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


Updated:  October 6, 2005

This week gives you a special opportunity to win a Kirk Franklin CD! The first three people who can tell me what the name of the new Kirk Franklin CD is entitled will win a free copy, as well as a copy of Kirk Franklin's 'Rebirth of Kirk Franklin'. And check out the new scoop on a show with lots of CanCon - Sex, Love and Secrets below under TV NEWS.

Check out all categories - tons of Canadian content in MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, THEATRE NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll!  This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTS.  Want to be removed from the distribution, click REMOVE.






Canadian Music Artists Join Katrina Fundraising Efforts – HOT Line-Up

Have you wondered what you can do to help while watching the media coverage of the devastating trail of Hurricane Katrina?  This is your opportunity to help those in need - come out on Thursday, October 6th to Revival, 783 College Street at 8:00 pm for one of the hottest musical showcases to support Habitat For Humanity's "Operation Home Delivery" project to aid the rebuilding of the gulf coast. 

Syreeta Neal, one of Toronto’s R&B divas (and daughter of Grammy-winning Kenny Neal), a native of New Orleans has family members who lost their homes.  Syreeta returned to Toronto just days after surviving the challenges that the hurricane left in its wake.  Syreeta’s first order of business?  To put together a fundraiser with a plethora of her friends and family in a musical showcase to help those left without a home. 

The goal is to raise funds for Habitat For Humanity's "Operation Home Delivery" project. This division of HFH is a program where "sample" houses are built and sent to areas in the gulf coast affected by Hurricane Katrina.  Volunteers then rebuild whole communities speedily in order to assist impoverished families to start anew. Syreeta’s vision is to effect change for the future of these people.  With costs of $100 million dollars to build 1,500 houses, the need for donations is great.

The show will be hosted by Syreeta Neal and one of the South's hottest producers Howard M. (Master P., Lil Romeo, C Miller, Faith Evans, Lil Wayne!).  The confirmed line-up is:

Andrew Craig
DJ Carl Allen
Graph Nobel
James Bryan
Jeen O'Brien
Kayte Burgess
Jennie Laws
Melanie Durrant
Syreeta Neal
The Show
Wade O. Brown
Zaki Ibrahim
… and more surprise special guests!

The majority of the performers will be playing acoustically or "unplugged" in an intimate setting.  The range of varied performers includes the genres of rock, R&B, dance and soul - all joining forces to raise some funds.  Anyone who wants to help heal  through the power of music and give what they can for the cause is welcome!

Hosted by Syreeta Neal and Howard M.
Revival Lounge
783 College Street (at Shaw)
Doors open: 8:00 pm
Showtime: 9:30 pm
Cover: $10 before 10:00 pm, $15 after 10:00 pm






Foundations For Success In The New Environment

The MMF Canada presents a management workshop in 5 Canadian Cities.  All MMF panels will be hosted by Michael McMartin (Hoodoo Gurus) & Keith Harris (Stevie Wonder)

Vancouver, BC: Saturday October 1 ­ Vancouver Management Workshop at Tom Lee Music Hall (929 Granville Street ­ 604-685-8471) with Allen Moy

Winnipeg, MB: Monday October 3 ­ Winnipeg Management Workshop at Gas Station Theatre (445 River Ave ­ 204-284-9477) with Steve Warden

Toronto, ON: Wednesday October 5 ­ Toronto Management Workshop Club 279 (279 Yonge Street ­ 416-362-3636) with Brian Hetherman

Toronto, ON: Thursday October 6 ­ (In association with SOCAN) SOCAN Urban Music Panel - part of the View Points Series - at Harbourfront Centre - Free admission! (For further information call 416-973-4000 or visit

Montreal, QC: Saturday October 8 ­ Montreal management panel at The Green Room (5386 Boul. St. Laurent ­ 514-602-8366) with Brian Hetherman

Halifax, NS: Wednesday October 12 ­ Halifax management workshop at Khyber Club (1588 Barrington Street ­ 902-492-3278) with Louis Thomas

All are welcome to attend these free seminars. For more info see or contact

Daily Workshop Itinerary & Topics of Discussion:

10:00 a.m. ­ 12:00 noon

* different types of managers
* role and duties of a manager
* goals of the manager
* management priorities
* building a management team
* finding the right manager/finding the right artist and establishing the relationship

12:00 noon - 1 p.m.
* lunch break    

1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

* networking
* management contracts, fees and payments
* the major label process/the independent alternative and owning the masters
* new business models/old business models and the international marketplace
* new revenue streams

3:00 - 3:15 p.m.
* break

3:15 - 4:00 p.m.
*Q&A from participants to panellists

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
* meet and greet/mingling



CARAS Announces Call For  Submissions For The 2006 Juno Awards

Source:  2006 Junos

(October 3, 2005) TORONTO -- The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announces that submissions are now being accepted for the 2006 JUNO Awards, Canada’s Music Awards. Early-bird applications for juried categories will be accepted until October 26, 2005, with a final submission deadline of November 16, 2005.  Submissions for categories based on sales will be accepted until January 9, 2006.  All forms can be accessed at or by calling 1-888-440-JUNO (5866) (toll-free in Canada). In CARAS’ ongoing commitment to review all category criteria, including voting methods and processes, the following improvements have been made for 2006:

·                     CARAS members and JUNO Awards judges are now able to cast their votes online for both the first round to determine nominees and then the second round to determine winners.

·                     Francophone Album of the Year has been changed from a sales based category, to a jury voted category. Two rounds of jury votes will determine nominees and winners. Albums must be released between September 1, 2004 and November 16, 2005.

·                     New CARAS member and non-member submission rates have been introduced to encourage CARAS membership and to further engage Canadian artists in the Nominating and Voting process.

·                     All submissions must be completed on-line. In an effort to keep the submission costs down, a penalty fee will be levied for incomplete submissions received.

While certain categories such as International Album of the Year are determined by sales, most category winners are determined by CARAS membership ballot vote or by a panel of expert judges.  For specific details on JUNO Awards nominations and procedures, please visit the Juno Awards Web site at The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences/L'academie canadienne des arts et des sciences de l'enregistrement (CARAS) is a not-for-profit organization created to preserve and enhance the Canadian music and recording industries and to contribute toward higher artistic and industry standards. The main focus of CARAS is the exploration and development of opportunities to showcase and promote Canadian artists and music through television vehicles such as the JUNO Awards.  For more information on the 35th annual Juno Awards, visit the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) Web site at  The 2006 Juno Awards will air on CTV, on Sunday, April 2, 2006. Sponsors for the 2006 JUNO Awards include FACTOR and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage's "Canada Music Fund", the Province of Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Municipality, and Events Halifax.  






Stevie Wonder To Release New  Motown Album, A Time To Love, October 18

Source:  Universal Music Canada

(October 4, 2005) (Toronto, Ontario).  On October 18th, Motown/Universal Music Canada will release A Time To Love, Stevie Wonder’s highly anticipated new CD featuring 15 new Wonder songs.  The new disc, one of the premier Motown releases in recent years and ushering in an exciting new era for the record label, is a dedicated effort by the legendary artist to remind the world about the restorative power of love.  A Time To Love is also available as a digital download, September 27, at all major online music sites.   Among the songs included on the new album are "A Time To Love," (featuring India.Arie), "Your Love Cannot Be Moved," (featuring gospel star Kim Burrell), "Positivity," (featuring Wonder's daughter Aisha Morris), and a host of other superstar collaborations, including appearances by Prince, Narada Michael Walden, Sir Paul McCartney, who plays acoustic and electric guitar on the title track; Hubert Laws, Mike Philips, and En Vogue.  Wonder's open-arms embrace of the collaborative process and his adherence to the musical philosophy that each project takes on a life of its own placed no artificial deadlines on the long awaited album's completion, with the end result proving to be well worth the wait.  

"Stevie always has impeccable timing," stated Sylvia Rhone, President of Motown, Executive Vice President of Universal Motown.  "The world is hungering more than ever right now for the kind of message only he can deliver.  I speak for the entire Universal Music Group when I say nobody can illuminate our greatest hopes, soothe our deepest fears, and put us on the musical high road like Stevie Wonder."  Wonder once again affirms such a notion with the uplifting "Shelter In The Rain," an inspiring and timely anthem featuring gospel legend Kirk Franklin directing the angelic chorus on a song cited as a humanitarian ode of healing for victims and survivors of the devastating hurricanes continuing to ravage the gulf coast.  The single will be specially serviced to Gospel and Christian radio stations, with net proceeds from the song going to Stevie's charity organization The Wonder Foundation, which is earmarking the donations for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Stevie Wonder has remained one of the world's most profound and influential artists for more than four decades.  Winner of 21 Grammys and the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, with more than 70 million records sold, Wonder's received hundreds of honours and awards throughout his career.   A tireless humanitarian and champion for political and social justice, Wonder was the pre-eminent force behind the Martin Luther King holiday and USA For Africa, as well as helping to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic and the scourge of Apartheid in South Africa.  A leading voice in the fight against world hunger, Wonder also led a "Charge Against Hunger" in conjunction with American Express, which raised over $150 million dollars to feed nearly six million underprivileged people yearly.  Most recently, Wonder was honoured by the United Negro College Fund's Evening Of Stars Tribute to the artist, for his long-time work on behalf of the UNCF.  On October 18th, Stevie Wonder continues the special covenant he has with his fans with the release of the eagerly awaited A Time To Love.

About Universal Music Canada
Universal Music Canada, a unit of Universal Music Group, is Canada's leading music organization maintaining an overall 36.5% year-to-date market share.  For further information on Universal Music Canada please visit


Luther Vandross: Always and Forever

Excerpt from - By Mr. Jawn Murray

(Oct. 4, 2005) For those who saw Luther Vandross’ funeral on television or via the Internet, you know his send-off was, well, so amazing.  Everyone from Patti LaBelle to Usher and Aretha Franklin were on hand to celebrate the life and legacy of Vandross and the impact his music made on the world.  Many of those same individuals have been reunited again for the Vandross tribute CD, So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross.  The collection features Vandross’s most memorable hits covered by artists such as Fantasia (“Til My Baby Comes Home"), John Legend (“Love Won't Let Me Wait"), Mary J. Blige (“Never Too Much"), Aretha Franklin (“A House Is Not A Home"), Usher (“Superstar”), Beyonce Knowles and Stevie Wonder ("So Amazing"), Elton John ("Anyone Who Had A Heart" - duet with Vandross's original vocals), Alicia Keys (“If This World Were Mine" - duet with Jermaine Paul), Celine Dion (“Dance With My Father"), Patti LaBelle ("Here and Now"), Jamie Foxx (“Creepin"), Babyface (“If Only For One Night"), Angie Stone (“Since I Lost My Baby"), Donna Summer (“Power of Love") and Wyclef Jean (“Always & Forever"). My favourites are Fantasia’s church-tinged, Sunday-morning ready version of "Til My Baby Comes Home;” Legend’s soulfully-sensational arrangement of "Love Won't Let Me Wait;" and Usher’s fresh adaptation of “Superstar,” a tune that allows Usher to showcase some real slick vocal riffs.  Other highlights include Franklin’s intricately-bluesy take on “A House Is Not A Home;” Stone’s marvellously-modern arrangement of “Since I Lost My Baby;” and Foxx’s almost unrecognizable vocal interpretation of “Creepin”—his ability to sound so different on every song he records is astonishing.

Babyface contemporizes “If Only For One Night” and Wonder sounds better than he has in years on his duet with Knowles on “So Amazing.”  One listen to Blige on “Never Too Much” and you, too, will agree that she should never allow anyone but Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to produce her vocals.  It’s great hearing her without annoying flat and sharp notes. While this disc is full of great moments, there are some questionable ones as well.  What in the world was Wyclef thinking when he recorded “Always and Forever?”  This obfuscated reggae rendition of this classic is ghastly.  And since we’re talking sordid covers, Entertainment Weekly put it best when they wrote: “Donna Summer sinks “Power of Love” into Euro-trash hell!” Rod Stewart was slated to have a song on this tribute album, but the track was rumoured to have been cut from this CD because Clive Davis allegedly hated the arrangement.  Artists such as Heather Headley, Janet Jackson and Ruben Studdard whose names were tossed around initially are noticeably absent as well. Overall, So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross is a wonderful musical journey despite some turbulence (yes, you Wyclef and Summer).  Unfortunately, missing from the recording is other Vandross favourites like Gladys Knight, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.   Here’s an idea—and don’t I always have one?—for another Vandross tribute album.  Maybe some savvy label will do The Divas Sing Luther CD and have Vandross’s favourite divas and some new ones re-record his songs.  Knight, Lisa Fischer, Martha Wash, Dionne Warwick, Cheryl Lynn, Patti Austin, Natalie Cole, Tamia, Whitney and Cissy Houston, among others, could bring life to this concept all over again.


Damian Marley’s 'Welcome to Jamrock' Sets Record

Excerpt from

(Sept. 29, 2005)   With over 86,000 copies sold in its first week of release, Damian Jr Gong Marley's new album Welcome to Jamrock broke all records for any reggae artiste, as it debuted at number seven on this week's Billboard 200 pop album chart.  The young Marley's chart debut is without a doubt attributed to his current Billboard R&B Singles and Hot 100 hit single Welcome to Jamrock. That single was number 19 on the R&B singles chart and number 58 on the Hot 100 up to a week ago. Commenting on his latest charge's chart success, Jerome Hamilton of Headline Entertainment, Marley's publicist, said the chart debut was expected based on the success of the single. Ít was expected and I am wonderfully impressed. It's going to be an outstanding album, and I hope it grows from strength to strength. There are a lot of good songs on the album," Hamilton said. Welcome to Jamrock, which debuted at number 42 on the UK Album chart on the weekend, is Marley's third set. His previous album, the Grammy-winning Half Way Tree, sold over 2,000 copies in its first week of release four years ago. To date that set has sold over 91,000 copies. With Damian's album debuting at number seven on the main album chart, it ranks him among an elite list of Jamaican reggae acts whose albums have debuted or peaked in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200. His father, the late reggae icon Bob Marley, peaked at number eight in 1976 with Rastaman Vibration. Shaggy's multi-platinum album Hot Shot spent four weeks at number one in 2001. Sean Paul's Dutty Rock peaked at number nine in 2003. The 86,000 copies registered by Welcome to Jamrock is the biggest first week burst for any Jamaican reggae artiste.  Some notable first week debuts and major first week burst in sales over the years include: Lucky Day by Shaggy which sold over 70,000 copies and debuted at number 24 in its first week of release on the Billboard 200; Sean Paul's Dutty Rock, which debuted at number 26 with 62,000 copies in 2002 and went on to peak at number nine on the chart; Wayne Wonder's 2003 album No Holding Back debuted at number 29 with 40,000 copies sold in its first full week at retail.


Reunited Fugees Single Hits Radio, Group Preparing Album

Excerpt from - By Eben Gregory

(Sept. 28, 2005) After nearly a decade, the Fugees --Lauryn, Wyclef and Pras--have emerged from a New York studio with the brand-new single “Take It Easy.”  The new single is first taste of the eagerly awaited successor to the super group’s 1996 multi-platinum best-selling album The Score. “Take It Easy” showcases all three members and is currently enjoying regular rotation on radio in the United States.  Having been on hiatus for almost ten years, the Fugees are now putting the finishing touches on the group’s upcoming album that is slated for release in early 2006.  The album comes as a welcomed surprise for the legions of fans that have been clamouring for a follow-up to The Score.  Certified 6x platinum by the RIAA, The Score has sold more than 13,600,000 copies worldwide and was the best-selling album of 1996, taking home two Grammy Awards: Best Rap Album and Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for "Killing Me Softly With His Song").  Following the massive international success of The Score, the Fugees went on hiatus with each member of the group pursuing successful solo careers.  Wyclef Jean, the first Fugee to embark on a solo career, racked up seven RIAA gold and platinum certifications for his solo albums--1997's The Carnival and The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II A Book. Lauryn's 1998 debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, earned the artist five Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and has been certified 8 times platinum by the RIAA.  Prakazrel Michel ("Pras") had a #1 R&B hit with his 1998 single, "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)," from the soundtrack of Warren Beatty's "Bulworth."

The Fugees gave the first intimation of a full-fledged reunion when the group made a surprise appearance at a Brooklyn block party thrown by comedian Dave Chappelle in September 2004.  Earlier this year, Lauryn, Wyclef and Pras took audience members, and television viewers, by surprise when the legendary hip-hop super group appeared on-stage at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre as the unannounced opening act for the 2005 BET Awards ceremony.

Fugees Add More European Dates

Excerpt from

(Oct. 4, 2005) *The Fugees will take a December concert swing through Europe on the heels of their newly-released single, “Take It Easy,” the trio’s first in nearly a decade.   The tour kicks off Nov. 30 in Vienna and touches down in Finland, France, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom before wrapping Dec. 20 in Switzerland. A U.S. tour has not yet been announced. As previously reported, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michael are currently  in the studio laying down tracks for a new album scheduled to drop in early 2006. Last week, they released the single "Take It Easy" via Apple's iTunes music store. Here are the Fugees confirmed tour dates:

Nov. 30: Vienna, Austria (Stadthalle)
Dec. 1: Helsinki, Finland (Hartwall Areena)
Dec. 3: Stockholm, Sweden (Hovet)
Dec. 4: Oslo, Norway (Oslo Spektrum)
Dec. 6: Hamburg, Germany (Color Line Arena)
Dec. 10: Italy (Milano Sabato)
Dec. 12: Paris, France (Bercy Arena)
Dec. 13: Manchester (Evening News Arena)
Dec. 14: London (Carling Apollo Hammersmith)
Dec. 19: Koln, Germany (Kölnarena)
Dec. 20: Zurich, Switzerland (Hallenstadion Zurich)


Sounds Like Shaggy

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry

(Oct. 4, 2005) It's easy to dismiss Shaggy as a lightweight.  The Jamaican reggae rap-singer growled his way onto pop charts with a hip-thrusting persona and the facetious, libido-driven songs to match, most notably with 2000's "It Wasn't Me," which mocked infidelity and spurred 10 million worldwide sales of Hot Shot — making it the most successful dancehall reggae album ever.  It's mostly more of the same on his new record Clothes Drop, which includes the ambiguously wrought "Ahead in Life" comprised of the performer reprimanding his, ahem, private parts. But where one may hear superficiality or gimmick, the 36-year-old, Kingston-born, Brooklyn-raised artist cites creativity and family values.  "You've never seen a parental advisory sticker on my album," said Shaggy during a recent promotional visit to Toronto. Seated in a downtown restaurant, the unruly curls, which inspired his nickname after the Scooby-Doo character, are tucked into a snazzy chapeau. But Mr. Lover Lover is as you'd expect: welcoming smile, elastic eyebrows and — in case you didn't quite catch the accent — Jamaica bracelet on his wrist.  "You can write adult content without being explicit, it's called clever writing," he explained. "If I didn't do that skit in the middle (of "Ahead in Life") you would not know what I'm talking about, because I have not said dick at any point in there.  "There are two meanings. It depends on how you think. My kids still don't get it. They don't know what I mean, they just sing along with it."  Still, the tune contradicts the 1995 Grammy winner's later declaration that he wants to produce "classic music."  "I don't want novelty songs," he said. "I want songs that people can play for years and that I can tour on until I'm old. It took me two years to make this album. I did 56 songs to arrive at 17."  When it comes to legacy-building, the former U.S. marine has a better shot with "Repent," a politically drawn spiritual missive that urges listeners to "slow down and pray" in light of current international conflicts.  "People might think that these world leaders are the problem, but we elect them," he said.

