated or overly long.  The films were test-screened by media studies classes at the six chosen schools and the list whittled down to 24 features and two programs of short films.

Students then chose six films and slotted them into Gala (the big ones), Special Presentation (medium) and Edge (small) screenings. Each screening is followed by a question-and-answer session with an industry guest.  On Friday, west-end Humberside Collegiate was the second school to host the Reel Canada film festival, with drama and English students from grades 10 to 12 taking in screenings throughout the day.  Teacher Mike Cassidy's classroom was transformed into a darkened theatre as his Grade 12 drama students watched smash-hit Quebecois comedy Les Boys, about a hard-luck group of oldtimer hockey players.  Although the movie is in French with subtitles, the five dozen students were glued to the screen, applauding when the lights came back up.  Guest Ken Dryden, the NHL legend-turned-federal minister of social development, was met with blank stares until Blum kick-started the Q&A session by asking him about his six Stanley Cup wins. A murmur went up around the room, and even the sullen-looking lads in the back with their sneaker-shod feet stretched out on the chairs in front of them started to raise their hands.  An avid film buff who has also written about education, Dryden believes in exposing young audiences to Canadian stories.  "One of the great things about films is that they're about different people and different experiences, but the best ones allow us to relate to the people on the screen. Take something like (Les Boys), a film from Quebec about people doing something you may never have done in your life. But by the end of that movie, it's not another world any more," he said.  Emily Jewer, 17, bubbled with enthusiasm after seeing three very different films. Her favourite was Cape Breton coming-of-age tale New Waterford Girl ("it was really funny and charming"). She's not new to homegrown flicks, though many of her peers are, she pointed out.  "I've heard some people say that they didn't like to watch Canadian movies, because they're not as good as American ones, but I think things like this will help change that perception," Jewer said.  Nick Konieczko, 16, a budding filmmaker himself who has directed a few shorts, agreed. "They should definitely do it more often in the schools," he said.  A fan of the horror genre, he liked documentary Project Grizzly, screened with a guest appearance by director Peter Lynch.  Organizers couldn't have asked for a better response from both students and educators, Blum and Corder say, adding that already there's demand from teachers and principals to expand the project to more schools in 2006.  "There's a real hunger for this," Corder notes.  "If you see yourself up there (on the screen), it becomes real, it validates you," Blum says. "And now we have all these wonderful movies that tell these kids, `You are Canadian — this is an expression of you.'"




To Heck With Fame: Rick Moranis

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gerry Flahive

(Oct. 18, 2005) In these dark and troubled times, the world cries out for
something that artfully expresses how we all feel, something that deftly captures our sense of dread, but also, maybe, just maybe, our hope. How about a cover of a 1962 Hank Snow song, performed by ex-McKenzie Brother Rick Moranis? Remembered and respected for his versatility and sharp wit as a writer and performer on SCTV, and as an engaging movie star in big-budget Hollywood movies such as Ghostbusters and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Toronto-born Moranis is one of those rare entertainment-world celebrities who seemed to simply stop being celebrity-ish. Where did he go? As strange and un-Ashton Kutcher-ish as it seems, he just stayed home -- in New York -- to raise his two kids. And now, about 10 years since he last appeared on the big screen, Moranis, 51, has written, sung and recorded -- in friend Tony Scherr's basement in Brooklyn, using an eight-track analog tape machine -- a hilarious, sometimes touching and perfectly crafted country album, The Agoraphobic Cowboy. For someone who declares that he wasn't interested in performing any more (just for the record, one of his fan sites was forced to squelch a maliciously spread rumour several years ago that he was dead), he certainly seems to be having a lot of fun performing on this one. He's also not actually agoraphobic, and I'm pretty certain he's not a cowboy, for that matter.

In 13 songs, Moranis perfectly demonstrates country music's seeming ability to absorb virtually any subject matter -- in his case, everything from political chicanery (Four More Beers) to a desperate desire to be kept up to date (Give Me the News), from alcohol and love (It's the Champagne Talkin') to animal testing and human organ transplants (Oh So Bucco), from stalking (Press Pound) to acronyms (SOS, an entire song made up of acronyms, from CIA to FBI). The pieces draw on bluegrass, rockabilly and folk sounds, and blend them with Moranis's tight satirical and topical writing (also seen in the occasional op-ed humour pieces he writes for The New York Times). With references to opera singer Beverly Sills, the George Foreman grill, Viagra and even his own unlikely status as a country crooner ("I ain't from nowhere near Kentucky, no right to sing them southern blues/ I'm from Toronto, snowy city, from a neighbourhood of Jews"), he uses the timeworn tools of C&W songwriting and musicianship to create an album that both Nashville purists and Toronto comedy clubbers will relate to. But it's the song I Ain't Goin' Nowhere that may be the paranoid-with-good-reason anthem we've all been waiting for. A brilliant riff on I've Been Everywhere (a song identified most strongly with Hank Snow and Johnny Cash), it provides an endless list of home comforts, FedEx-available medicines and security devices that make not leaving the house so seductive:

Perimeter, motion, doggie door, mail call
Peep hole, Avon, wireless, strobes on.
PIN Code, keypad, relay, pepper spray,
Homebase, interface, three-zone, plug 'n play.
Infra-red, photocell, squad car, decibel,
Choppers up, sonic boom,
Activate the panic room.

The album went up for sale on his site (run through, a platform for musicians to distribute their recordings) earlier this month. Moranis says some of the songs have been picked up by college radio stations, and he's starting to get media calls from outlets such as USA Today and The New York Times. But don't wait for the billboard for it across from Wal-Mart. As sharp, dark and inventively funny as these songs are, it would be a mistake to think of them purely as spoofs, or to underestimate Moranis's affection for the genre. And those who are surprised to see the man who voiced Barney Rubble from The Flintstones movie singing songs that would probably get him some affectionate back slaps and a couple of free beers if he sang them in a roadhouse in Oklahoma or Alberta might not immediately remember that Moranis performed lots of musical pieces on SCTV and played one of the leading roles in the movie version of the musical Little Shop of Horrors. "It's not like I said, 'I'm going to write myself a country and western album,' says Moranis. "I'm not trying to jump-start anything -- I'm not trying to become something I'm not. I had an idea, one that could have been done in another form, but it seemed to fit best as a song." Despite his early days in the 1970s as a Toronto FM rock-radio DJ, in recent years he had largely been listening to classical music on his Manhattan apartment radio. But in the background, his daughter "had been listening to a lot of non-commercial music, bands like Widespread Panic, The String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band" and the blends of traditional and alternative caught his ear. "Now, all these years later, I'd rediscovered country and bluegrass through my kids. I wrote a couple of songs and sang them to friends over the phone. I ended up with about a dozen. It wasn't planned." Moranis resists the tendency to mock the cornball image that country music has often had in mainstream culture. "Country music encompasses so many different kinds of music -- at one end, big commercialized songs by people like Tim McGrath and Faith Hill, at the other, traditional folk and rockabilly -- that it is unfair to categorize it all in negative terms. You could call every song Gordon Lightfoot recorded a country song. Early Billy Holly tunes owed as much to country as to rock 'n' roll. They weren't overproduced."

