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April 12, 2007

Welcome to spring!?  Along with that soon-to-be sense of renewal, I have a special event for you led by a good and trusted friend of mine - if you've ever been curious about a career, image or personal makeover, then
Look Good Feel Wonderful is for you.  Details below. 

Catch some exciting events coming up - the almost sold out
Sophisticate with its private invitation party.  Then there's MadTV's Aries Spears headlining a comedy night - so laugh all the way to purchase tickets!

Tons of Canadian news in every category so check out each one below or just CLICK AS FOLLOWS:

Look Good, Feel Wonderful – Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spring is a season of rejuvenation. It's a time when many of us clear out the clutter in our physical spaces and prepare for the joyful feeling that the warm weather and sunshine brings. So what better time is there than now to tidy up your life and eliminate the mental and emotional clutter that is keeping you from living up to your highest potential? If you have dreams of doing more with your life, but always seem to get deterred and if you want to freshen up your wardrobe and get in style without going in debt, then this is your season of change! Register today for 
Look Good, Feel Wonderful, a personal development and fashion consulting seminar sponsored by The Stepping Stone Image Consulting. Come discover what's really holding you back and why aligning your attire with your aspirations is an important step toward personal and professional success. If your home is worthy of renewal, then why aren't you?

Since sharing blesses the giver and the receiver, please join us on April 28th and bring everyone who you know wants to feel, be and do their best.

"One of the greatest feelings in life is the conviction that you have lived the life you wanted to live - with the rough and the smooth, the good and the bad - but yours, shaped by your own choices, and not someone else's"

- Michael Ignatieff, author, politician

Verity Centre For Better Living
28 Milford Ave. (closest major intersections are Keele & Lawrence)
12:00 NOON
$20  in advance; $30 day of

Refreshments will be served
To register call (416) 534-1069 
Tickets are also available at: A Different Booklist - 746 Bathurst Ave (south of Bloor in Toronto)  and  Knowledge Bookstore - 177 Queen Street W. (east of McLaughlin in Brampton)

Sophisticate “The Private Party” - Saturday, April 14, 2007

Created on the premise that bigger is not always better and that intimacy and the personal touch are key, each
SOPHISTICATE “private party” caters to150 personally invited guests who enjoy a musical vibe that covers a broad spectrum of R&B, neo-soul, and old school ranging from Chaka Khan and Quincy Jones to Beyonce and Ne-Yo.  Our DJs are famous for playing the unexpected at any given moment….as long as it keeps the crowd moving.

The definition of a SOPHISTICATE

Entrance is by private invitation and VIP guest list only.  Contact info@consepshun.com  to get on the $10 VIP guest list. This event will be limited to 150 guests only.

Andy C and Consepshun Enterprises present
SOPHISTICATE the private party – Anniversary Edition
Tangerine Bar & Lounge
647 King Street West (King & Bathurst)
Style Code: chic, stylish, sophisticated
Hosted by: Andy C with special guest host Robert Jean of French Fellows
Musical Vibe: DJ Darrel Alize with MC Toney Williams

Aries Spears Headlines Toronto

Comedian Aries Spears brings his unique comedic talents for the first time in Toronto to the Panasonic Theatre on Saturday, April 14. This Chicago native is best known for his 8 seasons on Fox’s hit show Mad TV where he portrayed characters from Bill Cosby, James Brown, rapper Jay-Z, DMX to Al Pacino.  Aries has also appeared on Def Comedy Jam and most recently on Comedy Central. Aries is joined on stage by comedians Jean Paul, MTV Canada’s Gilson Lubin, Flow 93.5 human jump off TRIXX and direct from England by way of Hamilton the always hilarious, and outrageous Jason Rouse.

Music for the event will be provided by Matisse and DJ Staring From Scratch.  The after party for this one will be all the way live.

Ajahmae And SFS Entertainment Presents
Panasonic Theatre
651 Yonge Street (former home of Blue Man Group)
Doors open 7:30 pm; Show starts 8:00 pm
Tickets: $35 advance – www.ticketmaster.ca


Grammy Foundation® Grant Program Makes Awards

Source:  Christina Cassidy, The GRAMMY Foundation, christina.cassidy@grammy.com, 310.392.3777

(Apr. 5, 07) SANTA MONICA, Calif. - The GRAMMY Foundation® Grant Program has announced that $650,000 in grants will be awarded to 18 recipients across the United States and in Canada.  The funds will provide support for archiving and preservation programs and research efforts that investigate the impact of music on human development. Funds will be given to help facilitate an extraordinary range of research, archiving and preservation projects on a range of subjects, including: isolating the formation of a sophisticated understanding of music during the first year of life; assessing spared musical memories in patients with Alzheimer disease; documenting the musical subculture of Irish American musicians; and preserving and disseminating audio from the Civil Rights Movement.  "The Grant Program is a pillar of the GRAMMY Foundation's work," said Neil Portnow, President of The Recording Academy® and the GRAMMY Foundation. "This year's grant recipients represent collections and archives that are critically important to our cultural heritage and our future, and research projects that investigate the vital intersection of music and science."

The GRAMMY Foundation's Grants Program is generously funded by The Recording Academy. Now in its 20th year, the GRAMMY Foundation Grant Program has awarded $4.6 million to more than 200 noteworthy projects. The Grant Program provides funding annually to organizations and individuals to support efforts that advance the archiving and preservation of the music and recorded sound heritage of the Americas for future generations, as well as research projects related to the impact of music on the human condition. Recipients are determined based on criteria such as merit, uniqueness of project and the ability to accomplish intended goals. The deadline each year for submitting grant applications is Oct. 1. Applications for the 2008 cycle will be available at www.grammyfoundation/grants after May 1, 2007. The GRAMMY Foundation was established in 1989 to cultivate the understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture - from the artistic and technical legends of the past to the still unimagined musical breakthroughs of future generations of music professionals. The Foundation accomplishes this mission through programs and activities that engage the music industry and cultural community as well as the general public. The Foundation works in partnership year-round with The Recording Academy to bring national attention to important issues such as the value and impact of music and arts education and the urgency of preserving our rich cultural heritage. For more information, please visit www.grammyfoundation.com.

Established in 1957, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc., also known as The Recording Academy, is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY® Awards, The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs - including the creation of the national public education campaign What's The Download® (WhatsTheDownload.com®). For more information about The Academy, please visit www.grammy.com.


Fest Will Reel You In

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker
, Entertainment Reporter

(April 10, 2007) Despite a name that gives no clue to its contents, the
ReelWorld film festival has steadily grown in both size and importance. Under the subtitle, "Our Stories. Our Talent. Our Films," the seventh annual festival boasts 100 screenings in five days. From Wednesday through Sunday, shorts, documentaries, features and kids movies screen in the Rainbow Cinemas. Sprinkled throughout the schedule are panel discussions, parties and an awards ceremony. Founder and executive director Tonya Lee Williams calls it a "film event dedicated to creating opportunities for Canadian artists." But not only works by Canadians of diverse backgrounds are included in the fest. Films and videos are coming in from the U.S. and the U.K., South Africa, Hong Kong, Mexico, India, France, Japan and Austria.  A Winter Tale, the opening-night film at the Scotiabank Theatre, is as rooted in Toronto as any film could be. Directed by Frances-Anne Solomon, A Winter Tale is an all-too-common story about a drug-related fatal shooting. A 9-year-old boy is killed, leaving the Caribbean community in Parkdale in crisis. A social worker, Gene (Peter Williams), gets the men in the neighbourhood to form a discussion group. At times riveting and at times a little slack, it offers heartfelt performances.

Wondrous Oblivion is not new, but this wonderfully upbeat film starring Delroy Lindo never got a commercial release in Canada. The movie is set in a London working-class neighbourhood in the early 1960s. The Wisemans' son, David, is a cricket fanatic considered too unathletic to be on the school team. When Dennis (Lindo) and his Jamaican family move in next door, the residents of the street go ballistic. But the Wisemans befriend their new neighbours and Dennis, once a famous cricketer, coaches David until he becomes a star player. Retour à Gorée follows Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour from Gorée, a monument to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, to America. His project is to trace the musical threads that bind the New World to Africa. Accompanied by blind pianist Moncef Genoud, he meets with gospel singers in the South and a brilliant drummer in New Orleans.  Another doc, FESPACO: Telling Our Story is more a missed opportunity than a window on Burkina Faso's nearly 30-year-old film festival. American director Kevin Arkadie follows some African-American filmmakers to the 2005 Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO). Arkadie concentrates on the Americans and their wonderment that they've found a place that will screen their independent films.

ReelWorld's focus on Jamaica makes an ideal opportunity for the screening of A Hard Road To Travel, a portrait of Jamaican director Perry Henzell, who got an enthusiastic reception when he came to the Toronto Film Fest last September. Sadly, he died early this year, but his voice can be heard narrating this documentary. Canadian Arun Bharali directed the Bollywood-style comedy Bolly Double, in which bespectacled video clerk Kativa gets the chance of a lifetime. She gets to stand in as haughty Bollywood star Kohinoor, after the actor is kidnapped at the Toronto airport.

Proud FM To Target Gay And Lesbian Listeners

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Jeff Gray

(Apr. 9, 07) A new frequency on Toronto's crowded FM radio dial is poised to make history, its backers say, by becoming the country's -- and perhaps the world's -- first mainstream commercial radio station aimed at gays and lesbians.
Proud FM is set to launch officially one week from today at 103.9 FM. Its website promises "an eclectic mix of sounds from current hits to anthems from the 70s, 80s and 90s" as well as a "splash of classical and dance music" and "unique and inclusive" talk programs. "I really think that we are pioneers here," said John Kenyon, the station's retail-sales supervisor, in an interview yesterday.  He said Proud FM, headquartered at Wellesley and Church Streets in the heart of Toronto's gay village, hopes to attract as many as 455,000 local listeners a week with its low power 50-watt signal, which will cover most of the city and extend as far north as Highway 7. Listeners from across Canada are expected to tune in online, he added.

Mr. Kenyon predicts major advertisers will seek out his station as a way to get the attention of the affluent gay and lesbian market without having to advertise in edgier publications. "IKEA, for example, doesn't want an ad in a local publication next to a racy bathhouse ad," he said, adding that CRTC rules mean his station will have broad appeal. In fact, the station -- already broadcasting a loop of music and promotional clips -- has been the subject of a feud with the organization behind Xtra, an influential newspaper aimed at gays and lesbians that doesn't shy away from advertising and content some observers might consider racy. Before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission gave the go-ahead last year, one of the station's original backers, the non-profit Pink Triangle Press, which publishes Xtra, dropped out. Ken Popert, president and executive director of Pink Triangle Press, said the station's co-owner, the Evanov Radio Group, wouldn't promise not to convert Proud FM to a conventional radio station once the licence was approved. Mr. Popert also complained that the new station wouldn't pledge to using Xtra for its news content. "They didn't deliver on any of the things they had promised us. Not a single one, in fact," he said yesterday. "Our No. 1 requirement was that they undertake to ensure that this would be a gay and lesbian radio station for the indefinite future."

Mr. Kenyon said the station is committed to programming for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered and that its owners have been fighting to get the concept on air for a decade. "Why would anyone work 10 years to get a licence to do this, just to flip it? " Mr. Kenyon asked. Gay-rights organization Egale Canada and other local groups and politicians supported the station's bid. The CRTC says it expects the station's spoken-word content "will consistently incorporate material of direct and particular relevance to the gay and lesbian community, and reflect its perspective and its particular needs and interests." Proud FM's morning show will be hosted by Ken Kostick and Mary Jo Eustace, reuniting the pair that hosted the popular What's For Dinner, a TV cooking show on the Life Network in the 1990s.  The station is to officially launch at 10:39 a.m. on April 16.  Awarding the right to broadcast at 103.9 FM was also controversial because the CRTC did not issue a call for competing applications.  The new frequency is close enough to the existing Z103.5 FM, a pop station owned by the Evanov Group and based in nearby Orangeville, Ont., that the firm would be able to veto any proposal for it under CRTC rules. Radio giants CHUM Ltd. and Rogers Broadcasting Ltd., which own six Toronto stations between them, opposed the application, arguing that the lack of restrictions on the new station's music programming would render it too free to compete with existing stations on Toronto's dial. Evanov Radio Group also owns or controls stations in Ottawa and Halifax, as well as multicultural 530 AM in Brampton.

Brit Singer A Soul Survivor

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(April 10, 2007)
James Morrison can pinpoint the life-altering moment that led to his being named Best Male Singer at February's Brit Awards. "As soon as I got fired from my job it was like a kick up the ass to say go for what you want," says the 22-year-old entertainer, whose recent Mod Club show marked his first visit to Canada. With a gravely, beseeching voice and top-selling debut album, Undiscovered, songwriter-guitarist Morrison is the latest in a wave of U.K. singers – Joss Stone, Corinne Bailey Rae, Amy Winehouse – credited with reviving vintage soul. Morrison is a self-taught musician who started off singing along with his parents' Pink Floyd and Stevie Wonder records.  "My mom used to tell me how good I was, but I ignored it because moms always tell you shit like that," he recalls in an interview in a Toronto hotel lobby.

He honed his skills busking and performing at family parties until a 2003 move north from Cornwall to the more urban Derby, his girlfriend's hometown. "I left all my friends, the beach, the beautiful weather, thinking maybe I would be able to get more gigs." But nothing came of the few open-mic sessions he attended; and a year later, he was still washing vans at a rental car agency.  "Then I got fired, which was a blessing really. The first couple days after, I sat home writing songs. I wrote (my girlfriend) a song called "You're All I Need" and she was like `F--k the song! Get out there and get a job!'" Walking though town thinking "I'm going back home to Cornwall; I'd rather be miserable by the sea," Morrison bumped into a musician he'd met previously. This acquaintance turned out to be a talent scout who offered to record his demo. And that disc wound up in the right hands. "Within two weeks of me getting fired I sat in Sony and they offered me a development deal." But Morrison wasn't easily wooed. He survived on a carpet-fitting gig and his girlfriend's largesse while fine-tuning songs and weighing other offers before signing with Polydor UK. Undiscovered debuted at No. 1 last summer and has sold more than a million copies.  And his first North American shows are drawing capacity club crowds.

"I can't work out whether Americans are over-enthusiastic or English people are under-enthusiastic, but there's definitely a difference," says the chummy, Chris Martin look-alike who will tour with John Mayer later this year.  "It's like they're ready to watch a rock concert in America and sometimes I feel quite intimidated by it, like my songs are too sensitive to fulfill that rock niche." His husky sound – courtesy of a near-fatal bout of whooping cough in infancy – and aggressive delivery recall Rod Stewart and the artist formerly known as Terence Trent D'Arby, but ill-advised critics have been ranking him with Al Green and Otis Redding.  Though his peripatetic poverty-stricken childhood imbued him with a similar repository of emotional angst, Morrison rightly rejects comparisons to those retro icons, along with the offensive blue-eyed soul label. "Soul is being able to tell people what you feel with honesty. You don't have to be singing gospel, or be able to riff up and down the scale; Van Morrison can't do that, but he's so soulful.  "It's all about passion. It's not about being black or white." His album is comprised of live, upbeat instrumentation and dark lyrics.

"I wanted to get past all the happy shit that you hear on the radio; it's all about going out to a club or `Look how much bling I've got' or `Look how well I'm doing.' "I felt like I've got a lot of sad in me and a lot of other people have, too. I didn't want to make a sad album, but I wanted to make people feel emotion."  And his current state of mind? "I'm happy, but it's so (hectic) that I haven't had time to let this all sink in.”Maybe I'll be more happy when I get a break for like a year where I can just go out and party and have a good time, and travel and see places properly.  "I'm looking forward to making the next record. I feel I've been stuck in this world for ages and I want to come up with something new again."

