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


Updated:  August 3, 2006

The time is here, the time is now - Caribana 2006!  Despite all the controversies, we all know that the parade will be a smash!  Welcome to those visiting our city for this unique cultural event.  Go catch your Caribana chuckle at Karnival Komedy Xplosion!  See below to get your tickets.  Island Soul this weekend at Harbourfront - check out the amazing line-up - something for everyone!  Check out all the details below.

Lots of Canadian news this week so check out all the categories.  Have a read and a scroll!  Tons of news including Canadian content in MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, THEATRE NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  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 EVENTSWant to be removed from the distribution, click REMOVE.




Debut and Toronto Coach Sam Mitchell Presents the Karnival Komedy Xplosion

Source: Debut Sports & Entertainment

Join one of Canada’s fastest rising urban comics, Jay Martin as he hosts the Karnival Komedy Xplosion.   Presented by Debut Sports & Entertainment, the show will feature Don DC Curry and Earthquake.  DC Curry is best known for his memorable portrayal of “Uncle Elroy” in the hits Next Friday and Friday after Next and his reign as BET’s comedian of the year. Earthquake attracted fans during his time on the Def Comedy Jam Circuit and BET’s Comic View.  Special guest hosts include Caribbean comedians Marc Trinidad and Jean Paul. There will be two chances to catch this comedy extravaganza, with shows on Friday, August 4 and Sunday, August 6, 2006.  

Be sure to catch special performances by Juno award winning hip hop artist
Choclair and the hot new Canadian R&B artist Karl Wolf!  Choclair and Karl Wolf will perform Wolf’s hit that is currently burning up the airwaves, “Desensitize,” and will also debut Choclair’s new single featuring Karl Wolf, “Weekend.”  Look out for Choclair’s much anticipated album, “Flagship”, hitting stores this fall and be sure to pick up Karl Wolf’s debut release “Face Behind The Face.”

*Featuring performances by Choclair & Karl Wolf*
Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts
5040 Yonge Street, Toronto

Friday, August 4, 2006
8:00 p.m.

Sunday, August 6, 2006
2:00 p.m.

Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts
5040 Yonge Street
Friday, August 4-, 2006 - 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 6, 2006- 2:00 p.m.
For event information please visit
Or call Kirk Brooks at (416) 213-0123 ext 555
To purchase tickets, please visit or

::ISLAND SOUL - AUGUST 4 - 7, 2006::

For the full schedule, please click the logo above!  All Island Soul events will be held at 235 Queens Quay West, 416-973-4000.

Check out Island Soul at
Harbourfront Centre!!  Perhaps you’d like an alternative to the other Caribana festivities and I can’t think of a better place!  Now, look carefully as there are some of our favourite people here including performances by legends Mighty Sparrow and Roy Cape as well as Blessed, Big Black Lincoln, Ibadan and also food by Carl Cassell from Irie Food Joint.  Not an all inclusive list but only an indication of all the jammin’ going down at Harbourfront Centre!  Sample the Caribbean's finest artistic, cultural and culinary offerings! Watch fire dancers, savour the flavour of roti and jerk at cooking demos, then work it off to the island rhythms of reggae, soca, calypso and at RastaFest! Island Soul features highlights from African Caribbean, Latin Caribbean, French Caribbean, Chinese Caribbean and Rasta cultures...


Black Market

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Friday August 4, 8pm

Led by master percussionist Robelcys Martinez, celebrated Cuban timba band Black Market delivers high-energy Cuban dance music incorporating classical, nueva trova, latin jazz, funk and soul music styles.

The Mighty Sparrow

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Friday August 4, 9:30pm

This legendary Calypsonian has over 70 albums to his credit. Able to sing any type of song - opera, pop, jazz, gospel and ballads in several languages - he’s an 11 time Calypso Monarch and has won the King of Kings Competition in Trinidad.

Blessed with special guest Lindo P

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Saturday August 5, 8pm

In 2002, Blessed won a Juno for his break-out hit "Love (African Woman)" and has become Canada's hottest reggae artist, winning award after award including a second Juno in 2006. Past performances include gigs with Kardinal Offishall, Lauryn Hill, Gregory Isaacs and Sizzla.

Lindo P is Toronto's "buzz" artist to watch. Currently a member of the Black Jays, a group of top Toronto urban artists led by Kardinal Offishall, he's also been a part of notable reggae sound crews like Lone Star, Red Flame and Heat Wave, and has played with world renowned DJ group Stone Love.

Tony Rebel

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Saturday August 5, 9:30pm

A talented Rastafarianmusician and producer who didn't just smash the charts in Jamaica, New York, Canada and Miami with his hits Fresh Vegetable & If Jah (Is Standing by my Side), and his collaboration with Swade, but also founded Rebel Salute, one of the most popular music festivals in Jamaica!

Aba Shaka and The Ark of The Covenant Sound with Superheavy Reggae

Brigantine Room
Saturday August 5, 11pm

This one’s for the crate diggers! UK bred, Atlanta-based Imhotep aka Aba Shaka is known as the “Keeper of the Ark” for his unmatched collection of rare 1970s music and his selection, delivery and mastery on the turntables. Alongside him the Superheavy Reggae Crew selectors unite fans of modern roots and old time reggae with horn improvisations courtesy of I-sax.


Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Sunday August 6, 2pm
A leading figure in the contemporary Haitian Creole movement and compas scene, his music blends influences ranging from Dominican meringue to Trinidadian calypso and American jazz and swing. Now Magazine describes his music as “the pop patois crossover joint Paul Simon would have loved to make.”

St. James Town Youth Steel Orchestra
Pan Workshop

Brigantine Room
Sunday August 6, 4:30pm

The talented youths from the St. James Town Youth Steel Orchestra teach you how to play the steel pan in this 30 minute one-on-one session. A rare opportunity to try your hand at this amazing instrument!
Limited to 20 participants.

St. James Town Youth Steel Orchestra

Ann Tindal Lawn
Sunday August 6, 3pm

This steel band, composed of dedicated youths who practice regularly in an after-school program, is a Caribana regular and a favourite at festivals around Toronto.


Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Sunday August 6, 3:30pm

Known as the "People's Band", Afropan Steelband is Toronto's oldest and most successful community steelband. Led by Earl La Pierre, these amazing musicians are Caribana's perennial "Best Steelband" champions!

Pan Fantasy

Ann Tindal Lawn
Sunday August 6, 5:30pm

Formed in 1986 as part of a North York non-profit organization, over the past 20 years the band has grown from an intimate group of players to a collective of vibrant and versatile musicians who took 1st place in the 2005 Pan Alive competition.

Big Black Lincoln

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Sunday August 6, 8pm


Miss Lou To Be Buried August 9


(Aug. 1, 2006)
Louise Bennett Coverley, Better Known As "Miss Lou", is to be given an official funeral next week, Wednesday, August 9, At The Coke Methodist Church In Kingston, Starting At 2:00 pm.

Miss Lou who died at age 86 last week in Canada, will be buried at National Heroes Park in the section reserved for cultural icons. Tributes will be given by the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, while the eulogy will be presented by Professor Rex Nettleford. The body will be available for viewing at the National Arena on August 7 and 8, with performances planned for the Arena in her honour on the night of August 8. No decision has yet been taken on when her husband's remains will be reinterred, but it will be prior to her funeral, Minister of Information and Development Senator Colin Campbell told reporters yesterday. Campbell told reporters yesterday that Cabinet was briefed on the arrangements for Miss Lou's funeral, including a memorial service in Toronto on Thursday, which will be attended by a Jamaican delegation headed by Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Housing, Water, Transport and Works. The delegation will also include Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Dr Wykeham McNeill and Opposition Member of Parliament Olivia "Babsy' Grange. Miss Lou's body and the remains of her husband Eric, whose death preceded hers, will both be flown home on August 5 at 4.20 pm and will be met by the Minister of Tourism and Culture Aloun Assamba, along with representatives of various cultural organisations. Exclusive - Interview With Miss Lou

By Marcia Davidson (Posted Sunday, July 1, 2001)

Miss Lou, the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley O.M., O.J., finally has her day! September 7 has officially been declared, by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke, to be 'Miss Lou Day'. The day marks the works of the esteemed first lady of comedy in promoting, celebrating, and exploring Jamaican culture. It also marks the day of her birth. Born in 1919 in Kingston, Jamaica, to a widowed dressmaker, Miss Lou's artistic learnings, creativity, and love for performance were nurtured by her mother and grandmother. Miss Lou recalls that as early as age seven, she delighted in telling stories and performing for playmates and family members. Clap yuhself, Miss Lou!   We here at have declared May 2003 as Miss Lou Month. will continue to root for Miss Lou in becoming our next National Heroine.   Louise Bennett, Caribbean cultural icon, linguist and poet, has been writing and performing using the Jamaican Creole since the 1950s. For a long time, despite the fact that her work gained limited favour among the working class and some intellectuals, her writings did not appear in the important Jamaican anthology   Focus in the 1940s to the 1960s, and the Jamaica Poetry League ignored her. In 1962, she was included in the Independence Anthology of Jamaican Literature, but not in the section for poetry. It took the social and political upheaval of the 1970s for academics and others to accept Louise Bennett as a guru of the Jamaican Creole. She received the Order of Jamaica in 1974.

Louise Bennett had a programme called Miss Lou's Views on Jamaican JBC Radio in the 1970s. One correspondent wrote in a daily newspaper that such a programme should be scrapped because it tended to perpetuate ignorance in Jamaicans. Though Louise Bennett has sought to foster love and respect for the Jamaican dialect, she has never advocated that Standard English be abandoned. She argued that for far too long it was considered not respectable to use the dialect, because there was a social stigma attached to the kind of person who used it. She added that many people still did not accept that for many Caribbean people, there were many things best said in the language of the folk. ("Bennett on Bennett" 101).   The debate as to the rightful place that Caribbean dialects should play in the life of the people is ongoing and contentious. Many people mostly the middle-class, seem unable to accept the proposition that Caribbean people may be armed with both Standard English and the Creole.

Marcia: Our dear Miss Lou, please accept our sympathies here at on the passing of Mr. Eric Coverley. Jamaica Labrish has been your most requested book to date. Are there any other books published by you? People are always asking about where to buy tapes/cds with your work, where would you direct them to start looking for your works?
Miss Lou: Yes there are other books currently in print Selected Poems, Aunty Roachy Seh, Anancy and Ms. Lou. Books out of print - Songs from Pantomine published in 1949, Laugh with Louise 1962, Editor for Jamaican Mother Goose, and others published by Pioneer Press which was owned by The Gleaner Company. Sangsters Book Store is the publisher, and carries the books.
Marcia: Most of us grow up seeing you on Ring Ding on JBC, are there any tapings of this programme available for purchasing?
Miss Lou: To my understanding when I asked about it, the tapes were scrubbed and recorded over with other programs. None to my knowledge were preserved, so there are none available for sale.
Marcia: We are indebted to you for bringing pride to the Jamaican Patois and giving it international recognition. Who in your estimation does a great imitation of you? Is this person one of your protégés?
Miss Lou: Without hesitation I will say Faith D’Aguilar. She has me down pat . She once fooled my late husband when he heard her voice over a loud speaker, and thought I had returned from a performance overseas without telling him. I could not say she was my protégé.
Marcia: Let us play "What If"; What if you were asked to rewrite the National Anthem of Jamaica, what would you do differently to the words?
Miss Lou: Nothing, they are just fine.
Marcia: What does it mean when you say, "Jack Mandora mi nuh choose none" at the end of one of your stories?
Miss Lou: Each Anancy story ends with "Jack Mandora mi noh choose none", which means "take no responsibility for the story I have told". ("Jack Mandora -Keeper of Heavens door. Me noh choose none").  It is not of my choosing.
Marcia: How did you and the late Mr. Ranny Williams start out on radio? Are any of those programmes available for sale?
Miss Lou: The Lou and Ranny Show was the first radio sit-com and was the show that opened JBC when it started. We were approached by the Matalons to do a comedy programme for JBC radio. Ranny was an outstanding comedian.
Marcia: How many pantomimes did you appear in and did Ranny Williams appear in any of the earlier pantomimes?
Miss Lou: I did about twenty-five, starting in 1943. I have lost count. Ranny and Lee Gordon (Amos and Andy) appeared as comic relief, front of curtain in Jack and the Bean Stalk 1941 and Babes in the Woods 1942 and the third Pantomine written by Vera Bell a dramatization from Soliday and the Wicked Bird 1943, and it was the first one that was really Jamaican. Ranny's first leading role was "Anancy" in Busha Bluebeard in 1949
Marcia: As our First Lady of Comedy, are there any comedians that you get a good laugh from?
Miss Lou: Nuff, Nuff too many to mention.
Marcia: Who are some of the people who influenced you?
Miss Lou: Too many to mention but two are Philip Sherlock Former Head master of Wolmers Boys School, vice chancellor of the UWI, and one of the founding fathers of UWI. He published a book on Anancy and was very interested in Folklore and was the head of Extra Mural Studies at the University of The West Indies. An outstanding man in the field of Education. A great Jamaican. Also Ashley Clark  a musician, he started the idea of Christmas Morning concerts in his music store on King Street. He was always interested in my writings and cultural activities and we were working together to produce a dictionary of Jamaican Folk Speech. I have no idea what happened to the manuscript
Marcia: Do you have an official website? Do you think the Internet is a helpful tool to showcase your work to the younger generation?
Miss Lou: Yes, I do it is currently under construction but it has a few current photos. The address is When it is finished it will have my biography, general information and some of my works.
Marcia: What is your philosophy? Do you have a favourite quote?
Miss Lou: "Treat all with respect"
Teck kin-teet kibba heart bun - Use a smile to disguise your sorrow.
Dark night got peeny-wally - Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining.
Howdy-an-Tenky bruk no square - Caring and Gratitude create harmony.
Marcia: Thank you from all of us here at for being the only poet to really tell the truth about our society in Jamaica through our own language. Walk good Miss Lou, and may good duppy always walk with you. Walk good.

Russell Peters Outsourced Comedy DVD/CD Set For August 29 Release

Source:  Warner Music

(Aug. 2, 2006) No race is safe when Toronto native, Russell Peters steps on stage. Even less so on his new live DVD and CD Russell Peters Outsourced, taped in San Francisco earlier this year. Russell’s quick wit and uncanny mimicry of all races and cultures has audiences rolling in aisles all over the world. Now fans can enjoy a riotous Russell Peters performance in their own living rooms on August 29th – when the DVD and CD are released through Warner Brothers Records. The South Asian comedian sets himself up for embarrassing tales of growing up Indian in a multicultural neighbourhood. On the advice of a white friend, Russell threatens to call child services when he’s about be spanked. In response, his dad warns a young Russell that, if he does, “somebody gonna get a hurt real bad!!!”   If you’re white, watch out! If you’re Korean, Jamaican, Chinese, Nigerian, Indian, Canadian or even Pakistani – Russell’s gonna get you with his sweet smile and sharp tongue. “A little Dave Chappelle, a little Dave Attell,” as the Houston Press describes him, Russell doesn’t discriminate when it comes to taunting his audience.

Nominated for four Gemini Awards, Russell was the first South Asian to headline at New York City’s Apollo Theatre. He appeared at Montreal’s "Just For Laughs" Comedy Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Comedy Festival. His television appearances include: BBC-TV’s David Frost Comedy Festival, CBC-TV's Comics, two Comedy Now shows and specials on The Comedy Network. Russell is currently in talks to produce a sitcom with a major US network and will appear next year in “The Take”, a movie starring Rosie Perez and John Leguizamo.  To support the August 29th release of Russell Peters Outsourced, Russell will be appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live TONIGHT on ABC (Check local listings. In Toronto: CITY-TV at 12:06AM), and there will be a series of Canadian performances.

Russell Peters Canadian Tour Dates:

September 8, 2006                Brampton, ON The Rose Theatre
September 9, 2006                Ottawa, ON         Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Cabaret
September 10, 2006              Ottawa, ON         Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Cabaret
September 12, 2006              Montreal, QC    Place Des Artes

Am I Damaging My Voice?

By Donna Flynn,

Perhaps you have sensed that something is wrong with your voice but are unable to identify the problem. You may feel soreness when singing or afterwards. You are able to sing notes some days but unable to sing those same notes other days. You may have lost a portion of your range completely. What is normal and what is not? Let me tell you.

When your throat feels tight or hoarse it is because incorrect vocal cord adjustments occur when moving from one note to the next. Support is lacking, such as breath, to produce sound correctly. Power, fullness and style are attempted by shouting, pushing or forcing the sound into place. Your body is tight when singing causing your throat to become restricted. This produces vocal cord damage. You may grow nodes on your vocal cords; lose a portion of your voice or all of it, permanently. The main culprit is a lack of balance between the individual components necessary for singing. These include your mental thoughts while singing, correct posture, breath, tone production, vocal cord adjustments, understanding chest and head registers, resonant sound, and creative expression used to create your distinct style.

Many singers focus on scales only. Doing scales that are redundant or isolated from other areas needing focus will result in some areas being over-developed while other areas remain undeveloped. Yes, scales are extremely important and need to be practiced on a regular basis. These simple routine exercises will greatly improve the quality of your voice. When first beginning to sing, focus may be on scales in order to develop precision when producing sound and to make the act of singing look and feel effortless. Once mastered, this allows you to get the most results with the least amount of effort. If scales, however, are the only thing you are doing, you are wasting your time. You need to know how to activate and build every aspect of singing and deactivate everything that is not used to produce the desired sound. This may appear to be common sense but with conflicting information available, most find it confusing. You must maintain a balance between each component in order to reach your full singing potential in a safe and healthy manner.

Those who experience damage often rely on improper instruction, copy singing techniques from other singers whose training is not appropriate for them, or worse, are self-teaching themselves through CD’s and books. None of these methods allow you to identify your specific problem areas. They provide general information for all voice types whether they are male or female, sing high or low, soft or loud etc. They use buzz words and terms making their explanations difficult to understand and apply. While CD’s and books can greatly enhance the learning process, the opposite is true if they are not used correctly. If you are relying on these methods, you are playing a dangerous game. While it may be common for your throat to feel strained while singing in groups, such as choirs, it is not normal. This happens when you cannot hear yourself clearly and attempt to be heard by singing over other voices or instruments. You may adjust your singing style in order to blend with the group. To alleviate this, work on your material individually allowing imbalances that are occurring and unable to be heard by the conductor due to the group environment to be corrected before bad habits form and damage takes place.

So what is normal? When you learn to sing in a way different from what you are used to you will engage muscles that feel unfamiliar. If you currently sing with tension in the throat you could feel the jaw muscles as you learn to redirect the sound. This may happen during class time which is focused and intense. This is normal and safe when monitored by a professional. If, however, the tension continues when practicing on your own you may be causing damage. To help relieve this, practice for shorter periods of time, such as 15 minute intervals. Sing at a softer volume until your voice is conditioned allowing you to sing louder. If you hold tension in your body you will project that tension to new areas as you learn to sing correctly. This is normal but difficult to overcome for those who sing primarily from their intellect. The tension will be elevated once a solid foundation for singing has been achieved. If your throat feels dry it may be due to the constant flow of air passing through the vocal cords and windpipe. Drink lots of water to minimize this. If it persists, see a doctor. At times you may feel you are not progressing or progressing as quickly as you would like. This is normal for most singers. You will hit plateaus where additional work is needed to break through the block. As your technique improves these temporary problems will be eliminated.

As you can see, there is nothing complicated about understanding voice damage. Having a voice that sounds good is different from having a voice that is healthy and that functions correctly. Many singers give up just as they begin to make noticeable progress and fall back into old harmful habits. They hold onto outdated ideas and resist breaking through barriers that will elevate them to a higher level. You can achieve all your singing goals and build a stronger and healthier voice in the process. Don’t give up!


Former Canadian Idol Finalists Release CD As Members Of New Group Braided

Source:  Canadian Press - By Carlye Malchuk

(July 30, 2006) TORONTO (CP) - There's more than one way to cash in on your Canadian Idol fame.  Three former Idol contestants are releasing their debut CD on Tuesday as members of the new group
Braided.  The trio - Casey LeBlanc, 18, of Nackawic, N.B., Ashley Leitao, 19, of Burnaby, B.C., and Amber Fleury, 27, of Calgary - are all top-10 finalists from last season's show, which crowned Melissa O'Neil as the winner.  The group was the idea of producer and Idol accompanist Mark Lalama, who LeBlanc said contacted them after their Idol contracts were over about putting out an album.  "When he pitched us the idea it was hard not to like, get excited about it," said Leitao when the group was in Toronto last week to promote the CD and make an appearance on Idol.  The trio reunited in Fenwick, Ont., in March to record the album at Lalama's studio, and say they're incredibly happy with the result.  "There's something for everyone on the album," said LeBlanc. "There's pop-ish songs that you'll hear on the radio and things like that, and there's more ... almost spiritual songs."

In mid-June the first single, A Little Bit Closer, off the album was released across the country.  The album includes four songs with the three singing together, as well as others where they have solos.  "I think Mark (Lalama)'s main concern with doing it that way is that he just really wanted Canada to get to know each of us as a person, what each of our individual style is all about," said Fleury.  "It shows that as a group, we have a really great blend, but as solo artists, we're also very strong."  The album also includes Leitao in a duet with figure skating champion Elvis Stojko, who she says is working on an album of his own.  As for the group's name, the women say it symbolizes the three coming together from across the country and braiding into one.  Canadian Idol host Ben Mulroney, speaking after this season's Top 10 performance, said he's happy that the show provides opportunities for singers like the Braided trio.  "When I hear that someone gets in a play or forms a new band or two years later does something interesting, I'm really happy for them because (Canadian Idol) was a vehicle to help them," he said.  "We're not promising super-stardom, we're promising access, and what they do with that opportunity is entirely up to them."  Past Idol finalists who've continued working in the music industry include last year's runner-up Rex Goudie, whose recent album Under the Lights was nominated for two 2006 Juno Awards. Theresa Sokyrka, the second-place contestant from the show's second season, was recently signed to MapleMusic Recordings. Her second solo album, Something Is Expected, will be in stores Aug. 29.