Despite being someone who grew up in the sixties and admits that if he hadn't done comedy he would have had a rock band, Moranis didn't turn to rock music to marry his musical interests with his comedic skills. Maybe rock just isn't good at being funny, the movie This Is Spinal Tap notwithstanding (the humour there is about the music). "There is just as much of a tradition of humour in country music as there is on Broadway. There wasn't much humour in popular music when Motown and the British Invasion arrived on the scene." Moranis is thoughtful and honest when it comes to the question of his long absence from the public eye. "Performance for me was always just a vehicle to get the writing out. That's how I ended up acting -- I never enjoyed it, that's why I stopped -- it was creatively unfulfilling." The calls from Hollywood stopped after a few years because they realized he would just say no. "I'm not interested in acting. I don't miss the process, and how precious it's supposed to feel, but how empty it was for me. I don't miss being on camera. Many of the movies I was in were far from my sensibility." Apparently old thinking dies hard. "Some people at one of the big record labels wondered, when they heard my songs, "Where is the movie this music is from?" Can we expect to see The Agoraphobic Cowboy follow in the footsteps of Abba and Billy Joel and Elvis and work its way onto Broadway? "Someone said to me, 'This would make a great musical.' But I don't want to do it, let someone else do it." Unless it's a roadhouse calling from Fort McMurray? "If somebody wants me to perform, call me and we can talk." One of Moranis's most memorable characters on SCTV was VJ Gerry Todd, a pre-MTV music-video devotee who stayed indoors, broadcasting, commenting and running his own control panel from a cheesy studio. A cheerful enthusiast who seemed to love the process as much as the music. Maybe Gerry -- and Moranis -- was just ahead of his time.  Gerry Flahive is a documentary producer in Toronto.

Honey, I shrunk my career

Rick Moranis hasn't been in a theatrically released feature film since 1996's Big Bully, in which he played (what else?) a nebbish writer picked on by his childhood nemesis (Tom Arnold). Since then, he's mostly done voice work in various animated projects.

What a change from his peak period of celebrity:

First box-office extravaganza: Ghostbusters (1984), released a year after The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew
Follow-ups: five comedic projects that furthered his quirky-nerd image in 1985 and 1986, including Brewster's Millions
Unforgettable as Dark Helmet in Spaceballs (1987)
Reprised his role as Louis Tully in Ghostbusters II (1989)
Made Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), the first of four Honey, I projects
Teamed up with Steve Martin for Parenthood (1989)
Signature buddy role: Barney Rubble in The Flintstones (1994)




Carl Perkins Feature Film To Be Made In Tennessee

Carl Perkins Thinkin’ Place is Filled With Blue Suede Shoes
- Leah Hanes

(Oct. 10, 2005) Nashville, TN-Finally, legendary singer/songwriter Carl Perkins will get his due in a film about his special life. The movie called “The Thinkin’ Place” will begin filming in the spring of 2006 in Carl’s home state of Tennessee. “If you are thinking that this is another movie about a hard drinking and hard living rock and roller then you may be surprised,” said co-writer D.J. Perkins. “This movie is about every man’s life. It’s about life, death, racism, and unconditional love and friendship beyond this dimension.” Perkins adds, “You don’t need to know who my father was in order to enjoy this film. We think this film will change the way you think about your own life and destiny.”

Hollywood producer
Leah Hanes said, “His story, as told by his daughter, moves me in the deepest parts of my soul.” Writers Perkins, Rick Korn and Randy Moore take you on a journey that begins in the cotton fields of West Tennessee in the midst of the great depression where poverty and racism often interfered with aspirations and dreams. “The Thinkin’ Place” is a about two men, one White and one Black, who come into this world with nothing and who leave it realizing they have each achieved everything when they find “The Thinkin’ Place.” They add, “It’s a mighty good place to go!” 

Carl Perkins who penned the famous song “Blue Suede Shoes” began his career at the famed Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. In late 1956 a story in the local newspaper included a picture of four men and named them “The Million Dollar Quartet.” Sitting at the piano was Elvis Presley. Flanking him on either side were Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. The fourth man in the picture playing acoustic guitar was Carl Perkins.  Amazingly, Perkins was the first artist ever to have a number one record in multiple genres of music. “Blue Suede Shoes” became the anthem for a new wave of music thought by some to be the devil’s music but hailed by many as good old Rock and Roll. Further the Beatles recorded more Perkins songs then any other songwriter other than themselves, prompting George Harrison to state, “If it weren’t for Carl Perkins music there would have never been The Beatles.”

Tennessee Film Commission, Executive Director David Bennett said, “We are delighted with the possibility of bringing the production about the incredible Carl Perkins to West Tennessee. ” Bennett further stated, “Carl was a true Tennessee hero bringing music and inspiration to millions. We feel that the authenticity of filming the movie in his home state will add an intangible yet vital component to the look and feel of the film.” Abused by his father, Carl picked cotton alongside his best friend, Charlie, who was abused by an ignorant society because he was Black. What do best friends do? They look out for each other. Carl and Charlie gave new meaning to friendship. They were truly “blood brothers” joined at the soul. The beautiful and powerful bond between these two boys took both their lives in different directions despite walking down the same path to find “The Thinkin’ Place. What is the Thinkin’ Place? It was the last thing that Carl spoke about to his daughter when he suddenly woke up from a coma. The only hint that the writers will give is that, “It’s the only place where you can go and make sense of it, where all the pieces seem to fit and where you clearly see what had to be.”




Theron Mines Darker Side Of Humanity

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Oct. 17, 2005) When North Country arrives at theatres Friday,
moviegoers will again have a chance to see Charlize Theron hide her beauty.  Having just turned an implausible 30, Theron is up to her neck in muck both physically and spiritually as Josey Aimes, a Minnesota ore miner fighting to break into the male bastion at her town's quarry. Directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider) and set in the late 1980s, the film is based on a true story that arose out of a landmark class-action sexual harassment lawsuit.  Theron is mostly seen in faded flannel and jeans, her face covered with dirt and lined with fatigue. It's a toss-up as to whether she's less glamorous than she was in Monster, where she gained weight and threw away her make-up kit to play the killer prostitute role that won her the Best Actress Oscar for 2003.  Her look in both movies is far removed from the shimmering blonde who sits for interviews during the Toronto film festival, the Dior perfume spokeswoman who appears every bit the fashion model she used to be.  And just how used to hearing that observation is Theron?  "There wasn't a lot of time spent in my household going, `Oh, you're so beautiful!" Theron says, recalling her childhood in South Africa, where she actually lived in a hard-scrabble mining town.  "It was, `Well, what are you going to do? What are you going to work at?'"  Theron grew up an only child on her parents' farm in Benoni, near Johannesburg, under the rule of a violent, alcoholic dad.  "Where I grew up in South Africa is very similar to Minnesota. It's a harsh landscape, a much harder life, not so much the luxury of sitting back and wallowing in self pity and things like that. I had a very early awareness that the way to succeed in life is through discipline and hard work."  She also saw the dark side of humanity at close quarters. At age 15, her mother Gerda shot her father Charles dead, claiming self defence. (No charges were laid.)

By 16, Theron had left home to begin a modelling career in Milan and New York. It later became a dancing career when she studied at the Joffrey Ballet.  A knee injury forced yet another change of plans, this time toward acting. At her mother's urging, she left for Los Angeles on the last of her meagre savings, hoping to break into Hollywood. It took almost a year of rejections before she landed her first role, a non-speaking part as a young mom in Children of the Corn III, the kind of movie for which drive-ins were invented.  Nearly 10 years followed of movies both good (That Thing You Do!, Devil's Advocate, The Cider House Rules, The Italian Job) and bad (The Astronaut's Wife, Sweet November) before Theron finally won serious respect and kudos in the small-budget film Monster, playing the Florida prostitute Aileen Wuornos, who despised men and who murdered seven of them.  So when Theron talks of understanding Josey Aimes's struggles in North Country, she speaks with authority.  She insists she takes tough and dirty roles not to impress Oscar voters — and there's much Academy buzz about her in Hollywood, where she recently witnessed the unveiling of her star on the Walk of Fame — but because she wants to explore the dark side of humanity.  "I'm fascinated by the human condition," she says, folding her long legs up beneath her. "I'm fascinated by what makes us become ugly. What makes us do ugly things. What circumstances will create the situations where people become as real and raw as they humanly can."  She got her wish right off the bat making the movie, most of which was filmed right in Minnesota, using real miners as extras — and they weren't shy about tossing a few real sexist remarks her way, such as telling her to "take off your top!"  The movie's pivotal scene, in which Josey confronts taunting and sexually abusive miners in a Steelworkers' union hall, was filmed very early in the production, before Theron had time to settle into the role. She managed to rise to the challenge.  "That was in my first three days of shooting this film and (director) Niki was not my favourite person!" Theron says, laughing. "She didn't plan it that way. It was really a production issue, something that we just couldn't change.

"It was horrific, but at the end of the film I actually thanked her for it. I realized that if we had shot that later on, I might have been a little too comfortable with my character. The scene was so not about that."  And North Country isn't about bashing men, she insists. The movie is of a piece with such female-empowerment predecessors as Norma Rae, Silkwood and Erin Brockovich, but it turns a surprisingly sympathetic eye toward men, not all of whom are depicted as ogres — the characters played by Woody Harrelson and Sean Bean, to name just two, exhibit traits that would be admirable in either gender.  "I don't like films that like to point fingers or are clear cut black and white, wrong and right," Theron says.  "When I started meeting these women (miners) I realized that they had a clear understanding of where the men came from. It was their bread and butter, and they saw women as a threat to that. At the core, it was survival. And when we're trying to survive we sometimes do horrible things. Not to justify it or anything like that, but that's the truth of the matter."  Actor Jeremy Renner, who plays the most abusive of the men in North Country, said he wouldn't have taken on the role if it had been completely one-dimensional and anti-male. But he found kindred spirits in both Theron and director Caro.  "Niki really trusted us in what we wanted to do with our characters and we trusted her back because of it," Renner says in a separate interview. "She would just set a stage and let us play. And Charlize is very gracious and very open."  One thing Theron isn't open to, however, is comparing her film roles. She doesn't like questions about the gritty similarities between her characters in North Country and Monster.  "They're all so different," she sighs. "They're all difficult and harder in many different ways, which is why I love them both so much. I didn't want to go in and redo Monster. I had no desire to relive that experience. So this movie was harder in many other ways."




A Thousand Films And One Queen: Genevieve Nnaji

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Matthew Hays

(Oct. 19, 2005) Montreal — With all of the anxiety about the past year's box-office lull, film-industry types have been preoccupied enough to overlook a major shift in the global cinema landscape. It has long been true that India's national film industry (often referred to as Bollywood) produces the largest number of features per year, at approximately 800, followed by the United States, which puts out about 400 films per annum. But pulling into first place is
Nigeria, a contender some might find unlikely. Buoyed by a voracious appetite among Nigerians (population: 128 million) for their own stories, and bolstered by the proliferation of video equipment -- allowing for less expensive production costs -- this developing nation's burgeoning film business now produces a whopping 1,000 features a year. Many of the films are done on budgets that look shoestring even by low-budget Canadian standards -- often they are shot on the quick, completed in under a week on $10,000. Nigeria's national cinema has evolved at an incredibly rapid rate, as its video-film phenomenon really only began in the late 1970s. As Nollywood expert and University of Alberta film professor Onookome Okome has noted, Nigerian government officials now see the industry as a crucial component of the economy. "Agents of government are no longer simply interested in the content of video films vis-à-vis how video films portray the cultures," he wrote in the cinema journal Film International last year. "They are now interested in the financial benefits which the enterprise makes possible for the nation." There are obvious offshoots of a strong and popular national cinema, and with Nollywood's growth has come a fledgling star system. The newly minted queen of Nollywood is Genevieve Nnaji -- star of over 60 films -- as well as a lucrative product-endorsement career on the side, a growing fan base and her own fan site. As one fan recently declared enthusiastically, "Genevieve Nnaji makes Halle Berry look like chopped liver!"

Canadians will be getting a crash course in Nollywood this week, when Montreal's Festival du Nouveau Cinéma screens a selection of popular Nigerian films, jetting the first lady of this national cinema, Nnaji, into town to introduce the series. Nnaji, 26, says she is "thrilled" that the festival has chosen to highlight the Nigerian cinema, a national culture she feels too many are prone to overlook. "Hopefully, our efforts in film haven't been wasted." Nollywood films tend to be full of moralizing messages, cautionary tales in which citizens are handed dire warnings about the perilous consequences of infidelity, crime and greed. The video films are hugely popular with Nigerian women, who are overwhelmingly the cinema's main consumers. The films are akin to the American melodrama genre of the 1940s and 1950s, often reflecting shifting roles for women, at once expected to move forward while remaining true to archaic and rigid gender roles. "Perhaps women tend to be more emotional," Nnaji says, trying to explain Nollywood's appeal. "These films are like soap operas. I think women are more accepting as well. But men are beginning to get these films more and more, and I think they're becoming more popular with the men as well." Nnaji began in the film business as an extra when she was 18 and was promptly spotted by a talent agent. She has since made over 60 features, many of them two-part movies, including titles such as Age of My Agony and Games Women Play. This year Nnaji won the African Academy Award for best actress. Her next film involved what Nnaji describes as her most demanding role to date, in Mildred Okwo's 30 Days, about political disruption and the assassination of corrupt government officials. While arguing that it's important to send "positive messages to kids," Nnaji acknowledges that her screen persona is that of the bad girl or vixen. In Private Sin, which screens this week at the Nouveau Festival, for example, Nnaji plays a wayward wife who causes all manner of horrors for her well-meaning husband. But despite this reputation, Nnaji does not feel pigeonholed.

"People watch out for the best performances in movies," she says. "It's actually a compliment [being typecast]. It means that audiences have seen me in a role and believed it. It's fulfilling. I've actually played many more romantic roles than I have bad-girl roles, but those are the ones that have stuck with audiences." For Nnaji, the main perception she'd like to see change is the attitude towards anyone who works within the Nigerian film business. "I'd like to think I've helped to change the perception of actors and actresses within our country. We are responsible people. I've been able to play a villain and then people could come out of the cinema and see me as human. That's fulfilling. This is about making a good movie, not about fame or money. There's a downside to it, sometimes -- the media can really get out of hand. But I don't dwell on negatives. I'm still working on it. And I won't stop because I believe in what I'm doing." Genevieve Nnaji is in Montreal this week to present the Nollywood series at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, which screens until Sunday. (514-844-2172 or





Roy Jones Jr. The Next Rocky Opponent?

Excerpt from

(October 18, 2005) *Boxer Roy Jones Jr. is reportedly in talks to star opposite Sylvester Stallone in the sixth film of the “Rocky” franchise, reports Daily Variety.  The athlete would play Rocky’s opponent, Mason Dixon, in the upcoming “Rocky Balboa,” for Columbia, Revolution Studios and MGM. The three studios are teaming to co-produce and co-finance “Balboa,” in which Stallone returns as Philadelphia working-class hero and former champ, Rocky Balboa. The actor will also write and direct the project, which is scheduled to begin shooting in the first quarter of 2006 in Philadelphia and Las Vegas. No release date has been set yet.  Stallone said the story starts with a big videogame match up between Mason Dixon, the reigning world champ, and Rocky.   “Balboa wins,” Stallone told Daily Variety. "The champion's management says let's do this for real, for charity. Rocky says no but decides to be true to himself even though he's going to be berated by everyone. Just to compete, not to win."

