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


Updated:  June 1, 2006

Welcome to summer!  OK, maybe not officially but the heat wave sure indicates that it's on its way!  BBQs, pool parties, Harbourfront fun.  Some of the fun coming up includes DK Ibomeka at Hugh's Room and the rescheduled date for Mothers and Daughters Brunch for the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario.  All details below.

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




DK Ibomeka CD Launch at Hugh’s Room – Wednesday, June 14

At six foot seven, DK Ibomeka (pronounced ee-bo-MECK-eh) has a towering stage presence and a voice to match.  Musicians and industry insiders are calling DK Ibomeka one of the best new voices in years, with a three-octave range informed by the clarity and vibrancy of Ella Fitzgerald, the soulfulness of Ray Charles, and the deep, rich bass of Joe Williams.  DK Ibomeka’s debut album “Love Stories” (in stores June 6, 2006), presents a mix of classic jazz sounds combined with a touch of blues and a distinct flavouring of soul-informed jazz.  “Love Stories” was produced by Haydain Neale (jacksoul), with legendary engineer and producer George Massenburg on board as mixing consultant, and was mastered in New York City by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound. With each live performance (including an appearance at the 2005 Montreal Jazz Festival where he shared the stage with the Neville Brothers, Patti Labelle and Haydain Neale) DK continues to captivate audiences and critics alike.

**One Night Only**
Hugh's Room
2261 Dundas Street West,  Toronto
8:30 pm

Tickets: $20 in advance , $22 at the door

You're Every Woman - Fundraising Mothers and Daughters Brunch - POSTPONED to July 14, 2006

Come out and support the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario's fundraising event on Friday, July 14th for their Mothers and Daughters Brunch at the Pine Valley Conference Centre in Woodbridge. 

Brought to you by Motivation Sensation, the keynote speaker is Rosita Hall and Author of " I Found the Answer" & Women of the Year.  Entertainment is provided by Wade O. Brown, recording artist with an appearance on the award-winning hit television series, Soul food and Al St. Louis, spoken word artist of ‘When Words Are Not Spoken’.  Included in the special evening is a silent auction of local artists work within the GTA community, door prizes and more.  An arena of motivated awakening to strengthen the inner "you".

FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2006

Mother & Daughter's Day Brunch
Pine Valley Conference Center
17 Vinyl Court, Woodbridge
1:00 - 5:00 pm
Tickets: $65.00/adult; $50.00/child
(Includes food, entertainment)
Contact info: 416-398-8200 or 905-453-3037
Purchase tickets at retailer or online: Guardian, 3932A Keele (at Finch) and Nappy's Hair Shoppe, 83 Kennedy (Brampton) and 23 Dundas Street E. (Hurontario) and Perfection Barber Shop, 178 Queen St. E. (Brampton)


Winners Announced for 1st Ever Stylus DJ Awards

Source:  Stylus DJ Awards 2006

(May 30, 2006) Winners were announced for the first-ever Stylus DJ Awards at a ceremony held last night.  The awards, honouring contributions in DJ excellence, were hosted by FLOW 93.5’s popular morning show host Mark Strong, and Soca DJ of the Year winner and weekend host of FLOW, Dr. Jay at the York Event Theatre.    Nothing could stop more than 500 DJ enthusiasts including recording artists, nightclub promoters, key players, journalists, broadcasters and most influential people in urban lifestyle from attending the gala.  Despite the Toronto Transit strike and near record-setting heat, fans jam-packed the theatre and later crammed the exclusive Schick After-Party.  A total of 19 awards were presented (see winners list below).     Toronto’s Starting From Scratch, the big winner at the 2006 Sony Ericsson Stylus DJ Awards, walked away with Toronto DJ of the Year; Radio Mixshow DJ of the Year and Club DJ of the Year.   Consideration of numerous successful urban DJs nationwide led to countless hours of deliberation over whom to nominate.  Eventually the 2006 nominees and winners were selected by a committee of industry experts, including the Stylus All-Stars (a group of Canada’s most elite DJs), via a National online voting system.  

“As Canadian urban DJs become increasingly recognized globally, it has become even more important for us to provide recognition here at home,” says Mike Zafiris, creator of Stylus DJ Awards. “This event is a true reflection of the thriving DJ community in Canada.”  The uniquely Canadian-designed award replicates a miniature Technics 1200 turntable including needle, pitch control and record.   The ceremonies featured dynamic DJ performances by DJ Fin-S, DJ Dopey and Team Canada.  Star-studded presenters during the evening included Belly, Bless, Blessed Brassmunk, Cory Lee, Frank N ’Dank, Hannah Sung, J-Diggz and Matte Babel.    During the evening two Hall of Fame awards were presented.  Toronto’s Sunshine Soundcrew and Montreal’s Butcher T were the first DJs admitted into the Stylus DJ Awards Hall of Fame.  Recognitions of achievement included a DJ tribute by DJ Dopey to legendary producer, the late J Dilla aka Jay Dee featuring rap duo Frank N’ Dank.    In addition, the event raised funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society on behalf of the recently deceased Canadian Hip Hop icon and former Maestro Fresh Wes dancer, Rocky “Frankie” Raymond Rockwood better known as ‘Black I’.  

Winners Announced for 2006 Stylus DJ Awards

The 2006 Sony Ericsson Stylus DJ Awards was recorded for future broadcast on MuchVIBE. The event is presented by Sony Ericsson.  Generous sponsors also include DOSE, Schick Quattro Power, Blu Pearl, Capital Prophet, Copyright Magazine,, FLOW 93.5, Koch Entertainment, MuchVIBE, MyTego,  Pressure (A Digital Impressions Group Company), Scratch Lab, Sean John, Shure Needle, Sony BMG, Stolen Moments, Universal Music, Virgin/EMI Music and Warner Music. 2006 Stylus DJ Awards Winners:

Sunday’s Awards at Pre-Party, Lot 332:
International Hip Hop Single of the Year: 
Kanye West – “Gold Digger” – Universal
International R&B Single of the Year:  Rihanna – “Pon De Replay” – Universal
Label of the Year:  Def Jam Records
Label Rep of the Year:  Jody Laraya – Universal Music

Monday’s Awards at Awards Show, York Event Theatre:

Club DJ of the Year: 
Starting From Scratch (Toronto)
Radio Mixshow DJ of the Year:  Starting From Scratch, FLOW 93.5 (Toronto)
College Radio Hip Hop DJ of the Year:  DJ Law - Project Bounce (CIUT)  
Vancouver DJ of the Year:  J-Swing
Calgary DJ of the Year:  Beat Matrix (Gummi & Drew Atlas)
Edmonton DJ of the Year:  DJ Kwake
Winnipeg DJ of the Year: 
DJ Fin-S
Toronto DJ of the Year: Starting From Scratch (Toronto)
Ottawa DJ of the Year:  DJ Mace (Ebony & Ivory)
Montreal DJ of the Year:  Kwite Sane
Halifax DJ of the Year: 
DJ Plae Boi
Reggae DJ of the Year:  Spex
Soca DJ of the Year: 
Dr. Jay
Turntablist of the Year:
A-Trak (Montreal)
Toronto Club MC of the Year:  Kid Kut
Canadian Hip Hop Single of the Year:  Kardinal Offishall – “Heads Up”
Canadian R&B Single of the Year:  Melanie Durrant f. Kardinal Offishall – “Bang Bang”
Canadian Hall of Fame Recipients (x 2): Butcher T. and Sunshine Soundcrew

Buying Drink For The Man Is Cool

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Luke Fox

(May 28, 2006) Tonight is your birthday eve, you're out clubbing, and nothing could elevate your celebration to its rightful climax better than the disc jockey dropping the needle on your favourite tune as the clock strikes midnight.  But how do you convince the selector to fulfill your wish? The nightclub is noisy and hot, and the guy looks awfully busy digging through records.  Toronto's DJ Starting From Scratch, nominated for three trophies at tomorrow's Stylus DJ Awards for his work in the clubs and on the airwaves of Flow 93.5, has advice for partygoers who want to get his attention while he's keeping the dance floor jumping.  "Number 1 would be, bring a drink. Number 2: Make it a double," says the Montreal-born Scratch, all kidding aside.  "In the urban scene you don't get bombarded with (requests) as much as the top-40 and dance scene," he adds. "Try not to approach while the DJ is in the mix. A lot of people will give you the tap on the shoulder when your headphones are on and you're over your mixer.  "And then there's the nagging factor. If you pester somebody, you're not going to get it done. You're just gonna get the head nod: `Yeah, it's coming, it's coming.' No, it's not."  But even a timely move with cocktail in hand might not cut it. Your musical taste should align with the DJ's. Scratch says he denies requests "all the time."  "If I don't like it, I just won't play it. I don't care if it's the No. 1 song in the world. That's why you'll never hear me play `Return of the Mack.'"

June 2006 Marks The 27th Anniversary Of Black Music Month In Canada


Black Music Month
was created to celebrate the ways that Black music has influenced society, and it is a time to recognize the pioneers and trailblazers who have done so much to share these important musical forms with the world. Throughout history, Black music has reflected the social climate of the times. From the days of Ancient Africa to the tragic periods of slavery and discrimination, through the progress of the Civil Rights movement, to the mainstream commercial exposure of today, Black music has told the story of the Black experience.  UMAC wishes to start off the month by once again recognizing our Lifetime Achievement Award and Special Achievement Award winners that we have honoured with Canadian Urban Music Awards over the past six years. These individuals have dedicated their careers to improving the status of Canada's urban music industry:

Special Achievement Awards (1999-2005): Tony Young (pioneering MuchMusic VJ Master T), Ebonnie Rowe (PhemPhat Honey Jam founder), Denham Jolly (President & CEO of FLOW 93.5), Chris Smith (artist manager), Sol Guy (artist manager and Hip Hop ambassador), Maestro (Hip Hop icon), Michie Mee (Hip Hop Icon), Mr. X (internationally-renowned music video director), and Farley Flex (artist manager, Urban entertainment professional and Canadian Idol Judge).

Lifetime Achievement Awards (1999-2005): Daniel Caudeiron (founder of Cheer DJ Pool and urban music advocate), Salome Bey (soul/jazz vocalist), Ivan Berry (label owner and artist manager), Norman Otis Richmond (radio broadcaster, Black music historian and cultural activist), Ron Nelson (radio broadcaster and Reggae promoter), Oscar Peterson (Jazz icon), Winston Hewitt (founder of Canadian Reggae Music Awards), Denise Jones (Reggae promoter and talent agent) and Jazz drumming legend Archie Alleyne.

For more info on the history of Black music in Canada, check out the Canadian Encyclopedia of Music.

Sarah Harmer Tackles Acting With Quiet Indie Film

Source:  Canadian Press

(May 31, 2006) Sarah Harmer is on a rant.  The folksy singer-songwriter from southern Ontario is debuting in her first feature film and although she enjoyed the experience, she's realized acting is not her bag. "I wish I could be more articulate about why I think acting is weird," Harmer sighs into a cellphone as she sits in a Toronto cafe on an overcast afternoon. “There's so much waste," she concludes, her thoughts spiralling into a stream-of-consciousness tirade. "There's just so much fluff. You spend hours setting up this scene, you know, for a whatever, just so you can get this one perfect moment and, I don't know, there's just a lot, the spontaneity can be really lost." Thankfully, she says Toronto film director Anita Doron was conscious of preserving that spontaneity while guiding Harmer through her first acting role in the quiet, low-budget film End of Silence. The indie production fit right in with Harmer's low-key sensibilities, capturing the singer's fine features with a bare-bones crew, a 24-frame digital camera and only natural light. Harmer says she knew as soon as she read the script that it would work.  "I could just tell it was good," says Harmer, whose previous acting experience amounts to a few school musicals.

"I sat and read it in one crack and thought it was really beautiful and smart and a very real kind of story came to light so I called them and said that I was really interested and flattered that they would think of me and I would give it a try." Acting was never something she particularly aspired to, but Harmer admits the thought of commanding a stage did cross her mind as she grew up in southern Ontario, the youngest of six children born to a farmer and a schoolteacher. "You know, you always wonder if you could. You watch great actors — Kate Winslet is someone I have huge respect for, and Gwyneth Paltrow too, talking about big name actors — it's something that I watch other people and thought, wow, I wonder if I could really do that." It helped that shooting began within months of the script being written. "So there was a lot of energy and excitement around it on a very small scale, small budget. It was kind of guerrilla-style filmmaking, that was exciting to me," says Harmer, an ardent environmentalist whose latest side project involves saving the Niagara Escarpment from industrial development. The story is about Russian ballerina Darya (played by former dancer Ekaterina Chtchelkanova), who tumbles into a romantic relationship with Eddie (played by John Tokatlidis) after leaving her dance company to make her own way in a foreign land, barely able to communicate. Much of the story is told through movement and facial cues, with Darya and Eddie's sweet courtship unfolding through coy smiles and tender silences. Harmer plays Nora, a mysterious woman whose unusual relationship with Eddie seems to shadow his every action and thought. "I like the moments of magical kind of surrealism in it," says Harmer.

"Also, the character that they were asking me to play was one that was something that I could, I think, relate to. I like the fact that it wasn't a huge part, as far as memorizing lines and that sort of thing, but also... 'a melancholy tomboy' is how (Doron) had written a description of the character Nora and I kind of relate to that." Still, when her moment in the spotlight came, Harmer says she wasn't sure she was ready. "I was thinking, oh my God, these actors have done this before," she says, recalling her first day on the set. "It's amazing what you can do when you are faking it. You fake the confidence and sometimes it can work for you and get you a wage." End of Silence heads to DVD on June 13 after a short run in Toronto beginning June 3.

Barbados On The Water Tenth Anniversary Festival! June 16 to June 18, 2006 At Harbourfront Centre

Source:  Harbourfront Centre

(May 24, 2006) Canada's largest celebration of Barbados and Barbadian culture gets even bigger this year with free and ticketed concerts beginning Friday June 16 though Sunday June 18. The Barbados on the Water festival at Harbourfront Centre also celebrates its tenth anniversary! Ticketed events present some of the Island's top talent while free culinary, cricket and golf demonstrations, dance, music, comedy, children’s activities and more can be expected throughout the weekend. For tickets and information the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit

Ticketed Events:

Legendary Calypso stars The Mighty Gabby (Barbados’ Cultural Envoy/Ambassador), along with Red Plastic Bag and Adrian Clarke perform with the spectacular Plantation Band Friday June 16 and Saturday June 17 in the Brigantine Room.  (Doors open at 10:30 p.m. / Performances from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. / Tickets $25 advance and $30 at the door both nights).

Comedy troupe Pampalam engage in Barbadian satirical humour in the Brigantine Room Friday night June 16 and Saturday June 17 (Doors at 6:30 p.m. / Performances from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. both nights / Tickets $12 advance & $15 at the door).

Free Events:

Crowds will be delighted by the unique performances of Israel Lovell Foundation's amazing dance and music (direct from Barbados) on the Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

FOOD - Barbados brings it's ever popular A Taste of Barbados Fish Fry to Harbourfront Centre starting Friday June 16 at 6 p.m. and available throughout the weekend (with rum tastings on Saturday and Sunday), along with free cooking demonstrations by Bajan Chefs Peter Edey of the Dining Club in Barbados and Chris Straker, executive chef at Toronto’s popular Eggplant restaurant. (Cooking demonstrations will be held Saturday June 17 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and on Sunday June 18 at 1 p.m. in the Lakeside Terrace Tent).  

CHILDREN - Events include storytelling by Gregory Fitt and Itah Sadu, popular kite making activities and for the first time a “Crop Over” costume making class (Saturday and Sunday afternoons). 

VISUAL ARTS - Toronto visual artist and exhibitor Michael Chambers curates The Place is the Power  - a photography exhibition featuring Toronto artists Angela Haynes, Xania, Nicole Roswell Anderson and Sean Harrison.  (Friday June 16 through Sunday June 18 in the Marilyn Brewer Community Gallery) while Carol-Anne Brancker and Jennifer Weetch delight crowds with floral arranging demonstrations and workshop (workshop June 18, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Lakeside Terrace). Carol-Anne Brancker and Jennifer Weetch were part of the Barbados Horticultural Society’s winning Gold Medal Team at London's Chelsea Flower Show.

MUSIC - On weekend afternoons, the festival has Toronto Caribbean-Jazz group NEWA (featuring Tamara Marshall and comprised of Nicolas Brancker, Eddie Bullen, Wilson Laurencin and Arturo Tappin). Quincy Bullen and Omar Gittens (two young boys with Caribbean roots) have been thrilling Jazz and Latin music enthusiasts across Canada and the Caribbean.  The Everyting Irie Jazz Ensemble led by ‘Smasher’ Cadogan provides a dazzling fusion of Jazz with Caribbean rhythms.

LITERARY - Readings include Austin Clarke reading from his Giller Prize winning novel The Polished Hoe, followed by Obsidian Theatre’s workshop reading (currently in production for a launch in Toronto this winter) of its’ The Polished Hoe adaptation (Studio Theatre - June 16 & June 17, 7:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m, - advance tickets $12 / $15 at the door both nights).
Cecil Foster, one of Canada’s leading public intellectuals on issues of citizenship, culture, race, ethnicity and immigration will read from some of his outstanding fiction titles such as A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada (Studio Theatre - June 18, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.).

Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto. Advance tickets are available by calling the Harbourfront Centre Box Office at 416-973-4000 or by visiting

The 10th annual Barbados on the Water festival is presented by Harbourfront Centre in partnership with the Barbados Tourism Authority, the Consulate General of Barbados and the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados.

Barbados on the Water - Complete Event Listings – June 16 to June 18, 2006

Advance tickets can be purchase by calling 416-973-4000 or visiting
All events are free admission unless otherwise indicated

Friday June 16

Comedy – Pampalam  (Doors at 6:30 p.m. / 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. / Tickets $12 advance/$15 at the door).

Culinary – BOCC - Bajan Delite: A Taste of Barbados Fish Fry - BOCC (6 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. - Brigantine Tent).

Literary – Austin Clarke reading from The Polished Hoe (7:30 p.m.) and Obsidian Theatre workshop reading of play The Polished Hoe (Tickets $12 in advance/$15 - 8 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. - ticket includes both events at the Studio Theatre).