Collie Buddz: New Reggae Artist Is Diversifying Dancehall

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough

(April 11, 2007) *What are the characteristics of a dancehall superstar? Born in New Orleans? Raised in Bermuda? Bald? White? Musically immersed in the music with influences of hip-hop and soca?  No matter what you may have thought, those are exactly the attributes of who MTV is calling “the next big reggae star.” He goes by the name
Collie Buddz and he is all of the above, and then some. Hardly the picture of a Rastafarian, Collie explained to EUR’s Lee Bailey that while he may not have the common look of a dancehall maestro, he definitely has the heart of one.   “I just fell in love with the music,” he said. “I just basically grew up with old reggae music. I was just constantly around the music, buying CDs and session tapes. As far as I can remember, I was listening to reggae. I guess it all ties in with how I sound today.” That sound has been described as “fat, fragrant sack of rugged roots reggae” and an “on drop crooner” of reggae. And that sound has been a source of amazement for dancehall fans.  “A lot of people are shocked when they first see me. They first hear the tune and think it’s some big Rasta man from Jamaica and they see this little white boy,” Collie said. “It definitely puts people off, at first.”

Fortunately, the surprise has been all good so far. The dancehall lyricists said that he’s yet to run into any haters unhappy about his, er ... lack of melanin. His acceptance may be in part by the fact that Collie makes no attempt to be something he’s not – in addition to his popular music. His sound is his own and so is his image. He even explained that he doesn’t sport dreads, a Rastafarian tell-tell, out of respect for what dread locks represent.  “Dreads, to me, represent being very spiritual and deep into the Rasta religion. I’ve never got into that so I don’t want to portray myself as someone I’m not. So I’m just sticking with the bald head,” he said. One thing that does fit the bill is the singer’s admiration for herb. His stage name, Collie Buddz, was derived from his real name Collin, but developed after his introduction to marijuana as a teen. And furthermore, his first US single, “Come Around” could clearly be considered an ode to herb.  “It’s about the drought that we get in Bermuda of herb around winter time,” Collie explained. “It’s hard to find some good herb and when you find it, it’s real expensive. And if you pay for it, you’re lucky if you get something good. So, the tune is about finally when the package comes and you get some high grade, you’re happy about it.” While he admits there may be some resistance to the song, like any islander, Collie shrugged off any disapproval, saying: “There’s going to be a couple of people that are not want to promote it, but I’m not that concerned about it. It’s a part of my culture.”

Collie’s culture is a dual citizenship of the US and Bermuda, though he generally calls Bermuda his home, and has a strong connection to Jamaica.  “It’s just like any other Caribbean island,” he said of Bermuda. “Just like in Jamaica, dancehall and hip hop rule everything. It might not be the thing that tourists see all the time, but definitely reggae is the main music here.” And even in describing his style, Collie referred to the Jamaican terms for a singing DJ.  “They have a saying in Jamaica that a DJ isn’t a guy who plays records, he’s actually a guy that sings dancehall lyrics or fast-paced lyrics. And then they have singers. But you can have a DJ that sings also and they call him a sing-jay. That’s how I describe my music; a dancehall singer putting melody to it. It’s rapping, but with melody.” The self-titled debut disc from this melodic rapper hits stores this June, but you can already check out his sound online at www.colliebuddz.com or his MySpace page at www.myspace.com/colliebuddz.


Familiar Faces Honoured (Again) At Jazz Awards

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - J.D. Considine, The Canadian Press

(Apr. 11, 07) Nothing sums up last night's
National Jazz Awards more succinctly than the title of its Album of the Year: One More Time. It was, after all, the second year in a row pianist Oliver Jones has gone home with that award. Nor was he the evening's only repeat winner — far from it. Among those honoured for the second — or third, or fourth, or sixth — straight year were multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson (who was named both Musician and Instrumentalist of the Year), drummer Terry Clarke, guitarist Reg Schwager, clarinettist Phil Nimmons, bassist Roberto Occhipinti (although he won as a producer, not a bassist), journalist Geoff Chapman, the Toronto Jazz Festival, and record label Justin Time. In all, 15 of the 27 awards went to the same people who won them last year. Granted, they weren't all exact repeats. British Columbia native Diana Krall, who last year won the International Musician of the Year trophy, earned a duplicate Tuesday night at Toronto's Palais Royale Ballroom. But she couldn't repeat her triumph as Vocalist of the Year, because that category had been split into Male and Female divisions. So instead, she took one half, and Michael Bublé the other. And while Heather Bambrick wasn't named Jazz Broadcaster of the Year last year, she was the year before.

Mike Murley, who wins so consistently that they may want to add “Best Saxophonist Who Isn't Mike Murley” as a category, was as usual tops on his instrument. In addition, he shared the Acoustic Group of the Year award with pianist David Braid (who was also named the SOCAN Composer of the Year). Hilario Duran, who won again in the Latin Jazz category, also triumphed in the Best Big Band category, shouldering aside previous perennial Rob McConnell. McConnell got the short shrift as well in the trombone category, where Russ Little — whose virtuoso performance on the albums Snapshot and Footwork could not be denied — prevailed. Of course, not all the new winners were new. Phil Nimmons, who put “the Canadian sound” on the map in the fifties, won Arranger of the Year, while Guido Basso, who has been on the scene since the 1940s, pushed past previous winner Kevin Turcotte to be named Trumpet Player of the Year. Among the other fresh faces was the prodigiously gifted pianist Robi Botos, who won Keyboardist of the Year; occasional Jim Cuddy accompanist Anne Lindsay, named Violinist of the Year; bassist George Koller, who has recorded with everyone from Loreena McKennitt to Jazz Awards co-host David Clayton-Thomas; and trumpeter Nick Ali's Electryc Trio. This was the sixth year for the National Jazz Awards. They were founded by publisher, producer and broadcaster Bill King, who Tuesday night was handed the Paul Hoeffler award for photography, and the voting was open to anyone who went to the group's website.

Complete list of winners

The winners of the 2007 National Jazz Awards:

Jazz Broadcaster of the Year: Heather Bambrick

Drummer of the Year: Terry Clarke

Keyboardist of the Year: Robi Botos

Jazz Festival of the Year: Toronto

Bassist of the Year: George Koller

Trumpet Player of the Year: Guido Basso

Jazz Journalist of the Year: Geoff Chapman/Toronto Star

Guitarist of the Year: Reg Schwager

Saxophonist of the Year: Mike Murley

Violinist of the Year: Anne Lindsay

Musician of the Year: Don Thompson

Clarinettist of the Year: Phil Nimmons

Arranger of the Year: Phil Nimmons

Instrumentalist of the Year: Don Thompson

Jazz Label of the Year: Justin Time Records

SOCAN Composer of the Year: David Braid

Jazz Album of the Year: Oliver Jones, One More Time

Acoustic Group of the Year: Murley/Braid Quartet

Jazz Producer of the Year: Roberto Occhipinti

Trombonist of the Year: Russ Little

Female Vocalist of the Year: Diana Krall

Big Band of the Year: Hilario Duran Latin Jazz Band

International Musician of the Year: Diana Krall

Electric Group of the Year: Nick Ali's Electryc Trio

Latin Jazz Artist of the Year: Hilario Duran

Paul Hoeffler Photographer: Bill King

Male Vocalist of the Year: Michael Bublé

Faves, First-Timers Share In Jazz Awards

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Jazz Reporter

(April 11, 2007) Perennial favourites and first-timers shared the glory and the spotlight at the sixth annual
National Jazz Awards last night. Legendary clarinettist Phil Nimmons added Arranger of the Year, as well as top honours for his instrument, to past wins.  Another recurring recipient and dean of the jazz scene, Don Thompson, was named Best Instrumentalist and Musician. And while vets such as vibist Peter Appleyard and the Oliver Jones's piano lead trio delivered rousing performances during the three-hour gala at Palais Royale, a couple of rookies held their own. Winnipeg singer Sophie Berkal-Sarbit, 16, was aptly accompanied by trumpeter Jon Challoner, 19, on a scintillating rendition of "The Gypsy in My Soul."  "I wish we'd had a chance to play more," said Humber College student Challoner, also the recipient of the $2,000 Galaxie Rising Star Award. Noted trumpeter Guido Basso was impressed by the youth's eight-bar solo.  "He displays a tremendous amount of harmonic maturity for his age," said the musician who, to delight of the overflow audience, came out to accept his own prize for Trumpeter playing "Milestones."

He was one of several seasoned players receiving awards for the first time. The others were: George Koller (Bassist), Robi Botos (Keyboardist), Russ Little (Trombonist) and Anne Lindsay (Violinist). But the selections made online by 2,600 jazz fans across the country mostly reflected the tried and true.  For the second year in a row, Diana Krall was elected International Musician. She also took the title of Best Female Vocalist.  Hilario Durán capped off his recent Juno – Contemporary Jazz Album (From the Heart) — by winning Latin Jazz Artist for the second year and Big Band. And Oliver Jones racked up back-to-back Album of the Year wins with One More Time. Other winners included: Terry Clarke (Drummer), Michael Bublé (Male Vocalist), Mike Murley/David Braid Quartet (Acoustic Group), Reg Schwager (Guitarist), Roberto Occhipinti (Producer), Nick Ali's Electryc Trio (Electric Group) and Justin Time (Jazz Label). Media awards went to Star columnist Geoff Chapman, JAZZFM91's Heather Bambrick and photographer Bill King.

Visit nationaljazzawards.com for a full list of winners. Next up as the city's jazz scene springs into high season: celebrating its consecutive wins as the nation's finest, the Toronto Jazz Festival announces its line-up on April 24.

Morissette's Humps Web-Spoof A Hit

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(April 06, 2007) Toronto — A cutting parody of the Black Eyed Peas' party song My Humps has
Alanis Morissette fans howling online. A spoof music video on sites including Morissette's website and MySpace page has the Ottawa native crooning a slowed-down torch version of the chart-topper and gyrating in a variety of hootchie outfits including short-shorts, a tube top and a tight satin jacket. The ridiculous clip is attracting cheers from fans across the blogosphere, where pop-culture junkies are delighting in the Ironic singer's no-holds-barred critique of the titillating track and singer Fergie's suggestive dance moves. "The My Humps video is ultra-comic GOLD!" one fan, identified as 31-year-old Julian from Decatur, Ga., writes on Morissette's MySpace page.

"Your video is freakin' hilarious!! Maybe u could do Alanis-licious too!!" adds Kelly, a 30-year-old woman from Texas. A spokesman for Morissette said the singer was not commenting on why she recorded the song and shot a video, but reports have suggested it was an April Fool's joke for fans. With call-and-response lyrics including the hypnotic refrain, "My humps, my humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps," the Black Eyed Peas hit has drawn its fair share of detractors since its release in late 2005. Slate.com derided the track in a December 2005 posting as "horrifically bad," going on to describe it as "a stunning assemblage of awful ideas." The All Music Guide called it "one of the most embarrassing rap performances of the new millennium." Still, its catchy melody and suggestive video won it heavy radio and television play last year, and in February My Humps won a Grammy for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal.

But it's clear the song still rankles. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 1.5 million people had watched Morissette's goofy cover on Youtube.com. "HAHA! I like Alanis all over again," dannosaurus says on Youtube.com, identified on his profile as 33-year-old Dan from the United States. "This is just perfect. Really shows how stupid those lyrics actually are."

Nelly's A Maneater

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic

(April 05, 2007) Forgive a hopelessly white man for borrowing from the hip-hop vernacular, but this
Nelly Furtado thing has hit a whole `nutha level. The giggly ingénue slightly awestruck at her own sudden stardom who first tirelessly made the rounds of the planet on the back of "I'm Like a Bird" and her hit debut, Whoa, Nelly!, six years ago was supplanted at the Air Canada Centre last night by a confident, if not quite yet cocky, diva-in-training perfectly at home on an arena stage. Indeed, there were signs during the performance that 10 million copies in worldwide record sales for last year's Loose album and the attendant international stardom have already put the customary Vegas pop-star tilt on Furtado's live show.  A mini-troupe of four dancers offered interpretive moves to most of the set list, for instance, while the band put a slicked-up new spin on older numbers like "Turn Off the Lights" and "Powerless" and Nelly disappeared a couple of times to change outfits – from a black, spangly Diana Ross mini-dress (perfect for "Do It") during the early going to a long evening gown for the ballads "Show Time," "All Good Things (Come to an End)" and her Internet-beloved, semi-acoustic cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" to a tight, white pantsuit thing for the end of the night.

Through it all, though, and with a minimum of words (and not one boast that I heard about her five-award sweep of the Junos in Saskatoon last weekend) to the crowd, Furtado held onto the essential, everygal charm that makes her infinitely much more watchable than your Beyoncés and Christina Aguileras. Probably because she doesn't yet seem all that at home marking choreographed steps with her dancers while singing.  If the mid-set detour into ballad territory dragged on a bit too long to feel natural (leave that crap to Christina), Furtado proved her recent, Timbaland-abetted rebirth as a genre-crossing pop/R&B hitmaker anything but forced as she traded spry verses with Toronto rapper Saukrates on "Promiscuous," reworked "I'm Like a Bird" over Timbo's bassline to Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" and easily wiped any of the evening's shortcomings from memory by strapping on a guitar to intro a stormy kick at "Maneater" to close the night.  Honestly, that song's so freakin' awesome I haven't thought of anything else since hearing it 400 times over Juno weekend. And now I won't for another week.

Sophie Berkal-Sarbit, 16 - She's Ready For A National Audience

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Jazz Reporter

(April 05, 2007) Tracking jazz artists across the globe for interviews is par for the course; but when the Star learned that
Sophie Berkal-Sarbit was in Spain, we thought we'd missed the boat on the 16-year-old Winnipeg singer. "No, not performing," she said when we finally got her on the phone in Barcelona. "Sightseeing, shopping, going to tourist attractions." Turns out the 11th grader was on a 10-day high school field trip, her first time in Europe, with stops in London and Paris. Based on her debut disc The Gypsy in My Soul, which hits stores Tuesday, it won't be long before she's cashing in per diems. Backed by an A-list cast, including bassist Dave Young, guitarist Jake Langley, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and producer Bill King, Berkal-Sarbit acquits herself impressively on chestnuts such as "The Man I Love," "Skylark" and "Someone to Watch Over Me."

Toronto audiences got a taste last summer when she appeared on the Divas bill at the Toronto and Beaches International Jazz Festivals. Another chance to look and listen comes with Berkal-Sarbit performances at Tuesday's National Jazz Awards and her CD release party at Live@Courthouse the following night. The young songstress, who started off singing with her grandfather (a respected cantor who recorded his first CD at age 87), is also an award-winning dancer whose first turn centre stage was playing Annie in a Grade 4 production. According to her bio, musicality came early: "Apparently in utero, I would kick and stop in synch with whatever music (my parents) were listening to."  And Berkal-Sarbit was only too happy to interrupt her overseas adventure to chat about her forthcoming album and upcoming gigs.

Q What was it like being in the studio with that stellar group of much older musicians?

A It was very intimidating at the beginning. I'd barely been singing jazz for two years and here I was recording with people like Dave Young ... they made me feel comfortable. A lot of those musicians play on the Divas shows, so I was familiar with them. Bill (King) got them all together; I didn't really have any involvement in the musician part.

