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


Updated:  August 10, 2006

Did you sign up yet?  No?  So simple!  Want to dial less and save more?  Then MobileMiser is for you!  I'm a recent convert and the savings are really incredible and it's FREE - even worth thinking about getting rid of the land line! JUST CHECK OUT THE SITE - you'll see what I mean!  See below for further details.

Did you know that both
Choclair and Karl Wolf will be performing at the Karnival Komedy Xplosion!?  Well, get those tickets ... see below.

Now , I know that you all love Harbourfront Centre in the summer!  Well, next  weekend is no exception with Island Soul - check out all the details below.

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




Debut and Toronto Coach Sam Mitchell Presents the Karnival Komedy Xplosion

Source: Debut Sports & Entertainment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Black Market

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Friday August 4, 8pm

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

The Mighty Sparrow

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

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

Blessed with special guest Lindo P

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Saturday August 5, 8pm

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

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

Tony Rebel

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

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

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

Brigantine Room
Saturday August 5, 11pm

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


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

St. James Town Youth Steel Orchestra
Pan Workshop

Brigantine Room
Sunday August 6, 4:30pm

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

St. James Town Youth Steel Orchestra

Ann Tindal Lawn
Sunday August 6, 3pm

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


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

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

Pan Fantasy

Ann Tindal Lawn
Sunday August 6, 5:30pm

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

Big Black Lincoln

Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
Sunday August 6, 8pm


Alicia Keys To Headline Aids Benefit: Concert In Canada

Excerpt from

(July 25, 2006)  *In August, Alicia Keys heads north of the border to headline a star-studded benefit concert in support of HIV/AIDS prevention.   The “Unbreakable” singer/songwriter, already a staunch advocate of efforts to combat AIDS in Africa, will perform Aug. 13 during opening ceremonies for the International AIDS Conference in Toronto.    The program will begin at 7 p.m. at the Rogers Centre stage and will end with a keynote address by Bill and Melinda Gates, whose charitable foundation supports a variety of HIV/AIDS programs. Former president Bill Clinton will also be on hand during the Aug. 13-18 conference, as well as Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, who is a UNAIDS special representative.   "These two events in one evening at the Rogers Centre — the opening with the concert — promise to make this a memorable evening that will bring even greater attention to the AIDS issue here in Canada and around the world," said Andrew Pringle, board president for the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR), one of the organizations hosting the concert to raise awareness and funds to fight HIV/AIDS.   In addition to the 25,000 opening ceremony and concert tickets earmarked for conference delegates, 20,000 more will be sold to the public. Proceeds will go toward several AIDS-related groups.   Other acts on the bill include actor Richard Gere, Blue Man Group and homegrown acts the Barenaked Ladies, Our Lady Peace, Amanda Marshall and Chantal Kreviazuk.

Alicia Keys, Richard Gere, Barenaked Ladies Among For AIDS Conference In Toronto

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

(Jul. 24, 2006) An appearance by movie star Richard Gere and a concert featuring R&B singer Alicia Keys, the Barenaked Ladies and others will be part of the opening ceremonies for next month's International
AIDS Conference in Toronto.  The line-up for the Aug. 13 Time to Deliver kick-off at the Rogers Centre, to be announced today, also includes visiting acts, including Zimbabwean singer Thomas Mapfumo and DJ Tiësto of the Netherlands, as well as performances by Blue Man Group and Canadian musical artists Our Lady Peace, Chantal Kreviazuk, Amanda Marshall, Massari and the Red Spirit Singers and Dancers. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who is also attending the conference, will not participate in the opening ceremonies.  The list of guests also includes actors Sandra Oh and Olympia Dukakis.  "I am so looking forward to coming to Toronto to be with like-minded warriors in the struggle against AIDS," said Keys.  "It's quite an honour to be asked to speak among such luminaries as (former) president Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, and feel the power of so many committed people coming together to yell at the top of our voices, Time to Deliver."

Keys performed at the 2004 Urban AIDS concert in Toronto. At that time, the New York singer had just returned from a trip that involved visiting children in Africa with AIDS.  "I know the numbers. I know the tragedies. I've seen it. It's changed my life completely," she said then.  In addition to the 25,000 tickets given to conference delegates, an additional 20,000 will be made available to the general public for the benefit concert.  Tickets, ranging in price from $35 to $150, are available at Ticketmaster, 416-870-8000.  The two-part program will begin at 7 p.m. with remarks by Gere, Governor General Michaëlle Jean, Toronto Mayor David Miller, UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot and Frika Chia Iskandar, an Indonesian woman living with HIV/AIDS.  It will conclude with a keynote address by Bill and Melinda Gates, followed by a performance by Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman and musicians from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  The concert is slated to begin at 9 p.m. Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund Canada, the AIDS Committee of Toronto's Community Partners Fund and the next International AIDS Conference, slated for 2008 in Mexico City.  The Toronto conference runs until Aug. 18.

ole and IB Entertainment sign Urban Co-Venture Agreement

Source:  IB Entertainment

(July 21, 2006) TORONTO: ole and
Ivan Berry, Chairman & CEO of IB Entertainment have entered into a Co-venture where the two companies will partner to acquire urban song catalogues and develop urban song writers.  This is an evolution of the role that Ivan Berry has played within ole for the past year and a half as ole’s Senior Partner International.  According to ole Managing Partner Robert Ott, “Ivan has a fantastic reputation and network of relationships in the urban music scene and beyond. We look forward to expanding our reach and presence in urban music and we couldn’t ask for a better or more respected partner in this endeavour.”   The 3 year agreement will provide IB Entertainment with the administrative and creative support of ole as well as a financial investment in the writers that are signed to the co-venture.  “This is an opportunity where the time is just perfect for me to move into our new relationship.” Ivan adds, “I’ve known Tim Laing and Robert Ott since the very beginning of ole. It’s great working with a company that wants to win and that has the size, speed and resources to make things happen. For me this is an opportunity to devote full time to artist development with the support of ole.

about IB Entertainment

Entrepreneur, artist manager, record label owner, talent development executive and publisher Ivan Berry is a model of consistency and success in the music business.    The artists under his tutelage have sold millions of records worldwide, and have collected numerous JUNO awards (Canada’s Grammy equivalent), SOCAN Awards, MuchMusic Video Awards, Canadian Urban Music Awards and certified Gold & Platinum plaques.   Berry launched BeatFactory in 1982 and over the years provided a launching ground for many of urban music’s most successful artists, executives, major label representatives and managers. BeatFactory’s RapEssentials and GroovEssentials compilations set the example for collaborative efforts in Canada’s urban music industry.   As Head of A&R and International for Sony BMG Canada from 2000-2004, Berry was responsible for the development, recording and international marketing of the label’s domestic roster, including artists such as Keshia Chanté, Wyclef, Shawn Desman, Sloan, Rascalz, Treble Charger, In Essence, The Guess Who and many more.   Throughout his career Berry has signed more Hip-Hop and R&B artists to record and publishing deals and has been responsible for more international releases and worldwide record sales for Canadian Hip-Hop and R&B artists than any other Canadian artist manager.
Berry has taught at well-respected post-secondary music institutions including Harris Institute of the Arts and Durham College, and is in high-demand as a guest speaker at various corporate/government events and industry conferences around the world.   Up until this point, Berry was Senior Partner International of Ole, a Canadian-owned full-service music publishing company based in Toronto, where he was aggressively acquiring publishing titles from across the world.  Currently, as Chairman & CEO of iB Entertainment, Berry will continue to manage and develop the careers of Keshia Chante) Sony BMG Canada / Epic USA), Rupert Gayle (BMG Publishing), Alonzo and others. He will also be focusing on the acquisition of Urban song catalogues and the development of Urban songwriters, through his new Co-Venture with ole.   This recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urban Music Association of Canada (2000) is truly an industry visionary, and lives by his favourite mantra: “To take advantage of an opportunity, you must first recognize it.”  Ivan Berry can be contacted at

about ole

ole is a multi-national, Canadian owned, full-service music publisher founded by Robert Ott (former VP/GM BMGMP Canada) and Tim Laing (former radio and TV producer and finance executive). ole boasts an experienced team of some 18 industry professionals involved in acquisitions, creative development and administration worldwide.   The ole catalogue includes over twenty thousand songs across all genres ranging from pop, to country, to urban to rhythm & blues and soul. ole has completed some $23MM USD in new acquisitions over the past year including purchases of the, Balmur, Encore, Keith Follese, Dream Warriors, Frank Myers and David Tyson catalogs.   Recent cuts include the lead-off single "Shoes" by Shania Twain from Music Inspired by Desperate Housewives, Jaheim’s ‘Daddy Thing’, Sean Paul’s “Change the Game," "He Ain’t Even Cold Yet" by Gretchen Wilson and Ronnie Milsap's "My Life."  ole has concluded worldwide publishing administration agreements with film and television producers Nelvana, The National Film Board of Canada, Shaftesbury Films, Arcadia Entertainment, Devine Entertainment, Lenz Entertainment, CCI, Breakthrough Films, Amberwood Entertainment, Slanted Wheel and Mona Lisa and Suman out of Europe.

ole also recently signed its first administration deal with Sound Of Pop, a Toronto-based music publishing company, label and management firm whose clients include Cadence Grace, London Apartments and J.C. Smith.  ole is the Canadian administrator for the prestigious Arc Music Group, a catalogue that includes songs by Jerry Butler, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and Otis Rush.   The company has signed songwriters Gerald O'Brien, John Wesley Chisholm, Ben Dunk, James Huff, Willie Mack, Scarlett and Derek Brin and struck a co-venture deal with Last Gang Publishing -- a division of Last Gang Entertainment -- bringing West Coast rockers Panurge, Murray Yates of Forty Foot Echo and Kinnie Starr to the roster as well as Steven Dall. ole recently announced another co-venture with Roots Three Music, which includes songwriters Bruce Wallace, Chris Thornsteinson, Dave Wasyliw (of Doc Walker), Denny Carr (The Road Hammers and Doc Walker).  At ole the goal is to be the home for the best songwriters, composers, management talent and intellectual property investors and the first choice music source for creators in all media. The ole website can be found at

T.S. Monk: Doing His Father Proud

Excerpt from - By DeBorah B. Pryor

(July 24, 2006) *An interview with
T. S. Monk is a journalists’ dream. No likeness to pulling teeth here. This celebrity is not afraid to speak beyond the realm of his latest project. He’s not overly cautious about stating his opinion and being an old school-type-a cat, he actually appreciates being “documented.”  “I’m a guy that likes to talk a lot. I like to sing you a song. I like to play like Art Blakey. I like to funk you like Bootsy Collins. I like to do all those kinds of things.” In fact, this son of iconic composer and pianist Thelonious Monk has but one small request: Please don’t call him “Mr. Monk.” “When people just say ‘Mr. Monk’ I think of my father because he laid down so much good karma for me. I’ve been treated so beautifully and respectfully by people all over the world simply because of who he is that I have to acquiesce: ‘That’s Mr. Monk’…Sometimes [this] takes people aback...because the cat, Thelonious, was just so together on so many levels…the good karma he left behind for me is absolutely priceless. It has followed me every single day of my life; no matter where I’ve been in the world.” Now, with his entrepreneurial eye resting on a unique collaboration with the alcohol industry via its new beer brand, “Brother Thelonious” -- his ongoing duties as the Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute and a new CD on the way, the LAST thing T. S. Monk wants to do is shut up.  “I’m NEW school, old school. You’ve got a lot of cats that cry the blues that they’re not documented; but when you want to document them they ain’t got no time. It’s sort of silly. I grew up under a generation of guys that didn’t get documented so I think it’s important for us to talk as much as we can, particularly now, when the information is moving into new mediums…if we don’t ensure that it gets there, it won’t get there, and we know the results of what that can be.” As the direct descendant and musical heir of “Mr. Monk,” TS (short for Thelonious Sphere) has been involved in all aspects of his late father’s legacy since his passing in 1982. He, along with the Monk family, and opera singer Maria Fisher established the non-profit education organization “The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz” in 1986 with a mission to “offer the world’s most promising young musicians college-level training by America’s jazz masters and present public school-based education programs for youth around the world.”

The Institute, which encourages youth to use their imagination and [to] respect cultural heritage, is located at the University of Southern California. This performance-based program plans to become a model for the world of education; offering a two-year, tuition free program that provides room, board and stipends to gifted youth. TS Monk holds the position of Chairman for the Institute, while jazz impresario Terence Blanchard serves as the program’s Artistic Director.   Now, in an unprecedented and to some, long overdue move, the alcohol industry gives back to music via “Brother Thelonious” – a beer brand that will be sold at major jazz clubs all over the world. The ale, which bears as its logo a photo of Thelonious Monk, will donate $2 from each case of beer to the Thelonious Monk Institute; an act that gives T. S. -- and no doubt many musicians -- a sense of sweet vindication. “I immediately said to myself, hmmm, a piece of the bar, how interesting,” notes TS, who, incidentally, is not a beer drinker but appreciates that the 'inside joke' between musicians and club owners is a well-known one.  “As a musician we all know that when you work in clubs, you never get a piece of the bar. The bar is a separate entity and we know one bottle of Johnny Walker Red turns into sixteen drinks at five dollars-a-pop and the club owner will sell all sixteen of those drinks and tell you that only four people came in to drink those drinks and you get part of the door…so I thought, from my convoluted historical perspective, [this is] very apropos.” He continues in all seriousness, “The relationship between the alcohol industry and jazz has always been very, very close since the very beginning. And I think that jazz has not benefited from that relationship in as much as the alcohol industry has…But overall, I think that the revenue that is billed nightly at alcohol and jazz clubs is… wonderful if some of that revenue can be redirected towards jazz education; towards the very artists that make it possible for [it] to be generated…I think my father would approve of it. I think my mom would approve of it; and I think the jazz community at large approves of it because...if I’m not mistaken, this is the very first time an African American man has been the logo of a beer. So there’s a historic component to it too.”

TS hopes that the age-appropriate hip-hop generation will take a liking to “Brother Thelonious” too! “…You know Thelonious is synonymous with cool…and we have a young generation that is continuously looking to be as cool as they possibly can. I think that’s one of the reasons many of your hip hop artists are so enamoured with the likes of Monk, Coltrane, Miles Davis…so this might fit right in there…The important thing…as much as forty-percent is going to the Monk Institute and…that’s a very, very different dynamic. I think that’s also the dynamic that will play into people giving it a chance.” In the next instalment read how T. S. Monk fought back against music piracy; his thoughts on the P. Diddy’s of the world sampling his music and the elation he felt in light of his father’s Pulitzer prize.

As a journalist the work of DeBorah B. Pryor continues to reach national and international audiences. She has interviewed some of the entertainment industry’s most prominent people and has traveled extensively throughout the world. She presides over The Art of Communication: Public speaking for private people, a 2-hour-workshop teaching self-empowerment in the workplace. She is a freelance speechwriter and copy editor. For information on the upcoming Los Angeles workshop or to schedule a private consultation, Ms. Pryor can be reached at 818.247.2812 or via email at

Ryerson Grad's Short Trip To TIFF

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 21, 2006) Making a film about teen suicide may have saved
Adam Garnet Jones's life.  At 14, the first video he produced in near-primitive conditions gave him a voice and a sense of being heard for this first time in his life.  Ten years later, the recent graduate from Ryerson University's film studies program has had his first submission to the Toronto International Film Festival chosen to debut in the Short Cuts Canada program. Only 38 films were selected among almost 600 across the country.  "I was a suicidal kid until I was 15," said Garnet Jones, who was raised by a single aboriginal father and struggled with accepting his sexual orientation.  "But ironically enough, that (teen suicide video) is what really turned everything around me in a lot of ways. I made a lot of decisions about how I wanted to live my life and what I wanted to do and one of those was making films for the reason that it was so fulfilling," he said.  "I don't know that I was saying very much when I was that old. But it was still more important than anything I had done up to that time," he added.  The 15-minute short film, Cloudbreaker, about a lonely native 10-year-old boy (played by Patrick Vautour) who studies ancient traditions in search of magic as a way to unleash his own inner power, is strongly autobiographical.  "Oh yeah, it's all about me," he said, with mock braggadocio.  "At that point in my life, I was all conflict and it was a really hard film to write. It was about me and trying to get to that place of being 10 years old and feeling really powerless. ... and why I was feeling that way," Garnet Jones said.  The magic ceremony the boy conjures, using a variety of traditions — including his own — leads to a vision where he is transformed into a wolf who is able to move the clouds.

Ben Murray, senior co-ordinator for Canadian programming for the festival, said the film stood out for presenting a strong story and well-fleshed-out characters combined with "a nice spirituality."  "We're looking for films that are strong on their own terms. Whether it's a $200,000 short produced with all kinds of grants ... or a low-fi digital piece that's been done for 100 bucks, it's really the strength of the story," Murray said.  "Even though it's especially a native story, there's something universal in this child's search for spirituality and his quest to connect to that," he added.  For his part, Garnet Jones said he's still reeling after his producer Sarah Kolasky called to give him the good news.  "It's just been really alarming. A lot of me doesn't really know what this means yet. But it's just a bigger stamp of success and acceptance than I've ever had before. So we'll see what the future holds," Garnet Jones said.  As well as pursuing other opportunities in filmmaking, he is determined to apply his skills in a social activist way.  Earlier this year, he oversaw a queer youth video project as part of the Inside Out Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival.  This summer, he is working with aboriginal youth, another disenfranchised group, in the same medium.  "Queer youth and native youth in Canada have the highest suicide rates of anyone and that's not an accident, that's not a coincidence," Garnet Jones said. "(For them), the most important thing is the feeling that you're being listened to.


Listen And Learn At Beaches Jazz

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 21, 2006) With the entertainment component well in hand, organizers of the 18th annual
Beaches International Jazz Festival have expanded the educational arm of the popular event.  The free 10-day festival, which features a primarily Canadian line-up and typically attracts 700,000 attendees, is anchored by music-laden weekends along Queen St. E. in the Beach as well as in the Distillery District (which is hosting PartiGras this weekend.  On weeknights, jazz enthusiasts can take advantage of the festival's largely free workshops that have doubled in number since first being offered in 2004.  Some of the eight seminars, such as "Get That First Gig" and "Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble," may seem more suited to performers and composers, but that's not necessarily the case, said Bill King, the festival's musical director.  "You don't have to be a musician to have a love for it, and want to sit and listen and see what they go through," said King, adding people needn't be shy about asking questions.  "At the composition workshop, you just need the ability to put ideas down. On the third day they will perform your piece; it doesn't have to be anything sophisticated.''

The success of the workshop series is tied to the availability in Toronto of experts — "the best of the best" — to run the lectures, added King.  Percussionist Rosendo "Chendy" Leon is leading the workshop "Traditional Cuban Rhythms," which will showcase congas, bongos and timbales while exploring the history of Cuban music and its forms, such as son, bolero and mambo.  Leon, 33, began playing drums at age 4. He has worked with Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran and taught at Humber College since defecting from Cuba seven years ago. "The time signature and instrumentation is different in Cuban music," he explained. "And it's very syncopated while American jazz (is defined by) its swing."  Drummer Don Vickery, who has doubled as an official photographer at the Toronto Jazz Festival since its inception, will co-lead the workshop "The Jazz Camera's Eye." Participants will get access passes to photograph musicians on stage at PartiGras and have their pictures critiqued afterwards.  "The challenge is trying to capture their energy," said Vickery, 68, a Humber College music instructor who has kept time for such jazz greats as Ralph Sutton and Jay McShann.  "If you know music it's a bit easier, because you know where they're going."  Rule No. 1 is "never use flash," said Vickery, who has shot greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. "It's really upsetting — best to work with the natural light."  A "traditionalist" who prefers to shoot on film and in black and white, Vickery said he hopes to attract "people who love jazz and are interested in shooting" to the digital workshop. The three-session photography seminar costs $40 and begins tonight at the Toronto Camera Club. You must register online on the festival website, on a first-come, first-served basis.  All the other jazz workshops are free and take place Monday to Wednesday at Kew Beach United Church from 7:30 to 9. Registrations, again, are online.

Here's a capsule of the music events on offer this year:

·  Streetfest: Thursday to Saturday 7 to 11 p.m. The Beach party gets into high gear with more than 40 combos performing at street corners and storefronts along Queen St. E., which is closed to vehicles between Woodbine and Beech Aves.

·  PartiGras: Tonight through Sunday at the Distillery District. Concurrent shows on three stages feature such artists as singers June Garber and Heather Bambrick, and bassist Roberto Occhipinti with his orchestra. It runs tonight 6-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 6.

·  Ovation of Jazz: Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Balmy Beach Club. Sample foods from Beach restaurants and swing to the sound of the Brian Rose Orchestra at a $75 gala for Toronto East General Hospital.

·  Mainstage: July 29-30, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The finale next weekend at the bandshell at Kew Gardens includes five acts on both days, and has a strong Latin jazz presence with the likes of Café Cubano, David Virelles Quintet and Hilario Duran with his Latin Jazz Big Band.

For more information, call the Jazz Hotline 416-410-8809, or visit


Canadian Musicians Find Inspiration, Creativity, Love In Paris

Source:  Canadian Press, By Cassandra Szklarski

(July 24, 2006) TORONTO (CP) - It's often called the city of light, but these days one might be tempted to call Paris the city of transplanted
Canadian musicians.  Several well-known artists now call the culturally rich capital their home, including underground favourite Feist and her producer Gonzales, crooner Sarah Slean and hip-hop masher Buck 65.  On occasion, the Paris posse swells with troubadour visitors Ron Sexsmith, Hawksley Workman and sexy electronic artist Peaches, who are said to join the resident gang whenever in town.  Rich Terfry, a.k.a. Buck 65, calls it a "weird Canadian musical Parisian takeover."  "There's an interesting little Anglo musical community here, and it's become something that they're talking about in Paris," Terfry says in a phone interview from his small Paris flat.  "I kind of feel like I'm part of something, part of some kind of movement or something."  Terfry says he leapt across the pond about six years ago, after stints in Montreal, London and New York. He felt an immediate connection to cosmopolitan Paris, long considered a haven for fringe artists and writers seeking inspiration.  "Maybe that's what people call the joie de vivre over here, how people like to just really savour life. . . . That really suited me somehow, and I thought this is a pace that I can handle and really fell in love with it right away."  The small-town boy from Mount Uniacke, N.S., has settled in Paris and plans to marry his French girlfriend, Claire.  Slean, from Toronto, says Paris's reputation as a creative hotbed was a strong draw for her.  "Art is a priority here, it has such deep roots and its value is respected, acknowledged," she says by e-mail.  "A lot of people from Australia and America are looking for a more vibrant, culturally open life - artists, designers, dancers, writers. In younger western civilisations, art is still pretty tame and one-dimensional, which can be frustrating for those doing something challenging or outside."  Eclectic chanteuse Leslie Feist, who grew up in Regina and Calgary, says she landed in Paris four years ago. Chance encounters in Canada led to her signing with a French label and deciding to record overseas.

"There was just a lot of reasons slowly surmounting to make Paris the destination," Feist said recently by cellphone while travelling to a music festival in Orillia, Ont.  "I needed to live in Europe. I had been touring there for a couple of years with Gonzales and I was finding myself coming back to Toronto less and less because the tours were just dovetailing into each other."  She says her hectic touring schedule doesn't allow her to revel in any sort of expat community, save for Gonzales, who lives a block away from her.  "You run into each other backstage at festivals in Belgium more than planning to meet for breakfast near your house," she says, adding that home has become an "elusive concept these days" after 30 months on the road promoting her album Let It Die.  When Slean first arrived in February, it was Terfry who welcomed her with an unorthodox tour.  "He is a fine ambassador to Weird Paris," she says. "When I first arrived he took me to a taxidermy shop."  "When Hawksley or Ron (Sexsmith) are in town, good times are had," she adds.  Besides inspiring his creativity and his love life, Terfry says Paris has been phenomenal for his career and that of his Canadian pals.  "People have taken a real strong interest in what we're doing, arguably stronger then we've ever had at home, and that's probably the other half of the big reason why we're here," he says.  "The success of my touring and the amount of people that come out to see me when I tour here in France as compared to Canada, there's no comparison. It's, like, humongous over here in France."  His biggest show in Canada numbered a little over a thousand people, he says, while in Paris he can command a room of several thousand.  Terfry says his first big European concert two years ago was an eye-opener.

"I remember that day walking into the club and thinking 'well, this has got to be some kind of a mistake, whose idea was it to book me in such a huge place, this is going to be a disaster.' And then showtime, curtain came up and sure enough, the place was packed, I couldn't believe it."  Terfry credits the Internet with building a fan base that stretches far and wide.  "I've seen that many times now going into countries where I've never even had a record released and have a lot of people show up for a show, and the only explanation I have for that ... is the Internet."  Feist agrees that technology has made it easier for today's artists to be bi-continental.  "It's definitely kinda easier to stretch your imagination, (and to have a) living situation that isn't based in one place," she says. "Like this summer, I'm crossing the Atlantic about six times to go back and forth, finish my new album in Europe and to play the festivals over here. That, I suppose five years ago, would have been hard for me to imagine."  Slean, who is set to release live material in the fall recorded with the Blue Spruce String Quartet, says she expects to return to Toronto in September once her lease comes up, but adds that many things will continue to lure her back to Paris.  "Serendipity is an unrivalled force here," she says. "The beauty and meaningful magic of accidents is astonishing."


World Music In Mission? Possible

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Tony Montague

(July 21, 2006) World music is huge in Europe, but in B.C. this "umbrella" genre -- which covers everything from Mongolian herding calls to Mexican reggae -- remains marginalized. It's deemed too strange or exotic, and of little commercial appeal. Even such superstars as Salif Keita or Youssou N'Dour are rarely heard on the airwaves or in record stores. But thanks to people like
Francis Xavier, things are changing. As artistic director of the Mission Folk Music Festival, Xavier has brought several of the leading names in world music to this province for the first time. Three years ago, he scored a major coup by signing Mariza, the new diva of Portuguese fado, to perform at Fraser River Heritage Park (a one-hour drive east of Vancouver). This year, he has put together the strongest world-music line-up in the region since Seattle's WOMAD USA kicked the bucket in 2001. "I've an eye and an ear for the music, and a passion that has developed over the years," says Xavier, who has called Mission home since the early eighties. "It comes a lot from my travels. I was away for 10 years, living in Germany, Greece and the Basque country of Spain -- and travelling in Scandinavia, Italy and Turkey. I met so many artists from Africa and Asia over there as well. Europe is such a crossroads, and being there for a long time broke down all my North American walls."

The big scoop this year is the B.C. debut of Sierra Maestra, one of the greatest Cuban son bands. If you love the Buena Vista Social Club, you won't want to miss these younger veterans -- especially as they're on the same bill as Kékélé, a Congolese sextet fronted by four of the top vocalists from Kinshasa's golden years of rumba. It will be fascinating to hear the rhythmic crosscurrents flowing between Africa and the Caribbean. Also on tomorrow's program are Armenian singer Mariam Matossian, Hawaiian slack-key guitar and traditional dance group Hapa, and Gjallarhorn, a young Finnish band that performs an innovative blend of ancient songs and contemporary trance music. Scandinavia is well represented at the festival's 18th edition. In addition to Gjallarhorn, Xavier is introducing two top-notch Nordic acts: Frigg, a fiddle-based band that draws on Finnish and Norwegian folk traditions, and the trio of Ampron Prunni with Arto Jarvela. One of the pivotal figures of Finnish music, Jarvela plays a keyed-fiddle known as a nyckelharpa -- a magnificent instrument with sympathetic strings that sounds like the happy offspring of a viola and a hurdy-gurdy.

"Canadian fiddle players who've never heard a nyckelharpa are in for a treat," Xavier promises. "It's obviously a relative of the violin -- an ancestor, but with a very distinctive resonance. I want people to make the kind of discoveries that can open up other cultures for them, and make them think about their own.  "One of my favourite sayings is, 'If you gaze into a mirror, it can always remind you of what you look like, but when you hear a song or piece of music -- no matter where it's from -- it can remind you of who you are.' " The Mission Folk Music Festival starts today at 7 p.m. and continues through Sunday. Tickets are $38 per day, $65 for a weekend pass. Fraser River Heritage Park, Mission, B.C., 604-257-0366,


It's The 'Tude, Dude

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Andrew Ryan

(July 21, 2006) PASADENA, CALIF. — Rock 'n' roll is still a vicious game, except for the wide-eyed hopefuls who luck onto the
Rock Star: Supernova fast track. The reality series has condensed the usual years of struggle and dues-paying into loud TV sound bites for convenient viewer consumption. Rock Star is not about the music, it's about rock attitude, and turning total unknowns into TV stars. And the Rock Star machine is even slicker when viewed up close. Sometimes you have to discover these things for yourself. CBS squired a handful of TV critics to the Rock Star taping last Sunday afternoon. The taping was for the show airing this evening, a performance episode in which all 12 finalists were closely scrutinized by the members of Supernova -- a "supergroup" consisting of heavy-metal icons Tommy Lee, Jason Newstead and Gilby Clarke -- who happen to be seeking a lead singer. Rock Star: Supernova is the sequel to last summer's semi-hit Rock Star: INXS, which found a singer for the 1980s Australian group. What was once was pop is now metal. Rock Star is taped at the CBS studios in Hollywood. Tickets are free, and the network can't keep up with requests. There's no confusing the Rock Star followers with those lined up for The Price is Right, which tapes around the corner. The Rock Star fans are younger and most are dressed rock-star chic: jeans and T-shirts on the males; miniskirt, heels and tank tops on the ladies. Some rock traditions remain absolute.

The freezing-cold set is made up to resemble the Mayan Theatre, a legendary Los Angeles rock venue, and the studio audience was already seated when critics arrived. Except for the hundred or so people on the floor surrounding the performance stage, who were receiving instructions from the warm-up host: "The people around the stage should have the most energy of anyone," he told the crowd. "Put your hands on your heads or whatever; it looks good on TV." The pep talk worked and the audience roared when host Dave Navarro was introduced. They went wilder yet for the arrival of Supernova. Last out was co-host Brooke Burns, who launched right into the show with a clip, taped days earlier, of contestants squabbling over the song selection. Two females fighting over Helter Skelter. Bad blood is thereby established. And the victor went first. The stringy-haired contestant Patrice took the stage to sing Helter Skelter, delivering the song in short screeching bursts. The camera cut repeatedly to the other female singer, the one who lost the fight. She looked angry. Navarro told Patrice: "Baby, you sounded killer!" Navarro subsequently referred to the female Rock Star contestants as "sweetheart," "sweetie" and, on a few occasions, "man." The next singer was an unsure young fellow named Josh, who nonetheless executed a near-letter perfect impression of the late Kurt Cobain on Nirvana's Come As You Are. The judges seemed nonplussed. "Don't forget these guys [Supernova] are going to be playing Wembley Stadium, not a coffee house," Navarro said. Lee chimed in: "I want to see you break shit!"

Rock-star attitude is an obvious asset on Rock Star. The third contestant was a tawny bottle blonde named Storm who struck and held a defiant rock-chick pose throughout her version of The Cars' Just What I Needed. The performance was shambling and off-key, but the judges perked up. Lee suggested Storm show more skin; Storm suggested Lee look her up on the Internet. During a short break, Rock Star staffers kept the energy level pumped by throwing T-shirts to the audience; the contestants danced, stretched and preened in the contestant box, where they sat for the entire 90-minute taping. The members of Supernova ran outside to smoke cigarettes. Upon return, the taping resumed with a performance by Toronto-born Lukas Rossi, a slight young man dressed in an all-black Edwardian-style suit replete with wide white tie. Lukas wore ample eyeliner and his spiky hair boasted a skunk-like white streak. Dude certainly looks like a rock star. The Canadian entrant performed a heavy-metal take on the Rolling Stones' Let's Spend the Night Together, and ran around the stage like a young Mick Jagger throughout the song. It was the most electrified performance of the show, and the Rock Star panel knew it. Navarro told Lukas he was arrogant, which was intended as a compliment. Lee said: "You're raising the bar, and I'm raising the bar stool!" Navarro added a proviso: "Dude, no matter what happens, at the end of this show, you're getting laid." The second Canadian contestant, Vancouver native Jenny Galt, came out near the end of the program. A tall blonde, she stood directly in the Rock Star spotlight with, an enormous acoustic guitar strapped around her thin frame, and sang the soulful ballad Drive by the group Incubus. It was a credible performance, but Navarro spent most of the appraisal time praising her knee-high white boots.

The closing act was the weird and very popular Dilana, a 34-year-old woman from Houston by way of South Africa. She, too, has the look. Visually, Dilana is a mix of Stevie Nicks and Axl Rose; vocally, she's a Marianne Faithfull impersonator. Dilana sang a revved-up version of Zombie, a former hit for the Cranberries. The audience went berserk; the judges were wowed. Each judge told Dilana she made the song her own, compared with the original vocal by Irish singer Dolores O'Riordan. Filing out of the soundstage, the non-paying crowd looked exactly like any group of people leaving a rock concert: happy, sweaty and a little drained. Those people went home, but the TV critics' field trip included a bus ride to the Rock Star mansion for a post-show party and a taste of that decadent rock lifestyle. Good rockin' tonight. The show's rules dictate that contestants must reside in the mansion for the 13-week duration. There's more room each week as the singers are knocked off one by one and sent home. The mansion is hidden in a remote location, somewhere up a hillside in West Hollywood, and the ride there took forever. On the way, we discussed the show among ourselves and there was near-unanimous agreement that the final two would be the strange Dilana and the Canadian kid, Lukas. Even the American critics were knocked out by him. The mansion was, as expected, L.A. huge. I'm not sure where contestants slept, but the place just went on and on. The location doubles as a recording studio, and there was a swimming pool and a performance stage in the living room -- standard rock-star accoutrements. The party seemed to be sponsored by a vodka company, and there were cocktails with tiny glowing light sticks in them. The Rock Star hopefuls wandered in and I immediately sought out the Canadians, as anyone might do in a foreign country. I chatted to both, and they are entirely different rock-and-roll animals.

Jenny has sung in Vancouver rock bands for years, although she was working as a waitress when the call came from Rock Star. She was still shaky from the taping, but very polite and terribly sweet. And she was devastated. She seemed convinced that she had bombed, even though Navarro liked her boots. "I'm pretty sure I'm going to be in the bottom three," she said, referring to the weekly ejection show, which airs tomorrow night. "I've just got to turn it around and hope for the best. And I should probably lose the guitar; they already know I can play guitar, right?" The other Canadian, however, was a little more confident. Lukas kept on the eyeliner, smoked cigarettes and displayed a rock-star attitude far beyond his years. "This is all bells and whistles, baby," he said, gesturing somewhere in the direction of the swimming pool. "All the grandeur of this doesn't really make sense to me. I'd be just as happy in a sleeping bag, living on the street, just as long as I can wake up and get on-stage in front of people, who really appreciate what I'm doing. . . . It's rock and roll, that's the bottom line, baby." We may have a winner.


Voice Mail Mines Gold In Japan

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(July 20, 2006) *Jamaica’s hottest male vocal group
Voice Mail has mined gold in Japan with shipments of over 100,000 copies of its debut album Hey.  The album which features production work from a plethora of Jamaica’s top music producers including Robert Livingston, Christopher Birch, and Donovan Bennett, has been visible on the major music charts in Japan over the past few months. The success of the album comes as good news for the group, which has been making strides within the past two years with a handful of dance oriented hits on the Jamaican and international reggae charts. ‘We are happy the way things have been moving and we are just thankful for the support from our fans, the media and our friends’, group member O’Neil said. Voice Mail will see the US and international release of the album Hey on July 18, via VP Records. After taking the stage at Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest, Voice Mail will head to the US for a week to kick off the promotional machine for the album.

Additionally, Voice Mail’s gold certification comes on the heels of the group’s signing with mobile provider bmobile. The group has been working with the mobile brand for a while, and recently sealed the deal officially to promote the brand via billboards, print and radio advertisements.  ‘Voicemail and bmobile have worked very closely together over the last year.
Their commitment, support, drive and positive energy is amazing and that alone made it very clear that we wanted them to be a part of the bmobile family of entertainers. As you know Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Wayne Marshall have been bmobile entertainers for almost three years and Voice Mail is a welcome addition’, commented bmobile’s marketing guru, Tara Playfair-Scott.  Voice Mail member O’Neil commented ‘We are excited about working with bmobile.  This is long overdue. Words cannot express the way we feel right now’.  He added ‘We Voice Mail represents as vocalists and there is also the voice mail which is a telephone feature. So I guess the collaboration with bmobile was inevitable’.   Apart from their upcoming performances at Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest and bmobile Reggae Sunsplash, Voice Mail is also booked for the ATI weekend in Negril.  There are also forthcoming performance dates in Bermuda, Canada and the US over the next few weeks. 

About Voice Mail

Known for a string of hits including Wacky Dip, Weh Di Time, Do What You Feel Like and the recent chart topper Get Crazy, Voice Mail emerged on the scene some five years ago. The group currently consists of Craig Jackson, Kevin Blair and O’Neil Edwards. They began as a quintet, but after losing two of the original members they were able to regroup and consolidate their efforts into the collective unit known as Voicemail. They bring their vanguard fashion sense, energetic dance performances; R&B/Hip-Hop infused melodies and chemistry to the stage and forefront of Jamaican pop culture.


WEMF - A Different Spin

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Alexandra Shimo

(July 22, 2006) There are some momentous concerts that signal a sea change. The July night in 1965 when Bob Dylan went electric is one example. Paul Simon's 1987 African concert, which introduced world music to the masses was another. And this weekend's
World Electronic Music Festival, while not in the same league, is also one for the history books, at least for those in the electronic music scene. On the surface, the festival appears to be a resounding success. Thousands of teenagers have travelled from across Canada and the United States to attend the three-day event. Clifford Price, a.k.a. Goldie (who is probably better known for his minor role in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough than his prodigious turntabling skills), has flown in from London to cut some tracks, as has drum & bass legend Groove Rider. Canadian music maestros also have a sizable presence: Cajjmere Wray, Freaky Flow and Jelo are all scheduled to scratch up a storm this weekend. But even while approximately 6,000 fans pack the festival campsite in Tweed, Ont., about 90 minutes east of Toronto, the event is not what it was in its glory years. At its zenith around 1999-2000, it drew between 12,000 and 15,000 fans from France, Germany, Japan, China and Latin America. Electronic giants such as Plastikman, Paul Oakenfold and the Beastie Boys' Mix Master Mike wowed the sweaty masses and the World Electronic Music Festival deserved its worldly title.

This year, the biggest names headlining the event are not even electronic music artists. Bands such as Broken Social Scene, Mobile and controller.controller have all signed on, and these rockers are about as large a departure from the electronic genre as heavy metal is from pop. "We brought in indie rock bands to make the festival more relevant in today's music culture," says Ryan Kruger, president of Destiny Event Productions, which organizes the festival. "Our numbers have fallen since they peaked at the start of the decade, and we were just breaking even. The iPod generation doesn't just listen to one type of music any more. If you listen to a kid's iPod, there is dance, rock, disco, a bit of everything. The electronic dance scene is not the size that it once was." Part of the decline is symptomatic of the falling popularity of electronic music in general, says Alan Cross, an author and host of the radio show The Ongoing History of New Music, which is syndicated across Canada. A genre that has influenced artists as diverse as U2, The Killers, Radiohead, Rihanna, Madonna and Missy Elliott, is finding it harder to draw large numbers. "The electronic music scene really peaked in 1999-2000," Cross says. "A lot of the people who were into it then have grown up and moved on."

Denise Benson, 38, who has been DJing since 1987, and spun at some of the first raves in Canada, points to another explanation. "The cops started cracking down on it in the late nineties," says Benson.  "There was a lot of negative media attention on the ecstasy use and illegal warehouses where the parties were held. These all contributed to the implosion of the rave scene." Electronic music also took another hit with the rise of downloading programs like Napster, Cross says. These technological developments allowed consumers to program music to their specific tastes, and genres of music fragmented into niche subgenres, he says. Electronic music wasn't defined by just house, techno and dance, but jungle, drum & bass, trance, ambient, happy hard-core (hard-core techno) and gabba (aggressive, fast techno).  With the multiplication of genres, electronic bands found it harder to get the same sort of penetration among music fans. Even when they hit the big time, they didn't get the same numbers, nor become as much of a cultural phenomenon, as when the Prodigy captured the world stage in the mid-nineties. "When I was in school in Grade 10, there were 30 people in my class," says Cross. "Three were country fans, five were pop music fans, and the other 22 were Kiss fans. You don't see that kind of consensus any more. In the age of downloading and Napster, the idea of the giant hit has eroded simply because everyone is free to program something to their individual tastes. Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, so it becomes more difficult for bands to please everyone. The scenes are smaller, as people become more selective about which scenes they choose to join. That's something that's endemic to all forms of music."

Those shrinking numbers mean even the most talented DJs on the Canadian scene, such as Cajjmere Wray, who regularly wins national DJ competitions, are finding it harder to support themselves. "It's a lot harder to make a living as an electronic DJ than it once was," Wray says. "There is just so much competition out there. Everyone wants to be a DJ, and they've all got their different styles. It's not like when the Prodigy were top-of-the-charts. There just isn't any hardcore electronic group that is able to do what they did any more." For their part, the festival's promoters are putting a positive spin on the change. They describe the new line-up as an exciting experiment and a new beginning, rather than the end of an era.  "We focused on electronic music for the past 11 years and we are the longest-running electronic music festival in North America," organizer Kruger says.  "But we have to grow to maintain relevance, and that meant introducing rock. It is a departure for us, but in the age of iPods and downloads, you can't just devote yourself to one genre of music."

The World Electronic Music Festival runs until tomorrow in Tweed, Ont. For more information, call 416-631-8821 or visit


Peace, Love And Dr. Scholl's

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 25, 2006) Bethel, N.Y.—Grey hair and polo shirts have replaced bare feet and tie-dye at the site of the seminal rock concert of the 1960s, but the rain hasn't gone away.  Gloomy skies and torrential downpours marred the inaugural jazz festival at the
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts — newly erected on the grounds of the 1969 Woodstock Festival — but there was none of the mud dancing or skinny dipping of yore.  The upscale crowd that turned out for the two-day jazz event this past weekend, mostly middle-aged couples and young families, stayed dry in the 4,800-seat main stage pavilion on a plateau above the original festival location. Those with tickets for the lawn, which can accommodate 12,000, sought shelter under cedar-roofed huts that dot the landscape.  The 700-hectare property incorporates the dairy farm where acts such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Janis Joplin performed for more than 400,000 flower children on that historic rainy weekend 37 years ago.  And as with Woodstock, Saturday's deluge didn't affect enjoyment of the day-into-night concert, which featured jazz deans such as Jimmy Heath and George Benson. Sunday gave way to brilliant sun and standout performances by Dianne Reeves and Wynton Marsalis.  Although the turnout was well below capacity at this, the fourth event since the $70 million centre opened July 1, organizers were pleased with attendance; they aim to use the site's legacy to kick-start growth in economically depressed Sullivan County.

"I don't know how anyone could possibly make money in this business, but we don't want to," said local philanthropist-entrepreneur Alan Gerry, whose non-profit Gerry Foundation funded the complex.  "From the late '50s through '60s this was a successful resort town," explained the affable 76-year-old former cable TV magnate, attributing the area's decline to the departure of New York City dwellers who retired to Florida or chose newly affordable Caribbean vacations over the Catskill Mountains.  He says Bethel Woods — a two-hour drive from lower Manhattan — is the "key to reintroduce the county to the world."  The centre has a May-to-September outdoor concert schedule of classical, pop, rock, country and jazz acts, with a Woodstock-themed museum slated to open next year. Future plans include a conference centre, health spa and inn, said Gerry.  The artfully landscaped grounds blend into the surrounding meadows and woods with ponds and streams, winding stone walkways, and washrooms and concession stands built of cedar and sandstone. It's an acoustic marvel with the sounds of the main stage penetrating its furthest corners. The original Woodstock staging area is noted by various markers.  "This is a magical place," said Annelise Gerry, 52, the developer's youngest daughter. As a 15-year-old living 15 minutes away, she sneaked off to the Woodstock festival without her parents' permission and returned three days later.  The centre has already hosted sold-out concerts by the New York Philharmonic and the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh (who ventured down to the 1969 stage site to take pictures). The August line-up includes the Boston Pops, the Counting Crows and Woodstock vets Crosby, Still, Nash & Young. Although CSNY's show is tied to the Aug. 15-17 Woodstock anniversary, it can't get too wild, since local regulations limit capacity to 30,000 and state legislation bans smoking in public spaces.

The pastoral setting of Bethel Woods will come to define its jazz festival, said event producer John Schreiber, an award-winning New York producer of Broadway shows, TV specials and White House events.  "This place is as much a destination as the artists, versus these amphitheatres that get thrown up in the middle of nowhere and are excuses to pack 30,000 people in to see a rock 'n' roll attraction," he said.  The festival's stellar line-up was curated by Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Reeves. "She understands the older players and she's hip to the new younger players. What we tried to do was program a mix of genres and generations, with the only consistency being wonderful musicians," he added.  Reeves, who performed her own set and then returned for a sexy, show-stopping duet of "Embraceable You" with Marsalis, said her aim was a line-up that celebrated the diversity of jazz. "We wanted for the first one to have a really broad taste in the music for people who would come for George Benson, but maybe wouldn't ordinarily see the Jimmy Heath Quartet," explained the singer.  "Sometimes people just want to be surprised and they just come without knowing who will be playing and that's the thing that I love about it.  "Next time, what I'd like to do in this venue that's in such a natural beautiful setting, and given the historical Woodstock part to it, is have jazz musicians from all over the world and blur the lines between classical jazz and world music."


Dusk Does It His Way

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

(July 26, 2006)
Matt Dusk still remembers the day he went in to audition for the music program at York University in Toronto. "I was listening to Sinatra and Tony Bennett and Harry Connick. Those are my biggest influences, for sure," he says. So, like any aspiring crooner, he wanted to show the York faculty how well he knew the masters. "I basically sang these two Sinatra songs verbatim, with every 'koo-koo' and all of that," he says. "I was snapping my fingers on one and three, and doing all the wrong things." He laughs. "I look back now, and -- how embarrassing! To walk into a bunch of educated people, and sing that to them? "But the teacher said, 'We think you've got a great voice. You can't sing jazz' --You can't sing jazz worth shit, was the exact quotation -- 'but we're going to teach you to be a singer.' " True to their word, his teachers did just that, and four years later Dusk has a gold record under his belt (for the 2004 release Two Shots), and is touring behind his fourth album, Back in Town. True, there's still a touch of Frank Sinatra about him, from his suit-and-tie wardrobe to the ease with which his satiny baritone switches from punchy swing phrasing to limpid balladry. But at 27, Dusk is clearly his own man, and much rather do it his way.

Not that it's easy for a young crooner to find his own path in this day and age. When Sinatra and Bennett were coming up, it was easy to find work as a big band singer, and to hear the music develop as something fresh and new. But as Dusk admits, for anyone his age, "your only reference is through recordings." Dusk, however, is blessed with the training and skill to manoeuvre past such obstacles. As a child, he attended St. Michael's Choir School in Toronto, and learned to read music at an early age. "I started when I was seven years old," he says. "I was an alto. And it's funny for me, because I thought everyone read music. And then I started learning that not only do most singers not read, most musicians outside of the jazz genre have no idea what a chord is." Later, as an undergraduate, he was warned off trying to learn tunes from recordings. "I was taught was that you have to learn the melody and the lyric the exact way that the authors wrote it," he says. "Most recordings are actually interpretations." For Back in Town, Dusk took that start-with-the-basics approach a step further. Where other contemporary big band singers like to dust off the classic Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Quincy Jones arrangements used by Sinatra, Dusk wanted to go for a sound that would be completely his. "I didn't want anybody to say, 'What have we got here? On the Street Where You Live? Yeah, I know that arrangement -- Count Basie with Joe Williams,' " he says. "That's why I said, 'We're going to go out and get all original arrangements.' " Not only were they new, but they were by some of the best in the business, including Sammy Nestico, who wrote and arranged for the Count Basie Orchestra. Although understandably proud of the fresh take those arrangements provide on such chestnuts as Get Me to the Church on Time and The Best Is Yet to Come, Dusk nonetheless insists that when singing jazz, the horn charts, harmony, groove and even the melody itself take a backseat to the words. "For me, jazz music has always been about the lyric," he says. "I learned that through going to university. My teacher was Bob Fenton, and he always said to me, 'It's not about the melody, it's about the lyric. When you sing a song, you're telling a story. If you can make it pretty with a vocal sound, well, good for you. But concentrate on the conversation.'

"That's one of my pet peeves with most jazz musicians," he adds. "I don't agree with most instrumentalists about the way they solo, because I've always been about the lyric. And if you look at some of the best, from Chet Baker to Dexter Gordon to Louis Armstrong, when I hear them play their solos, they're playing the way I'd sing it. "But if you were to ask most instrumentalists today to quote the lyric, they would have no idea of what they're playing." Matt Dusk performs tonight at the Mod Club in Toronto, doors opening at 8 (416-588-4663).


Fast-Growing South Asian Festival Moves To Exhibition Place

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Prithi Yelaja, Staff Reporter

(Jul. 26, 2006) For a South Asian event dreamed up in a Mississauga basement, landing a major corporate sponsor and moving to a bigger venue are signs of having arrived on the summer festival scene.  The sixth edition of
Masala! Mehndi! Masti! launches today and runs through Sunday, rocking Bandshell Park at Exhibition Place with artists performing everything from bhangra to Bollywood hip hop to classical Indian kathikali and guzhals.  What's new, besides the more spacious venue, is that Rogers Communications has added its name to the event as major sponsor, a coup for an ethnic festival. Admission remains free.  (All Hindi words, masala is an Indian mixture of many spices; mehndi is body art created with henna and masti means "fun.")  Headlining the event is a British band that's hit it big in Bollywood.  Fusing their South Asian heritage with a western sensibility, Trickbaby's sound defies categorization, says lead singer and songwriter Saira Hussain, who grew up in northern England.  The five-member band's "khichdi" (mixture) of pop, reggae and R&B uses guitar, bass, harmonium, tabla and drums to create what critics have dubbed an "East/West soundclash."  "There are moments when it sounds more Eastern than Western and vice versa. It's not a brown thing or a white thing. It's a music thing," says the 30-something Hussain. "We're not sitting around with cultural chips on our shoulders. We've embraced both cultures and are very positive about having a foot in either camp."

They'll make their Canadian debut Friday night as part of BRITinvASIAN at Masala! Mehndi! Masti!, billed as the largest South Asian festival outside South Asia.  The festival used to be held at Harbourfront. But with crowds swelling to 100,000 last year, some from as far as California, the U.K., France and New York, it had outgrown that location, says organizer Abhishek Mathur, who runs M!M!M! each year with a core group of 23 volunteers, including wife Jyoti Rana.  "What tipped the scales in favour of moving was last year on the busiest night, I heard several people on their cellphones telling their friends, `Don't bother coming down. It's packed, there's no parking and a 45-minute line-up for food.' The sheer numbers of people would have turned it into a negative experience and obviously we didn't want that."  Despite quadrupling costs with the move to Exhibition Place, where the workers are unionized, Mathur didn't want to charge an entry fee. He felt it would deter visitors, particularly people outside the South Asian community who might otherwise drop in out of curiosity.  "In terms of the evolution of our culture, we're still at the level where we're reaching out to the mainstream," he says. "The festival is a springboard for that, but we're still not there yet."  In what Mathur sees as an act of divine intervention — "There's someone up there watching over us" — Rogers approached him offering to be title sponsor. TD Canada Trust and State Farm also signed on as sponsors.  "If you add up their financial support, it works out exactly to our production costs, so we break even," says Mathur. "We're thrilled these mainstream brands recognize the economic strength of the South Asian community is of great value to Canada."  Masala! Mehndi! Masti! also gets grants from Heritage Canada. And the British Council, a U.K. arts agency, has helped send popular British artists of South Asian descent to the festival, including Trickbaby.

The group had mainly been playing the U.K. club circuit until their performance at the MTV awards in India in 2004, which caught the ear of Bollywood director Rohan Sippy.  He asked them to write songs evoking the gritty urban feel of Mumbai for the soundtrack of his 2005 blockbuster movie Bluffmaster, which rocketed the group to fame with desi fans all over the world, including in Toronto. They've since toured Europe and the United States.  Other artists appearing at the festival include New Zealand-based comic Tarun Mohanbhai, one half of the stand-up duo Those Indian Guys.  Closing the festival Sunday night with the "bhangra blast" will be Josh, a Montreal-based Indi-pop group that sings in Punjabi and has toured with Nelly Furtado.  In between, the festival is packed with activities. There are visual arts exhibits, including one on the sari, as well as yoga and Indian dance workshops, and Indian food stalls.  The Chillin' in Your Brown Skin seminars are back, with a tented chai lounge set up for discussions on issues ranging from sexuality to abuse.  Mathur says he's already heard complaints that Exhibition Place isn't as convenient or beautiful as Harbourfront.  But, "it's not that far down the road. With the openness of the space, the greenery and the heritage buildings, it is a very pretty setting," he says.  "It's going to be awesome. In the last 72 hours, we've slept maybe five hours. We're on the verge of collapsing. Till the festival is over, we're running on adrenalin."  For a full listing of events visit:


Cohl Famously Anonymous

Source:  Canadian Press, By Cassandra Szklarski

(July 24, 2006) He started out as an 18-year-old strip club owner and today commands the biggest grossing rock tours in music history.  
Michael Cohl may very well be "the most famous man you've never heard of," we're told in a TV documentary on the unassuming Toronto promoter.  From the Rolling Stones to Pink Floyd to U2 and Barbra Streisand, Cohl has managed concerts for the biggest and the best, but little is known about the private, shaggy-haired mogul who pushed the concert experience — and ticket prices — to new levels.  Cohl, however, claims he's simply another music fan.  "I was just a kid who would sit at home and listen to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd," he says recently from Milan, while on tour with the Stones.  "To get to know these people and to get to work with them and to do my bit ... it's like, wow."  The story of his remarkable career is outlined in a CBC-TV Life & Times feature, airing tonight at 8.  Through interviews with music legends Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and an appearance by U2 singer Bono, we're given a glimpse of a man who made his mark around the world, yet largely managed to escape celebrity at home.

"He truly is a mogul," says director Barry Avrich, who has documented the lives of Vanity Fair columnist Dominick Dunne, criminal defence lawyer Eddie Greenspan and Hollywood studio giant Lew Wasserman.  "It's important for Canadians to know that there are people like Michael Cohl, legends and heroes that have done so much and that are rarely celebrated," Avrich says.  "If you say to any American: `Did you know that the man who controls the rock 'n' roll industry, the man who controls the Rolling Stones, the man who the Rolling Stones don't make a move without ... operates out of Canada?' (That's) quite staggering."  Cohl denies suggestions he's a pioneer, saying his business strategy is simple.  "I add to the fire, I add to other people's ideas and at the same time I'm able to execute and get them what they want and need."


Rolling Stones Confirm New Concerts In Halifax, Regina, Vcr

Source:  Canadian Press

(July 26, 2006) HALIFAX (CP) -
The Rolling Stones have added a few Canadian dates to their A Bigger Bang tour.  The legendary rock group confirmed on their website Tuesday they will play Halifax on Sept. 23, Regina on Oct. 8 and Vancouver on Nov. 3.  "We're going to play many cities we didn't get to before and also return to some of our favourite places," lead singer Mick Jagger said in a statement.  "We'll have a variety of material ready so we can keep it fresh."  Other added shows include New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas.  According to the website, tickets for the Halifax and Regina shows are set to go on sale July 31 (a pre-sale for select groups starts Wednesday). A date for Vancouver ticket sales wasn't immediately available.  Jagger also provided a status report on bandmate Keith Richards, who suffered a head injury in April after falling from a tree while vacationing in Fiji.  Richards needed surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. The accident forced a nine-week hiatus of the tour.  "Keith's fine, his head's better, he's playing well and enjoying himself so we're all looking forward to this leg of the tour."  Added Richards: "I'm really happy that we got some more gigs in America and Canada."  "I'm feeling great and can't wait to get there."  Michael Cohl, the Toronto entertainment magnate who is promoting the tour, said that ticket prices would be lowered for the upcoming gigs.

"The return to North America is a celebration of the fact that the most enduring rock 'n' roll band of all time is feeling and sounding better than ever before and are ready to rock," he said.  "To give more fans an opportunity to see the band we're lowering the ticket prices on average 10 to 15 per cent and taking an additional (amount) off tickets for students."  The Bigger Bang tour began last August. The band has already played before 4.5 million fans since it began.  The Halifax concert will be held at the Halifax Commons, a large park in the middle of the city. The Regina show will be held at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field while the Vancouver date will be mounted at BC Place Stadium.  The band played to tens of thousands of fans last summer in Moncton, N.B.  The Rolling Stones aren't the only aging rockers who will soon make their way across Canada. Earlier this month the Who announced 17 North American tour dates this fall, including Ottawa, London, Ont., Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto.  -  On the web:



Canadian Musicians Record AIDS Single

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(Jul. 21, 2006) Canadian musicians have recorded a benefit single to generate awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. 
Song for Africa features artists including Ian D'Sa of Billy Talent, Ian Thornley of Big Wreck, Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, Kyle Riabko, Titcomb and Damhnait Doyle.  It was released to radio earlier this week.  "With over 6,500 preventable deaths happening daily due to AIDS in Africa, and an entire generation of children being orphaned, it is time we shed some light on the matter," says Winnipeg music producer Darcy Ataman, who co-wrote the song with Rob Wells, Luke McMaster and Simon Wilcox.  Proceeds from the project will go towards helping Free the Children support a mobile health unit in Kenya.  A music video for the song will be played at the Aug. 13 opening ceremonies of the AIDS 2006 World Conference in Toronto.

Pharell Williams Reaches Back

Excerpt from

(July 21, 2006) *The artist/writer/super producer
Pharell Williams is going back to the community and bringing gifts. The Star Trak executive is in talks to build a computer resource center in his hometown, Virginia Beach, VA. The economic development director for Virginia Beach, Don Maxwell, told The Virginian Pilot that the demographics, cost, and size of the project are still being figured out.  But, Virginia Beach’s City Council may get to review the deal as early as next month. In addition, Williams is also negotiating with Apple and Microsoft to support the center and will utilize a local architect to design the building.  "One of these kids could be the next chemist for Pfizer," Williams said referring to the health care giant Pfizer Inc.  HP has started a campaign entitled the “Computer is Personal Again” and Williams has agreed to appear in the new spot.  The campaign debuted with rapper/mogul/Def Jam president Jay-Z and has featured Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, U.S. Olympic, snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White and television executive Mark Burnett (The Apprentice, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, On the Lot). All three spots will be available online prior to hitting major television networks. We can also prepare for Williams highly anticipated solo release “In My Mind” to drop July 25.

Usher Ushering In Ticket Sales

Excerpt from

(July 20, 2006) *With little surprise from show producers, the box office for Broadway’s “Chicago” has boosted thanks to the impending debut of R&B/pop star
Usher. The New York Post reported that ticket sales for the production spiked as soon as it was announced that the singer would take on the role of lawyer Billy Flynn in the Tony award-winning musical. Ticket sales have risen 30% with the box office reportedly taking in as much as $100,000 a day. "We weren't doing anything at all for the period he's going into the show,” said “Chicago” producer Barry Weissler, “but that shot up immediately. . . . It's not gigantic yet, but I'm pleasantly encouraged." Usher's run on Broadway begins August 22 and is scheduled to end Oct. 1. However the New York Daily News adds that with this response there is speculation Usher’s run will be extended. “Chicago” currently features “Half & Half” star Obba Babatunde as Billy Flynn. Previous actors who’ve carried the role are Taye Diggs, Wayne Brady, Huey Lewis, George Hamilton, and John O’Hurley.  “Chicago” plays the Ambassador Theatre, located at 215 West 49th Street.

Chuck D. Joins Urban League

Excerpt from

(July 20, 2006) *
Chuck D. keeps fighting the power. His 1989 hit with public enemy “Fight the Power” is the namesake for the upcoming Annual Conference of the National Urban League luncheon. The conference, taking place July 27-29 in Atlanta, will feature a number of sessions, workshops, and luncheons focused on educating young, urban professionals.  Other guests and speakers for the event include singers Angie Stone and Gladys Knight, comedian Paul Mooney, and Black Enterprise magazine’s Sr. VP and Editor-in-chief Joseph C. Phillips, Star Jones, and Jesse Jackson, among others. Topics, in addition to “fighting the power,” include "The Future of Black and Brown: Diversity in America," "Beyond the Bling: A Q&A on Money Management," and "Entrepreneurship 301." Plus, the conference is hosting over 350 exhibits, a 3-day career expo, a benefit concert on Thursday, a comedy night Friday, and an awards
gala Saturday. The Annual Conference of the National Urban League takes place from July 27-29. For more information visit

Janet Loves Jermaine

Excerpt from

(July 24, 2006) *While on her media tour,
Janet Jackson is letting it all hang out...not like the infamous Super Bowl performance, but she’s telling fans about what’s really going on in her life and how love has brought a new perspective. The singer/actress gives many thanks to her long-time boyfriend, producer Jermaine Dupri. "I always wanted to find love," she said. "Now, that I found love, I'm in a different space now. Jermaine is drama-free. He's a very giving person. The challenges have been all joy working with Jermaine," Jackson said in an Atlanta news conference promoting her new album “20 Years Old.” When asked about having a family, Jackson said: "I would love to have kids. I never thought I would ever want any. But being with Jermaine really changed my mind on all that. I don't mind adopting."   “20 Years Old,” hits stores on Sept. 26. Dupri produced a few tracks on the album, but most go to long-time collaborators Jimmy 'Jam' Harris and Terry Lewis, who produced Jackson’s “Control” 20 years ago – to which the new album is named. Jackson is expecting to spill more about the new disc and her relationship on “Oprah.” She’s the confirmed guest for Sept. 26, the date the album drops.

Donnie Delivers 'Daily News'

Source: Juanita Stephens / J S Media Relations /

(July 24, 2006) Singer/Songwriter Donnie introduced himself to the world with his critically-acclaimed CD, “The Colored Section.” This Fall, Donnie will release “The Daily News” via SoulThought Records.  Donnie’s music, a true reflection of his personality, is bold, honest and unprocessed.  He paints a picture of life that shows the joy, pains and challenges facing the human race. The first single, “911,” is a wake up call for America and  will give yet another perspective on the artist that USA Today described as "…. soulfully funky…. echoes the work of Stevie Wonder and  Donny Hathaway but is thoroughly contemporary."  The video for “911” will be directed by Joe Robert Cole, winner of this year’s screenwriting competition at the 2006 Vibe/Urbanworld Film Festival for “The Man Who’s Never Been Kissed.” Mr. Cole was also a co-writer for the recently released movie ATL. Donnie will hit the road on a pre-release CD tour in August delivering “The Daily News” to Atlanta, Washington, DC, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York.  For more, visit:

Stevie Wonder Among Freedom Award Winners

Excerpt from

(July 26, 2006) *
Stevie Wonder joins Doctors Without Borders founder Bernard Kouchner and civil rights leader Joseph Lowery as recipients of this year’s Freedom Awards, handed out annually by the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Wonder will receive the museum's Lifetime Achievement Award, while Lowery – a co-founder with Martin Luther King of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and co-founder of the Black Leadership Forum – will receive the museum's National Freedom Award.  Kouchner, a former minister of health for France whose Doctors Without Borders sends volunteer medical personnel to underdeveloped countries around the world, will receive the museum's International Freedom Award.   The awards banquet also serves as an annual fundraiser for the museum and will take place on Oct. 17.

Simmons, Chavis Named U.N. Goodwill Ambassadors

Excerpt from

(July 26, 2006)  *Hip-Hop has now ascended into the halls of the United Nations.  Hip-Hop Summit Action Network chairman
Russell Simmons and HSAN president/CEO Dr. Benjamin Chavis were to be inducted Tuesday as CISRI-ISP Permanent Observer Missionaries to the United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors program.  CISRI-ISP is a new campaign that promotes awareness of extreme hunger and malnutrition in various countries around the world. The organization, through its Hip Hop 4 Peace Program, uses hip hop to draw attention to the issue, as well as war, poverty and HIV/AIDS. "The underlying goal of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network is to end poverty and ignorance," Simmons said. "We're going to help save lives. We will not be silenced in the face of the awful fact that more than 40,000 people die every day from malnutrition and poverty. That is unacceptable to the hip hop community."  Chavis views the new role as a way to broaden HSAN's domestic and global reach.  "Hip-Hop culture is global and, as we strive to take back responsibility, the life saving issues of ending poverty and malnutrition are most urgent," said Chavis. "Our job is to wake more people up to this reality. Being a Goodwill Ambassador is not just ceremonial. We're rolling up our sleeves and look forward to working with the United Nations on these issues."

NY’S Lincoln Center To Honour Hype Williams

Excerpt from

*Tonight at 8:30, New York’s Lincoln Center will present a 90-minute retrospective touting the work of music video director
Hype Williams.   “Believe the Hype: An Auteur Study of Hype Williams ‘The Best Who Ever Did It’” will be featured in the Center’s Walter Reade Theater and provide an in-depth look at Williams career – including collaborations with such artists as Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott.    New York film critic Armond White will host the event and Williams himself is expected to be in attendance, although a tipster has informed EUR that the video director will not be able to attend because of his “busy schedule.”   In the past, Armond White has held similar evenings honouring such video directors as Mark Romanek (Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”), Marcus Nispel, Ben Stokes, Marc Klasfeld, Dave Meyers (Ludacris’ “Stand Up,” Spike Jonze and Joseph Khan.



July 31, 2006

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


Things Heading South In Hollywood North?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Suzanne Ma

(July 23, 2006) Toronto, long known as
Hollywood North, seems to be losing some of its appeal. Seemingly slipping away are the hot summer days when hordes of American producers made the pilgrimage to the city to shoot big-budget feature films and TV series. "It's a flat summer in Toronto, there's no question about that," observes independent movie producer and director Julian Grant. Grant worked on seven feature films in Toronto last year; this year he'll work on just four. In all, Ontario is playing host this summer to seven feature films, five movies of the week and seven TV series. Only three of those feature films are big U.S. productions, one being Hairspray, starring John Travolta, which is set to start shooting in August. The scarcity of ongoing series, meanwhile, is especially unfortunate because such shows provide regular, weekly work for film crews, actors and stunt performers. "Dramatic and episodic programming is the bread and butter of the craftspeople," notes Grant. "Unfortunately it's on a decline." Donna Zuchlinski, director of film for the Ontario Media Development Corp., blames the high value of the loonie -- and the concerted efforts of many U.S. states to offer competitive tax credits -- for Ontario's quiet summer. "It's hard to compete," she says. "Toronto used to double for New York City or for Boston, but with some states making things so competitive, most movies just decide to remain there."

Zuchlinski insists Toronto is still in business this summer, but acknowledges that most of the productions currently under way are independent U.S features and low-budget TV series. She adds that the OMDC is working hard, with the help of its Los Angeles office, to market the province "right on the ground in Hollywood." Still, some of those who work in the film business question whether enough is being done. "A producer in L.A. was just telling me he's getting a better discount at the dry cleaners than coming up to Canada to shoot," says Toronto-based casting director Brian Levy of Powerhouse Casting Inc. Powerhouse usually works on as many as eight projects each summer, but Levy says his studios have only a couple of projects on the go right now. It's a frustrating situation for those who for years depended on Toronto to provide steady film work. Liise Keeling, a stunt performer based in the city, recalls flying out to Vancouver last fall to work on the set of
X-Men: The Last Stand. "Considering Toronto's track record, it's a shame," she says. "I remember the days when there was so much work [in Toronto] you'd have to clone yourself." Keeling, who did stunts for a number of U.S. feature films in Toronto last year, including The Sentinel, 16 Blocks and Cheaper by the Dozen 2, says morale among crews and performers in the city is the lowest it's been in many years. "No one is on suicide watch just yet," she says. "But it's discouraging -- especially when it's summer and it's supposed to be the busiest time."

M. Night Shyamalan risked a lot when he left Disney for Warner Bros.

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Jason Mcbride

(July 21, 2006) At the age of 36,
M. Night Shyamalan has made eight feature films that collectively have raked in more than a billion dollars at the box office. You can attribute that commercial success to a number of factors: Shyamalan's re-invigoration of tawdry horror and science-fiction codes; a keen storytelling ability; a rare facility with actors; a canny marketing sense. Cynics might belabour the final point, but it's undeniable that Shyamalan's films have benefited greatly from the writer-director's ability to bend the media to his will. Film reviewers have routinely stayed mum about the twists and turns of his movies while fanning the great clouds of mystery that surround his creative process.  One secret, however, is gradually emerging among both critics and audiences: Shyamalan is a pretty mediocre filmmaker, and he's getting worse. Spoiler alert, indeed. A new book about Shyamalan, The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale, chronicles in intimate detail the creation of the filmmaker's latest movie, Lady in the Water. Shyamalan has a lot riding on the film, not the least of which is his pride. As recounted in the book, written by Sports Illustrated's Michael Bamberger, Lady caused Shyamalan to leave Disney, the studio that had produced all of his films since 1999's The Sixth Sense. When Shyamalan first delivered the screenplay for Lady -- the tale of a water nymph who befriends a building superintendent reeling from a broken heart -- Disney executives found it weak, confusing and laboured. A wounded Shyamalan, well used to singular levels of creative freedom and reverence, jumped ship, taking the project to Warner Bros.

Disney shouldn't worry. The movie is weak, confusing and laboured, and it's certainly not going to restore Shyamalan's diminishing reputation. Once heralded as a new Hitchcock, Shyamalan is looking ever more like a Spielberg manqué, committed to the kind of wide-eyed magic realism the latter evinced in early films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Even more so than Steven Spielberg, however, Shyamalan has romanticized childhood, endowing it with an untenable capacity for wisdom, innocence and authenticity. Shyamalan's overweening self-regard seemed to bloom shortly after the success of The Sixth Sense. Unbreakable, the story of a security guard (Bruce Willis) with superpowers, was about much more than comic books -- it was a treatise on heroism and our lamentable capitulation to cynicism. 2002's Signs featured another of Shyamalan's lugubrious protagonists: Mel Gibson's ex-priest, haunted by the death of his wife and the immense crop circles in his cornfields. It squandered its well-earned chills -- Shyamalan is usually a competent craftsman -- in favour of a fuzzy discourse on the loss of faith. It's one thing to make films imbued with the wonderment of childhood, but it's another to make films as if you were a child. The Village, Shyamalan's seventh feature, might have been written by an eighth-grader obsessed with The Crucible. The increasingly infantile stories Shyamalan is telling provide less respite or reward and more bafflement. If Shyamalan is ever going to live up to his early promise, he'll have to grow up, too.

M. Night Shyamalan Says Spike Lee Saves Lives

Excerpt from - By Marie Moore

(July 21, 2006) *So if we’re all just a group of people who don’t believe in ourselves, don’t believe in our purpose, we can’t build off each other.  -- M. Night Shyamalan -- Griots are a very important part of the African tradition. M. Night Shyamalan's latest, "Lady in the Water," takes on the mantle of storyteller.  The Film Strip asked Shyamalan how important storytelling was to him as a kid and if he read stories to his children. He said storytelling was very important and he did read stories to his children, but not as much as he should.  "It was our last day in France," he recalled, "and we were having dinner. One of my kids was like, 'Tell me a story.' And I'm like, 'No, we’re just going to sit here and smell the lavender. That's what we’re going to do.' And they’re like rolling their eyes." Although Shyamalan has had much success with "Sixth Sense" with Bruce Willis and "Signs" with Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix, he says his most requested film is "Unbreakable" with Samuel L. Jackson. 

"The struggle for me is that there are two realities," Shyamalan points out. "There is a perceived reality. Let's say that that's a big successful movie, and then there's the reality of it. Let's just pick 'Unbreakable.' There is a perceived reality of what happened to it and then there is the reality which is that I cannot go anywhere without someone asking me about the sequel to 'Unbreakable.' I can't walk out and go get a bagel. I can't go anywhere. That is the most asked about movie of my career by far and it's everywhere I go. I'm out swimming in the middle of the ocean and a couple swims up and ask me if I'm going to make the sequel to 'Unbreakable.' 'We love that movie,' they say." As in the past, Shyamalan continues to sing the praises of Spike Lee.  This time he begins telling the story of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Abe Lincoln: "The idea of Harriet Beecher Stowe was what really caught me, just caught me, and I said, 'Wow, this idea that you write a book and somebody like Lincoln reads the book and other people in that time period read that book and you’re creating change. Then someone who can make a difference decides to do something about it. Harriet Beecher Stowe didn’t know she was doing all that, she was just writing a book, but it actually opened minds and created points of views … You will be part of a chain that you can’t possibly know. It's very important that you keep acting, that you be proactive. That you believe you have a purpose. If any one of us doesn’t do our little link in the chain, the eventuality doesn’t happen. So if we’re all just a group of people who don’t believe in ourselves, don’t believe in our purpose, we can’t build off each other.

"I've told this story, but I'll tell it again. I'm in JFK airport sending my grandparents to India and the flight was delayed, I went into a little bookstore and on the rack was Spike Lee's book for his first movie, 'She's Gotta Have It'. I got the book and I could not believe that you could just go and make movies. I thought it was some tribe of people that did that way out where you have no connections. So I decided to go make movies. I went to school where he [Spike] went to school, all of that, blah, blah, blah. I went on to make some movies, make some money. I put the money into a foundation. "There is a lady in a village in India who really inspired me. She stood up to these gang people that were raping and pillaging and all this kind of stuff. I want to help those unfortunate people, help educate them and save lives. Spike Lee saves lives. Literally, Spike Lee saves lives. Is he aware that he saves lives? No, maybe now if I tell him, you know what I mean. But he is a link in the chain. A link in the chain. That is very important. Literally, somebody's gonna get money in their hands because he [Spike] wrote that book and saves lives. They're going to get educated, learn how to sow and be able to support their family. How do we know what part we're going in the chain? Positive, empowering energy will create an incredible network of things.

How many people don’t believe in that, that they’re part of that inevitable change of things. "My babysitter once left a book by mistake that she was reading about how people are having a hard time making ends meet because their cost of living is so high, and they’re not saving anything, because they’re always renting. It’s called the “Nickel and Dime” book. So I went and I bought a bunch of low income houses and built them up and gave them to families in Philadelphia, because my babysitter was reading it, because her teacher had assigned it to her, because the teacher was moved by this lady. Look at that chain of events, you know what I mean? It’s just an empowering thing to be able to hear, if you could, the beauty of the spiral of things that happen. If God could tell you when you die, this is what you did, It would be so cool."


One Last Dance With The Devil

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Allan Thompson, Special To The Star

(Jul. 22, 2006) KINIHIRA, Rwanda—Against a stunning backdrop of verdant hills checkered with terraced farm plots, banana groves and mud houses,
Roy Dupuis sits alone, quietly transforming himself into Roméo Dallaire.  The steely-eyed Quebec actor cast as the retired Canadian general is practising his lines, murmuring unfamiliar military lingo that wasn't part of his English vocabulary before taking the role of Canada's most famous soldier for the film version of Dallaire's Rwanda genocide memoir, Shake Hands with the Devil.  Dupuis, whose most recent role was hockey legend Rocket Richard, is sipping a can of Nestea and puffing Gauloise cigarettes. Finally, he gets up to stroll across the set and chat with crew members, lamenting that he forgot to bring the charger for his camera and won't be able to snap his own photos of the scenery that so mesmerized Dallaire, whose tragic story inspired this film.  Squint your eyes just a bit and the handsome 43-year-old Dupuis looks eerily like Dallaire, sporting a carefully groomed moustache, summer tan uniform and authentic blue beret. Indeed, Dupuis is even wearing Dallaire's original army nametag and decorations from 1994.  Dallaire is collaborating on this project — right down to a line-by-line review of the script — and insisted on giving Dupuis the decorations to add authenticity.  He also gave Dupuis something of himself.  "I feel a real connection with this man. He opened up to me," Dupuis says during an interview on the set, the first time he has spoken with media since the gruelling shoot began in Rwanda a month ago. "I'm here because of him."

In a chapel at the St. Jean military base near Montreal, Dallaire and Dupuis talked for hours. "Mostly he talked and I listened. He was generous because he wants this story told."  "This is the first time I accepted doing a movie without reading the scenario first," Dupuis says. "It was mainly my meeting with this man that got to me on this. This story should not die, it should be remembered so that maybe we could stop something like another genocide from happening."  Like others, Dupuis acknowledges he barely noticed news of the Rwanda genocide in 1994. "I recall hearing about it, that's pretty much it. Then basically when he started talking about it, it was like, `Holy shit, what happened over there?'"  In this tiny central African country that witnessed the slaughter of up to 1 million people when Hutu extremists set out to exterminate the Tutsi minority and Hutu moderates, Dupuis and the rest of the production team are visiting sites that are the virtual stations of the cross of the Rwanda genocide.  Cast and crew alike have been struck by the breathtaking beauty of the country and the crushing poverty. Ragged bands of small children line the roadway to every shooting location, calling out "muzungu" (Kinyarwanda for "white man") and asking for empty water bottles to reuse.  Shooting in Rwanda has added authenticity — including the red dust that covers nearly everything — but it has proved complicated and expensive. The country has no film industry and none of the gear — cranes, booms or complicated lighting equipment — required by major movie productions.  On this day, the set is a magnificent vantage point near a tiny village called Kinihira, a spot that Dallaire regarded as his secret place. Amid the carnage of the genocide, this is where the Canadian general who commanded a doomed United Nations mission would retreat to "become human again."  And Dupuis says that is exactly the Roméo Dallaire that he intends to portray, a human being, not a hero.

"In a sense it is a heroic role because he went — in French we say `au-delà de lui-même' — farther than himself. But he did not succeed in what he would have wanted to do, so that's why he sees himself as not being a hero.  "I'm not trying to play a hero. I'm trying to play everything I feel about him, as a human being."  Shake Hands with the Devil is being produced by Laszlo Barna and Michael Donovan. The film will be distributed next year in Canada by Seville Pictures. Donovan, who won an Oscar for the Michael Moore documentary Bowling for Columbine, has spent the past four years on the Dallaire project.  The director, Ottawa-born Roger Spottiswoode, says the movie will be a compelling, factual account of Dallaire's Rwanda experience, all the more real for being shot on location. Early plans to shoot in South Africa were quickly abandoned after Spottiswoode visited Rwanda himself.  "It is the story of a disaster for a country and the personal disaster of a person who was put into a meat grinder and left with very little," Spottiswoode says during a lunch break on the set, pausing only to marvel at the spectacular scenery.  "It's the story of a great tragedy and a remarkable person ... It's a story that has actually not been told before, even though people may think it has. I hope we'll get past them thinking Hotel Rwanda is the only story."  This is the first feature-film depiction of Dallaire's story. The Hollywood production Hotel Rwanda featured Nick Nolte in a composite character — a hard-drinking Canadian colonel — that was loosely based on Dallaire, but was neither a flattering nor accurate portrayal.  Both Dupuis and Spottiswoode spent hours talking to Dallaire about the film.  "He was very, very clear that this was not to be the story of a hero. He doesn't see it that way at all. I said that I understood that but that I would do my best to make it a truthful portrayal of him," Spottiswoode says. "But I can't alter the facts to make less of him.  "He was unable to prevent this happening, he stayed here as a witness to these events and could not carry the burden later. He's a sort of Shakespearean character," Spottiswoode says.  The film will also include difficult scenes of Dallaire's suicide attempts.  "I told him I was going to do it and I don't think he liked it very much, but he didn't stop me. I don't know how much he will approve of what we are doing. I hope his friends tell him that we got it right, but it will be painful," Spottiswoode says.  "We have to sort of part company. I'm not making it for him. I'm making it for other people. It's going to be kind of brutal in a way and I hope it will be honest."

The script moves back and forth between Dallaire's time in Rwanda and the period of his mental collapse and retirement from the military years later, with the Dallaire character speaking to a therapist.  Dallaire was scheduled to travel to Rwanda early this month to visit the set, but cancelled at the last minute.  "He's tired, that's what they told us," Spottiswoode says. "To be honest, it was unimaginable to me that he could ever come. How could you come back and see this being reproduced?"  One scene takes Dallaire through a village where there were so many bodies on the road that he had to get out and remove them to drive through. In another he encounters the body of a woman who has been brutally raped.  "We're just trying to be accurate and honest and not do a sort of Hollywood movie," Spottiswoode says.  "We're not changing events; we're not doing heroic shots or heroic moments. We're not using movie techniques to create a leading character. We're portraying somebody who went through a very difficult time and doing it honestly."

Senior Officials Exit Alliance Distributor

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald And Shirley Won

(July 21, 2006) Mounting tensions, large egos, and a fractious board meeting led to the sudden departure yesterday of veteran distributor
Victor Loewy and two of his senior executives at Canada's powerhouse distributor Movie Picture Distribution LP.  The film industry was shocked when Movie Picture Distribution's parent, Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., announced that Mr. Loewy, chairman of MPD, "stepped down" while Patrice Theroux, MPD's chief executive, "has left the business." No mention was made of the departure of Paul Laberge, the distribution arm's general counsel. Sources close to Alliance Atlantis's senior management and board said the three men vacated corporate headquarters Wednesday night -- two were fired, Mr. Loewy quit -- after a heated board meeting. That's when Mr. Loewy was informed the Alliance Atlantis board had decided to terminate Mr. Theroux and Mr. Laberge, without Mr. Loewy's involvement or knowledge. The volatile chairman was incensed, accused the board of constructive dismissal, and left a room of ashen-faced executives to figure out what to do with the mess. Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis offered no explanation for the sudden exit of the three executives. It said in a statement that the board had concluded "a management change was necessary and in the best interest" of the business. John Bailey, an independent board member of the company and former CEO of the Famous Players cinema chain, was named interim chief executive of MPD, replacing Mr. Theroux.

Alliance Atlantis vice-chairman David Lazzarato, who also serves as chief financial officer of Alliance Atlantis, took over Mr. Loewy's spot as MPD chairman. Units of the Movie Distribution Income Fund tumbled $2.20 yesterday to close at $6.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Shares of Alliance Atlantis ended the day at $34.45, down 90 cents. "It's a concern," Raymond James analyst Andy Nasr said. "It's a relationship business." Alliance Atlantis spun off its theatrical, video and TV distribution operations three years ago into MPD, in which it retains a 51-per-cent stake. MDP, Canada's gorilla of distribution, has exclusive -- and extremely lucrative -- output deals with New Line Cinema, Weinstein Company, Focus Films, Miramax, IFC and Remstar. New Line has a so-called "key man clause" written into its contract naming Mr. Loewy. The normally chatty Mr. Loewy was tight lipped when reached yesterday on his cellphone. "I have nothing to say," he said. "The next step will be to make some arrangements that haven't been made or even discussed."

But sources close to senior management at Alliance Atlantis and its board say the slow unravelling of Mr. Loewy's relationship with company chairman Michael MacMillan began in 1998 when Alliance merged with its much smaller rival, Atlantis. Mr. Loewy's partner at Alliance, Robert Lantos, left to start a film production company, Serendipity Point Films. Mr. Loewy stuck around to run his baby, the distribution group. Mr. MacMillan is a buttoned-down family man who prefers private dinner parties and avoids the limelight. Mr. Loewy is a flamboyant man with caviar tastes. Friends say he doesn't keep his opinions to himself. Still, the two men struck an uneasy truce, with Mr. MacMillan leaving Mr. Loewy more or less alone to do what he's done best for 30 years: wheel and deal in motion pictures. Fissures developed in the relationship when Alliance's movie distribution arm was spun off as an income trust. And then last year, Alliance Atlantis decided it wanted out of distribution altogether and put its stake in MPD up for sale. Mr. Loewy and his crew needed no encouragement, and were off running to find suitors. With Momentum Pictures in Britain and Aurum in Spain, Motion Picture Distribution was expanding its reach, and Mr. Loewy was eager to turn his company into an international player. Sources said that several U.S. investment groups were interested, including Goldman Sachs of New York.  Mr. Loewy reportedly brought news of three or four serious suitors to the board.

Although the company said last month the unit was no longer for sale, that subject was reportedly before the MPD board again on Wednesday. Mr. MacMillan, who does not sit on the board, was not in attendance. He also could not be reached yesterday. Within minutes of the meeting kicking off, the directors asked Mr. Theroux and Mr. Laberge to leave the room "because they have some confidential information to discuss," the source said. Mr. Loewy was then told that it was decided that Mr. Theroux and Mr. Laberge would be fired. Mr. Loewy was seen to be furious at the board for making a decision about two of his senior staff without his involvement as chairman of that group. He accused his former colleagues of doing an end run and abruptly quit. Yesterday, in a statement, Alliance CEO Phyllis Yaffe said: "We support the decisions reached by the board of MPD." She added: "We would like to thank Victor and Patrice for their important contributions to the partnership and wish them well in the future endeavours." "They stepped off a cliff," said one observer. "And with this public, it's gone too far for any of them to turn back. Victor'll move on. He'll torment them. He'll take that constructive dismissal position and use it to fight any non-compete conditions [Alliance] might try to foist on him." In its news release yesterday, Alliance Atlantis admitted "an output agreement with one of its principal suppliers may be terminated at the supplier's option following Mr. Loewy's departure from the business." Analysts say that lucrative partnership is a deal with New Line Cinema that brought millions into Allianc's coffers with blockbusters such as The Lord of the Rings.

Shadowboxer -- Lee Daniels Makes Directorial Debut with Sadistic, Incestuous Snuff Film

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(July 24, 2006) *
Shadowboxer marks the eagerly-anticipated directorial debut of Lee Daniels who was previously best known as the producer of Monster’s Ball, the Jungle Fever flick for which Halle Berry won an Academy Award. Here, Lee takes a page out of that steamy sex romp while tossing in tons of sadistic gore to create a sordid crime drama that combines cruelty with carnality. Where Monster’s Ball most memorable moments involved the nubile and nude Halle rolling around in arms of the relatively-unappetizing Billy Bob Thornton, this time it’s Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. cavorting in his birthday suit with the decidedly-geriatric Helen Mirren. The problem is not just that sixty-something Mirren is old enough to be Cuba’s mother, but that she also happens to be playing his step-mother.    And on top of the Oedipal aspect of their liaison, her character is also wracked with pain due to inoperable cancer. So, those open-minded enough to get past the incest issue still might find themselves a bit bothered by the sight of virile, muscular Cuba mating with a sickly senior citizen who looks like death sucking on a Lifesaver.    

Their ill-fated love story aside, Shadowboxer is otherwise a kinky, killer-for-hire crime saga. Rose (Mirren) is a heartless assassin who has raised Mikey (Gooding) to follow in her footsteps. As the movie opens, we find Rose in failing health and agreeing to participate in one last rubout before retirement.  But when the mother-son hit team discovers that Vickie (Vanessa Ferlito), the woman they’re supposed to murder is nine-months pregnant, they have an instant change of heart and choose to save her instead. This development doesn’t sit well with her husband (Stephen Dorff), the sadistic crime boss who wanted his wife wasted. Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game where Rose, Mikey, Vanessa and the baby attempt to hide under the radar by renting a home in suburban Philadelphia, hoping the heartless hood never catches wind of their whereabouts. Meanwhile, to pay the rent, Mikey continues to take assignments from a wheelchair-bound angel of death (Tom Pasch).

While I won’t spoil any of the imaginative ways in which victims are tortured before being eliminated, suffice to say it is certain to satisfy the blood lust of those given to gruesome fare. That being said, Shadowboxer‘s Swiss cheese plotline is riddled with too many holes to consider this flick as much more than a snuff film.    The cast of this high body-count affair includes comedienne Mo’Nique and gravel-throated songstress Macy Gray, both of whom do a decent job, despite being abandoned by a bizarre script. Strictly for devotees of eroticized-violence or anyone who’s been fantasizing about Cuba Gooding’s bod.  

'Shadowboxer' Goes To The Mat

Excerpt from - By Kenya Yarbrough

(July 21, 2006) *Lee Daniels, the producer/director who invited moviegoers to “Monster’s Ball” and introduced them to “The Woodsman,” goes to the mat with “
Shadowboxer” in limited release this weekend. The film is about a female assassin named Rose, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides to carry out one final job. Assisted by her lover – and stepson – Mikey, the two change their plans when they find that their hit is a crime boss’ pregnant wife and so begin a harrowing life on the run.   “A lot of this is based on my life. All of my movies are sort of therapeutic for me,” Daniels explained about his new project. “In ‘Monster’s Ball’ I tried to understand the mind of a racist. With ‘The Woodsman’ I tried to understand the mindset of a pedophile. And I ended up empathizing with both. With this, I did it with killers.” The film was written by William Lipz and is described as an emotionally-charged, full-throttle film noir, which delves into the harsh underworld of organized crime and the complex lives of trained assassins. The film stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as Mikey and Helen Mirren (Elizabeth I) as Rose, with a supporting cast that includes Mo’Nique, Macy Gray, Vanessa Ferlito, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“3rd Rock From the Sun”).

The indie film didn’t start out that way, per se, for Daniels. “Shadowboxer” was picked up by major film company Paramount, but the studio dropped the deal due to some conflicts with Daniel’s casting. Daniels explained that what he saw for the film wasn’t what anyone had seen or expected, in terms of how the roles were interpreted. One battle he had over casting was that of the part of Precious, a drug addict involved with a younger man – which went to comedienne/actress Mo’Nique. “Everybody told me – the studio presidents – we love Mo’Nique. She’s so funny, she’s so talented, but who would ever believe that a good looking white man would be attracted to her,” he said about casting the full-size black actress. “I was like, ‘You need to walk down the streets of New York City and you need to get to the back of an AOL chat room and see what real life is about. That’s the life that I know. My sister was overweight. She had a chicken wing in one hand and a crack pipe in the next and she was able to turn the head of many a good looking white man.” Daniels explained that the part was written for a 23-year-old white woman, but anomalous casting is an art for the young director. After all, he’s most often heralded for his commitment to multi-dimensional representations of African-Americans.  “It didn’t interest me. I’d seen it, been there, done that,” he said about filling the part of Precious with a young white actress. “I was excited to work with Mo’Nique because it was her first serious role.”

What might surprise many is that Daniels had a big casting issue with the star of the film, Cuba Gooding Jr.   “I did not want to hire him,” he said of the Academy Award-winning actor. “He lost me somewhere. Maybe it was ‘Snow Dogs,' but it was somewhere in his work that I felt that he crossed over into a place of unbelievability for me. So I wasn’t excited about working with him, but I remembered…Cuba in ‘Boyz N The Hood.’ So I thought I could just get him at a place of silence, of doing nothing.” And by do nothing, Daniels means just pure, unpolluted acting. “[Cuba] has a tendency to raise his eyebrows,” Daniels continued about one of the actor’s trademarks. “But what is brilliant about Cuba Gooding Jr. is that he is an Oscar winner because he’s a maverick. He’s like a Ferrari; he does exactly what you want him to do.” Daniels continued, modestly, that he believes actors are as talented as their directors. This is the famed director who did not want to cast Halle Berry in her Oscar-winning role in “Monster’s Ball.” Fortunately, Daniels reflected on Berry’s very early work as a crack addict in “Jungle Fever” and it was that glimmer that convinced
him she was right for that part. “If the director is directing you, and you’re doing what the director tells you to do, then you should be good. I think Cuba got to a place where [his acting] was directing the director.”

Nevertheless, Daniels directing and perfectionism was a blessing for Mo’Nique. In her first ever dramatic role, the actress called Daniels a genius. “We trusted him to take us to a place that most people are afraid of in Hollywood,” Mo’Nique said. Mo’Nique didn’t audition for the part. Daniels was set on her and simply requested she meet the cast and crew in Philadelphia to begin shooting. Fortunately, as Mo’Nique admitted, she had the inside track on the character. “I knew her,” she said. “My sister is a recovering addict. So, when I read that script, I knew Precious, hands down. I knew her movements, her fears, and her insecurities because I lived with her.” Out of respect for her sister, Mo’Nique called her upon accepting the role to caution her about forthcoming press about her inspiration for the character. “I said to her ‘When we start promoting this movie, people are going to know you.’ And she said, ‘Baby, tell the story and make sure you tell it well. Don’t bullsh*t it because people need to know about this disease. Don’t dress it up.’,” Mo’Nique explained. “I watched my sister go from a beauty queen to a dope fiend. You watch Precious go from this beautiful, gorgeous woman to her nails aren’t done, she’s in flip-flops, and her hair’s out of order. I think my sister will be proud.” Now, with a serious role under her belt, is the fun-loving comedic acting over for Mo’Nique? Hardly. She told the EUR that while this was her first fully serious acting gig; she was not intimidated and is not particularly en route to a career that’s 100% dramatic. “[The part] didn’t cause me concern – I didn’t have anything to be concerned about. It did make me say, ‘Ooh look out’ because it was a great piece of work and I was really appreciative to be a part of it. Did it make me say, ‘Oh now I’m going to become a dramatic actress?’ No, I’ll do whatever feels good and whatever looks good.” In the meantime, “Shadowboxer” opens today, in selected theatres.

Where The Streets Are Packed With Stars

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Alexandra Gill, With a report from Suzanne Ma

(July 22, 2006) VANCOUVER — It's summer in Vancouver and the Hollywood film industry is sizzling, despite the robust Canadian dollar and a production drought that has nearly sucked Toronto dry. We don't mean to gloat — and would certainly never gawk — but there are so many celebrities working on the West Coast right now, you can barely swing a cocktail glass or shake a dog leash without bumping into a few. Oh, look. There's little Danny DeVito diving into a massive feast of king crab at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House. He's here for Deck the Halls, a holiday family flick with Matthew Broderick and Kristin Davis. And isn't it nice that Davis (the prissy miss from Sex and the City) was able to spend some downtime with her new beau, Matthew Perry, who was also in Vancouver to film a movie called Numb, about a screenwriter who ends up bedding his shrink (Mary Steenburgen). Why, just the other week, Davis and Perry were seen snuggling in the velvet room at Elixir restaurant in the Opus Hotel. Sweet.

Related to this article

Stirring up a cross-town rubber-necking storm, clockwise from bottom left: Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Beals, Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Danny DeVito, Ryan Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd, Matthew Perry, Kristin Davis, Matthew Broderick and Jean-Claude Van Damme. (Lori Langille/The Globe and Mail: Map courtesy of; Photography by Getty Images and Reuters)

Then there's Rachel McAdams, now being spotted all over town with her honey, Ryan Gosling. She's here to shoot a forties-era film called Marriage with co-star Pierce Brosnan (who, word has it, was followed into a hotel washroom last week by an annoying male fan; apparently, a few nasty words were exchanged).  Later this summer, we'll no doubt be running into Jessica Alba, who returns for Fantastic Four Part 2. And Renée Zellweger, signed to star in the horror flick Case 39. And Halle Berry, who's coming next month to co-star with Benicio del Toro in a movie called Things We Lost in the Fire, and who will in all likelihood be working out at Studeo55, where she was a devotee while in town last year to shoot the latest X-Men flick. The list just goes on and on.  “We are fully booked, and there's actually a shortage of space here for various productions,” says Paul Clausen, director of operations for the British Columbia Film Commission. “Considering the dollar is as high as it is, we thought it would have more of an effect in terms of the number of productions coming to B.C., but things are really good this year.”

In all, Vancouver has 12 U.S. feature films shooting this summer (down from 20 last year, but highly respectable nonetheless), as well as 13 television series (up from seven last year) and eight movies of the week (there was only one last summer). Take a glance at the national picture through a wide-angle lens and the Vancouver film industry is looking extremely healthy, especially when compared to Toronto and Montreal, which hasn't bagged a major U.S. production in more than a year, and doesn't have any on the horizon until fall, when Paramount Pictures rolls into that city to begin shooting a $100-million-plus adaptation of the children's book The Spiderwick Chronicles. Vancouver's hot summer season comes on the heels of a banner year for 2005, when B.C. reaped near-record film-and-TV production spending, by local and international producers, of $1.2-billion — up 50 per cent from 2004. Last year's numbers made Vancouver one of the top three film-production regions in North America — surpassed only by Los Angeles and New York — and bucked a national trend that saw overall spending drop sharply.

So why is B.C. doing so well? Many industry observers say the province's rebound and continued strong showing can be attributed to the tax credit for foreign and domestic producers that the provincial government raised last year. But Shawn Robins, communications director for the provincial Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts, says the tax credits (which were extended last winter for another two years) are only one of many factors that give B.C. a competitive edge. “They work to a point, but they're not the be all and end all,” Robins says, pointing to impressive studio facilities, a large pool of skilled workers, stable labour relations and an aggressive film commission. “B.C. has been at this game for a long time,” says Robins, “and we have a very deep, experienced industry with a lot of technical expertise.” Indeed, when Twentieth Century Fox was looking for a location to shoot Night at the Museum, a $100-million, special-effects-heavy adventure comedy starring Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke, the cast and crew were originally slated to go to Montreal. But the spring production was moved to Vancouver to be closer to special-effects houses both here and in Los Angeles. In all, B.C.'s Lower Mainland is home to five purpose-built studio facilities, including the appropriately named 300,000-square-foot Mammoth Studios in Burnaby, where the Fantastic Four sequel will begin shooting on a 120,000-square-foot stage next month. “We have the best studio facilities in Canada,” boasts Peter Leitch, president of Lions Gate Studios and chair of the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C. “We simply wouldn't attract the level of production that we do if we didn't have them.”

Vancouver also has two big geographical pluses going for it: its relative proximity to Los Angeles; and British Columbia's superb location possibilities, including mountain ranges, ocean vistas and, in the interior of the province, desert, ranchlands and lake country. “It's pretty cool when we can travel 30 minutes outside Vancouver and get into remote forests, farmland and all that kind of stuff,” says Rino Pace, location manager on the Paramount Pictures political thriller Shooters, which is using a semi-arid region near Kamloops as a stand-in for Afghanistan. For his part, Mark Wahlberg, who plays an exiled marksmen in Shooter, enjoyed one wilderness location at the Grouse Mountain ski resort so much that he moved into a staff cabin for a couple of weeks. (Maybe that explains why he hasn't been sighted very much around town.) Labour stability has been another boon for Vancouver this summer, especially with Montreal currently mired in a bitter dispute, between two competing unions, that is being largely blamed for the city's stagnant industry. Last week, negotiations between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance Québécoise des techniciens de l'image et du son (AQTIS) broke down yet again, as the two unions continued to fight over who will represent the province's film technicians. In Vancouver, where labour relations can be as fierce as the cat fight between Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, a unique arrangement between the unions representing many workers in the film industry is a model of genteel civility. Last spring, the B.C. Council of Film Unions (a joint group representing almost 8,000 members, from camera operators to Teamsters, and which provides a one-stop-shopping bargaining unit for the industry) hammered out its fourth four-year master contract. The only wild card on the local labour front involves the Union of B.C. Performers, currently facing a standoff with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which is seeking pay cuts for low-budget productions. Still, the number of TV series filming in B.C. this summer — including Battlestar Galactica, Blade, The L-Word, The 4400, Intelligence and Men in Trees — has nearly doubled from last year. “Television is especially important because it provides regular weekly work for local crews,” says Robins, “and utilizes more domestic expertise in key production roles than feature films, which come with more people attached to them.”

Of course, TV also brings in big names, including Jennifer Beals, the star of The L Word, who has been sighted all over Kitsilano, dining at a Milestone's chain restaurant, and pushing her baby girl's stroller at Shoppers Drug Mart. Her co-star Cybill Shepherd has been hanging out in Yaletown, where locals have witnessed her decidedly more upscale tastes: dining at Cioppino's, a swish Mediterranean grill, and shopping at trendy Beautymark (until too many common folk entered the store, that is, prompting her to flee). Allison Swan, a freelance reporter for Star magazine and a native Vancouverite, says the pickings are definitely ripe in the city this summer. “Vancouver is a great place for star watching,” she says. “Yes, the actors are busy working, but when the work is done, they can't resist coming out to play.” Yes, the stars do seem to enjoy Vancouver — especially Jean-Claude Van Damme, who bought out the entire penthouse floor of Coal Harbour's James Cheng-designed Shaw Tower for his Canadian pied-à-terre. The Muscles from Brussels was certainly having a good time with his dad and daughter during a recent dinner at Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar in Yaletown. Maybe too much of a good time — his father apparently had to cut the action star off after one too many postprandials later that night at Elixir. Then there's Ryan Reynolds, a native Vancouverite. While chilling out to the tunes at George Ultra Lounge, he was overhead by staff commiserating about his allegedly former fiancée, Alanis Morissette. The relationship must be improving, considering that local gossip hound Elaine Lui has just reported on her website that the two lovebirds were seen frolicking on English Bay beach last week. “They were kissing, surrounded by their dogs and still very much a couple,” she wrote. Ah, a happy ending in Hollywood North. With all the good news of late, what more could the local film industry ask for?

EUR'S Miami Vice Interview With Jamie Foxx

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(July 25, 2006) *While
Jamie Foxx was making the rounds last year collecting his Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, NAACP Image and other awards for Ray, somewhat overshadowed was his equally-deserving work in Collateral. And most folks forget that for that picture, he worked with four-time, Academy Award-nominee Michael Mann.  Mann is a very gifted director who coaxed Oscar-nominated performances out of Will Smith and Jon Voight in Ali (2001), and out of Russell Crowe in The Insider (1999). So, it is of some consequence, then, that Jamie and Michael have collaborated again to make Miami Vice, a big screen adaptation of the high-octane, citrus-coloured cop series which enjoyed a five-year run on NBC between 1984 and 1989. Here, Jamie reflects on recreating the role originally played by Philip Michael Thomas, that of Detective Ricardo Tubbs, a street-wise undercover crime-fighter partnered with Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell).

Kam Williams: In preparation for this role, do you think you got a real sense of what it's like being a detective working undercover?

Jamie Foxx: We did this undercover thing where we're supposedly buying drugs from this guy and somebody comes up on the side of the car and points a gun to the back of my head. He said that's how easily it could go wrong.

KW: How did that make you feel?

JF: It was a little bone-chilling, when you think that gunplay is so prevalent. It was a plastic gun, but it gives you a sense that, if that were to happen in real life, your head would've been blown off. So, it's a dangerous game when you play an undercover agent.

KW: How much did Detective Tubbs from the TV series influence how you handled your character?

JF: The thing that I did do from Philip Michael Thomas is the swagger. I don't know if I even got close to it, but he had such swagger. Like in the first episode, when these guys walk up to the car and he pulls out a shotgun, and says, "You guys want to get out of here?" To see that coldness, that seriousness... When it came time to get down, he got down. That was the one thing I tried to bring. And the style. I wanted Tubbs to have style in the movie. Oswald Boateng supplied the suits for Tubbs, because I wanted him to look fly.

KW: What's the nature of your relationship with Trudy (the character played by Naomie Harris), your love interest?

JF: That's a serious dynamic in this film, me being with a woman that I really love, though I'm almost afraid to admit it. But to see her snatched from me fuels my revenge, fuels the reason why I want to make sure I get this guy.

KW: Were you a fan of the TV series?

JF: Oh, yeah, Friday nights. It was just something that you'd never seen before. You'd never seen in your face action like that, boat chases and car crashes like that. You know what I mean? This was something else. It was like, "What is this coming into our living rooms?" It was on the cutting edge. The fly women. the actors. the guest stars... the music soundtrack. It was hot, and where everybody wanted to be. So, now to see somebody rebirth that, I think it's going to be hot.

KW: Would you describe this as a faithful adaptation, where you simply rely on the original's formula?

JF: No, it's definitely a departure from the TV show. It's not the same thing. Michael Mann is trying to create magic again, and make lightning strike twice. But he's taking the spirit of the TV series and re-imagining it. You understand what I'm saying?

KW: Yeah, is there a big burden in adapting a hit show to the screen?

JF: Obviously, with the success of Miami Vice on television, there's a heavy burden to make Miami Vice - The Movie, the thing, the now, the new. So, we all got our heads together in the trenches trying to make it something completely special and different.

KW: Was director Michael Mann up to that challenge to somehow make Miami Vice fresh?

JF: Michael Mann, that's his thing, finding places that aren't even on the map. I'll never forget when I said, "Yo, I been to the 'hood," he said, "You don't know the hood. I'll show you the hood." That's what makes him that different, brilliant filmmaker, his being able to find those locations that will shock you.


Toronto Film Fest Offers Five Bollywood Films

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Guy Dixon

(July 21, 2006) Toronto —
Bollywood is set to make a strong appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival come September, as the festival hosts five films from India, including the love story Never Say Goodbye, set in New York. The film is about two couples and their intertwining relationship, yet also includes big song-and-dance numbers typical of Indian blockbusters, thereby creating a Hollywood-meets-Bollywood style. Other Indian films at the festival include Kabul Express, a drama with moments of humour about a fractured, post-Sept. 11 Afghanistan and A Grave-Keeper's Tale, about a woman cast out from her community and labelled a witch.

Craig To Return For Second Bond Adventure

Source: Associated Press

(July 22, 2006) LOS ANGELES — The new James Bond hasn't even had his first martini yet and he's already got another job. The producers behind
Casino Royale, this fall's return to action for agent 007, said Thursday that new star Daniel Craig will reprise the role in a second Bond flick due out May 2, 2008. “As we wrap production on Casino Royale, we couldn't be more excited about the direction the franchise is heading with Daniel Craig,” producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a news release from Sony Pictures. “Daniel has taken the origins of Ian Fleming's James Bond portraying, with emotional complexity, a darker and edgier 007.” Craig was chosen last year to replace Pierce Brosnan as Bond, the British super-spy who likes his martinis “shaken, not stirred.” The 2008 release will be the 22nd film in the action franchise, whose previous Bonds have included Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.

Will Smith Takes Aim At Inner-City Violence

Source:  Associated Press

(July 24, 2006) Philadelphia —
Will Smith returned to his hometown to participate in a march against violence Saturday. The actor and rapper said he wanted to do something about violence in the city, which had 380 killings in 2005 and appears likely to top that number this year. "We're going to. . . hopefully draw a little attention to the problem and get some solutions," Smith said as he walked with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, in West Philadelphia, along with local officials and members of the community. The level of violence last week prompted the Philadelphia Daily News newspaper to call for the National Guard to patrol city streets. AP

‘Bruce Lee’ The Movie: Lee Family To Produce New Film

Excerpt from

(July 24, 2006) *The family of martial arts legend Bruce Lee plans to make his story into a movie. The announcement of the film came upon the 33rd anniversary of his death on July 20, 1973. This will be the first Bruce Lee bio-pic produced and supervised by Lee’s family. The film, tentatively titled “Bruce Lee,” will be made by Chinese film house Beijing Jian Yongjia and will be based on the upcoming biography penned by Lee’s brother, Lee Chun-fai. The film company released a statement in regard to the upcoming film about how this project will delve into the little-known facts and truths about the life of Bruce Lee. "Bruce Lee died young, but stories about him haven't stopped surfacing for 30 years. A lot of them were rumours fed by rumours and exaggerated. Bruce Lee's family didn't make its opinions known because they understood people's passion about Bruce Lee," the statement said.  Lensing for the film is scheduled to start early next year with a green-lighted budget of $12.5 million. Media buzz has mentioned the name Stephen Chow, a comedic actor and star of “Shaolin Soccer,” to play the role of the legend. The book comes on Bruce Lee’s birthday Nov. 25, to be followed by the movie, a series of films and documentaries, and TV shows.  A native of Hong Kong, Lee died at age 32 from swelling of the brain. He is known for films in which he portrayed characters that defended the Chinese and working class from oppressors.

De Palma Flick To Open 2006 Venice Film Festival

Source: Associated Press

(July 25, 2006) Rome — Brian De Palma's
The Black Dahlia will make its world premiere at the prestigious Venice Film Festival on Aug. 30. The movie, starring Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank and Josh Harnett, is based on James Ellroy's novel about the mysterious killing of a fledging actress, nicknamed the Black Dahlia, in 1940s Los Angeles. The festival runs from Aug. 30 through Sept. 9 at Venice's Lido. Last year's festival saw the world debut of two much-discussed movies: Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain and George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck. This year's full program is expected to be unveiled this week. AP

Tyler Perry Secretly Runs Hollywood

Excerpt from

(July 26, 2006) *Madea brought her housedress and .22 pistol to Hollywood and put the entire industry in a headlock as if it was her bothersome next door neighbour, Brown.   According to BusinessWeek magazine,
Tyler Perry’s role as Madea in two films adapted from his successful stage plays has placed him above all other actors, including Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp and Adam Sandler, as yielding the highest return on investments made by movie studios. The distinction also gives Perry's ROI (Return on Investments) Award. Neither Perry’s "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" in 2005, nor his "Madea's Family Reunion" earlier this year passed the $100 million mark that signifies blockbusters, but each film cost under $6 million to produce. You do the math.   “As any first-year business student knows, a return on investment is a measure of benefit a company gets for the money it spends to do business,” explains BusinessWeek. “Expressed as a percentage or ratio, it is derived by dividing the benefit of the investment (i.e. the return) by the cost of the investment. In Hollywood terms, that's like trying to catch water in your hand. Costs are hard to get and even harder to decipher in the fantasy world of Hollywood accounting, while the returns are often shared with everyone from producers who once worked on the project to actors with enough pull to demand it.” In researching the ROI award, used published reports of cost estimates provided by the Web site and applied the 2005 average marketing cost of $36 million a film.   The site adds: “We also applied the rule of thumb that a studio typically gets the proceeds from approximately half the tickets sold at the U.S. box office and the overall take from the box office is roughly one-third of the money a studio earns after a film has gone to play overseas and becomes a DVD or movie on pay TV.”



Awards Soothe Emmy Snubs

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(Jul. 24, 2006) The 22nd
Television Critics Association Awards were presented last night here at the Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel, with My Name is Earl being named Outstanding New Program and Grey's Anatomy Program of the Year.  As voted on by 200-plus members of the TCA, representing newspapers, magazines and websites from across North America, the increasingly influential awards often address the oversights of the annual Emmy selections. This year especially, with the Emmys — despite a procedural overhaul — considered to be particularly far off the mark.  As a result, the TCAs tend to be very well-attended; this year's ceremony, hosted by 24's Mary Lynn Rajskub, had several cast members from Earl and Grey's on hand to celebrate their wins, with Hugh Laurie in the House to accept his second consecutive award for Individual Achievement in Drama, as well as Steve Carell, doubly honoured for The Office as Outstanding Comedy and himself for Individual Achievement in same.  Lost was named Outstanding Drama for the second year running.  Aaron Sorkin and John Wells accepted the Heritage Award for The West Wing, citing its cultural and social impact, and the association also honoured comedy icon Carol Burnett for her Career Achievement.  PBS's Frontline took the News & Information category; High School Musical won for Children's Programming; and Martin Scorsese's American Masters doc, Bob Dylan: No Direction Home was named top Movie, Miniseries or Special.

NBC won the most TCA Awards this year, with four ... but they've got some work to do on all but one of their new shows (Heroes) if they hope to make a similar showing next season.  Some highlights of the last few days of NBC presentations:

Studio 60/30 Rock/SNL: The network's two Saturday Night Live-derived series are as different as night and day. Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is an hour dramedy, a prestige production with a kick-ass cast, headed by Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. The pilot, nonetheless, feels occasionally strained.  SNL's own SNL clone, the half-hour sitcom 30 Rock, is produced by Lorne Michaels and writer/star Tina Fey, and in its current form serves primarily as evidence of how hilarious Alec Baldwin can be, and how annoying Tracy Morgan is. An underused and miscast Rachel Dratch will have her role rewritten.  Neither Fey nor Dratch will return to the SNL mothershow, for which Michaels says he's planning the usual on-air Update auditions, along with further cast and content tweaking.

Twenty Good Years: Another example of the personnel out-classing the material, this high-concept sitcom quite brilliantly teams the over-the-top hammy John Lithgow with the slyly underplaying Jeffrey Tambor as odd-couple buddies — a doctor and a judge, respectively — reluctantly facing retirement.  Again, a disappointing pilot, but a cast and concept full of potential.

Heroes: This one rocks right out of the box: a superhero series for smart people, and the answer to the question, "What if Mutant X had actually been really, really good?" Subtly scripted, leisurely plotted, slickly produced, evocatively and attractively acted.  It's the old story: ordinary folks around the world suddenly discover they have super-powers (an invulnerable cheerleader, a psychic artist, a telepathic cop ...). You'll recognize several of them: Gilmore Girls's Milo Ventimiglia, Judging Amy's Adrian Pasdar, Alias's Greg Grunberg, and adorable über-geek Masi Oka (Scrubs).  It is already emerging as a sentimental favourite.

Kidnapped: Yet another great cast, with Tim Hutton and Dana Delany as the wealthy parents of a kidnapped young son, Delroy Lindo as the investigating cop, Jeremy Sisto as a passionately dedicated freelancer and Mykelti Williamson as the boy's bodyguard.  There are an awful lot of serialized dramas this season and, though this is potentially one of the better ones, there is only so much "appointment television" that people will be willing and able to commit to.

Friday Night Lights: Texas-set high-school football drama, produced, written and directed by Peter Berg, based on his feature film. The only actors I recognize are Kyle Chandler (King Kong, Grey's Anatomy) and Connie Britton (Spin City, 24, repeating her role from the original film). But then, I'm not exactly the desired demographic.

Carol Burnett Honoured By TV Critics

Source:  Associated Press

(July 24, 2006) Pasadena, Calif. —
Carol Burnett, whose long-running variety show became a TV classic, has received a career achievement award from the Television Critics Association. "Does this mean I'll never get another bad review?" the 73-year-old actress-comedian joked Sunday as she accepted the honour. Burnett went on to recount how The Carol Burnett Show, which aired from 1967-78, got started. A pay-or-play clause in her contract with CBS for 30 hour-long variety shows was about to run out and she decided to exercise it. The network, she said, wasn't thrilled. A CBS executive told her that variety was the proper domain of male stars like Jackie Gleason, Sid Caesar and Milton Berle and suggested she consider a proposed sitcom titled Here's Agnes, Burnett said. "I'm so glad I didn't do Here's Agnes," she said, dryly. The variety show represented "the greatest years of my professional life" and the TV critics' honour rightly belongs to the show's cast and crew, she said. Burnett, also a singer, starred in a series of musical specials with guests including Julie Andrews, Beverly Sills and Dolly Parton and in three TV adaptations of the Broadway musical Once Upon a Mattress, most recently in 2005. Earlier this year she was a guest star on Desperate Housewives.

Also honoured Sunday were actors Hugh Laurie of Fox's House and Steve Carell of NBC's The Office," who received awards for individual achievement in drama and comedy, respectively. The group, which includes more than 200 reporters and columnists working in U.S. and Canadian print media, voted a heritage award to The West Wing. Series creator Aaron Sorkin called the honour "an incredible compliment" to all those involved in the White House drama that wrapped up its seven-year run on NBC last season. Sorkin also called it a tribute to "the memory of the unforgettable John Spencer," who played Leo McGarry in the series and who died of a heart attack in December 2005 at age 58. Other TCA winners were:

Grey's Anatomy, ABC, program of the year.
My Name Is Earl, NBC, best new program.
Lost, ABC, best achievement in drama.
The Office, NBC, best achievement in comedy.
Frontline, PBS, best achievement in news and information.
High School Musical, Disney Channel, best achievement in children's programming.
American Masters: Bob Dylan — No Direction Home, PBS, best achievement in movies, miniseries and specials.

Puerto Rican Teen Crowned Miss Universe

Source:  Associated Press, By Beth Harris

(July 24, 2006) LOS ANGELES - An 18-year-old from Puerto Rico who hopes to someday star in U.S. and Latin American films has been crowned as
Miss Universe 2006.  Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza shared a nervous emotional hug with first runner-up, Kurara Chibana of Japan, moments before the winner was announced, then clasped her hands to her mouth in amazement as her name was called Sunday night. She beamed as the crown was placed on her head.  "I always had faith and confidence in myself, but I never knew I was going to win," Rivera, speaking in Spanish from the stage, said in her first remarks as Miss Universe.  The winner, who is from Salinas, on the Caribbean island's southern coast, said she would continue the pageant's mission of promoting awareness and education about AIDS and HIV.  "I want to tell those people there's always problems in life, but there's always possibilities to improve things," she said.  Also finishing in the top five were second runner-up Lauriane Gillieron of Switzerland, third runner-up Lourdes Arevalos of Paraguay, and fourth runner-up Tara Conner of the United States.  In her pageant biography, Rivera explained what made her different from the other contestants.

"Physically, I have been told by modelling agencies and friends that I represent the consummate Latino look," she said. ``Everything in my face expresses our heritage, our music and the wonderful mixes of races that we are."  Rivera is the first winner from Puerto Rico since Denise Quinones in 2001, and the fifth overall in the pageant's 55-year history.  The field of 86 was actually narrowed to 20 last week during preliminary judging in the contest's swimsuit, evening gown and interview categories, but finalists weren't announced until Sunday's show was under way, allowing all 86 to be introduced to the television audience.  Lia Andrea Ramos of Philippines was chosen most photogenic in an online vote by the public. Angela Asare of Ghana won the congeniality award in a vote by all 86 contestants. Chibana, who carried the impressive looking Samurai sword, won the award for best national costume.  "They were probably afraid not to pick Miss Japan or she would use that sword," quipped Carson Kressley of TV's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, who provided commentary along with 2004 Miss USA Shandi Finnessey. Opera singer Vittorio Grigolo and Latin singer Chelo provided musical performances.  The pageant began with the top 20 finalists' names being announced early in the show. Then their scores were discarded and competition began again, with the field gradually narrowed throughout the night.  As soon as the final 20 had been selected, they immediately strutted across the stage in skimpy two-piece bikinis for the swimsuit competition.  After being narrowed to the final 10, the competition moved to evening gowns, with the smiling contestants walking across the stage to music provided by Grigolo.

The winner travels the world for a year on behalf of charities and pageant sponsors.  Last year's winner, Natalie Glebova of Canada crowned Rivera with a diamond-and-pearl-studded headpiece valued at $250,000 US.  "My year as Miss Universe has meant more to me than I can express," said Glebova, who began her reign with a trip to South Africa where she publicly took an HIV test.  "I have travelled the world on behalf of various HIV/AIDS organizations, promoting education, research and legislation, and I walk away from this experience feeling like I truly made an impact."  "Access Hollywood" host Nancy O'Dell and actor-singer Carlos Ponce were emcees of the 55th annual pageant, broadcast live on NBC.  The celebrity judging panel included actor James Lesure of Las Vegas; Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry; actress Bridgette Wilson Sampras; Sean Yazbeck, newest winner of The Apprentice; former Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith; anchor Maria Celeste Arraras of Telemundo's Al Rojo Vivo; Claudia Jordan, briefcase model on Deal or No Deal; fashion photographer Patrick McMullan, and 2003 Miss Universe Amelia Vega.  The pageant was last held in the United States in 1998, when the show originated from Honolulu.

Miss Puerto Rico Crowned Miss Universe, Collapses

Source:  Canadian Press, By Bernie Woodall

(July 24, 2006) Forty minutes into her reign as Miss Universe, Miss Puerto Rico Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza collapsed during a post-pageant news conference and was rushed offstage on Sunday night. Pageant officials immediately said the lithe 5-foot-9 18-year-old was all right and had fainted. "She's OK. She's fine," pageant representative Lark Anton told Reuters. "She got dizzy. It's very hot up here. Her dress is tight - as you could see it was beaded and heavy. She passed out." Anton said Mendoza "had plenty to eat today," when pressed for the beauty queen's condition before she fainted at the center of the stage at the Shrine Auditorium, where she had become the 55th Miss Universe before an international television audience less than an hour earlier. Mendoza attended the pageant's Coronation Ball after recovering from her collapse, according to guests including Donald Trump, co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization. "Yes, she's fine," Trump said as he left. The Puerto Rican beauty queen was named Miss Universe 2006 over runner-up Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana, 24. Second runner-up was Miss Switzerland Lauriane Gillieron, 21. Rounding out the top five were Miss Paraguay Lourdes Arevalos, 22, and Miss United States, 20-year-old Tara Conner.

The youngest of the five finalists, Mendoza appeared radiant as she waved to photographers several minutes before collapsing. Most of the press had left by the time she fainted. Having lingered on stage, Mendoza was leaning on some assistants when her face fell to her chest, her new tiara atop her head. Tottering on high, spiky heels, she appeared to lean in this fashion for about 10 seconds and, at 8:38 p.m., collapsed in the arms of pageant assistants. She was rushed offstage while the organizer of a post-pageant press conference called for aid. "Is there a nurse in the house? Can a nurse come to the stage," said the announcer, who was not identified. Within a minute, Anton said Mendoza was fine and had merely fainted. During her news conference, Mendoza said she would carry out the work of the Miss Universe Organization, which is to work to help those with HIV/AIDS. The Miss Universe contest was held at the fabled Shrine Auditorium near downtown Los Angeles. It was a homecoming of sorts. The first Miss Universe pageant was held about 25 miles away in Long Beach, California, in 1952. Ending her year as Miss Universe was Canadian Natalie Glebova, who was born in Russia.

TV Critics Give `T-Bag' A Hand

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(Jul. 26, 2006)  He may be a slimy, sociopath little weasel, but he knows when to keep his mouth shut.  
Rob Knepper is in fact an absolute sweetheart, a 46-year-old character actor from Fremont, Ohio, with a lovely wife, Tori, and an adorable toddler, Ben, both of whom are travelling with him, and 20 years worth of diverse TV credits, from L.A. Law to Murder She Wrote to Star Trek to Carnivale. And films, including Good Night, and Good Luck.  But to the viewing public at large — and the cluster of gushing critics who now surround him — he is "T-Bag," a.k.a. Theodore Bagwell, the man we have come to love to hate as the baddest of the bad on Prison Break.  With the surprise-hit serial drama's second season set to start on Fox Aug. 21, the network has followed its preview press conference here with an informal poolside dinner with the attending cast — tablecloths for the occasion an entirely appropriate prison-issue orange.  Or rather, formerly appropriate ... as we know, at the end of last season, eight of the inmates of the fictitious Fox River prison finally, successfully, made their break for freedom. Which means this season the prevailing motif will switch from Escape from Alcatraz to a kind of multiple take on The Fugitive.  With Knepper as the one-armed man. Fans will also recall that the duplicitous T-Bag lost a hand to the vengeful mobster Abruzzi in last season's cliffhanger finale.  Knepper is unable to even get near the buffet table, inundated with questions about T-Bag's fate: Do they re-attach the hand? Does he finally exact his revenge? Do they find D.B. Cooper's $5 million? Why is his spiky hair now white-blond?

Knepper isn't saying. He knows we don't really want to know.  "I'll say the same thing to you that I say to my wife when she wants to know what's going to happen next Monday night," he grins. "I say, `I don't want to give you your Christmas present too early.'  "People have been desperate ... more than any other show I've worked on, people want to know what's happening. It's a constant thing for us. And it's hard to not give you that present. But at the same time, you'll thank us, because when you watch it, you'll go, `Ah!'"  (Okay, we'll give you one little spoiler: no one will confirm this, but actress Sarah Wayne Callies is still prominently listed on the second-season cast list, which means it is fairly safe to assume that, appearances to the contrary, the dishy doctor Sara Tancredi is not yet quite dead.)  With the boys now out on the lam, the show has opened up beyond the grey walls of its former Chicago prison location to the wide-open spaces and urban places of Dallas, Tex. And, hot on their collective tail, an addition to the cast, William Fichtner, freshly sprung from the cancelled Invasion to play a single-minded FBI agent.


CTV's Ben Mulroney appointed national ambassador for UNICEF Canada

Source:  Canadian Press

(July 26, 2006) TORONTO (CP) -
Ben Mulroney, host of CTV's Canadian Idol and ETalk, has been appointed as a national ambassador for UNICEF Canada, the network and children's agency announced Tuesday.  Among his responsibilities will be to serve as spokesperson for this year's trick-or-treat for UNICEF campaign. The Halloween campaign will see Canadian children raising funds to help give kids in Malawi, in southeastern Africa, the chance to go to school. Mulroney will also go on a field trip to Malawi.  Mulroney, who interviews high-profile celebrities and covers red carpet events for ETalk, holds degrees in law and history. His father is former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.  "When UNICEF Canada approached me with this opportunity, I jumped at the chance," he said in a news release.  "I am committed to doing whatever I can to help UNICEF in its work to restore childhoods and build futures for children around the world."  Other high-profile Canadians on the UNICEF spokesperson roster are CTV Newsnet anchor Kate Wheeler, Olympic gold medallist Beckie Scott and former prima ballerina and producer Veronica Tennant.  UNICEF Canada began in 1955 in support of UNICEF's work for children in 155 countries and territories and build awareness among Canadians about issues facing the world's children.  Its trick-or-treat for UNICEF campaign raises over $3 million a year.  On the Net:

Tina Fey Signs Off From Saturday Night Live

Source:  Associated Press

(July 24, 2006) Burbank, Calif. —
Tina Fey is leaving the anchor chair at Saturday Night Live. Fey says she's quitting the show after six seasons as head writer and co-anchor of the Weekend Update fake news segment to focus on her new NBC prime-time series, 30 Rock. "The new show's going to take a lot of time," Fey said while appearing on Friday night's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Fey, 36, first joined Saturday Night Live as a writer in 1997 and became head writer in 1999. Fey plays the head writer of a fictional late-night sketch show in 30 Rock, a show she developed for NBC that also stars Alec Baldwin. AP



Actor's Good Buddy Saves Holly Musical

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic


By Alan Janes, Rob Bettinson and Buddy Holly. Directed by John Mueller. Until Sept. 17 at Stage West, 5400 Dixie Rd., Mississauga. 905-238-0042

(Jul. 21, 2006) If you're going to produce
Buddy, then the first thing you need is a terrific guy to play Buddy Holly.  Fortunately, the production that opened last night at Stage West in Mississauga has just that in Christian Bellsmith.  Not only is he an excellent singer and guitarist, but he radiates that beaming boyish charm and incandescent love of performing that made Holly such a star in his all-too-brief career.  The rest of the show soars when it sings and slumps when it speaks, but that's more the fault of the cardboard biographical book by Alan Janes and Rob Bettinson than the performers.  Holly's life was amazing for how much happened to him professionally and how little took place personally.  Born in 1936 in Lubbock, Texas, he grew up wanting only to perform. Together with two hometown buddies, he formed a band called The Crickets that broke through the then narrow conventions of country music to crash through to the other side, into full-blown rock 'n' roll.  So persuasively funky was Holly's sound that when he made his debut at Harlem's Apollo Theatre, the management was stunned to discover he was actually white.  In one year, Holly had 15 hit records (notably "Peggy Sue" and "That'll Be the Day") and was on his way to superstardom, when he perished in a tragic plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959, on his way to the next tour stop after playing a concert in Clear Lake, Iowa.  Also killed were two other pop stars of the day, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, a.k.a. "The Big Bopper."

Years later, Don MacLean would call it "the day the music died" in his iconic song, "American Pie."  That hit provided a sad coda to a shockingly brief career, but aside from that fact — and a few routine music-business squabbles — there wasn't much of interest take place in Holly's life.  Janes and Bettinson try to patch the musical numbers together with a series of tired devices: radio interviews and disc jockey reports. The scenes don't exactly flow into each other and the clunky staging of John Mueller doesn't help matters.  Some of the cast (John Devorski and Kent Sheridan) know how to put some meat on the dramatic bones they've been given, but players in a lot of the smaller roles overact mightily, thinking it will help. It doesn't.  Fortunately, most of the show is music, especially the last half of Act II, which recreates that final concert in Clear Lake.  When Bellsmith and the boys are rockin' and rollin', everything is just fine and there's plenty to enjoy.  Stephen Foster is awesome as Jerry, the drum-playing Cricket, and Melanie Phillipson provides strong keyboard licks.  Jon-Alex MacFarlane captures the sexual energy of Ritchie Valens when he does "La Bomba," while Jim Soper has the perfect outsized energy to bring the Big Bopper's novelty hit "Chantilly Lace" back to life.  But in the end, it's Bellsmith who carries the evening. With his thick-framed black glasses, goofy grin and total sincerity, he wins you over time and again.  From the sweetness of "Everyday", through the bitter edge of "That'll Be the Day", he lets you glimpse the Buddy Holly who hid inside his songs.  And when the entire company joins in for a joyous celebration of "Johnny B. Goode," you may want to disagree with MacLean.  The music didn't really die; not if there are people around to play and sing it like this.

Livin' La Dolce Vita

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Scott Deveau

(July 26, 2006) Toronto's most cutting-edge theatre can apparently be found in Vancouver, Montreal and St. John's -- at least, according to an Italian theatre festival taking place early this fall. Every year, the Teatro della Limonaia, a theatre company based outside Florence, claims to select the works of one city to feature at its Intercity Festival. In the past, the annual festival has featured cities such as Budapest, Berlin, Sao Paulo and Paris. This year, the festival decided to showcase Toronto. "The most successful editions are cities we don't know well. Like when we came to Montreal [in 1992], we didn't actually know were Montreal was," said the festival's artistic director, Dimitri Milopulos, speaking from a refurbished lemon orchard in Sesto Fiorentino, where the festival is held. "We just fell in love with Canada." Mr. Milopulos led a four-person team to Toronto this past November to troll texts, talk to people in the theatre community and see as many plays as possible.  "When we go to a place, we don't care about who is well-known or who is not. We just care about the quality," he said. "What we want to do is open a window here, to show what's happening in Toronto." What the company actually found for Intercity Toronto 2006 was a smattering of Torontonians -- and a handful of out-of-towners. The festival bill includes such local content as a play directed by Dora Mavor Moore Award-winning David Ferry and readings of pieces by Judith Thompson and Antonio Salvatore, but it also includes work from Vancouver dancer Peter Bingham, St. John's director Jillian Keiley and Montreal playwrights Rick Miller and Daniel Brook. "When we give a name to a festival, in this case, Toronto, we just see the city of Toronto as a mirror of the country," Mr. Milopulos said, adding that this year's festival is intended to reflect English theatre in Canada, much as Montreal's was meant to reflect francophone theatre. This umbrella approach is not unique to Canada, Mr. Milopulos said. When the festival showcased Moscow, one of the most successful plays actually came from St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, it is a little uncomfortable for the non-Torontonians who have been selected to participate.

Ms. Keiley, artistic director of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, was working in Toronto when the Italian company visited and asked her to develop a play with an all-Italian theatre troupe. The working title is The Hole That's Remaining -- "or whatever that is in Italian," she said. Ms. Keiley will be heading to Florence to work on her play in September, before the festival opens on Oct. 4.  When Teatro della Limonaia first approached her to participate in the festival, Ms. Keiley told the company that she couldn't do it because she wasn't from Toronto. She was worried she would take heat from the local theatre community. "They said, 'Yeah, we know, but we're never going to do Intercity St. John's,' " she said. "I knew I'd be crucified, but I couldn't say no." Mr. Ferry, whose production, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, won five Dora awards last year, was selected after Mr. Milopulos's team saw the play in the Distillery District. He was asked to direct Alias Godot, an absurdist comedy by 27-year-old Toronto playwright Brendan Gall. The play, which speculates that Samuel Beckett's Godot was actually held up by dirty New York cops, has never been performed in English, let alone in Italian. Mr. Ferry has just gotten back from Italy, where he went to cast the play despite not knowing any Italian. He attended the auditions with a translated copy of the work to accompany the original English text, struggling to follow both scripts while trying to watch the auditions. But his apprehensions were dispelled after casting for the play was complete. It was a hoot," Mr. Ferry said. "Actors are actors," he added. "In the end, with my Italian colleagues, I would go back over the audition notes and ask their opinions. And we were on similar wavelengths the whole time.  "For an artist," Mr. Ferry continued, "when someone from another country recognizes your work and says, 'We really want to work with you,' it's very exciting."


Toronto And London Deliver A Plan To Give The Urban Arts A Booster Shot

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Val Ross

(July 24, 2006) At noon today, when Toronto
Mayor David Miller and Ontario tourism minister Jim Bradley turn up in the gleaming precincts of the MaRS (Medical and Related Sciences) Centre adjacent to Toronto General Hospital, it won't be to tell the nation about some breakthrough in avian flu or nanotechnology. Instead, these worthies, joined by such non-medical figures as the City of Toronto poet laureate Pier Giorgio di Cicco, are gathering to hail a well-known but underutilized steroid for the soul of urban Canada: creativity. The prescription the report's authors are officially unveiling is a 40-page document, Imagine a Toronto. . . Strategies for a Creative City. Its recommendations could be applied as easily to Vancouver or Halifax, and they arrive at a key moment in strenuous nationwide efforts to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into new theatre, gallery, museum and concert spaces. But even if our cities do a heroic job of building and paying for all this, without the right long-term policies to attract and make space for artists, audiences will dwindle, patrons will move away and the buildings will stand idle. And if cities can't also support talent in 21st-century creative industries like video-game development, biomedical imaging or software design -- well, depression, urban decay and slow death loom. So the argument goes. The Strategies for a Creative City report, two years and $600,000 in the making, was developed in partnership with Creative London, a parallel English project. The team that put it together went to see what's going on in Barcelona, Berlin, New York and San Francisco (Toronto put up $150,000, as did two Ontario provincial ministries; the rest came from the London Development Agency). The report words its prescription as a challenge to "Imagine a Toronto" -- as in, imagine a city that offers people under age 20 free access to museums and galleries. Imagine a city that pumps money into music, dance, filmmaking, theatre and creative writing classes in grade school. Imagine a city that keeps open community centres and public schools at night and on weekends, turning them over to local artists and inventors to work on anything from photography to fashion.

There's policy-wonkish advice, too, such as creating a mortgage investment fund for creative industries, establishing a design commissioner, or offering tax credits for firms that hire designers. Says team member Helen Burstyn, chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, "There's no reason a city can't do for design what Toronto has done for film." If a city were to adopt such recommendations, the report's authors say they could rejuvenate a listless local economy, stimulate a region's ability to attract and retain innovators, inject growth hormones into home-grown talent and build strong, sturdy communities. These prescriptions echo the thinking of American urban guru Richard Florida (author of The Rise of the Creative Class), which isn't surprising: He and the new report's project director, Meric Gertler, have collaborated before. In 2002, they ranked North American cities in terms of their "Bohemian Index" (openness, tolerance, ability to attract immigrants, artists and entrepreneurs, and the percentage of the work force in arts-related pursuits). Vancouver came first, with Toronto and Victoria behind -- far ahead of Montreal and U.S. cities. While researching this latest report, Gertler (a professor of geography and scholar at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto) confirmed those earlier observations. The overheated U.S. real-estate market is hurting many artists now. Not only can artists and musicians not afford to live in San Francisco, even teacher-headed households are now priced out of 98 per cent of the area, says the July 16 San Francisco Chronicle, which also reported, "Sky-high housing prices empty cities of all but 'fauxhemians' . . . trust-fund hipsters and those who fund their bohemian lifestyles through corporate jobs they can't stand." New York has the same problems. "Obviously there's a huge critical mass of creative activity there, but it shows what not to do," says Gertler. "They're letting escalating real-estate costs force artists to flee to the boroughs." Even though New York supports a large department of cultural affairs, he says, there's no city-wide strategy to protect the supply of living or studio space. Such affordable corners as artists can still find are tenuous. One New York developer bought derelict buildings in a forlorn corner of Brooklyn known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and offered space to artists for free -- but only so that they could serve as settlers in cultural outposts until he was ready to convert the spaces to high-end residential use.

Gertler's impressed by the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Centre, "an incredible old building on the Brooklyn waterfront that has filled up with people like carpenters working on opera sets, and displays for department-store windows. But the Brooklyn waterfront has been rezoned to permit large-scale resident development. Greenpoint is the last bastion." American cities offered other lessons in what not to do. "In the late 1970s, California imposed radical caps on property tax," notes Gertler, "with the result that for 30 years public schools were underfunded, and arts education cut. A generation of teachers didn't even know how to teach the arts." Finally Silicon Valley's genius nerds, who played music and devoured sci-fi in their spare time, grew alarmed. With private funding from high-tech dynasties such as the Hewletts and Packards, the Cultural Initiative Silicon Valley launched a five-year scheme to bring back classes in dance, music and art. Europe is a richer source of inspiration than the U.S. The London government's "creative hub" strategy targets down-and-dirty neighbourhoods such as Brixton and Whitechapel, setting up incubators for local businesses and real-estate information centres, and promoting locally made work. "It shows the importance of a non-market intervention," says Gertler. With its revitalized waterfront and fizzing art-gallery scene, Barcelona is another model city. But its real lessons are about how a catalytic project, such as the 1992 Olympics, can align right-wing business leaders and left-wing city politicians to work together -- something that could and should happen in Vancouver. In Toronto, the process of creating the Strategies for a Creative Citydocument has been a catalyst. Its 17-member leadership team was chosen to include media, the province, the city and the private, academic and non-profit sectors. "You need multi-stakeholder buy-in -- the last thing I wanted was to write a report that would gather dust," Gertler says.

Toronto's Graffiti Tag-Of-War

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Alwynne Gwilt, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 22, 2006) On an average Toronto morning, two groups of people are removing graffiti from walls, but for opposite reasons.  In the colourful alleyways near Spadina Ave. on Queen St. W., a crew of volunteers is hard at work priming the walls for this weekend's
Style in Progress event, which will bring more than 100 graffiti artists back to these alleys to repaint the surfaces in their eclectic styles.  Meanwhile just a few blocks away, at Bathurst St. north of Queen, Kirk Chapman is priming up for a day of hard work, which also involves painting over graffiti.  The difference? Chapman works for Goodbye Graffiti, a company whose sole purpose is to clear the city of graffiti. It claims to be able to get the paint off of any surface, without harming the building, a promise that has gained the franchise more than 700 customers since starting about three years ago.  And unlike the artists preparing for this year's festival, Chapman hopes these bricks will stay free of spray paint.  "In a way it's a very thankless job but it's gratifying that when you see the graffiti come down, you see the way the building — especially older, historic buildings — should be," says Chapman.  On this morning he's got a daylong job ahead of him, removing tags — or artists' spray-painted names — from 36 metres of brick wall at 216 Bathurst St. Dressed in white painter-style overalls, large green rubber gloves on his hands, he dunks his wire brush into the bucket of amber goo and begins working the substance into the faded paint.  But Chapman — who grew up in the 1980s when graffiti was gaining ground — says he's not opposed to all styles.

"The piece work that is actually done well I don't mind," he says while the now peachy-orange chemical fizzles and begins breaking down the paint's binders.  One of the owners of Goodbye Graffiti's Toronto franchise, John Kalimeris, is also on site. He's not as lenient as Chapman.  "I was one of the masses where you're just so used to seeing it that you don't pay attention to it; now all I see is graffiti," says Kalimeris, the sunshine reflecting off his Ray-Bans. "It's a crime; they're putting vandalism on property without permission."  On the opposite wall is a mural done by a community centre. This artwork is different, he says, since it beautifies the city.  "(Murals) hide ugly graffiti ... but then in comes the night time and out come the taggers to destroy (them)," says Kalimeris, whose company is now busy enough to run four trucks on two shifts.  A Toronto bylaw, which began to be seriously enforced just over 18 months ago, makes it clear that a property owner or occupant must keep their building graffiti-free. Murals may be exempted, with prior approval.  "Graffiti should be taken off a building as soon as you notice it," says Fernando Aceto, a co-ordinator with municipal licensing and standards for the city. "They (taggers) just want to advertise their works and their name; even if they get a day, that's great for them."  But even Aceto concedes that graffiti removed today will probably resurface tomorrow. And even if business owners are okay with the artwork, they have to pay for the removal — the $1,000 bill for the work at 216 Bathurst will be added to the owner's property taxes.  "(If an owner) says, `I want it left there,' then he's really doing a disservice to the community who don't want it there," says Aceto.

Not surprisingly, the artists and organizers involved in Style in Progress believe the city has gone too far.  "It doesn't make any sense to say what you can and cannot have on your wall; it's your wall, it's your building, you should be able to do what you want," says Janna Van Hoof, organizer of the event. "They're defining what is art, which is totally not a place for the city."  Van Hoof says that the bylaws might ultimately be counterproductive.  "The problem is every time they take away legal wall space, more wall space that isn't legal gets hit."  The bylaw has created a culture of fear among building owners, she says.  "Now they're fearing the city is going to fine them" if they allow artists to spray-paint outdoor walls, she says. "We've lost a lot because of that bylaw."  Style in Progress organizers would love to keep last year's art intact but are forced to paint over them because they haven't been able to find another space to hold their event. To do that would require getting approval from the city and affected businesses.  "If there was another place in the city where we could get a hundred writers to paint, it would be like a community transformation project, it would be great. But not with that bylaw and not with people instilling fear," says Van Hoof, who has seen the alleyways between Portland St. and Spadina Ave. painted over four times.  Artist Angel Carrillo, 30, remembers the days when doing legal artwork wasn't so hard. Most artists had personal relationships with business owners who allowed them to use their walls for work.  "Nowadays people have to wait for events to get a green light to paint and when you do that, when you close doors like that, you're going to have guys that find a way around it," says Carrillo, who has been painting street art since 1995. "It's just a waste of money, a waste of energy (and) it's not a solution."  Both Van Hoof and Carrillo hope the events organized for today and tomorrow — including today's party at Yonge and Dundas featuring live graffiti demonstrations and breakdancing — will allow people to see that most graffiti is about the art, not about gang-related turf wars that give artists a bad name.  "If it was gang related," Van Hoof says, "we wouldn't be able to have over 100 graffiti writers painting peacefully together."

Emily Giffin - Living On A Tight Schedule

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Sarah Hampson

(July 22, 2006)
Emily Giffin loves deadlines. One was her 30th birthday. At the age of 29, she was working as an associate in the New York law office of Winston and Strawn, but wasn't happy. So she quit, moved to London, and started to write a novel. The year was 2001. "I was turning 30 the following year, and I had this sense that if I didn't do this now, I never will," she says. She gave herself a deadline: one year to complete a manuscript. She did it, and the result was the best-selling Something Borrowed, a chick-lit tale about Rachel, a Manhattan lawyer who has an affair with her best friend's fiancé.  Giffin never looked back. Last year, with the sequel, Something Blue, which took the perspective of the best friend, Darcy, Giffin was counted among the top three selling authors of women's fiction, alongside Sophie Kinsella (she of the Shopaholic novels) and Jennifer Weiner (In Her Shoes, Good in Bed). Something Borrowed has also been optioned as a movie.

Giffin's third novel,
Baby Proof, released this summer with an impressive initial print run of 300,000, has reached No. 1 in Canada and is rising on The New York Times bestseller list. Another easy summer read about love, family and the inner emotional landscape of hairpin turns and murky swamps, it concerns Claudia Parr, who marries her true love, Ben, only to discover that he has what she doesn't -- an urge to have a baby -- even though they had both decided that they would remain childless.

Giffin's deadline has been a book a year. A driven personality, fit and tiny in her jeans, cotton camisole and pointy shoes, the 34-year-old is completely present and unfailingly polite. She aims to please, whether it's an interviewer, a reader or an editor. She regularly responds to readers who e-mail her. "One of the major reasons I write commercial fiction is to connect with readers," she says. "It does wonders for writer's block when you get up in the morning and get e-mails from people who say how much they identified with your work."

She didn't even let a pregnancy with twins stop her. When she was writing Something Blue, she didn't dare tell her editors she was pregnant. "I didn't want them to fear that I'd miss the deadline," she says. She wrote a good portion of the book in the hospital, where she had to stay on bed rest for over a month at the end of the pregnancy. "I wrote it lying on my side with nurses telling me to put away my laptop," she confides with a laugh. The twins, identical boys, were born six weeks early at five pounds each. Being deadline-oriented means she loves a sense of accomplishment, she acknowledges. But it hasn't always served her well. "Going to law school was done more for the sake of achievement rather than passion," she confesses.  "I had this stellar transcript [of grades from Wake Forest University in North Carolina], so what do you do with that? You don't travel through Europe and meander and write. You go to the top law school [at the University of Virginia] because that's what you can do." But even law didn't erase the desire (and discipline) she has to write. While working full-time for the law firm, she wrote a coming-of-age novel, Lily Holding True, in her spare time. "I wrote at night and on the road. As a junior lawyer, I had to go to a lot of unglamorous places, so I took my laptop and wrote whenever I could."

It took three years to complete. She actually set off for London hoping that a publisher would accept it. But her agent at the time sent her an e-mail dashing all hope. "The agent was very mean-spirited. She wrote, 'they all rejected it,' without capitalization, without punctuation. I was devastated."  But Giffin's determination won out. "I printed out the e-mail, and saved it," she states. "I thought, 'Okay, I tried to write a book and it didn't work out, so I can either pack it up or I can try to write another one.' " Commercial success was not on her mind, Giffin says. "If I had, I would have tried to write a legal thriller." She didn't even think about chick-lit. "I didn't have marketing and pretty covers and publishers and reviewers in mind when I wrote [Something Borrowed]. I wrote with the door closed. I wrote the story I wanted to tell." Not that she minds the genre. "I think that chick-lit is just a way of saying that these books are relationship-driven and they are about who we are as sisters and friends and lovers and professional people trying to conquer our fears and tap into what we want and taking risks to get what we want." Still, for all her determination and drive, Giffin says that her writing process is highly "inefficient." She never has an outline and doesn't know how the story will unfold. She simply begins with a general concept. For Baby Proof, it was the question of whether there's a deal-breaker in true love. Then she "gets into the head of my protagonist, getting to know her, what she is about, what she wants, what is her conflict. Relationships form. Everything evolves. And it is the relationships that drive the plot." That process sometimes sends her down the wrong path. She worked on Baby Proof for almost three months with Claudia being the one who changed her mind about having a baby. "But it was flat. And it became more interesting to me when it was Ben who changed." She threw out more than 100 pages of work and started over.

Giffin writes for four hours a day in the morning. Currently living in Atlanta, where her husband, Hartley (Buddy) Blaha, is president of corporate development at Newell Rubbermaid, she has a nanny come to the house four days a week to look after her boys, now 2½ years old. On the other days, she writes in her attic office while the children nap. "I try to stay with the characters. I don't like to leave them for three days at a time. I lose them." The last five years have been a whirlwind. When she moved to London, she and Blaha were dating, but not engaged. He followed her there, found a job, and halfway through the year, moved in with her. They got engaged, married and promptly had children. With three bestsellers to her name, she is working on her fourth. But Giffin can laugh about her need for control and how she has had to learn to let life take its twists and turns just as her novels do. "I was, like, 'We're not having sex in March because we're not having a baby born during the [Christmas] holidays,' and I also thought that pregnancy with identical twins is sort of freakish. So what happens? I get pregnant in May with a due date in February, the egg splits, and they come on New Year's Eve!" It's unclear whether she managed to deliver them before the midnight deadline.

Emily's story

Born in Baltimore, Md., Emily Giffin has one older sister. Her father worked as an executive with Sears, so the family moved around a lot, later settling near Chicago. Her mother is a librarian. They divorced when Giffin was in college. "It was a friendly divorce," she says. "It would have been better if my family were more maladjusted; then I would have had more to drawn upon." She always wrote as a child. From Grade Five until she was 25 years old, she kept a daily journal. "I never had to hide it or lock it, because it was so mind-numbingly dull," she says. She still writes in a journal, but not every day.

Montreal-Born David Altmejd Talks About The Ideas Behind His Body-Part Art

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Alexandra Shimo

(July 25, 2006) Among those who pull any weight in the art world,
David Altmejd, next year's Canadian representative to the Venice Biennale, considered the most prestigious international art event, brings to mind the story of Lot's wife. Not that viewers are debilitated when they see the sculptor's dark, disquieting pieces, but they can be immobilized nevertheless. "When you see his work, you are literally stopped in your tracks," said Bruce Grenville, senior curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery and one of the three jurors who chose Altmejd to represent Canada. "You are forced to look at it and wonder. There's a richness and depth that you hope for in a lot of artists, but is very rare. They are just these wild configurations of a strange biology, geology, architecture. I find them unsettling and unpredictable. They are almost indescribable." Altmejd (pronounced Alt-MAID) is not an artist for the faint of heart. The Montreal-born sculptor has created giant figures of dead and decaying werewolves, with jewellery set in the wounds. A tangle of bones, fur, hair and crystals woven together to create seductive, powerful creatures. Paws and skulls and other indistinct body fragments covered by a synthetic pastel of fake fur. Mirrored surfaces, fake birds and gaudy bits of jewellery prevail. The effect would be kitsch, if it wasn't so deeply terrifying. "I think I'm tapped into my own self-consciousness," Altmejd said from New York, where he was visiting friends. "I make decisions in my art based on my intuition. I go beyond what is conscious and controlled. Some people see my work as dark and morbid, but I see it as more post-apocalyptic. I'm more interested in what grows out of death than death itself. Energy and life is always more palpable when it's growing on top of something that is dead."

The curator of Canada's entry for 2007 Venice Biennale, Louise Déry, said these contradictions and tensions are important reasons why Altmejd was chosen.  The Biennale draws close to one million people every year. Last year, 70 countries showcased their best artists over the six-month exhibition. In Canada, curators submit work and a jury from the Canada Council awarded Altmejd the honour last week. "He is able to create something we have never seen before," said Déry, who is also the director of the Gallery of the University of Quebec at Montreal. "The werewolves convey life out of death, in a romantic way. Even if they are bizarre, these incomplete bodies, they are really beautiful and brilliant." Bizarre is probably an understatement. Sometimes body bits are missing from these creatures, and in others, fake flowers grow from their crevices. But while it shocks, it also allures and even seduces the audience. Altmejd's touch with the glittery, if rotted, flesh is so precise and careful that audiences are drawn in, even while they are repulsed.  Altmejd has attracted notice from around the world. At 32 years of age, he has exhibited at the Istanbul Biennale (2003) and the Whitney Biennale (2004), the Frankfurter Kunstverein, the Guggenheim and Whitney collections and this year's Art Basel in Switzerland. However, the Venice Biennale will be one of his biggest challenges to date, he said. "It's very difficult to represent a whole country, but it's extremely exciting. The Venice Biennale is the most prestigious art event in the world. There are so many people who are going to see it. It's a lot pressure, but I transform that pressure into adrenaline and excitement."

Altmejd grew up in downtown Montreal, in the ethnically diverse Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood. Little of his external circumstances resonate with the disturbing and grotesque creatures that he creates. His family life was happy, stable and balanced, he said. His mother is a Catholic French Canadian and a professor of sociology at the University of Quebec at Montreal. His father, a Polish Jew, works in the import-export business. He is close to his younger sister, who lives in London and works in jewellery design. But beneath the happy exterior, Altmejd said, he felt lonely and isolated. He was shy and introverted. Often, he felt more like an observer, rather than a participant in the everyday activities of high-school life. "I felt very connected to reality, but I still considered myself an observer," he said. "I think part of it was that I'm gay. But even if I hadn't been gay, I still probably wouldn't have felt like everyone else. I enjoy being separate from the crowd, outside the mainstream." Altmejd said he wants his sculptures to have a powerful sexuality and a physical presence. Sculptures should have a raw physical power and draw us to them, like we are attracted to those whom we love, he said.  His thinking and development have been shaped by artists who share his fascination with the dismembered body, such as Kiki Smith (who taught him at Columbia University, where he received his master of fine arts in 2001), Robert Gober and Matthew Barney. David Cronenberg, who shares his fascination with death, violence and decay, is another hero. "Cronenberg talks about how the movies become like bodies that start making their own choices. I feel that is happening in my sculpture. There are things that I don't understand until after the fact."

Having seen the space at the Venice Biennale, Altmejd plans to shape his lycanthropic vision to the space inside the Canadian pavilion. The snail shape and large glass windows reminded the artist of an aviary, and he decided to combine his trademark werewolf figures with an ornithological theme. The space will be filled with stuffed birds, figures of men with bird heads and birds feeding off the dead werewolves, he said. "We are breaking the mould by exhibiting David," Déry said. "For the last 10 to 15 years, Canada has chosen more established artists to represent it at the Venice Biennale. David is not as established because he is only 32 years old, a young artist. But his werewolves are very mature and developed. They can be seen as metaphors of being, divided between good and evil. It is our own destiny we see there, and it strikes a chord with today's youth."

Montreal-Born David Altmejd Talks About The Ideas Behind His Body-Part Art

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Alexandra Shimo

(July 25, 2006) Among those who pull any weight in the art world,
David Altmejd, next year's Canadian representative to the Venice Biennale, considered the most prestigious international art event, brings to mind the story of Lot's wife. Not that viewers are debilitated when they see the sculptor's dark, disquieting pieces, but they can be immobilized nevertheless. "When you see his work, you are literally stopped in your tracks," said Bruce Grenville, senior curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery and one of the three jurors who chose Altmejd to represent Canada. "You are forced to look at it and wonder. There's a richness and depth that you hope for in a lot of artists, but is very rare. They are just these wild configurations of a strange biology, geology, architecture. I find them unsettling and unpredictable. They are almost indescribable." Altmejd (pronounced Alt-MAID) is not an artist for the faint of heart. The Montreal-born sculptor has created giant figures of dead and decaying werewolves, with jewellery set in the wounds. A tangle of bones, fur, hair and crystals woven together to create seductive, powerful creatures. Paws and skulls and other indistinct body fragments covered by a synthetic pastel of fake fur. Mirrored surfaces, fake birds and gaudy bits of jewellery prevail. The effect would be kitsch, if it wasn't so deeply terrifying. "I think I'm tapped into my own self-consciousness," Altmejd said from New York, where he was visiting friends. "I make decisions in my art based on my intuition. I go beyond what is conscious and controlled. Some people see my work as dark and morbid, but I see it as more post-apocalyptic. I'm more interested in what grows out of death than death itself. Energy and life is always more palpable when it's growing on top of something that is dead."

The curator of Canada's entry for 2007 Venice Biennale, Louise Déry, said these contradictions and tensions are important reasons why Altmejd was chosen.  The Biennale draws close to one million people every year. Last year, 70 countries showcased their best artists over the six-month exhibition. In Canada, curators submit work and a jury from the Canada Council awarded Altmejd the honour last week. "He is able to create something we have never seen before," said Déry, who is also the director of the Gallery of the University of Quebec at Montreal. "The werewolves convey life out of death, in a romantic way. Even if they are bizarre, these incomplete bodies, they are really beautiful and brilliant." Bizarre is probably an understatement. Sometimes body bits are missing from these creatures, and in others, fake flowers grow from their crevices. But while it shocks, it also allures and even seduces the audience. Altmejd's touch with the glittery, if rotted, flesh is so precise and careful that audiences are drawn in, even while they are repulsed.  Altmejd has attracted notice from around the world. At 32 years of age, he has exhibited at the Istanbul Biennale (2003) and the Whitney Biennale (2004), the Frankfurter Kunstverein, the Guggenheim and Whitney collections and this year's Art Basel in Switzerland. However, the Venice Biennale will be one of his biggest challenges to date, he said. "It's very difficult to represent a whole country, but it's extremely exciting. The Venice Biennale is the most prestigious art event in the world. There are so many people who are going to see it. It's a lot pressure, but I transform that pressure into adrenaline and excitement."

Altmejd grew up in downtown Montreal, in the ethnically diverse Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood. Little of his external circumstances resonate with the disturbing and grotesque creatures that he creates. His family life was happy, stable and balanced, he said. His mother is a Catholic French Canadian and a professor of sociology at the University of Quebec at Montreal. His father, a Polish Jew, works in the import-export business. He is close to his younger sister, who lives in London and works in jewellery design. But beneath the happy exterior, Altmejd said, he felt lonely and isolated. He was shy and introverted. Often, he felt more like an observer, rather than a participant in the everyday activities of high-school life. "I felt very connected to reality, but I still considered myself an observer," he said. "I think part of it was that I'm gay. But even if I hadn't been gay, I still probably wouldn't have felt like everyone else. I enjoy being separate from the crowd, outside the mainstream." Altmejd said he wants his sculptures to have a powerful sexuality and a physical presence. Sculptures should have a raw physical power and draw us to them, like we are attracted to those whom we love, he said.  His thinking and development have been shaped by artists who share his fascination with the dismembered body, such as Kiki Smith (who taught him at Columbia University, where he received his master of fine arts in 2001), Robert Gober and Matthew Barney. David Cronenberg, who shares his fascination with death, violence and decay, is another hero. "Cronenberg talks about how the movies become like bodies that start making their own choices. I feel that is happening in my sculpture. There are things that I don't understand until after the fact."

Having seen the space at the Venice Biennale, Altmejd plans to shape his lycanthropic vision to the space inside the Canadian pavilion. The snail shape and large glass windows reminded the artist of an aviary, and he decided to combine his trademark werewolf figures with an ornithological theme. The space will be filled with stuffed birds, figures of men with bird heads and birds feeding off the dead werewolves, he said. "We are breaking the mould by exhibiting David," Déry said. "For the last 10 to 15 years, Canada has chosen more established artists to represent it at the Venice Biennale. David is not as established because he is only 32 years old, a young artist. But his werewolves are very mature and developed. They can be seen as metaphors of being, divided between good and evil. It is our own destiny we see there, and it strikes a chord with today's youth."

A Good News, Bad News Issue

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - James Adams

(July 25, 2006) The United States is "a paper tiger," Chairman Mao once observed, and nowhere is this more evident than in the decline and semi-fall of the U.S. magazine business in this country. True, as a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows,
Canadian periodicals continue to occupy only about 15 per cent of the rack space in any decent Canadian newsstand, with U.S. titles taking up most of the remaining 85 per cent. But in the past quarter-century, the total number of these titles purchased by Canadians has dropped by 30 per cent, while the average circulation per American title has been slashed in half, to 13,243 in 2005 from 26,303 in 1983. It's a decline that has become especially noticeable in the past five or six years. And it has resulted in higher percentages of sales for domestic publications. Indeed, in a presentation last December to the Ontario government's budget secretariat, Magazines Canada, the association representing more than 300 commercial titles, proclaimed that "roughly 50 per cent of all magazine sales in Canada" can now be attributed to Canadian periodicals. Just last month, the Audit Bureau of Circulations released a survey of circulation numbers for more than 500 U.S. magazines available in Canada. Comparing results from the first six months of 2005 with those from the same time period in 2004, it discovered that 90 of the 150 top U.S. titles experienced drops in what the industry calls its "Canadian spill." While it would be nice to report that Canadian magazines are picking up the resultant slack and, to mix metaphors, increasing their share of the periodical pie, that is not entirely the case. According to Magazines Canada, the circulation of Canadian periodicals has increased more than 45 per cent since 1995 -- proof for Gary Garland, Magazine Canada's director of advertising services, that, even in the face of overwhelming American numerical superiority, "Canadians do like to read Canadian-based magazines, if the quality is there and they can get their hands on it easily." At the same time, he added, Canadians are "actually producing new magazines of interest to Canadians in categories that were traditionally U.S.-led, and taking business from them."

However, as a Statistics Canada analyst noted recently, "magazine circulation in general has been going down in Canada," regardless of a publication's country of origin. A recent report by Hill Strategies Research on cultural spending here by consumers (as opposed to advertisers) found that, from 1997 to 2003, magazine-buying was largely flat, the median dollar value being $705-million. In fact, adjusting for inflation, spending on magazines by Canadian consumers declined by almost 6 per cent in that period. This is not altogether unexpected. Magazines, at least those printed on paper and delivered to readers via the mail and newsstand -- what Web devotees call "off-line enterprises" -- are "old media," while this is an age when, in the words of Jerry Brown, the PricewaterhouseCoopers executive responsible for the firm's Canadian entertainment and media advisory practice, "media consumption is being driven more and more by consumers' desire to have access to the news, music, TV and videos they want, when they want it, where they want it, and in a format that suits the situation they are in at that time." In general, Canadians are spreading their purchases of Canadian magazines over more and more titles. In 1998-99, Statistics Canada reported, 229 individual "general-consumer" periodicals were being published here. In 2003-04, the total was 324, a 41-per-cent increase. However, the total annual circulation of Canadian general-consumer magazines in that time increased by less than 18 per cent, to roughly 305 million from 259 million. Last year, all of the top-five Canadian periodicals by circulation -- Reader's Digest, Chatelaine and Canadian Living (all of which are monthlies) and the weekly Maclean's and TV Guide -- collectively suffered a 17-per cent decline in total subscription and single-copy sales relative to 2000. The situation looks even more ominous if you look at American titles in Canada. Take National Geographic, traditionally a big performer here. In 2000, the ABC reported, it had a paid circulation of 510,871 in Canada, most of it typically in home subscriptions; by last year, the total was 374, 516 -- a 27-per-cent decline. This from a magazine that 15 or 20 years ago boasted a circulation upward of 800,000 in Canada alone.

Meanwhile, how about Playboy? The glossy that made Hugh Hefner a billionaire has gone decidedly, well, soft at the age of 53. Thirty years ago, it wasn't unusual for Playboy, with its mix of sex, Sartre, stereos and sports cars, to have a Canadian circulation of more than 500,000. Last year, its circulation here was just 61,235 (most of it coming from newsstand purchases), down from 119,089 in 2000. That's a drop of almost 50 per cent. One of Playboy's biggest competitors, Maxim, the so-called "premier lad mag," is hurting, too. In 2000, a mere three years after the launch of its U.S. edition, the monthly edition was reporting an impressive circulation of almost 240,000, but last year, the ABC says, that number was just under 149,000, a decline of about 38 per cent. Playboy spokeswoman Martha Lindeman noted that her magazine's circulation drop in recent years has been the result of some of the same factors that have hurt other American magazines, including (until recently) the weakness of the Canadian dollar relative to its U.S. equivalent, increased mailing costs (unlike their Canadian counterparts, U.S. periodicals don't have access to the Publications Assistance Program overseen by Canadian Heritage and Canada Post) and the GST. Indeed, in 1999, Playboy decided "to suspend our direct-mail subscription marketing in Canada," Lindeman said, meaning that it no longer actively seeks at-home subscribers -- whereas in the U.S., "more than 20 per cent of our subscriptions are generated via direct mail, so you can see the effect that decision had." Of course, there have been silver linings in this dark cloud. In 1998, Cosmopolitan had a healthy circulation of about 163,000 in Canada. Two years later, its monthly circulation was 219,117, and last year it reached almost 260,000, with more than 95 per cent of that attributable to newsstand sales. This was 100,000 copies more than O, The Oprah Magazine's circulation in Canada in 2005, and 116,000 less than the top-ranked National Geographic. (By way of comparison, Star Magazine, the gossipy weekly for which Toronto-born Bonnie Fuller assumed the editorial directorship in 2003, had a circulation of close to 150,000 in Canada in 2000. Five years later, it had dropped 20 per cent, to 120,574, after hitting 128,000 the year before when Fuller remade it as a glossy and upped its cover price.) As a counterpoise to the success of Cosmo's unrelenting diet of "passion polls" and "hot sex workout tips," the purchase of more serious U.S. periodicals appears to be on the rise here, although not astronomically so. Harper's, for example, had paid circulation of 26,406 in 2005, up more than 10,000, or 60 per cent, from 2000. Similarly, The New Yorker weekly gained more than 4,000 subscribers and single-copy buyers in that same period, to report a 2005 circulation of almost 20,000. The influential newsweekly The Economist, its North American edition also published out of New York, has experienced even more impressive and steadier growth, seeing its Canadian circulation of 43,123 in 2000 climb to 55,538 in 2005.

Magazines by the numbers

Top five U.S. magazines in Canada by paid circulation for six months ending June, 2005

1. National Geographic (monthly) 374,516

2. Cosmopolitan (monthly) 258,209

3. People (weekly) 198,404

4. Woman's World (weekly) 185,858

5. Prevention (monthly) 174,186

Top five Canadian magazines by paid circulation for six months ending June, 2005

1. Readers Digest (monthly) 923,162

2. Chatelaine (monthly) 645,044

3. Canadian Living (monthly) 527,694

4. Maclean's (weekly) 382,890

5. TV Guide (weekly) 304,822

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations 


We Remember Dorothea Church

Excerpt from

(July 25, 2006)  *Dorothea Towles Church, the first successful black model in Paris and a pioneer who made it possible for women of color to model at major European fashion houses, died July 7 at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York.  She was 83.   Her death was confirmed by Michael Henry Adams, a curator at the Museum of the City of New York where Church is among those to be featured in an exhibition called "Black Style Now" opening on Sept. 7.   Born July 26, 1922, in Texarkana, Tex., Church was the seventh of eight children in a farming family and eventually broke down racial barriers in an industry that preferred white models to represent beauty. During the 1950s, Church work the runways for such designers as Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli.  Church also studied biology at Wiley College in Marshall, Tex. She had plans to study medicine, but when her mother died, she accepted the invitation of a rich uncle to live with him in Los Angeles.   She completed a master's degree in education at the University of Southern California.

Docks Nightclub Fights Liquor Ruling

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Oliver Moore And Jennifer Lewington

(July 26, 2006) The Docks entertainment complex is refusing to lie down in its fight with neighbours irate about noise from the nightclub. Residents of the nearby islands, who say they have been subjected to years of house-rattling music, celebrated with champagne Monday upon receiving the news that the club had been stripped of its liquor licence. But club lawyer Nicholas Macos said that an appeal of the decision was filed yesterday in Divisional Court.  The appeal could take months but the club is also seeking a stay that would allow it to serve alcohol in the interim. The application for the stay will be heard on Friday. The appeal is based in part on whether complaints from neighbours, which the lawyer said is the traditional local test, should be applied to a bar such as the Docks, which attracts people from all over. He said the club is getting support from patrons and he has been hearing voices of concern from other entertainment promoters worried they might be next. "They feel that the Docks is probably as diligent as any facility," Mr. Macos said. "If it can happen to us, it can happen to them." Indeed, Mayor David Miller said yesterday that noise is a "huge topic" across the community. "Everyone deserves to live in a quiet neighbourhood," he told reporters at city hall.  "Every time I have a phone-in show, people call in about noise in nightclubs."  Mr. Miller said the decision of the provincial Alcohol and Gaming Commission "sends a strong message to liquor-licence holders that it is a privilege [to have a licence] and you have to follow the rules. "We are a big city, and noise and quiet matter to people, whether it is on the waterfront or elsewhere. It isn't an issue in one neighbourhood; it is an issue around the city." This week, council is expected to debate calls to strengthen existing noise bylaws.  Councillor Kyle Rae, who is among those trying to tighten up bylaw changes made last year, said they have to reflect the reality that residential and commercial neighbourhoods coexist. He added that some recent changes, such as a rule that permits loudspeakers to be played at 7 a.m., "are not in the best interest of residents."


7 Questions - Steve Nash Dishes The Dirt

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Brad Wheeler

Born Feb. 7, 1974, in Johannesburg. Emigrated to Victoria at age 2. Earned a basketball scholarship in 1992 to Santa Clara University, where he dribbled a tennis ball around campus to perfect his handling skills; graduated with a degree in sociology. In 2005, signed a six-year, $66-million (U.S.) contract with the Phoenix Suns. Captured MVP honours in 2005 and 2006. Renowned for sweaty mop of hair (now shorn). Linked romantically to Gerri Halliwell and Liz Hurley, and more recently (and erroneously) to Nelly Furtado, who mentions Nash's name in her current single, Promiscuous. Heads the Steve Nash Foundation, dedicated to assisting underserved children. Married to Paraguayan wife, with twin daughters.

(July 21, 2006) 'Why not?" basketball star
Steve Nash demands, his rising snarl red-lining against a feeble cellphone connection. We were discussing the ugly tradition of sport-field banter known as "trash talk," and I had suggested that the wholesome Canadian wasn't one for making jivey insults. After he seemingly took offence, I haphazardly tried to dribble myself out of an insinuation "Oh, it's just that you're so, um, well, you know. . . ."  Just as I was about to say something very wrong, Nash let me off the hook. He was just having a little fun. "No, you're right," he says, "I don't really talk that much out there. And I don't really encounter much of it, either." What the two-time NBA MVP does encounter is respect -- for his performance off the court as well as on. And don't let him fool you. When asked about a certain hoop-dreaming superstar musician, mild-mannered Nash dishes the dirt as superbly as he serves up those b-ball bounce passes.

You're a big English soccer fan. If you could trade in everything you've gained from basketball to suit up just once for Tottenham Hotspur, would you do it?

The easy answer would be yes, just because the grass is always greener. I love playing basketball, but the one thing about soccer is the fans. It's a totally different atmosphere than American sports or the NBA. The tradition there, being so vocal -- with the singing and the chanting -- it gives you goose bumps. It's the one thing I wish I could experience.

You were in Germany for some of the World Cup matches. What do you make of the apologists for Zinédine Zidane, the head-butting Frenchman?

It's a tribute to how much respect he has from people, around the world. Off the field, he's a terrific human being, very humble. And he's probably one of the top three players to ever play the game.

Sounds like you're an apologist too.

I give him a lot of leeway. The things that must have been running through his head: There's 10 minutes left in his career; 10 minutes to win a World Cup. With all the pressure, I think emotionally it was probably too much at the time. For a passionate, creative player like that, he was on the edge, regardless of being provoked.

Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner you used to play for, said some unflattering things about you on the David Letterman show. He had a chance to sign you two years ago, but didn't.

I think he grossly underestimated me -- I hate to say it, but it's true. He's a non-stop talker, so I don't pay attention that much to what he says. But I take it as a compliment if he was talking about me on Letterman, on his small segment. If my name came up, I must have had some sort of impact on him.

Recently, Time Magazine had nicer things to say about you, naming you one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

It's hard to believe that's accurate when I'm having a hard time getting a dinner reservation. I'm kidding, but I just shake my head sometimes at the perception -- and perhaps whatever part of it is true. Because I still wake up every morning and think of myself as a normal person, as an underdog even. To be pointed out or highlighted under those terms is overwhelming to some extent. So, that's the kind of thing I take in briefly, and then forget about.

What are you listening to these days, and what kind of music would we hear in the Suns' locker room?

Let's see . . . the last songs I downloaded were by Brazilian artist Seu Jorge, but my tastes are pretty broad. In the locker room, it's mostly hip hop, which I like. But I really don't care, because when I'm walking around there, I'm not really thinking about music.

You've probably met a lot of musicians, some of them who claim to have 'game.' Are any of those guys any good at basketball? I heard Prince has some talent.

Really? I heard the opposite. My agent, Billy Duffy, played basketball at the University of Minnesota right around the start of Prince's career, and he used to play pickup ball with him. So, as for Prince, in Billy's words, "Not a really good player." [Laughs.] I'm sure he's gonna love me for throwing him under the bus there.

Saturday night, Steve Nash, with in-game host Nelly Furtado and music by the Bedouin Soundclash, presents the Steve Nash Foundation Charity Classic at GM Place in Vancouver.

Sportsnet Fights To Catch Up After Shakeup

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail,

(July 25, 2006) Jody Vance threw a party a few days ago, and what a giddy gathering it was. "There were toasts, high-fives and hugs," a guest said. Why was Vance, the former
Rogers Sportsnet anchor, and her guests, several of whom were Sportsnet staffers, in such good spirits? Partly because of a major shakeup at the network this month. Rick Briggs-Jude, the head of production, was removed from overseeing Sportsnet News. His responsibilities are now limited primarily to hockey and baseball. Scott Morrison, the head of Sportsnet News, was terminated. And so was his No. 2, senior producer Jeff MacDonald. We reported a year ago on morale problems in the newsroom. As a consequence of the articles, Rogers conducted a management survey in which staff were invited to critique superiors. The results apparently shocked senior executives at Rogers. Hence the changes, which were applauded by some staff, as well as by Vance, who left in 2005 because of difficulties with Morrison and MacDonald. Also assisting Morrison and MacDonald out the door were the audience figures for Sportsnet News, which continue to lag behind those of TSN's SportsCentre. So far in 2006, TSN is averaging 133,000 viewers for its SportsCentre at 10 p.m. EDT; Sportsnet is at 91,000; and the Score, 36,000. On July 11, Sportsnet's president, Doug Beeforth, sent out an internal memo in which he articulated his vision of the future. It involved making Sportsnet News "more youthful and energetic," an objective that seemed reasonable, but was ridiculed by some in the media. Targeting a younger audience isn't silly, but without a plan, the notion is so vague as to be meaningless. Complicating the matter is the fact that fewer young males are watching television these days, and even fewer tune into sports.

By all means, strive to be cool. But the only real way for a network to improve the audience for its sportscast is to produce the best show in the market and give it wall-to-wall promotion. What does Sportsnet have in mind? A dinner-hour overhaul will include expanding the show to one hour from 30 minutes in some of the regions, certainly in Ontario, where it will air from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. It's been reported that Hockey Central will be cut back to one show a week, but that picture is wildly distorted. Hockey Central will be folded into the 60-minute Sportsnet News during the week. On a busy hockey day, Hockey Central could make up as much as 15 to 20 minutes of the 60-minute show. David Akande, the network's vice-president of content, says the hope is for Sportsnet News to become more entertaining through increased analysis and commentary. "Credible information and analysts is the cost of entry if you're going to be a source in the sports landscape," he said. "The trick, if I can call it that, is we're going to provide more than that. The trick is to get into the opinion and create a forum for opinion." 2010 World Cup More than a year ago, Sportsnet boldly grabbed Canadian TV rights to the World Cup of 2006. The acquisition gave the regional network the opportunity to promote itself as Canada's World Cup destination and pull in huge national audiences. What did it do? It turned around and gave up its exclusivity by sharing the rights with TSN and CTV. True, the audiences were huge, thanks in large part to the involvement of TSN and CTV, which pulled in a record 2.84 million viewers for the final.

Still, there was a sense Sportsnet had missed a golden opportunity. It should have kept the rights and increased its profile. There were two good reasons for Sportsnet's sharing the World Cup with TSN-CTV. The monster audiences met and surpassed advertising projections. Most important, Sportsnet protected itself for the future. Because of Sportsnet's spirit of sharing, TSN-CTV has agreed to team up with the network as co-bidders for the rights to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. A rights deal is expected to be announced in four to six weeks. Michael Landsberg will interview receiver Terrell Owens today and tomorrow on TSN's Off The Record. Owens was kicked off the Philadelphia Eagles last season for knocking his quarterback, Donovan McNabb. He signed in the off-season with Dallas Cowboys. Sportsnet drew 608,000 for the opener of the series between the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays last Thursday, the second best Jays audience of the season. The season opener (Minnesota Twins) is tops: 648,000.

Argos Running On Empty

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Morgan Campbell, Sports Reporter

(Jul. 25, 2006)  First
Ricky Williams, now John Avery.  Yesterday morning, as Williams recovered at home from a Sunday night operation to repair a broken left forearm, his replacement in the Argos' backfield limped out of practice with an ice pack lashed to the back of his left leg.  Avery, who moved from the practice roster to the first string when Williams broke his arm, joins a long list of Argos starters injured this season.  Receiver Tony Miles still has a sore hamstring and didn't practice yesterday. Quarterback Damon Allen, who broke his right middle finger in the season opener, worked with the starting offence yesterday for the first time since his injury, but isn't assured of starting this Saturday against the B.C. Lions.  Without Allen, the Argos went 2-3, and even considered signing 43-year-old NFL retiree and former Argo star Doug Flutie as a backup.  So far, the team has no plans to recruit Gil (The Thrill) Fennerty to fill its backfield void, but head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons grew concerned with Avery's health the moment he noticed a hitch in the running back's stride.  "Something happened early in practice, so we wanted to have him go to the doctor to make sure it was okay," Clemons said. "I want to know (what's wrong). I don't want to be fooling around."  Avery entered training camp as the team's top running back, but Williams' arrival in late May bumped him to the practice roster.  Williams didn't attend yesterday's practice. His agent, Leigh Steinberg, said the back has spoken twice to his NFL club, the Miami Dolphins, and that Williams plans to play out the season when he returns. He also said Williams' contract with the Argos assures the Dolphins he'll return to Miami next season, but that Toronto doesn't owe the Dolphins any money or an early return if Williams is hurt.

"The disappointment is that Ricky thought the team was turning the corner," Steinberg said.  In Miami, Dolphins head coach Nick Saban issued a brief, polite written statement wishing Williams a quick recovery.  "We're very supportive of Ricky and the season he's having in Canada," the statement read. "We feel certain this setback will not affect his future as a football player."  Clemons, who found a bright spot in Williams' arm injury —"(the Dolphins) won't have to worry about his knees," he said — is also optimistic about his other running backs.  "Adversity really gives you an opportunity for a hero to appear," Clemons said.  Canadian running back Jeff Johnson knows the hero role well. He played it last October when Avery hurt his hamstring.  After spending the first 15 games of the regular season on special teams, Johnson gained 159 all-purpose yards in his first start as an Argo. The next week, he collected 197 rushing and receiving yards and was named the CFL's offensive player of the week.  "You do always have to be ready for it," said Johnson, who scored a touchdown while subbing for Williams last Saturday. "Know your assignment, know your alignment and when the ball comes to you, get ready to do something with it."

Pinball Accentuates Positive After Bad Break

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Morgan Campbell, Sports Reporter

(Jul. 24, 2006)  Argonauts head coach
Michael (Pinball) Clemons has a message for the Miami Dolphins:  At least it's just a broken arm.  On Saturday night in Regina, running back Ricky Williams broke his left forearm when he put his hand on the turf to break his fall at the end of a three-yard gain. He left the game during the second quarter of the Argos' 26-23 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Williams, on loan from the Dolphins while serving a year-long drug suspension from the NFL, is out indefinitely.  Speaking at the Argonauts' Mississauga practice facility yesterday, Clemons said if he were in Miami's position, he'd focus on the positive while Williams sits out.  "This is football, this is what happens," Clemons said. "For that length of time (the Dolphins) don't have to worry about his knees."  Argo president Keith Pelley said the Dolphins' concerns about injuries delayed Williams' signing in the spring, but confirmed that Toronto owes Miami nothing if Williams suffers a serious injury in the CFL.  Clemons wouldn't speculate about how long Williams' recovery would take, and said the team would have a better idea after this Saturday's home game against the B.C. Lions. Pelley said team officials are scheduled to meet with doctors today.

As of yesterday afternoon Clemons hadn't talked to Miami head coach Nick Saban about Williams' injury, though Pelley said the two teams' training staffs had already spoken.  Saban was unavailable for comment yesterday. Dolphins spokesman Harvey Green said the head coach has been out of town and will return to the office today as the Dolphins, for the second time in three years, prepare to open training camp without Williams.  Clemons said he has no regrets about how the Argos have used Williams so far this season. In five games Williams has rushed for 231 yards on 57 carries. He had carried four times for 17 yards when he broke his arm Saturday.  Clemons said Williams hasn't whined about his playing time, and didn't even wince when he broke his arm. Nor has he moped about the prospect of being sidelined.  "He's got an extremely optimistic outlook and he's looking forward to getting back in the game," Clemons said. "All of this makes us extremely proud of the decision we made to bring him up here."  Williams himself still hasn't spoken publicly about his injury, though Argo media relations staff say he was available to reporters after the game.  Clemons said Williams will probably speak to the media after Wednesday's practice. He also expects Williams to show up every day this week.  "He's no different from any other player," Clemons said. "When they're hurt, they're here and they're getting treatment.  "That's our expectation, that he'll be out to help and support and even be our cheerleader."  With Williams injured, Clemons said former starter John Avery will dress for this Saturday's game.

Raptor Sets Sights On Global Domination

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Doug Smith, Sports Reporter

(Jul. 26, 2006)  As the United States tries to reclaim its spot as the top basketball country in the world,
Chris Bosh wants to make sure they do it in an emphatic way.  "Not one win, but win in a dominant fashion," the all-star Raptors power forward said yesterday after making it through the first round of tryouts at the U.S. training camp in Las Vegas.  "We are going to put aside the stereotype of NBA players."  To the surprise of no one, Bosh was one of 15 players named yesterday to the team that will continue training next week for the world championship which begins in Japan in late August.  USA Basketball, trying to return to global dominance after a third-place finish at the Athens Olympics and a shocking sixth-place result at the 2002 world championship in Indiana, has chosen a group of young up-and-coming NBA stars in its final group of candidates.  Bosh joins LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier, Bruce Bowen, Elton Brand, Dwight Howard, Antawn Jamison, Joe Johnson, Brad Miller, Gilbert Arenas, Amare Stoudemire, Kirk Hinrich and Chris Paul as the 15 who will fight for 12 spots on the world championship team.  The Americans, who originally invited 25 players to try out, yesterday cut Shawn Marion, Luke Ridnour and Adam Morrison from this group; fellow NBAers Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups and Michael Redd have already withdrawn from consideration for this summer although they remain in the mix to comprise the 2008 Olympic team.  Bosh, 22, is among the youngest players on a young team. Only the 35-year-old Bowen and Jamison and Miller, each 30, are out of their 20s on what will be among the youngest squads at the Aug. 19-Sept. 3 worlds.

"Our strength has got to be depth, this is a very young team," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said on a conference call yesterday. "We've got guys who are 21, 22, I mean Dwyane Wade is only 24."  Bosh, who seems a lock to make the final squad and solid bet to play in the 2008 Beijing Games, said the preparation so far has been more about acclimating the players with each other than establishing a specific style of play.  "It's been a different experience," he said in a telephone interview. "We've had more time to gel in this system and learn about each other and get used to the talents of everybody."  The makeup of the American teams that failed in Athens in 2004 and Indianapolis in 2002 was roundly criticized after the fact for being too dominated by stars rather than players willing to play complementary roles.  Bosh knows the stereotype of an NBA player — more concerned with touches, shots and marketing opportunities — runs counter to the teamwork and sacrifice needed to beat the best countries in the world.  "No one takes it personally, but it's out there and we want to show it's wrong," he said.  Aside from winning a world championship — and gaining an automatic berth to the Olympics — Bosh said he's using this summer to get in the best shape of his career.  Having suffered through a season-killing 1-15 slump to start the last Raptor season — a hole the team never had a chance to get out of — he realizes the importance of getting off to even a mediocre start.

And playing every day against the likes of Stoudemire, Howard and Brand has him more ready than he's ever been.  "I don't think you can get a better summer workout."  After a break, the Americans will reconvene in Las Vegas next week for their final training period. They will play a series of five exhibition games in Vegas and Asia before finalizing the roster for the world championship.  Of the players left off the 15-man team, Marion is suffering from a mild knee injury, Ridnour was ostensibly beaten out by Hinrich for the third point guard position and Morrison was too inexperienced given the competition he was up against.

Pioneer Of Women's Hockey Sues For Compensation

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Lois Kalchman, Special To The Star

(Jul. 26, 2006)  KINGSTON, ONT.—It is no exaggeration to say that
Rhonda Leeman Taylor has given her life to hockey. Now she wants it back.  But once given, gifts are hard to reclaim. Taylor is learning and living that painful truth every day.  "I never thought hockey would blindside me," the 53-year-old Taylor says, alternately standing and sitting uncomfortably in her lawyer's office in Kingston.  "I lived and breathed hockey until I got hurt. It was my life. I am just blown away as a player who has followed the Hockey Canada rule book that I am sitting here today in this situation."  Taylor is sitting here, shifting restlessly, because of an on-ice collision 2 1/2 years ago that she says has cost her her job and left her in constant pain.  It has also forced her to flip-flop roles: Instead of building women's hockey she is effectively suing it.

Twenty-five years ago, Taylor was a pioneer of women's hockey, helping grow a game that is now part of the Olympics.  She was the first woman to have a vote on the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (now Hockey Canada) board of directors. She was chair of the first two women's national championships, in 1982 and '83, and was the Ontario Women's Hockey Association's first development co-ordinator. She was once nominated to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builders' category, but the hall has yet to admit a woman.  All that work is now cruel irony for Taylor.  On Jan. 24, 2004, Taylor's days of playing hockey five times a week came to an abrupt end.  She was playing in a non-contact recreational game in the Stone Mills Women's League at the arena in Tamworth, a village 50 kilometres northwest of Kingston.  "I was going for the puck as it rebounded off the goalie," says Taylor. "I got it and shot it all in one motion. It went over the goalie's left shoulder. The next thing I knew I was airborne."  A player on the other team had dived in front of Taylor as she shot, upending Taylor and sending her crashing head first into the end boards.  "People were talking to me on the ice. I could hear them but I couldn't respond," recalls Taylor.  "I stayed on the ice and thought I had rung my bell. I went back to the bench. We were short players and I went back out for a couple of shifts."  Two days later, Taylor's head was still throbbing and her hips and back hurt. She went to the Hotel Dieu hospital emergency ward in Kingston and was told she had muscle damage.  At physiotherapy she was diagnosed with a concussion. Within a month she was incontinent and nauseous from constant pain, which had spread to her legs.  Four months later, Taylor was admitted to the Kingston hospital where she had a laminectomy — spinal surgery to remove bone impinging on her nerves.  Taylor says the injuries forced her to give up her $65,000-a-year job as a regional director with (a human resources company), and ended her days of competing in triathlons and her dream of kayaking in every province in Canada.

They also forced Taylor and her husband Al to sell their house and construct a smaller, wheelchair-accessible abode. Taylor limps and occasionally stumbles when she walks now, and the couple fear that if her condition worsens she will require a wheelchair.  "This has wrecked our whole life," says Al.  The Taylors expected that Hockey Canada's insurance would help with their medical bills and lost income. It provides a $1 million payout for players who become a paraplegic or quadriplegic.  But Taylor is neither of those. So, even though she says she is in constant pain — "From the waist up, I'm literally one big muscle spasm" — and her job is gone, Taylor qualified only for the maximum special medical costs payout of $5,000 from Hockey Canada.  "It's a fairly serious injury and it's unfortunate," Glen McCurdie, the senior director of insurance and member services for Hockey Canada, says of Taylor's plight.  But McCurdie says Hockey Canada consciously chose not to broaden its insurance coverage because costs would "soar."  A member of Hockey Canada's insurance committee says current annual insurance costs are $16.15 per player, but to add coverage for so-called neurological deficit would be "prohibitive" even if the organization could find an insurer to underwrite it because there are no figures on which to base a risk assessment.

"There are no benchmarks for this type of injury," says Sam Ciccolini, who has sold insurance in Woodbridge for 40 years.  "Everyone responds differently to a neurological deficit ... Nobody wants to take a chance on the unknown."  Taylor is thus in an unpleasant grey area — her pain is intense enough to awaken her at night, but not serious enough to trigger extensive compensation.  "The only option is to sue the other party if they feel there is negligence," says McCurdie.  After pouring so much into hockey and getting so little back, that's what Taylor is doing. She is suing the player who slid into her, Nancy Murphy of Napanee, for $1 million in the hopes of triggering Murphy's personal liability coverage in her home insurance policy or through her hockey insurance.  "We are claiming it was negligent and careless under the circumstances," says her lawyer, Chris Clifford, a former draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. "It was a dangerous defensive move that ought not to have happened."  Murphy refused to comment when approached about the lawsuit.  Taylor's statement of claim cites a fractured vertebra, calcified cysts, loss of concentration, arm, leg and hip weakness, plus sleeplessness and depression. None of the allegations has been proven in court.  The accident and fight for compensation have been excruciating for Taylor. They have cost her her health and her place in hockey. It's unclear which causes her more agony.  Says Al Taylor: "You can see the pain in her face."


Sports Bits: Woods Explains The Tears

Excerpt from

(July 25, 2006)  *Tiger Woods’ emotional British Open win Sunday was followed by a press conference with reporters, during which the golfing legend explained that his tearful breakdown came from realizing his late father, Earl Woods, would never again witness his victories. "I miss my dad so much," Woods told reporters. "I wish he could have seen this one last time. …I was pretty bummed out after not winning the Masters because I knew that was the last major he was going to see. And finally to get this one, it's just unfortunate that he wasn't here to see it." Woods won his 11th major title Sunday and his first since his father’s May 3 passing. He broke down as he hugged his caddie, Steve Williams, then sobbed uncontrollably in the arms of his wife, Elin. “I'm kind of one who bottles things up a little bit and moves on, tries to deal with things in my own way,” said Tiger. “But at that moment it all came pouring out and all the things my father has meant to me and the game of golf." 


Mistakes Are Stepping Stones

By Liz Caravia, Guest Columnist

On your journey toward mastering both sport and life, make it a point to become aware of your weaknesses as well as strengths.  Awareness of our downfalls or weaknesses enables us to improve and become stronger. Awareness breeds confidence and satisfaction. But it can also sometimes be unpleasant, like an addict's realization that "I am a drug addict."  It may be hard to admit, and even painful, but it delivers us from illusion and empowers growth. In Pilates or in any mind body discipline, you not only learn how to exercise your body and mind in a whole different manner than you have ever experienced before, but learn how to think with your whole body.  Learning is a process of refining errors to the point where they no longer prevent you from attaining a desired goal. Even the perfect "10" routines of Olympic skaters and gymnasts contain errors, but they are small enough to be irrelevant. Smaller errors actually bring you closer to mastering the exercise, one small step at a time.

Proper execution in any mind-body discipline requires relaxation, even during the movements that require great physical strength and mental focus. In the face of this demand to relax AND let go, you will begin to notice tension in areas of your body that you may have never noticed. At first you may think the training is making you tense. In fact, you may become more tense than ever.  Shortly and most assuredly, you will come to realize that you are only becoming aware of tension that you have always carried. This awareness, while troubling at first, will allow you to move beyond any tension you carry in your body that may show up as "tension headache, muscle aches, back aches and this in turn will open the door to your learning Dynamic Relaxation.  One of the essential components that I teach you to apply in everything you do. Not just exercise. I hear this a lot from clients while training with me. It usually occurs after months of training consistently at least 2-3 times a week.

They say, something like:

"I am getting worse at this. What is wrong with me. I did great last week and now I can't seem to execute or trigger the right muscles in order for me to do what you are asking me to do." What I tell them is this: This feeling that you are 'getting worse' is a sign of growing awareness.

When writers are able to read their last draft and see their weaknesses, their writing progresses. Awareness in sport, relationships, in any learning, often entails a momentary drop in self-esteem, a dent in self-image.  But this willingness to clearly see and acknowledge our many mistakes, to temporarily make a fool of ourselves, opens the door to body mind training and mastery.  When we feel like we're "getting worse," we are finally ready and on our way to getting much better.