20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
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LE NEWSLETTER

August 30, 2007


Ahhh, the last long weekend of the summer.  Enjoy and celebrate safely!  Fall is just around the corner - turtlenecks, chilly evenings, school buses ...

This week, check out the pictures from the Timbaland Afterparty, Denosh CD release and Mike Scott, Justin Timberlake's and Prince's guitarist while he visits Cirque du Soleil.  All in my PHOTO GALLERY.  

This week also features my interview with
Denosh, who was in town touring with Justin Timberlake

 

::HOT EVENTS::


HARLEM EVENTS**
Week of August 23-29, 2007


For information on the vibe of Harlem Restaurant and live music venue: Go to www.harlemrestaurant.com.

Date

Name of Event

 

August 29

Vertigo

DJ David James and special guest Gene King from Vibes and Vinyl (deep house deep tech garage)

Doors: 9pm

August 30

Harlem Night
 

DJ Carl Allen

Doors: 9pm

August 31

UrbanArtHouse

 

The HeadNod Collective presents UrbanArtHouse: Images, beats and culture!! Wall art by Anna Keenan. UrbanArtHouse gives you the best in soul, funk, disco, r&B, old skool, hip hop, and reggae.

Show: 10pm

$10

September 1

Living in the City

Carl Cassell hosts Living in the City. Come down and enjoy a night of classic house and old skool. Nobody does it better than DJ Carl Allen.

Doors: 9pm after 11pm

$5

**HARLEM
67 Richmond St. (at Church)
Tel: 416-368-1920

 

::EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW::

Denosh Interview - Back 2 Front

Denosh – people know the name. 

Wasn’t she the former dance captain of the Raptors?  Yes

Wasn’t she one of the dancers on Aaliyah’s last video?  Yes

Isn’t she singing backgrounds for Justin Timberlake?  Yes

Toronto’s Denosh has been around the industry for many years and has now released her debut CD - Back 2 Front which will be available digitally on Itunes.com, Rhapsody.com and other digital download sites. Her first single, “Have Fun” was chosen for the Universal Music Canada Honey Jam Compilation CD “Honey Jams’, which also features songs from Nelly Furtado, India Arie, Pussy Cat Dolls and many other high profile female artists.  Her video for the song is currently in rotation on Much Music.  Denosh is currently singing background with Justin Timberlake on his world tour, ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’.

Denosh has worked on music videos, live stage shows, recording projects and world tours with performers such as; Debbie Allen, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Missy Elliot, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys and many more. Most recently she was one of the finalists on season three of MTV’s and Diddy’s ‘Making the Band’ and made her Broadway debut in the Tony award-winning musical ‘Hairspray.’  No rookie here!

Denosh talked to me on Friday, August 24th, a couple of days after her Toronto CD release, from the Sutton Place Hotel about the current Justin tour, her transition  from Canada to the U.S., the transition from being a dancer to being a vocalist, and much more!  

Welcome home!  How is it to come home after all these years and to be part of such a successful tour with Justin Timberlake?

It’s a blessing and an honour because a lot of people don’t get that opportunity.  They don’t get the opportunity to leave and then come back.  It’s a testament to what I’ve been doing and it shows people that I’ve been out there hustling.  It’s really gratifying.  I know that it’s also encouraging to other people to be able to see me step out and to be able to see me in such a big project.  A lot of my friends and family have been able to come and see the show.  It feels really good and it feels like all the hard work has paid off.

How did getting the gig come about?

A friend of mine had got the call about the tour prior to me and she turned it down because she had gotten married and didn’t want to jump right on to the road.  They asked her if she knew anyone that might be good for it because they didn’t want to do auditions. She told them that ‘I have the perfect person’.  I was in the middle of doing a Broadway play at the time (Hairspray) and I wasn’t 100% happy with what I was doing.  I loved the job but where I was in my life, I wanted to be somewhere else. 

A couple of months prior to that, I was watching Justin on The Jay Leno Show or something and I thought if I have to work for any other artist again, that’s who I want to work for.  I liked him from N’Sync and I liked what he was doing.  I’m not mad at him.  And then I see my friend singing backgrounds for him so I called her and said that if anyone ever gets sick, you better call me!  Then a couple of months later, I get the call!

Has this tour influenced the sound of your tracks on your CD?

Most of my CD was recorded before I started touring.  I did do two new tracks – one was the intro and the second song “Get Used to It”.  I knew that I would be obligated for such a long time on the tour and I didn’t know when I would be able to sit down in the studio and do a full studio album.  In the meantime, I wanted to get some product out there and try to establish a fan base and expand on the fan base that I already have.  I just wanted to do a taste of what I’ve been up to and what’s to come.  So, I’ve added those two tracks.

And the energy of Justin’s record – the dance energy – inspired me and that’s why one of the songs is an up-tempo one, heavy with synths just to freshen it up.

Who are your producers and how did they come to work on this project?

There are two producers on the album.  One is Charles “Pheenom” Wilson III and the other producer is Bernard Edwards, Jr.  and he goes by “Focus”. Focus I have known for some years now and I met him when I was dancing background for Brandy.  He was her musical director.  I knew that he was a musician but not a producer.  At the time, I was interested in transitioning to background singing from dancing.  I felt that people would take me more seriously as an artist.  So, he did a demo for me and we worked together on various projects.  Pheenom I met because he’s Justin Timberlake’s keyboard player.  I met him on the Justified tour in 2003.  I didn’t know he was a producer either but throughout the years he would do some music and I would write and we’ve collaborated on a few projects.  He’s been the main producer that I’ve been working with but when I decided to put all the songs together, I felt that these two producers were the ones closest to each other and closest to me in terms of sound and they compliment each other.  I wanted there to be some sort of theme and continuity.

You’re in a unique position that many Canadian artists wish they were in – a Canadian making their mark in the American music industry.  What challenges does this offer? 

Yes, there are definitely challenges.  One was just proving myself to my American peers.  They are leery of anyone that’s not American.  In some situations, they didn’t know and they would say, “You’re from Canada?  You sing like us and dance like us.”  And I would say that it’s really not that deep.  Once I got my foot in the door, it wasn’t so hard.  One of the challenges was getting the work Visas.  But I think that the biggest challenge is just being the newcomer. 

When I first moved, people said ‘oh you deserted us’.  I couldn’t do anything about it.  I did a lot in Toronto before I left and at that time, I had exhausted all of my options as far as participating in the arts and making a legitimate career out of it.  There are things that I needed to do and needed to accomplish that were not available to me here.  But I never ever left Canada behind.  I always have been back and forth and maintained relationships here.  My family is still here.  I got a lot of flack for pursing a career in the States as a performer.  But the industry grew and a lot of Americans were coming to Canada to shoot movies and videos.

Now I feel like people are looking for their way in.  I’ve always been one to help, suggest and advise but it’s interesting that some of the people who weren’t so supportive then are now looking for a way in.  They see now that I have longevity and see the growth.  It’s bittersweet because it’s nice to be appreciated and to be able to come back but at the same time, there are those people that do hate on me because they never had the outlet or they never took the chance.  I’ve always encouraged my friends and said that it’s there for you, you just have to want it and go after it. 

What has been one of the highlights in your musical career so far?  

One of the highlights of my musical career was when I made the transition professionally from background dancer to background singer. I was working for one of my mentors,
Faith Evans, as a dancer, and one day on the tour bus she heard me singing to myself.  She asked me for a demo of my music, and after she heard it, she told me she was going to make sure I was on the mic singing with her as soon as possible. A month later, a spot opened up on her team of vocalists, and she hired me to sing for her. I never looked back!

What pieces of advice would you give to an artist that wants to enter the business?

First, I would say to make sure that being in this business is what you want to do. Even if you don’t know how long you want to do it, make sure at that moment, it’s all that you want. Second, I would encourage them to educate and prepare themselves as much as possible on the business side of things as well as their craft. And last, but not least, I would encourage them to never give up, no matter how far away their achievements may seem. Sometimes it just a test to see how badly you want something, and sometimes the closer you get to realizing your dreams, the harder things become…

What would you say is the unique contribution of Canadian urban music globally? Is there something you hear outside of Canada about our music?

Well I would definitely say there is a global presence of Canadian music. The good thing about is that we’re so diverse in nature, and people can’t really say “that sounds Canadian”. Uniquely, I feel like as Canadians, we just do what is natural to us, we don’t try to fit into any mold musically. We’ve got rock, alternative, Pop, R&B, soul, and everything in between. The funniest thing is that people expect Canadians to be less talented or something, and are so surprised that some of their favourite artists or top selling artists are Canadian.

Who are some of your favourite Canadian artists?

Sarah McLaughlan, Nickleback, Celine Dion, kos, Tamia, Avril Lavigne, Divine Brown.

Who are some of your influences – not just musically but anyone’s who’s made their mark for you?

My mother, my sister, Bob Marley, Debbie Allen, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston.

What direction would you like to see your career head?

