Updated: May 11, 2006
See what happens when I miss
a whole week of news - this week is jam-packed with two new hot events, Kayte Burgess in concert and the Comedy Clash, as well as much more
entertainment news for your perusal.
Comedy Clash –Trinidad Versus Jamaica - May 14
Source: Comedy Clash
(Apr. 25, 2006) Toronto - More intense than ‘reggae vs. calypso’ or ‘jerk vs. curry chicken’, Toronto’s two largest Caribbean communities will expose their cultural differences on stage in a stand-up comedy clash: Trinidad vs. Jamaica. Hosted by Russell Peters, this hilarious yet friendly rivalry between these two countries is performing for one show at the Toronto Centre for the Arts on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 7:00 pm. Music will be supplied by Starting from Scratch and D' Bandit.
Trinidad vs. Jamaica: Mother’s Day Edition will make the audience laugh as well as learn about the differences in these contrasting cultures through stand-up comedy. “Both styles are equally funny,” says Jay Martin/comedian/producer/founder. “Jamaican stand-up is more of a theatrical performance. It’s a more physical comedy while Trinidadian comics are more spontaneous and edgy with their humour.”
The performers include:
The show will be hosted by Canadian-Jamaican Jay Martin, who was recently named Toronto’s Best New Nubian Comedian, who has a very personal connection to putting on this Mother’s Day show. “I chose Mother’s Day for this show because it’s probably one of the saddest days of the year for mothers who have lost children.” Says Martin.
Martin, who lost his mother 20 years ago, has dedicated this show to mothers across the Greater Toronto Area. In special honour of the memory his mother, Trinidad vs. Jamaica is donating tickets to UMOVE (United Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere) for mothers who have lost children due to violence.
Founded in 2005, Trinidad vs. Jamaica looks to be bigger, bolder and funnier than last year’s sold-out show.
SUNDAY, MAY 14
TRINIDAD VS. JAMAICA: MOTHER’S DAY EDITION
Toronto Centre for the Arts
5040 Yonge Street (just north of the Yonge and Sheppard intersection)
Tickets are $50.00, $40.00 and $30.00
For tickets, please call Ticketmaster at 416-872-1111 or visit www.ticketmaster.ca, all Nappy’s locations and Play De Record (357A Yonge St.)
For more information, please visit: www.comedyclash.com; 416-949-2766
Kayte Burgess At Revival – May 18
Join Kayte Burgess and some special friends, Saidah Baba Talibah, Darp Malone and Ms Davis for Urban Soul Live on Thursday, May 18th at Revival! It will showcase some of Kayte’s much-anticipated new material and I know you won’t want to miss it! DJ Sean Sax will be spinning for the night as well.
THURSDAY, MAY 18
"URBAN SOUL LIVE" FEATURING KAYTE BURGESS AND FRIENDS
DJ Sean Sax will be spinning
783 College St. (at Shaw)
Doors open at 9:00pm
Show is at 10:45 pm
$5 before 10:30’ $8 after
Wes “Maestro” Williams To Be Inducted Into The Scarborough Walk
Source: Soul Choice Entertainment Group
(May 5, 2006) Toronto – Multi-faceted performer, Wes “Maestro” Williams has been named as one of the first inductees into the Scarborough Walk of Fame. The event, set for Wednesday May 17th at the Scarborough Town Centre, will celebrate members of the community, past and present, who have made outstanding contributions to Scarborough. For over 15 years, Maestro has been pivotal in the development of Black music in Canada. His debut album, Symphony In Effect, went platinum, unheard of 15 years ago, when rap music was beginning to find its roots in Canada. Maestro’s song, “Let Your Backbone Slide” is still the highest selling rap single in Canadian music history. His contributions to the breaking and making of rap music in Canada led to the addition of a Rap Category to the Juno Awards.
Winner of several Junos, MMVAs, and countless other awards over the years, Maestro is a true pioneer, who has worked tirelessly at developing his craft. He has now expanded his talents into the world of film and television, garnering roles in films such as Redemption (co-starring Oscar Award Winner, Jamie Foxx), Honey (co-starring Jessica Alba), and Four Brothers (with Mark Wahlberg). Maestro also has recurring roles on Metropia, and Instant Star. A believer in giving back to the community, Maestro has used his celebrity to give inspiration to others. He has toured several public and high schools throughout the GTA area and beyond, encouraging youngsters to remain positive and to “Stick to Your Vision”, a sentiment named after one of his most inspirational songs. The Scarborough Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at the Scarborough Town Centre, on Wednesday May 17th, 2006. For coverage of the event, please contact Evelyn Stefanidis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-979-1120.
Nash Calls Award 'Unbelievable'
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Doug Smith, Sports Reporter
(May 8, 2006_ AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—The remarkable thing about Steve Nash is that there's very little obviously remarkable about him; he doesn't look like anything special, doesn't act like anything special. He could be an average Joe working in any average industry. But today he is being linked with some of the greatest basketball players ever, up there with Michael and Magic and Larry and Wilt, the one-name-only icons who will go down in history as revolutionaries in the game. And he's there because of guys like Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and an assortment of other journeymen who flourish simply by association with the 32-year-old Phoenix Suns guard. Thanks to his ability to make others better — Barbosa, Diaw and Bell all enjoyed career years with Nash getting them open shots and easy baskets — Nash was officially named the NBA's most valuable player for the second year in a row yesterday, the ninth time in league history anyone has earned the title in successive seasons. "I have to admit, it's a little bit uncomfortable to be singled out amongst all these great players two years in a row," Nash said in Phoenix. "I have to pinch myself. I couldn't believe it last year and to do it again is even more difficult to understand." Despite losing all-star centre Amare Stoudemire to injury for all but three games of the regular season and with Quentin Richardson and Joe Johnson traded away, necessitating the integration of Bell and Diaw into the line-up, Nash led the Suns to another Pacific Division title and a 54-win regular season. The 6-foot-3 Nash achieved career bests in scoring, 18.8 points per game; rebounding, 4.2 per game; field-goal percentage, 51.2 and free-throw percentage, a league-leading 92.1. He also led the NBA in assists at 10.5 per game and became the fourth player to shoot at least 50 per cent from the field, 40 per cent from three-point range and 90 per cent from the free-throw line, joining Larry Bird, Reggie Miller and Mark Price. In his typical self-effacing manner, the South African-born, Victoria-raised Nash tossed out compliments to others like he distributed passes in the season. "A lot is made about me making my teammates better and I really believe that my teammates make me a lot better, too," he said a press conference to announce his award, news of which first broke almost two weeks ago in the Arizona Republic. "I'm fortunate enough to play with great players. ... I owe a lot to them, a lot to the organization and a lot to the city."
The voting was not nearly as close as many had expected. In balloting among 125 writers and broadcasters, Nash got 57 first-place votes and 924 points, far ahead of second-place LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who was first on 16 ballots and had 688 points. Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks finished third, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers fourth and Detroit's Chauncey Billups fifth. Being runner-up really didn't enthuse James. "If you ain't first, I don't believe in second," James said before playing the Detroit Pistons yesterday. "I don't like second." Nash is only the ninth player to win consecutive MVP awards, joining a hall-of-fame list of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan and Moses Malone. "Part of me just tries to find the comedy in it," Nash joked. ``It's thrilling, it's comedic and it's unbelievable. I'm extremely honoured to be recognized. I've come a long way and I've enjoyed it." Not for long, though. Nash and the Suns, who completed an impressive comeback from 3-1 down to easily win Game 7 of their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, open the Western Conference semifinals tonight at home against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The David North Agency, Inc., (DNA): The New Face Of Publicity
Starting With Canada
Source: David North Agency, Inc.
(April 24, 2006) Two of North America's most prevailing business professionals have joined forces to create a publicity firm that will take the world by storm. On April 10, 2006, one of the most promising and exciting mergers was officially sealed¨ the David North Agency, Inc. (DNA). When it comes to Canadian talent, there are infinite possibilities. DNA has recognized this and wants to trail blaze a path for Canadian companies by bringing them to the forefront where they truly deserve to be. Canada is sitting on a goldmine, and it's time to put Canada on the map. The David North Agency specializes in: Commercial Brand Development and Exposure, Image Consulting, Media Training, Media Management, Crisis Management, Event Management, Product Placement, Strategic Public Positioning, and New Media/Internet Marketing. Andrea J. David, former owner of Toronto and International Planning Services Inc, is one of the most proficient Event Planners in Toronto. Beginning her career in Los Angeles, Andrea has worked with some of the most celebrated individuals, managing everything from private parties to major charitable events, David holds an excellent rapport with some of the top professionals from a wide range of industries.
J. North, better known as the "man behind the scenes", is a leading executive for popular music artists, professional athletes and Fortune 500 companies globally. North has specialized in Marketing, Public Relations and Image Consulting for over ten years. Together, they plan be the business driving force Canada has yet to see. David, President of DNA, described Canada as "¡an area that is considered within many 'North American' marketing-plans when introducing new products and services. It's also a comfortable haven for highly-recognized individuals. But [Canada] is often overlooked when the plan is implemented for aspiring entertainment ventures because of the lack of a strong marketing team. Thankfully, many companies in various industries locally and abroad are beginning to see the value in the Canadian market. Canadian dollars should be just as good as US dollars. Increased exposure means an increased market-share that will increase the value of that commodity worldwide." This duo is young yet highly professional, and together have over a decade of consistent unprecedented success. The David North Agency's primary directive is to re-discover the distinct and individual personality of Canada and introduce it's unlimited potential to the world. For more information: www.davidnorthagency.com
Q&A: Scott Storch
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Gail Mitchell
(April 25, 2006) Leaving school in ninth grade, Scott Storch implemented his own course of independent study. "I was cutting school and doing sessions as a keyboard player at Ruffhouse Records for [co-founders] Joe Nicolo and Chris Schwartz," the Philadelphia native recalls. "Those guys gave me the first open door to the real music industry." Subsequent real-world lessons with the Roots (as keyboardist on the group's pivotal 1993 album "Organix"), Dr. Dre (the keyboard riff on the artist's 1999 comeback single "Still D.R.E.") and Xzibit (co-producer of 2000 single "X") laid the foundation for what was to come. Today, Storch is an in-demand songwriter/producer whose credits include such crossover hits as Terror Squad's "Lean Back," Mario's "Let Me Love You," 50 Cent's "Candy Shop" and Chris Brown's "Run It!"—each of which reached No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. Having finished work on Paris Hilton's forthcoming debut, "Paris Is Burning," Storch is busy sifting through other projects for his Tuff Jew production company. Recent and upcoming studio dates include the Game, Jessica Simpson, Beyoncé and West Coast rapper Bishop Lamont. He's also in distribution talks for his own label, Storchaveli.
Q: One question immediately comes to mind: Why produce Paris Hilton?
A: I was hesitant at first. But we did a trial run in the studio, and the first song we did was a smash. It's not always about working with the hottest artist. I sometimes go for challenges although people look at me strangely like, "Why are you doing that?!" However, with a risk sometimes comes a huge reward. It's about having the vision to be able to turn a challenge into something, and then you win the Heisman.
Q: How would you describe Hilton the music artist?
A: She has a certain tone that's reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper and Blondie. The album doesn't have one particular sound. It's just good music; a combination of R&B, hip-hop and pop. It will surprise a lot of people because there's real artistry coming from Paris.
Q: By working on pop projects, do you risk losing credibility in the R&B/hip-hop arena where you made your mark?
A: Not at all. It just shows more versatility in what you do -- unless you try and cross the barriers. I keep my hip-hop as hip-hop, my R&B as R&B and my pop as pop. The ability to cross those boundaries and do all these things effectively is not commonly done. People just want the hottest records. It's not really about all the names attached to the project. It's about the work.
Q: Are you worried about spreading yourself too thin?
A: No. I love making music and work at the pace that feels comfortable to me. It just so happens that my pace of working is insane [laughs]. I don't ever push the creative sponge and squeeze it out too much. I try to do it as it flows. I'm always making tracks. I find that when you make tons of tracks, you stumble upon genius. You can't always turn the drum machine on and right away there's a hot track. Sometimes you luck out. But it can take a lot of time between thinking about the artist, listening to music for inspiration or going to clubs. It's about making as many tracks as you can. Then the odds of there being some hits in there are higher. You also get better at the craft and start reaching a little further. You get bored by certain easy things that you do; you notice that you're using too much of a particular sound or element. So you try other stuff. A lot of producers get comfortable doing what's easy and not reaching. There's always room for reinvention every time you work. I learned that from Dr. Dre and Timbaland.
Q: There's a school of thought that beats are becoming a more important franchise than the song itself.
A: It's all important. There are songs that have gotten over because of a good track, and maybe the actual song isn't as good. But the opposite applies as well. There have been plenty of songs with incredible hooks where it doesn't matter what the track is doing. There is a lot of B-class music doing A-class numbers.
Q: Who is more important in this equation: you as the songwriter/producer, the artist or the song/track?
A: The song and the artist's image create the success. As far as producers go, that just gives a little stamp of approval the same way a cameo appearance does on a record. It's hit or miss sometimes when you hire name-brand producers. You're not always guaranteed a hit. But if you get a smash from a name-brand producer, that's a whole other way to market that record.
Q: What's the going rate for a top producer's services?
A: It's about $100,000 a track. That's upper-mid or lower-high. At the low end of the scale, it's $5,000 to do a beat. And you might have to provide the studio too out of that $5,000 [laughs].
Q: What artists are still on your production wish list?
A: One is actually happening as we speak: Nas. He's been a friend for many years, and we've worked in the capacity of doing cameos on songs for other people's projects. However, owing to geographical or scheduling issues, we had never got it together for a straight-up Nas album. So this is the first. And now that he's aligned forces with Jay-Z, it's an even cooler situation.
Q: What trends are you hearing in R&B and hip-hop?
A: Everybody is trying to capitalize on the Down-South thing. It came from the streets and is now a respectable art form that is dominating everywhere. But I also see a major return of the West Coast in the coming months in terms of hip-hop, partially due to the Game's work. He has groomed himself up to be huge. Hyphy is a cool vibe. I see that definitely being big on the West Coast and in the Midwest. As for reggaeton, there's a need for more development. There needs to be more artists and other people pushing the parameters of that art form to develop it to another level. Latin hip-hop, that's the direction where the whole art form is going toward.
Q: In an interview last year, you described yourself as the Meyer Lansky of hip-hop. Do you still view yourself that way?
A: Yes. I mean, you have to have thick skin in this industry. You've got to be able to take a lot of rejection and deal with such problems as cheating, stealing, lying, lawyers. At the age of 32, I sometimes feel like I'm 50 already [laughs]. At the end of the day, you really have to separate yourself, have a split personality. When you go into the studio, do whatever you have to do to relax. Take a minute and get into Zen mode and turn on the artist light. At the same time, there's always something you're getting hit with in terms of business. You've got to be strong because people will try to take advantage of you, especially when you get to a certain point in your career. You become prey for the rest of the world who's trying to do what you do.
Q: You were very vocal about not receiving a 2005 Grammy Award nod for producer of the year. However, you were recently honoured by the Philadelphia Chapter of the Recording Academy. Did that alleviate some of the earlier sting?
A: Yeah [laughs]. I guess that was their way of making up for it. But you know, it's cool. I'll get over it. My life doesn't revolve around the Grammy world. I'm still making records.
Q: If you were not a songwriter/producer, what would you be doing right now?
A: I'd probably be playing piano in a bar and doing weddings and bar mitzvahs. I'm really just a regular person who loves music.
Women Who Jam: The All Female Signed And Unsigned Artist 12-City
Source: Kristian Buchanan / NABFEME, Inc. / email@example.com
(May 8, 2006) New York, NY - From legendary acts such as Toni Braxton and Yolanda Adams, to upcoming artists such as Latoya London and Vivian Green, to unsigned hometown favourites such as Kayte Burgess and Keanna Johnson, Women Who Jam for over five years has been a marketing vehicle via the Women Who Jam CD, artist showcases, and website for music's acclaimed and nameless treasures. Conceptualized by the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment (NABFEME), the ultimate network of female powerhouses, the Women Who Jam 'Livin My Dream' Empowerment Tour, an all female concert tour, promises to enhance the careers of national recording artists while building the fan base for unsigned independent acts. Women Who Jam is the perfect outlet for a female musical act, comedian, or spoken word artist to showcase her talent, gain exposure, and sell her products. The twelve city tour kicks off in Washington DC on June 8, 2006 during Black Music Month. Submissions are now being accepted from all female talent interested in participating in the tour. "The Women Who Jam Tour will drive the music and entertainment industry back to its roots of originality, imagination, and creativity," said Johnnie Walker, founder and president of NABFEME. "Women Who Jam seeks to provide a promotional outlet and gathering place for ground breaking female DJ's, musicians, comedians, and singers, who are often times overlooked by major concert promoters, radio conglomerates and print media. We are committed to promoting, supporting, and providing a base for real singers and inventive artists," added Walker.
All submissions must be submitted by May 19, 2006. Artists should mail their submissions to NABFEME, Inc. 59 Maiden Lane, 27th Floor, New York, NY 10038. For submission guidelines or additional information call (212) 424-9568 or visit www.womenwhojam.com. A subsidiary of NABFEME, Women Who Jam, is a female driven movement and respected brand. In addition to the all female concert tour Women Who Jam properties include: a promotional CD, distributed to industry insiders quarterly; a web portal, the gathering place for female artists to network; and the popular annual all female music showcase and experience, held during NABFEME's International Leadership Summit. Real women, real talent, real artistry is the definition and function of the Women Who Jam imprint. For more information about Women Who Jam visit the website at www.womenwhojam.com. Since its inception, NABFEME has recognized the achievements and contributions of African-American women in the world of entertainment. Founded by music industry trailblazer Ms. Johnnie Walker, the non-profit organization supports and empowers black female professionals at all levels in the music and entertainment industry. More than 6,000 women worldwide have benefited from its mission to promote the entry, development, and advancement of black female executives in music and entertainment. For more information about NABFEME visit the website at www.nabfeme.org. For media inquiries contact Kristian Buchanan at (917) 892-9645 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spotlight On Soul/R&B/Jazz Sensation Jeff Hendrick
Source: www.umac.ca - By UMAC Marketing Coordinator Staffeen Thompson
In my recent dialogue with Jeff Hendrick on his life, achievements and musical career, I could definitely detect that drive for excellence that is necessary for all recording artists in today's competitive music industry. His story illustrates his strong work ethic and sincere humility. Since the release of his debut CD, 'Bout Time, in 2002, Hendrick has acknowledged that his songwriting and knowledge of the production process have evolved, and propelled him towards his current niche. Though remaining in the realm of Soul and R&B, he has creatively tapped into elements of Jazz - consistently refining his musical style. In his newly released album, Soul Celebration, he revisits a unique musical sensibility that has been a prominent thread in his sound - one that is delightfully refreshing. This musical awareness emerges in the form of rich instrumentality - something that is present in all of his work and yields smooth and vibrantly engaging songs.
Hendrick's debut album saw him perform in Canada and subsequently took him abroad touring in the US and Europe. At its conclusion and after sufficient downtime, Hendrick started developing new material for Soul Celebration - a process he described as 'an engagement of the senses'. This album could also be deemed a 'soul seduction' with his smooth voice and chilled-out beat, as he also manages to lightly infuse elements of Jazz, Latin and Pop, which can be quite a challenge. This timeless fusion brings to mind other producers, who have successfully mastered the art of creating distinct moods - developing an atmospheric cocktail. His inspiring musical career speaks of longevity and acclaim - and from here on it can only amplify. Presently, he is finishing up an all-instrumental album and is preparing a third vocal record scheduled for release this fall - one which I envision to be a colourful continuation of his present work. With a mission to inspire a positive outlook and an enduring sense of hope in his audience, it only makes sense that his own success would blossom like it has.
"Jeff has a keen understanding of the Canadian music industry and knows exactly where he fits, and doesn't waste time trying to be something he's not. He focuses his energy on doing what he does best - making quality music to keep you moving on the dance-floor!" -- Simon Fisher, Solar Radio
Learn more about Jeff Hendrick at www.jeffhendrick.com or www.myspace.com/jeffhendrick.
Canadian Musicians, Songwriters And Producers Join To Form The
Canadian Music Creators Coalition
Some of Canada's most high profile musicians, songwriters and producers have come together to form the Canadian Music Creators Coalition (CMCC) in order to provide a new voice in Canadian copyright and cultural policy: the artists themselves. The CMCC believes that industry lobbyists for major record labels and music publishers do not represent the views of all music creators in debates about Canada's copyright laws and other key cultural policy issues, and they want to make their voices heard. Members of the CMCC include: Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sum 41, Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace), Billy Talent, Broken Social Scene, Sloan and Bob Wiseman (Co-founder Blue Rodeo).
Following are the CMCC's three key principles (in their own words):
1. Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical. Artists do not want to sue music fans. The labels have been suing our fans against artists' will, and laws enabling these suits cannot be justified in artists' names.
2. Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive. Artists do not support using digital locks to increase the labels' control over the distribution, use and enjoyment of music or laws that prohibit circumvention of such technological measures. Consumers should be able to transfer the music they buy to other formats under a right of fair use, without having to pay twice.
3. Cultural Policy Should Support Actual Canadian Artists. The vast majority of new Canadian music is not promoted by major labels, which focus mostly on foreign artists. The government should use other policy tools to support actual Canadian artists and a thriving musical and cultural scene.
For more information, visit www.musiccreators.ca.
Winnipeg’s Newest King Ready To “Target” National Audiences
Source: Reach Records
(April 26, 2006) Winnipeg singer/songwriter Jodi King has been handpicked by Roots Clothing to grace the stage for the 6th Annual “Rethink Breast Cancer” event as part of the Canadian contribution to the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer® (FTBC) campaign. Roots Clothing is the exclusive retailer for FTBC in Canada. The event, will take place on Thursday, May 4th, 2006 inside the Roots flagship store, located at 100 Bloor Street West. This private, “invitation only” fundraiser will feature an elegant cocktail reception in addition to Jodi’s performance. Jodi, a classically trained pianist, and expressive lyricist, is thrilled to be involved with this important event. “To come to Toronto with Roots and the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer® campaign is a definite benchmark in my career. I’m honoured that Roots, a Canadian retail institution, has asked me to be part of their 2006 efforts for FTBC.” As a FTBC performer, Jodi joins the likes of such illustrious predecessors as Feist and Lenni Jabour. Jodi recently joined the roster of Reach Records, the Toronto based management company representing upcoming R&B trio Untitled and Juno nominee Ray Robinson. A regular fixture on the local Winnipeg and Manitoba club and live music circuit, Jodi has showcased her well honed skills at the Western Canadian Music Festival and Canadian Music Week. With influences and inspiration from such artists as Lauryn Hill, Nikka Costa and Stevie Wonder, Jodi has shared the stage with some of Canada’s top new performers including Ivana Santilli, Sekoya and Ray Robinson. To date, over a quarter of a million dollars has been raised nationwide for the Rethink My Breasts/Fashion Targets Breast Campaign® which first launched in the United States in 1994 and currently takes place in 10 countries around the world. For more information on Jodi King, please contact: Wendy Vincent at 416.722.0608, or via email at: email@example.com.
Jay-Z's Hot Discovery Is Back: Rihanna Hits #1
Source: Amina Elshahawi, ThinkTank Marketing, firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.thinktankmktg.com
(May 5, 2006) Def Jam recording artist Rihanna is buoyed by the top 10 debut entry of her second album, A GIRL LIKE ME (follow-up to her RIAA gold debut, Music of the Sun), as she rides the crest of this year’s biggest crossover smash, “S.O.S.” – which takes over the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, Pop 100, Hot Digital Songs Chart, Hot Dance Club Play Chart, and Billboard Monitor and R&R (Radio & Records) Pop charts. With “S.O.S.” popping everywhere, “Unfaithful” (co-written by Def Jam label mate Ne-Yo and produced by Stargate) is taking off as A GIRL LIKE ME’s second single pick. The song debuts at #34-bullet on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart and is #1 most added at Rhythm, putting the song on more than 85 stations as of impact date. The video for “Unfaithful,” directed by Anthony Mandler, made its MTV debut this week on TRL – where “S.O.S.” has already enjoyed its own #1 stay. The “S.O.S.” video, directed by Chris Applebaum , was also # 1 on AOL video (with over 8 million plays to date) and Top 5 at Yahoo! Music. Taking off behind an infectious taste of “Tainted Love” (the Soft Cell classic), “S.O.S.” has logged more than 157,000 iTunes downloads to date, and was the biggest first week digital single EVER! On May 15, go to MSNVIDEO.COM where MSN will feature an exclusive album release party and performance from Rihanna...live from Barbados!
“S.O.S.” is a worldwide phenomenon that has gone #1 on the Canadian Airplay chart, the Japanese International chart, the Australian singles chart, the French airplay chart and European airplay chart. In this country, it marks the second time Rihanna has topped the Dance Club chart since last summer 2005, when her #1 “Pon De Replay” stopped traffic in the U.S. and Europe, and was certified a triple-platinum digital download by the RIAA. The beautiful young Barbados native, personally signed by Def Jam president and CEO Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, has caught the eyes of NIKE and JC Penny for high-level endorsement deals. NIKE chose “S.O.S.” as the theme for an exclusive video, choreographed by the world renowned Jamie King (Madonna and Shakira) which launched their newest clothing line (check out the video at www.nikewomen.com). Similarly captivated by Rihanna, JC Penny has chosen Rihanna as the new face of Miss Bisou in their stores nationwide as well as in their advertising campaigns. Her video and music will be featured in all Junior’s sections of the stores. Meanwhile, Rihanna is making her movie debut in a cameo role playing herself in the upcoming cheerleader flick, Bring It On: All Or Nothing, currently in production. After making appearances last week on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, Live with Regis & Kelly, MTV’s TRL and CD USA, Rihanna is looking forward to future appearances on NBC’s Last Call with Carson Daly and more.
VP Records Pays Tribute To the King of Dancehall
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson
(May 4, 2006) VP Records, in collaboration with King Jammy’s Sound, has announced the release of the most comprehensive retrospect of the legendary sound that triggered digital reggae music, commonly referred to as dancehall. Two compilations paying tribute to King Jammy’s will be released in 2006 that will include: international hits, unreleased tracks from King Jammy’s archives, deep cuts and rare behind the scenes footage. Recently, there has been a massive resurgence of digital “throwback” riddims, so the timing could not have been more precise for this original collection to be released. From the reappearance of the “Father Jungle Rock” riddim in the Fugee’s reunion at the 2005 BET Awards and also on I-Wayne’s hit “Can’t Satisfy Her,” to the popular "85" riddim featuring deejays like Assassin and Cham, to Ini Kamoze & Sly and Robbie’s “World A Reggae” riddim resurrected by Damien Marley in “Welcome to Jamrock,” to the famous "Sleng Teng Resurrection" revived by Bounty Killer and original vocalist Wayne Smith to the restoration of Admiral Bailey’s "Punany" on the current “Capital P” VP Riddim Driven Series, the presence of these classic rhythms prevail today.
On July 18th, the first release ‘King at The Controls,’ a DVD and compact disc collection, will unveil twenty of King Jammy's most acclaimed tracks as well as exclusive behind the scenes footage. The musical set highlights the celebrated classics and gives you a taste of the highly anticipated ‘Selector’s Choice’ dual box set due out this fall. A few renowned tunes to look forward to are, "Sleng Teng" by Wayne Smith, "Music Lover" by Shabba Ranks, "Punany" by Admiral Bailey, "Agony" by Pinchers and "Mr. Landlord" by Half Pint. The bonus DVD includes the first in depth documentary on King Jammy with exclusive interviews from Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Chaka Demus, Admiral Bailey, Wayne Smith (from Sleng Teng), and the King himself! It also includes never seen before historical footage from the Waterhouse community, Ninja Man’s recording sessions inside Jammy’s studio, as well as photos and live footage from King Jammy’s personal archives. The second release, ‘Selector’s Choice,’ will be a dual release of two 4-disc box sets coming this October. It will be the most all-inclusive tribute ever paid to the legendary producer, who sparked reggae’s digital revolution, revealing the rest of his most cherished and prized hits along with some hidden gems that have been preserved until now. This full collection will give the listener an enjoyable and educational journey into one studio's lifetime dedication and contribution to a crucial era of dancehall reggae.
Hector Bambino “El Father” Leads The Charge For The Roc La
Source: Universal Music Canada
(May 1, 2006) PUERTO RICO/NEW YORK - Puerto Rican reggaeton superstar Hector Bambino “El Father” kicks in the door with his debut album on Roc La Familia – the new world music enterprise from Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records. His new joint, Roc La Familia & Hector Bambino "El Father" Present Los Rompe Discotekas, is destined to shake up the urban world on and off la isla when it hits the streets on June 20, 2006. The album features heavyweights from both the reggaeton and hip-hop worlds. Notable guests, including Don Omar, Wisin Y Yandel, Fat Joe, Memphis Bleek, Alexis Y Fido, YOMO, Freeway, add a new dimension to “El Father’s” patented rapid-fire delivery and infectious beats. The first single, “Here We Go Yo,” sets it off with a special appearance from rap icon, Jay-Z aka “El Presidente,” who makes his own state of la union address on the track by proclaiming his alliance with Bambino: “Young Hov in the place to be…Hector Bambino is running with me…R.O.C. is the family…R.O.C. is the family.” "Hector Bambino represents the ideal behind Roc La Famlilia,” says Def Jam President & CEO Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. “Roc La Familia exists because world music has evolved, it now blends contemporary styles such as hip-hop, rock and electronica with traditional and roots music. Hector blends genres and brings real stories and messages to the listener. His huge following and his passion for the music made us immediately realize that this is the right first release for Roc La Familia and we are in business with the right artist."
Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Hector Bambino “El Father” has been a leader in the burgeoning reggaeton movement since his teens. Although he is still in his 20s, Hector has had an extensive music career. During the mid 90´s Hector came to fame as part of the duet Hector and Tito; they won a Billboard Latin Music Award and became the first reggaeton artists to sell out a stadium in Puerto Rico. Their success paved the way to commercial success for artists such as Tego Calderon, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Wisin y Yandel. In 2005 Hector El Bambino debuted as a solo artist in Pasto, Colombia, in front of 60,000 fans. Many of his songs became big hits across Latin America and the U.S, including “Noche de Travesuras”, “Los Rompe Discotecas”, “Vamos pa la calle”, “Noche de Terror” and “Mirandonos”. Last year, “El Father” signed an agreement with hip-hop superstar Jay-Z whose belief in the movement is sure to provide him with the kind of worldwide stage his talent deserves. . Hector Bambino “El Father” was recently honoured with a 2006 Latin Billboard Award in the new category, “Reggaeton Song of the Year,” for his featured appearance on the song, “Mayor Que Yo” by Baby Ranks from the Mas Flow Vol.2 compilation album from Luny Tunes. Also featured on the tracks were Daddy Yankee, Tonny Tun Tun and Winsin Y Yandel.
ABOUT ROC LA FAMILIA:
Roc La Familia is an extension of Roc-A-Fella Records and headquartered in New York. Roc La Familia will feature a broad array of artists encompassing such musical genres as Latin hip-hop, reggae, reggaeton, pop, rock and more. The first two superstar releases from the label will come from famed artists Hector Bambino “El Father” (Roc La Familia & Hector Bambino “El Father” Present Los Rompe Discotekas--June 20, 2006) and N.O.R.E (N.O.R.E. Y La Familia…Ya Tu Sabe—July 18, 2006).
Former Destiny's Child Member LeToya Back With Sizzling
Self-Titled Solo Debut Album
Source: Capitol/Virgin Music Canada
(May 1, 2006) After helping establish Destiny’s Child as a musical force by singing on and co-writing some of their signature smash hits, including; “Bills Bills Bills” and “Say My Name,” LeToya returns with her self-titled debut album. It is due in stores July 18, 2006, and boasts stellar production work from Scott Storch (Dr. Dre, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce) and features guest appearances from Mike Jones, Jazze Pha, Paul Wall, Bun B and Slim Thug. LeToya has just also confirmed a promotional trip to Toronto May 15 and 16 to host an advance listening opportunity for press and a select invite-only audience, and connect for interviews. Having a self-titled album made the most sense to the accomplished singer, who also runs the successful clothing and accessory store Lady Elle in Houston. “It’s the world’s first time hearing me and getting to know me as a solo artist,” LeToya says, “so what better way to get them to know me than call it LeToya?” The lead single Torn, is already being played at THE FLOW in Toronto and the video is being serviced to MUCHMUSIC this week. Video outlets MTV Jams & VH1 Soul in the U.S. have leapt to add the track. Yahoo! Music recently gave Torn its online premiere and LeToya has been selected as the next "The New Now" artist for Yahoo!'s “Who's Next" initiative (previous "New Now" artists have included Mike Jones, James Blunt, Death Cab For Cutie and KT Tunstall). The song, Torn lyrically details the struggles of a strained relationship, and the album overall features a number of songs that represent Houston’s emerging sound. LeToya salutes her city on the innovative screwed-R&B hybrid “Gangster Grill,” which features Mike Jones and Killa Kyleon. She delivers two more up-tempo smashes with “Tear Da Club Up” with Bun B and Jazze Pha as well as “All Eyes On Me,” which features Paul Wall and Slim Thug. LeToya was a member of Destiny’s Child for seven-years and in addition to her heavy hitting co-writing and performance skills, she appeared on the breakthrough The Writing’s On The Wall album, which has been certified 8-times platinum in the United States Now, with her album ready to be released, LeToya will again have the world saying her name.
In Parkdale, Reaching For The High Notes
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gerald Hannon
(May 6, 2006) She's holding her music with one hand, and dealing with a toddler and a banana with the other. "Strumming my pain with his fingers," she's singing. "Singing my life with his words." Her son, softly chatters a gentle counterpoint, then suddenly transfers his interest to an orange, which drops from his hands and rolls toward the pianist's feet. His mother moves to retrieve it. "Killing me softly with his song, telling my whole life with his words. . ." She doesn't miss a note. Perhaps in her 20s, she is the youngest of six singers rehearsing this afternoon in a small, bright, overheated room at the Parkdale Community Health Centre on Queen Street West. There are three other women and two men. The choir members stand beside their folding chairs, more confident now, close to mastering some of the trickier rhythms. "And then he looked right through me, as if I wasn't there. . ." Perhaps that line has echoes in their lives. Formally known as the centre's adult community choir, the group is probably most often referred to as the Parkdale homeless choir -- semi-accurate, in that some participants have housing difficulties or regularly experience "financial instability." Conceived by co-ordinator Sara Sniderham, the centre's creative arts program, which began last year and is funded by several granting institutions, also includes a writing group, a theatre group and drawing and painting classes. Program participants are working collectively on a project that is scheduled to make its debut Sept. 25. The creative writing group is writing a play based on the lives of Parkdale residents, which the theatre group will perform and in which the choir will sing.
There's some overlap -- Shelley La Hay, a part-time waitress brave enough to almost single-handedly maintain the baritone line (a lifetime of smoking probably helps), is also learning to paint, and wishes she had time to be part of the writing group. "I thought I was a bad singer for a long time," Ms. La Hay says, "but the warm-ups that Eric does help me a lot." Musical director and pianist Eric Schwindt -- long-haired, scruffy and genial -- begins each class with breathing exercises and scales. Employed by the community centre, he's a professional musician, classically trained, but he's done a lot of pop as well, and he likes pop music. He talks to choir members as one musician to another, about difficult modulations and a tricky leap of a minor seventh. He makes them repeat difficult passages and doesn't falsely praise. Are they good? Not yet. Their voices sound too harsh and lived-in, and they lack confidence. They find part-singing difficult. Still, they can snap their fingers off the beat. And when they're standing, swaying, fingers snapping as they sing Billy Joel's For the Longest Time, and the little boy is running around balancing a roll of masking tape on his head, they've got me almost believing that they're almost believing, "Once I thought my innocence was gone/Now I know that happiness goes on." "Not bad," Mr. Schwindt says. They sing their hearts out for the guy. In that way, they're like every choir on the planet.
R&B/Hip-Hop Duo Suddenly A Hot Commodity
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Sanjiv Bhattacharya, Special To The Star
(May 6, 2006) Burbank, Calif.—"Music was better when we were kids," says the producer and deejay Danger Mouse. It's an odd comment coming from someone who's half of Gnarls Barkley, the R&B/hip-hop duo whose single "Crazy" is a No. 1 hit in the U.K. Their album, St. Elsewhere, is poised for its North American digital release Tuesday and is suddenly in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. The other half of Gnarls Barkley, singer Cee-Lo Green, sits nodding beside him, hunched over a burger in a hotel suite. "We had longer attention spans back then. When we were young we had tapes, and you left them on. You didn't fast forward, in case you overshot; you listened to every track," says Danger Mouse. "And songs you didn't like turned out to be your favourite songs because the album became a person. It grew on you. Now, if kids don't like the first few bars, they're gone. You've got to grab them. I tell you what the problem is — it's downloading." You're serious? "Yeah, but not because of the copyright thing, nothing to do with that," he says quickly. There's a rich irony here — after all, Danger Mouse, a.k.a. Brian Burton, 28, shot to fame in part for actually provoking a campaign of illegal downloading. It was how he emerged from obscurity and was a fittingly sensational start to a career. The Adventures of Danger Mouse may only have been running for a couple of years, but it is already one of the most exhilarating developments in music. In 2003, the relatively unknown deejay Danger Mouse mixed the Beatles's White Album with Jay Z's Black album to create the now legendary Grey Album — and made 3,000 copies for friends and their friends, a kind of remixer's calling card. Sure enough, word spread. The Beatles's record label, EMI, filed letters to "cease and desist" because none of the samples had been cleared and, almost immediately, the man in the fluffy mouse outfit became a lightning rod for protest against the major labels and the censorship of art. On Grey Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004, approximately 170 websites hosted the Grey Album, and 100,000 copies were downloaded in defiance. Mainstream reviewers hailed it as innovative, dazzling and one of the most important records of the year. Much to EMI's chagrin, their own Damon Albarn was so impressed — "I loved the idea," he said, "that you can take the past and present and make something futuristic" — that he hired Danger Mouse to produce the Gorillaz's next album, Demon Days. Reviewers hailed that as innovative, dazzling and one of the most important records of the year, too, and Danger Mouse was nominated for a Grammy.
Now the Mouse Man has a new muse — Cee-Lo Green, 31, a.k.a. Thomas Calloway, formerly of the Atlanta-based rap group, the Goodie Mob. Heavy and bald with buggy eyes and a raspy laugh, Cee-Lo also has a rich soul tenor, a voice that Andre 3000 of Outkast would love to have. "You ask me why we're called Gnarls Barkley and I'm asking you `why not?'," says Cee-Lo. He and Danger Mouse are finishing a late lunch on a busy press day for the new album. Danger Mouse grins. "There's no story behind it," he says, reaching for the cheesecake, and insisting it has nothing to do with Charles Barkley, the basketball player. In person, Danger Mouse cuts a skinny, unthreatening figure. Unassuming and soft-spoken, he likes to listen rather than draw attention. Admittedly, he often favours a mouse outfit for public appearances, but that started while he was deejaying at college as a way of overcoming his shyness in front of crowds. For an appearance last weekend at the Coachella music festival in Indio, Calif., he was the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, while two backup singers were dressed as Dorothy. But his mild manner belies a confidence to follow his instincts. While dispensing with "conscious decisions" might sound a little "out there" to some, it's business as usual for Danger Mouse. "I don't look at myself as a traditional producer," he says. "I work very differently." For example, he claims a spiritual advisor known as "Dr. President" about whom he refuses to elaborate. He insists on a couch or a bed in his studios, somewhere he can sleep — a vestige from those nights starting out in his bedroom. And he once said: "I don't know how to write a song traditionally, I only know how to distinguish between what's good and what's bad. As long as you have enough good for three minutes, that's a song to me." As it happens, two minutes or even 86 seconds of "good" is okay, too. One of St. Elsewhere's charms is its brevity. Another is its enormous range. Like Demon Days it fizzes with ideas, from cartoonish horror stomps to black Portishead, to singalong '80s pop and even a Violent Femmes cover ("Gone Daddy Gone"). It sounds fresh, unprecious and very post-"Hey Ya," but, like so much else in the Danger Mouse portfolio, it's notoriously hard to categorize.
"I call it industrial Euro-soul," says Cee-Lo. "Some of them beats are dirty like a factory. They sound like he's on the laptop with gloves on. The `Euro' is because industrial music is more European like you know, Kraftwerk or ... Aphex Twin, or some shit." Danger Mouse licks his spoon. "I prefer `psychedelic soul'," he says. "Psychedelic music is pretty much all I listen to right now. Really raw experimental stuff from the '60s and '70s, stuff like the Churchills, the Electric Prunes ... That's the spirit I wanted here. Experimentation and melody." There's something retrogressive about St. Elsewhere. Not the music, but the concept is nostalgic — an album that exceeds the sum of its parts, that hangs together so the songs bloom in context. Just like the albums Danger Mouse grew up listening to, St. Elsewhere is like a person. It grows on you. It was recorded in Georgia, where Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo first met eight years ago at a talent contest. Back then, Cee-Lo was a star — Goodie Mob were second only to Outkast in the world of southern hip hop — and Danger Mouse was a struggling deejay with a line in dark, moody soundscapes. Years later, when Danger Mouse asked Cee-Lo to guest on a record he was making with a rapper called Jemini, the two resolved to make an album together, which they recorded "on and off whenever we could find time." Typically, their method was unlike the way most artists and producers collaborate — Danger Mouse made the tracks and Cee-Lo came up with the lyrics and melody, more or less independently. For all the playfulness and humour on the album, there's an underlying darkness, a lost feeling that goes beyond the standard themes of heartbreak or injustice. Cee-Lo sings about doubt and suicidal thoughts, gathering storms and necrophilia. "That's not always literal, the necrophilia," he says. "I mean, there's a figurative aspect, like trying to coax love out of someone that's dying inside, a girl who had her spirit killed. I'm a moody and melancholic kind of guy, honestly. And Brian's music is like that — dark. It's not something you can pretend." He didn't have to. The making of St. Elsewhere coincided with dark times for Cee-Lo. While Danger Mouse's star rose, Cee-Lo's career was floundering. After the Goodie Mob split up in 2002, he went on to two solo projects. Though critically acclaimed, neither quite hit and, when his label contract ended, he wasn't invited to renew.
It was a bleak time. "I had a divorce. I got two kids. I didn't have a deal," says Cee-Lo. He did co-write "Don't Cha" in 2005, which became a hit for The Pussycat Dolls. But beyond that the only work he had was with Gnarls Barkley or as a guest on the brilliant MF Doom album, The Mouse and the Mask. Danger Mouse started out in New York, the son of a teacher and a social worker, listening to hip hop, hair metal and '80s pop — Wham and Iron Maiden. The family moved to Athens, Ga., when he was 12, where he was introduced to Southern hip hop. His teens were all about the hard Miami Bass sound of Magic Mike — at least until college, where he signed on for music but was turned down. "They said I didn't play an instrument well enough." Languishing in a telecommunications course instead, he started making beats with whatever equipment he could get his hands on. Since equipment cost money, he started working as a hip-hop deejay as a sideline, and came up with the name Danger Mouse. "I loved the cartoon. It was kind of a cult thing ... so it was pretty cool. It sounded fun. Silly." A disappointing sojourn in England followed. "I f---ing hated it," he says. "I was broke and single. It wasn't what I expected." He returned to hip hop, put together "a little demo," got signed "right away" and returned to Georgia. Today, Danger Mouse is the producer of choice. But since his big break with Gorillaz, he has worked with MF Doom and Cee-Lo, collaborations that were in the works before he became a name. "The important thing is that I keep working with people I like," he says. It's a lesson he picked up in his first year of college when he was so immersed in the scenes he grew up in — the hip hop, the southern sound, Miami Bass — that he couldn't even name a Beatles song. "So when I heard that stuff for the first time, can you imagine? Beatles, Pink Floyd, it just hit me over the head. I realized that there was so much I didn't know about because it was outside my comfort zone. "So I just stopped trying to fit in with what was around me and I just went with what I liked, friends, and music, and everything. I decided to be myself as much as I could be, before it was too late. And music was the thing that signified that change for me. It made it tangible. Music changed my life."
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Chuck Taylor
(May 1, 2006) The last time we all saw Jewel, she was hot. Not hot, like beautiful-hot, the sort of earthy-granola beauty that Jewel fans had come to expect. It was more of a "I'm a naughty firefighter" hot, as she pranced in red vinyl shorts and a white tank top -- one that quickly became see-through, when she was hosed down -- in the video for "Intuition," the hit from her last album, "0304." The whole look was a bit of a departure for Jewel, to say the least, and one that seemed to confuse her fans. In a career that her label, Atlantic Records, says has seen her sell more than 25 million albums worldwide, "0304" was her first release to not go platinum in the United States. It's understandable, then, that fans, radio programmers, retailers and seemingly anyone else with an interest in Jewel's career are pleased to hear the first single from her new album, "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland," due May 2. The song, "Again and Again," leaves behind the synth-driven dance-pop of "Intuition," in favour of the sincere ruminations and guitar licks that Jewel's fans had come to expect. The last album owed to Atlantic, "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" is a melodic send-off—to Jewel's 20s, to 10 years in the music business and to her first record label contract. The 13 tracks chronologically survey the artist's journey from the plains of Alaska to the streets of Los Angeles and the complexities that have marked each step. Jewel, who says "Goodbye" is "the most autobiographical work I have made" since her first record, discussed the album and her career with Billboard.
You've been in the music business for 10 years now and your new "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" marks your sixth album. What did you want to get across this time around?
I wanted this record to be really honest -- to the point that people would almost feel embarrassed for me. That meant in the production I needed to find ways to get as little between me and the listener as possible.
I also see this record as a bookend to my first record, [1997's] "Pieces of You," because I was just turning 20 and a whole phase in my life was just ending. Getting signed to a record deal marked the beginning of a whole new phase, so there was a lot of introspection that took place. The same thing happened with record, because I was turning 30 and sort of looking back at the rough phase between 20 and 30. Now, my record deal has come to an end and I'm going to be a free agent. So it's really kind of a funny bookend.
I also think this album serves as a somewhat cryptic chronicle my life, from being raised on a ranch in Alaska to being homeless and living in my car to seeing Hollywood for the first time to the little elixir that said 'Drink Me' to being signed to a label and going on a wild journey and kind of going full circle where I live on a ranch now in Texas.
Would you characterize "Alice" as a positive album?
A lot of people tell me that they can't tell if this is the happiest record they have ever heard from me or the saddest record they have ever heard.
So the lyrics could be interpreted either way?
Yes, I think so. The reason I titled it "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" is because a lot of the songs deal with a similar theme, having to do with the letting go of fantasies or fairy tales and trying to see reality for how it is and then how do you really see truth without making it disillusioned or bitter, which I think a lot of this deals with.
I think most adults, most children, were told fairytales -- love is a really good example. You know, just find love, just find true love and the rest of your life gets easier. Well, when you do find true love the rest of your life usually gets difficult and it’s much harder than anybody tells you. And when you keep looking for that fairytale love and you keep thinking its going to get easier everyday, you kind of have such a deep level of dissatisfaction during the struggle of love that you might move on instead of stick it through. I think women do it a lot, same with men, who kid themselves about who they are with, that their needs are a lot stronger than their ability to see the truth.
So a lot of the record has to do with finding reality and not always being able to be completely tickled with reality but still being able to find a way to remain hopeful about it. With that said its sort of a mixed answer its sort of both at the same time. It has been some of the hardest times I've ever had and at the same time the most rewarding times I've ever had and that kind of comes across in each song.
Did the process of writing this album differ than those in the past?
Not really, no, my writing process has remained fairly the same. I have about 500 songs in my catalogue and I've always been able to figure out what kind of record I am making. I've never actually had to "write a record," and I tend to just have a pretty easy relationship with writing.
If there is a spot which I feel is missing on the record I'll write to fill that spot. I'm constantly writing and I'm doing songs live and I can tell if they are working. For all my records I've gone back to songs that I had written and go up to songs that I have just written.
The only thing that has changed for me in the process is becoming a professional writer and starting to write for other people. It's a different process; it's more like a job -– kinda like acting. You're paid to come in, sit down and produce instantly and that's kind of a slightly different process. Whereas when I write on my own I generally sort of just let a mood hit me and follow sort of a vague feeling.
Were most of the songs written in recent times?
I didn't go back to any random lyrics from the past to rework into these songs. But there were songs where I reached back. "Stevensville" I actually wrote when I was 25; "A Thousand Miles Away" I probably wrote when I was 18; "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" was much more recent. I had performed it live, for maybe six months or so.
"Words get in the Way" was a song I wrote when I was in the studio because I felt like that tempo and beat would be missing and just sort of a certain kind of whimsical type love song. "Again and Again" is a new song; "Only One Too" is a new song; "Long Slow Slide" I wrote it during my "This Way"  record so I must have been 25 or so 26ish.
Tell me about "Fragile Heart," which appeared in a different version on your last album, 2003's "0302."
I like that song, I think it has a shot for being a little radio song. The last record didn't have the legs for it, so I was hoping. I think it deserves its day.
"Stevensville" -- raw, autobiographical, weird to sing?
I was sitting, I had just moved to Texas, I was about 25 at the time and I was watching television and I saw a hand-washing, dishwashing commercial and I saw these ladies that had had an obvious set-stylist and wardrobe stylist and you know and I don't know why it just struck me that someone had told them how to do their hair and how to dress so they would look like younger, hip housewives. I don't know why but it just struck me as so odd and ironic and obvious in a way and it sort of set me off on a tangent and I don't know why. That just sort of made the whole song come out.
How was the experience of working with producer Rob Cavello?
I was so adamant about trying to make this record sound honest and raw somehow and really showcase the uniqueness of the songwriting instead of causing it to get more generic through the recording process, which it really happens a lot. I looked at producers and I didn't find any that I liked and I ended up making the record all on my own. I just used Jim Keltner on drums and I flew in some cats from Nashville, some pretty old school cats, and produced it myself and called it "The Hollywood Hills Sessions," which was a working title and it was this record in its whole entirety.
I was going to turn it in because it's my last record anyway and I knew it was really honest, it's a total singer songwriter type of album, really laid back, sort of like a Neil Young kind of harvest record. Total singer songwriter, totally honest, I was very pleased with it. I didn't think it was going to be the biggest hit record but I felt like I did my songs justice and what I really wanted to get across, just the honesty that I am at and where the songs are at.
I played it to a friend and you know he was like, "This is a really great record and you did a really great job but I think you can make it a little bit better," and he said, "I think I know just the guy for you," and he said Rob Cavello and I said, "The Rock guy?" I was like, "Have you not heard a word I've been saying about how I want this record to turn out?" And he said, "No, just meet with him," and when I did meet with him it was instantly obvious.
We just went in, kind of like, "Let's try it out, let's spend a week in the studio." I felt pretty sure that he really got where I was coming from and I think one of his great talents is helping an artist be authentic to who they really are. He doesn't have any desire to try and change it into commerciality. I think the reason he has had commercial success is because he's fought so hard to just let the artist shine for themselves, to the best of their ability.
I've had a problem in the past with producers comprehending -- "Well, the other songs are six minutes long." There aren't many people who think that that is pretty cool. You know its easy to kind of miss the subtleties and anger in a lot of my lyrics and so I think that a lot of my records have sounded really pretty because my voice is pretty and kind of on the surface a lot of my lyrics are kind of pretty, but the kind of anger that is under there or the irony in the music has never really come out and I think Rob understood that pretty innately as well. He really stuck up for me to kind of have that in there as well.
How much of what you brought to the studio evolved?
Things stayed pretty similar. What I noticed I did is that I usually cut songs too slow. So I noticed the biggest thing we did with Rob is sort of push the tempo. So yeah, there was a lot that I did that stayed and that were pretty strong.
I think something that worked good was that Rob would have me play on my guitar for the band so they kind of got the feeling from where I was coming from during my performance. That way they were kind of able to vibe off of the more I was trying to get across that isn't in the lyrics necessarily.
How have you survived for a decade in a business where artists tend to be so disposable?
It is a funny business. You know when I was living in my car and a record label came to me I really felt in a great negotiating position because I felt like I had nothing to lose so I felt that it was going to be my way or there was going to be no way. You couldn't take anything away from me.
My first record got successful which really validated a young artist's first instinct. You know at that point in my career if my first record hadn't been successful I might have felt the pressure to try and change what I do to try and fit in. You know for me, I think one of the best things that first record did was it validated my first instinct. It taught me to really fight for what really interests me, and besides that it bought me financial independence. I became rich. That brought me to another great negotiating position because I didn't need money.
So, I was kind of able to do whatever the heck I wanted to my whole career and being famous has never been my biggest goal so that has never dictated what I'm trying to do. It's just sort of been about what I'm into, what interests me and really trying to learn what the studio is about and really trying to push myself because I felt that I had a fair amount of skill in writing and singing, but as far as recording went, I was just lost. I felt like it took all those years until now to finally get to the record where I felt like I was able to use the studio for my own benefit instead of it kind of covering me up more.
Atlantic Records has changed a lot since your last album three years ago. Are you concerned that many of your allies are no longer there?
I was really concerned, especially as far as how many changeovers are happening. I had even looked to going to Warner Brothers for this record, but I would have had to offer up more records to do that.
Are you pleased to have the chance for a fresh start with your label deal ending?
To be 31 and already a free agent, that's an unusual position to be in and I'm glad for that. I didn't know how the label was going to shape up. If I was going to turn in a record that was un-releasable just to get out of my contract, I didn't know what kind of poker I would be playing. But, it took me some time to make this record and watched to see the label kind of settle down and I've been really, really pleased so far.
They have been really straight with me and I think that they really want to get this record for me and I think they want it for themselves and I want it for myself and it seems to be a really good partnership so far.
"Again and Again" has reached the top 20 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 airplay chart. How does it feel to be back on radio?
I've been through the ringer on every side of it and my music in general has never been a real easy sell on the radio. It usually is a long slow fight. I've never had radio go, "Wow, right on," which means that a label usually has to stick with me. You know I try and keep things as affordable for myself and them so we can keep things [going] as long as we can and to push as long as we can.
I'm proud of this record. It's a really good artistic record and I think that they get it and they are really into my next single as well.
Which single is next?
I think it's going to be "Good Day." I would be so thrilled if a [song in 3/4 time] made it onto the radio. It would be such a triumph.
Your last album was a departure from your image as the go-to granola girl. It was much more pop. Do you feel like you lost some ground with your audience?
I sold about a million records on that one, so I think that my core audience got it. Anybody that has seen me live knows enough about my humour, that I will play country songs as well as jazz standards anything is fair game. They know that I love the tin-pan alley style of writing.
If anyone listened to that record they would know that it is really a smart record. The lyrics are really smart and it's a good story telling record, in my opinion. So, I didn't fluff out of compromise or anything. I mean if I was going "ooh, baby, baby" or "come on uh huh uh huh" or something I guess we would all worry about me. But for me it was really just I was getting into electronic music and dance remixes.
And with the war coming, I looked at what people listen to during war time and it's usually dancehall remix music. You know [in] the 40s and any war, were crowding into dancehalls wanting to lose themselves. I loved that, I loved trying, that's why I sampled so many songs from the 40s and tried to use a writing style that was very tin-pan alley and for me it was just a tremendous fun and challenge.
Like the song, "Leave the Lights On" had a really old school tin-pan alley lyric structure the way I set up the verses with a completely modern context was a really big turn on for me to do. And the video, I didn't think anybody could mistake the video, but I was wrong. It's such a funny video, but I guess people would just see a clip of it instead of seeing the whole video, which is what I think ended up happening.
How about the tie-in with the "Intuition" razor with your first single? That seemed to stir up a good deal of criticism.
I think part of it must have been the press just trying to start some trouble. I mean I've been around for 10 years, what else are you going to say? You've got to come up with a story.
I think a lot of my core fans really got it. I've gotten a lot of compliments, people coming up to me telling me that they loved it.
I can't believe people didn't get it. I think the Schick thing threw it all off. I think that's the one thing people didn't get. I didn't have complete control over my licensing, but I got it back now so it can't happen again. That was a little bit beyond my control -- not to say that I wont endorse products again, but it will be something a little more compatible with something rather than Schick.
The song or the Razor?
I think that most people got the joke and got the music, but when they saw the commercial they were like, "Now how does this tie in?" But that was beyond my control. At that time I didn't own the whole song and that was just a regrettable thing, but s*** happens.
But the record, that's one of my favourite records [that I've] made. There is a song on there called "Haunted" that I really like. It's a really deep record and I just felt like nobody really dealt into it. As time goes by, I have more and more fans going, "You know I listened to that whole record."
So what are your career goals now?
I don't think I'm going to want to work this hard on records. I've been really competitive my whole life trying to make my music work on mass level. That might sound strange to say. It's been a neat challenge, but I've gotten into things where I want to start to write for other people and I would like to maybe produce some other artists.
You know, I'm thinking I might start looking into having a family in a couple of years and if I do, I don't think I'm going to want to put out such a big record. I will probably be a free agent and put out smaller records.
Is that your intention? Not pursue another large contract?
It's too soon to say really, but I'm definitely toying with it. It's really going to come down to numbers and how much I have to front and how hard I have to push a record on my own you know all of that crap.
As far as just creativity goes, I would like to just work out of my house more. I would like to put out a country record. I would like to [make] a jazz standard record where I write the songs.
Other than that, I don't have many other goals. The game gets tiring for me. I'm very committed to this record, I am touring for two years, but after that I don't think I am going to want to stay as visible as I am on any other record.
Soul Stars Saluting Motown, Philly Hits
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Gary Graff, Detroit
(April 28, 2006) The Motown-Philly connection Boyz II Men once sang about is alive and well -- and taking the form of the album "A Soulful Tale of Two Cities." The project is the brainchild of Phil Hurtt, a Philadelphia International songwriter who co-wrote the Spinners' "I'll Be Around" with Thom Bell. Hurtt and his cohorts are working in studios in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn and Philadelphia, where Motown singers are recording classic Philly soul songs and the Philly artists are doing the same with Motown hits. The final product will feature 46 tracks spread across two CDs. Hurtt's Soul Renaissance Records hopes to release the album in June, with the first singles -- one Motown and one Philly song -- due May 16. "It's one camp honouring the other camp, and vice versa," says Soul Renaissance vice-president Theo Primas, who is serving as the project's co-executive producer. "It's two great bodies of music that constitute what you can call the soundtrack of our lives. The artists are still here and vibrant, and we have not forgotten about them." The Detroit contingent includes George Clinton ("Expressway to Your Heart," "Love Don't Let Me Wait"), Freda Payne ("Betcha By Golly, Wow," "When Will I See You Again"), Lamont Dozier ("Me and Mrs. Jones," "Close the Door"), the Velvelettes ("People Make the World Go Round," "One of a Kind Love Affair"), the Temptations' Ollie Woodson ("Stairway to Heaven" -- the O'Jays, not Led Zeppelin), Chapter 8's Carolyn Crawford ("Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)") and the Vancouvers' Bobby Taylor ("Sadie," "If You Don't Know Me by Now").
The Philly corps features Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge ("Superstition," "Dancing in the Street"), Jean Carne ("Higher Ground," Ted Mills of Blue Magic ("Shop Around," "Just My Imagination (Runnin' Away With Me)"), Barbara Mason ("Get Ready," "My Baby Loves Me"), the Delfonics' William Hart ("Just Ask the Lonely," "Darling Forever"), Russell Thompkins, Jr., of the Stylistics ("Ain't That Peculiar," "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)"), Bunny Sigler ("Stop! In the Name of Love," "Ooh Baby Baby," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing"), the Trammps' Jimmy Ellis ("Shotgun," "Isn't She Lovely") and Hurtt ("Girl's Alright With Me"). Sigler and Carne team up on "Fire and Desire," while Sigler and Hurtt have recorded a rendition of the Temptations' rarity "I Need You." Motown's Funk Brothers and Philadelphia International's MFSB are also participating in the project, which is still being recorded. Other artists, including Motown's Kim Weston, are being added. A DVD from the sessions will be released, and some sort of live presentation -- and possibly a tour -- is being investigated.
DJ-Friendly Stores Finally Making The Switch As Software
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic
(May 7, 2006) The vinyl LP has survived aggressive incursions by everything from cassettes to CDs to DVD-Audio over the past few decades, but once again the vultures are circling closer. While analogue-attuned audiophiles clinging to their turntables have kept a stable core of pressing plants in business through the lean years, the biggest and briskest demand for new vinyl since the compact disc reared its shiny head a quarter-century ago has come from DJs. That demand, however, has begun to taper off in recent years with the advent of digital technologies such as Final Scratch and Serato Scratch — software packages with record-like interfaces that play on regular turntables and finally allow dance and hip-hop DJs to mix MP3 and WAV files culled from their hard drives as they would a pair of 12-inch singles. And the gradual desertion of the format by its most reliable consumer base is sending shivers up the spines of the record retailers who've been catering — at minute profit margins — to that small group all along. The late-'90s contraction of the North American rave scene spelled disaster for record shops around the continent, and here in Toronto, such peak-era staples as Eastern Bloc and the Pit fell within a couple of years of the new millennium. Last year, affable Queen Street fixture Black Market Records shut its doors when its proprietors decided they'd be better off promoting parties than selling them their soundtracks. Privately, both had been confiding for months that the rise of digital DJ-ing was starting to hurt. Even more recently, Yonge Street haunt Release Records dispensed with its physical location and its vinyl stock, opting to become an online retailer (http://www.releaserecords.com) dealing exclusively in DJ-oriented MP3 downloads. Some record-shop owners, such as 2 the Beat's Brian Bobroff, are slightly more optimistic about the future of DJ vinyl and betting the future of dance music lies somewhere in between. "2 the Beat was never called 2 the Beat Records, it was called 2 the Beat for the simple fact that I knew I've got to be ready to adapt to whatever," says Bobroff. "It's gone pretty well and even recently we're still seeing an increase in record sales.
"But it's an increasing reality that more and more DJs are either using or have already switched to digital media. So rather than give up or take a stab this way or that way, we want to be a mirror of a DJ. What would a DJ use? We want to have it." To that end, 2 the Beat is expanding its online presence in the weeks ahead to flog MP3s alongside the vinyl versions of the tracks it already sells in its Spadina Ave. space and on the Net. Bobroff doesn't look at http://www.2thebeatdigital.com — which will be up and running at full speed by the end of the month — as an admission of the LP or the 12-inch's looming demise, but rather a means of stabilizing his original business. 2 the Beat's motto has always been to be "a reflection of a DJ," he says, and if you head out to a nightclub these days you're liable to see a couple of CD mixers and a laptop sitting alongside the traditional two turntables and a mixer. He's hoping to satisfy both worlds. "We're not afraid of it. We just want to welcome it and work with it. I think that's how we're gonna survive," he says. "If vinyl was supposed to be dead, it would be dead. It's faced a lot of challenges and, personally, I like holding a record in my hand. I like to look at the album art. I treat it with more respect. I've deleted gigs' worth of songs without blinking, but I could never just throw a record away." Digital music is a growing market, as the boom in DJ-specific online outlets testifies. Popular Canadian DJs Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva — who both sagely bought into Final Scratch on the ground floor four years ago — are partners in the largest, Beatport.com, but there's mounting competition from such sites as DJDownload.com and InternetDJ.com. After some initial worries about illegal file sharing, dance record labels, meanwhile, are starting to release MP3 versions of their tracks. "I'm increasingly surprised by how many amazing new labels we're signing on a daily basis," concedes DJDownload.com co-founder Justin Pearse from London, whose site now has a roster of "just shy" of 1,500 labels and 30,000 registered users. "When we started we kind of said to one another that we were getting started at just the right time, or maybe even fractionally late. People who are getting into it now are either really brave or really stupid. It's a volume game and you're talking pence on every download."
Vancouver DJ Dan Wurtele was one of the first into the fray in November 2003 with PlayItTonight.com, whose name sums up another of digital's appeals: If you hear a track you want, you can find it online in minutes. "The initial reason was I had the main core of my record collection stolen," says Wurtele. "The price of re-buying all that vinyl was more than I could afford. I bought a CDJ (a digital turntable) and started rebuilding my collection. "Secondary benefits were quickly realized: as a producer, I can test out my new tracks in the club far cheaper than cutting dubplates. And MP3s are obviously cheaper, as well — currently I spend in a year on MP3s what I used to spend in a month on vinyl." PlayItTonight.com is "not a big player," concedes Wurtele, but the future is rosier than it will be for traditional record shops. "I think digital will definitely take over," he says. "It's a logical progression. Sure, I can like the sound of vinyl better and I enjoy looking at an album cover, but put it this way: If you're a kid getting into DJ-ing, you're going to look at buying a song. You can either pay $18 for a song on vinyl or $1.50 for the same song as an MP3. "Vinyl diehards will exist for some time and that's great. We need them. I have some songs I will never listen to as an MP3. Vinyl only. There's more substance there. But really, like it or not, it's only a matter of time before vinyl goes the way of the eight-track."
Drone On Buddha Machine Is New, Nifty
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter
(May 7, 2006) Ummm ... what to say about this latest music product out of China? Or perhaps, with its catchy name Buddha Machine, that should be "ommmm." Well, it's a cute device, it fits in the palm of the hand and it comes in six colours, randomly packaged so that whether you get hot pink, green, orange, etc. is strictly a crapshoot. (Life, after all, is suffering.) It's encased in the kind of cheap cardboard casing once used for boxes of animal crackers, but liberally adorned with Chinese characters. The music box inside looks for all the world like one of those nifty transistor radios of a bygone era, only in plastic. The Buddha Machine plays a series of nine musical drones, repeating loops that range from two to 42 seconds. The loops were recorded by FM3, a high-profile Beijing electronic music act comprised of Christiaan Virant and computer musician Zhang Jian. The product technology is minimalist; there's a jack for strictly private enjoyment, a volume button and a simple back-and-forth switch to change tracks, along with a DC jack (sans adaptor). But this seemingly modest sound box has developed a cult following among lovers of ambient music and recording artists like Brian Eno, formerly of Roxy Music, who bought eight at once, and Alan Bishop of Seattle's venerable but obscure Sun City Girls, who reportedly scooped up two dozen. The makers, in fact, recently released a second edition of the Buddha Machine and the obligatory marketing effort to flog T-shirts is underway. The two designs — one being a schematic of the interior and the other saying simply, "Buddha Machine" — are being sold on the Forced Exposure music website. Soundscapes on College St. has priced the device at $29.95 and has been doing a steady trade, selling close to 75 units since January.
Store spokesperson Geoff Brown said, like Eno and Bishop, customers tend to buy more than one and a few have returned for more. At $29.99 (plus tax), they make an affordable gift with the requisite amount of cool. "A lot of people love the drones, to read to or to work to. It's for audiophiles," Brown said. Kathryn Wehrle is among the recent converts. "I totally gave up my iPod for it. I walk to and from work with just track 1 playing over and over again," Wehrle said. "I'm really interested in electronic ambient music and this is a really cool way to promote it ... It just fades into the background and becomes part of your space." But she recommends using the earphone, saying the unit's built-in speaker does little justice to the contemplative Zen-like tones. With the earphones "you can hear a lot more of what's going on in the music. It's very layered," she said. The speaker is indeed unapologetically inferior, producing more crackle with each nudge on the volume. The batteries may also be lacking after the long Pacific crossing. And while the schematic displays a Buddha placidly sitting among the gadgetry, a little bird tells us that in actuality, he may not be present, having shed his physical self for a higher plane. However, while the musical loops fall short of Nirvana (the place, not the band), they do have a insidious charm. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, cross your legs and here we go — ommm ...
Teen Bands Rock On
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Philip Marchand
(May 8, 2006) "I'm terrified," Vanessa Colucci said to no one in particular as she walked into the room. This was not a basement with a karaoke machine in the corner. This was not a garage. This was a recording studio, a beast of a room with a powerful nervous system — amps on the floor, amps on the side, microphones, video cameras, theatrical lights hanging on tracks beneath an 8-metre ceiling, a Yamaha keyboard, wires snaking across the floor and out of the room to sound boards, an online broadcast and other connections. In this room, throughout this month, 50 high school bands are competing in Rock Icon: Ultimate Battle of the Bands, an event run by JJS Marketing group. The auditioning bands will come out of this recording studio at 136 Geary Ave. near Dufferin Ave. and Dupont St., with a CD of their performance — one cover song and an original song — and a chance to proceed to a final round in June. Colucci, 15, plays guitar and sings with a band called Chaos Theory, along with three of her classmates from Holy Cross high school in Woodbridge: Bianca Zeppa, 16, guitar and vocals, Christina Taccogna, 16, drums and vocals, and Brittany Tatangelo, 16, guitar. Yesterday afternoon they sat in a little room with their guitars waiting to be called to the recording studio. Everybody in the room, not just the band members, was nervous and excited. Large amounts of strawberry-flavoured licorice (supplied by one of the event's sponsors, Twizzlers) were consumed.
I asked the band members how long they had been together (two years), and what inspired them. "We do have a very cool music teacher," Taccogna said. "If it's not too much trouble, could you mention her? She's so terrific." Her name is Beth Da Costa. What about the title of the band? "It's a theory that basically the smallest thing can make the biggest difference," Zeppa said. "The flutter of a butterfly can affect something as catastrophic as a tsunami on the other side of the world. We like the significant meaning of it all." As we spoke, the sounds of a heavy metal band could be heard from the studio. "This is surreal," Taccogna said. She meant my presence, not the heavy metal band. "In elementary school we would be, like, pretending to interview each other. Now we're being interviewed by the Toronto Star. It's amazing." Finally, their turn came. The man in charge of the recording was Dave Beatty, 53. Beatty started his musical career in the '60s, playing guitar with Daniel Lanois. Among other things, he managed Long John Baldry and worked as security supervisor for rock show promoter CPI — "I had a front row seat for anything in the '80s," he said — and he still likes to play and write music. Nearly four decades in the business of rock have added a few pounds to his frame but done absolutely no harm to his grey hair — he has a mane that reaches to his shoulder blades. "Just making sure that they have a good experience," is how he described his job with Chaos Theory. When the band was ready to play, a cameraman with a director's clapboard stood up. The audition was broadcast live on woofur.com. "Name your band and name your tune," said Mike Wixson, an executive producer with JJS Media. The cameraman snapped the top of the clapboard and Vanessa stepped forward to the microphone. "We're Chaos Theory, and this is `I Know You Know' by Taking Back Sunday (that was their cover tune; the second song, the one they had written, was entitled `Teardrops for Lovers')."
They started to play; hard-edged music reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Colucci and Zeppa had that nice, aching, defiant riot grrrltone in their voices, and Taccogna, behind the set of drums, screamed unintelligible lyrics with the passion of a possessed person fighting off the attentions of an exorcist. The music was three- or four-chord stuff, simple music suitable to guitar players still new to their instruments. "That was a lot of fun," Beatty said after the audition. "How did we do?" Taccogna asked. "You guys were great," Beatty replied. "You got a very neat sound." The girls persisted. "How can we improve?" one of them asked. "We want honesty, please." Beatty was honest. "Your timing," he said. "You got to stay in a groove." There were few older musicians in the recording studio who could watch this band perform without memory stirring of their own early beginnings. "This is me 20 years ago," Mike Wixson said. Now 36, he had sung and played a guitar in a high school band called Troubled Sleep. "Oh my God," he said, after telling me the name of the band. "I haven't said that name in a lot of years." He shook his head ruefully. "Battle of the bands. It meant everything." He looked around at the studio with all of its amplifiers and sound boards and microphones. "The only thing missing was this."
JAZZFM91 Moves To Smaller, Better King W. Space
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter
(May 9, 2006) Toronto's only 24-hour jazz radio station is downsizing and expanding at the same time. After broadcasting from Ryerson University for more than 50 years in various configurations, JAZZFM91 moved to storefront digs in the King and Dufferin Sts. area early last month. The refurbished 9,450-square-foot space is just over half the size of its former home on Mutual St. But that's more than enough space for its 21 full-time employees. And when the $750,000 renovations are complete in August, the station will actually offer its 320,000 listeners (10,000 of whom have paid $60 to $1,000 to be members) a lot more bang for their buck, said president and CEO Ross Porter. This includes:
· A 30-seat venue where listeners can watch live performances.
· The opportunity, for $1,000, to have an engraved brass plate affixed to a brick on the station's interior walls.
· Fewer technical problems and a tighter sound courtesy of an upgraded broadcast platform.
· A 15-seat screening room to show educational films and recorded concerts, and hold workshops.
"Right now it's a shell of its future self," said Porter, ducking dangling wires as he gave a tour. But what a shell it is, thanks to the discerning previous dwellers, film folks, who left behind a modern open-concept layout replete with stainless steel trim, 28-foot ceilings and beech-coloured fittings. With shades of its red and black logo painted here and there, JAZZFM91 is right at home on Pardee Ave. in the artsy Liberty Village neighbourhood. "I knew we wanted to stay downtown," said Porter, who estimates this find was culled from about 70 properties. "I didn't think a jazz station should come from a strip mall somewhere outside the city. It's an urban music." Though they can't see the paper sign taped to the front door, or hear the incessant drilling, regular listeners are well aware of the settling-in glitches which included echoes and bouts of dead air during that first week of April. "I was stressed out there for awhile," said Ralph Benmergui, whose morning show is the station's most popular program. He and the other hosts, who include guitarist Jeff Healey and vocalist Heather Bambrick, have been broadcasting out of a boardroom while the main studios are being built. But minor hiccups didn't stop the station from surpassing the goal of its $250,000 spring on-air fundraising campaign by $9,000 during the second hour of Benmergui's slot yesterday; nor selling out its second annual Jazz Lives, a fundraising concert taking place at Convocation Hall on Thursday that features a slew of jazz and blues artists, including Rob McConnell, Sophie Milman and Jackie Richardson.
Having found his footing, Benmergui lauds the transition as "a new beginning" for the station that firmly establishes its identity separate from Ryerson. "It's a psychological move away from a place identified with the station forever," he said. "And I think it's going to have an impact more and more as we get into our own skin." The station, which began in 1949 as CJRT-FM, Ryerson's university radio station, went through a series of names and formats before becoming JAZZFM91 in 2001. With a $2.8-million budget, it operates on a break-even basis, with no deficit and no government support. Revenues are made up of advertising (the CRTC allows the station to broadcast four minutes of advertising each hour, compared with up to 14 minutes per hour for commercial stations), individual donations, and money raised from businesses, foundations and special events. The station is planning a big open house for the end of the summer, but Don Snelson, one of JAZZFM91's "several hundred" volunteers, is already smitten. "It's a lot easier to find parking around here," he said, "and it's free on weekends."
Time For Some 'Baby Makin' Music'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By DeBorah B. Pryor
(May 9, 2006) There’s nothing more effective than a close call in your life to make you say “Screw the dumb s—t!” and put things in proper perspective. Just ask R&B legend Ronald Isley, star attraction for The Isley Brothers, whose illustrious five-decade career has net he and brother Ernie Isley a massive music catalogue of hits, legions of loyal music fans, numerous awards, and an iron clad notch on the belt buckle of music history. On the phone from his home in St. Louis, Missouri, where he admittedly goes to get away from the strains of show business at least six months out of the year, Isley’s demeanour is quiet, reflective and appreciative. He has had quite a run over the past two years: recovering from a stroke that occurred during a trip to the UK in 2004 and a highly publicized legal issue with the IRS; amidst accusations that claims he cashed checks that were not rightfully his and failed to report five years worth of income—to all of which he has plead not guilty. But it was his extravagant Beverly Hills 2005 wedding; where he married beautiful singer Kandy Johnson, a woman 35 years his junior that had tongues a-waggin’. The couple first met eight years prior, when the bride, together with her sister Kimberly, began performing backup with The Isley’s as members of the singing duo, JS, (The Johnson Sisters). The union, which occurred eight and one half months ago, seems to have put Ron Isley’s state of mind in a place more befitting the legend that has spent the past five decades of his life aiming to make people feel good. Of the age difference he claims “no comment,” when asked by EUR; but in a 2005 interview the new Mrs. Isley shared these glowing words about her new husband with Jet Magazine following the wedding ceremony: “Age is nothing but a number. The most important thing is love. He’s a charming, loving, romantic, supportive man. He’s every woman’s dream. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him that he wouldn’t do for me.”
With the loss of so many of our great African American legends over the past few years, Ron Isley, who has already lost one brother to a sudden heart attack and has another brother struggling with diabetes, feels fortunate to be a survivor. “I’m blessed to have come through a stroke...It happened to me because of high blood pressure...I had a bad cold and I was out of town. Someone got me to a doctor right away. That’s why the stroke was mild. I had to sit back for about a year and I couldn’t do anything…I went through six or seven months of therapy...I couldn’t walk at first. It affected my speech, my right arm, I couldn’t lift my arms… From what I heard about it and to experience it and to be back 100% is a blessing,” says the singer, who admits he had previously ignored warning signs and advice given to him by his doctors. “I was afraid of needles… [Reasoning] I’m not going to take all those shots, I’ll be alright. It sounds stupid but that’s what I was thinking...I went to see a doctor…He said, ‘your pressure is up kind of high. You should come and see me on another day’ and I didn’t go back to see him... If a doctor tells you to take something and you don’t pay attention and try to do some kind of home remedy…that’s something you shouldn’t do.” Now, Ron Isley is settling into a new marriage and aiming to reclaim his musical livelihood with “Baby Makin’ Music” the latest offering from The Isley Brothers featuring Ron Isley and their debut on new label Def Soul Classics. The CD has several highlights by guitar virtuoso Ernie Isley and drops today, Tuesday, May 9. Needless to say, considering what Isley Bros. fans have become accustomed to, the title should come as no surprise. “That’s what we’ve been known for,” confirms Isley, “so that’s what the album is all about. It’s our sound with an updated twist. We’re always looking at new ways of interpreting love songs. On this album I was introduced to some producers and writers who wrote material especially for me. “I’d never worked with producer Jermaine Dupri before and I was anxious to do that. He did three songs, the first one he played me I liked right away and that was ‘Gotta Be With You’ which tells the story of a guy who’s been in the game for a while. Then he also did ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Forever Mackin,’ which is perfect for “Mr. Biggs!” Heavy weight producer L. A. Reid is yet another collaborator on the project. “L. A. Reid is a genius. He has a way of setting things up, ‘this will come out first…this second…and this third. Right away, I knew he was doing the right thing.”
Other producers on the album include Troy Taylor (Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Yolanda Adams) and Gordon Chambers (Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin and Brandy) who also wrote the CDs first single, “Just came here to Chill,” which currently sits at No. 33 on the Billboard Music Charts for week the ending May 13. The accompanying video, which came out in April, garnered favourable reviews from critics and fans alike. The storyline shows Ron Isley returning as “Mr. Biggs,” who throws a low-key party where an uninvited guest (a jewel thief) shows up. But Mr. Biggs, of course, is one step ahead and the thief plays right into his hands. With the creation of musical alter ego, “Mr. Biggs”, Ron Isley has extended his creative life span and speaks about how the inspiration for the name came about: “It happened with that song, “Down Low.” We [R. Kelly and I] were sitting around talking about the video and he said, ‘Well that’s what they respect you for, being Mr. Big’…I didn’t know it would wind up being what it is but I’m very satisfied… I felt it right away. It turned out to be the right thing for me...It’s a nickname such as ‘Queen of Soul’ is for Aretha Franklin...It’s a way of saying, ‘You the man!’ because of the time I’ve spent in the business.” Kelly, another producer on the new record, first collaborated with the Ron Isley in 1996 when he approached him about appearing on his then-third, self-titled album, “R. Kelly.” Together, they manifested the Top 10 pop and R&B #1 hit “Down Low” (Nobody Has To Know) and the two have seemed joined at the hip musically ever since. “Blast Off,” the new duet between “Mr. Biggs” and R. Kelly, was completed just weeks before the album’s release. Unlike any other family name, the Isley’s have appeared on the charts for each of the last five decades. The musical skill, artful flexibility and eagerness of The Isley’s to align themselves in collaboration with young hit-making artists shows no signs of them slowing down. When asked if he has any plans to retire, Isley, who will turn 64 in late May replies emphatically, “No, no, no! I’ve never even thought about it…I’d like to thank the fans for being with us so long. For going through all the things they have had to go through with us.” “Baby Makin’ Music” on the Def Soul Classics label, releases today, May 9.
Urban Mystic: Up-And-Comer Reveals Latest 'Revelations'
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com – By Kenya Yarbrough
(May 10, 2006) *Soul has mystically returned to urban music, and this is quite appropriately thanks to the up-and-comer Urban Mystic. Urban,whose real name is Brandon Williams, like a number of soulful singers, comes from the background of bible belting, in other words belting out a joyful noise in church. The son of a minister, Urban got the urge to sing in the choir loft and has welcomed his very gospel-esque sound to urban radio. His sophomore album, “Ghetto Revelations: II” is actually his debut into the limelight. This disc is quite aggressively making Urban a household name, bringing back producer KayGee and bringing on board help from the likes of rappers Paul Wall and Trick Daddy to show-off on the disc, available in stores now. “’Ghetto Revelations: II’ is a continuation of ‘Ghetto Revelations I,’” Urban said of the new disc. “Basically, my first album had a lot of old school, soulful vibes on it. It had one rap song on that album. I felt like with the first album, people didn’t really get to know me and didn’t get to see what it is that I do. With this album, I just wanted to pick back up where I left off. I wanted to come back and capitalize on more of the hip-hop, more of the young age music. I’ll let the fans decide if there will be a III or a IV. I’ve lived in the ghetto, I grew up in the ghetto and I have a revelation that needs to be fulfilled. If it takes two or three more albums to fulfill that, so be it.”
Urban’s voice has been noted as “raspy, soulful, Southern-style.” It has the earmarks of gospel greats, so his gospel upbringing and gospel aspirations aren’t really a surprise. He said of plans to make a gospel album in the future: “That’s going to be in the making. Once I get through with telling my revelation, a gospel album will definitely be in the making.” Currently, of course, Urban is not a gospel singer, per se, although his moniker alludes to his background. “I actually got the name Urban Mystic from the CEO of my record label, Cecil Barker [of SoBe Entertainment]. The name [describes] me as a person: Urban represents my urban life, my urban style of living; and Mystic has a spiritual meaning behind it, my spiritual background – I was raised in the church and I currently still singing in the church. I felt this was me for real. I went along with the name Urban Mystic because I felt it was just the right thing at the right time,” he said. Urban further explained that he was formerly known as Top Dollar, but the label exec felt that the name Urban Mystic had a more universal appeal. “With the type of music that I’m doing, Top Dollar just didn’t stick and didn’t coincide with the music I was doing, as far as R&B and hip-hop. If I was doing just hip-hop, it would work.” Urban’s music spans the spectrum of urban music with its gospel undertones, weaved between R&B melodies and hip-hop backbeats. The first single, “It’s You” does just that, pairing producer KayGee. The tune caught the attention of “The People’s Champ,” Paul Wall.
“‘It’s You’ is basically talking about a woman in you life that you’re doing all these things for,” Urban described. “That woman could be your wife, that woman could be your daughter; it could even be your mother. You’re just letting her know it’s you that you’ll go out on a limb for. As far as bringing in Paul Wall,” he continued, “One of my reps out of Texas is good friends with Paul Wall. He let Paul Wall listen to some of my tracks and when Paul Wall heard the ‘It’s You’ track he said, ‘This track could use some hip-hop.’ And I said, ‘Why don’t we get a verse from you on that.’ So Paul Wall came through and blessed the track for us.” Another cut, “Let’s Make A Change,” expresses Urban’s conscious level and further exhibits his gospel-hip hop melding talents. The track talks about the contributions of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, but it also incorporates the lyrical stylings of Trick Daddy. “I went and got one of the artists from the neighbourhood I’m from – Trick Daddy. He blessed the track for me. This is a song we made for the world for someone to listen to or when you’re down and you need something to uplift your spirit. It’s talking about what our ancestors like Rosa Parks and Dr. King wanted to do back then, but we’re doing it in the modern-day style. We’re just trying to let everybody know, especially what’s going on in today’s society, that we can make a change.” Urban Mystic is clearly working to make a change in urban music. The singer, who performs his rap-sing flair with an eight-piece band, says he is ready to “show fans all sides of me” and urges music fans to keep their ears open. “Ghetto Revelations: II” is in stores now. For more on Urban Mystic, check out his website at www.urbanmysticmusic.com.
Living A Dream: Singing A Hymn For The Pope
Excerpt From The Globe And Mail - Rhéal Séguin
(May 9, 2006) QUEBEC -- Singing for the Pope at a private audience at the Vatican is an achievement few nine-year-old boys would even consider, never mind one born deaf. But tomorrow, Jérémy Gabriel of Quebec City will stand before Pope Benedict XVI and sing in his soft, high-pitched voice his rendition of "Je Louerai L'Éternel" (I Will Praise the Everlasting). "At first I was nervous about coming here," Jérémy said in a telephone interview yesterday from Rome. "But now I feel like I'm in paradise. It almost feels normal." Jérémy has Treacher-Collins Syndrome, a rare birth defect characterized by facial anomalies such as downward slanting eyes, a small lower jaw, underdeveloped or missing cheekbones and malformed or missing ears. These anomalies can cause hearing, breathing and eating problems. He has had more than 15 rounds of surgery to rebuild his face, and more are planned. He uses a special hearing aid that transmits sound vibrations through his skull bones. Despite his handicaps, Jérémy loves to sing and to participate in plays at École oraliste de Québec, his school for the deaf. Last fall he recorded an album of Christmas songs, and in October he was invited to sing the national anthem before a sell-out crowd of more than 20,000 fans at a Montreal Canadiens hockey game. The performance was followed by a flurry of publicity that included an invitation to sing with Céline Dion at one of her concerts in Las Vegas.
Yet for Jérémy, the appearances at these prestigious events still fell short of his goal of singing a hymn for the Pope, an ambition he said he has nurtured since watching the funeral of Pope John Paul II on TV last year. Jérémy's wish impressed Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec and primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, who brought it to the attention of Pope Benedict XVI. "The Holy Father was moved by the young boy's story. After a moment of silence he said, 'Let's do it.' He decided in 30 seconds. It was quite touching," Cardinal Ouellet said recently in explaining the Pope's decision to honour Jérémy's request. Jérémy will sing at noon tomorrow before a blessing ceremony for an ark of the new covenant built by Canadian Catholic Youth. Jérémy said he sees the Pope as a father figure, someone he can simply walk up to, sit on his lap and begin singing. "That's what I would like to do," the young boy said. "But I don't know if he'll let me." Jérémy's mother Sylvie Gabriel, 31, said the meeting will be a defining moment in her son's constant struggle to achieve a normal life. "You know it's easier to achieve big dreams than it is to achieve small ones," Ms. Gabriel said yesterday. "Jérémy's story proves that no one should sell themselves short and shouldn't be afraid to strive for bigger dreams." Ms. Gabriel said her husband Steve Lavoie and their two daughters Alycia, 2, and Gaelle, 6, feel blessed that so many people have supported Jérémy in achieving his dream. "To see all of Quebec loving my son the way they have and to see how extraordinary he is, is truly the most beautiful gift for any mother," Ms. Gabriel said. The ark to be blessed by the Pope is a chest covered with iconic images related to the Eucharist. Over the next two years, it will be sent to dioceses across the country as part of the evangelization movement leading up to the Eucharistic Congress to be held in Quebec City in June, 2008. The Pope is expected to attend part of the week-long congress, where 20,000 people will gather. Quebec's bishops are in the Vatican this week for their ad limina visits, the visits they are required to make every five years to report on their ministries.
CRTC To Hold Public Hearings Starting May 15
The public hearings for the CRTC's review of Canada's commercial radio policy will take place in Gatineau, Quebec starting on Monday, May 15. The hearings provide the music and radio industries with the opportunity to provide their input to the Commission as to what should be done to improve and update Canada's commercial radio policy, particularly as it relates to ownership issues, Canadian Content, Canadian Talent Development funding and the impact of new technologies on terrestrial radio. You can listen to the proceedings online at a live audio link on the CRTC's website available during the entire hearing at www.crtc.gc.ca (starting Monday, May 15 at 9:00 am).
Conservatory To Honour Tragically Hip
Source: Canadian Press
(May 9, 2006) They've always been hip, but soon they'll be royal. The Tragically Hip will be honoured by The Royal Conservatory of Music at a so-called Royal Occasion gala on May 24. The band's members will be presented with an honorary fellowship at the event, held annually by Canada's largest and oldest independent arts school. "Each year, the conservatory honours Canadian artists who have made a lasting contribution to the arts," Peter Simon, president of The Royal Conservatory of Music, said Tuesday in a release. "We're proud to recognize the achievements of The Tragically Hip, a quintessentially Canadian band whose music resonates with millions of fans." The Tragically Hip, formed in 1986 by five friends from Kingston, Ont., will perform for the guests following the presentation. In the 10 years since it began, the Royal Occasion has honoured some of Canada's greatest artists, including soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, Vancouver Symphony music director Bramwell Tovey, Broadway singer and stage actor Louise Pitre, pop group Barenaked Ladies, singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn, tenor Richard Margison, producer/songwriter David Foster and jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Proceeds from the event will support the conservatory's Community School, the Young Artists Performance Academy, The Glenn Gould School and Learning Through the Arts, a public school program. The conservatory hopes to open a new state-of-the-art centre for performance and learning next year. The $92-million project will feature a 1,140-seat concert hall, new studios and classrooms, a new-media centre, library and rehearsal hall. The Hip, who've garnered 11 Junos and an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, are currently recording a new studio album.
Wolf’s Ambition Paying Off
Source: Metro News
(May 5, 2006) First, Karl Wolf pens a teensy rap segment for a track called Bootyful on which back-up singer Rapchick delivers a shoutout to mega-star actress/ singer Jennifer Lopez. Then, the Montréal based singer and producer gets asked by J.Lo’s management to be an opening act for her concert appearance later this month in Dubai. “You know what’s funny?” Wolf says with a laugh. “It’s part of every show I do — me opening up with Bootyful. Now it just so happens that the J.Lo concert is one of my upcoming shows. So in that sense, it’s quite ironic.” The only non-ironic aspect about this May 25 J.Lo show is the fact the Lebanon-born Wolf spent his formative years in the United Arab Emirates city. It marks a sort of homecoming for the 26-year-old — not to mention a perfect plug for his months-old solo CD Face Behind The Face (where Bootyful appears), which has just been released in the UAE. And although he’s a newcomer as a solo artist, Wolf is actually something of a veteran in the Canadian music scene since he moved to Montreal from Dubai 10 years ago. “All I knew then was that I wanted to make beautiful music, and I wanted to share my lyrics and my voice with everybody,” Wolf says. “And whatever I had to do to get to where I was going, I just had to go through all the steps. People who I’d often mention or who I was interested in just in passing, somehow I end up taking certain steps forward, and I end up meeting these people.” His ambition led him to become a singer for Quebec rap group Dubmatique, trip-hop outfit Ten Zen and eventually lead singer for pop band Sky. Wolf has also written for and produced artists such as Gabrielle Destroismaisons and Mitsou. And along with Sky’s other half, Antoine Sciotte, Wolf wrote material for Quebec’s popular starsearch series, Star Académie.
Montreal Jazz Fest Announces Slate
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - J.D. Considine
(May 5, 2006) The indoor concert schedule for the 27th Montreal International Jazz Festival -- which runs from June 29 to July 9 -- includes not only some of the biggest names in jazz, but also outstanding stars from the worlds of rock, blues and world music. Among the most recognizable are Paul Simon (July 5), B. B. King (June 28), Tony Bennett (June 30). Dave Brubeck (July 8), Emmylou Harris with Daniel Lanois (July 6), and Elvis Costello with Allen Toussaint (July 3). and Bonnie Raitt with Keb' Mo' (July 7), all at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. But there are also plenty of gems for the cognoscenti among the 150 shows, including guitarist Salif Keita (July 5) and Martha Wainwright (July 2). This year's jazz shows, in addition to Brubeck, include McCoy Tyner (July 2, with septet), Brad Mehldau (June 28, with trio) and Gonzalo Rubalcaba (July 5, solo, trio and quartet). Among the saxophone-lead combos, look for the Wayne Shorter Quartet (July 1), the Ravi Coltrane Quartet (June 29), Chris Potter's Underground (June 30), the Joe Lovano Quartet (July 5) and the Pharoah Sanders Quartet (June 30).
Whoopi Goldberg To Host Radio Show
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 10, 2006) *In the summer, Clear Channel Radio will introduce a live, syndicated radio show hosted by Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg. “Wake Up With Whoopi,” to air weekday mornings from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., will debut on July 31 in markets yet to be announced. She’ll take calls from listeners, produce comedy bits and play music as part of her morning drive timeslot. "I'm going to talk to people. People are going to talk to me. I'm going to be singing and dancing in my chair. I'm going to wake people up," Goldberg told The Associated Press. "I want to have a good time in the morning and I want everyone who wakes up with me to have a good time." Goldberg, most recently seen as a foster mother gone bad on NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” also hopes to add several of her own favourite songs to the daily playlist. "I've got all kinds of great wonderful things on my iPod," she said. "Everything from Shaggy to Pavarotti to Tony Bennett to Warren Zevon." While Whoopi has been the host of her own television talk show, she’s a virgin on radio airwaves and can’t wait to dive into the new experience. "It's something I always wanted to do. I just really didn't have the opportunity before this presented itself," she said. "It came along just at the right time, and I think it will be a great deal of fun."
Aaron Neville Signs With Burgundy
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(May 2, 2006) Veteran vocalist Aaron Neville has inked a new deal with Sony BMG's Burgundy Records imprint. The artist, who most recently recorded for Verve and EMI Gospel, is in a Los Angeles recording his Burgundy debut with producer Stewart Levine (B.B. King, Jamie Cullum). The as-yet-untitled set will find Neville interpreting 15 soul tunes, including Otis Redding's "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" and Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me." Neville will be paired on some selections with special guests to be announced. The artist's two most recent studio projects have found him dabbling in standards and holiday music. His 2003 Verve effort "Nature Boy: The Standards Album," debuted in 2003 at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart. Last fall, the EMI Gospel album "Christmas Prayer" reached No. 3 on the Top Gospel Albums tally. Neville will be on the road throughout the summer with the Neville Brothers, including a June 17 stop at Tennessee's Bonnaroo Festival and appearances at jazz festivals in Indianapolis, Montreal and Istanbul. A headlining tour will get underway in December.
Sarangi's Human Song
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Tony Montague
May 5, 2006) What instrument comes closest to the human voice? In the West, most people would say the cello, the violin or the guitar. In India, traditionalists maintain it's the sarangi, a stringed instrument with a squat body and a soundboard of goat skin, played with a bow. Sarangi is believed to mean "a hundred colours," reflecting its stylistic adaptability and huge emotional palette. But there is a good reason why this extraordinary instrument is rarely heard. "The challenge is to be able to play it in tune," says Sultan Khan, a sarangi master. "This is not easy, because apart from the three main strings made of gut, there are 36 sympathetic strings made of metal. This gives the sarangi a built-in resonance chamber, and the sympathetic strings can be heard clearly. It becomes very obvious if the musician is out of tune." Khan, originally from Rajasthan and now living in Mumbai, is a ninth-generation sarangi player who began learning the instrument at the age of 3. He comes to Vancouver with tabla legend Zakir Hussain's Masters of Percussion. The program features several virtuosic Indian artists, including dancing-drummers from Manipur. Khan remained primarily an instrumentalist until a few years ago. Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali asked him to sing for one of his Bollywood movies. Soon after, Khan hit major commercial success with the resulting album, Piya Basanti. "Since sarangi is the instrument used to accompany vocal music, many players have also become singers. In the concert, I will also be doing a vocal piece based on either a bhajan [Hindu devotional song] or a folk melody." In one sense, Khan is returning to the roots of the sarangi -- the mythical ones, anyway. "It traces its origin to Ravana, a great worshipper of Lord Shiva. He is said to have made the instrument with strings from his own veins in order to sing hymns in praise of Lord Shiva." Zakir Hussain and Masters of Percussion perform today at 7:30 p.m. at the Chan Centre, 6265 Crescent Rd., 604-280-3311.
Dead Prez Documentary Honoured
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 5, 2006) *"Dead Prez: It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop," the new feature-length concert film from rap group dead prez, was honoured with the "Revolutionary Spirit" Award at this year's Atlanta HipHop Film Festival (AHHFF) Awards event held Sunday at the Carter Center in Atlanta. The award, which recognizes a film or artist for using hip hop to promote social change, was presented following the premiere of the movie, a Starz InBlack Original Production due to premiere on the network Friday, June 9 at 10 p.m. As previously reported, the film brings attention to the inadequacies of the public education system, minority entrepreneurship, and social revolution. "So many of our biggest stars seem to care more about materialism than about the needs of our community," said Kamel Jacot-Bell, owner of the Bay Area-based Ankh Marketing who accepted the award on the group’s behalf. "dead prez' music is a refreshing alternative to what's on the airwaves today in hip hop. They have more important items on their agenda. They believe that 'music is a vehicle for freedom.' It is their mission, they have said, to provide 'a voice for the voiceless.' In fact, their agenda perfectly reflects the name of their film: 'Dead Prez: It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop.'" Now in its second year, the Atlanta HipHop Film Festival showcased 35 independent films over three days. The festival also featured informative panels and workshops for established and aspiring members of the recording arts and film industries. Other AHHFF honourees this year included Lauryn Hill, LL Cool J, Ice-T, and F. Gary Gray.
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 5, 2006) *Legendary singer/songwriter Teddy Pendergrass will be honoured by the Urban League of Philadelphia at its 4th Annual Song of Equality Gala for using music to heal social ills, promote unity and economically empower individuals within the African-American community. The event will take place Saturday, June 17 at 8:30 p.m. at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (260 South Broad Street). Oscar and Grammy Award-winner Peabo Bryson will perform. Concert tickets are $36 each and will go on sale at the Kimmel Center's Box Office (215.893.1999 or http://www.kimmelcenter.org) on May 15.
Rapper T.I. To Resume Tour Despite Recent Shooting
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(May 6, 2006) Cincinnati, Ohio -- Atlanta rapper T.I. plans to resume his U.S. tour in New Orleans on Tuesday, a week after the fatal shooting of his personal assistant and the wounding of three others in the rapper's entourage. The rapper, whose real name is Clifford Harris, stars in the current film ATL. Police in Cincinnati said they had no new leads in the gun battle that began early Wednesday at an after-hours club during a party for T.I. and fellow rapper Yung Joc. T.I. and his group left the party but were pursued by two sport-utility vehicles, police said. T.I. wasn't injured in the exchange of shots from the vehicles as they drove toward downtown Cincinnati on Interstate 75, police said. Philant Johnson, 26, was pronounced dead at a hospital. A Minnesota woman was hospitalized, and a driver and bodyguard were treated and released. AP
Rap Mogul Recounts Demise Of Death Row
Source: Linda Deutsch, Associated Press
(May 7, 2006) LOS ANGELES - Rap music mogul Suge Knight testified Friday that his Death Row Records struggled after he was jailed several times and hit with a $107-million (U.S.) judgment in a case by a couple claiming they helped start the label. Knight answered questions about his business at a federal bankruptcy hearing intended to give his creditors a chance to ask about his assets and his debts of more than $100 million. Testifying in a near mumble, Knight told a bankruptcy trustee that his incarceration handicapped the label that had topped the charts in the 1990s with artists such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. Asked how he knew the company was struggling while he was behind bars, Knight answered, "The magazines told me that and the records," referring to releases by the label. Knight didn't answer a number of questions and repeatedly conferred with an accountant. He said he had never seen a profit and loss statement but had reviewed income tax returns. Knight said he decided to close the doors of Death Row after the judgment was issued against him and he lost a lease. Knight has a history of legal problems. He was convicted of assault in 1992 and placed on probation, then jailed for five years in 1996 for violating that probation. He was returned to jail in 2003 for again violating parole, this time by punching a parking attendant at a Hollywood nightclub. He was released the next year. Knight's decision to file for bankruptcy protection on April 4 staved off a move by the court to appoint someone to take control of the record label and his assets. He also avoided a criminal contempt citation for failing to show up at state court hearings. The federal filing halted the state court action in which former couple Lydia and Michael Harris are trying to collect a $107 million judgment from Knight. They claim they helped found Death Row. Michael Harris, an imprisoned drug dealer serving a 28-year sentence at San Quentin Prison, is claiming half of the $107 million as community property in his divorce from Lydia Harris.
Fantasia Ready For Her Closeup
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 8, 2006) *“American Idol” champ Fantasia Barrino may have lost out to Jennifer Hudson on the plum “Dreamgirls” gig, but how many of the stars on that Hollywood set have had their own biopic? Lifetime Television begins production in New Orleans this month on “Life Is Not A Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story,” with Fantasia starring in her own story of being a teenage single mother who overcame poverty, sexual abuse and illiteracy by using her singing talents to rise to national prominence as the winner of “American Idol.” The film, based on her autobiography of the same name released last year, will be directed by famed choreographer and actress Debbie Allen. Veteran actress Loretta Devine has been cast as Fantasia's grandmother, Addie Collins; Tony Award winner Viola Davis will play Fantasia's mother, Diane Barrino; Kadeem Hardison will star as Fantasia's father, JoJo Barrino and newcomer Jamia Simone Nash ("My Wife and Kids") will play the young Fantasia. "Fantasia made America fall in love with her through her astounding voice, but few people knew the obstacles she overcame to get where she is now," said Trevor Walton, Senior Vice President, Lifetime Original Movies. "She openly shares her inspirational story, and audiences will see that she is not only a phenomenal singer, but also an impressive actress." The film will premiere on Lifetime in August.
Rogers Eyes Satellite Radio Market
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Catherine Mclean, Telecom Reporter
(May 9, 2006) In a bid to attract more digital television subscribers, Rogers Communications Inc. has filed an application to change its cable licences to add satellite radio services. Rogers wants to offer satellite radio on its digital TV service in Ontario, New Brunswick, Labrador and Newfoundland, according to its application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The request was filed in February, but made public yesterday when the CRTC called for comments. The application came shortly after the launch of satellite radio services by XM Canada and Sirius Canada late last year. So far, Rogers has only held preliminary negotiations about pricing and packaging with the satellite radio firms, the Toronto-based company said in a letter dated April 18 to the CRTC. "Rogers also considered that the addition of one or both of these services to its digital offering would act as an important catalyst to encourage its customers to migrate from an analog to a digital distribution environment," Rogers said in its application. XM is a service that can travel across platforms and we are negotiating on multiple platforms to expand our brand awareness and enhance our revenue streams," XM Canada chairman and chief executive officer John Bitove said in a statement. "We don't comment on specific discussions or negotiations, but we believe that the more places Canadians can listen to or sample XM the better." John Lewis, vice-president of operations at Sirius Canada, declined to comment if the company is in talks with Rogers. "There have been discussions with a number of players," he said. "Getting on a variety of platforms to get ourselves in front of Canadians, would be of interest for sure," Mr. Lewis added. Digital TV is a key product for Rogers, the country's biggest cable company. Rogers chief executive officer Ted Rogers has said he sees it as a way to defend the customer base, preventing more cable subscribers from moving to satellite TV. Cable companies have offered new services like video-on-demand and high-definition to make digital TV a more attractive option. Rogers believes satellite-TV radio would also act as a "catalyst" for digital TV subscriptions.
Downloading Dispute Intensifies In Ottawa
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Guy Dixon
(May 9, 2006) Toronto -- The lobbying campaign for new copyright legislation continues to heat up in Ottawa, with the recently created Canadian Music Creators Coalition announcing that it met yesterday with both Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda and Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, along with rounds of meetings with opposition heritage critics. The musicians' coalition opposes attempts to tighten digital locks preventing home copying or efforts to sue people who share music for non-commercial purposes. Meanwhile, the Canadian Recording Industry Association, representing the major labels, has said that it is in talks with Ottawa, as it pushes for tighter controls.
Jr. Gong Dominates World Music Awards
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 9, 2006) *Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley's hit single "Welcome to Jamrock" and the Ghetto Youth/Tuff Gong/Universal album of the same name won top honours at the 25th Annual International Reggae & World Music Awards, held Saturday at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Damian, the youngest son of Bob Marley, earned awards for music video and recording artist of the year, as well as entertainer of the year. He and his older brother Stephen shared the songwriter of the year award for co-writing "Welcome to Jamrock," which featured lyrics about the violent side of Jamaica. Other winners included Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu for best new entertainer, Marcia Griffiths for best female vocalist, Jah Cure for best male vocalist, Daddy Yankee for best reggaeton entertainer and Gyptian for most promising entertainer. Rocksteady star Alton Ellis and reggae vet Eddy Grant were given hall of fame honours, while Africa Unite, the concert held in Ethiopia last year marking what would have been Bob Marley's 60th birthday, was named best concert. Rapper Nas, who guests on Damian’s album, joined the singer onstage during his performance of "Road to Zion" and "Welcome to Jamrock." Marley later welcomed all of the artists back onstage for a finale of "One Love."
May 8, 2006
Aggrolites, The Aggrolites, Hellcat
Bobby Powell, Louisiana Soul, Aim Trading Group
Cam'ron, Killa Season, Atlantic / Wea
Dennis Brown, Super Reggae and Soul Hits, Trojan
Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere, Downtown
Jagged Edge, Jagged Edge, Sony Urban Music/Columbia
Juelz Santana, Clockwork, Def Jam
Keith Sweat, Welcome to the Sweat Hotel, Sanctuary Urban
Labtekwon, The Ghetto Dai Lai Lama, Vol. 777, Morphius
MC Magic, Magic City, Thump
PAUL SIMON Surprise (Warner) , ,
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS Stadium Arcadium (Warner) , ,
Teena Marie, Sapphire, Cash Money
The Isley Brothers, Baby Makin' Music, Def Soul Classics/Def Jam
Various Artists, #1 Hits: Best of 80s Lite FM, Madacy Special MKTS
Various Artists, 70s Love Train, St. Clair
Various Artists, Eccentric Soul: The Big Mack Label, Nu Tech Non Music
Various Artists, Great Labels of Doo Wop: Atlas, Collectables
Various Artists, Hip Hop Classics [Madacy], Madacy
May 15, 2006
8 Ball, Montana Trax: The Boy Somethin Great, 8 Ways
Beenie Man, Hmm Hmm, Virgin
Brooke Valentine, D Girl, Virgin
Bubba Sparxxx, Heat It Up, Virgin
Busta Rhymes, The Big Bang, Aftermath
Cam'ron, Killa Season, Asylum/Diplomat
Cam'ron, Killa Season [Clean], Asylum/Diplomat
Carolyn Franklin, Sister Soul: The Best of the RCA Years 1969-1976, Kent
Christina Milian, So Amazin', Def Jam
Cognito, Knucklehead Theatre, Thizz
DJ Format, Fabriclive.27, Fabric
Freddie McGregor, Bobby Bobylon, Heartbeat
Goapele, Love Me Right [Single], Sony
Kool Keith, Collabs Tape, Corner Shop
Lee "Scratch" Perry, Unlimite Alien [DVD], Music Video Distributors
Lil Bobb'e Bling, I'll Always Love My Momma,
Lil' Flip, Court Session, Vol. 2, BCD Music Group
Lou Rawls, Black and Blue/Tobacco Road, Angel
Michelle Bonilla, Phenomenal, Cross Movement
Silky Slim, Keep It Gutta, Formaldehyde
Street Flavor, The Mixtape, Vol. 1, 40 West
Trina G, Silent Thoughts, Evejim
Various Artists, Absolute Funk, Vol. 2, Body & Soul (Hep400)
Various Artists, Get Higher: A Funky Tribute to Sly & the Family Stone, Calvin
Various Artists, Chalklines: Double Homicide, Distribution Center
Various Artists, Dirty South: Tha Beginning, Warlock
Various Artists, Dub Hop Tribute to Notorious B.I.G., Re
Various Artists, Hyphy: Exposed, Fall Thru
Various Artists, Inked Impressions, Vol. 1,
Various Artists, Lowrider Music, Thump
Various Artists, Smooth Sax Tribute to Outkast, Tribute Sounds
Various Artists, Thizz/Million Dollar Dream, Vol. 1: Green Eyes Dose, Million Dollar
Various Artists, Global [VP/Universal], VP / Universal
Young Dro, Shoulder Lean, Atlantic / Wea
THE EUR INTERVIEW: Ving Rhames - Mission: Impossible III
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 4, 2006) *The third instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise starring Tom Cruise opens in theatres tomorrow. A key character in the movies has been veteran actor Ving Rhames. Here he speaks with Kam Williams about his involvement in "M:I:lll."
Kam Williams: How did they decide to enrich your role this go-round?
Ving Rhames: I'll quote [director] J.J. Abrams. He said, "Look, if you have Ving Rhames, use him." So, what you see in this one is that it's a little more ensemble-oriented. Of course, Tom is the lead, but we really make full use of the skills of the other members of the team. Tom and I have a very good natural chemistry, and you get to see more of that in this film. As a matter of fact, some of the conversations that we have in this one could be two friends at a bar. We have them in the middle of a dangerous situation. I think this is more true to how friends relate to one another.
KW: Do you feel that your own relationship with Tom has developed right along with your characters?
VR: Yes, of course I've known Tom now for ten years. We have a very good chemistry off-camera, and I think we were able to utilize that on-camera.
KW: Do you think that the addition of humour helped humanize your character?
VR: That, and also the fact that J.J.'s a former actor, a writer, and he's also younger than the previous two directors. So, I think his finger's a little closer to the pulse of mainstream America. So, he's just a little more in touch. This one's a little fresher, and I honestly think he's put things in it that will appeal even more to women, like the whole love story. And I'm saying love story, as opposed to a sex story.
KW: How does it feel to have appeared in all three instalments of Mission Impossible?
VR: The beauty of this one, for me, in coming back, is the script, J.J. Abrams and the other writers, the new cast members and the energy and authenticity that they bring to the piece, and the fact that we all had an extremely good chemistry with one another. So, it was a chance to have some fun and make a good deal of money.
KW: What was it like working with Tom as producer and with a new director in J.J.?
VR: What I love about Tom as an executive producer, and even with J.J., to me, we work as actors in what I call a structured freedom. We have freedom to do things and move within certain parameters. And I think part of that is because J.J. as an actor and Tom as an executive producer slash actor understand that sometimes actors do things as an action and reaction. Having that kind of freedom just adds a fluidity to the piece.
KW: How is this instalment different from the first two?
VR: It's more similar to the television series. You have the Impossible Mission team, and the importance of each team member. Also, I also think that because Tom's character has a love interest, in those scenes where he's in danger, his family is in danger. If something happens to him, what happens to them? Adding those elements to all of the high-octane action puts this a level or two above Missions I and II.
KW: What was the most rewarding aspect of making this movie?
VR: The most rewarding part of this for me is you get to learn a bit more about the humanity of the characters in the interactions outside of their job. That's the part that I really enjoy about the film, especially with Ethan [Tom Cruise's character]. You really get to see him outside of work.
KW: How would you describe your character Luther's relationship with Ethan?
VR: We're comrades, but also outside of work there's a friendship and there's a bond, and I think you get to feel some of that flavour during this Mission.
KW: How do you expect the audience to respond to the camaraderie and character development?
VR: The audience will be able to relate to them more. What is it like, say, for a police officer, a fireman, or what have you, who puts their life on the line possibly every day, but then has to come home to deal with children, a wife, or what have you. So, for this one, the audience will have a stronger connection to the characters in that regard, because J.J. Abrams does a very good job of making these people human.
KW: Why is everybody I've spoken with so high on J.J.?
VR: He has a very good rapport with the actors. And he's a people person, and brings a very youthful energy to the set that's contagious to actors.
KW: Were you a fan of the original Mission Impossible TV-show?
VR: No, I never really watched the original series. I only watched re-runs of it when I first found out I was on Mission I.
Ving Rhames On A ‘Mission’
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 5, 2006) *There’s a new movie that arrives in theatres today – you may have heard of it. It’s called “Mission: Impossible III?” Its star Tom Cruise has been in a few different countries promoting it? Its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this week was the focus of a half-hour TV special on NBC, and even MTV and BET devoted programming to the opening. Perhaps smothered by all of the attention surrounding Wednesday’s four premiere events in New York’s Times Square, Tribeca, Harlem and Midtown Manhattan – not to mention the rage surrounding TomKat and their new baby – is the film’s story. Is it actually worth all of the garish promotion? “The beauty of this one for me, in coming back, is the script,” notes Ving Rhames, who returns to the franchise for the third time as computer expert Luther Strickell. In “M:iIII,” Strickell is called to duty by his old friend, super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) to help handle a wicked arms dealer played by Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. Rhames says this film is superior to the first two “Mission: Impossible” outings because “it’s more similar to the television series, you have the ‘Mission: Impossible’ team, and the importance of each team member.” He adds: “I also think because you have Tom and you have a love interest with his character – the scenes where he’s in danger also his loved one is in danger, his family is in danger – if something happens to him, what happens to them? So I think adding those elements with all of the high octane action puts this a level or two above ‘Mission’ I and II.” Writer-director J.J. Abrams, the mastermind behind TV’s “Alias” and “Lost,” sits in the director’s chair this time around, while Cruise also served as the film’s executive producer. Both filmmakers have an acting background and could have approached the set expecting actors to bow down and obey their vision of the film. But that wasn’t the case, says Rhames. “What I love about Tom as an executive producer, and even with J.J., to me we work as actors in what I call a structured freedom,” Rhames explains during interviews for the film. “We have freedom to do things and move within certain parameters, and I think part of that is because J.J. as an actor, and Tom as an executive producer/actor understands that sometimes actors do things action/reaction. Having that kind of freedom, I think, just adds a fluidity to the piece.” Whether or not the film can live up to its hype remains to be seen. But one thing’s for certain, notes Rhames: “It was a chance to have some fun and make a good deal of money.”
Rhythm And Jews Explores Musical Links
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter
(May 5, 2006) At first blush, it may seem an unlikely premise; that Jews and blacks share a common musical heritage, one that strongly influenced modern music. That's the theme of "Rhythm and Jews," a collection of 12 films exploring that connection as part of the 14th annual Toronto Jewish Film Festival, which runs from tomorrow through May 14. Still sceptical? Did you know that one of blues singer Billie Holliday's most haunting songs, Strange Fruit — about the lynching of blacks in the U.S. South — was written in 1937 by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from New York, in response to his horror at graphic photos he'd seen? There's also the prominent role played by Al Jolson and other Jewish entertainers in the blackface minstrel tradition. Musicologists have unearthed many more examples and plenty of evidence to establish clear links between the distinctively soulful sound of krecht (the wailing, sobbing notes common in klezmer music) and Jewish cantorial music and the black sounds of rhythm and blues and jazz, said Ellie Skrow, who is special programs curator for the festival. The result of that blending and borrowing of respective musical traditions is, "actually the story of American popular music," Skrow said. As blacks headed north away from the racist, segregated South for jobs and greater freedom after the Civil War, Jewish immigrants were leaving behind the pogroms and persecution of Eastern Europe and Russia. Both groups settled in significant numbers in large northern U.S. cities, often in the same poor neighbourhoods like New York's Lower East Side and the Chicago's South Side. "There's a mutual history of oppression ... and there's a musical connection," Skrow said. "Because the two cultures were on the lowest rungs of the social hierarchy, they weren't part of America. It was the Jews that really recognized the talents of African-Americans and had an incredible affinity," she said.
Composers like George Gershwin and Irving Berlin "borrowed from the rhythms and cadences of the street they heard," Skrow said. Moreover, Big Band-era leaders like Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman were the first to integrate black musicians into their orchestras, she added. A free panel discussion, to be held on Tues., May 9 at the Bloor Cinema, will explore the subject in more detail. Members of the Connecticut-based Afro-Semitic Experience — David Shevan and Warren Byrd — will sit on the panel and perform live. In all, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival will offer more than 100 films, including shorts, over its 10-day run. Festival executive director Helen Zukerman said it has grown dramatically since 1993, doubling in length and quadrupling in attendance, with 30,000 expected to attend this year. A cheeky marketing strategy, called Discover Your Inner Jew, has also persuaded a broader range of movie lovers to attend, Zukerman added. "It's not a film festival for the Jews, it's a Jewish film festival. What we're about is good film. The fact that it happens to be Jewish content is secondary to the fact that it is good film," Zukerman said. Other highlights include the opening night film tomorrow, stand-up comedian Sarah Silverman's film, Jesus Is Magic, something Zukerman predicted some Jewish audience members might find "a little offensive, a little out there. "We call it Jewish blue-ish," she said.
Robeson A Man Who Took A Stand
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Judy Stoffman, Entertainment Reporter
(May 5, 2006) Paul Robeson: Here I Stand, to be screened next week at the Jewish Film Festival, is the most comprehensive documentary made about the singer-actor-black activist Paul Robeson. Director St. Claire Bourne's film aired on PBS in 1999 ,but is still worth seeing, though its place in the Jewish Film Festival is tenuous. The reason for including it is one episode in the film that happened when Robeson returned to the former Soviet Union after World War II. He was a celebrity in the U.S.S.R., a country he idealized because he felt no racism there. Yet in 1949, he discovered that his Jewish friends were being jailed or murdered by Stalin. Robeson's musical response was eloquent: he sang "Zog Nisht Keyn Mol," the famous song of the Jewish partisans, before an immense audience in Moscow. "My father learned the words to the song from a Warsaw ghetto survivor, on his way to Russia," says his son, Paul Robeson, Jr., in a phone interview from his home in New York. "There is a recording of that legendary concert on Phoenix records, including my father's introduction in Russian. He could read and write in 10 or a dozen languages. "This concert was broadcast live over radio to seven time zones. Imagine somebody goes to the Soviet Union in the midst of an anti-Jewish campaign and at a concert he tells them about the affinity between blacks and Jews. Dad was sending a message to Stalin." Paul Robeson was one of the most gifted men of his generation, a star athlete and Phi Beta Kappa scholar in the 1920s at Rutgers University. After graduating with a law degree, he was hired by a New York law firm. Secretaries refused to take his dictation and he was told he'd never have white clients. Disillusioned, he left law and, eventually, the U.S. For long periods, he and his wife and Paul, Jr. lived in England, where he made mediocre movies and played Othello on stage. He returned home when World War II broke out (he was deemed too tall when he tried to enlist). Later, he became a target of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist witch-hunts because of his pro-Soviet views, although he was never a party member. He died in 1976, a broken man. There is a revival of interest in Robeson both in North America and Europe. Dozens of books and at least 100 websites are devoted to him, a commemorative stamp was issued in 2004, and Rutgers even offers a Robeson course. His son is the keeper of the flame. He says that screenwriter Zachary Sklar, best known for the script of JFK, has written a feature movie about his father, which he hopes will be made.
Paul Robeson: Here I Stand screens May 12, 4 p.m. at the Al Green Theatre
Chen Kaige's Film Is A Massive Commercial Hit
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere, Movie Critic
(May 6, 2006) When director Chen Kaige's first film Yellow Earth started buzzing its way through international film festivals in 1984, the movie — about a poignant encounter between a Communist soldier and rural peasant family — was heralded as the beginning of a new era in Chinese cinema. Indeed, it was the first Chinese movie to have made such a splash in more than a generation. And its director, then only 32 years old, was immediately at the forefront of the so-called "Fifth Generation" of Chinese filmmakers. The son of the respected Communist Party filmmaker Chen Huaikai, the Beijing-born Chen Kaige grew up immersed in movie culture. But his life changed drastically in 1966. With the coming of the Cultural Revolution, Chen, like millions of other Chinese who were considered the products of "intellectual" families, was separated from his family and sent to work first as a labourer and then as a soldier in the Chinese army. He has borne the scars of this experience all his life, and has talked frequently of his desire to make a movie about the generation lost to the Cultural Revolution. Now 53, Chen Kaige has continued to maintain his reputation as China's leading director. (His closest competition, House of Flying Daggers' director Zhang Yimou, began as Chen's cinematographer.) His new film The Promise, which opened yesterday, is a lavish martial arts fantasy, in the grand traditional "wuxia" style of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Zhang's Hero. It is not only the most expensive Chinese movie ever made (more than $30 million U.S.), but also the most successful. Recently, he came to Toronto to discuss his life and work.
Q: Tell me about your father and how he influenced what you grew up to do.
A: My father made feature films, but the situation then was quite different from now. At that time, China was a very closed society. Basically, my father's generation only made what would be considered propaganda films. Of course, I was influenced by my father, who worked very hard. But I never thought that I might be a film director because most of the time I went to the soundstage I found it boring. You know, making a film is hard labour. My father could say "be patient," and I'd stay there for three hours and nothing happened. They were setting lights or something.
Q: How was the situation most different then from now?
A: I grew up in a very special period of time, the Cultural Revolution. When the Cultural Revolution broke out in 1966, no one was allowed to make any films for 10 years. I was sent to the countryside to do labour for 2 1/2 years, then I joined the army. During that 10 years, no one saw any foreign films ... I came back when the Cultural Revolution finished. That's when the film school re-opened. I wasn't very well-educated because I couldn't go to school. I couldn't pass the formal examination in order to become a student of any university or college, but film school was an exception. I didn't need the same education. So some friends said `You should try the film school,' and I did. It was called Beijing Film Academy, and it was the only film school in China at that time. So I tried and I think I did pretty well. I became a student in the directing department in 1978.
Q: Did you have any special fondness for movies then?
A: I fell in love with filmmaking only when I became a film student because I knew nothing about it, really. But I felt it was really important for my generation to express something because we'd suffered at lot as young people.
Q: In interviews you've spoken of your desire to make a movie about the Cultural Revolution. Do you think you ever will?
A: I think it's very, very important for us to learn the lessons from the Cultural Revolution. Although few of us in my generation can be considered political — I'm not interested in politics at all — I feel that this is our obligation, to show what was really going on at that time. How human beings were suffering, but how the best parts of human nature still somehow shone at that time. But I'm still waiting for the best time to come. As you know, the Cultural Revolution is still taboo in China.
Q: Have you considered making it outside China?
A: It would be more significant to make a film about that subject matter in China.
Q: Your first film, Yellow Earth, was not only a personal success for you, but an international success for your country. How did that affect you?
A: At that time Zhang Yimou, another well-known director in China now, was my cinematographer. Other schoolmates also joined us on the production. We had a wonderful team, but we didn't have any commercial sense. That film was shot with a very limited budget and very small crew, and we never thought that we could go to major film festivals or achieve any commercial success. So for me the making of that movie was very pure. I'll never forget what we did then — it was beautiful.
Q: So it started small and without any major ambitions. But then it went around the world, and you with it.
A: We were shocked to see that this movie was received so well outside of China. Although it didn't really have much commercial success, it was the first time that the Chinese had made a film that was recognized not only by Western critics but by audiences. I think that that gave me more self-confidence that I should continue to do something meaningful, to find our own way. But you know, as a film director there are a lot of temptations around. You can easily be lost. Twenty-two years have passed, and I still miss the time when we made that film.
Q: How did you end up teaching in New York in the late 1980s?
A: I was invited to attend the Hawaii Film Festival, which is a small festival, so Zhang Yimou and I went, and we got the Best Picture Award. I remember the chairwoman of the jury was this old, nice Japanese lady, and she said, "As young film directors, you should go and see more stuff. I'm offering you two air tickets to go to the U.S." So with those tickets Zhang Yimou and I went to New York City, Philadelphia and other cities. It was amazing. I've always been very grateful to that old lady, who has since passed away. Then I was invited to the New York University film school with a scholarship provided by the Rockefeller Foundation. I was offered a chance to teach for one year, but actually I stayed there longer because, as everyone knows, something happened in China in 1989. It was a great opportunity for me to learn something about New York because in China New York City is considered the centre of world capitalism. I grew up familiar with the image of the tall buildings and the suffering black people, that kind of thing. So the experience was great. It just opened my eyes to see things more widely and broadly. I loved it.
Q: You referred to the many temptations that can pull a director off course. What's been the most tempting for you?
A: I think the biggest temptation is the need to develop the Chinese domestic market. Sometimes you have to switch into another direction, to give up something that you used to believe to make sure that your film can be successful commercially. That's the real temptation.
Q: Are you talking about making The Promise, which has been your most commercially successful movie?
A: I'm not saying that The Promise is in that situation, but I must always ask myself how can I survive something called success? What is the most important stuff I should continue to do, no matter what? That's the thing that bothers me almost every day.
Hollywood On The Ropes
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere
(May 7, 2006) According to some observers, the global American movie business we call Hollywood is on the ropes again: movie attendance may be up slightly this year over the dismal last (the worst, by some estimates, in a generation), but there has been a general decline in ticket sales since the year 2000 that corresponds with, among other things, the rise in the use of home-entertainment technologies like DVD. Some have called the current situation critical — perhaps the most acute crisis the theatrical end of the movie business has faced since the coming of television in the late 1940s. But is it the end? Or just the beginning of a new era for an industry simply too rich, resourceful and vain to fade to black? After all, Hollywood has seemed down for the count before, and it's always found a way to come back swinging just when you thought it was time to call in the priest for the last rites. As a means of anticipating the Hollywood strategy of navigating through the present troubles, here's a look at some of the defining struggles of the past.
You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet: Coming of Sound
By the mid 1920s, everybody in the movie business knew sound was coming and everybody wanted it. But The Jazz Singer, the Al Jolson-starring part-talkie released to startling success by the upstart Warner Brothers studio in 1927, nevertheless took Hollywood by surprise. The Warner Brothers release had simply come too soon: most of the theatres in America were not only owned and controlled by the studios, they were not yet equipped with the necessary technology for the switch to talkies. But the Jolson movie, which is mostly silent save for a couple of musical and brief dialogue sequences, changed all that. The rush to convert theatres, at a hair-raising cost, was on. The cost wasn't only fiscal: because they either spoke poor English or had lousy voices, some movies stars (such as the matinee idol John Gilbert) found themselves almost immediately unemployed. Moreover, the move to dialogue created a demand for an entirely different kind of screenwriter. Playwrights boarded trains and headed west. But the cost was worth it: once the necessary technological transitions had been made, Hollywood was safely swimming in gravy again by the early 1930s.
Endgame: Collapse of Hollywood Monopoly
In early 1948, Hollywood was still basking in the profits of its most successful years ever: postwar revenues had spiked to the highest level of attendance in American movie history — with two-thirds of Americans seeing movies weekly — and the future looked as bright as the sun glinting off the Pacific Ocean. Then came the storm. In May 1948, the so-called "Paramount Decree" was made law, and the major studios suddenly found themselves facing their greatest economic crisis since the arrival of sound. The troubles stemmed from the highly lucrative practice called "block booking," itself an entrenched practice made possible by the fact that studios were not only in the production business, but the businesses of distribution and exhibition as well. Thus, if an exhibitor wanted a particular prestige release, he was also compelled to take a "block" of less commercially foolproof fare as part of the package. This vertical integration had not only put a lock on huge studio profits for years, it had sustained the existence of the studios' B-movie production houses as well as smaller studios strictly in the B-making business. Suddenly stripped of one of their primary sources of income, the studios were compelled to whack budgets, streamline production methods and completely reconfigure their approach to making movies. The results were not immediately encouraging: attendance began to decline precipitously in the late 1940s and early '50s, and then things only turned worse. It was the time of the blacklist and arrival of something called TV.
Are You Or Have You Ever Been: The Blacklist
In 1947, a year after Hollywood's biggest boom and year before the 1948 "Paramount Decree," the formerly dormant House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) found itself reinvigorated by the surge in anti-Communist panic that occurred after the end of World War II. And one of the targets, as articulated by committee chairman J. Parnell Thomas, was something called "Communism in motion pictures." Long (and still) a favourite target of organized conservative moral and political campaigns, the movie business immediately found itself in the national spotlight in such a way that flatly challenged the old showbiz axiom that "any publicity is good publicity." This was not good. It began with the committee's summoning, in September 1947, of 20 "friendly" movie industry witnesses. What made them "friendly" was their willingness to provide HUAC with the names of colleagues and co-workers who had demonstrated "leftist" tendencies, which a great many Hollywood actors, directors, screenwriters and producers, particularly during the 1930s, indeed had. Subpoenas were subsequently issued to some 40 prominent creative figures in the industry, a small number of whom would later become famous as "The Hollywood Ten" after they refused — and were subsequently imprisoned — to co-operate with the committee's demands. Terrified of the potential public relations scandal they were facing, the studios agreed to terminate the employment of anyone accused (or even suspected) of having "un-American tendencies," a decision that officially inaugurated the "Blacklist," which would last a decade and ruin countless lives and careers. The wounds created by this act of rash self-purgation would leave deep scars in the industry. And they would last for decades. When one of the more notorious "friendly" witnesses, the director Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront), was given a lifetime achievement honour by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1999 — or nearly a half century after testifying — cameras recorded the audience response: some stood and cheered while others sat in stony, still-resentful silence.
I Hate Lucy: War on TV
As it had with sound a generation before, the movie industry initially ignored TV to its considerable peril. Although the electronic image-transmitting medium had been around since the mid-'30s, its incursion into the country's homes had been curtailed by a wartime halt on the production of sets. Then, as America shifted from an urban to a suburban culture, the TV numbers started screaming: by 1949, there were 1 million sets in the U.S., and by 1951 there were 10 times that many. In 1948, movie theatres were attended by 90 million people. Two years later, that had dropped by 20 million. (By 1953, the 1946 peak had been halved.) Studio production dropped accordingly, layoffs and labour disputes ensued, and the anti-trust suits of 1948 cut the studios off from one of their main sources of income: the theatre chains they could no longer own. Still, Hollywood played the denial game. Television was not used for promotional purposes, studio contractees were forbidden to work on TV (which forced the medium to create its own, equally powerful star system), and even the potentially life-saving sales of old movies to TV were initially disallowed. If TV was even mentioned in a movie, it was as an object of ridicule. Unlike real America, in movie America most people didn't seem to even own TVs. But once again, the capitalist survival impulse kicked in and Hollywood began beating back against the box. Production might have yielded fewer films during the 1950s, but those films got bigger: screens widened, sound went stereo, stories went epic and special effects (like 3-D) guaranteed an experience you had to leave home have. By the end of the 1950s, the tide may not have turned (50 million TV sets were in American homes in 1959), but its energy was finally being both acknowledged and used: the movies began advertising their products on TV, movie stars started making TV appearances (and TV stars started making movies) and the studios made millions by finally pouring the contents of the their vaults into the box that nearly became their coffin.
Do You, Mr. Jones? The Countercultural Revolt
A refrain common to 1960s youth culture suggests that there's something happening here that the squares of the world just don't get. And for that they'll pay: the world will burn down around them, but they'll still be sitting in their easy chairs watching TV. While some of this can be written off to romantic youthful self-importance, some of it was dead right. When it came to the way the movie studios dealt with the generational upheaval of the 1960s, the studios were truly clueless to the smoke signals wafting in from the streets. While the music, radio and publishing industries were scrambling to produce material that might exploit the surge in countercultural sentiment by appealing to it, the movie studios through the 1960s — whom you'd thought might have learned something from the TV-imposed near-death experience of the previous decade — continued to conduct business as usual: westerns, musicals and family comedies remained the norm, despite the fact that the norm didn't seem to be floating any more. By the end of the decade, most of the major studios (headed, for the most part, by aging moguls) were once again on the brink of destruction. It wasn't that there were no hits. The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, M*A*S*H, The Wild Bunch, Midnight Cowboy — all of these were movies that both performed at the box office and catered to the anti-establishment impulses of the day; it's just that they weren't planned that way. Most of these movies were fluke, out-of-nowhere successes, and had been made by renegades despite the system. Once again, Hollywood would learn. By the mid-1970s, the so-called "movie brats" who made the countercultural hits were calling the shots and the industry was transformed. But when the movie brat bubble burst, as it would after a few too many self-styled auteurs had run off to make their multi-million-dollar artistic statements on the studio coin — like William Friedkin's Sorceror, Martin Scorsese's New York, New York, Robert Altman's Popeye, Francis Ford Coppola's One From the Heart and Michael Cimino's neutron bomb Heaven's Gate — Hollywood would once again enter disaster and emerge from the flames, this time with the advent of a seemingly disaster-proof system we might call "blockbusterism." It's a term that basically describes the system as it operates today: the production of expensive, heavily marketed "pre-sold" sequels and remakes, based on the potential for endless franchising, merchandising and exploitation of state-of-the-art special effects. But this one, well, this one would really be flawless. Or so it seemed.
Sticky Fingaz Directing Second Feature Film
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Fawn Renee
(May 1, 2006) Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones recently went into post-production on the movie Caught on Tape, the second feature film directed by the rapper. Jones, who also wrote and stars in the movie, directs a cast that includes Cedric the Entertainer, Vivica A. Fox, Bokeem Woodbine and others. Jones' directorial debut, a Hip-Hop musical entitled A Day in the Life, starring Omar Epps, Mekhi Phifer, Fredro Starr and others is in post-production and is also expected to hit the big screen this summer. In related news, Jones was recently cast as the half-human/half-vampire "Blade" in Blade: The Series, based on the movie franchise. Blade: The Series, premiers this summer on Spike TV.
Hot Docs Announces Festival Favourites
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(May 7, 2006) A documentary that views the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the eyes of two girls took the top prize at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto on Friday. Shelley Saywell's Martyr Street, which follows the lives of a Palestinian girl in Hebron and her Israeli counterpart in a nearby settlement, was named best Canadian feature-length documentary at an awards ceremony hosted by filmmaker and journalist Avi Lewis. The best international feature documentary award went to British director Ben Hopkins for 37 Uses For A Dead Sheep, which follows the formerly nomadic Kirghiz tribe in Turkey. Both Hopkins and Saywell received $5,000 prizes. The film Badal, by Israeli director Ibtisam Ma'arana, won the prize for the best short- or mid-length documentary. The festival, which closed yesterday, screened 99 documentaries from around the world. Staff
Hot Docs Pulls Record Crowds With 13th Fest
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(May 9, 2006) It was lucky 13 for the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival as the 13th edition wrapped up Sunday by shattering attendance records. More than 50,000 people saw 101 films over the 10-day festival, while about 7,000 Toronto and area high school students saw free screenings through the new Docs in Schools program. The audience picks for the top 10 movies chosen by ballots cast at all screenings at the fest were: A Lion in the House; Mystic Ball; Wordplay; Encounter Point; Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos; An Unreasonable Man; The World According to Sesame Street; Uganda Rising; So Much So Fast; and Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story. Jury prizes were also awarded. The Best Canadian Documentary prize went to Shelley Saywell's Martyr Street. Best Canadian Feature was awarded to Greg Hamilton's Mystic Ball. Best International Documentary feature was Ben Hopkins' 37 Uses For a Dead Sheep, from the U.K. Adán Aliaga's My Grandmother's House (Spain) received a Special Jury Prize for Best International Documentary. Both directors also win a $5,000 cash prize. The Best Documentary (short to mid-length) Award was presented to Ibtisam Ma'arana's Badal (Israel). An honourable mention in the category was given to Malene Choi Jensen's Inshallah (Denmark). Finally, the $10,000 Don Haig Award, presented to a filmmaker whose work has bridged the documentary and fiction genres, went to Quebec's Guylaine Dionne. For a full list of winners, go to http://www.hotdocs.ca.
Warner To Harness Hated Technology To Sell Movies, Shows
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Sarah McBride
(May 9, 2006) In a sign Hollywood is trying to adapt to a technology it long feared, Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. was expected to say it will sell and rent movies and television shows on-line using BitTorrent Inc.'s peer-to-peer technology. Peer-to-peer technology has long been blamed for enabling the theft of music and movies on-line. But with Internet and DVD piracy on the rise, Hollywood studios are looking for ways to harness peer-to-peer and other Internet-based technologies. Given that peer-to-peer technology provides a cheap and efficient way to move large files around the Internet, it is looking increasingly attractive to some studio executives, provided the files move with robust copy protection. Expected to launch this summer, Warner's service will sell and rent movies and television shows the same day they are released on DVD. Releases will include newer titles such as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as well as library titles including The Matrix. TV shows will include Babylon 5 and Dukes of Hazzard. The content will have heavy-duty security features so they can't be pirated. By using the peer-to-peer service, people will essentially agree to let Warner and BitTorrent turn their own computers into mini-servers to help distribute entertainment to other customers around the network. The large files get broken down into small pieces, cutting down on bandwidth costs and time needed to transmit them. A customer receiving a movie could get pieces of it from thousands of other computers before it gets reassembled at the destination computer. Movies can be downloaded more quickly through a peer-to-peer service than through a central server, which can take hours even with a high-speed Internet connection. Even with services such as Movielink LLC that compress the video files, a download can take an hour or two. But when a movie comes from myriad different servers, it comes much faster. BitTorrent says in some tests in a controlled environment movies arrived in as little as 10 minutes, although for most consumers it will likely take longer. "We've always known peer-to-peer technology represents a huge opportunity for us," said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros.' home entertainment group. "If we can convert five per cent, 10 per cent, 15 per cent of those [illegal peer-to-peer] users to become legitimate users of our product, it can have a significant impact on our industry and Warner Bros." Prices haven't yet been determined, but they could be lower than those of physical DVDs. "We're working with a user base that is accustomed to not paying for content," said Ashwin Navin, president and co-founder of BitTorrent, who says TV shows might sell for as little as $1 (U.S.). Many peer-to-peer services have gotten a bad rap from consumers for bundling adware or spyware with their services, and for using too much bandwidth capability, thus slowing their download speeds. But since Warner Bros. is charging for the service, it likely won't burden consumers this way.
Halle Berry Heats Up With Del Toro
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 9, 2006) *Halle Berry will star opposite Benicio Del Toro in a new drama about love, loss and moving through grief. “Things We Lost in the Fire” stars Berry as a sudden widow who takes in her late husband’s troubled best friend (Del Toro) to live with her family. As the friend gets back on his feet emotionally, he helps Berry’s grief-stricken family deal with their loss. Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier will direct the picture for DreamWorks and Paramount will distribute. Production is set to begin next month. In the meantime, Berry’s next release will be "X-Men: The Last Stand," due May 26, and the thriller "Perfect Stranger" opposite Bruce Willis.
Cheadle, Ejiofor ‘Talk’ Way Into New Film
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com – By Kenya Yarbrough
(May 10, 2006) *Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor will star in a new film for Focus Features called “Talk to Me,” which follows the true story of a controversial black DJ at a white-owned radio station in Washington D.C. Cheadle will play Ralph Waldo "Petey" Green, an ex-con who rose to fame as a beloved on-air personality during the 1960s. Ejiofor will play Dewey Hughes, the producer of Green's show. “Talk to Me” begins filming next month under the direction of Kasi Lemmons, who helmed the critically acclaimed 1997 movie, “Eve’s Bayou.” Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, one of the backers of "United 93," is financing the drama and plans to market foreign territories at this month's Cannes film fest. Screenwriter Rick Famuyiwa, the director of “Brown Sugar” and “The Wood,” will help Lemmons punch up the film’s original script, penned by Michael Genet. Cheadle's recent credits include "Crash" and "Hotel Rwanda." Ejiofor can currently be seen in "Kinky Boots" and "Inside Man."
The House That Shore Built
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(May 6, 2006) As with many clichés, you wonder what Dr. Gregory House would say about it. These days, as anyone who watches the Fox drama House knows, Dr. House is the popular culture's ultimate scorn of woolly thinking. As played by British actor Hugh Laurie, the American Dr. House casts a cold eye on all clichés, and speaks his mind. In this particular instance, the cliché is one of the charming and misguided beliefs that some Americans hold about Canada — that probably we all know each other. The way some Americans think, they meet a Canadian in Los Angeles and he or she will probably know some other Canadian they met a few years ago. But now in fact I'm wondering if there isn't some truth in the notion that Canadians are all connected. Back in January, on the TV critics' mid-season press tour in L.A., I spoke briefly to David Shore on the set of House. Shore is a native of London, Ont., (and yes, he is friends with fellow London native and Oscar-winner Paul Haggis and collaborated with the Crash director on Due South.) And he created House. We spoke for only a couple of minutes, as happens in these situations. About a month later, when I mentioned the brief chat in a column, I received an e-mail from a reader who suggested that Shore was worthy of more extensive coverage. I explained that it's difficult for a writer at a Canadian newspaper to gain access to somebody running a hit network show, for a substantial interview, even if the person in L.A. is Canadian. The reader wrote back, said she knew Shore, and that she'd put us in touch with each other if I liked. Curious but sceptical, I agreed.
A few weeks later I heard from Shore's assistant and was told that he'd be pleased to have an e-mail exchange. Righty. It turns out that in Canada, we are all connected. David Shore is 46. He's a lawyer and is now at the very top of the TV game in Hollywood. The credits on House read “Created by David Shore” and he runs the show. The series has won Emmy Awards and, recently, a prestigious Peabody. It is one of the most-watched shows on TV. In Canada, the first part of this week's two-part episode drew 2.3 million viewers, according to Global. Shore, who began his career in TV on the Canadian series Due South (while still working as a lawyer in Toronto) has a lot to be proud of. Yet when I asked him for his official bio during our e-mail exchange, I got one brief paragraph. Usually, top creative types in TV compile a bio, with every single achievement noted, and sometimes subtly exaggerated. This is what I got from Shore: “Since his first staff writing position on cult favourite Due South, David Shore has quickly made his way up the ladder on many of television's most respected shows. He wrote episodes of NYPD Blue and EZ Streets, served as head writer and supervising producer on Traders, which he developed for Canadian television, and was part of the writing team of the Emmy Award-winning first season of The Practice. From there, Shore was twice nominated for an Emmy as a producer on Law & Order. He executive-produced both F family Law and Hack before creating House. Shore recently won an Emmy in the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series category for his House episode Three Stories.” That's pithy and plain and, obviously, there's more to his story. But Shore doesn't give everything away. Our e-mail correspondence, which follows, included some questions that brought no answer at all. Still, one can certainly hear the pithy, scornful and joking tone of Dr. House in some of Shore's responses.
Q: Could you just tell me the story of switching from lawyer to TV writer?
A: I didn't simply hang up my robes and start working on Due South. I did, but it wasn't simple. Actually, that's not right either. It was simple, but it took a long time.
When I was working as a lawyer, I started thinking that I should move to Hollywood and be funny (turned out I was more dramatic than funny). So I quit law, got in my car, drove to L.A: and then started writing. Which is really a stupid order to do things (at least the “start writing” part). Aside from semi-amusing pieces for the law-school paper, I'd never written anything, and had no reason to think I had any skill at this. But I figured if I fell on my face, I'd go back to law, and five years later, my time in L.A. would just be an amusing anecdote to tell clients. Three years later, I got a job on Due South (my first full-time writing job) and ironically had to move back to Toronto.
Q: So, you left a job as a lawyer to write for TV, a much less reliable racket. And what was wrong with the legal profession?
A: I don't have any great anti-law diatribe. I actually kind of liked being a lawyer. But one of the inspirations for the character of Dr. House is that I think I'd still be practising law today if I didn't have to deal with clients. For most people, in most jobs, about 90 per cent of the frustration comes from dealing with the idiots who get in the way of you actually doing the part of the job you like. I'm sure a number of my former clients will be reading this, and to them I say: “Not you guys; I'm talking about the guys who aren't reading this.”
Q: Do you nurture your Canadian roots, or see them as largely irrelevant to your work in U.S. network TV?
A: I know it's not all that cool to say right now (if ever) but I love the United States. But at the same time, I still cheer for the Maple Leafs, I send my kids to camp in Canada, and I manage to slip into almost every conversation that I'm Canadian. And I do think there's something about a quality of otherness that gives someone a slightly different perspective, which is hugely helpful as a writer.
Q: You've been quoted as saying that House was first pitched to TV networks as more of a medical procedural, a medical equivalent of Law & Order, with a team of doctors working on puzzling medical cases. So what came first, the dyspeptic Dr. House character or the actor Hugh Laurie?
A: The character came first. If you buy the Season 1 DVD (please buy the Season 1 DVD), one of the bonus features is a recording of Hugh's audition. The words he spoke in that audition are almost identical to the words he spoke in the pilot. What Hugh brought to the role was that he made it work. I don't think this show would even be on the air if Hugh hadn't come in and nailed that reading — he let us all know what this character is capable of.
Q: Medical series may employ teams of experts, but are always the target of complaints from professional associations of doctor or nurses. What is the most common complaint about House?
A: Doctors seem to love us. I think House allows them to vent without venting — he calls their idiots “idiots.” Some nurses on the other hand. Their complaint is, Where are they? And I get it. They want their chance to call people “idiots” too. We do take liberties with our team doing things and procedures that a nurse would normally do. There are two reasons for this: House trusts no one except his team, and America doesn't want to watch a guest star insert a catheter. But the biggest complaint we get is the cane. He uses it in the wrong hand. If you think you've brilliantly spotted this and are tempted to write us, way to go, tell your friends. But this was actually a conscious choice made during the pilot because House doesn't like being told what to do.
Q: Who does Dr. House really belong with — Dr. Allison Cameron or with Stacy?
A: (No answer.)
Q: When you have time, what TV shows do you watch for personal pleasure?
A: I love TV. I was the kid who watched way too much TV. I was the only kid who wasn't wasting his time playing; I was actually prepping for my career. And I think television right now is maybe as good as it's ever been. There are a shocking number of smart one-hour television shows. I'd name them all, but the only show your readers should be watching is 24. I mean House. The odd time that I get a chance to catch a movie, I frequently walk out realizing that I could have stayed home and seen a better story, better told by just turning on the TV. Movies have too often become about the event while television is almost always about the story.
Q: Canadian TV, especially drama, seems to be in a permanent state of crisis. You were associated with two successful Canadian dramas, Due South and Traders. Do you have a prescription for reviving Canadian TV drama, or do you have a Dr. House-like scepticism about the problem?
A: I am sceptical. There is obviously a smaller market, and therefore less money and greater limitations, but I think the problems are deeper than that. I left Canada because I knew I had a lot to learn as a writer and I saw very few opportunities to do that without moving. In my opinion, Canadian television so often fails for the same reason American movies so often fail: They're not controlled by writers. Now I'm biased on this one and there are obviously great, smart directors out there and great, smart producers but no one knows the story like the writer. American movies are controlled by directors; Canadian television is controlled by producers; American television is controlled by writers.
Q: You must have your hands full with House, but writers always have a pet project. What else are you working on or would like to bring to fruition?
A: I have my hands full with House.
Fine, then. No more questions. The pith of the last answer suggests that the polite Canadian is channelling his inner Dr. House. And nobody messes with House.
Gyrating Wildly Into The Future
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon
(May 9, 2006) I have seen the future of television and it is ... confusing. Darrell Lahey is sitting on a blue medicine ball. He is garbed in checked trousers and a T-shirt emblazoned with a promotional image for his popular website, DailyDancer.com. It's Monday, 8:16 a.m., and Lahey is being interviewed by Beverly Thomson on CTV's Canada AM. She wants to know: why? That is, why would a nerdy software developer stand in front of a video camera thrice weekly, crank up, say, "The Thong Song," and start gyrating manically for the entire world to watch? "I did it to entertain people, mainly," says Lahey. "It's fun." Lahey wobbles to his feet, cues Britney Spears' "Toxic" and demonstrates "fun" by lurching into what can only be described as a full-body seizure. He looks like he is being electrocuted while flailing inside a wind tunnel. As Lahey busts his moves — eyes bugging, extremities thrashing, shoulders ducking, hips pivoting — Thomson tries not to bust a gut off-camera but is unsuccessful. Welcome to television's newest threat, no laughing matter for skittish network execs. Not Lahey, per se, but the creeping idea that anybody can now break through the fragmented clutter and steal some eyeballs. What sounded like alarmist gabble only a couple of years ago is quickly becoming conventional wisdom in TV-land: the Internet is changing distribution, content, economics, viewing habits ... It's changing everything. Last week, ABC started streaming episodes of shows such as Lost, Desperate Housewives and Alias in a two-month pilot project. This week, MTV announced it will create two versions of some shows: one for TV, another for the Web. In December, CBS struck a partnership with Yahoo! More recently, the network launched a broadband channel known as innertube. NBC has similar plans.
From blogs to podcasts to bonus content, every network is experimenting online. Because as broadband penetration increases, as active Web surfing rivals static channel clicking — especially among the multi-tasking young — the love-hate relationship between television and the Internet becomes more puzzling to all involved. I have several friends who watch lots of television shows without actually watching television. So is TV entering an era of lucrative reinvention? Or possible extinction? Producer Mark Burnett may have said it best last month during an industry conference: "My kids don't know what a TV network is any more." The Live 8 global concerts were a watershed for streaming video. Then came the meteoric rise of YouTube.com. As the company's tagline ("Broadcast Yourself") plainly states, YouTube is a meeting place where users share content. Some "Featured Videos" yesterday included footage of David Blaine in his bubble, a human beat-box, a guy who claims to levitate and a drag race involving power tools. "We are providing a stage where everyone can participate and everyone can be seen," co-founder Chad Hurley told the Associated Press last month. "We see ourselves as a combination of America's Funniest Home Videos and Entertainment Tonight." All of this would be inconsequential if it wasn't so insanely popular. YouTube users now upload more than 30,000 homemade videos each day. You want to watch a skiing mishap? A hockey scrap? Savage political commentary? A spoof of Brokeback Mountain? A wedding gone horribly wrong? A cute toddler? A psychotic cat? A teenage prank? A pot of soup boiling over?
Chances are it's on YouTube. And chances are somebody is watching it. Since launching in December, it now serves more than 40 million videos per day, making it a bigger player than Yahoo! Video, Google Video and AOL Video. YouTube has become ground zero for the explosion of viral videos. As a reflection of our clip culture, it is an addictive narcotic, a time-killing black hole, a symbol of our collective attention-deficit disorder. It is also freaking out the establishment. YouTube has turned dozens of "real" clips into global talking points, something that hasn't escaped notice. Last week, C-Span asked YouTube to lift a clip of Stephen Colbert's routine during the White House Correspondents Dinner. It was viewed 2.7 million times in less than two days. Earlier this year, clips from NBC's Saturday Night Live and the CBS Evening News were taken down after network requests. I have stumbled upon scenes from The Simpsons, The Daily Show, American Idol and South Park, among others. The Internet still has a long, long way to go before TV execs drink the Kool-Aid. But, at this point, they should not forget that somebody somewhere is ready to dance on their graves.
Lorne Saxberg, 48
Source: Canadian Press
(May 8, 2006) Toronto — Veteran CBC news anchor Lorne Saxberg died Saturday in a snorkelling accident while on vacation in Phuket, Thailand, CBC News has reported. “We're shocked and very, very sad that this has happened,” CBC spokeswoman Ruth-Ellen Soles said Sunday. “He was part of our family of journalists and reporters and newsreaders.” Mr. Saxberg had a 27-year career with the country's public broadcaster and was a widely recognized news anchor on both television and radio. The 48-year-old broadcaster was one of the original anchors when CBC's all-news channel Newsworld was launched in 1989, CBC News reported. He was recently awarded an Edward R. Murrow Award for a documentary he wrote and hosted on the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb, CBC reported. Mr. Saxberg grew up in Thunder Bay, Ont., and joined CBC Radio as an announcer. He later moved to Toronto where he joined the roster of anchors at CBC Newsworld. Mr. Saxberg took leave from CBC two years ago to work as announcer and trainer with NHK Japan in Tokyo. “He was the consummate pro and an exceptional journalist,” said Ken Becker, a Newsworld producer who worked with Mr. Saxberg for many years. “When he was in the anchor chair, you knew you could throw Lorne any story — from the outbreak of war to the birth of a panda at the zoo — and he'd deliver it to the viewer with exactly the right tone.” “He brought to every story a vast knowledge on nearly every subject, a reporter's curiosity and an appreciation of fine writing.”
'View' Brings Rosie O’Donnell Aboard
Source: Detroit News
With Rosie O'Donnell as its newest co-host, "The View" brings a six-time Daytime Emmy winner onto a cast that has made a joke out of its inability to win an Emmy. "The View" creator Barbara Walters confirmed at the Daytime Emmy awards Friday night that O'Donnell will join her show in September, replacing the "Today" show-bound Meredith Vieira. "We were amazed when she said yes and we're thrilled to have her," Walters said. The move marks a plunge back into daytime television for O'Donnell. With a large resume that includes stage, film and TV work, it's the place where she found the greatest success. She won six Daytime Emmys as best talk show host before shutting down her show because she wanted to spend more time raising a family. "I needed to refuel myself," she said. "It was my four-year celebrity detox." "The View" got a bigger star than it imagined to replace Vieira, who often serves as the emotional center of an ensemble that also includes Joy Behar, Star Jones Reynolds and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Star Jones Reportedly Leaving ‘The View’
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 10, 2006) *As Oprah Winfrey gets set to bless “The View” with her presence on Friday, rumours are swirling that her best friend, Gayle King, is being sought after to replace the show’s resident diva, Star Jones Reynolds. According to the New York Post’s Page Six, Rosie O’Donnell’s forthcoming addition to replace the exiting Meredith Vieira was always contingent upon Reynolds being kicked off, which, reportedly, executive producer Barbara Walters has agreed to do. "It was always Rosie's condition of joining the show, and Barbara agreed to those conditions from the outset," a source told Page Six. ABC will reportedly announce Reynolds’ departure this week. But, the former prosecutor and the network are said to be concocting a story to make it appear as if Reynolds has simply decided to move on and pursue other projects, the newspaper reports. Meanwhile, Jones' people are fiercely denying her imminent departure from “The View.” Her rep told Page Six: "It's 100 percent not true. Where are you hearing this?" A publicist for “The View” also denied the rumour. Sources have told Fox 411 columnist Roger Friedman that Gayle King is indeed being eyed to take the chair next to Rosie, who will moderate the new line-up when Vieira moves to NBC’s “The Today Show.” Freidman asked King about the situation during Monday night’s gala in New York to honour Queen Rania of Jordan. The famous Oprah homie replied she had no idea what was going on with “The View.” O’Donnell is said to be so pleased with the prospect of King joining the show that she would give the journalist the moderator role if she wanted it. And while the “The View” has stated publicly that Jones is "welcome" to remain on the show as long as she wants, insiders confirmed to Page Six late last week that her agents are quietly shopping around for a new job for her.
CBS Shows Now On Free Internet Website
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(May 5, 2006) CBS Corp., owner of the most-watched U.S. television network, has begun offering a free high-speed website, called Innertube, that provides advertising-supported programs, including some created for the channel. Innertube also will show reruns from a library of programming, CBS said yesterday. Media companies are turning to new distribution methods for TV shows to retain viewers defecting to the Web and other media, including video games. CBS (NYSE) rose 29 cents (U.S.) to $26.04. Bloomberg
'African American Lives': DNA Helps Celebs Discover Roots in PBS
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com – By Kam Williams
(May 8, 2006) *Most African-Americans know precious little of their ancestral lineage. Generally, they can trace their roots back to around the end of slavery, at which point they hit a dead end. By design, that sinister system of exploitation divorced its victims from any connection to their family trees by deliberately destroying black family structure. For this reason, African-American Lives turns out to be both a fascinating and very-revealing TV program. Narrated by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this four-part PBS series follows the extraordinary efforts of nine notables to find their roots, including Oprah Winfrey , televangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes, comedian Chris Tucker, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Quincy Jones, astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot and Whoopi Goldberg. Courtesy of DNA evidence, Gates is certainly surprised to learn that more of his ancestors came from Ireland and France than from Africa. By contrast, Bishop Jakes’ is enabled to pinpoint his forefathers’ point of departure from Africa. Upon his travel return, he is greeted by a long-lost relative with, “Welcome home!” A visibly-moved Jakes responds, “You’re strangely familiar to me. I swear I know you, but I can remember where from.” As he explains the experience, “I can’t really describe what it was like for me to get off a plane and have somebody say ‘Welcome Home!’ and try to process it, and ask myself, ‘Is this true? Is this home?’ It‘s like a set of twins who were separated at birth and raised in two different parts of the world meeting for the first time. And for the first time in my life, I wondered what I would have been, had my ancestors not been enslaved.” Alternatively emotional and informative, an overdue return-to-roots saga made possible through an unprecedented combination of DNA, genealogy and oral tradition.
Barton Over Broadway
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Simon Houpt
(May 6, 2006) NEW YORK — Sometimes, this is how things happen in New York. Last summer, the 30-year-old Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton created a dance piece at the new Baryshnikov Arts Center in Hell's Kitchen, where she is in residence. In a theatre downstairs, Ethan Hawke, Wallace Shawn, Josh Hamilton, Parker Posey and others were throwing themselves around the stage in Scott Elliott's acclaimed off-Broadway production of Hurlyburly. One afternoon, someone invited Elliott and his cast to attend a rehearsal performance of Barton's new piece, entitled Overcome. They found themselves overcome: a few wept. Elliott approached Barton, whom he had never met, and asked if she might be interested in choreographing his upcoming production of The Threepenny Opera at Studio 54. Which is how it came to be that, even though she's seen only about five or six Broadway shows in her entire life, last month Barton made her Broadway choreographic debut. Of course, she'd also never worked with actors, never mind the motley crew that Elliott assembled, including Alan Cumming, the Tony Award-winning MC from Cabaret; Cyndi Lauper; Nellie McKay, the quirky singer-songwriter, who'd never acted professionally; Carlos Leon, who is perhaps best known as the father of Madonna's daughter Lourdes; the Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer; and the Broadway hoofer Jim Dale. "Scott asked me if I wanted to bring in dancers, and I thought, first of all, that's the easy way out. Second of all, I didn't want it to be detached," says Barton, curled up in a balcony seat overlooking the Studio 54 stage after a recent matinee. "When people first meet a choreographer, they think: Tell me the steps! Show me what to do." Barton doesn't work like that. Even when she's choreographing dancers, she wants the movement to be inspired by something within themselves. She'll often ask her dancers to write journals; the dances grow out of the writing.
With the Threepenny cast, "I got them to improvise and I got them to do these fun tasks that we do, group up with partners, and move weirdly, to get to know them. "A lot of the movement came from me observing them and picking out quirky movements that they did naturally." The aim, she says, was to "have them trust themselves and their own bodies, and trust that they can be different, and to let their emotions drive the movement -- so that it doesn't become a 'steppy Broadway show.' " She gives a breathy giggle. In person, Barton is the opposite of her recent work, which is muscular and sometimes violent. Quick to blush, she has a girlish voice, green eyes, swept-back blond hair, frameless glasses, and a deferential manner. When a press assistant asked a few moments ago what she might like to drink, she half-joked that she'd like a cosmopolitan, then settled for soda water. Born in Edmonton, Barton left home at age 14 to train at the National Ballet School in Toronto. After graduating, she spent a year in Europe on a Canada Council grant, then moved to Montreal to join Les Ballets Jazz. Two years later, she felt the itch to move again. "When you're in a big company, you're limited to a certain amount of rep," she says. "You're not getting to work with the creator as much." Her two sisters, Cherice and Charissa, were already dancing in New York, so she came down to see what she could do. This was about 1998. The early years were tough. She babysat, took scholarships, worked with small companies and independent choreographers, and began choreographing her own work to present anywhere she could. Her dancers were often unpaid, as was she. Four years ago, she founded her own company, Aszure & Artists, and word began spreading around town about her work. Which brings us to another New York story. In the summer of 2003, Barton was dancing on tour with Ruth Davidson Hahn when Mikhail Baryshnikov did a guest spot with the troupe. "He came up to me at a party afterwards and said, I heard you're a fabulous choreographer," recalls Barton. She shivers, gulps as if replaying the moment -- she looks like she could really use that cosmopolitan now -- mutters "Oh, God" under her breath, then screws up her face in comic scepticism. "I thought 'Alllllright. He likes blondes.' " Barton's laughter peals through the balcony.
But he was serious, and when they got back to New York the next day he asked to see some of her work. In an e-mail last week, Baryshnikov said of Barton, "Aszure Barton's dances immediately caught my attention; she is one of the most interesting choreographers I've come across in recent years. Not only is she fearless in her creative exploration, she is a lot of fun to work with." Barton is currently developing a solo work for Baryshnikov, which he will take on tour this summer with Hell's Kitchen Dance, a company of young dancers (and himself) that he has put together to showcase the first pieces created at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Barton will dance on that tour with the troupe, as well as an intersecting tour of Aszure & Artists. Last week, she was in Montreal preparing to create a new work for her old company, Les Ballets Jazz. It was her first time choreographing in Canada since she left in the late '90s. "It's awesome," she said, on the phone from the rehearsal hall. "Just being in Canada is somehow very calming. The energy is great, and I'm very inspired when I'm here." She doesn't yet know what shape the piece is going to take. Now back in New York, she'll be returning to Montreal in September to fully develop it over about five or six weeks, with an eye to presenting it next winter. "It's still a completely blank slate. I'm really trying to get to know the dancers and see what comes out of that," she said. "I have no idea what direction it's going to go in. I wanted to take a risk and go with it."
Rhythm Of Lovings, Leavings
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(May 4, 2006) Gonna sing, gonna dance — but not at the same time. That's the cast's rhythm in Song and Dance, the official opener of the newly renovated Danforth Music Hall next Tuesday. The first act is all singing; the second act all dancing. This work by Andrew Lloyd Webber is something unique in the world of musical theatre — and it has a Canadian cast with the appropriate star quality to perform it. And when the singer is Louise Pitre and the dancers are led by Rex Harrington and Evelyn Hart, you know you're in for a great show. "It's all about relationships," says choreographer Wayne Sleep, "the comings and goings, the lovings and leavings." And so he helps to find links, relationships even, between the song and the dance. "For example, in Act I," he explains, "we see a bouquet of roses that one lover brought Louise. In Act II, Rex dances with that bouquet and we realize he was the lover." Sleep, the original Mr. Mistoffelees in Cats, recalls the impact Song and Dance made in its debut because "I was bringing jazz, tap, ballet and contemporary dance all under one roof, which had never been done before." It all began nearly three decades ago, when Lloyd Webber and lyricist Don Black decided in 1979 to write a series of songs about a British girl looking for love in all the wrong places — or at least in New York and Los Angeles. They called it Tell Me on a Sunday, and turned it into a 1980 BBC television show as well as a recording, both featuring Marti Webb. It was extremely popular, even spinning off a hit song called "Take That Look Off Your Face." But no one thought initially of bringing it to the stage. At the same time, Lloyd Webber had composed a series of variations on the A minor Caprice by Paganini for his cellist brother, Julian, to perform. They, too, had been recorded and proved highly successful. Sleep wanted to turn them into a dance piece. Somehow this all came together in 1983 when — with the help of Canadian-born director John Caird — a piece called Song and Dance opened in London's West End. The first act was the "song" part, basically a reworked version of Tell Me on a Sunday. The second act was the "dance" — Lloyd Webber's Paganini variations, with Sleep leading a small company of high-steppers. Except for the thinnest thread about relationships, there was nothing to link the two pieces. Yet it was a huge hit in London. Two years later they moved it to Broadway as a vehicle for Bernadette Peters. The lady herself got great notices, but the show — rewritten and re-choreographed — fared less well and closed within a year. That version represents the only Toronto production to date — a touring company starring Melissa Manchester that played the O'Keefe (now the Hummingbird) for a week in 1987.
Producers Stephen Adler, Trudy Moffat and Glyn Laverick thought the piece was ready for another Toronto viewing, but only if they brought something different to the table. And so they did. First off, they got Sleep to do the choreography, drawing on his past knowledge of the show and his new ideas. As well, Sleep has two dancing aces up his sleeve this time around. Evelyn Hart has enjoyed a distinguished 30-year career as a prima ballerina in many of the world's top companies, although for most of her career she was connected with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Now she's leaping into a new theatrical arena. “When I was 11, I went to Stratford and thought `this is what I want to do.' Even when I was a dancer, I always approached my roles as theatre," says Hart, 50. "I believe in movement, acting and thought, all mixed together." In recent years, she confesses, "I've had a lot of problems with my ankle. I wanted to make a transition to something a little less worrisome." The relatively light technical demands of Song and Dance seemed a heaven-sent opportunity to her. "When the opportunity came up, and I heard Rex was there, I thought `Well, it'll be a chance to dance with someone I adore and it's bound to be a lot of fun.'" She laughs, "Might as well finish with a splash, right?" Rex Harrington has also been going through some transitions of his own. The 43-year-old dancer left the National Ballet of Canada in 2004 after spending 20 years with the company. "At first, it was very challenging," he concedes, "but I thought I'd just take a leap of faith and see where I landed." Since then, he's kept busy with an assortment of stage and TV work, but he's had some trouble adjusting to the freelance mindset. "At first you think `Oh God, I'll never work again!' When you've had steady employment for 20 years, to wait for the phone to ring is knuckle-biting. But then you realize that's the life of an actor." Harrington is "thrilled to be doing Song and Dance," both with Hart, whom he's frequently partnered, and with Pitre who "I've adored on stage in everything I've ever seen her do." It's a bit of a mutual admiration society. Says Pitre: "This is one of the best jobs I've ever had. I sing great songs for an hour, then get to sit in the wings, drink a glass of wine and watch geniuses like Rex and Evelyn while they dance. It doesn't get any better." Pitre has never sung Lloyd Webber's music before, but she's enjoying it because "it's from his earlier period, which I really like. Anyone who can write `Gethsemane' is A-okay in my book." But isn't it hard to stand on stage and rip your guts out, night after night, with an assortment of torch ballads about having a broken heart? "Hell, no," she snorts, "that's been my life. I know all about it. It feels so good now because I'm so happy with my husband Joe (Matheson). There's nothing better than to pretend your heart's broken for a few minutes, remember it deeply and fully, then get back to a genuinely joyous life." "It's great to really crawl, but then you leap up again." Which sounds like a perfect description of the activity in both acts of Song and Dance.
Mathilde: 'Who Am I Now? What Changes Are Ahead?'
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Sarah Hampson
(May 6, 2006) Beware the middle-aged woman. She will not go silently into the night. She will divorce her toxic husband. She will pierce her belly button. She will buy her own diamonds. She will have affairs with younger men. And she will refuse to don the uniform and helmet hairstyle of The Frump, that wide-hipped creature their mothers became once they hit 50. Mathilde, a play by French playwright Véronique Olmi that opened this week at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, is an exploration of the mind and motivations of a 48-year-old writer who was so desperate for a shift in her life, to know something new, that she had an affair with a 15-year-old boy. The play begins as she returns home to her husband after spending three months in jail for her crime. Martha Burns, who plays the title character opposite Tom McCamus, knew immediately that she had to take the part when director Kelly Thornton sent her the English translation over a year ago. "The reason I got excited by the play was not the sensational part, even though that's been the reason for a lot of press attention, but because the play goes deeper than that," says Burns, who is 49. "Part of our fascination is looking at middle-aged women -- how middle-aged women are demanding to be looked at, demanding to be seen in a different way. And it's about what's happening now. The conversations that I have with my girlfriends are always about 'Who am I now? What changes are ahead?' The character in this has such a need for big change in her life, and she grabs it, and it's the wrong choice, really, but I empathize and sympathize with that feeling of 'I need to change something.' This idea of having an invitation in another direction is very appealing." She allows herself a long sigh and whisks her light red hair off her face. "Maybe that's just me," she says, turning her blue eyes back to me. "I have a fear of not being able to do something else or do something new or not being tested." The nature of marriage, which the play also explores, was another fascination for Burns, one of Canada's most revered stage actors. Last year, the two-time Dora Mavor Moore Award winner was the recipient of the Barbara Hamilton Award, given annually to "legends" in Canadian show business. But in her dressing room after a Mathilde rehearsal, without makeup and dressed in casual clothes, Burns is tiny, pixie-like. She moves in an animated manner, eager to explain her thinking, and the lives and ideas her work allows her to enter and try to understand.
"In the play, there's this really honest exploration of what happens between a man and a woman, when their relationship is on the brink," she says. "These are two people who are really grappling with big questions. Why are we together? How could you do this to me? How can I make you understand my need and how can I try to understand yours? "This is the constant struggle of marriage, it seems to me," she continues, acknowledging that the meaning of marriage and love are also part of the discourse in popular culture. "I think we're all interested in the issue of how do very different people manage to stay together. How do any two people stay together at all?" She pauses. "It seems like a miracle," she concludes, shaking her head. Burns slips between intellectual intensity and girlish flippancy, as though they're favourite costumes. Martha burns, but she also giggles. For 18 years, she has been married to actor-writer-director Paul Gross (Due South, Men With Brooms), who is as close to an in-Canada celebrity as you can get. Together they have two children, aged 16 and 12. Asked what it has been like to balance their two careers with the demands of family, she laughs and makes a confession. "I don't think we were particularly good at it when we were younger," she says, grimacing for effect. "We struggled, and there was resentment and chaos. But we balance and juggle everything better now." Gross, who works at their home in Toronto's Summerhill neighbourhood, helps with cooking and driving the children, she offers. They have also learned to say no to some projects that would take them away from home at the same time.
Last year, they performed opposite each other in Slings and Arrows, the Gemini-nominated comedy that ran for two seasons on The Movie Network. Gross played Geoffrey Tennant, a legendary egomaniac in a troubled Shakespearean theatre company. Burns portrayed the company's leading lady, who was also his ex. "It was great fun," she laughs. "We got to take our dissatisfactions with each other and play that to the hilt. It was really fun to work with him, partly because we're older now and more patient with one another." They first met in 1983 when they were both cast in Walsh, a play at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Despite the draw of family, acting is an opportunity for transformation that she feels compelled to pursue, Burns says, returning to her serious mood. In her almost 30-year career, she has acted at the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, the National Arts Centre, Toronto's Soulpepper, of which she's a founding member, and the Vancouver Playhouse, where she attended theatre school. "Always what appeals to me when I'm making a decision about whether to do a play is how much of a reach it is," she says. "Mathilde is a reach, but she's also very close to me, which is interesting." Burns craves the discomfort of feeling she might not be up to the challenge. Is she insecure? She pauses over the question, as if it's a traffic accident that both fascinates and repels her. "Maybe it's the nature of the challenge you give yourself," she answers slowly. "There's the desire of a big challenge, and then coming to face it, and part of the thing you want to feel is 'I'm not sure I can do this.' " She sighs again, shifts in her chair and adds, with a small, wicked smile: "And that must be part of the addiction." "You choose to do a play that will change your life," she continues. "It's part of why you are an actor. What character you perform and the people you work with are going to make you see differently." And has her acting career changed her? "I hope so. I hope I'm more empathetic. I hope I'm more tolerant. If I choose to play a part like Mathilde, I really have the task of being someone who did something I do not think I would do. But you can't judge the people you play. You just have to love them." With interesting parts, Burns feels young every time she steps upon the stage. Still, age does have some benefits. "You do get better at telling yourself to wise up and get over yourself, and realize that your insecurities are getting boring," she says, giggling.
Born in Winnipeg, Martha Burns is the middle of three children. Her father was CEO of Great West Life; her mother, a housewife.
Why she loves going back to her hometown: "Living in Toronto, there's such a glut of cultural events going on. There's so much to choose from. In Winnipeg, there's less. I grew up with less, so you appreciate stuff more. I love going back to Winnipeg and talking to people about how excited they are about getting a new arena. What we forget here in the Land of Everything, where you bounce from one thing to the next, is how fantastic it is to see some great exhibition at an art gallery."
Sparkling Musical Buoyed Its Creators
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian
(May 6, 2006) "What a swell party this is!" sing the cast of High Society, which opens tonight at the Shaw Festival. Katherine Hepburn, Cole Porter and playwright Philip Barry all had a hand in its creation of this champagne musical and their sophistication clearly shines through. But what makes their contribution especially fascinating is that it came out of periods of doubt and despair that plagued this seemingly starry trio. It all began with Barry. The man whose plays would eventually epitomize the upper ends of WASP society was born to middle-class Irish-Catholic parents in 1896 in Rochester, N.Y. Although he showed a passion for writing early on, it wasn't until he studied at Harvard with the famous George Pierce Baker (whose other students included Eugene O'Neill) that he discovered a knack for playwriting. One of his student plays, The Splits, made it onto Broadway in 1923 as You and I and enjoyed a successful run. By then, Barry had married Ellen Semple, the daughter of a rich banker, which enabled him to start living in style, with a villa in Cannes where he spent most of his time. He spun off a series of successful light comedies about the smart set, including Paris Bound and Holiday, but Barry had deeper yearnings, which Broadway didn't share. He wrote a series of serious quasi-religious plays about man, religion and destiny with titles like Hotel Universe and Here Come the Clowns, which were quick failures. By 1938, his reputation as a purveyor of successful comedy was severely damaged.
But then he met Katherine Hepburn. The actress with the elegant neck and mockable voice had been born into Connecticut society in 1907. She was on stage by the age of 21 and made her first film, A Bill of Divorcement, when she was only 25. An Oscar followed in 1933 for Morning Glory and Hepburn seemed to be launched on a stunning career. But subsequent flop movies like Break of Hearts and Sylvia Scarlett — as well as her own spiky, uncooperative personality led to Hepburn being labelled "box-office poison" by the industry in 1938. It was just around this time that she met Barry, while working on the film version of his play Holiday. They not only became close friends, but they realized they could help each other. Barry wanted to return to the high comedies that had made his reputation and Hepburn had decided that only a smash Broadway show could help take the curse off her career. It was in just such a state of mutual determination that Barry wrote The Philadelphia Story, crafting the role of Tracy Lord specifically for Hepburn. It opened on Broadway in March, 1939 to rave reviews, but what really sealed its future was Hepburn's canny business decision to buy the film rights (with the help of her then-boyfriend, mogul Howard Hughes). She supervised the movie version even more closely, insisting on the casting of Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, and when it opened in 1940, its success surpassed that of the stage version. It was nominated for six Oscars and won two, although Hepburn, alas, wasn't one of the winners. About a decade later, MGM Studios, then riding high on a tide of song and dance successes, decided to turn The Philadelphia Story into a musical, which it christened High Society. Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby headed the all-star cast, and the studio turned to Cole Porter for the music. Porter's career at this point has gone through all the reversals Barry and Hepburn had known, and then some. Born of a rich Midwestern family in 1901, Porter was a moneyed playboy who gave the impression of writing Broadway scores in his spare time in between the parties he threw in his Venetian palazzo.
He was also a closeted homosexual who was married devotedly for many years to the elegant Linda Lee Thomas. At the height of his Broadway success in 1937, he had a horseback riding accident that crushed both of his legs and left him in pain the rest of his life. And although he was to have a huge success with his 1948 musical Kiss Me Kate, the general feeling was that the parade had passed Porter by. His beloved Linda had died in 1954, Porter had slipped into a major depression and his overall health was poor when he was asked to write the score for High Society. Still the material cast the same spell on him that it had on Barry and Hepburn, enabling him to come up with some of his most sparkling melodies and wittiest lyrics. He even managed to score a giant hit with his Oscar-nominated ballad, True Love. There would be a few more minor projects before his death in 1964, but High Society was the last great success of Cole Porter's career. Barry, Hepburn, Porter. Three artists "on the ropes" who came back when it mattered, proving that in show business, as well as in boxing, a champion is someone who is ready not just before the bell rings, or just after it rings, but at that precise moment when the fateful gong sounds.
Youth Theatre Not High-School Shows
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter
(May 9, 2006) Kate Lai juggles her love of theatre with high school, doing her homework at lunch, after school and on the drive from Mississauga to rehearsals in downtown Toronto. James Graham likes to leave behind the all-male, upper-crust environment of Upper Canada College to work with other people his own age across the Greater Toronto Area from a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Both are members of Toronto Youth Theatre and in the cast of its third production, Urinetown, which runs until Saturday. Co-artistic director David Galpern makes it clear that while his young charges are still in their teens, the still relatively new company isn't doing high-school theatre. "What we have to convince people of is that youth theatre isn't high-school theatre. It's not mom and dad have made a costume and they've cut out a cardboard box and called it a set," Galpern said. With a production budget of between $150,000 and $200,000, and a professional crew, "these are serious shows," Galpern said. "We always try to do plays they don't do in high school. We don't want to do Bye Bye Birdie and Grease and ... the same five plays," Galpern said. Getting the theatre board to approve the company's first production, The Rocky Horror Show — with its depiction of sex and mature themes — wasn't easy. They were won over following its April 2005 debut. A pastor was brought in to provide some background for the second production, Jesus Christ Superstar, because of the range of cultural and religious backgrounds of the 40 or so young actors, some of whom didn't know the story, Galpern said.
Urinetown, playing at the Charles and Marilyn Baillie Theatre in the Distillery Historic District, similarly raised eyebrows. But Galpern said his young cast is up to the task. "We've got this amazing group of kids that want to come here and be challenged and become better people," he said. Lai, 16, a student at Lorne Park Secondary School in Mississauga, said the company includes those from across the GTA who have few other options in pursuit of serious theatre training. "There aren't a lot of theatre (companies) who support people who are younger," Lai said. "This is not at all like a high-school production. Not only does everybody want to be here, but there's more people who are more talented," she added. "This is exactly what I was looking for,'' said Graham. ``At UCC (Upper Canada College), you get tired of the same socio-economic background, the same gender every single day, the same personality types." Andrew Fleming, a senior partner at Ogilvy Renault, a corporate law and tax-consulting firm, joined the theatre board after seeing a production. And Kelly Meighen, chair of the board of governors of the Stratford Festival, recently joined the advisory board. Galpern said the young actors pay a $300 fee that covers a fraction of actual costs. Plus they must adhere to a code of conduct. "We are very, very strict on how the kids behave. We treat them like professionals and we expect them to behave like professionals," Galpern said. "They get access to real professionals who won't treat them as children. The only thing that's different between us and the professional shows is that they get to run longer," he added. The theatre company's ambition is to become Canada's national company for young actors. In the United Kingdom, the national youth theatre employs 5,000 people, involving 30,000 young people with an audience of one million annually, Galpern said.
Playwright Albee Chats At Canstage Festival
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic
(May 8, 2006) Who's afraid of Edward Albee? Not Fiona Reid. The Canadian actress will be conducting a "public conversation" with the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who penned such classics as Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Jane Mallett Theatre as the flagship event of CanStage's Festival of Ideas and Creation. This series of private workshops and public forums runs through Saturday and is intended to focus on theatre "process and exchange." A number of local playwrights have been invited to participate in a series of master classes covering all forms of dramatic development with writers like Sharon Pollock, Ann Mortifee, Leslie Arden, Joe Penhall and Judith Thompson offering their expertise. Many of the same authors will be participating in the public events as well. "Culture Clash" is a series of freewheeling discussions on various aspects of the form: dramaturgy, the business of playwriting, process and critical examination. These events occur today to Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Upstairs Theatre, 26 Berkeley St. and at noon on Friday in the building's front lobby. The rest of the series of public conversations takes place at 8:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Upstairs Theatre. Tonight features Pollock and Paula Vogel; tomorrow is Thompson and Penhall, and Wednesday highlights Denise Clark and Daniel Brooks. Admission is $15 per event; information and tickets can be obtained by going to http://festival.canstage.com or call 416-368-3110.
Maclean's Take On Thomsons Rare
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Antonia Zerbisias
(May 9, 2006) The only way to control your press is to own it. That, with apologies to A.J. Liebling, sums up the situation in Canada, where our family compact of media moguls manages to escape a great deal of the personal scrutiny that typically befalls lesser mortals. Whether the name is Rogers or Shaw, Thomson (Bell Globemedia) or Asper (CanWest Global), Desmarais (Power Corp.) or Péladeau (Quebecor), trust that they will get mostly no-press-is-good-press treatment of domestic squabbles, drugs, drinking and other vices. (Not to leave out the five families who control the Star, but they're not nearly as colourful or wealthy as the aforementioned clans.) We rarely report on our own proprietors, not unless they do some do-gooding and pose with giant cheques. This has been great for Frank magazine, the scurrilous rag that ventures where no reputable papers go. In it, you'll learn of newspaper editors socking their spouses and media owners cheating on their wives. You know, stuff we'd report in a heartbeat on other famous or influential figures — as long as they don't sit on our boards. But all's fair in a newspaper war. Conrad Black, even at the height of his power, was the target of vicious coverage by his competitors. Of course, much of that he invited, with his battles with former prime minister Jean Chrétien, his apparent attempt to oust the federal Liberals from power by launching the National Post and his flamboyant lifestyle with the breathtaking Barbara Amiel by his side. In the past year, David Asper has made news — if you could call it that — because of a legal dispute with his children's nanny and an angry outburst at a football stadium. These were not stories you saw in the Post. Even when the stories are straight business, they aren't always straight. Take the departure of our former publisher John Honderich in 2004. First we got scooped on that by the Globe and Mail. Then we carried a lengthy news story, followed by mournful columns from Rosie DiManno and myself. But we did not have the goods on exactly what happened, and why. I wasn't censored. Nor did I censor myself. I just couldn't get the goods. And if anybody at any other paper had the entire story, it wasn't published in full, at least not to my knowledge.
All of which was why the Maclean's 11-page cover opus last week — "The Thomsons are worth $23.8 billion ... and they're just a little bit strange" — came as such a shock. A double shock if you consider that Rogers Communications, which owns Maclean's, shares a board member with Thomson Corp. in the person of high-powered lawyer John A. Tory. It's a complex look at the children of Ken Thomson, who inherited the title Baron Thomson of Fleet from his father Roy, as in the concert hall. It presents horror tales from the baronial manor you won't have seen outside the pages of Frank — although I bet that many of them came from sources within the mainstream media who didn't report them. Understand that the Thomsons are notoriously difficult to get at. As Maclean's points out, the family's holding company has "assets that, pending regulatory approval, will include 40 per cent of Bell Globemedia, owner of the Globe and Mail, CTV Inc., 15 specialty channels and 15 per cent of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. The family upped its BGM ownership stake in December, bringing them into partnership with Torstar ..." A centrepiece of the Maclean's article is Ken's daughter Taylor (formerly Lynne) Thomson's alleged dealings with Hollywood detective Anthony Pellicano after her former nanny from California sided against her in a child custody dispute. Although the difficulties of Pellicano, recently indicted on racketeering charges, have made big headlines everywhere, including in wire reports carried by the Star (although with no mention of Thomson), it's only made the Globe twice. At least citizens can count on the rivalry between papers to out versions of the truth. Sometimes.
In March for example, the Post carried a ginormous front page picture of Taylor Thomson and a "matcher'' of a recent Los Angeles Times story on the scandal. The paper also recently hired political strategist Warren Kinsella to write about the media — although his main purpose seems to be to attack the Star. Meanwhile, the Globe gleefully reports on the Asper antics, while I try to dis everybody. So, in a way, we have a system of checks and balances: we scratch your eyes out, you scratch ours. The one thing none of us counted on was Maclean's, which in the past year under Ken Whyte has morphed from a comfortable member of the establishment media to a magazine determined to pull the Persian rug out from under it. And this is the best news of all.
Canada To Get Own Edition Of More Magazine
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(May 5, 2006) Toronto — Transcontinental Inc., which publishes Homemakers, Canadian Living and Elle Canada, among other titles, announced yesterday that it would launch a Canadian edition of More magazine in the spring of 2007. Dianne Reinhart, former editor of Homemakers and former associate editor of Flare, has been named editor-in-chief of the magazine, whose target audience is women above the age of 40. Although past attempts to produce a magazine for older women have failed spectacularly, Reinhart says that won't happen again: "It's a great time for this in Canada. Women in this age group have been ignored, it's time to make them visible again and advertisers are ready." Reinhart is clear that her vision for the new magazine -- which will offer features on health, beauty, fashion, food and lifestyle, finance, foreign and national affairs, the arts and travel -- will be quite different from the U.S. More. "It will be a completely Canadian edition," she said.
In And Out At Lobby
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Amy Pataki
(May 6, 2006) In March, I wrote about the sea change at Lobby, the Yorkville bar that had become a serious restaurant thanks to new management and a hot chef. The chef, Robert Bragagnolo, remains but the management, well, that's a different story. John Gay, veteran manager of Scaramouche and Susur, has left after seven months as general manager. Most of his staff is gone, too. Gay, who says he was hired to turn Lobby around, says "(the owners) must have figured `We got him to do what we wanted, now we can get rid of him,'" He's working on opening his own restaurant. But Lobby co-owner Corey Mandell hopes the departures will fill seats. The menu's appeal has been broadened and "we don't want to jeopardize the integrity of the chef." Bragagnolo's tasting menus require a fine-dining atmosphere, hard to pull off when Lobby's core clientele favour cocktails in the lounge. Bragagnolo's contract ends Jan. 31, 2007.
Ricky To Toe Argos' Line?
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Morgan Campbell, Sports Reporter
(May 5, 2006) The Argos are still eager to sign Ricky Williams, but won't sacrifice the team's reputation to do it, says team president Keith Pelley. The team claimed Williams' CFL rights last week, soon after he received a year-long ban from the NFL for his fourth positive drug test in six years. Pelley wouldn't comment on Williams' past and current drug problems. He did say, however, that the team wouldn't sign Williams unless he understands that he needs to fit in with the Argos' public image as role models for local youth. "First and foremost it's the Argo brand," Pelley said. "We have built this brand based on being the No. 1 sports community team and we will do nothing to jeopardize that." Pelley confirmed that team officials spoke yesterday to Williams' agent, Leigh Steinberg, but were no closer to meeting with the former NFL star. Pelley said it's too early to form an opinion on Williams' character, or how he would function in the CFL, which doesn't test for drugs. He said he'd have to meet Williams first. And that hinges on the Miami Dolphins granting Williams a release. "All that might never happen if Miami says `no' in the next hour," Pelley said.
A league spokesperson said yesterday that commissioner Tom Wright won't comment on Williams's positive drug tests unless the Dolphins grant him a release to play in the CFL. "Until that happens there's nothing to discuss," said CFL spokesperson Jamie Dykstra. Williams won't have to worry about drug suspensions if he comes to Canada. Unlike the NFL, the CFL doesn't test its players for drugs. When the league and the CFL players association enter a new collective contract 15 days from now, drug testing won't be a part the deal. Dykstra said the CFL is committed to instituting a drug plan, but is still consulting with other leagues on how to draft a comprehensive policy. It's also still trying to find the money. "There's no point putting in a drug testing policy unless it's effective, and that requires capital," he said. Paul Melia, president of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport says drug screenings cost about $450 per test, but says many factors can reduce the price, including the number of tests required. The centre conducts drug testing for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Melia said the centre has proposed drug programs to the CFL before. Even after the league comes up with a drug policy, Dykstra said, it wouldn't take effect until both the board of governors and the players' association approved it.
Tiger Woods’ Father Dies Of Cancer
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(May 4, 2006) *Earl Woods, the father of golf legend Tiger Woods, died early Wednesday at his home in Cypress, California. He was 74. "I'm very saddened to share the news of my father's passing at home early this morning," his son, 30, said on his official Web site. "My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply. …I'm overwhelmed when I think of all of the great things he accomplished in his life. He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I wouldn't be where I am today without him, and I'm honoured to continue his legacy of sharing and caring.” Tiger spent the last week with his father after returning from a trip to New Zealand, where he attended the wedding of his caddie Steve Williams. In March, he skipped the final practice day for the Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida to spend time with him. A former Green Beret, Earl Woods was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998. Radiation therapy had eradicated the disease until 2004, when it returned and caused lesions on his back and a tumour behind his left eye. After more radiation, he went into remission last year before his condition again deteriorated.
6 Fitness Truths
By Raphael Calzadilla B.A., CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
(May 5, 2006) Over the years I've written several fitness myths and tips columns. In a quest to simplify things for you, I've decided to provide my favourite ones. If someone said to me that they needed to get in shape and only wanted six tips to carry them through thick and thin, these would be the top six. In essence, there would be times when this person would get stuck, experience boredom, question why something isn't working, etc. They would then simply come back to the top six and review them. From a workout perspective, I'd be willing to bet they'll find the solution to their issue.
1. Exercise does not require a hefty time commitment. The number of days you work out does not constitute level of fitness. I see a lot of people in the gym five to six days a week, and they’d be better off playing ping pong. Consistency and level of effort is the key. I'd rather see someone work out three days per week with enthusiasm and intensity, than five inconsistent days of lackadaisical effort.
In addition, long workouts are counterproductive. Numerous studies prove that more than one hour of an intense workout increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that, among other things, will assist in destroying muscle. Obviously an elite athlete has to work beyond this mark, but I am referring to the average workout enthusiast.
2. Change your workout. There is no best and only way to work out. In reality, it's all good if it works for you, but you don’t want to stay with any of it for too long. The body will adapt to any exercise routine in approximately four to six weeks. The body will become efficient at any workout you give it. At that point, it becomes time to change the workout and get the body challenged again. The muscular system and cardiovascular system need to re-learn new movements when you change a workout. That’s when progress accelerates.
3. "No Pain, No Gain" is a myth. There is absolutely no reason to cause pain in the gym. Natural progression is a smart method to ensure progress. This refers to slow and systematic increases in weight training, gradual increases in cardiovascular endurance and slow but steady flexibility progression.
"No pain, no gain" will only put you at risk for injury and diminish your ability to use precise exercise form. I'm not saying you shouldn't challenge yourself, only that you should not view your workout as a form of punishment.
4. Weight-training musts. Vary the volume of sets, time between sets, reps, exercises, etc. Manipulate your routine every three to four weeks and view change as the key constant. Performing the same workout for months is ineffective. You have to not only challenge your muscles but change the adaptation. This takes time to learn, but once you get used to changing your workout every three to four weeks you’ll make great progress.
Beginners should follow a structured program such as eDiets fitness program, which provides a full-body workout on three alternate days per week. This will help to provide a foundation for future progress.
5. Cardiovascular tips. We've been taught that performing cardiovascular exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at a target heart rate of 60 to 80 percent is a great way to lose fat. Yes, it can be. But, what do you do when you know it’s not working anymore?
One of the methods I've found successful is interval training. Interval training is best described as incorporating higher-intensity exercise with lower intensity. This method helps stimulate and speed metabolism. Intervals can be applied to any form of cardiovascular exercise and although it's been a widely used technique for training competitive athletes since the '50s, the concept grew into mainstream fitness in the '90s.
The beauty of interval training is that you don't have to work out for long periods. Unless you’re training for a competitive event, anything longer than 25 to 35 minutes is unnecessary, and that includes warm up and cool down.
Let me show you how it's done. The following is a protocol for interval training using the treadmill as an example:
Begin with a warm up of 5 minutes at level 3.0 intensity (3.0 miles per hour):
A. On the 6th minute increase to 4.0 mph (light jog)
B. On the 7th minute increase to 5.0 mph
C. On the 8th minute increase to level 6.5 or 7.0 mph
D. For the next 2 minutes (minutes 9 and 10) return to 3.0 mph
E. Repeat A-D two additional times, but increase the level of intensity one mile per hour on each phase.
F. Cool down for 5 minutes at 3.0 mph
Total workout time (including warm up and cool down: 25 minutes. A-D above represent one cycle. In this example, you perform three cycles of higher-intensity training. If you're at a more advanced fitness level, then you'll need to adjust the speeds and times accordingly to make sure the intensity is somewhat demanding at the higher levels. This workout can be done on the stationary bike, Stairmaster, walking outdoors or using any other form of cardio. For the experienced cardio group, don't think you can jump right into this type of training. Moderation and natural progression are vital. In the morning, you wouldn't get in your car, start it up and immediately try to reach 80 miles an hour. The beauty of this type of training is, based on the fact you have stimulated your metabolism to such a high degree, you continue to burn calories the day after your workout. Most people are obsessed with how many calories are burned during a workout, but one of the keys to losing fat is making sure your body continues to burn lots of calories 24 to 48 hours after the workout. Another way to play with your cardio program is to perform interval training for three weeks, followed by longer duration, moderate cardio for three weeks. I like this method because it avoids the adaptation. As you can see, the key is to keep thinking change after three to six weeks.
6. Mind/Body Exercise. It may not be an exercise tip per se, but we sometimes forget we should move toward activity we enjoy. Exercises such as Pilates, Yoga, stretching and martial arts bridge the gap between simple movement versus movement that also has a calming effect. Even if you don’t venture into this arena, you still want to make sure that you improve your level of flexibility by using a stretching program. As you move toward your goal, you can never forget that dietary consistency will be important. eDiets.com will arrange a healthy and delicious meal plan for you that will place you at low enough calories to shed fat, but high enough to sustain your energy. Combine this with our online fitness plan that provides great workouts as well as my six top tips and you’ll be on your way.
As always, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
A drug-free competitive bodybuilder and 2005 winner of the prestigious WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Pro Card, Raphael Calzadilla is a veteran of the health-and-fitness industry. He specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training. He earned his B.A. in communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics.
Motivational Note: Some days are easy and some days are hard.
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Jewel Diamond Taylor
Today you may feel like you have it all together. Or you may feel like things are falling apart. Life brings both unspeakable pain and unspeakable joy. Life is full of surprises, struggle, success and sadness. Some things you can't change. Some things you can't control. Some things you can't avoid. Some things you can't understand. You may feel like your life is unravelling. There will be things you have to endure. Some things you can change. Some things you can avoid. Some things you can start. Do the best you can with what you have right where you are. Learn ways to strengthen yourself mentally, spiritually, physically, financially and emotionally. Your breakthrough and change will happen. Don't give up.