Usher Gives Group Their One Chance

Source: Amina Elshahawi , ThinkTank Marketing, ,  

(July 28, 2006)  For Courtney, Jon, Michael and Rob,
One Chance is the perfect name for a foursome that has invested their heart and soul into their musical dreams and now stands on the verge of savouring the fruits of their labour.  “This name really suits us,” says Jon Gordon, 20. “One Chance means we only have one life and this is our one dream and you’ve only got once chance to do it. We feel like all we need is one chance for people to hear us and they’ll love us.”  Bound by their love of music and their undeniable talent, these four Chicago natives came together three years ago and overcame all the obstacles that littered their road to success. After a few detours and more than a few roadblocks, the guys found themselves face to face with the biggest R&B superstar in the world and, much to their delight, he liked what he saw. “Two years ago we got the opportunity to showcase for Usher,” Jon recalls. “He could tell that we were already polished. We had been working so hard for so long and it must have shown on stage because we were chosen by Usher over several other acts who showcased for him and his staff that day.”  Usher signed One Chance to his label, US Records, and began the diligent task of developing them as only Usher can do. The multi-platinum, Grammy-winning artist said he saw reflections of himself in the group. "As an artist, I know what it takes to be successful,” Usher says. “I know what it takes to make a mark and have longevity. As a label owner, I want my artists to possess those same qualities. One Chance does. I have no doubt that these guys have what it takes to not only live up to the great R&B legends of the past, but to have the same kind of respect and longevity that many of those greats still enjoy today."

There’s no question that One Chance in next in a long lineage of great R&B male groups. “We got a mean swagger,” says 21-year-old Courtney Vantrease, describing the group’s uniqueness. “It’s a Chicago swagger but it’s real and we’ve got things that you will remember from previous groups, like little things you might remember from Jodeci and Boyz II Men.”  Jon adds, “One thing that will set us apart from other groups is that most of them are missing something. Some of them can dance but aren’t that strong vocally or maybe they can sing but they’re not solid entertainers but with this group we cover the whole spectrum. We’re not trying to be something we’re not. We can sing. For real. Take away all the music, all the beats, you can even take away the microphones and you will hear natural voices blending in harmony.”  Hearing them sing ‘for real’ is the treat listeners get when they lend an ear to any of the songs featured on the group’s debut CD.  The lead single, “Look At Her,” (scroll down to listen to it) featuring D4L’s Fabo, serves up a refreshing new style called Snap & B. “It’s something new we’re trying,” explains Courtney. “I think we’re probably the first guy group to do this. The snap movement is really strong right now so we just decided to incorporate some R&B into it. It’s just all about giving people something fresh.” Produced by Chocolate Star and Soundz, the song conjures up images of a club scene and a group of men eyeing a special lady who has captivated them with her sexy dance moves.  The guys covet a special lady yet again in the melodic midtempo joint “Private,” featuring Akon, and extol her virtues on vocally superior “Don’t Stop.”

Shondrae aka Bangladesh (Ludacris, 8Ball & MJG) takes production credits on “Emotional.” Notes member Rob Brent, 19, “I think it’s one of our hottest songs and it shows the versatility of the group.” Adds Jon, “The song is about a guy whose girl is about to leave him and he doesn’t know what to do so he runs after her and becomes very emotional.”  The group’s music creates various nuances. The songs are alternately bright and fun and dark and pensive. “We have some really bright voices. We have a couple of dark records but for the most part it’s a young feel, youthful but not too young and not too old either. It’s right down the middle.”  Adds Jon’s brother Michael, 22, “Some of the songs address situations that young people are going through in relationships and in life in general.”  Just as their songs run the gamut of styles and emotions, the personalities of the group’s members and the talent they possess covers all the bases.  “Rob is the young guy with the non-stop dancing, the popping and locking all over the stage,” offers Jon. “He has the spunk and a voice that sounds like he’s got auto tune on it. He’s the guy that likes to riff and run you down the street.”  “Jon’s the spokesman of the group,” says Courtney. “He’s the gel that keeps everything together. He keeps our business tight, keeps us practicing and on stage he’s the improviser and the one in the group who has the most hip hop flavour.”  “Courtney is the quiet, smooth entertainer,” chimes in Rob. “He’s young but grown and sexy too. Out of all of us he has that in-between look that can go in either direction.”  “And Mike is that sexy, fly dude,” notes Courtney. “Mike is the one that’ll take his shirt off on stage and go wild. He’s like Jekyll and Hyde.”

The mutual love and respect that the members of One Chance have for each other have sustained them through some very trying times over the years, times that often found them chasing down one elusive opportunity after another.  “It’s been a real rough grind,” recalls Courtney. “We left home, sold CDs to rent a van to go to New York and went to different record labels to perform. We all stayed in one hotel room or when we didn’t have enough money we all slept in the van.” Undaunted, the group packed up the Gordon brothers’ not-too-dependable van and hit the road to Atlanta for Usher’s showcase. “Even after going through ups and downs we took it upon ourselves to drive down to Atlanta where we slept on the floor in a cold studio, going daily without eating. It’s been a struggle but we’ve gotta say it’s been a blessing and it allows us to appreciate everything that’s going to come to us even more.”

Paul Simon Delivers Plenty Of Surprises

Source:  Hollywood Reporter - By Erik Pedersen, Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

(July 29, 2006) LOS ANGELES - For all the accolades
Paul Simon has racked up in the past 40 years, he remains a master of the set list. Concert songs are carefully chosen -- lyrically and/or musically -- to weave a pattern of thought and feelings among his audience while Simon and a typically ace band tweak classic arrangements. Such was the case Friday night as Simon presented beloved oldies and tastes of his fine new album to a receptive, all-ages outdoor crowd at the Pacific Amphitheater. Some song combinations were more overt, even playful, as when disparate aspects of motherhood were nodded at with an early run of "Mrs. Robinson" -- complete with an extended, teasing intro -- "Loves Me Like a Rock" and "That Was Your Mother." But other planned presentations were subtle, like the positioning of the lovely "Wartime Prayers," from Simon's fine new Warner Bros. album "Surprise," his first in six years. With the song's title alone making a statement, Simon strategically placed it in the encore after fan favourite "The Boxer," when he knew he had the crowd's attention. That emphasis on having the new song heard was apparent given its opening verse: "Prayers offered in times of peace are silent conversations/Appeals for love or love's release in private invocations," it begins. "But all that is changed now." Wartime prayers, he sings a few lines later, are for "every family scattered and broken." It wasn't a political declaration but a human one. And it was deliberately followed by the comforting message of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which was shorn of its huge sound on record and delivered as a gentle, even pacifying signal of hope. Simon sidestepped trying to replicate Art Garfunkel's soaring climactic vocal, instead moving to a slightly uptempo groove as the song ebbed.

Since Simon is touring with a band half the size of the one he employed on his 2000 solo jaunt, some of the night's material begged for a bigger sound. That was especially true for the band's multiple trips to the album "Graceland," the Grammy-winning album that turns 20 this summer. The title track was rather plodding, while "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" sorely missed Ladysmith Black Mambazo's stirring vocals. It did, however, feature bursts of growling simultaneous sax and grumbling thumps of Bakithi Kumalo's bass. As usual, none of the evening's material sounded exactly like the records. Anchored by dual drummers Steve Gadd and Robin DiMaggio, the band redirected familiar arrangements into a travelogue of world music. African and Cuban rhythms were juxtaposed with bayou zydeco and some good ol' New York coffeehouse folk. Simon was in laid-back voice, adding a little early-career falsetto to "Loves Me Like a Rock" and delivering a gentle version of "The Only Living Boy in New York." Two years removed from his triumphant reunion tour with Garfunkel, Simon continues to challenge audiences and himself rather than simply reciting his Hall of Fame catalogue. It's that dedication to forward thinking that continues to makes him a viable songwriter and musician -- and makes his concerts such gems.

At 60, Sony Focuses On Rebuilding Brand, Restructuring

Source:  Canadian Press - By Yuri Kageyama

(July 30, 2006) TOKYO (AP) - Three years ago,
Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) launched the Qualia line of luxury gadgets that included a tiny $3,300-US digital camera and a $13,000-US audio console that automatically centred a compact disc regardless of how carelessly it was tossed into the player.  Problem was, Sony engineers seemed more enamoured with the extravagantly priced technology than consumers were, and the products meant to highlight Sony's fine-tuned prowess received little interest beyond the initial gee-whiz.  The gadgets were a sign of a growing gap between Sony creations and consumer sensibilities at the company that brought the world the Walkman portable music player. The company, which turned 60 this year, appeared to be losing touch with its customers.  "Sony used to be a company that had superior technology and cool design and created products that other companies didn't have," said Akihiko Jojima, author of Sony's Sickness. "Sony has become merely a brand for brand's sake."  A turnaround effort led by CEO Howard Stringer, who a year ago became the first foreigner to head the Japanese company, is showing early signs of paying off. Stringer - the former head of Sony's U.S. unit and previously a top executive at CBS - adopted a two-pronged strategy of downsizing and focusing on growth areas.  It's no simple task. Sony has sprawling operations spanning everything from electronics and video games to Hollywood movies, financial services and a music joint venture.  Stringer says Sony can't allow itself to grow obsolete.  "Any time a company is 60 years old, it has to say to itself: Are the advantages of age outweighed by the weaknesses, and the weaknesses are that you get stuck in your ways and you get conservative? The opportunities to reinvent yourself are the ones that have to be taken," Stringer said. "You adapt or you die."

One of his first moves was to pull the plug on the Qualia line.  He also reversed some decisions of his predecessor Nobuyuki Idei, a marketing expert who helped raise Sony's stature but never achieved the lucrative "synergy" he had repeatedly promised would come between electronics and the movie, music and other content businesses.  Stringer has ordered 10,000 job cuts by March 2008, of which 9,600 have already occurred. That amounts to about six per cent of Sony's global payroll of 158,500.  Sony also has sold off $975 million US of assets and lowered its stake in a Japanese retail chain that sells candy, cosmetics and other trinkets unrelated to electronics. It also scrapped its Aibo pet robot division and stopped making plasma TVs.  In February, the company stopped promoting retired executives to advisory positions, a common practice at Japanese companies. It removed 45 advisers who served a symbolic purpose but required a chauffeur-driven car.  Jojima and other analysts say Sony is faring better under Stringer. But more time is needed to assess whether the Tokyo-based company can make a full recovery to its heyday that ran from the 1960s through the 1980s, when it scored hits with the transistor radio, Walkman, videotape recorder, compact disc, colour TV and other pioneering products.  There have been some successes.  On Thursday, Sony posted a $276-million-US profit for its fiscal first quarter, compared with a $65.2-million-US loss last year. In the most recent period, it credited strong sales of liquid-crystal display TVs, digital cameras, camcorders and laptops.  Even its electronics division, which accounts for more than two-thirds of overall revenue, returned to the black. Still, the unit hasn't posted a profit for a full year since fiscal 2002. And Sony shares are worth only about half of what they were five years ago.

Sony president Ryoji Chubachi, who heads the electronics business, believes that TVs and portable music players are two products in which Sony must show it's a winner.  "If we lose in either category, it's inevitable that people are going to have doubts about Sony," he said.  Sony has fallen behind Apple Computer Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPod in portable digital music players: Sony has sold one-fifth as many players as the 58 million iPods that consumers have snapped up.  A book on Sony by Japan's top business daily, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, said the success of the iPod and the iTunes download service made Sony's brand power "a thing of the past."  "As an outsider to the music industry, Apple acted extremely quickly," according to the book Sony Versus Sony.  "Sony, which had its own music division, worried about possible damage to CD sales and could not act as quickly."  One error Sony made was sticking to a format for music files called ATRAC3, which protected against illicit copying. Sony only belatedly adapted to the more widely used MP3 file format. The iPod played MP3s from its inception.  Although Sony won't say much more about its plans for future music players, Stringer is giving more say to software designers and requiring greater interaction among the various teams developing products.  Late last year, Sony brought Tim Schaaff from Apple and appointed him senior vice-president of Sony's software development. Schaaff oversaw interactive media at Apple and the development of Apple's QuickTime media player for computers.  Sony has scored in one category, the TV, with new flat-panel models that have commanded top global market share in the category during some periods.  A venture for liquid crystal displays Sony set up with Samsung Electronics of South Korea in 2004 has helped Sony play catch-up and boost profits, but it also demonstrated Sony had fallen too behind to go at it alone.

Chubachi acknowledged Sony had grown overly confident of its cathode-ray tube TV technology, failing to see how slimmer TVs were "an entirely new category."  In fact, Sony had grown arrogant about designing products that anticipated, rather than followed, consumer tastes, Chubachi said. Some colleagues were appalled when he started a basic customer-satisfaction push within the ranks.  The original Walkman, which sent on sale in 1979, was long heralded as an innovative product that was ahead of its time.  But over the years, Sony grew complacent about its ability to come up with cutting-edge products and lost sight of the consumer.  "Producing a hit without listening to customers is inefficient, and we may even strike out," said Chubachi.

Heart To Heart With Vickie Winans

Excerpt from - By Mona Austin

(July 28, 2006)  Entertainers often use their audiences for therapy, divulging all kinds of interesting details about their personal lives.  For twenty years, the elegant
Vickie Winans has been the patient on stage, sharing her thoughts with hilarity on everything from hair weave to heftiness. But with her commanding voice she always encourages her fans to leave their problems at the feet of Dr. Jesus as she does.  On the helm of her latest release, Vickie Winans is the happiest she has ever been. Ironically, she has waded through rivers of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual strain reach the mountain top of personal and professional comfort where she now stands—happiness.  She is as free as they come and about what other people think, frankly my dear, she doesn’t have time to mince words.  “Woman to Woman: Songs of Life” is the gospel diva’s 10 year d’nouement to pain.  Suffice it to say, it has no correlation to or inspiration from R&B singer Shirley Brown’s dramatic “Woman to Woman,” where the wife confronts her husband’s lover in a phone call.  But ‘Songs of Life’ is determined to be the balm for such wives and other women who have walked in the shoes of heartache and heartbreak, sickness, rejection, disappointment.   Dedicated to her 82-year old mother Mattie Bowman, the CD is a fusion of traditional gospel, R&B, and smooth jazz that is a bundle of inspiration. Taking over ten years to complete, it is two volumes her most extensive musical work to date, thirty-three tracks (half recorded live, half in studio).   I “girl talk-ed” with Winans recently and discussed her latest work:

Mona Austin:  You must be proud of yourself.

Vickie Winans:  It was a lot of work. (Referring to an earlier EUR report about the CD release) I got so tickled when you said ‘she lost sleep over this one.

MA: What I love the most about what you’ve done is that you were pouring your heart out for the sake of other women.

VW: Yes.

MA: What experiences from your personal life inspired you to dedicate it to women? (And I know it’s not just for women, but to women.)

VW: Because we hurt heavy.  There’s a song I sing, ‘who knows how she’s hurting, how she’s falling apart.  Who knows the pain inside her broken heart?  Who sees behind the smile she wears . . .Jesus is the one who knows.’  That’s about eighty percent of women because we have to perpetrate and be something that we’re not.  We hurt so bad and sometimes we can’t even say it, so I wrote songs for those times when you can’t speak you can always put in my CD and soothe yourself with a song. 

MA: Did you write most of the songs on the album?

VW: No, but I selected every single song on the album.  I’ve been through divorce twice and sickness and I’ve been evicted, convicted you name it I’ve been through it.  I told somebody I’ve been re-possessed, possessed, I just have them screaming on stage.  But anyway, I’ve written songs that would have healed anything I would have gone through.  So obviously it can heal someone else and it’s for men too.

MA: What was your experience that caused you the most pain that you feel women can identify with?

VW:  It probably is divorce.  Even a lot of people don’t get divorced, but the pain they go through in marriage when they can’t seem to get healed.  It is the worst pain in the world to be in a relationship--

MA: Are you currently married?

VW: Oh, yeah.  I’m happy now.

MA: I’ve been to a few concerts and over the last few years you’ve just been beaming.

VW: Yes. Because I’m very, very happy now.  I’ve been married—it’ll be three years November 24.

MA: Who is this lucky gentleman?

VW: Joe McLemore and he’s doing a duet with me on my CD. (Track #18m Disc 1).

MA: So he’s a singer?

VW: Yeah, not like me [sic professionally], but he can sing.

MA: Did you meet in the business?

VW:  I met him at a Mars auction.  He was buying a keyboard.

MA: Hasn’t it been about 3 years since you turned 50 and had this huge celebration?

VW: Yep.  I’ll be 53 in October.

MA: So that was a good year.

VW:  Yes it was. I got married the next month after my birthday celebration at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

MA: Have you been celebrating ever since.

VW: Yes. I’m just so happy. . .

MA: What do you like in a man Vickie Winans?

VW: Somebody who can and will say their sorry.  Most men won’t say that because most men don’t feel they do things wrong or that they can offend you or hurt you.

Part 2 of this interview will resume in next week’s Gospel EUR.  However, you can listen to song samples from the new project and attempt to win it at

Fantasia Frees Herself From 19 Entertainment

Excerpt from

(August 1, 2006) *As Lifetime prepares to premiere its film about the life of Fantasia Barrino this month, the "American Idol" champ has reportedly made moves to cut the final string tying her to the popular Fox show by splitting with 19 Entertainment, the management company that also owns the program. Meanwhile "Idol" producers are already up in arms about a suggestion in Fantasia’s movie that they wanted her off the show because her rocky past – including a teen pregnancy – made for a poor role model. "Certainly, under no circumstances was she ever approached to be talked out of taking part in (the show)," "Idol" executive producer Ken Warwick told the New York Post. "We knew she had a baby right from day one, and she was always strongly tipped to win the competition because she was so good. I can absolutely refute that nothing was done, or even remotely suggested to her that she shouldn't take part in the competition. It's a complete fabrication." According to the Post, "The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life is Not a Fairy Tale" opens with the then 19-year-old ‘Tasia exiting the "Idol" stage and running into producers, who confront her with Internet postings questioning her eligibility to compete. "It's absolutely and totally untrue," Warwick says of the scene. "I'm the executive producer, Nigel [Lythgoe] is the other executive producer and nobody – to my knowledge – would have said anything like that to her."

Barrino’s camp had no comment for the New York Post. But, at the Television Critics Association Press Tour last month, she spoke briefly about being told of the show’s Internet message board, which she said contained postings that criticized her presence on the show. "They wouldn’t allow us to go on the Internet," she said during the panel for her Lifetime film. "You weren’t supposed to go on the Internet because they didn’t want you to see what other people were saying about you. But people from home could go on the Internet, and they would call [me] and say, ‘Listen, let me tell you what they are saying.  You know, they are saying that you are not good for kids, and you are not a good role model, and how could you be this, and how could you be that?’ And I could have given up then. But I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to tough it out. I’m going to fight it to the end.  I’m going to take it as far as I can take it.’" Meanwhile, columnist Roger Friedman is reporting that Fantasia is the latest "Idol" alumnae to run screaming from 19 Entertainment, the company which produces the show and is said to force heavy contracts on top "Idol" finalists.  Former contestants Clay Aiken, Mario Vasquez and Kelly Clarkson resorted to hiring high-powered attorneys to get out of their ironclad contracts with 19 Entertainment. Most of their discontent had to do with the company’s manager, Simon Fuller. "Simon doesn’t really care," a source told Friedman Monday. "He encourages everyone to leave as soon as they can. Because of the contract, he still makes money from them anyway."

Fantasia, 22, did not seem angry or disgruntled under 19 Entertainment’s guidance during last month’s TCA panel. When a reporter asked her point blank about the pressures of being held contractually to the company, her response was: "It’s not like that at all.  Even after you win, you choose to stay or you choose to go.  And I choose to stay because they take good care of me, and we’ve done a lot of things.  If I don’t want to do [something], I can say ‘No.’ …After you win it, it’s your train.  You take it and you ride it how you want to ride it."  Friedman says Fantasia is currently considering other offers from several new advisors after splitting with 19.  "The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life is Not a Fairy Tale" airs in a special three-night premiere: Saturday, August 19 at 9 p.m.; Sunday, August 20 at 8 p.m. and Monday, August 21 at 9 p.m. on Lifetime Television. Her second album is due out on J Records in October.  

Thwarted By Stage Fright, A Resilient Emigre Is Now The Star In A Thornhill Showroom

Excerpt from
The Toronto Star - John Terauds, Classical Music Writer

(Jul. 19, 2006) No one has to tell
Jeannie Kim about life's unpredictable twists and turns. Ambition, displacement and surprise endings are common among the thousands of immigrant tales in the cultural magnet that is Toronto. Yet this story is uniquely her own. It's been 10 years since Kim set foot on Canadian soil from Seoul, South Korea, brandishing a music degree and designs on a career as a concert pianist. Today she is the No. 1 salesperson at a Thornhill new car showroom, having put dreams of a music career aside for the time being, and channelling her creativity into her Christian faith. The word "plucky" was invented for people like Kim. Whenever adversity has knocked her down, she has dusted herself off and soldiered on. It took courage to leave her homeland and to choose a career as a classical musician, which entails hours of hard work every day with no guarantee of a payoff. It took even more boldness to re-evaluate her life and try something completely different. Kim came to Toronto in 1996 with a six-month visitor's visa via Bangalore, India, where she had spent five months teaching music at a Christian school. "I knew the moment I arrived that this is the place I want to live," she says. As is the case with most recent arrivals, Kim headed straight to her ethnic community for help. The forthright, bubbly 30-something tells of walking into a convenience store at Bloor and Christie Sts. in Koreatown at a time when "I had no money, no place to stay." She chatted with the store owner's wife, who revealed that she was looking for a piano teacher for her daughter. "I prayed that I would find a room to rent in a house that had a piano," says Kim. That came to pass, courtesy of a Korean family in Don Mills. Soon she was playing piano for Sunday services in a local Korean church.

Kim also auditioned for the Royal Conservatory of Music's Glenn Gould Professional School. She was accepted and awarded a scholarship, but first she needed to return to Seoul to apply for a student visa. The start of the school year came, September of 1997, but the visa didn't. So Kim retrieved her passport from the authorities, bought a plane ticket and "prayed for 10 hours" as her flight crossed the Pacific Ocean to Vancouver. In an episode bordering on fiction, a sympathetic, music-loving immigration officer at the Vancouver airport issued a student visa on the spot when she saw Kim's conservatory acceptance and scholarship letters. After several years of school, practising for eight hours a day and waitressing eight-hour shifts at a Japanese restaurant, teaching piano to children and playing at her church, Kim finally got her big local break with the Toronto Philharmonia. Music director Kerry Stratton invited her to play with the orchestra in October 2004, at the George Weston Recital Hall. "It was Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor (K. 466). It's such a wonderful piece of music," says Kim wistfully. But she was so petrified at her first rehearsal with the Philharmonia that she couldn't come in on her first cue. She finally got through the piece on the morning of the performance day, but her nerves were shot. Stratton describes Kim as "very gifted" and as "a passionate music lover," and repeats how difficult life is for anyone looking for a career in classical music. But for Kim (and so many others), performing was all that mattered — until nerves got the better of her.

