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


Updated:  September 21, 2006

Thanksgiving is just around the corner so start preparing a list and letting those you know in your life how grateful you are for their influence.

This week bring us the scoop on
Kayte Burgess who is rocking 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!  

Also, there is the news of the latest changes at
FLOW 93.5.  You will find the answers to your questions in this article. 




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::

Stopping the FLOW?

Source:  Eye Weekly, By Jon Sarpong

(Sept. 21, 2006) If you live in Toronto and are a fan of urban music, it goes without saying that you've tuned into
FLOW 93.5FM, Canada's first commercial urban-music station. Launched in 2001 with a mandate to bring urban (read: black) music to Toronto's vanilla-flavoured mainstream-radio landscape, FLOW has surprised the critics by steadily increasing its listenership while maintaining the goodwill of its audience. However, recent developments, including the departure of much-loved on-air talent and the introduction of questionable programming, has led to ever-increasing speculation that FLOW will be abandoning its urban-music format in favour of a more advertiser-friendly top 40 schedule.  Much of the speculation surrounding FLOW began this summer with the rumoured dismissal of music director Justin Dumont. Adding fuel to the fire, earlier this month, morning-show hosts Jemeni and Mark Strong abruptly announced that, after five years at FLOW, they would be leaving the station. Shortly after, FLOW management announced the introduction of a new morning team that included Melanie Martin, formerly of Z103.5, Toronto's most popular top 40/dance radio entity. As a result of these changes, many long-time FLOW listeners, angered and confused by these actions, filled email inboxes, voicemails and mailbags wanting to know one thing: "What is happening at FLOW?"  "Definitely they have restructured the show," Jemeni responds when asked if she believes that FLOW is going top 40. "As far as why they wanted to restructure the show, you'd have to ask FLOW."

Jemeni -- who is currently starring in Trey Anthony and Rachael-Lea Rickards' latest stage effort, I Am Not a Dinner Mint -- reveals that the changes at FLOW have been bubbling beneath the surface for quite a while.  "Mark and I began discussing leaving FLOW about two years ago," Jemeni acknowledges. "Back then, we could see that there were changes coming. It was about six months ago that we got a more clear idea of what was happening with the station. Everyone was hearing the rumours and we agreed that we'd stick it out and wait for [management] to make their move. In the meantime, we decided that we'd give the most of Mark and Jem that we could, and hoped that at the end of the day there would be some package while we moved toward pursuing our dreams."  When asked about what has necessitated the changes at FLOW, Jemeni claims the pressures exerted by commercial-radio market on the fledgling station may have been underestimated by FLOW's management.  "I believe that Mr. [Denham] Jolly [FLOW's president & CEO] has said several times that, because it was a new forum, what he aimed to do and what he found it possible to do and still be successful were two different things. I respect him for saying that and I think that explains a lot of what has gone on."  Nicole Jolly, vice-president of operations for FLOW, believes that the rumours connected to personnel, format and programming changes at the station are the result of a few misguided voices.

"If people understood our business, they'd criticize less," Jolly relates. "First, I'd like to squash the rumour that Justin Dumont, our music director, was fired. He went away for a brief time this summer to enjoy his honeymoon. He came back with a ring and still works at the station. But this is an example of how through a misinterpreted incident, rumours can get started."  With over 400,000 listeners in the GTA, Jolly and the rest of her management staff have been inundated with questions related to the recent moves at her station. Her stance is that FLOW, like any other commercial radio station, is attempting to deepen the connection it has with its audience.  "We are responding to the needs of our listeners," she says. "Listeners tell us what they like every day by voting with their ears. When we make changes, it's because people have told us, through research, what they want to hear."  Jolly also hopes to quell all gossip surrounding the departure of the Mark and Jem morning team.  "There was nothing personal about the exit of Mark and Jem," Jolly says. "I still have a great deal of respect for both of them. I don't think it would be fair to them to talk about the reasons they left in a public forum. What I will say is that people leave their workplaces for many reasons and things aren't always what they seem. We've been criticized by some people because Mark and Jem are no longer on the air; those criticisms contain assumptions. Mark and Jem were treated fairly and as far as I know, were not unhappy about leaving the station.  Jolly tackles the larger issue of whether FLOW will move toward a top 40 format with cautious consideration. Having witnessed the rise and fall of urban stations across the country, she does not close the door on the possibility of a format change, but denies that FLOW has any immediate plans to move toward that course of action.  "Urban music is definitely becoming more difficult to categorize," she reveals. "In terms of going top 40, everybody is talking about these rumours. In this business you don't ever want to say 'never,' but I can definitely say that right now, we do not have any plans to go in that direction." EMAIL LETTERS@EYEWEEKLY.COM

Flow Charting

·         2000 After a decade of frustration, the efforts of Milestone Radio are rewarded as the CRTC grants Denham Jolly's company a radio licence for an urban-music format.

·         2001 FLOW 93.5FM hits the airwaves bringing urban music to GTA. Jemeni and Mark Strong debut the morning radio show that they will host for the next five years.

·         2003 Farley Flex leaves FLOW management to pursue production and television opportunities, including Canadian Idol.

·         2004 FLOW forms the Peace Prophets, a collective of concerned members of Toronto's urban-music community, aimed at fighting gun violence in Toronto.

·         2006 Popular morning show hosts Mark and Jemeni leave FLOW under dubious circumstances. Rumours surrounding a format change at the station quickly travel across the country. Listeners question whether this signals the end of urban music in Toronto.

 Illustration: Anthony Brennan

Toronto Native Sam Ashaolu Improves After Being Shot; Baldonado Released

By Alan Robinson, Canadian Press

(Sept. 22, 2006) PITTSBURGH (AP) - Duquesne University forward
Sam Ashaolu, one of five basketball players shot after a campus dance last weekend, was upgraded from critical to serious condition Friday and has begun to speak softly.  Toronto native Ashaolu, the most seriously injured of the Dukes players, is the only one who remains hospitalized. Stuard Baldonado, a junior forward shot in the left arm and back, was released from Mercy Hospital late Friday afternoon - hours before his parents arrived from Colombia.  "It's unbelievable the progress they're making," coach Ron Everhart told The Associated Press.  Family members said Ashaolu, sedated for much of the week, asked Thursday night about two of his brothers - the first words he is known to have spoken since being shot early Sunday morning. He also recognized himself, and a brother, while watching TV news accounts of the shooting.  Ashaolu initially asked about 17-year-old brother Olu, a high school junior in Texas who is considered one of the nation's top basketball players in the class of 2008.  Ashaolu's condition was upgraded less than a week after he was shot twice in the head - with one bullet splintering into several sections. The bullet fragments remain because it would be too risky to try to remove them due to the severe swelling from the wounds.  But doctors did remove a ventilator that was aiding Ashaolu's breathing and a drain that was guiding fluids from his head. Doctors who spoke to Duquesne officials said both developments were significant given how badly Ashaolu was hurt.

Earlier in the week, Everhart said Ashaolu was fighting for his life.  "I think I'm witnessing a miracle," Everhart said. "That he could make such progress so quickly is unbelievable. These are things the doctors were hoping for in two to three weeks."  Because Ashaolu still has bullet fragments in his head, doctors are not yet ready to make a prognosis for his recovery. If he should somehow be bumped or if the fragments would shift, there is a possibility he could regress.  "But we've seen nothing but progress," Everhart said. "This shows you what a fighter Sam is, and what tough shape he's in. The fact he is stable is a very big relief. We're not out of the woods yet, but everything in the last 72 hours has been very uplifting."  Ashaolu, Shawn James, Aaron Jackson, Kojo Mensah and Baldonado were shot as they returned to their dormitories and apartments following the dance. All but Jackson were new players who had arrived on campus only in the last few weeks.  Baldonado initially was listed in serious condition but was upgraded to fair Monday. A day later, he had a bullet removed from a patch of muscle just below the skin in his back.  His mother and father, who live on an island off the coast of Colombia, were due in town Friday night and will stay with the former Miami Dade College player as he continues his rehabilitation.  Duquesne won't say Baldonado will miss the season, but back injuries like his normally take two to three months of rehabilitation.  Arrested and charged in the shootings earlier this week were William Holmes and Brandon Baynes, both 18 and of the Pittsburgh suburb of Penn Hills.  According to a criminal complaint, Brittany Jones, a 19-year-old Penn Hills resident, helped six men - several of whom she knew were carrying guns - to gain admission to a Black Student Union dance on Duquesne's campus.

Jones was a Duquesne student - the two men were not - but was suspended from school after she was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, carrying a firearm without a license and criminal conspiracy. She was released after posting US$2,000 bail.  Bail was set at $250,000 for Baynes. It has not been posted, and he remains in jail. Holmes was denied bail.  The shootings took place early Sunday shortly after the dance ended when, according to AP interviews with two players, several of the non-students apparently became upset when Jones began flirting with one of the Dukes players.  Several players have needed counselling after complaining they were unable to sleep well. On Wednesday, the team resumed off-season conditioning drills, and Everhart was pleased with how the players responded to being back on the court.  "I think it's been very therapeutic for them," he said.

Food Fit For A Cole Porter Song

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Amy Pataki

Sopra Upper Lounge

Address: 265 Davenport Rd. (at Avenue Rd.), 416-929-9006
Chef: Joey Malandrino
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Reservations: Recommended
Wheelchair access: No
Price: Dinner for two with wine, tax and tip: $100. Entertainment charge: $15

Question: What do you get when you combine cool jazz and a hot young chef?

Sopra Upper Lounge.

(Sep. 23, 2006) The lounge — a softly lit upstairs room richly appointed by Munge Leung Design in dark wood, marshmallow soft leather chairs and curvaceous booths — is the stylish younger sister of Mistura downstairs.  Besides the ownership team of Paolo Paolini and Mistura executive chef Massimo Capra, Sopra and Mistura share a commitment to the finer things in life. Things like perfectly seared foie gras, a powerfully fruity 2003 Planeta Burdese from Sicily and a pristine white marble bathroom fit for a Roman empress, complete with seven different hair products for a mid-meal touch-up.  It's a $1.8-million experiment in aural and gastro pleasure, and a successful one at that.  Where Sopra ("above" in Italian) differs from its 9-year-old sibling is in the music. Combos, cabaret singers, blues and New Orleans jazz — the music starts every night at 9, drawing diners from downstairs as well as those pining for the now-closed Montreal Bistro, Top O' The Senator and George's Spaghetti House.

They nurse a drink at the glowing onyx bar, or share a few small plates at table and make quiet conversation.  "It shouldn't be that you can't talk," says Paolini. "If you have just a listening room, at the end of the night you can barely pay for the band."  That makes Sopra a restaurant with music rather than a music venue with food. And the food here is decidedly a cut above. As executed by 31-year-old chef Joey Malandrino (ex-Senses), the menu is divided into five sections: land, sea, earth, frittura (fried things) and sweet things. Categories can overlap but saving the rare exception, every dish is a winner: sophisticated, playful, bright and inventive.  Like a good jazz band, the kitchen takes a standard and riffs on it. In that vein, my first meal at Sopra echoes the set played by the Joe Sealy Trio.

Gershwin's "'S Wonderful" kicks off the evening as the shrimp ceviche ($12) comes to the table, and it is wonderful indeed. Served in an oversized spoon and garnished with jicama slaw and avocado purée, it is ceviche as it is intended: the freshest seafood sparked by lime juice and coriander, each pale pink mouthful a trip to a Latin beach.  Equally marvellous are tomato-stuffed oysters ($12), morsels of quivering plumpness barely contained by a crisp tempura coating (now a weekend special). Emerging less successfully from the hot oil is a tumble of curried cauliflower florets bogged down by spongy breading ($7).  But it's not until the song "I've Never Been In Love Before" starts up that I realize it's true: Sopra's lamb chops ($14) make me forget all others. I fall hard for the quartet of spiced lamb sputtering fat from the grill, cushioned by thick, cool tzatziki underneath.  Mournful standard "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" plays in the background as dessert arrives. So true. If I didn't love the profiteroles ($6) so much — perfect choux pastry sheathed in crunchy caramel and filled with rich mocha pastry cream — I wouldn't be disappointed by other versions. The sugar-dusted Latin doughnuts called churros ($6) are excellent on their own, and practically indecent when paired with a molten chocolate shooter.  Another night, it's John Alcorn singing beside the Steinway grand piano. "Come Fly With Me," he beckons, and so does the miniature burger ($15). To call such pure carnivorous bliss a burger — USDA Prime striploin ground on site, the juicy patty served on a custom Ace Bakery egg bun with caramelized onions, tomato aioli and an oversize slice of foie gras — is like calling Chet Baker a horn blower.

It's not the only improvement. Hostesses in the '50s used to wrap scallops in bacon ($16). Here, the divine is in the details: smoked bacon, obscenely plump scallops, fennel and orange salad, and a tart pomegranate reduction. Tuna tataki ($14), a common enough dish, is exceptional for its freshness and the bravura introduction of Moroccan preserved lemons to an otherwise Asian plate.  As Alcorn croons "I've Got You Under My Skin," it's possible the song describes one of Sopra's bestsellers: crispy chicken wings ($10) stuffed with crab and rice. It's also possible that the "warning voice that comes in the night" was to caution me against the soggy fries ($6), poorly shucked fresh oysters with bits of shell ($13) and a Pink Lady cocktail ($12) with the look and taste of Pepto-Bismol.  Desserts, as done by pastry chef Ben Russell (ex-Eggplant), are less polished the second time around. The churros have gotten skinnier and thus drier, while the cookie platter ($5) tastes like it came from a ho-hum European bakery; at least the profiteroles remain excellent.  Service is still settling in (the restaurant opened less than a month ago), which means eventually Sopra waiters should be able to identify the offerings on the cheese plate, fill water glasses without prompting and learn their way around the wines so prominently on display. The musical line-up is also moving towards some dancing, and the menu is still being tweaked.  Still, for a restaurant tackling the live-music genre that has defeated countless others, Sopra is quick off the mark.  As Ella Fitzgerald would say, "Our Love Is Here To Stay."


Owen Pallett? You'll Hear About This Guy

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara

(Sep. 24, 2006( The music critics love him.  He's a darling of the indie music scene and his string arrangements have contributed to the acclaim of breakout bands like Arcade Fire.  He's even been profiled in The New York Times.  Yet to the average Canadian music lover, the name
Owen Pallett — and his one-man band Final Fantasy — is almost certain to draw a blank stare.  Probably not, however, for much longer.  With his violin, a looping pedal (which plays back parts just performed so Pallett can play live over them, creating a mesmerizing blend), and his self-described "bad singing," Pallett has over the past two years found growing success as a solo artist.  His most recent acclaim came just this week, with the Polaris Music Prize for best Canadian album of the year, for his second release, He Poos Clouds. Pallett was the underdog winner of the $20,000 award, chosen Monday night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre by 11 of the country's top music critics.  "So, Owen, how are you feeling?" an interviewer asks a few days later.  "Confused and disgusted," Pallett replies, with a self-conscious laugh. "My first thought was `did (the judges) even listen to the record?' Because it's kind of crap," he says, noting he had bet on The New Pornographers' Twin Cinema to win. (Metric and Broken Social Scene were also among the nominees.)  The critics who award the Polaris prize beg to differ, citing the album's uniqueness and originality, and Pallett's craftsmanship as a composer, lyricist and musician.

"It's really distinctive what he's doing. Originality is one thing, but there's also a question of discipline and craftsmanship and clarity of purpose," says Rupert Bottenberg of the Montreal Mirror.  Aaron Brophy, of Chart Magazine, describes the album as "unique, different and exciting.''  "It's essentially a violinist doing pop songs that have this surface layer of really twisted Dungeons & Dragons metaphors, with a storyline that you have to really listen to ... over and over to try and figure out. It's kind of like a musical Rubik's Cube."  (Among the album's eight tracks is "This Lamb Sells Condos," a cheeky swipe at local condominium kingpin Brad Lamb, which has been nominated for the Echo Songwriting Prize, sponsored by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada. The $5,000 prize will be awarded next month.)  James Keast, Exclaim! magazine's editor-in-chief, says the album rewards repeat listeners. "You can put it on and let it go, and it's pleasant and easy. ... But if you want to spend more time with it, there are layers and layers underneath it that make it that much more compelling on the 20th listen than it was the second listen, which is really rare in the realm of popular music," he says.  Adds Jill Wilson of the Winnipeg Free Press: "Today's music is so single-oriented and this album is so not that. It's so much a whole." And, contrary to Pallett's self-deprecating opinion, Wilson says the singer, whom she's seen live, has "a lovely voice. ... There's kind of a frailty about it that I like a lot."  His band name, Final Fantasy, refers to a hugely successful Japanese video game series. The album and its title track, "He Poos Clouds," is another witty, scatological reference to Dungeons & Dragons. Pallett, whose older brother designs video games, is an avid gamer.  Fellow musician and long-time friend Steve Kado carries the "game" analogy beyond lyrics to performance. "Owen does work all this stuff in advance on paper, sort of like a Sudoku problem. (His music) has got very interesting problem-solving in it. Even just watching the technical virtuosity of a Final Fantasy performance is quite striking."  Pallett has pledged most of his prize money to the Blocks Recording Club, an artist-owned co-operative he co-founded with Kado, after he pays a student loan for his partner Patrick Borjal, who is with him on tour.  Kado calls the gift "very typical of Owen. He does try very hard to do the right thing, and do what's right for his friends and the community he's part of."

Raised in Milton, Ont., Pallett has been playing the violin since he was 3, following in the footsteps of an older brother who plays the cello. His earliest musical influences were classical composers like Soviet-era Dmitri Shostakovich.  "People (in high school) must have thought I was kind of a freak because they were all into Def Leppard and INXS, and I was listening to (Hungarian composer) Béla Bartók," he says, on the phone from Vancouver, where he's three-quarters through an eight-month tour of Canada and Europe.  Pallett, who also plays piano and guitar, was somewhat of a prodigy: He composed the music for one of his brother's video games when he was 12, wrote an opera in high school while playing in numerous bands, and studied composition at U of T.  He recalls moving to a big city as an awkward transition, and says "I'm still lacking certain elements of tact. It's like `ohmigod, I've really got to figure out how to talk to people.'"  "He was playing a lot of Celtic music at the time, very involved in certain parts of the Toronto folk community, listening to too much Björk and Tori Amos," Kado says, adding conspiratorially: "He doesn't want that spread around."  Pallett played with a number of bands, including the Hidden Cameras, and formed a band of his own called Les Mouches, which later dissolved. At a fundraiser for musician Bobby Birdman in May 2004 at Sneaky Dee's, Pallett — just a week after starting to use a borrowed looping pedal — played his first Final Fantasy gig to unanimous acclaim. His first album, Has a Good Home, stirred up attention both locally and in places as far-flung as France and Germany.  Despite the recognition his album has received, Pallett is determined not to follow the conventional path to stardom.  For example, he won't be stepping forward any time soon as a gay icon, saying he finds the "politicizing" of his sexual orientation "boring."  And while his music has a "definite anti-establishment sort of vibe," he doesn't mix drugs and music. "I'm totally scared to see some of the cocaine use that goes on in Toronto these days. ... I try not to preach about it. I will drink all night with you, but I'm not really into the stupid drugs."

Finally, Pallett insists that he will stay independent of the big record labels, preferring the "DIY (do-it-yourself)" route. "I really like the feeling of having a kind of personal accountability for the art being produced."  He's vague about his next project, other than to say it might be "a fantasy epic romance."  He also confesses that the tour he began in April with Bob Wiseman (formerly of Blue Rodeo) and the Phonemes is getting a bit wearing. While "playing for people ... is really wonderful," he says, "I kind of just want to go home."  Undoubtedly his fans will welcome him back. But without a major-label recording contract, does Pallett risk sacrificing commercial success?  The critics chime in again.  "I'd argue his music is too obtuse, too complicated, too different to ever truly be a mass-consumption type of record," says Chart's Brophy.  "My suspicion is he's the kind of artist who could find a very broad audience around the world, but it'll be the sort of audience that will be a very limited, very devoted group of people," adds Mirror's Bottenberg.  The last word goes to James Keast of Exclaim!  "There is an accessibility to what (Pallett) does that really crosses a lot of genre boundaries in terms of his appeal.  "But if (success) doesn't happen, it's because Owen doesn't want it to happen. I really think that he's unwilling to put himself in the situation that getting that big would require," he says.  "That said, he's an artist I fully expect to be hearing in 20 years and I don't say that about many."

Gould Still Playing 'Live'

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

(Sep. 26, 2006) Legendary Canadian pianist
Glenn Gould received an unusual present for his 74th birthday.  About 250 friends, family and fans congregated yesterday at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre to witness him being brought back to life.  He died in 1982. Yet there he was at the concert hall named after him, playing the Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach at a gleaming-black Yamaha concert grand.  There was no hocus-pocus involved. This performance was the product of thousands of hours of work by a team of software experts, piano technicians and recording engineers.  Gould wasn't there in person, of course. But his finger strokes and foot movements were.  It was a happy yet unsettling experience to see and hear an exact replica of his 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations on the warm-sounding Yamaha.  This event had all the immediacy of a live concert, yet also marked a new way in which we can fetishize dead idols.  Was the recreation better than the original? Yes. Does it bode well for remastering the classics of yesteryear? Absolutely.  For this gift, we can thank Zenph Studios, a North Carolina firm devoted to improving on old piano recordings with the latest computer wizardry.  Right after yesterday's recital, engineers from Zenph, Sony Classical and the CBC began work on making a CD of these Goldberg performances, for release next year.  Zenph founders John Q. Walker and Peter J. Schwaller love music — and Glenn Gould — but their purpose is commercial, by making the old new again.  Their engineering team transferred Gould's analog 1955 master tape into digital format, accompanied by detailed instructions for the Yamaha Disklavier Pro, commercially available recording and playback hardware installed in the piano.  This particular system can replicate the subtlest variations in key touch and speed, as well as pedal movement.

"Never in history has anyone tried to match the exact sound of a recording in live playing," said Walker yesterday.  It's been a learning experience for everyone involved, including Yamaha.  "When we got our first set of hardware, I sent back 15 pages of notes to Yamaha with suggestions for improvements," said Walker. "They essentially put in everything. We are their most advanced user."  Why did Zenph choose Gould? Mainly because of the pianist's profile. Walker cited three reasons:  "One: It (the '55 Goldberg Variations) is probably the best-known single piano recording in existence, so many people have memorized the colour of every single note.  "Second, it is one of the last great mono recordings, so we don't have to do a before and after (from a scratchy old 78).  "Third ... we can invest the colour of the originals into every single note."  Walker said future subjects for resurrection will include such old piano masters as Alfred Cortot, Enrique Granados and Sergei Rachmaninov.  According to Walker, Sony Classical has agreed to produce an initial series of 18 albums with the Zenph team, starting with Gould.  The technology promises more possibilities, including other instruments, multimedia presentations and creating new kinds of music.  Since Zenph first unveiled its process to the public in 2005, several music critics have questioned the ethics of tampering with historical recordings. But it's unlikely that Gould would have minded. The eccentric pianist had a boundless curiosity about recording technology. He hated live concerts so much that he stopped giving them in 1964.  In his book, Conversations With Glenn Gould, Jonathan Cott quotes Gould on the subject of finding an "ideal" way of preserving a performance:  "It's an interesting point, and I suppose that if one fed it into a computer, probably that phrase — `the ideal means of reproduction' — or some variant of it would turn up very frequently in what I say and write."  Gould underlined his thinking in a 1966 television conversation with violinist Yehudi Menuhin. A clip of it is included in Glenn Gould Hereafter, a new DVD documentary by French filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon that is being released today.

"Perhaps the most important thing that technology does is free the listener to participate in ways that in all previous periods of listening were governed by the performer," said Gould.  The modern listener can turn the volume up or down, or rewind, or skip forward. You can't do that in a concert hall.  Zenph has further broken the performer's tyranny by cutting out the intrusive humming, singing and moaning that Gould added to every performance.  It may have been part of Gould's charm, but when listening on headphones his voice can be distracting.  The pianist was aware of the problem. As he told Cott in 1974: "If I could find an equalization system that would get rid of it ... I would cue it out in a second; to me it's not a valuable asset, it's just an inevitable thing that has always been with me."  Not any more.  That's a nice gift for everyone.

Unveiling A Virtual Variations

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Colin Eatock

(Sept. 25, 2006) Glenn Gould, the only Canadian classical musician ever to achieve cult status, would turn 74 today if he were alive. And the 24 years that have passed since his death have done nothing to dim his fame. His recordings continue to sell, documentaries have been made about him, and he's been the subject of many books and articles. There's a Glenn Gould Foundation, a Glenn Gould Award, and a concert hall in the CBC's Toronto headquarters called the Glenn Gould Studio. In fact, Gould has so much presence in the world today that the CBC still occasionally gets letters from people asking how to contact him. And today at noon, in that Glenn Gould Studio, contact will be made with the spirit of Gould -- in a manner of speaking. Although the eccentric pianist famously retired from the concert stage in 1964, Gould will be heard to play Bach's Goldberg Variations. It isn't a recording or a broadcast or a performance in the ordinary sense of these words.
John Q. Walker, the computer whiz and amateur pianist behind this event, calls it a "reperformance."

"There's a piano on stage, with no bench," he explained recently from his office in Raleigh, N.C. "The keys are going, and the pedals are moving up and down -- and some people may find that disconcerting. The audience will hear the entire Goldberg Variations, which takes about 38 minutes." The piano being used for this event is a Yamaha Disklavier Pro, an instrument that can record and play back keystrokes with extreme precision. The people at Yamaha cringe when it's called a "player-piano," but in a very sophisticated, high-tech kind of way, that's what it is. In today's event, it will be used to play Gould's version of Bach. So how does Gould's interpretation get into the instrument? Since 2002 Walker's research company, Zenph Studios, has been developing a computer program that can extract from a recording of piano music the data necessary to reproduce it in minute detail. "There are about 10 different musical attributes that we analyze," continues Walker, "including pitch, moment of impact, strike velocity, duration, how the note ends, and the angle of the key when it's depressed. We can do everything we want with the instrument through the computer." Gould first recorded The Goldberg Variations in 1955, and that recording will be faithfully reproduced by the Disklavier Pro. For two years, Walker has been using movements of Gould's Goldbergs to show off his technology around North America: He's been in Toronto twice already, giving demonstrations at the Japan Foundation and at the ideaCity conference last June. But today's event will be the first Gould "performance" of the complete Goldberg Variations in 25 years.

It's fitting that Walker is bringing his invention to Gould's hometown. "The many people in Toronto who heard him live will get to experience that again," he says. "At the Japan Foundation, some people who knew him, and heard him play, started crying." The live event was initiated by James Hayward, a retired Bell Canada manager. He met Walker last year in New York at a convention of the Audio Engineering Society, where he heard a demonstration of Zenph's technology. "I just about fell off my chair," Hayward recalls. "I couldn't believe the subtleties and the nuances I was hearing. So I started working, contacting the Canadian head of Yamaha, trying to sponsor John to come up to Toronto." Hayward also talked to the CBC. "I found the idea fascinating and perplexing," says Eitan Cornfield, who is producing the event for CBC Radio Two. Perplexing indeed. The concept of a dead pianist somehow giving a "live" performance opens up a Pandora's box of issues. Who owns copyright on a pianist's keystrokes? Is it appropriate, using this technology, to improve on a recorded performance? How are today's young pianists to compete in a world that can hear concerts by the greatest interpreters of the 20th century? And in a classical-music culture that already suffers from a chronic lack of newness, isn't this just fetishizing the past? In defence of his work, Walker rhetorically asks, "Is your argument that old things should have poorer sound quality?" As for today's performers, he feels that his efforts should encourage, rather than discourage, them. "If you're a young performer, you should go make novel interpretations," he says. "The more interesting your performance can be, the more value it has." And he says it's appropriate to use Gould, a technophile who was always interested in innovative developments, as his guinea pig.

Despite the unanswered legal, critical, commercial and even ethical questions, Walker's ideas have already struck a chord in the music business. Immediately after today's concert, Sony BMG Masterworks will record the new rendering of Gould's Goldberg Variations for a CD to be released next year. Following the Variations, Walker intends to recreate recordings by the composer-virtuoso Sergei Rachmaninoff and also the jazz legend Art Tatum. And while, at present, his computer program only works with piano music, he foresees the day when it might be more broadly applied. "Instruments that are plucked or struck are easier than things that are bowed or blown into," Walker explains. "The violin is going to be very hard." John Q. Walker's "reperformance" of Gould's 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations will be broadcast across Canada on CBC Radio Two tonight at 8 (8:30 in Newfoundland).

Vikter Duplaix Launches 'Bold And Beautiful'

Excerpt from

(September 27, 2006)  *Internationally acclaimed DJ/Producer/Vocalist
Vikter Duplaix is a man on a mission. With his sophomore release as a solo artist, Duplaix is introducing the world to a lifestyle he calls "Duplaix Mode." With the quality production on "bold & beautiful" (bbe/!K7) as it’s soundtrack – Duplaix Mode is a sensual mix of music, art & design, food, drink, and a sexy attitude. "bold & beautiful" is in-stores now. Vikter Duplaix, a Philadelphia native will launch his campaign for "bold & beautiful" in his recently adopted city of Los Angeles at the world famous Roxy [The Roxy Theatre. 9009 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood CA. Concert Hotline: 310-276-2222 ] with a special concert along with local favourites The Rebirth and the grooves of KCRW DJ, Garth Trinidad. Doors open for the mid-week concert at 9PM. Duplaix, known in R&B music circles as a founding member of Philadelphia based Axis Music Group – know for their work with Erykah Badu, Musiq, Vivian Green and Jill Scott to name a few – is also a noted DJ in international circles. Duplaix became regarded for mixing Classic and Contemporary Soul music with world and house beats to create an eclectic vibe. "bold & beautiful" his follow-up to the critically acclaimed "International Affairs," represents the evolution and refinement of that vibe – and has garnered early support for his Sade-like brand of Quiet Storm music. Having been compared to modern-day Barry White, Vikter Duplaix makes music for the grown & sexy.

Legendary Singer Freddie Jackson Has New Album

Source: Kristian Y. Buchanan, Publicist/Orpheus Records,

(September 27, 2006) New York, NY -- Orpheus Music recording artist
Freddie Jackson is back and returning with him is the essence of authentic, soulful R&B music. In stores now, Freddie Jackson's new CD entitled 'TRANSITIONS,' is Jackson's best work ever and is poised to be this year's biggest comeback album. The first single, 'Until the End of Time,' already crowned the romantic ballad of the year, held the #1 positioned on Billboard R & B Single Sales Chart for two weeks and was the #1 most added at Radio & Records during its first week of play, setting the stage for 'TRANSITIONS' to repeat the success of his double platinum debut album 'ROCK ME TONIGHT.'  Featuring soulful lyrics, in addition to stunning musical arrangements 'TRANSITIONS' also will include a bonus Collector's Edition DVD featuring 17 of Freddie Jackson's greatest music videos.   Executive produced by famed producer Beau Huggins and Charli Huggins, 'TRANSITIONS' has reunited Jackson with the core team responsible for his discovery, development, and triumph. The production team includes Paul Laurence, composer of Jackson's biggest hit 'Rock Me Tonight,' Marc Nelson, formerly with the group AZ Yet, super producer Yasha, and rising star Jamaica-born producer Jason Farmer.

The 12-song album and bonus Collector's Edition DVD offers a sensual escape that will transition any true R&B fan back to the era when music and lyrics stirred the soul. 'TRANSITIONS' spotlights the vocal range and stylistic nuances that differentiate Jackson from other artists in the present highly competitive R & B marketplace.  Fans of Jackson will appreciate his special tribute to the late Luther Vandross, an artist he greatly admired, with a heart-felt medley of 'Superstar' and 'Wind Beneath My Wings.'   Grammy-nominated, American Music Award winning vocalist Freddie Jackson has dominated R&B with eleven #1 singles on the Billboard charts. His contributions include such era-defining classics as 'Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times' Sake),' 'You Are My Lady,' 'Tasty Love,' 'Nice 'n' Slow' and 'Love Me Down,'   For additional information on Freddie Jackson visit

Walker Entertainment Group: Husband-Wife Music Execs Combine Talents

Excerpt from

(September 27, 2006)   *With designs on providing alternative choices for positive, quality entertainment for the 24-40 African American demographic,
Bruce Walker and his business partner-wife Brenda Jones Walker have stepped away from their roles as music executives with the likes of DreamWorks, Motown, MCA, Capitol, and Interscope/Death Row Records to form the Los Angeles based Walker Entertainment Group (WEG), a holding company for “B&B Entertainment” (a music and television production company) and “B# (Sharp) Records” (a record label housing R&B, Pop and Contemporary Gospel artists).  This new establishment aims to utilize the fan base of touring artists and create new opportunities for them to expand their reach. Add to this WEG’s exclusive 3-year licensing partnership with UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.), the largest African American owned Christian media firm; who will support the new venture by sharing a database of 70,000 Black churches, organizations and consumers and provide assistance with sales, marketing, promotion and distribution.

“We are trying to employ a new model of marketing records to the consumer; more of an entrepreneurial approach as opposed to an executive or traditional record approach,” says WEG-CEO Bruce Walker, who has executive produced more than 100 gold and platinum-selling albums. “These days the model has changed. The distribution model has changed; the approach has changed—the executive approach…the producing approach…Impressions is the key. So we’re going to joint venture with other people in other areas of entertainment to craft shows, craft productions, craft videos, films, plays, all the ways that we can…We’re going to provide impressions…from a theatrical, film, live concert, a coming to you in any form that we can possibly create and joint venture…and call this a true entertainment approach,” he adds. A consultant and executive producer of music variety and talk show programming, Walker currently produces the syndicated variety show, “Tru Game,” which he created for Western International Syndication and recently signed a deal with the Friars Club of Beverly Hills for the development and production of their upcoming shows. He will also secure sponsorships for the new directions the Friars Club will be taking on. In fact, via Walker, the Friars Club will honour EUR's Lee Bailey this Friday night. As a consultant, he has worked with BET on a variety of one-hour specials including the BET Awards Show Red Carpet, the Prince of Egypt Gospel Special; the BET launch of its nationwide television tour featuring behind-the-scenes coverage, the BET on Jazz specials and the NBA All-Star Game Special Brenda Jones Walker, the other half of B & B Entertainment, is a Marketing Executive in music and television who currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer at Hidden Beach Records. The USC graduate began her career working with cutting edge shows such as Arsenio Hall. As a Marketing VP, she has implemented strategies for BeBe and CeCe Winans, Lou Rawls, Quincy Jones, Tupac, Dave Koz, Patti LaBelle and Snoop Dogg, just to name a few. She also served as a consultant for BET; implementing the nationwide media campaign that resulted in the networks’ first-ever television tour.

For Jones-Walker, WEG provides a means to take a stand against the negativity that permeates what is seen and heard on television and in music today.  “We’ve done a lot of things in our career as executives, but the positive music we grew up listening to is just not there anymore; positive R&B, positive pop, positive music period. It’s all degrading to our kids and our community…This was a challenge for us to say ‘we have to …initiate this new march in the industry…we want positive music back in the community,” she offers. “We’re taking R&B artists that…always had roots in gospel music through their love for the Lord and growing up in the church…[They] may not have had a chance to do an inspirational record up until this point,” confirms Bruce Walker, whose entertainment roster currently includes singers Desiree Coleman (“Mama I Want To Sing”), Jesse Campbell (“Where Is The Love” from the film Prince of Egypt), BLACKStreet’s Mark Middleton and producer/keyboardist Marvin “Chanz” Parkman. “We’re taking them and we’re doing pretty much R&B music, tracks, and positive lyrics, inspirational lyrics, over it… Instead of doing just straight concert tours, we’re going to do plays that are musicals. And we’re going to go into the secondary markets; which is the southeast and southwest primarily…the old Chitlin’ Circuit. And in these markets we’re going to look at 300-500 seat venues...get with a playwright and actually craft and write a play …Hip Hop is the primary music, but there’s not a lot of promoters who can  afford to do Hip Hop concerts because of the liability insurance…We’re actively pursuing  a deal with producers in films. We’re going to feature our artists in the film; feature our music in the film and do straight to DVD releases.  So that’s another way that we’re going to penetrate the marketplace.” UMI, a 35-year-old Chicago-based firm that holds an impressive $15 million in assets; are publishers and distributors of Sunday school and Bible Study curricula including books, DVDs, videos and music programs developed by Christian educators. Under the guidance of UMI president Carl Jeffrey Wright, WEG will even get the opportunity to delve into animation. “Churches sell their Sunday School books and curriculum online. Now they are expanding into music and DVDs and we’re going to be providing that for them…Working with one of the top animators in the business, we’re combining music with comic books and music with…audio versions of the bible that will be part of the curriculum. Bill Duke is actually doing the narration for that. We will be providing the sale of mainstream contemporary gospel music and positive R&B music through the system as well as DVD products for them to license and actually sell to their distribution base… We look at each project as a brand. We look at each artist as a brand. So what we’re doing is building a brand over multiple platforms,” says Walker.

Sloan Happy To Keep On Ticking

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Brad Wheeler

(Sept. 23, 2006) Staying power, yes. Power pop, no. When critics discuss the long-running Canadian band
Sloan, the term "power pop" is invariably employed. Singer-bassist Chris Murphy adjusts his spectacles and casts a glance to fellow frontman Patrick Pentland. "Do we take that as an insult?" Pentland, seated across a table, isn't sure. "For years I didn't really know what it meant," he replies. "I thought it was Michael Bolton -- powerful vocals and pop grooves. It really doesn't make any sense to me." Murphy, an amiable, funny guy, has more of an idea. "Power pop to me means a band that never made it," he figures. "It's a disguised way of saying Beatles-derived music that's doomed to fail." It's a funny quip, but somewhere the members of Badfinger and Matthew Sweet don't get the joke.  To answer Murphy's question, no, "power pop" is not a slur. That being said, the term, which typically applies to music that is catchy and lean, with strong melodies and snappish vocal harmonies, doesn't quite get to the whole of Sloan, a Halifax-bred quartet which adds healthy doses of psychedelic and grunge music to its package.  And no, Sloan is not a failure. Today the band plays to its largest crowd ever when about 60,000 fans flock to the Halifax Commons, an urban park setting that receives the headlining Rolling Stones.  The members of Sloan, all in their mid-to-late thirties, have resided in Toronto for quite some time now. We sit in a second-floor room of the Lula Lounge, a Toronto club where the band is later to play a semi-private show to celebrate the release of their seventh studio album, Never Hear the End of It. (At 30 songs, it's quite possible that listeners never will hear the end of it). While the sound crew noisily gets things together downstairs, and the band's other components (drummer Andrew Scott and singer-guitarist Jay Ferguson) wait for the sound check to happen, Murphy and Pentland discuss the state of the group whose membership is the same as it was in 1991, the year Sloan formed. They were young, hustling and unknown at the start, but everything changed when grunge-rock pioneers Nirvana broke huge in the early nineties. The band's Nevermind album was a ground-breaking record that had fans and record labels looking for similar sounds -- a search so exhaustive that even the Halifax scene wasn't overlooked. "Nirvana changed everything," Murphy explains. "It changed our lives because we were that age and we had a record that was ready to go when people came looking for stuff like that."

Stuff like that was 1993's Smeared, an album of hooky, fuzzy rock that included the hit single Underwhelmed -- a catchy swirl of guitars and feedback recently deemed by the music writers of The Globe and Mail as one of the top 25 Canadian pop songs of all time.  After a successful debut, Sloan signed with the U.S.-based Geffen Records. The band released Twice Removed in 1994, but the label didn't get behind it so much -- the band struggled for success in America. They left Geffen and released perhaps their finest records (One Chord to Another and Navy Blues), but failed to break big outside of Canada.  Fifteen years into their careers now, Sloan's members have enough of a fan base in the United States to make touring there profitable, but they are not a household name there by any means. "I don't know if we care a whole lot," Pentland says. "We're always growing a little bit, but I think the idea of having a smash hit record, or becoming the next big thing isn't something we make records worrying about." Murphy agrees. "It would be great, but you can't live to do that, or else you're a failure if you don't." Not that they're not trying, mind you. Today's guest slot with the Stones isn't the first time they've played on the same bill as the London rubber-skinned legends. For reasons which even the band is unsure of, Sloan opened for the Stones twice in January at Boston's hockey and basketball arena. (One Beantown reviewer noted that the band "doesn't even have a U.S. record deal," while another deemed them a "serviceable" opening act). As for their impressions of the Stones then, Pentland noticed they seemed younger than he would have thought. "Keith Richards didn't seem like a decrepit old man, necessarily." Murphy, who was first in line for the Stones' secret gig at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern in 1997, saw the various Stones as diminutive. "They're small," he says. "They play ukuleles so they don't look like they're dwarves." Murphy jokes -- the performances by the Stones were "fantastic," and he's a keen fan of the group that has maintained a career so productively lengthy. "They were 15 years in when they made Some Girls, which is still a pretty good record," he says. "And that means Tattoo You is coming up, which was huge." What Murphy alludes to is the idea that Sloan is at the same stage now as the Stones were when they created some of their best work. So, check out the guys of Sloan at tonight's concert -- they're the ones singing along to the Stones' mid-career hit, Start Me Up.

Jamaican Born Actress Cherine Anderson To Release Debut Album

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(September 21, 2006) *Actress-turned singer
Cherine Anderson is quite busy these days.  She has been glowing in the success of her recent single Good Love which was produced by the duo of Sly and Robbie. The song peaked at number two on the South Florida Reggae chart. According to Cherine, the song has been opening up a lot of doors for her.  ‘The song has been taking me places. I did international night at Sumfest, I also did Reggae on the River in California, and now I am gearing up for Sting in Miami’, Anderson related in a telephone interview from Florida on the weekend.   She added ‘I see the success of Good Love as a building process for me.  I am not surprised about the public’s reception of the song because before we released it, we had invited some industry personnel to listen to it, and the feedback was good. The song is doing well in some parts of Europe right now’. Following up on Good Love, Anderson has teamed up with Chuck Fenda for the radio hit Coming over Tonight. Produced by Christopher Birch and included on the Ghetto Blues rhythm juggling, Coming over Tonight is already making moves on the charts. ‘When I heard the song Coming over Tonight, I liked it right away. Chuck Fenda is really a cool person and he is down to earth. I liked working with him’, said Anderson.  A video for the song is to be shot this week in Kingston with music video director Kimala ‘La La’ Bennett behind the controls. Anderson, a former member of the Ashe ensemble, gained attention when she starred in the 1997 movie Dancehall Queen opposite Audrey Reid and Paul Campbell. Anderson was 14 years old at the time when she beat out more than 100 other young girls for the role.  She later starred opposite Kymani Marley in One Love. She was also featured on the film’s soundtrack album.

With an album almost complete, Anderson hasn’t put her acting days behind her. ‘I have been getting scripts but some don’t appeal to me. None have the appeal to stretch me as an actress’, said Anderson.  Her debut album is expected in the first quarter of 2007. The album according to Anderson will contain some interesting collaborations. ‘We are hoping to have about 12-16 songs on the album. It’s going to be very hybrid and it will showcase all the things that I wanted to do. It will be mixed with patois and English, and the topics will vary from politics to love, growing up in Nannyville and life today in Jamaica’, Anderson explained. After graduating from Wolmers Girls High, Anderson enrolled in the sixth form at Queens High. She then went to Middlebury College in Vermont, USA and then Keio University in Tokyo, Japan where she studied Japanese language and Literature.  She also did a stint as an intern at Music Television (MTV) in the US. Anderson lists R&B singer Lauryn Hill, and Chevelle Franklin among her musical influences.  She pointed out that fame isn’t something that she is concerned about. She is more focused at making a positive impact on the lives of others. ‘Its not about Cherine Anderson the actress or the singer.  I am comfortable about making a positive impact on others. I recently went back to my alma mata at Excelsior Primary and spoke to some of the students there and the response was overwhelming. It feels good knowing that I can make a positive impact on the lives of others’, she said.

Lionel Richie’s Coming Home Album Debuts At #6

Source: Tynicka Battle, ThinkTank Marketing,,

(September 22, 2006) New York , NY --
Lionel Richie, legendary singer, songwriter, producer and five-time Grammy award-winning Island recording artist charts another historic achievement today, as his brand new album COMING HOME sells over 75,000 copies in its first week out, to debut at #6 - the first top 10 album debut of his 24-year solo career.    The news comes just three weeks before the opening of his 4-week, 17-city headlining North American tour sponsored by United Way - which kicks off October 27th at the Music Hall in Detroit, and wrap up at the Paramount in Oakland, CA on November 25th.  (Please see tour dates below.)   COMING HOME features the #1 Billboard Adult R&B hit "I Call It Love" (written and produced by Stargate) - his first #1 hit at the Adult R&B format.  The song is entering its third month at six different radio formats - Adult R&B, Adult Contemporary, Pop, Rhythmic Top 40, Urban Mainstream, and Smooth Jazz.    The video for "I Call It Love," shot in Los Angeles by director Jessey Terrero and star­ring Nicole Richie, premiered on in August, where it was played nearly 100,000 times in 24 hours. The video is playing on VH1 and BET.    "Lionel Richie Gets His Groove Back," raved the New York Times Arts Section cover story last week, characterizing COMING HOME as "vintage Richie."  The new album, his long-awaited third album on Island Records, featuring nine songs written/co-written by Richie, is an all-star collaboration with today's most prolific contemporary hitmakers, including Jermaine Dupri, Raphael Saadiq, Dallas Austin, Sean Garrett, Chuckii Booker, and others.   GET A "LIONEL IS MY FRIEND" T-SHIRT
 Get a FREE "Lionel Is My Friend" T-Shirt. Just add "I Call It Love" to your homepage & add him to your top 8 friends. 25 Grand Prize winners get the autographed album booklet. See more details and enter HERE.

Check out Lionel's Space at:


Pre-Order your tickets now to benefit United Way: 

Fri 10/27: Music Hall - Detroit, MI
Sun 10/29: Sears Centre - Hoffman Estates, IL
Mon 10/30: Roy Thomson Hall - Toronto
Fri 11/3: Constitution Hall - Washington, DC
Sat 11/4: Borgata Events Center - Atlantic City, NJ
Sun 11/5: Symphony Hall - Baltimore, MD
Tue 11/7: NJ Performing Arts Center - Newark, NJ
Wed 11/8: Beacon Theater - New York, NY
Fri 11/10: Mohegan Sun Casino - Uncasville, CT
Sat 11/11: Opera House - Boston, MA
Sun 11/12: Tower - Philadelphia, PA
Wed 11/15: Fox Theater - Atlanta, GA
Fri 11/17: Cypress Bayou Casino - Charenton, LA
Sat 11/18: Cypress Bayou Casino - Charenton, LA
Sun 11/19: The Sinatra Theatre at Bank Atlantic Center - Sunrise, FL
Fri 11/24: Kodak Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
Sat 11/25: Paramount Theater - Oakland, CA

ENTER HERE for a chance to Meet & Greet Lionel Richie at an upcoming PRIVATE event: 

VIDEO: I Call It Love (stars Nicole Richie)

Beyonce, Janet, Justin And Fergie Battle For Sexy

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry

(Sep. 24, 2006) With the release of Janet Jackson's new album on Tuesday, the battle between four of the pop industry's sexiest artists officially kicks off. Facing off are one solo debut, two sophomore outings and a 20-year vet.

Artist: Beyoncé
Record: B'Day
Angle: Empowerment. Think Janet Jackson circa 1986's Control. Released near her 25th birthday, Beyoncé, who recorded the disc without the knowledge of manager-father Mathew Knowles, is sporting a leaner physique and touring with an all-girl band.

Music: Though daddy apparently tried to delay its release, the album debuted at No. 1. Fans were taken aback by second single "Ring the Alarm" which, reminiscent of Kelis's "Caught Out There" ("I hate you so much right now!"), finds the typically genteel Southerner wailing like a banshee. The record's strength is bumping club beats and the requisite verses from rapper boyfriend Jay-Z. Lyrically, she tends to contradict her liberated stance ("When you in them big meetings for the mills/Take me just to compliment the deal").
Verdict: With eye-catching videos and a good turn in the December-scheduled Dream Girls film, B's high profile will give this average record a long shelf life.

Artist: Justin Timberlake
Record: FutureSex/LoveSounds
Angle: Bringing the sexy back. Timberlake's current posture is skinny tie-wearing fashionista/wet T-shirt, boy-next-door. Recent interviews depict the 25-year-old cruising around in a Porsche and smoking weed while staying faithful to older actor girlfriend Cameron Diaz.
Music: Rappers T.I. and Three Six mafia lend a hand on a compelling record fuelled by dance pop beats and soulful ballads. Timberlake's falsetto conjures Michel Jackson, whom he name checks on "Chop Me Up."
Verdict: Minimum five Grammy nods to follow his anointing on the current cover of Rolling Stone.

Artist: Fergie
Record: The Dutchess
Angle: Cleaned-up child star. Formerly of the Disney show Kids Incorporated, teen girl group Wild Orchid, crystal meth addiction and a fling with Justin Timberlake, 31-year-old Stacy Ferguson is aiming for the mod pop mantle vacated by Gwen Stefani's maternity leave. Her pouty lipped gyrations with the Black Eyed Peas on songs like "My Humps" is blamed for watering down the quartet's social consciousness cred while giving them mainstream sex appeal.
Music: Surprisingly fun and eclectic. Yes, there's plenty of cheese here — "I'm Fergalicious/ Tasty, tasty/It's so delicious," but also engaging old school R&B and reggae inflected tunes, with guests like Ludacris, Rita Marley and John Legend.
Verdict: If word-of-mouth gets sceptics past her lowest common denominator singles pushed by the record company, Fergie can give established artists a run.

Artist: Janet Jackson
Record: 20 Y.O.
Angle: 40 is the new 20. Non-believer? See Jackson in various stages of undress on the covers of Ebony, Vibe and FHM adorned with a navel ring comprised of hip-hop producer boyfriend Jermaine Dupri's initials. Read her cooing about mind-blowing sex with same.
Music: Dupri joined Jackson's long-time producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to turn her whisper-thin vocals into bouncing remix-worthy dance tracks and pleasant ballads. If only they'd left out the annoying interludes.
Verdict: Jackson can't maintain a hold over Timberlake and Beyoncé on the charts, but her tour will be a hot seller.

Smokie Norful's New Album Reflects His Revitalized Outlook On Life

Excerpt from

(September 20, 2006)  Grammy Award-Winning Artist
Smokie Norful will release his third full-length CD, Life Changing, on October 3, 2006. Considered the "Voice of Inspiration," Smokie Norful once again lives up to his name by delivering work that is expressive, heartfelt, and passionate.  The new project is a regeneration of the EMI Gospel artist, and was inspired by a series of life-changing events that have taken place in Norful's life over the past few years: fatherhood, pastoring a rapidly growing church, and experiencing musical success.  "Since reconnecting with ministry and the true nature of my call (preaching), I have literally seen life change in a wonderful way!" states Norful, while discussing the genesis of the project. "For me, this project is truly a rejuvenation of Smokie Norful. It is part of a series of events that have been life changing for me. I hope that listeners will be inspired to be better to do better to worship better as a result of these songs." Life Changing will not only delight current Norful fans, but will create a legion of new ones, as it is infused with Norful's renewed passion for songwriting-containing musical selections ranging from praise and worship to traditional to urban pop. Norful has teamed up with new business partner and co-writer, Jason Tyson to form the new company, "One Wordd Productions," which will focus on songwriting and production. Tyson also co-wrote more than half of the Life Changing project. Once again, Norful collaborates with producers Tommy Simms, Percy Bady, and Cedric and Victor Caldwell, all of whom worked on his 2004 Grammy Award-winning sophomore CD, Nothing Without You. Bady wrote Um Good (pronounced Mmm.Good), the quirky-titled but compelling first single from the forthcoming 10-track release. Additional songs featured on the project include the piano-driven ballad Run Til I Finish written by Norful; the traditional I've Decided to Make Jesus My Choice; and the Caribbean-influenced Great and Mighty (produced by Bady). Life Changing also includes the Tommy Simms-produced Where Would I Be, a contemporary, mid-tempo ballad; and the upbeat, praise and party song, Celebrate, another song penned by Norful. The diverse singer/songwriter also includes a rendition of the Whitney Houston hit, Run To You (from The Bodyguard film soundtrack)-changing the lyrics to focus the attention on his ability to run to God for restoration and strength to face whatever challenges life sends. Norful, who is now a pastor, said in an interview recently that artists should never allow entertaining to overshadow ministry. He and his wife have been committed to serving in their church (she heads the youth department), a major part of his life-changing experience. The pastor emphasized the importance of being a servant.

To promote the new CD, as well as share his ministry with a broad audience, Norful will launch the "Worship & A Word" promotional tour this fall. The idea for "Worship & A Word" was created by Norful to integrate his music and preaching ministries, and will be held at various churches across the country. The promotional appearances will consist of a message from Pastor Norful, as well as a musical performance featuring selections from Life Changing. Target markets include New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Dallas, Nashville and Washington, DC, and several others. The acclaimed, multi-talented artist has been successful since entering the gospel music scene four years ago. Since the release of his Gold-certified debut CD (and smash single of the same name), I Need You Now(June 2002), Norful has never left the Gospel charts. His follow-up sophomore CD, Nothing Without You, debuted at #1 when released, and has remained on the sales charts since its release in 2004. It is now approaching Gold status. Norful has earned numerous awards, including a 2004 Grammy Award for "Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album;" three of gospel music's Stellar Awards; two of Christian music's Dove Awards; three Gospel Music Excellence Awards; and many others. He was named "Gospel Artist Of The Year" for 2003 and 2004 by the industry's top trade publication, Billboard magazine. Norful ended last year as the fifth best-selling artist of 2005 (following only behind the likes of Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams and Donnie McClurkin-all of whom released CDs the same year). In addition to touring in music venues and churches throughout the country, Norful has made numerous personal performances. Most notable was his performance for President and First Lady Laura Bush at the White House last year. He has also journeyed internationally, traveling on a five-stop South African tour, in support of the "Save Africa's Children" campaign. The well-spoken music artist has also made several national television performances, including the BET Awards, Soul Train, the CBS Morning Show and others. He has also been featured in a host of print publications.  Norful-a husband, father and music artist-is now pastor of Victory Cathedral Worship Center-one of the fastest growing churches in the western suburban community of Bolingbrook/Romeoville, Illinois (outside Chicago). The ordained minister started the church in Fall 2005 and has seen a continuous increase in worshipers every week-now amassing a membership of close to 1,200.and still growing. No man ever became great by imitation. Life Changing proves Smokie Norful is forging his own path in today's ever-changing gospel music world and living up to his God-given call to inspire others to achieve greatness.

7 Questions - Tony Bennett: 'No Tricks, No Gimmicks'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Brad Wheeler

(Sept. 22. 2006) Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, Aug. 3, 1926, in Queens, N.Y. Father was a grocer; mother a seamstress. After beginning his career as a singing waiter (for $15 a weekend), was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944 during the Second World War, where he served as an infantryman in France and Germany. Of the experience, he would later write, 'Anybody who thinks that war is romantic obviously hasn't gone through one.' Since signing with Columbia Records in 1950, has sold more than 50 million records worldwide and earned 12 Grammy Awards. Famous for versions of I Left My Heart in San Francisco and Fly Me to the Moon.

'Just a couple more shots . . . there we go . . . can you move a little to your right? . . . a little more?" As a photographer persists,
Tony Bennett tightens his jaw, but keeps posed and composed. His manner is gentle and unassuming, yet, at the age of 80, there's a vitality to him -- not a hint of Rat Pack swagger, but, yeah, he knows he looks pretty good in that brown suit. So, ladies and gentleman -- be-bop-a-doobie-ooh-wah -- the King of Cool, in the house. (Hotel room, whatever). This is the year of Bennett, who, just before his arrival in Toronto, had attended a swank birthday party in his honour, with Robert De Niro, Katie Couric and John Travolta doing the toasting. Also on hand were Elvis Costello and Diana Krall, two of the all-stars involved in the new Tony Bennett: Duets/An American Classic, a celebratory collection of romantic tunes long associated with the crooner. Occupying his time as well was a mentor's role in an episode of Canadian Idol, a nationally televised talent contest in which Bennett coached contestants.  Idol, then? Cool? American classic? Yep -- we're talkin' Tony Bennett's language.

Not that you haven't accomplished enough, but it's curious that you've never done much in the way of acting. Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra did movies -- why not you?

They were 10 years older than I was and they were my masters, but I didn't have a passion for that. I have a passion to sing and paint, and I'm very content to study those two things. I'm gonna name-drop now, but the handsomest man in the world, Cary Grant, once told me not to do movies, that they're boring -- you're walking over cables, you don't know how the picture is going to turn out. He said, 'Just work live . . . the audiences are alive, they're cheering you on, you're famous.' I took his advice and it worked out for the better.

What about performing live versus studio recording?

They're two different mediums, two different concepts. The studio is very intimate, with the microphone. It's the art of intimate singing, which was invented by Bing Crosby. He taught all singers how to make a living.

On most duet projects these days, singers don't actually record together. But on your new album, you stipulated that the singing was done face to face.

I work live. I'm always searching for spontaneity, so that it's fresh and it's honest. There's no tricks, no gimmicks. Everybody had fun with it. I was amazed how respectful all of these young artists were with me. It bowled me over.

Is there a danger with that level of respect? On The Good Life, it sounds like Billy Joel is trying to sing like you, instead of with you.

Yeah -- he's clever. It ended up being very humorous because he said to me, 'I don't know how to do this,' and I said, 'Make sure you sound like yourself.' Then he said, 'Well, I don't know myself.' I told him, 'I'm not a psychiatrist. You'll have to figure that out yourself.' [Laughs]. But he's wonderful, and he knows a lot about music.

Do younger singers know less about music than those of your generation?

You can't categorize. It would be nice to do that, but it's not that simple. I love jazz artists -- in your country, there's Oscar Peterson; in our country, there were people like Stan Getz and Art Tatum. They were always my favourites.

So you learned how to sing from non-singers?

Exactly. Stan Getz had this honey sound, a nice wide sound, and warm. So I imitated the sound that I heard from his saxophone. And Art Tatum -- everybody, for dancing purposes, would play a long line so you could dance to it. And he was the first pianist to break the tempos, and to make a production out of the songs -- to dramatize them. I met with a lot of criticism from the musicians at the time. But it ended up telling a story, rather than just singing a song.

Last year, Paul Anka had some success with his album of rock songs. Did you hear it?

No. I don't sing rock. I like Fred Astaire's quote. 'If it doesn't swing, I'm outta here.'

Kurtis Blow Signs With EMI To Record Gospel Album

Excerpt from - By Kenya Yarbrough

(September 25, 2006) Holy Hip Hop Music and
Pastor Kurtis Blow announced today that they have entered into a multi-year, multi-album Strategic Alliance.  The terms of the Agreement provide generally that: Holy Hip Hop Music and Pastor Kurtis Blow will  collaborate, as a part of its exclusive Agreement distribution with EMI Gospel, to produce, distribute and market Music Ministry Recordings with the first retail CD Release slated for Spring 2007. "Pastor Kurtis Blow is a man of Faith, Valor and Vision: Faith in that Pastor Kurtis Blow trusts in God with all his heart; Valor in that Pastor Kurtis Blow fears no man or circumstance; and Vision in that Pastor Kurtis Blow is always on the forefront as a pioneer and person who not only can see clearly what is to come, but has no trepidation in acting on vision to fulfill destiny and to accelerate movement.  These qualities are why Holy Hip Hop Music and EMI Gospel are proud to be in close covenant and partnership with Pastor Kurtis Blow fulfilling the mission to advance Hip Hop Ministry, advancing the Gospel, worldwide without delay," said Panchetta Harris, Holy Hip Hop Music - General Manager.

About Kurtis Blow:

Kurtis Blow, one of the founders and creators of recorded rap, stands as an emerging leader in a new generation of rappers with street sense, social criticism, and commercial savvy, a timeless artist and hip hop legend, Kurtis Blow has been instrumental in raising up a generation of MCs, and he will soon carry the torch for hip hop music into new arenas. In 1979, at the age of twenty, Kurtis Blow became the first Rapper to be signed by a major label. Mercury released Christmas Rappin, and it sold over 400,000 copies and it became an annual classic. Its gold follow-up The Breaks helped ignite a still spreading international Rap Attack. He released 10 Albums over 11 years -- The first entitled Kurtis Blow, his full length debut and his second, a Top 50 Pop Album Deuce, a big hit across Europe; Party Time which featured a pioneering fusion of Rap and GoGo; Ego Trip, which includes the hits 8 Million Stories, AJ, and Basketball and in 1985, America.   Kurtis Blow is now working for Sirius Satellite Radio on the Classic Old School Hip Hop station Backspin 43.  As a pioneer in rap he is credited with numerous firsts including First rapper to sign to a Major label; First certified gold record for rap (The Breaks); First rapper to tour US & Europe (w/ The Commodores, 1980); First rapper to record a national commercial (Sprite) First rapper to use the drum machine, sample & sample loop First rap music video (Basketball); First rap producer (Rap's producer of the year in 1983-85) First rapper featured in a soap opera (One Life to Live) First rap millionaire Kurtis Blow helped legitimize Hip Hop, and now, he intends to help redeem it.

Having made a deep commitment to the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ, Kurtis has begun attending ministry classes at NYACK College Class of 2009. As Co-founder of the Hip Hop Church, Kurtis serves as rapper, DJ and worship leader. "Don't get it twisted, God has always existed," says Kurtis, and in terms of these young people out here who love God but do not like to go to church, only Hip Hop can bring them back to the church. For More information on Kurtis Blow Ministries go to

Love Is Ready For A Crunkchata Revolution

Excerpt from - Katy Kroll

(September 22, 2006) Move over Lil Jon, there's a new king in town --
Toby Love, the king of crunkchata.  Never heard of crunkchata before? That's because Love is looking to start a new Latin music revolution by combining traditional bachata and hip-hop. And it looks like it's already catching on.  Last week, Love's self-titled debut entered the Top Latin Albums chart at No. 35 and the Top Heatseekers chart at No. 46. Lead single, "Tengo Un Amor," which features Rakim & Ken-Y, is currently No. 3 on the Hot Latin Songs chart.  Love got his start as a backup singer and dancer for Latin tropical group Aventura and decided to embark on a solo career because "every soldier wants to be a general."  "I always had this idea to urbanize bachata, to make it more street, more hip-hop," Love tells "I've been a soldier for six years -- I was with Aventura for six years -- and I'm grateful for everything they've done for me and I love 'em to death.

But I just wanted to come up with my own thing, define myself as a solo artist, and bring out a new style for bachata."  That new style is a unique mix of traditional bachata, R&B, hip-hop and reggaeton.  "When people hear the CD, 50 percent is traditional bachata and 50 percent is hip-hop [and] reggaeton bachata, the whole fusion I'm trying to do," he says. "I definitely want to do [mainly] R&B in the future, but first I had to do this whole thing because I feel that I can bring something new to bachata and make it more popular."  For inspiration on how to step into the spotlight, Love looks up to R&B artist Frankie J. In fact, Frankie J was supposed to appear on Love's album, but there were scheduling conflicts.  "He's a big inspiration to me," says Love. "He's Latin doin' R&B -- something that I want to do in the future -- and he's definitely different. We can relate. We were both in groups and then we both decided to do our solo thing. We're supposed to do something for his [next] album and I think that we'll definitely collaborate on something crazy together."  Although Frankie J isn't on the album, Love did get the chance to work with several other artists, including reggaeton duo Rakim & Ken-Y, rapper Voltio and Aventura member Max Agende P.I.C.


Godfather Of British Soul, Omar, Announces U.S. Dates

Source: Juanita Stephens, JS Media Relations, Inc.,

(September 25, 2006)   After a five year recording hiatus and performing around the world, The Godfather of British Soul,
OMAR, is back with a new album, SING [IF YOU WANT IT] which will be released in the U.S. on October 10th.   Ether Records and Omar's management have announced that Omar will launch a promotional tour to key markets in North America, kicking off with two shows at The Temple Bar in Los Angeles (October 13) before traveling to Sugar Hill in Atlanta GA (October 20), Bohemian Caverns in Washington DC (October 21) and New York City (October 24), then heading to The Mod Club Theatre in Toronto, Canada (October 26) and continuing on with an international tour which kicks off back home in the England at The Jazz Café.   With a world-wide fan base that spans across the globe the British born-Jamaican soul singer/songwriter/classically trained musician and producer has earned his place among the upper echelon of artists who shaped the British soul scene and influenced the neo-soul movement here in the states.  Omar has released a catalogue of critically acclaimed albums: Best By Far (2000), This Is Not A Love Song (1997), For Pleasure (1994), Music (1992) and his debut, There's Nothing Like This (1990) and has amassed a loyal fan base across the globe.  This is the first time in America that loyal fans who can often be found scouring the imports shelves for his soul essentials will be discover the release on domestic shelves on October 10th.

No stranger to the U.S. music scene, Omar has collaborated with the late O.D.B. and was featured on Common's Electric Circus album.  Both Erykah Badu and Angie Stone have recorded versions of his underground classic, "Little Boy." But it's the rare collaboration of Sing's "Feeling You" featuring Stevie Wonder that has U.S. media asking the same question, 'So how do you get a legend like Stevie Wonder on your album?' Turns out that Stevie Wonder has been a huge fan of Omar's since his international hit album, There's Nothing Like This (1990). "Stevie promised me over a decade ago that he was gonna write me a tune and it's been a waiting game. One day I get this phone call and the voice is says, 'Yo man, it's your boy in town' and I'm like 'Who's this?' He says, 'Stevie' and I'm like Stevie who? He says Stevie Wonder. I said 'Oh yeah.  Thinking it was a joke, I said sing something for me and he did."  Omar ended up hanging with Stevie in London for a week.  Stevie wrote Omar a commercial hit and Omar liked it, but his musician's ear was searching for old-school/classic Stevie complete with the live instruments.  He invited him to a jam session at a friend's studio and the next day Stevie called with another tune, "Feeling You," which he co-wrote with Omar and then produced and featured on.  "To work with someone like Stevie is a rare experience and a dream come true for any musician," says Omar.  "I'm honoured that he, Angie Stone, Common, Estelle, JC, Rodney P, Canitbe, and Ashman were all a part of bringing this whole experience to life, now we're bringing music alive onstage.   "I've toured America four times in the last four years and every time I come to America, my shows are always sold out! It's a good feeling to know that my music is appreciated here in the states. There's just nothing like this!" For more info: Jackie O. Asare,

Janet Celebrates 20!

Excerpt from - By J.C. Brooks

That’s right I’m Janet Jackson and nothing goes until I say go!” -- The first words we heard when Janet stepped on the scene in 1976.  And in all of her years in the biz, she’s now taking action and aggressively moving forward like that 10-year old from decades ago. 

(September 26, 2006) ) After waiting for two years, fans of
Ms. Jackson can finally check out the pop diva’s ninth release “20 Y.O.”  We all know that Janet isn’t “20 Years Old,” but her stunning career in the music industry is.  Though, if we get technical, her music career began with her Papa Joe at the helm with two albums in 1983 and 1985 that met with little to no acclaim. But once she took Control in 1986 and fired her father as she admitted during her Oprah Winfrey interview with a “shift in management,” things really started to look up and her superstar status on the music billboards began. The world was introduced to a chubby face girl with a golden smile on the Jackson’s 1976 variety show where Janet would transform with a rather convincing rendition of the sultry 1930s movie icon Mae West.  One could say that she was practicing to be a sex kitten as far back as those days, but certainly as a child she was just pouring on the charm to a nation of viewers who, once introduced, couldn’t get enough of her.   Prior to her meeting and collaborating with super producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, she joined forces with the super producer of the 70s network shows, Norman Lear.  Lear asked Janet if she would join the cast of Good Times in 1977.  The rest is history.  Janet’s unforgettable portrayal of ‘Penny’ Gordon, a little girl who endured extreme physical abuse by her mother, would become Willona’s adopted daughter and the nation’s sweetheart.   After Good Times, she would continue to play roles of innocent, soft spoken, downright cherub-like young women.  And maybe, just maybe, some disgruntled fans out there that are having trouble with Janet’s “sexy” are recalling her past fictional characters.  But she has been trying to snap her TV fans, who have become her music fans, out of their trance and focus them on what is real.  She tells us that people have been overlooking it.

“It’s who I’ve always been, but they never paid attention to it I guess until now.  Maybe it’s because of what’s happened in recent years.  It started with ‘Funny How Time Flies,” explained Janet.  “If they ever listened to that song, they’ll realize that was the first time I’ve been looking into the world of who I really am with that entire album.  Even there.  And then from there on, I think on the Rhythm Nation album there was ‘Some Day Is Tonight’ but people never paid attention.  Then there was the Janet album when I really opened up and it went on and on and on and on.  It’s always who I’ve been, but I was trying not to let them more and more into my life when it comes to that aspect of my life.” But when our Lee Bailey asked if she or anyone in her camp thought her constant references to sex might be over the top, an aggravated Janet responded.   “No!  I mean, why should I not?  I did it with ‘Janet.’ That’s what the album was about. Being liberated. Enjoying this freedom. So, why should I not? Lee, does it bother you at all?”  Backed in a corner, Lee responded with “That’s a good question. Well sometimes it does, sometimes I say to myself, ‘I wish she wouldn’t talk about that so much; wouldn’t flaunt her sexuality so much.’  And I think I’m a pretty liberated guy, I’ve had some pretty interesting fantasies, but sometimes I think it’s a bit much.”

Janet countered with, “Well, that’s your opinion and I respect that, but there are other people who feel as I do and this is who I am.” When Janet refers to “what’s happened in recent years,” she’s making reference to all of the tabloid controversy that has sprung up and of course the Super Bowl fiasco of 2004.  Now as she promotes the new album, although she is quite beautiful and has accomplished phenomenal weight loss success, revealing so much of herself is the latest controversy.  According to published reports, her King magazine cover has had remarks ranging from "She looks like a total slut on the cover of KING magazine ...” to “The Janet, I grew up loving would never do KING." “You can’t please everyone and in doing so…where does that get you?” said Janet.  “It’s about my happiness and I think if people are uncomfortable with it then I think it says more about them than it does about myself.  I think they need to look in the mirror and check out a few things ... No pun intended actually,” she laughs. As far as the new project Janet told us that the album is purely back to basics with her favourites Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but now also including her love Jermaine Dupri. “Basically, I missed dancing and I wanted to get back to dance.  So that meant a lot more up tempo stuff that I hadn’t done in a while and going back to the R&B roots which Jermaine had a great deal to do with. That, and I knew I wanted to celebrate Control,” she explained.  “I mean, these are all the things that I had already thought about going into our very first meeting with this project and we just threw ideas and stuff out on the table and we knew what we wanted to do going into it.”

She’s enjoying being back in the studio with her longtime friends and production gurus Jam and Lewis and explained why the chemistry is still there after all these years. “I’m just a very loyal person.  That’s the long and short of it really and they’re very talented ... it’s not contractual at all,” she explains.  “We have a great relationship and I love what we create together ... and I’m very comfortable with them. How long it will be for?  I don’t know.  Maybe this will be the last one, maybe we’ll go on to do 20 more years.  I have no clue.  But I love what we do together.  I wish my brother Mike would’ve had that with Quincy.”  As we all know, the lady on stage right now is Beyonce.  But Janet doesn’t see the bootylicious “It” girl as competition.  It seems she’s enjoying the artists of today just like everyone else. “I think [Beyonce’s] talented.  I think Alicia Keys is very talented.  Alicia reminds me of someone back in the day. She’s my favourite of all the R&B female artists that are out,” admits Janet. “She seems like something from back in the 70s.  She has that rawness and energy about her and that genuine soul.”   She is a fan of the young R&B stars, but it’s no secret that they are on very different levels in their careers. “I don’t feel like I’m competing with any of them to a certain degree and at the risk of sounding arrogant, I mean, I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” said Janet.  “I’ve been where they already are and they’re just starting their careers.  I just do my thing.  This is their second and third album, my sophomore album was Rhythm Nation.  I feel like I really don’t have anything to prove to anyone,” she admits.  “I do this out of love because I enjoy it.  I enjoy what I do and that’s the only reason why I am able to do this as long as I have done it and I’m very thankful.  There’s something to be said to have a career for 20 years and still have people anticipate the work that you create.  That’s not often.  Artists come and go.  You can count on one hand artists that have stuck around and for people to still be interested in them. I’m being completely honest with you at the risk of sounding arrogant.  I cannot stand arrogance.”

Janet has finally arrived at a point in her career where she is able to enjoy the fruits of her labour.  She’s an artist who made platinum the mark to sell during the gold era, she has garnered possibly every award an artist can possibly be given including Grammys, American music awards, Soul Train awards, Billboard, MTV awards, and NAACP awards to name a few.  She’s the first artist ever to produce seven Top Five hits off of one album (something even big brother Mike hasn’t done).  She’s even received a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “After 20 years, I’m not stressing.  I’m not biting my nails.  They’re not down to the quick.  I’m actually for the first time really in my life sitting back and being in the moment, being in the now and enjoying every single benefit like being with Oprah ... and enjoying having a conversation sitting across from her.” It seems that there’s also good news on the horizon for the fellas.  Jermaine hasn’t, according to Janet, expressed any interest in nuptials one way or the other, so there’s a good chance someone could tempt her away from superman.  When Lee Bailey asked what’s keeping her from getting married, she wasn’t too clear on the topic. “You have to ask Jermaine that question.  Nothing’s keeping me from it.  It’s on him.  If that’s something he wants to do I’m fine.  If he wants to keep it as is, I’m fine. I’m so good where I am right now.” 

But then Lee jumps in again to get her to come clean. “Wait a minute!  You’re kidding me!  I believe he’s gone on record saying he would love to get married", Bailey said.  Janet responded with, “Well if he does I guess maybe then it will happen some day.”  Lee added, once again, “Are you saying he hasn’t asked you to marry him?” Janet comes back with, “If he does, then I guess maybe it will happen someday.”  Lee said, “No, you didn’t answer that now.”  So she repeated herself saying, “If he wants to get married, then I guess maybe it will happen someday,” she chuckles. When some people are regretting getting older and see someone younger coming along to maybe fill there space, Janet is experiencing the opposite. She is 40, but not feeling it.  She can do everything the young-guns can do and then some because of where she is in her career. “I don’t know what 40 is supposed to feel like to be quite honest with you,” explains Ms. Jackson.  “Maybe this is what it’s supposed to feel like.  Maybe I am feeling 40.  If I am, I honestly do not feel any older than being in high school.  Other than experiencing more in life and being wiser, but I feel no different.  My body feels no different than it did then."  Janet tells everyone now that she’s in a great place in her life and career.  She’s grown up ... officially. “And not that I didn’t enjoy [my career] before, but, you’re so busy working, working, working that you don’t sit back to enjoy the smell of the roses and everything that’s going on.  And thank God that I’m able to do that because I still have the career that I have. Most people by this time they’re over and gone” 20 Y.O. is available beginning today on Virgin Records. For more information visit her official website:

Eric Clapton Rotten Disc Rockin' Live

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Brad Wheeler


(Sept. 26, 2006) ) Neither Robbie Robertson nor Neil Young was a performer at Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Sunday, but the greatest Canadian guitarist ever might have been. The headliner was
Eric Clapton, strongly speculated to be the living consequence of a fleeting Second World War encounter between 16-year-old Patricia Molly Clapp and a Montreal serviceman stationed in England. Though news of the musician's ancestry surfaced eight years ago, lately the king guitarist seems less sure. "I began to doubt whether the guy we had located really was my father," Clapton recently told a London magazine. "I saw some photos and he didn't look a bit like me." Still, his latest album is entitled Back Home. And for a pair of shows that include a performance in Ottawa this evening, back home -- in a very small way -- might just be where Clapton's at.


Know that the Back Home is one dog of a disc. A banal, gritless celebration of Clapton's new passion for domesticity, the record is best forgotten. Sensibly, the man himself looks to put the pooch behind him. Of the album's songs, only the woodsy, adult-contemporary title tack was performed, as part of mid-concert, sit-down set. The rest of the night was bolder, with drummer Steve Jordan instigating urgency to I Shot the Sheriff, Motherless Children -- even After Midnight, which, for once, didn't inspire thoughts of malted-beverage commercials. Clapton, a flat-faced millionaire with patched jeans, rimless glasses and tightly cropped salt-and-pepper hair played with a mature ferocity -- inspired by the presence of slide-guitarist Derek Trucks or perhaps by Robert Cray, the soul-blues star who opened the show and sat in with the main-setters for slow-burner Old Love and encore Crossroads. Cray, no slouch, was eclipsed by another -- but it wasn't by whom you think.


Young, blond and wearing a long ponytail, Trucks was the attention-getter to Clapton's right, rubbing a glass bottleneck over his red electric Gibson to create varying tones -- sweet and singing, quicksilver or sitar-whiny. As a current member of the Allman Brothers, Trucks often attracts comparisons to Duane Allman, the late guitarist who participated on Clapton's Layla sessions in 1970. On that anthem -- Layla -- there was Clapton and Trucks doubling riffs and weaving solos, exquisitely. Guitar swords were crossed on Everybody Oughta Make a Change, a mid-tempo blues where Clapton asked, "Come back baby, you'll find a change in me." Revitalized by fellow players and a bluesy program, his adjustment was welcome.

A Different Kind Of Night At The Opera

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Desmond Butler
, Associated Press

(Sept. 26, 2006) NEW YORK — Enthusiasts filed into their seats wearing jeans and T-shirts for the
Metropolitan Opera's opening night performance. They sipped from soda cans and chatted on cell phones while taxis zipped by honking occasionally. At dusk, Puccini's Madama Butterfly appeared on a large screen above Times Square amid the flickering lights. The performance was broadcast live Monday from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to Times Square, more than 20 blocks south, as part of an effort by the Met to reach a new audience. It was enjoyed under a clear sky from seats lined up on Broadway open to all. Many passers-by took advantage. “This is a wonderful thing,” said Anderson Carton, 45, who had just emerged from a medical conference in Times Square and had not planned to watch an opera. “I've heard about Madama Butterfly all the time; now I can see what it's all about.” The performance also was broadcast in Lincoln Center's Josie Robertson Plaza and on Sirius Satellite Radio. The broadcasts were part of the Met's attempt under new general manager Peter Gelb to bring opera to a broader audience. Earlier this month, the opera house announced it would transmit six live performances to movie theatres in North America and Europe this season and broadcast more than 100 live over the Internet or on digital radio.

The broadcast of the season's opening night performance of Anthony Minghella's production of Madama Butterfly at Times Square was a kind of inaugural — and an unprecedented event for the Met. About 600 seats were set up in the square. Gelb has expressed concerns that opera is an aging art form. He has said that the broadcasts and other initiatives, including PBS telecasts and possible CD and DVD releases, are an attempt to reach a new and younger audience and nurture a larger base of enthusiasts. In Times Square, the early reviews were good. “This is fabulous,” said Thomas Thoma, an attendee who works in Germany's mission to the United Nations. “Paris and Berlin should do this.” Other members of the audience said they felt that the Met was becoming more accessible. “The Met used to be this horrendously elite dinosaur,” said Greg Emetaz, 28, a filmmaker. “This is a major effort at outreach.” Even the distractions of Times Square were acceptable. “The noise, the colour, that's part of the attraction tonight,” Emetaz said. In the minutes before the performance, the audience members watched images of their counterparts taking their seats in Lincoln Center, many in tuxedos and long dresses. Celebrities at the performance included Jude Law, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts. An announcer in Times Square asked his more casually dressed audience members to turn their cellphones to silent.

“I don't think that will help here,” said Carton, laughing. Then Met music director James Levine, making his return after an absence last spring due to injury, rose on the big screen to launch into the U.S. national anthem ahead of the opera. The audience members in Times Square stood and put their hands on their hearts. Afterward, they burst into cheers as a woman appeared on the screen in Japanese costume with long flowing ribbons and the music began. And they laughed when a large cement mixer drove loudly across the square and under the screen. After the curtain calls on stage, the opera's cast came out onto the balcony in front of the Met and received a wild ovation from the crowd that had enjoyed the live telecast in the plaza.

Those Guitar Licks Keep Peppers Cooking

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

(Sep. 26, 2006) Let the
Red Hot Chili Peppers luxuriate in their world domination, for they've earned it.  Yeah, the new double album's a total chore and a spotty discography doesn't quite justify the Stones-esque reverence bestowed on the California foursome in its collective middle age, but the similarly unexpected longevity of, say, Bon Jovi is way harder to take. And unlike a lot of other rock acts on the cusp of their 25th anniversary, the Peppers — occasionally fractious intra-band politics and bad habits aside — still appear to enjoy playing music together.  They're so much kinetic fun to watch, in fact, that one almost felt guilty for ignoring the massive, overhanging stage rig that bathed the entire Air Canada Centre in hot neon shades of pink and green. It's probably a good thing the guys are doing a second sold-out show tonight, actually, since the labour-to-use ratio involved in putting that monstrous thing together must be way out of whack.  But there you go. While the Peppers have alienated punk-funk fans by inviting their parents to the party with 1999's mannered-but-massive Californication, 2002's By the Way and this year's saggy double-disc opus Stadium Arcadium, last night they attacked a set list rooted in those very albums with an elevated musicality that rescued even the blandest new material from the doldrums.  Virtuoso bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith are one of rock's tightest units, winding successive songs into gear with their giggity-giggity jams, but the secret, truth be told, is to simply let guitarist John Frusciante light up another liquid solo to end every tune.

Sure, the ACC might have roared loudest for recent Top 40 mainstays such as "Dani California," "Can't Stop" or "Californication" and infrequent old-schoolers like 1991's "BloodSugarSexMagik" — a Zeppelin-worthy metallo-funk destroyer that dominated the set's first half — and 1989's frantic "Nobody Weird Like Me."  But any energy depleted during "Snow (Hey Oh)" or "Readymade" was restored the moment Frusciante and his Hendrix jones were let loose on the fretboard. He even went proactive on "Right on Time," seamlessly blending the Clash's "London Calling" riff into his own off the top and quietly proved himself a better singer than Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis with a solo cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her."  No wonder the band didn't bother much with songs predating Frusciante's 1999 return to the fold after a half-decade in heroin exile. His push to expand the band's horizons has yielded mixed results, but he's able to make even mundane numbers sound fleetingly transcendent.


Andrae Crouch To Give First Major Concert In Ten Years

Source: JL Media PR

(September 22, 2006)  Gospel legend
Andrae Crouch is scheduled to perform at The Forum, October 14 in Los Angeles. This will be his first major "live" concert in over 10 years at a major venue in Los Angeles. Crouch is celebrating 40 years in the music industry and the release of his latest CD "Mighty Wind" after an 8 year hiatus. He is the only living contemporary gospel star to have his star enshrined on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.  In 2004, he was received a Gospel Life Time Achievement Award by NARAS and inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall Of Fame.  Andrae has written and arranged songs for Michael Jackson; performed with Madonna, Elton John and Quincy Jones to name a few. Andrae Crouch is one of the most talented and historical figures in the Christian and secular music world.  He changed the style and the essence of traditional Christian music by creating a contemporary sound and writing masterpiece songs. Crouch is the "Godfather" of contemporary gospel music.    A true survivor, Andrae has combated cancer and obesity. Currently he pastor's his father's church in Los Angeles with his twin sister Sandra.

Etta Baker Dies

Excerpt from

(September 26, 2006)  *Groundbreaking blues guitarist
Etta Baker, whose music has influenced the likes of Bob Dylan and Taj Mahal, has died at age 93, her family said. No cause of death was given, but Baker had been in poor health for years, reported The News & Observer of Raleigh. Rooted in a musical family from North Carolina, Baker first appeared on a compilation album in 1956 called "Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians," which influenced the growing folk revival – especially her versions of "Railroad Bill" and "One-Dime Blues." Baker toured well into her 80s, but finally quit because of heart problems.  This year she no longer had the strength to play guitar so she focused on the banjo. Baker died Saturday in Fairfax, Va., while visiting a daughter who had suffered a stroke.

Three 6 Mafia Gets Reality Show

Excerpt from

(September 22, 2006) *MTV cameras will shadow members of Memphis rap group
Three 6 Mafia as they attempt to expand their Hollywood presence in the wake of an Academy Award. “Adventures in Hollyhood,” to be co-executive produced by actor Ashton Kutcher, will be set in Los Angeles and follow the group as they attempt to “establish themselves as Hollywood players.”    The act’s crossover profile has skyrocketed since picking up a best original song Oscar for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," their track from the soundtrack to “Hustle & Flow.” On Monday, Three 6 Mafia performed on the pilot episode of NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” 

Neil Young, James McMurtry Win Americana Music Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Sept. 23, 2006) NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Veteran rocker
Neil Young was named artist of the year Friday at the fifth annual Americana Honors and Awards. The awards, which honour music based on the country, folk and bluegrass tradition, also recognized the Drive-By Truckers as duo/group of the year and guitarist Kenny Vaughan as instrumentalist of the year. Singer and songwriter James McMurtry took home album of the year and song of the year honours. McMurtry, 44, won album of the year for “Childish Things” and song of the year for “We Can't Make It Here Anymore,” a pointed commentary on the economy, war and other issues. The Austin, Texas-based singer is the son of “Lonesome Dove” author Larry McMurtry and credits his father with exposing him to country music as a boy. Young, 60, born in Toronto and raised in Winnipeg, is one of rock's most influential figures — and one of its most erratic, shifting from tender folk ballads to feedback-drenched grunge, electronica, rockabilly, blues and full-blown country. Last year, he released “Prairie Wind,” a country-flavoured album recorded in Nashville, and this year put out “Living with War,” a collection of protest songs that included the blunt “Let's Impeach the President.” Held at the historic Ryman Auditorium, the awards show was hosted by Jim Lauderdale and featured appearances by Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Charlie Daniels, Vince Gill and many others. Crowell received a lifetime achievement award for song writing and Alejandro Escovedo received one for performing. Besides instrumentalist of the year, Vaughan also was honoured with the new lifetime achievement award for instrumentalist. Daniels became the fifth recipient of the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award, while the family of songwriter Mickey Newbury accepted the President's Award, traditionally given in posthumous recognition to an artist for outstanding career achievement. The awards were presented by the Americana Music Association. It is in part a reaction to slicker mainstream country music that grew in popularity in the 1990s, the organization said.

Sony To Compensate Those Who Bought Affected Discs

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Sept. 23, 2006) Toronto -- Music fans who bought CDs loaded with anti-piracy software that opened their computers to hackers and viruses have won compensation from
Sony BMG. An Ontario court approved a settlement deal Thursday that has the music giant offering $8.40, a replacement CD and free downloads of selected CDs to hundreds of thousands of customers who bought the affected discs. Details on eligibility and benefits can be found at Those seeking compensation must fill out a form at the site or download the form and mail it to a Sony BMG administrator. The settlement applies to all affected customers in Canada except those in Quebec and British Columbia. A statement issued by Sony BMG said simply that the company was "delighted" the Ontario Superior Court settlement had been approved. CP

Benzino, Mays, Valdes Regroup With New Magazine

Excerpt from

(September 22, 2006) *Source magazine founders
David Mays and Ray “Benzino” Scott – fired from the monthly in January – have teamed with Vibe magazine’s fired editor-in-chief Mimi Valdes to create Hip Hop Weekly, a new entertainment news and celebrity lifestyle publication set to launch on Oct. 16. The magazine will also feature a weekly column from New York radio personality Star, the former Power 105 personality fired by parent company Clear Channel after launching a scathing verbal assault on a rival DJ.  Star will author the column along with his old radio partner Buc Wild; and gossip maven Wendy Williams will also contribute to the publication each week. "This is a great day for our team up at Hip Hop Weekly and for hip-hop as a whole," said Benzino, Chief Brand Executive of Hip Hop Global Media, the holding company that is backing the launch of Hip Hop Weekly. "I want the readers to know that they can expect something incredible. It only makes sense, considering that between myself, Dave, Mimi, Wendy and Star, the years of experience we have -- stretching from the street side to the corporate side to magazines to radio to TV -- is incomparable. We will continue to give the people what they desire, and that's the realness, which they will now be able to get every week in our new magazine."  Valdés will serve as Hip Hop Weekly's Executive Vice President and Editor-In-Chief, as well as its co-owner.  "With HHW's revolutionary format, we're better equipped to document this culture as it happens,” she said in a statement. “Readers can depend on us for insight, criticism, and perspective on how hip-hop influences the world. Our entire team, both business and editorial, is filled with passionate fans that understand the hip-hop lifestyle. Believe me, that's going to make all the difference."

Tyrese Aka 'Black-Ty' Releases 2nd Hip Hop Mix Tape

Source: Tammy Brook, FYI Public Relations, 212.586.2240

(September 25, 2006) Multi-platinum, Grammy nominated singer, songwriter, actor, writer, producer and CEO of  Headquarter Entertainment-
Tyrese Gibson has released his highly anticipated second hip hop mix tape, "Ghetto Royalty" under his rap guise Black-Ty.  The full mix tape can be downloaded in it's entirety at Tyrese Gibson's official website for free for a limited time only with cover art for his fans!  According to Duncan Rutherford of DUBCNN.COM, "Black-Ty just reached the DUBCNN.COM record for the most downloaded mixtape ever in a day! In day one, 3,456 downloads and he's just hit 7,000 and it's only been 3 days since it went up on the website."  After already captivating audiences from music and movies with his amazing singing, songwriting and acting ability, Black-Ty AKA Tyrese has established himself as a hip-hop artist.  It was last year when Gibson decided to announce his alter ego- a new name - Black-Ty - to reveal his Hip-Hop side and has been steadily working with the biggest producers in the hip hop game including Erik Sermon, Scott Storch, Mannie Fresh, Jazze Pha, Jermaine Dupri and more.  At the BET Awards earlier this year, Black-Ty debuted with the release of his first Mixtape "Best of Both Hoods Volume 1 hosted by DJ Warrior."   Due to the rave reviews throughout the hip-hop industry, fans nationwide and from hip hop super stars including Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, David Banner, Method Man, Lil Scrappy, Lil Jon, The Game, and Ice Cube, Black-Ty quickly enlisted the "king of the tape," DJ S&S to host Ghetto Royalty. "All this love for Black-Ty got everyone curious, so here's a dose of what's to come on the Alter Ego album, I put my heart on the mic," said Black-Ty.  Black-Ty AKA Tyrese is scheduled to release his highly anticipated double album titled Alter Ego on J Records - December 5th, 2006. He can also be seen on the cover of the current issue of Dub Magazine.  To download the Ghetto Royalty mix tape go to

Snoop And Dre Together Again On New Album

Excerpt from - Clover Hope, N.Y.

(September 22, 2006)
Dr. Dre has produced several tracks for Snoop Dogg's upcoming album, "The Blue Carpet Treatment," due Nov. 21 via Doggystyle/Geffen. The new songs, which include "Imagine," will be the duo's first collaborative effort in roughly five years.  "Imagine" finds the two longtime friends and collaborators ruminating about hypothetical situations such as life without hip-hop ("Imagine Russell [Simmons] still struggling/no Def Jam," Dre raps) and if Tupac Shakur never died.  "Blue Carpet" also boasts production from the Neptunes, Timbaland and Rick Rock, among others. Nate Dogg and Ne-Yo have joined the list of previously announced guest artists, which includes R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, the Game and Ice Cube.  The disc will be the follow-up to 2004's "R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece," which bowed at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.7 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

'Tequila!' Sax Man Danny Flores Dies

Excerpt from

(September 22, 2006)
Danny Flores, who played the saxophone and shouted the word "tequila!" in the 1950s hit song "Tequila!," has died. He was 77. Flores, who lived in Westminster, died Tuesday at Huntington Beach Hospital, said a hospital spokesperson. He died of complications from pneumonia, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.  In 1957, Flores was in a group that recorded some work with rockabilly singer Dave Burgess. One of the songs was based on a nameless riff Flores had written. He played the "dirty" saxophone part and repeatedly growled the single-word lyric: "tequila!"  The next year it appeared as the B-side of a single, credited to the Champs. Flores used the name Chuck Rio because he was under contract to a different record label.  "Tequila!" went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart and won a Grammy in 1959. Flores continued to play it for the next 40 years. "I can honestly tell you he never got tired of playing that song," said his wife, Sharee.  The song has been used in numerous commercials and TV shows. It became popular with a new generation after it was used in the 1985 movie "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."  "After that, we got shows all over the U.S.," said Sharee, who sang with her husband. "All these younger people who hadn't heard it were suddenly in love with the song. Danny was just so proud of it."  In addition to his wife, Flores is survived by seven children from previous marriages and 15 grandchildren.

Cee-Lo's Inner 'Freak' Revealed On Best-Of

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(September 21, 2006) With the mega-selling Gnarls Barkley having brought
Cee-Lo to new levels of mainstream visibility, Arista/Legacy has rounded up favourites from his work solo and with Goodie Mob for a new compilation.  "Closet Freak: The Best of Cee-Lo Green the Soul Machine" will arrive Oct. 31. The 19-track set includes collaborations with Timbaland ("I'll Be Around"), Pharrell ("The Art of Noise"), Ludacris ("Childz Play") and Jazze Pha and T.I. ("The One").  Three Goodie Mob tracks are featured, including the hit "Soul Food," plus the OutKast/Goodie Mob collaboration "Git Up, Git Out," from the former's 1994 album "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik."  Meanwhile, Gnarls Barkley is winding down touring in support of its Downtown/Atlantic debut, "St. Elsewhere," which has sold 920,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The group plays in Las Vegas tonight (Sept. 21) and Saturday in Baltimore at the V Festival.

Shakira Leads The Pack With 5 Latin Grammy Nominations

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Sept. 27, 2006) New York — Shakira led the Latin Grammy pack Tuesday with five nominations, while Ricardo Arjona, Gustavo Cerati and Julieta Venegas received four each. Shakira, the hip-shaking international superstar from Colombia, was nominated for record of the year, song of the year and best short form music video for La Tortura, as well as album of the year and best female pop vocal album for Fijacion Oral Vol. 1. Guatemalan singer Arjona is up for record of the year and song of the year for Acompaname a Estar Solo, best pop vocal album for Adentro and best short for music video for the song Mojado. Argentina's rocker Cerati took nominations for best rock song for Crimen, album of the year and best rock solo vocal album for Ahi Vamos and album of the year as producer of Shakira's Fijacion Oral Vol. 1. Mexico-born Venegas was nominated for record of the year and best short form music video for Me Voy, and album of the year and best alternative album for Limon y Sal. The seventh annual Latin Grammys, featuring 47 categories for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking artists, will take place Nov. 2 at Madison Square Garden and will be broadcast on the Univision Network.

The Game Ready To 'Ride' On Sophomore Album

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(September 26, 2006)  California rapper the
Game will follow up his hit 2005 debut, "The Documentary" with "Doctor's Advocate," due Nov. 14 via Geffen. Album track "It's Okay (One Blood)" featuring Junior Reid is No. 16 this week on Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart; the first official single, "Let's Ride (Strip Club)," was produced by Scott Storch and will hit radio next month.  Although additional details have yet to be announced, Game is known to have worked with producers Cool & Dre as well as the Black Eyed Peas' Guest appearances are also tipped from Mary J. Blige and Nas.  "He rolls with a different type of people," told last week. "I was nervous; I didn't know what to expect. But I got to know him in the studio, and he had fun just like everyone else. He loves music just like I love music. That was the bond and respect that we took from that studio session."  It is unknown if Dr. Dre has contributed production to "Doctor's Advocate," as he did on "The Documentary." The Game was formerly signed to Dre's Aftermath label but split with the company in the wake of his long-running feud with 50 Cent and G-Unit.  Meanwhile, the Game guests on rapper Xzibit's new album, "Full Circle," due Oct. 17 via his own Open Bar Entertainment/Koch.



September 25, 2006

Alicia Keys, Songs in A Minor/The Diary of Alicia Keys, Sony
Anthony David, The Red Clay Chronicles, Brash Music
Beyond, The Redaration Record, Xi Sounds
Birdman, Like Father, Like Son, Cash Money
Black Eyed Peas, Monkey Business [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Black Moon, Alter the Chemistry, Bucktown
Bob Marley, 48 Titres Originaux, Intense
Bob Marley, Babylon by Bus, Universal
Bob Marley, Burnin' [Japan Bonus Tracks], Universal
Bob Marley, Catch a Fire [Japan Bonus Tracks], Universal
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
Brassmunk, Fewturistc, EMI
Brooke Valentine, Physical Education, Toshiba EMI
Cadillac Don & J-Money, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Asylum/Rap-A-Lot
Cassie, Long Way 2 Go, WEA/Bad Boy
Cee-Lo, Art of Noise: The Best of Cee-Lo, Sony BMG
Christina Milian, So Amazin' [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Darondo, Legs [EP], Luv N' Haight
Deena Jones, One Night Only [Single], Urban
Dennis Brown, Remember Me Always,
Desmond Dekker, Black & Dekker [Bonus Track], JVC Victor
Desmond Dekker, Compass Point [Bonus Track], JVC Victor
Diana Ross, Blue [Bonus Tracks], Universal/Motown
Diana Ross, I Love You, EMI
Diddy, Come to Me, Pt. 1, WEA/Atlantic
DJ Yoda, Amazing Adventures of DJ Yoda, Antidote
Eminem, Curtain Call: The Hits [Bonus Track], Universal
Fatlip, Loneliest Punk [Bonus Track], Toys Factory
Fergie, London Bridge, Universal International
Freddie Jackson, Transitions, Orpheus Music
Frost, Till the Wheels Fall Off, Aries Music
India.Arie, There's Hope, Universal/Island
Jah Mason, Wheat and Tear, Greensleeves
Janet Jackson, 20 Y.O., Virgin
Janet Jackson, All for You [Japan Bonus Track], EMI
Janet Jackson, Call on Me, Virgin
Janet Jackson, Call on Me, Pt. 2, EMI
Janet Jackson, Damita Jo [Bonus Tracks #2], EMI
Janet Jackson, Special Limited Edition, EMI
Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope [Japan Bonus Track], EMI
Janita, Seasons of Life [Bonus Track], JVC Victor
Jay-Z, Greatest Hits, Sony BMG
Jimmy Castor, Hey Leroy, Universal
Jimmy Levine, Share My Love, Thump
John Legend, Save Room [US 12" ], Sony
J-Shin, All I Got Is Love, South Beat
K.M.D., Mr. Hood, Traffic Ent.
Karaoke, 70's Soul, Chartbuster Karaoke
La Sinfonia, City of Candles, Sony International
Laurel Aitken, Superstar, Liquidator
Lil Chris, Checking It Out, BMG/RCA
Lil' Flip, Envy Me, Pt. 2, BCD Music Group
Lil Jon, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 9, BCD Music Group
Lionel Richie, Coming Home [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Lionel Richie, I Call It Love, Pt. 1, Universal
Lionel Richie, I Call It Love, Pt. 2, Universal
Lloyd Banks, Money in the Bank, Vol. 4 [Bonus Tracks], BCD Music Group
Ludacris, Release Therapy, Def Jam
Luther Vandross, The Ultimate Luther Vandross [Bonus Track], BMG
Mac Minister, The Minister of Defense, SMC Recordings
Mad Linx, On the Grind, Sugar Water
Main Flow, Flow Season, Brick
Main Flow, Forever, Brick
Mariah Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi [Japan Bonus Tracks], Universal
Mario Vazquez, Mario Vazquez, Arista
Marvin Gaye, Marvin Gaye & His Girls, Universal
Masta Ace, SlaughtaHouse, Delicious Vinyl
Mayday, Mayday!, Southbeat
MC 13, Illadelph Eternal, Mia Mind Music
Michael Franti, Yell Fire [Bonus Track], Sony
Mitchy Slick, Urban Survival Syndrome, Angeles
Morgan Heritage, Live: Another Rockaz Moment, VP / Universal
Mos Def, Undeniable/There Is a Way [Single], Geffen
MTO, Controversia, EMI
Natalie Cole, Leavin', Verve
Nate James, Set the Tone [Bonus Tracks/Bonus DVD], Toshiba EMI
Negativ, Anorectic, JVC Victor
Ne-Yo, In My Own Words [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Ne-Yo, Stay, Universal
Omar, Sing (If You Want It), Ether
Omarion, Entourage, Sony BMG
Oscar Toney, Jr., Guilty, Shout
Pharoahe Monch, Push [Single], Universal
Pokoloko, Bilingual Lingo, BCD Music Group
Promoe, White Man's Burden, David vs Goliath
Rare Essence, Live Pa, #8: Live at the Tradewinds 8.29.06, Rare One
Raydar Ellis, Sambo Song, Brick
Rihanna, Girl Like Me [Bonus Tracks #2], Universal
Rihanna, Music of the Sun [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Robert Parker, An Introduction To Robert Parker, Varese Sarabande
Roc Monee, Diamond in the Rough, Bungalo
Sandpeople, City Sleeps, 3D
Sean Paul, (When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me, WEA/Atlantic
Skant Bone, 3 Seasonz, Titan / Pyramid
Skyzoo/9th Wonder, Way to Go/I'm on It [12" Single], Traffic Ent.
Sleepy Brown, Margarita, Pt. 1, EMI/Virgin
Sleepy Brown, Margarita, Pt. 2, EMI/Virgin
Sleepy Brown, Mr. Brown, Virgin
Smitty, Heart of the South,
Smoove, Catch 22,
Sol.illaquists of Sound, As If We Existed, Anti
Solomon Burke, Nashville, Shout! Factory
Squeak E. Clean, Yeah Right/Hot Chocolate, Toys Factory
Stephanie McKay, Stephanie McKay, Astralwerks
Stevie Wonder, Hotter Than July, Universal
Sylk-E. Fyne, Raw Sylk, Balzout Inc.
Tami Chynn, Hyperventilating, Universal International
Tasmin Archer, On, Quiverdisc
Tego Calderón, Underdog/El Subestimado [Bonus Track], WEA/Atlantic
Tek, I Got This, Bucktown
The Alchemist, No Days Off, Alc
The Brand New Heavies, Get Used to It [Bonus Tracks], Pony Canyon
The Drifters, Very Best of the Drifters [WEA], WEA
The Impressions, This Is My Country/The Young Mods' Forgotten Story, Snapper/Charly
The New Rotary Connection, Hey Love, Universal
The Peppers, Peppers Box, Repeat
The Staple Singers, Come Up in Glory, Snapper/Charly
Total Devastation, Wreck, Firebox
Vanessa Williams, Christmas Collection: 20th Century Masters, Vol. 2, Hip-O
Various Artists, Eccentric Soul, Vol. 11: Mighty Mike Lenaburg, Numero
Various Artists, Get Low: The Lowriding DVD Magazine, Vol. 1,
Various Artists, Heavy Rotation Allstar Compilation, Vol. 6, Mastertapes
Various Artists, Heavy Rotation Allstar Compilation, Vol. 7, Mastertapes
Various Artists, Soldiers of the 213, Pt. 2, Thump
Various Artists, Black Magic Reggae, Castle
Various Artists, Dangerous [Machete Music], Machete Music
Various Artists, Dem Time Deh, VP / Universal
Various Artists, Lyric Reggae DVD Magazine, Vol. 2, Lyric DVD Magazine
Various Artists, One Team Music: The Hitmakers, Machete Music
Various Artists, Pure Reggaeton Music, Machete Music
Webstar, Webstar Presents: Caught In The Web, Republic
Westbound Train, Transitions, Hellcat
Wibal & Alex, Los Duenos del Bandidaje, Universal Latino
X:144, M.E., Nonsense
Young Cash, Believe It [Single], Universal
Yummy Bingham, Come Get It, Universal/Motown

October 2, 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
Alicia Keys, Songs in A Minor/The Diary of Alicia Keys, Sony
Aretha Franklin, Collections, Sony / BMG Import
Beyoncé, Ring the Alarm [Single], Sony
Big Rich, Block Tested: Hood Approved, Koch
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
Dabrye, Two/Three [Instrumentals], Ghostly International
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, Come to Me, WEA/Atlantic
Diddy, Press Play, Bad Boy
DJ Yoda, Amazing Adventures of DJ Yoda, Antidote
Don Carlos, Live in San Francisco [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
Esther Phillips, Atlantic Years, WEA International
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
Hustler E, Wacocaine, Vol. 2: God, Money and Gunz [Screwed], On My Hustle
India.Arie, There's Hope, Universal/Island
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. [Japan Bonus Track/DVD], EMI
Jay Dee, The Shining, Bbe
Jay Tee, How the Game Go, R.N.L.G. LLC
Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt, BMG Germany
Jimmy Castor, Hey Leroy, Universal
John Legend, Live at the House of Blues, Sony
Jurassic 5, Work It Out/In the House [Single], Universal
Kelis, Blindfold Me [US 12"], La Face
Kool & the Gang, Platinum Collection, Platinum
K-Os, Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, EMI/Virgin
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, The Emancipation of Mimi [Japan Bonus Tracks], Universal
Mitchy Slick, Killafornia Handgunner,
Moka Only, Desired Effect, Green Streets Ent
Monica, The Makings of Me, J-Records
Morgan Heritage, Live in San Francisco, 2B1
Mr. Shadow, Thug Connection, Paid in Full
N. Phect & Dizplay, Beautiful Bytes, Groove Attack
Nathan Haines, Chillifunk Years, Debut
Negativ, Anorectic, JVC Victor
Ne-Yo, In My Own Words [Bonus Tracks], Universal
Ne-Yo, Stay, Universal
Oddisee, Foot in the Door, Raptivism
Of Mexican Descent, Exitos y Mas Exitos [Deluxe Edition] [Bonus Tracks], Temporary Whatever
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
Sean Paul, (When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me, WEA/Atlantic
Sleepy Brown, Margarita, Pt. 1, EMI/Virgin
Sleepy Brown, Margarita, Pt. 2, EMI/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,
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, Absolute Dance [2006], Universal Republic
To Kool Chris, The Absolute Dance [2004], 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, Big Up Berlin: Best of German Hip Hop and Reggae,
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
VSOP, Lacs and Caprices,
Wade Waters, Darkwater, Raptivism
Willie Clayton, Gifted, Malaco
Willie Headen, Blame It on the Blues, Ace
Yummy Bingham, Come Get It, Universal/Motown
Z-Ro, 1 Deep, Presidential


Powerful And Positive Performances Hit The Screens With Forest Whitaker

Excerpt from - By Marie Moore

(September 21, 2006) Director Kevin McDonald let it be known in no uncertain terms that "
The King of Scotland" could not haven been made without the right actor in the starring role.  Because of his many low key roles, Forest Whitaker had to do a lot of convincing to land the part of Idi Amin in "The Last King" Laughing at the preconception of being meek in most of his movies, Whitaker pointed out he was a hit man in "Ghost Dog."  With Whitaker's track record, there should have never been a doubt in anyone's mind that he could pull off any kind of role. Oscar is written all over his performance in "The King of Scotland." Explaining why he took on the role of one of the most reviled men in history.  "All of a sudden he [Amin] was there, a soldier who was never groomed to be a politician and now here he is running a country. He became the head of the African Union and is speaking for the whole continent," says the actor. "So I think that wanting to understand him and wanting to understand that kind of psychology is exciting. I always take it with a grain of salt when someone tells me that a person is a beast. I always think, 'Oh, what does that mean?' If I see something on the news and they're saying that this guy is like this or that, I have to think about that." Becoming very immersed in the country while living there during the filming helped Whitaker immensely to delve into his character.  "Because I was continually driving throughout the country, all the way through the shooting, I would pick up or learn something. Whether it was going up to the Mosque on top of Kampala or it could be going out to a country road and hanging out with the villagers there. I rode my bike through the streets, I drove cars. I did so many things. Just sitting and eating in people's homes would change some of my lines in the script." Any preconceived notions about Africa?

"Yeah, I guess I did," Whitaker confessed. "I always thought that I would go to West Africa first because that's where my ancestors are from. So when I went to East Africa, it was different. Kampala is like a very – although set in the '70's – modern kind of town. It's really unique. I don't think that my imagination had played on me enough to be able to imagine sitting overlooking the Nile with my friends. My guys would bring me to the source of the Nile and pull out a shirt and say, 'Here. This is for you.' It's my badge. So there was no way that I could've imagined it the way it was." Whitaker's co-star James McAvoy, who also put in a powerful performance, explained his attraction to the project.  "The fact that I had the opportunity to make, to show that a really normal, unexceptional person can be just as destructive and just as bad and just as evil and just as corrupting.  Really. That was it.  Because you know, you look at my character as completely different.  But actually, they're both charismatic and bold, but one of them is exceptional, and one of them is clearly not.  Nicholas is not exceptional in any way.  And yet, he's just as destructive.  And he's just as self serving."

Beyond Blockbusters

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Sep. 23, 2006) In the world of
cinemas, the Darwinian principle applies: adapt or face extinction.  Faced with competition from the growing array of entertainment choices for the discerning consumer dollar, theatre chains are finding that change is not only necessary but vital to their economic survival.  "Movie theatre owners are very resourceful folk and they reinvent themselves every 10 to 15 years. This has been going on since the movie palaces of the 1930s," says Adina Lebo, executive director of the Motion Picture Theatres Association of Canada.  The future of movie theatres, in fact, seems to have less and less to do with movies as new technology allows cinemas to telecast everything from hockey, wrestling, opera and HBO comedy specials to hosting children's birthday parties, church services and interactive video games.  Last year's slump in movie box office dollars may have been the latest wake-up call, even though attendance has rebounded in 2006 thanks to a higher volume of films and bigger blockbusters.  "Everyone was predicting the demise of our industry last year," says Pat Marshall, vice-president of marketing for Cineplex Galaxy, Canada's largest film exhibitor.  "The reality is ... Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (with a North American box office now at $418.4 million U.S. and counting) set all kinds of new records, best opening day, best opening weekend, etc."  Lebo says a look at the bigger picture actually shows the industry is weathering the vagaries of the new entertainment age quite well.  Statistics Canada reported the number of theatres in 1986 was 897, with about 1,600 screens. Figures from 2004/2005 show there were 641 movie theatres but with almost 3,000 screens.  More importantly, overall revenue in 1986 was about $286 million but has since trebled to almost $900 million in 2004/2005.  Howard Lichtman, head of the Lightning Group, a consulting firm that does regular analyses of the industry, noted the industry has its cyclical ups and downs but remains stable and profitable.  "(A slump) isn't the end of the world. On a macro basis, if you look at 10- and 20-year trending, there are more and more people going to movies than ever before," Lichtman says.  But movie theatres are no longer limited to relying on movies. Suddenly the competition for theatres is not just home entertainment systems, but live theatres, concert halls and specialty event spaces.

Industry executives point to several innovations, especially the arrival of new digital projectors, which allow movie theatres to offer a new range of entertainment/corporate products.  Marshall says that stadium seating, first introduced by IMAX and standardized by U.S.-based AMC, has forced other movie houses to offer the same: screening rooms with comfortable seats in a more steeply rising configuration that almost entirely prevents any risk of obstruction of the giant screen. And the chains are working on improving options beyond popcorn and nachos at their lucrative snack bar operations. Cineplex is adding Tim Horton's in many theatres and working with nearby restaurants on dinner-and-a-movie deals.  But digital projectors — which will eventually find their way into every theatre — provide the greatest opportunity to offer a range of "alternative programming."  It's a new sideline that could guarantee the future prosperity and dominance of movie theatres as entertainment centres.  Dean Leland, vice-president of marketing for Empire Theatres — Canada's second largest chain — says owners are no longer prepared to leave facilities idle for long periods when business opportunities beckon.  "The nature of our business is that nobody likes down-time. Theatres are sitting empty during those dark hours but we're paying rent and still paying property taxes and all that. So we all like to maximize the revenue opportunities at any opportunity," Leland says.  Other examples abound: Ryerson University leased theatre space at the Carlton Cineplex in 2003-2004 to deal with the higher number of "double cohort" students resulting from the elimination of Grade 13.  It also plans to lease space in September 2008 in the new AMC Theatre complex slated to open on the northeast corner of Dundas and Yonge Sts.  Combining the power of satellite broadcasting with digital technology — which offers clearer, sharper pictures and sound — has already proven its worth for some chains, which have begun to offer live hockey games and World Wrestling Entertainment programming. Even church congregations are leasing theatre space that would otherwise be empty Sunday mornings.  Marshall says her company has more than 25 church congregations renting space for services, the latest a group in Milton that began meeting Sept. 17.

"For smaller communities that may not necessarily have the resources available for the building of a new church, this is a really wonderful and neat opportunity for them to be able to put a congregation together ... in a cost-effective manner," Marshall says.  "Most of the congregations use our giant screen in the sense of putting on a Power Point presentation or some other visual presentation. Most do not show movies but they certainly have that option open to them for special events," she added.  But it is technology that is driving new ideas.  "Anything you can put on a DVD or a hard drive, you can present on our screens," Marshall says, noting her company is beginning to tap the potential of corporate meetings, motivational speaking seminars, company Christmas parties, fundraisers, volunteer or employee appreciation parties.  Cineplex has already played host to live broadcasts of hockey games with the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks. The Ottawa Senators have just joined and discussions are underway with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  "It's a great idea. The teams love it and the audiences are there. It's the next best thing to being (at the game). When the players are 30 or 40 feet high on the ice coming across the screen at you, it's pretty impressive. People actually get up and sing `O Canada,'" Marshall says. And at under $10 a ticket, a whole family can afford to see games that otherwise are sold out or too expensive.

Cineplex will start showing live performances of the Metropolitan Opera from New York on its big screens in December.  Even television, which put movie theatres into a downward spiral in the 1950s, is providing content in the current rejuvenation. Cineplex is showing hot young comic Dane Cook's Tourgasm specials that were broadcast on HBO in the United States but not seen on Canadian TV. The next one is scheduled for Sept. 28 in selected theatres.  Cook's comedy routine not only taps into the lucrative teen-young adult demographic, but, in a neat piece of synergy, he is in the cast of the new movie Employee of the Month that will playing on the same theatre screens starting Oct.6.  Meeting the needs of corporate Canada is also bringing in new business, so much so that one downtown Cineplex theatre in Toronto has already hired a full-time event planner and several others are training personnel to respond to requests for corporate meetings, annual general meetings and the like, Marshall says.  A presentation from head office can be broadcast to theatres across the country where branch-office employees fill the theatre seats. Toronto Dominion bank employees had a meeting at the Varsity on Thursday this week.  Lichtman says other uses are on the horizon. In Britain, for example, theatres will soon be offering celebrity callers and big jackpots for bingo aficionados, he says. Companies are already developing interactive video games that can be played on the big screen, Lichtman added.  "What I'm talking about is a new world order. It's not just taking an in-home (video) game and projecting it on a screen, but rather creating interactive games inside the theatre which give you the ability to have a unique experience," he says.  "You've seen the movie, you've gone to the theme park to ride the movie, now you can play the movie on the big screen,'" Lichtman says.

"I see movie theatres morphing because they already have the real estate, they already have the seats, they already have ... the locations. They have the ability to change their concept beyond just movies. It won't happen quickly and there are things that I haven't dreamed of ... that very smart entrepreneurs will come up to promote," he added.  Marshall says such things as sports events and live simulcast concerts are a natural fit for movie theatres, where the audience can avoid the inconvenience and tumult of a crowded stadium.  "You don't have to deal with thousands of individuals (and) trying to move yourself through that crowd. You have none of that at our theatres and you have a great experience and it's a fraction of the price," Marshall says.  The high cost of digital projector technology is the main reason the revolution is taking its time in coming, says Lichtman, who estimated the price tag at between $85,000 and $100,000 (U.S.) per auditorium.  But Lichtman believes it is in the interest of film studios to work out a cost-sharing agreement with their theatre chain partners.  "It's the studios that are for the most part going to be benefiting because they'll no longer have to ship those enormous reels to theatres," he says.  But in the end, there is one fundamental issue that will not change despite the greatest technological advances in sound and picture quality: the movie product itself.  Unless the studios produce films people want to see, slumps will continue to happen.  "During the period of the slump (in 2005), people would ask me whether I thought the product was one of the driving forces behind the slump and I would say, `Well, just open a newspaper and tell me what movie you wanted to see last week or the week before.' They (studios) were simply not turning out good films, films people wanted to see," he says.  "The reality is when the film product is there, so are our customers. When the film product is not there, customers don't buy tickets. That's absolutely the nature of this business," Marshall says.  "As exhibitors, we set the table; we don't serve the steak."

Jet Li Exits Fighting

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere, Movie Critic

Jet Li's Fearless
(out of 4)
Starring Jet Li, Shidou Nakamura, Li Sun, Dong Yong. Written by Chris Chow and Christine To. Directed by Ronny Yu. 104 minutes. At major theatres. 14A

(Sep. 22, 2006) The self-proclaimed "final martial arts masterpiece" to be expected from Chinese Wushu martial arts master turned movie star
Jet Li — whose globally familiar brand-name possessively precedes the title — Fearless represents a multiple act of recovery.  Based on the life and legend of Huo Yuanjia — a pacifist Wushu pioneer who died after publicly taking on four carefully selected representatives of imperialist aggressors in succession in 1910 — Ronny Yu's lavish chopsocky spectacular is all about getting your dignity back. And that goes simultaneously for China, traditional martial arts, Huo Yuanjia and perhaps even Jet Li himself.  Certainly it can't be coincidence that Li, who was first noticed stateside when he performed in the White House as part of a Chinese command performance for Richard Nixon, filmed the movie at age 42 — the same as Hua when he collapsed and died after successfully kicking British, Spanish, German and finally Japanese ass.  While based on a real historical figure, Fearless, in keeping with big-budget popcorn culture everywhere, feels much more like inspirational myth than educational history.  After flashing backward from the 1910 match in Shanghai, the movie proceeds to tell the tale of an asthmatic boy who rises to become a great but arrogant Wushu master, attracting disciples like so many autograph-seeking geeks. The rock star-popular Huo gladly accepts their fealty between hearty gulps of wine.  After inadvertently killing the only remaining impediment to his reputation as number one and losing his family to the shame, Huo retreats in disgrace to the country.

Going hermit, he is eventually pulled from a black lagoon and cured of his unseemly narcissism by a blind woman named Moon. Not only does she teach him the proper way to plant rice — a lesson, like so many others, with a philosophical as well as practical application — she washes the feral tangles out of his hair, shows him how to cook and puts him firmly on the path to righteousness.  The timing couldn't be better. By the time Hua returns to Shanghai, it's become a cesspool of foreign influence, public drunkenness and general imperialist humiliation. Upon coming across a reference to China as "the Weak Man of the East," Hua decides it's time to take action and forms a martial arts school called the Jingwu Sports Federation. The former egoist then throws down his challenge to the world. That's where we came in — in 1910.  After making a few movies, like the venerable Bride of Chucky, in the States, director Ronny Yu returns to China for the first time in years with Fearless, and the resulting movie feels both proudly specific and blandly internationalist at the same time.  While there are a number of pumpin' action scenes — especially the pivotal one leading to the hero's disgrace — and the lightning-bolt Li is always amazing to watch, Fearless is finally cautious: a movie that condemns the tendency of global culture to intrude everywhere while embracing the very things that kick multiplex doors down around the world.

Everett Laments, And Dishes On, Celebrity

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Jill Lawless, Associated Press

(Sept. 23, 2006) LONDON --
Rupert Everett hates Hollywood. The British actor, whose screen hits include Another Country, Shrek and My Best Friend's Wedding, says he's sick of the movie industry's hypocrisy and homophobia. He's even tired of celebrity -- the whole glittering illusion deliciously evoked and eviscerated in his candid new autobiography Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins. "Hollywood is a mirage," said Everett, 47, reclining in jeans and plaid shirt in a London hotel suite. Movie stars are "blobs who don't say anything, aren't allowed to say anything. They are paid to shut up."  The book, for which he reportedly received a seven-figure advance, is a string of glittering anecdotes with edge, bonbons with a bitter centre. Everett is a waspish observer of the celebrity A-list, from Madonna ("she oozed sex appeal") to Julia Roberts ("beautiful and tinged with madness") to Sharon Stone ("utterly unhinged"). The book is a sort of Rough Guide to late-20th-century highlife -- and lowlife -- that moves from London to Paris, New York, St. Tropez, L.A.'s Laurel Canyon and Miami's South Beach. There are walk-on parts for Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor, Orson Welles, Bob Dylan, Donatella Versace and a host of other luminaries. Everett seems to remember all and recount everything. Almost everything. Everett skates quickly over his brief stint as a London rent boy. But the openly gay actor also discloses his handful of heterosexual affairs -- with Paula Yates, wife of Bob Geldof, French actress Béatrice Dalle and Hollywood star Susan Sarandon.

The book is also the story of Everett's lifelong flight from the conformity of an upper-class English upbringing that saw him sent away to a Catholic boarding school at the age of 7. He recounts his early career as a youthful rebel and party animal, friend of prostitutes, addicts, divas and thieves. He says being gay "certainly wasn't acceptable in any of the arenas that were on offer to me. So I think I had an instinct to escape into a world that I thought would be more friendly." But Everett was disappointed to find showbiz "as middle-class and provincial" as the private school world he'd left behind.  Everett has often complained of Hollywood's homophobia, arguing his sexuality has stopped him getting the leading-man roles offered to his countryman Hugh Grant. But he's also highly self-critical, emerging from the book as ruthless and driven, a bit of a monster who confesses he "lied about everything. My age. My name. My background." For all his drive to be a star, Everett is ambivalent about success. The book recounts highs -- his breakthrough as an English schoolboy turned Soviet spy in Another Country and his Hollywood triumph as Julia Roberts's gay pal in My Best Friend's Wedding -- and lows -- the disastrous Hearts of Fire and The Next Best Thing, a limp comedy-drama with Madonna. These days, he travels the world on behalf of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and declares showbiz "not very relevant," although he's got a play, a movie and "a couple of TV things" in the works. "Life behind a velvet rope -- I never enjoyed it," he said. "I like going to bars, going to clubs, hanging out on the street." "It was a conscious decision for me to exist like the people I really admired on-screen, the Marlon Brandos, the Montgomery Clifts, the James Deans. You felt they had experienced everything. Their eyes were shocked and dead and alive and glowing like coals at the same time. And I think that was through experience, using your life as a tool. That's the way I wanted to conduct myself."

VIFF Bucks Film Biz Trend

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Tony Montague

(Sept. 22, 2006) The posters are up, the programs are out and, with just a few days to go before the first screenings, the buzz is mounting around town for the 25th edition of the
Vancouver International Film Festival, which starts on Thursday. The event draws about 150,000 movie buffs -- a figure second only in North America to the estimated 250,000 who attend the Toronto International Film Festival. And despite its relative lack of Hollywood glitz, the Vancouver event has clearly won over local cinephiles. VIFF has come a long way since its creation in 1982, when it had just one venue, the Ridge Theatre, and no financial support from the public sector. "We asked for a grant of $5,000 from Telefilm -- the only agency at the time funding such events -- and were refused," recalls Festival Cinemas president Leonard Schein, who helmed VIFF through its first four years. "We were told that if people in Vancouver wanted to attend a film festival in Canada, they should go to Montreal or Toronto. It was three years before we got any funding from a government agency." Despite the economic challenges, VIFF grew rapidly, and in 1986, its special Expo edition featured 380 films spread over five weeks. The festival was already one of the city's premier cultural attractions. Alan Franey, who took over as director in 1988, refers to "three pillars" of programming that have given VIFF its distinct character. Canadian productions were a strong presence from the beginning; East Asian movies emerged as a major focus from the mid-eighties onwards; and in the past decade, the number of non-fiction films screened has grown dramatically.

"Twenty years ago, you couldn't draw flies to even the best documentaries," Franey notes. "There was a real prejudice against them. Then a shift started, where many people -- not just me -- discovered that many of their festival favourites were non-fiction. "The batting average for non-fiction is often very high. What's happened is that filmmakers have transcended its formal limitations. You get a lot of highly educated and very intelligent artists working in the medium -- people who have a trust in the cinematic language to present a full, rich picture of a subject that needs attention." While the festival has always included commercially oriented movies from the major studios, Franey has never tried to make VIFF a celebrity and business destination in Toronto's mould. "We don't need to do that. . . . It's important for people to realize this isn't just us being bloody-minded. . . . Why should taxpayers' money be spent on anything but providing access to good films that wouldn't otherwise be seen? We aim to emphasize new talent and provide a complementary opposite to what's on commercial screens the rest of the year." VIFF doesn't go looking for new ways to be unique, Franey says -- its identity has evolved organically, in response to outside developments. At the same time, it's clear that he is prepared to buck trends and resist pressures. "In the past 15 years, there's been a fundamental shift in the way films are shared internationally. It's less in the spirit of international exchange and more in the spirit of business. There's a general sense that government shouldn't be supporting culture. A lot of film agencies around the world have been eviscerated and replaced by private interests. "I lament a lot of those changes. I think we're impoverished by the increasing dominance of the bottom line for everything. Filmmakers who aspire to art often have a very hard time finding an audience, and I think festivals are there to provide that service." Franey sees another related role for VIFF, one that has increased over time. The 16-day event nurtures its own community of passionate cineastes. "I always used to stress the fundamental relationship of filmmaker and audience at a festival. But what's equally important now, I think, is the primary connection between the people attending each year -- how they strike up conversations about the films, make friendships and have a strong sense of sharing. In a world where everything can be brought into our living rooms, that social and festive aspect is very important." The Vancouver International Film Festival runs Sept. 28 to Oct. 13. For venue, schedule and ticket information, call 604-683-3456 or visit

Martin Lawrence, The 'Open Season' Interview

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(September 26, 2006)  *Funnyman
Martin Lawrence stars in "Open Season," the new cartoon from Columbia Pictures where he provides the voice of Boog, a domesticated grizzly bear who suddenly finds himself stranded in the woods just before the start of the hunting season.  In this heart-warming family picture, his character teams up with Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), a trash-talking deer, to rally the rest of the animals in the forest to turn the tables on the humans. Here, Martin reflects on his opportunity to perform in his first, full-length animated feature.

Kam Williams: Tell me a little about your character.

Martin Lawrence: Boog is a 900-pound grizzly, but with no bear skills. He's never been in the woods. He's domesticated, and been living in the lap of luxury in Park Ranger Beth's (Debra Messing) garage. He's the star of the wildlife show in town, and he's just loving it. He's a cuddly, lovable bear who one day has to realize that he does have real grizzly bear skills.

KW: How would you describe Boog's relationship with Elliot?

ML: First, Boog doesn't really like Elliot. He wants nothing to do with Elliot. But he finds that he's got to get to know him, especially when he thinks Elliot can show him the way back to Timberline National Forest. I like the fact that Elliot's so persistent. His energy is always help moving the scene. So, I like the fun of what these two characters bring in getting to know each other.

KW: What do you think about the quality of the animation?

ML: The look of this film is beautiful. I remember them showing me storyboards, but what the animators have done is better than I even imagined. This film makes the woods more interesting. It makes you think, "Wow! You know what? If I walked out in the woods today, I'd actually take a better look at it and at all the animals that run through there."

KW: When you're making a cartoon, how do you know if you're generating any chemistry or if the comedy's working when your co-stars aren't even present as you read your lines?

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

Martin Lawrence Behind New Stand-Up Series

Excerpt from - By Kenya Yarbrough

(September 25, 2006) *
Martin Lawrence will executive produce a new stand-up comedy series for Starz Entertainment channel called “1st Amendment Stand-Up,” billed as “a showcase for some of the freshest young comedians.”  Set to premiere in the first quarter of 2007, the show will be co-produced and hosted by stand-up Doug Williams.    "It is a dream come true for me to collaborate with Martin Lawrence, a legendary comedian whose talent I've greatly admired," Williams says. "I'm honoured to be able to join forces with Starz and Martin as we prepare to make history with the new generation of comedians."   “1st Amendment” is part of the first slate of original TV series introduced by the company for the first quarter of 2007, joining the provocative interview show “The Bronx Bunny,” and the original comedy series “Head Case.”


Screen Legends - Genevieve Bujold

Excerpt from The Toronto Star — Bruce Yaccato

FAME: Actress
BORN: July 1, 1942, Montreal
(Sep. 22, 2006) EXCERPT: While traveling abroad with a theatre group,
Genevieve Bujold became the darling of the Parisian film scene.  She was cast opposite superstar Yves Montand in La Guerre est finie. Soon after Louis Malle paired her with Jean-Paul Belmondo in Le Voleur.  The pinnacle of her acclaim came in 1969 as Anne Boleyn in Anne of the Thousand Days.  As her Anne bravely defied the murderous Henry VIII, so did the young Bujold brilliantly match the living legend Richard Burton scene for scene. It won her an Oscar nomination.  She made Hollywood blockbusters like Universal's Earthquake and her biggest commercial success, Coma in 1978.  But she used her status to choose roles she found challenging, like Act of the heart with Donald Sutherland, helmed by her director husband Paul Almond, and the dark romantic comedy Choose Me.  Genevieve Bujold of Montreal.

Actors Guild To Honour Julie Andrews For Career

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Sept. 27, 2006) Los Angeles — Julie Andrews, whose film career has ranged from magical nanny in Mary Poppins to regal queen in The Princess Diaries, will receive a life-achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild. The honour will be presented at the guild's annual film honours on Jan. 28, the union has announced. "Julie Andrews is a woman of great generosity, creativity, courage, elegance and wit. She embodies and transcends the memorable roles she has created," said Alan Rosenberg, the guild's president. Andrews, 70, won a best-actress Oscar with her feature debut, 1964's Mary Poppins. She also earned nominations for the lead role in The Sound of Music and Victor/Victoria. AP

Big, Fat Greek Welcome

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Sep. 22, 2006) ATHENS, Greece—Greece has granted rare permission for a U.S. film to be shot on the ancient Acropolis and other historic landmarks, a culture ministry official said Wednesday.  Filming for My Life in Ruins, a comedy featuring My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos, a native of Winnipeg, is expected to start in October.  "This film has a quality team, and has secured a broad distribution network," ministry secretary-general Christos Zachopoulos told state-run NET television. "It will go to the ends of the earth, and will be an advertisement for Greek culture."  Zachopoulos said it will be the second feature film to be partially shot on the Acropolis — after Francis Ford Coppola's Life Without Zoe, a segment of the 1989 movie New York Stories.  The comedy will also feature the ancient sites of Epidauros and Delphi, as well as the medieval rocktop monasteries at Meteora, central Greece.  "Greece is making a great effort to bring foreign films here," Zachopoulos said. "This will mean investment, jobs and international promotion."  In My Life in Ruins, the Greek-Canadian Vardalos — whose surprise 2002 hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding grossed more than $350 million U.S. worldwide — will play the part of a guide escorting tourists to the historic sites, media reports said.  The Acropolis hill is Greece's most popular ancient site.

Haggis In Talks To Direct Theron, Jones Drama

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Gayle Macdonald

(Sept. 23, 2006) Toronto -- Canadian
Paul Haggis is in talks to direct a new film, The Garden of Elah, a drama he wrote that will star Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. According to Variety, the London, Ont.-born director-writer was expected to follow his Oscar-winning movie, Crash, with an adaptation of Richard Clarke's 9/11 exposé Against All Enemies. But he is now scouting locations in Texas and Albuquerque, N.M., and expects to start filming late this year. The script is based on a Playboy magazine article by Mark Boal called Death and Dishonor. The film is a fictionalized version of a true story, in which a retired U.S. Army vet named Lanny Davis (Jones) discovers his son has been murdered during a night on the town, and was attacked by members of his own platoon who had been on tour in Baghdad. Theron will play a local police detective, says Variety.

Mehta's Water Is Canada's Official Oscar Entry

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - James Adams

(Sept. 23, 2006) Toronto --
Deepa Mehta's Water, a worldwide critical and commercial smash, is Canada's great hope for the gold statuette for best foreign-language film at next year's Oscars. Telefilm Canada this week forwarded Water, shot by Toronto-based Mehta in Sri Lanka and India, for consideration by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as Canada's official entry at the Oscars. There is, of course, no guarantee that the movie will make the shortlist of five, which is to be announced in January. A country may submit one film for foreign-film consideration. Canada last took an Oscar for best foreign-language film in 2004, with Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions.

Atlantic Film Fest Wraps With Awards Presentations

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Canadian Press

(Sept. 26, 2006) Halifax — A documentary about OxyContin addiction and a short film about a wedding speech gone wrong were the big winners at the
26th Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax. Each picked up three awards at a ceremony on the weekend that capped 10 days of films from across Atlantic Canada and around the world. Nance Ackerman shared the Rex Tasker Documentary Award with her co-director, Eddie Buchanan, for Cottonland, and they tied in best-director honours. The film also won the Ed Higginson Cinematography Award for Alain Dupras's cinematography. The Cottonland directing duo tied for best director with Newfoundlander Justin Simms, who won for Punch-Up at a Wedding, a 16-minute film chronicling reactions to a horrible wedding speech. Punch-Up at a Wedding was also named best Atlantic short and won the new Michael Weir Award for best original screenplay. Toronto native Camelia Frieberg, who lives in Mahone Bay, N.S., claimed the award for best Atlantic feature for A Stone's Throw, shot on the province's South Shore. The film has been picked up for distribution in Canada by ThinkFilm and international sales rights are now being negotiated, said the debut director, best known as a producer of films by Atom Egoyan and Jeremy Podeswa. Winning best Canadian feature honours was Philippe Falardeau's Congorama, while Jennifer Baichwal's Manufactured Landscapes won for best Canadian documentary. CP



Znaimer May Get His Own Way

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Unnati Gandhi

(Sept. 22, 2006)
Moses Znaimer. Everywhere. Everywhere, that is, along the stretch of Queen Street West that the broadcasting maverick called his stomping grounds for more than a decade. Next week, city council will consider naming the strip of Queen West that runs past CITY-TV, between John and Duncan Streets, Moses Znaimer Way. If the street sign proposal -- unanimously adopted at yesterday's community council meeting -- gets a nod from city council, it would be an appropriate sign of honour for a man who many say changed the course of local news in Toronto and around the world. "He was ahead of his time," said Marsha Barber, director of broadcast journalism at Ryerson University. "Moses was hiring diverse reporters at a time when nobody else was, for example. So there is a sense that he understood the city and what it was all about." Mr. Znaimer's contributions also include demystifying the world of television with his trademark backdrops of busy newsrooms, giving average citizens a voice with his Speaker's Corner broadcasts, and launching North America's first 24-hour local news station, CablePulse 24. Although designating sections of streets in honour of people doesn't come up against strict guidelines, it is still very rare in Toronto, said Andy Koropeski, director of transportation services for the city. "I can't think of more than three off the top of my head," he said.

There's Mirvish Walkway on King Street West in the heart of the city's entertainment district, Johnny Lombardi Way on College Street in Little Italy in honour of the man who launched Toronto's first multicultural radio station, CHIN, and Marshall McLuhan Way on St. Joseph Street, where the legendary media theorist was based at the University of Toronto. Adding Mr. Znaimer to the list is a natural, said Councillor Martin Silva, who made the initial proposal. "The work he has done initiating CITY-TV and local broadcasting was a very innovative way of covering the city and bringing the images of the citizens of Toronto to themselves," Mr. Silva said. "He's a pioneer in local broadcasting so making part of Queen Street the Moses Znaimer Way, we think, is an appropriate tribute." The initiative stemmed from the thinking of a group of Mr. Znaimer's friends that it would be the best way to honour him as his 65th birthday approaches next year. Mr. Znaimer was unavailable for comment yesterday. Although he resigned from his executive post at CHUM (which was bought recently by Bell Globemedia) in 2003 over differences, Ms. Barber, the broadcast expert from Ryerson, sees the possible street designation as positive for all those involved. "He was doing things nobody else was doing and, love him or hate him, everyone sat up and paid attention."

‘Saturday Night Live' Cast Trimmed Down

Source:  David Bauder, Associated Press

(Sept. 22, 2006) NEW YORK — Seth Meyers gets the plum job of “Weekend Update” anchor next to Amy Poehler in a newly streamlined “
Saturday Night Live” this season, the show's creator and executive producer, Lorne Michaels, said on Thursday. Meyers, entering his fifth season on the late-night institution, must replace the popular Tina Fey on the fake-news anchor desk. Like Fey, Meyers will also be one of the show's head writers. Four cast members auditioned for the gig, but Michaels said Meyers' writing ability and his chemistry with Poehler made the difference. Meyers has acted with Poehler in a recurrent sketch about “The Needlers,” a bickering couple who should be divorced. Also like Fey, Meyers will primarily appear only on “Weekend Update” each week. The repertory comedy will have 11 cast members this season, down from 16. Fey has gone on to make the new NBC prime-time comedy “30 Rock,” bringing fellow cast member Rachel Dratch with her. Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz, who both joined “SNL” in 1997, and three-year cast member Finesse Mitchell, will not be returning.

The stripped-down cast was driven, in part, by the need to cut costs, Michaels told The Associated Press. Given a choice by NBC executives of making fewer shows or having fewer people, he said he chose the latter. “The show, like a garden that gets overgrown, at a certain point needed to be pruned,” he said. “We've done it at six or seven points in the past. You get a bulge in the budget.” The cast of essentially 10 players is “a great size because everyone gets enough playing time,” he said. By adding six cast members in the past two years, “SNL” went through one of its periodic transformations. But it has been able to do it smoothly, without jolting changes that confuse viewers, Michaels said. Returning cast member Darrell Hammond, for instance, has been there for a decade. “The show has succeeded and prospered to some degree on its ability to reinvent itself,” Michaels said, “and this was a time for everything to be re-examined.” One of “SNL's” biggest moments last season was the rap parody “Lazy Sunday,” with cast members Andy Samberg and Parnell talking about cupcakes and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” The video short became a big hit when distributed online in the days after its appearance. Other returning cast members include Fred Armisen, Will Forte, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Jason Sudeikis, Kenan Thompson and Kristin Wiig. “SNL” opens its season on Sept. 30, with comic Dane Cook as guest host and the Killers as musical act.

Jaleel White Talks About His Internet Death

Excerpt from

(September 25, 2006) *Last June, someone generated a story about actor
Jaleel White having committed suicide, attached the Associated Press’ name to it and sent it around cyberspace. The story said White was pronounced dead on arrival at a Los Angeles hospital after paramedics were dispatched to his apartment and found him dead of “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”  White, known to millions as Steve Urkel on the sitcom “Family Matters,” tells EUR’s Lee Bailey that he was in New York City en route to a Sox/Yankees game when he first heard that he had died.  “It was incredibly annoying. What can I say, the Internet is the land of the great sucker punch,” laughs White. “It’s just unfortunate that people can do that to you and kind of hide behind anonymous names.” To this day, the 29-year-old has no idea who was behind the Internet prank – “probably some Internet geeks” White believes – but he says there was one positive aspect to come out of the experience.

“I really discovered just how many people’s lives I’ve been able to touch, because my cell phone just blew up for the entire month of June,” he says. “Even though it was for a negative reason, it was very beautiful to see that.” The UCLA grad says he’s still very much alive and doing quite well these days.   “My life is terrific, I have two loving parents, I have great friends, I live in the Santa Monica area of Calif., I’m a college graduate, I continue to work, make money and earn a living,” he says.  White says his absence from the public eye probably gave the rumour more legs than the usual celebrity death rumours, like the latest one surrounding R&B artist Teairra Marie – who is not dead, by the way. “When they do it to people who, let’s say, don’t have a series on the air at that particular time, or a movie coming out, it just lends more credibility to whatever it is they were attempting to do,” White says of the rumour starters. “If you did it to Brad Pitt or someone like that, of course the engines of the studios releasing his next movie are gonna rev up tomorrow.”   White says he’s been busy making his paper as a screenwriter and just finished working on a pilot, not to mention two movies this year.    “So it’s not true!” White screams of his suicide.

Whoopi To Appear On Rock's Sitcom

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Bridget Byrne, Associated Press

(Sept. 26, 2006) LOS ANGELES — As the title of his show implies, Chris, of
Everybody Hates Chris, is accustomed to every upside having a downside. But in the season premiere of the CW comedy, the downside comes with an added wallop: Whoopi! Whoopi Goldberg guest stars as Louise, the overly protective grandmother of a cute girl who has just moved into Chris's Brooklyn neighbourhood. "Stay way from my granddaughter, you cock-eyed hooligan," her Louise yells at Chris (Tyler James Williams) the minute he works up the courage to talk to the girl. Repeating the scene a number of times on Paramount Studios' New York street set here, Goldberg threw in a few variations, dubbing poor Chris "a scrawny runt" and worse.  "She doesn't have to improvise, but she can ad lib," laughs Ali LeRoi, co-creator with comedian Chris Rock of the half-hour comedy inspired by Rock's childhood. Sitting beside LeRoi as she waits for camera adjustments, Goldberg responds, "Happily I don't have to write this and the actor in me is presented with something I don't have to fix. I just have to know which direction you want me to go in, 'cause in my mind I see a thousand different things, but they may not be the right things." Louise, Goldberg says, is "a snob." Having moved from Queens to the grittier Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, she thinks she's better than her new neighbours. She's also trying to compensate for any mistakes she may have made raising her daughter by being ultra-strict with her granddaughter. "We had heard last season that Whoopi was a fan of the show and interested in doing it," LeRoi says. So he deliberately created a role where "it wouldn't be a necessity for her to be here every week, just in case she's busy."

"That's what you all think," Goldberg laughs. "There I am praying for roles, and you all think, 'Oh, yes, she's got a lot of work!' "  Goldberg, 50, first became famous for her one-woman comedy shows. In 1991, she won an Oscar for her supporting role as the psychic in Ghost. She has also hosted the Oscar show three times, and has won at the Tonys, Emmys, Grammys and Golden Globes. Her TV appearances include a stint on Star Trek: The Next Generation; guest appearances on Strong Medicine, a Lifetime series she helped to develop, and her own short-lived NBC sitcom, Whoopi. Everybody Hates Chris is anything but short-lived, becoming an immediate hit its first year on the now-defunct UPN. Its second season begins Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, kicking off the Sunday-night line-up on the CW, the new joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. targeted at the young-adult demographic. LeRoi says the move won't affect the show's creative freedom. Besides Williams in the title role, the series, set in the 1980s, stars Tichina Arnold and Terry Crews as Chris's mom and dad, Rochelle and Julius. Tequan Richmond and Imani Hakim play his siblings, Drew and Tanya. And Vincent Martella is his best friend, Greg. Goldberg liked the show's take on the African-American family. "This is a rich viable family, with two parents who love their kids. Everybody has their job in the house, everyone has chores. It's a normal American family trying to keep it together. For us to be able to see a family like this, knowing the outcome is Chris Rock, who doesn't want that? So, you know, you say, 'My life is a struggle, but you know what? If I persevere, I can get my kids to where they need to be.' " LeRoi says Goldberg's personal and career history is "partly responsible, whether she thinks so or not, for us being able to do this type of material, for broadening the horizons of what we can do creatively."

Steve Paikin Promises His New Current-Affairs Show Won't Leave Viewers Hungry For More

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Michael Posner

(Sept. 27, 2006) Over at TVOntario, they seem to have fallen in love with the word "agenda." Last June, the Ontario broadcaster and Crown corporation unveiled a strategic agenda involving a new content mix, a move to digital technology and the refashioning of TFO, its French-language affiliate, as a more independent station with its own board of directors. In keeping with its educational raison d'être, the new content strategy is ostensibly aimed at making Ontarians better informed. (And the rest of Canada: TVO is available on satellite in every province and on cable TV in Quebec and New Brunswick.) As they put it in the press release, TVO aims to create content that "fosters citizenship by engaging people as active participants in the public issues defining our society."  It's a mission statement broad enough to drive almost any current-affairs show. Including
The Agenda, TVO's new, five-times-a-week flagship public-affairs show. It succeeds Studio 2, which ran for 12 successful years but was deemed tired and formally dismantled at the end of the last season. The Agenda's host, the estimable TVO veteran Steve Paikin, says "agenda" was just one of dozens of names the show's producers threw into the hopper during the summer. Its own agenda, he says, is to mirror TVO's new mandate, offering substantive material that will, he says, "debate the most significant social, political, cultural and economic ideas of our time."

To add the meat, the show will feature longer-format segments. A frequent criticism of Studio 2, he says, was that audiences were left hungry for more. As he said in a statement last June, viewers wanted "more intelligent, civilized discourse . . . more time devoted to discussing ideas and issues." So whereas Studio 2 typically ran three or more items in a single show, The Agenda will usually deal with just one or two. Once a month, Paikin will host the show at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto with a studio audience. "We will take the time we need to take," he said in a recent interview. "We will go deep." Viewers will be invited to submit topics for discussion and join the exchange on several blogs being mounted by the show's producers. For the show's debut, Paikin managed something of a coup. He cajoled former media baron Conrad Black into a 17-minute, opening segment one-on-one. Painting himself the innocent victim of an outrageous miscarriage of justice, Lord Black of Crossharbour steered carefully away from addressing the substance of the criminal charges laid against him the United States -- that he and other former executives of Hollinger International Inc. absconded with more than $80-million (U.S.) from the Chicago-based company. His trial is scheduled to begin in March. Paikin says he pursued Black, whom he had met and talked with off the record on several occasions, by phone and through friendly intermediaries, every other day for a month, before he won his consent. But with the legal case ruled out of bounds, Paikin was left to throw a series of largely softball questions soliciting Black's views on Canada's mission in Afghanistan, the current Liberal leadership race and the George W. Bush presidency.

But he did manage to dig up a news nugget in Black's statement that he is now working through "normal channels" to reclaim his Canadian citizenship; he renounced it in 2001, after then prime minister Jean Chrétien refused to sanction Black's appointment to the British House of Lords. During the segment, a split screen ran archival of footage of Black scrumming with reporters. This might have been useful except that the audio feed interfered with Paikin's interview. They did it again, with the same annoying and unsatisfactory results, during the show's second feature -- a discussion about Canada's role in Afghanistan. The panel itself was imbalanced ideologically, since four of its five members -- University of British Columbia's Michael Byers, University of Toronto's Janice Stein, columnist Eric Margolis and TV host Tarek Fatah -- view the NATO mission as a failure. Only University of Alberta historian David Bercuson was left to defend it. There were some lively exchanges. When Byers argued that Canada faced no existential or security threat from the resurgent Taliban and suggested that Canadian forces would be better deployed in Lebanon, Stein quickly noted the logical inconsistency -- what security threat does Canada face from Hezbollah? And as Fatah observed, it was the Taliban that effectively rented Afghan space to the al-Qaeda militants that plotted and carried out the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Paikin, 46, was his usual affable and unflappable self, keeping the panellists more or less on point and from each other's throats. The author of three books on politics, he co-hosted Studio 2 (with Paula Todd) for 12 seasons. Smart, articulate and fast on his feet, Paikin sometimes leaves me wishing he were a little less nice and a little more aggressive in his questioning. As an Ontario civil servant, Paikin is among those earning more than $100,000 a year whose salary is annually published by the Ministry of Finance. This year, he got a raise -- to slightly more than $214,000 a year, a stipend, he says, that puts him in the low-to-medium range for hosts of comparable shows. The raise is justified, he says, because his workload has gone up 250 per cent. At Studio 2, he was simply the co-host. Now, he's the solo host, attends planning meetings and is closely involved in framing the topics for discussion. As TVO shifts into the digital format, Agenda will be downloadable to computers and iPods. That, for Paikin, is a critically important part of the equation -- it's a way of reaching out to more viewers and completing the agenda. The Agenda with Steve Paikin airs weeknightson TVO.


‘Runaway’ on the CW

Written by Chad Hodge, Directed by Mikael Salomon

[One of our Canadian actors has a role in the new Runaway TV pilot airing tonight.  Benz Antoine (Blue Murder, Four Brothers) joins the cast as Donnie Wahlberg’s best friend, Vic.  ]he show’s premise revolves around the Rader family.  They seem like the typical suburban family. Paul (Wahlberg) and his lovely wife, Lily, have a teenaged son and daughter, Henry and Hannah, and an eight-year old named Tommy. They're normal in every sense except for the dark secret they hold: Paul is a fugitive, and the entire family is running from the law.   Using pseudonyms, the family has recently settled in a small town and are doing their best to remain as inconspicuous as possible.   Unfortunately, the stress of the situation and constant moving has begun to take its toll on the family, especially for Henry, who misses his girlfriend and former life. Hannah, however, is finally fitting in with the rest of her peers, and has no desire to move.   Paul and Lily must continue to safeguard their family, in addition to monitoring the authorities that are hot on their heels. As the plot unfolds, we learn more about the events leading to Paul's flight.

West Point Honours Tom Brokaw

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Sep. 22, 2006) WEST POINT, N.Y. — Former NBC news anchor
Tom Brokaw has become only the second journalist to be honoured with a West Point military academy award.  The Sylvanus Thayer Award, named for West Point's fifth superintendent, is given to a U.S. citizen who exemplifies the ideals of the academy's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country." Former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite is the only other journalist to have received the award.  Past recipients include Gen. Douglas MacArthur, former president Ronald Reagan and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.  "To be — in just a small way — in that company means a great deal," Brokaw said Thursday.  Brokaw, 66, was an NBC news anchor for more than two decades until his retirement in 2004.  He was honoured partly for his contribution to the U.S. public's understanding of the Second World War through his books "The Greatest Generation" and "The Greatest Generation Speaks" and his work reporting from war zones.

Kym Whitley: Stand-Up's 'Stand-Off'

Excerpt from - By Kenya Yarbrough

(September 25, 2006) *
Kym Whitley has made a name for herself as the comedic supporting actress. After all – she is a comedian. The Ohio native stole the show in a number of TV shows and films including “Martin,” “The Parkers,” and who could forget her role as Suga in “Next Friday?” But now, the comic/actress is trading in her stand-up mic for juicier parts and transitioning into dramatic roles.  “I always want the challenge and I’m always looking for something new to do,” Whitley said of why she decided to make the change. “Being a stand-up comic and doing comedy all your life, it’s fun, but sometimes it gets simple – and a little boring. So going into another realm can be refreshing. It’s a new love, it’s exciting.” Whitley advised that people should definitely speak to the things they want and tell people what they’re interested in. She said that that’s how she got her first dramatic role – by letting industry-ites know that she was looking to add to her repertoire. And after finally breaking into drama, Whitley knew she had a few things to learn.  “My first dramatic role was with Vanessa Bell Calloway for a movie on BET. I played her best girlfriend. They met with me and said, ‘You know, it’s drama.’ So I had to cry. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to cry because I’m always laughing and joking. When it came down to it, I had to concentrate, I had to be sad all day – and I cried, but then I couldn’t stop crying.” Another way to score the roles you want? Have connections. Whitley had a good friend who’d written an episode for the new fall show “Standoff.”  “A friend of mine who’s a director, named Craig Ross (“Cold Case”), called me and said he had this script for a show called ‘Standoff’ and asked me to come in for the major part. I had to put it in God’s hands ‘cause they gave me 15 pages and I had to do it in 30 minutes. Later, they called me and asked if I wanted the part.”  “Standoff” is a hostage negotiation show starring Ron Livingston.  “It’s pretty intense,” she said of the show. “It was fun doing it, though it was a lot of work. I definitely want to do more drama.”  “Standoff” airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Fox. Whitley’s episode “The Accidental Negotiator,” written by Ross, airs tomorrow night.

Bob Hoskins cast in CBC's Vanderhaeghe Adaptation

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Guy Dixon

(Sept. 27, 2006) Toronto — Bob Hoskins has joined the cast of CBC-TV's adaptation of The Englishman's Boy. Based on Guy Vanderhaeghe's Governor-General's Award-winning novel, the two-part, four-hour miniseries is still being shot in Saskatchewan until Oct. 12. The British actor plays a Hollywood movie mogul who hires a Canadian writer, played by Michael Therriault (who starred in the CBC's Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story). The miniseries is being produced by Kevin DeWalt, who also produced Prairie Giant.

Ludacris Lands A BET Blueprint Special

Excerpt from

(September 27, 2006)  *BET’s “
Blueprint” special tonight at 8 p.m. will offer a candid interview with rapper/actor Ludacris to promote his new album, “Release Therapy.”   Airing at 8 p.m., the hour-long show will feature the artist discussing such topics as fatherhood, future movie deals, his new haircut, his issue with Oprah Winfrey and, of course, his new album.    In the wake of critical acclaim for his acting roles in such films as “Crash” and “Hustle & Flow,” Luda tells USA Today that he’s trying to balance his rapping and acting endeavours so that one doesn’t overpower the other.    “A lot of times when people start acting, something is lacking in their music when they go back to it,” said the rapper, who acts under his real name, Chris Bridges. “I'm trying to keep growing and taking my music to another level.”



Voyage Of The Glammed

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Simon Houpt

(Sept. 23, 2006) NEW YORK --
Joan Collins shoots a withering gaze and begins to turn away. "I just find it really, really boring to have these questions asked about me being a bitch all the time," she snaps. She's sitting in a dingy room lit by a bare fluorescent strip, shoehorning in a brief lunchtime interview during rehearsals for a play she's bringing to Toronto. She was already on edge when she walked in here because of a sleepless night on the red-eye back from the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, where she helped pay tribute to her late former boss, Aaron Spelling; she hasn't even had a moment to remove her eye makeup. And now she's apparently been assaulted by the B-word. "I have to say, I find the term incredibly offensive, actually." This is a surprise: first, because the word came up in reference to her notoriety for playing a certain kind of character, not in reference to her real self; and second, because the term was plucked from a website greeting penned by Collins herself, about a role she recently played in a British series. For that matter, she did happen to play the title role in the dreadful 1979 feature film The Bitch, adapted from one of her sister Jackie's novels. "Oh I suppose, as far as the public is concerned, they can only see [the bitch] because they haven't seen me play my nuns and my mission workers and my nurses and my poor middle-aged lady who's in love with a dog, which is what I just did in Hotel Babylon," shrugs Collins. "I'm afraid that's the public perception, and I've accepted that."

And the B-word is bound to come up again, in kaleidoscopic waves, as Collins vamps and tramps around the stage of the Royal Alexandra Theatre over the next several weeks in
Legends!, a play about a pair of duelling divas in the waning days of their careers. Audiences may have trouble separating the show's catty comedy from both reality and the decades-old gossip surrounding the two leading ladies. For not only does Collins play a (insert offensive noun here) in the play, she does so opposite Linda Evans. For those who slept through the 1980s, Evans is most famous for playing Krystle Carrington, the good-girl rival of Collins's (insert adjectival form of offensive noun here) character Alexis Carrington Colby in the nighttime soap Dynasty. The characters' verbal and physical brawls are the stuff of campy TV legend. The show's success meant the two stars spent much of the decade denying rumours of backbiting and trying to prove they were different from their characters. But during back-to-back interviews in New York, similarities to each of their most famous characters keep rising to the surface. Collins is curt and aloof, her laughter patronizing, her eyes narrow and penetrating; she presents herself as a jet-setter so in demand that she was only able to squeeze in seven weeks at her home in the south of France during the summer instead of the usual three months. Meanwhile, Evans enters smiling, puppy-dog eager, sharing details about her battles with insecurity and her advocacy work on behalf of numerous unglamorous causes (heart failure, osteoporosis, menopause, overactive bladder). "If you're a human being and you have a problem, I just want to help you out," she says compassionately. "I just go, 'Oh! What can we do for you?' It's just my nature. The empathy goes both ways: Her lips are puffy, perhaps from recent collagen treatment, an effect that conjures pity rather than allure. And Collins and Evans carry the contrasts into their onstage reunion in Legends! Some may see Collins's character Sylvia Glenn as a juicy swirl of the actress herself and some of her more -- um, yes: bitchy -- creations. Eight-times-married (Collins has wed five times, most recently to the 38-year-old Percy Gibson, one of the Legends! producers), Sylvia is a faded movie star who revels in her coarse on-screen reputation (having won a best- supporting-actor Oscar for playing a hooker) and cackles at the fate of a former rival whose corpse was found partially eaten by house cats. Her oldest rival is Leatrice Monsee (Evans), an actress who may actually be steelier than her nun-like reputation.

The ladies face off after a conniving producer prods them to see if they might be able to work together on a Broadway play. Act One concludes with a knock-down, drag-out fight of the sort that made Dynasty the top-rated drama in 1984-85. More juicy stuff: Theatre folk refer to Legends! as ill-fated partly because its original leading ladies, Carol Channing and Mary Martin, feuded backstage through a 12-month run that failed to end up on Broadway. The current revival began with Collins after her husband let another producer know she was interested in doing a play. She championed Evans for the other role because of "chemistry," she says. "You can't explain it, you can't say what it is, it's just there, and Linda and I had it from the first time we did Dynasty, and we knew it, and the public knew it, and that's one of the reasons I think that everyone loved Dynasty." At 73, Collins is a busy woman who continues to work where her whims take her, writing the occasional novel (her website describes her most recent paperback, Misfortune's Daughter, as "a thrilling family saga rich with sibling rivalry, insatiable ambition, eroticism and addiction"), television (including guest spots on the British series Footballers' Wives) and stage. She's done Broadway and the West End. Evans, on the other hand, hasn't worked much in 10 years. She all but retired from show business in the late 1990s, retreating to a 70-acre homestead in Washington State where she spent her energies building her dream home, designing the landscaping and a greenhouse. In between public-service announcements for various health issues affecting women, she urged women to not peg their self-esteem too closely to the accomplishments of their families. Which is ironic, given that Evans was always giving up work whenever a new man came along in her life. She and her first husband, John Derek, split in 1974, after six years of marriage, when he went off to become Svengali to Bo Derek. Two years later, Evans married a businessman named Stan Herman. The two divorced in 1981. Her most famous union since then was with the singer Yanni, a nine-year relationship that ended in 1998.

Since then, Evans has had a lot of time to think about what she wants to do with her remaining time. Which is partly what led her to take, at age 63, one of the biggest risks of her life: Legends! is her stage debut. "I've never done a play in my life, so everything in me said: 'Don't do it,' " she says. "Then I thought: 'Well, Linda, you tell everybody else: Go do something, go reinvent yourself. Why don't you do it?' And I thought: 'Oh my God, it's like jumping off a cliff.' But [director] John Bowab said he's going to catch me on the bottom." A nervous laugh slips out, unbridled. She's had no experience in projecting her voice, in acting with her full body (TV and film being focused on the eyes), in ignoring the unpredictable reactions of a live audience, or even in learning more than a couple of pages of dialogue at a time. "I have never done something complete," she gulps. "I would do scenes. Three minutes of this, three minutes of that, then: 'Can we do it over again?' I have never done anything from beginning to end. Everything about this -- being onstage, the fourth wall, everything, is like -- " she stops herself, then repeats merely: "Everything." "Ben Sprecher, the producer, called me, about a week before I came to New York," she says. "He said, 'There's this ride at Disneyland I take my kids to. And you wait for three hours to get into it, and you get in and the lady closes the door and says: It's too late to get out.' He says, 'I'm calling you: It's too late to get out.' " She shrugs at the possibility of bad reviews. "So they give me a rough ride? What's gonna happen? I'll still go on, have a wonderful life. We all recover from everything."

Soulpepper Spreads Its Wings

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -
Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Sep. 25, 2006) How do you top a season where you moved into a new theatre, earned rave reviews both for the space and the work performed in it, and wound up winning a Dora for Best Production of a Play?  Well, if you're Albert Schultz, the indefatigable artistic director of
Soulpepper Theatre Company, you just pull a few more dramatic rabbits out of your hat. The Star has an exclusive advance preview of what they're going to be:

· author/actor Ann-Marie MacDonald will return to the stage as part of the Soulpepper acting ensemble.
  Internationally acclaimed director Tim
· Albery, fresh from his Canadian Opera Company triumph staging Götterdämmerung, will mount the first musical in the company's history.
  David French's classic Canadian drama,
· Leaving Home, will have its first professional production in Toronto since its 1972 premiere.
· actor Kenneth Welsh will return to the Canadian stage after decades in film, television and on Broadway.

All of this is part of the ambitious playbill that Schultz will officially announce today, to herald Soulpepper's first full 12-month season in the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.  It begins on Jan. 24, 2007 with The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, to be directed by Albery.  "I want to try and capture its celebration of the worst in human nature," Albery explained, "the exhilarating pleasure it takes in people behaving really badly. It should have the feel of Berlin in the late '20s, of high inflation and low decadence, of a fight for survival in a time of moral chaos."  Schultz will appear as Mac- heath (a.k.a Mack the Knife) and renowned song-stylist Patricia O'Callaghan will play Polly. Members of the inaugural class of the Soulpepper Academy will make their first appearance of several during the season in this production.  Next is a co-production with Theatre Columbus of Ibsen's monumental late work, John Gabriel Borkman.  Leah Cherniak will direct a cast featuring Nancy Palk, Martha Ross and Michael Simpson, opening on March 28.  The first Toronto viewing in 35 years of French's groundbreaking Leaving Home will enter the repertory on April 30. Ted Dysktra will direct a cast headed by Welsh, Diane D'Aquila and Jeff Lillico.  "People have always asked us why we didn't do a Canadian classic before," says Schultz. "Well, we wanted to establish ourselves first and we can think of no better Canadian play to begin with than this one."

On May 19, Soulpepper's Dora Award-winning production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, directed by Joseph Ziegler, will be revived as one of the major events of the city's upcoming Luminato Festival.  Caryl Churchill's 1982 Top Girls opens on June 16, directed by Alisa Palmer, and it's this script that's lured MacDonald into the Soulpepper company.  "My own connection to the play goes back to the mid-'80s when I saw the Tarragon production," MacDonald recalled.  "The script was unlike anything I'd ever experienced with its combination of comedy, classical extravagance and a hard, spare naturalism, but it was seeing a stage full of heavy-hitting women that impressed me most of all. You just didn't see that many leading ladies all in one place, duking it out with mouthfuls of text.  "And of course I am excited and a little intimidated at the prospect of being in the show and sharing the stage with some of the strongest actors in Canada."  Running in repertory with Our Town over the summer is another piece of 1930s American drama, William Saroyan's The Time of Your Life.  Schultz will direct this sprawling story of hope and redemption, set in a sleazy San Francisco saloon.  Schultz concedes it might seem an odd time to do a piece of upbeat Americana.  But "even though right now, the zeitgeist is all about `f--k America,' Saroyan is saying that yes, there's things wrong with the country, but there's also some beautiful stuff there."

On Aug. 30, a new version of Chekhov's Three Sisters opens, created in collaboration between academy member Nicolas Billon and director László Marton, featuring veteran company members like Schultz and Diego Matamoros, along with members of the academy.  That will be followed by Joseph Ziegler directing Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart, featuring Susan Coyne, Stuart Hughes and Nancy Palk.  It will open on Sept. 27, 2007.  And closing the season, on Nov. 27, 2007, will be Noel Coward's classic comedy Blithe Spirit, with Morris Panych staging a company headed by Fiona Reid, and also including Brenda Robins and Ziegler.  "We think it's a challenging, as well as an entertaining season," concluded Schultz, "and we hope our audiences will feel the same."

Generous Has Stingy Payoff

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

By Michael Healey. Directed by Daryl Cloran. Until Oct. 29 at Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave. 416-531-1827

(Sep. 27, 2006) It might seem a bit early in the season for this particular metaphor, but watching Michael Healey's new play
Generous, which opened last night at the Tarragon Theatre, is like emptying out a stocking full of gifts on Christmas morning.  Some of them are funny, others are sad; some sparkle brightly, others fail to catch the light. You're impressed by the variety that's been put before you, but when all is said and done, you'd rather have one substantial gift, thoughtfully picked and carefully wrapped.  Healey has an interesting theme on his mind (how difficult it can be to do something good) and an intriguing way of structuring it (four plays that exist as separate entities in the first act and come together in the second). But although it might seem churlish to do so, it must be pointed out that very little in the evening's execution matches the originality of its concept.  We start with an outburst of pure Marx Brothers farce, as a minority government is scrambling to hold itself together in those hellish moments before a vote of non-confidence is taken. All the politicians are zany dolts and there's bloody violence as well, but it's all treated as part of the comedy.  It's a brilliant beginning, but it sets up a style that the evening never returns to. You keep aching for that stage filled with people, that mad comic energy to repeat itself, but no such luck.  What we get instead for most of the play are two-character scenes, well-acted but a bit attenuated, and each as eager as a nervous doctoral student to present its thesis.  Yanna McIntosh is hard and bright as any diamond, playing a female exec being interviewed by a wonderfully dweeby journalist (Tom Barnett). There's a dark twist to the scene, but once Healey lets it out of the bag, he doesn't know how to close the deal.  Next, Fiona Reid offers us a masterfully morose judge who has just stumbled out of bed with her perky law clerk, a charmingly upbeat Jordan Pettle. Once again, we uncover a morbid secret, and once again, the scene goes on long after we've gotten the point.  The act ends with a violent pas de deux between Michelle Monteith and Ari Cohen, which has neither good choreography, nor inspired fight direction.

You spend intermission wondering how Healey will put these pieces together in Act II, and you soon get the answer: far too neatly. We learn additional long-hidden secrets as characters slide from one scene to another, but we never return to that inspired farcical beginning. We wait for the circle to be closed, but it never is.  The script features both standard-issue Healey gags ("Canadian Tire — where retail goes to puke its guts out") and slightly more inspired observations ("Politics is short-term need couched in long-term language"), but it doesn't coalesce beyond a series of ideas and characters in search of a coherent whole.  Daryl Cloran's direction is fine at keeping things moving briskly, but when they slow down, he loses all sense of how to shape a scene properly. And Yannik Larivée's scenery isn't deft or clever enough for the play's numerous changes of locale.  McIntosh, Reid, Pettle and Barnett are especially good, but in the end, despite its good intentions, Healey's over-Generous script serves as a perfect definition of the phrase "too clever by half."


Toronto's Growing Sky High

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Christian Cotroneo, Staff Reporter

(Sep. 24, 2006) The only thing missing from this space-age city is ... space. From Scarborough in the east to Etobicoke in the west, between the upper fringes of North York and Lake Ontario to the south, the city is officially tapped out.  "All land has something on it," says Eric Pedersen, a program manager at Toronto's urban planning department. "We don't have any `green field' left."  The new mission? To boldly grow where we've already gone before.  "What we're talking about now is intensification."  In cities around the world, the terms may change — smart cities, New Urbanism, compact cities — but the idea is the same: turn strip malls, parking lots and one- or two-storey buildings into places where ever more people can live, work and play.  Build upward, instead of outward. Cue the condominium.  "Basically all that we're doing is building condos right now," Pedersen says. "That's what the market is saturated with."  And, at least on paper, that's a good thing. Up with the subway; down with cars and the city-choking pollution they bring. People can live and work and play in the same civic sphere. Better to live in Manhattan, one might say, than Markham.  We're certainly buying that, as highrise condos, even those with expressway vistas, are being bought up in record numbers.  According to the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association, 2,397 highrise condos were sold this past June alone — about 44 per cent better than in that month the previous year, and an all-time sales high. It works out to one new highrise unit sold every four minutes in Toronto.  Blame it on the young. The baby-boom echo generation is flooding the city looking for cheap accommodation.  "When you're young you can only afford small spaces," says David Foot, author of the bible on demographics, Boom, Bust & Echo. "And you enjoy noise and action. That's what urban intensification gives you."  As you age, you might like the city a little less, well, intense. Thirty- and 40-year-olds, Foot notes, tend to gravitate toward semi-dense environments in the suburbs that they feel are best for raising kids.  "People in their 50s and 60s want more peace and quiet," he continues. "And they want less density in general." But many of them will still buy into the highrise scene, he adds, because they want to enjoy the entertainment the city offers.

Expect to find them living, however, in larger spaces and on higher floors where the noisy grind of street life is a little more subdued. Also, expect them to be complaining about the noise the most.  But in the end, Foot observes, we all head to the same close quarters. "You get to your 70s and 80s and you're more likely to need care — and care then involves coming back to more dense environments and ultimately the nursing home."  Think of it as the circle of urban life. But a compact city reveals itself in more than age. It also tends to be more diverse, if not economically, at least ethnically.  "Immigrants both tend to be young and they tend to be starting in their careers," Foot says. "So immigrants tend to go into those environments too. For certain immigrant communities, the community is very, very important to maintaining their identity. Some ethnicities are more willing to trade privacy and space for community."  Somewhere in the crunch, some people may be trading even more — their ties to the city at large.  "A lot of the condos today are really vertical gated communities," says urban planner and York University professor Gerda Wekerle.  They come complete with a gatekeeper (a.k.a. concierge), swimming pool, gym, movie theatre and whatever your monthly condo fees can buy.  "We don't really know if these folks are getting widely involved," Wekerle adds. "We're assuming that they really want to be in the city and use everything there is in the city, but there's not much data because all of this has been happening so quickly."  In the background there's a steady, persistent refrain from developers and urban planners: density is good.

"It's over and over and over again," Wekerle says. "It's a concerted attempt to reshape the way we think about what's happening in the city."  Wekerle has spent much of her career studying high-density issues, namely the mile-high monument to intensification known as the residential highrise, whether it's condos or apartments.  And it's led her to challenge the idea that if you plunk a condo down somewhere in the city, you can call it a neighbourhood.  "These folks who move into a 30-storey building, do they get involved in the neighbourhood? Do they care what the parks are like and the street?  "If a lot more people end up in places where the services are privatized and they pay for them ... are they really going to care about public services? Are they going to make an effort? Are they going to become part of the wider community?"  Leslie Kern, a York PhD student writing a dissertation on first-time condo buyers, shares those concerns. "There are certain neighbourhoods that are just condos, like the Harbourfront," she says.  "There's no reason to go there unless you live there. It's just kind of taking up space, but not necessarily integrating itself into the community ...  "They're increasingly privatized spaces," she adds. "People are, in many ways, encapsulated in their own buildings.  "In a way, it's kind of allowing the city to back off a little bit from its responsibilities for providing public spaces."  The jury is still out on whether all these freshly minted developments will transform into bona fide neighbourhoods. But some developers, at least, are beginning to look beyond their own walls.  When completed, CityPlace will parachute some 18,000 new residents into its 20 highrises, half-dozen low-rises and 100 townhouses along Lake Shore Blvd., from Bathurst to the Rogers Centre.  So far, it's unoccupied, with only the eastern side almost complete. But the development would seem the ultimate model, for better or worse, of intensity.

"They have done a number of things to try and reach out to the outside community as well as those that are living within," says Vickie Griffiths of Vicbar Marketing, who has been or is currently a consultant for a wide range of developments, from CityPlace to Malibu to Liberty Village.  CityPlace will include an eight-acre park, accessible to the public, as well as a daycare facility that's open to residents and non-residents.  But not everyone is enthusiastic about the incoming residential juggernaut.  In July, digging at CityPlace ground to a temporary halt after someone poured dirt into gas tanks and air filters of the earthmoving equipment. About $2 million in damages later, an anonymous emailer from the "Earth Liberation Front" claimed responsibility for the act of urban sabotage.  It may have been an isolated and extreme act, but protests prompted by other highrise developments throughout the city indicate that some citizens emphatically are not on the compact-city bandwagon.    The question lingers: can this brand of intensification actually fill not only physical space, but also social space on the urban landscape?  Ultimately, Toronto isn't going to get all worked up overnight. Intensification has historically been a series of fits and jerks.  A boom in the 1960s and early '70s, for instance, saw the rise of St. Jamestown, Flemingdon Park and Yonge and Davisville. Highrises don't exactly evolve into their current state. St. Jamestown practically fell from the sky in 1968, blasting away scores of single-family dwellings and getting intense all at once. Indeed, the mini-metropolis towering south of Bloor, between Sherbourne and Parliament, remains Canada's densest area. Some 35,000 souls share the same square kilometre. All the rush to grow upward startled more than a few people.  In 1972, mayor David Crombie enacted a 45-foot height limit. "The worry was that downtown was going to be completely torn down for tall buildings," says Pedersen of the city's urban planning department.  "We're past that now. The neighbourhoods that are low-scale are protected. We're not tearing down neighbourhoods. Our intensification tends to be happening on vacant parking lots or very under-utilized sites, which have very low-scale buildings in areas that could be much higher."

Indeed, Pedersen says about three-quarters of the city doesn't qualify for intensification, being either stable residential low-rises (houses), parks or cemeteries.  He notes that the main candidates for intensification are the downtown core, the centres of North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke, and along major arteries, especially northern stretches of Yonge and Bathurst, as well as parts of Bayview, McCowan and Wilson, collectively called the avenues.  Katie Williams, a professor and author at the Oxford Centre for Sustainable Development in England, says intensification packs in a lot of benefits with all those people. There's land conservation, "because you're getting a lot of people on a small plot of land."  And there are financial benefits through increasing the local economic capacity of the area. "What happens when you intensify an area is you keep the money circulating in the local economy for longer," Williams says.  There's some question about the social benefits.  "You could argue that it's meeting some sort of housing need, although if private condos are that expensive, they're probably not meeting a social housing need or an affordable housing need.  "But I doubt if they're contributing to improving social inclusion or anything like that."  So an intense city is youthful, diverse and maybe a little cramped, with perhaps some pockets disconnected from the rest of the metropolis. One social benefit may be safety.  "In denser areas, where there is a greater street life, we generally think of those as having greater safety," says Connie Guberman, a professor at the University of Toronto specializing in urban planning and design for personal safety, "because there's more people doing things."  Safety begins at the planning phase, not just for highrises but for any neighbourhood.  Lighting, Guberman says, is vital. Then there's signage — do you know where you are and how to get to where you want to go? Because you don't want to be feeling, or even appearing, disoriented.  In the past, Guberman has worked with New York City transit, helping create safe environments in the system. She considered not only the movement of people, but also the message the city wanted to convey to the public — "Is this is a caring community? Do we know where to report something if we witness something that makes us feel uncomfortable or if something happened to us?"  What about managers at subway stations, "so there's "someone with an official presence to show that the institution or the subway or the train station cares, and if something is happening, there's someone to go to.  "The most important measure is to show that we are a community — that in every pocket or neighbourhood or park or streetscape, there are people who connect with each other. There's someone somewhere you can go to if you have a problem. And that gives a message to folks who want to do bad things, that they're going to be seen doing it."  One thing that's certain here in Toronto: everything we know about the shape of our city is likely to change.  Cities are always in flux, ever evolving toward new models as they grow. Williams calls the next urban phase polycentrism.

A city of 10 million, for instance, would have more than one big centre, with city planners increasing density around each urban capital.  "That's more efficient and realistic for travel purposes and for making for small neighbourhoods," Williams says.  The city's official plan, a 110-page publication released in 2002, is already preaching the gospel of polycentrism, dividing Toronto into urban centres — Downtown, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and Yonge-Eglinton.  North York Centre, the plan notes, is focused on three subway stations on its Yonge St. spine. Thanks to ready connections with downtown, the centre boasts a major concentration of office space. Those offices, the plan notes, are expected to grow alongside a "vibrant residential and cultural centre."  But, as University of Toronto professor and transportation engineering expert Eric Miller hastens to warn, sometimes the problem isn't so much what changes when a city compacts, but what doesn't change.  "I think it's easy to get lost in the rhetoric," he says. "The concept is fine, but are you doing the full package of transit, walkability and mixed use to go with the density that makes it all work?  "If they are just mega-apartment buildings, from a transportation perspective, they're just going to generate flows out in the morning and flows in the evening and may not contribute much to balanced transportation.  Indeed, Miller says that without bulking up on transit, the effects of all that density could be exactly what we are supposed to be guarding against — actually increasing car traffic in particularly developed areas.  "Much of what's been going on in Toronto for a long time, it's kind of living off the existing capacity that was put in place quite a while ago."  Fortunately, compared to other major cities, Toronto is still in the earliest phases of intensity, with plenty of room to chart its trajectory. At present, there are just 2,650 people per square kilometre.  By contrast, witness Kabul, Afghanistan, with about 14,350 people per square kilometre. In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, it gets a little more extreme, with 32,550 people staking out each square kilometre.  Hong Kong takes top prize with 44,511 people occupying a single square kilometre.

But ultimately, as the pot thickens in Toronto, will it be a city we can recognize, or even make a connection with?  The most important measure is to show that we are a community, says Guberman, that in every pocket or neighbourhood or park or streetscape, there are people who connect with each other.  For highrise dwellers, be it condos or apartment complexes, the message may be simple: come down from the tower.  Guberman recalls a striking example of how a handful of downtown highrise dwellers created community out of nearly nothing at all.  Their building lobby was a daily scene of drug deals and people sleeping on the floor. Originally, residents, mostly senior citizens, clamoured for cameras.  "It will get the perpetrators, but it won't prevent the crime," Guberman says.  So what did these seniors come up with?  "They play bridge twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They brought their bridge table down to the lobby of the building.  "Not only did folks that didn't want to be around the bridge players leave, but a whole new community developed because everyone who came home said, `What are you doing? Why are you playing bridge down here?' And they started talking to their neighbours in a new way.  "Often we look at the high-tech solutions or the increased police presence when sometimes it's really about putting in the effort to create a caring community," Guberman concludes. "I know that sounds hokey or old-fashioned, but it really is what makes a difference."

Farley Mowat - The Unrepentant Misanthrope

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Sarah Hampson

(Sept. 23, 2006) CAPE BRETON, N.S. —
Farley Mowat parks himself in a wooden Adirondack chair on a grassy knoll near his house in River Bourgeois, Cape Breton. His safari shirt, his khaki multipocketed shorts, his heavy lace-up hiking boots, and the hat, a crinkled soft-straw Stetson, together give him the appearance of an age-defiant trekker who will bravely set out across any landscape, however harsh. The landscape of choice for this sunny September afternoon is time, his career, his Canadian icon-hood, and the bumpy terrain of his literary reputation. At 85, Mowat moves across it nimbly. His only equipment is a glass of vodka and cranberry juice. “You're interested in how I see myself in the panoply of Canadian writers, eh?” he says, rephrasing my question. “I couldn't give a shit!” he spits with a laugh. “I couldn't care less. I don't! I used to care. But I don't any more.” The feisty response is vintage Mowat. He may be Canadian, but polite and passive he is not. Still, this is a new Mowat in some ways. He appears to take no offence at the questioning of his literary record. He looks at me squarely through his large glasses without a cloud of concern passing over his elfin face. Difficult questions are flies upon his back that he simply swishes away, unfazed.

Even his latest book, Bay of Spirits: A Love Story, which hits bookstores today, suggests a change of mood. In an account of the period that he and his second wife, Claire, spent in Newfoundland at the start of their romance in the early sixties, it is a nostalgic, sweeter Mowat we encounter, not the one we have come to expect: the writer who narrates from a pulpit about the ways we have failed nature. He and Claire were aboard a boat named Happy Adventure, and that is exactly what this memoir is — a journey back into a joyous time in his life. “Up until a few years ago,” he says, describing the book's back story, “I still thought that there might be some hope for the human race, the human species. “And I was willing to go on being a preacher and flailing away at the injustices of life, but somewhere, quite recently, it dawned on me that I was wasting my time, and I didn't have a lot of time left to waste. And what do I want to do?” He pauses for a swig of his drink. “I had to go on writing, because I wouldn't be able to go on without writing. It is the only function that works for me, and without a function, we die.  “But what the hell was I going to write? The things I wrote about [in the past] were always close to my heart, but there was always a message, and there was hidden and not-so-hidden preaching. This time I didn't want to do that at all. I just wanted to re-experience a time and a way of life that was pleasantly memorable.” The memoir was to have begun in 1945, when Mowat returned to Canada after serving in the Second World War. But when he'd written it as far as the Newfoundland adventure, “1957 or thereabouts, I found myself far more interested in what was to come than in what I had written. And I lost interest in the whole earlier period.” He had written 50,000 words, but he set aside the earlier chapters and concentrated on what he says was a love affair with many things: with Newfoundland, its people and animals, his boat (“a strange love-hate affair,” he chortles), his beloved dog, Albert, and “not least of all” he adds, with Claire.  “I hit warm water,” he says of the momentum he felt when he was writing about this period in his life. “Immediately, I felt better and I was full of energy and I could swim like bloody mad. I could cross an ocean.”

Mowat is known for charting his way across far choppier seas. He has been writing since 1949, and with sales of his books at over 40 million copies in 25 countries (his work has been translated into 52 languages), he is one of Canada's most successful writers.  But his best-known books, the ones that catapulted him to fame at the start of his career, notably People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf, are both beloved and ridiculed. In 1996, now-defunct Saturday Night magazine published a damaging, well-researched profile of Mowat by John Goddard that outlined how he had fudged the facts in his accounts of having lived and worked in the Canadian Arctic. Farley Mowat, to many people, is known as Hardly Knows It. They think of him in the way he was depicted on the magazine's infamous cover shot: with a digitally enhanced Pinocchio nose. “That hurt,” he says calmly of the attack. “It sure did. It was a bad year. But the recovery didn't take too long. I felt badly about it for probably six months,” he avers, looking out placidly from beneath the rim of his hat.  “Then I began to realize that I was just lacerating myself. This guy hadn't hurt me!” he says of Goddard. “I was making myself miserable, and in that case, he was winning! So screw him!” Still, most mentions of Mowat include an acknowledgment of the criticism. It is a burden his legacy will always carry. (Mowat wrote a rebuttal to the article, but it was weak, and although many defended him and his brand of “subjective journalism,” the scar has never faded.)  Does he feel it affected his reputation? “If it did, it's not apparent to me,” he declares. “It doesn't affect me directly.” He remains silent for a moment, swilling the bits of ice in his glass. “It may have affected my reputation,” he continues after the pause. “But I don't give a damn about my reputation any more. The only thing that could really touch me from the human audience right now would be an individual rejection. If somebody came to me and said, ‘Farley, you are dead wrong about who we are and what we are,' I would be upset. I would feel I'd missed the target. Rejection by an individual [reader] can hurt as much as it ever did, but rejection or criticism by that great amorphous mass called public opinion is now less than meaningful to me.”

Mowat has always had contempt for the human animal — “Basically, we are turning ourselves into total aliens in the womb that gave us life,” he says of our environmental behaviour — but his misanthropy seems now to have extended to all spheres of human endeavour, including the literary establishment. “I never won a Governor-General's Award, you know,” he blurts out at one point. “Oh, I did for a juvenile [ Lost in the Barrens, Mowat's first novel, written in 1956, won in the category of children's literature]. But I never won for a major work of non-fiction.”  Does that bother him? “No,” he booms. “But it used to. I used to think, ‘What's the matter with me?' But now it doesn't. The whole academic structure of rating writers strikes me as the height of inanity!” He acknowledges that writers' egos make them care about awards. “No doubt,” he offers in an offhand manner. “That attitude has served me as well. But I don't need it any more. I have dispensed with it. It's like taking off a suit of armour.” Mowat sits atop that lovely pinnacle of age, a wrinkled sage with his long, scraggly beard, surveying a view that is far-reaching and wide. He sees himself as a younger man in that vista as well, and is unafraid to criticize him for his own human shortcomings. “It was an act of cowardice, and I admit it without any problem,” he says, while on the subject of People of the Deer and the way he manipulated the facts. In the book, his first, he told of travelling to the North, west of Hudson Bay, to locate a remote community of Inuit who supposedly lived exclusively on caribou. He wrote that he lived among them for two years and that they were starving to death. He blamed trappers, missionaries, and managers of the Hudson's Bay Company, as well as the Canadian government, for their shameful demise. But documents in his own archival material at McMaster University in Hamilton, made available in 1996, showed that he hadn't spent as much time as he said he did in the Arctic, and that he was accompanied on his travels by other field-biology workers. “I'd just come through a heavy war,” Mowat explains now. “I had learned about cowardice. I'd become a coward. That's how I survived. “If I had been your average brave guy, I'd have been dead 10 times. So I learned about cowardice. It's one of the essentials in survival. It isn't there for fun. So I applied it with People of the Deer. I wouldn't do it now. I haven't got anything to lose now. But then, I did.

“The route I took was evasive because I was afraid of legal action. I was nervous about the Hudson's Bay Company. I was nervous about the RCMP. I was certainly nervous about the government and both the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church, who were also the great powers of the Arctic. I had taken all of them on. So I was trying to hedge my bets. Wherever I thought I could do it, I was evasive about dates, times, places, names. I didn't adhere to the journalistic principle that you get every fact exactly as it was. The facts became less important to me than what I was doing and the greater truth I was trying to illuminate. “They could have made mincemeat out of me. Some things that I exposed, if I had specified who did it and why and how they did it, I would have been cut into little tiny bits and hung out to dry.” Mowat tells me this without fanfare, not to defend himself so much as to practise his principle of greater truth. He is approaching the end of his human life, and he forgives himself for the indulgences, good or bad, that he made along the way. He is happy in his wrinkled, pale skin and in his habitat. For almost six months of the year, he and Claire — who says her own writing (memoirs and children's fiction) is greatly influenced by her husband, and the direct result of his encouragement — live on this rocky shore. For the winter, they return to their house in Port Hope, Ont. So today, think of this Canadian icon swaying in his hammock, legs splayed, under a tree, in the late afternoon, after his post-lunch nap. Or think of him in the morning at his desk in the studio loft in the guest cottage. The fabric of his chair is repaired with silver duct tape. There's a feeder at his window so he can watch birds come and go. There are notes for an autobiography thumb-tacked to a bulletin board. His typewriter, an ancient Underwood, sits under a linen dishtowel that has a calendar on it of 1976. Think of Mowat however you want. He is as content as his dog, Chester, who dances for his supper and sleeps blissfully in the sun. When Mowat takes him for a walk around the property, he tells me, he even joins him in marking his territory with a nice, leisurely pee. “That's what trees are for,” he says.

Heritage Cuts Rock Regional Museums

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Val Ross And James Adams

(Sept. 27, 2006) After Monday's announcement that
Minister of Canadian Heritage Bev Oda would be making cuts to her department — $4.6-million of which would be coming from the Museums Assistance Program (MAP) over the next two years — panicked e-mails crisscrossed the country. Michael Robinson, director of Calgary's Glenbow Museum, called the announcement “an ill-advised cut [to] one of the best-run federal programs.” Earlier this month, his institution finally received word it would receive close to $100,000 from MAP to develop an exhibition for 2009 called Power, Politics and Patronage: Sir Cornelius William Van Horne and the Railway Artists. The money is being used to hire a senior curator and researchers for a book. “It's difficult to find private-sector support for those kinds of research costs. That's why MAP is so valuable.” While national and flagship provincial museums pursue ambitious expansion plans, Canada's regional institutions have lobbied for three decades for increased funding for MAP to pay for everything from upgrading exhibitions and hiring curators to conserving artefacts. Launched in 1972, the program was originally worth $7.5-million; it's now around $10-million. Whatever the fund's size, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage last week passed a motion urging Ottawa to adopt a report calling for an increase in MAP funding to properly service the needs of Canada's 2,500 small and regional museums, which welcome more than 55 million visitors each year. Reached yesterday at his Ottawa office, committee chair Gary Schellenberger, Conservative MP from Perth-Wellington, admitted that he was “somewhat surprised” and “a little disappointed” by the cuts.

The cuts mean soul-searching at the Canadian Museums Association (CMA), the sector's deeply frustrated lobbying agency, which has been pressing for years for hikes to MAP funding. For Dean Bauche, director of the Allen Sapp and Chapel Galleries in North Battleford, Sask., “the shake-up has to come at the level of the politicians and the Canadian public ... As far as I am able to see, the fault doesn't lie with the constituents of the CMA or its administration.”  Celine Périllat, director of the Duck Lake Regional Interpretation Centre in Batoche, Sask., was in the midst of dealing with sprinkler problems that had left water all over her museum's maintenance room floor when she was asked to comment on the MAP cuts. Last year, a MAP grant enabled Duck Lake to, among other things, repair its collection of 100-year-old aboriginal beadwork. “Our building needs $80-million worth of repairs,” Périllat said. “We relied on MAP for our research and conservation.” Ottawa cut MAP as part of a $1.1-billion government-wide reduction in spending, and said it was targeting programs that were “inefficient” and “underspent.” “That's malarkey,” said the museum association's director John McAvity yesterday. Some CMA members have waited since last November to learn if their applications for MAP funds would be approved, he said. Yesterday's cut has put a big question mark beside a plan by the Diefenbaker Canada Centre in Saskatoon to mount an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary next year of John Diefenbaker's election as a Progressive Conservative prime minister. Acting director Teresa Carlson said the cut “is definitely going to curtail our abilities.” As Périllat finished mopping the maintenance room floor at Duck Lake, she observed, “If small-town museums can't preserve their collections, they will have to sell them ... We've been to a couple of small museum auctions already.”

United They Dance From Isles

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Dance Writer


Choreographed by L'Antoinette Stines. Until tomorrow at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis St. 416-504-7529

(Sep. 22, 2006_ Fresh — really fresh — out of Kingston, Jamaica,
L'Acadco is a "United Caribbean Dance Force" to be reckoned with.  Founded in 1978 by L'Antoinette Stines, L'Acadco (an abbreviation of her first name and Caribbean Dance Company) draws its performers from all over the Caribbean, but speaks pure Jamaican. These very dynamic individuals are skilled in ballet, West African, Latin American and modern dance. Stines fuses these disparate styles in unique ways.  The opening number, A Tribute to Bogle, is named for a dance hall innovator and has the women in short sassy ruffled skirts over dainty heeled mules. Three super-charged men swap partners and sweep the women off their feet.  The music is a mamba or a samba, or some infectious rhythm, while the dancing is jive mixed with salsa, blended with Lindy Hop and acrobatics.  That's followed with a more sombre piece, in which the performers wear purple and mustard cotton in traditional African dress. The men get down in one-armed, sideways lifts off the floor. The projections of high windows with bars over them suggests an allusion to the age of slavery and a long history of suffering in the New World. 

The costumes and set for Hounfor of the Drums evoke a jungle in Africa, as does the corps of djembe drummers and the yelping and upbeat dancing. This dance is a tribute to the spirits of all living things that inhabit the earth, and plays host to Yoruba gods. Toronto has its Afro-Caribbean drum groups, but this is really superior drumming. As is Kum in Adis, an all-male drumming sequence led by Aaron Abaofune Vereen.  Last week at the Toronto International Film Festival, Perry Henzell's film out of Jamaica, No Place Like Home, ran with subtitles over the actors' patois. There was laughter from the Jamaicans in last night's audience reacting to recorded narrative and stage dialogue in Body Ridims to Bob. But the words might as well have been a foreign language to the rest of the audience. An a capella version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" proved these performers sing as well as they dance and drum.  Satta, danced in front of a backcloth depicting a pastoral scene, displayed elements of belly dance out of Egypt, as a group of women dancers honoured their female ancestors. The movement was very slow and quite angular. It went on well past the point where the point was taken.  L'Acadco is making its first visit to Canada. It shouldn't be its last.

A Canadian Witness To New Orleans' Demise

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Goddard

(Sep. 23, 2006) NEW YORK—With tonnes of art representing the world's great cities already in its halls and vaults, the
Metropolitan Museum of Art is now dealing with work from an ex-Montrealer.  Make that two ex-Montrealers. One is Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the eighth son of a French Canadian pioneer who founded New Orleans in 1718. The other is Robert Polidori, the New Yorker staff photographer born in Montreal in 1951, who rushed to the city a year ago this month after Hurricane Katrina forced half a million people to flee their homes. Le Moyne made plans for a great city. Polidori gives witness to its demise.  A third Canadian makes a rather indirect appearance in the Met's "New Orleans after the Flood: Photographs by Robert Polidori": Neil Young.  Interior views of ravished rooms illuminate much of the Met show, which is the nucleus of a larger collection found in the large-format photography book, Robert Polidori: After the Flood (Steidl Verlag, around $120). One image in particular, 1923 Lamanche Street New Orleans, Louisiana, March 2006, shows a tattered American flag propped up against a great pile of debris in a mound in a wrecked living room. Polidori calls the image his "Neil Young cover."  Polidori doesn't do album cover work although a Berlin band — he can't remember its name — plans to use one of his images. So it's extremely unlikely that this meticulously photographed melee on Lamanche Street, with its hint of stars-and-stripes Yankee pride, will end up wrapped around a collection of Young tunes. Yet Polidori is right about this stagy image. It is Neil Young-like, gloriously pumped up, cranky and jaggedly engaging with just enough Surrealism in the mix — the rifle just laying there, the hanging lights — to pump up the volume.  "What we're dealing with here," says Polidori who sounds like an old-time baseball manager when he speaks, "is the image of extreme unction or last rights for the stuff itself, for the emblems of things, for mementos left by people, for the chosen moments of individual lives. It's about the people who say, `I lost all my stuff. And I ain't buyin' new stuff.'"

New Orleans after the Flood" is emotional, not analytical, proactive, not reflective. Responding to New Orleans' show-business sensibility, Polidori frames each chosen image of the Katrina disaster as if all the wrecked stuff is having one last turn in the spotlight.  Polidori doesn't "show" anything, though. The photographer illuminates what is already there. For instance, he noticed how the storm posed the battered white car in 2732 Orleans Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana, Sept. 2005 exactly in front of the battered wood frame "Creole" home, so named for its double identity due to the two different families living next to one another.  "I picked the houses (to photograph) that were somehow more telling than the others, houses that are just a little bit more damaged than the others although you don't see the damage. I framed the (large-scale images) in an emotionally evocative way. Remember, I lived in New Orleans for two years. I moved there after (the Beatles') Rubber Soul came out (in 1965). I left just before Sgt. Peppers came out (in 1967). It was a formative time for me."  For its part, the Met — hardly the centre of dissidence — is remarkably direct about "what went wrong in New Orleans," according to an introductory essay for "After the Flood," written by museum curator Jeff Rosenheim, who notes the "cronyism, gross fraud and corruption" that distinguishes both the federal and local responses to the Katrina disaster.  "The Met is dedicated to following artists wherever they may take us," Rosenheim tells me as we tour the Polidori show. "We don't define a subject for an artist, or a series for an artist. We respond."  Polidori's earlier suite of Chernobyl photographs, taken over the three-day period in 2001 he spent on the site of the April 26, 1986 Ukraine nuclear disaster, is overtly politicized. "In Chernobyl, the places I sought out were public spaces," he says, "the kindergarten, the high school and the hospital, places where the superego was involved, places where the government was involved.  "But not in New Orleans. I didn't go to hospitals. I didn't concentrate on those kinds of places because New Orleans was not a company town, like Pripyat (the Chernobyl site). New Orleans was not just about Dixieland music. It's so much more.  "Is this being political? I hate Bush. But is this his fault? I don't think so. Most of the people are not dead in New Orleans. But for 60 per cent of the residents of the city, the course of their chosen life has been altered and they've been de-rooted, not just from their habit, but also from the rest of their lives."

Isolation Shapes Novelist's Work

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

(Sep. 25, 2006)
Kiran Desai does not seem like an angry woman. Dressed in a beautiful brown wrap dress, her voice as high and quiet as a young girl's, the first impression the 35-year-old novelist presents is of shyness — or humility.  And perhaps those are qualities she possesses. But listen closely to what she is saying and a very different impression arises. Desai is not just troubled about the state of the world. She is enraged.  "Is it really such a brave new world?" asks the novelist on a recent afternoon in Manhattan, her brow crinkling. "I don't know if anybody would say so right now, but when I look at globalization right now it seems like a very old story. And it seems pretty rotten."  These sentiments are shared by the cast of her powerful second novel, The Inheritance of Loss, which is being touted as a favourite for the Man Booker Prize, to be announced Oct. 10.  Set in the 1980s in a remote Himalayan village, the book revolves around a society of people for whom leave-taking has been a way of life, for whom arrival has almost always meant the shattering of a dream.  Take Jemubhai, the book's cantankerous, aging central figure. Raised in a small Bengali village, he was sent off to Cambridge, all his family's hopes and dreams travelling with him.  In flashbacks, Desai shows how he was ridiculed for his accent, and became so shy he could barely walk to the grocery store for tea and milk. He returned to India embittered and confused about his place in society.

As the book opens, Jemubhai takes in his wayward niece Sai, while his last remaining servant has managed to send his son Biju to the U.S.  Desai ably splices stories from Biju's life into the narrative. In New York City, Biju bounces from one restaurant job to the other, landing at an Indian café where he sleeps on the dining tables at night, wrapped in a tablecloth.  "The immigrant community here constantly tell you they are the most successful immigrants, economically," Desai says, sitting at a table at SoHo House in Manhattan, "but we are also the poorest of immigrants, which of course is not talked about."  Through the story of Biju, The Inheritance of Loss vividly recreates this invisible world: the successful often taking advantage of weaker, new immigrants, the fight to stay alive.  In one grimly funny scene, Biju scrambles to be first to the visa counter at the U.S. embassy: "Biggest pusher, first place," Desai writes, "how self-contented and smiling he was; he dusted himself off, presenting himself with the exquisite manners of a cat. I'm civilized, sir, ready for the U.S., I'm civilized, mam."  In another scene, one of Biju's roommates ducks the calls of newly arrived emigrants from Zanzibar, who have spoken to his parents back home and been assured their son will provide shelter and jobs. "Immigration is not this sunny thing where each day gets sunnier," Desai says. "A lot of times it's about throwing people overboard so you can stay."  Desai has never had to struggle like this, but she has seen it. "Part of the book started when I was living at 123rd St. in Harlem," she says. "I remember there was a bakery nearby very much like the one I write about and a lot of the characters are from knowing the people up there — and talking to them."

Desai can relate to feeling trapped, however. She grew up in Delhi when that town felt cut off from the world.  "There was the feeling that books were the only thing that led you to the world," she says. "You read really hard; that was the only thing you could do."  In this regard she was taking after her mother, Anita Desai, the three-time Booker finalist.  Desai remembers how things were for Indian writers before The God of Small Things hit bestseller lists, before Salman Rushdie was scooping up million-dollar advances. Back then Indian writing was decidedly unglamorous.  "When my mother was writing it was a very different world. There was no literary scene. There were no moneyed book tours. She just sent out the manuscripts to the addresses she got from the backs of books, even until the '80s."  Like Sai, Desai was packed off to a remote Himalayan village for a year — in her case, to live with an aunt — and the place left an impression.  "It's awful, it's isolating, in the middle of the monsoon you get reduced to nothing all over again, especially if you are poor."  In the book, the anger and resentment of being trapped this way spills over to a homegrown resistance movement for Kashmir, which draws Sai's well-educated, middle-class tutor away from her and into a much more dangerous endeavour. Today it would be called terrorism.  "Why is there so much violence?" she wonders rhetorically. "Why is there so much anger? It's not surprising at all. The gap between the rich and the poor is greater than it's ever been, and sometimes the angriest people are the people who have seen both sides."  Again, Desai would fit this description. It took her eight years to write this novel, and along the way she says she learned the habit of solitude, moving around, living cheaply by herself and often around people who were poor.  Emerging from this cocoon once again, Desai may look the part of the glamorous young novelist, but she is doubly distrustful of the hullabaloo, because she knows it has nothing to do with the writing.  "Who is going to write an honest book? To look at something straight takes a lot of work. So who is going to do it? It's much more fun to go to a literary festival and drink champagne or whatever, attend a conference and have a fantastic time. There's no better time to be a writer in that sense. You get so many goodies thrown at your head. You are writing for Travel & Leisure and eating sushi for breakfast."  Meanwhile, the real stories for this writer are those of the people serving the food.

Angelo Ellerbee -- Imagemaker and Educator

Excerpt from - By Deardra Shuler

(September 26, 2006)  *Energy, excitement, and enthusiasm radiate from
Angelo Ellerbee, the Founder, President, and CEO of the company Double Xxposure, when he talks about his Artist Development Program and his business philosophy.  Ellerbee is a man who knows his way around the entertainment industry whether via the electronic media, dance, fashion, music, promotion, publicity, management, image development, and marketing.  His is a full service business; one he learned via many a trial by fire. His trials proved a hidden blessing that allowed him to hone his craft and aptly guide the careers of his diverse clientele. Mr. Ellerbee is not shy about letting you know that God is the captain of his ship and the director of his life.  He believes in the Golden Rule and has fashioned an entire company around the principle of bettering his fellow man, whether it be a celebrity or the average Joe.   Raised by a single parent, his mother encouraged him to help support the household early on. “I grew up in Newark, New Jersey, the greatest city in the world as far as I am concerned.  My mother challenged me to make sensible decisions, be the best I could be, and elevate my life,” explained the entrepreneur and image maker.

“I have done a lot of things in my life.  I wanted to act and I appeared in Bubbling Brown Sugar.  I wanted to dance and did so and even modeled in France.  My clothing was carried in Henri Bendel.  I actually started off working in a beauty salon wherein the tips I made allowed me to start my business in the basement of my home” recalled the marketing expert. Mr. Ellerbee is not fond of the word “StarMaker” but prefers to see himself as an “Image-maker,” an educator who instructs his clientele how to build their careers step-by-step and rise to their full potential. He has guided and managed the careers of people like Mary J. Blige, DMX, Fabolous, Gladys Knight, James Mtume, Dionne Warwick, Melba Moore, Nina Simone and over 5000 others in the course of his nearly 30 year old business.  In the true tradition of Berry Gordy, Ellerbee emulates Gordy’s formulae of instructing artists how to survive masterfully in the world of business.  He teaches them business from the ground up.  “You have to be able to articulate, dress properly, and even have table manners so you can manoeuvre through any situation and be able to sit among Kings as well as paupers, while treating each with respect” states Angelo.   “I always tell my clients I find the word ‘star’ to be a strange word. What I try to do at Double XXposure is to promote and create achievers.  I want clients to know they can win and achieve excellence.  I give them the needed tools to do so.  I give them a clear understanding of what a star is and what a star is not.  When people become comfortable with the word star they tend to become lazy. In the world of entertainment one cannot get comfortable, you must continue to prove and improve.  You must have a clear goal in mind in order to assure continued success and longevity. This is what I teach.  I do this for lay people to” said Ellerbee enthusiastically.  Ellerbee also goes into prisons to teach incarcerated youth the importance of striving for something, even giving them internships in his firm. I mentor them and let them know that people do care, and I help them care about themselves” said the former music executive. The music business is filled with pimps, pimping off the careers of naïve talent. Many hip hoppers come from a background that doesn’t afford an education.  They fall victim to the exploitation of an industry that has no interest in showing young artists how to manage their careers.  Double Xxposure gives these kids a road map, a direction, a goal.  I tell them to be responsible for the content of their music and not to exploit their own people. I say build your people up, not pull them down” remarked Ellerbee who also promotes his philosophy via his reality shows on the Bravo Channel and UK Discovery Channel.

“My business is people relations.  I practice tough love because at the end of the day, I sell talent. I want that talent to represent themselves via fine elocution, social etiquette, and knowledge of the business they are in. I spend time with the artist before engaging in any contractual agreement.  I talk to their friends and family to get to know my client. I notice that young folks today are more ‘Ambitches’ than ‘ambitious.’  I want them to be ambitious, acquire an education so they can read, write, and understand business. I show them how to package and market themselves.  I show them how to negotiate contracts and determine what is best for them.  I teach clients the full scope of the entertainment business.” A master craftsman Ellerbee believes African Americans have to aid one another.  He believes parents must encourage, nurture, and give their children a winning formulae and mentality.  “Stop with the crabs in a barrel behaviour, give back, and help others,” purports Angelo.  “My mother had a plan and structure for me to follow.  She understood the highest accomplishment in life is to give back. I try to show my clients how to invest in themselves and in turn, mentor another. I want folks to get what they deserve and believe they are deserving of the best in life.  I have a clear understanding of all the elements needed to forge a comprehensive direction.  My goal is to teach others how to strive toward and reach for the next level.” Interested parties see: or email:

Chong Reflects On Time In The Joint

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Lee-Anne Goodman, Canadian Press

(Sep. 26, 2006)
Tommy Chong, one half of the legendary comedy duo Cheech and Chong, exudes as much serenity sipping on a cup of coffee in a downtown hotel as one might expect from a lifelong pothead.  But three years ago, the Canadian-born Chong had good reason to freak out: agents for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration burst into his California home and busted him for selling bongs online, the first time an obscure law dealing with such offences had ever been enforced.  In his new book The I Chong: Meditations From the Joint, Chong insists the feds came after him, at the behest of the Bush administration, because he'd often spoken out against the war on terror and the erosion of civil liberties after 9/11.  "I was the first one they'd ever charged under that law," said the 68-year-old Chong, in Toronto yesterday promoting his book. "Symbolically, I represented the antiwar movement. I represented the hippies. And they're scared to death of the hippies, because the hippies are the ones who stopped the Vietnam War."  That's not just nostalgic bluster from Chong, who was introduced to a new generation of fans when he played aging stoner Leo on That '70s Show. Of the 55 people charged under the "Operation Pipe Dreams" sweep in early 2003, Chong was one of the very few who was sentenced to hard time. Most were sentenced to fines and home detentions.

In last year's documentary A/k/a Tommy Chong, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, comedian and social commentator Bill Maher, among many others, accused the U.S. government of making an example out of Chong for petty political reasons.  But thanks in part to his spirituality and, undoubtedly, his unabashed appreciation of the calming effects of marijuana, Chong approached his sentence with good humour. He said he didn't mind his nine months in prison because it allowed him to focus primarily on writing the book.  In some ways, the bust actually helped rejuvenate his career as marijuana advocates started a "Free Tommy Chong" movement and he became the subject of the documentary. But there are no plans to get back together with Cheech Marin.  Chong once famously described his old comedy partner as being "closer than a wife. The only thing we didn't do was have sex." The pair, one of the most successful comedy acts of all time, split up in 1985 due to creative differences in a break-up that Chong likened to "a death in the family."  It seems those differences are still serving to keep them apart.  "He's been trying to get me to do a play, but he doesn't want to do the doper characters, so I'm not interested. I only want to play a doper. If it works, don't fix it," Chong said.  He can't resist poking fun at Marin for his recent stint on the Fox show Duets, in which professional singers like Winona Judd and Belinda Carlisle are paired up with wannabe celebrity crooners. Marin got voted off after week 4.  "After seeing him on Duets ... you know, I don't want to hang with losers. He lost pretty bad. If he'd stayed on another a week, I would have voted him off," Chong says.  "There's a reason we went into comedy. We were going to start a band, but I heard him sing and I said: `We better stick with comedy.'"

Susanna Hood Creates Sound To Match Movement

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -Susan Walker, Dance Writer

(Sep. 27, 2006)
Susanna Hood's reputation as an artist on the edge was sealed earlier this year when she won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for a dance performance.  In she's gone away, Hood seemed to move not just through several stages of a life, but up and down the evolutionary ladder. She danced, groaned, growled. She was a voyeur, witnessing intimate acts and she indulged in those acts — loudly, on her back, pelvis thrust forward. It was as risky a solo as anyone had seen that season.  Tomorrow night, at Dancemakers Studio, Hood's latest venture into new territory will open, a work set on eight of the company's dancers past and present: loveloathing.  "I seem to have been the kind of person who is always being asked to do something that I don't quite know how to do," says Hood. "Then I learn by being thrust into it."  This time, the interdisciplinary artist is creating a dance on an ensemble for the first time. The process began last year, when she came to Dancemakers for a three-week intensive with Peter Boneham from Ottawa's Groupe Dance Lab. She worked with Susie Burpee, Shannon Cooney, Sebastian Mena, Steeve Paquet, Simi Rowen, Linnea Swan and Danny Wild.  She told costume designer Heather MacCrimmon to come up with something that might suggest "humans gone feral." There is no musical score for loveloathing. The sounds are all generated by the dancers. In a rehearsal, they were first heard breathing deeply off stage, their panting rising to a crescendo. The first to be seen is Burpee, wearing a see-through covering, a kind of full-body apron made out of some hairy fabric, over underwear, a signifier of socialization.  She is a horse, trotting around a meadow by herself. Others join her. Anyone who has ever observed horses will know that Hood has paid close attention to their movements.

There are other animals in the piece — at one juncture two dancers go at each other like cocks fighting — but Hood had little time, relatively speaking, to develop the imagery of other creatures she'd been studying.  The gift of Dancemakers, presenters of the show, is the maturity of the artists and their range. From the "rooting spot" of the horse, Hood worked on individual performances, solos, duets and trios, to build a show with a dramatic arc.  The explosive energy of the piece is what makes it recognizably Hood's. A dancer who left home in Ottawa at the age of 15 to train at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Hood later moved to Toronto. From 1991 to 1995, she was a member of Toronto Dance Theatre, when it was still a company branded by the Martha Graham technique practised by its three founders.  She began producing her own shows, such as Four ways of approaching a door (1997), in which she used her voice and began building what she calls "a language of physical sound."  She's gone away was the third work in a trilogy that began with still (2000). That piece initiated a working method in which she collaborated with musician Nilan Perera, took coaching from vocalist Katherine Duncanson, employed electronic artist Jim Ruxton and, finally, theatre director Jennifer Tarver in her one-woman shows.  "It's risky," she admits, speaking of the gruelling work involved when you dance and produce sound at the same time. While loveloathing will be released with this week's performances, she continues to work on another collective project, called Somatica, with some of her usual collaborators and poet Louise Bak.  That one will be finished sometime next year, at which point Hood will no doubt have taken another leap into the unknown.


Oprah And Friends Channel Debuts On Satellite Radio

Source: Associated Press

(Sept. 25, 2006) NEW YORK — Talk show queen
Oprah Winfrey is launching her own radio channel, Oprah and Friends, on XM Satellite Radio Monday morning.  The station will features show hosted by her and a collection of popular personalities from her television show, including her best friend, Gayle King, fitness expert Bob Greene and poet Maya Angelou. The station will broadcast 24 hours day, with highlights of the shows replayed every weekend. Guests set for the first few weeks of programming include actresses Annette Bening and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, rocker Jon Bon Jovi, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and real estate mogul Donald Trump. Winfrey will co-host a show with King, dubbed The Oprah and Gayle Show, on which they discuss the latest news and gossip. The two have known each other for 30 years. Other shows will focus on finance, style, relationships and spiritual wisdom. Winfrey and boyfriend Stedman Graham were to be the station's first guests, appearing on the initial Gayle King Show, a solo program. Graham mentions a special pastrami and cheese sandwich that Winfrey makes him: “That's the other side of Oprah that people don't know about. She can cook.” In February, Winfrey signed a three-year, $55-million (U.S.) deal with XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. to launch her new radio channel, which joins her syndicated television show and O, The Oprah Magazine. XM Satellite Radio boasts more than seven million subscribers.

Cheadle Joins Calif. Gov In Sudan Announcement

Excerpt from

(September 27, 2006)  *Actors
Don Cheadle and George Clooney joined California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Monday as he signed two bills barring the state's massive pension funds from investing in companies in Sudan and to indemnify the University of California system from liability from divesting its investments in the country, reports Reuters.  Although the bills are largely symbolic – as any investments that California's funds directly or indirectly hold in Sudan would be small – the governor’s actions follow a mass movement against the ethnic violence in Sudan’s Darfur region.   "Today I am signing two bills that will send a clear message across the globe: California will not stand for murder and genocide," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. Democratic State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who is running against Schwarzenegger in the upcoming election and promoted the legislation, said the bills marked an important bipartisan effort.  "Californians have a moral responsibility to help end the genocide in Sudan," said Angelides. "I am pleased Democrats and Republicans have come together to enact this legislation, which will help ensure our state pension funds and the University of California do not unwittingly support the Sudanese government."



Colangelo Gives Raptors Ticket Sales A Big Boost

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Michael Grange

(Sept. 27, 2006) He's just over six feet tall, and has never scored a point in the National Basketball Association. But Bryan Colangelo has done what only the flashiest NBA stars are supposed to be able to do: sell tickets. While training camp for the Toronto Raptors doesn't open until next week and the team doesn't open its regular season at home until Nov. 3, the Raptors have experienced a significant bump in its sales to existing season-ticket holders and new subscribers. The club has renewed 92 per cent of its season-ticket base from last season, despite coming off a 27-55 record and missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. More promising is that sales of new subscriptions are up by 20 per cent compared to this time last year. The increases coincide with the arrival and performance of the club's new president and general manager, not that Colangelo is comfortable being singled out.

“I would hope that the moves we've made and the general shift in the direction of the franchise is something I have participated in or contributed to,” he said. “But good organizations work together.”  While the changes Colangelo has made since taking over the club have yet to be proven on the court, they've been received well in the court of public opinion, if season ticket sales are any measure. “This is the first year in three years we've been able to increase our season-ticket base. We're really pleased with that,” said Richard Peddie, president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which own the Raptors. Peddie said the renewal rate is the second-best in the club's history, trailing only the 97-per-cent renewal rate the club achieved heading into the 2001-02 season. That was a golden era for the Raptors — or at least one flush with green. With a rising superstar in Vince Carter and a team coming off it's first playoff series win, the club boasted that it had 15,353 season-ticket holders in December of 2001, second-best in the NBA. By last year, that number had slipped to 9,500. Club insiders say the team now ranks well within the top five of the 30 NBA teams in renewal rate. In the past two seasons, season-ticket renewals have hovered just over 80 per cent. Sales to new subscribers have lagged as well. This year is first off-season in the past three that the club has been able to arrest that slide and move it in the other direction. “That's significant,” Peddie said. “We have to fill the pipeline. If you're renewing at 90 per cent, you're still losing 10 per cent a year.” Credit for the surge in interest goes to Colangelo, who was hired as the club's president and general manager after a successful career with the Phoenix Suns. He has worked diligently to remake the team according to his vision.

“Bringing Colangelo in brought lots of hope,” Peddie said. “He's also solved the problem of keeping the team in the news during the off-season.” Adding Maurizio Gherardini as assistant general manager — the first European to hold an executive job in the NBA — making trades, signing free agents and negotiating a contract extension for all-star Chris Bosh, made the Raptors arguably more visible during the off-season than they were during the regular season last year. The team has made no bones about using Colangelo to sell tickets. He's featured prominently in advertising, and has been the featured speaker — along with Gherardini — at a series of breakfasts the club has put on at the Air Canada Centre for prospective season-ticket holders. Colangelo says meeting with season-ticket holders, or helping drum up new ones is something he sees as part of his job description. “The goal is to make the business better,” he said. “Selling tickets provides the revenue to improve the on-court product. Doing whatever is needed to help the company is the attitude I've always had instilled in me.”


Former President Of Colombia's Envigado Team Murdered

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Sept. 27, 2006) Bogota, Colombia — The former president of Envigado soccer club was shot and killed by drive-by assassins this week, the second executive connected with the Medellin first-division team to be murdered in recent months. Octavio Alberto Velsquez Mejia, who presided over the club from 2001 to 2004, was playing billiards with friends at a bar when he was shot 11 times Monday night by assassins using a silencer, police said. The assailants then escaped on a motorbike, according to witnesses. Envigado has long been beset by violence and allegations of links to major drug traffickers. In July, club owner Gustavo Upegui Lopez was tortured and killed in his home in what authorities believe was a revenge killing by a criminal gang. The case remains unsolved. Police said they were investigating whether the two murders were linked. But the club's current president, Julio Cesar Ceballos, insisted the team's management was "transparent." He said Velasquez Mejia had renounced all ties with the club, where he also served as medical trainer, seven months ago to manage a casino and gambling business. During the heyday of the Medellin cartel in the 1980s and 1990s, narcotics traffickers led by Pablo Escobar were known to lavish huge amounts of their drug proceeds on their favourite soccer teams, allowing the teams to acquire top talent and renovate stadiums. Envigado acquired several players during the period and won the second-division championship in 1991, earning it promotion to the first division, where it has remained since.



Getting The Most Out Of The Treadmill

Lorra Kristene Garrick, Special for eFitness

(September 25, 2006) Do you hold onto the treadmill while "walking?" The top excuses:

·                     "I’ll fall off if I let go!" SLOW DOWN.

·                     "My trainer says it’s OK." I once asked a trainer why he allowed his able-bodied client to hold on, despite three weeks of training. His response: "She’s scared." Beware of trainers who fail to empower you.

·                     "I’ll lose my balance." Slow down and stop using your arms as anchors. Balancing is part of exercise.

·                     "I’ve always done it this way." It’s never too late to break a sabotaging habit.

·                     "My doctor told me to do it." Shame on him or her for not telling you that holding on increases blood pressure and causes poor posture.

·                     "The machine keeps telling me to hold on for heart rate." Select another program. Hold on for heart rate, but then let go after the number appears!

·                     "But I’m sweating!" Many variables affect sweat: room ventilation, weight, body chemistry, even mental state.

·                     "I’m old!" If ever there were a reason NOT to hold on, this is it!

"If the rails on the treadmill are positioned too low, holding on will encourage forward posture (especially for tall people), which exacerbates the slumping position most of us develop with aging," says Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer. "Grasping the rails does not promote natural walking biomechanics." This also applies to shorter people.  Some people grip the front bar, yanking forward with each "step." Others grasp the side rails, shoulders bobbing up and down, body weight subtracted from the tread. And clinging on with one hand creates unequal stresses to the body.

"Holding on and walking at top speeds is dangerous because of the ballistic hip rotation, over-striding and forward posture. It can lead to serious neck, back and knee injuries," says Calabrese. Standing straight while gripping won’t correct the situation.  Some people don leather gloves for increased gripping traction, then proceed with their fake walking, legs wistfully moving through mere motions. But they’re tricked into believing they’re working hard because the settings are high: 4 mph, 12 percent incline!  In the actual world, legs, knees, hips and back work in unison to support your full weight as you ambulate. Holding on, even lightly, takes valuable work away from your musculoskeletal and nervous systems.  The calorie readout is triggered by the program setting, not the person on the machine! Walking hands-off burns about 20 percent more calories for the same length of time.

"I’ve seen people increase the treadmill's elevation to augment the workload, then hold the handrails and lean back, defeating the entire purpose of the elevation," says Calabrese.  The leaning back is at the same angle as the incline, literally cancelling out its effect! Leaning forward won’t correct this; you’d be pulling forward. People set the speed at an unrealistic pace for the elevation. Would you really walk 3.5 or 4 mph outdoors up a 15 percent hiking trail?  Begin at a slower speed and let go. If you prefer a high incline, start slowly; this pace should be similar to an outdoor uphill hiking pace. Any discomfort in your lower back means those muscles are working for the first time!  Try this: set the pace or incline at a challenging level, and walk hands off for only a few minutes. Then slow down or lower the incline and continue hands off for a few minutes to catch your breath. Alternate between these more demanding intervals and easier "recovery" intervals.  Regardless of your fitness level, weight or age, you must release your hands and walk the natural way. After all, haven’t you been doing this since age 1?

Lorra Kristene Garrick is a freelance writer and personal trainer.


Motivational Note - Stop Whining - Start Winning!

Excerpt from - By Willie Jolley, Host of the “Willie Jolley Motivational Minute” syndicated radio show

I am not talking about the television game show but I’m talking about a state of mind. Did you know that there is a millionaire made in America every 58 minutes, and those are not millionaires who win a lottery but rather those who have developed a winner’s state of mind. If you want to be a millionaire, then you must start thinking like a millionaire. You must decide to stop whining and start winning! Most people complain about what’s not happening rather than making things happen! I have a sign on my desk that reads, “Winners MAKE things happen. Losers LET things happen! Folk’s if you want to be a millionaire you must change your thinking and then you can change your life!