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


Updated:  July 13, 2006

Summer in Toronto - the absolute best time of year!  One of the great things we have is our Harbourfront Centre.  Definitely check out the Roots: Remix this weekend - see details below! 

Another FREE Canadian artist CD giveaway - this week the giant, deep, rich bass of DK Ibomeka!  Check out HERE and tell me the name of DK's debut CD.  You must include full mailing address or your submission is void!  Enter contest HERE. Have you ever said to yourself that you'd love to check out a comedy show but never seem to make it?  Do you know the line-up for Karnival Komedy Xplosion?  This is an opportunity to see some Canadian and global comics - see details below.   I had the pleasure of going to the india.arie concert last week - I can't say enough good things so check it out under RECAP.  Check out all the photos in my PHOTO GALLERY.

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.




ROOTS: REMIX: July 14-16

Source:  Harbourfront Centre

Harbourfront Centre
presents a weekend festival peering into the cultural mirrors, reflecting and exploring the old-school and new school styles of arts and culture through a clever incarnation entitled Roots: Remix. This weekend’s theme presents a three-day excursion through time and place, presenting some of the planet’s unique artistic works in music, dance, film and food. Roots:Remix is a live exploration, showcasing how the creative endeavours of the past influence and manifest themselves in the creative cultural arena of the present. Friday night through Sunday these waves of time converge to entertain and fascinate visitors with a creative cultural swirl of yesterday and today. In conjunction with the Centre’s overall seasonal theme of Power of Place, Roots:Remix is the perfect festival where both young and old alike can share and discover the passion of arts and culture together.

Through Roots:Remix, the relationship between arts’ roots and its contemporary form are presented daily, though not exclusively, via place, as Friday’s music gives play to the Filipino connection, Saturday looks to Jamaica and Sunday focuses on an African perspective. Evolutionary sounds are served up as living legends of yesterday play into the young creative stars of today. In music, dance, film and food, Roots:Remix provides rare examples as to how the past plays a necessary role as a continuum to the future. Watch film presentations including Bob Dylan-No Direction Home, PBS’s American Roots Music, Celtic Spirits, Oliver Jones in Africa and get a sneak peek of the much-anticipated documentary-in progress – Legends of Ska. Taste how roots get remixed through the recipes cooked-up in our four, on-site, food demos and through the exotic meals offered by seven World Café vendors. Experience the movement of global cultures through nine incredible and very different choreographed dance performances. See attached for complete list of artists performances and event times and locations. Multiple outdoor and indoor stages at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West, Toronto).

Admission is – as so often is the case at Harbourfront Centre – Free! Public Information is available by calling 416-973-4000 or online at the Harbourfront Centre website.


Friday July 14, 8 pm

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage

EVENT PROFILE: A seven member fusion group who specialize in re-interpreting Brazil's popular music. They perform original compositions in Portuguese, French and Spanish. Combining samba, reggae, bachata and cumbia with funk, rock and ska to create a perfectly mixed tropical punch!

Friday July 14, 9:30 pm

Joe Bataan
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage

EVENT PROFILE: The Canadian debut of East Harlem's best known Afro-Filipino, widely credited as the creator of Latin Soul (and cofounder of the Salsoul label). His legendary releases helped define the New York Latin Funk sound of the 1970s.

Friday July 14, 11 pm
Matalino: Filipino Contributions to Urban Music & Culture featuring DJ Dopey
Brigantine Room
Late Night NOWpresented by Brahma

EVENT PROFILE: Former World DMC (2003) Champion DJ Dopey is one of a number of proud Filipino-Canadians who have made unparalleled contributions to global hip hop music and culture. Join Dopey, D-Scratch (1996 DMC Champ) and the Needillworks crew as they demo turntablism and spin the finest platters for your dancing pleasure.

Saturday July 15, 2 pm
The Jimmy Bowskill Band
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage

EVENT PROFILE:  Although only fifteen, award-winning blues prodigy Jimmy Bowskill has already played with Jeff Healey, Dickey Betts, ZZ Top and Deep Purple! His music, though heavily blues influenced blurs the genres and captivates fresh and experienced audiences alike.

Saturday July 15, 3:30 pm
Carlos del Junco
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage

EVENT PROFILE: Cuban born Carlos Del Junco is a modern day master and pioneer of the ten hole diatonic harmonica. The sophisticated and unique sound produced by del Junco is at once sensitive, soulful and sexy, while never forgetting the rawness inherent in blues music. 
6 time winner - Harmonica Player of the Year - Canadian Maple Blues

Saturday July 15, 8 pm
Seckou Keita Quartet
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage

EVENT PROFILE: A UK-based global mash-up quartet, fronted by ex-Baka Beyond member Seckou Keita and comprised of top musicians from Senegal, Italy, Egypt and Gambia. The quartet incorporates upright bass, violin, congas, calabash, percussion and kora.

Saturday July 15, 9:30 pm
Jamaica to Toronto: Soul, Funk and Reggae 1967-1974.
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
 Presented by Tilley Endurables

EVENT PROFILE: This one time only concert and CD launch brings together legendary Jamaican musicians, some who haven't played together in 30 years! Witness Canadian music history - a reunion featuring Jay Douglas, Lloyd Delpratt (Bob Marley, Jackie Mittoo), Everton Paul (Wayne McGhie), Jo Jo Bennett (Sattalites), Bob and Wisdom (Wisdom's Barber Shop), The Mighty Pope and many.

Saturday July 15, 11 pm
Version XCursion featuring Dubmatix and SystemEcho
Brigantine Room
Late Night NOWpresented by Brahma

EVENT PROFILE:  A journey into 'new-dub' with CKLN's Sassale and Aram Scaram. Sounds shaped by bass heavy melodies, reggae, dub and downtempo.
Special guest Dubmatix brings a dirty mash-up featuring roots, dub & electro-dub. Think Massive Attack meets Smith & Mighty and Thievery Corporation in Toronto.

Sunday July 16, 3 pm
Aurelio Martinez
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage

EVENT PROFILE: Belize's Aurelio Martinez creates a marriage between contemporary music and the sacred rhythms of Central America's Garifuna people. His socially conscious lyrics speak to the concerns of the modern-day Garifuna - just one of the reasons he is known as the new voice of Paranda.

Sunday July 16, 4:30 pm

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
pepsi concert

EVENT PROFILE: Congolese supergroup Kekele bring back Rumba Congolaise - an irresistible mix of Cuban Rumba and African rhythms. Their uplifting music blends enchanting vocals and spellbinding guitar.


Friday July 14, 8:30 pm
Calle 54, documentary
Fernando Trueba, director, 105 mins
Studio Theatre

Spanish with English Subtitles
EVENT PROFILE: Trueba is in love with Latin jazz. This documentary, full of colour, follows 13 giants of Latin jazz into the studio. Featuring Tito Puente, Jerry González, Chucho Valdés and more!

Saturday July 15, 2 pm
All My Children of the Sun, documentary
Jim Brown, director,
PBS Series American Roots Music, 60 mins
Studio Theatre

EVENT PROFILE: An examination of what North Americans call "folk" music, and how the category has expanded to include music such as tejano in south Texas, Cajun in Louisiana and the evolution of Native American music. The film also explores where the blues, country and gospel genres are headed in the 21st century.

Saturday July 15, 8 pm
Celtic Spirits, documentary
National Film Board, 28 mins
Studio Theatre

EVENT PROFILE: Canada's Celtic heritage explored - through music! Folk-singer John Allan Cameron and fiddler Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald, well-known Cape Breton musicians, are the on-camera guides and performers in this film about the roots of Celtic music.

Part One: Saturday July 15, 9 pm
Part Two: Sunday July 16, 5:30 pm
Bob Dylan - No Direction Home, documentary
Martin Scorsese, director, 120 mins
Studio Theatre

EVENT PROFILE: A chronicle of Bob Dylan's strange evolution between 1961 and 1966 from folk singer to protest singer to "voice of a generation" to rock star. The first feature-length biography of Bob Dylan includes previously unseen footage from Dylan's concerts , studio recordings and interviews.

Sunday July 16, 1 pm
Oliver Jones in Africa, documentary
Martin Duckworth, director, 53 mins
Brigantine Room

EVENT PROFILE: Oliver Jones, one of Canada's foremost jazz pianists, tours Nigeria with his bassist Dave Young and drummer Archie Alleyne, discovering in Africa the roots of much of today's music. Hearing and absorbing the musical sources of blues, spirituals, calypso rhythms and more, he reflects that for a Black jazz artist, a trip to Africa is a voyage home.  Followed by Panel Discussion.

Sunday July 16, 4:30 pm
Marron, La Piste Créole en Amérique, documentary
André Gladu, director 85 mins
Brigantine Room
French with English subtitles

EVENT PROFILE: Louisiana's Creole community was largely responsible for the creation of jazz music. André Gladu takes a closer look at this ignored culture and goes along the slave trail - where escaped slaves passed on their spirit of resistance to the Creole people. This meaningful journey sheds light on people who transcended suffering through music.

Debut Sports Presents The Karnival Komedy Xplosion

Source: Debut Sports

Join one of Canada’s fastest rising black 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.

About Debut Sports:

Debut Sports and Entertainment is dedicated to the personal and business service needs of professional athletes and entertainers alike. We specialize in the creation and execution of their events, sponsorship, marketing, endorsements, public relations, speaking engagements and public appearances. We also are dedicated to the marketing and promotion of athletes and entertainers by integrating them into the corporate business world.

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


India.Arie In Concert

What a pleasure to experience an
india.arie concert!  There was so much to see, hear and experience through her soulful lyrics as she took us through her ‘testimony’, which highlights her lessons learned from life and relationships.  Her music is unpretentious and has a deeply affecting element.

Check out all the photos in my PHOTO GALLERY.

The “Iyanla Vanzant of Music’ opened the show with “I Am Not My Hair” completely accessorized with wig, mini dress and high heels.  As the song continued, the wig was thrown, and the dress pulled down to her ankles.  After her first two songs, she changed in her india wear which is colourful, with a mix of African influences, full of movement and only requires flip flops.

Not only did she switch guitars (one bearing Nelson Mandela’s prison number) throughout her sets, but she also played tambourine and flute.  It was an amazing unscripted musical experience and I came away with a feeling of sisterhood and solidarity.  Sounds corny, I know but very true.  And I can’t be the only one that is touched by her influence as she celebrated onstage that
her CD debuted at No. 1 on Billboard

I know some listeners do not ‘get’ her, but for those that do, it was a spiritual and special night.  Here’s a sample of a few lyrics from Testimony:

Wings of Forgiveness

There’s Hope

Better People

I Choose

After everything that we’ve been though

I just want you to know that I still love you

If Nelson Mandela can forgive his oppressors, surely I can forgive your passion

You’re Only Human

It doesn’t cost a thing to smile
You don’t have to pay to laugh
You’d better thank God for that

If young people would talk to old people,

It would make us a better people all around

If old people would talk to young people,

It would make us a better people all around

If I choose To be the best that I can be
To be authentic in everything
My past does not dictate who I am
I Choose

india also performed tracks from her previous CDs, including a funkified version of Brown Skin.  Her encore selection was Ready for Love which brought the mood of the evening to an appropriate end.  After she introduced her entire band, assistant and security, she stuck around for a few minutes signing autographs.  A blessing to the music world, go and

Special thanks to my friend at Universal Music who hooked up the ticket for me! 


Montreal Bistro Abruptly Closes After 25 Years, Shocking Patrons

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 6, 2006) Vocalist
Gabi Epstein's visions of making her Toronto debut at the city's oldest existing jazz venue were abruptly halted by an email in the night.  That was how she found out Tuesday that the Montreal Bistro was shutting down.  Customers found out yesterday, with a note on the door:  "Dear Patrons, The Montreal Bistro has closed its doors for good. Thank you for all your support and loyalty for so many years," read the typewritten note taped to the door of the Sherbourne St. venue yesterday.  McGill University music grad Epstein, 21, "freaked out for 20 minutes" then rallied resources to locate another club to accommodate the 70 plus friends and relatives who'd planned to attend last night's show.  Within the wistfulness is the subtext of the Bistro's demise coming exactly one year after the closing of the Top O' the Senator jazz club. While the Senator's closure was related to the need for more theatre diners to fuel its adjacent dining room, jazz promoter Sybil Walker flouted industry speculation that Bistro owners Lothar and Brigitte Lang simply accelerated a discussed retirement because of a lease disagreement with their landlord.  In brief emails to the Toronto Star Lothar wrote: "After a long fight to overcome several severe setbacks and with no immediate help on the horizon, we had to close.... We wish the circumstances were different. It is not easy for all of us to realize that after 25 years we just lost our livelihood."  It won't be easy for jazz lovers to find a replacement for the 25-year-old institution, comparable to New York's celebrated Village Vanguard for the plethora of talent and notable recordings it has hosted.  "This is a great loss," said trumpeter Jim Galloway, artistic director of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival.  "It was really a great club to play and it put Toronto on the map."

"For me it's quite sad," said drummer Don Vickery. "It was a wonderful place to go and hear music and socialize with other musicians."  "This isn't a reflection on jazz, although it looks like it," said Walker, who managed the Senator for 15 years.  "This has always been a vital jazz town. I don't know another city that has as many colleges and universities pumping out such great musicians and the recent Festival did very well."  Ross Porter, president and CEO of Jazz FM 91, agrees the loss of the Bistro is not an indication of the audience for jazz in the city.  "We've been doing well," he said, noting his station's 320,000 weekly listeners, "and we've seen an increase in the number of donors."  The Langs, married 33 years, were honoured for lifetime achievement at the National Jazz Awards earlier this year. The 120-seat Bistro has hosted legends such as Oscar Peterson and Phil Nimmons and nurtured the early days of Diana Krall and Joshua Redman.  "When you sat on that stage you were surrounded by jazz history," recalled pianist Ron Davis.  "And they had a fantastic piano that had been played by greats like Jay McShann and Marian McPartland. This is not just a loss for Toronto, there are fewer and fewer good jazz clubs left in North America."  Last month, Galloway recorded a CD there. "That's going to be a bittersweet thing when it's released in the fall," he said of the yet untitled album. "The Bistro was a warm room acoustically; it worked well for duo and well for big band.  "Everyone likes to make cracks about club owners, but Lothar and Brigitte really did care about the music. This is not an easy thing for them to do."  While Walker concedes that "people going out less" and a stretched entertainment dollar may be affecting the audience for jazz, she and other jazz stalwarts are encouraging others to jump into the void left by the Bistro to bolster a field which includes The Rex Hotel and Red Guitar Art House Café.

"We've got to look at this as an opportunity to create another business model," said Porter. "There's a need, we just need someone with an entrepreneurial spirit."  Adds Pat Taylor, executive producer of the Toronto Jazz Festival: "We're putting the word out that we will support them. Not financially, but we know real estate agents and properties that may be for sale. If I was a few years younger I'd open up a jazz club here."  Epstein was looking forward to being part of the Bistro's tradition of breaking new talent. Accompanied by a pianist, she was to deliver her blend of pop, jazz and show tunes last night for the first time in a public setting.  "I sent my demo to about 40 places and they were the only ones that responded. My dad is a huge jazz fan and in his mind the Bistro was the place to always be. This was a huge big deal."  But Tuesday night she got an apologetic email from Lothar Lang.  When the shock wore off she got on the phone.  "I had tons of people coming and a gig ready and no venue," said the North York resident, "I was tempted to bring everyone to my house if I had to."  But she managed to get into The Trane Studio on Bathurst St. — courtesy of the owners delaying their vacation for a day.  "All I was thinking was that `this place is closing, but the show must go on,' it has to."

`Little Problems' Doomed Jazz Club

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 7, 2006) Lothar Lang says he's down but not out, and was as surprised as everyone else at his need to suddenly close the
Montreal Bistro & Jazz Club.  The 59-year-old German native, who moved here with his Swiss wife Brigitte in 1973, says he is out of work and on the brink of declaring bankruptcy. The couple are faced with the legal implications of walking away from the last 18 months of their venue's five-year lease.  Still he hasn't lost his renowned sense of humour. "We finally have time to clean the house for a change," he quipped in a phone interview yesterday. Well, barely — the Langs have been inundated with phone calls and emails since news got out Wednesday that the end had come for their 25-year-old club, a full-time jazz destination since 1991.  Lang made the difficult decision Sunday after reviewing the books and realizing he wouldn't be able to pay his July rent.  "The last three months have been extremely tough for business," he said.  The Bistro had managed to stay afloat through the business decline wrought by SARS in 2003 and the departure of nearby recording studios, but Lang said they were finally done in by a recent series of setbacks:

  A local power outage on the
· Victoria Day weekend that knocked out Saturday — their busiest night.

  A· diminishing audience, especially among jazz fans from France who usually started showing up in April and May.

  Three· sell-out shows by pianist Jay McShann were cancelled in May due to the Oklahoma elder's illness.

 · Lukewarm turnouts during their just-ended Toronto Jazz Festival dates, despite packed shows for some acts such as pianist Cedar Walton and saxist George Coleman, who was the last to grace the Bistro's stage Saturday night.

"Do I blame it maybe on too much jazz?" mulled Lang. "I don't know. Maybe people are getting tired of it. Maybe people (in outlying areas) are looking in the paper and seeing there was another shooting wherever in the city and wondering if it's worth it to come in. We don't know."  With the traditionally slow summer weeks looming, Lang decided to bail.  "Yes, I could've called the landlord up like in previous years and said, `Can I split the rent up in half and pay the rest later?' But you dig yourself deeper in the hole.  "Before all the little problems started, I approached the landlord several times to find a solution — to either reduce our space or give us a rent reduction. We just couldn't come to an arrangement ... but he has been as helpful as he possibly could be, under the circumstances."  Looking after the Sherbourne St. site for the unnamed owner is Mary Jane Lawson, director of commercial property for Colonia Treuhand Management Inc. She said yesterday they were "deeply sorry (Lang) was not able to continue."  "He was a great tenant," she said, adding that everyone was still "shocked" at the closing and no decision has been made about the future of the premises. "I guess we'll be looking for a restaurant to replace him."  While considering filing for bankruptcy, Lang stressed that the Bistro staff of 20 have all been paid. He said that after a break, he and his wife will be "looking at another opportunity," preferably in a location with a lot of foot traffic.  "We'd like to get back into jazz. Yes, we're looking for another place, we're definitely looking for investors.  "We're looking for the next generation who wants to do what we started 25 years ago; then we could be mentors."

Arie, With A Little Help From Her Friends

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Brad Wheeler

(Jul. 7, 2006) To complete her new album, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, it took soul singer
India.Arie three years -- one year to get the music together and two more to compose the liner notes. Six pages of the CD-booklet are dedicated to thanks, and these aren't any garden-variety shout-outs to the homies, either.  Checked-off names include Nelson Mandela, Tyra Banks, Prince, Louis Farrakhan, Denzel Washington, Bill Withers, Oprah Winfrey, Vivica Fox, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and George Benson. Heck, it's the Million Man March, plus some awfully high-priced cheerleaders. But then, Arie had gone through heartbreak and come out the other side (the album's central theme), and maybe she could use all the friends and support she could get.  Or maybe she just rolls with a high crowd. Since nabbing a whopping seven Grammy nominations for 2001's Acoustic Soul, Arie has no shortage of fans. We're worried, though. With all those shout outs, that soft, dusky voice of hers may have been damaged. Tell us please, India.Arie, that you'll be fine for the big show tonight. I'll be ready," she says, with a hearty laugh (good sign!). "I'm really looking forward to it." Over the phone, her voice sounds swell, so we'll keep her on the line and see what else she has to say -- about Oprah, about Denzel, and about Erykah Badu's wacky hair.

That's quite a list of big shots in the album liner notes. Do you hang out with Denzel Washington and the others?

I don't hang out with Denzel Washington. He mentioned me in an Essence magazine interview, that my music inspired him. I wrote him a letter and he wrote me back. My music, of all things, was what he played when he filmed Antwone Fisher. Me of all people.

You of all people? But that's what you're trying to do, inspire people, right?

Yes, it is. One of my goals is to inspire people through my music.

It appears you're succeeding.

It's fantastic. It's been that way since my first album, when Elton John said it was his favourite album of the year on Larry King Live. It's been that way, when I was on with Oprah Winfrey, she said we needed that song [2002's Video]. I find peace in those things. You don't always get the outward accolades that you feel you should get.

But all those Grammy nominations. It's not like you're not getting recognition.

But those other things mean so much more. It's a sign I'm on the path I'm intending to be on.

You've been called the folk-singing Oprah. You're a fan of hers?

It's hard to be a black American woman and not be a fan of Oprah. But the first time I heard it -- the Oprah of Music -- they said it in a cynical way. It annoyed me, because I feel like they were being disrespectful. Now, I hear it as a way to define what I'm doing. And I think that's cool.

The new song, I Am Not My Hair, what are we talking about there?

When I decided to cut my locks, or when I decided to have long braids down to my butt, people looked at me crazy. What difference does it make? That's what the song is really saying. I define myself for myself.

Someone like Erykah Badu, who literally flipped her wig on Chappelle's Block Party, would relate.

We're on the same wavelength. I saw her, and she was like "that song is so bad [good]." Her whole hair thing has been a big issue, because it's supposed to define who she is.

Early in your career, there was an article that compared you to Nina Simone, specifically her song To Be Young, Gifted and Black. That's a pretty heavy comparison.

People have told me that my energy, or the strength of my music, even the bone structure of my face compared to Nina Simone, even before I had a record. But when Denzel Washington says things, or Oprah, or if I'm called the Iyanla Vanzant of Music, or if I'm compared to Nina Simone, it's all heavy to me.

India.Arie plays the Danforth Music Hall Theatre today, 8 p.m. $38.50 to $48.50. 147 Danforth Ave., 416-870-8000.

Phinally! Pharrell Makes Up His 'Mind'

Excerpt from - Clover Hope

(July 7, 2006)
Pharrell Williams' solo debut, "In My Mind," has had almost as many release dates as a cat has lives. First slated to street last November, then December, then early 2006, then April, the Star Trak/Interscope album is now locked in for July 25.  And Williams, best-known as one-half of production/writing team the Neptunes, says he has no one but himself to blame for the holdup.  "I'm a big kid," he confesses from London, where he is touring in support of the new disc. "I was being super artistic, and I wasn't listening to anybody. I really didn't give Interscope a chance to catch up with me in terms of promotion."  Eager to push his solo debut, the self-professed perfectionist says he prematurely issued the Gwen Stefani-featured lead single "Can I Have It Like That" late last year, while other tracks remained unmixed. His excitement also drove the release of a music video overseas for second single "Angel." Meanwhile, Interscope had yet to set up marketing and promotional strategies for the project. "At a certain point, [Interscope CEO] Jimmy Iovine was like, 'You gotta slow down a little bit, get us up to speed and explain what you're trying to do,' " Williams says.  But in the interim, the Virginia-raised producer failed to capitalize on any momentum that might have been created by "Can I Have It Like That," which peaked at No. 32 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

"It's always hard to release a successful single and not follow up with an album," Star Trak president Yaneley Arty says. "But Pharrell felt that he had more to add to this record."   One addition is his current self-produced single "Number 1" featuring Kanye West. The track is leisurely creeping up the urban charts but has yet to break onto the Billboard Hot 100.  "Everybody knows Pharrell, but the strategy is to work him like he's a new artist," Interscope urban promotion executive Kevin Black says. "We're marketing him across the board, from clubs and colleges to independent retailers."  Arty views the producer's familiarity as a plus: "Most of his fans recognize that he's always been an artist."  Still, Williams has yielded better results behind the boards (Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot," to name a few of his many hits) than on the mic. The 2003 Neptunes-produced set "The Neptunes Present . . . Clones" (Star Trak/Arista), which featured such artists as Nas, Kelis, Ludacris and Nelly performing alone and with Williams on a few tracks, moved 821,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  The album bowed atop The Billboard 200 and spawned Williams' first hit solo record, "Frontin'," featuring Jay-Z. In contrast, N.E.R.D., the trio Williams formed with Neptunes partner Chad Hugo and their childhood pal Shay, sold 674,000 copies of its 2002 Star Trak/Virgin debut, "In Search Of." 2004 follow-up "Fly or Die" shifted 412,000 units.   Williams insists that "In My Mind" is not an attempt to echo the commercial success of his production work. "I don't see myself selling 5 million records," he says. "For me it's about having fun, not trying to fit in. I've already sold tons of records as a producer." 

The original premise of "In My Mind" -- seven R&B tracks and seven hip-hop cuts -- stands, as well as the guest slots by Jay-Z, Snoop, Slim Thug and the Clipse. Instrumentation is heavy and reminiscent of the Neptunes' sound, which is dictated by hard drumlines, eccentric keys and lush violins. While the hip-hop tracks test Williams' rhyming skills, the jazzier R&B cuts boast his signature Prince-like falsetto.  With the album release drawing near, Williams seems to be back on track. A new N.E.R.D. disc is in the works, plus upcoming production projects for Slim Thug, the Clipse, Robin Thicke, Fam-Lay, Jay-Z, Ludacris and Velvet Revolver, among others. Additionally, Louis Vuitton recently drafted Williams for its fall and winter ad campaigns. He also plans to expand Star Trak.  If fans don't tag along for his solo ride, they will still be able to find him easily. "It's great when the rest of the world gets my music," he says, "but if they don't, I can connect with them through Snoop, Jay, Beyonce, Ludacris ..." And the list goes on.

Italy Captures World Cup

Source: Associated Press

(July 9, 2006) Berlin —
Italy let France do nearly anything it wanted Sunday, except win the World Cup. That belongs to the Azzurri, 5-3 in a shootout after a 1-1 draw. Outplayed for an hour and into extra time, the Italians won it after French captain Zinedine Zidane was ejected in the 107th minute for a vicious butt to the chest of Marco Materazzi. It was the ugliest act of a tournament that set records for yellow and red cards, diving and, at times, outright brutality. And it was the last move for Zidane, who is retiring. Without their leader for the shootout, the French only missed once. But Italy, rarely strong in such situations, made all five. Fabio Grosso clinched the Azzurri's fourth championship, and his teammates had to chase him halfway across the pitch to celebrate.

Only Brazil has more World Cups, five. Until now, no team since the last Azzurri champions in 1982 had to endure the stress and anguish of a soccer scandal. Rather than be disrupted by the current probe ripping apart the national sport back home, the Italians survived. In the final, they outlasted France, which underwent a renaissance of its own in the last month. The French controlled the flow of play, only to fail to finish through 120 minutes. Their only goal, Zidane's penalty kick in the seventh minute, was the lone score by an Italy opponent in seven games. But the Italians put the ball into the net 12 minutes later on Materazzi's header off a corner kick. And then they held on in a game marked by sloppiness and venom. This was hardly artistic on either side, and rarely did Italy threaten over the final 75 minutes. But the Azzurri ignored recent history — they lost a quarterfinal shootout to France in 1998, when Les Bleus went on to their only championship. Andrea Pirlo, Materazzi, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Del Piero all easily beat France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez in the shootout. The difference was the miss by rarely used David Trezeguet, which hit the crossbar on France's second attempt. When Grosso connected with his left foot, the sliver of Italian fans in the opposite corner of Olympic Stadium finally could let out their breath — and screams of victory.