It was time to reconsider her options. "I thought I should either become a missionary or make money," Kim recalls. Music degrees don't count for much in the working world, but Kim's enterprising energy triumphed over her inexperience. She was browsing the showroom at Thornhill Hyundai for a new car. She had spent several minutes chatting with the manager when he asked if she might be interested in working there. "I told him I didn't know anything about cars, or selling anything, but he said they would give me some training," says Kim. Game for an adventure, she started at the dealership in January 2005. In February, she sold 17 cars. "My manager says he had never seen someone sell so many cars in their second month." Now she's the top salesperson and has a salaried assistant. Kim shrugs and smiles. "If you can go through piano, you can go through anything." She intends to return to piano full-time one day, "perhaps when I'm 50 or 55." Music is still a big part of her daily life. "I don't have a TV at home, but I do have a new Yamaha C3 grand piano," she says, beaming. Weekdays, the Downsview resident, soon to be a Canadian citizen, rises at 4:30 to play a 5:30 a.m. service (6:30 a.m. on Saturdays) at the 3,000-member The Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Rexdale. On Sundays, she plays for a Meeting House service held at Yorkdale Mall. "I have my own concert every morning," she says.

Gert: Members, Meet The Band

Excerpt from
The Toronto Star - Michael Mckinnon, Special To The Star

(Aug. 1, 2006) My band rocks — well, rocks the Internet anyway. We're
Gert, a six-member crew that writes and records regularly and hopes to finish our first album by the end of the year. The bonus? We do it all without leaving our own homes. Until last weekend, Gert had never been in the same room together — we don't all live in the same country, let alone the same city — and most of us hadn't even met. Just as the Internet has made working remotely commonplace, so has it paved the way for remote rocking, and it's proven to be a great way for a family man like me to relive my high-school glory days. It started a year ago when Rich Brewer from Boston, Mass., Rob Cosh from Ottawa, Des McKinney from Mississauga, Tom Skillman from Campbell River, B.C., fellow Torontonian Paul Gosse and myself were six lonely solo musicians "hanging out" at, the home of a thriving music community and free songwriting competition. Once a week, a song title is posted there (or two, or three, or in one case, 11), and amateur musicians have about a week to write, record and submit an mp3 version of their song based on that title. (Recent titles have included "Stairway to the Moon" and "Covered in Bugs." "Toronto Star" was even a title in 2003.) The songs are posted, votes are cast and the winner earns nothing more than a few days' bragging rights. Not a penny changes hands. Through the site, the six of us got the idea to collaborate on a song. Online collaborations weren't rare at Song Fight — I had already entered a couple of fights with Skillman, the only guy I'd previously known. But Gert was a supergroup, six musicians rocking out with thousands of kilometres between us. The result was greater than we'd hoped; Gert has won six of the eight Song Fights we've entered.

Like the other guys, I started in bands the traditional way. You know the deal: a group of guys with enormous egos get together to make the kind of music they think is going to change the world, or at least help them meet chicks. Instead of actually writing songs, they butt heads over who sings what and who plays which solo, and eventually break up over the much-celebrated "creative differences." Not so with Gert. One of us records a structure, usually a guitar track, and posts it to our website forum. The rest of us download it, and use the forum to bat around ideas as to who wants to do what. (With six singers, sound engineers and guitarists, and a handful of bassists, drummers and keyboardists among us, our roles change from song to song.) And then, unlike other bands, we're alone in our own homes to rock the mic, bang the drums or carve out the lead guitar. Each imports that original structure into his computer-based studio and records his part in sync; those parts are saved as WAV files and posted to Cosh's server to be downloaded by whoever is mixing that week. "We're the love child of a four-track recorder and the Internet," jokes McKinney, who has variously lent his keyboard, guitar, bass and vocal skills to Gert, and has even mixed a tune or two. "Online collaboration like this couldn't have happened 10, or even five years ago. Gert is a defining example of what's possible given the communications and technology advancements of the last decade." Does online collaborating rival the feeling of rocking out in the garage, the six of us disturbing the neighbours? No, not even close. But with families, careers and lives, it's the only way it could work for most of us. I don't have the luxury of blowing off an afternoon a week to make noise with the boys, but I can find an hour here or there on my own to make Gert work. If I want to record my guitar on Sunday at 7 a.m. while my 3-year-old watches cartoons, I can. What other rock band would allow that kind of schedule?

Still, after more than a year of playing together online, we decided to give the "old-fashioned way" a shot at McKinney's Mississauga home. Of course, there was a good chance it would go horribly. Would personalities clash when we met? Musicians can be a difficult lot — it's the egos, you know — and having a buffer of a few thousand kilometres can be nice sometimes. "When I play on a Gert tune, I can feel the band in the room with me, but I think remote communication has been the key for it working for Gert," Skillman said in the days leading up to last weekend. When we finally crammed ourselves into McKinney's basement to see if we could actually play our songs together, we couldn't — not at first. None of us had actually played those songs again since recording them up to a year ago. But the riffs and rhythms came back quickly. By Sunday afternoon we were tighter than we could have hoped, six sweaty guys making noise the way it was supposed to be made. "This is more fun than should be legal," McKinney said, and he was right. I felt 18 again. But even more important is that we got along. They're the best musicians I've ever worked with, but they're more than that: guys with great senses of humour, families and careers. We weren't strangers at all, but friends. Now we're talking about having an annual "Gert Together." Who knows if that will happen? One thing is for sure: next time I rock the mic in the basement by myself, it's going to be a lot easier to picture my friends in Gert there with me.

Gert recorded the jam, of course; mp3s can be found at 

The Girl Just Wants To Have ... 'As Much Sex As You Can Get'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(Aug. 2, 2006) "How you doing, doll?" eighties punk/pop princess
Cyndi Lauper booms in her heavy New York twang when she picks up the phone. Clearly, at 53, the spiky-haired Lauper -- in Toronto this week to coach the Canadian Idol contestants through some of the top songs of her decade -- hasn't lost her sizable spunk. Asked the secret to a long life (and career), the singer doesn't skip a beat: "Yoga, physical exercise, eating well and sex. Lots of sex. As much sex as you can get." Last weekend, Lauper, whose chart toppers include Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Time After Time, bunked down at the Idol mansion, where she spent eight hours (they toiled until 1 a.m.) working with each of the teenagers vying for the Idol crown. The New York-bred singer said, "Each one needed a different thing, and I talked to them together and said I can only offer you what I know -- my style, my vocals. "I studied vocal therapy, so I showed them that," added Lauper, who recently starred on Broadway in Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera and is currently promoting her latest CD, The Body Acoustic, which features nine reworked songs and three new ones.

"I also told them if they want to do a Bon Jovi song, they have to listen to the original and study all the interpretations that came after. You always want to hear what it was before you do your thing, so you understand what you're singing. Then you go and do your own interpretation." Lauper, whose clanging jewellery delayed the recording of We Are the World in January, 1985, said what impressed her most about the Idol wannabes was "their willingness to learn. "It was very touching to see them so young and trying so hard. This [show] is a great opportunity for them because we no longer have a club scene. There's nowhere for emerging talent to perform in front of people and get their skills up." Lauper, who began her career 16 years ago with a band named Blue Angel before striking out solo in 1983, appeared live on Canadian Idol last night, employing her considerable lungs to belt out a solo called Shine from her latest album, as well as her classic Time After Time. In her heyday, Lauper -- like Madonna -- was a female pop icon. In the ensuing years, her star power has been hugely eclipsed by Madonna's, but Lauper bears her no ill will.  "I think Madonna's fantastic," she says. "I love the artwork on her [videos and concerts]. I love the fact that she works two hours [a day] just on her body. She's a dancer and a singer. And a dancer has to be strong. "I think Madonna has a lot of sex too," says Lauper, cracking up.

No Shortcuts, Lauper Tells Idols

Excerpt from
The Toronto Star - Jen Gerson, Entertainment Reporter

(Aug. 1, 2006) She was the '80s poster girl for mainstreamed punk to pop and tonight on CTV
Cyndi Lauper will teach the eight remaining Canadian Idol contestants how to party like it's 1984. The wild-eyed icon known for her fashion sense — considered edgy and outlandish even in the '80s — and superpop singles ("Girls Just Want To Have Fun" and "Time After Time") spared a chunk of her schedule while in Toronto to explain what it feels like to mentor wannabes who probably weren't alive when she peaked.

Q. Dude, why are you on Canadian Idol?

A. Cause, well, I don't know. It was suggested, and I thought, well, one of the really frustrating things watching the show was that nobody really tells the kids, like `Okay, you want to do this? Adjust that. Did you ever see this? Look at that. Study this' and you know? Of course, I'm radical. They have a bit of a radical person telling them what to do. I thought I could really help them in doing something, as opposed to kind of help and not help. You know?

Q. What sage words of Idoldom do you have to impart to these kids?

A. That there's many chapters in your life and this is just one of them, and this is on your way. A lot of times if you visualize a door and you're in a line to get through. You have just got to stay on that line because, eventually, it's going to be your turn to walk through. And you have to think like that. So if somebody tells you `No you can't,' that's just that person. You're still in line. You just go around them, find a way around. That's what you always have to do. Find a way around to get to where you gotta go. And learn as much as you can.

Q. Have you seen the (contestants)? Have you talked to them so far yet?

A. I worked with them relentlessly on Saturday. On Saturday I worked with them from 3 (p.m.) to 1 a.m. I can't even remember.

Q. And do any of these kids have any hope?

A. They all have talent. They're young. The problem a lot of the time is that when we were coming up we had clubs to work in and those are the things that make music scenes come alive. There's no replacement for experience onstage. None. But if somebody with experience onstage can show you how to overcome the things that you need to overcome, well that's a few short steps. And I think all these kids have something. It depends, they're all young, on how they're going to approach it. I showed them as many things as I could show them. I didn't have days with them, I had maybe an hour with each one.
And there were eight of them.

Q. Some of these kids weren't even, or were just being born, when you were huge. Did they all recognize the greatness that is Cyndi Lauper?

A. That's weird. That's weird to say. They knew my work, but I wouldn't want them to think like that when I was trying to tell them something because then that would be too intimidating for them.

Q. What kind of things did you work on, specifically, with them?

A. Everyone had a different thing. Mostly to put their voice into their body. To use their body and their voice together, because with the use of your body, your voice becomes more powerful.

Q. What do you think about the Canadian Idol, or the American Idol phenomena versus the old-fashioned way of getting noticed?

A. There're no shortcuts, but right now, the way the industry is, it's the venue that they have. So that's what they're using.... Also, (this show offers) familiar melodies. In times like these, in troubled times, people want to hear familiar melodies and comforting things.

Q. Do you think it's producing the same authenticity in talent?

A. Essentially yeah. I mean, a singer's a singer and you either give it all or you don't.... You see, here's the thing, everybody's got a different story to tell. You can't forget the individual and you can't forget the fact that each individual, all of us, has our own perception, because we know our own story. If you don't tell your story, then your story's going to be lost to the world forever, because each person is an individual, so imagine all those stories to tell. That's why, when a singer sings a song, whether they wrote it or not, they have to be very specific in what story they're telling and lose themselves to find themselves in that moment, and speak their truth. And that's what makes a great singer and storyteller.

Q. I think those are all my questions, unless you have anything you'd like to add.

A. Uh, gosh, no. I hope I didn't get too deep on any of these things for you.

1980s Pop Princess Cyndi Lauper Dispenses Advice To Canadian Idols

Source:  Canadian Press - By Brett Popplewell

(July 31, 2006) TORONTO (CP) -
Cyndi Lauper was in town to give advice to the Canadian Idols over the weekend, but the '80s diva says she probably wouldn't have done well on the show.  "I don't know if someone was a radical, how (the audience and judges) would feel. I probably would have done terrible," she said.  Lauper, 53, was staying at the Idol mansion to workshop with the contestants as they prepare for '80s themed episodes to air Monday and Tuesday nights.  "I can only tell them things that I know, show them how I do it, and that's all I can do," said a dyed-blond Lauper in her thick New York accent.  Lauper is just the latest singer to dispense tips to the Idols; they have already worked with Nelly Furtado and are also set to perform for former Styx singer Dennis DeYoung and country star Martina McBride. But while Lauper says she'll show the contestants her way of doing things, she's not sure how her style will resonate with the Idol audience.  "I don't know that my personal vision is what they need to achieve, because each one of them is different, and my ideas are radical. I don't do conservative stuff, and their challenge is that some of it has to be conservative because they're going right down the mainstream," she said.  Lauper shot to fame in the early '80s as pop music's punk-inspired rebel princess with hits like Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Time After Time.

Last fall, she released The Body Acoustic, which included unplugged versions of her hits as well as a few new tunes.  Some of the contestants are younger than Lauper's best-known songs, but she says that makes her feel more flattered than old. And although it's been a couple of decades since she was riding high on the pop charts, she says time hasn't taken the wind out of her pipes.  "I never thought this, but as you get older you have much more energy."  Lauper said she appreciates shows like Canadian Idol because they help train wannabe musicians.  "I think nowadays, with the state of the industry...I think this show is one of the few places that young performers can actually get a kick-start," she said.  The singer will be staying with the Idols in the basement of the mansion until Tuesday when she will perform a number on the show. But don't expect her to lose sleep over any possible remarks from the Idol judges.  "Judges be damned. You know what, everybody's going to judge you. And some people hate you and some people love you, and it doesn't matter," she said.

Tupac Shakur Legacy: An Interactive Biography

Source: Versa Manos / Gorgeous PR / /  

(August 1, 2006)   Tupac Shakur Legacy is far more than just a book. As a unique and special tribute to the memory of Tupac’s irreplaceable genius, becker & mayar and Atria Books have put together a hands-on, interactive, portable museum that’s not just a portrait of the artist, but a knowing, revealing glimpse into the world – and mind – of one of hip-hop’s most revered poets. Jamal Joseph, the author of the book, worked closely with Shakur’s aunt, Gloria Cox, and Molly Monjauze, one of Tupac’s best friends and trusted confident of the Shakur family, are to reveal a personal side to Tupac that’s rarely been seen by the public. Both Cox and Monjauze are story consultants on the book and worked for years to gather Tupac’s never before seen personal articles for inclusion in the book. "My sister, Afeni Shakur and I feel it’s time to share his personal memorabilia with his ardent fans who are so devoted and are constantly seeking a deeper connection to him. This book gives them a glimpse into Tupac’s life through his eyes, in a different more special way," says Tupac’s aunt and Afeni Shakur’s sister, Gloria Cox. Using recovered and removable exact replicas of documents, including everything from a 1984 playbill for a Harlem festival featuring a very young Shakur to the infamous handwritten contract with Death Row Records, TUPAC SHAKUR LEGACY stands alone in revealing the superstar as he saw himself: both supremely confident and supremely vulnerable.

Far from superfluous, the documents (and the audio CD that also accompanies the book) serve as reminders that before he was known as an amazing artist, Tupac was already an extraordinary person. In stories only known to his closest friends and family, TUPAC SHAKUR LEGACY covers everything, from his early childhood in Harlem, to his quick rise to stardom, through his incarceration and subsequent release, to his last, triumphant years in the eyes of his adoring public,. In this unusual scrapbook, TUPAC SHAKUR LEGACY tells of a singular life, one full of grittiness and heart – and one imbued, at its core, in honesty and passion.

About the Author: Jamal Joseph is a writer, director, producer, poet, activist and educator who credits his time spent in prison as the inspiration that forged his creativity. Jamal earned two college degrees, wrote five plays and two volumes of poetry while incarcerated. He is currently an associate professor at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division and the artistic director of the New Heritage Theater in Harlem. Jamal Joseph was also the youngest Black Panther whom Afeni Shakur met when he was only 15 years old when she was the section leader in the Bronx. Atria Books; Hardcover, 50 b&w illus; 50 color illus; 20 removable features; 60-min. audio CD; $45.00; 0-7432-9260-X; August 29, 2006

Meat Loaf Goes Back To Hell

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Tim Mckeough, Special To The Star

(Aug. 2, 2006) NEW YORK—Operatic ballad king
Meat Loaf, with a freshly mended relationship with long-time collaborator Jim Steinman, is set to complete an unlikely rock trilogy this Halloween with the release of Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose.  "The whole album is very, very intense. Very edgy," warned Meat Loaf from a gnarled gothic throne, taking a moment out from an album preview party in Manhattan to talk about his upcoming release. "Even the ballads are edgy. Everything is edgy."  While the singer has released other albums over the years, none have achieved the same success as Bat Out of Hell, released in 1977, and Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, released in 1993, which sold a combined 45 million copies worldwide. Steinman wrote the songs on both those records and produced the second one. Until this week, the pair had been wrangling over trademark rights for the franchise's title.  "I was never going to take it to an all-out war, because I have too much respect and he's been my friend too long," said Meat Loaf, now 58 (birth name: Marvin Lee Aday). "Even though we've gone years without communicating, we just know each other so well ... because we've touched each other: he's written for me and I've sung his songs. His mother once said to me, `You know him better than anyone else in the world. You know him better than I do.' That pretty much summed it up for me."  The third Bat album includes seven songs written by Steinman, but it was produced by freelance hit-maker Desmond Child, who has worked with the likes of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith. For the album's title track, "The Monster is Loose," Child recruited Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe and John 5 of Marilyn Manson. Other guests on the album include Steve Vai and Brian May of Queen.

Almost 30 years after the release of the original Bat Out of Hell record, listeners are sure to notice that Meat Loaf's latest effort is significantly heavier than anything he has done before.  "The first thing that Desmond played to the band, before we cut any tracks, was Slipknot," said Meat Loaf. "I started listening to it, going `Well how in the hell can this relate to Bat Out of Hell?'"  The answer becomes clear on the album's title track, which has the sound of diamond-hard rock (the song is on Meat Loaf's MySpace page Even the singer was taken aback when he first heard the song's chugging guitar tracks. "John 5 scared the hell out of me," he said. "Then all I could say later on was `Can we get those guitars louder please?'"  Child said he jumped at the chance to produce the album. "When I heard that Jim Steinman wasn't going to be making Bat III, I got on the horn and I started networking," he said. "I called up Allen Kovac, Meat's manager, and said `This is the record I should be making. I've waited my whole life to make this record.'"  Sixx, who had worked on three songs for the second Bat album, was also happy to be back. "It was great working with Desmond and then we brought in John 5 and it was really interesting, the three different songwriting styles," he said. "To me it was awesome. Meat Loaf wanted to push his own envelope."  Yet for all the unapologetically heavy tunes, the album also has more of the heart-wrenching ballads Meat Loaf is famous for. The most peculiar one is a cover of "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," the Steinman song first propelled up the charts by none other than Céline Dion. Meat Loaf's is a more strenuous version, sung as a duet with Marion Raven, a 22-year-old Norwegian rocker, and it's been handpicked as the album's first hopeful hit (the video premiered Monday).

For the album preview party, an old church turned nightclub had been done up with towering candelabras, while an animated trailer for the third Bat album, with a furry winged demon, a bikini-clad woman with angel's wings and a shirtless stud on a flaming motorcycle, played onscreen (the trailer can be seen on Meat Loaf's MySpace page).  The lack of air conditioning under the club's gothic arches on one of the hottest evenings of summer added to the feeling of hell. However, considering Meat Loaf's appearance on the American Idol finale last May, as well as this new Dion connection, one wonders if he takes his underworld image with a grain of salt.  "I do not take this stuff seriously," he said after parodying the baritone voiceover from his album's trailer. "I mean, it's a cartoon. It's a frickin' cartoon what they did out there. I take my work very seriously. I'm serious when I'm doing it, but I never consider myself a necessity."  Speaking about the album's last track, Meat Loaf hinted that this may be the final instalment in the Bat Out of Hell series.  "The last song on the record, called `Cry to Heaven,' is the humour to wrap it all up," he said. "I hear the song and I laugh out loud every time. It's `Cry, baby, cry. Cry, cry to heaven, and if that doesn't do it for you, go ahead and cry like hell.'  "I think that's a really great summation to all three Bat records: if that doesn't do it for you, go ahead and cry like hell."