"We are the board of directors and we must be citizens of the world and not citizens of our own backyard. I guarantee you that if half of the people in America used their passports a little bit more and travelled to countries like Afghanistan, Cairo and Dubai, Bush wouldn't have won and we wouldn't be in this situation.  "Bush won on scare tactics, because those people didn't leave their trailer parks. CNN is not really what's going on there. I've been to Abu Dhabi and Egypt, and you don't have more strip joints and parties than in those places.  "I was watching MTV once and I heard this American girl complaining that she went to Afghanistan and was stoned because she was wearing (short shorts). What you expect the people to do?  "That's like you inviting somebody to dinner at your house and they come over in a bikini, in front of your family. Tell me you wouldn't be pissed off. Well, me as a man might not ... but, nevertheless, you understand what I'm saying. If we just understood each other's culture and respected each other's culture, then we would get along much better."  But getting his message out, means selling records, and the poor showing of 2002's Lucky Day put his abilities in doubt.  "It was a flop," he acknowledged without resignation, "not the content — I think Strength of a Woman was one of the best songs I've ever written, but we had record company problems.  "I released the record in December and the president (of MCA) got fired in February. Two months later they shut the whole company down.  "The last recording ever put out on that company was a Shaggy record. I saved it the year before (with Hot Shot) and it died on my project."  Still, without a discernable hit, Lucky Day sold 2.3 million copies worldwide; Sean Paul's Dutty Rock was the only dancehall reggae album to outsell him that year — but could not equal Hot Shot's success, Shaggy noted. That's why he's not concerned that Paul, and King of Reggae scion Damian Marley, also have much-hyped and more hardcore albums out.  "At the end of the day I'm the man to beat. I don't have competition ... it is competition in the sense where the record company might want it to be a competition, but if you listen to the music, it's all different styles ...

"Now, they have the luxury of bringing dancehall to the mainstream in its authentic form. Back when I started, I could not. I had to remix it, put R&B under it. I had to put Marvin Gaye under "Boombastic" just to survive. Now they can do it, that's thanks to artists like Shabba Ranks, because we paved the way."  But there's a personal cost to being a trendsetter, notes the father of three on the song "Letter to My Kids," which talks about "missing the warmth of your child's embrace."  "When you have downtime and you realize your kids are growing up and you missed so much ... I missed soccer practice, ball games, graduations, because I'm a slave to this music."  And it's not only his parenting that has been comprised.  "I'm not against the union of marriage," he added, "I just think there is a time for everything. I've dedicated my early years to doing what I want to do, and what I want to do is tour the world and make music and play music.  "If you dedicate your life to one person from age 20 to 35, that's the prime of your life, what if it doesn't work out? You never get that time back. Nobody should give that up for another person. And you can say you trust but do you every really trust? Do you ever really know what that person is doing? How heartbreaking is it when you dedicate all your life to one person and get betrayed? I'm not chancing it."  Just as quickly we're back on the subject of Shaggy's self-designated "feel-good music."  "You want the official explanation?" he asked in response to a question about the name of his new disc.  "There's the politically correct reason: this album is like your wardrobe — certain clothes put you in different moods, like every track on this record. Lack of a better title would be Mood Swings."  And the other meaning?  "Well," he began, eyebrow arched and lips curling slyly as he leaned forward, "I wanted something that was just nasty and naughty and would just catch your attention and once you say Clothes Drop you would just laugh and say `Oh, My God! Shaggy again.' "  And then he pressed back into his seat, laughing, of course.


Goaple To Perform At Roxy In Hollywood

Source: Sasha Brookner, Heliocentric Public Relations,,

(Sept. 30, 2005) Skyblaze/Columbia recording singing sensation Goapele, the Bay Area’s princess of soul to appear in Los Angeles at The Roxy on Saturday, October 1st and perform songs from her highly anticipated sophomore album entitled “Change it All.”  In an industry that advocates monotony, Goapele, perhaps because of her cultural heritage, is a non-conformist. Her exiled South African political activist father met her New York-born Jewish mother and married while in Nairobi, Kenya. For a woman whose name means 'to go forward' in Setswana, the South African language of her grandmother, Goapele lives her name. The Bay Area native's debut effort, Even Closer was a 14-track masterpiece that she co-wrote and co-produced independently which went on to sell an unprecedented 150,000 units. Now Goapele is back on the musical scene with her highly anticipated sophomore effort, Change it All on Skyblaze Recordings/Columbia Records set to be released December 27, 2005.

bullet"In an increasingly crowded neo soul scene that's produced as many one album curiosities as long haul career artists, Goapele has two assets working for her; a voice as smooth as butterscotch and a sensibility worthy of it." Nylon Magazine

bullet “Her debut, Even Closer is a mix of jazz, funk and soul influenced more by male artists like D’Angelo and Prince than any of her spiritual soul sisters.” Interview Magazine

bullet “Even Closer is a showcase for Bay Area singer Goapele distinct vocal sensibility; a balance of steamrolling Chaka Khan power and yoga-girl suppleness that’s full of promise” Rolling Stone Magazine

bullet The dread-headed beauty was influenced equally by music from Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Nina Simone, Billy Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Prince and Portishead as she was by Miriam Makeba, Zulu Spears and Hugh Masekela.

bullet Goapele trumps her head-wrapped contemporaries by pouring her honey-husky voice over a gumbo of hip hop, mellow vibes and piano ballads for a sound that resists comparison” Essence Magazine

bullet “Goapele has performed and recorded with everyone from Michael Franti to Zion I, creating a style that fuses underground hip hop, vintage R&B and jazz. Her eclectic sound reflects the philosophical and musical strains -- from Miriam Makeba to Prince – that she was exposed to while growing up.“  Vibe Magazine

bullet Goapele brings a well-needed enigmatic presence to a mundane industry that is devoid of innovative magic and fascination, but thick with semblance. Her signature of throaty moans and nostalgic lyrical poetry evoke all things old yet somehow manages to be refreshingly new.

bullet Graced cover of Bay Area's premier, San Francisco Magazine "Best of the Bay Area" 2003 issue and featured on the cover of San Francisco Bay Guardian’s end of the year 2004 Music Issue

bullet “Goapele, 25 is a petite songstress with a voice that can fill a stadium…She has been gaining popularity here as an elegant romantic who weaves poetic narratives…The introspective and airy vocals combined with sassy grooves make Goapele a bit of an urban music anomaly.” San Francisco Chronicle

bullet Rolling Stone and MTV say she’s the #5 artist to watch

bullet Erykah Badu votes Even Closer as the most creative and innovative album for the 2003 ShortList Music Project and says "Goapele you Shine!"

bullet The Source Magazine heralds Goapele as "The Bay Area's Best Kept Secret."

bullet #1 Selling Album in the Bay Area for weeks in 2004. Sway of MTV News affirms, “She’s beating out artists like 50 Cent and R Kelly in Northern California”

bullet Meshell N'Degeocello, Shaquille O'Neill and Method Man refer to Goapele as "The next big artist to watch"

bullet Winner of 2003 San Francisco Weekly Award and Nominated for 2003 California Music Award

bullet The poised chanteuse delivers a testimony-driven, emotionally aching yet uplifting and candidly charged classic cuts to soul music junkies who feign for organic gutbucket vocals and raw bass lines. Goapele brilliantly experiments with skillful compositions and heart wrenching harmonies, all with a smooth as pearl delivery. The songs showcase the singer/songwriter's impeccable ability to mix classic soul with rhythm and blues along with new-age funk, dripping with sensuality. The multi-layered feel-good tracks effortlessly spirals her superb lyrics and velvety voice around carefree bass laden beats instantly garnering her respect for skillfully uniting hip-hop, jazz, R&B and melodic soul.

bullet Goapele's eclectic sound and unparalleled live performances continue to draw in a diverse range of fans including Prince, Rosario Dawson, Rodney Jerkins, Magic Johnson, Stevie Wonder, Mos Def, Kanye West, President Gerald Ford and Talib Kweli to name a few

bullet "Her name, Goapele is just as intriguing as her music. This arresting set organically mixes R&B, hip-hop, jazz, and electronica in introspective, candid songs that colorfully reflect this soulful sista's diverse range and life experiences. Goapele's smoky, sensual voice is a beacon that shines on a set that wisely steers clear of overproduction. While calling to mind such influences as Nina Simone and Sade, this classic chanteuse-in-the-making is definitely her own woman of substance." Billboard Magazine

bullet "If you're looking for someone who will touch your soul...look no further she touched mine" Jazzy Jeff

Change it All features production from Bedrock, Jeff Bhasker (E-40, The Game), Linda Perry (Pink, Christina Aguillera), Sa Ra Creative Partners (Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott) and Mike Tiger (The Coup, Martin Luther) many of whom contributed to making Even Closer a success.  On Saturday, October 1st Goapele will appear at The Roxy (9009 W. Sunset Blvd.) in Los Angeles. Doors open at 8pm and the show starts at 9pm.


Pharrell Williams: Producer Discusses New Solo Project

Source: Sherry J. Bitting,

(Oct. 3, 2005) NEW YORK, NY — Pharrell Williams has one of the most recognizable voices in hip-hop and R&B, but he admits that he really can’t sing or rap. He’s only using his voice as a form of expression. “I don’t really think I can sing.  I don’t really think I can rhyme. I’m just expressing myself," he says in the October/November issue of Complex.  "I’m just saying whatever comes out of my mind, whatever comes out of my mouth. It’s more like a diary. I’m at another point of my life where I’m trying to practice being non judgmental and being pro art.” Following are highlights from the issue:

On his ultimate legacy…
 “My ultimate legacy is gonna be my family—my mom, my dad, my girl…and then she becomes my fiancé, and then my wife, and then my kids.”  When asked how close he is to marriage, he replies, “It’s close, man.  It’s really close.  There’s definitely a girl that I love.  It’s close, man.”

On managing a relationship as an entertainer…
“It’s tough, man.  Doing what I do is not easy on a relationship; it’s very hard on it.  And a relationship is so delicate.  You’d think it’d be the strongest thing in the world.  This business is such a time-consuming thing.  So yeah.  There’s definitely a girl that I love.  She hears my whispers.  She knows my dreams.  And she knows my heart.”

On being a sex symbol…
“That’s not my character.  I be pretending that I’m sexy.  It’s all in my mind.  That’s why it was perfect for my album title.  I figured I would do something a little more reflective of how I think, and the best thing was In My Mind  because in my mind I’m all these things—I’m good, I’m bad, I’m holy, I’m horny.”

On being a trendsetter…
“You gotta figure out what side of the fence you’re on. Like I said, a lot of n***as say they set trends.  Go ahead.  Great.  Good for you.  Me, I’m just trying to escape them.”


Damon Dash Sells Stake In Rocawear For $22 Million In Cash

Excerpt from - By EbenGregory, Nolan Strong and Remmie Fresh

(Sept. 27, 2005) Damon Dash is severing business ties with formers partners including Jay-Z and is selling his stake in Rocawear back to partners for $22 million dollars.  Rocawear was established in 1999 and has grossed over $500 million dollars since its inception.  The move all but seals any further business dealings between the two former Rocawear/Roc-A-Fella co-CEO’s. “Rocawear was my point of view, a Harlem swagger," Dash told of the sale. "They gave me $30 million and 75% of Team Roc. I'm real happy with the deal. I got $22.5 million in cash and the rest in companies (like State Property, Team Roc, Pro-Keds and other entities)." Rumours of Dash making an exit from the Roc brand started to circulate shortly after Dash and Jay-Z sold Roc-A-Fella Records in 2004, a venture which they established in 1995 By the late 1990’s, Roc-A-Fella Records was raking in over $50 million dollars annually, releasing hit records by Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and others. In 1997, Island Def Jam bought a 50% stake in the label for $1.5 million. The success helped launch Rocawear and Roc-A-Fella Films in 1999, Dash Films in 2001 and Armadale Vodka in 2002.  The label was sold back to Def Jam in 2004 amid rumours of a rift between Dash and superstar rapper and co-CEO Jay-Z. The remaining 50% stake in Roc-A-Fella Records was acquired for $10 million dollars, giving Island Def Jam, a unit of Universal, 100 % ownership of the label.

Roc-A-Fella executives had renegotiated their deal with Island Def Jam several years prior to selling the remaining stake for $20 million dollars, bringing the total selling price of Roc-A-Fella to over $30 million dollars. Dash denied rumours of hostile feeling towards his former business partner. “When the original Roc-A-Fella broke up, it was time for everybody to do their own thing,” Dash said. “We ain't no bitch-ass n***as taking sides. All that shit is petty and
s**t." While the move marks the end of Dash’s relationship with the Roc-A-Fella brand, Dash is involved in several other high profile ventures. He holds investments in the Tiret watch company, his film production-company Dash Films, America magazine, State Property clothing, a licensing deal with Pro-Keds sneakers and his record label, Dame Dash Music Group, which is distributed by Island Def Jam. “Now that I know the business world, I don't need partners,” Dash said. “I got my own connects with the bank."


Beyonce Speaks To Vanity Fair

Excerpt from

(Oct. 4, 2005) *A simple “No” was Beyonce’s answer to Vanity Fair writer Lisa Robinson when asked if she is secretly engaged to her boyfriend, Jay-Z, as rumours have suggested. The same answer greeted the follow up question of whether she is secretly married to the rap mogul, which has also been grist for the rumour mill. When asked if she even knew that these rumours exist, the 23-year-old singer replied: "No, I didn't . . . I'm not. But I'm 'engaged' and 'married' at the same time? (Laughter)" The full interview is featured in the Vanity Fair music issue for November, due on newsstands this week.  In the article, Robinson calls Beyoncé "a supremely talented singer, dancer, songwriter, producer and actress who started performing at the age of seven and has, in just 16 years in show business, absorbed a lifetime's worth of focus, determination and discipline."  Beyonce was photographed for the article in a gauzy, open robe at the Hotel Ritz in Barcelona.  Other topics broached by the singer were her appearances at awards shows this year.  Her performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber song from “Phantom of the Opera” at the Oscars?  "It was a mess," she said. "My shoe wasn't snapped. And when I walked down those stairs, not only was my shoe not on, my ear monitor wasn't on. So the song started, and I'm thinking, 'Oh, my God, my shoe's not done, my monitor's not in, and this is going to be embarrassing… I'm going to fall down the stairs.' "

And what about the “Cater 2 U” lap dance on the BET Awards that left Terence Howard a happy deer in the headlights?  "Oh, God, it was very sexy, but I'm very embarrassed about it. . . . I just go for it," she said. And what of the widely-held public opinion that her career is kept on a tight leash by her manager-father, Mathew Knowles.  "People expect me to be a certain way, like a Diana Ross. And they expect my father to be like Joe Jackson, because that's been the pattern when parents manage children,” she says. “People think that he just controls everything and does everything, but I actually control everything. People think I have the same story as the Jackson Five, and I have a completely different story. I had a very healthy, happy childhood. My mother made sure of it, and I love her for it." Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles reveals in the issue how tickled she was to hear Chris Rock poke fun at her daughter’s name.   "I saw Chris Rock on TV and he said, 'Black people make 10 steps forward, and then we take 12 steps back . . . after 'Roots' we had Kunta, and then what do we do? We go and name our kids 'Beyoncé.' I just laughed because I'm sure he thought it was a name I made up, like Tanifa or something. He didn't know it was my [maiden] name."


Nine Lives Of The Pussycat Dolls

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

(Oct. 4, 2005) Another day, another girl group. But at least the Pussycat Dolls are much less shy than most about flaunting where their principle attributes lie.  Before the Dolls franchise expanded to conquer the pop singles charts with the late-summer smash "Don't Cha" — that's the one that begins "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" — it was, after all, a long-running Sunset Strip burlesque revue (since moved to its own, eponymous lounge at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas).  The revue was created by choreographer Robin Antin and is known for intermittently restocking its ever-changing ranks with such celebrity hotties as Carmen Electra, Christina Aguilera and Pamela Anderson.  No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani, it turns out, is the one who catalyzed the whole pop crossover during her own stint as a Doll.  "I brought her in and she was actually our missing link," says Carmit Bachar, the only "original Doll" remaining from the first line-up created a decade ago, while she shares a few giggles with the rest of the friendly Pussycat posse in a downtown hotel room.  "She brought her record label and they saw the idea and the concept and (Interscope/A&M head honcho) Jimmy Iovine thought it would be awesome."  To avoid the outrage that inevitably erupts when the music industry flaunts its own plasticity in such a blatant manner, then, it's best to think of the Pussycat Dolls' fast-rising debut album, PCD, as an original cast recording, of sorts, and of the young ladies themselves as a dance troupe that happens to do some singing.  Their singing, however, often occurs in the presence of high-priced hitmakers like Busta Rhymes, Cee-Lo, Timbaland, Diane Warren and of the Black Eyed Peas, all of whom contributed material to the record.  Lament the whole style-over-substance thing all you want, but PCD is a huge global priority for A&M Records (part of the Universal Music empire) this fall. The Pussycat Dolls appear poised to haunt us all for months to come: a makeup and clothing line exists, with lingerie and action figures to follow.  The music — frothy, lightly bawdy dance-pop that professes "I Don't Need a Man," and references male masturbation over samples from ELO's "Evil Woman" on the tune "Beep" — isn't grossly offensive, at least.

And the Dolls themselves are a charming enough lot to actually merit the "new Spice Girls" chatter, although it's unclear which musically limited group would come out ahead in a straight-up battle of the bands.  Of the six, Nicole Scherzinger (formerly of the Popstars-created girl group Eden's Crush) is generally credited with doing most of the vocal work, although Bachar and Melody Thornton handle some back-up duties. The rest — former Miami Heat cheerleader Jessica and blonde doppelgangers Ashley and Kim — are rumoured to mostly serve as comely, acrobatic ballast.  "We put a lot of time into this album," says Scherzinger. "It wasn't, like, a cookie-cutter thing. We wrote on this album with the producers. We have our own clothing line and we eventually want to do movies and dolls and stuff, but we always say music is our engine."  The dire fate of splintered girl-group ancestors, from the Supremes to the Spice Girls, doesn't faze the Dolls, who've already spent two years in each other’s company.  "We heard a story about a girl group that was together for years that broke up over a jacket," says Thornton.  "The thing is, we're so lucky to have this and we all really do fit like a puzzle," adds Jessica.  "We say that we're sisters because, even if there's anything between us, we can work it out because that's how family is. I think it would be really stupid if a fight broke us up."


The Band Issues Set Of Unreleased And Revised Songs

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist

(Oct. 5, 2005) Robbie Robertson has become a master at reconstituting the musical motherlode that made The Band one of the most memorable and influential forces in North American pop culture of the 1970s.  The Toronto-born guitar legend and songwriter headed up Martin Scorcese's massive, 1977 star-studded live concert documentary The Last Waltz, which was supposed to have been an elegant summary of The Band's vast legacy. Four years ago Roberston shepherded the digital remixing, repackaging and re-release of that concert — on CD and DVD — and oversaw its massive promotion.  "But there's more, there's always more," the 61-year-old Canadian rock icon said yesterday in a dark room at the back of the ground floor bar of the Windsor Arms Hotel in downtown Toronto.  He was sitting a few blocks and a couple of light years from the Yonge St. bars where he used to rip it up as a member of expatriate Arkansas rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins' infamous band, The Hawks, in the 1960s.  The Band's latest repackaged chronicle — a $130 boxed set called The Band: A Musical History, containing five CDs and one DVD of material that has never been heard, or officially released, accompanied by alternative and authorized versions of many of The Band's greatest hits. There are also song sketches, live cuts and a 108-page illustrated booklet of liner notes by York University music professor Rob Bowman, a Grammy-award-winning musicologist.  It pays a lot more attention to those formative years than to the well-served and familiar Band repertoire post-Music From Big Pink and the quintet's famous association with Bob Dylan's radical move from acoustic folk to electric rock in the mid 1960s.  The boxed set, which resembles an expensive coffee table book, is "stuff that happened, stuff that surfaced, stuff my detectives (music archivists Cheryl Pawelski and Andrew Sandoval) found buried in libraries, attics, basements, recording studios, mastering labs, stuff I didn't even know had been recorded, or had forgotten about, or thought had been lost and forgotten, Robertson says.

"The more they found, the more inspiring this project became. People turned up old concert footage, audiotapes, photographs. The writing was on the wall. This stuff represented a special and unusual musical journey, and it deserved an airing."  The Band: A Musical History will be launched officially at 5:30 p.m. today at an autograph-signing session at the Manulife Centre branch of Indigo Books at Bay St. and Bloor St. W.  It's a painstakingly detailed assembly of music that still resonates in Toronto's rock 'n' roll corners, music made in 1961 with Hawkins and The Hawks, and a couple of years later, as Levon & The Hawks, when the band took its moniker from the only non-Canadian member, drummer and singer Levon Helm.  Though the five CDs cover The Band's entire musical life to the end of 1976, what they reveal of the creative energy, imagination, innocent blundering, false starts and almost perverse stoicism that fired Helm, Robertson, organist Garth Hudson, bassist Rick Danko and pianist Richard Manuel into a cohesive unit is a dream come true for music aficionados and Torontophiles alike.  Coming on the heels of the recent Scorsese TV documentary on the formative years of Bob Dylan, No Direction Home — in which Robertson was conspicuous for his absence, prompting a wave of speculation on his relationship with his former bandleader and colleague — the arrival of The Band's boxed set suggests there's no end to our fascination with the pop culture of the 1960s and '70s.  "The renewed interest in all this stuff is just a good sign that good music has a long life," says Robertson, his craggy features — beneath a shock of badly dyed blackish-reddish hair — barely concealing the pretty face of the young guitar ace who once ruled this town. "And the hills and valleys of this band's life, all the rough edges and mistakes that are revealed here, only serve to humanize the music. Seeing something out of shape take shape is a true and valuable part of the process."  His non-appearance in the Dylan doc? Robertson shrugs it off as "not an issue. I just wasn't necessary. Other than the concerts we did with him in 1966, the film was concerned with the period that led up to our involvement with Dylan. "I've signed off on this period for the time being. I'm not big on living in the past."  

What the immediate future holds for Robertson is overseeing the release of the memorable soundtrack he compiled for Raging Bull, Scorsese's 1980 biopic of boxer Jake LaMotta, a compilation that has never seen the light of day. He's also writing another movie score for Scorsese, and helping Geffen Records put the finishing touches — and some bonus tracks — on a packaged reissue of his first two solo albums, Robbie Robertson and Storyville.  "But my main focus these days is on a Broadway musical about native North Americans," said Robertson, whose mother was Mohawk. "I'm writing the music and lyrics, and helping with the book, which is by David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly). The director is David Leveaux, who's behind the hit revivals of Fiddler On The Roof and The Glass Menagerie.  "We're taking a great deal of care with it. It's material that has to be handled with care and respect for the native culture. I'd say it'll be up and running a year from now."  As for The Band, Robertson says, "There's plenty left to know. But I'm through with it for now. I won't be the one who does the telling."



UMAC Nominees Announced

Last Tuesday, the Urban Music Association of Canada (UMAC) announced the nominees for the 2005 Canadian Urban Music Awards at a press conference at the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower in downtown Toronto. The press conference was hosted by FLOW 93.5 on-air personality and winner of the 2004 CUMA for Spoken Word Recording of the Year and Media Personality of the Year, Jemeni, and Canadian urban entertainment broadcasting icon and host of The College of Musical Knowledge on Wave 94.7, Michael Williams. Visit or to see a list of nominees and to check out photos from the press conference.  The Canadian Urban Music Awards show, which will be hosted by internationally-renowned comedian Russell Peters, takes place on Tuesday, November 29 at 7:30 pm at Toronto's Kool Haus. This highly-anticipated event will be a 'who's who' of the urban world in music, sports, film, and television. UMAC will present once-in-a-lifetime artist collaborations featuring international and Canadian artists.

Done Deal - Roots Break Left

Excerpt from

(Oct. 4, 2005) *It’s now official - The Roots are part of the Def Jam family after signing Friday with Def Jam Left, an imprint described by its president Jay-Z as “an artist-driven label with very low deals so people are not pressured by first-week SoundScan [sales], so we can build artists."  The partnership comes after Jigga went public several weeks ago with his desire to sign the Philadelphia-based group.   Meanwhile, The Roots are working on a new album entitled “Game Theory,” which is said to include guests Blackstar, Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Saigon. Known for their embrace of live instrumentation, The Roots have backed Jay-Z on numerous concert gigs, including 2001’s MTV Unplugged special.  Roots drummer ?uestlove also served as music director for Hov’s 2003 “Farewell Concert” at Madison Square Garden, the show captured in the 2004 documentary “Fade to Black.”

Gospel EUR: Luther Barnes' 'Somehow, Someway'

(Sept. 29, 20050 Stellar Award Winner – Grammy Nominee – GMWA Excellence Award Winner - Dove Award Nominee - As a recipient of a 2004 Stellar Award under his belt, the incomparable Luther Barnes is back with his latest effort, “Somehow, Someway.”  Accompanied with his beloved Red Budd Gospel Choir, this long awaited project is just the latest installment in the successful Luther Barnes brand in Gospel Music. A definite staple in the Gospel industry, this celebrated balladeer is a prolific songwriter who over years has turned out “hit after hit!”  A trained professor of music, his Red Budd Gospel Choir projects allow the opportunity for Barnes to explore and present music that is not only beautiful and inspirational, but also successful at bridging contemporary with traditional disciples. A talent that has been superbly mastered by him, it has proven to keep his brand of music in the forefront of today’s ever-changing market. “I am a big fan of contemporary Gospel says Luther, but I will never completely separate myself from the true roots of Gospel music. “Someway, Somehow” is wonderful potpourri of selections layered with superb instrumentation. This project will only propel Luther Barnes and his ministry to even greater heights.

Steve Harvey Preps National Debut Of Radio Show

Excerpt from

(Sept. 30, 2005) *Fresh from his hosting duties at the 2005 BET Comedy Awards, Steve Harvey is now preparing for the national roll out of his new radio show via Premiere Radio Networks.  "The Steve Harvey Morning Show" was launched on Sept. 19 on Inner City Broadcasting's WBLS-FM in New York.  So far, Harvey has been joined in the studio by such guests as Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Reverend Al Sharpton, Deborah Norville and  New York City Mayor Bloomberg. Spike Lee is scheduled to appear on the show this morning.  To promote the program, the King of Comedy will co-host "Extra" on Oct. 5, and he’ll be a guest on NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" on Oct. 12.

Ms. Dynamite, Shystie, Other UK Rappers Starring In New TV Drama

Excerpt from - By Bhavna Malkani

(Sept. 30, 2005) UK female rappers Ms. Dynamite and Shystie will take on leading roles in a new televised interactive drama.  The production will allow viewers to vote on what happens in each episode via text messaging. The series is set in South London's tower blocks and will include scenes of MC battles and the UK thriving pirate radio scene - where many UK rap artists derive from. "We decided it would be great if we could put together a TV show, dealing with our culture that kids could relate to", Shystie recently told The Guardian. "Black music and culture is always shown as negative, we want to give it a positive twist" Other hip-hop stars included to play in the six part series include Rodney P and the So Solid Crew.  The drama was developed to educate young artists about gun crime, drugs and a variety of other issues that have been plaguing the country. The viewer led drama is directed by 25-year-old Luke Hyams and will be aired on Channel 4 in the UK later this year.

De La Soul To 'Take Back TV'

Excerpt from - By Tiffany Hamilton

(Sept. 30, 2005) Hip-Hop veterans De La Soul have teamed up with Fishbone, Suffrajet, Slum Village, Rich Medina, and others in an effort to “Take Back TV.”  “The Take Back TV” rally/concert will take place in New York City and is spearheaded by Current TV to empower young adults to become more creative in selecting programming for the network.  Current TV is the network founded by former Vice-President of the United States, Al Gore.  The free performances and "Take Back TV" rally will be a public outreach effort aimed at furthering viewer participation. The network is even encouraging audience members to bring their own cameras to the park.   Following the New York City performance, the campaign will travel to Philadelphia on October 20, for a performance at the North West corner of City Hall.  The New York City concert is scheduled to be held in Central Park on October 6th and the concert starts at 9pm. Tickets are free for both events.  For more information and directions, log onto:

Rapper Common Part Of Massive 'The Know Is Spreading' HIV Awareness Campaign

Excerpt from - By Nolan Strong

(Sept. 27, 2005) Common has teamed with Viacom and The Kaiser Family Foundation as the spokesman for 'The Know Is Spreading' campaign, which aims to normalize HIV/AIDS testing as part of routine health care.  Common, whose uncle succumbed to AIDS, contributed four original spoken word compositions to the campaign, which launched on Viacom properties CBS, UPN, MTV, Nick at Nite, VH1, BET, TV Land, Comedy Central, Spike TV and Showtime today (Sept 27). “I've witnessed firsthand the effects of HIV/AIDS and realized the difference self-love and support from the community can make,” Common said in a statement. “I also know how much of an influence we as hip-hop artists have on our audiences, so I wanted to share my self and my talents to help open the eyes and hearts of young people to the importance of testing." The campaign is also being launched simultaneously across 178 Infinity Broadcasting radio stations.  Billboards in English and Spanish and ads on buses and in bus shelters launched in the United States’ top markets today as well.  The campaign also includes artwork by The Barnstormers, a collective of New York- and Tokyo-based artists, who transformed a city block in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania into a temporary canvas of artistic images that are featured in the national “The Know is Spreading” PSA’s campaign and website. For more information log on:

Ludacris Lands Show On XM Satellite Radio

Excerpt from - By Eben Gregory

(Sept. 29, 2005) Ludacris, Atlanta’s Hip-Hop giant, announced today that he has signed on to host a weekly music show exclusively for XM Satellite Radio, the nation’s leading satellite radio service with more than 5 million subscribers.   “Disturbing Tha Peace Presents Ludacris’ Open Mic” will feature music hand-selected by the artist, including songs from Ludacris’ vast personal music collection, as well as special guests and interviews with other artists.  Ludacris born Chris Bridges, is one of the most recognized names in popular music today and his new show is expected to increase his massive fan base.  “This is the beginning of a great partnership and I really look forward to growing with XM and their millions of subscribers,” Ludacris said. “XM Satellite Radio is affording me the opportunity to expose our audience to a wider variety of music and ideas.”  Starting his career as a popular DJ on Atlanta's Hot 97, Ludacris has enjoyed enormous success since his major-label debut in 2000.  He has sold over 15 million records worldwide. “The addition of Ludacris to the XM artist family is a testament to XM’s commitment to create the best original music programming available on satellite radio,” states Eric Logan, executive vice president of programming for XM Satellite Radio. “Ludacris’ passion for and knowledge of music, along with his remarkable talent as an artist, are a natural fit with XM.”  The burgeoning actor, philanthropist and label executive has also extended his achievements far beyond the confines of his own albums.  “Disturbing Tha Peace Presents Ludacris’ Open Mic” weekly music show will debut in January 2006 on XM’s uncut hip-hop channel RAW (XM channel 66).  In related news, Ludacris will be featured on the October 6 episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Fantasia Just Now Learning To Read

Excerpt from

(Oct. 3, 20050 *Promoting her new book "Life is Not a Fairy Tale" on ABC’s “20/20” Friday, "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino revealed for the first time that she is functionally illiterate and had to put on a front during scripted portions of the Fox talent show during her run in 2004. "You're illiterate to just about everything. You don't want to misspell," Fantasia, 21, told "20/20." "So that, for me, kept me in a box and I didn't, wouldn't come out." The singer admitted to signing record deals and contracts that she couldn’t read or understand, and said the most heartbreaking part of the ordeal is not being able to read to her 4-year-old daughter, Zion. "That hurts really bad," she said, adding that her mother and brother have also struggled with literacy, and she is now learning to read from a tutor.   Also in her memoir, which she dictated to a freelance writer, Fantasia reveals that she was raped in the ninth grade by a classmate. She says she blamed her flirtation and provocative attire for the attack. Later that year, the singer dropped out of high school and became pregnant with Zion at 17.




Plot Line Fizzles In New Film Funding

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman

(Oct. 5, 2005) Flashback to the 2005 Academy Awards: one of the few Canadians whose name was called out during Oscar night at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood was 28-year-old Toronto producer, Erin Faith Young.  Her film, Hardwood — a contender in the category of documentary short — told the tangled domestic story of a Harlem Globetrotters player named Mel Davis, as told by his son, Hubert Davis, of Vancouver.  It was a miracle that Young and Davis (writer, director and editor) were able to finance their 29-minute film, in which it is revealed that Hubert was abandoned for years by his father, who in fact had two separate families — one in Cleveland, the other in Vancouver.  And the miracle was made possible through the Al Waxman Calling Card Program of the Ontario Media Development Corp., which put up $40,000.  The film was shown on TV Ontario and PBS, and its Oscar nomination gave the OMDC the best publicity it has had in years.  But recently, the OMDC quietly scrapped the program — which had funded 49 films by young, unknown filmmakers struggling to get started prior to its sudden demise.  Why mess with a program that has clearly been successful?  "We have limited funds, and we had to establish priorities," says Michel Frappier, CEO of the agency. Translation: after a decade of being out of the business of funding feature films, the provincial government's film agency is scrounging for money to get back into the game.  Last month Frappier & Co. announced a new $1.5 million fund for feature film production and development. It's a one-year-only pilot project, an experiment. The money was scratched together from various sock drawers — including $250,000, secured by killing the Calling Card program.  According to Frappier, it duplicated help offered by Telefilm Canada. In fact, Telefilm gives no direct support to short films, although Bravo Facts and the Canadian Film Centre do.  But why do away with a program that works to make way for one whose future is dicey?

"It was a thrill to be part of it while it lasted," says Sara Waxman, widow of the man whose name was attached to the program, and who made his own short-film calling card in 1967. Tviggy, about a Jewish model, played across Canada with Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.  "I have a poster signed by all the young filmmakers who were in the last group to be funded," adds Waxman. "It was wonderful to feel part of that. It's too bad it has come to an end."  The new $1.5-million feature film initiative strikes some film-industry insiders as a desperation move by an agency fighting for its existence. In fact, the agency has been adrift since the mid-1990s, when the Mike Harris government took away its feature-funding capacity and broadened its mandate.  So now instead of being a film agency, it is supposed to help book publishers, magazines, music and new media. But its mandate has become so vague that hardly anyone can explain what it does, and it has lost the confidence of the film industry.  