Common To ‘Touch The Sky’ In Hollywood

Excerpt from

(October 18, 2005) *Common has been cast opposite Alicia Keys, Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta in the upcoming film “Smokin’ Aces,” which means he has to bow out of his scheduled Touch the Sky tour with Kanye West, reports Live Daily. Although his name has been taken off the bill, Common did make a surprise guest appearance at the Touch the Sky tour opener at the University of Miami's Convocation Center on Oct. 11. According to a review of the show on, Common joined West on stage for the songs "Get Em High" and "Go." Common is also expected to make appearances at other tour stops as his film schedule permits.  In Common’s absence, West has opted not to book a replacement performer, but rather expand his own set of songs from 2004's "The College Dropout" and the August-released "Late Registration."  Keyshia Cole and "American Idol" star Fantasia serve as opening acts for West’s two-month, 46-date trek through a mix of arenas, universities and theatres, including multiple-night stands in Detroit, New York and Los Angeles.








Fox Appears On Boston Legal

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Oct. 19, 2005) NEW YORK (AP) —
Michael J. Fox, who left his "Spin City'' sitcom because of his fight against Parkinson's disease, will guest star on three episodes of Boston Legal scheduled to air this season.  Fox will play a CEO battling stage-four lung cancer who hires Denny Crane (William Shatner) and his associates to represent him in a lawsuit involving a promising anti-cancer drug, ABC announced Monday.  During one of his visits, Fox's character becomes involved with Denise Bauer (Julie Bowen), one of the firm's lawyers.  "We couldn't be more excited. His comedic and dramatic strengths make him a natural for this series," creator and executive producer David E. Kelley said in a statement.  The Emmy-winning actor started the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research after revealing in 1998 that he was battling the disease, a degenerative neurological disorder that affects movement.  Fox, 44, left "Spin City" at the end of the 1999-2000 season.

Kutcher Mines Marriage For Laughs

Source: Associated Press

(Oct. 18, 2005) Los Angeles —
Ashton Kutcher isn't letting the tabloids have all the fun: He's producing a sitcom pilot loosely based on his relationship with Demi Moore. The project, being developed for the Fox TV network by Twentieth Century Fox Television and Kutcher's production company, is about a younger man who marries an older woman and becomes stepdad to her children. The pilot has yet to be cast and it was unknown if Kutcher had any plans to star in it, a Twentieth Century spokesman said Tuesday. Kutcher, 27, and Moore, 42, who are favourite subjects of tabloid newspaper and magazines, married last month in a ceremony attended by her ex-husband, Bruce Willis, and their three daughters. The comedy pilot was being written by Holly Hester (“The Drew Carey Show”). Kutcher is among the show's executive producers.








More Plays, More Space For Soulpepper

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Kamal Al-Solaylee

(Oct. 19, 2005) In a venue "tantalizingly close to completion" Soulpepper Theatre Company's artistic director Albert Schultz yesterday launched the next phase in the evolution of Toronto's unstoppable artist-funded, classical repertory company. After eight years and 42 productions as a predominately summer company at Harbourfront Centre -- and from a first-season budget in 1998 of $700,000 to its current $6-million -- Soulpepper moves to year-long programming and to its new home at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the city's Distillery Historic District. The result of an intricate partnership between Soulpepper and George Brown College, the Young Centre is a space for performance, training, youth outreach and mentorship -- in fulfilment of Soulpepper's mandate. Although rehearsals for two Soulpepper productions are already under way in the Young Centre, the first official performance will be on Jan. 23. Designed by Thomas Payne, of Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna, Blumberg Architects, the Young Centre boasts four indoor flexible performance spaces, ranging in size from 90 to 425 seats; an outdoor theatre and "artist garden"; six teaching and rehearsal spaces; a central lobby with bookstore, fireplace and reference library; and administrative facilities for both Soulpepper and George Brown. It will also be a home for "previously nomadic" theatre, dance and music companies wishing to rent some of the performance or rehearsal spaces. "As such, the Young Centre will be the most holistic performing-arts, education and community-outreach facility in this country," said Schultz. On the performance front, 2006 will be divided into four seasons, featuring works by American, Russian, Irish, Romanian and British playwrights, spanning four centuries. Soulpepper's winter season kicks off with a return to Thornton Wilder's Our Town (1938), a Joseph Ziegler production it first mounted in 1999. Morris Panych continues the exploration of community and small-town lives with his adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspector (1836). David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-wining American Buffalo (1977), to be directed by founding member Stuart Hughes, takes the company through the spring. The summer of 2006 includes director Ben Barnes's interpretation of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), a co-production with The Leanor and Alvin Segal Theatre in Montreal, where it opens next month. Also on the summer playbill will be Diana Leblanc's production of Tom Stoppard's 1983 work The Real Thing and Jim Warren's take on Eugène Ionesco's The Chairs (1952).

William Shakespeare's King Lear (1605), featuring William Webster in the title role under Ziegler's direction, and 2005 Nobel Prize-winner Harold Pinter's The Caretaker (1960), will be the fall highlights. As a tribute to its Victorian surroundings in the Distillery District, Soulpepper will also remount Michael Shamata's stage adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol -- although it will not be offered in its subscription packages. Schultz also announced the company's most-ambitious artist-training initiative, the Soulpepper Academy. Beginning in June, 2006, 10 Canadian artists with a minimum of four years of professional experience will begin a two-year paid residency. Training will be divided into four areas: ensemble, verse, multimedia performances and collective creation. Each area of study will result in a main-stage production the following year. Youth outreach programs at the Young Centre will be divided into mentorship and access. Mentorship includes programs that connect senior artists with young people in the classroom, rehearsal hall, theatre or the community. Youth access features a "Bring a Parent to the Theatre" program where a student-priced ticket comes with a free one for an adult, and "Youth Rush" which allows anyone under 25 to attend a Soulpepper performance for $5, "less than half the price of a movie," Schultz said.




Beauty And Her Beasts: Dame Edna

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Oct. 19, 2005) HOLLYWOOD— Dame Edna wants to set the record straight: Tom Cruise proposed to her before settling on Katie Holmes.  "Poor Tom," she sighs, stirring a cup of tea as we share a power breakfast in a trendy L.A. hotel. "The dear boy was so into me, but he was, errr, lacking in certain things I find necessary in a partner."  The Scientology issue was another stumbling block. "`I have my own cult, Tom,' I told him `and it's bigger than yours.' That shut him up and the needy little beggar left me alone."  Edna is in her element here in La-La Land, frantically trying to juggle offers and close deals before she heads to Toronto, where her latest show, Back With A Vengeance, starts previews Tuesday at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.  She looks astonishingly understated in a trim chenille suit. "It's taupe, possum. I've had it with black. And taupe springs eternal."  There's no sign, however, of her manager Barry Humphries, and Edna tells me that "if you want to speak to that crook, you'll have to go down the street to the greasy spoon, where he belongs."  "I've been asked to do a new reality show with Paris Hilton, but frankly, I find her just the tiniest bit c-o-m-m-o-n, don't you? Besides, I like shows that are enduring and nothing that Hilton girl does lasts much longer than one night, does it?"  She's also weighing the possibility of appearing on the hit series Desperate Housewives. "I mean, darling, Edna is the original desperate housewife. I would be a sort of counsellor, advising one wife each week. I see myself in a lovely office, sharing and caring — the things I do best.  Another surprising piece of news is that Edna will be making her Las Vegas debut this Christmas. "I'm at the Luxor, that sweet little hotel that looks like a pyramid. It's very handy because when people lose money and want to commit suicide, they don't have to jump out of a window, they just slide down the wall."  A non-stop chorus of glitterati stops by our table to pay court to Edna, who seems to know all the Hollywood dish.

