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Updated:  September 22, 2005

The summer temperatures are still hanging on - thank goodness! Let's not forget those though that are experiencing more of nature's wrath.  This week brings us a new Thursday night hosted by Canada's top model, Trent - check him, I meant it, out ladies!  Also, please note that the previously scheduled Jazz by Genre has been rescheduled to November  - stay tuned to for updates. 

Stay tuned for next week's newsletter which will announce the nominees for the 7th Annual Canadian Urban Music Awards ! The CUMAs are a celebration of the best in Canada's urban music industry and provide the industry with the opportunity to recognize the artists and behind-the-scenes personnel who drive the urban music scene in Canada. Following the announcement of nominees, UMAC will open the online voting to its members from Wednesday, September 28, 2005 until Friday, October 28, 2005.

This week there's a lot of Canadian news is all categories so check it out - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll!  This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTS






Ladies Night at Hotel Lounge - Thursdays

Every Thursday night Hotel Boutique Lounge invite you to “Ladies Night” Hosted by: Trent, Canada’s top male model (  Hotel Boutique Lounge is an intimate night club, where you can party in style with Toronto’s most stunning ladies and classy men. Thursdays cater to women!  Ladies are free all night long, and there are free drink tickets, product gift bags, long stem red roes, and much more as giveaways.  Come and check out the newest Thursday night in Toronto!

Ladies Night Thursdays
Hosted by Trent
Hotel Boutique Lounge
77 Peter Street, Main Floor







Motivational Note: Attitude Is Everything

By Willie Jolley, Host of the “Willie Jolley Motivational Minute”

There are billions of people in the world and one thing that everybody has an attitude. Some might have arms, legs, eyes, ears, and some may not, but everyone has attitude. The good news is that you do not have to buy it, it's free!  But if you want an attitude that works for you, that improves your quality of life and enables you to accomplish your dreams, then you have to work for it, work on it, and work at it. It is not something you can sit around and wait for. To get a positive attitude you must make a decision. You must realize that you may not be able to control the things, which happen around you, or things, which happen to you, but you can control the things that happen to " in you." Attitude is everything! Make the decision to have a good attitude, positive, and productive attitude, everyday. Remember, it’s up to you! Join Willie Jolley in Washington DC on September 30th and October 1st for the return of his exciting new One Man Show ... “Transform Your Future! " A Broadway Caliber Musical/Motivational Show! "This show will Change Your Life…It is destined for Broadway and BEYOND!” Read the reviews HERE   Visit  for more information!







Kirk Franklin's Hero

Kirk Franklin is a true original, the most successful Gospel tour of all time, Kirk Franklin is back with perhaps the most masterful, inspired offering of his career aptly titled Hero.

Already hailed as the most anticipated gospel release for 2005, Hero is a bold and courageous display of an artistic genius at his best.  Kirk delicately experiments with samples of nostalgic R&B classics blended with his famous signature style in the track “Looking For You”. The most impressive feat resides in Kirk’s core music skill – his ability to weave powerful and profound lyrics with cutting edge musical styles. Special guests on the new CD include Yolanda Adams, Smokie Norful, Fantasia, Sheila E, TobyMac, Sonny (P.O.D) and others.







Canadian Wins Race To Front INXS

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon, TV Critic

(Sep. 21, 2005) Canada's J.D. Fortune is the new lead singer of INXS.  The former Elvis impersonator, who recently was living out of his car in Toronto, earned one of reality TV's most glittering prizes last night when the Australian band picked him as their frontman.  Nova Scotia product Fortune, 32, went into the finale against Chicago's Marty Casey and Sydney-raised MiG Ayesa.  The trio kicked off a spirited show with British rock classics — MiG belted out Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody;" Marty sang one of the band's sentimental favourites, Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here;" and J.D. got the crowd into a frenzy with the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want."  But, at the midway point, a heartbroken MiG was eliminated. That left Marty versus J.D. in a final showdown.  Their battle would have a twist: Instead of performing with the house band, they would join INXS on stage during a set with laser pyrotechnics.  Marty sang the band's "Don't Change." J.D. went with the hit "What You Need."  With the crowd in near hysterics, INXS's Tim Farriss delivered the final verdict just before 11 p.m.  After praising both singers, he said: "J.D. You are right for our band, INXS. You are the Rock Star!"  Chaos erupted inside the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles.  An overwhelmed J.D. collapsed on the stage. He stood up, tears in his eyes, pointing at his new band.  The show ended with J.D. performing "Easy Easy."  A CD will hit stores in November and INXS will embark on a world tour in January.  As Farriss told the final two before J.D.'s victory, "As much as it means to you, it means so much more to us. Because tonight, we become a complete band again."  The contest to fill the INXS frontman spot began three months ago when the three finalists and 12 other contestants moved into a Los Angeles mansion to begin the long process of auditions. 

J.D. Has The Devil Inside

Source:  Canadian Press

(Sept. 20, 2005) Los Angeles — Canadian J.D. Fortune's hopes for fame and fortune as the lead singer for INXS were realized Tuesday night on Rock Star: INXS. In the weeks and months to come, the Toronto musician will front a world tour with the band and sing on their new album. Shortly after a rousing rendition of You Can't Always Get What You Want, Fortune was chosen in a glitzy finale to the popular show to replace Michael Hutchence, who hanged himself in a hotel room in 1997.  Fortune said being on the show, which began 11 weeks ago with 15 unsigned rockers vying for one spot, had changed him. “What I've put into this experience, I've gotten back,” he said. “I never would have been able to be in this band if I was the guy who walked through those doors three months ago.” Three contestants were left heading into the finale of the televised singing competition — Fortune, as well as Chicago musician Marty Casey and Mig Ayesa, a London stage performer who was raised in Australia. In previous weeks, three other Canadians had been eliminated — Suzie McNeil and Tara Sloane of Toronto and Deanna Johnston, originally from Kingston, Ont. Throughout the course of the contest, which Fortune has described as “insanely gruelling,” he became more focused as he paraded his talents before a screaming audience, Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist Dave Navarro and the band, made up of Garry Beers, Kirk Pengilly and brothers Andrew, Tim and Jon Farriss.  A song that he wrote to impress the band, Pretty Vegas, was a hit with the audience and the band, and even got some radio play.  “I'm just literally grateful to have come this far in the contest,” he said before the outcome was known. Fortune, 32, was born in Mississauga, Ont., but moved to Pictou County in Nova Scotia when he was five after his parents divorced. He lived in Nova Scotia until his mid-teens before moving back to Ontario. For the last few years, he's lived in Toronto and travelled with bands. After gaining this worldwide television exposure, he's in a far better situation now career-wise than he was before being selected for the INXS competition, when he was practically living in his car. “I made some wrong decisions and I was couch-hopping as much as I could, and you don't want to impose upon your friends if you want to keep them friends, you know,” he told The Canadian Press in an interview last Friday. “So I was spending a few nights at one friend's, a few nights at another, and then it ended up it was more convenient for me to have a snooze in my car at night.”  In the daytime, he was trying to get a demo together and doing some singing on the side — sometimes at the subway.




Bono Pulls Menew Onstage At ACC Hamilton Group `Still In Shock'

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jeff Mahoney, Special To The Star (Hamilton Spectator)

(Sep. 21, 2005) HAMILTON—Local rock band Menew has had some pretty good gigs over the years, but they've never performed with the likes of U2.  Yet that's exactly what happened last Friday when they went to see the Irish supergroup at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.  Waving a sign saying: "Our band + U2 = Happy Crowd," they caught the attention of lead singer Bono, who pulled Menew (pronounced menu) onstage.  "We're still in a kind of shock," said drummer Nathan Samuel Phillip. "I was playing Larry Mullen Jr.'s drums. He handed me his sticks and stood behind me. It was like a dream."  The drums were more tightly set up around him than he's used to, but, he says: "I adjusted."  Menew is rounded out by Shade, on vocals and guitar, and Key on keyboards (the trio, who grew up in Rockton, Ont., insist on going only by their stage names).  Shade says Bono handed him his guitar, a Gretsch, and traded verses with him on vocals.  "It (the guitar) was strapped kind of high," said Shade, who at about 6-foot-3 is considerably taller than Bono. "But it was beautiful to play."  Key, 24, says that when Bono came into the audience to greet them, they were all yelling at each other to be heard over the music, but understood they'd be performing "Out of Control," from U2's first album, Boy.  "It's the first time we ever did a cover song," says Phillip. "It helped that we knew the song. 

"In between verses, Edge and Shade were jamming with (drummer) Nate, and Shade was singing into Edge's microphone. We were all laughing and having a good time."  "The crowd loved it," said Key.  "They were going nuts. They were really impressed and cheering us on. When you have that, you feel comfortable," he said adding it's "agony" when even a small crowd is unresponsive.  Shade says the size of the crowd wasn't really a factor. They were playing more for the band than the audience. This was their chance to impress U2. And they think they succeeded.  "We went to the concert with the sign, with that intention," says Nate.  "We've done that before. We make something our goal and then we do it."  In 2004, they staged an impromptu concert on a 15-metre rented flatbed truck in front of the Sony offices in Toronto.  Recently, they issued an EP of five songs, produced by Rich Parashar of Seattle who has done albums for Bon Jovi and Pearl Jam.  The music is an overlay of guitar and synthesizer and other influences of British art rock.  Signing on with a big label is the band's next step, says Nate.  Pictures of Menew with U2 can be found on the band's website,




The Katrina Files

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Raju Mudhar, Toronto Star

(Sep. 17, 2005) After the destruction of New Orleans, a city so rich in musical history, it seems only fitting that the loudest voices of anger, sympathy and hope are coming from musicians.  Since the birthplace of jazz was levelled by Hurricane Katrina two weeks ago, artists from all genres have begun to mount benefit concerts across the continent and are lending vocal support to an urgent cause.  The hip-hop community in particular has been busy recording fresh tracks, raising money or simply awareness, trying to make sense of the perfect storm of devastation and incompetence.  The crystallizing moment was Kanye West's outburst on live television, bluntly announcing that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." His words have already become the basis for at least one independent song, distributed on the Internet.  Even Michael Jackson, perhaps smelling a perfect opportunity to re-polish his image, is promising a charity single, "From the Bottom of My Heart," with possible help from a wish list of performers, including James Brown, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz, R. Kelly, Snoop Dogg and Ciara.  Tireless soul star Prince beat Jackson to it, releasing three new tracks exclusively on his website, with all proceeds going to Katrina relief.  There are also sites such as, which now has a devoted section where musicians have agreed to donate all proceeds to the Red Cross disaster relief fund.  There's more. Rap impresario Russell Simmons is working on an entire album called The Hip Hop Summit Action Network Presents: Forces of Nature. He told that he expects to have Mariah Carey and Sean "Diddy" Combs, among others, providing tracks.  There's also word that Denise Rich, the socialite/songwriter, has been working on a pop ballad called "We are One" that was originally planned for tsunami relief but will also apply to those affected by Hurricane Katrina.  Already, there is at least an album-full of songs floating around the Internet.  Here is a short list of some of the tracks making the web rounds — feel free to build your own Katrina mix — along with our very subjective star rating out of four.

"Dollar Day for New Orleans ... Katrina Klap" by Mos Def


If there was any question of who is the reigning king of socially conscious hip-hop, this track seals the deal. Singing/rapping over the "Nolia Clap" beat (originally recorded by Juvenile of New Orleans), Def displays equal parts empathy and anger, taking venomous shots at Bush and U2's Bono. You can even hear his voice get hoarse as the song progresses. This is miles better and more real than most tribute songs, which resort to sap sentiment. It deserves to be heard. Def is trying to get people to donate at least a dollar each to Hurricane relief. (

"NO LA, Ain't Right Tonight" by Mocean Worker


The jazzy DJ sounds more vital on this one track than on his entire last album. Splicing bits of Aretha Franklin's "Respect" with the infamous interview from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, it's a powerful mix of spoken-word samples and soulful beats. (

"Dry Drunk Emperor" by TV on the Radio


The Brooklyn-based indie-rock darlings cut this track shortly after the news hit and released it free online. It fits into the group's alt-rock barbershop style, although it runs a bit too long. (

"Mother Nature" By Papoose & Razah


Papoose is currently the mix-tape honey of New York City — so much so that the radio stations are blaring his music all they can. There's a sample of the Five Stairsteps' "Ooh Child" here while the duo rap about the disaster victims. (

"George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" by K-Otix


Kanye West's Top 40 track "Gold Digger" is brilliantly overlapped by samples of Kanye's own Bush-directed outburst, while the Houston-based rappers viciously attack the president and the lack of response to the tragedy. (

"After the Math"


This simple, folksy ballad was produced by N.T. Bullock of McComb, Miss. The song is plaintive and beautiful. Adding to its power is the video, a montage of black and white photos of the city during and after the disaster. Incredibly moving. (

"SST" and "Brand New Orleans" by Prince


Download these for a fee, and The Purple One gives all proceeds to hurricane relief. "SST" is a simple piano-based ballad, while "Brand New Orleans" is a funk jam that attempts to capture the feeling of the city. There's also "U Will Be Moved," which has been re-recorded by Mavis Staples. (

"Hell No, We Ain't Alright" by Public Enemy


Chuck D once proclaimed rap the CNN of black America, and the former Public Enemy MC is still spitting venom in this new track: "There's all these press conferences, breaking news alerts, this just in, while your government's looking for a war to win." Flavor Flav ends the track with a pledge of supplies to come. (

"Blue Monday" by Skillbill


This sing-song rap is politically charged but still manages a soulful vibe, somehow remaining hopeful. Sample lyric: "Katrina got my country looking like a foreign land ... Republican or Democrat for real, Where the love at?/That's an epiphany and love is the strategy." (

"Breakdown FM Kanye — Katrina Mix" by Davey D.


"You have to realize that every move you make in this country is political" is the message of this 13-minute-plus mix from DJ Davey D. It features news clips and other commentators over varying beats. (

"Gulf Coast 5:45"


This crew of Dallas rappers includes Christy B, O'Neal, TopCat, Mack Larry and D-Texas. It starts off with a sweet-voiced soul singer, then rides a looping beat beneath heartfelt lyrics. And again with the "Ooh child." "New Orleans, can you hear me?/Keep your head up 'cause you made it through the storm." ( 




West Mines More No. 1s With 'Gold Digger'

Excerpt from - By Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

(Sept. 15, 2005) There's just no stopping Kanye West, who adds another pair of No. 1s to his growing list of accomplishments this week. As "Gold Digger" featuring Jamie Foxx begins its second week on top of The Billboard Hot 100, the cut ascends to the top of the Pop 100 and the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts, making a 2-1 move on each.  The title is also No. 1 for a second week on the Hot Digital Songs and Hot Ringtones lists. "Gold Digger" is only denied the crown on the Hot Rap Tracks chart, where it sits at No. 2 behind Bow Wow's "Like You" featuring Ciara.   As reported yesterday, West's sophomore album, "Late Registration" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) is No. 1 for a second week on The Billboard 200. A fall tour with Common, Fantasia and Keyshia Cole will open Oct. 11 in Miami.  Still vying for the Hot 100 throne, though, is Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off," which is holds steady at No. 2 for a third week, while her former No. 1, "We Belong Together," rebounds 4-3. On the Pop 100, "Shake" is up one to No. 3, while "Together" drops 6-8.   Bow Wow's "Like You" jumps 6-4 on the Hot 100, falls 1-2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (but retains its bullet, signifying continued airplay and/or sales growth) and gains 29-25 on the Pop 100.   Three cuts advance into the top 10 of the Hot 100 this week, led by the 16-7 leap of Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps." 50 Cent's "Outta Control (Remix)" featuring Mobb Deep take an even bigger jump, soaring 25-9, while Green Day's "Wake Me When September Ends" inches in with an 11-10 move.  The Hot 100's top debut is Ashlee Simpson's "Boyfriend," which begins its relationship with the chart at No. 71. The cut is the lead single from the artist's sophomore album, "I Am Me," due Oct. 18 via Geffen. She'll open a brief U.S. tour Wednesday (Sept. 21) in Portland, Ore. 

Also new to the Hot 100 are Rascal Flatts' "Skin (Sarabeth)" (No. 86), Marcos Hernandez's "If You Were Mine" (No. 89), Dem Franchize Boyz' "I Think They Like Me" featuring Jermaine Dupri, Young Buck and Bow Wow (No. 90), Three 6 Mafia's "Stay Fly" featuring Young Buck, Eight Ball and MG (No. 91), Lonestar's "You're Like Comin' Home" (No. 92), Dierks Bentley's "Come a Little Closer" (No. 98) and Lil' Kim's "Lighters Up" (No. 100).  On the Hot Country Songs chart, Sara Evans' "A Real Fine Place To Start" advances from No. 2 to take over the lead as Brooks & Dunn's "Play Something Country" falls to No. 5 after just one week on top.   The leaders are staying put on Billboard's rock, adult contemporary and Latin song charts. Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc." is tops for a fifth week on the Modern Rock list, while Staind is No. 1 with "Right Here" on the Mainstream Rock side for a second. Rob Thomas, meanwhile, tightens his grip on the Adult Contemporary airplay list, where his "Lonely No More" is No. 1 for a sixth consecutive week, and Shakira's "La Tortura" featuring Alejandro Sanz sits on top for a fourth straight week and 13th overall.