In the near future, I’d like to tour, maybe open up for some artists, headline my own tour.  I’m also a songwriter, so I plan to write and produce for other artists and projects real soon….there is so much to be done in this business, and I want a piece of it all!

If you could work with any artist, living or past, who would it be?

I would love to work with Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and I’d love to work with Timbaland.  I think that as far as today’s producers, his longevity, his creativity, the way that he’s flipped it – he’s ridiculous. 

What do you want people to remember you by?

I want them to feel like I gave them something.  I’d want to feel that if they heard me sing, they got something from the pain in my voice, or the tone of my voice – that they got want they wanted.  Whether they wanted to be cheered up or whether they wanted to connect because they liked the song.  I want them to feel fulfilled.  Denosh is that type of person that no matter what song she is singing, that you always get something from her.  Also that they see the struggle or the hard work and they see that it’s not just fluff and that they appreciate the story.  I want to be able to encourage people from my walk and what I’ve done.  I want them to feel inspired to be able to do whatever it is they want to do. 

So, what’s in your iPod player right now?

Amy Winehouse, Al Green, Beyonce, D’Angelo, Fred Hammond, Jay Moss, Kim Burrell, will.i.am, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland’s new CD, Sarah Vaughan, Janet Jackson, Ludacris, Pat Matheny, Linkin’ Park, NeYo, – so a little bit of everything.  I feel that you have to have a little bit of everything because you never know how you’re going to feel.  Some music is workout music, some is to get my mind right, getting dressed music, unwinding music.  I have my album in there too. 

Do you have any message for your Canadian fan base?

This might sound corny but if you want something, you have to believe in yourself.  You have to want it and have to believe that you deserve it and that you can have it.  When I was young, I didn’t know how anything was going to happen for me.  Always follow your heart and your dreams because at the end of the day, you want to be happy and to able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I did the best I could and I gave it all I had.”  I know it sounds corny but it’s really been all that I’ve ever lived by.  I’m still realizing more and more dreams every day.  A lot of dreams I’ve had, found themselves to me in a different way – ways that I thought that I would get this dream, came to me in a different way and in a different time.  It’s very easy to lose faith and lose focus but right when you feel like you’re going to give up, push that extra mile. 

Look out for
Denosh - keep your eyes and ears open – she definitely will be filling the airwaves and stages soon – a determined and talented force that will not be quieted anytime soon. 

Many thanks to Denosh and taking the time for our interview and to
Elaine Quan, her publicist, for setting it up.  For photos from Denosh's performance in Toronto in January as well as her recent CD release, go to my PHOTO GALLERY.

For more information and updates on Denosh, check out www.myspace.com/denoshkb

 

::RECAP::

Kooza – Cirque Du Soleil’s Latest Offering

I think that every person breathing on this planet should experience the magic of Kooza.  Whatever it takes to go and see this show while it’s in town, DO IT!  The incredible athletic performances, symphony of sounds and divine humour will move you.  It left me speechless – there’s no adjective to describe it anyway.  Dazzling, stupendous, fascinating, astonishing - none seem to quite fully describe the show.  An incredible, first-class, no-stone-unturned show.  Take your kids, bring a date, go solo!  It just doesn’t matter – just see it.  You will be afraid to blink in fear of missing one spectacular, gravity-defying, breath-taking performance!   And Toronto’s own, Clarence Ford, is the choreographer – check out some backstage pics in my PHOTO GALLERY.

[Excerpt from Cirque’s website]  KOOZA tells the story of The Innocent, a melancholy loner in search of his place in the world.  KOOZA combines two circus traditions – acrobatic performance and the art of clowning.  Between strength and fragility, laughter and smiles, turmoil and harmony, KOOZA explores themes of fear, identity, recognition and power. The show is set in an electrifying and exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills, audacity and total involvement.

Here are all the details that you’ll need to know about the show while it is in Toronto. 

AUGUST 9 – OCTOBER 7, 2007
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL - KOOZA
Under the Grand Chapiteau, at the Port Lands
51 Commissioners Street
Buy tickets HERE

::TOP STORIES::

Felicien Captures Silver In Hurdles

Excerpt from www.thestar.com – Randy Starkman, Sports Reporter

(August 29, 2007) Pickering hurdler
Perdita Felicien demonstrated she's back in top form heading towards next summer's Beijing Olympics, winning a silver medal this morning at the world championships in Osaka, Japan.  It was a superb birthday present for the 2003 world champion, who turns 27 today.  Felicien, who has struggled since a devastating crash into the first hurdle at the 2004 Athens Games, had claimed heading into the worlds that she was in great shape mentally and physically – and the results bear her out.  In an incredibly close women's 100-metre final – where the top four were separated by 5/100ths of a second – Felicien finished second to reigning world champion Michelle Perry of the U.S. in a time of 12.49 seconds, her fastest time since 2004. Perry won the gold medal in 12.46 seconds.  

Felicien edged Delloreen Ennis-London for the silver by a scant 1/100th of a second, a measure of revenge for the Jamaican's victory over the Canadian at the recent Pan Am Games in a photo finish. Angela Whyte of Edmonton was eighth in 12.66.  Felicien stressed before the worlds how important it was to do well heading into Beijing.  "I know it's going to make things a lot easier as far as next summer," she said. "Confidence, morale is going to be so much more going into an Olympic year to come out of here and perform well."  In other Canadian results Wednesday, Tyler Christopher of Chilliwack, B.C., qualified for the men’s 400-metre final by finishing third in the semis with a time of 44.47. American LaShawn Merritt won in 44.31.  Hilary Stellingwerff of Guelph, Ont., advanced to the semi-finals of the women's 1,500 metres after finishing fourth in her heat in four minutes 9.60 seconds while Carmen Douma-Hussar of Cambridge, Ont., failed to qualify.  Bryan Barnett of Edmonton also failed to advance to the 200-metre final after finishing eighth in his semi-final.  with files from Canadian Press

Doug 'Doc' Riley, 62: Canadian Keyboardist

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(August 28, 2007) Celebrated arranger and keyboardist
Doug Riley, considered to be a pillar of the Canadian music industry, has died of a sudden heart attack.  He was 62. Riley, known as “Doctor Music,” died Monday while sitting on a plane that was preparing to leave Calgary, his wife Jan said Tuesday from their home in Little Pond, P.E.I. The legendary performer was returning to the Island after headlining a jazz and blues festival. “It was a massive heart attack and he died instantly,” said Jan Riley, adding that she last heard from her husband on Sunday. “He sounded totally fine the last time I talked to him.” Riley’s best friend, singer David Clayton-Thomas, said the death was a sudden blow to everyone who knew the musician, an accomplished artist whose work included collaborations with Ray Charles, Placido Domingo, Ringo Starr, Gordon Lightfoot, Anne Murray, Sylvia Tyson, Dan Hill and Bob Seger.

“Canada just lost a musical giant,” Clayton-Thomas said by phone from Montreal, his voice shaking with emotion. “And as a person, anybody who knew Doc knows that he had a heart that was just so big. It’s hard to imagine him gone. I can’t imagine my life without him.” Riley’s diverse career began in his teens when he played R&B with the Silhouettes in Toronto, but went on to include keyboard and production work for a who’s who in the Canadian music industry and accomplished forays into musical genres including jazz, classical, film scores and ballet. He wrote more than 2,000 jingles, arranged music for several television programs in the late ’60s and ’70s and appeared as an arranger and second keyboard player on Ray Charles’ 1968 LP Doing His Thing. He found more success with his soulful music ensemble, Doctor Music, and made a name as an accomplished jazz musician. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 2004. Canadian keyboardist Paul Shaffer said Riley was a big influence on his playing, noting he admired him for getting a doctorate in music at the University of Toronto in the ’60s. They met in 1968 during auditions for the musical Hair, when both accompanied would-be performers on piano.

“He really was an inspiration for those of us thinking about going into music ourselves,” Shaffer said from New York, after taping an episode of the Late Show with David Letterman, where he serves as music director. “I think that the world of funk and R&B is a poorer place now that we’ve lost Doug Riley.” When Shaffer was honoured with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto last year, he asked Riley to be part of an “organ summit” that performed at the festivities. Clayton-Thomas, himself a celebrated jazz musician and former lead singer for Blood, Sweat and Tears, noted that jazz innovator Herbie Hancock was a fan, too. He recalled an encounter earlier this year when Hancock appeared in Toronto for a Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame gala. “First thing he asked was: `You still play with Doug Riley? He’s amazing.’ ” said Clayton-Thomas. He noted that Riley was gifted in numerous genres. “He’s a brilliant technician who could play everything from Tchaikovsky to Thelonious Monk and then could get down and rock ’n’ roll and play the blues, too. He’s irreplaceable. There’s only one Doc Riley.” A heavy-set man who suffered from diabetes, Riley had long been in frail health, noted Clayton-Thomas, adding that Riley suffered polio as a child. Nevertheless, his sudden passing was unexpected, said Clayton-Thomas, who broke down with emotion several times while recounting his memories. “It’s hard to say what he meant to me, my God, he was my closest musical collaborator and my dearest friend and I loved him beyond what I could tell you,” said Clayton-Thomas, noting that Riley was on nearly every album he ever recorded. Veteran Toronto music journalist Larry LeBlanc called Riley “a Canadian mix of Duke Ellington, Allen Toussaint, and Henry Mancini.” “He left a rich legacy,” said LeBlanc, who booked Riley’s band the Silhouettes at high school dances in the 1960s.  “If Toronto had a Music Row or a Broadway, its lights would be dimmed for the week.” Jan Riley said she and sons Ben, a 31-year-old drummer, and Jesse, a 28-year-old Toronto police officer, would be in Toronto on Wednesday to meet the body and return it to Prince Edward Island. Clayton-Thomas said Riley would be cremated but that funeral arrangements had yet to be set.

