20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
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August 1, 2007

Coming at you one day early this week!  I'm off to Barbados to do some coverage of Crop Over and to find out how the Bajans celebrate!  Thanks to the Barbados Tourism Authority for inviting me.  I'll give you my full report upon my return. 

Want full graphics and all story lead lines?  Click HERE!

In the meanwhile, the news doesn't stop!  It's Caribana time in Toronto so check out some of the hottest events going down including
Harbourfront Centre's Island Soul and the popular Old School Request PartyHarlem weekly event listings with tons of live music listings are below as well.   



Old School Request Party – Friday, August 3, 2007

SOLD OUT for the past 6 years, the
OLD SCHOOL REQUEST PARTY has been the hottest Karibana Friday night party in the city for the mature clientele.  This year we’re moving the party uptown to the immaculate Six Degrees nightclub (formerly Berlin), featuring two floors of old school musical vibes with The “Juiceman” Jonathan Shaw, DOC (CHRY radio), DJ Wayne, Bobby D, MC Toney Williams, Neddy Nyce - and special guest host Mark StrongOfficial Heat (Western NY and Southern Ontario's #1 music and entertainment TV show) will also be covering the event.  And remember….on Karibana Friday….what happens in de party…stays in de party…….

View the e-vite for this event
HERE.  Turn up your speakers....and tek a quick whine......

Six Degrees Nightclub
2335 Yonge Street (Yonge & Eglinton)
10:00 pm
Get on the $10 guestlist valid until 10:30 pm by RSVPing to

::ISLAND SOUL - AUGUST 3 - 6, 2007::

Source:  Harbourfront Centre

Check out Island Soul at
Harbourfront Centre!!  Perhaps you’d like an alternative to the other Caribana festivities and I can’t think of a better place! 

(July 18, 2007) -  Harbourfront Centre’s Island Soul festival jumps up and jumps through the musical history of Jamaica and Trinidad with star-studded concerts featuring Barrington Levy, Lord Superior, Ernest Ranglin, Black Stalin and more! All festival events are FREE admission (Complete event schedule below).The seventh edition of the festival begins with two nights of concerts (August 3 & 4) showcasing Calypso’s living legends. The Calypso Dreams Tour: Last of the Best features multiple Calypso Monarch winners like Black Stalin, Macomere Fifi and Singing Sandra alongside recording legends like Lord Superior and The Mighty Sparrow. There will also be screenings of the documentary CALYPSO DREAMS.

On Sunday August 5 Jamaican music comes to the fore with performances by Barrington Levy and Ernest Ranglin and the Canadian debut of pianist Kathy Brown. The day features screenings of acclaimed documentaries like MADE IN JAMAICA and COPING WITH BABYLON along with classics like ROCKERS and THE HARDER THEY COME. The day ends with inspired late night performances by the Dub Poets Collective.The finale of Island Soul on August 6 fills the Concert Stage with steel pan bands like Afro Pan and the Pan Fantasy Steelband and ends with a rousing Gospel Extravaganza featuring some of Toronto’s prominent Gospel vocalists and the U of T Choir! Island Soul embraces the influence of Latin cultures within the Caribbean with a Latin Urban Explosion (featuring emerging Canadian Latin talent) and the visual art exhibit The Way of the Saints: African Symbolism in Cuban Art – which features four Cuban artists who have exhibited internationally in mixed mediums and painting.

Island Soul is a festival for all ages and has afternoon family events including canoe rides on the Natrel Pond and a Friendship Tree craft activity on August 4, 5 and 6. Traditional Caribbean ring games and song games are featured by P.A.C.E. Canada on August 5.For more information on Island Soul events the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com

Island Soul is part of Harbourfront Centre’s summer series of festivals, World Routes 2007 presented by RBC. Each weekend, top Canadian and international artists perform in all disciplines including; music, dance, theatre, visual arts, readings and film. Our 10-acre waterfront site is prized for its fun and educational family activities at multiple venues, as well as for the diversity of the International Marketplace and World Café.

Island Soul – All Events are FREE


8:00 p.m. – Kobo Town (Concert Stage)
9:30 p.m. – The Calypso Dreams Tour: Last of the Best (Concert Stage) Featuring Black Stalin, Lord Superior and Macomere Fifi

6:30 p.m. – CALYPSO DREAMS (Studio Theatre)

Visual Arts: The Way of the Saints: African Symbolism in Cuban Art Featuring painting and mixed medium works by Elio Vilva Trujillo, Francisco Gordillo Arrendondo, Javier Gonzalez Gallosa and Lino Felix Vizcaino Sarria (Marilyn Brewer Community Space) – 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on August 3, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on August 4 and 5, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on August 6


8:00 p.m. – Moses Revolution with Crazy (Concert Stage)
9:30 p.m. – The Calypso Dreams Tour: Last of the Best (Concert Stage)
Featuring The Mighty Sparrow, Crazy, Singing Sandra and Lord Superior

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Ijo Vudu Dance Company (Toronto Star Stage)
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Latin Urban Explosion (Toronto Star Stage)
Featuring Orlando Valencia, Flakko, Shantall, Chicago, Phanta C, Trio
 and special guests Criollo from Montreal

Family Programming:
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Friendship Tree (Natrel Kids Zone)
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Canoe Rides (Natrel Pond)
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Miss Lou’s Interactive Room (Miss Lou’s Room)

2:00 p.m. – MADE IN JAMAICA (Studio Theatre)
 CARNIVAL (Studio Theatre)
6:30 p.m. – CALYPSO DREAMS (Studio Theatre)

Other: 3:00 p.m. - The Canadian Domino League
presents Domino on the Lake (Lakeside Terrace Tent)
This event is a demonstration and is closed to competitors.


2:00 p.m. – Kathy Brown (Concert Stage)
3:30 p.m. – Ernest Ranglin (Concert Stage) – part of the Pepsi Concert
8:00 p.m. – I-Sax Injah (Concert Stage)
9:30 p.m. – Barrington Levy (Concert Stage)

Dance/Music: Toronto Star Stage
1:30 p.m. – Jamaican Focus: Reggaecise Workshop with Tamla Matthews
4:30 p.m. – Jamaican Focus: Reggae & Dancehall Dance Showcase
6:30 p.m. – Jamaican Focus: Reggae & Dancehall Workshop on the Lawn

Family Programming:
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Children at Play (Ann Tindal Lawn)
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Friendship Tree (Natrel Kids Zone)
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Canoe Rides (Natrel Pond)
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Miss Lou’s Interactive Room (Miss Lou’s Room)

1:00 p.m. – THE HARDER THEY COME (Studio Theatre)
3:30 p.m. – ROCKERS (Studio Theatre)
6:00 p.m. – MADE IN JAMAICA (Studio Theatre)
9:00 p.m. – COPING WITH BABYLON – Canadian Premier (Studio Theatre)

4:30 p.m. – Labrish - I Remember Jamaica When (Brigantine Room)
Celebrity and Community leader event celebrating the 45th Anniversary
of Jamaica’s Independence (Labrish = chat)

1:00 p.m. - The Canadian Domino League presents
Domino on the Lake (Lakeside Terrace Tent)
This event is a demonstration and is closed to competitors.

11:00 p.m. – Late Night Dub Poets Collective Spice Up the Place
 featuring Clifton Joseph, Afua Cooper, d’bi young, Klyde Box and Owen “Blakka”
 Ellis. Hosted by Sankofa (Brigantine Room)
– Late Night NOW presented by Heineken


1:00 p.m. – Pass The Torch: The Calypso and Soca Project (Toronto Star
2:00 p.m. – Afro Pan (Toronto Star Stage)
3:00 p.m. – Pan Fantasy Steelband (Concert Stage)
4:00 p.m. – Gospel Extravaganza (Prelude) (Toronto Star Stage)
4:30 p.m. – Gospel Extravaganza featuring Pastor Rich Brown, Kay
 Morris, Marc Masri, Paula Sanchex, Ammoi Levy and the U of T choir (Concert

Family Programming:
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Friendship Tree (Natrel Kids Zone)
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Canoe Rides (Natrel Pond)
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Miss Lou’s Interactive Room (Miss Lou’s Room)

Harbourfront Centre is located 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON
For public information please call 416-973-4000 or visit  www.harbourfrontcentre.com


Common’s Finding Forever

Source:  Universal Music Canada

Common rose to prominence as one of hip-hops most poetic and respected lyricists having recorded over six albums: Can I Borrow a Dollar?, Resurrection, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Like Water For Chocolate, and Electric Circus.  In 2004, he partnered with Chicago native and rap music mega-star Kanye West to produce the platinum selling BE, which went on to garner four Grammy Award nominations.  In July 2006, his video for the single “Testify” was nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards including Best Hip Hop Video. Additionally, Common has written children’s books.  The first one, entitled The MIRROR and ME, teaches lessons of life, the human spirit, and human nature.  His follow-up book I Like You But I Love Me was recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and his third book, M.E. (Mixed Emotions), will be out later this year.  He also started The Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to utilizing the cultural relevance of Hip-Hop to serve as an advocate for justice, education, to fight poverty, and to increase health awareness among youth in underserved communities throughout the United States.

In 2006, the Grammy Award winning artist made his big screen debut as a musical performer in “DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY”.  In January 2007, he made his acting debut co-starring opposite Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, and Ryan Reynolds in “SMOKIN’ ACES” for Universal Pictures and writer/director Joe Carnahan.  Later in 2007, he’ll co-star opposite Denzel Washington in “AMERICAN GANGSTER”, Directed by Ridley Scott.  He’s currently filming “WANTED” with co-stars Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie and will soon start work on Director David Ayer’s “THE NIGHT WATCHMAN” starring Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker.   Common has always stayed true to the true poetry of what Hip Hop represents. On his brand new album FINDING FOREVER, Common continues his lyrical legacy by combining his smooth rhymes with legendary beats from Kanye West & Will.I.Am & the backing vocals from incredible talents like D’Angelo, Lily Allen & Bilal. FINDING FOREVER is Common’s latest hip hop masterpiece & features the brand new single, ‘The People’ – In Stores July 31st.


Harbourfront Centre Unveils The Opening Of Miss Lou’s Room

Source:  Harbourfront Centre

TORONTO, July 26, 2007—William J.S. Boyle, Chief Executive Officer of Harbourfront Centre, the Honourable Mary Anne Chambers, Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services, the Most Honourable P.J. Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honourable Aloun N’Dombet-Assamba, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Entertainment & Culture and representatives from the Province of Ontario, officially opened
Miss Lou’s Room today at Harbourfront Centre. Miss Lou’s Room is named in honour of the late Jamaican-Canadian icon Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately known worldwide as Miss Lou, who passed away one year ago on July 26, 2006 in her adopted home, Toronto.

“We are honoured that this permanent tribute to Miss Lou, commemorating her tremendous contribution to the cultural community, is located at Harbourfront Centre, where she performed many times,” said William J.S. Boyle, Harbourfront Centre’s Chief Executive Officer. “Now the thousands of children and families who use this room each year will be aware of her amazing contribution to world culture.”

Miss Lou was an internationally recognized storyteller and cultural figure who performed many times at Harbourfront Centre in community based festivals and in literary programmes. Miss Lou's Room features a permanent interactive exhibition and education area honouring her achievements, including photographs and recordings of her storytelling and songs. A central venue for many of Harbourfront Centre’s ongoing programmes, Miss Lou’s Room will be utilized by the School Visits programme with over 40,000 students each year, the HarbourKIDS family programme launching this fall, the summer camps programme with between 700-1000 children each day throughout the summer, as well as children’s elements of Harbourfront Centre’s extensive literary programme.

Miss Lou was a woman of many talents and accomplishments. She used humour with satire to deliver potent ideas about the validity of Jamaican identity and language at a time when cultural differences were not necessarily respected. Her songs, poems, books, performances, and broadcasts not only were entertaining but also influenced Jamaican actors, storytellers, dub poets, reggae artists, and ordinary Jamaicans alike. She was instrumental in preserving and fostering Jamaican culture in Jamaica, Canada and around the world.

Miss Lou’s Room was made possible through funding from the Government of Ontario.

Comedy Fest A Laugh

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar, Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporters

(July 30, 2007) Around 9 p.m. on Saturday night the crack of an explosion reverberated through the downtown core. Many of the people emptying out of the Craig Ferguson
Just for Laughs gala at Massey Hall reflexively flinched.  The Late Late Show host and other comics such as Russell Peters and Derek Edwards had just been making jokes about how wonderful and peaceful Canada is, but there were a few uneasy punch lines about recent shootings in Toronto.  "Don't worry, it was a planned explosion," reassured a guard at Yonge-Dundas Square, where comics and buskers performed on Friday and Saturday night. "All part of the act." Let it be said here: the inaugural Just for Laughs Toronto festival definitely started off with a bang.  Actually, that particular one was thanks to Germany's Bangditos.

The well-known street-performing crew clowns around on a makeshift fire truck that sends out flares, loud bangs and belches fire as the amusingly inept performers flail and flop around.  The crowd loved it, as thousands of people lined Yonge St. to get a better view.  It was a different scene on Friday night, as chants of "Russell, Russell" rang out in anticipation of Russell Peters, who drew an appreciative crowd of thousands in the early part of the evening's open-air festivities. The Brampton native – who recently sold out two shows at the Air Canada Centre and has moved to Los Angeles to further his career – had the audience in his hands from the onset, in spite of some edgy humour. "Look at this crowd. There's a sign immigration isn't working," Peters began, generating a wave of laughter. "This is the first time Yonge St.'s been blocked off for a long time without a shooting," he added.

Peters did an opening and closing set that poked cheeky and off-colour fun at taboo subjects such as race and sex, and ad-libbed freely with the audience, even nearby mounted police officers. "There's cops on horseback. That's intimidating: `You're under arrest, hop on,'" Peters said. "He (Peters) is very up front. He says everything that we are too scared to say," said Fazeel Haleem, 18, who came from Markham with friends Neil Chauhan, 17, and Vino Balakrishnan, 18, to see the show. Kristen McGregor, 23, of Toronto has seen Peters live many times. "He is freaking hilarious. He's not afraid. There's too much political correctness in the world these days and comedians sort of break that boundary. But he doesn't break the boundary, he just shoves right through it. He makes fun of everybody," McGregor said. Just for Laughs organizers smartly filled the three-night fest with Toronto favourites such as Peters and Howie Mandel, who hosted the kick-off gala. The Daily Show's Lewis Black and Ferguson also killed during their sets.  In a very busy weekend of festivals, this first satellite version of the Montreal festival was well attended, although organizers didn't expect to make a profit.

"It went great. We were very, very confident what we were doing in the theatres. We had three really strong galas and an ethnic show that we felt would connect in the city. All that went very well, not only sales-wise, but every single gala and the two ethnic shows got a standing ovation," said Bruce Hills, the Just for Laughs CEO.  He added that while ticket sales went better than expected, the festival did not secure enough sponsorship to make it profitable, mostly due to how quickly it was put together.  Hills said that they were going to start looking for support for next year's event almost immediately but wouldn't commit to having a next year ... yet.  "I would be very surprised if we don't secure the necessary sponsorship but, until we do, we cannot commit to anything unless we have that in place. We're going to be actively pursuing it now ... and that leads me to believe that it's going to happen," said Hills.  He also joked that there were plenty of sponsors in the seats who got a taste of what Just for Laughs is all about.  But for the comedy fans, the festival was definitely a success.  Jeremy and Kristy Carr of Buffalo, N.Y., who celebrated their honeymoon last year in Toronto, came back for their first anniversary. "It's just a good time. There's enough to do, you never run out. Every time we come here, we find something else," said Carr, 27. "I really liked it," said Craig Weir from Brantford. "We've been to Montreal so it was a lot easier to do this. And I hope they bring the rest of the stuff from Montreal.  "The difference is all the little clubs are busy with comics, it's just more of an all-city festival."

Cool & Dre Sign Distribution Deal With Imperial Records

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Chris Richburg

(July 29, 2007) Music from hit making production team
Cool and Dre will connect with more fans, thanks to a new distribution deal between their record label Epidemic Records and Skeleton Key Entertainment/EMI's Imperial Records. Under the recently signed deal, Imperial Records will a host of distribution and label services which include promotions, marketing, online marketing and publicity for Misery Loves Company, the forthcoming Epidemic Records release from Miami-born rapper Joe Hound. "We're really excited about this Joe Hound project and about us being in business with Imperial," Cool said about the partnership. "It's the beginning of a long lasting relationship. Epidemic and Imperial are going to take it all the way to the top."

Described as an album exploring life lessons and missed opportunities mixed with detailed musical bits and pieces of Joe Hound's rise as an emcee, Misery Loves Company chronicles the Bethune Cookman graduate's life. The first single from the album will be "She Likes It." "Working with Imperial Records has proven to be "a great experience," said Hound. "They take care of our needs. It's been a really professional relationship. They give us opportunities to do whatever we want because they let us control our own music. You can't ask for anything more than that."


 Mighty Quins Lovin' The Noise Following Release Of The Con

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter

(July 29, 2007) Being intense Virgos is a good thing for the
Quin sisters, Tegan and Sara. With a jam-packed schedule in the month pre- and post-release of their fifth album that includes sell-out gigs on both North American coasts, and an appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Sara says it's a relief the Calgary-born twins are both strong at scheduling, one of their zodiac traits.  "It's the best part of the job when the album comes out," says Sara in a phone interview.  The pace is a lot different compared to the year off the duo had after 18 months of touring in support of their 2004 hit album So Jealous. It was the first real holiday since high school. A boring life, the 26-year-old says – the only vice she picked up was a coffee addiction – but things will surely pick up now that she's on tour.

Earlier this week, The Con debuted to positive reviews – the New York Times said it "could well be one of the year's best albums" – for the pair's maturing sound and lyrics. With MySpace and online leaks, the album is already a hit with their fans, especially the hordes that waited hours and sang along to new songs at the release party in an independent record store in L.A. Easily over the 900-person legal limit, Sara says many camped out to get a sampling of their acoustic set.  "There's a part of you that's like, `Why are you doing that? Why do you want to be there at 6 a.m.?'" says Sara in a sympathetic yet grateful tone.  On The Con, Tegan and Sara stick to familiar anxiety-ridden subjects such as being wounded in love and the search for identity. But for two politically active individuals, Sara says it's hard to pen their beliefs into lyrics.  Growing up, the Quins weren't strangers to rallies and marches since their mother was a social worker and a feminist.  "When it comes down to me sitting down with my guitar in my room writing a song, I rarely think about saying something political. I'm not totally sure why," says Sara. "Maybe in my heart, I'm a romantic and self-absorbed."

The first track on the album, Sara's "I was Married" dabbles with the issue of gay marriage, but she says it's more of her reflection on her own sexuality and relationship choices instead of her political leanings.  "I can't believe that what I do in my life," says Sara, "that it can anger and disgust so many people. Especially touring in America and internationally as well, it's tough sometimes when you turn on the television and see your life being debated and you as a person being critiqued." Tegan and Sara have already sold out many of their worldwide shows up until December. The two will play the Rogers Picnic at 5:25 p.m. today at Fort York (www.rogerspicnic.com). Anyone who doesn't catch them on this swing through the city will be able to hear them when they come back later in the fall as part of the Canadian leg of the tour. A date and venue will be announced shortly. Or there's always Conan on Tuesday – there's always something terrifying about performing on TV, says Sara – where they will perform their catchy single "Back in Your Head." "They're enjoyable in the sense like you're trying out a new dive and `I hope that I don't hit my head on the diving board,' " says Sara. "But if you successfully complete the dive, you're like, `I'm amazing.' "

Blasting Through Music's Genre Ghettos

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner

(July 26, 2007) From the title of his new CD - Ghettoblaster - you might reasonably conclude that Josh Dolgin is all about rap, hip hop and funk. In part, he is. He even records and performs under the pseudonym SoCalled, as cool a moniker as you're likely to find in the South Bronx. But spend a few minutes listening and you'll quickly discover that the 30-year-old Montrealer respects a lot of other musical traditions as well -among them, jazz, soul, rock, folk and klez (klezmer music). And what Dolgin clearly means by Ghettoblaster has nothing to do with shoulder-fired musical missiles, but with breaking down the walls that ghettoize those genres. An exuberant exercise in eclecticism, the album includes the work of more than 40 musicians, including Bronx rapper C-Rayz Walz, klezmer clarinettist David Krakauer, Indian percussionist Ganesh Anandan, folk icon Theodore Bikel, Broadway bagels and bongos legend Irving Fields (now 93), trombone deity Fred Wesley (the genius behind James Brown), gospel singer Doris Glaspie and Montreal post-rock singer and violinist Sophie Trudeau. Many of the tunes are traditional, including a children's song written in 1906, but all are Dolgin's arrangements. "It's all kinds of different styles and ages and races and generations and everybody is mixed together," Dolgin explained recently, hanging out in his favourite coffee house on Montreal's rue Saint-Viateur. "And out of that comes beautiful songs, sort of based on Jewishy melodies, but with all kinds of other influences."

Just released, Ghettoblaster has already sold 10,000 copies in Europe - an astonishing number in an era when almost no one actually needs to buy albums. One of those artists far better known outside of Canada than in it, Dolgin is just back from a 20-concert tour of France, Poland and the Czech Republic. His first CD, Hiphopkhasene, won the German critics' prize for world-music album of the year in 2003. SoCalled is now finishing up a four-city Canadian tour, including Montreal, Wakefield, Que., Toronto and Guelph. Then it's back to Europe for more dates in France, England and Poland. At first blush, the notion of successfully blending percussive-heavy hip hop with the minor-key melodies of klez seems unlikely. Certainly that's how clarinettist Krakauer felt when he first met Dolgin a few years ago. But "when I listened to it, I was quite impressed." The result is that Dolgin, who sings with Toronto-based Beyond the Pale and performs with Montreal's Shtreiml and with L.A.-based the Aleph Project, now tours and records with Krakauer's Klezmer Madness! group. Krakauer calls his latest release, Bubbemeises: Lies My Gramma Told Me, the first full collaboration with SoCalled and the beginning of "a whole new chapter in his life as a composer, a musician and producer." Theodore Bikel was another convert. They had met at a festival in Poland and then again in Los Angeles, where Bikel turned up by surprise as Dolgin was onstage. "I invited him up and said, 'Sing over this [rap beat]' and it worked, so I said we got to get this into a studio."

Raised outside Chelsea, Que., the son of a Canadian diplomat, Dolgin was into hip hop long before he began to explore his own roots in Jewish music. He started piano lessons at the age of 4 and had to be bribed by his mother to keep them up until high school. Later, he taught himself the accordion and played in a variety of bands. Then he discovered hip hop. "I loved African-American music, particularly funk, James Brown and Sly, and all that funkadelic stuff," Dolgin says. "Then came rap, which seemed like a logical evolution from that tradition and also had a message. An incredibly frank and poetic language was being used. I'd never heard lyrics that talked about what was happening. A new way of talking about society. A comedic element was there, but it's also serious. It felt like a new discovery. ... I did not have to see music through anyone else's eyes." After getting a degree from McGill University, Dolgin started working as a producer on rap albums. While sampling different musical sounds for beats, he stumbled across records made by Yiddish theatre star and scat singer Aaron Lebedev. "It felt like I'd made like an archeological discovery, like an ancient civilization." He found more material in garage sales and basements, and Salvation Army warehouses. Its impact, he says, was enormous. "It made me into a musician, compelled me to learn how to play better, how to sing, and how to write and perform. It gave me a unique voice." But Dolgin says he was and is interested in klezmer music only as "a stepping-off point in creating a new music for today that blasts out of the ghetto and gets people talking. I've been working my ass off and I'm getting closer." SoCalled plays the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Que., tonight the Hillside Music Festival in Guelph, Ont., Saturday and Toronto's Harbourfront Sunday.

She Struck Yukon Gold

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

(July 26, 2007) "The Yukon River is like a moving lake, a gentle giant that will take you where you need to go ... whether you're paddling or not," is the way Whitehorse songwriter
Kim Beggs remembers her recent voyage, by canoe, from Minto to Dawson City. She usually drives, occasionally flies, but last week the adventurous singer, her pure and expressive voice likened to Nanci Griffith and Iris DeMent, paddled her way north on the Yukon, with her guitar bundled in a buoyant foam case wrapped inside a plastic garbage bag, to perform at the Dawson City Music Festival. It's a trip that would normally take about four days.  "I stopped off in Fort Selkirk for about 10 days to catch up with myself and get started on some new songs," Beggs said in a phone interview from Dawson. "Eventually I met up with some friends who were canoeing to Dawson as well – (singer-songwriters) Natalie Edelson, Kate Weekes and Kim Barlow – and we put on a concert in the Anglican church at Selkirk. CBC showed up to record and film it. "Then we all paddled on to Dawson, eight of us in four canoes with banjos and guitars and all kinds of instruments." This time of year, the Yukon is like a highway, she added, "carrying musicians from all over Canada, even from the U.S., up to Dawson City."

Born in Val d'Or, Que., Beggs spent her adolescent years in Toronto before heading into the Yukon wilderness in the winter of 1991.  "I got to Whitehorse and stayed. It felt good to me, it started feeding me. Sometimes I think it's a hard life up here, but Whitehorse gives me what I need." What it gives her is a vibrantly creative community of musicians similarly lost and found in the Yukon wilderness, and a generous mentor in Juno Award-winning music producer and multi-instrumentalist Bob Hamilton, who recorded and played steel guitar, mandolin and guitar on Beggs' current album, Wanderer's Paean, a collection of rustic and sentimental ballads. Hamilton and bassist Brian Kobayakawa, from Toronto-based progressive newgrass band The Creaking Tree String Quartet, will accompany Beggs in performances Monday night at the Moonshine Café in Oakville, at the Blues Skies Music Festival in Clarendon Aug. 3 through 5, and Mitzi's Sister in Toronto Aug. 6.  Beggs and Hamilton are also booked at the prestigious Edmonton Folk Festival Aug. 9 through 14.

New Ledisi Project Coming Soon

Source: Ryan J. Hobbs, ThinkTank Marketing, www.thinktankmktg.com

(July 27, 2007) From her name to her music to her mission to the circuitous path that brought her to legendary Verve Records for her third album, Lost and Found (in-stores August 28), Ledisi is a galvanizing, all-natural wonder. Wherever she goes, she wows and astounds.   This year, during a gala Songwriters' Hall of Fame ceremony, an A-list of show business veterans could hardly wait for Ledisi's rapturous rendition of "Unchained Melody" to end before lavishing her with thunderous applause. In 2006, before a rapt contingent of music business mavens at the Urban Network conference,  Ledisi - wedged between a hip hop act and a tweety bird - brought an audience of astute professionals to its feet with an amazing a cappella performance of the Beatles ' "Yesterday." Then there was the PBS televised tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, "We All Love Ella," where no less than Quincy Jones introduced her to the stage (adopting her as his goddaughter) where she proceeded to belt out a show-stealing version of "Blues in the Night" that she had previously recorded for the companion CD with the great Phil Ramone producing.  Singer/songwriter Ledisi (pronounced led-duh-see and adopted from the word that means "to bring forth" in the Yoruba language of Nigeria ) is the epitome of the performer that - after she earns a standing ovation - people stare wide-eyed and mumbling, "Where has she been all this time?" The lady will tell you - in a voice of equal parts sweet, slightly weary yet triumphant - "Here...all the time."

Three years in the making, the 16-track Lost and Found (for which Ledisi co-produced all of the songs with veterans Rex Rideout , Jamey Jaz and Mano Hanes, newcomer Lorenzo Johnson and longtime collaborator Sundra Manning ) is the album destined to usher a deserving talent into some well-earned limelight. Overflowing with deeply touching songs of love and life, the CD cuts a swath through intimate snapshots of relationships that linger in the mind long after the last note has been sung. Emotions swing from the soulful swoon of falling in love with your "Best Friend" to a liberating acknowledgement that it's time for lovers to throw in the towel on the insanely hooky "I Tried" (featuring Errol Cooney on guitar - the chorus reads: "I tried, you tried / We tried…Time to move on!"). "In the Morning" flows like an old R&B LP a la Stevie Wonder or Barry White , expressing a woman's need for love after the lovin'. On the more contemporary side are " Joy " and "You & Me" that telegraph the bliss of being truly connected to someone. And the smoothly hip hop-spiced "Think of You" is so reverent that it really couldn't be about anything else but loving The Lord. The first single from Lost and Found is the moving "Alright," reassuring words of comfort, self love and survival that everyone can relate to. "'Alright' came from me just being tired from the ups and downs of my journey," Ledisi shares. "It came during a great low as well as a great high in my life. I was trying to stay positive and feel like, no matter what, things were gonna be alright. Before I signed with Verve, I was writing and recording songs with no idea where the money would be coming from to pay for all of it. It was tough." Check out Ledisi's brand new single, "It's Alright": http://verve.edgeboss.net/wmedia/verve/ledisi/alright.wax; http://verve.edgeboss.net/real/verve/ledisi/alright.smi  www.myspace.com/ledisi

Radio Is Feeling Howard Hewett's New Single

Source: Rick Scott, greatscottproductions@earthlink.net

(July 30, 2007) The amorous vocal tones of
Howard Hewett are seducing Urban Adult Contemporary radio listeners with his recently released single, “Can U Feel Me,” the second cut from the new If Only… album.    Each week, the sensual ballad is amongst the most added to radio stations’ playlists and is earning significant spin increases ever since it debuted high at #27 on the Urban Adult Contemporary chart.   Now poised to enter the top 20, “Can U Feel Me” was written by Hewett, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Ralph Johnson, and Joe Wolfe.  Hewett and Johnson produced the track, the follow-up to the top 20 single, “Enough.”   If Only…, Hewett’s first R&B album in over a decade, was released May 15th by The Groove Records label, a division of entertainment conglomerate The Machine Productions, which is distributed by Navarre/Koch.   To support the album release, Hewett has been performing concerts across the country.  At an intimate  club date recently held at B.B. King’s in the Los Angeles area, Hewett was joined on stage by the legendary Stevie Wonder and Teena Marie, which stirred the packed house – including actress LisaRaye McCoy and actress-celebrity fitness trainer A.J. Johnson - into a frenzy.  Hewett also took the stage to perform in Las Vegas at Chris Webber’s recent “Bada Bling!” Celebrity Weekend to benefit the basketball star’s non-profit organization that raises money to increase literacy amongst disadvantaged youth.  Also on the bill were Raphael Saadiq, The Isley Brothers, Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh.

Next week, Hewett will tape a performance of “Can U Feel Me” for the new TV ONE network show, Baisden After Dark, hosted by popular national radio personality-author-motivational speaker Michael Baisden.  The airdate will be announced.  Hewett performs on local morning television shows while on tour and will next appear on Live at 9 for the CBS network affiliate in Memphis, Tennessee on August 10th.  

HEAR "Can You Feel Me" at Howard Hewett's MySpace page HERE.

Mary J Blige, LL Cool, Buju Banton, Beenie Man and Beres Hammond reigned at Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson

(July 26, 2007) *The 15th staging of Jamaica’s premiere reggae music festival, Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest, has now ended. The nearly 50,000 patrons who attended the three day event should be beaming from spectacular performances from some of reggae and dancehall music’s hottest acts, and two of R&B and hip hop music’s most treasured stars.  Mary J Blige tore through the festival leaving the Jamaican audience on a high with her large arsenal of hits; LL Cool J who was making his debut performance in the island, had the ladies screaming with delight; Beenie Man was awesome; Beres Hammond was his usual entertaining self; and Buju Banton ran unchecked with his showmanship and diverse hit laden catalogue.  Other performers who ruled the stage at Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest included newcomers Tessanne Chin, Tarrus Riley, Busy Signal, Mavado, Munga, Lady Saw, Alaine and Tanya Stephens.

 Mary J Blige is one of those performers who, through music, relates her own experiences, moving the most stoic of listeners to catharsis. "I was going through hell, and when you went out and bought my album, I was your therapist. and when you listened we both began to heal," said the emotional singer during her Saturday night performance at Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest's final instalment, The Zenith.  Blue lights flashed as the thud of piano keys heralded the favourite No More Drama, which alludes to her past struggles with abusive relationships and an alleged drug problem.   The life lessons continued, as the diva's voice soared, meandering through difficult rifts even as she contorted her slim frame as if each word jabbed her body.  "Don't let the naysayers kill your dreams. keep kickin' 'em to the curve. Be happy with who you are," the R&B queen declared, her fans endorsing her statement by way of applause. And after a long sigh, she proceeded with the love song Be Without You from her late 2005 album Breakthrough.  "I got sick and tired of people's opinions and how I let that rule my life. as long as I love who I am that's cool," she said, apt lines for the introduction to Take Me As I Am, followed by the bluesy I'm Going Down. The audience, however, seemed to have 'first dibs' on the latter track, nearly completing the song before the singer could utter a note.

The ghetto soprano's four-inch heels proved no impediment for her since she glided across the stage, dancing, stooping and jumping during the other renditions: Real Love (her 1994 debut single), Enough Cryin' - produced by famous R&B producer Rodney 'Dark Child' Jerkins, featuring her rapping alter ego Brooklyn - and Baggage, among others.  Showcasing her impressive repertoire aside, Blige was the consummate performer, possessing what seemed like an innate ability to connect with her mostly female fan base - many of whom were also stirred to emotion. Her set was well-organised and perfectly executed, which easily made her the best performer of the three-day festival.  The singer, who appeared midway through the show, closed with her 'crunk' track Dance For Me.

Life On The Road: What Indie Looks Like Now

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(July 28, 2007) It's tough to be indie when your song is part of a Lacostead campaign. But indie it-girl Leslie Feist, who is once again Toronto-based after an extended sojourn in Paris, still pulls off the indie label, even if her song Mushaboom is the soundtrack for Lacoste's Essential men's cologne. Or take the ever-combustible Montreal group Arcade Fire, still indie even after opening for U2, appearing on Saturday Night Live and debuting at No. 2 on Billboard's album chart in the United States earlier this year with its second album Neon Bible. Can Arcade Fire even be called indie any more in the alternative, shun-too-much-attention sense? Neon Bible was the biggest release so far for the band's small North Carolina record label Merge, with 92,000 copies sold in its first week in the U.S. alone. That's close to a third of total U.S. sales for Arcade Fire's 2004 first album Funeral, as reported by Billboard magazine. Neon Bible and Feist's new album, The Reminder, another international hit, seem to be leading the Canadian indie wave from strength to strength internationally, particularly if you include the continuing global interest surrounding Toronto's Broken Social Scene, Montreal's the Dears and Vancouver's the New Pornographers (who have a new, heavily promoted album due in the coming weeks on the major U.S. indie label Matador), to name just a handful.

But look closely at the articles and reviews about these bands for the indie cognoscenti on the Pitchfork Media website and other influential sources outside Canada. They mention the fact less and less that these bands are from this or that Canadian city. After all the attention on “CANADA!” in the foreign press in recent years, with Arcade Fire's Funeral and Broken Social Scene's pivotal 2002 You Forgot It In People helping to lead the charge, things have matured. Now the talk of particular Canadian spots has been superseded by interest in the orbit of musicians and fans around specific bands. Or the discussion is about a Canadian band's musical links, such as how the Montreal band the Besnard Lakes shares its affinity for the music of Beach Boy Brian Wilson with others, such as indie star Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) of the American group Animal Collective. Chicago-based Pitchfork's senior news editor Amy Phillips says whether a band's from Toronto or Montreal isn't the be-all and end-all. “We'd check out a band because they collaborated with people from other bands we were fans of, or were produced by someone we trusted, or were recommended by someone.”

So don't start declaring Montreal or Vancouver hot spots past their peak like Athens, Ga., or Seattle. It's more complicated than that. “As a label that works with a lot of Canadian bands – we have nine – I think we're actually trying to get past the whole Canada thing,” says Chris Swanson, co-founder of a trio of U.S.-based indie labels, including Secretly Canadian. It's a tongue-in-cheek name that has less to do with any philosophy and more to do with Chris and his brother (also a co-founder) growing up close to Canada in Fargo, N.D. “Don't get me wrong. There is an amazing number of incredible bands coming out of Canada right now. And I don't think it's any less fertile right now than it was three years ago,” Swanson says. “But because it got so much hype, you want to make sure the quality of the band is able to stand on its own, more so than where they are from.” He adds that the best Canadian bands “aren't just hip, and they don't just have hip friends, or come from hip communities. They are making incredible art, and that's what we care about. … There are just a lot of great musical cities in the world, and Canada has a bunch of them.”

Montreal's the Besnard Lakes is on their roster, for instance, and its album The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse was recently nominated to the short list of the second annual Polaris Music Prize, a critics' award for best Canadian album of the year. “When we met the Besnard Lakes, my partner Darius [Van Arman] went up to Montreal to watch them play, and there was just a great vibe in the room,” Swanson explains. “People loved them. A lot of people were there. We already knew we wanted to work with this band.” But, a Canadian place name can still count. Malajube, a francophone band with a spectral and yet humanistic sound (arguably a Montreal quality), has been able to use its Montreal base to draw interest from the U.S. and even to break into English Canada. “For Malajube, it helped. [Being from Montreal] doesn't do the whole job for you, but it opens the door and gives you a first chance. A lot of media, a lot of people have been more curious,” says Eli Bissonnette, who runs Malajube's label Dare to Care Records. The trick, however, remains a particularly indie-style word of mouth, largely Internet and blog-based. Arcade Fire's Funeral and Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People will forever be associated with Web buzz after rave reviews on Pitchfork. Meanwhile, the New Pornographers' upcoming album is currently featured on New York record store Other Music's web page, a coup for any band. And for Malajube, a surprising boost came when the video for the band's song Montréal -40°C was featured on YouTube's home page.

“They had 400,000 clicks in a few days,” Bissonnette says about the rush of people clicking to watch the clip on the video-sharing web service. But for a stellar act like Feist, it's no longer a matter of luck, Lacoste notwithstanding. On Feist's 2004 Let It Die, each phase of marketing evolved as the album reached new audiences. First, the indie crowd was targeted, then the followers, “all the way to the soccer moms,” as an insider at Feist's label Arts & Crafts described it. With the new album The Reminder, “we were able to target a much broader audience from day one.” And, of course, once you've got the soccer moms, you've got the world.

Sauga Continues For IllScarlett

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter

July 29, 2007) Despite the wild impressions some of us have of the rock star life, every overnight sensation knows all the work that goes into writing songs, playing shows to build an audience and attempt to keep it over the life of a band. Getting noticed is also a huge key, and for local rock-reggae purveyors IllScarlett, life would not be the same if they didn't have the gumption to play the Warped Tour in 2004. Even if it was just in the parking lot.  "Yeah, that's our big Cinderella story," says lead singer Alex Norman, who formed the band with friends in 2001. "We just set up in front of the (fan) line-up, and we had our generator and our equipment and started playing. Before we were done, Kevin Lyman, the tour promoter, came up and said, `I love you guys, I want you to come play our barbecue.'" It's Warped tradition to hold a post-show "tiki party" in Barrie, and with that invite the band found itself playing for all of the rest of the bands on the tour. Norman says it was awesome. Afterward, Lyman said he put the band on the tour, and so they have become peers with the bands that once were their heroes.

Now the band has released its major label debut, All Day With It, following their EP EPdemic that included "Heaters," which was well received on the airwaves of local rock station Edge 102. The new record debuted at No. 10 nationally and No. 2 in the city. It's playing four stops on the Warped Tour – inside the fence, this time – and it's set to show off its new tunes on the main stage today at 3:30 p.m. at Wakestock, on Centre Island. Norman says the band wants to maintain the workmanlike approach that has got it this far.  "Well, we're in a really good place right now. We've been able to do it ourselves for so many years, because it taught us strong work ethic and a do-it-yourself attitude," says Norman. "And we're all excited to keep working and playing live and touring, making the best of it, because I know this could be gone tomorrow." Because of its fusion of rock and reggae, no discussion of the band would be complete without mentioning Sublime, the fondly remembered L.A. band in the same genre. No Doubt is another touchstone, a connection that gets stronger because All Day With It was recorded and produced by Matthew Wilder (he produced Tragic Kingdom) in L.A.

Norman confronts the comparisons head on.  "Especially recently with the whole emo, screamo, post-hardcore, and I don't even know what they're called anymore or where the trends are, but that's a good thing for us ... when people hear a band that's not screaming or crying and all this sort of stuff, I think it's refreshing. I mean when people come and hear us they just love it. And especially when they say you guys are carrying on the Sublime legacy, it's good. We'd like to be starting our own legacy, but it's okay to be compared to one of the greatest bands ever." He does bristle when the band is compared to ska punk.  "Well, I hate when people call us a ska band, I mean, we even have a lyric that goes, `Mixing the reggae, the rock, and the ska, punk and dub,' but that just works as a lyric. We're more rock-reggae sort of oriented nowadays," he says. "We like everything and I think that shows in our music ... we never limit ourselves when we're writing a song as to what kind of song that it's going to be. We just write it." If there is a comparison to be made – though it doesn't hold sonically – it is to Billy Talent, the Streetsville crew that Norman calls friends, and further proof that Mississauga is the new Scarborough, at least when it comes to burgeoning local bands reaching new heights.

The band took its name from an area of the 'Sauga that has streets named for Robin Hood characters, dumping the "W" from Will Scarlett Dr. As well, all the guys still live in the Mississauga area, including Norman, who's in Clarkson. But Norman namedrops several bands from the area, and IllScarlett is touring the East Coast with Billy Talent in September, in a series of shows that could jokingly be dubbed The 905 Power Hour. "Our band got its foothold in the 905 scene up in Streetsville at the Masonic Lodge, which is the same place Billy Talent was doing shows as Pez years and years ago. So it's really cool to be touring with a band like that ...  "We're proud to be from the 'Sauga. We always like to say we're from Mississauga and not Toronto. Nothing wrong with Toronto, but it's just one of those territorial 905 things."


Rap Takes A Back Seat On New Kid Rock Album

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Gary Graff, Detroit

(July 27, 2007) There's quite a bit more rock than rap on
Kid Rock's upcoming Atlantic album, tentatively titled "Rock'n'Roll Jesus," which will arrive Oct. 9. Recorded at the Clarkston Chophouse studio on his home property in Michigan, the set cuts a broad stylistic swath, from metallic headbangers like first single "So Hot" and "Sugar" (the set's only rap track) to such rootsy, gospel-hued fare as "Amen" ("The best song I've ever written," Rock tells Billboard) and "When You Love Someone."  The Motown-influenced "Roll On" rolls alongside the power ballad "Miss Understood" and the Crescent City-flavoured "New Orleans" (co-written with pal David Allen Coe), while "All Summer Long" entertainingly mashes up elements of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama"-with the latter group's Billy Powell on piano.  The album ends with "Half Your Age," a sly country kiss-off to ex-wife Pamela Anderson. When it reaches the chorus' closing line about finding a younger girlfriend who's "twice as hot," Rock throws his arms up and offers an exultant high five. "I think people expect it," he says with a shrug and smile, tapping on a cigar. "It'd be stupid to pretend that it didn't happen and not say anything."  Overall, Rock -- who's dedicating the album to his late friend, Atlantic co-founder Ahmet Ertegun -- hopes the effect is "like going to church drunk on Saturday night. It defines America; if you just had to play one American rock album for somebody, this would be it."  To support the album, Rock is planning a promo tour, which will include radio events, prior to the release. There will also be a series of theatre and club dates to promote the album, with a full-scale tour planned for 2008.  For more on the new Kid Rock album, see the Aug. 4 issue of Billboard, on newsstands and online at Billboard.biz today (July 27).

Tide Has Turned For Indian Ocean

Excerpt from www.thestar.com – Prithi Yelaja, Staff Reporter

(July 26, 2007) For
Indian Ocean, the road to becoming one of the hottest bands in India today has been long and arduous. "We're anything but an overnight success," chuckles drummer Amit Kilam, over the phone from Seattle. "We've been hard-working boys. It's been a fairly tough ride ... till a few years back." As part of a 16-city North American tour, the four-member, New Delhi-based band – Kilam, Susmit Sen, Asheem Chakravarthy and Rahul Ram – makes a stop in Toronto tomorrow night to launch the mainstage at Masala! Mehndi! Masti! the South Asian arts festival held at the CNE grounds. Indian music critics have described Indian Ocean's music as "jazz-spiced Indo-rock fusion that integrates shlokas, Sufism, environmentalism, mythology and revolution." But Kilam says they represent the sound of contemporary India – music that relies heavily on folk music. "We are the youngest country in the world today. Sixty per cent of our population is in their 20s. Our audience tends to look to their roots, to folk music for meaning and inspiration," says Kilam. The band sings in half a dozen Indian languages including Bengali, Sanskrit, Hindi and Kashmiri, as well as English. They play a dozen instruments including guitar, drums, flute, clarinet, tabla, as well as Indian folk instruments.

Is Jay-Z Leaving Def Jam For Columbia?

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 26, 2007) *The arrival of Jermaine Dupri as president of the Island Urban music division in February has apparently rankled the president of Island’s Def Jam label, Jay-Z. The New York Daily News is quoting sources who confirm that Jay-Z is in talks to join rival label Columbia Records, in part to get some distance from Dupri’s kingdom under the same Island umbrella.    "There isn't room for two kings at one label," says a source. "Why would Island bring in another power-hitter urban guy?"  Ironically, Dupri’s girlfriend Janet Jackson recently left Virgin two weeks ago and followed signed with Dupri’s Island Urban, while Columbia is the label home of Jay-Z’s girlfriend, Beyonce.  Also, Columbia’s new co-chairman Rick Rubin has been looking to shake up the label’s A&R department.   "He's creating a supergroup of staff," a second source tells Daily News column Gatecrasher. "So it would make sense that he would want Jay on his side."

Spice Girls Add Vancouver Date

Source: Reuters

(July 27, 2007) LONDON — The
Spice Girls announced extra dates for their comeback world tour on Friday after more than three million fans registered for tickets on their Web site. The reformed pop group – Posh, Ginger, Sporty, Scary and Baby – will play three extra concerts in Shanghai, Vancouver and San Jose, California. The 14-city tour starts in Canada on Dec. 2 and ends on Jan. 24, 2008 in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.  "In true 'Girl Power' tradition, we are taking over the world again," the band said in a statement. "As our own VB (Victoria Beckham) would say – that is major." The Spice Girls, whose hits include Wannabe, Spice Up Your Life and Say You'll Be There, announced their reunion tour at a news conference last month. The band, which sold 55 million albums around the world, split up in 2000, two years after Geri Halliwell left.

Etta James Hospitalized

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 27, 2007) *Legendary Blues singer Etta James is reported to be in stable condition in a Los Angeles hospital suffering from complications following abdominal surgery. According to an email sent by James ' manager Lupe De Leon, the 69-year-old rock 'n' roll pioneer was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center this week due to complications from surgery performed last month.   Her hospitalization has caused James to postpone concert appearances. Blues icon B.B. King and soul veteran Al Green started the tour without James on Tuesday in Florida . James hopes to join the tour in August. In the meantime, R&B singer Chaka Khan is substituting for James on the tour. "If it had been left solely up to her, she would have checked herself out of the hospital and started the tour regardless of her delicate health," De Leon said. "However, her doctor advised that were she to do so, it would put her at very great risk."  James is best known for her classic song "At last." The three-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and remains an active recording artist.

Ice-T Goes Back To His First Love

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 27, 2007) *Although to prime-time TV addicts, he's probably best known for his most recent role as a police detective, Ice-T is going back to the talent that put him on the map: rapping.  Next month the actor/rapper will perform as part of concert tour featuring Mano Brown, MV Bill , Black Alien and others. The concert kicks off August 9 in Sao Paulo and will move to Rio de Janeiro , Curitiba and Porto Alegre .  Born Tracy Marrow , Ice-T is one of the original gangster rappers. His 1992 song "Cop Killer," performed with his heavy-metal band Body Count, landed him at the center of a controversy.  These days Ice-T portrays Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola on NBC's series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

Lone Black Eyed Pea Announces Album Release

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 27, 2007) *After producing musical hits for artists of nearly every genre, Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas hopes he can create the same magic for himself.  He has announced a September 25th release date for his first solo album "Songs About Girls." Although he has connections to plenty of entertainers from Nas to Carlos Santana , the only cameo appearance on his debut release will be from Snoop Dogg. "I didn't want to come out and say, 'Hey, I'm a producer and here are all my friends,'" will.i.am said. "I wanted to be my own man and do my own thing and really try out some ideas that have been bubbling in my head."

Etheridge Sending A 'Message' On New Album

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(July 27, 2007)
Melissa Etheridge's first album in more than three years will arrive in the fall. Due Sept. 25 via Island, "The Awakening" is led by the single Message to Myself," which goes to U.S. radio outlets on Monday (July 30).  Etheridge has conquered breast cancer since the release of 2004's "Lucky," an experience that has informed the lyrics for the new album.  "When I was on chemotherapy, I listened to all my albums back to back," she told Billboard earlier this year. "It was therapy for me. I realized what I had been saying to myself in my music -- the things that I would put down that I wouldn't think consciously, but I would think subconsciously. When I started creating this album I asked myself, 'What [would happen] if I create from a subconscious level consciously?' There are very personal things on the album, including one of the greatest love songs I have ever written. These songs are 100% truthful about me and how I am feeling."  Among the other tracks earmarked to appear are "Threesome," "The Universe Listened," "I've Loved You Before," "An Unexpected Rain" and "California."  "The Awakening" began taking shape around the time Etheridge won the best original song Oscar in February for "I Need To Wake Up," from Al Gore's environmental documentary "I Need To Wake Up."  "I was recording ... in between rehearsing for the Oscars. So I would record for seven hours, go and rehearse for the Oscars, and then come back and record," she said. "When I won the Oscar, it was a huge honour. It was like a sign saying, 'You're doing the right thing.'"


Funky Cheadle

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Rob Salem, Entertainment Critic

Talk to Me
(out of 4)
Starring Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taraji P. Henson and Martin Sheen, written by Michael Genet and Rick Famuyiwa, directed by Kasi Lemmons. 118 minutes. At major theatres. 14A

(July 27, 2007) Like most lifelong friendships – and almost all of them in movies – infamous '60s Washington deejay Petey Greene and his radio mentor, Dewey Hughes, started as antagonistic, mutually derogatory polar opposites. Or, two sides of the same coin.
Talk to Me evokes a time when Black America was wrestling with, and initiating, tumultuous change, reflected by the unlikely bond between these two men, a professional partnership that made a significant impact on their community and their industry. It also has the virtue of being true. Or at least as unvarnished as a screen biography can be when co-authored by the son of its surviving subject, Hughes, the actor-screenwriter (She Hate Me) Michael Genet. Dewey Hughes met Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene in a Virginia prison, where he was Big Man on the Cell Block with a steady stream of profane patter broadcast over the p.a. system. Greene's pestering finally pressures Hughes into an offer of an eventual job and the rest is cultural history. Greene was morning radio's first "shock jock," a voice from the streets who told it like it was to an audience unaccustomed to hearing the truth over public airwaves. Greene captured the mood of civil rights-era urban African America, which he reflected back on itself with humour and uncompromising frankness. And, with the devastating news of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., he was a soothing source of comfort and commiseration. Greene became a local hero, then a successful stand-up comic and TV host. He had dinner at the White House (he admitted on-air to stealing a spoon), and was about to break through nationally with a gig on the Tonight Show, but bailed, with apologies to Johnny Carson, just a few seconds into his act.

Ultimately thwarted by his lack of ambition and by a lifelong weakness for booze and women, Greene died of cancer in 1984, never reaching the fame that Hughes had intended for him – and perhaps for himself. The late '60s and early '70s come kitschily alive with authentic settings and costumes and a cherry-picked period soundtrack. The characters are brought to vivid life with remarkably compelling performances by two of the screen's most versatile actors: Don Cheadle as the freewheeling Greene; and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Hughes, the aggressively ambitious executive. Comic relief is provided by Taraji P. Henson's almost over-the-top portrayal of Greene's girlfriend Vernell, all high heels, hair, and ultrasonic shrieks. Cedric the Entertainer also amuses as the disc-spinning equivalent of Barry White.

Abbie Shines On

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Rita Zekas, Living Columnist

(July 27, 2007)
Abigail Breslin, nominated for best supporting actress for her role in last year's sleeper hit Little Miss Sunshine, sits in direct, glaring sunlight on the patio of yupscale Pusateri's on Bay and Yorkville nibbling on a piece of strudel. She has beautiful fair skin but refuses to switch places and sit in the shade. Her mom, Kit, who is also her manager, just shrugs. Breslin is wearing a stifling, black hoodie with Superman on the back and fake bleach spots on the front. "I bought it at (über trendy) Scoop in New York," says Breslin. "I love Roots here; I love to shop." "It's our sport," says Kit. "We're extreme shoppers." Breslin, 11, is slimmer and taller in person, having apparently outgrown the puppy fat she had in the film. That said, she still keeps getting recognized by passersby. She is taking a break from shooting the film Kit Kittredge: an American Girl Mystery here in Toronto, to chat about the movie No Reservations, which opens today.

In Reservations, she plays Zoe, niece of Kate Armstrong (Catherine Zeta-Jones), an intimidating, perfectionist chef at a trendoid Manhattan eatery.  Zoe is a bright and shy 9-year-old whom Kate has inherited after the death of her sister. "Zoe is an orphan because of a car accident and her aunt doesn't know what to do about Zoe because she doesn't have kids," explains Breslin. "Zoe is really missing her mom and I think she doesn't like the big house and having to move. She knows her aunt is not nurturing." Breslin says Zeta-Jones was "very nice" but her kids are younger than her so they didn't really hang out. Aaron Eckhart plays Nick, the eatery's flamboyant new sous chef, and the kitchen really heats up. Breslin connected with Eckhart, teaching him cheerleading cheers. Was he any good? "Yes, he has possibilities." Meanwhile, Breslin learned how to flip pancakes. "I really like to cook," she claims. "Peanut butter and jelly is my best thing – and I love to do laundry and I like to vacuum." Housecleaning is a good fallback career because after an Oscar nom., it's all downhill from here, kiddo.

But the biggie for Breslin was discovering truffles: as in the prohibitively expensive fungi. "We're not buying truffles," states Kit. "Except the chocolate ones." Nick makes kid-friendly food for Zoe, whose taste runs to fish sticks, not foie gras – though you get the impression Breslin would go for the foie gras given her truffle lust. "I had to eat pasta and it was really good," Breslin recalls. "What's my favourite food? One you order out." She loves Vietnamese food. Breslin, born April 14, 1996 in New York, has been acting since age 3, making her debut in a Toys R Us commercial.  Her two older brothers, Spencer and Ryan, are both actors. Her father, Michael, is a computer programmer and consultant. "My brother was working and I did commercials and it was fun," she explains. "Then I did a movie." It was Signs, in which she played Mel Gibson's daughter. A scene from Little Miss Sunshine was featured in the last episode of The Sopranos. Did she know? "We heard that but it's not really an Abbie show," says Kit. Was the Oscar nod life changing? "We're still living the same life," Breslin says. "I'm home schooled." Though she does allow that Oscar night was "really cool and a lot of fun," she says. "The funniest part was seeing everyone in a gown." Everyone wanted to meet Leonardo di Caprio that night, Breslin says, but the highlight for her was meeting Meryl Streep.

"Meryl Streep was in The Devil Wears Prada and Stanley Tucci is in it and it's my favourite movie," says the fledgling fashionista. Tucci is also in Kit Kittredge, as is a menagerie of animals, including a "very demanding" monkey always asking for treats, which thrills Breslin, whose alternative career aspiration is being a veterinarian. "I have two dogs, a cat and a turtle," she says. "I want more." "No," says Kit, to adopting another animal. They live in an apartment and having livestock is problematic. A woman and her daughter, who are staying at the same condo, interrupt to invite Breslin to go to the daughter's sixth grade graduation. Breslin declines politely. She has plans to see the film Nancy Drew. The Breslins leave. Cue the sun to go behind a cloud.

How Movie With Very Blunt Name Managed To Get Very Big Boost

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald

(July 26, 2007) There is no question the upcoming comedy, Young People Fucking, ranks up there with the filthiest film titles of all time. But its Vancouver-based director, Martin Gero, insists that his feature-film directorial debut - which kicks off the Canada First! program at this year's Toronto International Film Festival - is actually a thoughtful, honest portrayal of real relationships among the randy under-30 crowd. A generation "that, more than any other, has tried to separate sex and love as two very distinct, complicated things," he adds, Gero co-wrote the $1.5-million film with his actor buddy, Aaron Abrams (also one of the stars in the comedy). The two met a few years ago working on the set of the sci-fi TV show Stargate Atlantis (in which Abrams in an actor and Gero is currently co-executive producer). "We both were looking to do something different," Gero explains. "We both were single at the time, and we would compare these stories [about our personal lives]," said the director on the phone from Vancouver. "We wanted to do a frank, romantic comedy about sex and relationships. Aaron is fond of saying romantic comedies usually end with a kiss. But for us, the really interesting stuff happens after the kiss."

Abrams and Gero wrote the script over six months, trading versions back and forth by e-mail. The title just kind of happened because both "Aaron and I are horrible at coming up with titles - and it just fit. "The good thing about the title is that is actually cuts through a lot of crap. The bad thing about it is that people may think the film will be more shocking and crass than it actually is. I have to say it was kind of strange for two straight guys to sit down and write a movie about sex together," adds a sheepish Gero, who has shed his single status and now lives with his girlfriend. Produced by Toronto-based Copperheart Entertainment, Young People Fucking portrays four couples and one threesome.  In the course of a steamy night, the players attempt to have seemingly straightforward sex - only to run into all kinds of problems. Young People Fucking is in the enviable position of already having struck distribution deals for both the United States and international markets (with ThinkFilm) and Canada (Christal Films). "The first people we took the script to were at ThinkFilm, who said they loved it, including the title. In fact, they were so fine with the title that we thought the guy we were dealing with at ThinkFilm [Michael Baker] probably was a junior guy who didn't really know what he was talking about. He kept telling us that he could sell the title, but we always believed we'd have to change it. He turned out to be the head of acquisitions," Gero says, "so I guess he knew what he was talking about."

The young filmmakers clearly hand-picked the right distributor.  ThinkFilm has a history of supporting potty-mouth material and owns rights to a number of controversial films, including Steve Anderson's documentary Fuck, the profanity-laced documentary The Aristocrats and another documentary called Awesome: I Fuckin' Shot That, about the Beastie Boys at the 2004 Madison Square Garden concert. Then they figured the title might turn off the programmers at TIFF. Again, it was a non-issue. Gero, who grew up in Ottawa, says they invited the TIFF people to a screening of the film in early June. They found out July 6 - on Gero's 30th birthday - their independent film shot in five bedrooms in Toronto last November and December was a TIFF pick. "That was pretty much the best birthday present I could ever have," says Gero, who studied radio and television at Ryerson, but never graduated. "A week later, we were told we were going to be the opening-night film for the Canadian program, which was just mind-blowing."

Festival Adds Star Power To Line-Up

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar, Entertainment Reporter

(July 27, 2007) The glitterati-drenched buzz of the
Toronto International Film Festival officially got underway yesterday as organizers announced eight Special Presentations featuring some of the biggest names in film, both in front of and behind the camera.  "We always see our Special Presentations section as appealing to the mainstream cinephile, so this is for our audiences who gravitate to more complex films but still like to see stars on a red carpet," says Noah Cowan, festival co-director. "It's a great list, many of these films will be considered the mainstream discoveries of the festival. They all in their own way speak to our age and speak to some of the most inventive filmmaking happening worldwide. All of these films will be talked about." The movies include actor Stuart Townsend's directorial debut Battle In Seattle; the Brad Pitt western, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; Atonement, director Joe Wright's adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel starring Keira Knightley and Vanessa Redgrave; Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, which features stars including Richard Gere, Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger in stories about Bob Dylan; and Tamara Jenkins' The Savages, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney.

"Canadian Paul Haggis is making his return to the festival with In the Valley of Elah, and then there are some really personal films like Sean Penn's Into the Wild and Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding," Cowan says.  The big question for many star watchers is who will be coming to the festival, held Sept. 6 to 15. That won't be announced until Aug. 21, but Cowan is confident fans will be satisfied.  "We always get a great turnout of celebrity here. Our feeling is that if actors and actresses are willing to engage in risky, challenging projects that extend the art form, we'll support them being in Toronto."

Swedish Film Director Ingmar Bergman Dies At Age 89, Report Says

Source:  Associated Press

(July 30, 2007) STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, an iconoclastic filmmaker widely regarded as one of the great masters of modern cinema, has died, local media reported Monday. He was 89 years old.  Bergman died at his home in Faro, Sweden, Swedish news agency TT said, citing his daughter Eva Bergman.  Through more than 50 films, Bergman's vision encompassed all the extremes of his beloved Sweden: the claustrophobic gloom of unending winter nights, the gentle merriment of glowing summer evenings and the bleak magnificence of the island where he spent his last years.  Bergman, who approached difficult subjects such as plague and madness with inventive technique and carefully honed writing, became one of the towering figures of serious filmmaking.  He was "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera," Woody Allen said in a 70th birthday tribute in 1988.  Bergman first gained international attention with 1955's "Smiles of a Summer Night," a romantic comedy that inspired the Stephen Sondheim musical "A Little Night Music."  "The Seventh Seal," released in 1957, riveted critics and audiences. An allegorical tale of the medieval Black Plague years, it contains one of cinema's most famous scenes - a knight playing chess with the shrouded figure of Death.

"I was terribly scared of death," Bergman said of his state of mind when making the film, which was nominated for an Academy Award in the best picture category.  The film distilled the essence of Bergman's work - high seriousness, flashes of unexpected humour and striking images.  In an interview in 2004 with Swedish broadcaster SVT, the reclusive filmmaker admitted that he was reluctant to view his work.  "I don't watch my own films very often. I become so jittery and ready to cry ... and miserable. I think it's awful," Bergman said.  Though best known internationally for his films, Bergman was also a prominent stage director. He worked at several playhouses in Sweden from the mid-1940s, including the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm which he headed from 1963 to 1966. He staged many plays by the Swedish author August Strindberg, whom he cited as an inspiration.  The influence of Strindberg's gruelling and precise psychological dissections could be seen in the production that brought Bergman an even-wider audience: 1973's "Scenes From a Marriage." First produced as a six-part series for television, then released in a theatre version, it is an intense detailing of the disintegration of a marriage.  Bergman showed his lighter side in the following year's "The Magic Flute," again first produced for TV. It is a fairly straight production of the Mozart opera, enlivened by touches such as repeatedly showing the face of a young girl watching the opera and comically clumsy props and costumes.

Bergman remained active later in life with stage productions and occasional TV shows. He said he still felt a need to direct, although he had no plans to make another feature film.  In the fall of 2002, Bergman, at age 84, started production on "Saraband," a 120-minute television movie based on the two main characters in "Scenes From a Marriage."  In a rare press conference, the reclusive director said he wrote the story after realizing he was "pregnant with a play."  "At first I felt sick, very sick. It was strange. Like Abraham and Sarah, who suddenly realized she was pregnant," he said, referring to biblical characters. "It was lots of fun, suddenly to feel this urge returning."  The son of a Lutheran clergyman and a housewife, Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala on July 14, 1918, and grew up with a brother and sister in a household of severe discipline that he described in painful detail in the autobiography "The Magic Lantern."  The title comes from his childhood, when his brother got a "magic lantern" - a precursor of the slide-projector - for Christmas. Ingmar was consumed with jealousy, and he managed to acquire the object of his desire by trading it for a hundred tin soldiers.  The apparatus was a spot of joy in an often-cruel young life. Bergman recounted the horror of being locked in a closet and the humiliation of being made to wear a skirt as punishment for wetting his pants.  He broke with his parents at 19 and remained aloof from them, but later in life sought to understand them.

The story of their lives was told in the television film "Sunday's Child," directed by his own son Daniel.  Young Ingmar found his love for drama production early in life. The director said he had coped with the authoritarian environment of his childhood by living in a world of fantasies. When he first saw a movie he was greatly moved.  "Sixty years have passed, nothing has changed, it's still the same fever," he wrote of his passion for film in the 1987 autobiography.  But he said the escape into another world went so far that it took him years to tell reality from fantasy, and Bergman repeatedly described his life as a constant fight against demons, also reflected in his work.  The demons sometimes drove him to great art - as in "Cries and Whispers," the deathbed drama that climaxes when the dying woman cries "I am dead, but I can't leave you." Sometimes they drove him over the top, as in "Hour of the Wolf" where a nightmare-plagued artist meets real-life demons on a lonely island.  Bergman also waged a fight against real-life tormentors: Sweden's powerful tax authorities.  In 1976, during a rehearsal at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, police came to take Bergman away for interrogation about tax evasion. The director, who had left all finances to be handled by a lawyer, was questioned for hours while his home was searched. When released, he was forbidden to leave the country.  The case caused an enormous uproar in the media and Bergman had a mental breakdown that sent him to hospital for more than a month. He was later absolved of all accusations and in the end only had to pay some extra taxes.  In his autobiography he admitted to guilt in only one aspect: "I signed papers that I didn't read, even less understood."  The experience made him go into voluntary exile in Germany, to the embarrassment of the Swedish authorities. After nine years, he returned to Stockholm, his longtime base.  It was in the Swedish capital that Bergman broke into the world of drama, starting with a menial job at the Royal Opera House after dropping out of college.  In 1942, Bergman was hired by the script department of Swedish Film Industry, the country's main production company, as an assistant script writer.  In 1944 his first original screenplay was filmed by Alf Sjoeberg, the dominant Swedish film director of the time. "Torment" won several awards including the Grand Prize of the 1946 Cannes Film Festival, and soon Bergman was directing an average of two films a year as well as working with stage production.

After the acclaimed "The Seventh Seal," he quickly came up with another success in "Wild Strawberries," in which an elderly professor's car trip to pick up an award is interspersed with dreams.  Other noted films include "Persona," about an actress and her nurse whose identities seem to merge, and "The Autumn Sonata," about a concert pianist and her two daughters, one severely handicapped and the other burdened by her child's drowning.

Michelangelo Antonioni, 94

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Alessandra Rizzo, Associated Press

(July 31, 2007) ROME — Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, whose depiction of alienation made him a symbol of art-house cinema with movies such as Blow-Up and L'Avventura, has died, officials and news reports said Tuesday. He was 94. The ANSA news agency said that Antonioni died at his home on Monday evening. “With Antonioni dies not only one of the greatest directors but also a master of modernity,” Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said in a statement. Antonioni depicted alienation in the modern world through sparse dialogue and long takes. Along with Federico Fellini, he helped turn post-war Italian film away from the Neorealism movement and toward a personal cinema of imagination. Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni is seen in 2005 file photo posing beside a poster for his film The Passenger at a special tribute screening in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Chris Pizzello/Reuters)

In 1995, Hollywood honoured his career work — about 25 films and several screenplays — with a special Oscar for lifetime achievement. By then Antonioni was a physically frail but mentally sharp 82, unable to speak but a few words because of a stroke but still translating his vision into film. The Oscar was stolen from Antonioni's home in 1996, together with several other film prizes. His slow-moving camera never became synonymous with box-office success, but some of his movies such Blow-Up, Red Desert and The Passenger reached enduring fame. His exploration of such intellectual themes as alienation and existential malaise led Halliwell's Film Guide to say that L'Avventura, Antonioni's first critical success, made him “a hero of the highbrows.” The critics loved that film, but the audience hissed when L'Avventura was presented at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. The barest of plots, which wanders through a love affair of a couple, frustrated many viewers for its lack of action and dialogue, characteristically Antonioni. In one point in the black-and-white film, the camera lingers and lingers on Monica Vitti, one of Antonioni's favourite actresses, as she plays a blond, restless jet-setter. “In the empty, silent spaces of the world, he has found metaphors that illuminate the silent places our hearts, and found in them, too, a strange and terrible beauty: austere, elegant, enigmatic, haunting,” Jack Nicholson said in presenting Antonioni with the career Oscar. Nicholson starred in the director's 1975 film The Passenger.

Antonioni was born on Sept. 29, 1912, in the affluent northern city of Ferrara. He received a university degree in economics and soon began writing critiques for cinema magazines. Antonioni's first feature film, Story of a Love Affair (1950) was a tale of two lovers unable to cope with the ties binding them to their private lives. But Antonioni grew more interested in depicting his characters' internal turmoil rather than their daily, down-to-earth troubles. The shift induced critics to call his cinema “internal Neorealism.” After the international critical acclaim of L'Avventura, which became part of a trilogy with The Night (1961) and Eclipse (1962), Antonioni's style was established. He steadily co-wrote his films and directed them with the recognizable touch of a painter. His signature was a unique look into people's frustrating inability to communicate and assert themselves in society. On Oscar award night, his wife, Enrica Fico, 41 years his junior, and “translator” for him since his 1985 stroke, said: “Michelangelo always went beyond words, to meet silence, the mystery and power of silence.” The first success at the box office came in 1966 with Blow Up, about London in the swinging '60s and a photographer who accidentally captures a murder on film. But Antonioni with his hard-to-fathom films generally found it hard to convince Italian producers to back him. By the end of the 1960s, he was looking abroad for funds. American backing helped produce Zabriskie Point (1970), shot in the bleakly carved landscape of Death Valley, Calif.

Asked by an Italian magazine in 1980, “For whom do you make films” Antonioni replied: “I do it for it an ideal spectator who is this very director. I could never do something against my tastes to meet the public. Frankly, I can't do it, even if so many directors do so. And then, what public? Italian? American? Japanese? French? British? Australian? They're all different from each other.” Using sometimes a notepad, sometimes the good communication he had with his wife and sometimes just his very expressive blue eyes, Antonioni astonished the film world in 1994 to make Beyond the Clouds, when ailing and hampered by the effects of the stroke. With an international cast — John Malkovich, Jeremy Irons, Irene Jacob, and Fanny Ardant — the movie wove together three episodes based on Antonioni's book of short stories Quel Bowling sul Tevere ( Bowling on the Tiber) to explore the usual Antonioni themes. Worried that Antonioni would be too frail to finish the movie, investors had German director Wim Wenders follow the work, ready to step in if the Italian “maestro” couldn't go on. But Wenders wound up watching in awe and letting Antonioni put his vision on film. Antonioni is survived by his wife. He had no children. ANSA said that a funeral would be held Thursday in Antonioni's hometown of Ferrara in northern Italy.


Actor Matt Damon Honoured On Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Source:  Associated Press

(July 25, 2007) LOS ANGELES (AP) - When
Matt Damon and pal Ben Affleck were struggling actors, they lived in a modest apartment near Hollywood Boulevard.  Damon said he used to look at the stars on the boulevard sidewalk and dreamed of seeing his name on one of them someday. So when it came time to receive one Wednesday, Damon reacted with disbelief.  "A few times in my life I've had these experiences that are just kind of too big to process and this looks like it's going to be one of those times," Damon said during a Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony attended by his wife, mother and a throng of screaming fans.  The star of upcoming thriller "The Bourne Ultimatum," then gave a nod to his hometown baseball team.  "I'm thankful the Red Sox are in first place," said Damon, who grew up in the Boston area.  Damon, 36, won a screenwriting Oscar with Affleck in 1998 for "Good Will Hunting." He has also starred in "The Departed," "The Good Shepherd" and the "Ocean's Eleven" franchise. He stars as the amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne in "The Bourne Identity" and its two sequels.

Disney Bans Smoking In Films

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(July 26, 2007) LOS ANGELES – The
Walt Disney Co. will eliminate smoking from all its films released under its label and will discourage smoking in films released under its Touchstone and Miramax brands, the company said Wednesday. Disney chief executive Robert Iger made the pledge in a letter to U.S. congressman Edward J. Markey, chair of the House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, who last month held a hearing in Washington, D.C., on the topic. "The Walt Disney Co. shares your concern regarding deaths due to cigarette smoking," Iger wrote. Iger also said that a public service announcement will be included on any DVD of a film that includes smoking and that the company would encourage theatre owners to show an anti-smoking message before screening films that depict characters lighting up. Universal Pictures said it instituted a policy to reduce smoking in youth-oriented films in April, but did not announce it publicly until Wednesday. The studio said it will include a health warning along with films that include smoking.  "We believe it's possible to do that while respecting filmmakers' creative choices and we are committed to partnering with them in this effort," Universal Studios chairman Ron Meyer said Wednesday. In May, the Motion Picture Association of America said it would begin considering smoking as a factor in rating films. Markey praised Disney's decision. "Now it's time for other media companies to similarly kick the habit and follow Disney's lead," Markey said.

John Singleton To Direct Halle Berry In ‘Tulia’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 26, 2007) *
John Singleton has told Blackfilm.com that he will be replacing Carl Franklin as the director of “Tulia,” a Lionsgate film that reteams Halle Berry with her “Monster’s Ball” co-star Billy Bob Thornton.    The movie is based on the true story of a massive racial profiling case in Tulia, Texas. Ten percent of the town’s black population was arrested for a drug crime, although no drugs or money were linked to the people in custody.   The undercover agent who conducted the bust was indicted for perjury, and most of the 46 arrestees were pardoned by Texas Gov. Rick Perry last year.    Berry will portray the key attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund who worked on the case. According to Blackfilm.com, she’ll be playing a character who is Indian.    Columbus Short is also being sought for the film, the Web site reports. Filming will take place in Texas.    Meanwhile, Franklin just signed on to direct “The Maintenance Man” for Screen Gems.

Nick Cannon Wants To Be A Drama King

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 27, 2007) *Most men want to get as far away from drama as possible, but for actor
Nick Cannon , he wants more of it.  The actor, rapper and comedian hopes his appearance in the upcoming film "American Son" will make Hollywood casting agents look at him in a more serious light, reports columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith .  "It's (the movie) something that's extremely dramatic," says Cannon, who plays the lead character in the film. "It's about a young Marine and what he goes through during the 100 hours before his deployment. I was excited about doing something few people have seen me do." Cannon said he went through three weeks of boot camp as research for his role, but he said the most challenging part of the script wasn't military manoeuvres. "We actually shot this full scene with me naked. I didn't expect to have to do that. That was interesting. I mean, I had nothing on at all. But I'm kind of an exhibitionist anyway, so I kind of got over it," he adds with a laugh. Cannon's co-stars include Melonie Diaz , Matt O'Leary and Chi McBride.  Cannon also hosts " Nick Cannon 's Star Camp," a reality series. The show is about a youth group known as The Giggle Club, as they learn how to be stars. It's streaming every Sunday on Nickelodeon's broadband video player, TurboNick (www.turbonick.com). 


Cavemen Series Pilot Being Re-Shot

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(July 26, 2007) BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The producers of ABC's new "
Cavemen" said Wednesday the comedy is much more than the insurance company commercials that inspired it, but isn't designed to be an ambitious allegory about race. Geico's TV spots show highly evolved but shaggy-looking cavemen chafing at misconceptions about their sophistication and intelligence. The series, debuting Oct. 2, follows another trio of Cro-Magnons facing prejudice as they try to fit in contemporary society. "If the show works, it will work because people care about these three guys under a lot of makeup and ... can relate to their problems and find them charming," producer Mike Schiff told the Television Critics Association's summer meeting. The pilot is being re-shot, ABC said. The network and producers said they decided it jumped ahead too far in the characters' lives and failed to establish them properly. Schiff and fellow producers responded to reporters' questions about the series, many of them focusing on parallels between the cavemen and black stereotypes and the pitfalls of turning an ad into a series. The producers said the characters' creative potential and their ``fish-out-of-water experience" was only touched on in the commercial spots. ABC obtained rights to the characters from Geico, which is not involved in the show.

It's unusual for characters from an advertising campaign to move into shows of their own, but not unprecedented. The CBS comedy ``Baby Bob" featured a talking baby that had been used in several ads. "We knew we'd be under a lot of scrutiny" adapting the Geico concept to a series, producer Will Speck said. "But I think it just makes our job a little harder.'' There was no intention to have the Cro-Magnons represent any minority group, said his colleague, Josh Gordon. "We're aware that the pilot (episode) seems to lean a little bit more in that direction. But in the episodes that we're coming up with now, we never saw them as, again, a stand-in for one group," Gordon said. "I think it's really a show about acclimation more than anything, and that's something that everybody deals with, doesn't matter whether you are a minority or not," producer Joe Lawson said. Lawson wrote the Geico commercials, which were directed by Gordon and Speck. The three co-developed the series starring Bill English, Nick Kroll and Sam Huntington. Two of actors featured in the ads were unavailable for the series, the producers said, but another, Jeff Phillips, will be joining it. One reporter asked why the cavemen don't ease their way by getting a shave and a haircut. "There's a name for those kind of people, and they're called 'shavers,' and the cavemen community looks down on them," Gordon said.

As On The Lot Fades Out, Directors Look To Exposure

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(July 27, 2007) BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. — Turning the search for the next great filmmaker into a reality competition hasn't worked out very well on American television this summer. Now, let's try it the Canadian way, shall we? There is no mistaking
Exposure (Sunday, CBC at 11 p.m.) for a reality-TV contest. The new series provides a national TV forum for amateur Canadian digital filmmakers with stories to tell. The CBC series is roughly the same concept as the Fox reality show On the Lot, except Exposure is all Canadian content, which means it's more creative. Exposure arrives as On the Lot begins a merciful fade to black. Fox originally held high hopes for the summer series. A collaboration between reality producer Mark Burnett and iconic film director Steven Spielberg, the series threw out a wide net for aspiring directors. The On the Lot website had been up for months, and more than 12,000 short films were posted, when the show made its debut in late May; roughly one-third of the entries came from Canada. But no one watched On the Lot, even though a few Canadians made it into the final group. The show's ratings dropped like a stone after its premiere and Fox rescheduled the show to air once weekly, instead of the planned two broadcasts. On the Lot was all flash. The show featured production values rivalling American Idol, individualized film-genre categories and a celebrity judging panel that included Carrie Fisher – and Princess Leia was decidedly unkind to several contestants. There's no meanness and little grandiosity to Exposure, which instead seems a bold attempt to merge the online and TV worlds. The program is hosted by two Internet personalities: Lara Doucette, better known as vixen Lala on the popular podcast Tiki Bar TV, and Billy Reid, a video artist from Victoria, whose short films have received more than a million hits on YouTube.

Running over the next six weeks, Exposure will air selected clips from the website and interview the filmmakers. Viewers will vote online for their favourites and each episode will feature that week's three most popular digital creations. As with On the Lot, the films are divided into categories, but in lieu of that program's deployment of hoary cinema staples – comedy, horror, action and romantic comedy – Exposure limits the groupings to live action, animation and documentary. And the films? The talent is out there. A quick scan of the amateur productions on the Exposure website reveals several works of considerable promise. There is both social comment and bizarre originality evident in North America Goes Green, a zero-budget animated short in which political leaders set eco-friendly examples. You can see the filmmaker's hands moving the cardboard cutouts of British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell pulling California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's muscle car by hand, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper operating a lawn mower by what seems to be brain power. Also engaging: No Better Place is a mini-documentary about the burgeoning self-storage industry, while Dave on Hold provides a simple portrait of a frazzled man waiting on the phone for Internet support. The big finish is worth the five-minute viewing time. Certainly there is payoff on Exposure, though, once again, it's more Canadian.

On the Lot limps to a finale next month, with the grand prize of a million-dollar contract with DreamWorks Studios and a nice parking space, right on the lot, very close to Spielberg's car. On Exposure, there's the weekly chance to win $1,500 of digital recording equipment, and the filmmaker whose film is chosen as the overall winner in the Sept. 2 finale will receive a $25,000 development deal to produce an original online series for CBC. It's not Hollywood, but it's a start. Check local listings.

'Grey's' Creator Looking Ahead To Having Fun Next Season

: By Lynn Elber, Associated Press

(July 27, 2007) LOS ANGELES (AP) - "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes said she's confident fans will put last year's unsettling season in perspective and remain loyal to the medical drama.  "It's a thing that happens in any show," Rhimes said. "People love you, then there has to be a moment ... in which people disagree with where you're going creatively. But if you're telling your stories, well, they'll stick with you, hopefully, and watch us grow and change."  The series will get back to having fun next season, she said Thursday.  Rhimes acknowledged story lines that included death and infidelity represented a "darker journey," one that provoked some critics and fans. The series was hit by the real-life drama involving Isaiah Washington, who was fired after he twice used an anti-gay slur.  Rhimes said the show rose above that crisis.  "It was a difficult season for us behind the scenes. But creatively we moved in the direction we planned to move," Rhimes told a meeting of the Television Critics Association.  Washington moved on quickly, hired to appear in five episodes of the network's new fall drama "Bionic Woman." Last week, NBC executive Ben Silverman said he had spoken to Washington about coming to the network before the actor was dumped by ABC in June.

Rhimes, who had called Washington with the network's decision, was asked if she was aware he had talked to NBC and what her reaction was to his hiring.  "No, I wasn't aware of any conversation that happened before I had a conversation with him," she said. "I guess I don't have a reaction. He's a very talented actor. I hope he does really well with the 'Bionic Woman.' I hope that show does well."  "Not as well as 'Private Practice,"' she added, a reference to the "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff debuting this fall. The series stars Kate Walsh as her "Grey's" character Dr. Addison Shepherd and co-stars include Amy Brenneman, Tim Daly and Taye Diggs.

Tom Snyder, 71: 'Most Sincere TV Host'

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

(July 31, 2007) The death of Tom Snyder robbed the U.S. TV news business of one of its more outspoken players. Snyder, who died Sunday of leukemia at the age of 71, always thought of himself first and foremost as a TV anchor. In 1974, he'd been brought from Los Angeles to New York City as the co-anchor of WNBC-TV's News- center 4 and ratings zoomed upward. Soon Snyder was one of NBC's most ubiquitous personalities, handling live news updates during prime time, popping up as weekend national news anchor, and the host of such specials as The National Disaster Survival Test. His late night series Tomorrow with Tom Snyder followed Johnny Carson from 1977 through 1982.  In July 1977, after one of the first nights Tomorrow was on the air, Snyder entertained visiting TV critics, who never knew what they were going to get out of him.

Snyder was TV's quintessential suburbanite, loud, brash, sometimes even vulgar as the time he wondered on camera if Cary Grant was gay (Grant successfully sued NBC and collected $50,000). Or the time he made an obscene gesture on air as he fiddled with his earphone during live 1983 coverage of the downing of a South Korean airliner. Snyder claimed he did not know he was on air, but NBC fined him $13,000 and suspended him for a week. "He was the most sincere TV host I ever met," The Amazing Kreskin told the Star.  "Tom had this touch; Arthur Godfrey and Jack Paar had it, too. He seemed to be talking directly to you, the home viewer. And off camera he was just as down to home. Said what he was thinking. It could get him into all kinds of trouble." Snyder was born in Milwaukee in 1936, graduated from Marquette University and began his career in the 1960s in Milwaukee radio. By the 1970s he was a star TV anchor at Philadelphia's KYW, New York City's WNBC and Los Angeles's KNBC.

In 1995, Snyder returned to TV to host The Late Late Show until 1998 when he was replaced by Craig Kilborn. "He could interview anybody," Kreskin enthused. "One night it would be Maureen O'Hara, the next a serial killer (Charles Manson). He told me the trick was always to concentrate on what the subject was saying and then go from there. It was the kind of TV where you wondered what would come next." In 2005, Snyder announced on his website he had chronic lymphocy- tic leukemia but wrote, "Now my doctors say it's treatable."  "He fought it," Kreskin says. "He just kept plugging away. Really a beautiful guy on and off camera. He had this spark about him. Even when he was sick."


Search On For New CBC President

Excerpt from www.thestar.com – Canadian Press

(July 26, 2007) OTTAWA – The federal government has started looking for a new president for the
Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to replace Robert Rabinovitch, whose second term ends in November. The headhunting firm of Egon Zehnder International has been hired to seek out potential candidates and make recommendations. The final decision will be made by the Prime Minister's Office. An advertisement for the job appeared Wednesday in select newspapers and listed bilingualism as a criteria as well as broadcasting savvy. The future president will work at the Crown corporation's head office in Ottawa and will be responsible for the English- and French-language networks of the CBC, Radio Canada International and the aboriginal language stations in the North. The candidate should be an innovator with good judgment and strong ethics, the ad said. Ian Morrison, spokesman for the watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, viewed the effort positively. He said by undertaking a formal process, it appears the Conservative government is trying to avoid any suggestions it is playing favourites. Morrison said that this is the first time such a process has been used as far as he can remember. He did say he hopes the new president will have a wide knowledge of the country and have a strong background in production, scheduling and marketing. The CBC has a budget of about $1.5 billion, of which $950 million comes from the federal government. Marc Normandin, a spokesman for Egon Zehnder, said the fact a headhunting firm has been engaged does not mean internal candidates have been ruled out. He said the process just means the pool of candidates will be deeper. Rabinovitch has been president of the CBC since 1999. His tenure has been marked by the development of Internet services and a number of labour conflicts, including a seven-week lockout in 2005.

Harold Perrineau Returns To 'Lost'

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 27, 2007) *Fans of ABC's "Lost" last saw Michael and his son sailing away from the island toward home having betrayed the rest of his fellow castaways.  It was announced Wednesday morning by ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson that Michael, played by Harold Perrineau, will find his way back to the people he deceived when the show returns for its fourth season.  McPherson reluctantly made the announcement Wednesday morning at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Beverly Hills . He had planned to reveal the news this morning at Comic-Con International in San Diego , but TCA critics pressed him to spill the beans early.      McPherson first played coy, stating: "I've cast Don Imus on `Lost.'" Finally, after continued grilling by reporters, he announced that Perrineau will be back on the series when it returns in January.  He would not reveal if Michael 's son Walt , played by Malcolm David Kelley , will also be back on a regular basis. Kelley appeared in an episode last season as part of another character's vision.    Based on the final scenes of the season three finale, it appears as if "Lost" will begin its next season sometime in the future - following several key characters who have somehow gotten off the island - and work its way backwards for the next three seasons. Earlier this year, ABC announced that "Lost" was renewed through the 2009-10 television season.

Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd Join ‘The View’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 30, 2007) *“The View” will be a lot more well rounded next season with the expected hiring of
Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd as permanent co-hosts of the ABC morning show.   Both actresses have been filling in regularly on the series, which nears the end of a turbulent season that began with the firing of Star Jones Reynolds in June of 2006 and died down with the sudden departure of Meredith Viera’s replacement, Rosie O’Donnell, last May. Final negotiations with the duo are underway, and an announcement of their hiring is expected next week, reports the Los Angeles Times. In June, executive producer Bill Geddie said he was looking to add at least one African American voice to the show, which features co-hosts Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck (on the verge of maternity leave) and executive producer Barbara Walters.  "We have, really, two positions open, I think people forget," Geddie told the Times in June. "We got a lot of hiring to do here. So the chances of us hiring two white women ... not very likely.” On her blog this spring, O’Donnell supported the hiring of Goldberg as her replacement, telling readers that her fellow comic “would rock.” "She is exactly what the show needs,” added Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman of Goldberg, who most recently hosted a syndicated morning radio show called “Wake Up With Whoopi.”  “She is a beloved brand name; she is outspoken; she has done this before, she is a person of color; she is as far left as Rosie; she lives in New York; and she can kick Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s ass," Bragman said.


Damon To Host Celebrity Charity Gala

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner

(July 26, 2007) Hollywood star
Matt Damon will be in Toronto on Sept.9 for a star-studded awards ceremony honouring Richard Gere; model Petra Nemcova; Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York; and Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine, it will be announced today. The celebrities will be among those honoured this year by One X One, the non-profit foundation that supports children in Canada and abroad. The honours, called the Difference Awards, will be handed out at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, at an event hosted by Damon. Musical stars Shakira and Wyclef Jean are booked to attend and perform, as are Montreal singing sensation Nikki Yanofsky, the African Children's Choir and a number of other high-profile celebrities. Grammy Award winner Jean, the mainstay of the band the Fugees, will also be honoured for his commitment to providing aid in his native country through the Yele Haiti movement. Established less than three years ago by Diesel Canada president Joelle Adler, the charity has raised more than $5-million for various projects and forged partnerships with several major corporations and foundations.

Within a few months, Adler said in an interview yesterday,
One X One intends to launch a pilot program to ensure that first-nations children will have a full breakfast every day. In a village in Rwanda, the charity is helping 12,000 children attend school, and has established a basket-weaving co-op. "If you're trying to take people out of poverty," says Adler, "you have to give them tools, not handouts." Adler's organization recently struck an agreement with Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children that will bring doctors from Haiti and Rwanda here for training, and will send Toronto doctors to Rwanda to perform surgery on children whose heart valves have been damaged by water-borne illness. Additional honourees include ultra-endurance athletes Charlie Engle, Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin, who became the first modern runners to cross the Sahara Dessert, raising awareness for H2O Africa, a clean-water initiative founded by Damon and his partners at LivePlanet. Their documentary film of the run - the equivalent of completing 170 marathons in 11 days - will be screened during the Toronto International Film Festival. Adler said she was inspired to establish the foundation on Sept. 11, 2001, when her late husband and business partner Lou Adler took ill. "I was in the hospital with him and watching TV and the buildings were coming down and I thought, I promised myself, that if I ever got out of this mess, I would do something. And so far, this organization has been blessed."

Fans Pack Comic Convention

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Malene Arpe, Pop Culture Writer

(July 27, 2007) SAN DIEGO, Calif.–There will be no love for casual pop culture fans who were planning on being Saturday walk-ins at the
Comic-con. For the first time ever, Saturday has sold out in advance.  It's entirely possible every one of the more than 120,000 hardcore attendees was present at the Wednesday night sneak preview. Being squeezed between a frayed Ghostbuster and a ninja of indeterminate origin is not all it's cracked up to be. And all because I wanted to get a better look at the horn-rimmed glasses worn by Horn-rimmed Glasses guy on Heroes. And speaking of glasses: I now have my very own pair of Beowulf 3D glasses. Logo and ugly and everything. Screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary hosted a first-look press screening of Robert Zemeckis's interpretation of the old epic late Wednesday night. The movie, which opens in November, was filmed in something called "mocapography" using a multitude of digital cameras doing motion capture.

Stars Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone and Crispin Glover moved around on a small stage, wearing dotted body suits, and Gaiman says it was like watching "the cast of Tron doing Shakespeare in the round." The result is a mix of "wow!" "why?" and "where is the washroom because I feel slightly nauseous?"  This, the 38th running of the Comic-con, is all (well, a lot) about Star Wars. Thirtieth anniversary and all. I stood in line for half an hour to purchase an official convention Star Wars T-shirt.  The shirt is, frankly, pretty ugly, but that's what happens to your head down here. Must. Have. That. Shiny. Item. More impressive is the all-Lego Wookie standing guard in the Star Wars area.  Manning one of the Star Wars-related booths is Shane Turgeon from Edmonton. He has written, photographed and self-published a beautiful coffee table book called The Force in the Flesh, a gallery of fans who collect Star Wars tattoos and the artists who decorate them. While in San Diego, Turgeon is staying with a friend whose home has no electricity. Dedication to the cause. Check out tattoosandtoys.com.

There's always a ton of announcements and unveilings here. Yesterday, the U.S. Postal Service presented the Marvel superhero stamps. Marvel was probably jealous of D.C. Comics, who got their very own, very cool stamps last year.  And Dark Horse Comics today is going to announce they're entering a partnership with MySpace to provide exclusive monthly content for members of the social networking site. Jeremy Atkins of Dark Horse says the online comic book will be anthology-style with work by well-known contributors like Joss Whedon (who will introduce a brand new character) and the folks behind Samurai: Heaven and Earth as well as lesser-knowns.  Exciting things we learned at the Paramount panel yesterday: 1) Sylar from Heroes is Spock. Yes, director J.J. Abrams had actor Zachary Quinto come out onstage. Then he had Leonard Nimoy join them. Spooky. Filming starts in November. 2) Judging from what we saw, the awesomeness of Iron Man cannot be underestimated. And director Jon Favreau has lost a ton of weight. 3) Andy Samberg does a great Footloose/Flashdance number in his new movie, Hot Rod. The audience didn't much care. They just want to know more about "Dick in a Box." 4) Neil Gaiman would still rather see "no Sandman movie than a bad Sandman movie." 5) Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg, via satellite with Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf and Ray Winstone, seem genuinely excited about old Indy. But they're still not telling us the name of the movie. 6) Also not revealing the name: Abrams when presenting the "Cloverfield" trailer. It is, he said, about a new, original monster. 7) The whole "telling the oldest story in the English language, using the newest technology" thing vis-a-vis Beowulf is getting old after only two days.

The Roller Derby Makes A Proud Return

Excerpt from www.thestar.com – Raju Mudhar, Entertainment Reporter

(July 26, 2007) Depending on how hardcore you are about spinning your
wheels, roller disco is one of those things that is known by many different names. Aficionados call it rexing, jam skating or even simply boogie.  For Larry Borins, it is synonymous with fun. The 29-year-old family therapist has recently returned from studying in New York city, where every weekend in Central Park, a large group of people would gather to roller skate/blade/wheel around to a deejay's beat in the summer sun.  "These events were just huge. People would line the sides just to watch. There would be like 150 people participating and dancing. Even people without roller skates were just grooving. And then there were these people who were just passing through the park, would stop and get into the fun, sit and watch and dance. It was this really amazing community with their families and kids. It wasn't even a party, but more of a community event," he says.  "When I was a kid my aunt used to take me roller skating so I was just captivated by this event, and wanted to bring that energy to Toronto and try to do something interesting here." This Sunday at Harry Gairey outdoor rink in Alexandra Park by Dundas and Bathurst Sts., Borins and his co-organizers are holding their inaugural event. The cost is a mere $5.

"It's going to cover the sound system and permits. People are encouraged to roller skate, rollerblade, skateboard, even bicycle, whatever they can roll on," he says.  "If it's successful, we're going to do it at least a couple of times a summer. Maybe once a month, weather permitting, of course."  Borins and two of his friends are going to be deejaying and says you can expect some disco, funk, hip-hop breaks, and a little bit of house. He obviously hopes to create the same fun, family vibe that exists in the original event.  "It's a legitimate event. We've got a permit from the city. It's not going to be an underground free-for-all in an intersection of a downtown street; there are going to be controls. There's going to be some people doing a safety check, kind of making sure people aren't using alcohol or drugs and just having good fun."

Comedy Fest A Laugh

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar, Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporters

(July 30, 2007) Around 9 p.m. on Saturday night the crack of an explosion reverberated through the downtown core. Many of the people emptying out of the Craig Ferguson
Just for Laughs gala at Massey Hall reflexively flinched.  The Late Late Show host and other comics such as Russell Peters and Derek Edwards had just been making jokes about how wonderful and peaceful Canada is, but there were a few uneasy punch lines about recent shootings in Toronto.  "Don't worry, it was a planned explosion," reassured a guard at Yonge-Dundas Square, where comics and buskers performed on Friday and Saturday night. "All part of the act." Let it be said here: the inaugural Just for Laughs Toronto festival definitely started off with a bang.  Actually, that particular one was thanks to Germany's Bangditos.

The well-known street-performing crew clowns around on a makeshift fire truck that sends out flares, loud bangs and belches fire as the amusingly inept performers flail and flop around.  The crowd loved it, as thousands of people lined Yonge St. to get a better view.  It was a different scene on Friday night, as chants of "Russell, Russell" rang out in anticipation of Russell Peters, who drew an appreciative crowd of thousands in the early part of the evening's open-air festivities. The Brampton native – who recently sold out two shows at the Air Canada Centre and has moved to Los Angeles to further his career – had the audience in his hands from the onset, in spite of some edgy humour. "Look at this crowd. There's a sign immigration isn't working," Peters began, generating a wave of laughter. "This is the first time Yonge St.'s been blocked off for a long time without a shooting," he added.

Peters did an opening and closing set that poked cheeky and off-colour fun at taboo subjects such as race and sex, and ad-libbed freely with the audience, even nearby mounted police officers. "There's cops on horseback. That's intimidating: `You're under arrest, hop on,'" Peters said. "He (Peters) is very up front. He says everything that we are too scared to say," said Fazeel Haleem, 18, who came from Markham with friends Neil Chauhan, 17, and Vino Balakrishnan, 18, to see the show. Kristen McGregor, 23, of Toronto has seen Peters live many times. "He is freaking hilarious. He's not afraid. There's too much political correctness in the world these days and comedians sort of break that boundary. But he doesn't break the boundary, he just shoves right through it. He makes fun of everybody," McGregor said. Just for Laughs organizers smartly filled the three-night fest with Toronto favourites such as Peters and Howie Mandel, who hosted the kick-off gala. The Daily Show's Lewis Black and Ferguson also killed during their sets.  In a very busy weekend of festivals, this first satellite version of the Montreal festival was well attended, although organizers didn't expect to make a profit.

"It went great. We were very, very confident what we were doing in the theatres. We had three really strong galas and an ethnic show that we felt would connect in the city. All that went very well, not only sales-wise, but every single gala and the two ethnic shows got a standing ovation," said Bruce Hills, the Just for Laughs CEO.  He added that while ticket sales went better than expected, the festival did not secure enough sponsorship to make it profitable, mostly due to how quickly it was put together.  Hills said that they were going to start looking for support for next year's event almost immediately but wouldn't commit to having a next year ... yet.  "I would be very surprised if we don't secure the necessary sponsorship but, until we do, we cannot commit to anything unless we have that in place. We're going to be actively pursuing it now ... and that leads me to believe that it's going to happen," said Hills.  He also joked that there were plenty of sponsors in the seats who got a taste of what Just for Laughs is all about.  But for the comedy fans, the festival was definitely a success.  Jeremy and Kristy Carr of Buffalo, N.Y., who celebrated their honeymoon last year in Toronto, came back for their first anniversary. "It's just a good time. There's enough to do, you never run out. Every time we come here, we find something else," said Carr, 27. "I really liked it," said Craig Weir from Brantford. "We've been to Montreal so it was a lot easier to do this. And I hope they bring the rest of the stuff from Montreal.  "The difference is all the little clubs are busy with comics, it's just more of an all-city festival."


Magic Johnson Receives Civil Rights Award

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 26, 2007)  *
Magic Johnson is among the list of people named Tuesday to receive the National Civil Rights Museum's annual Freedom Awards.  The museum, located at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, will hand out the awards Oct. 23. The honourees are John Hope Franklin and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.     Johnson, according to the museum, is being honoured for his work since leaving the NBA on promoting economic development, improved health care and educational opportunities in low-income urban neighbourhoods and other "underserved communities."  Franklin, 92, a chronicler of civil rights history, was part of a legal team from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that helped develop the Brown v. Board of Education case. The case led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing racial segregation in public schools.    Johnson-Sirleaf, 67, was inaugurated in January as president of Liberia. Known as the "iron lady," she is her country's first elected female president.


A.J. Johnson Gets In The Zone

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

(July 30, 2007) *
A.J. Johnson may be most known as a film and television actress who starred in “House Party” and “Baby Boy,” but the ambitious actress expanded her horizons and has followed a path to wellness. The beauty now wears the hat of wellness coach.  Living her own healthy lifestyle, she’s launched her AJ Zone company and website to inspire, motivate, and guide others. In doing so, she’s becoming one of the most popular lifestyle coaches around.  The latest to seek her help is pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to help promote their recently released diet pill Alli. “I feel so excited and so privileged and blessed. My life is changing and I’m hoping to change lives,” Johnson said of her health advocacy and her work with GlaxoSmithKline. Alli is just one option Johnson is promoting to help people, African American people in particular, lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Alli is the first FDA-approved, over-the-counter weight loss medication, which hit the market earlier this year. Johnson has been called as a spokesperson for the drug and has been on the advisory board for the past year. “There [are] a lot of products on the market. The fact that those products are not FDA approved simply means that nobody is saying that it is safe; nobody is saying that there are tests proving that they work,” Johnson explained. An FDA approval for a drug means that there has been a significant amount of research – at least five years – and tests, and focus groups to ensure the safety and success of the product.

“GlaxoSmithKline said, ‘We’ve got a product that’s been working. It’s a double dose of what’s over the counter; it’s been available only by prescription. What we decided to do to help the obesity epidemic is to lessen the dose by half, make it available over the counter, make it more affordable and get the same results. I said, ‘I’m in!’ Because if there’s anything we can do to help educate people – my people – and show them that there’s a jump start and get a hold of a healthier lifestyle ... let’s prevent as opposed to trying to survive it,” she said. The active ingredient in Alli is a fat blocker drug called Orlistat. And while consumers are lining up for Alli, some have complained of side effects including gas with oily discharge, increased number of bowel movements, oily spotting, oily or fatty stools, urgent need to have a bowel movement and inability to control bowel movements. In short, it may work, but ... ““What it does, is it blocks 25 percent of the fat you take in, up to 15 grams being taken in three times a day,” Johnson said. “If you use this product correctly, there are no side effects. “Don’t forget I said, 15 grams of fat. That’s a snack bag of M&Ms, a Hershey bar, a single serving snack bag of cookies or potato chips. Those size servings are 15 grams of fat. So what’s happening is that people are eating more than what the program has asked [them] to do. This program is for the person that who is seriously committed to changing their lifestyle and their eating habits. If you’re getting embarrassed by a side effect, it’s because you are not committed to the program; you haven’t fully committed to what the directions say. You’ve got to be limited to 15 grams of fat – not more.”  According to Johnson, to maximize the weight loss effect and minimize side effects, Alli, unlike any other drug, will need to be used with other supports. And in addition to using a low fat diet, the patients need to do physical exercise.

“That’s all it does – it blocks fat,” she continued. “They said, ‘Let’s create a pill and a program to teach people – in addition to exercise and a low-calorie diet.’ We’re going to change your lifestyle while we teach you how to eat healthier. I’m doing this to tell people not only does it work, but what I’ve been doing for years, this pill makes it easier.” With this new drug campaign and her AJ Zone, fans might wonder if she’s given up acting, but Johnson told EUR’s Lee Bailey that she is both a wellness advocate and an actress. “I don’t say that I’m either or,” she said. “Living healthy is something that you do all the time no matter what is happening in your life. I am waiting for a particular script content that is attractive as anything else I’ve done. That clearly hasn’t happened in a very long time. The spirit has led me to this road with more focus than looking at scripts. I don’t necessarily say that I’m not acting; it’s just that I haven’t in a few years, more so because the script content for African American women is just not interesting to me. So thank God, I’ve got something that I am passionate about and that I do love. I’ve always been filled with passion as an actress. Right now trying to help African Americans, America, realize that we are in a major obesity crisis, and we’re killing ourselves.” For more on A.J. Johnson, check out her website at www.TheAJZone.com.