"I told them that Daniel Craig was a stupid choice to play James Bond," she sneers. "I never trust a man with two Christian names. Besides, he doesn't look like a suave secret agent, more like someone who would valet-park your car wearing a T-shirt under a fake Armani suit."  And it's not just the world of show business that seeks Edna out.  "Laura Bush is on the phone to me a lot, asking me if I could use some influence to convince George to have a drink.  "He hasn't had one in 13, 14 years and those white knuckles are driving her crazy. But the poor boy has his ways of compensating. Whenever he feels like a drink, he just goes out and invades someone."  A black-suited media mogul scoots over to our corner table for some whispered talk with Edna, followed by an air kiss.  "That's my producer. I might as well break the news to the Toronto Star first, Richard, but they're planning to make the film version of my life. I will play the older Edna, Nicole Kidman the middle-aged Edna, and maybe that Paris Hilton girl as young Edna if we could clean her up a bit. She'd need grooming and brainwashing and maybe even plastic surgery."  Edna has always denied that she has known the surgeon's knife, but she now makes another staggering revelation.  "I've had to have some artificial double chins added on, because I was looking too young and attractive.  "They were made from Elizabeth Taylor's left love handle and if you look closely, you can still see Richard Burton's fingernails."  Edna is looking forward to being in Toronto, she says, "so I can jog along the waterfront in the new mauve and fluorescent pink jogging suits that my son Kenny has designed for me.  "In fact, Kenny will be visiting me in Toronto with Clifford Smail, his partner. I hate that word `partner,' since it makes him sound like a lawyer instead of a boyfriend. At any rate, Kenny said he would have some sort of ceremony in Toronto. Do you know what he's talking about?"





Relieved Pinball: Bring On Those Alouettes

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
 Rick Matsumoto, Sports Reporter

(Oct. 17, 2005) WINNIPEG—It was just minutes after his Argonauts had pulled out a thrill-packed 35-32 victory over the Winnipeg Blue
Bombers on the final play of the game, but head coach Mike Clemons was eagerly looking ahead to next Saturday's match with the Alouettes at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.  "It's going to be quite a showdown with two good football teams," said Clemons. "That's the way it's supposed to be at the end of the year.  "It'll probably be a great crowd. With them winning on the last play, too, people probably went to the box office to sell that game out.  "It'll be a great pre-playoff game. Both teams will treat it like a playoff game."  The Alouettes had executed a similarly heart-stopping triumph three hours earlier when they scored a touchdown on the final play of the game to beat the B.C. Lions 46-44.  That left the Argos and the Als still deadlocked for first place in the CFL's East Division with 18 points each.  The winner of Saturday afternoon's game, which has been moved to the 50,000-plus seats of the Big O from 20,202-seat Molson Stadium, will gain the upper hand in the battle for first place.  After that game, the two teams face the same opponents over the final two weekends of the regular season with the Argos facing Hamilton and Ottawa and the vice-versa for the Als.  A first-place finish means a bye into the division final and a two-week layoff, which would allow bumps and bruises to heal.  Clemons said he tried to keep the outcome of the Montreal-B.C. game from his players as they took the windswept Canada Inns Stadium field yesterday afternoon.  "I heard it was 44-41," he said. "And we tried to block it out. I said don't listen to the score. But then they announced it. I heard B.C. mentioned second, so I was assuming Montreal came back and won because they usually announce the lower score second.  "But I really didn't know for sure until after the game."

Clemons had plenty to occupy his mind during his own game.  After coming back from a 14-3 deficit to lead 15-14 at the half, the Argos increase the margin to 32-22 with just over five minutes remaining in the game.  But the feisty Blue Bombers, who played like anything other than a team that had been eliminated from the playoffs when Calgary beat Hamilton Friday night, battled back.  With just 1:08 remaining, they tied the score at 32.  However, quarterback Damon Allen and slotback Arland Bruce III combined as they had done of seven previous pass-and-catch plays during the game to set up Noel Prefontaine's 20-yard game-winning field goal.  The amazing 42-year-old Allen had another brilliant game, completing 26 of 39 passes for 484 yards.  Bruce's eight catches totalled 137 yards and pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark on the season. He finished with 1,192 yards.  Wide receiver Andre Talbot, who was a forgotten target over the past few games, was back in the picture yesterday with five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.  Running back John Avery had the other Argo TD.  He left the game in the second quarter with a pulled hamstring and did not return. The injury was to be re-assessed by team doctors today in Toronto.

Bomber running back Charles Roberts, the league's leading rusher, gave the Argo defence huge problems as he gained 176 yards on 24 carries.  Clemons said that even after Talbot fumbled the ball after making a difficult catch to end a drive that might have put the game out of Winnipeg's reach, he had a feeling Allen would pull out the win.  It was after that fumble recovery that the Bombers tied the score 32-32 on Troy Westwood's field goal.  "He had a smile on his face and it suggested to me that he knew he was going to have another chance," said Clemons. "He had that little smile, that little smirk on his face.  "When he has that look on his face he's dialled in. When he's playing like he is we have a chance to win every game."





Reebok Signs Tennis Ace Scoville Jenkins

Excerpt from

(Oct. 19, 2005) *
Reebok is hoping that 19-year-old Scoville Jenkins will be the next big superstar to emerge from the world of pro tennis.  The young Atlanta native’s impressive performance at September’s U.S. Open, not to mention his jump in the rankings from No. 505 to 262, has caught the attention of the athletic apparel company, which signed the athlete to a multi-year deal worth at least $100,000 per year, reports ESPN. "He has shown that he's one of the most proven of the young teenage talent on tour," said Jenkins' agent Tom Ross. "And Reebok was looking for the next great competitor since Andy [Roddick] went to Lacoste."  In August, Jenkins beat No. 55 Jarkko Nieminen in New Haven, Conn., and days later beat 115th ranked George Bastl in five sets to claim his first U.S. Open victory.  He lost in the second-round to Rafael Nadal in straight sets.  The brother is one of several African-American competitors in men's tennis that have emerged in recent months. Nike has already signed 17-year-old Donald Young to a contract, and 19-year-old Phillip Simmonds has skyrocketed from No. 899 at the start of the year to No. 353, due in part to his appearance in the finals of last week's challenger event in Sacramento.





Lusting for Beaver: Canadian Comedy Awards

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Doug Morency, Special To The Star

(Oct. 16, 2005) Looking to catch some of the best comedy in Toronto this week? Then head to London, Ont., because that's where all the comedians will be, at the sixth annual Canadian Comedy Awards from Wednesday to Saturday.  Some of Toronto's marquee names will be performing; some will be at the gala in hopes of taking home a coveted "Beaver;" and others will be there drinking heavily and complaining bitterly about the winners. Just like any other night back at home but this time it's a festival.  Myself, I can't wait to get there. It's my first visit in the three years that the awards have been handed out in London.  In previous years I was lucky enough to win awards in absentia; I hope I'm not jinxing myself by showing up. There is nothing I would like more than to walk away with a few Beavers — a good night by anyone's standards.  I'm nominated four times in three categories, competing against myself in the Improv Troupe category. I'm a member of both the Williamson Playboys and Monkey Toast and while it would be nice if Monkey Toast wins, I am pulling for the Playboys as, frankly, there'd be fewer people to split the prize money with.  In the other two categories, my allegiances are clear. I'm nominated in the Comedic Play category with Ayumi Iizuka for a play called The Kupps Runneth Over and also in the Male Improviser category, an award I was lucky enough to win in 2003 mainly because Colin Mochrie was out of the country.  That year the category was called "Pretty Funny" Male Improviser. I liked that title because when people would come to see me, it would keep expectations down a bit. "Hilarious" Male Improviser or "Incredible" Male Improviser, well, those are hard awards to live up to.