Q When you eventually have your own band you'll be the boss.

A I know. I definitely have to learn assertiveness training. Bill's been doing that for me now and I've been watching him carefully.

Q How did you decide on the songs?

A Bill sent me a bunch of CDs and I went through all of them and found the ones that inspired me. A lot of people ask, `How can you sing a song about love and all that kind of stuff and be able to portray it with feeling and emotion?' I say actors can do it, so why can't I? You just have to find a personal connection, even if it's not the same thing the song is talking about; it doesn't have to be, `Okay, I got dumped and drink and smoke now.'

Q What was your introduction to jazz?

A My dad is a huge jazz buff, but as a kid I didn't pay much attention to it. I used to sing musical theatre. About three years ago, I was participating in the International Music Festival. I did a lot of Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder songs in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but when we got to New York, my dad suggested I sing a jazz song. So I did "Angel Eyes" and "The Man I Love." I realized that music was way more challenging and fun – more of a storyline, more dynamics – and I wanted to continue learning about it. I listened to all the old Ella and Sarah and Carmen first, because I wanted to get the basis. And then I moved on to more modern artists, like Molly Johnson.

Q Which female jazz vocalist would you like to emulate?

A I think Diana Krall has an amazing career. She's made it to a point where a lot of people know who she is, yet she has complete privacy. That would be amazing. I do want to be a singer, but I have fallbacks.

Q Like what?

A I want to be a chef. I love cooking and baking. I also want to go to law school, but I don't know.

Q What does the word diva mean to you?

A I know that I'm not one. A diva is someone fussy, someone requesting water at a certain temperature. I don't need a lot of prepping. I go up there and I sing. It's pretty simple.

Q What do your friends say about you singing jazz?

A Some of them are really supportive, but I get crap from lots of them too. I don't think some of them get it in terms of the commitment and how much it means to me. It's something that I've chosen and the people that support it are my true friends.

Q Do you listen to other music?

A I listen to the pop station once in awhile. I know all those people, I'm not completely out of it.

Keite Young Sings Of Sin And Salvation

Source: Paula Witt, Shore Fire Media, pwitt@shorefire.com], Carrie Tolles, ctolles@shorefire.com]

(April 5, 2007)
Keite (pronounced Keet) Young, ordained minister and R&B crooner, sings of sin and salvation on his stellar debut 'The Rise and Fall of Keite Young' (Hidden Beach Recordings, June 12).  The uncanny duality is personified by the very title of the album as Young resounds with the sacred and the profane, the sanctified and irreverent.  Whether it is the sin of sexual desires on the sultry track "The Way You Love Me" or the salvation of the faithful anthem "Pray" - the album is a testament to life's yin and yang touching on a kaleidoscope of human emotion. Ordained as a minister at 15 years old, Keite Young joins a long tradition of great soul artists such as Al Green, Johnnie Harrison Taylor and Teddy Pendergrass who have sung of their passions for both the spiritual and the flesh.  Like Young, Teddy Pendergrass became an ordained minister at an early age and later went on to record sultry love songs like "Turn Off The Lights" and "Love TKO." Celebrated soulster Johnnie Harrison Taylor was also a preacher before he recorded the steamy hits "Disco Lady" and "Who's Making Love," while Al Green joined the ministry in the midst of his popularity in the mid-70s and continues to record and perform secular music today.

On Young's 'The Rise and Fall,' the diddy about unfulfilled passion, "If We Were Alone," is juxtaposed with the spiritually uplifting song "E.N.S. (Everybody Needs Somebody)," which Keite explains "speaks to the acknowledgment that God is the ultimate answer to all questions." Like the legendary crooners who came before him, Young does not shy away from singing about humanly passion but his album also shows a passion for something greater. Keite Young is the newest addition to the Hidden Beach Recordings roster, home to groundbreaking artists like GRAMMY® award winning singer Jill Scott, saxophonist Mike Phillips, soul duo Kindred the Family Soul and the "Unwrapped" music series. On Young's debut album 'The Rise and Fall of Keite Young,' the singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist channels the musical passion and adventure of Al Green, Muddy Waters, Sly Stone and the Beatles to artfully create his own singular, dynamic space.

Listen to "ENS (Everybody Needs Somebody)":

Listen to "If We Were Alone":

For MORE on Keite Young, check out his MySpace page: www.myspace.com/keiteyoung

Rob Lutes - Another Unfamiliar Face In The Crowd

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist

(April 05, 2007) In the overcrowded Canadian roots music marketplace a humble artist willing to let his or her music do the talking is a rare breed.  Montreal-based singer-songwriter
Rob Lutes is apparently in no great hurry to get to the head of the line, though with three well-reviewed CDs and some major international songwriting awards to his credit, you'd think he'd be a major player on the festival circuit, or at least a familiar name on the roots music trail.  Yet despite having been selected to perform at such major events as the Toronto International Bluesfest, the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Lutes arrives back in Toronto for a show at Clinton's Tavern tomorrow night a virtual unknown in the town where he first started honing his musical chops around 1989.  "I'm trying not to chase the magic moment," he said in a recent phone interview from his Montreal home. "If it comes, I'll take it ... I'll know it's the real thing." The one-time tree-planter has reasons for taking his time.  One is his 14-year-old daughter, the gift of a failed relationship. He moved to Montreal in the first place to be close to her, and is reluctant to roam too far. The other is his day gig writing and packaging promotional material for the National Film Board.

"It pays well, it keeps me grounded, and writing every day is good exercise." A gifted and insightful lyricist with a melancholy bent, Lutes has also developed a soulful, gravelled singing style that has drawn comparisons to John Hiatt, Van Morrison and Fred Eaglesmith. And though his songwriting heroes are American roots veterans Kris Kristofferson and Chris Smither – "Chris is a cut above ... he writes about the real challenges of living in a very subtle way" – and contemporaries Dave Alvin and Buddy Miller, Lutes has unintentionally crossed over to blues territory in this country, largely because of the abundance of acoustic blues venues in Montreal. "I've never thought of myself as a blues singer," Lutes said. "But once I started playing those places, I slowly gained a lot of respect for blues artists like Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Blake. The blues kind of crept into my songs. "In a sense, all the songs I like have something in common with the blues – three chords and narratives that convey some kind of catharsis." Here to launch his third CD, Ride the Shadows, Lutes is scrutinizing tentative offers to perform in France, Germany and the U.S., where the album has already garnered great reviews and his award-winning song "Cold Canadian Road" is getting substantial airplay. Several of his songs have been recorded by Montreal artists, including Dawn Tylor Watson, Bob Walsh and Nanette Workman. "These things just fall into my lap," Lutes added. "I don't have a manager or an agent. Someone will come along sooner or later. I'm not in a big hurry."

Carl Thomas: Better Days Ahead

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Apr. 6, 07) Seven years ago when singer/songwriter
Carl Thomas released his sparkling debut project 'Emotional,' it beckoned a new generation of soul.  Without any gimmicks, his smooth and charming vocal gift drew comparisons to the forefathers Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye, and opened up the gateway for hip-hop soul's new breed of crooners. While the masterfully produced opus signalled new life for Sean 'Diddy' Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment empire, Thomas never really rose from the shadow of the media-garnering music mogul's largesse.  Armed with a new record deal -- via former Motown Records chief Jheryl Busby's new Umbrella Recordings imprint -- the platinum-selling Chicago native plans to release his new album, titled 'So Much Better,' this summer. The project's lead track, '2 Pieces' has already generated buzz at Urban AC radio.

New-school R&B hit-maker Mike City (who produced 'I Wish') is helming 'So Much Better,' which will feature other in-demand knob-turners Jimmy Jam &Terry Lewis with Big Jim Wright, Brian Michael Cox, and up and coming producing team, Pitch Black. According to a spokesperson, guest collaborations will include Brandy, Dave Hollister, and Lalah Hathaway. "In addition to being collaborators, Carl and I are long- time friends. We decided that while he was in between deals we would do an album together which would be released on my Unsung Entertainment label. Thanks to Carl and Mr. Busby, who gave us the one-off deal, on his Umbrella Recordings imprint, I am able to launch my label with a major star," stated City, who is credited with introducing the careers of Anthony Hamilton and Sunshine Anderson. Umbrella Recordings' first release was five-decade-spanning diva Patti Labelle's first gospel album, 'The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle, which has been in the Top 5 on Billboard's "Top Gospel Albums" chart for 14 weeks and held the number one spot for 10 weeks. "To have Carl Thomas as our second release is truly a blessing." Busby said. "He is the ultimate male soul singer of the day and we are very pleased that he decided to help his friend and do a one off deal with us. I am certain that this record will help to further cultivate his career and solidify his growth for his next deal."

Meeting Of The Jazz-Fuelled Minds

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Jazz Reporter

(April 09, 2007) It seems like a slick marketing ploy, but the back-to-back releases of two different albums from the same recording session were actually borne of the integrity of two like-minded jazz musicians.  "We didn't tell the label we were going to do it," explained guitarist
Pat Metheny of the 2005 studio date with pianist Brad Mehldau and Mehldau's rhythm section, which yielded Metheny Mehldau and Quartet, released last September and March, respectively.  Though they'd never shared a bandstand before, the highly rated Nonesuch Record label mates wound up with two dozen enterprising tracks which they took to company president Bob Hurwitz. "We went to Bob and said `We just recorded 2 1/2 hours worth of music, what should we do?' And he kind of lived with it for a month or so, and then said `I think it's too much to put it out all at once.'" It was Hurwitz's idea to make the first record duets and the second mostly quartets, releasing them a few months apart and ahead of hitting the road.

The albums have garnered stellar reviews and brisk sales. The pair, along with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard from Melhdau's trio, are drawing capacity crowds on the tour that lands at the Hummingbird Centre tonight.  "What's pretty unusual about this project is that Brad and I had never played together," said the loquacious Missouri-born Metheny in a phone interview from his home state. "We didn't even know each other that well when we went into the studio. We were both excited about it and both had written a lot of music in preparation for the recording, and walked in there with 24 tunes between the two of us and walked out with 24 completed tracks that were pretty much what the tunes were supposed to be." Those nuggets include stirring ballads, such as "Find Me in Your Dreams," dedicated to Metheny's wife of 12 years.  "That was the first tune that I ever felt was worthy of her," said the 17-time Grammy winner.  Despite the self-taught veteran fusionist's 30-year association with keyboardist Lyle Mays in the Pat Metheny Group, there were "no stumbling blocks" to collaborating with the 16-years-younger, classically trained Mehldau, a noted improviser with a penchant for Radiohead covers.

"There's a lot of implied harmony in what Brad does that anybody playing with him would have to be ready for, but that suits my style well, because I'm kind of like that." Adds Metheny, "There are some difficulties about guitar and piano playing together without bass and drums, because both instruments are then demanded to do a certain kind of connection to the other harmonic instrument where there's potential for disaster; there's a lot of notes flying around.  But problems failed to materialize. "Within the first 30 seconds of playing together we kind of psyched out a way of responding to each other that avoided a lot of the pitfalls." And touring together is fostering their rapport, said Metheny. "We've been out on the road now for about three weeks and already we're playing stuff that's not on the records.... It's one of the best tours I've ever been a part of." The 52-year-old father of two young children still performs up to 240 shows annually.  "It's thrilling to me that thousands of people come and know the music and have followed my little piece of the world over these years," he said. Metheny is a magnet for guitar enthusiasts who'll be craning to identify the four or five guitars he'll utilize tonight. "I have about 50 (including more than a dozen designed by Toronto luthier Linda Manzer), but it's not like I collect them.  "Every one that I have I use for something. And the ones I'm not using I tend to give away or sell. For me, a guitar is a translation device for ideas. I'm not really a guitar freak."

Jon B Bringing The Love Back To R&B

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Michelle A. Samaad

(April 10, 2007) *With more than a decade on the grind, one would think
Jon B could easily rest on his multi-platinum hits, chillin' somewhere back in a mid-1990s rhythm and blues time warp. But this is Jon B. He's still a youngster at the age of 32 but the singer, musician, songwriter and producer not only belongs to that tight group of crooners of the ivory persuasion who purposely chose the R&B and soul path, he has worked with a litany of artists up and down the register since his early 20s from Toni Braxton and Tupac Shakur to Faith Evans and Michael Jackson, bringing those extra somethins' to a track.  This time, Jon B is set to usher in spring with the release of "Back to Love," a collection of songs inspired by new love and upcoming additions. His second work under his new label home, Arsenal Records, an independent label distributed through Universal Records, Jon says the CD is his attempt to guide the world back to a time long neglected.

"These are trying times in relationships, be it marriage or monogamy. The levels are real low now," Jon said during a recent interview in his hotel room hours before he was to perform at a Washington D.C club. "Right now, people know love should be the message but they're kind of playing with it, beating around the bush with it. The main inspiration behind the album is I want to bring love back to the table. We have to get back to that." With the CD nearly done, Jon feels no pressure to turn in nothing less than perfection but he's eager to get his music out there to fill what he considers a void in R&B music.  "It's a hard thing for me because I'm not satisfied yet," he said at the time of the interview on completing the CD. "I love it but I'm very much my worst critic, more than everyone. We have about three or four songs to record before I can really say I want to turn it in."

For full article by Michelle A. Samaad, go

Dr. Rani Whitfield: 'Tha Hip-Hop Doc' Interview with Kam Williams

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com – by Kam Williams

(April 10, 2007) *While the naysayers felt Hip-Hop would only be around long enough to quench a temporary thirst for kids in the South Bronx, it's gone on to become an all-encompassing cultural trendsetter.  Rap's main component, music, has done much to create an undivided nation regardless of color, religion, background or profession. And
Rani G. Whitfield M.D., a board certified family physician, is a pioneering participant in that regard. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. Whitfield earned his undergraduate degree while attending Southern University. From there, he moved on to complete a sports medicine fellowship at Ohio State University and ultimately finished up his family practice in Dayton. Upon moving back home, he became active in the community, mostly offering his services to local schools. As the team doctor at all-black Baton Rouge High, he built a solid rapport with the students. Currently in the midst of developing the Hip Hop Healthy Coalition, he plans to merge his three favourite pastimes: music, medicine and sports for the good of the community. Dr. Whitfield calls his most crowning achievement his sixteen month old daughter, Raina. "That's it," he says. "When it's all said and done. my goal in life is to never neglect her and always make sure I take care and do for her."

Kam Williams: You're known as "Tha Hip-Hop Doc." How'd you get such a colourful nickname?

Rani Whitfield: The name was given to me by the kids at the local high school I work with here in Baton Rouge. While riding in my car to sporting events, I would play alternatives to their sometimes "hard on the ears" music, and they began to really enjoy my music. It became a challenge as I would play old school hip-hop that was clean, but creative like Run DMC's "King of Rock" or the Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight". Sometimes they enjoyed it, sometimes they didn't, but it would bring about discussion, dialogue, and a rapport.

KW: How were you able to develop that rapport with the Hip-Hop Generation?

RW: By being accessible to my students and having a true and sincere love of hip-hop music. Young people only respond when they feel that you are sincere and actually care about them. To be easily accessible to young people makes a big difference. Even when I lecture at places away from my hometown, I think the young people can tell that I want to be there and I give my all to them.

KW: Does that lead to criticism from your colleagues, the way that Professor Cornel West took some heat, and eventually left Harvard for Princeton after making a rap CD?

RW: It has to a certain degree, but I can't let that stop me. You can always find something wrong with an approach to reaching young people. To be totally honest, I could care less if it was classical music, country music, house music, etcera. As long as it grasps the attention of these young people and educates them, I'm all for it.

KW: Have you ever been to Princeton, which is where I live?

RW: I have not, but I would love to. Send a brother a ticket. [Laughs]

KW: Why do you care about the kids, when so many people easily dismiss youngsters who embrace the gangsta' rap lifestyle, and its seeming celebration of materialism, violence, misogyny and womanizing.

The Rock Writer Myth

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Liz Worth, Special To The Star

(April 10, 2007) There's a running joke among music writers that if they were to change careers, they'd go through withdrawal of the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll variety.  But the sarcasm that reverberates off each word in that sentiment is about as subtle as a Jimi Hendrix riff.  The reality is, there isn't much room in
music journalism to reminisce about partying 'til you puke. The rock-'n'-roll-all-night-and-party-all-day cliché is a fantasy. As much as it's been romanticized, writing requires a lot less drinking and a lot more thinking.  I've worked as a freelance music writer for the past several years, and the myths about the wild world of music journalism have been busted for me.  When MTV's reality show I'm From Rolling Stone slipped under the radar, buried in late-night programming, it didn't come as much of a surprise to me. The show followed six 20-somethings who had landed "the internship of a lifetime," a summer spent writing for the iconic Rolling Stone magazine. The premise was to see the dreams of these young writers being realized, or rescinded, while competing for a year-long contributing-editor position.

I could have told them that a reality show about aspiring music journalists was doomed from the start. Because, the true reality is – based on my experiences with wannabe rock stars, washed-up reunion heroes and cocky up-and-comers – writing about music doesn't come with as much behind-the-scenes dirt or debauchery as people expect.  My earliest memory of a rock star close encounter was in Grade 5, when a classmate's older sister went backstage after a Guns N' Roses concert. We stood in the schoolyard, awed, as the story was relayed. But the tale ended with big sis coming home in tears. The band's ego, machismo, and attitude was a sobering reality to a naïve and devoted teenage fan.  I've never gone into an interview not expecting to run into an ego. The most attitude I've received was not from a stadium star, but from Murray Lightburn of Montreal's The Dears.  I was writing a piece was for a Toronto freebie mag, The Spill. It was one of my first assignments. Lightburn was supposed to call me at 1 p.m.; it was after 1:30 p.m. by the time my phone rang. Only a few questions in, he wavered and said, "You know what? I gotta go." There was a "click" and that was it. There was one band, however, that caught me off guard in a way I never could have anticipated. In 2005, I was working on a story about then-newly reunited English post-punk group, Gang of Four for New York's Sentimentalist Magazine.

I arrived for the interview at the Phoenix Concert Theatre only to find the band still hadn't shown up. The cell number I had for their road manager wasn't working. The club's promoter had heard no word, either. Three hours later, Gang of Four came tramping up the pockmarked red carpet.  I didn't even recognize them. Sure, they had broken up in the '80s, so it's not as if I was expecting them to look the same. But it wasn't their physical appearance that made me mistake them for Phoenix employees – it was what they were carrying: shopping bags. These English post-punks established themselves as a highly political act with strong anti-commercial, anti-capitalist leanings. I spent the rest of the day trying to forget they'd shown up three hours late because they'd been shopping at the Gap. Snagging an in-person interview at all is a bit of a coup. Journalists and musicians come together more often through bad cellphone connections.  Those one-on-ones have made for some interesting moments. Last summer, for example, I let an aging punk rocker raid my parent's fridge.  I was interviewing Chris Haight of The Viletones for a book about the local punk scene. After a Sunday afternoon on the patio of the Horseshoe Tavern, talking about Toronto's musical notoriety, he wanted to eat. "Getting something to eat" turned into crashing a party where venomous green drinks called Corpse Revivers, which I readily sampled, were served. An expected one-hour interview had turned into a day-long event, and it wasn't over. Haight reminded me there was still the question of food. The closest option was a scuffed-up looking noodle place. Unimpressed, Haight waited for a better suggestion. My parents always have food and always cook on Sunday nights. I didn't think Haight would go for it, so I mentioned it expecting the day would end there. I was so wrong. Twenty minutes later, Haight was flipping through my mom's record collection while I raided the fridge. I'm not sure what my mom thought of it all; she headed for the basement and didn't come back up until all was quiet on the main floor.

But interviews like that aren't anywhere near typical. There may well be another side, a world to rival the mythology of late Rolling Stone music writer and critic Lester Bangs. But I haven't found it. I've crawled out of bed for 6 a.m. interviews and spent many a weekend finishing stories due Monday morning. And both remind me that the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll are reserved for those playing the music – not the people writing about it.

Liz Worth is a 25-year-old Toronto-based music writer.

Time for Il Divo To Freshen Act

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - John Terauds, Entertainment Reporter

(April 10, 2007) The four boys in black have been around the world several times, scooping up fans in their pop-operatic net like trawlers off the Atlantic shore. In slightly more than two years, pop impresario Simon Cowell's adult answer to the once-ubiquitous boy band has gone from notable novelty to album-chart phenomenon, to a mainstay in the hearts of adult-contemporary listeners.
Il Divo returned to Toronto for their second Air Canada Centre concert in less than 12 months last night, belting out Spanish, Italian, French and English-languages odes to love and romance to a capacity crowd that covered the full spectrum of ages and backgrounds. The four men – Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, French pop crooner Sébastien Izambard, American tenor David Miller and Swiss tenor Urs Bühler – are each handsome, talented specimens of well-groomed maleness in their early to mid-30s. It's no surprise that the swoon factor is high. By the end of their 100-minute performance, the five-level stage, which also contained a pop band and the Il Divo Orchestra, was thronged by women tossing bouquets, offering gifts, pushing their programs forth for autographs or, in one instance, thrusting their whole being towards her favourite masculine magnet.

The rapturous cheers and applause after three encores showed that all is well in Il Divo fan land. But the concert was far from perfect. For the critical ear, the Il Divo act is getting a bit stale. The quartet has three full-length albums out now. Each follows the same musical formula: solo opening vocals are passed from one singer to the next, followed by a full-throated quartet chorus with full orchestra. In song. After song. After song. Also, visual charms notwithstanding, these boys don't interact with the audience much. They saunter about the stage or sit on tall stools, sometimes looking almost bored when they are not belting into their mics. One can't help but compare them to the younger Josh Groban, who also recently sang in the same venue. Not only do his voice and stage presence continue to grow, he has a genuine rapport with his audience, even when they number in the thousands in a big venue. Last night's show had some problems with lighting and the big-screen projections. But, as go the words their final encore last night ("Somewhere," the bonus track on their latest album, Siempre), "There's a time for us." That would be now, for Il Divo and their fans.


KRS-One: Look Who's Back

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Apr. 5, 2007) Though he's been making the bulk of his bread lecturing the higher learning masses, hip-hop veteran
KRS-One plans to release a new recording project this spring. On May 22, Koch Records will release a brand new album from the rap philosopher, titled 'Hip Hop Lives.' Executive produced by hip-hop pioneer Marley Marl, the new project pairs two of the genre's most venerable talents.  In the mid 1980's, KRS-One and Marley Marl were embroiled in one of hip-hop's fiercest lyrical battles, following the release of MC Shan's 'Queensbridge' and the answer-record "The Bridge is Over." For the title track, KRS-One (largely recognized as "The Greatest Live MC of All Time") focuses on hip-hop's mortality and reminds listeners of the ways in which Hip Hop renews itself annually. Another track, 'Kill A Rapper,' touches on the murders of popular rappers and begs the question of why Rap murders go unresolved by the police. Through his organization, Temple of Hip-Hop, KRS-One regularly speaks on university campuses across the globe. Marley Marl currently host a late night radio show on New York City's Power 105.

Common Rhymes With Kanye, Lily Allen On 'Forever'

Excerpt www.billboard.com - Mariel Concepcion, N.Y.

(Apr. 9, 2007) On the heels of 2005's "Be," which debuted at a career-best No. 2 on The Billboard 200,
Common has set a July 10 release date for his next Geffen album, "Finding Forever." The set features production from Kanye West, will.i.am, the late J Dilla and Devo Springsteen.  "I want to leave a mark on this earth," the Chicago rapper tells Billboard.com. "By making music and saying what I have to say in my music is one of the ways I will exist forever."  On the flirty "So Far Too Go" featuring a rare guest turn from D'Angelo, Common rhymes, "We make good music, and baby you are the vocals." The Nina Simone-sampling "Misunderstood" is a song Common describes as a "story of people talking to God." "He stood on the corner like the rest of them, but didn't know the corner ain't have the best for him," he raps.  Another standout track is the Lily Allen-assisted "Driving Me Wild," which Common describes as a song about obsessions. "Driving herself crazy like the astronaut lady," he chants, "Love is not a mystery, it's everything."  The artist has yet to announce tour plans, but has one-off shows scheduled Saturday (April 14) at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and June 20 with Joss Stone and Ryan Shaw at New York's Central Park SummerStage.

Madonna, Chilis Headline Climate Concerts

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(April 10, 2007) LONDON –
Live Earth concerts will be held July 7 in cities around the world, including London, aimed at raising climate change awareness. Madonna, the Beastie Boys and Black Eyed Peas will headline the concert at Wembley stadium in London. They will be joined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Keane, Foo Fighters and others. Headliners for the U.S. concert at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., include Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Kanye West, Rihanna, John Mayer, Smashing Pumpkins and Fall Out Boy, it was announced Tuesday. Other shows will take place in Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; Sydney, Australia; Tokyo; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Organizers have also promised an event in Antarctica. The concerts mark the start of a new campaign called Save Our Selves, The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis. "This monster line-up will ensure Live Earth meets our goal of bringing together people from around the world to combat the climate crisis," Live Earth Founder and Executive Producer Kevin Wall said in a statement Tuesday. "Musicians who have answered our call span multiple genres and generations." The concerts will be broadcast in the U.S. by General Electric Co.'s NBC network and on more than 120 networks around the world, and streamed live online at www.liveearth.msn.com. Promoters hope the concerts will reach an audience of two billion people. Proceeds will create a foundation to combat climate change led by The Alliance for Climate Protection, which is chaired by former Vice President Al Gore.

Common Prepares For ‘Forever’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(April 11, 2007) *His last album, 2005’s “Be,” was the most successful of his career, having entered the Billboard 200 chart at No. 2. Two years later, Chicago rapper
Common returns with the July 10th release of “Finding Forever,” a collection he hopes will raise his game even higher. "I want to leave a mark on this earth," Common tells Billboard.com of the set, which includes production from Kanye West, will.i.am, the late J Dilla and Devo Springsteen. "By making music and saying what I have to say in my music is one of the ways I will exist forever." West produced the first single, "The People," which Common describes as a "declaration type of song." Another of West's productions is a song called "Black Maybe."  D’Angelo makes a rare appearance on the flirty "So Far To Go," which includes Common’s line: "We make good music, and baby you are the vocals."    The Nina Simone-sampling "Misunderstood" is a song Common describes as a "story of people talking to God." "He stood on the corner like the rest of them, but didn't know the corner ain't have the best for him," he raps.   British pop star Lily Allen jumps in on "Driving Me Wild," which Common describes as a song about obsessions. "Driving herself crazy like the astronaut lady," he raps, "Love is not a mystery, it's everything."



Halle's Comet Of Confessions

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Stephen Cole

(Apr. 10, 2007)
Halle Berry is good at leaking secrets, making her a reliable celebrity, if not always a contented actress. Working a press junket in Toronto in March to promote her new movie, the lurid erotic thriller The Perfect Stranger, the actress grabbed the cover of The Toronto Sun by revealing why she first exposed her breasts on screen. According to Berry, her infamous Girls Gone Wild moment in the 1999 film Swordfish represented a personal and professional breakthrough. "I needed to face this thing called nudity that I was afraid of," she confessed, opening up to reporter Bruce Kirkland. "To do it in a big, gratuitous way: 'Let's see the tits and move on!' " Only then, Berry argued, could she manage her Oscar-winning performance in the sexually charged Monster's Ball. Even as the actress made front-page headlines in Toronto, Halle's publicity comet splashed down in supermarket magazines everywhere. In the pages of Parade, Berry admitted attempting suicide after her 1997 divorce to baseball player David Justice. ("I was sitting in my car, and I knew the gas was coming when I had an image of my mother finding me . . .") In Style readers learned that the 40-year-old indulged in a peculiar form of self-torture: hanging on to jeans she wore at 15. ("I try them on once a year, and if I can still fit into them, then all is good in the world.") In Esquire, meanwhile, she announced that she was giving up talking to blabby reporters. Berry wanted her self-image back. But not, presumably, until after she was through championing The Perfect Stranger, the story of a sexy reporter (Berry) who investigates a sexy ad-agency tycoon (Bruce Willis) about his involvement in a sex murder. Ironically, the film is about keeping secrets.

You ask the actress: How far would you go to keep a secret? "All the way," Berry laughs, tossing her beautiful bronze head back. In his prime, Justice could not have batted one further out of the park with so short a swing. Next question: Did Berry find it difficult completing The Perfect Stranger's sex scenes, especially the restaurant sequence where she plays footsies and handsies with co-star Willis? Was she at all intimidated making out with a perfect stranger who just happened to be a big film star? "Oh, Bruce isn't a stranger," Berry mentions with the wave of a hand. "He's my neighbour. He has the beach house next to me in Malibu. When I committed to Perfect Stranger, I thought [the part of Harrison Hill] was perfect for him, so I walked over to his house with the script, knocked on the door, and said, 'I know everybody in the business hates it when someone does this, but here's a script I want you to read.' " What did he say? "He said, 'Cool.' "

Every time Berry opens her mouth, it seems, a choice quote tumbles free. Is it possible the actress's media savvy comes from her high-school journalism days in a suburb of Cleveland? You see, prior to moving into her Malibu beach house, long before Catwoman and her Oscar win, even before the actress was crowned Miss Teen America in 1986, Berry was editor of the Bedford Falls High School student newspaper. At the time, she wanted to become a reporter. "Oh my God, Bedford Falls, football, basketball were the big things," Berry remembers, her ever-present smile widening. You told judges in the Miss Teen Ohio contest that you wanted to be a television journalist. How far did your journalism career go? "Not far," Berry says with a sigh. "When I went to [Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College], there was this journalism class I took. First day, I remember, we had to go out and do three things, but I couldn't do the third." Which was? "I had to talk to someone. Do an interview." Why didn't you? "Don't know. I was too shy or something." Perhaps here we're coming to the essential secret of Halle Berry. How difficult was it for the teenage daughter of a white single mother -- a Liverpool-born psychiatric nurse at that -- and a black father who left when she was 4 to grow up in Ronald Reagan's America? Especially in a locale that embodies not only America's cherished small-town values, but also its paralyzing fears: Bedford Falls is, of course, where Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed went to high school (and almost encountered ruin) in the film It's a Wonderful Life.

Going to Bedford Falls High, Berry grew up ambitious enough to dream of winning Miss World (she finished sixth), yet frightened to talk to strangers. Eventually, she became a public contradiction: a shy actress. "I can't watch myself onscreen, my face the size of a Buick, every imperfection magnified," she says. Mind you, in the next breath, Berry freely admits to barging in on Bruce Willis. The surest proof that Berry's childhood wars are never far from the surface: The actress's pet project is a proposed TV sitcom based on Angela Nissel's memoir, Mixed: My Life in Black and White. "It's a comedy because you have to laugh at how adults in America, my generation -- and it was way worse before us -- dealt with mixed race," Berry says. "The kids are so much better about race today. They're colour-blind compared to their parents." While she develops Mixed for TV, Berry continues working on films. Her next shoot, Tulia, is a crime drama that reunites her with Monster's Ball co-star Billy Bob Thornton. For now, she also continues giving interviews, spilling secrets to a group she now views with suspicion, despite her early ambition to be a reporter. If you don't like seeing yourself on screen, how do you feel reading about yourself in magazines and newspapers? I ask Berry, prompting a final memorable quote: "Oh, I just want to barf," she says.

Bob Clark Our Homegrown Movie Icon

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com -

(April 06, 2007) A little bit of Canada died along with
Bob Clark. The writer/director of Porky's and A Christmas Story, movies that loom on the Canuck cultural landscape despite U.S. settings, died in a car crash Wednesday on California's Pacific Coast Highway.  He was 67. His son Ariel Hanrath-Clark, 22, also died in the crash, caused by a head-on collision with an SUV, whose driver has been charged with impaired driving and manslaughter. Always "Bob" and never "Robert," Clark was one of Canada's most successful moviemakers, although he wasn't Canadian by birth. Born in New Orleans and reared in Florida, he came to Toronto in the early 1970s. He made a splash with Black Christmas in 1974, the horror film often credited as the first of the slasher genre. He moved upscale in 1979 with the Sherlock Holmes thriller Murder By Decree, which starred Christopher Plummer and which won Clark the director's prize at the Genie Awards. A year later he made Tribute, the screen adaptation of a Broadway play about ambition and family values that won Jack Lemmon the Genie for best actor.

But it was with the teen sex romp Porky's in 1982 that Clark really carved his initials into the maple tree. By that time he had joined with a production team that included Don Carmody and Harold Greenberg, two names that in later years would figure prominently in the Canadian movie industry. Set in 1954, and based in part on his own youthful hijinks, Porky's combined teen sex with a comic tale of revenge that made an astonishing $150 million (U.S.) at the North America box office. The take in Canadian dollars was $11.2 million, enough to give Porky's the implausible title of most successful Canuck movie ever in Canada, until last year's Bon Cop, Bad Cop passed it with $11.3 million in domestic receipts.  "I remember when I first read Bob's screenplay for Porky's," Carmody said from Montreal yesterday. "I said, `Holy Christ, we can't make this thing!' Then I went back and said, `That's exactly why we have to make it, because nobody's ever seen anything like this!' We got on board and it was a wild ride, I can tell you." Like Black Christmas before it, Porky's influence was greater than its aesthetic achievements. After it followed innumerable teen sex comedies by other directors, most notably the highly profitable American Pie franchise. Carmody, the producer of such recent hits as Chicago and Silent Hill, recalled Clark as a guy who loved making movies so much, he didn't care whether they were lowbrow or highbrow.

"I will always remember watching Bob giving instructions to the actors in Porky's. He was a really good actor himself and he had the most elastic face. When he described what he wanted his actors to do, he'd be acting it out for them and I'd just be sitting there laughing, watching him do it," said Carmody. "He was one of those guys, very idiosyncratic, who had his own way of doing things. But you could never dislike him. There was always something about him that no matter how frustrating things were, he'd always make you smile. He was so passionate about things." Clark had a sentimental side, too, which showed up in A Christmas Story, his 1983 Yuletide tale set in the America of the 1940s that has become a seasonal staple. That tale of a young nerd named Ralphie and his air rifle ambitions is as much a part of the American mindset now as White Christmas or A Miracle on 34th Street. It earned Clark his second Genie Award for directing. The Cleveland house where the exteriors of Ralphie's home were shot has been turned into A Christmas Story museum. And Carmody said he often sees replicas of Ralphie's father's fishnet-stocking lamp on eBay. After A Christmas Story, Clark and Carmody went separate ways. Clark moved to Hollywood to make films that had bigger budgets but smaller souls, garnering Razzie nominations for clunkers like Rhinestone and SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2.  At the time of his death, he and Carmody were talking about remaking his first film, the 1972 zombie spoof Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things.

"Quite frankly, his bad studio pictures really hurt him," Carmody said. "He squandered all the good will from Porky's and A Christmas Story. But he just loved the process. It was in his blood. He loved storytelling ... he wasn't subtle. It's going to be a sadder place without him."

Idris Elba ‘Reaping’ The Benefits

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough

(April 6, 2007) *
Idris Elba just can’t stay out of the theatre; the movie theatre, that is.  The actor, fresh from his run in “Daddy’s Little Girls,” can be seen on the screen again in “The Reaping,” which opens today (Friday) in theatres nationwide.  The film stars Hilary Swank as a former Christian missionary, and Elba, who investigate a small town that appears to be suffering from the 10 biblical plagues.   “I had a very interesting character, Ben, with a very interesting arc and I enjoyed playing it; I enjoyed exploring it as we were filming,” Elba said and described his character as a religious man with an interesting background.  “He’s a religious man that debunks miracles and the reason for him doing that is to prove scientifically that God exists. So Hilary’s character and Ben have a very interesting dynamic there. She’s an atheist and he’s a man that wants to prove that God exists,” he explained. “We didn’t overplay that dynamic, but it was definitely underlying in all our scenes.” Elba, the Londoner who made his stateside mark as Russell “Stringer” Bell on HBO’s “The Wire” told reporters that while his character is religious, he considers himself simply spiritual – though he can see how his character could become passionate about proving God.

 “I would love to prove there is a higher being. I would love to prove scientifically that God exists. I am not a religious man, but I am a spiritual being,” he said. The film is described as a thriller and categorized, at the behest of director Stephen Hopkins, as a horror. Hopkins, along with the actors didn’t want the film to take on such a title, as it conjures up “B-movie” images. Furthermore, some critics were weary that the film might also be a barrage of special effects. However, Elba said that the horror title and superfluous effects were not a part of making the film  “While we were making this, Stephen wanted to make us very aware that we were not making a horror movie. So we were staying away from the horror clichés.” And in reference to the use of special effects, Elba assured audiences of the film’s authenticity, saying that the locale – the Louisiana Bayou was pretty much what you get on screen. And he described that the sequence involving the plague of locusts, leaned a lot on reality, too.  “The Bayous – that’s what it looks like. There wasn’t much in terms of green screen. And the most horrific part was the locusts. We shot that in this big ‘container’, but that was horrific for me because I can’t stand bugs and these bad boys are huge.” Speaking of the Louisiana Bayou, the locale had suffered some major damage from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. The film was in production at the time and filming had to be interrupted. Elba

 “Here we are doing this film about acts of God, and it just really changed the way we saw what we were doing,” Elba said of returning to Louisiana and, in particular, working with locals who had lost family and homes to Katrina. “It really gelled us together. There was a sense of ‘I’m really glad I’m alive’ and that transferred onscreen from everything; from the characters in the forefront to the background. I think we all really had a good time making this film. As dark as this film is and as complex as it is, it was a real bonding experience.” While taking on the burden of proving there is a God, Elba is set for another big project. He’ll be starring in “American Gangster” with Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, and Cuba Gooding Jr., expected this fall.  “The Reaping,” also starring David Morrissey, opens today, in theatres through out North America. For more, go to www.thereapingmovie.com.

Russell Is Lame-Proof

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Geoff Pevere

(April 06, 2007) "Of the male actors of our generation," pronounces Quentin Tarantino of his Death Proof leading man
Kurt Russell, "he is the most iconic." Kurt Russell?  The one who grew up in Disney movies like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes? Who retired from movies to play pro baseball when his child stardom dimmed? Who was Ted Nugent's best man and continues to be happily unmarried to long-time companion Goldie Hawn? Who still does most of his own stunts? Who became a genuine cult article in movies like Big Trouble in Little China and The Thing?  And who plays a singularly seductive and perverse perpetrator of vehicular homicide – named Stuntman Mike – in Tarantino's half of the retro-double bill Grindhouse?

Well, why not? At 56 years of age, Russell still has an Elvis-ian head of full, swept-back hair, an easy grin and a face that's at once imperviously boyish and honestly lived-in. Perfect, that is, to play the kind of guy who might seduce a much younger woman into doing something she otherwise wouldn't.  Like give Stuntman Mike a lap dance. Or get in Stuntman Mike's "death-proof" car – the one that has a skull painted on the hood. "As an actor I think there was one challenge," says Russell. "That was the audience knows who you are – you're the bad guy.  "So how do you get the girl in the car? You've got to still be this kind of mysterious and kind of creepy-scary guy. You can't like not be that. But you can't be it to her, because otherwise the audience would go, `Well I would never get in the car.' The danger of that is that it's just sort of nothing. So if you can be sort of nothing and still be slightly entertaining and slightly sort of mysterious, that's what you're trying to pull off." As ideally cast as Russell is as Stuntman Mike, he wasn't Tarantino's first choice for the role – and he won't say who was.

But once inspiration struck, the writer-director was so jazzed by casting Russell he customized one of the movie's funniest scenes to suit his star's unique background. Sitting in a Texas bar, Mike attempts to impress a group of young women with his stellar credentials: guest spots on vintage shows like High Chaparral, Then Came Bronson and Harry-O, stunt doubling for Robert Urich on Vega$. Then it occurs to him: "Have you ever seen any of those shows?" The women look at each other before sheepishly shaking their heads. Nope. Not one. But Russell – not to mention Mike – was on every one. That's Kurt Russell doing all the driving in Death Proof, another bit of business that wouldn't have been possible had Tarantino gone with his original choice. Russell, a licensed pilot in real life, is also a veteran stunt driver. "There's no CGI," beams Russell proudly. "My character says it in the movie. `How do you think they do that?' he asks this young woman. She says `CGI?' `Yeah, today you're probably right.' Well, this is an homage to that.  "This is just us driving cars. And that was real people crashing into real people and real stupid people doing it. Real dumb people hitting real dumb people." At this idea, the most iconic actor of our generation throws his head back and laughs.  As Tarantino says, "He really stands alone."

Will Smith: Time To Recognize Who's On Top

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Apr. 4, 2007)
Will Smith stays on top of his game. Last week, the DVD release of his Academy Award nominated flick 'The Pursuit of Happyness' arrived in stores. This week, the Philadelphia native was named the most powerful actor in Hollywood by 'Newsweek' magazine. In a story titled 'The $4 Billion Man,' writer Sean Smith reports on Smith's success, which has raked in $4.4 billion in ticket sales, worldwide.  The astounding figures bested other box-office faves such as 'Pirates of the Caribbean' star Johnny Depp and 'Meet the Fockers' actor Ben Stiller.  "An actor's power is determined primarily by opening-weekend grosses and one industry insider says Smith is "the only thing" that represents a guaranteed opening weekend," Smith reported.

The former 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air,' who cut his teeth with fame via a platinum-plated rap career, has proven to be bankable in every film genre: sci-fi, action-comedy, romantic-comedy or drama. His most memorable works include 'Six Degrees of Separation,' 'Independence Day,' 'Men In Black,' 'Hitch' and 'Ali.' 'Happyness,' reportedly made for $55 million, has grossed an astounding $298 million worldwide. And as an executive producer and star of the inspirational biopic, it is no wonder he's at the top.

Documentary Chronicles Marley Birthday Bash

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Wes Orshoski, N.Y.

(April 09, 2007)  "
Africa Unite," the documentary film capturing the 2005 concert in Ethiopia that celebrated Bob Marley's 60th birthday, received a work-in-progress preview Saturday in New York, with a little help from Marley's family and actor Danny Glover.  Before the screening at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, Glover remembered being dragged to a 1970s performance by Marley, and being forever inspired. With the Marley family's Tuff Gong Pictures, Glover's Louverture Films executive produced "Africa Unite,"  The film blends on-the-street and behind-the-scenes footage with snippets of the 12-hour concert, attended by an estimated 350,000. It features performances by Lauryn Hill, Angelique Kidjo, reggae mainstays Bob Andy, Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths, and several of Marley's children, including Ziggy, Damian, Stephen, Cedella, Julian and Ky-Mani.  The latter also performed renditions of "Redemption Song" and "No Woman No Cry" with a small backing group before the film.  

Directed by Stephanie Black -- who had previously worked with the Marleys on "Life and Debt," a look at the saga of Jamaica's beleaguered, post-Independence economy -- "Africa Unite" also delves into the purpose behind the 2005 concert: to inspire Africans, especially youths, to help themselves.  It introduces the viewer to students hailing from across the continent who were brought together in the Ethiopian capital of Adidas Ababa as part of the concert to discuss ways in which they could spur economic and educational reform and combat poverty and strife in their respective nations. It also follows the Marley brothers and a Rastafarian elder on their journey to Ethiopia.  Following the film Saturday, Marley's eldest grandchild, and his widow, Rita Marley, made brief comments before a group of drummers led a Rasta chant.


Salma Hayek, MGM to Produce Latino Movies

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com – Associated Press

(Apr. 9, 2007) LOS ANGELES —
Salma Hayek and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. have formed a new production company, aiming to create movies that not only feature Latino themes and talent but have mass-market appeal. The company, Ventanazul, will be an equal partnership between the Mexico-born actress and MGM, according to a joint announcement Monday. Under the deal, Hayek will be chief executive and her production partner Jose Tamez will serve as president. The company was expected to release between two and four films a year, with MGM handling marketing and distribution. “This deal represents an amazing opportunity to draw upon the entire range of ways the Latin world can contribute to the film industry,” Hayek said. “We want these movies to appeal to everyone, but we also hope to make Latino audiences proud.” Hayek, 40, has starred in films such as Frida, Desperado and After the Sunset. She is one of the executive producers of ABC's Ugly Betty, which is an American adaptation of a Colombian telenovela. She is engaged to businessman Francois-Henri Pinault. The couple is expecting their first child.


Dave Foley Returns To Kids' Games

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com -

April 08, 2007) You can take the Kid out of Canada, but you can't take the Canada out of the Kid. Dave Foley is supposed to be answering questions about his return to TV sketch comedy, but first the former Etobicoke native has some questions of his own. "I missed the game last night. My TiVo didn't record it. I was very angry. Did they win?" the former Kid in the Hall asks, referring to the Maple Leafs. We fill him in on the previous night's 3-2 overtime win against the Flyers.  "Oh good. I missed the 7-2 loss, but I saw the Pittsburgh game, which was amazing.... Kevin McDonald and I were always big Leaf fans. We'd always go walk over to Maple Leaf Gardens from our offices at Yonge and Wellesley, and we'd buy scalped greys and watch Leaf games all the time." Hockey isn't the only resurgent old passion of Foley's. He's going to be in a sketch show (of sorts) again, but this time he's going to have a very different role. He's the lone judge on NBC's new comedy Thank God You're Here, which premieres at 9 p.m. tomorrow.

The show's hybrid improv/sketch premise is based on an Australian series. Each week, four stars are thrust, clueless, into an improv setting and must use their wits. It's hosted by David Alan Grier (In Living Color), a sketch vet who, like Foley, holds it together. Foley says he first met with producers about how to American-ize the show and, because of his extensive experience, they tapped him to be the guy who decides which guest is crowned the episode's winner.  "Improv is not difficult at all to do. It's difficult to do well.... It helps to be a funny person and it helps to have a little bit of the skills of improv. I mean, The Kids in the Hall, we all started out in improv theatre years ago, back in the early '80s , you know, when Flock of Seagulls was big," he says on the line from his home in Los Angeles.  Foley says that plenty of actors have sketch troupe backgrounds, citing L.A.'s Groundlings and Chicago's Upright Citizens Brigade – now in New York – as two notable troupes that have produced successful comedians and actors.  (Canada has had Second City and Theatresports, the latter being where he and his fellow Kids met.) Thank God You're Here has four actors in each hour-long episode, with each actor given their own scenario to star in, and then a final all-in sketch at the end.

The only clue the participants get is the costume they're wearing, and then they walk into a room where the first line spoken is always the title of the show.  The first episode features Wayne Knight (Seinfeld's Newman), Jennifer Coolidge (Joey), Bryan Cranston (Hal from Malcolm in the Middle) and Joel McHale (host of The Soup). The second features Jason Alexander, Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Program), Jane Lynch (Best in Show) and Torontonian Harland Williams. Tom Green's scene is in the can for later in the season. "Of course, being Canadian gives them an edge. I immediately just tack on a good 10 per cent to their grade just for being Canadian," says Foley. "Tom and Harland were both hilarious when they came on the show, adding further credence to the myth that all Canadians are funny. Which to keep up, we just have to make sure we keep Atom Egoyan off the show." Surprisingly, Foley says no one has bombed so far. "I'm kind of hoping somebody does soon, just to give the show a feeling of authenticity. I think we might need somebody to bomb soon. I may have to actually go up and bomb, just to show that it's possible.  "No matter how funny you are, when you're improvising you can bomb.  "Like we have Fred Willard on the show, who's probably one of the best improvisers in the world, but even Fred could bomb. He didn't, but he could have."

Other actors who appear during the season include Fran Drescher, Tom Arnold, George Takei, Shannon Elizabeth and Paul Rodriguez. Foley says that Takei was probably the most surprising, as he really got into it.  After the interview, Foley plans a day filled with Canadian comedians. He's doing a conference call with the other Kids in the Hall to talk about writing new material for a 90-minute show they may tour, and then later Dave Thomas is coming over to shoot something for a CBC documentary on the McKenzie Brothers.  In the meantime, the most recent place you might have seen Foley is hosting Celebrity Poker. He sheepishly admits "I don't take much of an interest in the game," but he has a number of films in the can, including Postal, directed by the near-infamous Uwe Boll. "That's based on a very controversial video game, which I've never played or seen. It's a very, very, very dark comedy. I play a cult leader.... I'm hoping it's funny," he says. "There's also Out of Omaha, which is completely different. It's a comedy about a family going on vacation with Lea Thompson.... Hopefully they'll get released, but you never know. There's a saying around here, when you're doing independent film, it's all the fun of making an actual film, without the indignity of an actual release."

CBC Cancels Long-Running Shows

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Jim Bawden, Television Columnist

(April 05, 2007)
CBC's sneak preview of its fall television season announced yesterday is more notable for what's not coming back, including its last cultural showcase, Opening Night. Gone after 22 years on the air is Venture, and Country Canada is finished after a record 52 seasons. Other cancellations include 72 Hours; the hospital series filmed in South Africa, Jozi-H; the series about the disabled, Moving On; and the comedy Hatching, Matching And Dispatching with Mary Walsh (it was off air being retinkered).  In addition, CBC is still discussing the future of the Vancouver series Intelligence with producer Chris Haddock. Additional episodes of the comedy Rumours will be run off this summer and no new ones are being ordered. After seven seasons of providing ballet, classical music and opera to Canadians, the demise of the low-rated but award-winning Opening Night marks the end of an era of regularly scheduled cultural series.

Presenting Canadian culture to Canadians has been a CBC hallmark since its inception. "If this isn't what the CBC mandate is all about, then what is?" said executive producer Robert Sherrin, known for decades of carefully crafted TV movies (Must Be Santa, Nothing Sacred) and high-class arts programming. "A few specials can't compensate viewers for what they'll be missing.  "It's truly sad," he said. "We were cancelled because of our small ratings, it wasn't a money matter at all. We have the most enthusiastic audience of any CBC show, but ratings-wise we can't compete." Termination notices went out this morning to the five remaining CBC employees in the Opening Night unit in Toronto as well as 41 other CBC employees across the country, including five in the Country Canada unit in Winnipeg.  CBC shows picked up for the fall include the hit sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie. But the network's commitment to reality programming is continuing, with Test The Nation, Canada's Next Great Prime Minister and The Greatest Canadian Invention returning.  It has also picked up Dragons' Den, a reality show where entrepreneurs pitch their inventions to captains of industry, and No Opportunity Wasted, a reality series that lets participants seize a life-changing opportunity (from Amazing Race producer Phil Keoghan). New series include the co-production The Tudors; a Toronto security drama series, The Border; and a show set in Alberta called Heartland and Sophie, about a single mom who inherits her dad's talent agency.

The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII, is already screening in the U.S. where it marked Showtime's highest series premiere in three years Sunday night. Nearly 1.3 million viewers hailed the 10 p.m. debut and an encore viewing at 11 p.m.  Opening Night's Sherrin is currently shooting an all-new Nutcracker movie in Calgary to run at Christmas. "It's about the last cultural show I can see on CBC," he said.  Other Opening Night employees mentioned letters from rural viewers who said they'd never be able to see a live opera or ballet. Some employees recall the previous arts show, Adrienne Clarkson Presents, and think Opening Night might have benefited from a permanent host.  One says that tonight's final episode is one of the year's best, a salute to Mozart that blends music and documentary.  Les Violons du Roy, conducted by Bernard Labadie, perform Mozart's Requiem. Starring are soloists John Fanning, Colin Balzer, Helene Guilmette and Michele Losier. It's on CBC at 9. For the very last time.

Celebrity Fit Club 5: Better Than Before?

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Apr. 6, 2007) VH1's celebrity weight loss competition
'Celebrity Fit Club Men vs. Women' is set to premiere April 22 at 9 PM. And as you may already know, this season's cast includes 'The Brady Bunch' star Maureen McCormick, 'Saved by the Bell's very own Dustin Diamond, 80s pop starlet Tiffany, country music crooner Cledus T. Judd, groundbreaking former hip-hop superstar Da Brat, 'The Tonight Show' personality Ross "The Intern" Mathews, former West Coast chart-topper Warren G, and 'American Idol' fave Kimberley Locke. For its fifth season, producers mixed things up a bit, turning it to a gender race. According to a show spokesperson, "this season is more about getting fit than shedding pounds as none the cast is more than 40 pounds overweight but that doesn't mean the drama is any less weighty. This spring will have them embarking on their own gruelling fitness journeys while also working together to reach their fitness goals."
Though there's a new psychotherapist, Dr. Stacy Kaiser, in place, drill sergeant Harvey Walden IV (and his big, juicy lips) are back in the fray, along with the dapper and debonair nutritional and diet expert Dr. Ian Smith.

"I will say that this is the most successful season we've ever had in terms of the number of celebrities who've hit their target," Smith revealed to AOL Black Voices producer Angela Bronner, while making the rounds promoting his new book 'Extreme Fat Smash Diet.' "There are always problems," he continued, "but they overcome their problems and become inspirational to everybody who's watching. Because they have problems just like you and me and that's the beauty of it. That people you hold on a pedestal, that you've watched for many years, you come to realize, they can't stop that urge at night also. Or it's hard for them to get to the gym, so they have the problems we do." "The instructive part of the show is that we help them overcome it with a vision that the viewers are also watching the methods so they can do the same thing," Smith concluded. Well put Good Doctor.

Canadian Content, Sopranos Style

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Matthew Hays

(Apr. 5, 07) Montreal — When the first episode of the final season of
The Sopranos is broadcast on Sunday, Quebec fans will be especially titillated: Two new characters are French-speaking Québécois smugglers who do business with the show's rough-and-tumble protagonist, Tony Soprano. Denis and Normand are petty thugs who irritate Tony (played by James Gandolfini) because they speak joual (Québécois slang) and he can't understand them. They sell him prescription drugs that have been stolen from the Quebec health-care system, medication that is past its expiry date. This is not a problem, they advise: Just change the best-before date and the drugs are as good as new. The petty thugs are played by Quebec actors. Denis is portrayed by Philippe Bergeron and his sidekick Normand by Christian Laurin, and the duo are now reckoned to be something of a first: Quebec's seedy underworld finally making its debut on U.S. TV.

A funny thing happened on the way to New Jersey, as the Montreal-born actor Bergeron tells it. The Los Angeles-based 47-year-old landed his role through a strange and unusual contact: Guylaine Lecours, a fellow L.A. resident and Québécois expat who is a dental hygienist. She was cleaning the teeth of one of the producers and writers for The Sopranos, Andrew Schneider. "He asked Guylaine if she could help him come up with some dialogue, to make a scene authentic between Tony Soprano and some greasy French Canadians," Bergeron recalls. "She said she didn't think she could do that, but she said she knew an actual greasy French Canadian. She gave him my name and number. Then she told me that someone from The Sopranos would be calling me. I was like, 'Yeah, right.' " But shortly after Lecours and Bergeron spoke, Schneider called him to ask how petty Québécois Mafioso might bicker. In the following weeks, they had several long phone calls, during which Bergeron would explain how two characters of this type might operate. "Of course, writers for this show needed to know how the Québécois swear. I discussed the obvious: tabernac and calice [swear words derived from the Roman Catholic Church] had to be included."”

Bergeron had a request: that the characters go by the names Denis and Normand, two childhood friends of the actor. Bergeron says his old friend Denis knows of the tribute, but Normand, whom he has lost touch with, does not.) Then it struck Bergeron. "I said to Andy, 'You know, I could play this part.' He asked me to send in a head shot to their offices in New York. Then they asked me to send in a DVD to their casting office in Manhattan." After auditioning in New York, he got the part. Filming the episode was thrilling, Bergeron says, and he drew on the petty crooks he knew while growing up in Ville St. Laurent, north of Montreal. "There was a dire bar there, where I bought my first beer when I was 14. I would skip school and go there. It was called T.P. and there were always petty hoods around. This Sopranos appearance is my homage to them." "Doing The Sopranos made me very proud to be a Quebecker. When you're away from Quebec, there's a tendency to dilute your Quebec persona. Some people might not like the way we're represented in the show, but it's entirely authentic."

Whoopi Goldberg: Standing Up For Bravo

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Apr. 4, 2007) Despite some resistance from mainstream power wielders, there is just no stopping that
Whoopi Goldberg. President Bush and his right wing cronies attempted to put a kibosh on her mainstream career, after false reports came out about her use of the "bush" word at a Radio City Music Hall fundraiser. And then she wasn't even invited to the star-studded opening night of 'The Color Purple' on Broadway -- a legendary brand that she is mostly associated with. And to not even be invited to Oprah Winfrey's much ballyhooed "Legends Luncheon" would've fazed a woman of lesser resilience. Yet, she's still very much in demand. So much so that the Academy Award winning funnywoman recently moonlighted from hosting her daily syndicated morning radio show to do another stand-up special. Titled 'The World According to Whoopi,' the one hour special premieres on the Bravo network April 5 at 10:00 PM ET/PT.

Taped at New York City's Baruch College last December, Goldberg goes for the gusto touching on topical issues while keeping the audience in stitches. The 'Jumping Jack Flash' and 'Ghost' star shares her views on everything from racism to kids' manners today, She also reminisces about the good ole' days of free love and wild parties, only to contrast it with how things have changed, now that she often finds herself "the oldest person in the room" with grey hairs in unexpected places.  "I have three or four things that I know I want to talk about, and then I get out there and I do it," Goldberg said of her approach to comic material, during a conference call this afternoon. "That's how it goes. If something really gets to me, or something really sort of strikes in my head, I think oh, I really want to talk about this. I want it gathered, and turn it into a show." The former welfare recipient remains to be in a class by herself. She is the only African American woman to be honoured with all five major awards: The Oscar, The Tony, The Grammy, The Emmy and The Golden Globe.

Victoria Rowell: Life After 'Death'

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Apr. 6, 07) I nearly lost it as I watched the harrowing scene of Drucilla Winters tumbling to her tragic death -- or what should be -- during yesterday's episode of 'The Young & The Restless.' Being the ________ bitch she has been known to be for the past 17 years on the top rated daytime series, Drucilla was cussing somebody out and fussing over a cell phone during a high fashion photo shoot before falling off Niagara Falls-like cliffs to her watery grave. Drama. What a way to go out.

But that's not the last we will see of
Victoria Rowell, the 11-time NACCP Image Award winning actress who immortalized the role since 1990, and has become a soap opera icon. The Portland, Maine native's next chapter of her career involves the publishing of her memoir, 'The Women Who Raised Me.' William Morrow/Harper Collins will release the book April 10, with Rowell planning to kicking off a national whistle-stop book tour in New York City next week. 'Women' is a tribute not only to the amazing women who cared for Rowell when her birth mother could not, but also to the foster care system that brought them into her life.  "I was never meant to be raised by one mother, but my many," said Rowell, who spent 18 years in the foster care system. A passionate voice for children like herself, the former American Ballet Theater dancer and fashion model founded the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan, which enriches foster children through artistic expression, in 1990.

Since 1998, Rowell has been the national spokesperson for the Annie E. Casey Foundation's direct service arm, Casey Family Services. On the acting front, Rowell has always kept busy outside of the soap world. Last year she had a memorable role playing a down-low woman torn between her husband and her female lover on Patrik Ian Polk's brilliant 'Noah's Arc.' In December, she starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson and 50 Cent in the overlooked war drama 'Home of the Brave.' In the forthcoming film 'Of Boys and Men,' Rowell stars alongside Oscar nominee Angela Bassett and director/actor Robert Townsend in the Chicago based family drama.


Bernie Mac To Produce NBC Program

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(April 5, 2007) *Actor-comedian
Bernie Mac has signed on to produce a new reality show for NBC.  He’s teaming up with producer Ben Silverman ("The Office," "The Biggest Loser") to work on the un-scripted pilot called "Welcome to the Family."  The series, a spin-off of Mac's 2005 movie "Guess Who," will follow couples from different religions or ethnic groups who are meeting each other's families for the first time.  Mac’s movie, which also starred Ashton Kutcher, was itself a remake of the 1967 film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." The actor was asked to join the project by Marc Abrams and Michael Benson, who wrote for "The Bernie Mac Show" and now work for Silverman's production company, Reveille.  Mac will narrate "Welcome to the Family" and executive produce the program with Silverman. Other executive producers include creator Katy Wallin, Greg Johnston, Steven Greener and H.T. Owens.  Mac can currently be seen in the feature film “Pride,” and will next appear in "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Transformers," due in theatres this summer.

Christina Milian Finds A New Job

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(April 10, 2007) *Last seen and heard in 2006 – before the June exit from Island Def Jam over “creative differences” and the August release of her horror film “Pulse” –
Christina Milian has booked herself some new work opposite Mario Lopez in the CW comedy pilot, “Eight Days a Week.” According to the Hollywood Reporter, the story revolves around four twenty-somethings who work under the top movers and shakers in New York. Lopez will play one of the bosses, a well-dressed rising star with a cell phone attached to his ear. Milian will play one of the assistants, a beautiful, young woman who walked away from a law career to start over as a receptionist/gofer at an art gallery.  Robert Ri'chard (“Coach Carter” “House of Wax”) will play the BlackBerry-wielding assistant for Lopez’s character.


Scissorhands Cuts A Dash

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands
At the Hummingbird Centre
In Toronto on Wednesday

(Apr. 9, 07) The curtain call for Matthew Bourne's
Edward Scissorhands earned cheers and a standing ovation, not to mention the odd tear or two. Clearly, the British choreographer/director's dance theatre adaptation of Tim Burton's 1990 cult movie had touched the heartstrings by capturing both the sweetness and darkness of the original. The award-winning Bourne creates plays without words, and more to the point, targets his commercial productions at the broad-based Broadway/West End audience. This is the first of his original shows to come to town, and one hopes it won't be the last. A Bourne production usually has a satiric or cynical edge, such as his 1995 groundbreaking first hit -- a radical rethink of the ballet Swan Lake in homoerotic/Oedipal terms. Edward Scissorhands is different because Bourne has remained true to the whimsical nature of the Burton movie. His version is not so much a view from the dark side, but an homage to a classic.

What is so evident in this production is that Bourne has a remarkable facility for creating character in movement. In fact, he probably has no peer who can match the living, breathing real people he creates on stage who utter not one word, yet we know exactly who they are. To tell Edward's story, Bourne and co-adaptor Caroline Thompson (who also wrote the original screenplay) use the clever device of six families, each with a mother, father, daughter and son, who live in a 1950 pastel suburban universe courtesy of the brilliant designer Lez Brotherston. Kudos also to composer Terry Davies for his evocative score that includes Danny Elfman's magical musical themes from the original film. We first meet these families as the husbands are off to work and the children to school. They execute overlapping choreography that is as astonishing as it is intricate. Timed to the second, doors open and people pour forth, each with his or her own physical signature. There are the genial Boggs, straight out of Leave It To Beaver with mother Peg (Madelaine Brennan) in her de rigueur hoop skirt and pearls. The next-door Monroe family has a cheating, tart wife Joyce (Michaela Meazza).

The Uptons are the rich folk whose arrogant son Jim (James Leece) is the boyfriend of Kim Boggs (Kerry Biggin). The Evercreech family are the religious, evangelical conservatives, the Covitt family are the wannabes with Mr. Covitt (Philip Willingham) the lover of Joyce Monroe, and the Grubbs are the beer-swilling, rollers in the hair, cigarette-dangling white trash. All this information is remarkably conveyed in dance, and their characters remain true throughout. Bourne even includes a sequence with all the families in their cars -- rendered with just a steering wheel and tight groups of four. The Uptons, as the top of the chain, glide sleekly and smoothly in tandem, while the Grubbs erratically halt and sputter. Into this suburban hothouse stumbles Edward Scissorhands (an amazing Sam Archer), the teenager whose inventor died before he could complete the hands that have long scissors for fingers. Archer simply has one of the most expressive faces on the planet, and his Edward is one of Bourne's supreme creations. Naive, kind, good and lovable, Edward and his relationship with the six families anchors the dance drama. Bourne has created delicious moments. The first tender meeting between Peg Boggs and Edward when she takes him into her home or the humorous seduction between the randy Joyce and Edward are just a few of the droll vignettes that adorn this show. The scenes where Edward shows off his hairdressing and topiary skills are a delight. The hairdos of the neighbourhood women and the hedges, bushes and trees of their gardens take on quite remarkable shapes.

There are also big ensemble numbers that allow Bourne to engage in his love of social dancing such as the Boggs' barbeque and the neighbourhood Christmas party. Perhaps the most charming is Edward's dream sequence, when he imagines he is with Kim and that he has normal hands. The two perform a lovely pas de deux with dancing topiary as the corps de ballet. In short, a Bourne production is brilliant theatre because it is built on imaginative details. Edward Scissorhands continues at the Hummingbird Centre today.


Phylicia Rashad Makes Directorial Debut

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(April 9, 2007) *
Phylicia Rashad, the Tony award nominee for her role in the Broadway production of Gem of the Ocean, will make her directorial debut with a staging of the August Wilson play at Seattle Repertory Theatre, which officially opens April 11 at the Washington state company's Bagley Wright Theatre for a run through May 6.   The play is set in 1904 on the eve of Aunt Esther's 287th birthday. When Citizen Barlow comes to her home in Pittsburgh's Hill District seeking asylum, she sets him off on a spiritual journey to find a city in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  Barlow is played by actor Khalil Kain, best known as Maya’s husband Darnell on the CW sitcom “Girlfriends.” The Seattle cast also includes Crystal Fox (as Black Mary), William Hall, Jr. (Solly Two Kings), Stanley Wayne Mathis (Caesar), Todd Jefferson Moore (Rutherford Selig), Michele Shay (Aunt Ester) and Allie Woods (Eli). Rashad won a Tony for her turn in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun – which she will reprise for the forthcoming ABC television adaptation opposite her stage cast members Sean “Diddy” Combs, Sanaa Lathan, Bill Nunn and fellow Tony winner Audra McDonald.  The actress, first known to television audiences as Claire Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," has also appeared onstage in Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls, The Wiz, Blue, Helen, The Story and Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death.  Tickets to Gem of the Ocean at Seattle Repertory Theatre, at 155 Mercer Street in Seattle, WA, are on sale by calling (206) 443-2222, toll free at (877) 900-9285 or online at www.seattlerep.org.   

Queen Members Expected At T.O. Gala

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(April 10, 2007) A rock musical based on the anthemic hits of the British band Queen opens Tuesday with a gala premiere involving the group's original members.
Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor are among the celebrities expected to walk the red carpet as "We Will Rock You" arrives in Toronto with an all-Canadian cast. Others expected to catch the splashy show include writer Ben Elton, actors Eugene Levy and Colin Mochrie, Sloan front man Chris Murphy and "Canadian Idol" host Ben Mulroney. May, who collaborated with Taylor and writer Ben Elton to put together the show, has said that "We Will Rock You" will include mention of homegrown rock heroes to appeal to Canadian audiences. The jukebox musical has already won over audiences in England, Germany, Spain, Australia and Japan. The story is set in a dystopian future in which creativity and individuality have been stamped out. Themes of love and rebellion are propelled by 32 Queen hits, including "We Are the Champions," "Somebody to Love" and ``Bohemian Rhapsody." By and large, the band's well-known anthems are interpreted in their original form, but May says some songs had to be altered slightly to accommodate the storyline.


Tapping Into Youthful Energy

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Dance Writer

(April 05, 2007)
i think i can is a play without words, a tap dance without music and a science lesson without tears.  Building this young peoples' production has taken playwright Florence Gibson, dancer and choreographer Shawn Byfield and dancer turned director Conrad Alexandrowicz well beyond their usual experience.  But for their cast of young urban tap-dancers, nothing that might help get a story across is too much to ask. Opening in previews on Monday at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, i think i can is a unique production, a tapped-through show that relays a message about teamwork, tolerance and conflict resolution. The students in i think i can are determined to win first prize at a science fair. With their teacher (the only speaking role) as their coach, they tackle scientific principles, such as Einstein's theory of relativity, and illustrate them in dance.  Taking comments from Alexandrowicz at a rehearsal break, the nine dancers and actor Melody Johnson, who plays the teacher, sit in chairs on the classroom set. The faint clickety-clack of rhythmically tapping feet comes from under someone's seat.

"The moment you put a pair of tap shoes on one of them, they get excited, they've got to move," says Byfield, an energetic Toronto performer whose name is synonymous with funk on the hoof.  He grew up in a musical family in Mississauga. When he was very little, his mother took him to a dance studio. Hiding behind her leg, he says, he was terrified he'd be forced into a pair of tights. Then at age 6, he saw Gregory Hines on TV and knew that tap dancing was what he had to do. A former teacher at the Randolph Academy, Byfield is director of the tap dance company Funk Factory. His many TV and film credits include an appearance in the movie version of Hairspray.  Byfield was the second member of the creative team to get involved after LKTYP artistic director Allen MacInnis approached Gibson (Belle and Home is My Road) to make a show for him.  As a kid, Florence Gibson loved to watch tap dance. As an adult she took lessons, but never progressed beyond beginners' class. Still, she began to think about a play in which the dialogue, if you will, came from the feet. A former practising physician, Gibson was not scared of science and she came up with the school theme. On the stage, a heavily graffiti-ed brick wall behind a chain-link fence represents the mean streets just outside the classroom. Some of the kids have disabilities, including visual impairment and a twisted foot. They can use tap to express combat or co-operation.

Underneath all the fun, says the playwright, i think i can confronts the simmering violence and aggression of contemporary youth, and subliminally suggests a way through art, knowledge and self-expression to reverse the forces that lead to gang war and larger conflicts.  The show is multi-layered, like The Simpsons, says Alexandrowicz, who grew up in Ottawa and has spent most of his theatrical career in Vancouver. "There is a lot going on here, notions about the individual versus the collective, using science for good, things that parents will appreciate as much as their children. "This is live theatre. We don't have CGI, and we can't show people turning into pure energy," he says, but with lighting designer Rebecca Picherack at the controls, and performers who move like greased lightning, they can get close.  As budding artists and dancers, each of the creators knew the feeling of being odd one out on the playground. Alexandrowicz came to dance late, but Byfield remembers the weirdness of being the only boy in a dance class of 15 girls. They can relate to the clique-making and bullying depicted in Gibson's version of the schoolyard. The dancers, from 20 to early 30s, come from musical theatre or from the dance studios where Byfield learned swing, modern and breakdance. He took tap as he learned it and brought it with him to hip hop culture. There are some standard tap formations, but Byfield takes them to extremes. "I teach them newer things and more tricks," he says. When he last lived briefly in Toronto, Alexandrowicz was directing physical theatre. He made a two-hander called The Wines of Tuscany that ran at Buddies in Bad Times. Since returning to Vancouver he has staged a satirical cabaret called Dance, Little Lady! and recently premiered a musical called Beggars Would Ride, about sex and power.  This show for young people is a big departure. "It's great to have shows like this that get the public involved in dance again," he says. Before you know it, there'll be dancing in the streets.

Dancers Are Storytellers

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Dance Writer

The Passenger, like an idiot
(out of 4)
Choreography by Sarah Chase and Cristina Moura. Until today at Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000

(April 05, 2007) 
Sarah Chase and Cristina Moura speak two different languages. And we're not talking about English and Portuguese. These wonderfully expressive storytellers use completely different physical vocabularies. Chase gives us a slice of life, a lament and a redemption song. Moura takes us on an exploration of the different "she's" that inhabit her mental landscape. But they both make choreography work like music or speech. Chase's The Passenger is a finely layered redemption song that starts from her personal recollection of a three-day fever. She tells of an 1832 invasion of passenger pigeons that blackened the skies over Trinity Bellwoods Park. Getting into a large hoop skirt, she sways to make the sound of pigeons' wings. The Passenger is beautifully orchestrated. Bill Brennan's piano compositions carry one line of the narrative. There are songs too, including Neil Young's "Needle and the Damage Done," which Chase sings unaccompanied. The performance pulls at our emotions more powerfully than either a picture, the written word, music or dance alone could ever do.

Moura is a compact Brazillian-born dancer. After a seven-year sojourn dancing in Europe, she returned to Brazil and made like an idiot in 2002.  It employs Portuguese, an aboriginal language, bird cries and animal sounds of the rainforest, yet this solo can be universally understood. Moura is a woman of few words. She announces herself at the outset, walking downstage to say, "This is a dance. You sit there and watch. I'm here and I dance." She wraps her shirt into a turban; even the wrapping motions are choreographed. She removes her workout pants to reveal an incredibly articulate form, like a gymnast's. Before our unwavering stares, she transforms from warrior to celebrity vamp on a plastic kiddie car, to majestic strutting sea bird. She adopts a hunter stance.  A fertility goddess, a female in heat, Moura moves through a parade of characters, including the dancer being questioned by an unseen interrogator about "what you want to communicate to your audience." At the end, she says it simply, as the lights' glare turns on the audience: "You. You and me. We could do something together."  Amen to that.


Fonzworth Bentley: Off On His Own

By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

(Apr. 4, 2007) It's official.
Fonzworth Bentley is a man to be taken seriously. Well, he's a man who wants to be taken seriously. And he may finally have something worthy of such consideration. Although he may be best known for that infamous image of holding an umbrella for Sean "Diddy" Combs during a vacation trek in Europe, the pop culture personality legally known as Derek Watkins has joined the literary fray. On Sep. 25, Random House's Villard imprint will publish 'Advance Your Swagger,' an ambitious hip-hop centric how-to guide on using manners, confidence and style to get ahead.  The tome, reportedly written with Bentley's mother, is filled with color photos illustrating his lessons in table etiquette, cell phone do's and don'ts, acing job interviews, timeless fashion and hygiene.  "I deal with not just the Emily Post etiquette, which I definitely do," he told 'MTV Radio Networks' this week. "But I deal with like Blackberry and Sidekick etiquette, like how to get somebody a demo. These are things that I really think that the younger generation needs to know."

Wondering what was the impetus for the project?

"Though we seem to be in the midst of what Bentley calls the 'Golden Age of Disrespect,' Bentley demonstrates how we can add a touch of class and dignity to our lives," production materials state. "He's here to make sure your color schemes are fly, your stance is stage-ready, and everything from business negotiations and interviews to riding public transportation or mall do's and don'ts."

Wondering what makes Fonz the authority?

The self-proclaimed "First Gentleman of Hip Hop" graduated from Atlanta's Morehouse College with a degree concentrating in biology, then attended New York's prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology. After becoming one of the most popular Maitre D's in New York City, he raised his profile as Combs' personal assistant.

It lead to him becoming the arbiter of good taste for Courvoisier, style and fashion correspondent for Access Hollywood covering the Oscars, Golden Globe and Grammy's, and was named a 2004 "50 Hottest Bachelor" in People magazine. He appeared on MTV's "Making of the Band 2" and in music videos with OutKast, Kanye West, and Usher. Once heavily associated with former Uptown Records and Motown Records president Andre Harrell, Bentley has music designs of his very own. He executive producing his own album, due out via Sony this fall. West, Andre 3000, Faith Evans, Esthero, and Pimp C, are expected to collaborate.

Air Jamaica Buoyant About Barbados And Eastern Caribbean

Source: Air Jamaica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (April 6, 2007) –
Air Jamaica's new schedule to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean routes is exceeding expectations, reports the airline’s Vice President of Sales, George deMercado.  DeMercado reports that the carrier's new non-stop daily service between New York and Barbados, with continuing service to St. Lucia (four days a week) and Grenada (three days) is delivering good returns, following the decision by Caribbean Airlines (formerly BWIA West Indies Airways) to pull out from the Barbados-New York route.  "The loyalty demonstrated by West Indians and visitors alike has been extremely encouraging, and our business throughout the Spring break and Easter holiday season has been rock solid," said deMercado.  Air Jamaica is the national carrier of Jamaica and also is the designated flag carrier of Barbados. During a recent visit to Barbados to mark 10 years of service to the island, the airline's president and CEO, Michael Conway, reiterated Air Jamaica's commitment to the island and the Eastern Caribbean region. “I know there was a great deal of concern in this market with recent changes that have taken place. Working with a lot of very sincere people who did a vast amount of research, we were able to move quickly and fill a void that came about rather abruptly – that’s how serious we take the designation you have given our carrier," Conway told local travel agents.

Conway added that now that the Government of Jamaica has approved  restructuring plans, “we will be doing some re-fleeting, route rationalisation ... and have identified the Eastern Caribbean and particularly Barbados as a major point of emphasis for the airline," hinting that additional flights were in the works in the months ahead.  Senator Rudy Grant, parliamentary secretary in Barbados’ Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, said Air Jamaica provides a very valued service to Barbados and the country looks forward to strengthening the partnership to fully exploit the opportunities for continued growth and development of the tourism sector. "When it was very clear that we were losing service from New York, Air Jamaica came to the table with us and agreed that they would partner with us ... (and) I want to emphasise that we are very grateful for the partnership that Air Jamaica has given us.”  Air Jamaica operates daily Airbus A-320 service between John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport in New York and Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados with 138 seats in Economy and 12 in Executive Business Class. This service continues to St. Lucia four (4) days a week and to Grenada three (3) days a week. This new schedule also offers daily direct service to Montego Bay, Jamaica via St. Lucia or Grenada, offering further connections to and from Air Jamaica's US gateways in Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington DC, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (JFK) and Philadelphia.


Air Jamaica provides more non-stop flights to Jamaica than any other carrier with more than 270 flights per week from Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York (JFK), Orlando, and Philadelphia in the United States; Toronto in Canada; and from London in the United Kingdom to Montego Bay and Kingston.  Air Jamaica also offers intra-regional service with flights between Jamaica and the Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Cuba, Curaçao, Grand Cayman, Grenada and St. Lucia.  For more information about Air Jamaica’s schedules and services, visit www.airjamaica.com or call Air Jamaica reservations at 1-888-FLY AIRJ (359-2475) from Jamaica; 1-800-523-5585 from the USA, Canada and the Caribbean; or 44(0)-208-570-7999 from the United Kingdom and Europe.

Johnny Hart, 76: B.C. Cartoonist

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Mary Esch, Associated Press

(April 09, 2007) ALBANY, N.Y. — For millions of comic strip readers, the prehistoric era was a hoot: Cavemen played baseball, ants went to school, birds rode on the back of turtles and snakes made quips.  All of it was thanks to cartoonist
Johnny Hart, who died Saturday at age 76 while working at his home in Endicott. “He had a stroke,” his wife, Bobby, said Sunday. “He died at his storyboard.”  Hart’s B.C. strip was launched in 1958 and eventually appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers with an audience of 100 million, according to Creators Syndicate Inc., which distributes it.  “He was generally regarded as one of the best cartoonists we’ve ever had,” Hart’s friend Mell Lazarus, creator of the Momma and Miss Peach comic strips, said from his California home.  “He was totally original. B.C. broke ground and led the way for a number of imitators, none of which ever came close.”  Hart, who also co-created The Wizard of Id, won numerous awards for his work, including the National Cartoonist Society’s prestigious Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year and an award from the International Congress of Comics.

Richard Newcombe, founder and president of Creators Syndicate said B.C. and Wizard of Id would continue. Family members have been helping produce the strips for years, and they have an extensive computer archive of Hart’s drawings to work with, he said.  After his discharge from the military in 1954, Hart worked in the art department at General Electric while selling cartoons on the side. He began reading Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and was inspired to start his own strip.  “Caveman gags, for reasons which I still cannot explain, were an obsession in those days,” Hart told Creators. “One day, a friend jokingly suggested I create a strip revolving around prehistoric times.”  Later in his career, some of Hart’s cartoons had religious themes, a reflection of his own Christian faith. That sometimes led to controversy.  A strip published on Easter in 2001 drew protests from Jewish groups and led several newspapers to drop the strip. The cartoon depicted a menorah transforming into a cross, with accompanying text quoting some of Jesus Christ’s dying words. Critics said it implied that Christianity supersedes Judaism.  Hart said he intended the strip as a tribute to both faiths. “He had such an emphasis on kindness, generosity, and patience,” Newcombe said.

B.C. was filled with puns and sly digs at modern society. One recent strip showed an ant teacher asking her class, “Who can tell me what second-hand smoke is?” One pupil raised his hand with an answer: “A political speech made by a vice-presidential candidate.”  After he graduated from Union-Endicott High School, Hart met Brant Parker, a young cartoonist who became a prime influence and eventual co-creator with Hart of The Wizard of Id in 1964.  Hart enlisted in the Air Force and began producing cartoons for Pacific Stars and Stripes. He sold his first freelance cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post after his discharge from the military in 1954.  Many of Hart’s characters were patterned after his friends. “He was a free spirit who loved everybody, and everything,” Jack Caprio, a childhood friend and model for Clumsy Carp in the B.C. strip, told the Star-Gazette of Elmira. “He was never embarrassed by doing silly things.”  Besides his wife, Hart is survived by two daughters, Patti and Perri. He was a native of Endicott, about 135 miles northwest of New York City, and drew his comic strip at a studio in his home there until the day he died.  A funeral will be held Friday.


Corner To Be Named After Toronto Life

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(April 11, 2007) Forget Virgin. Forget Disney.  During six years of the project's delay, many big-name partners have come and gone. Metropolis, the huge indoor mall rising on the northeast corner of
Dundas and Yonge is going to be named Toronto Life Square, the Star has learned. "We are thrilled to have acquired the naming rights for what will be an energetic addition to Toronto's landscape," says Tony Gagliano, CEO of St. Joseph Communications.  The announcement will be made today.  Gagliano says this is going to be the most important crossroads in Toronto, the city's most dynamic meeting space. His companies will design and create digital signage, interactive programs on giant screens and live programming. The building, set to open in phases starting in the fall, will have 500,000 square feet of indoor space, plus 20,000 square feet of outdoor signage, including Canada's largest high-definition video display.

24 Year Old Rastafarian Crowned Ms Jamaica Universe

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson

(April 5, 2007) *
Zahra Redwood created history in Jamaica when she became the first Rastafarian to win a beauty competition in Jamaica. She was crowned Ms Jamaica Universe two Sundays ago, beating out 13 other young ladies for the coveted title. Ms Redwood will now move on to represent Jamaica at the Miss Universe pageant which will be held in Mexico City in May. Jamaica has had some success in the Ms Universe international pageant over the years. In 1989, Sandra Foster finished in the top 6, while Christine Straw and Nicole Haughton have done well to reach the top 10. Rachel Stuart who was Ms Jamaica Universe in 1993, later on became a host on BET, hosting the Caribbean Rhythms show among other shows on the channel.

Luminato Line-up Announced

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Matthew Hays

(Apr. 5, 07) The inaugural 2007 edition of
Luminato, Toronto's new international arts festival, is still two months away. But already organizers have started to program the 2008 line-up. Wednesday, in announcing the multimillion-dollar financing partnership with L'Oreal, Luminato CEO Janice Price said L'Oreal's funds would be used in 2008 to help underwrite two programs showcasing first-nations talent. The first is B.C. playwright Kevin Loring's Where the Blood Mixes, and a 40th anniversary reading of Gerogre Riga's landmark play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. The second is a musical performance featuring the Kronos Quartet and Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq. As reported in Wednesday's Globe and Mail, Loreal is becoming a presenting sponsor of the festival on a long-term basis. Luminato programs announced Wednesday include Luminato at the Distillery, a multicultural series of events featuring Italian, Portuguese and Spanish artists; Live@Courthouse, featuring a series of jazz performances at the new concert venue; Grammy winner Jane Bunnett featured at the Art of Jazz festival; Kenneth Welsh's one-man performance of Under Mil Wood at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts; and Masters of World Music, featuring Hawksley Workman, Buckwheat Zydeco and others at the Harbourfront Centre. Tickets for this year's program go on sale April 16.


Leafs Failed When Opportunity Knocked

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Kevin McGran, Sports Reporter

(April 09, 2007) There was no Easter miracle for the
Maple Leafs, just a day for solemn reflection on what might have been, if. If they had picked up one more point along an 82-game schedule, maybe by winning more than four of 11 shootouts. If they had not been quite so banged up, among the league-leaders in man-games lost due to injury.  If captain Mats Sundin scored one more goal, if Andrew Raycroft won one more game, if John Ferguson made one more trade.  If, indeed. Given the Leafs were so horrible in the shootout over the past two seasons, it was perhaps fitting the Leafs' fate was decided by a shootout, even if they weren't playing in it.

Instead the Islanders – who blew a 2-0 lead – rallied to beat the Devils in a shootout, snatching the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. "What a wild finish," said a reflective Ferguson. "Unfortunately for us, we didn't give ourselves enough room at the end. I give them (the Isles) credit for getting it done. "It was an exciting finish to the season, clearly disappointing for us. We had enough opportunities through the year." Now Ferguson, assistant GM Mike Penny, coach Paul Maurice, the assistant coaches and scouting staff will gather to figure out what went wrong this season, and how to fix it for next season. They'll concentrate on the June draft, identify the free agents they're after, figure out which Leafs they want to keep, and who they can release or trade. Among the Leafs' key decisions:

  Nik Antropov, an unrestricted free agent who proved he can be a first
· liner when he's healthy.
  Mats Sundin, an aging star heading into the
· option year of his contract.
  Defence/goaltending, the area Ferguson
· thought he addressed last year with big-ticket trades and signings. Yet the Leafs' 269 goals-against was seventh worst in the league.

"That's an area we're going to continue to address," said Ferguson. The year wasn't completely bad.  The Leafs got off to an 11-5-3 start, but then ran into injury trouble, and it didn't help they lost two in a row at home to Boston, part of a 2-8-2 stretch from which they never really recovered. They'd get tantalizingly close to eighth – witness a five-game winning streak following the all-star break – but could never really get their motors running. But every time they took a blow – losing Tomas Kaberle to injury, blowing a 4-1 third period lead to Buffalo – they were able to bounce back. "Our work ethic was tremendous all year, our resilience," said Ferguson. It was believed offence would be the Leafs' weak point, but their 258 goals-for was fourth in the East. The team had 14 players score at least 10 goals. Young players such as Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and John Pohl did a fair bit of growing up by excelling in key roles when injuries befell veterans. "We had some real injuries to deal with," said Ferguson. "Unfortunately, that did slow us up at different times during the year. I thought we overcame them pretty well.  "A lot of players came in and did outstanding jobs."

But it was a sad reality that some of the Leafs' most memorable moments had more to do with the reunion of that 1967 Stanley Cup winning team, and less about the 20 players on the ice. Raycroft tied, but couldn't beat Ed Belfour's record for most wins in a season (37). Sundin scored one goal in his last 20 games, falling short of Darryl Sittler's franchise mark for career goals in a Leaf uniform.  And, yes, one more season out of the playoffs put this city's Stanley Cup glory years one more year further into the past. "We look to ourselves," said Ferguson. "We left ourselves one point short. That's what came back to bite us."

Raptors Send A Message By Goring Bulls

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Doug Smith, Sports Reporter

(April 09, 2007) There were those in the highest echelons of
Raptor management who worried what Joey Graham would do when he became the obvious option to replace injured starter Jorge Garbajosa. Graham had been the enigma of the team for almost two entire seasons, capable of breathtaking athletic plays and mind-numbing mistakes on any given night. He was very much a work in progress whose inconsistencies gnawed at his coaches and teammates and those in the franchise hierarchy who expected so much more from him on a night-to-night basis. The fears have been quelled, the questions answered – for now at least – because Graham has been far better than he has been bad since Garbajosa went down. Last night, he turned in arguably the best and most thorough game of his career at a key moment in the march to a top Eastern Conference playoff seed. Graham's offensive contributions to Toronto's 103-89 romp over the Chicago Bulls at a sold-out Air Canada Centre were mightily impressive: He tied a career high with 19 points, tied another career high with five assists and grabbed nine rebounds. It was the defensive effort he put out that was as crucial as anything he did with the ball.

Knowing the Raptors were going to have to bottle up two of Chicago's big three offensive players if they were going to have any chance to win, Graham provided aggressive, solid, pesky defence that made Luol Deng an inconsequential part of the Bulls offence. "I just wanted to minimize his touches as much as possible," Graham said of Deng, who was 5 for 13 from the field for just 13 points. "If I could force him out on the court, make him shoot tough shots, I figured if I did that, my job was done and I think I did a good job of that." Graham's defence was just one part of an impressive overall performance at that end of the court for the Raptors. After giving up 50 points and falling behind by four at halftime, they held Chicago to 38 per cent shooting and 39 points in the second half as they won going away. "Everybody will remember all the shots and everything but the defensive end, getting stops, was the reason why it turned around," said Anthony Parker, who had six three-pointers as part of a career-best 27 points.

Parker's great night allowed the Raptors to take some of the incessant pressure off power forward Chris Bosh, who had a quiet 22-point, 11-rebound game. And without Morris Peterson, who was ejected for a flagrant foul on Chicago's Kirk Hinrich in the second quarter and who could be suspended for tonight's game in Minnesota, it was imperative someone take some offensive load. That would turn out to be Parker, who parked himself in Peterson's regular spot in the corner and drilled open shot after open shot in Toronto's ball-movement offence. "Anthony Parker played as good a complete game, offensively and defensively as he's played all year," said coach Sam Mitchell. "It was a good win for us, that's a good basketball team." The win, coupled with Miami's overtime loss to Charlotte, gives the Raptors a two-game lead over the Heat in the fight for third place in the East and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The thoroughness of the victory over a team many consider to be right with Detroit as the best in the East should make even more people take notice of the Raptors as the playoffs approach. "Message that you're trying to send is that we're a good basketball team and if we play the way we're capable of playing, we can beat anybody," Mitchell said.


Canadians Take World Curling Title

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Staff Reporter

April 08, 2007) EDMONTON — Germany's Andy Kapp wasn't kidding when he called Glenn Howard's Team Canada "the perfect team" ahead of the final of the men's world curling championship. The Canadians were stellar in trouncing Germany 8-3 in front of 10,082 wildly cheering fans at Rexall Place arena. Howard got the team off to a hot start. Kapp twice missed difficult double-takeouts in the first end allowing Canada to take a four-point lead right from the start. The Germans couldn't get themselves into the game, scoring single points in just three ends. Howard pounced again in sixth end when a series of German errors allowed Canada to score three. Howard set the team on cruise control, removing any German stone that made its way into the rings. Kapp drew for a single point in the eighth end and then quit the game. Teams are required to play a mandatory eight ends before conceding. "It's a dream," said Hart, who has a silver Olympic medal playing with Mike Harris in the winter games in 1998. "It's just a phenomenal feeling not only to win the world's but the way we did it," he said. Canada lost just a single game during the 12-team tournament to the U.S. during the round-robin competition.


Hot For Summer – Glutes

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Thulasi Srikanthan

(Mar 30, 2007) Want to look hot in your swimsuit this summer? Want to tone those legs, sculpt those abs and firm up those arms after a lazy winter? Today the Star launches a weekly set of exercises to whip trouble zones into shape. We'll feature moves recommended by personal trainers across Toronto to get you off your couch and into shape by June 21, the first day of summer.  We start off this week with Toronto trainer
Marshall Tully, who demonstrates three routines to firm a sagging butt.  "Working the entire body is necessary in any good training program but, arguably, it's even more important to hit the butt and legs," says Tully, who owns Full Blast Personal Training (www.fullblast.ca). "The glutes (the butt) and hamstrings provide propulsion and power for just about every sport, and for basic human locomotion. "They're also the largest muscles of the body, and as such, are able to handle the largest loads safely."

But don't for a second think these bottom-based exercises are all you need. "Working a specific area of the body does not preferentially burn fat from that area," he notes. "That can only be achieved through creating a negative energy balance in the body, by reducing caloric intake and/or burning additional calories through activity." Before you step up to these moves, don't forget to warm up. It's also important to maintain proper posture while doing the exercises. And, says Tully, "I'd suggest that beginners, once they're comfortable with the form of the exercises, work at a level of exertion that's just past their comfort zone, but not to the point where they're compromising posture or safety to complete the desired reps." As for resting between exercises, Tully recommends 45 seconds to two minutes between sets.


Motivational Note

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - — Robert Collier

"Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself."