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Updated:  September 14, 2006

Well, you couldn't turn on the TV last week or this without witnessing the coverage of the affects of 9/11/01.  To the heros, the families that mourn, and even the misdirected terrorists - to all of us, I dedicate this week's edition to the ability to strive to appreciate each day - and to love each other with all our shortcomings.

Check out the PHOTO GALLERY for several pics during film festival activities, including
Planet Africa, the most popular of all film fest parties.  I attended First Friday's at Empire last week - a plethora of information in the community, as well as great entertainment.  Go to the PHOTO GALLERY for pics!  Many thanks to those involved for the invites.

Check out the details below on
Carlos Morgan aka Carll Parkes special fundraising concert coming up - get your tickets now! 




CD Fundraising Concert Featuring Carlos Morgan aka Carll Parkes - Sunday, September 24, 2006


With the new album, "
All Of Who I Am", Carlos Morgan aka Carll Parkes credits the help of several leading songwriters and producers in the music industry. Some of the songwriters and producers that worked with Morgan aka Parkes include Mischke Butler, Matthew Gerrard, Stephan Moccio and Perry Alexander. Other contributors include Jason Simmons, Joel Joseph of Nu Vintage, Colin Monroe of CDM Music and Ceasaro Grant of Agape 181. "All Of Who I Am" is a project of love and introspection, which is now culminating in its development through a series of fundraisers in support of the production, and completion of the album.  

To date, Morgan / Parkes has, for the most part, personally funded this creative and passionate project. At this point, Morgan / Parkes is appealing for financial assistance to bring "All Of Who I Am" to completion.

For More Information on CARLL PARKES / CARLOS MORGAN Please Visit:

The Trane Studio
964 Bathurst St.,
Doors open at 7pm, show 8pm
Door and advance tickets $10.00
To purchase tickets contact 416-509-3710
Media Contacts Please Contact: / (416) 604-5749

::top stories::

Whitney Houston Files for Divorce

By John Rogers, Associated Press Writer

(September 13, 2006) LOS ANGELES --
Whitney Houston has filed for divorce from her husband Bobby Brown, her publicist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.   Publicist Nancy Seltzer declined to reveal where or when Houston filed the divorce papers, and said the singer had no statement to make.   "I can just confirm that she has filed for divorce," Seltzer said.   Houston and Brown, who wed in 1992, have had a sometimes tumultuous marriage, and rumours of their break-up have surfaced often over the years.   The couple, who live in Alpharetta, Ga., have one child, a 13-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina.   Houston, 43, had her greatest musical success in the 1980s and `90s when she had several No. 1 records on Billboard's Hot 100 including the megahit "I Will Always Love You," from the 1992 film "The Bodyguard," in which she also starred opposite Kevin Costner.   Houston has not been as active in the last decade and has battled drug problems.   In recent years she's been an executive producer on the popular Raven-Symone films "The Cheetah Girls" and "The Cheetah Girls 2."   Her musician husband recently reunited with his old soul group New Edition for a show at July's Essence Musical Festival. The show got mixed reviews from the audience when Brown jumped suggestively around the stage and made vulgar remarks about his sex life with Houston.   Brown, 37, has had a history of drug and alcohol arrests and was sentenced to 90 days in jail in 2004 for missing three months of child support payments for two other children.   He was arrested in March on minor motor-vehicle violations dating back 14 years when he visited Webster, Mass., to watch one of his children take part in a cheerleading tournament.

Marion Jones Cleared Of Doping Charges

Excerpt from

(September 8, 2006) *Sprinter Marion Jones has the last laugh in her headline-making doping scandal, which she leaves in her dust after a second “B” sample tested negative for the banned blood-boosting drug EPO. The track star’s initial sample had tested positive for erythropoietin at the U.S. championships in Indianapolis in June. Had the second sample tested positive, the 30-year-old would have been banned from track-and-field for two years.   "I am absolutely ecstatic," Jones said in a statement released by her lawyers. "I have always maintained that I have never ever taken performance enhancing drugs and I am pleased that a scientific process has now demonstrated that fact." Jones’ first drug test came back dirty for EPO on June 23. She withdrew from a meet in Switzerland hours before the test results were revealed. The backup test, taken at the same UCLA lab and using the same sample, came back squeaky clean. Jones has now been completely cleared of any infractions. "I am anxious to get back on the track," Jones said.

Record Labels Fear Myspace May Soon Be Calling The Tunes

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Mathew Ingram

(Sept. 7, 2006) Although it has been around for less than three years, the on-line social networking service known as is already a giant, with more than 100 million registered users and Web traffic levels that are close to those of industry leaders like Yahoo and MSN. And now that it is owned by media conglomerate News Corp., which bought it for $580-million (U.S.) last year, it has deep pockets too. As with any such phenomenon (Google being the most obvious example), the nightmare scenario for many companies is what happens to their business -- and especially their profit margins -- when a giant like that decides to dip its toe into their market. Now it is the music industry's turn to feel the shivers, after an announcement last week that MySpace plans to enter the music business. The social network said it is launching a music store later this year, through which any of the estimated three million musicians who use MySpace will be able to sell their songs and CDs directly to their fans. According to Nielsen NetRatings, MySpace has about 50 million visitors a month in the U.S. Ironically, the site is partnering with a company called Snocap, a digital music service run by Shawn Fanning -- the same Shawn Fanning who created the Napster music-downloading service while still in university (the site later went bankrupt as a result of lawsuits from the music industry and was acquired and relaunched as a for-pay service). Much of the commentary on the MySpace announcement has centred on whether the new service will be a threat to iTunes, Apple's massively popular download service. But a better question might be how MySpace will affect the traditional recording industry, and the answer could potentially be unpleasant. The four major global record companies (Universal Music, Sony BMG, Warner Music and EMI) have been suffering over the past several years because of illegal file sharing and have only begun to recover some of that lost ground recently, thanks in part to arrangements with legal download services such as iTunes, Rhapsody and Napster.

The threat from MySpace is that artists could use the site's massive traffic and interactive features to build a following, and translate that into sales without ever dealing with a traditional record company. And if such an artist did wind up working with a label, he or she would likely be in a much stronger position than the typical struggling artist, which could eat into a label's profit margins. Already, there are several examples of groups that have used MySpace links and social networking tools such as tags and blog "widgets" to build their popularity. Music industry watchers say the debut album from The Arctic Monkeys was the biggest-selling record in British history in part because of the word of mouth that emerged from MySpace. In a sense, MySpace could bring a kind of direct sales model to the music business, in the same way that Dell disrupted the traditional retail computer industry. That kind of approach isn't going to lead to the demise of the traditional record companies, just as Dell didn't kill Hewlett-Packard or IBM. But it certainly cut into their sales and profits, to the point where IBM decided to get out of the business altogether and HP acquired Compaq. The labels aren't likely to want to get involved with MySpace's new music venture -- at least not right away -- because the site says it won't use any digital rights management or DRM (software tools that keep songs from being copied or shared, or restrict where and how often they can be played). However, at the same time, they have shown signs of wanting to explore new models: Universal and EMI recently announced deals to distribute ad-supported music for free through a service called SpiralFrog. Snocap and MySpace say their venture will take only a small fee for handling the payment for artists, and that any MySpace user will be able to incorporate a "virtual storefront" for their favourite group.

Music companies aren't the only ones that face the threat of disruption from MySpace. In a recent interview, the co-founders said they have their eye on the movie industry as well. The giant still has plenty of toes. 

Mathew Ingram writes analysis and commentary for

On Sept. 11, 2001, No One Felt Much Like Watching Movies At The Film Festival

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Sep. 11, 2006) It's remembered as the festival where Mick Jagger was supposed to come to promote a film he produced, didn't -- and nobody cared. It was the festival where less than 24 hours after the movie From Hell had its red-carpet premiere, its star Heather Graham was roaring like a bat out of that fiery locale in a rental car heading south. The festival where director-actor Tim Blake Nelson halted a press conference in mid-stream and refused to answer any more questions. It was when the cast of a film called Hotel felt it would be in bad taste to venture out in public and stayed in their hotel rooms, when high-powered agents and film executives found themselves trying to catch the Greyhound to Buffalo. We're talking, of course, about the Toronto International Film Festival and the events of
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, that occurred almost smack-dab in the middle of its 26th-annual incarnation. 9/11: The day the movies stopped; the day irony was supposed to end; the day gossip columnist Liz Smith proclaimed celebrity news and trivialities "would be driven underground." Officials at TIFF expect this year's Sept. 11 to be sunny and bustling. But, of course, that's what they were expecting precisely five years ago until just after 8:48 ET when the first of two jet airliners ploughed into the World Trade Center in Manhattan. The events on that Tuesday threw TIFF completely for a loop. As hundreds of U.S. media and film types tried to find buses, planes, trains and rented automobiles to get them out of Canada's largest city, blowing off interviews, parties and screenings in the process, TIFF organizers responded by cancelling red-carpet events, the Sunday awards brunch and its closing party. But by the next day, the screenings had resumed and the festival extended its run by one day, to Sept. 16, to accommodate rescheduled screenings. Proceedings at succeeding TIFFs have been decidedly calmer. The only formal acknowledgment of the fifth anniversary by the TIFF organization will be a statement in today's Festival Daily, asking festivalgoers to take a moment to reflect on the various disasters, man-made and natural, that have occurred post 9/11.

At the same time, Noah Cowan, the festival's co-director, acknowledges: "We had a couple of tough years" in the immediate wake of 9/11, especially in 2002 and 2003 "when we'd be asking ourselves, 'What do you program on that day?', and there was this talk of copycat attacks and then the SARS outbreak."  Named co-director in late 2003, Cowan says "there was a real sense that it [the pall of 9/11] was starting to ebb in 2004 . . . and last year kind of ended it as far as I was concerned. The anniversary for the first time fell on a Saturday, the heart of the weekend, and no entity had a problem screening its picture or celebrating that fact." Cowan was in Toronto in 2001 not as a representative of TIFF but as co-president of Cowboy Pictures, a New York-based distributor. Cowan remembers: "The first thought was, 'Are your people safe?' " and this included both his employees in lower Manhattan and his Toronto-based family. "Then it just became a matter of us trying to figure out what was going on." Unlike Cowan, Goran Paskaljevic never made it to Toronto on Sept. 11, 2001. The veteran Serbian director was supposed to be at TIFF that evening to attend the international premiere of his latest movie, How Harry Became a Tree, starring Colm Meany. He and Meany, in fact, were sitting in a VIP lounge at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris that morning, having flown in earlier from Belgrade to await the connecting flight to Toronto. "The TV was on CNN, but without any sound. I don't know why," he recalled recently from his home in Belgrade. "Anyhow, the first crash occurred and there were these pictures and one of the Americans in the lounge said, 'Oh, it's aliens attacking New York.' He was joking, of course, because it was totally unbelievable and he didn't really know what was happening." Unsurprisingly, their flight into North American airspace was grounded, and How Harry’s premiere cancelled. Meany made it to Toronto three days later, but Paskaljevic decided to return home.

Paskaljevic, 59, says he knew "immediately" that the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon "were terrorist acts. After all the wars I've been through in my country, you just know." Ironically, Paskaljevic's latest film, The Optimists, is set to have its world premiere at this year's TIFF on the evening of (yes) Sept. 11. He admits to "a little bit of anxiety" about that fact. "I'm just a little afraid they might try to do something nasty -- well, nasty's the wrong word, I suppose, but you know what I mean -- something nasty again, just to show how powerful and clever they are. "I hope it will be," he says with a laugh, "a more optimistic year. . . . If this time something happens, I'll catch Osama bin Laden myself!" Bruce Weber's film Chop Suey also was scheduled to be shown at the 2001 TIFF on Sept. 11. It was the photographer's third feature-length movie and the first he'd completed since his Oscar-nominated Chet Baker homage, Let's Get Lost. Now he's back in Toronto, having brought a new print of Let's Get Lost for a showing as part of the festival's Dialogues series yesterday. "I woke up early that morning of Sept. 11 and before I turned the morning news on, I said a prayer that the projector that was showing our film at noon would not break down," recalls Weber. "When I turned the news on, I could not have cared less about the projector and the screening of our film. . . . Our lives are so directed by our work, but in this case it was a lesson in what really matters: our friends, our neighbourhood and our animals." Canadian director/actor/screenwriter Don McKellar, who's starring in one of TIFF 2006's most anticipated films, Monkey Warfare, had caught a flight that morning to Ottawa, where he was set to co-star in the CBC-TV miniseries Trudeau. However, the plane was ordered to return to Toronto for what in-flight personnel described as 'technical reasons.'  "Then, as we were on the tarmac, someone's cellphone rang just up from me, and we learned some plane just hit the World Trade Center. At that point, this image of a little glider bouncing off the WTC came to mind." At the airport, McKellar made his way to a lounge where he "watched the towers collapse with a horrified batch of travellers." McKellar took a taxi to downtown Toronto where he managed to buy the last ticket on the train to Ottawa. "The car was filled already with stunned and crying New Yorkers."

Arriving in Ottawa, McKellar was amazed to discover that the Trudeau crew was still being allowed to shoot in the House of Commons. Occasionally, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien put in an appearance as he and his staff waited for a phone call from President George W. Bush before offering an official statement on the day's events. Of course, the Ottawa bureaucracy eventually put the kibosh on the Trudeau shoot, and McKellar returned to Toronto and "this weird, weird, devastated festival" that was serving as "a kind of giant refugee tent" for stranded foreign festivalgoers.  There is a certain appropriateness to marking 9/11 in Toronto, McKellar says. "It's probably the one place more than anywhere else, certainly more than Cannes, that has such a huge American media presence, and it's meeting this international contingent. Which means it's probably a good place for them to reflect on the gravitas of it, and it contributes to the one-world feeling that the festival is supposed to be about." He adds: "9/11, that was the day the films stopped, and it takes a lot to stop those Hollywood weasels." It was, he said, both a sobering and "bizarre realization that there's a world outside the film business."

Monica Gets Personal With New Album

Excerpt from

(September 12, 2006) *The three years between Monica’s last album “After the Storm” and her upcoming fourth studio LP were marked with a fair amount of pain, including the suicide of an ex-boyfriend, an emotional break-up and rumours of a pregnancy. The 26-year-old says her recent time away from music and the drama she’s had to overcome have made her a different person – one whose newfound strength and determination is expressed in her new album “The Makings of Me,” due in stores Oct. 3. "This album is very, very different from the other ones, because of me personally," Monica told MTV last week from the VMAs. "The first album, I was 13 years old. Now, at 26, the way I look at things, even relationships, I was really able to involve more of my life experiences in the album. …And that made for some crazy songs." The Atlanta-born singer also spent her time away from music in a brief relationship with Young Buck, according to MTV. Whose to say if he’s the subject of a leaked track on her new album entitled, “Sideline Ho,” which sports the lyrics: "It don't matter if he spends the night, his home's somewhere else/ If you don't make his breakfast, you's a sideline ho!"

"That song has been shutting down a lot of Internet sites," Monica told MTV. "Because I talk about when I was with someone back in the day who cheated on me in the most malicious, deceptive ways. And when I referred to the chick, I always referred to her as the 'sideline ho,' because she was too comfortable with her position." Other songs on “Makings” include the Jermaine Dupri-produced ballad "Get Away," which details Monica's 10-plus years in the industry; "Thanks for Tha Misery," written by Sean Garrett and the Missy Elliott-helmed "Dozen Roses" — slated to be the follow-up to her current single, "Everytime Tha Beat Drop." She calls the track, which samples Curtis Mayfield's "The Makings of You," her personal favourite on the album. "I think the honesty of the record is what will hopefully help people gravitate to it," she said. "I don't want to do anything contrived. I want people to know I've been through the same situations as them and that's why I share so many of my personal experiences. In the process, I've still been able to live my dreams, and I want people to see that side of it. "I look back over the past decade of my life," she added, "and I took everything — the good and the bad — and really made a musical diary."


Akon Gears Up To Release New CD In November

Source: Tynicka Battle, ThinkTank Marketing,,

(Sept. 12, 2006)   New York, NY - SRC/Universal artist
Akon is readying his much anticipated follow-up to his multi-platinum epic smash CD Trouble.   The new disc titled Konvicted is scheduled to hit stores on November 21.  The first single, "Smack That," from the album, features none other than hip hop icon, Eminem.   The video for the new song, considered by many to be one of the hottest releases of the fall, is helmed by revered video director Benny Boom.  Other guests on the new album include Snoop Dogg and Styles P. Akon scored unprecedented success in 2005 both here and abroad, with his multi-format smash hit single "Lonely," and its predecessor "Locked Up," becoming sizzling staples of urban, pop, digital and international radio formats across the globe. "Lonely" hovered at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart for 3 months, with the video becoming an MTV and BET classic, setting a record for 15 consecutive weeks at # 1 at the top rated video outlet The Box.  The Akon magic also exploded  across Europe with "Lonely" scoring a #1 in the UK, along with his album (as well as territories as diverse as Australia and Japan), with his single "Locked Up", locking down the Top 5  throughout the world, including France and the UK.   Akon rewarded fans this past November by releasing Trouble: Deluxe Edition, which contained his multi-platinum album Trouble, including a second bonus disc featuring never-before-released remixes. 

The talented singer/producer has also established himself as an in-demand production and writing wizard, most recently guesting on the much buzzed about appearance of India.Arie's first ever approved remix collaboration for her 2006 single, "I Am Not My Hair" and rapper Young Jeezy's hit "Soul Survivor," which Akon wrote. Other artists who sought after Akon's magic include Obie Trice, Baby Bash, Jesse McCartney, Brian McKnight and a special 2005 project with The Notorious B.I.G. 

The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Vibe, and other top music publications have all raved about Akon's incredible impact on the music scene ('Akon is a butter smooth outsider' praised Spin Magazine), with Akon garnering one of the most loyal fan bases in all of music, selling out shows in the U.S. and abroad, including Denmark, Spain, Germany, France, Japan, and the UK. The Senegalese born star is also working on a movie project loosely based on his own inspirational story, mirroring his rise from a troubled youth to a world-wide superstar. 

Road Hammers Pound Rivals At Country Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Chris Morris, Canadian Press

(Sept. 12, 2006) SAINT JOHN — The rocking country group Road Hammers pounded their competition as the
Canadian Country Music Association honoured its brightest stars at a gala awards show Monday night. Big hats, big hair and sequined jackets dominated as the stars of Canadian country music played to a packed house in Saint John, the first East Coast venue for the awards show in 20 years. “I know I'm in the Maritimes,” said singer Anne Murray, as she received a standing ovation in the Harbour Station arena. “Home at last.” Male artist of the year George Canyon accepts his award as female artist of the year Carolyn Dawn Johnson looks on at the Canadian Country Music Awards in Saint John on Monday. (Jacques Boissinot/CP) The Road Hammers' hard-driving mix of country, rock and blues earned its four members top group award for the second consecutive year. The group, fronted by Toronto resident Jason McCoy, also won video of the year. The wins are icing on the cake for the Hammers, who collected a Juno in April for country recording of the year.

The annual awards ceremony started off with a bang as the Road Hammers performed their current single Girl on the Billboard. Performances by Nova Scotia's George Canyon and Alberta's Carolyn Dawn Johnson were followed by their wins for male and female artist of the year, with Canyon also picking up the single-of-the-year award for Somebody Wrote Love. “First off, I'd like to give a big thanks to the Lord, Jesus Christ, for everything He has given me,” the lanky Canyon said as he accepted the award for song of the year. For Canyon, 35, it was a continuation of the enormous success he has enjoyed since he catapulted to fame almost three years ago as runner-up on the American country talent show, Nashville Star. Prior to his discovery on the Idol-type show, Canyon struggled for 14 years for recognition. Last year at the Canadian Country Music Awards, Canyon stole the show with four big wins, including the coveted fan's choice as top entertainer. This year, the Kraft Cheez Whiz Fans' Choice Award, voted on by fans from coast to coast, was won by Montreal-born Terri Clark, who grew up in Medicine Hat, Alta. Clark, a singer and songwriter known both for her soft ballads and rocking country tunes, set a record by winning the award for the sixth time. Murray didn't perform, but she gave a touching tribute to her manager Bruce Allen, who was given an international achievement award, and to record producer Brian Ahern, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Ahern, who was raised in Halifax, went on to produce albums for a number of artists, including his former wife Emmylou Harris and Murray. Albertan Corb Lund and his band performed the title track from Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer, which was named album of the year. Lund also won roots artist of the year. This year's Chevy Trucks Rising Star of the Year winner, Johnny Reid, walked away not only with the award but also a 2007 truck, courtesy of the presenting sponsor. Reid also won two major independent artist awards, including top male artist and best song, Missing an Angel. Reid, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but moved to Brampton, Ont., when he was a teenager, thanked Canada for letting him live his dream. “I am humbled by this country I came to, seeking opportunity,” Reid said, thanking his wife and his “wee” boys at home. The two-hour show, broadcast on CBC, featured a whirlwind of live performances by an all-Canadian cast of performers. No big-name U.S. groups were available for the show because of 9/11 commemorative events in the United States. The show will be aired on country networks in the United States and Australia. Regina will play host to the awards show next year.

Mariah Wins Big At Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards

Excerpt from - Gail Mitchell, Atlanta

(September 09, 2006) Mariah Carey was the big winner at the
2006 Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, held last night (Sept. 8) in Atlanta. Carey won top R&B/hip-hop artist in both the overall and female categories, as well as hot R&B/hip-hop songs artist, top R&B/hip-hop albums artist and top R&B/hip-hop album for her multi-platinum set "The Emancipation of Mimi."  Kanye West took home top rap album for "Late Registration" and also won hot rap track for "Gold Digger" featuring Jamie Foxx. Foxx himself took home top R&B/hip-hop artist -- male, while Young Jeezy won top R&B/hip-hop artist -- New.  In addition to winning top R&B/hip-hop songwriter and top R&B/hip-hop producer, Jermaine Dupri was named the first recipient of the Otis Redding Excellence Award for his achievements both in and outside the studio. The award was launched this year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Redding’s death.  Public Enemy received the 2006 Hip-Hop Founders Award in recognition of their long-standing influence throughout hip-hop.

Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album: Mariah Carey, "The Emancipation Of Mimi" (Island/IDJMG)
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Song: Mary J. Blige, "Be Without You" (Geffen/Interscope)
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist: Mariah Carey (Island/IDJMG)
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist - Male: Jamie Foxx (J/RMG)
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist - Female: Mariah Carey (Island/IDJMG)
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist - Duo Or Group: Destiny's Child (Columbia/Sony Music)
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist - New: Young Jeezy (Corporate Thugz/Def Jam/IDJMG)
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Artist: Mariah Carey (Island/IDJMG)
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Artist: Mariah Carey (Island/IDJMG)
Top RAP Album: Kanye West, "Late Registration" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam/IDJMG)
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Sales: Pussycat Dolls feat. Busta Rhymes "Don't Cha" (A&M/Interscope)
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Airplay: Mary J. Blige, "Be Without You" (Geffen/Interscope)
Hot RAP Track: Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx "Gold Digger" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam/IDJMG)
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songwriter: Jermaine Dupri
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Producer: Jermaine Dupri
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Major Label: Island Def Jam Music Group
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Independent Label: TVT

Chi-Lites' Marshall Thompson: Chi-Lites Live And Live On

Excerpt from - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(September 13, 2006) *R&B Hall of Famers, the
Chi-Lites may have been the highlights of early 70s soul with hits like “Oh Girl” and “Have You Seen Her,” but the group, particularly member Marshall Thompson have not rested on their laurels.    However, while in the midst of old school tours throughout the world, the group has just released the “Chi-Lites Live” DVD. The disc features some of their latest tour stops and the last performance of bandmate Eugene Record, who died July 2005.  “We’ve been running like crazy,” Marshall said of the group. “We’re doing these tours, and now we’ve got the new DVD. It’s really a life story of us and concerts we did all over the country.”  The disc features performances in England, Canada, and California. It’s currently available on the official Chi-Lites website,  The group, named for their hometown of Chicago, had their origins in the Chanteurs, which formed in 1959. In 1960, they added members and changed the name to Hi-Lites, settling on the final incarnation of the group name in 1964, and were made up of the five-man crew of Thompson, Record, Creadel "Red" Jones, Robert Lester, and Clarence Johnson. The Chi-Lites roster shifted several times between their hits of the 70s. The 90s brought the old-school tour circuit, which teamed the Chi-Lites with other phenomenal groups and artists such as the Whispers, the Dells, the Manhattans, and the Stylistics.  The year 2000 brought the legendary group to another great milestone, when the Chi-Lites were inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame. Marshall said that looking back, that was an important moment for him and the group, especially fellow bandmate and lead singer Eugene Record:

“We were coming into the R&B Hall of Fame; we were very pleased and glad to have him still at that time to perform that with us.”    Thompson continued that upon their induction, some other good fortunes came their way – the excitement of sampling.  “We were very blessed to have the youngsters do our music, like Beyonce, Fantasia, and Paul Wall. I was glad to see the [acceptance] of all the people and see all those youngsters jump on our music. They were doing James Brown and Parliament Funkadelic for a while, and now they’ve jumped to the Chi-Lites and everything’s turning gold and platinum.”  As a matter of fact, the Chi-Lites' Record shared a Grammy with Beyonce when she used a sample of his pen work of "Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)" for her song "Crazy In Love."  Although the group is currently recording on Thompson’s record label Marance Records, according to their website, Thompson says they are really beginning to focus on tracks for younger artists.   “Basically what I’m doing, what each one of us is doing, is solo projects with young artists,” Thompson explained. “We’re not too interested in doing records again just as the Chi-Lites. We feel it’s the youngster’s time. We just get on the bandwagon with them and do the hooks, and it works.”  For more on the Chi-Lites, check out their official website at

Tupac: The Life, The Legend Still Loom Large 10 Years On

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press

(Sept. 13, 2006) NEW YORK — In the years since hip hop lost its most dynamic figure, several superstars have embodied the qualities that made
Tupac Shakur such a legend. 50 Cent's vicious raps and bullet-scarred body recall Shakur's reckless, dangerous side. Eminem's tortured lyrics remind us of Shakur's dark and depressing images of life. Jay-Z's many hits are reminiscent of Shakur's prolific output. But 10 years after Shakur died on Sept. 13, 1996, the victim of a drive-by shooting, no rapper is as complex, as multifaceted, as challenging. A handsome and charismatic actor, a violent felon, a brilliant songwriter, a reckless celebrity, a misogynist and a visionary -- Shakur still fascinates from the grave. "I want to be in the future known as somebody," Shakur once said. "I want people to be talking about me, like, 'Remember when he was real bad?' " They're still talking.  "His messages were really strong and heartfelt, and he was a real person," Kanye West told The Associated Press. "There was no box that he was put in, and he lived and died by what he said." Though just 25 when an assailant sprayed his car with bullets as he rode shotgun down a Las Vegas street, Shakur has been the subject of numerous books, while film and stage productions have explored his colourful life and college courses have dissected his songs. But why? Though some have anointed Shakur as the greatest rapper ever, largely because of his passion that could stir even casual listeners, the assessment is hardly universal. Others would give that title to The Notorious B.I.G., Shakur's foil who was killed months after Shakur. Others say Jay-Z reigns supreme. As an actor in films like Juice and Poetic Justice, it was clear Shakur was an explosive, raw talent -- but one that needed refinement. And his personal life exposed perhaps his most troubling personal traits: In 1994, he was convicted of sexual assault, and though he espoused black empowerment, he spent the last months of his life inciting a rap war through hateful rhymes.

Yet Shakur's fallibility may ultimately explain why he remains so beloved. Tupac Amaru Shakur was born to former Black Panther Afeni Shakur in 1971. His father wasn't around. Afeni was pregnant and incarcerated while she and other Panthers faced conspiracy charges that were later dismissed. His mother's revolutionary qualities infused many of Shakur's raps, such as the angry Souljah's Revenge or Words of Wisdom. But Shakur's lyrics also reflect his unstable childhood: His mother battled drug addiction and he and his sister lived in poverty. That pain, frustration, anger and bewilderment became the inspiration for some of his most poignant, searing songs. Though he attended a school for talented teens while living in Baltimore, by the time he reached the California Bay Area, he was dabbling in street life. Soon, his rap talent would lead him into another world that would prove just as turbulent. As Shakur said after one arrest, "[I had] no police record until I made a record." With each platinum album, trouble found him anew. He was criticized by national figures such as C. Dolores Tucker and former vice-president Dan Quayle and involved in a gunfight with off-duty police officers in Atlanta. Even as his pro-woman anthem Keep Ya Head Up scaled the charts, he was accused of leading a group in sexually assaulting a young woman in a hotel. While on trial for those charges, he survived a shooting at a recording studio where Biggie Smalls and Sean (Diddy) Combs were present. Shakur was convicted of some charges at his sexual-assault trial, and spent several months in a maximum-security prison before the fearsome Suge Knight got him out on bail pending an appeal and signed him to his Death Row label. In the last year of his life, Shakur was at his most popular and sensational -- and his most reckless. He ignited the so-called East Coast-West Coast war, claiming that Biggie and Diddy were responsible for his shooting (which they denied). On the last night of his life, Shakur, Knight and their entourage delivered a violent beating to a rival gang member in a Las Vegas casino. Hours later, while riding in the passenger seat of Knight's BMW, Shakur was riddled with bullets. Police arrested and questioned the gang member who was stomped in the casino, but no charges have ever been filed. While other dead celebrities are celebrated as nostalgia acts for what they once represented, Shakur remains a vital presence in today's rap world. Perhaps that's because of the volume of material he left behind. So many albums of previously unreleased songs have been issued since his death, a few people are convinced that he's still alive. However, it may be the words of Shakur -- often overshadowed by the controversy that dogged him -- where his brilliance is most notable. Rather than becoming dated, songs such as So Many Tears and Changes still speak to the despair and pain that remain very real in urban America.

Survival Of The Harmonious

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Drake Bennett, The Boston Globe

(Sep. 9, 2006) If you have spent any time near a radio during the past couple months, you've probably heard a song called "Crazy," an oddball R&B ballad about insanity. The track, a collaboration between singer Cee-Lo and producer Danger Mouse, is absurdly catchy. It seems safe to call it the song of the summer.  Of course, crooning along or tapping our feet to its loping bass line, it may not occur to most of us to ask why "Crazy" — or any song for that matter — can so easily insinuate itself into our consciousness. It just sounds good, the way our favourite foods taste good.  But a growing number of neuroscientists and psychologists are starting to ask exactly that. Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute, for example, have scanned musicians' brains and found the "chills" they feel listening to stirring passages of music result from activity in the same parts of the brain stimulated by food and sex.  As evidence mounts that we're somehow hard-wired to be musical, some thinkers are turning their attention to the next logical question: How did that come to be? And as the McGill University neuroscientist Daniel Levitin writes in his just-published book,
This is Your Brain on Music, "To ask a question about a basic, omnipresent human ability is to implicitly ask questions about evolution."  The fact that music is universal across cultures and has been part of human life for a very long time — archaeologists have found musical instruments dating from 34,000 BC, and some believe that a 50,000-year-old hollowed-out bear bone from a Neanderthal campsite is an early flute — does suggest that it may indeed be an innate human tendency. And yet it's unclear what purpose it serves.  The evolutionary benefits of our affinity for food (nutrition) and sex (procreation) are easy enough to explain, but music is trickier. It has become one of the great puzzles in the field of evolutionary psychology, a controversial discipline dedicated to determining the adaptive roots of aspects of modern behaviour, from child-rearing to religion.

Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that music originated as a way for males to impress and attract females. Others see its roots in the relationship between mother and child. In a third hypothesis, music was a social adhesive, helping to forge common identity.  And a few leading evolutionary psychologists argue that music has no adaptive purpose at all, but simply manages, as the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker has written, to "tickle the sensitive spots" in areas of the brain that evolved for other purposes. In his 1997 book How the Mind Works, Pinker dubbed music "auditory cheesecake," a phrase that has served as a challenge to the musicologists, psychologists, and neuroscientists who believe otherwise.  The first thinker to try to find a place for music in the Darwinian order was Charles Darwin. In his 1871 book The Descent of Man, he argued, "musical notes and rhythm were first acquired by the male or female progenitors of mankind for the sake of charming the opposite sex." Darwin's model was bird song. In many bird species, males sing to impress females. Depending on the species, females will tend toward the males with the broadest repertoire or the most complex or unique songs.  The foremost defender of that model is Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico. Miller argues that in prehistoric communities, singing and dancing might have worked — as they do today in some Native American cultures — as proxies for hunting and warfare. The ability to come up with melodies and rhythms would connote intelligence and creativity, and the long, arduous dances would be proof of one's endurance — the sort of traits a choosy female would like to see in her offspring.  Even today, Miller argues, music retains some of its old procreative roots. Looking at 6,000 recent jazz, rock, and classical albums, Miller found that 90 per cent were produced by men, and that those male musicians tended to reach their peak musical production around age 30, which he notes, is also the peak of male sexual activity.

Miller points in particular to the example of Jimi Hendrix. Miller has written that, despite dying at 27, Hendrix had "sexual liaisons with hundreds of groupies, maintained parallel long-term relationships with at least two women, and fathered at least three children in the United States, Germany, and Sweden. Under ancestral conditions before birth control, he would have fathered many more." To Miller, it was Hendrix's status as a music-maker rather than his fame or charisma that gave him this sexual allure.  Levitin sees some merit in the sexual selection model, but he cautions against seeking support for it in contemporary music. It's important to keep in mind, he argues, that "we're not talking about someone on the subway listening to an iPod or even someone in a concert hall listening to Mahler." The environment in which music would have evolved would have been much more participatory. Even today, he argues, the Western idea of the concert, which separates performer from audience and music from movement, is an anomaly. In many of the world's languages, Levitin points out, "there's one word for music and dance."  Others who study the issue are more sceptical. David Huron, a musicologist at Ohio State University, argues the Darwin model would lead one to expect a differential in musical abilities between the sexes. Typically, he points out, sexual selection leads to "dimorphism," a divergence in traits between male and female. "It's only the peacock, not the peahen, that has the plumage," he notes.  "There's no evidence whatsoever that men are more sophisticated than women in terms of the ability to serenade someone from beneath a balcony," he says. Steven Mithen, an archeologist at England's Reading University, agrees. In his book The Singing Neanderthals, he writes that the male dominance Miller sees in the modern recording industry is hardly proof of a difference in innate ability or proclivity. Sexism would explain it just as well.  Indeed, if an alternate explanation is correct, it is women who were the original music-makers. One of the most universal musical forms is the lullaby. "Mothers everywhere soothe infants by using their voice," says Sandra Trehub, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, "There isn't a culture in which that doesn't happen."  Trehub speculates that music may have evolved as a baby-calming tool in hunter-gatherer societies. Unlike other primate species, human babies can't simply cling to their mothers' backs, and singing may have been a way for mothers to maintain contact with their children when they had to put them down to do other tasks.

Perhaps the most widely touted explanation, though, is that music arose as a way for groups of early humans to create a sense of community. Among other things, this might explain why music — whether it's singing hymns, school fight songs, or simply "Happy Birthday" — is so often a social experience. The model is neither love song nor lullaby but anthem.  In The Singing Neanderthal, Mithen argues that communal music-making works as a sort of rehearsal for the teamwork required for more high-stakes endeavours like hunting and communal defence. And the mere act of singing and moving in time together helps forge a sense of group identity.  There is suggestive research linking music and sociability. Daniel Levitin, for instance, points to two mental disorders, Williams syndrome and autism. People with Williams are mentally retarded but, as Levitin puts it, "highly social, highly verbal, and highly musical." Autism, on the other hand, often causes mental impairment but tends to make people less social and less musical.  To Pinker, though, none of this adds up to a convincing case for music's evolutionary purpose. He is not shy about seeing the traces of evolution in modern man — in How the Mind Works he devoted a chapter to arguing that emotions were adaptations — but stands by his "auditory cheesecake" description.  "They're completely bogus explanations, because they assume what they set out to prove: that hearing plinking sounds brings the group together, or that music relieves tension," he says. "But they don't explain why. They assume as big a mystery as they solve." Music may well be innate, but that could just as easily mean it evolved as a useless by-product of language, which he sees as an actual adaptation.  And Pinker isn't the only sceptic. Back in April, as part of an experiment led by Levitin to compare the physiological response of performers and listeners, Boston Pops maestro Keith Lockhart conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra while he, a few musicians, and a portion of the audience were wired with monitors that tracked their heart rate, muscle tension, respiration, and other bodily signals of emotion.  Yet though Lockhart was happy to make himself Levitin's guinea pig, he confesses to be ultimately uninterested in the origins of music. "It's enough for me to know that music does have a distinct emotional reaction in almost everybody that no other art form can boast of," he says. "I've never particularly wanted to know why."

Despite A Cool, Sparse Start, Clear Skies And Bands Like The Dears Warm Up V Fest

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ben Rayner And Vit Wagner, Pop Music Critics

(Sep. 11, 2006) Weather trumps everything at outdoor rock extravaganzas. And the weekend-long
Virgin Festival on Olympic and Centre islands proved no exception.  Glitches are to be expected at any mammoth undertaking of this kind, particularly one being held for the first time. The Virgin Festival, transplanted from the U.K., had its share of unexpected misfortune, beginning when Sunday headliner Massive Attack pulled out two days before the music started.  The Flaming Lips, Saturday's closer, didn't emerge unscathed either. The popular Oklahoma City psychedelic rockers were forced by curfew to play an abbreviated set.  Ultimately, though, the weather was the most decisive factor. During a dreary, cool Saturday, the event seemed blasé at best. On Sunday, with clear skies and comfortable temperatures, it was an entirely different affair, with audiences filling the lawns at both venues much earlier in the day, their enthusiasm instilling a more positive vibe.  The following is a running diary of observations:


1:03 p.m. Toronto's Ohbijou, the mainstage opener, takes the stage 18 minutes later than scheduled. The jubilant orchestral pop band, whose eight members equal about a third of the audience at the start of its set, seems unfazed.

1:30 p.m. An even smaller crowd gathers for a throbbing dose of heavily electronic rock by Plaster at the Future Shop Stage.

2:15 p.m. Halifax's Wintersleep wakes up the second stage with hard-driving, minimalist rock.

3:09 p.m. While melancholic English singer-songwriter David Ford performs a repertoire that includes "Cheer up you Miserable F--k," the special viewing area for fans who bought their tickets at Future Shop has an audience of one. Maybe 40 times that many people occupy the regular viewing area.

3:35 p.m. On the islands, the first glimmers of a real sense of occasion start to take shape when Paris outfit Phoenix performs "Napoleon Says," "Consolation Prizes" and other hooky songs from its current disc for a growing and vocal audience.

4:10 p.m. Beat-influenced rhymer Buck 65 proves he can rub his stomach and pat his head, while tossing out "Bandits" and other wicked and weird narratives.

4:58 p.m. Before performing "Lollipop" from its current CD, AWOO, the Hidden Cameras, Toronto's purveyors of "gay church folk music," toss lollipops into the crowd. "Is everybody extra cold and miserable?" front man Joel Gibb asks the 3,000 or 4,000 hardy souls.

6:30 p.m. There is finally a sense of cohesion as The Dears draw a huge following to the mainstage. The benefits of a summer on the European festival circuit are evident with The Dears sounding bigger, rougher and more widescreen than ever, and V Fest's organizers have evidently not skimped on the sound. Helps to have a cat like Murray Lightburn on the mic, since he's the rare indie-rocker not too cool to sing his guts out on stage. The sun appears in appreciation.

8:30 p.m. Wow, there are only a few hundred people at the barren Future Shop stage for Eagles of Death Metal, although apparently the tongue-in-cheek rawk 'n' rollers have outdrawn Starsailor in droves.

9:15 p.m. Either Cee-Lo Green really was as hammered as he claimed when Gnarls Barkley pulled into Kool Haus earlier this summer or the band was coyly holding back for its looming festival gig, because this iconoclastically epic set of sampledelic future-soul, tripped-out hip-hop and electro-shocked rock ditties was about 10 times better.

9:30 p.m. The burnished production on the last two Alexisonfire albums might have helped the St. Catharines outfit sell tens of thousands of records amongst Edge 102.1 listeners, but these kids are still best experienced live. Adding to the ferocity of Saturday night's set might have been the fleeting near-death experience of co-front men Dallas Green and George Pettit, and guitarist-vocalist Wade MacNeil on their crossing to Centre Island. Apparently, the water taxi they were travelling on sank midway, up to their waists, leaving the lads sodden but still determined to play in front of the 3,000 or so devoted fans.

10:10 p.m. Day 1 headliners the Flaming Lips are nowhere in sight, but there's no complaining from the several thousand "head music" fans grooving to Montreal turntablist supreme Kid Koala at the mainstage.


1:02 p.m. When Diableros kick things off on the mainstage, the audience is only slightly larger than it was for Ohbijou a day earlier, but the Toronto rockers have no trouble energizing the early arrivals with songs from their no-nonsense debut, You Can't Break the Strings in our Olympic Hearts.

1:55 p.m. Less than an hour later, the mainstage crowd has already swelled substantially. The scheduled act, Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco, has been bumped to a later time slot at the Future Shop stage. No matter, Montreal's DJ Champion and his G-Strings take full advantage, instantly instilling a party atmosphere with their heavy, jamming, groove-based rock.

4:10 p.m. By now, the mainstage lawns seem as full as they were at any point on Saturday with a sizable audience also at the second stage. Wolfmother does not disappoint. Worthy heirs to AC/DC, the young Aussies hammer out elongated versions of "Dimension" and "Apple Tree."

4:15 p.m. Swedish singer/songwriter Jose Gonzalez quietly mesmerizes a couple of hundred devotees old and new sprawled in the sunshine around the second stage with nothing more than his acoustic guitar, his affecting voice and resonant, Mark Kozelek-ish tunes.

7:50 p.m. The Strokes amble onto the mainstage 20 minutes late with a duplicate set list from their Ricoh Coliseum gig earlier this year, so it seems an appropriate time to check out rumours of a happy ending to the Lupe Fiasco (he was held up at the U.S.-Canada border earlier in the afternoon). There are scarcely 150 curious hip-hop heads waiting for the American rapper's first ever Toronto appearance. Lupe is clearly not pleased to be facing perhaps the lamest crowd in hip-hop history and, with nothing but dismal returns in the call-and-response department, abandons audience participation about 10 minutes in.

9:15 p.m. Jack White, Brendan Benson and the Greenhornes' rhythm section appear to be amusing themselves a great deal onstage as the Raconteurs, but the endless musical wankery and the fact that Benson can't hold a candle to madman White in the vocal or guitar-playing department serves up a lot of jammy dud spaces that the White Stripes would never allow.

10 p.m. They didn't get the 90 minutes they'd been expecting, but hometown indie heroes Broken Social Scene cover V Fest's Massive Attack snafu nicely by reprising their epic Olympic Island set from this past June with the full complement of BSS friends, lovers and associates for what front man Kevin Drew hinted could be the last time for awhile. We love Broken, but the mob's second appearance in the same spot it headlined mere months ago seemed a bit of a cop-out on V Fest's part since Massive Attack haven't been here in eight years. The thinning crowd spoke volumes. Many people had enough of a festival that aimed for the middle and didn't quite hit it.

Just Like Candi: Soul Legend Releases The Ultimate Gospel Collection

Excerpt from

(September 7, 2006) It's just like
Candi Staton to exceed expectations.  That is exactly what she does with The Ultimate Gospel Collection (released on Shanachie Records August 15) delivering something old, something new, something borrowed and something oh so blue.     It's a 25 year ode to struggle and progress (2 discs) of traditional and contemporary gospel hits from the woman who "has a tear in her voice" no matter what she sings.   It's music for people who've known life on the rough side of the mountain, and at its peak, i.e. grown folks music on the gospel tip. Staton mastered the art of  soul singing  3 decades ago with her first heartfelt mm-hmm, her signature hum that comes from the many burdens she has born in her life--which involves bad public break-ups and rejection from the church for her out of the box style.   Whether a love affair or innocent flirtation her relationship with both gospel, blues and soul music genres has overlapped over the years making her preference at times hard to pinpoint.  However, if you love music that's meaningful and raw, this musically uninhibited collection will set your soul free. “Let’s just face it,” Candi says, “I was ahead of my time.  They almost tried to run me out of the church with those contemporary albums back in the 1980s. Those songs seem tame now but at the time they were scandalous just because of the instruments we used and urban styling of the songs. There was no Kirk Franklin and BeBe & CeCe Winans at that time, so I really helped blaze that trail for contemporary music in the black church.”

A synopsis of the project:  The opening track, “When There’s Nothing Left But God” uses gut-bucket blues as its musical template even as it delivers a spiritual message. “Shut Up And Stop Praying,” which features Dottie Peoples, addresses church-goers’ hypocrisy while “Mama,” one of Candi’s most popular songs, is a heartfelt tribute to her mother who died before Candi made the switch from secular to gospel, something that would have pleased her devout mother. Interestingly, “Mama” was well-received by country music fans, highlighting Candi’s ability to appeal across racial or sectarian lines. Her 1983 hit “Sin Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” found favour in charismatic and evangelical circles while “To Glorify Your Name” was popular with white church-goers.  “I Will Praise” is a Yiddish-inflected dance tune inspired by Candi’s visits to worship at synagogues.   The “contemporary/praise party” disc highlights Candi’s dance-oriented gospel recordings and other contemporary styles she helped pioneer. “Dance Dance Dance,” a fan favourite and frequent concert closer from 1994, illustrates the style she dubbed “gospco”, a fusion of gospel and disco. An originator, Candi had been putting funk bass lines in her music since the early Eighties, much to the dismay of traditional gospel audiences. Another notable track on the contemporary CD is the original 1986 version of “You Got The Love,” a song that has been a UK chart hit no less than three times in various re-mixed versions. One version was featured in the final episode of Sex In The City. The original version is included here for the first time on CD. Other highlights include the contemporary jazz-flavoured “When I See The Blood” which equates the shielding blood of Jewish Passover with the redemptive blood of the Crucifixion, as well as three brand new tracks, including a new dance-oriented mix of her 2002 gospel radio hit “Hallelujah Anyway.”  Look forward to our track-by-track analysis of the knockout project in the next Gospel EUR report.

D Haddy's Got A Message For You

Excerpt from - By Mona Austin /

(September 7, 2006)  It is not often that a song emerges to massage the aches in the spirit of humanity. "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Lean on Me," "We Are the World" and "Heaven Knows"  are exemplary pacifiers to the pain of human suffering. Heaven Knows?    You may not be familiar with the latter song title yet. It comes from the pen of
Deitrick Haddon (D Haddy, Zomba Gospel) , who also penned highly acclaimed songs such as the prolific anthems of mercy "God Didn't Give Up On Me" and "Sinner's Prayer."   "Heaven Knows" is a song of social and political commentary with a Godly message, which rightfully falls in line with the other consciousness classics.  Quiet as it's kept, D Haddy is a sage for such a time as this, the voice of a generation.  The truths he speaks will reverberate with any audience on "7 Days" his forthcoming CD--gospel are not. In a room full of radio announcers, bored from a full week of performances, he moved their heads to affirming nods as his lyrics told the story of a senseless war, natural disasters and homelessness pointing to heaven as the source to coping with the cesspool of confusion around the world.   At the end of the song, standing to their feet, the audience's applause not only signalled appreciation for the minister's performance, but that they too are fatigued by the social ills that continue to fester in our nation and abroad.     Haddon points out that our generation  has uniquely experienced Twin Towers falling, terrorism at an all time high, war, hurricanes and tsunamis.  He wrote the song as his expression of being a part of the experience. 

"It's a record that really reaches the world and heals people right where they are."   But the striking of political nerves was unintentional.   "I really wasn't trying to be political, but it just came out."  And come out it does, like a verbal protest sign held high by an irritated activist.  Haddon's hooping voice is to today's music what J.J from Good Times' brush was to canvas (or shall we say, Ernie Barnes to an actual painter.)  It conveys what's going on through  inner knowledge.  Haddon uses the shield of the Constitution to tell it like it "tis." "We fight war that half the country don't [sic] agree on, but we see homelessness still there.  It could be eradicated.  We have the finances. We have the power to do it, but we don't do it."  He felt that people were wondering 'Where is God in all this?'  So he put the eternal answer to paper:  "Heaven is listening.  Heaven is watchin'.  Heaven knows" go the lyrics of the song.      When asked if he was concerned about potential condemnation for his political stance the writer responded:    "We live in America.  Fortunately, we're blessed to be able to speak out. Lesbians and Gays are able to speak out on their feel [sic] on everything.  And as a Christian I'm able to speak out on my view on everything.  I wasn't reserved in my expression." "Heaven Knows" might be the "dy-no-mite" that crosses the October 3 release over to audiences beyond the gospel spectrum. 

EUR New Artist Spotlight: Q&A With Brazilian R&B Artist Dreey-C

Excerpt from

(September 7, 2006) *19-year-old R&B/Pop sensation
Andre Caram is set to take the U.S., and his native Brazil, by storm.  For the Latin singer-songwriter, his stage name wasn't that difficult to think up.  "We were thinking about the name and everything. We wanted to change the spelling, and I can't remember the reason why I wrote it like that, but 'Dreey-C' - 'Dreey' being my first name Andre and 'C' being Caram, my surname - that's what we came up with," Dreey-C explains cooly. And the rest, as they say, is history. Despite his young years, Dreey-C is preparing an assault on the Americas, and then the world. He has been immersed in music most of his life, since the tender age of six. The Brazilian transplant was born and raised near Sao Paolo, and he speaks - and sings - fluently in English and his mother's tongue, Portuguese. "Music has always been one of my favourite things. I used to always sing in Brazil and when I moved here, when I was ten, eleven years-old; it just became something that I decided I really wanted to do," Dreey-C says, in an exclusive interview with One2One magazine. Now living in Orlando, Florida, he has expanded his musical talents. From singing to writing and producing, too. In fact, he is the writer-producer of his two new albums - set for a simultaneous release this summer, in the U.S. and Brazil - one in English, and one in Portuguese. "They're two completely different albums - there's actually one song, its title in English is 'Cry on my Shoulder,' that is the only song that you will hear on both albums. The whole rest of the album is completely different." The lyrics on both CDs come directly from Dreey-C's pen - he presently has over 50 original songs under his belt, including his unreleased 2004 debut 'On My Own' - and he is personally overseeing the production of every track on his two new self-titled, multi-lingual albums. "I'm in the studio right now, finishing the mixing and the tweaking that we gotta do. But, the album, it's done practically."

Nevertheless, Dreey-C takes these accomplishments in his stride. Actually, he's quite humble about his rising success on the road to superstardom. "I'm really glad of the opportunities I'm having at this time," Dreey-C says, with a smile. "It's really one of my biggest dreams, to work in this industry, and to have my songs heard. And my plan is just to keep going, more and more, is what I truly wish." 'More and more' is certainly what the fans are left wanting from Dreey-C, a handsome guy with the looks of a heartbreaker. However, when he's not in the studio recording and producing, what does he do for fun? What is he really like? "I'm a laidback guy," Dreey-C says, sounding every bit as laidback as he claims to be. "I like going to clubs a lot, I like hanging out with my friends. I like just hanging out a lot. I don't mind just hanging in the house. Florida's a hot place, there's a lot of beaches, there's a lot of parties. But, basically, it doesn't take a lot for me to have a good night - sometimes I can just end up in my house, with my friends, watching a movie." Whether it's his chilled persona or his down-to-earth nature, Dreey-C's style is all his own. "I think that I mix a lot of styles together," he notes. His music could be described as part R&B, part pop, part hip-hop; influenced by his idols, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Brian McKnight, Babyface; Dreey-C's overall style remains unique, and far from easy to pigeon-hole. "Even though being a Latin singer, being originated from Brazil; I'm a Piano player - I love to do that acoustically. I also love to dance (his choreographer, the acclaimed Peter Anthony of Spotlight Entertainment, will attest to that), I like the fast music, I like the kicks, the hard snares, I like the club songs. But at the same time, I must say I am romantic, so I kind of mix it all together."

With track titles like 'We Are Meant To Be,' 'I Wanna Take You Out,' 'Make Her Mine' and 'I Still Love You,' his music definitely sounds romantic. But, as a writer, where does he find inspiration for his song lyrics? "When it comes to writing, I try to keep it original - I think it's really important," says Dreey-C. "I truly believe that people can tell sometimes when there's a story behind the lyric and if it's real or if it's not real. So, I try to write from my past experiences, and I really try to get my inspiration from many of the things I go through. But, it depends, some songs are fiction, but some of them, they're reality times a thousand - you get this small situation and you multiply it by a thousand and it comes out something bigger than it is, and then that's the song," he laughs.  Charm and charisma, that's Dreey-C. He's a natural, and it's no wonder that he is already gaining recognition for his talents. Earlier this year, following a performance at the Miss Brazil USA finals in Fort Lauderdale, he was nominated for a Press Award for best stand-out Brazilian singer performing in the whole of the U.S. "We have a small buzz around my city," he says. "Nothing too big, yet." Just wait till he releases his albums this summer. The momentum is building, and this is only the beginning for Dreey-C. Watch for Dreey-C on BET Jazz in October. Check out Dreey-C's music at his official website:

Global Opera Sensation Adrianne Pieczonka Will Help Make History

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

(Sep. 9, 2006) It's been a couple of generations since anyone has seen a Wagnerian heroine on stage in breastplate and horns. But the stereotype lingers.  We still think of a soprano singing the music of Richard Wagner as larger than life. Someone headstrong and invincible. Someone with a voice that could shatter glass and a stare that could make even Stephen Harper's hair stand on end.  Burlington-born
Adrianne Pieczonka is a Wagner heroine. At 5-foot-9, the 43-year-old can appear larger than life on stage, although she is svelte rather than zaftig. She is the toast of operatic Europe and recently released a critically praised album of opera arias by Wagner and Richard Strauss.  Yet, on approaching the front steps of her new address in the Annex neighbourhood one day last week, it's clear that she is also a typical, harried Toronto mother who has too many tasks to squeeze into one day off.  There's a furnace-repair van in her driveway and a team of window washers hard at work inside and out. There is no time to lounge around today.  After spending more than a decade in Europe, living first in Vienna, then London, Pieczonka and her partner Laura Tucker, also a singer, bundled up their now 10-month-old daughter Grace and returned to Toronto.  Despite being cast as Sieglinde (Siegmund's twin sister) in Die Walküre, the second opera in Wagner's massive, four-opera Ring of the Nibelung cycle, Pieczonka expected to have some downtime in the city where she went to university, and where she had her debut on the opera stage two decades ago.

But she also had other engagements, including making her debut as Sieglinde at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, the place where the Ring had its debut 130 years ago.  She is also readying a solo recital of art songs at Roy Thomson Hall for Oct.13, besides keeping track of a long list of other dates. "I've been working and travelling non-stop since March," says Pieczonka. "And I'm booked until February."  So it makes sense that she has had to reconsider how hectic she really wants her life to be. It's a challenge every professional artist has to grapple with almost every day.  "This gets on my theme du jour about how difficult this lifestyle is, and what is home," says Pieczonka. "When you've got furnace people and window cleaners in your house and you think of the travelling lifestyle of a key and a hotel room, it's easy to see some advantages in living in that gypsy bubble, although then you miss the ties and you miss home."  She declares, in her matter-of-fact way, "I am struggling at the moment to find a balance."  Part of it means dealing with work demands. "There's this thing about, `What are you doing in March 2010?' and I think, well, I hope I'm alive." She laughs. "That's the reality of this business."  She pauses for an instant. "I hope I have the strength to say `I'm sorry, this is time I've blocked off for family downtime.' It's about taking care of oneself, of one's marriage, partnership, child, family life.  "If I hear of another colleague of mine having a divorce ..." she breaks off for a moment. "There are a lot of casualties. I knock on wood a lot."  The superstitious gesture seems to be working. To be invited to sing at Bayreuth is every Wagnerian singer's dream. To get excellent reviews is a bonus. To be invited by the Wagner family to return the following year is like a coronation.  Which is exactly what happened for Pieczonka this summer. Playing Sieglinde in Die Walküre, just as she did in Toronto in 2004 and will again starting next week at the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Pieczonka wowed audiences and critics alike.

England's The Guardian declared Pieczonka the "vocal highlight" of Bayreuth's Die Walküre. Germany's Der Spiegel said: "Winner of the evening among the strong women was certainly Adrianne Pieczonka as Sieglinde, whose pearly clear and forceful soprano serves up ideal tones of purest love for Siegmund." And there were many, many more kudos.  She loved the experience — not just because of the adulation.  A veteran of the central European opera circuit, Pieczonka sang at the Salzburg Festival in Austria for the four previous years. "I never felt like I completely fit into the Salzburg scene. It's slightly snobby, slightly aloof," she says. "In Bayreuth, it's a lot of big-boned singers having beer and pretzels. It's my kind of town. I feel like I fit in there a lot more."  Pieczonka quotes Clifton Forbis, who sang alongside her in Bayreuth: "I think it happens to Wagner singers. The bullshit is gone.  "It's a very demanding art form," she says. "The people who end up singing it are very grounded. They're not hoity toity."  Pieczonka's approach to learning a Wagner role is just as down-to-earth: "Unlike some of my colleagues whom I met this summer, for instance, who do a lot of reading, I have to admit that I do very little on that side. I immerse myself in the music and, since I speak German, I can immerse myself in the text immediately."  Pieczonka last sang at Roy Thomson Hall in 2002. It was also an unqualified success. She possesses a rich, flexible and powerful voice — as well as an uncanny knack for shaping a musical phrase.  "I get goosebumps just thinking about it," she says of that date four years ago. "In opera, you can get that, but there's just something about being you and being recognized as a solo artist that is pretty special."  Nothing compares to the pressure of a solo recital, where the singer must face her audience with nothing but a nice gown, lungfuls of air and a trusty piano accompanist.  "As much as vocal training, it needs a lot of mental and psychic preparation," says the singer. "You need confidence, in the text and vocally. It is also the most rewarding platform. It's just you. There is no smoke and mirrors and you feel the audience's reaction."

Despite now being one of the top opera singers of her generation, Pieczonka still turns to her old University of Toronto teacher Mary Morrison for advice.  Morrison, the single most important force in shaping Canada's current bumper crop of excellent singers, will be honoured on her 80th birthday, on Oct. 23, with a special recital at U of T's Walter Hall. Pieczonka will be there, too.  The professor can't say enough good things about her former student, whom she refers to as "my great Adrianne." Morrison says that she and her fellow faculty members were "well aware of her talent" by the time she arrived at the opera school. The voice "wasn't in full bloom, but was beginning to blossom."  Pieczonka's final role in university was Mimi in Puccini's La Bohème. "She stunned all of us," says Morrison. The graduate then went on to win a series of vocal competitions that launched her international career.  Morrison says what makes Pieczonka so exceptional is not just her voice ("a gleaming, ringing tone that is also very warm") but her craft and dedication. "She doesn't put a wrong step forward musically," she says. "Her whole self is a God-given gift."  Pieczonka will return to the Canadian Opera Company in next season's production of the five-act French-language version of Verdi's Don Carlos. She also says that her next two recordings will be of Italian opera: Puccini and Verdi.  "One should happen next spring. But right now I'm too swamped to even think about it," says Pieczonka.

Marley’s ‘Africa Unite 2007’ In South Africa

Excerpt from

(September 7, 2006)  *At a press conference held Tuesday (Sept. 5) in South Africa,
Rita Marley announced that The Bob & Rita Marley Foundations will bring its Africa Unite 2007 to South Africa in February.    Through a series of benefit concerts, symposiums, fund raisers and events, Africa Unite 2007 will encourage peace, education and empowerment for youth in Africa while reinforcing the significance of Bob Marley's Songs of Freedom to manifest change around the globe.    "Our family is committed to keeping the legacy and teachings of Bob alive to spread "One Love" worldwide through the power of music, which is a gift from God," said Rita Marley. "I have so much hope for Africa. It is our goal to bring life to the words of "Africa Unite" and aid where help is needed, while creating opportunities and sustainable change for youth in Africa and worldwide."    For more on Africa Unite 2007 click on and       Africa Unite 2007 will begin on reggae legend Bob Marley's birthday, February 6, 2007, and continue throughout Black History Month to include:


February 6 - Bob Marley's 62nd Birthday celebration and Africa Unite kick-off ceremony

February 7 - Bob Marley Photo Exhibit and Mrs. Rita Marley "No Woman No  Cry" Book Launch

February 7 - Africa Unite Benefit Concert at the site where Nelson Mandela cast his first vote Johannesburg

February 9-13 - Africa Unite "You Can't Blame the Youth" Education symposium and workshops to encourage peace, education and empowerment for Africa's youth

February 14 - Constitution Hill Debut of "Freedom Fighters" photo exhibition featuring rarely seen photos of Bob Marley including an exhibit from famed photographer Alf Kumalo and more

February 14 - Constitution Hill "One Love" Fundraising dinner & photo auction

February 14 - Catch a Fire Fashion Show featuring local South African designers

February 17 - Africa Unite for Empowerment Benefit Concert Cape Town

February 22 - "Songs of Freedom" Fundraising Dinner

February 24 - Africa Unite for Peace Benefit Concert

Stars Strut Their Stuff At Fashion Rocks

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(September 08, 2006) Dance-fuelled performances by Beyonce, Christina Aguilera and the Pussycat Dolls highlighted last night's (Sept. 7)
Fashion Rocks concert at New York's Radio City Music Hall. The show, the unofficial kick-off to New York's Fall Fashion Week, also featured a surprising appearance by Kanye West, new songs from Jamie Foxx and Aguilera and performances of a bevy of singles that have topped the Billboard Hot 100 this year.  Aguilera began the night with a piano duet with Sir Elton John, who curated the event. She later returned to perform the cabaret-esque song "Candyman," from her new RCA set, "Back to Basics."  Black Eyed Peas principals and Fergie also teamed with John before bringing out the remaining Peas members for "Pump It" and then clearing the stage for Fergie to sing her No. 1 Hot 100 hit "London Bridge."  Seated in two facing chairs, married country duo Tim McGraw and Faith Hill slowed down the evening, while Bon Jovi rocked the night with "Who Says You Can't Go Home." Assisted by a pianist and three mannequins oddly positioned as backup singers, Foxx performed his slow jam "Can I Take You Home," from his J debut "Unpredictable."

While Aguilera and Foxx opted for commercially unreleased tunes, Beyonce decided on "Deja vu" for her set, which featured a brief cameo by Jay-Z. Rihanna also took the stage for her No. 1 hit "S.O.S." and the Pussycat Dolls performed "Buttons" with rap newcomer Jibbs substituting for Snoop Dogg, the song's original guest artist.  But the night's most surprising moment came when Kanye West appeared onstage. Instead of performing, the rapper introduced his G.O.O.D Music artist Farnsworth Bentley, and proclaimed, "Tonight history will be made -- but I won't be the one making it." Surrounded by umbrellas and bouncy dancers, the swift-rapping Bentley performed a song that will most likely appear on his upcoming debut album.  Before the Scissor Sisters closed the night out, an all-black-clad Nelly Furtado, sporting bangs, performed her No. 1 hit "Promiscuous" with Timbaland at her side before launching into her No. 1 U.K. hit "Maneater."  All proceeds from the concert, which is organized annually by Conde Nast Media Group, will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The show airs tonight (Sept. 8) on CBS at 9 p.m. ET.


Toronto's Lukas Rossi Reaches Rock Star Finale

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(Sep. 6, 2006) LOS ANGELES — Once again, a Canadian has made it to the finals on Rock Star.  Skunky-haired Toronto singer
Lukas Rossi survived elimination Wednesday night on Rock Star: Supernova.  That means he's one of four performers still in the hunt to front a new group called Supernova, featuring Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and Gun N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke.  The winner will be chosen next week.  Rossi will compete against Magni Asgeirsson of Reykjavik, Iceland, Toby Rand of Melbourne, Australia and Dilana Robichaux, who hails from Houston, Tex.  Storm Large of Portland, Ore., was sent packing Wednesday.  The winner will record an album with Supernova and head out on a world tour with the band.  Last season, Nova Scotia-raised J.D. Fortune nabbed the Rock Star crown, gaining a spot as the front man for Australian band INXS. He's since recorded a CD with the band and gone on a world tour.   

U2 Back In The Studio With Rick Rubin, Green Day

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(September 08, 2006)
U2 is working on material for its next studio album with producer Rick Rubin, according to the band's Web site. The group has been at work on the as-yet-untitled follow-up to 2004's "How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" since last month. While in the studio, U2 will be joined by Green Day to record a cover of Scottish punk band the Skids' "The Saints Are Coming." Proceeds from the track will benefit Music Rising, an instrument replacement fund co-founded by U2 guitarist the Edge last summer in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. "One year later, the devastation is still fresh in our minds, and we'd like to keep it in yours," Green Day said in a post on its Web site. "New Orleans has always been a special city to us, being a hotbed of music and creativity, and it's hard to believe parts of the Gulf region still remain devastated. We feel that it's important to continue to raise awareness." Meanwhile, a DVD chronicling U2's Zoo TV tour will arrive Sept. 19 via Island/UME.

Caribana Made Small Profit, Organisers Say

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Paul Moloney, Staff Reporter

(Sep. 11, 2006) Despite a general decline in tourists from the United States,
Caribana continued to pull in its American fans, festival officials said today.  The 39th annual celebration of Caribbean culture is expected to break even financially, said Joe Halstead, chair of the Festival Management Committee.  “The hotels were sold out,” Halstead told a city hall news conference. “We’re not in the red.”  Financial statements released today indicate the 2006 festival took in revenue of $912,000 and had expenses of $903,000, resulting in a “tiny” profit of $9,000, Halstead said.  Caribana estimates that 1.2 million people lined the parade route to see 35 mas bands, some with up to 1,800 participants, he said.  But the festival should be on a firmer footing, said Halstead.  For 2007, Caribana is calling on the federal government to increase its annual grant to $400,000, the same amount provided by the city and provincial governments, he said.  This year, Ottawa chipped in $100,000.  “We need the federal government to help us since the city and province are doing their bit,” he said.  A formal request for a grant increase from Ottawa has not been made, but will be considered if it is received, said a spokesperson for Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda.  Caribana is also looking for $500,000 from Tourism Toronto to market the festival in 2007, Halstead added.  “We believe that Caribana still has the magic of attracting American tourists to the city. We need to do a stronger marketing campaign, and it takes money to do that.”

McKnight Teams With Rascal Flatts On New Album

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(September 07, 2006)
Brian McKnight has teamed with country stars Rascal Flatts for the song "Red, White and Blue," which will be included on his upcoming Warner Bros. debut. As previously reported, "10" will arrive Nov. 14 and is McKnight's first album since leaving Motown.  R&B vocalist Jill Scott joins McKnight on "More Than Just a Thang," while songwriters Tim & Bob contributed to "Unhappy Without You" and first single "Used To Be My Girl."  McKnight told Billboard in June he was optimistic about his move to WB. "I've seen what they can do -- they think outside the box," he said. "When I was a teen, all the acts I loved were on Warner Bros., including my brother Claude of Take 6. It's kind of surreal but it feels like this is where I should be."  "10" is the follow-up to 2005's "Gemini," which debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200.

Omarion Grows Up On '21'

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(September 07, 2006) R&B vocalist
Omarion will release his sophomore album, "21," Oct. 31 via Epic. The set features production from Pharrell Williams, the Underdogs and Bryan Michael Cox. First single "Entourage" is No. 27 this week on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.  "To me, at 21, it was a realization of who I wanted to become -- just me practicing my morals as a man and getting better in my craft," Omarion says. The album is the follow-up to 2005's "O," which debuted at No. 1 on both The Billboard 200 and Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.  Omarion will also be seen in several upcoming films, including the horror movie "Somebody Help Me," which also features fellow R&B artist Marques Houston. Next up is "Reggaeton," about an aspiring Bronx rapper forced to flee to Puerto Rico, and the drama "Street Soldier."

Cat Stevens To Release First Album In 28 Years

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Sept. 9, 2006) New York -- The artist formerly known as
Cat Stevens will release his first pop album in 28 years this fall. Stevens, who changed his name to Yusuf Islam after converting to Islam in the late 1970s, has signed with Atlantic Records in conjunction with his Ya Records label, it was announced Thursday. "I feel right about making music and singing about life in this fragile world again," the 58-year-old singer-songwriter said in a statement. The album, An Other Cup, is scheduled

Visa Woes Force Massive Attack To Drop Out Of T.O.'S V-Fest

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Canadian Press

(Sept. 7, 2006) Toronto —
V-Fest's inaugural North American music show in Toronto has lost its closing night headliner. Organizers say Massive Attack dropped out after failing to get U.S. immigration visas in time for Sunday, the start of the British band's North American tour. Toronto indie rockers Broken Social Scene will perform instead at the two-day festival, starting Saturday. Massive Attack's visa woes have also forced the act to cancel shows in Montreal, Detroit and Chicago next week. Management says the band hopes to reschedule the shows as soon as possible. V-Fest organizers say those who bought tickets specifically to see Massive Attack can ask for a refund before noon Sunday. "We apologize to everyone who bought tickets expecting to see Massive Attack perform, but we know that the new line-up continues to deliver an outstanding two-day experience for the Toronto Virgin Festival," Jacob Smid of Emerge Entertainment said in a release. Other acts at the festival include Gnarls Barkley, The Flaming Lips, The Strokes, Sam Roberts Band and Alexisonfire.

Dylan Tops Charts For First Time In Three Decades

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Sept. 7, 2006) New York —
Bob Dylan is back at the top of the charts — for the first time in 30 years. His new album, Modern Times, reached No. 1 on the album sales chart, selling 192,000 units in its first week of release, according to Nielsen SoundScan figures released Wednesday. The critically acclaimed disc is Dylan's first No. 1 album since 1976's Desire. Jessica Simpson's A Public Affair debuted at No. 5 with 101,000 copies sold — the highest charting of her career. It's Simpson's first release since her divorce from Nick Lachey. Girl group Danity Kane sold 117,000 copies of their debut album, Danity Kane, slipping to second place from the top spot. Another debut, the rapper Young Dro's Best Thang Smokin placed third, selling 104,000 copies. Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics slipped one spot to No. 4 with sales of 101,000, edging out Simpson by just a few hundred.

Tamyra Gray Weds Color Me Badd Singer

Excerpt from

(September 7, 2006) *
Tamyra Gray, a finalist on the first season of "American Idol," tied the knot last weekend to former Color Me Badd member Sam Watters during a ceremony in Capri, Italy. According to People magazine, the couple dated for two years before Watters popped the question last Valentine's Day with an antique diamond engagement ring in a platinum setting. About 45 guests attended the wedding, which took place on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  After the ceremony, "They walked through the city and townspeople were opening their windows and cheering for them," Gray's manager, Lisa Braudé, tells People.  After a successful 1990s run with Color Me Badd, which scored hits with "I Wanna Sex You Up" and ""I Adore Mi Amor," Watters, 36, is now a songwriter and producer with partner Louis Biancaniello. He co-wrote Jessica Simpson's current single "A Public Affair" and has also worked with Celine Dion and Kelly Clarkson.  Since Gray's 2002 run on "American Idol," the 27-year-old has segued into acting with a recurring role on Boston Public in 2003, a starring role in the 2005 indie film "The Gospel" and a guest role as a waitress on NBC's Las Vegas in March. In 2004 she released the album, "The Dreamer," which features several songs co-written, produced and arranged by Watters.  The newlyweds are currently honeymooning in Italy. 

Mr. Evil signs with US-based Sequence Records

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(September 7, 2006) *
Craig ‘Leftside’ Parkes one half of the dancehall/reggae duo Lefside and Esco, has signed with the US-based Sequence Records. Parkes, who also records under the moniker Dr. Evil, has now assumed the name Mr. Evil.  ‘Austin Powers has the Dr. Evil name under copyright so we decided to go with Mr. Evil’, Parkes said during an interview on the set of his photo shoot last week.  Parkes made inroads as a member of Wayne Marshall’s Marshall Arts band a few years ago. The one time sound system selector teamed up with friend Matthew ‘Esco’ Thompson and their outfit produced some of the hottest dancehall beats including the inescapable updated version of the Giggy, Galore and Dem Time Deh.   As the recording duo Lefside and Esco, they rode to the top of local and overseas reggae charts with the amusing Tuck In Yuh Belly. Wine Up Pon Har, a track they recorded earlier this year, was a huge club smash. Parkes referred to the duo’s track record as well as recordings under the Dr. Evil moniker that stirred the interest from Sequence Records. He pointed out that a track that was used as the soundtrack for a recent ATI campaign has been making some impact overseas. ‘The song is blowing up in the US. Hot 97 is playing it like crazy and it’s getting some good rotation in Italy. Sometimes you plan on something and something else comes along and you just have to work with it. Majority of the Dr. Evil songs are blowing up right now’, Parkes pointed out. Parkes said fans can look out for bigger and better things from Mr. Evil.  His debut album is due out at the end of September. The 14-track set will feature collaborations with Esco, Wayne Marshall, Aidonia and budding singer Empress, the host of RETV’s Di Show.   Sequence Records released Ms Thing’s debut album Ms Jamaica two years ago.  The label scored a minor Billboard hit last year with the club remix of Soul on Fire by KMC and Beenie Man.

Tupac’s Family Postpones South Africa Trip

Excerpt from

(September 8, 2006) *For personal reasons, Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, has postponed the family’s scheduled trip to South Africa, where the rapper’s ashes were to be spread in Soweto and the 10th anniversary of his death was to be recognized.  The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation will continue with its plans in Atlanta to commemorate the occasion by inviting the public to the Peace Garden tomorrow, Sept. 9th, at 1 p.m.  Afeni Shakur and the staff of the Center are asking everyone to bring a plant in memory of a loved one to place in the Peace Garden. If people cannot attend, the Center asks that a plant be laid in their personal garden in memory of not only, their loved ones, but for all fallen heroes. A celebration and drum ceremony will follow the garden event. The trip to South Africa will now take place on June 16, 2007. The date coincides with the anniversary of the Soweto uprising as well as Tupac’s 36th birthday.  “My family and I regret that they must postpone the trip to South Africa to a later date, due to personal reasons,” Ms. Shakur said in a statement. “We understand the work and time that everyone has put into making this trip possible but the work of helping the children and sick of South Africa must continue. We will still be sending aid and relief to those organizations and groups that we have established relationships with including the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Over the next couple of months, we want to spend time strengthening those ties. The invitation for the two students to come over to the Tupac Shakur Center on an exchange remains open and we intend to see it to fruition.”

Diddy Corrals Stars For New Album

Excerpt from

(September 8, 2006)  Sean “Diddy” Combs has invited some big names to join him on his upcoming album, “Press Play,” due Oct. 17 from his own Bad Boy label.    The rapper-turned-mogul shares tracks with such artists as Christina Aguilera, OutKast's Big Boi, Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx, Nas, Fergie, Brandy and Keyshia Cole, among others.   The line-up of producers for “Press Play” is just as impressive. Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Just Blaze,, Mobb Deep's Havoc and Rich Harrison have contributed beats to the project.  The first single, "Come to Me" featuring the Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger, is No. 13 on Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks chart this week. He rocked the song last night (Sept. 7) in Miami Beach as part of NBC's "NFL Kickoff" show. "As time evolved, and I started traveling around the world and going into dance and techno clubs, I began to see music from a global point of view," Diddy tells Billboard of the new album. "It all came together on 'Press Play' -- all those sounds in my head."  

Lionel Richie To Tour Behind New Album

Excerpt from

(September 8, 2006) *Lionel Richie will take his “Coming Home” album on the road for a tour that will donate proceeds to the United Way.  An exclusive pre-sale on, which runs through Sept. 22, will allow fans to buy ticket packages at various levels that will support local United Way organizations, particularly in the 16 tour cities. (See itinerary below.) The 13-city tour kicks off Oct. 27 in Detroit and will swing eastward and up the coast before dipping south to wrap in Charenton, La.  Due Sept. 12 from Island Records, “Coming Home” is led by the first single, “I Call It Love,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard's Adult R&B chart. The album sports collaborations with Jermaine Dupri, Sean Garrett, Dallas Austin, Raphael Saadiq and Richie musical director Chuckii Booker, among others. "I'm a writer first," Richie tells Billboard. “And to get the real me on record, I wrote with them. They brought me things we experimented with, and my job was to skew it back to me, to build the bridge between the generations without sounding too ridiculous."  Here are Lionel Richie's tour dates:

Oct. 27: Detroit (Music Hall)
Oct. 28: Chicago (Sears Centre)
Oct. 30: Toronto (Roy Thomson Hall)
Nov. 3: Washington, D.C. (Constitution Hall)
Nov. 4: Atlantic City, N.J. (Borgata Events Center)
Nov. 5: Baltimore (Symphony Hall)
Nov. 7: Newark, N.J. (NJ Performing Arts Center)
Nov. 8: New York (Beacon Theatre)
Nov. 10: Uncasville, Conn. (Mohegan Sun Arena)
Nov. 11: Boston (Opera House)
Nov. 12: Philadelphia (Tower Theater)
Nov. 15: Atlanta (Fox Theatre)
Nov. 17-18: Charenton, La. (Cypress Bayou Casino)
Nov. 19: Sunrise, Fla. (BankAtlantic Center)
Nov. 24: Los Angeles (Kodak Theatre)
Nov. 25: Oakland, Calif. (Paramount Theatre)

Snoop, Beyonce To Celebrate Nigeria’s Independence

Excerpt from

(Sept. 11, 2006)   *
Snoop Dogg, Beyonce and Jay-Z are among the talent lined up for a two-day event celebrating the independence of Nigeria from British rule.  This Day Music Festival, to take place Oct. 7 and 8 in Lagos, Nigeria, will also feature Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Ciara and En Vogue, as well as local stars King Sunny Ade, Tu Face, DBanj, Dare Art Alade, Weird MC, Asha and Seun Anikulapo-Kuti.    "This is the biggest event to be hosted in Africa and easily the number one music event anywhere in the world this year," organizer Ola Joshua told Nigeria's This Day newspaper. "With Nigeria's return to good international standing, a reform-based and growing economy, things are certainly looking better in Nigeria and we believe it's time to showcase Nigeria to the world especially as we mark our 46th year of Independence.”    The festival will feature various events aimed at promoting the revitalization of Nigeria’s cultural centers. Those who are unable to afford tickets can watch the event at designated Fan Zones across Nigeria, which will beam the show live on big screens for a low price.

Lucinda Moore Has Finally Arrived

Excerpt from

(Sept. 11, 2006)  
Lucinda Moore has been a vocal earthquake waiting to happen for many years. She is the pride of Bridegeport, CT and sang background for gospel elites such as Yolanda Adams, Tremaine Hawkins and as a member of Hezekiah Walker’s Love Fellowship Choir.  A “teaser” CD, “Unlimited Praise” formally introduced Moore’s choice voice to the national audience in 2003.   A Vickie Winans protégé, Moore was hard at work ministering at churches and conferences from coast to coast, to promote her gift.  has been frequently talked about as a promising up-and-coming gospel artist in anticipation of her first project released August 29, Lucinda Moore Live (Tyscot Records).   In it’s first week, the Lucinda Moore live cornered the #18 position on the Billboard Gospel Chart.  The album features a re-make of "Safe In his Arms" (the Vickie Winans classic) and a duet with the extraordinary Daryl Coley.  Produced by talented singer and label mate Vashawn Mitchell, the album enjoyed ample radio airplay of the island rhythms from the first single, “Pressure Into Praise.” The EUR CD review is coming soon.

R&B Songstress Syleena Johnson Leaves Jive

Source: Alexis Clark, Aneelys Entertainment,

September 13, 2006)  Harvey, IL - After eight emotion-filled years and three critically acclaimed albums, Syleena Johnson amicably separates from Jive Records and prepares for a new project and record label deal.   Her first release in 2001, Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness debut at #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and catapulted two more chapters. Chapter 2: The Voice and Chapter 3: The Flesh won rave reviews from critics but Jive Records failed to push Ms. Johnson to the next level of superstardom.   Her 2004 collaboration with Kanye West earned her a Grammy® nod and crossover appeal. To date, Ms. Johnson has done collaborations with R. Kelly, Fabolous, DMX, Cuban Linx, Michelle Williams, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Shawnna, Twista, Common and many others.   Rumour has it she is getting away from Chapters all together and preparing for a re-invention of herself and the creation of new music. She is searching for a new record label and new management. It is no secret in the industry about the lack of promotion Ms. Johnson received from her prior label but at 28-years-old her future still looks very promising and bright.  For more information contact:,, Management:  



September 11, 2006

Ak'Sent, Krunk Krunk, Capitol
Amir/500 [Split CD] [Bonus Tracks], KGB
Yadadamean, TVT
Accumulation, BCD Music Group
BARENAKED LADIES Barenaked Ladies Are Me (Nettwerk)
BASEMENT JAXX Crazy Itch Radio (XL Recordings/Beggars Group)
Beyoncé, Deja Vu, Pt. 1, Sony BMG
BLACK KEYS Magic Potion (Nonesuch/Warner)
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY Shot to Hell (Roadrunner)
BOB SEGER Face the Promise (EMI)
Bobby Earl Williams, Anybody Can Be a Nobody, Sony
Bobby Earl Williams,
Funky Superfly, Sony
Brian McKnight,
20th Century Masters, Universal International
Buju Banton,
Too Bad, Gargamel Music, Inc.
Carl Marshall,
Songs People Love the Most, Vol. 1,
Dem Jeans/Hands Up, Capitol
Gangsta Walk, Hardwax
Dave Barker,
Prisoner of Love [Bonus Tracks], Troja
Daz Dillinger,
So So Gangsta, Virgin
Dem Hoodstarz,
Band-Aide and Scoot, SMC Recordings
Come to Me, WEA/Bad Boy
Dionne Warwick,
Definitive Pop, Rhino
Don Blackman,
Don Blackman, Expansion
(How Could You) Bring Him Home, BMG/Jive
ELTON JOHN The Captain & The Kid (Universal)
Eric Donaldson, Cherry Oh Baby, Trojan
EVERCLEAR Welcome to the Drama Club (Universal)
Fergie, London Bridge [Single], Universal
Son of Pain, Atlantic
My Name Is Gyptian, VP / Universal
Ike Turner,
Risin' with the Blues, Zoho Roots
Infamous Playa Family,
La Cosa Nostra tha Mixtape, BCD Music Group
Janet Jackson,
Call on Me, Virgin
Jeannie Ortega,
No Place Like Brooklyn, Hollywood
JOHN MAYER Continuum (Columbia)
Johnny Perez, The Knockouts, Machete Music
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive)
Kid Beyond, Amplivate, Love-Million
Krook Rock,
Cronketon, Universal Music Latino
Torn, Capitol
Lionel Richie,
Coming Home, Island
Lionel Richie,
Love Collection, Madacy
Lou Rawls,
Lou Rawls Christmas, Time Life
Lou Rawls,
Merry Christmas, Baby, Capitol
Lupe Fiasco,
Food and Liquor [Bonus Track], WEA/Atlantic
Lupe Fiasco,
Kick Push, WEA/Atlantic
Lutan Fyah,
Healthy Lifestyle, VP / Universal
Shorty, TVT
Mariah Carey,
Mariah Carey, Sony
Mariah Carey,
MTV Unplugged [DVD], Sony
Marques Houston,
Like This/Favorite Girl, Umvd Labels
MARS VOLTA Amputechture (Universal)
Marvin Gaye, Live in Belgium 1981, Motown
Youth [Bonus Tracks], Sony
Relax, Universal/Island
Missy Elliott,
Respect M.E., WEA/Atlantic
Classic. Ghetto. Soul,
Mr. Marcelo,
Son of Magnolia, Ball Or Fall
N.O.R.E. y La Familia...Ya Tu Sabe, Roc La Familia
Natural Black,
Far from Reality, Greensleeves
Uncomfortable Truth, Four Music
Victim of Truth, Four Music
Ohmega Watts,
No Delay/The Find, Ubiquity
Entourage, Sony BMG
El Kilo [CD/DVD], Universal Latino
P.P. Arnold,
First Lady of Immediate [Bonus Tracks], JVC Victor
Pigeon John,
Pigeon John...And the Summertime Pool Party, Quannum
Bojangles [Remix], TVT
Public Enemy,
Revolverlution Tour 2003 Manchester, Steamhammer
Ray Robinson
, What It Is, Passion
Screamin' Jay Hawkins,
At Home with Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Acadia
Silva Jaguar,
Silva Dollar,
Swollen Members,
Black Magic, Battle Axe
Swollen Members,
Too Hot, Battle Axe
Talib Kweli,
Listen!!!, Reprise / Wea
Terry Callier,
Life Lessons: The Best of Terry Callier, Music Club Deluxe
The Staple Singers,
The Staple Singers, St. Clair
The Temptations,
Get Ready: Definitive Performances 1965-1972, Motown
Twisted Black,
I'm a Fool Wit It, TVT
Various Artists,
20th Century Masters: Best of 90s R&B, Universal International
Various Artists,
All Access DVD Magazine: La Revista en DVD, All Access
Various Artists,
All Access DVD Magazine: Street Credibility, All Access
Various Artists,
In Prison: Afroamerican Prison Music from Blues to Hiphop, Trikont
Various Artists,
Real Reggae Roots: The Compilation,
Various Artists,
Reggaeton Videos on Fire, Nu
Various Artists,
Revolution Rock: A Clash Jukebox, Trojan
Various Artists,
Roots of Rap [Bonus Track], Music Avenue
Various Artists,
Straight out Da Hood, Integrated Label GRP
Various Artists,
The Best of Scram Records, Night Train
Various Artists,
Tip of Da Mysberg, Vol. 2, Grindin
Various Artists,
Tribute to Pink [Red Line], Red Line
Yung Joc,
Goin' Down [#2], WEA/Atlantic

September 18, 2006

2-Sav, Still Sav'd Out, Mercenary Ent.
50/50 Twin,
Ounce 4 Ounce, Oarfin
Aaron Neville,
Bring It on Home... The Soul Classics, Burgundy
Alexis & Fido,
Los Reyes del Perreo, Sony International
Mr Patty Cake Man, BCD Music Group
Deja Vu [Single], Sony Urban Music/Columbia
Big Dant,
Brutes of Da Bay, Thizz
Big Tone,
Sly, Slick N Wicked, Urban Life Music
Billy Cook,
Peace on Earth, Battiste Muzic Group
Billy Cook,
R&B Gangsta, Battiste Muzic Group
Billy Cook,
The Truth, Battiste Muzic Group
Billy Preston,
Early Hits of 1965, P-Vine Japan
Billy Preston,
The Most Exciting Organ Ever, P-Vine Japan
Bob Marley,
Colour Collection, Motown
Bob Marley,
The Reggaeton Mixes, Cleopatra
Bobby Earl Williams,
Anybody Can Be a Nobody, Sony
Bobby Earl Williams,
Funky Superfly, Sony
Heels-N-Wheels, Duck Down Music
Boss Gambino's Mobb Life,
Boss Gambino's Mobb Life, Vol. 1, Urban Life Music
Brooke Valentine,
Physical Education, Toshiba EMI
Buck Power,
Buck Power, Top 20
C.L. Smooth,
American Me, Shaman Work
Touch It or Not, Asylum/Diplomat
CAPTAIN This Is Hazelville (EMI)
Cee-Lo, Art of Noise: The Best of Cee-Lo, Sony BMG
Celly Cel,
The Wild West, Real Talk
Hoodstar, Capitol
Chino XL,
Don't Run From Me, Up Above
Hitch Hikin Music,
CLAY AIKEN A Thousand Different Ways (RCA)
Coolio, Gangsta Walk, Hardwax
Crunchy Black,
On My Own, Hypnotize Minds
Curse OV Dialect,
Wooden Tongues, Mush
Custom Made,
Street Cinema: The Best of the Custom Made, Babygrande
Dan the Automator,
2K7: The Tracks, Decon
Dave Barker,
Prisoner of Love [Bonus Tracks], Troja
Deon Jackson,
Love Makes the World Go Round, Collectors' Choice Music
Desmond Dekker,
Compass Point [Bonus Track], JVC Victor
DIANA KRALL From This Moment On (Verve)
Diana Ross, Blue [Bonus Tracks], Universal/Motown
Come to Me, WEA/Bad Boy
DJ SHADOW Outsider (Universal)
Don Blackman, Don Blackman, Expansion
Dreey-C, Mercy Soldier Recordings
(How Could You) Bring Him Home, BMG/Jive
Eddie Hazel,
Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs, Collectors' Choice Music
Eric Donaldson,
Cherry Oh Baby, Trojan
London Bridge [Single], A&M
The Dutchess, Interscope
Fred Martin and The Levite Camp,
Some Bridges, Concord Records
Free at Last, Def Jam
Mastercuts, Apace/Mastercuts
Global Warning, Familia
Catch as Catch Can, Fat Beats
Ice Cube,
Death Certificate/Amerikkka's Most Wanted, EMI International
Ike & Tina Turner,
Live! The Ike & Tina Turner Show [DBK], DBK Works
Ike & Tina Turner,
Nutbush City Limits/Feel Good, Raven
Ike Turner,
Early Times, Rev-Ola
Ill Tactics,
American Rap Idol, Relentless
Janet Jackson,
20 Y.O. [Bonus Track], EMI
Janet Jackson,
All for You [Japan Bonus Track], EMI
Janet Jackson,
Damita Jo [Bonus Tracks #2], EMI
Janet Jackson,
Special Limited Edition, EMI
Janet Jackson,
The Velvet Rope [Japan Bonus Track], EMI
Seasons of Life [Bonus Track], JVC Victor
Jedi Mind Tricks,
Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell, Babygrande
Chasing Forever,
Karaoke: Hip Hop/R&B, Vol. 2, Singing MacHine
Pop Culture: Hip Hop & R&B, Vol. 2, Singing Machine
Kenny Smith, One More Day, Shake It
Kool Keith,
Sex Style, Green Streets
L Matik,
Still on tha Block, Familia
Labor Party,
I Bleed, Steel Cage
Layzie Bone,
100% Thug Tour [DVD/CD], Cleopatra
Lil Boosie,
Bad Azz, Rap-A-Lot
Lil C,
Purple Drank tha Mixtape, Pt. 2, Oarfin
Lil Chris,
Checking It Out, BMG/RCA
Lil Menace,
Down 2 Ride, PR
LILY ALLEN Alright, Still (EMI)
Lionel Richie, I Call It Love, Pt. 1, Universal
Lionel Richie,
I Call It Love, Pt. 2, Universal
Lloyd Price,
16 Greatest Hits, Passport
Luny Tunes,
Mas Flow: Los Benjamins, Machete Music
Lupe Fiasco,
Food and Liquor, Atlantic / Wea
Luther Vandross,
The Ultimate Luther Vandross [Bonus Track], BMG
Mac Dre,
Y.S. A.K.A. [the Thizz Kid], Thizz
Mac Mall,
Thizziana Stoned & Tha Temple of Shrooms, Thizz
Live at Montreux 2002, Kindred Rhythm
Marvin Gaye,
Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, United States Dist
Master P,
The Ultimate Master P [Clean], Koch
Messy Marv,
Explosive Mode, Vol. 3: Mob Gets Explosive, Sumo
Michael Franti,
Yell Fire [Bonus Track], Sony
Relax, Universal/Island
Miki Howard,
Pillow Talk: Miki Howard Sings the R&B Classics, Shanachie
MONICA The Makings of Me (Sony/BMG)
Mos Def, Tru3 Magic [Clean], Geffen
Mr. Junebug,
Hard Life, Hard Life
Mr. Kee,
Seldom Seen, R.N.L.G. LLC
Mr. Sche,
Dark, Buck and Crunk, Corner Shop
Reparation Is Due, Cleopatra
Everything New, Universal
Nate James,
Set the Tone [Bonus Tracks/Bonus DVD], Toshiba EMI
Victim of Truth, Four Music
The Nump Yard, Sick Wid It
O.G. Ron C.,
After Da Kappa Daytona 2k6, Oarfin
O.G. Ron C.,
F-Action 45, Oarfin
Entourage, Sony BMG
Oscar Toney, Jr.,
Guilty, Shout
Paul Wall,
Before the Storm, Paid in Full
Phonk Beta,
Symplex: The Simple, Complicated World of Phonk Beta Jazz, Fahrenheit
Malt Liquor Dreams 1&1/2, Lap Dance Cee DeEz
Playboy W.,
Chef Playboy R Dee, Lap Dance Cee DeEz
Straight Outta Humboldt, Suburban Noize
Pretty Black,
Prince of the Streets [Bonus DVD], Sumo
PX (Parts Unknown),
Hood Therapy, M.D.L.
Rankin' Scroo,
Godfada, Rex
Ras Kass,
Eat or Die,
Ray Charles,
Mastercuts, Apace/Mastercuts
Ray Robinson,
What It Is, Passion
San Quinn,
4.5.7 Is the Code, Pt. 3, Sumo
City Sleeps, 3D
SASS JORDAN Get What You Give (Horizon Recordings)
Sly & Robbie, Rhythm Doubles, Taxi
Snoop Dogg,
Vato/Candy, Geffen
Come, Listen, JMG / Jewish Music
The Brand New Heavies,
Get Used to It [Bonus Tracks], Pony Canyon
The Five Du-Tones,
Shake a Tail Feather: The Complete One-Derful Recordings, Shout
The Impressions,
This Is My Country/The Young Mods' Forgotten Story, Snapper/Charly
The Jacka,
Shower Posse, Sumo
The Living Legends,
Legendary Music, Vol. 1, Up Above
The Staple Singers,
Come Up in Glory, Snapper/Charly
The Sweet Inspirations,
Sweet Inspirations, CCM
Three 6 Mafia,
Smoked out Music's Greatest Hits, Hypnotize Minds
Too Short,
Keep Bouncin', Jive
Too Short,
Pimpin' Incorporated, Oarfin
Trey Lorenz,
Mr. Mista, Cleopatra
Various Artists,
80's Soul Gold, Hip-O
Various Artists,
Afterlyfe: The Music of Lyfe Jennings, Scufflin
Various Artists,
Can You Flow? Instrumental Renditions of Nas's Illmatic, Re
Various Artists,
Da Hiphop Raskalz, Mulatta
Various Artists,
Dancehall Sessions, Vol. 2, Sessions
Various Artists,
Detroit G Code, Lightyear
Various Artists,
Hi Power Book, Book 6, Thump
Various Artists,
Hip Hop Bebop Junction: Tonight: Bebop Plays the Music Of Ludacris, Scrufflin
Various Artists,
Legit Ballin' Records Greatest Hits, Legit Ballin' R
Various Artists,
Make Millions in Rap, Entertainment Sol
Various Artists,
Mastercuts: Hip Hop, Mastercuts
Various Artists,
Original Reggae Selection, Demon
Various Artists,
Peter Young's Soul Cellar, Vol. 2, Metro
Various Artists,
Reggaeton Hits, Warlock
Various Artists,
Revolution Rock: A Clash Jukebox, Trojan
Various Artists,
Smooth Jazz Tributes 20 Years of Janet Jackson,
Various Artists,
The Music of Lyfe Jennings After Hours: The Nightclub Tribute, Scufflin
Various Artists,
Timeless Soul Ballads, Vol. 2, Rex
Various Artists,
Tip of Da Mysberg, Vol. 2, Grindin
Various Artists,
Tonight: Bebop Plays the Music of Ludacris, Scufflin
Various Artists,
Top Doggs, Thump
Various Artists,
Tribute to Pink [Red Line], Red Line
Various Artists,
Xclusive R&B,
From Anger and Rage, Rivalry
In the Good, Up Above
Wilbert Harrison,
Let's Work Together, Jamie / Guyden
Wilson Pickett,
Hey Jude, DBK Works
Wynonie Harris,
Don't You Want to Rock, Ace
Full Circle [Special Edition], Koch
Yung Joc,
Goin' Down [#2], WEA/Atlantic


From TV Starlet To Director, Via A Road Less Travelled

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Leah Mclaren

(Sept. 7, 2006) TORONTO -- "No one should have to go through puberty in a period costume," says
Sarah Polley, fixing her interviewer with an unnerving, blue gaze that makes it almost impossible to tell whether she's joking. She cracks a smile and the clouds part. "It's really embarrassing."  As she sits in the Café Diplomatico, in Toronto's west end, there is little of the crinoline-clad child star Canadians came to know in the '90s. Tiny and unmade-up in jeans and hooded sweatshirt, Ms. Polley is contemplating her transition from CBC Television's petticoat-sporting darling on Road to Avonlea to full-grown writer/director.  At the not-so-ancient age of 27, she has just completed her first feature film. Away From Her, starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent, will have its gala opening at the Toronto International Film Festival next week. Critics are already humming with delight over the film, which promises to catapult the ever-beyond-her-years actress/director to the first tier of Canadian filmmakers her first time out. Still, Ms. Polley doubts it will entirely change the way Canada -- or the Canadian film industry -- sees her.

"I've been working since I was so young, I think in a way people will always see me as a child actor. I'm so used to it I'd probably be alarmed if people just started treating me like an adult."  Her trajectory from child star to director has been impressive, if unorthodox. Her first movie role was at the age of six in Disney's One Magic Christmas. She went on to star in Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) before she took the title role in Kevin Sullivan's hit show, Road to Avonlea.  As a teenager, Ms. Polley became a left-wing political activist. Her return to screen was marked by a decision to stick largely to independent fare, most notably Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter (1997) followed by Guinevere (1999) and My Life Without Me (2003).  Today, she lives in a modest house in downtown Toronto with her husband, film editor David Wharnsby, who also worked on the film. Ms. Polley's life is defiantly un-Hollywood. She rarely travels, except for work, and her income as a director is, she says, "not as luxurious as an actor's, but comfortable compared to all those people who do jobs they hate."  Contrary to popular belief, she did not make millions during her time on Avonlea. "Nowhere near it," she says.

Ms. Polley's transition from "It-Girl" starlet (as she was dubbed during 1999's Sundance festival for her role in Guinevere) to sober adult filmmaker was marked by her pivotal decision to drop out of the role of Penny Lane in Cameron Crowe's Hollywood hit, Almost Famous.  The actress who stepped in received an Academy Award nomination. "Kate Hudson's life is my idea of hell," Ms. Polley says. "I feel like sometimes people misunderstood that. As if the decision to not become a big Hollywood celebrity was not some kind of gesture of integrity. In fact, [celebrity] is a place of terror for me. It's my worst fear. The idea of coping with that on a larger scale is my worst nightmare." In an effort to insulate herself, both professionally and personally, Ms. Polley has, over the years, assembled the tight-knit creative team that came together to help her make her first feature. Having worked with Ms. Polley in the past, veteran Canadian producer Danny Iron (who produced the film) says he never once worried that she wasn't up for the job. Adapted from an Alice Munro short story, Away From Her tells the story of a couple's struggle with Alzheimer's and the continuation of romantic love after 44 years of marriage. It's an unusually staid choice of subject matter, let alone for a first-time writer/director. And yet it is a fitting irony that Ms. Polley decided to make a film about what she describes as "the end of things," during a period of new beginnings in her own life.  That was the spring of 2003 when Ms. Polley married David Wharnsby. As the young couple embarked on a life together, her creative mind kept wandering forward to the end of the relationship -- the part no one seems to want to think about. "I was starting to play with ideas of what a long marriage would look like in my head," she says. "Love stories usually focus on the most boring part of love -- the part that anybody is capable of. But what happens when the show stops? And then, what does that look like after decades when the show has really stopped, and you've let each other down over and over again, over decades. I mean, inevitably two people are going to be disappointed in each other but if something remains, then how does it remain and what does it look like? To me, that's the most interesting part of a love story."  These measured words seem a far cry from the Sarah Polley of the past. Where is the angry child star and the potty-mouthed teen activist we got to know in the 1980s and '90s? If it is a strange thing to watch a person grow up in the public eye, one can only wonder at how strange it would be to actually be that person. Imagine if your adolescent angst -- and subsequent rebellion -- made news?

That's what it was like for Ms. Polley, who spent much of her childhood filming Road To Avonlea. "The crinoline years were not good years," she concedes. "I had signed on to a contract I couldn't get out of. All I wanted to do was go to school."  In the middle of it all, Ms. Polley's mother, casting director Diane Polley, died of cancer just short of her daughter's 11th birthday. A year after her mother's death, Ms. Polley's disenchantment with the entertainment industry was cemented when she was asked by Disney Channel executives to take off a peace symbol necklace during an awards ceremony for children's television. She refused, and activist was born.  After leaving television, Ms. Polley spent a few years engaged in political activism. In 1995, she famously lost some teeth during a demonstration protesting against the Conservative government of then-Ontario premier Mike Harris. "I look back on those years really fondly," she says. But her love affair with activism began to wane when her celebrity began to overshadow her role as a political organizer. "I became a spokesperson and it wasn't what I felt I was very good at or what I liked doing," she says. Her difficulties with activism coincided with a turning point that brought her back to movies in a serious way -- when she took the role in Atom Egoyan's film The Sweet Hereafter. "I would never have thought making films, either as an actor or a filmmaker, had any use at all if I hadn't worked with Atom. That was the film when a light bulb went on for me and I thought, 'This is a beautiful, and not a ludicrous, way to spend your life.' "  From there Ms. Polley went on to write and direct three short films, the most recent of which, I Shout Love, won a Genie in 2003. At the same time she was trying to get an original screenplay off the ground, but she and producing partner Jennifer Weiss failed to get funding after years of slogging. "It became very, very clear to me that my career as an actor and whatever the impression people had, was really working against me," Ms. Polley says.

Ms. Polley's history in the industry may have given her a head start, but it also presented challenges when it came to managing -- as opposed being managed -- on a film set.  "I grew up as a child actor so a part of me is constantly seeking approval," she admits. "I'm absolutely terrified of conflict, and making a film is constant conflict. As a director you are required to say what you think constantly. Your job, when you get up in the morning, is to get everyone to like you. I got about 10 years of experience in six weeks, just in terms of growing up as a human being."  For all that, Canada's sweetheart is still not entirely certain she wants to grow up. "What's going to happen when people can't call me mature any more?" she wonders with a dark laugh. "There will be nothing left! What will they say? 'She's so precocious for 58.' It's embarrassing."


A prepubescent Polley is contracted for seven long years in the early 1990s as Sara Stanley in The Road to Avonlea.


Polley as an angry young white supremacist in the 1998 TV movie White Lies.


Polley plays Sister Sarah in Clement Virgo's Love Come Down (2000).


Polley plays Margaret in Peter Wellington's Luck (2003).


Polley pays off some debts as Ana in the 2004 zombie action thriller Dawn of the Dead.


On the set of Away From Her, working alongside director of photography Luc Montpellier.

Heath Ledger: Candy

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Liam Lacey

(Sept. 10, 2006) The Star: Rangy, blond 27-year-old Australian actor. He and his sister, Kate, were named after the main characters in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, perhaps setting up his career as a Hollywood heartthrob. After moving from his native Perth to Sydney at the age of 17, he played in a series of small Australian films before being cast in the 1999 teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. He shunned teen-hunk typecasting with a determinedly varied range of roles, including The Patriot, A Knight's Tale, Monster's Ball and The Order, reached a peak with last year's Oscar nomination for his minimalist tour de force as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain and then appeared in Disney's Casanova. The Film:
Candy, an Australian doomed-drug romance in the tradition of The Panic in Needle Park. Based on Luke Davies's autobiographical heroin novel, it co-stars Abbie Cornish as the title character and Geoffrey Rush as an avuncular drug dealer. **½ (Screening tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., Paramount 1; and Sat. Sept. 16, 1:15 p.m., Varsity 2.) The Story: Now, just what is Ledger trying to prove? He's just come off an Oscar-nominated career high as a taciturn gay Wyoming cowboy, followed by a turn in a Disney hit as one of history's most famous heterosexuals, and he follows that up with -- what? A part as a junkie poet in a low-budget Australian film, of course. "I always wanted to find a film where I could work without an accent for a change," Ledger explains. "It wasn't so much I was looking for an indie movie as that there isn't very much else available in Australia."

For research, Ledger and his co-star Cornish (Somersault) took a video camera and went to an addiction support group, where "we met this gentleman who has been a junkie for 20 years. He took us into this boardroom and dumped a big rifle case on the table and it was a completely realistic prosthetic arm, which veins connected to blood bags at either end. He showed us how to find a vein and inject the needle at the right angle. He was practically salivating: 'Oh, this is a good one!' "To be honest," says Ledger, "I'm not sure how much research the part required. I've smoked a joint before so I know what it's like to feel high, and there's so much media out there about drug abuse, we all sort of know how it plays out." Currently, he's in Montreal, preparing to shoot I'm Not There, a "wildly ambitious and incredibly creative" biography of Bob Dylan from filmmaker Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven, Safe). Ledger is one of seven actors, including fellow Australian Cate Blanchett, to represent the singer-songwriter at different stages of his life.  Then, in 2008, he'll star in perhaps his highest-profile film yet -- the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight, in a role previously inhabited by no less than Jack Nicholson.

"I've always been picky in my choices," says Ledger, "But nowadays, I'm a lot more so." The change came with the birth of his daughter, Matilda, last fall, with Brokeback Mountain co-star Michelle Williams. "She's such an awesome, beautiful little girl that Michelle and I hate spending five minutes away from her, never mind five months, so it has to be really, really worth it." Ledger shrugs off the idea that he consciously picks parts to show his versatility: "At the end of the day, what I do in that space of time between 'Action!' and 'Cut!' doesn't change. This period, of the rehearsal leading up to a film, is excruciating. I lose sleep, I'm anxious, excited and nervous and the adrenaline's pumping. Then the first day and the camera rolls, and it's just breathing and believing you're that person, striving for truth and all that. I haven't worked in a year and a half now." He looks down at his shoe, which is bouncing up and down: "Look," he says. "You can see my toe tapping in anticipation."

IRA Tale Puts Cork In It

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere

(Sep. 10, 2006) There's a scene in
The Wind That Shakes the Barley, director Ken Loach's Palme d'Or winning film about the founding of the Irish Republican Army, in which Cillian Murphy, playing a rebel, is required to execute a teenage boy accused of treason against the cause. Murphy's intensity during the scene is palpable, almost painful, and it's a pivotal point in his character's personal and political development.  It also hit close to home. Literally. Loach, the veteran socialist director from Britain, made the film in the Republic of Ireland's County Cork, where Murphy, an ascending star known to most for his roles in movies like 28 Days Later and Batman Begins, was born and raised.  In Toronto to attend the North American premiere of the movie, the 30-year-old actor sat down with the Star to discuss the experience of making a political film on his home ground.

I understand the film has done extremely well in Ireland as well as Britain — but that it's also been pretty savagely attacked by the right-wing press in both countries. Were you surprised by this?

I knew that it would make an impact in Ireland, that a lot of people would feel strongly about it, but I didn't expect it to be taken on board so much. It became a very important film for everyone to see in Ireland.  It's a highly political film. It's not easy watching. You have to apply yourself to it. For it to become the success that it has in Ireland is, I think, a very encouraging sign. Given that it's only two generations ago that this took place, and it runs very deep back home still.  The sort of knee-jerk reaction in Britain's right-wing press was inevitable; I wouldn't expect anything but that from those publications. They're always histrionic ...

Also, a lot of the people who spoke about the film in the British press hadn't actually seen it. A lot of them are just Loach naysayers. But the interesting thing was, nobody contested the factual events portrayed in the film. Nobody contested whether the British Black and Tan regiments or the auxiliaries carried out atrocities.  And there's an easy retort to all the claims laid at its feet. The film is obviously not anti-British. It's anti- the policies of the British administration of the time. It's also not pro-IRA because it's showing how every democratic road that the rebels had gone down had been crushed by the British. That's what happens to people when their parliament is banned, when speaking about parliament is banned, when speaking their language is banned, when playing their own native games is banned. People resort to violence.  So I was pleased. A bit of controversy is good. Anything that gets people exercised is good. History is there to be learned from, surely.

The film is based on events that took place in 1918 in Cork, where you're from. It was also made there. Are people there still aware of these events?

We learned about them in school, very much so about 1916 (when the Easter Rising led to the brief occupation of the Dublin Post Office building).   The War of Independence (1919-21) was sort of glossed over in school, because it's more painful, I think. I don't come from a politicized family but it had touched my family. My grandfather was shot at by the Black and Tans when he was playing the fiddle, and I had a distant cousin who was killed. He was a rebel in a Flying Column (IRA active service unit).   Everyone (in Cork) has connections to that period. It split families down the middle. There are people to this day who won't speak about it. A lot of legend and mythology has grown up about the civil war that is not quite reliable. And people still have very opposing points of view on its outcome.   But it's a pivotal point in our shared history. Both of the Irish main political parties trace their roots back to this fracture. It caused the creation of Northern Ireland and caused the creation of the IRA, so it was a very important time. And in Europe at the time, revolution was in the air, such as in Russia. People forget that. They were very radical times.

What was most appealing about the project? The script? The subject? The setting? Or working with Ken Loach?

I think working with Ken was the primary thing. The way he works, you don't get a script to begin with. All I knew was that it was a film set in Cork about the war of independence, and that it followed the story of two brothers. I knew Ken's politics and that it would probably be controversial, but I was up for that.   I was living at home during the shoot. Staying in the bedroom that I grew up in. Shooting around areas that I'd run around as a kid. It was very special.

Tell me about shooting the scene where you execute the teenage traitor on the hill. You seem genuinely distressed.

To think there are people who say that scene glorifies the IRA! How in the hell does that glorify the IRA? Shooting a 16-year-old kid in cold blood?   Ken's method is to shoot everything chronologically. And prior to the scene, we had spent a lot of time, like a week, in this sort of boot camp environment. I look back on it and see he had very subtly put myself and the kid playing that part together — and we got along very well.   And I didn't know walking up that hill that day that (the scene) was actually going to happen. It was just really hard. There wasn't much acting involved. The atmosphere up on the hill was distressing.

That's a very unusual way of directing. How does Loach compare with other filmmakers you've worked with?

He's out on his own in the way he works. It's very, very unique. And it's obviously been born out of a process of elimination. In the very beginning, he may have made films the way people normally do, which is set around this kind of hierarchical system. It's all about compartmentalizing. It's all about the talent and the crew.   Ken, I think, little by little got rid of that, managed to pare it down. There are no marks. No lights. He doesn't say "Action!" or "Cut!" There are no (location) trailers. The camera is inevitably 20 feet away, shooting with a long lens.   Everything is to facilitate the performance. With Ken, it's like a private moment. He will have the crew turn around. Sometimes he won't even look at you, just trust what he's hearing. It's just blissful as an actor. In terms of his notes and how he directs you, it's a very gentle manoeuvring towards something through discussion. A lot of finding it through (multiple) takes, as well. I wish every film could be shot like that.

And he's been at it for over 40 years.

He's 70 years of age this year, and the energy with which he controls the whole thing is unbelievable. People would do anything for him. Superlatives — they don't serve the purpose they're designed for with Ken.

You've worked with your fellow Irishman Neil Jordan (Breakfast on Pluto) and now this film about Irish history. How important is it for you to make movies that reflect your own culture?

I'm Irish and it's important to me. But Liam Neeson said to me once, "You should be not an Irish actor. You're an actor who's Irish. Actor first and Irish second."   I think that's important, too. You can go and make the American studio pictures, but still come home and make good stories.   I'll only do an Irish film the way I'll only do an American film — if I think it's worthwhile.

The Eva Pigford Interview

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(September 7, 2006) *Born in Los Angeles on October 30, 1984,
Eva Marcelle Pigford was working at a department store selling men's suits when she decided to take a shot at stardom by trying out for UPN's America's Next Top Model reality-TV series. Though at 5' 6½" she was the shortest contestant ever allowed to enter the competition, the former tomboy more than made up with spunk what she might have lacked in stature, coming away with the crown in 2004 at the close of the show's third season finale. Upon winning, the feisty fireplug signed with the Ford Agency and blossomed  into a bona fide supermodel, also landing a one-year contract with Cover Girl Cosmetics while being featured in fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue, Essence and elsewhere. In addition, the irrepressible ingénue has appeared in a half-dozen episodes of UPN's Kevin Hill and has hosted BET's Rip the Runway fashion show. Incredibly busy, Eva has a couple of movies on her resume', Premium and The Walk, plus a pilot for a Fox-TV series titled The Wedding Album. Here, the self-professed diva talks about her new picture, Crossover, where she holds her own as Vanessa, a back-stabbing b-word co-star Wayne Brady's character describes as being "born with larceny in her heart."

KW: How did you like being the villainess in Crossover?

EP: I feel that everyone loves to hate a character. There's always that one  person you love to hate, because it's realistic. There are those conniving,  devious people in the world. So, I loved playing this role. It kind of got  me into the mind of a criminal almost. Just a conniving person. And I had a  really good time with it.

KW: What was the source of your inspiration in playing such a despicable person so convincingly?

EP: I guess it was a girl that I grew up with. It wasn't me, because I was  raised in a family with a mother and father and three brothers. And we ate  dinner together every night at six at the family table. And you had to say  "Excuse me" to use the restroom. So, I think I grew up in a traditional  home. But I was the girl with the friend who was slightly wayward, whose mom  worked a lot of jobs. So, it didn't make a difference one way or another if  she was over my house at 9:30 at night. A lot of my friends grew up in  single-parent homes, or were raised by their grandparents. So, I feel I  played my friends. I definitely accessed the girls I went to high school  with, the girls I went to college with, the girls I hung out with, the girls  my mom didn't want me to hang out with, but I did anyway. I was that girl in  this film.

Please see full interview and article by Kam Williams on - HERE.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Tells His Story

Source: Roz Stevenson PR /

(September 8, 2006)  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in Gridiron Gang as Sean Porter, a juvenile detention camp probation officer, who turns a group of hardcore teenage felons into a winning high school football team in four weeks.     Based on a true story, Gridiron Gang is scheduled for release from Columbia Pictures on September 15th.  The gritty and powerfully emotional story touched a chord with Johnson because it mirrored his experience as a troubled teen whose life was changed by football.    “Gridiron Gang is a powerful example that if you can invest some time and care into a kid, that kid’s life will change,” says the film’s producer Lee Stanley, who initially directed and produced the 1993 Emmy Award-winning documentary of the same name.  No one knows this better than Johnson, who admits, “I had been arrested eight times before I was 14 years old.  However, I was lucky because my arresting officer told me that he was either going to continue to kick my behind and arrest me every week, or take me off the streets and put me into the freshman high school football program. I was fortunate to have someone care enough about what happened to me at that point in my life. He took me out of a bad environment and filled the void in my life with football. It taught me so many things beyond the actual game, like teamwork, sacrifice and choosing to do the right things in life.”  Football became a major influence for the future actor. He excelled at the sport in high school and won a scholarship to the powerhouse football program at the University of Miami in Florida, where he continued to shine as a defensive end, becoming a member of the school’s national championship team in 1989. The following year, however, injuries forced him to abandon his dream of playing professional football.

Johnson remembers being excited when he first heard about Gridiron Gang.  “Producer Neal Moritz asked me to watch the documentary before I read the script.  I did and I was moved and inspired. The battle that Sean Porter and those kids went through was amazing. I liked the fact that most of the young men who accepted the football challenge back then went on to become productive citizens. It made me admire them even more,” he says.  Confronted with gang rivalries and bitter hatred between his teammates, Porter teaches some hard lessons (and learns a few himself) as the kids gain a sense of self-respect and responsibility.  In a world where 75% of these juvenile inmates return to prison or meet with violent ends on the streets, Porter faces seemingly insurmountable barriers. No one wants to compete against convicted criminals, but through relentless pursuit and a jolt of inspiration, Porter and his team fight their way to redemption and a second chance.  Johnson has firmly established himself as an enduring popular film star since his breakout roles in The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King.  Johnson’s next film will be The Game Plan, in which he will portray an NFL quarterback living the bachelor lifestyle until he discovers he has a young daughter from a former relationship.    His most recent release, Southland Tales directed by Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), is set in a dystopian Los Angeles of the near future, portraying an action star stricken with amnesia.  Southland Tales, which was picked as a selection at the Cannes Film Festival, also stars an eclectic cast including Sarah Michelle Gellar and Seann William Scott. 

The actor previously demonstrated his range, earning kudos from critics and audiences alike, as a gay bodyguard and an aspiring singer in Be Cool — a sequel to Get Shorty — alongside John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Vince Vaughn.  Johnson also starred in the 2004 remake of Walking Tall as a sheriff who returns to his hometown after serving in the Army, only to find it corrupted.  Before that, Johnson starred in The Rundown, a critically acclaimed action/comedy co-starring Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson and Christopher Walken that solidified his action hero status.  Born in San Francisco and raised in Hawaii, Dwayne Johnson excelled as a high school All-American and star defensive lineman for the University of Miami Hurricanes, helping lead his team over huge hurdles to become National Champions.  After a stint in the Canadian Football league, a shoulder injury made him consider a different career, and Johnson soon became a third-generation professional wrestler, following the careers of his father, Rocky Johnson, and his grandfather, Samoan High Chief Peter Maivia. In 1996, he joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), later rebranded as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), working his way through the ranks and developing the charismatic and sympathetic character of “The Rock.” In the ring Johnson became heralded as “The People’s Champion” and went on to earn a record as a seven-time league champion.   His eventual love of acting and desire to branch out led to an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in March 2000, where he surprised many with his strength in the comedic ring, leading the show to its highest rating that year. Johnson was subsequently cast by Stephen Sommers in The Mummy Returns, which grossed more than $400 million worldwide. His character was so well received that a sequel was immediately planned. The Scorpion King, released in 2002, broke all box office records with the biggest April opening of all time.  Not content to remain in front of the camera alone, Johnson penned an autobiography, The Rock Says, which reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List shortly after its publication in January 2000.

A devoted husband and father, Johnson resides in Florida with his wife Dany and daughter Simone Alexandra. Columbia Pictures’ Presents In Association With Relativity Media An Original Film Production Gridiron Gang starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Xzibit, Kevin Dunn and Leon Rippy. The film is directed by Phil Joanou and written by Jeff Maguire based on the documentary “Gridiron Gang.” Neal H. Moritz and Lee Stanley are the producers. Michael Rachmil, Shane Stanley, Ryan Kavanaugh and Lynwood Spinks are the executive producers. The director of photography is Jeff Cutter. The production designer is Floyd Albee. The editor is Joel Negron. The co-producer is Amanda Cohen. The costume designer is Sanja Milkovic Hays. The music is by Trevor Rabin.

(Gridiron Gang has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for Some Startling Scenes of Violence, Mature Thematic Material and Language.)

Goodman Grew Up To Play Big Daddy

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Sep. 9, 2006) Call
John Goodman a real Rat Fink, and he'll take it as a compliment.  It means he's done a good job playing one of his childhood heroes, pop culture savant Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, the California car customizer and surreal artist whose "anti-Mickey Mouse" rodent mascot enlivened many a cool kid's T-shirt in the 1950s and '60s. Grunge rockers revived the Rat Fink in the '90s as retro cool, just before Roth headed to that great surf shack in the sky in 2001.  Goodman, 54, grew up idolizing Roth and imitating his drawings — the actor is an artist in more than one medium. And now he's playing Roth, or rather the voice of same, in Ron Mann's Tales of the Rat Fink, an unusual biopic receiving its Canadian premiere next Friday and Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival.  At the time of the interview, Goodman didn't think he'd be able to make it here for the premiere screenings, because of his busy filming schedule.  "I miss Toronto," he said down the wire from Los Angeles, although he calls New Orleans home.  "It's been years since I've been to the festival. It seems that work gets in the way and I miss it."  You know he's sincere in his praise because he calls the city "Tronna," just like a local.  The veteran funny man has several films on the go, including Evan Almighty, the sequel to Bruce Almighty, with Steve Carell filling Jim Carrey's original role as a suddenly deified citizen.  But he's happy to make time to talk about Big Daddy, who was a big influence on him:

Q.        How'd you get into Big Daddy's scene? You grew up in St. Louis, not California.

A.            Somebody published a book I read as a kid, which featured Roth. It had a full page of his drawings, and that's what fascinated me the most. So I started copying them, and then they came out with another magazine called Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, which was the precursor pretty much to underground comics. It was about this outsider character who designs cars. Cars to me at that age were like girls: I knew I'd never get one.

Q.        So Big Daddy taught you to be an artist?

A.            Yeah. That's how I learned to draw a Rat Fink. I was pretty good at it. I'd draw these reproductions of the T-shirts that were incredibly small, so I think that's what ruined my eyesight — among other things. I also used to make the Revell models of his cars. I guess I just loved the smell of airplane glue or something.

Q.            Growing up in St. Louis, California must have seemed like a weird place to you.

A.            Yeah, it was a time when I thought the Hell's Angels were just misunderstood guys wearing Nazi regalia. It was a source of endless fascination.

Q.        Did you ever meet Big Daddy?

A.            Yeah, and it was pure happenstance. I used to have a box in the Superdome in New Orleans. One day I was cleaning it out, which means I was disposing of the liquor that was still in there, and after three hours I came downstairs. They were opening up a car show in the Superdome, and out steps Mr. Roth! He immediately pointed at me and said, "I want you to play me in a movie!"

So we walked back inside and talked for a long time, because I knew quite a bit about him. Everything that ever came up about him I'd read, including his conversion to Mormonism. Big Daddy was a great cat. He gave me a couple of T-shirts and hats and a couple of big red posters. We parted on swell terms, and he died about a year later.

Q.        Did you think the movie Big Daddy wanted was one like Mann's, where talking cars and cartoons tell much of the story?

A.            I don't know, but I think it's the best way to go about it. That's the way to do it. Although I haven't seen Ron's movie yet.

Q.        You haven't seen it yet?

A.            Nope, and I'd love to see it. I wish to hell I could go to Toronto and be there. But I'm going to see it at a festival in St. Louis in October.

Q.        The movie connects Big Daddy with many pop cult trends, including things like Chrysler's retro PT Cruiser and Apple's colourful iMac computers. It makes him seem like California's answer to Andy Warhol.

A.            Yeah, but he was doing it before Warhol. The first hot rodders were like abstract expressionists, and they were a restless bunch, building machines out of scraps. They formed these motorcycle clubs — who later became incredibly dangerous people — but they were true outsiders. I reckon if you'd put them into art school they would have become something like Warhol's Factory.

Q.        What's the appeal of a guy like Big Daddy?

A.            To me it was just the outsider status, the weirdness of it. I grew up reading MAD magazine, so it was a similar appeal for me. I never quite fit in. There was an exotica to the automobile — almost an erotica, quite frankly — because as I poor kid I thought I'd never own one.

It was just all unavailable and outside and very, very, very funny.

First Pitch Expo Attracts More Than 70 Writers Studio Executives

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Sep. 7, 2006) Here's the pitch: you've got 10 minutes to sell your script idea, face to face with a TV or film executive who could give you your big break. Now go.  That's the idea beyond the first
Toronto Pitch Expo, held yesterday in advance of the Toronto International Film Festival, which begins today.  Co-organizers Kim Sparks and Michaele Raske said similar events are common at other film festivals and, of course, in Hollywood, so why not here?  "You have all these wonderful (studio) executives coming in from all over the country, all over the world, plus all the ones we already have here in Toronto, all converging in one spot. So we thought, they're always receptive to great ideas, they're always looking for that next great thing," Sparks said.  "Often it's really hard for the person who's just starting out or who has done just a few things to get access to people (in the industry). So it's like bringing the people who have the ideas to the people who want the ideas," she added.  "That's a room full of opportunity," Raske said, pointing to the large conference room in the downtown Holiday Inn filled with tables, each with an aspiring screenwriter on one side and an entertainment executive on the other. "We're not re-inventing the wheel here. This is happening in other centres.  "We just couldn't understand why there wasn't one in Toronto; it's such a great film centre," she added.

"One pitcher already came out and said, `I think I've sold my movie.' He's had three meetings and every single (executive) asked to read the script," Sparks said.  The more than 70 participants, each of whom paid about $200 to attend, are given brief pitching workshops and then allowed to meet with each of the 19 executives in attendance throughout the day.  The time allotment is 10 minutes "to the second," with a 30-second warning bell to give the presenter a chance to wrap up.  Aron Dunn, development manager for Portfolio Entertainment, which produces the popular Carl Squared kids show, said the pitch expo is "a great concept."  "We're all busy people, but ideas are the lifeblood of our business.  "For people with not a lot of experience or connections or pedigree to ... get face time with the decision-makers is a wonderful opportunity," Dunn said.  Jason Daley of Ottawa made the drive to Toronto with a briefcase full of scripts and script ideas from members of his writing group, plus a few projects of his own.  For his efforts, he has been offered a coveted "follow-up meeting," he said.  "You get immediate opportunity that would otherwise take months. You get immediate feedback. I use a lot of ... enthusiasm to help sell a project. So you win people over with a face-to-face, enthusiastic, right-on-the-mark type of pitch," Daley said.  "I found in Ottawa, there are really not as many opportunities to really get in front of the people that really make the project happen," Daley said, adding he is considering organizing a similar event there in advance of the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association annual meeting.

Grace Bogaert, who has written 14 feature scripts, said events like this are preferable to trying to get a meeting or even a phone call from a studio executive.  "It also gets you geared up, it gets you organized ... it focuses you. Otherwise, I would just prefer to sit down and spend my day writing.  "But at some point, you've got to get out there and market. So this is a great venue for that," Bogaert said.  "I have 20 people a day calling me. I don't have any trouble (hearing from people). It's tough to connect with people who have good ideas," said Lesley Grant, head of drama development for Barna-Alper Productions, Canada's leading independent production company.  Grant said she was impressed with the calibre of proposals pitched yesterday, though she was understandably mum on the specifics.  Raske said the event already has some interested studio executives committed to attending next year.

Adrien Brody, Diane Lane and director Allen Coulter demystify Superman

Excerpt from - By Marie Moore

(September 7, 2006)  *In “Hollywoodland” Ben Affleck portrays George Reeves, ‘the heroic Man of Steel” on TV’s “Adventures of Superman.” Unfortunately, Ben Affleck was only available for specific interviews but director
Allen Coulter says Affleck the consummate professional…”I never worked with an actor who did more research for a role.” Unlike some directors—one in particular that did not ask a 9/11 survivor if one of his rescuers was black--Coulter did his homework also. The hotspot in 1959, Ciro’s, was favoured by the rich and famous. Although there is not that many people around from 1959 Coulter could consult with, he did make an effort. “I wish I had met more people I could’ve have talked to, but you don’t know how to find them. I did speak to the parents of my agent Herb and Linda Smith just to find out things like how many black people would’ve been at Ciro’s, things like that, you know, and a lot of photo research.” Academy Award winner Adrien Brody, who is investigating Reeves death in “Holywoodland,” admitted he did not do any research into the character’s demise. “What I was interested in was Reeves as the person,” Brody explained. “Nobody really referred to him as Reeves. “It was Superman and not the man. I think in the beginning Simo (Brody) starts out with a certain amount of apathy. He craves what George caves, more success and respect and think that will bring him fulfillment.”  Although he has an Oscar, Brody says that is not what drove him as an actor. It was an honour to get it, but that was not my motivation. I struggled as an actor, was broke and I paid dues for many years. I’ve seen both sides but don’t crave for more recognition, just more great roles.” Brody starred in the 1998 film “Restaurant” with Elise Neal, Simon Baker, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Jesse Martin. He had a serious jones for ex-girlfriend in the film, Lauryn Hill, and never got over being dumped by her.

Diane Lane, who is Reeves older paramour, Toni Mannix, acknowledge that back then as well as in today’s Hollywood, “ambition is still almost a dirty word in a sense. You’re confessing a want. If you’re confessing a want, you’re not confessing a have. So you’re in a position of give me, which means you can be manipulated, which means you can be lead astray in terms of what you would do to get what you want. That’s a dangerous position to find yourself in morally sometimes.” Lane went on to say that back in the day, however, people went to great lengths to cover up, unlike today’s Hollywoodland. “In those days it was the opposite. I think they were interested in protecting people’s image because they were the closest things we had to royalty. There was a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, covering up, going to desperate lengths to conceal the truth about something. Whereas as today, it’s the opposite. People can’t wait to flaunt their true selves and demystify any myth that may remain about somebody in the public’s eye.”

Christina Ricci: Penelope

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Tralee Pearce

(Sept. 11, 2006) The Star:
Christina Ricci, the Snow White starlet of Hollywood. The 26-year-old got her big gothy break in The Addams Family in 1991, a year after her debut in 1990's Mermaids. After 1995's Casper, the child actor grew up, signing on for a string of intriguing flicks including The Ice Storm and Buffalo '66. Up next is a turn as a sex-addicted girl in Black Snake Moan from director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) in 2007. Nominated for an Emmy this year for a role in Grey's Anatomy.

The Movie: Penelope. Directed by Mark Palansky, and also starring James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, Richard E. Grant and Reese Witherspoon (who also produces). It's a modern fairy tale in which a generations-old family curse presents itself as a pig's snout on the face of a baby girl. The curse will only be broken if the family can find a suitable suitor for Penelope. She is rejected repeatedly and entertains the notion that she just might stay the way she is for the rest of her life. But, this being a fairy tale, there just might be a Prince Charming. **½ (Screening Friday, 7:15 p.m., Isabel Bader Theatre.)

The Story: Christina Ricci insists it's not all that hard to reconcile the role of fur-wrapped cover babe on the current W magazine with one as an ill-fated, pig-faced girl. Behind that couture-ready bod, enormous smoky eyes and crimson lips is the same girl who battled weight issues and anorexia as a teen.  "You can always remember your awkward moments. They are seared into your memory," she says, sitting up straight on a hotel banquette in a ladylike black jacket and very skinny jeans. "For me, I'll always feel like that fat 15-year old.  "It was hell. I was so depressed. I know that feeling."

Ricci says it was easy to dredge this stuff up each time she donned the prosthetic nose. Inventing a persona that could soar above it was more work. "For Penelope, a pig nose? Poor girl. For her to still be finding joy in life -- that's what makes her so incredible." As much as Ricci has embraced outsider roles and a decidedly non-Lindsay Lohan fame, she's also not down with the tag "sexpot for losers," given to her by W magazine. "I find it kind of offensive, actually," she says, adding that her boyfriend, Adam Goldberg, has chosen, wisely, not to say anything. "I just don't get 'losers.' How horrible. Great. Thanks a lot." Then again, she says she's not used to the whole idea of being a sexpot to anyone. "As a woman, it's great to dress up and feel sexy, but people do assume that you are trying to be seen that way. I'm not comfortable with that. I think I have a much more puritanical view of myself. It's not important to me that I walk into a room and have everyone sexually attracted to me."

Sean Penn: All The King's Men

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(Sept. 12, 2006) The scene: The hardest thing for guests who attended the Sunday-night cocktail party for the film
All the King's Men at Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz's home was trying to figure out what objet d'art to ogle next, or which cavernous room to prowl through. Fifteen-metre ceilings in the grand rooms, an outdoor gazebo bigger than a single-family home by the Danforth, and a glass-walled exercise house better equipped that most public gyms. But did it make the movie's star, Sean Penn, blink? Forget it. With gorgeous, leggy wife Robin Wright Penn in tow, Penn charged through the mansion to the patio, where he could spark up a smoke. Seems even he wouldn't dream of lighting up in Heather's house. (Reisman and Schwartz's Phoenix Pictures produced the film.) The movie: Steven Zaillian's ambitious adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, based loosely on the career of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long. Penn stars as Willie Stark, an idealistic everyman who turns corrupt. Jude Law is cast as a southern journalist who becomes Stark's chief aide. The film also stars Kate Winslet, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Patricia Clarkson, and James Gandolfini. The story: Penn sits at the head of the press conference table, his slim shoulders slumped, puffing away. A sneer is always just a tug of the lip away. While he's surrounded by considerable talent, it's still the Sean Penn show. He knows it. We know it. His acting comrades know it. The attitude is instinctual, and also a hugely effective way of keeping the press timid and meek. Today, most of the questions are downright insipid. Though never known for his patience, Penn holds his temper; he seems bored and almost amused by the ludicrousness of the spectacle before him.

There's talk Penn's performance could get him another Oscar nod. In the film, his accent is thick, his rhetoric strong. He plays a man who starts out as a God-fearing pedagogue and ends up a whisky-swilling demagogue. It's a character Penn clearly relished. But he doesn't take any credit for the bombastic character, insisting the book and the script's portrayal of the man were so good. All he had to do, he says, was show up, compromise and interpret a little.  Always ready to tear a strip off a politician, he explains that the story of a corrupt governor is relevant today. "Once upon a time, politics was the organization of things to benefit the people. And they are not [that way], currently, in the White House." Then he smiled and gave his profession a dig: "The definition of a politician has changed just like the definition of a good actor is now 'contest winner.' " His edge disappeared, though, the instant he left the media room. Walking through the Sutton Place Hotel to get into his black SUV, Penn rode the elevator with the fans, signing autographs and offering some half-smiles and grunts. His subjects were thrilled.

The Hilarity That Started With Spinal Tap Continues With For Your Consideration

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem, Entertainment Reporter

(Sep. 12, 2006) Two years ago,
Christopher Guest was ready to abandon the unique improvisational filmmaking form he essentially invented, along with director Rob Reiner, on This is Spinal Tap, the 1984 mock rock doc, and later refined to high comic art with his own improv ensemble comedies, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.  Fortunately for us, it didn't take. And thus, a fourth film, For Your Consideration, premiered Sunday (as did the previous three) at the Toronto International Film Festival.  It's scheduled to open in mid-November.  By the end of A Mighty Wind's theatrical run, Guest was widely quoted as saying he no longer wanted to make improv comedies. Which is pretty much what he said after Guffman. And again following Best in Show.  "Sure, I think about it," he shrugs. "You always think about that. It's two years of work — from my standpoint, very hard work. This one was the hardest by far. And then you look over at the actors, and they seem to be having so much fun ...  "Because they're all so good, they work a lot. So they go off, and maybe six months later, Michael (McKean) has done three more movies, and Gene (Levy) has just wrapped something else, and Parker (Posey) has done literally six other movies between the beginning of this one and now ... and I'm still sitting in an editing room.  "But it's not even that so much. Maybe it's just that, as you change — if you do change, and I think I have — you look at your life and wonder if you should be doing something else."  Yet, from his actors' point of view, nothing else can even remotely compare.  Still aglow from the previous evening's rapturously received premiere, the mutual respect and admiration, the shared joy of being here and all together again, can barely be contained.  "If we had to come in and do three of these a year, it might lose a little of its lustre," allows Levy, Guest's writing partner on the 25-page breakdowns that constitute each film's "script."  "But every three years, it's like a nice little sorbet. It cleanses the palate."  According to Harry Shearer, who goes back with Guest all the way to Spinal Tap, it sometimes makes it hard to return to more conventional filmmaking.

"It's my personal fear that a director who I don't know or trust is going to say to me (after a perfect take), `Okay, now let's do one bigger.' And that's the take he's going to use. And I'm going to look like a total schmuck.  "Chris, I know, is not going to do that. What he did on this — and I really noticed it last night, seeing it for the second time — he really only used my best stuff. With Chris, you can relax. It's the trust he has in you, and the trust you have in him."  The ad hoc stock company also includes Levy's fellow SCTV alum, Catherine O'Hara — particularly prominent here — their Toronto Second City successors Don Lake and Deborah Theater, American character veterans Fred Willard, Larry Miller, Bob Balaban and Ed Begley Jr., and increasingly familiar faces Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde), Jane Lynch (40-Year-Old Virgin), John Michael Higgins (The Late Shift) and Rachael Harris (Fat Actress).  British comedy phenom Ricky Gervais, an avowed Guest fan, is a new addition to the group.  All of Guest's films tend to revolve around deluded, deranged or damaged characters who aspire to something well beyond their reach: in this case, the mostly talentless actors in a cheesy period melodrama, Home for Purim, several of whom are suddenly and inexplicably rumoured to be in the running for an Oscar.  The initial inspiration was the unexpected — but not, in his case, unwarranted — Oscar talk surrounding Levy's lead performance in A Mighty Wind.  Yet For Your Consideration is also a departure from that, and from the two previous films, in that it abandons the traditional mockumentary conceit in favour of a more linear narrative.  "Using the documentary format is ultimately much easier, in creating a script and in editing," explains Guest.

"We've done three films that way, and this was a deliberate choice to change that. Although it was actually way harder for me, especially in the editing room."  Another defining aspect of the Guest improv oeuvre is the importance of hair in creating the characters, a collaborative process involving not only the actors, but also Canadian stylist Judy Cooper-Sealy, who first worked her mane magic with Levy and O'Hara in the glory days of SCTV.  "The hair thing happens in all of the movies," Guest concedes. "But this one is really the king of that world."  "There is a lot of hair action," Levy concurs.  Indeed, it is all about the hair, from Willard's ludicrous "faux-hawk" as a sleazy TV host, to Levy's balding crooner's coif as an inept agent, to O'Hara's alternating Aunt Bea/Karen Black look as Purim's skittishly self-conscious star.  And there is Guest himself — the director playing the director of the film within the film — his shaved pate fringed by a vertical frizz that Levy describes as "Art Garfunkel as a pre-teenager."  "There are six to eight unbelievable hair items in this movie," Guest confirms.  "It's just a glorious thing that actors love, because it really is a completion of something."  "It's self-expression," elaborates fellow Tap cast member McKean, whose own follicle choice was a bushy beard, a holdover from a play he was doing in Williamstown. ("I played a college professor who thought it looked real foxy — sort of a Monty Woolley syndrome.")  "The hair," he insists, "is a key to the character, from the inside and from the outside.  "I mean, these people all look in the mirror and what they're saying on some level is, `This works for me.'  "And they're dead wrong."

Young Reggae Stars As Relevant As Their Elders

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Sep. 13, 2006) Jamaica's cultural complexity is aptly illustrated by a couple of interesting claims in the documentary
Made in Jamaica, which premieres at TIFF today: the Caribbean island has more recording studios per square mile than any other country — all booked around the clock — as well as the greatest number of churches.  With Made in Jamaica, French director Jérôme Laperrousaz, 58, has returned to the island where he shot 1980's Prisoners in the Street: Third World that explored Jamaica and reggae through the band Third World. He explores the links between current hardcore dancehall stars Bounty Killa, Lady Saw and Elephant Man and their subtler roots-reggae predecessors such as Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs and Beres Hammond.  A blend of interviews, live events and staged performances, the film's central theme is that while the young 'uns employ overtly sexual and gangster imagery, their music still confronts socio-political issues, such as poverty, religion and women's rights, thereby rendering continuity with their musical forefathers.  The Star spoke with Laperrousaz from his home in Paris.

Q.        As a Paris native, when was your first exposure to reggae?

A.            I started very young doing short films and I became a TV director at 18. Then I connected to music, because I was doing a program involving youth. I was often in England where I discovered ska and rock steady through artists like the Skattalites, Jimmy Cliff and The Wailers. I was very interested in the music, not only the beat, but because it was a kind of social comment on everyday life.

Q.        Who was the first reggae artist you met?

A.            Bob Marley in 1978. I had expressed to people that I was very interested to meet this man. He came to France and met with me and saw some of my work, and we agreed to do a film together. But then it took some time and Bob got sick (and died in 1981)."

Q.        Would it have been a concert film?

A.            No, more like a feature film, but a very subjective portrait. My way to work is like having my own vision of someone and then making him playing his own part, playing his life, but then I do some directing.

Q.        What was the impetus for Made in Jamaica?

A.            To report what was going on with reggae 25 years after (Prisoners in the Street). Some of the young dancehall artists are carrying very interesting lyrics. Some of the lyrics are very hardcore, but some of the artists are writing very well. It's a kind of street poetry that is very strong and vibrant social comment, like the generation before them was doing. There's not really much difference between the old generation and the new generation. They are all coming from the ghetto, they all go through the same kind of difficulties. I think that what they are talking about puts a magnifying lens on Jamaica, but it can be applied to inner city ghettos in Los Angeles or New York or San Paulo, or ... Paris.

Q.        Why does the film cover every other significant aspect of contemporary reggae and duck the controversy over some artists' homophobic lyrics?

A.            I did touch on it in interviews (that were not included in the film), but I think to express and explain it takes a lot of time and for me to treat it in two sentences would have been stupid. It relates to very strong religious beliefs and, I think, the reminiscence of the violence and abuse of slavery. But my point of view regarding that was very clear: it was (in the contract signed by the musicians) that in my film there would be no discrimination at all, because I'm against any kind of discrimination.

Q.        Should this film be considered a documentary, given the number of staged events?

A.            The way I proceed is with people playing their own parts, but I'm not just following someone with a camera. There is lighting set up and framing of the shots and a sort of script. And there are several takes, like a feature film from fiction. I develop relationships where I get to know them very well and they understand what I am looking for. ... I want the viewer to share my point of view, it's like being part of the creative process. Like when you see Toots (Hibbert) working in the studio, it's just like looking over his shoulder. All that creates this kind of intimacy. I have a very precise point of view, and at same time I'm trying to transmit the emotion and the beauty of what I see to the viewers.

Made in Jamaica premieres today at 2 p.m. and screens again on Friday at 9 p.m. at the ROM


Revue Cinema Sold In Private

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Alwynne Gwilt, Entertainment Reporter

(Sep. 7, 2006) The show might still go on at the
Revue Cinema, despite disappointing news that a volunteer Save the Revue film group was denied the opportunity to obtain the 1912 theatre.  "We wanted to rejuvenate it as a really unique theatre ... (but) the owners have given priority to a private bidder to purchase the cinema," said Arleen Schenke, a member of the volunteer-run steering committee, yesterday morning.  In June, the theatre owners announced their intention to shut down and possibly demolish the Roncesvalles Ave. cinema, which is one of the longest running theatres in Ontario, never having closed its doors in its 84-year history.  In the six weeks since, area residents formed the committee and were able to raise more than $30,000 in a bid to rent the theatre, with plans to continue running its eclectic mix of avant-garde and foreign films.  But all is not lost. The bidding company has made it known they may not demolish the historic building, according to the citizen group.  "They've expressed an interest in continuing to operate the theatre as a cinema," said Schenke, adding that although there are no promises, it at least gives committee members hope the campaign was not a loss.  The brokers, XL Retail Commercial Services, declined comment.

Bollywood Stars Thrill Fans

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Prithi Yelaja, Staff Reporter

(Sep. 11, 2006) Maeesha and Shaguftah Patel had taken the GO bus from Hamilton and staked out their spots along the red carpet at Roy Thompson Hall since 10 a.m. but declared the three-hour wait was well worth it.  The cousins got a chance to see superstars
Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, as well as director Karan Johar, up close when the trio arrived yesterday afternoon for the sold-out gala premiere of their Bollywood film Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (Never Say Goodbye).  "I can't believe it. I actually touched Shah Rukh's hand," said a still awestruck Maeesha, 16. "They're both even better looking in person." Added Shaguftah, "We know all their movies by heart. They're the greatest Bollywood stars ever."  The Patels tried but failed to get a ticket to the gala, though they have already seen the movie twice, which has been playing at desi theatres in Scarborough and Mississauga since its release on Aug. 11, and "loved it."  They were among hundreds of screaming fans who chanted "Shah Rukh, Shah Rukh," and "Amitabh, Amitabh" as the actors stopped to sign autographs and shake hands before the show.  "Amitabh is the King of Bollywood and Shah Ruk is the prince," said Khushi Chachcha, 15, of Toronto, proudly showing off her autographs.  But Tarif Rahman, 15, of Toronto, was slightly disappointed. "I was here to see Rani (Mukherji). I was so upset when she didn't come. She's so beautiful and a fantastic actress."  Mukherji, the female lead in the film, was scheduled to be at the gala but had to cancel at the last minute because she could not get a Canadian visa in time, organizers said.  Later, Johar, Bachchan and Khan headed across town for a panel discussion event. Fans camped out there roared when they spotted a SUV going by. But it was a case of mistaken identity. The Bollywood stars had entered through the back door.  The guy in the SUV? Dustin Hoffman — who waved to the crowd before being driven off.

Pan African Film Festival Seeks Submissions

Excerpt from

(September 7, 2006) *The
Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF), said to be America's largest and most prestigious black film and arts festival, continues to accept submissions for their 15th annual signature event taking place February 8-19, 2007 in Los Angeles.     The PAFF is currently accepting submissions of independent features, shorts, narratives and documentary films and videos made by and/or about people of African descent. (Filmmaker needn't be of African descent.)     Films should preferably depict positive and realistic images and can be of any genre ---- drama, comedy, horror, adventure, animation, romance, science fiction, experimental, etc. PAFF will accept submissions of works in progress; however, films and videos must be completed no later than December 31, 2006.     Applications in English and French are available via the PAFF website at or by calling (323) 295-1706.

Ellen DeGeneres Tapped To Host Oscars

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Sep. 8, 2006) LOS ANGELES—
Ellen DeGeneres has been tapped to host next year's Oscars.  It will be the comedian and TV talker's first time hosting the Oscars show and first appearance on the award show. She has hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast twice and co-hosted it once, and hosted the Grammys twice.  "Ellen DeGeneres was born to host the Academy Awards," said producer Laura Ziskin in a statement. "I can already tell she is going to set the bar very high for herself and therefore for all of us involved in putting on the show. Now all we need is a lot of great movies.''  The 79th Annual Academy Awards are scheduled to be broadcast live from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 25. This year's Oscarcast, in March, was fronted by The Daily Show's host Jon Stewart.  DeGeneres is the host of the syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which has won 15 Daytime Emmys since going on the air in 2003.  DeGeneres also starred in the ABC sitcom Ellen, which aired between 1994 and 1998, and the CBS sitcom, The Ellen Show,' which ran 2001-2002. She has also been a regular in films and has authored several books.  "When Laura Ziskin called, I was thrilled," said DeGeneres in a statement. "There's two things I've always wanted to do in my life. One is to host the Oscars. The second is to get a call from Laura Ziskin. You can imagine that day's diary entry.''

Woodard, Merkerson, Pounder Climb ‘Mountain’

Excerpt from

(September 12, 2006) *Alfre Woodard, S. Epatha Merkerson, CCH Pounder and Regina Taylor are set to begin production on the new feature film “Up the Mountain,” a drama about the importance of sibling bonds. The movie, which follows three sisters at crossroads in their lives, was written and will be directed by Kevin Arcadie, executive producer of Showtime’s "Soul Food" and co-creator of "New York Undercover." His script was adapted from the award-winning play of the same name. Also starring Harry Lennix, “Up the Mountain” is described as a “sometimes funny and bittersweet examination of three sisters who have chosen completely different paths in their lives and now, in one emotional and trying weekend, must try to reconcile the past so they can move forward in their lives.” Principal photography is slated to begin in late October in Asheville, North Carolina, with 2nd Unit photography to be shot in West Virginia.  Pounder, Arkadie and Forrest Murray (“Spitfire Grill,” “Bob Roberts”) are producing the project, which is being financed through Ivory Coast Pictures and private investment.

EUR DVD REVIEW: Black. White.

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(September 12, 2006) *Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk around in a different color skin? This is the social experiment at the center of "Black. White," a riveting reality series which originally aired on the FX Network this past Spring. The show stars two families, one black, one white. The Sparks, Brian, Rene, and their 17 year-old son, Nick, are African-American, while The Wurgels, Bruno, Carmen, and their 18 year-old daughter, Rose, are Caucasian. But not for long, since the idea of the program is to allow each to get a good idea of how the other half lives. So, every day for the duration of the series, they all lived together and underwent elaborate transformations in order to be able to pass. For instance, the debut episode featured Brian buying shoes as a white man, and being shocked to have an affable salesman happily help him slip samples on and off. Later, he takes a job as a bartender and is quite surprised to hear a customer go on endlessly about the virtues of living in a lily-white neighbourhood. Rose, meanwhile, who, by the way, actually looks better black than white, ventures into South Central, where she takes a course in poetry slam. Though she’s the only one whose make-up leaves her looking human, she is apparently the most conflicted about trying to trick strangers into believing she's really black.

For full review by Kam Williams, CLICK HERE.

Chris Tucker On Mijac, Africa And ‘Rush’ Paycheck

Excerpt from

(Sept. 11, 2006)   *In an exclusive interview with the New York Post’s “Page Six” column,
Chris Tucker talks about his $25 million payday for “Rush Hour 3,” his spiritual transformation while visiting Africa and the little known fact that Michael Jackson is actually pretty funny.  "He does this impression of my voice and it's really hilarious," Tucker said of the King of Pop.  Tucker also finds hilarious the hubbub surrounding his $25 million salary for starring in “Rush Hour 3,” due in theatres next summer.  "People hear about how much money I'm making, and it's funny," he says. "A lot of humour ends up coming along with it, because the truth is I haven't even had any money in a while, well, besides a credit card. When you do earn a lot, you don't even see it. I have to borrow money from people."  Tucker also reflected on his time spent in Africa with rocker/humanitarian Bono and former president Bill Clinton.  "We went on a fact-finding mission. Bono showed me a spiritual way to view things and how to use contacts to raise money,” Tucker said.  "After seeing all these people dying, and the lack of clean water, plus the hospitals filled with sick babies, I started the Chris Tucker Foundation to help them."  Currently touring the country in his show “Nationwide One-Night Stands," Tucker says his schedule prevents him from settling down with a significant other.  "I have a lot on my plate right now," he said. "It's time to work, love is for later." 



Canada's Rabble-Rousing Royal

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Val Ross

(Sept. 9, 20060
Hello! magazine knows its royalty. When it launched its Canadian edition last month, it replaced the usual House of Bourbon, House of Windsor faces on its cover with Canada's own House of Trudeau. For Alexandre Trudeau, 32, former war reporter, Maclean's magazine's man in Baghdad, and founding partner of JuJu Films, whose latest production is Secure Freedom, the family name may carry a lot of baggage, but the main thing is that it opens doors and draws viewers' attention. Secure Freedom, which will broadcast tomorrow night on CTV, is a personal and unabashedly tendentious look at Canada's use of security certificates and two of the Muslim men who have been held without charges, forbidden to see the evidence against them, all in the name of national security. For a narrative thread, Trudeau relies on his own growing involvement in the case of one of the detained, Hassan Almrei, a man who freely admits he procured a fake passport and trained in Afghanistan for jihad. The film follows Trudeau as he visits the man in a Toronto detention centre and chats with his lawyers and supporters. Trudeau even makes a court appearance, where he offers to stand bail. Sitting in a flashy Toronto bar over an ascetic cup of tea, Trudeau says he made the film, and got involved personally, because “I believe in due process, whatever the stakes. That's what makes Canada a civilized country.” Naturally, media types can't resist reminding Pierre Trudeau's son that in 1970 his own father suspended due process with the War Measures Act. “Yes, they throw this in your face,” he acknowledges. “But the War Measures Act was in effect for a month; some of these people have been detained for five years. And my father admitted they were harsh measures and that he could sympathize with those who protested against them.”

Besides, he says, the pressure to put himself in his films “originally came from outside — there was an appetite to see me. I chose to embrace that, and to control it. I am just a character in the film directed by a person who also happens to be me.” Where Pierre Trudeau showed a cool, amused, offhand contempt for the press, Alexandre presents as hot-headed, gutsy and intensely sincere, an impression heightened by his wide-eyed, square-jawed face. He's unafraid to declare, in his voiceover script, that he may be “naive” but he likes Almrei. He is unembarrassed to confide in an interview that he regards Nawara, a beautiful young Syrian civil-rights worker in his film, as “kind of holy.” He studied metaphysics at McGill University, and says that he has always been an idealist “in all senses of the word. I believe the world is made up of ideas. Matter is an idea.” He describes himself as “a cross between a radical cynic and an ever-hopeful idealist. I am certainly mistrustful of any notion of truth as purveyed by government — or journalism.” Later this year, Secure Freedom may be overtaken by events should the Supreme Court of Canada rule against aspects of the constitutionality of security certificates. “Everything you see in my Baghdad film [ Embedded in Baghdad] has since been destroyed, burned, lost,” he shrugs. “But that makes a film historic, not outdated. First and foremost, I am an artist, not a journalist. I stopped studying philosophy because only in art can the deepest ideas, the how of what is, be pondered.” He adds, with only the trace of a smile: “That sounds awfully grand for a young man.” He doesn't seem to mind at all. Secure Freedom airs tomorrow night at 7 EDT on CTV.

Joan Donaldson, 60

Source: Canadian Press

(Sept. 9, 2006) TORONTO —
Joan Donaldson, the first head of CBC Newsworld, died Thursday night in Victoria at the age of 60. Donaldson had been ailing since being severely injured when she was struck by a bicycle in 1990 in Montreal, an accident that ended her journalism career. Janice Ward, a director at Newsworld, helped Donaldson launch the all-news channel in 1989. “At a time when no one believed in starting a news network in Canada, Joan believed that Canadians could connect to each other,” said Ward. “That was her passion, that regions of Canada can be connected and they hear about stories, and that its not boring, and that it's important.” Donaldson, born in Toronto, joined the CBC in 1967 as an editor with “National Radio News.”  During her time with CBC Radio, she served as senior editor of “The World at Six” and “Sunday Morning Magazine.” She later went to CBC Winnipeg in 1971 to produce the evening news show “24 Hours.” Two years later, she returned Toronto as a producer on “Newsmagazine.”

After a five-year stint as a field producer on CTV's “W5,” Donaldson joined Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in 1975 as an instructor in broadcast journalism, and also taught journalism at the University of Western Ontario.  It was her role as a teacher and mentor that left a lasting impression on those who knew her. Rae Hull, regional director for CBC-TV in British Columbia, knew Donaldson as a teacher, mentor and even boss. She said that Donaldson's selflessness had a profound impact on her. “Joan Donaldson was a woman with an incredible brain, but she never ever forgot to use her heart as well,” said Hull. “She had an enormous generosity of spirit that it didn't matter how big her position was, or how busy she was, she always seemed to have time for journalism students, for friends who needed advice.”  As a tribute to Donaldson's contribution to CBC and her dedication to mentoring young students, Ward established the CBC Newsworld Joan Donaldson Scholarship for aspiring journalists which gives eight journalism students a chance to work at CBC.  “Joan believed in developing young people, and giving them a chance, and that's what this scholarship is — her legacy,” said Ward.

TV Offers Art History Lessons In The Buff

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Goddard

(Sep. 9, 2006) There are those who might suspect the motives behind
Bravo!'s decision to kick off the new television season with The Art of Nude Modelling Monday at 10:30 p.m. and for the following five Mondays as well. Could it be our terribly serious arts channel is pulling a Jerry Springer on us?  Well, suspicions should be put aside with the knowledge that the fourth episode — dealing with the multi-layered and historically rich relationship involving models and artists — has quite a serious discussion about Le Bain Turc (1862) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the French painter who had one of his orientaliste moments as he went about painting this famous harem scene.  Le Bain Turc was considered quite respectable in its day, although the painting's tondo, or oval, shape gives the impression we're peering at the harem through a peephole. So that's good news for the terribly serious out there. There's even better news for the not terribly serious who may want to ogle bodies just because they are absolutely buck-naked. For them, the series restages the very same Ingres painting using a posse of young, lithe, contemporary female models, packing them together like so many seals sunning themselves on barren rocks.  The fact is, this is a historically incorrect recreation. Ingres didn't need live models for his tableau, being a smart old guy with a pretty sharp memory for detail. However, this didn't hamper the producers' enthusiasm to get the clothes off as many people as possible. There's even an all-male semi-reconstruction of the Ingres harem scene, perhaps as a teaser to get interested parties to switch on Episodes 5 and 6, which look at gay male and lesbian modelling.  The Art of Nude Modelling does represent a television first of sorts by offering art history lessons in the buff. For example, Monday's episode presents a brief lesson from a topless model on the proportionality of breasts drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. The Ontario College of Art and Design might want to try this as an antidote to declining student interest in historical matters.  "We didn't want to go through history in a linear way," says co-producer Bernard Herbert of the Montréal-based production house Ciné Qua Non Films. "We wanted the models to describe the work they do from inside the experience. Are they involved with making artwork?"

"Yes," is the answer most often heard throughout the series, at least from the models. In fact, the series' coup is its interview in Episode 3 with Dina Vierny, a regal 87-year-old French woman who modelled for Henri Matisse and Aristide Maillol. Sitting as firm as the Rock of Gibraltar and looking a whole lot tougher, Vierny insists that sex was never ever the main issue, although it was never entirely absent either. However, she felt she was a collaborator in the artistic process, particularly with Maillol.  Toronto models I contacted to gain a bit more perspective on the TV series seemed far more concerned about the lack of money they received — $18.75 an hour is the union rate — than the lack of respect. "They have nothing to paint if I'm not there," says pro model Gaye Boston, being practical about it. "The only time I ever feel vulnerable is at a private sitting when I feel that things are not quite right."  Most models in The Art of Nude Modelling "say they're only sitting and posing," producer Herbert goes on. "They speak of the skills they need. They talk of meditation. But Matisse wanted to be near his model" — a still photo shows the painter, then an old man, inches away from the figure — "to feel her emotions, to feel what the (model) was giving him. For him, the model was far more than an academic reference."  The interaction of model and artist is threaded through the entirety of art's history, a subject The Art of Nude Modelling treats warily as if it were talking to pre-schoolers, while dragging out clichés about "accepting one's body with all its imperfections." (In fact, the large-size female models shown and discussed in Episode 4 appear to have inspired some of the better contemporary art shown in a series that is otherwise bereft of the stuff. Maybe we can credit "Big" Sue Tilley, Lucian Freud's large-size model, for this trend.)  But that's about as far as it goes. The many tangled, dramatic and mysterious model-artist relationships are skimmed over. And broader cultural questions about the model-artist relationship — the European art historical vision of the female as nature itself, just waiting to be shaped into a male-pleasing form — are left unasked and hence unanswered.  Yes, some questions about the dominance of the male gaze are brought up alongside the work of French painter Suzanne Valadon, a model for Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas — to name two artists — who turned into an exceptional painter, particularly of realistic female nudes. And a mention of Welsh-American artist Sylvia Sleigh's painting, Philip Golub Reclining (1971), in the series' fourth episode, provides a quick tour around the feminist take on the nude model.  But that's about it. Then again, that may be just enough. If it scores huge ratings, The Art of Nude Modelling could easily evolve into a terrific how-to show, with its many specific hints on how to tense one's bare bum for profit if not for fun. Otherwise, the series is long on atmosphere — beaches are everywhere and the music is one elevator short of being pure Muzak — and even longer on slow-motion shots over naked bodies.

TV Offers Art History Lessons In The Buff

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Goddard

(Sep. 9, 2006) There are those who might suspect the motives behind
Bravo!'s decision to kick off the new television season with The Art of Nude Modelling Monday at 10:30 p.m. and for the following five Mondays as well. Could it be our terribly serious arts channel is pulling a Jerry Springer on us?  Well, suspicions should be put aside with the knowledge that the fourth episode — dealing with the multi-layered and historically rich relationship involving models and artists — has quite a serious discussion about Le Bain Turc (1862) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the French painter who had one of his orientaliste moments as he went about painting this famous harem scene.  Le Bain Turc was considered quite respectable in its day, although the painting's tondo, or oval, shape gives the impression we're peering at the harem through a peephole. So that's good news for the terribly serious out there. There's even better news for the not terribly serious who may want to ogle bodies just because they are absolutely buck-naked. For them, the series restages the very same Ingres painting using a posse of young, lithe, contemporary female models, packing them together like so many seals sunning themselves on barren rocks.  The fact is, this is a historically incorrect recreation. Ingres didn't need live models for his tableau, being a smart old guy with a pretty sharp memory for detail. However, this didn't hamper the producers' enthusiasm to get the clothes off as many people as possible. There's even an all-male semi-reconstruction of the Ingres harem scene, perhaps as a teaser to get interested parties to switch on Episodes 5 and 6, which look at gay male and lesbian modelling.  The Art of Nude Modelling does represent a television first of sorts by offering art history lessons in the buff. For example, Monday's episode presents a brief lesson from a topless model on the proportionality of breasts drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. The Ontario College of Art and Design might want to try this as an antidote to declining student interest in historical matters.  "We didn't want to go through history in a linear way," says co-producer Bernard Herbert of the Montréal-based production house Ciné Qua Non Films. "We wanted the models to describe the work they do from inside the experience. Are they involved with making artwork?"

"Yes," is the answer most often heard throughout the series, at least from the models. In fact, the series' coup is its interview in Episode 3 with Dina Vierny, a regal 87-year-old French woman who modelled for Henri Matisse and Aristide Maillol. Sitting as firm as the Rock of Gibraltar and looking a whole lot tougher, Vierny insists that sex was never ever the main issue, although it was never entirely absent either. However, she felt she was a collaborator in the artistic process, particularly with Maillol.  Toronto models I contacted to gain a bit more perspective on the TV series seemed far more concerned about the lack of money they received — $18.75 an hour is the union rate — than the lack of respect. "They have nothing to paint if I'm not there," says pro model Gaye Boston, being practical about it. "The only time I ever feel vulnerable is at a private sitting when I feel that things are not quite right."  Most models in The Art of Nude Modelling "say they're only sitting and posing," producer Herbert goes on. "They speak of the skills they need. They talk of meditation. But Matisse wanted to be near his model" — a still photo shows the painter, then an old man, inches away from the figure — "to feel her emotions, to feel what the (model) was giving him. For him, the model was far more than an academic reference."  The interaction of model and artist is threaded through the entirety of art's history, a subject The Art of Nude Modelling treats warily as if it were talking to pre-schoolers, while dragging out clichés about "accepting one's body with all its imperfections." (In fact, the large-size female models shown and discussed in Episode 4 appear to have inspired some of the better contemporary art shown in a series that is otherwise bereft of the stuff. Maybe we can credit "Big" Sue Tilley, Lucian Freud's large-size model, for this trend.)  But that's about as far as it goes. The many tangled, dramatic and mysterious model-artist relationships are skimmed over. And broader cultural questions about the model-artist relationship — the European art historical vision of the female as nature itself, just waiting to be shaped into a male-pleasing form — are left unasked and hence unanswered.  Yes, some questions about the dominance of the male gaze are brought up alongside the work of French painter Suzanne Valadon, a model for Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas — to name two artists — who turned into an exceptional painter, particularly of realistic female nudes. And a mention of Welsh-American artist Sylvia Sleigh's painting, Philip Golub Reclining (1971), in the series' fourth episode, provides a quick tour around the feminist take on the nude model.  But that's about it. Then again, that may be just enough. If it scores huge ratings, The Art of Nude Modelling could easily evolve into a terrific how-to show, with its many specific hints on how to tense one's bare bum for profit if not for fun. Otherwise, the series is long on atmosphere — beaches are everywhere and the music is one elevator short of being pure Muzak — and even longer on slow-motion shots over naked bodies.

'Til Death - Love Is For Suckers

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon

(Sep. 7, 2006) "In marriage, women stop fun from happening."  This cynical declaration is delivered by Eddie (
Brad Garrett) in 'Til Death (Fox, 8 p.m.), one of two new comedies airing tonight that digs up an old theme: love sucks.  It certainly sucks for Eddie, a high school history teacher who has been married to travel agent Joy (Joely Fisher) for exactly 8,743 days. Eddie and Joy bicker, huff, sigh and snipe at each other. The point: marriage will corrode your body and soul.  Such a bleak outlook, of course, is beyond the pale when a young couple wobbles at the altar, exchanging earnest vows and basking in the promise of eternal bliss.  In the opening scene, we meet Jeff Woodcock (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Steph (Kat Foster), newlyweds who have been married for all of 12 days. They're about to become Eddie and Joy's new neighbours. In a moving truck, barrelling toward their new home, the couple is suddenly caught up in a moment of mutual adoration:  "I love you!"  "I love you more!"  Cut to Eddie's messy kitchen, where he's clearing his throat and buttering toast. To his right, Joy is fascinated by a paper cut on her finger, one she wants her squeamish husband to examine.  'Til Death, then, is powered by this juxtaposition: New Marriage (fresh, passionate and brimming with moments of tender affection) versus Old Marriage (tedious, irritating and brimming with moments of mild disgust).  With the studio laughter, stage-mounted cameras and sophomoric jokes, 'Til Death has some amusing lines, but they're buried in the formulaic heap.  Garrett is always fun to watch. But it may take viewers a few episodes to see him as somebody other than Robert Barone, the endearing, put-upon brother from Everybody Loves Raymond.  In the first show, which also aired on CH last night, we learn that Jeff and Steph have moved to town from Minneapolis. And Jeff will be working as a vice-principal at Eddie's school.  'Til Death — written by the husband and wife team of Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa — deals with marriage from these two (male) points of view. As Eddie tells Jeff during their first car-pool drive to work: "Men want to have fun and wives want to walk that fun deep into the woods and shoot it dead."

You get the idea.  The battle of the sexes continues with Happy Hour (Fox, 8:30 tonight), in which Henry Beckman (John Sloan) returns from a fantasy baseball camp to learn that girlfriend Heather (Brooke D'Orsay) is ending their relationship.  Henry just moved to Chicago from Missouri, to be with Heather and work for her uncle. So the break-up creates a number of life crises.  In need of a new place to live, Henry finds refuge in the same building, moving into apartment 6B with Larry Cone (Lex Medlin).  Larry is looking for a new roommate. His former wingman, Brad (Nat Faxon), left their bachelor pad to shack up with fiancée Tina (Jamie Denbo), a frosty, controlling b-i-t-c-h who despises Larry and everything he symbolizes.  Larry takes it upon himself to tutor jilted Henry on matters of the heart. He also gets friend Amanda (Beth Lacke) to give Henry a new job. Why is he doing all this for a total stranger? Simple. Larry wants to create a "new Brad."  In one scene, Larry is shaking out his 4 o'clock martini and mouthing the words to a Dean Martin classic. Henry wonders aloud if Heather was "The One."  "You want to know what The One is, Henry?" Larry asks. "The One is when somebody a little better than you think you can get likes you back."  Sounds like something Eddie might say.  'Til Death and Happy Hour are neither groundbreaking nor abysmal. They merely represent the latest additions to Fox's quarter-century obsession with mining domestic dysfunction for cheap laughs.  Sigh. Sometimes funny can be kind of sad.

Boomers Rule New TV Season

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Diane Holloway, Cox News Service

(Sep. 13, 2006) AUSTIN, Texas—If you're among the almost 80 million
baby boomers who make up the majority of the network TV audience, you're going to see more of your own people on the tube this season.  You might have to squint to see them, but they're there. Think of this development as a new wrinkle in prime time.  Instead of a slew of way-too-cute twentysomethings, you're going to see stars of a "certain age." And not just as supporting players: the wisecracking grandpa or the grumpy, foul-mouthed granny.  You're going to see 59-year-old James Woods in designer suits at the helm of CBS's new legal drama Shark; 58-year-old Ted Danson leading the chuckles on ABC's new sitcom Help Me Help You; a couple of certifiable geezers, 60-year-old John Lithgow (in a Speedo in the pilot) and 62-year-old Jeffrey Tambor, in NBC's comedy Twenty Good Years; and 59-year-old Sally Field at the head of the table on the ABC drama Brothers & Sisters.  There are more prominent actors in their 40s, 50s and even 60s on new series this season than ever before. Even Fox, a network that was created with the young demographic in mind, has two new shows featuring old(er) folk: Victor Garber, 57, in Justice, and Brad Garrett, 46, in 'Til Death.  It wasn't that long ago when prime time was covered with teen and twentysomething ensembles. The youth hysteria peaked around the mid-'90s with Friends. Advertisers and therefore networks were chasing young viewers with a vengeance and turning their backs on the people who actually watch network TV.  That was then, this is now. The once-coveted 18-to-49 focus of advertising is giving way to the "power demo" of aging boomers. Why? Besides the size of their population, these people have more time and bigger bank accounts than their younger counterparts.

"Baby boomers are the audience with the most money and spending power," says David Poltrack, CBS's executive vice-president of research and planning. "They're now going off the 18-49 radar screen, and even 25 to 54 is edging out of that target. Baby boomers in the 55-to-64 category have the most discretionary income and they're heavy spenders in luxury goods."  In advertising, and thus on commercial television, older viewers can no longer be ignored. According to the latest demographic surveys by Nielsen Media Research, 40 per cent of the total viewing audience in prime time is in the 40 to 64 age range. And the fast-growing demographic is the 55 to 64 group.  CBS, the top-rated network in prime time, has been preaching this philosophy for years. The No. 1 drama for the past few years has been CBS's CSI, starring 53-year-old William Petersen.  With a sizable chunk of young people spending their time with DVDs, iTunes and other websites, even cable networks are sniffing around the older audience. HBO's Sopranos is resplendent with over-40s, and Denis Leary, an Emmy nominee for the super-edgy FX drama Rescue Me, is 49.  Not only has the biggest TV audience aged while getting richer, but its taste has become more sophisticated than previous generations, too. While younger viewers tend to glom onto reality shows and late-night cable fare such as Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, older viewers watch news programs, documentaries and complicated dramas such as The West Wing, CSI and ER.  Some, but not all, of the shows preferred by the "power demo" feature older actors.  But they also go for more sophisticated shows populated by younger actors, such as Grey's Anatomy.  Many of the new fall series feature older actors who also happen to be highly regarded and famous, such as Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen (in CBS's crime drama Smith).  "That may be a way of reaching the 40-plus audience, but in a way that is not at all like CBS's Matlock and Murder She Wrote, which relied on older audiences' nostalgia for their aging stars' earlier work," says Michael Kackman, an assistant professor at the University of Texas, whose specialty is the history of broadcasting in the United States.  "These casting choices likely are about the broadcast networks trying to reach the demographic that is their strength, but I don't think it's just by offering characters who look like their audience."  This certainly isn't the first time we've seen over-40 stars on television, and assuming some of the new series with older stars click, they likely won't be appealing just to older viewers. The Golden Girls was a huge hit with young viewers, including children, and the reruns continue to be popular with all ages.


Letterman Plans To Outlast Leno

Source: Associated Press

(Sept. 9, 2006) New York —
David Letterman is planning to outlast Jay Leno in late-night television. CBS Corp. and Letterman have agreed to a four-year contract extension that will keep the comic on the Late Show through the 2009-10 television season, according to two executives familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the deal wasn't fully done. That would keep Letterman, 59, on the air past NBC's planned 2009 hand-off of the Tonight show job from Leno to Conan O'Brien. Leno and Letterman have been competing in late-night since 1993, after NBC chose Leno for Tonight and Letterman jumped to CBS. For most of that time, Leno has had the upper hand in the ratings. For the past year, Leno has averaged 5.71 million viewers each night to Letterman's 4.16, according to Nielsen Media Research. That gap is more than 200,000 viewers wider than the previous year, mostly due to Letterman's audience shrinking, Nielsen said. Letterman has suffered through health problems in recent years that has led to some speculation that he might not want to do the job much longer. Heart surgery in 2000 and a case of shingles in 2003 kept Letterman off the air for brief periods. But Letterman  has apparently concluded that he's up to the challenge of competing with O'Brien, who took over Letterman's NBC show after the move to CBS. NBC announced two years ago its unusual long-off succession plan, done primarily to prevent O'Brien from moving to another network. Spokesmen for CBS Entertainment and Letterman would not comment on negotiations. The agreement was first reported Thursday in the Hollywood Reporter.

Spike Lee Develops Post-Katrina NBC Drama

Excerpt from

(September 12, 2006) *Following his critically-acclaimed HBO documentary about Hurricane Katrina and its sobering aftermath, filmmaker Spike Lee is developing a scripted drama for NBC set in New Orleans.  Titled "NoLa," the drama will feature a multi-cultural cast and explore the lives of New Orleans residents from various social and economic backgrounds in the wake of the disaster. Lee will executive produce and direct the project should NBC turn the pilot into a series. The Brooklyn-born director, who will travel to New Orleans this week with screenwriter Sid Quashie to meet with residents, says the style of the pilot will mirror the feel of Italian neorealism, a 1942-52 movement in Italian cinema reflected in the work of Vittorio De Sica ("The Bicycle Thief") and Roberto Rossellini. "It's our goal to make great cinema for television," Lee explained to the Associated Press. "It's a show about the city trying to rebuild itself and the people who are trying to put their lives together."  Like his HBO documentary, “NoLa” will include humour and some of the more colourful folk from “Levees” -- like Phyllis Montana LeBlanc -- as supporting characters or as fictional versions of themselves. The pilot will be shot on location in New Orleans with minimal set design needed. Lee explains: "We don't have to build sets. Things there still look like the city's been bombed out."



EUR REVIEW: Pasadena Playhouse Honours August Wilson With 'Fences'

Excerpt from - By DeBorah B. Pryor

(September 12, 2006)   *Probably the best directive Sheldon Epps could have given to his "Fences" cast was permission to fully utilize their memories of family in the development of their individual characters.  Remembering experiences with their fathers and mothers, their children and siblings. Recalling the intricacies of growing up and growing in to themselves.  In this riveting piece of work that focuses on family, relationships, control, and unconditional love, playwright August Wilson provides a wonderful playground for actors with the capacity to go beyond the body of his rich words, and build distinct, multi-levelled characters. This is not a play for shallow actors; and fortunately, there are none in Epps' seven-member cast.  Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, Troy Maxson (Laurence Fishburne), a former Negro League baseball player turned garbage collector struggles to hold a tight reign on his devoted wife "Rose" (Angela Bassett); ambitious son "Corey" (Bryan Clark), and special needs brother "Gabriel" (Orlando Jones). Frustrated by the aging out of his own ability to play baseball, and bitter towards a society he feels has neglected him, Troy's rebellion manifests itself in two ways: by challenging the concept of death, and building fences; locking the greater world out, and his smaller world in. It is this rebellion that sets the tone for the play. Fishburne's masterful crafting of his character is awe-inspiring to watch. He is able to accomplish, with only four-weeks of rehearsal, what it takes most actors months to come close to. Because of his skill, and smart acting choices, Troy Maxson is a full-bodied man that audiences will connect to. His Maxson is a complex character that one simultaneously admires and pities. He will, to many, be a painful reminder of how life can harden you and destroy your spirit; as is evidenced most clearly in his relationship with his son, Corey, (played beautifully by Clark in his Pasadena Playhouse debut).  Angela Bassett's dutiful wife "Rose" leaves a bit more to be desired. Thank goodness we know of this actor's extensive accomplishments and abundant skill. Unfortunately, it wasn't displayed here. Her Rose came across as shallow; even silly at times; with a giggle that will quickly get on your nerves, and a bad dialect.  For some reason, at times, her Rose made me think of "Trixie" from the old Jackie Gleason television show, "The Honeymooners."  The second half of the play brought out some strong moments for this character; but she had to get good and fed up to reveal them. In all honesty, this may not be totally the actor's fault; but possibly embedded in the role itself, which, with this showing, seemed beneath an actor of Bassett's pedigree.

What wonderful surprises actors Wendell Pierce as "Jim Bono" and Kadeem Hardison as "Lyons" came to be. Audiences may not recognize Pierce's name, but you will know the face from such films as "Ray," "Get On The Bus," and "Waiting To Exhale." As the loyal friend and take-a-swig-from-my-flask-drinkin' buddy to Fishburne's character, "Bono" is the kind of male friend every man can use. He is fun loving yet level-headed; giving Maxson doses of good sense advice at opportune times. Hardison, who audiences will remember from the television show, "A Different World" sets the pace for his character's demeanour quickly. From the start, after only a few words and mannerisms, we are familiar with what he is going to be about. And in this case, that's not a bad thing. In many ways he is a breath-of-fresh-air. He is delightfully funny, and another character audiences may recognize from their own extended family. As "Gabriel" actor Orlando Jones is nothing short of phenomenal. Best known for his work in the box office hit, "Drumline," Jones' character is brother to Fishburne's "Troy Maxson." He is a war vet who suffers from a head injury and his presence is intricately woven throughout the play's entirety. His Gabriel will touch your heart. Young Victoria Matthews ("Raynell") rounds out the cast with an "unexpected twist" that gives purpose to the act of unconditional love and solidifies the reality of the phrase, "a chip off the old block." Gary L. Wissmann's scenic design is aptly humble and detailed; while Pierre Dupree's sound makes this backyard very inviting. Sheldon Epps' direction would make August Wilson proud.  His cohesive cast works exceptionally well together, creating for the most part, believably in-depth, consistent and recognizable characters that we are indeed glad to know. See DeBorah B. Pryor's backstage look at "Fences" with interviews from cast members Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett and director Sheldon Epps later this week. "Fences" runs Tuesday through Friday, 8 p.m., Saturdays at 9 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m., with matinee performances on Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. until October 1st at The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Avenue in Pasadena, CA. For tickets call 626.356.PLAY. For MORE info see:

National Arts Centre Gets New Director

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Kate Taylor

(Sept. 13, 20060 In its increasingly aggressive campaign to establish itself as a showcase of Canadian theatre,
Ottawa's National Arts Centre is hiring a controversial Quebec director who says he plans to go mad on the job.  The NAC announced Wednesday that Wajdi Mouawad will take over as artistic director of the centre's French theatre in September, 2007, and program the '08-'09 season. Mouawad, a Montreal playwright and director of Lebanese descent whose work has been celebrated both in Quebec and in France, inherits the job from Denis Marleau, also one of Quebec's leading theatre directors. In accepting the task of programming a nine-production playbill in city with small and conservative theatre audiences, Mouawad boldly announced that art is born from artists' hallucinatory perspectives that change the way we see the world, and that his job was to promote this kind of madness. “There's only one way to do that, and that is to go mad myself. I'll do my best,” he said in a statement released by the NAC. In a phone interview before Wednesday's announcement, Mouawad explained that he simply means that creating art is anti-rational. He believes political structures have historically left little room for the arts because power has allied itself with rationalism to govern, rejecting aesthetic and emotional considerations.  “It's really linked to this line that separates reason from a sort of beauty that I call madness, it's the power to create things outside of nature, a dance, music, a piece of theatre. Without it you can't be human, you can't feel emotions, you can't feel fear. ... Art illuminates that madness in us.” Previously, Mouawad lead Montreal's Theatre Quat'Sous from 2000 to 2004 until founding his own pair of companies in Montreal and Paris in 2005. He said these small companies are largely dedicated to his own writing and that he accepted the NAC job to gain an opportunity to work with other authors and directors. He particularly wants to concentrate on Greek tragedy during his tenure, and says the challenge of the job is to create a national artistic project outside a cultural metropolis.  “Montrealers don't come; most of the shows have already been seen in Montreal,” he noted, saying he wanted to stage, at least once a year, some theatrical event that would require Montrealers and Torontonians to visit Ottawa just as they might for a big exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada. Mounting his own plays and productions at the NAC in the past, he has found Ottawa audiences the most attentive he has ever encountered, but also reluctant to accept any experimentation with theatrical convention.

“That's the challenge, not to be a prisoner of the audience's taste, but also not to cut ourselves off from them, to listen to them too,” he said. Mouawad's own plays explore the tensions between the individual, the family and society in fantastical wartime settings greatly influenced by his childhood in Lebanon during the civil war of the 1970s. While these scripts, which often feature young protagonists battling the idiocy of the adult world, are politically aggressive, the idealistic artist has proved a controversial figure in Quebec more for his public statements than his art. Previously, he has denounced corporate sponsorship at Montreal's Théatre du Nouveau Monde and declined various theatre prizes, arguing that artists should not compete against each other.  His work was been widely praised in the French-speaking world for its distinctive aesthetic and imaginative confrontation with its themes, but he is much less well-known in English Canada, where finding the right style to stage his Kafkaesque scripts has proved difficult.  The NAC and the Toronto's Tarragon Theatre are about to raise his profile among anglophones with a co-production of his critically acclaimed play Incendies, which will be produced under the title Scorched next spring. The play follows the quest of orphaned twins whose mother's will assigns them the task of finding a brother they never knew they had and a father who they always believed had died in their war-torn homeland. The NAC has a history of simply importing internationally recognized Quebec directors to Ottawa to lead the French theatre. Marleau, the outgoing artistic director, is considered Quebec's most intellectually rigorous theatre director; Robert Lepage, who lead the NAC's French theatre from 1990 to 1993, is its most famous.  Meanwhile, the reinvigorated NAC is also stressing its national mandate these days, entering into an increasing number of co-productions with companies across Canada and mounting festivals celebrating the arts in various parts of the country. The Quebec Scene, which will be focus on the arts in that province, opens next spring while the English theatre is currently launching an all-Canadian season programmed by its new artistic director, Peter Hinton.  Mouawad added that he is interested in working with Hinton, an Anglophone Montrealer well versed in the Quebec repertoire, and perhaps breaking down the traditional separation of the English and French theatre departments at the NAC.


Clinton's Belated Birthday Party Attracts The Superstars

Source: Canadian Press

(Sept. 10, 2006) TORONTO —
Bill Clinton was feted Saturday night with performances and tributes from a dazzling array of film, comedic and musical superstars in a tribute befitting, well, a former U.S. president. Still, when the time came to take a birthday bow, the now 60-year-old Clinton had more serious issues on his mind — the HIV/AIDS epidemic, terrorism and global warming among them. While actor and comedian Billy Crystal joked about the unruly back hair and sporadic urinating habits of men entering their seventh decade of life, Clinton bid his guests to make the world a better place. “The ability of private citizens to do public good all over the world is greater than ever before,” the former president told hundreds of well-heeled guests — several tables of 10 at the event sold for $200,000 — as he outlined the work of the charitable foundation that bears his name. “When you have that sort of ability it imposes on you an enormous responsibility, so I thank all of you for helping me.” While Saturday night's birthday party, also attended by Clinton's wife Hillary and their daughter Chelsea, may have amounted to a thinly veiled fundraiser, it's unlikely Toronto will see its equal for some time. Canadian chanteuse Sarah McLachlan, country superstar Tim McGraw, and folk singer James Taylor were just some of the musicians on the bill.

Oscar winner
Kevin Spacey was the master of ceremonies, David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer served as musical director, and Crystal prepared a stand-up routine for the occasion. “When they called me and asked me to be part of the 60th birthday celebration of the most charismatic, most powerful, most important person in the free world I said, Hillary is 60?,” Crystal said to howls of laughter. “I hate being 60,” Crystal then added in a mock-Clinton drawl. “Then why do you party so much? By the time you finish this tour you're going to be 65.” The comedian referred to the Toronto party as “this stop of the Clinton birthday tour,” a two-month series of events that includes a fundraiser in October featuring the Rolling Stones in concert. While the message was global responsibility, Clinton did take time to relate a charming anecdote of being in Africa with actors Spacey and Chris Tucker. Apparently both entertained the former president by doing their best Clinton impersonations. The seemingly endless parade of praise laid at Clinton's feet Saturday night from his famous guests didn't go unnoticed either. “It's my birthday and I'm like everybody else... somebody says something nice about you and I like it,” Clinton said, before returning to the matter at hand. “The truth is, (the Clinton Foundation) is what I ought to be doing and I would be derelict in my responsibility as a human being if I were not doing this.” Another truth — the two-term president from Arkansas celebrated his actual birthday on Aug. 19 with friends and family at Martha's Vineyard.

New Hip Hop Board Game Introduced

Source: Jeffrey McGill, 609-553-7979, 

(September 8, 2006)  Atlantic City, NJ - BLING BLING 2002(TM), a new board game based on Hip Hop's favourite dice game, C-LO, has been introduced to the market by The Gameologist Group LLC and 456, two Atlantic City-based, minority-owned companies.    Geared to the urban youth market, the game capitalizes on the notoriety of C-LO, which has been played in music videos of such Hip Hop and R&B stars as Biggie Smalls, Jay Z, Nas, Cameron and many others.   BLING BLING includes a sound track and a documentary DVD with tracks which are exclusive to the game, together with interviews by Hip Hop artists, including Nu Jersey Devil, DJ Envy, Jim Jones, Sam Scarfo, Riz, DJ Fah, Black Rob, Big Smoke and The King of Kings, among others.   The Hip Hop community has been quick to react. Def Jam artist Sam Scarfo said, "This game is definitely for the Hustlers."; Black Wall Street artist Nu Jersey Devil commented, "It's one of the hottest games I’ve ever played."; Bad Boy artist Black Rob exclaimed, "What? That’s crazy! I won mad money playing C-LO. Make sure I get a board game!"; Universal Recording artist Merlino said, "The hood is going to love you for this!"; and Dipset's Jim Jones quipped, "C-LO on a board game is a beautiful thing!"

Players become adventurers in an inner city setting, trying to gather up as much money and property as possible in the 30 to 60 minutes that it takes to play. Using the popular C-LO game play to move on the board and accumulate cash and property with which to erect urban city projects, players encounter ups and downs in the process of their turn. They can win or lose money, move their playing piece to "The Bank Statement," or play “C-LO Heads Up” with the Bank for cash or land on "Now Whut?" and find their fate in the unfortunate and sometimes hilarious inner city “hoods.” The player that acquires most of the cash and property, is crowned "Ultimate Hustler," a title which brings with it opportunities for bragging and “talking trash.”   “The timing is right to introduce the BLING BLING 2002(TM) line of games to mainstream audiences,” said CEO Jeff McGill, a/k/a SMOKE. “BLING BLING is a game that the inner city demographic can relate t the lingo, the situations, the pit falls and the come ups,” he continued. Intended for two to eight players, the board game is the “Ultimate Hustler’s game,” according to McGill, who said that the new release is subtitled, “Part 1, The Takeover,” and that it is the first in a series of Hip Hop games planned for release in 2006.   A portion of proceeds from the sale of the all games will be donated to The Gameologist Group Community Trust, and the funds distributed to non-profit groups which provide assistance to inner city residents of metropolitan Atlantic City.   The Gameologist Group, LLC is a minority-owned game development company that creates and designs games, including casino slot machines, casino table games, board games, lottery card games and video games, most of which are Hip Hop-inspired. The Gameologist Group LLC is developing a BLING BLING scratch off Lottery card to be released soon. For further information, contact CEO Jeff McGill 609-553-7979 or visit   Visitors to can play a free BLING BLING slot machine game by clicking on the Gameologist Group link; On the slot machine click on “MAX BET”, and press “SPIN.”

The Priorities: First Writing, Then The Laundry

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Michael Posner

(Sept. 9, 2006) Five years ago Monday, on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001,
Margaret Atwood found herself at the Toronto airport, about to board a plane for New York. An old friend, Gerry Caplan, spotted her and told her that an aircraft had just flown into the World Trade Center. He pulled her over to a TV screen, where they watched the building smoulder. Oh dear, thought Atwood: The pilot must have had a heart attack. Their flight was cancelled, so they booked another for the afternoon. Then, still watching the TV monitor, she saw the second plane plow into the other tower. “Gerry,” she said, “I'm going home.”

At first blush, the tragic events of 9/11 have very little to do with Atwood's newest book, a short-story collection called
Moral Disorder (McClelland & Stewart), out today. It's a very domestic book, full of stories about people who might well be thinly disguised versions of Atwood's parents, sister, husband and various other friends and acquaintances that have passed through her life. A narrative loosely connects the stories, and one can plot an arc that covers a fair swath of the life of Nell, the narrator and central character, from childhood to now.  Several are set on a farm not unlike the farm that Nell shares with Tig, first her unhappily married lover, later her husband — much like the one Atwood and her husband, writer Graeme Gibson, once owned north of Toronto, where they kept chickens and horses, a peacock, cattle and “an aberrant member of the sheep family.” But she rejects the suggestion that it is pure — or even impure — autobiography. “It's fiction,” she insists. “Cigarettes are cigarettes. It says so on the package. It's not that the things in the stories didn't happen. A lot of them did. They didn't necessarily happen in that order. And there are a lot of glaring omissions.” She understands the temptation to find historical truth in fiction, but it can be overdone. She's still annoyed that many people regard Zenia, a character in her novel The Robber Bride, as being based on journalist Barbara Amiel.

“In fact, she isn't.”

“Why do people think she is?”

“Because John Fraser said so.”

Fraser, author and master of Massey College at the University of Toronto, is one of the country's finest tellers of tales.

“It's a case of convergence,” Atwood explains. “Bats and birds can both fly, but bats aren't birds. So the femmes fatales may have certain resemblances, but also differences,”

Still, I suspect future biographers will be pouring enthusiastically over these short tales, trying to separate Atwood facts from Atwood invention. When Atwood talks, she takes a thought and examines it from different angles, like a diamond craftsman looking for flaws in truth or logic. Then she makes pronouncements, short and to the point.

“If I were going to write an autobiography,” she says, “I'd feel compelled by truth.”

“Are you going to write an autobiography?”

“No. Why bother? Everyone thinks you're lying.”

Yet on another level, the uncertain world ushered in on that unforgettable morning five years ago forms a kind of subtext for Moral Disorder, a sense that the polite veneer of order we impose on our lives — our daily customs and comfortable rituals — can at any moment be ruptured, even destroyed, by dark and implacable forces. In the book, most of these disasters are contained within the framework of the familiar — depression, neurosis, senility, the death of loved ones — although the opening story, titled Bad News, alludes to the continuing chaos of geopolitics. The bad news is on the doorstep every day. One inhales it like morning coffee. “It's where we're living,” she says of this story. “Like the later stages of the Roman empire.” Atwood says she pays close attention to the quicksand universe outside her door only when she is not otherwise engaged with a serious writing project. In those periods, she reads all the papers.

“But today, I read no newspapers.”

“Does that mean you're working on something all-consuming?”


“Can we say what?”


Later, she allows that there's a novel in some indeterminate stage of gestation, but will say no more. Moral Disorder (a punning title bequeathed to her by Gibson from a book he decided not to write), she says, constitutes an intermediate form. “You can't call it a novel or a regular book of short stories where none of the stories are connected. These stories are related.”  She looks, of course, like a character out of a novel, arriving for the interview wearing a long black dress and a wide-brimmed black straw hat, and ordering a cappuccino. On the restaurant patio, people stare at her; if they don't recognize her, they think they should. She's almost 67 now and has been arguably the galvanic force in Canadian letters for almost five decades: 12 novels, six books of short stories, 15 books of poetry, six children's books, a movie script or three, not to mention seven works of non-fiction, including her seminal treatise, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. She's been showered with prestigious awards, honorary degrees, a companionship in the Order of Canada, various foreign blessings and, last year, was a good enough sport to play goalie in a Rick Mercer's Monday Report skit on CBC-TV. I ask how aging has affected her. “It's beyond a joke,” she says, laughing. “But for a person my age, I'm in appallingly good shape. I rush around a lot. Every once in a while, I join some gym and hope I'll follow through on it. But I'm too busy. To take a slice out of your life to go jump up and down seems an amazing waste of time. The discipline in my life all has to do with writing and the laundry. I don't have room for any more discipline.”

She can write anywhere — and does: on planes, in coffee shops, on the backs of envelopes, at midnight. The solution to a problem in the writing of Alias Grace — her 1996 novel about an 1843 Canadian murder case involving 16-year-old Grace Marks — came to her in a Zurich hotel room. The form of Oryx and Crake (2003) suggested itself during a bird-watching expedition in Australia. Both she and Gibson are avid birders. Indeed, she jokes, “we are the William and Mary of Orange of birding,” having this year been named joint honorary presidents of the rare-bird division of BirdLife International, succeeding Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Atwood insists that her knowledge as measured by serious birdwatchers is deficient. “A really good birdwatcher can distinguish between fall warblers, which are all brown. I can't.” Graeme Jr., one of Gibson's two sons from a previous marriage, has followed him into birding, and runs the non-profit Pelee Island Bird Observatory in Southwestern Ontario. The other, Matthew, is a vice-president of LongPen, a commercial device conceived by Atwood herself to facilitate long-distance autograph signings and connect with readers remotely. Their daughter, Jess, is finishing a PhD in art history. Unlike many observers of social trends, Atwood doesn't subscribe to the conventional wisdom about the relentless dumbing-down of the culture. She thinks smartness itself may take different forms that the older generation cannot recognize. “It's like birds,” she says. “People thought birds were stupid because they had very small brains. But you could not match the memory of a chickadee. You could not do it. They can remember exactly where they put every seed and they never come back to the same place twice.” Similarly, “it may be that the younger generation is smart in ways we don't identify as being smart.”

She also sees a resurgence of youthful interest in classical mythology, one that seems to mirror her own. Her last book, The Tent, takes old myths and fables and turns them on their heads. The previous book, The Penelopiad, is a retelling of Homer's Odyssey. Three of Atwood's novels have been made into films, and a film based on The Robber Bride is now in production. She compares the experience to summer camp. “If the sun is shining, and the people are nice, everything is fine. If it's raining and you have no friends, it's a disaster and you can't write your parents to come and pick you up.” She's now turning The Penelopiad into a cabaret stage production, working with the National Arts Centre.

“Has being celebrated affected you?”

“Not yet. How would it?”

“You might behave in highfalutin ways.”

“Not in this country.”

Besides, she says, her short little stint as the goalie on Rick Mercer's show has made her more recognizable than her writing. “Hey, Margaret,” people shout at her in airline terminals. “Way to stop them pucks.” She had fun, but probably won't be back for an encore. At 66, time is finite, precious. There's writing and there's laundry, in that order. Let's get on with it. Margaret Atwood's latest book, Moral Disorder, is being released today.

People Of Note: Dr. Anthony Griffin: The Expert on Ethnic Skin

Excerpt from - By Deardra Shuler

(September 12, 2006) *At one time African Americans knew that if they went to a plastic surgeon unfamiliar with black skin they could end up with keloids.  Until recently many ethnic people (which include most non Caucasians) have avoided plastic surgery due to keloiding. Fortunately more and more African American physicians are getting into plastic surgery.  Out of 7000 plastic surgeons, there are about 100 existing African American plastic surgeons -- one among them is renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Griffin who is an authority on ethnic skin types (although he operates on Caucasians as well), a pioneer in scar-free surgery, and one of the top surgeons on the ABC program “Extreme Makeover.” Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Dr. Griffin attended Brown University in Rhode Island, UCLA in California and medical school in St. Louis.  “By Jr. High, I knew I would go into medicine.  I saw an article in Ebony magazine featuring plastic surgery and though I was considering paediatrics, I chose plastic surgery.  I’ve been able to fulfill both goals in a way because I am involved with Operation Smile.  I try as often as I can to travel overseas to Africa, Asia, Middle East, nearly everywhere and operate on children with birth defects such as cleft lips, burns, deformities, etc.  There is no charge for this and I must admit that it is one of my most favourite things to do” explained Dr. Griffin. Most doctors have to go through 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 5 years of general surgery and 2 years of plastic surgery before specializing in reconstructive and cosmetic procedures such as breast reconstruction, repairing accident victims, burn reconstruction, and cosmetic surgery.  In a way, plastic surgeons have to be artists.  “You have to have an eye for proportion and be able to see what you are going to do before doing it.  Essentially, you are an artist.  The human form and human body is probably the most difficult medium to sculpt” said Griffin.  “Generally, I will take a picture and draw on the picture and compare what the patient looks like versus what they want to look like.  Knowing what the patient wants to look like gives me an artistic goal.  Some patients may want a certain celebrity feature, so I will try and sculpt a similar feature.  If I have an African American patient who wants a nose job, I don’t try to take away their ethnic features, merely to improve upon it.  I specialize in operating on people of color. It’s often very difficult to do because coloured skin is very thick and there is very little support structure, so you often have to build it up as well as take away some things” continued the surgeon.  “Otherwise you may end up with a Michael Jackson type look.  Clearly his doctor didn’t know how to manage people of color.  I think in Michael’s case they made the classic mistake of taking away a lot of important tissue and structure and then the nose collapsed. So they had to try and build it back up.  When you are doing ethnic noses its very important to first build certain parts of the structure to support it so it doesn’t collapse and then you take away areas that are thick or large” explained the celebrity doctor concerning the procedure.

African American skin tends to be thicker and more vulnerable to scarring because it’s more oily than white skin.  “One of the big concerns African Americans and people of color have when getting plastic surgery is the tendency for darker skin to keloid.  I have developed procedures and techniques that involve minimal scarring.  I often use an endoscope which is like a telescope that allows me to operate through very small incisions that prevents me from having to make a big long scar.  I tie my incisions in places where people tend not to keloid.  I have been working with Johnson & Johnson to develop a line of suture material that wont react to ethnic skin negatively which heretofore has been one of the biggest problems” remarked Griffin whose surgeries have been featured in CNN, Time Magazine, Access Hollywood, “E,” the Discovery Health Channel, etc. The majority of procedures most people request when getting plastic surgery is face lifts, nose jobs, eyelids, liposuction, breast reduction and breast augmentation.  “I do all of the aforementioned plus a signature procedure known as the Brazilian butt lift for people with flat butts.  I take fat from around patient’s waist and put it in their buttocks to sculpt it.  There is also liposuction for people who want to reduce their butts” stated the board certified Beverly Hills physician. Dr. Griffin is the author of “Surgery Without Scars: A Worry-Free Multi-Cultural Guide to Plastic Surgery Today.”  “I wrote that book about 4 years ago to make people aware that there are doctors like myself who knows how to manage ethnic skin.  It answers a lot of questions for patients and also helps other doctors know how to treat patients and some of the scars afterwards.  I am also writing a book called “Extreme Satisfaction” which is about the psychological and spiritual reason people seek plastic surgery” remarked the talented surgeon.

In 1977, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that plastic surgeons are not the only people who can call themselves plastic surgeons.  Therefore, a GYN or dentist or neurosurgeon can say they’re a plastic surgeon even though they have no training in plastic surgery.  So it’s essential that people make sure the plastic surgeons they go to are board certified plastic surgeons trained in plastic surgery.  Ethnic people should make certain they acquire a surgeon trained to handle ethnic skin. Married, Dr. Griffin is a regular on ABC’s Extreme Makeover.  This season fans will see him doing the majority of cases on the show.  He also paints and sculpts during his downtime and fans may soon see Dr. Griffin on his own reality show.  For further info see:

EUR Book Review: Secret Daughter

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

"My mother was an aspiring actress. She had separated from my father, a well-known song-and-dance man, shortly after I was born, in January 1954. My mother had met him backstage at the Paramount in 1949, before television changed show business forever. They said I looked exotic, she classic. Together- a bamboo-colored redhead carrying her olive-skinned, curly-haired daughter- together, we seemed alien. Skin fractured our kinship. Even at four, I knew that something was amiss." -- Excerpted from Chapter 1, Bedrock

(September 13, 2006) Ten years ago, PBS aired a documentary entitled
Secret Daughter, a gut-wrenching bio-pic about the life of little orphan June, abandoned by both of her parents at an early age to be raised by strangers in Atlantic City. What made Ms. Cross' story so compelling was not the fact that her father was black and her mother was white, but that her mother was such an ice princess when her long-lost daughter tracked her down with a camera crew to ask her why she had dumped her on the doorstep of people she barely knew so many years ago.

Please see full review and article by Kam Williams on - HERE.


We Remember: 'Vogue' Dance Creator Willi Ninja

Excerpt from

(September 8, 2006) *Willi Ninja, the dancer who was “voguing” way before Madonna even heard of the phenomenon, died Saturday in New York of AIDS-related illness, his friends said Tuesday, according to Planet Out. He was 45. Ninja’s unique movement inspired Madonna and was immortalized in the 1990 documentary film "Paris Is Burning," which chronicles the New York City Drag Ball circuit and the African American and Latino gay and transgendered community involved in it. In its review of "Paris Is Burning," the New York Times called Ninja "a lithe, articulate young man who also happens to be a master in the art of 'voguing,' in which dancers attempt to top each other by using gymnastics and the gestures of high-fashion models." Madonna celebrated the style in her No. 1 hit "Vogue," released the same year as the “Paris Is Burning” documentary. "He was a great cultural influence to me and hundreds of thousands of other people," she said through a spokeswoman. Born William Leake in 1961, Ninja was inspired to dance by Fred Astaire "Great Performances" on PBS, Asian culture and Olympic gymnasts. He was able to blend the different influences together to create his own style “that extended into the worlds of dance, fashion and music,” writes Planet Out.

No Place Like Home For Dave Chappelle

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Sept. 11, 2006) YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio —
Dave Chappelle is home. The comedian, who abruptly halted his hit television show last year, told the crowd at a blues and jazz festival on Sunday that he enjoys living in the community and doesn't plan to leave. “I used to be cable's hottest star and now I'm just a Yellow Springs guy,” said Chappelle, who introduced musicians and told jokes. “Turns out you don't need $50-million to live around these parts, just a nice smile and a kind way about you. You guys are the best neighbours ever. ... That's why I came back and that's why I'm staying.” Chappelle, who lives near this southwest Ohio village, walked away from a $50-million deal to continue his Chappelle's Show on Comedy Central. He made a sudden “spiritual retreat” to South Africa on the eve of the show's third season, leaving the series in limbo. He has since returned to performing standup and released the concert documentary Dave Chappelle's Block Party. Sunday's festival was sponsored by the African American Cross Cultural Works, an organization that Chappelle's late father, Bill Chappelle, helped found.

Brad, Matt Up The Ante

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Sep. 12, 2006)
One X One added up to more than $2 million for children's charities Sunday night — with a little help from Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.  The benefit gala was hosted by Damon, with celebrity guests including Pitt and Penélope Cruz.  As auctioneer, Damon raised $260,000 on one item — a trip to the Ocean's 13 premiere in Los Angeles, combined with a home entertainment package. The pair formed a fundraising tag team when Pitt jumped in to start a bidding war to bring in maximum bucks from the guests.  Pitt and Damon join George Clooney for Ocean's 13, the third instalment in the successful buddy-heist remake franchise. It's due in theatres next year.  Wyclef Jean and the African Children's Choir, John Legend, Raine Maida, Chantal Kreviazuk and Sam Roberts all performed before more than 500 international guests.

Walk Of Fame To Put Its Feet Up

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Sep. 13, 2006)
Canada's Walk of Fame has found a permanent all-weather home and chosen a multi-disciplinary Toronto consulting firm to design and build it.  After 14 firms were short-listed, pgm Design Associates was chosen as designer of the new site, to be located in Metro Square on King St. W., between Roy Thomson Hall and Metro Hall. The site has been tentatively dubbed Celebration Square.  Board members decided three years ago that the Walk of Fame, which was begun in 1998, needed a permanent site that was accessible to the public year-round, and the search for a location has been ongoing since then, said president and CEO Peter Soumalias.  "We're very happy. This is Canada's Walk of Fame mandate ... to find ways to celebrate Canadian achievement in a meaningful way (via) a permanent place of tribute," Soumalias said.  Toronto City Council, which leases Metro Square, has given its approval to the project and Mayor David Miller said in a statement that the council has committed to sharing the costs. No budget estimate was given based on the preliminary design.  Miller said he expects the site will become "a significant tourist attraction for the city."  Patrick Morello, spokesman for pgm Design, said many details remain to be decided as the design is taken to a pre-construction phase, but he promised to deliver "a space that is inspiring" and a worthy destination for visitors "from all around Canada and the world."  "The scheme has been designed for four seasons, for day and night, and to operate on many different levels (to make) a very visual, very bold statement about Canadian stars," Morello said.  The plan is to relocate the existing 101 star plaques to the new site, which will be kept free of snow for all-year viewing. The site design features "a forest of light" meant to invoke Canada's Northern Lights. The light columns will begin in the theatre district on the north side of King St. W., where many of the existing stars are now imbedded in the sidewalk. The light columns will show the way across King St. to the installation in Metro Square.  Some of those panels may also be heated to ensure visibility during winter conditions, he said.  The walk will also feature interactive video screens providing information on the stars and comments from previous visitors, he added.  Construction of the site is expected to begin a year from now and possibly extend through the spring of 2008.



Emilie Mondor, Olympic Runner Killed In Car Accident

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Lori Ewing, Canadian Press

(Sep. 11, 2006)
Emilie Mondor was never more at home than when she was alone on a run, a ferocious athlete who thrived on the lonely life of a long-distance runner.  The Olympic athlete from Mascouche, Que., was killed on the weekend in a car accident, cutting short a promising career. She was 25 years old.  Members of Canada's track and field community were stunned and saddened by the news of her death and fondly recalled an athlete whose love of the sport was unparalleled.  "That kind of passion is tough to describe, I haven't seen that very much in my whole career," said Martin Goulet, chief high performance officer for Athletics Canada, and a longtime distance coach. "She had that very passionate way about her, it was so deep in her we could feel that fire just being around her. Running was very special to her, to the point where it was almost a spiritual approach."  Mondor was the first Canadian woman to dip under the 15-minute mark in the 5,000 metres, accomplishing the feat at the 2003 world championships in Paris where she finished 12th. She led the Canadian women's team to a bronze medal at the world cross-country championships in 2004, and ran for Canada at the Athens Olympics later that year, finishing 17th in the 5,000.  "She really, really loved to run, purely for running. There's not a lot of athletes out there that absolutely love just the motion of running," said three-time Olympic middle-distance runner Leah Pells.

Provincial police say Mondor was travelling alone on Highway 417 on Saturday when her vehicle overturned near Hawkesbury, Ont., about an hour east of Ottawa.  Constable Pierre Dubois said Mondor was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the car.  She was taken by air ambulance to Ottawa Civic Hospital where she died on Saturday evening of massive chest trauma.  Mondor's career had been plagued by injuries the past couple of seasons, a bone condition similar to osteoporosis sidelining her with numerous stress fractures.  But the 5-foot-6 runner recently decided to return to competition as a marathon runner, a perfect fit it would seem for an athlete who loved to log countless kilometres on the roads.  She announced the decision on her website, saying it had always been her goal to one day run a marathon.  "I always had that idea in my head. I live my dream now," she wrote.  She moved to Ottawa to train for the marathon and was to make her debut at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5.  Mondor took up track when she was 14 and quickly made a name for herself on the national scene, winning gold at the Canadian junior cross-country championships in 1997.  "I don't know if the racing was the pleasure of her life, I think most it was just the running part of it she enjoyed," said Mike Lonergan, who coached Mondor for four years when she lived in B.C.  She wore her love of her sport in the numerous tattoos that decorated her wiry body.  Mondor is survived by two younger sisters and her parents, Nicole and François.

Holyfield’s Next Bout

Excerpt from

(September 12, 2006) **
Evander Holyfield’s return to the ring continues with an upcoming bout against 33-year-old Fres Oquendo, scheduled to take place Nov. 10 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. "I am asked all the time why I still fight," Holyfield, 43, said at a news conference Thursday. "My answer is always the same. I want to reach my goal. And that goal is to become a world champion one more time. When I do, I'll sit down. Until then, I'm going to be in the battlefield." The “Real Deal” Holyfield stopped Jeremy Bates in the second round on Aug. 18 in Dallas. Oquendo, a Puerto Rican who fights out of Chicago, is 26-3 with 16 KOs. In February, he returned from a two-year layoff to stop Brazil's Daniel Bispo in the ninth round.