Music – Calypso Monarchs: The Mighty Gabby, Red Plastic Bag and Adrian Clarke backed by the Plantation Band
(Doors open at 10:30 p.m. / Performances from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. / Tickets $25 advance and $30 at the door both nights)

Visual Arts – The Place is the Power exhibition features Toronto artists Angela Haynes, Xania, Nicole Roswell Anderson and Sean Harrison. Photographs celebrating culture, pride and memory. Curated by Michael Chambers.
(6 p.m. to 11 p.m.- Marilyn Brewer Community Gallery).

Floral Exhibit by Carol-Ann Brancker and Jennifer Weetch (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.- Lakeside Terrace).

Saturday June 17th

Children’s Activities – Crop Over Costume Making (noon to 4 p.m. - Kid’s Zone Tent)
and Children's Board Games (noon to 4 p.m.).

Comedy – Pampalam  (Doors at 6:30 p.m. / 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. / Tickets $12 advance, $15 at the door).

Culinary –  BOCC - Bajan Delite: A Taste of Barbados Fish Fry – Bimshire Delectables, Pauline’s Bajan Cuisine, Cockspur Rum Tasting  (noon to 10 p.m. - World Cafe), BOCC- Bajan Delite (noon to 1:30 a.m. - Brigantine Tent).

Culinary Demos – Chris Straker and Peter Edey (2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m .to 5 p.m.- Lakeside Terrace Tent).

Dance – Israel Lovell Foundation (5:30 p.m. to 6 :30 p.m. -  Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage)

Literary – Austin Clarke reading from The Polished Hoe (7:30 p.m.) and Obsidian Theatre workshop reading of play The Polished Hoe (Tickets $12 in advance/$15 - 7:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. - ticket includes both events at the Studio Theatre).

Music – NEWA with Tamara Marshall (2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. - Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage)

Music – Plantation Band (1 p.m. to 2 p.m.), Quincy Bullen & Omar Gittens (3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.), Andy Earle Band (5 p.m. to -5:30 p.m.) - All concerts are free at the Toronto Star Stage.

Music – Calypso Monarchs: The Mighty Gabby, Red Plastic Bag and Adrian Clarke backed by the Plantation Band
(Doors open at 10:30 p.m. / Performances from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. / Tickets $25 advance and $30 at the door both nights)

Storytelling – Gregory Fitt and Itah Sadu (Zoom Room 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.)

Visual Arts – The Place is the Power exhibition features Toronto artists Angela Haynes, Xania, Nicole Roswell Anderson and Sean Harrison. Photographs celebrating culture, pride and memory. Curated by Michael Chambers
(noon to 11 p.m.). Floral Exhibit by Carol-Ann Brancker and Jennifer Weetch (noon to 10 p.m., Lakeside Terrace.).

Sunday June 18

Children’s Activities – Crop Over Costume Making (noon to 3 p.m. -  Sculpture Court
Kitemaking with Walter Broomes (noon to 4 p.m. - Kid’s Zone Tent) and Children’s Board Games (noon to 4 p.m.)

Cricket Demo – Desmond Haynes and Joel Garner (3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.- Toronto Star Stage)

Culinary – BOCC - Bajan Delite: A Taste of Barbados Fish Fry – Bimshire Delectables, Pauline’s Bajan Cuisine, Cockspur Rum Tasting (noon to 6:30 p.m. - World Cafe), BOCC (noon to 6:30 p.m. - Brigantine Tent).

Culinary Demo – Peter Edey (1 p.m. to 2 p.m. - Lakeside Terrace Tent)

Dance – Israel Lovell Foundation (5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. - Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage)
Dance Workshop – Israel Lovell Foundation (1 p.m. to 2 p.m. - Lakeside Terrace)

Floral Arrangement Workshop – Carol-Ann Brancker & Jennifer Weetch
(3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Lakeside Terrace – space limited, first come basis)

Golf Demo – Kevin Weekes (Noon to 12:45 p.m. - Toronto Star Stage)

Literary – Cecil Foster (2 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Studio Theatre)

Music - Andy Earle Band (1p.m. to 2 p.m.- Toronto Star Stage), Everyting Irie Jazz Ensemble (2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. - Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage), Quincy Bullen and Omar Gittens (4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.- Toronto Star Stage)

Storytelling – Gregory Fitt (1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.- Zoom Room)

Visual Arts – The Place is the Power exhibition features Toronto artists Angela Haynes, Xania, Nicole Roswell Anderson and Sean Harrison. Photographs celebrating culture, pride and memory. Curated by Michael Chambers (noon to 6:30 p.m.). Floral Exhibit by Carol-Ann Brancker and Jennifer Weetch (noon to 6 p.m., Lakeside Terrace).

Harbourfront Centre Focus - The Power Of Place

Geography, history, memory all guide us as we struggle to find a sense of belonging and identity. They can direct us as clearly as a map or a compass. But does your heritage define you or does it make you part of a community? Do you belong to your neighbourhood or does it belong to you? What is your place in the world? Power of Place is part of an ongoing exploration of ideas-based programming at Harbourfront Centre, June through December 2006.  Access all of the summer 2006 press releases and photos at   All Harbourfront Centre events take place at York Quay Centre, 235 Queens Quay West.  For more information the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit


Idol Worship

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon

(May 29, 2006) There will be no Idol withdrawal in Canada.  So, depending on your sensibility, the following announcement will fill you with a) euphoria or b) dread: Canadian Idol begins its fourth season today (CTV, 8 p.m.).  Yes, less than a week after silver-haired oddity Taylor Hicks became the newest American Idol, our homegrown version fires up the microphones for another summer.  This year, the audition road trip made stops in 11 Canadian cities and heard from 12,173 aspiring pop stars. This translates into an 81 per cent increase in turnout from a year ago.  What can we expect? I asked the show's four judges — Zack Werner, Jake Gold, Sass Jordan and Farley Flex — two simple questions:

Zack Werner: Keepin' It Real In Love and Hate

Quote: "Canada is completely unpredictable with regards to the kind of talent it produces."

1. Zack, what can we expect from you this season?

I think as time goes on, I become just completely relaxed in the moment and just really enjoying it — whether it's enjoying being vicious or enjoying falling in love with somebody. And in being more real about it, I have become more and more unpredictable.

2. What can we expect from the show this season?

I think this year, in particular, there is a different maturity to the singers, a different understanding of themselves. We were much more prone to ask the questions, "What would you do if you won? What kind of record would you make? What kind of artist do you see yourself as?" And we got much better answers this year. I don't mean as in specific answers to those questions, but as in we had people you could look at and really project that they are going somewhere as opposed to wanting to be contestants on a TV show.

Jake Gold: Internecine Warfare and Great Expectations

Quote: "There are no Buckys on our show. There are no Chicken Littles."

1. Jake, what can we expect from you this season?

We did have a lot of battles this time. I actually screamed pretty loud at Zack at one point. And I also had a big fight with Farley.... I have always tried to be constructive in my criticism but, at the same time, firm. I always try to tell the truth, but I don't feel the need to be insulting.

2. What can we expect from the show this season?

We raised the age limit and all of a sudden we found all these singers that had had careers. We have a couple of people who were in real bands that viewers would know. We could potentially have the best Top 10 anyone has ever seen. Anywhere. If the public votes the way we hope they vote in terms of the quality of these singers, the American show couldn't even shine our shoes.

Sass Jordan: Aligning the Sassiverse With the Quirks of Television

Quote: "I am more of a well-oiled machine."

1. Sass, what can we expect from you this season?

Having been a complete neophyte and novice in the television world, I feel that now I have a better footing. I realize it's television and not a concert situation any more. I think I'm somewhat less patient in a lot of ways as far as (dealing with) pure crap from the competitors. On the other hand, when I really like something now I understand it better from the whole point of view as opposed to just in the emotional moment. The other thing you can expect from me? Longer hair.

2. What can we expect from the show this season?

What makes it different every year are the competitors. And this year we have what appears to be a Top 22 that's very eclectic, interesting and probably the most exciting for me, musically speaking.

Farley Flex: Promoting Excellence On This Side of the Border

"The bar has been raised in terms of talent this year."

1. Farley, what can we expect from you this season?

We have a lot of really smart competitors this year. That has been one of the real underlying evolutions in the show. So I will be challenging them to use those smarts. When you know somebody has the acumen to do something, you expect more from them.

2. What can we expect from the show this season?

We are inundated with American influences, media-wise, more than any other country in the world. As a result, we get overshadowed. That's what makes a show like this so relevant. What's really cool this year is the kids have a strong sense of artistry, and are very sophisticated and savvy. There are some colourful characters this season who are entertaining even when they're not singing.

When Miles and Trane Made History

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

(May 28, 2006) Miles Davis and John Coltrane are, without doubt, among the most famous pairings in jazz. Their influence and popularity are such that even casual fans resort to shorthand -- Miles and Trane -- when referring to them. No wonder. Together, in 15 studio sessions stretched over six years, the two made some of the most memorable jazz recordings of the modern age, including what many would claim is the greatest jazz album ever, Kind of Blue. And if that weren't enough, each then went on to define sixties jazz in his own way, with Coltrane's torrential, impassioned saxophone solos becoming the focal point for a ferociously uncompromising avant-garde while Davis' terse, cerebral trumpet statements and increasing fascination with rhythm and texture built to a completely different form of musical rebellion. But in 1955, when the two began playing and recording together, they were hardly seen as giants. Although Davis had made quite a name for himself in the forties as the brilliantly idiosyncratic young trumpeter in the Charlie Parker Quintet, by 1954 he had largely squandered that reputation and was derided as a gig-skipping, note-flubbing junkie. Coltrane, on the other hand, had no reputation to squander; outside his hometown of Philadelphia, the 29-year-old saxophonist was largely unknown. Everything changed for both men with the release of five albums on the Prestige label half a century ago. Those albums -- and the band that made them -- were hugely popular with both fans and critics, and in short order both Davis and Coltrane were established as giants. That music has just been re-issued in a four-CD set called The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions. It's actually the second set devoted to the pair -- the six-CD Miles Davis and John Coltrane: The Complete Columbia Recordings was released in 2000. And while it adds relatively little to the Davis catalogue (eight live recordings that had previously been available only as lo-fi bootlegs), it attests to the enduring interest in the two jazzmen.

The stylistic innovations made by Davis and Coltrane have been so completely absorbed into the jazz vocabulary that it's no longer possible to hear just how radical these recordings sounded 50 years ago. Take, for instance, Davis' use of the Harmon mute. Originally known as a "wah wah" mute, the Harmon is made of aluminium and consists of two pieces: a short, cylindrical body that fit in the bell of the trumpet, and a hollow, plunger-shaped "stem" that sat in the mute's centre. Prior to Davis, most jazz trumpeters treated the Harmon mute as a sort of special effect, cupping their left hand over the stem to create a crying sound with the horn. Davis played with the stem out, and the sound he got was quietly intense, like listening to the wind rattle a windowpane. On high notes, it lent an acidic bite to the tone, while low notes took on a mellow buzz. But as tracks such as 'Round Midnight and In Your Own Sweet Way demonstrate, what made the sound particularly expressive in Davis' hands was the way it underscored both the rhythmic intensity and melodic economy of Davis' solos. Like lemon juice on fish, the tartness of the Harmon mute's sound set the underlying flavours in bold relief. Davis recorded versions of 'Round Midnight for both Prestige and Columbia; the Prestige version is the later of the two, even though it was released first. How Davis managed that is a story in itself. After beating his heroin addiction in 1953, Davis was eager to rebuild his reputation and career, and got the break he needed when promoter George Wein slipped him into a jam session toward the end of the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival. Davis soloed on three tunes, and his muted performance of 'Round Midnight was a sensation.  Among those in the crowd at Newport was Columbia Records chief George Avakian. Davis had been lobbying for years for a contract with Columbia, and when the set was finished, Avakian was waiting backstage. But cutting a deal wasn't so simple; Davis still owed four albums to Prestige, and it didn't seem likely that Prestige chief Bob Weinstock would simply let Davis go -- particularly now that his star was rising.

Davis had a solution. He would record for both labels, and Columbia would withhold release of its sessions until all the Prestige albums were out. The publicity Columbia would then generate would benefit both companies. First, Davis had to put a band together. He started with drummer "Philly Joe" Jones, a powerhouse who had honed his skills on the R&B circuit, and added pianist Red Garland, a Texan who Davis said "had that light touch that I wanted on piano." Bass virtuoso Paul Chambers -- barely 20 at the time -- rounded out the rhythm section. On saxophone, in the original plan, was Sonny Rollins. But Rollins had a heroin problem, and had gone into seclusion to deal with it. Jones suggested Coltrane, who he knew from Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the saxophonist got off to a bad start with Davis, constantly asking questions in rehearsals. As Coltrane later told French jazz journalist François Postif, Davis "doesn't talk much and he rarely discusses music." After several tense rehearsals, Coltrane went home to Philadelphia to work with organist Jimmy Smith. "The group almost didn't happen," Davis said in his autobiography. In the end, though, Coltrane recognized that the music Davis wanted to play suited him far better than anything Smith had to offer, and so he rejoined. Davis and his group recorded all their material for Prestige in just three sessions at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Hackensack, New Jersey, one on November 16, 1955, one on May 11, 1956, and one six months later, on October 26. Everything was cut in a single take, partly to keep costs down and partly because the band had already worked much of the material out on the road. "He knew what he wanted and he knew how to get results," Van Gelder says of Davis via e-mail. "The group was arranged so that everyone had eye contact with each other."

The advantage of this setup was that it was easy for Davis to direct the group. "He gave them cues and anything else they needed to know during the performance," says Van Gelder. "He maintained control over all aspects of the music." Davis tried to maintain similar discipline over the players themselves, but that proved far more difficult. All four of his sidemen had problems with drugs, drink or both, and as the quintet's success grew, so did their consumption. Coltrane's heroin habit got so bad that he sometimes seemed conscious only when it came time to play. The saxophonist was fired twice before finally cleaning up and being reinstated on a more equal basis in 1957. Garland and Jones were fired a year later, and replaced by pianist Bill Evans and drummer Jimmy Cobb, both of whom appear (along with alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley) on Kind of Blue. Davis would have turned 80 yesterday, Coltrane on Sept. 23. Both, of course, are deceased, as are Garland, Chambers, Jones and Evans. But the recordings they made not only endure; they've taken on the timeless quality of classics. Listening to them in concentrated form -- just three days' work for The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions -- makes the group's achievement all the more amazing.

The Real Reggae Festival Returns

Source:  Transl8tor Marketing Inc.

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Reggae Sunsplash is back. The return of the original reggae festival was heralded on Thursday 27th April 2006 with a replica street dance and stage show at the Old Hope Road headquarters of the Guardsman Group in Kingston. In between impromptu performances by artists such as festival headliner and veteran reggae singer Freddie McGregor, government officials, members of Jamaica’s business elite, artists, journalists and lovers of reggae reminisced on the great moments of Reggae Sunsplash Jamaica past and eagerly discussed this year’s event. “This is not a stage show. It is a festival that seeks to expose all areas of Jamaican culture – the music, the art, the food – anything that is reggae and everything that is Jamaican,” said Charles Campbell, a member of the festival’s original production team and now current director of operations and production. Rodney Davis, CEO and president of Cable and Wireless (CWJ), the event’s title sponsor, was also quick to support the festival’s revival, indicating that the four-day event was directly in keeping with his company’s objective of connecting with Jamaican people through culture. “The love of reggae music unites people. Not just our own people, but it’s a common bond we share with so many people around the world. It’s a natural fit for CWJ to support the festival, as we continually strive to bring people together as a business, and Reggae Sunsplash Jamaica will bring so many people together in such a positive way,” said Davis. Reggae Sunsplash Jamaica was first staged in 1978 in Montego Bay and for years was the premier event on the world reggae calendar.

Following a series of venue changes that took the festival from Montego Bay to Kingston and later St Ann, the festival was put on pause in 1997, and has not been held in Jamaica since. For the first time in nine years the festival will be staged, from August 3-6 at a brand new location – the Richmond Estate near Ocho Rios.  That venue, a sprawling 200-acre seaside property, has the capacity to accommodate more than 150,000 people and 20, 000 vehicles, and will have two stages, an artists’ gallery, recreation areas and an extensive food court that will serve Jamaican fare. This year’s festival line-up will include over one hundred dancers, poets and musical acts. Among artists already confirmed to perform are international stars, Alpha Blondy, UB40, Steel Pulse, veterans Marcia Griffiths, Bob Andy and Toots and the Maytals, and singers Luciano and Morgan Heritage. Also on the line up are dancehall ‘A-Listers’ Beenie Man, Ninja Man, and Vybz Kartel and their female counterparts, Macka Diamond, Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens. Unlike any other production of its kind in Jamaica, Reggae Sunsplash Jamaica will also feature performances by poets Steppa, Dingo and Payne, the L’Acadco dancers and the Kingston drummers. “Every night of the festival will start with drumming. As you know reggae music begins with the drum and so we have to honour that,” Campbell said. In addition the festival will ‘give a buss’ to new and upcoming acts, including the winner of the B-Mobile talent competition. In the past Reggae Sunsplash Jamaica has seen performances by legends Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown and R&B soul man Stevie Wonder.

bmobile Reggae Sunsplash Jamaica

Source:  Transl8tor Marketing Inc.

(May 16, 2006) Transl8tor Marketing Inc. is proud to announce that it is the official Canadian publicist for Jamaica’s infamous bmobile Reggae Sunsplash Jamaica music festival. This world-renowned festival highlights and promotes the message behind Reggae music – unity as one. Sunsplash Jamaica organizers and patrons are indeed delighted for the highly anticipated return of the festival. Jamaica's legendary Sunsplash festival is set to return this August for the first time in nearly a decade. Since its beginnings in 1978, Sunsplash Jamaica has thrived, and last took place in 1997. The festival, which has earned the respect of reggae music lovers worldwide by showcasing the best of Jamaican music and culture will be staged over the August 3-6 Independence Holiday Weekend. Its new home will be the sprawling 20-acre property at Richmond Estate in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica. The new site can accommodate up to 150,000 people with parking for 20,000 vehicles, near the birthplaces of icons Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey. Grammy winner and "King of the Dancehall" Beenie Man declared, "The return of Sunsplash shows how Jamaica can come back and unite as one...which means more strength, more power and more international." Some top performers confirmed to appear include Culture, Steel Pulse, Toots and the Maytals, Freddie McGregor, Morgan Heritage, Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Diana King, Maxi Priest, Alpha Blondy, and UB40. Transl8tor Marketing Inc., shares in the enthusiasm for promoting such a highly anticipated event. Transl8tor is delighted that organizers are refreshed and prepared to once again open Jamaica’s doors to cultural connoisseurs and music lovers around the globe.

Charnett Moffett: Blue Note for an “Internet’ Magician

Excerpt from – by Deardra Shuler

(May 30, 2006) Ingenious bassist, Charnett Moffett, stood center stage at the Blue Note Jazz Club, surrounded by his accompaniment consisting of Mulgrew Miller on piano; drummer Eric McPherson and saxophonist Vincent Herring.  Bass men, generally sidemen, Moffett takes the lead and understands how to pull strings in order to cajole rapt respect from both his audience and his stringed instruments.   Charnett is a creative force.  That is adeptly shown as he blends a bit of theatrics with a whole lot of musical aplomb.  The room stirs as Moffett strokes his bass and his ensemble of acoustical arco and pizzicato guitars.  The instruments jump to attention while Moffett coaxes from each willing instrument a haunting refrain.  An acoustical magic takes place that turns the electrical instrument into a sitar when playing Free Raga from his new CD “Internet.” “Icon Blues,” “Jubilant,” and “Internet” follow among others; drawing sounds from his guitar that only a masterful magician can manifest.     Moffett picks up his bass and plays another song from “Internet” and the mood changes dramatically.  He strokes; slow downward strokes, cruising, pushing the bass, making it jam.  He switches to his electrical guitar making it zing, making it sing, while the piano speaks, joining as two, becoming one.  The sax peels, accelerating, building.  The drum beats, heart pounding -- building, stroking, faster, faster, harder, wilder. Rhythms collide; thumping, pounding, stroking fast, then faster and faster. It crescendos and explodes -- POW!  The crowd gasps, sigh, and then slowly let their breath steady.  It’s over. The music has climaxed.  Moffett stands on stage, exhausted.  Sweat pouring from his every pore, a slight smile adorns his face.  He’s played his bolero; he’s spell bound his audience and left them eager for more.
“I chose the name Internet for my new CD, because it seemed apropos for the music I wanted to do on this particular project.  I thought it was a catchy name and it had something to do with the play on names, ‘Internet,’ ‘Charnett,’ that kind of thing,” explained Charnett about his latest CD offering.  “This is a jazz album but it is very open to other influences.  No matter where you are in the world, there is one sky.  That is the concept of this album, connecting people and music from all over the world together, like the Internet.  I have traditional jazz and free jazz on the CD.  There is folk, pop, rock.  There are many forms of improvisation on this CD” claims the rhythm player.  Born a child prodigy, in New York City, Moffett attended Juilliard and the Performing Arts at Manhattan College.  The 39-year-old bassist has been playing professionally for nearly 25 years. As a result, he is an exacting virtuoso who often leads as well as serves as sideman in the bands of Ornette Coleman and Wynton Marsalis.  Charnett Moffett has proven to be a composer in his own right with “Internet” being his ninth CD. The songs on Internet are made up entirely of Moffett’s own compositions, except for his version of the Star Spangled Banner.
Moffett first started performing in his father’s band when at 8 years old he traveled with the Moffett band to Japan.  Born into a family of musicians the recording “For the Love of Peace,” was primarily a family affair which he recorded in 2004 on Piadrum Records featuring his brothers Codaryl Cody Moffett on drums and Mondre Moffett on trumpet. The recording also featured Scott Brown on piano.  Initially, Charnett, toured with the family band but eight years later, he found himself touring with Wynton Marsalis whom he remained with for a number of years.  He went on to play with many other jazz musicians which included a 9-year stint with Ornette Coleman.  “Working with Ornette Coleman was wonderful. Coleman is an institution into himself.  Wynton Marsalis is an incredible artist that strives for perfection and brings out the best in those who play with him.  McCoy Tyner taught me how to groove in the environment and make the best of a situation.  Tyner honed his craft with Coltrane.  I even played with Art Blakey so I have had the opportunity to play with a lot of wonderful talent and each one has taught me something.  I feel I have taught them something, too. As artists we learn from one another” stated Moffett.
“I believe a gift from a higher power put me on my road today in terms of the instruments I play.  I started out on drums and played trumpet for a while and some piano.  But the bass best expresses my voice since I also do some things vocally on “Internet” – songs like Enjoy your Life” said the multi-talented musician who has also scored music for film.  “Having been on tour and traveling for the last 6 or 7 years, I get a view that you don’t often hear on the news.  I think more positive things are happening than reported.  It might be that music brings people together but personally I think in order to make progress we should focus on the human aspect and see cultures in a positive light.  As I said, music brings people together, even if it’s only for a short period of time,” remarked Charnett of his world view. Moffett plans to tour with McCoy Tyner in upcoming months.  “I have been forming my own band for eternity. I play with artists I felt comfortable with as part of the Charnett Moffett band” said the father of two.  “My band is a work in progress. I continue to perform and sometimes I may do that in a solo capacity, in a trio format, as a quartet, sextet, or even octet.” claimed Charnett.   “Life moves on and things change. Everything you do comes back to you.  Each person knows whether they in harmony with themselves irrespective of what others may say.  Ultimately, each of us answers to our own heart.”  To learn more about Charnett Moffett see:

Tim Deegan Rode The Hype Of The VJ Search, But Hannah Simone Arrived Much More Quietly

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rori Caffrey, Toronto Star

(May 30, 2006) Hannah Simone, MuchMusic's newest VJ, is more than just a pretty face.  True, she was once on the cover of Cyprus' top fashion magazine, has a pair of green eyes that hold you captive, and is making more than a few viewers sit up and say, "Hey, she wasn't on the VJ Search! I mean, dude, I totally would've remembered her..."  But along with the good looks requisite of any onscreen personality, Simone comes to the nation's music station with something unexpected — a global perspective and activist slant.  "This generation really wants to know what's going on," Simone says in a chat before her on-air shift. "They're hungry to know what's going on. That's evident in the response to, for example, the Michael Moore films, the response to Rock the Vote, the response to Live 8. People want to get involved."  Simone speaks earnestly. She lists AIDS in India and anti-landmine campaigns among the issues she's most passionate about. Her dream interviews include the Dixie Chicks and Bono. ("He is a great example of how you can use the celebrity that comes with being a huge rock star to communicate the issues that you care about. I think he's just phenomenal.") She's clearly come to Much with a higher purpose than just dishing gossip on Brit and K-Fed.  "There are social issues that are an integral part of who I am and what I care about," Simone says, "and that's definitely going to come out as I work here at MuchMusic."  Simone says she was bred to be socially aware. She describes her family as "fairly nomadic" and says her far-flung childhood homes made her develop a social conscience early on.  "Living in places like Saudi Arabia and Cyprus, where there are a lot of political hot-button issues that are on the surface, you can't help but be aware," she says. Her father's job as a petrochemical engineer kept them mobile, and before turning 18, she had called London, Calgary, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus and New Delhi home.  "Along the way you're constantly being exposed to different social issues," she says.  It was in New Delhi that Simone says she remembers making the transition from simply knowing about social problems to actively trying to solve them. While attending an American Embassy school, she watched a documentary about AIDS-infected women and children being hidden away from Indian society. Moved by it, she organized a benefit concert to raise funds and awareness.

From there her resumé becomes more impressive: a degree in international relations and political science from the University of British Columbia; a job researching Lloyd Axworthy's book, Navigating A New World: Canada's Global Future; a stint as a human rights and refugee officer for the United Nations.  But these positions, Simone says, didn't offer the platform she wanted. "I was getting concerned that people weren't aware of certain issues that were going on," she says. "I realized that television, film and radio were the mediums that people were using to connect and get these issues and ideas across.  "So I went back to school (Ryerson) to get a degree in radio and television arts to hone my skills and learn to best communicate the things that I care about."  Since landing on the airwaves this spring, Simone has interviewed The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Stills, Deftones, former Destiny's Child member LeToya Luckett, and Mission: Impossible III director J.J. Abrams. She is slated to become host of MuchTopTens.  But it was at Ryerson that Simone first connected with MuchMusic. The path between audition and on-air, however, was longer and bumpier than she or Much had hoped.  "Hannah's been in the picture for over three years," says Sheila Sullivan, CHUM television's director of programming, music and youth services. "She showed up at an open call we had at Ryerson ... and we've been going back and forth trying to find her a place. When we had a place here, she had started doing something else in her life. When she was free, we weren't looking for someone at that time. But finally, the stars all aligned."  Sullivan calls Simone's voice "warm" and "sincere" and says she has the rare ability to talk to the camera like it's a friend. But she credits Simone's passion for global issues, combined with a love of pop culture, for making her ideal Much material.  "At MuchMusic, social issues are an important part of what we do," she says, citing their election coverage and special on guns and violence as examples, "so we are fortunate to have someone like Hannah. It's not easy to find someone who's interested in saving the world but also gets a thrill out of the latest pop culture news or latest breaking music."

The Wreckers Branch Out

Excerpt from - Phyllis Stark

(May 24, 2006) It's not every new country act that can land high-profile appearances on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and "The View," or the coveted opening slot on the Rascal Flatts tour. But new duo the Wreckers came out of the chute with one huge advantage over other "new" acts: One of its members is Grammy-winning pop star Michelle Branch.  Teamed with her best friend and former backup singer Jessica Harp, Branch says she is fully devoted to redirecting her career into country music. Their first collaboration, "Stand Still, Look Pretty," is a fresh and winning collection of songs, most written by Branch, Harp or both. The album, released May 23, is a joint release from pop label Maverick -- Branch's label home for her two platinum-selling solo albums -- and sister label Warner Bros. Nashville.  Country radio was quick to embrace debut single "Leave the Pieces," which is at No. 29 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.  The duo, whose name is an abbreviation of "Homewreckers," discovered on the road together that their voices blended and harmonized well. In the three years Harp had been writing and touring with Branch, they had often talked about pairing up as a duo.   Harp briefly had a development deal on Elektra Records in Los Angeles, but it wasn't until she was driving to Nashville from her hometown of Kansas City ready to sign a contract with Dualtone Records in 2004 that they finally committed to the plan. Before reaching Nashville, Harp tuned her car around and, instead, drove to Los Angeles to meet up with Branch.  They recorded the bulk of the album with producer John Leventhal in New York, but later added tracks recorded with John Shanks in L.A. and Paul Worley in Nashville. The Shanks collaboration became the first single.  With the kind of music they were writing together, Branch says, country seemed like the most obvious home. But it took a while to convince both herself and her label to give it a try.  "For a few years I had been trying to work up the courage to jump into it," Branch says.   And Maverick needed a dose of courage too.  "We told them we wanted it to be an organic, country instrumentation record," Branch recalls.

"In their mind it was the ugly 'C' word [country] and they didn't really understand."  "It was kind of hard to convince people at first that we could make a country record," recalls Harp. "The label was like 'Fiddle, really? You want fiddle?' But they stepped back and let us do our thing."  "When I made my first two studio records, [I had] everyone in the company supporting [me]," Branch adds. "This one was more like 'you guys go off and [record] and we'll see if we like it when you're done."  Still, Branch says, the duo kept their wildest country desires in check. "If we had our way we probably would have made a bluegrass record," she says. "But the reigns were held to us a little bit."  Right after they finished the album, Branch learned she was pregnant, so the duo took about a year off, time Branch says helped the Maverick staff wrap its head around the music and come up with a plan to market it in collaboration with Warner Bros. Nashville. If it hadn't been for that time off, she predicts, "The project probably would have gone down the toilet."  While the duo would seem to have an unbalanced dynamic thanks to Branch's track record and Harp's relative unknown status, both women say that has never been an issue.  "When we sit down to write it's very much a collaboration," says Harp. "Neither of us is competitive with each other at all and we're fans of each other."  "She holds her own very well," Branch says of Harp. "When people hear Jessica they realize she brought to the project as much as me, if not more."  The Wreckers will get major exposure in the country world opening 23 dates on the Rascal Flatts tour, beginning May 26 in Holmdel, N.J. Branch says both women are grateful they're not starting out playing "a club tour where we have to share grungy bathrooms. [This] will be a nice, cushy tour with good catering."

Ronstadt To Open Edmonton Folk Fest

Source: Canadian Press

(May 31, 2006) EDMONTON -- Legendary American songstress Linda Ronstadt, British neo-folkie David Gray and Canadian favourite Bruce Cockburn will all appear at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this August. Other headliners for 2006 include the Neville Brothers, Bedouin Soundclash, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Feist, Ricky Skaggs, Salif Keita and Sarah Harmer. The festival, considered the top folk-music event in the country, runs Aug. 10-13 at its usual Gallagher Park location across the North Saskatchewan River from downtown Edmonton. "I'm more than happy with this line-up and I think it's going to sell well," festival producer Terry Wickham said this week. "We have trimmed back a little bit from 65 to 60 artists. It's not a cost cut because we have actually spent more money than ever on this line-up." One of the world's most popular singers, Ronstadt has earned dozens of gold and platinum albums, has won 10 Grammy Awards and sold more than 60-million albums in musical genres as diverse as folk, pop, country and Latin. "She closes opening night and I can just hear all those baby-boomer hearts booming," said Wickham with a laugh. "She will be playing some 1970s hits, and maybe some songs from the American Songbook. She'll be here with an eight-piece band."

As usual, the folk fest will also dabble in African, blues, hip hop, Irish and Australian folk music. Opening the first night with Ronstadt are Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul, rapper K'Naan, Australia's the Waifs and Toronto reggae-punk group Bedouin Soundclash, winners of best new group at last month's Juno Awards in Halifax. New Orleans soulsters the Neville Brothers play the main stage on Friday along with blues/folk/R&B artist Susan Tedeschi and Lagbaja. "The Neville Brothers do a fantastic live show and are a quintessential New Orleans band so we're expecting something special," said Wickham. Blues diva Bettye LaVette opens Saturday night. David Gray comes to the festival on the strength of his seventh album, Life in Slow Motion. One of Britain's leading artists, he has garnered Brit and Grammy award nominations. Sunday's closing performances include Salif Keita from Mali, Chumbawamba, Canadian twang folkie Harmer and gospel favourites Blind Boys of Alabama. Cockburn, a frequent performer at the festival, actually inquired about playing in Edmonton again. "It's always nice when you get those calls," said Wickham. "We were chasing for so many years to bring people in and now that they're available, they phone us, saying they'd like to play the festival. "And when the best phone, you don't turn them down."

Star Soprano Flits On Busy Wings, Then Soars

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

(May 31, 2006) Know that game where someone asks you what you would be if you were an animal? If you were Sumi Jo, you could rightlysay "a hummingbird."  The Korean-born lyric coloratura soprano made a stop at Roy Thomson Hall yesterday, delivering an evening of vocal pyrotechnics so lightly rendered as to conjure up that smallest of birds, moving from blossom to blossom, seemingly held aloft with willpower alone.  Jo is celebrating 20 years in the international spotlight with a new album of baroque-era arias and a tour of North America's prime concert halls.  She began the recital — in the company of her long-time accompanist, pianist Vincenzo Scalera — by jumping off the deep end with two arias by Vivaldi and the great "Da tempeste" from Handel's opera Giulio Cesare.  The songs were note-perfect, but lacked a dramatic depth. It was a pattern that would be repeated throughout the program, which included works by composers as varied as Charles Gounod, Gaetano Donizetti and Aaron Copland.  Jo is a master at modulating her lovely, flexible voice, but tends to keep the loudest dynamics for special moments. Inside the large auditorium, this somehow increased the distance between her and the audience, and made the performance less penetrating.  Most of the pieces were chosen to show off vocal gymnastics, which sometimes felt like a case of "and now, I'll sing it like this, and now, like this!" The most extreme example was Adolphe Adam ornamenting "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" beyond recognition in his aria "Ah! Vous dirais-je maman."  But Jo descended from the heavens for two of her encores for the enraptured audience.

The first was an affecting arrangement of a traditional Korean song "Jindalre Got" (Azalea). Hers was a straightforward delivery of a melancholy melody that became, quite simply, heart-rending.  The second, also stripped of unnecessary ornamentation — and equally soul-satisfying — was "O, mio babbino caro" from the Puccini opera Gianni Schicchi.  Scalera played beautifully throughout, and even treated us to a solo performance of George Gershwin's three swingin' Preludes for Piano.  Jo was the latest in a glittering parade of fabulous singers on the Roy Thomson Hall stage this year. Besides giving Torontonians another live taste of her glorious instrument, she will definitely stand out for something that has nothing to do with artistic merit: the three gowns she wore.  There should be a rule that the gown should not be louder than the singer, but Jo's second outfit — a riotous affair in neon pink and orange — should have come with ear plugs.

Keyshia Cole Makes Fashion Debut

Source: Akademiks via PRNewswire

(May 31, 2006) NEW YORK  -- Hot off the heels of wrapping her first national headlining tour, Keyshia Cole has signed on to be the face of the new Akademiks Ladies 2006 Fall/Holiday advertising campaign. The year-long campaign marks an unprecedented move for Akademiks -- Keyshia Cole is the first celebrity they have selected to feature in their campaigns, which will begin to run in August 2006 in publications such as Vibe, Teen Vogue, Essence and Latina, among others.  "I'm really excited about being apart of the new Akademiks campaign," says Keyshia Cole. "Akademiks has been very supportive of my career and I respect their vision and cutting edge creativity. They are definitely taking it to the next level." "Keyshia Cole projects a lifestyle that is in tune with our creative direction," says Byron Kirkland, Director of Marketing. "She represents the strong young women of today; intelligent, confident, fashionable, sexy and vibrant. Akademiks Ladies is creating a MOVEMENT focusing on female empowerment ... we feel Keyshia Cole is that spark."

Keyshia Cole has achieved amazing success with her platinum debut album The Way It Is. Her album and live show performances have received critical acclaim worldwide. The New York Times proclaimed " ... one of the year's best albums, which seems ever more like an important moment in the recent history of R&B." The album spawned the smash hits "I Should Have Cheated," which was the #1 song at urban radio for weeks, "I Changed My Mind," "(I Just Want It) To Be Over," and "Love." Currently, Keyshia Cole can be heard on the theme song to Mission Impossible III with Kanye West and rapper Twista. She recently performed the song with Kanye and Twista on a national media blitz for the movie which included MTV's TRL, BET'S 106 & Park, Tonight Show With Jay Leno and The Ellen Degeneres Show. Akademiks was founded in 1999, with the principle "in pursuit of truth." The mission is to inspire and lead the youth fashion revolution, by offering affordable premium denim with superior craftsmanship. Akademiks clothing exceeds the expectations of its customers with innovation, keen attention to detail, quality and outstanding fit. The new Akademiks Ladies Fall 2006 collection is strong, yet feminine and redefines the term "urban contemporary." This collection will be in-stores in August and has already received rave reviews from industry insiders.



2006 MuchMusic Video Awards Nominees Announced

congratulates all the nominees for the 2006 MuchMusic Video Awards, which take place on Sunday, June 18.  In the Best Rap Video category, the nominees are: Alias Donmillion - "Dirty Dot", Classified - "No Mistakes", JDiggz - "Puush It Up", Sweatshop Union - "Try" and Jelleestone (feat. Nelly Furtado) - "Friendamine".  Special kudos go out to talented Video Director, RT! (235 Films), who racked up a whopping 12 nominations for his work with Kardinal Offishall, Massari, Sweatshop Union, Jelleestone, Classified, Bedouin Soundclash and more! Big up also to triple nominees Kardinal Offishall (Best Video, Best Pop Video and Favourite Canadian Artist) and Massari (Best Pop Video, Best Independent Video and Favourite Canadian Artist).  Visit the MMVA 06 site for more info and a full list of nominees!


Ashford & Simpson, Others To Present Pioneer Awards

Excerpt from

(May 25, 2006) *Ashford & Simpson, Jerry Butler and Gamble & Huff are among the list of presenters announced for the 2006 R&B Foundation Pioneer Awards, to be held June 29at the Park Hyatt Bellevue in Philadelphia, PA.    Other newly confirmed presenters include COO of Electric Factory Concerts Larry Magid; guitarist/singer Bonnie Raitt and renowned keyboardist Paul Shaffer. Smokey Robinson and Patti LaBelle were previously announced as hosts.   Previously announced individual honourees for the 2006 Pioneer Awards are Chubby Checker, Bettye LaVette, Barbara Mason and producer Thom Bell.    Groups who will be receiving the awards are the DelFonics and Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly. Lifetime Achievement honouree is Motown Founder Berry Gordy and the late Otis Redding will be recognized with the Legacy Tribute. Each individual honouree receives a $10,000 honorarium while groups share a $15,000 stipend.


Beyonce To Drop New Album On 25th Birthday

Excerpt from

(May 30, 2006) *For her birthday on Sept. 4, Beyonce will go against tradition and give away a present – her long-awaited sophomore solo album, appropriately titled, “B’Day.” The Music World Music/Sony Urban Music/Columbia Records set, featuring all new music co-produced, written and arranged by Beyonce, will be released worldwide on the 4th, and in the United States a day later on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Beyonce finished work on her new studio album three weeks after the wrap of her upcoming film, "Dreamgirls," due for release on Dec. 22. The former Destiny’s Child standout also sings on the film’s soundtrack. “B’Day’s” first single, "Deja Vu," features Beyonce reteaming with her boyfriend Jay-Z in hopes of matching the success of their previous collaboration, “Crazy in Love,” the first single from her 2003 debut solo album, “Dangerously in Love.”  *Speaking of Jay-Z, In Touch weekly is reporting that Beyonce has put him on a diet to shed some extra pounds. The singer, who reportedly went on a water and cayenne pepper diet to slim down quickly for “Dreamgirls,” has the rap mogul eating lean proteins and vegetables, and steering clear of candy, his favourite food. The effort has already resulted in a loss of about 15 pounds, the magazine reports. A source tells In Touch: "Beyonce likes a little meat on his bones, but not too much ... [and Jay Z] was getting chunky."  Jay Z, 36, was reportedly thirty pounds lighter when he and Beyonce began dating in 2003.


We Remember Desmond Dekker

Excerpt from

(May 30, 2006) *Desmond Dekker, the pioneering music legend who introduced Jamaican ska music to the world, has died, his manager said Friday. He was 64.  The singer collapsed from an apparent heart attack Thursday at his home in England, his manager Delroy Williams said. In 1969, Dekker’s single "Israelites" reached the Top 10 in both Britain and the United States as the first international hit produced by Jamaica's vibrant music scene. With its haunting vocals and catchy groove, it introduced the world to ska, a precursor to reggae. "Desmond was the first legend, believe it or not," Williams told The Associated Press. "When he released 'Israelites' nobody had heard of Bob Marley — he paved the way for all of them." Dekker, born Desmond Dacres in 1941, worked as a welder in Kingston before signing with Leslie Kong's Beverley's record label and releasing his first single, "Honor Your Father and Your Mother," in 1963. It was followed by Jamaican hits including "King of Ska."   Other songs in his library celebrated the culture of violent street gangs, or "rude boys" — "Rude Boy Train," "Rudie Got Soul" and "007 (Shanty Town)," which featured on the soundtrack of the seminal Jamaican film "The Harder They Come." Dekker, who was divorced, is survived by a son and a daughter. Funeral details are pending.


Brazilian Guitarist Da Silva Dies

Excerpt from

(May 29, 2006) Brazilian guitar player Horondino Jose da Silva, better known as "Dino Sete Cordas," or "Dino Seven Strings," for the instrument he pioneered, died Saturday (May 27) in Rio de Janeiro. He was 88.  Da Silva had been hospitalized for pneumonia, his family said.  He was a member of the Golden Epoch group that in the 1960s won national acclaim for its interpretations of "choro," a melancholy musical style that became a staple of Brazilian popular music.  He performed on the radio with samba singer and actor Carmen Miranda and composed songs with musicians including Elis Regina, Clara Nunes, Noel Rosa and Pixinguinha.


Sting Plans 'Strange, Delightful' New Album

Excerpt from - Jason MacNeil, Toronto

(May 26, 2006) Sting plans to release a new album in October -- a disc full of 16th century music performed on the lute. According to his Web site, the as-yet untitled set will be issued on the classical label Deutsche Grammophon.  "It's a strange record, a delightful record and I think people will be intrigued by it," Sting says in a video interview on his site. "The album is voice and lute, there are a few four part harmonies that I sing and it's all music from the 16th century."  Sting was given a lute as a gift by guitarist Dominic Miller approximately two years ago. The gift reminded Sting of his long-time fascination with 16th century composer John Dowland who wrote songs especially for the lute.  Dowland, who died in 1626, is perhaps best known for his song "Flow My Tears." "He was really the first singer/songwriter that we know of and so a lot of us owe our living to this man," Sting says of the composer. The idea for the album came to fruition after a meeting with Edin Karamazov, a Bosnian lute player. No track listing has been announced.  Sting begins a summer European tour in Lisbon June 4; the tour also visits Russia, Israel, Scandinavia and Monaco, concluding July 30 in Vilnius, Lithuania.


Clapton Rounds Up Fall U.S. Tour

Excerpt from - Ray Waddell, Nashville

(May 25, 2006) As expected, Eric Clapton will follow his sold-out European tour with a North American run this fall, beginning Sept. 16 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.  Highlights of the 14-country sold-out European tour include a seven-night stand at London's Royal Albert Hall and a historic show in Moscow's Red Square.  Clapton's touring band consists of Doyle Bramhall II and Derek Trucks on guitars, Chris Stainton and Tim Carmon on keyboards, Willie Weeks on bass, Steve Jordan on drums, the Kick Horns: Simon Clarke, Roddy Lorimer, and Tim Sanders on brass, and backing vocals by Michelle John and Sharon White.  The Robert Cray Band will serve as the opening act for U.S. shows.  The last of the announced 20 dates is Oct. 23 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. More dates are expected to be announced.


Chamillionaire 'Rides' To Top Of Hot 100

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(May 25, 2006) Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" featuring Krayzie Bone ascends two rungs to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week. The cut ends the three-week run of Rihanna's "SOS," which falls to No. 3 on the Hot 100 but remains atop the Pop 100 for a fourth week.  Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" holds at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and reclaims the top spot on the Hot Digital Songs chart, where "SOS" falls to No. 2. The Powter track also leads the Adult Contemporary chart for a fifth frame.  The songs in the Hot 100's 4-7 slots stay put: Sean Paul's "Temperature," Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go" featuring Holly Brook, Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California" and Lil Jon's "Snap Yo Fingers" featuring E-40 & Sean Paul Of The YoungBloodZ, respectively. "Dani California" leads the Modern Rock chart for a sixth week and remains atop the Mainstream Rock tally for a fourth.  Elsewhere on the Hot 100, the Fray's "Over My Head (Cable Car)" rises 10-8, while Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" featuring Timbaland rockets 30-9 and is the chart's greatest sales gainer.  T.I.'s "What You Know" descends 6-8 to round out the Hot 100 top tier. The cut surrenders its No. 1 spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart after six weeks to Yung Joc's "It's Goin' Down," which climbs 3-1.  Field Mob's "So What" featuring Ciara is the Hot 100's greatest airplay gainer, rising 33-31, and Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" is the chart's top debut at No. 54.  Also new are Ashley Parker Angel's "Soundtrack To Your Life" (No. 75), Toby Keith's "A Little Too Late" (No. 93), Rodney Atkins' "If You're Going Through Hell (Before The Devil Even Knows)" (No. 96), India.Arie's "I Am Not My Hair" (No. 97), Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Snow (Hey Oh)" (No. 98) and Craig Morgan's "I Got You" (No. 99).  On the Hot Country Songs tally, Dierks Bentley's "Settle For A Slowdown" rises 2-1, sending Jason Aldean's "Why" to No. 2 after one week. Bubba Sparxxx' "Ms. New Booty" featuring Ying Yang Twins and Mr. ColliPark holds atop the Hot Ringtones chart for an eighth week, while Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" featuring Wyclef Jean leads the Hot Latin Songs chart for a second.


Pac’s Pops

Excerpt from

(May 31, 2006) *Dr. Mutulu Shakur, the jailed father of late rapper Tupac Shakur, is preparing to drop a new album to commemorate what would have been his son’s 35th birthday. “A 2Pac Tribute: Dare 2 Struggle,” due June 16, will feature incarcerated rappers alongside signed artists such as the Outlawz, reports MTV. Mutulu Shakur has been behind bars for 19 years for activities in support of the Black Liberation Movement.



May 29, 2006

Aaliyah, Aaliyah [Bonus Track], Snapper Classics
Butterfingers, Deeper You Dig, WEA/Warner
Chris Brown, Chris Brown's Journey, Jive
DJ Screw, Royalty of Rap, BCD Music Group
Gangsta Dre, The Best of Gangsta Dre, Black Armor
Kanye West, Late Orchestration: Live at Abbey Road Studios, Universal International
Khalil, Tease U, Please U, Eve
Lil' Flip, Roofback, BCD Music Group
Los Ninos del Reggaeton, Los Ninos del Reggaeton: Solo Exitos, Sony International
Meli'sa Morgan, High Maintenance, Orpheus
Mr. Shadow, Dirty Money, PR
T.I., Gangsta Grillz: The Leak, BCD Music Group
The Average White Band, The Very Best of Average White Band [BMG], BMG
The Commodores, Live [Unidisc], Unidisc
Various Artists, Best of Salsoul, Unidisc
Yo Gotti, Full Time Hustlin', BCD Music Group
Young Jeezy, $Nowman, Ghetto Brothers
Young Jeezy, You Can't Ban the Snowman, BCD Music Group

June 6, 2006

2Pac, So Many Years, So Many Tears [DVD], Music Video Distributors
B Real, The Gunslinger, BCD Music Group
Billy Ocean, The Best of Billy Ocean, Jive Legacy
Busta Rhymes, The Big Bang [Clean], Aftermath
Caz, Undisputed, Cleopatra
Cham, Ghetto Story [Single], Bad Boy
Chic, Le Freak: Live, Cleopatra
Clipse, Mr. Me Too [Single], Arista
Cocoa Tea, Save Us Oh Jah, VP Records
Dionne Warwick, Best of Dionne Warwick: Live [Direct Source], Direct Source
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, The Very Best of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Jive Legacy
DJ Khaled, Listen, Koch
DJ Quik, Greatest Hits Live at the House of Blues, Mad Science
Dr. Dre, Death Row's Greatest Hits: The Chronicles [Clean], Death Row
E. Moss, Beatboxes at Dawn [EP], Southern Records
Fred Wesley, It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing, Sons Of Sound
Glen Washington, Heart of the City, Don One
GLP, In the Streets of Filmoe (The Lost Album), SMC Recordings
Groove Machine, World Cup: A Musical Celebration [Bonus Track], St. Clair
Ice Cube, Cry Later Laugh Now, Lench Mob
India.Arie, I Am Not My Hair, Motown
Jahir & The Experiment, Jahir and the Experiment,
Lil' Kim, Remixes [Maxi Single], Atlantic / Wea
Lil' Tweety, Most Requested, Thump
Lloyd Campbell, Fighting Dub 1975-1979, Cooking Vinyl
Los Nandez, Los Nandez, Universal Latino
Lou Rawls, The Very Best of Lou Rawls, Capitol
MC Solaar, Mach 6, WEA International
Mekalek/Percee P/Fedd Hill, Live and Learn, Glow in the Dark
Mesianico, Con Furia, Bungalo
Mint Condition, 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection, Hip-O
N.O.R.E., Norminacal the Underbelly Mixtape,
Nashawn, Napalm, Cleopatra
Nasio, Universal Cry, Greensleeves
Nick Cannon, My Wife [Single], Umvd Labels
O.G. Ron C., Da Wreckin' Yard Lesson 4, Oarfin
Pocos Pero Locos, The Shotcaller, Silent Giant
Ray Cash, C.O.D.: Cash on Delivery, Columbia
Sugafree, The Features, Vol. 1,
Terror Squad, DJ Khaled: Listennn...The Album!, Koch
Terror Squad, DJ Khaled: Listennn...The Album! [Clean], Koch
The Average White Band, The Very Best of Average White Band [BMG], BMG
The Jackson 5, Jackson 5 Story, Universal International
The Notorious B.I.G., The Legend Lives On, United States of Distribution
Tricky Bizniss, Day to Day, Esntion
Various Artists, Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Sisters, Atlantic
Various Artists, Best of Blue Eyed Soul, Time Life/Universal
Various Artists, Hip Hop: The Evolution, WEA International
Various Artists, Crucial Reggae Funk Party, Trojan
Various Artists, Crucial Reggae Soul Party, Trojan
Various Artists, Good Vibes: Reggae, Direct Source
Various Artists, The Beach: Reggae, Direct Source
Various Artists, Urbano Hip-Hop and Reggaeton, Universal Latino
Whodini, Funky Beat: The Best of Whodini, Jive Legacy
Will Downing, 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection, Hip-O
Yung Hawk, From Da Club 2 Da Hood,
Yung Joc, New Joc City, Bad Boy


Top Prize At Cannes A Can Of Worms

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere, Movie Critic

(May 28, 2006) CANNES—When the jury headed by the notoriously unconventional Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai hands out awards at tonight's closing of the 59th annual Cannes Film Festival, only this much is certain: no one has any idea what will happen.  While calling the award winners is always a crap shoot here — that's part of the festival's stubborn mystique — this year the process is even more handicap-resistant, for two reasons: Wong Kar-wai is heading the jury, and the field is rated one of the worst in recent memory.  A recurrent theme at Cannes is that the cinema — that's what they still call it here — is dead. But this competition program, allegedly winnowed down to around 20 films from over 1,500 submitted from around the world, has generated more negative press than any year that I can recall.  When Richard Kelly's highly anticipated Donnie Darko follow-up Southland Tales premiered, there were loud grumblings that it verged on disgrace that the movie, a sprawling satirical portrait of Los Angeles in the near future, had even been considered for selection.  Similar, less extreme, expressions of mystification greeted the unspooling of other Official Competition entries: the Italian movie L'Amico di Famiglia was vigorously booed following its premiere, as were Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (though it has found equally vigorous defenders) and the Portuguese-made Juventude em Marcha — if the latter's post-screening response was more subdued, it was because the film had generated so many walkouts. 

To these factors, add another, which is the weird cycle of buzz and neglect that movies can pass through during the length of the festival. For instance, while the Chinese film Summer Palace — which is very Wong Kar-wai-like in its sense of dreamy exposition — seemed to be a favourite of critics when it screened on the second day, within a week or so it seemed to have dropped off the radar. And if a film isn't being talked about here, it might as well not exist.  Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu's Babel was met with rapturous applause when it premiered a few days ago, but a growing chorus of naysayers has since compromised the movie's status as a top-prize slam-dunk.  Then there is Pedro Almodovar's Volver, which was initially met by a mixed response but later picked up critical momentum, not to mention Palme d'Or buzz, as the festival progressed. Personally, this is where my bets are going, and not because I think it's the best movie in the field.  My money's on Volver for more mystical reasons: since it screened on a morning when I didn't receive my hotel wake-up call, and since I've managed somehow to miss seeing the eventual Palme d'Or winner on at least three occasions, I'm convinced it's a sure thing.  It's as good a theory as any to handicap the proudly most unpredictable movie event of them all.

The Great Escapee

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(May 29, 2006) Three years ago, Ed Norton met with writer-director David Jacobson to talk about an odd script Jacobson had crafted called Down in the Valley. “I started thinking,” recalls Norton, “‘This is so weird, maybe we can't pull it off.'” In Norton's world, this was a good sign. He'd had the same feeling — a “frisson,” he calls it — about Fight Club, American History X and The 25th Hour. “Movies like that, I generally have had the feeling of, ‘Wow, this might not work,' and when I've had that feeling, it's generally produced the more interesting stuff.” That may be the way art works; it is not the way movies and the actors in them usually do. But though Norton is just 36, and has been making films for only about a decade, he's already getting to the point in his career that he's not sure how much longer he wants to keep acting onscreen. The process isn't usually all that rewarding, especially for an actor used to the sustained rigour of the stage, as is Norton, where performers live and die in the spotlight each night. And he's always prided himself on being a bit of a lone ranger, trying to forge new paths in an overworn landscape. Which is an apt metaphor, if you consider the “so weird” project he was talking about, which is now playing in Toronto and Vancouver. Norton stars in Down in the Valley as one Harlan Carruthers, a drifter outfitted with a cowboy hat, a lazy drawl and an old-school chivalry. Harlan strikes up a romance with an underage girl (Evan Rachel Wood) named Tobe — short for October — who is trying to squeeze out from under the thumb of her watchful father (David Morse) while providing the only friendship in the life of her shy foster brother, Lonnie (Rory Culkin). Harlan seems like a character from another time, and for a while he and Tobe exist in a swirling fantasyland of open hearts, old-fashioned manners and white horses in open spaces. What young girl, after all, wouldn't fall for a handsome fellow who offers her this sort of beguiling advice: “You can do anything you want to do; you can be anything you want to be. You just have to decide on it.”

But Harlan seems to have taken those words to heart more than might be strictly advisable: Taking inspiration from the filmic myths of the American West, he has escaped the harshness of his own life by creating himself, a man more comfortable being out of time than living in the soulless present. (Jacobson based the story on his own upbringing in California's San Fernando Valley, bereft of meaningful cultural information beyond the flood of American movies, TV shows, music and other media.) “I really liked the idea of making a western about the West, as David and I and people our age are actually experiencing it, and kind of looking at that fantasy, looking at whether it's something that existed that's been lost — or did it only exist in the movies in the first place?” says the Boston-born Norton, sitting in a spartan hotel meeting room abandoned by his publicists and other journalists. The table is a postprandial wasteland, dotted with empty bottles of mineral water, crumpled napkins and cookie crumbs. “You could argue that some of America's delusions about itself, if those are delusions, some of them are dangerous because we anchor our pride in them,” he continues. “Our president still puts on a cowboy hat. He's a rich kid from a Connecticut family who still acts like a cowboy. Maybe he's as deluded as Harlan is. “I think it's interesting to prick holes in the myth of the West or the myth of America, because some people still think that's what we are, and you know, we've pretty much paved it over and left people adrift, and we're not really accounting for the psychic consequences. “I like the idea of a man and a girl trying to ride on a horse across the West. If you did that today, what you'd actually run into is about six freeways and about seven tract-housing developments. In that sense it felt to me like something that people might be able to recognize their own experience in.”

So that initial frisson of anxiety, of walking the line of being able to pull it off, wasn't the only thing about Down in the Valley that reminded Norton of those other films of his: “In the broadest sense, I felt that they're all dissections of the way we're living right now, on many levels,” he says. “I recognize in it my generation's spiritual issues, in a way. And this will sound like a strange comparison but, not dissimilar to Fight Club, it seemed to me like it was about people trapped in a modern world that makes them feel very numb and very disconnected to each other, and very inauthentic, seeking desperately, almost, a feeling of authenticity.  “Harlan, in a lot of ways, is not unlike my character in Fight Club, in that he's willing to engage in desperate fantasy to create that feeling of the real.” Down in the Valley has had a troubled history. After appearing at last year's Cannes Film Festival, it failed to find a distributor, so Jacobson (with Norton, one of the film's producers, looking over his shoulder) cut about 20 minutes from the film. Even if the result is an often-hypnotic spell of themes and action, the film had trouble shaking its bad aura. For Norton, though, the experience of the work itself, and the notion of art spreading ideas, is enough reward. The Down in the Valley press kit includes a biography for Norton that stretches out to a page and a half, outlining the various social and environmental organizations to which he belongs: the Enterprise Foundation (affordable housing), Solar Neighbours (providing solar-power technology to low-income homeowners), Middle East Peacemakers Fund (a program at his alma mater, Yale, to provide grants for students to travel to the region) and Friends of the High Line (involved in the conversion of an elevated New York rail bed into a public park). He is also a major financial supporter of about a dozen environmental organizations. Because, while he got into acting thanks to a compulsion to perform, it is the effect of art on people that keeps him in it now.  “I think sometimes, at its best, with things that are unformed or unconscious in our heads collectively, art can help crystallize them,” he says.  “People talk about this idea of memes, ideas floating around like in an evolutionary sense, you know? And I do think that's part of the role art plays. Art has the capacity in a way to seed thought, to seed ideas, and it is a vector through which ideas move, and which people — with things they're only dimly aware of — start to crystallize. “Something will suddenly really communicate, and in those moments maybe what you're hoping to do is speed the process of reconsideration forward. I think that's good.”

‘Wind That Shakes the Barley' wins Palme d'Or

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - DAVID GERMAIN, Associated Press

CANNES, France — British director Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a saga set amid Ireland's struggle for independence in the early 1920s, won top honours Sunday in an unanimous vote at the Cannes Film Festival. It was the first time veteran filmmaker Loach won the main prize after seven earlier entries in the main competition at the world's most prestigious film festival. The Wind That Shakes the Barley stars Cillian Murphy as an Irish medical student who takes up arms against a reign of terror by the Black and Tans, British troops sent in to quell calls for independence. Loach, who previously won the third-place prize at Cannes with 1990's Hidden Agenda and 1993's Raining Stones, said he hoped the film would be a small step encouraging the British to “confront their imperial history. And maybe, if we tell the truth about the past, maybe we tell the truth about the present.” Prizes for best actor and actress went to ensemble casts. Penelope Cruz and her five key cast mates in Pedro Almodovar's Volver, including Carmen Maura, Yohana Cobo and Lola Duenas, shared the actress prize. The film, a comic drama about women making do without men, also won the screenplay honour for director Almodovar.

“It's such an honour to be able to share this award with all these amazing women,” Cruz said. “I think this award really belongs to Pedro, the master. ... Thank you so much, Pedro, for what you do for women.” The men of Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb's World War II saga Days of Glory, about North African Muslims who volunteered in the fight to free France from the Nazis, received the best-actor honour. The cast included French stars Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri and Sami Bouajila. In accepting the award, the Days of Glory cast joined in on an anthem sung by French colonial soldiers during World War II. Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won the directing prize for Babel, which featured Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in a multicultural drama about loosely linked families around the globe. Inarritu said more than 1,000 people contributed to the production of the film and that “I'm receiving this award on behalf of all of them.” The grand prize for second-place film was given to French director Bruno Dumont's Flanders, a stark drama following soldiers from dreary farm country through a grisly tour of duty in the Middle East. The third-place jury prize went to British filmmaker Andrea Arnold's Red Road, a sombre tale about a Scottish woman carrying out surveillance on a man responsible for tragedy in her past.

“Only about five hours ago I was in London, so this is very strange,” first-time director Arnold told the Cannes crowd. “It means that maybe more people will see my film, which is very important.” The award for best film from a first-time director went to Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu for his Christmas drama A Fost Sau N-A Fost? On Saturday, Chinese director Wang Chao's Luxury Car, about a retired teacher searching for his lost son, won top honours in a secondary Cannes competition called Un Certain Regard. The main competition's three high-profile American films — including Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst as the 18th century French queen — were shut out for prizes. Marie Antoinette earned praise for its style and visual panache but was criticized as a superficial treatment of the Austrian aristocrat who became a symbol of extravagance preceding the French Revolution. The other U.S. entries were Richard Linklater's consumer satire Fast Food Nation, which had a lukewarm reaction, and Richard Kelly's darkly comic tale of apocalypse Southland Tales, which received a scathing response from critics who scorned it as self-indulgent nonsense. The nine-member jury that chose Cannes winners was headed by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai and included actors Samuel L. Jackson, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth, Monica Bellucci and Ziyi Zhang. Wong said the decision for the top prize was unanimous. The 59th edition of the world's most prestigious film festival opened May 17 with Tom Hanks and Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code, which received a harsh reception from Cannes critics but went on to become an instant blockbuster the following weekend. The film did not compete for prizes at Cannes. Other high-profile films that screened out of competition included the superhero adventure X-Men: The Last Stand, the animated comedy Over the Hedge and the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, chronicling former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's efforts to educate the public about global warming.

Movie Star Romances Make Sense, Experts Say

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Sandy Cohen, Associated Press

(May 30, 2006) LOS ANGELES — Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise. Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas. Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. Penelope Cruz and Matthew McConaughey. Jen and Ben. Angelina and Brad.  High-profile pairings all. And all share another thing: love bloomed on the set.  The latest addition to the list, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn — whose coupledom has been reported widely, though they refuse to officially confirm it — met while making The Break-Up, which opens Friday.  Cynics might say these set-sparked couplings are nothing more than publicity stunts. Experts, though, insist workplace romances are common and make perfect sense. The workplace for movie stars just happens to be bathed in a spotlight.  Celeb partnering is "an almost surreal example of what happens in real life," said Kristin Kelly, spokeswoman for the dating website "It's natural for people who are in the same profession who spend so much time together to forge a relationship."  There's more to it than that, said Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and author of Why We Love.  Like attracts like, in terms of looks and lifestyle, and "a movie star rarely runs into somebody as good looking as they are," Fisher said. Except maybe on the set.  Actors might also be more vulnerable to falling in love. Those who seek performance as a profession tend to be risk-takers, she said.  Plus, she added, the on-set environment can induce an intoxicating physical reaction.  "Any kind of novelty or excitement drives up dopamine in the brain, and dopamine is associated with romantic love," Fisher said. ``I wouldn't be surprised if movie sets literally set the stage for romantic love."

It's easy to believe, considering some stars fall for their leading ladies or men again and again. Cruz dated Cruise (Vanilla Sky) and Matt Damon (All the Pretty Horses) before hooking up with McConaughey, her Sahara co-star.  McConaughey was previously linked with two of his A Time to Kill co-stars, Ashley Judd and Sandra Bullock. Cruise connected with Kidman, his wife of 10 years, on Days of Thunder.  Ben Affleck met Jennifer Lopez on the Gigli set and they got engaged. Then he met Jennifer Garner on Daredevil and they got engaged. He and Garner are now married and have a six-month-old daughter, Violet.  Pitt hooked up with his former longtime love, Gwyneth Paltrow, while filming Seven. He previously dated Juliette Lewis, his co-star on the TV movie Too Young to Die, and Jill Schoelen, with whom he starred in 1989's Cutting Class.  Actors keep a round-the-clock schedule during filming, working long hours away from home for weeks at a time. An exotic locale only adds to a feeling of unreality, said Jeremy Ritzlin, a West Hollywood psychologist.  "It's like a summer-camp romance," he said.  Then there's the chemistry component. The same on-screen compatibility that makes a movie successful can translate into offscreen romance, Kelly said.  "You can't fake that kind of chemistry," she said. "It's very easy for it to go from something that happens when the camera is rolling to something that happens when the camera's not rolling."  In The Break-Up, Aniston and Vaughn play a couple ending their two-year relationship while still living together. They spend much of their screen time fighting. The shooting in Chicago took a month and a half — more than enough time, it seems, for romance to bloom?  Aniston was fresh off her very public split from Pitt in March 2005 when The Break-Up offered an outlet for her hurt feelings, plus a charming leading man.  Publicity-wise, the twosome's offscreen dallying has helped the film, said Adam Fogelson, president of marketing for Universal Pictures.

"Just about everyone knows this movie is coming," he told Entertainment Weekly. "All the attention that Vince and Jen have gotten over the last many months is substantially responsible."  Besides building buzz, celebrity relationships can build careers, said Hollywood publicist Michael Levine. Kidman rose to the A-list after hooking up with Cruise, who had a similar career-boosting effect on Cruz.  Fans like star couplings too, Levine said.  "It plays to the need of the audience for a fairy-tale story line," he said.  But it's not just the on-set environment that makes for star-star romance, Kelly said.  Though single celebs presumably have their pick when it comes to potential partners, they have to be wary of who they choose, she said. Sometimes only another star can understand them.  "(Celebrities) are very guarded and don't have a lot of interaction outside their small social circle," she said. "When they meet someone living in their same surreal world who understands it, there's a connection.


Latifah Finds 'Support' For HBO Telefilm

Excerpt from - Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter

(May 24, 2006) Queen Latifah has signed on to star in HBO Films' "Life Support," a telefilm that centers on the HIV crisis in the black community.  The actress will also executive-produce the HBO project with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx ("Ray"), Jaime King ("Ray"), Marcus King (WB Network's "The Jamie Foxx Show"), Shakim Compere ("Beauty Shop") and Emmy nominee Shelby Stone (HBO's "Lackawanna Blues").  "Support," based on the life of writer-director Nelson George's sister and their family, is a depiction of the black community's HIV crisis as told through the true story of one survivor -- a mother, former crack addict and current AIDS activist played by Queen Latifah.  Mark Baker is producing the movie, while George (HBO's "The Chris Rock Show") will direct from his own script. Shooting begins next month in New York.  Queen Latifah's recent film credits include "Ice Age: The Meltdown," "Last Holiday," "Beauty Shop" and "Taxi." She was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar and Golden Globe in 2003 for her role in "Chicago."  Her upcoming film credits include Columbia Pictures' "Stranger Than Fiction," opposite Will Ferrell and Dustin Hoffman.


Bellucci To Play India's Sonia Gandhi

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(May 31, 2006) NEW DELHI— Monica Bellucci will star in a film about Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, who married into India's most powerful political dynasty and now heads the country's ruling party, the Times of India reported yesterday.  The Italian actress agreed to take on the role after reading the script, said producer Sunanda Murli Manohar. "Her confirmation finally puts a seal on the deal," Manohar said. "She is excited about the prospect of playing Sonia Gandhi."  Jagmohan Mundhra, a well-known Indian filmmaker, will direct the movie. Shooting is expected to begin in September.  Bellucci, 37, starred in 2004's The Passion of the Christ.  Gandhi's husband, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was assassinated in a 1991 suicide bombing.  His mother, Indira Gandhi — the country's longest-serving prime minister — also was assassinated, and his grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was India's first prime minister.  Sonia Gandhi refused the prime minister's job when her Congress party and its allies won elections in May 2004 because of opposition from Hindu nationalists, who argued that a person of non-Indian heritage should not lead the country.  Mundhra's Provoked, starring Aishwarya Rai, was screened at this year's Cannes Film Festival.  


Chris Tucker To Get ‘Gangster’ In Next Film

Excerpt from

(May 31, 2006) *Actor Chris Tucker has lined up a popular Bollywood film for his follow-up to “Rush Hour 3.”  Titled “Gangster M.D.,” the film is a remake of the popular Indian film “Munnabhai MBBS,” about a mafia don who enrolls in medical school to better himself and impress his girlfriend. "Chris Tucker will be playing the main character in the film," director Mira Nair told the Mumbai Mirror newspaper, adding that filming should begin after Tucker wraps production on "Rush Hour 3." In the original Indian film, the mafia wise guy pretends to be a doctor whenever his parents visit him from their village. But when his cover is blown, he decides to step up his game by becoming a real doctor — which he hopes will also prove himself to the woman he loves and her father, a hospital superintendent. Nair (“Mississippi Masala,” “Monsoon Wedding”) says she may cast some members of the original Bollywood film for the remake, which became a hit in 2004 in India and among South Asians living abroad. Nair also plans to cast an Indian woman in the lead opposite Tucker. The script for “Gangster M.D.” was written by Jason Filardi, who penned the Queen Latifah/Steve Martin comedy, “Bringing Down the House.”


Forest Whitaker Has A ‘Point’

Excerpt from

(May 31, 2006) *Forest Whitaker is following up two high-profile roles with a part in the upcoming assassination thriller “Vantage Point” for Columbia Pictures. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the actor will play an American tourist in Madrid who happens to capture video footage of a man trying to assassinate the visiting U.S. president. The project, which co-stars Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox and William Hurt, unfolds from five points of view, and in 15-minute increments Whitaker’s role comes on the heels of early praise for his portrayal of dictator Idi Amin in the upcoming drama "The Last King of Scotland," due in theatres Sept. 27. The 44-year-old Longview, Texas native has also garnered Emmy buzz for his season long stint on FX's "The Shield," playing the nemesis of Michael Chiklis' character. He recently wrapped Jieho Lee's ensemble drama "The Air I Breathe" and is voicing a character in Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are."



From The O.C. to B.C.

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(May 28, 2006) Fans know her best as the hot, Chardonnay-swilling mom on Fox's enduring hit teen drama The O.C. But tomorrow night (CTV, 9 p.m. ET), Ottawa-born actress Kelly Rowan will don a new, grittier guise in a based-on-a-true-story TV movie, Eight Days to Live, where she plays a mother desperately searching for her 19-year-old son, missing for days in bear-infested bush in B.C. On the phone from her home in Los Angeles, Rowan says the two characters -- The O.C.'s Gucci-clad Kirsten Cohen of Newport Beach, and the parka-wearing mom Teresa Spring of Aldergrove, B.C. -- could not be more opposite. "We shot this movie in 19 days, outside of Vancouver," recounts Rowan. "During that time frame, I was on eight planes. I'd shoot two days on The O.C., then fly north, do the movie, and then back to do The O.C. It felt like I was putting my heels on one day, and hiking boots the next." The CTV movie -- co-produced with Toronto's Shaftesbury Films and directed by Norma Bailey (The Sheldon Kennedy Story) -- was shot primarily in Squamish, a small lumber town an hour's drive from Vancouver. And it was inspired by a true event that drew national and international attention in May, 2001, when Joe Spring went missing after setting off to visit a friend in northern B.C. But the guts of the story, adds Rowan, is "basically a woman's heroic journey to find her son against all odds and obstacles.

"If she'd settled -- and listened to those around her who said there was nothing anyone could do to help her son -- she would never have found him. It's not your typical TV movie in that this family had a lot of dysfunction. Her marriage was a mess -- and then her son goes missing -- at a time when she was barely keeping it all together. What's interesting to me is that in the midst of all this adversity, this family comes together. I liked that." Rowan is just back from a TV festival in Milan to promote The O.C. (where she also took a few extra days for a mini-vacation) and is now eager to get back to work on some new projects with business partner Graham Ludlow. Through their production company Colossal Entertainment, Ludlow and Rowan are teaming up again with Shaftesbury to make another TV film called In God's Country, inspired by last year's allegations of abuse in the polygamous community in Bountiful, B.C. This movie will start shooting in rural Ontario in June. Again, Rowan co-produces and stars as a woman who flees her Mormon husband with her five children. "As you get older, you have other interests you want to pursue as well," says Rowan. "You want more input in terms of the development process. Working with writers and directors is really fulfilling. And the creative process is challenging. I like the variety."  Rowan says the hectic shooting schedule of The O.C. is all-consuming. They typically start filming in early July and wrap the following May. And as followers of the Fox drama know, in last week's season finale, the willowy teen-in-angst Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) was killed in a car wreck -- a plot twist that Rowan and her cast mates didn't even know was coming. "We found out during the last episode," insists Rowan, who plays the winsome, blond Kirsten, wife of public defender Sandy (Peter Gallagher).

"The last six pages were missing at the end of the script. We were informed we were going to shoot two different endings and then make a decision." Rumours swirled that Barton wanted out to pursue a feature-film career, but if that's the case, Rowan's not spilling dirt. "I have no idea," she insists. "All I know is we just got picked up for 16 new episodes. Still, it's hard to lose a cast member," she adds. "She was a really important element of the show, and there was a real bond between those four teenage characters. "I still enjoy doing The O.C. But series TV has its challenges. You are playing the same character year after year. "Having said that, the show's provided me with a lot of different opportunities. I just did a Tommy Bahama [fashion] campaign. At the end of the day, I get paid to do what I love, so what is there to complain about?"

Next Top Model a Sure Catfight — Please

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon,

(May 31, 2006) The models! The expressions! The shoots! The challenges! The dream! The catfights!  Ladies and gentlemen, the East York Bunker is thrilled to announce the premiere of Canada's Next Top Model (Citytv, 8 tonight). The series — a harbinger of this summer's "reality" onslaught — is a homegrown version of America's Next Top Model.  So, without watching even one minute, we can reliably formulate a gestalt impression: leggy, impossibly thin hotties (the models!) with Everest-high cheekbones, bee-stung lips and pouty eyes (the expressions!) will strut and pose (the shoots!) while cajoling and competing (the challenges!) for the coveted honour (the dream!).  What happened to the catfights, you ask? People, the catfights are my dream. Unless the wife is reading this dispatch, in which case that's a lie. My dream is actually tidiness, chores and timely lawn care.  Whoever wins Canada's Next Top Model doesn't just win a competition. But don't take my word for it.  "Whoever wins Canada's Next Top Model doesn't just win a competition," declares Jay Manuel, the razor-tongued stylist and makeup artist who emerged as a fan favourite on the American series thanks to his colourful bluntness.  "What she wins is the right to work in this business. And, really, she's going to be thrust into the international spotlight, not just Canada."  Manuel, a Toronto native and global fashionista, serves as a guest judge on Canada's Next Top Model.  His job description also includes greeting the girls and helping to "get their energies riled up," which sounds like a pretty cool gig.  How did the girls react to being in the presence of Manuel? After all, this is a guy with an "innate sense of aesthetics," a fellow who has worked with just about everybody in the entertainment industry, including Jennifer Lopez, Rebecca Romijn, Mya, Kim Cattrall, Naomi Campbell, Iman and Toni Braxton.

"I think the girls were quite surprised to see me in the beginning," he recalls. "They weren't ready for me because I brought a different — I don't want to say harshness — but a reality to the competition."  The fashion industry, you see, is not all glamour and champagne and jet-setting and tabloid scandal. It can be hard work, a fact that's often overlooked by wide-eyed newcomers.  "There are some girls who are really willing to go the distance and they want to live, breathe and eat this business," says Manuel, who may be the first person to ever use the word "eat" in a fashion context.  "And then there are some girls who just want to get their hair and nails done. It's so funny to me how some of these girls will walk in and I'll say something about a designer and they'll say, `Who's that?' Or I'll ask them what fashion magazines they read and they don't know."  For shame!  Canada's Next Top Model is hosted by Tricia Helfer. The "expert panel" includes Fashion Television's Jeanne Beker, stylist Paul Venoit and model-slash-runway coach Stacey McKenzie.  More than 1,300 aspiring Canadians flocked to auditions, a number that was reduced to a more TV-friendly 10. When the tears stop and the weekly eliminations are no more, one will earn a $100,000 "beauty contract."  So did the girls fully grasp this platinum opportunity?  "I don't think they were thinking beyond Canada," says Manuel. "They weren't thinking internationally like Tokyo, Paris, Milan."  As he points out, "there are a lot of successful models who come out of Canada. You will find scouts coming up to Canada all the time trying to snag girls. I don't know. Maybe there's something in the water."  To purists, exhale: the Canadian version of the show is faithful to the American original.  "I'm very proud to say it doesn't differ that much," says Manuel. "I think the Canadian audience — especially the real fanatics — can look forward to something that is the same."

The American show, he adds, wasn't taken seriously by the fashion industry when Cycle 1 premiered in 2003. That's changed. When Manuel is doing red carpet correspondent work for E!, A-list celebrities are constantly confessing their love.  Even fashion insiders are hooked on Tyra Banks' show: "I know for a fact that Anna Wintour from Vogue watches."  Who's that?  Manuel has some closing advice for aspiring Canadian models.  "Perfect is boring. Perfect can be a dime a dozen in this business. Don't be afraid to be different."  And, if we had more time, I'm sure he would have stressed the importance of a good catfight.

Canada's Next Top Skanky Reality Show

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - John Doyle,

(May 31, 2006) The photo on several TV magazine covers this past weekend featured a skinny, angular-faced woman by the name of Helfer. In some instances, she was "Tricia" Helfer and in others, "Trisha" Helfer. Whatever. I am unclear about the exact identity of this Helfer woman. Copious research revealed to me that Helfer is from Alberta, and the consensus is that she's really hot. In fact, you have to search high and low to find a sentence about Helfer that does not include the word "hot." I can't see it myself, but as the entire population of the People's Republic of Globe Readers will acknowledge, I'm funny that way. Anyway, it turns out that Helfer is a model. Magazine covers, that sort of thing. Armani, Chanel and Herbal Essences. Victoria's Secret and other purveyors of intimate apparel for ladies. Also, and inevitably, Helfer is an actress. She's been in TV movies and the CSI series. Most famously, I gather, she's a hottie robot on Battlestar Galactica. Helfer is on those TV magazines because she's the "hostess with the mostest" (as one mag called her) of Canada's Next Top Model (CITY-TV stations, 8 p.m.). This knockoff of America's Next Top Model involves Helfer and judges Jeanne Beker, Paul Venoit and Stacey McKenzie choosing a top Canadian model from among 10 contestants. In the photos supplied, these 10 young women all look like they're trying terrifically hard to look hot. God bless 'em. These Top Model shows, like many superficially skanky reality series, are addictive viewing for many people. That's not because they actually have much in the way of drama or even the possibility, in this case, that the winner will actually be a very successful model. It's because they are the most basic form of storytelling -- a journey.

All gripping storytelling is either about a battle or a journey. (Our Glorious Leader might not know it, but he's involved in a story, wobbling along on a journey trying to be Canada's Next Top Prime Minister. Or maybe he's thinking Next Top President. But I digress.) Sometimes, both battle and journey are mixed up together. Often, there's a mentor figure. On America's Next Top Model you get the journey and the battles, as the young women get all catty and competitive. A certain frisson is added when it is ordinary people, not actors playing roles, who are making the journey. The mentor in the American version is Tyra Banks. Here, it's Helfer, Apparently, this Canadian version will follow the American format with some exactitude. The 10 young women will live together and try to perform those terribly important modelling tasks set by Helfer. Like getting out of bed and showing up to be primped for a photo shoot. In the American version, with Banks as the hostess with the mostest, some of the young women couldn't manage that. The contestants also have to do tricky stuff such as go to a store and buy clothes. But only clothes that conform to a certain style laid down by the hostess. Or something. Each week, one contestant will be eliminated. Will there be tears? You betcha. Will somebody have a hissy fit? You're darn tootin'! All of this will transpire over the next few weeks. I'm so sorry I'll be away and miss a lot of it. Really, I am. I'm funny that way. Extras (CH, 8:30 p.m.) finally arrives in Canada and, bizarrely, under the publicity radar. This, my friends, is Ricky Gervais's follow-up BBC series to The Office. Here, Gervais stars as fortysomething Andy, who works as an extra in various movies shooting around England. He tries and tries to make his background work into something substantial. He poses, he preens, he cozies up to the real actors and the director. Always, he gets it wrong. He's a cringe-inducing, self-regarding fool who knows no shame. He's David Brent gone showbiz. Mind you, Extras does not exactly copy The Office. While Andy is a fawning, shameless twerp who usually manages to say the wrong thing, he's not without some smarts when it comes to dealing with Hollywood types. One episode (it is probably the one tonight but I don't know if CH is following the original episode order) features Andy in a movie being directed by Ben Stiller and turns Andy's idiocy into something very useful.

Naturally, Andy ends up interfering in the filming and Stiller is furious. The following conversation takes place. Stiller: "Who are you?" Andy: "Nobody." Stiller: "That's right. And who am I?" Andy: "It's either Starsky or Hutch, I can never remember." Stiller: "Was that supposed to be funny?" Andy: "You tell me, you were in it." Other episodes feature Samuel L. Jackson, Kate Winslet and Patrick Stewart. If you can't abide the NBC remake of The Office and you are in withdrawal, looking for more of Gervais and his ferocious humour, here it is. Dates and times may vary across the country. Check local listings.


Oprah’s ‘Legends’ Beats ‘Deal Or No Deal’

Excerpt from

(May 24, 2006) *It was no deal this time for NBC, as its usual dominance in the 8 p.m. Monday timeslot with “Deal or No Deal” was bum rushed by Oprah Winfrey and her posse of legends. Drawing a 9.9 rating and 15 share of the audience, “Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball” placed first in the 8 p.m. hour, which bumped the popular NBC game show to second place with an 8.5/13 share.   Although Winfrey took over the first hour of prime time, the entire night belonged to CBS’s “CSI: Miami,” which drew a 13.6 rating and 21 share during its 10 p.m. timeslot.  In other Oprah news, BET will air its special edition of “Meet the Faith” featuring the TV mogul this Sunday at 11 a.m.    Interviewed in her Chicago home by BET host Carlos Watson, Winfrey will discuss her Broadway production of "The Color Purple," her commitment to building a leadership academy for girls in South Africa, as well as her own spirituality, personal initiatives and what she sees as her life's purpose.   “Meet the Faith” is a new Sunday talk show that offers a fresh and provocative take on world events through moral discussion.

Network Hopes America Wants To Get Gas

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(May 29, 2006) REGINA— Producers of top-ranked Canadian comedy Corner Gas are hoping to export the show's success to the U.S.  Now that the Saskatchewan-based sitcom has an average audience of 1.6 million viewers, CTV is hoping to further increase its popularity by shopping the show to American networks.  "We're very hopeful," executive producer Virginia Thompson said of the show's prospects in the U.S. "Corner Gas has broken every single possible boundary within the Canadian territory — let's hope it does the same down south."  To broker the deal, the television network signed Arthur Hasson, owner of Multi-Platform Distribution and former vice-president of NBC Universal Television Distribution.  At scheduled meetings with U.S. broadcasters over the next month, Hasson plans to pitch the show and snare a deal with two stations to run Corner Gas in syndication.  The series, Hasson predicts, could be running five days a week in the U.S. by the fall of 2007 or 2008, with the possibility of a weekly show even sooner.  "I wouldn't be involved if I didn't think it had great chances of success," he said in an interview from his New York office.  "The reason I was attracted to the show was because of its quality. It has all the earmarks of great television programming. It has great writing, it has great acting, it has really lovable and embraceable characters."  That said, can a show set in a Canadian province of which many Americans aren't even aware translate into ratings success in the U.S.?  Hasson thinks so. Most of the humour on the show is familiar to North Americans in general, he said.  "Corner Gas is small-town-centric," said Hasson. "There's absolutely no difference between Dog River, Saskatchewan, and any little town outside Des Moines, Iowa."  Thompson said Corner Gas's appeal is universal because the show's primary goal is to be funny.  "It's distinctively Prairie in its approach, but the Prairies go from north to south," she said.  "We've never hidden our Canadian-ness on the show at all and we haven't designed it, per se, to sell in the United States. We've designed it to be funny."



Colm Before The Storm

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(May 27, 2006) STRATFORD—"I'm planning to announce my candidacy for the Liberal Party leadership right after we open — just to boost sales."  Colm Feore's voice has the same ironic edge he uses whether he's declaiming blank verse or requesting a double espresso.  You have to look into his eyes to tell whether or not he's being serious and in this case, you can quickly spot the gleam of mockery.  Gerard Kennedy can sleep easier tonight.  It's not that Feore wouldn't make a good Liberal leader — in fact, he's already played one of the very best, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.  But these days, it isn't likely that he'd have the time.  The 47-year-old actor is currently about to open one of the most challenging seasons any performer has ever taken on at the Stratford Festival.  On May 29, he opens in the title role of Coriolanus, one of the most complex tragic figures in Shakespeare. The next night, he springs into song-and-dance mode as the wily Fagin in the musical Oliver!.  Then without a break, he starts rehearsing in both French and English as the leading character in Molière's Don Juan, opening in August.  For some actors, this would be a sure recipe for nervous exhaustion, but Feore is keen and alert, with ideas bursting from his fingertips as he paces around the rehearsal hall at Stratford on a bright spring morning.

"I thrive on multiplicity," he exults. "I love doing three things at once. I'm also taking cooking classes, guitar lessons, I'm kissing my children more, trying to grab my wife more often. I realize every minute is golden. We're alive, this is extraordinary. Let us try to savour every golden moment."  Just to set the record straight, it's not like Feore has exactly been a slacker up to this point in his life.  He was born in Boston on Aug. 22, 1958, but grew up in Windsor and went to school at Ridley College in St. Catharines, where the theatre bug truly bit him and one of his first parts was Fagin in Oliver!.  After attending the National Theatre School, he plunged right into the Stratford Festival, where he stayed 13 seasons, rising quickly through the ranks and playing a dazzling assortment of leading roles that included Romeo, Hamlet, Richard III, Iago and Petruchio.  He left in 1994 to pursue a film career, his decision fuelled by his acclaimed performance as the iconoclastic Canadian pianist in Francois Girard's Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.  Since then, he's been featured in dozens of movies, often as the kind of gimlet-eyed villain who makes life difficult for everyone from Harrison Ford through Vin Diesel.  He's also appeared on the stage in New York to critical acclaim, playing Claudius opposite Liev Schreiber's Hamlet and Cassius to Denzel Washington's Brutus.  But he's only been back to Stratford once since leaving it in 1994 and that was to play Henry Higgins in the triumphant 2002 production of My Fair Lady.  What made him turn down the lead in a multi-million-dollar musical as well as numerous lucrative film roles to endure this summer's marathon in Perth County?  "I had been doing a lot of film and television ... too much," he admits with a tinge of regret, "and you actually physically lose the ability to do theatre if you don't do it regularly, so I'm going back to the well to drink deep and recharge.  "I want to tune this instrument," he announces as he slaps his chest, "so it can do whatever my directors want it to do. If I don't live up to the expectation I have of myself and people have of me, then I'm going to fold up like a cheap chair."

According to his Coriolanus director, Antoni Cimolino, he's living up to his intentions.  "I've never met an actor who works harder than Colm," says Cimolino, the newly appointed general director of the Stratford Festival.  "We started off with a series of five-hour meetings discussing the character and the play moment by moment. It was clear to me that he had the script thoroughly analyzed before we spoke. He hasn't stopped since. He knew his lines before the first rehearsal. He explores new things each run. I love his commitment, his discipline and his work ethic."  Feore doesn't feel that his intensive homework for a role should be considered something bizarre.  "If you do not prepare in an extraordinary way," he states firmly, "then I believe you have very little chance of being exceptional."  All of this ties in neatly with the characters he's playing this season. When asked if he's found a common thread that unites Coriolanus, Fagin and Don Juan, he pauses a moment before replying with an answer that manages to combine spontaneity with careful thought.  "Ultimately, they're all lonely men," he concludes, "and lonely because of their exacting standards. I guess I've played a lot of people with exacting standards — Gould, Trudeau, and now these guys." He cocks his head warily to one side. "Do you think someone's trying to tell me something?"  When reminded that he once said his motto was, "When in doubt, raise your standards," Feore grins.  "Ah yes, I can be an arrogant bastard at times. No wonder I'm enjoying playing Coriolanus so much."  An aristocratic Roman general and national hero, Coriolanus finds himself being rejected by his people for being too arrogant and demanding. And so he exiles himself and sides with his former enemies, vowing to destroy Rome.  "He tries to explain himself to the people," relates Feore. "He tells them `I may not like you and you may not like me, but I'm fighting for an ideal, the ideal of Rome, and you must help me maintain those standards.'"  Feore shakes his head. "Doesn't that sound like today? Having standards used to mean something, but now we've all bought into the American Idol syndrome. Everyone can be Kelly Clarkson. Everyone can win a million dollars. We're all special. Only it doesn't work out that way."  Playing Fagin in Oliver! might seem like a relief after Coriolanus to some actors, but not to Feore.  "No!" he shrieks, "it's even harder. I'm not just acting, I'm singing and dancing and there's scenery moving everywhere. Thank God we've got a good director in charge."

He smiles with unexpected warmth, since the director in question is his wife, Donna.  "She's been great to me. She released me from the burden of being sympathetic and is allowing me to explore all the dark sides of the man, the guy who doesn't want to be alone. Sure it's still a musical but Donna keeps saying `Trust it, enjoy it, but play it fully!'"  He also intends to enjoy his stint as Don Juan later in the season.  "He's an amazing character. He tells God to f--- himself. He says `You don't exist because if you did, you'd prove it now. Show me the magic.' And so God sends him to Hell, which is fabulous, because all the best people are down there."  Feore admits it will be a challenge when he's juggling all three roles at once but says, "If I couldn't find a way to cross-pollinate these characters, I'd go crazy. If Fagin isn't a little like Coriolanus who isn't a little like Don Juan, then I don't have enough brain power to accomplish what has to be done."  For a moment, the never-ceasing dynamo called Feore seems at peace. "I've got a house full of books and a head full of plays. My aim is to just get through to November. After that, I plan a nice long vacation somewhere."  Then again, there's always that Liberal Party leadership ...

Mr. Short Puts On A Long Face

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Simon Houpt

(May 28, 2006) NEW YORK -- Martin Short has a problem: He has no problems. Ordinarily, this would not be a problem. But every actor nowadays knows talent is not enough to attract attention. No, you need an act to sell an act. You need a scandal. You need to enact a Stages of the Cross, ritually laying yourself bare for the public to gaze upon you in the midst of agony. Any personal tragedy will do: marital strife, substance abuse, unusual sexual proclivities (or, ideally, all three and then some). But what happens when you've got nothing to sell but your art? Oh, it's not as if Short hasn't faced adversity: Anyone remember the $36,000 (U.S.) that Jiminy Glick in Lalawood made at the box office? But that was only a professional misstep, not a personal one, and the readership of Variety's box-office column is dwarfed by readers of Us Weekly. Which is why, when he started to get the itch about a year ago to develop a song-and-dance-and-comedy revue for Broadway, Short hit upon the idea of making dirt out of his lack of dirt. In Fame Becomes Me, which begins a six-week run tonight at the Canon Theatre in Toronto before hitting Broadway, he skewers our culture's need to revel in the misfortunes of our heroes. (For the record, he created the piece long before Mary Jo Eustace spilled her guts earlier this month, for five straight nights, on eTalk Daily.) "There's this idea that we've reached a point where if you don't have blood to spill, you're actually not valid to entertain," he says with a rubbery grin, sitting in an old New York rehearsal hall. His cellphone rings -- or, rather, gurgles like a baby: "Da-Da." It's a clip of his 22-year-old daughter Katherine imitating herself as a child, and it's her unique ring. (His wife's is the ominous opening strains of Beethoven's Fifth.) He apologizes, takes the call, and hears that she has aced a job interview. "I knew you would," he says proudly. "Because you're adorable and charming."

Alas, no dirt there. The spark for the show came out of the parties that Short and his wife hold at their Los Angeles house. If the songwriter Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) is there, he'll start playing piano, and soon everyone is performing for everyone else. After a particularly raucous (though not, of course, scandalous) evening, Billy Crystal's wife Janice suggested to Short that he make a show out of the parties. So, after kicking around some ideas, Short sat down at his home in Los Angeles and his cottage in Muskoka with the Canadian-born playwright Daniel Goldfarb to fine-tune a script. Shaiman wrote the music and co-wrote the lyrics with his partner Scott Wittman, who also directs. In the show, Short plays a needy, attention-seeking version of himself who is returning to the stage because his wife of 25 years is tired of feeding his ego. "If you need a nightly stroking / Do a one-man show," she sings sweetly. Confessional memoirs are all the rage in bookstores (hello, James Frey!) so, he tells the audience, an autobiographical show should bring the house down. Lacking the juicy meat of scandal and depravity, he creates a gritty story for the public's delectation (hello, James Frey!) "We have no idea if Bob Hope had a happy childhood," explains Short. "There was a time where it didn't matter what someone's life had been -- it was a separate issue to what they were doing onstage. Listen, I'm Canadian, and that influences who I am, and that kind of privacy is more a part of the fabric of being Canadian than not. If I have a dark day or a dark period of my life, it's between me and my family and close friends. It's not to be turned into a book.

"I have no problems with people doing that, by the way," he adds quickly. "I think it's fascinating to see people be honest onstage and open up. It's just not something I can do. There are lots of things in show business I wish I could do. I wish I did have the ability to artistically be more commercial. I don't consider my oddness to be a trump card; it's just who I am." Which brings us 'round to Jiminy Glick, who makes an appearance in Fame Becomes Me. The character's 2004 feature film bombed at the box office and, when its failure comes up, Martin takes a moment and looks slightly tense at the turn the conversation has taken. (Is he going to slug someone? That would make a great scandal.) "Oh, I think that's really an art-house comedy," he says. "If you're looking for commercial success, you do Big Momma. You have to play prime time. Jiminy Glick was late-night." He elaborates. "There are miracles that happen. Seinfeld was late night in prime time and it clicked. But mostly you take a late-night sensibility and you have to prime time it to make a commercial success. I've never had that talent to figure out how to do that. "We had studios really offering us big budgets to do a very predictable 'Jiminy Glick is a detective and he's lookin' for the murderer' picture. And that would have had a good shot for an opening weekend. But to me, it was more interesting to have Jiminy Glick in a faux-David Lynch movie. No one's going to invest in that. So you go into it with the knowledge that this is what it is. It's like studying ballet and saying, Well, I want Gene Kelly's career. You can't do both." Well, you can, and Short has, flipping between big commercial movies (written by others) and his own small films and stage work like Fame Becomes Me. "One kind of fuels the other, and kind of gives you more times at bat. It's one thing to be in showbiz. It's another to be in it for 30 years." Short's success story is so unusual, you might even say it's scandalous.

Where There's A Will, McCormack Finds A Way

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(May 30, 2006) Eric McCormack is slated to call at 12:30 p.m. to chat about his future now that his role as the gay Will Truman on NBC's long-running sitcom, Will & Grace, has ended. On the dot of the half-hour, the phone rings. “You're punctual,” the reporter says to the 43-year-old actor. “Well, I'm Canadian, aren't I?” McCormack, who is part Cherokee, grew up in Scarborough, Ont. (and went to the same high school that fellow funny guy Mike Myers briefly attended) and now holds both Canadian and American citizenships. He has homes in Los Angeles and Vancouver. But right now, he's stationed in New York. McCormack has returned to his thespian roots in Neil LaBute's Some Girl(s), where he plays a philandering playboy who visits four ex-girlfriends and tries to make amends in the days leading up to his wedding. McCormack, his wife Janet Holden and soon-to-be-four-year-old son, Finnigan, came to the Big Apple in mid-April, the day after a teary wrap party for Will & Grace, which aired for eight seasons and 196 episodes. McCormack said he got involved in LaBute's dark comedy by fluke. His co-star Debra Messing was asked by the play's producers to play one of the women, but she turned the role down. “Debra walked into my dressing room,” the actor recalls, and said, “if there's ever a part I'd love to see you play, it's this guy. He's a total wolf in sheep's clothing. “So I threw my hat in the ring and had an offer a few days later,” said McCormack, who studied theatre at Ryerson University before heading to the Stratford Festival for five years, where he appeared in such productions as A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry V and The Three Sisters. He later moved to Vancouver, where he worked on many TV shows, including Street Justice and Neon Rider. McCormack met his Alberta-born wife on the Calgary set of Lonesome Dove, where she worked as an assistant director.

“It feels good to be back,” adds McCormack. “I love all the mediums, but there's definitely a response from people both within and outside the industry, about going back to the stage. There's a respectability about it.” The last time he worked in live theatre was five years ago when McCormack made his Broadway debut as Prof. Harold Hill (replacing Craig Bierko) in a revival of The Music Man. The improv nature of Will & Grace, though, kept him in tune with the stage. “We shot Will & Grace in front of a live audience each week so it doesn't feel like I've been away that long. And I've always been a character actor, I think, perhaps potentially in a leading man's body.” Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, McCormack plays the only male in LaBute's new work, which features a harem of ex-girlfriends played by Fran Drescher, Judy Reyes, Brooke Smith and Maura Tierney. It opens June 8 and runs through July 8. McCormack describes his part as a “chewy, meaty, very male” role. “Neil doesn't write nice guys,” chuckles the actor, who is clearly relieved to be shedding the gay Will to play a man full of raging testosterone. The ‘s' in the title is in brackets, he adds, because the play was originally titled Some Girls I Fucked Over, says a laughing McCormack. “The director decided he didn't want that on billboards.” These days, McCormack prefers to talk about what lies ahead and not dwell on the past. Asked about reports that he was initially hesitant to sign up as the gay lawyer Will, McCormack snaps: “I've been asked that question so often it's painful. I just won't go there.” The Emmy-winning sitcom's two-hour finale was May 18 and drew 18.4-million U.S. viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research — the highest marks for the show in more than two years. Will & Grace, he adds, was a “blast” but now he's looking forward to new challenges, such as this play and some TV projects in the works through his two-year-old company Big Cattle Productions. Recently he and his partner Michael Forman sold a series about a dysfunctional dating service called Lovespring International to the U.S. cable channel Lifetime Television, where it will debut next month.

“We love the potential of this show,” says McCormack, who has shot six half-hour episodes and has seven to go.” He also is pitching a feature film that he wrote, called What You Wish For, that he hopes to direct this fall. It's the story of a husband and wife who share with each other the name of a celebrity they'd like to sleep with. But in this case, the dream comes true. “I wrote it three or four years ago. And it's something I feel I've talked about a lot. I keep thinking I'd better shut up, because it's not real until it's real.” As well, McCormack hopes to take on more roles in feature films, but adds: “It's a big transition to take sitcom fame and turn it into a movie career. It takes smart choices, patience and the right people believing in you.” After Some Girl(s) ends its run in New York, McCormack plans to take a break and head out to his second home in Vancouver with his young family. (His son turns four on Canada Day.) “I want to mix it up. I absolutely love comedy, but my roots were in drama. So I just want to be unpredictable for a while. I don't want to ever be slotted.”

All The Cirque Needs Is Love

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Guy Dixon

(May 31, 2006) The Beatles reinterpreted by Cirque du Soleil: You immediately picture fantastically decked-out stunt people, miming and gesturing to God knows what, all to the music of Sgt. Pepper. The photos and video teasers on Cirque du Soleil's website show the new $27-million production Love, opening next month at The Mirage in Las Vegas, taking the music and iconography of the Beatles and thoroughly re-imagining them as pseudo-European fantasy. Some Las Vegas audiences may wind up looking at it like a collection of foreign Beatles album covers -- all very exotic, but not the authentic version of the Beatles they know. Which would be a shame, because the Beatles weren't just an Anglo phenomenon. The music touched everything from anti-establishment thinking to hippie/anarchic street theatre around the world. The power of Cirque's Love, which begins preview performances Friday, could be the hints it gives us of how the rest of the world visualized the Beatles. The idea began with a friendship between Quebec City-born Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté and George Harrison, who met at the Montreal Grand Prix. An artistic team, including Gilles Ste-Croix, credited as the show's "director of creation," later met with Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in London in December, 2001, and got the initial go-ahead, according to Ste-Croix. (Harrison had died in late November that year.) With costumes blending everything from industrial-north sombreness to reflective pop-art breast cups and lots of long-hair hippie style, Love focuses on performers playing such characters as Eleanor Rigby, Father McKenzie, Mr. Kite, Lady Madonna -- even Lucy herself in the sky with diamonds. No performers impersonate the Beatles. The Beatles' Apple Corps designated the band's producer Sir George Martin and his son Giles to compile and edit the soundtrack. Thirty or so Beatles hits were collected, but not taken straight off the albums. Instead, they were re-edited with snatches of up to 130 Beatles songs added in to create what production notes describe as a Beatles soundscape.

With 60 artists on stage during the show, Love replaces Siegfried & Roy as The Mirage's big attraction after that duo's show ended in October, 2003, when Roy Horn was mauled by a tiger. The Mirage paid $100-million to renovate its theatre for Love. There will now be five Cirque du Soleil productions running simultaneously in Las Vegas. The Strip has fast become a playground for Montreal theatre artists. "We are condemned to not do any small productions any more," Ste-Croix joked. But with the recent news that the company has also signed a deal to create a show in the coming years based on the music and life of Elvis Presley, is the Cirque desperately looking for new ideas to replace pure fantasy? "Cirque du Soleil is not only a circus any more. With Love, we present ourselves as a company which can produce many different types of show. People will see in the coming years that we are not just about circus. We are about dance. We are about music. We are about entertainment," Ste-Croix said.


Ties And Whispers

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(May 29, 2006) The ties between McClelland & Stewart and Random House of Canada have been the subject of prime gossip lately in publishing circles. Many are wondering: Just how independent is the venerable M&S, the house of Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro? Then again, would a little input by Random House necessarily be such a bad thing?  M&S, an abbreviation almost synonymous with CanLit, set off grumblings in publishing circles when it laid off three of its senior publicists and marketing managers earlier this year, just as the company was embarking on its year of centenary celebrations. The publisher noted at the time that it was continuing to form close marketing ties with Random House of Canada, which has owned 25 per cent of M&S since 2000. (The other 75 per cent is owned by the University of Toronto.) M&S president Doug Pepper explained that the links between the two companies are limited and don't cross into editorial decisions. M&S's editorial independence from Random House remains sacrosanct, he said. Nevertheless, this hasn't stopped mutterings in the tightly knit publishing world about whether M&S remains the Canadian publisher or whether it is becoming too closely linked to a multinational. Even the sight of author Farley Mowat unveiling a new Canada Post stamp last month commemorating M&S's 100th anniversary may only remind some of the company's past as the dominant publisher of Canada's literary canon, and the many stories about M&S's former owner Jack McClelland, as opposed to the M&S of today. You've still got a core of true believers in there. But I think that, generally, management [of the company] is sliding away from them,” said writer and Blackfish Press co-founder Brian Brett, who is also chairman of the Writers' Union of Canada. “It's an incremental thing. You see it happening bit by bit, getting whittled down. They have actually held out, in many ways, longer than the other publishers. But they are following the general mass of major publishers, [which] are all becoming branch-plant operations that hire independent editors who try to create a brand.”

However, Pepper explained that M&S pays a fee to Random House for sales and marketing services. And although two Random House representatives sit on M&S's seven-person board, the board doesn't make editorial decisions other than, say, approving an unusually high book deal, according to Pepper. Apart from this, the ties extend only to sales and marketing and certain back-office support functions, Pepper said. “We decide on the books we want to publish, how much we want to pay for those books, how much we price those books at, how many to print, how many to reprint, how long to keep it in print. All of those decisions are made at McClelland & Stewart,” Pepper said. Pepper, a Toronto native, previously worked for Random House's Crown Publishing division in New York before returning to Canada to replace previous M&S publisher Douglas Gibson in 2004. “We share a marketing department, share a sales department and share publicity departments, although we have people on site here that only work on the M&S books. Do we bring in [Random House] people a little earlier now? Yes, but it doesn't have to do with the decisions we make on books. It just is a smart thing to do to increase the lead time on any specific book,” in order to arrange book tours, ads and other sales strategies, Pepper explained. The fee M&S pays Random House is based on a percentage of net sales. “It's a very different relationship that we have with them than, say, Random House central has with Knopf or Doubleday” or other Random House imprints, Pepper noted.  M&S's independence and Canadianness isn't just a matter of cultural identity. Its majority Canadian ownership means it still qualifies for public cultural funding, whereas Random House's foreign-owned imprints don't.  Random House owns the maximum percentage allowed by a foreign company in a Canadian publisher under Canadian law, and “as far as I know, they [Random House] aren't looking to own any more, even if they could,” Pepper said. He added that M&S often directly competes with Random House imprints when bidding on books. Many feel that support from a large international publisher is simply the direction of the industry and that historically cash-strapped M&S, like other Canadian independents, can use the kind of back-room efficiencies that giant Random House can provide.

The logistics can be a little unorthodox, though. As author and Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor noted, his M&S-published Screech Owl children's series is “printed up in Canada for the Canadian market, shipped to the U.S. for storage and shipped back to Canada again when sold.”  Even though the series hasn't made a dent in the U.S. market, he jokes that he nevertheless has to order copies from a U.S. warehouse. On the editing side, though, MacGregor said he feels “very strongly as if M&S is M&S and not just a front for Random House.” Some feel the integration between Random House and M&S could have come sooner: “I think that it took them really a long time to take advantage of the efficiencies that were available to them, in terms of using the back end,” said Ben McNally, manager of Toronto bookseller Nicholas Hoare. “And they only just now have their publicity people starting to answer to Tracey Turriff [Random House of Canada's director of marketing and corporate communications], which from our point of view is a real step forward. “Random House is so good at what they do. Certainly in terms of delivery and in terms of promotion, there's nobody in the country that can lay a hand on them,” McNally said. “I think, if anything, Random House would hope to reignite the identity that was McClelland & Stewart. Their publishing program has got a little bit muddy over the last few years.” The question, of course, is how this could change the culture at M&S. Writer and broadcaster Noah Richler, whose first book, A Literary Atlas of Canada, is due out from M&S this summer, said he signed up with Gibson, M&S's former publisher, a few years ago “because of the publishers I presented my book to, he was the one who made a point of reading my newspaper work.  “M&S, at that time, felt like less of a juggernaut than some of the other bigger houses, where it felt like the machine in its enthusiasm had the capacity to run ahead of the idea I was proposing. As a first-timer, that was daunting. “So it's ironic that M&S is now a part of a bigger machine, but this did not affect the editorial work on my book in any way. And it's also true that from an author's point of view, it means a bigger and more accomplished PR department siding with you, and that's good news, because previously M&S had the reputation of dumping books into the market and forgetting about them,” Richler said. M&S's particular strength, many say, is its editors. Brett, the Writers' Union chair, counts himself among the many fans of veteran fiction editor Ellen Seligman. “To my mind, she's one of the last linchpins in the organization that's really holding the Canadian motif together. And I think that if she ever decides to leave there, they're just going to be another invisible publisher,” Brett said. No doubt M&S will continue to draw speculation. It has been the hub for an entire generation of Canadian writers, editors and publishers, and that's the legacy to which people are inevitably going to compare the current, slightly leaner M&S.

Drawing On His Toronto Roots

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Tabassum Siddiqui, Staff Reporter

(May 27, 2006) Scott Pilgrim, 23, lives in Toronto with his cool gay friend and plays bass (badly) in the band Sex Bomb-omb. He's scrawny, unemployed and a bit of a mess, but the girls seem to like that kind of thing. After all, his ex-girlfriends won't stop following him around, and then there's the cool chick from New York he's currently dating — who, um, happens to have seven evil ex-boyfriends who keep showing up to fight him.  Yet another hipster kid from the local indie scene? As it happens, Scott is rather two-dimensional — and that's not just his exes talking. He's the bumbling yet endearing protagonist of the popular Scott Pilgrim series, the brainchild of local comic artist Bryan Lee O'Malley. Drawn in black-and-white, big-eyed Japanese manga style, the series has taken off to the point that the third volume, Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness, was one of the most anticipated graphic novels of the year when it hit the shelves this week.  Published by noted comics imprint Oni Press, in only two years and three books (four if you count the Scott Pilgrim mini-comic O'Malley did for the recent Free Comic Book Day), Scott's adventures have caught on with comics fans thanks to word of mouth and rave reviews by critics and fellow illustrators.  "For the first volume, we only printed a run of 600. For the third, it's 10,000. So it's gotten a lot bigger, just in the last six months — it's been kind of wild," O'Malley says from his home near Halifax, where he moved last year with his wife, fellow graphic novelist Hope Larson.  O'Malley, a self-described "27-year-old whiny Canadian cartoonist lazy musician," grew up reading and drawing comics, but admits that his "gateway drug" to the Japanese manga style was via that most addictive of mid-'90s afternoon TV staples, Sailor Moon.  "I used to try to draw exactly like that stuff, but I think I've sort of absorbed it and moved past it. I feel I've been growing into whatever my style is. It's really obvious if you look from the first volume to the third," O'Malley says.

His illustration style may be foreign, but much of the series' inspiration is closer to home. Familiar Toronto landmarks (Casa Loma and the Toronto Reference Library have made appearances) play a major role in O'Malley's books as Scott and his pals flit about the city. While local readers might delight in seeing Lee's Palace (also in Vol. 2) and Honest Ed's (in Vol. 3) pop up, readers elsewhere find our edifices a bit, well, cartoonish.  "Everyone's like, `Is Honest Ed's real? What is this circus place?' In the comic, I make it explode, so when I was back in Toronto recently, I was like, `It's still here!' I'd been living in my own little world," O'Malley laughs.  In Vol. 3, Scott's new girlfriend Ramona's third evil ex-boyfriend, Todd Ingram, is currently dating Scott's former love Envy Adams, the front woman of art-rock band The Clash at Demonhead. Scott's band is scheduled to open for them two days later, giving him just enough time to fight Todd superhero-style, fend off his demented ex-girlfriends and practise a new set list. Got all that?  It's perhaps not surprising that music is the heartbeat of Scott Pilgrim — its very name comes from a song by the late, great Halifax all-girl indie band Plumtree, and the title of Vol. 3 riffs off the Smashing Pumpkins' seminal album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness — as O'Malley himself played in several short-lived indie-rock bands during his time in Toronto and continues to make music when he's not busy with the comic.  "I used to hang out at Lee's Palace all the time. The Dance Cave is way too hard to draw, so I drew the downstairs. It's a great place to draw — I love the chequered floor, and those coloured balls over the bar. It's just part of my life that I kind of stuck in there," O'Malley says of the series' indie-rock influence.  If anything, Scott Pilgrim's success is due to the fact that O'Malley manages to effortlessly meld all of Gen Y's pop-culture tropes — from his characters' razor-sharp sitcom-style banter to the surrealistic videogame-style fight sequences between Scott and Ramona's superpower-endowed exes — into the increasingly popular graphic novel medium.  O'Malley plans three more books in the series — he won't say why so as not to give away plot points, but does admit to knowing how it all turns out for Scott in the end.  "I didn't originally have the whole thing planned out, but when the movie people came calling, I had to sketch out the rest of the ideas, which I think was a good thing,"

O'Malley says.  Ah, yes, the movie deal. Universal Pictures optioned the series last year, enlisting director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and screenwriter Michael Bacall to adapt the comic for the big screen.  "I met with them in Toronto last October, showed them the neighbourhoods, and it was great. I've been very involved, which is very nice and doesn't happen a lot, I think," O'Malley says of the film, which has yet to begin production.  All the hype aside, "graphic novel" is still just a fancy name for a comic book, and O'Malley is as surprised as anyone that he's now able to make a living from his art.  "Since last fall I've started making enough money off royalties to not be a starving artist. When you start off in this business, that's your goal, but I had sort of forgotten about it until recently. Suddenly I got this big cheque, and I was like, `Wow.'"

Local comics emporium The Beguiling hosts a free launch party tonight (8 p.m.) at Rocco's Plum Tomato (585 Bloor St. W.) for O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness and fellow local cartoonist Ryan North's new collection Dinosaur Comics, featuring music, readings and live comic-strip creation.


Nash Wins Another MVP, From Canadian Networks

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - William Houston

(May 28, 2006) Steve Nash's popularity in this country has made him one of the few bankable sports figures on Canadian television. Not many athletes, on their own, are able to deliver an audience. Tiger Woods can do it in golf. So can Mike Weir if he is in contention. In hockey, the numbers are pushed by a team rather than a player. But Nash, the Phoenix Suns' point guard and a Victoria native, has reached a level to where "he can move the needle by himself," TSN president Phil King said. "The numbers really shoot up when he's in a game," he said. "I can tell you this. We'd love to see him in the NBA Finals." After the Suns advanced to the National Basketball Association's Western Conference final against the Dallas Mavericks, TSN increased its coverage. If the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference final wraps up in five games, TSN will carry the fourth and fifth games of the Dallas-Phoenix series, in addition to the second game and the sixth and seventh games. The Score will air the third game on Sunday and will take the fourth and fifth games if the TSN is doing hockey. NBA audiences are small on Canadian television, compared with those for hockey, but the Nash factor looms large.

For a 2006 NBA playoff telecast not involving Phoenix, Sportsnet and the Score drew about 50,000 viewers a game. When the Suns were playing, the number jumped almost threefold to 147,000. TSN has aired only two games involving Phoenix, but they averaged 203,000 viewers, 83 per cent above TSN's usual NBA playoff audience. Nash and the Suns produced an NBA record for the Score: 258,000 viewers for the seventh game of the Los Angeles Clippers-Phoenix series, easily surpassing 182,000 for the seventh game of the 2005 Detroit Pistons-Miami Heat Eastern Conference final. Nash's popularity is tied to performance and also helped by a Gretzky-like image. He won his second consecutive most valuable player award earlier this month and last year was voted Canada's outstanding athlete. "He's a unique phenomenon in this country," King said. "He's really the only player in the NBA that, when he plays, there's a noticeable increase in the ratings. "Kobe Bryant doesn't do it. Shaquille O'Neal doesn't do it. Michael Jordan used to. I guess you could say we've found our new Jordan. It's great for the sport and it's obviously good for the networks."

Maclean Says Cherry Misses Coaching

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - William Houston,

(May 30, 2006)  Ron MacLean thinks Coach's Corner should be renamed The Honeymooners, the 1950s' television show in which an edgy Ralph Kramden regularly told his wife: “Bang, zoom. You're going to the moon, Alice.” In this case, Don Cherry would play Ralph and MacLean would be the long-suffering partner. Last Saturday, Cherry and MacLean had their noisiest spat of the Hockey Night in Canada season, and, as usual, MacLean got the worst of it. After one of his hockey theories was challenged by MacLean, Cherry angrily dismissed him as a know-nothing weatherman from Red Deer, Alta., one of MacLean's early broadcasting jobs. And then Cherry refused to finish the show. Sitting back and with his arms folded, he said he was done. There was more than a minute remaining in the intermission show. “I would say he relished the chance to snap,” MacLean said yesterday. “I think he's in his glory when he's in a snit. But I would also say that he's always in control.” In control, perhaps, but after a week on the road covering the National Hockey League Western Conference final, Cherry seemed to be wound a little tightly. “You should write that when they get old, they get cranky,” MacLean said with a laugh. (Cherry, 72, couldn't be reached for comment.) “I think it was fun for him, to be really truthful,” MacLean said. “I don't think he's cranky, miserable or sick of [Stanley Cup coverage].” But MacLean believes Cherry, a minor-league fighter and then a successful coach, is occasionally overcome by an identity crisis.

“Once a year, guaranteed, Don goes through a coaching withdrawal,” MacLean said. “He's with us in the media instead of on the team bus, and he's saying: ‘What am I doing here? What am I doing talking to this weatherman from Red Deer about hockey, when I'm coach of the year?' “My feeling is he relishes a fight. That's his meat. He misses it. I remember him saying once: ‘I don't miss the guys, the camaraderie. I was never into the camaraderie. The only thing I miss is that I can't fight any more.' “Funny isn't it? That was his thing. That was his rush.” TSN's telecasts TSN will air tonight's sixth game of the Eastern Conference final between the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes and also the seventh game, if it's needed, on Thursday night. The cable channel will shoot both games in high-definition television and employ Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman tonight as a second-intermission analyst. The CBC and TSN each produce excellent hockey telecasts, but they're different. The CBC's opening sequences are visual and atmospheric. There isn't a whole lot of talking or analysis involved. Instead, we're taken into the arena for the noise, the hoopla and the national anthems. TSN gets into the storytelling quickly with features, reports and analysis from Bob McKenzie and Glenn Healy. “We're constantly talking storylines,” Mark Milliere, TSN's executive producer of hockey, said. “We want to get the stories into our pregame and tell viewers what to watch for. “But we're also trying to capture atmosphere, whether it's outside the arena or in. We want both, the stories and the atmosphere.” Both the CBC and TSN took their studio shows on the road for the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Tonight, the TSN studio crew, and the That's Hockey pregame show, will set up in Buffalo's HSBC Arena. As usual, James Duthie will be the host. Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire will call the game. After a rough start, Bob Cole of Hockey Night called his best game of the Western Conference final (Edmonton Oilers-Anaheim Mighty Ducks) last Saturday. He has the best voice in the business, and when he's on, his work is first-rate.

The CBC will shoot all games of the Stanley Cup final in HDTV. The CBC's telecasts of the Oilers-Ducks series outdrew the 2004 Western final between the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks by 6 per cent. The Oilers averaged 1.977 million viewers and the Flames 1.873 million. The Score's Vancouver reporter, Sara Orlesky, is the front-runner to replace James Cybulski in Toronto. “It's a possibility, but unconfirmed,” said Anthony Cicione, the vice-president of programming and production. Cybulski is leaving the Score for TSN. Reporter-anchor Damian Goddard appears to be finished on Leafs TV. Goddard did some good work at the regional channel, but his Sunday morning panel show has been cancelled.


Williams an Argonaut

Excerpt from

(May 30, 2006) *Suspended Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is now a member of the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts. The 29-year-old signed a one-year contract for a reported $250,000 to play during the 2006 season. "It is really uplifting to be in this kind of environment," Williams told a news conference. "I'm happy to be here in Toronto, having a chance to further my career on the football field." Williams was suspended by the National Football League for the 2006 season after a fourth positive drug test.

Tennis Star Disappointed At Low Ranking, But Vows A Comeback

Excerpt from

(May 31, 2006) *As she faced a room of reporters after her first round French Open win Monday, Venus Williams had no clue where she stood among the rest of the women in the WTA. "What am I ranked?" Williams asked, fresh from beating Austria’s Sybille Bammer 6-4, 6-3 at Roland Garros. Told of her 13th ranking, she asked: "What am I seeded?" When someone replied 11th, she answered: "Oh, man. Exactly. ... Well, I'll work on that. It's bound to go up." Injuries have caused both Venus and her sister Serena to slip in the rankings – the latter having fallen all the way to 180. The number is likely to go even lower now that Serena, out of the French Open due to her chronic left knee injury, has announced she would also skip Wimbledon in June.  "What I will say is, never count a Williams sister out," Venus said when asked about the status of her sister. "I do know when she's coming back. I'm not telling." Venus, who faces Finland’s Emma Laine in today’s second round play, says we will again see her ranked in the top 10 before stepping away from the tennis court for good. "I don't like to see myself floating randomly outside the top 10," said Venus. "It's not where I belong. So obviously I am extremely motivated to always get my ranking back."  Despite the desire to recapture the power she and her sister once wielded over the WTA, the 25-year-old says she’s content with her life’s journey so far. "In my head, I'm always feeling at the top, for sure," Williams said, adding that it's not fun "seeing your ranking going down, down, down."  "My thoughts are, 'Life is good, I'm happy," she adds. "I've been so blessed with a great career. I relatively have nothing to look back on with regret. I feel like I've learned from my losses, will hopefully learn from my wins. The whole thing is staying healthy. That's the name of the game for me."

Tiger to play in U.S. Open

Excerpt from

(May 31, 2006) *In his first public appearance since the May 3rd death of his father, Tiger Woods announced that he is preparing to play in next month’s U.S. Open. He hasn't played since he tied for third in the Masters at Augusta National on April 9. But he played a round at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York on Saturday, an indication he will be back there June 15-18 for the Grand Slam event. Woods put on a demonstration for gathered children, and took questions from audience members, not reporters. When asked what advice he had for his young fans, Woods made mention of his father, Earl. "I think the greatest advice is to care and share," he said. "My dad was so adamant about that line. He said if you care about something, you'll share it. And if you love life, you'll share life. I love kids and I'll share with them whatever I have."



Burning Fat, Building Muscle!

By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

(May 31, 2006) Honestly -- you really can melt away inches. It’s not marketing hype and it’s not based on some strange supplement or magic formula. It’s grounded in physiology and is based on fact. I’ve always had this fantasy of doing an infomercial and actually telling people the truth about how to lose fat. You know what I mean -- not the usual quick fix or fantasy machine that has you achieving six pack abs and a tight butt in 10 seconds a day. My fantasy may have to wait awhile, but at least I can share some of my insights with you here.  This week, an eDiets employee told me how happy she was because her clothes were fitting much looser and that she had lost inches all over her body (yes, including her thighs, butt and "love handles"), however, the scale had not gone down! She went on to tell me that when I originally told her how to lose inches, although she respected my opinion, she just couldn’t seem to buy into it. Guess what? She’s a believer now. She knows scale weight will drop in time, but that losing inches and a few dress sizes while maintaining the same weight has an almost magical quality to it.

I want to first explain some things about muscle versus fat and then provide the antidote. I promise to keep this short and simple to understand.  If you’ve ever compared one pound of fat to one pound of muscle, you would have found that the fat was much larger in size and volume compared to the one pound of muscle. The one pound of muscle may have appeared to be the size of a small compact tennis ball whereas the one pound of fat may have been three to four times the size and actually resembled Jell-O. That alone tells us that muscle is leaner and tighter than fat.  For every pound of muscle you gain, the body burns 30-50 additional calories per day. If you gain five pounds of muscle, that’s 91,000 additional calories per year that you’re burning. Increasing muscle helps to burn fat, stokes the metabolism, increases bone density and makes one look more pleasing to the eye. When fat is decreased on the body and slight muscle gains take place, it creates a more fit and symmetrical look.  I can hear the screams now, "Yes, but I don’t want to get bulky -- I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder." Who says you have to? Testosterone is the main hormone for making major increases in muscle. A woman has approximately one-third the testosterone compared to a man. So, you have nothing to worry about.

If you gain muscle and you increase your body fat, well then yes, you will look bulky. However, that’s because you’re simply eating too much. You’ll have to blame the excess calories on that one, not the muscle increase.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, how out of shape you are or how much total weight (body fat) you need to lose. Everyone should be doing some form of resistance exercise. Are you over 65 and injury-free? Do you need to lose 50 pounds or more? Yep, you still need and will benefit from resistance exercise.  The initial result will be a melting away of inches. The slight increase in muscle will stimulate the metabolism and help to burn more calories and fat. This might result in a loss of body fat, but a gain in muscle -- which would show as no weight lost on the scale. However, you would have actually lost fat. Talk about the scale being deceiving!  Now you know why the eDiets employee I mentioned has much to be happy about.

The total solution is weight training to build muscle and burn calories, cardiovascular exercise to burn additional calories and an intelligently designed nutrition program to make sure you’re taking in just enough calories to burn fat, but sustain energy levels.  I’m providing three weight training exercises I want you to do for the next 30 days. If you’ve never lifted weights, I ask that you commit to this routine for six weeks. It won’t take long at all, but it will go a long way in helping you begin the process of melting away inches.  I’m asking that you only perform three exercises on three alternate days of the week. Two to three sets of 10-15 repetitions with perfect form. You’ll be doing one lower body movement, a shoulder exercise and one biceps exercise. An experienced trainer might question why I’m providing an exercise for the small biceps muscle. Due to the fact that it’s an easy muscle to see and feel results quickly, you’ll gain the psychological advantage of quick results.  Let’s go!

Dumbbell Close Stance Squat

Starting Position:

  Stand tall with your feet closer than shoulder-width
· apart with a slight bend in the knees.

  Hold a dumbbell or can in each
· hand and rest one on each shoulder.


· your body by bending from your hips and knees, stopping when your thighs are parallel to the floor.

  Contracting the quadriceps muscles, slowly
· return to the starting position stopping just short of your knees being fully extended.

Key Points:

  Exhale while returning to the
· starting position.

  Inhale as you lower down.

  Do not let
· your knees ride over your toes (you should be able to see your feet at all times).

  It helps to find a marker on the wall to keep your eye on as
· you lift and lower, otherwise your head may tend to fall forward and your body will follow.

  Think about sitting back in a chair and stick your butt
· out as you are lowering down.

  Push off with your heels as you return
· to the starting position.

  You may want to try this exercise
· without weights until you master the movement. It is a very effective exercise that involves most of the muscle groups of the lower body, but if done improperly can lead to injuries.

Dumbbell Two Arm Lateral Raise

Starting Position:

  Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with a slight bend
· in your knees.

  Hold a dumbbell or cans in each hand with your arms
· down at your sides and palms facing your legs.


  Contracting the middle shoulder muscles, raise both arms out to
· the sides, stopping when your arms are slightly higher than shoulder level.

  Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of the
· weights touching your body.

Key Points:

  Exhale while
· lifting the weights.

  Inhale while returning to the starting position.

  You may also perform this exercise from a seated position.

The Biceps Curl

Starting Position:

  Sit on a bench or chair with both feet in front of your
· body and your back straight.

  Hold a dumbbell or cans in each hand
· with your arms at each side and palms facing forward.


  Contracting the biceps muscles, raise the weights toward your
· shoulders, stopping just short of the weights touching the shoulders.

· Slowly return to the starting position.

Key Points:

· Exhale while lifting the weights.

  Inhale while returning to the
· starting position.

  Your upper arms should remain stationary
· throughout the exercise.

This routine is effective and produces results when you’re consistent on your eDiets nutrition plan and overall exercise program. It’s all about balancing all the components to achieve that great look.  As always, please check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.


Motivational Note: If you do nothing --- nothing happens

Excerpt from - by Jewel Diamond Taylor,

If you do nothing --- nothing happens. Once you are disciplined to focus on your direction and priorities, you can make your goals a reality. Your success does not always depend on how smart or talented you are. It's about your ability to communicate and work with others, your tenacity, passion, consistency, creativity, associations, determination, professionalism and faith. Write the following statement down to motivate yourself when you feel; like giving up, procrastinating, impatient, blaming and making excuses.