In its glory days, the Ontario Film Development Corp. — established by David Peterson when he was premier in the mid-1980s — funded low-budget features and nurtured a generation of auteurs, such as Atom Egoyan and Patricia Rozema.  Lately, Queen's Park has been more interested in luring Hollywood productions than in supporting indigenous films. But the climate has improved since Dalton McGuinty's Liberals were elected two years ago. It is thanks to McGuinty that Festival Centre, a new home for the Toronto International Film Festival, is being funded. And in last spring's budget, there was major funding for the Canadian Film Centre.  But someone has to sell Queen's Park on the urgency of helping Ontario develop its own cinematic New Wave. So far, there's been no sign that OMDC is up to the task. A one-time, $1.5 -million feature fund could backfire.  Like other provinces, Ontario does offer tax credits to domestic films as well as foreign ones. But one big reason Quebec cinema is thriving is that the PQ government pours $30 million into indigenous movies through its film agency, SODEC, while Ontario does nothing.  Before it can make a strong case to the government, this agency needs to create a much stronger profile and come up with a mission and a mandate.  And it needs the sense not to throw away a calling card that works.


Snow Storms The Big Apple

Excerpt From The Globe And Mail - By Sarah Milroy

(Oct. 5, 2005) New York has always had a mythic place in the imagination of artists, particularly, perhaps, for Toronto multimedia artist Michael Snow.  Raised in Montreal and Toronto and schooled at the Ontario College of Art, Snow spent the white-hot phase of his early career as a filmmaker and artist in New York with his then-wife Joyce Wieland -- from 1962 to 1972. During those scrappy years, he made many of his important early experimental films and the lion's share of his Walking Woman pieces. With Wieland, he explored the galleries and movie houses uptown and down, and after a while his name got around -- so much so that, in 1976, he landed a one-man show of his photographic work at the Museum of Modern Art. By then, though, he had returned home to Toronto to join the gang at the Isaacs Gallery, and settle into the role of local legend. Now, at 76, Snow will descend on New York again, although this time it will be a somewhat more luxurious fall, attended by a venerating hush. Starting this evening, a series of Snow's films will be screened at MoMA, including Wavelength, La Région Central, *Corpus Callosum and New York Eye and Ear Control (several of which have been recently acquired for its collection). Tonight at the museum, Snow is talking about his book works, and in MoMA's media room, he will be showing a few installation works both new and old, among them three Walking Woman pieces from his New York salad days. Rounding out the presentation is his exquisite, more recent piece from 2002 titled Solar Breath (Northern Caryatid), a DVD projection that documents the evocative movements of a wind-blown curtain at the end of day. (Until Saturday, this last work is also on view in a small and insightful exhibition titled Michael Snow: Windows at Galerie de l'UQAM in Montreal, an exhibition drawing from all phrases of his career.) In addition to the MoMA show, another New York accolade is in the offing. In the coming issue of the venerated October magazine -- the art world's most rarefied clearinghouse of ideas -- Snow is interviewed by editor Annette Michelson about his music-making, and three scholars have contributed essays.

When I spoke to Snow last week in Toronto on the eve of his New York trip, he was clearly delighted with all this, and a little taken aback. With a little prompting, he could be induced to recall his first forays in the city. "We were always very interested in what was happening there," he says, recalling his and Wieland's early days together as fellow animation artists in George Dunning's Graphic Films studio in Toronto. "We found out about New York through the art magazines, and I guess we went down there two or three times a year." Wieland, he says, was initially the more knowledgeable of the two when it came to film, and they soon became habitués of the underground scene, meeting many of the soon-to-be-celebrated experimental filmmakers of the day. "We kept seeing this strange bug-eyed guy at all the same screenings we went to," he says, remembering the itinerant screenings that filmmaker, poet and curator Jonas Mekas organized at venues all over Manhattan. "It turned out to be Hollis Frampton." Soon they had formed a circle of like-minded souls. "Then one day this guy called P. Adam Sitney wrote an article calling us the Structural Filmmakers -- it was myself, Joyce, Ken Jacobs, Paul Sharits, Hollis Frampton, Ernie Gehr. . . . That was it. We were a movement. Of course, we were just a bunch of guys hanging out and watching each other's films." Mekas was behind Snow's first big break in 1967. He notified Snow of a film festival in Belgium, urging him to send his new film, Wavelength. When Snow said he was too broke to make the new soundtrack that the piece required, Mekas footed the bill. "He was more broke than we were," Snow says, "but he did it." The film won first prize: $5,000. Still, there were ties to home. When Trudeaumania swept Canada in 1968, Wieland and her friend, playwright Mary Mitchell, caught the bug from afar. They decided to throw a party for the prime ministerial candidate, to introduce him to Canadians in New York. The party was mostly artists. "I was put in charge of the music," Snow says, "and I thought it should be more than hip. At that time I was very interested in free jazz. I knew it would be dangerous, but it really almost ruined the party." Pierre Trudeau, however, was up for the commotion. "I introduced him to the drummer, a guy called Milford Graves, and I said: 'He's the best drummer alive today,' and Trudeau said: 'What about Max Roach?' I mean, here was a guy who had opinions that were actually based on knowing something! I thought to myself: You're elected."

As the United States descended deeper into the quagmire of Vietnam, Canada seemed increasingly appealing. "They were spying on the people who were at the anti-war demonstrations," he says. "They were making their lists." By 1972, Snow says, when the couple finally let go of their Chambers Street studio and moved home, "Canada was looking like the more interesting place to be. It was starting to feel like New York was old and Toronto was new." In the years since then, Snow's reputation has continued to build in Canada and abroad. Since his 1994 Toronto retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Power Plant, he has been increasingly lauded in Europe, particularly in France, where he has had two major shows at the Centre Pompidou, and has been named a Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres. But the MoMA show has a special resonance. "Back in the sixties, New York really was the centre of the art world, and now things are much more fragmented," he says. "But still, I think it's important." In a way, the city remains a kind of frame for seeing. Snow's Solar Breath (Northern Caryatid), which appears in both the Montreal and New York shows, explores another kind of frame. This is the kind of deep, slow piece that can only be made by the well-ripened artist, and it's a resonant revisitation of one of his favourite themes: the window. Over its hour-long course, we watch the moving image of a simple white gauze curtain in the two-panel window of his summer cabin, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland. (Snow built the house himself 35 years ago, and he is still building it today -- or, as he says, correcting himself: "I should say I'm still repairing it.") On the left side, the glass is removed and in its place is a bug screen -- not visible to the viewer but commensurate with the plane of the image projected on the wall. The breeze of early evening makes the curtain billow out, sometimes lifting it tantalizingly to reveal the back yard and the hill beyond in all its emerald green glory, or sucking it back against the screen in sudden and often startling ways, the fabric crumpled flat against the screen for a few seconds before, once again, releasing. (The caryatid reference in the title harks back to the classical Greek sculptors and their love of drapery.) It's as if the world is breathing in and out to its own mysterious rhythm, while we can hear, quietly in the background, the sound of Snow and his wife of 24 years, Peggy Gale, sharing a quiet supper together, the kind of little domestic ritual that shapes the flow of time. Intelligent, spare and technically flawless, the work also has a melancholy romantic tone that marks many of Snow's forays into the window theme. One senses the longing for the world beyond the frame that you can never know. "Windows, of course, are a metaphor for the eyes," Snow says. "They are our windows within the physical flesh of the body. That was part of the metaphor in Wavelength," he adds, referring to the slow, 45-minute forward zoom of the camera toward a wall of studio windows in his most celebrated film. "But windows are also about concentration. When you are in three-dimensional space, you focus but you miss an awful lot. Your attention has to be more or less in one particular place. Windows say 'You are only allowed to see this.' Framing has to do with that choice. It's about that process of selection."

Michael Snow's films will be screened at the Museum of Modern Art until Nov. 30 ( Michael Snow: Windows, organized by Martha Langford, continues at Galerie de l'UQAM in Montreal until Saturday (514-987-8421).


Not A Lotta Liotta, But A Few Big Deals

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Alexandra Gill

(Oct. 5, 2005) VANCOUVER -- Ray Liotta opened the Vancouver International Film Festival's 20th anniversary Film and Television Trade Forum last Wednesday as the highly touted headline speaker. Fresh from his Emmy win for outstanding guest actor in a drama series in ER, but totally exhausted after working till 2:30 a.m. on the set of Dungeon Siege, the Canadian-produced feature film based on the video game of the same name, Liotta arrived at the new Vancouver Film Centre at 11:15 sharp and promptly told organizers that journalists were not welcome. "He wanted to speak frankly to filmmakers about his experiences," explains Trade Forum producer Melanie Friesen, Martin Scorsese's former head of development. "He was exceptionally good humoured for someone who had worked so late. Hat's off to him for even showing up." Liotta is best known for his portrayal of Henry Hill in Scorsese's Goodfellas (Hill is a real-life snitch who lost his witness protection last month when he was thrown back in jail for a drug conviction). So what did the actor and budding producer have to say that was so secretive? He apparently talked about how he fell into acting because a cute girl suggested he be in a play, how much he owed an early acting coach, his wild times with Goodfellas' Joe Pesci and his new film-production company, Tiara Blu. He didn't say much about Revolver, the latest film from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director Guy Ritchie, in which he co-stars as a gangster called Dorothy Macha. The film was blasted by British critics when it opened there two weeks ago, calling it a "cinematic catastrophe" that made "[Ritchie's] last disaster," 2002's Swept Away, "look like a classic."

So there was nothing shocking said, no damning revelations? "No," says Friesen. "But maybe there might have been if he had been asked any shocking questions." Souvenir of Canada, a documentary based on Douglas Coupland's book about Canadian artifacts and nostalgia, might be coming soon to a theatre near you. The National Film Board co-production had its Vancouver premiere in the author's hometown on Sunday night. The public's response was almost as enthusiastic as at the film's world premiere in Toronto, where audience members hooted and hollered and laughed at all the right moments. "It was almost like a gospel concert," says the NFB's Gerry Flahive, who co-produced the film with Media Headquarters' Robert Cohen. After the Toronto screening, the producers were approached by six or seven theatrical distributors who expressed interest. And although no firm deal has yet to be worked out, the film's popularity is certainly a boon for the NFB, which has never had an easy time getting its films out on the big screen. Coupland, in the meantime, says he hopes the film (which screens again on Oct. 11) signals a watershed moment for students across the country. "The National Film Board movies, themselves, are astonishingly boring," he told a local reporter. "But our relationship to them is not. We all remember the sound of the AV cart with the squeaking wheel coming down the hallway, and even though we knew that meant the next half-hour was doomed, there is something to that memory." Is there a place for the fusion of science and art? A sales representative from Harvey Weinstein's new production, development and acquisition company thinks so.

Genome Canada, the national funding and information resource body for genomics and proteomics research, took a fair amount of flack for its financial support of The Score, a delightful, groundbreaking musical drama about a genetics-based cancer research lab that had its world premiere at VIFF on Saturday and will be broadcast on CBC Television's Opening Night in January. "They were told they shouldn't be supporting the arts, they should be supporting science research," explains Michael Hayden, director and senior scientist of Vancouver's Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics. It was Hayden who originally commissioned Vancouver's Electric Company Theatre to create the play on which the film was based. The Score, which explores tricky ethical issues and universal themes about identity, freedom and creation as it tells the story of a brilliant geneticist racing to isolate a cancer-causing gene and draws parallels with classical-music composition, was selected by Vancouver's Georgia Straight as one of its Top 10 festival picks. Now Hollywood is interested, too. Leah Mallen, who produced the film with Screen Siren Pictures Inc.'s Trish Dolman, received a call last week from Mike Rose, a sales agent in the L.A. office of the new Weinstein Co. who said he had heard "great things" about the film, which screens again at VIFF next Wednesday afternoon. Harvey and Bob Weinstein are, of course, the Hollywood mavericks whose Miramax studios produced the Oscar-winning films The Hours and Chicago, while reinvigorating the independent film industry by distributing and producing controversial or fringe, low-budget movies that had been overlooked by Hollywood (The Crying Game, The English Patient and Pulp Fiction among them). They infamously clashed with Disney's chief executive officer Michael Eisner after he refused to release Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's documentary, which was critical of U.S. president George Bush. And after years of reported tension in their 12-year partnership with Disney, the Weinsteins stepped down as co-chief executives of Miramax on Sept. 30.

The Score's enthusiastic public and critical reception is sweet victory to Hayden, who gave The Electric Company unfettered access to his students and colleagues, interfering in the creative process only when something was factually inaccurate. Much of the drama in the film, including a competition to clone a gene and a sex scene between two scientists, is based on real events that happened in his lab. "The arts are not a frill, they are essential to my own scientific development," says Hayden, whose lab boasts a piano, weekly salsa dancing lessons and quiet alcoves for art where researchers can go to contemplate their problems and catalyze new ideas. "Everybody thinks scientists are cold and rational. The truth is that nothing could be more passionate than the search for scientific discoveries that break down barriers and change paradigms of thinking. Working with these artists was such an amazing experience that opened us up in ways we could never guess. We found that we had so much in common."


Tamyra Gray Steps Up, More...

Excerpt from - By Karu F. Daniels

(Sept. 30, 2005) The beautifully talented Tamyra Gray has turned over a new leaf.  And she’s ready to let the world see it. Best known as a finalist of the wildly popular TV phenomenon known as “American Idol” (Season One), the Atlanta-bred singer-songwriter and actress-on-the rise makes her feature film debut in the music-based Rainforest/Screen Gems drama “The Gospel,” opening nationwide on October 7.  “It was a little nerve-racking,” she said about her first big acting role, further explaining, “because I had never done it and I wasn’t as confident as I was singing. But because I didn’t know what I was doing, I pushed myself like that much more.”  In the role of a single mother dealing with her own issues – and possible love interests of the leading man, played by Boris Kodjoe, Ms. Gray shines brightly on the big screen. As she should. Before becoming a household name on “Idol,” the Takoma Park, MD native toiled in the performance arts and subsequently was crowned Miss Atlanta, after becoming a legend in her own right on the pageant circuit. So competition is nothing for her. She just doesn’t want anyone to pigeon-hole her. After leaving the show, Ms. Gray was fortunate enough to get great perks that came along with the hit series: she immediately acquired a manager, an agent and an acting gig on the now defunct “Boston Public.”  “If it wasn’t for the show I wouldn’t have been given that,” she confided. “I think eventually down the line, I would’ve been given the opportunity to act but because of the show, I was given it immediately. I think if things would’ve changed and I wasn’t the fourth runner up, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that. I would’ve been forced to just do music. I think things happen the way they’re supposed to happen.”

Speaking of music, she also landed a record deal with Clive Davis’ J Records. But that didn’t pan out too well.  “I did hear that I was difficult,” she deadpanned. “What happened was basically the songs that I were given, and I think her album was great, are the same songs that are like on Fantasia’s album.  Can you imagine me singing a Baby Mama song?   If I wasn’t on ‘Idol,’ possibly I could’ve gotten away with it. But I was like ‘You’re giving me these types of songs and basically what you’re setting me up for is to fail. If you’re giving me that song, that’s not believable.’ There’s no way that somebody could relate that kind of song to me and say that’s who she is.”  “What I was finding out with J,” she continued, “it was more of a thing like ‘Well, this works. This is what we’ve been making records with with our Black artists. We want them to be ghetto. This is what’s selling.  This is what the market says it wants right now. This is what we’re going to give them.’ And I was like ‘I will flop. I will flop.’  If you flop coming out with your first album, and you’re on a major, and you’ve had the exposure and you were on the number one  TV show in the country, then basically people are going to look at you say ‘duh!”  “I loved the thought of working with Clive Davis,” she continued. “It’s like if anybody is going to ‘get’ me, he’s going to ‘get’ me and it was just a big disappointment for me when that didn’t happen.  If anything, I would say that Alicia Keys’ style would be more of the style that I wanted to do. And there was an argument for that.” Undeterred, she released “The Dreamer” her very own opus on the “American Idol” label 19 Entertainment.  She also wound penning lyrics for “American Idol” (Season 3) winners Fantasia Barrino and Diana Degarmo – on the low. “They didn’t know I wrote it in the beginning,” she revealed. “It was kept a secret until they said yes.”

From there she went on to light up Broadway in the musical spectacular “Bombay Dreams.”  Of that experience, the recently engaged 26-year-old down home girl offered: “It was fun and t was different. I don’t think that I could be a Broadway star, in terms of that’s all I do. But I think it’s good because it helps me get more into acting, and learn more technique.  We had to rehearse for a month and learn more. So it was great as far as honing my acting skills. I think I might be doing a new musical that’s coming out soon.” In the midst of shopping for a new record deal, Ms. Gray recently became the face of an international fashion campaign for H&M, along with Queen of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige. She’s also up for a role in a forthcoming Las Vegas stage musical. And now comes “The Gospel.”  Who could ask for anything more?  “My goal was to get exposure because I had been singing and trying to get a record deal since I was 13,” Ms. Gray added.  At one point, she was being mentored by late TLC member Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes. All of her attempts at success on the Atlanta music scene were not fruitful.  However, the tide did really turn for her when she made it to the finals of “Idol.”     “You get discouraged but I wasn’t giving up.”  We’re glad she didn’t.


Gina Torres On The Insanity Of ‘Serenity’

Excerpt from

(Sept. 30, 2005) *This has to be a first – a television series that was cancelled after one season has been adapted into a feature-length film and is currently the most eagerly-anticipated, critically-acclaimed sci-fi picture to hit theaters – probably since “The Empire Strikes Back.”  “Serenity,” opening today with actress Gina Torres among the lead roles, is adapted from Joss Whedon’s 2002 TV show “Firefly,” which also starred Torres as the second in command on a space ship (Serenity) as it tries to survive a galactic war some 500 years in the future.  The show was cancelled by Fox after one season, despite a deluge of rabid fans demanding the show be given another chance. When its 14 completed episodes came out on DVD, stores couldn’t keep the discs in stock. Universal Pictures stepped in with the no-brainer to adapt the popular series into a film, and suddenly the cast and crew of “Firefly” found themselves back under the guidance of writer-director Joss Whedon, and with a renewed sense of confidence.  “We all knew we were working on a miracle,” said Torres.  “And when you get up every morning at 5:30 to get to set, or to drive out to the desert, knowing that you’re working on a miracle, it makes it that much easier.” One of the challenges of resurrecting a dead television series for filmgoers who may have never heard of “Firefly” is unraveling the back story for new fans without boring the old ones.  Torres says that the characters’ histories are cleverly revealed in the first 15 minutes, thanks to the writing wizardry of Whedon – the scribe behind TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The long-running Sarah Michelle Gellar series also enjoyed die-hard fans that helped sustain the show during its early years. The undeniable common denominator is the writer, whom Torres and the rest of the cast credit for the film’s pre-existing following.

