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Updated:  November 9, 2006


Get those calendar's out and put two things on it - the opening party for Carl Cassell's new place - Harlem on November 20th and the upcoming AroniAwards on December 10th.  But first is your opportunity to nominate those people that you feel give back to our community without recognition.  Details on both events are below.

This week's
OPINION is my take on watching the news ...




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 

::sony/bmg scoop::

Kirk Franklin is Back!

Source:  Sony/BMG Music

The legions of fans that have been eagerly awaiting the first and ultimate
Kirk Franklin collection are already lining up…

For over 15 years, the multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winner Kirk Franklin has penned some of the most dynamic and riveting worship songs that have become gospel classics.  With career scans of over ten million units, Kirk Franklin’s masterful gifts have served to shape and mainstream American urban worship like none other. 
Kirk’s previous release, 2005’s HERO, is already rapidly approaching platinum status in the US .  It has spawned such huge, crossover hits as “Looking For You” and “Imagine Me” that are still leviathans at gospel and urban radio, more than a year since Hero’s release!

Just in time for the holiday season, Kirk Franklin is back with a collection of his classic worship hits, ‘
Songs For The Storm, Volume 1.’  As if having all of Kirk’s best on one disc isn’t enough, the release will also feature two brand-new, previously unreleased tracks!   When you walk through the storms of life, hold your head up high and keep Kirk Franklin’s words and music close to your heart. 

Kirk Franklin’s ‘Songs For The Storm, Volume 1’  is in stores Nov. 7th @ Wal-Mart!


The Ho Hum News?

OK.  So I try to watch the news every evening but ... well, have you ever found yourself clicking to another channel, simply because of the doom and gloom factor?  Or even the boredom factor?  Sometimes the delivery of the news makes me turn the channel - it just doesn't captivate me.

I never realized how much this influenced my attention span in watching the news, that is, until I watched
The Hour with host,  George Stroumboulopoulos.   Hello.  My name is Dawn and I'm an Houraholic!

I just love this funny, intelligent, hip and captivating coverage of the news.  George doles out a sometimes irreverant opinion during the news which is usually pretty funny and most of the time, bang on accurate! 

Apparently, the ratings were dropping for newcasts and CBC answered with The Hour.  George aka Strombo also conducts interviews while a small studio audience watches.  I've seen musical guests, political guests, sports guests - all extremely poignant interviews.  Strombo asks the tough questions without making the guest uncomfortable.  He is well prepared, well-informed (especially on music and world politics but can hang on any topic) and quips the occasional 'are you kidding me?' behind a story.  Not once have I turned the channel from his show.  It's on CBC at 11:00 pm - that's right - when all the other newscasts are ... Definitely check it out - it's worth the watch.  Kudos Strombo - keep it comin'!

And that's just my opinion. 

::top stories::

George Takes The Backstreet To The Top

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry

(Nov. 5, 2006) The email from
George's record label publicist sums up the Toronto resident's current cachet: "The girls are going nuts!"  The 20-year-old pop/R&B singer's single "Talk to Me" has been in radio's Top 20 for more than a month, but since the video hit No. 1 on MuchMusic's Countdown on Oct. 27, there's been ensuing curiosity about the single-named artist with the captivating tune and smouldering looks.  And it's telling that the Star had to track him all the way to Copenhagen — where he was attending the MTV European Music Awards last week — to get the goods.  Though the rising star's debut album Believe doesn't drop 'til Tuesday, he walked the red carpet at the event and partied with celebs.  "It was surreal," said George the morning after in a phone interview from his hotel room. "I was hanging out with Diddy at the same club and I walked by Nelly Furtado — I just love her!"  His national promotional tour kicks off in Vancouver tomorrow. By Wednesday he'll be performing in Toronto at MuchMusic HQ, where the station's music committee immediately added "Talk to Me" to heavy rotation — airing 15 to 30 times weekly — when they received it about two months ago, said senior music programmer Craig Halket.  "For an independent production, it was a world-class video," he explained of the clip, YouTubed at "They far exceeded their budget. Also, the song was really strong and he's a cute sort of guy with obvious appeal."  The same team sent the video — which features the distinctive half-Japanese George variously playing piano, caressing a love interest, shirtless and executing intricate hip-hop dance moves — to the top spot last month.  After just a week, The Killers replaced the newcomer at No. 1, but he says he's just getting started.  Born George Nozuka in New York, he was raised with six siblings mostly in Toronto by their mother, a Juilliard-trained dancer and sister of actress Kyra Sedgwick. While his two older sisters had little interest in the arts, George and his four younger brothers immersed themselves in dance, drama and music. At 12, he and two brothers formed a group called Brothers Love and stuck it out for four years, but "We didn't know how the industry worked and we weren't getting anywhere."

He attended a boy-band audition in Pickering and was one of three singers chosen for a group called One Avenue. They had a video that played YTV — "a couple of people saw it" — but indolence and infighting wrecked the act within a year, George said.  The frustrated youth, who excelled at piano, harmonica and guitar at Etobicoke School of the Arts, went to One Avenue's founder C.J. Huyer (of defunct pop trio 3Deep) with his complement of 35 original songs. "I told him that I was really serious about having a singing career and he agreed to work with me."  Huyer took him to L.A. to meet his long-time friend and Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough. Soon, George was signed as the first act of the pals' newly formed HC Entertainment management team/record label and working on an album while staying at Dorough's Hollywood Hills mansion.  "While we were developing the album I spent time listening to the classics — Elvis, Stevie Wonder — and studying the new sounds — Usher, Alicia Keys.  "There are songs on there that are just fun if you're young and you're going out on a Saturday night; but it was also important for me to create meaningful songs that connect with people ... I want to inspire people with my music and let them know that they are not alone."  The erstwhile fame (major and minor) of George's managers has eased his access — including the invite to the MTV Awards. He's spent a lot of time hobnobbing in California and was out of town when MuchMusic began airing the video in September.  "I came back and realized that people were starting to recognize me. It was really subtle at first, but since (the video) hit No. 1, I've been getting more requests for autographs, pictures and hugs."  The polite George demurs about all the attention he's now receiving from the opposite sex.  "It's really sweet, but I don't let it get to my head. I know it's about the song and the video, and their perception of me. I'm an entertainer, but when I'm not doing that, (I keep) to myself. I don't go out much.  "But it's nice that people in Toronto respect what I do. I want to make Canada proud because this is my home. It's not like since I have a song out I have to move from Toronto, or be seen in a cool car. I still take the subway."

Elton Salutes His 'Extended Family'

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

(Nov. 5, 2006)
Elton John couldn't have made a more concerted bid for honorary Canadian citizenship if he had opened his show at the Air Canada Centre by belting out our national anthem.  As the 59-year-old, London-based pop icon reminded the audience, he and Toronto partner David Furnish were among the first to take advantage of last year's legal recognition in Britain of same-sex civil unions.  That meant that John felt obligated to take time out from his performance to acknowledge attending members of his "extended family," a long list that ran to aunts, uncles and various other assorted relatives.  By extension, that Canadian family also included the rest of the audience at hand, a crowd that managed to fill every conceivable nook and cranny of the ACC, including all the seats behind the stage.  John even dedicated "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" to Ron Sexsmith, acknowledging the Toronto singer/songwriter as one of his favourite Canadian artists.  "It's so good to be here," the songwriter said. "It feels like coming home. I'm half-Canadian now, as you know. And I'm very happy about that."  John rewarded his pseudo-compatriots with a stellar performance, opening thunderously with the symphonic coupling of "Funeral for a Friend" and "Love Lies Bleeding."  Backed by a five-piece band that including familiar stalwarts Davey Johnstone on guitar and Nigel Olsson on drums, the singer/pianist continued in that crowd-pleasing vein by adding "Bennie and the Jets," "Philadelphia Freedom," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Tiny Dancer," all within the first half- dozen numbers of the night.  Most of the program was executed in similar fan-friendly fashion, an extended "Rocket Man," followed by "Daniel," "Levon," "Crocodile Rock" and the rest of the veteran performer's long catalogue of hits.

The hit parade was briefly interrupted by a mini-set from John's current disc, The Captain & the Kid, a sequel to 1975's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, both autobiographical albums written with long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin.  "It's one of the best records we've ever made," he said, adding, "not that you'd know anything about that because we've had a few problems with the record company."  During a show last week, John blasted his record label, Universal, presumably for not promoting the disc effectively, even begging to be released from his contract.  But, he said last night, "it's all sorted out now."  Instead, he directed his frustration at another target, introducing "Believe" as a protest song.  "It's a song about bigotry, hatred and intolerance," he said. "And just coming from the United States of America, I can tell you there's a lot of that going on there."  Clearly, John felt more at one with the world on this side of the border, although he did express concern that the legalization of gay marriage in Canada might be reversed by the current federal government.  "It would be such a shame because Canada is such a needed voice of tolerance in the world," he said.

Running with Scissors is a Good Thing

Source:  Kirk Cooper, Savannah Pictures

Running With Scissors” offers a sharp and a delightful time well spent at the movies. Never have I laughed as much as I did at any other film so far this year. As I exited the theatre I began to call a few more friends to set up dates for us to watch this film together. Those friends that I did not get a chance to call will hopefully forgive me while they read this review.

Directed by Ryan Murphy who has written and directed several successful episodes of the US cable show Nip/Tuck. In addition to directing this film, Murphy also co-wrote the screenplay from the original memoirs of Augusten Burroughs, one of the main characters in the film.

The film follows young Augusten played by
Joseph Cross and reveals his sometimes shocking experiences from this best selling memoir. Including that fact that he is the son of an alcoholic father Alex Baldwin and an unstable mother (Annette Bening), who handed him off to his mother's therapist, Dr. Finch (Brian Cox), where he spends his adolescent years as a member of Finch's bizarre extended family. A family that consists of Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow), the loyal sanctimonious daughter who can hear the thoughts of her cat, Nathalie, the frustrated yet scared daughter who refuses to step into reality and their brother Bookman (Joseph Fiennes) who suffers from voices in his head and co-dependency issues.    

Beyond the laughter, there are some really serious issues within this film such as child neglect, child abuse and drug abuse to name a few. These elements make the film an enlightening dramedy (drama/comedy). However, the writers delivered a clever balance in giving the audience enough of each subject matter to reflect on without the slightest thought of being preachy.

There are great performances all around. I can certainly see Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Annette Bening and supporting actress nominations for
Jill Clayburgh, who played Dr. Finch’s wife. However, Annette will have some fierce competition from Meryl Streep  "The Devil Wears Prada" for best actress (comedy) at the Globes.  

But don’t count Annette out just yet – she is an actress who over the past few years has selected fewer scripts and more challenging roles and has become a better actress in the process. In fact, she has made it known that she likes a challenge. From Bugsy to American Beauty to Being Julia, she has played some complicated and memorable women.

One such memorable scene in 'Running With Scissors" has Deirdre Burroughs (Annette Bening) about to be carted off to a mental hospital for examinations. As a result of being crammed with prescription drugs she imagines now in her place of serenity, slowly falling from above her head. As the snow gets heavier, Deirdre begins to spin with her arms straight out in the air as the 70’s track “Blinded By The Light” is played. Her actions and the accompanying music help to set the tone for the great irony that transpires once the door is kicked in and she is carted off. Not only does the film has great moments like this but it also has great songs to match its mood and pace.  “Running With Scissors” reminds us that a great film needs a great soundtrack.

Finally, what makes this film so precious is the fact that viewers will feel a little better knowing that the worse side of themselves does not come close to the characters in “Running With Scissors”. But don’t take my word for it, go out and see this film and decide for yourself, I am sure that you will be thankful for your sanity once this joyous romp is over.

T.O. Doctor Wins Giller

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker And Judy Stoffman, Entertainment Reporters

(Nov. 8, 2006) Vincent Lam, a Toronto East General doctor who wrote a collection of short stories called Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize last night.  Presenter Margaret Atwood said Lam had helped fight the SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003 and she said "medicine is a narrative art, just like fiction. Both have their fingers on life and death."  She also called his book "subtle in emotion and occasionally gruesome in humour."  Lam, 32, told the crowd he was "astounded and in many ways overcome" by winning the $40,000 literary prize and he hadn't dared to prepare any remarks in advance "on principle."  "I count myself a very fortunate person, but I have begun to realize that luck is not what it seems. It is either divine blessing or the kindness of people. Many who have been kind to me are in this room."  He continued, "My parents came to this country when multiculturalism was just beginning to be acknowledged. As their son and as the second generation, I am proud to be here."  He added that he was pleased to be on same stage as the evening's host Justin Trudeau, whose prime minister father, Pierre, had done so much for multiculturalism.  The Giller winner also thanked Atwood, whom he had met aboard a ship on an Arctic nature cruise. Lam, the ship's doctor, showed her some of his short stories and she was sufficiently impressed to help him find a publisher.

Lam was born in London, Ont., and raised in Ottawa, with roots in Vietnam's ethnic Chinese community.  Lam's linked stories, published by Doubleday Canada (the only major house in last night's field of five books), open a door into the world of successful, assimilated young Chinese-Canadian professionals, written with the authority of an insider.  The 12 tales in Lam's book follow these characters' path from medical school at the University of Toronto to the city's crowded hospitals where, as physicians, they face a variety of difficult patients.  His book was a break from the tradition of an older generation of Chinese-Canadian writers — Wayson Choy, Judy Fong Bates, Paul Yee, Fred Wah and others — whose fiction has painted a harsher reality of displacement, departure, exclusion and backbreaking menial jobs.  Lam said last night he had wanted to become a writer before pursuing a medical career, but he under-estimated how long it would take to become a doctor, delaying his publishing debut.  This year's Giller race was rated a tossup among five authors with relatively low profiles.  The others included Pascale Quiviger, a Montrealer who lives in Italy and England — she is married to a Labour MP — was shortlisted for The Perfect Circle, about the obsessive love of a Quebec woman for an Italian man, translated by Sheila Fischmann.  Gaetan Soucy was on the list for The Immaculate Conception, translated from French by Lazer Lederhendler.

Carol Windley, who lives in Nanaimo, B.C., was up for her story collection Home Schooling, and Montrealer Rawi Hage for De Niro's Game, set in his native Beirut in the early 1980s during the civil war.  Each finalist received $2,500.  The jury of ex-Giller winner Alice Munro, former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and novelist Michael Winter did not make their final decision until yesterday and, as usual, not even Jack Rabinovitch knew who they had chosen.  The awards gala at the Four Seasons Hotel was attended by 477 invited guests, most of them friends of philanthropist Rabinovitch.  Among the nibblers on steak and frites were Margaret Trudeau; opera singer Measha Brueggergosman; Liberal leadership hopeful Bob Rae; Moses Znaimer; British Labour MP Alan Simpson, whose wife, Quiviger, was a finalist; journalist Stevie Cameron; and actors Eric Peterson, Janet Wright, Wendy Crewson and Albert Schultz.


In The Thicke Of It One More Time

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Meredith Goldstein, The Boston Globe

(Nov. 5, 2006) Four years ago,
Robin Thicke was a hippie-haired pop producer trying to jump-start his own singing career.  He had survived boot camp in the radio world, penning tracks for artists such as Christina Aguilera and Mya. He had recorded an album — A Beautiful World — with a rock, funk, R&B, and pop mix that boasted a radio-friendly single, "When I Get You Alone."  The Los Angeles-born son of the TV actor and Wayne Gretzky pal from Canada, Alan Thicke, he even had a good stage name — truncating his moniker to the one-word "Thicke.''  Thicke was about to be the next big thing. But then he wasn't.  "I'm not R&B enough for R&B radio. I'm not hip hop enough for hip hop. I'm not rock enough for rock radio. Therein lies the wonderful struggle," says Thicke, now touring with John Legend.  Radio-friendly or not, "When I Get You Alone" never found a home on the airwaves. There was the matter of another young man with a similar sound, an ex-boy-band crooner named Justin Timberlake who had just released his own first album, Justified. He became a mega-star. Thicke fell off the map.  "The funny thing is, I'd been hearing stuff like that since I was 16," Thicke says of the 2002 buzz that he was on the verge of fame.  Now, the build-up and letdown may be happening again.  Now 29, Thicke released The Evolution of Robin Thicke last month with a moderate amount of fanfare.  Making the disc, he added stars from the world of rap and R&B, such as Lil' Wayne and Faith Evans. He was picked up by the Star Trak label run by the Neptunes, the production duo responsible for much of what's driving hit radio, from Gwen Stefani to Snoop Dogg.  Thicke's website touts a quote from the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams: "Robin Thicke is going to change music.''

The first single from Evolution — "Wanna Love U Girl" — features vocals by Williams, whose cameos, like producer Timbaland's, have become a good-luck charm for pop tracks. But the Thicke song, which was released shortly before the album, has yet to find regular rotation on U.S. radio stations.  "Radio doesn't love me," Thicke says of the airtime that is vital to becoming pop-star huge.  Rob Walker, who runs Star Trak with Williams, says it may take time.  "Robin has created amazing music," Walker says, via email. "And we think his music has great impact ... Everyone will catch up ... It will happen.''  Boston college radio's Alden Fertig says what may be stalling Thicke's arrival is that he's been given the narrow and unrecognized label of "soul."  He's plugging away. This past week, when the John Legend tour reached Baltimore, Thicke made an appearance (singing and signing) at a local record store. The week before, he was booked on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  "When I was 7 years old, I didn't say, `I want to have average success commercially,'" Thicke says. "My favourite artists were Michael Jackson and Prince. Of course, I want to be beloved and to have panties thrown at me. But I guess if you get 1,000 panties thrown at you by fans and you love what you're doing and making people feel good ... it may not be 10,000 panties, but it's a start.''

Talib Kweli Drums Up U.S. Tour

Excerpt from

(November 2, 2006) *Following his summertime jaunt with Mos Def and The Roots, rapper
Talib Kweli is preparing to hit the road again to promote his new album “Ear Drum,” the first release from his label Blacksmith Music (under Warner Bros). Once the Brooklyn MC wraps his current tour of the Far East, he’ll launch the U.S. leg Nov. 11 in Lancaster, PA. The artist will hit 15 cities before wrapping late December in Philadelphia.  Due in stores Nov. 7, “Ear Drum” has a title that was chosen for a specific reason by Kweli.  "The image of the ear and of the drum are powerful enough by themselves, but when you put them together, it's an instrument that's in your body that helps you hear. They're also two very simple, yet powerful words. I wanted to focus on finding a sound that makes you move, and that's where the word 'Ear Drum' popped in my head."  In other Kweli news, Warner Bros. Records/Blacksmith has launched a virtual community for the rapper in the 3D social network, Second Life, in which users, known as 'residents,' build and own their content online.

Created by Linden Lab in San Francisco, Second Life ( is a parallel universe existing in cyberspace. In this digital world, users create and dress up characters, build homes, form neighbourhoods and live out alternative versions of their lives in the 3D, computer-generated environment.  Anyone who logs in and creates a basic (free) membership in Second Life will be able to interact with the Brooklyn-bred rapper via his “avatar,” or virtual world persona. Created by Kweli himself, users can visit his Brooklyn brownstone, which will feature online amenities such as a pool table, bar area, chill-out room, and rooftop stage where his live concerts from around the country will be streamed.  Second Life users will also have exclusive access to new video content, which can be viewed from every floor in the brownstone, as well as material from "Ear Drum,"  To visit the Talib Kweli brownstone in Second Life visit

Shakira Steals Spotlight At Latin Grammy Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Nov. 3, 2006) NEW YORK —
Shakira dominated the Latin Grammy awards as she won a leading four trophies, including album of the year for Fijacion Oral Vol. 1 and song and record of the year honours for La Tortura, her smouldering duet with Alejandro Sanz, on Thursday night. Though Shakira, who also won best female pop vocal album, stole the spotlight at the event — gyrating her way through a rendition of “La Tortura” with her chest heaving and hips swaying — she also took the time to shine a light on one of the most heated issues in the United States, that of immigrants working in the country illegally. She threw her support to those trying to become citizens as they work without documentation. “I hope soon they will receive they recognition they deserve from the government,” said the Colombian superstar. Other multiple winners included the reggaeton group Calle 13 and Argentine rocker Gustavo Cerati, who both won two awards each. Cerati won best rock song for Crimen and best rock vocal album for Ahi vamos. Salsa legend Gilberto Santa Rosa took home his first Grammy every: best salsa album for Asi es nuestra Navidad, recorded with Gran Combo de Puerto Rico.

"I had the record as the most nominated without winning, so I'm super surprised," said Santa Rosa, during a show laced with salsa by Willie Colon, la Fania All-Stars, Andy Montanez and Tito Nieves. Calle 13 picked up awards for best music album and best short music video Grammy for its reggaeton song Atrevete te, te! Its members were ecstatic as they won, bouncing onstage to pick up the video award. “I'm honestly wetting myself,” Calle 13 rapper and lyricist Residente. “I'm very nervous. I want an arroz con habichuelas when I get to my house,” he said in reference to a Puerto Rican rice and bean specialty. Other winners included Mexican singer/accordion player Julieta Venegas, who was nominated for four awards. She won best alternative album for Limon y sal in the pre-televised awards ceremony. Under the Mexican regional award categories, Joan Sebastian took away the best banda album award for Mas alla del sol. The self-titled disc by Cafe de los Maestros won best tango album. The recording's Argentine producer, Gustavo Santaolalla, already won an Oscar this year for best original score on the movie Brokeback Mountain and recently composed music for the film Babel.