Kanye Confirms Fall Tour With Common, Fantasia

Excerpt from - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(Sept. 14, 2005) As first reported here earlier this month, Kanye West will launch a fall tour with Common, Fantasia and Keyshia Cole. The Touch the Sky trek will begin Oct. 11 in Miami and run through Dec. 11 in Vancouver, and includes multiple-night stands at New York's Theatre at Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre.

"I love performing," West recently told Billboard. "I love the feeling of these tracks playing, getting the opportunity to hear them really loud and see what's connecting with people the most."

West is the hottest artist in the country right now, boasting the No. 1 album on The Billboard 200 with "Late Registration." The Island/Def Jam set has already sold more than 1.14 million copies in just two weeks. Tomorrow, he will also begin a second week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Gold Digger" featuring Jamie Foxx.





En Vogue To Reunite For Salt N Pepa Tribute

Excerpt from

(September 21, 2005) *The four original members of the R&B quartet En Vogue will reunite and join Salt N Pepa to perform their 1993 collaborative hit “Whatta Man” during the 2nd Annual "VH1 Hip Hop Honors" telecast on Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. En Vogue’s Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson, and Terry Ellis will share the stage once again and pay homage to honorees Cheryl James (Salt), Sandy Denton (Pepa), and Deidre "Dee Dee" Roper (DJ Spinderella) of Salt N Pepa, who are also reuniting for the special performance. Hosted by Russell Simmons and Reverend Run, this year's Hip Hop Honors will also pay tribute to LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Notorious B.I.G., Ice T and the film “Boyz N The Hood.” Scheduled performers include Kanye West, Eve, Nelly, Common, Jazzy Jeff, Snoop Dogg and Missy Elliott. According to VH1, En Vogue’s appearance on the show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom will double as the launch of the group’s official reunion. 

Bowie Surprise Guest At Montreal Rockers' Show

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Sep. 16, 2005) NEW YORK (AP) — David Bowie made a surprise appearance at the Montreal-based band Arcade Fire's show Thursday night.  The 58-year-old Bowie joined indie rock sensation for the two song encore of their Central Park concert in Manhattan. An ecstatic audience of thousands immediately roared at the sight of the rock icon.  In town for Fashion Week, Bowie took the stage wearing a white jacket and pants — which stood in stark contrast to Arcade Fire's all-black attire. After performing a song of his own with the group, Bowie strapped on an acoustic guitar and joined Arcade Fire's Win Butler in singing the band's Wake Up.  It was just Bowie's second performance since having a heart attack last year. Last week, he and Arcade Fire played a taped performance at the Fashion Rocks concert.  Bowie earlier explained his comeback: "I told them I'd only do it if they got Arcade Fire to perform. They're fantastic."  The Montreal-based band, whose debut last year, Funeral, wowed critics, is currently touring North and South America. Thursday night's sold-out show, part of the CMJ Music Marathon, was the most elusive ticket of the annual festival.

Jackson Lines Up Artists For Katrina Relief Song

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Sept. 16, 2005) Los Angeles -- Michael Jackson's publicist said eight performers so far have agreed to join a song to benefit hurricane Katrina victims. Raymone Bain said artists who will appear on Jackson's song, tentatively titled From the Bottom of My Heart, include James Brown, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz, R. Kelly, Snoop Dogg and Ciara. But representatives for some of the artists said it is premature to say their clients are committed to the charity single.

Sean Paul Avoids 'Dutty Rock' Redux

Excerpt from - By Ivory Jones, N.Y.

(Sept. 16, 2005) Dancehall king Sean Paul returns to the scene Sept. 27 with "The Trinity" (VP/Atlantic Records). The album is the follow-up to his 2002 release "Dutty Rock," which has sold 2.5 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  While most would be nervous about living up to such success, Paul tells Billboard that words like "pressure" and "worry" are not even in his vocabulary at the moment. "In school, I felt nervous when I had to deliver a big project or when I used to swim 8,000 meters a day to get ready for a swim meet. That was pressure; this is not," he says.  Though Paul initially teamed up with such mega producers as the Neptunes and reggae hitmakers Sly & Robbie, he chose such lesser-known talents as Black Chiney and the Renaissance Crew, who produced the set's lead single, "We Be Burnin'." The track is No. 24 on the Billboard Radio Monitor Rap chart. "I did a few demos with the Neptunes and Scott Storch," Paul says. "I realized that those records were all good, but I can't do 'Dutty Rock' again. I decided to turn back to Jamaica to feel the vibe of what's going on there. There's a mixture of young producers and entertainers that inspire me every day."  Among the rising artists inspiring Paul is reggaetón sensation Daddy Yankee. Paul says he is embracing the new genre, which shares much with dancehall.  "Music is supposed to bring people together. I'm not going to be a hypocrite and say I don't love the music. The music is good -- I just don't know what dem saying," he jokes.

Jay-Z Returns To The Stage Next Month

Excerpt from - By Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

(Sept. 16, 2005) Hip-hop superstar-turned-label head Jay-Z will leave the desk job behind for at least two nights next month, with plans to headline shows in New Jersey and Philadelphia. The concerts will be "& Friends" affairs, much like the star-studded shows the artist pulled together when last year's Best of Both Worlds tour with R. Kelly fell apart.  The Oct. 27 show at East Rutherford, N.J.'s Continental Airlines Arena is being staged by New York hip-hop radio outlet WWPR (Power 105.1), while the next night's concert at Philadelphia's Wachovia Center Jersey show is a WUSL (Power 99) event. Tickets ranging from $9.99 to $99.99 are already on sale for the latter via Ticketmaster; sales info for the N.J. event has not yet been announced. Also not yet revealed is the line-up of the Def Jam president/CEO's "friends." For 2004 dates in New York, Miami and elsewhere he drafted the likes of Snoop Dogg, the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Fabolous, Q-Tip, Diddy, Ja Rule, Busta Rhymes and Mary J. Blige to fill out the bill.  As previously reported, Jay-Z is also considering a return to recording. "When people want something bad enough, it happens. And they want it bad," he told Billboard last week with a laugh. "I'm trying to hold out, but I don't know how long I can."

Here are Jay-Z's upcoming tour dates:

Oct. 27: East Rutherford, NJ (Continental Airlines Arena)
Oct. 28: Philadelphia (Wachovia Center)

Heather Headley’s New Single 'In My Mind' Impacts Radio

Source: Sarah Takenaga, RCA Publicity,,

(Sept. 16, 2005) New York, NY –– Two time Grammy nominated and Tony award winning recording artist Heather Headley’s first single “In My Mind,” off her highly anticipated new album on RCA Records, hits airwaves Sept 26th.  This is the world’s first taste of Heather’s powerful voice since her critically acclaimed debut album This Is Who I Am which garnered her two Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, two BET Award nominations, two NAACP Award nominations, a Soul Train Award nomination and the ultimate recognition: Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best R&B Vocal. The stand out single is produced and written by Grammy nominated, Shannon Sanders and Drew Ramsey. Heather’s sophomore album is slated for release in mid November and has such top talents as Babyface, Lil’ Jon and Jermaine Dupri working on material for her. More information on the upcoming full length to be released shortly.

Dancehall Star Wayne Marshall Is A New Dad

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(Sept. 15, 2005) Dancehall star Wayne Marshall is a new father.  His son Geomar Yohan Mitchell was born last Wednesday at the Arnold Palmer Women & Children Hospital in Orlando, Florida. He weighed in at 7 lbs and 12 ounces. The child’s mother is former Miss Jamaica World beauty queen and former television show host Regina Beavers. Marshall, whose real name is Wayne Mitchell was quite elated when this column caught up with him on the weekend. “I am the happiest man on the earth. I used to hear bout how other fathers felt to have their first born but I never dreamed it would feel this way. I am absolutely elated and excited especially because the baby is so healthy and doing fine and of course his mother shares my sentiments. I am now looking forward to fatherhood and trying to make my son be the best man he can possibly be,” said Marshall. Marshall is hot on the charts these days. He has been enjoying a renewed presence at local radio. He recently topped the B Mobile Mega Jamz Dancehall Chart and the RJR Top 20 Chart with Make Them Come. His latest chart entries include Die without You (on the Giggy rhythm) and Marry Wanna (on the Mista Wilks label).  His Happy Days song on Donovan Bennett’s Seasons rhythm is reportedly doing well.

We Remember Soul Singer Willie Hutch

Excerpt from

(Sept. 21, 2005) *Legendary R&B singer/songwriter Willie Hutch, the Motown veteran who co-wrote “I’ll Be There” for the Jackson 5, has died at his home in Dallas, Texas, reports WREG-TV Memphis.  He was 59. The cause of death has not yet been released.   Born Willie McKinley Hutchinson in 1946 in Los Angeles, Hutch grew up in Dallas, where his debut single “Love Has Put Me Down” was released in the early sixties.  After putting out his first album in 1964, the artist went on to work with a number of artists as a writer and producer. In 1970, producer Hal Davis called Hutch at the 11th hour to write a song for a backing track he had produced for the Jackson 5.  The Michael Jackson-led group reportedly went into the studio the next day to record Hutch’s words on the track, which turned out to be one of the group’s biggest hits, “I’ll Be There.” Hutch went on to write and/or produce solo albums for Jackson, as well as Smokey Robinson, The Fifth Dimension, The Miracles, The Main Ingredient (“California My Way”), Junior Walker, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, among others.  He also wrote the entire soundtrack for Pam Grier’s 1970s blaxploitation masterpiece, "Foxy Brown" and worked on the soundtrack to “The Mack,” including the song, “Brother's Gonna Work It Out.” Hutch even penned a song for the 2005 John Singleton-produced film, "Hustle and Flow."  Willie released two albums in the 90s: “From The Heart” and “The Mack Is Back.” 

Gerald Levert Preps ‘Voices’

Excerpt from

(Sept. 21, 2005) *Gerald Levert, 39, is ready to put his recent legal troubles behind him and forge ahead with a new album of duets and old faves, called “Voices.”   The singer, who two months ago pleaded guilty to assault and attempted obstruction charges, has teamed up with his former LSG members Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill, as well as Missy Elliott, Yolanda Adams, Kelly Price and his dad Eddie Levert for the collection of duets, due Oct. 4 from Rhino Records. "I Like It" reunites LeVert for the first time since the trio - Levert, his brother Sean and Marc Gordon - released its last album, “Whole Scenario,” in 1997. Going back to the beginning of Levert's solo career, “Voices” includes the singer performing the No. 4 Billboard single, "That's What Love Is" with Miki Howard. The collection also features Levert singing "It Hurts Too Much To Stay" with Kelly Price from 1999's No. 8 Pop album “G,” and "My Side of the Bed" from LSG's 1997 album “Levert.Sweat.Gill.” The retrospective of Levert's greatest duets also includes his version of "Wind Beneath My Wings" performed with his father, "All The Times" featuring the all-star line-up of LSG, Faith Evans, Coko and Missy Elliot, plus "Written All Over Your Face" from The Rude Boys' 1990 debut, “Rude Awakening.”  Along with duets with Men At Large, Teena Marie, and Yolanda Adams, “Voices” also features the newly recorded tracks "Last Time I Saw You" with Vanessa Williams and "Storm Has Passed" with Sherena Wynn. As previously reported, Levert was charged with two misdemeanor counts stemming from a confrontation with suburban Cleveland police during a February 25th traffic stop. Levert and a friend allegedly got into an altercation with police after they pulled over the vehicle of a woman the two were following. After entering a guilty plea, on July 27, Levert was fined $2,000 and put on probation for one year.

Charlie Wilson Releases Debut Album On Jive Records

Source: Amina Elshahawi, email: , phone: (212) 461-2188 

(Sept. 21, 2005) Charlie Wilson founding member/lead singer of The Gap Band and everyone’s favorite “Uncle” has released his debut album Charlie, Last Name Wilson on Jive Records. The self titled single shipped to radio on April 25 and it’s currently the #2 song at Urban AC radio (Top 10 record at most adult stations, including WBLS and Kiss in New York, WSRB in Chicago, WFUN in Detroit and KJLH in Los Angeles) and # 22 at Urban Radio (stations include WGCI in Chicago, WJLB in Detroit and KKDA in Dallas among others.) The video is currently playing on BET.  Wilson stands out as one of the most influential artists in the history of R&B music. Dominating the charts throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, he wrote and produced four #1 R&B hits and 15 top ten hits including “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” “Outstanding,” “Yearning for Your Love,” “Oops Upside Your Head” and “Early in the Morning.” “Uncle Charlie,” as he is fondly known, has also added his trademark voice to many landmark hits of the ‘80s, most notably including “Computer Love” with his late friend Roger Troutman and Zapp. Uncle Charlie and The Gap Band have been instrumental in defining modern day urban music. As the most sampled artist in history, The Gap Band has been used by over 150 recording artists including Mary J. Blige, Usher, Ashanti, Will Smith, Madonna and George Michael.  In 1997, Uncle Charlie performed with Snoop Dogg on Snoop’s platinum Doggfather album, singing “Snoops Upside Ya Head,” “Tha Doggfather,” “She Was Just a Groupie” and many others. Charlie continues to collaborate with Snoop on an ongoing basis including on the smash “Beautiful” featuring Uncle Charlie and Pharrell from The Neptunes, as well as his latest hit “Signs” featuring Justin Timberlake. Now Uncle Charlie continues his legacy by enlisting his nephews, R. Kelly, Justin Timberlake, Will.I.Am, Pharrell, Scott Storch, Kay Gee, Todd Terrill, Dre & Vidal and the Underdogs for his latest album, Charlie, Last Name Wilson.





Tuesday September 20, 2005

2Pac, Poetry and Music, Vol. 2, Koch
Cissy Houston, Cissy Houston Collection, Compendia
EARTH, WIND & FIRE Illumination (Sanctuary Records)
George Clinton, Best of George Clinton Live, Compendia
Ghostface, Raw Footage, Fastlife
JAMIROQUAI Dynamite (Sony/BMG)
Killer Mike, Ghetto Extraordinary, Sony
Latoya London, Love and Life, Peak
Les Nubians, Nubians Presents Echos, Triloka
Master P, Greatest Hits Re-Mixed, Koch
Scarface, Product, Koch
SHAGGY Clothes Drop (Universal)

Tuesday September 27, 2005

BRUCE COCKBURN Speechless (True North)
LIL' KIM Naked Truth (Atlantic)
NEIL YOUNG Prairie Wind (Reprise)
SEAN PAUL The Trinity (Warner)
SHERYL CROW Wildflower (A&M/Interscope)
TONI BRAXTON Libra (Universal)







Director Deepa Mehta Captures Faces And Voices Of Domestic Violence In Groundbreaking Documentary Let’s Talk About It

Source:  Rogers Media

(TORONTO, September 19, 2005) – Once the innocent and forgotten victims of domestic violence, children break the silence and secrecy of family abuse for the first time in Let’s Talk About It, a new documentary directed by Deepa MehtaLet’s Talk About It is produced by Canada’s Filmblanc, a rising star in documentary filmmaking, in association with Rogers OMNI Television.  The programme will make its world television premiere to English speaking viewers on OMNI.2, Saturday, October 22 at 7 p.m. (ET). Let’s Talk About It launched to the Spanish language audience in mid-September. A compelling and purposeful call to action, the one-hour programme puts a voice and a face to the global epidemic that is breeding a new generation of abusers. Already, over one million Canadian families have experienced some form of domestic abuse this year, according to Statistics Canada.

Fusing the structured first-person story-telling techniques of the documentary with the revealing and spontaneous tell-it-like-it-is conversations between parent and child, Mehta has created a chilling landscape with the cautionary tales of three immigrant women who share their stories of domestic violence and the resulting negative impact and influence on their children from their exposure to violence in the home. Mehta’s journey into the dark corners of familial abuse among immigrants is uniquely and cleverly crafted to be the catalyst for open dialogue and discussion among all ethnic and cultural communities.  Offering the first ever glimpse into the hush hush world of domestic violence from the perspective of its youngest prey, Mehta arms the subjects’ offspring with video cameras and an assignment to interview their respective parents. Unprompted, their interviews are jolting reminders that silence and secrecy are the domains of domestic violence and the killers of innocence.  They are also inspiring profiles of courage, hope and determination.

Says Noemi Weis, President of Filmblanc:  “Deepa Mehta is a master of the exposé.  As a documentary director, she has elevated the issue of domestic violence in such a way that we can no longer turn the other cheek or sweep this growing epidemic under the carpet.  Let’s Talk About It reveals the unstudied facet of domestic violence that is born in certain cultural and ethnic traditions and beliefs.”  Mehta adds: “Children are our greatest teachers and I hope this film helps to fuel meaningful action and commitment to stop the cycle of family abuse and give voice to every child and parent living in the unspoken despair of an abusive home.”