How Canadian Nabbed Hottest Film, Biggest Stars

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald

(August 24, 2007) GUELPH, ONT. — Built almost a century ago on several acres of prime Southwestern Ontario farmland, the handsome Georgian brick structure, with its circular drive, man-made ponds and fieldstone fences, could easily be mistaken for a well-to-do country home.  Walk inside, however, and you quickly realize this has never been an idyllic rural getaway. Dank and dark, corridors of crumbling cells, fitted with steel cots and rotting urinals, stretch down the endless hallways of the former Ontario Reformatory in Guelph, which in its heyday incarcerated up to 1,200 criminals. The basement – home to “the hole,” where prisoners served solitary confinement – is a maze of twisting, grimy passages.  But when Toronto producer
Niv Fichman came across the rundown heritage property, located about an hour west of Toronto, he thought it was, in its way, the most beautiful place he'd ever seen – and a picture-perfect spot to shoot his upcoming feature film, Blindness. Based on the harrowing book of the same name by Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago, it tells the fierce and fantastical story of a pandemic of blindness that eviscerates society. In the movie, the jail will stand in for an abandoned insane asylum, where the authorities of an unnamed city have quarantined those afflicted with a “white blindness” that eventually spreads through the community, leaving everyone – except one woman – sightless and, just as suddenly, helpless.

On set earlier this month, two of the film's stars, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, appeared bedraggled, bruised and filthy, acting out a scene in one of the asylum's wards, where their group of prisoners is forced to give up their valuables to tyrants who have been hording food. The actors listen intently as Oscar-nominated director Fernando Meirelles (2002's City of God) quietly explains how he wants the doctor to look at his wife, without – of course – seeing. Acting sightless, it's clear, is not easy. The international cast (which also includes Danny Glover, Sandra Oh and Japanese heartthrob Yusuke Iseya) has spent weeks in blindness workshops, where actors have been required to ramble around this cavernous place – often blindfolded and cursing – as they bump into walls and trip down stairs. The 39-year-old Ruffalo – who is married to the French-American actress Sunrise Coigney, the mother of his two small children, who are running around the grounds of the former jail today – recalls a particularly trying moment when he and the others were unceremoniously dumped, wearing eye-covering masks, at the end of the long driveway leading to the “asylum.” “We were dropped off at the gate, and told to find the ward, find food, find our beds, find water, and find the toilets in this hellhole,” says Ruffalo – star of last year's Zodiac and All the King's Men, with Sean Penn and Jude Law – during a break in filmmaking. “We were wandering around for hours. Some of us stayed together. Some broke off. Some of us got lost. And some of us got testy at moments. It's very frustrating. And,” he adds, “you see how nearly impossible it is to keep people from cheating and ripping each other off.  “At one point we were given food to divide up, and Fernando snuck in and took half of it away. We, of course, didn't know. A big fight broke out, and accusations were flying back and forth. So we definitely got a sense of how difficult life is for these newly blind people.”

In Saramago's book, blindness is an allegory that the author uses to strip away the thin veneer of civilized society. In his exploration of man's most destructive appetites and weaknesses, those first afflicted are sent to the mental hospital, where a newly created “society of the blind” quickly breaks down. Criminals and the physically powerful prey on the weak. The place becomes a nightmarish setting of starvation, brutality and rape. There is, however, one eyewitness (played by Moore) whose sight is unaffected (a fact she keeps secret). As seer, she follows her husband into quarantine, but eventually leads a small band of seven people back onto the ravaged streets of their city. Sao Paulo-based director Meirelles says he sees the book as a brilliant exploration of the complex layers – both good and bad – of humanity. And his film, adapted for the screen by Toronto filmmaker Don McKellar, is, says the director, “the most challenging thing I've ever done in my life. “I'm still very scared,” offers the wiry, bespectacled Meirelles, in a lightly accented English. “It's really, really difficult, even worse than City of God, which was my first feature.” Among the challenges: a vast cast (who go by such monikers as the Boy Who Squints and the Woman with the Dark Eye Patch) and the near-endless layers of themes that Saragamo explores in his dense text.  “In one scene we just finished, we had 16 actors. They're all professional actors, and each actor wants – needs – attention. So you need to talk to each one, and tell them what they were doing was good. I try to talk to everybody… but it is easier when you're doing a love story between a couple. It's much more controlled.” Later this day, Meirelles says, he will film a scene in which the female characters will be sent to a particular ward where they will be raped, afterward returning to their rooms, where some have husbands waiting. “So, after lunch, we'll do a little meeting to decide how bad they'll look,” says Meirelles, an efficient director (he's ahead of schedule) but a stickler for detail.

“One of the women dies, so we'll have to establish how she dies,” he adds, referring to the makeup. “And all the others, we'll have to see, one by one, how ripped their clothes are, etc. It's pretty grim.” That raw immediacy aside, Meirelles says he feels privileged to be working on Blindness – he describes the novel as “genius” – and with such a high-calibre cast. “You met Mark, isn't he the most wonderful man, warm and human? And Julie is a dream to work with, so easygoing. The humanity of the film is really on their shoulders, in their hands.” The film is a co-production of Fichman's Rhombus Media, Sonoko Sakai's Bee Vine Pictures of Japan, and Andrea Barata Ribeiro's O2 Filmes of Brazil. It's the second collaboration of Fichman and Sakai, who co-produced Francois Girard's feature film, Silk, with Keira Knightley and Canadian Callum Keith Rennie. In total, there are about a dozen of what could be described as “lead actors” portraying the people initially infected. Glover is the Man with the Eye Patch and the film's narrator. Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal plays the evil King of Ward 3. Toronto's Maury Chaykin is his partner in crime, a corrupt accountant. Susan Coyne, McKellar and Martha Burns are also in the cast. Japan's Iseya portrays the first blind man; his wife is played by Japanese actor Yoshino Kimura. Brazilian Alice Braga, who will soon appear opposite Will Smith is the apocalyptic thriller I Am Legend, is Dark Glasses. On set, people chat away in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese. And despite the bleak subject matter, there's a lot of good humour. One corridor of jail cells has been named “celebrity row”: The cast and crew have posted signs on the sliding steel doors, sporting names of famous inmates, including Martha Stewart, O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Ruffalo enters a cell reserved for fallen Canadian media magnate Conrad Black, where the actor sits on a steel cot and talks about how, in his eyes, the multicultural cast underscores the gravity of the movie's themes. “Saramago is a self-described communist and his book – and this movie – is about community, the global community,” says the actor.

“He takes away eyesight, which immediately dismisses rank, material worth, the way people look, physical boundaries and limitations. And it creates an environment where you need help, you need community, you can't do it alone. With the international cast, you get the sense this story is not located in a specific place. By design, it's nowhere and everywhere at the same time.” Blindness, the movie, has been seven years in the making. It started as a germ of an idea with McKellar. He pitched Fichman the idea of adapting the novel into a movie while the two were attending a film festival in Buenos Aires, where McKellar's film Last Night – about the last night on Earth before all mankind is killed – was showing.  Fichman laughs now that his immediate reaction to McKellar's idea was less than enthusiastic. He had not read Blindness, and said to his friend, “Are you sure? You don't want to be known as that apocalypse guy.” But then he read the novel – and read it again – and became “infatuated” with the project. Fichman, who also produced writer-director McKellar's Childstar and Girard's The Red Violin, approached Saramago's agent about acquiring the film rights. He was shooed away, and told by the agent that the 1998 Nobel laureate had turned down scores of other overtures, including, ironically, from Meirelles and from Whoopi Goldberg. But Fichman would not take no for an answer, and mailed Saramago copies of some of Rhombus Media's high-brow documentaries, including The War Symphonies: Shostakovich Against Stalin, the story of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's musical protests against the dictator's crimes. Then, on July 20, 1999, Fichman and McKellar got the call they had been waiting for. The author himself invited them to his Canary Islands home. They hopped on a plane. “On the afternoon of the second day, out of the blue, Saramago said, ‘I've decided I think I want to give you guys the rights,'” recalls Fichman. “It didn't click, because he said it in Portuguese. I asked his agent, who was translating, to repeat it again. Then he told us he didn't want to have anything to do with the film. He wanted no control over it.” Soon after, McKellar began work on his adaptation – based on a novel written in sentences up to a page long, with scant punctuation. It took him six years to complete. Fichman says he believes they got the rights to Blindness because Saramago felt, as Canadians, that they would be able to make an American-style film in English – with access to the same worldwide distribution system – but without too much American influence. “He was afraid [a U.S. studio] would turn his book into a zombie film,” suggests Fichman, “one that would not properly balance the social consciousness that underlies the story.” Last June, Fichman flew to Sao Paulo to woo Meirelles. The 51-year-old director signed on immediately, bringing along his cinematographer, Cesar Charlone. Ruffalo says Meirelles has been a “a leader, and someone you're gladly following. Rarely can you just show up and trust. Especially when you're so exposed,” adds the actor. “Being blind is nearly impossible to act, because your mind so badly does not want to do it. So it's scary.” Blindness wraps in Toronto in mid-October, moves to Uruguay, and then onto Meirelles's hometown of Sao Paulo. The director expects to finish the movie by next March, in time to vie for a for a spot in Cannes and, later, the Toronto International Film Festival. For Meirelles, part of the magic of Saramago's work is its portrayal of how quickly society can collapse when faced with disaster – a message he feels is apt in a world of environmental degradation, political unrest and religious fanaticism. “We're not seeing what we're doing,” says the director. “We all just keep moving. Moving. Like we're blind.” 

