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


Updated:  September 21, 2006

Well, I suppose that fall has ... ummm, fallen!  Gotta love the 'no transition' factor in Toronto's weather. 

Went to the
A Tribe Called Quest concert on Sunday and was just blown away (but not surprised) by the reaction of their fans - see recap below.   Kayte Burgess rocks the airwaves with her new track, Now You Know, produced by the one and only Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest!  Check all the details below!  

And check out the details below on
Carlos Morgan aka Carll Parkes special fundraising concert on Sunday - 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


A Tribe Called Quest Bounce Tour

There's nothing like the chant of frenzied fans of varied generations and cultures that makes you aware that you're in the presence of musical greatness.  That was the case when the beloved
A Tribe Called Quest graced the stage at Koolhaus last Sunday.  Tribe's New York members include Q-Tip , Phife Dawg , and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

The cheering started with the sheer anticipation of Tribe's arrival onstage and latecomers were running through the entrance, screaming, to get into the Koolhaus to join the party.  The room was hot and loud and it only escalated each time the Tribe began a favourite hip hop track from their many hits from 'back in the day' - which was during the very birth of hip hop culture. 

It was a real joy to see fans, seasoned veterans of the music industry and local artists alike pumping their hands in the air and mouthing the words to their favourite Tribe track.  Some of the local artists in attendance that night included k-os, Starting from Scratch, Wade O. Brown, Kayte Burgess, Joel Joseph.  

Despite the well-documented difficulty of trying to reunite Tribe, that vibe was evident as the love boomeranged off the stage and back again.  The Bounce Tour - a historical concert that left Tribe fans drenched with sweat with the glow of unadulterated satisfaction on their faces.

For more on
Ali Shaheed Muhammad, see my interview with him HERE.


Kayte Burgess and Ali Shaheed Muhammad Team Up

Kayte Burgess is back on the scene!  Her first single “Now You Know recently hit the radio airwaves.  The track was produced by the talented Ali Shaheed Muhammad of Tribe Called Quest.  What a privilege!

Toronto's Kayte Burgess was the only Canadian artist to perform at NABFEME's All-Female Showcase, Women Who Jam last year.  Her single, "Now You Know" can be found on their CD compilation that was distributed at the conference to successful women in entertainment.  NABFEME also invited Kayte to tour with their other artists around the U.S. this past summer.

Don’t forget to REQUEST the track “
Now You Know” at FLOW 93.5 at 416-935-1935.  Have a listen at or and post your comment to Kayte directly!


Kayte Burgess is the product of urban cultural textures that exist in the fabric of Toronto, Canada. Kayte’s smooth deliverance of soul and dynamic vocal technique, topped off with a three and a half octave range, engages her listeners in intricate, sultry and fun performances. Kayte has eagerly pursued every opportunity she could to immerse herself within the music scene. At age 13, Kayte began studying classical voice, piano and harmony and furthered her education to obtain a degree in Jazz. While this musical education served to define her sound, Kayte’s true passion is soul music. She secured opportunities to showcase her skills for Quincy Jones, Lionel Ritchie, Mariah Carey, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, to name a few.

::top stories::

Quebec's Poised Soul Diva Eva Avila, 19, Crowned New Canadian Idol

Source: Canadian Press - By Cassandra Szklarski

(Sept. 17, 2006) TORONTO (CP) - Quebec's soul diva
Eva Avila has been crowned the new Canadian Idol.  The 19-year-old edged her younger competitor Craig Sharpe by just over 131,000 votes in a tight race that CTV officials say was determined by fans in western Canada.  Avila's win drew cheers from hundreds of friends and family that watched the show from a massive party at city hall in Gatineau, Que.  Avila thanked those fans in an emotional address that followed performances by chart-topper Nelly Furtado, last year's winner Melissa O'Neil, and the eight other contestants in this year's final 10.  "I'm just one tiny person on this planet but thanks to you guys, I'm feeling like I'm sitting on top of the world," said Avila, a trilingual beauty that drew fans from both Latin and francophone communities.  "I could not be happier."  She closed the show with a rendition of the next "Canadian Idol" single, "Meant to Fly," penned by singer-songwriters Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida.  Throughout the series, Avila, an R&B-tinged singer who considered Furtado her idol, earned praise from the judges for her poise and mature vocals.  But it was not an easy win.

Avila, who snags a record deal with Sony BMG and blanket publicity for an album due out this fall, won by a margin of just three per cent from the nearly four million votes cast.  "Canadian Idol" officials said she and Sharpe, of Upper Island Cove, N.L., were at a virtual tie when voting closed at 11 p.m. ET following their last performance Monday.  Sharpe, the youngest Top-10 competitor at age 16, often appeared awkward on stage but won consistent praise from the judges for his powerful voice.  The good-natured teen, the fourth from the Rock to make it to the top 5, was light-hearted when asked after the show how he felt.  "I think the first thing that came to my mind when they called Eva's name was, 'I'm free.' " Sharpe told reporters, who broke into laughter.  "Because I can do whatever I want now - go out and go nuts now."  Sharpe went on to congratulate his friend Avila and said he was eager to begin working on his own CD as soon as possible.  Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams and MPs Loyola Hearn and Fabian Manning were among the fans to cheer Sharpe on in the Toronto studio while hundreds watched at a Newfoundland community centre back home.

On Sunday, "Canadian Idol" officials announced that '80s sensation Cyndi Lauper has agreed to produce a track on Avila's CD, due this fall, while country star Martina McBride has invited Avila to join her on the Canadian leg of her tour next summer.  Lauper coached and performed on the show in July while McBride mentored the contestants in August.  Show host Ben Mulroney called Avila "the perfect Canadian Idol" noting the first-generation Canadian spoke English, French and Spanish.  The final episode launched with a medley of pop hits sung by previous competitors, including Avila's new beau, 18-year-old Chad Doucette of East Chezzetcook, N.S.  Celebrities in the audience included actress Amanda Bynes and stars of "Degrassi: the Next Generation," Lauren Collins and Adamo Ruggiero.

48 Hours With "Rock Star: Supernova" Winner Lukas Rossi

Source: Canadian Press, Shirley Halperin

(Sept. 15, 2006) He may be a reality TV star, but twelve hours after the
Rock Star: Supernova finale, reality had yet to set in for winner Lukas Rossi. "It's mind-blowing," he told us in a hangover haze while sitting poolside at new bandmate Tommy Lee's house, where he's crashing. "I'm just surprised anyone cares about a little punk from Toronto."  So are we! But like the hundreds of thousands who tuned in to see Tommy, Gilby Clark and Jason Newsted critique a glorified karaoke contest of freaks and geeks, we too were secretly captivated by the show and its two front-runners: the deep-voiced and dreadlocked South African Dilana Robichaux, and the emotive Lukas, who impressed both the judges and viewers with his intense delivery covering songs like Radiohead's "Creep" and the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony." Sure, he must have ravaged the local Sephora for eye shadow and glittery lipstick on a weekly basis, and maybe the whole sunglasses-at-night thing is a bit played out, but the act paid off for the twenty-nine-year-old high school drop-out. And Tommy, for one, called it early on. "As soon as I first saw him, I thought, 'That's our man.' It wasn't necessarily about finding the best singer or the right look, it was about finding the guy -- or girl -- that could front this band . . . and Lukas is that person."

Judging by his behaviour at the show's wrap party later that night, it seems Lukas has taken to his new rock star role quite naturally. Flanked on all sides by L.A.'s dimmest and drunkest, Lukas handled the ladies like he'd been negotiating groupie advances forever. To say that he liked the attention would be a major understatement. Even growing up, Lukas tells us, he didn't have pictures of his favourite bands the Cult or Smashing Pumpkins on his bedroom wall. "I wanted to be the one on the poster!"  And now that he may have that chance, this former line-cook at Hooters isn't wasting any time. He'll soon head into an L.A. studio to lay down vocals to almost a dozen already-written songs and one or two of his originals. And after that, the Supernova tour, which kicks off in December and features Dave Navarro's Panic Channel and the ridiculously rockin' Rock Star house band (fronted by the season's four runner-up contestants) as openers.  No doubt, it's a dream come true, but fame has its price and even on this first celebratory evening, Lukas paid it when he was accused by of leaving his girlfriend stranded outside of the Geisha House doors. Not cool, right? So being the stealth journos that we are, we tracked Lukas down the next night in the smoking section of the Henry Fonda Theatre where he, Dilana and finalists Tony Rand and Magni Asgeirsson came to see Supernova producer Butch Walker play with his band, the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites. Lukas's response to the item? "No comment." Tommy Lee has taught him well, indeed.

Toronto Hoops Star Critical

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Goddard, Staff Reporter

(Sep. 18, 2006) A top Toronto basketball recruit remained in critical condition today after being shot in the head at a university in Pittsburgh, Pa.  Power forward
Sam Ashaolu, 23, formerly of Nelson A. Boylen Collegiate in North York, was shot early Sunday as he was leaving the "College Bash '06" dance at Duquesne University where he is a student.  Family members who have arrived from Toronto to be with Ashaolu asked that no further details on his condition be released, a spokesperson for Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital said.  No arrests have been made, police said. They are looking for a single shooter, described as five-foot-four and wearing a white T-shirt, who sprayed bullets at Ashaolu and a group of his teammates, wounding four others.  All were attending the dance sponsored by the Black Students Union, open to students and non-students. Police said they believe the gunman does not attend the university.  Ashaolu, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 225 pounds, averaged 16 points and six rebounds last season with Lake Region Community College in Devils Lake, N.D. He also worked out for the Canadian national team last spring.  "Sam is a strong, physical inside player who has the ability to step out and shoot or drive," his coach Ron Everhart said when he recruited Ashaolu this summer. "He plays with a high level of intensity and toughness."

Two other players remained in hospital Monday night. Stuard Baldonado, 21, a 6-foot-7 forward and another junior college transfer, of Colombia, was upgraded to fair condition with left arm and back injuries. He was told by surgeons that a bullet missed his spinal column — which would almost certainly cause paralysis — by one-quarter of an inch before lodging in a lower back muscle.  Junior guard Kojo Mensah, 21, of New York City, who was shot in the arm and shoulder, was kept in the hospital for another night to receive injections of antibiotics.  Aaron Jackson, 20, of Hartford, Conn., and Shawn James, 23, of New York City were treated and released.

EUR Gospel Interview: Dave Hollister, A Man After God's Heart

Excerpt from - By Mona Austin /

(September 18, 2006)  Two weeks in advance of "The Book of David: Vol. 1 The Transition," his first gospel recording, former Blackstreet member
Dave Hollister talks about the transition to gospel.    After years of dodging his calling and encountering one negative experience after the other, Dave resolved to completely surrender to God.   Hollister reveals why singing R&B ever again would be a death wish. In Part 1 of a very candid interview, Dave relives the near tragic car accident that provoked sudden transformation in his life:

Mona Austin (MA): Give us some background on who Dave Hollister is.

Dave Hollister (DH): I was with Blackstreet and after the first album I started my solo career.  It's funny that my boy Tupac got killed yesterday and it's been ten years.  The day that he dies I was mixing my first solo album, "Ghetto Hymns."  When I found out he died I went back into the studio and did a re-make of Twinkie Clark's "Now Unto Him" for that reason.

DH:          I was still in the studio and I went back into the studio and did a remake of Twinkie Clarks “Now Unto Him”.

MA:        I didn't realize you'd already sang gospel.  

DH:          Yeah.  Just for that reason.  And it was the last song on the album, on my R&B album.  That was 10 years ago yesterday.

MA:      So you’ve gone from singing Ghetto Hymns to  church  hymns?

DH:          Yes definitely.  ( Laughing).  I had a 10 year R&B career which was very, very good to me, but towards the end of that about two years ago, I started to ,ah, you know just kinda feelin’ empty.  And I was missing something.  There was a void there.  I mean I had everything you know but my marriage had failed after 14 years.

MA:        Were their any children as a result of your marriage?

DH:          Yeah, we had two boys.

MA:        I’m sorry to hear that.

DH:          God is a healer.  He helped me out.  He definitely healed and restored me from the situation.  Now my boys are still out in L.A. Once we divorced, I left L.A. 

MA:        So are they teenagers?

DH:        Yes, my oldest is 14.

MA:        Is he Dave Jr.?

DH:          No.  I don’t have any juniors.  I don’t really like the junior thing ... My youngest boy will be 11 on  December 21, which is my heart.  I mean I love my oldest son, but I was there during the whole process with my youngest son.  With my oldest son, I was on the road when he was born.  Pretty much most of that time I was on the road.

DH:          You know that was a pretty rough and trying time for me.

MA:        Yes, but I wanted to recap  the details of your accident. 

DH:          Well, I was driving down the Topanga Canyon in L.A. which everybody would know what that is. I was driving down Topanga Canyon and I was very drunk and I had consumed a half of an eighth ounce of cocaine…half of an eighth ounce of cocaine.  So I was a little discombobulated.  I was trying to operate a vehicle at the time.

MA:        What were you driving?

DH:          A GMC Envoy and it was a rental from Enterprise.  And the wheel, the car kind of got away from me on one of the shaper turns.  The car got away from me and it did from what I remember three 360 spins and at the end of the third spin it flipped over three times.  And then at the end of that third time, I believe it was the third time it landed on all fours and slammed into the railing on the other side of the canyon which made the car tilt over and I was leaning over…

MA:        So it was almost suspended?

DH:          Yes.  The only thing that was holding it up was basically God but the railing that was there.  If I would have made one little move that thing would have tipped over and went over.  It’s almost like it was basically God was holding that truck up. 

MA:        Did you literally stare death in the face?

DH:          Definitely!  And it was so crazy Mona only because all the time the car was spinning and flipping all I heard was “I AM GOD, I AM GOD, I AM GOD.”

MA:        (Gasping)

DH:          And I just -- that’s all I could hear was that.

MA:        And you walked away from this without a scratch. I mean did you hit your head, did anything happen to you physically?

DH:          Yeah, the only thing that happened to me physically was that I hit my nose on the steering wheel and my nose bled onto my tee-shirt I had on.  But I did not realize that until I was out of the car and walking down the canyon.  I didn’t realize that I as bleeding because I didn’t feel anything and I didn’t see much.  All I knew was what the car was doing and I knew what the car was doing and I just heard God’s voice saying “I AM GOD, I AM GOD.” All I could say was “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” that’s all I could say.  And after that I crawled…God allowed me to crawl out of the other side.  If I can give you a picture of it…the car was actually laying, the side that I was driving was the side that the car was tipped on.  So I had to crawl up and out of the passenger side to get out of the car.

MA:        So it didn’t move obviously and you were able to get to safety.  How far did you have to walk to safety?

DH:          Actually, I had to walk down the rest of the canyon which had to be at least another mile.  Maybe. 

MA:        And where did you find assistance?

DH:          At the end of canyon…when I got almost to the end of the canyon there were cars and people stopping.  You know, they were stopping and asking me “Was I okay, was I okay”?  And I was like “Yeah, I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay”.  And then I got away now.  The reason I kept walking and doing that was because I had already had two DUI’s.  I was on probation for two DUI’s and then I already had a drug charge that I was on probation for.  So, if I got caught anymore then I would have went in jail for 5 or 6 years at least.

MA:        Because of the three strike rule?

DH:          Basically. 

MA:        How did you avoid that happening?

DH:          I just kept walking.  When people were calling me and asking me questions, I just kept walking.

MA:        I mean but after the entire ordeal was over…go ahead and finish your story.

DH:          Well, the police never found me.  They never found me.  The thing of it was I kept walking and people kept coming past.  It was a bunch of white people:  “Do you need a cell phone?  Do you need such and such? Do you need this?”  No I don’t need anything.  You know what I am saying.  Just let me walk and then I heard an ambulance or a fire truck or something like that and out of nowhere this black guy came and I…sometimes I still say he a was an angel because he came out of nowhere with the car and asked me if I needed help.  Do I need a ride somewhere?  He was the person that I took after about at least 10 people, he was the person that I took.   Everybody else was white except for this guy; he was a black guy…a young black guy with braids.  I don’t remember his name.  I don’t even remember too much of what he looked like, but he asked me did I want to go somewhere and I said “Yeah, I’m on my way to Malibu Inn.”  He said “Well come on because I know you don’t want to get caught out here with this car and you smell like you’ve been drinking and such.”  I said “Yeah.”  So he took me too Malibu Inn. 

Once I got to the Malibu Inn, he came in with me.  I had on a sweatsuit and the blood was on the t-shirt and I just zipped the jacket up so that they couldn’t see my shirt was bleeding.  And my normal ritual every week would be to come in, the manager of the band would be standing by the door waiting for me to get in with a smith of Hennessy.  You know like a triple shot of Hennessy.  A glass of smith filled up and he would hand it to me and I would take it and walk toward the stage.  And once I stepped on the stage they would start my intro music up and then we would go into my performance of the evening.  And it was basically an open mike night and I was the host and we used to call it church and I was the bishop.  That’s what the people that came there gave me that name;  they gave me the name bishop and the whole night was called church. 

MA:        Did you ever feel uncomfortable drinking under the circumstances since people called it 'church' ?

DH:          It wasn’t actually church.

MA:        I know but even with the connotation?

DH:          No, because you know people they’ve been calling me that basically all of my life, so it was…even in R&B it was “Bishop, how you feel doctor?” You know what I’m saying, even Mary J; everybody used to call me Bishop Dave Hollister.

MA:        Is that because they knew your upbringing with your parents in the church?

DH:          No.  It was basically because they would tell me every time I would open my mouth on stage, I would sound like a bishop or I would make everything sound like it was a church song.  I had the same the same intensity and the same fire as somebody in church.  My shows were like church services and it wasn’t the fact that I would say church things; it was just how it would come across. And you know the delivery and everything… because it is in me and that’s where I came from and I’m a son of two pastors.  So I guess it was just on me.   But it didn’t bother me at the time but this night I came in.  I walked past (the guy was with me) and I walked past the Smith and Hennessy and he was like “Bishop, you all right, you all right?”  I never said nothing I just walked straight up to the stage went to the middle of the stage where the mike was and I just looked at people, and they were all excited because I was finally there because I was late first of all.  They were excited that I was finally there and I just looked and I just sung ummm…What was the, I always forget the song because Smokie Norful’s “I Need You Now” always comes to mind when I’m telling it.  But “I Need Thee, O I Need Thee” was the only thing I could sing … and the musicians were from Chicago.  We all grew up together and they were from church so they knew once I started they went straight to it.  And the people were in the audience looking like “What is he doing?” You know what I mean because my opening song is normally Marvin Gaye (singing) “O mark us over been in long the have nots…”

MA:        “Makes Me Wanna Holla”

DH:          Yeah, “Make Me Wanna Holla” that’s usually was my opening song but I stopped them and I just stood in the middle of the stage and started singing “I Need Thee, O I Need Thee.” 

MA:        Did you tell them your testimony?  Did you refer to it at all that night?

DH:          Yeah but it was after I was singing and we’re talking about people and the reason I didn’t say anything at first because there were some cops that came in looking around and I just  kept singing the song until I saw them leaving.

MA:        Wow!

DH:          And once they left out of the building I kind of stopped them and were talking about a place that was packed to capacity.  A place that held only, maybe legally, about 750-800 people and there was clearly a 1000 to 1200 people every week in this place.  Packed like sardines and I’m not just talking about regular people, I’m talking about industry people like Alec Baldwin always was there.  Gwyneth Paltrow was there every Wednesday.  Some of the Dodgers were there; a couple of the Laker’s would come through.  It was like an industry place in Malibu

MA:        What was the name of the place?

DH:          Malibu Inn.  And it wasn’t a hotel.  It was a restaurant and club type of situation.  So after the cops had left out they left and I never saw the guy that brought me there.  I didn’t see him again.  And then I asked the manager did he see the guy that came in with me, did you see him leave and he said “Ain’t nobody come in with you.”  I said”huh?”  That’s why I am saying it seemed like this kid was an angel.  Because he said he didn’t seen nobody come in with me and I know he was walking with me.  He brought me there and he walked in with me.  But after the cops left I began to tell the people what happened to me that night and then I opened my shirt; I opened my jacket and they saw the blood and you could just hear the whole audience “Ohhh” and some people started crying.  And then I went back into the song and people’s hands just went straight up in the air and I am talking these same people.  Alec Baldwin was crying in the front with his hands up.  People had drinks in their hands but there hands were up and after I finished it was emotionally…the Holy Spirit came in.  I finished that song and I just told them look “It’s over for me y’all, It’s over” and I walked off that stage and I asked the manager of the band that we put together “Just take me home.”  And he said that when he got back to the club, people were still in there crying and there was basically churchin’ because I didn’t live but about ten minutes away from there.

MA:        What an amazing story.

DH:          And after that, that was it.

MA:        I remember you saying that you were done with R&B and I know you are close to Kelly Price and Kelly and a lot of artists who grew up in the church, they like doing both because R&B is just another expression of life for them.  But what made you shut the door on R&B for good?  What of that experience made you feel like you had to leave that behind you?

DH:          Because I feel that you can’t just serve two masters.  And to me that is serving two masters; that’s straddling the fence.  You know what I mean.  People don’t want to hear that because they tell you God gave you this talent for this and He did give you the talent for that reason.  Most of it was for to sing and edify Him, to worship Him.  It wasn’t for you to go out here and…I had to get that conviction for myself because when I was in the world I said the same thing.  I made reference to Christian doctors and Christian lawyers.  You have some Christian law firms you know.  A lot of the doctors who are saved they work in secular environments.  I used to make reference to that but God convicted me of that whole thing.  It’s just about people who want to live for God for real.  Who want to live a sold out life.  I don’t think that you can do both.  There’s no way.  If God is going to send you into those camps, He’s going to make a way for your music to be heard.  He’s going to give you the type of music that will allow you to go into those camps and minister to those people where they are at.  I don’t feel you have to go, you know, you  can’t do both to me.

Read the continuation of Dave Hollister’s story of redemption in the next Gospel Report.


Singer-Songwriter Kellylee Evans Nominated for TIMA


(Sept. 15, 2006) Acclaimed soul jazz singer and songwriter
Kellylee Evans has been nominated for a “Best Jazz” award at the Toronto Independent Music Awards.  The ceremony will be held in Toronto on October 5, 2006 at the Phoenix Theatre.  Evans was nominated alongside such stellar Canadian talent as Layah Jane, Emma Lee, Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People and blueVENUS.   Evans has been earning rave reviews for her soulful music and charismatic performances since her second place win of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition in 2004. The judges for the competition included Quincy Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Al Jarreau.  With the release of her debut album, "fight or flight?" this past May, her music has been reaching out across the world, garnering her praise, national radio play and strong sales.  The CD is comprised of 11 original songs from Evans, whose songwriting chops earned her comparison to Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello and Ron Sexsmith (Brian Lush,  The CD was also selected as a Barnes and Noble Discover New Artists release along with Corinne Bailey Rae and Gnarls Barkley.

On October 12th she will embark on her “From the Capital to the Capital” tour which begins the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and will end with a performance at the renowned Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  The event is part of their Discovery Jazz Series.   To arrange an interview with Kellylee Evans or for a review copy of “Fight or Flight?” please call Enliven! Media at 613-253-2017 or email

For more information about this artist, and to hear some of her music please visit the websites below.   

Final Fantasy Snags First-Ever Polaris Prize

Cassandra Szklarski, Canadian Press

(Sept. 19, 2006) TORONTO — Electronic act
Final Fantasy has snagged a $20,000 award for putting out the best Canadian album as deemed by the inaugural Polaris Music Prize.   Essentially the one-man project of violinist and singer Owen Pallett, Final Fantasy's album He Poos Clouds (Blocks Recording Club/Sonic Unyon) beat out a shortlist of releases from indie-scene favourites, including Broken Social Scene, Metric, Wolf Parade, The Deadly Snakes and the New Pornographers. The 27-year-old joked that he expected to double record sales after winning the prize, which he planned to share with friends and labelmates on Blocks Recording Club, a Toronto-based collective. "I always feel like Canadian critics, especially, have for a long time, been hesitant to get behind something and say, hey this is really great," Pallett, a classically trained violinist from Milton, Ont., said after the win. "It's just part of the Canadian mentality. I think the best thing about the Polaris prize is it's maybe going to set a precedent for people to actually get behind our artists." The winner was announced at a gala concert Monday that featured performances by fellow nominees Sarah Harmer of Kingston, Ont., Edmonton's Cadence Weapon, Toronto's K'Naan and Montreal's Malajube.

The prize is the brainchild of Toronto-based music industry veteran
Steve Jordan, who wanted to honour Canada's best album based on creative quality, irrespective of musical genre or sales figures. In tone and task, the prize is most comparable to the popular Mercury Prize in the U.K. Jordan said he came up with the idea five years ago while working as an A&R rep at Warner Music, noticing too many great but quirky bands fly under the radar. “It's an uphill battle,” Jordan said of talented bands that struggle to find an audience. “Playlists are shorter, media is consolidating, it gets harder and harder to get your songs on the radio.” But the Polaris prize recognizes only the quality of the record, Jordan noted, so nominees can include those that enjoy mainstream support. To be eligible, an album had to be released between June 1, 2005 and May 31, 2006. The entrants were selected from a pool of 165 by a panel of roughly 130 music journalists and broadcasters. As nominees toasted each other with champagne during the two-hour gala, an 11-member jury made up of arts journalists from across the country deliberated over the winner in a side room.

Jury member Rupert Bottenberg, music editor of the Mirror, questioned whether the shortlist adequately represented the whole country, noting that none of the albums came from Atlantic Canada and only one, Malajube, was francophone. “Welcome to Canada,” Bottenberg said sarcastically. “Everything starts and ends in Toronto, apparently.” Metric guitarist Jimmy Shaw said he was happy to see an award recognize talent instead of just record sales. “It's good that this is recognizing things that wouldn't normally have been recognized in the Junos or Much Music Video [Music] Awards or something like that.” He said he wasn't bothered by the decidedly indie rock feel to the shortlist. “The fact is, what is going on in Canada right now is there's a huge surge in indie music — that's what's happening and that's worth recognizing.” The prize money was provided by Rogers Wireless and Rogers Yahoo Hi-Speed Internet.

The First Polaris Music Prize Promises To Reward Merit

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Robert Everett-Green

(Sept. 18, 2006) There are lots of music awards in Canada, some well-known (the Junos) and some relatively obscure in spite of their longevity (the SOCAN Awards). But none of them have caught people's attention as quickly as the
Polaris Music Prize, the $20,000 award that will be given out for the first time this evening in Toronto. The Polaris was created last spring by veteran A&R guy Steve Jordan, as a Canadian version of Britain's Mercury Prize and as an antidote to the sales-oriented Junos. Unlike awards that compile short-lists based on numbers of albums sold, the Polaris will be given out solely for artistic merit, as determined by critics, music writers and other knowledgeable types with no financial relationship to the music industry. (SOCAN's new $5,000 Echo Songwriting Prize does something similar, but with an on-line vote for any of five songs chosen by "a panel of respected, knowledgeable tastemakers.") The Polaris has had an exemplary launch, helped no doubt by the participation of a major sponsor (Rogers Communications) and by the method of selection. Music journalists (including this one) were canvassed for nominations, which had an inevitably buoyant effect on media coverage. A compilation disc came out a few weeks ago on a major label (Warner Music Canada), further positioning the Polaris as something to be talked about in the same breath as the Junos or Grammys. The size of the purse and the winner-take-all nature of the contest also helped put the Polaris on the national radar.

Theoretically, music in any genre is eligible, so long as it appeared on a full-length recording released between June 1, 2005 and May 31, 2006.  But practically speaking, the Polaris is an indie-music award. Listening to the compilation CD is like hearing an hour's worth of programming on college radio, minus the meandering chatter. True, the range is broader than any niche-oriented campus program, encompassing the rootsy urbanity of Sarah Harmer, the grime-ish rap of Cadence Weapon, the florid pop-rock of Malajube, the whimsical chamber pop of Final Fantasy, and the war-zone rhymes of Somali-Canadian K'Naan. . With one exception (the now-defunct Deadly Snakes), the remainder of the list could have been guessed by anyone who keeps half an eye on popular music coverage in Canada: Broken Social Scene, Wolf Parade, The New Pornographers and Metric. The list skews to the indie scene because the 100-odd nominators are mostly concerned with popular music, and aren't the kind of people to be impressed by Nickelback's success at bagging platinum albums. So a classical or jazz CD, no matter how excellent, has about the same chance of winning the Polaris this year as Celine Dion has of getting a Nobel Prize. If a fixation on sales is the Junos' main drawback (bearing in mind that sales figures are also a measure of opinion), the weak point of the Polaris may have to do with the politics of the prize itself. The 11 members of the final jury, who will pick the winner at today's event, are bound to be affected by what their choice may say about Canada's newest album award. If they go with Broken Social Scene, for instance, the Polaris might appear to be rubber-stamping the last Juno verdict, which gave BSS an alternative-album award. If the jurors pick Final Fantasy, they will be standing up for stuff that's really (and maybe permanently) outside the mainstream -- a bit like last year's Mercury jury going for Antony and the Johnsons. Choosing Malajube could be seen as a message to English Canada about the overlooked merits of so much French-language music from Quebec. A win for Metric would look more commercial and Juno-ish.

No jury prize, probably, is immune to these considerations. It could be that once the Polaris has been around for a few years, it will be easier for the jurors to focus on quality alone. But I doubt it.  The result of this year's vote will probably influence next year's, and so on, as jurors who felt the previous winner was too mainstream, too alternative or too whatever, try to right the balance. Which is just to say that Polaris's official allegiance to quality alone is both a noble fiction and a questionable mythology. The Polaris Prize will be given out tonight at a concert ceremony at Toronto's Phoenix Concert Theatre. More information about SOCAN's Echo Songwriting Prize can be found at

Rapped Back To Their Roots

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Joshua Ostroff

(Sept. 20, 2006) Camped out in the Orange Lounge studios on Toronto's Queen Street West, Swollen's three members -- rappers
Mad Child and Prevail plus DJ/producer Rob the Viking -- are awkwardly answering questions from a teen mag interviewer about their dream dates. After yammering something about a Lear jet and Prev's mad cooking skills, they're rushed outside to an alley for a photo shoot while their manager sends a runner for more beer -- "Heineken only." They race back upstairs for more questioning before recording a performance for a website and driving to Guelph for a solo headlining gig. Then it's back to the Big Smoke to rock a Toronto Argonauts halftime show and, a few hours later, launch their tour opening for hip-pop superstars Black Eyed Peas. Whirlwind would not be an incorrect adjective to apply to the Vancouver rap outfit. You might think the biggest-selling hip-hop act in Canadian history could coast a little as they launch their latest album Black Magic. Then again, you may not have thought about Swollen Members for a while.

After rising up from the West Coast underground to take three consecutive Juno Awards, record smash hits like Fuel Injected and Breath (with childhood friend Nelly Furtado) and sell a few hundred thousand albums, Swollen Members simply deflated. They broke through with their gloriously gloomy 1999 debut Balance, but the group proved unable to satisfy both their original fans and new mainstream crowd, culminating in the disaster that was 2003's paean to the pop charts Heavy. "That's the only project we have reservations about. I like a certain amount of songs on that album, but we feel that whole project went in one particular direction and was rushed," Mad Child says. Notably, their most-commercial and worst-selling album has been excised from their website's official bio and discography. Swollen Members' domestic success had led to a deal with Virgin America, which hoped to turn them into the next Black Eyed Peas. The group relocated to Venice Beach, Calif., and spent four months recording Heavy, an album that was to be released only in Canada and used to build buzz for an American invasion. But blinded by the impending bling, they dulled their original edge with rote raps and bland club beats.

"I wasn't happy," adds Mad Child, who sounded conflicted even when promoting the album at the time. "We were feeling pressures of signing with a major label. We were too concerned with business and not the art and we will never think along those lines again." After Heavy, they immediately started work on their major label debut. But after several contentious weeks of recording with The Matrix -- the pop-oriented production team behind Avril Lavigne and Hilary Duff -- they fled in frustration, returning north to Vancouver and leaving the Virgin deal in their wake. "[The Matrix] are extremely talented at what they do and we're confident that we're extremely talented at what we do. We tried to find a segue, a middle road, and there just wasn't one to be found," Prevail says. Though they retreated, they didn't give up. Having released everything up to that point on their own label, Battle Axe Records, Swollen Members may not have been ready to follow a boss's instructions, but they still had ambitions to be the first Canadian hip-hop act to finally break America -- just on their own terms. "What Swollen Members has learned from that experience is to make music for yourself first," Mad Child says. "If you're happy with it and then people like it, perfect. So we went back to how we made albums with Balance and Bad Dreams. We took our time. We paid attention to detail. We focused. And we made music for ourselves."

They also downsized. Moka Only, who sang the poppy hooks on their biggest hits and appears only briefly on the new album, left the group amicably and even took a couple of those Matrix tracks for his recent solo effort, The Desired Effect. His absence allowed Swollen Members to return to their darker roots. Or as Prev puts it: "We got back to the signature Swollen Members sound, which is being able to paint an abstract lyrical picture over driven, excited beats." For the past two years, they've been recording Black Magic by themselves, only afterward cutting a licensing deal with Universal Music Canada and a worldwide distribution deal with TVT Records. "We're going to continue to make music that way. We're not going to let other people come in the picture and give us direction," Mad Child spits disdainfully. Once they finish crossing Canada with the Peas, their tour bus will turn south. Having always been a cult act in America, they've spent much of the recent past down in the United States, "growing an army" via their own gigs and opening for the likes of Ghostface Killah, a career model who lends a verse and his considerable credibility to the Swollen Members' new album highlight Weight. "We have to get this music out to as many people as possible and make our fellow Canadians proud of the fact that we're not just a Canadian rap group but a Canadian rap group that is popular, established and well known worldwide," Prevail says. "That's our dream," Mad Child throws in. "That's our goal right there."

Swollen Members' Canadian tour dates include Toronto tonight on MTV Live; London, Ont., tomorrow; Barrie, Ont., Sept. 22; St. Catharines, Ont. Sept. 23; Sudbury Sept. 25; Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Sept. 26; Thunder Bay Sept. 27; Winnipeg Sept. 30; Saskatoon Oct. 1; Regina Oct. 2; Calgary Oct. 3; Edmonton Oct. 4; Vancouver Oct. 6 and Victoria Oct. 7; Toronto Nov. 24, and Ottawa Nov. 25.

John Mayer Keeps It Cool

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Alwynne Gwilt, Entertainment Reporter

(Sep. 18, 2006) Wearing everything from high heels to skate shoes, a diverse crowd greeted the fashionably late
John Mayer in Yonge-Dundas Square for a free concert Saturday.  He sauntered onstage with a coy smile for the crowd 22 minutes past his 4 p.m. start time.  But that didn't stop the hundreds of girls (and guys) packed in and around the square from screaming like maniacs as the pale-faced, curly-haired songwriter gently picked up his guitar and signalled to his bandmates to get the show started.  Mayer seemed to care more about his instruments than wardrobe. Wearing baggy green cargos, black-and-white track jacket and green-laced skate shoes, Mayer's brilliant red Fender guitar detailed with Asian-inspired art was what stood out.  But not for long. Once Mayer and his seven-member band started playing, it was hard to look away. His casual attitude underplayed his strumming skills, as he diverted from singing into long riffs on one of his many guitars.

It was the second free concert in the square hosted by retailer Best Buy to celebrate a new store.
Beyoncé rocked the packed square the night before.  Not all the songs were from his new album Continuum, which dropped last week. Pulling from two of his other discs — 2001's Room for Squares and 2003's Heavier Things — Mayer played with the crowd, getting them to thunderously sing chorus lines to pop hits "Bigger Than My Body" and "My Stupid Mouth.'  And though the latest disc had been out for less than a week, many knew the lyrics well, singing easily along to its first released single, "Waiting On the World to Change."  Many in the audience pulled out cameras and camera phones to record the rare occasion of getting so close to Mayer. Some got fully into the moment, swinging from side to side during the lighter tunes like "Why Georgia" and "Daughters," while others — especially one dark-eyed girl at the front in a teal sweater — tried wistfully to catch the singer's eye, hoping to make a connection.  As Mayer wound down his surprisingly lengthy 60-minute set, playing "No Such Thing" — the single he said "first brought me up here five years ago" — the late-afternoon sun further heated up the crowd.  Just as casually as he had entered, he strolled offstage to the throngs of waiting fans who were hoping for a backstage glimpse of their idol.

Busy, Brassy Beyoncé Destiny's Grownup

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Victoria Ahearn, Canadian Press

(Sep. 15, 2006)
Beyoncé Knowles was nearly dumbstruck yesterday upon arriving in Toronto when she realized she was back in the country where she and her Destiny's Child bandmates got their start — and reached the end as a group.  "My very first tour with Destiny's Child was in Canada with Wyclef (Jean) and at the time we were in a little minivan ... we were the happiest kids in the world," she said, curled up on the couch in her posh hotel room.  Then she smiled, remembering how the group that she formed at the tender age of 9 also performed their final concert in Vancouver just a year ago.  "I never realized that until right now," she said with a laugh. ``It's weird."  The pop diva with the honey vocals and honey-coloured hair, who goes by just Beyoncé, is here to promote her second solo album, B'Day.  The record, released a day after her 25th birthday on Sept. 4, just hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in its debut week, selling just over 541,000 units, according to Sony.  The success brought ``relief," she said, because she was nervous about how her fans would embrace the new, forceful sound.  "This record is different and I wasn't sure if everybody would understand it," said Beyoncé, sniffing from a cold that she was trying to subdue before her MuchMusic appearance last night. (She's also to perform a free concert at 8 tonight at Yonge-Dundas Square.)  The R&B vocalist co-produced, co-wrote and arranged the 11-track disc, which has harder beats than her five-time Grammy-winning debut album, Dangerously in Love, in 2003.

The first single, "Deja Vu," features her boyfriend, rap mogul Jay-Z, as a guest artist. Her father, Mathew Knowles, executive-produced the project and her sister, Solange Knowles, helped produce.  "At the time, I just loved it, so I didn't care (about the reaction)," she said of the month-long recording process this past spring.  "But, you know, when it's time for the record to come out, you're like, `Oh God, did I make a mistake?' But everybody is allowing me to grow, so it feels good."  Indeed, Beyoncé has grown quite a bit since she and bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams rang down the curtain on Destiny's Child at Vancouver's GM Place.  Since then, the nine-time Grammy winner has acted in The Pink Panther and worked on campaigns for L'Oreal and a Tommy Hilfiger perfume.  She also made People magazine's "100 Most Beautiful People" list in April, put together her record and maintained her clothing line, House of Dereon.  "There are certain artists who have the responsibility of setting the trends and being innovative and I feel like I'm one of those artists," said Beyoncé, who's now learning to play acoustic guitar.  Coming out in December is her star turn in the film Dreamgirls, an adaptation of the stage musical co-starring Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy.  She's cast as Deena Jones, the lead singer in a female trio prodded to make the transition from soul to pop stardom by a canny manager in the 1960s and '70s.  The curvy singer said playing such a demure character as Jones likely led to the harder sound on her new disc.  "She was held back, held in and contrived, and everything was whispery," said Beyoncé. "Doing that for six months, I just wanted to scream and unleash. So I did ... I just felt really strong and that's just what came out of the studio."

Dylan's `Modern Times' dates back to Civil War

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Motoko Rich, New York Times

(Sep. 16, 2006) Perhaps you've never heard of Henry Timrod, sometimes known as the poet laureate of the Confederacy.  But maybe you've heard his words, if you're one of the 320,000 people so far who have bought
Bob Dylan's latest album, Modern Times, which made its debut last week at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. (It was No. 1 in Canada and Toronto as well.)  It seems that many of the lyrics on that album, Dylan's first No. 1 album in 30 years, bear some strong echoes to the poems of Timrod, a Charleston, S.C., native who wrote poems about the American Civil War and died in 1867 at the age of 39.  "More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours," the 65-year-old Dylan sings in "When the Deal Goes Down," one of the songs on Modern Times. Compare that to these lines from Timrod's "Rhapsody of a Southern Winter Night":  A round of precious hours  Oh! here, where in that summer noon I basked  And strove, with logic frailer than the flowers.

"No doubt about it, there has been some borrowing going on," said Walter Brian Cisco, who wrote a 2004 biography of Timrod, when shown Dylan's lyrics. Cisco said he could find at least six other phrases from Timrod's poetry that appeared in Dylan's songs. But Cisco didn't seem particularly bothered by that. "I'm glad Timrod is getting some recognition," he said.  Henry Timrod was born in 1828 and was a private tutor on plantations before the Civil War started. He tried to sign up for the Confederate Army but was unable to serve in the field because he suffered from tuberculosis. He worked as an editor for a daily paper in Columbia, S.C., and began writing poems about the war and how it affected the residents of the South.  He also wrote love poems and ruminations on nature. During his lifetime he published only one volume of poetry. Among his most famous poems were "Ode Sung on the Occasion of Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina 1866," and "Ethnogenesis." Cisco could not find any phrases from these poems in Dylan's lyrics.  Dylan does not acknowledge any debt to Timrod on Modern Times. The liner notes simply say "All songs written by Bob Dylan" (although some fans have noted online the title of the album contains the letters of Timrod's last name).

Nor does he credit the traditional blues songs from which he took the titles, tunes and some lyrics for "Rollin' and Tumblin'" and "Nettie Moore."  This isn't the first time fans have found striking similarities between Dylan's lyrics and the words of other writers. On his last album, Love and Theft, a fan spotted about a dozen passages similar to lines from Confessions of a Yakuza, a gangster novel by Junichi Saga, an obscure Japanese writer. Other fans have pointed out the numerous references to lines of dialogue from movies and dramas that appear throughout Dylan's oeuvre. Example: "Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word" echoes a line from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  Scott Warmuth, a disc jockey in Albuquerque, N.M., discovered the concordances between Dylan's lyrics and Timrod's poetry.  He still considers Dylan's work original. "You could give the collected works of Henry Timrod to a bunch of people, but none of them are going to come up with Bob Dylan songs," he said.  Dylan could not be reached through his publicist for comment. A spokeswoman for his label Columbia did not return calls for comment.  Because Timrod is long dead and his work has fallen out of copyright — you can find his collected poems on the Internet — there is no legal claim that could be made against Dylan.

Chingy The 'Hoodstar' Is Back

Source: Capitol Records

September 14, 2006)   In 2003, Chingy cashed in with his now classic, triple-platinum album Jackpot.  He struck certified platinum again in ‘04’ with PowerBallin’, which proved to the world that Chingy was no one-hit wonder.   Now it’s 2006 and Ching-a-Ling is back with his third and most exciting album, Hoodstar, on sale Sept 19.  This time, it’s personal.   “I’m from the ghetto and I wanted to show my appreciation for where I come from,” he says.  “Even if you’ve had success, you don’t ever forget where you come from.” Hoodstar is one album you won’t soon forget, either.  Part auto-biographical, part club-bangin’, it chronicles the life of a star from the hood—the highs, the lows, and all the girls, cars, clothes, and everything in between.  The record is also a great big shout out to Chingy’s hometown—Walnut Park in North Side St. Louis. To make musical magic, Chingy assembled an all-hoodstar team of producers, including Jermaine Dupri, Poli Paul, Timbaland, The Trak Starz, Mannie Fresh, Mr. Collipark and Kwame.  Guest artists include Three 6 Mafia, Tyrese, Young Spiffy and Fatman Scoop. The album is divided into two parts, each highlighting a different side of Chingy’s musical style:  The “Hood” side is street-smart and crunk-heavy.  “These are the hardcore jams,” Chingy explains.  Songs like “Hands Up” and “Cadillac Door”, talk about life in the ghetto in raw and real terms.  On the “Star” side, Chingy lightens up the vibe, cranking out high-energy, party anthems like “Brand New Kicks” and “Dem Jeans”.  Music, that in his words, “gets you so amped you just come out of your shirt.”

Hoodstar’s personal tone is captured perfectly in the lead single, “Pullin’ Me Back.” Over a smooth, R&B track, Chingy rhymes with his trademark laid-back flow about the difficulties of balancing a successful career and a personal relationship.  He confesses the jam was inspired by a real-life experience.  “Somebody that I was seeing made that song happen.”  But he also says it speaks to a universal problem in the industry.  “If you’ve got a woman in this business, you are not going to be able to give her that quality time,” he says.  “You’re going to try, but you’re also on the road, and it’s hard to keep the relationship going.” The track was produced by Jermaine Dupri, and Chingy says the first time he heard it, he immediately got into the zone:  “I just went down to the studio in my basement and laced it on the spot,” he recalls. Chingy gets the party started with the next single, “U A Freak,” a Hindi/Hip Hop nod to the Janet Jackson classic “Nasty.”  “This is a club record,” he says.  “Every woman and man says they’re not a freak, but then they hit the dance floor and everybody is bumping and grinding.  Everyone’s got some freak in them.” He continues getting his freak on with the dance-floor anthem “Ass N Da Aurr,” featuring Chingy’s cousin Young Spiffy with beats by Sanchez.  Says Chingy, “That’s a grown up sexy song.  You can play it at the 18 and older club and the 35 and older club.  It appeals to everybody.” Next, Chingy turns his attention to his favourite accessory—kicks.  He claims to own over 4,000 pairs of sneakers, so when Poli Paul sent him a sample of Jay-Z rhyming “Nike Airs and Crispy Ts”, the lyrics resonated with him.  Putting his own St. Louis twist on it (Airs became Aurrs), he captures a day in the life of a Hoodstar to a T. The album takes a harder turn with the bass-thumping “Club Getting Crowded,” a 100% crunk-proof record that Chingy says was inspired by hanging out at clubs in Memphis with Three 6 Mafia.  “You know how you can be at a club and a certain song comes on and everybody just goes haywire?” he asks.  “That’s what this record is.”

On the romantic tip, Chingy serves up the smart and sexy “Let Me Luv You.”  Timbaland provides the stuttering, bass-heavy sonics, while Chingy waxes poetic about lust at first sight.  He sets the scene for us: “You’re at a lounge, chilling, and you see a young lady that just catches your attention.  And you would do anything for her right there on the spot.” Perhaps the album’s most important cut is “Cadillac Door”, which details the struggles in the ghetto. When Chingy first heard the chorus, he was deeply moved.  “It meant a lot to me personally,” he says.  “With all I’ve gone through— rapping when no one was showing me love and watching people close to me pass away—that’s a real serious song for me.”  He says the overall message of the song is the same one he uses to navigate his own life: “Keep it positive and don’t let negativity get you down.”   In fact, it’s this spirit of positivity and his desire to give back to the community that caused Chingy to launch the Chingy for Change Foundation with his mother.  The foundation gives college scholarships to disadvantaged youth, feeds the homeless, and sponsors toy drives. “It’s all about helping folks with their dreams and enabling them to do things they normally wouldn’t have the chance to do,” Chingy says.  Spoken like a true Hoodstar. Chingy is back.



Jerry Lee Lewis Releases New Disc

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Woody Baird, Associated Press

(Sep. 16, 2006) MEMPHIS, Tenn.—
Jerry Lee Lewis's hard-headed life of self-destructive recklessness — filled with drugs, booze, scandal and broken marriages — didn't seem like it would be the formula for a long career.  But "The Killer" is still rocking.  Just shy of his 71st birthday, Lewis — who had his first hell-raising hit 49 years ago with "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" — is releasing his first studio album in more than a decade.  "I just felt like I was ready to do it again," Lewis said with a smile.  Its title? Last Man Standing.  As a pioneer rock 'n' roller for Sam Phillips' legendary Sun Records, Lewis was a member of the so-called "Million Dollar Quartet" with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. The young Sun stars carved a special place in the history of American music for Phillips's label and influenced generations of future rock 'n' rollers.  Now, Lewis is the only one left.  Presley died in 1977, Perkins in 1998 and Cash and Phillips in 2003. "I AM the last man standing," Lewis said. "And the last one breathing."

Though Lewis didn't have the popularity of the King of Rock 'n' Roll or the critical legacy of Cash, he is still one of the more important figures in the history of rock 'n' roll. His rollicking piano licks, along with his own fiery voice, fuelled a few of rock's most influential songs — most notably, the ultimate classic, "Great Balls of Fire."  But he set off one of the great rock 'n' roll scandals by marrying his 13-year-old cousin in 1957 while still married to someone else. His once-soaring career never quite recovered, though his image has been sufficiently rehabilitated.  He never stopped making music, however. His new album, scheduled for release Sept. 26, was five years in the making.  Lewis is joined on the 21-song album by 21 guests, including Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, George Jones and Kid Rock. But the focus is on Lewis. The guests mostly sing harmony, backup or play instruments.  "I'm definitely satisfied with it," he said. "I think it's the best album we've done in 20 years."  Jimmy Rip, one of the album's producers, said he asked long-time friend Mick Jagger to take part and other artists began signing up as the project grew.  "We never really planned this as being a duet record. It just sort of turned out that way," Rip said. "People actually started to ask me, `How come I'm not on the record?'"  The album includes "Pink Cadillac" with Springsteen, "Traveling Band" with John Fogerty, "That Kind of Fool" with Keith Richards, "Trouble in Mind" with Eric Clapton," "You Don't Have to Go," with Neil Young and "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age" with George Jones.  Lewis, who nearly died from bleeding ulcers in 1981, has stumbled through six marriages, two of which ended with the deaths of his wives. He divorced his sixth wife last year.  He's buried two children who died in accidents and fought the IRS over unpaid taxes, with tax agents even showing up at concerts to seize his pay, which he preferred in cash.  Nowadays, says daughter Phoebe Lewis, he spends his free time entertaining friends with lemonade and stories of the old days and with leisurely drives around rural Mississippi in his red Cadillac convertible.  Lewis wraps up the new album with Kris Kristofferson and "The Pilgrim: Chapter 33," a song about a life of wrong turns spent reaching for the stars. It ends with Lewis speaking one of song's main lines — "the goin' up was worth the comin' down."  "I don't know if I agree with that line or not," Lewis said, "not all the way."

Baritone Felled By Diabetes

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

(Sep. 15, 2006) The
Canadian Opera Company announced yesterday that baritone Pavlo Hunka has withdrawn from singing in its current production of Richard Wagner's four-opera Ring of the Nibelungs cycle, which concludes on Oct. 1.  He will also not be singing in the company's October production of Mozart's Cosí fan tutte.  Hunka walked out of Ring dress rehearsals eight days ago.  At a release party held yesterday at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts for the singer's new two-disc set of Ukrainian art songs, Hunka revealed that he has been diagnosed with diabetes.  The disease has drained him of energy and it will take some time to stabilize his blood sugar, Hunka said.  "I'll get myself together again and I'll be back in the New Year," said the baritone, who is returning home to England today.  COC

general director Richard Bradshaw said yesterday that "we've had a wonderful relationship with Pavlo over the past several years. It is a great sadness that he couldn't stay with the Ring."  There appear to be no hard feelings, as Bradshaw announced that Hunka "will be back, and he'll remain a very important part of the Canadian Opera Company in the future."  The COC has not announced who will sing the role of Wotan/The Wanderer in the next presentation of the 16-hour operatic cycle, which begins next Tuesday.  Understudy John Fanning performed as Wotan in the first opera, Das Rheingold on Tuesday.  Peteris Eglitis sang the role in Wednesday night's presentation of Die Walküre and will also perform as The Wanderer in this afternoon's presentation of Siegfried. Eglitis sang these roles in 2004 and 2005.  Wotan/The Wanderer does not appear in the final opera, Götterdämmerung, which is on stage Sunday afternoon.

Steel Yourself: Six-String Festival Slides Into Town

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Tony Montague, Special to The Globe and Mail

(Sept. 15, 2006) Just over a century ago, a Hawaiian musician found that by raising the six strings of his instrument and sliding a small metal rod over them, he could produce a harmonious glissando. Thus, the
steel guitar was born. The new style of playing caught on quickly, especially in North America, and inspired guitar makers to develop ingenious variations on the basic box. "The main types are the Dobro, the Weissenborn, the lap steel and the pedal steel -- all of which you'll be able to hear at our event," says Kat Wahamaa, co-founder of the Vancouver Steel Guitar Festival, which starts on Sept. 21. "I've always loved the sound they make because it's so much like the human voice. You can play all the notes between the notes, and bend them around." Wahamaa and her partner, Tony Rees, both members of the western swing band ShinyBuckle, created the festival four years ago to showcase some of the fine steel guitarists they had come to know around town. "The community here is unusually rich, but surprisingly, many of the musicians had never met," Rees says. "The first VSGF was a real discovery for everyone concerned, and generated quite a buzz, though for various reasons were weren't able to do it again until last year. Our aim is to present a range of different styles, from bluegrass to surf, and get more musicians to take up steel guitar."

There will be concerts on Thursday and Friday nights, and workshops on Saturday for learners. Highlights include performances by ShinyBuckle with veteran pedal-steel player Hank Rodgers, Dobro master Doug Cox with Todd Butler, Juno-Award winner Steve Dawson, and the Gang of Five -- an all-steel-guitar band led by local luthier and gypsy-jazz player Michael Dunn. "When you've just got one steel guitarist, he can go pretty much wherever he wants in terms of bending the notes," Rees says. "Having five of them sliding about together is a real challenge to pull off, but it's the kind of daring proposition that we like to see and to encourage." The Vancouver Steel Guitar Festival runs Sept. 21 to 23. Workshop tickets are $10, concerts are $20 and festival passes are $40. WISE Hall, 1882 Adanac St., 604-254-5858,

Matterhorn Hits The Charts

Excerpt from
- By Kevin Jackson

(Sept. 14, 2006) *His feisty attitude has kept him at or near the top of the sound system game for many years.
Tony Matterhorn has now found new territory as a dancehall deejay with a handful of hits pounding the dancehall both locally and overseas. Dubbed 'Mr. Fully Loaded' for his intense battles at the annual beach event, Matterhorn has captured a new fan base with the globe-trotting Dutty Wine single which spent 13 weeks at number one on the RETV Dancehall Chart, and eleven weeks at the top of the UK's BBC 1Xtra Dancehall chart. Dutty Wine's success hasn't been confined to the dancehall charts. The song last week peaked at number 35 on Billboard's R&B Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart in the US. A follow-up single, Goodas Fi Dem from producer Mark Pinnock's Gully Slime rhythm on the Natural Bridge label, has taken over the number one spot on the charts in Jamaica.  Matterhorn, whose real name is Dufton Taylor has now found himself much busier than in previous years. In a recent interview, Matterhorn pointed out that his career is enjoying an all- time high and he is capitalizing on every moment that presents itself. "Pretty much things have changed a lot now. I am in the studios more than before, doing dubs for other sounds but its all good," he explained. Matterhorn got his initial start in the sound system arena in the early 1990s. "I was going to school when Wally from Inner City sound and Mark dem decide to teach mi one day about the sound thing. I was always listening to people like Professor Nuts and Stichie from back in the day. The deejay thing just evolved from being around artistes like Bounty Killer and Mad Cobra,” said Matterhorn.

Asked whether he was surprised at the success of Dutty Wine, Mattehorn said "The song took about 15 minutes to do, right in my living room couch. Me and Ding Dong and some friends were running a boat. The song was created for the girls from Montego Bay who were doing the Dutty Wine dance. I did had the feeling that the song was going to be big, but not as big as it turned out to be." With plans for an album of material almost completed, a touring schedule being finalised and attention coming from major record labels including Atlantic and Universal Records, Matterhorn said that his selector persona will always be active, despite his new-found success as a vocalist. "The album is almost complete. I need about two more tracks for it, but the selector Tony Matterhorn isn't going anywhere," he said. Added Matterhorn, "I have about four or five new singles to drop on the road, but mi kinda hold them back still. There is a song called Man From Mars that's doing well in New York right now. Goodas Fi Dem is doing well. I just have to give thanks for all that's happening".

Youtube Goes Legit; Signs Deal With Warner

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - BARRIE MCKENNA

(Sept. 19, 2006) WASHINGTON -- The two twentysomething founders of
YouTube Inc. cemented their position atop the video-sharing market yesterday in a deal with Warner Music Group Corp. to air its music videos and split potentially lucrative advertising revenue. Videos from artists such as Eric Clapton, Madonna and Van Morrison will soon be legally available for the first time on YouTube -- a wildly popular Web bazaar that is to video what Napster was to music. YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley said the deal creates a model for how media companies can make money from the practice of Internet users uploading and viewing each other's favourite video clips. "We are paving the way for media companies to harness the vast financial potential of user-generated content on YouTube," Mr. Hurley said of the deal with Warner. YouTube, which dishes up more than 100 million videos a day, is a 19-month-old company created by Mr. Hurley, 29, and Steve Chen, 25, who met in 1999 while working at Internet money transfer company PayPal. They dreamed up the idea of YouTube after sharing their frustration about the absence of a video-sharing website. For all its notoriety, YouTube hasn't yet become a winning business model. It spends an estimated $1.5-million (U.S.) a month streaming all those videos, but has limited revenues. Hefty legal bills from fighting lawsuits launched by the entertainment industry could eventually become a financial burden.

The company generates some ad revenue. It also sells access to video "channels" on its home page. By doing a deal with YouTube, Warner is taking a very different tack from rival Universal Music Group, which has hinted it will soon file copyright infringement lawsuits against YouTube and other Web businesses, including social networking site "Technology is changing entertainment and Warner Music is embracing innovation," said Warner chairman and chief executive officer Edgar Bronfman Jr. "As user-generated content becomes more prevalent, this kind of partnership will allow music fans to celebrate the music of their favourite artists, enable artists to reach consumers in new ways and ensure that copyright holders and artists are fairly compensated." The company was launched with $11.5-million in venture capital. It now serves up nearly 60 per cent of all videos seen on-line, according to one estimate. Content includes everything from commercials and TV shows to homemade music videos and personal webcasts. One of YouTube's most watched video clips of the past few months was Lonelygirl15, a pouting teenager who webcast regularly from her bedroom somewhere in Middle America. She was recently exposed as an actress playing a part created by three aspiring moviemakers from California. Last week, Universal Music chief executive officer Doug Morris accused MySpace and YouTube of being "copyright infringers" that owe the company tens of millions of dollars.

"How we deal with these companies will be revealed shortly," Mr. Morris said. By doing a deal with YouTube, Warner Music is rewarding alleged copyright pirates, suggested one intellectual property lawyer, who declined to be named. "This does the opposite of what the music industry wants because it sends the message that the way to get the industry's attention is to become the biggest copyright pirate around," the lawyer said. The lawyer added that record companies such as Warner wouldn't have to share revenues with anyone if they had the foresight to distribute their own content on the Web, instead of leaving the market open to YouTube and others. "They should have done this on their own two years ago," the lawyer said. Nonetheless, Deutsche Bank analyst Doug Mitchelson suggested in a report to clients that YouTube, at least, is showing its willingness to "tackle the thorny copyright issues facing it and other sites that allow users to upload video content." Under the deal reached with Warner, YouTube has pledged to help the record company distribute music videos, behind-the-scenes footage, artist interviews and other promotional material. In return, YouTube has agreed to deploy a content identification system that will allow it to track and report royalties owed to media companies from copyrighted material posted on the site. Warner Music is the world's fourth-largest record label.

YouTube FAQ | From underground to everywhere

What is YouTube?

Company lets consumers watch and share original videos without charge on

How does it work?

Users can easily upload clips through websites, blogs and e-mail. Videos are watched using free software such as Adobe Inc.'s Flash.

Who can post?

Anyone with Internet access who has registered at YouTube.

How big is YouTube?

Site delivers more than 100 million video views each day and 65,000 new video uploads.

Who owns YouTube?

Founded in February, 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim. Mr. Karim left to pursue an advanced degree at Stanford. Mr. Hurley is CEO, Mr. Chen is CTO. The founders received funding from Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm, in return for an equity stake.

How does it make money?

Through advertisements.

What is the significance of yesterday's deal with Warner Music?

A global media company legitimizes the viability of user-generated content

Sidesteps copyright infringement issues by letting the two companies share advertising revenue

Gives Warner, the world's No. 4 record company, a distribution platform on the Web's most popular video site

Gives YouTube users legitimate access to Warner content

Deal allows users to incorporate Warner content into their own


Most popular video?

Judson Laipply's Evolution of Dance, with 32.8 million hits, takes the viewer from Elvis to Eminem in 6 minutes.

Most subscribed channel?

Lonelygirl15, about a girl who claimed to be a home-schooled 16-year-old girl named Bree, but who was exposed as 19-year-old actress Jessica Rose.

Krall Returns To Her Roots

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry

(Sep. 19, 2006)
Diana Krall is tickled pink — or is that blue?  Canada's premiere jazz vocalist isn't revealing the gender of the twins she's expecting with husband Elvis Costello, but the customarily media-shy artist is brimming with glee about first-time motherhood.  "I'm really happy," gushed Krall, 41, during a recent Toronto visit to promote her new disc From This Moment On, which arrives in stores today.  "You have ideas and dreams of doing things, and they've all sort of come true, bigger than I've ever imagined. This too. Lots of women are having children later, so I don't feel any age (pressures), but ask me that in a year. I'm not living in the future or the past these days; I'm living very much in the moment. It's the healthiest way to be."  And for the sake of her babies, due in December, Krall's professional duties grind to a halt with a performance at the $400-a-ticket opening night gala of Brampton's Rose Theatre Sept. 29. It will be the only opportunity for fans to hear the new material live until she resumes touring next summer.  "I have to stop, because with twins I'm high risk and I'm tired," explained the singer-pianist, who has put in up to 300 days on the road some years.  Chicly clad in black — low-cut baby doll dress and suede boots — she languidly sipped tea during an interview in a cozy Four Seasons Hotel suite, the other hand resting across her bump.  "I was booked in Las Vegas at the end of October with a big band for four dates, but I had to cancel that because I don't know how well I'm going to be able to move around by that time.  "It's interesting for me to have to pull back and say `no' and be careful, because I'm usually very tireless."

The Nanaimo, B.C., native has sold more than 14 million copies of her nine albums since her 1993 recording debut, garnering seven Junos and two Grammys.  She moved into the superstar ranks with 1998's Grammy-winning When I Look in Your Eyes, the first jazz record to be nominated for Album of the Year in 25 years. That was followed by 2001 bestseller The Look of Love. But 2004's The Girl in the Other Room was a departure from the entertainer's usual fare of standards, comprised of dark renderings of contemporary pop tunes and original tracks co-written with her singer-songwriter spouse. It was critically acclaimed but didn't match previous sales.  Krall's 10th album has her back on familiar ground, reinventing jazz favourites such as "Willow Weep For Me," "Day In, Day Out" and "How Insensitive," and not contributing a single original composition.  "I just didn't feel like it," she says simply. "A couple of people said to me `You have to write one song for this record.' I thought maybe I would, but I just didn't get around to it. I was busy writing arrangements and working on other arrangements.  "If something doesn't feel right for me, then I don't force it. I've written a couple things, but they're too hard for me to sing. I had other singers in mind like Sarah Vaughan or somebody like that. There's one I'd love to hear Dianne Reeves sing, because it's like a standard kind of ballad."  Recorded mostly with the stellar Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, but also a quartet made up of long-time collaborators guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, From This Moment On is a classically swinging big-band effort.  "I knew exactly what I wanted from the get go. I started writing down song titles last summer, but a lot of these tunes I've had in my back pocket for years. I've been working on `How Insensitive' for about 10 years. `Day In, Day Out' I started working on when I was about 24....  "Every tune has to have some sort of personal connection. But I didn't want it all to be too upbeat. Like `Willow Weep For Me,' which for me is more of a social comment, adds a question mark to that positive feeling.

"If you choose to express yourself through other people's words and music, then you have to find different stories in it. I was just watching Frank Sinatra singing something and I said to my husband, `You just know he's thinking about Ava Gardener or something that he's lived.'  "When I listened to these songs when I was 15, I hadn't experienced a lot of the kind of the heartache and things that I hear in them now," she says. "Once you've got that story in your mind, then you can sing it, but it also changes over the years.  "With `How Insensitive' there was a line in there where I couldn't believe the concept that I would be singing how cold I was to leave him — I would never do that. And now I feel like well, you know, I could do that, though I don't mean in my current situation.  "That's the difference between someone who is a great singer and a jazz interpreter like Billie Holiday, who you just know lived it and more. There are certain songs I would never touch, because Billie Holiday owns them, that are so personal to her even if she didn't write them."  Krall says she and Costello, who divide their time between homes in Vancouver and New York, may collaborate on songs again, but for now it's enough just trying to choose names for their offspring.  "We're having a very fun time doing that, because we're very different. It's like some bad sitcom.... The hotel was kind enough to put a baby names book next to the bed, so we've been enjoying that."

Grey Cells Dig Music Lessons, Scans Show

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Mike Oliveira, Canadian Press

(Sept. 20, 2006)
Music lessons can help children as young as 4 show advanced brain development and improve their memory, even when it sounds like a budding musician is banging out little more than noise, a new Canadian study suggests.  Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton used magneto encephalography or MEG brain-scanning technology to compare the developmental changes in 12 children aged 4 to 6 over the course of a year.  The study, to be published in next month's edition of Oxford University's neurology journal Brain, found that those who took music lessons showed more changes in brain responses. Even when parents hear only what sounds like random notes or nonsense, it's likely their children are developing their brains in ways that could enhance their overall thinking, said Professor Laurel Trainor, who led the study with Takako Fujioka, a scientist at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto. Dr. Trainor is director of the auditory lab in the department of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour at McMaster. "There are probably really fundamental things going on in the brain as those kids are learning over that first year, so even though they appear on the surface to maybe only play a few pieces, very simple pieces, it's probably setting up networks in their brain," Dr. Trainor said. Music training could lead to improvements in literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics and IQ, she added.

The study found particular changes in the attentional systems of children who took music lessons, which affected their ability to pay attention to important things around them. "A child with a superior attentional system will be able to apply that in different domains, so they'll be able to focus in on what's important in a verbal learning task, they'll be able to concentrate when figuring out a mathematical problem," Dr. Trainor said. "So you can imagine how a superior attentional system would have wide-ranging consequences across many domains." She said the study represents the first time researchers have identified the benefits of music lessons for preschool children. Previous studies compared the impact of music classes and drama classes in older children and found children who learned an instrument had better improvements in IQ scores. "I think our study and other studies show that music has benefits . . . for cognitive processing and cognitive development," she said.

Ban Brown: Ebs And Flows With The Stylistics

Excerpt from - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(September 20, 2006) With a resume as the lead singer of such groups as Ray, Goodman & Brown, the Delfonics, and the Stylistics, picturing soul singer/musician
Eban Brown would likely be off the mark. The world-class guitarist and composer is only 34 years old; relatively young for the groups he’s fronted.  But Brown, quite often called an “old soul”, has made a career of making old soul new again, without compromising the genre. He launched his professional career with Ray, Goodman & Brown – better known as The Moments, a group that he’d admired as a young child  “This is my fourth group. My career started professionally in 1989. My idol group brought me out – Ray, Goodman & Brown. From there I went to the Manhattans with Gerald [Alston] and ‘Blue’ [Winfred Lovett]. After that, I did the Delfonics until 1997. I stopped until I joined the Stylistics in 2000,” Brown said. Brown’s break from soul mastering was a brief two-year hiatus, while he dabbled into other projects.   “There was a lot of adversity in the business,” he said about his time away. “I just decided to do other things. But I guess I just couldn’t get away. This is what I love to do. How many people get to do what they love to do and make a living out of it?” And then the opportunity to become the lead singer for the Stylistics came along.

“About seven years prior [to 2000], myself and Herb Murrell, one of the original members, had a conversation about me coming in. I didn’t take it serious because I never anticipated being a part of the Stylistics. So Easter Sunday I got a phone call and that’s how it happened.” Brown replaced lead singer Russell Thompkins who’d suffered vocal problems and left the group.  “Russell decided to leave and embark on his own career,” Brown added. “He has his own group out… another Stylistics – Russell Thompson and the New Stylistics. There’s enough room out here to work. It can cause some confusion, but it works.” With two Stylistics groups touring, it’s appropriate that Brown would have two careers in motion, too. The singer works not only as the lead singer in a legendary contemporary soul group, but he’s also an accomplished solo jazz artist.  “I do contemporary jazz on my own. I’m an instrumentalist and vocalist on my own. I do a lot of things. I [did] three solo albums,” he said. “I’m like Gerald Levert – I have my own group, the Stylistics, I have a solo career and work with other people, and for the time being I’m doing both, until one demands all the attention. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Brown likens his style to legendary jazz guitarists George Benson and Wes Montgomery. Being a jazz guitarist himself, that is apropos. Furthermore, he added that he has been noted as “the youngest classic soul artist,” a title that he cherishes, though his years place him in the hip-hop generation.  “To me, I don’t hear a lot of things in [today's] R&B that I feel like [the music I do].” His latest album, “Exit 15,” reflects some of the classic music that he loves. The disc features five original songs, but also five remakes that he has always wanted to do.  “’Exit 15’ has allowed me to express creativity that I am most proud of. I've had the chance to express a part of myself that a majority of people did not know of me musically. This album allowed me to bring out some of my guitar influences ... to express to the jazz world my deepest love,” he said. For MORE on Eban Brown, check out his website:


Three American Music Award Nods For Nickelback

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Sept. 20, 2006) Beverly Hills, Calif. — For more than a dozen artists, nominations for the
American Music Awards came in twos and threes. Mariah Carey, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Eyed Peas and Canada's Nickelback each captured three nominations, while Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kanye West, Jamie Foxx, T.I., Rascal Flatts, Pussycat Dolls, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood earned two nods each. Nominees were announced at a news conference yesterday. Nickelback, originally from Alberta, was nominated in the best alternative artist category, against Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as best pop/rock band, duo or group, along with Pussycat Dolls and the Chili Peppers, plus best pop/album (All the Right Reasons), against the Chili Peppers (Stadium Arcadium) and the album High School Musical (by various artists). Other Canadian nominees included Nelly Furtado, up against Mariah Carey and Kelly Clarkson in the female artist category (the male-artist nominees are Nick Lachey, Sean Paul and Kanye West), and crooner Michael Bublé, in contention against Clarkson and Rob Thomas as best adult-contemporary artist. The awards will be presented on Nov. 21. Nominees were chosen based on record sales. AP

Furtado, Madonna up for MTV Europe Music Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Sept. 20, 2006) Copenhagen — The Red Hot Chili Peppers were nominated in four categories, including best album, for the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards, to be hosted by Justin Timberlake in the Danish capital on Nov. 2. Madonna,
Nelly Furtado, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Kanye West and Muse had three nominations each, the music network said yesterday. Assisting Timberlake with hosting will be Muse and Furtado. Nominations in the best album category included the Red Hot Chili Peppers for Stadium Arcadium, Madonna for Confessions on a Dance Floor and Furtado for Loose. The Red Hot Chili Peppers also were nominated in the best rock and best group categories. Madonna and Shakira were nominated in the best pop category. MTV's Europe Music Awards are held in a different city every year. The winners are selected by fans across Europe. AP

New General Director For Opéra De Montréal

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Robert Everett-Green

(Sept. 16, 2006) Toronto --
Opéra de Montréal on Thursday filled the gaping hole left by the dramatic departure of Bernard Labadie three months ago, naming Pierre Dufour as new general director. Dufour, who is also the company's production director, presides over an organization that has shed almost two-thirds of its administration in an effort to shore up a deteriorating financial outlook. Money woes were the direct cause of Labadie's amicable departure last June, four years before the end of his contract. A statement from the company also said that Alexandre Taillefer, a former Quebecor executive, is the new board chair. The opera company plans to continue with the four operas Labadie had programmed for the coming season.

Latoya Jackson Gets New Gig

Source: Juliette Harris,, Roxanne Romero,, 310.577.1122

(September 15, 2006) (Los Angeles, CA) - It Girl Public Relations and Star Ice President and CEO, Joey Sulfaro are introducing this Australian import to the US.
LaToya Jackson has also become a part of this team as the beverage's official celebrity spokesperson.  "I have always wanted to be involved with a hot, new lifestyle product such as this", said Jackson.  Star Ice, it is a delicious malt beverage imported from Australia and bottled in a slim line bottle with a champagne fizz imported from the mystical land down under- Australia. It is available in today's hottest flavours such as Green Apple, Raspberry, Passion Fruit and Cranberry. It has an everlasting taste full of flavour. The Star Ice team has been very busy working on pre- publicity, photo-shoots, campaign jingles and shooting a commercial. LaToya has already been featured on Access Hollywood and Extra to promote the drink. Commenting on the acquisition, Juliette Harris, CEO of It Girl Public Relations added:  "This is an exciting opportunity for us to integrate this Australian beverage into the Hollywood party and nightclub scene. With the help of our lovely spokesperson, our great tasting beverage and an aggressive strategy we will make Star Ice the must have drink of 2006! Star Ice is now being distributed in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Nevada, Connecticut, Minnesota and Rhode Island."

Monica Courted By Brunei Royalty

Excerpt from

(September 18, 2006) *Singer
Monica has a very rich fan overseas who requested her presence last month at his extravagant 24th birthday bash.  Prince Azim of Brunei, the son of the $40 billion Sultan of Brunei, reportedly flew in the Atlanta artist to attend the party, which also included R&B crooner Omarion among the guests.  "It was one of the most memorable experiences of my entire career," Monica told "As an entertainer we get to see things when we travel but we don’t often get to experience them. You just never know how far our music makes it." The flight to Brunei took 21 hours, but Monica tells Vibe that it was worth every minute.  "I surprised Azim by performing at his party," she said. "For the next three days we just walked through the Empire and took in the experience." Monica’s new album, "The Makings of Me," is scheduled to arrive in stores on Oct. 3.

Governor Lays Down Law With First LP

Excerpt from

(September 18, 2006) *Singer
Governor, the first R&B artist signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle/Atlantic label, is finally due to release his 12-track debut album “Son of Pain” this week.  "Governor is like an R&B version of me when I first came in the game. He doesn't need any alterations or special effects," said executive producer T.I. of the artist, born Governor Washington in Charles City, Virginia.  The Track Masters-produced first single, “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” leads a set that includes the tracks "Destiny," produced by Scott Storch; "Make Love To You," produced by Wyclef Jean; "Never Wanna Leave," produced by Raphael Saadiq and "You Got The Power," produced by Just Blaze and featuring T.I.  Governor will host three album release parties in the weeks to come – Sept. 20th in Los Angeles at Pearl, Sept. 22nd at Compound in Atlanta, and Sept. 27th at Club 1223 in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit or

Monk Jazz Institute Feted By Dubya

Excerpt from

(September 19, 2006)  *Roughly 120 guests filed into the White House Friday night to help President Bush and first lady Laura Bush celebrate the 20th anniversary of the
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. (    Among the dozen or so performers on hand at the black-tie event were singer Anita Baker, who belted "My Funny Valentine," and pianist Herbie Hancock, who played the jazz tune, "Watermelon Man."   Other performers included George Duke, Nnenna Freelon, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Greg Diaz, Alan Hampton, Danilo Perez, Roy Hargrove, Wayne Shorter, Helen Sung, Clark Terry and Bobby Watson.    "President and Mrs. Bush, this is the jazzy-est party you've ever had, isn't it?" asked Barbara Walters, the master of ceremonies.      The party started with dinner in the State Dining Room before, then retired into the East Room, “where a shiny, black baby grand piano graced a stage between life-size portraits of George and Martha Washington,” reports the Associated Press.      “Over the years, visitors to this home have been fortunate to hear some of America's greatest musical performances, from John Philip Sousa to Yo-Yo Ma," Laura Bush said, according to AP. "Jazz is an American cultural treasure and one of our country's richest contributions to the world of music, and for 20 years, the Thelonius Monk Institute has nourished this art form, and carried on Mr. Monk's legacy by cultivating a new generation of performers."      The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is a non-profit organization that helps young musicians receive college level training by America's jazz greats and presents public school-based jazz education programs around the world.

Stephanie McKay To Release Debut EP

Source: KSA Public Relations / Astralwerks Records Carleen Donovan / 212-582-5400 x207 /; Alison Tarnofsky / 212- 886-7500 / alison@astralwerks.comMegan Moffett / 212-582-5400 x214 /

(September 19, 2006) New York, NY - Bronx native
Stephanie McKay is set to release her highly anticipated self-titled EP on September 26, 2006.   The EP marks her U.S. debut and will be released by Astralwerks Records with a full length album titled Tell It Like It Is to be released in early 2007.  Stephanie McKay has grown to be a respected artist amongst fans and critics alike through worldwide touring with the Brooklyn Funk Essentials and has a diverse musical background that includes performing with the likes of Kelis, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Tricky.  In 2003 Stephanie McKay hooked up with producer Geoff Barrow of Portishead for her debut CD, which was released in the UK to international acclaim from music critics.   With a four star honour, The Guardian raved that Stephanie McKay's debut was "resurrecting the passion and pride of politically conscious and eternally lovelorn ladies of late-1960s, early 1970s soul. McKay shines bright," MOJO boasted Stephanie McKay is "extraordinarily eclectic" and her album was "a coherent artistic statement and worth investigating" and British Esquire enthusiastically describes McKay's style as ".gutsy R&B punchy funk and uplifting reggae all woven together by her seductive voice." The EP, which includes 5 songs, is a stunning collection of musical compositions that fuse McKay's powerful urban poetics, which effortlessly combines soul, hip-hop, funk and rock.  The songs 'Rising Tide' and 'Take Me Over' are from McKay's first album. 'Tell It Like It Is' and 'Money' are from her forthcoming 2007 release.  The captivating Stephanie McKay manages to retain her integrity as a singer/songwriter who refuses to be boxed in while still creating music that will sway the masses. McKay explains, "other than just making good songs, I wanted the listener to be able to feel me as much as hear me."



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

September 25, 2006

4 Tre, Southern Kaos, Dollyhood
9th Wonder, Brooklyn in My Mind (Crooklyn Dodgers II), 6 Hole
Acafool, Acafool, First String Entertainment
Akwid, E.S.L., Univision
Aretha Franklin, Collections, Sony / BMG Import
Beyoncé, Ring the Alarm [Single], Sony
Black Eyed Peas, Monkey Business [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Bob Marley, Babylon by Bus, Universal
Bob Marley, Burnin' [Japan Bonus Tracks], Universal
Bob Marley, Catch a Fire [DVD], Eagle Vision USA
Bob Marley, Confrontation [Bonus Track], Universal
Bob Marley, Exodus [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Bob Marley, Kaya [Japan Bonus Track], Universal
Bob Marley, Live [Bonus Track], Universal
Bob Marley, Natty Dread [Japan Bonus Track], Universal
Bob Marley, Rastaman Vibration [Bonus Track], Universal
Bob Marley, Survival [Bonus Track], Universal
Bob Marley, Uprising [Bonus Track], Universal
Brawdcast, The Suburban Spokesman, R.N.L.G. LLC
Brockington, Darien, Somebody to Love, ABB
Cassie, Long Way 2 Go, WEA/Bad Boy
Christina Milian, So Amazin' [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Chuck Black, Life of a Hustler, Warlock
Crunkaholics, Tha Kings of Denco, Mid-South
Dan the Automator, Don't Hate the Player, Decon
Dead Prez, Soldier 2 Soldier, Real Talk Ent
Desmond Dekker, This Is Desmond Dekker, Trojan
Diana Ross, I Love You, EMI
Diddy, Press Play, Bad Boy
Don Carlos, Live in San Francisco [CD/DVD], 2B1
Don Cisko, Still Hustlin', Paid in Full
E-40, U and Dat [Single], WEA/Warner
Eminem, Curtain Call: The Hits [Bonus Track], Universal
Ese Villen/Lysto, Lakeside Stories, Thump
Fatlip, Loneliest Punk [Bonus Track], Toys Factory
Footsoldiers, Footsoldiers, Antagonist
Gary Taylor, Retro Blackness, Morning Crew
Gladys Knight, A Christmas Celebration [Mormon Tabernacle], Mormon Tabernacle
Heavyweights, The Beginning, Activated
Hellsent, Rainwater, Galapagos
Hollow Tip, Ghetto Famous, Real Talk Enter
J. Rawls, Essence of Soul, HBD Label Group
James Brown, And I Do Just What I Want, Universal/Spectrum
James Brown, Fine Old Foxy Self, Universal
Janet Jackson, 20 Y.O. [Bonus Track/DVD], EMI
Jay Dee, The Shining, Bbe
Jay Tee, How the Game Go, R.N.L.G. LLC
Jimmy Castor, Hey Leroy, Universal
Kelis, Blindfold Me [US 12"], La Face
Kool & the Gang, Platinum Collection, Platinum
Layzie Bone, Cleveland,
Lionel Richie, Coming Home [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Loer Velocity, Ready for a Renaissance, Embedded Music
Loon, Wizard of Harlem,
Luni Coleone, Anger Management, Paid in Full
Mariah Carey, Emancipation of Mimi [Japan Bonus Tracks], Universal
Mitchy Slick, Killafornia Handgunner,
Moka Only, Desired Effect, Green Streets Ent
Morgan Heritage, Live in San Francisco, 2B1
Mr. Shadow, Thug Connection, Paid in Full
N. Phect & Dizplay, Beautiful Bytes, Groove Attack
Negativ, Anorectic, JVC Victor
Ne-Yo, In My Own Words [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Oddisee, Foot in the Door, Raptivism
Of Mexican Descent, Exitos y Mas Exitos [Deluxe Edition] [Bonus Tracks], Temporary Whatever
Omarion, 21, Sony
Patti Austin, End of a Rainbow, King
Patti Austin, Havana Candy, King
Percy Sledge, Platinum Collection [Platinum], Platinum
Pitbull, El Mariel, TVT
Poo Poo Man, Snot Logical, Activated
Project Pat, Crook by Da Book: The Fed Story, Sony
Promoe, White Man's Burden, David vs Goliath
Ray Charles, Ray Charles with the Voices of Jubilation, Medialink Enter
Ray Charles, Ray Sings, Basie Swings, Concord
Remo Conscious, Infiltration, Wax Orchard
Rep Yo Set, Rep Yo Set,
Reyes Brothers, Ghetto Therapy, Latin Thug
Rihanna, Girl Like Me [Bonus Tracks #2], Universal
Rihanna, Music of the Sun [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Ruben Studdard, The Return, J
Sadat X, Black October, HBD Label Group
Sleepy Brown, Margarita, Pt. 1, EMI/Virgin
Sleepy Brown, Margarita, Pt. 2, EMI/Virgin
Sleepy Brown, Mr. Brown [Clean], Virgin
Sly & the Family Stone, A Whole New Thing [Bonus Tracks], Sony
Sly & the Family Stone, Dance to the Music [Bonus Tracks], Sony
Sly & the Family Stone, Greatest Hits [Bonus Tracks], Sony
Sly & the Family Stone, Life [Bonus Tracks], Sony
South Park Mexican, When Devils Strike,
South Park Mexican, When Devils Strike [Clean],
Squeak E. Clean, Yeah Right/Hot Chocolate, Toys Factory
Stevie Wonder, Hotter Than July, Universal
Sticman, Soldier to Soldier, Real Talk Enter
Subtle, For Hero for Fool, Astralwerks
Suga Free, Suga Free's Congregation, Paid in Full
Talib Kweli, Listen!!!, WEA
Tego Calderón, Underdog/El Subestimado [Bonus Track], WEA/Atlantic
The New Rotary Connection, Hey Love, Universal
The Real Thing, Platinum Collection, Platinum
The Viceroys, Ghetto Vibes, Kingston Sounds
Thicke, The Evolution of Robin Thicke, Interscope
To Kool Chris, The Absolute Dance, Republic
Tom Burbank, Famous First Words, Planet Mu
Tre-8, Frightnight, Warlock
Unk, Beat'n Down Yo Block, KR Urban
Various Artists, Eat to the Beat: The Dirtiest of the Dirty Blues, Bear Family
Various Artists, Long Beach City Limits, R.N.L.G. LLC
Various Artists, MTV My Block: Chicago, Asylum
Various Artists, Music 2 Kill by, Vol. 2, F.U.P.
Various Artists, Napoleon Presents Loyalty Over Money, Paid in Full
Various Artists, Power Structure, PR
Various Artists, Sickmix DVD Magazine,
Various Artists, Smack: The Album, Vol. 1, Koch
Various Artists, The Hyphy Movement, R.N.L.G. LLC
Various Artists, Tres Presents Shipping and Handling, Wax Orchard
Various Artists, Reggae for Romance Vol. 3, Rhythm Club
Visionaries, We Are the Ones (We've Been Waiting For), Up Above
Wade Waters, Darkwater, Raptivism
Willie Clayton, Gifted, Malaco
Willie Headen, Blame It on the Blues, Ace
Z-Ro, 1 Deep, Presidential


7 Questions With Mia Kirshner

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Bob Strauss, Special to The Globe and Mail

(Sept. 15, 2006) LOS ANGELES -- Since her earliest appearances for some of Canada's best filmmakers,
Mia Kirshner has brought heart and sensitivity to roles that, let's face it, could be mighty disturbing. Now the humanizing factor in Arcand's teenage dominatrix and Egoyan's schoolgirl stripper has reached a heartbreaking maturity in The Black Dahlia. In a series of soul-crushing screen tests, Kirshner reveals the desperation, but also the dignity, of Elizabeth Short, the would-be actress dubbed the Dahlia when her mutilated corpse was discovered in 1947. Director Brian De Palma provides the film's mocking, off-screen male voice. Though bigger stars such as Hilary Swank and Scarlett Johansson have larger parts in the movie, Kirshner's thoughtfulness and compassion -- which quickly became evident during a telephone conversation with the actress while she was filming in Vancouver -- leave the most memorable impressions.

You paint a really poignant picture of Elizabeth Short in those "audition" clips. Can you describe your take on this famous yet mysterious figure?

How do I say this without sounding like a Pollyanna or corny. . . . But I think that when you're playing somebody that existed, and beyond that someone whose life ended in such a brutal fashion, I feel a tremendous responsibility to honour her humanity. That was my primary goal. In terms of research, I strove to ignore everything malicious that has been written about her -- which is most of it -- and tried to draw on the specific details that seem to be true, because they've been repeated over and over again. I think she's a tragic figure who came from this small town and wanted to be an actress and a lady. It was pretty simple for me. There was nothing malevolent or femme fatale-ish about her.

Dahlia was filmed in Bulgaria, where your mother is from. Had you ever been there before?

No. That was really unique, to go make a project like The Black Dahlia in a place where people spoke the language that surrounded me as a child. It was pretty surreal. I did a lot of things in Bulgaria. There was a market near where I was staying; I met these women who were embroidering and they taught me their technique. And I'd go to the Black Sea, which is beautiful.

You seem to have been drawn to sexually provocative material since you were a teenager, and of course there are all kinds of erotic implications associated with the Dahlia. Was that intriguing to you?

I think that actors often exercise their own curiosities and thought processes when they take on a role. I've definitely done a number of roles that were sexual in nature. I think it might have reflected a period in my life. But my interests have changed. Elizabeth, aside from one scene, I wouldn't describe her as that kind of character. I wouldn't ever want to be part of anything that was exploitative, unless it was to illustrate an element of truth in the movie.

How would you describe Jenny Schecter, your character on the TV show The L Word, and what can we expect from her next?

She's very mischievous and tricky. And this season she becomes extremely successful, gets a novel published in New York.

Has your career turned out the way you expected it to?

I'm happy where I'm at now. When I was 18, I realized that to just act was not something that I particularly wanted to do. I went to McGill, and as you can see from my résumé, I was in a lot of not-so-great films, because I made a very conscious decision to be less ambitious and put much more of a focus on my own life. That meant more travel, more time off. I think that actually brought much more meaning to the work. I very quickly realized that, if I'm always working, I don't have a lot to draw on. I can say this: I'm stronger as an actress, more confident as an actress and I love my job more than I've ever loved my job, probably, because I've bought an apartment in Paris and I'm writing a book for Pantheon.

That book is about refugees. Was it inspired by family members who were displaced during the Second World War and the Holocaust?

I just really wanted to address what a home is. It was also inspired by growing up in Toronto, which I'm very grateful for. It's such a multicultural, beautiful city, incomparable to any other city in that sense. I love living in Paris now, but I am very, very, very proud of my Canadian identity, and it was very important to me that the book reflect that.

What other interests do you have?

French fashion. Clothes are frivolous, but it's sometimes a way of expressing yourself, and essential to a character. It sounds funny to talk about a book and then switch over to talking about clothes. But I'm a lucky woman to get to wear things like Lanvin, Balenciaga. It's a treat. And it's a thing that little girls probably dream about when they decide they want to be actors.

I competed in a triathlon a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty amazing. That's one of the amazing things about Vancouver, it's such a wonderful outdoor city that you just want to spend time outside. That's something that I've been trying to do all summer.

Polley's Directing Debut To Get Academy Award Push

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Leah McLaren

(Sept. 16, 2006) 'I'm devastated," said Daniel Iron. "We were hoping for so much more." The veteran Canadian producer is obviously joking. In fact, there's been little to lament about critical response to his latest project,
Sarah Polley's movie Away From Her, which (in case you've been living under a rock) recently had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). In addition to a distribution bidding war, lengthy list of foreign sales and near-unanimous critical acclaim, the film is now garnering advance Oscar buzz for Julie Christie's star turn as a woman coping with Alzheimer's disease. "Lions Gate is going to do [an Oscar-nomination] campaign for 2007," Iron confirmed. Not since Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter (in which Polley, fittingly, starred) has there been such immediate domestic and international buzz about a homegrown title.  And like Egoyan's grim, wintry masterpiece, Polley's film is a hard sell at first glance. The story of an elderly married couple (Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie) coping with the pain of memory loss does not, on the face of it, seem an easy sell to international distributors. But the film's positive critical response bore out in business terms.

The $4.5-million movie created a bidding war that lasted into the wee hours Tuesday.  Around 3:30 a.m., Iron, with the help of the William Morris Agency, finally inked a deal with Lions Gate to distribute the film in the United States. Away From Her has also sold in 26 other territories during TIFF and garnered critical praise domestically and elsewhere. Variety called it "a gracefully wrought study of a long-term marriage." "I always thought the film was great, but the overwhelming international response was a pleasant surprise," Iron said. "On the face of it, it's not the easiest sell." Simone Urdl, another producer on the film, agreed. "Obviously we were proud of it, but when you get the reaction you think a film deserves, it's just fantastic." Polley, who declined a phone interview with The Globe and Mail, is said to be taking some well-needed R&R before rushing off to festivals in Halifax, Sudbury, Montreal and Vancouver. Robin Smith, head of distributor Capri Releasing in Toronto, was feeling understandably smug (and exhausted after a night of celebrating the Lions Gate deal). His company had the good sense to take on the project as early as the script stage.

"It was Sarah's amazing script," he said. "It just wowed me." He went on to say that when it got down into international negotiations, "Sarah was very much a part of the process. It was important she be happy with the result." The film's positive reception has been a boon to a beleaguered Canadian film industry, desperately in need of an international success story. Even better, said Smith, it has allowed the team that worked on the film to breath a collective sigh of relief. "We're Canadians through and through," he said, "so we're always questioning, 'Is the bubble about to burst?' And, after all, there haven't been many pretty pictures in the [recent] past. Better to be cautious than over-confident."

RFK Movie Reignites Hope, Says Demi Moore

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Sep. 15, 2006) Actor-director
Emilio Estevez never intended his film, Bobby — which chronicles the last day in the life of Robert F. Kennedy — to become a hot political property.  But political events since his June 1968 assassination have changed that.  "Sadly, the film has become more relevant now and it was not by design — by my design," Estevez told a press conference yesterday.  "Unfortunately, it's by the design of the current (Bush) administration where we find ourselves now is at a very, very critical point in the civilization of the entire planet," said Estevez. "I think we need Bobby Kennedy's voice probably now more than ever," he added.  The film, set in the Ambassador Hotel where Kennedy was slain, follows 22 characters through an otherwise ordinary day, some involved in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, others members of the hotel staff, some not connected at all.  The movie boasts an impressive cast — many with activist credentials — including Sharon Stone, William H. Macy, Demi Moore, Harry Belafonte, Anthony Hopkins, Joshua Jackson and Lindsay Lohan.  Stone, one of the first to sign on for the film, was astonished at the depth of talent.

"I said, `we better get a better caterer,'" Stone said with a laugh.  Moore said she has long admired Kennedy's "incredible ability to instil a sense of hope.  "What's amazing is — and the reason I wanted to be part of the film — it's reigniting a sense of hope at a time that can feel hopeless," Moore said.  At age 27, Jackson, who wasn't born when the assassination happened, said young people today are looking for a political figure like Kennedy to rally behind.  "(His message) speaks to my generation now ... his story is truly inspirational."  Estevez said he was having his own crisis back in 2000 when he started work on a 30-page script and a "paralyzing" case of writer's block.  His creative logjam ended when he met a woman who was there the night Kennedy was shot, and who had married two soldiers during the Vietnam war to prevent them from being sent to the front lines of battle. She morphed into a critical character in the film, played by Lohan.  "It (the experience) gave the piece a beating heart and the writer's block was gone," Estevez said.  The film was the last one ever shot at the Ambassador, a popular movie location, which was in the process of being demolished during the filming of Bobby.  Estevez called the shoot "guerrilla filmmaking," noting bulldozers were often just out of camera range.  But for him, the film was one he had to make.  "I had been preparing to do this movie my entire life without knowing it," he said.

Our Filmmakers Hit Their Stride

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Liam Lacey

(Sept. 16, 2006) Are we commercially there yet? With another Toronto International Film Festival drawing to a close, and another batch of new
Canadian films brought out for inspection, the question arises again. Five years ago, Heritage Canada doubled the fund for Canadian feature films to $200-million per annum and gave Telefilm Canada orders to build audiences, with bigger budgets, more marketing money and strategies to push popular movies. The initial results were disappointing: Insecure, derivative movies such as Men With Brooms, Mambo Italiano and Foolproof alienated critics, failed to earn back their production costs and left some serious Canadian filmmakers wondering whether they should still be working here. Since then, there's been a change of government and directors at Telefilm, from Richard Stursburg (gone to make CBC more commercial) to Wayne Clarkson. The "five-year plan" to inflate attendance at Canadian films has been postponed and some of the fuss seems to have settled down. Judging by many of the films at this year's festival, the major showcase for Canadian cinema each year, rampant commercialism is not an imminent threat to Canadian cinema. When programmer Steve Gravestock talks about this year's Canadian films, the themes that emerge -- a disappearing environment, displacement and confusion -- are not words to brighten a marquee. Yet a subtle shift may have taken place. Though Gravestock says that "filmmakers will keep on doing what filmmakers do" irrespective of film policy, he believes there is a change in attitude toward genre films: "There's more encouragement, and the result is that genre films are done better than they might have been a few years ago."

The argument can certainly be made for this year's biggest-budgeted Canadian film, Fido (around $11-million), director Andrew Currie's comic-horror movie about a boy and his pet zombie. It took 13 years to go from concept to screen, and Fido, the story of a boy and his zombie, is as much genre parody as genre film. ("I wanted to explore melodrama, social satire, comedy, boy-and-his-dog films, and the zombie film, all within a fifties-style Technicolor world," Currie said.) With a U.S. deal through Lions Gate Films (and sales to more than 20 countries), Fido is aimed at a specialized, but still sizeable, niche. The trade publication Variety predicts Fido "will probably post modest returns as a would-be cult pic." An even more obvious genre film is End of the Line, Maurice Dereaux's quickie horror film about a psychiatric nurse who discovers on her subway ride home that the world is overrun with homicidal, hypnotized religious zealots who want to stab unbelievers to death. A few years ago, a straight-out horror film would be an unlikely inclusion in the festival, but tastes, as well as policy, have changed. As fellow Canadian film programmer Jesse Wente points out, genre films are enjoying a world-wide resurgence, irrespective of government policy. Horror and teen comedies also have their own Canadian history. Now, with Telefilm leaning toward films that can perform in the marketplace, the low-budget, potentially high-yield horror genre is a natural choice. But that doesn't mean these films "can't express something beyond being scary or thrilling or cool," Wente says. Another generic film with commercial potential is Citizen Duane (with distribution through ThinkFilm), a teen comedy from Michael Mabbott (The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico) with obvious parallels to the American indie hit Napoleon Dynamite. The presence of American stars Donal Logue and Vivica A. Fox and the deliberate avoidance of any specific Canadian references make it clear that Citizen Duane will be happy to pass as Anywhere, U.S.A.

In a peculiar turn of events, such intentional anonymity has almost become a peculiar Canadian identifying trademark: If you don't know where it's from, it must be Canada. Imagine John Carpenter having a hit with a horror film called Escape From Some Big City. The encouraging news is that there are more Canadian films this year with commercial potential and that don't hide their origins. Sarah Polley's directorial debut, Away from Her, starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent, is based on an Alice Munro short story about the impact of Alzheimer's on a long marriage. The movie features references to the Toronto Maple Leafs and shopping at Canadian Tire, without compromising its ability to travel outside our borders as well as Munro's fiction has. Away from Her has been picked up by Lions Gate for U.S. distribution, and Variety predicts a "modest theatrical impression" with the expectation that strong reviews will result in "decent returns and possible award noms." Two other Canadian films, Paul Fox's Everything's Gone Green and Reg Harkema's Monkey Warfare, manage to combine commercial buzz and unmistakably Canadian locales. Everything's Gone Green (distributed in Canada by ThinkFilm) is based on a screenplay by novelist Douglas Coupland, which is one of its selling points. The story of a slacker struggling to find an identity in a world of fraud has been compared to the American indie hit Garden State, but the movie is assertively Vancouver-based. As Coupland has said, the screenplay "took a lot of the city's idiosyncrasies and sort of wove them into the plot." These include pot culture, Asian influences, real estate, and the inundation of foreign film crews. One character is a set designer whose job is to make Vancouver look like other places. Similarly, one of the buzz films of the festival, Monkey Warfare (distributed in Canada by ThinkFilm), starring Don McKellar and Tracy Wright as middle-aging former revolutionaries who are resigned to a life of scavenging for pot money, is rooted in the transitional Toronto community of Parkdale. Harkema, a fan of the French New Wave, consciously made a film about Parkdale, showing off his Toronto neighbourhood the way French directors of 45 years ago celebrated Paris. For years, we've had the disorienting experience of watching American and Canadian films that camouflaged their Canadian locations. It's a hopeful sign when a film can use its Canadian background as part of its cachet.

Haggis Sticks With Clint

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman, Entertainment Columnist

(Sep. 15, 2006) Festival chaos has erupted in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel, besieged by gawking fans hoping for a glimpse of Russell Crowe. Up on the 27th floor,
Paul Haggis looks relaxed but has the jitters.  It's not because The Last Kiss is having its premiere at the festival. Nor is it because Paramount Pictures has booked wall-to-wall media interviews for him.  No, it's because the next day Haggis is going back to his hometown, London, Ont., for an all-day love-in. Since he's a humble, self-effacing guy, this fills him with more terror than putting on a tux to attend the Academy Awards as nominee and, in the case of Crash, a double winner.  "They're going to be honouring me and trotting me around to every school I was ever kicked out of," he chuckles.  At first he thought the whole thing was a bit silly. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized this occasion would be hugely gratifying.  In fact, the day included visits to London City Hall as well as two Catholic schools he attended in the 1960s, and Fanshawe College. He studied film there shortly before leaving town to try his luck as a TV screenwriter in Los Angeles with the help of his father, who sent him $100 every week for three years until Paul sold a script to The Love Boat.  "I was such a terrible student that my parents celebrated every time I got a mark as high as C."  At Fanshawe, Haggis learned about film editing — usually messing it up, he explains — but also discovering his passion for film. Now the college is giving its most famous dropout an honorary diploma at age 53.

Haggis wrote his script for The Last Kiss four years ago. He had already decided to make the transition from TV. And he had written two movies — Million Dollar Baby and Crash. Both were projects he initiated and planned to direct, but neither had yet been shot.  Clint Eastwood asked to direct Baby, and Haggis said yes, partly because by then he was set to direct Crash himself.  Almost unbelievably, both movies went on to win Best Picture Oscar, making Haggis the only writer in history to have written back-to-back best picture winners.  Haggis was nominated for both scripts, and won for Crash. (Indeed, he picked up his second Oscar of the night as one of the producers.)  In the case of The Last Kiss, Haggis was a hired hand, working for producers who had acquired rights to the marvellous 2001 Italian movie (L'ultimo bacio — shown at that year's Toronto festival) and wanted him to write an Americanized adaptation. He set it in Wisconsin.  As things turned out, it is just one of three movies written by Haggis that are set to open this fall. He did the final rewrites on the James Bond remake, Casino Royale. And his new best friend Clint hired him to write the script for his Japanese war epic Flags of Our Fathers, due to be released in late October.  Why is Flags not at the festival? Two reasons: It is still being fine-tuned and it is opening the Tokyo International Film Festival next month.  It's a bit early to predict Flags could win the Oscar for best film of 2006, but if it does, that will give Haggis an unprecedented triple crown.  "I'm counting on Clint," Haggis jokes. "He's my guy."

Is It Curtains For Good At The Roxy Theatre?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Bert Archer

(Sept. 16, 2006) The Revue Cinema
has been sold to a group that hasn't expressed any intention of keeping the old movie palace alive. The rest of the former Festival repertory cinemas are either dead or in flux. And now, like a gratuitous kick when the Toronto cinephile community's down, comes news that the old Roxy at Danforth and Greenwood -- a former member of the Festival group that has been closed and vacant for more than a decade -- has been sold as well. And it could soon be a gas station. "We are evaluating what we can do and what we can't," says Robert Taberge, Toronto spokesman for the Roxy's new owner, Imperial Oil. The company also owns the lot next door, formerly an Esso station. "We haven't figured out what we're going to do. . . . The two sites open up a list of opportunities." The company's hesitation is due to the fact that the late-1930s deco building -- originally called the Allenby and designed by Kaplan and Sprachman Architects, the firm behind the Revue and the Eglinton -- is listed by city council as a building of heritage interest. This listing, the first stage to becoming a heritage property outright, with all the regulations and protections that come with that status, was passed by council in 1986. The next step, referred to as designation, was never taken.

"It becomes a different kind of burden to the city when you designate something," says Councillor Shelley Carroll, chair of the city works committee. "So we don't do that until there's a threat." This may qualify: When pressed about Imperial Oil's specific plans, Mr. Taberge says: "If or when we build, it will be one of those 'On the Go' sites." Brain Gallagher, head of the city's Preservation Services, who remembers the Roxy's infamous midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the 1980s, says there are ways to deal with this. "The standard policy with listed buildings is that if an owner applies to demolish, there is a 60-day delay," he says, during which his people bring the building's case before council, asking for specific protection. "Our success rate is almost 100 per cent." Though not every site listed as a building of heritage interest is defended by Preservation Services, the Roxy, Mr. Gallagher says, definitely would be. But Imperial Oil is no slouch either, especially when it comes to their 'On the Run' chain, which marries gas stations with convenience stores. There are now 110 locations in the Greater Toronto Area. Timing may be on the oil giant's side: Council is about to recess until after the municipal elections and won't be back until January. If the company submits its application now, the clock will tick out before council reconvenes.

Film Fest Ends With No Clear Oscar Shoo-Ins

Source: Canadian Press

(Sept. 16, 2006) Toronto — The founder of the
Toronto International Film Festival is tired of the griping growing louder every year that the star-studded event has become too big, too Hollywood, too glitzy. And William Marshall points to the winner of this year's People's Choice Award at the festival, the relatively unheard-of Bella by first-time director Alejandro Monteverde, as proof its focus is first and foremost on quality movies regardless of their Hollywood pedigree. "There are a lot of snotty people who have nothing better to do who say 'Oh, you've sold out to Hollywood,"' Marshall, an Order of Canada winner, said at Saturday's awards luncheon. "Well, of 352 films at this year's festival, seven of them were Hollywood films." It's not that the festival has changed significantly since he founded it in 1976, Marshall says. The difference is the entertainment media's coverage of it, with the red carpet and many of Toronto's hotspots being staked out by paparazzi and info-tainment TV shows throughout the festival in the hopes of nabbing the major movie stars who descend upon the city. "Now there's a whole new industry built in the last five years which is celebrity journalism; the ET Canada and Hello and those types of outlets," he said. "And I don't mind them being around, but don't tell me this is world-shaking journalism. This is just who smoked at a press conference or who wore a funny dress. It's not very important." Marshall was joined in his defence of the festival by Monteverde, whose first film, Bella, tells the story of a friendship that develops one afternoon in New York City between a Mexican-American chef, played by Mexican actor Eduardo Verastegui, and a troubled waitress played by American stage actress Tammy Blanchard.

"This festival has been so, so amazing," Monteverde said as he accepted the People's Choice award. "They treat the little ones and the big ones the same. It's great to feel special from Day One until today ... thank you, Toronto film festival, for allowing film-makers like myself who come from nothing to come here." But that hasn't stopped the nitpicking again this year, with everyone from film critics to industry insiders complaining not only about the size of the festival, but that there were no clear Oscar-worthy films to emerge, the way Brokeback Mountain, Capote and Walk The Line did last year. "Toronto Film Fest Has Its Share of Hits, But Little Oscar Buzz," read one Boston Globe headline, typical of many as the festival wrapped up. The whinging even extended this year to the city itself, with Roger Friedman complaining on his blog, Fox 411, about Toronto's "oddly laid-out streets" — a puzzling diss given the city's downtown core, where all the festival events take place, is almost a perfect grid. Marshall rolls his eyes at such complaints. "What is important is that the city of Toronto gets enormous world-wide attention because of the festival, and people get to go to the most civilized and the most enjoyable festival in the world," he says.

"People say 'Oh, is it as important as Cannes?' It's a hell of a lot more important than Cannes. Cannes is a trade show. You can't go to a movie in Cannes. The only reason you can't go to a movie here is if you didn't order your tickets fast enough. Our audience is three times the Super Bowl." The festival is also a magnet for film distribution companies, with more than 3,000 sales delegates representing more than 500 companies from 67 countries showing up at the event this year to shop for movies. Among those that got snapped up? Away from Her, the directorial debut from Canadian Sarah Polley that's generating Oscar buzz because of Julie Christie's performance, the controversial drama Death of a President, which won the international critics' prize at the festival, Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show and teen horror flick All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. The biggest seller, at just under U.S. $6 million, was El Cantante, a film about late salsa superstar Hector Lavoe starring Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Marc Anthony. Gabriel Range, director of Death of a President, also known as D.O.A.P., said the festival has been huge for his film given the scandal that's ensued because of its simulated assassination of George W. Bush. The movie, bought by Newmarket Films, was one of many in the line-up this year with a decidedly anti-Bush bent, although the left is rarely under-represented at any film festival. "I'm thrilled that the film is going to be shown in theatres both here and in the U.S. in the near future," Range said Saturday. "That's proof that people can see beyond the premise and see that it's a film about this post-9-11 world that we live in." Marshall points out that no film festival desperate for Hollywood glory and glitz would choose the Inuit film The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, as its opening night gala premiere and Amazing Grace, Michael Apted's film about abolishing slavery in Britain the 1800s, as the closer. "Are those two films going to beat out Brad Pitt at the box office? I don't think so. But should we have screened them here? Absolutely, and that's what this festival is all about."


The Rock Has Solid Score At Box Office

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Sep. 18, 2006) LOS ANGELES—It was another down weekend at the box office, although moviegoers helped
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson score with the football flick Gridiron Gang.  The drama about a football team at a Los Angeles juvenile detention centre took in an estimated $15 million (U.S.) in ticket sales to claim the top spot for the weekend.  Overall, box office revenues for the top 12 films dipped 12 per cent from the same weekend last year. That makes for two down weekends in a row, cutting into the single-digit revenue gains the studios have enjoyed so far this year.  Despite high expectations from director Brian De Palma and a cast including Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson, the gruesome murder mystery The Black Dahlia opened in the second spot with $10.4 million.  The film fared better than last week's debut of Hollywoodland, which sank from the No. 2 spot to ninth place this week. Both films deal with real-life Los Angeles mysteries.  Similarly, there are two football-themed films in theatres, including Invincible, which brought in $3.9 million over the weekend.  The animated film Everyone's Hero took in $6.2 million. The 20th Century Fox movie was originally directed by the late Christopher Reeve, and his wife Dana served as producer of the film until her death in March.  The other major film opening was The Last Kiss, which took in $4.7 million for fourth place, fresh from its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The movie stars Zach Braff of Scrubs and was written by Canadian Oscar winner Paul Haggis.  But the weekend belonged to The Rock, who scored his fifth No. 1 opening in his career, helping to further his reputation as an action movie star.

‘Death’ Becomes Aisha Tyler

Excerpt from

(September 19, 2006) *Fresh from replacing ailing film critic Roger Ebert in TV’s “Ebert and Roeper,” actress
Aisha Tyler has landed a plum role in “Death Sentence,” a new vigilante film drama from Fox. Kevin Bacon co-stars as a father out for blood after his family is attacked in a vicious gang-initiation crime. The father takes it upon himself to seek revenge on each person involved in the crime.  Tyler, whose credits include CBS’ “The Ghost Whisperer” and “CSI,” plays a homicide detective who aids Bacon's character despite her growing suspicions that he might have committed murder. Her role was originally written as a 50-year-old man in the Brian Garfield novel upon which the movie is based, but director James Wan decided during casting to make the character younger.   The actress will next appear on the big screen in Rogue Pictures' upcoming ping pong comedy "Balls of Fury."

Samuel L. Inks Deal With New Line

Excerpt from

(September 20, 2006) *
Samuel L. Jackson, who has made several successful films for New Line Cinema, will now create projects for the studio under a new production deal through 2008. "I have made four movies with New Line so far, and they have all been immensely positive experiences for me," Jackson said. His New Line films include the 2005 dud “The Man,” and this year’s marketing machine “Snakes on a Plane,” which grossed $33.5 million to date.  Jackson will set up shop in Los Angeles and is currently searching for an executive to run the still-untitled company, according to the Hollywood Reporter.   The Kangol-wearing star has served as producer on such films as "Eve's Bayou" and as an executive producer on "The Caveman's Valentine" and "Formula 51." He also is producing and voicing the title character in the upcoming Spike TV animated series "Afro Samurai."  New Line says it wanted to do business with the Washington D.C. native because of his knack for choosing commercial material, as well as his varied resume, ranging from big-budget action flicks to more serious subjects.   The movies Jackson produces will be a mix of starring vehicles and fare developed by his company.

We Remember Robert Earl Jones

Excerpt from

(September 20, 2006) *Actor
Robert Earl Jones, a veteran Broadway and film star and the father of actor James Earl Jones, has died at the age of 96.The Senotobia, Miss. native, who worked as a sharecropper, then became a boxer before taking up acting in New York City, died Sept. 7 at the Lillian Booth Actors' Home in Englewood, NJ, according to the home and Dale Olson, his son's agent. After arriving in New York to seek acting jobs, poet Langston Hughes cast Jones in an early role in the Harlem Suitcase Theatre. The actor went on to star as boxer Joe Louis in “Spirit of Youth” and other films and Broadway productions before his career took a hit in the 1950s, when he was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House un-American Activities Committee. In the late 50s, Jones’ film career picked up again and he starred in more than 20 films during a career that extended into the 1990s. His credits include "Odds Against Tomorrow," "Wild River," "The Sting" and "Witness." His stage work included several productions with his son, James Earl Jones. Robert Earl Jones, who was also an avid runner and participated in the New York City marathon in 1996, is survived by James Earl Jones, another son Matthew Earl Jones and a grandson. Funeral services were private.



Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip

Excerpt from

(September 18, 2006) *Television’s fall line-up is on the verge this week. Some of TV’s favourites have returned, some have not, but fortunately there are quite a few new shows in the competition that may just fill those voids. One early contender for an audience favourite is NBC’s, “
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”  The show, created by “The West Wing” whiz Aaron Sorkin, stars Matthew Perry (who also helped co-write the series), Bradley Whitford, D.L. Hughley, and Amanda Peete. “Studio 60” is a behind-the-scenes look at a fictional sketch-comedy TV show, quite like “Saturday Night Live.”   The cast covers the range of studio execs including a director with a history of drug problems, a previously fired writer, and a myriad of other TV people archetypes.   The show within a show concept is something that audiences are looking forward to and perhaps studio people are afraid of. Still Sorkin told reporters that he’s not worried about the little television secrets that “Studio 60” may or may not reveal. “I'm looking forward to it,” Sorkin said of the new show. “At its heart, ‘Studio 60’ is the same thing that ‘The West Wing’ was at its heart. It's about a group of people committed to professionalism, committed to each other, committed to what they're doing, and hopefully, you know, we enjoy watching them every week. But as political issues came up on ‘The West Wing,’ I think that ‘Studio 60’ is tooled up to deal with issues of the culture wars in an interesting way, because certainly television, in general, and a sketch comedy show like this in particular, would have a front-row seat for that kind of thing.”

Sorkin and his cast have the early word that this show will save the NBC network. Sorkin takes that pressure in stride, and said that the pressure he puts on himself and the show can be a little much, too. “We kind of get maxed out on the pressure we put on ourselves, too because we want it to be good and we want to be able to do the best that we can. We understand that NBC has high hopes for the show, and that's something to be proud of. But honest to God, we max out on the pressure we put on ourselves.” Because the show is about a show, it carries with it the potential to mirror itself and actual people involved in television. And while some of the characters have names that may seem familiar to insiders, Sorkin and the cast believe that story writing in general must always be based, on some degree, to real experience and any number of influential Hollywood players. “You start out there,” Sorkin explained of basing characters on true Hollywood execs, “and by page four it becomes fiction.” And as far as real life stories making their way into the script, Sorkin said: “It's possible ... If there's a story out there that's the beginning of a good story idea, you know, this once happened when I was there, well, gee, if you change this and this and this, then it's a really good story. Anything that gets me started writing a story is good, but I doubt you'll see anything that’s been, you know, ripped from today's headlines on the show.” Overall, Sorkin is not concerned that the show will be too “inside” since the average viewer, i.e. those outside of the entertainment capitals, will not know the people these characters are based on. But he contends, at the same time, that anything that the audience needs to understand about the characters, he will ensure they do.

Pulling from real life characters, Sorkin said that he appreciates actors like D.L. Hughley came on board for the show. Hughley agreed that his character, Simon Stiles, though not necessarily based on a particular person, will pull together some of the television experiences that he has witnessed from his sitcom and talk show. “I think is that this show, to me, or those experiences all culminate to give me an overview of comedy. I mean, I don't worry about the show being too inside or its anticipation, because it's human. So, for me, I think if you are human and you speak from your own experiences, people get it. And I hope that I've had enough experiences that I can be an asset to the show,” he said. “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” premieres tonight on NBC at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The Monday night show will re-air every Wednesday night on Bravo.

Everything Newhart Is New Again

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Warren Clements

(Sept. 15, 2006)
Bob Newhart has been a fixture in comedy for 4½ decades, and if you think that's easy, try it. He began in the 1960s with stand-up routines in which, phone in one hand and imaginary interlocutor on the line, he would play an Empire State Building security guard on his first day at work, wondering what to do about the giant ape climbing past his floor. He starred in The Bob Newhart Show from 1972 to 1978, playing a psychologist who was married to Emily (Suzanne Pleshette) and had airline pilot Howard Borden (Bill Daily) living on what seemed to be the other side of his door. He starred in Newhart from 1982 to 1990, playing the owner of a New England inn who was married to Joanna (Mary Frann) and dealt with handyman George Utley (Tom Poston) and Larry, his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl. The 1990s were a dry patch, but he has since popped up in Elf and Legally Blonde 2, on Desperate Housewives and at the Emmys with Conan O'Brien.

And now he's entitled to relax, so he sits in a comfortable chair and talks about comedy and his work. The Bob Newhart Show -- The Complete Fourth Season includes a 12-minute session in which he reviews his favourite clips and shares the secret of playing drunk: "Somebody who's drunk thinks he's the only one who knows he's drunk." And next Tuesday (Sept. 19) sees the release of Bob Newhart Button-Down Concert, the record of a 1995 show in which he revived all those early telephone routines, including the one where the agent can't believe Walter Raleigh is shipping over a leaf he's supposed to stick in his mouth and set fire to. Newhart is in top form, but again, half the fun is in the talk -- same comfortable chair as before -- he delivers in the extras. "The interesting thing about the phone conversations is the audience reactions to them, because they are supplying the unheard part of it. So at the end they're kind of congratulating themselves on how smart they've been to figure out what was going on at the other [end]. McLuhan-wise, it's a hot medium."

Sci-Fi Fans Are Clicking Up A Storm

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Ivor Tossell

(Sept. 16, 2006) Once every decade or so,
science fiction becomes respectable. The last time it happened was around 1994, when, in the heyday of the massively popular Star Trek: The Next Generation, one could say the words "Jean-Luc Picard" without having someone jump out from behind a corner to deliver a gigantic wedgie. The show got nominated for the best-drama Emmy; the chattering classes started paying attention. Liberation bells peeled through the halls of the world's high schools. Suddenly, the cool kids were into it. And then, somewhere in the bowels of Hollywood, a gong sounded, and it was over. The fans all piled back into the closet, which at least turned out to have a good Internet connection. Well, the glory days are here again. Battlestar Galactica, a first-run series from the NBC-owned Sci Fi Channel, has critics tripping over themselves to proclaim that the cool kids like this one too. The show returns to Canadian airwaves for its third season on Oct. 7, (9 p.m., on the Space Channel), and an innovative series of Web-only episodes have already begun -- but more on that presently.

For those who have been too busy watching Lost, Galactica tells the story of an advanced society, not unlike our own, whose robotic servants turn hostile, ultimately annihilating their masters in a nuclear holocaust. The remnants of humanity flee in a ragtag fleet under the protection of their last warship, the Battlestar Galactica. Desperate and hotly pursued, they set out to find the lost colony of man, Earth. A television series could take this premise in a couple of directions. One was the space-opera attempted by the original Battlestar Galactica series; the semi-watchable 1978 campfest was cancelled after one season of goofy space battles. Today's remake, on the other hand, has turned the concept into a post-apocalyptic political drama, with tight scripting and tough questions. Add a cast of suitably beautiful people and a quota of exploding robots, and a critical success is born. Now, with the show about to return from a six-month hiatus, its producers have decided to generate buzz in advance by prelaunching the new season on-line. A series of 10 miniature episodes -- webisodes, if you will -- is airing on the Sci Fi Network's website, at Each webisode is just 2½ minutes long, eventually adding up to a half-hour mini-episode between them. Collectively called Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance, they tell the story of a resistance movement among humans, marooned on a planet under robotic occupation. Watching our heroes adopt some uncomfortably familiar terrorist tactics embodies the kind of relevance that won Galactica a Peabody award.

Notwithstanding, the move to such a tiny format is awkward at best. It's hard to fit more than two scenes into 2½ minutes, and yet each instalment needs a setup, a story and a miniature cliffhanger; each webisode gets in gear, then lurches to a stop. And the small box that frames on-line videos forces the director to rely on close-ups and medium shots to keep details from getting lost, which limits the visual palette. And there's another catch: They're not available in Canada. The same network tricks that let Google display ads that seem to know where you live have allowed the people at to lock off access to people who aren't surfing from within the United States. Nor was the Space Channel, which broadcasts the show in Canada, offered the rights to show the webisodes on its own website. (This is especially irksome since the show is produced in Vancouver and features a contingent of Canadian actors, starting with Tricia Helfer of Canada's Next Top Model fame.) Of course, where there's a will, there's a way. About a day after each webisode goes live on the website, it has popped up on, the video-sharing site that's heavily populated by clips illicitly taken from commercial shows. (Try searching for "Galactica Resistance.") NBC has been playing whack-a-mole to have the clips removed, but since YouTube removes material only after copyright holders file a complaint, the webisodes have remained on-line long enough to be watched by thousands of foreigners. One suspects that it suits NBC's interests just fine to have an unofficial back door promoting its show in markets where it can't or won't. After all, nothing generates a buzz on-line like telling people they can't see something. You can hear the frenzied clicking from the closet full of fans already.

Two New Talk Shows Hit The Air Today, One With A Familiar Voice From Will & Grace

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

The Megan Mullally Show
Local time slot:
5 p.m. weeknights on Citytv

Debut week line-up:

Will Ferrell, Felicity Huffman, Jenny McCarthy, Patricia Heaton, George Lopez, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lisa Kudrow, Virginia Madsen, Omar Epps, Eva Mendes, Rainn Wilson, Debra Messing and Carol Burnett

Format philosophy:

"Live band, sketches, comedy, field pieces, correspondents ... it's a blend of the old and the new. On the other side of it, we have some things that nobody is doing. We're going to do musical sketches and non-musical sketches, all mixed up ... we're going to try to include celebrity guests in whatever they're comfortable doing.  "I think it will be fun. I don't know if people realize, I've been kicking around this burg for 21 years, and so I have funny, weird little stories about a lot of people ... there are certain people that I know, celebrity-wise, and then there are people that I just cross paths with in a funny way. So there will be a lot of material there. And then I'm looking forward to meeting a lot of people ... because there are a lot of celebrities, obviously, who I haven't met."

Applicable experience:

Eight seasons (185 episodes) on Will & Grace as the booze-guzzling pill-head rich bitch fag hag Karen Walker; episodic appearances on Murder She Wrote, China Beach, Wings, Seinfeld, Herman's Head, Mad About You, Frasier, 3rd Rock from the Sun; former cartoon voice of Pebbles Flintstone; frequent talk-show guest and one-time guest host of Late Show with David Letterman

Talk-show influences:

"I grew up in the heyday of all of the variety shows. I loved Carol Burnett and The Smothers Brothers and Sonny and Cher and all of that, and I also loved Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore. And then, when I was a little older, Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson.  "Since I've been a fan of talk shows all along, and variety shows, I've basically gone through and taken all of the elements that I loved, my favourite elements from all the shows that I've really liked, and stolen them."

Talk-show mentors:

"I've been really lucky because a lot of the hosts, Rosie (O'Donnell) being one, have been really nice to me. Jay Leno has been extremely nice. He has gone out of his way to, you know, give me some encouragement in a fatherly way. And Conan O'Brien has been incredibly nice. I've known Ellen DeGeneres for a million years, and we've talked. It's really kind of neat."

What she won't be doing:

Cooking. "I need Rachael Ray to come over to my house to teach me how to cook because so far, you know what I've got? I've got toast and I've got herbal tea.  "Those are the two things I can make. And I'm not exaggerating. You know, I used to be able to make really good guacamole, but it's been a long time."

A New Network Tries A Few New Tactics

Lynn Elber, Associated Press

(Sept. 19, 2006) LOS ANGELES — Rick Haskins, marketing chief for the fledgling
CW network, does more than talk about reaching prospective viewers one at a time. At a recent CW promotion at a Los Angeles mall, Haskins volunteered to help operate a 300-degree-plus decal machine printing network slogans onto free T-shirts for an unexpectedly big crowd of several thousand. Each phrase represented a CW show -- "Free To Be Witty" for Gilmore Girls, "Free To Be Super" for Smallville -- and each shirt was integral to an innovative effort to sell a new U.S. television network that, ironically, is built mostly with recycled parts. As Haskins sees it, the venture being forged from the WB and UPN is more than the sum of its shows, which at the start include a mix from the defunct networks and a pair of new programs, Runaway and The Game. CW begins tomorrow with a two-hour America's Next Top Model. "I don't look at us as launching a new network. I look at us as launching a new entertainment brand," said Haskins, whose title also makes the point: executive vice-president, marketing and brand strategy. It's not enough to advertise and promote shows, broadcast them and hope viewers tune in, according to Haskins and CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff. To reach its intended audience of 18-to-34-year-olds, the network wants to engage them where they live -- in the digital world. While established broadcasters manoeuvre to exploit the Internet, iPod and other technology, CW is building them into its carefully designed model, its executives said.

"The words we use to describe CW, besides the young demographic, are innovation, participation, connection and community," said Ostroff, the former UPN entertainment head in charge of the new network, which is a joint venture of Viacom-owned CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc. She cited market research that showed its target audience, found at the 60-million-strong intersection of Generations X and Y, "is a 'we' generation, not a 'me' generation." The data also made it clear that the old versus new media divide is non-existent among young adults and that CW had to capitalize on that, according to Ostroff and Haskins. "What we learned from advertisers and viewers is they all were expecting us to be bold and daring and take chances," Ostroff said. So that translates, for instance, to "Free to be Famous," in which viewers build their own promotions of CW shows that can include photos of them and friends. They will be alerted by e-mail if the spots air -- which will be determined by on-line voting. The CW also has a significant presence on the social networking website with a dedicated hub. This week, the network will use it to launch a contest that will give a band the chance to play on the drama Supernatural. Tomorrow, the day the CW opens for business, the network will dominate Yahoo! for the 3 to 4 p.m. EDT hour, with the ad space on every page (except for the site's home page) taken over by CW. There's a commercial makeover afoot as well. Besides the standard 30- or 60-second spots, some sponsors will try to get their message across in what CW has dubbed "content wraps," ad segments promising entertainment or information along with product plugs. On this week's Top Model, viewers will see two-minute content wraps dubbed "C What's Hip," and "Happening" and "Hot," including a behind-the-scenes look at fashion week.  Who's the sponsor? It's Procter & Gamble's Herbal Essences, to be featured in accompanying blurbs about hairstyling tips.

The wraps also would have on-line and wireless tie-ins. For example, viewers could visit the CW's Internet site for a chance to be on a blind-date themed ad spot and later could track the outcome -- as well as get more details on what's being sold. The network has a good shot at succeeding, said Stacey Lynn Koerner, president of the consumer experience practice at Interpublic Media. "They've taken the best of two networks and put them together on a single network. I think it's a win-win from a content standpoint," she said. Recycled WB or UPN shows on CW include 7th Heaven, Everybody Hates Chris, Veronica Mars, All of Us, Girlfriends and Friday Night Smackdown! The content is the first step. But it's also important that CW "looks and feels like the next generation of television networks," Koerner said. "That's got a lot to do with the fact they are inviting the viewer in to be a participant in the experience," and is taking the same inclusive approach to advertisers, she said. Tradition isn't being ignored. The T-shirt giveaway ranks as old school and there are billboards aplenty on streets and in malls -- all done in the CW's theme colour, an eye-catching bright green. The mall promotions were particularly ambitious, with CW stars enlisted in the effort and concerts featuring pop stars including Jewel. "I needed every device I could get my hands on," Haskins said. "I had a very limited amount of time to communicate to the world that this was a new network that was going to be launching in the fall." Another burden is that viewers searching for the UPN and WB shows that made the cut for the CW schedule won't necessarily find them on their old stations. While most WB outlets (67 per cent) are part of CW, only 27 per cent of former UPN stations are CW affiliates. In 8 per cent of the United States, the new network is on a station that was neither a WB or UPN affiliate. In Canada, CW will not appear as a network in most areas, but many of its series continue to air on Canadian channels, such as Gilmore Girls on Global, America's Next Top Model on CITY-TV, Friday Night Smackdown! on The Score and Veronica Mars on SUN-TV in Toronto.

Lorne Michaels Honoured With Gov.-Gen. Award

Source: Canadian Press

(Sept. 19, 2006) Toronto — As creator and executive producer of
Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels has achieved the kind of long-term success that few in the TV industry can imagine. But despite his celebrated career, the Toronto-born Michaels says receiving recognition from Canada still has special meaning for him. "It's the country that defined me," Michaels, 61, said in a recent telephone interview from New York City. "It's the country that educated me. It's the country whose values I absorbed." Michaels was honoured Tuesday with a Governor General's performing arts award for lifetime artistic achievement. Others to receive the prize this year are musician Robbie Robertson, broadcaster Jacques Languirand, actor and director Albert Millaire, dancer and writer Joysanne Sidimus and producer Mark Starowicz. The recipients were announced Tuesday at a ceremony in Montreal. Michaels, who could not be on hand for the announcement, attended the University of Toronto and began his career as a writer and broadcaster at the CBC.  In 1975, he submitted an idea to NBC for a show called Saturday Night Live.  Now heading into its 32nd season, Michaels said his job as executive producer of the legendary late-night comedy show is as "all-consuming" as it was more than three decades ago.

SNL, of course, has been a launching pad for a laundry list of stars, including Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Adam Sandler, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner. Michaels said the ever-changing roster is what keeps him going. "I think if SNL was still being done by the original cast, I think we would all just be sitting in a room staring at each other. The fact that a new generation comes into it every few years and redefines it is what makes it fun to be part of. "It's working with people at the time in their lives when all that matters is the work. ... The intensity with which people commit to Saturday Night Live and the sacrifice in terms of time and energy that's involved is something you can only do at a certain time in your life." Said Michaels of his journey on the show: "It's my life's work, I would imagine." As for being recognized for that work back home, Michaels called his latest kudo "thrilling." "When you don't live in Canada and you just come back a couple times of year ... you know how much you remember the country, you're not sure how much the country remembers you." Michaels is already a member of the Order of Canada and has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. Also honoured Tuesday were Georges and Sherif Laoun, a Montreal father and son team who have extensively supported the arts. They are to receive the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts. Conductor Richard Bradshaw is the recipient of the National Arts Centre Award.

Croc Hunter Honoured

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Dennis Passa, Associated Press

(Sep. 20, 2006) BEERWAH, Australia — Friends and fans, including Hollywood stars and Australia's prime minister, said farewell to "
Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin on Wednesday at a memorial service that veered from poignant tributes to belly laughs. Irwin's 8-year-old daughter, Bindi, hailed him "my hero." His father, Bob, asked people to end their grieving. And fans were invited to laugh at his television antics one more time. The ceremony was carried live on three national television networks and at least one radio station. Flags on the Sydney Harbor Bridge and throughout Irwin's home state of Queensland flew at half-staff, and giant TV screens were set up for people to watch the service. Prime Minister John Howard was among the 5,000 people who attended the ceremony at the "Crocoseum," the small stadium in Irwin's wildlife park where he regularly put on crocodile-feeding shows. "Steve Irwin touched the hearts of Australians and touched the hearts of millions around the world in a very special way," Howard said. In a recorded video message from New York, Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe said: "It was way too soon for all of us. We have lost a friend, a champion.'' Irwin, 44, died Sept. 4 when a stingray’s barb pierced his chest while he filmed a TV show on the Great Barrier Reef. His family held a private funeral service for him Sept. 9 at the family-owned park, Australia Zoo. As expected, there was one empty seat at Steve Irwin's personal stadium — symbolically set aside for the late conservationist himself. On the stage sat Irwin's widow, Terri, and their two children, Bindi, and Bob, 2 — all dressed in Irwin's favourite khaki. It was their first public appearance since Irwin's death. "Please do not grieve for Steve, he's at peace now," Bob Irwin said. "Grieve for the animals. They have lost the best friend they ever had, and so have I.''

Bindi told the crowd at the ceremony that "my Daddy was my hero.’’”He was always there for me when I needed him. He listened to me and taught me so many things. But most of all he was fun," she said.  There were lighter moments, including several video clips of Irwin's in-your-face antics that drew laughs and applause from the crowd.  Most popular were out-takes and bloopers from his TV program, showing Irwin falling out of boats, getting bitten by lizards and forgetting his lines.  At the end of the ceremony, Irwin's utility vehicle, packed with camping gear and his favourite surfboard, was driven from the stadium — through an honour guard of Australia Zoo employees.  After the truck left the stadium, a group of employees spelled out Irwin's catchword "Crikey" in yellow flowers on the ground.  As part of the public memorial titled "He Changed Our World,'' actress Cameron Diaz said in a video presentation that Irwin was incredibly popular in the United States.  "America just flipped for him," said Diaz. "Every kid was in love with the idea of being him.''  Actor Kevin Costner said in the video that Irwin was "fearless ... He let us see who he was. That is being brave in today's society.''  Separately from the service, marine explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau said that, while he mourned Irwin's death, he disagreed with the Australian's hands-on approach to nature television.  He said he respected Irwin's environmental message, but noted that Irwin would "interfere with nature, jump on animals, grab them, hold them, and have this very, very spectacular, dramatic way of presenting things.''  "It sells, it appeals to a lot people, but I think it's very misleading," Cousteau said in Los Angeles. "You don't touch nature, you just look at it.''


Oprah Adds New Venture To Harpo Prods

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(September 15, 2006) *On the eve of her talk show’s 20th season premiere Sept. 18th and the launch of her new channel on
XM Satellite radio the following week, Oprah Winfrey has announced yet another new venture that will expand her multimedia empire.   Her Chicago-based outfit, Harpo Productions, has launched a new development group that will seek out series projects for syndicated, network, cable and digital outlets. Winfrey described the new venture as "instrumental to our future."  "We're committed to using our show platform to help develop additional projects and talent that will extend beyond 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,'" the mogul said in a statement. Harpo executive vice presidents Ellen Rakieten and Harriet Seitler will oversee the new division, according to Daily Variety.  In addition, Sheri Salata has been promoted to executive producer of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and Lisa Erspamer to co-executive producer. Both previously served as supervising producers.  Meanwhile, Harpo Films president Kate Forte will continue to develop and produce features and long form TV programs, including the "Oprah Winfrey Presents" telepics for ABC. Upcoming projects include the Denzel Washington-helmed "The Great Debaters" for the Weinstein Co. and a Lena Horne biopic for ABC.  Harpo Prods. already produces "Dr. Phil" alongside Paramount and King World and helped develop "Rachael Ray," which debuts Monday.

Maya Angelou Joins Oprah’s XM Fam

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(September 14, 2006) *It was only a matter of time before Oprah Winfrey was able to persuade her own personal spiritual guru
Maya Angelou to join her new XM Satellite channel, “Oprah & Friends.”  The poet, whose novels include her autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," will host an as-yet-untitled hour-long show that she hopes will be called "Maya Angelou's America." The premise has Angelou interviewing ordinary citizens, along with the "famous and infamous," asking them what they think it means to be an American.  Meanwhile, Angelou continues to teach at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she has a lifetime position as the Reynolds professor of American studies. “Oprah & Friends,” also featuring shows hosted by Dr. Robin Smith, Nate Berkus Bob Greene, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Marianne Williamson, Jean Chatzky and Gayle King, will debut Sept. 25 on XM channel 156.

Pulling For Fox

Excerpt from - DeBorah B. Pryor, Los Angeles, CA

(September 14, 2006)  "Hello EUR Family: I was one of the viewers of "Dancing With the Stars" last evening and, although I certainly don't need another commitment in my life right now, was so impressed with how actor
Vivica A. Fox represented women over 40, African American women, and more importantly, a woman of class and integrity, I vowed to commit my vote to her for the duration.  She is a hard worker, and a person that I have watched develop into a woman of great integrity and strength. I know that with each week she will strive to improve and impress.  But this is the thing, and to tell you the truth it took one season of American Idol for me to learn this, if we don't vote (numerous times), then she won't win.  I know it works because I tested it on Fantasia by voting for her 75 times in a row one week. That's a lot of button-pushing, but as you know, it paid off. Vivica deserves this kind of support too. Let's work together to ensure she gets it. Take good care."

Brandy’s New TV Project Revealed

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(September 18, 2006) *In July, at the height of her stint as a judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,”
Brandy told EUR that she was planning a return to series television but didn’t want to jinx the situation by discussing it. Thanks to IMDB, details about the project have finally come to light. The as-yet-untitled pilot teams Brandy with Mara Brock Akil, a former writer on the singer’s UPN sitcom “Moesha” who went on to create “Girlfriends” and its new spinoff, “The Game.” Brandy and Akil are developing a show that will star Brandy as a New York native who takes a job in Los Angeles as an entertainment editor.  In the meantime, the 27-year-old single mom is working on a new studio album, due for release in early 2007.

Chris Brown Runs To TV And Film

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(September 19, 2006) *People of colour are moving into Fox’s “The O.C.”...Okay, one person of color and only for a limited time. But for R&B singer
Chris Brown, an eight-episode run as a “band geek” on the show’s upcoming season is enough to get him excited. "I'm playing a nerd, I guess," Brown, 17, tells "We haven't started shooting yet, so you'll just have to watch the show." The teen crooner, who has already gotten a taste of Hollywood with the feature film “Step Up” and UPN’s “One on One,” is also set to star in a college-themed dance film called “Stomp the Yard,” (formerly known  as “Steppin”) due in theatres Jan. 19. Brown is currently traveling the country in the Up Close and Personal concert tour with his “Stomp the Yard” co-star Ne-Yo.  The Tappahannock, VA native says he finds acting a healthy counterpart to his day job of belting hits.  "When you're on stage or in a video, it's kind of like acting, not being yourself," he explains. "You're being an artist, not like you'd be every day at home. So there's a little bit of both in there."    With music still No. 1 in his young life, Brown spends his downtime on a portable studio he carries on tour.     "We're working on certain stuff for the new album," Brown says, but he doesn't expect to start recording until later this year. "Anything we record now is just for fun, really," he says. "We haven't really started working on the new album and probably won't start until December. I've got a lot of ideas coming up, but I just want to have fun with it, make sure it's just being me, and positive."

Isaiah Washington Reveals Secret On ‘Judge Hatchett’

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(September 19, 2006) *As ABC prepares to premiere a new season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” co-star
Isaiah Washington recently spoke to TV Guide about the personal memories triggered by the season-ending shooting of his character Dr. Preston Burke.    Washington was a victim of gun violence in his early years and will talk about it publicly for the first time on Thursday’s episode of “Judge Hatchett,” according to TV He tells the website: "I was young and dumb and one day I popped my mouth to the wrong person and got shot."    On “Judge Hatchett,” Washington tells his story to troubled teen Hakeem White. "Somebody tried to take my life. I have a bullet hole in my right hip from being shot,” Washington says. "I thought I was smarter and faster and quicker than the person I was waiting for at the age of 19. I'm 42 and there was a time where I thought I'd never see 25."   Washington hopes his decision to come forward with his story will help the youngster choose a more positive path.    "He needed to see that we all have a choice in this world, that we can all change our destiny." From 8 to 10 p.m. Thursday, ABC will air the two-part season premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy,” during which Diahann Carroll will be introduced as Burke’s mother. The second hour will air again on Friday at 8 p.m.

New Show To Give Dr. Phil A Run For His Money

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Sep. 20, 2006) NEW YORK — Is there room for a kindler, gentler version of Dr. Phil on television? 
Dr. Keith Ablow hopes so. The author and television personality launched a syndicated TV show this month that will tread some of the same emotional territory of Dr. Phil but from a different perspective.  "I would like to think that a style of communication, an empathetic style of communication that we model with the show, would become contagious with the people at home," Ablow said in an interview.  Ablow said he'll try, with the cameras rolling, to get at the often hidden roots of bad behaviour — the role of parents in unwittingly fuelling eating disorders among their children or the way bullies project emotional violence they have suffered onto others.  The Dr. Keith Ablow Show airs primarily on Fox stations.  The therapist Ablow has written a series of crime novels and next year will publish his first self-help book, Pain to Power: The Journey to Truth, Love and the Rest of Your Life.



Will Michael Healey's New Play, Generous, Match The Success Of The Drawer Boy?

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Sep. 20, 2006) For a man who started his playwriting career by creating monologues from imaginary scripts for Eric McCormack to perform as a Ryerson student,
Michael Healey has done very well.  The 43-year-old actor and playwright, known to TV audiences for his role in CBC's This Is Wonderland, is not only the man behind The Drawer Boy, the most successful Canadian drama of his generation, but he's also written numerous plays, including Generous, currently in previews at the Tarragon Theatre. It opens Tuesday.  "I want to ask questions about how people rub up against each other in society in positive ways" is how Healey describes his latest work, as he sits back in his playwright-in-residence office at Tarragon, tracing the path that brought him there.  He was born in Toronto in 1963, the fourth of five children for his Irish Catholic parents.  They moved to Brockville when he was 2.  "I was asthmatic as a kid," he recalls. "Stayed inside a lot. Spent a lot of time alone." A tight smile. "Typical of a lot of people who wind up being artists."  Healey's first theatrical memory is "doing a play in Grade 7 called The Boy Upstairs. I, of course, was the boy upstairs."  How did he feel in front of an audience for the first time? "It fit," is his succinct reply.  He began doing amateur theatre as often as he could and remembers being "17 years old and still a virgin, but playing a 28- year-old newlywed guy with sexual problems in an Alan Ayckbourn comedy for the Brockville Theatre Guild."

In 1981, he spent a week at Stratford, during which "I realized you could be a serious artist and make a living at the same time. I decided that I would be playing Hamlet there when I was 25."  There was no question in his mind about his path and so he went to Ryerson Theatre School.  "Why there? They accepted me and I was rejected at the National Theatre School."  But a funny thing happened to Healey during his years there as he started becoming less interested in acting and more concerned with writing.  "I got paid in booze," he remembers, "for writing monologues for people who didn't have time to read plays and pick their own. I'd even provide a little précis of the fake play they were from. (The teacher) would say things like `Oh yes, it's been years since I read that O'Neill play.'"  He laughs. "I wrote one for Eric McCormack that was fake Canadian kitchen sink, David French stuff, all about a guy coming out to his parents in Huntsville."  It was fun for a while, but "by the time I got out of theatre school, I had no interest left in being an actor. I went home to Brockville and set out to write a novel. After six months I realized what hard work it was and I gave up. Then I didn't know what to do."  But fate, as it often does in Healey plays, intervened.  "My grandfather was from Lindsay and he died that year, so we all drove up to bury him. My father said `Isn't there a summer theatre in this town? Why don't you go down the street and meet the guy who runs it?'"  His name was Dennis Sweeting and he gave Healey his first professional acting job. "I guess because I was wearing a suit," is Healey's typically self-deprecating comment.

He enjoyed being an actor, "but I didn't get a lot of work." During one extended period of unemployment in 1987, he began writing weekly letters to Christopher Newton, artistic director of the Shaw Festival.  "I had told Newton not to answer any of them," recalls Healey, "but at one point, when things were really bad, I sent him a note saying `Just let me know if you're reading them.' He sent me a postcard back that said `Yes. C.N.' and that meant more to me than any job ever could have."  Healey broke through with his performance in Jason Sherman's 1992 play The League Of Nathans, and it was the playwright who read Healey's letters and suggested they'd make an amusing book. Entitled Dear Mr. Newton; Sincerely, Michael Healey, it came out in 1993 and earned a flurry of attention for its author, who soon found himself again writing monologues.  Only these weren't imitation exercises for someone to deliver in acting class. These were the real thing and they soon coalesced into a piece called Kicked, which Healey performed at the Fringe in 1996 and remounted at Tarragon the following year, wining the Dora award for Best New Play.  While all this was going on, another script was in development, which would change Healey's life.  In 1995, he was acting at the Blyth Festival and they gave him some money to develop a new piece.  "I had written some sketches about two characters whose lives were ruled by myth and ritual and kept telling each other the same story over and over again."  But by the end of a summer at Blyth, he had also learned much about the iconic 1972 play The Farm Show, which had been created in the region. "It became clear to me," Healey says, "how I could combine all these things."  The end result was a play called The Drawer Boy, which had a public reading in 1996. Janet Amos, the artistic director, decided not to do it. Nor did her successor, Anne Chislett.

It might have died there, had Layne Coleman not been at the reading. In 1998, he became artistic director of Theatre Passe Muraille and programmed the play in his season.  The Drawer Boy opened on Feb. 25, 1999 and Michael Healey woke up the next day to find himself the author of a solid hit. It's made top 10 lists across North America and been given hundreds of productions in the past seven years.  "I stumbled upon a fantastic meeting of theme with narrative," Healey insists. "That's only going to happen a couple of times in a career."  So far, it hasn't happened again for Healey. Plan B (2002) got largely positive reviews and won a Dora Award for Best Play, but has only been produced once since. Rune Arlidge (2004) drew mixed notices and hasn't been done again. The Innocent Eye Test (2006) drew nearly universal jeers from the Toronto press with no further stagings in its future so far.  "You go over any playwright's career and you find one or two plays that are more popular than the others," he says. "It has to do with a kind of alchemy you can't summon up at will."  He hopes to summon it up, however, with Generous. It's a series of four short two-act plays that begin independently and wind up connected by the end.  "It all stems from my desire to come at the question of positive public behaviour from a variety of angles so I can ask different questions about it."  As for the major act of generosity in Healey's own life, donating part of his liver in 2004 to save fellow playwright Tom Walmsley, he maintains the silence he's kept all along.  "I have nothing to say about that chapter of my life."  Fair enough. As a good playwright, Healey knows that you don't tell an audience something, you show it to them.  That's how he writes. That's how he lives.


Dawnn Lewis To Star In ‘Sister Act’ Musical

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(September 14, 2006) *
Dawnn Lewis finds herself in the midst of a habit shared famously by Whoopi Goldberg. The former “A Different World” star will portray the nun/singer-in-hiding in the upcoming world premiere musical “Sister Act,” based on the 1992 film.  The production runs Oct. 24 through Nov. 26 at California’s Pasadena Playhouse, then heads south to Atlanta’s Alliance Theater from Jan. 17 through Feb. 25, 2007.  Alan Menken (“Little Shop of Horrors,” “Beauty and the Beast”) pens original music for the work with lyrics by Glenn Slater (“newyorkers,” “That's Life”). It’s been a minute since the last “Sister Act” and its sequel “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” hit theatres in the early 90s. Here’s a plot refresher, courtesy of the musical’s press release:  “When disco club singer Deloris Van Cartier is placed in protective custody in a dying convent, her unique brand of funk comes face-to-face with the traditions of the church and the strict order is in for a change," reads a release for the new work. Masquerading as a nun named Mary Clarence, this Sister's act will have you laughing and singing in the aisles."  Lewis, best known for her role as Jaleesa Vinson Taylor on TV's "A Different World," also appears opposite Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson in the upcoming film version of "Dreamgirls" as Melba Early.  Tickets to “Sister Act” at Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Ave. in Pasadena, CA, or Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff, 1280 Peachtree Street in Atlanta, GA, are available at For more information, visit or   

Usher’s ‘Chicago’ Run Extended

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(September 20, 2006) *Folks hoping to see
Usher during his Broadway run in “Chicago” will now have an extra two weeks before the curtains close on his performance for good. The R&B singer was due to end his role as conniving lawyer Billy Flynn on Oct. 1, but will now remain with the John Kander-Fred Ebb-Bob Fosse musical until Oct. 14 after agreeing to a two-week extension. “Chicago” producer Barry Weissler said in a statement: "I am so happy to have concluded the negotiation for the extension which certainly makes Usher the King of Broadway."   Box office earnings for “Chicago” since Usher’s Aug. 22 arrival have skyrocketed. Last week, the production grossed $728,907, playing to more than 97 percent of capacity at the Ambassador Theatre.   Co-starring with Usher in the current cast are Bianca Marroquin (Roxie Hart), Brenda Braxton (Velma Kelly), Roz Ryan (Matron Mama Morton), Rob Bartlett (Amos Hart) and R. Lowe (Mary Sunshine).   “Chicago’s” performance schedule is Monday, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.; Tuesday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For tickets call at 212 239-6200.



Actor Clooney Urges UN To Send Forces To Darfur

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Leyla Linton, Associated Press

(Sep. 15, 2006) UNITED NATIONS — Oscar-winning actor
George Clooney brought some Hollywood glamour to the United Nations as he used his star power to turn the spotlight on Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur.  Together with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel, Clooney urged members of the U.N.'s Security Council to help end atrocities in the region.  U.N. staffers gathered outside the basement meeting room Thursday to catch a glimpse of the actor burst into applause as Clooney, dressed in a sober suit and tie, arrived with Wiesel for the informal briefing organized by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.  Inside, Clooney told the U.N.'s most powerful body that it must send replacements for the African Union's 7,000 peacekeepers in Darfur when its mandate expires at the end of the month. If it did not, aid workers would have to leave and the 2.5 million displaced people who depend on them would die.  "After Sept. 30 you won't need the U.N. You will simply need men with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones," the 45-year-old actor warned.  The Sudanese government has refused to approve the replacement of African Union peacekeepers by a U.N. force, saying it would violate the country's sovereignty.  More than 200,000 people have been killed and over 2 million have fled their homes since 2003 when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government.  A May peace agreement signed by the government and one of the major rebel groups was supposed to help end the conflict in Darfur. Instead, it has sparked months of fighting among rival rebel factions that has added to the toll of the dead and displaced.  "The United States has called it genocide," Clooney told council members. "For you it's called ethnic cleansing. But make no mistake — it is the first genocide of the 21st century. And if it continues unchecked it will not be the last.''

In stark words he told the U.N. diplomats: "In many ways it is unfair, but it is nonetheless true that this genocide will be on your watch. How you deal with it will be your legacy, your Rwanda, your Cambodia, your Auschwitz.''  "We were brought up to believe that the U.N. was formed to ensure that the Holocaust could never happen again. We believe in you so strongly. We need you so badly. If not the U.N., then who?'' Clooney asked.  Wiesel also urged council members to send peacekeepers. "You are the last political recourse of Darfur victims and you can stop it.''  "Remember Rwanda?" Wiesel said. "I do. Six hundred thousand to 800,000 human beings were murdered. We knew then as we know now they could have been saved and they were not.''  Clooney and Wiesel gave a brief press conference after the meeting ended. Clooney tried to hang back, saying, "We'll let the Nobel Prize winner do the talking," but most of the questions were directed at him.  Clooney said had he chosen this cause because it was "the first genocide of the 21st century.''  Wiesel, however, stopped short of calling the killings in Darfur a genocide. "I call it a process of genocide," he explained. "If we let it continue it will end in genocide. Genocide is not a one-time action. It's a process. They began a process. And therefore I think the United Nations will have to accept that definition. I am usually very, very careful in using that word.''  Clooney and his journalist father, Nick Clooney, spent five days in Darfur in April, gathering personal stories of the death and suffering that has ravaged the African region. Both Clooneys have continued working since their return to publicize the plight of refugees.  The actor told reporters at the U.N.: "Of course you are emotionally attached once you are there. It's one thing to talk about murder and rape and justice and it's another thing to see it on a mass scale and see how cruel people can be to one another.''  Wiesel, who survived the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald during World War II, has worked for human rights in many parts of the world and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.  "Because we went through that period of suffering and humiliation we must do something so that other people should not go through any suffering and humiliation," he said.

Phylicia Rashad -- Doing Service and Thinking Peace

Excerpt from - By Deardra Shuler

(September 19, 2006) *The popularity of The Cosby Show guaranteed
Phylicia Rashad’s celebrity and made her well known to the American public and even to citizens abroad.  Having appeared in the soap operas One Life to Live and Santa Barbara, and a talented Broadway thespian and singer prior to NBCs “The Cosby Show,” it was her performance as Clair Huxtable that led to further opportunities on stage and screen.  Rashad also appeared in “Cosby,” “The Cosby Mysteries” and her voice is featured on the Cosby animated series “Little Bill.” The daughter of a dentist, Phylicia Rashad was born Phylicia Ayers-Allen in Texas.  She attended Howard University where she earned a Bachelors degree in Fine Art and joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  In 1972, she married dentist William Lancelot Bowles, Jr.  The marriage spawned her one son, Billy.  When that marriage ended she wed Victor Willis of the popular group “Village People.” The marriage was short lived due to Willis’ cocaine habit.  Rashad continued to work at her craft and made her first television appearance in “The Wiz”in1978.  In 1985, after being proposed to by former Minnesota Viking and sports announcer Ahmad Rashad during a nationally televised football game, Rashad once again married.  In doing so, Phylicia became step-mother to Ahmad’s son, Ahmad, Jr., and his two daughters Keva and Maiysha.  The couple later had a daughter together, Condola Phylea Rashad, who was born in 1986. Rashad has been a big supporter of multiple charities, among them the Diabetes Association African American Program and the Educational Teacher’s Association. This year, Rashad attended the Presidential Round Table held in April.  The African Presidential Archives and Research Center African Presidential Roundtable is comprised of a group of 12 former heads of state from democratic nations within Africa who together with a group of public and private sector leaders from around the world, discuss Africa’s image in the media, good governance, economics and peace and stability. Also, they discuss how Africa itself can benefit from Africa’s contributions to the global economy which heretofore has benefited the coffers of other countries more so than it has benefited the African continent.

“In 2005, the Presidential Round Table was held in Boston.  There was a gala dinner held at the Kennedy Library” said Rashad who attended.  “As a result of that evening, I was invited to this year’s round table held in Johannesburg, South Africa to attend the renaming of the American Library.  The American Library which was founded in 1976, has been renamed The Rosa Parks Library.  The library provides young students with the opportunity to read and see books and films that were once banned in South Africa during Apartheid.  Today, the library is providing internet access and has grown.  So, if you understand the way the library began, you see its growth is a wonderful way to honour Rosa Parks.  The library has collections on business, entrepreneurship, health, and outreach activities.  I was honoured to be asked to participate,” continued Rashad. A person with a deep sense of integrity and a need to be involved in humane pursuits, Phylicia Rashad is also a spokesperson for The Prasad Project, an international charitable organization which got its start in India’s Tansa Valley where its villagers have little or no access to quality healthcare. “I have been working with this organization for at least ten years” remarked Ms. Rashad.  “I am very pleased with the work being done in India and here in Sullivan County in the USA where we have established the mobile dental unit. Did you know that in America, most absenteeism from school is the result of dental problems?” inquired the beautiful performer. ”The word Prasad is a Sanskrit word meaning the gift that carries blessings. Prasad serves as an anagram for philanthropic relief, altruistic service, and development because that is what they do.  Their work in the Tansa Valley has been wonderful.  There is a mobile hospital, eye clinics where sight restoring surgeries have restored sight to over 1,300 people free of charge” explained the singer/actress.  “Unless you travel to a place where there are no services, you cannot imagine what its like for people in other countries where blindness devastates the entire family.  In poor economies, it’s essential every member of the family work.  A blind family member is a detriment to the income of the other family members as well since the blind person can’t work.  A family member must take care of the blind person thus causing two needed incomes to be pre-empted.  So when we are able to restore sight this is a boon to these indigent families” explained the star of Broadway’s “Gem of the Ocean” and “Raisin in the Sun” which co-starred Sean P. Combs.  The Prasad Project also provides education, scholarships, education regarding the prevention and treatment of AIDS, and the building and cleaning of wells that provide clean water.  Prior to Prasad implementing these programs, the death statistics were astounding.  Prasad helps women start their own little businesses, it feeds people, dispenses medicine, etc.  The work of Prasad is vast” said Rashad proudly.

Ms. Rashad has appeared in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Dreamgirls,” “Into the Woods,” “The Cherry Orchard,” “Weep Not For Me,” “Polly,” “Jailbirds,” “Hallelujah,” “David’s Mother,” “The Possession of Michael D.,” “The Babysitter’s Deduction.” “Free of Eden,” “The Old Settler,” and “Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored.”  She won best leading actress for “Raisin in the Sun.” She is the first African American woman to win that prize. “I often meditate,” explained Rashad of her peaceful demeanour and calm tone.  “I like to encourage positive thought.  I was in deep thought about the state of the world recently and I asked the question: ‘What can I do?  The answer came to me ‘think peace.”  Think peaceful thoughts, speak peaceful words, and perform peaceful actions that promote peace.  I think those words are very powerful.  “Think peace.”  It starts there.  It all starts right where we are.  It starts with each of us.”

CBC Chair Resigns Amid Controversy

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Rhéal Séguin

(Sept. 20, 2006) QUEBEC —
Guy Fournier, who was criticized by his peers and ridiculed by the public, resigned as chairman of the board of the CBC yesterday in the wake of comments that shocked some and angered many. After offending the Lebanese community in a recent column mocking sexual behaviour in Lebanon and flouting rules of good taste by expressing the joys of defecation in a radio interview, Mr. Fournier had become the target of ridicule and an embarrassment for both the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the government. "I inform this House that I have received the voluntary resignation of Mr. Fournier effective today," Minister of Canadian Heritage Bev Oda told the House of Commons yesterday, prompting loud cheers and spontaneous applause from her Conservative colleagues. Mr. Fournier tendered his resignation after sparking a public outcry in the wake of last week's publication of his regular column in the gossip magazine 7 jours, where he made unfounded remarks about male sexual behaviour in Lebanon. "In Lebanon, the law makes it possible for men to have sexual intercourse with animals as long as they are females. To do the same thing with male animals could lead to the death penalty," he wrote.  Even after the Lebanese-Canadian community vigorously protested, Mr. Fournier shrugged off the controversy, saying he couldn't understand why people were insulted by something he found to be "rather funny."

Ms. Oda demanded last Friday that he "reflect on his role and responsibility as chairman of the board of the CBC." Mr. Fournier's fate was probably sealed after an appearance on Radio-Canada's television program Tout le monde en parle, where close to two million viewers heard an excerpt of a 12-minute radio interview devoted to defecation. "What is more extraordinary is that as we get older we can defecate once a day whereas making love once a day may become a problem," the 75-year old Mr. Fournier said. "Therefore the pleasure is more durable and more frequent than with the other." The interview, which was broadcast on Toronto's French language community radio station CHOQ-FM last May, had received limited public attention, but after being exposed to such a huge audience, Mr. Fournier quickly became the object of jokes and ridicule that reflected poorly on the public broadcaster's image.  Liberal MP Denis Coderre couldn't resist cracking a joke when asked to comment on Mr. Fournier's resignation. "I think his performance at Tout le monde en parle was for him a decisive moment," he said. "He was the victim of his own turpitude. He flushed himself." Mr. Fournier's resignation comes less than a year after he was appointed board chairman by the former Liberal government in October of 2005. It was apparent from the outset that his reputation for making crude and controversial remarks would eventually annoy CBC executives. For instance, last May he gave an interview where he said the French-language networks lacked objectivity in reporting news, which, according to him, failed to promote national unity. CBC president Robert Rabinovitch will be acting board chairman until Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoints a new chairman. Mr. Fournier was unavailable for comment yesterday. The prolific scriptwriter and producer, whose films and television series have been broadcast on private and public French-language television for close to 50 years, could return to writing humour columns for a gossip magazine even though he quit the job last week in a last-ditch effort to hold on to his CBC position.

A Cuban's Fragile City In Downtown T.O.

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Val Ross

(Sept. 20, 2006) Sooner or later, all cities lose their treasures. Ghosts of grand, vanished buildings haunt Halifax, Montreal, Beijing, Baghdad. But Havana, capital of a country whose economy has regressed since the 1959 revolution, is unusual in that it has lost its heritage not to clumsy development, but to the decay of malfunctioning idealism. As Cuba's octogenarian leader Fidel Castro approaches death, more change is coming to his island nation. A weird nostalgia for the about-to-vanish present, as well as Havana's four decades of physical decay, permeate the exhibition of fascinating, architecturally inspired works by Cuban artist
Carlos Garaicoa, running to Dec. 31 at the Royal Ontario Museum's Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) in Toronto. This exhibition is about the city where Garaicoa was born in 1967; it's about ideology-driven planning and modernist amnesia; and it's also about making manifest imaginary urban ideas that glow with playfulness. The exhibition was curated by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, but owing to the Bush administration's antipathy to Castro's Cuba, the artist couldn't be present until his show came to Toronto.  "This is a recent situation," frowns Garaicoa. "I've been to L.A. before." Throughout the Clinton era, he says, Cuban artists thronged the U.S. "Now, it's really random." So random, he adds, that one of his assistants was denied a visa by Canadian authorities.

Burly, amiable and fierce-looking, with black locks flowing down his back, he has arrived at the ROM with his wife, Mahé, and toddler son, Rodrigo, six days before the official opening to install original, site-specific works for the show, and to hear the newly commissioned soundtrack, featuring Mahé on clarinet, that accompanies the show's video. On Wednesday afternoon, working with three assistants, Garaicoa hammers pins into the walls of the ROM's Weston Family Wing, as a CD player blasts the twitchingly irresistible Cuban music of Havana Abierta. The team strings the pins with threads to form the outlines of buildings -- lines that cast shadows on the white walls behind. "We want a soft effect, a double shadow, to create a fragile city almost disappearing," Garaicoa says. As the team works away, ICC managing director Kelvin Browne considers the thread drawings and then contemplates some of the artist's wire and paper creations, lit from within to create a futuristic model city seemingly made of Noguchi lamps. "Carlos doesn't want us to barricade this from the public," Browne says, stepping over electrical wires. He says he is not too worried about children bashing into the delicate objects. "We've got more security on this. . . ." In any case, this intense fragility is part of Garaicoa's power: When visitors can stick their faces so close to the paper models or the threads that they can almost brush their tiny lines with an eyelash, they become implicated in protecting them. "Art has to be interactive," Garaicoa says. "I like the feeling that you are playing with something dangerous." He cannot resist adding, "Ideas are dangerous."

Along with Wilfredo Prieto and Sandra Ramos, the self-trained Garaicoa is a star of Cuba's post-revolutionary generation. Featured at the 2005 Venice Biennale, he won the 2005 Prix Monaco for contemporary art, and his works have been acquired for the permanent collections of London's Tate Modern, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and New York's Museum of Modern Art. Recently, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Castleford, England, birthplace of Henry Moore, gave him a £15,000 (about $31,000) commission. In fact, Garaicoa has so many European projects, he keeps a studio in Liverpool, England. "But Havana is my laboratory," he says, and his home base is a 1920s former Ursuline school, where he can be found working with his five-person team on new plans and models. Dan Cameron, senior curator at New York's New Museum of Contemporary Art, remarked recently that Cuban artists are so hot right now, they're "disproportionately influential." If so, perhaps that's because the island's geographical proximity to, and political isolation from, the United States give its artists a unique vantage point from which to observe and comment on 21st-century global culture. Will this cultural perspective evaporate with Castro's passing? Garaicoa snorts. "The worst you can say to a Cuban artist is to stay the same. Some Americans and Canadians want Cuba to be a museum." This makes him smile angry. "We are part of the world! We are not dinosaurs! We are not the Royal Ontario Museum!" And then he laughs -- because his presence in the horizon-seeking Institute for Contemporary Culture is a good sign that even the ROM is no longer defining itself as an old-style museum.


‘Project Runway’s’ Michael Knight Shines

Excerpt from

(September 18, 2006) *"
Project Runway" contestant Michael Knight was reportedly the crowd favourite among the show’s final four showing their collections Friday at New York’s Fashion Week.  According to Reuters, Knight’s line was a bit more adventurous than the looks he created throughout the show, the majority of which have pleased judges Heidi Klum, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia.  “Starting with an ivory and gold palette, the Atlanta-based designer showed lace-up tops and smock jackets, used strong colors such as deep fuchsia and metallic orange and went for the bold with a futuristic swimsuit that appeared to be made of shimmering liquid gold,” Reuters reported. The season’s sole African American contestant and the show’s first black male designer ever, Knight is competing in the final four with edgy Los Angeles designer Jeffrey Sebelia, Miami Beach's Uli Herzner and Manhattan-based architect Laura Bennett.  The winner of the Bravo reality show, now in its third season, will be announced during the season finale on October 11. The victor gets $100,000 to start a clothing line and a fashion spread in Elle magazine.



Raycroft Into The Limelight

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Paul Hunter, Sports Reporter

(Sep. 18, 2006)
Andrew Raycroft understands the importance of a first impression. Tonight, he'll be making about 19,000 of them.  Raycroft carries the privilege or the burden - depending on how this all unfolds - of being the next No. 1 goaltender for the Maple Leafs, the next in line after a series of, mostly, stellar seasons from Felix Potvin, Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour.  The 26-year-old will make his exhibition season debut tonight as Toronto kicks off its fall friendlies by hosting Buffalo.  The Leafs bought out a fading Belfour at the end of last season and then traded highly-touted Finnish goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask to Boston for Raycroft. He begins his stint in Toronto anointed as the No. 1 puckstopper with a three-year, $6 million (U.S.) contract.  But, after what was dismal final season in Boston, all eyes will be on the former NHL rookie of the year to see if his game is back in form.  Raycroft said it's not just the fans he's hoping to impress.  "No matter if there's two people in the stands or 20,000, there's probably someone who is watching you for the first time," he said this morning.  "You always go out and try and do your best and perform well, whether it's for the people in the stands or for the new guys in (the Leafs' dressing room) that have never really seen me play either. Every day you go out on the ice and practice and you want to make good impressions on these guys and have them have confidence in you."

Raycroft will be given the full 60 minutes tonight and coach Paul Maurice said all he's really looking for from the netminder, other than an ability to stop the puck, is a "comfort level" in the net.  As for Raycroft, he said these exhibition tilts are important for fine-tuning elements of the game that are impossible to recreate in a practice sessions.  "You work all summer on your conditioning and try to be in the best shape you can and then once you get on the ice, it's more timing. It's more getting a feel for the rhythm of the game, in all different game situations that you just can't simulate all summer through practices," he said.  But this isn't a normal exhibition debut, not with Leaf Nation waiting to see what they've got between the pipes this season.  "You always have nerves going into a game but it is an exhibition game. It's there to get better. It's not like it's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. I'd be little more nervous for that. There's always butterflies whenever you play. You want to do your best and that's where those nerves come from," he said.  "First impressions last. It's just like any profession in life, you always want to make a good first impression. That's important to work hard and prove to everyone here that I want to do well and play well."

Slapshots: For Mats Sundin watchers who are trying to divine how new coach Paul Maurice will utilize the captain this season, it's worth noting that tonight Sundin will be in the lineup skating between wingers Alexei Ponikarovsky and Darcy Tucker . . . The other Leaf lines will see Kyle Wellwood between Alex Steen and Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan between No. 1 draft pick Jiri Tlusty and John Pohl and Blue-and-White game star Erik Westrum between Wade Belak and Brett Engelhardt . . . On defence, Maurice said he planned on teaming each of his veteran defenceman (Bryan McCabe, Hal Gill and Pavel Kubina) with a prospect (Andy Wozniewski, Staffan Kronwall and Jay Harrison) with those pairings likely changing through the course of the game . . . Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo, who departed the first training camp skate looking woozy, will undergo a battery of tests this afternoon in attempt to determine if the reason he felt sick was due to post-concussion syndrome.


Leafs Enforcer Tie Domi Retires

Source: Canadian Press

(Sept. 19, 2006) Toronto — Saying he just "couldn't put on another jersey," longtime Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer
Tie Domi retired Tuesday.  "I love hockey, I love the Toronto Maple Leafs, this is my home," Domi said, his voice cracking with emotion during a packed news conference at the Air Canada Centre. "There were other interests, but I couldn't see myself wearing another jersey other than the blue and white." Domi said he has taken a job with TSN. "I may leaving the ice, but I'm not leaving hockey," Domi said. "I am excited and nervous in my new role, but I promise to bring the same person that had the passion, dedication and the enthusiasm to the broadcast arena that I delivered to the ice." The 36-year-old Domi was something of a hockey dinosaur as the role of enforcer decreased while speed and skill have been emphasized in the new NHL. The Leafs bought out the remaining year of his contract during the off-season. They are paying him $833,000 over two years, two-thirds of the $1.25-million he was owed. "We want to thank Tie for his many years of service to the organization," Leafs GM John Ferguson said in June while announcing the buyout. "He became a fan favourite for a reason." Domi spent the final 11 seasons of his career in Toronto. He's fourth all-time in NHL penalty minutes with just over 3,500. Domi recorded just five goals last season. With fighting down and offence favoured in the new NHL, the Leafs decided it was time to cut Domi loose.  He played 1,020 career games in the league with the Leafs, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets.

Santa Clara University Honours Steve Nash

Source: Associated Press

(Sept. 19, 2006) Santa Clara, Calif. — Santa Clara University retired
Steve Nash's jersey when the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and 1996 graduate spoke at the school's convocation ceremony this week. A banner honouring the Phoenix Suns guard from Victoria was hung in the rafters at the Leavey Center on Monday, and Nash's No. 11 jersey was raised on the opposite end of the gym. Nash is the first Santa Clara athlete whose jersey has been raised. "This is obviously very exciting for me," Nash said. "I don't get a chance to come back to school often, so for me to be here is just great, and coupled with the huge honour it is to be able to be acknowledged for my career, is amazing and very humbling." Nash was recruited by coach Dick Davey, who still heads the Santa Clara program, and arrived at the Bay Area school from Canada in 1992. He led the Broncos to three berths in the NCAA tournament and two regular-season titles in the West Coast Conference, winning the league's Player of the Year award in 1995 and 1996. "I owe so much to my experience here," Nash told the students. "All of you guys really need to take advantage of this and make the most of your opportunity here. I urge you to really get involved, to be balanced, to do well in school, and make as many friends as possible."


Boost Your Metabolism

By Sheri Strykowski, Special for eDiets

(September 18, 2006) Ready to transform your sweet self into a lean, not-so-mean, fat-burning machine? You may be surprised to find that you don’t have to overhaul your lifestyle.  People make the mistake of thinking they have to make drastic changes to lose weight and get in shape, says Lyssie Lakatos, RD, LD, CDN, but the secret is to make small changes and incorporate them into their lives permanently. "Dropping your caloric intake below 1,000 calories a day on a consistent basis will signal your body that you are in starvation mode, and will slow down your metabolism," warns Lakatos, who with her twin sister, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, LD, CDN, is the co-author of Fire Up Your Metabolism. When the metabolism slows, we store food as fat and gain weight.  Calories do count, but it’s also about how efficiently your body burns those calories. Your metabolism plays a big part in regulating your weight, Shames says. Metabolism is the way your body uses up calories from the food you eat and turns them into energy. Metabolic rate is the speed at which you use up those calories. The goal is to get your metabolism into peak operating condition so you will burn the most calories all day long... even while you sleep.  If you follow these 7 tips to speed up your metabolism, you might never again find yourself facing the dreaded "next bigger size" on the rack of cute jeans at your favourite store.

Tip #1 -- Determine your daily caloric needs: To rev up your fat-burning engine, don’t overload your system with too much food, says Shames. Figure out how many calories you need to consume each day to lose weight and keep your metabolism humming. Caloric level is determined by taking into account your age, sex, height, weight, lean body mass and activity level. Here’s a quick formula from Shames to give you an idea of your magic number: Multiply your body weight by 11. For example, a 140-pound woman would need to consume 1,540 calories per day to lose weight. If you’re very active, you can multiply your weight by 12.

Tip #2 -- Divvy up your meals: Kick-start your metabolism and curb your appetite by dividing your meals into five to six small, nutritious meals a day instead of three squares. Eat a 200-400 calorie mini-meal every three to four hours. Your body will expend more energy to digest the food and your metabolic rate will increase, Lakatos says.

Tip #3 -- Just move! Physical activity accounts for 20 to 40 percent of calories burned each day. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests that a good goal for many people is to work up to exercising four to six times a week for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. If you can’t do that much, do what you can, say the twins: walk the dog, park the car at the far end of the lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, clean the house, just do something.

Tip# 4 -- Pump iron: Muscle is your best friend! Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the pace at which your body burns calories at rest. It accounts for 60 to 70 percent of your daily calorie expenditure and it’s closely linked to the amount of muscle you have. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn, even while you sleep. Lean muscle needs calories just to exist, so start lifting those weights.

Tip#5 -- Sleep tight: Sleep loss may increase hunger and affect the body’s metabolism, which may make it more difficult to lose weight, according to studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Lancet. People who lose sleep may continue to feel hungry despite adequate food intake because sleep loss has been shown to affect the secretion of cortisol, a hormone that regulates appetite. Make sure you get in your eight hours or more of shut-eye every night.

Tip# 6 -- Eat lean protein and good carbs: Your body burns some of its own calories when it digests the food you eat. This is called the thermic effect of foods (TEF) and it’s what makes protein (which has the highest thermic effect of any food) and good carbs metabolism-friendly. Lean protein such as turkey and chicken also builds calorie-burning muscle. Good carbs such as whole grains, legumes, veggies, and fruit are also your body’s major fuel source, says Shames. They provide the energy to get you up and moving so you can burn more calories.

Tip# 7 -- Drink H2O: Researchers in Germany have found that drinking water may increase the rate at which people burn calories. Study participants’ metabolic rates increased by 30 percent after consuming approximately 17 ounces of water. The energy-burning process of metabolism needs water to work effectively. Water also fills you up, curbs your appetite, flushes out your system, and rids the body of bloat. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses per day and more if you’re active.

Sheri Strykowski is a freelance journalist who specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle. Her articles have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Lerner newspapers and National Safety Council publications. She is also a content expert who has built over 40 websites for a Fortune 100 company.


Motivational Note - Are You Really Ready To Get Busy?

Excerpt from - By Willie Jolley,

Do you want to do more, be more and achieve more? If the answer is yes then it is important you make a commitment to work on you, and sometimes that is hard, yet you must realize that if you want to succeed in life…it will be because you face those hard things and deal with them, and that takes motivation. Motivation is taken from the Greek word “motere” which means, “to act”.  See it is one thing to talk about what you want but it takes motivation to do something about it, to act on it! I love the story about three little birds who are sitting on a telephone wire. One of them decides to fly away!  How many birds are left?  Three!  Why?  Because until you take action on your decisions nothing happens!  You must be motivated!  You must ACT!  Get busy right now and act!  You’ll be so glad you did!