Nelly Furtado up for MTV Video Music Award

Excerpt from
The Globe and Mail

(Aug. 1, 06) New York -- Canada's Nelly Furtado continues down the comeback trail, grabbing at MTV Video Music Award nomination for her hit song, Promiscuous, the U.S. music channel announced yesterday. The singer will compete against Madonna (Hung Up), Kelly Clarkson (Because of You), Christina Aguilera (Ain't No Other Man) and Shakira (Hips Don't Lie) in the best female video category. Shakira and rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers (for Dani California) are front and centre in this year's nominations, earning seven nods each. Both will compete for video of the year along with Aguilera, Madonna, and Panic! At the Disco (I Write Sins Not Tragedies). Madonna is up for another three awards, including best dance video and best pop video. Aguilera is also nominated for best pop video and best choreography in a video. Among other nominees, Nick Lachey's What's Left of Me, which recreates his break-up with Jessica Simpson, will vie for best male video with James Blunt (You're Beautiful), Kanye West (Gold Digger), T.I. (What You Know) and Busta Rhymes (for his remix of Touch It, featuring Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott). The 2006 MTV Video Music Awards take place Aug. 31 in New York. In Canada, the show will be shown live on CTV. AP

Tribe Called Quest Reunites For Tour

Excerpt from

(July 31, 2006) *We have the video game NBA 2K7 to thank for reuniting
Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammad to perform together for the first time in eight years. The three members of historic rap group A Tribe Called Quest are back together again to headline the upcoming 2K Sports Bounce Tour, which will make 14 stops across the country in promotion of "NBA 2K7." (See itinerary below.)According to, Phife’s obsession with video games helped to seal the deal. He’ll also appear as a playable character in NBA 2K7, along with Flavor Flav, Common, the Roots' ?uestlove and other hip hop artists. Tribe will also appear on the game’s soundtrack. Hip-hop producer Dan the Automator remixed the group’s "Lyrics to Go" from their 1993 album, “Midnight Marauders” for the CD, due in mid-September." NBA 2K7" will also be released this fall for Xbox 360, Xbox and PlayStation 2. A PS3 version is also in development. Here is the 2K Sports Bounce Tour itinerary:

9/8 - Las Vegas, NV @ Red Rock
9/9 - Berkeley, CA @ Berkeley Community Theatre
9/10 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern LG
9/13 - Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
9/15 - Chicago, IL @ Congress Theatre
9/16 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave/ Eagles Club
9/17 - Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus
9/20 - Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
9/22 - Washington, DC @ Love the Club
9/23 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
9/24 - Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues
9/28 - Atlantic City, NJ @ House of Blues
9/29 - Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
10/1 - Sayreville, NJ @ The Starland Ballroom

Pianist Peterson Complains Of Racist Abuse

Source:  Canadian Press

(July 31, 2006) Legendary Canadian jazz pianist
Oscar Peterson says he is being subjected to racial taunts and slurs at his Mississauga home.  "A bunch of idiots have been driving by in a car yelling obscenities at me," Peterson told CTV New on Sunday.  The 81-year-old said he is disheartened and stunned that the insults include racial remarks.  Peterson said his attempt to live a quiet and peaceful life in suburban Mississauga has been invaded.  "If they want to start that kind of racial war, I'm ready for it. I've had enough of that," he told CTV.  "I'm really mad now. I didn't come home to be subjected to this."  Peterson, who was born in Montreal, said he endured racial harassment much earlier in his life, but never expected the racist episodes to happen at his home in a tolerant country like Canada.  Peterson said he has notified politicians and local police of the young men, but investigators do not have a licence plate number from the blue Toyota Corolla to go on.  Widely considered as one of the great jazz pianists of all time, Peterson has been honoured with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award, an International Jazz Hall of Fame Award and entry into several halls of fame.  In addition to being put on a stamp, Canada made him a companion of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian achievement.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shakira lead MTV Video Music Awards Nominations

Source:  Canadian Press

(July 31, 2006) NEW YORK (AP) - The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Shakira are front and centre at this year's
MTV Video Music Awards.  The rock band and the pop superstar got seven nominations each for the videos Dani California and Hips Don't Lie, respectively, MTV announced Monday. Both will compete for video of the year along with Christina Aguilera (Ain't No Other Man), Madonna (Hung Up) and Panic! At The Disco (I Write Sins Not Tragedies).  Madonna, Shakira and Aguilera are also nominated for best female video with Kelly Clarkson (Because of You) and Canadian diva Nelly Furtado (Promiscuous).  Her Madgesty is up for another three awards, including best dance video and best pop video.  Aguilera, now in a '40s glamour-puss phase, is also nominated for best pop video and best choreography in a video.  Nick Lachey's What's Left of Me, which recreates his break-up with Jessica Simpson, will vie for best male video with James Blunt (You're Beautiful), Kanye West (Gold Digger), T.I. (What You Know) and Busta Rhymes (for his remix of Touch It, featuring Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliot).  The bands for best group video include the Chili Peppers, Fall Out Boy (Dance, Dance) and Gnarls Barkley (Crazy).  Performers were to be Beyonce Knowles, Justin Timberlake, Panic! At The Disco, The Killers and rappers T.I. and Ludacris.  The Raconteurs, fronted by the White Stripes' Jack White, will provide the show's "soundtrack," MTV said.  More performers and presenters were to be announced later.  The 2006 MTV Video Music Awards will take place on Aug. 31 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. In Canada, they'll be shown live on CTV (8 p.m. ET, check local listings).  Viewers can watch videos and vote on the awards' general categories, such as best male video and best hip hop video, through Aug. 20 by visiting MTV Overdrive, an internet channel launched last year, at the website Voting for the viewer's choice award runs Aug. 7 through Aug. 31.

Ludacris Decides To Throw Them ‘Rows

Excerpt from

(August 2, 2006) *
Ludacris showed up at a concert in Seattle with a shorn head. His trademark cornrows – or Ben Wallace afro when they’ve been taken out – was completely gone and replaced by a closely-cropped fro that faded ever-so-subtly on the sides.   The rapper says his decision to get rid of the extra hair is rooted in an overall shift in direction marked by his upcoming album.  “‘Release Therapy’ marks a new phase in my life," the Atlanta rapper said in a statement. "I'm very excited to move forward and try new things. Life is all about change and this album will hopefully reflect some of my growth as an artist and a person. With that said, it only makes sense that I 'shake things up' and try something different. Who knows what I'll come up with next?"    Luda and his new hair will also appear in the music video for “Money Maker,” which will premiere this fall on MTV as the first single from “Release Therapy,” due Sept. 26.

Prince's Wife Files For Divorce

Source:  Associated Press

(July 28, 2006) MINNEAPOLIS —
Prince's second wife, Manuela Testolini Nelson, has filed for divorce from the pop superstar, his lawyer has confirmed.  Patrick Cousins, Prince's general counsel, said Wednesday the case was pending. He had no further comment.  Edward Winer, lawyer for Nelson, issued a statement Thursday saying it was a difficult decision for his client to seek the divorce and that she hoped for a "co-operative resolution" and a quick end to the case.  The Star Tribune reported on its web editions Wednesday that the case was filed May 24. A court administrator told the AP the case was sealed on July 11.  Prince, 48, has rarely spoken publicly about his marriage to Nelson, who was born and raised in Toronto. The couple lived part-time there.  Prince married dancer Mayte Garcia in 1996; that union ended in 1998.  The singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. He recently closed his NPG Music Club website, surprising many fans.

Gnarls Barkley Mashes Up Biggie

Excerpt from

(July 28, 2006) *A group calling itself
Sound Advice has come forward with a new mash-up album that blends the tracks of Gnarls Barkley with the vocals of late rapper Notorious B.I.G.  The result? An 11-track album entitled “The Gnotorious Gnarls Barkley.” With such songs as “The Last Nasty Boy,” “Smiley Faces Hypnotize” and “Who’s Dead Wrong,” the collection – already an Internet hit – has been repeatedly taken down from for the past several weeks due to copyright violations. However, Sound Advice – K. Ross and Elsewhere – have made the tracks available on their Web site    “It all kind of started off as a joke,” Elsewhere tells “We did a couple tracks and they sounded kind of hot, so we ran with it.” Gnarls Barkley member Danger Mouse is certainly no stranger to the mash-up phenomenon, as his infamous 2004 “Grey Album” mashed lyrics from Jay-Z’s “Black Album” and tracks from the Beatles’ “White Album.” The CD ran into several cease and desist orders from the Fab Four camp because Danger Mouse never sought their permission to use the music.     “The cat that obviously made his name off of it, we’re kind of getting him back in a funny way,” Elsewhere tells of Danger Mouse, who formed Gnarls Barkley with former Goodie Mob member Cee-Lo. “Hopefully, if by some chance he did hear it, I think he would get a kick out of it.”

Nate Davis Named President/CEO Of XM Satellite

Excerpt from

(July 28, 2006) *
XM Satellite Radio has announced the appointment of Nate Davis to the newly created position of President and Chief Operating Officer.  The seasoned telecommunications executive, having served in senior management roles at XO Communications, Nextel and MCI, takes over a company that has just seen its subscriber base reach seven million.    . "I am passionate about XM and the wonderful content it delivers to its subscribers. I look forward to working even more closely with Hugh and the dynamic management team that created this industry," Davis said in a statement. "While there are near term operational challenges to work through, the growth opportunities in front of us are tremendous."   At Nextel Communications, Davis was the Executive Vice President of all technical operations which included engineering, operations, procurement, and IT. Davis also served as CFO of MCI Telecommunications, President and COO of MCImetro, and in a host of roles at MCI and AT&T earlier in his career. He most recently served as Executive In Residence at the venture capital firm Columbia Capital.    The announcement of XM’s seven million subscribers keeps the company as America’s number one satellite radio service. Broadcasting live daily from studios in Washington, D.C., New York City, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Toronto and Montreal, XM's 2006 line-up includes more than 170 digital channels of music, sports, talk, comedy, children's and entertainment programming; as well as local traffic and weather information.

Punker Joan Jett Reintroduces Herself With New Album, Sinner

Source:  Canadian Press

(July 31, 2006) NEW YORK (AP) -
Joan Jett may be 45 now, but that doesn't mean she's outgrown punk.  "I never subscribed to the idea that punk rock means you have to play fast and scream," Jett told Newsday in Sunday's editions. "To me, it means being a rebel, being an underdog, being outside and doing it yourself."  With a new album, Sinner, released on her own Blackheart Records label, Jett is reintroducing herself to a generation that probably knows her only as that lady who sang I Love Rock 'n' Roll in the early '80s.  After appearing on the Warped Tour, Jett plans to embark on her own headlining tour in October with the Eagles of Death Metal tentatively slotted as support act.  Jett, one of the few active, well-known female rock artists around, is frustrated by the putdowns she hears other female acts get.  "People will really cut down women - really get nasty - for no reason at all, just because you're trying to play music," explained Jett. "Most women choose not to go that route, because that's not the kind of life they want, sparring with people for the rest of their lives. But this is all that I've ever done. And it's my job now to be the warrior, and to fight."

40 Years In The Making

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

(July 30, 2006) Back in the late '60s, Jay Douglas, Noel Ellis, Terry Lewis, Everton "Pablo" Paul and the other musicians who brought the musical culture of sun-drenched Montego Bay to the wintry streets of Toronto were largely a live phenomenon, filling Yorkville and Yonge St. clubs with their transplanted vibe. Commercially, the impact was negligible. More than three decades later, those same musicians appear to have a hit on their hands. The compilation CD
Jamaica to Toronto: Soul, Funk & Reggae, boosted no doubt by interest in a reunion concert performed earlier this month at Harbourfront Centre, leapt 79 rungs on the Toronto chart to land just ahead of summer-long mainstays Gnarls Barkley and the Dixie Chicks.

McCartney Releasing Classical Album In English And Latin

Source: Associated Press

(July 31, 2006) NEW YORK —
Paul McCartney has made his share of classic music: Now the ex-Beatle is releasing a classical album. Ecce Cor Meum, which means “Behold My Heart,” is a choral and orchestral work in both English and Latin, due out this fall. Britain's Magdalen College Oxford commissioned McCartney to create the music more than eight years ago in celebration of a new concert hall. Though McCartney has released three other classically oriented albums, he acknowledged that writing Ecce Cor Meum was a difficult task that took revisions and public performances before he finally got it right. “Eventually I made it all come together through correcting some misapprehensions,” McCartney said in a statement released to The Associated Press on Monday. “If it had been a Beatles song I would have known how to do it. But this was a completely different ball game.”

Copyright and Kazaa

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(July 31, 2006) It may be difficult to fight copyright violations on the Internet, the Wild West of global communications, but it's not impossible. Witness the harpooning last week of
Kazaa, a major player in the production and distribution of software that has enabled millions of users to swap copyrighted material without paying a cent. Sharman Networks Ltd., the Australian-based company that owns Kazaa, was brought to ground by the international and U.S. recording industries. It agreed to pay at least $115-million (U.S.) in penalties, to stop supporting the existing version of Kazaa and to build copyright protections into the new version. This won't magically check the global tsunami of illegal swapping. The Recording Industry Association of America estimates the international pro-copyright effort has reduced high-volume dissemination by 70 per cent, but given the delight of hackers in finding new ways to stick it to the big corporations, realism must temper optimism. Still, last week's settlement upholds the proposition that those who own the copyright on a piece of intellectual property have every right to shut down those who don't. Copyright protects the creator and those to whom he assigns his rights. It assures them, in exchange for making a creation public, that they alone may legally reap the commercial benefits for a set period. Kazaa and others transformed a long-standing practice -- friends trading mix tapes with each other to share their favourite songs -- into a faceless, limitless dissemination of popular tunes with far more potential to cut into legitimate sales. And along with the companies that fed the global file-sharing -- Napster, Grokster and others that, like Kazaa, have since been brought to heel -- came a multitude of defences from file-sharing supporters: It doesn't really hurt sales, it's not like stealing something concrete, it introduces people to music they might buy, it forced companies to sell songs themselves over the Internet. But the response remains the same: Whatever the mix of benefit and injury, if copyright is to mean anything, it should be enforceable on the copyright holder's terms. It's good to see another Wild West renegade acknowledge that.

Coko Set For First Gospel Release

Excerpt from

(July 31, 2006) At the Urban Network Summit earlier this year, fans of
Cheryl “Coko” Clemmons clapped and chanted continuously as she left the stage. They were salivating for more of her scrumptious vocals after she sang “Midnight,” the Brent Jones and the T.P. Mobb song her unique voice helped turn into a hit.  The former lead singer of nineties sensations Sisters With Voices (SWV) was there to pre-publicize her breakout as a gospel artist and could only reply to her adoring fans with a smile and wave because she didn’t have any other gospel songs to perform. That will all change for the Light Records/Artemis gospel artist on October 3 with the release of her first solo gospel project, “Clap Your Hands.”   Old fans will remember the singer's days as a member of Pastor Hezekiah Walker's and LFC. However, having a career as a secular artist preceded her, Coko insists that she is no prodigal daughter: “This was always gonna happen. I’m just a church girl that started singing R& B.  That’s just who I am and . . .” The timing could not have been better when Artemis A&R rep James Robinson approached her about doing the album Coko says because she’d been wanting to do a gospel record. With a staggering all-star team of producers (Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell, Rodney Jerkins, and J. Moss & PAJAM), delivering all new music "Clap Your Hands" is expected to receive thunderous applause.  When people didn’t see her on stage or in videos with SWV or working solo, she was praising God with regular church attendance at the Lord’s Church in her native Bronx, NY (Bishop Eric McDaniels pastor).  Since the group called it quits Coko became a full time mom to her two children (ages 10 and 2) and a wife. She regrets not being there for her son, the oldest when SWV was in its prime and is now an active school parent who supports the PTA and basketball team.  (BUT, she will be on board with Lee Lee and Taj when   SWV does their reunion tour this year.) As for her past R&B fans she wants them to know, “just because it’s not R&B doesn’t mean they can’t buy it. I just want them to know how good God’s been to me. . .and that God is there for you when no one is there and He’ll never let you down.  There are a lot of people who need to know that and don’t know it.” 

Al Green Reviewed Live In Stockton

Excerpt from

(July 31, 2006) 
Al Green makes you believe in a higher power!  That would help explain how the soul legend and ordained minister still can evoke an ecstatic response from an audience after nearly 50 years in the music business.  During his hour long set Monday night  at the Bob Hope Theatre, Green, 60, elevated more than 1,500 fans through his energetic stage show and passion-filled falsetto. When Green, dressed in a black tuxedo, went down on one knee to draw out a high-pitched note on “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” the only proper response was “Amen!” The crowd cheered and yelled encouragement, as if Green was a Baptist preacher who had hit the high point of his sermon. Green’s set ranged from gospel songs to the secular hits that made him a star in the 1970s. Backed by an 11-piece band that was tight but not overpowering, Green sang such classics as “Let’s Stay Together” and “Tired of Being Alone” while also leading the audience through a sing-along of “Amazing Grace.” The reverend also gave fans a musical education. “I’d like to do a few songs showing where our music comes from,” Green said before breaking into a medley that included “My Girl,” “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” and “Wonderful World.” The medley showed why Green is a soul legend, as his versions were on par with the originals. When he wasn’t singing, Green was bantering with the crowd. “You drove one of your cars. You put on one of your suits. You took some of your money (to come to the concert),” he said at one point. “What I’m saying is, God blessed Stockton tonight.” “Another thing I love about Stockton, you can come and see a show and nobody gets high,” Green said later. “All that stuff I used to do, put that stuff away.” Green stepped off stage while singing “For the Good Times,” shaking hands and accepting hugs from fans as he walked down the Hope’s aisles. Theatre spotlights shone on the crowd during much of the show, giving the impression that they were part of the performance. Green’s fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Booker T. Jones and his band opened the evening with an hour-long set that featured extensive jams through such hits as “Green Onions.” Some of the allure of Jones’ show, however, was lost in the vastness of the 2,000-seat Hope. His jazz-influenced sound makes him the ideal musician to see in a smaller venue with a cold drink in your hand. ( By Ian Hill Stockton Record Staff Writer )


LAPD Reopen Case Of Biggie's Slaying

Excerpt from
The Toronto Star

(July 31, 2006) LOS ANGELES (AP) — Six veteran homicide detectives are leading a new police task force investigating the unsolved 1997 killing of rapper
Notorious B.I.G. The new probe comes in the face of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the rapper's mother, Voletta Wallace, and other relatives, who claim rogue police officers were involved in the killing, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. The lawsuit filed by the Wallace family ended in a mistrial last year when it was discovered that a police detective intentionally hid statements by a jailhouse informant linking the killing to two former officers. A judge ordered the city to pay $1.1 million US in legal fees and other expenses to the rapper's family. A new trial was set for early next year. There was no new evidence that prompted the formation of the task force. But evidence discovered by the task force could help the city in its argument against the family's claims. B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, was 24 when he was gunned down March 9, 1997, while leaving a party at a Los Angeles museum. The New York rapper, also known as Biggie Smalls, was one of the most influential hip-hop artists of the 1990s. The investigative team is exploring the theory that Wallace was killed by a member of the Southside Crips gang as part of a hip-hop feud that that involved the slaying of rapper Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas six months earlier. The investigators also are pursuing allegations that Wallace was killed by a Blood gang member hired by Marion (Suge) Knight, the owner of Shakur's record label. Knight has denied any involvement in the killing.


Janet Jackson Changes Title Of New Album

Source: Capitol/Virgin Music Canada

(Aug. 1, 2006)
Janet Jackson has decided to change the title of her upcoming album from "20 Years Old" to "20 Y.O." at the suggestion of fans participating in an album cover design contest the R&B superstar is holding on Yahoo! Music. On July 17th, Janet — in conjunction with Yahoo! — launched * "Design Me" ( in which fans were able to download and "remix" images of the singer to come up with their own album covers. Four winners are to have their designs grace the first one million copies of Janet’s new album. When several fans submitted designs with covers that read "20 Y.O." instead of "20 Years Old", Janet liked it so much, she decided to officially change the album’s title. The CD hits stores on September 26th. The design competition has stirred up anticipation for the music icon’s new album, which executive producer Jermaine Dupri promises will "blow a new generation of minds" as it marks the anniversary of Janet’s career-making 1986 album, Control. Janet has re-teamed with her original collaborators, legendary hit-makers Jimmy "Jam" Harris and Terry Lewis, and Grammy-Award winner Dupri to create a dynamic production trio. "20 Y.O." has been described as a celebration of what was going on musically back in the day when Control was released.   The first single from 20 Y.O. is the breezy, laid-back "Call Me," featuring St. Louis hip-hop star Nelly, which hit radio on June 19th and has already cracked the Top 40 pop chart and is a Top 15 track at urban radio in America.  The video for "Call Me" was shot by noted director Hype Williams.

(* the 'Design Me' contest is only open to residents of the United States.)


Is 'The Game' Over At Interscope?

Excerpt from

(August 1, 2006) *According to reports, rapper the Game has left Dr. Dre’s Aftermath/Interscope label and signed with Geffen/Interscope Records in a deal that would involve the release of his next five solo albums and the distribution of his imprint, Black Wall Street. As previously reported, the Compton rapper was itching to get off of 50 Cent’s G-Unit label under Aftermath/Interscope after the two had a nasty falling out. reported last week that Aftermath founder Dr. Dre and Interscope exec Jimmy Iovine advised Game to sign the five-album deal with Geffen in exchange for the Black Wall Street distribution deal, as well as the release of his upcoming album, "The Doctor’s Advocate," on Geffen instead of G-Unit. Game is expected to continue working with Dre on "The Doctor’s Advocate," which was originally due in June but has since been pushed back. Other producers on the album include Kanye West, Scott Storch, Cool & Dre, Timbaland and Just Blaze.


Ruben Studdard Ready To Drop Second Album

Excerpt from

(August 1, 2006) *"American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard wanted to address his fans right off the bat through the title of his forthcoming sophomore album, "The Return."  "I've had people ask me where I've been in the past few years so I thought calling it ‘The Return’ made sense," Studdard said of his sophomore J Records set, due Sept. 26. "I'm letting all the people who've followed me from ‘American Idol’ until now know that basically I'm back." "The Return" comes three years after the release of his debut album "Soulful," and two years following his gold-selling gospel album, "I Need An Angel." Between those releases and the current album, Studdard has been busy getting his money straight via a $2 million court victory against his ex-manager. He’s also spent time in the past year launching the Ruben Studdard Foundation For The Advancement of Children in the Music Arts, which provides scholarships, after school programs and summer camps to music students. The Alabama native is now all about "The Return," which saw its first single, "Change Me," serviced to adult and urban mainstream radio on Monday. Other tracks on the record include a cover of "If Only For One Night," the Brenda Russell song popularized by Luther Vandross, plus the tracks "I'm Not Happy," "Blow Ya Mind," and "To Tha Crib," all co-written by Studdard. The CD opens with the tune "The Return of the Velvet Teddy Bear," a nickname given to him by Gladys Knight during her stint as a guest judge on "American Idol’s" second season.  Producers on "The Return" include Scott Storch, Ne-Yo, Dre & Vidal and others.


