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88 Bloor Street E., Suite 2908, Toronto, ON  M4W 3G9
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Updated:  November 2, 2006

Hey peeps!  Hope everyone had a great Halloween .... is it me or was it kind of downplayed this year?  But as far as TV goes, I've never seen so many listings and ads for old and new slasher films!

Have you put this in your calendar yet? 
Dione Taylor launches her sophomore album I Love Being Here With You - join Dione at Lula Lounge on November 8th. 

Also check out the opportunity to nominate
unsung heroes of our community as well as news for the upcoming event for the Aroni Awards Foundation.

And some hot news from Carl Cassell of Irie Food Joint.  He's opening a new spot called Harlem!  He's inviting all of you to the opening party on November 20th!  See all details for all events below under HOT EVENTS

Unfortunately, I just didn't have the time to do Just My Opinion this week but stay tuned for next week's edition.




JAZZ.FM 91 presents Dione Taylor’s CD Release Concert - Wednesday November 8, 2006

Source:  Soular Productions Inc.

With her sparkling sophomore album, “I Love Being Here With You”  (Marquis/EMI) set for release on October 31, soul jazz songstress Dione Taylor has emerged as a fully formed and exciting young artist. While unmistakably a jazz album, “I Love Being Here With You” reflects Dione Taylor’s love and background in gospel, rhythm & blues and soul. Her rich and smoky voice has a truly soulful quality and has earned her international praise and nominations from the Juno’s, National Jazz Awards and the Canadian Urban Music Awards.

To record her latest album, “I Love Being Here With You”, Dione paired up with producers Doug Riley (Ray Charles, David Clayton-Thomas, The Brecker Brothers) and Sandy Mamane (Dione Taylor). “I’ve always been a big fan of Doug Riley and loved the results of the last album with Sandy so all three of us put our heads together and made some magic! ” The producers helped assemble an ace team of players including Jake Langley, Guido Basso, Pat LaBarbera, Terry Clarke and international piano virtuoso, Benny Green.  Another special guest on the album is vocal jazz sensation Denzal Sinclaire who duets with Dione on the tender and romantic title track.

This is my Love album. It explores all different kinds of love: intimate love, love for yourself, love for your friends and love for God.  The universal language of love is music and this is my gift to the world.”

Don’t miss her eagerly anticipated debut at The Lula Lounge!

"Dione Taylor is one of the brightest young stars on the Canadian music scene. She is the total package! She has the looks, the voice and the musical experience to make a huge impact on the music industry."

David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat and Tears)

Carl Cassell Opens ‘Harlem’ in Toronto – Monday, November 20

(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 20th!  The official opening is Saturday, November 25th so YOU get the opportunity to have the sneak peek on November 20th 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 20th!

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

*Note:  official opening on Saturday, November 25 at 8:00 pm

Call for Nominations for Unsung Heros

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

nominate :: participate :: celebrate

Inviting all professionals to
nominate candidates for the AroniMAGE Awards and the AroniEducation grant. Help us honour the unsung heroes of our community who continue to work in their respective fields, with a dedication to social harmony.  Nominations ends Nov. 13th.

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. 

Atlantis Pavilions
955 Lakeshore Blvd. 
4:00 pm-11:00 pm 

::top stories::

Trevor Berbick Found Dead In Jamaica

Excerpt from

(October 30, 2006) *Former Canadian heavyweight boxing champion Trevor Berbick was found dead early yesterday in a churchyard close to his home outside of Kingston, Jamaica. Authorities say the 52-year-old Jamaican-born fighter appeared to have been chopped and stabbed to death. "Given the nature of the wounds we can presume with some certainty that he was murdered," said Det. Sgt. Jubert Llewellyn of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to the Toronto Star newspaper. "Some of the wounds are consistent with those that could have been caused by a machete."  The body was discovered by police officers on routine patrol at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Top homicide investigators from the police service's headquarters in Kingston were dispatched to Portland parish to join the murder investigation.  Berbick, who fought for Jamaica at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, became a landed Canadian immigrant in 1979, shortly after beginning his pro boxing career while living in Halifax.  In 1981, Berbick beat an aging Ali in the final fight of the boxing legend's career. Then in 1986, he won the WBC heavyweight title on a decision over Pinklon Thomas. Eight months later, he lost the title to Mike Tyson by a knockout. Berbick later claimed he was drugged before the fight.

Legal problems filled his later years. In 1991, he was convicted of a misdemeanour assault for attacking his former business manager, who testified the boxer put a gun to her head and accused her of stealing $40,000 from him.  The following year, he was convicted in the sexual assault of a 16-year-old Florida babysitter and was sentenced to four years in prison.  He was also convicted of second-degree grand theft for forging his ex-wife's signature to get a $95,000 mortgage on his Miramar, Fla., home.  He served 15 months on those convictions and on his release from prison was ordered deported to his native Jamaica.  But before he could be removed to Jamaica, Berbick fled the state and slipped into Canada, moving first to Montreal, in an unsuccessful attempt to resurrect his boxing career, and later to British Columbia.  In February 1999, while in Montreal, Berbick defeated Shane Sutcliffe to win the Canadian heavyweight title for the second time.  That was later disputed, because, unknown to Canadian boxing officials, he had been stripped of his status as a landed immigrant and had been ordered deported six months earlier. But in December 1999, an immigration appeal panel granted Berbick a five-year stay, meaning he could apply for citizenship after that time if he kept out of trouble.  Berbick left B.C. and returned to Florida, where a warrant had been issued for his arrest. He was quickly deported by the U.S. to Jamaica in 2002.

Suspect Arrested In Berbick Slaying

Excerpt from

(October 31, 2006)  *A 20-year-old man was arrested in connection with the killing of former heavyweight champion
Trevor Berbick, who was found bludgeoned to death last weekend in a church courtyard near his family's home in Jamaica.   Several residents in the neighbourhood tell police that Berbick and the suspect were involved in a land dispute in their remote farming community in Norwich district.   Les Green, a Scottish detective who this year was appointed assistant police commissioner, refused to identify the man before his arraignment, which has not been scheduled.   "We have some very good information from witnesses, and we have recovered a weapon we believe was used in the assault," he said Sunday, according to the Associated Press.  Green said detectives were also investigating whether the attack was sparked by a family conflict.  "A domestic argument may be the root of the attack on Trevor Berbick, and detectives have been working hard on this inquiry," Green said. "They have interviewed some significant witnesses."  The suspect was arrested several hours after Berbick's body was discovered about 6:30 a.m. Saturday in his hometown parish of Portland, about 80 miles east of Kingston. Berbick, who was believed to be 52, was pronounced dead by a local doctor in the church courtyard next to the three-bedroom house where he was raised.  Detective Sgt. Kenneth Bailey of the Port Antonio police station in Portland told The Jamaica Gleaner that Berbick was last seen alive early Saturday at a nearby bar.   "The body had four wounds to the back of the head, as he was probably attacked from behind," Bailey told the newspaper. "The impression and damage done to the skull have indicated that a machete may have been used by his attacker or attackers to murder him."  Funeral arrangements have not been announced by Berbick's family.

Best Of Toronto : My Toronto - Austin Clarke

Excerpt from Now Magazine - By Austin Clarke

(October 26 - November 1, 2006) Each September, this ghost of memory hits me with nostalgia just as my mood changes, just like the light and the colours of leaves, bringing a new breath to life, a sweet breath, even though it is the precursor to lamentable weather... December and January. I love September, because it is the last sensual breath before the meanness of December, and this is why my walking through this 'hood takes on a greater dramatic anxiousness, a more romantic going out in the street to breath in, the taste of red wine in the air and the first sip of a dry martini, metaphors for September.  So I leave the house built in 1854 and lived in by a shoemaker, an escaped slave who disembarked from the Underground Railroad. I cross the street lacerated by ambulance, fire engine and police cruisers screaming through this section of the city. I enter Moss Park, careful of where I place my foot (because of what the dogs leave behind), past a bench occupied by unemployed men who smoke and talk and laugh in tongues I do not understand: Somali, Pakistani, Bulgarian, French and Spanish, their private diasporas of language. To the right, three sunflower stalks, yellow and golden, are lording it over the commoner plants in the communal kitchen garden. The eye catches one plant, a symbol of multiculturalism. Corn!  I cross the field, marked diagonally by winter boots and summer sandals, soccer and baseball shoes, avoiding the muddy grass as I avoid other things in this neighbourhood's grass: a syringe, a condom, a bottle cap, pop cans and a pair of panties left in the heat of escape.  Queen Street has no grass, only the steel of streetcar tracks, and I had left George Street, divided by the Park, but it comes back to join me near Toronto's first post office, near Goodwill, where immigrants shopped now, alas, the site of another condominium to climb the skies!

Then, King, then right, then left, and I face St. Lawrence Market! Oxtails? Yes. But no salt fish, no pigs feet. Strawberries? Okras? I snap the end of one to test its freshness. Peaches? And a pear. I remember to add "avocado" to pear: I am not speaking Barbadian. No pumpkin, no shark, no sea-eggs! Just the food of the middle class.  I think about the homeless left behind in the chattering Park; and I drop a loonie into a hat, to be mixed with dimes and copper pennies.  This touches my conscience. On my return, there is George Brown College, and I wonder if Mr. Brown knew shoemakers and black people. I'm facing north now. Britain Street, where the House of Anansi was, then Moss Park Armoury, where a homeless, sleepless man was beaten to death by soldiers. I grieve for soldiers and for Canada and wonder why we are in Afghanistan.  I remain surrounded by foreign tongues mixed with the language of a war-monkeying, war-mongering morality, so I take the third street, Jarvis, in my triangular constitutional and walk with "the ladies of the night," out early in the warming afternoon. I climb the steps of red carpet to the Grand and have a gin martini pardon the tautology! in a chilled glass the shape of a woman's body.  They say the RCMP building was where they locked you up, and sometimes smacked you around a little, to get at the truth.  So you sit and sip and suppose, "Suppose every month were September!"

Austin Clarke won the 2002 Giller Prize for The Polished Hoe

Radiant Whitney Out On The Town

Excerpt from

(October 31, 2006) *In one of her first public appearances since undergoing rehab and ditching husband Bobby Brown,
Whitney Houston dressed herself in a floor-length black Armani gown and an ear full of diamonds to attend the 17th annual Carousel of Hope Ball Saturday in Beverly Hills.  The 43-year-old singer arrived on the arm of record mogul Clive Davis, who discovered Houston as a teen and signed the New Jersey native to her first record contract at his former label, Arista. He is currently overseeing her highly-anticipated comeback album, due sometime next year.  "She's been through emotional trauma, and everybody's rooting for her," Davis told People magazine. "We're going to make a killer album." Houston posed for photographers at the event and told reporters “"I feel great." (Watch video footage here, courtesy of  Inside of the Ball, a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes research that raised more than $70 million, Houston sat at the main table with Halle Berry – who herself is a diabetic – and the actress's boyfriend Gabriel Aubry.  Quincy Jones, an honouree for the evening who has known Houston since she was 16, said the singer seems to have turned a corner, telling USA Today: "She's looking at the light, instead of darkness."  Other celebrity attendees included Naomi Campbell, Brooke Shields, Teri Hatcher, Hilary Duff, Kristin Davis, Sharon Stone, Minnie Driver, Sidney Poitier and couple Warren Beatty and Annette Bening.

Houston’s presence at the event prompted the evening’s entertainment, “American Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee, to ditch her signature number, "Over the Rainbow," in favour of Houston's "I Have Nothing." Houston threw McPhee a head nod of approval during the performance and led a standing ovation, reports USA Today.   Afterward, Davis brought McPhee over to meet Houston, who took McPhee's hands in hers.    "She said she was really proud of me," McPhee told USA Today.  The event's founder, Barbara Davis, sparkling in $12.5 million in Leviev diamonds, guided Stevie Wonder over to sit with Houston. "This is my baby," said Houston, taking Wonder's hand. "He's my baby, too!" piped Barbara Davis.   Barbara Davis, an “American Idol” fan, also invited former Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson to sing one of her songs from her upcoming film, “Dreamgirls.”   Hudson told USA Today: "It would be a dream to hear Whitney perform again. She had the greatest voice of all time."    Whitney has entered rehab twice during her 14-year marriage to Bobby Brown. She filed for divorce from the New Edition vet earlier this month after filing for separation on Sept. 8.  In the separation papers, Houston asked for custody of the couple's 13-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and that Brown, 37, be allowed visitation rights.

Ruben Detail's His 'Return'

Excerpt from - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(October 30, 2006) *
Ruben Studdard, also known as the Velvet Teddy Bear, has returned, although he never really left. “The Return,” the new disc from the 2003 ‘American Idol’ champ, hit stores this month under the guise of the balladeer’s sophomore R&B album, with the lead single, “Change Me” creating some serious buzz.  However, this is the singer’s third disc. Here’s the deal – Studdard was riding the top of the gospel charts during his hiatus from mainstream music. So, as he puts it, he’s never been away, but he’s back.  “I released a gospel album in 2004 and I was under the assumption, because I grew up in the South where we grew up listening to all kinds of music – gospel being one of our main influences, that that was how most people in the United States grew up. But basically I learned that the majority of music buyers aren’t very savvy in the arena of Christian music. So people would ask me, ‘Where have you been? What have you been doing?’ And I would say, ‘Well, actually, I have a #1 album out right now,” he explained. His gospel album, “I Need An Angel,” was released in November 2004 to much acclaim. It sold 700,000 copies and camped out at #1 on the gospel single and album charts. Though it’s clarified that “The Return” is Studdard’s third album, but second mainstream disc, just one listen of the project alludes to this being the singer’s first real record. Compared to his debut, “Soulful,” his sound is smoother and more confident on “The Return” and the lyrics are more personal and inspired. “[‘The Return’] is more mature than the first album,” Ruben described and explained that his first disc was influenced more by immediacy than his music. “I think the first album that I did was really a souvenir project for the people that watched the television show and it was really rushed and not really thought out as well as it should have been. On this his album I really got a chance to be myself. I think the people are really going to know how my voice has matured and how the sound has come along in the past few years.”

Perhaps the concept of “the return” is the underlying theme for Studdard’s career. After all, it was his return to his gospel roots that invigorated his work on “The Return.”   “I grew up in the church and gospel is something I hold near and dear to my heart. Fred Hammond and The Winans were my stars growing up. I did that album to pay tribute to them. On the gospel album, there’s only one original song. Everything is all covers and they’re all songs that I grew up listening to and loving,” he said. “I did the ‘Angel’ album as a stand-alone project and we worked it as if it was a mainstream record. And then I started working on this album, right after the release of the gospel album. We were trying to find direction and we came up with what we think is the best project.” Studdard is definitely more connected on this disc than he had been on past projects. He told EUR’s Lee Bailey that he hand-picked just about every producer on the album, which includes Ne-Yo (Mario), Scott Storch (Chris Brown), and the Underdogs – who lent a hand on his first single “Sorry 2004.”  “The album is really good and I’m really pleased with it,” he said. In addition to work on the album, Studdard has made strides for another return – the return to a healthy lifestyle. Though the singer said he had no intention on making his weight an issue, it’s too hard for people not to notice the difference. He’s lost approximately 75 pounds since spending four weeks at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in June of this year.  “I’ve been working out and eating right everyday and doing what I have to do to keep a healthy lifestyle,” Studdard said. “I learned how to change my eating habits. I’ve adapted the lifestyle that I learned and it’s continuing to work for me.”

He continued that making the change in his eating and living habits was strictly because he wanted to, not necessarily because of pressure from the industry.  “It became much more of an ordeal than I expected it to. I didn’t ask for people to publicize it, I just did my thing. I didn’t intend for it to be such a media frenzy.”  The return theme doesn’t stop there. Studdard has created a foundation, Ruben Studdard for the Advancement of Children in the Arts, to return favour to public schools.  “I just really wanted to do something to give back to the kids. I’m just working hard to make sure that we pour money back into the schools to keep the music education programs flourishing. We’re going to do our best to help these schools buy sheet music and instruments. I’m basically doing my part to give back to something that gave me so much.  I may never have been here had it not been for the music teachers I had in the public school system.”  For more on Studdard’s foundation and music from "The Return," check out “The Return,” on J Records, is in stores and available online  now.


Vieux Farka Touré - T.O. Man Offers Festival's Hottest Disc

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Goddard, Staff Reporter

(Oct. 30, 2006) SEVILLE, SPAIN—A Toronto producer fresh out of music school has created the biggest buzz of this year's Womex festival, the premier gathering of the world-music industry.  For five days straight,
Eric Herman, 23, has been popping up everywhere at the golden-domed conference centre in Seville, Spain, proffering a CD that hundreds of delegates from around the world have been happily snapping up.  The album is called Vieux Farka Touré. It marks the recording debut of the son of one of Africa's greatest and best loved musicians, Ali Farka Touré, who died in March.  "I was welling up with tears," Herman recalls of the day almost exactly one year ago when he brought son and father together for two tracks and the father's final recording session.  "It was such a watershed moment ... for the history of that musical tradition," he says.  "Vieux went from hiding his guitar from his father (and playing in secret) to receiving, in the final months, his father's blessing. It was the passing of the torch."  Herman grew up near Spadina and St. Clair Aves. in Toronto and left five years ago to study music at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

There he deepened a long-held interest in African music.  In 2003, for his research project abroad, he picked the West African country of Mali with the fantasy, he says, of tracking down Farka Touré and jamming with him.  Within a short time, the great man invited the visitor to his home in the Malian capital of Bamako.  Soon afterward Herman met Vieux, the second son, now 25.  "I met him at the Arts Institute where he was studying," Herman said in a weekend interview along a noisy corridor of the 14th annual congress, which this year attracted a record 2,500 delegates from 97 countries.  "Early on, Ali had forbidden Vieux from pursuing a musical path. His eldest son is a farmer. Ali basically said, `It's a cruel world out there,' but Vieux was persistent and practised the guitar in hiding.  "By the time I met him, he was a virtuoso," Herman said.  "He could imitate his father's playing brilliantly and knew his whole repertoire."  Vieux was also teaching African guitar to a visiting student in Herman's program. Herman introduced himself, started playing with Vieux regularly and the two became friends.  "The idea of cutting an album with him crossed my mind even then," Herman says.  But he was a college student. He returned home to continue at Wesleyan and, on the side, he and classmate Jesse Brenner started their own record label, Modiba.

To begin, they released a compilation CD of Nigerian Afrobeat music to raise money for victims of the Darfur civil war in Sudan.  Called the Afrobeat Sudan Project, an album funded by Ben Cohen of Ben&Jerry's Ice Cream raised $140,000 (U.S.).  In the spring of 2005, Herman graduated and returned to Mali. His intention was to produce an original Malian compilation CD to raise money for malaria prevention.  He reconnected with Vieux, who by then was playing guitar for Toumani Diabate, acknowledged master of the 21-string West African kora. Both musicians agreed to contribute tracks, as did father Ali Farka Touré.  But attention quickly shifted to Vieux.  "He was ready, he had the material and he certainly had the ambition and the talent," Herman says.  They would make Vieux's debut album instead. Herman returned to the United States to arrange business details, then was urgently called back.  "Toumani called and said, `You better get over here soon. Ali is on his way to Paris,'" Herman recalls.  "We all knew that he was very gravely ill at the time (diagnosed with bone cancer in early 2005). He was on his way to a hospital in Paris (for emergency treatment), but if I came he would stick around for a couple of more days."  Herman returned immediately. The next day, late last October, he brought Ali Farka Touré for the first and last time into the studio with his son.  "I never saw him again, but I spoke to him a few more times," Herman says. "He was very pleased with how things were going with the album. I was talking with (Ali's producer) Nick Gold today, who told me that Ali was playing (the recordings) a lot and with a lot of pride."  Elsewhere at the conference, Ali Farka Touré reminders surfaced repeatedly.  A number of his former musicians played a showcase Thursday night as members of Alkibar, now the band of Ali Farka Touré protégé Afel Bocoum.  Gold hosted a two-hour session that included three films showing "the master of Malian desert blues" in his last extensive recording sessions of 2005 and at a Paris concert.  Two acclaimed albums came out of those sessions: In the Heart of the Moon with Diabate and the intense, bluesy Savane.  Ali's former road manager Deborah Cohen announced that the Malian government has established a foundation to help continue the guitarist's legacy.  Its first major project, she said, will be to hold a three-day music festival in his honour in March, with a special trip for participants to Ali's native village of Niafunke, on the Niger River near Timbuktu.  The album Vieux Farka Touré is to be released in February, said Herman, who is based in Brooklyn. At the conference, he was talking with a number of Toronto concert presenters with a view to bringing the artist to Toronto as early as April.

The Hip-Hop Lifestyle, With A Touch Of Disco

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic

(Oct. 28, 2006) If you're a stickler for genre detail,
k-os has never made sense as a "pure" hip-hop artist.  He dabbled in prog-rock and bright acoustic pop on his 2002 debut, Exit. He scored major, Canada-wide hits with the jazzy New Orleans scoot of "Crabbuckit" and the Michael Jackson homage "Man I Used To Be" on 2004's Joyful Rebellion. And on his excellent new recording, Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, he confidently traverses such a wealth of styles — old-time soul, indie-rock, folk, reggae, Cure-tinged post-punk and, of course, rap (although not a great deal of disco) — that it seems totally limiting to stick him with the hip-hop tag.  Why should that be, though? Atlantis is, after all, the work of a man who grew up steeped in hip-hop, who cherishes his old-school record collection and sought inspiration for his new record at one point by spending an entire weekend studying the A Tribe Called Quest discography. It was hip-hop that catalyzed k-os's lifelong love of music, and it remains the jumping-off point for every musical exploration he's undertaken since. If he crosses a number of debatable (and, some might argue, artificial) stylistic boundaries in pursuit of his art, he's still a sort of genre unto himself. And that genre would not exist without hip-hop.  This, says k-os — a.k.a. Kheaven Brereton — is the message he's trying to send with Atlantis.  Since Joyful Rebellion, he's made no secret of his distaste for most contemporary hip-hop's self-cannibalizing homogeneity and has argued that the only way for the music to progress is through casting off its own assumed limitations. He's moved on because he's had to look to other forms of music to feel passionate about.

"Hip-hop wasn't just something I went to the studio and started doing," he says. "Hip-hop started with me banging on cafeteria tables with homeboy from
Pocket Dwellers, Nigel (Williams) — we went to high school together and he's an insane freestyler. We used to just rap and freestyle and those things were never captured on tape. Sometimes I think the best moments I've had in hip-hop are just `street corner,' you know? Even now, when I walk around and some kid will drop a verse, some verse comes outta me that I'd never expect because this kid's looking at me thinking, `Can he really rhyme?'  "As far as where I am in my music right now, it takes a lot to get me excited about hip-hop. I still listen to old-school. But I've rummaged through all my old-school records, so now what? I need those things to be updated."  To engender a sea change within the genre, k-os muses, "it takes a village, it takes the next boy doing his thing."  In Canada, however, the music industry's stubbornly spotty support of hip-hop doesn't really nurture — at least at a publicly audible level — the sort of "friendly competition" that encourages artists to chase down the next thing. The familiar is often the safest bet when one is clamouring for attention amid the tide of programmatic commercial sounds washing up from the States.  "I call it `musical chairs,'" he says. "It seems like there's one or two spaces for Canadian hip-hop and everybody's trying to fill that spot, whether it's k-os or K'Naan or Kardinal (Offishal) or Choclair. So my sort of thing is I'm not gonna pretend to be living in that world when most of the music I'm listening to is not hip-hop. It's coming from Justin Peroff and Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene), from Sebastien Grainger (ex-Death From Above 1979), from Sam Roberts — the people I've been hanging out with."  The formula has worked for k-os, who is set to fill three consecutive nights at the Mod Club starting Monday night.

There were a lot of straight-up hip-hop tunes recorded among the 30 or so culled from an initial pool of 50 or 60 "stretches" k-os entertained for Atlantis: Hymns For Disco, although only a handful made the "Top 15" captured on the record. These days, too, he says, he's been "back to rapping over KRS-One instrumentals" while writing.  He hasn't abandoned the music he loves, and is clearly hurt by accusations from some quarters that he's only attained mainstream success in Canada by cultivating his "crossover" appeal and courting guests like the Broken Social Scene massive, Buck 65 and Roberts on his recordings. Hence his recent, public beef with local weekly Now magazine over a mostly positive review that called into question his "true B-boy status."  Questions of "authenticity," unfortunately, are often the price paid by any musician looking to expand his or her horizons. It's not a genre-specific plight, by any means.  "Chrissie Hynde said in an interview: `Everybody thought we (The Pretenders) went from being a punk band to not being a punk band, when in actuality we just started to play our instruments better, we wrote better songs.'  "Evolution is also kind of a bitch in a way because hip-hop sometimes comes out of plugging your mike into the wall because you don't have a recorder, or recording on an old tape machine because you only have the money to do that. ... Sometimes I feel fraudulent because a lot of those tapes I still have of my friends and me in the basement, to this day, it's just so innocent, based on us doing our thing.  "Hip-hop is very much a music based on struggle, and you have to figure out what your struggle is and how you're dealing with it to rap about it. And even if you're doing that, is that too much thinking, if you're sitting there going: `What's my struggle now and how should I rap about it?' It gets really complicated. And it gets back to my point that rap is something you do, hip-hop is something you live.... The way I mix the kick drum on `Born to Run' is influenced by the fact that I've been listening to DJ Premier, and that's a hip-hop sensibility whether or not I rap on top of it."

K-os's Unusual Behaviour Overshadows The Release Of His New Disc

Excerpt from Now Magazine - By Jason Richards

(October 26 - November 1, 2006)
k-os... where do I begin?  A couple of weeks ago the artist went berserk on MySpace, posting a long, incoherent, ramble of a bulletin in response to what he deemed a less than flattering critique I'd written about his latest album, Atlantis: Hymns For Disco. He called me an Uncle Tom, a Sambo and a pawn of the white conspirators at NOW Magazine who've shamelessly duped me into doing their bidding.  In his rant, Kheaven Brereton refers to our common Trinidadian background. Should I have based my review on ancestry? What does this have to do with a less than stellar album?  I write about music. If I like the music, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say so. I also won't be deterred by the ravings of temperamental artists who can't accept the remote possibility that everything they touch doesn't turn to gold.  K-os will not allow for the possibility that I wouldn't love his record and would have the nerve to say so.  When I get a hold of him a week or so after his MySpace tantrum made headlines, he reveals his theory that I based my review on Tim Perlich's of his last album, Joyful Rebellion.  That's why he called me an agent in the racist, anti-k-os agenda at NOW.  Not to get all logical here, but the problem with his accusation is that there's just no reason or precedent for me to suddenly adopt someone else's opinion. K-os forgets that I've had lots of positive, well-thought-out things to say in NOW and elsewhere about his past projects.

But according to him, I may not even be aware I've become part of the conspiracy to suppress him.  "'Manipulated' is a very interesting word," he says, "and I did use that word. It means that the person being manipulated might not even know. He's just doing his thing. I've been manipulated in my life and I'm sure I've manipulated people. We all as humans do it, you know what I'm saying?"  He says the "indie rock" way always favours a limited definition of hiphop, which is what he thinks I'm guilty of doing.  "There's all these people outside of hiphop who want to posture and decide what it is or who's allowed to go here, or [they want to] keep you under the thumb of humility when it comes to you growing or trying to do things in different genres," he laments.  K-os thinks I should be loyal to him based not only on the Trinidad connection, but on a relationship he considers more personal than professional. Talk about manipulation.  "You've interviewed me a couple times, and you've reviewed a couple of my things, right? I have a personal relationship because I talk to you about music and hiphop. I know stuff about you, like what culture you're from, like some of the records you listened to growing up. So when the name Jason Richards comes up, it's not just like John Smith is reviewing me.  "It's personal because I consider you to understand hiphop quite well," he continues.  For all his issues, I wonder if he regrets his response.  "Do I regret writing those words? I mean, do you sometimes look at something you did and think you could have done it better, or more artfully?  "But I don't regret expressing myself. I just grow, and hope as a person that I can learn to express myself in a more clear, less convoluted, emotional way."

K-OS at the Mod Club Theatre (722 College), Monday-Wednesday (October 30-November 1). $30. 416-870-8000.

A Cuddly Legend In The Making

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Robert Everett-Green

Once Again
John Legend
Columbia (Sony BMG)

(Oct. 27, 2006) The title's a paradox, in that nothing repeated is ever done just once. "Again" joins the worshipper at prayer with the hedonist resisting or yielding to old temptations, and both of these figures appear on
John Legend's second album. The disc's best song is literally a prayer (Show Me), presented as a return to an interrupted dialogue. A taut, slightly Spanish guitar flourish introduces a high, floating tune that links Legend with the Sunday-best tenor of the Ink Spots' Bill Kenny and the androgynous alto of Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons). The melodic outline (falling by steps, rising by leaps) and halting phrase division seem loaded with religious symbolism, yet this is a genuine pop song, with a cozy, pillow-bound feeling to it. Even when singing to Jesus, Legend can't help showing off his faun-like erotic character. Legend was the brown-eyed boy of last year's Grammy Awards, winning three of his eight nominations, including best new artist. The other two were in R&B categories, though Legend's singing and song-writing style also owes a lot to Broadway and to classic crooners such as Tony Bennett. The tune of Again, the disc's central track, leaves lots of room for R&B ornament, but Legend performs it with a more contained technique of expressive tonal shifts and velvet finishes. "I know what you're prone to do," he sings, with an intensification on that word "prone" that anchors the phrase and fills it with narrative implication.

But mostly, Legend sounds cuddly, even when he's pleading for love (in Save Room), or trying to beat his serial weakness for a groupie (Stereo). The easy-going Where Did My Baby Go shows no trace of the bluesy anguish suggested by the lyrics. At his randiest (in p.d.a.), Legend can still invoke the spirit of black-tie romance ("I want to kiss you under the stars"). He's clearly singing about booty, but you can't imagine him calling it that. Other songs glide into disco heaven (Each Day Gets Better), a reggae afternoon (the subtly political Slow Dance) and a Brazilian revel (the witty Maxine, in which one woman's charms are revealed in a description of someone else's). Life's a party of sexy people in these songs, except that there's a moral choice hidden in almost every situation. Legend often goes a verse too long, the last three tunes are unnecessary, and a posse of producers (including, Raphael Saadiq and Kanye West) can't seem to help him write a bridge, but this is a strong album from a man whose talent is still blooming.

Soul Survivors - Refugee All Stars Rise From Ashes Of Civil War

Excerpt from Now Magazine - By Tim Perlich

(October 26 - November 1, 2006) Even though singer/songwriter Reuben Koroma is now into his second tour of North America, he's still amazed at how far his
Refugee All Stars have come since he formed the group some nine years ago in a Guinean refugee camp after fleeing civil-war-torn Sierra Leone with just the shirt on his back. As he sings of his group's unlikely rise to international popularity in the song Garbage To The Showglass, from their uplifting debut, Living Like A Refugee (Anti/Epitaph), "They found us in the garbage and put us in a glass case."  "Coming from a very poor family in Sierra Leone, I never dreamed I would ever come to America. This kind of travel is only possible for the richest people in the country, the rich children of wealthy businessmen and politicians – not people like us.  "As we move from city to city, everything is so clean and orderly. All the roads are perfectly smooth and the lights are so beautiful – they shine 24 hours a day. And the houses here are so big and well built, too."  Karoma appreciates the value of a sturdy dwelling, having spent five years in various tarpaulin-roofed temporary shelters. It was while wandering around the Kalia camp that he recognized someone he'd seen in Freetown, guitarist Francis "Franco" Langba, formerly of Super Negros Bantous. The serendipitous encounter would change both their lives.  "He was strumming on this guitar, and I could hear he was struggling to sing Bob Marley's One Love. I knew the words, so I began to sing along, and he was astonished. 'Oh, man,' he smiled, 'you can really sing! I've been looking for someone just like you.'

"I told him I was a percussionist with a group called the Emperors and we were looking for someone to help me play some songs I'd been writing about life in the camp. He was very excited and said, 'Now that I've heard you, I know I've got my vocalist, and I'm ready to play whatever you like!'  "That's how the Refugee All Stars began."  What's immediately striking about their music, documented on the Living Like A Refugee recording, is the upbeat swing of it all. Despite being inspired in part by the unspeakable atrocities of a bloody conflict and the hardships of day-to-day refugee camp life, the gently rolling tunes led by Langba's tasty S.E. Rogie-inspired licks over percolating hand percussion are never less than uplifting. That has a lot to do with Karoma's life-affirming compositions, which deal with troubling issues in a direct and poignant way.  "From the moment I arrived in the camps, I started writing these songs based on my bitter experiences. When somebody suffers, he is sure to gain some wisdom because of it. I wanted to try to express the truth of what we were all going through.  "I thought that if I could take all of our problems and put them in songs that we could play for people in the camps, maybe it could somehow minimize their trauma. Every time we would perform this music, the people would join in. It was a way of getting relief. They felt like somebody was finally speaking for them."  Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war has long since ended, and the release of the Living Like A Refugee album, along with the critically acclaimed documentary film The Refugee All Stars, by Zach Niles and Banker White, has made Karoma and crew into international celebrities. Yet they're finding that their new lives on the road, travelling by bus from one big city to another, isn't all that different from the camp life they described in the song Refugee Rolling: "Today you settle, tomorrow you pack."  "I have to be very thankful to the American filmmakers, because they introduced us to the world and put us on the international stage. The attention we got from the film has allowed us to make a living from our music and feed ourselves, buy homes and put our children in schools. So I would really like to thank them, and of course I would also like to thank everyone who bought a copy of our album and comes to see our concerts."

SIERRA LEONE'S REFUGEE ALL STARS at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Wednesday (November 1), 8 pm. $18.50. 416-870-8000.

Passion, Tears Yet At Music Matinee

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

(Oct. 27, 2006) You wouldn't expect something called the
Women's Musical Club of Toronto to engage in two hours of afternoon passion. But that's exactly what they did yesterday at University of Toronto's Walter Hall to kick off the group's 109th season.  Banish any images of blue rinses and tweed suits. This association of ardent music lovers is all about fine music, usually performed by Canada's finest.  Yesterday's case in point was I Musici de Montréal, a 23-year-old ensemble of 15 string players led by its founder, Russian-born cellist Yuli Turovsky. The ambitious program of five substantial pieces and suites was dramatic.  Behind Turovsky's sleepy-eyed poker face stirs the soul of a great artist who also knows how to craft a program.  The beginning was innocuous enough on paper: Mozart's Divertimento in D Major, K. 136. It's a straightforward, three-movement piece written when the wunderkind was 16. Yet I Musici filled it with vitality.  

The counterpoint to the Mozart was Dmitri Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony, Op. 73a, which he adapted from his 1946 String Quartet No. 3. Here again, I Musici mined every colour and rhythm from the score.  Unlike many stony-faced classical musicians, these are players who really get into their performances.  As the final, haunting folk-like melody died away in the Chamber Symphony, there were tears streaming down a couple of violinists' faces. This is not something one usually sees from people who do this for a living.  The rest of the program returned to a lighter vein, highlighting folk music from Spain, Greece and Romania in imaginative, captivating arrangements by Manual de Falla, Nikos Skalkottas and Bela Bartók.  Pity the few people who scampered out of the auditorium before the Bartók suite, likely intimidated by the Hungarian composer's reputation for difficult music. Like the others, this was a toe-tapping, tonal treat.  The Falla allowed Turovsky to show off his considerable skills on the cello — while also conducting with his back turned to the orchestra. His wife Eleonora, the group's concertmaster, was equally virtuosic on solo violin duty in the Bartók.  This kind of great music and programming is a rare treat.

Shut Up: Dixie Defiance

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing
(out of 4)
A documentary on the Dixie Chicks country music trio and their battle for free speech. Directed by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck. 99 minutes. At the Varsity. PG

(Oct. 27, 2006) There were two foolish boasts of "mission accomplished" made by and regarding major public figures in early 2003, one aboard a U.S. warship and the other backstage at a London concert venue.  The warship brag came from the lips of U.S. President George W. Bush, falsely proclaiming victory in the Iraq War.  The backstage boast came from Simon Renshaw, manager of Texas country trio the
Dixie Chicks, who spoke too soon in congratulating them for a successful gig in Britain's capital. It was the fateful show where lead singer Natalie Maines had voiced her anti-Bush and anti-war views: "Just so you know," she said to applause, "we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas."  The loose talk spectacularly backfired in both cases. But as Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck persuasively demonstrate in their documentary Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, the consequences for speaking boldly took a harsher toll on the Chicks than on Bush.  The president still has his job, albeit with much lower approval ratings than in 2003, when a majority of Americans believed he really had won the Iraq War.  The Dixie Chicks, on the other hand, have struggled for the past three years to regain ground lost when they were abandoned by country radio and many of their American fans (Canadians remained loyal) for daring to seem unpatriotic by dissing the president in a time of war.  The mistake Maines made, if you want to call it that, was not realizing that in the age of the Internet and unfiltered partisan blogs, a wisecrack made on a London stage can ricochet around the world without benefit of context or explanation, destroying a reputation before the victim realizes what's happened.

Maines also failed to remember that a Texan can never appear to be disloyal to Texas, even if you think you have a good reason for doing so. And even if — as we see in news footage — Bush himself simply shrugged off Maines's comment.  Faster than you can tune a banjo, the most popular female pop group in U.S. history saw record and ticket sales plummet.  But if ever there were a case of the punishment not fitting the crime, this was it. The Dixie Chicks became the object of hatred across America in a campaign fed by the radical right, which scorned Maines and her band mates Martie Maguire and Emily Robison as "traitors" and "Saddam's Angels."  Suddenly the best thing people could say about them, as the title implies, is that they should just shut up and sing. But there is no better way than adversity to test a person's mettle, and one of the many remarkable things about this film — including the bravery of allowing unfettered access to the filmmakers — is watching the band evolve as a result of an unplanned and apparently inconsequential remark.  The first reaction of Maines and her band mates is to try to laugh off the incident and to quickly put it behind them. Maines uses the word "I" in taking responsibility for the anti-Bush comment, but the canny Renshaw quickly corrects her, insisting that the band maintains a united front: "It should be we," he says.  The teamwork is easier said than done. When it becomes evident that Maines's remark could threaten the career of the chart-topping trio, cracks start to appear in band solidarity.  A recalcitrant Maines digs in and wants to record songs that directly address the controversy. She has absolutely no intention of kowtowing to either Bush sympathizers or country music fans, who very often are one and the same.  Maguire and Robison are less inclined to fight, especially after Robison becomes pregnant with twins. They worry about the direction of a group they formed in 1989, initially so homespun they accepted gigs in grocery stores.

Collective resolve stiffens right before our eyes as the three women together decide that fighting for the principle of free speech is worth more than fretting about album or ticket sales.  Implicit in the story is the knowledge that male pop stars wouldn't be subject to the same abuse for speaking their minds. Maines asks, quite reasonably, why it's okay for artists like Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan to make political statements, but not the Dixie Chicks.  Kopple and Peck don't neglect the music, the reason for it all. We are treated to glorious performance clips and also backstage glimpses of the husbands and babies who help keep the Chicks grounded and sane.  The story takes us right up to just this past summer, marked by the release of a new album and a tour taking the Dixie Chicks back to the "scene of the crime," as Maines puts it, the same London stage where the hullabaloo started.  We won't spoil it by revealing what happened, except to note that Maines gets an opportunity to employ another famous Bush quote, this time as evidence of how much she and her band mates have grown together.  "Bring it on!" Maines exults.  "Isn't that what Bush said?" WHEN POLITICS AND MUSIC COLLIDE

Diddy Scores First No. 1 Album In Nine Years

Excerpt from - Katie Hasty, N.Y.

(October 25, 2006)
Diddy scores his first No. 1 album on The Billboard 200 since 1997 this week with "Press Play." The Bad Boy/Atlantic effort also knocks Lloyd Banks' "Rotten Apple" from the throne on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart after only one week. "Press Play" sold 170,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the lowest first-week sum of Diddy's solo career.  Under his previous moniker Puff Daddy, his debut "No Way Out" also topped the 200 with a whopping 561,000 units in 1997. The follow-up, 1999's "Forever" (205,000) and 2001's "The Saga Continues" (186,000) both debuted and peaked at No. 2.  Evanescence's Wind-Up effort "The Open Door" keeps the No. 2 spot warm for a second week with 112,000 copies, a 31% sales decline. Pop youngster JoJo returns to the chart with her sophomore set "The High Road" (Da Family/Blackground) at No. 3. Moving 108,000 units, the set also trumps the No. 4 chart entry of her 2004 self-titled debut.  Justin Timberlake's "FutureSex/LoveSounds," which topped the chart for two weeks earlier this month, jumps up 7-4 with 99,000, an 8% sales increase. Dierks Bentley arrives at No. 5 with "Long Trip Alone" (Capitol Nashville), which also bows at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart.  The set shifted 82,000, good enough for his best sales week and Billboard 200 charting position to date; his 2005 release "Modern Day Drifter" began with 75,000 at No. 6. "Long Trip" was previewed by the single "Every Mile a Memory," which ascends 3-1 on new Hot Country Songs chart, to be posted tomorrow on

After entering at the summit of the big chart last week, Rod Stewart's J Records release "Still the Same... Great American Rock Classics of Our Time" falls to No. 6 with 79,000 (-57%). Meanwhile, Hinder's "Extreme Behavior" continues to prosper in its 38th week on the chart, ascending 9-7 with 76,000 and a sales decline of less than 1%.  "American Idol" second season winner Ruben Studdard is back with "The Return" (J) at No. 8 with 71,000 units. His debut set, "Soulful," started at No. 1 in 2003 with 417,000, while the gospel-dominated follow-up "I Need An Angel" began at No. 20 in 2004.  Tony Bennett's "Duets: An American Classic" (RPM/Columbia) falls 5-9 with 68,000, a sales slip of 35%, while the Killers' "Sam's Town" (Island) rounds out the top 10, falling 6-10 with 62,000.  Bentley is not the only country star to enjoy a strong debut this week. Vince Gill impacts the chart with the four-disc album "These Days" (MCA) at No. 17, which sold 42,000 copies. Other big debuts include Frankie J's "Priceless" at No. 30 (Columbia, 26,000), Aerosmith's "Devil's Got a New Disguise -- The Very Best of Aerosmith" at No. 33 (Columbia, 23,000), Lonestar's "Mountains" at No. 37 (BNA, 22,000), Hi-Tek's "Hi-Teknology, Vol. 2: The Chip" at No. 38 (Babygrande, also 22,000) and Sarah McLachlan's holiday set "Wintersong," at No. 42 (Arista, 20,000).  Overall CD sales are down 2.3% from last week's count and down 2.3% compared to the same week a year ago at 9.86 million units. Sales for 2006 are down 5% compared to 2005 at 423.5 million units.

Japanese Pop Star Aki Blooms With 'Final Fantasy'

Excerpt from - Steve Traiman, St. Petersburg, Fla.

(October 27, 2006) It's not only top American artists getting into the lucrative videogame music action.
Angela Aki, one of Japan's most successful new pop acts, handles vocals on "Kiss Me Good-Bye," the ending theme for Square Enix's much anticipated "Final Fantasy XII" videogame, in stores Oct. 31 exclusively for PlayStation 2.  The soundtrack album on Tofu Records, due the same day, will feature other tracks composed, arranged and produced by Hitoshi Sakimoto, with a bonus music video of Aki's single.  "We chose Angela from many candidates," Square Enix music publishing division producer/GM Kensuke Matsushita tells "She had an established music style and a beautiful, powerful voice that matched the song composed by Nobuo Uematsu."  

"FFXII" has sold more than 2.4 million copies since its release in Japan earlier this year, and the total franchise has topped more than 60 million sales worldwide, according to Square Enix.  Prior to "FFXII," only the eighth version of the game featured a song with vocals: "Eyes on Me" by popular Chinese artist Faye Wong. The track was later covered by Aki and included on one of her mini-albums.  After indie success with her first album "One," Aki was signed by Epic Japan. Her debut, "Home," arrived in September 2005 and has sold more than 500,000 copies to date, according to the label.  In the U.S., "Kiss Me Good-Bye" and a four-track EP featuring the "Eyes on Me" cover are available via digital download retailers. Upcoming is a December date at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan concert hall, self-accompanied on piano.

A Great Writer Gets A Colourful Tribute

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Ken Winters

The Real Man of La Mancha
Toronto Consort
At Trinity-St. Paul's Centre
In Toronto on Friday

(Oct. 30, 2006) Like good performances of Haydn, concertos by Bach, and plays by George Bernard Shaw, almost anything performed by the
Toronto Consort cheers me right up. This dear band -- so expert, so rhythmically alive, so humorous, at times so touching -- has such an infectious good time doing what it does so well, I just sit and smile. Friday night, the consort of just 11 musicians (including a guest harp, Maxine Eilander) swarmed us with at least 15 instruments and five voices, bringing lovely and various music of 16th and 17th-century Spain on a delicately shifting tide of rhythm and a shot-silk luminosity of tunes and timbres. Artistic director David Fallis had the good idea to string the musical numbers on a slender but savoury storyline based on the life of 'the real Man of La Mancha' -- Miguel de Cervantes, the great 16th-century Spanish writer -- and on brief, illuminating insights from the pages of Cervantes's most celebrated work, Don Quixote de la Mancha. Fallis himself impersonated Cervantes and told the story, as it were, in the first person, very crisply, clearly and with a fine ironic edge. The musical items were aptly chosen and adroitly interleaved with the story, with the possible exception of a piece by Enrique Valderrabano for lute and guitar, Para discantar, a longish, limp noodle on a drone bass which seemed to go nowhere, though elegantly played by Terry McKenna and Lucas Harris. (Both quite shone in the rest of the program, and notably in the wonderful Jacaras by Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz which opened it). We met two of Cervantes's literary companions in the first group: Jorge Montemayor, whose text Pasaba Amor was finely sung to anonymous music by soprano Michele DeBoer; and Lope de Vega, through his captivating short poem, Hoy se biste de alegria, about the birth of John, with music by Francisco Morales.

Cervantes's Italian sojourn was represented by music of Adriano Willaert, Alonso Mudarra (a solo harp fantasia subtly played by Eilander) and Diego Ortiz (a Recercada segunda brilliantly done by Alison Melville on recorder and the strings).  The Willaert, a ribald love song, was a particular hit, sung by Fallis himself -- with no voice, but what pitch, what rhythm, what insouciant ease! -- and with backup by the other four singers.  A section of laments gave us the consort's sterling bass John Pepper in a song by Miguel de Fuenllana about the Moorish defeat at Alhama; and its superb mezzo-soprano Laura Pudwell in an Estaban Daza song about a homesick exile. Cervantes's imprisonment and five years of slavery in Algiers yielded a rich outcropping of Moorish music. A folk song, Llama bada, was fetchingly sung by soprano Katherine Hill.  A gorgeous little traditional song, Tres moricas me enamoran, told of a fellow's doomed infatuation with three young Moorish beauties; a sweet-voiced Paul Jenkins, flanked by Fallis and Pepper, was the fellow, and a primly exquisite DeBoer was spokesperson for the girls, seconded by Pudwell and Hill. The poor guy hadn't a chance. Another terrific folk tune was played by Katherine Hill on her rebec and percussionist Ben Grossman on his simple array of instruments (including the black box he was sitting on), the two conjuring irresistible rhythms out of their irrepressible impulses. And so it went: With each player, each singer, so simply and engagingly inside the music, the time flew past.  The evening reached its climax with a Pudwell solo (Esperar, sentir, morir) by Juan Hidalgo; an a cappella quartet by Francisco Guerrero; a harp and percussion duet by Fernandez de Huete; and a ravishing Chacona by Juan Aranes, with the whole consort in its thrall.  What a pleasure.

Sophie Milman - A Swinging Young Thing

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

Sophie Milman
At the Winter Garden Theatre
In Toronto on Saturday

(Oct. 30, 2006) Ever since Norah Jones had a massive pop hit with what was ostensibly a jazz recording, there has been grousing in jazz circles about the lack of a "traditional" jazz sensibility among the new generation of jazz singers.  Although the complaint is vague enough to cover gripes ranging from "doesn't swing" to "thinks Doobie Brothers songs count as standards," there does seem to be a generational shift in the works, with Anita Baker and Joni Mitchell replacing Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter as inspirational idols. Fortunately, there are exceptions to that rule, and
Sophie Milman may be the brightest of them. A petite 23-year Torontonian (by way of Russia and Israel), Milman clearly fits the template for Hot Young Chanteuse, being stylish, good-looking and vocally gifted. But rather than hop on the jazz-pop bandwagon, Milman prefers to do things the old-fashioned way, applying her satiny soprano in ways that evoke Vaughan far more vividly than they do Baker or Mitchell. That's not to say she avoids rock completely, much less that she sounds like a throwback to the great jazz singers of the fifties and sixties. But like the little girl with the curl, when she's good, she's very, very good. Milman is a mezzo-soprano, and likes to exploit the darker end of her voice, underlining her phrases with a sultry tone that makes it easier to feel the swing in her singing. That's not the only trick in her book -- between her Russian heritage and a youth spent largely in Israel, she's developed an impressive command of some fairly exotic melismata -- but it's one she plied regularly in Toronto on Saturday.

The performance was a bit of a special occasion. Not only was it a triumphant return to her hometown after more than a year spent touring in support of her eponymous debut, but the show was also being recorded for digital download. Thus, her touring quartet was augmented by an all-star horn section, and her repertoire adjusted to emphasize new material over favourites from her debut. To her credit, almost all of that new material was written before she was born. Milman has a real weakness for standards, and packed her set with hard-swung renditions of It Might As Well Be Spring, Someone Exactly Like You and Whatever Lola Wants. The material suited her, too -- she brought a wickedly playful sensuality to Whatever Lola Wants, and offered a languid reading of I Can't Give You Anything But Love that found her savouring each syllable as if it were an exquisite chocolate. There were times, however, when Milman's reach exceeded her grasp. She nicely navigated the West Side Story tune Cool, but ended up overshadowed by the brassy arrangement (although, to be fair, it is more a dance number than a vocal showcase in the original). And while it was nice to hear her put a lascivious edge on the Peggy Lee hit Fever, her bluesy vocal was somewhat denatured by the modal harmonies of the too-arty arrangement. Still, Milman's tendency to emphasize breadth over depth seems more a product of youth than a reflection of actual shallowness. She's mastered the melancholy at the heart of the Russian classic Ochi Chernye, and pulled an impressive amount of pathos from It's Not Easy Being Green.  It would be interesting to hear what she could do with material that demanded as much from her emotionally as her current book does vocally. But, hey -- she's only 23. She's got time to grow into that voice. Sophie Milman performs in Gananoque, Ont., on Friday, in Ottawa on Saturday and in Montreal Nov. 15.

Ludacris, Half Serious

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Joshua Ostroff

(Oct. 30, 2006) When
Chris (Ludacris) Bridges rolled into the Oscars this past spring, he was merely the latest in a long line of rappers turned actors, but he left as the first MC to star in a pair of award-winners in the same year — the southern hip-hop indie Hustle & Flow and the best picture, Crash. Of course, for some people, no number of gold statuettes can make rap music respectable — the previous fall, Oprah Winfrey had invited the cast of Crash on her show and used the opportunity to attack Ludacris's lyrics, joining the incongruous ranks of Bill O'Reilly to rail against the playfully salacious, Grammy-winning rap star. “To be honest with you, this is one of those arguments that will never ...,” Bridges pauses, sighing heavily. “The people who felt the way they did before are always going to feel that way. I hate to be pessimistic about it, but it seems like an argument that will never be won,” he says. “Is that fair? No, but all I can do is try to lead by example and maybe other rappers listen to my music and say, ‘Hey, maybe I can talk about some different stuff, too.'” Given that his greatest hits have boasted such indelible choruses as “I've got hos in different area codes” and “Move, bitch, get out the way,” it might seem that the quick-witted and dirty-minded rapper protests too much. But the new album Bridges is currently in Toronto to discuss, Release Therapy, features a freshly serious side that comes through in introspective songs about child abuse, depression, politics and prison.

Release Therapy] is just like Crash — it's very controversial, it's showing reality and it ends on a good note,” Bridges explains. He says the new direction was inspired less by the overblown Oprah feud than the Oscar-winning film, the influence of his five-year-old daughter and simply getting older. “Just being three-dimensional, growing and realizing what's going on in the world — that's all it was. I had four records of me being one way, to a certain degree. At a point, you have to show a different side of yourself. I hate when people just put me in one box.” Fair enough — and this album won't find Bridges trapped firmly in the “conscious rap” box, either. Though the cover of the rapper's fifth album does show him looking sadly serious and shorn of this trademark braids, he hasn't abandoned the fun-loving attitude that brought him to the party. Instead, he split the record like a cassette tape and front-loaded it with more familiar, radio-friendly jams like the appropriately-titled Money Maker, currently No. 1 in the United States and still climbing the Canadian pop charts. Cynics might say he's playing it safe with yet another silly, sub-par song about shaking exactly what you'd think. But Bridges is a businessman, and his new song Mouths to Feed lays it out pretty plainly: “I'm all about my green / I'm 'bout supply and demand / I'm 'bout to serve the fiends.” Great singles invariably break through, and Kanye West's success made thoughtfulness more acceptable, but what “the fiends” want, and what commercial radio prefers to serve them, is repetitive party raps. “Hip hop is driven by a really young audience, and I feel they pretty much determine what should and should not be played — they're the ones calling up and requesting certain songs,” Bridges explains.

He should know, considering that his music career began on the other side of the airwaves back when he was better known to Atlanta radio listeners as Hot 97.5 on-air personality “Chris Lova Lova.” “It happened because I was going into the radio station trying to get a demo song played,” Bridges recalls. “I thought it would be a smart means-to-an-end way to meet a lot of people.” Though he began as an intern, Bridges's already cartoonish persona helped him quickly ascend onto the airwaves, where he became a local “ghetto celebrity.” And his ulterior plan worked perfectly as he played Outkast and Tupac tracks while laying groundwork for his independently released 1999 debut Incognegro and subsequent mainstream takeover. “I'm very versatile because that [job] made me realize what commercial success was — what can and can't be played on the radio,” he says. “Radio is important because it's the No. 1 way to reach a large audience of people at one time. Should radio change their format a little bit and play different songs? I would say yes. But we do have XM Radio shows that started doing that. So radio could stay the way they are and that would be more of a reason for other things like satellite radio to go against the grain.” It's no surprise that Bridges name-drops XM, since he's briefly returned to the DJ booth for a one-hour weekly satellite radio show, Open Mic!, which airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on channel 66. “My show is geared towards trying to not necessarily play the stuff that's played on the radio all the time, but really new and exclusive music,” he says. Still, he admits, subscriber-based satellite radio has yet to have the same impact as its FM cousin on either sales figures or hip-hop culture. “I don't think people have that much disposable income right now to buy things that they can get free already,” he says. “TV cable has so much more to offer than the local channels, but as far as satellite radio, the demand isn't that strong yet.” But once Money Maker runs its course on radio, Bridges is going out on a limb by pulling from the album's serious side for his next single: Runaway Love, a Mary J. Blige-assisted ballad about troubled young girls “forced to think that hell is a place called home.” “So we'll see if radio will play it or not,” he says solemnly. “We shall see.”

Jazze Pha Busy With Cee-Lo, Yung Joc, Clothing Store

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(October 30, 2006) Producer
Jazze Pha has partnered with Tamara Knechtel and longtime friend and business partner Ryan Glover to launch the clothing store Knitch, which is scheduled to open Nov. 16 in Atlanta.  Pha will serve as "Head Sneaker Pimp" for the shop, which will carry couture jeans for men and women, casual wear and footwear, among other items. "That's somebody who's really on top of the whole sneaker game," Pha tells of his title. "It's kind of like a competition with these sneakers [to see] who got the flavour. We gon' have some special designs -- like an after-market thing where I [redesign] Air Force Ones or adidas."  Pha, who will co-host the November grand opening of the Atlantic Station store, views his involvement in the venture as a natural extension of himself. "I'm really into style [and] clothing period," he says. "It's just really a big part of hip-hop and I believe that me putting my name into it is going to [shed] a whole other light onto the store."  The Atlanta-based producer recently helmed records for Sammie, Lil Scrappy and Lloyd as well as "Stop & Go," the lead single from UGK's upcoming double-disc album, "Underground Kingz." Next up, Pha will head to the studio with Yung Joc, Cherish, Young Dro and Jody Breeze of Boyz N Da Hood.

As for "The Happy Hour," Pha's as-yet-unreleased collaborative effort with Cee-Lo, the duo has completed roughly 20 tracks and is waiting until Cee-Lo finishes up touring with Gnarls Barkley until releasing new material.  "We were thinking about trying to do a mini-movie and making the album the soundtrack to it, but the album is pretty much done," says Pha. "I imagine we'll probably record a couple more songs but I think the records that we did are pretty much timeless."  The new offering is set to feature guest appearances from Nate Dogg, Keith Sweat and former Guy member Aaron Hall, among others. "We like to call it 60 minutes of well-dressed drama," says Pha. "It's grown music [but] young soul -- that's what Cee Lo likes to call it. It's refreshing and nostalgic."

The Game Opts To Prove Himself Without 50 Cent And Dr. Dre

Excerpted from an article that ran in the Oct. 28, 2006, issue of Billboard magazine. Subscribers can read the issue's content online via Crosley )

(October 26, 2006 ) Hands wrapped in sparring tape, Campton, Calif., native
the Game steps into the boxing ring for his Hurricane 2 shoe campaign shoot. But this battle is twofold. He's also poised to fight for his sophomore album, "The Doctor's Advocate," which streets Nov. 14. Bringing to mind a classic shot of Muhammad Ali before his Rumble in the Jungle bout with George Foreman, the Game seriously seems a few steps away from hollering that he's the greatest.  "You make hit records, and people love you. You don't make hit records, and people hate you," the Game quips. "If I made bricks, I'd give people their money back, but I'm just not good at making bricks. I tried to make 'Hate It or Love It' a brick, and you saw what happened with that." What happened is that it became one of the biggest hits of 2005, checking in at No. 10 on Billboard's year-end Rap Songs chart and No. 24 on the year-end Billboard Hot 100.  Few MCs can survive a character assassination from an entire rap crew, especially if the mob leader is 50 Cent. But the Game, aka Jayceon Taylor, has bloodied his knuckles protecting his brand and his manhood while the G-Unit crew has done quite a bit to destroy his street credibility. From DJ Whoo Kid and 50 Cent depicting him dressed as a thong-clad stripper on their "G-Unit Radio Part 21: Hate It or Love It" mixtape to the Game's own brother denying the rapper's street cred in the press, he has sustained. And since authenticity is hip-hop's meal ticket, it's been a dangerous game indeed.  Yet the Game's recent switch to Geffen Records from his former Interscope home, brokered between his manager Jimmy Rosemond and Interscope president Jimmy Iovine to release the artist from G-Unit Records, couldn't have come at a better time. With the G-Unit house falling far short of its previous Nielsen SoundScan marks, it now seems like a smart decision for the Game to separate his identity. But now he must prove that he can write hit songs without the help of 50 and hitmaker Dr. Dre.

"It's put-up-or-shut-up time," Rosemond says. "Game's laughing his heart out right now, because we made a conscious effort to move away from 50 and build his own brand. If you look at Lloyd Banks and Young Buck, they have nothing besides what 50 allows them." But the Game wasn't always this cocksure.  Signed by Dre in 2002, the rapper has the life story publicists dream about. Born and raised in Dre's hometown of Compton, he left behind college basketball scholarships for gang life with his older brother, a Cedar Block Piru Blood. Then, in a fateful twist, the Game was shot Oct. 1, 2001, during a robbery of his home. He spent his recovery learning to rhyme and studying classic hip-hop albums like Nas' "Illmatic" and Ice Cube's "Death Certificate."  Though legend has it that the Game had never rapped before December 2001, Dre found, coached and pushed him to release one of the biggest singles of 2005 in "How We Do," featuring 50 Cent, which peaked at No. 2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Then came the infectious "Hate It or Love It," also featuring 50 Cent. It peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.  The Game's constant grimace pushed his debut, "The Documentary," beyond double-platinum and had West Coast hip-hop heads hoping for a revival. But when he refused to join 50 Cent's beefs with artists like Jadakiss and Fat Joe, 50 changed his golden ticket. While R&B/hip-hop WWPR New York was interviewing the Game in February 2005, 50 Cent booted him from G-Unit over the air on crosstown rival rhythmic top 40 WQHT (Hot 97), insisting it was he and not the Game who wrote most of "The Documentary." Later that day, there was a shootout at WQHT between the pair's entourages, and a member of the Game's clan was clipped.  Then in a "Days of Our Lives" turn of events a few weeks later, the Game and 50 Cent held a truce at Harlem's Schomburg Museum in New York, where they shook hands and donated several thousand dollars to the Harlem Boy's Choir. But the following summer at New York's notoriously controversial Hot 97 Summer Jam concert, the Game launched his "G-Unot" campaign, attacking 50 Cent's street credibility as well as the entire G-Unit roster.

"Absolutely, there was trepidation," Rosemond says of the Game's decision to go against his former crew. "Whenever there's a feat that you have to accomplish, it's scary. But he came into this business as a man, and he has remained a man."  Now, a weary Game is tired of the politics. "It's like beating a dead dog," he says. "50 couldn't dictate what the mighty powerful Dr. Dre is doing. It just happened that Dr. Dre wasn't on the album, but it definitely didn't have anything to do with 50, unless there's something I don't know. If so, I don't want to know, because that's politics, and I just want to make music good enough to be called a classic."  Rosemond says Dre did supply early beats for "The Doctor's Advocate" -- he's referenced in the title, after all -- but after the album's path changed, they didn't make the final cut. Dre could not be reached for comment at press time.  "When you're making a classic album, you want to pick the best tracks," he adds. "We're making a conscious effort to get away from the Interscope and Aftermath brands. Game's been the man in this whole thing. If 50 says he can't write hooks, then he'll do them by himself. If he says he can't sell without Dr. Dre's beats, then he won't use them."  The 16-track "Doctor's Advocate" is an extremely West Coast-sounding record, with stereotypical California basslines. The lyrics are rife with the intrinsic violent threats hip-hop loves. And with a track listing that includes Left Coasters like "Too Much" featuring Nate Dogg, "Bang" featuring the Dogg Pound, "California Vacation" featuring Snoop and Xzibit, and another joint simply called "Compton," it is obvious the Game's returning to his sonic roots.  "Dre nor 50 are on the album because people said 'The Documentary's' success was heavily Dre- and 50-influenced, making me look like I was just the dumb n*gga from the hood who didn't know what he was doing," the Game explains. "There's no turmoil with Dre. He took the training wheels off my bicycle for this record, and I can ride around the corner by myself. There aren't any hard feelings."  As for Jayceon Taylor's ultimate plan for the album, he's thankful for all his obstacles. "I don't regret the hurdles, the obstacles or the pain I suffered," the Game says. "Just being alone and everybody turning their back on me. Now everybody's back in my face because there's only one entity: that's just making f*cking hit records."

Highly-Anticipated Def Jam Debut  - Hip-Hop Is Dead

Source:  Universal Music

(October 30, 2006) NEW YORK, NY –
Nasir Jones has a message: Something is terribly wrong with the state of hip-hop today.    One of the greatest MCs to ever pick up a microphone, Nas has watched as his beloved hip-hop has gone from its innocent days of B-Boy battles and lyrical sport to today’s fake-thug posturing and commercial excesses, and he’s got something to say about it. Throughout his storied career – which began with 1994’s classic Illmatic and has spanned the last decade with over 12 million albums sold – Nas has been more than just the genre’s foremost lyricist and thinker. He has become a statesman, some would argue hip-hop’s “conscience.”    As evidenced by last year’s highly-publicized reconciliation with longtime adversary JAY-Z, and his subsequent signing to Def Jam Recordings, Nas has shown that actions speak louder than words: unity is more powerful than divisiveness. The time has come for hip-hop to grow. Now, with the December 19 release of his long-awaited Def Jam debut – the aptly-titled Hip-Hop Is Dead – Nas returns to his role as mentor and teacher, his legendary mic skills as sharp as ever, and takes today’s young rappers back to school. The lesson? Hip-Hop – As Nas sees it – is very much alive.   “What I mean by 'hip-hop is dead' is we're at a vulnerable state," Nas recently told MTV News. "If we don't change, we gonna disappear like Rome. Let's break it down to a smaller situation. Hip-hop is Rome for the 'hood. I think hip-hop could help rebuild America... We are our own politicians, our own government, we have something to say.”

Nas keeps it vital from jump. On “Q.B. True G,” featuring Compton’s The Game, the two MCs trade verses over a vicious Dr. Dre beat; the student pays homage to the teacher, remembering standing on line to cop Illmatic. On the Nas-produced “Where Are They Now,” Nas runs through a litany of classic, bygone MCs over a monster James Brown sample. The theme continues on the Scott Storch-produced “Carry On Tradition,” a warning to students of the game. “Still Dreamin’” features a soul-heavy beat and hook from Kanye West. Elsewhere, Snoop Dogg shows up on the west-coast tinged “Play On Player.”    Will.I.Am productions show up twice on the album: the title track, “Hip Hop Is Dead” is set to a heavy rock beat interspersed with old-school breaks and showcases some of Nas’ most dexterous mic work in years. “Unforgettable,” featuring Def Jam songstress Chrisette Michelle, riffs off a Sam Cooke sample, with Nas’ looking forward to the golden years, while looking back on his past: “When was the last time you heard a true anthem/Nas, the millionaire, the mansion/When was the last time you heard your boy Nas rhyme/Never on schedule, but always on time.”    Finally, Nas brings an uncompromising political stance on “White Man’s Paper (War)” featuring Damien Marley. Set to a throbbing Bob Marley sample, Nas flirts with controversy, chanting: “I get my news from that white man’s paper/So I get my views from that white man’s paper/ My people act a fool for that white man’s paper/And I don’t think it’s cool, Fuck that white man’s paper/ No books in our school cuz that white man’s paper, Is droppin’ cruise missiles on the head of our neighbours/And I’m like why?”

The tones and themes throughout Hip-Hop Is Dead should be familiar to Nas fans: defiance and wisdom, mourning and hope. However, his perspective, focus and intensity have changed. There is a new sense of urgency in Nas’ pleas for change.   "When I say 'hip-hop is dead,' basically America is dead," Nas continues. "There is no political voice. Music is dead. Our way of thinking is dead, our commerce is dead. Everything in this society has been done. That's where we are as a country.”   Hip-Hop Is Dead, and the remarkable circumstance leading up to its creation, marks a new passage in Nas’ story. While the past is certainly gone, and the present is constantly changing, with a new label and an incredible new album, Nas’ future is an open page, waiting to be written.   Stay tuned for more….

Hip-Hop Artists Singing Finance 101

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -Tavia Grant

(Oct. 31, 2006) It's a rainy, cold morning in Toronto, but that hasn't stopped several thousand hip, hyped teens from turning up for a most unlikely event — a financial seminar. It's a crowd not normally seen at lectures on credit, budget balancing and the importance of savings. But when that information comes from some of the top names in hip hop, from Lil' Mo to the godfather of rap himself, Russell Simmons, it's an entirely different thing. This weekend marked the first time the
Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment came to Canada. Mr. Simmons, multimillionaire and founder of the record label Def Jam, sits backstage in an orange T-shirt and ball cap, sipping a Red Bull and explaining why he devotes so much time to helping kids, many of them from poor families, take charge of their finances. “They don't talk about this in schools,” he said in an interview. “The idea is to look inside and lift yourself up — and it's inspiring when you see people who've done it who come from your community.” Mr. Simmons, along with Benjamin Chavis, the youngest person to ever lead the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, started the summit in 2001.

The summit began as a means for hip-hop artists to assess the state of the culture. It has since morphed into a gathering that encourages entrepreneurship in young people. Mr. Simmons refers to financial empowerment as the last legs of the civil rights movement. In the past few years, artists ranging from Eminem to Will Smith and Snoop Dog have participated in the financial summits. It comes as hip hop has exploded into the mainstream, gaining prominence on every continent. The cool factor has made it a marketer's dream. NASA and Honeywell International Inc. are using it to promote scientific careers in U.S. schools. Adidas AG has boosted its brand with recent endorsement deals from rappers 50 Cent and Jay-Z. Stars like Sean (Diddy) Combs and Kanye West have made diamonds manly. The industry that's now worth billions of dollar has humble roots. It was born in the Bronx three decades ago, when artists started experimenting with scratching records, break-dancing and rapping. As its popularity grew, so too did the wealth of its artists. Hip hop's image is now arguably just as much about bling and big cars as poverty and social inequity. But Mr. Chavis said it's not just about conspicuous consumption. “This is about the return of entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “I'd much rather see a young person coming out of poverty by selling CDs than by selling guns.”

The man who has worked with Martin Luther King sees hip hop as key tool for social change. Here's how it works. Each person who attends the summit gets a free Get Your Money Right workbook at the entrance. Inside, each artist on the panel is introduced. Once the hoopla subsides, hosts take turns posing questions to the panellists. Topics range from the importance of credit to opening a bank account. The latter is a huge issue in the United States, where an estimated 12 million Americans are “unbanked,” meaning they don't have a bank account and are vulnerable to predatory lending and hefty fees to cash their paycheques. The situation is better in Canada, where 1 per cent of people don't have a bank account, according to a 2002 Ekos Research Associates Inc. survey. That said, the payday loan industry, known for its exorbitant lending rates, now lends $2-billion a year to two million Canadians. “Think what people are paying just to cash their cheques, and what it adds up to over a year,” Mr. Chavis said.  “No one should go into adulthood being financially illiterate.”

Groban Strikes A Chord

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- John Terauds, Entertainment Reporter

(Oct. 31, 2006) With his tousled, curly dark hair tumbling around retro-looking glasses, slouchy jeans and well-worn Uggs,
Josh Groban is less like a poster boy than the geeky-but-charming guy next door.  But the guy next door isn't a multi-platinum performer.  This 25-year-old California-born singing phenomenon has sold nearly 14 million copies of his second album, Closer. He is adored by women young and old around the world. And he is set to bolster the ranks of fans with Awake, an album of 13 new tracks coming out next Tuesday.  Slouched comfortably on a Toronto hotel sofa, Groban confirms a coming concert visit to our city, likely in March.  "Toronto has a special place in my heart," he says, recalling his February 2004 date at Air Canada Centre. "It was the largest crowd I had sung to at that point."  He also had a memorable accident. "That was the night I tripped and fell down the stairs (on his set)," he says, laughing. "It was such a serious song, too. But I was glad I could laugh about it afterward."  Groban has travelled the world several times since then. He spent the weekend chilling in Toronto after performing in London, England, last Friday — and before the start of a massive media blitz in November.  Next week, he'll be on Good Morning America and Live With Regis and Kelly, and signing records in New York City and his hometown of Los Angeles.

It's a wild schedule.  "I wouldn't do it if I wasn't addicted to it," says the singer, who is having a running battle with insomnia. "Of course, I sleep. But often I go to bed and everything is so quiet ... I think I prefer lots of noise," he laughs.  The fourth track on Awake — "February Song" — was born on a sleepless night. "I wrote it to myself, as I tried to find my own light in the tunnel, as I struggled at the crossroads."  Jetting around the globe is not always easy. "Very often, I find myself alone in a hotel room. It all becomes a blur," he admits. It's no surprise that he is single right now.  "I've been dating off and on," he says. "But it's not easy when you know that pretty soon you're going to be gone for months at a time. I've pretty much decided that I've got to be concentrating on my career right now."  Groban's songs are like windows into the trials and tribulations of love and early adulthood. The singer denies that this is due to careful packaging.  "Knowing that the demographic of my listeners is so wide, in the end I know I have to write music to please myself," he says. "These songs are my heart and soul. I'm not a good liar."  Awake is a purely pop album, with Groban accompanying himself on piano, backed with a classical orchestra.  Groban says he consults a vocal coach regularly, and is happy about the progress he is making on what were already rock-steady vocal cords.  "I feel like I'm taking ownership of my voice for the first time. I was so unsure at 17 or 18. I was performing, but I always worried if I was placing this or that note right," he says. "Now I'm finally starting to get to know my voice really well."  He says he chose the new album's songs so he could "wrap my voice around them."  Although he sounds happy with the kind of music he is writing and performing these days, Groban doesn't rule out appearing in a Broadway show, if the right offer comes along.  He studied musical theatre before beginning his pop career, "and after doing a number of special shows and benefits in New York, it's definitely something I'd like to try."  There's talent and determination behind that quiet exterior.

Kelly Price Back With New Release

Source: Tynicka Battle, ThinkTank Marketing,

(November 1, 2006) After garnering success in the secular world of music, Grammy-nominated artist
Kelly Price has returned to her gospel roots for her This Is Who I Am. Price, a Ron Isley protégée, known for her guest vocals on hits such as Mariah Carey's "Fantasy," The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money Mo Problems," P. Diddy's "No Way Out" and Whitney Houston's "Heartbreak Hotel," dropped her debut Soul Of A Woman in 1998 and enjoyed immense success with the track "Friend of Mine." The anthem broke chart records by reaching Billboard's top spot twice without the help of a music video. Her last album, Priceless, was released in 2003. This Is Who I Am will be the Queens native's first gospel album. The singer who started writing at the age of seven was once told by record executives "No one wants to look at a fat girl or buy her records, no matter how good she sounds." She went on to prove them wrong by collaborating with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Brian McKnight, LL Cool J, Mary J Blige, Brandy, The LOX, Donnie McClurkin, The Williams Brothers, Faith Evans, George Michael, Karen Clarke-Sheard, Yolanda Adams, MASE, Mary Mary, R. Kelly, Eric Clapton, Wynona Judd, Gerald Levert, Angela Winbush, The Isley Bros and her mentor Ronald Isley, who helped her get her first big break.

Zomba / Gospo Centric Records

Watch Kelly Price perform "Healing" on the Fox News Channel:

ABOUT KELLY PRICE: Kelly Price has been said to possess one of the most extraordinary voices in modern music. Born and reared in Queens, NY, Price's musical talent showed itself at an early age. Price's mother vividly recalls the many, many nights the household was awakened to the sound of Kelly singing out from her crib.  As a child of the Church, both of her parents are ordained ministers, music became inextricably intertwined with the emotional fabric of her life, and it was through music that she expressed feelings she was often unable to speak aloud. One day, after being deeply saddened by a book she read for a black history project, Price wrote a song to express the complicated emotions she was feeling. That was her first song. She was 7 years old.  Before the age of 10, Kelly sang on her first recording and by 18, she was recording and touring the world with multi-platinum pop diva Mariah Carey. Always a quick study, Kelly watched and learned the intricacies of studio and production work and soon began to expand into areas other than background singing. Kelly refers to these early years as her "formal education."  As a guest vocalist, Price went on to appear on such acclaimed hit singles as Mariah Carey's "Fantasy," The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money Mo Problems," P. Diddy's "No Way Out" and Whitney Houston's "Heartbreak Hotel."  In the years to come, Price would share her musical gifts - in vocals, production and writing - with a Who's Who of A-list and legendary artists, including George Michael, Aretha Franklin, Brian McKnight, LL Cool J, Ben Tankard, Mary J Blige, Brandy, The LOX, Donnie McClurkin, The Williams Brothers, Faith Evans, Karen Clarke-Sheard, Yolanda Adams, MASE, Mary Mary, Richard Smallwood, R. Kelly, Eric Clapton, Wynona Judd, Gerald Levert, Angela Winbush, The Isley Bros and Ronald Isley, among countless others.

Though many record labels pursued Kelly as a solo artist, it was her connection with Isley and his relentless belief in her talent that resulted in an alliance between Price and him and the birth of her debut solo effort - Soul of a Woman. That 1998 CD delivered the #1 smash women's anthem of the year "Friend of Mine," penned by Price. Price followed her stellar freshman effort with platinum-selling Mirror Mirror in 2000, One Family: A Christmas Album in 2002 and the critically acclaimed Priceless in 2003.  Right from the start, Price broke records by reaching Billboard's top spot twice with the same song, having achieved the # 1 victory with no music video at television. No artist has done that since the conception of the instrumental marketing tool of the music video. It was a sweet victory for Price after being told by several music executives that she was talented and beautiful, yes, but, "No one wants to look at a fat girl or buy her records, no matter how good she sounds." Kelly reminded the world that big was indeed beautiful.  Millions of albums later, this award-winning, Grammy-nominated, singer, songwriter, producer, actress and, now, author has only begun to show the world who she is and what she is capable of. Now, Price will expand her reach yet again with the release of her first gospel CD, This Is Who I Am, released by EcclectiSounds/GospoCentric through Zomba.


Maxwell Reactivates Three-Album Project

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(October 30, 2006) R&B singer/songwriter
Maxwell is looking to unveil material from his long-brewing, three-instalment album "Black Summer's Night" early next year via Columbia/Sony Urban. The first album will arrive Feb. 13, according to the artist's MySpace page.  A single was initially due Oct. 11 but the site states that "due to scheduling obligations with Columbia Records, we are not able to release the new single to MySpace at this time." A non-working audio file of a song called "Fistful of Tears" currently appears on the site.  In a message posted on Sept. 1, Maxwell wrote, "The last week of letters and comments have done a lot to get a brother off that couch and on to the studio. Who knew after five years that anyone would be around? You proved me wrong and I thank you for it. It feels so right to be back with you."  "Black Summer's Night" will be Maxwell's first release since 2001's "Now," which has sold 1.7 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan and spawned the singles "Lifetime," "This Woman's Work" and "Get To Know Ya."

Omarion Joins Ne-Yo, Mario On Scream 5 Tour

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(October 26, 2006) R&B singer and former B2K frontman
Omarion has been added to the line-up for the Scream 5 tour, joining fellow young vocalists Ne-Yo, Pretty Ricky and Mario as well as rapper Yung Joc.  Omarion will be promoting his sophomore solo set, "21" on the trek, which kicks off Nov. 22 at Miami's American Airlines Arena and concludes New Year's Eve in Washington, D.C.  Other supporting acts on the BET-sponsored outing include Sammie, Jibbs and One Chance. Last year's Scream tour featured Omarion, Bow Wow, Marques Houston and Bobby Valentino.

Myspace To Block Music Uploads

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Oct. 31, 2006) LOS ANGELES — will use "audio fingerprinting" technology to block users from uploading copyright music to the social networking site, the company said Monday.  MySpace, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., said it will review all music files uploaded by community members to their online profiles. The files will be run through a music database from Gracenote Inc.  "MySpace is staunchly committed to protecting artists' rights, whether those artists are on major labels or are independent acts," said Chris DeWolfe, MySpace chief executive and co-founder.  The company said users who repeatedly attempt to upload copyright music files will be permanently barred from the site.  Online sites such as MySpace and YouTube have come under fire from major record labels who have sued in some cases to prevent copyright music from being included as the soundtrack to a user-generated content.  Several record labels recently announced licensing deals with YouTube, which has chosen to share ad revenue with record labels rather than filter music itself.

Michael Jackson Working With Black Eyed Pea

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Oct. 31, 2006) BURBANK, Calif. — The Black Eyed Peas' can count the King of Pop among his fans.  Michael Jackson invited the rapper-producer to collaborate on some new tracks for an upcoming album. That led to the two getting together at a recording studio in Ireland, Jackson says in a two-part interview with "Access Hollywood" set to air Thursday and Friday.  "I like what he is doing and thought it would be interesting to collaborate or just see how the chemistry worked," Jackson says. ``I think he's doing wonderful, innovative, positive, great music.''  Jackson hasn't released a new record since 2001. But he says he never stopped writing music.  "I am always writing a potpourri of music," he says. "I want to give the world escapism through the wonder of great music and to reach the masses.''  In recent years, Jackson has promised various projects that he has yet to deliver, including a benefit single for Hurricane Katrina victims. He has also said he plans to release a new album in 2007 produced by a Bahrain-based record label.

Nina Simone Hits The Dance Floor

Excerpt from

(October 31, 2006)    *Several famous dance club DJs were allowed to have their way with the music of legendary vocalist
Nina Simone for a new album from Legacy/RCA titled “Nina Simone: Remixed and Reimagined."  Due in stores today, "Remixed" features Groovefinder's spin on "Ain't Got No/I Got Life," already a hit in the United Kingdom, as well as Coldcut's version of "Save Me" and humid techno’s Francois K's "Here Comes the Sun."    Beloved Zanzibar houseman Humphries, who says his parents kept a collection of Simone LPs, came out of studio retirement to record his dancefloor-burning dub of "Turn Me On.” (Humphries’ last remix was Janet Jackson's "Together Again" in 1997.)  "Nina's music is experiencing a major resurgence right now," says the album’s executive producer Scott Schlachter. His “Verve Remixed” series will continue in 2007 with reworkings of songs from Billie Holiday.

Songstress Dalia Raiyen Poised For 2007 Debut

Source: Candice Smart, Courtney Barnes, The Courtney Barnes Group,,

(October 31, 2006)   The early 2007 release of R&B songstress Dalia Raiyens U.S. debut, Sacred, along with the first single from the album, Show Me (featuring Jadakiss) will unveil a talent that has made music industry insiders take notice.  Rodney Jerkins, Shawn Daniels (Dark Child), Mark Nelson, Raoul Santiago, Sice & Carmen, and Yummy are just a few of the leading producers and writers that Raiyen has worked with. The 23-year-old, North African prodigy was signed to Sony Music at the age of 16 and later worked independently, releasing her first album overseas. Raiyens upcoming album, Sacred, which she executive produced, reflects the multicultural environment she grew up in. Born in France, raised in Switzerland and spending her summers in Tunisia (North Africa), she quickly developed a gift for language, speaking fluently and singing in seven of them. Her passion for writing and reading poetry developed into songwriting at an early age. I dream of reaching the world through my music, Raiyen says. I want to bring a Grammy home to Africa. Dalia Raiyens unique beauty, dazzling fashion sense and good-natured elegance are a few of the natural star qualities she possesses. She is inspired to entertain and impassioned to succeed and the accomplishments she has made thus far in her career, give every indication that she will.

Simon Trpceski  - A Fine Night Of Soft Light

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

(Nov. 1, 2006) "Less is more" has to be one of the most underrated slogans in our culture. We say it often enough, but it's rare to see it realized — in any form.  So young Macedonian-born pianist
Simon Trpceski came along last night to the Jane Mallett Theatre to give the Music Toronto audience a clear lesson in achieving this elusive ideal.  The 27-year-old's program was focused on less than a century of music, spanning Frédéric Chopin to Claude Debussy, with some late Johannes Brahms and early Alexander Scriabin to fill the 19th century middle ground.  The pieces ranged from deeply introspective to showy and virtuosic. But by sheer force of will and a prodigious keyboard technique, he distilled each piece down to its essentials.  The result, played on a bare stage, had a simple purity more powerful than the flash and noise of a large concerto performed with a symphony orchestra. Lovers of piano music will remember this as one of the great recitals of the season.  Trpceski started off with the most difficult task, taking on the technically least demanding pieces — four Intermezzos from Op. 117 and 118, composed by Brahms in his cranky old age. These are delicate, harmonically saturated pieces that can lose momentum in the wrong hands.  In recent seasons at Music Toronto, both Stephen Hough and Lucille Chung failed to bring these pieces to life. But with an unaffected air and a light touch, Trpceski shone soft light through these gossamer creations.  He took the same approach to three pieces from Claude Debussy's second book of Images, turning ordinary notes into gently shimmering cascades of colour, finally building up to the rollicking, occasionally jazzy "Poissons d'or."  His playing was so perfect that it took an effort to remember to breathe while listening.  More rambunctious was the Sonata No. 2 by Scriabin and two Scherzos by Chopin. But even here, Trpceski cleverly brought us back to the intimacy of Brahms to counterbalance the showoff-ish passages.  He made the link between a slogan and unaffected beauty.



October 30, 2006

2Pac, The Complete Live Performances, Eagle Vision USA
50 Cent, No Mercy No Fear, BCD Music Group
8Ball, Light Up the Bomb, 8 Ways
AG, Get Dirty Radio, Look
Avant, Lie About Us, Universal/Island
B.G., The Best of tha Heart of tha Streetz, Vols. 1-2, Koch
B.G., The Heart of tha Streetz, Vol. 2, Koch
Baby S, Street Swangin,
Bad Seed, Dirty Urine, Draft
Balance, Balance Yo' Chips, Sumo
Beanie Sigel, Still Public Enemy #1,
Big D, Salem Girls, Springman
Big Snake, Snake Eyes, Nexxlevel
Big Youth, Musicology, Nocturne
Birdman, Like Father, Like Son, Cash Money/Universal
Bob Marley, Definitive Gold, Deja Vu
Bob Marley, Reggae Master, Immergent
Bodaiga, The Warehouse,
Boney M., The Magic of Boney M. [BMG], MCI
Bootsy Collins, Christmas Is 4 Ever, Shout
Bun B, Texas Legends, Oarfin
C.L. Smooth, American Me, Shaman Work
C-BO, 100 Racks in My Backpack [Bonus DVD], Sumo
Cee-Lo, The Closet Freak: The Best of Cee-Lo Green the Soul Machine, Arista
Celly Cel, Brings the Gumbo Pot, Independent Music Network
Channel Live, Secret Science Rap, Draft
Cherish, Do It to It, Pt. 1, EMI/Capitol
Ciara, Promise, La Face
C-Rayz Walz, 1975: Return of the Beast, Draft
Crew GRRL Order, B GRRL Stance, SLAMjamz
Criminal Element, Career Criminal, Emetic
Da Volunteers, What's Yo Favorite Color?,
Dave Hollister, Book of David, Vol. 1: The Transition [Bonus Track], BMG/Zomba
Dayton Family, Return to Dayton Ave.,
Decompoze, Decomposition, LA Underground
Dennis Bovell "Blackbeard", Strictly Dub Wise [Frontline/EMI], Astralwerks
Dennis Brown, Live at Montreux [Bonus Tracks], Store for Music Ltd
Desmond Dekker, In Memoriam: 1941-2006, Secret
Desmond Dekker, Mastercuts, MVD
Diana Ross, I Love You, EMI
, Press Play, Bad Boy
DJ Jazzy Jeff, Hip Hop Forever, Vol. 3, Rapster
Don Dinero, El Ultimo Guerrero, Universal Latino
Dyablo, Revoluxion, EMI Music Televisa/Street Noize
Eminem, Eminem Presents the Re-Up [Clean], Shady
Explicit, Devil's Prayer, BCD Music Group
Fat Joe, Make It Rain, Virgin
Fiend, Can I Burn, Fiend Entertainment
Flavor Flav, Flavor Flav, Draytown
Four Corner Hustluz, 4 Corner Hustluz, Thug City
Four Corner Hustluz, 4 Corner Hustluz [Clean], Thug City
Frost, The Best Of Frost: The Remix Album, Aries Music
Gemini, Gemini Rising,
Ghetto Mafia, Draw the Line [Remastered Classic Street Hits],
Ghetto Mafia, Full Blooded Niggaz [Remastered Classic Street Hits], Power Street
Gina Darby, One More Day, Showgun Ent
Gladys Knight, Everybody Needs Love/Bluely, Universal/Motown
Gladys Knight, If I Were Your Woman/Standing Ovation, Universal
Gladys Knight, Knight Time/A Little Knight Music, Universal
Gladys Knight, Silk & Soul/Nitty Gritty, Universal/Motown
Gnarls Barkley, Who Cares, WEA
Greedy Loco, Golden State, EMI Televisia Music/Low Profile
Heet Mob, They from Where, Slam Jamz
Hyphy Mode, Go Dumb Get Stupid, 40 West
Ice Cube, Laugh Now, Cry Later, Lench Mob
Ice-T, Gangsta Rap, Melee
Incredible Bongo Band, Bongo Rock [Compilation], Mr. Bongo
J. Holiday, Be with Me/Back of My Lac, Capitol
Jackie Mittoo, Wishbone, Light in the Attic
James Brown, Definitive James Brown, Store for Music Ltd
Janet Jackson, 20 Y.O. [Japan Bonus Track/DVD], Emi Japan
Janet Jackson, So Excited [Single], Virgin
Jhevon Paris, Dirty Laundry, SPG
Jim Jones, Bright Lights, Big City, Koch
Joker, Southside Gangster, Aries Music
Juggaknots, Use Your Confusion, Amalgam Entertainment
Kenny Latimore, Uncovered/Covered, La Face
Kevin Federline, Playing with Fire, Reincarnate
Kidz in the Hall, School Was My Hustle, Red Urban
K-The-I, Broken Love Letter, Mush
Latino Rap MC's, Devil to Pay: El Diablo Para Pagar, 40 West
LeToya, She Don't [Single], Capitol
Lil' O, South Sid Tippin, Oarfin
Lil' Romeo, Greatest Hits, Koch
Lil-Tec Corleon of Da U.S.C., Hitz from Da Sticks, Vol. 2, BCD Music Group
Luciano, Wisdom, Knowledge & Overstanding, Island Entertainment
Lupe Fiasco, Daydreamin', Pt. 1, Atlantic / Wea
Lyrics Born, Overnite Encore: Lyrics Born Live!, Quannum Projects
Magno, All Flows 10 Mixtape, Oarfin
Marva Wright, Do Right Woman, Shout
Michelle & Christina, Toxic, Promise Communication
Millie Jackson, It Hurts So Good, Southbound
Mobb Deep, Life of the Infamous: The Best of Mobb Deep, BMG
Monica, Makings of Me [Bonus Track], J/BMG
Mr. Shadow, The Mistahs: Neighborhood Tales, Low Profile
Nick Saunders, Resonance, Pop Fiction
Nicolay, I Love the Way You Love, BBE
NYR, NYR, Virtuoso
Omarion, Invitation Only, Music Video Distributors
One Chance, Private, J Records
P.K.O., Live in Japan, 3D
Pastor Troy, Atlanta 2 Memphis, Money & Power Rec.
Paul Wall, Before the Storm, Koch
Paul Wall, Get Ya Mind Correct: The Remix Album, Koch
Paula DeAnda, Paula DeAnda [Bonus Track], BMG/Arista
Pharrell Williams, That Girl, Pt. 2, EMI/Virgin
Pitbull, Ay Chico (Lengua Afuera), TVT
Pitbull, El Mariel, TVT
Public Enemy, Beats and Places, Slam Jamz
Qwel, Freezerburner, Galapagos
Rapid Ric/Trae, All Flows from Da Garage, BCD Music Group
Raven-Symoné, From Then Until,
Ray Charles, Definitive Gold, Deja Vu
Rena Scott, A Love Thang, Amor
Roblo, Street Epidemic, Sumo
Rodguel "Blackbeard" Sinclair, I Wah Dub, Astralwerks
Ron Artest, My World [Advance], Lightyear
Rosie Gaines, Welcome to My World, Susu
Ruben Studdard, Return [Japan Bonus Track], BMG/RCA
Saafir, Good Game: The Transition, ABB
Sister Carol, 1Derful Words, Black Cinderella
Smokey Robinson, 50th Anniversary Collection, Universal/Umtv
Squeak Ru, Fatworld, Free Agency
Stacy Mitchhart, I'm a Good Man,
Steel Pulse, Rastanthology II: The Sequel, United States Dist
Stink Mitt, Crime Scene,
Tattoo Ink, Wanted Dead Or Alive, EMI Televisa Music/Street Noize
"The Don Bishop" Agallah, You Already Know, Nocturne
The Chi-Lites, Sweet Soul Music [DVD], St. Clair
The Clovers, Jukebox Hits 1949-1955, Acrobat
The Game, It's Okay, Universal/Polydor
The Spinners, Sweet Soul Music, St. Clair
The Stylistics, Sweet Soul Music, St. Clair
The Wild Magnolias, They Call Us Wild, Universal/Polygram
Tum Tum, Money Talks,
Various Artists, New Orleans: Rebuild Restore Rejoice, Mardis Gras
Various Artists, The Hi Records Story, Hi-
Various Artists, The Soul of Money Records, Vol. 2, Kent
Various Artists, Aggro Berlin Presents: Aggro Videos, Pt. 1, Groove Attack
Various Artists, Can You Flow? Instrumental Renditions of Eminem's Greatest Hits, Re
Various Artists, Chicano Rap Allstars, Vol. 3, East Side
Various Artists, Death Row's 15TH Anniversary, Death Row
Various Artists, Hip-Hop Tribute to Def Leppard, Tribute Sounds
Various Artists, Hyphy City [Bonus DVD], Sumo
Various Artists, Rap or Die: West Coast Rappers with an Attitude, C&B Productions
Various Artists, Soldiers United 4 Cash: Bonafide Hustlas, BCD Music Group
Various Artists, Tribute to Busta Rhymes, Calvin
Various Artists, Ultimate B-Boy: City vs City, Music Video Distributors
Various Artists, Urban Latino Hip Hop, Ava
Various Artists, 40 Reggaeton Hits, Platano
Various Artists, Asian Dimes: Reggaton Mix, Sony International
Various Artists, Rebel Salute 2006, Vol. 1, Island Entertainment
Various Artists, Rebel Salute 2006, Vol. 2, Island Entertainment
Various Artists, Rebel Salute 2006, Vol. 3, Island Entertainment
Various Artists, Reggae Masters, Vol. 1, Immergent
Various Artists, Romance del Reggaeton, Sony International
Various Artists, Solo Under, Vol. 2, Universal Latino
Various Artists, Trojan Box Set: Bob Marley Covers, Trojan
Various Artists, Vintage Sound Clash: Bodyguard vs Saxon, Reggae Exports
Walter Jackson, Welcome Home: The Okeh Recordings, Vol. 2, Kent Soul
Wreck, The 18th Angel, Thump
X-Clan, Return from Mecca, Suburban Noize
Yukmouth, 100 Racks: The Album [Bonus DVD], Sumo

November 6, 2006

Akon, Smack That, Universal/Island
Amy Winehouse, Back to Black, Umvd Import
Amy Winehouse, Rehab, Pt. 2, Umvd Import
AZ, The Format,
Beyoncé, Irreplaceable, Pt. 2, BMG International
Billy Preston, The Wildest Organ in Town!/Club Meeting, EMI
Bob Marley, 48 Titres Originaux, The Intense Mus
Bob Marley, Riding High in Trench Town, DBK Works
Bob Marley, The Great Bob Marley [Rajon], Rajon
Bobby Byrd, How Will We Know When We're Dead,
Boney M., The Magic of Boney M. [BMG], MCI
Bounty Killer, Nah No Mercy: The Warlord Scrolls, VP / Universal
Bushwick Bill, Little Big Man [Chopped & Screwed], Asylum
Cadillac Don & J-Money, Look at Me, Asylum
Cali Agents, Fire and Ice,
Control Machete, Eat... Breath... and... Sleep, Universal Latino
Damon of La Epidemia, Latinas, Thump
Dennis Brown, Live at Montreux [Bonus Tracks], Store for Music Ltd
Dionne Warwick, Me & My Friends, Concord
Do or Die, Headz or Tailz [Chopped & Screwed], Rap-A-Lot
E.S.G., Come Away with Me, Soul Jazz
Earl Bostic, Earl Bostic Story, Proper
Eminem, You Don't Know, Aftermath
Gladys Knight, Every Beat of My Heart [Prism], Prism
Gladys Knight, Everybody Needs Love/Bluely, Universal/Motown
Gladys Knight, If I Were Your Woman/Standing Ovation, Universal
Gladys Knight, Knight Time/A Little Knight Music, Universal
Gladys Knight, Silk & Soul/Nitty Gritty, Universal/Motown
Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere [Deluxe Edition], Downtown
Gnarls Barkley, Who Cares, Warner
Iomos Marad, Go Head, All Natural Inc
James Brown, Definitive James Brown, Store for Music Ltd
James Brown, Great James Brown [Box], Rajon
Jin Choi, Bark EP, Ware
Jon B., Holiday Wishes: From Me to You, Arsenal
Karaoke, Karaoke: Isley Brothers, Chartbuster Karaoke
Katt "Money Mike" Williams, The Pimp Chronicles, Pt. 1, CodeBlack
KB the Kidnappa, Spitting Venom,
Kelis, Kelis Was Here [Bonus Tracks], EMI
Killa Klump, Killa Thughs, Vol. 1, Rex Recordings Inc
Kinto Sol, Los Hijos Del Maiz, Univision
Kuky, Kuky, Machete Music
Lil' Romeo, Greatest Hits, Koch
Lil Uno, Once In A Decade, Toltec
Lloyd Banks, Help, Interscope
Mal Hablado, Shake That Ass, Thump
Mickey Avalon, Mickey Avalon, Myspace
Mila J, Split Personality, Universal
Minnie Riperton, Perfect Angel/Adventures in Paradise, EMI
Minnie Riperton, Stay in Love/Minnie, EMI
Morley, Days Like These, Circular Moves
Mr. Criminal, What the Streets Created, Pt. 2, Thump
No Luck Club, Prosperity, Igloo Cartel Recordings
Planet Asia, Don't Get It Fucked Up, SMC Recordings
Ray Charles, 46 Titres Originaux, The Intense Mus
Raylene, Lookout Weekend, Thump
RZA, Afro Samurai, Koch
Science Fiction, Bmore: Guttermusic, BBS
Science Fiction, Dubsteb, BBS
Science Fiction, Grime, BBS
Smokey Robinson, 50th Anniversary Collection, Umvd Import
Sofla Kingz, La Sofla Nostra, R.N.L.G. LLC
Spellbyndaz, Adversity, R.N.L.G. LLC
Talib Kweli, Ear Drum, Reprise / Wea
Tech N9ne, Everready [FYE Exclusive], Strange Music
The Clovers, Jukebox Hits 1949-1955, Acrobat
The Platters, Great Platters, Rajon
The Primeridian, Hang On [Single],
The Wild Magnolias, They Call Us Wild, Universal/Polygram
The Wylde Bunch, Wylde Bunch, Surfdog Ada
Thes One, Lifestyle Marketing, Wax Orchard
Trae, 7 Years and Runnin, BCD Music Group
Tyrone Davis, The Soul Sessions, DM
Various Artists, The Greatest: 70s Soul Classics, St. Clair
Various Artists, Behind the West Coast, Thump
Various Artists, Body & Soul: Blue Lights in the Basement, Time/Life
Various Artists, Latin Hip Hop Revolucion Mixtape, Thump
Various Artists, Only Hits [Rhino], Rhino
Various Artists, Sen Dog Presents Fat Joints, Vol. 1, Latin Thug
Various Artists, 2007 Ano de Exitos Reggaeton, Universal Latino
Various Artists, Bachaton Relouded [CD/DVD], Nu
Various Artists, Black Uhuru & Other Reggae Rebels, Immortal
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
Various Artists, Roots Boricua: Antologia de Reggae, Machete Music
Walter Jackson, Welcome Home: The Okeh Recordings, Vol. 2, Kent Soul
Weeto, Call Me Big Weets, Thump
Woodie, Northern Expozure Vol. 7, R.N.L.G. LLC
Young Jeezy, I Luv It, Def Jam
Yusef, An Other Cup, Universal/Polydor
Z-Ro, Still Living, Rap-A-Lot



Catch A Fire: Tangled Loyalties

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

Catch a Fire
(out of 4)
Starring Derek Luke, Tim Robbins and Bonnie Henna. Directed by Phillip Noyce. 98 minutes.
At major theatres. PG

(Oct. 27, 2006) The scene is South Africa in the 1980s, during the turbulent last years of official apartheid.  Government Security Branch Colonel Nic Vos (
Tim Robbins), charged with stopping the violence sweeping the land — deemed terrorism by the white-led government and freedom-fighting by the black-led African National Congress — is attempting to gain the trust of Patrick Chamusso (Derek Luke), an oil refinery worker Vos suspects of subterfuge.  Vos has invited Chamusso to join his family for a Sunday meal. Vos picks up a guitar and begins strumming and singing a folk anthem favoured by ANC sympathizers. He looks into Chamusso's unblinking eyes for signs of a reaction.  "Apartheid can't last," Vos says in Catch a Fire, a movie of layered intent based on historical fact.  "Twenty-five million blacks, 3 million white people. We're the ones under attack."  Is he sincere in this nod to destiny? Does he understand the anger of the oppressed black majority? Or is he simply trying to deceive Chamusso by feigning sympathy?  Chamusso's own motives are also tangled. He is proud of his job as a foreman at the Secunda Oil Refinery, which provides the money he needs to care for his beautiful wife Precious (Bonnie Henna) and their two daughters. He also coaches a children's soccer team. He doesn't want trouble.  Yet he is angered by taunts of "Uncle Tom" that are hurled at him by co-workers and relatives who are less eager to bow before their white bosses. He scolds his own mother for listening to ANC radio, a subversive act. And he has a secret from a past relationship that he struggles to keep Precious from knowing.

Radical change is coming. Chamusso is imprisoned for a crime of sabotage that he didn't commit. So is Precious. An enraged Chamusso can no longer accept the status quo. The ANC's violent fight for liberty begins to make sense to him. Can he continue to sit on the sidelines?  Questioning both sides of the story is familiar ground for director
Phillip Noyce, the Australian filmmaker who has recently examined his own country's blinkered racial policies (Rabbit-Proof Fence) and the folly of imperialism in Vietnam (The Quiet American).  Noyce's sympathies are clearly anti-apartheid, and so too are those of the actors. Yet they avoid the easy slogans and obvious characterizations that would make Catch a Fire seem like revisionist propaganda — or like yet another Hollywood allegory about current American foreign policies.  Most impressive of all is the restraint demonstrated by screenwriter Shawn Slovo, whose father is ANC leader Joe Slovo. It must have been hard for her to have sympathy for the devil, even if only for dramatic purposes.  Chamusso isn't a saint, just as Vos isn't a villainous caricature. Both men care about their country, and fear for the safety of their families. When one of Vos' daughters complains to her mother about how distracted dad is, she is quickly scolded: "People like your dad keep this country safe."  Luke, the title star of Antwone Fisher, and Hollywood veteran Robbins are impeccable casting choices. The eyes of both men flash emotion and hard-won wisdom that reveal the complexity of South African life, then as now.  The movie would have been even better with more scenes of the two actors together. Catch a Fire is really a story of tangled loyalties, rather than the political thriller it is being dubiously sold as.  The third-act shift into a more conventional narrative and a back-patting coda with the real Patrick Chamusso doesn't completely serve a movie that seeks to understand the complications of history. 

Delroy Lindo: The 'Wondrous Oblivion' Interview

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(October 31, 2006) *The son of Jamaican immigrants to England,
Delroy Lindo was born in London on November 18, 1952. He began acting at the age of five when appeared in a Nativity pageant. As a teenager, he moved with his mother to Toronto till they migrated to San Francisco where he would study acting at the American Conservatory Theater.  He made an unremarkable big screen debut in 1976 in Find the Lady, followed by a couple of other bit roles in Voice of the Fugitive and More American Graffiti before he abandoned Hollywood for Broadway where he earned a Tony nomination for his work in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. After ten years on the stage, he returned to cinema where he immediately blossomed, delivering memorable performances to critical acclaim in such flicks as The Cider House Rules, Malcolm X, Romeo Must Die, Get Shorty, Crooklyn, Clockers, Heist, Ransom, Domino and Lackawanna Blues. Here, he talks about his latest outing in Wondrous Oblivion, a cross-cultural drama, set in London in the Sixties, where he plays the patriarch of a Jamaican family which meets with resistance when it integrates a working-class white neighbourhood.

Kam Williams: Hey, Delroy, thanks so much for the time.

Delroy Lindo: Not a problem. Not a problem.

KW: I guess my first question is why did it take you so long to make a movie in your native England?

DL: I never got asked before. [chuckles] That’s the simple answer. Until relatively recently, a lot of people didn’t realize that I was from England.

KW: So how did you get this gig?

DL: To hear the director [Paul Morrison] tell it, it was kind of a fluke. He happened to be speaking with the casting director [Joan McCann] who I guess had seen my work in Malcolm X and knew that I had an authentic Jamaican accent. And then she happened to be looking on the web and saw that I was from England. I think that’s how it came about.

KW: You came to this country as a teenager, so I guess you have pretty deep roots both here and in Britain.

DL: Exactly, but in terms of my commercial career, for all intents and purposes, I have been identified as an African-American actor. And the bottom line is that’s where all my work has been. So, it doesn’t surprise me that that would be the case.

KW: What attracted you to Wondrous Oblivion?

DL: What interested me in this story, frankly, was the presence of the Caribbean family. As originally written, my family in the cast was written as Bajan, from Barbados. When the director sent me the script, I called him and said, “Look, it’s a charming, interesting story, but there are two things I have to talk you about. One is that I am of Jamaican extraction.

So, do you have an issue with making my character and his family Jamaican?

And secondly, to be really candid with you, while I think your story is wonderful, my interest is in exploring the presence of the Jamaican family.”

KW: Why was that?

DL: Because, although there may be some, I was not aware of virtually any feature films that dealt specifically with the Caribbean presence during that period of English history.

Talks Stall Between ACTRA, Producers

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Guy Dixon

(Oct. 28, 20060 When labour talks break down, the two sides often make public statements so different it can seem as though they are hardly talking about the same thing. That appeared to be the case with the stalled talks between the Canadian film producers' association and the actors' union, as negotiations to create a new collective agreement fell apart this week. The Canadian Film and Television Production Association (
CFTPA), along with the Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec, has argued that the agreement for independent productions, which expires Dec. 31, is suited to an era of expensive dramas. But the bread and butter for producers these days, CFTPA says, are increasingly lifestyle programs, reality-TV shows, and new-media productions. This situation requires a more standardized wage scale for all productions, whether they be short films, TV shows or videos made to be watched on cellphones or the Web. "The old labour structures just don't work in this new environment," said Ira Levy, chair of the CFTPA board of directors.

But the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (
ACTRA), while arguing dramas are actually having a resurgence in popularity, is much more focused on specific grievances. One of the main issues is concerned with the fact that ACTRA already accepts pay cuts for its members for some low-budget productions in order to encourage Canadian filmmaking. But it doesn't accept them for all productions, such as non-Canadian productions shot in Canada. ACTRA's national executive director and chief negotiator Stephen Waddell explained that the CFTPA wants to eliminate this distinction for certain Canadian productions and apply this pay scale to all small productions. A main concern is that the producers' proposal would mean a 25-per-cent pay cut for ACTRA members in all productions under $4-million, the union said. CFTPA's chief negotiator John Barrack countered that it costs too much for many reality-TV shows and very low-budget productions, particularly new-media shoots, to use ACTRA actors. "ACTRA came to us a year and a half ago with a study that said that 80 per cent of the work in the fact-based, lifestyle and reality genre was being done by non-union," Barrack said. "And they said, we've got to find a way to get [ACTRA] members working in this area. We're responding to that." The talks began in Toronto this week with a strong showing from ACTRA members. The three leads from The Trailer Park Boys were there, as were actors such as Gordon Pinsent. ACTRA has put in a request to Ontario's Ministry of Labour to have a mediator assigned to this dispute. (ACTRA has separate agreements with broadcasters, covered by federal legislation.) A settlement would be nationally binding, except in British Columbia, where there is another agreement in place, expiring early next year. The Ontario mediator, after being appointed in the coming days, could bring both sides back to the table. But as it stands, the next scheduled bargaining round is on Nov. 28 and 29, with talk that it could take place in Montreal.

Hollywood Drawn To Africa's Creative Heat

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - David Germain, Associated Press

(Oct. 28, 2006) Los Angeles—The title of the latest film out of Africa — Catch a Fire — might describe what's happening with cinema on the continent. 
African moviemaking is definitely hot. International filmmakers have found stories they want to tell there. Hollywood has taken an interest in serious films set in Africa.  Homegrown productions from Africa are starting to find an audience and acclaim worldwide, including last year's Tsotsi, a South African drama that was only the third film from the continent — and the first in nearly 30 years— to win the Academy Award for best foreign-language film.  Tsotsi arrived amid the critical and commercial success of such films as Hotel Rwanda and The Constant Gardener, African stories made by overseas filmmakers. Hotel Rwanda earned Oscar nominations for Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo, The Constant Gardener won the supporting-actress Oscar for Rachel Weisz, and other productions set in Africa have drawn major stars, such as Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche in John Boorman's In My Country.  "I think the world is turning its attention to Africa, post-colonial Africa. It's a great source of conflict, and conflict is what makes drama, and drama attracts storytellers and filmmakers," said Australian director Phillip Noyce, whose Catch a Fire, which opened yesterday, stars Derek Luke and Tim Robbins in the real-life story of a black family man who rebels against South Africa's apartheid regime in the 1980s. "Maybe these stories were always bubbling up under the surface. Suddenly, the success of one film allowed those with the power to greenlight films to say yes with some confidence.''  The Last King of Scotland, which debuted last month, has also caught Oscar buzz for Forest Whitaker, who plays Idi Amin in a fictionalized story of the Ugandan dictator's dark relationship with a Scottish doctor who becomes his personal physician.

The size and mystery of Africa can lend itself to heroic struggles, such as those of anti-apartheid crusaders Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko, Whitaker said.  "There is a deep, archetypal, mythical quality sometimes to the stories," Whitaker said. "When you think about Mandela, Biko, they become like some mythic parable somebody would tell or write in some book that children would read a thousand years from now.''  Babel, which also opened yesterday, stars an ensemble cast including Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. It's a multinational drama ranging from Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico and Japan, following several families linked by a tragedy in the African desert.  Blood Diamond, debuting in December, dramatizes the civil war and bloody gem trade in 1990s Sierra Leone, following a mercenary (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) and a journalist (Jennifer Connelly) on a quest to recover a rare pink diamond.  Coming early next year is Days of Glory, Algeria's entry for the foreign-language Oscar, a World War II saga about North African soldiers who fought to liberate France from the Nazis. The ensemble cast shared the best-actor prize at last spring's Cannes Film Festival.  In a post-Sept. 11 world, U.S. audiences may have become more interested in dramas outside their borders. "American culture certainly has been insular and so has American political life been insular," said Blood Diamond director Ed Zwick. "But I think there has always been an appetite for these stories ... Real places that are exotic and different.''

"Africa has been under-represented in our literature and our storytelling generally," said Kevin Macdonald, director of The Last King of Scotland. "So filmmakers cast around. Should I make another film in New York? It'll be the 10,000th film to shoot in New York. Or should I go somewhere else that hasn't been filmed? Where it's literally a different landscape, different people, different kinds of stories?''  Hollywood films about Africa historically have focused on the experience of whites there, reflecting centuries of colonial influence and the exploits of adventurers on the continent.  Robert Redford and Meryl Streep's Out of Africa, the 1985 best-picture winner at the Oscars, was a sweeping romance about the early life of author Isak Dinesen. Clint Eastwood's White Hunter, Black Heart followed an obsessive filmmaker inspired by John Huston while shooting his classic The African QueenCry Freedom presented the story of black South African activist Steve Biko (Denzel Washington), but he was a secondary character to a white journalist (Kevin Kline) he befriended.  Africa's two recent Oscar successes showed that films with black protagonists could connect with audiences elsewhere. Hotel Rwanda was based on the true story of a hotel manager who sheltered refugees from the 1994 genocide, while Tsotsi was adapted from Athol Fugard's novel about a young South African hoodlum who discovers his humanity.  "The real test is going to be, Tsotsi aside, will audiences around the world go for African films by African filmmakers, about Africans and starring African actors?'' wonders Catch a Fire director Noyce. "And I think the answer is yes. In South Africa, there are a number of black South African directors who are on the verge of making their breakout films. There's just such a talent pool there.  "Those outsiders who have come in and paved the way by making African stories and taking them to the world will have opened the floodgates for the truly indigenous productions.''

Sacha Baron Cohen: The Borat Interview

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(November 1, 2006) *
Sacha Baron Cohen was born in London on October 13, 1971, and attended the exclusive Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys School. He majored in history at Christ’s College in Cambridge where he wrote his thesis on Jewish involvement with America’s Civil Rights Movement. He was planning to pursue a Ph.D. when he opted to take a shot at comedy.  Cohen became a hit on British TV in 2000, courtesy of Da Ali G Show, and was introduced to the U.S. when the series was picked up by HBO a few years later.  He plays a trio of colourful characters on the program: Ali G, a jive Jamaican; Bruno, a flamboyant fashion reporter; and Borat Sagdiyev, a naïve, anti-Semitic TV reporter from Kazakhstan. Here, ever in character as Borat, he fields questions about his new movie of the same name.

Kam Williams: Is Sacha Baron Cohen here today?

Borat Sagdiyev: I have no connection with Mr. Cohen, and I fully support my government’s decision to sue this Jew.

KW: Tell me a little about yourself.

BS: My name is Borat Sagdiyev, I am the son of and Asimbala Sagdiyev and Boltok the Rapist. I am the former husband of Oksana Sagdiyev, who was daughter of Marianne Tuliakbi and Boltok the Rapist. My hobbies is disco dance, table tennis, and also taking photographs of ladies doing toilet without their knowledge. Why not, they do not know?

KW: Tell me about your family.

BS: I have three children, Bilak, Biram, and Huey Lewis, who is 12 years-old. He has two children. Biram, who is 13, has American pen-friend, called Mr. Foley. All the time, “Come visit me. I come visit you. We meet in hotel room.” My sister make my family very proud by being number four prostitute in all of Kazakhstan. She recently won award from Kazakh minister of industry for best sex in mouth. I also have a brother named Bilo. He is a retard with a small head, but very strong arms.

KW: you didn’t mention a wife. Are you married?

BS:  My first wife is dead? High-five!

KW: How did she die?

BS: I did not kill her. She was shoot by a hunter who mistake her for a bear, because she have much hair on her arms and back. No problem, I have a new wife, but I like cheat.

KW: You recently traveled to Washington, DC and visited the White House. What is your opinion of President Bush?

BS: Well, Kazakhstan very much admires your might warlord, George Walter Bush. He is a very wise man, and a very strong man, but perhaps not as strong as his father, Barbara.

KW: How does America’s political system compare to Kazakhstan’s?

BS: There are small differences between our system of politic. In Kazakh elections, for example, the winner is not the man with the most votes, but the candidate who can carry a woman against her will for the furthest distance. Our present leader can manage 4.3 miles. How long can Premier Bush?

KW: Who knows?

BS:  There are other differences, too. In America, a woman can vote, but a horse cannot. That is unusual.

KW: Did you enjoy the time you spent filming in America?

BS: I would like say that I like US and A very much, enjoy your peoples, and enjoy your delicious foods. First day I here, I go to a restaurant named McDonald’s which is so fancy-pants, it actually have separate room for making toilet in. There I eat 17 hamburgers and 600 packets of red soup called ketchups. These did not agree so much with my stomach, and the next day my anus was hung loose like the mouth of a tired dog.

For full interview by Kam Williams – go

Will Smith’s ‘Happyness’ Fills Windy City

Excerpt from

(October 30, 2006) *Will Smith taped a segment of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” Thursday to promote his upcoming film “The Pursuit of Happyness,” which also had a special Chicago premiere last week at the AMC River East Theatres. The red carpet event was also attended by Chris Gardner, the man he portrays in the film opening nationwide on Dec. 15. Gardner was a homeless, single father in San Francisco who became a multi-millionaire and owner of his own investment firm.  When Gardner first heard that Smith would play him on the big screen, he admittedly had some reservations. "Honestly, the first thing that went through my mind was, 'I love Will -- I always have. I love his music, his movies, his TV shows,' but I thought Will had never done anything like this,” Gardner told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It was my daughter who broke it down for me. She said, 'Pop, if he can play Muhammad Ali, he can play you!' And you know what? Will Smith played Chris Gardner better than Chris Gardner!"  The younger Gardner, Christopher -- now in his mid-20s and pursuing a career on the business side of the music industry in California – is being played in the film by Smith’s own son, Jaden. Smith said he gained a different perspective on his son’s talent during his visit to Oprah, when she made a comment about Jaden that "shocked me as I was sitting there,” Smith recalls. “She said it was the best performance by a young actor that she had seen since Tatum O'Neal in 'Paper Moon.'

"I went, 'Whoa! . . . That's my son, and I made the movie so I didn't look at it along those lines. Then I was watching the clips [at "Oprah"] and realized he really is amazing. As much as I'd like to take some credit for it, I can't. He's a natural; something he was blessed with that's beyond me."  Smith, meanwhile, is already looking forward to a dream role he’d like to play in the near future – a biopic of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. “But of course,” Smith said, “he has to [first] write the third act in a couple of years.”  Clearly meaning that "third act" would be a run for the White House, Smith added, "There's absolutely going to be a third act and I believe [Obama] is going to be the hero."

Sex And The Single Senior

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(Nov. 1, 2006) Nothing irks the New York director
Susan Seidelman more than Hollywood's insistence on portraying the over-50 crowd as a bunch of doddering ninnies sporting dentures and Depends, with no interest in sex -- and even less sex appeal. So when her 75-year-old mother began recounting stories of the hilarious romantic exploits of her fellow seniors at a retirement community in South Florida, the gutsy filmmaker decided to make an ensemble film about the so-called elderly with hyperactive libidos, pot in their closets, the odd hooker in their beds, and a second shot at finding passionate love in the twilight years. "After talking to my mom, it was like a light bulb went off," remembers Seidelman, who was in Toronto last week to promote her movie, Boynton Beach Club, which opens in Canada on Friday. "How come no one is acknowledging the fact that the baby-boomer generation is now hitting 60? Old isn't what it used to be, and yet the movies aren't reflecting that," fumes the 53-year-old Seidelman, who is best known for directing Desperately Seeking Susan as well as the pilot for Sex and the City. "You look at most Hollywood movies and it's like after 40, a person suddenly becomes asexual. I don't think that at 40, 50 or 60, a tap goes off and you become a different person. There's an audience out there that has been under-acknowledged."

At first, American studios and distributors wouldn't touch her film with a 10-foot pole. "As soon as I said I'd like to do a story about romance and dating among people over 60 -- it was like I'd said I want to make a romantic comedy set in a leper colony," she laughs. "Their jaws collectively dropped, and they told me they don't believe an older audience goes to the movies." It was clear that alternative financing would be her only option. Together with her mother and two female friends who worked on Wall Street, she cobbled together a couple million dollars to make Boynton Beach Club. "There was a lot of deferred payments and step payments to making this movie," Seidelman adds. But even when it was completed -- and sold out at the Nantucket Film Festival last fall -- no distributor came calling. So Seidelman and her mom, Florence, decided to test-market their film -- which mom, daughter and a friend co-wrote -- in 10 theatres last March in West Palm Beach, Fla. On its opening weekend, Boynton Beach Club generated $103,000 (U.S.) in box-office receipts. "That was a $10,000-per-screen average," Seidelman says, "which is pretty good, even for Hollywood movies. And we did it with no TV ads or any trailers. It was purely word of mouth." Finally, that got the attention of Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Co., which started rolling the movie out in select markets in the United States at the end of the summer. To date, Boynton Beach Club has generated about $3-million, not bad for an independent film about love and lust after 65. Sometimes corny, touching and hilarious, Boynton Beach Club throws back the flannel covers on a retirement community whose members meet and gel at weekly bereavement-club meetings for those who have lost their long-term mates. It stars Joseph Bologna, Len Cariou, Sally Kellerman, Michael Nouri, Brenda Vaccaro and Dyan Cannon, who is still a sexpot at almost 70. (Cannon is so tiny and taut, in one rollerblading scene the director admits they had to use a 15-year-old stunt double to replicate Cannon's ageless bod.)

Seidelman says her cast -- many who were stars in their youth and now relegated to playing bit parts as parents and grandparents -- were thrilled to have lead roles that portray them as multidimensional, complicated and sensual people with the same appetites as the rest of us. Hollywood is hard on aging men and women, Seidelman says, adding the movie industry virtually ignores seniors and focuses all its attention on the 18-to-35-year-old crowd who can generate box-office gold. But women get an even rougher ride than men, the director says, pointing to the now second-tier careers of award-winning actresses such as Michelle Pfeiffer and Kim Basinger. The one exception, she notes, is Meryl Streep. "Why is it that great French beauties like Catherine Deneuve or Simone Signoret were able to age gracefully and still be leading ladies in their 60s?" Seidelman muses. "Whereas in America, there's a kind of cut-off at 40 or 45, where leading ladies disappear for a while or become invisible -- only to reappear 10 years later as a character actress or a leading lady's mother or grandmother?" Seidelman says Boynton Beach Club is really about how, at various stages of our life, we can continue to reinvent ourselves. "Getting older isn't just about closing doors. Some new ones can open too." Case in point, she says, her mother is now a producer and screenwriter at the age of 75. "And it's not just a token role. As we speak, she's probably on the phone talking to press in Florida." Older people who saw this film have thanked Seidelman for "putting characters up on film that we could relate to." The younger people who have seen it say it has enabled them to look at their parents and grandparents in a new, more respectful light. "The experience of dating is universal, no matter what age. But we all seem to sort of think of the [elderly] as different creatures who don't think the same way we do." Seidelman, who has been married for 20 years and has a 16-year-old son, says she gets the same double standard from her child. "Sometimes he'll say stuff, and I can see that look on his face that says, 'Mom you don't get it.' And I want to say to him, 'I do get it. And I remember that look on your face because that's exactly the look that was on my face when I had the same conversation with my mother.' " When she started out making TV and feature films almost 25 years ago -- fresh out of New York University film school -- she was part of the hip, young crowd who was making waves in the industry. (Seidelman's first film was a punk rock movie called Smithereens.) Now, she goes on set, and the crew calls her Mrs. Seidelman. "I turn around thinking they must be talking to my mom. "Life goes fast," the filmmaker says with a smirk. "But I'm just glad I'm still hanging in there."


Obituary: Arthur Hill, 84

Source: Associated Press

(Oct. 27, 2006) LOS ANGELES — Canadian-born actor Arthur Hill, whose dozens of television and movie appearances included the title role in the series Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, has died. He was 84. Hill died Sunday at a Pacific Palisades care facility after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, his friend Walter Seltzer said Thursday. Hill, who hadn't worked in the motion picture or television business since 1990, was a well-known face on TV, appearing on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Defenders, Ben Casey, The Untouchables, The Nurses, The FBI, Mission: Impossible, The Fugitive and Marcus Welby, M.D. He was the star of Owen Marshall from 1971 to 1974. Hill also appeared in the films Harper, The Ugly American, The Andromeda Strain and A Bridge Too Far. Born Aug. 1, 1922, in Melfort, Sask., Hill served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and attended the University of British Columbia, where he studied law but was lured to the stage. He moved in 1948 to Britain, where he performed in a variety of stage productions, then he moved to New York 10 years later and established himself on Broadway. Hill made his Broadway debut opposite Ruth Gordon in The Matchmaker, then went on to star in such stage hits as Look Homeward Angel. The actor won Tony and New York Drama Critics awards for his role as George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1962. Hill is survived by his wife Anne-Sophie Taraba, son Douglas, stepdaughter Daryn Sherman and two sisters, Pat and Eunice of Winnipeg.

Jackson Gets ‘Cleaner’

Excerpt from

(October 30, 2006)  *
Samuel L. Jackson has been cast as the lead in “The Cleaner,” reports Production Weekly. In the thriller, the actor stars as an extremely hygienic man who uses this urge in his professional life as a crime scene cleaner. When he somehow becomes involved in a job he later finds out was a covered up murder, he gets tied in to a web of deception that unearths his own family’s long buried pain and secrets. Principal photography gets underway in January around Shreveport, Louisiana.

Mekhi Phifer And Eve Get ‘Ego’ Stroked

Excerpt from

(October 31, 2006)  *Actor
Mekhi Phifer and rapper/actress Eve have been cast in the film “Ego,” a revenge drama starring Vincent Laresca as a cop seeking revenge on a newly-paroled ex-con (Phifer) who killed his father.     Phifer’s character is repeatedly humiliated by the cop until his tragic death, and the cop must live with the emotional consequences of his revenge. Fifteen years later, the cop’s highly decorated police career is brought into question and he must confront his partner who he suspects as being dirty.    Writer/director Antonio Macia begins production on the film next month in Connecticut, reports Production Weekly.    In the meantime, Phifer can be seen Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on the long-running NBC medical drama “ER” as Dr. Gregory Pratt.



Toronto's Jay Manuel To Take On Hosting Duties At 'Canada's Next Top Model'

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - By Victoria Ahearn

(Oct. 31, 2006) TORONTO (CP) - Before the high fashion photo shoots and late-night gossip sessions with supermodel Tyra Banks,
Jay Manuel, the new host of "Canada's Next Top Model," was striking a pose in the hallways/runways of a local high school.  "I ran the fashion show club and we actually did the best kind of fashion shows at the time," Manuel proudly recalls of his days at Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute, in the east Toronto suburb of Scarborough.  "You know how all the high schools do them but they're just kind of rinky-dink? Well, ours was actually broadcast on Scarborough cable and the proceeds benefited the (Toronto) Hospital for Sick Children."  Manuel, a platinum-haired photographer and makeup artist to the stars, is already well known to TV viewers as the strict photo shoot director on "America's Next Top Model," the Banks-hosted reality show that features aspiring models competing for a contract.  On Tuesday, it was announced that the Toronto native will host Season 2 of the Canuck version, "Canada's Next Top Model."  Manuel, 34, said he'll still be part of the U.S. show, which he also produces. He'll also be one of the executive producers of the Canadian series.

"I really wanted to kind of raise the production quality of the show," said Manuel, who was born in Springfield, Illinois but moved to Toronto when he was two. He now lives in New York while his parents live in Thornhill, Ont.  Canadian model-turned-actor Tricia Helfer hosted Season 1 of "Canada's Next Top Model," but left to focus on her role on TV's "Battlestar Galactica," said Manuel.  "Top Model" creators approached him for the Canadian show because they wanted to bring a "natural synergy" between the two versions on both sides of the border, said Manuel.  "If you look at Canada, it's such an international melting pot," he said over the phone. "And one of the focuses was, 'Let's bring this international flair to 'Canada's Next Top Model' and really build that whole brand here in Canada."  Manuel has been described as having a sharp tongue, but insisted he does bond with the model hopefuls on the show, and he has no qualms about hosting model pyjama parties as Banks does on her show.  "I can't even tell you how many times even Tyra and I have sat up during the night talking about things that are bothering us where we're crying and what have you," he said. "I've had so many moments just on the American show with different girls."  FT-FashionTelevision host Jeanne Beker will return as one of the judges of "Canada's Next Top Model," said Manuel.  Producers opened the show up to contestants Tuesday morning and applications are available for download on the Citytv website.  Andrea Muizelaar, 19, of Whitby, Ont., won the show's first season.  Season 2 of "Canada's Next Top Model" is set to air in the spring.

Dina Fits Like A Slipper On Breakfast Television

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(Oct. 29, 2006) I am not a morning person.  At the same time, the older I get, the less inclined I am to stay up late at night. So there's a period of about an hour and a half in mid-afternoon when I am basically good to go. The rest is a semi-conscious blur.  I am nonetheless familiar with Citytv's
Breakfast Television — a 15-year phenomenon that is now the most-watched morning show in this market. I am told that one of every three TV sets running in that time slot is tuned in to Breakfast Television.  If my TV set is on in the morning, it's because I fell asleep with it the night before.  But then, this isn't about me. It's about Dina Pugliese, the brand new co-host of Breakfast Television, replacing new mom Liza Fromer as sidekick to suspendered nice guy and 14-year BT veteran, Kevin Frankish.  Which means she gets to interview guests like me — as well as, for this article, vice versa. This past week we somehow managed to do both, simultaneously, live on the air, during the latter part (fortunately for me) of Wednesday's 6 to 9 a.m. broadcast.  Over the course of the show's last hour and a half, I watch Pugliese clown through a cooking segment, exploring every comic possibility of the phrase "wild boar," charmingly cheat her way though a shopping-bag stuffing competition with the national champ, then leap fearlessly and enthusiastically into the middle of a hip-hop dance routine.  I think I am in love (sorry boys, she's married).

Of course, the first thing that strikes you about Pugliese, even at such an ungodly hour — especially at this ungodly hour — is that the woman is absolutely, flawlessly stunning. An entirely superficial observation, but then I am a man, and a barely conscious one at that.  I sputter out something vaguely complimentary along these lines a few moments into our on-air encounter.  "That's easy," Pugliese demurs. "All you need is an army of hair and makeup people. They come in, they do their thing — all it takes is about three hours."  Hmm. Gorgeous and self-effacing. And funny. And fast. I'm going to have to watch this one ...  I knew going in that Pugliese was not just a pretty face. Born and raised in Woodbridge, a graduate of York (sociology, mass communications) and Humber (broadcast journalism), she started out as an associate producer on Global's Bynon Show, went on-air as an entertainment reporter on the short-lived Toronto 1's morning show, Toronto Today, and then co-hosted its night-time entertainment show, The A-List.  She made the jump to CHUM a year ago, to co-host Star! Daily — which she continues to do, every morning after BT — and also earned a Gemini nomination for her hosting duties on the otherwise ludicrously over-produced (though she could hardly be held responsible) VJ Search: The Series.  Her previous experience in morning broadcasting aside, the BT gig represents a major change in lifestyle — you can't be doing the red carpet all night and expect to be awake for that 7:15 a.m. cooking segment.  Unless you are Dina Pugliese (or Ryan Seacrest, but given the choice ... ).  "Seven o'clock is bedtime now," Pugliese acknowledges. "I get up at 4. But I'm working on that. Hopefully, I won't always need quite as much sleep.  "But they've been very kind. Because I also co-host Star! Daily, I arrive at the station at 6 a.m. and I don't actually have to start until 7."  Which makes it possible for her to be on television, if not to actually watch it.  "I'm missing all my favourite shows," she sighs. "(Digital recording) is now my best friend. And movies? Strictly for Saturday night."  A small enough price to pay, she insists.  "You're going to think this is hokey, but it really is such a thrill and an honour to be invited into people's homes every morning. I mean, I grew up watching BT ... (and somewhere, off in the newsroom, Kevin Frankish winces).

"To get up at this time of the day, you really have to love it."  And clearly, it is loving her back. The day it was announced that guest contributor Pugliese was being bumped up to permanent co-host, the City newsroom was deluged with thousands of well-wishing emails.  "People have been very kind, and very supportive," she marvels. "It was pretty much instantaneous, right from when I was just filling in for those first four days ... at the grocery store, the local mall, calls and emails from friends from university ...  "Which is great, because I have huge shoes to fill. I mean, this is a huge, huge show, with a great fan base of very loyal viewers. So it was really heartwarming to be welcomed with such open arms."  And that goes for the internal BT family as well — co-host Frankish is an avid fan. And the admiration is mutual.  "It was a bit surreal, at first, sitting in that chair next to Kevin Frankish ... Kevin Frankish, who I have been watching as long as I can remember ..."  That wince I had earlier assumed is now in plain sight. "Why," he sighs with mock exasperation, "do you have make it seem like you were so young?"  "I was a zygote in my mother's womb," Pugilese gamely counters.  "We had this instant chemistry," she says. "We really hit it off — from day one, we just clicked immediately. It was such a natural fit, and a natural evolution for both of us."  "It is an evolution," Frankish agrees, as the three of us sit down for a post-show post mortem.  "You go from (original host) Ann Rohmer, who is incredible, to Liza Fromer, who is incredible in a different way, and now to Dina, who is incredible in yet a different way ...  "Breakfast Television has been waiting for Dina for 15 years," he gushes. "Honestly. The show was made for her, and it's evolved into something that she can just step into, and become one of the caretakers of."  "It feels like home," Pugilese affirms.  "You are home," confirms Frankish.

Introducing Actor Coby Bell

Source: The Robertson Treatment ( America ’s Premiere Lifestyle Column) Volume 9, Edition 13, By Gil Robertson

(October 26, 2006) *Coby Bell is one lucky guy. He’s a member of a select breed of actors who work all the time but have been saved from the lasso of celebrity. After 6 years playing Officer Tyrone Davis Jr., on the long-running NBC show “Third Watch,” Bell can still visit a 7-11 during at rush hour and have no worries. Not any longer… As one of the stars of the popular new CW show “The Game,” Bell is destined for stardom. Playing football jock Jason Pitts, the California native may soon have to wear dark glasses the next time he ventures out. The Robertson Treatment recently caught up with the personable actor and new dad to talk about his career and journey in Hollywood.

Robertson Treatment: Jason Pitts is the character you play on the show, and he’s described as the ‘cheapest man on earth,’ Is he really?

Coby Bell: [laughs] Pretty much. He is a superstar wide receiver. A kinda of Jerry Rice sort, Heisman Trophy, rookie of the year, super bowl – the whole thing. So he’s filthy, stinking rich, but he is just a cheap, cheap bastard, and he has no shame in the fact that he is cheap. That is what I find hilarious about playing him, he is so much fun. He has this irreverence and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him and I think that is such a beautiful thing.

RT: Do you share any similarities with him and was it hard for you to get into character at all?

CB: It was not hard at all. [laughs ] I don’t think I am cheap in the same way, but I don’t waste my money on material things. I am not a car guy. I am not a jewelry guy so it wasn’t hard to get into the character at all. This is my third TV series and I drive a Honda Civic so I am just putting that in perspective for you.

RT: So you started acting at age 3, what are your earliest memories of being on stage/screen?

CB: I have always enjoyed entertaining people. Whilst I was in kindergarten I was baby bear – [Goldilocks and Three Bears] and I got a feel for it for baby bear got all the laughs. I did school plays growing up, but I kinda got out of it at high school thinking I was too cool and I did basketball and when I got into it at college, one of my professors said ‘you really need to do this and dedicate yourself and she started to put me in all the plays and I never looked back. I did play after play after play and I graduated college -- I graduated in May and in July I was on the set of “ER” and I am like what the hell am I doing here. My first day of doing anything on television was on “ER” and I played basketball with George Clooney and I was like this is cool this must be how it is. It was pretty cool and he was pretty cool and he set an example for how to conduct yourself in the business.

For the full interview, see Gil Roberson’s article HERE.

Navel Gazing Costs Smug Studio 60

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Rob Salem

(Oct. 31, 2006) Dead ... from Los Angeles ... it's not Saturday Night!  The writing is apparently on the wall (as opposed to where it should have been, on the page) for Aaron Sorkin's SNL homage,
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which has been steadily haemorrhaging viewership since its debut on NBC, losing roughly half the audience of its cult hit network lead-in, Heroes, and running a good 10 million viewers behind its primary time-slot competition, CSI: Miami.  Reportedly, even members of the cast are now confiding to friends that the end is near.  The network, for its part, has sent out mixed signals, announcing an additional order for three more Studio 60 scripts, and then bumping it off the air last night to give the similarly ratings-challenged, yet critically embraced, Friday Night Lights a shot at its possibly soon-to-be-vacated time slot.  What went wrong? On paper, anyway, this one was a slam-dunk. Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme, the TV geniuses behind Sports Night, Larry Sanders and The West Wing, taking us backstage to witness the high drama and low comedy of grinding out a successful weekly live late-night sketch show.  Based on reputation alone, and with an A-list cast of ex-Wingers (Bradley Whitford, Timothy Busfield) and others (Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Steven Weber, Sarah Paulson), Studio 60 was the one to beat going into the network upfronts this summer.  But then something rather startling happened: the advertisers and affiliates hated it. Which pretty much confirmed the general perception that middle America won't watch "inside showbiz" shows about privileged, self-involved characters they can't relate to or emotionally invest in (that is, unless you count "resent").

"I'm not concerned that the show can be `inside,'" Sorkin reassured critics. "The lingo of it, what goes on ... I'll make sure that anything the audience needs to understand, they will. And anything they don't understand, they'll understand that these characters know what they're talking about in the same way you'd do a medical drama or a legal drama or a cop show or a White House show."  And therein may lay his failure. The dismissive smugness, the ego-driven self-importance — characters very transparently based on aspects of Sorkin's life and persona, sombrely kvetching and angsting and over-emoting, as though they were actually fighting world hunger as opposed to just trying to get a laugh.  It's as if Sorkin had somehow in his own mind got Sports Night and The West Wing all mixed up and inextricably interwoven with his own infamous history. Watching Studio 60 has become like watching someone else's breakdown — from the inside. No wonder people are tuning out in droves.  I can hear all the way from New York the echo of Lorne Michaels's "Dr. Evil" laugh, right down to the extended pinky poised at the corner of the mouth.  It was generally believed (though since vehemently denied) that the Toronto-born SNL creator's 30 Rock sitcom, written by and starring ex-SNL head writer Tina Fey, was the network's make-good apology for having green-lit Studio 60.  Of the two, 30 Rock was considered the underdog and was extensively retooled post-pilot, building up Alec Baldwin's role as a stuffed-shirt studio exec and swapping out Rachel Dratch for Jane Krakowski.

But 30 Rock, at least comparatively, is doing okay, prompting this week's move to an all-sitcom Thursday on NBC, where it will be preceded by My Name is Earl, The Office and Scrubs. Unfortunately, this also places it directly in the crossfire between the warring TV titans, CSI and Grey's Anatomy.  And that only leaves the real SNL, pared down considerably in the wake of budget cuts and still struggling to recapture past glory with a largely young and anonymous cast. Not coincidentally, next Saturday's show will be a "best of" compilation featuring deadpan impressionist Darrell Hammond, a veteran of some 11 years, longer than anyone except Michaels himself.  To further confuse things, Alec Baldwin will host SNL the following week (Nov. 11), his 13th time, placing him one ahead of John Goodman and one behind Steve Martin (who, to be fair, did have something of a head start).  Goodman, meanwhile, is the designated guest star of next week's scheduled Studio 60, the first of two parts. That is, assuming it lasts that long.

Time Is Right For Barker To Step Down

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Sandy Cohen, Associated Press

(Nov. 1, 2006) LOS ANGELES —
Bob Barker is heading toward his last showcase, his final "Come on down.''  The silver-haired daytime-TV icon is retiring in June, he told The Associated Press Tuesday.  "I will be 83 years old on December 12," he said, "and I've decided to retire while I'm still young.''  He'll hang up his microphone after 35 years as the host of "The Price Is Right" and 50 years overall in television.  Though he has been considering retirement for "at least 10 years," Barker said he has so much fun doing the show that he hasn't been able to leave.  "I've gone on and on and on to this ancient age because I've enjoyed it," he said. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm going to miss it.''  Reaching dual milestones, 50 years on television and 35 with ``Price," made this an "appropriate" time to retire, Barker said. Besides, hosting the daily CBS program — in which contestants chosen from the crowd "come on down" to compete for "showcases'' that include trips, appliances and new cars — is "demanding physically and mentally," he said.  "I'm just reaching the age where the constant effort to be there and do the show physically is a lot for me," he said. "I might be able to do the show another year, but better (to leave) a year too soon than a year too late.''  Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, said Barker has left an enduring mark on the network, calling his contribution and loyalty "immeasurable.''  "We knew this day would come, but that doesn't make it any easier," Moonves said in a statement. "Bob Barker is a daytime legend, an entertainment icon and one of the most beloved television personalities of our time.''  Barker began his national television career in 1956 as the host of "Truth or Consequences." He first appeared on "Price" on Sept. 4, 1972 and has been the face of the show ever since.  A CBS prime-time special celebrating the show's longevity and Barker's five decades on TV was already under way, a network spokesman said.

To kick off his retirement, Barker said he will "sit down for maybe a couple of weeks and find out what it feels like to be bored." Then he plans to spend time working with animal-rights causes, including his own DJ&T Foundation, founded in memory of his late wife, Dorothy Jo, and mother, Matilda.  He said he'd take on a movie role if the right one came along, but filmmakers, take note: "I refuse to do nude scenes. These Hollywood producers want to capitalize on my obvious sexuality, but I don't want to be just another beautiful body.''  Fremantle Media, which owns "Price," has been looking for Barker's replacement for "two or three years," Barker said. And he has some advice for whoever takes the job: learn the show's 80 games backwards and forward.  "The games have to be just like riding a bicycle," Barker said. "Then he will be relaxed enough to have fun with the audience, to get the laughs with his contestants and make the show more than just straight games, to make it a lot of fun.''  As for his fans, Barker said he "doesn't have the words" to express his gratitude.  "From the bottom of my heart, I thank the television viewers, because they have made it possible for me to earn a living for 50 years doing something that I thoroughly enjoy. They have invited me into their homes daily for a half a century.''  But when it comes to saying his final TV goodbye, Barker said he'll do it the same way he does each day on "Price'': "Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.''


Eva Pigford To Host ‘Model’ Series For Bet J

Excerpt from

(October 27, 2006) *A launch party was held this week for a new fashion-based reality show hosted by “America’s Next Top Model” winner, Eva Pigford, called “My Model Looks Better Than Your Model.” Premiering Nov. 1 at 10 p.m. EST on BET-J, the series features three contestants who are assigned a weekly fashion theme to be executed on professional models using their own personal styles. The contestants also receive tips on clothing, makeup and hair from fashion industry professionals, and will get to direct a photo shoot with professional photographer Garfield Hall. A panel of judges will analyze the final product.  Judges include photographer Ezequiel De La Rosa, Trace fashion editor Daphane Devallie, former Vibe fashion editor-at-large Beverly Smith, stylists Alexander Allen, Phillip Bloch and Misa Hylton-Brimm, former beauty editor for Suede and Honey Mia Stokes, and best-selling author Lloyd Boston.

Barenaked Robertson Trades Music For Day Jobs

Source: Canadian Press

(Oct. 30, 2006) Toronto — He's known as the wisecracking bandleader of the Barenaked Ladies, but in a new television show debuting this week,
Ed Robertson tries his hand at a series of decidedly different jobs. In an upcoming episode of Ed's Up, Robertson is thrown around a football field like a rag doll while practising with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In another, he wheezes through a day at a steel mill. Each task begins with Robertson, an avid pilot, receiving a set of co-ordinates directing him to an unknown Canadian destination. Once he lands his Cessna, he's assigned a hard-slogging blue-collar job typical to the region. Although he leads a rock star life, Robertson says his family is full of blue-collar workers. His dad was a foreman at Honeywell and his grandfather was a farmer in Coldwater, Ont. CP

Blair Underwood Gets ‘Treatment’ From HBO

Excerpt from

(October 31, 2006)  *Three years after guest-starring o HBO’s “Sex in the City,”
Blair Underwood returns to the cable channel in a new half-hour drama series called “In Treatment.”   Based on the popular and critically acclaimed Israeli series, the show centers on Paul (Gabriel Byrne), a therapist who is calm, smooth, insightful and non-confrontational with his patients but becomes a testy self-doubting man full of barely concealed anger when he is a patient seeing his own shrink.  Underwood will play one of Paul's patients, a fighter pilot who suffers the effects of a botched raid he was involved in years before that killed not only he three perpetrators but three underage hostages.  Melissa George (“Alias”) co-stars as another patient, a resident in anesthesia at John Hopkins Hospital who is infatuated with the older, married Paul.  Oscar winner Dianne Wiest also stars as Paul's former supervisor and mentor who he goes to see for a therapy session eight years after dropping her.

Gabrielle Union Inks Six-Figure TV Deal

Excerpt from

(November 1, 2006) *
Gabrielle Union, last seen on the small screen in ABC’s short-lived “Night Stalker,” has signed a mid-six-figure casting and development deal with ABC and Touchstone to take another stab at television. According to Variety, the deal calls for the network and studio to seek out and develop new starring vehicles for Union.  The actress is already meeting with writers to find a project, the trade reports. If Union isn’t feeling any of those projects, she’ll be available to star in one of the network’s pilots, reports Variety.  In addition to “Night Stalker,” Union's TV credits include the HBO telepic "Something the Lord Made" and the CBS drama "City of Angels." She has also guest starred on "The West Wing," "Friends," "ER" and "7th Heaven." She most recently voiced a character on "Family Guy."  On February 14th, Union arrives in theatres as the star of Tyler Perry’s new film “Daddy’s Little Girls.”



Getting A Kick Out Of T.O.

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Oct. 26, 2006) From the sounds of it, the
Radio City Rockettes are as happy to be bringing their famous act to Toronto as the city is to host them.  The company is sending 18 of its loveliest, leggiest ladies north of the border for the first time ever, for performances from Nov. 14 to Dec. 31 at the Hummingbird Centre. It's one of four touring productions of the Rockettes' traditional Christmas show this season.  General manager Jeff Capitola says when returning Rockettes were polled as to which cities they would like to play in, there were far more dancers willing to come to Toronto than space allowed.  "I couldn't be happier to bring a show into town. It's such a wonderful, wonderful city," says Capitola, a former stage performer who played the Hummingbird back when it was called the O'Keefe Centre.  Capitola notes that sending the troupe, along with sets and other ensemble performers, on the road to cities like Toronto is a far more complex affair than people imagine.  "The challenge that we are always faced with is we need an awful lot of time in a theatre. We need a long, healthy performance run, we need ample tech time on the front end and with busy venues ... we have to think three or four years in advance to secure the space," he says.  Lining up local ballet companies and musicians is another critical component in the show's success, he adds.  "We've done as many as six productions in a season. Believe me, four is far more manageable from where I'm sitting."

Typically, more than 1,000 women audition annually for the Rockettes to fill 80 positions in the New York City show — which has two separate casts — as well as the touring companies. They must all be proficient in tap, jazz and ballet and be between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-10 1/2 in height.  "We'll do some of the old standards such as the `Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,'" says Capitola. "In addition, the Rockettes perform a 7 1/2-minute tap number to the `Twelve Days of Christmas,' which in many cities has brought the audience to their feet."  There's also a popular Santa's workshop number in which the dancers play rag dolls.  "It's a great deal of fun. It's fascinating as a production team member to watch the audience reaction, particularly the children. It is so bright and colourful, and when Santa first appears it's pretty exciting," he says.  The Rockettes will do a number of public events in Toronto to promote the show.  On Nov. 9, they're asking Torontonians to pitch in — or perhaps kick in — in hopes of setting a new Guinness World Record for the longest single line of dancers.  The current record, set in Stein, Germany, in July 2005, had 1,150 participants.  The Rockettes are hoping to double that number with more than 2,500 participants when they line up along Front St. outside the Hummingbird Centre at 8:40 a.m. on Nov. 9.  Participants should wear appropriate footwear and be prepared for five minutes of high kicking.

Former Monkee Still A Player

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Michael Posner

(Oct. 27, 2006) How's this for an enduring show-biz career? At 20, after a successful stint as a child TV actor (in Circus Boy, 1956-58 ), you join a new, manufactured pop group called the
Monkees, which becomes, however briefly, the No. 1 band in the world. Backed by a popular TV series, you sell millions of records (nine albums, four of which went to No. 1) and imprint your name on pop culture forever more. Monkees mania ends, and you struggle for a period, but segue eventually into television as an actor, director and voice-over character. Then you switch gears entirely, move to London and become, for 12 years, a top BBC director and producer of sitcoms and dramas. By the mid-1980s, a wave of Sixties nostalgia creates demand for a Monkees reunion tour, a little dividend that keeps on paying. Then you tour with a solo act and follow it up by jumping into musical comedy, appearing on Broadway in Aida, touring in Grease, and, this year, in a road-show company production of Stephen Schwartz's 1970s musical Pippin, now running at the Royal Alexandra Theatre until Dec. 3. Come on down, Micky Dolenz. “I'm having a great time,” Dolenz, now 61, said in a recent interview. He plays Charlemagne, father of Pippin, the young hero in search of identity, authenticity and fulfilment. “They've added a new set and some elements of magic, so the show is now a bit like Cirque du Soleil.” The original show, starring John Rubinstein and Jill Clayburgh, opened on Broadway in October of 1972 and ran for almost five years. Ironically, Dolenz says, if you look at the old Monkees TV series (1966-68), “it was sort of similar to musical theatre, a musical comedy on television, with a sort of Marx brothers movie feel.” The son of Hollywood actors George Dolenz and Janelle Johnson, Dolenz says he went through a laborious audition process — 437 aspirants were seen — to win the Monkees' gig, along with band mates Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith. “You had to sing, play an instrument, act and do improv. I think there were three or four screen tests. Then they made me the drummer, and so after faking my way through the pilot, I took drum lessons for a year. I studied very hard.”

His parents, he says, hadn't really encouraged him to seek a career in show business. “I was just following in my father's footsteps. If he'd been a banker, I'd have been a banker. But my earliest recollections are of going on set with him, in movies with Victor Mature and Van Johnson. I thought everybody's father was an actor.” Dolenz was just 6 when he did his first screen test. After the run of Circus Boy, he says, his parents — worried that Hollywood wasn't the best environment for a boy approaching puberty — took him out of the business and sent him to a regular public school, “the smartest thing they could have done.” Although he continued to sing in school bands and area nightclubs, Dolenz had actually set his mind on a career in architecture. He kept one hand in acting, appearing in cameos in TV shows like Mr. Novak and Peyton Place, but was studying at a drafting college when the Monkees audition came along. Married three times and the father of four daughters, Dolenz says he'd always wanted to do musical comedy and as part of his solo act had sung three or four bars in which “I basically imitated my father imitating Mario Lanza singing Some Enchanted Evening.” One night after a show, a friend said she hadn't realized that Dolenz had a legitimate singing voice — did he want to audition for stage musicals? The first audition landed him a role as Zoser in Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida, a show he ultimately spent more time with (Dolenz has done the calculation) than he had with the original Monkees. Dolenz wrote a partial biography a decade ago ( I'm a Believer — My Life of Monkees, Music and Madness), covering roughly his first 25 years, and has since produced a children's picture book ( Gakky Two-Feet) and a music trivia book. He has no plans beyond the road show run of Pippin, which ends in January, but hopes it might end up on Broadway. Dolenz says he's not envious of young performers trying to break in today. “It's so hard to get noticed. I remember Ringo Starr telling me that back then all you needed to do was show up with your drums and you'd get work. It's harder to get heard today and, because of downloading, record companies are reluctant to invest in new talent.” Pippin runs to Dec. 3, $35 to $94. The Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W., 416-872-1212.

David E. Talbert Takes ‘Tyme’ For Latest Production

Excerpt from - By Kenya M Yarbrough

(November 1, 2006) *Since the early 1990s playwright
David E. Talbert has been writing and producing stage productions and basically shaping the genre of gospel themed urban plays. More recently, the award-winning Talbert has taken a step further and developed the romantic musical comedy.  Furthermore, along the way, he’s compiled a resume to include prime- time television producer book author, and movie producer. Talbert was hand-picked to write and produce Jamie Foxx’s TV special, recruited by Snoop Dogg to pen a series of novels, and has written his first big screen movie. Is there such a thing as quadruple-threat? Certainly. And Talbert has every intention of remaining a threat. He’s heading out on his 12th tour this January. Though the writer is ready to head out in support of his latest play, he is fresh off the heels of the Jamie Foxx Special and the release of the Snoop Dogg book, ‘Love Don’t Live Here No More,’ which hit book shelves Oct. 1. The book is part of a series the scribe is doing with the rapper called The Doggy Tales, which is loosely based of the life of Snoop. The movie he’s finished up called “First Sunday,” is currently in post production. “It’s a heist comedy about two cats in the hood whose backs are up against the wall and need to come up with some money fast. These are dim-witted, dull-minded guys, with a lot of heart, who come up with the most unbelievable scheme to come up with the money. Will a man rob God? What happens when two men rob a church?” (For another perspective on the Snoop book, from Snoop himself, click here.)

Next up is the musical romantic comedy “Love in the Nick of Tyme.” “It’s the story of a salon owner named Tyme Printess,” Talbert described. “The theme of this play is knowing your worth. It’s about a woman who is in love with a man who doesn’t want her, but doesn’t want anyone else to have her. And she continues in that relationship because she’s come to the conclusion that this is the best she’s going to get. The guy is the father of her 15-year-old son. So she’s holding on to her past and not able to latch on to her future. This play is like an inner city fairy tale about a salon owner who realizes her worth.” Talbert says “Tyme” is the third instalment of a romantic series of plays he’s produced. The first was “Love Makes Things Happen,” which he did with Babyface. Second came “Love on Layaway” with Debra Cox. “Tyme” is the final component and also boasts major star power – to be revealed on November 17th on his website and here at EURweb.  “I wrote these three plays in the same summer; in the summer of 2000, and I’ve been building on it and tweaking it and fine-tuning it because I really wanted to hold on to it and not release it until the right time. I wanted to have the right cast and just be at the right time in my life. This play is a culmination of all my musical romantic comedies,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with relationship themes in my past few plays and novels, but this is kind of the end of a trilogy for me.” Not only has he been writing relationship plays, but most of them have been from a woman’s perspective. Talbert says that the secrets to capturing the perspective and feelings of the opposite sex are actually quite simple. “I get my ideas off of everyday slices of life; from what my friends are going through – and most of the time they're talking about relationships,” he said. “I consult a lot of female friends that have some dysfunctional relationships. I get a lot of my material from them. And my wife is someone who I bounce these stories off of and bounce the characters off of to help make sure that they speak to women.” But Talbert adds that the bottom line is that everybody wants to be loved.  “They want to give love and they want to get love,” he said. “That’s a fundamental need of mankind. Sometimes we compromise ourselves because we feel we may not be worth it or our time has passed us by, our chance for love has passed us by. [Tyme Printess] feels this way at the beginning of the play, she’s resigned herself that it’s not going to get any better than dealing with the father of her child, but there is a UPS man – the Prince Charming of the ghetto – who comes in and helps her to realize that she is worth it and that she can find love ... in the nick of [Tyme].” “Love In The Nick of Tyme,” with music by Vivian Green, starts touring in January (2007) hitting 12 US cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Oakland. Check for dates and venues in addition to the announcement of the lead actor.

Queen Hit A T.O. Fit

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Nov. 1, 2006) Hey, Toronto, get ready to be rocked.  The Star has learned that Mirvish Productions plans to open
We Will Rock You at the Canon Theatre on March 14, 2007.  The musical, inspired by the songs of Queen, has been a smash hit in London since 2002 and has also toured successfully around the world, playing to over five million people.  It's a fantasy set 300 years into the future, when a corporation called Globalsoft has banned all singing or musical instruments. A band of rebels rediscovers rock 'n' roll and uses it to bring down the evil conglomerate.  All of this is done in an arch sci-fi style, while recycling 32 hits from Queen, the British glam rock group that reached its greatest fame in the 1970s and remains popular today.  The original London production team, including director/author Ben Elton, will stage Toronto's version, but, as previously suggested here, the show will be cast in Toronto and across the country.  That's just one way in which this show seems set to follow the successful pattern established by Mamma Mia! in 2000: a jukebox musical, a proven London hit, the original creative team and an all-Canadian cast.  Still to be duplicated are the open-ended run and North American tour that turned Mamma Mia! into one of the biggest hits this city has seen.  It's anticipated that the Mirvishes will today announce only a limited run of We Will Rock You, not wishing to repeat the scenario followed with The Lord of the Rings, a show that everyone thought in advance would run forever, only to see it close after six months.  There have been rumours circulating for months about whether We Will Rock You would open here in Toronto, with the project seeming to be a done deal one week, only to be considered unlikely the next.

Obviously, the Mirvish organization was understandably nervous about committing to a major new production after the failures of LOTR, The Producers and Hairspray.  But several things in recent months helped to change their minds. Spamalot broke its North American touring record here this summer and Wicked is currently generating huge box office returns — even for holdover performances in this, its second Toronto engagement.  But the final factor in favour of We Will Rock You may have been the overwhelming public response to The Phantom of the Opera when its tickets recently went on sale, even though it's not opening until late February.  Obviously there is still a huge appetite for live theatre in Toronto and the Mirvishes hope We Will Rock You will prove a dish fit to the public's taste.  The London production opened to generally negative reviews in 2002 but became an instant hit with audiences and has been packing the 2,007-seat Dominion Theatre ever since.  There have also been reports the Mirvishes plan an open casting call to find some fresh talent for We Will Rock You, so anyone out there who still can remember all the lyrics to "Bohemian Rhapsody" should watch for the audition notice.  The rest of us can just sit and wait, and hope this Toronto production leaves us singing "We are the Champions" instead of "Another One Bites the Dust."



Alice Munro - Making A Short Story Long

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Judy Stoffman

(Oct. 28, 2006) GODERICH, Ont.—
Alice Munro's new book The View from Castle Rock will be her last — or so she says. It caps an astonishing career that has won her legions of devoted readers and every writing prize short of the Nobel. She turned 75 in July and believes she has used up all her material.  "I feel it's the right time to stop. I used to start writing at 7 in the morning, the best hours as far as freedom goes," says the author, who had a heart bypass four years ago. "Now I'm not out of bed 'til 8:30 and by 9, I'll get a phone call. I don't have the energy I used to.  "Being a writer has been such a lifelong preoccupation, I don't know what I'm going to do next. I have no other talents. Travel? The world has changed too much — it is no longer a playground."  In her approximately 130 short stories, each as dense as a novel, she has shown what a keen and fearless observer can do with a seemingly limited number of personal experiences.  Over nearly five decades, delving ever deeper into the feelings and motivations of her characters, she has tapped into universal truths against a background of small Ontario towns much like this one an hour north of Stratford, where we meet for lunch.  She has never enjoyed the hustle of cities. "The fact of needing solitude has been the chief problem of my life," she continues. "When I moved in with Gerry (her second husband, Gerald Fremlin) it was impossible to explain to his mother why I had to go upstairs to work. It was not a normal thing to do."

In the early years she had to protect her creative energy from the demands of family life; now that she is world famous, everybody wants a piece of her.  In Britain, she has won the W.H. Smith award; in the U.S., she has received the National Book Critics' Circle Award, the Lannan Literary Award, the PEN/Malamud prize for short fiction, the Rea award and in 2005, the U.S. National Arts Club medal of honour; in Canada, she has won the provincial Trillium award, three Governor General's Awards and two Giller Prizes. She has repeatedly declined the Order of Canada.  "I'm more known now and I get more calls and letters and requests of all kinds to deal with. No, I could never hire anyone to help me with it. We have a small house and I can't imagine having anyone working for me in the house."  She can't bring herself to deny every request ("Saying no all the time has a negative effect on your spirits") so her time has recently been spent judging the Scotiabank Giller prize, to be announced Nov. 7. "I started reading in May and I can't remember summer at all. It was exhausting. There is so much fiction being written now."  She is granting a limited number of interviews, stipulating that they take place at Bailey's Fine Dining in Goderich, up the road from her home in Clinton, just 35 kilometres from her birthplace, Wingham — "Jubilee" in her early work.  She lunches three or four times a week at Bailey's and takes charge of ordering: cheese soufflés for both of us with plenty of white wine. Her hair, chestnut when I first interviewed her in the 1970s in Victoria, has turned silver. She admits to a love of good clothes and cuts a glamorous figure in a chocolate coloured suede shirt with a leopard-spotted silk scarf at her throat, over well-fitting striped trousers. She has thrown her toffee-coloured leather jacket over the back of her chair.

When I admire the spotted scarf, she confides that it's from a local thrift shop.  She is so well known and loved at Bailey's that the owner Carolyn Merritt hands over the keys and asks Munro to lock up the place when we have finished talking.  Munro announced her decision to stop writing in Writing Life, an anthology published last summer by McClelland & Stewart to benefit PEN Canada, but her long-time editor Douglas Gibson says another book of still uncollected stories, from The New Yorker and elsewhere, may yet see the light.  "Did he say that? There are only four more, two have been sold to The New Yorker and two will be published in Harper's, so you know The New Yorker didn't want them," she states firmly. Not enough to make a book.  She lives down the road in Clinton, in the house where Fremlin grew up. In the early 1970s her 20-year marriage to bookseller Jim Munro ended and she moved back from Victoria to be a writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario, the place where she had studied but never graduated. Here she reconnected with Fremlin, a geographer, whom she had first met as a student.  "I used to do a lot of baking and preserving when I first moved in with Gerry," she recalls. "I didn't know if I could still write. Eventually I found my voice again."

Her latest biographer, Robert Thacker, wrote that she needed to return to her "home place" physically, not only via imagination, to achieve her mature style.  "I didn't keep diaries; I can go right back (mentally) and live in any period of my life," she says.  She and Fremlin have a condo in Comox, B.C., near Munro's eldest daughter Sheila and her family of two boys.  They drive out every year to spend winter on the West Coast but are thinking now of selling the condo; Fremlin's deteriorating eyesight is making it difficult for him to drive and Munro has never had a licence.  The book she has chosen to be her swan song, The View From Castle Rock, is a fictionalized family memoir going back to her Laidlaw ancestors in early 19th-century Scotland, underpinned by surviving family letters and diaries but largely imagined. Her ancestors were shepherds, Lowland Presbyterians, not the fiddle-playing Highland Scots Alistair MacLeod writes about, who were Roman Catholic.  Her great-great grandfather William Laidlaw immigrated in the 1830s to Joliet, Illinois, where he died of cholera, leaving behind his wife Mary and five children, one being Thomas — Munro's great-grandfather. William's brothers had around the same time settled in Ontario and when William died, his widow and children joined them.  The second half of the book consists of first-person stories written over many years about her father, an unsuccessful fox farmer then turkey farmer; her enterprising mother struck down young by Parkinson's disease; her paternal grandmother and great aunts. The last sombre story is about driving with her husband around the countryside, looking at cemeteries.  By juxtaposing these elements, Munro is extending her investigation into what makes people the way they are, what made her who she is, what traits we might inherit from distant ancestors.

Reviews have been lukewarm but Munro never reads reviews.  "Writing this book was really important to me," she says. "I felt it wouldn't be popular but at my age you don't care. You do what you need to do. I was encouraged by reading William Maxwell. He was the fiction editor at The New Yorker but also wrote books about his ancestors and his childhood. It made it legitimate to write about ordinary family relationships, ordinary human life. "The stories about myself are totally factual; I wrote them over a long period of time. The old stuff I discovered and wrote about recently," she says.  She found through her research that her Scottish forebears, though uneducated, were vigorously considering problems that they encountered through their Presbyterian religion. "They were rough-hewn intellectuals," she says.  "They were not oppressed by their religion the way they were after they came to Canada."  Munro remembers being forbidden to do her homework on Sunday, or if she did, not to let her Laidlaw grandmother know. "I realized that I had been brought up at the end of the Presbyterian era," she says.  The stern code of conduct she was born to did not value enterprise, wealth, comfort, or higher education that might cause you to "put on airs" or rise above your station.  "Poverty was a badge of honour in my family and there was a kind of laughter about somebody, say, who got an indoor bathroom put in. It showed a lack of self-sufficiency. Same with people who bought a new car. All that is gone now."  She sees her early environment, which became the source of her artistry, as being comprised of a mass of seething, suppressed urges.  "I was brought up to think that the most important thing is not to make a fool of yourself, not to expose yourself and, of course, I wound up exposing my whole life."  Not quite. Names in the text are invented, keeping readers unsure about whether they're reading memoirs or fiction.  "Readers' problems are not my problems," Munro says. "Things that happen are the psychological truth, even if a boyfriend's name has been changed."

Sweet Charity: Glitzy City Galas Raising The Bar For Fundraisers

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Nicole O'Reilly

(Oct. 27, 2006) Chocolate, more chocolate and even
Choclair. That's what one charity is putting on the table in hopes of attracting a younger and more diverse crowd to its next fundraiser. The inaugural Chocolate Ball takes place tonight, head to head with the United Way's sold-out fourth annual Rouge party. Both are typical of a trend among charity events: aiming to be younger, cooler and more affordable than traditional black-tie fundraisers. The Chocolate Ball promises an evening of cocoa-based indulgence at the Palais Royale Ballroom, with 20 per cent of net proceeds going to breast-cancer programs at the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. For Joey Cee, the planner of tonight's event, it's all about standing out. "I go to a lot of galas, and after a while some galas become same-old, same-old," he says. This one boasts four chocolate fountains (dark, milk, white and pink), a buffet of gourmet chocolate and servings of chocolate-infused food from chefs including Massimo from Mistura and Jonathan Gushue from Langdon Hall. Guests, at $125 for the evening, are invited to dress in period costume from the 1930s to 1950s and Scarborough hip-hop artist Choclair, who has signed on to host and perform at the event, is the icing on the cake.

Annette King, marketing manager for
GenNext, a branch of the United Way of Greater Toronto that encourages people aged 21 to 35 to get involved in charitable activities, says more fundraisers are chasing a group of very educated and economically successful young professionals. For GenNext's Rouge party at the Dominion Club on King Street West, more than 400 young movers and shakers are paying $20 a ticket to dance and fraternize for the United Way. There are a few key factors that will attract young professionals to charity events, Ms. King says. "Make them part of the planning process," she said, which GenNext did while planning Rouge. "It [also] needs to be a charity that they are familiar with; it shows the charity is credible." Planning to attend Rouge tonight is TJ Adhihetty, 28, a lawyer with Fasken Martineau. He says the most important factor in deciding where his money goes is the charity's reputation. Mr. Adhihetty says he and his peers are drawn to events that are trendy, local and not particularly formal. "Things young professionals want to get into but maybe haven't," he says. "Entertainment such as wine tasting or new music." The Heart and Stroke Foundation is tempting palates and wallets with an evening that opens up a formerly private wine-tasting event. The Vino della Vita fundraiser on Nov. 6 at the Carlu on Yonge Street, with samples from the cellars of more than 80 Italian vintners, has existed for the past decade as a restaurant industry-only event. This year it's open to the public, with food by big-name Toronto chef Jamie Kennedy, including eggplant canapés and braised pork with apples and almonds. The $100-a-ticket event is raising money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Chase McEachern Tribute Fund, which encourages the installation of automated external defibrillators in public spaces. "There are tons of different galas if you wanted to go every week, and in some weeks most days of the week," says Heart and Stroke Foundation CEO Rocco Rossi. "So we need to be creative."

Grisham's Tale Too Rich To Be Made Up

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Judy Stoffman, Publishing Reporter

(Oct. 31, 2006)
John Grisham reads several newspapers a day in search of ideas for his legal thrillers. At any given moment, he has a half-dozen carefully constructed book outlines on his desk ready to be expanded to 500 or so pages.  "I'm constantly looking for a story where lawyers are involved and I can add a twist, a character and make it a book," he explained in his hotel room yesterday. He is a 6-foot-tall blond, blue-eyed Southern gent with impeccable manners, a down-to-earth family man notwithstanding his international fame (250 million books sold in 45 languages, with six of his novels made into movies) and considerable wealth.  He had flown to Toronto from his home in Charlottesville, Va., on his own plane, a Bombardier Challenger, to promote The Innocent Man, just published by Doubleday.  The last time he was on book tour here was 13 years ago. "I don't do a lot of promotional stuff," he says, "usually one full day in New York and I go to the same five bookstores in Mississippi that I always go to." Before he and his wife and two children, now at university, moved to their estate in Virginia to escape the tourists gawking at their house, they had made their home in Oxford, Miss.  Grisham's 19th book and first work of non-fiction, The Innocent Man was conceived on Dec. 9, 2004, the day he came across an obituary in The New York Times for Ron Williamson, once a promising baseball player who was the first major league draft pick from Oklahoma in 1971. In 1988, Williamson was wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of Debbie Carter, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada, Okla., whose nude, strangled body was found in her apartment in 1982.

After a dozen anguished years on death row, Williamson, suffering from untreated bipolar disorder, was exonerated and freed. Despite the efforts of his family to help him rebuild his life, he proceeded to binge drink himself to death.  "Not in my most creative moment could I conjure up a story as rich and as layered as Ron's," he writes. "And, as I would soon learn, the obituary barely scratched the surface."  Within hours Grisham had talked to Williamson's sisters Annette and Renee, and negotiated exclusive rights to his story: a tale of shoddy police work, small-town prejudice, an overzealous prosecutor, incompetent and blind (literally) defence attorney, vicious prison guards and, most of all, the inhumane system of capital punishment so enthusiastically practised in Oklahoma, despite the possibility of error.  DNA evidence finally exonerated Williamson (he never got an apology and had to sue for compensation) and put Glen Gore behind bars. A high school acquaintance of Debbie Carter, Gore had been the last person seen with her on the night of her death, yet the Ada police had barely questioned him during the initial investigation.  "DNA evidence was only gradually accepted in the 1990s; Ron was one of the first DNA exonerees," Grisham explains. Since then close to 200 other people in the U.S. have been freed through DNA evidence, mostly through the efforts of the Innocence Project, a New York-based legal defence service whose board of directors Grisham has recently joined.  Ron Williamson died at the age of 51, the age Grisham is now. Like Truman Capote, who said he wrote In Cold Blood because he felt that he and murderer Perry Smith had grown up in the same house, Grisham felt he knew Williamson.

"When I read Ron's obit I was struck by the similarities," he says. "He grew up in a small town in Oklahoma similar to the small towns I grew up in Mississippi; he dreamed of playing professional baseball; he had a big sister who bossed him around — so did I — and we both come from middle-class very devout Christian families."  While Grisham normally hates to check facts for his fiction ("Mark Twain said that he once moved an entire state and no one noticed"), he spent 18 months researching Innocent Man, reading thousands of pages of testimony and interviewing about 100 witnesses.  He had practised law for 10 years, shutting down his practice in 1991, after the success of his second novel The Firm, and says he did not question the death penalty then as he does now.  "I was a product of my environment. When I researched The Chamber, which came out in 1993, I spent a lot of time on death row and talked to men about to die, and I became convinced it was a bad thing.  "Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia — they execute them as fast as they can," he says. "It's what the majority of people want and believe in. This is the heart of the Bible belt and these `Christians' are in favour of the death penalty. I'm a Christian and I'll never be convinced it's what Jesus taught."


Canada Council Unveils Plan For Disbursing Funds

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail -Val Ross

(Oct. 31, 2006) Toronto — The
Canada Council for the Arts yesterday made public its plans to disburse $50-million in new money over the next two years. The money was announced in the May budget, but only introduced in Parliament yesterday. The funds will go to organizations, individuals and activities in all regions, from symphony orchestras to composers of new music, from art museums to people working in new media, all through a competitive process. About two-thirds will go for supplementary grants to organizations; the rest will support individual artists and public-access activities. Arts groups are applauding the announcement, but it would be more accurate to say they are making encouraging noises to a government that has been seen as lukewarm in its support for culture. The Canadian Arts Coalition, the group behind the "votearts2006" campaign to make arts funding an election issue, has called the announcement "an excellent first step towards attaining stable, long-term and sustainable funding for the arts." But in the longer term, the coalition still seeks an annual increase of $100-million in federal funding for the arts.



Cards Capture Series In Five Games

Source:  Canadian Press

(Oct. 28, 2006) ST. LOUIS (AP) - Favoured by few, the
St. Louis Cardinals used an unlikely cast of characters to win their first World Series in nearly a quarter century.  Jeff Weaver dominated, David Eckstein drove in two runs on balls that didn't leave the infield and the Cards took advantage of another wild throw by a Tigers pitcher to beat Detroit 4-2 on Friday night and won the Series in five games.  "I think we shocked the world," Cardinals centre fielder Jim Edmonds said. "It's an unbelievable experience."  Manager Tony La Russa's Cardinals had just 83 regular-season wins, the fewest by a World Series winner, and nearly missed the playoffs after a late-season slump. But the Cardinals beat San Diego and the New York Mets in the playoffs, then won their first title since 1982 by taming a heavily favoured Tigers team that entered the Series with six days' rest.  After closer Adam Wainwright struck out Brandon Inge for the final out, the ballpark erupted. Wainwright raised his arms in triumph, catcher Yadier Molina ran to the mound and the pair bounced off toward second base, where they were joined by teammates running out from the dugout and the bullpen.

"I don't think anybody in uniform didn't do something in the post-season. Everyone did," said La Russa, whose uniform number - 10 - now matches the team's World Series titles. "The defence was great. The pitching was great. Timely hitting. The best bench I've had in a long time. They just refused for us to lose."  Minutes later fireworks filled the sky above the ballpark.  Eckstein, the five-foot-seven shortstop who had four hits in Game 4, was the Series MVP.  "No one believed in us, but we believed in ourselves," Eckstein said.  On a cold Midwest night more suitable to football than baseball, the Tigers made two more errors, raising their Series total to eight - three by Inge, the third baseman, and a record five by their pitchers. Eight of the 22 runs allowed by the Tigers were unearned, the most by a team since the 1956 New York Yankees against Brooklyn.  While the Tigers tossed the ball to the tarp, the Cardinals were mostly crisp, with the notable exception of right fielder Chris Duncan, who dropped a fly ball just before Sean Casey's two-run homer in the fourth put Detroit ahead 2-1.  St. Louis came right back to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom half as pitcher Justin Verlander threw away a ball for the second time in two starts, and Scott Rolen added a big run with a two-out RBI single in the seventh off reliever Fernando Rodney, extending his post-season hitting streak to 10 games.

It was the Cardinals' first title since 1982 and the first for the NL since the 2003 Florida Marlins. La Russa, who led the Oakland Athletics to a sweep in the earthquake-interrupted 1989 Bay Bridge Series, joined Sparky Anderson (Cincinnati and Detroit) as the only managers to win Series titles in each league.  It marked the first time since the 1912 Red Sox at Boston's Fenway Park that a team won the Series at home in a first-year ballpark. And the Cardinals (83-78) almost didn't even make it to the post-season. They had a seven-game NL Central lead with 12 to go but lost eight of nine before recovering to finish 1½ games ahead of Houston, the defending NL champion.  Minnesota, in 1987, had set the previous low for wins by a Series winner, going 85-77.  "The team that wins a world championship is the team that played the best," La Russa said.  As the Tigers failed in their bid for their first title since 1984, their season ended with Kenny Rogers rested and ready with no place to pitch. Rogers, who threw 23 shutout innings in the post-season, was saved by manager Jim Leyland for a possible sixth game Saturday in Detroit.  Weaver, cast off by the Yankees three years ago after a World Series flop, allowed four hits in eight innings, matched his season high with nine strikeouts and walked one before Wainwright finished for the save. St. Louis pitchers held Detroit to a .205 average (33-for-161) over the five games.  Verlander gave up three runs - one earned - and three hits, recovering from early control problems to give the Tigers a decent effort.  After a daylong rain, the weather cleared about two hours before gametime. Still, it was 8 C when play began, and a brisk wind made it feel that much colder. But the wintry conditions didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the 46,638 mostly red-clad fans.

Verlander, throwing up to 100 mph, was wild in the first inning, walking the bases loaded and throwing two wild pitches. By his fourth batter, Jason Grilli was warming up in the bullpen, but Verlander escaped by the thinnest of margins, needing 35 pitches to get through the inning.  He walked Duncan with one out, threw a wild pitch, then walked Albert Pujols. With a 2-0 count on Edmonds, pitching coach Chuck Hernandez came to the mound. Edmonds fell behind 3-0, then flied out after Verlander worked the count full. Following another wild pitch, Verlander walked Rolen, and when he started Ronnie Belliard with a ball, catcher Ivan Rodriguez went to the mound.  After fouling off a 3-2 pitch, Belliard hit a grounder up the middle that Carlos Guillen just got to in time to make an off-balance throw to first, beating Belliard by less than a step as Casey scooped the ball on a bounce. Verlander yelled and whipped his arm across his body excitement.  But St. Louis went ahead in the second, after Molina looped a single to centre leading off, took second on So Taguchi's bunt and third on Weaver's groundout. Eckstein hit a smash, and both the ball and a chunk of his bat headed toward third. Inge dived and grabbed the ball as it went over the base and then, even though he had plenty of time, rushed his throw. It bounced and went up the line as Molina scored. Eckstein was given a hit on the play and advanced on the bad throw by Inge.  Weaver held the Tigers to two hits in the first three innings. With one out in the fourth, Magglio Ordonez lofted a fly to right and Duncan, calling off centre fielder Edmonds, allowed it to kick off his glove for a two-base error.  Casey sent the next pitch into the seats down the right-field line for a two-run homer that put Detroit ahead. Then it was the Tigers' turn to make a key mistake.

Molina and Taguchi singled with one out in the bottom half and Weaver bunted back to Verlander. He had an easy force at third, but sidearmed the ball and it bounced past Inge for an error that allowed Molina to score the tying run and left runners on second and third. Eckstein followed with a grounder to shortstop that drove in Taguchi for a 3-2 lead.  Duncan had another adventure in the fifth, letting Casey's catchable two-out fly drop behind him on the warning track for a double. But Weaver struck out Rodriguez on a checked swing.  Pujols turned in the niftiest play, sprawling to snare Placido Polanco's grounder to first leading off the seventh, then making a one-bounce throw from his back to Weaver covering the base.  Notes: The record for unearned runs allowed in the Series is 13, shared by the 1903 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1909 Tigers. . Verlander's two wild pitches in an inning tied the Series record.

Pinball Happy To Have Semi Shot At Bombers

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Allan Ryan, Sports Reporter

(Oct. 31, 2006) Once
Mike (Pinball) Clemons puts his spin on things, it's almost like having to play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday will be a good thing. Desirable, even.  Now, fine, had the Argonauts held on to beat Montreal on Saturday, they'd have had pretty much this whole week off; could've rested up all their dents and dings; would've been one win from booking tickets to The 'Peg for the Nov.19 Grey Cup.  The Argos instead were obliged to get their work week started yesterday by reviewing, en masse, a heart-churning little feature called Loss to the Alouettes 24-20.  "We were all a little bit disgusted," said defensive end Eric England, knowing too well the silver lining therein.  "So, we get to keep going. We won't lose our chemistry. We've got to go the hard road. I don't know why, we seem to like it that way."  Comments like these, of course, have coach Pinball's fingerprints all over them. Soon after, Clemons was suggesting that, for the Argos to be as good a team as they can be, they probably needed the Eastern semi-final against Winnipeg. That they'd get to host it, well, yes, that was good, too.  "The fact is, we maybe have needed another game, since this team is really just starting to come together offensively and special teams-wise," Clemons said. "We're just really beginning to understand who we are.

"For us, too, we've found that, when we keep playing, it's always better," he continued. "This is a very tough game coming up this week but we do understand that, in getting past it, we'll be a better team than having sat out for two weeks."  Last time the Argos "enjoyed" the bye week — last season, matter of fact — they stumbled out of the layoff and lost the Eastern final to the Alouettes, 33-17.  Last time they finished second — in 2004 — they toasted the Ticats in the semi, stunned the Alouettes in Montreal, then upset B.C. for the Cup in Ottawa.  Offensive lineman Jude St. John, now heading for his ninth playoffs, regarded that '04 run as the wildest of the lot.  "Just for all the ups and downs that season, coming out of bankruptcy and all the rest," St. John recalled. "Beating Montreal in Montreal was pretty crazy. It's a great league and it just gets better in the playoffs."  Argos, by the way, are fully expecting Bomber quarterback Kevin Glenn to start on Sunday, despite the fact he was sidelined with a turned ankle on his first pass attempt in the loss in B.C. on Saturday night.  "We expect that he'll play and we have to expect he'll be 100 per cent," said Clemons.  "A lot of times, when you're compromised physically, you'll play some of your best games because you play within yourself.  "There's no reason to sit out, either. There's no tomorrow after this."  Ditto it should be then, for Argo receiver Tony Miles, who sat Saturday with a bad ankle but yesterday assured everyone he'd be a go on Sunday.  "This is why we play," said Clemons. "This is it! This is playoff time!  "If you can't get excited about this, you know, we maybe have to get you some shock therapy."

Hansen Remains In Motion

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Randy Starkman, Sports Reporter

(Oct. 31, 2006) The Man In Motion had nowhere to go. 
Rick Hansen was looking for a place to escape from the sweltering 33-degree heat at his daughter's soccer game this past summer in Chilliwack, B.C. All the parents headed for the stands, but there was no wheelchair accessibility.  Hansen ducked into a state-of-the-art hockey rink that was part of the new sports complex. He spotted a sandwich shop open on the next level, a welcome sight since he was hungry.  That option was blocked, too. No ramp or elevator.  "So somebody wasn't thinking," said Hansen. "It means there's more work to be done. It's not a condemnation. It's just a reality of the magnitude of the challenges that we face."  It was 20 years ago this week that Hansen's epic 40,000-kilometre, around-the-world wheelchair journey passed through Toronto. He'll be here this week to mark that anniversary and also to be the first wheelchair athlete ever inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame tomorrow.  But Hansen is all about looking forward. Chief among the many projects he's spearheading is a $100 million international spinal research centre that will open in Vancouver in 2008 and be virtually connected to 17 sites across Canada and multiple sites throughout the world.  The goals that powered the original Man In Motion tour — to change attitudes about the way people view people with physical disabilities and to find a cure for spinal cord injury — still provide the fuel that propels him.

"I hope that my best work's still in front of me," said Hansen in a recent interview over breakfast. "That's why I get up in the morning with a new dream that I'm pushing for."  Hansen comes across as more folksy than charismatic in person. When he relates the story about the accessibility problems at his daughter's soccer game, there's not a hint of anger or frustration in his voice — nor is there resignation.  The 49-year-old from Williams Lake, B.C., knows this is a marathon journey. Those who know him marvel at the skill set he's developed to take on the challenge. After all, you don't create an international foundation that's raised more than $178 million without a lot of passion, commitment and intelligence.  Among those he's inspired is former Olympic rower Silken Laumann, who describes Hansen as someone who does things "for the right reasons all of the time," never compromising his integrity to forward his agenda.  "He really is the real thing," said Laumann. "It's never about his ego. It's about the people who have spinal cord injuries. I think he keeps that in the forefront of his mind.  "I admire him very much as an athlete, I admire him very much as a social entrepreneur and I admire him even more as a person."  Hansen's accomplishments as an athlete often get overlooked, but he was a three-time world champion, winner of 19 international wheelchair marathons, shared the Lou Marsh Award as Athlete of the Year with Wayne Gretzky in 1983 and competed for Canada at the 1984 L.A. Olympics.  He embarked on the Man In Motion tour at the peak of his athletic career. He was following a trail blazed by a good friend, former roommate and training partner, Terry Fox. It was Hansen who recruited Fox to play for the Vancouver Cable Cars wheelchair basketball team after he lost his leg to cancer.

Like Fox, Hansen had to overcome a lot of self-doubt and scepticism.  "Some of the biggest dreams in the world were killed by fear of failure," said Hansen. "That was Terry's biggest lesson to me or through my exposure to him as a friend. The other is that during your darkest moments in journeys when you're filled with despair and frustration and don't think you can go any further that if you just hang in there, sometimes just around the bend that you can't see, providence is gonna take you to the next level."  What sustained Hansen during some of his toughest times were the moments he could see he was making a difference. He remembers in Eastern Europe when someone with a disability pushed themselves out to watch him, sitting only on a piece of plywood with skateboard wheels, tears of joy on their face. In China, millions lined the streets from Beijing to Shanghai at a time when people with disabilities were being shut out.  "When I finished the tour, we got a call from a mother who said she had a dilemma in her life. She said, `I don't know what to do because my 6-year-old son who has been following the Man In Motion tour at his school and been so caught up in it, when we were making choices for Christmas presents, what he wanted was a wheelchair just like Rick Hansen's,'" recalled Hansen.  "He was fully able-bodied, so she was like, `How do I respond to that?' Isn't that a neat thing when a child's looking at the chair like it's a liberating opportunity to get out and do things and not see it as some burden."  Hansen is also applying his leadership skills these days to trying to help the environment, working specifically to help protect and rebuild the Pacific salmon stocks and Fraser River white sturgeon. An avid fisherman, Hansen's injury happened when a pickup truck in which he was hitchhiking flipped over while he was returning from a fishing trip.  "It's how my accident happened, but it's how my character was defined before the accident," said Hansen of fishing. "It was part of my rehabilitation. I received so much from the outdoors. You can't keep taking in life without giving something back. In our country, we've got one of the most beautiful places on earth. But if we don't give something back to the environment, it's not sustainable for us or for anything."  Hansen lives in Richmond, B.C., with his wife Amanda Reid, who was his physiotherapist at the start of the Man In Motion tour and fiancée by the end of it, along with their three daughters, all of whom are heavily involved in sports and have their dad right there with them.  There was talk at the end of the tour 20 years ago about Hansen moving into politics and, while it's a role you could envision him performing well, he said it's not on the radar presently.  "I'm in a great place in my life right now," he said. "I have a vision for the future. I have a mission that I'm still focused on. You never say never, but for this phase of my life, for at least the next five years, I'm locked and loaded and ready to go."

Bargnani All The Rage

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Dave Feschuk

(Oct. 31, 2006) The Maple Leafs were doing interviews somewhere downstairs, but the biggest media throng at the Air Canada Centre yesterday came clamouring for the hockey club's poor cousin.  And many of them were from Italy. They trained their cameras, something approaching a dozen representatives of Italian media interests, on all things
Andrea Bargnani, the 21-year-old Raptors rookie from Rome. They got footage of Il Mago, the magician to his countrymen, stroking gorgeous three-point swishes. They got footage of him tossing down a rare dunk. And when Bargnani popped into the team's weight room for some post-practice iron pumping, a few enterprising cameramen even pressed their lenses against the windows to get the latest evidence that their countryman's 7-foot frame, pizza-dough soft compared to the cut-and-muscled standard of many NBA stars, is on the road to Michelangelo-worthy marble.  This is, indeed, a moment of rare import. Thanks to Bargnani's ascendance as the first European selected No.1 in the NBA draft, tomorrow night's Raptors season opener in New Jersey will be the first regular-season NBA game broadcast live to Italy, where it will begin at 1:30 a.m. Two of the largest general-interest newspapers in the country are sending correspondents, as are a handful of TV stations and magazines and the many national all-sports dailies, whose prominence speaks to a nation's jock-wise madness.  Considering Bargnani hails from the soccer-obsessed homeland of the reigning World Cup champions, the attention is relatively gigantic.  "In 32-page (sports) papers, there will be 31 pages about soccer and one page about Andrea," said Flavio Tranquillo, the 44-year-old broadcaster and writer from Milan who will be providing the Italian play-by-play from the Meadowlands with help from Maurizio Gherardini, the Raptors' assistant general manager. "So things are changing — slowly."

Indeed, it was more than 11 years ago that the Raptors made another Italian — Vincenzo Esposito — the franchise's first signing. And if anyone in Italy noticed, they didn't seem to care. As marketing campaigns go — as a novel accessory to the purple colour scheme and the stuffed-dinosaur mascot that were kids-culture favourites of the moment — Esposito made sense. To the club, he wasn't just a 6-foot-3 shooting guard. He was a bridge to one of the city's largest ethnic communities. He wasn't just a player. He was a flag. But there was a problem: On the NBA floor, Esposito was an abysmal failure. And off it — perhaps because he wasn't even the best player in Italy when the Raptors' scouting department of the day heralded him as NBA-worthy; perhaps because nobody wants to cheer for a benchwarmer, no matter his ethnicity — he probably didn't offer the connection to his Toronto-based countrymen that the Raptors had envisioned.  When Esposito showed up at the Columbus Centre, an Italian community centre at the corner of Dufferin and Lawrence, he was greeted somewhat quizzically. David Di Iulio, now a 21-year-old University of Toronto student and NBA enthusiast, remembers getting Esposito's autograph on a Raptors basketball. He forewent the glass-case treatment and played with the ball on the tarmac. The autograph has since worn off.  "It didn't mean much," Di Iulio said.  Di Iulio said it meant far more to be back at the Columbus Centre a couple of weeks back, when Bargnani made his requisite pilgrimage to the facility and its affiliated home for the aged. The sight of the 7-footer stooping to embrace 85-year-old Guissepina Magdalena, who stood perhaps 4-foot-2 and who broke into sobs in Bargnani's presence, was compelling theatre.

"He's beautiful," Magdalena said through an interpreter. "He's one of ours."  He is adapting to the local customs, to be sure. Bargnani is driving around in a blue Lincoln Navigator, a monstrous example of automotive decadence that wouldn't be practical in Rome's ancient labyrinth. And though he has been deluged with offers from personal chefs, his mother, Louisella Balducci, a schoolteacher, has been cooking for him in a Queen's Quay condominium. She is scheduled to return to Italy in mid-November, but her son shouldn't lack for companionship.  "He likes the Italians' embrace," said Gherardini, who signed Bargnani to his first professional contract as a teenager. "We have made more and more Italian friends. We've been three or four times to Woodbridge. ... We have Italian people coming to us and trying to help. He likes this embrace, this hug. Not because he feels he cannot stay without it, but it makes him feel a little more comfortable."  So, he's comfortable. But what makes anyone so certain he won't be another Esposito, who mercifully agreed to exit his three-year deal after one season on the pine (and is, at age 38, riding out his career for a Sicilian club in the Italian first division)? For starters, Bargnani is 10 inches taller. And he's arguably a better shooter. And he, unlike the Italians of a decade ago, is coming to an NBA that boasts a long list of non-American stars.  "It's a different time. (Esposito) was a good player, but people (in Italy) didn't feel like he was going to be a player who was going to last for a long time in the NBA," Gherardini said. "Now, (Italians) almost go in there with a different pride. They say, `Hey, our young guy might be young, he might have a lot to learn, but he was a first-round pick, so we've got some credit.' ... They're convinced he can play."  Tranquillo: "With Andrea, it's going to be different. Times have changed. Andrea, being a little shy, is not that great public persona that catches attention, but in the end, people understand the magnitude of all this."


Wade Goes Wild

Excerpt from By Marie Moore

(October 27, 2006) *
Dwayne Wade’s stock is rising on Madison Ave. His Spike Lee-directed TV spots promoting the new Wade shoe line began airing yesterday, a new Gatorade campaign is on deck for the winter and the Miami Heat guard already works as a mouthpiece for T-Mobile and Lincoln SUVs. He'll get his first championship ring next Tuesday when the Heat open their season against the Bulls. "It's all overwhelming," Wade says to AP. "But nice, too."



Best Way to Beat Cellulite

By Joyce Vedral, eDiets Guest Columnist

(October 29, 2006) Yes, you can get rid of cellulite, but there's no magic cream to melt it away. The only way to zap it is to work out the right way. How does this work?  Cellulite is bunched up fat that clings to the tissue beneath your skin and gives your skin a crater-like appearance -- something like an orange peel, or the more popularly thought of, cottage cheese.  As you exercise and challenge the muscle in a specific way, you develop a long, sleek muscle under your skin, and the bunched up fat no longer shows through. In effect, the cellulite is gone.  Many women have it on their thighs. Though that is the area we will talk about today, you can reduce cellulite anywhere on your body.

I used to have plenty of it myself, but now I don't have any! Take a look at my photos -- I'm not 16! If I can do it, believe me, you can, too. It's a science! If you do the workout, it has to work.  How long does it take to see results? By working out the right way you can eliminate much of your cellulite in 12 weeks. To speed up the process, add more exercises to your routine. Here is a good start:

Front thigh cellulite Be Gone Standing Leg Extension

Position: Stand straight with one hand holding the back of a chair for

Movement: Keeping one leg straight, bend the other by raising your knee as high as possible. (See my start photo). Extend your working leg out as far as possible, flexing your front thigh as you go. Without resting, bend your leg and return to start and repeat until you have done 12 repetitions. Repeat for the other leg. Without resting, move to the next exercise.

Front-back thigh Cellulite Be-Gone Wide Leg Semi-Squat

Position: Stand with your legs a bit more than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed outward, and hold a dumbbell with palms facing your body at the center of your body as you see me doing in my start photo.

Movement: Feeling the stretch in your front and back thigh muscles as you go, lower yourself to a comfortable position -- not quite to a normal squat. Flexing your front and back thigh muscles as hard as possible, return to start. Repeat 12 times.

Go back to the first exercise and repeat both exercises two more times for a total of three times each.  You can eliminate cellulite from your entire body by zoning in on the cellulite areas with carefully formulated exercises. For more cellulite zapping exercises, visit Joyce at and get a copy of her Cellulite Be Gone package deal.


Motivational Note - Get Up!

Excerpt from - by Jewel Diamond Taylor

Perfectionism and self-criticism can be so abusive and non-productive. Don' be too hard on yourself --- yet continue to push yourself towards the next level of improvement. Sometimes you may not "feel" like doing what you should do; balance your budget, exercise, school work, build your business, get over the blues or fight the battle of the bulge. Feelings of apathy, indifference, denial, procrastination, fear and doubt do not serve you well. Going to the next level in your life requires action above and beyond how you feel. Doing something consistently removes distraction and doubt. Success will happen for you when you can discipline yourself. The key to success and growth is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you like it or not. Study successful people and you will see they have discipline and are willing to pay the price when others don't feel like it. They go the extra mile. They put in the extra time and they have a "made up mind."