Let’s Talk About It reveals the stories of:

  Nigerian-born Nneka, whose children witnessed their father’s daily beatings, the final attack so brutal, he tried to kill the 42 year-old lawyer by suffocating her with a pillow after pinning her face down on the sofa;

  Amandeep, whose arranged marriage is an accepted practice in her native India, found courage to seek help after her husband’s rage became physical and a source of escalating anger in her son;

  and Xiomara, from El Salvador, married and pregnant at 16, a frightened teenager who would hide from her violent husband in a game of cat and mouse that would end after a series of punches and kicks caused her to miscarry her first child.

Deepa Mehta is one of Canada’s most prolific and successful filmmakers.  Among her many productions, the writer, producer and director is best known for the critically acclaimed Bollywood Hollywood, the award-winning Sam and Me and her trilogy, Fire, Earth and Water, which opened this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. “We are pleased to support another top calibre production from Filmblanc,” says Malcolm Dunlop, Vice President of Programming and Marketing for Rogers Media: Television.  “This latest collaboration with Deepa Mehta is sure to reach across diverse communities and spark cross-cultural dialogue on how to resolve the growing problem of domestic violence.” 

Let’s Talk About It is the second documentary from producer Noemi Weis’s Filmblanc, a new force in Canadian programming with content of social relevance and moral consciousness.  The company’s Gloriously Free, a powerful and eye-opening look into Canada’s growing stature as the world’s safest haven for alternative lifestyles premiered late last fall on OMNI Television.  Gloriously Free was subsequently broadcast on CBC Newsworld's Documentary Special and was recently acquired by premium specialty service HERE TV in the U.S.  The programme received its European premiere in early May at the Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester, garnering high praise from filmgoers and ranking among the most popular offerings.

Let’s Talk About It is produced with 100 percent funding from OMNI’s Independent Producers Initiative, a $32.5 million independent production fund and seven-year funding commitment created and made available by OMNI Television for independent producers to create third-language ethno-cultural programming.  OMNI Television is the industry’s first and only major source of funding for the independent production of non-official language programming.  The documentaries will be broadcast in their original language and transcreated into English as well as a range of other languages. Interested producers may access funding criteria at Harbourfront Entertainment is handling worldwide rights.




Fans Flocking Away From English Canadian Films

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Sep. 20, 2005) OTTAWA (CP) — After five years and almost half a billion dollars, the federal government's vaunted program to boost Canadian feature films appears to be a bust in English Canada, a new study suggests.  Almost no one is showing up in theatres to see the films, despite loads of tax dollars for scripts, production and marketing.  Ottawa has been supporting domestic feature films for decades but in 2000 overhauled its policy, setting itself the goal of boosting Canada's box-office share to at least five per cent nationally.  An independent review of that policy five years later has found that the goal has nearly been reached — 4.6 per cent — but only because French Canadians are flocking to Quebec theatres in droves.  In English Canada, where most of the development money is being spent, the market share was a paltry 1.6 per cent for 2004.  "We've come a very, very long way . . . (but) the figure is still embarrassingly low for the English market," Susanne Vaas, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, said in an interview.  The just-completed study was commissioned by Canadian Heritage from Nordicity Group Ltd. and was obtained under the Access to Information Act.  Since the new policy was announced, about $463 million has been spent to back Canadian feature films, the lion's share through Telefilm Canada to directly support production.  Some $8 million, for example, was spent to generate 366 scripts, 249 of them in English Canada.

"In English Canada, however, there is evidence to suggest that producers have generally not used the scripts," the Nordicity report notes.  The new policy, dubbed From Script to Screen, also attempted to boost average production budgets for Canadian feature films to $5 million and average marketing budgets to $500,000.  Latest numbers suggest the production funding target was reached, for an average of $6.1 million per film. But it cautioned that the number is skewed by a small number of big-budget films.  The marketing target fell short, at $385,000 for the average film in the last figures available from 2004.  But the report also found there was little relation anyway in English Canada between the budgets and the number of Canadians who could be lured into theatres to see the subsidized films.  The evaluation was also critical of the Genie awards show, the annual televised celebration of Canadian film. Canadian Heritage currently provides $450,000 annually to support the telecast, even though it draws only about 550,000 viewers.  That's about half the audience for French-language equivalent, the Jutras, which receive just $100,000 in federal support.  "The national English-language televised awards show (the Genies) is not very effective and does not draw well," the report concludes.  Paul Gratton, chairman of the board for the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, defended the show, noting the audience had increased from 350,000 two years ago.  Gratton, whose academy sponsors the awards, also said the ratings simply reflect the lack of interest shown by English Canadians in home-grown films.  "The great challenge is English Canadians' indifference to English Canadian movies, and the Genies are a very noble attempt to crack that every year," he said from Toronto.

The evaluation makes clear that Canada's film policy works well in Quebec, where box-office share has risen to a respectable 21 per cent. The French-language market is more cohesive and integrated, and less subject to competition from Hollywood.  But in English Canada, bombarded by big-budget American films, the millions of tax dollars poured into feature films did not make much headway.  Box-office share was 1.4 per cent in 2000, the year the policy was begun, and fell below this threshold in the following three years. Only in 2004 was it higher, at 1.6 per cent.  The Nordicity report noted that the 2004 number rose thanks to a few international co-productions, such as 2004's Being Julia which starred American Annette Benning. Being Julia took in just under $1 million at the box office in Canada.  Other supported films — such as Ginger Snaps, Lost and Delirious, Maelstrom — were far less successful.  The evaluation makes a series of recommendations, chief of which are to retain box-office share as a key measure of success, but to set differing targets for the French and English markets.  Canadian Heritage says it is reviewing the program and will proposes changes next year. Senate and Commons committees are also examining cultural policy, including support for feature films.  Marc Seguin, senior policy director for the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, applauded the report's call for different approaches to the English and French markets. The association represents about 400 production companies in Canada.  "A national policy can be asymmetrical and still be national," he said. "You need to recognize that the two markets are different.  "The hill in English Canada is way steeper and way more slippery."




Girl With 'The Great Dynamic'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Leah Mclaren

(Sept. 16, 2005) In a celluloid universe of bubbly blondes, Zooey Deschanel is a refreshing exception. The 25-year-old actress sits before me, skinny shoulders hunched in a navy-blue blazer, electric eyes blinking out from a frame of almost-black hair, looking slightly twitchy, as though her metabolism is skittering along at twice its normal pace. I ask her if she's done many interviews today and her face opens into a smile. "Yeah," she says, "but, uh, this is going to be the very best one, right?" Deschanel is in an enviable spot, career-wise. Not yet a major star, but fast on her way to becoming one, the actress is the embodiment of what film people call "an industry darling." This means she gets lots of interesting work without the hassle of being stalked by the tabloids. Winter Passing, the low-budget first feature by playwright Adam Rapp, is the film Deschanel is at the Toronto International Film Festival to promote. A melancholic coming-of-age tale, the film is the perfect showcase for her moody talents. "When I read the script, I was so excited," she says in a voice that sounds the way a cat's tongue feels. "It was so incredible and rare to read such a complex female character. The parts that are out there for girls my age are usually, like, somebody's girlfriend." Deschanel stars as Reese Holden, a young theatre actress subsisting in contemporary New York on a sketchy diet of cocaine, whisky and meaningless sexual encounters. The only child of two famous and emotionally unavailable writers, Reese wanders the city in a grim haze. When a publisher offers her big bucks for the rights to her recently deceased mother's letters, she must return home to Michigan to find them. It is there that she confronts her father (Ed Harris), who is being cared for by strange houseguests (Will Ferrell and Amelia Warner) as he lives out his final days in a J. D. Salinger-esque state of reclusive debauchery.

Deschanel, whose previous work includes Almost Famous, All the Real Girls and Elf (the latter also with Ferrell), says the role of Reese was one of the most taxing of her career. "I have a thing when I read a script that I really love, it's kind of weird. I get this feeling that I need to protect the character. I want to play the character so I can protect them from, like, being hurt," she explains. "With Reese, she's so vulnerable but she's also so jaded and cut off from her emotions. At the beginning of the movie, she's doing all this stuff, slamming her hands in drawers, trying to make herself feel. Her attempts at intimacy are awkward and failed. You don't see the real flex of emotion until the end of the film." Deschanel, who is much more animated in person than the flat, stony-faced Reese, said holding back, rather than going whole hog, was the great challenge of this role. "We didn't want to tell the story of someone who was crying and going 'ahhhh,' all the time," she says, raising her hands in the air and mimicking actorly histrionics. "At the same time, she's in so much pain. She's on the verge. It was very trying for me because I'm not like her. I laugh and cry all the time. I would spend all this time on the edge and at some point I'd have to let it all out. At lunch, I'd go to my dressing room and I'd just cry and cry." According to writer-director Rapp, it was Deschanel's willingness to embrace the character's dark side that convinced him she was perfect for the role. "A lot of much more famous women wanted to do it," he says, "but Zooey had a great dynamic of not being afraid of the cruelty in the role and being able to go to an emotional place that's authentic. I was just the most impressed with her and I knew I had to cast it right." The film, which was shot for just under $3-million in New York and New Jersey, is set to open in New York and Los Angeles on Oct. 28, but has yet to secure a Canadian distribution deal. "The actors basically did it for free," Rapp jokes. Filmed in the dead of winter, the 28-day shoot was fraught with problems, including one day when the outdoor set was sinking into the snow. "It was a film we all really, really believed in, otherwise we wouldn't have been there," Deschanel admits. "It's always tricky when you're mixing commerce and art, but I believe there's still a place for little movies like this one."




Accidental-Dad Tale Tops Winners

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell

(Sep. 18, 2005) A South African movie about a street punk who discovers fathering skills he never knew he had is the surprise winner of the People Choice's Award at the close of the 30th Toronto International Film Festival.  Tsotsi (the title means "thug"), by South African director Gavin Hood, was a relatively late and unknown starter at the 10-day festival, which ended last night.  But Tsotsi garnered more votes than any of the four runner-up films for the fest's most prestigious prize: Klaus Härö's Mother of Mine, John Gatins' Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story; Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain and Radu Mihaileanu's Va, vis et deviens (Live and Become).  Hood's drama Tsotsi stars Presley Chweneyagae, who discovers an infant in a BMW he carjacked. His first instinct is to abandon the child, but destiny takes another road.  The movie is similar to the Dardenne Brothers' L'Enfant, which took the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival last May, and which also screened at Toronto. That means the world's top two film festivals have both swooned for movies about accidental dads.  There were family themes amongst other winners yesterday at an awards ceremony held a day earlier than usual. The CITY-TV award for best Canadian first feature was a tie between Louise Archambault's multi-layered Familia and Michael Mabbott's rocking The Life And Hard Times Of Guy Terrifico.  The jury praised Familia for its "skill at balancing a variety of tones" and Guy Terrifico "for its witty and entertaining satire ... and its deadpan comedy cinéma vérité techniques." Archambault and Mabbott share a $15,000 prize.  The $30,000 Toronto-CITY award for best Canadian feature went to Jean-Marc Vallée's C.R.A.Z.Y. The jury commended the film "for its standout acting, its incredible emotional resonance and extraordinary visual inventiveness."  The Bravo!FACT Short Cuts Canada Award, and with it $10,000, went to Renuka Jeyapalan's Big Girl, chosen by the jury "for the poignant portrayal of the complex issues facing single parent families."  The Discovery Award, voted by 750 members of the festival press corps and carrying a $15,000 prize, went to Australian Sarah Watt's Look Both Ways. And the non-monetary FIPRESCI Prize, awarded by international press, went to South Korea's Kang Yi-kwan for Sa-kwa, the story of an emotionally damaged woman searching for true love.




OutKast Film Lands At Universal

Excerpt from - By Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter

(Sept. 9, 2005) Universal Pictures has bought worldwide rights to an untitled movie musical starring hip-hop duo OutKast. As previously reported, the HBO Films production is set in a 1930s Southern speakeasy and follows two characters, Percival (Andre Benjamin, aka Andre 3000), the club's piano player, and Rooster (Antwan Patton, aka Big Boi), the club's lead performer and manager, through intersecting stories of love and ambition. Bryan Barber, OutKast's long-time music video collaborator, is making his feature film-directing debut here, working from his own screenplay. The movie was formerly titled "My Life in Idlewild." Its cast also includes Ving Rhames, Terrence Howard, Faizon Love, Patti LaBelle, Macy Gray, Cicely Tyson and Ben Vereen.  Universal Pictures will distribute the film wide in 2006, having successfully released such music-themed works as 2002's "8 Mile" and 2004's "Ray."

"This is not just another musical that happens to be starring OutKast and happens to be directed by Bryan Barber," HBO Films president Colin Callender says.  "It's more akin to a 'Purple Rain' or 'A Hard Day's Night,'" he continues. "It's very much a collaboration of Andre and Big Boi and Bryan Barber, and grew out of their musical and cinematic explorations. It's not like we found a musical and said, 'Let's go cast OutKast, and maybe Bryan Barber might be interested in directing it.' What we were really doing was giving OutKast and Bryan a platform to creatively invent their own musical."  The movie will feature new songs from the duo's next album, a soundtrack disc that will be released through LaFace/Zomba Label Group before the end of the year. "It's not like every song is about the movie," Big Boi told last month. "The movie is based on relationships: with your family, the most high, your business relationships. The album is about everything, not just relationships."




30th Year: 'A Killer Festival'

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Sep. 18, 2005) In a single day during the past 10 days I interviewed the shady Agent Smith from The Matrix (Hugo Weaving), the psycho villain from both Batman Begins and Red Eye (Cillian Murphy) and the cannibal from the TV biopic Dahmer (Jeremy Renner).  I guess you could say I had a killer festival.  Kidding aside, it was a great year, a grand way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our fall cinema feast.  And it felt special, in part due to the record 500-plus celebrities who descended upon our city to help glam the place up. People just couldn't stop talking about the festival, even the stars themselves.  I took a short break on Monday night to attend the first of several U2 concerts at the Air Canada Centre, and even front man Bono was raving about Toronto and movies. "Don't get too big for your boots, Toronto, with your film festival!" he said.  Bono took in a couple of movies himself, his favourite being from his native Ireland: Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto, which I also liked and which confirms Cillian Murphy as being amongst the most worthy of the hot young stars.  Out of the dozens of films I saw at festival 2005, very few were disappointments or downright duds. Part of that is luck, but mainly it's the strength of the programming, something festival director Piers Handling rightly praised at yesterday's awards ceremony.  I talked to many people who saw many different movies and I didn't get the sense that anyone was having a terrible time. And the timing was perfect.  After the summer we've just endured, in which a faltering box office reflected what might have been a record number of blockbuster bombs, this was like the governor calling at the last minute to cancel an execution. It was gratifying to be reminded that many people around the world are still making quality films.

It was a particularly good year for Canada at the fest, especially for the rookies. Well-written and smartly acted features like Familia, The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico, These Girls, Six Figures, A Simple Curve and C.R.A.Z.Y. demonstrated not only the strength of our national cinema, but also the blossoming of fresh talent.  And speaking of talented Canucks, how about Jason Reitman, son of homeboy Ivan Reitman, sparking a bidding war over Thank You for Smoking, a very funny satire on political correctness?  Festival veterans like Deepa Mehta (Water), David Cronenberg (A History of Violence), Guy Maddin (My Dad is 100 Years Old) and Atom Egoyan (Where the Truth Lies) also helped make the Maple Leaf fly high.  I saw a number of films I think are going to be Oscar contenders. Niki Caro's mining drama North Country has three Best Actress winners in it — Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand and Sissy Spacek — and it could reap multiple nominations for the next Academy Awards for the men, too. Six Feet Under's Richard Jenkins delivers a powerhouse performance as Theron's father, an old miner slow to understand his daughter's struggle for equity.  The Cannes discoveries A History of Violence and Tommy Lee Jones' The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada should also yield nominations, both for directors Cronenberg and Jones and stars Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello and Jones again.  I expect a shootout for the Best Animated Feature prize, between Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit — The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Both are an absolute delight.

Disappointments? There were very few. I was expecting more from Takeshi Kitano's Takeshis' than post-modern slapstick. And I wish James Mangold had given us more of Johnny Cash's music in Walk the Line and much less of the romance.  But there was no shortage of music in No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Martin Scorsese's sublime biopic of one of the most fascinating minds of the past century.  The movie clocks in at well over three hours, and only gets as far as 1966 in Dylan's career, but it is easily the most revealing accounts yet of one of the most secretive of performers. It was the last film I saw at the festival, and it's my favourite.  Sitting in the dark watching it, I was reminded once again of the power of film to illuminate not only the screen, but also the soul. It was a feeling I had many times in the past 10 days.