“‘Firefly’ had a short run and they found us anyway,” says Torres of the fans. “When the DVD sets hit the stands, they were gone inside of 48 hours.  That, to me, just spoke to the fans and their commitment to us, and trying to make us successful, which is unbelievable.   “They felt like they were doing the right thing in keeping us alive. I think that speaks more to the fact that there just wasn’t a whole lot of quality programming on the air that these people could jack into and enjoy.  When they saw something that was wonderful, that was unique, that was intelligent, that was well-written, that’s what they became attached to and committed to, and fans of. And god knows we need fans of good television that are willing to fight for it. I think we all feel blessed that they were willing to go to the extremes that they did.” Torres’ next big screen project is “Five Fingers,” a film due next year that pairs her with husband, Laurence Fishburne in the story of a Dutchman (Ryan Phillippe) who is abducted by a terrorist (Fishburne) while in Morocco to set up a food charity. Both Torres and Fishburne have worked together just once before, although barely, on “The Matrix Revolutions.”  On the opposite side of the budget scale, the extremely indie “Five Fingers” offered the couple their first chance to work closely together on screen.  “It was everything that we hoped it would be,” Torres said of the experience.  “We’re two very strong people and have strong convictions about work and character and approach. The fact that we were able to come together and create something was wonderful. The fact it was a low-budget movie and we didn’t have a whole lot of time, and we were all working towards the same end just made that whole experience better. As for the temptation to discuss their characters during the husband-wife off hours at home, Torres explained: “We’d go home and run lines. It’s not like we were strategizing [about our roles]. It was just, ‘Okay, we got 12 pages to do tomorrow, let’s go.’  It was a great experience and we’re looking forward to repeating it on the right project.” The couple just celebrated their third anniversary on Sept. 20. Torres, the youngest of three children in a Cuban American household, says of the off-screen relationship with her husband: “We always make time for each other, we support each other in the projects that come up. We travel to wherever the other is and it’s good.”


Mr. Decent vs. Mr. Potty Mouth

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Sarah Hampson

(Oct. 1, 2005) Tender. Earnest. Insightful. Funny. Soulful, even. And oh yes, horribly foul-mouthed when he is asked to be. Paul Reiser stars in two concurrent movies. He's proud of one but a bit embarrassed and defensive about the other. He is featured in The Aristocrats, the surprise-hit documentary of famous comedians gleefully telling their version of perhaps the dirtiest, most obscene vaudeville joke. And he's the star (along with Peter Falk of Columbo fame), writer and producer of The Thing About My Folks, a tender and extremely moving father-and-son tale that he says is "so much my baby, nothing else will be this personal in the future." Ah, Hollywood. It's so unpredictable. Well, sometimes. They churn out the look-a-like blockbusters, and then, sneaking up on the party like a bratty seven-year-old, up pops the little indie films that no one thinks are going anywhere.  "People say to me, 'You made both these movies?' " explains Reiser, 48, an affable Everyman presence in a dark jacket and a pair of faded jeans. "[But] I didn't make The Aristocrats! A friend of mine, Paul Provenza [the director] asked 'Would you do it?' and I said, 'Sure, that's a fun idea. Whatever.' It's not a career choice. It's not a reflection of me." He stops his monologue momentarily, mid-sip of his lunchtime gin and tonic. A thought has interrupted his flow. "[But] I'll stand by it," he adds in a rueful tone of voice.

So is it strange to be revealed as a foul-mouthed comedian? "A little bit," he says, cringing. "Listen," he continues, clearly wanting to be finished with the topic. "I think you can safely assume anybody who you look at, with the exception of maybe Billy Graham, who acts socially appropriately, also, in certain circumstances, tells a dirty joke." The two faces of Paul Reiser wouldn't be so noteworthy if it weren't for the fact that he is imprinted on the cultural consciousness as Mr. Decent, a guy who develops meaningful relationships the way other men perfect their golf swing. In Mad About You, the NBC sitcom that ran for seven years in the nineties and co-starred Helen Hunt as his wife, Reiser played Paul Buchman, a painstakingly thoughtful husband. Co-creator and writer of the popular series, he admits it was based on his now 17-year marriage to Paula, a practising psychotherapist he met in Pittsburgh. "She was a puppy, just 19. A waitress," he says. He was an unknown on the comedy-club circuit, about to move to Los Angeles to try his luck. They now have two young sons, Ezra and Leon. Reiser is sweet about the harmony of his domestic life. Of their union, he says, "It works, because I like to talk and she likes to listen." And on life with a comedian and a therapist in the household, he quips, "Well, I'm not always funny, and she's not always shrinking." He has also written two books: Couplehood in 1994 and Babyhood in 1997. The Thing About My Folks is a road movie about a middle-aged son (Reiser) and his dad (Falk) who go off on a journey after the family matriarch (Olympia Dukakis) leaves a note on the fridge saying she needs to be on her own after nearly 50 years of marriage. Its framework is simple: a road, a car, two men -- but the insights and lessonsabout love, family and marriage provide complex detours. Reiser's film company is called Nuance Productions, and rightly so. He understands the shadings of the heart. In his movie, he plays his type: a kind, dutiful (and psychotherapied) son who is trying to understand his parents and make them see how to love each other more fully. It, too, is semi-autobiographical. "I'm not smart enough to write about something that didn't actually happen to me," Reiser explains, laughing. "It's not a plan. But I couldn't write a space movie if you put a gun to my head."

But there's more to it than that. Reiser, who was born in Manhattan, the fourth child of a health-food wholesaler, is that rare Hollywood breed who wants meaning over money. "I do like things that matter," he acknowledges. "Especially as you get older, you don't want to spend your life blood on something that you don't believe in. So I couldn't imagine doing a movie just for the money. If you need the money, of course you do it. But just to go do it? Why? What is that movie offering out there?" Mr. Decent, it turns out, is also Mr. Earnest. No wonder he's embarrassed about being Mr. Potty Mouth. He is almost evangelical about the need for sweet, heartfelt stories such as The Thing About My Folks. "I feel I am on a mission to dismantle people's cynicism," he says fulsomely. "There is such an emotional response to this film," he says, explaining that he has personally attended over 100 screenings of it across North America. "After people see it, they come up to me and start talking about their parents. Suddenly, it's a Dr. Phil show. People are healing around this movie. That sounds like a very pretentious goal and I never set that goal, but I see that happening." The Christian right-wing press have praised it, too. He started writing the film almost 20 years ago. He had seen his father, who died suddenly in 1989, laughing over a performance by Peter Falk in Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective. But he struggled with what the story should be and kept abandoning the project. "It wasn't that thought-out," he says, when asked if the impetus to write it was the same 20 years ago as it was when he picked it up four years ago and finished the screenplay in a matter of weeks. At the beginning, "I think it was just 'Must kill the President,' " he jokes, adopting a robotic voice of the inner consciousness. " 'Must write movie with Peter Falk as Dad.' " After Mad About You ended in 1999, Reiser decided to take it easy, be at home with his family and see what projects "floated to the top." But then the terrorist events of 9/11 helped clarify his priorities. "It was this huge dose of 'Wow, this could all go terribly wrong tomorrow.' There's only one thing that would make me unhappy professionally and it was not doing this movie."

Another catalyst was a meeting with Falk. They knew each other casually from encounters at award ceremonies. But then Reiser attended a two-person play Falk was in. Afterward, he went backstage to say hello. "I was complimenting him, and then he grabbed me by the shoulders and he said, 'Listen to me. I love you. I love everything you do.' And I said, 'Well, that's very nice.' I hadn't told him anything about my screenplay at that point," Reiser adds in a hushed storytelling voice. "And he goes, 'Listen to me,' " Reiser explains, mimicking Falk's deep raspy voice. " 'I love what you write.' " Reiser widens his blue eyes in wonderment. "And I said to myself, 'Okay, there's not going to be a bigger sign from God than Peter Falk, who knows nothing about this project, looking me in the eye and saying, 'Go write it, dummy!' So I went home and I wrote it." The film is his first original screenplay.  Funny how God wants to make movies these days. But Reiser's conviction had to be zealous. "This is a movie that could easily not have been made." All the studios turned him down. "There's no one in their 20s in it. There's no sex. There's no action. I was like, 'Okay, but don't you think there are other important things?' " In the end, he secured "a couple of million" from private investors. Reiser is more writer than actor or even comedian. On film, he is puzzling through things, decoding people and relationships. Which is why, perhaps, he is slightly embarrassed by the straightforward crassness of The Aristocrats. There's no nuance to it. "That's a joke I wouldn't tell to 99 out of 100 people I know," he admits. (Such is his desire to heal through film that he sometimes wonders why comics tell certain racial jokes on TV. "I think that doesn't help people. That hurts people," he explains.) But don't think just because he craves meaning and can be more earnest than a right-wing Christian zealot that's he one-dimensional. The bad boy is not completely buried. He stops talking abruptly at one point during the lunch to listen to the restaurant's piped-in music -- a swelling rendition of Puccini's aria Nessun Dorma. "Oh," says Reiser, slumping in his chair and holding his head in his hands. "That music either makes me want to cry or hightail it to Vegas," he observes, before picking up where he left off.


Boreanaz Keeps His Bad-Boy Edge

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Jen Gerson

(Oct. 3, 2005) After breaking through the bondage of Buffy and other cult-classic space-channel sitcoms, David Boreanaz is ready to take on the world. At least, the world of feature film. "I'm going in the right direction, I'm aiming for global domination now," he said. "It's an amazing experience of transition that I'm going through." But long-time fans who remember him as the lead of the gothic sitcom Angel and romantic lead opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will delight in knowing that the actor has lost none of his bad-boy brooding intensity in his most recent movie, the Canadian film These Girls. Based on the play by Vivienne Laxdal, These Girls follows the misadventures of three girls in a small New Brunswick town as they blackmail local knife-toting tough guy Keith Clark into having sex with them. Boreanaz plays Clark, a husband and new father who sets himself up for a physical and emotional beating by having a dalliance with the girls, who are -- in true to sex-farce-form -- his babysitters. "Where we were shooting brought out the best in this character," Boreanaz said while soaking in the sun recently on the roof of the InterContinental Hotel in Toronto. The shoot was in a small rural town, and Boreanaz said he felt depressed being away from his wife and child at the time. "When you're away from the goodness in your life, it puts you in a place where you're lonely." He channelled that emotion into giving Clark a sense of vulnerability. "Making him likeable after all he did is difficult."

Raised Catholic and versed in Buddhism, Boreanaz is an eclectic mix of spiritual philosophies. He wears a rosary blessed by the Pope around his neck and sports Chinese tattoos that translate into "soul" and "fate" on his wrists. He said he met his wife, Jaime Bergman, by noticing that she had the same tattoos in the same place. Sleeping with three teenaged babysitters, even sexually voracious and manipulative teenaged babysitters, follows in Boreanaz's typical bad-boy characters. But in real life, the girls of These Girls said that he was every bit the gentleman. He even took them out for dinner and talked about how much he loved his wife before shooting the sex scenes. Holly Lewis, who plays Lisa MacDougall, a Seventh Day Adventist who wants to lose her virginity before being shipped off to a religious college, portrays one of the most awkward first-time sex experiences on film. She said the comedy of the film eased any discomfort. "That made it so much easier to do, because the sex was not sensual," Lewis said. Amanda Walsh, who plays Glory Lorraine, a character so naive as to inspire anger, said the comedy-of-errors style of the film would allow them to poke at traditional female stereotypes and sexual norms without drawing too much ire. "The plot is controversial, but the plot was executed in a lighter way that cuts through that controversy," she said. Walsh's character falls in love with Clark and deludes herself into believing that the two would have a future together. "He's an older man, and it's hard to believe that what's going on in your head isn't going on in his as well," she said.  "It's messing with grown-up territory in a childish and naive way." Caroline Dhavernas's Keira St-George narrates the film, unapologetically reflecting on the characters' behaviour. Meanwhile, Boreanaz hasn't given up the small screen completely. He's working on the drama series Bones for Fox, although he adds that the workload can be overwhelming.  "An hour-long drama to deal with is a death sentence in a way," he said. But he's also starred in two films, Mr. Fix-it and The Hard Easy, which are currently in post-production. So why doesn't he want to talk about Buffy? "I don't like reunions. . . . I don't like to go back to the things that I've already done," he said. "It's like after a meal is over, you don't go picking up used napkins."


Colin Firth: The Charmed Life Of A Late-Blooming Heartthrob

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Liam Lacey

(Oct. 4, 2005) Colin Firth has said that he feels lucky he didn't become a "hunk" until he was 35 -- he had a few years to learn to become an actor first. Tall, dark and somewhat brooding-looking, the 45-year-old actor spent part of his early career at Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company and went on to various film roles, typically playing naive young men. By the time he was 35, when he married Italian film producer Livia Giuggioli, he had had only had two girlfriends, including Canadian actress Meg Tilly, with whom he had a son. Then, in 1995, he starred in the role of Fitzwilliam Darcy in the BBC miniseries of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. (His brother Jonathan said, "Darcy -- but isn't he supposed to be sexy?") But the role of Darcy, and particularly a scene where he emerged wet from a pond and earned the sobriquet the "male Ursula Andress," changed his life. Then later, there were two more Mr. Darcys in Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, and several other Darcy-like brooding film roles. Darcy, says Firth, has been sexy for 200 years but he's proud he made it convincing. He once said, "I have a kind of neutrality, physically. I can be made to look a lot better, or a lot worse." His sex appeal is indirect, the male equivalent of the prim librarian who, under the right circumstances, may be persuaded to doff her spectacles and pull out her hairpins.

On this particular late afternoon, the second last day of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Firth was looking pleasantly rumpled, wearing a sports jacket over an untucked shirt, faded blue jeans on long legs and a lot of beard stubble. He was also bleary-eyed, not apparently related to the glass of red wine in his hand, but to exhaustion. He flew in the previous night from Tunisia, where he is shooting a sword-and-sandal epic, The Last Legion, for the TIFF premiere of Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies.  He has a car waiting to take him to the airport in half an hour. Looking distracted, he put down the wine and asked a publicist for a double espresso. I asked him if he was very tired. "A great understatement," he says. "Very tired was about 8 a.m. this morning." After so many roles where he has played superficially dark, secretly nice characters, his part in Egoyan's film, based on Rupert Holmes's show-business whodunit, as beloved fifties television entertainer Vince Collins (with Kevin Bacon as the Jerry Lewis-like sidekick), is a departure. There's bisexuality, drug and alcohol abuse, and nudity. Collins is an unsavoury character who ends up a depraved Hollywood recluse. Were there any second thoughts about taking on such a role? "Every job you take is a spin of the dice to a certain point, but I've never seen a film by Atom you can't respect. This film -- in the hands of someone who I didn't admire and respect -- I'd positively know to keep away from. "But everything that Atom has done is thought-provoking and investigative and lacking in crass moral judgment. I thought it would be an interesting journey to take." Firth wanted to do the role with an American accent instead of an Englishman as Egoyan's script indicated -- but he was overruled: "I realized the arguments for keeping with the script were too solid to ignore. We present him as an archetypal Englishman of a certain kind, which makes the violence and debauchery more shocking. It was much the same way as this biography of Cary Grant that came out at the time we were shooting, which dealt with his bisexuality and interest in LSD, which was only really interesting because it wasn't our image of Cary Grant."

Firth thinks there may be some insulation from celebrity excess in living in England: "Believing in your own publicity is a weakness that can apply to anyone, anywhere. Tearing into all the favours that fame can bestow on you without any kind of sense of putting the brakes on -- that can happen anywhere. You only have to look around and see how much drugs, alcoholism and suicide there are among people who have got it all. I think [in England] we're protected by our famous sense of irony to some extent. There is a tendency to debunk, so it's a little harder to get above yourself. Even though we have an ancient aristocratic system and there still can be found people who take status and titles seriously, the prevailing feeling is there's not very much respect for an actor who has to have a bigger trailer than another actor. It's very difficult to sustain on an English set without becoming laughable." Of course, it's also true that some of the greatest acting in England takes place in the relatively modestly paid and mean world of the theatre, where actors like Firth learn their craft: "I've always been taught that without resistance, you can't develop -- whether it's your muscles or your voice or your acting ability. It's a tragedy really when creative people get so rich and famous that people open doors and smile all the time and give them everything you want. Now I've worked in America a lot of times and by far the majority of actors [there] are very well-grounded, [with] enormous senses of humour and very professional. But I've seen star behaviour. It's not even the star's behaviour, but watching it being connived at by people around them: not rolling their eyes, not questioning, not laughing when they hear something particularly pompous, all of which is destructive to the person who's being fawned on." Perhaps another reason for Firth's perspective is that he comes from a family that didn't place fame and wealth as the pinnacle of value. Three of his grandparents were Methodist missionaries, a denomination that emphasizes the importance of serving others. Both his parents were academics -- his father taught history and his mother comparative religion: "I suppose I could be thought of as a black sheep, but there's a line of consistency. We're all involved in things that aren't exactly tangible -- preaching a sermon isn't quite the same as hammering nails and building something. We all stand up and tell stories to people in a way." Recently, Firth became a director of Progreso, which has opened two London coffee shops in a planned-for English chain, half-owned by OXFAM and intended as a challenge to Starbucks and other luxury coffee chains. The difference: Progreso profits go back to coffee-grower co-ops in Ethiopia, Honduras and Indonesia, or to help other coffee-growers. Firth has lobbied the World Trade Organization about fair-trade practices, personally invested money to set up the Progreso chain, bought shares for producers, travelled to Ethiopia and even served behind the counter.

The experience has forced him to deal with the social value of celebrity: "The whole business of celebrities and causes is full of paradoxes. Who the hell wants to listen to someone preaching to them about poverty who comes from a life of privilege? And I say, well then, stop reading here because I don't want to bore you. "But organizations who want to help people are tracking down celebrities and their endorsements like gold dust because they've discovered it's one of the most effective ways to create change . . . My own solution was I couldn't be just another celebrity spokesman. I got directly involved and understand the system from one end of the chain to the other, and I've become better educated and I think, in many ways, it has fundamentally changed me." Spoken like a true Methodist celebrity hunk.


Little Magic In New Potter Film For Winnipeg Group

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Terry Weber

(Oct. 4, 2005) Winnipeg folk singers The Wyrd Sisters don't see the magic in the new Harry Potter movie. The group has issued a statement of claim seeking $40-million plus punitive damages from three divisions of the Warner Brothers empire, singer Jarvis Cocker of the British band Pulp, and Johnny Greenwood and Phil Selway of Radiohead.  The three real-life rockers reportedly appear as a band bearing the same moniker in the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Despite the risk of incurring the wrath of Potter diehards worldwide, the group wants to block the distribution of the film in Canada until the fracas is settled. The veteran Winnipeg singers either want the name of the group in the movie changed or they want the studio to help them establish a new identity to differentiate them from the film's fictional characters. The latter, their lawyer Kimberly Townley-Smith says, would be a tough go, considering that the group has been performing under their current name for nearly two decades. "It's a difficult transition, they've been around 15 years, they're pushing 50, it's difficult to do that," she told The Juno-nominated band, she said, would prefer that the studio change the name of the group in the movie. If that doesn't happen, the group's ability to perform and win new fans because the name would be too closely associated with the film. "If they don't do that essentially can't play any more," she said.

Ms. Townley-Smith said the group was first approached by the studio in June about the name conflict, at which point the scenes had already been shot. The two sides are now in discussions. She would not discuss the negotiations or the likelihood that an amicable settlement would be reached. "We're still talking," she said. The next legal step would be to seek an emergency injunction in an Ontario court seeking to bar the film — slated for a November release — from being shown in Canada. No date has been set for that hearing. She said there is precedent in Canada in which injunctions have been granted over trademark conflicts. In the movie, a group reportedly named The Wyrd Sisters play at the Hogwarts Yule Ball. In the book, the group was called the Weird Sisters. Chart Magazine has reported that Warners has said the band in the film doesn't have a name and they do not intend to use the Wyrd Sisters handle. On the Internet Movie Database Web site, the Mr. Cocker, Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Selway are all identified simply as band members in the film's credits. However, press reports late last year about the casting of the group in the movie referred to the fictional band as The Wyrd Sisters. Warner has served the group with a notice of its intent to defend itself in the case. News of the suit triggered a backlash from some Radiohead fans and prompted members of Winnipeg's Wyrd Sisters to post their own response, in which they asked for understanding. "We share the same mandate and philosophy that Radiohead does, and we certainly do not mean them any harm," the group said in a posting on its Web site. "I think that if the Radiohead fellows really knew what was going on that they'd be as appalled and horrified as we are." With a report from the Canadian Press


Reeves Plays Man Behind The Molars

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Entertainment Reporter

(Oct. 5, 2005) If you were searching for someone to play a New Age orthodontist who advises his patients to "think about their power animal" in times of crisis, who would you cast?  Keanu Reeves? Dude — excellent!  That's what writer-director Mike Mills did with his quirky, coming-of-age comedy, Thumbsucker, opening Friday.  Not only did Reeves' presence provide the box-office clout that finally allowed this indie film to get made after nearly five years in development, but his wryly comic performance as Perry Lyman, man behind the molars, has been earning him some of the best reviews of his career.  "It's a wonderful film and I loved doing it," declared Reeves to a roundtable of journalists during the recent Toronto International Film Festival. "To go to work on something one has a feeling for, and believes in? Like, man, that's a very good day."  Reeves is legendarily one of the most difficult interviews around, a guy who'll never answer a question with two syllables when one will do, but something's a bit different this time out.  His affection for Thumbsucker is obvious, even when asked what made him sign on for a film that could only pay him a tiny fraction of his usual $15-million salary.  "The writing, the humanity, that shined right through. And I liked my character. He has some ideas about life and he comes to a place where he knows less, but knows more at the same time."  He offers just the hint of a smile. "I know more about acting now than when I started. It may not seem like it, but that's the truth."  One of the writers around the table suggests that Reeves' portrayal of Dr. Lyman as the Neo of Novocaine was a sly form of self-parody.  "You mean it wasn't just funny on its own?" sarcastically asks the man who became a superstar with the Matrix trilogy. "You're asking me if it was a history of me as an actor? I'm not saying."  No wonder. It's been a long up-and-down road for Reeves over the years. Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1964, he wound up in Toronto with his mother after his parents divorced.

Hockey claimed his interest during his teen years (his goalie nickname was "The Wall"), but he soon drifted into acting, making his professional debut in the 1984 Theatre Passe Muraille production of Brad Fraser's Wolfboy.  After some more local stage and TV, he moved to Hollywood, drawing positive attention for his serious work in films like River's Edge. But it was as stoner Ted Logan in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure that he first became a popular favourite.  But after that, his career discovered valleys. For every hit like Speed, there was a bomb like Johnny Mnemonic. And if he made it big in The Matrix, he tanked just as badly in Sweet November.  The issue of quality control in his career startles him into speaking with sudden clarity and eloquence.  "Look, I try to be selective if I can. I'm at the mercy of the things that are offered to me. I'm not one of those people who can snap their fingers and bring a picture to life. Writers have to write something, producers have to want to produce it and directors have to want to cast me in it."  He chuckles. "Someone once wanted to know if I had a career plan or if I just took it day by day. I asked, `Isn't there anything in between?'"  Still, he must be doing something right — Reeves has some interesting films on the horizon. He describes the upcoming The Lake House as "a dark romance" in which he stars opposite Sandra Bullock with a screenplay by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Proof, David Auburn.  He also worked with Richard Linklater on the futurist fable A Scanner Darkly and he's in talks to star as Johnny Stompanato opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones as Lana Turner in Adrian Lyne's retelling of the lurid 1958 Hollywood murder.  He also seems to be turning his back on some of the trashier material that smirched his reputation in past years. He's asked about the possibility of there being a Constantine 2 and he tersely ends the topic by snapping, "Not from me.

"I'm 41 years old now," he says, explaining himself. "I feel things differently. Yeah, I know it's a cliché, but this is an enriching, deepening time for me and I want to take advantage of it."  He admits that coming to the film festival brought things full cycle for him.  "The first film I ever saw here was Blood Simple, just after my 20th birthday. I wanted to be part of this business, but I didn't even know how to get in the door. I used to just love to go to as many movies as I could. That was an incredible thing for a kid to be able to do.  "Then, four years later, I was at the festival with my first film, The Prince of Pennsylvania and I was like `Wow, it's really happening for me.'  "I guess I still feel like that every time I come here."



We Remember: Actor-Comedian Nipsey Russell Dies

Excerpt from

(Oct. 4, 2005) *Nipsey Russell who used to be all over the TV through his frequent appearances on variety, talk and game shows, has died. He was 80. Russell, a veteran entertainer who performed on stage and screen, scored his first major TV role as Officer Anderson in the 1960s TV show "Car 54, Where Are You?" He also often appeared on shows such as the Dean Martin Show, the Tonight Show, Laugh-In and Fame. On the variety programs, Russell performed short poems, earning him the nickname "the poet laureate of television."  In 1985, Russell, an erudite, witty comedian, helped make TV history by becoming one of the first black game-show hosts with NBC's Your Number's Up. Alongside Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Russell played the Tin Man in the 1978 all-black movie musical The Wiz, a remake of The Wizard of Oz.  At EUR press time, no information on survivors or services had been released

Charlize Theron Gets A Star On Walk Of Fame

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Oct. 1 2005) Los Angeles -- Oscar-winner Charlize Theron's career came full circle Thursday when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame only blocks from where she was first "discovered." "I had big dreams when I came here, but this is an incredibly amazing gift. . . . Two cherries on top of the cake," Theron told a cheering crowd at the star's unveiling. Surrounded by family and friends from her native South Africa, Theron recounted how at 18 an agent found her in line at a bank on Hollywood Boulevard. Her mother had pushed the tall, beautiful star to move to Los Angeles to pursue film acting. Initially a model, and then a ballerina, the future movie star danced for New York's Joffrey Ballet before rising through the ranks in Hollywood. Theron, 30, starred in such movies as The Cider House Rules, and The Italian Job. But it was 2003's Monster that cemented her status and earned her an Oscar and Golden Globe. AP

Usher In A Role To Die For

Excerpt from - By Marie Moore

(Sept. 29, 2005) Since fall has arrived with a chill in the air in many parts of the country, there are a lot of good reasons to come in from the cold. In a reversal of roles, Usher stars as a bodyguard. Remember when Kevin Costner was hired to guard a singer’s body (Whitney Houston) in "The Bodyguard"? With “In the Mix,” which was originally called "Dying for Dolly," Usher is hired to protect a mob boss’ daughter. When Darrell (Usher), New York’s hottest DJ, saves Frank Pacelli’s life, his reward is to watch over the don’s daughter, Dolly (Emmanuelle Chriqui). As the sparks start to fly between Darrell and Dolly, the heat is on. Will Usher be pushing up roses instead of bringing them? Find out Nov. 23.

Tupac's Screenplay 'Live 2 Tell' Coming To Big Screen

Excerpt from - By Nolan Strong

(Sept. 28, 2005) A screenplay that late rapper Tupac Shakur wrote while locked away in prison is finally coming to the big screen.  Shakur penned the script for “Live 2 Tell” while incarcerated at the Clinton Correctional Facility in 1995. “Live 2 Tell” centers around the inner-city struggle of a drug kingpin who decides to leave the drug game behind. The screenplay was written during a turbulent period in the slain rapper’s life. Shakur had just been sentenced to four and a half years in prison, after a woman claimed Shakur forced himself upon her on a nightclub dance floor and later, a hotel room. Shakur was paroled when Marion “Suge” Knight posted Shakur’s $1.4 million dollar bail in exchange for recording three albums on the Death Row Records imprint. ”Live 2 Tell” was acquired by Insomnia Media Group, which will start production on the film in March of 2006. Shakur was gunned down in a hail of bullets on the Las Vegas strip in 1996 in a brazen shooting after a Mike Tyson fight. Shakur’s mother, Afeni Shakur, will serve as producer of the film. In 2003, Ms. Shakur told of her plans to bring the screenplay to the big screen. “We have every intention of putting that movie on the screen,” Ms. Shakur told “It's a story of redemption and education." Insomnia Media Group acquired the rights to the screenplay from Ms. Shakur. Casting for the film has not yet started.

Mike Myers On Drums In Keith Moon Biopic

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Oct. 3, 2005) Los Angeles -- In a piece of casting news that has set the mouths of Hollywood executives watering, Mike Myers has signed up to play the Who's legendary drummer Keith Moon. The role marks Myers's first on-camera (as opposed to voice-over) role since family hit The Cat in the Hat opened in North America in 2003. The band's front man Roger Daltrey is producing the project with Spitfire Pictures' Nigel Sinclair, with whom he has spent more than a decade developing the story. AP

Mario Gets ‘High’

Excerpt from

(Oct. 3, 2005) *Singer Mario has been cast in the film “Untitled Music High Project” for Touchstone Pictures, reports Variety.  The film follows a rebellious teen (Channing Tatum) who must do community service at a performing arts high school, then joins the cast of a show after he falls in love with a dancer (Jenna Dewan). Mario will play a student who befriends Tatum’s character. The school principal will be portrayed by “six Feet Under” Emmy-winner Rachel Griffiths. The film began production in Mario’s hometown of Baltimore on Sept. 12.

Saint Ralph, Lives of the Saints win DGC Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Oct. 4, 2005) Toronto -- It was a blessed night at the fourth-annual Directors Guild of Canada Awards on Saturday, as two saintly works took home the hardware. Michael McGowan won for outstanding achievement in direction in a feature film for his teenage-marathoner film Saint Ralph, while Jerry Ciccoritti won in the television film or miniseries category for Lives of the Saints. Ken Finkleman took home the TV series award for his work with The Newsroom, while the late Daniel Petrie Sr., director of Fort Apache, the Bronx, was posthumously honoured with the guild's lifetime achievement award. Staff

Phifer To Play Green

Excerpt from

(Oct. 4, 2005) *“E.R.” star Mekhi Phifer will direct and star in a biopic of R&B legend Al Green, reports MTV News. "I've already met with Al Green... I've always been an avid, avid fan of Al Green, his music, his legacy, and I just really wanted to portray it to the world,” said Phifer. “Al has full confidence, and he's like, 'Just do me right.' We're just creating the story that we're going to show to the public, because obviously he's still alive. So it's just finding the right story that has the most impact.” The film is expected to follow Green's rise to stardom in the 1970s and his decision to walk away from the business and become a preacher.




Sex, Love & Secrets - Canadian Content

A new drama hits our television sets on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm on the UPN network - and there's tons of Canadian content on board!  First of all, the director is David Straiton (North Shore, Cold Case, Las Vegas to name a few directorial TV credits).  Then there are two Canadian actors, Tamara Taylor (Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, CSI: Miami, Six Feet Under) who transplanted from Toronto to LA.   Also in the cast is the zany Lucas Bryant, (Queer as Folk, Odyssey 5 and The Playmakers) originally from Elmira, Ontario and now LA. 

I watched the show on Tuesday and I must say, this is an exciting new show with characters that you'll want to see again and what happens to them.  When's the last time you could say that?  UPN is committed to the airing of eight shows.  If you want to see this show continue and I think you will, PLEASE lend  your global support!   Log in to UPN HERE and scroll to the lower left to CONTACT US and then choose the show and enter your comment. 

**Set in the small, hip neighbourhood of Silver Lake, on the outskirts of Hollywood, this fresh, edgy, new drama explores the intimate and often complex relationships of a tight-knit group of friends finding out who they are and what they want in life, in the new drama SEX, LOVE & SECRETS

A musician at heart, Hank (James Stevenson), the sexy lead singer of the nouvelle-punk band 'Modern Apes,' has come to a crossroad in his personal and professional world. He is ready for some significant changes in order to make that life-long commitment to his girlfriend, Rose (Lauren German). And while she loves Hank, Rose is preoccupied with her job as a celebrity journalist and finds herself in emotional turmoil when an ex-boyfriend comes back to haunt her. Making matters worse, she is being tormented by the sexy Jolene (Denise Richards), a pushy publicist, who has her eye on Hank.

As the endearing drummer of the band, Hank's buddy Coop (Omar Benson Miller) always puts his friends first. But as the ultimate wingman, he has a hard time getting the girl. Quite the opposite for their friend Charlie (Eric Balfour), the charming playboy who uses his position as a hairdresser to woo women, but can't be tied down to just one. Rounding out the group is Nina (Tamara Taylor), a bright, ob/gyn who has been so career-driven that she has no social life to speak of. After stumbling upon an online ad, she meets the eccentric and mysterious Milo (Lucas Bryant), and uncharacteristically agrees to let him move in as her new roommate.

These twenty-somethings have become a family sharing everything, but as in any family, the need to protect each other can often compel these friends to keep secrets that sometimes do more harm than good.

Starring Denise Richards and Eric Balfour

See a video clip HERE.  **Source:



Melissa Etheridge Working On A Sitcom For ABC

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Oct. 2, 2005) NEW YORK (AP) — Melissa Etheridge says she's working on a sitcom.  The show, still in development with the ABC television network, is about "what my life might have been like had I not left to find my fame and fortune, and stayed in Kansas and became a teacher and been gay and dealt with life there," Etheridge told Time magazine.  The two-time Grammy winner says she doesn't want to rely on touring to make a living, and a television show would allow her to ``be home for dinner."  Etheridge, who for much of last year was fighting breast cancer, is releasing a greatest hits album and DVD this week.  Etheridge won a 1992 Grammy for best female rock vocal performance for Ain't It Heavy and a 1994 Grammy in the same category for Come to My Window.




Crystal Hits It Out Of The Park

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

700 Sundays

Written and performed by Billy Crystal. Directed by Des McAnuff. Until Oct. 9 at the Canon
Theatre, 244 Victoria St. 416-872-1212.

(Sep. 30, 2005) You won't find a better show in a month of Sundays.  Billy Crystal began the North American tour of his smash hit, 700 Sundays, at the Canon Theatre last night and if you're tempted by the few remaining tickets, better grab them soon.  Simply put, this is a piece of theatre that has it all: laughter as well as tears and superb entertainment in addition to considerable food for thought.  The title stems from the one day each week that Crystal got to spend with his hard-working father, Jack, before his untimely death when young Billy was only 15. If you do the math, they only had 700 Sundays together.  And although Crystal tells us this fact early in Act I, it's not until Act II that the tragic event, with all of its familial repercussions, comes to touch the evening with grief.  Until then, it's been about as raucous a good time as you can imagine. Crystal recreates the fun-loving "brisket and bourbon" atmosphere he grew up in on the Long Island of the 1950s and '60s.  His dad was a jazz promoter, so it's not surprising, for example, that the first film Billy ever saw was while he was sitting on the lap of Billie Holiday. (For the record, the film was Shane and during the final scene, Holiday assured Crystal that "he ain't ever comin' back.")  Crystal is in fine form, leaping around in those manic comic vignettes he executes so well. When sex drives him as an adolescent, his penis suddenly acquires a voice of its own — not unlike Darth Vader's. But when he has to play a titanium-hipped aunt at her daughter's lesbian wedding, the impression is equally uncanny.  Then Act II lets us know that death can come when you least expect it, striking down your father in a bowling alley just after you've had a fight with him, without the chance to say "I'm sorry" or even "goodbye".

Crystal is extremely moving in this passage, as he is later when he describes the emptiness that haunted him after his father's death as he shares the once joyous house with his grieving mother.  But the laughs eventually come back in full force (you have to see him imitate Donald Trump struggling to maintain his hairdo in a windstorm).  And there's also some searing political humour. ("In 1964, we had a president from Texas we really didn't trust and a war we really couldn't win. What's changed?")  What becomes more apparent as this seemingly casual but carefully crafted show comes to its conclusion, is that Crystal takes a ride on his celebrity and what we know about it to give us a deeper insight into the man underneath.  And, with typical generosity, he opens up the doors so that we share in his experiences.  The use of Crystal's old home movies could have been cloying, but it isn't, partly because of the skilful way they've been handled by Des McAnuff (whose invisible direction is a joy throughout) and also because, as Crystal tells us, "we have the same five relatives; they just jump from album to album."  The moral of it all rests in a story Crystal tells us about one year when his father kept working on his batting skills long past summer until he finally learned how to hit "curveballs in the snow."  700 Sundays shows that Crystal has certainly mastered the art of taking whatever life throws at him and hitting it clear out of the park.

Crystal's Family Tale Is All In The Telling

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

700 Sundays
Written and performed by Billy Crystal; Directed by Des McAnuff
At the Canon Theatre in Toronto
Rating: ***½

(Oct. 1, 2005) Quiet please, there's a man on stage who saw his first movie sitting on Billie Holiday's lap, back in 1953. A man whose family business was the legendary jazz record label Commodore, where Holiday first recorded Strange Fruit, and whose uncle was none other than producer Milton Gabler. That the same man would go on to great success in TV (Soap and Saturday Night Live, not to mention Grammy and Academy Awards telecasts) and film (When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, Analyze This, among others) matters little in this show. He's not holding court to indulge in a career retrospective -- after all, only diehard fans would want to know the behind-the-scenes details of such turkeys as Mr. Saturday Night or The Princess Bride -- but to tell a story of growing up Jewish outside New York in the 1950s and early 60s. It's a world of "jazz and Jews, brisket and bourbon" that seems too fabled to be true, but he has ample archival evidence to support it: home movies, family photos, record sleeves and newspaper clippings. The man, of course, is Billy Crystal and the heart-warming, supremely funny show he has brought to Toronto's Canon Theatre, after a record-breaking, Tony-winning run on Broadway, is 700 Sundays. It looks like a one-man show and a standup routine, but while it incorporates elements of both, 700 Sundays is as rich a dramatic story as any playwright (say, Neil Simon or Richard Greenberg) could muster. The show is as New York as a Gershwin tune, a Woody Allen movie or a baseball game, but its iconography and sentiments transcend space and time. Even if you've never set foot in Yankee Stadium or Grand Central Station, it's hard not to know what they mean to the mythology of both Crystal and New York.

The title is not as easy to figure out immediately but refers to the approximate number of Sundays Crystal spent with his father before he dropped dead of a heart attack in a bowling alley. Crystal was only 15 then and the experience of losing his father at such a young age still haunts the 57-year-old star, himself a grandfather now. The psychological repercussions are explained in therapy speak in the more sentimental and occasionally emotionally manipulative second act of this three-hour show, but by then the commanding Crystal has earned the right to take his story wherever he wants. (Which he does, ending 700 Sundays on the tear-jerking story of his mother's death a few years ago.) All the swear words, talking penises and George Bush-bashing aside, 700 Sundays is fundamentally a family show. When Crystal says his family is full of characters, he is not joking, so to speak. Here's a small sample: a grandfather who taught little Billy filthy jokes and unleashed his inner comedian; an eccentric uncle who could crack jokes at a shiva (Jewish mourning); an aunt, now living in Boca Raton, Fla., whose only daughter gets married in San Francisco to a gentile girlfriend - a "lesbyterian wedding." As he mixes past and present, it all seems to flow so naturally from Crystal's mouth (and other parts of his extremely fit body) that you almost forget this is a tightly structured piece of theatre. Director Des McAnuff has worked very hard at making 700 Sundays feel like a casual evening and even harder to avoid the performance trap of "An Audience with . . ." which many of these celebrity vehicles tend to be. Pauses, party pieces and the odd improvised line are constant but never distracting reminders of the expert theatricality of 700 Sundays. In the end, it all goes back to Crystal himself, who proves that no matter how grand a story you have, the telling is the crucial part of storytelling. He is a consummate stage performer who has learned from the greats of comedy and jazz. For a few nights in every North American city he's touring this fall, he'll be sharing his art, family history, Yiddish jokes and Blue-state leanings with a few thousand strangers. Both artist and audience are very lucky to be in each other's company. 700 Sundays continues at Toronto's Canon Theatre until Oct. 9 (416-872-1212).


We Remember: Playwright August Wilson Dies Of Liver Cancer

Excerpt from

(Oct. 3, 2005) *August Wilson, the Pulitzer prize winning playwright, died Sunday in Seattle. He was 60. Wilson was diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the liver in June and given only months to live.  In spite of that prognosis, Wilson continued working in his Seattle home on the revisions of his final play in the monumental series "Radio Golf," which opened in Los Angeles this summer and recently closed. Wilson is the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony Award and seven New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards. The Virginia Theatre on Broadway will be renamed in his honour on Oct. 17. Wilson, a Pittsburgh native and a high school dropout, won the Pulitzer for "Fences" and "Piano Lesson" and the best play Tony for "Fences." His other works included "Jitney," "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" and "Seven Guitars." It was Wilson's plays that helped the careers of actors Charles S. Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, S. Epatha Merkerson and many other black actors. Wilson was diagnosed with liver cancer in June by his doctors in Seattle. The disease proved too advanced for treatment, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which broke the story of his illness. "It's not like poker; you can't throw your hand in," Wilson told his hometown paper in August. "I've lived a blessed life. I'm ready," he said. Wilson is survived by his third wife and two daughters. At EUR deadline time, funeral services were pending.



Spacey In Spotlight

Source: Associated Press

(Oct. 5, 2005) LONDON -- Kevin Spacey launched his second season in charge of the Old Vic last night, stepping onstage in Shakespeare's Richard II. The Oscar-winning U.S. actor became artistic director of the London theatre in 2004. His first season produced solid box-office returns -- but decidedly mixed reviews. "The stakes are high for every production he's going to do there -- because of who he is, because the theatre is so high profile," said Terri Paddock of Theatregoer magazine. "And given that the first season had such a mixed reception, people are going to be looking . . . very closely." Announcing the new season last month, Spacey said the first season "was only the beginning of our commitment to deliver a challenging and entertaining program, with writers and productions never before seen on the London stage."



Oliver Jones, Znaimer win Governor-General Awards

Source: Canadian Press

(Sept. 29, 2005) Montreal — Jazz legend Oliver Jones and TV producer Moses Znaimer are among the recipients of the Governor-General's Performing Arts Awards, while singer k.d. lang has won the National Arts Centre award. The four other recipients of the 2005 performing arts awards, which are given out for lifetime artistic achievement, are acclaimed choreographer Peter Boneham, actress Jackie Burroughs, Quebec playwright Marcel Dube and singer and poet Raymond Levesque. "The artists that we are honouring today have become known thanks to their movements, their presence, their words, their rhythms and their images," newly appointed Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean said in a statement. "Their works and performances have enriched our human experience and our cultural heritage." The awards, which were announced at a ceremony in Montreal on Thursday, will be handed out in Ottawa on Nov. 4. Each recipient will receive a cash reward of $15,000 and a commemorative medallion. Lang won the National Arts Centre Award for exceptional achievement over the past performance year. Gail Asper, a community leader and a fervent arts advocate, is this year's recipient of the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts. The award is named after the former governor general who died in December 2002. Created in 1992, the Governor-General's Performing Arts Awards are administered by the GGPPA Foundation, a private not-for-profit charitable organization.


Canada Leads Fight For Culture Rights

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Graham Fraser, Toronto Star

(Oct. 4, 2005) OTTAWA—Backed by unusual unanimity from the provinces and Canada's artistic community, Canadian Heritage Minister Liza Frulla heads to Paris to push for a successful vote on the UNESCO convention on cultural diversity.  It is intended to allow sovereign countries to protect, promote or subsidize their cultural productions despite rulings by international trade tribunals.  The convention, which has been endorsed by 53 of 58 members of the United Nations cultural organization's executive, has been strongly opposed by the United States.  The U.S., which has consistently fought guarantees for films that might put restrictions on Hollywood, as well as 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.  The international agreement — formally the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions — has been the result of an international campaign waged in close collaboration by the federal government, the Quebec government, a coalition of English-speaking and French-speaking cultural groups and, more recently, Ontario and Manitoba.  "The strategy we have pursued all these years has paid off," Frulla said, describing how Canada had conducted "a well-orchestrated diplomatic offensive" to win international support for the convention.  Frulla said the cultural sector represents $35 billion in the Canadian economy, and 650,000 jobs.  She was accompanied by Ontario Culture Minister Madeleine Meilleur, Quebec Cultural Affairs Minister Line Beauchamp and Manitoba's Eric Robinson, Minister of Culture, Heritage and Tourism in a striking display of federal-provincial solidarity.

"This convention is crucial to Ontario's and Canada's cultural diversity," Meilleur said, adding Ontario's cultural sector contributes $6.6 billion to the province's economy, and employs 45,000 people. The campaign for such an international convention began in 1998, but it gained momentum when Canada was forced to back down in its attempt to protect the Canadian magazine industry.  Scott McIntyre, a Vancouver publisher who is co-chairman of the Coalition for Cultural Diversity, said that the international convention is an extraordinary achievement, but warned that the vote had not yet happened.  "We're not quite there yet. Many things can happen in an end game," he said. Coalition members predicted that the opposition would continue to the last vote.  "We have a neighbour to the south which is relentless in pursuit of its interests as it sees them," said John Thomson of Magazines Canada. "We have to be equally relentless."  Last week, Dana Gioia, a member of the U.S. delegation to UNESCO, complained that the convention defines culture in purely economic terms, and as a national characteristic.


Celebrity: Some Assembly Required

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Anne Kingston, Special To The Star

(Sep. 25, 2005)  It was a stellar week for entertainment news in Canada. So much to report: Kiefer Sutherland presented an Emmy to William Shatner. A memorial service was held for Peter Jennings, who's still identified as Canadian in this country even though he lived in the United States for years and became a U.S. citizen in 2003. Oakville's J.D. Fortune was named the new lead singer for INXS, the Australian band revitalized by the reality show Rock Star: INXS. And David Cronenberg's new movie, A History of Violence, had its Los Angeles premiere.  All of which was zealously reported by the Canadian branch plant of the celebrity-journalism complex, a division that's in expansion mode. This month, eTalk Daily, which airs on CTV, and Sun TV's Inside Jam! faced new competition with the arrival of CHUM Television's Star! Daily and Global's Entertainment Tonight Canada, an Entertainment Tonight franchise — same format, similar graphics and the same familiar theme song. Produced in Canada, the new show shares footage and archives with the 25-year-old mother ship but promises a "unique Canadian spin."  Next month, Weekly Scoop, an operating division of the Toronto Star, joins Canuck confrere Inside Entertainment on newsstands, offering what its publisher, Kathryn Swan, refers to as the "editorial pillars of celebrities, style and entertainment with a Canadian twist."  One might rightly ask at this juncture whether the very notion of "Canadian celebrity" is an oxymoron. After all, on the planet known as "celebrity," adjectival qualifications don't exist. Tom Cruise is never referred to as an "American" celebrity, nor is Penelope Cruz called a "Spanish" star. Jim Carrey may forever be mentioned as "Scarborough-born" in Canadian reportage, but he's a child of the global celebrity village now.  The notion of "celebrity" in Canada has always been a far lower-wattage production, achieved by those who remain — politicians and their scions, national newscasters and authors with international reputations. Budding actors don't make the cut, until they've received American benediction — at which point it's inevitably too late for local celebrity anyway.  But that hasn't prevented our media from being swept up in franchised celebrity mania — be it on Canadian Idol, an offshoot of American Idol, now franchised in more than 40 countries like McDonald's, or on ET Canada.

Though derivative, the boom in entertainment news also reflects a profound, long-term shift. It's the extreme — one could argue, the purest — form of "post journalism," in which news and current affairs have become as much the product of public relations and publicity as of journalistic investigation.  In July, the U.S. Audit Bureau of Circulation revealed magazines devoted to celebrity experienced the largest leaps in circulation during the past six months: InTouch was up 49.7 per cent, Us Weekly rose 23.9 per cent and Star's paid circulation rose 20.9 per cent. Meanwhile, readership of newsweeklies was flat to down.  But it remains to be seen how much celebrity news the Canadian market can sustain. Arguably, the recent influx of celebrity journalism presumes that there is an even bigger appetite for such fare north of the border in that we already receive a steady stream of it from the United States.  Purveyors of Canadian entertainment journalism claim that readers and viewers are driving the trend. "We have to do a big celebrity story every month because readers demand it," says Rita Sylvan, editor of Elle Canada. Sheryl Crow graces this month's cover, but celebrating Canadian talent is part of the magazine's mandate. Its first issue in March 2001, Sylvan notes, included a profile of Elisha Cuthbert before she became famous on 24.  Ever heedful of CRTC Canadian-content requirements, producers of entertainment-news shows say their role is to manufacture "Canadian celebrity."  "Our job is to create stars and market product made in Canada," says ET Canada executive producer Zev Shalev. Jordan Schwartz, executive producer of eTalk Daily, echoes the sentiment. "We're Canadian first. We have to stand up and wave the flag," he says. "We're always looking for the Canadian story — who's up-and-coming both here and internationally."  But is it possible to be up-and-coming both locally and internationally? The desire clearly exists to elevate Canada's stature from celebrity farm league. At the same time, pressure to present more familiar famous faces persists. According to Swan, there's a void in the market for Canadian English-language celebrity publications. She says Weekly Scoop's "focus will be on `A'-list international celebrities." Canadian celebrities will be covered, she says, provided they have the international acclaim of Mike Myers, Rachel McAdams or Kiefer Sutherland.

But the number of Canadian A-listers is limited, which leaves the shows playing the angles. On ET Canada, celebrity Cancon rears itself in segments such as "Best-dressed Canadians at the Toronto International Film Festival" and the testing of viewers' "EQ" with questions such as "Who was the first Canadian actor to win an Emmy?" (The answer: Raymond Burr.)  The emphasis remains on Canadians who, like Burr, achieved fame south of the border. America remains "the show," a point made on an ET Canada promo for an interview with Eugene Levy, who's starring in a new Hollywood movie with Samuel L. Jackson: "Thanks to his success in American Pie, Eugene's in the big league now," it trilled.  What makes the big league "big," of course, is a market approximately 10 times the size of Canada's.  "Celebrity is born out of frequency of exposure, be it the result of scandal or talent," notes Michael King, CEO and creative director of Kontent Publishing, which produces Inside Entertainment. "In the American market, exposure is so much higher. Someone out of a backwater can become a celebrity on a reality-TV show. Take the same scenario with Canadian Idol and no matter how deserving that person might be, they aren't going to be recognized walking down the street in New York."  Thus, all that these programs can hope to do is to stoke celebrity — and celebrity pride — within the Canadian marketplace and pray it radiates south. On ET Canada, young Canadian actor Melissa Elias, who appears on the Global made-in-Canada program Falcon Beach, was thrust into the spotlight when she was given a makeover and filmed attending her first Toronto film festival party. In a similar vein, eTalk Daily sent rising rhythm-and-blues singer Julie Black to cover the Emmys.

Both were shrewd moves. Given that "celebrity" has become a prefix — as in celebrity stylist, celebrity trainer or celebrity photographer — mere proximity to luminaries confers fame. Thus, George Pimentel, acclaimed as "Toronto's most famous celebrity photographer" in a recent Toronto Life profile, is now being asked for his autograph. And entertainment-news presenters like ET's Mary Hart and Ben Mulroney, who hosts both eTalk Daily and Canadian Idol, themselves are catapulted to celebrity status. A generation ago, the famous-from-birth Mulroney might have taken his law degree and entered politics. Today, covering entertainment news provides a higher public profile.  The rise of entertainment news can be traced to the very structural and economic shifts that brought the decline in old-school investigative journalism — the growth in PR and the reduction in media resources for news gathering, both in staff and funds. Increased competition between an ever more concentrated news media has also reinforced the importance of controlling access to news stories.  This argument is eloquently made by the Australian cultural critic Graeme Turner in Ending the Affair: The Decline of Television Current Affairs. Turner, a professor of cultural studies and director of the Centre for Critical Studies at the University of Queensland, traces the convergence of entertainment and journalism.  "Under the pressure of marketplace competition, journalism has increasingly opted to define itself, in effect if not always explicitly, as a form of entertainment rather than information," he writes, citing assessments that between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of newspaper content now originates in media releases from public-relations firms and government agencies.  Hence the arrival of the hybrid known as "infotainment," programming that delivers information in a way that's considered entertaining, with a focus on celebrity and human-interest stories. The entertainment-news format, in which the exclamation point is the preferred punctuation and the tone is relentlessly upbeat, provides the ideal symbiotic quid pro quo — access in return for promotion. Thus, we see Paris Hilton on the current cover of Vanity Fair, promoting the new season of her reality show, The Simple Life, as well as her own promotability.  Celebrity journalism, choreographed as it is by publicists, in turn, provides a glossy, unthreatening, ad-friendly climate in which the line between advertising and content virtually vanishes. On one page, Halle Berry advertises mascara for Revlon; a few pages later, she is photographed at an awards show with a gushing account of what's she's wearing. Which one is more the advertisement is up for debate.

The resulting vertigo can have a narcotic effect, a fact purveyors of celebrity news acknowledge. Weekly Scoop's Swan refers to celebrity-news magazines as providing escape, "a break from the busy hectic lives and stress of their predominantly female audience." Elle Canada's Sylvan likens celebrity fixation to soma, the pleasure drug in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, described as possessing "all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects."  The product is tailored to whet consumer impulse, be it for a movie, a TV show, a CD or celebrity-anointed jeans. ET Canada recently devoted a segment to expensive baby gear — $1,150 bugaboo strollers, $220 teddy bears and the like — taking the viewer inside a Toronto children's clothing store where famous mothers like Courtney Cox drop hundreds of dollars. Weekly Scoop, too, plans to cover style and beauty from "a celebrity perspective," says Swan, showcasing products available in Canada in a style section titled "Scoop this Look."  Advertising itself becomes the subject of news coverage, as it did when Entertainment Tonight reported on Sarah Jessica Parker filming her Gap ad campaign. When the stakes are high enough, marketing is elevated to art. Consider the commotion surrounding Nicole Kidman's four-minute commercial for Chanel No. 5, directed by Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann. Martin Scorsese's moody, meditative television ad for American Express, which expressed a love for New York City, received widespread media attention that benefited both Scorsese and American Express.  The corollary, of course, is that non-commercial art becomes subordinate to those who create it, a fact apparent in the recent coverage of the Toronto film festival, which focused on celebrity-spotting rather than cinematic content.  Creation of "cultural product," as witnessed in the assembly-line churning out of new Idols around the world, also springs from an economic imperative. Specifically, the trend to downloading music has forced the music industry to recast singers as "entertainment" stars. It's no longer enough to record music; one must be able to move between television, music and other cultural venues.

Multimedia flexibility allows such performers to grease the wheels of convergence at a time of increasing media-entertainment concentration. Cross-ownership is rife. To cite two examples, BellGlobe Media owns CTV, home of eTalk Daily and American Idol, as well as The Globe and Mail newspaper; CanWest Communications counts among its assets newspapers across the country, including National Post, which distributes Inside Entertainment, and Global Television, which airs ET and ET Canada.  Entertainment-news producers avow they can't afford to alienate audiences by ignoring other networks' programming. But there's little question infotainment provides a cross-promotional conduit, particularly when access is exclusive.  Last week, eTalk Daily devoted a segment to the CTV program Corner Gas, noting that Ben Mulroney would appear on a future episode. Last season, it had an "exclusive" on-set visit with the CTV-aired West Wing when the show was filmed in Ontario. Similarly, in its Emmy coverage, ET Canada gave Shatner, the star of Global's Boston Legal, a lengthy interview in which he mentioned a time change for the program.  That show also broke last week's biggest Canadian entertainment news — that reality-TV guru Mark Burnett is contemplating a Canadian franchise for his Global-aired Survivor series. What a coup — and what an opportunity to spawn a new slate of Canadian "celebrities" ready to be consumed by the very machine that created them.  Columnist Anne Kingston is the author of "The Meaning of Wife."


As Good As It Gets

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Michael Posner

(Oct. 3, 2005) Its official title is Town House, but in Hollywood they're already calling Tish Cohen's novel About a Girl. In Hollywood, of course, everything can be reduced to concept and pitch -- what's the fewest number of words you can use to describe a film? Ideally, you should be able to describe it in a way that instantly connects it to another film already made. Preferably, a successful film. About a Boy was a Hugh Grant vehicle, based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name. It did $127-million (U.S.) at the box office, which is nothing at which to sneeze. About a Boy is about Will, a thirtysomething womanizer living in London with too much money (he lives off his late father's music royalties) and no ambition. A charming cad, if you will. He meets a single mother with a 12-year-old son, Marcus, who gradually worms his way into Will's frozen heart. Town House, Torontonian Cohen's first novel, is about a teenage girl (think Dakota Fanning) who gradually worms her way into the life and frozen heart of her next-door neighbour, Jack Madigan (think John Cusack), a thirtysomething Bostonian who is the sole heir of his late father's rock-music royalties. How hot is that? Well, hot enough that Fox Studios optioned the book even before Cohen's New York agent, Daniel Lazar (no relation to the legendary Swifty), had found a publisher. Director Ridley Scott's company has already been assigned to produce. Then, the option in hand -- Fox's offer reportedly blew away several competing bids -- Lazar held a best-bid auction for publishers last Thursday. The winner was Harper Collins, a division of Rupert Murdoch's Fox empire. The business types would no doubt call that synergy. No numbers were reported, but Lazar said it was "a nice amount of money for a first novel."

Cohen herself said she was "thrilled" by the results. "I'm thrilled with Harper Collins. They really get the book and want to put effort into promoting it. And I'm very happy with the number." To be fair, Cohen's novel is not precisely Hornby's plot transplanted to North America. Her hero, already divorced and living with Harlan, his teenage son, suffers from an acute case of agoraphobia. He hasn't left his lovely townhouse in years. The royalties are in decline, the bank is threatening foreclosure, and his ex-wife wants custody of the son. Jack's challenge: "Outwit the bank's adorably determined real-estate agent, win back his house, hold the neighbours at bay, keep his son at home -- and perhaps find a way, finally, to simply step outside." Cohen, 40, says the book is about "the comedic complexities of being human." Flattered to be compared in the same breath to Nick Hornby, she has managed to do what many people only dream and talk about: Use her available spare time (she's married with two young boys and lives in suburban Richmond Hill, north of Toronto) to write a book that a) would get published and b) might pique the interest of a Hollywood studio. In an interview this week, she said she had the idea for the book in her head and wrote the entire first draft in 3½ weeks last January, working from the moment she dropped her kids off at school in the morning until they came home, and again in the evenings. When it was done, she sent the manuscript to various agents, seeking representation. She would have been content, she said, to have found a Canadian agent, but no one was interested. But Daniel Lazar, an agent with Writer's House in New York (it also represents Ken Follett, V. C. Andrews, Nora Roberts and a couple of other scribes who have sold a few books), thought Cohen's work had merit. He had it sent both to publishers and scouts -- readers for studio executives. The latter quickly spotted its movie potential. Town House was not, technically, her first novel. She had produced an earlier one that she said is still being worked on.

In the meantime, she's well embarked on her third, Crossing Newbury, about a group of people in the art world who move from chaos to clarity. Born and raised in Toronto and Los Angeles, Cohen is the niece of Paul Sills, an actor, improv artist and teacher who was part of Chicago's Second City troupe for many years. (In fact, the company was largely founded by Sills's mother, Viola Spolin.) Cohen studied business at Ryerson University, but soon found herself doing contract editing work. "I always loved writing," she says, "but until about three years ago I did not have the confidence to attempt it. But when I started to write, I knew immediately that I could do it. Even if the work was rejected, I still knew this was for me." But not, it now appears, only for her.


Homegrown Scoop Targets Celebs In Canada

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Antonia Zerbisias

(Oct. 3, 2005) Just when you were thinking grocery checkouts would collapse under the weight of Jessica Simpson's boobs, Jessica Alba's butt and Jennifer Aniston's broken heart, along comes Weekly Scoop to pour maple syrup over all this celebrity trash.  But will it serve up enough dish about Britney, Bennifer and Brangelina to stick around?  Launching today, the celebrity glossy, published by Torstar which owns the Star, is the first-ever English-language Canadian glossy celebrity weekly. However, unlike its long-established hebdo counterparts in Quebec, it will focus mainly on Hollywood and international stars, rather than local personalities.  Which is good business but bad culture. One reason Quebec movies and TV shows do better than English-language Cancon is because there's star-making machinery at play down the 401.  Here? Not so much.  Weekly Scoop's Canadian content comes from A-list celeb sightings in the Great White North where the stars shoot movies, attend film fests, ski at Whistler, cottage in the Muskokas or Laurentians or just hang.  There's plenty of material, at the end of a summer that saw Canada finally recover from the SARS crisis that had previously sent Hollywood North south.  Thanks also to the Toronto International Film Festival, which just wrapped up, Scoop had no trouble filling its first issue with glitterati captured on the streets of Toronto and Vancouver.  As for Canadian stars, unless they're internationally known like Rachel McAdams, they don't stand much of a chance.

So this week there's a story on new Canadian Idol Melissa O'Neil and a picture of Cheryl Hickey of Global's Entertainment Canada, and pages on the latest movies from David Cronenberg (A History of Violence) and Atom Egoyan (Where The Truth Lies). There's not much more.  From the cover, the only way to tell Scoop is Canadian is by the giant headline about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's current stay in Edmonton. It teases "Wedding Bells in Alberta? Or is Brad just the babysitter?" (Okay, if you must know: Brad looks "glum" while Angelina is partying up a storm. It would appear that Jolie used her kids as "emotional flypaper" to lure Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston.) An American magazine would never mention Alberta on its front.  The other tell-tale Canadian sign is the cover price: There's only one. It's an introductory deal of $1.99, marked down from $3.79, well below U.S.-based Star or People, which charge $4.79.  "The cover is critical: It has to intrigue them and catch their eye at the checkout," says publisher Kathryn Swan, whose 20-year career in magazines was most recently capped at Rogers' MoneySense.  The cover is so important because celeb magazines rely on newsstand sales, not subscriptions. There's a high ratio of editorial content to ads in all these books. This week's Scoop has only nine pages of ads.  "I would say we're pretty much on target," Swan says.  The rest of the debut issue is composed of 91 pages of celebrity style, gossip and partying, with pointers to where stars wine, dine, shop and stay while here. If readers want to "scoop their look" the fashion pages reveal where the products are available north of the border.  As a magazine junkie frustrated by not being able to find the goods in Toronto 'hoods, I have to welcome that.  "It builds a closer connection with the readers," says Swan, adding that research shows 88 per cent of us would opt for a Canadian magazine over a U.S. offering, if given the choice.  Which is why Swan is confident that Scoop can scoop out a place in the crowded celeb mag market, the fastest growing segment in the trade. That while sales of newsweeklies, business periodicals and men's mags have flattened out or dropped.  "There has been a 15 per cent year over year increase in (celebrity magazine) sales," says Swan.

According to U.S. Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for the first half of 2005, Time Inc.'s long established People was up 1.3 per cent to 3.8 million, with 183,000 selling in Canada. Bauer Publishing's three year-old In Touch grew 49.7 per cent to 1.12 million, with some 99,000 reaching Canadians. Wenner Media's Us Weekly's total numbers rose 23.9 per cent to 1.67 million, while enjoying a circulation of 74,000 in Canada. Meanwhile American Media Inc.'s racier Star saw total circulation jump 20.9 per cent to 1.42 million, with 120,000 of those selling here.  Those numbers don't count the very high "pass-along'' rate that these mags enjoy, as any trip to the health club or hairstylist will reveal.  The market is so juicy that even England's OK! magazine jumped in last month to squeeze out some of the action, with publisher Richard Desmond boasting that he'll kill the competition. (Word is, he's committing suicide with his overly genteel material.)  Swan, for her part, has an initial print run of 100,000, and a circulation target of 65,000, which may not be all that ambitious considering she's landed more than 13,000 "pockets'' — where magazines essentially rent prime checkout display.  That means retailers think it's going to move.  As for Scoop's target audience, it's a demographic of heavy celeb mag readers, mostly women aged 18-49. That older group would explain Scoop's relatively polite tone, not as bitchy as other mags in its category.  Now the question is, can Scoop stand out among all the other stalkerazzi rags? Swan says she has a million dollar ad campaign in the works to raise awareness of Weekly Scoop.  She's going to need it.  Late last week I lined it up alongside People, Star, In Touch, Us, OK!, the National Enquirer and even the newly redesigned celeb-oriented TV Guide, now dubbed Inside TV, and it was virtually indistinguishable, except perhaps for the curl in Jolie's pillowy lips.  That's both bad — and good.  Bad because it has to differentiate itself in order to build an audience in a market where the U.S. competition is essentially dumped after recouping its costs in its home market.  Good because, although Weekly Scoop doesn't have the economic edge of the dumped competition, it's still the same kind of celebrity trash.  For more Zerbisias go to


The Outrages Fester Inside The Jester

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Malene Arpe

(Oct. 2, 2005) The voice of reason is tempered.  Comedian Bill Maher doesn't hector. He calmly explains that, "George Bush won the election based on stopping boys from kissing."  Then the conversation gets around to religion.  When asked what he thinks about the London Tate Museum's recent decision to remove John Latham's creation "God is Great" for fear it might offend Muslims, the comedian offers that it may be a good idea because, "we know how they get when they're upset." But it's not a cheap punch line; it's merely a way into one of his favourite subjects.  "It reminds me of the story earlier this year when people did die in Pakistan because somebody had flushed the Koran down the toilet and we had a giant brouhaha in America about it, and some people were blaming Newsweek magazine and Newsweek went all mea culpa about it, and others were blaming whoever flushed the Koran down the toilet," he says.  "And I said, you're all crazy! The elephant in the room is religion. The idea that people would die because a book got wet. It's a book! It got wet! That's not reason to kill people; that's what we have to get to or the world is not going to progress from being run by superstition and silly thinking. But, of course, who's listening to me ..."  Some of us would like to listen, but unfortunately Maher's new show Real Time with Bill Maher is not available here.  Sharper and funnier than now-dead Politically Incorrect, the weekly show has not been picked up in HBO-less Canada. However, transcripts are available at and Maher himself could come to Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel to promote the (read-in-less-than-two-hours) book New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer. It contains his no-holds-barred thoughts on and rules for everything from strippers (whom he likes) through George Bush (whom he doesn't like) to Brazilian waxes (nope) and gay marriage (yep).

"New Rules" is a popular segment on the show and translates perfectly to subway/bathroom reading material. The book's new rule about hurricanes? Name them something scary, like "Ludacris," and people will get out of the way. The book was written before the recent calamities, so what about Katrina?  "Katrina? Katrina is a stripper name. They may as well have named it Jade or Onyx."  It's this kind of unsentimental observation that makes Maher — who's sitting down for an interview at the Four Seasons before jetting back to L.A. after a stand-up gig in Hamilton — a reliable BS detector.  Hot topic of the week? British model Kate Moss and her blow habit:  "You're firing a supermodel for doing cocaine at a party? I thought that's what a supermodel's job was ... I've never been a fan of cocaine. All it seems to make you do is want more cocaine. If you want to be edgy and nervous, go to work. But I'm also very libertarian about it and I think all drugs should be legal."  On a recent show, Maher tackled topics ranging from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts — whom Maher is sure is gay because an old photo shows him posing rather flamboyantly with a platter of food, — to the morning-after pill and trying (in vain) to get conservative guest P.J. O'Rourke to come out and say whether he's for or against it. But, it's not all serious subjects given a comedic spin; it's also just weird observations.  On the "New Rules" segment, Maher had this to say about fortune cookies:  "New Rule: The fortunes in fortune cookies have to be fortunes. `You surround yourself with good friends' is not a prediction. It's a compliment. Quit kissing my ass, cookie! If I'm going to sit through a plate of MSG-laden, twice-cooked kitty-cat I want a real fortune like, `That meal you just ate is going to give you cancer.'"  Why are fortune cookies, mostly so, um, unfortunate, I ask.

"My theory about that is we live in the most litigious society ever; perhaps somebody sued. I know it sounds ridiculous, but maybe somebody sued because a fortune cookie said `it's a good day to invest in stocks.' I mean if you can sue McDonald's for the burning coffee ..."  But back to God and the folly of man.  "We live in very troubled times and we need to think our way out of them; we cannot `faith' our way out of them. In America we hear nothing but `faith.' Every politician has faith, `I'm a person of faith,' `we are people of faith.' They say it like everyone else should just back off and admire it. Faith to me means the suspension of rational thinking. This is not a virtue.  "I do what I can. I scream and yell about religion and how silly it is, but I don't think I've ever changed anybody's mind about it. But there are more irreligious people than ever. In America we always hear about the fact that it's becoming more theocratic, and that certainly is true.  "What is less widely reported is that between the 1990 census and most recent census the number of people who describe themselves as having no religion doubled, from 7 per cent to 14 per cent. That I would describe as gospel. Because gospel means good news."



New California Law Targets Paparazzi

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Oct. 2, 2005) SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — Paparazzi who commit assault in their pursuit of celebrity photographs could be hit with hefty civil penalties in California under a new law.  The law would allow people who are victims of paparazzi assaults to file lawsuits seeking up to three times the damages they suffered. The plaintiffs could also ask for punitive damages and a court order requiring the photographer to give up any income earned from the pictures involved.  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill Friday. It goes into effect Jan. 1.  Several celebrities have been involved in accidents while being pursued by photographers. In May, actress Lindsay Lohan received cuts and bruises after a photographer rammed his van into her car. The photographer faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon.  "This bill hits the paparazzi where it hurts: the wallet," said assemblywoman Cindy Montanez who proposed the measure.  "Money is their motivation, so taking away their money will be the solution."  She said the bill would protect Hollywood stars as well as bystanders who might be injured in chases involving paparazzi.  Actress Scarlett Johansson had a minor crash in August while being followed by paparazzi, and Reese Witherspoon said she was chased by photographers who she believed were trying to force her from the road in April. No charges or injuries resulted from either case.  Schwarzenegger was involved in an incident in 1998 involving paparazzi who used their cars to surround the then-actor's vehicle as he and his wife picked up their child from school.




Garnett Goes High Tech

Excerpt from

(Oct. 4, 2005) *Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett has announced the official opening of the first Kevin Garnett 4XL Tech Center at Washburn High, a Minneapolis public school serving 1,300 students.  A partnership with Best Buy, local nonprofit Achieve!Minneapolis and the NBA, the state-of-the-art learning center is stocked with state-of the-art computers with high-speed Internet access and leading-edge software. Students using the center will join Garnett's Web-based 4XL program, which provides high school and college students with career-relevant skills and guidance to augment the traditional classroom setting. "The 4XL program provides the online roadmap that all kids need to achieve their goals," Garnett said. "It is critical that we give them the best technology to help create a top-quality learning environment in their schools." 4XL delivers its skills development and career guidance curriculum to students via personalized e-mail; gives students access to online mentors, scholarship and internship opportunities, and college search tools all provided by online job search company Monster; and offers business immersions that exposes students to professional environments. Best Buy will provide ongoing technical support for the center through its Geek Squad service. Achieve Minneapolis will provide college and career counsellors for Washburn students using the center.



7 Simple Steps To Weight Loss

(Oct. 3, 2005) Weight loss, or more specifically, weight management, demands a multi-faceted approach. From eating only at scheduled times (versus overeating when stressed) to using a favourite treat as an incentive, latest research suggests losing weight can sometimes be more psychological than physical.



Motivational Note: Expectancy

In order to be a success, you need to cultivate a positive mental attitude. Every day you need to develop a positive outlook and a positive expectancy .A positive outlook is to look for the good situations rather than the bad.