On the trophy stand, amid hugs and slaps on the back, Materazzi placed a red, white and green top hat on the Jules Rimet Trophy. Captain Fabio Cannavaro then held it high as cameras flashed everywhere. An impromptu Tarantella by the players followed as silver confetti fluttered around them. It was, by far, the prettiest sight of the night. With a 25-game unbeaten streak dating back nearly two years, the Italians added this title to their championships in 1934, 1938 and '82 — when another match-fixing investigation plagued Serie A. The hero then in Spain was striker Paolo Rossi, fresh off a two-year suspension for his role in match-fixing. This time, there were a dozen stars and a coach, Marcello Lippi, who seemed to make all the right moves. Italy won its first-round group over the higher-ranked United States and Czech Republic, and Ghana. Then it beat Australia on a controversial penalty in the second-half extra time that Francesco Totti converted. It routed Ukraine 3-0 before depressing the host nation with two stunning goals in the final minutes of extra time for a semifinal win over Germany.

Jays' Ryan Picks Up Win For AL Squad

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
- Jeff Blair

(July 12, 2006) PITTSBURGH — B.J. Ryan of the Toronto Blue Jays said a day earlier that he considered Mariano Rivera the best closer ever. Last night, Ryan experienced a sensation he may not ever get again: having Rivera save a game for him. And not just any game.
The All-Star Game. How did it feel to know he was coming in behind me?” Ryan said after the American League's 3-2 win over the National League at PNC Park. “Cozy, is how it felt.” Maybe this really is the dawn of a new era. After spending much of the day tending to the business of the game and stressing the need for increased vigilance in pursuit of performance-enhancing cheats, commissioner Bud Selig sat back with the rest of the 38,904 in attendance and watched the AL use small-ball to sneak past the NL for the ninth time in the past 10 all-star games. The win secured home advantage for the AL team in the World Series.

The Blue Jays' Alex Rios, who was chosen to the AL team in a vote of players, coaches and managers, could not play because he is on the disabled list. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, chosen to be on Ozzie Guillen's coaching staff, split third-base coaching duties and saw all four of his players figure prominently in the outcome. Ryan was the pitcher of record, retiring the side in the eighth inning on 10 pitches, all of them strikes. Troy Glaus came in to play third base in the sixth, but finished the game at first base. He hit a ground-rule double in the ninth inning to set the stage for Michael Young's two-run triple that gave the AL its margin of victory. Vernon Wells, who started in centre field in place of Manny Ramirez, was 1-for-2 and threw out Alfonso Soriano trying to score from second base on a Carlos Beltran single in the third. “Really, I was just focused on getting to the ball, because it was coming at me pretty quickly and I didn't want it to go through my legs,” Wells said. “Once I caught it, it was just a matter of throwing it some place in the area of home plate.” Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of all this was Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, who until the ninth-inning rally stood to be the losing pitcher after giving up three hits and a run in two innings in relief of starter Kenny Rogers. Halladay sweated his way through his 22-pitch outing, allowing a couple of stolen bases, including a steal of third by Beltran, and unleashing a run-scoring wild pitch. But in the end, it didn't matter. By hook or by crook, the AL owns the NL in these games. Period.

“Well, they say good pitching's supposed to stop good hitting,” Wells said. “I guess that's why you can't be surprised when you see a game like this.” The contest was played in a brisk 2 hours 33 minutes. The teams traded second-inning home runs — Vladimir Guerrero for the AL, David Wright for the NL — but the rest of the game was taut, crackling stuff. Rivera, the Yankees' closer, needed to get the final out with the tying run on second after a fielding error by Jose Lopez. He came through, getting Carlos Lee to pop up to Young, the second baseman, who was chosen as the game's most valuable player. Jason Bay from Trail, B.C., played the majority of the game in his home ballpark and was 1-for-3, splitting time between right field and left. Bay was elected as a starter in fan balloting after being an unused bench player in the 2005 game at Detroit's Comerica Park. Pittsburgh had been friendly to the NL in these games. The league had won all four of the previous All-Star Games played here. And the NL had to like its chances in the ninth inning with Trevor Hoffman closing out the game by getting two quick outs. But then Paul Konerko singled on a two-strike pitch. Glaus bounced a double over the low wall in left field, forcing pinch runner Lopez to hold at third base. Then Young came through in the clutch. “At that point, all I was trying to do was just extend the inning, that's all,” said Glaus, who also hit into a double play. “You know that you're going to be bringing in Mo [Rivera] if you can get the lead, so you're just trying to get on base.”

The Blue Jays didn't exactly sprint to the all-star break. But Ryan said the win was satisfying. “Any time you can get your horse [Halladay] off the hook, you have to like it,” he said. Glaus agreed and said that Wells's throw was just another play by “a special player who can pretty much do whatever you need to do on the baseball field.”


T.O. Ex-Pat Performed With Peaches, Produced Feist

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Murray Whyte, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 8, 2006) It's been a while,
Chilly Gonzales allows, since he last played Toronto. "It just seemed better not to revisit the scene of the crime, you know?" he says, his voice rumbling with the early stages of a cold picked up on his flight from Paris this week.  "I had a traumatic experience when I was leaving Canada, a little bit," he continues. "So I just said, `It's not for me.'"  Cryptic? A little. Theatrical? A lot. Gonzales hasn't made his wildly eclectic way in the music industry without a little drama.  He also hasn't done it without more than a little talent. Some will know him as the partner-in-crime of Peaches, the foul-mouthed local rap mistress with whom he decamped to Berlin in 2000. Others will remember his modestly successful mid-'90s indie rock band, Son. Most should know him, though, for his work as the producer on Let It Die, the glowingly received solo album from Broken Social Scene's Leslie Feist that became an indie smash-hit in Canada and Europe.  But back to the trauma. In the late 1990s, Son was dwindling. Gonzales — then he was known by his given name, Jason Beck — was dabbling in a side project, a band called The Shit, with the soon-to-be-infamous Peaches.  When Son's third album wasn't picked up by their label, Warner Music, Gonzales was unperturbed.  "I was a believer in all sorts of myths — myths like there's such a thing as serious music, myths like you shouldn't try to please people, you should please yourself, and if people like it, it's a bonus," he said. "Since I've gone to Europe, I predicate the entire existence of Gonzales on trying to dispel those myths."

Now the Gonzales part. When he and Peaches — Merrill Lasker, that is — decamped to Berlin, it was with an eye toward reinvention. Apropos of nothing, someone shouted "Chilly Gonzales" at him on the street one day, and it stuck.  Releasing three albums on Kitty-yo, an independent label, Gonzales veered from electro-disco to lounge to rap with gleeful abandon. He and Peaches often performed together, with their gaudy costuming and raunchy lyrical mockery — Peaches is far-famed for her sexually explicit, often anatomically referenced rap; Gonzales's was more spoofish — the pair became rulers of Berlin's explosive urban culture scene.  Peaches, on return visits to perform, came home a bombastic, fearless star (she still lives in Berlin), while Gonzales never came home at all. In 2003, he moved to Paris, to work with producer Renaud Letang, renowned for putting together the wildly successful debut album from Manu Chao. He ended up working with fellow Toronto transplant Feist on her album.  Then, last year, an invitation came in: Would he be interested in playing Pop Montreal? He gave it a try. "I had a really positive experience," he said. "I just thought, `Okay, the trauma isn't there anymore."  Tonight's performance at Harbourfront Centre isn't exactly a reprise of The Shit, please note. Rather, it's a return to Gonzales's musical training: A suite of melancholic piano numbers from his most recent solo album, Solo Piano.  Making Let It Die, which crossed musical genres and styles with abandon, while above all serving as a showcase for Feist's arresting vocals, opened a window for him: That an artist could have a broad appeal, while maintaining his or her intent.

"She's touched more people than any of the Canadians that left for Europe in my immediate crew," he said. "That's why my acupuncturist and my grandmother finally feel like I made a record that counts as real music. What I did before didn't really count as music."  Not that he's looking to disown his previous work. "I'm proud of the fact that I went as far as I did into that world, which I don't think I could have done in Canada with all that baggage. I couldn't have just become a rapper here," he laughed. "I still feel like I'm stomping over those musical borders."  Which is part of why he left, and also why he could come back. "Cynicism arises from over-familiarity, and, as Anthony Robbins says, expecting a different result from the same actions," he says, citing a favourite touchstone for himself. "That's why leaving is important: because leaving where you live makes you a lot less cynical."

Singing The Praises Of The Peg

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
Martin Knelman

(Jul. 12, 2006) Call me a Winnipeg chauvinist, but I must say that Harbourfront Centre's upcoming
From the Peg is long overdue. For decades, Toronto has neglected Winnipeg and overlooked its cultural achievements.  Meanwhile Toronto has been happily welcoming waves of refugees from Winnipeg who have moved east and made this city a livelier place. Such cultural stars as author Margaret Laurence, dancer Evelyn Hart, theatrical guru John Hirsch, rocker Neil Young and film festival auteur Guy Maddin have all come out of Winnipeg.  Anyone who knows the art world can tell you that Winnipeg's Exchange District is one of the most stimulating creative environments in the country — and that Winnipeg-published Border Crossings is one of the best cultural-affairs magazines Canada has ever had.  A little known bit of pop-cult history: King of Kensington, the most successful sitcom the CBC has ever had, was based on memories that its creators — Hirsch and TV director Perry Rosemond — had of their days in North Winnipeg. But before the show reached the air, North Winnipeg was turned into Kensington Market.  Now finally for three days, from July 28 to 30, Harbourfront will salute Winnipeg with a multimedia cultural jamboree that covers film, theatre, dance, classical music, pop music and literature — mostly in a funky, counter-culture kind of way. The festival has a budget of $100,000 — some of which is being covered by that pillar of the Manitoba business establishment, Great-West Life.  Thus it has come to pass that Harbourfront is showcasing 40-plus other film and video offerings from Winnipeg. Other highlights of the festival include performances by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Contemporary Dancers and an exhibit of current Aboriginal art.

Among the pop musicians performing will be The Weakerthans, The Waking Eyes and the Juno Award-winning Celtic group The Duhks.  A taste of fringe theatre, western style, will be evident in Open Prairie (in which two actors explain farm life by portraying 20 characters within an hour). Performance artists Lorri Milan and Shawna Dempsey will do their trademark Lesbian Park Rangers comedy routine.  But ironically what is earning media attention is the one item that has been dropped from the extensive lineup — a satiric film called Death by Popcorn: The Tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets — about how Winnipeg lost its hockey team.  Is the film a victim of censorship? Not exactly. It features 10 minutes of old footage that was being thrown into the garbage by CTV's Winnipeg station, CKY. And once the film began to be noticed, CTV stepped in to complain that the filmmakers had never officially been granted the right to use the footage.  Not only can't Winnipeg have major-league hockey it can't even have a film explaining how this happened.

CSN&Y Roll Out Big Guns

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

(Jul. 12, 2006) It was a fair bet that
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young would be preaching to the converted when their Freedom of Speech '06 tour pulled into the Air Canada Centre on Monday night for the first of two shows.  The question was how much of the packed house was made up of choristers who shared the outing's anti-war, anti-Bush message and how many were fans who would religiously turn out for any CSNY reunion show.  A healthy measure of each, to be sure. But judging by the response to the material, probably more of the latter.  The concert opened with a heavy emphasis on Neil Young's current protest album, Living With War. The response was enthusiastic enough. And Young did his best to rally the crowd to the cause, particularly when driving home the refrain "We don't need no more lies" from the song "The Restless Consumer."  Even then, it wasn't clear whether the new songs would have gotten the same support if written by one of the other three. The Toronto-born icon — at 60, the youngest of the four — looked immeasurably fitter and more energetic than he did last summer at Live 8 after recovering from a near-fatal aneurysm. And that alone was more than ample cause for celebration Monday night.  The audience wasn't fully engaged until the quartet returned from intermission to open an acoustic set drawing on such old favourites as "Our House," "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" and, later, "Teach Your Children" — songs that had no direct connection to the program's stated theme.  The band members themselves initially appeared reluctant to push the anti-war message too hard. David Crosby did signal a strident tone, congratulating Canadians by saying, "The longer we have that chimpanzee in the White House, the smarter you guys look."

There was very little, however, to match that in terms of political passion or disillusionment until the heavy guns were brought out near the end of the show. It was clear, for all the questions raised by right-wing pundits about Young's Canadian citizenship, that the reunion tour's presentation is overwhelmingly aimed at a U.S. audience.  "Find the Cost of Freedom" from 1971's 4 Way Street was performed against a backdrop of photographs of the 2,537 casualties suffered by the U.S. in Iraq. It was followed by an odd and largely unsuccessful bit of stage work that involved a recorded version of the "Star Spangled Banner," billows of dry ice and flapping yellow ribbons.  Young restored the momentum by launching into "Let's Impeach the President." But, again, the response was more muted than moments later when Stephen Stills reached back for his generation-defining Buffalo Springfield hit, "For What it's Worth," followed by Graham Nash at the piano for "Chicago" and then Young introducing the familiar chords to "Ohio," his 1970 eulogy to the Vietnam war protesters killed by the National Guard on the campus at Kent State.  Maybe the current war, which hasn't yet inspired the same level of resistance, added to the resonance. Or maybe the audience just dug the music.

After Bout With Alcoholism Donell Jones Is Back

Source: Ra-Fael Blanco | VP of Media Relations, 2R's Entertainment & Media |

(July 7, 2006) New York, NY – Singer/producer/songwriter Donell Jones lands his first number 1 album ever with "Journey of A Gemini".  "Journey" sold over 49,000 units, securing Donell the number 1 album in the Top R&B/Hip-hop charts and the Number 15 slot on the Billboard 200 charts.   Donell Jones returned to the scene after a 3 year hiatus with the first single Better Start Talking, featuring platinum producer Jermaine Dupri.  He later released what has become the summer mid-tempo smash I’m Gonna Be, produced by hit makers, Tim and Bob.   "Journey of a Gemini", also includes the confessional song "Portrait of a Woman", which he co-produced.   "This is my confession to the woman that I caused so much pain", says Donell.  Donell's "Journey" has not been an easy voyage. He has overcome several personal challenges in life which have allowed him to say he is more than a conqueror. One of those challenges was his battle with alcoholism, which he dealt with for quite some time.  "The thought of not knowing if I was going to still have a record deal after the various mergers and record label shut-downs, drove me almost crazy", he says.

After months of fighting his battle, Donell checked himself into a rehab clinic with the help of friends and family and obtained the necessary care that he needed for himself and his four daughters. He is now a sober and focused man that would like to serve as an inspiration to others and let them know, it's ok to admit that there is a problem, just listen to your heart and your family, says Donell.  Jones 4th album Journey of a Gemini  was released on June 20, and invited listeners to experience both the good and bad sides of this talented Gemini. Jones, who normally writes and produces most of his records, collaborated with several producers on this project.  “Working with a lot of different people opened me up and made me a better writer and a better producer,” says Donell. “Journey Of A Gemini” features production by The Underdogs (Omarion, Fantasia,) Tim and Bob (Bobby Valentino) and Sean Garrett (Ciara) among others. Jones grew up in Chicago. At the age of 11, he taught himself how to play the keyboard, started performing in his high school lunchroom and, eventually, joined a singing group, a decision that helped him stay away from the dangers of Chi-town tough street life. Years later, Jones got his first real break in the music industry, after meeting Untouchable Entertainment CEO and Founder Eddie F.   Although in the beginning Donell Jones lent his writing skills and vocal arrangements to Usher, Silk and even Madonna (1994 hit album Bedtime Stories), his distinct sound was introduced to the public by his first full length effort, My Heart. In 2000, Jones earned an American Music Award for Favourite New Soul/R&B Artist with the sophomore platinum album Where I Wanna Be. The album featured the hit single “U Know What’s Up.” His third album Life Goes On was driven by the hit single “You Know That I Love You.”

Listen to “I’m Gonna Be” – Donell Jones: CLICK HERE

Keyshia Cole: Songbird Knows And Shows 'The Way It Is'

Excerpt from - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(July 12, 2006) *After delivering her red-hot debut album, "The Way It Is,"
Keyshia Cole is currently trying to figure out a name for her very own record label, although she has definitely figured out how to make a name for herself. The twenty-something songstress, who grew up in a tough neighbourhood in Oakland, California has turned tumultuousness into tenacity and has ventured beyond a singing career into an entertainment business with a boutique label and a reality series. "I'm getting a label deal with my record label," she announced to EUR's Lee Bailey. "I'm signing one of my best friends from Oakland, and that's a wonderful feeling. I'm getting myself together as a businesswoman and entrepreneur! I haven't figure out a name yet. I know it's gotta be something that I want to be around for a long time." Like the beginning of an urban tragedy, Cole reminisced on what life was like growing up in foster care and how that experience is playing a big part in her reality series "The Way It Is," which premieres on BET tonight, Wednesday, July 12th at 9:30 pm. She says that the show really focuses on growing up, coming up, giving back, and being a role model. "That's what we're kind of doing with the reality series. In that kind of predicament, if you don't have a good role model to look up to, sometimes in those situations you can drift off and do the wrong thing," she said. "You know, your morals and values that you grow up learning, you have to stick to 'em and it's kind of hard when you're doing it by yourself. That's what the reality series is about - being in those predicaments and then being what I am today and still growing."

Cole had a role model of sorts in the industry, too. When she was just 13, she had the opportunity to hang with legendary rapper Tupac Shakur, whose death helped her realize that sometimes you have to seize the day and make something happen. "[Tupac] always said I was going to be a big star. I was kind of singing, but I was only 13. When he passed away, it kind of made me pay attention to the things that I feel I am [blessed with]. And to this day I do." Now, she is motivating aspiring artist as well as making them stars. She's launching her own record label and has returned home to recruit for the roster. "Amina Harris is the first artist that I am signing to my label," she reported. "She's my best friend. It's always good to go back home to someone you grew up with and you've been doing it with your whole life, and then you go off and you make it and you go back and you get 'em and you put them on your label - that's a great accomplishment for me." The change, or rather, addition in her career is just one of the progressive moves the singer has made. In building the basis of an empire, Cole talked with the EUR about how she never forgets where she's from and how that motivates her to get where she's going. "I changed so much. I didn't used to have no money. I was broke as hell.  I didn't have anyone to look up to; I didn't have anywhere to go. I was pretty much homeless," she said. "But God is good. I made it through a hell of a lot.

My mother has been on drugs her whole life, I don't know who my father was, I've been adopted - it is a wonderful feeling to be that girl that came from that." The newcomer was a nominee for BET's Viewers Choice Award and for Best Female R&B Artist Award for her video "Love." In the Best Female category she was among the likes of seasoned songbirds Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, and India.Arie (the award went to Mary J. Blige) and found it to be an extreme honour, but said she doesn't get really worked up over award shows. "At the end of the day, I feel blessed to be named with the names in my category, like Mariah, and just to be a part of the tribute to Chaka - that's legendary to me, but winning is not my goal." In closing the singer shared her secret to her success so far: "[My faith] is everything to me. This business picks at you and takes pieces of you. It makes you give too much of yourself. It takes things out of you. One day you look at yourself and you're not yourself anymore. You always want to hold on to yourself." In the meantime, fans of Keyshia Cole are holding tightly to her latest project and holding on to the high hopes of the follow-up. For more on Keyshia Cole's upcoming projects, check out

Can That Be Etta James?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Brad Wheeler

(July 8, 2006) It didn't take long.
Etta James had sung but one song — the sinister, druggy, funk number Out on the Street Again — when a woman in Toronto's Hummingbird Centre balcony abruptly got up to leave. A rushed judgment, perhaps? More likely, she could hardly believe her eyes. James, a rhythm-and-blues singer of remarkable history, was, at age 68, clearly only half the woman she used to be. Some shadow. The lady in the gallery returned quickly with a mini pair of binoculars, rented for a five-spot down in the lobby for just this kind of thing — to get a better look at a singer who was much smaller than expected. Not that the seat was remote — it was the star performer who was the far cry. You see, James, for years addicted to food and other things, had recently dropped what appeared to be 150 pounds or so, quite a noticeable change from her pre-gastric-surgery size. Good for her. A day after the show, speaking from her downtown hotel room, James talked at length about her weight loss, her past, and her childhood dream of becoming, of all things, a wayfaring hobo. “I had tried to reduce many, many ways,” James says, in a voice that has coarsened over the years. “Nothing worked, nothing at all worked. I don't care if I went to Jenny Craig every night, it didn't matter.”

What worked for James was a procedure frankly suggested to her by Roseanne Barr, the comedic actress and well-known bulge-battler. “I loved to eat,” James freely admits. “I love to eat now, but not like I used to. I like lox and cream cheese and bagels — I'm almost Jewish when it comes to that.” James, actually of Italian and African-American descent, claims the lost bulk hasn't affected her singing — “as a matter of fact it helps me sing louder” — but who's to know. On her new All the Way, a soulful, lushly produced album of covers (Johnny Guitar Watson's Strung Out, Simply Red's Holding Back the Years, and the gripping title song being the strongest tracks), the voice seems wearier, but warm and earthy. She claims she has more energy these days, but James is reduced to conducting much of her performance from the seat of a chair, set out in front of an eight-piece band that includes her eldest son, drummer Donto James. The singer does walk about the stage occasionally, but unsteadily. She has had knee troubles in the past, and now has the self-conscious gait of someone who's testing out a new pair of shoes. James still has a bit of a strut about her though, and more than once she does a little spot of bump and grind. “Yeah, my booty dance,” she says later, “still gotta do that.” The song Out on the Street Again was first recorded by James in 1974, an era that found the embattled singer struggling with a long-term addiction to heroin. And so she slyly sings lines about getting off and being satisfied, on gritty exchanges between pusher and doper.

James is clean now, has been for quite some time. If the song doesn't tell the story, her book, 1994's Rage to Survive, gets into it in sordid detail. For the woman who went through it and came out the other side, there's no reason to discuss it these days. “We all know about that,” James says, with no irritable tone. “I don't do that stuff any more. It's nothing to brag about and it's nothing to complain about.” Then why do the song — why reach back to the crazy days? “Well, my feeling, in my heart and my mind, is still attached to that kind of stuff. I never knew how I got myself in that situation — I just knew I was in it. I just knew all of a sudden I was there.” Born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles in 1938, little Etta was never really little at all. As a child she was the gospel-singing attraction of the St. Paul Baptist Church, where Hollywood stars, according to James, took to the pews to hear a prodigy. “I was five years old,” she recalls. “I never had the voice of a child. I had a voice like a grown person.” Later she moved to San Francisco, where she became a handful — a restless toughie in and out of girl gangs and singing groups. “I was always the juvenile delinquent,” James confesses. “I ran the streets, I wore the big pea coats, I smoked cigarettes. I ditched school.” By age 15, James was singing professionally in a vocal girl-trio. By 17, she had her first radio hit with The Wallflower, a renamed version of the ribald Roll With Me Henry. Soon after, her life became a whirlwind of touring and recording. Early hits included 1960's bluesy cover of Glenn Miller's At Last. In 1967, at Muscle Shoals Sounds, she recorded some of her most enduring works, chief among them the soul ballad I'd Rather Go Blind and the driving, Memphis-rhythmed Tell Mama.

Troubles caught up to her in the seventies, but a stint in rehab righted the singer eventually. In 1978, and again in 1980, she toured with the Rolling Stones. She's been on the road regularly since — just like she always imagined she would be. “I always wanted to be a hobo as a kid,” James says, wistfully admitting to low ambition. “I wanted to ride the train and stop at the little hobo villages. You'd have that stick across your back, with the sack on it. I just wanted to live that life.” In many ways she has lived that life, travelling from show to show, eating here and there. And so James is the dazzling bum, the one who sings with a wealth of gritty experience in the bank. “I'm a glorified hobo,” she proclaims, triumphant. “I still got that wild streak in me, and I think that's what happens now. It all comes out in the song.”

Etta James plays the Ottawa Bluesfest on July 13. The Ottawa Bluesfest started Friday and continues through July 16. Among the featured blues performers are Keb' Mo' and Bonnie Raitt Saturday, and Sue Foley, James Hunter and Solomon Burke Sunday. Other headliners include Sam Roberts, Blue Rodeo, Nelly Furtado, Wilco, Feist, Metric, Son Volt, New Pornographers. Information: and 613-247-1188.

Congo's Homemade Electronica

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Murray Whyte, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 8, 2006) Without the players to give it context, the stage would as much resemble an automotive boneyard as a band's gear: cymbals made from flattened hub caps, car alternators pressed into duty as amplifiers, stripped of magnets and wrapped with copper wire.  When you're in Kinshasa, the deeply impoverished capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, you make do with what you can find. Which is exactly what
Konono No.1, a 12-piece group led by 73-year-old Mawangu Mingiedi, has been doing for the last three decades.  But longevity hasn't exactly made them readily available. Ask Vincent Kenis, the Belgian producer who first began following their trail in the early 1990s. Connecting with a host of Congolese musicians along the way, he turned up nothing, until one day in 2000.  "I found a fan club of Konono in the streets of Kinshasa," he said. "All they had were very old cassettes that they would listen to. I told them, `Look, I'm a producer, I want to do something with them. And six months later, (the group) reappeared, as if by miracle."  Kenis first heard them on French public radio in the early 1980s. By the time he got to Kinshasa in the early '90s, they had withdrawn to their villages near the Angola border, chased out of the city by the collapsing economy and increasing political unrest.  The group kept their music alive — barely — playing at weddings and funerals to survive. Five years after coaxing them out of the bush, Kenis released Konono No.1's first CD ever, which became the first instalment of Kenis's Congotronics series.

Kenis culls dense, trance-like tribal rhythms of the region's traditional music, but searches out those that fall — however loosely — into the realm of electronic music.  With the definition stretched wide, Konono No.1 qualifies: Melodically, the band is centred around the likembe, a sort of electric thumb piano, which they altered and amplified using the alternators and battered military loudspeakers left over from the Belgian colonial era.  The resultant fuzz-laden tones made them Zaire's first electronic music group completely by chance. The motivation? Kinshasa's constant traffic snarls — and subsequent chorus of squalling car horns — made it impossible for the band to hear themselves play the delicate likembe sounds. A do-it-yourself volume enhancer — the alternators — became necessary just to be able to play.  The electro-caterwaul of their decidedly low-fi, makeshift system, layered with polyrhythmic percussion and a swirl of alternating vocals produces a primal, hypnotic form that the locals have taken to calling tradi-moderne.  The group's homespun equipment — their microphones are carved from wood — and roots in rural African squalor make them an unlikely candidate for a dance club renaissance, to be sure. But with record sales approaching 100,000 albums worldwide, the potential exists — whether they intend it or not.  "They play traditional music with makeshift instruments. And if it happens to sound like techno or disco, it's completely by chance," Kenis said. "They never tried to play techno — they don't know what that is. They didn't even know there was something like an electronic dance scene. They just have a unique sound that they developed in a very special way."

Konono No. 1 performs free tonight at 9:30 at Harbourfront Centre.

LIFEbeat’s 'Reggae Gold Live 2006 Summer Jump off'

Excerpt from

(July 6, 2006) *LIFEbeat’s “Hearts & Voices” Benefit Concert Series, the party with a purpose, has announced its first reggae HIV/AIDS awareness concert. On July 18, 2006, E.A.R.S. Entertainment Group and Power 105.1 FM will team up with LIFEbeat: The Music Industry Fights AIDS to present “Reggae Gold Live 2006 Summer Jump Off’ the sixth Hearts & Voices AIDS Benefit Concert Series, featuring performances from some of reggae’s hottest stars including Beenie Man, Wayne Wonder, TOK, Sasha and Kulcha Don, as well as a special performance by Foxy Brown.  The concert will take place at New York’s Webster Hall, located at 125 East 11th Street between 3re & 4th Avenues.  Doors open at  9pm. The event is produced by Tonya Lewis and J.P. Taylor for E.A.R.S. Entertainment Group. Media sponsors include BET, Vibe magazine, Music Choice and Power 105.1 radio station. Tickets are $25 General Admission and $50 VIP and are available at the Webster Hall box office (212) 353-1600 or online or  through TICKETWEB at or by calling 866 768-7619.  Tickets can also be purchased at the LIFEbeat offices at 212-459-2580 or the E.A.R.S. offices at 718-385-0077. For the first time, reggae stars will join together to address the subject of HIV/AIDS and to help bring awareness into their communities. HIV/AIDS prevention education is a critical topic for the Caribbean community. Jamaica has the third-largest population living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, after Haiti and the Dominican Republic. As of 2004, there were over 22,000 reported cases of HIV/AIDS in Jamaica, with the National HIV/STD Prevention and Control Programme citing a total of 578 new AIDS cases reported in Jamaica from January to June of that year.

“This is an event whose time has come,” cited LIFEbeat Executive Director, John Cannelli. “The growth of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean community warrants everyone coming together to do their part in helping to educate young people about how to protect themselves. Every life is precious, and we are grateful to all of the artists participating in ‘Reggae Gold.’ They are taking a stand and using their influence to help make a difference in this extremely important fight taking place right in their own neighbourhoods.  Foxy Brown emphasized, “I feel that this is a very important issue, not only in the inner cities where I’m from, but across the entire world. I am just happy that I can be a part of something like this and bring awareness to my fans.”
Kulcha Don said, “I am honoured to use my talents performing at the LIFEbeat event to raise awareness for the prevention of HIV/Aids in youth.  This is a worldwide epidemic and anything that I could do to provide support and knowledge, I openly embrace.  I have supported LIFEbeat over the past few years and will continue to support them for the rest of my life.” Tonya Lewis of E.A.R.S. Entertainment and producer of the event said, “We are extremely excited and fortunate to  be the producers of this event.   We have an excellent opportunity to educate and create change in the Caribbean community about this dreadful disease.  We are grateful to all the artists for choosing to take a stand and address this issue.  This is going to be a monumental event in the fight against AIDS.”

Bishop Noel Jones’ First Choir Recording A Mega Success

Excerpt from

(July 7, 2006)   Bishop Noel Jones and The Sanctuary Choir joined the ranks of other mega churches recording their first album live on June 25 at their homestead, The City of Refuge Church in Gardena , CA .  Touch your neighbour and say, “Neighbour, this recording was awesome!”   The Sanctuary Choir came with platinum lined voices to sing before a packed house. The line of attendees was half wrapped around the building hours before to witness LA’s finest make their debut.  Once inside the sanctuary, they were caught up in the rapture of non-stop praise.  Talk show host Tavis Smiley did the honour of introducing the project that will make a lasting impression on the Gospel world.  He told the audience he flew across country from DC to LA for five years straight to attend City of Refuge Church because “Ain’t nobody like Bishop Noel Jones.”  After two hours straight of standing to perform 15 songs the Sanctuary Choir demonstrated with tireless endurance that ain’t no choir like the Sanctuary Choir.   The evening got off to a shaky start with a few technical scares. As if it were planned the words of the first song put the glitches into proper perspective, declaring “It’s not about us, but it’s about Jesus!  It’s not about you, but it’s about Jesus!”  That energy prevailed until around midnight.

Produced by Gerald Haddon, the project is a balance of songs that will appeal to all ages.  As the first recoding on Alpha Dog Records his desire was to deliver music that everyone could appreciate.  A superb band with a live horn section enhanced each unique track, most of which were written or co-written himself.  Here is a recap of some of the performances that punctuated the recording:  Onlookers were overtaken by the beautifully harmonized mezzo tenor voices of Larry “L.V.” Sanders (who survived being shot nine times) and Brandon Winbush (the high tenor voice leading on Kurt Carr’s “Let God Arise”) on “Jesus,” a song about the necessity of Christ.   Minister Deitrick Haddon (Brother of Gerald Haddon, the producer of the album) was the guest on “Hallelelujah,” a slow, worshipful number that moved the  singer to turn and spin.  When Peta Acrond rendered the toe-tapping “Holding On” accompanied by the high-stepping Tambourettes, it was time to do a sanctified dance. This crowd pleaser continued with a surprise.  Patrick Bolton lead singer of the Gospel Wonders quartet and Teddy Campbell lead singer of the Soul Seekers quartet took up the rear on this one with exciting call and response.  Also memorable, Tammi Haddon’s (Gerald’s wife) commanding vocals ushered in a sweet, sweet spirit with “More of Thee” that urged a stillness in the room; multitudes stood with their hands raised in complete surrender to  God.

Although it was made up of ordinary church people, they looked and sounded like professionals, rendering one impressive selection after the other.  The program was split into two parts leaving a brief break for the singers.  Their passion did not wane in the least.  Others in the Gospel industry came out to show their support including: T. C, Burreal, Tim Bishop Brown, Willette Duvall, Dorean Edwards, Javen and Jamie Jones. Look for behind the scenes coverage with Lexi on the Word Network and view photos at  The CD and DVD are expected to be released in the September timeframe. 

Shaun Majumder - 'I Feel Very Global'

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Brad Wheeler

(Jul. 7, 2006) He's a Newfoundlander now based in Los Angeles. His mother was of Irish-English descent; his father is from India. He's in love with a Mexican gal, and some of his best friends are Portuguese. When
Shaun Majumder plays the race card, it's something of a lay-down hand. Majumder, who begins a five-night stand at Yuk Yuk's on July 12, was in Toronto a couple of weeks ago when he took time out to catch a World Cup soccer match at a downtown pub. Reached by cellphone, he was a little distracted, rooting energetically for Mexico in its match against Portugal. "I'm not a fanatic," he says, when asked about his passion for the game, "but I have such an appreciation for the mental focus and training that goes into it." It wasn't always that way. Majumder, a 33-year-old surfing buff who describes himself as an "athlete," once felt the way most North Americans do about the kicky business. He adopts a mock sportscaster tone to illustrate. "It's like 'here we go, it's down to the last 86 minutes, and it's still zero-zero, what a nail-biter.' " Majumder's initial disdain for the sport eventually gave way. "I made assumptions about it, and didn't give it any credit. But with each World Cup, I've grown more appreciation for it."  Still, it is the tournament's global aspect that intrigues Majumder more than the sport itself. "It's the sheer volume of the people that watch it and are connected," he says. "I love soccer, but there's something about the international game. There's more at stake." Ah, the lure of the bigger world stage. No surprise then that five years ago Majumder left Canada for Los Angeles, where he sees himself as an amateur again -- "I'm green, I'm unknown."

Though he still performs in comedy clubs, the move south was in a bid to boost an acting career. Funny thing though, since his move to the United States, he seems to be as busy as ever in Canada. He has a regular gig on the CBC Television comedy This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and also played a dullard gravedigger on the same network's Hatching, Matching & Dispatching, the Newfoundland-spoofing series from last year, starring Mary Walsh.  As well, Majumder will host shows at this summer's Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, and he's signed on for 15 episodes of Master Debaters, a topical-comedy show on CBC Radio. To Majumder, it's a little ironic that he finds himself so busy in a country he left for a bigger career, some time ago. "It's like, 'We ignored him for five years. Now we want to give him his own show. Come back!' " Which he has no qualms in doing. "I feel very global," says Majumder, a man of many accents. "It doesn't matter where my audience comes from, because I come from a motley crew." Is there a tendency for comedians of a given ethnicity to lapse into cute accents, at the expense of an actual joke? To adopt the exaggerated Indo-speak of Apu from The Simpsons, for example?  "It depends," the comic explains, laughing at the thought. "The accent is funny! I hate to admit it, but it's true. Science will bear this out: If I do the accent, people will laugh!" As evidence, Majumder goes through an impromptu bit he did at a Toronto club once, speaking in an Indian accent about the simple process of making a sandwich. "Yes, I love ham and cheese veddy, veddy much. . . ."

The crowd loved it. "On stage there's something so endearing about that particular accent, that particular voice. For some reason, people can't help but laugh. "But how do you use it?" he continues. "That's a good question. For example, when a guy does an overtly feminine voice. When a comedian does that on stage, I'm like 'nah.' There's something not thought-out about a guy on stage saying, 'Look at me, I'm gay.' " Another Indo-Canadian, Russell Peters draws a large Indian audience and tends to adjust the ethnic content of his act accordingly.  Majumder does less of that. "Most of my act is not about India at all," he says. "Because that's not me." Fair enough. So who is Shaun Majumder? "I'm Canadian, I look Mexican, and I live in the United States. I am the North American Free Trade Agreement. You can call me Nafta."

Shaun Majumder plays Yuk Yuk's downtown, July 12 to 16 (Wed., Thu., Sun., 8:30 p.m. $11; Fri., Sat., 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. $22). 224 Richmond St. W., 416-967-6425.

More comedy: CBC Radio's So, You Think You're Funny?, a weekly live-to-tape variety show featuring comedy acts from across the country, spotlights emerging Toronto comedians on the episode of July 13 (11:30 a.m.) and July 14 (7:30 p.m.).

Montreal Festival Offers Up Hidden Treasures

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - J.D. Considine

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
In Montreal on Friday and Saturday

(Jul. 10, 2006) ) Perhaps because there are so many famous names on hand, the greatest thrill for some fans at the
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is to stumble on some great, undiscovered talent. Part of that impulse may stem from a desire to be a step ahead of the madding crowd, but mostly it's because few surprises are as sweet as a fresh example of musical genius. The French pianist Jean-Michel Pilc isn't exactly a newcomer to the scene -- he has been recording since 1989, and has a half-dozen albums to his name -- but neither is he in any way an established figure. His afternoon recital Friday at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur had barely 60 listeners in attendance. Clearly, though, they were 60 smart ones, because Pilc gave one of the most dazzling, ingenious and understated performances of the festival. A rocket scientist by training, Pilc is a self-taught musician, yet possesses the sort of technique a conservatory graduate would envy. It isn't just that his touch is exquisite, giving him a range of shading and dynamics seldom heard outside a classical recital; he also maintains incredible independence between his two hands. During a performance of various tunes by George Gershwin, he managed to keep But Not for Me going in his left hand while playing a dissonantly harmonized version of Someone to Watch Over Me with his right. Pilc doesn't play standards in the standard jazz fashion, preferring instead to create what classical listeners might recognize as a fantasia, weaving various themes together into a series of contrasting episodes. Friday's performance took this approach with the music of Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and John Coltrane, and with each made unexpected play of familiar themes. Another act that promised undiscovered treasure was Konono No. 1, a six-piece ensemble from Congo that performs using electrically amplified likembe, or thumb pianos. Konono No. 1 were quite the sensation in Francophone Europe last year, and it was easy to see why when they played the Spectrum Friday. The three likembe players were arranged as melody, harmony and bass, and the sound they generated was intensely physical and enticingly hypnotic.

It was also strikingly monotonous. Most of their tunes ran about 20 minutes each, with little variation in melody, harmony or rhythm. Given that much of their repertoire derives from traditional Bazombo trance music, their fondness for repetition without variation should come as no surprise. But even though the bandleader, Mingiedi, encouraged the crowd with shouts of "Poussez! Poussez! Poussez!" ("push!") or "Doucement! Doucement!" ("sweetly"), it was all pretty much la même chose. Given the high profile maintained by trumpeter Chris Botti -- a model-handsome alumnus of Sting's band, he hosts a nationally syndicated radio show in the U.S. and was rumoured to have been dating Katie Couric -- it would be hard to imagine there being many surprises from him. Indeed, his concert Saturday at the Théâtre Maisonneuve delivered everything a fan might expect, from Botti's form-fitting black leather suit jacket to his propensity for mannered, heavily melodic solos. Not for nothing is he considered smooth jazz's answer to Chet Baker. But if a musician is to be judged by the company he keeps, Botti is a lot better than his solos. His band -- particularly pianist Billy Childs and drummer Billy Kilson -- kept the music from becoming mired in cliché, particularly on Relativity and a fusion-spiked treatment of When I Fall in Love. Kilson was a particularly witty soloist, making wry use of contrasting dynamics and actually drawing a few chuckles for some of his musical gags. And who would have thought to look for inspired musicianship at a pop-jazz concert?

Playful Beats And Minor Keys

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Robert Everett-Green

Beats, Breaks & Culture
At Harbourfront Centre In Toronto on Saturday

(Jul. 10, 2006) It must be a challenge finding a theme for every summer weekend at
Harbourfront Centre, booking a ton of musicians, producing all their sets, and somehow making it work without ever charging admission (well, hardly ever). And how did they arrange on Saturday for a perfect temperature and a golden full moon for the second night of a three-day survey of beat-oriented music?  British singer and one-man soul-funk band Jamie Lidell opened the concert stage with a strong set aimed at moving bodies. Lidell's vocal gifts are such that he could easily make a career without touching an instrument, as he showed during a few songs with pianist Chilly Gonzales (the best of which came during Gonzales's own set later).  But Lidell's a playful guy, and a risk-taker too, and he followed his sense of fun through all kinds of beat-boxing and track-building games. At the end of one evolving groove, he was so taken by a residual drone that he began to mess around with it, as if he were playing for a few friends and not a big crowd of strangers.  By the time he got to his encore, the title track from last year's Multiply album, he was ready to share the microphone with a few surprisingly assured voices at the front of the crowd. For all his generosity, however, Lidell's set seemed more attuned to a hermetic club setting than to this open, fixed-seating space.  Not so Konono No. 1, the long-lived percussion Congolese combo (25 years and counting) that jumped on the world's radar last year after the lo-fi Congotronics anthology showed what happens when you apply some electricity to traditional Central African dance music. This was real outdoor party music, based on a rollicking one-mode wave of chiming counterpoint from likembe (thumb pianos), agogos (African cowbells), drums and whistles.

It was easy to see why the sound of this band has caught the Western ear. Blown up through a grainy amplification system (signified by a pair of megaphones at either side of Harbourfront's concert stage), the direct, pungent sound of the metal-tongued likembe might have been coming from a vintage synthesizer that hasn't been invented yet. The band is accustomed to playing for hours at a stretch at dances in Kinshasa, and has honed the craft of making timely textural changes to a fine art. The bass would drop out periodically, or the likembe would move up in the mix, joining at unison or splitting the mode up in a new way, while the performers broke into jubilant call-and-response singing. Gonzales must have seemed a perfect fit for the weekend's theme, with his background as a rapper and shambolic sidekick for Peaches and the producer who got Feist to turn out the underground equivalent of a disco hit. But Jason Beck (his real name) was a student of classical piano before he ever got near a drum machine, and the experience clearly left him with issues to ponder and scores to settle. His performance at the Studio Theatre was a solo piano recital and acerbic comedy routine, built on original pieces that an earlier century would have recognized (and valued) as salon music, and on virtuoso parodies of pop songs. Lounging at the keyboard, tossing off bitter asides and intricate variations on Harold Arlen and Freddie Mercury, he seemed like the reincarnation of Oscar Levant, another pianist who straddled pop, comedy and so-called serious music. "Do you guys recognize a minor chord?" Gonzales asked, before opining that the minor mode is "a truth-teller," while the major represents "false optimism." Just asking the question raised the dilemma of the literate musician working for a largely illiterate pop audience. But people today are moved by the same kinds of big melodies spun out by literate, "serious" composers like Tchaikovsky and Chopin. Gonzales's parodies, some of which might have been co-written by the finger-happy Leopold Godowsky, were a way of showing how small the difference between high and low can be.

For all his recent success, he presented himself as a man whose dreams and illusions have been crushed too many times to count, for whom wit is the last refuge of the superfluously talented. All very entertaining, and no doubt true, to the extent that his solo pieces (lately recorded on a disc called Solo Piano) have no current place in the pop or classical worlds. Gonzales, it seems, can play in any style, but show him the easy way and he'll find a detour.  Speaking of doing it the hard way: rapper Cadence Weapon came out fighting at the Brigantine Room during his late-night set, ready to wreck the place with songs old and new, but jinxed with repeated power outages at the microphone. Undaunted, he shouted and screamed his verses, one degree above a mime act. Even Harbourfront, it seems, can't make everything work all the time.

Cowtown Makes A Cosmopolitan Sound

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Dave Ebner

Nelly Furtado At the Calgary Stampede
In Calgary on Saturday

(Jul. 10, 2006) The aging and cramped Coca-Cola Stage just inside the main gates of the
Calgary Stampede grounds has probably never hosted a hotter pop star than Nelly Furtado. Her third record, Loose, debuted last week at No. 1 in North America, with one song on top of the charts in Britain, Maneater, and a second on top here, Promiscuous. Her free show on a stage not accustomed to her level of stardom drew waves of people on a warm Saturday night, clamouring close under a blue sky, bright well into the late evening. Several thousand people crammed the tight area around a stage that has generally hosted nobodies for most of its existence, a throbbing metaphor for an overheated city -- a place now home to a million people, space increasingly at a premium, somewhat cosmopolitan but still an outpost, so country and cowboy. Furtado's genre-blending -- from folk to hip-hop and in between -- suited the crowd, a colourful array of faces. She was welcomed by chants of "Nelly! Nelly!" -- as amusement rides in the background swirled and turned -- and she delivered the hits in a one-hour set, reaching her first high early on with the song that made her `name, I'm Like A Bird. The Victoria-bred singer's voice rang out through all her offerings with authoritative and intoxicating melodies, carrying the show, almost a live renunciation of critics who have suggested her new record is more the work of collaborator Timbaland, the famous producer, than Furtado herself. Maneater, the hit London is salivating over, was delivered in its full sexy, grown-up and bass-shaking thump, a fine follow-up to Bird, the airy fly-away jam authored more than a half-decade ago by Furtado's younger self. Coming on thirty, she is a woman, not a girl.

Furtado tops a list of well-known names visiting the Coca-Cola stage this year, including Sam Roberts last night, Corb Lund on Thursday, Our Lady Peace on Friday and the Trews next Sunday. But it's not all new hotshots: Terry Stokes, billed as "America's favourite hypnotist," reprises his twice-a-day act most every day as he has done at the Stampede for years. Though Furtado's first and third albums stand as her most popular works, the Calgary crowd warmly welcomed offerings from Folklore, her second record, especially Powerless, with its pounding backbeat and jangly guitars. Beginning her two-song encore, Furtado introduced a track that wasn't her own, though she said she wished it was -- Crazy, by fellow chart-toppers Gnarls Barkley. The northern sky finally darkened as 11 p.m. approached, and Furtado's soulful take on Crazy was underpinned by a strumming acoustic guitar. It was a salute to cowboys as night rolled over the prairie like a blanket. And then, of course, Promiscuous to conclude, Furtado's smash hit, possibly the song of the summer, a loose, sexy jam. Born in Miami, from a record that Portuguese-Canadian Furtado has categorized at "punk-hop," the No. 1 song rang out to the happy, eclectic Calgarian crowd. The adventurous musicianship, with no regard for the artificial borders of genres, suited well a youthful city bursting at its seams, wanting to be so much more than it is. Like Calgary, Furtado is ready to try things she might not be known for -- ready to shake off earlier impressions and cut new ones.

Cheap Seats Pay Off At Magical Moonlit Concert

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

(Jul. 10, 2006) JOLIETTE, QUE.—It was more than a paper moon hanging in a cardboard sky. It was a magical midsummer night, where, in a large clearing inside a fragrant wood, gorgeous music was made under the starlit heavens.  Organizers of the 29th annual
Festival de Lanaudière could not have imagined a more auspicious opening Saturday night. Onstage, about 60 km northeast of Montreal, were some of Quebec's finest musical forces, gathered in an unusual and ambitious program.  Yannick Nézet-Séguin, 30, shows every sign of becoming the Great Canadian Conductor for whom this country's classical music buffs have been waiting. He led his Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, the festival's choir, the orchestra's choir, four Canadian vocal soloists and two notable young international pianists in an evening of Mozart and Liszt.  In front of an audience that appeared to number close to 3,000 (more than half reclining on blankets and beach chairs), it was proof of how truly great classical music-making and summer relaxation can live in harmony.  The festival's amphitheatre seats visitors on a curved hillside. At the focal point is a permanent stage with a substantial roof that shelters the performers and a portion of the audience. Although smaller, the design is similar to Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre.

The sound under the structure is dry and thin. But the music blooms beautifully as it travels up the hillside, complimenting the thrift of audience members who spent a paltry $15 for a grassy perch (the top tickets were $45).  Having sampled both seating areas during the concert, the combination of excellent sound and a particularly gorgeous view of a risen moon confirmed the cheap seats as the best.  The evening's highlights were Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, played by the American-born, 36-year-old Nicholas Angelich, and the Piano Concerto No. 2, interpreted by young Venezuelan artist Gabriela Montero.  Nézet-Séguin had obviously worked with both soloists to bring out the lyrical side of Liszt's show-off pieces. The loud passages pulsed with energy, and both pianists dashed off the legendary Hungarian virtuoso's technical challenges with seeming ease.  But the soft passages in both works had an almost dreamlike quality that helped enhance the night's magic.  The choir and four vocal soloists were assembled to sing Mozart's Missa Solemnis (K. 337). The forces were the size of Toronto's Mendelssohn Choir, but without our group's agility, poise or balance. Fortunately, the solo singers were in great form — particularly soprano Karina Gauvin in the fabulous "Agnus Dei" section.  The evening was capped by Liszt's melodramatic setting of Psalm 13, with young Montreal tenor Frédéric Antoun an excellent soloist.

The Festival de Lanaudière runs to Aug. 6. More information at

Independent Music Awards: Raising The Profile Of Indie Musicians

Source: ISL Public Relations, 630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 910, New York, NY 10036; tel: 917-338-6199/web:; email:

(July 11, 2006) With today’s music industry in a state of flux, independent artists have discovered that they can succeed without major label support, but still require strong marketing and promotion to reach new audiences. Many indies look to The Independent Music Awards/IMAs an international program that helps indie artists achieve wider recognition among industry and fans, to help them achieve their goals. Now in its sixth year, the IMAs deliver unique opportunities for indie artists and releases. Produced by The Musician’s Atlas, a division of Music Resource Group, and co-sponsored by mega retailer Borders Books & Music, IMA Winners are promoted to more than 9 million music fans, radio programmers, talent buyers, journalists and other industry decision makers using direct marketing, promotions, print, broadcast and online initiatives. Says Martin Folkman, Director of the IMAs and Publisher of The Musician’s Atlas: “The only thing that separates these fine indie artists from multi-platinum success is access to major market promotion outlets and a broader definition of what is commercial. Our goal is to raise the profile of deserving artists who typically fly under the radar because of the lack of communication and marketing channels available to them. Past winners and finalists credit the program with boosting their visibility among festival bookers, talent buyers, distributors, industry insiders and fans. ”Adding to an already broad spectrum of album and song categories spanning all genres from heavy metal to gospel, the sixth annual IMA program features a new category that is both unique and timely. “Sing Out For Social Action” was created explicitly to offer artists from every end of the political spectrum an opportunity to promote social change.

IMA winners are determined by a panel of influential recording artists and industry executives. This year’s artist panel includes Wynonna, Ozzy Osbourne, Cyndi Lauper, Buddy Guy, Fat Boy Slim, Suzanne Vega, Afrika Bambaataa, Paul Oakenfold, Marc Ribot, Beenie Man, Howard Tate, David Grisman, Patty Loveless, Rob Wasserman and Bebel Gilberto. Ten thousand copies of the IMA Winners Compilation CD will be distributed to music fans and industry movers and shakers at international music conferences, festivals and other events throughout the year, and promoted to US and Canadian college and public radio stations throughout North America by The Planetary Group, a leading radio promotion company. The IMA online jukebox features winner’s songs and contact information and will be promoted to over 9 million Borders customers in 12 consecutive weekly “Shortlist” eNewsletters. The artist’s own releases will be available for purchase at the site. The deadline for submission for the 2006 Independent Music Awards is midnight, Friday, August 25, 2006.  Entry forms, program details and announcements of additional judges are available at  and

Pierre the Who?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(July 11, 2006) MONTREAL — Only 25 years old, he signs his liner notes "Pierre the Great." He regularly chides concert audiences for not showering him with sufficient applause, and even studies his own dishevelled good looks between songs in the mirror placed atop his piano.  In the span of two years
Pierre Lapointe has made himself into the hottest and haughtiest Canadian pop star you have probably never heard of. Unless you're a francophone and live in Quebec; then, chances are, you've most certainly heard of his sudden rise to favoured musical son. His second album, La forêt des mal-aimés (Forest of the Rejected), debuted in the No. 1 spot on the Canadian album charts in March, beating out new releases from nobodies such as Prince and Ben Harper. It sold 28,000 copies in its first week of release in Quebec -- a feat only Las Vegas showgirl Celine Dion has eclipsed.  Sitting in the boardroom of his Montreal record label, Lapointe laughs at the company in which he finds himself, arms outstretched to measure the musical and material gulf between him and Dion. "We did no advertising," he says, "we had maybe 300 posters up in Montreal and that's it." Lapointe calls it his "backdoor route to success": winning prestigious songwriting prizes in Quebec and France, word-of-mouth acclaim through cleverly conceived performances and a busy touring schedule. Thinking himself something of a secret subversive in the do-it-yourself mould, he says, "people were happy to participate in something that was a little underground."  Lapointe, who grew up in the Gatineau region of Quebec across the river from Ottawa, first rose to prominence in 2001 when he won the prestigious Festival de la chanson de Granby --an annual prize given to a previously unknown francophone singer-songwriter, which has proven a reliable predictor of future stardom. His self-distributed demo recording went on to sell an impressive 3,000 copies and win him a contract with Montreal label Audiogram. The resulting eponymous debut in 2004, an elegantly orchestrated set of melancholic chanson that enabled Lapointe to quit his janitorial job at a hospital, has sold over 85,000 copies and is still going strong.

Despite his initial success, Lapointe has demonstrated little interest in repeating himself. Chanson française, the postwar movement of poetic singer-songwriters such as Charles Aznavour, Barbara and Jacques Brel that took the cabaret tradition of Edith Piaf and Charles Tenet and infused it with lyrics befitting a more anxious age, is a mere building block on his way to more avant-garde adventures. With La forêt des mal-aimés, Lapointe consciously set about building a bridge between the classic orientation of his debut with his more eclectic inclinations. "I base the way I work," he says, "on that of an artist who starts with a very classic method, then starts experimenting with it so he can develop his own style. To do this I would have to understand chanson française, I would have to start with the basics. Just as a painter begins with drawing and classical painting before taking on the abstract."  The same gift with fragile melodies is on display, but the arrangements are more varied, often straying into rock and electronica with the addition of guitars, drums and ambient sound. La forêt bears more than a passing resemblance to some of his idol Serge Gainsbourg's experimental, groundbreaking collaborations with maverick French producer Jean-Claude Vannier (L'histoire de Melody Nelson).  Lapointe takes considerable pains to constantly refresh his approach to either source or original material, finding new angles from which to explore them. For the song Deux par deux rassemblés, a rousing Franco-surf rock anthem, Lapointe began with some communist protest chants he heard from the 1960s. "We worked the sound and the violins to evoke something like Gainsbourg after having listened to Franz Ferdinand," he says. Gainsbourg is forever Lapointe's touchstone; he calls the mischievous Gallic crooner the perfect example of "intellectual pop, who is able to please so many." In a sense, the new album is an illustration of what attracts him to Gainsbourg.  It's difficult to chalk up Lapointe's success in Quebec to anything other than his elegant songcraft, musicianship and the canniness with which he presents himself on stage. For there doesn't seem to be much distinctively Québécois about his music. Critics more commonly compare him to iconic chansonniers such as Aznavour, Gainsbourg and Brel rather than a Gilles Vigneault or Robert Charlebois of his home province. He has even been accused of singing with a fake French accent and employing a very un-joual, even archaic, form of the language in his lyrics.

"The sound of my music is very European," Lapointe admits, "very classical, but this is just an aesthetic choice. For me it is a very Québécois work, with a way of thinking unique to my generation. I came to understand the history of Quebec through song. I couldn't write like I do now if I did not feel my Quebec fibre while listening to Robert Charlebois. Even in the visual arts, had I not known the work of les automatistes [the Quebec abstract-painting movement of the 1940s], I don't think I would have the same approach to my music as I do now. But I also grew up in the time of the Internet. I am more a citizen of the world." The "Pierre le grand" bit it turns out is just a playful embrace of showmanship that grew out of his desire to distract criticism away from himself. Lapointe, who studied theatre in Ste-Hyacinthe before moving on to the visual-arts program at the University of Quebec at Montreal, was always terrified of performing before an audience, especially with the kind of vulnerability his songs demand. The first time Lapointe ever performed before an audience was at his CEGEP (junior college), his parents in attendance -- even they didn't know he was about to sing. "Afterward, people said I looked so sure of myself, so arrogant," he says. "But really, I was terrified. So I went with this -- I created a personality, one that is arrogant and could make people laugh, provoke them, all the while remaining at a distance."  That persona has evolved into the playfully foppish Lapointe of today -- La forêt's ingenious cover art shows him decamped to a haunted woodlot playing the dandy's interpretation of a lumberjack. It's something that will be changed for the album's release in France, where the nuance is lost and executives have asked for a better-tailored representation of the artist. But Lapointe will surely find new ways to provoke, even there. Gainsbourg, infamous for a moment on French TV when he told the young Whitney Houston -- live, and in the most vulgar way -- that he wanted to sleep with her, would be proud.

E-40’S ‘Hyphy Movement’ Questioned

Excerpt from

(July 7, 2006) *Two San Francisco-based hip hop companies are calling out rapper E-40 for falsely claiming the region’s “hyphy movement” on his new Lil Jon-produced album, “My Ghetto Report Card.” and Hyphy Inc. released a joint statement in which they claim E-40 and Lil Jon have “not one Hyphy artist on their roster and tour.” Responding to the claims in an interview with, 40 says: "Ain't nobody ever heard of no Hyphy Inc. ever!” A spokesperson for the two companies stated: “Lil Jon and E-40 brought some much needed attention showcasing the new and distinctive culture and lifestyle that’s taking place in the Bay Area. But neither artist is in fact a real member of the movement. Since bringing the attention to the movement the pair has been accused of using [it] for their on personal selfish financial gain. E-40, who is not even a Hyphy member, is being accused of using the new found fame and clout to put his family members and label mates in key positions at the expense of Hyphy.” The statement goes on to note that 40’s relatives – sister Suga T, brother D-Shot and son Droop-E – are all in the process of putting out projects. The companies also single out Lil Jon as “the mastermind behind the plot” to exploit the Hyphy movement.       “Lil Jon never intends to put a Hyphy artist on; he’s just using the name to keep himself in the spotlight,” the statement read. After expressing that the companies are virtually unknown throughout the Bay Area, 40 told SOHH:  “The hyphy movement started in Oakland for one. So can't nobody from San Francisco be talking about that. I love Frisco, that ain't got nothing to do with the city of Frisco, but I'm not gonna affiliate that with these suckers, whoever these cats is."

In response to the companies’ claims that 40 lacks respect in his hometown, the rapper says: "First of all, my respect in the Bay is to the extreme my dude. If the Bay didn't love me, I wouldn't be at 60,000 units just in the Bay area alone. The love is there. As far as street credibility, I got that. That's a plus. That's straight A's across the board. Don't get it ‘twisted’." "Overall, the hyphy movement, I helped birth that thang, man,” he continued. “I ain't the one who made it up. All I do is endorse it, smell me? Like I said, I was on the first song 'Hyphy.' I got the utmost respect for Mac Dre, Keak Da Sneak and the Federation and whoever else is about the Hyphy movement, it's all gravy. At the same time, cats like me and [Too] Short all we're doing is trying to represent our soil. What I'm supposed to do, talk like I'm from New York, rap like I'm from New York? If I didn't say nothing about the hyphy. It'll be like 'he done went South. He won't say nothing about the Hyphy.'" "What have they done for the movement or whatever else," he added. "That's a hate group if anything. They're probably a rap group trying to get some exposure. Ninety-nine out of 100% gonna love me. There's probably one percent out there that hates me cause they ain't on, bullshi**ing."


Cockburn Songs Rub Americans Wrong Way

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(Jul. 7, 2006)
Bruce Cockburn is used to shaking up middle America with his politically charged songs.  But this time he's making even his fans a little uncomfortable.  His 17-date U.S. tour last fall drew healthy applause for his rich catalogue of social commentary, until he turned his sights on the White House.  "They took it personally, I guess," the Toronto singer says in his instantly recognizable baritone. Tepid claps were all that followed songs "This is Baghdad," and "Tell the Universe," addressed to U.S. President George W. Bush.  "In Canada, people would applaud `Tell the Universe' very enthusiastically. In the States, it was much more restrained. People were kind of taken aback."  Things have changed since Cockburn got a positive response in America to his song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" in the early '80s, attacking Central America meddlings by the Ronald Reagan administration.  These days, with controversy over the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan dominating headlines and no quick resolution in sight, emotions are raw for the American public, he says.  "For Americans, the president is part of themselves in some way. If they're embarrassed by him or horrified by him, they don't like to be reminded of the connection. I think `Tell the Universe' hit a little close to the bone for them."  On the whole, Cockburn's newest release, Life Short Call Now, out Tuesday, is a measured take on the conflict, interspersed with lighter tunes including the folksy "Mystery" (with backing vocals by Ron Sexsmith and Hawksley Workman) and jazzy "Nude Descending a Staircase."

'River Deep' Extended

Excerpt from

(July 7, 2006) *“River Deep, A Tribute to Tina Turner,” a new musical about the life story of the music legend, has returned to New York’s Peter Jay Sharp Theatre (416 West 42nd St.) for a limited run through July 29. "Through the original score, choreography, multi-media visual design and Turner's own words, “River Deep” celebrates Ms. Turner's life story, evoking the tremendous energy and depth of her musical performances and her journey of struggle, survival and renewal,” a release stated. The performance schedule is Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with a matinee Saturdays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $35 and are now available by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or online at  

U.S. Senator Helped Rescue R'n'b Producer

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Jul. 9, 2006) SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S.
Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a musician in his own right, helped secure the release of Atlanta R&B producer Dallas Austin from a Dubai jail after a drug conviction, the senator's office confirmed Saturday.  In a statement released through his staff, the conservative Republican said he was contacted by Austin's attorneys, then called the ambassador and consul of the United Arab Emirates in Washington on Austin's behalf.  A Grammy winner who has produced hits for Madonna, Pink and TLC, Austin was arrested May 19 and convicted of drug possession for bringing 1.26 grams of cocaine into Dubai.  On Tuesday a court sentenced him to four years in jail and said Austin, 34, should be deported after serving the term. Hours later, Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum pardoned and released Austin.  Beyond saying Hatch has "good relations with the ambassador and other good people in Dubai," his office gave The Associated Press no specifics about Hatch's dealings with the Dubai government.  Hatch spokesman Peter Carr said he did not know whether the senator and Austin had ever met, but he confirmed that both employ Atlanta entertainment lawyer Joel A Katz. Hatch has written and recorded hundreds of religious and patriotic songs.  Katz and Washington attorney Joe Reeder traveled to Dubai to try to secure Austin's release, The New York Times reported in a story published Saturday.  Carr said it was attorney Nancy Taylor, who worked for Hatch on health care issues until 1991, who contacted the senator about Austin. Taylor now works with Reeder at Greenberg & Traurig.  Austin's attorneys said they enlisted Hatch's help because he has influence with Dubai. Hatch this year supported the Dubai-based DP World in its bid to manage several American ports.  In his statement, Hatch said he was "grateful to the leaders of Dubai for agreeing to provide a workable and compassionate solution for this situation.''  He also said he was confident Austin "will learn from this experience."

Timberlake Aiming To Push Boundaries Of Pop

Excerpt from

(July 7, 2006)
Justin Timberlake wants to push the boundaries of pop music with his new album, "FutureSex/LoveSounds," due Sept. 12 via Jive. "I realize that I have a platform to push the sound of pop music. That's the only responsibility that I put on myself in recording the album," Timberlake told reporters today (July 7) in Paris. "If I'm not going to push it, then who's going to push it?"  The first single from the album, "SexyBack," features a pounding bass beat and electronic sounds, and does not include the falsetto singing that has become Timberlake's trademark. He said, however, that the album featured "a lot" of such singing.  "The best way I can describe that song is say David Bowie and David Byrne decided to do a cover of James Brown's 'Sex Machine,'" Timberlake said.  He said the new sound was the product of a broad variety of influences, from soul legends Al Green and Marvin Gaye to bands such as the Beatles and the Eagles. "I think it's important on your sophomore album to broaden your sound, to try something new, because if you do the same thing, then your third album has to be the same thing and your fourth album has to be the same thing and, you know, you don't grow," he said.  Timberlake wrote songs on the album with producer and rapper Timbaland. Rapper T.I. and Black Eyed Peas leader make guest appearances.

Mandy Moore Signs With The Firm's New Label

Excerpt from - Todd Martens, L.A.

(July 7, 2006) Singer/actress
Mandy Moore and rock act Army Of Anyone are the first signings to a record label being launched by powerhouse Los Angeles-based management company The Firm. The label's releases will be distributed by EMI.  Moore is eyeing a 2007 release for her first studio album since 2003's "Coverage," her last for Epic. That set debuted at No. 14 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 292,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  Although the track list for the as-yet-untitled set is not finalized, Moore has collaborated with such artists as the Counting Crows' Adam Duritz, Michelle Branch, Lori McKenna, Chantal Kreviazuk and Rachael Yamagata.  "I am getting so psyched to put this record out and hit the road for the first time in a long time," Moore writes on her Web site. "The live aspect of this record is going to be so great to take on the road."  Moore also recently completed filming "Southland Tales," directed by Richard Kelly ("Donnie Darko"). She has four other movies in various states of completion.  As for Army Of Anyone, the group features former Filter vocalist Richard Patrick and former Stone Temple Pilots principals Dean and Robert DeLeo. The band's debut album was produced by Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper) and is expected to be out before the end of the year.

U.K. Newcomer Making A Splash Across The Pond

Excerpt from - Katy Kroll

(July 6, 2006) Put her record on, and let the music speak for itself.   That's simply how British singer/songwriter
Corinne Bailey Rae found mega-success in the United Kingdom. Now she has set her sights on the States, though it's taking a bit more of a concerted effort here.   She is currently a featured artist for VH1's "You Oughta Know" campaign, and she recently made appearances on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "Good Morning America" and "Live With Regis and Kelly."   That exposure has helped push Rae into the spotlight. Last week, her self-titled Capitol Records debut entered The Billboard 200 at No. 17, and first single, "Put Your Records On," is No. 12 on the Hot Contemporary Jazz Songs chart.   Although Rae merges the spirit of Billie Holiday with the neo-soul of Erykah Badu, she has been easily making inroads in the mainstream market.   That's because her album comprises "a little bit of everything," she says in her official bio. "It's chilled out, acoustic, kooky, atmospheric and soulful.   "I am a fan of jazz, but not the muso kind," she continues. "I hate all the noodling, which is why I love classic songs -- they are so pure and succinct. That's what I tried to do with my own songs. They are short and sweet, to the point. I'm interested in [writing about] the things that no one ever tells you about in relationships, about how love works in terms of expectation versus reality. I like the idea of leaving people wanting more, not less, you know?"   Her sound may have some very jazzy overtones, but her influences run the gamut. In fact, she names Bjork, Massive Attack, Veruca Salt, L7 and Led Zeppelin as reasons why she began writing songs. "I wanted to follow in their footsteps and create music of my own," she says.   And indeed she has. "The response so far has been amazing," she notes, "All this feels so right to me -- writing songs, playing music, is precisely what I should be doing with my life."   To keep up the pace, Rae will continue to promote herself across the U.S. with a July 16 appearance on A&E's "Breakfast With the Arts," and as a featured artist for Yahoo! Music's "Who's Next" campaign. Then, on July 24, she will embark on her first U.S. headlining tour.

Royal Opera House Rehires Singer Fired Over Weight

Source: Associated Press

(July 10, 2006) London — An American soprano fired by the Royal Opera House because of her weight has been rehired after undergoing stomach surgery and losing 135 pounds, her spokeswoman and the prestigious theatre said Sunday.
Deborah Voigt, one of the world's top opera singers, lost her part in Richard Strauss' “Ariadne on Naxos” in 2004 because the Royal Opera House decided a slimmer singer would be better. She now has a contract to return to the role in the 2007-2008 season, a Royal Opera spokeswoman said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the house does not officially announce its casts so far in advance. “She's very, very excited,” Ms. Voigt's spokesman Albert Imperato said in New York. “She's just definitely felt like, ‘I've not had a chance to really build my career in London, it's a major opera capital.' It was very sad for her that she didn't get a chance to do Ariadne originally.” Mr. Imperato said he did not know how much Ms. Voigt had weighed before the surgery. Ms. Voigt had been scheduled to play the lead in the Royal Opera House's summer 2004 production of “Ariadne on Naxos,” but the casting director had selected a black evening dress for the part and believed Ms. Voigt would not look right in it, the opera house said at the time. German Anne Schwanewilms sang the role in that production. Ms. Voigt had gastric bypass surgery in June 2004. When she disclosed it the following March, she said she had worn size 30 clothes at her heaviest and her goal was a size 12. “She had decided on doing this procedure completely based on her health concerns, it was something she had thought about for many, many years, long before the little black dress,” he said.

Festival Features Billy Joel Concerto

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Matthew Chung, Canadian Press

(Jul. 10, 2006) Aconcerto based on classical compositions by
Billy Joel is set to make its Canadian debut Wednesday at Hamilton's Brott Music Festival. American pianist Jeffrey Biegel will perform Symphonic Fantasies for Piano and Orchestra. Creating a concerto around music by pop icon Joel might seem off-key, but Biegel's "virtuosic piano concerto" is based on solo piano pieces from Joel's 2001 classical album, Fantasies and Delusions. The piano and orchestral adaptation, which Biegel calls "very lush, very edge of the seat," was given the stamp of approval by Joel every step of the way, Biegel says. But Joel had very little direct contact with Biegel, leaving it up to the pianist to craft the piano parts for the concerto. Composer Phillip Keveren did the orchestrations. Biegel, 45, who counts Just the Way You Are and New York State of Mind among his favourite tunes by the piano man, says he listened to the Fantasies album over and over to try to get into Joel's frame of mind. "I really needed to soul search and put myself in Billy Joel's shoes," he said in an interview from Indianapolis. Biegel will perform with Boris Brott, conductor and artistic director of the festival, and the National Academy Orchestra at Hamilton's Dofasco Centre for the Arts. The pianist premiered the work June 24 with the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra in Greensboro, N.C.  Brott said one of the problems in presenting a work by a "popular composer turned serious" is that both pop fans and classical music lovers may be wary about what they'll hear. But Brott said he's sure devotees of both genres will enjoy the performance. "I can assure the classical music fans that they will hear a truly wonderful work in the style of a romantic piano concerto," Brott said. "And I can assure the pop fans that they are going to hear a lot of Billy Joel's tunes." The 30-minute concerto is structured in four movements. "The thing that makes this piece so wonderful to present are Billy's original melodies and harmonies, which are infectious," said Biegel. "You could walk out of the hall and hum any tune."

Blige Offering Some Of Everything On Summer Tour

Excerpt from – Gary Gratt, Detroit

(July 10, 2006)
Mary J. Blige may be the best source for what the shows on her The Breakthrough Experience tour will be like. But don't expect to break through her desire to keep things secret until the tour opens Friday (July 14) in Maryland Heights, Mo.  "I hate giving everything away, because then everybody knows what's going to happen and I don't like that," says Blige, who's touring to promote her seventh studio album, "The Breakthrough." The set debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 with first-week sales of more than 727,000 -- the biggest opening week by a solo R&B female artist in Nielsen SoundScan history.  The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul will say, however, that fans can expect "just me, my band. We're coming live. I think when you think of me, you just think of Mary coming with what she is and whatever I've evolved into as far as my talent is concerned. I don't have a lot of gags and whistles and dancers and stuff like that. It's just me."  As far as repertoire, Blige assures us that "people are definitely going to get a lot of songs from 'The Breakthrough,'" as well as "a lot of songs from the 'Share My World' album, a lot of songs from the 'My Life' album, the 'What's the 411?' album. Songs like 'Real Love,' you could do that every tour, every show. There's so many, [but] you can't do every last one of them, so we just give them a little of everything."  Blige has 29 shows scheduled for the summer outing, which wraps up Sept. 8 in Concord, Calif. Another leg of the tour may follow.

Lachey Slates Debut Solo Tour For Fall

Excerpt from – Katie Hasty, N.Y.

(July 10, 2006)
Nick Lachey will begin his first solo tour Sept. 20 in Albany, N.Y., and will hit North American theatres through Oct. 26 in St. Louis. Included in the itinerary is a Sept. 27 show at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, Lachey's hometown.  The artist will be out in support of his recent Jive album, "What's Left of Me," which has sold nearly 408,000 copies in the United States since its May release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The title cut peaked at No. 6 on The Billboard 200.  A new single, "I Can't Hate You Anymore," hits U.S. radio outlets on July 24.

Here are Nick Lachey's tour dates:

Sept. 20: Albany, N.Y. (Palace)
Sept. 21: Syracuse, N.Y. (Landmark Theatre)
Sept. 22: Mashantucket, Conn. (Foxwoods Casino)
Sept. 24: Detroit (Opera House)
Sept. 25: Toronto (Koolhaus)
Sept. 27: Cincinnati (Taft Theatre)
Sept. 28: Chicago (Rosemont Theatre)
Sept. 29: Milwaukee (Riverside Theatre)
Sept. 30: Minneapolis (Orpheum Theatre)
Oct. 2: Indianapolis (Murat Theatre)
Oct. 3: Columbus, Ohio (Palace Theatre)
Oct. 4: Cleveland (Palace Theatre)
Oct. 6: Philadelphia (Tower Theatre)
Oct. 7: Boston (Orpheum Theatre)
Oct. 8: Atlantic City, N.J. (Borgata Hotel & Casino)
Oct. 10: Washington, D.C. (Warner Theatre)
Oct. 12: New York (Nokia Theatre Times Square)
Oct. 14: Greensboro, N.C. (War Memorial Auditorium)
Oct. 15: Charlotte, N.C. (Ovens Auditorium)
Oct. 17: Tampa, Fla. (Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center)
Oct. 19: Orlando, Fla. (Hard Rock Live)
Oct. 20: Atlanta (Tabernacle Theatre)
Oct. 21: Nashville (Ryman Auditorium)
Oct. 23: Louisville, Ky. (Palace Theatre)
Oct. 25: Kansas City, Mo. (Uptown Theatre)
Oct. 26: St. Louis (Touhill Performing Arts Center)

Judge Orders Bankruptcy Takeover Of Death Row

Excerpt from

(July 10, 2006)
A federal judge on Friday ordered a bankruptcy trustee takeover of Marion "Suge" Knight's Death Row Records, saying the record label has undergone gross mismanagement.  U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ellen Carroll made the ruling as part of proceedings initiated when the rap label filed for bankruptcy in April. Carroll said the label's accounting practices were in disarray and noted that Knight testified he hadn't reviewed the financial statements in a decade.  "It seems apparent there is no one at the helm," she said, adding there appears to have been gross mismanagement, allowing her to take away Knight's control.  Knight was not present at the hearing and a message left for his attorney was not returned.  The label and Knight filed for protection under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy law. Knight has claimed debts of more than $100 million. The federal filing halted a state court action in which a former couple, who claim they helped found the label, were trying to collect a $107 million judgment from Knight.  Knight has a history of legal problems. He was convicted of assault in 1992 and placed on probation, then jailed for five years in 1996 for violating that probation. He was returned to jail in 2003 for again violating parole, this time by punching a parking attendant at a Hollywood nightclub. He was released in 2004.

Pink Floyd's Barrett Dies

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jill Lawless, Associated Press

(Jul. 11, 2006) LONDON —
Syd Barrett, the troubled genius who co-founded Pink Floyd but spent his last years in reclusive anonymity, has died, a spokeswoman for the band said Tuesday. He was 60. The spokeswoman — who declined to give her name until the band made an official announcement — confirmed media reports that he had died. She said Barrett died several days ago, but she did not disclose the cause of death. Barrett had suffered from diabetes for many years. Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965 with Roger Waters and Nick Mason, and wrote many of the band’s early songs. The group’s jazz-infused rock made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene, and the 1967 album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn — largely written by Barrett, who also played guitar — was a commercial and critical hit. However, Barrett suffered from mental instability, exacerbated by his use of LSD. His behavior grew increasingly erratic, and he left the group in 1968 — five years before the release of Pink Floyd’s most popular album, Dark Side of the Moon. He was replaced by David Gilmour. Barrett released two solo albums — The Madcap Laughs and Barrett — but soon withdrew from the music business altogether. He spent much of the rest of his life living quietly in his hometown of Cambridge, England, where he was a familiar figure, often seen cycling or walking to the corner store. Despite his brief career, Barrett’s fragile, wistful songs influenced many musicians, from David Bowie — who covered the Barrett track “See Emily Play” — to the other members of Pink Floyd, who recorded the album Wish You Were Here as a tribute to their troubled bandmate. The band spokeswoman said a small, private funeral would be held.

We Remember Milan Williams Of The Commodores

Excerpt from

(July 11, 2006) *EUR has learned that Milan Williams, one of the original members of The Commodores, has died at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston after a battle with cancer. He was 58. Born in Okolona, Mississippi, Williams played keyboard and guitar for the band and helped to write such Commodores classics as "Brick House," "Too Hot Ta Trot" and their first hit, "Machine Gun." "He was once, twice, three times a brother and we love him," the group's drummer Walter "Clyde" Orange told Reuters. "He gave all that he could give to the Commodores. He'll always be remembered."Nicknamed Captain Quick Draw, Williams is survived by his wife, Melanie Bruno-Williams, two sons from previous unions, Jason and Ricci, two brothers and a sister. Services are scheduled for Friday (July 14) in Okolona. A memorial service is slated for August in Los Angeles.

Rapper Romeo All About Basketball For Now

Excerpt from

(July 12, 2006) *Not too many 16-year-old boys can say they have both a single on the radio and a spot in the nation’s top-rated high school basketball camp.  But, rapper
Romeo can.  Master P’s acting and rapping son is competing with 200 of the top high school players at ABCD, an invitation-only camp sponsored by Reebok and based in Teaneck, New Jersey.  Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Stephon Marbury, Carmello Anthony and LeBron James have all played at ABCD before going on to become superstars in the NBA.      According to, Romeo shoots baskets and lifts weights daily to remain in top form; he averages 20 points and 10 assists a game.   "Romeo has the heart of a lion, he's a team leader, will compete against anybody, and he is one of the fastest players I've seen in a long time," said the camp’s founder Sonny Vaccaro.   Despite his skills, there will be no straight-to-the-pros move for Romeo. His father, Percy, has already made it clear that the boy will be going to college.  "I don't care what he wants to be or how much money he makes, I just want him to get an education and do something in life that he loves to do," said P of his son, who boasts a 3.5 grade point average and has reportedly turned down a $3 million movie deal this summer to go to summer school and play AAU basketball.  .  Meanwhile, his new single “Shine,” from the soundtrack to 'Repos,' is currently at radio, while his new album, “God’s Gift,” will be released in November.



Toronto Film Fest Draws Big Names

Source:  Canadian Press

(July 6, 2006) Toronto — Films featuring big-name actors including Sean Penn, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes will have their world premieres at this year's
Toronto International Film Festival, organizers announced Thursday. All the King's Men, set in the 1940s and ‘50s, stars Penn as Willie Stark, a charismatic southern politician whose idealism is marred by his own corruption, success and insatiable lust for power. The cast also includes Law, Kate Winslet and Anthony Hopkins. Sarandon, meanwhile, stars in Bernard and Doris, a humorous tale about billionaire tobacco baroness Doris Duke and the secret relationship she may have shared with her gay Irish butler Bernard (Fiennes). Copying Beethoven tells the story of music student Anna (Diane Kruger), who is offered the opportunity to work alongside the masterful yet belligerent Ludwig van Beethoven (Ed Harris) and help publish his latest score, the Ninth Symphony. American Pie actor Jason Biggs leads the romantic comedy The Pleasure of Your Company, in which his character, Anderson, loses the woman of his dreams, sinks into depression, and discovers the best and worst of what love has to offer through a spontaneous proposal to a quirky waitress (Isla Fisher). The festival runs Sept. 7 to 16.

Penn Film To Have World Premier At TIFF

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Jul. 7, 2006) The much-anticipated remake of All The King's Men, the latest film from Schindler's List screenwriter Steven Zaillian that stars Sean Penn as a Huey P. Long-type political demagogue, will have it's world premiere at this year's
Toronto International Film Festival.  Touted as an Oscar contender even before its release was delayed last year, Zaillian's adaptation of the best-selling novel that was made into a movie in 1949, stars Penn as Willie Stark, a charismatic Southern politician whose idealism is marred by his own corruption, success and insatiable lust for power.  Also in the high-profile cast are Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins.  All The King's Men is scheduled to open in theatres Sept. 22.  Although not yet confirmed, several members of the star-studded cast of All the King's Men and other American films premiering at the Sept. 7-16 fest are likely to attend and add to the glamour quotient.  Other world premieres announced yesterday:
·  Bob Balaban's Bernard and Doris, based on the life story of billionaire tobacco baroness Doris Duke, played by Susan Sarandon, with Ralph Fiennes as the barely literate gay Irish butler who inherits her fortune.

·  The Pleasure of Your Company, American comic Michael Ian Black's directorial debut starring Jason Biggs in a comedy about the best and worst of what love has to offer when two families recklessly collide.

·  Agnieszka Holland's Copying Beethoven, a U.K./Hungary co-production about a music student Anna (Diane Kruger) who is offered the opportunity to work alongside the belligerent Ludwig van Beethoven (Ed Harris) and help publish his Ninth Symphony.
For information call 416-968-FILM or go to

Here's Johnny! In-depth Interview With Johnny Depp

Excerpt from - Kam Williams

(July 7, 2006) *Born in Owensboro, Kentucky on June 9, 1963, John Christopher Depp was raised in Florida where he dropped out of school at 15 to pursue his dream of becoming a rock star.  However, Depp eventually developed an interest in acting during a visit to L.A. after being introduced to Nicolas Cage. The chameleon-like thespian made his screen debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street, followed by Platoon, which led to his breakout role as Officer Tom Hanson on Fox’s 21 Jump Street. He subsequently enjoyed a playing a series of title characters in Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco and Donnie Brasco.  In 2003, Johnny was dubbed the Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine, and in 2004 and 2005 he landed Academy Award nominations for Pirates of the Caribbean and Finding Neverland, respectively. Despite all the accolades, the adored icon remains a bit of a recluse, explaining his expatriation in France with, “You use your money to buy privacy because most of your life you aren’t allowed to be normal.” Here, he talks about reprising the character Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," the review-proof sequel to his $300 million hit inspired by the Disney theme ride.

Kam Williams: What interested you in reprising this role?

Johnny Depp: I kinda like everything about playing him. I mean, he’s just a fun character. And I certainly wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him after Pirates 1. I felt
like that there was a lot more fun to be had.

KW: How did you create Jack’s quirky personality this time out?

JD: Ted and Terry (scriptwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio) and Gore  (director Gore Verbinski) set a course in terms of the story. And then you  take the very solid bones of that structure and get to run with it a little  bit, get to add stuff and try things just to see what you can get away with.  And I’ve been very lucky so far.

KW: Did it more or less feel the same playing him again?

JD: All the things that are happening in your world affect the way you  approach your day. So, it can’t help but sort of seep into the work, I  guess. It probably made it a little easier that I wasn’t getting the  panicked, worried phone calls from some studio exec going, “What the hell  are you doing? You’re ruining the movie!” I didn’t get those this time.

KW: Did you go back and watch the original Pirates a few times again to make sure there was continuity in your character?

JD: No, no. Oh, God no! For a while there, my kiddies (Jack, 3, and  Lily-Rose, 7) were watching Pirates 1. They’ve seen it a zillion times. But  they’re taking a break on that now. They moved into Charlie and the  Chocolate Factory, and now my son’s going into Spider-Man and things like  that.

KW: What’s it like for you when your kids are watching you in a flick?

JD: I’d sort of walk into the room looking for something and suddenly hear  that familiar score or voice, and I’d exit as quickly as possible, so I  didn’t have to see it again, I mean see me again. The movie itself is good  fun. I just don’t enjoy looking at myself. It’s strange. You know what I mean?

KW: Does your being the star of some of your kids’ favourite movies affect your relationship with them?

JD: Not as much as you might think, because to them it’s normal. It’s all  they’ve ever known. So, it’s not weird for them. They can go from watching  one of my movies to the dinner table without mentioning the film at all.  Then again, there are other times when my daughter will ask, “Will you do  that voice for me?” I’ll do it, and she’ll go, “Okay, great,” and then move  on to the next thing.

KW: Does it upset you when they outgrow your movies?

JD: No, no, I’m absolutely fine with it. They have to branch out and explore  other worlds. It would be horrible if I was like, “Hey, you put my film back  on! Put that film back on right now!” [Laughs]

KW: Speaking of exploring worlds, who or what inspired you as a child to believe that you could achieve anything?

JD: I don’t know. There wasn’t any one person or thing. When I was about 12  years-old, I guess, is when I really felt like I’d found my calling, when I  started playing guitar. When I taught myself to play the guitar, and got  pretty good at it, that to me was my life, and I dedicated myself right then  and there to that, and very deep inside felt like I was going to do well  with it. And then somewhere in my early twenties, that spun out, and I was  put on a different road. And I’ve sort of been walking that road ever since.  So, I don’t know if I had to do with any of it.

KW: Were your parents supportive of your dreams?

JD: Yeah, they absolutely were. The guitar got me out of their hair. It got  me through puberty. I don’t remember puberty. I just remember playing, and  changing guitar strings. And listening to records, and learning songs off  records and stuff.

KW: Does it feel good to finally have your work validated with a couple of  Oscar nominations?

JD: I can’t lie. It is nice that a director doesn’t have to fight  tooth-and-nail to get me into his movies anymore, like Tim [Burton] did for  a number of years. I think I have a relatively sane outlook on it. I just  feel that it wasn’t like that for a long, long time, so if it’s like this  for a bit, that’s great. But the chances are pretty good that sometime or  another it’ll be like it was again, which is okay, too. Even when the  studios didn’t want to hire me, and I was kind of box office poison, I was  still able to do all those films that mean so much to me. So, if I’m a  decent flavour this week and next, but in three weeks it changes, it’s okay.  I’ve been there.

KW: Now that the big Hollywood studios recognize your talent, are you planning to pick more mainstream movies with commercial success in mind?

JD: I really hate the idea of being a product on someone else’s terms. I’m  savvy enough to understand that there’s a business side to all this. But I  swore to myself back when I was on 21 Jump Street, when they were pushing me  in a direction I didn’t want to go, that I’ll only do the things that I need  to do. If I fail, I fail. And if it works, it works, and I’ll stick with it.  As far as I’m concerned, Pirates is totally consistent with everything I’ve  done since Cry Baby. There was never a moment when I said, “This’ll be a  good career move.” Or, “I could make a whole slew of cash and skate for a  little while.” So, no, I haven’t changed any of my process, or beliefs. I’m  still dedicated to the same thing.

KW: Thanks for the time.

JD: Thank you, thanks a lot.

Back In Full Bloom

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Jul. 8, 2006) HOLLYWOOD—He's been in two of the biggest franchises in movie history. He's got a super girlfriend and female admirers from here to Timbuktu. He even gets to dress up and act like a pirate.  So is
Orlando Bloom happy?  "Yeah!" he says in an interview with the Star.  "Listen, man, life is pretty good fun, isn't it?"  But is he really, truly content? That one requires a few qualifiers. Somewhere between slaying orcs as elf archer Legolas in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and buckling swashes as brave Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Bloom had an epiphany about what he does for a living.  He likens it to a famous scene involving an unmasked wizard — the one from Oz, not Middle-earth.  "You know when you see behind the wizard's curtain? I've kind of seen behind the wizard's curtain, you know what I mean? And I like it. It's just less scary. I just see how the machine works. It was pretty scary to begin with."  That's Bloom's way of saying that the Hollywood that once seemed like a fantasy to him as a shy drama student from Canterbury, England, is now a hard-won reality to a 29-year-old movie star living in La-La Land.  Recent years have brought highs and lows for him, requiring a certain amount of fortitude to adjust. He's had the good fortune of high-profile assignments in both the Lord of the Rings and Pirates trilogies, the latter an ongoing affair that yesterday launched Dead Man's Chest, chapter two of the blockbuster saga. Part 3 arrives in 2007. He's a millionaire, and he doesn't turn 30 until Jan.13.  Bloom has also felt the sting of critical lashes and box-office doldrums for two other projects, the historical epic Kingdom of Heaven and romantic comedy Elizabethtown, which made 2005 something of an annus horribilis for him. The failure of both films has slightly tarnished his golden glow, putting him slightly on the defensive — and maybe just a little bit in denial.

"Regrets? No, are you kidding me? I don't regret a moment. I'd go back and do any of it all over again."  Maybe he would, but Bloom would also like to change a few things about his life. Such as the ceaseless tabloid speculation about his on-and-off relationship with actress Kate Bosworth, which currently is very much on. He went with her to the premiere of Superman Returns two weeks ago, to watch his sweetie play Lois Lane, Superman's love interest.  "I'm so proud of her," he says, beaming.  But press jackals won't leave him alone. Last month there were scribblings that he'd been "dirty dancing" with actress Claire Danes at a party in England. He's also been linked with actresses Sienna Miller, Kirsten Dunst and almost any red-blooded hottie who crosses his path. His love life can attract more attention than his acting, which seriously ticks him.  He says he understands now why celebrities become reclusive, because he feels that way sometimes.  "I've got a couple of caves and I bury myself in them," he jokes.  What does he really do?  "I just get on with it. Some days it's harder than others. Some days you can go out and you can get on with your life, and nobody even notices you. And other days, you've got 10 cars trailing you, all with a camera."  He also struggles getting the type of roles he wants. He has no problem finding acting jobs, but they tend to be nice-guy roles — hardly surprising for a guy whose delicate features make him look like a model for a Michelangelo statue.  Bloom had to prod Pirates screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio to make Will Turner more of a scrappy scruff for Dead Man's Chest. In the first movie, Will was a bit of a dandy. He knew how to handle a sword, but Johnny Depp's Capt. Jack Sparrow frequently flummoxed him. Will also got the girl, Keira Knightley's sprightly Elizabeth Swann, but you were left with the distinct impression he didn't really know what to do with her.  "I sort of indicated I'd like Will to develop into a more dynamic pirate as opposed to being more of a straight-laced, true-blue, stick-in-the-mud. I wanted him to become a little bit more of a pirate and maybe have a few darker edges. Which I think is something that develops in the third movie more."

Bloom got his wish. In Dead Man's Chest, he's the first hero to cross swords with the fearsome Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), a demonic villain with an octopus for a face. He gets dirty and bloodied, soaked through the skin and tossed across both a jungle and a chasm by devices ranging from a giant wheel to a ball made out of human bones.  Even better, he gets to dress like a real pirate.  "I get a pair of boots instead of those little shoes that I was wearing, and stockings. Which weren't cool at all, in my opinion. That was a start. There's a dark side to Will that I think evolves a little bit."  He found the action slightly less taxing than the knight role he played in Kingdom of Heaven, for which he gained 20 pounds of muscle. But it was a lot less comfortable playing a pirate.  "If I had a choice, I'd definitely take chain mail over a wet pirate suit, freezing my nuts off. With cold rain machines. Even though you're in the Caribbean, it's bloody cold."  Bloom is just a little bit jealous of all the fun his co-star Depp is having. Depp gets to be a rogue, with all the rum you can drink and all the wenches you can chase. But Bloom is happy to play straight man to such a talented actor, whom he credits as a great teacher, friend and inspiration.  "Will is the straight guy and the dynamic works because Jack Sparrow sparks off Will Turner. And you're never quite sure whether Will Turner really understands what Jack Sparrow is talking about, but that's kind of what makes it funny. Because you're laughing at Jack and Will and also with them at the same time."  But Bloom seriously wants to pursue more dramatic roles in the future. He's excited that a small-budget movie that he shot in the Cayman Islands two years ago, Haven, in which he plays a nasty and vengeful lover, will finally see release this September. (It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2004.)  He's also signed to co-star with Bosworth in Seasons of Dust, a drama set in the Depression to be directed by Tim Blake Nelson (The Grey Zone). The couple play fugitives on the lam from the law. Filming is scheduled to begin this month in New Mexico and Oklahoma.  Bloom has such high hopes for his future, he's even allowing himself a few thoughts about slowing down and having children around the time he turns 35. He's careful not to name names, use the word "marriage" or give exact dates.  "What will I be doing five years from now? Maybe thinking about having kids. Contemplating family life. In about five years' time, I'll be ready to start thinking about it. I want to get going on it, but I'm also living life and I reckon five years will be just about right. Why the hell not?"  Spoken like a true pirate.

Court: Sanitizing Racy Content In Films Violates U.S. Copyright Laws

Source: Associated Press

(July 9, 2006) SALT LAKE CITY — Sanitizing movies on DVD or VHS tape violates federal
copyright laws, and several companies that scrub films must turn over their inventory to Hollywood studios, an appeals judge ruled. Editing movies to delete objectionable language, sex and violence is an “illegitimate business” that hurts Hollywood studios and directors who own the movie rights, said U.S District Judge Richard P. Matsch in a decision released Thursday in Denver. “Their (studios and directors) objective . . . is to stop the infringement because of its irreparable injury to the creative artistic expression in the copyrighted movies,” the judge wrote. “There is a public interest in providing such protection.” Matsch ordered the companies named in the suit, including CleanFlicks, Play It Clean Video and CleanFilms, to stop “producing, manufacturing, creating” and renting edited movies. The businesses also must turn over their inventory to the movie studios within five days of the ruling. “We're disappointed,” CleanFlicks chief executive Ray Lines said. “This is a typical case of David vs. Goliath, but in this case, Hollywood rewrote the ending. We're going to continue to fight.”

CleanFlicks produces and distributes sanitized copies of Hollywood films on DVD by burning edited versions of movies onto blank discs. The scrubbed films are sold over the Internet and to video stores. As many as 90 video stores nationwide — about half of them in Utah — purchase movies from CleanFlicks, Lines said. It's unclear how the ruling may effect those stores. The controversy began in 1998 when the owners of Sunrise Family Video began deleting scenes from Titanic that showed a naked Kate Winselt. The scrubbing caused an uproar in Hollywood, resulting in several lawsuits and countersuits. Directors can feel vindicated by the ruling, said Michael Apted, president of the Director's Guild of America. “Audiences can now be assured that the films they buy or rent are the vision of the filmmakers who made them and not the arbitrary choices of a third-party editor,” he said.

June Allyson, 88: Girl Next Door

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jim Bawden, TV Columnist

(Jul. 11, 2006) As one adoring critic wrote about
June Allyson: "She seemed just about the nicest thing on two legs." To a wartime generation she was the girl next door, the campus sweetheart. Cute as a button, she had a deliciously husky voice and an unassuming air that made her a darling of U.S. soldiers overseas. Allyson died Saturday at her home in Ojai, Calif., from pulmonary respiratory failure and acute bronchitis, with her third husband at her side. She was 88. Allyson was born in the Bronx in 1917 (she claimed 1923) to a poor family, raised by her mother after her alcoholic father drifted off. At the age of 8 she suffered broken bones when a tree branch fell on her and was told she'd never walk again. After months of therapy, Allyson proved the doctors wrong. By 1940 she was understudying Betty Hutton in the Broadway musical Panama Hattie. Signed by MGM, she made her film debut in 1941 in Girl Crazy opposite Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. MGM used her as a threat whenever Garland got difficult. Then she co-starred with Van Johnson and Gloria DeHaven in the musical Two Girls and A Sailor (1944). "MGM had to decide whether to promote June or Gloria," Johnson once told me. "They picked June although Gloria was the better singer."

Allyson and Johnson clicked in a series of films and she also co-starred with Gene Kelly (The Three Musketeers), and Humphrey Bogart (Battle Circus). In 1944 Allyson caused consternation at MGM by marrying the twice-divorced Dick Powell. They had a son and adopted a daughter, but on the screen she could not grow up. In the remake of Little Women she was 31 and still playing a teenager. Even more popular was The Glenn Miller Story (1954), also starring Jimmy Stewart. In 1954 she took the Photoplay Award as most popular actress, was making $150,000 a film and had nowhere to go but down. She made four terrible remakes in a row and her movie stardom was soon a thing of the past. Powell arranged for her to star in a TV anthology series in the late 1950s but it was only moderately successful. After Powell's death from cancer she battled nervous breakdowns and alcoholism, occasionally emerging for a TV role on Love Boat or Murder, She Wrote, where I watched her still playing kittenish against Van Johnson.


Glover, Sharpton Join Sheehan Hunger Strike

Excerpt from

(July 6, 2006) *With the White House as her backdrop Tuesday, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan ate her last meal at midnight and begin a hunger strike designed to call attention to her efforts to bring home U.S. troops fighting in Iraq. Danny Glover, Rev. Al Sharpton and Susan Sarandon are among the celebrities joining Sheehan for the nationwide effort, dubbed “Troops Home Fast.” So far, more than 3,000 people from the U.S. and 18 other countries have signed up to join the “rolling fast,” meaning they’ll be giving up food on designated days and encourage others to fast with them on those days.  "Everything we do is to get the troops to come home," Sheehan told People magazine. "We want to show the world that there are Americans who are committed to peace. Fasting is such a time-honoured way of protest." Sean Penn and Willie Nelson have also joined the effort launched by Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004. The activist will remain on a diet of water, teas and juices until Sept. 1, International Peace Day.

Feds Won't Give Quebec Filmmakers A Cash Boost

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - James Adams

(July 11, 2006) Toronto —
Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda has declined to give the Quebec film industry $20-million in emergency funding to solve what the industry says is a "production crisis" in its French-language sector. Oda announced her decision late Friday during a 45-minute telephone conference call with Quebec filmmakers Denise Robert, Roger Frappier and Marc Daigle. The conference was a follow-up to a meeting Oda had last month in Ottawa with about 20 representatives of the Quebec industry who were upset by Telefilm Canada's recent announcement that, because of lack of funds, it could help bankroll only four or five Quebec features this year, leaving more than two dozen projects without support. Oda told Robert and her associates that "since there won't be a new budget [this fiscal year], there won't be any supplementary funding." Oda indicated Quebec's film industry needs "a long-term solution" and said the filmmakers should consult with her in the fall, with an eye to possible redress in the 2007-08 budget.


Why Ali Leroi Isn't Selling Cars

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon

(Jul. 6, 2006)
Ali LeRoi speaks with the precision of a trial lawyer, is built like a wide receiver and has the unhinged mind of a stand-up comedian.  When he's not cracking wise, which is most of the time, LeRoi can be incredibly serious, especially when it comes to Everybody Hates Chris (UPN, 8 p.m. tonight), the comedy he co-created.  Loosely inspired by the tortured childhood of Chris Rock, the show's hyper-staccato narrator and LeRoi's friend and long-time writing partner, the show premiered last fall amid an avalanche of love letters from critics.  So why does LeRoi sound so unsure about the future?  "Right now, I don't think we're significantly different than Arrested Development," he says, referring to the cancelled Fox comedy that also garnered more praise than Nielsen points.  "You know, I think we might have a strong core audience that we are trying to build on. But in order to be effective we at least have to achieve the success of Scrubs."  Everybody Hates Chris is heading into its second season on the new CW network. And LeRoi plans to streamline the storytelling, reducing the number of "side characters" that emerged during the first 22 episodes.  Set in the early '80s, the first season took young Chris (Tyler James Williams) down a rabbit hole in Brooklyn's dodgy Bed-Stuy neighbourhood. There, at home and at Corleone Junior High, Chris crossed paths with a colourful array of antagonists.  "He travelled through a world and it was kind of expansive," says LeRoi. "So now, just creatively, we want to find a way to localize them more. It's just too many people to try to keep up with! We've got as many characters as Lost and we're only half an hour!"

As he finishes the sentence, his eyes vanish into a squinty cackle that seems to envelop you in surround sound. Yet, for all the laughing LeRoi crams into an average minute, his mantra is surprisingly boring: "On time, on budget."  That's because the biggest challenge as a rookie showrunner has been the bottom line.  "A single-camera comedy is really expensive," says LeRoi. "So we have to find ways to cut corners and make adjustments that would allow us to do the program in a way the studio and network can afford."  The show received a momentous publicity push during its launch. But as the season unfolded, UPN found itself preoccupied with a more pressing corporate matter: it was merging with The WB to create The CW.  This clearly affected promotion. And on Thursday nights, Everybody Hates Chris soon found itself out-buzzed by NBC's My Name is Earl and The Office.  "When in the middle of the season it's announced that the UPN is no longer going to exist," says LeRoi, chortling. "I mean, what would you do? You have a decision to make. You have limited resources.  "Do we take the money that we have available and spend it driving people to a place we're no longer going to be?"  What about working for The CW? What will change this fall?  "The program will be a little easier to find," LeRoi says. "It should be a little bit easier to promote. It won't be any more difficult to produce. It's good to have a new network. It's all about visibility."  On a personal level, visibility is something LeRoi now tries to avoid. The former stand-up who toured with Bernie Mac, among others, is more comfortable behind the camera. He plans to keep it that way: LeRoi recently signed a two-year, seven-figure development deal with CBS Paramount Network Television.  LeRoi, who spent his childhood in Chicago glued to a flickering TV set watching Carol Burnett and Dick Van Dyke, has collaborated with Rock for years. Their joint credits include Down To Earth, Pootie Tang and Head of State. He was also a writer on HBO's The Chris Rock Show.  But, at 44, his motivation these days is simple.  "I like to do good work," he says. "I like to get a laugh. I'm better at this than I am at selling cars. Hey, if I could sell a car, chances are I might not be here today! But I just suck at that. I don't feel like wearing those clothes."

24, Anatomy, West Top Emmy Noms

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Lynn Elber, Associated Press

(Jul. 6, 2006) LOS ANGELES — Stalwart suspense drama 24 and Grey’s Anatomy, the hit hospital drama that focuses as much on its interns’ love lives as medicine, were among the top nominees announced Thursday for the
Emmy Awards.  The leading nominee, with 16 bids, was the miniseries Into the West, which was partly filmed in Alberta.  In a major reversal from last year’s awards, neither Lost or Desperate Housewives received best-series nominations.  “Honey, I got nominated. It’s hilarious, it’s unbelievable,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who helped announce the bids that included her own for The New Adventures of Old Christine, told her husband, writer-producer Brad Hall, over the phone.  “My skin feels like it’s buzzing,” she told The Associated Press. “Or maybe that’s from all the coffee I’ve been drinking since 1 a.m.”  A number of acting bids went to stars of shows that have left the air, including Frances Conroy and Peter Krause of Six Feet Under, Geena Davis of Commander in Chief and Martin Sheen, Allison Janney and Alan Alda of The West Wing.  Will & Grace, which ended its eight-year run last season, received a warm farewell with 10 nominations, the most for a comedy series.  Among the nominated reality series were ratings phenomenon American Idol and The Amazing Race.  24, with what many considered its strongest season, led all series with 12 nominations, followed by Grey’s Anatomy with 11. Both received best drama series bids and were joined in the category by House, The Sopranos and The West Wing.  For 24, Toronto-bred Kiefer Sutherland received a best-actor bid. Among the Grey’s Anatomy stars recognized were Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh, who grew up in Nepean, Ont., and Chandra Wilson, with supporting-actress nominations. The show was shut out of the best-actress and actor categories.  “I’m so happy for our show. My family is here, so I got hugs right away, and the cast is here, so we’re hugging on each other. Maybe we can go have a really expensive dinner,” Wilson said in a phone call from Milan, Italy, where she and the cast are promoting the show.

The comedy-series nominees were Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, Scrubs and Two and a Half Men.  Among the networks, long-time Emmy powerhouse HBO was the front-runner with 95 nominations, followed by ABC with 64, CBS with 47, NBC with 46 and Fox with 41.  The stars of Desperate Housewives, which lost its status as critical darling in its sophomore season although it held its ratings, were missing this year from the lead acting category. The stars of Lost met the same fate.  Besides Sutherland, other best-actor nominations for a drama went to Peter Krause of Six Feet Under, Denis Leary of Rescue Me, Christopher Meloni of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Martin Sheen of The West Wing.  Joining Conroy, Davis and Janney in the best drama series actress category were Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Kyra Sedgwick of The Closer.  The nominees for best actress in a comedy series were Stockard Channing of Out of Practice, Jane Kaczmarek of Malcolm in the Middle, Lisa Kudrow of The Comeback, Debra Messing for Will & Grace and Louis-Dreyfus for The New Adventures of Old Christine.  Louis-Dreyfus, who won previously for Seinfeld, was joined by another past Emmy winner, Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) to announce nominations in the top categories in a brief televised ceremony Thursday at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre.  Nominees for lead actor in a comedy series were Steve Carrell of The Office, Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Kevin James of The King of Queens, Tony Shalhoub of Monk and Charlie Sheen of Two and a Half Men.

“This is a very exciting moment for everyone involved with the show. We are all extremely honoured. I’m also additionally overjoyed by being personally recognized as well,” Carrell said.  Showing the flag for Desperate Housewives was series newcomer Alfre Woodard, who received a bid as best supporting actress in a comedy. Joining her were Cheryl Hines of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Jaime Pressly of My Name Is Earl, Elizabeth Perkins of Weeds and Megan Mullally of Will & Grace.  Actors nominated in the supporting category in comedy were Will Arnett of Arrested Development, Jeremy Piven of Entourage, Bryan Cranston of Malcolm in the Middle, Jon Cryer of Two and a Half Men and Sean Hayes of Will & Grace.  For drama series, best supporting actor bids went to William Shatner (Boston Legal), Oliver Platt (Huff), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Gregory Itzin (24) and Alda (The West Wing).  “It’s totally bittersweet. Bittersweet is the order of the day. But we’ll take the sweet,” said Platt, whose series was cancelled after its second season.  Besides Oh and Wilson, actresses in the supporting category, drama, were Candice Bergen for Boston Legal, Blythe Danner for Huff and Jean Smart, 24.  Top nominees in the movie and miniseries field, besides Into the West, included Elizabeth I, Mrs. Harris and Bleak House.  Besides Mrs. Harris, the made-for-TV movie nominees were two Sept. 11-based dramas, Flight 93 and The Flight That Fought Back. The Girl in the Cafe and Yesterday also were nominated.  Best miniseries bids went to Sleeper Cell as well as Bleak House, Elizabeth I and Into the West.  Nominated lead actresses in a miniseries or movie include Gillian Anderson, Bleak House, Kathy Bates, Ambulance Girl, Annette Bening, Mrs. Harris and Judy Davis, A Little Thing Called Murder.  Actors nominated for their miniseries or movie performance were Andre Braugher (Thief), Charles Dance (Bleak House) Ben Kingsley (Mrs. Harris), Jon Voight (Pope John Paul II), and Donald Sutherland, joining his son, Kiefer, in the Emmy race, for Human Trafficking.  The Emmy Awards are scheduled to air Aug. 27 on NBC, with Conan O’Brien as host of the Shrine Auditorium ceremony. The awards, traditionally held in September at the start of the TV season, were moved up because of NBC’s addition of Sunday-night football to its schedule.  There are 94 Emmy categories, including four to be announced later this month.  Other Emmy honours, including those for technical achievement and guest actors and actresses in series, will be given at the creative-arts ceremony on Aug. 19.

Complete List Of Emmy Nominations

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Jul. 6, 2006) Nominees in all categories for the
58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, announced Thursday by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences:

1.                Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour): Camp Lazlo: Hello Dolly/Over Cooked Beans, Cartoon Network; Family Guy: PTV, Fox; Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends: Go Goo Go, Cartoon Network; The Simpsons: The Seemingly Neverending Story, Fox; South Park: Trapped in the Closet, Comedy Central.

2.                Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or More): Before the Dinosaurs, Discovery Channel; Escape From Cluster Prime, Nickelodeon.

3.             Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series: How I Met Your Mother: Pilot, CBS; Stacked: iPOD, Fox; Will & Grace: I Love L.Gay, NBC.

4.             Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series: Desperate Housewives: There’s Something About a War, ABC; House: Autopsy, Distractions, Skin Deep, Fox; Nip/Tuck: Ben White, FX Network; Rome: Caesarion, Triumph, Kalends of February, HBO; Six Feet Under: Hold My Hand, Singing for Our Lives, Everyone’s Waiting, HBO.

5.             Art Direction for a Miniseries, or Movie: Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre), PBS; Elizabeth I, HBO; The Girl in the Cafe, HBO; Into the West, TNT; Stephen King’s Desperation, ABC.

6.             Art Direction for a Variety, Music Program, or Special: 78th Annual Academy Awards, ABC; American Idol: Episode 519, Fox; Dancing With the Stars: Episode 206, ABC; MADtv: Episode 1115, Fox; Rome: Engineering an Empire, The History Channel.

7.             Casting for a Comedy Series: Desperate Housewives, ABC; Entourage, HBO; My Name Is Earl, NBC; Weeds, Showtime.

8.             Casting for a Drama Series: Big Love, HBO; Boston Legal, ABC; Grey’s Anatomy, ABC; House, Fox; Lost, ABC.

9.             Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: Elizabeth I, HBO; The Girl in the Cafe, HBO; High School Musical, Disney; Into the West, TNT; Mrs. Harris, HBO.

10.                Choreography: Dancing With the Stars: Episode 208, ABC; Dancing With the Stars: Episode 204, ABC; Dancing With the Stars: Episode 208, ABC; High School Musical, Disney; Malcolm in the Middle: Bomb Shelter, Fox; The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: Commercial Breaks, Disney.

11.                Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series: According to Jim: Mr. Right, ABC; How I Met Your Mother: The Limo, CBS; The New Adventures of Old Christine: Open Water, CBS; Reba: The Goodbye Guy, WB; Two and a Half Men: Carpet Burns and a Bite Mark, CBS.

12.                Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Gum Drops, CBS; Everybody Hates Chris: Everybody Hates Funerals, UPN; Lost: Man of Science, Man of Faith, ABC; The Sopranos: The Ride, HBO; 24: 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM, Fox.

13.                Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie: Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre): Episode 1, PBS; Four Minutes, ESPN2; Into the West: Dreams and Schemes, TNT; Into the West: Wheel to the Stars, TNT; Mrs. Harris, HBO; Sleeper Cell: Al-Fatiha, Showtime.

14.                Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming — Single-Camera Productions: All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise, HBO; Baghdad ER, HBO; Children of Beslan, HBO; I Have Tourette’s but Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me, HBO; Rome: Engineering an Empire, The History Channel.

15.                Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming — Multi-Camera Productions: The Amazing Race: Here Comes the Bedouin! CBS; The Apprentice: Episode 509, NBC; Deadliest Catch: The Clock’s Ticking, Discovery Channel; Project Runway: Clothes off Your Back, Bravo; Survivor: Big Trek, Big Trouble, Big Surprise, CBS.

16.                Commercial: Clydesdale American Dream, Budweiser; Concert, AmeriQuest; Required Reading, Hallmark; Stick, FedEx.

17.                Costumes for a Series: Battlestar Galactica: Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2, Sci Fi Channel; Desperate Housewives: Next, ABC; Everybody Hates Chris: Everybody Hates the Pilot, UPN; Rome: Triumph, HBO; The Sopranos: Mr. and Mrs.                John Sacrimoni Request..., HBO.

18.                Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre): Episode 1, PBS; Elizabeth I: Part 2, HBO; Into the West: Hell on Wheels, TNT; Mrs. Harris, HBO; Once Upon a Mattress, ABC.

19.                Directing for a Comedy Series: The Comeback: Valerie Does Another Classic Leno, HBO; Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Christ Nail, HBO; Entourage: Oh, Mandy, HBO; Entourage: Sundance Kids, HBO; My Name Is Earl: Pilot, NBC; Weeds: Good S--- Lollipop, Showtime.

20.                Directing for a Drama Series: Big Love: Pilot, HBO; Lost: Live Together, Die Alone, ABC; Six Feet Under: Everyone’s Waiting, HBO; The Sopranos: Members Only, HBO; The Sopranos: Join the Club, HBO; 24: 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM, Fox; The West Wing: Election Day, NBC.

21.                Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: 78th Annual Academy Awards, ABC; American Idol: Finale, Fox; The Colbert Report: Episode 110, Comedy Central; The Daily Show With Jon Stewart: Episode 10140, Comedy Central; Saturday Night Live: Host: Steve Martin, NBC.

22.                Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre): Episode 1, PBS; Elizabeth I, HBO; Flight 93, AE The Girl in the Cafe, HBO; High School Musical, Disney; Mrs. Harris, HBO.

23.                Directing for Nonfiction Programming: All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise, HBO; American Masters: John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend, PBS; American Masters: Bob Dylan: No Direction Home, PBS; Baghdad ER, HBO; Children of Beslan, HBO.

24.          Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series: Boston Legal: Race Ipsa, ABC; Lost: One of Them, ABC; Lost: Live Together, Die Alone (Parts 1 & 2), ABC; 24: 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM, Fox; 24: 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM, Fox.

25.          Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series: Arrested Development: The Ocean Walker, Fox; Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Ski Lift, HBO; Desperate Housewives: That’s Good, That’s Bad, ABC; My Name Is Earl: Ruined Joy’s Wedding, NBC; The Office: Christmas Party, NBC; The Office: Booze Cruise, NBC; Weeds: Good S--- Lollipop, Showtime.

26.          Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie: Elizabeth I: Part 2, HBO; Elizabeth I: Part 1, HBO; Flight 93, AE The Girl in the Cafe, HBO; The Ten Commandments, ABC.

27.          Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Series: Late Night With Conan O’Brien: Episode 2198, NBC; Late Show With David Letterman: Show 2519, CBS; That ’70s Show: We Will Rock You, Fox; Two and a Half Men: That Special Tug, CBS; Will & Grace: The Finale, NBC.

28.          Picture Editing for a Special (Single or Multi-Camera): 78th Annual Academy Awards, ABC; Bill Maher: I’m Swiss, HBO; A Concert for Hurricane Relief, NBC; Dance in America: Swan Lake With American Ballet Theatre (Great Performances), PBS; The Kennedy Center Honors, CBS; The XX Olympic Winter Games: Opening Ceremony, NBC.

29.          Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Small Team Entries — Primarily Single-Camera Productions): AFI’s 100 Years ... 100 Movie Quotes, CBS; American Masters: John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend, PBS; American Masters: Bob Dylan: No Direction Home, PBS; Baghdad ER, HBO; Penn & Teller: Bull----: Prostitution, Showtime; Rome: Engineering an Empire, The History Channel.

30.          Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Large Team Entries — Primarily Multi-Camera Productions): The Amazing Race: Here Comes the Bedouin! CBS; American Idol: Audition City: Greensboro, Fox; Project Runway: Clothes off Your Back, Bravo; Survivor: Starvation & Lunacy, CBS; Survivor: Salvation and Desertion, CBS.

31.                Hairstyling for a Series: “Alias: There’s Only One Sidney Bristow,” ABC; “Desperate Housewives: Remember,” ABC; “Rome: Stealing From Saturn,” HBO; “Six Feet Under: Everyone’s Waiting,” HBO; “Will & Grace: The Finale,” NBC.

32.                Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: ``Elizabeth I: Part 2,” HBO; “Into the West: Manifest Destiny,’’ TNT; “Into the West: Casualties of War,” TNT; “Mrs. Harris,’’ HBO.

33.          Lighting Direction (Electronic, Multi-Camera) for VMC Programming: “78th Annual Academy Awards,” ABC; “American Idol: American Classics Songbook With Rod Stewart,” Fox; “American Idol: Finale,” Fox; “2005 American Music Awards,” ABC; “Late Night With Conan O’Brien: Episode 2226,” NBC.

34.          Main Title Design: “78th Annual Academy Awards,” ABC; ``Ghost Whisperer,” CBS; “Rome,” HBO; “The Triangle,” Sci Fi Channel; “Weeds,” Showtime.

35.                Makeup for a Series (Non-Prosthetic): “Black. White.: Hour One,” FX Network; “CSI: NY: Wasted,” CBS; “Grey’s Anatomy: Owner of a Lonely Heart,” ABC; “MADtv: Episode 1109,” Fox; ``Nip/Tuck: Quentin Costa,” FX Network; “Rome: Caesarion,” HBO; ``Will & Grace: Finale,” NBC.

36.                Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Non-Prosthetic): “Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre),” PBS; ``Into the West: Wheel to the Stars,” TNT; “Into the West: Ghost Dance,” TNT; “Mrs. Harris,” HBO; “The Ten Commandments,” ABC.

37.                Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special: “Grey’s Anatomy: Yesterday,” ABC; “Into the West: Wheel to the Stars,” TNT; “MADtv: Episode 1117,” Fox; “Nip/Tuck: Cherry Peck,” FX Network; “Six Feet Under: Everyone’s Waiting,’’ HBO.

38.          Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore): ``Masters of Horror: Dreams in the Witch House,” Showtime; “Rome: Triumph,” HBO; “Stargate: Atlantis: Grace Under Pressure,” Sci Fi Channel; “Supernatural: Pilot,” WB; “24: 6:00 AM - 7:00 AM,’’ Fox.

39.          Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Dramatic Underscore): “The Dive From Clausen’s Pier,” Lifetime; ``Human Trafficking: Part 1,” Lifetime; “Into the West,” TNT; ``Sleeper Cell,” Showtime; “The Water Is Wide” CBS; “78th Annual Academy Awards,” ABC; “Andrea Bocelli: Amore Under the Desert Sky (Great Performances),” PBS; “The Kennedy Center Honors,” CBS; “South Pacific in Concert From Carnegie Hall (Great Performances),” PBS; “The 59th Annual Tony Awards (2005),” CBS.

41.          Music and Lyrics: “Gideon’s Daughter,” Song Title: ``Natasha’s Song,” BBC America; “High School Musical,” Song Title: “Get’cha Head in the Game,” Disney; “High School Musical,” Song Title: “Breaking Free,” Disney; “MADtv: Episode 1111,” Song Title: “A Wonderfully Normal Day,” Fox; “Once Upon a Mattress,” Song Title: “That Baby of Mine,” ABC.

42.          Main Title Theme Music: “Get Ed,” Disney; “Masters of Horror,” Showtime; “Over There,” FX Network; “Prison Break,’’ Fox; “Rome,” HBO.

43.          Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO; Kevin James, “The King of Queens,” CBS; Tony Shalhoub, “Monk,” USA; Steve Carell, “The Office,” NBC; Charlie Sheen, “Two and a Half Men,” CBS.

44.          Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Denis Leary, “Rescue Me,” FX Network; Peter Krause, “Six Feet Under,” HBO; Kiefer Sutherland, ``24,” Fox; Martin Sheen, “The West Wing,” NBC.

45.          Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Charles Dance, ``Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre),” PBS; Donald Sutherland, ``Human Trafficking,” Lifetime; Ben Kingsley, “Mrs. Harris,’’ HBO; Jon Voight, “Pope John Paul II,” CBS; Andre Braugher, ``Thief,” FX Network.

46.          Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback,” HBO; Jane Kaczmarek, “Malcolm in the Middle,” Fox; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” CBS; Stockard Channing, “Out of Practice,” CBS; Debra Messing, “Will & Grace,” NBC.

47.          Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer,” TNT; Geena Davis, “Commander in Chief,” ABC; Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” NBC; Frances Conroy, “Six Feet Under,” HBO; Allison Janney, “The West Wing,’’ NBC.

48.          Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Kathy Bates, ``Ambulance Girl,” Lifetime; Gillian Anderson, “Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre),” PBS; Helen Mirren, “Elizabeth I,” HBO; Judy Davis, “A Little Thing Called Murder,” Lifetime; Annette Bening, “Mrs. Harris,” HBO.

49.                Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Will Arnett, “Arrested Development,” Fox; Jeremy Piven, “Entourage,” HBO; Bryan Cranston, “Malcolm in the Middle,” Fox; Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men,” CBS; Sean Hayes, “Will & Grace,” NBC.

50.                Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: William Shatner, ``Boston Legal,” ABC; Oliver Platt, “Huff,” Showtime; Michael Imperioli, “The Sopranos,” HBO; Gregory Itzin, “24,” Fox; Alan Alda, “The West Wing,” NBC.

51.                Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Denis Lawson, ``Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre),” PBS; Hugh Dancy, “Elizabeth I,” HBO; Jeremy Irons, “Elizabeth I,” HBO; Robert Carlyle, ``Human Trafficking,” Lifetime; Clifton Collins Jr., “Thief,” FX Network.

52.                Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Cheryl Hines, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO; Alfre Woodard, “Desperate Housewives,’’ ABC; Jaime Pressly, “My Name Is Earl,” NBC; Elizabeth Perkins, ``Weeds,” Showtime; Megan Mullally, “Will & Grace,” NBC.

53.                Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Candice Bergen, ``Boston Legal,” ABC; Sandra Oh, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; Chandra Wilson, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; Blythe Danner, “Huff,” Showtime; Jean Smart, “24,” Fox.

54.                Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Kelly Macdonald, “The Girl in the Cafe,” HBO; Shirley Jones, “Hidden Places,” Hallmark; Ellen Burstyn, “Mrs. Harris,” HBO; Cloris Leachman, “The Water Is Wide,” CBS.

55.          Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Patrick Stewart, “Extras,’’ HBO; Ben Stiller, “Extras,” HBO; Martin Sheen, “Two and a Half Men,” CBS; Alec Baldwin, “Will & Grace,” NBC; Leslie Jordan, ``Will & Grace,” NBC.

56.          Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Michael J.Fox, “Boston Legal,” ABC; Christian Clemenson, “Boston Legal,” ABC; James Woods, “ER,” NBC; Kyle Chandler, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; Henry Ian Cusick, “Lost,” ABC.

57.          Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Shirley Knight, ``Desperate Housewives,” ABC; Kate Winslet, “Extras,” HBO; Cloris Leachman, “Malcolm in the Middle,” Fox; Laurie Metcalf, ``Monk,” USA; Blythe Danner, “Will & Grace,” NBC.

58.          Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Kate Burton, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; Christina Ricci, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; Swoosie Kurtz, “Huff,” Showtime; Patricia Clarkson, “Six Feet Under,’’ HBO; Joanna Cassidy, “Six Feet Under,” HBO.

59.                Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program: Barry Manilow, “Barry Manilow: Music and Passion,” PBS; Stephen Colbert, “The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central; Craig Ferguson, ``The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson,” CBS; David Letterman, ``Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS; Hugh Jackman, “The 59th Annual Tony Awards (2005),” CBS.

60.                Comedy Series: “Arrested Development,” Fox; “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO; “The Office,” NBC; “Scrubs,” NBC; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS.

61.          Drama Series: “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; “House,” Fox; “The Sopranos,” HBO; “24,” Fox; “The West Wing,” NBC.

62.                Miniseries: “Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre),” PBS; ``Elizabeth I,” HBO; “Into the West,” TNT; “Sleeper Cell,’’ Showtime.

63.          Made for Television Movie: “Flight 93,” AE “The Flight That Fought Back,” Discovery Channel; “The Girl in the Cafe,’’ HBO; “Mrs. Harris,” HBO; “Yesterday,” HBO.

64.          Variety, Music or Comedy Series: “The Colbert Report,’’ Comedy Central; “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central; “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC; “Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS; “Real Time With Bill Maher,” HBO.

65.          Variety, Music or Comedy Special: “78th Annual Academy Awards,” ABC; “Bill Maher: I’m Swiss,” HBO; “George Carlin: Life Is Worth Losing,” HBO; “McCartney in St. Petersburg,” AE ``The XX Olympic Winter Games - Opening Ceremony,” NBC.

66.          Special Class Program: “Dance in America: Swan Lake With American Ballet Theatre (Great Performances),” PBS; “Jazz at Lincoln Center - Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert (Live From Lincoln Center),” PBS; “A Lincoln Center Special: 30 Years of Live From Lincoln Center,” PBS; “South Pacific in Concert From Carnegie Hall (Great Performances),” PBS.

67.                Children’s Program: “Classical Baby 2,” HBO; “High School Musical,” Disney; “I Have Tourette’s but Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me,” HBO; “Nick News With Linda Ellerbee: Do Something! Caring for the Kids of Katrina,” Nickelodeon.

68.                Nonfiction Special: “All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise,’’ HBO; “How William Shatner Changed the World,” The History Channel; “Inside 9/11,” National Geographic Channel; “Rome: Engineering an Empire,” The History Channel; “Stardust: The Bette Davis Story,” TCM.

69.                Nonfiction Series: “American Masters,” PBS; “Biography,’’ AE “Deadliest Catch,” Discovery Channel; “Inside the Actors Studio,” Bravo; “10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America,” The History Channel.

70.          Reality Program: “Antiques Roadshow,” PBS; “The Dog Whisperer,” National Geographic Channel; “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” ABC; “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” Bravo; ``Penn & Teller: Bull----,” Showtime.

71.          Reality-Competition Program: “The Amazing Race,” CBS; ``American Idol,” Fox; “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC; “Project Runway,” Bravo; “Survivor,” CBS.

72.          Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking: “Baghdad ER,” HBO; ``Combat Diary: The Marines of Lima Company,” AE “In the Realms of the Unreal (P.O.V.),” PBS; “Three Days in September,’’ Showtime; “Two Days in October (American Experience),” PBS.

73.          Writing for Nonfiction Programming: “American Masters: Ernest Hemingway: Rivers to the Sea,” PBS; “American Masters: John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend,” PBS; “How William Shatner Changed the World,” The History Channel; “Penn & Teller: Bull----: Prostitution,” Showtime; “Stardust: The Bette Davis Story,” TCM.

74.          Sound Editing for a Series: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: A Bullet Runs Through It, Part 1,” CBS; “ER: Two Ships,” NBC; “Smallville: Arrival,” WB; “Supernatural: Pilot,’’ WB; “24: 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM,” Fox.

75.          Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: ``Category 7: The End of the World: Night 1,” CBS; “Flight 93,’’ AE “Into the West: Manifest Destiny,” TNT; “Sleeper Cell: Youmud-Din,” Showtime; “Stephen King’s Desperation,” ABC.

76.          Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera): “The Amazing Race: Here Comes the Bedouin!” CBS; ``American Masters: Bob Dylan: No Direction Home,” PBS; “Baghdad ER,” HBO; “Survivor: Big Trek, Big Trouble, Big Surprise,” CBS; ``Two Days in October (American Experience),” PBS.

77.          Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Series: “Battlestar Galactica: Scattered,” Sci Fi Channel; “Boston Legal: Finding Nimmo,” ABC; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: A Bullet Runs Through It,” CBS; “House: Euphoria, Part 1,” Fox; “Lost: Live Together, Die Alone (Part 2),” ABC; “24: 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM,’’ Fox.

78.          Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie: ``Elizabeth I: Part 1,” HBO; “Flight 93,” AE “Into the West: Dreams and Schemes,” TNT; “Into the West: Hell on Wheels,” TNT; ``Sleeper Cell: Youmud-Din,” Showtime; “The Ten Commandments: Part II,” ABC.

79.          Multi-Camera Sound Mixing for a Series or Special: “Two and a Half Men: The Unfortunate Little Schnauzer,” CBS; “The West Wing: The Debate,” NBC.

80.          Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or Special or Animation: “78th Annual Academy Awards,” ABC; “American Idol: American Classics Songbook With Rod Stewart,” Fox; “Barry Manilow: Music and Passion,” PBS; “Eagles Farewell I Tour - Live From Melbourne,” NBC; “48th Annual Grammy Awards,” CBS.

81.          Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera): “The Amazing Race: Here Comes the Bedouin!” CBS; ``American Masters: Bob Dylan: No Direction Home,” PBS; “Baghdad ER,” HBO; “Deadliest Catch: The Clock’s Ticking,” Discovery Channel; “Survivor: Big Trek, Big Trouble, Big Surprise,” CBS.

82.          Special Visual Effects for a Series: “Battlestar Galactica: Resurrection Ship (Part 2),” Sci Fi Channel; “Lost: Live Together, Die Alone (Part 1 & Part 2),” ABC; “Perfect Disaster: Super Tornado,” Discovery Channel; “Rome: The Stolen Eagle,’’ HBO; “Surface: 101,” ABC.

83.          Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: ``Before the Dinosaurs,” Discovery Channel; “Into the West: Hell on Wheels,” TNT; “Mammoth,” Sci Fi Channel; “The Nightingale (Great Performances),” PBS; “The Triangle: Part 1,” Sci Fi Channel.

84.          Stunt Coordination: “Alias: Reprisal (Part 1) & All the Time in the World (Part 2),” ABC; “E-Ring: Snatch and Grab,’’ NBC; “Numb3rs: Harvest Episode,” CBS; “24: 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM,’’ Fox; “The Unit: First Responders,” CBS.

85.                Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Series: ``American Idol: Episode 530,” Fox; “Dancing With the Stars: Episode 204,” ABC; “Late Night With Conan O’Brien: Episode 2226,” NBC; “Late Show With David Letterman: Episode 2472,” CBS; ``Saturday Night Live: Host - Jack Black, Musical Guest - Neil Young,” NBC.

86.                Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: “78th Annual Academy Awards,” ABC; “Andrea Bocelli: Amore Under the Desert Sky (Great Performances),” PBS; ``Elton John: The Red Piano,” NBC; “NFL Opening Kickoff 2005,’’ ABC; “The XX Olympic Winter Games - Opening Ceremony,” NBC.

87.          Writing for a Comedy Series: “Arrested Development: Development Arrested,” Fox; “Entourage: Exodus,” HBO; “Extras: Kate Winslet,” HBO; “My Name Is Earl: Pilot,” NBC; “The Office: Christmas Party,” NBC.

88.          Writing for a Drama Series: “Grey’s Anatomy: It’s the End of the World, as We Know It (Part 1 & Part 2),” ABC; “Grey’s Anatomy: Into You Like a Train,” ABC; “Lost: The 23rd Psalm,’’ ABC; “Six Feet Under: Everyone’s Waiting,” HBO; “The Sopranos: Members Only,” HBO.

89.          Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: “The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central; “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central; “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC; ``Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS; “Real Time With Bill Maher,” HBO.

90.                Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: “Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre),” PBS; “Elizabeth I,” HBO; “Flight 93,” AE “The Girl in the Cafe,” HBO; “Mrs.Harris,” HBO.

Muniz Makes Pit Stop At Toronto Grand Prix

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Jeff Pappone

(July 6, 2006) INDIANAPOLIS, IND. — Dressed in loose-fitting jeans and baggy brown T-shirt, former Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz easily blended in with a group of mid-teen Formula BMW drivers hanging out at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend. Ironically, the worry that he would always be seen as a teenager is exactly why Muniz, 20, decided to "disappear" for a few years and try his hand at racing before attempting the transition to adult actor. "If I was going to continue acting after Malcolm, I would have to work really, really hard to find the right movies and work with the right people. It was a scary time in a sense because if I did one bad thing, I would be done forever," said Muniz, who is expected to race in the Formula Ford event during this weekend's Grand Prix of Toronto at Exhibition Place. It will be easier to come back when I am 25 because I will be an adult and a totally different person. And maybe I will be a famous race car driver by then and I won't have to worry about growing up." After Malcolm in the Middle ended its seven-year run last May, Muniz signed with Toronto-based Jensen Motorsport to drive in the Formula BMW USA series. In eight races this season, his best result is a 16th in Indianapolis. The diminutive actor began thinking about a second career after driving in the celebrity race during the 2004 Champ Car Grand Prix of Long Beach. He won the celebrity title in his second try last year.

"The thing about racing that I love is that how well I do is up to me and how hard I want it will show in my results," he said. "In movies, critics hold your destiny in a sense. It's all up to what somebody else thinks and sees, but here [in racing] if I finish at the front, I'm good." Muniz is one of a growing number of actors getting involved in serious racing. Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey competes regularly in the Grand-Am sports car series and co-owns a team in the Indy Racing League (IRL). Late Show host David Letterman co-owns the IRL team that features media darling Danica Patrick. The dean of actor-racers continues to be Hollywood icon Paul Newman, who claimed four national sports car championships and became the oldest driver to win at the 24 Hours of Daytona with a class victory in 1995 at the age of 70. He also co-owns the Newman-Haas Champ Car team. Others haven't been as successful, including former Beverly Hills 90210 star Jason Priestley, who almost died in a 2002 crash during practice for an Infiniti Pro Series race in Kentucky.

For Howie Mandel, Playing Host Isn't A Bad Deal

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Andy Smith

(Jul. 10, 2006) PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Almost everywhere he goes, people walk up to comedian
Howie Mandel and yell "Howie! Deal or no deal?" But Mandel says it hasn't gotten old. "No! I'm lovin' it! I'm wallowing in it!" Mandel said in a recent phone interview. The reference is to the game show Deal or No Deal, a surprise hit for NBC when it first aired last December with Mandel as host. The show continued to flourish this spring -- the season finale had 18.2 million viewers, making it the top-rated show in early June. Mandel said he originally turned down the offer to host the show. Twice. " 'A game show?' " he recalls thinking. "I figured that would be the final nail in the coffin for my touring and stand-up career." But at his wife's urging, he met with Deal or No Deal producer Rob Smith over pastrami at a Los Angeles deli. Smith showed him how the game worked, and then gave him a tape to watch -- in Italian. Mandel said he couldn't speak the language, but he had no trouble understanding the game. "I couldn't believe it," Mandel said. "I'm screaming 'Take the lira, stupido!' " The Toronto-born Mandel, 50, enjoyed his greatest TV visibility -- up until now -- as Dr. Wayne Fiscus on the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere in the mid-eighties. He said it's far more difficult to gain mass appeal these days. "Look at what's on television -- 900 channels, 24/7," Mandel said. "I go up and down the dial and there are shows I've never heard of before." While Deal or No Deal can be watched by the entire family, Mandel warns that the same is not true of his stand-up comedy, which is often for adults only. Actually, Mandel said he never knows what's going to happen on stage. "It's very improvisational, very loose. I don't set any boundaries; that's what I love about it. It's just a big party where I'm the centre of attention." Mandel said that on some nights, children could see his stand-up act without any problem. Other nights, absolutely not. "It's very hard for me to do the same thing night after night," Mandel said. "Yes, I have material that I do, but if there should be a different mood, the whole show can veer off in another direction. People come up to me and say, 'I was there when you did that thing with the woman in the yellow dress.' The show becomes an event that everyone wants to be part of." Mandel said the Deal or No Deal producers told him that's one reason they wanted him for the show -- he can think on his feet.

Deal or No Deal's simple yet addictive premise, with 26 briefcases containing mystery amounts of money, draws people to the TV. At periodic intervals, a mysterious, hidden "banker" will call Mandel and offer to buy the contestant's briefcase. (The price varies depending on how much money is left in the remaining briefcases.) Mandel said there really is one banker making the phone calls -- and, Mandel said, he has deliberately avoided meeting him. "When they [contestants] go, 'No deal' and it's $250,000 or $300,000, it's all I can do not to throttle them and say 'Take the money, you idiot, and go home!' " Mandel said. "But there's that go-for-it attitude. It's the American way. I'm not a gambler at all, but I get the philosophy." With his head shaved clean, Mandel is a distinctive figure. He's also been open about his obsessive-compulsive disorder and fear of germs, so contestants on the show know not to shake hands with their host. They bump fists instead. Mandel, who had bushy hair back on St. Elsewhere, said he originally shaved his head for a movie role that fell through. "I thought it would freak out my wife," he said. "When I got home, she looked at me and said 'Now, that's sexy.' " If that wasn't good enough, Mandel found that the shaved head made him feel cleaner, no small thing for someone who has taken up to 20 showers a day. Deal or No Deal returns to NBC this fall, Mondays and Thursdays. Many TV observers feel that the network will burn out Deal or No Deal in much the same way ABC did with Who Wants to be a Millionaire? But Mandel said he thinks the show has more staying power than many people give it credit for. And he's not worried about burnout. "I'm very lucky to have gotten the job. If this show does burn out, there are a lot worse things to happen than to be on a show that was so successful they overplayed it."

Stroumboulopoulos to host ABC's "The One"

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Guy Dixon

(July 11, 2006)
George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC Television's main hope to target the younger demographic, is now on the brink of entering millions of American homes as the host of ABC's reality music contest The One: Making a Music Star.The Ontario native, former MuchMusic presenter and now the host of CBC Newsworld's current-events show The Hour will host the American reality show this summer, having got the gig only a week ago.It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. Stroumboulopoulos was on a cross-continent motorcycle trip from Toronto to Los Angeles a few days ago, and his cellphone rang while he was refilling his gas tank in Illinois, 1,600 kilometres or so away from Toronto. It was his L.A.-based manager on the phone, along with The One's executive producer. They told him to turn around and head to Chicago, leave his motorcycle there and fly down to L.A. to meet the show's producers."That's what happened. It was totally not in the works. I wasn't laying any groundwork at all for something like this," Stroumboulopoulos said yesterday. "They had gone through however many people they had looking for a host." In fact, he beat out 260 people.The CBC will simulcast the series beginning next Tuesday. Its premise resembles the American Idol/Canadian Idol concept, with performers competing for a recording contract and viewers voting for their favourite contestants.This is also the show that recently drew criticism when the CBC announced that it would bump The National to 11 p.m. on Tuesdays to make room for the two-hour broadcast.Central to the CBC's new push for higher ratings, Stroumboulopoulos will also continue to host The Hour when it is becomes CBC-TV's new late-night show, moving to the main network and airing at 11 on weeknights this fall.He added that he remains committed to The Hour and has no plans to host the made-in-Canada version of The One, which the CBC has said it hopes to produce this autumn. "I would not consider this job [hosting the American version of The One] if it meant leaving The Hour."

Oprah To Celebrate New Year’s In South Africa

Excerpt from

(July 7, 2006) *In what could rival her star-studded 50th birthday celebration, Oprah Winfrey is planning to ring in 2007 by hosting a celebrity-filled extravaganza in Cape Town, South Africa. According to South African newspaper Die Burger, Winfrey is due to visit the country sometime between Jan. 2 and 9 to officially open her school, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. The talk show maven is expected to invite 100 of her closest homies to the bash, including former President Nelson Mandela, Gayle King, Julia Roberts, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley. Meanwhile, Winfrey has been keeping a close watch on the development of her South African school, located at Henley-on-Klip outside of Johannesburg. She has stated her intent to oversee the tiniest of details, including the choice of curtain patterns.


New Musical Actually Her 2nd Menopause Play

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Jul. 7, 2006) If they ever created the show business equivalent of a Soccer Mom, she'd probably be a lot like Jayne Lewis.  She bursts across Queen St. E. on this hot summer afternoon, blazing a trail through the traffic for her giant dog, Canyon, and her 12-year-old son, Evan.  "Go play on the beach for a while," she suggests to them, "and don't call me unless one of you starts drowning."  She settles in a sidewalk café, orders a cranberry juice and keeps juggling the multi-coloured circus balls of her life.  "It's a matinee day," she says, "that's where Victor is." Victor A. Young, her husband and Evan's dad, is on stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre, playing Elrond in The Lord of the Rings.  And Jayne? Well, these days she's spending her evenings performing in the musical revue Menopause Out Loud, currently in previews at the Capitol Event Theatre (2492 Yonge St.) prior to Wednesday's opening.  "My husband's got hobbits and I've got hot flashes," she quips. "What else do you expect when both partners are in the theatre?"  Lewis is slim, attractive and younger looking than her 48 years, which is probably why she has no problem with being in a show about "the change."  "Actually, this is my second menopause show," she confides, referring to her stint in a Canadian show called Menopositive, "so that probably helped to break the ice.  "Me? I'm probably para-menopausal. I've got the mood swings and the forgetfulness, but so far that's it, baby."

The show she's in has built to an enormous hit across North America since opening at a 76-seat theatre in Orlando in 2001. It's played in 14 cities, spreading its mixture of pop-song parodies and positive reinforcement to an enthusiastic audience.  "We bring women up on stage at the end of the show," says Lewis, "and the other night, a woman about 70 started hugging me and asked, `Where were you girls 15 years ago?'"  Lewis shakes her head. "Even the men who come may be initially dragged by their wives, but they wind up loving it.  "It may seem fluffy, but believe me, I haven't worked this hard in a long time. It's 90 minutes, no intermission, non-stop singing and dancing. You come offstage and you really DO get a hot flash!"  In an earlier life, Lewis was a busy player in the cabaret theatres that used to flourish all over Toronto. "I keep thinking of (producer) Marlene Smith, God love her! I worked for her for years. The Ports, The Teller's Cage, The Dell ... all those places. What ever happened to them?"  When Lewis is reminded that the mega-musical craze made all those intimate, amusing shows suddenly seem too tiny, she agrees, but wonders if the tide hasn't turned again.  "Let's face it, we're all of an age now. By the time 11 o'clock rolls around, we want to be home in our beds. No more three-hour spectacles, please. Let's have a great 90 minutes and go home."  Lewis beams as she talks about the joys of this kind of work. "I always love the one-on-one contact with the audience. I love seeing their faces. You don't get that in the big shows."  She knows what she's talking about. She spent two and a half years as Madame Giry, the dominating ballet mistress, in The Phantom of the Opera, only leaving when she was seven months pregnant with Evan.  "I'll never forget my last performance. Everyone was hugging me and giving me flowers and the audience must have been wondering why. Then one of the technicians walked on stage and gave me a giant box of Pampers. Suddenly, everyone understood."

Lewis is grateful for her time on Phantom ("Victor was doing Crazy for You and thanks to those two shows, we have a house"), but she didn't enjoy everything about doing it.  "There was never a creative process involved. We were simply fitting into the patterns and the loop of the people who came before us."  Lewis has always been a mixture of pragmatist and idealist. "I get it all from my parents. They're always been there for me, no matter what I decided."  A Toronto native, she started training at the National Ballet School as a child, then switched to the Royal Conservatory of Music to study voice. No sale.  "I knew I wanted to do musical theatre, that was it," she declares resolutely.  After two years of theatre at Ryerson, she left. "They pooh-poohed my interest in musicals and I said, `You guys are mental, I'm out of here.'"  She found a home at the Banff School of Fine Arts and after that, started touring the country with musical revues.  "I've played Bella Coola, B.C., billeted into someone's home because the one motel in town was packed with jurors. I've done a show in the Northwest Territories, in Yellowknife where we had no costumes or lighting because our truck broke down in Great Slave Lake."  "I feel blessed that I started when I did. I don't think those kind of opportunities are there for kids today. Those were the good old days, seriously."  It's time to collect Evan and Canyon and throw some dinner together before another night on the boards.  "It's been a good life," she concludes, "a good career. Sure you can start in with coulda, woulda, shoulda, but you go crazy thinking things like that. I've got a great husband and a great son. Thank God for what you've got, and enjoy what you're doing."

Tyler Pearse Had Never Been Onstage Before He Landed Oliver!

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 10, 2006) It took watching hundreds of boys audition for the coveted lead role in
Oliver! before director Donna Feore found her London waif in a novice from Mississauga named Tyler Pearse.  "I'm pretty hands-on with the casting and I didn't want one to slip by. (Tyler) came in late in the process, very far down the road for us. He was, I think, about the second last child we'd seen and I hadn't really found the child (for the role)," said Feore.  Although Tyler had no stage experience and only limited voice training, Feore saw an unspoiled quality in him that the scores of more seasoned young thespians either lacked or had lost.  "I was looking for a quality of having a wonderful innocence but also, a natural confidence — if there's such a thing. He (Tyler) had a wonderful availability to him and openness. But he's also vulnerable and, of course, he's a waif ... physically he looked the part," said Feore. (For the record, Tyler's 4 1/2 feet tall and about 74 pounds.)  "I saw so many accomplished kids and that's great for (the Artful) Dodger. But for Oliver, none of them were working for me because they were too aware of their own skill and their own talent. To get the innocence back in a child who's been working since they were 2 — good luck. And Tyler had none of that."  The final test was putting Tyler alongside Scott Beaudin, who had already been cast as the rascally Dodger. There was "an instant chemistry with the two of them ... a real big-brother, little-brother feel. So that kind of sold me," she said.  In person, the slight, tousled-haired boy — who was 9 when rehearsals began and is the second-youngest cast member — is indeed childlike and unaffected.

"This was my first audition and I got this role," Tyler said, with just a hint of pride.  In the next breath, he talks about the "big sacrifice" his family has made in being separated for the better part of a year — from February when rehearsals began to October, when the play finishes.  His father, Paul, and older brother Kyle, 13, remain in Mississauga, while he and mom Barbara live in Stratford with "the dogs and two cats daddy doesn't want," Tyler joked.  Playing Oliver also meant missing about 60 days at Middlebury public school, although Tyler's June report card was more than respectable.  Kneading a ball of Play-Doh as he speaks, Tyler exhibits a carefree boyishness that makes him so appealing in the role.  He rhymes off favourite subjects ("science, music, gym") and hobbies ("playing on the computer, fishing, boating, anything basically to do with water") as well as bemoaning the travails of a working child actor.  "The thing I hate about it (is) I have to go to bed too early because I have to stay focused and everything. And if I go to bed too late, I'll be tired for tomorrow's show," Tyler decried.  He describes acting as "more like playing" and shrugs off his almost total lack of stage fright.  "I think you get used to it once you've done it for a bit, get used to getting up and being on stage in front of all these people."

That confidence on stage also astonished Feore and her husband, veteran actor Colm, who plays Fagin alongside Tyler.  "(Tyler) is just very solid. He got out there in front of almost 2,000 people that first time. In the Festival Theatre, that's overwhelming ... and he's cool. Colin just said `Oh wow,'" she said.  Still, Feore recalled the "painfully normal 9-year-old" who arrived in Stratford five months ago.  "(Kids) are active and they don't want to sit still and there's so much stillness with Oliver; he has to be quite still at moments and not move and be quite fearful of what's going to happen next. That, I think, was torture for this child."  Then there were Tyler's "checking-out" moments when his focus would wander. Tyler remembered them, too.  "She (Feore) can be tough sometimes. If you're doing a bad job, she'll come backstage and she'll give you a talk and say, `you've got to do a better job, people have paid hundreds of bucks to come to see it and it could be their only holiday for, like, a year,'" Tyler said.  "I call her my stalker because she follows me 24-7," he added.  In fact, with the production in full swing and earning high praise, Feore has reluctantly moved on.  But she agreed it's been tough after spending so much time with Tyler and the other children in the cast.  "I had a really difficult time ... leaving this show. As a director or a choreographer, you walk away. You check up on (the show) but you move on."  "But it was hard leaving the kids, especially Tyler, because I spent every single day with this child pretty much and that was just to get him to where he needed to get to. So when that ended, it was really a void.  "He did actually suggest that I might be a stalker but that's okay," Feore said, with an indulgent chuckle.  Feore said she also worries about the fact that Tyler has started his acting career in such a major role in a major theatre festival like Stratford's.  "I'm hoping when the question is, `What is (Tyler) going to do next,?' the answer is: `Go to school, hang out with my friends.' I really do hope that for him."  As for the somewhat homesick 10-year-old: "It would be nice if I went on (as an actor). I'd like to do movies and stuff like that and basically everything," Tyler said.  "But I'm going to put a hold on theatre for a while unless it's in Toronto because it's a big move and a big separation from the family."

Our Theatre Lives!

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Jul. 12, 2006) There is life after The Lord of the Rings.  The June 28 announcement of the $28 million spectacle's premature closing sent a chill through the arts community.  If a show with that much hype couldn't attract audiences, some pundits suggested, it must mean local theatre is in truly dire straits.  Well, as Ira Gershwin once wrote: "It Ain't Necessarily So." In fact, the opposite seems to be true.  Most of our major companies have at least one solid gold hit packing in crowds this summer.  Stratford's production of South Pacific sold out its entire run through Oct. 28 and has since added a two-week holdover.  Shaw's musical, High Society, is playing to 91 per cent attendance, the best total for its mainstage in more than five years.  Here in Toronto, Soulpepper's latest offering, The Real Thing, is the highest-grossing show in its history and has added performances to meet demand for tickets.  The Mirvish production of Spamalot, which opens in previews tonight, is expected to sell out its entire run of 163,000 tickets.  And the Toronto Fringe Festival, now underway, seems headed for a record-breaking year, with numerous shows playing to capacity.  What does all this mean for Toronto theatre? It would take a Pollyanna to think we are back in the glory days of 1995 when, as CanStage's Martin Bragg recalled, "it seemed like every theatre in town was packed with people."  But it's also an improvement from the disastrous summer of 2003 when SARS knocked everyone for a loop, or the 2004 aftermath when both The Producers and Hairspray closed in a matter of weeks, sending out the message to the world, as Bragg put it, "that this city was a show killer." “

"It's very clear that there's a large and supportive audience for theatre out there," said Soulpepper's artistic director, Albert Schultz, "but people are getting increasingly selective about what they choose to see."  "The pattern of organizational loyalty we knew for years just isn't there like it used to be," observed Antoni Cimolino, general director-designate of the Stratford Festival. "Yes, there are still some people who come here for a week. But more and more, it's the desire to see a specific production that brings them here ... and then they stay for one or two more."  It's not unlike what happened in the movie world this past weekend. All summer long, producers and cinema owners had been complaining about the slump in attendance, theorizing that conventional movie-going might now be a thing of the past.  Then along came Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, with its $153.6 million (U.S.) three-day gross that shattered all records, and it became obvious that people weren't rejecting the movie-going experience; they were just waiting for a picture they really wanted to see.  "People are picking and choosing what they do in every aspect of their lives," observed Bragg. He points to an audience survey that Stratford, Shaw and CanStage recently commissioned.  When asked to select the one obstacle that kept them from more frequent attendance at theatre events, people overwhelmingly chose "lack of time." "Consequently," said Bragg, "they tend to go for something that sounds like a major event, or they're pretty sure they'll enjoy, or both."  His CanStage production of Hair, for example, had a name-recognition factor that triggered unprecedented advance ticket sales. Still, the final tally was a solid but not exceptional 82 per cent capacity for its five-week subscription run, due to poor reviews and mixed word of mouth.  In the case of Stratford and Shaw, it has been the musical productions that caught people's eyes. Stratford's South Pacific is impossible to get into and Cimolino said that pattern began very early.

"Our audiences decided they wanted to see that particular musical the minute it was announced. The reviews were generally good and the word of mouth has been strong, so that contributed to the overwhelming success."  Shaw's musical has succeeded against longer odds. High Society is not as well known a title, and the notices it received from the Toronto critics were universally damning. But as festival publicist Odette Yazbeck put it, "The audiences love it and they keep telling their friends, who love it as well. Sometimes that's how a hit gets going."  Yet sometimes even good reviews and hot audience buzz aren't enough to take a show over the top.  Last year's Fringe favourite, BoyGroove, opened April 26 at the Diesel Playhouse to a hearty thumbs-up from the media and a strong positive reaction from the audience.  But the crowds never came, and the show closed after six weeks at a loss for its investors.  Michael Rubinoff (who produced the show in association with Derrick Chua) feels two things did them in.  "Our marketing was confused," he said. "People didn't know if we were selling a musical play or an actual boy band. And we also realized too late that we had priced the show out of the range of the young audiences we wanted to attend."  Whereas most producers are finding that price isn't a factor with older audiences, the under-30 crowd is very dollar-conscious.  "When you're older," said Cimolino, "You've got lots more money than time. The reverse is true when you're young."

He added that Stratford has addressed this situation by introducing discount plans for under-20 and under-30 audiences — "they've been showing amazing results."  So in the end, what matters most to a show's success: recognition factor, word of mouth, or critical response?  When announcing the closing of The Lord of the Rings, producer Kevin Wallace placed the blame for the show's failure squarely on the shoulders of the Toronto critics.  But the feeling among local producers on the power of critics was varied.  To Schultz, "the critics have a huge impact on our sales. Positive reviews fill our houses; negative ones empty them."  Cimolino and Yazbeck, however, both felt that in the case of their festival's musical, the reviews this year mattered less than the public's positive response.  Whereas Bragg said, "If the press is negative for a show, then the only thing which will get you going is your friends telling you what a good time they had at it."  For Rubinoff, "a good show is going to find its audience regardless of notices, if people really want to see it."  "There's a hunger for good entertainment in this city," he concluded.  "It's just up to us producers to learn how to feed it."


New Life For Shuttered Poor Alex

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Alwynne Gwilt, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 6, 2006) No need to pity the
Poor Alex. It's about to open again.  The Annex theatre closed its doors last year and was bought by Graziano Marchese, local businessman and owner of Dooney's Café on Bloor St. W.  Plans had been in the works to reopen the Brunswick Ave. spot, once owned by Ed Mirvish, as a jazz and blues bar earlier this year, but work has taken longer than anticipated.  Plans for the space have yet to be finalized, but Marchese says he doesn't want to take away from the Poor Alex's theatrical past.  "I think that it should be ... something that I'll be proud of and the community will be happy to have in there," he says, adding it's important to stay true to its cultural heritage. "It's always been a theatre."  Marchese can't confirm what types of performances will be featured in the new Poor Alex, although patrons will be able to dine as they watch the show. A new kitchen is being installed upstairs.  The stage will stay the same size, but the theatre will be able to accommodate fewer performers because the dressing rooms will shrink in size due to the kitchen addition.  Marchese is currently working with well-known local jazz producer Bill King, who will bring the music performers to the venue.  There is also word comedy acts will be featured from time to time, including dinner and theatre packages when possible.  "It will be a mixed venue. We're moving more in the direction of attracting an older clientele because most of the things in the neighbourhood are directed to the younger university crowd," says Marchese.  The Poor Alex is expected to open in November.

Bassett And Fishburne Together Again

Excerpt from

(July 10, 2006) *Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne are well on their way to becoming the modern day African American version of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (minus the secret romance of course).  While Hepburn and Tracy filmed nine movies together in a span of 25 years, Bassett and Fishburne have just signed on to star in their fourth joint project – a revival of August Wilson’s acclaimed drama “Fences” at California’s Pasadena Playhouse (39 South El Molino Ave). "I spoke with Angela about playing Rose (Troy Maxson's wife) and she was quite intrigued by the idea,” Pasadena Playhouse Artistic Director Sheldon Epps told Playbill Online. “We spoke about actors who could fill the immense shoes that are Troy Maxson - one name came to mind for both of us and it was Laurence Fishburne. After seeing Laurence's towering performance in “Without Walls” at the Mark Taper Forum I went backstage to congratulate him and asked him if he would join us to bring August's most profound play back to the stage." The revival is slated to begin previews Aug. 25 and open Sept. 1 for a run currently scheduled through Oct. 1. "This is our way of honouring August - and also the brilliant Lloyd Richards, the director who helped create many of his plays," Epps said. Both playwright Wilson and his constant collaborator Richards passed away in the last year. “Fences” will follow-up the appearances of Bassett and Fishburne in this year’s film “Akeelah and the Bee,” 1993’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It” as Ike and Tina Turner and 1991’s “Boyz n the Hood” as the divorced parents of lead character Tre Styles. Fishburne’s theatre resume includes a Tony Award for August Wilson's “Two Trains Running” and recent a recent Broadway turn in “The Lion in Winter.” Bassett  has appeared in the original Broadway staging of “Joe Turner's Come and Gone” and in “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.” Tickets to Fences at the Pasadena Playhouse are available by calling (626) 356-PLAY. For more information, visit  

Rita Takes On Roxie With Tom's Blessing

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
Associated Press

(Jul. 12, 2006) NEW YORK—The first time
Rita Wilson saw the musical Chicago, she was enthralled, delighted and excited. The second time, she almost threw up.  What happened in between was this: Wilson, already a fan of the show, had been offered the role of Roxie Hart on Broadway this summer and decided to refresh her memory by catching a touring version of Chicago with her husband.  She sat in the darkened audience and watched as dancer Michelle DeJean made a knock-out Roxie. "I looked at her and said, `Oh. My. God. There's no way,'" Wilson recalls. `There's just no way.'''  That's when a fellow actor came to the rescue: Tom Hanks, her Academy Award-winning husband. "At the intermission, I turned to him and said, `Oh, man. I don't know.' I was kind of sick to my stomach. He said, `Oh no, you gotta do it. This is great! You can totally do this.'''  Wilson, primarily known as a comedic film actress, is revelling in her Broadway debut as the Cook County Jail inmate who kills her husband, frames her boyfriend and sings "I'm gonna be a celebrity.''  "You know how you sometimes feel like, `I've been waiting for this my whole life?' she says. "I love all of this stuff. I love it! I love doing it, I love every single second of the process.''  She steps into the 10-year-old revival of the Tony Award-winning musical aware of its rich history. The role of Roxie has been tackled by such actresses as Gwen Verdon, Ann Reinking and Sandy Duncan. Renee Zellweger played Roxie in the 2002 movie version.  Those unfamiliar with 47-year-old Wilson's background may be a little surprised that she can sing and dance.  But she trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before marrying Hanks in 1988.


Shaun Majumder - 'I Feel Very Global'

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Brad Wheeler

(Jul. 7, 2006) He's a Newfoundlander now based in Los Angeles. His mother was of Irish-English descent; his father is from India. He's in love with a Mexican gal, and some of his best friends are Portuguese. When
Shaun Majumder plays the race card, it's something of a lay-down hand. Majumder, who begins a five-night stand at Yuk Yuk's on July 12, was in Toronto a couple of weeks ago when he took time out to catch a World Cup soccer match at a downtown pub. Reached by cellphone, he was a little distracted, rooting energetically for Mexico in its match against Portugal. "I'm not a fanatic," he says, when asked about his passion for the game, "but I have such an appreciation for the mental focus and training that goes into it." It wasn't always that way. Majumder, a 33-year-old surfing buff who describes himself as an "athlete," once felt the way most North Americans do about the kicky business. He adopts a mock sportscaster tone to illustrate. "It's like 'here we go, it's down to the last 86 minutes, and it's still zero-zero, what a nail-biter.' " Majumder's initial disdain for the sport eventually gave way. "I made assumptions about it, and didn't give it any credit. But with each World Cup, I've grown more appreciation for it."  Still, it is the tournament's global aspect that intrigues Majumder more than the sport itself. "It's the sheer volume of the people that watch it and are connected," he says. "I love soccer, but there's something about the international game. There's more at stake." Ah, the lure of the bigger world stage. No surprise then that five years ago Majumder left Canada for Los Angeles, where he sees himself as an amateur again -- "I'm green, I'm unknown."

Though he still performs in comedy clubs, the move south was in a bid to boost an acting career. Funny thing though, since his move to the United States, he seems to be as busy as ever in Canada. He has a regular gig on the CBC Television comedy This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and also played a dullard gravedigger on the same network's Hatching, Matching & Dispatching, the Newfoundland-spoofing series from last year, starring Mary Walsh.  As well, Majumder will host shows at this summer's Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, and he's signed on for 15 episodes of Master Debaters, a topical-comedy show on CBC Radio. To Majumder, it's a little ironic that he finds himself so busy in a country he left for a bigger career, some time ago. "It's like, 'We ignored him for five years. Now we want to give him his own show. Come back!' " Which he has no qualms in doing. "I feel very global," says Majumder, a man of many accents. "It doesn't matter where my audience comes from, because I come from a motley crew." Is there a tendency for comedians of a given ethnicity to lapse into cute accents, at the expense of an actual joke? To adopt the exaggerated Indo-speak of Apu from The Simpsons, for example?  "It depends," the comic explains, laughing at the thought. "The accent is funny! I hate to admit it, but it's true. Science will bear this out: If I do the accent, people will laugh!" As evidence, Majumder goes through an impromptu bit he did at a Toronto club once, speaking in an Indian accent about the simple process of making a sandwich. "Yes, I love ham and cheese veddy, veddy much. . . ."

The crowd loved it. "On stage there's something so endearing about that particular accent, that particular voice. For some reason, people can't help but laugh. "But how do you use it?" he continues. "That's a good question. For example, when a guy does an overtly feminine voice. When a comedian does that on stage, I'm like 'nah.' There's something not thought-out about a guy on stage saying, 'Look at me, I'm gay.' " Another Indo-Canadian, Russell Peters draws a large Indian audience and tends to adjust the ethnic content of his act accordingly.  Majumder does less of that. "Most of my act is not about India at all," he says. "Because that's not me." Fair enough. So who is Shaun Majumder? "I'm Canadian, I look Mexican, and I live in the United States. I am the North American Free Trade Agreement. You can call me Nafta."

Shaun Majumder plays Yuk Yuk's downtown, July 12 to 16 (Wed., Thu., Sun., 8:30 p.m. $11; Fri., Sat., 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. $22). 224 Richmond St. W., 416-967-6425.

More comedy: CBC Radio's So, You Think You're Funny?, a weekly live-to-tape variety show featuring comedy acts from across the country, spotlights emerging Toronto comedians on the episode of July 13 (11:30 a.m.) and July 14 (7:30 p.m.).

Just for Laughs

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Michael Posner

(Jul. 10, 2006)
Bruce Hills managed to watch the first half of the Portugal-France World Cup soccer match in a Montreal bar this week, but then forced himself back to work. Too much to do. Chief operating officer of Just for Laughs, Canada's top comedy festival, Hills is just days away from the opening of JFL's 24th-annual month-long yuckfest. The bilingual event -- with some 700 artists performing before more than two million spectators -- transforms Montreal's downtown core into a relentless carnival of good humour. Hills's specific mandate is the English side of the program, which this year features comic luminaries such as John Cleese, Jason Alexander, Craig Ferguson and Ed Byrne. Over four nights, each will host a gala line-up of stand-up acts at the St. Denis Theatre, taped for rebroadcast on CBC. But there's plenty of equally brilliant comedy to be had nightly in 20-odd clubs and cabarets around town, with the likes of John Pinette, Demetri Martin (The Daily Show), Jimmy Carr, Tommy Tiernan, Arturo Brachetti and Dom Irrera. The festival has grown exponentially from the modest four-day event co-founder and JFL president Gilbert Rozon launched in 1984. And while the focus inevitably remains on the annual July extravaganza, Rozon, Hills and company have been working steadily to leverage the non-profit festival's enormous goodwill into a string of new, for-profit ventures. "Gilbert has been looking to build the business," Hills says, "to find where the brand has the most potential and where it's been weak, to strengthen it." The latest moves include joint ventures with Los Angeles powerhouse agency Thruline Entertainment and Britain's PBJ Management, which will create an international all-comedy management firm. Hills thinks the merger of Just for Laughs clients with the talent banks managed by Thruline and PBJ will pay huge dividends all around, creating more opportunities for Canadian comics in Britain and the United States. PBJ is a major agency force in the U.K., representing the likes of Barry Humphries (Dame Edna), Eddie Izzard and Rowan Atkinson.

Already, the new British alliance has launched a live touring company that will mount seven shows at this summer's Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. "Essentially," says Hills, "Gilbert is creating synergy between the three most important territories. There'll be a place in Los Angeles for U.K. clients and opportunities in the U.K. for lots of Canadians and Americans who want to work there." Won't that business relationship put pressure on Hills to tilt the balance of the annual festival line-up in favour of the joint-venture comics? Hills says he's acutely aware of the potential conflict, but says his job is to produce the best possible festival with the best possible talent, regardless of representation. Meanwhile, Gags -- JFL's half-hour TV series (à la the old Candid Camera) -- has been going from strength to strength. Now seen in 125 countries and as in-flight entertainment on 100 airlines, the show boasts 1.5 billion viewers worldwide. Produced by Oscar show veteran Troy Miller, it's in its fifth season on BBC and was recently picked as a seven-episode, mid-season replacement by ABC. "We've been working very hard to get our brand back in the U.S. in a substantial way," says Hills, "and Gags has been a huge calling card." Hard-core JFL fans will soon be able to collect five DVDs, each a best-of collection from past festivals. To complement it, Rozon is trying to negotiate a TV deal in the U.S. similar to the one he now has with CBC, which replays highlights of the current year's festival. Hills says he's confident it will materialize. Increasingly, Just for Laughs is taking the franchise on the road. From its five-city debut a few years ago, the annual cross-Canada autumn tour has grown to a 25-city schedule that this year is headlined by the mad Irish comic Tommy Tiernan. "We will produce a bigger slate of concerts in Canada," says Hills. "The priority is Just for Laughs branded tours. If we get it right, the financial benefits are greater than having a small piece of a huge star."

Similarly, it will also tour improv stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood through three Ontario cities in September, and Hills is hoping to bring John Pinette, one of the festival's most popular performers, to Toronto. "Canada is a very viable market," Hills says, "especially with the dollar rounding out." Hills, who started out in the organization as a driver for JFL co-founder Andy Nulman 21 years ago, also has high hopes for Evil Dead 1 & 2, The Musical, which is being co-produced off-Broadway this fall with Jeffrey Latimer and William Franzblau. Other revenue streams will flow from recent deals with Verizon Wireless and XM Satellite radio, where comic Joey Elias hosts a weekly show. "Our archives are perfectly suited for satellite radio," says Hills, "but there's no reason why we couldn't create new shows especially for satellite as well." The Just for Laughs festival runs at various Montreal venues to July 31, with outdoor events and most English-language shows running from July 13 to 23. Information: 514-790-HAHA or

Toronto Archives A Hidden Gem

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Jul. 12, 2006) It's one of Toronto's best-kept secrets for history lovers: the city's archives building at 255 Spadina Rd. More than 1 million photographs, millions of pages of government documents, annual reports, personal collections and correspondence are catalogued and stored here. It's a researcher's dream, but many people don't realize it exists, and that access is mostly free, said Karen Teeple, manager of archival services in a conversation with the Star.

Q.        Who are the main users of the city archives?

A.            The archives is primarily a research facility, open Monday to Friday year-round and also on Saturdays from September to June. Regular users include high school and university students, academics, environmentalists, historians and geographers. Members of the general public also use the archives. Also, we offer an education program, including walking tours, for elementary students.

Q.        What resources are available to research my home or property?

A.            There are number of sources. The Goad's fire insurance plans, beginning in 1880, provided detailed information about buildings and neighbourhoods, describing when structures were built and/or demolished, materials used, position on the lot, and so on.  Assessment rolls dating back to 1834 (the year Toronto was first incorporated) provide the names of the owners and tenants as well as occupation, salary and religion of the head of the household. City directories contain alphabetical street and name listings, also beginning around that time. Building permits between 1882 and 1926 list the owner, architect and cost of the buildings. For good measure, there are also aerial photos that reflect changes over time.  Archives staff are available to provide assistance.

Q.        What is one of the most popular requests for service?

A.            Copies of photographs are among the most requested services, often for gift-giving. Clients can purchase photographic reproductions and, most recently, digital images.  There are extensive photo collections, the earliest dating to 1856. Fees are calculated on a cost-recovery basis and available on the archives' website (

Q.        What is the archives' oldest document or artifact?

A.            A 1792 map of Toronto's harbour by Joseph Bouchette, showing Toronto (then called York) as it existed one year before the arrival of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe.

Protecting The Island Life

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 12, 2006) Squarely facing the city's urban skyline, across the harbour they call "the Bay," Toronto islanders have created a community, a culture and a way of living all their own.  But its 700-plus residents, concerned with preserving their history and idyllic existence, are exploring the idea of having their community declared a "cultural landscape," a status they hope will safeguard their future.  In so many ways, it is a place quite different from mainland Toronto neighbourhoods. The streets are narrow and vehicles are banned. There are no stores and few services, but tourists are plentiful. Post-war bungalows, painted bright, often-eccentric colours, are fronted by gardens, many half-wild, incorporating the encroaching nature. There is a culture of self-sufficiency in this mixed-income community, where neighbours in trouble can turn to neighbours. When some families fell behind on lease payments a few years back, fellow islanders raised $60,000 to prevent their exile to the mainland.  "There is a sense of independence here that sometimes comes across as arrogance," said Pam Mazza, who has lived on Algonquin Island for more than 30 years. "Islands tend to create a closer community that you often don't have (in the city)."  "It's like Toronto in 1947. There's almost a small-town atmosphere," said four-year resident George Prodanou.  "Bikes, buggies and bags" is the unofficial motto, he added, citing the car-free nature of the community as one of its chief advantages.

Indians were the first to visit the islands — at one time a peninsula — for recreational purposes before settlers arrived in the late 18th century. A storm in 1858 created what became the Eastern Gap, separating the outcropping of land from the mainland.  The Gibraltar Point lighthouse, built in 1809, is the oldest stone structure in the city. Thanks to Artscape, it has become an artistic retreat. Other buildings are well past the century mark.  Because the walls along the city's harbourfront are made of inhospitable concrete, fish and turtle habitats flourish along island shores. Its southern-facing beaches represent a "dune ecosystem," Mazza said.  But for all the advantages of island life, residents have had to battle to hold on to their community. During the 1950s and 1960s, the former Metro Toronto government demolished or relocated numerous rental homes to expand the parkland. The population, once more than 2,000, declined dramatically.  It was only after a 30-year battle that the Ontario government established a trust in 1993, giving residents in 262 homes long-term leases and some security.  When the Mike Harris government came to power, a new affordable housing project was stopped in its tracks and former MPP Morley Kells was tasked with reviewing the lease program, forcing residents to once again defend their rights.  Some islanders are no less concerned today about what the future holds.  They note, for example, that the Toronto Waterfront Redevelopment Corporation's ambitious 30-year plan is silent on the island population.  "Probably to be outside of (the corporation's) mandate is in some ways good. But at the same time, it's almost like they ignore our presence," Mazza said.

"There are plans afoot for the port lands, for the immediate waterfront and there isn't anything for the island. It's sort of a black hole," Prodanou added.  While residents live on less than 10 per cent of the Toronto Islands' 230 hectares, most desire some kind of say in its future. "We live at this one little end of (the island) but we feel very much a sense of stewardship. A lot of us spend a lot of time walking the park, we know it really well and care about the integrity of it," Mazza said.  Over the decades, residents have had to react "in a knee-jerk fashion" to a number of projects — an aquarium or an exotic bird sanctuary — that have been floated only to fall by the wayside, Mazza said.  Many believe it's time for some form of special status to protect the Toronto islands and their many assets.  A new concept, recently approved by the province, could see some or all of the islands receive a "cultural landscape" designation to protect its environmental, heritage and cultural resources. It is a concept the residents' heritage committee has begun to study. If approved, it would be the first designation of its kind in Toronto.  Not so in Mississauga, where that city took inventory of its cultural landscape and then designated 65 areas, said heritage officer Mark Warrack.  The Ontario Heritage Act, the Planning Act and a provincial policy statement are emphatic in stating that important cultural landscapes "must be preserved," Warrack said.  Such a designation does not carry the weight of a heritage conservation district, which places restrictions on changes to building exteriors, including choice of materials, to ensure conformity with adjoining heritage properties. Such districts exist in Cabbagetown and Rosedale.  But Warrack said cultural landscape status does require a review take place before major changes are undertaken. It also puts municipal politicians on notice that their public duty is to protect the various features of that community, he added.  "There are a lot of reasons to say there's something very special and worth protecting (about Toronto Island). I don't think the park is threatened in itself, but we've been trying to encourage the city and the parks department to say it does need a special status," Mazza said.  Mazza said there may be some negative reaction to the proposal from mainlanders, who seem to resent the supposed "sweetheart deal" islanders got from the province. But island life, she noted, isn't all sunshine and roses.  "When people come over and wax lyrical about the place, I always say, `Come in January,'" Mazza said.

Sitcom Spins Nice Niche On The Web

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - By Raju Mudhar

(Jul. 9, 2006) Most of you noobs out there will never have heard of Pure Pwnage. But to a growing number of webheads and gamers worldwide, this Internet-based sitcom is like Seinfeld, replete with catchphrases and chatter around the blogger water cooler whenever an episode comes out.  For the total noobs out there, we should explain that it's pronounced "pure ownage" — a gaming term meaning mastery of a rival or game. (A noob is a newbie, which means neophyte, which means "likely prey for those possessing pawnage.")  The Toronto-made series — found at — is created by ROFLMAO Productions, and is an excellent example of both where the Internet and TV are converging, and where the possible future of television production lies. Unlike fan films or homemade shorts on Youtube, Pure Pwnage exhibits traditional TV sitcom hallmarks with 11 episodes, each about 20 minutes, already on the site and two more planned for this first season.  The storyline focuses on Jeremy, a bandana-wearing hardcore professional gamer who is constantly followed around by his film-school brother, Kyle, a character never seen but often heard from behind the camera, documentary style.  There's also Jeremy's love interest Anastasia; fellow gamer and bald, aggro buddy FPS_Doug (whose exclaim of "Boom! Headshot!" has become standard gamer-speak); and the Master, a mysterious ninja gear-clad gamer who serves as Jeremy's inscrutable sensei.  In episode 11, the Master sends Jeremy to the Netherlands in order to challenge another gamer, and that ends in a battle where the weapon is again the keyboard — used physically, for once. With its insider humour and the skewed view of people who spend too much time playing in virtual worlds (the characters use the letters "RL" when they want to talk about real life), the show serves a narrow niche.

"We like to call ourselves a grassroots Internet gaming culture show," says Kyle, in an interview. "But a lot of noobs watch our show, not just for the games — they are interested in the characters. It is very niche, but that's exactly what's helped us grow virally."  "We're not interested in making another Friends here," says Jeremy dryly.  It's the distribution that really sets the show apart. Each episode is free, available for download on the show's site. Kyle says the audience has roughly doubled with each episode and estimates they have an audience of about 3 million viewers.  Pure Pwnage began with test scenes shot for a pilot being posted online.  "This was about two years ago, long before Youtube and podcasting, and basically this test footage was really funny. So we posted it to one of the boards of one of the games that (Jeremy) was talking about, and people really liked it and it exploded virally. So there was this demand," says Kyle. "We also think that gaming culture is ripe for satire. I mean all the shows are news or reviews and there isn't a real gaming culture show that is actually about what gamers play and what they really talk about."

While most of the show is shot in the Annex, it has gone on location. "One of the reasons that we went to the Netherlands is because the audience is so international. Eighty-five per cent of our viewers are outside of Canada," says Kyle. "We've actually had some interest from broadcasters in Russia and Sweden who want to put it on the air ..."  Funding for the show comes from the sale of merchandise — mostly T-shirts at the site's online shop — with advertisers hard to find for such an early player in the web-TV world.  Currently, the cast and crew are shooting episode 12. When the season finishes with episode 13, it will come out on DVD, accompanied by a soundtrack. Plans for next season's shows include a movie.  For hardcore fans, episode 13 will see the cast and crew fully credited. It may quash a bit of the mystery around the show's origins, but with a hot property in a medium being rapidly defined, the creators want everyone to know just who owns Pure Pwnage.

Mike Nichols Gets More Eclectic With Age

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Jul. 8, 2006)
Mike Nichols has won seven Tonys, two Emmys and one Oscar for directing, so when he offers advice on how to have a successful production, you listen.  "I have a secret for creating a cast," he whispers over the phone from his home in Connecticut. "Are you ready? No assholes."  "It's not so easy to accomplish," he adds, "because you have to be very alert. But if you do it, then you all lift each other higher than you could have ever possibly imagined."  That kind of airborne joy is clearly evident in Spamalot, the hit musical "lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail" that starts preview performances on Tuesday night at the Canon Theatre.  "I never wanted anyone but Mike to direct it," insists Eric Idle, the Python who turned the troupe's screen romp into a singing, dancing smash.  "And I didn't want to do it," sighs Nichols. "But I listened to a reading of it and in the middle, I thought, `Shit, I'm stuck. It's brilliant. I've got to come along on this crazy ride.'"  It's not like Nichols had anything to prove to anyone. At 74, he's already an iconic name in show business.  He started out as the partner of Elaine May, in one of the funniest duo acts in comedic history. Then he began directing, making his mark with four of Neil Simon's early hits on Broadway. Soon he switched to film, where his first successes included Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge.  Over the decades, he's known his ups and downs, but a career that can also include Silkwood, Working Girl, Primary Colors, Angels in America and Closer has seen far more peaks than valleys.  Although he's done well in his journeys to the darker side of human nature, comedy has remained his forte, because, he says, "in my experience, there's humour in all great works: Hamlet, Lear, Long Day's Journey Into Night. Any project worth doing had better have a lot of laughs in it. It goes with being first-rate."

It also goes with being Michael Igor Peschkowsky, which is the name Nichols was born with in Berlin on Nov. 6, 1931. His father was a Russian doctor and the family was Jewish, so in 1939 they fled to America to escape the Nazis.  A bad reaction to a whooping cough vaccine had left young Michael totally hairless and consequently, he had to learn how to defend himself against the jibes of his new American schoolmates.  "I learned two sentences," he recalls dryly. "`I do not speak English' and `Please do not kiss me.'"  The first sentence has long since stopped making sense, but Nichols admits the second one still has resonance for him.  "My father died of leukemia shortly after we came to America and I was sent to boarding school. Yes, I suffered through intense mockery and cruelty there, but I learned to keep everyone at a safe distance by developing my wit as a weapon."  Those years are a bond he shares with Eric Idle, whose father died when Idle was only 2 and who also spent much of his childhood, unhappily, in boarding school.  "We're very similar in that way," notes Nichols, "and it's one reason we've been friends for many years. We find the same things funny, which is a wonderful place to begin a friendship."  Nichols can't recall being amusing as a young man ("I remember myself as horribly neurotic, in therapy all the time"), but his acquaintances from the period kept telling him that he was.  "I never believed them until someone finally dug up a letter I wrote when I was about 20 and I read it. It sounded just like me today. When you think back on your past, you never realize that you were you already. You always think you put it together slowly over the years. No. You were you all the time."  He wound up in the University of Chicago in a pre-med program, but soon found he was unable to stay in the same room with the cadavers used for dissection class. And so he drifted into comedy, joining an improvisational group called The Compass that would form the basis for The Second City.

He began working exclusively with a young woman whose neuroses almost matched his. The deadpan routines that he and Elaine May evolved from their improvs remain classic today.  "The things we were mocking then are still mockable now," observes Nichols. "Sure, phone operators no longer torment you over returning a dime, but they've found new ways to make your life sheer hell."  Their career peaked with a smash Broadway run in 1960-61; after that, they each sought their professional freedom, although they've remained friends to this day.  "What do I remember from those days?" Nichols says. "The amount of time we were allowed to spend in our sketches. Some of them ran up to 11 minutes. You'd never get away with that now. Everything was slower back then.  "Now the money thing drives all of show business and when money leads, time leaks."  After going solo, Nichols found himself playing the Dauphin in a production of Shaw's Saint Joan for the Vancouver Festival ("I was absolutely terrible, believe me") and while there, he met Christopher Newton, who offered him his first directing job: a production of The Importance of Being Earnest.  Within a year, he made his Broadway directing debut with Simon's Barefoot in the Park (starring a 27-year-old Robert Redford) and Nichols's career was well and truly launched.  "I've been doing comedy now for nearly 50 years," chuckles Nichols, "and I sometimes wonder if it's changed over the years. I don't think so. Funny is funny. The films of Preston Sturges, Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein, those kind of things will always make us laugh."  Nichols believes that ultimately "for any entertainment to endure, you have to be able to answer several questions about it. `What is this really like?' `What is it for?' `What are you trying to tell me here?' That's what we must ask of each other."

And he believes that Spamalot, despite its surface silliness, has the right substantial underpinnings.  "It's about the joke of aristocracy, which insists some people are better than others just because of how they were born. It makes us laugh at pomposity, at people of high station, at the romance of killing in war."  He laughs bitterly. "That sounds just like today as well as the Middle Ages, doesn't it?"  The longer Nichols stays in the business, the more he keeps juggling his projects with an eclectic hand. In fact, while the zany Spamalot was in rehearsals late in 2004, he was also doing press for his film version of Patrick Marber's chilly essay on modern sexuality, Closer.  This kind of duality makes perfect sense to Nichols.  "Part of getting old is finding some surprising pleasures. One of them is disappearing. The less visible I have become, the happier I have become.  "I know the way to become celebrated is to stick with one thing. `There he is, the Master of Suspense!' But that's never what I've wanted to do.  "Each thing I work on has always felt like what I wanted to do at that particular moment in time, from The Graduate all the way to Spamalot."  In other words, whether your project is about men who whisper "Plastics" or knights who say "Ni", Mike Nichols is still, after all these years, the best man for the job.


Vibe Magazine Sale Reportedly Finalized

Excerpt from

(July 7, 2006) *After weeks of rumours and speculation, the sale of Vibe magazine is reportedly a done deal and Mimi Valdez is officially out as editor-in-chief. According to the New York Daily News, the urban culture publication – launched by Quincy Jones and former Time Inc. President Robert Miller in 1993 – has been sold to the Wicks Group, a private equity firm focused on selected segments of the communications, information and media industries. In the corporate shift, Vibe editor Mimi Valdes is being replaced by former Vibe editor Danyel Smith, whose husband, Elliott Wilson, is the editor of rival urban magazine XXL.  Regarding the potential conflict of interest, new Vibe CEO Eric Gertler tells the Daily News: "Danyel is a complete professional. It will provide for some competitive fodder, but so long as ‘Vibe’ always gets the scoop, I'm happy." For Mimi supporters who feel she was undeservedly fired, Gertler responds: "This isn't meant to take anything away from Mimi. We just thought Danyel understands our vision."

Calgary Title Dominates Western Magazine Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Alexandra Gill

(Jul. 10, 2006) Vancouver —
Swerve stampeded through the 24th annual Western Magazine Awards ceremony in Vancouver Friday night, lassoing top honours in five categories, including best new magazine and publication of the year.  "You should take off a garment every time you go up," Swerve writer Kevin Brooker joked with editor Shelley Youngblut after she picked up her first award on behalf of entertainment writer Bill Reynolds. Youngblut launched the Calgary Herald's lifestyle weekly last year after moving from New York.  Western Living magazine picked up four prizes, two apiece for photographer Martin Tessler and writer Andrew Struthers. Vancouver magazine and its former editor Matthew Mallon, who was recently replaced by Gary Ross, won magazine of the year for the BC/Yukon region, along with two other awards.  Other multiple award winners included BlackFlash, Border Crossings, The Beaver and The Georgia Straight. Stephen Osborne, editor-in-chief of Geist magazine and a founder of Pulp Press Book Publishers (now Arsenal Pulp Press) won the Lifetime Achievement Award.


Italy's World Cup-Winning Coach Quits

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Ariel David, Associated Press

(July 12, 2006) ROME — Italy coach
Marcello Lippi resigned Wednesday, three days after guiding the Azzurri to their fourth World Cup title. Despite widespread calls for him to stay, Lippi suggested weeks ago that he would resign. He feels he and his son, Davide, were attacked personally in the corruption scandal that has tainted Italian soccer. "At the end of an extraordinary professional and human experience, experienced as the head of an exceptional group of players ... I believe my role is over as the guide of the Italian national team," Lippi said in a statement. While he is not under investigation, Lippi was questioned by prosecutors before the World Cup about alleged pressure he received to select certain players for Italy's national team. Davide Lippi is under investigation for his work at player agency GEA World. "I will continue to coach," Lippi said without elaborating. Italian soccer federation vice president Giancarlo Abete said Lippi had told him during the round-of-16 stage that he intended to quit regardless of his team's performance. In a statement, Abete praised Lippi for his "extraordinary professionalism and his ability leading the team."

Francesco Saverio Borrelli, who led the federation's probe into the match-fixing scandal, said he was saddened by the coach's decision. "Lippi has been the author of this victory in Germany, and I'm really sorry he left." Borrelli told Italian news agency ANSA. "I've always had admiration for the Azzurri and Lippi." Former Italy and AC Milan midfielder Roberto Donadoni has been touted as a possible successor to Lippi. After starting coaching in 2001, Donadoni joined Livorno in 2004, stepping down this year despite leading the Tuscan team to an unexpectedly high sixth place finish in Serie A. Lippi denied reports before the final linking him to Manchester United, saying that since he doesn't speak English it would be impossible for him to work for the Premier League club. He hasn't announced his future plans. Lippi replaced Giovanni Trapattoni after Italy was eliminated in the group stage of the 2004 European Championship. He led the team on a 25-game unbeaten streak, the Azzurri's second-longest streak after they went 30 games without defeat from 1935-39 — a period that included Italy's second World Cup title in 1938. Slovenia's 1-0 win in October 2004 was Italy's last loss under Lippi, earning 16 wins and nine draws since. Lippi visited former Juventus coach Gianluca Pessotto at a Turin hospital after announcing his decision. Pessotto has been hospitalized with multiple fractures after falling from the roof at the club's headquarters June 27 in what Italian media described as a suicide attempt. Pessotto was appointed Juventus' team manager due to a match-fixing scandal that could demote the Serie A club and strip it of the last two league titles it won. Verdicts are expected in the coming days. Lippi began coaching Juventus in 1994 and won five Serie A titles, one Italian Cup, four Italian Supercups, the 1996 Champions League, and the European Supercup and Intercontinental Cup.

Two European Stars Expected To Sign With Raptors

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Robert Macleod And Michael Grange

(July 12, 2006) The Toronto Raptors are expected to announce two significant free-agent deals as soon as today, but their most important transaction is slated for later this week. In keeping with club president and general manager Bryan Colangelo's desire to fish international waters to fill out the Raptors' roster, Spanish forward
Jorge Garbajosa and Anthony Parker, an American who has made his name playing in Europe, should have their names on contracts today, according to National Basketball Association sources. Today is the first day that NBA clubs can sign free agents. Garbajosa and Parker are a prelude to what the club hopes will be the main event later this week, a contract extension for all-star forward Chris Bosh, who is eligible to sign a five-year deal worth an estimated $80-million (all figures U.S.). With a year left on his rookie contract, the extension could keep Bosh in a Raptors uniform through the 2011-12 season. Team insiders suggest that the official announcement could come as early as Friday. Bosh would join Vince Carter as the only Raptors to sign a maximum extension with the franchise.

In keeping with club policy, Colangelo would not comment yesterday on the pending signings of Garbajosa and Parker or Bosh's extension. Coming to terms with Garbajosa and Parker would give the Raptors the two top-rated free agents in Europe. And coming to terms with Bosh would give the club one of the best young talents in the sport. Maurizio Gherardini, Toronto's vice-president and assistant general manager and the former GM of Benetton Treviso in Italy, has watched the progress of both Parker and Garbajosa closely over the past several years. In fact, Garbajosa won the Euroleague championship in 2002 and 2003 while playing for Gherardini at Benetton. Gherardini said he has no doubt both players will have an impact in the NBA. Yesterday, Gherardini described Parker as "the best American player right now playing overseas. Now he's in his prime time." Free-agent point guard Mike James won't be signing with Toronto. The 31-year-old enjoyed a career year with the Raptors last season after coming to the team in a preseason trade. James was among the league leaders in several offensive categories, averaging 20.3 points and 5.8 assists a game and shooting 47 per cent from the field and 44 per cent from behind the three-point line.

Yesterday, James agreed to a four-year deal worth about $5-million a year with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Parker would fill some of the gap James will leave. A slasher who can play both backcourt positions, Parker, 31, has had a brilliant career in Europe after two subpar seasons in the NBA. He was selected 21st overall by the New Jersey Nets in the 1997 draft. He averaged 14.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals a game and shot 53.7 per cent from the field last season playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv. He hit the winning shot against the Raptors in an exhibition game in Toronto two years ago. This past year, he was the Euroleague's most valuable player for the second consecutive season. Parker has made it known that he wants to play in the NBA, but he doesn't have a clause in his contract with Maccabi that allows him to leave. The Raptors and Maccabi would have to work that out. The Cleveland Cavaliers were also reportedly pursuing Parker, who is expected to earn about $12-million over three years. Garbajosa, 28, who is 6 foot 9 and can play both forward positions, is in the top 15 in Euroleague scoring (14.9) and rebounding (6.6). Gherardini said he's a "reliable" three-point shooter. Garbajosa is nicknamed the Porn Player because he does everything "obscenely well" with Unica Malaga in Spain. He is expected to sign a three-year deal for about $4-million a season. "He's very strong, doesn't back down from anybody," Gherardini said. "He's going to protect our younger players for sure." The Raptors have been pursuing Garbajosa for several weeks, and his commitment to Toronto was one of the reasons why the club was willing to part with second-year forward Charlie Villanueva. On June 30, Villanueva was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks for point guard T.J. Ford.

Sutter Steps Down As Flames' Head Coach

Source: Canadian Press

(July 12, 2006) Calgary —
Darryl Sutter officially handed over the coaching reins to assistant Jim Playfair on Wednesday. "This is just a succession plan," Sutter told a news conference. "Basically the lockout stalled it by a year." The Calgary Flames GM also announced that veteran coach Wayne Fleming was hired as an assistant coach, bringing with him years of experience with the Canadian national team as well as stops with the New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers. Playfair, 42, has spent the past three seasons as a Flames assistant after two-plus seasons as head coach of the Flames' AHL affiliate in Saint John. N.B. Playfair led the AHL's Flames to the Calder Cup title in 2001. "It's a great opportunity, coaching in the National Hockey League and coaching in a Canadian city," Playfair said. "Coming through the organization you know what it is all about and you know what the identity is. It's an honour," added Playfair.

Assistant coaches Rich Preston and Rob Cookson also remain in place, as does goaltending coach David Marcoux. "And hiring Wayne Fleming was a real good experience to go through," said Playfair. "We're real lucky to have him here." Fleming was Ken Hitchcock's assistant in Philadelphia last season but decided to look for a new challenge. "It became very clear to me (during the hiring process) that this is a place I really wanted to be," said Fleming. "With the commitment that the Calgary Flames show to winning, it was a very easy choice to make." Sutter, who became coach of the Flames in 2002 and added the general manager's title in 2003, had hinted in the past that he would one day relinquish the coaching duties, citing the difficulty of doing both jobs. Playfair inherits a team that has added star winger Alex Tanguay this off-season, a much-needed boost to an offence that was 27th in the league last season. "I tell you what, I think we've got a great team and now we've got a great coach," said Sutter. Sutter, 47, led the Flames to a Stanley Cup berth in 2004, where they fell in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Calgary posted a 46-25-11 record this year — good for third in the Western Conference — but lost to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. Sutter compiled a 107-73-26 record in two-plus seasons behind the Calgary bench, joining the Flames after head coaching stints in Chicago and San Jose.


Lebron Signs Contract

Excerpt from

(July 10, 2006) *NBA star
LeBron James has finally agreed to the five-year $80 million contract extension offered by his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The all-star agreed to the deal Saturday, stating: "I am very excited and happy to be re-signing with the Cavaliers. Staying in Cleveland ... provides me with the unique opportunity to continue to play in front of my family, friends and fans. I look forward to working toward bringing a championship to our great fans and the city of Cleveland."