Will Build To Shoot

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Lisa Rochon

(Sept. 17, 2005) Within the world of creative giants, the personalities are both large and formidable. Sydney Pollack, the acclaimed Hollywood director responsible for such films as The Way We Were and Out of Africa, and Frank Gehry, arguably the world's most famous architect, are long-time buddies. And both are men who prefer all outward appearances to be relaxed and laid-back. Inner angst -- something that plagues each of them in spite of their immense talent -- resides in rippling pools located directly below the surface. It was a pivotal, angst-ridden moment in 1997 that ultimately provoked the making of Sketches of Frank Gehry, the first documentary directed by Pollack, which premiered at this year's Toronto International Film Festival and has its final screening tonight. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the building that tipped the world to the power of Gehry's unleashed architecture, was opening that year. Gehry found himself filled with dread, even embarrassment. More than once he asked himself, "What have I done?" Meanwhile, says Pollack, "I had a picture that was flopping. And I was flying myself all around Europe opening it. And I was in Madrid. And I was depressed and feeling shitty."  Pollack, Gehry and I are having lunch following the TIFF screening of Sketches of Frank Gehry -- a lunch that could be classified as leisurely, considering that it's a Saturday and we're in a hotel restaurant in the middle of stop-and-go festival traffic. "I said to my wife, 'Is [Gehry] serious sending invitations to people, and people are going to get on planes and fly to Bilbao?' And then, I realized I was very close -- maybe I'll go to see it."

The angst factor almost prevented Pollack from making the trip: "I didn't bring my invitation -- I thought, 'They're not going to let me in,' because the Basques had killed a guard the week before, and security was nuts. But I said, 'Let's just go and have a look.'  So I walked down the hill next to the building, and I peered inside, and I see Frank. Television crews are surrounding him, and he happens to look over, sees me, and opens the door and brings me in." After many offers from various Canadian, American and British filmmakers, Gehry's decision to ask Pollack to consider directing such a documentary occurred when he realized that the filmmaker had taken the best photos of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. "He was wandering around with a little tiny camera," recalls Gehry. Pollack cuts in: "I didn't even bring a camera. When I arrived, I was so blown away that I went over to a corner store and bought an idiot camera." Gehry adds: "Architecture photographers never take people in their images, because they blur. He knew how to take the pictures so they wouldn't blur with a cheesy little camera. He took 10 pictures that are extravagantly beautiful. Nobody else has photographed it like that." At first, Pollack didn't want the job. "I didn't feel literate as a documentarian. I certainly didn't feel literate architecturally -- this would be a really dumb thing for me to do. I didn't know where to look, what to lift up, where to go. But Frank was encouraging, and he said, 'If you do it, I won't hold back anything.' " Wanting to get to the hard goods of the creative mind, Pollack armed himself with a mini-DVD camera and interviewed Gehry himself while filming. He records him in his studio with partner Craig Webb, the two of them working in silence, taping bits of folded, warped cardboard onto early models. He draws out the architect while Gehry drives through Los Angeles talking about drawing as a young boy with his father, and being mentored by a ceramics teacher at the University of Southern California.

"The mini-DVD meant I didn't need a crew, I didn't need lights," says Pollack. "That's the way we got candour. If I had 20 guys holding lights, we wouldn't have got the candour. It allowed Frank to not have to face a room of strangers." Even Milton Wexler, Gehry's psychoanalyst of some 30 years, receives an important cameo in the film. His insights into Gehry's early preoccupation with bankruptcy -- of his business, his marriage and his artistic integrity -- surfaced early on during their counselling sessions, until Wexler forced Gehry to make choices. He quit his first wife, and abandoned the conventional architecture that his 45-person office was producing at the time. "From that moment, I was so happy," says Gehry in the film. The documentary begins with a powerful close-up of some of Gehry's ink sketches on white paper, and a poignant exchange between Pollack and Gehry. It sounds as if they're talking in the dark after watching a movie together. Pollack asks quietly, "Is starting hard?" And Gehry answers, "You know it is. I clean my desk . . . there's avoidance, delay, denial. I'm always scared that I'm not going to know what to do." The words are spoken over Gehry's obsessive, wandering scribbles -- the camera giving us a moment of intimacy with Gehry on paper, thinking aloud. Remarkably, although the film is rich in layers and complexity, it's the product of sporadic filming conducted over two or three weekends each year since 2000. There are sumptuous images of Gehry's buildings expressed like monumental canvases, and kinetic sculptures by Pollack working a Super-16 video camera. Pollack intersperses footage of Gehry with testimonials from musician Bob Geldof and artists Ed Ruscha and Julian Schnabel. There are long moments showing the architect connecting with his work. We witness Gehry walking into the just-completed DG Bank Building (2001) at Pariser Platz, Berlin. Gehry enters cautiously, like an intruder, looking surprised by it all, his hand gliding along the wood of one of the walls.

"It was easy to talk to him, because I know him. I said more things to him than I would have said to anybody," says Gehry, who travelled directly to the Toronto festival from a holiday in Japan touring the temples of Nara. "I've seen him suffer and struggle with his work over the years, so I felt that there was a lot of angst that we shared," adds the architect. "You have the same insecurities. He worries like I do. You should see what he goes through." Gehry and Pollack first met in 1979 when the director visited the architect's house in Santa Monica -- one of the icons of 20th-century architecture -- and became fascinated by it. At one point, Pollack's wife, Claire, "a drop-dead gorgeous actress," says Gehry, retired from film to study architecture at Sci-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture), eventually to work a short time at Gehry's studio. Over the years, the couples have attended jazz concerts together or met for dinner, usually at Pollack's house, because he's a great cook, says Gehry, and a wine connoisseur. Film, on the other hand, leaves Gehry less fascinated. He has to think a while before coming up with a couple of movies he's seen by Pollack. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is one he recalls. With a prompt from Pollack, Gehry remembers another: "I loved Tootsie."




Behind Blue Eyes: Gyllenhaal's Looking For Love In All Sorts Of Places

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Entertainment Reporter

(Sep. 17, 2005) The eyes have it.  Ask the multitudes of women and men of all ages who pronounce Jake Gyllenhaal their "dream boyfriend" and they'd probably cite those incredible blue orbs as the initial reason.  But sitting in a Toronto hotel room with him earlier this week, it soon becomes obvious that he's got other major virtues: warmth, intelligence, sensitivity and depth.  All those qualities are also on display in the two movies he had opening during the Toronto International Film Festival, which ends today: Brokeback Mountain and Proof.  In one of them, he plays a young cowboy who falls in love with another loner just like himself, and in the other, he's a university math geek who finds himself smitten with the disturbed but brilliant daughter of his former disturbed but brilliant mentor.  The fact that the objects of his affection in these two stories are played by Heath Ledger and Gwyneth Paltrow is another indication of how different these roles may seem, at least on the surface.  But to Gyllenhaal, "The most important thing is that they're both about love."  "You know," he says with a melting smile, "falling in love is like winning the lottery. But what draws two people to each other? What creates that chemistry? It's unexplainable."  He swigs thirstily from a bottle of water as he thinks about it further.  "I know there are times when it's bigger than you," he says. "Maybe it's written in the stars."  But then instantly he waves his hand, mocking that notion. "I'm not the biggest proponent of destiny. I think you make your own. Who knows how we all end up and who we end up with? I'm not one to say."  The 24-year-old, who made his film debut at 11 as Billy Crystal's son in City Slickers and broke through to cult stardom at 21 in the title role of Donnie Darko, has been linked romantically with a wide assortment of young women, most notably Kirsten Dunst.  Their on-again, off-again love affair has recently had tabloids reporting that they're expecting a child, while others linked Gyllenhaal (however fleetingly) with the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Mischa Barton.

He tiptoes gently around the issue.  "I believe there are many people you can truly love in your life. Well, maybe not many, but definitely more than one. That's what's so interesting about relationships.  "What comes to you out of nowhere is the feeling. Then you choose whether or not you want to hold on to it. I feel that choosing is deep love and it's a huge commitment."  He steers the topic back to the difference between the two love affairs he's lived on-screen in Toronto this past week.  He describes the union of the men in the western world of Brokeback Mountain as "the meeting of two people who are so lonely and share that loneliness in common above all else. They never knew how much they needed someone until they met and then it changed their lives forever."  The mathematical milieu of Proof, on the other hand, demonstrates to his character Hal "the real struggle between needing something logical, something which really makes sense, a kind of equation for love. Of course, there is no proof for love and that's what he finally has to learn."  There's a silence as Gyllenhaal tugs at the sleeve of his white cotton shirt. When he speaks again, his voice is a bit unsteady.  "I've just recently experienced a loss in my life and it made me realize that the feelings I thought I was supposed to feel are not the feelings I really felt." He pauses. "Well, some of them are, some of them aren't.  "There's a tremendous sense of relief along with a tremendous sense of grief. A sense of possibility along with a huge sense of regret."  He moves closer to share his discovery, but when asked about the nature of his recent loss, Gyllenhaal demurs. "I've come to realize that all the feelings are okay. There's not just one feeling that you're supposed to feel."  Gyllenhaal connects the dots to how this applies to his work. "I just wish to represent myself. I wish suits to fit me. I don't have to fit a suit. If you give me a suit that's too large, I'm not going to gain weight; I'm going to tailor it to fit me.

"That's a metaphor for how I act and I feel it's therapeutic for your life."  His soft-spoken voice grows more emotional as he warms to his theme.  "I'm not going to force myself into an idea or beat it out of myself. I'm going to show up and represent whatever feelings I have that day, incorporate them into the scene and understand that emotions sometimes fly all over the place."  He leans back on the sofa and closes the famous blue eyes.  "I like to be given a space and go wherever I feel I need to go within it."  Somehow, you know he's talking about offscreen as well as on.




Rage For Fame Attends Both Great And Small

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere

(Sep. 16, 2005) It comes as something of a shock to see the private Truman Capote.  But there he is, impeccably impersonated by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Bennett Miller's Capote, talking on the phone, staring at the walls of hotel rooms. And writing. Actually writing.  Who knew that Truman Capote, the most famous writer of his generation, actually wrote?  Standing in the teeth of the celebrity hurricane that our local film festival has become, it's unclear whether one is in the best or the worst possible place to observe this most bizarre but ubiquitous of cultural phenomena.  The festival is certainly a good vantage point on the phenomenon of celebrity — its meaning, function and what it reveals about a society that places such value in it.  Unsurprisingly, fame is the manifest preoccupation of many movies on display here. We tell stories about things we know and the world we see, and right now we know fame and see it everywhere.  Without exception, the most compelling movies about being famous are about the liabilities of fame. They focus on the spirit-sapping contradictions between being well-known and mortally flawed, of trying to reconcile private needs and public demand, of the experience of going through life with all that baggage.  Ironically, the best movies about being famous are about the struggle to be ordinary. As Jodie Foster, who's been famous for nearly 40 of her nearly 43 years, told this newspaper last weekend, "There isn't a single good thing about fame."  In the French drama Backstage, co-written and directed by Emmanuelle Bercot, a star struck teenage fan (Isild Le Besco) gains access to the kingdom, which is really the heavily curtained hotel suite where the pop diva Lauren (Emmanuelle Seigner) is more or less permanently imprisoned.  While life on the inside is a claustrophobic vortex of pills, snits, security personnel and delivered designer duds, on the outside it's just plain crazy. Fans are perched constantly on the boulevard and, on the rare occasions that Lauren actually dares venture out, she's fallen upon by a surging tide of screaming adorers.  Watching Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home Bob Dylan may do nothing to penetrate the granite inscrutability of its subject, but it goes a long way in explaining why Dylan goes years without granting interviews.  A recurring spectacle in the film is Dylan painfully enduring the insistently idiotic inquiries of press and public (but especially the former). As the archival footage moves from the early to the mid-'60s, and especially as you look at the face of the 64 year-old today, you could swear you can see Dylan retreat into himself.

A similar sensation occurs watching Leonard Cohen living the monastic life in Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man. Literally removed to a retreat, poet/singer/songwriter has found a place where he's free from being Leonard Cohen. If stars carry their baggage everywhere they go, here is a place where he can leave the bags at the door.  Swedish filmmaker Kristian Petri travels to Spain in search of Orson Welles' burial site in The Well. He finds it — at the bottom of a well on property once owned by a famous bullfighter — but the discovery feels intrusive. Welles is another person crushed by the weight of his own myth, and his remote resting place is a refuge from his own legend.  Elsewhere were other visions of fame as a kind of gilded penitentiary.  Johnny Cash (played by Joaquin Phoenix in the cliché-filled Walk the Line) finds that his appetite for amphetamines increases with his popularity.  The joined-at-the-chest popstar siblings in the British mock-doc Brothers of the Head are more or less happily connected until fame comes their way, seals them off from everything but groupies, drugs, booze and flacks, and suddenly they realize they're the Siamese Glimmer Twins. In their celebrity-imposed isolation, they come to hate each other.  The baroque trails blazed by Takeshi Kitano's vertiginously self-deconstructing Takeshis are too strange to be fully appreciated during a single mid-festival screening. But what sticks immediately is the hyper-famous Japanese filmmaker/comedian/actor/TV talk show host's mordant take not just on his own fame but the possibility of other roads taken.  The other Takeshi of the title is the unfamous one. Although played by the famous one, the unfamous one walks anonymously down Tokyo streets, takes abuse from customers in the convenience store and gets bounced out of noodle joints for requesting salt.  The anonymous Takeshi, an unsuccessful actor, wants nothing more than to be the famous one, and all he can imagine is what it might be like to live inside the movie he fantasizes his idol's life to be.  It's the ultimate trip through the hall of mirrors that is fame thinking about itself. Even imagining life without fame, Kitano creates someone who wishes he had it.  But even Kitano's creation can't compare to the courtyard at the Intercontinental Hotel the other day, where several "press days" were taking place at once. The guarded passageways leading from lobby to bar to outdoor patio were jammed with stars, publicists, entertainment scribblers, camera crews and pancaked TV gabsters.

There I was, waiting — politely, quietly, the patient Canadian — to be summoned to the patio for an interview with a director when a woman marched purposefully toward me. She held a clipboard (they all do) which she peered at sternly after asking what film I was there for.  Without looking up, she asked: "And you are?"  I told her my name. A nobody lost in a sea of somebodies.  At once the most vapid and valued commodity in the co-dependent worlds of entertainment and journalism, celebrity actually gets smaller and more insubstantial the closer one gets to it.  When you get right down it — and the 30-year-old, world-famous Toronto International Film Festival certainly gets right right down it — celebrity is little more than the banality of clipboards, cellphones, half-gulped bottles of water and the ability to grimly endure the same questions being asked of you 9,000 times.  Still, this vaporous substance has the force of solid steel.  Celebrity now drives this film festival, focusing 90 per cent of media attention on 10 per cent of what actually goes on, demeans the very word "journalism," usurps criticism and channels a staggering amount of capital and energy that might be more usefully used doing anything other than creating a context in which Johnny Depp can be briefly displayed for a rapturously appreciative rabble of "press."  The problem with celebrity, at least as seen from the patio of the Intercontinental in mid-festival, is that celebrity is the least interesting thing about it. It's just people, and I stubbornly refuse to believe that anyone has more inherent value than anyone else simply because they've got someone holding their bottled water for them.




Hoped-For Sundance Film To Tell The Story

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Robert Matas

(Sept. 17, 2005) VANCOUVER -- A demand for a government inquiry is a common refrain of Canadians in search of justice. James Pitawanakwat has gone one better. He is angling for an indie film backed by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute. Mr. Pitawanakwat was one of 18 people arrested in 1995 after the Gustafsen Lake standoff, a confrontation over a native land claim that attracted international attention. The 31-day episode that some feared would turn into a bloodbath ended 10 years ago this weekend. For his part in the standoff, Mr. Pitawanakwat was sentenced to three years in jail for endangering life. He fled Canada in 1998, 11 days after he was allowed out on day parole for the first time. He successfully fought extradition to Canada to finish his sentence, becoming the only Canadian ever granted political asylum in the United States. He is now a construction worker in a small U.S. town.  He is also promoting a script that tells the natives' side of the Gustafsen Lake story. The three-hour movie would echo the themes of speeches he gives on campuses around the United States, Mr. Pitawanakwat said in an interview this week. "I talk about the issues, about how the Canadian government used land mines against the Indian people while they were campaigning internationally against land mines, about how 10 native warriors held off 400 RCMP officers and the army in a full-fledge gun battle," he said. "You know what we call that ERT team," Mr. Pitawanakwat said, referring to the RCMP Emergency Response Team, which spearheaded efforts to end the standoff. "We say it is the early retreat team . . . they fired 77,000 rounds of ammunition in panic fire." The most complete account of the standoff is set out by Splitting the Sky, a Mohawk native from Buffalo, in his autobiography From Attica to Gustafsen Lake. One of the leaders of the Attica prison riot in 1971, he became a minor folk hero within human-rights and left-wing circles in New York in the 1970s. Splitting the Sky, who is also know as John Boncore Hill, said this week that he was invited to Gustafsen Lake to lead a sun dance ceremony. He was at the site from June to early August of 1995. When the standoff began a few weeks after he left, he became the group's spokesman on the outside and drew international support for the natives.

Gustafsen Lake is in a remote area of central British Columbia, 450 kilometres northeast of Vancouver. The natives made an arrangement with a ranch owner, Lyle James, in 1989 to hold sun dances at a spot on his property near Gustafsen Lake that they believed to be spiritually charged. When the arrangement broke down a few years later, the natives asserted aboriginal ownership and continued to hold annual summer sun dances. The standoff began on Aug. 18, 1995. After two months of increasing tensions over the occupation, a shot was fired at an RCMP officer. The RCMP and the army closed the area. On Sept. 11, 1995, natives and Mounties exchanged fire after a plastic-explosives belt (which the natives regarded as a land mine) disabled a red truck delivering supplies to the encampment. Over the next week, all the natives and non-natives walked out of the area and were arrested. Mr. James did not respond to requests for an interview. Academic Anthony Hall called the Gustafsen Lake standoff a national tragedy that the country has never addressed. "It is a classical case of the ability of the elite of Canada to sweep [issues] under the carpet," said Prof. Hall, founding co-ordinator of the globalization program at the University of Lethbridge. "The perception was, if there were any victims, the victims were a few radical Indians. But the real victim was the rule of law. The Canadian government violated its own laws in a systemic and elaborate and massive way."  The U.S. court, in granting Mr. Pitawanakwat political asylum, accepted the argument that the RCMP conducted a disinformation and smear campaign against the natives, he said. "Public officials simply misrepresented the facts."  During the standoff, the RCMP demanded access to CBC airwaves, saying the natives had hostages and someone could be killed if the broadcaster did not allow a chief, who opposed the protesters, to speak, he said. The RCMP obtained air time "in that way to present a propagandist message which obviously was not what it professed to be."

The RCMP also falsely told the media the natives had conducted an ambush, he said. The Canadian army was called without following proper procedures and without adequate safeguards, Prof. Hall added. "When you turn an army on your own people in a domestic situation, that is one of the very most serious -- if not the most serious -- things a government can do."  Mr. Pitawanakwat is an Anishinaabe native from Manitoulin Island, Ont. He went to work with B.C. natives on political issues in 1994 when he was 23 years old. Before going to Gustafsen Lake, he participated in a protest in the Okanagan Valley and a native blockade in another part of the province. He recalled hearing in mid-June of 1995 that some cowboys at Gustafsen Lake had threatened a "lynching" if the natives were not off the property by the next day.  "We just jumped into a vehicle and drove up there," he said. "It was night when we arrived, and it felt very serene and peaceful. But you could hear the turmoil in everyone's voice. They were talking about cowboys who wanted to string up a red nigger." He arrived with binoculars, in camouflage fatigues and army boots. "I was one of those young natives who felt important by being a member of the warrior society," Mr. Pitawanakwat said.  He left in July to join an anti-logging protest at Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island and then went to Alberta. He got a frantic call to go back to Gustafsen Lake in mid-August. He was told people were running through the bush, shooting at natives. After his arrest, he said, he began considering fleeing to the United States. "I thought about it during the trial," he said. "I thought, this is not right. We were defending ourselves. We were political prisoners. If I have the chance, I'll just go."

At his extradition hearing, his lawyer set out extensive evidence of the RCMP's disinformation campaign and the fight for native sovereignty. "When [the judge] heard they called us terrorists, it painted a different picture," he said.  He is reluctant to talk about the movie script that tells his story, especially before he hears from the Sundance Institute's Native American program, which provides support for up to four producers each year. The institute has helped finance nearly 40 native American writers and directors over the past 20 years. Janice Stewart, a magistrate justice of the U.S. District Court in Oregon, decided he could not be extradited to Canada to complete his sentence because his crime was of a political character.  "The Gustafsen Lake incident involved an organized group of native people rising up in their homeland against an occupation by the government of Canada of their sacred and unceded tribal land," she wrote.

The key events

A highly militarized standoff between the RCMP and a fringe group of radical natives claiming sovereignty over a small parcel of land in B.C. drew international attention in 1995.

June, 1989 -- Rancher Lyle James allows Shuswap native Percy Rosette to use ranch property for sun dances.

August, 1993 -- Mr. James wants the natives off his land; Mr. Rosette indicates his intention to pursue native ownership of the property.

June 13, 1995 -- The natives are formally told they can no longer hold sun dance ceremonies on the property.

July 2-12, 1995 -- Sun dance ceremonies are held.

Early August, 1995 -- RCMP receive information that firearms and explosives have been moved onto the site. Natives in camouflage gear carrying rifles are seen patrolling the area. Natives block access roads.

Aug. 18, 1995 -- A shot is fired at an RCMP officer.

Aug. 24, 1995 -- A shot is fired at an RCMP helicopter. A native leader says that if their demands not met, the only way they would leave would be in body bags.

Sept. 11, 1995 -- RCMP use a plastic explosives strip on the road to disable a truck carrying supplies for natives; thousands of rounds of ammunition are fired during ensuing gun battle.

Sept. 17, 1995 -- Standoff ends. Fourteen natives and four non-natives face criminal charges.




Jackie's Next Stunt: Acting!

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -  Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Sep. 16, 2005) Jackie Chan is the world's most successful action man, a profit generator in both Asian and Hollywood films.  At 51, the Hong Kong superstar is still fit enough to do most of his own highly creative stunts, including a dangerous 12-metre leap into a waterfall for The Myth, his new movie that had its world premiere last night at the Toronto International Film Festival.  And yet what he really wants to do is stop jumping around and instead be like Robert De Niro. Or maybe Dustin Hoffman or Clint Eastwood.  No, it's De Niro for sure. He's got the autographed photo to prove it.  "I just like it that Robert De Niro has all kinds of characters," Chan told the Star yesterday.  "He makes it very unique. He can do comedy. He can do horror movies. Bad guys. Good guys. Cops. Everything. I just love him so much."  Has he ever met big "Bobby D"?  "Never, but I asked my manager to get a picture from him. I have a wall of the people who I like. I ask them for their pictures.  "I especially like his movies, but also Dustin Hoffman's and Clint Eastwood's. I am the fan. Many people are fans of me, but I am a fan of people, too."  Chan's constant grin — he's also famous for his comedy — could suggest he's just kidding.  He's completely serious. He elaborates on what he said in a press conference a few minutes earlier, about how he wants to phase out his action career and get into serious drama. Like De Niro.  "I want to change. I want to be an actor who can fight, not a fighter who can act."  But he knows it's an uphill battle because of the language problem. He speaks English well (Mandarin is his native tongue), but it is heavily accented. He doesn't think even a voice coach could change that.  "If they make a Gladiator, how can I act in it?" he says, a note of sadness in his voice.  "Yes — wow! — Jackie can do action. It's good. But you also have to act in a movie like that. You have to speak so much English. I don't think I can do a tenth of that. In Hollywood, the scripts are so limited for me. It's difficult."

Difficult? The average punter might blink at that statement. This is the same Jackie Chan who has created successful movie franchises on two continents. In Asia, his Police Story series has had four chapters, and he recently started the New Police Story series with new characters.  In America, he's rocked the box office with Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2, playing opposite Chris Tucker, and Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights, playing opposite Owen Wilson.  For Rush Hour 2, he was reportedly paid $15 million (U.S.) plus a percentage of the film's gross. Next year, he'll make Rush Hour 3 for an even bigger payday.  He straddles two worlds even in his attire, sporting a Brando-inspired white T-shirt inside a grey Mandarin suit for this interview.  Can't he write his own ticket? Apparently not.  "It's so difficult for me," he says again.  "So when I go back to Asia, I write my own scripts. I can write whatever I want. Asian Gladiator. Asian Kramer vs. Kramer. Asian Titanic. When they had the Titanic script (in America) they never thought about Jackie Chan, right?"  His habit has been to do one American movie and then an Asian movie, but his thinking has evolved. He declined to immediately make a sequel to New Police Story because he wanted to pursue non-action roles in both dramatic and comedy films. He's got one of each currently on the go.  Chan knows the clock is ticking on his action career. He still works out every day, running a mile on a treadmill — "Not on the street, because I have a bad ankle and because people would look at me" — and he's still a lot more flexible than the average man his age.  But that's not going to last forever. He figures he has four more years of making action pictures.  "Maybe to age 55. That sounds good. I love movies, and I want to continue to make movies. But I think the audience will find out that my action sequences cannot compare to the old days, right?

"Right now, I can still do it. I think at different kinds of ages I do different kinds of action sequences. I still can do a lot of jumping around or kicking. You never forget, because you have a very good foundation. But I want to be a multi-talent, not only for action sequences."  He's striving to get the best of both worlds in The Myth, which is directed by Stanley Tong, Chan's long-time friend and collaborator. The two have now teamed for five films, including Rumble in the Bronx, the 1996 made-in-Vancouver actioner that launched Chan's North American career after decades in Hong Kong as both an actor and stuntman (he leapt for Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon).  Chan calls Tong "half of Jackie Chan," because the two work out everything from stories to stunts to camera angles together.  Chan plays two roles in The Myth: one serious and the other one slightly less so, but both of them very athletic. The serious guy is General Meng Yi, loyal warrior for an emperor in ancient China. He wears a helmet and armour straight out of Gladiator, hence Chan's fascination with that movie. He's also something of an unrequited lover, since he yearns for a princess he can't have. Chan would also like to make romantic movies, too.  The less-serious guy is an Indiana Jones-style archaeologist named Jack. Through a rupture of the space-time continuum, or maybe just a weird series of dreams, Chan's two characters keep intruding on the other's space. So do the two women in their lives, a Korean princess played by Kim Hee Seon (who is very big in Korean cinema) and a feisty Indian beauty played by Mallika Sherawat (a star in Bollywood films). The two women accompanied Chan to a press conference yesterday, as did director Tong.  The Myth is loaded with Asian talent, in other words, and it's a handsome production that looks like it cost at least $100 million to make, although Chan said it's more like $20 million. Yet he doesn't think the movie will get a regular theatrical release in North America, because Americans are so resistant to subtitles.  "I made The Myth only for the Asian market. American people, they don't like dubbed movies. I think it will definitely go to the video market here."  He has a reverse problem in Asia. His Rush Hour movies don't go over that well there.

"In Asia, they don't like Rush Hour or Rush Hour 2. The action isn't as good as in my old movies. And they don't understand the black humour (from Chris Tucker).  "They don't know what `nigger' means and `never touch a black man's radio.' They don't understand that, and after translation (the meaning) totally changes. So the comedy isn't so good for them, but they're happy that Jackie Chan is going to Hollywood. Yes! But they want me to go back to the action again and again and again."  He's happy to oblige, to a certain extent. Chan is so conscious of his public image, he's never played a really sinister character, thinking it would turn people off.  "Bad personality, yes. But not the bad guy."  He's also stuck with doing most of his own stunts, which has become one of his trademarks. He has injured himself "too many times" — that wonky ankle came from an accident while filming Rumble in the Bronx. His co-stars have had it rough, too — 22 of them went to hospital making The Myth, mostly for broken arms and legs.  If Chan were to suddenly resort to using stunt men for everything (he uses them sparingly now) or digital effects (ditto), he feels his fans would be unhappy.  So eager is Chan to please, he's also willing to play ball with Hollywood's hype machine. He doesn't attempt to second-guess the marketing of his movies stateside.  "Asia is my main market. They make me famous. But I know that in Hollywood, it's the biggest market in the world. And when I'm making American films, it's only for the American market. I totally listen to Hollywood then. They have marketing plans and they know everything. But that's not for the Asian market.  "The audience in America likes Rush Hour. The studio spends a lot of money to make it, $100 million. Why not do it? Of course I'm going to do it."  Still, what he really wants to do is not direct — he's already done that, too — but to be more like De Niro.  To all you directors and casting agents attending the festival:  Are you talkin' to him? Are you talkin' to Jackie?




Johnny Depp: A Man Of Many Characters And Much More

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle Macdonald

(Sept. 16, 2005) He got a kick out of inserting gold teeth and kohling his eyes to play the inimitable campy pirate Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. He enjoyed putting his own face-powdered stamp on Willy Wonka with Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And now he's hitting the screens as a clumsy, insecure and well-meaning puppet named Victor, in Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. Depp, in Toronto last weekend to promote his friend Burton's stop-motion animated film, says these roles have been a nice change from character-driven parts that perhaps are a bit closer to the real Johnny Depp. "Any actor with any semblance of sanity -- probably our biggest fear is to go anywhere near who you are. It's okay to use certain truths," he continues, but then is interrupted by a tray of falling plates just outside a room at the Four Seasons Hotel. "You saw I didn't do anything at all. I'll be blamed for that."  Then Depp, who has always had a loyal cult of fans but only recently enjoyed blockbuster, box-office success, says he's never forgotten the words of a wise man he worked with on 1995's Don Juan DeMarco. "I can hear Marlon's [Brando] words reverberating. One time he said to me, 'How many films do you do a year?' " Depp recalls. "And I said, 'I don't know. Two or three.' And he said, 'You gotta watch yourself.' I said, 'Why's that?' And he said, 'We only have so many faces in our pockets.' And as you get to a certain point, and you've played different characters, you think, God, he really was right." Since Depp broke out of obscurity as a teen heartthrob in the TV series 21 Jump Street, he's been incredibly productive, pumping out close to 35 feature films that show a multitude of Depp faces and run the gamut from fantasy, thriller, biography, horror and bizarre adventures for adults and kids.

His next film is Laurence Dunmore's The Libertine, the story of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, the 17th-century poet who drank and debauched his way to an early grave, only to earn posthumous critical acclaim for his life's work. While Depp is now a staunch family man, he admits The Libertine edges back to a role that has more shades of himself in the character. He doesn't elaborate, but this could, perhaps, be a nod to the actor's younger years, when he owned the infamous Viper Room, partied hard, trashed the odd hotel room -- and like Lord Rochester -- brushed close to a flammable existence. Roles that infringe on home territory, Depp acknowledges, are by far the most challenging. "It is a great challenge, and I've kind of touched on it here and there in more charactery parts. I just . . . more than anything, I am interested in exploring one area, and then that's territory covered. Let's see what happens next. But I have the voice of Marlon reverberating. . . . "One of the luxuries of an actor, one of the joys of the gig, is that you get to observe people, and by observing people, and you find these little traits, these interesting things that people do. Well, I'll have a bit of that and I'll have a bit of that. And you store it up and save it for later, later on when you'll need it." Unlike other stars, Depp lacks all pretension. His wrists are loaded down with homemade bead bracelets, leather straps and a white piece of cloth that looks like it might be covered with drawings by his two kids, Lily-Rose, 6, and Jack, 3. Around his neck, he's got a half-dozen chains, all cheap costume stuff with teeth and more beads. His long hair is flattened down by the usual frumpy hat. He acknowledges that the box-office bonanza of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -- many at TIFF predict that Corpse Bride will be another crowd pleaser -- has been more than a long-time coming. He's grateful for it, but doesn't give it much thought. "I've learned to condition myself not to have any expectations in terms of box office because as we all know, that kind of thing escaped me for many, many years," he says with a grin. "So all this is a relatively new experience."

Depp says it wasn't until the breakout success of Pirates that studios started seeking him out. "I've noticed a change from the upper echelon of the industry," Depp concedes. But it's recent. "Every time Tim wanted to cast me for a film he had to fight like a bastard with the studio. He was telling me today that when he sat down with the people in London [for Charlie], they said, 'Okay, let's figure out our cast.' And then they added, 'Maybe we could use Johnny.' " Burton, apparently, almost fell off his chair. "He's like, 'Okay, yeah. Good.' The fact they brought it up was pretty astonishing and surprised him." Five times now, Burton and Depp have collaborated. And the offers from Burton usually come right out of the blue. The two men will have gone months, sometimes years, without getting together, and Depp says he'll suddenly get a call. "He'll say, 'What are you doing?' And I'm like, 'Nothing. Just hangin' around.' He'll say, 'Can you meet me for dinner next week?' Sure, where? 'New York.' Okay, I'll see you then. There's no subject. No topic. Nothing." Depp, who was born in Kentucky, hates to use the word fan. But he goes on to say he appreciates all the people -- agents, family, colleagues "and all those kids who are outside the movie theatre and who go and watch. I appreciate the kids who have stuck with me on this very long, strange and bumpy road. They're the ones who keep me employed." As for the critics who matter most? His partner Vanessa Paradis and their kids. The night the rest of the Depp family went to see Charlie for the first time, Johnny says he stayed home. "I was afraid in the theatre my kids would not react well," he says. "So I was sitting at home, waiting for them to come back. And when they arrived my son, Jack, walks in, stands in front of me and in Willy Wonka's voice, says, 'You're really weird.' "It was liberating."




Song-Khoon Lim: In From Paris With His Own Spin On Film

Excerpt from The Toronto Star — Susan Walker

(Sep. 16, 2005) Born in Singapore, Song-Khoon Lim makes a living in Paris as a simultaneous interpreter and writer of French subtitles. This was his first year at the Toronto festival. He arrived on Monday and was intending to stay until the end of the festival.  It was a good year to choose for anyone with an interest in Asian films. TIFF is celebrating 35 years of Sino-Canadian relations and the 100th anniversary of cinema in China with a healthy selection of Chinese films.

How many languages do you speak? "Four: English, French, Mandarin and Cantonese."

How do you work the circuit? "I go to festivals as a translator/interpreter for the directors and actors when they do interviews or present their films. I've done Venice, Cannes and my ambition is to do other big festivals around the world. I'm going to Berlin next year, and I just arrived yesterday in Toronto."

Which Asian films and directors do you hope to see? "Stanley Kwan, because I met him in Paris recently — he was there for a retrospective of his movies. And he's here presenting Everlasting Regret. I'm going to watch the movie and hopefully catch his attention because he doesn't know that I'm here.

"I will see (Zhang Yang's) Sunflower. I'm really into Asian films and I do promotion for Asian films in Europe. I'll also see 3 Friends and Shanghai Dreams, which got a prize at Cannes this year.

What other movies are you going to? "I want to see some Canadian movies. I'm in the rush line-up for my first movie, C.R.A.Z.Y. It's a Canadian movie (directed by Jean-Marc Vallée). I would like to go to Souvenir of Canada and that's sold out, so I'll do the rush line again. I'm going to see Laurie Anderson in the Mavericks program. I think this program is really good. Also, Thumbsucker, 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous, Midnight Movies: From the Margin to Mainstream."

Will you go to the parties to make connections? "I'm here on an individual basis; I don't represent any company or any festivals, so I don't know what I'll be able to get into.

"There aren't enough festivals for me to work on a full-time basis, but whenever there are festivals I try to work at them.

"In France we have Asian film festivals as well and we have Deauville, Lyon and Cannes. And Paris itself has many smaller festivals."

Do you go to Sundance? "No, North America is too far for me, coming from Europe. This is only my first trip to North America in 12 years."

Really? You seem really young. "I'm not actually." (Laughs) "You know how these Asians are ..."




Wrestling With The Hollywood Beast

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By James Adams

(Sept. 21, 2005) At 68, Robert Redford doesn't appear in that many films any more. In fact, in the last 10 years or so, he's starred in no more than seven -- a sign, perhaps, that he prefers the behind-the-scenes roles of executive producer, producer and director and head honcho of the Sundance Institute to that of leading man. Still, the arrival of a new movie featuring He Who Was the Sundance Kid, Bob Woodward and Jay Gatsby, should be something of an event, not least since the movie, An Unfinished Life, was directed by two-time Oscar-nominee Lasse Hallstrom, and has perennial Academy favourite Morgan Freeman as a co-star. But it's not turning out that way, albeit through no fault of Redford. At this stage at least, An Unfinished Life is one of those films -- Heaven's Gate and Cleopatra are two others -- more famous for the circumstances under which it was produced than what's actually between the sprockets. For Redford, this is "enormously frustrating." And now, with Life on the cusp of a limited release, he's trying to turn media attention away from the Hollywood politics that have so far defined it towards its merits as a movie, and he's doing it via a blitz of telephone calls from New York to selected press types around North America. "I'm very attached to the character I played," he says, referring to one Einar Gilkysin, a reclusive, taciturn Wyoming rancher whose life is turned upside down when his dead son's former wife (played by Jennifer Lopez), on the lam from an abusive lover (Damian Lewis), shows up at his property with an 11-year-old granddaughter (newcomer Becca Gardner) he never knew he had. "Not that he's me, but I know that person by association, especially if you've spent any time in the Western states. He's so riven with bitterness and anger. Being able to take that character from being blocked emotionally to forgiveness was wonderful."

Redford also liked not "having to smile for the camera, or worry about having a shave, because the character had to reflect on the outside what he was on the inside. You could let it all get as crusty as you wanted." Redford says he even put on weight during the shoot.  But don't go thinking Robert De Niro and Raging Bull here: Even at 68 and supposedly overweight, Redford has a physique a man 30 years his junior would envy at the same time as his lined face seems never to have experienced the caress of Kiehl's Soothing, Nourishing Face Cream for Men. Actually, you should make that a 66-year-old Redford, since An Unfinished Life is actually an old new movie. It's so old that when it was being shot, near Kamloops in central British Columbia more than two years ago (and pegged for a December, 2004, release), Jennifer Lopez was still dating . . . Ben Affleck. Smarting from the trashing she'd received for Maid in Manhattan and The Wedding Planner as well as from the tabloid-fuelled hubbub over the making of Gigli, Lopez reportedly took a pay cut (to about $4-million [U.S.]) to play opposite Redford in a bid to regain the "thesp cred" she'd squandered. When An Unfinished Life failed to get a commercial release last year, much of the initial speculation on its delay centred on Lopez. Not that her performance is atrocious -- in fact, it's quite good: Rather, the movie's distributor, Miramax Films, reportedly felt it was too prominent in Hallstrom's final cut and that Lopez's previous track record and extra-curricular activities had made her box-office poison. Faced with poor cash flow, Miramax decided to consign Life and eight or nine other completed movies to the holding pen and, instead, pin its marketing muscle and Oscar hopes on Martin Scorsese's The Aviator and Finding Neverland, starring Johnny Depp. Matters reached something of a crisis point earlier this year when it was announced that Miramax would be ending its 12-year partnership with its parent, Disney, effective Sept. 30. As a result, Miramax has been hurriedly releasing much of its backlog. Five others will be out in this month, An Unfinished Life among them.

"It's all about greed and money and it's the driving force in Hollywood," Redford says. But he's not talking about the Miramax-Disney divorce here, at least not directly, but about the decision of An Unfinished Life's producers to have the interior of B.C. substitute for the wilds of Wyoming. "I gotta tell you, I was initially of a mixed mind about doing that; I was worried about whether the location would look right. But it did not hurt the film at all, as far as I'm concerned. It's a wonderful part of the world and the people were great. "Of course," he says with a sigh, "[the producers] did it because of the money. Not that it hasn't been otherwise; it's always been a money industry. But money has become the total driving force in the last 10 years. Movie executives used to be of the industry, so to speak. Once you started getting lawyers and MBA types in positions of authority, money became the sole factor -- making films on the cheap, in the hopes of getting a big score, became the model." Yet, Redford doesn't seem ready to entirely shuck the jive of the movie industry. Asked what he might do next, the star admits to being "kinda superstitious when it comes to talking about the future," and then proceeds to rhyme off at least a half-dozen projects in various stages of development. These include a sequel to The Candidate, his 1972 political drama; an adaptation of Neil Gordon's novel about Sixties radicals titled The Company You Keep; and a drama about baseball manager Branch Rickey's decision to break the colour bar in major-league baseball by hiring Jackie Robinson. And, of course, there's the Sundance Institute in Utah, which marks its 25th anniversary next year as what critic David Thomson calls "a forum for independent filmmaking, a retreat, a resort, a way of thinking well of oneself and . . . a gift catalogue." Redford admits Sundance, now considered one of the most important film festivals in the world, "has gone in and out of control over the years." He started it because "the mainstream film industry was abrogating its responsibility" to produce movies that weren't "cartoons or high-tech blockbusters. We focused on the market that was being vacated, programming for diversity, not commerciality." But then people started "flocking precisely because of that diversity. We weren't prepared for that dynamic burst of energy. So then you get something like Sex, Lies and Videotape: Once films like that started to make it, the merchants started to come and they pulled the stars, and the stars pulled the fashion people. And the next thing you know you had lawyers like barnacles and Paris Hilton! To this day, I still don't know if she's ever appeared in a movie that's played Sundance."





C.R.A.Z.Y. To Represent Canada At Oscars

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Sep. 20, 2005) MONTREAL (CP) — C.R.A.Z.Y., a Quebec film that won the best Canadian feature award at last weekend's Toronto International Film Festival, is now crazy about Oscar.  Jean-Mark Vallee's film has been chosen to represent Canada in the best foreign film category at the 78th annual Academy Awards, Telefilm Canada announced Tuesday.  The film was described by festival judges as a "wildly entertaining film (that) is an ambitious and magical cinematic homage to the pop-culture-saturated middle class of the '70s."  The Oscar nominations will be unveiled in Hollywood Jan. 31. They are to be handed out March 5.  In all, 91 countries were invited to submit titles for consideration. Last year, 50 countries did so.  Telefilm chairs a committee of Canadian film industry delegates — both public and private — and this year it selected C.R.A.Z.Y. by a majority vote, from 12 eligible films.  Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions won the foreign film prize in 2004.







2,000 Attend Memorial For Peter Jennings In N.Y.

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Sep. 20, 2005) NEW YORK (AP-CP) — At a music-filled memorial at Carnegie Hall, Peter Jennings was remembered Tuesday as a journalist with a childlike awe of the world, a devoted father and loyal Canadian who always carried a copy of the U.S. Constitution.  A picture of a smiling Jennings, the sun in his face and blue skies behind him, was projected over the stage of the New York landmark.  The Toronto-born broadcaster never lost his Canadian identity — an honour guard from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police marched at the service — but was proud to also become a U.S. citizen a few years before he died.  The audience of about 2,000 people was filled with luminaries: Mike Wallace, Brian Williams, Dan Rather, Tom Wolfe, Larry King, Jon Stewart, Charles Gibson, Al Sharpton, Alan Alda, George Stephanopoulos, Bob Schieffer, Michael Eisner, Elizabeth Vargas and her husband Marc Cohn.  "An anchor is what keeps a ship from drifting into dangerous waters," said ABC News president David Westin. "It keeps us steady and secure during the night, and that's what Peter was to ABC News."  When they joined the network four decades ago, Ted Koppel recalled how he was known as the smart one and Jennings the handsome one. Jennings — who died of lung cancer Aug. 7 — kept his looks to the end but was also "very, very smart," he said.  "From the time I first met Peter 41 years ago until our last meeting a few weeks ago, I felt a thrill whenever I saw him," the Nightline host said. "Not that many people have that charisma, that kind of animal magnetism that makes it difficult to focus on anybody else in the room."  Jennings, ABC's chief news anchor for more than 20 years, was also "famously attracted to women," Koppel said. "Even so, he only married four of them."  A handful of homeless people were also in the hall. Jennings' widow, Kayce, was startled recently when a homeless man approached to express sympathy for her loss; Jennings had befriended him during walks in Central Park.

Jennings frequently served meals to the homeless after leaving the ABC News studio and that night's broadcast of World News Tonight, said Mary Brosnahan Sullivan of the Coalition for the Homeless.  "The Peter I knew was somebody of concrete action," she said.  Personal remembrances were interspersed with music — a gospel choir, Canadian violinist Natalie MacMaster, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, singer Alison Krauss and a jazz combo featuring Wynton Marsalis. Jennings was an insatiable jazz fan.  "For Peter, jazz was more than just a form of music, it was a way of looking at life," Westin said.  A hopeless sentimentalist, Jennings was "the only person I knew who got weepy telling about his service on jury duty," ABC producer Tom Nagorski said.  Alda recalled Jennings as "complex and simple at the same time, knowledgeable and inquisitive, kind and tough at the same time, gracious and direct." He never left a social engagement without Jennings giving him a book; the last was a copy of the Constitution, he said.  Many of his ABC News colleagues have worn bracelets saying "what would Peter do?" since his death. For all the professional colleagues and anecdotes at the memorial, the pictures projected onstage showed an off-camera Jennings on family outings. Friends said his two children, Chris and Elizabeth, were his proudest accomplishments.  They were also the last to speak at the nearly two-hour remembrance.  "There is no way to express how much I miss my father," his son said. "Each day is, above all else, a day without him."  Broadcasting was the family business for Jennings. His father, Charles Jennings, was the first person to anchor a nightly national news program in Canada and later became head of the CBC's news division.  Peter Jennings had a Saturday morning radio show in Ottawa at age nine. He never completed high school or college, and began as a reporter at a radio station in Brockville, Ont. He quickly earned an anchor job at CTV.  Sent south to cover the Democratic national convention in 1964, the handsome, dashing correspondent was noticed by ABC's news president. Jennings was offered a reporting job and left Canada for New York.  He was named to the Order of Canada just days before he died.




The Tao of Degrassi

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jon Filson, Toronto Star

(Sep. 17, 2005) As Degrassi hits its 25th anniversary, there's finally enough evidence to crack The Degrassi Code.  Two new books, Kathryn Ellis's fan-friendly Degrassi Generations and the academically inclined Growing Up Degrassi, try to spell out the appeal of the Canadian drama's four incarnations — The Kids of Degrassi Street begat Degrassi Junior High, which begat Degrassi High and, after a 10-year hiatus, Degrassi: The Next GenerationThe Degrassi Story, a documentary hosted by Stefan Brogen (a.k.a. Snake), airing tonight at 7 p.m. on CTV, will shed further light on the success of the series before we're trapped under the spell again when the new season starts Monday.  By now, the show's vivid depiction of teenage joys and sorrows is familiar. But watch enough episodes and you start to see that Degrassi has become a world unto itself, with its own set of laws. It combines elements of the Bible, the story of Hercules, X-Men and Sex With Sue into every episode; it's a show that could teach life lessons to Ghandi.  Here are 25 clues to The Degrassi Code, a glimpse into the reasons why, after so long, the show continues to work so well. (The hard part is limiting the list to 25. There could easily have been another 100.)


Nowhere is the rule of cause and effect applied more rigorously than in the land of Degrassi. It's like the Old Testament set in a Canadian high school. You can't do anything dirty just for fun — you do it due to stress over almost getting shot by a lunatic, who was driven to insanity by bullies, who in turn ... it never ends.  Anyone who does whore around gets gonorrhea in the throat, an abortion, AIDS, cheated on, or a baby. Right, Emma, Manny, Dwayne, Caitlin and Spike?


Degrassi operates under Murphy's Law to the 1,000th power: whatever can go wrong, will go horribly wrong. That means if Wheels drives drunk, he must kill a baby. Not sure how Next Generation will top that: "Oh, did you hear? Spinner just ran over Kevin Smith!"


No one escapes the school without something horrific happening: a broken spine, a date rape, a laxative overdose. ... Bad fortune must be a graduation requirement. As an institution, Degrassi is more frightening than Oz.


Greek mythology encourages action and penance as a path to redemption — as does Degrassi.  Consider the myth of Hercules. Driven into a rage by his step-mom — cause and effect — Hercules kills his wife and children. He then learns a Valuable Life Lesson: Famicide is bad.  In Greek mythology, the implicit lesson always is, "When you screw up, get off your ass." So Hercules performs 12 labours, and afterwards, he can renew his life. Incidentally, Hercules was bisexual, which is the kind of thing Degrassi would use to keep things interesting.  Joey Jeremiah perseveres, and has overcome dyslexia, bullying, going broke, his own infidelity, the death of his wife, baldness ... and he'll get through the latest Caitlin dumping too. He's Degrassi's Hercules.


Dawson's Creek tackled student/teacher sex and friends-with-benefits, The O.C. has experimented with lesbianism, and Beverly Hills 90210 perfected having terrible 35-year-old actors play high school kids.  But only Degrassi has been keepin' it real. Teenagers play teenagers. And nothing that a teenager would do is off limits: when necrophilia becomes hip, Degrassi will be there first.


Napoleon Dynamite is a rambling movie, devoid of plot, with an absence of character development but filled with gargoylesque characters. The only similarity is that Napoleon looks like an older Bartholomew Bond from Kids of Degrassi Street, which kicked off the series in '82.  A quintessential moment in Napoleon Dynamite is when the hero is standing, doing nothing, in front of a row of lockers. A guy walks by, and for no apparent reason, slams him into the wall. This random act would be impossible on Degrassi.


While every young mutant at the X-Men academy has a special power, every young student on Degrassi has a secret shame. This can range from having a gay brother, having a learning disability, failing a grade, taking E and freaking out.... Every new episode reveals new shame.


On Degrassi, no one can be simultaneously good looking, well balanced and intelligent. On the flip side, no one is obviously unattractive, stupid and mean. Everyone gets two out of three. Eric Lindros is a perfect Degrassi kid: great talent, cut down by concussions.


It's a theatre rule: if you're directing a play, and you put a vase on a table on the stage, you'd better make use of that vase, or everyone is going to wonder, "Why the hell is that vase on the table?" instead of listening to your dialogue. This is why a car on Degrassi will a) break down or b) kill/maim someone. It can never just be used to get chips: Canadian television has no budget for red herrings.


Degrassi is as hard to get out of as Alcatraz, The Truman Show and Snake Pliskin's New York. And it may be hell, but elsewhere is worse.  Consider two characters who tried to flee: Wheels ran away, and ended up getting his blue-jeaned thigh squeezed by a randy man. Not brave enough to experiment with his sexuality, Wheels escaped, surprisingly, without getting oral gonorrhoea. On Next Generation, Craig did a disappearing act after he found out he was bipolar, had acne and his girlfriend thought he was a pain in the ass. (That's overkill — any two of those would have been enough). Then someone beat him up and stole his guitar.  Sometimes characters do leave, but generally it's in the off-season. Stephanie Kaye, who carried Degrassi before Caitlin got hot, actually left for Learning the Ropes, the worst Canadian show ever. Which means the Degrassi as hell theory applies — if you try to get out, you only end up worse off.  Actually, there is one way to truly escape: someone else can pay tenfold for your freedom. Where have you gone, Mr. Raditch? It only took a suicide to get him written off the show (and Rick, too).


Anyone who leaves the show must be replaced by someone hotter of the opposite sex. Dan Woods (aka Mr. Raditch) gets replaced by Melissa DiMarco as Ms Hatzilakos. This year, look for a major female character to depart the show, but a pretty-boy blond to join the cast.


What is Mr. Raditch to Degrassi, if not the equivalent of another loveable tough guy, Law & Order's Lennie Briscoe? Of all the characters, we know the least about Raditch, Woods notes in Degrassi Generations. Adults, no matter how ambiguously interesting, are never the focus.


DiMarco's addition to the cast allows Degrassi to get into a decent teacher/student sex storyline. The show has wimped out a couple of times: Paige and an intern played around on Next Generation, and Lucy almost hooked up with a lecherous learner on Degrassi High. But that's not the same as a willing teacher and a 14-year-old. C'mon, we want DiMarco to go Mary Kay Letourneau on us!


There's a great debate at over what hasn't been covered. Highlights:

·  Parental suicide: you know, it's the only way Joey Jeremiah could leave the show.

·  Prostitution and/or teen stripping: it's one thing to do something nasty for bracelets, Emma. But for cold, hard cash?


With most shows, you'd think of the best episodes ever (and there are classics: the school shooting, the abortion episode involving the twins, every second of School's Out). Since Degrassi's stock in trade is teen humiliation, you've got to pick the most painful moment: Joey naked? Dwayne's AIDS confession? Paige's rape? Wheels smooching with a twin? Spinner's reaction to Marco? Rick's got a gun?  The winner is: Arthur's wet dreams! Congrats to everyone involved for making a nation squirm.


No one will ever accuse Degrassi of being glib. So "You were f--king Tessa Campinelli!" from the movie School's Out, which capped the series in '92, takes the cake as the show's greatest line. It's worth noting that The O.C. came up with a gem in "Chrismukkah," and everyone on Dawson's Creek had horrifically large vocabularies. So it's a strange credit to Degrassi's writers that this is the only memorable line from the show. Not counting the immortal lyrics of the Zit Remedy's smash hit, that is.


Although Caitlin often gets the credit for the f-bomb, it was Snake who uttered the word for the first time on Canadian network TV, setting up her famous screech. Snake? I would have put money on Mr. Dressup too.


A lot of people want to beat up on Next Generation because the actors are prettier and it has better production values than a family vacation film. Only in Canada do we want TV to look crappier. But it's the healing powers of the new show that are its major flaw. If Kurt Cobain had just accepted that he was bipolar, maybe things would have turned out differently, Ellie tells Craig. Only Degrassi could get away with a line like that. Girls get pregnant, abortions, raped, and turn out fine. It's a twist on Degrassi as hell: each week you forget what happened, so you can be punished again. Sisyphus would approve.


It's a game if you live in the GTA: how many Degrassi actors have you seen? Everyone I know in T.O. has a story about meeting Joey/Lucy/BLT/Emma/Ellie/Toby and squealing, "Hey, you're on Degrassi!" only to have the actor wisely run away.


There was once even a great site — it got a lot of press a few years ago — in which civilians emailed, revealing where they saw a cast member in the GTA. (Sadly, it's been down for more than a year.)


The only character who wasn't updated on that fan site was Melanie. That's because the actress who played her, Sara Ballingall, was stalked by a crazed Australian. I know: it sounds like an episode.


AJ's Degrassi Universe at is worth a look (sadly, it only deals with the first generation). The "Erotic twins" page is worth it in itself, as are the web designer's rantings that Pat Mastroianni hasn't paid him for helping out with his own site,


Each year, the pressure to up the ante increases. This season, two of the three below are going to happen. Spot the fake:

·  Yet another student pulls a Spike and gets pregnant.
·  There's some hot, barely illegal lesbian action.
·  Sarah Polley guests stars in a very special episode about incest.


You might be surprised that the show's biggest star is not Joey. No, it's got to be Rachel Blanchard, who played Melanie Schlegel — who comes up with these names? — on Kids of Degrassi Street. Although best recalled as "Tif" in Road Trip, you can see her in Atom Egoyan's new movie, Where the Truth Lies, screening at the Toronto film festival, in which she orders a double sausage sandwich with Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth.  Worth mentioning: Neve Campbell never got a name, but was a wallflower in a few episodes.


Look for the group of actors on Next Generation to do a lot better than the earlier casts: the current lot were all actors before coming to Degrassi, not "discovered" in Toronto high schools and pressed into duty, like the original cast.  Many will continue to be actors after it ends. So enjoy Degrassi now — here's betting Emma et al. won't be back to play teacher when it's time for the third incarnation to roll around.  But in another 25 years, will Degrassi still be with us? Absolutely. Its impish, honest spirit has become ingrained. The show has been an ambassador for Canada around the world, shaped multiple generations of teens and twentysomethings, and taught us countless valuable life lessons.

May oral gonorrhea spare us all.




Nothing Sweet About Sugar Industry

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Matthew Hays, Special To The Star

(Sep. 20, 2005) Brian McKenna says the idea for his latest film struck him as he watched his children eat breakfast. The Montreal-based, award-winning documentary filmmaker has five kids, two of them under five. And seeing them dig into a box of cereal for their morning meal became downright unsettling.  "The issue of sugar becomes a very big one when you have children," McKenna says. "I've watched the children's consumption of sugar rise dramatically over the years."  McKenna soon began examining various aspects of the consumption, marketing and international trade of sugar, a substance we all consume daily. The veteran of the CBC flagship program The Fifth Estate was shocked to learn that many of the nastiest historical practices surrounding the sugar trade — including slavery — still exist today. And due to the brilliant marketing strategies of corporations, sugar has become a burgeoning bad habit among consumers, many of who are hooked on diets laced with excessive amounts of the sweet substance.  The result is Big Sugar, a two-part, multi-layered and intricate documentary treatment of the commodity's dark side. It's a film every bit as enlightening and disturbing as one would expect from McKenna, the man behind such controversial documentaries as The Valour and the Horror and Memoirs of Pierre TrudeauBig Sugar makes history contemporary, as it recounts the fact that in the 18th century, the sugar trade was essentially like the oil trade is today, influencing international politics and causing nations to go to war. But it also indicates the massive influence the sugar cartels continue to have.  McKenna says marketing strategies have created new and lucrative markets for sugar, especially soda pop, an average can of which contains six spoonfuls of sugar. Citing the rise in obesity and alarming leaps in rates of type 2 diabetes, Big Sugar, like Morgan Spurlock's Oscar-nominated Super Size Me, points to dangerous shifts in eating habits.  "For the first time in history, we have more overweight people in the world than hungry people. How did sugar get so powerful that they could basically put it in virtually all of the food we eat? It has become ubiquitous — sugar is even a key ingredient in cigarettes."

In order to examine the field conditions, McKenna recruited video journalist Mark Ellam to go undercover in the Dominican Republic, where he captured extensive footage of the workers living in squalor, deprived of a decent wage while doing gruelling work for long hours. Essentially, Ellam uncovers that the situation these workers face echoes the slavery that existed in the sugar plantations of the 18th century.  "We thought that era, in which slavery was practised, was over," says McKenna. "But it's not — it goes on, and it's appalling."  While Big Sugar provides evidence of rancid working conditions, McKenna says he's "not very big on victimology. I like to go after the perpetrators — if someone's being tortured, I like the idea of seeking out the torturers and holding them accountable."  McKenna sought out the powerful American billionaire Fanjul family, a Florida-based clan that owns a massive 97,000-hectare sugar plantation in the Dominican Republic, rife with dire working conditions and a dodgy environmental record. "The Fanjuls had come under criticism before and were supposed to have cleaned up their act. They haven't."  Big Sugar indicates the extent of political influence the wealthy sugar lobby has, making it clear that the Fanjul family has had direct access to both the Clinton and Bush administrations. A former Republican congressman, Dan Miller, appears to criticize congress's annual $1.4 billion (all figures U.S.) subsidies to the sugar industry.  And Big Sugar also takes us behind the scenes at the 2004 Geneva Summit on Obesity. There, a group of renowned nutritionists proposed that a recommendation of no more than 10 per cent sugar in a human's diet be drafted. That recommendation was an attempt by the UN to curb what has become a worldwide obesity crisis. It was dropped when the Bush administration threatened to yank $300 million in funding to the World Health Organization over the sugar issue.  But while illustrating just how dire things have become, McKenna shies away from creating a picture of hopelessness. "It's important to offer some hope to an audience," he says.  Big Sugar tells the story of Thomas Clarkson, the Cambridge University student who, in 1785, mobilized the Quakers to push for an end to slavery throughout the British Empire. "People can work together to call into question the practices of multinational cartels and those who make their trade on the backs of slavery. It is still possible to bring those people down and to beat them."  On another labour front, McKenna says the CBC lockout won't solve the CBC's problems. He asked the network to postpone airing Big Sugar, but the CBC refused.  Big Sugar airs tonight and next Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBC.




Tichina Arnold Strikes Again

Excerpt from - By Karu F. Daniels, The Ru Report

(Sept. 15, 2005) FUNNY GIRL: “Let me tell you, driving down one street and seeing five different billboards just blows my mind,” said Tichina Arnold, who is one of Black America’s most popular comedic actresses. The television veteran was referring to the massive marketing push that the UPN network is putting behind her latest project, the Chris Rock-helmed sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris,” which premieres on September 22 at 8 p.m.  “I’m really excited and I believe this show is going to lead up to everybody’s expectations and then some.”  Ms. Arnold, who was recently seen making a splash on the network’s popular “One On One” series, is riding another great wave in a career that has spanned more than two decades.  Making her debut at Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant-based Billie Holiday Theater during her adolescent years lead her on a path that would include a breakout performance in the star-studded musical film, “Little Shop Of Horrors” (in 1989) and an NAACP Image Award winning turn in the groundbreaking sitcom “Martin.”

For her latest foray on the tube, the Jamaica Queens native steps into the shoes of Rochelle, the title character’s sassy mother, who works part time in a small realty office and runs the household on a tight budget. “After I auditioned for the role and after I got it, I asked Chris how his mother was,” she explained about her approach to the role. “His life is really similar to my life so I kind of pulled from different people I know, like my mother and my aunt and my grandmother and try to remember how they spoke to me when I was little.   “Reading the script, I get a sense of memories when I was little and Chris’s age,” she continued. “I was a latchkey kid as well. I had to raise my little sister because both of my parents were working.  So I was bussed into an all Jewish school so its like I have a lot of stuff that I can relate to.” And as expected, Ms. Arnold steals every scene she’s featured in.

For the full story, go here:




Tyra Banks On Juggling Two Shows

Excerpt from

(Sept. 19, 2005) *When I announced that I wanted to do a talk show, a lot of people were very sceptical, which, of course, I can understand,” Tyra Banks said back in July during a press conference to promote her new syndicated talk show, which made its debut last week. “I’m very good at stepping outside of myself and looking at myself and seeing what I think other people perceive,” she said. “And they perceive a girl that has modeled half of her life and that’s pretty much it.  So this talk show’s going to allow people to see me, the true me, and the difficulties and the experiences I’ve gone through that are just like every other girl.” Banks, 31, rattled off a list of personal issues she’s experienced that allows her to identify with the show’s target demo of young women between age 25 and 35.  “I have had relationships that I have stayed in way too long.  I’m not talking about months, I’m talking about years,” she said. “I’ve been in emotionally abusive relationships. I’ve had serious drama with friends and family.  And every single day I’m going to be talking about those things on the show.” Speaking of keeping it real, the supermodel also revealed that she had recently spent over $1,000 at Target, mostly on clothes and shoes.

“You know Isaac Mizrahi has his whole new line, so I got a bunch of the shoes.  It’s important for me to be real with what I speak about on the show,” she justifies. “And I talk about being cheap, so I went there and brought my stylist along. We got a ton of pants, ton of blazers, tones of jewellery, tons of belts.  We didn’t’ get any underwear. I get that from somewhere else.” And that would be Victoria’s Secret, the women’s lingerie line which continues to employ Banks as a model and spokeswoman. The beauty’s short-lived music career is on the back burner, she says, because time constraints won’t allow her to give it the proper attention.  “I have a dream to sing and I know I have a decent voice, so I [was] going to do that.  But then this talk show came around and this is going to take up 100 percent of my time,” she said. “I can’t sing and be on tour and be doing radio tours and then do a talk show.  It just doesn’t work, so I had to make a choice.” The Victoria’s Secret obligations and “The Tyra Banks Show” must also share face time with her other television project “America’s Next Top Model,” premiering Wednesday night at 8 on UPN.   “With ‘Top Model’ and this [talk show], I actually filmed them at the same time,” she said. “It is a struggle but I’m a workaholic and a control freak and I’m not going to let either project slip through the cracks.  I don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none so I had to really decide what I wanted to do because you can’t do everything.  And so my focuses now are this talk show, “America’s Next Top Model” and my foundation, TZONE.

In fact, the time spent with TZONE, Tyra’s Los Angeles-based camp for young girls, has helped to hone her skills in interviewing the so-called “real people” who will grace her talk show stage.  “I was trained by crisis counsellors in how to dig in, what we call lemon squeezing, get to the meat of the matter and to the heart of it,” she said. “And I’m going to use all of those tips and the training sessions that I’ve had for the talk show.” Tyra says she’s also drawing upon her experience of hosting special segments of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”   “She let me do whatever topic I wanted to do,” said Banks. “And I did topics like sibling rivalry, teenage heartbreak and some fashion stuff, too.  I’m very cheap so we did a lot of shows about me being cheap.  She gave me a lot of advice along the way and she told me, actually, that she thinks that I can do this and to this job very well.  “Recently, she told me that she does think I’m going to be very successful and that my life is going to totally change.  She was like, ‘You think you’re famous as a supermodel and a lot of people are pulling at you?  Try being a daytime talk show host on TV every single day when people really feel like they know you and really feel like you’re changing their lives.’  And that’s what I want to do, but I’m not ready for what she’s talking about. She says to look out.”




Raymond's Final Hurrah At The Emmys

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Lynn Elber, Associated Press

(Sep. 19, 2005) LOS ANGELES - Everybody loved Raymond one more time, honouring the show Sunday as best comedy series for its final season. That denied the prize to newcomer Desperate Housewives while giving best drama honours to another first-year hit, Lost.  "All year long they've been asking us, `Do you think, now that your show is going, is this the end of the sitcom?"' said Everybody Loves Raymond executive producer Phil Rosenthal. "I want to say, yes. Beyond that, it's the end of laughing and the end of smiling."  Felicity Huffman and Patricia Arquette became first-time Emmy winners as they received lead actress honours while Tony Shalhoub and James Spader once again proved favourites in the best actor category.  "I've turned into one of those actresses and I'm sorry," Huffman, who plays an overwhelmed homemaker on ABC's Desperate Housewives, said as she teared up at the start of her acceptance speech.  She thanked "the women of Wisteria Lane," her co-stars Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher — also nominees in the category — and Eva Longoria.  Arquette, who plays a crime-solving psychic in NBC's Medium, won the best drama series actress award.  "I want to thank you for this honour, for putting me in this incredible company," she said. She offered her "respect and gratitude" to volunteers helping Hurricane Katrina victims and issued a prayer that soldiers in Iraq "come home safe and sound."  Shalhoub was named best actor in a comedy series for Monk.  "I just want to say there's always next year, except for Ray Romano," Shalhoub said jokingly of his fellow nominees.

Spader was named best dramatic actor for Boston Legal for his portrayal of a lawyer with an ethics problem — his second consecutive win.  "I'd like to thank the academy and I'd like to thank my mother and I'd like to thank my mother again, because I forgot to thank her last year," he said.  Other past Emmy favourites grabbed trophies at Sunday's ceremony, with Brad Garrett and Doris Roberts of Everybody Loves Raymond and William Shatner of Boston Legal receiving best supporting actor honours.  Garrett received his third Emmy for the CBS sitcom and Shatner received his second Emmy for the character of egotistical lawyer Denny Crane, which also had first been featured on The Practice.  "Oh, my gosh. ... Thank you so much," said Garrett, adding facetiously: "I have to dedicate this to Britney (Spears) and our baby. This is amazing."  Roberts appeared on stage with two grandsons at her side.  "This is the icing on the cake," she said, accepting her fourth trophy for her role as a meddling mother-in-law. "Nine wonderful years on Everybody Loves Raymond and to finish it off with this is wonderful."  Blythe Danner was named best supporting actress in a drama for Showtime's Huff.  "I think my husband Bruce Paltrow is up there, stirring this up for me," Danner said, making a sentimental reference to her late husband, a director, then turned to two pressing national issues.  Danner said Paltrow (their children include actress Gwyneth Paltrow) would want her to pay tribute to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and she issued a plea for the return of troops from Iraq.

Host Ellen DeGeneres paid brief tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The magnolia on her lapel was for them; presenters also were asked to wear the state flower of Louisiana and Mississippi. And Jon Stewart, a winner and a presenter, did a comedic bit that blasted the federal response to Katrina. But for the most part, the tragedy that had drawn Americans to their TV sets received scant attention as the ceremony's focus remained mainly on the awards.  The ceremony did include a tribute to late-night king Johnny Carson, the Tonight show host who died this year, with David Letterman remembering the man who entertained America and was mentor to so many comedians.  The ceremony also honoured network TV's veteran news anchors, the retired Dan Rather of CBS and Tom Brokaw of NBC and the late Peter Jennings of ABC. Rather and Brokaw drew a prolonged standing ovation when they took the stage.  For their supporting acting work in a miniseries or a movie, Paul Newman was honoured for Empire Falls and Jane Alexander for Warm Springs, both on HBO.  Hugh Jackman was honoured as best individual performance in a variety or music program for his work as host of the 58th annual Tony Awards.  The Daily Show With Jon Stewart repeated as best variety, music or comedy series and again won for writing.   The Amazing Race was named outstanding reality-competition program for the third time.  The directing and writing awards for a drama series were split between two new hit shows. Lost won the former and House took the latter.  Geoffrey Rush was honoured as best actor in a miniseries or movie for The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, HBO's dramatic take on the comic actor which also claimed writing and directing awards.  S. Epatha Merkerson was named best actress in a miniseries or movie for Lackawanna Blues, on HBO, and proceeded to charm the audience by announcing her acceptance speech, which she'd tucked into her bosom, had slipped down and couldn't be retrieved.  Desperate Housewives won the comedy series directing award while the writing trophy went to Fox's Arrested Development.  HBO's Warm Springs, which dramatized Franklin D. Roosevelt's battle against polio before becoming president, was named best TV movie. The best miniseries trophy went to PBS' The Lost Prince.  Earth, Wind & Fire kicked off the show at the Shrine Auditorium with a revamped version of its song September, paying tribute to the TV season past. The Black Eyed Peas jumped in with a few rap verses, including a Martha Stewart lyric: "Went to jail, got a show, that's the way entertainment goes."





Michael Moore Weighs In On CBC Strike

Source:  Canadian Press

(Sept. 16, 2005) Toronto — Famed American documentarian Michael Moore demanded Friday that the CBC drop plans to air his Academy Award-winning film, Bowling for Columbine, this weekend because of the month-long lockout at the public broadcaster. "I do not want my film being broadcast on the network unless it is willing to let its own workers back in to work and promises to bargain with them in good faith," Mr. Moore said in a statement Friday. "CBC has locked out its union workers, an action that is abhorrent to all who believe in the rights of people to collectively bargain. Why the great and honourable CBC is behaving like an American corporation is beyond me." Bowling for Columbine, an examination of America's obsession with guns and violence, is scheduled to air Sunday night on CBC. Mr. Moore won an Oscar for best documentary for the film in 2003. Mr. Moore used his acceptance speech at the Oscar ceremony as an opportunity to launch a broadside against U.S. President George W. Bush and his participation in the war in Iraq, which had been launched only a few days earlier. A spokesperson for the CBC could not immediately be reached for comment.







Things Are All Write In Brebner's World

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Michael Posner

(Sept. 20, 2005) Morwyn Brebner is on a definite roll. It's not the sort of roll you'd see at a casino craps table, although Las Vegas does provide the setting for her new play, The Optimists, opening tonight at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre. This is a playwright's roll -- and that translates into a rich stream of writing assignments and productions of a kind not generally found in Canada. Two theatres (in Calgary and Vancouver) are remounting her musical Little Mercies (with music by the Shaw Festival's Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli). She's writing what she calls a new rock musical with director Daniel Brooks for Toronto's Necessary Angel Theatre company. She's translated a French play for Nightword Theatre for later this season. And she's just finished a co-writing gig with Ken Finkleman and Ellen Vanstone, scripting six instalments of Finkleman's new miniseries for the CBC. And as a member of Tarragon's playwright-in-residence program, she's just finished wrapping up work on The Pessimists, a kind of companion piece to The Optimists. "I feel like this year I've just had the best jobs in the world," she says. "When it's going well, it's really exciting." Brebner's inventory of plays also includes Music for Contortionist and Liquor Guns Karate.

The Optimists, first mounted at Calgary's Theatre Junction in 2004, is directed by Eda Homes and stars Randy Hughson, Michael Healey, Holly Lewis and Sarah Orenstein. It had its origins in a 10-minute piece called Coupe de Ville, which Brebner wrote for the Tarragon's annual spring arts fair some years ago. Hughson, who plays Chic, a car salesman, also starred in Coupe. "I was so inspired by his performance that I thought perhaps there was something more there," Brebner, now 35, said recently. "But it took a long time for it to germinate. So I wrote the play thinking of Randy, and sometimes that helps -- writing for a specific actor." Later, she started thinking of Healey, a colleague on the playwright's residency, for the role of Doug, an oncologist who turns up to celebrate Chic's impending wedding to Teenie, a receptionist in Chic's auto dealership. Brebner herself served a brief stint in just such a showroom, after she graduated from Concordia University. It was, she says, "an interesting experience." She describes The Optimists as the triumph of hope over experience, adding that it was largely written "in secret," without the usual reading of the manuscript by various trusted associates. "I'm trying to cleave to the idea that you should only seek advice when you really have run out of your own ideas, because it is so tempting to want the assurance of another opinion. But I think that's not always productive. So I'll sometimes go until I literally have no idea what to do next." She is now thinking of changing the title of The Pessimists. "I'm not sure anyone will go see a play with that title," she said with a laugh. But Brebner said writing The Pessimists has convinced here that she is at heart an optimist.

"It's easy to be a pessimist when you're young," she said. "It's a way of refuting the orthodoxies of the world. But as you get a little older, it's just dire to stay in that place. It's like smoking. It's a young person's game." The eldest of six children, Brebner was born in Cardiff, Wales, and raised principally in Ottawa. The family, however, was not Welsh. Her first name is after a character in a book called Morwyn: or the Vengeance of God by John Cowper Powys, the subject of her late father's dissertation. After Concordia, Brebner enrolled at the National Theatre School's playwright's program. "I started writing play-like things in high school." She wrote a musical version of Candide ("because the world needs another"), and then some "very strange musicals for children." But she says she didn't start to find her voice until she entered the NTS program. "I think young writers often start with either their heart or their head, and you have to add the other thing to really become who you are. I was more in my head for sure. It took me all year to write seven pages. I wrote like a letter a day." At NTS, she wrote what she calls her first real play, Smacks of Happiness, which the Shaw Festival's Jackie Maxwell directed. She says Maxwell, the late Urjo Kareda and the NTS's Maureen Labonté have been significant mentors. "But I don't know why a person is one kind of writer as opposed to another," Brebner said. "I love the spoken word, the way people talk. And in the theatre it's new every time. You're always there at the moment of creation."

However, she still aspires to write a novel some day, although she says she has to write a few more short stories first. Her writing gig with Finkleman came about because she actually applied for the job. "Through my agent I went in for a little interview. The experience was so exhilarating -- to be around that kind of quickness all day. I've come out of it a better writer." The series is now in production and is expected to air next year. As for the future, Brebner notes that several European playwrights are starting to tackle deeper social issues by producing plays with larger casts -- a challenge she might want to tackle. So she's thinking big? "I'm optimistic!" The Optimists runs at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto to Oct. 23; call 416-531-1827.





Storm Tossed Les Miz Adds 16 Shows To Toronto Run

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Sep. 20, 2005) It's not just "One Day More" for Les Misérables in Toronto — it's actually two weeks.  Producer Cameron Mackintosh announced yesterday that the touring production will play an extra 16 shows here, closing on Nov. 5.  However, due to the beginning of rehearsals for Lord of The Rings, the mega-musical will move from the Princess of Wales Theatre to the Canon.  Les Misérables was scheduled to go next to New Orleans, but Hurricane Katrina made that impossible.  With the original six-week run fully sold out, David Mirvish offered the company a longer stay in Toronto.  It's the fifth time Les Misérables has played Toronto. The first production was in 1989 and starred Michael Burgess. The most recent was 1999, with Colm Wilkinson as the lead.  Tickets for the extended run at the Canon are available today at or at 416-872-1212.





Chappelle Sells ‘Block Party’ Doc

Excerpt from

(Sept. 16, 2005) *"Dave Chappelle's Block Party," a documentary that captures the comedian’s outdoor concert in Brooklyn featuring Kanye West and a reunion of The Fugees, was sold to Rogue Pictures, the genre arm of Universal Pictures' Focus Features label. Rogue beat out Paramount Pictures/MTV Films in a fierce bidding war during the Toronto International Film Festival. Sources close to the production tagged the complex deal at $7 million, with the film's major participants receiving a share of box office revenues as well, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "Block Party" was directed by Michel Gondry, an Oscar winner for the screenplay of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," which Focus Features released. About halfway through the movie's first public screening Monday night, Rogue began its aggressive pursuit of a deal for worldwide rights, including home video rights, according to the trade magazine.  "The movie is incredibly dynamic and tremendously entertaining," Rogue president David Linde said. "It's a new kind of entertainment for all kinds of audiences."

Block Party Whoops Up The Bids

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman, Entertainment Columnist

(Sep. 16, 2005) The producers of Dave Chappelle's Block Party hedged their bets by calling it a work in progress.  But when this hip-hop concert movie had its first public exposure on Monday evening at the Elgin Theatre in the special presentations program of the Toronto film festival, the audience went berserk.  At the end of the raucous screening, a bidding frenzy began.  Yesterday it ended with the news that Focus Features, the boutique wing of Universal, had bought the picture for a very hip $6.5 million (all figures U.S.).  It's the third festival sale within a few days in the $6-to-$7 million range. Earlier in the week, Fox Searchlight scooped up Thank You for Smoking and Trust the Man — both independently produced U.S. comedies — for similarly astronomical figures.  Until a few days ago, the record price for any film sold out of the Toronto festival was $5 million — paid by October Films in 1997 for the distribution rights to Robert Duvall's The Apostle.  This week, even as film buyers and sellers were beginning their pilgrimage to the airport, several major deals were finalized.

·  Bauer Martinez Distribution acquired Harsh Times for about $4 million. Directed by David Ayer, it stars Christian Bale as an unhinged Gulf War veteran and Freddy Rodriguez as his unemployed best friend.

·  Sony Picture Classics bought House of Sand — the story of three generations of women trapped in an isolated, destitute desert town in Brazil — for an undisclosed amount. Because of its difficult subject matter and the fact that it was made in Portuguese, it will give SPC a marketing challenge.

Focus was eager to continue its association with Michel Gondry, the director of Dave Chappelle's Block Party, who earned acclaim for his previous movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, also distributed by Focus.  In addition to the comedy of Chappelle, Block Party showcases live music from Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Dead Prez, Jill Scott and The Roots.





Aniston's Back On The Scene

Source: Associated Press

(Sept. 19, 2005) New York — Jennifer Aniston says she's doing well and ready to date. Aniston appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show Monday. In one of her first TV interviews since filing for divorce from Brad Pitt earlier this year, Aniston said, “I'm doing so well.” “It's the media that won't move on,” she said. “You just want to say, ‘Come on, people! Turn a page!”' When Winfrey asked Aniston if she was ready to “start the whole dating thing again,” the 36-year-old actress emphatically replied, “yes” — checking her watch as if to say it was time. Pitt has been romantically linked with Angelina Jolie, his co-star in the “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” film. Aniston said she's now in a good place: “I'm not sitting somewhere dwelling on the past. I'm not fretting or obsessing about something in the future.” She was clearly more at ease than during a recent Vanity Fair magazine interview in which she was emotional, but resilient. She said then she was “trying to pick up the pieces in the midst of this media circus.” Aniston joked that “if I had a dollar for every (self-help) book that was sent my way, I could have probably paid for this studio” — referring to the new set of Winfrey's show.







Three Simple Steps To Fat Loss

By Gary Matthews, eFitness Guest Columnist

(September 19, 2005) Being overweight has now moved from a social nuisance and domestic embarrassment to an official disease. The American Heart Association has announced obesity a dangerous epidemic and a major risk for heart disease. More than 70 percent of U.S. adults are overweight and that figure is rapidly increasing. But by following three simple steps you can keep from becoming a statistic. They are easy to follow and don't require a complete lifestyle change.

1. Strength Training -- Nowadays, you don't have to live in a gym to put on functional muscle. Short high intensity sessions performed once a week is all that is required to elevate the metabolism for total fat burning.

2. A Small Decrease in Daily Calories -- By decreasing your daily calories by a small amount, the weight loss is body fat alone and not lean tissue and water that is associated with crash diets. Remember fat accumulates on the body over a long period of time so it must come off slowly.

3. More Incidental Activity -- Instead of driving try walking; walk instead of taking elevators or escalators; take the stairs; and so on. Just keep moving throughout the day.

Let's have a look at the Three Steps in more detail below:

Strength Training

Between the ages of 20 and 70 the average person loses one quarter of his or her muscle mass. Running, cycling or other aerobic sports will not prevent this loss. This is very disturbing because the muscles are the engines of the body and every pound of muscle burns 100 calories every day.  By adding just 10 pounds of functional muscle to your body, you will burn off 60 pounds of fat over the next year. Providing you take in the same amount of calories it will keep burning those extra pounds year after year! The amount of fat the body can burn is directly related to the lean muscle your body has.  If you don't perform weight training to maintain your muscle tissue, you will lose half a pound of the fat burning tissue per year after the age of 20. In simpler terms, the more functional muscle you have on your body the more fat you will burn up.

Small Decrease in Daily Calories

Avoid obsessive dieting to rid the excess fat from your body. Low calorie restricted diets throw the body into starvation mode, with the body holding onto the fat and using precious muscle tissue for energy.  This would then lower the metabolism causing greater muscle loss and when the diet is broken the unwanted fat would not only return but actually increase because of the lowered metabolism.  The way around this is to cut your daily calorie intake by just a small amount. This will stop any starvation mechanisms from clicking in. You can do this by making up a seven-day eating plan and writing down every thing you eat for the week, and then work out the calories you have eaten with a calorie counter. Divide this figure by seven and you have your daily calorie value.  Decrease daily calories by a couple of hundred calories per day and no more. This will generate slow weight loss and the majority will be fat loss only. The daily calories should be consumed during the day with small frequent meals.  The calories should come from a balanced diet with the required amount of micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and the required amounts of fibre, fat, protein and carbohydrates.

More Incidental Activity

Fat is burned from the body when cells oxidize to release energy in the form of exercise. When the exercise is done slowly to moderately then the majority of energy is taken from the fat stores.  The key to effective aerobic training that burns off maximum fat is long-term consistency not intensity. It doesn’t matter if you run a mile, jog a mile or walk a mile you will burn exactly the same amount of calories.  The best exercise by far for the purpose of fat-loss is fast walking either indoors on the treadmill or outdoors. Other aerobic activities are the treadmill, bike, climber or any other training gear found in or out of the gym.  Start with 100 minutes of controlled incidental activity per week increasing this to 200 minutes a week or more. In all other activities try to move, move, move. Try parking the car further away from your destination so you can walk the extra distance, hide all your remote controls so you have to get up and change the channels manually. These all help burn those extra calories and body fat from your frame.

By incorporating these three simple fat loss steps into your everyday life you will not have to change your lifestyle or be subject to time constraints.








Ladies Night Thursdays
Hosted by Trent
Hotel Boutique Lounge
77 Peter Street, Main Floor
21 and over
Ladies free all night long
For Reservations:416.345.8585

EVENT PROFILE: Every Thursday night Hotel Boutique Lounge invite you to “Ladies Night” Hosted by: Trent, Canada’s top male model (  Hotel Boutique Lounge is an intimate night club, where you can party in style with Toronto’s most stunning ladies and classy men. Thursdays cater to women!  Ladies are free all night long, and there are free drink tickets, product gift bags, long stem red roes, and much more as giveaways.  Come and check out the newest Thursday night in Toronto!




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




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




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




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




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




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




Have a great week!  

Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment