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


Updated:  October 19, 2006

The brisk air of fall is upon us and you can almost smell the winter in the air.  This is one of my favourite times of year.   

I'm starting a new section this week that I hope you like - it's called
Just My Opinion.  It's just a few words on something that struck me in the previous week.  So often, with the combination of different news and my experiences in the industry, some kind of opinion begins to form.  So, have a read and let me know if you like it.  After all, it's just my opinion.  This week's note was inspired by attending Wicked last week - check out my review as well as a special opportunity for vocalists!




Monica’s ‘The Makings of Me’

Source:  Sony/BMG

Monica returns with “The Makings of Me,” a cutting edge, career defining album showcasing her growth while taking an intimate look into her personal life.  With production from Jermaine Dupri, Missy Elliot, Damon and Harvey and Sean Garret, “The Makings of Me” is the album her fan base has been waiting for! 

Monica’s new CD features the single, “Everytime Tha Beat Drops” featuring Dem Franchize Boyz & the new single “Dozen Roses” which is produced by & features Missy Elliott. “Dozen Roses” features samples of the
Curtis Mayfield classic “The Makings of You.”

Monica’s career defining CD, “The Makings of Me” is in stores October 10th!


Rethinking Theatre

There is something to be said about good music and music that moves the soul.  I just want all those music lovers out there to remember that there are also excellent voices and performers in theatre.  For instance, do you breeze right by the
THEATRE NEWS section or ignore anything that contains the word 'production' or 'theatre'? 

It's a gruelling lifestyle and I think that theatre performers are quite underestimated and underrated.  Case in point -
Usher.  Usher, the hardcore concert performer that  gives it his all in each concert,  has been performing on Broadway in the production 'Chicago'.  Now he is off indefinitely because of severe strep throat - a sign of his body's inability to handle the gruelling schedule.  It's not a criticism as I'm sure he gave his regular 100% but there's this skill that theatre performers have that only comes with years of training. 

So, next time you're tempted to sidestep the THEATRE NEWS section, you may just be missing something special.  Just my opinion.  Check out my recap of the theatre production
Wicked under RECAPS.  


Wicked Turns the Other Cheek

You MUST check out the play
Wicked, showing at The Canon Theatre on Yonge Street.  I was invited to see this magnificent piece of glittering theatre and I can say that it was an incredible show.  There is the astounding vocal performance of Shoshana Bean as the green-skinned Elphaba (girl definitely has some soul in her!)  who becomes, of course, the Wicked Witch of the West.  And then there's the comedic performance of Megan Hilty, the ambitious blond Glinda whose character was once a confessed friend of Elphaba. Wicked speaks on how being “different” need not be a lifetime encumbrance.  The twists and turns of this theatre production entices all age groups - which is evident by it's sold out performances across North America. 

Many say that this cast is one of the best put together, which certainly seemed evident to me.  Many people have returned to see more than just one performance.  And that says alot! 

PremiseLong before Dorothy dropped in, two girls met in the Land of Oz. One born with emerald green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two unlikely friends end up as the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North makes for the most spellbinding musical in years.

CLICK HERE to get your tickets online for this magnificent, uplifting and poignant "Wicked" theatre production.  Bring your kids, your spouse, your friends.  You will NOT be sorry!  Wicked has been extended to December 31st.

WICKED is recommended for children 8 and up.
Children under the age of 4 will not be admitted to the theatre.

A Wicked Day For A Singing Contest - Toronto’s First “Be Wicked” Singing Contest And “Wicked Day” On Sunday, October 29, 2006
Toronto Eaton Centre

Source:  Mirvish Productions

Toronto – To celebrate its return to Toronto, WICKED shines the spotlight on local talent. Be part of Toronto’s first ever “Be WICKED” Singing Contest and “WICKED Day” on Sunday, October 29, 2006 at the Toronto Eaton Centre – Trinity Way at 220 Yonge Street. Unknown stars will have the opportunity to showcase their talent while singing their favourite WICKED tunes and, of course, win some unbelievably WICKED prizes. For complete information, please visit Preliminary rounds for the “Be WICKED” Singing Contest will be held at the Toronto Eaton Centre on Saturday, October 21 and at Hillcrest Mall at 9350 Yonge Street on Monday, October 23. Finalists will be chosen at each event and will then participate at the finals on “WICKED Day” on Sunday, October 29. The finals will be judged by special guests including a WICKED tour cast member and celebrity talent agent John Robert Powers. The Grand Prize will be: “The Ultimate WICKED Package” in which the winner plus five friends will attend a performance of WICKED, 10 weeks of professional training and auditions through Toronto talent agency John Robert Powers, a personalized WICKED platinum record plaque, $250 gift certificates from Sears, Hillcrest Mall and Toronto Eaton Centre, as well as a selection of WICKED merchandise.

The “WICKED Day” festivities begin at 12:00 p.m. in Trinity Way at the Toronto Eaton Centre in front of Sears. This blowout bash will offer face painting for kids courtesy of Sears, WICKED merchandise giveaways, and feature the finals of the “Be WICKED” Singing Contest. For a complete list of events, please see the calendar at the end of this release or visit Based on the 1995 best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire about the untold story of the witches of Oz, WICKED has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Academy Award winner for Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt) and book by Winnie Holzman (“My So Called Life,” “Once And Again” and “thirtysomething”). The musical is directed by 2003 and 2004 Tony Award-winner Joe Mantello (Take Me Out, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Glengarry Glen Ross) and features musical staging by Tony Award-winner Wayne Cilento (Aida, The Who’s Tommy, How To Succeed…). WICKED is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Pictures, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone. The touring cast features Shoshana Bean as Elphaba (the Wicked Witch), Megan Hilty as Glinda (the Good Witch), Alma Cuervo (from Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast, Cabaret and the original Titanic) as Madame Morrible and P.J. Benjamin (six years as “Mr. Cellophane” on Broadway in Chicago) as The Wizard.


Saturday, October 21 (11:00 a.m.)
"Be WICKED" Preliminary Round #1
Toronto Eaton Centre (Trinity Way), 220 Yonge Street
11:00 a.m. - on-site registration, 12:30 p.m. - preliminary round begins.
The first 30 qualified registrants will be chosen to sing.
Entrants must come prepared to sing a song from WICKED.

Accompaniment will be provided.

Monday, October 23 (4:00 p.m.)
"Be WICKED" Preliminary Round #2
Hillcrest Mall, 9350 Yonge Street
4:00 p.m. - on-site registration, 5:30 p.m. - preliminary round begins.
The first 30 qualified registrants will be chosen to sing.
Entrants must come prepared to sing a song from WICKED.
Accompaniment will be provided.

Sunday, October 29 (12:00 p.m.)
"WICKED Day" (12:00 p.m.)
"Be WICKED" Singing Contest Finals (12:00 p.m.)
The Toronto Eaton Centre (Trinity Way), 220 Yonge Street

in Toronto:

Now playing until December 31, 2006
The Canon Theatre – 244 Victoria Street
Performance Schedule:
Tuesday – Saturday 8:00 PM, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2:00 PM
Tickets $26 - $110
Box Office: 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333
Online Sales: <>
Group Orders: 416-593-4142 or 1-800-724-6420

::top stories::

Tamia Celebrates Musical Maturity With Upcoming CD Release

Source: Sheila Eldridge, Miles Ahead Entertainment,

(October 12, 2006) NEW YORK, NY - Four-time Grammy nominee
Tamia is set to release her 4th album, Between Friends, on Tuesday, November 14 through a new venture between her own imprint, Plus 1 Music Group and DVD distribution dynamo Image Entertainment (Nasdaq: DISK).   The soulful chanteuse worked exclusively with two of the industry's most sought-after talents, Grammy-winning producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins and songwriter Shep Crawford, to help demonstrate her musical growth.   "Can't Get Enough," the album's sultry first single, is currently in rotation on urban AC formats across the country and was the #1 added new single to radio stations the week of September 19.   "Image Entertainment is thrilled to be working with Tamia on her first independent project," says George Steele, Vice President of Audio Operations, Image Entertainment.  "Our extensive relationships with retail and digital partners enable us to cross-promote Tamia's new album on an unprecedented number of levels."   In addition to providing unique distribution channels, Image Entertainment will design an innovative digital marketing strategy to further maximize Tamia's visibility as the new spokesperson for Chevrolet Tahoe.   Discovered by music legend Quincy Jones in 1995, Tamia's musical pedigree and widespread appeal are the driving force behind her longevity. In 2004, the singer embarked on her first major national tour, joining top-selling artists Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Missy Elliot for the sold-out "Ladies First" concert series.  But even with four Grammys, combined album sales of 1.1 million and a string of hit collaborations to her credit, including lovers' anthems "So Into You" with rapper Fabolous and "Spend My Life With You" featuring Eric Benet, Tamia felt lost in the major label shuffle.  Slighted by constant industry executive turnover but still eager to continue growing as an artist, the Canadian born and bred beauty was at a crossroads.  After more than a decade in the music industry, Tamia craved ownership and formed Plus 1 Music Group. 

"Having been with major labels my entire career, I was ready to assume more creative control," Tamia explains.  "When I took a step back from the music scene, I realized how disposable the industry had become and decided to go back into the studio in an effort to create songs that are a reflection of where I am in life both personally and professionally - a mother, wife, friend, and now, entrepreneur."  Between Friends is a direct result of Tamia's steadfast goal to give fans an album that captures the essence of the artist they already know and love while offering a more mature perspective on love, relationships and life.  Musician and songwriter Shep Crawford, who contributed to classics such as Tamia's mega-hit "Officially Missing You," Heather Headley's soul-stirring "He Is," and Deborah Cox's chart-topping "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here" and more, spent hours in the studio encouraging Tamia to push the creative envelope.   "Shep is all about what's good in the industry," Tamia exclaims.  "We first went into the studio to just vibe, see what we could come up with…and the more he kept saying 'think outside the box', the more I realized that it actually applied to different aspects of the project."  Upon evaluating various distribution deals, Tamia chose Image Entertainment to facilitate her needs and has since experienced a renewed energy and passion for her new role as 'sole controller' of her musical destiny.   Between Friends hits record stores Tuesday, November 14.  For more information or to request an interview with Tamia, please contact Tracy Anderson or Sheila Eldridge at Miles Ahead Entertainment, 201-722-1500.    For a sneak preview of music from Tamia's album and exclusive photos, please visit

About Image Entertainment

   Image Entertainment, Inc. is a leading independent licensee, producer and distributor of home entertainment programming in North America, with over 3,000 exclusive DVD titles and approximately 200 exclusive CD titles in domestic release and approximately 300 programs internationally via sublicense agreements.  For many of its titles, the Company has exclusive audio and broadcast rights and, through its subsidiary Egami Media, Inc., has digital download rights to more than 1,500 video programs and over 150 audio programs containing more than 2,500 tracks.  The Company is headquartered in Chatsworth, California, and has a domestic distribution facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The Company's subsidiary Image Entertainment (UK) maintains a content acquisition office in London, England.  For more information about Image Entertainment, Inc., please go to

About Chris Smith Management

Chris Smith Management is a Toronto-based, full-service artist management firm with offices in New York, Jamaica and Toronto.  CSM's client roster boasts a number of Grammy-award winning and platinum-selling Rock, Pop, Hip-Hop, R&B, Reggae and Alternative artists, including Nelly Furtado (Dreamworks); Tamia (Plus 1 Music Group/Image Entertainment); The Philosopher Kings (Sony); Prozzak (Sony Music); Fefe Dobson (Island/DefJam) and more.      CSM as a company has garnered a number of prestigious awards and accolades, including 2002 Management Company of the Year (Canadian Music Week), and Artist Management Company of the Year 2001 and 2002 (Urban Music Awards). CSM has been profiled in a variety of international music and lifestyle publications, including Billboard Magazine, Elm Street Magazine and Pollstar, to name a few. For booking info, please visit  or call 416-362-7771, ext 23.

Streisand Steals T.O. Hearts

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Oct. 18, 2006) Hello, gorgeous! 
Barbra Streisand and Toronto met each other last night at the Air Canada Centre and it was love at first sight. The first performance the superstar has ever given in this city proved to be a night that no one will ever forget.  A capacity crowd featuring everyone from Karen Kain to Mel Lastman cheered — no, roared — after virtually every number and interrupted the show with standing ovations on numerous occasions.  As for the lady herself, she was in spectacular voice, launching her final notes like arrows high into the air, arrows that soared to the heavens and never fell to earth.  "I don't know what's gotten into her tonight," a member of her staff said to me at intermission. "She's absolutely blazing!"  I didn't say anything, but I knew. There was an unannounced special guest whose presence could be felt in almost every number although he was only mentioned twice in the evening.  Pierre Elliott Trudeau.  He and Streisand were romantically involved for a brief while in the late 1960s and harboured great mutual respect for each other until his death.  She mentioned him early on in the show, saying how much she had always loved Canada and talking wistfully about their relationship "in my other life, a long time ago." She mentioned an evening they spent together in Ottawa as "one of the most exciting nights in my life" and said she thought of him when she sang "this song."  She then began "The Way We Were," performing it with such exquisite delicacy that she painted a series of "misty water-coloured memories" as we listened. And when she got to the concluding thought that "it's the laughter, the laughter we'll remember," you could see something special shining in her eyes.  In the second act, when Streisand answered questions from the audience, someone asked "What do you remember about Mr. Trudeau?" and she coyly fanned herself with an index card, indicating the memory of many steamy moments.  But when the laughter died down, she quietly concluded that "he was an extraordinary man."

That was all she said and yet, somehow, his presence infused the evening. When Streisand sang the Bernstein-Sondheim anthem from West Side Story, "Somewhere," and soared into the climactic release of the song, imploring us to "hold my hand and we're halfway there," it was the summer of love all over again and everything was possible.  There was something of that born-again spirit about Streisand last night. Answering another question, she referred to this tour as "the last hurrah, when you do all those things you didn't think you could do."  Fearless would be the best way to describe how she threw herself into signature numbers like "My Man" and "People," and when she got to "Don't Rain on My Parade" it had all the energy she possessed 42 years ago on Broadway, but with a new, chilling sense that yes, maybe this would be one of the last times she sang this song.  But this isn't to imply that the evening was heavy or burdensome. Far from it. The audience were in love with this woman and she could sense it. "I waited 20 years to see you," shouted one lady from the crowd. "I hope it was worth it," offered Streisand tentatively and the crowd cheered their agreement.  The much-discussed sketch where George W. Bush imitator Steve Bridges banters with Babs has been cut down considerably and provoked no boos (as in certain U.S. cities), only laughter and cheers.  When "Bush" offered his idea of selling Canada to pay off America's national debt, Streisand asked "But where would people go to buy affordable prescription drugs?" She then booted him offstage and sang "Happy Days are Here Again" on her own, which made everyone happy.  There's also less of Il Divo in the concert now than when I saw it on opening night in Philadelphia and forgive me, Divo fans, but I think that's a good thing.  They're four hunky lads who all have strong voices, but hearing them use their operatic chops to sing things like "My Way" gives you the uneasy sensation of having your radio caught halfway between Classical 96 and 97.3 EZ Rock.  Yet, when all is said and done, what I'll remember best is the way Streisand sat quietly and sang "What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life" with such intoxicating charm that the only possible answer was "sitting here and listening to you forever."  It was a magical evening. I think Mr. Trudeau would have loved it.

Oscar Buzz Grows For Adam Beach

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

(Oct. 14, 2006) BURBANK, CALIF.—Tears well up in
Adam Beach's eyes. He reaches for a tissue as he talks about the tragic downfall of Ira Hayes, the American Indian who was one of the six men who raised the flag on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima.  Hayes, whom Beach portrays in the new Clint Eastwood film Flags Of Our Fathers, opening Friday, was flown back to America and hailed as a hero but, unable to deal with his newfound celebrity, battled alcoholism and depression before his early death.  Yet Beach, who was brought up on the Dog Creek Indian Reserve in Manitoba and is a member of the Salteaux tribe, sees Hayes as an inspirational figure. He feels that portraying him has brought him closer to his personal goal of becoming an influential leader of the Indian nations.  "Ira Hayes is a hero to me," he says, dabbing his eyes. "He is like a lot of other heroes of war who struggled to maintain their dignity through those horrors. The American Indian in him kept him strong."  Dressed in a smart navy blue suit and blue shirt, Adam Beach is talking in a room at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank as publicists and assistants hover nearby. Although he is the star of Flags of Our Fathers, it would be difficult to find anybody further removed from the trappings of Hollywood stardom than 33-year-old Beach, a likeable and deeply thoughtful man with a warm smile and an air of sweet vulnerability.  Yet in a few days, this relatively unknown Ottawa-based actor will be fully thrust into the Hollywood limelight. Already there are murmurs of an Oscar nod; his acting has earned high praise from director Eastwood.  It is clear that while he goes along with the publicity and promotional demands being heaped upon him, his heart is on the reserve and with his people. Recently, he narrowly failed in his bid to be elected chief of Lake Manitoba First Nation but he intends to run again in two years' time, campaigning for improved education and a better economic program for reservations.

"Through this film I found courage, strength and confidence and I also found my responsibility to give a new direction for the Indian nations and to establish a new economic development movement for reservations," he says. "I have to go back home and start from scratch. To be a real influence on the political structure I have to become the leader of my people.  "A lot of people question me because I'm an actor and tell me to stick to making movies but they can't see that the influence I have now can really stimulate the growth of my community. I want to be an example to the nations of North America. I have a new vision and a new direction because of this film."  Beach spurns the politically correct description of him as a Native American and insists: "The word I like is Indian. That's what I've grown to understand in history books and that's how I relate to myself and my fellow Indians."  Although he has an enthusiastic attitude to life, he did not have an easy childhood, losing both his parents in separate accidents when he was 8 years old. His mother was hit by a drunken driver when she was eight months' pregnant; his father drowned. To this day he is unsure of the exact circumstances of his father's death.  He was adopted by his father's brother Chris Beach, whom he calls his stepdad, and his wife. He believes it was due to the elder Beach that he managed to stay out of trouble and make a career for himself.

"He had a messed-up childhood too, but he healed himself and then taught me how to heal my wounds, too," he recalled. "He is a hero to me because without him I wouldn't be here today; I'd be a statistic in Winnipeg, be in a gang and be part of the judicial system. Instead, because of his teachings, I am a new statistic of being a voice of American Indians."  Chris Beach was Adam's guest at the world premiere of Flags of Our Fathers in Los Angeles on Tuesday.  Adam Beach gained an appreciation for acting while taking a drama course at Gordon Bell High School in Winnipeg, and when he was 17 he landed a small role in the television mini-series Lonesome Dove. He worked steadily in small roles until 1998 when he was cast in a leading role in Smoke Signals, the first feature film written, produced, directed by and starring Indian artists.  Then in 2001 he had to learn to speak Navajo for a co-starring role in John Woo's Windtalkers as Ben Yahzee, a Marine Navajo whose native language became the foundation of an unbreakable code that helped win the war against Japan.  When he heard about Flags of Our Fathers, he approached Clint Eastwood about playing the complex and enigmatic Ira Hayes, but Eastwood, who was looking for an actor aged 20 or 21, told him he was too old. Six months later Eastwood contacted him and offered him an audition and then the part.  Beach's emotional response to the role was powerful and immediate. "He is a classic war hero in many respects," he says. "He was in three of the bloodiest battles in the South Pacific and survived them all. All he wants is to be back in the field, with his boys, fighting side-by-side. He can't reconcile being safe while his friends, his brothers, are still fighting the horrors of war. He doesn't know how to deal with that.  "I tried to understand what it would have been like for him to stand in front of thousands of people all cheering for him when just the week before he was watching his closest friends die. How could he do it? It gives me goosebumps to think about the horrors of seeing death all around."  Beach, who has two sons, aged 10 and 8, believes Hayes' story will help him in educating Indian children and giving them a sense of their history and traditions. To that end, he attends powwows, visits classrooms and is lobbying Indian gaming tribes to persuade them to finance educational films.

In particular, he wants the world to know about the horrors of the residential school system, by which children were taken from their reserves by the American and Canadian governments and sent to boarding schools in an attempt to integrate them.  "They wanted to show them the word of Jesus; they cut their hair, they beat them for speaking their languages — the stories about those schools are really horrific and haven't been properly told yet," he says. "If you think the story of Ira Hayes was bad, the stories of these children are 10 times worse."  Like Hayes, Beach has been on the receiving end of racism and ignorance. At home he is still viewed with suspicion by people who don't recognize him, he said.  "If I go into a store or certain situations, people want to follow me in case I take something, or I'll go to a restaurant and people kind of look at me because I don't wear a suit all the time; I like to be casual."  Beach still sometimes finds it difficult to believe that someone from his background on the Dog Creek Indian Reserve has managed to reach the verge of international stardom. He marvels that he has been able to drive down Sunset Boulevard and see his face on a billboard.  "I never thought Indians could achieve that much success," he says. "The biggest expectation I ever had was to do my first movie and just speak on camera. Now here I am and I feel like I'm in a barren land that hasn't been touched, and who do I have to guide me through this? I don't know.  "I never imagined I'd be in this position."

R&B Legend Teena Marie Takes The Island Of Bermuda By Storm

Source: Lynn Allen Jeter & Associates,,

(October 16, 2006) LOS ANGELES, CA  – 
Teena Marie gave another memorable and moving performance at the 11th Annual Bermuda Music Festival hosted by comedian Steve Harvey.  The incomparable vocal powerhouse, Teena Marie, is known for her tireless and universally acclaimed live performances and at the Bermuda Musical Festival this past week, she reminded audiences of all generations, why she is still one of the greatest musical talents of our time.  Teena Marie (the female Prince) performed several of her most popular songs and had the crowd dancing in the aisle with “Square Biz,” which has gone down in history naming Teena Marie as one of the “first female rappers”.   Teena performed almost all her classic hits and also introduced the islands to her new music from the “Sapphire” album, which was released earlier this year on Universal/Cash Money Records.  “Sapphire” is the twelfth album from the effusive vocalist, who is regarded as one of the most influential R &B female singers of all times.  The new album holds a special place in Teena Marie's heart for many reasons, but the most poignant reason for the singer is that many of the tracks were inspired by her friendship with the late Rick James, who is often credited with mentoring the multi-talented musician/vocalist/producer/arranger.   Other artists on her new CD include the legendary Smokey Robinson, Kurupt, George Duke, Gerald Albright, Lady Levi, and her 14-year-old daughter Alia Rose.  Teena Marie has a new single titled “Somebody Just Like You “ coming Winter 2006. Teena’s favourite songs on her new album are: Sapphire (Resilient) for Katrina victims, a duet performance with her daughter, Cruise Control featuring Smokey Robinson, Romantica (written for Rick James), Simmer Down, "Baby Who's Is It" and "Love Is A Gangster." Please visit For additional information on Teena Marie or to schedule interview and/ or appearance, please contact Lynn Allen Jeter & Associates at (323) 933-8007.

Many Shades Of Brown All Delight

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Oct. 17, 2006) The phrase "triple threat" has become so overused in
show-business circles that it's great to encounter someone who truly deserves it.  Jason Robert Brown rocked the walls of the Glenn Gould Studio last night with a performance so filled with energy, guts and emotion that to say the near-capacity audience was blown away would be an understatement.  Brown is the composer-lyricist of such first-rate musicals as The Last Five Years and Parade, but he's also a pianist of rare skill and a vocalist who possesses a uniquely persuasive way with a song. Add stage patter that is free of all tiresome shtick and you have an incredibly winning combination.  Watching Brown at the keyboard is an astonishing experience. He's a tall, lean, angular guy with a saturnine look on his face that manages to convey a wide variety of expressions.  Sometimes, he's Ichabod Crane, all elbows and wrists as he flails away passionately at the keyboard. Or he's the Big Bad Wolf, grinning sardonically at his romantic prey. But most often, he has a haunted Russian look about him, letting a Chekhovian melancholy play about his features as he sings of loves gone wrong and lives that can't be mended.  But he can also score points with his incisive wit, as when one lover mocks him: "You said I didn't have to be/ The king of idiosyncrasy." Or listen to his description of courtship in Las Vegas: "Dress her up to her molars/Show her you roll with the highest rollers."  He can toss off a phrase that contains a lifetime of regret ("A summer you can't repeat") or sum up two opposing outlooks in a single line ("Some people freeze out of fear that they'll fail, but I keep rolling on.").

In short, the man is a brilliant songwriter, and the rhythmic invention and non-stop intensity he brings to his piano accompaniment makes his material sound even richer.  Brown alone could carry an evening, but he's smart enough not to try. First off, he brought along two killer sidemen in "The Caucasian Rhythm Kings": Randy Landau (bass) and Gary Sieger (guitar). And then he had two of our best musical theatre talents, Adam Brazier and Julie Martell, drop in to sing a few numbers.  Brazier's full-throated rendition of "The Old Red Hills of Home" produced goose bumps and was the evening's vocal highlight. And Martell's moving duet with Brown on "I'd Give it All For You" had a delicacy that was breathtaking.  Brown ended the evening with a superb trio of songs. "I'm in Bizness" allowed him, Ladau and Sieger to shine as musicians, "Moving too Fast" gave him a virtuoso finale and "Someone to Fall Back On" was the gentlest of encores.  Producers Michael Rubinoff and Mark Selby are to be commended for bringing Brown to Toronto. Let's hope it's just the first of many such concerts involving the best of the musical theatre world.


African Gospel Gets Electric

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Tony Montague

(Oct. 13, 2006) It was tough leaving friends and family behind in Chad, but the members of
H'Sao harbour no regrets about moving to Canada and settling in Montreal. In the past five years, with their innovative blend of African rhythms and Western influences from jazz to hip hop, they have forged international careers on the world-music circuit. Such success, and the social acceptance it implies, would be unthinkable in their troubled sub-Saharan homeland. "People in Chad don't hold musicians in high regard, and there are very few opportunities to play professionally," says Charles Ledjebgue, drummer and songwriter with H'Sao, speaking in French. "It's not like in Mali or Senegal. Chad is a very poor country, beset with problems of war, drought and corruption. It's a democratic state in name only; the reality is very different. Free artistic _expression can be dangerous, and those who speak out run into serious problems. We didn't want any limitations in writing about the things that concern us -- whether the plight of our country or our own Christian beliefs." Spirituality pervades several songs on H'Sao's self-titled debut disc, including Baba, a beautiful a cappella composition by Ledjebgue that's an appeal for divine love. The influence of African and American gospel is evident in the impassioned vocals and rich harmonies that are the band's hallmark. "Caleb, Mossbass, Taroum and Isra-l [the other members of H'Sao] are siblings, and sang together from a young age in the Pentecostal church where their father was the pastor," Ledjebgue says. "He called the little band they formed Les Hirondelles [the Swallows] because in the Bible the swallow is a messenger, a small bird that wants to reach the greatest heights -- just as we did.

"Later, when I joined their group and we started playing more secular and contemporary music together, the name changed. We kept the H for hirondelles and added the word Sao -- for the ancestral people of Chad -- because wherever our music takes us, we always want to keep strong roots in our culture. But to make a living as artists, we realized we had to find a way of getting to the West." The chance came in 2001, when H'Sao was selected as one of the African bands to perform at Jeux de la Francophonie in Ottawa. After winning a bronze medal, Ledjebgue and his colleagues didn't go home -- their claims for refugee status were successful. "We've been very lucky. Playing at the Games gave us a lot of contacts and we managed to find gigs quite quickly. In the past couple of years, we've been able to travel overseas -- to Haiti, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and we've toured in Europe several times. Audiences respond really well to the energy we bring to our shows, and to the mix of acoustic and electric sounds." H'Sao wants its music to appeal to as many people as possible, but the eclectic approach also reflects the musicians' wide-ranging tastes. "At home, we're just as likely to be listening to Chinese music as to Marilyn Manson and we're completely open to new projects. Early next year, for instance, we're performing with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. It's all very new and exciting for us."

H'Sao performs tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the Centennial Theatre, 2300 Lonsdale Ave., North Vancouver. Tickets are $16; call 604-984-4484 or visit

Home A No-Sing Zone For McLachlan

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Cassandra Szklarski, Canadian Press

(Oct. 17, 2006) The lilting vocals of
Sarah McLachlan are a staple at graduation ceremonies, weddings and funerals — but in her own home, they've been blacklisted.  The celebrated singer-songwriter of such anthems to love and loss as "I Will Remember You" and "Angel" says her 4 1/2-year-old daughter, India, won't stand for her serenades or lullabies.  "She doesn't want me to sing, she doesn't like when I sing," McLachlan said from Vancouver just before heading to New York to perform last night with Ladysmith Black Mambazo at Carnegie Hall.  "I think because it doesn't include her. I think that she knows that that's my job and it's kind of like, `No, no. When you're around me, you don't do that.'"  McLachlan says her tot has just started to realize that mom is also a performer and sometimes may not be home.  That painful realization has been hard on both mother and child, McLachlan, 38, says as she returns to the spotlight with her new album, Wintersong, set for release today.  "It is a life of extremes and it's hard on me and it's even harder on my daughter in particular," says McLachlan, who married her long-time drummer Ashwin Sood in 1997.  The singer says she retired from the spotlight two summers ago to focus on family life on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The Halifax-born singer stole time in her home studio to put together Wintersong, a collection of Christmas classics, her first album since the 2003 release of Afterglow.  The holiday outing includes the melancholy title track, which McLachlan penned for the album in tribute to her late mother and 11 covers of modern and old standards, including Joni Mitchell's "River" and John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)."  "I lost my mom a week before Christmas four years ago to cancer and so, you know, Christmas is a little more bittersweet because of it, but also, I have a daughter, who is like this ray of light and who brings out the joy of Christmas," she says.  "The concept of that song is: Yes, you've lost somebody, but you can sit and feel really sorry for yourself and feel bad about the situation, or you can remember them in their happiest moment. And that somehow brings levity to it and makes you feel a little lighter."

Beck Engages Sparse Crowd

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

(Oct. 17, 2006) To be perfectly honest, I'd sorta given up on
Beck.  There was a fleeting stir of renewed interest when he stole the title of his latest album, The Information, from novelist Martin Amis. Not enough, though, that I'd felt compelled to give the thing a spin until he arrived in town yesterday for a show at the Ricoh Coliseum, despite the fact that the album has been sitting in my "incoming" pile for weeks and earning all sorts of "comeback" notices in the music press.  When 2 1/2 combined hours of frantic searching before and after the gig failed to turn up any evidence of the damn thing, which is weird for more than the "someone must have torn a hole in the fabric of the space/time continuum" reasons that I'm forced to blame for the disc's disappearance from my living room.  It's extra weird because — even after multiple moves, a total lack of proper shelving, an increasing unwillingness to be bothered to "file" my CDs and records coherently and the 12 years' worth of shifting tastes that have come and gone since "Loser" first struck — Mellow Gold and One Foot in the Grave are still never far from the changer, while Odelay and Mutations merit frequent enough dabbles that I know exactly where they are at this moment.  Beck's wobbly 1999 funk prank Midnite Vultures might have torn into his critical and popular appeal like a prolonged baseball strike, but adventurous artists such as Mr. Hansen can be forgiven a misstep or two.

It's just that the much-ballyhooed "two sides of Beck" — the space-folkie from Sea Change and the Odelay-era hip-hopster who last made a "comeback" with 2005's dodgy Guero — have come to feel, to this admirer, stuck in a pattern of static eclecticism. Thus, a record that purports to bring those two Becks together like The Information didn't seem that tantalizing. Nor was it enough to fill much more than the floor and a few stands in the immediate vicinity of the yawning Ricoh Coliseum last night.  After last night's Information-loaded show, I'm willing to try again. "Nausea" and "Think I'm in Love" (hey, I can still find the Internet in a pinch for deadline), like Guero's "Black Tambourine" or Sea Change's "Lost Cause" and "Golden Age," proved Beck has never lost the ability to knock you flat with a wicked tune, and the jolt of Jesus and Mary Chain-esque noise coursing through numerous new songs and old standards like "Devil's Haircut" suggested there's something exciting going on these days.  The man, too, remains an engagingly cryptic entertainer, one willing to let himself and his compatibly low-key band be continually upstaged last night by a gang of marionette doppelgangers. He finally got the place roaring by inviting the band to dine at a table next to him during an acoustic interlude towards the encore (as did his marionette likeness) that exploded into a syncopated, percussive cacophony of rattling cutlery, crockery and glassware. But it's still weird that some of the biggest cheers of the night — besides the ones for "Loser" and "Where It's At," that is — during a Beck show should come from a mock Toronto Maple Leafs game conducted by puppets, and for a cover of the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize?"

Step Up (Nervously) To The Mike

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Andrew Chung

(Oct. 15, 2006) In a deep corner of a Scarborough café, tan army cap over black do-rag over tight, twisty cornrows,
Kurleigh Gibson fidgets nervously, gazing at the floor. His turn at the microphone is next.  He may look like a rapper, but really he's a soft-spoken young man who rarely swears, directs his church youth choir, sings gospel solo, and attends the University of Toronto part-time in science, with an eye to becoming a paramedic.  And he has never rapped for anyone other than his friends, except for this night, at the weekly Wednesday "Night of the Groove" urban music open-mike event at Café Mirage in the Kennedy Commons. His name is called, and he moves with wooden steps to the mike. As the music starts, he starts, then he stops and asks the DJ, sheepishly, to begin again.  "Man, I'm so scared, you guys," he admits to the crowd. "I'm so scared."  The audience encourages him warmly. And as the 23-year-old gets into it, spouting his own lyrics about experiences he's had with women, set to Pharrell and Jay-Z's "Excuse Me Miss," the crowd goes crazy.  Gibson's moves may not be slick, but midway through he gives a booty-shake, and people nearly fall off their chairs. His lyrics are smooth, precise to the beat, and his voice is mesmerizing. He gets a standing ovation.  "I think this guy may be the hidden gem," whispers the night's organizer, Collin Cortez.  All over the city, untried talent like Gibson's is being showcased in a handful of small bars, clubs and cafés with late-night open-mike events. They're performing, for free, sans entourage, to small crowds just to get their names out there and maybe to just that right person.

While some old-school musicians decry the lack of venues nowadays that help to expose new talent to the world, up and comers are making do, their hopes still pinned to their voice boxes and the chance at discovery that an open mike provides.  Sure, there are those who go to open-mike nights just to get on stage. But there's also a lot of unsung musical greatness in the city. So forget Canadian Idol. You might find a star in your own neighbourhood.  Who knew, for instance, that tucked behind the Future Bakery on Bloor St. W. in the tiny Labyrinth Lounge, past 11:30 on a Sunday night, you could regularly find a singer who's been known to elicit tears with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" — recalling Jeff Buckley and embodying the kind of young male angst that's perfect for MTV?  A singer who tackles every song like his life depended on it, eyes squeezed shut, his chin pointed to the dim lights, and that right now, he's treating "The Best Thing You Never Had" by pop hit-maker Butch Walker (Pink, Avril Lavigne) as if the words were precious gems and hitting the high notes with basically no sweat?  He's Chris Ioannou, and even though the crowd at the Labyrinth's open mike — which tends to attract a lot of alternative and rock newbies — is sparse, he's not deterred. "I come because it's a great way to test out material, to see if it doesn't come out right," he says.  "And you learn how to deal with a crowd you don't know."  It's a young crowd in the Annex, and they can be pretty judgmental, Ioannou says. "You lose your fear of being rejected by a bunch of people."  Even more important, it's one of the few ways, however inefficient, of getting your name out there. "There's no other outlet unless you have an `in' somewhere," Ioannou says. "You've got to start somewhere."

Getting noticed, Ioannou concedes, takes awhile. He says it's a combination of hope, and hard work. He's trying to network as much as possible; even had a meeting with tattooed St. Catharines rocker Dallas Green's manager. "But it's still tough to know if you're getting it to the right people," Ioannou says.  Should he never get noticed, Ioannou, an art and architectural history student at the University of Toronto, has a back-up plan. He'll study architecture.  But his first love is music. He writes songs. Like when he was a teenager, he still writes about relationships, love and breakups. "Any guy who tells you they didn't buy a guitar to get a girl is full of shit," he grins. His career highlight so far has been with a teenage band he played in after his family moved to a small, whitewashed Boston suburb. They opened for the popular New England group Dispatch at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. As Ioannou eloquently puts it, "I was defecating in my pants." Later, the band members dispersed, and he arrived at U of T.  Admittedly, his studies have pushed music to the back seat the last few years. So, once he graduates in December, music is going to be his life, he says, "to see if anything starts to happen."  Open mikes have, for decades, allowed musicians to perform in front of an audience without actually booking a gig. It's been a huge boon for those just starting out in the business.  In Toronto, open-mike nights once served such a purpose. "It was low-rent Canadian Idol," says James Taylor, 45, a guitarist in the band Midlife Chrysler, which leads an open jam each Wednesday night at the Vox downtown.

Open mikes allowed musicians to connect with others, and to build confidence on stage. "It's where you learn your `stage eyes,'" Taylor says, referring to the instinctive cues between musicians that tell each other when there's a change in riff, for instance. "You don't learn that from watching other bands."  But while open mikes were all the rage in the '80s and early '90s — Taylor and his bandmates remember legendary evenings filling smoky caverns like Lee's Palace, the Cabana Room in the old Spadina Hotel, the Rex, the Beverley, and the Erin Station Restaurant in Mississauga — today they're more rare, to the detriment of new talent.  "You used to be able to go from place to place to place. There's not that much out there anymore," Taylor says. Dez Leahy, also 45, concurs: "Karaoke killed it. They didn't need bands anymore."  At the same time, Leahy observes, youngsters make music at home on their computers, neglecting the need to get on stage.  "It's sad," keyboardist Rob Cooper, 38, says. "There are tonnes of great musicians waiting to be discovered. But the current generation of musicians don't even know these things exist. I hate to sound old, but this is where we pass on what we know: the skills to play on stage."  Musicians who do know about Toronto's open mikes believe they're not wasting their time. Some people, as they watch Lisa Smith rock out on Tuesday nights at the Chick'n'deli on Mount Pleasant Rd., stare as if they're watching Alice Cooper, or David Coverdale, and maybe that's because she's singing Whitesnake's "Still of the Night." But no, it's Smith, a 35-year-old whose big, crimped dirty-blond hair, smouldering eyes, and dragon tank top match her raw, hardcore voice.

"In the heat of the day
"I hang my head down low
"And hide my face from the sun ... I'm waiting for the night to come"

Listening to her, you might also think Janis Joplin. But Smith's first live concert was seeing Pat Benatar. "And I said, I want to do that."  Smith, from Saint John, N.B, has had formal voice training, including in opera and classical. But her first love was always rock, especially since maturity has now deepened her voice. "I have more raunch, and I like that," she says. "It's great for rock."  Eight years ago, she turned away from music in disgust after what she considered a betrayal by a former bandmate. She became an account manager for what was then Sprint Canada. But a year ago, doctors suspected she had sarcoidosis, a potentially fatal disease that causes lumps to form on the body's organs. It made her realize that if she had limited time on Earth, she should do what she loves.  Smith was given a clean bill of health last July. "But," she says, "it was as if fate was booting me in the butt to get me back to what I was doing."  So she returned to the open-mike scene, and is putting together a show with some musician friends. Last year, she won radio station Q107's Ultimate Jam contest, after being noticed by the front man for a Led Zeppelin tribute band.  Then there are the people who have talent, but have no designs on greatness. Such is proto-rapper Kurleigh Gibson. After he finishes his song, and sees the crowd's exuberant reaction, he's happy. "They're so supportive in there," he says outside the café.

Though he came to check the open mike out and test whether his friends were "just being nice to him" in complimenting his work, he has no desire to break into the hip-hop industry.  "I get the criticism of the industry," he says. "I'm not about to talk about what I have, because I don't have much."  Plus, flashy isn't his thing. He's a very shy person by nature. He writes lyrics only when he's feeling particularly emotional, or sad. (As he warned the crowd before he began, "You're gonna see my soft side.") He doesn't want to have to write music just to fill up a CD. "I'd probably be just a one-hit wonder."  With no dreams of stardom, does that mean he can't be a star? Cortez, the Café Mirage event's organizer says Gibson's his integrity would take him far. "If he said all that stuff to the crowd, we'd have told him that he's exactly the kind of person who should be up there in front of the mike."  A few days later, Gibson is still encouraged. He's going to write another song. And face the open mike again.

Composing's Youth Movement

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Terauds

(Oct. 15, 2006) Mozart's compositions get played over and over again. But not those of
Clermont Pépin.  Clermont who?  Don't feel bad if you've never heard of the late Quebec composer. Most new classical compositions get one airing and are then left to gather dust on a shelf.  There's money available from federal and provincial arts councils for workshops and a first performance, but then cash-strapped orchestras and ensembles move on to the next revenue-generating project. And even those who do enjoy new compositions don't necessarily want to hear last year's creations.  Quebec conductor Véronique Lacroix and her Ensemble contemporain de Montréal want to change this sad state of affairs, thanks to Pépin's inspiration. Lacroix formed the ensemble 20 years ago at the suggestion of the composer, then her teacher.  Thus, every two years, the 43-year-old conductor chooses a number of new pieces from young composers, fine-tunes them and workshops them with the 10-member instrumental ensemble.  We can hear the latest results of this biennial enterprise tonight at the Music Gallery, the first event in New Music Concerts' season.  The five composers on the program are younger than 35, yet most have already earned accolades. Four pieces are fresh, having gone through Lacroix's year-long gestation: Charles-Antoine Fréchette's Fugue, Aaron Gervais' Culture No. 3, David Litke's Alloy and Maxine McKinley's Guitar Concerto.  Lacroix also included a piece by Nova Scotia composer Emily Doolittle, Four Pieces About Water, which came out of her workshops in the year 2000.

Ironically, Pépin died just as Lacroix was assembling this new season. "I was asked to help prepare music for the funeral," she says, "and I discovered how beautiful so much of his compositions are. It's a shame we can't get to hear them more often."  She hopes the output of this younger generation won't meet the same fate. Lacroix is energized in working with young talents, "because it's fresh." She loves the "ideals and illusions" of young minds, and how they challenge her own abilities.  Lacroix mentions the work of Fréchette, a Montreal composer for chamber, choral and piano who's a mere 25 years old. "His imagination brings us into an extreme universe. I head to learn much from his score."  Not only does Fréchette indicate the notes the violinists are to play, for example, he has a separate series of indications "on which part of the bow to play on and how close to play to the bridge," says Lacroix.  Fréchette's work, like others the ensemble has tackled in recent years, has an electronic component, something Lacroix handles by hiring a technician or sound engineer to help. "This is the tough part for me," she admits. "This is something that I don't know too much about."  But it's not just the teacher who is learning. "The composers are learning the (digital) process, and many of them are not as at ease as when writing a score," she says.  "But sometimes the results are amazing."  It's an amazement that Lacroix is eager to share.

Lady Ann Interview

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(October 12, 2006)
Lady Ann looking to conquer familiar territory with new music…veteran dancehall star’s Informer remains her biggest hit.  *In the summer of 1983, a tune called Informer shot to the top of the local charts.  The female deejay who rode the track, Lady Ann became an overnight sensation in the dancehall. But after Informer and a handful of minor hits, Lady Ann faded out of sight. Just what has she been up to these days? We caught up with her in New York recently and she updated us on her life after Informer.

Kevin Jackson: How did you get your start in the business?

Lady Ann: I was always interested in the music from I was a child. My initial introduction was when General Echo gave me a mic to perform on Sterephonic sound system around 1978. Actually I didn’t not deejay. I sang. Back then I used to sing in the church.
KJ: What was the very first song that you recorded and for which producer?

LA:  The first song I recorded was a combination with Toyan on a track called Plan Your Family for producer Don Maze on the Roots Tradition label.

KJ: Where in Jamaica are you originally from?

LA: I am originally from the Kingston 13 area. Brotherthan Avenue. 

KJ: How old were you when Informer became a hit?

LA: I was 20 years old at the time. 
KJ: What do you think contributed to the song's success at the time, seeing that even in today's dancehall, the deejays are still talking about Informers?

LA: Because too many informers were out there even from those days, just a chat and a chat people business. And from I did that song Informer, it just help to big up that word and who the informer is. That song gave an informer a Jamaican meaning.

KJ: When the song took off, did it change anything for you?

LA: It hype me up and gave me fame along with a name. I did not earn a penny from record sales or licensing from that song even up to this day. I only made a little money from doing dub plate version of Informer.

KJ:  Did you have any other hits after Informer?

LA: Of course. There was Tek yuh Mouth for Sly and Robbie on the Taxi label, Satan for Leon’s Thrill Seeker label, and Husband and Wife for the Mr. Tipsy label.
KJ: When did you leave Jamaica to live in the US, and why?

LA: I left Jamaica in 1983. I was pregnant with my second child and my baby father wanted me to have the child in the states.

KJ: Do you think that you can recapture a fan base today?

LA:  Why not? I still have the vibes in me and I am still doing well on stage shows here in the states.
KJ: What new are you working on?

LA: I currently have about 40 tracks that were produced by Hyman Wright of Jah Life Records. One of the tracks Mama Queng Queng was released on the internet on my myspace page which is

KJ: Do you have any children and where in the US are you living now?

LA: I have five children. My first son Jahlil is the son of General Smiley. I live in Brooklyn, New York. 

KJ: After things slowed down for you in the music, what did you do?

LA: I was just being a full time mother to my children. 

KJ: What is your real name and where did you go to school in Jamaica?

LA: My real name is Barbara Smith and I went to St. Peter Claver Primary and then Tarrant Secondary.

KJ:  Is there anything that you would have done differently careerwise?

LA: I would have liked to change the business back the way it was. Female artistes should get a lot more attention

KJ:  Do you listen to any of the female dancehall artistes today? Do any of them stir your interest?

LA: I listen to Macka Diamond, Tanya Stephens, Lady Saw, Spice and Cecile. And I can’t leave out Sister Charmaine because she is still doing her thing. 

Hip's Work With New Producer Like Hockey To A Calypso Beat

Source: Canadian Press

(Oct. 15, 2006) TORONTO — An odd thing happens when you pair Canadian rock icons the
Tragically Hip with legendary Canadian record producer Bob Rock. The result: hockey to a calypso beat. Hip front man Gord Downie says the band's collaboration with the man behind such huge '80s rock albums as Motley Crue's “Dr. Feelgood” and Bon Jovi's “Slippery When Wet” drew out some unexpected experiments when all gathered in the studio to record the new album “World Container.” “Any conversation about how the record was made has to start with Bob and probably end with Bob,” Downie says by phone during a recent stop in Winnipeg to promote the album, due out Tuesday. “He suggests anywhere from 100 to 300 to 500 (takes), I don't know, it just seemed endless, and everything was prefaced with, ‘This might sound crazy' or ‘Call me insane, but ...' and he would want to hear something, he would want to hear it go in this direction.” Directions such as calypso-tinged guitar upstrokes for the hockey song “The Lonely End of the Rink.” The standout second track evokes snow-covered roads and frozen lakes with a chugging, island-inspired guitar rhythm, and it works.

But acknowledging that those musical inclinations were a part of the five-man rock band — including guitarists Paul Langlois and Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay — was a new thing. Downie says their tendency has always been to focus on honing their instantly identifiable sound — a full, guitar-driven wall of rock behind such northern anthems as “At the Hundredth Meridian” and “Bobcaygeon.” “We were big Clash fans, you know, big Who fans and I think we would listen to this music and talk about music and do nothing but music night and day, and when it came time to actually making our own music, you feel compelled to sort of tuck all those influences away, not show them,” he says. “I think (for the new album) we willingly surrendered to that idea of fun in the studio and having fun and not being afraid to show your influences ... as opposed to that dogged pursuit of your own sound.” For his part, Rock has called the collaboration an opportunity to make “the Great Canadian Record,” praising the Hip for acknowledging their influences without impersonating anyone, and Downie for his consistently solid performances. Downie says such daunting titles as “Great Canadian Record” are not so easily bestowed, but he does concede to being a part of “the Great Canadian Movie” — starring unconventional heroes the Trailer Park Boys. Downie makes a cameo in the big-screen smash, written and directed by friend Mike Clattenburg — “Canada's Chekhov, or something like that,” Downie calls him. Clattenburg cast Downie and Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson as a couple of cops. “Acting is like lifting a 400-pound feather,” Downie says of his time in front of the camera. “It's a feather, how hard could it be? And yet, you go to lift it and it's heavy. For that reason, I love it, because it's very hard and difficult and challenging and obviously I want to learn more.” The Hip treat fans to rare, multiple-night club shows this month and next in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal.

Ukula links T.O., Montreal, London and New York

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Shauna Rempel, Toronto Star

(Oct. 14, 2006)
Ukula includes but is not limited to: a lifestyle concept; a website community; a free magazine; a dj night; a party spot featuring emerging Toronto bands such as Born Ruffians; and a store that sells one-off handbags. This four-city, two-continent, interconnected project was dreamed up in 2002 by two enterprising lads from Edinburgh.  Graeme Maclean and Kevin Renton built this online/real-life community to link the music, fashion and literature scenes in Toronto, Montreal, New York and London. The goal is to provide "an independent global network for communication and exposure like no other," according to  And the network is expanding, with last month's opening of the Ukula store on College St.  "We're really chuffed by it," Renton, 31, says of the customer response to the store, which carries local as well as international labels for men and women, including one-of-a-kind MilkBerlin bags from Germany. It's also a coffee shop and hang-out spot for whoever happens to drop by.  "It's not just about the clothes," says 30-year-old Maclean. ``It's a café, it's a music lounge, a place to meet people. Our music editor's very happy because now he's got a place to meet bands and he's here every night— we've got to kick them out."  For the guys, the store (plus the continued success of the dj night they host once a month across the street at Andy Poolhall), the magazine (now gearing up for its next quarterly issue) and the website are the culmination of a "four-year plan" for Ukula (pronounced YOU-cool-a) that they deemed almost too crazy even to talk about at the time.  "We kinda had this idea then that's now taking shape," says Renton. "But I think we didn't tell a lot of people because I think people would have thought we were mad."

Capitalizing on Canada's love of all things British, the pair, along with a third business partner, Steven Flockhart, moved from the UK and started hosting Britpop-themed events in Toronto and then Montreal.  Flockhart has moved back across the pond, but the monthly Ukula nights at Andy Poolhall have endured, usually attracting a capacity crowd of hipsters. Two Fridays ago a modish, artsy crowd partied to Kasabian's latest album Empire and Britpop classics while co-existing peacefully with regulars who had obviously come to play pool.  Two years ago Ukula added the magazine. It was initially a very DIY project. "The first issue, Graeme and I wrote half of it ourselves," says Renton.  "He means 50 per cent each," adds Maclean.  Now they have writers in four cities along with a gifted designer who helps give the paperback-sized magazine, which has a print run of 10,000, the artistic, collector's item feel they strive for. After all, the guys want to keep their indie cred.  "We're actually at a time where we're expanding and there are always growing pains," says Renton. "We're a small company, a small project, trying to get bigger."  Ukula is essentially following in the footsteps of multi-platform alternative media empire Vice, which was started in 1994 by three Montrealers and has grown from a free lewd and crude lifestyle magazine to include equally lewd and crude city guides for Toronto and other cities, a pub in East London and a recording label partnership with Warner Music Group.

Unsurprisingly, there has also been a foray into marketing and a new full-service advertising-type agency called Virtue. It has just released the first of its planned DVD series, The Vice Guide to Travel, and in January the counterculture icon is set to launch an online TV network with Viacom that will be "sort of an incubator for MTV," according to Vice's Shawn Phelan.  But Vice may serve as a cautionary tale about overextending a brand. The Queen St. W. Vice fashion store closed about a year and a half ago along with the rest of the retail clothing division, and Seize Sur Vice brand suits are now collector's items. "Vice is out of fashion," declares Phelan. "We're a media company; whenever we do something well, it's media." The clothing was taking up 50 per cent of the company's energy for just 5 per cent of the profit, he says. "We're better at developing content than selling pants."  Ukula plans to ride the expansion wave, using the store as home base and the magazine as its promotions voice. Articles include features on businesses such as Toronto's Paper Bag Records, which has its catalogue of independent artists for sale at the Ukula store, and on upcoming events and bands that they've taken a shine to.  They interviewed Montreal's Arcade Fire in the early days and Kasabian before the group's first North American tour. "We're quite happy in the way we can push an artist," says Renton. "Because we've been doing it now for four years, we've seen bands go from nothing to big" — "and in reverse," interjects Maclean — "we can recognize now the signs in the bands and say `wow, they will probably become big.'"  Future expansions to the Ukula empire include revamping the website, which has more than 7,000 members, and turning the store's basement into a gallery, using art submitted to the magazine.  "It's an ongoing project — all the wheels are pushing it forward," says Maclean.


Rapper T.I. Leads Hip Hop Awards Nominations

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Oct. 13, 2006) ATLANTA —
T.I. will have a chance to show why he calls himself "The King.''  The Atlanta-based rapper received eight nominations for the BET Hip-Hop Awards, which will air nationally on the cable channel on Nov. 15. Busta Rhymes drew the second-most nominations, six; Chamillionaire got five, while Yung Joc and Lupe Fiasco got four apiece.  Stephen Hill, executive vice president of entertainment, music and talent at BET, expressed enthusiasm for the decision to hold the event in Atlanta.  "Hip-hop is huge here," Hill said Thursday when the nominees were announced. "This city has an energy that you can touch. This is the home plate for southern hip-hop and music in general.''  Jermaine Dupri, who teamed up with Ludacris on the 2001 hit "Welcome to Atlanta," wanted the song to become an anthem for Atlanta, hoping to bring more recognition to the city.  "It worked," Dupri said. "It was my thought to let people know about my city. From having a tough time getting on the radio to BET hosting an awards show here is very important.''  Along with Dupri and Ludacris, other nominees include Kanye West, Lil' Wayne, Young Jeezy, Common, Rick Ross and Nelly. The show will be hosted by comedian Katt Williams.

Canadian On Shortlist For Composition Prize

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Robert Everett-Green

(Oct. 16, 06) Toronto -- Canadian
Paul Frehner is one of five composers to reach the short list for the first International Composition Prize of l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Frehner, a native of Montreal, joins two Spaniards (Ramon Humet and Eneko Vadillo Perez), a Briton (Luke Stoneham) and France's Raphael Cendo, after closed-door deliberations by an international panel of jurors convened by OSM music director Kent Nagano. The five will compete for three prizes worth a total of $50,000. Nagano inaugurated the competition last year, 18 months before taking over his full responsibilities with the OSM. The final round will take place during a public concert at Montreal's Place des Arts on Jan. 10.

New Whitney Album To Get Primo Beats

Excerpt from

(October 16, 2006) *More proof that the
Whitney Houston comeback album is indeed a go is new word from Billboard magazine that producer DJ Premier is close to signing a deal to produce tracks for the project. The hip hop legend, who produced Christina Aguilera’s current album “Back to Basics,” has already lined up behind-the-boards work for Nas, Amerie and Canibus in the coming months. But it’s the Whitney deal that has Primo the most excited. "I'm not gonna jinx it but there [have] been talks and I've met with the right people so if that goes down I'd love to give her a big record," Premier tells "I know what she needs. I'm not gonna give her a record about rolling on dubs and all that just because that's what's current. That's beneath her. She can go left field as long as the record's banging and she sings it well." The CD is coming on the heels of Houston’s reunion with J Records head Clive Davis and will be the singer’s first studio work in four years. Houston has had issues with drug addiction in recent years and last month filed for divorce from singer Bobby Brown after 14 years of marriage. Premier thinks Houston’s fans will welcome her return with open arms. "She deserves another chance," he says. "I won't misguide her career and give her some bulls**t [track]."

Cassidy On The Road To Recovery

Excerpt from

(October 13, 2006) *Rapper
Cassidy recently regained consciousness after being hospitalized for injuries suffered in a car crash.  The Philadelphia-based artist, whose real name is Barry Reese, suffered a fractured skull and multiple broken bones in his face. According to, doctors have performed CAT scans and so far, have found no abnormalities with his brain activity. "He went through a large trauma that would have taken the life of less healthy people," Cassidy's attorney Simon Rosen told "He was in good health before the accident. Everybody has supported him from all over the world. The fraternalism of the hip-hop community isn't going to make headlines, but there are a lot of people that have banned together from the hip-hop community to support Cassidy. It's not all about negativity." As previously reported, the 24-year-old MC was on his way to a recording studio in Yonkers, NY last Thursday (Oct. 5) when the SUV in which he was riding was struck by a truck driven by 36-year-old Javier Trujillo Gonzalez of Carson City, MI. Police issued Gonzalez a summons for making an improper turn. He reportedly ran a red light and crossed into an intersection to broadside the SUV, a Chevy Suburban carrying Cassidy and three other passengers.

It’s Ladies Night On New Warwick CD

Excerpt from

(October 12, 2006) *
Dionne Warwick gathers an all-star female lineup for her new duets CD “My Friends and Me,” due Nov. 7 from Concord Records.  The set includes collabos with Gladys Knight, Olivia Newton-John, Mya, Gloria Estefan, Kelis, Reba McEntire, Cyndi Lauper, Celia Cruz, Wynonna Judd, Cheyenne Elliott, Lisa Tucker, Deborah Cox, Chante Moore, Angie Stone and Da Brat. The 13 tracks by famed songwriting team Burt Bacharach and Hal David are given up-to-date remakes courtesy of her producer/son, Damon Elliott (Barry White, Destiny's Child, Eminem). The project, Warwick says, gave her a chance to put a contemporary spin on timeless material, and more importantly, "hang out with the girlfriends."  "It's something I've been trying to get done for several years," she says. "I decided to celebrate my 40th year in the business with a world tour, which we're still on after almost four years. The object was to visit every continent, country and city that I've performed in during my career. It was a brilliant idea at the time!"  Knight joins Warwick for a new take on "I'll Never Love This Way Again," while Newton-John guests on a bouncy interpretation of "Wishin' and Hopin'." Mya contributes to "Close to You," Kelis accents "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," Estefan joins in on "Walk on By," Cruz helps point the way to "San Jose" and Cox, Moore, Stone and Da Brat help Warwick bring the socially conscious "Windows of the World" up to date, with Da Brat rapping about Iraq, Katrina and other controversial issues.

Akon's 'Smack That' Makes Historic Chart Move

Source:  Tremedia, Tresa Sanders, / Universal Motown, Shirronda Sweet,

(October 13, 2006) NEW YORK -- Upfront/Konvict/SRC/Universal Motown multi-platinum recording star and much sought after producer and songwriter,
Akon, makes history with his new single "Smack That" featuring Eminem jumping 88 spots, from #95 to #7 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart this week.  "Smack That" is also one of the top 10 fastest growing songs at Top 40 radio. The monstrous leap is fuelled by the single's #6 debut on Billboard's "Hot Digital Songs" chart with 67,000 downloads sold in it's first week.  "Smack That" is one of two lead singles from Akon's forthcoming sophomore disc, Konvicted, due out November 21, 2006. The single has already been the #1 most added song at rhythmic and crossover radio and has been listened to more than three million times in one month on Akon's MySpace page ( Akon's other lead single, "I Wanna Love You" features Snoop Dogg is seeing a considerable amount of attention as well.  Akon scored unprecedented success, both here and abroad, with his multi-format smash hit singles "Locked Up" and "Lonely" from his multi-platinum debut release, Trouble. He's produced hit songs for hot rapper Young Jeezy and his own top-selling R&B artist T- Pain. He has recently worked in the studio with Elton John and Gwen Stefani and will be debuting several breakout artists on his newly developed label, Konlive.

Black Version Of Myspace To Launch Nov. 1

Excerpt from

(October 17, 2006) *A new multi-service Web site catering to the “urban audience” will soon be upon us offering young users a place to get their MySpace, YouTube and download on – all in one environment., from media/label impresario Chuck Wilson, will launch on Nov. 1 with previously-unseen songs, remixes and videos from artists such as Ludacris, T.I., Diddy, Akon, Ghostface, Lloyd Banks, Hi-Tek, Jim Jones and Foxy Brown. Additional site features include news, gossip, a YouTube-like video uploading and sharing component, a download store and a MySpace-inspired web community where users can upload and sell their own songs, videos, ringtones and wallpaper. Wilson, who created Crackspace through his newly-formed Triumph Media Holdings, says he saw a need for a social networking and music/video site that catered to the urban community.  "The market need for a technologically advanced urban Web site could not be more urgent," says Wilson, a screenwriter who counts among his credits “Soul Plane.” "MySpace is great but it doesn't even come close to fully satisfying the hip-hop generation. CrackSpace was created by and for that generation. This is a place for anyone who loves the culture. We have to be very much in touch with the places where kids experience urban music and culture and really set the table for when the majority of sales are online. That's really what this is all about."

Tim McGraw Gets Hollywood Star

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Associated Press

(Oct. 18, 2006) LOS ANGELES —
Tim McGraw, the country entertainer whose many hats include recording star, concert performer and movie actor, was enshrined in concrete Tuesday with a star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  "I really still don't know how it happens, maybe they made a mistake or something," said the incredulous entertainer, surrounded by wife Faith Hill, actor Billy Bob Thornton and a screaming throng of fans.  McGraw's sidewalk star was unveiled in front of the Virgin Records store on Hollywood Boulevard. He wore his signature black cowboy hat to shade him from a sunny autumn day in Southern California.  "It's been a great ride for me for a long time," McGraw said. ``This summer will make 18 years that I've been on the road playing music, making my living.''  The ceremony was timed to coincide with Friday's release of ``Flicka," starring McGraw, Maria Bello and Alison Lohman. The movie is a new adaptation of the family novel "My Friend Flicka,'' about a teen training a wild mustang.  McGraw, 39, made his movie debut two years ago in "Friday Night Lights," co-starring with Thornton.  The son of the late Major League Baseball pitcher Tug McGraw has sold more than 33 million albums, 4 million singles and had 26 No. 1 singles. McGraw and Hill won Grammy Awards for "Let's Make Love" and "Like We Never Loved at All.''  In 2004, McGraw won the Grammy for best male country vocal performance for "Live Like You Were Dying.''



October 16, 2006

Aaron Neville, Bring It on Home... The Soul Classics [Bonus Tracks], Sony
Afroman, A Colt . 45 Christmas, Hungry Hustler
Akon, Smack That, Universal
Amy Winehouse, Back to Black, Universal/Island
Amy Winehouse, Rehab, Universal/Island
B.A., Stock Xchange, Rex
Baby Boy da Prince, Across the Water, Republic
Barrington Levy, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Barrington Levy, Universal International
Belief, Dedication, Green Streets
Belo Zero, The Truth, Asylum/Rap-A-Lo
Belo Zero, The Truth [Chopped & Screwed], Asylum/Rap-A-Lo
Ben E. King, Sings for Soulful Lovers/Seven Letters, DBK Works
Beyoncé, Irreplaceable, Pt. 1, BMG/RCA
Beyoncé, Irreplaceable, Pt. 2, BMG/RCA
Bigga Boss, Gold 5.5, BCD Music Group
B-Legit, Gorilla Grindin Mixtape,
B-Legit, Hood Hustlin,
Bobby Valentino, Turn the Page/Wreck, Def Jam
Boo, Make It Rain, J-Records
Bow Wow, Signal Fire, JVC Japan
Buju Banton, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Buju Banton, Universal International
Cassie, Long Way 2 Go, Pt. 1, WEA/Bad Boy
Charizma, King of the Jungle, Jungle Rock Productions
Chozen, Epitome, Circiut
Collie Buddz, Come Around, Urban
Common Market, Common Market,
Coolio, Gangsta Walk, All Around the World
Coolio, Return of the Gangsta, Grindin
Count Bass D, Act Your Waist Size, Fat Beats
Coyote, Turn It Up, Thump
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Redemption Songs, Ghostlight
David Sea, Love Makes the World Go Round,
Destani Wolf, Again and Again,
Diana Ross, I Love You [Bonus Track], Toshiba EMI
Diddy, Press Play, Bad Boy
DJ Jazzy Jeff, Hip Hop Forever, Vol. 3, Rapster
Dyablo, Revoluxion, EMI
Eddie Cain, Sex in the City, Vol. 1, BCD Music Group
Equipto, Behind the Rhyme [CD/DVD], Tommy Gun
Fat Jon, Same Channel, Morr
Fats Domino, Christmas Is a Special Day, CSP
Fiend, The Addiction [Screwed Version], Fiend Entertainment
First Degree the D.E., Fu3: The Dark Assembly, Sumo
First Degree the D.E., Once There Was Fahrenheit, Fahrenheit
Frankie J, Priceless, Columbia
Gnarls Barkley, Gone Daddy Gone, WEA
Grandmaster Flash, The Message, Sanctuary Midline
Groundation, Upon the Bridge, Young Tree
Hi-Tek, Hi-Teknology 2, Baby Grande
James Brown, Fine Old Foxy Self, Universal International
Jimmy Roses, Jimmy Roses, Goldtoes Ent.
John Holt, 1000 Volts of Holt, Sanctuary Midline
JoJo, The High Road, Universal
J-Roc, Last Days: Perilous Times, Vol. 2, Crucifixion
Killa Klump, Killa Klump & Yuckmouth, Rex
Lil Jon, Crunk Rock, JVC Victor
Lil Menace, Down 2 Ride, PR
Lil' Romeo, Lil Romeo's Greatest Hits, Koch
Lloyd Banks, Hands Up [Single], Universal/Polydor
Los Donneños, Grabaciones Originales 1950-1954, Arhoolie
Lowdown, Antidote, Black Balloon
Lynn Hope, Blow Lynn Blow, Acrobat
Lyrycyst, American Dream, Alliant Music Group
Marcia Griffiths, Play Me Sweet & Nice, Trojan
Marvin Gaye, Soul Duo, DeUce Boxed Sets
Matisyahu, Youth [Japan Bonus Tracks], Sony
Max Minelli, Both Sides, Vol. 2, Dirty South Prod.
Moka Only, Station Agent, Camobear
Move.meant, Scope of Things, Grindin
Oxmo Puccino, Lipopette Bar, EMI
Percy Sledge, The Percy Sledge Way/Take Time to Know Her, DBK Works
Players, Clear the Decks, Castle
Pony Boi, Who Woulda Thought, Long Live Crime
Rihanna, We Ride, Universal/Def Jam
Ruth Brown, Jukebox Hits 1949-1955, Acrobat
Saafir, Good Game: The Transition, ABB
Samson & Sejour, Samson, KR Urban
Scweez, Da Dummy Retarded Mexican,
Sicc-2-Sicc Gangsters, Certified: Dressed N Black, PR
Silk, Always and Forever, Shanachie Entertainment
Sisters Love, Give Me Your Love, Soul Jazz
Sizzla, Overstanding, KR Urban
Subtle, Mercury Craze, EMI/Lex
Sumthin Terrible, Turf Tested, Hood Approved,
Tapper Zukie, Escape from Hell, Trojan
The Brand New Heavies, Get Used to It [Bonus Tracks], Pony Canyon
The Day After, A Different Way to Get By, Gotham
The Diplomats, The Diplomats Present: 140th & Lennox, Koch
Tom Burbank, Famous First Words, Planet Mu
Tony Vic, The Vic[S]Tor[y] Album,
Trilltown Mafia, It Goes Without Sayin [Chopped & Screwed], Asylum/Rap-A-Lo
Troy Shondell, This Time: The Best of Troy Shondell, Acrobat
Various Artists, Cheatin' Soul and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Trikont
Various Artists, The Best Romantic Music, DeUce Boxed Sets
Various Artists, Hoodz: Jim Jones - Taking No Prisoners, Hoodz DVD Magazine
Various Artists, Infamy, Image
Various Artists, Power Structure, Madd Lock
Various Artists, R&B: Dawn of the Golden Era, Golden Stars
Various Artists, Tha Boxx, Vol. 1: Urban Video Collection, Blocwize
Various Artists, The Day Hell Broke Loose, Vol. 3, Swishahouse
Various Artists, This Is Soul [Immortal], Immortal
Various Artists, DJ Raymond Presents: The Roots of Reggaeton,
Various Artists, Haunted House: The Skinhead Reggae Box Set, Trojan
Various Artists, Reggae Party Explosion: The Best in Classic Reggae, Intersound
Various Artists, Trojan Selecta, Vol. 4: Boss Sounds Festival Special, Trojan
Wilson Meadows, Love Bomb, Bob Grady
Xzibit, Full Circle, Koch

October 23, 2006

50 Cent, 50 Cent Is the Future, BCD Music Group
5th Ward Boyz, Recognize Tha Mob [Chopped & Screwed] [2002], Asylum/Rap-A-Lo
Aaron Neville, Bring It on Home... The Soul Classics [Bonus Tracks], Sony
Amy Winehouse, Back to Black, Universal/Island
Amy Winehouse, Rehab, Universal/Island
Avant, Lie About Us, Universal/Island
Bass 305, The Final Frontier, DM
Belief, Dedication, Nature Sounds
Beyoncé, Irreplaceable, Pt. 1, BMG/RCA
Beyoncé, Irreplaceable, Pt. 2, BMG/RCA
Big Truth, The Absolutte Truth, Republic
Biz Markie, Make The Music With Your Mouth Biz, Traffic Ent.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Just Vibe, Interscope
Boney M., The Magic of Boney M. [Hansa], MCI
Cassie, Long Way 2 Go, Pt. 1, WEA/Bad Boy
Celph Titled, The Gatalog: A Collection of Chaos,
Chamillionaire, The East Coast Shake Down, Pt. 2, Best of the Block
Crooked Stilo, West Side Greatest Hip-Hop, Fonovisa
Dave Hollister, Book of David, Vol. 1: The Transition [Bonus Track], BMG/Zomba
De La Soul, Impossible Mission,
Dennis Brown, Wolf & Leopards [EMI], VP / Universal
Diana Ross, I Love You [Bonus Track], Toshiba EMI
DIDDY Press Play (Bad Boy)
DJ Green Lantern, You'll See,
Flavor Flav, Flavor Flav, Draytown
Frank-n-Dank, Nice 2 Meet U/MCA,
Frank-n-Dank, Xtended Play 3.13,
Future Pigeon, The Echodelic Sounds of Future Pigeon, Record Collection
Gnarls Barkley, Gone Daddy Gone, WEA
Gnarls Barkley, Who Cares, WEA
Gregory Isaacs, Love Songs [Box Set], Charm
Hard 2 Obtain, Ism and Blues, Traffic Ent.
Hector & Tito, A La Reconquista, Machete Music
I Kong, The Way It Is, VP / Universal
Irv Alexander, Swurve, Thump
J Rock, Streetwize 15th Anniversary Edition,
Jay-Z, Greatest Hits, Sony / BMG Import
Jibbs, Jibbs Featuring Jibbs, Geffen
John Legend, Once Again, Sony
Kelly Price, This Is Who I Am, Gospo
Kenny Latimore, Uncovered/Covered, La Face
Lil Boosie, Bad Azz, Trill Ent/Asylum
Lil Sic, The West Is Back, Thump
Lionel Richie, I Call It Love, Island
Lord Finesse, The Awakening, Traffic Ent.
Luciano, Child of a King, VP / Universal
Marcia Griffiths, Play Me Sweet & Nice, Trojan
Marva Wright, Do Right Woman, Shout
Matisyahu, Youth [Japan Bonus Tracks], Sony
Menace Clan, Da Hood [Chopped & Screwed], Asylum/Rap-A-Lo
Millie Jackson, Soul Circuit Retrospectives, DM
Moka Only, Station Agent, Camobear
Monica, Dozen Roses, J
, Makings of Me [Bonus Track], J/BMG
P.K.O., Live in Japan, 3D
Paula DeAnda, Doing Too Much/Walk Away, J-Records
Paula DeAnda, Paula DeAnda [Bonus Track], BMG/Arista
Pharrell Williams, That Girl, Pt. 2, EMI/Virgin
Pitch Black, Revenge,
Project Pat, Crook by Da Book: The Fed Story, Sony
Rihanna, We Ride, Universal/Def Jam
Rosie Gaines, Welcome to My World, Susu
Ruben Studdard, Return [Bonus Track], BMG/RCA
Saigon, Pain in My Life, Atlantic / Wea
SARAH MCLACHLAN Wintersong (Nettwerk)
Shareefa, Point of No Return, Def Jam
Sisters Love, Give Me Your Love, Soul Jazz
Slave, Funk Essentials, DM
Smokey Robinson, 50th Anniversary Collection, Universal/Umtv
SNOOP DOGG Blue Carpet Treatment (Doggy Style Records)
Solange, Solo Star,
Tapper Zukie, Escape from Hell, Trojan
The Big Family, Evolution, Sony International
The Brand New Heavies, I Don't Know Why (I Love You), Delicious Vinyl
The Game, It's Okay [Single], Universal/Polydor
The Temptations, To Be Continued..., Umvd Special Markets
THE TRAGICALLY HIP World Container (Universal)
Too Much Trouble, Bringing Hell on Earth [Chopped & Screwed], Asylum/Rap-A-Lo
Tribol Clan, Los Bacatranes [2004], Machete Music
Tribol Clan, Los Bacatranes [2006], Machete Music
Trick Daddy, Bet That, Atlantic / Wea
Various Artists, Gargolas, Vol. 1: El Comando Ataca, Machete Music
Various Artists, Gargolas, Vol. 2: El Nuevo Comando, Machete Music
Various Artists, Gargolas, Vol. 3, Machete Music
Various Artists, Haunted House: The Skinhead Reggae Box Set, Trojan
Various Artists, Hector "El Bambino" Presenta: Los Anormales, Machete Music
Various Artists, Las 9 Plagas, Vol. 1, Machete Music
Various Artists, Las 9 Plagas, Vol. 2: La Epidemia, Machete Music
Various Artists, Old Skool Hip Hop Klassiks, Vol. 1, St. Clair
Various Artists, Six the Hard Way, Heartbeat
Various Artists, Soul Men: Their Greatest Hits, Fuel 2000
Various Artists, Tributo a Bob Marley [Bonus Track], DeLanuca
Various Artists, Trojan Selecta, Vol. 4: Boss Sounds Festival Special, Trojan
Various Artists, Welcome to 6 Blocks 96 Buildings,
Yabby You, Deliver Me from My Enemies, Blood and Fire


Bening Likes A Challenge

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Oct. 16, 2006) The actor
Annette Bening has heard the rumours of her being an iconic movie goddess.  She doesn't know what to make of them, but she'd like to think they're true.  It has to do with the classic Columbia Pictures logo of a woman holding a flaming torch, which was redesigned in 1993. Bening was at a screening with husband Warren Beatty when a man claiming to be involved in the redesign told her that her face had been used as the model.  "I said, `Really? That's so flattering, how nice,'" Bening recalls on the line from L.A.  "And then somebody else who'd worked on it called some magazine or something and said, `No, no, no! That wasn't Annette Bening. She's claiming it's her and it's not her!'  "So I don't know if it's true or not," she chuckles. "I was told that it was. But if it's not, I yield to whoever says it's not."  It certainly looks like her and the inspiration seems likely. The statuesque beauty from Topeka, Kansas, so often plays commanding roles, women of authority and guile who frequently get the better of the men around her.  Remember her as Julia Lambert in Being Julia, the 2004 role that brought her third Academy Award nomination (the others were for American Beauty and The Grifters)? She wouldn't tolerate being pushed to the sidelines.  Or think of her as Sue Barlow in Open Range, a woman prepared to take on lawless gunslingers to do what's right. Or as Virginia Hill in Bugsy, the romantic foil to the title gangster player by Beatty, a dedicated womanizer whom she later married and made a father of.

"I feel lucky," says Bening, 48.  "I love playing these complicated women. It's really a challenge. That's the thing that's exciting, is when you're just doing something you don't know you can do, and you're on uncertain ground."  She had challenges to spare in playing troubled poet Deirdre Burroughs in Running With Scissors, opening Friday. Set in the emotionally fraught 1970s, the movie is based on Augusten Burroughs's bestselling memoir of a very strange childhood.  Deirdre is an unpublished poet with delusions of stardom that her talent doesn't justify. She chafes from the home-life pressures of her needy son Augusten (Joseph Cross) and her alcoholic husband Norman (Alec Baldwin). Deirdre suffers from a bipolar disorder that magnifies her problems. She starts seeing an unconventional psychotherapist named Dr. Finch (Brian Cox), who begins to exert powerful control on her family.  It's hard to tell watching Running With Scissors whether it's meant to be a comedy or drama. That's exactly why Bening wanted to do it, and this devoted mother of four chooses her roles carefully.  "A lot of good movies don't fall directly into one category or another," she says.  "The characters were fascinating and all so different and there were so many different journeys that the movie followed. I just felt immediately that it would only interest me to do it if it was really grounded in something very real.  "I had no interest in playing someone just for the chance of playing a kind of, quote, 'crazy person.' I felt that was a terrible trap and I just didn't have an interest in that. If I could find a way to make it as real as possible, then I thought it would be worth doing. Because it was a great story."  She put a lot of work into preparing for the role, which she does for all her assignments.  "I love that part of the process. And I had done a lot of reading on the subject of this particular mental illness to begin with. I came in with a lot on that. I found it fascinating. There's so much to learn."  Director Ryan Murphy praises Bening for bringing so much empathy to a character who is hard to love or even like. Deirdre allows her son Augusten to come under the control of Finch, a decision that has both amusing and horrifying results.

"Annette ... was able to do that. That is a gift she has. Hers is one of the most harrowing portraits of mental illness I've seen."  Bening appreciates the praise, but sees playing a character like Deirdre as simply what actors do.  "The pleasure of being an actor is that you don't have to judge someone. You get to try to empathize even with choices that you find heinous.” Her dedication to her craft may not always be visible, even to expert eyes. In his Biographical Dictionary of Film, viewed by many as the definitive Hollywood textbook, film critic and historian David Thomson writes, "I don't feel that she has securely won the public's affection, or their sense of exactly who she is," adding that Bening "seems too guarded and intelligent to settle on a definite or passionate inner being."  Bening seems genuinely surprised by the assessment: "Is he talking about me, Annette Bening, or my characters?"  It's hard to say, but it doesn't matter to her. She knows Running With Scissors won't be everybody's cup of tea, either.  "I guess I like writing that is more edgy. And I'm not always looking for characters that are necessarily crowd-pleasing, although I don't have anything against that.  "I'm looking for interesting stories and directors, too, because as a movie actor you're really trying to serve a director and trying to serve a vision.... And that's really all I can do is follow my own instincts and follow what my tastes are and what interests me. And people react how they react."  Spoken like a true icon.

Sofia's Royal Treatment

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

(Oct. 15, 2006)
Sofia Coppola is looking forward to a long rest before taking her life and career off in a totally new direction.  Eight months pregnant and weary of a seemingly endless round of interviews and promotional appearances that began five months ago in Cannes, the 35-year-old filmmaker is planning an extended break with her boyfriend and father of her baby, French rock musician Thomas Mars.  She has no idea when she will return to work or what her next movie project will be — only that it will be very different.  With her latest film, Marie Antoinette, she has completed the trilogy she started with The Virgin Suicides and continued with Lost in Translation, and says she is now ready to open a new chapter in her life.  "There was a connection between the three films, which looked at a girl searching for her identity and her transition into becoming a woman," she said, as she perched on the edge of a chair in her suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.  "In Lost in Translation the character was on the verge of it and now in Marie Antoinette she completes the transition and becomes an adult and a woman. So I feel this is the end of a body of work and I'm excited that a new phase of my life is about to begin.  "I want to take the time to just focus on the baby, and then I'll see where I'll go with work. It will be a different type of project but at the moment I just don't know. My first priority is to take some time off."

She wore a black maternity smock and spoke quietly and hesitantly. Like her screenplays, she is sparing with dialogue, preferring to say little and relying on her eyes and body language to convey her meaning.  When she has finished her promotional duties for Marie Antoinette she plans to divide her time between her home in New York and Paris, where Mars, frontman of the rock band Phoenix, lives.  It is easy to dismiss her as a child of privilege whose family connections have helped propel her to movie success. After all, her father is Francis Ford Coppola, her brother Roman is also a director, she was previously married to writer-director Spike Jonze. (Nicolas Cage and Jason Schwartzman are cousins.) And although her upbringing and famous friends have undoubtedly helped her in her chosen career, she has nevertheless directed three stylishly moody and atmospheric movies. The Virgin Suicides in 1999, about a family of doomed suburban sisters, was met with impressed surprise and Lost in Translation earned four Academy Award nominations and won her an Oscar for her screenplay.  Like the central characters of her previous films, her Marie Antoinette, played by Kirsten Dunst, is depicted as a confused and lonely teenage outsider, thrust into the decadent and scandal-plagued life of the French court. Coppola, who based her screenplay on the biography by Lady Antonia Fraser, portrays the young queen as becoming a cool party girl who embraces the extravagant life of feasts and throws herself into a secret love affair with a Swedish count, eventually becoming the talk of France.  Coppola used music from such artists as Bow Wow Wow, New Order and Adam and the Ants, combined with some opera and 18th-century music to provide a distinctly eclectic blend of sounds.  "The film's candy colours, its atmosphere and the teenage music are all meant to evoke how I saw the world from Marie Antoinette's perspective," she said. "She was in a total silk and cake world.

"I wanted to make it contemporary so that a modern audience could relate to it and I wanted to tell the story of Marie Antoinette from her point of view and what it would be like if you were living in that time in a teenage world where you had all this kind of decadence offered to you and what it would feel like.  "She was very flawed but I wanted to show that I thought she was goodhearted and meant well, but wasn't always capable of making the best decisions."  Some observers have seen the film as a comment on modern celebrity youth culture, with Marie Antoinette as an 18th-century Paris Hilton, although Coppola is quick to deny the thought had even occurred to her. "Apart from the fact they're both blond and have little dogs, I don't see any connection at all," she said dismissively.  Others believe the sympathetic portrait of a poor little rich girl could be based on her own experience of a child growing up among Hollywood royalty.  "My upbringing wasn't public like that," she said. "I can't image what it would be like to live in Versailles and be a part of that family at that time, but I could relate to the basic human story of someone who is put in a situation that she didn't choose and how she has to find her way through. Just, you know, the competition between the girls in the family and marrying into a new group or finding yourself in a new situation which you have to navigate through."  Coppola professes to have been unfazed by the boos and jeers the film received when it was screened at the Cannes film festival. "It was maybe five or six people booing out of a very big group so it wasn't that disturbing," she said. "It got distorted so it sounded a lot worse than it was. I thought it was exciting that people were talking about it."  It was perhaps inevitable that Coppola would make her career in movies, having grown up on her father's film sets and reportedly first saying "Cut" at the age of 3.  Her father cast her in small roles in his films The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club and Peggy Sue Got Married.

As a teenager she drifted, dilettante-like, through a number of different jobs, including working in Karl Lagerfeld's studio, interning at Chanel, taking pictures for glossy fashion magazines and studying painting at art school. When she was 18 her father persuaded her to take the substantial role of Al Pacino's daughter in Godfather III, an experience that turned her off acting for good.  Her performance was savaged by the critics and her father was accused of nepotism. "I never had any ambitions to be an actress," she shrugs now. "It was something my dad asked me to do and I tried, but I am self-conscious in front of the camera. I'm glad I had the experience though, because now when I'm working with actors I know what it's like.  "I love being behind the camera. And I don't like being told what to do."  Although she professes to have no ideas for her next project, she knows what it won't be.  "I would never want to make something that was just mediocre," she said.  "I would rather do something that some people really connect to and some people reject. I try to make something personal and something people haven't seen a million times before."

Two Queens, Perfectly Cast

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Johanna Schneller

(Oct. 13, 2006) 'The world watches me put on rouge and wash my hands," Marie Antoinette once wrote to her mother. US magazine would have loved her. They would have run detailed stories about her garden-strolling regime and her favourite wig powders; they would offer knockoffs of her shoes. And they would have shown candid photos of her eating cake in their regular feature, "Stars: They're Just Like Us." The relationship of we rabble to those we celebrate -- be they monarchs, athletes, or entertainers -- has always been love/hate. To me, it's only grown stranger over the centuries. I cannot figure out what today's roiling tabloid culture wants from its stars: a hero to put on a pedestal, who can do things most of us can't? Or someone "just like us?" No wonder Paris Hilton is the symbol of our age: She's the ultimate meta-celeb, famous for her fame, pure media creature.

Two new movies look at two monarchs through the lens of celebrity:
TheQueen, opening today in Toronto, is Steven Frears's film about how Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) handled -- or mishandled -- her role in the week after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales; and Marie Antoinette, due next Friday, is Sofia Coppola's look at the title character's (Kirsten Dunst) trajectory from betrothed to beheaded, shot on location at Versailles and the Petit Trianon. In person, Dunst has a charming, wise-ingénue quality; she's mature enough to know she's still immature, which makes her perfect to play Antoinette. "Before reading Antonia Fraser's book [upon which the film is based], my knowledge of French history came mainly from [the musical] Les Misérables," she told me during an interview at her modern-day Versailles, the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles. (She likes to lounge by the pool. The paparazzi have a hard time getting in.) To play the queen, Dunst took classes in etiquette, dancing and singing, and also worked on a gliding walk, she said, "because it's not very elegant when you have these long hallway shots and you're plonking along. I learned how to do this shuffle so it looks like she's floating." She has about 60 costume changes in the film, "a ton of pink. I think Sofia wanted us to look like candy." But under her ruffles and towering wigs, Dunst found Marie Antoinette "definitely relatable," she said. "All eyes were on her and everyone was judging her." Quite literally: Coppola's Antoinette is witnessed by a full audience doing everything from slipping into bed on her wedding night to giving birth. There's even a scene where her friends read tabloid-style misinformation in the Paris papers. "She lived this totally isolated life in a pretty prison," Dunst said. "She was built up and then brought down, a scapegoat for everything." In other words, a celebrity.

Dunst, too, started working young -- at age 7, in TV commercials -- "in a world with all these adults, growing up in a not very normal way," she said. Now 24, she's a tabloid staple; the world watches her buy coffee and have lunch dates. "Recently they caught me at Whole Foods in the vitamin section," she said. "I was standing near a sign that read, 'Pre-Natal Vitamins,' so it showed up on the Internet that I was pregnant. I mean, chill! I don't do anything that interesting. Why do people care so much?" Care we do. Onto the celebrated, we collectively project any and every emotion, our longings, fears, judgments, guilts. Diana Spencer knew that. She didn't ask to be "queen of people's hearts" by accident. In Frears's movie, the titular Queen is a poignant character because unlike Diana (who haunts the film in news footage), she thinks that the role of a monarch is to be an example to people from above. She keeps talking about "sober private mourning" and "quiet dignity." She's blindsided that her populace is turned on by public grieving -- those heaps of rotting flowers -- and that they're angry she's not "just like" them. "Nowadays people want glamour and tears, the grand performance," she says. "I prefer to keep my feelings private." Private? What's that? No wonder her subjects don't find her "relatable" enough. Helen Mirren, as regal an actress as they come, is as perfectly cast as Dunst. Famously lusty at the beginning of her career, Mirren has matured into total self-possession. Living quietly with her husband, the director Taylor Hackford, behind an imposing gate in a secluded house in the Hollywood Hills, she keeps herself out of the tabloids and deploys her stardom surgically, when she wishes. Not unlike her character, who has already put Mirren on everyone's Oscar list. "I loved being her [Elizabeth]," Mirren told John Lahr in a recent New Yorker. "There was an incredible objectivity . . . a deep knowledge of being a monarch. I thought I had a lot in common with her." Dunst said she's giving up reading tabloids, "even though they're super-intriguing and super-hilarious. But I feel if I stop buying them they'll stop having me." And Mirren has been around long enough to know adamantly that stars are not "just like us," nor should they be. "You know that kind of ensemble feeling -- 'We're all in this together,' " she said. "No, actually, we're not. I am the queen, I am the star, and you know, suck it up."

Kidman, Gere at Rome Fest

Source: Associated Press

(Oct. 15, 2006) ROME -- Nicole Kidman premiered her movie Fur -- based loosely on the life of photographer Diane Arbus -- at the inaugural
Rome Film Festival, which opened yesterday. "I wanted to support this festival and Italy," Kidman told a news conference. "Film festivals are very good for small films like this one -- the more we have the better." The film by director Steven Shainberg tells the story of the transformation of a shy 1950s housewife into an artist, a move triggered by a passionate love affair with Lionel, her mysterious mentor played by Robert Downey Jr. "It's a small, small portrait. In fact, it's called an imaginary portrait. What counts is the creativity of the artist, what's inside," Kidman said. "My way of trying to play her was more trying to capture her inner self."

The festival will bring a handful of Hollywood stars to the Italian capital, including Sean Connery, who received a career achievement award in Rome on Thursday, Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Gere. Fur, which combines biography and fictional romance, is shown out of competition along with other premieres, such as Alatriste, a movie about a soldier living in 17th-century Spain starring Viggo Mortensen; The Hoax, starring Gere; and Mira Nair's The Namesake, about an Indian family moving to New York. Italian diva Monica Bellucci appears in two films also out of competition, N (Io e Napoleone) or, in English, N (Napoleon and I) and Le Concile De Pierre (The Stone Council). Among the 16 movies competing for the Best Movie Award are Iranian Niki Karimi's Chand rooz ba'd . . . (A few days later . . .) and Shane Meadows's This is England. The event, which has fuelled speculation of rivalry with the Venice Film Festival, runs to Oct. 21.

Fest For Latin Film Lovers

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Terauds, Entertainment Reporter

(Oct. 13, 2006) With 16 feature films and one short from 11 countries, the
Toronto International Latin Film Festival ranks among the prime specialized movie programs that thrive in the city year-round.  The "Latin" umbrella covers all of the Americas as well as Europe this year. The languages are Spanish, Portuguese and French — and all the movies are shown with subtitles.  Screenings start tonight at the renovated Royal Cinema (608 College St.), and run to next Saturday.  There is a broad spectrum on screen, from animation and documentary to light comedy and serious drama. Out of eight previewed films, there were six worthy entries. As is the trend, documentaries make an impressive showing:

·  Hasta Siempre (Until Always) is a documentary on life in Cuba today. It has the requisite crumbling buildings, 1950s American cars and spicy soundtrack, but director Ishmail Blagrove Jr. has gone out of his way to piece together an objective picture of Fidel Castro's legacy. We are immersed in the daily lives of ordinary Cubans as they try to balance tradition with the steady encroachment of contemporary Western culture — from hip hop to tourism. 60 minutes. Tuesday at 7 p.m.

·  Amando a Maradona (Loving Maradona) is a heartfelt tribute to Diego Maradona, the boy who rose from Argentina's poorest of the poor to become a world soccer icon in the 1980s and early '90s. This fun, fast-paced and often cheesy doc looks at the star through his biggest fans. The kitsch factor is high, including shots of Maradona tattoos and ardent groupies replacing Christ with the soccer star in a mock church service. 75 minutes. Tomorrow and Thursday at 9:15 p.m.

·  Marcello: Una Vita Dolce (A Sweet Life) is a straightforward bio doc about Italian screen legend Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996). There is a wealth of period interview and premiere footage that traces the star's evolution from handsome country bumpkin to movie icon through his work with Federico Fellini. 98 minutes. Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. and next Saturday at 7 p.m.

·  The Fight for True Farming is Eve Lamont's much talked-about documentary on organic farming in Canada. Through interviews with Quebec farmers and cultivators, Lamont reveals how this country's agribusiness system is stacked against environmentally friendly and, more important, environmentally sustainable methods. 90 minutes. Thursday at 7 p.m.

·  Derecho de familia (Family Law) is a quiet, ultimately deep mediation on the many layered bonds between parent and child — a smooth Buenos Aires lawyer (played by Arturo Goetz) and his insecure son (Daniel Hendler). Hendler's stony face and twitchy eyes betray his confusion as he questions of his identity, ability and purpose in the shadow of a successful father. 102 minutes. Sunday and Thursday at 9:30 p.m.

·  O casamento de Romeu e Julieta (Romeo and Juliet Get Married) is a light, silly romance flick about two Brazilians whose relationship has to survive them being supporters of rival soccer teams. 93 minutes. Next Friday at 7 p.m. and next Saturday at 9:15 p.m.

For full details, visit

Tyler Perry – BMAs Host With The Most

Excerpt from - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(October 18, 2006) Film Life’s
2006 Black Movie Awards airs tonight on TNT with host writer/director/actor Tyler Perry. Perry, who is quite used to wearing a wig as the hilarious Madea, will be trying on a new hat as the show's emcee.   “Initially I said no because I’m not a stand-up comedian; I don’t know how to be funny without a costume,” Perry told EUR’s Lee Bailey. Fortunately for fans, show producer Suzanne DePasse pleaded with the reluctant host. “Then when I found out that Cicely Tyson was being honoured and Laurence Fishburne and the anniversary of 'Lady Sings the Blues,' I just thought this was something I should do.” While Fishburne and Tyson receive achievement awards on tonight’s broadcast, the show’s nominee list made the event even more stellar. Nominees include the usual high-profile suspects like Denzel Washington, Cuba Gooding Jr., Halle Berry and Angela Bassett, and films “Akeelah & the Bee,” “ATL,” and “Tsotsi” just to name a few. (A complete list can be found HERE.) While Perry was very excited about the job, he admitted that he was terribly nervous.  “I’m [usually] comfortable because I’m standing behind a character, but any time it’s me, myself, it could be a little nerve racking,” he said, but added, “I’m really excited about it. This awards show is important because it salutes past, present, and future. We as black people – especially for our young people—they need to know the power we have as a people.”

Perry wasn’t the only one worked up about the show. Even legendary actress Cicely Tyson was upbeat about the awards show.  “I don’t have difficulty going to sleep, but I could not sleep,”  Tyson said about the night before the taping. “I tossed and turned all the night. I thought, ‘This is really something.’ That should let you know how I feel about this recognition.” she said. “When I found out I was chosen I was so moved. Sidney Poitier was selected last year, and when they called me I said, ‘Oh no.’ I was chosen to close to Sidney – not possible. However, for years we have been saying, ‘Why can’t we do it ourselves?’ ‘Why don’t we do it ourselves?’ We do it for others. Well, the Black Movie Awards is doing it for ourselves.” Tyson continued that accepting the honour made her feel that her work is important and worthwhile.  “For most of my career I made choices based on that fact that I could not allow myself the luxury of being an actress because there were a number of issues I needed to address and I used my career as my platform. I wasn’t sure from time to time that I had made the right choice, but tonight was definitely a validation that I did and that makes me feel wonderful.” While Perry revealed that while he will not try to pull off a comedic monolog, he will be doing a pretty funny opening doing interpretations of snippets of four classic black films. “I play Ike, Tina, Madea; I play Billy Dee, Madea, Diana Ross; Madea is in ‘The Color Purple’ her Celie and Sophia. It’s pretty funny, I can’t wait for you to see it. It’s just an opening right at the top and then I just go right into hosting from there. Everybody’s going to be talking about it the next day.”

After taping the show earlier this week in Los Angeles, Perry said that the skit went off well with the actors he portrayed.  “They told me how much they enjoyed it, especially Angela with the muscles, because she was so ripped up [as Tina Turner]. It was all done in a spirit of peace and fun.” Peace and fun are pretty much Perry's modus operandi lately. He’s getting a little more peace since he’s taking a break from acting, but said he’s having a lot of fun working more behind the scenes and finishing up work on his Tyler Perry Studios. “We’re feverishly working to get it ready for January when we start shooting ‘House of Payne,’” Perry said. The studio will do some work in December in shooting episodes for Perry’s ‘Meet the Browns.’ And then at the first of the year work begins on ‘House of Payne,’ which will initially be on CBS and then air five nights a week on Fox.” On top of that, Perry’s next film, “Daddy’s Little Girl” hits theatres on February 14th.  “It’s about a father who's in a custody battle over his three daughters with a woman who is the baby mama from hell. He needs help to get his kids back and he meets a lawyer, played by Gabrielle Union,” he described. “I’m really, really proud of ‘Daddy’s Little Girls.’ I can’t wait for people to see it. I’m not in the movie, though. I think after ‘Madea’s Family Reunion’ and the book, I felt I just needed to step away from the spotlight and focus on the studio and focus on the behind the scenes things. In a couple of months or so, early next year, I’ll be ready to get back in front of the camera.” Perry won’t even be doing a cameo in the film, but, in addition to Union, the film stars Tracy Ellis Ross, Melinda Williams, and Louis Gossett Jr. For more on the Black Movie Awards, which air tonight at 10 PM E/P on TNT, check out and for more on Perry, go to


It's a Cronenberg Sweep at Directors Guild Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Guy Dixon

(Oct. 16, 06) Toronto --
David Cronenberg's A History of Violence won all but one of the Directors Guild of Canada awards it was nominated for Saturday night. It swept most of the feature film categories, winning two technical awards for best sound and picture editing, best team achievement for a feature film and best feature director for Cronenberg. Only Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies beat it, winning best production design for a feature film. Others winners included Kari Skogland, best direction in a television series for an episode of Terminal City, and Christian Duguay, best television movie or miniseries direction for Human Trafficking.

Bruce Willis Gets Hollywood Star

Source: Associated Press

(Oct. 17, 2006) LOS ANGELES — Surrounded by family, friends and fellow actors,
Bruce Willis received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as scores of fans looked on.  Ex-wife Demi Moore and her new husband Ashton Kutcher were on hand, as were Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone, Don Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton. The Emmy-winning actor's children also attended the dedication ceremony Monday.  "I used to come down here and look at these stars and I could never quite figure out what you were supposed to do to get one," Willis said. "Time has passed and now here I am doing this, and I'm still excited. I'm still excited to be an actor."  The Willis star, the 2,321st implanted on the Walk of Fame, was unveiled on Hollywood Boulevard in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre on the eve of the DVD release of "Over the Hedge." Willis was the voice of RJ the raccoon in the animated film.  Willis, who won an Emmy for his role in the 1985-1989 ABC-TV series "Moonlighting," may be best known for his portrayal of Detective John McClane in the "Die Hard" movies. Another sequel, ``Live Free or Die Hard," will be released June 29.  His other film credits include "The Sixth Sense," "Pulp Fiction," "Twelve Monkeys" and "The Jackal." Willis' latest film, "Fast Food Nation," in which he plays an unscrupulous farmer, is scheduled for release Nov. 17.

Damon Brings Water To Africa

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Associated Press

(Oct. 18, 2006) LOS ANGELES —
Matt Damon went to the Sahara Desert to scout locations for a movie about long-distance runners. But when he got there, he took on another project: helping bring clean water to Africa.  Damon and the production team behind the upcoming documentary “Running the Sahara" created a charity to accompany their filmmaking expedition in Africa, which gets under way this month.  During his preliminary visit to the continent, Damon, 36, said he ``saw firsthand the effects of one of the largest public health issues of our time — the world water crisis which is at its worst in Africa."  H2OAfrica aims to raise awareness about Africa's water needs and support clean-water programs.  "Running the Sahara" is a documentary that will follow three ultra-marathoners as they attempt to become the first people to run across the Sahara Desert, which spans six countries. Along the way, the film's crew will identify locations in particular need of clean water so H2OAfrica can target its efforts. Damon will narrate the film. No release date has been scheduled.

Director ‘Comes’ Aboard Will Smith Film

Excerpt from - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(October 18, 2006)  *
Will Smith’s Columbia Pictures film “Tonight He Comes” has finally landed a director. “Friday Night Lights” helmer Peter Berg will sit behind the camera on the long-gestating project, which stars Smith as a superhero in crisis.   Charlize Theron is in talks to play a married housewife who falls for Smith’s character, an alcoholic, chain-smoking playboy who wears out his welcome with the public and becomes withdrawn - until he finds a special connection with the married housewife.   According to Variety, the script will be further honed while Smith shoots “I Am Legend” in New York until March.    Two months after wrapping “Legend,” Smith will begin shooting “Tonight” in Los Angeles for a summer 2008 release. Smith is producing the picture with Akiva Goldsman and Michael Mann. 



Seven Questions For Mr. T

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Andrew Ryan

Laurence Tureaud, May 21, 1952, in Chicago. Eleventh of 12 children (four girls, eight boys). Grew up in the Chicago housing projects. Excelled in wrestling, martial arts and football in high school. Worked as a celebrity bodyguard for several years, providing security to Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson and others. Breakout acting role came as boxer Clubber Lang in 1982 feature Rocky III, which included his trademark line, "I pity the fool." Assumed the more heroic role of B.A. Baracus in the TV series The A-Team (1983-87). Appeared in the Canadian-made series T and T (1988-90). Current host of the new cable series I Pity the Fool, in which he acts as a life coach.

Mr. T was the consummate eighties pop icon. African American who wouldn't back down to any man. He came from nowhere to instant star status in Rocky III, in which he pummelled Sylvester Stallone (and was later pummelled himself when Rocky came bounding back). Unlike disco, Rick Springfield and other eighties oddities, Mr. T had staying power — and a good management team. The big man transferred his menacing persona over to The A-Team and imposed his positive attitude upon American youth — with two rap albums, an animated series and countless toys depicting his brawny likeness. Mr. T's popularity even crossed borders: A mid-eighties appearance at Honest Ed's in Toronto caused a near-riot. And he's back. The T-Man is returning in I Pity the Fool, a weekly series in which he imparts his feel-good message: "I show people how to work their problems out instead of sitting around and complaining."

On The A-Team, your character's initials, B.A., stood for Bad Attitude. Now, you're providing life-coaching advice. Does that sound right to you?

I'm here to motivate people. I show them how to work together, how to solve their problems. This isn't no reality show. We're not doing nothing stupid. We're not eating rats or nothing like that. It's not Survivor or Fear Factor. I'm proud to say that even though my show is called I Pity the Fool, I never call anybody a fool. I treat the people like they are humans and treat them real kind and whatnot. Some people might expect I'm beating people up, but it's nothing like that. I didn't get this far on luck.

What's the best life advice anyone ever gave you?

My mother gave me the best advice. She said, 'Son, you do your best, and God will do the rest.' It's like to thine own self be true. So every day I ask myself if I did my best. When I was in school, the teacher would tell my mother, 'He's a good student, but he can do better. He likes to play.' I wasn't a prankster or nothing like that. Once I got my work done, I would play. But I knew I had talent, I knew I was skilled, I knew I was intelligent. I would do enough just to stay on the football team. Then I decided to tighten up, 'cause when I got to college, I was on the honour roll, so I know I can do better. And even with life, I keep that in mind. I say, 'C'mon, T, you can do better, go back and try that again.'

Sylvester Stallone is working on another Rocky movie. Any chance we'll see Mr. T make an appearance?

Sly asked me about it, but I was filming the pilot episode of I Pity the Fool, so we couldn't connect. But I appreciated it. I like Sylvester Stallone, because he gave me an opportunity for Rocky III. That was my first acting job. When I was training for Rocky III, I told him, 'I'm gonna give you 150 per cent every day.' And he said, 'I know you will, T.' I was honoured and I didn't want to let him down.

Would Clubber Lang, or Mr. T, whup Rocky in a fight today?

[laughs] Nah, nah, some people try to trap me into that, y'know? But I have humility and my mother taught me that you don't bite off the hand that feeds you. So when people ask me could you beat up Rocky, I tell them, 'No way, he's the man.' That's called being humble.

Could you beat up Dr. Phil?

Dr. Phil. He'd be dead meat! [laughs] Dr. Phil is a doctor, I'm a mister. People come on his show, 'What's wrong with me, Dr. Phil?' and this and that. You see, I'm hands-on. I go to the people's houses, I go to their workplaces, I go into the communities. That's what I like. There's no makeup and all that phoney stuff and whatnot. It's real. Back in Chicago in the late seventies and early eighties, I used to go out street preaching with my pastor. That's what it's all about: giving and helping the less fortunate.

On I Pity the Fool, you're rather dapper in a custom-made suit. What happened to your gold jewellery?

I stopped wearing the gold last year, after Hurricane Katrina, when I saw the people suffering, losing their homes, drowning, on top of the roofs, hollering for water, stuck in the Superdome and people mistreating them and stuff like that. So my heart went out to them and I cried when I watched the newscasts. It hurt me deep. And I said, as a Christian, I would never wear my gold again. So the only gold I have now is in my false gold teeth. Basically I want people to know I have a heart of gold, and not just the gold around my neck.

Actor, wrestler, cartoon figure, recording artist, which has been the most satisfying?

It all gives me a platform. I did TV, I did stage, I did movies, I did the singing the rap songs, telling kids to be good and don't talk to strangers. So all that's positive. I'm touching people, y'know, nothing negative or nothing like that. I don't do dope movies, dope roles, pimp stuff and whatnot, I don't do those things. I don't say certain things. I try to live a certain way. I'm not perfect, I'm not an angel, but I try to live a certain way because it brings honour and respect to my mother. I tell people that when they look at me, they're looking at nothing but a big, overgrown, tough mama's boy. That's who I am.

I Pity the Fool debuts tonight on Star! at 6 p.m. MT, 7 p.m. CT and 9 p.m. Atlantic.

‘The Nine’ Looks For Big Numbers This Fall

Excerpt from - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(October 13, 2006)  *The new ABC series “
The Nine” is reaching for a perfect ten with audiences this fall. The show, yet another ensemble-cast-mystery-lost in the vagueness-type-series, stars Chi McBride, Tim Daly, Scott Wolf, Lourdes Benedicto, and a host of others as a group of people who are held hostage during a botched bank robbery.   The show explores reactions from a diverse group of people in facing their own mortality and how they create relationships from traumatic circumstances, unfolding in cliffhanger episodes. “We’re still figuring it out,” said creator/executive producer Hank Steinberg of the pretzeling storylines. “It's a very complicated show ... I mean, you have nine people, their worlds, their lives, all the guest cast that interact with them. And we don't want it to feel insular. We want it to feel expansive. So it's an ambitious, complicated show.” Creator/co-executive producer K.J. Steinberg added: “I think the show is also about the convergence of all of these lives now and how, because of this event, now they're so bonded and intertwined that the crossover is making that challenge easier.” While a number of new shows of this genre, including its lead in show “Lost,” have recruited quite a number of new names, “The Nine” garnered a cast of TV veterans, including Chi McBride who was critically acclaimed as Principal Steven Harper on “Boston Public.” According to McBride, his re-entrance onto the small screen has given him an even greater range, and that the differences in his characters are about the number of sides each has.

“I've had the good fortune of doing a show where I did represent a really authoritative figure. And in this one, this guy has a much softer edge. And throughout the pilot, there are a variety of emotions. And I think that every actor wants to be able to play that. It's very challenging and it's very rewarding to be able to show what you can do, both for yourself and for the audience, I think,” he said. In addition to having a chance to wear a number of hats, McBride also wears a wig for his role on the, a role which he said may have actually been him in another reality. “Well, the producers, in the beginning, told me that I was too handsome and sexy for the role. And you know, what can I do about that?” McBride joked about his costuming for the show. “This guy is just an average guy. I worked at First National Bank of Chicago before I got into show business, and sometimes you think about who you would be if you hadn't chosen the career path that you ended up choosing. And for me, this was that guy. It was really very odd that this thing would come to me, because I'd often asked myself that question. And I got a chance, and I'm getting a chance now, to be the guy that I probably would have been had I stayed at the bank forever.” McBride, however, took another path and now finds himself on the anticipated show, bringing instead the actual reality of his own character.

“I think that there's a little bit of your real personality in any role that you play. And I just thought that this guy is a guy who is just a face in the crowd. And that's what happens to a lot of people. People -- average people often find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.”  The extraordinary circumstance in the show was the most important element.  “When you have a train accident or a plane accident, it's something passive, it's something that happens to you,” Steinberg compared. “And we thought a hostage crisis would be the best way to look at two things: One is your knee-jerk reaction to having a gun in your face. What would you do with a brush with mortality? And the other is, how would you behave if you had time to think about the person that you wanted to be in this situation? So the 52-hour hostage crisis gave us that. And we thought, what is universal? I could just be doing something Monday, like going into a bank. We thought the vulnerability of that everyday thing was just right.”  And now, with the crisis taping underway, the cast, including McBride, had a few qualms about going into a bank. “I never go into the bank anymore,” he said. “I don't even know what the inside of my bank looks like.” “The Nine” airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC. For MORE info visit The Nine's website:

Christians Find A New Voice

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jill Vejnoska, Cox News Service

(Oct. 17, 2006) ATLANTA—On any given night on television, viewers can see a woman who talks to the dead, a man with the power to stop time and Superman suffering through adolescence.  These days, it takes a lot for a character to stand out as new or different.  But Harriet Hayes, a smart and vocal Christian on
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, definitely is different — at least for network television. Christians and conservative characters finally are gaining a thoughtful voice in a number of shows, including Brothers & Sisters and Friday Night Lights.  "This beautiful, talented woman is atypical and a slight pariah in Hollywood," creator Aaron Sorkin says about the character he created to star on the comedy show-within-the-show at the heart of Studio 60.  Sorkin's not just spinning fictional storylines. He based Harriet on the experiences of his friend Kristin Chenoweth, the Tony Award-winning actress and devout Christian who co-starred on his earlier series, The West Wing, as a press secretary.  He says he practically swiped one of Harriet's early lines from his conversations with Chenoweth: "In other parts of the world that aren't New York or L.A., the fact that I believe in God isn't noteworthy."  Harriet, played by Sarah Paulson, might be the high-profile Christian among Studio 60's many liberal, even loutish lions, but she's not exactly alone this television season. In a development being hailed by more traditional viewers, a handful of characters have come along to give thoughtful, entertaining voice to segments of society that the industry has tended to ignore, caricature or treat with somewhat baffled disdain.

"It's a good sign, in that it represents more of America," says Martha Zoller, a radio talk-show host in Gainsville, Fla., and a frequent commentator on CNN, Fox News and the Today show. "Television has finally heard from people like me, people who drive their kids to school and like to see themselves portrayed."  People like the good folks of Dillon, Tex., on NBC's Friday Night Lights. Modern reality and traditional values go hand in hand in this drama about a football-mad small city whose high school players move fluidly between watching the latest ESPN highlights on their plasma screen televisions and urging each other on with cries of "Let's touch God, boys," before games.  "In Texas, religion isn't a big deal," executive producer Peter Berg says about not shying away from showing characters attending church or praying for an injured player. "It's just something that is."  On ABC's Brothers & Sisters, Calista Flockhart plays Kitty Walker, a conservative talk-radio host turned into a television pundit who expounds on politics and Iraq without coming off as shrill or wild-eyed.  But not everyone likes what they see or hear.  A Studio 60 review on the website of the conservative American Family Association fumed, "With great cunning, Aaron Sorkin and NBC send the message repeatedly throughout this show that Christians are extremists and the enemy of `free speech.'" About Harriet, the review goes on: "One of the characters is supposedly a born-again Christian — a Christian who swears regularly and writes comedy for this fictional show that mocks Christianity."

Garth Drabinsky Launches New Show On CBC

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Oct. 18, 2006)
Garth Drabinsky is back in business again — show business, that is — and this time, he's going into television.  The former movie mogul and stage impresario will officially announce his plans today for a new CBC series called Triple Sensation, set to hit the airwaves in the fall of 2007.  The show is focused on what Drabinsky calls "a national search for young Canadians who share a passion for the performing arts and are blessed with a combination of talents in the disciplines of acting, singing and dance."  The show's title is a sly blending of the show business expression "triple threat" (meaning someone who sings, acts and dances) with the phrase "singular sensation" from the song "One," first heard in A Chorus Line.  "All of my life, I have been devoted to talent," Drabinsky told the Star yesterday in an exclusive interview. "I have spent my career discovering and nurturing young performers.  "From the time I saw eight seconds of a young man named Tom Cruise in a film called Taps and signed him to a three-picture contract, to the moment in auditions for The Phantom of the Opera when a 14-year-old Neve Campbell walked in and I knew we had to cast her, this has been what gives me the greatest joy."  (Drabinsky's run as a successful theatrical impresario ground to a halt when his company, Livent, declared bankruptcy in 1998. He and Livent's ex-president, Myron Gottlieb, were indicted in New York in 1999. They failed to appear in court and face arrest if they return to the U.S. In October 2002, they were charged with fraud in Canada. That case has not come to trial.)  A nationwide search for Triple Sensation candidates between 16 and 24, beginning next month, will eventually yield a pool of 600 performers, who will then undergo a series of call-backs.  From that group, 120 will be chosen to face the Marquee Panel, chosen by Drabinsky from the ranks of Canadian and worldwide talents. They include Marvin Hamlisch (Oscar- and Tony-winning composer), Cynthia Dale (star of the Stratford Festival), Sergio Trujillo (Tony-nominated choreographer of Jersey Boys) and Adrian Noble (former artistic director of London's Royal Shakespeare Company).

This group will bring the candidates down to 12, who will spend a month in an intensive master class with international experts helping to hone their individual skills. The process will be televised weekly.  A further process of elimination will result in three young artists who will perform live on national TV, with the viewers of Canada picking the winner.  The victor of that decision will receive a scholarship worth $150,000 towards attending the theatrical institution of their choice around the world. The other two finalists will have $75,000 divided between them.  Drabinsky was vehement in making sure that — despite the elements of a search for talent and a final competition — this program not be thought of as an imitation of Canadian Idol.  "I'm running away from that idea as fast as I can," he asserted. "I want to go back and help us reconnect with what is noble and inspiring about the performing arts."  Drabinsky preferred to describe it as "combining the intellectual engagement of Inside the Actor's Studio with the tension of the audition scenes from the film of Billy Elliot."  The emphasis will not be put primarily on the moments when people are eliminated, but on the work it takes them to get from step to step along the way.  "We're not interested in mocking some young guy who comes in and does a terrible audition with a monologue from Hamlet," says Drabinsky. "It's more important that we get inside his head, discover why he picked that speech, where he went wrong and what he can learn from it. That's one way how our show will be different from all the others."  Drabinsky had been nurturing an idea like this for years, but last fall he found himself brooding over "how horribly the talents of young people are handled on television today. What if I had the opportunity — I asked myself — to take the knowledge I had acquired over years of work in the theatre and use it to act as a catalyst for the future of all the arts?"

In December 2006, he paid a visit to Richard Stursberg, the executive vice-president of CBC Television and told him of his vision.  "I wanted this to be on CBC," said Drabinsky. "It was the only place I took to."  Stursberg agreed and the corporation is putting up all the considerable financing required for the series.  Gemini Award-winning director Shelagh O'Brien will be in charge of bringing to the screen what Drabinsky refers to as "the sweat and tears, the guts and glory that these young people are going to endure. This isn't a world of instant stardom and Hollywood glitz. It's about hard work, passion and commitment."  The host will be Andrew Craig, best known as the host of CBC Radio Two's concert program In Performance.  "I picked Andrew not just because of his intelligence and charm and ease with the camera, but because he's an artist as well," said Drabinsky.  "He knows what these kids will be going through. He's been part of the process, he's known the pain of disappointment and the joy of success. He won't be a detached observer."  The arts and education community of Canada seems solidly behind Drabinsky's idea.  Karen Kain of the National Ballet of Canada says that Triple Sensations "demonstrates (Drabinsky's) boundless breadth of vision."  Albert Schultz of Soulpepper Theatre says that "the entire theatre ecology of this country will benefit from this project," and Phillip Silver, dean of the faculty of fine arts at York University, applauds the fact that this series "will be showcasing Canada's promising young talent while telling the inside story of what it takes to achieve those wonderful performances we enjoy in the theatre."  If you are a Canadian between 16 and 24 and believe that you are what Drabinsky calls "one of the brave of heart," go online to and pre-register for your audition.


Canadian Woman Gets Spot On 'Iron Chef'

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(Oct. 13, 2006) Vancouver culinary guru Rob Feenie blazed the
Iron Chef America trail, and now another home-grown chef will compete on the popular Food Network show Iron Chef AmericaLynn Crawford, the chef on another Food Network show Restaurant Makeover, has been invited to compete on the show on Oct. 23 in New York, where she'll challenge Iron Chef Bobby Flay, who specializes in southwestern cuisine.  Crawford — the first female Canadian cook on Iron Chef America — will be accompanied by her two sous-chefs from the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, Lora Kirk and Robert Bartley. The trio will attempt to outdo Flay and his crew by creating a four-star meal in under an hour featuring a secret ingredient that varies with every show.  The show will air on the Food Network early next year.  Feenie won in 2005 when he competed against one of the show's three Iron Chefs, Masaharu Morimoto. Mario Batali is the series' third Iron Chef.  "Competing on Iron Chef America is one of the ultimate culinary challenges and it's such an honour to be invited to participate," Crawford said in a release Friday.  Crawford added that she and her sous-chefs have "developed a rigorous training program in preparation for this huge event."  An all-star judging panel, including Ted Allen (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), Jeffery Steingarten (food editor, Vogue) and Mark Ecko (fashion designer and founder of Ecko clothing), will score each dish for taste, presentation and originality.

Stroumboulopoulos wins Gemini as host of The Hour

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(Oct. 18, 2006) Toronto -- The second round of Gemini television-industry prizes were handed out last night in Toronto in the lifestyle, children and youth categories. Here are some of the winners: The MuchMusic VJ Search series won best reality program; Stuntdawgs was voted best general/human interest series; Til Debt Do Us Part won best lifestyle/practical information series, and CBC News: The Hour was voted best talk series. The top animated program in 2006 was Bromwell High, and the best preschool program was Gisèle's Big Backyard: Here, There and Everywhere. The Morgan Waters Show took home best children's or youth fiction program award, while the same category prize, in non-fiction, went to Street Cents. George Stroumboulopoulos was voted best host or interviewer in a general/human interest or talk program for CBC News: The Hour, while Sean Cullen won best host in a lifestyle/practical information or performing arts program for What Were They Thinking? Tonight will cap three evenings of Gemini industry awards, with kudos given in drama, variety and comedy. The 21st-annual Gemini gala, to be broadcast by Global, will be held Nov. 4 in Richmond, B.C.

Lister Sinclair, 85: CBC Host

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Canadian Press

(Oct. 16, 2006)  Veteran CBC broadcaster
Lister Sinclair died this morning in a Toronto hospital, the public broadcaster reports.  He was 85.  Sinclair had a storied career at the CBC, working as a host, playwright and panellist — even as vice-president of the network.  He hosted the radio show "Ideas" for 16 years and was a fixture on the program "Court of Opinion."  He also wrote numerous plays for radio and TV.  Sinclair — who was born in Bombay (now called Mumbai) and raised in England — also helped organize the Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists which is now known as ACTRA, which represents thousands of Canadian performers.  He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1985.  A tribute to Sinclair is set to begin tonight on CBC Radio One.

Will And Jada Bring Pilot To CBS

Excerpt from

(October 12, 2006) *Last July at the Television Critics Association Press Conference in Pasadena,
Jada Pinkett Smith hinted around at a new project that she and her husband Will were pitching to the networks, but she refused to elaborate for fear of jinxing the process. It’s now been confirmed that CBS has given a put pilot commitment to the project, which hails from CBS Paramount Network TV and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment.  It was Jada who came up with the concept for the untitled drama that follows doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who fight the maladies and viruses that threaten people worldwide. The Smiths will executive produce the pilot with James Lassiter, Smith's partner at Overbrook. The show will be written by Jan Nash and Jennifer Levin, who became close while working together on CBS' crime drama "Without a Trace," co-produced by CBS Par TV. The project marks Overbrook's second foray into television following its sitcom "All of Us," which the Smiths co-created and are executive producing. The family sitcom just launched its fourth season on the CW following previous years on The WB.

TV One Preps Bill Bellamy Series

Excerpt from

(October 18, 2006)  *Actor/comedian
Bill Bellamy brings his own unique brand of humour to TV One beginning Saturday, October 28 from 10-11 p.m. as host of its new, original comedy competition series, “Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes?”    This fall, TV One and Bill Bellamy hit the road in search of the hottest rising comics in the USA, who are competing to be crowned “Jokes” champion in January.  The unique twist? Comics must keep it clean, and will be docked points for swearing and/or raunchy routines.     Included in the show are Man on the Street Rodney Perry, who interviews – and cuts up with -- potential contestants and audience members alike, and the show’s referee, the newly dubbed “Pope of Comedy” Tommy Ford (“Martin”), who judges whether contestants lose points if their comedy routines veer into a raunchy direction.     Each episode – except for the final round -- is judged by a panel of audience members during tapings in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago. The final round, scheduled to air in January 2007, will be judged by the TV viewing audience.  The series will replay Saturday nights at 1 a.m. ET.



Don Juan Seductive In French

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Richard Ouzounian

Don Juan

By Molière. Directed by Lorraine Pintal. Until Oct. 20 at the Avon Theatre, Stratford.

(Oct. 16, 2006) While thousands of Torontonians were carb-loading on Saturday night in preparation for yesterday's marathon,
Colm Feore was launching the final lap of the impressive endurance test he set himself at the festival here this summer.  Call it a Triathlon Plus. Feore wasn't content to play the roles of Fagin, Coriolanus and Don Juan in one season, but he took on the added bonne bouche of playing Molière's libidinous hero in both official languages.  It was only appropriate that Governor General Michaëlle Jean was there to witness the first truly bilingual production at Stratford since the 1960s as this French version of Don Juan joined the English one that opened in August.  Lorraine Pintal's production was generally criticized when it first premiered, but the version I saw on Saturday night has a great deal to recommend it.  Some of Pintal's odder original choices, like having scenes played in Newfoundland accents, are no longer part of the deal and the whole thing moves with the cool assurance of her work at Théâtre du Nouveau Monde in Montreal, where she's artistic director.  The settings of Danièle Lévesque are a strange but pleasing marriage of high-tech stylization and 17th-century artifice, with rigid candelabras and dressmaker's dummies alternating with gossamer drapes and bucolic drops.  François St-Aubin has provided elegant costumes that also shift between the past and the present but manage to dazzle with their colour and line, while the lighting of Axel Morgenthaler imparts just the right otherworldly air to the whole proceedings.  Don Juan is one of Molière's strangest plays, a mixture of commedia dell'arte, moral debate, pastoral romance and revenge tragedy. Its almost presciently modern views on morality and religion made it understandably unpopular when first performed in 1665.

Pintal's production is best at the two extremes: when the play is being most humorous or most tragic. It begins with crackling comedic energy and concludes with fine dramatic flourishes, but in between, especially in the long first act, there are passages when it seems like she doesn't really know what to do with it, and our attention falters.  None of this is the fault of the company, which is excellent.  From the grandeur of Noémie Godin-Vigneau's Dona Elvira and the classic dignity of Jean-Louis Roux's Don Louis through to the randy energy of Gareth Potter's Pierrot and the saucy charm of Éveline Gélinas as Charlotte, all is well.  But the burden of the show rests on its two leading characters: the amoral, opportunistic Don Juan and his servant, the pragmatic moralist Sganarelle.  It's one of the great double acts in literature and both roles are performed with incredible virtuosity.  Benôit Brière is a totally irresistible rogue as Sganarelle. With his shuffling gait, saucer eyes and hairdo that looks like he stuck his finger in an electrical socket, Brière captures all the daffy appeal of this great clown.  He manages to combine a contemporary edge with his classic mugging, using Robert De Niro's "I'm watching you" gesture on audience and cast alike with telling effect.  But when it comes time to speak as the representative of true morality in the face of his master's blatant disregard for all that is good, Brière knows how to acquire the necessary weight.  He's the audience's runaway favourite, which — ironically — is a clear indication of how well Feore is doing as Don Juan.

When all is said and done, there is nothing truly appealing about Don Juan. He seduces for conquest, not for lust or love. He mocks the good, he scorns the deity.  Only when he senses the approach of death does he act with some gravity.  All this means that Feore can't rely on ingratiating himself with the audience or stunning us with his forceful personality. He plays this exquisitely hollow man to perfection and while we may have a certain awe for his existential panache, we can't really like him.  Feore captures all of this with his ramrod back and aquiline profile, sniffing the air for hypocrisy like a greyhound trying to scent his prey. He gives us the man Molière wrote and cares not a whit what the world may think of him.  His French delivery is sharp and crystal-clear. Perhaps it's almost too clean at times, seeming a textbook exercise in perfect diction rather than human speech, but that's a minor flaw.  One can forgive anything, in fact, for the bravura theatricality of this production's final minutes.  The great Christopher Plummer appears on a giant screen as The Commander, reciting Baudelaire's "Don Juan aux Enfers." Michelle Galati's wraith-like demon leads Feore to hell in an angular dance choreographed by Donna Feore with equal measures of eroticism and horror.  And at the end, Sganarelle shouts to the heavens for his unpaid wages.  First humorously, then angrily and finally with Chaplinesque pathos.  He discovers, as his master learned before him, just what the wages of sin are and where they lead you.  A provocative and stylish end to this wildly uneven Stratford season.

Anne Lindsay - Lady Of Strings Past Rings

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist

(Oct. 17, 2006) The Toronto production of
Lord of the Rings closed sooner — years sooner — than its creators and investors had expected, but for violinist Anne Lindsay, the end came at just the right time.  "It was a fantastic experience, and I never felt so much like an athlete operating at peak performance than I did during those seven months," Lindsay said recently. She was on a break from sticking up posters along the Queen St. and College St. music strips, stamping postcards and emailing reminders publicizing the launch tomorrow of her second solo CD, the jazz-roots-flavoured News From Up the Street.  Lindsay and her band — guitarist Jason Fowler, bassist David Woodhead, drummer Al Cross and saxophonist Colleen Allen — perform at Lula Lounge tomorrow night. It's the violinist's first appearance in her own right since March, when she accepted the first violin chair with the Lord of the Rings orchestra. She took up two very difficult and ancient Nordic instruments, the Swedish nyckelharpa and the Finnish jouhikko, in order to interpret the ill-fated musical's elaborate score, written by Finland's foremost folk-fusion band, Värttinä, and Indian composer A.R. Rahman.  Lord of the Rings closed Sept. 3 and is being radically restructured for an opening in London's West End next year.  Lindsay, 49, doesn't have a bad thing to say about her time in the "hobbit hole" for the run of the doomed musical, which was excoriated by Toronto theatre critics, except to say she learned she's not cut out for such regular and repetitive work.  "I was playing music 48 hours a week with so many great players, and it was such a beautiful score," said Lindsay, who was schooled in classical violin, voice and composition at the Royal Conservatory and York.

Now one of Canada's most popular folk festival draws and one of Toronto's most in-demand session musicians, Lindsay is a regular member of the Jim Cuddy Band, a side project by the Blue Rodeo front man. She's also the long-time accompanist for Canadian tenor John McDermott and a player in TV's Canadian Idol band.  "Lord of the Rings was a huge growth experience for me, and financially very beneficial," she continued. "I had never played in a pit band before, and it was incredibly rewarding to be working so closely with the musicians in Värttinä. For the first time in years I got to use all my classical chops, every musical skill I'd ever developed. But it's hard for me to do the same thing eight times a week. I could never have survived if I hadn't trained two substitutes. I'm happy to be back in a constantly shifting musical landscape."  Shifting landscape indeed. Right after tomorrow's launch of News From Up the Street, Lindsay will join Cuddy's band for an extensive cross-country tour in support of his second solo CD, The Light That Guides You Home.  They'll be at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall Nov. 24 and 25.  The violinist also has her eye on European festival prospects in 2007, and there has been "vague talk" about the possibility of her playing those eccentric instruments in the London production of Lord of the Rings, or perhaps helping train a couple of British folk fiddlers in them.  "I'm not counting on it, but it would be nice to build on some of the musical relationships that happened during the Toronto run," said Lindsay, who added that she knew the show here was in difficulties during rehearsals, when huge sections of the score were being revised and rewritten on the spot, day after day.  She's working on incorporating the Scandinavian fiddles into her live act, when she goes on the road in the new year with guitarist Fowler in support of News From Up the Street.  In the meantime, Lindsay is helping the Mirvish organization find buyers for several surplus and very expensive nyckelharpas and jouhikkos the producers paid to have hand-built by Nordic instrument makers in the optimistic pre-opening months of Lord of the Rings.  "They need good homes," she said. "They're beautiful things, and they've hardly been touched."



Japan Dancers Wonderfully Restful

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Susan Walker, Dance Writer

(Oct. 18, 2006)
Sankai Juku doesn't just invoke a mood. The troupe's performances have the power to induce a state of mind and cast a spell over a packed auditorium.  Rattled urbanites attending Kagemi at the Hummingbird Centre last night went home a little looser at the neck and shoulders, breathing a little more gently and mentally carrying images of huge lotus blossoms suspended serenely in the air.  Artistic director Ushio Amagatsu and his six chalk-skinned dancers achieved something sublime with Kagemi (Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors). Amagatsu was the soloist, a conductor of the forces of nature, at times reminiscent of an underwater god bringing harmony to his domain. At other times he resembled a storyteller, conjuring up a scene with only the eloquent movements of his arms and hands.  He set the pace for the seven-part show, slowly carving the air with his arms, moving them sideways to suggest the gentle lapping of waves and standing on a circular platform beside a bed of maybe 50 or 60 giant lotus blossoms, their stems dangling to the floor. Six forms, three bunched up and three stretched out, lay beneath them. The flowers ascended on invisible strings to form a canopy, the individual blooms turning ever so slightly in the air.  The white-rice dust that covers the dancers head to toe tends to obliterate personality in the Sankai Juku ranks. From Semimaru, who has been with the company since its beginning in 1975, to Ichiro Hasegawa, who joined two years ago, we know them only by the shape of their skulls.  But in Kagemi, Amagatsu gives them a degree of individuality and, by allowing them to interact, nudges the dance towards a vision of a common humanity with tribal demarcations.

Raised arms and open hands made a constant motif. The fingers were outstretched, curled to form flower shapes or wiggling like antennae. Three bare-chested figures in loincloths and sashes moved up and down, in a forward kneeling movement. Three stood tall in long skirts that kissed the floor as they proceeded in formation. The gestures were like semaphore or hieroglyphics, repeated and reflected as the dancers faced each other. The image, the mirror and the reflection might all have been separate entities as they gathered, then parted and went their separate ways.  Occasionally a dancer opened his mouth wide, making the universal shape of the "a" sound, a round black hole in the middle of the face. It is as dramatic as Kagemi gets, yet it's moving.  The music ranged from a thundering percussive piece, done on big skin drums, to a slightly melancholy piano solo and a piece of Japanese music for a stringed instrument.  In a scene where four dancers emerge in long gowns that appear to be covered in volcanic ash, the music is a raging storm of heavy-metal rock. The dancers are suddenly touching, silently laughing and grinning as they fingerpaint each other in streaks of red or black across the cheek or forehead.  The final scene, in which six dancers reappear in creamy robes with ribbed overlays that look like the skeletons of fish, features more ritualistic movement. The dancers form a circle, opposition disappears and as they rise and fall in unison, they seem to be offering a promise of, or at least a wish for, peace.



Showbiz Beat Sid's Calling

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Martin Knelman

(Oct. 16, 2006) Two weeks before his death on Saturday at age 68,
Sid Adilman sent me a message. He told my wife, who was visiting him while he was sick, that the show Blue Man Group was going to be closing in January, years before its producers anticipated when they spent millions of dollars rebuilding the New Yorker Theatre for the show.  A day or two later, he asked her: "Did you tell Martin about Blue Man Group?"  She admitted she'd forgotten.  "Well, you have to tell him," he said. "It's really important."  Four years after he retired from the Star, even when he was so afflicted by kidney and heart ailments that some days he didn't have the energy to come downstairs or watch TV, Adilman was still a journalistic junkie hooked on the showbiz beat. For years he had written a column called "Eye on Entertainment," and right to the end he kept his eye focused on target.  Being an arts and entertainment journalist wasn't just a job or a beat. It was a mission and a calling that he fiercely hung on to even after fate and health had taken a toll.  When Sid said something was important and you should pay attention, it couldn't be ignored. For me, like a number of people in Sid's orbit, every fresh opinion or gossip bulletin about what was going on in Toronto theatre, or at the CBC, or Stratford, or the culture ministry was part of an ongoing dialogue conducted for almost four decades.  Sometimes people would ask what Sid Adilman was really like, and that was a hard question to answer. He was a skinny, scrappy guy with oversize glasses and a sceptical gaze.  He was kind, generous and loyal to people he cared about, but distant and inscrutable to those he didn't trust. He had an uncanny ability to cut through the hype of official statements and get to the question no one else asked.

He was not a religious man under the usual definition. He was Jewish in his attitudes and sensibilities but a firm agnostic whenever he detected a hint of theology. Yet when it came to issues he cared about he was ultra-orthodox — even a fundamentalist.  Adilman was a true believer in the importance of the arts in Canada.  His mission was to find out what was going on in the world of entertainment in this country and to share his information with his readers, creating a sense of excitement that was rare.  That was especially so in the early years of his career when "showbiz" and "Canada" were considered contradictions, and the arts were handled in the press as fluff.  "There were two completely different aspects of Sid's career," according to Peter Herrndorf, CEO of the National Arts Centre and former TV executive at both CBC and TVO.  "First he was a great reporter. He dominated arts and entertainment journalism for decades. He knew everyone who mattered and everything that was going on, and he had a remarkable instinct for digging out the biggest stories in the entertainment world.  "But at the same time he was also a great champion of emerging Canadian artists and he was more interested in them than famous Americans. He would be thrilled about discovering them, and then he would give them ongoing support in his column to help them become stars."  Though he gave Canadian artists a break by paying attention to them, Adilman never practised booster journalism. He had standards that were sometimes impossible for anyone to meet, and he could be very tough on players in the cultural community when he caught them trying to get away with sham. That meant he was often on the side of audiences rather than producers.  "Sid was a great sleuth who had Dominick Dunne" tendencies, filmmaker Barry Avrich remarked yesterday. Avrich, who made a documentary about the provocative Vanity Fair columnist, says both were enamoured with show business yet could be extremely biting about its key players.

As Citytv pioneer Moses Znaimer said when Adilman retired four years ago, Adilman was never one of those journalists who like to pretend they live in New York.  And in a way it was perfect that his best friend for more than 30 years was a celebrated woman best known for choosing Toronto over New York: Jane Jacobs, who lived across the street.  They were fiercely loyal to one another and, before her death earlier this year, they enjoyed going for walks together exploring various Toronto neighbourhoods when their mutually failing health permitted it.  The last time I saw him, at a dinner 10 days ago, Adilman told me that it was a cause of daily sorrow to him to watch workers renovate her house, which was recently sold. It was a painful reminder that Jane Jacobs did not live there any more.  The street where they lived will never be quite the same.

Oprah, Bono Shop To Fight AIDS

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Oct. 13, 2006) CHICAGO — Talk show host
Oprah Winfrey and humanitarian rocker Bono hit Chicago's "Magnificent Mile" on Thursday for a shopping spree to promote a new line of clothing, accessories and gadgets, including a special-edition iPod, that will raise money to fight AIDS in Africa.  Dozens of "(Product) Red" items will go on sale in the coming weeks by Gap Inc., Apple Computer Inc., Motorola Inc., Converse Inc. and Emporio Armani.  Portions of the product sales will go to The Global Fund, an organization that fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.  "Some people won't put on marching boots, so we've got to get to people where they are at and they're in the shopping malls," Bono said in a phone interview.  "Now you're buying jeans and T-shirts and you're paying for 10 women in Africa to get medication for their children with HIV."  The Gap, which will debut its Red line in stores Friday, will donate one-half the profits to The Global Fund.  Apple will contribute US$10 from the sale of each new red-coloured iPod nano. The model, priced the same as its $199 cousins, goes on sale Friday.  The celebrities, who arrived at the downtown Chicago Gap store in a red Ford Thunderbird, had a sneak peak at the products during a private shopping spree that will be broadcast Friday on Winfrey's show.

After visiting the Gap, the duo walked along Michigan Avenue to an Apple store and picked up the red iPod, the first music product from the Cupertino, Calif.-based company designed to raise money for charity.  The two also stopped at Armani and Motorola stores.  "Shop 'till it stops," said Bono as he walked out of the Apple store clutching bulging shopping bags.  So far, the (Product) Red initiative, which began this spring in Britain, has raised more than US$12 million for African AIDS programs, said Doug Piwinski, a spokesman for (Product) Red.  With Apple's iPod alone, The Global Fund stands to raise millions of dollars. During the holiday quarter in 2005, Apple sold 14 million iPods. The iPod maker also plans to donate some proceeds from a $25 iTunes Red gift card to the organization.  "I love the fact that Bono is trying to do something about this problem," Apple's CEO Steve Jobs said in a phone interview.  "I've never been to Africa but you don't have to go there to know there are a lot of people dying of AIDS there. In a small way, this is something we could do about it."  Bono, who knows the difficulties of raising awareness for social causes, was thrilled with the retailers' efforts for the campaign.  Gap had its four-storey store in Chicago decked out in red banners. Apple planned to light up its flagship 5th Avenue store in New York City in red on Thursday night.  "We've moved from the philanthropy budgets to the marketing budgets and guess what, there's no comparison in size," Bono said.  "We now have some of the most creative people in commerce — Steve Jobs, the marketing people at Gap and Motorola — all working for the world's poor. That is so so cool."

'Me'-dia Takeover

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Murray Whyte, A&E Reporter

(Oct. 14, 2006) In March of this year, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen took a short drive to La Costa, a posh resort just north of San Diego. PC Forum, a yearly meet-and-greet for the technology industry — money men, big-time executives, and basement-level start-ups, like Chen and Hurley's still-raw but rapidly blossoming project,
YouTube — was being held there, and the pair thought they had something to learn.  Sitting in the audience of a session called "Me Media," though, the tables quickly turned. As soon as it was discovered that the pair were in attendance, full attention swung to them. In moments, the session had changed course, from a ponderous exploration of the burgeoning phenomenon of do-it-yourself content creation to a giddy love-in on the new frontier they were pursuing — Me Media, certainly, but in full-fledged video. Cool!  That may have been the first clue they were on to something. Full affirmation came this week, in the form of a $1.65 billion (all figures U.S.) sale to Google (whose beginnings, for the record, were just as humble as YouTube's).  It took Google five years to launch a multi-billion dollar initial public offering. It took YouTube 18 months to get its slice. Time, it seems, is compressing in the online world, where it is now only a matter of time before a user-driven indie success story is co-opted by big business with an eye to harnessing their feel-good free expression for profit.  But whether things change for real at YouTube, and its corporatized predecessors, the mood among users has already changed for good.

YouTube represents the business world's 21st century Holy Grail: Turning online doodling into big money. It is, to be frank, not a lot more than that. On YouTube, users post videos of themselves doing anything and everything: ranting, loafing, goofing around. They post animated stories, video diaries, clips from old TV shows with no thematic guide or cohesion.  And this is the appeal. YouTube, like MySpace (bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. last year for the relative bargain-bin price of $580 million) and (valued, by some estimates, at over $1 billion), to name two, is unfiltered: They are enablers, not creators.  To the millions of users, that's meant empowerment: Your own cyberspace patch, in the case of MySpace or Facebook, to post your interests, aspirations, dreams, wit, creations and, more often than not, drunken party photos — and, of course, be connected to millions of users doing the same.  It's the full embrace of the promise the internet gave us at its origin: To democratize information flow.  That notion was romantic and pure, to be sure. As those drunken party photos — and videos — suggest, though, theory and fact are a little different. Duncan Watts, a sociologist at Columbia University in New York, sees the explosion of such sites as the virtual equivalent to loitering at the online mall.  Then again, high-minded notions aren't necessarily good business models. "Given the apparently timeless appeal to young people of just `hanging out,'" Watts told The New Yorker earlier this year, "that could be all the business model you need."  This is exactly what Google and News Corp. are banking on., with its 85 million users, represents a marketing bonanza for advertisers, for whom the young market has become a fast-moving target. Since 2004, MySpace has given youth a place to pause: a virtual parking lot in which to linger, chat, trade various coolnesses, and hook up.

Indie bands took to the site's audio capabilities. All their disparate fan bases followed, linking up in a fast-growing do-it-yourself community. The site quickly proved its clout in the culture industries: A handful of bands self-launched through the site and vaulted to commercial success without a record company to promote them (Britain's Arctic Monkeys are the best example).  It meant major labels set upon the site quickly, and it wasn't long before every band had a page (See Hollywood followed suit soon after. In the ultimate expression of uncool, many politicians now maintain MySpace profiles.  It's no secret why the culture industry juggernauts jumped on board. MySpace removes a lot of guesswork. The vast majority of MySpace's 85 million users are under 35, voracious cultural consumers and constant internet users. Industry parlance calls sites like MySpace and YouTube "cultural on-ramps" — an access point to a demographic that mistrusts corporate structures (Fox Interactive, which owns MySpace, reported 56 million unique visitors to the site last month). In effect, they become a corporate Trojan horse.  Needless to say, corporate entities respond enthusiastically to the opportunity. Entrepreneur's Journey, an internet business blog, summed up the advertising opportunity like so: "If you can `crack the cool' and get something popular within MySpace that also promotes your business, the publicity payoff could be monumental."  It is precisely that language that alienates the communities a business would seek to exploit. Thomas Frank, in his 1996 The Conquest of Cool, wrote of what he called "the titanic clash between hip and square" that first emerged in the counterculture of the 1960s. The ongoing battle, between authenticity and its co-option for marketing and profit-making, has been raging ever since.  When Murdoch bought MySpace last year, panic was widespread. YouTube got a small taste of the same last month when it was revealed that its lonelygirl15 series was not the authentic teen-angst video blog it appeared to be.

A long-running serial about a sweet, dorky — and very pretty — 16-year-old girl calling herself Bree who quickly became the most-subscribed to channel in YouTube's brief, 18-month history, it turned out Bree wasn't Bree at all, but a 19-year-old actress named Jessica Rose, whose lonely girl routine was a marketing plant by the high-powered Creative Artists' Agency in Hollywood. Lonelygirl15 is still running, successfully, but on its own site.  From a business perspective, Business Week columnist/blogger Jon Fine put it this way: "It's taken (YouTube) less than four months to start acting like an old-school network — using YouTube as a `promotion' while trying to squeeze as much monetization out of the traffic as possible."  Users reacted badly to the scandal. But it was a tremor compared to the coming shockwave. Within hours of Chad and Steve's elated video message broadcast on the channel they founded, video replies were flooding in. Some were congratulatory but a great many more were not.  One doomsayer, wearing a red devil's mask, warned that YouTube would "soon be dead as a community. Google is far too corporate." Another pair mocked Chad and Steve's own broadcast, mopping their brows with and blowing their noses into $20 bills.  But the longest, most thoughtful clip came from a user calling himself "frogboytim." "Statements about YouTube being owned by the community — that may have been somewhat true, up `til now. Don't you see how ludicrous it is to make that statement now?" he said. "You've got to wonder how long this community is going to hang together when it's riddled by ads."  It's a fair point. Users are fickle even without these concerns. For every MySpace and YouTube, there are two failures at the same venture, such as Friendster and Hi5. Some users have already been abandoning the increasingly corporate world of MySpace.

But it is the corporate presence that chafes the most to an independent community that is organically self-creating. The backlash was to be expected. This is, as Frank describes, hardly new.  But it is perhaps the grandest scale example of co-option of an independent, self-generating culture yet. Between juggernauts like MySpace and YouTube, users push well past the 100 million mark. With billions of dollars changing hands, the sense here is that much more is at stake: the last place on earth — or outside it — free of corporate priorities and profit motives.  "YouTube as GooTube is not independent media anymore," said one user, FSennheiser, in a lengthy animated text piece on the site. Of this there can be no doubt. But in cyberspace as in no other medium, though, the escape route is easy to find.  Things change quickly out there. Three years ago, Friendster was the dominant online networking site. Now it's a shadow of MySpace, fumbling along with most of its community gone.  YouTube started 18 months ago. In the wake of this week's sale, you can bet it won't take long for an independent-minded rival to start up. Chad and Steve might want to cash that cheque sooner rather than later.`Me'-dia


68 Get GG Awards Nod

Excerpt from The Toronto Star- Canadian Press

(Oct. 16, 2006) Authors
Trevor Cole and Bill Gaston are among the fiction nominees for the Governor General's Literary Awards.  Cole was nominated today for his book "The Fearsome Particles," while Gaston received the nod for "Gargoyles."  The field also includes Rawi Hage of Montreal, who was nominated for "De Niro's Game." Hage is also on the short list for the Giller Prize.  Others in the English-language fiction category are Paul Glennon for "Dodecahedron, or A Frame for Frames" and Peter Behrens for ``The Law of Dreams."  A total of 68 books have been nominated in various categories for this year's awards, and winners will be announced Nov. 21 at news conferences in Toronto and Montreal.  Each winner will receive $15,000.



Argos Holding Their Breath

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rick Matsumoto, Sports Reporter

(Oct. 16, 2006) The visual signs in their 28-25 win over Edmonton on Saturday were encouraging and the
Argonauts are now hoping the medical report on punter/placekicker Noel Prefontaine is equally favourable.  Argo president Keith Pelley said yesterday the injury to Prefontaine's right knee is "not as bad as anticipated."  "He was walking fine this morning," said Pelley. "He'll go and see (the team's head physician) Dr. (Anthony) Galea (today) and we'll see what the diagnosis is and then decide if he can play in Friday night's game (against he Saskatchewan Roughriders at the Rogers Centre.)"  Prefontaine, a left-footed kicker, already had a damaged right ankle going into Saturday afternoon's game and suffered what he described afterwards as a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee when he helped tackle Edmonton returner Tony Tompkins in the first quarter.  He later missed field goal attempts of 41 and 44 yards, normally well within his range, and Chris Hardy took over the kickoff duties in the second half.  Hardy would also step into the breach if the injury is worse than expected and Prefontaine is unable to play Friday against Saskatchewan.  The Argos moved into sole possession of first place in the East with the win over the Eskies and want to finish there.  "We have a legitimate shot at accomplishing that," said coach Mike Clemons. "That's what our goal is."

The Argos have a two-point lead on Montreal and are four up on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who defeated Hamilton 29-22 yesterday.  All three eastern contenders have two games remaining and there is a possibility the regular season could end up with each team having 20 points.  After Friday's game with the Riders, the Argos and Als meet in the final game of the regular season.  The Als, however, first play host to the Eskimos, who were eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in 35 years with the loss to the Argos on Saturday.  The Blue Bombers appear to have the toughest task in the bid for a first-place finish. They face the West Division-leading B.C. Lions and second-place Calgary Stampeders in their final two outings.  Argos defensive end Jonathon Brown said the importance of finishing first — and gaining a bye to the East final — can't be overstated.  "Then you're only 60 minutes from the Grey Cup," said Brown. "It's too early to be patting ourselves on the back."


Soccer Shorts: Bora To Jamaica?

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Oct. 16, 2006) KINGSTON, Jamaica — Veteran coach
Bora Milutinovic is close to taking over the Jamaican national team.  Crenston Boxhill, president of the Jamaica Football Federation, said he expects the Serbian-born Milutinovic to sign a coaching contract soon.  Milutinovic is the only man to coach five different teams at the World Cup, having led Mexico, Costa Rica, the United States, Nigeria and China.  Jamaica, which qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France, was eliminated in the qualifying stages for the 2002 and 2006 championships. Two weeks ago, it was knocked out in the qualifying round of the Digicel Caribbean Cup.  Carl Brown was named interim coach of the Reggae Boyz in August while a search began for a permanent replacement for Wendell Downswell, who stepped down in the midst of a winless streak.  Jamaica recently split a series with Canada, losing 1-0 in Montreal and winning 2-1 at home in Kingston.


Fit At Any Age!

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

Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.
-- Winston Churchill

(October 16, 2006) Yesterday I was glancing at the cover of several fitness magazines in a bookstore and couldn't help but notice that everyone on the covers was about 22 years old and a picture-perfect model. So, why don’t we see in-shape 50-year-olds? 60-year-olds? And even 70-year-olds?  Yes, they do exist.  The plethora of perfect models made me think about a group that doesn’t seem to get the attention they deserve.  The population I’m referring to is not only sedentary, but over the age of 60 or so. You know and I know that we don’t hear a lot about exercise programs for this population because we live in a youth-oriented society. You know and I know that it’s pretty silly -- but we’re sort of at the whim of what the media dictates.  I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to present a simple, quick and easy-to-perform exercise program for those that have never exercised and who consider themselves over "middle age."  This article may not be for you, but I’m sure there is someone in your life that can benefit from it.  I’m beginning with some basic tips and then presenting a quick workout program.


Definitely see your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.

·  Focus on slow and natural progression -- that’s the key to success.

·  Create balance by working the upper body, lower body, core and by also adding balance exercises.

·  Find a good trainer to help you modify your program so you learn new but safe movements.


I’m keeping this very simple and basic. However, I do want you to progress and learn new exercises that can help you to get stronger, increase endurance and become more flexible.

Wide Stance Wall Push (for chest, shoulders and triceps)

Starting Position:

Stand facing the wall with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Make sure that the wall is sturdy enough to support the motion.

·  Place your hands on the wall so your fingers are slightly higher than your shoulders.

·  Stand back from the wall 18-24 inches.


Bend your elbows out to the sides and lean your upper body toward the wall.

·  Make sure to project your chest forward with your arms supporting your body. Stop when your face and chest nearly touch the wall.

·  Contracting the chest muscles, slowly return to the starting position.

Key Points:

Inhale while lowering your body.

·  Exhale while returning to the starting position.

·  As you get stronger, move your feet farther away from the wall.

Dumbbell or Cans Reverse Lat Row (for the back)

Starting Position:

·  Sit on a bench with your feet close together.

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

·  Bend your upper body so it is parallel with the floor.


·  Contracting the mid to lower back muscles, draw both arms up toward your body and turn your wrists so that your palms are facing front. Keep your elbows tight against the body and stop when your arms are at chest level.

·  Slowly return to the starting position. Lower just short of full extension so the elbow joint does not lock into place.

Key Points:

·  Exhale while lifting the weight.

·  Inhale while returning to the starting position.

WALL SQUATS (for the legs)

Starting Position:

·  Stand up straight with feet shoulder-width apart and your back against a wall.

·  Place your hands on your hips or crossed over your chest.

·  Maintain a neutral spine and a slight bend in the knees throughout the exercise. Your feet should be approximately 24 inches away from the wall. This is to make sure you don’t bend your knees over your feet.


·  Lower your body by bending from your hips and knees, stopping when you feel a contraction in the quadriceps (front of the leg). Ideally, one should go as low as parallel, but I don’t want you to do that yet. For now perform a short range of movement that’s comfortable -- until you get used to the movement.

·  Contracting the quadriceps muscles, slowly return to the starting position.

Key Points:

·  Exhale while returning to the starting position.

·  Inhale while lowering your body.

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

·  Keep your head and chin slightly tiled up toward the ceiling, otherwise your head may tend to fall forward and your body will follow.

·  Think about sitting back in a chair as you are lowering down and keep the back straight against the wall.

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

Ab Crunch (for abdominal strength)

Starting Position:

·  Lie on a mat on your back. However, if getting on the floor is difficult for any reason, then perform it on your bed.

·  Make sure your lower back is relaxed against the mat during this exercise.

·  Bend your knees until your legs are at a 45-degree angle.

·  Keep both feet on the floor.

·  Place both hands crossed over your chest, or fingertips on the side of your head for support.


·  Contracting the upper abs, raise your head and upper torso off the floor until your shoulders are slightly lifted.

·  Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of your head touching the floor.

Key Points:

·  Exhale as you contract the abs.

·  Inhale while returning to the starting position.

·  Keep your eyes focused on the ceiling to avoid pulling with your neck.

·  Your hands should not be used to lift the head or assist in the movement.

Tight Rope Walk (for balance)

Starting Position and Movement:

·  Place a 12 to 15-foot string on the floor and simply attempt to walk it like it’s a tight rope. One foot in front of the other until you reach the end of the string and then return to the start.

Cat/Camel Stretch (for flexibility)

Starting Position:

·  Kneel on your hands and knees forming a tabletop with your back.

·  Find a neutral position for your spine and keep your head at a natural extension of your upper back.


·  Round your back by arching it up gently toward the ceiling. Your head should follow by moving downward.

·  Hold for 30 seconds, then move your navel toward the floor by letting your back sag down while raising your head.

·  Hold gently for 30 seconds and repeat for several repetitions.

·  You should feel a stretch throughout the torso.

Key Points:

·  Do not exaggerate the movements with your head. Keep your head in a neutral position with your spine.

Perform each movement for one set (one time) of 10-15 repetitions (except for the Cat/Camel Stretch). Try to do the routine on two to three alternate days of the week. After performing the exercises, go for a 15-minute walk for some cardiovascular fitness.

The focus above is on upper body and lower body strength, core conditioning and balance.

Again, this is a brief routine to get you started and it’s vital that all movements are performed with correct form. You can view the description and animation for these movements on eDiets fitness program under Virtual trainer.  Make your goal steady progress and soon you’ll feel stronger and more invigorated.


Motivational Note - Can You See it Yet?

By Willie Jolley,

How do you make your dream come true?  First, you have to know what your dreams are.  If I gave you a ball and told you to hit a ten- foot wall that was five feet in front of you, could you do it?  Of course, no problem!  But if I blindfolded you and took you five steps back and then twirled you around ten times would you still be able to hit the wall with ease?  No!  As it is difficult to hit what you cannot see, and it is impossible to hit what you don’t know!  That is why you must set goals.  The starting point for your goals are your dreams.  A goal is nothing more than a dream with a deadline.  What is your dream and what is your goal?