This year, New York's Madison Square Garden played host to the Latin Grammys, now in its sixth year. In the past, the show has alternated between Miami and Los Angeles. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg took to the stage to a Latin beat, escorted by several female dancers dressed in red. “Welcome to my house,” Bloomberg said in Spanish. The evening included performances from Ricky Martin, Andrea Bocelli, and a tribute to reggaeton and salsa. Thursday's show was broadcast by Univision television for the second straight year. Ratings lagged in 2004 when the Latin Grammy Awards were broadcast in English by CBS. But the show attracted more than five million watchers in 2005 — its first year in Spanish — up from about 3.2 million in 2004, the ratings agency Nielsen Media Research said. Musicians from Puerto Rico earned 33 Latin Grammy nominations, including all the nominations for best urban music album and best salsa album.

Legend Plays The Old Pro In New York

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(Nov. 2, 2006) Having hit up so many nightclubs and intimate venues in his roughly yearlong career run,
John Legend milked every swoon and cheer Monday night (Oct. 30) at New York's Nokia Theatre. At show's end, he advised his diverse legion about the "rules of encore" -- he'd retire to his dressing room but if he could hear the crowd loud enough from there, he'd have to come back out. Those were the rules.  Sure enough, when the Ohio-bred crooner/pianist vanished after performing his touching ballad "Ordinary People" and feigning goodbyes, the mob roared and stomped its feet, chanting "We want more." A placating Legend reappeared to perform the key-twinkling "Stay With You" and finally "So High," from his 2005 Grammy-winning debut "Get Lifted." The Kanye West protégé thanked his band and New York for jumpstarting his career. And it was clear Legend was a new artist no more.  The scene -- and the excitement -- was noticeably different from over a year ago when a then rookie Legend first graced the stage. This time, he was more assured and hammed-up, less nervous and unadulterated. You could tell he planned this one out (for "Slow Dance," he predictably selected a female member from the crowd to groove with). Now he also had a catalogue of classics to sift through, not to mention a loyal following that grasped every lyric and vocal shift (one guy knew the adlibs by heart and the security guard was bopping). It was hard to tell that Legend's sophomore disc "Once Again" had barely spent a week on the shelves.

Backed by a highly talented band, the singer kicked off his set with the gospel-esque "Heaven Only Knows" (from "Once Again") before launching into the equally upbeat "Let's Get Lifted," "Number One" ("Get Lifted") and his latest organ-infused single "Save Room." Throughout the night, he alternated between tracks from "Get Lifted" and "Once Again," switching to the other disc at the most precise moments. When the mood needed uplifting, he decided on "I Can Change" and "P.D.A. (We Don't Care)," and when things needed to be laidback, he offered the slow burners "Show Me" and "Again" (both from album two).  Much of "Once Again" finds Legend spinning nostalgic soul grooves into contemporary tales of love triangles and romantic trysts -- all of which boasted lovely background additions and lush instrumentation. For those who had not already bought the new disc, Legend performed all but two album cuts (one an interlude and the other, a back-from-war cut called "Coming Home"). He insisted that the new album scales back the adulterous spirit of "Get Lifted." And accordingly, he presented a short narrative, prefacing "Each Day Gets Better" with a chat about the fickleness of love, followed by a fusion of "Again" and "Another Again" and "Maxine," a song about spotting his girl with another man.  Opening for Legend was the rather out-of-place rapper Consequence (another Kanye signee) and the soulful Robin Thicke, who started off on the right foot -- seated at a piano in a genuine state. But things got iffy when the blue-eyed singer strutted and stomped about the stage, triggering comparisons to Justin Timberlake, from the moves down to the suit-plus-sneakers get-up. Still, Thicke upped the energy and his whispery falsetto could not be denied as he belted out smooth joints like "I Need You" and "Lost Without You," from his recent sophomore set "The Evolution Of Robin Thicke" (Star Trak/Interscope).  Despite Thicke having been in the game longer, Legend was notably more focused. At one point, he crudely mentioned that "Once Again" was expected to sell about 225,000 copies in its first week, insisting that everyone tell their friends and that he would not be satisfied until it hit 5 million sales. Perhaps the old Legend would have been happy with just the love -- but it seems Kanye has taught him well.

Paul Porter: Hip Hop's Hang Low Image

Excerpt from - Paul Porter

(November 2, 2006) *Hip hop the musical art form of self-expression is dead. Long gone are the lyricists, replaced with the lyrically challenged, pumping materialism, hate, sex and stupidity daily to millions.  Perception is everything and America's corporate minds once again have found a way to control hip hop and who and what you hear and see. Control the media and you will control the messenger.  History has proven time and time again the 'what you see is what you get' philosophy. Hip hop images are now carefully managed, produced and marketed. Television, news, film, radio and video dictate similar themes; perception is everything.  A recent football brawl between the University of Miami and Florida International received a blitz of national media attention. Miami and FIU rosters both have predominantly black student athletes. The consistent images of black on black violence aired hundreds of times on television. On the same day, Dartmouth and Holy Cross had a similar football brawl but it never made national news? Of course, both teams are predominantly white at superior learning institutions. Is it skin color, winning percentage that made one story larger than the other? Or is it the gate keepers of corporately owned media picking and choosing what you see?  Music has always played a key role in shaping minds and attitudes. Black America's obsession with song started unifying minds during slavery. Slave owners could see the musical talent of their herds of black sheep and featured a select few to entertain with song and dance. Not much has changed in the way of music or media in America since then. The record industry is the new 'master,' now the vehicle being that of hip hop awarding recording deals to one hit wonder teens, touting them shamelessly like Motown featured Michael Jackson.  Geffen Records signed a fifteen year-old rapper named Jibbs from St. Louis. Jibbs first single "Chain Hang Low" was a huge success receiving major airplay from pop radio, MTV and BET. Jibbs ringtone also reached platinum status (over one million) but his first week sales on his CD were only 46,000. Is this another example of radio not getting it right? A fifteen year old spitting lyrics on huge chains? Is that real hip hop or simply controlling its content?

Media radio, television and film still answer ultimately to white owners. Although the land of the free boasts the "American dream," which is merely a carefully controlled mix of government and wealth controlled media. Hollywood has shaped the minds of a nation. Ask any American Indian how westerners have portrayed this nation's original inhabitants. How does the government and our education system still celebrate Columbus Day as if America was a uninhabited land?  Commercialized hip hop is today's vehicle portraying young African Americans as a modern day minstrel show. The constant barrage of materialism is too much for young minds to process while adults profit. Many of today's hip hop stars vilified MC Hammer as a commercial sell out, although Hammer shared his wealth by employing over one hundred African Americans. Hip hop since that time has quickly turned into a Madison Avenue endorsement soundtrack, selling cars, clothes, alcohol and bling. Corporate America is playing hip hop like a new board game, a living "black monopoly" carefully censored and corrupted.   Controlling hip hop's voice creates wealth and defuses the original source of lyrical power, strength, struggle and unity. Although slavery has long been outlawed, corporate imaging continues as Americas power structure. Attaining freedom took centuries and garnering wealth and equality for black America is not a story you will ever see on BET. When Bob Johnson launched BET in 1980 it was never embraced by corporate advertisers. As BET continued to build with "the more you watch the less you'll learn" programming it was ultimately bought by Viacom, the parent company of MTV and VH1. Since then BET has proudly targeted teens with an abundance of negative images.  Hip hop is a multi billion dollar industry without one owner of African descent. Yes, of course hip hop's mainstream decapitating culture pays relative wealth to a select few Stepin Fetchit type characters. But if you're waiting for Russell Simmons, Puffy or Jay-Z to speak up on hip hop's abrupt change, don't hold your breath. In today's culture, money in the hands of a select few silences the empowerment of the masses. Hip hop is the ghetto's new Amerikkkan dream replacing sports with a laundry list of young one hit wonders.  In American history not one musical genre has delivered more materialism, sex, violence and misogyny than hip hop. And the most powerful aspect in this analysis is those who profit are disproportionately white, who continue daily breaking federal law. Pay for play(payola) is against the law and now widely proven. CBS Radio the nations third largest radio broadcaster recently settled a New York state payola probe for two million dollars.

Hip hop's largest names are never mentioned in Hewlett Packard television adds. You will never read about Sumner Redstone, Jimmy Iovine, Edgar Bronfman or Lowry Mays when it comes to hip hop. Don't label me a racist because the list of black names that remain shut in the industry are also inexcusable.  Corporate America has paid top dollar to buy the public airwaves and the voices that lead the sheep. In urban radio, local programming quickly turned to national syndication. No other format in music radio has higher a percentage of syndication than black targeted formats. By not only limiting the ownership ratio by limiting the voices, issues like payola or degenerative hip hop will never be discussed. Unfortunately, Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, Michael Baisden and Al Sharpton broadcast daily on conglomerates that profit hip hop. Free speech is not an option if you continue to work in corporate America. American voices are often controlled like radio play lists.  If you ever listen to the radio or watched a music video, you have been lied to for years. The illegal practice of payola has created music's largest stars. Corporately controlled venom that effectively killed hip hop. I am sure you have questioned the constant barrage of limited themes and lyrics. Hip hop has been stuck for close to a decade with hand picked stars and images. Record companies have been telling radio and video outlets for years what and when to play a song or video.  It has been relatively easy to brainwash black America. Twenty years after "The Cosby Show" reached number one on network television, Viacom's VH1 has Flavor Flav as the number one series for African Americans. Cosby's outrage on black America fell on mainly deaf ears already manipulated and controlled after decades of negative processing.  The pay for play system is quite effective targeting youth like Ronald McDonald hooked children on fast food. The same sorry songs from coast to coast over and over again, but once again black America continues to roll over without a fight. You will never hear a payola story on the radio or see it on TV because the corporate gate keepers own that too.  In 2004, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer launched a state wide payola probe. The investigation has finally connected the dots. Records and radio have been breaking federal law for decades and Spitzer has all the proof. After the four major record distribution companies settled for millions on October 19Th, Spitzer's office announced a settlement with CBS Radio.  The FCC have failed to pursue prosecution on a national level stuck in a political quagmire.

The Game’s New Album 'Doctor’s Advocate' Drops On November 14

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(November 2, 2006) *
Jimmy ‘Henchmen’ Rosemond, the Haitian born manager for multi-platinum selling rapper The Game, is expecting big things when the Game’s sophomore album Doctor’s Advocate (Geffen Records) is released on November 14.  ‘We are looking to sell at least a million copies in the first week. The last time we did over 600,000 just on the controversy that was brewing between him and 50 Cent. Now that the Game has established himself as a bonafide star, and the anticipation that has been built up over the past year, we are looking forward to big things from this album,’ Rosemond said in a recent interview while on a one week vacation here in Jamaica at the Round Hill hotel.  Rosemond, who got his start in the music business in the 1990’s where he promoted parties as well as industry related events including the popular How Can I Be Down hip hop/R&B summit, has managed a list of top acts over the years.  Among his credentials are the R&B duo Groove Theory, Salt N Pepa, Mario Winans, Sharissa, and R&B singer Tank. The Game's 2005 debut album The Documentary which spewed the hit singles Hate It or Love It, This Is How We Do, Dreams and Put You on the Game, sold over five million copies worldwide.  The street single for Doctor's Advocate, It's Okay (One Blood) featuring veteran Jamaican reggae singer Junior Reid, exploded at US radio stations in August and quickly generated a firestorm of interest. The song cracked Billboard's Hot 100 chart, as well as its Rap, Hip-Hop and R&B Singles charts, The video for It's Okay (One Blood), which follows The Game on a stroll through the grittier streets of Los Angeles, is receiving heavy airplay on MTV and BET.
The first official single for Doctor's Advocate is Let's Ride (Strip Club). The song debuted two weeks ago on Billboard’s R&B Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart. It was produced by hit-making producer Scott Storch.  Henchmen explained how Junior Reid got involved with the Its Okay (One Blood) single.  "At first we used a sample from One Blood with Junior’s voice. But later on we decided to bring him into the recording studio to voice the song all over and that’s how it happened. He calls me every day to say how thankful he is and how much the song has been re-opening doors for him even with show promoters."   Doctor’s Advocate will feature collaborations with Kanye West and Mary J Blige among others.  ‘The last time around I had to shock 'em. I had to let everyone know that I was the new force bringing back the West Coast, and that no one could ignore me. This time I had one thing in mind, which is greatness. I think the world will feel my hunger,’ the Game commented.    Since the release of his debut album Documentary, the Game has been busy with several projects. He has released various mix tapes, worked alongside Lorenz Tate, Meagan Goode and Tyrese Gibson in the Rogue Pictures film, Waist Deep; and released his Hurricane sneaker line, made by 310 Motoring. He began rapping in 2001 and has never looked back. His barbed and bold freestyles caught the ear of top-notch hip-hop producer Dr Dre, who signed him to the Aftermath label in 2003 and assumed the executive producer chair for his debut.  Born Jayceon Taylor, The Game hails from the infamous Compton in California.

"My son Harlem is the inspiration for everything I do," said the Game. "He was born at a time when things were hard for me. I came into this rap game to secure my family's future financially. Making music was second." He said he got his moniker from his grandmother. "I was a real active kid and I was smart and played a lot of sports. My grandmother said I should be game for anything, so that's where the name came from," the rapper explained. With his much publicized falling out with one time G-Unit member 50 Cent still fresh, The Game offered no comment about the situation. Asked if there was anything that he would change about his career and his life, he said, "I don't have regrets. I don't live with regrets", adding that he wouldn't change a thing.

The Honens Piano Competition Crowns A New 'Complete Artist'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Alexandra Gill

(Nov. 6, 2006) VANCOUVER — The
Honens International Piano Competition -- the classical world's closest equivalent to Canadian Idol -- would like to present Minsoo Sohn, the first-place laureate of this year's prestigious triennial edition and star in the making. The 30-year-old South Korean captured the top prize on Friday night at Calgary's Jack Singer Concert Hall. The two-evening round of final concerto performances concluded the unique 16-day piano competition, which seeks to discover and develop a new generation of "complete artist," as musically accomplished and versatile as they are elegantly comported and stylishly groomed. It's all extremely fortunate for Sohn, who could probably use a new tuxedo (or at least some good dry cleaning) after his physically exhausting rendition of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor on Thursday night with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin. When Sohn took his bow -- completely spent, drenched with sweat and hanging onto the edge of the New York Steinway for support -- an electrified audience leapt to its feet with rapturous applause for his deeply passionate and intellectually mature interpretation of the oft-misunderstood barn-burner. "His concerto was among the strongest events of the entire competition," said jury chairman William Aide. "He also had the highest score, which indicates that his consistency throughout the five components was the most reliable." And consistency -- throughout the rigorously mathematical jury scoring system -- is what it takes become one of the top three laureates, who are granted not just cash prizes but an even more lucrative three-season artist and career development program that includes international performance engagements, an eight-week residency at the Banff Centre, promotion, publicity, artist management and the production of a recording. "We're not looking for the kind of sensational virtuoso that galvanizes an audience so they're so overwhelmed by the rush that nerve endings are practically sliced off," says Aide, the former head of the keyboard division at the University of Toronto's faculty of music. "We're looking for someone with comprehensive versatility -- someone who has unbelievable technical prowess in the service of the score and can convey a commanding personal response to the score.

"The thrilling thing is to hear a familiar score in a way which is not grotesquely eccentric, but is renewed. At that point, we just close our scores and listen." The concerto performance, while glamorous, is but one part of the arduous competition, which requires the contestants to prove that they have what it takes to sell themselves in the overcrowded field of concert pianists and build a sustainable career. "I've been around the competition world enough to know that winning is not the only way to be a true artist," Sohn explained, the day before his finals concerto performance. Too often, as many of the competitors noted, contest winners simply disappear without ever being heard from again. For the quarter-finals, which began on Oct. 16, the 21 pianists were required to perform two concerts: a solo recital, which included a newly commissioned work by Canadian Heather Schmidt (with improvisation); and a chamber music recital with violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon and cellist Roman Borys of Canada's celebrated Gryphon Trio. Although chamber music is a common requirement in other piano competitions, it's not usually included so early. The Honens structure thus helps weed out the prima donnas who might not think collaboration is worthy. In the semifinals, the 12 remaining pianists performed a 65-minute recital during which they collaborated in ten minutes of lieder with Canadian tenor Colin Balzer. Honens is the only piano competition of its calibre -- among the top ten in the world -- that requires vocal accompaniment. "It's an eccentric event," says Serhiy Salov. The fifth-place laureate, originally from the Ukraine and now living in Montreal, was delightfully baffled when he learned that the competitors were also expected to perform encores. "The whole atmosphere is more of a recital. That makes it much less nerve-wracking for the contestants. It's what other competitions should strive for." Eccentric, perhaps. But the encores and lack of bloodsport help demonstrate what sort of personalities the musicians have onstage and how they might contribute to the overall audience experience.

And according to Honens artistic director Stephen McHolm, a co-operative personality, willingness to hustle and stage presence are all absolutely necessary to make it these days. "When you walk out onstage, you can't be shuffling your feet, you can't be looking at the ground, and you can't be wearing ill-fitting clothes," says McHolm, 35, who succeeded Andrew Raeburn as director in 2004. The competition launched in 1991 with a $5-million start-up donation from Calgary philanthropist and music enthusiast Esther Honens. "I'm not saying we're sexing up classical music, but when you see a young person who is stylish and confident and has it together going out onstage, the audience feels the magic in the air. "Musicianship is still the most important thing. But if they're going to get ahead, they need the balls to sell themselves." So when Sohn accepted his prize on Friday night, the journey had really just begun. After a well-deserved weekend of rest, he, along with the second- and third-place laureates -- Hinrich Alpers of Germany and Hong Xu of China, respectively -- are now on their way to a complete makeover. Their first week of career development includes a consultation with a stylist, shopping for performance clothes, a photo shoot with a fashion photographer and a visit to the Banff Centre, where they will be encouraged to start thinking about how to expand their repertoire and develop a niche. There is also a full day of pampering at the spa. "A spa?" Sohn said on Friday night, still stunned by his victory and seemingly offended by such frivolity. "Is that mandatory?" Probably not. A moment later, he smiled. And like a complete artist, who is nimble, versatile and open to growth, quickly added: "There was a mineral springs that I saw in Lake Louise. It looked very tempting."

At 65, He's A Complete Unknown

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Robert Everett-Green

(Nov. 6, 2006)
Bob Dylan seems to be everywhere this year, showing up in books, documentaries, DVDs, radio shows and even on Broadway, where Twyla Tharp's new dancing musical has been praised almost as thinly as George Bush's performance in Iraq. The man at the centre of this multimedia storm arrived at London's John Labatt Centre on Friday, for one more show in the never-ending tour he began nearly 20 years ago. Dylan today is a walking advertisement for the power of persistence. He was widely seen as a shadow of his past self in the early nineties, but he played on, and in 1997 began a three-album resurgence that happily coincided with the rise of a stock-taking mentality among the generation that first made a fuss over him four decades ago. And yet he can claim never to have needed a comeback, because he was always on a stage somewhere, growling through the highlights and the dusty corners of his huge songbook. He has survived in part because he's the master of his solitude, which can't be broken down by any amount of criticism, or even by the kind of adulation shown by the capacity crowd at the Labatt Centre. Now as ever, Dylan gives what he chooses, not what others expect. Fifty years of putting on shows (he's now 65) have not made him a showman. When an old favourite such as Like a Rolling Stone appeared during Friday's concert, it was altered almost beyond recognition. He abandoned even the most distinctive features of the old melody (“how does it feeeeel?”) and delivered the song in the mannered, rhetorical mode he favours for everything right now: a partly sung, partly spoken stream of rushed syllables, sudden upward swoops, and guttural falls. His current road band (the same group of veterans with whom he made his recent disc, Modern Times) made no attempt to recreate the sound of the recorded versions of Dylan's older tunes. Their job, on the contrary, was to complete the ongoing public experiment of seeing what would happen to the old songs in the sound-world of Dylan today. For the past decade, the Dylan sound has been big, crafty, and impossible to categorize, seeming both expansively new and ruggedly old. On Friday, the band (guitarists Denny Freeman and Stu Kimball, steel guitarist / violinist Donnie Herron, drummer George Receli and bassist Tony Garnier) seemed to have unlimited mobility through the ocean of styles that Dylan fishes in. Almost everything they did could be related to some kind of past music, but never exclusively. The new song Thunder on the Mountain, for instance, had the swagger and blare of rockabilly, but the romping boogie beat seemed almost like something out of New York's iconic Savoy Ballroom. As Garnier spun his upright bass, I half expected to see someone in the dancing crowd try the lindy hop. That's what keeps Dylan sounding fresh, apart from the arresting puzzlements of his lyrics. Unlike a straightforward retro artist, he exploits all his inherited traditions simultaneously. Sometimes a gap appeared between the sense of the old song and its new costuming. Maggie's Farm opened the show with a rolling, triumphal sound that had nothing much in common with the embattled tone of the lyrics, which are about resisting a harsh work boss on a non-unionized farm.

The literally new seemed to interest Dylan very little. He played nothing from his new album, Modern Times, until the 110-minute set was halfway done, and in the end did only as many songs from that disc as from Bringing It All Back Home (1965).  He performed the whole show from behind a keyboard, facing a front corner of the stage. He never touched a guitar, kept his long black coat buttoned all night, and had his band in a formal-looking wardrobe of brown suits and black hats. The acoustics of the relatively cozy Labatt Centre were as good as any stadium's could be, but still one has to wonder what the appeal of these venues is for Dylan, apart from the size of the box office. His lyrics can run on for many verses without the rallying anchor of a chorus.  If you couldn't remember all 132 lines of It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), there was no way you could catch them in that resonant space, with his rapid, garbled, short-breathed way of delivering them. You were left to contemplate the heavy groove laid down by the band, the narrow variation of sounds and gestures in Dylan's voice, or the paradoxical concept of a singing poet who arranges almost nightly for the concealment of his verse. He's still a mystery, in short, though he performed that mystery in a way that was never dull. This show didn't really spread wings and fly until the encores, however, when a back banner unfurled and the band seemed to loosen its collars a bit. Was that for our benefit, or were they simply responding to the approaching end of their labours? For Dylan and his cohorts, professionalism means never having to say what you're doing or why, only doing it. Bob Dylan plays the Air Canada Centre in Toronto tomorrow, and Montreal's Bell Centre on Wednesday.

Big Bub -- Involved in a ‘Tug of War’

Excerpt from - By Deardra Shuler

(November 7, 2006) *There are some folks born with the creative gene.  It’s as if the cosmos connected them to the wellspring of music and it flows through them like an endless stream.  There is no doubt that
Big Bub is endowed with an infinite river of talent whether via writing, arranging, producing, or singing. Formerly with the Gents, Big Bub was discovered by Motown’s Andre Harrell, who signed him to the music giant.  Presently promoting his new CD “Tug of War,” Bub talked about Side “A” and “B.” “The R&B side is entitled “Living in the Flesh,” the gospel side is called “Died of the Flesh.” My CD mirrors the spiritual tug of war with the secular world and the gospel world that is going on within me right now” explained Big Bub. Raised by an evangelist mother who could also sing, Big Bub started singing in Church at 5.  His father and brother were also musically inclined.  At age 17, in 1988, he began performing with the group Today.  Today had 2, #1 hits, which sold nearly 2 million records.   “I started my career 5 months after I graduated high school. I was already playing Madison Square Garden at 17.  I was overwhelmed.  Everything was a blur because the success came so fast for us.  We actually changed the whole music era in the late1980s.  We did the first Keith Sweat album, Al B. Sure‘s album and then I wrote “My Prerogative” for Bobbie Brown and “Gotta Believe” for Mary J. Blige and the list goes on.  It was amazing!” remarked the prolific songwriter/arranger and composer. Big Bub went solo recording with Sylvia Roane for East West Records and also appearing in a Dr. Dre film entitled “Who’s the Man.”  At 24, Big Bub became Vice President of Motown for 4 years.  “I was with Motown as an artist initially, left them, and then returned as VP.  I started writing for Mary J. Blige, Blackstreet, Boy George, The Jacksons, Horace Brown, Johnny Gil, et al.  Almost everyone I wrote for had a hit.  I even wrote for Tom Jones.  That white man has soul!  It’s been a long road, occasionally a hard road but a fun road for sure” commented Bub.

Big Bub has a unique way of writing lyrics.  He simply shows up at the recording studio and writes the music while recording.  “The words just come to me. I occasionally have writers block but 75 to 80% of the time lyrics and melodies just pop into my head.  I hear the melody in my head, have the producer play it and it’s a go” stated Big Bub concerning his creativity.  “I love and have a passion for music.  In fact, I am planning on touring with my CD TUG OF WAR soon” claimed the singer.  “I took a rest for a time. Folks haven’t seen me for awhile so they want to me to perform.  I’m a performer too although I have been writing a lot.  People say I have been cheating them of my vocal skills since I had been writing for various artists and sitting behind a corporate desk.  I have been told its time for my own album” said BB who responded with TUG OF WAR. Big Bub created more than 56 records as the VP of A&R at Motown and traveled often.  “I was away from my family a lot.  I am married with children.  I try to be with them as much as possible but my job often takes me away.  I met my wife at Chaz & Wilson in Virginia Beach.  I just saw her and she was nice and quiet and so we became friends.  In fact, we were friends for a year before we became romantic.  Folks said find a girl who could sing but I said whatever God had in store for me would be the woman I marry, even if she worked at Winkie Dinkie Dogs,” laughed Big Bub.  “I lived in Greenwich, Ct for years but now I live in South Carolina with my wife and kids. “I am still writing for different artists.  I write for the artists on my music label, Drake Web.  Now that I have artists on my label, I have to give them some of that hotness, too.  I have an artist named Valerie Wit who is an R&B artist and another singer Philip Bryant who is gospel.  Another of my gospel artists, Izzy, is doing well on Billboard.  He is presently No. 22.  I am also looking for a country group and a Rock group.  I want to keep my label diverse and universal,” says Big Bub who writes music for every musical genre and even the occasional jingle. “I can hear music in my head. When you are creative like that, you are in a zone.  I sometimes take the music to bed with me.  I will be in bed and my wife will ask ‘Boy, what record are you doing?’  I’m practically creating music in my sleep” laughed the inexhaustible talent.     “Sometimes, my fans get overly enthusiastic.  I remember once at Great Adventure in New Jersey, people ran up to me and nearly stampeded me.  It got kind of scary.  Sometimes, folks look up to artists as if they are Gods and I don’t play that.  It got crazy and I decided it was time to take a respite.  I was about to sign a major million dollar contract but I walked away from it. People couldn’t understand that.  I heard God so ever clear.  I felt him in my heart for real.  He was in my ear, heart, and mind.  He was ever present and it just blew me away.  So, I took time off and spent some time with God.  My new CD is the result. I think folks will love the blend of R&B and gospel.  It works!” See

Midday Culture Draws Big Crowds - Offerings A Blend Of Music, Dance

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

(Nov. 3, 2006) There's a new lunchtime sensation in town, with a line-up at the door and standing-room only. The soul-nourishing menu is entirely calorie-free, and you'll return to your afternoon routine feeling rested and refreshed.  Best of all, it's free.  Unlike many things that sound too good to be true, these daytime events at the
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the real deal. There is music (of all sorts), dance and lectures connected to the work of the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada.  Yesterday's crowd was at capacity, filling the steps, walkways and upper-level chairs of the amphitheatre. They heard a selection of art songs performed by the opera company's resident young talents.  A COC spokesperson said that organizers on Tuesday had to turn away about 100 people. This is unprecedented for a daytime concert series, and a sign that the new opera house is making its presence heard as well as seen.  For many yesterday, it was the first opportunity to hear three male additions to the Ensemble Studio. For all, it was a showcase of excellent homegrown artistry.  The standout pieces were three Elizabethan poems set to music by 75-year-old Toronto composer Derek Holman. He wrote this song cycle, A Lasting Spring, two years ago as a memorial to Nicholas Goldschmidt, who spent five decades tirelessly promoting music in Canada. Holman dedicated the composition to Nicholas's widow Sheila, who was also present yesterday.

COC rehearsal coach Liz Upchurch accompanied tenor Lawrence J. Wiliford, who excellently replaced Michael Colvin as Guglielmo on the opening night of the current production of Così fan tutte.  The execution of Holman's frankly sensual music was fascinating. Upchurch dug into the piano part with panache, while Wiliford's light, controlled singing floated over top.  With Upchurch still at the keyboard, soprano Virginia Hatfield sang Benjamin Britten's On This Island cycle, with words from the pen of W.H. Auden, written in 1937.  The audience was then introduced to bass-baritone Andrew Stewart, and baritones Justin Welsh and Jon-Paul Décosse, who tackled Ralph Vaughan Williams's nine gorgeous Songs of Travel, with Kathryn Tremills on piano.  Having three very different (and uneven) singers tackle one man's life story was not a great idea, as it destroyed the songs' emotional arc.  Given the intensity of both the training and experience that members of the Ensemble Studio get, it will be interesting how these three artists develop.

Hidden Beach Recordings Inks Deal With Universal Music Group Distribution (UMGD)

Source:  Universal Music Group/ Diaspora

Santa Monica, CA -
Hidden Beach Recordings (HBR) and Universal Music Group Distribution (UMGD), a division of Universal Music Group, the world's leading music company, have entered into a distribution agreement, it was jointly announced by Hidden Beach Founder/CEO Steve McKeever, and Jim Urie, President, Universal Music Group Distribution (UMGD).  The deal provides for UMGD to distribute the independent record label's product throughout North America and covers all HBR's subsidiaries such as the Hidden Beach Celebrations Series, Hidden Beach International, and Still Waters, the label's inspirational imprint.    "We are very happy to partner with a company whose strength and reach is matched by its vision and innovative spirit," stated McKeever.  "Jim and his team's understanding and appreciation of this special business mirrors our own, and Universal provides the ideal setting for us to unveil 'Chapter Two' of the Hidden Beach experience."  "I've wanted to work with Steve and his team for some time," commented Urie. "Over the past few years, Hidden Beach has experienced great success, thanks in part to Steve's unique vision and his dynamic roster of artists. He's a true entrepreneur, and Hidden Beach is exactly the kind of music company we want to partner with at UMGD."

Based in Santa Monica, CA, Hidden Beach Recordings publicly bowed onto the entertainment scene in 2000 with the introduction of multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning vocal sensation Jill Scott.  The label went on to release projects from such standout artists as award-winning songwriter/vocalist Brenda Russell, Kindred the Family Soul, the trend setting Unwrapped series (Volumes. 1-4), saxman Mike Phillips, songtress Lina, gospel legend/Grammy-winner BeBe Winans, Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker, and trombone maestro Jeff Bradshaw, among others.  The first offering under the new partnership was the October 17 release of TribalJazz, the multi-cultural jazz group led by John Densmore, the legendary drummer and co-founder of the seminal rock band The Doors; slated next is the hotly anticipated Hidden Beach Recordings Box Set of Unwrapped Vols. 1-4, scheduled for a November 21 street date.  These releases will be followed in 2007 with the debut of new Hidden Beach artists including vocalist/musician Keite Young, singer Leigh Jones, singer/guitarist Peter Black, and the Still Waters releases of inspirational song stylist Onitsha, and talented vocalist Sunny Hawkins.    The New Year will also bring a new studio album from Grammy-winner Jill Scott, as well as a specialty compilation release of joint efforts between Scott and an eclectic array of hip hop, soul, instrumental, jazz, pop and gospel artists.  The disc of wide-ranging collaborations shines a spotlight on the singer’s incredible diversity as she has teamed over the years with the likes of Sergio Mendes and of the Black Eyed Peas, Chris Botti, George Benson, Al Jarreau and Kirk Franklin, Lupe Fiasco, Common, The Roots and Will Smith.  Also returning in 2007 will be such Hidden Beach favourites such as Kindred, Mike Phillips and Jeff Bradshaw.

In the span of just a few short years, HBR has amassed a loyal and growing fan base, and has garnered numerous awards and accolades for both its artistic achievements as well as its cutting edge marketing exploits.  The label's groundbreaking college intern program has been hailed as a model for the industry.     Universal Music Group Distribution handles the distribution and sales for such labels as Universal Motown Records Group, Island Def Jam Music Group, Roadrunner, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Machete Music, MCA Nashville, Universal South, Lost Highway, Mercury Nashville, Verve Music Group, Universal Classics, Universal Music Latino, Universal Music Enterprises, Hip-O, UTV, Univision Music Group, DreamWorks, Disa, ABKCO, Hollywood, Lideres Entertainment, Lyric Street, RMM, Thump, Ark 21, Rounder, Fonovisa, Varese Sarabande, Walt Disney, VI Music and Viva Discos. UMVD also handles the distribution and sales for Vivendi Visual Entertainment, the company's home entertainment division, and Fontana, its independent distribution arm.  

About Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group is the world's largest music company with wholly owned record operations or licensees in 75 countries.  Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, one of the industry's largest global music publishing operations. Universal Music Group consists of record labels Decca Record Company, Deutsche Grammophon, DreamWorks Records, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost Highway Records, MCA Nashville, Mercury Nashville, Mercury Records, Philips, Polydor, Universal Music Latino, Universal Motown Records Group, and Verve Music Group as well as a multitude of record labels owned or distributed by its record company subsidiaries around the world.  The Universal Music Group owns the most extensive catalogue of music in the industry, which is marketed through two district divisions, Universal Music Enterprises (in the U.S.) and Universal Strategic Marketing (outside the U.S.).  Universal Music Group includes eLabs, the new media and technologies division, and Universal Music Mobile.  Universal Music Group is a unit of Vivendi, a global media and communications company.

About Hidden Beach

Founded by music veteran Steve McKeever, Hidden Beach Recordings is an independent record label based in Santa Monica, CA.  Along with introducing music sensation Jill Scott and saxophonist Mike Phillips, Hidden Beach is also home to trombonist Jeff Bradshaw, husband and wife-led group Kindred the Family Soul, songstress Lina, singer/songwriter/guitarist Peter Black, and vocalist/musician Keite Young, among many others.  Visit for more information on Hidden Beach Recordings.

Live Nation Completes Acquisition Of House Of Blues

Source:  Universal Music Group

November 6, 2006 — LOS ANGELES, CA — Live Nation (NYSE: LYV), the world’s leading live entertainment company, announced today that it has completed its previously announced acquisition of House of Blues.  With this acquisition, Live Nation now owns, operates and/or has booking rights for more than 170 venues, including the addition of ten “House of Blues”-branded small-sized music venues in the major markets of Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, Cleveland, Orlando, Myrtle Beach and Atlantic City; The Commodore Ballroom, a small-sized music venue in Vancouver; and eight amphitheatres in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Cleveland and Toronto.  “The House of Blues brand is one of the most highly recognizable names in live music and we are excited about the strong foothold House of Blues provides us in the small-sized music venue segment of the market,” said Live Nation President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino.   “This acquisition also extends our music venue portfolio into Canada and amphitheatre presence into key markets in the western United States, complementing our already strong East coast venues.”

The total purchase price for the deal, including reimbursement for development capital expenditures and working capital adjustments, was approximately $354 million.  Live Nation financed the acquisition with a combination of cash on hand, borrowings under its revolving credit facility and a new term loan as provided for under its existing credit agreement. Live Nation will release its third quarter 2006 financial results after market hours on Tuesday, November 7, 2006, and will host a teleconference to discuss its third quarter 2006 financial results and its acquisition of House of Blues that same day at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.  To access the teleconference, please dial 888-802-8579 (U.S.) or 973-633-6740 (International) ten minutes prior to the start time and reference passcode 8007195.  The teleconference will also be available via live webcast on the company’s website located at under “About Us.”  A replay of the teleconference will be available through Tuesday, November 14, 2006, and can be accessed by dialling 877-519-4471 (U.S.) or 973-341-3080 (International), passcode 8007195.  The webcast will also be archived on the company’s website for 30 days.

About Live Nation

Live Nation is the world’s leading live entertainment company, annually connecting more than 67 million fans with their favourite performers at over 36,000 events.  We are the largest producer of live concerts in the world, the second-largest venue management company and have a rapidly growing online presence.  Live Nation creates superior experiences for artists and fans, regularly producing tours for the biggest superstars, including The Rolling Stones, Madonna, U2 and Coldplay.  Globally, we own, operate and/or have booking rights for more than 170 venues, including the House of Blues-branded music venues and prestigious locations such as San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium, Jones Beach in New York and London’s Apollo Theatre and Wembley Arena.  Live Nation’s websites collectively are the second most popular entertainment event websites in the United States , according to Nielsen//NetRatings.  Headquartered in Los Angeles , California , Live Nation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange , trading under the symbol “LYV.”  For more information regarding concerts near you, Live Nation and its businesses, please visit our website at


Mary J. Blige Gathers Greatest Hits

Excerpt from

(November 3, 2006) *Geffen Records has collected a number of classic hits from
Mary J. Blige for a new retrospective, "Reflections: The Journey," due Dec. 12. The track list has yet to be announced, but Billboard reports the set will be preceded by a new song “We Ride,” which is scheduled to arrive at U.S. radio outlets this week.  Another new MJB song, "Never Gonna Break My Faith," features Aretha Franklin and appears on the soundtrack to the upcoming film “Bobby,” due in theatres Nov. 23. It is unclear if the Bryan Adams-penned track will also appear on "Reflections: The Journey." Blige will promote the album in yet-to-be announced holiday performances, Billboard reports.

Vanessa Bell Armstrong Releases New CD

Excerpt from

(November 3, 2006) Seven time Grammy nominee
Vanessa Bell Armstrong will release her highly anticipated album Walking Miracle, on EMI Gospel February 20, 2007. The epic songstress returns front and center stage with her an awe-inspiring, ultramodern full length CD.  Time bears no stance on the voice of a true gospel historian, “When I started out, I was a contemporary vocalist however the late Thomas Whitfield mixed it up with a traditional feel and since then I never went far from that,” Armstrong explained, when discussing the range of traditional and contemporary blends on the new LP.    “I love the contemporary and I love the traditional … to me the time-honoured sounds of gospel music is our medicine … it gives us hope … it encourages, but the contemporary-up tempo stuff is what lifts us up. Supporters don’t have to wait until next year to own a sample of the singer’s latest offering. The commercial single So Good To Me is available in stores November 21, 2006. To promote the new LP, the multi-talented singer/actress will appear in the Gospel on Broadway on November 19th.  Gotham Hall located at 1256 Broadway at 36th in New York City will showcase this three show event. Show times are 2pm, 5pm and 8pm— each appearance will consist of a performance from Armstrong featuring hand picked selections from Walking Miracle and a free southern cuisine buffet. Advanced tickets are highly recommended. For ticket information visit  or call (212) 763-8333.

Clark Sisters Reunion Lands EMI Gospel Agreement

Excerpt from

(October 30, 2006) The
Clark sisters have signed an exclusive contract under the EMI Gospel imprint.  Earlier this year the highly acclaimed sister act recorded their reunion project in a live concert in Houston, TX.   Jacky, Karen, Twinkie and Dorinda are poised to release the not yet titled album on March 20, 2007, their first group effort in over 10 years.  The eagerly anticipated album is being produced by Donald Lawrence.   EMI executives are excited about their union with the legendary group, all of whom have experienced individual musical success. "Event releases don't come everyday,” says EMI Gospel Vice President/General Manager, Larry Blackwell. “The Clark Sisters Reunion-Live release in every way defines one. EMI Gospel is honoured to continue being a part of the Clark Family legacy by releasing this must have CD to the legions of fans.”

Urban Developments

Excerpt from - Tamara Conniff and Ray Waddell

(Nov. 3, 2006)
Keith Urban's handsome face is becoming a lot more familiar -- generally a good thing with an album on the horizon. His new "Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing" is due Nov. 7 on Capitol Nashville. Co-produced by Urban and Dann Huff, it's his fourth solo studio album.  During the past three years, Urban has experienced a meteoric career rise. He went from his first theatre-headlining tour in 2004 to successfully headlining arenas in 2005, and most industry observers believe he is on the verge of joining the country touring elite with his planned 2007 tour in support of the new album. Meanwhile, the first single, "Once in a Lifetime," just made history by becoming the highest-debuting single in the 62-year history of Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.   Some attention, however, focuses on his personal life. He wed actress Nicole Kidman in June, suddenly becoming a household name to legions of tabloid readers who may have never heard of him or his country music hits. Then his name landed on countless celebrity news rags just a couple of weeks before his album dropped -- sadly not to discuss his career trajectory or new, blissful marriage, but because he checked himself into rehab for alcohol addiction. Urban cancelled his promo tour, including a performance at the Country Music Association Awards on Nov. 6.  Friends close to Urban say his choice is one of strength, that he cares so much about his new wife, new album, fans and 2007 world tour that he wants to be well. It would be much easier to not get sober. Urban has fought drug and alcohol addiction for many years. Though the greatest high for a musician, Urban says, is a live performance that "clicks" -- when the band hits a groove that is transcendent. "It's [the high] that you look for in all the synthetic stuff, but you can't find it. It won't stop you from looking."   Urban, who was already poised for massive crossover success after his last album, is now immeasurably more famous than he was 12 months ago. It has industry insiders wondering just how big this record might blow up.

Genesis Reuniting With Phil Collins For Tour

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(Nov. 3, 2006)
Mega-selling pop trio Genesis is reuniting with Phil Collins for its first tour with him since the summer of 1992. An official announcement will be made Monday (Nov. 7) in London. Genesis hasn't toured since 1998, during which Ray Wilson replaced Collins on lead vocals alongside principal members Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford.  Former frontman Peter Gabriel will not be participating in the reunion with the group he exited in 1975. "Tony, Mike and Phil are rehearsing now," he said in a recent video message on his Web site. "I'm not involved in this round or this year. I haven't ruled out the possibility of doing something in the future, but right now I'm going to focus on my own work."  Also apparently not involved is guitarist Steve Hackett, who played with the band in the Gabriel era but left in 1977.  Collins hasn't toured since 2004, an outing billed as his First Farewell tour. Of late, he's been busy writing the music for Disney's "Tarzan the Musical" on Broadway; his contribution to the animated film's 1999 soundtrack, "You'll Be in My Heart," won the Oscar for song of the year.  And while he now seems ready to tour with Genesis again, Collins sang quite a different tune in a 1996 interview with Billboard, when he declared, "How interested am I in old Genesis material? Not very interested, to be honest."  "If I'm to be completely candid, I've never been our biggest fan," he continued. "I have no reverence for the older material, apart from the fun we had making it. I never really felt like we quite got it right on record, especially in the olden days. I can see Genesis fans sticking pins in my effigy as I say this, but you know, I have to be honest -- there's no point in being anything else in life. I'm very proud of some of it, and I could take or leave some other stuff."

Kanye, Kweli Join Nick Cannon's 'Stages'

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(Nov. 2, 2006)
Nick Cannon has set Dec. 5 as the release date for his sophomore effort, "Stages," which, as previously reported, will be the first project under the actor/rapper's Motown imprint, Can I Ball. The disc boasts collaborations with Talib Kweli, Anthony Hamilton and Slim of 112, among others, and features production by Kanye West. Cannon wrote and produced every other track.  The new set is preceded by the singles "Dime Piece," featuring Cannon's artist Izzy Battle, and "It's Your Birthday." "Stages" will be the follow up to Cannon's self-titled 2003 debut, which has sold 200,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Keith Wins Country Song Of The Year

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Nov. 6, 2006) NASHVILLE — Toby Keith's hit "As Good As I Once Was" has won country song of the year, and Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard was honoured as an icon during the BMI Music Awards.  Keith also shared BMI's songwriter of the year prize with Vicky McGehee and Ed Hill as the performing rights organization Broadcast Music Inc. handed out the awards Saturday. Each had writing credits on three of the performing rights organization's top 50 most-performed songs of the past year.  Keith's three songs on the list were "As Good As I Once Was," ``Big Blue Note" and "Honkytonk U."  The singer called the BMI event "my favourite awards show."  "Here, you don't even have to get nominated. I was a songwriter first, before I was an artist, and I'll be a songwriter forever," he said.  Keith now has three BMI songwriter of the year awards.  The centrepiece of the evening was the presentation of BMI's Icon award to Haggard. Martina McBride, John Anderson and Hank Williams Jr. performed in honour of the singer-songwriter who is regarded as one of the most important artists in the history of country music.  Past Icon winners include Paul Simon, Brian Wilson, Dolly Parton, James Brown, Carlos Santana, Isaac Hayes and Ray Davies.  "He's been my favourite singer for many years, but he's that great as a songwriter, too," said country singer and songwriter Bill Anderson. "He writes with such feeling, such depth and such simplicity, and he gets more out of a sad song than anybody."  Haggard, 69, was raised in Bakersfield, Calif., and is credited with helping define country music's "Bakersfield sound." He broke onto the charts in 1963 with "Sing a Sad Song" and went on to write and record dozens of hits, including "Workin' Man Blues," ``Okie from Muskogee" and "Mama Tried."  Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville published 15 songs in BMI's top 50, and was named publisher of the year.  Along with ASCAP and SESAC, BMI is an organization that collects royalties for songwriters and publishers.

Sax Man Steve Cole's New CD Set For Nov 21 Release

Source: Rick Scott, Great Scott P.R.oductions,

(November 6, 2006) "You're gonna feel something whether you like it or not," says saxman
Steve Cole about his forthcoming True album.  Focusing on performance, improvisation and really playing from the heart & soul, and fuelled by the metropolitan sounds and influences of his hometown of Chicago, the album is a mix of R&B, contemporary jazz, pop and dance music.   Through his four previous albums, Cole has established himself as a core artist in contemporary jazz.  His consistency as a songwriter and producer also merits respect as he's scored four #1 radio hits and ten Top 5 singles since his 1998 debut.   True promises to add to Cole's impressive stats.  He set the bar high on each engaging track, delivering unadulterated artistry and organic musicianship.   Cole couldn't help being influenced by the music that emerged from his hometown where he still calls home.  On the album, he tips his hat to such pioneers as jazz-funk legend Quincy Jones, soul icon Curtis Mayfield and clubby house music.  But playing and improvising were also primary inspirations for Cole on True.  He focused on giving a unique performance on each song.  Cole believes that the true measure of the artist is how the musician improvises off the melody.  Many records stifle that creativity so Cole sought to produce the record as "live" as possible, fostering the setting for expansive soloing. A talented cast of musicians helped Cole bring True to life, including Jeff Golub, Steve Rodby, David Mann, Ricky Peterson, Lenny Castro and Khari Parker.  The album title refers to a return to innocence, a return to the roots, a return to the music that inspired Cole to explore his passion for jazz-funk made popular by artists such as Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, Spyro Gyra and George Benson.  It was an era of well-crafted songs, live production and expressive music that emerged from the core of the artists' being.  That's the recipe Cole used to create True.  After studying modern classical music for saxophone at Northwestern University, Cole earned an MBA at the University of Chicago.  Debuting with Stay Awhile, he scored three radio hits out of the box that helped him garner the 2000 Oasis Smooth Jazz Prism Award as Best New Artist.  Subsequent albums include Between Us, NY LA, and Spin. 

Dionne Warwick & Producer Son Damon Eliott Hook Up

Source: Echo Hattix,, Adee G. Drory,

(November 6, 2006) Los Angeles  -- Super producer Damon Elliott has been working on his number one fan's album. His mother,
Dionne Warwick, is set to release her 45th anniversary celebration album, entitled "My Friends & Me."  This album promises to be a dynamic fusion of Warwick's legendary, sultry R&B vocals on the same track with some of today's and yesterday's Hip Hop, Country, Pop and R&B artists. It will feature duets with Mya, Cyndi Lauper, Da Brat, Debra Cox, Reba McEntire, Kelis, Gladys Knight, Angie Stone, Chante' Moore, Olivia Newton-John and more.  "I'm thrilled to be back in the studio and this time with my son. With 45 years in the music industry I've had an amazing career. I've had the pleasure of working with some of the world's greatest musical minds in the business," says Warwick. "Just being able to commemorate this phase in my life and work with artist I personally enjoy is truly a blessing." The "My Friends & Me" album is scheduled to be released Tuesday, November 7, 2006. Warwick, most recognized for her 60's, 70's and 80's recordings. The Grammy award winning artist has had nearly 60 charted hits with songs like "Don't Make Me Over," "Do you know the way to San Jose?," Anyone Who Had A Heart," "Walk On By," "That's What Friends Are For" and many, many more.  In May 2006, Warwick made an appearance on the season finale of American Idol, singing a medley of her hits before an audience of 36 million with her longtime collaborator Burt Bacharach accompanying her on the piano. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is involved with numerous charitable causes. A savvy entrepreneur as well, Warwick even has her own skincare line called Enyo. Her youngest son, Damon Elliott, has made quite a name for himself in the music industry, producing over 68 million records for various multi-platinum artists such as Beyonce, Jessica Simpson, Destiny's Child, Gwen Stefani, Mya, Pink, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Macy Gray, just to name a few.  In addition to the highly anticipated Warwick release, Elliott is currently in the studio producing a global heartwarming hit entitled "Family Comes First," set to release on Tyler Perry's "Daddy's Little Girls," soundtrack. Our goal is to blossom the challenges of life into a rainbow of music and we're the perfect family unit to do so," comforts Elliott.

Michael Jackson Plans Comeback

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Reuters News Agency

(Nov. 8, 2006) LONDON — Reclusive superstar
Michael Jackson plans a dramatic comeback later this month with a performance of his classic song "Thriller", the organizers of a music awards ceremony said on Wednesday.  The 48-year-old superstar has been a virtual recluse since his acquittal of child molestation charges in June 2005, dividing much of his time between Bahrain and Ireland.  Last month the World Music Awards announced that Jackson would appear in London to accept a Diamond Award that goes to artists who sell more than 100 million records worldwide, and this week they confirmed Jackson's intention to perform.  "Yes, it's his first performance in a long time," said a spokeswoman at Outside Organisation, one of the public relations companies publicising the event. "It's something of a comeback if you like."  The choice of song coincides with the 25th anniversary of Jackson's "Thriller" album, one of the biggest selling records of all time.  Jackson has said he planned to move to Europe in a bid to resurrect his musical career, and in April a record label said he intended to make a new album to be released in 2007.  As well as Jackson's eagerly awaited return, U.S. actress Lindsay Lohan will host the awards show on Nov. 15, and Beyonce, Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli will perform on the night.  The World Music Awards are based on artists' sales as opposed to votes from the public or a panel of judges.



November 6, 2006

AZ, The Format,
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
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 [Chopped & Screwed], 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
Do or Die, Headz or Tailz [Chopped & Screwed], Rap-A-Lot
E.S.G., Come Away with Me, Soul Jazz
Eminem, You Don't Know, Aftermath
Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere [Deluxe Edition], Downtown
Gnarls Barkley, Who Cares, Warner
Iomos Marad, Go Head, All Natural Inc
Jim Jones, Hustler's P.O.M.E. (Product Of My Environment) [Best Buy Exclusive], Koch
Katt "Money Mike" Williams, The Pimp Chronicles, Pt. 1, CodeBlack
KB the Kidnappa, Spitting Venom,
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
Messy Marv, Explosive Mode, Vol. 3: Mob Gets Explosive, Sumo
Mickey Avalon, Mickey Avalon, Myspace
Mr. Criminal, What the Streets Created, Pt. 2, Thump
No Luck Club, Prosperity, Igloo Cartel Recordings
OutKast, Idlewild Blue (Don't Chu Worry Bout Me), Pt. 1, BMG/Laface
OutKast, Idlewild Blue (Don't Chu Worry Bout Me), Pt. 2, BMG/Ariola
Planet Asia, Don't Get It Fucked Up, SMC Recordings
Raylene, Lookout Weekend, Thump
RZA, Afro Samurai, Koch
Science Fiction, Bmore: Guttermusic, BBS
Science Fiction, Dubsteb, BBS
Science Fiction, Grime, BBS
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, Strange Music
The Primeridian, Hang On [Single],
The Wylde Bunch, Wylde Bunch, Surfdog Ada
Thes One, Lifestyle Marketing, Wax Orchard
Various Artists, 2007 Ano de Exitos Reggaeton, Universal Latino
Various Artists, Bachaton Relouded [CD/DVD], Nu
Various Artists, Behind the West Coast, Thump
Various Artists, Black Uhuru & Other Reggae Rebels, Immortal
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/Atlantic/Warner Bros.
Various Artists, Roots Boricua: Antologia de Reggae, Machete Music
Various Artists, Sen Dog Presents Fat Joints, Vol. 1, Latin Thug
Weeto, Call Me Big Weets, Thump
Woodie, Northern Expozure Vol. 7, R.N.L.G. LLC
Young Jeezy, I Luv It, Def Jam
Z-Ro, Still Living [Chopped & Screwed], Rap-A-Lot
Z-Ro, Still Living, Rap-A-Lot

November 13, 2006

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


Screen Legends: John Candy

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - — Bruce Yaccato

John Candy
FAME: Actor
BIRTH: Oct. 31, 1950 in Toronto
DEATH: March 4, 1994 in Mexico

(Nov. 3, 2006)
John Candy was always an audience favourite on stage at the Old Firehall at Second City. His memorable characters like, Johnny LeRue and Stan Shmenge propelled SCTV to cult status.  Cameo appearances, in Stripes and Splash introduced Hollywood to Candy's special star quality. He went on to star in popular comedies like Uncle Buck and Spaceballs.  Perhaps his best work came as the accident-prone but ultimately endearing salesman in Planes, Trains&Automobiles, with Steve Martin.  His acting ability was noticed in Oliver Stone's JFK, in Only the Lonely as the pathetic momma's boy, and as the unlikely coach in Cool Runnings.  In 1994, he was shooting Wagons East, when he suffered a heart attack and died at age 43.  A legend whose life and career were just entering their prime.  John Candy, from Toronto.

Babel: War Of Words

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere

(out of 4)
Starring Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt, Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi, Gael García Bernal, Nathan Gamble, Elle Fanning, Kôji Yakusho, Said Tarchani, Boubker Ait El Caid. Written by Guillermo Arriaga and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. 143 minutes. At the Cumberland. 14A

(Nov. 3, 2006) In
Babel, Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's most recent exercise in fractured, multi-plot exposition — the previous two were Amores Perros and 21 Grams — a chaotic world is bound by a thin but sticky web of despair and guilt.  (This may be the only movie I've seen since Crash — which Babel resembles perhaps too much for its own good — in which every single member of the ensemble cast is at some point required to break down into wracking sobs.)  That's until a bullet is fired through a tour bus in Morocco. At that point, the ties that bind tighten like the makeshift stitches applied to the victim's wound, and with similarly messy results.  Babel takes its name from the passage in the Book of Genesis that describes what happened to the unfortunate folk who decided to build a tower to heaven. The Old Testament God flew into one of His customary Old Testament rages, and punished the upstart mortals by dividing them into separate languages and cultures. "For this," He said, "You will have to watch subtitled movies, pay currency exchange rates and buy expensive travel guides." Thus, one might say — and Babel certainly does — lay the seeds of all the world's woes.  At once an ambitious reflection on the theme of the tower's consequences and a kind of unconscious re-enactment of the same hubris, Iñárritu's movie tries to be both all encompassing and cleverly elliptical at the same time. That's like building a tower to heaven with some of the bricks left out. What you end up with is a seriously teetery tower.  This is what it's built from: In Morocco, two peasant kids (Said Tarchani and Boubker Ait El Caid) accidentally fire the rifle recently purchased by their father at a tour bus passing through the mountains where the boys tend their goats. (They're testing it for distance, but naturally wind up being accused by the U.S. government of terrorism.) On the bus, two privileged but bickering married Californians (Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt) are thrown into Grade-A American Express hell when one of them catches the bullet. In San Diego, the illegal immigrant nanny (Adriana Barraza) of the couple's kids (Elle Fanning and Nathan Gamble) is told she cannot leave the children because of the shooting, requiring her to take them with her into Mexico to attend her son's wedding. (Their driver, the nanny's nephew, is a likeable but reckless loser played by Gael García Bernal. He will wreak some dramatically pivotal international havoc at the border.)  In Tokyo meanwhile, the teenage deaf-mute daughter (Rinko Kikuchi) of a recent widower (Koji Yakusho) uses her surging sexuality as a means of overcoming both her handicap and the estrangement she's felt from her father since her mother's suicide.

And how does this thread connect to the others?  As we subsequently learn, the girl's father is an amateur hunter who once sold a rifle in — you guessed it — Morocco.  Working again with the novelist Guillermo Arriaga, Iñárritu proves adept at spinning several narrative plates simultaneously — indeed, so adept that the mere skill of the display can distract you from the occasionally contrived nature of the show. While he again demonstrates an unquestionable talent for creating visceral atmospherics and generating impressive performances — and not just from sure-fire Oscar-bait like Pitt and Blanchett, but more impressively from relative unknowns and newcomers like Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi, Said Tarchani and Boubker Ait El Caid — Iñárritu is far less confident when it comes to finding organic means of holding all his various ducks in a row.  Babel is supposed to be a cry of humanist anguish that echoes — in four languages — around the world. So why does it feel as much like an elaborate game of middlebrow post-millennial Clue? And, considering the theme of global despair occasioned by ill communication, is it not curious the movie challenges you less with its content than its connect-the-dots form?  That's not to say Babel doesn't contain passages of lingering forcefulness. Pitt's flustering rage at both his Moroccan village benefactors and his fellow tourists is both ugly and understandable, and the scenes in which Barraza and the children are lost in the desert near the border are effectively terrifying. The Mexican wedding sequence — viewed through the eyes of the American kids — has a woozy surrealism to it, and the entire section involving Kikuchi is so expertly rendered you may find yourself wishing the rest of the movie would just go away. Take note of the moment the girl, whacked on whisky and ecstasy, enters a dance club and feels the pulsating noise around her.  But Babel ultimately leaves you less impressed by the big picture than the details that make it up, and therefore unconvinced by its argument that love is the only language that transcends all the otherwise atomizing chatter that keeps us apart. That's a difficult message to buy from a movie that can't even rise above its own differences.

A Canuck Bond Possible: Producer

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Nov. 7, 2006) NEW YORK—How about a
Canadian James Bond, eh? It could happen one day, says 007 movie producer Barbara Broccoli, because Canucks have the right Commonwealth stuff.  For that very reason, it would be almost unthinkable to have an American playing the iconic spy.  "I think a Canadian could work," Broccoli said yesterday, at a press junket for Casino Royale, the 21st official James Bond film that opens Nov. 17. Britain's Daniel Craig is the new Agent 007.  "I'm pretty dubious about (casting) an American, because it's just a different sensibility ... there's a sort of Commonwealth sensibility, which I think is a sort of a requirement."  In fact, Broccoli and co-producer Michael G. Wilson (who is also her stepbrother) travelled to Canada on top-secret missions in the late 1980s to talk to Canadian acting talent when they were reviving the Bond franchise when it seemed it might have run its course.  She didn't name names of Canadian actors she considered for Bond and other roles.  They ultimately chose Britain's Pierce Brosnan to play Bond, maintaining the informal British Bond tradition, which began with Sean Connery in Dr. No in 1962.  Brosnan played Bond for four successive films, beginning with GoldenEye in 1995 and ending with Die Another Day in 2002. Broccoli and Wilson decided to cast a new actor in the lead role after they untangled the complicated movie rights to Casino Royale, which is based on the original 1953 Ian Fleming novel that launched the Bond legend.  Casino Royale originally appeared in the 1950s as a TV stage play, before the movie franchise was started by Broccoli's father Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, along with Canadian-born Harry Saltzman. And a Yank, Barry Nelson, played the first Bond.

"When they did Casino Royale for CBS they had an American and they called him Jimmy Bond. And they didn't seem to really pull it off," Broccoli said.  But even though Canadians might be considered the next time there's a Bond posting, neither Broccoli nor new hire Craig are in any rush to change faces again.  They both said yesterday they are delighted with how Casino Royale turned out, and the film has been well received by the press here.  "I'm really incredibly gratified in the reaction to Daniel, because I think he's a spectacular actor," Broccoli said. "And I think he's so happy that people are accepting him."  There is still some major Canadian involvement in Casino Royale, which presents the origin of Agent 007 in a much darker and grittier context than previously seen.  One of the three screenwriters is London, Ont.-born Paul Haggis, who also co-wrote and directed Crash, last year's Oscar winner for Best Picture.  Haggis volunteered for the Bond writing assignment because he's a fan, Broccoli said.  "We had a great script to begin with, and he just made it better."

EUR Interview: Jean-Claude Lamarre -- The Color Of The Cross Interview

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(November 8, 2006) *Actor-turned-writer/director
Jean-Claude LaMarre made his screen debut in Spike Lee's Malcolm X, and then appeared in Dead Presidents and Basquiat and on TV shows like Law and Order and New York Undercover before deciding to try his hand on the other side of the camera.  His initial two efforts, Higher Ed and Go for Broke, were both comedies featuring Fugee refugee Pras. His third was a Western with Lil' Kim, Macy Gray, LisaRaye and Bobby Brown. Jean-Claude took the title role of his next endeavour, Sugar Valentine, a love story co-starring Ingrid Sonray.  In 2005, he returned to the Western genre with Brothers in Arms, and later last year, he again occupied the lead role in Pastor Jones, a relationship drama about a minister who falls for a parishioner in a bad marriage.  In his latest opus, the controversial Color of the Cross, LaMarre portrays Jesus during the last days of his life. Here, he talks about his decision to make the first picture portraying Christ as black.

Kam Williams: Tell me a little bit about your background.

Jean-Claude LaMarre: I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but I was raised in Haiti from the age of one, till I was nine. Then I landed in Brooklyn, and was there until about six years ago.

KW: One of my outlets is a Haitian publication, so I'm sure they'd be interested in any memories of the island you'd like to share.

JCL: Oh, I was brought up by my grandmother's sister, an amazing woman who really taught me a lot about self-esteem, and how to look at myself in relation to the world. So, she really shaped the basis of how I look at the world now. So, she had a lot to do with this movie in terms of my even approaching this subject.

KW: Where in Haiti did you live?

JCL: It's called Leogane.

KW: Did you expect to be stirring up so much controversy with Color of the Cross?

JCL: Nope, I didn't. I knew it was going to be an issue of discussion, but I didn't know it was going to be as controversial as it is.

KW: Has anyone complained about it possibly being anti-Semitic, after all it seems to be saying that not only did Jews kill Christ, but they were racist, too, because they refused to accept him as the Messiah because of the color
of his skin?

JCL: No, it's definitely not anti-Semitic in any way. In fact two of the people who worked on putting it together were Jewish. My producing partners, Lila Aviv and Kenneth Halsband, are both devout and faithful Jews. We really, really took time to highlight the fact that within the Sanhedrin there were varying Jewish interests at work. Unlike Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ that pretty much presented the Jews as one unified anti-Jesus voice, our film really sort of presents the case for various viewpoints. The Sanhedrin, as you know, was composed of the Pharisees, the Zealots, and a string of other Jewish interests. So, there were Jews there, within the Sanhedrin, who were sympathetic to Jesus' cause, there were Jews who were angry, and there were Jews who remained silent on the issue. Because we didn't want the same kind of backlash that Mel Gibson experienced, we really took time on this film to show all this.

To reach full interview by Kam Williams, go HERE


Hughes Bros. Are ‘Kung Fu’ Fighting

Excerpt from

(November 3, 2006) *Twin directors
Allen and Albert Hughes, who last stepped behind a camera for the 2002 Johnny Depp drama "From Hell," have signed on to helm a film adaptation of the classic television series “Kung Fu” for Warner Bros.-based Legendary Pictures. According to Variety, the brothers have been trying to land this project for the past two years, and were among several directors who were vying for the property.  Warner Bros. production president Jeff Robinov, who ultimately gave them the job, was the twins’ agent before becoming a studio executive. The producers have already reached out to the Shaolin Temple outside Beijing, where non-violent monks train in martial arts and were the inspiration for the series protagonist, Caine. The studio hopes to release the film in 2008, which will wrap nicely into promotion at the Beijing Olympics. Production is slated to begin next year. During their break from the big screen, the Hughes brothers have been busy directing commercials with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter for such brands as Pepsi, Coke, Reebok, Heineken, Adidas, Nike and Sprite. They also directed videos for such bands as Korn.  The siblings burst onto the scene in 1993 as directors of “Menace II Society.” 

Pickford's Studio Put On Cruise Control

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Nov. 3, 2006) LOS ANGELES—
Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner have been put in charge of United Artists, a film studio formed nearly 90 years ago by Hollywood actors Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin.  Wagner will serve as chief executive of the studio, which is owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Cruise will appear in UA films, but not exclusively, MGM announced yesterday.  The development is rated a major comeback for Cruise and Wagner, after they were unceremoniously dumped in August from their 14-year producing deal at Paramount Studios amid accusations Cruise's public antics had hurt the box office of Mission: Impossible III.  MGM said Cruise and Wagner have taken an ownership interest in UA, but did not specify financial terms.  Cruise and Wagner will have full control of the production slate, which is expected to be four films a year, it said.  United Artists has been virtually mothballed for several years, although the studio's logo will appear on the latest James Bond film, Casino Royale, due out in two weeks.  Most recently, UA had been used to acquire or produce low-budget independent films.  But the studio is now free to make $100 million (U.S.) action films starring Cruise, as well as lower budget fare, MGM said.  "It really depends on what they as the creative executives want to produce," MGM boss Rick Sands said. "It's a real studio that we are reinventing.''  Sands said financing for the films would come via deals with private equity funds, which have become a more influential Hollywood player in recent years.  Cruise's last appearance in a UA film was in Rain Man in 1988, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.  Sands said he does not have any concerns about Cruise's future public behaviour having any negative impact on his new role atop the studio.  United Artists was founded in 1919 by Chaplin, Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and director D.W. Griffith and operated as an artist-centred studio for decades, churning out such hits as Some Like It Hot and a string of early James Bond films.

Actress Adrienne Shelly Found Dead

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Colleen Long, Associated Press

(Nov. 3, 2006) NEW YORK —
Adrienne Shelly, an actress best known for her roles in the Hal Hartley films Trust and The Unbelievable Truth, was found dead in her office by her husband, her agent said Thursday. Shelly was found about 6 p.m. Wednesday. Police said Thursday night that they are awaiting autopsy results before deciding whether to investigate the case as foul play. An autopsy was performed Thursday, but the medical examiner's office did not have a cause of death. Shelly, who was 40, appeared as Jerry in the 2005 film Factotum with Matt Dillon. She starred as Audry Hugo in the 1989 film The Unbelievable Truth and as Maria Coughlin in the 1990 film Trust. She worked steadily during her career in film, theatre and television but later turned to writing and directing, making her directorial debut with Sudden Manhattan in 1996. Shelly was married to Andy Ostroy and had a 3-year-old named Sophie, according to her agent of about a decade, Rachel Sheedy. Ostroy is not in the movie business. Born Adrienne Levine in Queens and raised on Long Island, Shelly lived in lower Manhattan with her family and had been focusing more lately on writing, directing and caring for her daughter, Sheedy said.  Shelly recently wrote and directed a film called Waitress, which starred Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion. “She was so psyched about the film,” Sheedy said. “She gathered an amazing cast, and she was really happy and excited to hear back from Sundance about it.”

Construction Worker Charged In Death Of Adrienne Shelly

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Nov. 7, 2006) NEW YORK — A construction worker has been arrested and charged with murder in the death of an actress who was found hanging from a shower rod in the bathroom of her apartment. Police charged Diego Pillco with second-degree murder in the Manhattan slaying of
Adrienne Shelly, Detective Kevin Czartoryski said. Pillco, 19, was picked up early Monday and was questioned for several hours until “he made statements,” said Czartoryski, who would not say what the statements were. Pillco, from Ecuador but living in New York, was expected to be arraigned Tuesday on the second-degree murder charge, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office said. Shelly, who appeared in the movie Factotum last year, and was best known for starring in Hal Hartley's independent films, Trust and The Unbelievable Truth, was renovating the inside of the Manhattan apartment she used as her residence and office. Pillco, one of the workers, was one of the last people seen going into her apartment, police said. Shelly, whose birth name was Adrienne Levine, was found Wednesday at about 6 p.m. hanging from a shower rod over the bathtub in her apartment. Police were hesitant to label the case a suicide, observing that no note was found and sneaker prints that did not match Shelly's shoes were recovered from the bathtub. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, Ellen Borakove, said late Monday that her agency had not determined the cause of Shelly's death, whether by strangulation or other means, or whether it was a homicide. Shelly, who was born in New York and grew up on suburban Long Island, N.Y., was raising a three-year-old daughter, Sophie, with her husband, Andy Ostroy. Shelly, 40, was best known for her roles in the Hal Hartley films The Unbelievable Truth, in which she played Audry Hugo in 1989, and Trust, in which she starred as Maria Coughlin in 1990. She also appeared as Jerry in Factotum with Matt Dillon. She worked steadily during her career in film, theatre and television but later turned to writing and directing, making her directorial debut with Sudden Manhattan in 1996. She recently wrote and directed the film Waitress, starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion.

50 Cent, Deniro To Star In Katrina Thriller

Excerpt from

(November 3, 2006) *Rapper 50 Cent and acting legend Robert DeNiro will star as cops investigating a murder in the film “New Orleans,” a police thriller set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the indie film (previously titled “Microwave Park”) follows a cop (DeNiro) who thinks his partner was killed by the storm, only to discover that he was shot to death. His new partner, (50 Cent) helps him to investigate the murder, and the two soon uncover a world of police corruption. The project was originally set in Los Angeles but changed to New Orleans after the Katrina disaster. Production is tentatively scheduled to begin in the city in February. Tim Hunter is directing for Millennium Films. De Niro directs and stars in his next film, "The Good Shepherd," a spy thriller co-starring Angelina Jolie and due for release in December. 50 Cent starred last year in the autobiographical feature "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'."

Boris And Nicole Welcome Second Child

Excerpt from

(November 3, 2006) *The
Kodjoes have a new addition to the family.  Nicole Parker and her husband Boris Kodjoe have announced that they are the proud parents of a second child. The actors, who met while co-starring on the Showtime series “Soul Food,” welcomed son Nicolas Neruda Kodjoe at 11:13 a.m. Tuesday in Atlanta, reports People magazine. Parker, 36, and Kodjoe, 33, already have a 1-year-old daughter, Sophie. They were married in Gundelfingen, Kodjoe's hometown in Germany's Black Forest, in May 2005.  Kodjoe has completed production on the upcoming film “If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now,” about a group of people living in temporary housing in Los Angeles. He’s also credited with a role in the upcoming films “Clarksdale” and “The Trunk.” As previously reported, “The Trunk” stars Djimon Hounsou as a talented pianist who looks to leave the ghetto behind, though his friends conspire to hold him back.



Lilly Silliness Rules At Geminis

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Alexandra Gill, Canadian Press

(Nov. 6, 2006) What do you get when an arch parody of high culture sweeps a Canadian television awards show obsessed with American pop culture? Gemini Night In Vancouver — or perhaps the premise for a satirical new series, should the creators of Slings & Arrows ever choose to take arms against this outrageous fortune of unintended comedy. Slings & Arrows was, of course, the big winner at Saturday night's
Gemini Awards, when the fourth and final ceremony was broadcast from the River Rock Casino Theatre in Richmond, B.C. This was the first time in 21 years that the awards were televised from outside Toronto. The prize-hauling series, a witty send-up of Canadian theatre that has taken many a pointed jab at broader cultural issues, captured three top awards: best dramatic series, and best actress (for Martha Burns) and actor (for Mark McKinney) in a leading dramatic role. The show had already won three awards at the earlier Gemini ceremonies held last month in Toronto, (best writing, direction and supporting actress), for six wins out of seven nominations. It was an excellent showing for the small but clever comedy, which was originally developed — then dropped — by CBC, and is now airing its third and final season on The Movie Network and Movie Central. So how did Evangeline Lilly end up stealing the spotlight? “The whole night has been a celebration of the U.S. and our copycat programs,” actor Nicholas Campbell, one of the evening's presenters, grumbled during the post-broadcast reception.

He had a valid point, quietly echoed by many others. The evening had kicked off earlier that afternoon with a red carpet ET Canada pre-gala, broadcast on Global Television. Sure, Luba Goy, Brent Butt, Klea Scott and all the nominated stars in attendance were given the full star treatment. But it was Lilly, the star of the ABC hit series Lost, who elicited the biggest commotion. The fact that Shaun Majumder accidentally stepped on her dress during the red-carpet telecast and tore a small rip in the seam was all anyone could talk about. That and Lukas Rossi. The recent winner of the CBS hit reality series Rock Star: Supernova snarled out to Richmond, decked in tattoos, chains and leather, to perform the televised musical interlude. Lilly, in all her resplendent sultriness, was there to present the Viewer's Choice Award for Lifestyle Host. Yes, Lilly and Rossi are both born-and-bred Canadians. But wasn't the evening, at least ostensibly, a celebration of excellence in Canadian television? When it was pointed out for the umpteenth time that Canada's Next Top Model of 2006, Andrea Muizelaar, was presenting the trophies, one couldn't help but think of a Slings & Arrows episode from Season 1. In that episode, a member of the beleaguered Shakespeare festival's board of directors launches a campaign to remake it into a Shakespeare theme park where American tourists watch Mamma Mia on the main stage. If you listened to Maria Topalovich, president of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the gala show's move out West was a gamble of similar proportions. People from the local film and television production industry, mind you, couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. “We've got tons of television production in Vancouver,” said actor John Cassini, of the nominated shows Robson Arms and Intelligence. “Why shouldn't it be held here?” And let's not forget that 82 of the Academy's 97 awards had already been handed out at events in Toronto.

If anyone worried about the Academy's western division not being sophisticated enough to pull off the live production, the red-carpet mishap certainly proved them wrong. Within minutes of Lilly's dress being torn, she was ushered over to a tailor whom the show's fashion stylist, Vladimir Markovich (director of BC Fashion Week), had had the foresight to bring along. To its credit, Global produced a slick show that ended right on time and ran a lot more smoothly than what the CBC used to manage. The pre-taped clips of the viewers' choice awards nominees poking fun at their off-screen alter egos were amusing. But some in the crowd wondered why they had to bump the category for best actor and actress in a drama or mini-series out of the televised broadcast. Oh, and when did George Stroumboulopoulos become a lifestyle host? Isn't The Hour a part of CBC News? As the night wore on, the jokes about Vancouver's nude beach and rainy weather got a little tired. But at least most of the Lotusland jokes came in the non-televised hour, when most of the token Vancouver presenters were also trotted out. The perceived regional disparities were no laughing matter for a number of Vancouver talent agents, who were fuming when they heard that the Academy had allegedly paid for the flights of several Toronto-based nominees. “They don't do that for our actors when they have to go to Toronto for the awards,” said one. But the rumour was false. It was Air Canada that had pitched in, offering the Toronto nominees a 15 per cent discount. The Academy, as it turns out, only paid for select Canadian talent coming in from Los Angeles.

The winners:

--Best dramatic miniseries: Human Trafficking


Sorkin Plays Kiss 'N' Tell With Chenoweth

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Nov. 4, 2006) While many showbiz pundits are offering their suggestions about how Aaron Sorkin could best fix his troubled NBC series,
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, everybody seems to be missing the most obvious solution: Just ask Kristin Chenoweth.  It's been one of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood that the pivotal, tortured involvement on the show between Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson) is based on the real-life relationship Sorkin and Chenoweth shared several years ago.  "Well, what am I to say?" sighs Chenoweth sweetly when asked to comment on the situation. "That's tricky stuff. Some of it is literally verbatim me, and some of it is not me at all."  At this moment, she's miles away from the Sunset Strip in every sense of the word.  She's currently rehearsing for The Apple Tree, the Roundabout Theatre production of a musical set to go into previews at New York's Studio 54 on Nov.28. It's one of this year's most hotly awaited shows, thanks to the Tony Award-winning presence of Chenoweth.  But as she sits on a dilapidated couch outside a West Side rehearsal hall — wearing oversized glasses and Dutch boy cap — she looks more like the little girl from Broken Arrow, Okla., she began as, than the toast of both coasts that she finds herself today.  "It's hard," she says simply about the whole Studio 60 situation. "It's hard on a very private level. I once told Aaron, `Unless you accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour, then get the hell out,' and he laughed for two minutes. Then I see it on the show in a different way, which I'm not really sure about.  "Yes, I went on The 700 Club to promote an album of Christian songs I had recorded and yes, Aaron and I argued about that, but it doesn't mean I want to watch that disagreement flung up on the screen for all America to see."

She twists at a random piece of her trademark blonde hair. "I'm trying to be supportive of the show, but it's hard. I'm not going to lie. I used to sit at home at night and do imitations of (CNN host) Nancy Grace and the next thing I know, they wind up on the air."  Her mouth twists into a mischievous grin. "We're still extremely close and Aaron called me up on the phone a few weeks ago to ask me what I thought about Mel Gibson. I said, `I'm not going to tell you what I think, because it's going to end up on the show.'"  She gets serious again. "I know some people are looking for failure for him, but I want that show to stay on the air. I think Sorkin is — and it's not just because I love him — I think he's a genius."  A lot of people use the same word to describe Chenoweth, who has had one of the most eclectic careers in modern show-business.  She was born in 1968 and grew up in the part of America known as "the buckle on the Bible belt." She was a sorority girl who performed at Opryland USA. She was also first runner-up in the 1991 Miss Oklahoma pageant and won a scholarship from the Metropolitan Opera's national auditions.  She threw it all away to go into musical theatre, where she quickly rose to the top, snagging a Tony Award for her delicious performance in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The smash hit Wicked came next, with Chenoweth charming everyone as ditzy blonde witch Glinda.  The West Coast beckoned and she left to do a flop sitcom called — what else? — Kristin, as well as supporting roles in films like Bewitched, The Pink Panther and the current comedy Running with Scissors.  She also spent two seasons on The West Wing as media guru Annabeth Schott, but even though Sorkin created the series, that isn't where she met him.

"He offered me The West Wing many years ago," she recalls, "but I couldn't do it because of Wicked. Then, when I finally got cast in the series, he sent me flowers with a note saying, `Just my luck, I'm not on the show any more, but you are.'  "Then he called me up to ask me out, but I thought he was just being nice, so I didn't return the call. He called me back. We went out and that was it. I adore him."  It's strange how Sorkin put a certain amount of Chenoweth into the character of Harriet Hayes, but he's left out some of the more fascinating parts, as well.  Get Chenoweth talking about her religious beliefs these days and you'll find a complicated, committed woman, struggling to reconcile herself with what she sees around her.  "It's getting to the point where I don't even want to call myself Christian, because the connotations of that word today are hate, non-acceptance, judgment — everything I believe Christianity isn't supposed to be about.  "When you think about it, Jesus was a poor liberal Jew. If he were alive today, he'd be working with people who have AIDS. I wonder how he would have felt about the people who call themselves `Christians' today."  She takes off her glasses and rubs her eyes. "The Christian right has come out against me because I believe in gay rights. And a lot of people in show-business mock me for being Christian. I just have to feel the way that I feel.  "You know, it's funny. I have parents who are right-wing Republican Christians and yet they somehow raised me to love everybody, not to judge everybody. When did that all change in America?"  It's a very good question. The kind of question that would make Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip a lot more interesting.

Michaels Is Seriously Canadian

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(Nov. 5, 2006) OTTAWA  -- Saturday Night Live creator
Lorne Michaels has applauded Canada's participation in the Afghan mission, saying he's glad his native country is "back in the world."  But the Toronto-born Michaels, one of six Canadians honoured this past week with a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for lifetime achievement, had some sharp criticism for the previous Liberal government's reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks.  He said that while he lives in Manhattan, he still tries to keep up to date with what's happening in Canada and has a strong "emotional connection."  "It's obviously unfortunate we're in Afghanistan, but I think it's important we're there," Michaels said of the military mission. ``I don't know enough about it to know what the correct judgments are, but it feels like Canada's back in the world."  Regarding the Sept. 11 attacks, Michaels said he was surprised by the reaction of the Canadian government, notably the fact then-prime minister Jean Chrétien didn't visit New York until weeks after the event.  "I thought (British) Prime Minister Blair got on a plane and was sort of there the next day," Michaels said. "I thought, when your neighbour's house burns down, it doesn't matter much how you feel about the neighbour, you just offer to help.  "I think the Canadian government was too circumspect and not there. I was surprised at that, because it wasn't the Canada I grew up in."  Michaels is best known as creator and executive producer of Saturday Night Live, making dozens of comedians — including some notable Canadians — into household names.

Who can forget Mike Myers as lovable cable-nerd Wayne? Or Dan Aykroyd as beer-swilling Beldar of the Conehead clan?  Before his breakthrough with SNL, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, Michaels was building a resumé with such comedy greats as Dick Cavett, Woody Allen, as well as Rowan and Martin's Laugh In.  But his first days were in Toronto, at the CBC, where he worked both in radio and television. His TV comedy the Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour with Hart Pomerantz ran for three seasons, before he went after bigger game in New York and Los Angeles.  Michaels says that his years at the CBC were crucial to his later success, particularly at SNL. He explains that he learned the ropes of everything, from editing to setting up camera shots and figuring out how to get the best reaction from a comedy sketch.  "When I came to SNL, the idea that we were going to do the whole thing in six days, the exact same process that I had just been doing for three months, I just found it exhilarating and more exciting, and you got to the audience faster.  "I think that's the most important thing in comedy — getting it to the audience."  Most people would require a constant intravenous drip of Red Bull to maintain the kind of hectic schedule Michaels has. His ridiculously long list of credits also includes executive producer on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and the new comedy 30 Rock with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.  He's a producer of movies, too. The next one up is called Hot Rod, which has been shot in Vancouver and is to be released in June. It's the story of a young man (played by SNL's Andy Samberg) trying to follow in the footsteps of a father who he believes used to assist stuntman Evel Knievel.

As Michaels arrived for an interview in Ottawa last week, he was being updated via cellphone on the latest U.S. headlines about 30 Rock. New episodes were to be delivered to him here for viewing. Michaels was feted, along with the other recipients of this year's 15th annual Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, last night at a gala event at the National Arts Centre. Two other Canadians who worked with Michaels at one point or another at SNL Late Show with David Letterman musical director Paul Shaffer and composer Howard Shore — were to present him with the award.  When asked what the proudest moments of his career are, Michaels says he was happy with movies Mean Girls and Wayne's World, and also with older flicks such as Three Amigos and Tommy Boy.  Others receiving the Governor General's Awards were musician Robbie Robertson, television broadcaster Jacques Languirand, actor-director Albert Millaire, dancer Joysanne Sidimus and television producer Mark Starowicz.

Football Drama Not Just For Sports Fans

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Joel Rubinoff, Torstar News Service

(Nov. 7, 2006) Before passing critical judgement on
Friday Night Lights (8 tonight on NBC) — a small town football drama that feels both authentic and born of another time — I have a confession to make: I hate sports.  In high school football I would run for passes with a half-hearted sense of obligation that prompted snickers — and the occasional locker room wedgie — only to wander off course and become entangled in mounds of overgrown shrubbery.  A for effort. D for execution and here I am today — in front of a big screen TV critiquing an earnest American drama about the majesty of high school football.  Ah, sweet irony.  Naturally, I viewed this as a chance for revenge on the muscle-bound behemoths who mocked my ineptitude and boasted of their own physical prowess as I skulked in the corner with my propeller beanie trying to crack the space-time continuum (little did I suspect Star Trek had nothing to do with real life).  So it surprises me to write that Friday Night Lights — based on the 2004 movie of the same name — is not only one of the best sports dramas in recent memory, it boasts an appeal that runs beyond sports to the heart of Americana itself.  "This is not just a game," the used car dealer sponsoring the team lectures its beleaguered coach. "This is about tradition, about this town, the spirit of keeping this town alive — it's football. It's all we've got!"  Corny, sure, like something out of a Ronald Reagan movie from the '40s — score one for the gipper and all that.  But there's a refreshing lack of kitsch, and satire, to this heartfelt paean to small-town life that makes it feel inexplicably real, even as teenaged players pray before each game and take direction with a humble "Yes sir" or "No ma'am" that feels oddly yet charmingly archaic.  This is Texas — land of big hair and book clubs, marching bands and beer blasts — where an entire town will shut down on game day to watch their hopes and ambitions play out on a high school football field.  With the elegiac glow of a Bruce Springsteen song and the sepia-toned simplicity of a Norman Rockwell painting, the series showcases that tiny kernel of the American dream that — against all odds — has survived the cynicism and corruption of modern life and emboldens the people it touches.

It's a show that treats characters who could easily be ridiculed with dignity and respect, and trumpets the value of hard work, commitment and making one's life count for something.  In a weird way, Lights is part of a seasonal trend in shows — including Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Nine — that appear to be about one thing (TV politics, hostage stand-off), but are really about another (the relationships behind them).  It's partly the layered, minimalist performances and documentary-like tone, which give the show a low-key, accessible edge, but mostly it's the way football acts as a springboard into the lives of the people who feed off it.  Take the coach (supremely likable Kyle Chandler), a solid do-gooder who can't walk down the street without some well-meaning gork telling him how to do his job. And the novice quarterback — tremulous replacement for the critically injured star player — trying to turn himself into the man no one, except maybe the coach, thinks he can become.  And the refreshing depiction of a healthy marriage — between the coach and his wife — you probably won't find anywhere else on network TV.  There are touching moments here — moments that feel earned, not contrived — tinged with telling insights and a sly humour that acknowledges, without poking fun, the high stakes involved in this sports-fuelled quest for the holy grail.  "It ain't that serious," the coach tells a mentor advising constant vigilance. "It's only football."  Only football? The older man looks bewildered, then, cracking a smile, repeats it like a yogic mantra. "Only football," he coos ironically. "Only football."  As the two insiders enjoy their private joke, the town gathers for the latest showdown, jacked up on prayer, prepared to meet its maker one more time.
Berry, Denzel, Oprah Among People’s Choice Noms

Excerpt from

(November 8, 2006) *The names of Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Queen Latifah and Oprah Winfrey were announced Tuesday as nominees for the 33rd annual People's Choice Awards, to be held Jan. 9 and broadcast live on CBS from the Shrine Auditorium. Berry, who starred this year in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” was nominated for favourite female movie star along with Jennifer Aniston and Sandra Bullock. She also grabbed a nomination for favourite female action star Washington received a favourite male movie star nod for his turn in “Inside Man,” facing Johnny Depp and Tom Hanks in the category.  Samuel L. Jackson was nominated for favourite male action star against Depp and Jet Li.  Queen Latifah faces Ellen Degeneres and Julia Louis Dreyfus for favourite funny female star, and Winfrey goes against Degeneres and Jay Leno for favourite talk show host. In the music categories, the Black Eyed Peas were nominated for best group, while Shakira’s Wyclef-produced “Hips Don’t Lie” and Nelly Furtado’s Timberland-produced “Promiscuous” go head to head in the pop song category.  The R&B song category includes "Ain't No Other Man," Christina Aguilera; "Sexyback," Justin Timberlake and  "Shake It Off," Mariah Carey. The Hip-Hop song category features "Grillz," Nelly; "Ridin'," Chamillionaire and "Shake That," Akon feat. Eminem.  A second round of nominees for categories that includes favourite movie, new TV comedy and remake of a song will be announced later.

The full list of first round nominees are:

Female movie star: Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock.
Male movie star: Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington.
Leading lady: Cameron Diaz, Kirsten Dunst, Scarlett Johansson.
Leading man: Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Vince Vaughn.
Female action star: Kate Beckinsale, Halle Berry, Uma Thurman.
Male action star: Johnny Depp, Samuel L. Jackson, Jet Li.
On-screen match up: Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in "The Break-Up"; Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Departed"; Johnny Depp and Keira Knightly in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
Female singer: Faith Hill, Shakira, Carrie Underwood.
Male singer: Trace Adkins, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith.
Group: Black Eyed Peas, Nickelback, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Pop song: "Hips Don't Lie," Shakira; "Promiscuous," Nelly Furtado; "Stupid Girls," Pink.
Rock song: "Call Me When You're Sober," Evanescence; "Dani California," Red Hot Chili Peppers; "Who Says You Can't Go Home," Bon Jovi.
R&B song: "Ain't No Other Man," Christina Aguilera; "Sexyback," Justin Timberlake; "Shake It Off," Mariah Carey.
Hip-Hop song: "Grillz," Nelly; "Ridin'," Chamillionaire; "Shake That," Eminem.
Country song: "Before He Cheats," Carrie Underwood; "What Hurts the Most," Rascal Flatts; "When the Stars Go Blue," Tim McGraw.
TV comedy: "The King of Queens," "My Name Is Earl," "Two and a Half Men."
Animated TV comedy: "Family Guy," "King of the Hill," "The Simpsons."
TV drama: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Grey's Anatomy," "House."
Competition/Reality show: "American Idol," "Deal or No Deal," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
Talk-show host: Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey.
Female TV star: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Eva Longoria, Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Male TV star: Patrick Dempsey, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland.
Funny female star: Ellen DeGeneres, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Queen Latifah.
Funny male star: Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Robin Williams.

Rogers OMNI.1 Airs for Hip-Hop Summit Action Network’s First International Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment

Source: OMNI.1

TORONTO (November 8th, 2006) – In response to the overwhelming success of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN)/Chrysler Financial First International Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment, recently convened at Ryerson University, Rogers OMNI.1 is pleased to present a one-hour special presentation of the event, Sunday, November 12th at 9PM ET. Now in its second successful year, the HSAN’s program of Hip-Hop Summits on Financial Empowerment – dubbed the “Get Your Money Right” International Tour – is a grassroots effort to help engage 18-35 year olds in discussions about the importance of personal finance.  A selection of hip-hop stars and financial experts (supplied by title sponsor and partner Chrysler Financial Canada) annually join forces to conduct an influential series of sessions covering such topics as banking basics, home ownership, vehicle financing and more.  "Our first Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment in Canada was big!  We are pleased to have chosen Toronto as host city for the final 2006 'Get Your Money Right' Tour date – and Rogers OMNI Television as exclusive host broadcaster,” emphasized Russell Simmons, Co-Chairman of HSAN.  “This established media partnership will help to further our Canadian experience; hip-hop is growing strong here and OMNI presents us with a great opportunity to share our insights with a new audience.”  “As exclusive broadcaster in Ontario for the Toronto Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment we appreciate that people at HSAN recognized us as the ideal platform from which to spread their message of fiscal responsibility,” says Malcolm Dunlop, Vice President of Programming and Marketing for Rogers Media Television.  “The number of Canadians entering this genre is increasing and thanks to support from HSAN we are able to present them with vital tools of financial literacy.”  In addition to Rogers OMNI Television, partners for the Toronto Hip-Hop Summit included FLOW 93.5 and Black Entertainment Television (BET) International.  The “Get Your Money Right” workbook, given to all summit participants, is downloadable in English and Spanish @ site.

About Rogers OMNI Television

Rogers OMNI Television is a free over-the-air system consisting of four regional broadcasters covering nine markets: in British Columbia (Victoria, Vancouver, and Fraser Valley); Manitoba (Winnipeg), and Ontario (Ottawa-Gatineau, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area). All Rogers OMNI Television stations are owned and operated by Rogers Communications in the Rogers Media division, and have the collective mandate to reflect Canada’s diversity through the airing of inclusive and accessible programming. In addition to specializing in Canadian multicultural, multilingual and multi-faith programming, OMNI TV also carries well-known American and International series and films. 

About the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network

Founded in 2001, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network is dedicated to harnessing the cultural relevance of hip-hop music to serve as a catalyst for education advocacy and other societal concerns fundamental to the empowerment of youth throughout the United States. HSAN is a non-profit, non-partisan worldwide coalition of hip-hop artists, entertainment industry leaders, education advocates, civil rights proponents and youth leaders united in the belief that hip-hop is a powerful and influential agent for social change which must be responsibly and proactively utilized to fight the war on poverty and injustice. Additional information on HSAN can be found at

Jericho Bleakness Has Sunny Side

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(Nov. 8, 2006) There are mushroom clouds on the horizon, civilization as we know it is coming to an end ... and
Ashley Scott could not be happier.  Every day, the lanky blond actress is forced to face the grim reality of a world devastated by nuclear holocaust: the world of Jericho, the cataclysmic CBS serial drama (also seen here on A-Channel, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.) about a small Kansas farm community that has somehow been spared — why and to what end, we still don't know.  For that matter, neither does Scott. And she's happy about that, too.  "I met with the writers about a month ago, and we kind of all went in and talked about character development, and where they thought we were going to be.... They've been real cool about involving us in the development of the show and asking our opinions, which is really nice ...  "But I told them, `I'd like to know (a plot turn) just kind of as you write it ... when the script comes. I don't want to know the big picture. I'm not really good at secrets and it keeps it fun for me, because every time I get a script, I'm just like jazzed to read it. I can't wait to see what's gonna happen."  You would think that spending every day in a state of constant uncertainty, under the shadow of nuclear annihilation, would wear on a girl.  But hey, it's a living. And Ashley Scott has seen enough of the other side of the business to know when she's got a good thing going.  A former model from South Carolina, the 29-year-old's first regular series gig was on James Cameron's Vancouver-shot Dark Angel, which she joined in 2002, just in time for it to go off the air.  From there, she went straight into Birds of Prey, clad head to toe in form-fitting leather, her flowing locks clipped and dyed, kicking arch-criminal ass in a near-future New Gotham City as the mutant progeny of Batman and Catwoman.

The ambitious superheroine series lasted only half a season.  That one hurt. "It was such a great experience for me," she enthuses, thrilled to hear that it still lives in reruns here on the Showcase Action digital channel (Saturdays at 11 a.m.).  "I busted my booty on that show. I had a ball, though. I loved it.  "The problem was, the writers were such die-hard Batman fans, and they wanted to keep it dark and sexy and interesting, and the network wanted it to be so, you know, campy, so they're, like, `No, this is not what we signed up for ...'"  Then again, not signing up — or not being signed — can also be a good thing. A few years later, Scott dodged a career bullet when she was replaced post-pilot in the thankless role of the neighbour/love interest on the Friends spinoff Joey.  "Thank the Lord," Scott laughs. "If I wasn't already going to church then, I would certainly be going now. That would have been like ... well, my attention span is so short anyway, I would have wanted to kill myself."  Not signing, she reveals, was also key to her current happy status on Jericho. "During pilot season," she recalls, "I was going to go in for this other show that was, you know, a lawyer show, just your typical kind of `blah' ... I was getting desperate.  "But I ended up actually turning it down. The day that I read Jericho, I called CBS (about the lawyer show) and said ... `I don't want to do this. I want to go read for this other show.'  "So it ended up just working out beautifully."

Indeed, while not a runaway hit, Jericho has already built a strong and growing following.  "People are watching!" Scott exclaims; this is, after all, a new experience for her. "I'm so happy. The first episode, when it aired, my mother called everyone she has ever known any time, and made them swear to watch it. But we got decent ratings that night, and then the next time and the next time, then they picked us up ... it's just been a great ride."  The work itself is "an absolute blast," she says. "The writing is wonderful and the cast ... Skeet (Ulrich), Pamela Reed, Gerald McRaney, they are such pros and they're so much fun.... I really want this to keep going. I want it to last for years. I want to see (my character) have kids."  When she read for the role, Scott admits she was worried that her character, Emily Sullivan, was a little too "girl next door." In other words, too much like herself.  "For some reason, I always play these ass-kicking hardcore girls, while in my real life, I'm like in the garden, cooking ... really boring.  "But now they're starting to kind of flex that a little bit. You'll start seeing in the next few episodes some really exciting things that Emily gets to go out and do.  "I really am so blessed. And to top it off — the cherry on top — I live, like, 10 minutes away from where we shoot. And in L.A., that's like the best gift of all."


Kirk Franklin Inks TV Deal

Excerpt from

(November 2, 2006) *Gospel artist
Kirk Franklin is joining forces with producer-writer Bobby Smith Jr. and producer-casting director Robi Reed to launch Fo Yo Soul Film & Television, a production banner specializing in inspirational projects.  According to Daily Variety, Smith and Reed will serve as co-presidents, while Franklin will produce and potentially star in feature films developed by the company. As for television product, the company is developing a Franklin concert special and a daytime talk show that the singer will host.  "Since film and television are two of the most powerful mediums, it is my passion to use them to reach people for a greater purpose," Franklin said, according to Variety.  Smith and Reed will continue to oversee their respective companies, Imatra Prods. and Robi Reed Entertainment.

‘Bernie Mac’ Creator Wilmore Returns To Fox

Excerpt from

(November 7, 2006) *Television exec
Larry Wilmore, creator of Fox’s “The Bernie Mac Show,” is returning to the network with a new as-yet-untitled project set in the world of the U.S. government. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the series will chronicle the political and social workings of a government agency. Fox has already ordered a script of the pilot, the tone of which is being compared to the 1970s classic sitcom "All In the Family." "It's such a relevant and timely show," said Robin Schwartz, president of Fox-based producer Regency TV, which produced “Bernie Mac” as well as “Malcolm in the Middle.”  Despite winning a writing Emmy for “Bernie Mac,” Wilmore was fired from the show in 2003 after clashing with Fox executives over the program’s creative direction.



Kevin Richardson - From Boy To Leading Man

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Nov. 6, 2006) From the Backstreet to the front lines: in his first interview since announcing his departure from the famous group last June, former Backstreet Boys member Kevin Richardson told the Star he'll head to Toronto as lead in the hit musical Chicago when it starts performances here at the Princess of Wales Theatre on Nov. 21.  But first, he'll appear in the gala celebration on Nov. 14 marking the 10th anniversary of the show on Broadway, sharing the spotlight with the likes of Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking, Melanie Griffiths, Ashlee Simpson and Brooke Shields.  "It's an honour just to be onstage with those people," said Richardson over the phone from his home just outside of Lexington, Ky. "I look at that line-up and say, `Kevin, what did you ever do to wind up rubbing elbows with stars like that?'"  His modesty is charming, especially when delivered in his low-key, hickory-smoked drawl, but it ignores the fact that for 13 years he was a member of a band whose six albums sold more than 75 million copies.  On June 23, he announced he was leaving the group, "in order to move on with the next chapter of my life."  He only issued a brief statement then kept quiet during the subsequent keening from his devoted followers.  So why did he do it?  There's a long pause at the end of the line, so long in fact, it almost seems the phone has gone dead. Then he answers.  "I was at a point in my life when I wanted to examine some of the other things that go into making up Kevin Richardson. You see, I'm not like a lot of other people in show business. I'm not what you'd call a multi-tasker. When I commit myself to something, I commit 100 per cent and that's what I did when I was a Backstreet Boy.

"But there were other aspects of my life, other dreams and desires that I was neglecting."  It's not hard to get him to expound on what they are. He's set up his own production company to help nurture young talent; his work for various environmental causes is well known and — on a more personal note — he and his wife of six years, Kristin Willits-Richardson, "want to start a family."  And right now, he's stepping back into the patent-leather shoes of the slickest of all shyster lawyers, Billy Flynn, in Chicago. It's a part he's played before (on Broadway in 2002 and in London the following year), but he feels he's only scratched the surface.  "Billy knows how to play the game," he says, discussing the character as though he were a slightly disreputable friend. "He's been through it long enough and he knows how to manipulate the system."  The way he does it is to "give them the old razzle dazzle," but Richardson worries about playing that card too often.  "I think we can get too much flash in our lives," he laments. "You find it everywhere nowadays; it's not just in show business, it's on Wall Street, it's in Washington. It can overshadow talent."  Richardson sounds as though he's speaking from experience and, in a way, he is.  He was born on Oct. 3, 1971 in Kentucky and grew up on a farm near the small town of Irvine. In fact, he literally lived in a log cabin until he left home at the age of 18.  When asked what he remembers most about his childhood, he speaks without any hesitation.  "Music. It was there for me from the start. It seems like I was singing all my life. My mother loved gospel, and my dad liked to listen to George Jones and Merle Haggard. The first time I ever really performed was a church musical when I was 5 years old. I was so scared, I wound up crying and running off the stage."

But that was the last time that would happen. When Richardson hit high school, he encountered a teacher he still refers to almost reverentially as "Miss Kathy Butler," who steered him into the drama program.  "I got bit by the theatre bug," he chuckles, "and I had a blast." In a prophetic bit of casting, his first role was Conrad Birdie, the rock 'n' roll heartthrob inspired by Elvis Presley who drives all the girls mad in Bye Bye Birdie.  "I didn't know that would really happen to me one day," insists Richardson. "I didn't think that it could. But I do know that if it ever happened, I was sure going to enjoy it."  After high school, he headed off to Orlando, Fla., "to pursue my dreams" and wound up working at Disney World, playing "Aladdin, Prince Eric and a Ninja Turtle, if you can believe it."  Even then, he was feeding his theatre habit, performing at night in a dinner theatre as the young romantic lead in Barefoot in the Park.  All of that changed, however, the day he auditioned for a new boy band that was being formed, which proved to be the Backstreet Boys. But it wasn't the money, the fame or the hysterical fans that Richardson now recalls with fondness.  "The funnest part for me was the climb, the struggle, the beginning. You're experiencing things for the very first time. It's you against the world. When you finally make it, it's kinda strange, but it's not as exciting as you thought it was going to be."  When all was said and done, Richardson had shared 13 years of ups and downs with The Backstreet Boys and one wonders if the rest of the group resent his departure.  "No way. They totally understand where I'm coming from," maintains Richardson. "There's no bad blood. It's all good. They're my little brothers and we have a lot of love for each other."

Chicago runs Nov. 21-Dec. 3 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W. Tickets at or 416-872-1212.

Second City `Crasher' Leaving On High Note

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rori Caffrey, Toronto Star

(Nov. 4, 2006) Naomi Snieckus
is a funny lady. Funny both ways.  She's "funny ha ha," as you would expect of anyone who stars in Second City's live comedy. Catherine O'Hara, John Candy, Mike Myers — the alumni list says it all. And in its current revue, Bird Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Snieckus does her part to keep the laugh factory's legacy alive.  Whether playing it straight (as an uptight mother posing, unconvincingly, as her son in an MSN chat) or going over the top (sobbing hysterically about the state of the world during a first date front-seat tryst), she's confident in her execution. Laughter just follows her. The show has scored great reviews and Snieckus says she loves being part of it all.  She also says she's moving on. Tomorrow night's show will be her last performance.  This is where the other kind of funny kicks in — Snieckus is "funny odd." Here she is, in one of the most reputable comedy troupes, doing a show that she calls one of the best jobs she can imagine having. Why bow out?  Snieckus ponders the question while looking fondly around the green room of Second City's new Mercer St. theatre. "This is a hard place to leave," she says. "I love my job here, but, well, you can't have an 86-year-old woman on stage doing comedy, which is exactly what I'd become."  So after four years and five revues, the funny woman is forcing herself out on a high note. There are lots of other projects she wants to give her attention to: she has filmed two TV pilots, one with Colin Mochrie (Whose Line is it Anyway?) and the other with Spencer Rice of Kenny Vs. Spenny notoriety ("lots of fingers being crossed for that one"). She's also written a two-hander play with Second City colleague Matt Baram, is shooting the Punched Up mockumentary series for the Comedy Network and has an upcoming gig with the improv talk-show folks, Monkey Toast.  Funny and busy.

"You just start spinning some plates and try to keep them all in motion," she says laughing.  Steve Del Balso, Bird Flu's stage manager, has worked with Snieckus in both touring and mainstage shows over the years. He was even present the day she auditioned for the company ... under unusual terms. "She actually crashed the audition," he says.  (Snieckus confirms this. She had travelled here from Vancouver, her home at the time, expecting an audition call. When it never came, she says she "sucked it up" and arrived uninvited.)  "She was brilliant," recalls Del Balso. "A brilliant actress, and she might have even belted out a song.... She was a ball of energy up on stage.  "The producer at the time knew Naomi would be returning to Vancouver, so she chased her down the stairs and offered her the job."  He says Snieckus has a charm, onstage and off, that can't be denied.  "Naomi is the one who walks up onstage, smiles and audiences instantly love her."  Tomorrow, for Snieckus's final night in Bird Flu, the usual post-show improv segment will be replaced by a memorial of sorts. Second City alumni she's shared the stage with will return to perform in her favourite sketches in a send-off salute.  "My last night will be a celebration of all the people who've helped me along the way, from the wait staff to the administration," she says.  "Hopefully it will be a little bit of hoopla."

Mississauga Actress Stuck On Hairspray

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Nov. 7, 2006) Anyone who doubts the holding power of
Hairspray should talk to Tara Macri.  For nearly three years, the hit musical has had a grip on the 26-year-old Mississauga-born actress. It's taken her from Toronto to Broadway, with a lot of fascinating stops along the way.  Since Oct. 24, Macri has played the part of super-brat Amber von Tussel on the Great White Way and is having the time of her life.  "On my first night, I thought `Oh God, I'm so nervous,' so I decided to just go out there and have fun. You know what? I did!"  She's played the show at the Princess of Wales Theatre and other venues during her nine months with the American touring company, but there's something physically different about performing in New York.  "You think everything is going to be bigger, but the stage is actually smaller and the audience are all packed in so closely together. It creates a real sense of excitement," she says with surprise.  If you looked closely, you'd see that same sense of excitement has followed Macri during her brief but eventful career.  Even though as a child she recalls always "performing whenever I could," her aspirations didn't really form until she entered the Etobicoke School of the Arts.  At age 17, before she even graduated, she walked into an open call for the Stratford Festival production of West Side Story and emerged cast in three productions.  She was also the understudy for Maria and, when Ma-Anne Dionisio developed vocal trouble that summer, Macri found herself playing the role dozens of times to enthusiastic response.  She never looked back. Macri started to work all over the country as a younger singer and actress of distinction.

And then came Hairspray. She went in assuming she would try out for the cheerfully preppy Penny and for "seven or eight auditions over two months," that's what happened.  But one day near the end, director Jack O'Brien "looked at me kind of funny, and told me to come in the next day and audition for Amber."  Macri has been keeping herself busy apart from Hairspray in recent years, working on an album of songs under the guidance of Amy Sky.  She's finding it a release to write these days because, "I broke up with my boyfriend who I've been with a long time. I've got something to write about. Hopefully it won't be a totally bitter Alanis Morissette kind of thing ... but pretty close."  And now she's also part of the Big Apple. "I love the energy here in New York," she shouts, eyes shining, "I'd like to stay here and work forever."  Then suddenly she looks about 17 again as she says, "but Toronto is my home and I already miss all my family and friends."  One part ambitious woman, one part dependent child. Just stick them together with a little hairspray and you've got Tara Macri.


The Hoff To Appear In The Producers

Source: Associated Press

(Nov. 2, 2006) NEW YORK — From the surf and sand of Baywatch to the flamboyant Roger DeBris. 
David Hasselhoff will appear in the Las Vegas production of The Producers, portraying the outrageous director who wears a dress that makes him look like the Chrysler Building and gets to tap dance as a show-biz-loving Adolf Hitler.  The Producers begins performances Jan. 31 at Paris Las Vegas. Brad Oscar will play the opportunistic Max Bialystock in the production. No word yet on who will be nebbish accountant Leo Bloom in this stage version of Mel Brooks' 1968 movie about a pair of con artists who over-finance a Broadway musical in the hopes of producing a flop. The Broadway production has been playing at the St. James Theatre since April 2001.  "I am honoured to be a part of anything Mel Brooks is involved with," said Hasselhoff, who has appeared on Broadway in Jekyll & Hyde. "He has always been my favourite man of comedy."  Said Brooks in return: Hasselhoff "has an incredible comedic timing, terrific musical theatre experience and a stage presence that I think will be a perfect marriage with the role. And, by the way, he has great legs for that dress."  Besides appearing as Lt. Mitch Buchannon in the popular TV series about lifeguards protecting the beaches of Southern California, Hasselhoff has starred in such TV shows as The Young and the Restless and Knight Rider.



Last Dance For Moving Pictures

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Dance Writer

(Nov. 3, 2006) The
15th Moving Pictures Festival of Dance on Film and Video, at the Gladstone Hotel through tomorrow, will be the last.  The annual screening of dance films and videos has been a fixture of the dance season since 1992. Artistic director and co-founder Kathleen Smith says the time has come to "step off the treadmill and make way for new approaches to the presentation of dance on film and video."  Funding was not so much an issue as the changing format of dance on the screen. In the early years of Moving Pictures, dance film was a growing art form and feature films suitable for cinema screening were being made by important artists. Since then, the trend is more toward documentaries, shorts and videos created for TV.  The festival goes out on a high note with a selection of films that will have a life beyond their premiere screenings in the Gladstone's salon.  Thierry de Mey, director of choice for European choreographers such as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Wim Vandekeybus has collaborated with William Forsythe in the making of One Flat Thing, Reproduced (today, 9 p.m.)

Forsythe's Frankfurt-based company took over the Bockenheimer Depot, a 19th-century industrial space, to re-stage a work from 2000 and adapt the dance for film. Two cameras picked up the intricate interplay of stasis and movement as 14 dancers in colourful workout costumes created ever-changing variations on 20 beige-topped tables arranged in a grid. Phoenix Dance (today, 9 p.m.) presents the beauty of a one-legged dancer mastering a pas de deux in his new body. After he lost his right hip and leg to cancer, Homer Avila, who has danced with Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones, Mark Morris and Momix, went back to the studio.  Filmmaker Karina Epperlein follows him through exercises, training and work with choreographer Alonzo King, as he creates a dance for Avila and Andrea Flores.  Tim Southam's heart-rending Perreault Dancer (today, 7 p.m.) is a documentary about the life and works of Montreal choreographer Jean-Pierre Perreault, who died in 2002. In so fully chronicling the man and his unique body of work, Southam does the dance world a great service, because Perreault's Foundation and the dance centre it occupied came to a close shortly after his death.  A short, from choreographer/dancer Barbara Pallomina and photographer John Lauener, called Gleaning (tomorrow, 9 p.m.), an artfully arranged study in rhythm, was inspired by the flight of crows at dusk.  The festival winds up tomorrow with a screening of The Best of Moving Pictures, selections from 15 years of hits.



Toronto Artists' Night To Shine

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Nov. 6, 2006) OTTAWA—Officially the black-tie occasion at the NationalArts Centre on Saturday night was known as the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Gala — but if you do the math you might conclude it should be called the Toronto Arts Awards.  Of the seven artists being honoured at one of the year's most glamorous cultural events, five were either Toronto residents or ex-Torontonians who went on to achieve global superstar status working in the U.S.  An emotional high point of the evening was the award to veteran CBC information producer Mark Starowicz, a onetime student radical at McGill who spearheaded CBC's radio revolution in the 1970s with Radio Free Friday, As It Happens and Sunday Morning — and then went on in the 1980s to invent The Journal, the greatest current-affairs program in Canadian TV history.  Peter Mansbridge, appearing onstage with an intense appreciation that set the crowd abuzz, said it was Starowicz's mammoth project Canada: A People's History that proved to be the jewel in his crown.  "There's a persistent idea that Canadians aren't interested in their own stories," Starowicz said. "I've made a living proving that isn't true."  "Mark Starowicz taught us to think big and be bold," Mansbridge added. "The irony is that it took a Polish immigrant to tell the story of Canada."  The gala was the final event of a three-day marathon during which the recipients were presented in Parliament, visited the Mint and were feted at Rideau Hall by Governor General Michaëlle Jean.  Jean set the tone when she said: "Let us pay tribute to artists who keep us from reducing societies to mere facts and figures ... a society that does not encourage its artists to thrive is doomed to boredom and ultimately ruin."  The National Arts Centre — whose CEO Peter Herrndorf helped invent this glittery love-in for the arts 15 years ago — gave its award for outstanding artist of the year to Richard Bradshaw, the 62-year-old British-born general director of the Canadian Opera Company. Bradshaw's miraculous double achievement in 2005 was to open the opera house some said Toronto would never build, and then triumphantly stage Wagner's monumental Ring cycle.  In his salute to the maestro, opera singer Russell Braun explained that since moving here in 1988, Bradshaw had been "lit on fire" by the potential he saw in his adopted city. Braun joined five other COC singers for an aria from Così fan tutte.

The Cinderella of the evening was former dancer and arts activist Joysanne Sidimus, whose story was much less familiar to the audience than those of her big-name fellow honourees. It began almost half a century ago when she became a noted ballerina with Balanchine's New York City Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.  "Everything you are is revealed in that moment when the curtain goes up," Sidimus recalled.  But the true mission of her life began in the early 1970s when Sidimus retired from dancing — and was so depressed she could not get out of bed for months. And she knew of 15 dancers who committed suicide.  Since then she has devoted much of her life to helping dancers and other artists make the transition from their peak performing years into a rewarding life after they leave the stage.  In 1985, Sidimus founded the Dancer Transition Resource Centre, a unique organization that has helped thousands of dancers make that big leap.  She was also the driving force behind the Al and Malka Green Artists' Health Centre at Toronto Western Hospital.  According to Karen Kain, who along with Veronica Tennant paid tribute to Sidimus at the gala, "You understood the personal needs that dancers have."  The ultimate celebrity's celebrity was Lorne Michaels, the kid from Forest Hill Collegiate and the UofT's annual UC Follies show who wound up at NBC in New York creating the most enduring comedy machine in TV history, Saturday Night Live.

Along the way he promoted the careers of many Canadians, including Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Martin Short, composer Howard Shore and band leader Paul Shaffer, who delivered a salute to Michaels at the NAC gala.  "This week has been a revealing experience," said Michaels, who brought his two sons, 14 and 12, to Ottawa for the event. "It gathered momentum as we all got to know each other."  The final recipient of the gala was Robbie Robertson, who split his childhood between Toronto and the Six Nations Reserve before going on to huge success with The Band, writing and singing "Up on Cripple Creek" and "The Weight."  Buffy Sainte-Marie, another great singer-composer, appeared onstage with the perfect comments on his career. When she first saw him playing guitar for Ronnie Hawkins in the 1960s, "I didn't know he was aboriginal, but I knew he was hot."  The great thing about Robertson, she added, was that he was homegrown and self-taught. "It never sounded like work and it never sounded like school," she added. "Robbie Robertson's music was the real deal."  In an interview, Roberston told the Star: "This whole occasion has been much more fun that I ever imagined. It gathered momentum as the week went on. I've been involved with a lot of awards events, and I'd have to say this is the most elegant one I've ever encountered."  The show — with hosts Rick Mercer and Dominique Michel — will be telecast Jan. 4 on CBC.

More Than Ever, Celebrities Of All Stripes Are Becoming Environmentally Active

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Nov. 4, 2006) Should we look to the stars to save our planet?  There have always been big-name celebrities and public figures to ally themselves with worthy causes — from Vietnam War opponent Jane Fonda to Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof to the late land mine activist Princess Diana — but never as many as there are today.  The latest wave of celebrity do-gooders are turning their attention to the environment. Leonardo DiCaprio is sounding the alarm on global warming. So are Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette, who jointly narrate a Canadian documentary on the issue called The Great Warming, opening this weekend across the United States.  Chinese basketball great Yao Ming is decrying the toll shark fin soup is having on the fearsome fishes' global populations. Bono's One campaign is fighting global poverty and its economic and environmental consequences and seeking high-profile support from film stars George Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt.  Former U.S. vice president Al Gore, a celebrity in his own right, has built a second career as a crusader for global-warming awareness. This week he was appointed international consultant on climate change in the U.K.  Actors including Martin Short and Ed Begley Jr. have joined Go Zero, a program that measures the amount of carbon they produce as a result of their lifestyles and then plants the required number of trees to absorb the emissions.  With more evidence every day that global warming is leading the planet into a desperate future and other indicators of degradation, environmental issues have become the cause du jour of the renowned and famous. But is celebrity support always good for the cause?  For some, it can't come a moment too soon.  "I think at this stage, anything is a good thing. Especially on the climate change issue, anybody who stands up and says something is a good thing. Time is running out and if celebrities who have the magic honey are prepared to speak out, I'm all in favour of it," says Peter Timmerman, an associate professor with York University's environmental studies program.  Ingrid Stefanovic, director of the University of Toronto's Centre for the Environment, has seen the effect of having marquee names at the centre's annual Natural City conferences in recent years, among them Robert Kennedy Jr., son of the late senator and a respected environmentalist; naturalist and chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall; and former UN envoy Stephen Lewis.  As a result, Stefanovic says, those conferences have drawn much larger crowds of academics and concerned citizens and mobilized action that would otherwise not have happened. A scholarship fund in Goodall's name is just one example.  "What I've been trying to do is identify people who through their renowned status obviously bring attention to environmental issues not simply because of who they are but also because of what they have to say and the way they ... say it. They're excellent communicators," Stefanovic says.  But she is wary of "a celebrity for the sake of having a celebrity" mentality that may cloud the bigger issue.

"Often agencies are approaching me to say, `Would you like to use this person or use that person?' It isn't enough that they're ... a celebrity, they have to be able to communicate something important or of value," Stefanovic says.  "It's important to be careful. A lot of people are scaremongers today. You can find celebrities who can worry everybody about the fact that the sky is falling but that doesn't lead us very far." She admits, however, that there is plenty of reason to fear for the environment.  But star power also brings the risk of giving ammunition to cynical pundits and others who can criticize the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous. Several bloggers, for instance, note the hypocrisy of "preachy" celebrities who use gas-guzzling Hummers or private jets. It can also turn off the public who may perceive celebrities' interest as a passing fancy.  "You simply do not want to take these environmental challenges and turn them into fashions that come and go. ... Global climate change is not a fad," Stefanovic says.  Candida Paltiel, director of Toronto's Planet In Focus film festival, which ends tomorrow, is less timid, noting celebrities are an excellent medium to publicize important issues.  "For too long, environmentalism and environmental issues have been set to the margins and the environment affects everyone. It's not a marginal issue, it's a mainstream issue," Paltiel says.  "Celebrities know they are very privileged members of society and ... they understand that they can play a very powerful role in influencing people."  Paltiel compares two recent celebrity events that captivated millions worldwide: Madonna's controversial decision to adopt a Malawian orphan and DiCaprio's public stance on global warming.  "We know that it's questionable what Madonna did in Malawi, perhaps, but is Leonardo DiCaprio harming anyone by bringing to the fore the ... issue of global warming? I don't think so," she added.  But Paltiel noted that celebrities aren't scientists and can run a risk of losing their credibility by appearing so.  "If you want to get scientific information, then you go to the experts and the scientists that understand the science behind climate change ... or the effects of deforestation," Paltiel says.

Using a celebrity as the mouthpiece for a serious cause can have the unintended result of making that cause seem superficial. "That's why you don't depend on them for the expertise," she adds.  Derek Leebosh, a senior associate at Environics Research Group, a national polling firm, worries that too much celebrity support may end up trivializing an important issue.  "You can almost invite a backlash where people will say, `What the hell does Barbra Streisand know about global warming?' This is more a problem in the U.S. than in Canada," says Leebosh, noting U.S. political figures have been hurt by too many Hollywood endorsements.  Environmental causes are being embraced more and more by young people who tend to idolize celebrities, Leebosh says. But that invites another possible risk.  "I think very few people would want to admit their views were influenced by celebrities. It's the same thing with advertising; nobody wants to admit they've been influenced by advertising but billions of dollars get spent on advertising just the same," Leebosh says.  Perry Zimel of Oscars, Abrams, Zimel and Associates — an international agency that manages entertainers' careers — says he strongly support clients who want to get involved in environmental and other causes.  "It's about time talent start using their celebrity for selling more than shampoos and cell phones. I just wish more people were doing it," Zimel says.  "You got some talent who are actually using the power that they have to promote anything from hybrid cars to solar panels to what Bono's doing in Africa; it's unbelievable," Zimel says.  Actor Wendy Crewson, one of Zimel's clients, is a national spokesperson for ALS and has recently become involved in the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Another client, Leslie Hope, actually gave up work to make a documentary on the plight of orphans in Cambodia, he says. Both Christian Slater and Keifer Sutherland have lent their voices to environmental causes.  "I take my hat off to Angelina Jolie. I wish that we, in our country, had bigger stars so they could actually do more because the Wendy Crewsons are few and far between," he added.  Timmerman points to the activism that singer Sandra Harmer has done to preserve the Niagara Escarpment — including her recent song, "Escarpment Blues" — as a great example of effective local environmental activism.  But he is concerned that some celebrities may have a hidden agenda of self-promotion.  "The thing that's most important is that if celebrities are going to get involved, that it isn't just one more celebrity finding a good cause to buff their name and image on," Timmerman says. "Some celebrities are worth emulating and some are not."  If a Hollywood star is known for, say, a drunk-driving record, then installing solar panels or driving a hybrid car would only go so far toward improving his public image.  "Just because somebody has a Prius, (do) they somehow become noble?" asks Timmerman.

Kate Moss Named U.K. Model Of The Year

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Nov. 2, 2006) LONDON —
Kate Moss was named Britain's Model of the Year on Thursday, despite cocaine allegations that lost her millions of dollars in modeling contracts.  Moss, 32, won out over two other finalists — Erin O'Connor and Alek Wek — at the British Fashion Awards.  "Kate Moss is a fashion icon and without doubt one of the most prolific models in the industry," the awards panel said in naming her the winner. "She has now been modeling for over 15 years and remains at the top of her game.''  The British Fashion Council refused to comment on the potential controversy of Moss's nomination.  Moss lost contracts with H&M, Chanel, Gloria Vanderbilt and Burberry after the Daily Mirror newspaper published photos last year of her allegedly using cocaine at a music studio where her boyfriend, Pete Doherty, was recording.  After the pictures were published, Moss publicly apologized and went to a drug rehabilitation clinic in Arizona. Prosecutors decided in June there was insufficient evidence to charge her. Since then, she has made a comeback, appearing frequently in fashion magazines and winning back contracts.  Still, some say giving an award to someone whose career has been marked by drug allegations sets a bad example.  "To me it's baffling," said Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos, speaking in Britain this week during an anti-drug campaign.  "Model of the Year" is an industry accolade for the British model who has contributed the most to the international fashion scene over the last year. Leading press, buyers and industry figures choose the winner from a shortlist compiled by British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman and a committee.

"She's the kind of survivor we all want to be," said Jeremy Baker, a fashion expert at London Metropolitan University, of Moss. ``The paradox is that since this time last year the scandal made her a lot better off.''  Since the cocaine allegations, Moss has won more than a dozen contracts with names including Bulgari, Christian Dior and Rimmel cosmetics. She has also signed deals with cellphone brand Virgin Mobile and French luxury label Longchamp. Topshop also recruited her to create a new clothing and accessories line, which will be launched next spring.  George Ruston, director of Hope U.K., a drug education charity, said the companies paying Moss and the council nominating her contribute to glorifying drug use.  "They're making decisions to reward the behaviour," Ruston said. "I really don't think people should be making personal gain out of stuff that is causing lots of problems in the world. I think the responsibility partly lies with the people who are funding, using Kate Moss' notoriety for their own economic purposes.''

Herb Jordan: Author Compiles Motown's Love Lyrics

Excerpt from - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(November 7, 2006) The love songs of
Motown Records have long been the catalyst of millions of romantic nights. The mellow melodies and harmonies won the hearts of many, but award-winning composer and producer Herb Jordan believes falling in love to Motown was more than being entranced by the rhythms.  Jordan has compiled the lyrics of some of the best-know Motown love songs for the book “Motown In Love: Lyrics from the Golden Era,” which he believes played a part in making Motown music so romantic.  Now fans of the legendary label can get more in-depth with the famous lines and lyrics of Motown hits such as “I’ll Be There,” “My Girl,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Please Mr. Postman,” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”   “I really thought it was important for people to take a look at the words as poetry… and maybe to slow it down a little bit, because Motown music is so propulsive and energetic,” Jordan said about why he decided to do the project. “I thought it made sense to separate out the lyrics, just for a moment, so people could appreciate the poetry.” The project is a fine relief and a reminder that there are more elements to music than a great bass line. And because there probably isn’t much debate that the lyrics of yesteryear are more eloquent than those on the airwaves today, “Motown In Love” is a welcome reference.

“I don’t think there is any question that the songs are more romantic in a traditional sense than what hip-hop is doing today. I think people tend to view black culture, and in particular black men, as being hard, if not heartless. One of the things that you appreciate about Motown is the romance in the lyrics. They wrote elegantly about love and they described male/female relationships in such elevated terms that it really ranks as some as the greatest music and some of the most profound love songs ever,” Jordan said. The book, which is already available in stores and online, is a collection of songs made popular in the ‘60s thanks to singer-songwriters including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Marvin Gaye and the super-collabos of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Ashford and Simpson, and Strong and Whitfield. As such, these lyricists do get a piece of the pie along with Jordan who wrote the poignant essays about the music, the label and the time. In addition, the book includes rarely seen photographs of the artists and songwriters. Jordan, who has a musical and legal background, said he was compelled to do the project, clearly not for the money – but because it was important for generations that have enjoyed the music of Motown to really understand it and the legends behind the music. “I think this is music that people need to hear and has maintained its popularity over generations. But perhaps it’s a time to get away from the concept that it was just the feel-good music of the 1960s and consider how important this music is and the reason that it’s lasted all this time is that there’s real substance to it. These kids out of the ghetto of Detroit were masters of the craft. I think sometimes people overlook how much genius went into the creation of this music,” he said. “We tend to hear the music first and the lyrics second. I think anyone who buys this book will have a different experience with this music than they ever had before. Most of the writers were young black men and I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people how brilliant these lyrics are.” Jordan continued that he feels the songwriters were very forthcoming in showing their vulnerability and sharing their personal experiences regarding very universal issues, and that that’s what endeared the songs to all who listened to them. “There’s a message here that transcends neighbourhood, community, race and it speaks to something that ties all of us together, and that’s love,” he said. “Motown In Love: Lyrics from the Golden Era” is available in stores now and a companion CD is expected to be released in February 2007, just in time for Valentine’s Day.


Denzel Gives Props To Mentors In New Book

Excerpt from

(November 6, 2006) *In his new book, “A Hand to Guide Me,”
Denzel Washington celebrates the often ignored role of mentors in the lives of high achievers. The actor gathers essays from more than 70 famous entertainers, sports figures, businessmen and political leaders who share stories of their own childhood mentors. "It's a celebration of the people behind the people — those who don't get the recognition who influence the Bill Clintons or the Jimmy Carters or the George Steinbrenners of the world," Washington told the Associated Press. Among those featured in the book are Whoopi Goldberg, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and both former presidents Clinton and Carter. In Washington's own story, he writes of a counsellor who mentored him at the Boys Club in his hometown of Mount Vernon, N.Y., a high school English teacher who had students read the New York Times every morning. He also found a mentor in a barber at a shop where he earned money sweeping. Washington said he hopes the book will inspire adults to "find themselves in it and reach out" to a child who may need a similar guiding hand. "We all have the potential to help out and inspire young people and to make an impression upon them," Washington said. The Oscar winner says he will receive no money from the book. Sixty percent of the proceeds will help fund the Atlanta-based Boys and Girls Clubs of America, with a quarter of that going to his childhood club in Mount Vernon.



Raptors Blast Bucks For First Win

Source: Canadian Press

(Nov. 3, 2006) TORONTO (CP) - Chris Bosh had game highs of 26 points and 15 rebounds to lead the
Toronto Raptors to a resounding 109-92 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in their home-opener Friday at the Air Canada Centre.  T.J. Ford finished with 13 points and a game-high 11 assists in his first game against his former team. Fred Jones added 15 points for Toronto (1-1), while Morris Peterson pitched in with 14 and Jose Calderon finished with 14.  Andrew Bogut led the Bucks (1-1) with 18 points, while former Raptor Charlie Villanueva, who was also battling his former team for the first time, had 17 points and 11 rebounds.  The game was a promising beginning for a team that opened last season a dreadful 1-15 en route to a 27-55 finish, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year.  Toronto led by four points heading into the final quarter, then poured it on the fourth, taking a 19-point lead with 4:46 left in the game on a long jump shot by Anthony Parker that brought the sell-out crowd of 19,800 to its feet.

The happy fans at the ACC stood and cheered the team on through the final few minutes as the Raptors continued to expand on their lead, going ahead by 23 on a pair of free throws by Ford with just over three minutes to play. Raptors coach Sam Mitchell fielded the rest of his bench for the final couple of minutes and Toronto cruised to victory.  The game was big for Bosh, who missed half of the pre-season with plantar fasciitis, and had been angry at himself after finishing with just 14 points and five boards in the Raptors' loss Wednesday night at New Jersey. He obviously wasn't about to go home unhappy again, scoring from all over the floor, including several resounding dunks. He shot 12-for-16 on the night.  Villanueva, who was traded to the Bucks in the off-season for Ford and received a warm cheer during team introductions, also had a solid game, shooting 8-for-15 from the floor before leaving the game with a calf injury midway through the fourth quarter.  Bosh and the Raptors were looking to make up for a dismal shooting performance in their 102-92 loss at New Jersey in their season-opener, when they made just 39 per cent of their shots. Friday, they finished at 53.4 per cent. They also out rebounded the Bucks 44-38, and beat them in second-chance points 17-8.  The game featured a glitzy intro, with plenty of pyrotechnics, a drum group and a flaming Raptor claw at centre-court. Canadian recording artist
Keshia Chante performed the national anthems, and Bosh addressed the crowd before tip-off, saying, ''We look forward to a great year. Thank you.''     The Raptors came out with plenty of energy Friday, a pair of dunks by Bosh and a three-pointer by Peterson helping Toronto to a nine-point lead less than four minutes into the game. The Raptors shot 50 per cent in the quarter, and led 27-21 heading into the second.

Toronto stretched its lead to 12 early in the second, but Villanueva poured it on with 10 points and six rebounds in the frame. A three-pointer by Redd gave the Bucks a three-point lead late in the half, and Jones responded with a three with 2.9 seconds on the clock, and the game was tied 50-50 at halftime.  Bosh scored 10 points in the points in the third as the Raptors went ahead 71-62 with 4:51 left in the quarter. But an eight-point scoring stretch by Bogut allowed the Bucks to pull within two.  The Raptors led 79-75 with a quarter to play.

NOTES: Friday's game was the first of four straight at home. The Raptors host San Antonio on Sunday, then Philadelphia and Atlanta before heading out on a gruelling five-game Western road swing. .. Actor
Samuel L. Jackson had a seat on the baseline. .. The Raptors are 6-6 in home openers.

Jackie Parker - 'Football lost a hero today'

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(Nov. 8, 2006) EDMONTON—He became one of the greatest CFL players of all-time, but
Jackie Parker didn't impress his teammates much when he first walked into the dressing room.  "The kid from Mississippi with the big ears and the big feet," Alberta Lt.-Gov. Norman Kwong recalled yesterday after Parker's death at age 74 from throat cancer.  In 1954, Kwong was a star running back with the feared Edmonton Eskimos.  "(Parker) wasn't very imposing when we first met — really skinny legs. But he could really run and do everything else. He made an impression on us the very first time he took the field. It was a big surprise when we saw him perform."  Those skinny legs — Parker was later to earn the nickname Ole Spaghetti Legs — took their owner to a legendary career.  "Football has lost a hero today in Jackie Parker," said B.C. Lions president and CEO Bob Ackles.  Parker died in an Edmonton hospital after ailing for some time. Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.  He seemed destined for greatness, although it was baseball he excelled in back home in Knoxville, Tenn. He went to Mississippi State on a baseball scholarship, but soon turned to football.  After he joined the CFL in 1954, he spent the next 13 years starring as a quarterback, halfback and defensive back — running, passing, kicking and tackling on both sides of the ball.  He stayed with the Eskimos until 1962. He then played with the Toronto Argonauts from 1963 to 1965 before moving to the B.C. Lions in 1966 for three years. He played on three Grey Cup winners with Edmonton, was named the CFL's top player three times and was an all-star for eight straight years.

He passed for 16,476 yards and scored 88 touchdowns, kicked 103 converts, 40 field goals and 19 singles for 750 points.  "The city has lost a great citizen," said Hugh Campbell, who retired as Eskimos general manager, president and CEO at the end of this year's regular season.  "The Eskimo family mourns the loss of Jack and our thoughts are with Jack's immediate family."  CFL commissioner Tom Wright said Parker ranked among the best of the CFL's greats.  "He passed and ran with style, and in many ways was the prototypical versatile quarterback who is the hallmark of our league."  Despite his impressive stats, Parker may be remembered most for one play — a fumble recovery in the 1954 Grey Cup when he scooped up the ball that Montreal's Chuck Hunsinger had dropped and rambled close to 90 yards for a touchdown to tie the game and set up the winning convert.  Always a cool customer, Parker was also known as the Mississippi Gambler for his sleight of hand with the football on rollouts.  And he may also have been the player who was responsible for the long-standing Labour Day rivalry between the Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders.  On that holiday in 1960, Parker ran for a touchdown to tie the game with just 25 seconds left and then kicked his own convert to give his Eskimos a 29-28 victory over the Stampeders.

Parker kicked a last-play field goal the following year to again give Edmonton the win. A tradition was born, a rivalry bred, and for many Albertans, Labour Day came to mean just one thing — football.  Parker may not have been the most technically perfect player. He once joked about how the circles on the tips of the CFL ball only drew attention to his wobbly spirals.  "He didn't throw the prettiest pass, he didn't kick the finest field goals," said Kwong, who remembers a game against Calgary when Parker bounced a three-pointer off the crossbar and through the uprights.  "But he always got the job done somehow. He always did it with drama."  The Saskatoon StarPhoenix newspaper ran a poll in 2000 to pick the top 50 players in CFL history. Parker came in first.

Gavadza Thrilled To Get Late-Season Argos Call

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(Nov. 8, 2006) OAKVILLE, Ont. — The second time was indeed the charm for
Jason Gavadza and the Toronto Argonauts.  Prior to the start of the season, the Argos made an inquiry to Gavadza about joining the CFL club. But after being released in the off-season by the B.C. Lions, the six-foot-three, 249-pound tight end-fullback opted against continuing his pro football career, instead deciding to concentrate full-time on a budding real estate career as well as building a new life with his wife, Bernadette.  That's hardly a surprise considering that between 2000 and 2005, Gavadza had bounced between 11 teams in three different leagues in three different countries. But this week, with Canadian fullback Jeff Johnson on crutches with a heel injury, the Argos came calling to Gavadza, only this time the 30-year-old Toronto native was only too quick to accept.  "I started my business up and married my wife (in February 2005) and we wanted to start looking forward to a family," Gavadza said. "You can't play football forever so I just made a tough decision.  "Now, things are going well and I get a call. Talk about excitement."  Especially considering Gavadza is just one win away from returning to the Grey Cup. He appeared in the 2004 final with the B.C. Lions, who ironically lost 27-19 to the Argos in Ottawa. This year's game will be held Nov. 19 in Winnipeg.  "The little kid in me is screaming out in my throat about it," he said. "My in-laws are from Saskatchewan, they're just three hours from Winnipeg and they're excited.  "My father-in-law has three daughters and I'm his son. He thought it was April Fool's Day and I said, 'No, I hope you've got a day free because you might be seeing me but watch me Sunday.' "  Johnson was hurt in Toronto's thrilling 31-27 East Division semifinal win over Winnipeg last weekend and isn't expected to play in the conference final Sunday against the Montreal Alouettes (CBC, 1 p.m. ET).

But Gavadza, who played collegiately as a tight end at Kent State, has fond memories about the last time he joined a team one game into the playoffs. In 2000, he signed with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens after the opening round of the NFL post-season and the club went on to capture the Super Bowl.  "It's deja vu from 2000 with Baltimore when they called me at the same time of the year," Gavadza said. "My wife is excited and happy for me.  "She had tears in her eyes (when Argos called) and I didn't. I was, 'Where are my cleats? Let me call my trainer because I need a three-day workout and a three-week workout. Let's get going here.' "  The Argos signed Gavadza and offensive lineman John Feugill on Tuesday because of injuries to Johnson and tackle Jerome Davis (ribs). Ironically, Feugill was Toronto's starting right tackle in 2003-04 before being supplanted by Davis.  Head coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons said Toronto was fortunate to land a player like Gavadza this late in the season, however he has modest expectations for the newest Argo. Gavadza would back up Ricky Williams at fullback and play some tight end or receiver offensively while also taking part on special teams.  "We want him to just contribute what he can, to play within himself," Clemons said. "We didn't bring him in to transform our team.  "We feel we've gotten a great player and person to augment what is already a very good football team. We're going to ask him to do a few things offensively and on special teams. If those things go well, he'll get more opportunities."  And that's fine with Gavadza.  "What they want me to do, tight end and fullback plays, I'm ready," he said. "That's what I've been doing for 15 years of my life. I can't wait."  Gavadza was a sixth-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000 before being released during training camp. After bouncing around the NFL, Gavadza was assigned to the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe by the St. Louis Rams in 2002. He missed the 2003 season with a serious shoulder injury but attended the Montreal Alouettes training camp in '04 before being released. He later joined the B.C. Lions as a free agent and went to the Grey Cup with the club. Gavadza spent last year with B.C. as a backup fullback and special-teams player.  "The word 'potential' was always there and the old adage that you want a coach that likes you and gives you that opportunity," Gavadza said of his life as a pro football nomad. "Every decision was different and you don't know the path given to you but you stay positive, you keep playing and good things happen."  Gavadza sees no trouble juggling his real estate career with his new day job.  "Athlete by day, agent by night," he said.

Bishop Makes His Case

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rick Matsumoto, Sports Reporter

(Nov. 7, 2006) When the
Argonauts traded for quarterback Damon Allen just before the start of the 2003 CFL season, they knew they were getting a remarkably resilient athlete who had outfoxed Father Time.  Still, he was 39 years old. They knew the day would come when a younger player would have to take his place behind the centre.  Each year the Argos have brought in a number of potential candidates hoping to find Allen's eventual successor.  Perhaps he has finally arrived.  Michael Bishop, now in his fifth season as an Argo, stepped in on Sunday and in one minute and 45 seconds threw a pair of touchdown passes to lift the Argos past the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and into this week's East Division final against the Montreal Alouettes.  While that brief moment of heroics doesn't a starting quarterback make, Bishop, according to head coach Mike Clemons, has indicated he's grown to the next level as a quarterback.  He noted Bishop has become a more balanced player, although "still extremely excitable."  "But that's partly what we like about him. We don't want him to lose that zeal, that passion, that enthusiasm. But his whole approach to preparation, his knowledge of the game and all of those things have gone to another level. The growth in him is evident."  Bishop said yesterday his confidence has never wavered even though he's been a backup for the past four years. "Given the right opportunity and the right amount of time to play, I think there are some great things I can accomplish," he said. "But until I have that full opportunity, nobody will ever know."

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Bishop said he isn't frustrated at not becoming a starting quarterback. "I play football for a living. So as long as I can wake up each morning and keep throwing and running, everything else will take care of itself. I know what kind of player I am."  Bishop feels he's done his part and the rest is up to the Argos and how long the 43-year-old Allen keeps playing.  "If he wants to play two or three more years, that's up to Damon," he said. "All I can do is be ready. Football is just part of my life; it's not my whole life. So regardless of how they're playing me or if I don't get the opportunity, that's something I can't worry about. There are other things bigger than football."  In 2003, Bishop joined Marcus Brady as the backups behind Allen. In 2004, Brady was dealt to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Bishop and Scott Krause filled the No. 2 and 3 roles as the Argos won the Grey Cup and Allen was selected as the game's outstanding player.  Last year, with Bishop toiling in the Arena Football League and Krause retiring, the Argos brought in former NFLer Scott Covington as well as unknown Charlie Peterson. Covington didn't get past training camp.  Bishop returned and he and Peterson took up the backup positions as Allen enjoyed perhaps the finest season of his 21 years in the CFL. He was named the league's outstanding player for the first time even though the Argos' hopes of consecutive Grey Cup game appearances were cut short by the Alouettes in the East final.  Bishop was back in the AFL this spring with Chicago and earned a championship ring, and his return to Toronto was uncertain.

So the Argos went out and acquired Spergon Wynn from Winnipeg and signed former Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, who had bounced around a number of NFL teams.  In early August, after Wynn struggled when Allen was sidelined with a broken finger and Crouch showed he wasn't ready to become a starter, Bishop was summoned again. Used primarily in third-down, short-yardage plays, he finally got a chance to perform in a key situation on Sunday. With the Argos trailing 27-17, Bishop replaced Allen and threw a pair of TD passes to put the Boatmen in the Eastern final.  Allen will again be the starter against the Alouettes — Clemons made that clear. "I don't think there's any question about that," he said. "He's our leader. He's our guy."  While Allen declined to talk to the media yesterday, he said after Sunday's game he had no reason to be upset at being taken out of the game.  "From Day 1 we've said it takes all the quarterbacks to win a championship," he said. "Sometimes they have to come in, spark the team and make a few plays. It wasn't that I was playing badly. Sometimes heroes have to come off the bench."


Olympic Medal Winner Igali Attacked

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Thestar.Com Staff, Canadian Press

(Nov. 8, 2006)
[Note from Dawn - To send your get well wishes to Daniel, please email him at] Nigerian-born Canadian Olympic gold medalist Daniel Igali was attacked and robbed at his home in Nigeria, African newspapers have reported.  Igali was attacked last weekend by armed bandits in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, four days after he arrived in Nigeria from Canada.  In a telephone interview with the Daily Sunsport of Lagos, Igali said he no longer felt safe in Bayelsa State.  "I was stabbed at the back of my neck and beaten up with the butts of their guns," the athlete told reporters.  "They collected everything from me - phones, laptops and cash."  The Daily Champion, a Lagos-based newspaper, reported the stolen property was valued at 1.5 million naira ($13,625 Canadian).  Igali said he had reported the incident to police and officers confirmed they were investigating.  Igali won his gold medal in wrestling at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Tiger Woods To Design Golf Courses

Excerpt from

(November 8, 2006) *Tiger Woods has expanded his presence in the sport of golf with the launch of Tiger Woods Design, a company that aims to construct golf courses around the globe. "My goal is to provide a unique collection of amazing courses all over the world that represent what I love about golf," said Woods, who will be chairman of the company. Woods follows in the footsteps of other golfers-turned-architects such as Jack Nicklaus, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, and has thought about opening such a business for the past several years. No announcement has been made regarding the location of his first golf course, but the player said his courses would appeal to every skill level, drawing on his experience of playing in more than 20 countries on every continent. "I've had the luxury of playing golf around the world, and I've spent a lot of time evaluating how to play all kinds of courses," Woods said, according to the Associated Press. "I'd like to share my experience and the lessons I've learned and hopefully create some amazing, fun courses.” "There are golfers everywhere that may never get a chance to play a links course in Scotland, a tree-lined course in America or the sand belts of Australia," he added. "Hopefully, I can bring some of those elements into their backyards."



Timesaving Fitness Tips

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

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.
--Abraham Lincoln

(Nov. 5, 2006) A lot of people think they need to work out two hours a day in order to get lean and healthy. We put so much pressure on ourselves that failure is inevitable.  I have always contended that a workout should fit into your lifestyle and that the number of days and time spent working out, should be realistic. Consistency and shorter duration workouts is the key to this game.  That being said, I've constructed some helpful tips to make your workouts shorter but just as effective as one longer bout. Your goal is to create a minimal fitness plan for success. All you need is a few days per week and sessions lasting approximately 30 minutes.  Short duration workouts are not only time effective, but also produce a positive hormonal state. Many studies conclude that long workouts produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that strips muscle and places high levels of stress on the body, thereby creating an unhealthy state.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Perform circuit training: Circuit training is simply performing one exercise for each muscle group without rest. For example, one would do a chest exercise for 12 reps, followed by back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, legs, calves and abs. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat for two to three more cycles or until you reach the 20-30 minute time limit. It’s a great way to burn fat and limit workout time.

Design a split routine: You don't necessarily need to work every major muscle group in each workout. One day, work only your upper body for 20 minutes and then finish with 10 minutes of cardio. The next workout, do lower body and finish with 10 to 15 minutes of cardio.

Perform weights and cardio on separate days: One day focus only on cardio for 20 to 30 minutes, the next day weight train for 20 to 30 minutes. A few days later, Yoga or Pilates for 30 minutes. It’s an excellent way to balance your routine and stay invigorated.

Split your videotape workout: Lots of people love to exercise using videotapes and dance aerobic tapes. Who says you have you do it all in one session? Split the tape into two days (assuming it’s an hour tape) and slightly increase your intensity level each day. You’ll still get great results.

Weight/cardio mix: One good short duration workout method is to perform one weight training exercise followed by 3 minutes of cardio. Then, back to a weight training movement, then 3 minutes of a new cardio exercise. Keep repeating without rest until you achieve your 20 to 30 minute goal.

Walk briskly at lunchtime 3 days per week for 30 minutes. Don’t get caught up in the fact that it’s not enough. We’re looking for consistency -- which will ultimately help you to lose some fat and get fit.

No time for a 30-minute walk in one session? Split your workout into two separate times during the day. Walk in the morning for 15 minutes before work and then again at lunch or right after work. Studies show that it’s just as effective one 30-minute session.


Motivational Note - The First Step to Finally Changing Your Life

Excerpt from - by J. M. Gracia,

If you knew how to get and stay motivated to change your life and achieve your goals, nothing could stop you from what you wanted. You would learn what you didn't know, overcome all that stood in your way, and do whatever it took to succeed. As simple as that sounds, it really is the key to success in all its forms. When people improve their health, it is because they were motivated to act on their health goals, just as those who find the jobs they love were driven to act on their career goals. The same is true for goals of personal improvement, goals to improve your finances or education, and goals to find and develop your relationships. There are no secrets, no complex formulas to success. It's simply a matter of getting and staying motivated to do what it takes to succeed.

What Do You Think About This?

Consider the issue for yourself. If you could tap into an overpowering drive to take action, could you find a way to create the life you've always wanted to live? If you knew how to trigger the motivation to take massive action each and every day, could you find a way to come closer and closer to the things you wanted most? If you were entirely free of fear, ready and willing to stop wishing and instead do something about what you wanted, could you find a way to achieve your dreams? We both know the answer: Of course you could. With a drive like that pushing you forward, nothing could stop you. But this fact doesn't help to answer the most important question of all: How do you trigger that kind of motivation in the first place?

The Motivation Myth

To begin answering this question, we first need to clear up a common myth about motivation. While most see it as a mysterious feeling, coming and going without notice or reason, the motivation to act is actually a sensation that can be personally turned on and off at will. When you know how to do it, you can actually trigger the drive to take action with a simple snap of the fingers. In just seconds, you can be overcome with the need to act on what you want. So how exactly is it done? At this point you might be thinking that motivation may be critical to your success, but what if you don't have the confidence to move forward with your goals? If this is an issue you've battled with over the years, you may want to take a few moments to learn about our featured guide to motivation. The entire process of gaining an unstoppable confidence is covered in detail.