People ask all the time what it's like to win a Canadian Comedy Award and I tell them it's just like winning a Dora Mavor Moore Award. They ask, "What's that?" And I say, "Exactly." But that's just me. I wanted to find how others felt. I asked Iizuka, who already has two Beavers, what it means to win.  "It's potentially life changing," she said, "Look at what happened to Brent Butt. He hosts the Canadian Comedy Awards and then, boom, Corner Gas becomes a big hit on CTV. And he only hosted. He didn't even win. Then Corner Gas wins a few Beavers and, boom, it becomes the number one Canadian comedy. That's impressive."  I reminded her that there were probably other factors involved in the success of the show.  "Look at you," she interrupted, "It changed your life. Since you won a few Beavers you don't need to take the TTC to travel around town any more. You were able to buy a bike!"  "And a helmet," I replied. She was right.  But it's not only about winning awards. The festival is a place to see a wide gamut of Canadian comics, mostly from Toronto, perform nightly in a variety of genres. You can even catch a hockey game between the Jokers, a team comprised of comics and musicians, and London Knights alumni. It's billed as a hilarious mixture of comedy and hockey. Should be a lot like watching the Leafs.  The Canadian Comedy Awards and Festival: finally a reason to go to London.  The Canadian Comedy Awards run Oct. 19-22 in London. For schedule, see




New Authors Seek Prize: Governor General's Award Nominations

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Philip Marchand

(Oct. 18, 2005) Most of the nominees for the
Governor General's Award for fiction (English language), announced yesterday morning at Nicholas Hoare bookstore, are relatively new faces in Canadian literature.  Charlotte Gill's book of short stories, Ladykiller, is her first book, and both Nellcott is My Darling by Golda Fried and Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden are first novels. Kathy Page, nominated for her sixth novel, Alphabet, which is set in a men's prison in Britain, is also a newcomer to Canadian literature in a sense — she's a Brit who moved to the West Coast only four years ago.  This leaves the veteran Toronto writer David Gilmour, also nominated for his sixth novel. A Perfect Night to Go to China is about a father whose child disappears when his attention is momentarily distracted. There has never been any doubt about Gilmour's talent; his books have always been lively, acute in observation and often funny. They have also been accused of being self-indulgent, featuring protagonists whose drinking and womanizing have been all too clear reflections of habits possessed by the author.  All of these traits — particularly the trait of being funny — have in the past been virtual disqualifications for either the Giller or the Governor General's Award. Both tend to go to serious narratives that are, deep down, wholesome and good for you. But A Perfect Night to Go to China is clearly a breakthrough for Gilmour.  "This is a book that doesn't have sex or drinking in it, for one thing," comments the 55-year-old author. "The reasons for that are very simple. I'm a very, very happily married man now. When you're a happily married man, there's a whole bunch of stuff you don't think about any more, and when you don't think about this stuff, you don't write about it. It's a direct manifestation of personal growth."  Instead of debauchery, Gilmour looked at family life. "The trick of good writing is to go where the heat is," he says. "When I was a single man, the pursuit of women really did seem the pursuit of God to me. It sounds silly, but that's what I felt. But as a husband and father I thought, what is the great area of vulnerability? Well, there's only one, and that's your children. That is the great arena. That's the one area you don't want to think about.  "But for some reason I kept wanting to write a book about visiting my son in the underworld. If I had a choice, given the loss of my son, of spending the rest of life on earth or visiting him in the underworld, I would probably choose the latter. I said to myself, just write it. Just do it."

Easier said than done. At first Gilmour tried to write around the subject. "I kept trying to do it as a film noir where everyone was stylish and clever," he recalls. It was his editor at Thomas Allen Publishers who pushed him to embrace the subject or forget it. "Patrick Crean saved my literary life," Gilmour says. "No other editor would go near the book. No agent would go near the book. I needed somebody to say, you can do this. I really needed a gesture of faith."  Gilmour had already produced several drafts of the novel — 16 or 17 — but Crean told him only 40 pages were any good. "I knew which 40 pages they were, too," Gilmour says. "It's the part where the protagonist loses his son.  "So I put a picture of my son on the computer, switched it on, and wrote the final draft in five weeks, without even looking at any previous draft. I just admitted what it was about and did it and then it came very swiftly. I stopped fighting it. The book became what it was." (It should be noted that the theme of the lost child is not really new in Gilmour — his first novel, 1986's Back on Tuesday, featured a young daughter of the hero at some risk.)  Gilmour has always tried to keep book prizes in perspective. "You spoil this whole writing thing very, very quickly if you start getting craven about prizes, start thinking about who's winning them or not winning them," he comments. "I want to write for the rest of my life, so I try to do nothing that's going to bruise me."  Nevertheless, having won such an award, he knows its value. "What a nomination like this does, it means a whole lot of people who would not have looked at your book will now," he says. "Whether you like it or not, a nomination (for the Governor General's Award) is like legitimacy."

Giller vs. GG: After the list of finalists for the fiction award was read out, there was a mild stir in the room — the five were completely different than the five finalists for this year's Giller Prize.  Usually there are one or two novels on both lists, especially when an Atwood or Ondaatje has produced a new book. But completely different lists were produced in the first year of the Giller Prize in 1994, and then again in 1997 and 1997. It's no scandal. It just means there are a large number of novels published in Canada these days and the overwhelming majority can be considered "meritorious."  Russell Smith and the other fiction-award jurors read something like 186 books, with very few stinkers among them. "You couldn't dismiss very many," Smith says. "You really had to read them."  A third and fourth list of novels could have been selected this year without any dropoff in quality. A Perfect Pledge by Rabindranath Maharaj didn't make either the Giller or GG list.  By the same token, no novel published this year was so spectacular as to demand to be on every list. The age of classic prose fiction seems to be over.  Non-fiction is another question. While the list of finalists was not particularly distinguished this year, the form generally is gaining in recognition and in literary importance, as indicated by its slowly increasing presence at Harbourfront's International Festival of Authors.  Comments Ben McNally, manager of Nicholas Hoare bookstore, "It's a much better year for non-fiction than fiction. If you want to read a good Canadian book, read non-fiction."

2005 Governor General Literary Awards – Nominees

Source:  Canadian Press

(Oct. 17, 2005) Here are the English-language finalists, announced Monday, for the
Governor General Literary Awards:

Joseph Boyden, New Orleans for Three Day Road
Golda Fried, Greensboro, N.C., formerly of Toronto, for Nellcott Is My Darling
Charlotte Gill, Vancouver, for Ladykiller
David Gilmour, Toronto, for A Perfect Night to Go to China
Kathy Page, Salt Spring Island, B.C., for Alphabet
Anne Compton, Rothesay, N.B., for Processional
Barry Dempster, Holland Landing, Ont., for The Burning Alphabet
Erin Moure, Montreal, for Little theatres
W.H. New, Vancouver, for Underwood Log
Olive Senior, Toronto, for Over the Roofs of the World
Marjorie Chan, Toronto, for China Doll
Don Druick, Elmira, Ont., for Through the Eyes
Daniel MacIvor, Toronto, for Cul-de-sac
John Mighton, Toronto, for Half Life
Richard Sanger, Toronto, for Two Words for Snow
Ted Bishop, Edmonton, for Riding with Rilke: Reflections on Motorcycles and Books
Michael Mitchell, Toronto, for The Molly Fire
Edward Shorter, La Crosse, Wis., formerly of Toronto, for Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire
John Vaillant, Vancouver, for The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed
Jessica Warner, Toronto, for The Incendiary: The Misadventures of John the Painter, First Modern Terrorist
Children's Literature — Text
Francis Chalifour, Toronto, for After
Barbara Nickel, Yarrow, B.C., for Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach
Gail Nyoka, Toronto, for Mella and the N'anga: An African Tale
Pamela Porter, Sidney, B.C., for The Crazy Man
Shyam Selvadurai, Toronto, for Swimming in the Monsoon Sea
Children's Literature — Illustration
Kyrsten Brooker, Edmonton, for City Angel, text by Eileen Spinelli
Wallace Edwards, Yarker, Ont., for Mixed Beasts, text by Kenyon Cox
Rob Gonsalves, Mallorytown, Ont., for Imagine a Day, text by Sarah L. Thomson
Murray Kimber, Nelson, B.C., for The Highwayman, text by Alfred Noyes
Rajka Kupesic, Toronto, for Maria Chapdelaine, text by Louis Hemon
Translation (French to English)
Jane Brierley, Montreal, for America: The Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Dawn of a New Power
Susanne de Lotbiniere-Harwood, Montreal, for Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon
Wayne Grady, Athens, Ont., for Return from Africa
Fred A. Reed, Montreal, for Truth or Death: The Quest for Immortality in the Western Narrative Tradition
Fred A. Reed and David Homel, Montreal, for All that Glitters




We Remember: Civil Rights Activist C. Delores Tucker Passed Away

Excerpt from

(October 14, 2005) *Political activist Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, the spirited civil rights pioneer who made headlines in the early nineties as gangsta rap’s most vocal opponent, died Wednesday of undisclosed causes in Norristown, Pa.  She was 78.  Tucker made civil rights strides during the sixties and seventies, becoming the first black woman to be named vice chair of the state Democratic Party and the first woman vice president of the Pennsylvania NAACP. In 1965 she was the woman to the immediate right of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as they led a civil rights march in Selma, Ala.  In 1971, Gov. Milton J. Shapp appointed her as the first black and first woman to be secretary of the commonwealth. During her tenure, she helped streamline voter registration and lower the voting age to 18, and started the first State Commission on the Status of Women. But Shapp fired her in 1977 for using state employees to write political speeches that earned her $65,000. Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory and Rosa Parks came to her defense, believing her dismissal was racially motivated.  In 1993, she incurred the wrath of free speech enthusiasts when she began a public protest of gangsta rap lyrics.  She even picketed the NAACP in 1994 – despite being a member of the board of trustees – when it nominated Tupac Shakur for one of its Image Awards.  In 1999, a federal judge threw out the suit Tucker filed against the estate of the late Shakur involving the rhyming of her last name with an obscenity in his 1996 album "All Eyez on Me." She was also unsuccessful in suits against Time, Newsweek and other publications for their apparent misinterpretation of a lawyer's comment to reporters about her lawsuit seeking damages for emotional distress because of a "loss of consortium."

The legal definition of consortium includes a spouse's loss of "society, guidance, companionship and sexual relations," but it was the sexual aspect that magazines and a number of newspapers cited. Tucker and her attorneys denied that the suit had anything to do with damage to her sex life. The suit was thrown out by U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter in 1999. Tucker was born Cynthia DeLores Nottage on Oct. 4, 1927, in Philadelphia to parents Reverend Whitfield Nottage and Mrs. Captilda Gardiner Nottage. The second-youngest of 11 children, she married entrepreneur William L. Tucker shortly after graduating from Girls High School in 1946. She began speaking out against injustice at the age of 16, when she protested from the flatbed of a truck outside the old Bellevue Stratford hotel because it refused entrance to black athletes. She attended Temple University in Philadelphia and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She received Honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Morris College in Alabama and Villa Maria College in Pennsylvania.  In May 1998, she was the recipient of the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, which the students of the University of the District of Columbia nominated her to receive. A soror of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Tucker is survived by her husband William. As of press time, service arrangements were not available.

"The cause of civil rights was a lifelong crusade for C. DeLores Tucker," Philadelphia Mayor John Street said. "Her continued work promoting and protecting the legacy of Dr. King and the non-violent movement for change will never be forgotten." "America has lost one of the great civil rights activists of our time. ... She did it with dedication, class, grace and dignity," Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said. "I think the state, the nation and the world will long remember a woman who stood up for all people and who dedicated her life to helping others," said Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll. "She was an unstoppable bell ringer for social change," said U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa. "At a time when women and people of color often were relegated to second-class citizenship, she rose above and challenged those assertions, demanding to be engaged based on her intellect and passion," said state Sen. Anthony H. Williams.

We Remember: Civil Rights Pioneer Vivian Jones Dies At 64

Excerpt from

(October 14, 2005) *Vivian Malone Jones, one of two black students whose effort to enroll at the University of Alabama led to George Wallace's infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” in 1963, died Thursday. She was 63.  Jones, who eventually became the school’s first black graduate, died at Atlanta Medical Center, where she had been admitted Tuesday after suffering a stroke, said her sister, Sharon Malone.  A retired federal worker who lived in Atlanta, Jones grew up in Mobile, Ala., and eventually enrolled at historically black Alabama A&M University in Huntsville when she transferred to the University of Alabama in 1963. The move led to then-Gov. Wallace's infamous stand in defiance of orders to admit black students. Jones and James Hood, accompanied by then-Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, enrolled after Wallace finished his statement and left.  After graduating, Jones went on to work for the U.S. Justice Department in Washington and for the Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta, where she retired, her sister said.  Wallace's son, George Jr., called Jones ``a true American hero'' and said he ``was deeply saddened'' to hear of her death.




Cultural Diversity Policy Voted In

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Graham Fraser, National Affairs Writer

(Oct. 18, 2005) Despite intense pressure from the United States not to, over150 countries voted yesterday to create an international convention on cultural diversity.  Commission IV of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has been meeting in Paris, voted 151 to 2 in favour of the Canadian initiative, with only the United States and Israel voting against.  The international agreement — formally the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions — reaffirms the right of sovereign states to "maintain, adopt and implement" policies that protect and promote cultural expression, and exempt certain cultural products from free-trade agreements.  The impetus behind the convention was the Chrétien government's 1999 attempt to protect the magazine industry in the face of pressure from the U.S., which successfully argued that the magazine law was in breach of the World Trade Organization's subsidy rules.  The campaign led to a remarkable coalition, not only between English- and French-speakers, but also between the federal and Quebec governments.  What brought them together and kept them united was their agreement that cultural products have a double quality: they involve identity as well as commercial value.  The U.S., which has consistently fought any guarantees for films that might put any restrictions on Hollywood, as well as opposing any subsidies for film production and magazines, has argued that UNESCO does not have the authority to enact the convention, and that it would interfere with the free flow of ideas.  More recently, a U.S. official argued that the convention could lead to censorship and, because of the focus on national culture, make intercultural activities more difficult.  Heritage Minister Liza Frulla said yesterday from Paris that the U.S., which returned to UNESCO after a long absence, first complained that it did not have enough time to study the convention, and then raised a different series of objections as time went on.

Frulla said that the U.S. put a lot of pressure on countries, with its Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, sending letters to foreign ministers, and U.S. ambassadors conducting an international diplomatic campaign against the convention.  But despite efforts by the U.S. to water down the convention, with the introduction of 27 amendments, the text was approved without modification.  The convention, to be voted on by UNESCO on Thursday, then has to be ratified by 30 countries within the next year in order to become a binding international instrument.  Vancouver publisher Scott McIntyre, co-chair of the Coalition for Cultural Diversity, yesterday applauded the vote, saying that it recognizes the right of countries to have cultural policies that establish national content quotas, subsidies, tax credit and foreign ownership rules to ensure that their citizens have access to their own culture.  "If you don't have these policies, you simply will not have a meaningful choice of Canadian books, music, films or television programs," he said. "This is what has been at stake all along in this debate."  Pierre Curzi, the other co-chair of the coalition, said yesterday that it was urgently important to have the UNESCO convention in place because of the pressure that countries were facing in trade negotiations to give up the right to protect their cultures.





Ex-SNL Cast Member Commits Suicide

Source:  Associated Press

(Oct. 17, 2005) Farmington, Conn. — Actor and comedian
Charles Rocket, who had roles in a variety of movies and TV series and briefly gained notoriety for uttering an obscenity on Saturday Night Live, committed suicide, the state medical examiner ruled. Rocket, 56, whose real name was Charles Claverie, was found dead in a field near his home in Canterbury on Oct 7. His throat had been cut, the medical examiner said. "An investigation determined there was no criminal aspect to this case," state police Sgt. J. Paul Vance said Monday. Rocket was a cast member on NBC's Saturday Night Live during the 1980-81 season. The profanity incident happened during a spoof of the Who Shot J.R.? plot line on Dallas. Dallas star Charlene Tilton was the SNL guest host that week. Rocket, who came on stage in a wheelchair, uttered the profanity after he was asked what it was like to have been shot. The incident sparked complaints from viewers and prompted NBC to issue an apology. Rocket was later dismissed along with other cast members and writers on the show amid weak ratings at the time. He went on to appear in numerous TV shows, including Moonlighting and Max Headroom, and provided voices for cartoon series. His movie credits included Earth Girls Are Easy, Dumb and Dumber, and Dances With Wolves, according to the Internet Movie Database. Before his time on Saturday Night Live, Rocket was an anchor at television stations in Colorado and Rhode Island and played an influential role in the Providence, R.I., arts scene decades ago, friends said. "I just think he was one of the nicest and funniest people I ever met," said Chip Young, who co-wrote a column on Rocket in a Providence paper. "He had so many friends and influenced so many people."







Avoid Common Exercise Pitfalls

By Diana Rini, eFitness Guest Columnist

(Oct. 18, 2005) Exercise has numerous benefits. Unfortunately, common
mistakes may prevent many well-intentioned but frustrated exercisers from realizing their goals. Mistakes can lead to injuries or at the very least be counterproductive to fitness goals. Avoid some of the following common mistakes to have a better chance of seeing the results you desire from your fitness program.

1. Not Consulting a Professional
It’s always advisable to consult with a medical professional before starting an exercise program and to work with a fitness professional to learn proper technique and avoid injuries.

2. Skipping warm-up.
Not warming up before you exercise can limit muscle function and increase the risk of injury. Take 5 to 10 minutes walk in place, jog or ride a bike so the muscles can adjust to the extra demands of exercise.

3. Skipping cool-down
Too often people head straight to the locker room after their last repetition and neglect to cool down. However, this is a very important part of the exercise process. Cooling down will return the body to pre-exercise conditions and reduce muscle soreness. Take the time to lower your heart rate through walking at a slower pace for 5 to 10 minutes and stretch. Stretching improves flexibility and prepares the body for the next workout.

4. Trying To Spot Reduce
People who want six-pack abs or try to get rid of fat in their arms think the solution is increased exercise for that body part. You can’t spot reduce! To reach your goals, you need a balanced program of cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, and a proper diet. As you decrease your overall body fat, your problem areas will improve.

5. No variety
One of the main reasons people plateau is because they do not change their routine. By always doing the same workout, your muscles quickly adapt and are no longer stimulated. Mix things up by trying new exercises or switching the exercise order. Experiment with barbells, dumbbells, machines or body resistance (think push-up). If you don't change your program from time to time you, and your muscles will soon become bored.

6. Overtraining
Exercising too frequently, using too much intensity, or not scheduling rest times are all signs of overtraining. Overtraining can lead to burnout, injury or abandoning exercise altogether. Muscles need at least 24 to 48 hours between weight-training sessions to heal from the stress placed upon them. Realize the importance of balance and that more is not always better.

7. Undertraining
While it's true that you don't want to overdo it, don’t go the other way, either. Sitting on an exercise bike without pedaling won’t burn many calories. Neither will socializing. You need to exercise in the proper training zone for cardiovascular training and use enough intensity to cause muscle fatigue for weight training. It’s great to enjoy your exercise time but make sure that the focus remains on physical activity.

8. Not drinking enough water
Only camels can go without water. For the rest of us it is a necessity! This cannot be stated enough times. At a minimum, drinking at least 64 ounces of water on a daily basis is important, and even more so when you exercise. Increase intake when exercising in hot, humid conditions.

9. Improper Form
Do you support your weight on the side rails of the treadmill? Without using proper form, exercise can be ineffective. Similarly, rushing through a set with no form, rhyme or reason will serve no purpose other than increasing risk of an injury. Lifting too fast uses momentum and does not exercise muscles fully. Slow down and concentrate on form to get maximum results. Use a count of two seconds up and two seconds down. Also, holding your breath can increase blood pressure. Try to breathe normally through the exercise.

10. Eating Too Much
If you are trying to watch your caloric intake, watch out for meal-replacement items that advertise high energy, which usually means high calorie -- the last thing someone who is trying to reduce weight needs. Unless you’re working out for longer than 90 minutes, energy bars and sports drinks during moderate workouts is really not necessary. A healthy, well-balanced meal plan and plenty of water are sufficient to meet most exerciser's needs.

11. Eating Too Little
No, this is not a typo! Not eating enough can be as detrimental as eating too much. When the body is not fed consistently, it goes into a starvation mode. Five to six smaller meals evenly spaced throughout the day helps keep the metabolism running smoothly.

12. No Goals or Unrealistic Goals
Despite what many advertisers would like you to believe, it’s unrealistic to think you can lose 30 pounds in 30 days. It’s good to set goals but be sure they aren’t too aggressive and realize it’s OK to periodically redefine them.

13. Improper Weights
Lifting weights that are too heavy can lead to improper form and injury. Similarly, weights that are too light can be ineffective. The objective of weight training is to challenge the muscle. The weight should be heavy enough to cause the muscle fatigue in eight to 15 repetitions. In general, if you can’t lift the weight at least eight times with good form, it’s too heavy. If you've done 15 repetitions and can do several more, it’s too light.

14. Too Much, Too Soon
Many new enthusiast start by exercising too frequently or too difficult for their fitness level. Your body needs time to adapt. Be sure to start with an exercise plan that takes your current fitness regimen (or lack of) into account. Gradually work up to 30 minutes of walking or alternate running with walking. In the beginning, it's better to end your workouts feeling as if you could do more than to end feeling really tired.

An exercise program has numerous health and fitness benefits. By avoiding some common mistakes you'll realize your goals sooner and remain injury free!

Diana Rini is an ACE personal trainer and the owner of Matter of Fitness Personal Training Studio in Willoughby, Ohio. She focuses on educating her clients how to safely and effectively lose weight, get in shape and improve their health. Visit the website at




EVENTS –OCTOBER 20 – 30, 2005




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




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




Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
10:00 pm
EVENT PROFILE:  Welcome to Negril … Ontario, that is!  Yes, Carl’s been at it again and has completely revamped his back patio for his faithful Irie patrons.  And now that the weather is warmer, you just HAVE to come out party on the new and hip patio.  Rain or shine as the patio is covered for our convenience.  A real celebration of summer at the hippest patio in Toronto!  DJ Carl Allen will be spinning the tunes while Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston bring the live music. 




Indian Motorcycle
King Street (at Peter)  
10:00 pm  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring host Chris Rouse, Calvin Beale, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 




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




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




Have a great week!  

Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment