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Updated:  November 16, 2006

Please noteDATE CHANGE for the opening of Harlem - now Monday, November 27th (not November 20th)!  And please take a moment to consider your fav unsung hero for an AroniAward - details for both below. 

This week's
OPINION is about the famous Janet Jackson - love her or hate her? 

Two significant icons past away this last week -
Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes and, shockingly, the soul teddy bear, Gerald Levert.  See TOP STORIES for more.

opportunities below including the chance to win a trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica




Carl Cassell Opens ‘Harlem’ in Toronto – Monday, November 27*

(Nov. 1, 2006) 
Carl Cassell and Carl Allen (also of Irie Food Joint) invite you to join them to the grand opening of ‘Harlem’ on Monday, November 27th!  The official opening is Saturday, November 25th so YOU get the opportunity to have the sneak peek on November 27th of Carl Cassell's second restaurant and music venue!  Harlem is Carl’s new landmark restaurant-bar and benchmark of Northern cool which is located at 67 Richmond St E., the corner of Richmond and Church Streets.  Doors open for the launch at 7:00 pm. 

“I’m focusing on the renaissance going on in Toronto,” says Cassell. “It’s fully on. There’s a kind of pleasure in inventing, creating something new and changing the energy of a building.”  Situated in the hub of city movement, the grand opening of Harlem will add polish to an area already carving out new urban development. But no development is ever complete without the social and cultural contributions of the colourful class.  You’ll find it all passing though Harlem.

“I now have a space to house my vanguards, literally and figuratively,” says Cassell.  The second floor hosts a fully wired space which will feature the magnificent spin compositions of Toronto's finest DJ and co-owner
Carl Allen.  Immersed in sound, you’ll discover delectable food for thought and good taste, all steeped within Harlem's break-through artistic backdrop.  “We’ll have the best of Toronto’s DJs,” says Allen. “Expect a combination of live music and the DJ, and the focus will be on a lot of local talent.”

Want to check out the latest hot spot in Toronto to hang out?  Come and check out the grand opening of Harlem on Monday, November 27th!

* Previously scheduled for Monday, November 20th

67 Richmond Street E. (at Church St.)
Doors open at 7:00 pm

2006 AroniAwards Gala -  Sunday, December 10

nominate :: participate :: celebrate

Help us honour the unsung heroes of our community who continue to work in their respective fields, with a dedication to social harmony.  

Join AroniAwards Foundation, the Harmony Movement, and Canada’s premier entertainers for an inspirational evening to empower our youth.

nominate :: participate :: celebrate

If one word could be used to describe what the Aroni awards means to our community – it would be “Inspirational".  The award will strive to inspire people – especially the young to reach for the stars, hence their greatest potential.  Aron was a forward thinker and a free spirit who always saw the glass as being half full, and never failed to see the potential in people – even when they didn’t see it in themselves. The award will honour individuals who exemplify through their work what
Aron Y. Haile epitomized during his short life. 

I N S P I R E  

Atlantis Pavilions
955 Lakeshore Blvd. 
4:00 pm-11:00 pm 
(Online $50 Early Bird  Tickets Almost Sold Out)


Do You Love Janet?

Say what you will about
Ms. Jackson, I just love her ability to re-invent herself!  She is one of the few artists that I actually screamed for during the concert - ok, it was 1990, but still ... it was the Rhythm Nation tour.  I know.  I can feel all the rolling of eyes as I write but hey, I'm just a fan.

For instance, one of her latest videos, So Excited, is an example of what I consider sexy without all the bumpin' and the grindin' in so many of the music videos taking over the small screen.  You can always count on Janet to give a full out show including new choreography and new concepts in technology, much like her brother, Michael (remember?). 

Quite often the balance and pure entertainment value of a well-choreographed concert or video is underwritten as trying to hide a lesser talented artist but I, for one, appreciate the attention to detail.  It certainly is more interesting to me than watching some of the videos out there today.

And that's just my opinion.

Go HERE to check out the video, in case you haven't seen it!

::top stories::

Canadian Russell Peters's Career Was A Modest Success – Until Myspace Boosted Him Into Another League

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Michael Posner

(Nov. 15, 2006) Making your name on the international comedy circuit is no simple matter. Ask
Russell Peters. For years, the Canadian comic hopscotched around the globe, slowly building a profile in Britain and Asia. And by most standards, he did very well. Exploiting a gift for foreign accents and making gentle mockery of ethnic and cultural stereotypes, Peters, 36 -- the son of Indian immigrants, born and raised in Brampton, Ont. -- toured widely, a solid performer with an engaging conversational style. He wasn't exactly rich, but in a tough business, he was a bona-fide success story. But in July, 2003, an event occurred that was to boost Peters to another level. The event had nothing to do, per se, with Peters or even with comedy, but its effect on his career has been electric. The event was the launch of, a communal website that allowed Internet users to share just about everything. Among the things they started sharing were video clips of Peters's performances. Soon, tens of thousands of users were watching the clips and posting comments. Of course, MySpace was soon joined by and in no time at all Russell Peters couldn't walk down the street in Los Angeles, where he now resides, without being stopped by fans. Not that he minds. It is, he says, the best part about becoming something of a celebrity. Web exposure has simply whetted demand. In the coming weeks, Peters will play in Chicago and New York, followed by a seven-city tour of Australia. Many of these dates are already sold out. When he played London's Hammersmith Apollo venue last month (capacity 3,700 people), it was standing room only. Torontonians will have a chance to see him, briefly, when he appears at a benefit performance on Nov. 20 for Gilda's Club, which supports people living with cancer. The evening, hosted by Eugene Levy, also features Eric McCormack, Jann Arden, Sandra Shamas, Sean Cullen, Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood. Meanwhile, Peters's new DVD, Outsourced, based on his Comedy Central special that aired in August, is a very hot number.

It's gone quadruple platinum in Canada -- that's more than 40,000 units -- in a matter of weeks. He has bought himself a new Porsche Cayenne and has remodelled his house overlooking Los Angeles. "I'm living the Canadian dream," he acknowledged when I caught up with him recently by telephone as Peters was sitting down for a 3 p.m. brunch, having done a show the previous night at L.A.'s Wiltern Theater (45 bucks a pop) and having been up until 5 a.m. "I'm feeling pretty good about it all. There's no downside. I'm sitting outside in California and it's 93 degrees." Peters's new status has taken his income to new levels as well. "I don't want to toot my own horn," he says, "but beep, beep, you know. I didn't see it coming, in the same way the industry did not see me coming." He's about to make the network rounds again in Hollywood for talks about a possible sitcom. Earlier discussions with Fox fell through. Peters seems reconciled to the roulette wheel that governs TV decisions. "It is like goldfish," he says. "If one doesn't make it, you go out and get another one." And he's busy enough with his stand-up career that if no TV deal materializes, he wouldn't complain. In the United States, he has even slowed the pace of his appearances, performing now mainly on weekend dates. But with his international gigs, he says he's still onstage 180 to 200 nights a year. The downtime is spent either writing or in meetings to discuss his career. His older brother, Clayton, is his manager. "It's in the family. You know how my people do." As a comic, Peters's strength is taking real-life situations -- for example, his mother's attempts to find him a nice girl -- and giving them a nice comic twist. "A nice girl," he says at the end, "is one that goes home in the morning."

Despite his mother's best efforts, Peters has never married. "I don't know if that's the road for me," he says. "I love women too much to marry them." He's not afraid to poke fun at Asians, their accents, idiosyncrasies and predilections. "Lots of Asians in the audience tonight, I see," he'll say. "Nice. Of course, I knew that from all the Honda Civics in the parking lot."  But the humour is so light and free of rancour that it gives no offence. Indeed, the more he mocks them, the more they seem to want. "The most common comment I get from audiences is that they're happy someone has finally recognized them. I guess they feel like an invisible minority. "So I get, like, 'Hey Russell, when are you going to do some Cambodian jokes?' . . . Okay, I'll get right on it." Peters's parents emigrated to Canada from Calcutta in 1964. He grew up in a mixed-race neighbourhood and encountered more than his share of racism. But while it bothered him, he found humour an effective antidote. "More annoying than funny" as a kid, Peters made his debut -- "on a Tuesday night in November" -- at Mark Breslin's Toronto Yuk Yuks club 17 years ago. He was 19. "I was horrendous, but I got enough giggles that I wanted to do it again. Mark was very good to me, very gracious. He let me get onstage as often as I needed to."

We Remember Gerald Levert

Excerpt from

(November 10, 2006) *R&B singer Gerald Levert, the son of legendary O'Jays singer Eddie Levert, has died of a heart attack at his home in Newbury, Ohio, his label Atlantic Records has confirmed. He was 40. "All of us at Atlantic are shocked and deeply saddened by his untimely death,” read a statement from the label. “He was one of the greatest voices of our time, who sang with unmatched soulfulness and power, as well as a tremendously gifted composer and an accomplished producer."  Dan Bomeli, public relations manager at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center in suburban Cleveland, said Levert had been brought to the hospital, but he would give no further details, reports the Associated Press. Levert’s family told Cleveland’s Channel 3 News it appears the singer died in his sleep. Per Wikipedia: Gerald Levert (born July 13, 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio) was one of several from the musical Levert family. His father, Eddie Levert, is the lead singer of the 1970s soul group The O'Jays. Gerald Levert sang with his brother, Sean Levert, and Marc Gordon in the R&B trio LeVert. He was also part of an R&B musical group comprised of legendary R&B artist Keith Sweat, Johnny Gill and himself called LSG.  During the 1980s and early 1990s, LeVert scored big hits with "Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop (Goes My Mind),” “Casanova," and "ABC-123." As a solo artist, Gerald's hits included "I'd Give Anything (to Fall in Love)," "You Got That Love," and "Mr. Too Damn Good to You."  Gerald and Eddie collaborated together on many different occasions, and they recorded an album called “Father and Son” together.  Gerald Levert also sang the chorus on the Chris Rock spoken-word comedy piece, "No Sex (In the Champagne Room)."  In 2005, Levert's daughter Carlysia was featured on an episode of MTV's “My Super Sweet Sixteen.” Levert is survived by four children.

R&B Star Gerald Levert Dies Of Heart Attack

Excerpt from - Gail Mitchell, L.A.

(Nov. 10, 2006) Popular R&B singer
Gerald Levert died today (Nov. 10) of a heart attack in his hometown of Cleveland. The artist turned 40 years old in July. The son of O'Jays lead singer Eddie Levert, Levert emerged from his father's shadow to become a well-regarded singer/songwriter and producer in his own right.  Some 20 years after notching his first R&B hit with "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind," Levert's warm, sensual voice remained a concert draw, especially among female fans who rushed the stage to grab -- and sometimes wrestle over -- the teddy bears he would toss into the audience.  The artist came to national attention as a member of Atlantic Records' Levert, comprised of his brother Sean and friend Marc Gordon. The trio scored with the aforementioned "Pop" in 1986. Next came the No. 1 R&B/No. 5 pop hit "Casanova" in 1987, followed by three more R&B chart-toppers, "Addicted to You," "Just Coolin'" featuring Heavy D and "Baby I'm Ready" in 1991.  Also in 1991, Levert launched his solo career with the EastWest album "Private Line," whose title track notched No. 1 on the R&B charts. A second No. 1 R&B single, "Baby Hold on to Me," arrived the following year.

Levert went on to record eight solo albums, the most recent being 2004's "Do I Speak for the World?" "Voices," a compilation of Levert duets with his dad and other artists, was released last year. Levert was also a member of the group LSG, which included Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill.  Beyond singing, Levert's talents included songwriting and producing. His collaborations included projects with Barry White, Stephanie Mills, Teddy Pendergrass and the Winans. He also co-wrote and co-produced Barry White's last No. 1 R&B hit, 1994's "Practice What You Preach."  "He was one of the greatest voices of our time, who sang with unmatched soulfulness and power, as well as a tremendously gifted composer and an accomplished producer," reads a statement from Atlantic. "Above all, he was an exceptional human being whose warmth and grace inspired us all."

Friends, Family Mourn Loss Of Gerald Levert

Excerpt from

(November 13, 2006) *Eddie Levert spoke briefly to EUR’s Lee Bailey over the weekend about the sudden loss of his son Gerald Levert, who died of a heart attack Friday at his home in Newbury, Ohio.  Levert, who now lives in Las Vegas, was on his way to the family’s Cleveland hometown Saturday when Bailey reached him by phone to offer his condolences.  Their conversation was off the record, at Levert’s request. The shaken O’Jays singer offered to speak with Bailey again, on the record, later this week. In the meantime, Levert’s family issued a statement over the weekend expressing gratitude for all of the prayers and support.  "As everybody knows, Gerald was a man who loved and breathed music,” the statement read. “To his family and friends he was a man of strong character, who had an infectious personality and a zest for life. For his fans, his greatest love was touching the hearts and souls of all people through his music. At this very difficult time, we thank you for your prayers and hope you will understand our need for privacy."  In the days following Gerald Levert’s death, friends and colleagues of the singer are sharing fond memories of his friendship and passion for music.  "It's very sad. He was an amazing talent, obviously," friend and fellow R&B singer Will Downing said. "Gerald was a hard worker. He would go out there and do his thing, and be in places where the folks were. He would touch the people, and that's really what it's all about."

Patti LaBelle, who had worked and recorded with Levert, said he "was like a son" to her and hopes to sing at his funeral.  "He was such a great entertainer. It's not for real to me that he is gone ... Nobody was prepared for this," LaBelle said. R&B singer and friend Freddie Jackson said in a statement: "Gerald Levert was the essence of soul music. His showmanship, authentic vocal style and delivery set the standard for all R&B crooners. Gerald poured his heart and soul into every note, and with his passing, not only R&B, the recording industry has lost one of its greatest gems. Gerald will be deeply missed."  Producer Bow Legged Lou sent the following statement to EUR regarding Levert’s passing: “God bless his friends and family. God bless his legendary father Eddie Levert. Me, my brothers and cousins were fortunate to call G.L. a friend. We worked in the studio together and had great times. He is truly in a better place. A true legend and great fun loving guy was Gerald. The brother was always smiling [and] laughing. A real talented and feel good type of person. God rest his soul. In times like this we all should never take each other for granted, We should all love and care for each other more. We are gonna miss the soul of Gerald Levert but his spirit will live on. We love u G.” The Rhythm and Blues Foundation is also mourning the death of Gerald Levert and offered the following statement:  “Gerald Levert’s respect for the roots of Rhythm and Blues was evident in both his music and philanthropic activities.   He regularly participated in the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Awards, paying tribute in song to his musical heroes.  As an Advisor to the Foundation, Gerald was a powerful role model for his generation of artists as he acknowledged the influence of early Rhythm and Blues performers.” His label, Atlantic Records, commented: "All of us at Atlantic are shocked and deeply saddened by his untimely death. He was one of the greatest voices of our time, who sang with unmatched soulfulness and power, as well as a tremendously gifted composer and an accomplished producer."

Wonder, Gill, Stone To Salute Gerald Levert

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(November 14, 2006) The family of R&B vocalist
Gerald Levert has arranged a public musical tribute for the late singer, who died last week at the age of 40. The Celebration of Life will take place at 12:00 p.m. Friday (Nov. 17) at the Cleveland Music Hall.  Stevie Wonder, Johnny Gill and Angie Stone are among the artists set to perform, as well as Gerald's younger brother Sean, who sung with him as a member of the R&B trio LeVert.  Fans attending the ceremony will be admitted on a first come, first served basis. Donations in Levert's name can be made to the R&B Foundation.  Preliminary autopsy results indicate that mild to moderate heart disease may have been the cause of the singer's death but a final determination may not be available up to eight weeks.  At the time of his death, Levert had finished an as-yet-untitled album, due in February, and wrapped his first book, "I Got Your Back," which he co-wrote with his father Eddie Levert, Sr., and author Lyah LeFlore. The book finds Gerald and Eddie reminiscing about their familial and musical bond.

Ed Bradley, 65, Got The News For 60 Minutes

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jim Bawden, Television Critic,
With Files From AP

(Nov. 10, 2006) What people immediately noticed was
Ed Bradley's quiet authority. Sitting in on an ideas meeting at 60 Minutes, I was impressed by Mike Wallace's iron feistiness, Morley Safer's ironic detachment, Dan Rather's news sense. But it was Bradley on that day who got his next story approved by executive producer Don Hewitt because he'd so thoroughly researched his topic.  Bradley, who died yesterday in New York of leukemia at the age of 65, once described himself as "a newsman who could play all the positions." A self-confessed fitness freak who claimed to do 1,000 abdominal exercises every day, he was hospitalized in 2003 for heart surgery and never fully bounced back.  A product of working class Philadelphia, he was the first black journalist to have a regular post on CBS News. He cut his teeth as a Vietnam war correspondent, suffering a wound in the field. He went on to win 19 Emmys for his reporting, including his most recent one for re-opening the 1955 racially motivated murder case of Emmett Till.  Another recent Bradley coup was his 60 Minutes report on the Duke University sex scandal. "It's what we do here," Bradley told TV critics, seeming surprised that his investigative work should get so much attention. And as always, he thanked his crew on the story, which included a field producer, researchers and several writers.

In the past year Wallace had semi-retired after 39 seasons on 60 Minutes and so had Safer after 37 years. That made Bradley, with his signature earring and close-cropped beard, the elder statesman at last, yet as he hit 65, CBS reduced his workload from 23 to 18 pieces a year. He considered job offers but it wasn't in his heart to ditch CBS, he said.  Nobody a year ago knew Bradley was fighting leukemia. One had to look intently to see he was losing weight. And then he disappeared from 60 Minutes altogether.  He'll be missed. Other Bradley highlights were the only interview with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, a 2000 report on Africans dying with AIDS, his 2001 reporting on the Columbine high school massacre and a 2002 report on sex scandals in the Roman Catholic Church.  Hewitt praised Bradley's ability to put guests at ease, then get them to say what he wanted. In his presence, even the mumbly Bob Dylan got so relaxed, he seemed almost articulate describing how his songwriting changed after the 1960s.  I remember one CBS press bash in New York where Bradley put aside the news to talk about jazz, his enduring passion. He also prized his tickets for the New York Knicks games. Twice divorced, he married artist Patricia Blanchet in 2004 near his vacation home in Aspen.

We Remember Ed Bradley

Excerpt from

(November 10, 2006) *Revered news journalist Ed Bradley, whose trademark salt-and-pepper beard and one earring combined with his award-winning reporting to make him a true journalism star, died of leukemia Thursday at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital. He was 65. A statement from the NAACP remembers a career that canvassed an unequalled array of people and events, which included in particular those issues and personalities of interest to the African American community.   ‘He was on the Gulf Coast quicker than most national news types, filing multiple stories related to the plight of those impacted by Hurricane Katrina,’ notes the NAACP. Most recently he completed a thorough analysis of the Duke University lacrosse team rape case.   Throughout his 26 years with “60 Minutes,” Bradley counted among his many interviews Tiger Woods, Morgan Freeman, and Condoleeza Rice, as well as music legends Miles Davis, Lena Horne and Michael Jackson.  Thoughts on the life and career of the Philadelphia native were offered by many who knew him well or were inspired by his career accomplishments, which included four George Foster Peabody awards and 19 Emmys, the latest for a segment on the reopening of the 50-year-old racial murder case of Emmett Till. Here are just a few:

• NAACP President & CEO Bruce S. Gordon: "Ed Bradley was a world class journalist. He got the stories no one else could get and he covered those stories the way no one else could cover them. The world will miss him as a journalist. I will miss him as a friend."
• BET Chairman and CEO Debra Lee: “Ed Bradley represented a special generation of African-American journalists – one who proudly, but somewhat quietly, carried the mantle of pioneer.  He was the consummate professional whose most probing and controversial questions still represented the very best in journalist ethics and news judgment.  Ed was a favourite of our BET News division.  He often lent his voice and expertise to help us deliver the news from an African-American perspective.  We will miss him.”
• Former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite: Bradley "was tough in an interview, he was insistent on getting an interview, and at the same time when the interview was over, when the subject had taken a pretty heavy lashing by him — they left as friends. He was that kind of guy."
• Katie Couric: Bradley was "considered intelligent, smooth, cool, a great reporter, beloved and respected by all his colleagues here at CBS News."
• Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Lincoln Center's jazz department: Bradley was "one of our definitive cultural figures, a man of unsurpassed curiosity, intelligence, dignity and heart."

Bradley was born June 22, 1941, in Philadelphia and graduated from the historically black Cheyney (Pa.) State College in 1964 with a B.S. in education.  Soon after graduation, the diehard jazz fanatic took a dream job as a jazz DJ and news reporter for a Philadelphia radio station in 1963. He moved to New York's WCBS radio four years later. The Associated Press reports: He joined CBS News as a stringer in the Paris bureau in 1971, transferring a year later to the Saigon bureau during the Vietnam War. He was wounded while on assignment in Cambodia. He was named a CBS News correspondent in early 1973 and moved to the Washington bureau in June 1974. He later returned to Vietnam, covering the fall of that country and Cambodia. Cronkite recalled first meeting Bradley in Vietnam: "He seemed to be fearless, an incredibly smart reporter in getting the story." After Southeast Asia, Bradley returned to the United States and covered Jimmy Carter's successful campaign for the White House. He followed Carter to Washington, in 1976 becoming CBS' first black White House correspondent — a prestigious position that Bradley didn't enjoy. He jumped from Washington to doing pieces for "CBS Reports," traveling to Cambodia, China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. It was his Emmy-winning 1979 piece on Vietnamese boat refugees that eventually landed him on "60 Minutes."

In 1981, he joined the staff of “60 Minutes,” when Dan Rather left to replace Walter Cronkite as the anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” He is the first -- and to date only -- male correspondent to regularly wear an earring on the show. He had his left ear pierced in 1986 and says he was inspired to do it after receiving encouragement from Liza Minnelli following an interview. Accepting his lifetime achievement award from the black journalists association, Bradley remembered being present at some of the organization's first meetings in New York.  "I look around this room tonight and I can see how much our profession has changed and our numbers have grown," he said. "I also see it every day as I travel the country reporting stories for '60 Minutes.' All I have to do is turn on the TV and I can see the progress that has been made."  But, he added, "There are many more rivers to cross, and many more stories to cover and, I hope, a lot left in this lifetime."  He was married to the artist Patricia Blanchett and kept homes in Woody Creek   Colorado and New York, New York.

Akon’s 'Smack' Attack

Excerpt from

(November 14, 2006) Waiting at New York's JFK Airport to hop a plane to the United Kingdom,
Akon would much rather be flying to Atlanta to spend a weekend in his own bed. "I have never worked so hard or lost so much sleep," the Senegalese-born singer says, as his engaging laugh gets lost in the static of a flight announcement. "It sometimes seems like I have less freedom than I did when I was actually locked up."  But chilling at home won't happen anytime soon. The release date for the artist's sophomore set, "Konvicted" (SRC/Upfront/Konvict/Universal Motown) was advanced from Dec. 12 to Nov. 14 -- that's because the buzz factor has ratcheted up significantly thanks to the tight chart race between his dual singles, "Smack That" featuring Eminem and "I Wanna Love You" featuring Snoop Dogg.  For Akon, "Konvicted" picks up where 2004's "Trouble" left off. The latter was the first chapter in his redemption following a jail sentence for car theft. The new album finds the artist on the rebirth trail, but this time, more of his knack for fusing R&B/soul, hip-hop, pop, jazz and reggae is exposed.  "I want people to say, 'Here's a true artist, not someone pigeonholed into one genre,'" says Akon, the son of jazz percussionist Mor Thiam. Hence, club banger "Smack That" gives way to the live piano and violins lacing the ballad "Never Took the Time." Then there's funky jazz via the love song "I Can't Wait" before Akon's past rears up on the anti-gangsta "Tired of Runnin'." "So many people are banking on this situation happening," he says. "And I am too. I just don't want the hype to separate me from my goal: making music."


All Inclusive Trip For Two – Jamaica!

Source:  Canadian Reggae World –

All inclusive trip for two to
SandCastle Resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica as well as airfare provided by Air Jamaica, for three nights –an approximate value of $3,000 being raffled for $10.00 / ticket or 3 for $20.00.  Draw to be held on Saturday 25th November at Spacco, 2415 Yonge Street (north of Eglinton).  Purchase tickets at the venue on the night of the event or online at

Journalists for Human Rights – Job Opportunities

Co-founded by Ben Peterson, who also holds the title of Executive Director, this is an organization that is doing very important things globally when it comes to human rights issues.  Currently, they are looking to fill three vacant positions - please see below and consider contributing your time to this worthy organization.

In the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) is dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of human rights reporting in the African media. As a result of this work, the African public will be made more aware of their rights, improving peace and security and strengthening the democratisation process. By limiting JHR's presence in any one country to five years, it hopes to have a sustainable and enduring impact without creating dependency.

THE NEED FOR JHR - Every day, human rights abuses go unreported throughout Africa. The lives of people are threatened, disrupted and ended by these abuses. Abuses include ethnic warring and genocide, torture, religious discrimination and persecution, trafficking in women and children, prevalent domestic violence and rape, and female genital mutilation.  While there are often domestic or international laws in place to protect against these practices, the public rarely knows that they have any rights at all. Without this knowledge, the cycle of pain and suffering cannot end. In the words of Emile Short, Ghana's Commissioner on Human Rights, "the biggest obstacle in our efforts to stop human rights abuses is the public's unawareness about them."  The most effective way to mobilize public support for human rights is through the media. The media can 1) educate the public about their rights, and 2) act as an effective watchdog against human rights abusers.

Through numerous partnerships with the African media, JHR is working to build the capacity of local media to report on human rights topics. This works directly to mobilize public support for human rights. It empowers journalists to better prevent conflicts, to encourage dialogue and to act as watchdogs on abuse of power. It saves lives.

Opportunities Available

Three positions in Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) head office in Toronto are now available. Please distribute widely and apply by November 22nd.

2007 Juno Awards Submissions Deadlines

Source:  CARAS

Submissions for the 2007 Juno Awards will be closing November 15, 2006.  All submissions must be completed online at and received prior to 5pm EST on deadline day to be eligible.   For sales based categories the final deadline is January 8, 2007.  CARAS needs your support to ensure we remain a truly industry driven academy.  To find out about more of our initiatives please visit



Joni Mitchell Named To Songwriters' Hall Of Fame

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Cassandra Szklarski, Canadian Press

(Nov. 9, 2006) Folk music icon
Joni Mitchell and country pioneer Wilf Carter are among the artists to be inducted next year into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (  The music legends are among four songwriters and 25 Canadian-penned classics — including "Spinning Wheel," "Ain't We Got Fun" and "How About You" — to be celebrated at a black-tie gala in Toronto on Jan. 28.  Raymond Egan, one of the most prolific Broadway and Hollywood lyricists during the 1920s and '30s, and Montreal chanteur Jean-Pierre Ferland, a major figure in Quebec music, will also be inducted.  "There's so much rich and wonderful history to this country," board member Eddie Schwartz said as he announced the inductees at a hotel ballroom packed with industry reps.  "I'm just blown away, staggered, really, every time I come to one of these events and get to walk down this path and learn so much more about our country," said Schwartz, a songwriter whose own hits include Pat Benetar's '80s chart-topper "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."  Canadian tenor Henry Burr, who recorded more than 5,000 songs under 11 pseudonyms, and folk music impresario Sam Gesser will each receive a legacy award.  Inductee David Clayton-Thomas, who's tune "Spinning Wheel" has been covered by more than 400 artists in 20 different languages, said the catchy song was partly inspired by Mitchell.  He recalled seeing her sing at a Toronto club in the 1960s.

"I had an enormous crush on Joni Mitchell," said the 65-year-old Clayton-Thomas, whose 1968 debut album with Blood Sweat and Tears sold 10 million copies worldwide.  "She was 18 years old and absolutely stunning and sang like an angel and wrote pure genius. Her little line about `the painted ponies' . . . in (her song) `Circle Game' stuck in my mind. And so when I wrote `Spinning Wheel,' somehow or another `painted ponies' crept into it, and that was courtesy of Joni Mitchell."  Five of Mitchell's hits are among the songs being inducted, including "Help Me," "Big Yellow Taxi," "Woodstock", "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio" and "Both Sides Now" (a.k.a. ``Clouds").  The honour comes as Mitchell is said to be working on her first new album in eight years.  Also being inducted is Sylvia Tyson's gospel-influenced song ``You Were on My Mind," recorded with her then-husband Ian Tyson during the early 1960s folk revival.  Tyson said she was surprised to hear she was to be inducted, despite being a board member of the hall of fame for six years.  "I had told them I wouldn't accept an award as long as I was actually on the board," said Tyson, 66. "When I took a year off they kind of slipped it by me."  Songs must be more than 25 years old to be considered for the awards, launched four years ago.  The acknowledgment for Carter, regarded as the father of country music in Canada, comes 10 years after his death in December 1996.

His 1932 recording of "My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby" — which showcased his yodelling — is considered the first hit by a Canadian country performer.  Carter, born in Port Hilford, N.S., was also known as Montana Slim and performed well into his 80s.  Ferland will see five of his songs enter the hall of fame: "Ton visage," "Un Peu plus haut un peu plus loin," "T'es mon amour, t'es ma maitresse," "Le Petit roi" and "Je reviens chez nous." His 1970 album "Jaune" and 1971 double album "Soleil" are considered to be among the most influential works in Quebec's musical history.  The 72-year-old suffered a stroke last month while rehearsing a farewell concert in Montreal to mark the end of a 42-year career.  Egan was born in Windsor, Ont., in 1890 and made his way to New York, where he collaborated with many of the best composers of the Tin Pan Alley era. He died in 1952.  The gala performance will be broadcast on CBC Radio the following day and on CBC-TV in March 2007.

Buffy's Full Life, Blacklist Sorrow

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill

(Nov. 12, 2006) Regrets? Not really ... I don't do things I don't like doing, and I have a very full life."  But the glint in
Buffy Sainte-Marie's eye suggests otherwise, and her answer to the final question about making the documentary Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life — airing Tuesday on Bravo! at 8 p.m. — rings hollow.  The documentary by Toronto filmmaker Joan Prowse fully examines, within the limits of an hour, the life of the 65-year-old Saskatchewan-born, U.S.-raised Native American singer, artist, teacher, social activist and inductee to both the Canadian Music and Canadian Songwriters Halls of Fame.  It's an affectionate portrait from her birth in the Piapot Cree reserve in the Qu'Appelle valley, through her string of popular protest songs in the 1960s and '70s ("The Universal Solder," "Up Where We Belong," "Now That The Buffalo's Gone" and more, recorded by Elvis, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker among others) and her years on TV's Sesame Street.  The film visits the Pacific island ranch where Sainte-Marie has lived for four decades, creating music and computer-generated digital art, painting and nurturing her Cradleboard Teaching Project, an Internet-based educational system that imparts alternative versions of "official" history, geography, social studies and spirituality to American Indian children.  What's missing? What's to regret?  "I only wish I could have been more effective in the U.S.," says Sainte-Marie in the Toronto office of her Canadian agent Gilles Paquin. "It would have been nice to succeed as a musician at the level of someone like Sting, or to get taken on by some big-time manager, like Dylan and Joan Baez were."

Instead, for the sin of speaking her mind in topical songs and speeches about the Vietnam war and native rights, Sainte-Marie found herself shut out of the mainstream just as she was peaking, her concerts and TV spots cancelled and her recordings mysteriously absent from record stores.  "I was blacklisted," she says. "And so were Eartha Kitt and Taj Mahal, and quite a few others who were speaking out against the war and civil rights abuses, and didn't have a high enough profile or skilled management."  She has seen the FBI files — censored with "the fattest black marker you've ever seen" — that chronicle the Lyndon B. Johnson administration's deliberate campaign in the late 1960s and early '70s to dampen U.S. radio play and distribution of her recordings.  She was in the dark "till 10 or 12 years later, when I was professionally dead. At first I was flattered, in a way, to learn so much effort had gone into crushing this ... mosquito. Seeing those files also helped me make sense of a lot of mysteries. I thought I was just a victim of a natural decline in popularity.  "It broke my heart to know that someone had worked so hard to make sure my medicine didn't get to where it was needed. Ever since, my career has been on the periphery of show business. I've never had a proper tour.

"In the long run, it didn't make me less effective (except) in America. When I was young, hanging out in New York clubs, I never thought my career would last more than six months anyway."  A trained educator with a second major in Oriental Studies, Sainte-Marie is presented in A Multimedia Life as a restless creative soul who has never observed traditional artistic boundaries.  "I knew about Buffy's work in music and in promoting aboriginal traditions, but I had no idea when I started working on this film about her pioneering work in computer technology, art and formal teaching," said the director Prowse.  "It impressed me that she always seems to be in on the beginning of important cultural shifts — the songwriter movement, the application of computers in art and music, education via the Internet. She was sending music files to her record producer in London in the mid-1980s via modems.  "Her computer-generated art, which no one took seriously 20 years ago, is now in some of the world's major galleries. And she spends most of her spare time writing curriculum for Cradleboard, and setting up guidelines for teachers. She never stops, except to feed the livestock on her farm. Nothing's an obstacle to her. Creativity is problem solving."  On a personal level, Sainte-Marie looks half her age, and shares an active life on her secret island with a shaggy blond, muscular local in his 30s.  "I work out, I don't drink ... I'm almost a complete vegetarian," she confided. "Just don't ask me about psychedelics ... "

Mary Mary's Gutsy 'Yesterday' Video Tackles Domestic Abuse

Excerpt from - By Mona Austin /

(November 10, 2006) Ethnic Health America (a health program airing on TV One) points out 1 in 3 women will be battered by their intimate partners this year.   Underscoring the pandemic proportion of the pathological problem, a woman in this country is battered every 14 seconds (Genesis website).   That means that by the time you read this introduction, at least 6 women will have drawn their last breath stemming from a domestic assault. These staggering statistics are maddening, concerning, outrageous.  The Grammy-award winning gospel sister collective known as
Mary Mary has broached a subject that should be addressed in church but is absent from pulpits around America—domestic violence.  Erica and Tina Campbell remove the bandages from the massive scar of physical abuse in our society in the new video for their hit song, “Yesterday.”  It is a powerful visual axiom that gives battery a black eye. Domestic violence is a disturbance that does not discriminate regardless of racial, economic, or social conditions. The battered woman looks like your child’s teacher, the store clerk, the business woman, or even like a celebrity, Tina Turner for example. Yet the private pain of domestic violence is germane to the African-American family.  The big screen visualized the real-life horror of domineering Ike Turner’s wrath toward a demure, self-conscious Tina in What’s Love Got to Do with It?  We watched  leading man Blair Underwood, a wealthy, presumably debonair gentleman, morph into a menacing, woman beating maniac who blames his future wife of “making him” fight her in Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion.  And of course we remember You told Harpo to beat me? -- Sophia, Sophia, Sophia (Color Purple) confronted her father-in-law for advising her cowardly husband Harpo to tame her ‘tude by man-handling her. Each of these male characters has in common the mistaken notion that he owns his female counterparts and has authority to punish her indiscriminately.

Unlike these on-screen depictions of physically aggressive men, the “Yesterday” video holds it’s leading man accountable for his faults by having him seek professional intervention.  A select few friends, family members, and industry VIPs were apprised to a sneak preview of the telling production recently at their Christmas album release party in Beverly Hills, CA. People were appreciative of the serious subject matter. The video is a captivating “mini-movie” along the lines of the style that has become popular with R&B artists (i.e., Ronald Isley and R. Kelley), where the music is paused and muted in intervals to focus on the plot allowing the viewer to soak up the drama that unfolds as well as the song’s lyrical essence.  Producer/Director Felicia Henderson (Soul Food The Series) was hired to interpret the video after Holly Davis Carter’s (Executive Producer of The Gospel movie Mary Mary’s Manager) vision. For her first video production Henderson curtsies with a cinematic narrative that plants a glaring allegory as its root. “The song lends itself to storytelling and the it absolutely screams out ‘tell a story’, I knew I wanted to tell a visual story to go with this amazing song.”  Although the main character’s scars are painfully obvious, Henderson did not intend to make her abuse the focus of the story: “The video is not about the abuse in her past.  The real story is today I start my future . . . I love that idea of your past not determining your future no matter what you’ve been through,” stated the Director. The setting does not feed into the nostalgia the songs beckons with its hook and retro-style, but the age-old theme is placed in contemporary environment.  The video opens with the main character (Tangi Miller, Felicity) finding the courage to break free from an abusive husband and escapes to an empty fixer-upper home.  Tina and Erica (who just bought the home) stop by to take a look at the place that has so much potential (symbolic of the victim) and happen upon the bruised, sobbing stranger.  Her scars begin to mend as the ladies introduce her to a crisis center for battered women, which is actually Genesis House a well-respected domestic violence shelter in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the husband seeks help for the behaviour he inherited from his out-of-control father.  He is paradoxically panged by his own perverse ways and too, is in need of emotional repair.   Miller was able to draw from the unfortunate realities of domestic violence in her personal life in her portrayal of the abused character. “. . .My grandmother was subject to domestic abuse and my uncle was murdered because he was abusive and the woman, out of nervousness shot him.” Miller found the role challenging to play and was sad during the shooting.  Her feelings were torn being sensitive to both the victim and perpetuator of the crime.  In reference to the abusive male she says, “He is obviously a victim of his issues but he is wrong and she needed to get out of the situation.” The ladies were convinced that an open ending was best for the video. “The greatest thing would be him and her get back together.  They’re happy, he never hits her again,” Erica insightfully opined. “I think one misconception about Christianity and things that have that type of theme is that we all have happy endings. . . we can’t just take a magical happy pill and everything is okay.”  Tina summarized their ultimate message for the video, “You can come up with a conclusion, but that’s not everybody’s conclusion. . . What happens tomorrow we don’t know, but we know that she leaves all the worst of the worst in yesterday.  I hope that’s what people get as opposed to looking for a conclusion.” Scores of brave women, like the main character in this video, draw from their inner strength and run out of the door of opportunity to a safer, healthier existence just before coming undone.  Even though for some the thought of being alone and not having the structure and lifestyle to which they are accustomed can be paralyzing removing herself from the environment is essential to survival.  It is a matter of life and death and time is not on the victim’s side.

Many battered women hide behind make-up, fake smiles and the fantasy that things are going to get better, all classic signs of Battered Woman Syndrome. Or their impoverished self-esteem leaves them feeling undeserving of an abuse-free life.  Some women remain in their dangerous situation until it’s too late to leave voluntarily. Other women burn-out mentally and take matters into their own hands and murder their partners.  It is a no win situation that impacts the entire family.  (Statistics from the Genesis House web site report that children who witness domestic violence are 6 times as likely to commit suicide and 57 times as likely to abuse drugs.  Children are a product of their environment and are destined to repeat what they see in their households as is the case with the male in this video.) Professional intervention for domestic altercations remains a cultural taboo among African Americans who are suited to handle their emotional issues with prayer or denial.  As far as getting help from the community is concerned, Churches, close friends and family members are more prone to “mind their own business” than get involved, accepting fighting in long-term relationships as inevitable. Regardless of its normalcy domestic violence is a crime. “Obviously I don’t agree with domestic violence at all. . .”  Miller encourages women to leave right away if they are victimized by physical abuse. . .”You have to get out of the home, you can’t be subject to it.” The ”Yesterday” video is Mary Mary’s best video to date.  Stay tuned to EUR Gospel for the premiere details.  If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship, decide to leave your tears in yesterday right now.  Contact Genesis House, Inc. for resources in your area—there is help.

Omarion And Mathew Knowles Sign New Boy Band

Source: Amina Elshahawi, ThinkTank Marketing,,

(November 9, 2006) Few teens who one day fantasize about forming a hip-hop group, cutting a record and hitting the road, see that dream become a reality a year later, but that is exactly what has happened for Milo Stokes.  With the help of his cousin, stage and film star Omarion, and his dad, manager/director Chris Stokes, Milo and his two talented singer/dancer friends Marcel Wildy and Chris Cheeks, went from dancing and rhyming in each others' living rooms to cutting songs in a state of the art studio.  The group was discovered by Omarion, who signed 2 Much to his O Records label, and is currently recording under the leadership of Chris Stokes, the man behind B2K and writer/director of "You Got Served."  While hanging with Omarion and B2K touring the states just a couple years ago, Milo, Wildy and Cheeks were eager to start their own group, one that would, like B2K, fuse hot dance moves with smooth R&B and hip-hop. During a New York show on the tour that dream took a giant leap toward reality when Chris Stokes spotted a young kid in the crowd with strong pipes and killer moves. After a brief audition backstage for Omarion the Bridgeport, Connecticut-native Myles Cleveland, became the missing link to the group Milo and the gang had dreamt about. And just like that, 2 Much was born.  "I saw something special that I've never seen in a young boys group before," says producer/manager Chris Stokes. "They're like the new Jackson Five." Remembering when his son, Milo (the "crooner of the group"), expressed interest in following in cousin Omarion's footsteps, Chris says with a laugh, "I hate it-but he loves the business so whatever my son wants, I want to back him up."

Not long after that fateful tour stop, the L.A.-based teen quartet showcased for Music World Entertainment chief executive Matthew Knowles and Senior Vice President of A&R Max Gousse, who immediately signed a deal with the group for its debut released via O Records/ T.U.G./Music World Music. Ever since, 2 Much has been recording daily and performing to packed houses on the weekends on a national mall tour.  While each member boasts sharp dance skills, vocally the group is split down the middle: Cleveland and Cheeks handle the rhymes, and Milo and Marcel bring the smooth vocals: Says Mil "We have real ghetto, hood stuff, but Marcel knows how to get to the ladies."  Says Cheeks: "We're here to make music for everybody. We're not trying to separate hip-hop and R&B and make it into different genres, we're trying to put it all together to make feel good music."  2 Much is the type of group both destined to be embraced by both teens and their parents. "I know this might be a big cliché," says Omarion "but I think they're B2K, a different version-a better version.  Together, the four members of 2 Much fuse such diverse musical influences as the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye and Jay Z, plus classic soul. All four members have been singing and dancing all their lives, be it in front of friends, family, classmates or even the public. Performing, says Chris Cheeks, "is the best feeling, it's like a rush, a crazy rush, it's a totally different experience than what people take it for, I'm a different person when I'm up there."  Says Marcel, "For me, it's the ultimate joy. It's like utopia for me." Right now, says Milo, "We're having so much fun, we're kind of like kids in a candy store."  The group is slated to embark on the MX2 national teen tour with fellow Music World Music star J. Xavier and Def Jam Recording artist Mic Little in the spring of 2007 and are managed by Music World Entertainment and T.U.G Entertainment.

AUDIO: 'Fire'


Catch Ciara's 'Evolution' Live In Concert

Source: Chamber Group, Kate Lupson,,; ICED Media , Omar Ellis, Senior Project Manager, email:

(November 10, 2006)  In the weeks leading up to the release of her highly anticipated sophomore album, Ciara: The Evolution (La Face/Zomba Label Group), multi-platinum R&B/Pop sensation Ciara is taking the show on the road with a kinetic 16-city club tour accompanied by four major radio concert stops.  Each hour-long high-energy club date will feature fan favourites, #1 singles "Goodies," "1, 2 Step," and "Oh," as well as current hit "Get Up," new single "Promise," and other never-before-heard cuts from her new album, Ciara: The Evolution, due out December 5th.  On Monday, November 13th, Ciara will bring the show to Anaheim's House of Blues.  "Previewing the new record in a small setting gives my fans an exclusive experience where they can truly hear and see exactly where I'm going with Ciara: The Evolution," Ciara explains. "It's about so much more than just my personal growth - it's about the evolution of music, the evolution of dance, the evolution of fashion. I want to bring a taste of all that to the fans in a one-on-one environment to get them excited for Ciara: The Evolution." Fans are already excited by the soon-to-be major hit, first single "Promise." "Promise," written by Ciara and produced by Polow (Fergie's "London Bridge," Pussy Cat Dolls' "Buttons") has just hit radio and BET and MTV and the buzz is high!


Ciara's highly-anticipated new album, Ciara: The Evolution, hits stores December 5th. Check out the first single from the new album, "Promise", below. The new album features production from Pharrell Williams, Rodney Jerkins, Polow, and more.  The new album will also include a limited-edition DVD that shows how to do Ciara's moves and routines from the videos for "Get Up" & "Promise" and much, much more.

Check out a preview of the DVD at the links below:

Ciara - "Promise" Audio
Windows Media


The Roots, Patti Smith Highlight Dylan Tribute

Excerpt from - Susan Visakowitz, N.Y.

(Nov. 10, 2006) Twenty-two artists, many of them celebrated in their own right, paid tribute to the acclaimed music of
Bob Dylan last night (Nov. 9) at New York's Avery Fisher Hall.  The event, which brought together an impressively varied assortment of esteemed talent -- including Al Kooper, Warren Haynes, Joan Osbourne, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Allen Toussaint and Roseanne Cash, as well as highly-touted younger artists like Cat Power, Ryan Adams and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -- was a benefit for the Music For Youth Foundation, which provides music education to at-risk youth.  Produced by Michael Dorf, founder of the Knitting Factory, the evening ran with nary a glitch or disruption over the course of two-and-a-half hours. Handling a song a piece, the acts covered everything from early '60s breakthroughs like "The Times They Are A-Changin'" to brand new entries like "Thunder on the Mountain," off Dylan's most recent album, "Modern Times."  Among the highlights were a tender reading of "Dark Eyes" by Patti Smith, who was accompanied by Tony Shanahan on piano and Tom Verlaine on guitar; an instrumental jazz interpretation of "Ballad of a Thin Man" by the Jamie Saft trio; an energized "Positively 4th Street" by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo; and a quirky "Ring Them Bells" by Jill Sobule, who along with a brass section was joined by Cyndi Lauper on vocals.

But the night really belonged to two artists: Natalie Merchant, with Philip Glass on piano, gave an exceedingly haunting reading of "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" that left the audience breathless. And avant-hip-hoppers the Roots blew the house down with an ecstatic, incendiary version of "Masters of War."  The trio -- on guitar, drums and tuba -- initially presented the damning lyrics to the tune of the "Star Spangled Banner," then segued into the original melody, taking several detours for fiery guitar solos and teases of other songs, including "Taps." The searing, politically charged performance brought the hall's entire sold-out crowd to its feet for a lengthy standing ovation.  Charles Feldman, Music For Youth's chairman, said the event raised $100,000 for MFY. Meanwhile, Dorf revealed that the next MFY benefit is already on the calendar: Carnegie Hall will host a tribute to the music of Bruce Springsteen on April 5, 2007.

Keys, Bowie Duet At African Charity Gala

Excerpt from - Wes Orshoski, N.Y.

(Nov. 10, 2006)
Alicia Keys joined David Bowie for a neo soul-injected take on the latter's "Changes" last night (Nov. 9) to close out a star-studded New York benefit for the Keep a Child Alive organization, which helps AIDS- and poverty-stricken children in Africa.  Keys, who serves as the charity's ambassador, acted as musical director for the event at Hammerstein Ballroom, sharing the stage with not only Bowie, but also Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley and Angelique Kidjo.  The black-tie dinner, hosted by comedian Wanda Sykes and Bowie's wife, Iman, also included a brief performance by Louis XIV, a poem from Saul Williams and appearances by hip-hop czar Russell Simmons and actors Jeffrey Wright, Ed Norton and Elijah Wood.  Earlier in the evening, Keys was seen in a video filmed in Africa visiting a Keep a Child Alive clinic, talking to teens and young adults who've lost their parents to AIDS and are now the heads of their own households. She brought three of the children out onstage, fulfilling one's wish to meet Wood, the star of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Keys, whose mini-set included a commanding rendition of Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" and versions of Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings" and Bob Marley's "War," joined the younger Marley for his hit "Welcome to the Jamrock," for which she sang the hook: "Out in the streets, they call it murder." Marley also performed "Road to Zion."  In a dark suit and white shirt, Bowie performed a three-song set that also included "Fantastic Voyage," and Kidjo delivered her fiery version of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile." Kidjo and Keys also performed a new duet, "Djin Djin," that they've recorded for the former's forthcoming debut on Razor & Tie.  "She's definitely Africa," Kidjo said of the New York-born Keys. "If you don't hear it, there's something wrong with you."

Grandmaster Flash, T.I. take Hip Hop Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Jonathan Landrum Jr., Associated Press

(Nov. 13, 2006) ATLANTA — Grandmaster Flash breathed a sigh of relief after being recognized for his turntable expertise, and T.I. finally believes the South has gotten some respect. The Atlanta-based rapper, who was up for eight nominations, was a winner in three of the categories at the first-ever
BET Hip Hop Awards on Sunday. T.I. won best hip hop video, CD and MVP of the year honours. “You can't hate on hard work and talent,” he said. “This awards show will show people a lot about where I come from.” Grandmaster Flash was honoured with the I Am Hip Hop Icon award. When Flash received the award, he gave recognition to all other disc jockeys who he has met, saying being a DJ was better than rapping.  “To get an award for my technological ability means a whole lot more than anything else I've accomplished in my life,” he said. When hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs took the stage, he offered brief words for R&B singer Gerald Levert and Ed Bradley, who both died last week. Bradley, the award winning 60 Minutes correspondent passed away at 65 on Thursday. Levert, who was known for his sensual, romantic songs, died at 40 on Friday. “Let's celebrate their lives,” Diddy said. “People will forever miss y'all.”

Rappers Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri and Young Jeezy teamed with super-producer Lil' Jon to kick off the show with the 2001 hit, Welcome To Atlanta. Dupri, who won best producer, said he felt humbled for having the event in Atlanta. “For the awards to be in my city and I win something for producing, it's exciting,” he said. “The outcome was something I could never imagine.” In his first act as the host, comedian Katt Williams stood in a blue suit and red tie behind a wooden podium with a sign posted on the front that said, “President Of The Hip Hop Nation.” He said some jitters set in before the show. “It's a good thing I was nervous,” Williams said. “Being around hip hop helps me though, because there's a type comfort I have around these great artists.” The award show airs Nov. 15.

Jazz Pianist Michael Kaeshammer Teams With Guitarist Harry Manx For National Tour

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Staff Reporter

(Nov. 13, 2006) It was an unexpectedly subdued
Michael Kaeshammer who answered the phone in a Kenora hotel room.  "I have a bad fever," said the jazz pianist, who is in the midst of a national tour with B.C. roots guitarist Harry Manx.  But there was no chance of him calling in sick that night.  "Once you're onstage you forget all about it," the 29-year-old Toronto resident said. "Then you go backstage at intermission and lie down. Last night I fell asleep at intermission."  But you can be certain that the player, noted as both a prodigious technician and charming crowd pleaser, was in full throttle for the second half.  "When I go see a show I like to be part of the show," he said. "It's not that I have to be entertained like with a clown, but you want to feel like the performer is there to involve the audience.  "So I'm conscious of that, and Harry is too. We're trying to put on a show that's about the music but is also presented in a way that everyone can relate."  The playful banter during the duo's show, which stops at Harbourfront Centre on Wednesday, belies the challenges of melding Manx's Indian raga-influenced string playing with Kaeshammer's classically trained jazz chops. The unique pairing grew out of their friendship and musical kinship.

"Both our music is based on the blues, that's our common ground," said Kaeshammer, who normally performs in a trio setting with drum and bass.  "We chose songs that at least one of us were familiar with. The process of finding the right tunes and arranging them has been a challenge, but once we're onstage playing it's effortless."  The two-month tour is intended as a one-time outing, with the possibility of recording some shows for a live album.  Kaeshammer, a two-time Juno Award nominee, is sketching out songs for his next record.  Since his 1998 album debut, Tell You How I Feel, he's progressed through a range of styles, including boogie, ragtime, stride and bebop, and incorporated more original compositions and singing.  "I always sang along with records as a kid, but I never took it seriously and was so involved in the piano that I never considered the voice as an actual instrument," said the German-born musician, who began classical piano studies at age 7 and later immersed himself in his dad's pre-1950s jazz collection.  "Then I started listening to singers and it was unbelievable to discover that it's the hardest instrument."  He's imbued with a raspy, soulful sound, influenced by legendary crooner Frank Sinatra — to whom he's been compared — as well as an array of other singers.  "I started listening to people like Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Beck, Tom Waits," said Kaeshammer, who moved to Canada with his family at 18.

"I think it's more the approach of all these singers that inspires me. When I started singing I would just try and copy people; like when you play an instrument, you copy people until you have your own licks and ability. And then you realize you just have to open your mouth and sing like you sound rather than someone else, but it took me a long time."  Kaeshammer has also been compared to Harry Connick Jr., who faced criticism for the singing and pop explorations that overtook his straight-ahead piano playing.  But he's not worried about a similar backlash.  "Not to sound egotistical, but I really don't care what other people think, especially purists, because I'm not a purist and I don't spend any time thinking about them, because I don't agree with them.  "What I do now is what I love to do and I love to play straight-ahead things too. If you go out and you do what you love to do and you're being honest with it, then the best comes out.  "I really don't ever think about `Is this jazzy enough? Is this serious enough?' I'm just playing what comes out of me."  The middle of three children never envisioned a career as a musician.  "In the little town where I'm from it was not considered an option, especially playing jazz and blues. I just did it because I loved it. My dad played a little bit of ragtime piano and he showed me some things."

When the family settled in B.C., Kaeshammer landed a few gigs in Victoria pubs.  "I saw these people playing for $50 for five hours a night and making a living doing it. I thought it was awesome that they could do that. They were all happy and playing music every day. I decided to try that."  But with his parents insisting he earn qualifications for a "job job," the youth attended two different colleges. He gave up on math and physics at the first school before the semester ended, then tried music elsewhere.  "I lasted a month. I just couldn't see the point of sitting in a classroom learning about (music) when I could be playing it. So I never tried anything else."

Tomi Swick Isn't About To Let A Little Success Go To His Head

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

(Nov. 14, 2006) It's still early days for
Tomi Swick, but the Hamilton rocker is encouraged by the way things have gone since the release earlier this year of his major label debut, Stalled out of the Doorway.  The disc has spawned a couple of radio hits, "A Night Like This" and "Everything is Alright." A third track, "Sorry Again," is poised to join the rotation.  Not, the 26-year-old insists, that he's letting any of this go to his head. And even if he did, Steeltown friends would soon set him straight.  "I can't go there and have any kind of ego because they'll knock me right down," says Swick. "They'll say, `Hey man, we all know where you're from.' That's the kind of place it is. It really has an effect on your mentality.  "I come from a very hard-working, blue-collar family. My mom's side were Scottish immigrants who came and worked at Stelco. And my father worked at Stelco his whole life. There are other cities that have a blue- collar aspect, but you don't see it as much. In Hamilton, the majority of the city is like that. Honesty is a word that gets thrown around so much that it gets to be a cliché, but I feel that I come from a very honest place.  "I very easily could be working at the mills, which is honest but extremely hard work. I'm very lucky not to be doing that. I'm far too lazy to get up that early to go to work every day like that. And once I started on the music, I knew that's what I wanted to do."  Swick is due to make a pit stop at home Sunday for the third annual Hamilton Music Awards at the Dofasco Centre for the Arts. Although the singer's five-piece is currently on the road, opening for the Goo Goo Dolls on a tour that stops tonight at Massey Hall, Swick and guitarist Andrew MacTaggart are making time to perform at the awards ceremony, between dates in Montreal and Moncton.  The rookie recording artist has five nominations, tied for the most with Burlington-bred singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer. Other nominees include electronic pop outfit Junior Boys, singer/songwriters Kathleen Edwards and Melissa McClelland, and rock and roots group Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.

"It's a slow-moving thing, but there's a scene emerging," Swick says. "There used to be a huge grunge scene in Hamilton, but that kind of faded out. Now there's a lot of metal and hard rock, but there's also alt-country and singer/songwriters coming out."  As a young teen, Swick spent a lot of time hanging out at all-ages shows by local bands inspired by Nirvana and Pearl Jam. He started playing in bands at the age of 13, but it wasn't until he blew out his knee playing football at local high school Cathedral four years later that music became a priority.  After a stretch of playing in various groups, Swick started performing under his own name three years ago, briefly as a solo act and eventually fronting a band. He signed with Warner Music after representatives of the label caught one of his sets two years ago at the Rivoli.  Listening to Stalled out of the Doorway, Coldplay is an obvious reference point, but there are echoes of other influences cited by Swick — from Paul Simon, James Taylor and the Beatles to U2 and Radiohead.  "A lot of bands that get signed now, get signed on one song," Swick says. "So when they go into the studio they try to recreate that song 12 times. And it becomes a very monotonous record.  "I had 30 songs going into recording this album. I like to rock out. And I like to sing ballads. I'm doing everything I can not to be pigeonholed."  And to remember where he is from.  "I'm not some Canadian Idol cast-off. It's not about that. We're a very no-nonsense, hard-working band. We come out and play the music. No gimmicks."

Mary J Blige Tops Off Breakthrough Year With 'Reflections'

Source: Christine Wolff, Geffen Records,

(November 15, 2006) Santa Monica, California, November 7, 2006 - To state that 2006 was one of the biggest years of
Mary J Blige's career isn't hype. It is truth.  In 2006 there was no bigger story or artist, in any genre, than Mary J Blige.   Thanks to a chart-topping album, history making #1 single, galvanizing television appearances and a sold out tour, 2006 became the 12-month span in which the multiple platinum selling, Grammy winning Queen of Hip Hop Soul scaled new creative, personal and commercial heights.  So after all of those dazzling achievements what does Mary J do to top it? Simple. She rewards her fans by recording yet another classic in the making - Reflections - A Retrospective - which will be released on Geffen Records December 12th.  A much anticipated and long awaited collection Reflections - A Retrospective not only gathers together all Mary J's timeless greatest hits but features four new greatest hits to be - the first of which is the hot single "We Ride (I See The Future").  Spanning the entirety of Mary J's spectacular 15-year career Reflections- A Retrospective is more than a greatest hits collection. It's a soulful shout out to Mary J's loyal fans, and a celebration of the year when one of R&B's most influential singers "broke through" bigger than ever.  Released on December 20th, 2005, Mary's 7th cd The Breakthrough debuted at #1, and sold an astonishing 727,163 copies its first week: making it not just the best opening week for a solo R&B female artist in SoundScan history but the biggest opening week of 2006 to date. Period. Yet even more explosive than The Breakthrough's success was the album's lead off single "Be Without You". Written and produced by Bryan Michael Cox and Johnta Austin (the same creative team responsible for "We Ride (I See The Future"), "Be Without You" had the #1 spot on the Billboard R&B charts on lock; and stayed there for a record breaking 15 straight weeks. "Be Without You" was not only the biggest hit of Mary's already brilliant career, it entered the history books by becoming the longest-running No. 1 song on the R&B chart since it was reintroduced, after a brief hiatus, in 1965.   You'd have to go back to 1949 to find a #1 song with as lengthy a chart run as "Be Without You."

The Breakthrough was equally dominant.  The emotive cd was the recipient of universal critical acclaim, with Vanity Fair declaring, "…she's still the Queen…" USA Today stating "Another Blige 'Breakthrough' …Blige still touches souls..." and the Boston Globe hailing the cd as "…a start-to-finish triumph." Fans also felt The Breakthrough's power. Following Mary's stellar performance on the 2006 Grammy Awards, (dueting with U2 on their ballad "One"), The Breakthrough recaptured the top spot on the Billboard 200.  Along with that electrifying appearance -which the St. Petersburg Times declared was "chills-inducing" - Mary also performed on the finales of "Dancing With the Stars" and "American Idol", "Oprah", and the ABC soap "One Life To Live".  Further proof of Mary's artistry is the breadth of her numerous collaborations. 2006 saw The Queen of Hip Hop Soul singing with The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, on "Never Gonna Break My Faith". The song, featured in the film Bobby marks the second time these two R&B powerhouses have joined forces.  Mary also brings her imitable flavour to Ludacris' new single "Runaway Love". Additionally Mary, in conjunction with electronics retailer Circuit City, is releasing "Mary J. Blige & Friends," an exclusive two-disc CD set benefiting Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  And if 2006 was a milestone 2007 promises to be just as significant. Rather than rest on her laurels, Mary J is in the studio, preparing to drop a new cd of new material and once again, raise the bar. 
Ron Fair, Chairman of Geffen Records says of Mary's success "Mary J. Blige has reached the defining moment of her life - as a vocalist, as a songwriter, and as a human being. Her new album "Reflections- A Retrospective" is an essential collection of songs that solidifies Mary as one of the greatest recording artists of all time.  Anyone who has ever suffered loss, experienced pain, been in trouble, gave love or been loved, can find themselves in the music of Mary J. Blige." With her landmark 1992 cd What's The 411 Mary J Blige became R&B's standard bearer, setting both its sound and style.  Since that debut Mary has earned 3 Grammys, had 7 multi platinum albums, lent her support to a slew of high profile charities and earned the unqualified respect of fans, critics and her fellow performers. With a soulful power that knows no equal, Mary J Blige owned 2006 and the Queen continues her reign with Reflections- A Retrospective.

Jackson Edges Back Into Spotlight

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Erin Carlson, Associated Press

(Nov. 15, 2006) NEW YORK —
Michael Jackson is no longer hiding out in Bahrain.  Though he fled the United States after his acquittal on child molestation charges last year, apparently happy to live in seclusion in the Middle East, Jackson has started inching his way back into the spotlight.  Earlier this year, he went to Tokyo to accept MTV Japan's ``Legend Award." This month, he allowed the syndicated TV show ``Access Hollywood" to film him in the studio, working on music with superhot producer from the Black Eyed Peas.  And on Wednesday, in a rare public performance, he is set to sing the classic charity song he co-wrote, "We Are The World," at the World Music Awards in London, where he will get another special award.  Move over Justin. Jackson, still one of the best-selling artists of all time, is looking to reclaim his title as the King of Pop.  But does the public care?  "Michael needs to come back strong and come back of today, not of yesterday," said Elroy R.C. Smith, a program director at the Chicago-based radio station WGCI 107.5, which plays R&B, hip-hop and old-school music. "He could get back in the studio, but if he is out of touch with what's going on musically, he'll be considered, 'Well, he's finished.'  "Would the world love to see this guy come back musically? Absolutely. Because he's still one of the greatest performers of all time.''  But Jackson the entertainer has long taken a back seat to Jackson the one-man freak show. His acquittal on allegations of molesting a young boy was just the latest, and most dramatic disaster for a man who has admitted to sharing a bed (chastely) with kids, dangled his baby from a balcony and shocked people with his cosmetically enhanced visage. And that's just THIS century — don't get us started on blunders of the '90s or the late '80s.

Jackson's last album, 2001's "Invincible," went double-platinum but didn't register any megahits. Not-so-awesome news for the guy who made the world's best-selling album in ``Thriller" and once released multiplatinum albums with ease.  Smith said Jackson's new music would have to earn its way on his radio station.  "I'm not going to play Michael Jackson because it's Michael Jackson," Smith said. "But if it has an urban flair to it, if it has potential, oh yeah, we will truly give it a shot.''  "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush recently interviewed Jackson at his Ireland-based studio. Bush is also spending time with Jackson this week in London.  "He wants to show that he's moving forward and getting back to doing what he does," Bush told The Associated Press. "The theory (for his new album) is he's gonna build it in Europe and Asia and mount it that way, and eventually, I think the endgame would be the United States.''  And he's still got plenty of fans. Bush was stunned earlier this week while watching Jackson generate a frenzy when he stepped out of a car in London.

"It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen," he said. "I mean I've seen a lot of celebrities get out of their car and get screams of adoration and adulation and all that, but nothing as emotional and vociferous as this.''  Music makers are clamouring to work with him. R&B hitmaker Akon, who has a smash hit with Eminem and is collaborating on Gwen Stefani's new album, is one of them — he plans to do a song for Jackson's album next year. His advice to Jackson? Go with his gut instincts, "just do music that feels good, that feels right, that's fun.''  "Once he understands that, he'll be able to go in a studio and make an album within 30 days, because he just put his feeling into it," Akon told the AP. "Not only to think strategically... throw all that out the window. Do what you love to do and put it out and I promise you it will be successful.''  That may be true. But in addition to hearing Jackson, fans also have to look at him — and from the Pluto T-shirt and big-hair look he showed off this week, Jackson likely needs some fashion superstars to help him in that department.  Celebrity stylist Nicole Chavez, whose clients include "OC'' actress Rachel Bilson, said Jackson should "tone down" his look — style, hair and make-up — to appeal to a broader audience.  "I think if you get the right people involved, everybody could create a look that would work for Michael and would work for the public," she told the AP.  Americans, Smith said, are "forgiving." They love to see down-and-out stars bounce back (see: Britney and Whitney). A radio-friendly, slickly produced album from Jackson might be something worth rooting for — or not.  "I don't think he can do it like he did it the first time in the '80s ... Album sales just don't work like that anymore," Bush said.  "But I think he can capture the fascination. Good music is good music. And he's already proven that in that mind — from that mind — comes great, great music. So there's no question he can do it again. It's `will he?' and `will people accept it'?''


Diddy Joins Violator Management

Excerpt from

(November 10, 2006) *
Violator Management CEO Chris Lighty has a new client.  The company, which already represents the likes of 50 Cent, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Three 6 Mafia, Fantasia and others, has just signed perhaps the most high-profile entertainer in the business, Bad Boy Entertainment mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs. According to Lighty, Violator will represent the rapper/producer in all areas of music and will begin strategic work immediately on Diddy's Billboard No. 1 album, “Press Play,” released Oct. 17 on his own Bad Boy label (distributed by Atlantic). More specifically, the company will implement brand extension plans intended to expand Diddy's reach and influence exponentially in music.

Josh Groban's 'Awake' Tops Charts

Excerpt from - By JOHN WILLIAMS, Senior Editor, JAM! Showbiz

(Nov. 15, 2006)
Josh Groban had anything but a sleepy debut on the Canadian album charts this week.  The classical-pop vocalist's latest disc "Awake" checked in at No. 1 on the charts with just under 33,000 in sales, according to data compiled by Nielsen SoundScan.  It marks Groban's first ever No. 1 album here -- his last effort, "Closer," checked in at No. 4 back in November 2003 with 20,000 copies sold.  Trailing well behind Groban was the debut of Keith Urban's "Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing," which premiered at No. 2 on sales of 17,000.  The movement up top forced Gregory Charles' "I Think of You" (16,000) from the No. 1 position -- which he had held for two straight weeks -- down to No. 3.  Just in time for the lucrative holiday market, the seasonal collection "MuchDance 2007" came in at No. 4, while Sarah McLachlan's "Wintersong" fell one spot to No. 5.  The final two debuts in the Top 10 went to the compilation "Big Shiny Tunes 11" at No. 6, and the Foo Fighters' live acoustic set "Skin and Bones" at No. 7.  Justin Timberlake's "FutureSex/LoveSounds" sank three notches to No. 8, My Chemical Romance's "The Black Parade" spiralled seven spots to No. 9, and Rod Stewart's "Still the Same... Great Rock Classics of Our Time" hung onto No. 10.  Other notable new entries included Eric Clapton & J.J. Cale's "Road to Escondido" at No. 15, Sugarland's "Enjoy the Ride" at No. 31, Jerry Lee Lewis' "Last Man Standing" at No. 34, and the Dave Matthews Band's "The Best of What's Around" at No. 42.  In the U.S., the compilation "NOW That's What I Call Music" debuted at No. 1, followed by Josh Groban in second, Keith Urban in third, Sugarland in fourth, and soundtrack to Disney's "Hanna Montana” in fifth.

Common, Bow Wow, Seal Fall Into The Gap

Excerpt from

(November 9, 2006)  *Artists Common, Bow Wow and Seal are among the stars appearing in a new holiday ad campaign from clothing retailer, The Gap.  Paul Hunter directs Common and his daughter Omoya Lynn in both of Gap's "Holiday In Your Hood" commercials, which features the rapper rhyming over a sample of Madonna's 1983 hit "Holiday." The remake was produced by the Black Eyed Peas'  DJ Samantha Ronson joins Common and his daughter in the spots. All are dressed in Gap hoodies while dancing around a forty-foot gold peace sign, which doubles as the symbol for the store’s holiday marketing campaign. The commercial is scheduled to premiere on Nov. 16 and runs through Dec. 13. "There isn't a more meaningful time to emphasize the importance of peace and love than during the holidays," said Trey Laird, Creative Director for Gap. "We wanted to capture these unspoken emotions in our holiday campaign and what better way to do that than by featuring some of our favourite style makers with their loved ones. We chose to focus on hoodies -- everything from hooded sweatshirts to the softest cashmere sweaters -- because they are so iconic to Gap and so perfect for the winter season."  Celebs featured in Gap's "Holiday In Your Hood" print campaign, which launches in December, include Bow Wow, Taylor Hackford,  Diane Kruger, Claudia Schiffer, Deepak Chopra, Seal and others.

Dancer Turned Recording Artiste Ding Dong Preps Album For VP Records

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(November 9, 2006) *Dancer turned artiste
Ding Dong blazed the charts a few months ago with the irritating Bad Man Forward, Bad Man Pull Up single. The song's popularity, which later led to the creation of a dance of the same name, has attracted the attention of VP Records. "Mi have an album coming out for VP. Mi and Matterhorn wake up one ants nest now, so a lot of attention on the dancers now. Right now dancing is out thing. Mi woulda like to see dancing reach pon a bigger level. Dancing is like a work fi me right now," Ding Dong said in a recent interview. Ding Dong recently completed a video for a new track, titled Flow, which features a singer from Antigua. "We just did the video for the song with Jay Will. I have a new song out called Killa Swing weh a tek di place," said Ding Dong. Ding Dong pointed out that with the success that dancers like himself, Sample Six, and the late Gerald 'Bogle' Levy have had as recording artistes, better opportunities are now opening up for dancers. However, he would like to see amenities, including a chart for dancing, and more of our local dancers in international videos. On Sundays, Ding Dong and his crew, the Ravers Clavers, play hosts to the Gabba Sundaz session. This takes place in Nannyville. "A lot of selectors, deejays, entertainers and music personalities, and just about anybody, turn up each week. It a gwaan good still," said Ding Dong.

Religion Fosters Hatred Of Gays, Pop Star Says

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Nov. 12, 2006) LONDON (AP) — Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and other forms of bias, pop star
Elton John said in an interview published Saturday.  "I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people," John said in the Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine. "Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays."  "But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion," he said. "From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."  Religious leaders have also failed to do anything about tensions and conflicts around the world, he said.  "Why aren't they having a conclave? Why aren't they coming together?" he asked.  John said those in his own field have been similarly lax.  "It's like the peace movement in the '60s. Musicians got through to people by getting out there and doing peace concerts, but we don't seem to do them any more," he said. "If John Lennon were alive today, he'd be leading it with a vengeance."

Joss Stone Teams With Saadiq For New Album

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(Nov. 10, 2006)
Joss Stone is delving deeper into R&B and soul on her new, as-yet-untitled album, due March 6 via Virgin, has learned. The set was produced by Raphael Saadiq, whose resume includes Angie Stone, Jill Scott, Kelis and the Grammy-winning Erykah Badu and Common duet, "Love of My Life."  The 19-year-old Stone hit Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas to record the album, which will feature such tracks as "Headturner," "Tell Me What We're Gonna Do Now," "Music," "Tell Me 'Bout It," "Nothing Better Than (The iPod Song)" and "I Wish I Never Met You."  It's the follow-up to 2004's "Mind, Body & Soul," which debuted at No. 11 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  Meanwhile, Stone will make her big-screen debut in the fantasy film "Eragon," which opens Dec. 15 in U.S. theatres. Based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Paolini, it also stars Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich.

Joss Stone Grabs A Tony For New Album

Excerpt from

(November 14, 2006) *She’s already worked with R&B legend Betty Wright and the soul-saturated Angie Stone on her first two albums. For the next disc, due March 6 via Virgin, 19-year-old British teen
Joss Stone has turned to producer and former Tony! Toni! Tone! star Raphael Saadiq. According to, the two hit Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas to record the album, which will feature such tracks as "Headturner," "Tell Me What We're Gonna Do Now," "Music," "Tell Me 'Bout It," "Nothing Better Than (The iPod Song)" and "I Wish I Never Met You." The as-yet-untitled project is the follow-up to 2004's "Mind, Body & Soul," which debuted at No. 11 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  In the meantime, Stone will make her big-screen debut in the fantasy film "Eragon," which opens Dec. 15 in U.S. theatres. Based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Paolini, it also stars Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich.

Cancer-Free Minogue Returns To Stage

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Nov. 12, 2006) SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Singer
Kylie Minogue will take to the stage wearing feathers and sequins in Sydney on Saturday, resuming a world tour cut short by a diagnosis of breast cancer last year.  The London-based Australian diva, her hair short and wavy after chemotherapy, has said she is looking forward to resuming "The Showgirl Tour" in Australia where she was diagnosed with the potentially fatal disease in May last year.  But she told a newspaper she was uncertain about how she will feel when she begins singing to a sell-out crowd of 10,000 adoring fans.  "I think about it often. I simply can't come up with the answer," the 38 year old told Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper in its Saturday edition.  The 2004 Grammy award winner had completed the European leg of her tour when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She underwent surgery to remove a lump from her breast, and has since become a vocal advocate for cancer screening and support groups.

Fantasia Preps Release Of Sophomore LP

Excerpt from

(November 14, 2006) *
Fantasia’s anticipated new self-titled album will arrive in stores on Dec. 12 from J Records.  The first single, “Hood Boy,” features Big Boi of OutKast and is gaining momentum on U.S. radio.  For the album, Missy Elliott co-wrote and produced "Turn This Party Up!," "Two Weeks Notice," and "No Stopppin'." Also on board are producers Dre & Vidal ("I Nominate U," "Baby Makin Hips"); Midi Mafia ("When I See U," "Broke"); Swizz Beatz ("Surround U"); Kwame ("Not The Way It Is," written by Sean Garrett); and three tracks written by Candice & Bulewa and produced by Danja ("Bore Me (Yawn)," "Uneligible," "Girl Like Me").  A special treat is the album's closing track, "I Feel Beautiful," a superstar collaboration with hit songwriter Diane Warren and hit-making producer Babyface. "The lyrics on that song are very emotional for me," Fantasia says, "and when I recorded it, I just broke down at the end. It's my song for my Mom."  The High Point, N.C. native will launch a major Yahoo! Music promotion in December around "Hood Boy" as she becomes their "Get Your Freak On" (Fans' Only) artist. It is their premiere video program taking user generated content and editing it together uniting fans with superstar artists.  "Hood Boy," meanwhile, is logging nearly 100,000 plays at Fantasia's MySpace site (  

Smokey Robinson Guest Stars On 'Days Of Our Lives'

Source: Teni Halburian, Manager, Media Relations, Sony Pictures Television,

(November 14, 2006) Legendary artist
Smokey Robinson will guest star on NBC's hit daytime drama "Days of our Lives" today, November 14 and tomorrow, November 15 (1 p.m. in most markets) and will perform "I Love Your Face" from his recent album Timeless Love. In the two-episode story arc, Marlena Black (Deidre Hall) is lost in the snowy wilderness and is startled by a mysterious man carrying an axe!  She learns it's none other than Smokey Robinson who just so happens to be vacationing at a secluded cabin nearby.   He rescues her from the cold and brings her back to his place to recover in front of a warm fire and calls the authorities.  Later, John (Drake Hogestyn) tracks Marlena down at the cabin and Smokey gives an impromptu performance for the reunited couple singing "I Love Your Face." An acclaimed singer-songwriter whose career spans over four decades of hits, Robinson's recent release Timeless Love features some of the most romantic songs from jazz, big band as well as traditional pop standards of the '20s, '30s and '40s.  He continues to thrill sold-out audiences around the world with his voice, impeccable timing and profound sense of lyric.  His lifetime achievements include 36 Top 40 hits, a Grammy Living Legend Award, berths in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters' Hall of Fame, and the Soul Train Heritage Award among numerous other honours.  This December, Robinson will receive a Kennedy Center Honor for his lifetime contribution to the arts and American culture.    "Days of our Lives" is produced by Corday Productions Inc. in association with Sony Pictures Television.  Executive producer, Ken Corday, is following in the tradition of his parents, Betty and Ted Corday, who co-created "Days of our Lives" and helmed the series for many years.  Stephen Wyman is also co-executive producer.  Hogan Sheffer is the head writer. 

'More Fish' On Ghostface's December Menu

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(November 14, 2006)
Ghostface Killah will on Dec. 12 serve up his fourth album, "More Fish," less than a year on the heels of "Fishscale." In addition to production by MF Doom, Pete Rock, Madlib and Hi-Tek, among others, the new offering boasts guest appearances from Redman, Sheek Louch of the Lox and Ghostface's rap crew Theodore Unit.  The Staten Island-based group -- comprised of Trife Da God, Cappadonna, Shawn Wiggs and Ghostface's 17-year-old son Sun God -- is featured on the tracks "Miguel Sanchez" and "God 2 God."  The first single is "Good" and other album cuts include "Ghost Is Back," produced by Ghostface, the MF Doom-helmed "Cartoonz" and "Josephine," a Hi-Tek track that also appears on "Hi-Teknology Vol. 2."  "Fishscale" bowed at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 in April and has sold 295,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

TLC's Chilli Inks With Akon's Konvict Muzik

Excerpt from - Gail Mitchell, L.A.

(November 14, 2006) TLC founding member
Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas has inked with Akon's Konvict Muzik label, which is aiming to release her as-yet-untitled solo debut in mid-2007. The album will be distributed by Interscope.  "This will be totally opposite from when she was with the multiplatinum group," Akon tells Billboard. "She's an incredible artist and I want people to reconnect with her." Akon is working on half the album with Chilli; also lending production guidance are Missy Elliott, the Black Eyed Peas' and Timbaland.  Chilli has been relatively quiet since the release of TLC's final album, 2002's "3D." That set was released in the wake of group member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes death in a car accident.  In related news, Akon will begin casting in February for "Illegal Alien," a film inspired by the Senegalese-born singer's life story. "The majority of the film is basically true," says Akon, who will write, produce, co-direct and score the movie.

Hot Cup Of Joe

Excerpt from

(November 14, 2006) Rapper Fat Joe has teamed with Virgin Records and Imperial Records, a new urban label development unit of Caroline Distribution, for the release this week of his new album, "Me, Myself & I." The project features collaborations with the Game and Lil Wayne and production from Scott Storch (on first single "Make It Rain"), the Runners and DJ Khaled, among others.  "I just started writing on my own and made the album I truly wanted to make," the artist says, adding that the project was his "most in-depth album in terms of vulnerability and doing the music I love."  The new album is the follow-up to 2005's "All or Nothing," which bowed at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 293,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It was Fat Joe's final set for Atlantic.  "No hard feelings, but they weren't feeling what I was asking for," Joe says of splitting with the label. "I've always been an artist to them, and they didn't understand me asking for my own imprint. But one man's trash is another man's treasure."

Hunter Filling A Blues Shortage

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist

(Nov. 15, 2006) A nomination in the New and Emerging Artist category in this year's
U.S. Americana Music Awards and another, just announced, in the B.B. King International Artist category of Canada's Maple Blues Music Awards, are not such big surprises to 40-something British blues and R&B revivalist James Hunter.  New he may be to North American audiences, though he has performed often in these parts in the past. He opened for Van Morrison, who spotted him busking a few years back on a street corner in Colchester, Hunter's hometown, and immediately declared the unknown singer to be "the best-kept secret in British R&B and soul."  But Hunter isn't new to the music. He has been studying it since he was in his teens, after a friend returned from San Francisco with a load of obscure blues and R&B 45s that weren't available in Britain.  As a blues artist, Hunter has been "emerging" for most of his life, he said earlier this week in a phone interview from his band bus in the Montana Rockies.  He's in the middle of a never-ending North American tour that began in January with the U.S. release of his independently produced revivalist masterpiece, People Gonna Talk.  He makes his professional Canadian debut tonight at Toronto's Lula Lounge, a showcase appearance at the NXNE music conference in March notwithstanding.  He's at a loss to explain why his music has been setting fires wherever he plays.  "I think it reminds them of something in their past, something they've lost," he said. "But why they seem to like me so much I dunno. It's not as if there's a shortage of great blues musicians in America."  The subtlety and grace Hunter brings to his work haven't been heard on record since the days of Clyde McPhatter, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, elegant stylists all. "It's not like I was trying to copy anyone," said Hunter.  "It's a matter of feel. I never experienced any of this music in a live situation, and because of that, I think I listened more closely than most."

U.S. Clears Universal-BMG Deal

Excerpt from - By Alex Veiga

(November 14, 2006 ) LOS ANGELES (AP) - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department gave antitrust approval Tuesday to
Universal Music Group's planned acquisition of BMG Music Publishing for US$2.09 billion.  The deal must now receive approval from European regulators to become final. BMG - owned by German media company Bertelsmann AG - owns the rights to more than a million songs by contemporary recording artists such as Nelly, Maroon 5 and Coldplay, as well as classic hits by the Beach Boys, Barry Manilow and other entertainers.  Universal Music Group is a unit of Paris-based Vivendi SA. Its publishing arm controls the rights to songs by artists such as 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige and Chamillionaire.  If approved, the deal would combine the No. 3 and No. 4 music publishing catalogs.  "We were confident that the regulatory authorities would find that the acquisition did not raise competition concerns, and we appreciate that the Justice Department promptly reached the same conclusion," Universal Music Group said in a prepared statement.  European Union regulators said earlier this month they would issue a ruling on the deal by Dec. 8.  Unlike the recording business, which sells CDs and other products to be sold at retail, music publishers make money by licensing songs for use in movies, TV shows, CDs, video games, ringtones and other media.  The companies also collect performance fees when songs are played on the radio or in public venues such as clubs.  Some analysts have warned that EU regulators are likely to scrutinize the deal, in part because of an EU court ruling in July that overturned the European Commission's go-ahead for the merger that created Sony BMG Music Entertainment.  That 2004 deal, which reduced the number of major recording companies from five to four, is being re-examined.



November 13, 2006

2Pac, Untouchable, Interscope
Akon, Konvicted, Universal
, Smack That, Universal/Island
Anti_MC, It's Free But It's Not Cheap, Mush
B-Boyz, The Real Life: B-Boyz from the Hood, Urban Ikon
Beenie Man, Hmm Hmm, Virgin
Bobby Valentino, Special Occasion, Def Jam
Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded [Instrumental], Traffic Ent.
Brian McKnight, 10, Warner Bros.
Brooke Valentine, Pimped Out, Virgin
Busta Rhymes, Crown, BCD Music Group
Dan the Automator, 2K7 Instrumentals, DeCon Inc
David Banner, The Hustler's Guide to the Game, BCD Music Group
Daz Dillinger, Weekend, Virgin
Diddy, Tell Me/Diddy Rock, Bad Boy
Dimyn, Imagine That, Warlock
DJ Green Lantern, Tean Invasion: Best of DJ Green Lantern, Invasion GRP Canada
Earl Bostic, Earl Bostic Story, Proper
Eldridge Holmes, Deep Southern Soul, Aim
Fat Joe, Me, Myself and I, Virgin
Gregory Isaacs, Live in San Francisco, 2B1
J. Sands, Place to Be, B.U.K.A.
Junk Science, Pep Rocks, Embedded
Karaoke, Karaoke: Love Songs, Vol. 1, Audio Stream Karaoke
Lil' Flip, Connected, Thump
Lil' O, My Struggle My Hustle: The Lost Tapes, Bar None Ent
Lil Uno, Tha Boogieman, Toltec
Marques Houston, Veteran, Universal
Michael Jackson, Visionary: The Video Singles [Box Set], Sony
Miss Issa, Hurt No More,
Moan, The Debut,
Molemen, Killing Fields, Molemen
Moufs of Da Souf, We R the Streets,
Ms. Jody, What You Gonna Do When the Rent Is Due, Ecko
Ms. Kra-Z, Brown Is Beautiful,
Pocos Pero Locos, The Callbox, Silent Giant
R.P. Cola, Act Like U Know, Paid in Full
Sheree Brown, Zhakanaka: The Word, Brown Baby Ent.
Smigg Dirtee, The Resume, Black Armor
Solange, Solo Star [2006], Music World Entertainment
Stink Mitt, Red Album, Cochon
Surreal & The Sound Providers, True Indeed, Abb
Tamia, Between Friends, Image
Team Deck, I Need to Know, Vol. 1, BCD Music Group
Termanology and DC, Hood Politics, Vol. 4: Show and Prove, Brick
The Game, Doctor's Advocate, Geffen
The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die [CD/DVD], Bad Boy
Tony Tuff, Say Something, Groove Attack
Various Artists, Chicano Rap Bangers, Vol. 2, Thump
Various Artists, Chicano Rap Smooth Jams, Southland
Various Artists, Chosen Few: El Documental, Vol. 2 [DVD], EMI International
Various Artists, Everybody Loves Bob Marley, Neos Productions
Various Artists, Ghetto Whiskey: Rhythm Album #86, Greensleeves
Various Artists, Peg Hip Hop Rewind, Vol. 1, Phoenix
Various Artists, Reggae Masters, Vol. 2, Immergent
Various Artists, Riddim Driven: Consuming Fire, Voiceprint
Various Artists, Riddim Driven: Gully Slime, VIP
Various Artists, Riddim Driven: Sidewalk University, VIP
Various Artists, Riddim Driven: Two Bad Riddims, Vol. 3, VIP
Willie Feaster, On the Dirt Road: Rare and Unreleased NY Funk and Soul 1969-1979, Funky DeLicacie
Yellowman, Live in San Francisco, 2B1
Ying Yang Twins, II Live Crew, TVT
Young Jeezy, Tha Streets Iz Watchin, BCD Music Group
Yung Joc, Yung Joc: The Jocumentary,
Yusef, An Other Cup, Universal/Polydort


On-Set Improvisation Is Déjà Vu For Washington

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Hiscock, Special To The Star

(Nov. 11, 2006) LOS ANGELES—Over the years he has built a reputation as a focused, intense and uncompromising actor who has the power to inspire and influence others. Yet
Denzel Washington, who is arguably the top black actor of his generation, is quick to shrug off such heavy responsibility.  "I don't take what I do too seriously," he says. "I just try to keep things simple."  Although he projects a strait-laced image, the Oscar winner is loose and funny in person, laughing and joking as he talks about his latest film, Déjà Vu, a time-bending action thriller opening Nov. 22.  "When I read the script I thought we could get laughed off the planet if we didn't do it the right way," he recalled. The director Tony Scott agreed with him, and changes were made.  In it, Washington plays federal agent Doug Carlin whose investigation into a bomb explosion on a New Orleans ferry leads him on a race through space and time. On the way he discovers a puzzling emotional connection to a woman whose past holds the key to stopping a catastrophe.  Washington was fascinated by the story's time-shifting, backwards-moving structure and its exploration of a love story and a crime thriller.  "I think we have all had the feeling that we have been somewhere before," he said. "It's one of the big mysteries of life.  "I had a sort of déjà vu moment today. I was in my driveway getting the mail and I just had a feeling somebody was going to drive by so I waited a minute and a white truck comes up, stops, backs up and it was Eddie Murphy. He said, `What are you doing?' And I said, `Waiting for you.'  "I suppose it was more of a premonition than déjà vu, but I had this feeling somebody was going to come by." He laughed.

Déjà Vu is the third movie he has made with Tony Scott, after Crimson Tide and Man On Fire. "He has a gravity and people believe him," he said. "I love Denzel's obsessive quality and his internal darkness."  Any internal darkness 51-year-old Washington may have are confined to his acting. Off-screen his life revolves around his family, his church and his charities.  He has been married to the same woman, Pauletta Pearson, for 22 years and they have two sons, aged 22 and 15, and two daughters, 19 and 15. The eldest son, John, plays professional football with the St. Louis Rams.  "For some people, acting is their life and I said that too, but then I had a family and I understood the difference between life and making a living. Acting is making a living and a family is life."  Washington makes a good living, pulling in around $15 million (U.S.) a picture, and he uses some of it to help others. He is a major contributor to Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund which has helped to build hundreds of orphanages in Africa. He also works with an organization called Save Africa's Children and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.  "I was raised in the church and the Bible talks about tithing 10 per cent," he said. "I've done that every year and it's come back to me tenfold every year, so I continue to do it."  Washington grew up in a middle-class family in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. His father, Denzel Washington Sr., was a preacher and his mother was a beautician. Young Denzel, the second of three children, split his time between the church and the beauty parlour. His childhood, he says, was family-oriented and religious, which made life all the more difficult when his parents separated when he was 14.  He appeared in a college production of Othello and won a scholarship at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. A year later he moved to Los Angeles for small roles in TV films. He had his first movie role in Carbon Copy, a forgettable comedy, but his career took off in 1982 when he landed the role of Dr. Philip Chandler in the television series St. Elsewhere, which ran for six seasons.

While he was still in the series, he won the plum supporting role in Soldier's Story, Cry Freedom, The Pelican Brief, Philadelphia, Courage Under Fire, The Siege and three films with Spike Lee: Mo' Better Blues, Malcolm X and He Got Game. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1989 for Glory and Best Actor Oscar for Training Day in 2001.  Although Washington arrives on the set prepared, he does not always stick to the script, to the occasional surprise of his fellow actors.  "I started improvising with Spike Lee and I've done it more and more," he said. "I do the preparation and then forget about it and see what happens. I guess it might be a little tricky for other actors because they don't know what the heck I'm going to do, but I do usually try to get back to the cue line somewhere."  He is currently filming American Gangster on location in New York and Toronto. He plays Frank Lucas, a real-life heroin dealer in the late 1960s who is tracked down by a cop, played by Russell Crowe, who sends him to jail and then befriends him. It is directed by Tony Scott's brother, Ridley. "I don't think anybody's worked with these two brothers back to back like this before," he laughed.  Washington made his directing debut in 2002 with Antwone Fisher and he intends to direct his second feature The Great Debaters, based on a true story about a small college debating team, early next year. He's planning a World War II story, Brothers In Arms, and is also developing a film biography of Sammy Davis Jr.  Washington is content in his life. "I've learned to simplify things, be more thankful and to understand my God and my spiritual base and not be afraid to talk about it freely," he said.  "It ain't that complicated really. My mother used to say, `the older you get, the older you get.' Not any wiser. You just get older."

Emma Thompson: No Stranger To Fiction

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(Nov. 9, 2006) In the film world,
Emma Thompson is a rare bird. An accomplished actress and screenwriter, she is the only person to date to win Oscars wearing both hats. Last fall, during the Toronto International Film Festival, the 47-year-old Thompson said it was the wordsmith in her that made her fall in love with Zach Helm's script for Stranger than Fiction, a comedy (opening in theatres tomorrow) that messes with metaphysics. The film also stars Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Queen Latifah. “I didn't even read the whole script before I phoned [producer] Lindsay [Doran] to say I had to do this because I just wanted to be part of this extraordinarily brilliant and original concept. “The story to me works so wonderfully well in that very strange way that stories do when they make you sit and think, ‘This is crazy. This is mad. This couldn't happen.' And yet you go absolutely with it — hand in hand with your characters — because you're happy to be there. And so happy to have life explored in that particular way, with those particular voices. “Because I'm a screenwriter myself, I'm very, very demanding. And most scripts have not had enough demanded of them.” Marc Forster's aptly titled Stranger than Fiction is the story of a socially crippled, brilliant but suicidal writer, Kay Eiffel (Thompson). Eiffel is struggling to finish her latest, and potentially best, book. She is obsessing with how to kill off her main character, an equally socially crippled Internal Revenue Service agent, Harold Crick (Ferrell).

The metaphysical quandary arises when Crick literally starts hearing Eiffel (as the book's narrator) in his head, detailing his every move and thought. Fiction merges with real life, and Crick begins a quest to keep on living like he has never lived before. His daunting challenge is to make sure the novelist doesn't literally write him off. Not long ago, Thompson was seen by parents and kids as the buck-toothed, bulbous-nosed Nanny McPhee (Thompson wrote the screenplay). In Stranger than Fiction, she's dowdy again — this time, as the greasy haired, chain-smoking author who never changes her clothes. As Thompson sees her, Kay is “borderline bonkers” when the audience meets her. “She can't figure out how to kill her main character so she spends her days imagining all manner of death and destruction. You could say we meet her right at the end of her tether.” Since her recent roles have gone out of their way to diminish Thompson's looks, a first meeting with the British-born wit is a bit of shock. Visitors to her suite at the Four Seasons Hotel are greeted by a statuesque blonde, impeccably groomed in brown stiletto boots and a short skirt that show off obnoxiously long legs. In person, Thompson is a natural 5 foot 7 beauty with twinkling blue eyes and enviable cheekbones. She's an English literature graduate from Cambridge, and her diction is blue-blood British and reeks of class. But she's also disarmingly friendly, and as she continues to talk about her career in a totally unself-conscious way, it becomes clear that the lack of airs is genuine. A refreshing change from most mainstream celebrities who never seem to deviate from their own careful, calculating script. “Lindsay Doran is the greatest script editor I know,” Thompson says of the Stranger than Fiction producer who also recruited Thompson to write her Oscar-winning adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. (Her other Academy Award was for best actress opposite Anthony Hopkins in Howards End).

“She has edited all my scripts, and without her, I'd be nothing as a screenwriter.” She also agreed to take on the role as the anguished author before she knew that the part had actually been written for her by scriptwriter Helm, who had always pictured Thompson, and her distinguished voice, in dual duties as leading lady and narrator. Kay Eiffel is one odd duck, and Thompson says it's her quirkiness that endeared her. For instance, when she finishes a cigarette, she takes out a tissue, spits into it and then uses it to snuff out the cigarette. “I thought that was wonderfully strange,” Thompson muses. “There was just something about it that was so deliciously disgusting.” Over the years, Thompson's perverse sense of humour has stood her in good stead. First, as a member of Cambridge's famed Footlights group (where many of the Monty Python members first met), and later as a stand-up comic. In 1992, she turned down the role played by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, the steamy box office hit. Not one to miss a beat, Thompson keenly observed that “Stone was shagging Michael Douglas like a donkey, and not an inch moved. If that had been me, there would have been things flying around hitting me in the eye.” But while she likes to crack jokes, Thompson is also deadly serious about her craft. And writing, she adds, is “much more difficult” than acting. “I've written enough to make me miserable,” says Thompson, who has been writing since she was 20, and gets up early most mornings to write for two or three hours, and then the rest of the day is free to be mom to her six-year-old daughter, Gaia Romilly. “I don't like sitting for hours. I can't do it. ... I can manage it as long as I know what I'm writing. I think that's the trick. The last one I did was Nanny McPhee and I knew what the story was before I set out to write it. I've never experienced that before.” That film was based loosely on the Nurse Matilda children's books by Christianna Brand.

Thompson is one of two daughters born to the late Eric Thompson, creator of the children's program The Magic Roundabout, and actress Phyllida Law, with whom she has frequently appeared on screen. She said she was brought up to believe stories are a vital part of life and a vital tool to help you figure out where you belong. “I was brought up on a diet of story,” Thompson says. “I love narratives. I'm a narrative junkie actually. And I suppose my whole brain was affected and developed very profoundly by great early children's writers like Joan Aiken, Leon Garfield and Alan Garner. “It was always impressed upon me not only intellectually but also emotionally, that story was something we needed because our lives are so chaotic. And one of the reasons I love this film so much is because it makes it so clear that story is how we frame things because we cannot cope with the crazy and chaotic nature of life. “I'm always writing stories in my head. Through my daughter or whatever. I'm addicted to it. I think you use stories to heal yourself as well. So they make sense of life to me in a way,” adds Thompson, who is married (and had her daughter) with fellow actor Greg Wise. Before that, she was married to Kenneth Branagh. That union ended in 1994 because of rumoured infidelities between Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter. Since the birth of her daughter, Thompson has deliberately cut back on acting roles. Besides the Nanny McPhee turn, she appeared in the award-winning HBO miniseries Angels in America and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (she was Professor Sibyll Trelawney). Working on Stranger than Fiction was a gem because of its intelligence and her co-stars, Thompson says. “There was no posturing on this set. It was heaven, frankly. I adored every moment of it,” says the actress, who is reported to keep her Academy Awards in the bathroom of her West Hampstead home because everyone goes there and it saves her from having to run upstairs every time someone asks to see them. Thompson has been in the acting game for more than 25 years, but she says she still gets a kick out of the process. “I love it, probably because I don't do it very much. For instance, I haven't done any shooting this year at all. Stranger than Fiction was shot last year in Chicago and it took me three and a half weeks. That's all I've done in the past two years, so it keeps you very hungry.”

Actor Jack Palance Dies

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Nov. 10, 2006) LOS ANGELES —
Jack Palance, the craggy-faced menace in Shane, Sudden Fear and other films who turned to comedy at 70 with his Oscar-winning self-parody in City Slickers, died Friday.  Palance died of natural causes at his home in Montecito, Calif., surrounded by family, said spokesman Dick Guttman. He was 87.  When Palance accepted his Oscar for best supporting actor he delighted viewers of the 1992 Academy Awards by dropping to the stage and performing one-armed push-ups to demonstrate his physical prowess.  “That’s nothing, really,” he said slyly. “As far as two-handed push-ups, you can do that all night, and it doesn’t make a difference whether she’s there or not.’’  That year’s Oscar host, Billy Crystal, turned the moment into a running joke, making increasingly outlandish remarks about Palance’s accomplishments throughout the show.  It was a magic moment that epitomized the actor’s 40 years in films. Always the iconoclast, Palance had scorned most of his movie roles.  “Most of the stuff I do is garbage,” he once told a reporter, adding that most of the directors he worked with were incompetent, too.  “Most of them shouldn’t even be directing traffic,” he said.  Movie audiences, though, were electrified by the actor’s chiselled face, hulking presence and the calm, low voice that made his screen presence all the more intimidating.

His film debut came in 1950, playing a murderer named Blackie in Panic in the Streets.  After a war picture, Halls of Montezuma, he portrayed the ardent lover who stalks the terrified Joan Crawford in 1952’s Sudden Fear. The role earned him his first Academy Award nomination for supporting actor.  The following year brought his second nomination when he portrayed Jack Wilson, the swaggering gunslinger who bullies peace-loving Alan Ladd into a barroom duel in the Western classic Shane.  That role cemented Palance’s reputation as Hollywood’s favourite menace, and he went on to appear in such films as Arrowhead (as a renegade Apache), Man in the Attic (as Jack the Ripper), Sign of the Pagan (as Attila the Hun) and The Silver Chalice (as a fictional challenger to Jesus).  Other prominent films included Kiss of Fire, The Big Knife, I Died a Thousand Deaths, Attack!, The Lonely Man and House of Numbers.  Weary of being typecast, Palance moved with his wife and three young children to Lausanne, Switzerland, at the height of his career. He spent six years abroad but returned home complaining that his European film roles were “the same kind of roles I left Hollywood because of.”  His career failed to regain momentum upon his return, and his later films included The Professionals, The Desperadoes, Monte Walsh, Chato’s Land and Oklahoma Crude.  When he appeared as Fidel Castro in 1969’s Che! about Latin American revolutionary Ernesto (Che) Guevara, he told a reporter: ``At this stage of my career, I don’t formulate reasons why I take roles — the price was right.”  He also appeared frequently on television in the 1960s and 1970s, winning an Emmy in 1965 for his portrayal of an end-of-the-line boxer in Requiem for a Heavyweight.

He and his daughter, Holly Palance, hosted the oddity show Ripley’s Believe It or Not and he starred in the short-lived series The Greatest Show on Earth and Bronk.  Forty-one years after his auspicious film debut, Palance played against type, to a degree. His City Slickers character, Curly, was still a menacing figure to dude ranch visitors Crystal, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby, but with a comic twist. And Palance delivered his one-liners with surgeon-like precision.  Through most of his career, Palance maintained his distance from the Hollywood scene. In the late 1960s he bought a sprawling cattle and horse ranch north of Los Angeles. He also owned a bean farm near his home town of Lattimer, Pa.  Although most of his film portrayals were as primitives, Palance was well-spoken and college-educated. His favourite pastimes away from the movie world were painting and writing poetry and fiction.  A strapping 6-feet-4 and 210 pounds, Palance excelled at sports and won a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina. He left after two years, disgusted by commercialization of the sport.  He decided to use his size and strength as a prizefighter, but after two hapless years that resulted in little more than a broken nose that would serve him well as a screen villain, he joined the Army Air Corps in 1942.  A year later he was discharged after his B-24 lost power on takeoff and he was knocked unconscious.  The GI. Bill of Rights provided Palance’s tuition at Stanford University, where he studied journalism. But the drama club lured him, and he appeared in 10 comedies. Just before graduation he left school to try acting professionally in New York.

“I had always wanted to express myself through words,” he said in a 1957 interview. “But I always thought I was too big to be an actor. I could see myself knocking over tables. I thought acting was for little ... guys.’’  He made his Broadway debut in a comedy, The Big Two, in which he had but one line, spoken in Russian, a language his parents spoke at home.  The play lasted only a few weeks, and he supported himself as a short-order cook, waiter, lifeguard and hot dog seller between other small roles in the theatre.  His career breakthrough came when he was chosen as Anthony Quinn’s understudy in the road company of A Streetcar Named Desire, then replaced Marlon Brando in the Stanley Kowalski role on Broadway. The show’s director, Elia Kazan, chose him in 1950 to play a murderer in Panic in the Streets, which starred Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas.  Born Walter Jack Palahnuik in Pennsylvania coal country on Feb. 18, 1919, Palance was the third of five children of Ukrainian immigrants. His father worked the mines for 39 years until he died of black lung disease in 1955.  In interviews, Palance recalled bitterly that his family had to buy groceries at the company store, though prices were cheaper elsewhere.  Yet, he told a Saturday Evening Post writer, he had “a good childhood, like most kids think they have.”  “It was fine to play there in the third-growth birch and aspen, along the sides of slag piles,” he said.

Jack Warner - Screen Legends

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Yaccato

NAME: Jack Warner
FAME: Movie mogul
BIRTH: Aug. 2, 1892, London, Ont.
DEATH: Sept. 9, 1978, Los Angeles

(Nov. 10, 2006) The Warner family rolled the dice with their butcher shop earnings and bought a dingy movie theatre in 1905.  Young Jacob (later known as Jack) led his three brothers on a trail of dreams that pointed to Hollywood.  Warner Brothers was founded in 1923, its place etched in history with the first talking picture in 1927, The Jazz Singer featuring superstar Al Jolson.  The studio had a gritty image with tough guys like James Cagney and dangerous divas like Bette Davis.  There was no doubt that Jack was a visionary. Under his strong hand, countless cinematic masterpieces were born: 42nd Street, Public Enemy and of course, Casablanca.  He remained active into the 1970s, earning him the nickname The Last Mogul.  When he cashed out, he said, "Who'd have thought a butcher's boy would end up with 24 million smackers?"  A fortune that Jacob Warner, of London, Ont., would scarcely have dreamed of.

Asia Through A Lens

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Terauds, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 10, 2006) Toronto needs its many small film festivals for no other reason than to help get past ethnic stereotypes.  For the average filmgoer, India is Bollywood musicals, China is martial arts and South Korea is stylish gangsters. But just as indie American cinema trashes the Hollywood formulas, so do smaller-scale efforts from other parts of the world.  The 10th-annual
Reel Asian International Film Festival, which gets underway on Wednesday, is an excellent way to sample the unusual and provocative from all parts of Asia — and from Asians living in North America.  The five-day event mixes features with shorts programs, as well as some insider discussions and events for wannabe filmmakers at the Isabel Bader Theatre, Innis Town Hall, Bloor Cinema and the NFB Cinema.  Festival organizers say there are 15 world premieres among the 65 works, from 17 countries, to be screened.  The festival's opening movie is After This, Out Exile, by Hong Kong filmmaker Patrick Tam. Although an advance screening copy was not available, there are several other excellent features being shown this year — most of them serious works that begin with the most ordinary of ordinary life to tell us something insightful about who we are as individuals and cultures within cultures.

The following features are all being screened at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave. In chronological order:


·  Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.

Canadian visual artist Ho Tam is a master of making a strong statement with a minimum of means. He has now taken his penchant for understated cultural criticism from the art gallery wall to the big screen in a quietly intriguing browse through the diaries of James Wentzy.  Wentzy drifted from the Great Plains to the Big Apple to become a professional photographer and video chronicler of gay liberation in the 1970, and the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s.  Wentzy is a quiet, almost solitary man who sees the world with a diarist's detachment. Because Tam's camera adds another layer of filtering between us and the events Wentzy lived through, there's a double-opaque quality to the narrative. We are there with Wentzy, yet we are also curiously adrift on own at times, and in places with which we may have no direct connection.  Tam's slow ramble through another man's life leaves us a bit dizzy and disoriented. It also leaves us with the same question that powerful writers like Albert Camus left behind: do we make life happen, or does life happen to us?  Tam, a former Torontonian who now teaches at the University of Victoria, will give a free talk at Innis Town Hall at 6:15 p.m.


·  Nov. 18, 1 p.m.

Frank Chin is the anti-James Wentzy. This larger-than-life actor, writer and cultural gadfly first began shouting out for an honest Asian-American identity in the late 1960s. Through writing, founding a theatre and prodding anyone he could get in his sights, Chin worked tirelessly to cleanse American culture of Chinese stereotypes, promote Asian artists and advocate for the rights of Japanese-Americans who had been treated badly during World War II.  American documentary filmmaker Curtis Choy creates a lively layering of past and present as he lets Chin talk us through his colourful life. Along the way, we recognize how cultural recognition never does happen by itself, that it needs the tireless (and thankless) work of determined individuals to succeed.  Choy's story occasionally gets bogged down in personal feuds that have no meaning to anyone outside Chin's circle. But it's never boring. Choy will be present at the screening.


·  Nov. 18, 5 p.m.

Canadian filmmaker Hohyun Joung encapsulates the immigrant's dilemma over the clash of cultures with an adult's epiphany of self-awareness as she travels to South Korea to claim a piece of land left to her by her recently deceased father. At the centre of this story, told in shaky, grainy hand-held footage and old photographs, is Umma, Joung's stubborn, cranky, born-again Christian mother.  As Joung begins to slowly peel the onion-skin layers of resentment and lack of information, she uncovers a story that mirrors the rapid evolution of South Korean society over the last three decades. Umma, never the meek, submissive wife traditional culture demanded she be, has, with her husband's death and with the help of her zealous fellow church members, finally found freedom in her golden years.  Mother and daughter may not find each other in a tearful embrace by the end of this tale, but they have developed a deeper appreciation and understanding without veering into sentimentality or melodrama.


·  Nov. 18, 7 p.m.

Think of this as Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby set in post-1949 China by filmmaker Zhang Yuan. Little four-year-old Qiang is deposited at a boarding kindergarten by his faceless father. There, the women who run the institution expect total and absolute conformity from their co-ed charges: from squatting in the latrine while a stopwatch is held above their heads, to washing up at the end of the day to timed whistle blows.  The little boy playing Qiang is magnificent as the big-eyed misfit — at first uncomprehending, then, later as a deliberate underminer of conformist authority. But he suffers endlessly for his individualism. The movie's title comes from the kindergarten's equivalent of little god stars, used to reward well-behaved children.


·  Nov. 18, 9 p.m.

American filmmaker Ham Tran's searing tale follows a Saigon family in the aftermath of the American army's 1975 withdrawal from Vietnam. Father (Long Nguyen) gets separated from his wife, young son and mother and sent to a series of brutal "re-education camps." The women and boy get out of the country by boat and attempt to start a new life in California.  Tran has made two movies in this two-hour sprawl: one depicts the incessant brutality of the concentration camps, the other explores the difficulties of leaving your homeland for a different culture and language. There is a lot of emotion at play here, and the filmmaker is a master at setting up and releasing tension.  Despite so many Vietnamese "boat people" having resettled in North America a quarter-century ago, most of us have never had to imagine the hardships behind the journey. Tran has had the courage to show them to us now.


·  Nov. 19, 5 p.m.

This Indonesian romance-comedy-turned-adventure by Joko Anwar is not a great movie, but the sheer cute-as-a-button charm of 22-year-old Nicholas Saputra as Joni, the lovestruck film-reel courier, helps the 86 minutes whoosh by in a pleasant blur.  The film's best moments come from a Perils of Pauline sequence that begins with Joni having his moped stolen in a blind-man-crossing-the-street scam in downtown Jakarta.  Otherwise, the characters are two-dimensional and the plot has some disbelief-stretching potholes.

For full festival details, visit

EUR Interview: Terry Crews -- The Harsh Times Interview

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(November 10, 2006) *
Terry Crews was born in Flint, Michigan on July 30, 1968. Although he exhibited an interest in the arts at an early age, he blossomed into a football phenom as a walk-on at Western Michigan University. After graduation, he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, and went on to enjoy a six-year career in the NFL. After retiring from pro football in 1999, the buff beefcake moved to L.A. to take a shot at showbiz. Hollywood soon took to the charismatic character actor who quickly proved that he was more than just a handsome hunk. Terry has since delivered a string of memorable support performances in such movies as Friday After Next, White Chicks, Training Day, Starsky & Hutch, The Longest Yard, Deliver Us from Eva, Malibu's Most Wanted, Click, and The Benchwarmers. On TV, he appeared on The District, My Wife and Kids, CSI: Miami and All of Us before landing a leading role as Julius Rock on Everybody Hates Chris. Here, Terry talks about his latest big-screen outing, a quickie cameo in Harsh Times, a gritty inner-city saga starring Christian Bale and Eva Longoria.

Kam Williams: What interested you in this picture?

Terry Crews: Well, it was a small role, but pretty pivotal. The movie is basically all about how this guy's life is spiralling downwards. The movie starts out dark and kind of falls off a cliff. But I'm one of the only guys he's ever trusted. I don't want to give it away, but I'm one of the most pivotal plot points in the movie. It's a real cool deal, and I was honoured to be asked to do this.

KW: Do you see this movie as being similar to Training Day?

TC: Oh yeah, it's definitely similar, but deeper. I think that David [director David Ayer] meant for it to be that way because he grew up in L.A.and experienced these things firsthand.

KW: How would you describe your character, Darrell?

TC: He's checked out of life a long time ago. He's just decided he's going to call it quits. It's kind of wild, because I know a lot of guys like this.  I grew up in Flint, Michigan, and I knew a lotta' dudes who kinda peaked early. You know what I mean? In high school, they may have had all the girls, but then all of a sudden something in life disappointed them, and they never recovered. That's who Darrell is. I have so many friends from Flint who have checked out. That's the reason why I identify with the character.

KW: Flint was a company town being hit hard by GM abandoning the city, so it must have been a tough place to grow up.

TC: In Flint, there were two ways to go. You either lucked-out and got a jobin the shop over at General Motors, or there was no work for you and you had to leave by the time you were 20 years-old, or you'd be trapped. My character, Darrell, is one still living in his mother's house who never really recovered. I knew so many of those guys that I was determined never to end up like that. My whole mission in life, whether playing football or going into movies, was to get out of Flint, and not become a statistic.

For full interview by Kam Williams, go HERE.

Tony Rock Climbs Rungs Of Stage, TV, & Film

Excerpt from - By Kenya M Yarbrough

(November 10, 2006) *Comic/actor
Tony Rock has returned to us this fall with the show "All Of Us." The sitcom was one of many that were dangling last season hoping to fall into the new line-up of shows for the UPN/WB merged network the CW.  Fortunately for fans, "All Of Us" make the cut. "We survived the cut and we survived the merger. Programming wise we'll be in more markets, but we won't see any changes. We've been doing this for four years and it's pretty much like riding a bike," Rock said of being on the new network. "Last season ended with Dirk, my character, finding out he had a daughter. So this season we're going to go more into Dirk raising a teenage child."   And in addition to having his TV work down, Rock says that he's quite aware of how the TV industry works. He added that because of the nature of the beast, he wasn't necessarily worried about making it back this season.   "I try to always stay optimistic about it because you can't control it. If you get a TV show, it can be off in a day. So I try not to lose sleep over it. When I see people on the street they say they love the show, so I know we have some support."   Some of that support is from his very famous comedic brother, Chris in more ways than one. Of course, the elder Chris, is very supportive of Tony's career, but it doesn't hurt that Chris' acclaimed show, "Everybody Hates Chris," precedes "All of Us" on the CW on Monday nights.   "So my mother doesn't have to change the channel for a whole hour," Rock joked.

In addition to Chris, Tony has five other siblings, who he said are all equally funny, though only he and Chris have decided to make it a career. However, he added that there may be another young Rock stepping onto the stand-up stage in the near future.   "I have a younger brother that's unbelievably funny. But he doesn't understand that this is work, he just checks for girls after the show and said, 'I wanna do this.' He doesn't get the process just yet," he said.   With two famous and very successful comedian brothers, you might think that the remaining brothers and sister might become a bit jealous. But Rock shrugs off such a notion explaining that whatever one of them has, all of them have.   "Why would any of 'em be jealous. We weren't raised that way. I just bought my sister a truck and me and Chris, and we paid for her school. If anybody should be jealous, we should be jealous of her. She's the only girl and she's younger and she gets whatever she wants," he joked.   Though Tony Rock has become a Hollywood name mostly because of his gig on "All Of Us," the comedic actor has been hitting the comedy stages for almost eight years and continues to do stand-up, which he considers his foremost career.   "When the show wraps for the summer, I'm on a plane to do stand-up. I'm a comic, I just happened to get the opportunity to act because of my stand-up," he said.   As a matter of fact he just showcased his act on the new "Def Comedy Jam" on HBO. 

"I was the first comic on the first show. I'm one of the guys that's going to lead the brigade of Def Jam comics into the battlefield," he said of the return of the hit TV program that launched 15 years ago. If you missed episode 1, check the re-air schedule at   That 15-year span has brought some changes: Mike Epps is the show host and it is now filmed in Los Angeles instead of New York. But EUR asked Rock if he noticed any changes in comedy:   "There's pretty much nothing new under the sun - people are still in relationships, people are still somewhat anti-government when it's appropriate, and white people still do this and black people still do that, so as long as those things are going to continue there'll always be things to write about. It's perspective that makes it different."   In addition to his television and stage work, Tony Rock has also dabbled in movies. He stars in an HBO film "Life Support" that is expected to air later this fall. The film was written and directed by Nelson George and also stars Queen Latifah and Tracee Ellis Ross.   "It's a drama," Rock said. "I play a heroin addict in recovery that has HIV, and I'm actually still kind of funny in it, if you can believe that."   The movie is the true-life story of Nelson's sister, a mother who gets caught up in the drug game in the late 80s, contracts AIDS, and loses everything. The story follows her struggle to turn her life around and become a positive role model and an AIDS activist.   Rock also scored a part in the film "Homie Spumoni," which is about an African-American man raised by an Italian family, who is completely unaware that he is black until his family moves to America. The film stars Whoopi Goldberg, Paul Mooney, Donald Faison, and Joey Fatone (NSYNC). Now while the premise may be too much to handle, Rock explained that that's sometimes what it takes for comedy.   "Because it's a comedy, you can just let that go," he said. "There are a million comedies where you say, 'That couldn't possibly happen,' but you just let it go for the laughs."


TIFF Scholarship Honours Adilman

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Nov. 10, 2006) Former Toronto Star columnist and entertainment editor
Sid Adilman hosted many journalists who covered the Toronto International Film Festival and assisted countless others, so a scholarship in his memory to foster mentorship of young film critics is an appropriate way to further his legacy, festival chief Piers Handling says.  Adilman, who retired in 2002, died of heart failure last month after a long career that featured a hunger for entertainment news scoops and columns that championed Canadian culture.  A public celebration of his life will be held Sunday at Trinity-St. Paul's United Church, 427 Bloor St. W., starting at 3:30 p.m.  "The Canadian arts and cultural communities lost a great champion, and the Toronto International Film Festival Group lost a dear friend with the passing of Sid Adilman," Handling said. "Sid's professional and personal commitment to the festival was profound."  Donations to the Sid Adilman Festival Scholarship will go toward advancing the journalistic skills of young reporters to assist them in developing relationships in the arts and fostering an appreciation of Canadian and international cinema.  For information, contact Sarah Bullick at 416-934-3211 or email

Canadian Film Centre Unveils New Face

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(Nov. 9, 2006) The
Canadian Film Centre gave itself a new look yesterday, unveiling a hipper brand logo designed to take it boldly into the multiplatform/digital era. Founded 18 years ago, the centre was looking a "little tacky, to tell you the truth," said founder-chairman Norman Jewison, who was part of a press conference held at the centre's historical Winfields Estate in north Toronto. "I know something about makeup," added the Academy Award-winning Jewison, who has directed such classics as Moonstruck, Jesus Christ Superstar and Fiddler on the Roof. "In movies, we spend a lot of time making people up. Today, we're giving the centre a new face." The centre's executive director, Slawko Klymkiw, dressed somberly in a black-and-white pinstriped suit and black shirt, told the crowd that the jazzed-up brand identity is part of a strategic plan to bring along new programs addressing multiplatform content, international co-production and script development, an enhanced feature film program, and expanded training in interactive cinema. Klymkiw, a former programming executive with the CBC, also announced a new initiative called the NBC Universal Multiplatform Program, which will be rolled out in 2007 and encourage audio-visual innovation in areas such as convergent mobile/TV applications, to projects that span gaming consoles, the Web and digital cinema. "This place reflects the vision and hard work of Norman Jewison, who long ago recognized the need for a place for storytellers to perfect their craft and embrace emerging talent," Klymkiw said. At the end of the press conference, Klymkiw gave Jewison, who always wears a ball cap, one stamped with CFC's new logo. "We'd like you to wear this to your next directors guild meeting," he told the filmmaker. To which Jewison quipped: "And you keep wearing that suit. You're right out of The Godfather."

Eminem Signs With ICM For Film Representation

Excerpt from

(November 10, 2006) *Rap star Eminem has signed with talent agency International Creative Management (ICM) for representation in Hollywood as the Detroit superstar looks to boost his presence in film. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Eminem left his old firm United Talent Agency (UTA) and has brought his Paramount-based production company, Interscope/Shady/Aftermath Films, along with him under ICM. With the move, Eminem is looking to book more film roles to supplement his previous work in 2002's semiautobiographical "8 Mile," which brought him critical acclaim and earned him a best original song Oscar for "Lose Yourself."  He is currently attached to star in a feature adaptation of "Have Gun, Will Travel" for Paramount Pictures.  Eminem continues to be represented in all areas by Goliath Artists Inc.

Hendrix Biopic Still In The Works

Excerpt from

(November 9, 2006) *A film about the life and death of Jimi Hendrix is currently in its third re-write, and actors are continuing to audition for the lead role, according to the guitar legend’s brother, Leon Hendrix. "As far as musically, there will be true renditions with modern elements intermixed within the overall structure of Jimi's music," he tells Billboard. "There will be covers by various artists, as well as some scoring variables musically throughout the film that are fairly reminiscent of Jimi's style -- with various contemporary guitar players reproducing that particular approach." In the meantime, Leon Hendrix is in the studio working on his own album to be released early next year from the Gotham Metro Company, which will also release the upcoming biopic. The CD is a follow-up to Leon’s 2005 debut, "Keeper of the Flame," which is available through his Web site. Among the tracks are "Last Mistake" ("a funky rock thing reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan or Lenny Kravitz," says producer Greg Hampton), "Little South of Crazy" (co-written with Danny Tate) and the midtempo ballad "Blue September." "[‘Blue September’] came about because Jimi died on Sept. 18, 1970, and Seattle in September is kind of grey and blue," Leon tells Billboard. "Most of my songs are about Jimi -- he's the most shining star in my life." The song can be sampled on Hendrix's MySpace site.

EUR Film Review: Candy

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(November 13, 2006) *Although
Heath Ledger landed an Oscar nomination for his work in Brokeback Mountain, he actually delivers a far more deserving performance here as Dan, a hedonistic heroin addict as intoxicated by love as by the drugs he's mainlining.  Fellow Aussie Abbie Cornish co-stars in the title role as Candy, the object of Dan's affection, and a similarly self-destructive soul willing to do almost anything for her next fix. Based on Luke Davies' novel of the same name, this faithful adaptation presents a disturbingly realistic look at two losers blissfully spiralling down a suicidal path. The story is set in Sydney where we find unpublished poet Dan and struggling artist Candy in a state of denial about their dire predicament.  For full review by Kam Williams, please GO HERE.



New Al-Jazeera Hits Airwaves

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jim Krane, Associated Press

(Nov. 15, 2006) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Ten years after its broadcasts first jolted Arab and American leaders,
Al-Jazeera's long-awaited English channel lit up the airwaves Wednesday and quickly showed it was different to Western rivals such as CNN.  The new channel's programs focused on the Third World, screening grim images of Palestinian suffering and an upbeat take on an Islamic militia in Somalia — all in high-definition TV.  But some of Al-Jazeera English's biggest potential audiences, including Arab Americans, were not among the 80 million homes that could receive the 24-hour broadcasts from the channel's headquarters in Doha, Qatar.  None of the seven major U.S. cable and satellite TV operators carried the slick inaugural broadcast.  "It's November 15th, a new era in television news," said anchor Sami Zeidan, speaking in front of a flashy newsroom backdrop.  In one of the first reports, the correspondent spoke of "the agony of Gaza" as the pictures showed Palestinians scavenging for food in the rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli bombardment. Malnourished children lay in hospital beds and an Israeli helicopter gunship fired rounds overhead.  The news bulletin gave less time to Wednesday's report from Israel, where a rocket attack by Palestinian militants had killed an Israeli woman.  Al-Jazeera English appeared eager to show its global reach, shuffling live broadcasts from correspondents in Sudan's Darfur, Iran, Zimbabwe and Brazil, and breaking in with a report of a tsunami striking Japan.

Many correspondents will look familiar to news junkies. Al-Jazeera's reporter in Brazil is former CNN Havana correspondent Lucia Newman. Another CNN notable, former Johannesburg bureau chief Mike Hanna, turned up in the Doha studio.  The network hired more than 500 staffers, poaching journalists from American and British networks, including former CNN anchor Riz Khan, the British Broadcasting Corp.'s David Frost and former ABC correspondent Dave Marash.  Al-Jazeera, which is bankrolled by Qatar's royal family, hopes to steal viewers from CNN and the BBC by giving the world's 1 billion English speakers news from a non-Western perspective.  In London, BBC Global News Director Richard Sambrook said Al-Jazeera may take away some of his network's viewers, but the new channel's reach stands far below BBC World's 270 million homes.  "They've made a very confident start, which isn't surprising since they have a large budget and had a long time to prepare," Sambrook said.  But Al-Jazeera's Third World focus could backfire, Sambrook said.  "They clearly want to differentiate themselves from the BBC and CNN by representing developing countries," he said. "It will take some time to see whether they can do that and still keep broad appeal. That may limit their audience."  In its report from Mogadishu, Somalia — not exactly a regular feature of Western news bulletins — Al-Jazeera English said the notoriously lawless city was now the safest it has been for a decade, thanks to the Islamic Courts militia, a group accused of terrorist ties.  Al-Jazeera's feisty Arabic news channel has built a reputation for vexing Western leaders, smashing taboos in the Arab world, and broadcasting the views of political opponents who would never be aired by regular Arabic TV channels. At one time or another, no fewer than 18 Arab governments have banned Al-Jazeera journalists from operating in their countries.

U.S. President George W. Bush's administration has criticized Al-Jazeera's coverage of the bloodshed in Iraq and said its broadcasting of messages from Osama bin Laden amounts to incitement to terrorism.  Al-Jazeera says the bin Laden messages and Iraqi images are newsworthy. It has urged U.S. officials to regard the channel as the ideal venue for addressing the Muslim world.  Al-Jazeera English has broadcast centres in Doha, London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, making it widely available in Europe and the Middle East, including Israel.  U.S. carriers have adopted a "show-me" policy, waiting to see what sort of reaction the station generates before carrying it, said Al-Jazeera spokesman Michael Holtzman.  Al-Jazeera English will be available to American customers of GlobeCast, the subsidiary of a French company that offers satellite TV service and three smaller providers.

Spread Rumours, Stars Say

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Lee-Anne Goodman, Canadian Press

(Nov. 13, 2006) The downtown bistro is loud with lunch diners, but there's no drowning out the nationalist pride emanating from the stars of CBC's sexy half-hour comedy
Rumours, struggling in the ratings despite being one of Canada's most entertaining new shows.  "A number of friends of mine in L.A. and New York, people in the industry, they have seen the show and have said: `Wow, this show's great — when are we going to get it down here?'" says actor David Haydn-Jones, who plays Ben, a grumpy sportswriter whose reluctant employment at a women's magazine in order to pay the bills is at the heart of Rumours, airing Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC.  And yet, the 35-year-old Haydn-Jones says, Canadians give him "the old CBC eye roll" when he tells them about Rumours.  "My family's in Calgary and I grew up in Saskatchewan. I was there recently and talking to some nice people in small-town Saskatchewan and they were all impressed to hear I was on TV. They asked me: `Oh, what channel is your show on?' When I said the CBC, they actually rolled their eyes and said: `Oh, we don't watch that.'"  "It drives me crazy — it's not The Littlest Hobo, for God's sake."  Haydn-Jones's co-star, Amy Price-Francis, who plays his professional rival and simmering love interest on Rumours, shares his frustration.  "As Canadians, we're so quick to be dismissive of the television and the film we produce here," says Price-Francis, 31, a luminous redhead with porcelain skin who's wearing a Rumours T-shirt.  "The audience craves quality programming, but we have to make it for less money and then we have to promote it for less money, and then, after doing that, there's this pre-judgment from the media and the Canadian public that it can't possibly be any good," she adds.

Meanwhile, Haydn-Jones points out, shows that were cancelled in Canada due to poor ratings are going gangbusters in syndication in the United States, especially the CBC's Da Vinci's Inquest, scrapped in Canada but now one of the top-rated syndicated shows south of the border.  "And that's my point: See everyone? See Canada? You can love it here first before it goes on to become a success in the States," said Haydn-Jones, who possesses an impressive résumé of roles in both Canadian and American fare, including the recent film The Last Kiss.  Rumours is based on the Quebec television hit Rumeurs, and the idea to make an English version was the brainstorm of longtime television impresario Moses Znaimer, who watched the show in Montreal and was bowled over. The CBC has committed to 20 episodes of the show, and Price-Francis has some advice to the public broadcaster: start rebroadcasting the show from the start to attract more viewers.  "You own it, you bought it, you're 24 hours now — promote the hell out of it and run it as often as you can. Just do it!" says Price-Francis.  Sadie LeBlanc, who plays the show's sex vixen, is grateful, at least, that the show will have a 20-episode run.  "They're giving the show a chance and letting people connect with the characters and stick with the show," says LeBlanc, a 29-year-old lifelong Torontonian who's currently in a strange situation.

The show, despite being set in Toronto, is shot in Montreal with the same largely Quebecois crew from Rumeurs — and they don't believe she doesn't speak a word of French, referring to her simply as the "French girl."  As for the love lives of Haydn-Jones and Price-Francis? The two are suddenly coy when asked about their significant others, glancing and grinning bashfully at one another.  "We are great friends and great colleagues. We care a lot about each other on and off screen," Haydn-Jones says carefully, and then quickly adds: "And I care about Sadie, too! We are a very close family and close team."

Conquering Heroes

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(Nov. 13, 2006) Contrary to cliché, heroes do not always triumph. Sometimes the bad guys win. And on TV, it's usually the mediocre ones.  So it came as a delightful surprise — to the critics and to its creators — when
Heroes very quickly emerged as the season's hottest new show, debuting to the highest ratings (14.3 million) of any NBC drama of the last five years. In Canada, where it also airs on Global, it averages a commensurate 1.2 million.  The show had everything going against it: a serialized drama sandwiched into a season of almost nothing but serialized dramas. A large cast of mostly unknown actors. A complex, convoluted, leisurely unfolding storyline. A heightened reality in which ordinary humans are suddenly able to fly, instantaneously heal, read minds, see the future and wilfully manipulate space and time ...  Without a cape or stitch of Spandex in sight.  And that may be its most super-heroic accomplishment: Genre television for a mass audience, with an appeal well beyond the expected geek contingent, downloading episodes in their parents' basement.  "It's taking that sense of fantasy and combining it with a sense of realism," suggests Milo Ventimiglia, the young actor who plays the pivotal role of Peter Petrelli, whose emergent superpower appears to be channelling the super-powers of others.  "I think when you mix those two things as effectively as the show and the writers have done, you end up with quality television that draws you in, you know, on a weekly basis. It is more rooted in reality than any other superhero show."  Ventimiglia and his TV brother, Adrian Pasdar — as senatorial candidate Nathan, the reluctant Hero with the ability to fly — are the series' most recognizable actors, Ventimiglia from Gilmore Girls and his upcoming film role in Rocky Balboa, the veteran Pasdar from regular roles on series like Judging Amy and Mysterious Ways.

While others on the show — the adorably over-enthused Masi Oka, Ali Larter's schizophrenic stripper — have been getting the lion's share of media attention, the Petrelli brothers have been getting much of the initial story focus.  "The brothers did get a good piece of time to set up their relationships and the dynamic between them," acknowledges Pasdar. "But as we've gone on, all these characters have been given equal time to develop, and I think that's one of the contributing factors to us being a success."  "We all play our parts," Ventimiglia agrees. "I think the story line that was easy to start was the Petrellis. But Adrian makes a valid point about all these other characters being just as interesting and that being an integral part of the show's success."  They have both clearly given this a lot of thought — Pasdar particularly, given his years of experience and his character's apparent ethical ambiguity.  "Not to sound too `hoity-toity,' but it's quite close to playing Richard III ... all I need is some kind of physical abnormality, a hump or a limp or something, and it would really be an almost Shakespearean experience.  "Is he good? Is he bad? I don't think he is an absolute. I do think that there is a dark side that has to be dealt with. On this show, the people that you think are good are probably going to turn out the other way, and vice versa."  Both actors grew up reading comics. "I was more into Batman and the Punisher," says Ventimiglia, "guys that didn't have these out-of-this-world abilities. They were just kind of crazy and had a vendetta kind of a stance.  "But of course, following Superman or Spider-Man or any of those characters is exciting too."  "I find myself in the same zone as Milo," Pasdar confirms. "My favourite growing up was the Silver Surfer. He didn't really have any super-powers, other than surfing around on his board.... Well, actually, he did have a few, but not as many as the others. His slug-line — "He travels fast as he travels alone" — that always appealed to me as a kid."

And as an adult — there was a similar line in a Heroes script to describe one of his character's earliest flights: "... and before you can say `best show on television,' he takes off, breaking the sound barrier ..."  "It's sort of cool the way they write it," Pasdar enthuses. "I mean, they write it with the enthusiasm of a child, which is ultimately I think the best thing that you can have in this business. We all got sprinkled with that pixie dust as children; that's how we ended up in this industry. And whoever retains the most pixie dust wins."  That being said, Pasdar's own 5-year-old, Jackson — the eldest of two sons with Dixie Chick Natalie Maines — seems singularly unimpressed with his dad's Heroes status.  His hero is Ventimiglia, soon to be seen on the big screen as the son of Rocky in the just-wrapped sequel Rocky Balboa.  "He couldn't care less that I'm in the show," Pasdar laughs, "but every time Milo comes on, he's like, `Dad! Milo, Milo, Milo ..."  Pasdar's family life crosses over into the Heroes world in one other, unexpected sense: his otherwise grateful and supportive network has elected not to broadcast commercials for his wife's band's controversial documentary, Shut Up & Sing.  "It's a touchy issue," Pasdar acknowledges. "I mean, I understand, you know, business on one hand ... but on the other, I have to say I cannot condone that behaviour by NBC. I think it's cowardly.  "When a network takes it upon itself to decide what can be advertised in terms of, you know, a trailer for a movie ... a documentary, for heaven's sake!  "I would be a liar if I didn't say I was extremely disappointed."

SYLAR REVEALED: This is it, folks! The Heroes spoiler of spoilers: the true identity of the as-yet unseen secret super-villain of the series, the insidious, serial-killing Sylar ...  Okay, it's not a real spoiler. I wouldn't do that to you. But I will share one interesting little tidbit: Sylar's voice, as heard in Heroes' second episode, was recorded by the Toronto-born voice veteran Maurice LaMarche.  LaMarche, best known as the voice of The Brain (as in Pinky &), did the Sylar voice as a one-off; much to his superhero fanboy dismay, he was never in consideration to play the actual physical role.  "I'm guessing they were after someone a little more sinister, a bit less pleasant and kindly looking than myself," he allows.  "Still, it's great to have been asked to contribute to such a pivotal moment in superhero history."

Mercer Report Performs Ratings Heroics For CBC

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Lee-Anne Goodman, Canadian Press

(Nov. 9, 2006)
Rick Mercer is still giddy about his "sleepover" at 24 Sussex Drive, in reality a couple of hours at the prime ministerial residence hanging out with Stephen Harper and his children.  The show earned The Rick Mercer Report its second-highest ratings in its three-year existence, drawing close to a million viewers on Halloween night. Teamed up with This Hour Has 22 Minutes, the two shows are beating the American fare they compete against every Tuesday night from 8 to 9 p.m. ET in the ratings — a herculean feat for Canadian programming.  "It's been a great year," says Mercer, sipping on a cafe latte in an east-end bistro. "Every time you finish a show you think: `I'll never get another show like that,' and every time the season ends, you think you'll never have another season as good as that one.  "But this season I feel like we're just totally in a groove and everything is clicking."  With increasing success has come, perhaps, some increasing scrutiny. The Newfoundlander is suddenly taking some heat.  Terry Mosher, the cartoonist known as Aislin, skewered Mercer for the sleepover. The Toronto Sun has accused him of being too nice to Bob Rae — they went skinny-dipping earlier this season — and says he's much harder on Liberal leadership rival Michael Ignatieff, an odd charge given Ignatieff has been deftly providing ammunition for comics and political observers across the country throughout his run for the helm of the party.  Mercer is sanguine, and points out he's an entertainer, not a journalist.

"I was happy to be in an Aislin cartoon, actually," Mercer says. "But my job first and foremost is creating a comedy show. I've spent time with Preston Manning, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Brian Mulroney and Ralph Klein. It's my job. You can't satisfy all the people all the time."  Not even children. One young boy approached Mercer backstage as he recently hosted the Governor-General's Performing Arts Awards in Ottawa and told him to do away with his show's popular "rant" segment — the trademark Mercer gripe session that he does, remarkably, without an edit.  "He was nine or 10, and he came up to me and said `I like your show, but I find your rants really boring. I like when you're a fireman and you drive the cars, but I don't like it when you're talking, so please stop,' " Mercer says with a laugh.  The boy appears to be in the minority. At a recent business luncheon where Richard Stursberg, the CBC's executive vice-president of English television, lauded Mercer's ratings heroics, some in the crowd wondered why the public broadcaster doesn't take advantage of his popularity and turn The Rick Mercer Report into a daily affair in the style of the popular U.S. hit The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.  Mercer isn't so sure about that idea.

"My favourite part of the show is travelling Canada," he says. ``It's the adventures I love. I couldn't shoot in Iqaluit, Vancouver, etc., and do five days a week."  In fact, he adds, it's seeing Canada first-hand and allowing others to see it through the Mercer Report that is such a gratifying part of the show.  "Going up to northern Manitoba and seeing all the polar bears — that was phenomenal. That's a great trip that every Canadian should take. It's just fantastic."  Hanging with politicians is also a thrill, says Mercer, especially for "a political junkie and a nerd like me. I just can't believe I'm doing it sometimes."  Arranging to spend time with the politically powerful, however, is not always so easy — and setting up the Harper shoot was a case in point.  "It was certainly a lengthy and complicated negotiation," he says with a wry smile. "Sometimes I felt like I was brokering a Middle East peace treaty. It was very complicated. Just standing next to the prime minister was a big deal, never mind sleeping over at 24 Sussex Drive — and even though I didn't actually sleep there, I might as well have."  Harper, he said, performed admirably during the segment, making Mercer a sandwich and tucking him in for a bedtime story — the federal Accountability Act.  "There's that old adage that the most important thing in politics is appearing sincere, and if you can fake that, you've got it made," he said. "That also has to do with looking like a good sport and having a sense of humour."  As for any inside tidbits about life at 24 Sussex?  "The place is crawling with kittens," Mercer says incredulously, referring to Laureen Harper's work as a foster mother for stray cats and kittens. "There's kittens running around everywhere. The minute you walk in the door, she's trying to get you to take a kitten. I had to say to her as soon as I walked into the house: `I am not walking out of here with a kitten, do you understand me?'

Taye Diggs Makes It To Day Break

Excerpt from - By J.C. Brooks

(November 13, 2006) *Taye Diggs could’ve very well started the whole dark brothers being “in style” thing.  The first time the ladies saw him help Stella get her groove back in 1998, they knew there was a Winston Shakespeare out there for them.   He went on to solidify his sex symbol status with numerous big screen hits like “The Best Man” and “Brown Sugar.”  He then landed his own television series “Kevin Hill” where the ladies could get a weekly eye-full.  Now again, Diggs is back with an action packed series called “Day Break.”  For the first time, we will see him test his physical ability outside the bedroom. “I play a character named Hopper.  He’s a narcotics officer who’s basically caught in the worst day of his life,” he explains.  “…You have that, then running around the block a hundred times and then jumping off a train and buildings blowing up and things of that nature.  I’ve never really gotten an opportunity to play a serious unadulterated action figure.  And I’m very excited at that prospect.” The first question that came to his mind is how does ABC expect to keep this type of storyline from getting old?  How can they sustain this show?  And obviously, the network was able to answer his questions. “When I heard it way back, the earliest thing I heard that caught my attention is that this character is caught in the same day and that immediately peaked my interest and all the obvious questions came after that,” said Diggs.  “Would it be redundant?  How are we gonna keep the storylines coming?  And once they were all explained to me, I thought it was a very unique and interesting device.  Obviously, [the writers] have all this thought out and they have enough stories to last, I’m sure, eight years.  But, Pauley Z. I call him, the creator, he knows why these days keep repeating, but he’s not going to tell anybody until the end of the series.”

He agrees with the handling of the mysterious reasoning behind the day repeating.  He feels it would be in the best interest of the show. “I think it’s a great tactic because then you give away the mystery.  Why would people watch if they knew?” he said.  “‘Oh well, he’s caught in the same day because space aliens came and took over his brain.’  I think the more mysteries surrounding the subject the better….It has nothing to do with the sedative that has been given to him.  And it has nothing to do with his own psyche.  But those are the only two clues that Pauley said.  I think those would be a little too easy.  I think that would be the first place you’d tend to go.” A lot of people were surprised at the demise of Kevin Hill.  He now knows what may have been the problem behind the scenes and hopefully, can carry that knowledge to his new set.   “I thought [Kevin Hill] was a great idea in the beginning and then it slowly kind of inched away from that.  And it was a fight,” admitted Diggs.  “That’s one of the things that were so frustrating was that I was fighting very hard [because I was a producer on that show as I am on this one] for it to stay on line with the pilot and then slowly it became softer and then people started getting fired and hired and cast choices were a little whack, but it was a learning experience.”

Taye Diggs, whose real name is Scott Diggs is the eldest of five.  He said that “Taye” got started from the nickname “Scottaye.”  In “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” Diggs left many thinking that he hailed from Jamaica when in fact he is from Rochester, NY.  He received a BFA degree in musical theatre from Syracuse University.   He got his start in theatre with the five-time Tony Award winning play “Carousel." But now that he’s back on television, the question is will he ever return to theatre. “I was thinking about that the other day dancing around in my kitchen,” he laughed. “At least with Kevin Hill they were always talking about the idea of him singing karaoke or dancing for his little daughter or something… I’m 35 years old and I’ve been doing [theatre] for quite some time.  I’ll never ever wanna stop doing it.  But as far as television is concerned and my image and the perception that goes along with the name Taye Diggs, I’m kind of looking forward to having this character portray that.” Sorry ladies, in case you didn’t know, Diggs is married with two cats and a dog.  He met his wife, Idina Menzel, while starring in the original Broadway production of "Rent." She’s currently working in NY while he’s trying out L.A. for size.  But he certainly misses New York. “New York is my home.  I’m living here right now for work, but I’m trying to reprogram my mind in the hopes that the show will continue and I will have to live here in L.A.”  Diggs is both penetrating and convincing on the big screen.  His theatre background has given him a strong foundation and theory that he lives by.

“I tend to be more cerebral, more heady than I need to be.  It forces me to just be in the moment and focus on one problem at a time.  Because as human beings, we can only try to solve one problem at a time.  We can never truly be feeling two things at the same time, so as long as I keep reminding myself it makes the job easier,” explained Taye. “I remember in acting classes, so many people saying I’m feeling this, but it’s mixed with this and then it’s mixed with and then the acting teacher would always say ‘No, you play one thing at a time and then you take it from there.’   So I’m going to let that guide me throughout the series." The show will list Taye Diggs as both the star and one of the producers.  He is looking forward to giving his input and being a part of this experience that is new to him and his fans. “I am flattered in that I think the creators and the network and the studio realized that since I’m going to be such a major part of the show that it would help and it would best behove everyone to just every once in a while lend me their ear and that’s exactly what I plan to do,” he said.  “I have no intentions of coming and trying to run things it’s just if I feel strongly, mostly about the character, the character that I’m playing, the choices that the writers or some of the directors are making, I can voice them.  As of now, these first three episodes, I can’t imagine that it’s going to be that difficult.” Day Break premieres on ABC Wednesday, November 15 at 9pm.

Franklin Out Of His Shell

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Kristin Rushowy, Toronto Star

(Nov. 13, 2006) After 20 years,
Franklin is still counting by twos and tying his shoes.  Since he was introduced to Canadian children in the book Franklin in the Dark two decades ago, the beloved turtle has overcome the same growing pains as his young fans: conquering a fear of thunderstorms, nervously starting school, learning not to be so bossy with friends, coping with a really bad day and braving a stay in hospital.  That's what most credit for the success of the series, which has sold 60 million books and spawned a television series, DVDs and a loyal fan base around the world. Franklin even has his own garden on Centre Island and, late next month, a movie premiere — in France — for Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure (no release date has been announced for the English version).  "Everything in the stories, the situations, the children identify with," says Mississauga kindergarten teacher Dolly Fox, who has taught a unit on Canadian authors that focuses on the Franklin series for almost as long as the books have been around. "They love the stories and the illustrations" and even come to consider Franklin a friend, she adds.  The Franklin phenomenon here is comparable to the Arthur phenomenon in the U.S., a book and television series about an aardvark and his family and friends. While the series are different, the common thread is a main character dealing with everyday problems. Arthur is celebrating its 30th anniversary.  This Saturday, a 20th anniversary bash is planned for Franklin at Toronto's Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, with a reading by author Paulette Bourgeois and an art demonstration by illustrator Brenda Clark. Franklin is set to make an appearance.

Clark says she got goosebumps when she first saw the manuscript for Franklin in the Dark.  "I thought it was so full of imagination," she says of the story about the young turtle who is too afraid to go into his own shell.  "I knew it had to be a turtle that wasn't realistic," Clark says in an interview from her home in Port Hope. "So I put a T-shirt on him. I wanted him to look like a human, like a boy, so children could relate to his emotions, the expressions on his face, see what he's feeling. So he is a little bit like a boy, a bit like a turtle."  As Franklin's friends were introduced — like best friend Bear, Beaver, Fox, Snail, Goose — Clark had to work at making them animate. It involved a lot of research at the library.  "I made the faces recognizable as a human," she says, "but still physically like an animal."  When Franklin made friends with the new kid on the block, Moose, "it was a scale challenge." Her favourite character, though, is at the other end of the size scale: Snail. Because he doesn't have limbs, she used his eyes, or the way he bent his neck, to show emotion.  One treat she drew for eagle-eyed fans was little mice. "They're in some of the books," she says, including Franklin's Halloween. "I didn't want to force it — only if there was room and it made sense. It's for kids to discover on the side, they can make up their own tale about how they got there."  Clark and Bourgeois collaborated on about 30 titles but no longer work on Franklin books, which are now based on the television series. The duo's final book was Franklin Says I Love You.

"Paulette and I thought the series was complete," Clark says. "We felt good about what we'd done and felt it was time to stop."  In the beginning, it took Clark seven to nine months to illustrate one book; when demand grew for up to four a year, she hired an underpainter to help.  Franklin in the Dark continues to be the one she cherishes most. "It's just one of those ones that's very special; it's a classic story."  Kids Can Press picked up Franklin in the Dark after six other publishers rejected it, Bourgeois says. She did not write it with a series in mind.  "If you had told me then that Franklin would become a series of books, a friend to millions of children around the world and a player in the Canadian entertainment industry, I would have thought it more fantastical than a turtle who walks to the far north and back before supper."  For the past 18 years, Fox has taught her young charges at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic elementary school about Bourgeois and Clark, and uses Franklin as the class mascot from the start of the school year.  "I run a really peaceful program," Fox says. "I know Franklin is a character who encourages positive play; even if he has troubles with friends he solves it by talking, which I promote in class. He's a lovely role model.  "It's interesting that with so many `modern' distractions like videogames, superheroes like Pokémon and movies ... simple stories with colourful illustrations can still capture their interest after 20 years," she says.

Have Producers Found The Formula?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Mark Medley

(Nov. 15, 2006) When The Eleventh Hour went off the air in March of 2005, Globe and Mail television critic John Doyle elegized it as a "show that was always lively and should have had a longer life." Despite barely making it to a second season, it was nominated for 41 Gemini Awards, and won best dramatic series in two of its three seasons. It had great reviews, featured recognizable Canadian actors, yet failed to find an audience, drawing an average of 500,000 viewers, not enough to justify the reported $1.1-million it cost per episode. Now, 18 months later, much of the creative team behind that critically acclaimed drama has reunited for
Would Be Kings, an original, $7-million miniseries, the first from CTV since 2004's Lives of the Saints. It's Tuesday afternoon on the Hamilton set of Would Be Kings, and director David Wellington has had it with the airplanes flying overhead. They're right in the middle of filming a pivotal scene between actors Currie Graham and Ben Bass, when a rumbling rises in the headsets. "I must be the unluckiest [expletive] in the world," Wellington mutters after calling cut. It's the third plane to ruin a take in the span of 20 minutes. Luck. It's something the cast and crew of Would Be Kings are hoping will change. With any luck, they've found a successful formula for Canadian drama. The story, loosely based on Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, revolves around two cousins, both police officers, dealing with corruption on the force. It has a big budget, recognizable actors, and a gritty plot. The question is, will anyone watch? To invest that much money into a Canadian production is always a gamble, with Canadian one-hour dramas constantly fighting for viewers. Shows such as The Eleventh Hour and This Is Wonderland captured Geminis and critical acclaim but failed to capture an audience. It's a problem that Would Be Kings writer and executive producer Tassie Cameron often ponders.

"God. We sit around having cocktails talking about this practically once a week. It's the grand mystery and obviously having worked on one of those critically acclaimed series [The Eleventh Hour] it's not only just a mystery, it's a heartbreaking mystery," says Cameron the following week. "It is a kind of profound disappointment that does make you want to go some place that, if you're going to work that hard, at least people are going to see it. Or, at else you're going to cry all the way to the bank." One potential solution is to develop more miniseries or incorporate the BBC model of limited-run series (Would Be Kings started out as six one-hour episodes.) Cameron and co-writer Esta Spalding both point to the six-part BBC series State of Play as an influence. "When we started this process, we were all really inspired by the British model," Cameron says. "Maybe that is something that could be scheduled and promoted and financed and written well that would suit what Canada is looking for . . . I do think there's something potentially really interesting about miniseries or limited series as a model for future Canadian programming." "I like the idea of doing more limited series," says executive producer Ilana Frank "I love the idea of six hours. The British series that are done like that are fantastic. "I actually thought that the CBC had an opportunity to go that way and maybe use the British model, use the American HBO model," she continues. "That would have been exciting for me. But I don't see that happening and that's too bad . . . I don't know what the future for that is here . . . it seemed that was the perfect thing for [the CBC] to do." While with limited-run series and miniseries the small number of episodes means less advertising dollars, there is potential to profit on other formats, including DVD. "That's what we're trying with this," says Would Be Kings writer and executive producer Esta Spalding. "If you can make it good and put a good cast in it, it will find an audience, even if it ends up finding that audience on DVD."

The consensus seems to be the problem runs deeper than format. Wellington draws parallels between Canadian television and cinema. "I personally think the difficulty Canadian TV has is not dissimilar to the difficulty Canadian cinema has," Wellington says. "Generally, if you're going to build an audience in Canada on a TV show, you're going to have to build loyalty based on the show alone. In America, people will go to a new TV series because of who's in it. They have a star system and we don't." "It's hard to build a star system," sighs Cameron. "People in Canada are almost disdainful of the notion of a Canadian star. It seems like a contradiction to many people. You sit there trying to cast these shows and you're searching the databases for Canadians who are living in L.A. who would be willing to come up and work for peanuts." "Canada's got this thing about not wanting to become part of the States, and yet, I've heard since I've been here, 'Oh, it's for CTV,' " says actress Natasha Henstridge, who was cast as Graham's wife in the series. "They have a stigma already attached to the Canadian programming, and I think it's really sad be because with that kind of attitude towards Canadian programming, it's not going to get any better." Then, besides tinkering with format, what will it take for Canadians to watch homegrown television? Cameron rattles off a list of problems: "I think a lot of it's money. I think a lot of it's scheduling. I think a lot of it's promotion," she says. "But, I don't want to be one of those creative types who's always pointing the finger at networks or broadcasters saying 'It's your fault you don't promote it.' Obviously, we're not doing something right." It comes down to money, Graham says. This year's CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) report revealed that while $401.5-million was spent on foreign drama, only $86.6-million was spent on Canadian drama. "How much money are they willing to take from their advertising revenue and how much are they willing to put back into Canadian programming?" he asks. "I mean, it's risky, because it's a lot safer to buy a season of Desperate Housewives or CSI because they know they're going to get numbers, they're going to generate revenue from advertising, and they're going to make their money." "Somebody asked me, 'Do you come back here to support the Canadian film industry?' I said 'Absolutely not. I come back here because there's good product,' " says Graham, who grew up only a few houses down from the Would Be Kings set. "I think something like Da Vinci's really showed us that a show that's done inexpensively, and with great Canadian actors, can find an audience. The network has to believe in it and leave it on long enough," Spalding says. Bass thinks there's money out there, it's just a matter of networks having confidence in the Canadian television industry. "I think it's a question of people being willing to take the risk of saying, 'Look. Here's the money. We believe in what you're going to do. Go do it.' "


TV Movie About Black, Amiel To Air Dec. 4

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(Nov. 9, 2006)
Shades of Black, the eagerly anticipated TV movie about Conrad Black and his wife, Barbara Amiel, will air Dec. 4 on CTV.  The movie, starring Albert Schultz as Black and Lara Flynn Boyle as Amiel, is based on the Richard Siklos book of the same name. Shot in Toronto a year ago, the docudrama also stars Jason Priestley of Beverly Hills 90210 as fictional reporter Jeff Sargeant.  The announcement of an air date comes as the most recent book on the couple, Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge by British writer Tom Bower, hits bookstores across the country.  Shades of Black tells the story of the business tycoon's fall from grace after being charged with civil fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Black has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

Axed Show Switches Sides

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(Nov. 10, 2006) The hockey mockumentary
The Tournament apparently wasn't good enough for CBC-TV. But now the Fox network in the United States feels the concept will work fine south of the border. Months after Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC, axed the show after its second season, Fox has decided to hire the same people who did the Canadian version -- only make this farcical drama about America's national sport, baseball. Veteran TV executive Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing, Sports Night) has been hired as executive producer of the Fox version. The network has also recruited Howard Busgang, Howard Nemetz and Marty Putz -- three guys behind the creation of the original Tournament on CBC, which aired in the U.S. last spring on the cable channel Versus (formerly OLN). Yesterday, CBC did not return calls for comment.  There may not have been huge numbers of fans watching The Tournament, but those who did get hooked on the miniseries loved the program that proudly depicted "appallingly petty adult behaviour" of the parents who were bickering and feuding over the hard-working tykes who make up the Farqueson Funeral Home Warriors, based in a fictitious Ontario town. Putz and Busgang (both of whom live in Los Angeles but were born and bred in Canada) convinced the CBC that there were enough rink rats who could identify with the ultracompetitive nature of the minor leagues. Now, they've taken the same sales pitch to Fox, which has placed a firm order for some scripts about the fisticuffs, politics and cussing that goes on with equal abandon in the world of midget-sized baseball in small-town America.



How The Rockettes Pull Off Their Famed Precision Chorus Line

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Paula Citron

(Nov. 14, 2006) The world-famous
Rockettes — the very word conjures up the image of a chorus line of beauties in perfect symmetry. And now the troupe, complete with complex tap routines and precision eye-high kicks, is coming to Canada when The Radio City Christmas Spectacular opens at Toronto's Hummingbird Centre Tuesday night. The show is one of seven touring productions in North America that are clones of the famous annual production at New York's legendary Radio City Music Hall. Toronto audiences will now get to experience beloved numbers like Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, Rag Dolls and Living Nativity. The Rockettes first arrived in New York from St. Louis, Mo., as the Missouri Rockets, to take part in the inaugural show at Radio City in 1932. They never left. Since then, the fabled dancers have become a lure for young girls everywhere who want to be on the stage. Brampton's Krista Saab, 30, and Windsor's Jocelyne Levesque, 22, are two Canadian Rockettes in their fourth and fifth season respectively. Says Saab: “The energy and history of the Rockettes are tangible things. When I go out onstage, it brings tears to my eyes and stops the heart for a second.” And Levesque adds: “We can't help but smile back because we can feel the audience smiling at us. It's the kind of show that makes adults feel like children again.” Saab had dreamed about becoming a Rockette since she was 15, when she stood on the Radio City stage during a tour of the theatre. She successfully auditioned after a show career on cruise ships and in touring musicals. Levesque's Rockette epiphany happened after seeing the Detroit version of the Christmas Spectacular when she was 17. She auditioned and was one of the very few to join the line at 18, the minimum age, when she was still in Grade 13. Life as a Rockette appears to be a subculture of contented women where sisterhood reigns supreme, despite the gruelling 84-performance run (there are 13 shows a week). Saab and Levesque believe their happy dispositions are rooted in the fact that Rockette management courts the all-rounders — intelligent women with strong personal identities and highly developed outside interests.

The Rockette contract runs for three months, with 36 dancers in the New York line (to fill the huge stage of the 6,000-seat Radio City) and 18 dancers in each touring show. During the nine off-months, dancers frequently appear in Rockette community and charity outreach programs on a volunteer basis, but they are also encouraged to broaden their horizons, financed by the Rockettes' “Future Kicks” program. Levesque is taking accounting courses at the University of Windsor, while Saab is currently studying French. The company also pays for any off-season classes to stay in shape and approves of their appearing in Broadway and touring shows (providing they can arrange a three-month leave of absence from them). Clearly, management regards its dancers as an investment. According to the women, the two-day auditions are brutal and must be endured every year. The height requirements are 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 10 inches, and the dancers must be trained in ballet, tap and jazz. On day two, the survivors have routines from the show thrown at them, and only the quickest studies make the cut.  To create the famed precision that's the Rockette hallmark, the stage is divided into a grid with floor patterns made up of four different coloured lines, and the numbers 1 (at centre stage) to 40 on each side. Thus, once the choreography is learned, the exact positioning is determined by “toeing”, “heeling” or “arching” the lines, and standing “drug,” “urg” or “fur.” In plain English, one dancer may have to place her toe on the blue line at No. 20 while downstage (drug), while another's heel is on the green line at No. 37 farthest upstage (fur). Surprisingly, when they are performing their high kicks, they just “feel the fabric” and never touch each other directly. Instead, each dancer supports her own weight, which gives stability to the line. An assistant choreographer (an ex-Rockette) is always in the audience taking notes to ensure the identical look and positioning. “You need strong peripheral vision in this game,” Levesque says. The illusion of sameness is created by having the tallest woman as the centre pivot. At 5 foot 9, Saab is usually the centre, or one from centre. To her falls the responsibility of taking the tiny steps to form the axis of the famed wheel that the women make performing the beloved Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, a routine in the Rockettes' repertoire since 1933.

Levesque, at 5 foot 8, is close to the middle. The dancers have only three onstage requirements. They must wear false eyelashes and a bright red lipstick of their own choosing, and be able to put their hair in a French twist. Each can choose in which city she would like to appear, and many select theatres near their homes. All Rockettes receive the same pay, no matter where they perform. The eight different costume changes in the course of a show are intense, according to Saab and Levesque, some as short as 90 seconds. In the segue from Wooden Soldiers to their Santa costumes for Christmas in New York, each dancer unzips the woman in front to make life easier for the dressers. Sometimes in the hurly-burly, mistakes can happen. Saab once ended up in the wrong starched soldier pants of a shorter dancer that were floods on her. Theatrically, things can go wrong as well. Levesque remembers when three shows worth of snow fell in one scene and the blizzard created white-out conditions for the dancers. Each Rockette gets a Radio City Music Hall lunch pail to pack food for the theatre. One can't be anorexic and be a Rockette, and during the physical intensity of three months of rehearsals and shows, they consume huge amounts of everything from fruit to chocolate and from hamburgers to pizza. As a final note, the woman point to a Rockette bonus the public would never think of. “In terms of dance opportunities, for example, Holland America has 20 cruise ships, but only three are tall-girl ships,” Saab says. “In other words, the Rockettes have always been the saving grace for tall dancers.” The Radio City Christmas Spectacular runs at Toronto's Hummingbird Centre until Dec. 31 (416- 416-870-8000).

Final Act Is Revenge For The Living Ghosts Of A Chorus Line

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Nov. 11, 2006) There are ghosts in the wings of the
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre these days, and they cast an eerie chill on the revival of A Chorus Line that's playing there.  Some are the spirits of the deceased, like authors James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, lyricist Edward Kleban and — most of all — the man who conceived, staged and choreographed the whole thing, Michael Bennett.  But even more haunted are the phantoms of those people — all still living — who gave their souls to create this show, and who now have to watch imperfect versions of themselves go through the motions of what was once so close to them.  More than any other show, A Chorus Line wasn't made up so much of songs and dances as it was of the bits and pieces of people's lives.  Bennett came up with the concept — life as an audition — and it was brilliant.  His subsequent idea was perhaps morally questionable, but it certainly paid off with rich artistic rewards. He gathered a bunch of dancers together in an all-night bull session in January, 1974, and taped the stories they told about their lives. He would repeat this process several times — prompting, exploring, selecting — and finally he put his company together.  Although there were cases where certain actors would wind up in roles that bore no relationship to their actual lives, most of the original cast were "on the line" in every sense of the word. They were playing themselves.  When A Chorus Line opened on Broadway in 1975 and went on to run for nearly 15 years, it made a lot of people rich — but not the members of the original cast.

Without them, there would have been no show. But they signed away their financial interest for one-half per cent of the weekly gross, and the same amount of the subsidiary rights, pooled and then distributed according to how much they contributed to the show.  Divided among 37 dancers, it didn't amount to all that much and, as the show became increasingly successful, the hurt seemed to grow exponentially.  A kind of curse also settled on the performers connected with the original show. None of them ever knew such success again. Many of them never appeared in another Broadway show. And while there are exceptions to the rule, like Kelly Bishop who still lords it imperiously over her brood as matriarch Emily Gilmore in The Gilmore Girls, most of them are now just fading footnotes to musical comedy history.  When the current revival was announced, most of them assumed their original royalty arrangement would kick in again. After all, it was being produced by John Breglio, Bennett's lawyer, and Bob Avian, Bennett's assistant, would direct.  Yet, due to a loophole in the 1975 agreement, no royalties had to be paid to the original cast and so the wounds were ripped open once again.  But this time, in a way, the original cast got their retribution.  The current revival is as close to a picture-perfect copy of the 1975 version as possible, but it lacks the fire and heart of the original.  I remember seeing that production, which probably still ranks as one of the most thrilling theatrical nights in my life. The show made me laugh, caused me to weep and filled me with compassion for everyone on the stage.

This time around, I watched calmly, dispassionately. It's not what I wanted to have happen, but it was the only possible response to what I was seeing.  Interestingly, the roles that were most closely associated with their creators were the ones that disappointed the most as well.  Natalie Cortez, as Diana, is a pale shadow of Priscilla Lopez, whose original description of suffering at the hands of an unsympathetic acting teacher in the song "Nothing" was like a razor blade that cut both user and victim.  Kelly Bishop was coldly magnificent as the Zena-esque showgirl, Sheila, showing us deep reservoirs of pain, while the current inhabitant of the role, Deidre Goodwin, only offers us anger and attitude.  But the greatest loss is felt in the pivotal role of Cassie, the girl who made it from the chorus to stardom, only to fall back again. In the hands of Donna McKechnie — who later married Bennett — her show-stopping "The Music and the Mirror" became a cathartic piece of self-revelation. In the hands of the merely adequate Charlotte d'Amboise, it's just another Broadway number.  There are exceptions, such as Mara Davi's luminous Maggie and Ken Alan's cheeky Bobby, but in almost every other case, it's like watching the undead sing and dance.  "Revenge is a dish best served cold," goes the old proverb, and it doesn't get much colder than this revival of A Chorus Line. It's finally payback time for all those ghosts that have been waiting in the wings.

Tapping Into Broadway Glory

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Richard Ouzounian

(Nov. 14, 2006) They met on the isles of Greece and now they're reunited on the rooftops of London.  Toronto performers
Nicolas Dromard and Kevin Yee first worked together in the original Toronto company of Mamma Mia! as Eddie and Pepper.  Then they went their separate ways for a while, but now they're back in the chorus of Mary Poppins, the Cameron Mackintosh-Disney extravaganza that opens on Broadway Thursday night.  After clowning around for the photographer, they try to settle down in a coffee shop on 42nd St., down the block from the New Amsterdam Theatre where their show is currently in previews, but the youthful energy of the pair can't be contained.  "I don't think I've ever been so excited in my life!" enthuses Yee with wide-eyed wonder.  "Of course," he adds, "it is my first Broadway show."  But even the more-experienced Dromard, with Gotham shows like Oklahoma! and The Boy from Oz on his résumé admits to feeling the buzz.  "You're working with some of the major talents in the theatre world — Cameron Mackintosh, Richard Eyre, Matthew Bourne — no wonder everybody on Broadway is buzzing about this one."  And they are. It's not just the fact that Mary Poppins is arriving from across the Atlantic with a lot of impressive London reviews, but the New York season has been depressingly lacklustre so far, with show after show failing to excite the critics — not even the revival of Mackintosh's own mega-hit Les Miserables.

"We have the feeling there's a lot riding on this," admits Dromard, "but you can't think about that. You just go out onstage and do your best."  The 26-year-old Dromard has already amassed an impressive number of credits in his relatively brief career. Born in Ottawa to a francophone family ("I didn't speak English until I was 7"), his life changed the day he first saw a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie on TV.  "I started tap dancing up and down the halls at school, and my teacher finally called up my mother and said `You've got to get him some lessons or something. He's driving us crazy.'"  Dromard's mother followed his advice and then "it all started snowballing," as the young performer recalls. "I studied dance, I joined the choir, I started doing community theatre I did The Tin Soldier with the Ottawa ballet. I was going night and day."  Right after he left high school, he found himself at the Stratford Festival, dancing in West Side Story. Then came Mamma Mia! and his two Broadway gigs in Oklahoma! and The Boy from Oz, where Hugh Jackman hit his butt with a pair of maracas every night during the curtain call.  He's also appeared in Toronto with the touring companies of Hairspray and Wicked, but now he's ecstatic to be back on Broadway doing Mary Poppins.  "I've just been riding the wave," he says gratefully. "Every year of my life every show just keeps getting better and better."  The path has been a little more varied, but just as exciting, for Kevin Yee.  He was born in Vancouver in 1982 and was interested in show business "from the very beginning. My mom put me in dance lessons when I was 4, I did my first show when I was 6 (The King and I with Rudolf Nureyev) and I've been going strong ever since then."

When he was still a teenager he spent two months dancing in the chorus of the Donny Osmond tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, but then his other love, music, took centre stage.  At the age of 15, he joined the Los Angeles-based boy band Youth Asylum and spent three years touring and recording with them. But he found himself at the end of his rope with "manufactured boy-band hell" and so he dropped out of show business for nearly a year before resurfacing in Mamma Mia!  During his run with the hit ABBA show, he released his first solo album, Kev Was Here, but says, "Broadway is where my heart is right now. You have to be at the right place at the right time and just go for it."  Both Yee and Dromard love tackling Bourne's choreography, with Dromard calling it "the most challenging dancing I've ever done."  And as Yee reveals, "I've never tapped before in my life and now every night, onstage, I have a moment when I say to myself `What am I doing? Why am I tap dancing in front of all these people?'"  He gets his answer when he looks out at the audience. "It's such a rush for them. They feel inspired and that inspires you as well."

‘Chicago' Celebrates 10 Years On Broadway With Starry Gala

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press

(Nov. 15, 2006) NEW YORK — There was more razzle-dazzle than usual Tuesday in the razzle-dazzle musical known as
Chicago. Brooke. Melanie. Chita. Bebe. Ashlee. And more. The longest-running revival in Broadway history celebrated its 10th anniversary with a special gala performance that brought out a parade of stars who had appeared in the show during the last decade. They were there to play bits and pieces of all the major roles in the show. Applause was prolonged right from the beginning of the black-tie evening at the Ambassador Theatre. Composer John Kander, who wrote the show with Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, came on stage to speak the show's opening lines. He was followed by Chita Rivera, who not only starred in the revival (in Las Vegas) but in the original 1975 production. More than 30 years after she first belted out the show's signature song, All That Jazz, Rivera did it again — to wild cheers. Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart, a conniving and murderous chorine and her quest for celebrity. And there were a lot of former Roxies on stage — from Ann Reinking who opened the revival in 1996, to Brooke Shields, Ashlee Simpson, Paige Davis, Marilu Henner, Rita Wilson and Charlotte d'Amboise. Reinking, who also choreographed the revival, received some of the loudest applause when she appeared with Bebe Neuwirth (who played Roxie's cohort in crime, Velma Kelly) for the show's finale. Yet the evening's most endearing moment occurred as Melanie Griffith started to sing and dance the song Roxie. A lighting malfunction caused a persistent loud flapping sound as director Walter Bobbie raced to the foot of the stage. He asked Griffith to begin the number again after the problem was fixed. “I guess this is take two,” a game Griffith giggled as theatregoers roared their approval. There were multiple Billy Flynns on stage, too. The opportunistic lawyer was portrayed not only by the original, James Naughton, but by Gregory Harrison, Huey Lewis, John O'Hurley, Kevin Richardson and Christopher McDonald, among others. “This is a cast made in theatrical heaven,” said producer Barry Weissler after the scores of performers took their tumultuous curtain calls. He was joined on stage by Fran Weissler, his wife and co-producer, who summed up the evening by saying, “Except for giving birth, this is the most exciting night of my life.”



Artists On An Assembly Line

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Murray Whyte, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 10, 2006)
Kim Dorland, a Toronto artist enjoying his first blush of international success, has recently hewed to a rigid schedule: Get up. Paint. Sleep. Repeat.  "I'd burn out if I kept painting like this," says Dorland who, as soon as humanly possible, intends not to. But there are miles to go before he sleeps: Paintings are needed for a slate of fast-approaching solo shows in Chicago, Los Angeles, Milan and here at home. And then there's the art fair circuit, a gaping maw of art buying that needs more and more work to satisfy appetites.  Our own Toronto International Art Fair started last night, but it's a small stop on an increasingly crowded circuit. Major fairs in Miami, London, New York, Los Angeles and Basel, Switzerland, have fed on a robust international art economy, attracting thousands of buyers and inciting acquisition frenzies.  "I've been painting as much for the art fairs as I have for shows," says Dorland, who plans to have a presence at the Miami fair next month. "They're a great way to have an international audience see your work. But yeah, I'm starting to get a little tired."  Dorland means not to complain: few artists are able to enjoy art-making as a full-time job, let alone one that's brisk-paced and profitable. But as Dorland, 32, has learned, in an increasingly overheated world-wide art market, the demands of a voracious — and growing — community of buyers is putting pressure on artists to produce more work, faster, than ever before.  According to Artprice, a Paris-based firm that tracks the art economy, auction sales of contemporary art, a key market indicator, increased by more than a third in the past year, to $250 million (U.S.). And there's little doubt the fairs are driving demand.

After a decent showing at the Toronto fair last year, Jamie Angell, Dorland's gallerist, decided to bypass the event this year, choosing instead to allocate his time and money to larger fairs in the U.S. and Europe. It's a results-based decision: A successful tour of the fairs last year netted a heavy catalogue of demands for Dorland's kinetic, heavily textured works. Make no mistake: The point of the exercise is to sell art, Angell says, but not recklessly.  "I'm very protective of my artists," he says. "This kind of success is every artist's dream, but there are two sides to it. People are hungry. They want to make hay while the sun shines. And you can make mistakes because of that."  It's a risk shared by buyer and artist alike. But for the artist, more than money is at stake. A creative pursuit can start to feel like a sweat shop, said Shary Boyle, a rapidly ascending Toronto artist whose work will be represented at the Toronto fair.  "There's this constant demand for product. That's what you're made to feel like, because there's so much emphasis on sales," says Boyle. She cites her unsettling recent encounter with an art consultant, who counsels collectors on wise investments.  "He said, `How fast can you do these paintings?' I'd never heard that before," Boyle says. He went on to spell out what her current strategy should be in super-heated New York and London markets: she should produce as much work as possible over a two- or three-year span to maximize profits, before she dropped off and was no longer "hot."  "He was saying these things like it was totally normal, and I was just shrinking," Boyle says. "I've always had this romantic idea that you're an artist as a politic and an ethic, and that I'll be doing it my entire life."  Boyle has an ally in her gallerist Jessica Bradley, who is showing her work at the Toronto fair this week. Bradley frets that the exploding fair phenomenon, where the emphasis is on quick acquisition rather than studied examinations of artists' entire careers, might be debasing the field.

The quick sale stands in contrast to the traditional gallery system, she says, where collectors develop relationships with dealers and artists over a period of years. For many dealers in today's market, she says, "the gallery's just a front for their activities at art fairs."  Bradley was chief curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario for many years before she struck out on her own with her gallery, Jessica Bradley Art + Projects. She's wary of over-exposing her artists to the market-driven minefield of the international fair circuit, and buffers artists like Boyle from its demands.  "It's a huge danger," she says. "You have to be careful not to let it run away with you when things are really good. And it takes someone who's been around the block to resist it."  Boyle has had little trouble resisting the market's lure; her approach is simply to avoid it. "So many artists become formulaic, and that's because of the market — they become a brand, and they can't change," she says.  Boyle works in multiple disciplines — painting, drawing, music, film — and remains a moving target, skirting the narrow demands of investment-minded buyers. If she can't sidestep it, she simply vacates the scene for a time. Last year she rented a small studio in a tiny town in Finland for eight months. "No one knew who I was and no one cared," she said.  Her success is neither modest nor stratospheric. She's shown and exhibited at significant public galleries in Canada and abroad; art is her full-time job. And she knows that is a rare privilege.  But she sometimes finds herself gripped with an odd yearning. "I have so much nostalgia for being in my 20s, and no one giving a flying crap about anything I did. I was making so much work, and I really progressed as an artist," she says.  "If it's really your heart and psyche you're putting out there, you can't push it out like it's an assembly line."

Canuck Yuks Fuel Sketch Comedy Fest

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 13, 2006) A comic tradition with deep roots in Canada is staging a comeback.  Entering its second year, the four-day
Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, which begins Wednesday, features 29 troupes from places like New York, Los Angeles, Montreal and Newfoundland, 50 per cent more than its debut year.  It's part of a revival of the comedy genre that is happening across the continent, said festival co-producer Paul Snepsts. "Sketch is hot," said Snepsts, a member of Toronto sketch troupe Boiled Wieners.  "Sketch comedy is definitely on the rise," said Alex Zalben of New York City's Elephant Larry, a troupe formed almost five years ago by five former college buddies.  "We've had a crest of stand-up comedy, then a crest of improv and now sketch comedy is just beginning its gigantic tsunami wave," Zalben said.  Sketch comedy goes all the way back to Vaudeville, Snepstes noted, featuring short, funny and often-bawdy skits, and continued in Canada through CBC Radio in decades past.  Look no further than The Frantics, The Kids in the Hall, CODCO and SCTV to see the strong tradition that has always existed in Canada, though it has been noticeably absent over the past decade.  Steve Cochrane, a member of the Dance Party of Newfoundland, said his four-man troupe identified a comedic vacuum and decided to fill it. "We just sort of decided Newfoundland's been renowned for sketch comedy, there are no sketch comedy troupes on the go, we're all half-decently funny, what don't we do something?" Cochrane said.  "I think Canada's ready to put the next generation out. There's a lot of audience (desire) for it. It's great."

It's clear that there is some recent growth in public interest beyond late-night TV fare like Saturday Night Live and MADtv. Brent Skagford, whose troupe MANboy from Montreal is a relatively new player, said audiences enjoy the "accessibility" of sketch.  "You can throw together stuff quite easily and people don't mind so much if your production values are very low. They're much more forgiving when you're changing hats every scene to put together a different character," Skagford said.  But in the Monty Python tradition, most sketch troupes are either all-male or strongly dominated by men. Among the rare exceptions is Los Angeles-based Keilly & Roeters, comprised of Kirsten Roeters and Suzanne Keilly, who are coming to Toronto for the event.  "That's how Suzanne and I found each other. Both of us have played the girlfriend or the nurse or the wife; we never got to do the funny roles even when we were in a sketch comedy group," Roeters said.  They turn their gender to their advantage as part of their act.  "Despite the fact that we're in pink frilly underwear and all that, (our comedy) is considered incredibly dark. We'll see what Toronto thinks," Roeters said.  So what makes great sketch comedy? Most agree it starts with the writing.  "We're writers first is the way we like to think about it. We start with a funny idea, we work on that, we hone that and when it's absolutely perfect ... we tear it apart and write it again," Zelban said.  Eric Toth of the Imponderables — four guys who met at Hamilton's Westdale Collegiate — said since sketches are generally three to five minutes, keep it short, satirical and with a bit of a bite. "It challenges society and can be a bit risky and edgy. I don't think it should be safe," he added.  Geography can occasionally play a role, said the Newfoundland-born Cochrane.  "Poverty's kind of hilarious. I find that gets people looking to laugh a lot," said Cochrane, who openly criticizes the province's government as "self-serving career politicians."  "If we didn't laugh, we'd kill ourselves," he added.  Snepsts agreed. "My personal theory is that most comedy is derived from identifying somebody else's suffering ... and being somehow happy that it's not happening to you."


IMPAC Prize Long List Includes 14 Canadians

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Nov. 9, 2006) Toronto — Fourteen books by Canadians made the long list for the
IMPAC Dublin Literary Award yesterday, including works by Margaret Atwood, David Bergen, Camilla Gibb and David Gilmour. The prestigious prize is worth about $215,000. A shortlist of up to 10 novels will be revealed in April, with the winner announced in June. The Canadian books on the long list are: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood; The Time in Between by David Bergen; Children of the Day by Sandra Birdsell; Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden; An Audience of Chairs by Joan Clark; George and Rue by George Elliott Clarke; The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly; The Wreckage by Michael Crummey; Drums of My Flesh by Cyril Dabydeen; Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb; A Perfect Night to Go to China by David Gilmour; A Forest for Calum, by Frank Macdonald; Alligator by Lisa Moore; He Drown She in the Sea by Shani Mootoo. Canadian Alistair MacLeod won the award in 2002 for his novel No Great Mischief. Staff/CP



Kubina Reveals His Softer Side

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Tim Wharnsby, Hockey Reporter

(Nov. 14, 2006) At 6 foot 4 and 244 pounds,
Pavel Kubina has the brute strength to knock around opponents on the hockey rink. But when it comes to family, the Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman turns to mush. A weary Kubina returned to the Leafs' fold after spending four days in Prague last week for the birth of his first child, a 7-pound 1-ounce daughter named Teresa. "It was hard for me to leave," Kubina said. "It was an unbelievable feeling to be there. I have to thank the Leafs for their great support in letting me go and my teammates. They told me I shouldn't miss it because it is something great to see. They were right." That's why Kubina threw caution to the wind when he hired a private jet out of Boston to be there with his girlfriend, Andrea, last Thursday. He couldn't reveal the total cost of his charter airfare because he has yet to receive a bill. However, a conservative estimate from an airline expert Tuesday put the dollar value at $150,000. "I know it will be pretty expensive, but it's going to be worth it," he said. Children and family have always been important to Kubina. He was raised by his parents, Vaclav and Jigka, in a tight-knit family in the Czech Republic. He was extremely close to his grandparents.

When Kubina began his National Hockey League career with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the late 1990s, he became involved in the local Make-A-Wish Foundation and instituted Kubina's Korner, in which he purchased more than 300 tickets for each game that would be given to underprivileged children. He also spent time with and raised awareness for terminally ill children and those with anger management difficulties. He also helped teammates serve Thanksgiving dinner to needy children. Initially, Kubina hoped his girlfriend would travel with him to Toronto for training camp in September and give birth two months later in Canada. But the couple's doctor back home advised against Andrea's flying to Toronto. So Kubina met with Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr. and coach Paul Maurice two months ago to apprise them of the situation. The due date was Nov. 13, which was in the middle of a four-day break for the Leafs, and the Leafs' brass gave Kubina their blessing for him to return to the Czech Republic for the birth. But that plan had to be scrapped when doctors decided the best course was a cesarean section last Thursday. Kubina just missed the birth of Teresa, but was there holding the baby when Andrea awoke. The family hopes to reunite in two weeks if doctors give Andrea clearance to fly to Canada. "Hopefully, she'll be here for Christmas," Kubina said. "It would be hard to miss Christmas with our first child." The trip home delayed Kubina's return from a knee injury by a couple games. He tried to stay on Canadian time while in Prague so the transition would be smooth for his first game back, in Boston against the Bruins Thursday. "It's been a long five weeks," said Kubina, who missed 15 games. "I feel I've missed the whole season. You can practise as much as you want, but it's not the same as playing." Goaltender Andrew Raycroft won't play Thursday. He suffered a mild left groin strain last Thursday and wants to make sure the injury has completely healed before he returns to action. "It feels better every day," he said. "I was hoping for Thursday, but we're not there yet. Now I'll say I'm hoping for Saturday [when the Leafs play the New Jersey Devils at home]." The Leafs made two roster moves Tuesday, assigning Staffan Kronwall to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League and seldom-used Jay Harrison to the Marlies for a conditioning stint. Kronwall has recovered from a high-ankle sprain that he suffered in training camp and will get into game shape with the Marlies.

Jones Takes Job From MoPete

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Doug Smith, Sports Reporter

(Nov. 14, 2006) OAKLAND, Calif. -
Fred Jones was dutifully running his sprints before practice began here yesterday morning when Sam Mitchell beckoned him to the side of the court.  Jones had no idea what was coming: A lecture on some transgressions he may have committed in the latest Raptor loss? Praise for at least trying to bring some energy to the team's second unit?  A promotion was probably the last thing on Jones's mind but it's exactly what he got.  Making a move he said he should have considered coming out of training camp, Mitchell elevated Jones to a starting role with the struggling Raptors at the expense of veteran Morris Peterson.  "What I think they're doing putting me in the starting line-up is they want me to bring that mindset (from the start) because we've had slow starts," Jones said after the Raptors finished practicing for tonight's game here against the Golden State Warriors.  "I think the coaching staff is putting me there to keep that same mindset of coming off the bench — be aggressive."  Mitchell, who has seen his team clobbered in the opening quarters of their two most recent losses, said he probably should have been starting Jones all along. The newly acquired 6-foot-2 guard had been Toronto's most consistent offensive player in the pre-season but Mitchell relegated him to the bench.  "You're trying to balance your team and I just felt like if I brought Fred off the bench, putting him in the backcourt with Jose (Calderon, the backup point guard) — who's not as offensive-minded maybe as T.J. (Ford) — it would balance out our team," said Mitchell. "It goes back to the old saying, if guys earn it, they deserve it.  "He earned it coming out of training camp and I talked him into accepting a different role. Freddy's been great about it ... but as you coach, you learn. What I've learned is, `You know what, I should have gone that way in the beginning off how things went in the pre-season.'"  The question will be whether the move has any negative impact on team chemistry, especially considering the Raptors have suffered two disheartening losses in a row and the frustration level is mounting noticeably.

Mitchell refused to openly criticize Peterson or his effort and Jones wasn't biting at the issue, either.  "I don't want to dwell on it because, to me, we know why we're changing it but to me it does no good for a coach to break down every little thing," said Mitchell. "I just think it's necessary to maybe give us a little jump start.  "It's not trying to be dishonest to you guys (the media) but there's no way I can give the details without offending one of my players."  Peterson, who was upset at sitting out the fourth quarter of a win over Philadelphia last week, had left practice before Mitchell made the move public and wasn't around to discuss it.  Jones said he hopes it's enough to kickstart his teammate.  "When (Mitchell) told me, ... I didn't know who it was going to push out of the line-up and of course, with us like a family and everyone close, you don't want to see your teammate suffer or your teammate change," said Jones. "Hopefully, the coaching staff sees something that that's going to make that person who's not in the line-up play better."  Statistically, there's little difference in the two players although the perception is that Jones was playing better. Peterson scores more points per game (14.5 to 11.3) but plays more (32.7 minutes to 29.0). Jones shoots a better percentage from the field (48.1 to 40) but Peterson has been more accurate from long range (38.1 per cent to 35).


Hurricanes Reeling From Teammate’s Murder

Excerpt from

(November 10, 2006)  *The Miami Hurricanes football team has decided to continue on in the face of sudden tragedy after defensive lineman Bryan Pata was shot and killed outside of his apartment.  "They felt like Bryan would want to practice. They felt like Bryan would want to play," Miami coach Larry Coker told the Associated Press Wednesday after practice. "That's a decision that we respected, and I think it's the right decision." On Tuesday night, 22-year-old Pata was shot to death outside his off-campus apartment, less than two hours after practice and an informal team dinner ended. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive lineman was found dead in the apartment complex's parking lot when police arrived, and detectives ruled it a homicide. As of press time, the shooter was still at large. Det. Roy Rutland, spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Police Department, said cops searched Pata's apartment for evidence. However, no details were provided regarding what officers sought and what was found.  "The investigators are following all leads, and the release of any information at this time could compromise the investigation," Rutland said Wednesday.

De La Hoya, Mayweather To Box For Big Bucks

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Nov. 14, 2006) LAS VEGAS —
Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will meet in a highly anticipated fight in May that could be one of boxing's richest bouts.  Mayweather, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native, will move up in weight for the fight, which will be for De La Hoya's 70-kilogram title and will be held next May 5 either in Las Vegas or Los Angeles.  De La Hoya previously said the fight would be the last in a pro career that began after he was the only U.S. boxer to win a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics. He's the biggest box office draw in boxing, though he has fought only sporadically in recent years.  Mayweather is generally regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, and is coming off a near shutout win over Carlos Baldomir on Nov. 4 for the 147-pound title. Though Mayweather dominated the bout, he was criticized for not trying to knock out Baldomir.  Following that fight, De La Hoya gave Mayweather a week to come to terms if he wanted to fight him. Terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.  Richard Schaefer, the CEO of De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, said the fight has the potential to set records for pay-per-view sales. The previous record was set when 1.99 million customers bought the second Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson heavyweight title fight in 1997.

Scarborough's Dawson Upstages Marinaro

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - James Christie

(Nov. 14, 2006) Even as an Ivy League football player, screen actor
Ed Marinaro was a tough act to follow, but he's been upstaged by a Canadian. Harvard senior tailback Clifton Dawson, a native of Scarborough, Ont., busted down the sideline and into the Ivy League record books on the weekend when he broke Marinaro's 35-year rushing record in a game against Penn. Dawson, who entered Saturday's game needing only 53 yards to match Marinaro's all-time Ivy League rushing mark, set the new standard with just his second carry of the day, a 55-yard run, in a losing cause as the Harvard Crimson fell 22-13 to the Penn Quakers. Dawson finished the day with 119 rushing yards on 16 carries. The sure-handed Dawson has scored 19 touchdowns this season and rushed 1,153 yards for a career mark of 4,781 yards. That surpassed the 4,715 yards logged by running back Marinaro when he competed for Cornell University from 1969-71. Dawson had a mere five fumbles in the first 700 carries of his university career. Harvard has built up a 7-2 record this season and the school is hoping for a share of the Ivy League championship next weekend in a match against rival Yale. Both Yale and Princeton have a single loss this season. The 5-foot-10-inch, 210-pound senior, who came out of Toronto's Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute, was lauded by coach Crimson coach Tim Murphy as the epitome of a college footballer. "He's completely reliable, truly and sincerely humble, classy, dignified, and I'm just very happy for him, very proud of him. Not just for today but for his entire four years," Murphy said. "He is the most durable, consistent and productive football player I've coached in 20 years." "He's been a wonderful ambassador for the Ivy League," Quaker coach Al Bagnoli added. "He's a kid that you've got to respect his toughness, and you've got to respect his ability and his overall talent." "The biggest thing is that we lost this game," Dawson said. "They're an outstanding team. This was one that we really needed, this was one that I really wanted for my own individual goals. I wanted, first and foremost, to win an Ivy League championship." 



10 Ways to Avoid a Winter Exercise Funk

By Raphael Calzadilla, B.A, CPT, ACE, Glee Contributor

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but guess who's peeking his head around the corner? Our good friend Old Man Winter is about to make you yearn for those hot and humid summer days that you once complained about.  The change of season is never calm. Fall flashes by, and in an instant -- boom! Suddenly it's winter.  A new script: It’s too cold to jog outside. It gets dark early, which brings on the blues. You’re annoyed by all the layers of clothing you have to wear. Gym workouts lessen. You start eating more junk food and going out less. You start to get fat -- ugh! Winter!  I have some real-world strategies to help you avoid a miserable winter exercise funk. It’s not always easy, but if you have a plan and focus on these tips, they'll help counter the winter blahs, and actually empower you.  The following are proven methods that have worked for my personal training clients and me. You don’t have to use every one; just pick a few and run with them. The mind responds best when it’s not inundated, so select the few that feel right.

1. Plan a mid-winter vacation to a warm climate -- Someplace where you can have fun and snorkel, swim, bike ride, go hiking, etc. Also, write down a few goals related to what you want your body fat, weight and waist measurement to be when you go on the trip. Keep those goals and the date of your vacation posted on your refrigerator to motivate you. A lot of guys think, “Nah, I don’t need to write goals" -- but I know for a fact that having goals in your face every day works. It keeps you accountable and reminds you of the road you're on.

2. Hire a personal trainer -- Just for the winter, hire a personal trainer and make sure he/she trains you once or twice per week. You’ll get the benefit of a structured workout program, as well as someone to monitor your progress and motivate you to achieve a more fit body -- while everyone else around you is getting fat. I like this tip, not just because I’m a trainer, but because when human beings fork over some cash, they want to get their money’s worth. If you can’t afford it, get a buddy and pay for joint sessions with the trainer to lower the price tag.

3. Get a workout partner -- If you can’t find a friend, post a message on your gym's bulletin board. Find someone who has similar goals and try to work out with this person at least twice per week. Keep a workout journal and try to improve on anything you achieved in the summer. If you know you have to meet someone at the gym or for a tennis game at a specific time, you’re bound to be accountable. This tip is really valuable on those cold, dark evenings after work when you’re tempted to go home and munch on chips before dinner. Amazing things start to happen if you work out when you don’t feel like working out. You increase your internal strength and dedication, and it slowly starts to catch fire.

4. Join a club -- There are many runner's clubs, walker's clubs, etc. Find one that appeals to you. The camaraderie and scheduled activities will be something you look forward to. You may just find yourself leaner and more athletic by the end of the winter -- with a few more friends as well.

5. Get real -- It’s actually OK if you gain a little bit of weight during the winter, but try not to let it go more than 5 pounds. When it starts to get cold, your body’s natural physiological response is to provide some insulation. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s simply your body preparing for a cold winter. By not freaking out over 5 measly pounds, you’ll feel better about yourself and be more realistic.

6. Scale back on workouts -- If you do find yourself slipping into a winter funk, simply cut back on your workout time. For example, if you’ve been consistently working out for an hour, three to four days per week, cut back to 30 minutes. Don’t worry, you won’t get out of shape -- you'll stay in shape. This simple technique will make going to the gym much less intimidating during the dead of winter.

7. Consider getting some equipment for your home -- You don’t need a fully operational gym -- just some dumbbells, a jump rope and a workout tape for those nights when you have trouble getting to the gym. Remember, we’re looking for every opportunity to keep you on the right track. Your mind will play games with you during the winter, so you need to have strategies that will work for YOU.

8. Workout in the morning before work -- I know its cold and you may have to get up earlier, but if you can manage three morning workouts per week, you’ll accomplish several things: You’ll stimulate your metabolism for the rest of the day; decrease your appetite; and most importantly, get your workout out of the way and start your day with a success. I discovered the power of winter-morning workouts in the days when I trained for half marathons. I found that if I ignored my “I don’t feel like doing it” attitude and did it anyway, I had an incredible feeling of self-empowerment for the entire day.

9. Ten minutes per day -- One unorthodox routine I’ve given to several clients is 10 continuous minutes of exercise each day, Monday thru Friday. The exercises are purely callisthenics, so all you need is your own body. For example, on Monday, perform a set of pushups followed by a set of crunches. There’s no waiting between sets, you simply perform one exercise followed by the other for 10 consecutive minutes (make sure you warm up briefly before starting). On Tuesday, perform lunges and close grip push-ups. Wednesday, jump rope for 10 minutes. Thursday, repeat Monday’s routine. Friday, perform all the exercises from Monday through Thursday in succession. This routine is very brief, but allows for some degree of daily resistance and stimulation. It’s not meant to be a life-long routine, just something to get you out of that winter exercise funk.

10. Join -- You know this time of year can be hard, so why not use resources that can help make it easier? Like online nutrition programs with food you can enjoy -- that’s right, enjoy! Losing fat does not have to be a constant sate of denial. We also have a fitness program with awesome exercise animations, support boards, email support, online meetings and a plethora of services to help you to lose fat -- and keep it off.

The ultimate goal is to have a workable plan that’s realistic for your lifestyle.  Most of us know that exercise produces powerful endorphins. Endorphins are hormones in the body that, when released, produce a sense of euphoria, minimize pain, improve mood and make you feel great both physically and mentally. Exercising in the winter will help release endorphins and make you feel like its summer again!


Motivational Note - Your Faith

Excerpt from - By Jewel Diamond Taylor

"Your faith and outlook on life will have you see a glass half full or half empty. When you're in a tunnel --- your faith and outlook on life will either focus on the darkness or focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. You may feel like you're in a tunnel of darkness because of your finances, job, business slump, relationships, health or grief. You may not see right now how you're going to get through this tunnel of despair. Trust God. Life is good in spite of your circumstances. Start giving thanks in advance for the blessings you have now and for those yet to come. A new day is coming for you. A new season is coming. New opportunities are coming to you. Be encouraged and endure the tunnel experience knowing this, too, shall pass. Stay on track believing you will be carried and that there is a light at the end of this tunnel." ~ Jewel Diamond Taylor "When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer." ~ Corrie Ten Boom (author and Holocaust concentration camp survivor) "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." ~ Isaiah 42:16 "Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long." ~ Psalm 25:5