July 31, 2006

Allen Toussaint
, Southern Nights, Water
Deja Vu, Sony
Big Mike,
Keep It Playa, BCD Music Group
Bo Diddley,
Best of Bo Diddley [Direct Source], Direct Source
Bobby Womack,
Best of the Poets, Castle
Ghetto Story [Remix], Atlantic
Do It to It [Rap Remix], Capitol
Chuck Berry,
Best of Chuck Berry [Direct Source], Direct Source
Count Basie,
Best of Count Basie [Direct Source], Direct Source
Dem Franchize Boyz,
Freaky as She Wanna Be, Virgin
DJ Morphiziz,
The Best of the Submissions, Vol. 3, Beatmart Recordings
Year of the Dog Again, Sony
U and Dat [Single], Reprise / Wea
Fats Domino,
Best of Fats Domino [Direct Source], Direct Source
We the People [Bonus Tracks] [Bonus CD], Universal
JT the Bigga Figga,
Drop Your Thangs, Oakland R&B
Kool & the Gang,
The Best of Kool and the Gang: Live, Direct Source
Marvin Gaye,
Best of Marvin Gaye: Live [Direct Source], Direct Source
Marvin Gaye,
I Heard It Through the Grapevine [Fontana], Spectrum Music
Mike Shannon,
Anthologie 1962-2006, Magic
Percy Sledge,
The Best of Percy Sledge [Direct Source], Direct Source
Rick Ross,
Port of Miami [Clean], Def Jam
Sean Paul,
(When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me, VP
The Return, Vol. 2, Bungalo
Various Artists,
Movie Ska, Cutting Edge
Various Artists,
Non Stop Reggaeton Hits, Vol. 2, Machete Music/Diamond Music
Various Artists,
Rap It Up [Box Set], Thump
Various Artists,
Slammin Reggaeton Super Videos, Machete Music
Young Capone,
What It Iz [Single], Virgin
Young Dro,
Best Thang Smokin', Atlantic / Wea

August 7, 2006

3rd Degree, Since Day One, 3rd DeGree
Al Green,
Gospel Concert, Wonderful Music
Big B,
Random Stuff [CD/DVD], Suburban Noize
Big Prodeje,
Hood Ni**a in Charge, Triple X
Bob Marley,
18 Greatest, Direct Source
Bob Marley,
The Anthology, Cleopatra
God Guns Money, Latino Jam
Cassie, Bad Boy
Money to Burn, West Coast Mafia
Definitive Groove, Rhino
Damian "Junior Gong" Marley,
All Night, Universal
Street Music, Abb
DJ Quik,
Born and Raised in Compton: The Greatest Hits, Arista Legacy
What Good Is It for a Hustler to Gain the Whole,
BME Recordings Present E-40 & The Hype O, Reprise
BME Recordings Present E-40 & The Hype O, Warner Bros.
I Wear My Stunna Glasses at Nite [Single], Warner Bros.
Frankie Paul,
Who Issued the Guns, Music Avenue
Motor City Madness: The Ultimate Collection, Westbound
Grandmaster Flash,
Definitive Groove, Rhino
Gwen McCrae,
Gwen McCrae Sings TK, Henry Stone Music
The Beginning, Dollyhood
James Brown,
Funk It!: Remixed Hits, Cleopatra
James Brown,
James Brown [Direct Source], Direct Source
Jay Dee,
The Shining, Bbe
Where You At [12" Single], Jive
Jurassic 5,
Feedback [UK Version] [Bonus Track], Universal International
Lil' Blacky,
It's a Hustler's World, Vol. 2, Triple X
Lil Dank,
Welcome 2 Da a,
Lupe Fiasco,
Food and Liquor [Clean], Atlantic / Wea
Martha Reeves,
Martha Reeves, Direct Source
Marvin Gaye,
12 Top Ten Hits, Direct Source
Marvin Gaye,
18 Greatest: Live, Direct Source
Marvin Gaye,
The Very Best of Marvin Gaye [Mastersong], Mastersong
Masta Killa,
Made in Brooklyn, Nature Sounds
Youth [Bonus CD], Red Label
MC Breed,
MC Breed & DFC,
MC Breed,
The New Breed,
Mr. Shadow,
The Streets Are Kalling, Silent Giant
Everything New, Universal
Percy Sledge,
18 Greatest, Direct Source
Percy Sledge,
When a Man Loves a Woman/Take Time to Know Her, Direct Source
Ray Charles,
18 Greatest, Direct Source
Rick Ross,
Port of Miami, Def Jam
Rollah's Back, Underground Railroad
2 Face, Rap-A-Lot
Sincerely Yours, Affiliated
Sister Sledge,
Definitive Groove, Rhino
Skip Martin,
Miles High,
Definitive Groove, Rhino
Smokey Robinson,
Gold, Motown
Sugar Minott,
Lovers Rock Tribulation, Royale Palm
The Average White Band,
Definitive Groove, Rhino
The Drifters,
18 Greatest, Direct Source
The Gap Band,
Gold, Hip-O
The Mighty Echoes,
The Mighty Echoes, Collectables
The Miracles,
The Miracles, Direct Source
The Platters,
18 Greatest, Direct Source
The Pointer Sisters,
Live, Direct Source
The Staple Singers,
In the Praise of Him, Collectables
The Whispers,
For Your Ears Only,
Third World,
Riddim Haffa Rule, Music Avenue
TR Love,
Beat Terrorist vs. The Cartel, Corner Shop
Restless [Chopped & Screwed], Asylum/Rap-A-Lot
Slapp Addict,
Various Artists,
Gold: 70's Soul, Hip-O
Various Artists,
Smooth Soul Ballads, Direct Source
Various Artists,
Soulful Songs of Love, Direct Source
Various Artists,
The Best of R&B Soul Stars, Direct Source
Various Artists,
The Music of the Isley Brothers: Afterhours the Nightclub Tribute, Scufflin
Various Artists,
This Is R&B [Cleopatra], Cleopatra
Various Artists,
Blazin' Hip Hop, Activated
Various Artists,
Death Row Ghetto Mix, Death Row
Various Artists,
Hip Hop: Collection, Vol. 4, Universal International
Various Artists,, Southland
Various Artists,
18 Reggaetonazos Pa'Perrear, Brentwood
Various Artists,
Reggaeton Girlies [DVD], Primo Discos


Sex And Risk Onscreen At TIFF

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Aug. 2, 2006) The
Toronto International Film Festival takes another leap towards the avant-garde with the unveiling of Vanguard, a new program dedicated to sex, youth and risk-taking.  It debuts at next month's fest (Sept. 7-16) with 11 films, including the controversial Cannes discovery Shortbus, starring Toronto's Sook-Yin Lee. Vanguard could be considered a sister program to Visions, which debuted at the 2002 event and which in the past has covered similar cultural terrain.  And if you add in Midnight Madness and Wavelengths, Vanguard is now the fourth festival program devoted to cutting-edge cinema. That's in keeping with the personal aesthetic of Noah Cowan, the festival co-director, who has been busy making his mark on the annual event.  "The festival has felt the need for some time to establish a program for `early adopters,' people who delight in movies that push the envelopes of technology, culture, sexuality and cinema itself," Cowan said in a news release. "These films are edgy, irreverent, definitely sexy, and have a palpable, youthful zing."  The festival also wants to whittle down its Contemporary World Cinema program, which has grown to unwieldy proportions over the years. Vanguard will help do that and, as a bonus, the festival is hoping the program will also appeal to younger filmgoers.  "It's somewhere between Visions and Midnight Madness," said Denny Alexander, the festival's manager of communications, explaining the new program.

"Visions is about looking at cinema as opposed to content. Vanguard is really about content and it's more youth-oriented, for people aged 18 to 30. Vanguard has riskier and racier content, but it's also more mainstream than Visions."  But the new program will be every bit as eclectic as other festival offerings, with film topics ranging from sexual adventures to sci-fi to Shakespeare.  Four of the Vanguard offerings are world premieres:

·  Chacun sa nuit (Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr) finds drama in the murder of a small-town bisexual stud.

·  Macbeth (Geoffrey Wright) sets the Shakespeare classic in Australia's modern underworld.

·  Jade Warrior (Antti-Jussi Annila) pursues romance and swordplay in ancient China and contemporary Finland.

·  Bunny Chow (John Barker) follows three stand-up comics on a tour of South Africa.

Six are North America premieres:

·  Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell), which raised eyebrows at Cannes and which was previously announced for Toronto, stars the CBC's Sook-Yin Lee in an exploration of New York sexual foibles.

·  Renaissance (Christian Volckman), described as a cross between Metropolis and Blade Runner, stars Daniel Craig and Ian Holm in a motion-capture anime film noir about Paris in the year 2054.

·  Election 1+2 (Johnnie To) marries Hong Kong triads to Godfather gang politics.

·  Drama/Mex (Gerardo Naranjo) travels to the hot beaches of Acapulco for stories about a 15-year-old hooker, a suicidal middle-age bureaucrat and three randy youths.

·  2:37 (Murali K. Thalluri) echoes the docudrama style of Gus Van Sant's Elephant to investigate the mysterious death of an Australian high school student.

·  Suburban Mayhem (Paul Goldman) finds out what happens when the authorities attempt to take away the child of a single mom with a dangerous temper.

The final Vanguard entry is a Canadian premiere: Sleeping Dogs Lie (Bobcat Goldthwait), a dark comedy from Sundance about a young girl who reveals a disturbing sexual obsession.  For information and tickets, call 416-968-FILM or click


The Dylan Casting, It Is A-Changin'

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell

(Jul. 28, 2006)
Bob Dylan fans may feel inclined to take their motorbikes way down on Highway 61 tomorrow.  It's a cosmic 40th anniversary for him. On July 29, 1966, the people's poet skidded his Triumph motorbike on a road near his home in Woodstock, N.Y. He injured himself badly and retreated from the spotlight for most of the next eight years, as he reinvented his art and reoriented his compass.  Before the crash, he was hailed worldwide as a musical prophet and social revolutionary. Afterwards, he emerged as a quiet family man with no obvious agenda. He slept through Sgt. Pepper, Woodstock (and Altamont), the Manson Family murders, the Kent State shootings and Exile on Main Street. Dylan was a greater enigma than ever, and remains so to this day.  Which makes the Todd Haynes Dylan project I'm Not There sound all the more appropriate.  Shooting of the film begins Monday in Montreal, after more than three years of planning, and firm details are finally beginning to emerge about the biopic that isn't really a biopic.  The plan is to have various actors play Dylan at various stages of his life, from his early days up to his 50s. (He recently turned 65.) A complete cast list was finally announced this week, just in time for the start of lensing, and they include well-knowns and unknowns. The six Dylan players are Heath Ledger (replacing Colin Farrell, who dropped out), Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Ben Wishaw (who played Keith Richards in Stoned) and Marcus Carl Franklin (TV's Law & Order).

Blanchett is female and Franklin is black. This really will be an unusual movie.  The supporting cast includes Heath Ledger's partner Michelle Williams (who will play the love interest to Blanchett's Dylan), Julianne Moore, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Canada's own Bruce Greenwood.  "Bob Dylan was somebody who has rejected all of the various personas that he has embodied over the years," director Haynes (Far From Heaven) told the press at Cannes in May.  "He continues to move forward by discarding himself, so my idea is to put together a film of multiple characters and tell their stories simultaneously. It's going to be weird, not a traditional narrative by any means."  Shooting is scheduled to run until Oct. 10, which allows plenty of time for the always touring Dylan to drop in, should he feel so inclined.  Dylan himself doesn't appear in the movie, but original recordings of his songs will be on the soundtrack. There will also be artists covering Dylan tunes. Confirmed participants include Woodstock soulman Richie Havens, Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and the alt-country band Calexico. There is talk of possible contributions from Michael Stipe, Jack White and P.J. Harvey.  "Dylan has given us pretty much his collection of music," said publicist Jeff Hill.  "He's just enamoured by Todd's films and he's really into this one. It's such a different way of telling his life. It's so Dylan."


Friends And Mothers

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere, Movie Critic

(out of 4)
Sylvie Moreau, Mylène St-Sauveur, Macha Grenon, Juliette Gosselin, Micheline Lanctôt. Written and directed by Louise Archambault. 102 minutes. At the Cumberland. 14A

(July 28, 2006) Quebec director
Louise Archambault's admirably assured first film tackles one of the most complicated, subtle and emotionally combustible of domestic issues: a woman's fear that the person she's looking at in the mirror is just like her mother.  Opening with a quasi-scientific exposition of the mysteries of genetic destiny, Archambault's movie then plunges headfirst into the soup.  After once again exhausting her boyfriend's money on a voracious gambling habit, the impulsive aerobics instructor Michèle (Sylvie Moreau) decides to pack herself and her daughter Marguerite (Mylène St-Sauveur) off to California.  (On the day they leave, Marguerite wakes up on the floor of a dance club washroom, thus suggesting the web of genetic determination might already be spun.)  Taking up with the childhood friend (Janine, played by Macha Grenon) whose brother happens to be Marguerite's long-gone father, Michèle installs herself and her messy existence smack in the middle of her friend's tidy suburban world.  While Janine, an interior designer with an immaculate home, would seem to be Michèle's polar opposite, Familia suggests the two women share deeper qualities than outward circumstances would suggest.

Like Michèle, Janine's marriage to a constantly travelling journalist has left her virtually single, and like Michèle she's sandwiched awkwardly between her roles as a mother (to two girls, one of whom is pubescent).  While Michèle lives in fear of being too much like her sexually charged mother (Micheline Lanctôt), Janine experiences mortal terror at becoming a clone of her coldly controlling maman.  Prompted by acts of rebellion by their daughters, both women will have those chilling moments before the mirror: when they realize they're doing exactly what they resented their own mothers for.  While Familia makes the occasional tilt into melodrama — especially where certain one-dimensionally weaselly male characters are concerned — it lets its characters be refreshingly untidy.  Both Michèle and Janine are contradictory, sympathetic, infuriating and helpless, and that's exactly what keeps us compelled by their experiences. Like most of us, they seem to be making it up as they go along.  Archambault, making her first feature after a number of award-winning shorts, has made a movie that captures a sense of life being improvised.  Scenes begin and end with impulsive open-endedness, and her camera always seems to be stumbling upon something that's already in progress.  But the result is irresistibly engaging. Familia feels like a film that's discovering its subjects as it goes along. And as they discover themselves.  Thus, while that science-lecture opening credit sequence would suggest that Archambault's movie is going to slot its characters' behavioural quirks into some kind of pre-determined genetic pattern, Familia is ultimately about the mystery of why we — and especially women — do what we do.  Open-ended, inconclusive, heartfelt, unsentimental and curious, it's a movie that respects something too few popular entertainments do these days: our right to stumble our way from one day to the next.


7 Questions With William Hutt: 'Never Say Never, Never'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Kamal Al-Solaylee

William Hutt Born May 2, 1920, in Toronto. Served in the Second World War and was awarded the Military Medal. Started acting at Toronto's Hart House Theatre in the late 1940s. Over the course of 39 seasons at the Stratford Festival of Canada, beginning with the inaugural one in 1953, he played the title roles in Richard II, Volpone and Tartuffe. Other notable characters include Prospero in The Tempest and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Performed in London's West End and on Broadway. Retired from stage work in 2005. Holds honorary doctorates from six Canadian universities and in 1992 became the first recipient of the Governor-General's Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in English theatre. Lives in Stratford, Ont.

(July 28, 2006) Canada's most formidable classical actor,
William Hutt has embodied every stage role from Eugene O'Neill's James Tyrone to Oscar Wilde's Lady Bracknell. He's currently starring in the third season of television's Slings & Arrows (Mondays on the Movie Network, 10 p.m. ET), an acerbic, behind-the-scenes look at life in an Ontario classical theatre festival, not unlike the Stratford festival, where he performed in more than 60 productions. In Slings & Arrows, Hutt plays Charles Kingsman, an actor drawn out of retirement by the festival's artistic director, Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross), to perform the title role in Shakespeare's King Lear -- another of Hutt's signature characters. This is Hutt's first major screen role since retirement from live theatre last year.

You haven't done TV or film work for a while, am I right?

No, not for a while. I did a segment of Emily of New Moon and Twice in a Lifetime and I can't remember which of them I did first. Then most recently, the film The Statement. I guess that's about it.

You vowed never to play King Lear again, ever. Now you're playing a character playing him.

Never say never, never. What I probably meant specifically is not to do it on stage. . . . I was asked before, "If somebody wanted to do a film of your King Lear, would you do it?" I said, "Sure I would." I think it's highly unlikely, but there it is.

What's so different about your performance in the context of this TV series?

Never in the script are we doing the whole thing from beginning to end. We're doing bits of Lear here and there. Each one of those bits, the director would say, "Good, but can you give it a different spin from what you did with that moment onstage." We're not shooting in chronological order at all so it's maddening. One day you're doing a scene from episode one and the next a scene from episode five. There's no way you can keep track of the whole storyline.

I don't know how actors do that.

We don't. We just wing it. A lot of acting is winging it any way. You can rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, but once you get to opening night, eventually after opening night as well, you start to forget the rehearsal period and start winging it.

We talked about Lear. What can you tell me about the character Charles Kingsman?

I play an aging actor in retirement. The first thing that happens, which is part and parcel of the way I'm doing it, is that he's terrified. He's terror-stricken. First of all that he might die before we get in front of an audience. Terrified he might forget his lines. Terrified he might fail. There are times in the script when he's not a very nice person because he takes his terror out on a lot of people.

How do you relate to his feelings of terror?

I understand them. I can understand terror. It makes you do things that sometimes are not very nice.

What makes you excited about performances of today's classical actors?

What makes me excited is what are the messages they're sending from across the stage. Their focus, their concentration, their character choices. Sometimes you look at someone and say, "My god, why didn't I think of that."



TIFF Unveils Real To Reel Documentary Line-Up

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(July 28, 2006) Toronto — The
Toronto International Film Festival has announced 22 documentaries -- on topics ranging from the father of grunge Kurt Cobain, Haiti's slum gangs and blind Tibetan teenagers who climb a section of Mount Everest -- as part of its Real to Reel program this fall. A. J. Schnack's Kurt Cobain About a Son, Asger Leth's Ghosts of Cité Soleil, Lucy Walker's Blindsight, Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker's The Prisoner or How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair, Tony Kaye's Lake of Fire, Davide Ferrario's Primo Levi's Journey and Macky Alston's The Killer Within will be among the docs to have world premieres in Toronto. Also announced yesterday was a gala presentation of Dixie Chicks -- Shut Up and Sing, a powerful documentary from two-time Academy Award-winning director Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck. The film explores the emotional roller coaster of the three country chanteuses who were thrust into a national firestorm after lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience in 2003: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from [their home state] Texas."

Damon To Host T.O. Gala

Excerpt from
The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(Aug. 1, 06) In May,
Matt Damon spent about a week in Zambia as the guest of two anti-poverty/AIDS advocacy groups. The Oscar-winning actor was there to learn about the plight of the more than one billion who live on less than a dollar a day. Yesterday, it was announced that Damon is taking on a new cause -- vulnerable children. And the father of seven-week-old daughter Isabella will arrive in Toronto on Sept. 10 to host the second annual benefit gala One X One, which in 2005 raised $1.3-million for needy children. As MC, Damon will be joined on stage at the Carlu by the Grammy Award-winner John Legend and Juno prize takers Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk. The event, hosted last year by Kate Hudson, will coincide with the opening weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival. "I'm looking forward to attending this year's One X One event to share my personal experiences from a recent trip I took to Africa and to learn more about how we can all make a difference in the fight against poverty in one of the world's most beautiful lands," Damon said in a release. Founded by Joelle Berdugo Adler, One X One distributed funds last year to charities such as War Child Canada, Right to Play, Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, Child Find and the African Children's Choir. Damon's trip to Africa early in May was through DATA (debt AIDS trade Africa) and ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History. The actor, who shared a screenplay Oscar with Ben Affleck for Good Will Hunting, is now a spokesman for the groups, along with Ocean's 13 pals Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Besides currently shooting the third Ocean's sequel, Damon and Pitt may rub shoulders in Toronto as well. Pitt, who stars in Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Babel, is said to be considering an appearance at the film's special presentation next month at TIFF. TIFF won't know until the end of August if Pitt will attend.

LL Cool J Inks Seven-Figure Deal With CBS

Excerpt from

(July 28, 2006) *CBS has joined the legions of young fans that have a crush on
LL Cool J. In a rare and surprising move, the network has signed the rapper to a development deal worth just over seven figures and has structured the agreement in such a way that he’ll be allowed to work under any production studio. Usually, talent deals limit actors to working under the network’s own in-house studios, but not in this case. Also, the pact guarantees that LL, along with Alchemy Entertainment's Jason Barrett, will serve as producer on any project the rapper-actor signs onto. LL, whose birth name is Todd Smith, is expected to focus his production slate on the development of dramas.  CBS, the home of America’s top-rated drama “CSI,” landed the rapper amidst a fierce bidding war that involved at least two other networks, reports Variety.   His critically-acclaimed guest-starring role last season on “House” reportedly peaked the interest of network execs that began flooding the rapper with pilot offers last spring. LL’s attention, however, was devoted to the promotion of his new album “Todd Smith” at the time.  Uncle L’s last dance with television occurred in the 1990s with his NBC (and later UPN) sitcom “In the House.”

Chris Brown Slows From ‘Run’ To ‘Steppin’’

Excerpt from

(July 31, 2006) *R&B teen sensation
Chris Brown, who stomped onto the music scene with his No. 1 single “Run It” last year, is hoping to have the same successful impact in Hollywood with his first feature film, “Steppin’,” due for release in early 2007."It's sort of a dance movie," Brown told reporters during a teleconference. "… But I'll have to say there's a lot more acting and a lot more story line based around the dancing. So that's what the intriguing part about it is. It's actually a banging, incredible-like film.”  Brown, 17, appears opposite fellow R&B crooner Ne-Yo, who stars as a 19-year-old street dancer recruited by two black fraternities to compete in a step show.  "I started [rehearsing] for it, like, months before I jumped on the project. I was so anxious to do the movie. It's so fresh and original," Brown said. Meanwhile, Brown and his co-star Ne-Yo will hit the road next month with Dem Franchize Boyz, Lil' Wayne and Juelz Santana for a tour that begins in Cincinnati on Aug. 17 and crosses the U.S. before wrapping in Marysville, CA on Oct. 8.

Denzel’s ‘American Gangster’ Finally Rolls Cameras

Excerpt from

(August 2, 2006) *
Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe finally began production on Imagine Entertainment’s “American Gangster” Monday in Queens, NY as news of rapper T.I.’s addition to the cast was made public.    “Gangster’s” long and winding road began in late 2004, when director Antoine Fuqua was attached to direct Washington and Benicio Del Toro in the lead roles. But a month before production, Universal Pictures chairman Stacey Snider cancelled the film over fear the budget would surpass $100 million.  Imagine's Brian Grazer, who developed the drama from a New York magazine article by Mark Jacobson, brought in “Hotel Rwanda” writer-director Terry George to punch up Steve Zaillian's script and trim the budget. But Scott eventually dropped out after Universal still couldn’t get its budget issues together.    With the money situation finally worked out, enter Ridley Scott, who will now direct Washington and Crowe in the 1970s-set film about a police detective (Crowe) on the heels of a drug lord (Washington) who smuggled heroin into Harlem inside the coffins of soldiers returning from Vietnam. T.I. will play Washington’s nephew, a character he tells is “somewhat of a stretch.” "Right now I'm learning everything I can about my character. I'm just there to soak things up," T.I. says. "There's a bunch of Academy Award-winners on this cast and I'm just there to learn. I'm in school."



Will Black Dramas Ever Be Able To Sell Soap?

Excerpt from - By Cherie Saunders

(July 31, 2006) *With the
2006 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour safely in the rear view mirror, it’s time to focus on the road ahead, i.e. the fall television season, as it relates to African American audiences. If you believe Ali LeRoi, an executive producer and writer on The CW’s “Everybody Hates Chris,” it’s a complete waste of time to discuss the state of TV through the lens of a particular culture, because green is the only color that matters in Hollywood. In other words, the boob tube is actually a colorblind pimp willing to put actors of any race on the track, as long as they can pull in as many johns (viewers) as possible – which in turn boosts ratings, which in turn increases ad rates, which – in LeRoi’s words – can ultimately “sell some soap.” “Nobody has the right to be on a TV show,” LeRoi snapped at a black TV critic during a panel during a discussion on the lack of black dramas next season. “We all argue about ‘I’d like to see more representation about this and more representation about that.’  But at the end of the day, dude, you got to sell some soap.  And if you are not selling soap, they got no interest in you. So black drama, smack drama. Man, I don’t care.  It’s about making a good show for the audience that’s buying the product.” Here’s what I heard from that response: When enough viewers start watching black dramas, television will have no problem putting them in its primetime schedule – because after all, networks will gladly go wherever the ratings are and exploit the concept until people get exhausted from overload and tune out. We saw this with “American Idol” and its spawns CBS’ “Rock Star: INXS/Supernova,” NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” (produced by “Idol’s” Simon Cowell) and ABC’s “The One,” which was cancelled “One” week after its debut because not “One” person tuned in.   

Networks copycat successful shows all the time, and it would be naïve to think that television wouldn’t flood their schedules with African American-themed dramas if they could look to one such show that pulled in as many viewers as “CSI” and “Grey’s Anatomy” each week. Now those shows can sell some soap.  The problem is… there are no black dramas next season for networks to use as litmus tests. Execs aren’t willing to take a chance and add them to the schedule. Why? Traditionally, not enough viewers have tuned in each week to justify its space in a line-up. Ultimately, whose fault is that?  Nielsen Media Research can take at least half of the blame, as its meters have long been accused of providing inaccurate information on the viewing choices of African American households. In 2001, the company was sued for $10 million by SI Communications on claims that it deliberately provided ratings that were “inaccurate and/or unreliable.”  SI President Robert Dockery Jr. said his company lost ad revenues on its syndicated television programs said Nielsen “knowingly and deliberately used an inadequate sampling to estimate African American viewers, resulting in the under counting of the African American audience.'  Thanks to pressure from the NAACP, Nielsen has since made significant changes to its people meters to yield a more accurate count of African American viewing choices. But even with Nielsen’s corrections, are networks brave enough to give black-themed dramas another chance to prove they can generate high ratings among mainstream audiences? Based on the lack of them present in the fall line-up (see chart below), the answer is a resounding hell-to-the-no. No one would know this, but dramas with predominantly-black casts are being pitched in Hollywood all the time. “All of Us” executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith, sitting two seats down from LeRoi on the same panel, said she has two dramas that she’s going to pitch during the next pilot season, which lasts from January through April each year. Also, CBS just grabbed LL Cool J in a deal that will allow him to develop dramas starring African Americans – if he so chooses.

“‘Soul Food,’ even though it was on a cable network, it was very successful and, I believe, the first and only long-running black drama that was very successful,” adds Mara Brock Akil, executive producer of CW sitcoms “Girlfriends” and “The Game.” “Hopefully, with that and building relationships with [CW President, Entertainment] Dawn [Ostroff] and other network presidents that they will know that this group, among other seasoned veterans, they know how to execute a drama and do it well. But where does that leave people like Dawnn Lewis? On several occasions, the former “Different World” star has told the story of how she sold a pitch to ABC several years ago called “Blackjack,” which starred Nia Long as an undercover operative who kept her job a secret from the people around her. It co-starred Dyan Cannon, Bill Duke, Malik Yoba, and was executive produced by Forest Whittaker. “It was sold to ABC in five seconds,” Lewis said during the Nick at Nite panel for “A Different World.” “They spent millions of dollars supporting my idea, writing the script, shooting the pilot, and then it got put on the shelf for the next two years. What took its place, “The Return to Fantasy Island,” lasted two episodes. And “Cupid,” that lasted one episode. And two years later, what ends up on TV? ‘Alias,’ basically a revamped version of my show but now it’s not featuring people of color.”  “That’s what happens,” Lewis underscored. “It’s not that good ideas aren’t out there.  Good ideas, great ideas, opportunities are out there, but they seem to be offered to other people.”  If the head of ABC looked at Nielsen’s list of Top 25 shows in black households last season, he’d see the UPN sitcoms bunched up in the Top 5 each week (“Girlfriends,” “All of Us,” “One on One,” “Half and Half,” etc.), with “CSI,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House” and “Without A Trace” always a fixture in the Top 10. The latter four dramas stayed in the Top 10 on Nielsen’s general market tallies as well.

When a black drama was last seen on TV (UPN’s “Kevin Hill” got axed in May 2005) it was also a perennial Top 10 show in black homes, but it ranked so low on Nielsen’s mainstream list that it was cancelled anyway. To quote Dawnn Lewis, “that’s what happens” when not enough white folks tune in to watch the black dramas that do make the primetime schedules. Remember, it’s the mainstream list that advertisers consider during sweeps months, when ad rates are set based on ratings. (The higher the ratings, the more networks can charge for advertising. The more money coming in, the more soap to be sold.)  We live in America, and it’s unfortunate that most white people traditionally stay away from television programs and feature films with predominantly-black casts, believing automatically that it has nothing to offer them. Until this tide changes and more mainstream audiences become less discriminatory, black dramas (even critically-acclaimed ones like “City of Angels” and “Under One Roof”) will rarely have enough viewers in black audiences alone to satisfy the bottom line of a network.  The fact that there are zero African Americans dramas next season is due to a numbers game, which is the only game network executives are willing to play.

Gold Medalist Blasts Whistler Plot

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Alexandra Gill

(Aug. 2, 2006) VANCOUVER — Snow, sex, murder -- and misappropriation of identity?
Ross Rebagliati has thrown an unexpected twist into the plot of Whistler. The Olympic gold-medal snowboard champion is claiming that a shady (albeit stone-cold dead) character in the new Canadian murder-mystery television series looks an awful lot like him. Mr. Rebagliati, who has apparently asked for compensation, will be holding a press conference in Vancouver this morning. Sam Feldman, executive producer of Boardwalk Productions, a co-producer of the CTV series, received a letter from Mr. Rebagliati's lawyer two weeks ago, a CTV spokesperson has confirmed. According to a CBC Radio report, the letter expressed concerns about similarities between the real-life gold medalist and the show's "unsavoury" main character. Mr. Feldman was quoted as saying the letter requested compensation, but he did not specify what kind or how much. The steamy 13-part series, which premiered on June 25, is set in the mountain resort town of Whistler. The mystery unravels around local snowboarding legend Brett McKaye, who is found dead on the slopes soon after returning with a gold medal from the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

The looming character, played by Canadian actor David Paetkau, is a handsome, blond party boy who appears to have become entangled in a nasty blackmail scheme (complete with hidden cameras and secret sex tapes) before dying in a mysterious accident. Mr. Rebagliati became the first snowboarder to win an Olympic gold medal when the alpine event was added to the Nagano Winter Games in 1998. Three days later, the then-26-year-old Canadian athlete was disqualified when it was announced that he has tested positive for marijuana. The International Olympic Committee reversed its decision the very next day. Mr. Rebagliati has always maintained that he ingested second-hand smoke at a farewell party in Whistler, where he still lives. Joyce Thayer, Mr. Rebagliati's Vancouver-based lawyer, would not comment on the TV series or her client's concerns. "Everything will be made clear in the morning," she said.

Jonesing For Acceptance

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon

(July 31, 2006) 1.
Cathy Jones is funny. 2. Cathy Jones has issues.  These two truths collide in a new Life and Times biography about the comedienne, one that's simply titled "Keeping Up With Cathy Jones" (CBC, 8 tonight).  "From any angle, Cathy's life looks like a success," says narrator Albert Schultz. "But that's not how she sees it. She's driven by the script she hasn't written, the film she hasn't starred in, the stage play she hasn't done, the television series she has yet to write."  The same could be said for many Canadian celebrities. But with Jones, you get a sense these must-do-more! impulses are less a side effect of professional ambition and more a symptom of the personal demons that refuse to exit stage right.  Jones grew up in Newfoundland, the youngest of four children. Her mother Agnes was sweet, almost naïve. She also suffered from agoraphobia.  "My mother was so loving and fun," says Jones. "But she was very frightened about life and when she died we all mourned her as if a child had died."  Michael, Cathy's father, ran a camera and film distribution company. He battled depression and eventually developed a drinking problem. As the biography reveals, this alienated him from the family and helped disintegrate the previously concrete bond he shared with Cathy.

Jones, who first gained national attention as a member of the CODCO comedy troupe, clearly felt the sting of rejection: What happened? Why was her father so unhappy? Was it her fault?  The silent questions were answered with feelings of anger, melancholy, distrust and self-doubt, recurring feelings that would later torpedo a slew of doomed relationships.  It wasn't so much that Jones's emotions were bottled in some kind of Freudian flagon. It's more that, for better or worse, she wore them on her sleeve.  Musician Sandy Morris, a former lover, says Jones is the only person he's ever met who can exhibit and genuinely feel the entire range of human emotion all at the same time.  Hyperbole? Probably. But as he says: "It's a wild ride being Cathy Jones's boyfriend. But it's some fun."  For Jones, as for many comedians, performing can be therapeutic.  Because, when she slips into a character on This Hour Has 22 Minutes — say, Babe Bennett or Mrs. Enid — she is channelling more than a fictional construct. Her neurotic energy has also powered stand-up routines and gender-bending shows, including Wedding in Texas and Me, Dad and The 100 Boyfriends.  Actor-writer Greg Malone says, "Cathy was always outrageous and shocking." And daughter Mara Jones says there's a side of her mother in every character she brings to life.  But toward the end of tonight's biography, Rick Mercer makes an interesting observation. He notes that Jones only plays characters that are lovable because that's "the way she would like to see the world."

"I'm afraid to be nasty," concedes Jones. "I don't want to be unloved for a second."  The "incorrigible flirt" became "boy crazy" at the age of 5. After two failed marriages — and with a daughter from each — Jones says she's now found the man she has been searching for her entire adult life, musician Tom Wilson.  Hopefully for Jones, this one will last. Mind you, her daughter's words may leave viewers with some reasonable doubt.  "I find now when she's happy and things are kind of steady for a while she starts to say, `I'm really bored,'" says Mara. "She's addicted to that kind of (turbulent) environment."  "Keeping Up With Cathy Jones," written and directed by Barbara Doran, is a surprisingly honest portrait.  It manages to be both revealing and respectful as it reverse-engineers the life and psyche of a performer who has been in the public eye for more than three decades.  Now 51, and a convert to Buddhism, Jones continues down a self-paved road of discovery. Where she ends up is anybody's guess. But chances are even she won't know when she arrives.

The One No More

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Terry Weber

(July 28, 2006) The ABC reality show
The One: Making a Music Star – which made headlines in Canada for bumping CBC's The National from its berth – has been dropped by the U.S. network after only two weeks. The ABC's Web site for the two-week-old program, hosted by Canada's George Stroumboulopoulos and the model for a planned Canadian version this fall, said Friday the show has come to an apparent end. “There are no plans for additional episodes,” the site said. “Thanks to all who participated in and supported The One!” CBC reported the news on CBC Newsworld early Friday. The network said there was no word yet on what the decision means for this fall's planned Canadian version.

The series debuted just two weeks ago with disappointing ratings. The talent search's second week saw numbers sag even further. Canadian viewership during the second week fell to 150,000 on Tuesday, compared with the 236,000 viewers it pulled in from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. a week earlier. By comparison, Tuesday night's edition of CTV's Canadian Idol came in at 1.65 million, while Global's Rock Star: Supernova delivered 1.28-million viewers. (CTV is owned by Bell Globemedia, which also owns The Globe and Mail.) In the United States, The One kicked off last week with 3.08 million viewers, the smallest audience ever for a series premiere among the big three networks. In Canada, The One made headlines when CBC announced it would bump The National from its 10 p.m. time slot on several Tuesdays and Wednesdays to make room for the show. Visitors to CBC's own Web site for The One were redirected Friday to the ABC site. Kirstine Layfield, CBC's executive director of network programming, said the network will now shuffle its schedule to fill the slot. Hustle, which had served as the Wednesday lead-in to The One, will move to Tuesday nights.

Wednesday will become a movie night for CBC, with films like Under the Tuscan Sun and Mission Impossible among those scheduled to air. She said no decision has been made about the Canadian version of the program. Ms. Layfield also said the U.S. version was already showing signs of improvement ahead of the cancellation, with Wednesday's instalment outperforming Tuesday's episode. “That's one of the things we've learned from watching the show overseas, that it does take time to build,” she said, noting the show's setup isn't a “straight-up talent format.” “It is one where you need to find out more about the contestants, they're raw talent so early performances aren't going to be as good as later performances,” she added.  “It's all part of them being coached and trained. The BBC stuck with it through its first year and renewed it for multiple years because it found its way.”

Justin Trudeau Has Stepped Into The Boots Of Real-Life Hero Talbot Papineau

Excerpt from
The Globe and Mail - Simona Rabinovitch

(Aug. 1, 06) ST-BRUNO, QUE. — The battlefield is littered with bodies, each slumped in a different position of death. Up close, it's obvious the corpses are dolls, but, like eyeing an impressionist painting, back up and the twisted silhouettes become eerily human. Groups of young soldiers — extras, I presume — hang out on the sidelines waiting to be called to the set. Some chat, smoke and play ball as end-of-the-day stillness sets in and the sky goes pink. Others sit quietly, taking it all in. "They're not extras, they're descendants," explains producer Stephen Phizicky, as if I had mistaken a general for a private. Driving slowly through the St-Bruno, Que., set of the forthcoming CBC docudrama
The Great War, it becomes clear his reaction was merited. Conceived and directed by award-winning documentarian Brian McKenna, the four-hour film aims to capture the truth of Canada's involvement in the First World War. Unlike most films, The Great War went so far as to form an army of its own, recruiting 150 descendants of Canadian soldiers, nurses and airmen. Eager to understand what their ancestors went through, these descendants were put through rigorous boot-camp training. Then, for two weeks, they lived in army tents pitched next to the set, experiencing their new identities on-camera in battle re-enactments. And before production began, 13 volunteers went on a pilgrimage to First World War battlefields in England and France, their journey documented on film. For all cast and crew, the presence of these descendants and their families lent an emotional density to the set so tangible that even a novice actor couldn't help but plug in and use it — like Justin Trudeau. In his first acting role, the teacher and orator plays Oxford-educated lawyer-turned-soldier Talbot Papineau, great-grandson of Louis-Joseph Papineau. Talbot was killed in battle at Passchendaele in 1917.

"This is such a very real situation," Trudeau says, striding through the battlefield just minutes before his big death scene, in which he will "take a few bullets and fall down into a crater." With his clipped dark moustache, brown army trousers and worn black boots, he's straight out of a sepia photograph. "You're in the trenches, you're in the mud and you're surrounded by these descendants, who have extraordinary links to their grandparents, their great-grandparents. ... For example, there's a little prop cemetery over by the camp, and the descendants went over and wrote the names of their ancestors who had died in the war on the crosses. Suddenly, it became a very moving, very real, very powerful place." Meeting Papineau's surviving family helped Trudeau realize how important it was to accurately portray what really happened. "There's this real connection there, and a sense of responsibility bigger than playing a role. I was like, ‘I hope you guys are okay with me doing this.'" If Trudeau seems unsure about his value as an actor, it's because he isn't one — at least, not in a traditional sense. "I would be incapable of playing a role that wasn't very much me, and that was why I was sort of safe with this," he says, crediting McKenna with guiding him through the process. "He explained, ‘This what really happened. This is what he was doing. This is what was. Now, just go and do that. Be yourself in that situation.' That's been an absolute saviour for me." His biggest challenge? To avoid falling into that campy "disclaimer speeching mode" appropriate for podiums and television news cameras, as opposed to the truthful "being normal mode" that acting demands. "What I tend to do is overdramatize a bit, but that was quickly nipped in the bud. In some of the voiceover work we did, Brian was like, ‘Justin, don't slip into the melodrama, keep it straight, keep it real.'" But a lifetime in the spotlight has also helped his performance. "There are a couple of scenes where I have to sit there and completely ignore the camera as I write a letter or try and sleep with rats on me, which we filmed the other day ... and there are 30 people around me, and sound guys, and lights ... I've been ignoring the camera since I was four years old. So from a certain perspective that has helped." Equally helpful was seeing himself in Papineau. "I understood his passion for life, his energy, his ferocity. He had a sense of purpose and a sense of destiny, but also a keen sense of immediate responsibility. He was torn between a cushy staff job, where he could film things and write reports, and his men, who were right on the trenches. It was like, ‘I could stay with the staff appointment and come out of this unscathed or I could do what's necessary and right.'"

Trudeau relates to Papineau's sense of responsibility. "Since I have the opportunity to have people listen to me, it's so important for me to then have something to say. That's a responsibility I will never take lightly. Any time I decide to take on a project, it's because I think that through it I'm going to be able to say something that will add to people's understanding of the world." As for the possible backlash to his hiring, Trudeau is as tough on himself as anyone. "Geez, you know, someone says, ‘I lost two grandfathers in World War I and I didn't get picked for this role; he got picked because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth,' or whatever it is. The fact of the matter is, anything I do, there will be people who say that. Anything anyone does, there are always people who say those sorts of things. My challenge is to make sure I'm doing right enough by it to silence that little voice inside of me that's saying, ‘You only got this because ...' I want to be able to say, ‘I got this because ... but look what I'm going to do with it!'" As if on cue, Trudeau is interrupted. A trio of soldiers — descendants, not extras — march over, and the flies begin to buzz as the sky grows darker. They've got questions for him about the death scene they're about to shoot. "Got a question for you, sir," one says. "Yes sergeant," Trudeau replies. "Where are we burying you?" "The crater where you find me is just over there. I think it might be in the same place. Thank you, gentlemen. Take good care of me."

THE EUR Q & A With Bernadette Stanis

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(August 2, 2006) Actress
Bernadette Stanis caught the attention of television viewers in the 1970s when she played the role of Thelma on Good Times. Her consistent catfights and arguing with television brother JJ (played by Jimmie Walker) were among the highlights of the iconic black comedy television series which ran from 1974 to 1979.   Good Times which was very popular back then (today repeats of the show can be seen on the cable network TV Land) followed the challenges and joys of the close-knit Evans family--patriarch James (John Amos) mother Florida (Esther Rolle) eldest son and accomplished amateur painter J.J. (Jimmie Walker), the brainy and beautiful daughter Thelma, and youngest son Michael (Ralph Carter) a political and social activist--who lived together in a high-rise housing project on the South Side of Chicago.  Created by Eric Monte and Michael Evans (the original Lionel from All in the Family and The Jeffersons) and produced by Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear, Good Times was remarkable on many levels. In a television landscape populated almost exclusively by prosperous white characters living in idealized settings, and where black families were always presented as somehow broken or fractured, Good Times was the first prime-time series that featured a strong black man at the head of a close-knit lower-middle-class black family.   The show took an honest look at the reality of life in the urban Projects, and tackled social and political issues around race, poverty, unemployment, inflation, crime and addiction--topical issues that cut across 1970s America. Even the most serious storylines were handled with great comic skill.

While the show was extremely successful at handling controversial topics with humour, a battle between co-stars and producers ensued for control over the show's direction. Amos left the sitcom after two seasons.   Rolle departed the show in 1977, but returned for the final season. With ratings in decline, Good Times was pulled from the CBS schedule, and the last original episode aired on August 1, 1979.  In an interview recently with this writer, the now 53 year old BernNadette Stanis (real name Bernadette Stanislaus) whose grandparents were originally from Grenada spoke about her career, her life and the ground breaking Good Times show which made her an overnight star.

Kevin Jackson:  What have you been doing since Good Times went off the air?

BernNadette Stanis: I've produced plays off Broadway, and I'm doing speaking engagements. I have also made guest appearances on various television shows. I just recently wrote a book called Situations 101 On Relationships, the good the bad and the ugly. It's a very interesting book to read and persons can check out my website at or email me at

KJ:  In terms of current projects, what do you have in the pipeline?

BS:  I am currently working on new projects. I have also completed a book of poetry called For Men Only.  Now I am creating a book for younger audiences ages 9 to 18 years old. The book is about getting what you want and deserve out of your life. The drive to win starts when one is young. This is what I wanted to share with my new and young audiences.

KJ:  How did you manage to get the role of Thelma on Good Times? Did a lot of people audition for the role?

BS:  I was in a beauty pageant in New York and the managers saw me and said I would be perfect for this new television show that was coming out called Good Times that was being produced by Norman Lear. I then auditioned and yes, there were thousands of young girls who tried out for the role of Thelma. With God's blessings they decided on me.

KJ:  What kind of impact did Good Times have on viewers at the time?

BS:  The world was a changing place at that time in history. There were not a lot of African American people on television at all at this time. There were no African American families with a mother and a father and three children sticking together working through the good and the bad times. I often get many women coming up to me telling me that I was the first young African American woman they had ever seen on television who had hopes, and dreams of becoming something special in life, especially someone from the ghetto. They told me that they modeled themselves after me, or the character Thelma.

KJ:  What kind of grounds did the show break?

BS: Good Times broke many grounds with the subjects that it touched on. We talked about teen pregnancy, venereal diseases, drugs, gangs, pimps in the neighbourhood and many more subjects. No other show at that time dared to touch on those subjects.

KJ:  Why did John Amos and Esther Rolle leave the show, and did their departure have any ripple effect on the show's success?

BS:  Mrs. Esther Role and John Amos left the show for reasons I don't totally know all about. But the show survived because we the children being much older by then held the family together along with some supervision from our neighbour Willona Woods (Ja'Net Dubois). Like many families must do when one or both parents are absent. The public stayed with us the whole time because like I said, there were also many families out there with similar circumstances. Therefore, I think the audiences wanted to see how we the Evans family handled a crisis like this.

KJ: Do you stay in touch with your former cast members of Good Times?

BS: Yes, we as cast members still stay in touch with each other. Everyone is pretty much still busy with different things of their own.

KJ:  Before Good Times, what were you doing?

BS: I was a student at the Juilliard School of Music in New York before the show.  I was in the drama department and studied under the direction of Mr. John Houseman. After the show, I did mostly stage work across the country. I have been in a number of plays.

KJ: Do you have any children and where do you live?

BS: I live in Los Angeles and I have two daughters, Dior Ravel and Brittany Rose Cole.

KJ: Good Times was ahead of its time and it was very popular back in the 1970's and now its attracting a whole new audience with its showing on the TV Land network. How do you feel about being a part of such a groundbreaking television show?

BS: Thank you for recognizing that Good Times was ahead of its time. The show was so popular with viewers because it was so real. So many people identified with our struggle. The show is even as popular today as it was then because we have viewers in 2006 and they too can relate to the struggle we went through living in the ghetto. I believe the show will reach audiences for years to come because we dealt with real life issues and real life issues keep happening no matter what year it is. It is a show that all people, whether black, white, brown and in between can identify with. Good Times is a show I am very blessed to have been a part of.

About the other Good Times cast members

    Esther Rolle (Florida Evans) was born in 1920 in Pompano Beach, Florida, the 10th child in a family of 18. Rolle graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1942, and honed her acting skills as a member of the critically acclaimed theatre group The Negro Ensemble Company. She received acclaim for her performances in Blues for Mister Charlie, The Amen Corner, A Raisin in the Sun and A Member of the Wedding. It was in one such production that Norman Lear noticed her immense talent and cast her as the feisty maid Florida in the television sitcom Maude (1972). The straight-talking maid was so popular that Lear thought Florida could be the focus of her own show. After Good Times, Rolle went on to perform in numerous television series and specials.   She won an Emmy Award for her outstanding performance in the TV film, Summer of My German Soldier, and several other awards including multiple NAACP Image Awards. On the big screen, Rolle appeared in Driving Miss Daisy (1990), Rosewood (1997) and Down in the Delta. Rolle struggled with diabetes for many years, and complications from the disease claimed her life on November 17, 1998. She was 78 at the time of her death.

    John Amos (James). Originally from Newark, New Jersey, 67 year old John Amos is a pioneer in television history. Amos starred as weatherman Gordy Howard for three seasons on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, one of the first major co-starring roles played by a black actor on a non-black sitcom. After leaving The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Amos landed the role of James Evans, the struggling but loving husband on Good Times. Unfortunately, Amos grew increasingly dissatisfied with the sitcom when on-going behind-the-scenes battles over the direction of the show occurred between cast and producers. After two seasons, Amos quit the show over personal and professional complaints, suggesting the sitcom's focus on the antics of the J.J. character was taking the show off-course, and was not a positive portrayal of black life. Though producers decided to kill off his character, Amos' career was hardly dead. In 1977, Amos was a part of another historical event - he started as the adult Kunta Kinte in Alex Haley's critically acclaimed epic, Roots. Amos is still going strong as an actor, and has appeared in many movies and TV series, including Coming to America, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, In the House, The District and The West Wing.

    Jimmie Walker (JJ) was born in 1947 in South Bronx, New York. For better or for worse, Walker is still instantly recognizable as J.J. Evans, the man who in the 1970s gave new meaning to the word "Dy-No-Mite!" Walker was working as a stand-up comedian when he landed the role of J.J., and as his fame grew he generously helped out fellow comedians whenever he could. (For example, he hired two out-of-work stand-up comics named Jay Leno and David Letterman to lend their writing talents to the show.) In spite of the controversy that surrounded Good Times and the perceived buffoonery of his character in particular, Walker is proud of the sitcom. Today, when many actors want to distance themselves from the roles that made them stars, Walker remains thankful for the success that Good Times brought him. In recent years, Walker has continued to perform stand-up and was the host of his own syndicated radio talk-show. Walker appeared in Airplane, Home Alone 2, and Bustin Loose. His TV credits include In the House, George Lopez, Scrubs, ER, and he remains a favourite guest on Late Night with David Letterman.

    Ralph Carter (Michael) who is now 45 years old, is originally from New York City. An accomplished stage actor, Carter earned a 1974 Tony nomination for his role in Raisin - a musical based on the play A Raisin in the Sun. At the height of his Good Times fame Carter was groomed for a teen-idol singing career.   Mercury Records released Carter's 1976 album Young and in Love and two singles - Extra Extra (Read All about It) and When You're Young and in Love. The disco tracks reached number one on Billboard's Disco charts but failed to scale the pop charts. Carter, a reluctant participant, refused to pursue the teen-idol route and another release was not forthcoming. When Good Times ended Carter all but disappeared from the entertainment business. He made occasional guest appearances on TV in the early 1980s, but for the most part has stayed out of the spotlight. These days he is writing plays and he just completed a new book.

    Ja'net Dubois (Willona). Philadelphia native Ja'net Dubois is now 61 years old. A born again Christian, she began her career as a model. Dubois had a modest acting career before being cast as the fun but meddlesome neighbour Willona on Good Times. Dubois has appeared on many television shows including The Steve Harvey Show, Moesha, ER, Martin, Home Improvement, One on One, Boomtown, and can be heard as the voice of Mrs. Patterson on the animated series As Told by Ginger. She also starred as Mama Bosley in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Dubois is a talented vocalist, and was the co-writer and singer of the theme song for another hit sitcom - The Jeffersons.

    Janet Jackson (Penny). Janet, who is the youngest member of the musical Jackson family, was cast as abused child Penny on Good Times in 1977. After the cancellation of the show, Jackson surfaced once again as the innocent girlfriend Charlene on Diff'rent Strokes. During her short-lived time playing a dancing and singing student on the TV show Fame, Jackson released an album, Dream Street, which was a commercial disaster. But soon Jackson discovered that the key to her success was collaboration with mega-hit producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Her third album, Control brought her international success. Control sold 5 million copies worldwide and produced six hit singles including When I think of You.   Since then, Jackson's career has been unstoppable, with the release of Rhythm Nation 1814, Janet, Design of a Decade, Velvet Rope, All for You and Damita Joe. Between hit albums, Janet has been married and divorced twice. Her second marriage to longtime love Rene Elizonda didn't become public until they announced their divorce after eight years of marriage. Jackson has also had moderate success in films, co-starring as a brooding hairdresser in Poetic Justice and starring opposite Eddie Murphy in Nutty Professor 2 . With numerous awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and pop cult status, Jackson was been the icon of the 1990s. In 2001, MTV honoured her with the first MTV Icon Award.  She has a new single on the charts featuring rapper Nelly and her forthcoming album to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her ground breaking 1986 album Control, is due out later this year. 

Power Couple Look Beyond Will & Grace

Excerpt from
The Globe and Mail - Gary Mason

(Aug. 1, 06) VANCOUVER -- When Joy MacPhail married television and movie producer James Shavick last summer, many felt it would only be a matter of time before the former leader of the New Democratic Party joined her husband in the business. After all, if there were a B.C. politician with a bit of Hollywood in her, it was Ms. MacPhail, whose diatribes in the provincial legislature were considered not-to-be-missed theatre. With her ever-changing red coiffure and sometimes provocative outfits, the one-time provincial finance minister was seen as a brainy and fearless tour de force whose occasional brazen behaviour landed her in trouble. She was considered the ringleader of a group of female MLAs who once put a dancing, plastic penis on the desk of a gay male colleague during a debate in the legislature. It isn't known if dancing penises will find a place in any of the new programming Ms. MacPhail and Mr. Shavick plan to bring to their newest venture. Pending CRTC approval, the couple will become majority owners of Toronto-based OUTtv, described as the longest-running gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender television network in the world. Ms. MacPhail is incoming chairman of the board and plans to assume a role in front of the camera as well. While friends of Ms. MacPhail and Mr. Shavick, president of Shavick Entertainment, felt that a business collaboration between the two was inevitable, Ms. MacPhail was wary of the idea. "I wanted to make this marriage work," said the now thrice-married Ms. MacPhail, before letting out a gleeful chortle that could scatter a plaza of pigeons. However, when Mr. Shavick, whose production company is one of the largest in Canada, became convinced that taking over the struggling network was a good idea, he immediately saw a role for his new wife in the enterprise.

"Look at her background," said Mr. Shavick, sitting alongside his wife on the second-storey patio of their Vancouver home. "Under her leadership, B.C. became the first province to allow adoptions for gays and lesbians, the first province to allow pension and health and welfare rights for gays and lesbians, and the first province to allow for same-sex marriage. She has been a champion for the cause." And, he added: "If you can get along with a caucus, get along with bureaucrats, get along with Lehman Brothers who are doing the bond issue, get along with Dominion bond rating service, get along with the unions, get along with your constituents, it's a tremendous resource to have to run a network." Well, I'm not sure Ms. MacPhail got along with all those groups all of the time but if willpower and force of personality are requisites for the job, she'll be just fine. The couple is calling their new acquisition a "fixer-upper." OUTtv has a subscription-based viewership of 300,000, give or take 10,000 or so. Ms. MacPhail boldly predicts the new ownership can build that number to a million, in part because of the access Mr. Shavick's company has to top-notch gay and lesbian programming. This has been one of OUT's primary problems. It has been so underfinanced it hasn't been able to afford the kind of premium entertainment offered by outlets such as here!, a gay and lesbian specialty channel currently available to 50 million U.S. households. Shavick Entertainment produces one of the most popular shows on here!, Dante's Cove, described by Mr. Shavick as Melrose Place meets The Beach. Another critically acclaimed series on here! is the Donald Strachey mystery series, whose central character, a detective, happens to be gay. According to Ms. MacPhail, gays and lesbians want to be depicted on television as they are in the real world, where they are doctors, lawyers, athletes and moms at home who have the same kind of problems as heterosexuals.

"It's normalizing the reality of gay and lesbian life," she says. "And let's face it, it's our world, too. We have friends and we go to their house for dinner and it just so happens that four out of the eight couples there are same-sex. We have outrageous dinner parties with outrageous conversations and oh, by the way, four out of the eight couples are same-sex." While network television has come along way since Ellen DeGeneres first kissed another woman on the small screen, shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Will and Grace are the equivalent to minstrel shows of the past, according to Mr. Shavick. Ms. MacPhail and Mr. Shavick are expected to rely heavily on advice from close friend Paul Colichman, president and CEO of Regent Entertainment, which owns here! It was on the terrace of Mr. Colichman's Bel-Air home that the couple was married last summer. The pair originally met in the late 1990s when Ms. MacPhail was finance minister and Mr. Shavick was in her office looking for tax relief for the film industry. Eventually they began seeing one another and in 2003, Mr. Shavick proposed, slipping a diamond ring that once belonged to his grandmother on Ms. MacPhail's finger. Ms. MacPhail is considering two pilots that would put her in front of the camera on her new network. One is a series of documentary profiles about extraordinary people in the gay and lesbian community; she would host the series. The other is a talk show that would be wide open in terms of content and guests, which she would also host. Ms. MacPhail insists this is not some vanity project being handed to her by a rich, well-connected husband. "I have to contribute and am probably going to have to work my ass off," she says. "But I've never been afraid of hard work. Actually, I can't wait to get excited. I think it will be a hoot." And will likely provide a few, too.


Nona Gaye No Longer ‘Criminal’ Minded

Excerpt from

(August 1, 2006) *Just weeks after it was announced that Nona Gaye would join the cast of NBC’s "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," the actress has decided that the new gig is not for her. The daughter of late soul legend Marvin Gaye was to play the new Assistant District Attorney, filling the spot vacated at the end of last season by Courtney B. Vance. But sources tell the Hollywood Reporter that creative differences were making Gaye uncomfortable with the role. Her exit occurred soon after production began on the crime drama’s sixth season. Gaye will be replaced by Theresa Randle, best known for her role in "Girl 6." Randle is signed on for only three shows, but her deal comes with an option to continue on as a regular cast member. Her first day on the set is scheduled to be today.  In addition to Vance, actors Jamey Sheridan and Annabella Sciorra also exited the series after the end of last season.


Anne II Needs To Travel

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Jul. 28, 2006) Playwright James M. Barrie once described the importanceof charm to a woman: "If you have it, you don't need to have anything else; and if you don't have it, it doesn't much matter what else you have."  He could have also been speaking about musicals, especially ones like
Anne & Gilbert, which is enjoying a successful run at the Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre on Prince Edward Island.  This is a show with charm in abundance and that quality helps it glide by some imperfections to emerge as a property deserving of a life beyond the confines of this island where Lucy Maud Montgomery is practically the patron saint.  If you haven't guessed by the title, Anne & Gilbert is a sequel to the evergreen classic Anne of Green Gables and is based on the next two books in Montgomery's series: Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island.  It picks up where the first show ended, with the feisty redheaded orphan teaching school in Avonlea, wishing she could go "away" to college and suffering through her on again-off again romance with the handsome Gilbert Blythe.  It's taken nearly a decade for this musical's three authors to get their show onto the stage and once again Toronto writers had to leave town to get their work produced.  Nancy White, the well-known satirical songstress, collaborated on the score with Bob Johnston, who teaches music at Wexford School of the Arts in Scarborough. New Yorker Jeff Hochhauser joined them to write the book and assist on the lyrics.

What they've done keeps the essential tone of Montgomery's work without seeming like a fusty museum piece. The music has real melodic grace and invention, often veering off into unexpected harmonies and rhythms that lift it above conventional musical-theatre fare.  The lyrics are well-crafted, serious when called for (Anne's moving final song, "Forever in My Life") but often wryly amusing, as in the hymn to the eccentricities of P.E.I. residents, "You're Island Through and Through."  And Hochhauser's book, while suffering a bit from the compression mania that befalls anyone who tries to put novels onstage, still creates at least a dozen arresting characters who hold our interest throughout.  The production now playing in Summerside is solid enough to show the work's quality, but there are ways it could be better.  Duncan McIntosh's staging lacks the visual flair of this director's best work, while his choreography is often anachronistic and simplistic to a fault.  Although he's encouraged CanStage regular Phillip Clarkson to design more than 100 scrumptious costumes, the scenery by John Dinning remains blandly beige.  For a show set largely in a location where the sky is such an important part of the emotional and visual landscape, Dinning and McIntosh's decision to keep us inside a solid wooden box all night seems odd and gives Elizabeth Asselstine few opportunities to provide striking lighting.

The cast also varies in quality. Peter Deiwick is a wonderful Gilbert, cocky yet compassionate, warm as a summer rainfall and good-looking enough to melt the hearts of every girl onstage. Mélanie LeBlanc's Anne is more problematic. She sings beautifully but speaks with a pronounced Acadian accent that plays against the verbal dexterity essential to Anne Shirley, meaning the show lacks a certain spark at its core.  There's fine work from Laura Smith as a compassionate Marilla, Pam Stevenson as a droll Mrs. Lynde, Heidi Ford as a vixenish Josie Pye, Sarah Sheps as an ebullient Diana Barry and Natalie Sullivan as a flirtatious Philippa. But several of the other roles are played with a lack of experience or commitment.  In the end, the strength of the writing and the joy of the experience make this one a winner.  It filled a 150-seat theatre last summer and is doing the same at a 400-seat venue this year. The next step is one that many Islanders simultaneously desire, yet dread: it's time for Anne & Gilbert to visit the mainland.  I like to think they'd receive an enthusiastic welcome here.

Landmark Toronto Cinema Gets A New Life

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Hayley Mick

(July 28, 2006) After months of theatre closings and speculation that repertory cinemas in Toronto are doomed, some good news for a change:
The Royal Theatre, a College Street landmark, has been sold for $2.2-million to a company set on keeping the projector running -- with a modern twist.  The buyer is Theatre D Digital, a Toronto-based postproduction film company that plans to restore the theatre's rickety red velvet seats and ornate moulding to their original charm. It will be used as a state-of-the-art production studio by day and movie theatre by night.  The cinema has been closed to moviegoers since June 30. Renovations are under way and a notice taped to the ticket box window reads: Soon the lights will be back on brighter than ever!  Theatre D co-founder Dan Peel confirmed the purchase and said the plan is to make it look as good as in "1939 when it opened." He and partner John Hazen declined to comment further, saying they'd rather wait until renovations are complete in September.  The purchase and renovation plan gives hope to fans of the independent movie house after a series of announcements indicated the number of repertory cinemas in Toronto would soon be reduced by almost half.

In May, the McQuillan family, who owned three of five theatres in the Festival Cinema Group, announced that the Revue, Kingsway and Royal would close by June 30.  Two weeks later, Jerry Szczur, citing financial woes, said he was selling the Paradise and he was looking for someone to lease the Fox. Problems for the independent theatres seem almost insurmountable: high taxes, declining ticket sales, the monster popularity of the multiplex. Even more crippling was the rapid transfer of films to DVD -- second-run movie houses capitalize on that gap to attract audiences. "I think it just goes to show you that you have to do something a little more innovative with the space to make it work," said Kate McQuillan, whose father, Peter, opened the Royal in 1939.  Her family parted with the Royal for a half-million less than their $2.7-million asking price. They're now looking for someone to lease the Revue and keep it running.  Meantime, Theatre D appears to have found a way to make the theatres work. In 2002, the company began operating another independent, the Regent, on Mount Pleasant Road near Eglinton Avenue.  The Regent, built in 1927, was revamped and modern film-editing suites added. Films such as Where the Truth Lies and Being Julia, starring Annette Bening, were edited there. The concept allows filmmakers to walk out of their booths on the second floor into the main cinema and see what their edits look like on a big screen, the owners told The Globe and Mail last year. On the other hand, locals appreciate being able to walk down the street and watch a cheap, second-run flick.  Lately, ticket sales have been "fair," says the owner of the Regent, Peter Sorok, who has 45 years experience running independent theatres.  "It's a tough business. . . . If we were a first-run movie house, we wouldn't need to do what we're doing."


Katherine Dunham: Conversation With A Legend

Excerpt from - By Deardra Shuler

(August 1, 2006) *It isn’t often that one can claim to be a legend in one's own time. Dancer/songwriter Katherine Dunham achieved such distinction up unto her passing this year. Born with the soul of a dancer, and though her body succumbed to the aging process, her rhythm of life and graceful spirit continued to pulsate with passion and vigour up until her death at age 96 on May 21, 2006.  Those who forged our history are passing before our eyes, so it is only fitting I document for the readers my conversation with Ms. Katherine Dunham. Katherine Dunham came into the world in June of 1909, born into the town of Glynn Ellyn, Illinois.  Glynn Ellyn lie outside of Chicago and was a pleasant place for Katherine to grow up with her brother, Albert, her mother who taught school and her father who was a tailor by trade. "My mother for all intents and purposes, could be considered White.  Although, I have never researched her family background, I believe she was of Canadian and Indian extraction. My father was an American. He was about as pure black as you can get," reminisced Dunham at that time. "I can’t be sure, but I think that in the earlier days, racial differences may have been easier to handle. I just don't know. I think it was startling to some. People were just so unaccustomed to those things. They may not have been very happy about it, but I don't think things took on some of the really unpleasant turns as they have taken on since then." When she was 3 ½ years old, Katherine's mother died and shortly afterwards Katherine and her brother moved to Chicago where they stayed with relatives.  The children went back and forth between the black and white sides of the family.   When Katherine turned 7, her family moved to Joliet where she attended Beale Elementary School and her father remarried and bought a dry cleaning establishment. "There was a certain color demarcation because I recall a canal dividing the town, it also separated via color. We lived on the side where there were businesses, Whites and some Mexican immigrants. On the other side lived the few Black people in town.  "Our family stayed close together so most of my exposure and association was with family," recollected Dunham. Ms. Dunham’s father was a talented guitarist and bass singer and it was his side of the family that nurtured Dunham’s artistry.  She occasionally sang accompaniment to her father, performing in family living rooms and basements. "When I was in Joliet Town High School, I can recall the music teacher asking me to stop singing bass. I guess I was influenced by my father's bass tone," Ms. Dunham joked.

Dunham came from a working class family.  "I seldom had the opportunity to see dance shows, yet I started dancing on my own," Katherine recalls. "I just felt it inside myself. I simply had natural rhythm." There was a teacher who exposed her students to ballet and a free dance style similar to Isadora Duncan’s style. Dunham studied free style as well as Russian and Scottish dancing in high school. "I soon came to see the futility of making Russian dance my career," Dunham chuckled.  Though Katherine loved dance it wasn’t her only interest. She studied anthropology when she and her brother Albert attended Chicago University. Albert won a Masters degree in Philosophy from Harvard and his Doctorate from Chicago but found that his color prevented him from getting the teaching job he so richly deserved.  Undeterred he went on to found The Cube Theatre. Katherine earned a Bachelors Degree in Anthropology. "Since my brother was older, he knew that due to the color discrimination, the only social life I would be able to have would be one he created. The Cube Theatre offered me that social life and opportunity to perform." For a moment Dunham paused, lost in reverie. "Now, I realize how much my brother truly loved me" she stated. Performers such as W.C. Handy, Ruth Page, Canady Lee, and Ben Hecht were some of the artists who came to the Cube. It thrived but eventually Albert got married and moved to Washington after experiencing enough racism to cause the university to reluctantly let him go. "I can recall how much Albert resented what happened.  However, he had a family thus had no other recourse but to go to Howard University in Washington where he was offered a teaching position," Katherine remarked. Her brother gone, Katherine formed the "Ballet Negre" within The Cube Theatre and in 1931, the "Ballet Negre" performed a dance called "Negro Rhapsody" to high acclaim. Some of the dancers, who studied under Dunham at that time, were Eartha Kitt and Talley Beatty, who later went on to achieve fame. In 1934, Katherine married Jordis McCoo and by 1935, was ready to combine her interest in dance with anthropology. She traveled to the West Indies where she studied the culture and African Gods.

"By learning all about the people, I could learn the dance. You can't learn about the rhythm, the dance patterns and the music of a people without learning everything there is to know about them," Katherine acknowledged. "I think the big hole in American thinking is the inability to absorb other traditions and truly try to understand the cultures of other people.  Perhaps had we done so, we might have avoided some dark periods in history."  After studying the rhythm, culture, mythology, and raw primitive movements of these cultures, Katherine formulated a free form dance style that would become her trademark, known today, as the "Dunham technique."  Dunham ended her first marriage. She later married set and costume designer John Pratt. In the 1940's, she began touring Canada, Mexico, and the United States. She also toured Japan, Africa, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil. In 1938 and 1939, she performed "Cabin in the Sky," at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York and toured with it to Los Angeles. Later she appeared in Warner Brothers, "Carnival of Rhythm," "Star Spangled Rhythm" and "Pardon My Sarong." In San Francisco she appeared with Howard Skinner's Symphony Orchestra. She eventually returned to New York to perform in "Pins and Needles." Katherine was left heartsick when her brother Albert died in 1949.  That same year, she received the "Chevalier In the Haitian Legion of Honor" which was awarded by Dumarsais Estime, then President of Haiti. Ms. Dunham was also an activist in her own fashion. "I think my father’s activism influenced me. He once told us that he was forced to sit up all night guarding our house with a shotgun." Ms. Dunham who was a world performer, author, and traveler met famed artists and world renowned political leaders such as Paul Robeson, Evita Peron and Moulay Hassan, the King of Morocco.  She established The Katherine Dunham Dance School in New York from 1943-55. It had headquarters in East St. Louis and schools in Haiti, Switzerland, and Italy.  Dunham attended the screening of "Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball" at JP Morgan Library in May in New York City. Katherine’s legs were once insured for 250,000 dollars. What was Dunham's secret to longevity?  She summarized it by saying: "The only way to live and especially if you are an artist, is to realize that certain things happen when they are supposed to happen. It’s synchronicity.  One just falls in line with certain movements and people just when you are supposed to. I’ve lived a life of synchronicity."

Bruce Kuwabara  - Rebirth Of The Cool

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Val Ross

(July 31, 2006) North American architects ripen late.
Bruce Kuwabara was in his late 30s when he, Tom Payne, Marianne McKenna and Shirley Blumberg formed Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg in 1987. By the early 1990s, with the success of their first projects -- like King James Place (urban infill incorporating 19th-century buildings along Toronto's King Street East) and City Hall in Kitchener, Ont. -- the four fortysomethings were regarded as wunderkinds. This June, after winning two U.S. prizes, Kuwabara received the prestigious Royal Architectural Institute of Canada gold medal at age 57, becoming the first of his generation to join the ranks of Jack Diamond, Arthur Erickson and Moshe Safdie. He is ripening late in other ways. When I interviewed Kuwabara in 1998, he was the epitome of conscious cool. As a teenager in Hamilton, he'd cultivated the preppie look (cuffed pants, penny loafers) and played chess and pool. Later, supplementing his University of Toronto education with pool-hall winnings, he stalked the architecture school in a black leather trench coat, its echoes of 1930s Germany noted with alarm by fellow student Shirley Blumberg. "Bruce has always been, shall we say, 'sartorially aware,' " she says.  A well-dressed bachelor into his 50s, Kuwabara stayed cool, strategic, diplomatic; if his manner was friendly, his soul seemed to be aloft, scanning far horizons.

But today he seems different when he bursts into the boardroom of the converted underwear factory in downtown Toronto where KPMB has designed projects from Denver to Berlin. They've made their mark in British Columbia with Richmond City Hall, and in Quebec with Le Quartier Concordia, a complex of three buildings that transforms the university's Montreal campus. "A lot has changed," Kuwabara says, looking not so much cool as happy. He fans photos across the boardroom table: Two small faces with dark heads and busy fingers, surrounded by bright toys. "I'm a father," he says. His own father, Masao Kuwabara, who had been interned in the Second World War, died in August, 2002. At the funeral ceremonies, Bruce Kuwabara was reminded, "The Buddhist image of life is like an ocean . . . as one wave passes, another one is formed." Four weeks after the funeral, after a whirlwind courtship, he married Victoria Jackman, head of the philanthropic Jackman Foundation. Their son Thomas Masao (Mas) is now almost 3; their daughter Vita will be 2 in November. "I now think about the future more than I ever did before," Kuwabara said in his RAIC speech. "Everything is new again." One of KPMB's many strong suits is making old architecture new again -- such as the new atrium and concert hall rising behind Toronto's polychromatic 19th-century Royal Conservatory of Music, and the new spaces the team designed for Canada's National Ballet School and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, also both in Toronto. Kuwabara grabs a felt pen (momentarily dismayed to realize that he's sketching on the back of a printout photo of Vita and Mas) to explain how he and Blumberg worked on the Gardiner: "We wanted the roof to set relationships with the building next door, and the Royal Ontario Museum across the street. These relationships aren't god-given. What the architect does is establish the latent potential of the site." As well as harmonizing proportions and lines, KPMB replaced the building's pinkish façade with Indiana limestone to match its neighbours; the building, once set back from the street, was brought forward. A new third floor increased exhibition space; its generous windows reveal unexpected vistas of nearby rooftops and the ROM'scarved façade. "It's breathtaking," says Gardiner executive director Alexandra Montgomery, delighted by what has been done (on a modest $20-million budget). "It has changed the scale of the Gardiner without changing the essence."

While the Gardiner is proudly listed in The Architecture of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg, the book makes no mention of another KPMB project, Canada's National Ballet School. This disjointed a nose or two at the book's launch in 2004 (What, aren't we good enough? some balletomanes demanded). The omission was understandable: Another architect, Philip Goldsmith, did the plan for the school's expansion. Goldsmith Borgal renovated the complex's old buildings, a Victorian-era school and a yellow brick 1856 mansion, and chose KPMB for the new elements. "At first, KPMB saw it as a joint venture. As it became more successful, they became more proud of their involvement," says Goldsmith. Kuwabara only realized last year just how well the school turned out. Walking past one dark night, he looked up to see dancers in the bright studios, and noted the way dark alternated with light, old buildings with new. "I had a eureka moment," he says. What he values about the school now, he says, is, "It's not about itself alone. It's about the whole street." Last year, Andrew Blum, contributing editor at Metropolis, the New York architecture magazine, moderated a panel with Kuwabara, his former teacher Jack Diamond, Daniel Libeskind and Will Alsop to talk about Toronto's cultural building projects. "Introducing Bruce was a bit of a joke," says Blum. "The other architects had one project each, while KPMB's name was on seven." As discussion grew heated, Kuwabara stayed cool and diplomatic. For Blum, Kuwabara's special qualities are "quietness, urbaneness, a sense of textures and materials -- a sensitivity that is particularly Torontonian." Lately, says Kuwabara, he has been reconsidering Toronto's peculiar challenges. When a young architect from Paris joined the firm, Kuwabara asked why he'd left for Toronto. "He told me, 'Paris is beautiful. But it's 19th-century. Here it's lively, there's old and new, high and low.' Toronto's architecture is polyglot. You either consider it a mishmash, or vital." Kuwabara has made it his challenge to build harmonies in the cacophonous cityscape, but his interests are now moving in new directions. Eagerly, Kuwabara explains the key features of KPMB's Manitoba Hydro project in Winnipeg, which aims to be the world's most energy-efficient building of its size (22 storeys). It has geothermal shafts reaching deep into the Earth to regulate the temperature; stainless-steel cables with water dripping down to a pool in the main hall to serve as both art and humidifier. "If you'd told me. . . at architectural school that mechanical engineering would be a big part of our work, I'd say you were daft," says Blumberg. Now, "there's no question that this direction is our future."  In his gold-medal acceptance speech, Kuwabara recalled the tropical fish he had kept as a child. "Aquariums are finite ecologies, fragile environments within which everything needs to be balanced and maintained. . . . There is a strong connection between childhood passions and future careers." For years, Bruce Kuwabara erected a cool image; more recently he's constructed harmonies for our fractured cities. Now, he's thinking about how to build a more balanced, sustainable world.

Kanye, Oprah, Leezy Among Vanity Fair’s ‘Best-Dressed’

Excerpt from

(August 2, 2006) *
Vanity Fair magazine’s 67th annual Best Dressed list, appearing in the September issue (on newsstands Aug. 8), includes first timer Kanye West, as well as TV mogul Oprah Winfrey and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. West was chosen for his "fresh," "poetic" and "cutting-edge" style, and for being “outspoken, not only in his beliefs, but also in his style,” noted Amy Fine Collins, social correspondent for Vanity Fair. "I love what he does with colour. He loves pale pastels and nice sugary colours. He has a beautiful way with language, but also with appearance.  “There's no one else that's doing what he's doing,” she continued. “He goes far in new directions and is very watched, imitated and admired. He feels good about himself and it shows. Kanye is a college boy. [Obviously, she hasn’t seen the title of his first album.] He knows about the Lacoste preppy collegiate look, but he's not going to leave it at that. Instead, he takes elements of that and almost makes inside jokes on it. He never looks like a slob, even if he's in jeans."

Rice, meanwhile, was chosen "for her immaculately groomed and formidably dignified but with an audacious renegade streak fashion sense, not to mention her black knee-high dominatrix boots."   Others making Vanity Fair’s best-dressed list this year include Gwen Stefani, Selma Blair, Sofia Coppola, Renee Zellweger, David Beckham, George Clooney, Anderson Cooper, gossip columnist Richard Johnson, Count Manfredi Della Gherardesca, Charlotte Casiraghi (daughter of Monaco's Princess Caroline) and Prince Ernst August of Hanover (Princess Caroline's husband).   The magazine also inducted Queen Rania of Jordan and model Kate Moss into its fashion hall of fame, reserved for those who have graced the best-dressed list at least four times. They join hall of fame members Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Tina Turner, Bianca Jagger, Iman, Sophia Lauren and Queen Noor of Jordan, along with Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, David Bowie, Fred Astaire and Bryan Ferry.


Manitoba To Help Video Game Makers

Source:  Canadian Press

(July 28, 2006) WINNIPEG — In an effort to help video game creators put their dreams on the screen, the Manitoba government rolled out new grants Thursday to foot some of their labour costs.  The grants cover up to 45 per cent of labour costs to write new games as long as 25 per cent of the salaries are paid in Manitoba.  The fund, unique in that it has no upper dollar limit, replaces an earlier promise by the province to give the industry a leg up with tax credits like the ones available to the film industry.  "It's a growing industry and we have the people and the capacity in this province to take advantage of that," said Industry Minister Dave Chomiak.  It's not the province's first funding package for the video game industry. Last month it awarded five video game projects a total of $300,000 to create new videos and market Manitoba's industry.  And earlier this year, the province set up a $350,000 incubator fund.  Starting this fall, Red River College will enroll its first class in a year-long program to train game creators in advanced 3-D animation techniques.  Dragonfly Games president Lee Doerksen called the announcement ``fantastic news."  "This shows the province's commitment to developing our sector," Doerksen said.  The Canadian Taxpayers Federation slammed the project. Spokeswoman Adrienne Batra said taxpayers stand to lose out because the money isn't a loan that will be paid back or covered if a company fails.

Former Baywatch Babe Pamela Anderson And Kid Rock Wed In St. Tropez

Source:  Associated Press

(July 29, 2006) LOS ANGELES (AP) - She was once
Pamela Anderson Lee. Now actress Pamela Anderson is Mrs. Kid Rock.  The former Baywatch babe wed the rock star Saturday in St. Tropez, Anderson's spokeswoman, Ann Gurrola, told The Associated Press.  More details on the wedding would be available Monday, the spokeswoman said.  Anderson, 39, and Kid Rock, 35, were engaged in Las Vegas in 2002 but split up the following year.  The two were photographed together earlier this month in St. Tropez. Two weeks ago, Anderson wrote in her online diary that she was "in love" and planning to marry again.  "I'm happy," she wrote. "I see the light. Sounds dramatic, but it's true."  She also seemed to allude to her on-again-off-again relationship with Kid Rock when she wrote, "I've raised my kids alone in (the) hope of a miracle."  "Well my miracle came and went. And came back and back because he knew that I'd wake up one day and realize that I was waiting for nothing," she said.  Anderson and her first husband, rock star Tommy Lee, divorced in 1998 after three years of marriage. They have two sons, Brandon, 10, and Dylan, 8.  Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert Ritchie, has a 13-year-old son, Bob Jr.


Sportsnet Takes Hit On Raptors Telecasts

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - William Houston

(July 28, 2006) The slumbering Toronto Raptors perked up and became interesting when Bryan Colangelo was appointed as the president and general manager of the National Basketball Association club. And in the off-season, a series of player moves, most recently the signing of free-agent guard Fred Jones, also created a buzz. But will the reconstructed Raptors get the television exposure they deserve in the 2006-07 season? Not entirely.
Rogers Sportsnet, which at one time aired as many as 40 games a season, will have its schedule drastically reduced to about 10. Raptors fans will be better served on TSN, which will air 20 telecasts, and The Score, which will have 30. A large portion of the remaining 22 or so games will be carried by club-owned Raptors NBA TV, although viewers will need digital television to get the channel. For Sportsnet, the small number of Raptors games will leave its Ontario region with a thin schedule of in-market major-league content during the winter. In addition to the Raptors, Sportsnet Ontario will carry 15 Toronto Maple Leafs telecasts. The problem Sportsnet and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Raptors, had in negotiating a TV deal was tied largely to distribution. MLSE wants as many Raptors games as possible aired countrywide, hence the deals with TSN and Score, both national services. But on most nights, Sportsnet can't assure the Raptors national distribution. In the West, for example, the network has a heavy schedule of regional Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers telecasts.

The Raptors' preference for national coverage is tied to its goal of improving audiences outside Ontario in regions such as Alberta. Raptors NBA TV, a national service, can deliver countrywide coverage. What's more, exclusive game telecasts will increase subscriptions to the digital channel. Despite carrying a small number of Raptors games, Sportsnet will air a full slate of regional NBA telecasts. Sportsnet's other major contract problem is in the Pacific region. A Vancouver Canucks TV deal for 2006-07 has not been announced because of the inability of the network and club to reach an agreement. The Canucks have few options other than Sportsnet for regional telecasts, but the club has apparently increased the asking price for Canucks rights to more than $250,000 a game.


Drama Thwarts Laila Ali Fight In South Africa

Excerpt from

(July 28, 2006) *Officials in Johannesburg, South Africa are attempting to woo boxer
Laila Ali back to the country for her scheduled fight against a Guyanese contender after a promoter’s failure to secure funding caused her to pull out of the event and fly home. Hoping to fulfill the one-time wish of her father Muhammad Ali to fight in South Africa, Laila had flown in last week to prepare for her bout against 36-year-old mother-of-five, Gwendolyn O'Neill in Cape Town. But days later, she was back on a plane to the United States amidst reported mud slinging between her camp and the fight’s controversial promoter, Joe Manyathi of Sta-Trade.  According to Reuters, Manyathi has a reputation for offering empty promises of historic bouts to be staged in South Africa, including a scrapped match between Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis, and an abandoned fight for Evander Holyfield.  Ali’s camp claims that Manyathi came up short on her fee of R3.5m (approximately $500,000) to fight in the country. Also, evidence surfaced that the sport minister's signature had been forged on documents seeking the support of sport authorities in Cape Town. .  A warm and enthusiastic welcome had greeted Ali, 28, when she touched down in the country last week.  The hype surrounding the match-up was pervasive throughout the region, which made its ultimate cancellation all the more embarrassing for both parties involved. Meanwhile, Boxing South Africa has helped to negotiate a date and conditions for a new match and hopes Ali will return.    "The main thing in this whole issue was that there was a lot of mistrust...the main sponsor withdrew financial support so the Laila Ali camp became nervous," Boxing SA spokesman Loyisa Mtya told Reuters. "As of now everything is looking positive."  Myta said a new sponsor had come forward and officials were now waiting for the 28-year-old light middleweight champ to agree to the conditions.


10 Warm-Weather Tips For A Buff Body

By Mike Stefano, Guest Columnist

It's time to get out there and strut your stuff. From poolside barbecues to long days at the beach, there's no shortage of activities during our precious summer months.  Miss a few workouts and your buff body will start to slip away faster than the outgoing tide. So when it's finally time to bare all, how can you maintain your fitness or weight-loss gains if there's so much else to do besides work out?  Here's my top 10 list on how to stay fit for summer without giving up anything you love:

1. Drink as much water as possible

Don't get caught up on soda, juice or flavoured coffee trap. During warm weather your body needs extra hydration, be sure it's calorie-free. Water is a natural appetite suppressant, and most times your “hunger” is your body asking for water -- not food.

2. Eat light

This one's a no brainer. Hot temps can significantly reduce your appetite. Be sure to eat light but well-rounded meals throughout the day, and don't make a habit of chowing down on heavy, high-fat foods (burgers and fries).

3. Play for exercise

Make some of your summer fun active fun. You might consider joining a volleyball league or going hiking. And of course swimming is great exercise. You could also get into your kids' activities, such as helping out with coaching their soccer team.

4. Walk, don't ride

As long as the mercury hasn't climbed to dangerous levels (above 90 degrees), make a habit of leaving the car at home whenever possible. The extra caloric output will be much more than you can generate strictly through exercise.

5. Fire the lawn guy

Don't underestimate the amount of physical exertion it takes to landscape. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and planting flowers are great exercise if approached with the right mindset. Keep your pace brisk while moving around and you'll be sure to work up a good sweat.

6. Work out early in the morning

Take advantage of the cool morning air if you like to walk or run outdoors. Get out there before the heat of the day has had a chance to fry you and the surface you'll be running on.

7. Play it cool in the gym

If you have control of the thermostat in your gym (or home), keep the workout area as cool as possible. Contrary to popular belief, hot temps do not enhance a workout, but rather hinder performance and your results.

8. Day at the beach

Get up and move around when at the beach or picnicking. A long walk in the sand will provide plenty of stimulation to your leg muscles and intensify caloric burn.

9. Become a maller

Across the country, early morning mall-walking groups are becoming increasingly popular in both the hot and cold weather. Today's expansive shopping centers provide ample walking surface without the sensation of moving in a tight circle.

10. Adapt a "2-Move Summer Slim Down"

Develop a short but effective mini-program that can be done in 20 minutes or less. A program such as this will be enough to hold you over for a week or two or even the entire summer if approached intelligently. Beginners should find the program very challenging, and I recommend it as a practical way to introduce exercise into your life.

Check with your doctor before proceeding.

Exercise One
The Box Squat
8 to 15 reps recommended

The Box Squat is a way to safely open up squats to just about any fitness level. By adjusting the height of the box (or bench) or adding weight (weight vest or dumbbells), you can work through a wide range of intensity levels. The movement can also be performed with one leg, immediately doubling intensity levels. Be sure you master the two-legged version before advancing to one leg.

Intensity Variations

1. Reduce or increase height of box (bench, sturdy chair, or athletic step)

2. Hold dumbbells of varying poundages

3. Wear weighted vest

4. Perform with one leg to double intensity

·  Stand with your back to sturdy chair, box, bench or step that can support your weight and is of the correct height. You should be able to squat down and stand back up again without pain or discomfort in the lower back or knees. Everybody has a different safe range of motion, and it's up to you to determine your optimum box height. The lower the box, the more intense the set (without the necessity of increasing resistance).

·  Your heels should be about 6 or 8 inches out. Shins are kept as vertical as possible throughout. Your back is tight and arched, your butt is way out behind you. Eyes look up. Keep your body strong and tight. Keep your body strong, especially tighten your abs and glutes. Repeat: Shins are vertical!

·  Inhale as you lower your body by thrusting your butt out behind you and hands out in front (if holding DBs, your arms will not swing nearly as high as illustration) as your body weight shifts to your heels (versus balls of your feet). Shins remain vertical and back straight, NEVER rounded. Try to get the feeling you're wearing heavy boots that are nailed to the floor.

·  Tap your butt on the bench or step, exhale and stand up in exactly the reverse order, returning to the starting position. Repeat to muscle fatigue. Ideally, select a resistance level (lower box height or hold DB’s) that allows you to hit muscle fatigue within 8 to 15 slow, controlled repetitions. The more slowly you perform this exercise and the lower the box is set, the greater the intensity level.

·  Be mindful of form and any discomfort in your lower back or knees (a sure sign you're not following perfect form, you need to lower intensity, or to see a doctor).

Exercise Two
The Push-Up
10 to 20 reps recommended

Assume the classic push-up position with hands on the floor at shoulder width or wider. Hand placement should be wherever you feel strongest and least likely to feel shoulder or elbow discomfort. There are multiple ways to increase or decrease intensity from the classic push-up (hands and feet on the floor).

Intensity Variations

1. Classic Push-Up

Hands and feet on the floor, body straight

2. Modified Push-Up

Hands on floor, knees on the floor and bent at 90 degrees

3. Elevated Hands Push-Up

Hands up on a platform or bench (or even a vertical wall), feet on floor

4. Elevated Feet Push-Up

Feet up on a step (or staircase) or bench (or chair) and hands on floor

·  Keep your entire body -- especially your abs and glutes -- tight before you start. No matter what version of the push-up your perform, your back needs to stay perfectly straight.

·  If you can't keep your back straight, revert back to an easier version. When you push off the floor, exhale and be sure your entire body moves in one unit. There should only be movement in your body at the shoulders and elbows. Form is everything. Without a straight back and tight core, this exercise is worthless.

·  Inhale and lower your chest to within an inch or two of the floor (or step). If you can't lower all the way, revert back to an easier version of the exercise. Push back up and exhale at the top of the motion. Repeat to fatigue in the range of 10 to 20 reps.

The Routine

·  Always warm up with 3 minutes of low-intensity aerobic activity, such as stepping in place.

·  Perform two to four sets of each exercise, alternating exercises from set to set (active rest of working muscles).

·  Rest about a minute or two between sets (less for more strength gains, more for more endurance gains).

·  Once you can complete the max reps listed for each exercise, jump up to the next intensity variation (progressive overload principle).

·  Vary the total number of sets you perform from workout to workout (anywhere from four to eight sets) to offset boredom.

For more fat busting, strength building workouts, give me a visit at


Motivational Note - Are You Experiencing Uncomfortable Circumstances?

Excerpt from - by Dr. Jewel Diamond Taylor,

"Man must prepare for the thing he has asked for, even where there isn't the slightest sign of it in sight." ~ Florence Scovel Shinn "

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom." ~ James Allen "

Sometimes life doesn’t tell you the “whens” or “whys.” -- Babyface song “Waiting to Exhale” movie soundtrack "

When life is stressing and changing, will you either:

1) interpret it has a time of testing your faith and commitment,

2) a time to use your faith,

3) a time to lose your faith, hope and sanity or

4) see this as a life lesson learned,

5) become motivated to adapt, accept and take action or

6) learn how to avoid this from happening again?

When you are experiencing uncomfortable circumstances, you can choose your disposition about your position. You can either say you are "going" through something or you can say you are "Growing" through something. You can make yourself sick, angry and depressed when you constantly think and debate about the outcomes in your life that cannot be changed or controlled. Make a list of the things you can change. Start there with action and a plan. You only lose time and energy if you continue to whine, wait, worry, weep and wish things were better. Instead of telling God about your big problems --- tell your problems that you have a big God."