Eve Ensler Speaks Out On Congo Atrocities

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(August 24, 2007) NEW YORK–
Eve Ensler has just returned from hell. That's how the author of The Vagina Monologues describes her trip to Congo, where thousands of women have been sexually attacked and mutilated in the African country's civil war. The 54-year-old playwright has joined with the United Nations in a campaign against what a UN expert called the worst violence against women in the world. "In Congo, you're talking about a situation where Africans are hurting Africans, black people are hurting black people," Ensler said in an interview from Italy. "And it's harder to make people care. People say: `Oh, it's just Africa.' And nobody is held accountable." She spent weeks at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu in eastern Congo where Dr. Denis Mukwege is helping repair the broken bodies of war victims. The hospital sees about 3,500 women a year suffering fistula and other severe genital injuries.

A UN human rights expert said last month the sexual atrocities in Congo's volatile South Kivu province extend "far beyond rape" and include sexual slavery, forced incest and cannibalism. From Geneva, Yakin Erturk called the situation the worst she had ever seen as the global body's special investigator for violence against women. She blamed Ugandan-backed militias that occupy Congo's Ituri region, as well as Congo's armed forces and national police. Erturk will report her findings next month to the UN Human Rights Council. "How do I tell you of girls as young as 9 raped by gangs of soldiers, of women whose insides were blown apart by rifle blasts and whose bodies now leak uncontrollable streams of urine and feces?" Ensler asks in an article in the September issue of Glamour magazine. Ensler is working to raise both awareness and funds for the women through the United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict and through V-Day, a global movement she founded to stop violence against women and girls. The money Ensler helps raise for Congo will go to Panzi hospital and to establish a safe haven called "City of Joy." Her journey to Congo in May was inspired by a conversation she had with Mukwege last December in New York City. Their friendship "began with my rusty French and his limited English," she wrote. "It began with the quiet anguish in his bloodshot eyes, eyes that seemed to me to be bleeding from the horrors he'd witnessed."

Jim Carrey Films Video To Help Imprisoned Human-Rights Leader

Source: Associated Press

(August 28, 2007) NEW YORK (AP) -
Jim Carrey has made a straight-to-YouTube video. And it's not funny at all.  The 45-year-old actor-comedian - in rare serious mode - appears in a new public service announcement on behalf of the Human Rights Action Center and the U.S. Campaign for Burma. The goal: To free Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been confined by the Burmese government for 11 of the last 17 years.  "Even though she's compared to a modern-day Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, most people in America still don't know about Aung San," Carrey says in the filmed message, posted Tuesday on YouTube.  "And let's face it: the name's a little difficult to remember. Here's how I did it:

Aung San sounds a lot like 'unsung,' as in unsung hero. Aung San Suu Kyi is truly an unsung hero."  Suu Kyi, who is under long-term house arrest in the city of Yangon, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent efforts to bring down the oppressive military regime that rules over the Southeast Asian country.  The regime, led by General Than Shwe, has destroyed more than 3,000 villages in eastern Burma - forcing more than a 1.5 million people to leave their homes - and recruited more child soldiers than any other country in the world, Carrey says in his spot.  "People around the world need to come to her aid, just as they supported Mandela when he was locked up," said Jeremy Woodrum, co-founder of the U.S. Campaign for Burma, in a statement Tuesday.  "This announcement contributes to an upsurge in activism around Aung San Suu Kyi in the United States and throughout the world."

::MUSIC NEWS::

Folk-Rocker Ben Harper Talks About His Folk Roots

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - David George-Cosh


(August 27, 2007) Even before being formally introduced, folk-rocker
Ben Harper apologizes for being so wired and awake on a sunny August day. He's working on his third cafe latte by noon, and he's prone to make outrageous comments.  In fact, the politically charged musician needs no prodding (or caffeine) to offer a few controversial remarks while in Toronto recently for a series of media interviews promoting his latest album, Lifeline, scheduled to be released tomorrow.  "I know I'm going to get in trouble for saying this, but if America was a city in Canada, it's the city I wouldn't live in," says Harper, sitting casually in a restaurant booth at a downtown hotel. "I'm glad that there's the part of Canada that speaks English, that can represent a specific freedom that America can only claim to represent." It's sharp commentary like that which has helped distinguish Harper from the rest of the pack, making him something of a torchbearer for a new generation of folk musicians since releasing his debut record Pleasure and Pain in 1992.  Before long, though, the 37-year-old Californian scales back the politics and turns the conversation to the folk roots that show on Lifeline, which he recorded with long-time backup band, The Innocent Criminals. Tracks such as Needed You Tonight, Say You Will, Put It On Me and the instrumental Paris Sunrise #7 all spotlight Harper's softer side, which is not that surprising when you consider the album was written during breaks on a European tour and recorded in the world's most romantic city, Paris.

"[Paris] fuels creativity like no other place. It just does," notes Harper, who now lives in the City of Light with his wife, actress Laura Dern, and their two daughters. "Moving there makes perfect sense. It says to you, 'It's okay to be exactly who you are and there's a place here for it in case you're ready to be disciplined enough to hone your artistic craft.' " Harper manages to slip in a few calls to action on Lifeline, most evident on the album's leadoff track, Fight Outta You. "It's more about not letting anyone take away your fire, destiny and passions, wherever they may lie," says Harper, dressed in the black bohemian uniform, complete with fedora and zip-up hoodie . Harper ends his ninth studio release with the album's title track. "I don't think there could have been a better ending to a record ... It made it the lifeline of the record, in a way," Harper says. Does he feel that, after cultivating an audience for more than 15 years, he might need to cry out for a lifeline for himself? Possibly. "In the course of a day, I can be reaching for one, throwing someone one or in need of one that I can't find," he says.  The tour, which will continue the rest of the year in a series of smaller venues, including a date at the famed Radio City Music Hall, is the first for Harper and the Innocent Criminals outside of the club and festival circuit. "This record ... is so much like a conversation for me that I want to present it in a conversational atmosphere," explains Harper, sneaking a sip of his latte. "We came up playing smaller venues working our way to a bigger thing. Now we're kind of working our way back. For the initial rollout, I want it to be close proximity to the fans, and after that we'll see where it goes."  Talk of music changes to opinions on the war in Iraq and the 2008 presidential hopefuls, and Harper drops one surprising bomb - we might get to see him step outside the rock arena and into the political world one day.  "I'd get in there man, and I'd kill it," Harper says excitedly. "The problem is that it would consume my entire life, my entire being. I would get in there and shake it up, man. I'd own it. I'd be like, 'Here are my skeletons. Take them. I'm still the man for the job. You want straight talk? Let's get out on the street and let's make it happen.' "

Vocal in his support for change in Washington, evidenced by his participation in the 2004 Vote For Change concert aimed at encouraging people in swing states to vote in that presidential election, Harper's backing Democrat Barack Obama as his next commander-in-chief. But he hopes that regardless of who the next U.S. president will be, the person will return the U.S. to the respect it once had.  "I'm a proud American, but I'm also a frustrated American. As loud a bullhorn as America is, it should represent itself better internationally and domestically, of course. It could be the great nation it claims, but it just stopped looking at itself in the mirror a long time ago." Harper has tried one other profession. He made a cameo acting appearance in director David Lynch's Inland Empire, which starred Dern, in which he resembles legendary rocker Jimi Hendrix. He says he'll appear on the silver screen again when he hangs up his guitar, which isn't going to be any time soon. "If someone offered me a ridiculous amount of dough, let's do it. There's been talk of me playing various ex-musicians, but dude, I just couldn't do it, I couldn't do it to the fans," he says. "There's enough acting that goes on in all of our daily lives to be exhausted by it as is." Returning to Canada allows him to enjoy a favourite Canadian institution.  "Tim Hortons is killer! Tim Hortons is the bomb!" enthuses Harper. "I remember one late night [during one of his first tours], near the cheap hotel in Vancouver was a Tim Hortons that I decided to check out. It was all I could afford, so I wandered in, had a smoke, a nosh, a coffee, scribbled some lyrics on a napkin and said, 'Ah, I'm home.'"

Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals will be playing Montreal's Theatre St. Denis on Sept. 24-25, Toronto's Massey Hall Sept. 28-29, and Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre Nov. 13.

You Never Know Who Might Hear You Play

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Classical Music Critic

(August 26, 2007) One day in his early teens,
Gordon Stockwell was on his way home from a downtown music shop when his father stopped the car on Yonge St., pointed to a corner and told the youngster to grab his violin and go stand there and play. Ten years later, at age 23, Stockwell is helping to pay his way through university by doing exactly the same thing. Raised in Cambridge, Ont., Stockwell is about to return to St. John's, Nfld., for a second year as a violin performance student at Memorial University. In the meantime, you can hear him in front of the Rogers or Eaton Centres, at St. Lawrence Market, in Yorkville Park or even in front of the statue of Alexander Wood at Church and Alexander Sts. "I tailor what I play to the audience," says the young musician, who plays fiddle as well as classical violin. "I make as much as I would if I had one of those boring, menial student jobs," says Stockwell over an afternoon coffee earlier this week. To save money, he lives in Brampton with his sister, a music teacher. He takes the GO bus downtown every morning. But instead of a briefcase, you'll find Stockwell carrying his well-worn violin case. Busking is a dream job he first tried full-time last summer. "I can work whenever I want, and I get to work on my playing," he says. He insists there is nothing like the challenge of playing on the streets, where most passersby ignore him. "It's incredibly nerve-wracking," he says. "But now I don't have stage fright. I tell everyone who has stage fright to go out and try busking to get over it."

"You also don't know who is going to hear you play," adds Stockwell. "I've met a couple of members of the Toronto Symphony." One day, Marie Bérard, concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company orchestra, stopped to comment on his playing. "She was wonderful and supportive," says Stockwell. His favourite busking experience so far happened last year at Roy Thomson Hall. Having made repeated visits to the box office to see if he could get a ticket to a sold-out concert by violinist Itzhak Perlman, he showed up at the Simcoe St. entrance 45 minutes before concert time and started to play. "I'd written this sign that said `extra ticket?' and put it in my violin case. Twenty minutes later, a young woman came by and dropped one off. It was a $140 ticket. I had the best seat in the house." Sitting next to him was Yorkville gallery owner Mira Godard. It turned out Stockwell's ticket was an extra one she had returned. Godard was so charmed that she invited him back as her guest for another concert the following week. Stockwell isn't sure what direction his future career may take, but his eyes light up as he describes his musical experiences. The glow blooms as he describes playing Gustav Mahler's big Symphony No. 1 with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra last year. "I just about wet myself," he says of the waves of sound that he had a part in creating. "I swear that there is no better experience than this. The performances gave me a bigger high than any drug ever could. It's even better than sex." As a busker, he's trying to share that joy: "You can't do it for the money. If you do, you won't enjoy yourself. You have to do it for your personal enjoyment, and for the enjoyment of others."

Keite Young: On The ‘Rise’: Gospel, Soul, Rock Mesh On Debut Disc

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 27, 2007) "If there is anything that intrigues people about me it is that at 15, I accepted a calling to the ministry and that I still proclaim to be a minister, but I still write songs like ‘If We Were Alone’ and a lot raunchier songs. I’m not in conflict because spirituality and sensuality don’t conflict. There are dangers with either. The balance is the key to happiness and fulfillment.” It is quite brave for a new artist to title their debut disc “The Rise and Fall…” Afterall, to mention a “fall” upon the cusp of a career that, by commercial standards, has not yet risen, seems a bit out of the ordinary and maybe even hazardous.  But Hidden Beach singer/songwriter
Keite Young can hardly be described as ordinary, nor can his music. In fact, Young explained that the album’s name, “The Rise and Fall of Keite Young” came from a rather profound and extraordinary concept.   “It is dramatic in a certain sense, but it does not indicate a beginning and an ending. It does not indicate finality, quite the opposite actually,” he explained to EUR’s Lee Bailey. “It indicates an ongoing rhythm, the rise and fall of the tide, the ebb and flow of things, which is just a rhythm. When you look at it on a grand scale, when you look at one rise and one fall you may see finality, but if you adjust your perspective and pull back you’ll see that no one stays up and no one stays down. It’s a rise and fall.”

Young continued that he hopes to convey a sense of his own life and journey through the title and his music.  “The songs therein are really just about those natural high points and low points: joy, sorrow, bliss, discomfort, happiness, love, fear – all of those things that happen in all of our lives. I wanted my songs to have relevance to the human experience, not to the Christian experience, not to the secular experience, not white, not black, not man, not woman.” The much-anticipated “gospel-tinged” soul disc incorporates soul and rock effortlessly with subject matter just as diverse. Described as having undertones reminiscent of Al Green, Muddy Waters, Sly Stone and the Beatles, “The Rise and Fall of Keite Young” hits shelves August 28 on the heels of his first single, “Prayer,” and the rise of the current single, “If We Were Alone,” featuring N’dambi.  “It’s steamy,” Young said of the new single. “The video is even steamier. It’s like somebody forgot to close the window and you see two people’s world and you’re allowed to see the intimacy and energy of when they meet. In this scenario, though, these two people walk away.” The Texas native also discussed how being a spiritual singer, former Kirk Franklin & the Family band member and ordained minister … that’s  right, ordained minister -- didn’t negate his passion on the love song.  “Ministers, politicians, bus drivers – we’re all human first,” he said. “To be human, it consists of a sensual side and a spiritual side. We’re spirits walking around in bodies made of flesh. You can’t deny either. If there is anything that intrigues people about me it is that at 15, I accepted a calling to the ministry and that I still proclaim to be a minister, but I still write songs like ‘If We Were Alone’ and a lot raunchier songs. I’m not in conflict because spirituality and sensuality don’t conflict. There are dangers with either. The balance is the key to happiness and fulfillment.”

His philosophical words permeate the disc, too, while his sound is influenced by some legendary singers considered quite philosophical, too.  “Even though I’ve been asked this question a million times, I still give thought to it,” he said of naming his music heroes and then reeling off the names Little Richard, Al Green, and Prince. “At first, it was just from an artistic perspective, but then I got to thinking, ‘These guys were very spiritually inclined men.’ There’s the Reverend Al Green and Little Richard left music at one point to go to divinity school. I realized that all my heroes had struggled and reconciled the undeniable truth in sensuality as well as the undeniable truth in spirituality. That’s my journey.”  Young talked about how classic soul and pop music is classic for more than just great instrumentation and vocals. He called classic hits “useful” reflecting that one of his heroes in particular, Al Green, was the soundtrack for love, anger, protest, and a host of other emotions and actions.  “Music [now] is just good for dancing. That’s it. Music back then had a lot more uses, which makes it better,” he said and continued, “I have this motto If you want to be a legend, listen to what the legends listen to. When you hear Prince, you hear Sly. Stevie Wonder grew up around the Funk Brothers. When you used to see Michael Jackson, you were seeing James Brown. I always spend more time listening to those cats.”  “The Rise and Fall of Keite Young,” hits shelves this week after a long build-up with the label, Young explained. But he’s thankful that he had that time to mature before his debut.

 “I didn’t feel like the people who really needed to know who I was, knew who I was,” Young said of the five-year wait, “but in the space I’m in now, those things worked for my good. Divine timing is just that.” To sample a few tracks from the new artist and find out more, visit his Myspace page at www.myspace.com/keiteyoung or www.hiddenbeach.com, and watch for his official website, www.keiteyoung.com.  For MORE from Keite Young, just scroll down to the Hitmaker banner at the bottom of every story page at EURweb. Just click the play button and sit back and listen, learn and groove.

McKnight In Shining Armour

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 28, 2007) *
Brian McKnight has been doing his thing for going on 20 years. Some readers may not wish to come to grips with that fact because in admitting it they age themselves.  The man is now one of the pre-eminent balladeers of our time. EURweb reporter Darryl Gates happened across Mr. McKnight at a recent event. Responding to Darryl's question about his latest album, "Ten," and recent tour, McKnight seemed to be taken aback by his own continued success.  "The album's doing good, the tour is great. We're still doing shows," said the crooner when asked to summarize his goings on. "It's great to be in a situation to have people still come out. I have been doing this for 20 years and to still be able to pack the Universal Amphitheater is crazy."  That goes double when one considers the relative short shelf life of even the most talented African American performers. During that very same event, Mr. McKnight - who also hosts the morning drive show on LA's 94.7 The Wave - introduced the world to his two young sons, BJ and Niko. These young brothers, figuratively and literally, are a chip off the old block. BJ, aka Brian Jr., is the eldest of the duo and is also an avid guitar player. Niko brings the vocals.

"Yes, I have two sons and they're doing their thing," said McKnight of his progeny. "My oldest son produces all of their work and they should be doing some things soon. I think by next summer. We're working on a reality show as well."  A reality show based upon the lives of a family that actually has talent? This we have to see. McKnight also told our reporter that his boys are working on some things of their own, but they're not going to take the path he took.  "I'm trying not to sign them to a major label," said McKnight. "We're looking to do a little something different with them. We're trying to get a whole new business model as far as that's concern because, you know, record labels take everything. If you look at it that way, my son already gets a million hits on his MySpace page. That's the wave of the future to be able to get your music out directly to the consumers without all the BS."

Ann Nesby Prepares New Album Release

Source: kim trick / manager, new media, kimberly@theorchard.com

(August 27, 2007)
Ann Nesby is without a doubt one of finest, most powerful and emotive R&B singers of the past twenty years.  Loved by everyone from American Idol's Randy Jackson, who calls her "one of the best singers in the world," and Al Green, who declares her as "a real soul singer," Ann Nesby occupies an unusual niche in the music industry, that of an inspirational R&B artist.   Nesby is preparing for the release of her latest album, This Is Love, to be released September 25, 2007, by Shanachie Records.  In the album Ann Nesby returns to the inspirational R&B of her top-selling albums with a stunning set of all-original songs that is destined to be not only one of the year's best R&B releases but also one of the most meaningful.  Working with up-and-coming producers J. Isaac (who produced grand-daughter Paris Bennett's album on the heels of her making the finals of American Idol), Paul Jones and Darnell 'Baby D' Davis, Ann moves effortlessly from the gospel of her last album In The Spirit  to the inspirational R&B of This Is Love.  Highlights on This Is Love include the upbeat and celebratory songs "I Can't Explain It" and "This Could Be Love," the affirmative ballad "Special Occasion," the ironic "Thank God" and the sobering "I Apologize," one of Ann's favourite songs on the CD.  While some listeners may be surprised to hear the song "It's So Easy Lovin' U," a house-music rave-up, devoted Ann Nesby fans will be right at home. The Georgia-based vocalist says, "In all of the projects that I've done recently there has always been at least one up-tempo dance track. This goes back to the hit "The Pressure‚" which I recorded with Sounds Of Blackness. I've kept up with fans of that style of music so I always try to give the dance community at least one song that is uplifting and dance-worthy."

Listen to Ann Nesby "I Can't Explain It" from This is Love (Shanachie)
  http://dev.theorchard.com/jaclyn/mp3/annnesby_icantexplainit.mp3

What the Press is Saying:

Nesby sings with such power and passion…
- USA Today
At once uplifting and electrical…
- Vibe Magazine

Ann Nesby has glorious alto pipes which sometimes leap octaves in breathtaking bounds.
- The San Francisco Chronicle

About Ann Nesby:

Like so many great soul singers, Ann Nesby started out singing gospel music in the Church. Born and raised in Joliet, Illinois, Ann's parents both sang gospel music. Ann has kept her family's musical legacy alive not only through her own musical endeavours but through nurturing the music of her daughter, Jamecia Bennett, and her grand-daughter, Paris Bennett, who was an early favourite and standout in last year's American Idol. In 1987 during a visit with her sister Shirley Graham, who had been singing with the acclaimed inspirational group Sounds Of Blackness in Minneapolis, Ann performed with her sister and the group and impressed the director so much that she was immediately asked to join the group.

Shortly after joining Sounds Of Blackness and re-locating to Minneapolis, Ann found herself in the studio with super producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis after they heard Sounds Of Blackness in concert while taking a break from producing an album for Janet Jackson. Jam & Lewis made Sounds Of Blackness their first signing for their Perspective Records label and produced a string of Top 10/Gospel/R & B hits for the group that scored two Grammys. In 1996 Ann recorded her debut solo album, I'm Here For You, produced by Jam & Lewis. The album generated such hits as "I'm Still Wearing Your Name" and the emotional "I'll Do Anything For You." Re-mixes of her recordings "Love Is What We Need" and "Lovin' Is Really My Game" hit the top of the Billboard dance charts.

Ann, along with her husband/manager Timothy Lee, formed It's Time Child Records and hit the top of the Adult Urban Contemporary radio charts with her duet with Al Green, "Put It On Paper," an R&B song that delivered a message about the importance of commitment and marriage in relationships. Universal Records then signed Ann and released her second album under the title Put It On Paper, which earned Ann her first Grammy nomination as a solo artist. Her third album, Make Me Better, also was Grammy-nominated and yielded more gospel dance-hits. In The Spirit hit the gospel charts in 2006.  Along the way she appeared in I Know I've Been Changed, Tyler Perry's first theatrical production (which dealt with the subject of child abuse) as well as many other theatrical productions, including the Shelly Garrett production Til Death Do Us Part.  She also had a major role in the feature film The Fighting Temptations, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., and Beyoncé, and continues in her role as spokesperson for Donna Vinci's Lisa Rene fashion line.

She has recorded songs with cutting-edge production, often with elements of hip-hop or dance music, combined with lyrics that either subtly or overtly deliver a message. Nesby's inspirational approach has been a huge appeal to gospel audiences even though she is not a gospel artist per se. The talented songbird has scored both urban radio hits and club hits, written hits for Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Sounds Of Blackness and played feature roles in numerous theatrical productions and feature films.  Last year she fulfilled an ambition by recording In The Spirit, the first pure gospel album of her career which spawned a Top Twenty-Five gospel radio single. 

http://www.annnesby.com/ 

A Young Idol Embraces His Maturity

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Pop & Jazz Critic

(August 28, 2007)
Kalan Porter's all growed up and he's got the angst to prove it. Along with his songwriting and violin-playing prowess, the second season Canadian Idol winner showcases a pensive side on his sophomore disc, Wake Up Living, which hits stores today.  It's a hard-won maturity, accelerated by a fretful period the 21-year-old Toronto-based musician spent back home in Medicine Hat, Alta., last year, as his mother battled breast cancer.  But mom's doing better and it's time to try to recapture the glory of 2004's 219 Days, which garnered three Juno nominations and a MuchMusic Video Award. With Wake Up Living's empowering lead single "Down In Heaven" already climbing the charts, the Star caught up with the thoughtful, soft-spoken singer at his record label's headquarters. Fans can catch him Sept. 29 at the Mod Club.

Q: How did the making of this album compare to the first one?

A: It was a completely different experience. The first record was made in about six weeks and it definitely didn't have that much creative input. Canadian Idol gives you the opportunity to get out to people really fast, but I don't think it's known for its ability to create great art. It was kind of my job to go back and really make a record that shows me as an artist. I spent about a year writing and went to L.A. and recorded over four months. And I had creative control over the whole thing.

Q: Some of the tunes are really dark and personal.

A: I wasn't sure what I was going to write about. I'm a young guy, haven't had a lot of life experience, haven't had a lot of relationships that have gone badly. Then, almost right away when I started writing, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I tried to stay in Toronto and keep working, but it was really important for me to go and spend that time with my family. It was a rough year or so, but it really brought our family closer. And in the end, I think it got the creative juices flowing, because there was so much to draw on.

Q: Are you trying to shrug off that cutesy image you had on Canadian Idol?

A: Not specifically. Some people who've listened to the record say I'm going to lose a lot of the younger fans, because it has an older sound. That's the way it goes. The last year or two, I tried to be so many things: I straightened my hair, I even dyed it a darker brown. I wanted to be anything but what I was. I realized I just have to be who I am and if people like that, fine. When I got into the show I was so young and unsure. I was worried about saying the right things. Now, I'm more comfortable showing humour and personality. I'm more secure and I think the record shows that.

Q: You seem to have reconciled your apparently reserved nature with the demands of showbiz.

A: In the last few years I really had to live my life out of my comfort zone. I'm always pushing myself; interviews, videos and all that stuff are not really natural, but I'm slowly getting better at it.

The music is what I really love doing, and the other stuff I do because I know it's important.

Q: Like talking about your mother's health scare?

A: It was such a huge part of the album and I was torn about whether I wanted to bring it up (in the promotion of the record). But I hope people who listen to the album will relate if they're going through similar things. That's what music has always been to me: communicating to people.

Q: How do you feel about returning to perform on Canadian Idol (Sept 4. broadcast)?

A: When I got out I kind of wanted to distance myself from it and become my own artist. I've kind of come full circle now in that I embrace that's where I came from. I'm excited to go to back to see a lot of the crew and people behind the scenes. And it's an amazing opportunity to get my music out to a whole lot of people.

Q: You're slated to be in (Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation/CIBC's) Run for the Cure on Sept. 30, but you just don't seem like the athletic type; how far can you run?

A: I don't know. It's called Run for the Cure, but hopefully it's like walk, or light jog for the cure. I'm not the most physical guy, but if something good can come from it, I'll do my best.

Russell Simmons Cuts Out The Phat

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 27, 2007) *
Russell Simmons has relinquished his title as CEO of Phat Fashions and is launching a new menswear collection titled Argyle Culture, a collection “commemorating the class, stature and respect achieved by those urban graduates who have ‘arrived’ in the world,” said a statement. Simmons founded Phat Fashions in 1992 and sold it to Kellwood for $140 million in cash in January of 2004. He remained on as CEO, overseeing the day-to-day operations – including the maintenance of his Phat Farm and Baby Phat lines of clothing. "I have enjoyed my association with Kellwood over the last three years," Simmons said in a statement. "We have accomplished much during this short period of time -- and I leave the division and the brand in great hands. There are so many things I want to achieve, and this is the appropriate moment for me to move on to my next business venture." Baby Phat will continue to be headed by his estranged wife Kimora Lee Simmons, while the mogul himself will run Russell Simmons-Argyle Culture and Atman brands, which are his trademark properties.

Argyle Culture focuses on the success of men over age 25, who have already reached their dreams, according to Simmons.  "The argyle collection was my original inspiration," said Simmons. I became what I aspired to become: I grew up.”  Simmons added, "There are a huge group of consumers who are not young men any longer and don't shop in the young men's space, but still want to remain part of the urban lifestyle." The collection infuses original urban concepts with the buttoned-up styling of men's professional attire. It is simpler in design and smaller in fit. The argyle pattern has always been a signature style in Simmons' wardrobe as well as been a staple of his original brand, Phat Farm. "We're going to infuse fashion into Argyle Culture through color, texture and subtle details," said Kevin Saer, vice-president of design. "We're taking houndstooth and herringbone, and identifying with argyle. We're actually weaving specific fabrics like argyle herringbone and argyle houndstooth." Meanwhile, all All Phat Fashions brands will continued to be operated, distributed and licensed by Phat Fashions and its parent company, Kellwood which also holds licensing rights to brands like Calvin Klein, XoXo, Nautica, Claiborne and others.

Carl Newman Has Flown The Coop In More Ways Than One

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(August 21, 2007) Blah, blah, blah and yada, yada, yada, and we've heard this so many times before. Over breakfast at a Toronto hotel, the red-haired leader of the New Pornographers is saying all the right and boring things. "I feel like we're always growing and getting better as a band" and "I've matured as a songwriter" and, to the oblivious waiter, "could we get some menus?" All pretty mundane stuff, and not worth the time of day - it's 11 a.m. - except that in this case what Carl Newman is saying is probably true. Also, I should point out, what the hungry musician is doing is simply responding to the leading, puffy questions posed to him. His 10-year-old band's fourth album, Challengers, out today, is indeed a riper affair than previous efforts. Where 2005's Twin Cinema opened with brimming power pop, the new disc broaches like the Beach Boys on only small waves. The thoughtful, mildly chugging My Rights Versus Yours features the band's first ever use of a French horn. Following is All the Old Showstoppers, with an august (but catchy) string break. As for the tardy table service, if the waiter is ignoring the mild-mannered indie pop star, he's not alone. Before Newman sat down to chat, a photographer took him outside for a few shots on the sidewalk.  "Out stopping traffic?" I ask when he walks back inside. "None," is what Newman says. "We tried, but nobody noticed us." It could be Newman's new beard that makes him less recognizable. It could be, but it isn't - he just wouldn't elicit the he or she "must be a somebody" response two of his bandmates (Neko Case and Dan Bejar) might get. Rather, he looks like any one of the youngish novelists who make their homes in the boroughs of New York.

(A day earlier, during the Pornographers' set at the Rogers Picnic festival at Toronto's Fort York, Newman casually revealed the suite number and hotel where he was spending the night. Asked if any fans dropped by his room, he shakes his head. "Nobody showed up. I don't think anybody believed me.") Which is not to say that the man isn't taken seriously. The Pornographers' albums have been heralded by critics, prized by college-rock stations and loved by a sizable fan base, particularly in the United States, where the band's profile is higher than in Canada. Twin Cinema sold well over 100,000 copies south of the border, but under 20,000 here. True, the U.S. is a bigger market, but the discrepancy is much greater than someone like Feist, the Calgary-born chanteuse whose current The Reminder disc has scanned 75,000 copies in Canada and somewhere near 200,000 in the U.S. A look at the Pornographers' fall tour schedule includes one date in Toronto, for example, but a pair of shows in Chicago. Newman can't explain the disparity, except to say the Pornographers never shied away from testing the bigger market. "From the beginning, we didn't want to get stuck in the Can-rock ghetto, to be a band that didn't want to leave their safety zone or didn't want to go to America and face the hard slog there."  Newman is lovin' the slog, more than ever. He now shares a Brooklyn apartment - in the Park Slope district, "a couple of blocks from Maggie Gyllenhaal" - with his brand-new wife, Christina. How do I know her name? I hear the Case-sung Go Places, a gallant ballad that is nothing less than a full-on marriage proposal from Newman. "I've never done that before," says the band's chief songwriter. "I thought I'd be gutsy and put her full name in."  (Plus, he needed a rhyme that worked with "deus ex machina." It's nice when these things work out.)

Marital status and a change of address are the biggest changes, but not the only ones. The Pornographers, having outgrown Vancouver-based Mint Records, have moved to Toronto's Last Gang Records. (In the U.S., the band remains on Matador Records). "We're friends with Mint," Newman assures, "and we love everything they've done for us. We just needed to move to a slightly bigger label." The album was recorded in Brooklyn, but Newman plays down the locale's effect on the music. "I'm a homebody," he explains. "I'm on the phone or on the computer, taking care of band business. Or I'm at home, writing songs."  Then why bother, one might reasonably ask, to move to New York. "Well, when I'm hungry there, I can walk down the street and get a really good burrito," Newman offers, perhaps in all seriousness. "You can't do that in Vancouver." With that, his breakfast arrives and the interview is over, but not before one last question about the band's direction. Just as the mellower material from Twin Cinema gave us a clue of what to expect with Challenger, what now does Challenger point toward for the next record? "I'm not sure," Newman says. "I just think it's going to get even weirder from here."

Parkdale Orchestra Rages Against Mainstream

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Classical Music Critic

(August 23, 2007) These urban guerrillas lurk in the city's darker corners as they prepare each attack. Some are solo campaigns, but most rely on strength in numbers. The assaults are not deadly, but provocative. The missions are not destructive but creative. The damage is not to lives and buildings but to mainstream sensibilities. Welcome to the shadowy world of the
Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra and their like – cells inspired by the common cause of experimenting with musical forms. Like many of their peers, clustered around such recent enterprises as the Music Gallery's X Avant Festival and the improvising skills of Contact contemporary music, this band isn't led by a charismatic firebrand. Thirtysomething Benjamin Mueller-Heaslip is anything but. The composer is more a 21st-century incarnation of the 19th-century Romantic who wants to have as many people as possible hear what he has to say in music. Everything the band performs is by the composer's hand. It is an engaging, wonky mix of classical minimalism, art punk and early Brian Eno-inspired electronica translated into an acoustic medium. "You can hear Franz Schubert, Philip Glass and David Byrne," says Mueller-Heaslip about his musical aesthetic. There is something caustically off-balance at work, too – an echo of Kurt Weill's ironic voice from Weimar-era Germany. "I see what I do as an extension of the chamber Lieder-salon world. I work with a small, mobile force, like Chopin and Schubert."

Mueller-Heaslip and many of the band members lived in the Parkdale-High Park neighbourhood when the band formed two years ago. "I was composing and working as a bicycle courier at the time." The "revolutionary" aspect of the band's name comes from Mueller-Heaslip's desire to break through the invisible barrier around contemporary classical music. Like many young artists and listeners, the composer thinks the new music scene is too insular. Unlike many fellow sonic warriors, you won't find Mueller-Heaslip onstage at one of the Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra's monthly gigs at the Tranzac Club or Clinton's. He is the creative force, leaving performing to wife Kristin (soprano voice), Alex Cheung (violin), Kerri McGonigle (cello), Jennifer Wardle (soprano sax), Michael Kaler (bass) and Michael "Rosie" Rosenthal (drums). Mueller-Heaslip is always on the lookout for "interesting opening acts," which he pairs with the Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra for each club gig. Tomorrow at the Tranzac, the band is joined by a regular collaborator, singer/pianist Karl Mohr. Mueller-Heaslip is happy to be working in music full-time now, as well as doing the administrative work for the band, which also performs at private events and parties. "We played at a private party a couple of months ago, and I wrote some music for an aerial acrobat who was performing there," Mueller-Heaslip provides as an example. Both he and Kristin, who met at University of Toronto's faculty of music, also give private lessons. "I teach about 20 hours a week," says Mueller-Heaslip. The band plans to finish recording its first full-length album soon. "I hope that we'll have the disc out by October, November at the latest." Mueller-Heaslip says that he has assembled a committed group of musicians who are all in this for the long haul. "We want to develop a long-term identity and audience in the large culture," he insists.

Just the facts
WHAT: Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra
WHERE: Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Ave.
WHEN: Tomorrow @ 10 p.m.
ADMISSION: Pay-what-you-can

NY Reggae Festival Protested For Anti-Gay Music

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(August 24, 2007) NEW YORK – A reggae festival created to promote peace among cultures is being denounced by gay and lesbian groups for allowing performers with a history of anti-gay lyrics.
The Reggae Carifest, which will be held Saturday at Randall's Island, promises performances by Buju Banton and Bounty Killer, among several other acts at the daylong event. Gay and lesbian activists are planning to protest the performers outside the show to educate sponsors and concertgoers on the dangers of anti-gay lyrics, said Rashad Robinson, a spokesman for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD. He said the performers have a right to free speech, but so do protest groups. "We as an organization value free speech. It gives us the right to stand up to vulgar anti-gay lyrics which promote violence," he said. Earlier this week, hip-hop radio station Power 105.1 quietly withdrew its sponsorship of the event. The station, owned by radio giant Clear Channel Communications, Inc., would not specify the reason, but a spokeswoman said the station does not usually play reggae, and never plays Banton or Bounty Killer. The station had never planned to broadcast the show live.

Calls to record labels for Banton and Bounty Killer were not immediately returned Friday. Concert promoter Team Legendary did not immediately return messages seeking comment. The city Parks Department, which operates Randall's Island, said in a statement Friday that all performers signed a code of conduct agreeing to refrain from performing anti-gay lyrics at the promoter's request. "This is a city that values the free speech of all artists, but we also are a city that does not accept intolerance. We are glad that the artists have agreed to refrain from hateful messages,'' the department said in a statement. The issue of anti-gay lyrics in reggae and other Jamaican music surfaced years ago when Banton released "Batty Rider" and "Boom Bye Bye," which glorify the shooting of gay men. The Beenie Man song "Han Up Deh" calls for a lesbian to be hanged, while T.O.K's song "Chi Chi Man" suggests the burning of gay men. The husky-voiced Banton has been a major star in his native Jamaica since the early 1990s with brash dancehall music and, more recently, a traditional reggae sound. His career has been stunted in the United States because of his attitude toward gays. Banton was tried and acquitted on charges that he participated in the beating of six gay men by a Jamaica gang in 2004.

A concert last summer at Webster Hall was cancelled after a similar uproar over performers Beenie Man and T.O.K. Also last summer, British concerts featuring Banton and Beenie Man were cancelled after activists said the artists refused to stop using anti-gay lyrics. Reggae Carifest first launched in 1998 at the Forest Hills Stadium in Queens and has been held at Keyspan Park, Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium and, most recently, Randall's Island. Promoters call the show an "explosion of West Indian exhibitionism.'' "Reggae Carifest is doing our part to break down cultural barriers and to showcase the overwhelming richness of Reggae music and culture," D'Niscio Brooks of Team Legendary, the concert promoter, said in a news release. Styled after a traditional open-air Caribbean marketplace, the festival also features a vending village where food, art, clothing, crafts, and jewellery for Caribbean businesses are displayed.

Sloan Is Back

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter

(August 25, 2007) If the guys from
Sloan sound a bit off tonight at The Ex, the culprit may be the Tilt-a-Whirl. Or, in the case of guitarist Jay Ferguson, it's the mini doughnuts. "Some members of our band would be very excited to hit the rides before the show. It would ruin their voices because they'd be screaming their heads off," Ferguson jokes between sips of his green apple drink at a restaurant in Little Italy. "I'm interested in the food fair. But the Tilt-a-Whirl, you couldn't pay me to get on that thing."  The mini doughnuts, however, would be hard for Ferguson to turn down, he admits, after missing them at the Calgary Stampede earlier this summer. But it has to be a fair's mini doughnuts.  "It won't be fun if I could get them any day of the week," Ferguson says.  With all of the summer festivals Sloan is synonymous for playing, it's a surprise the known-as-a-Halifax-band that makes its home in the vicinity of Little Italy has never played Toronto's swan song to the summer.  They hit the Toronto Star bandshell tonight after opening act The Golden Dogs at 7 p.m. Admission into The Ex gets you a spot for the concert.  This gig will be one of the last shows for a while as Ferguson and the boys – Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland and Andrew Scott – will not be doing the university Frosh tour for the first time in a number of years, since there have been some new "additions" to the band (think diapered, potential future musicians who have their own built-in wah-wah pedals). Then they'll hit the studio in the fall to record their ninth studio album.

The Ex show is pretty much the tail end of the touring cycle in support of their latest album, the 30-song disc Never Hear the End of It, which was released last September.  The tour took them overseas, into the U.S. and numerous small-to-mid-size Canadian towns, and included an opening gig for The Police in Edmonton earlier this summer.  Ferguson says it was interesting to compare how big bands conduct their tour, since the quartet has opened for The Rolling Stones before. The Mick show fired on all cylinders and was heavy on security keeping the elder statesmen of rock inside their own bubble, whereas it was a more open atmosphere with The Police.  "I got in an elevator with Stewart Copeland. Someone else walked into the gym where Sting was working out alone in the dark," says the ginger-haired rocker, who adds that he noticed a tad of underlying tension between the reunited band members when they gave each other subtle digs during an unusually long three-hour sound check.  It's the complete opposite for the Sloan guys, who have been together for the past 16 years.  In the beginning, the four were just getting to know each other, but Ferguson says they're closer now even though they don't hang out as much.  He's very proud of the fact that it's been the same four lads during the band's tenure despite the problems and egos associated with rock 'n' roll. Now, the guys get together during their downtime for housewarmings and baby showers.

Ferguson says he and lead singer/bassist Murphy have songs ready to go for their next project – including some leftovers from the last album despite the monstrous set list.  "We could do an album tomorrow and be ready to go, but we could make a better album if we took the time," Ferguson says.  He expects the album to come out in early summer next year and adds there could perhaps be more collaboration, rather than each member writing his own song.  Ferguson says the most democratic Sloan song was "The Other Man," featured on the 2001 release Pretty Together, as Murphy did the lyrics and melody, Pentland wrote the riff, Scott added the chords and he arranged it.  Since Sloan runs its own label, Murderecords, Ferguson says he's interested in how the industry is going to evolve with the Internet, album sales dropping and record companies downsizing.  "I'm curious to see how this will all shake down, if the album will survive or if it's just going to be EPs and singles," Ferguson says.  "It'd be fun to release four singles in a year. I don't know if the album is going to last, but I want the album to last because I like albums and a collection of songs."  "It'd be hard to see how much money you could make just by putting out singles because we depend on radio play. In order to rely on someone to work your song on radio, you really have to be selling an album."  Perhaps there won't be any money in making music, he says – maybe it will all come from touring, which is currently the band's main revenue stream.  Ferguson admits that because he doesn't have kids or own a house, he's got lots of time to think about these formerly abstract tangents that are quickly becoming reality in the business.  "I don't have to fix the roof of the garage at the last minute," he laughs.

Sask. Woman Sets Karaoke Record

Source: Canadian Press

(August 28, 2007) MOOSE JAW, SASK. — A Saskatchewan woman has shown the world just who has the best, or at least the toughest, vocal chords by setting a record for the longest consecutive karaoke.
Elaine Knuttila beat a Guinness World Record in Moose Jaw on Monday night by for singing 31 hours and nine minutes. “I think it's time to pack it in,” Knuttila said as she stood in front of the microphone at the Lynbrook Golf Course's Putter Inn. Knuttila stopped at 8:09 p.m., short of her planned finale at 9 p.m., but she good enough to beat the world record by two hours and 42 minutes. “I'm exhausted,” Knuttila whispered after she was done. Knuttila, who was raising money for the Presidents Choice Children's Charity, said she knew she wouldn't be able to go the whole 32 hours when she looked at her song list during her last five-minute break at 8:03 p.m. All the songs left, she explained, were more high-pitched than she would have been able to do. “You hit that spot of excitement, and then you start to fall,” she said.

The song that officially beat the record was, Sweet Music Man, which she sang at 5:27 p.m. After Knuttila said she was done, the crowd yelled for one more song, clapping their hands to the beat. She did sing one more, but her maximum 30-second time limit between songs had expired. Adjudicator Sharise Billett Niedermayer said everyone was hoping Knuttila would make her 32 hours, but could see that she was getting more tired as the minutes ticked away. “You could see in the last hour that she was fading fast,” Billett Niedermayer said. Billett Niedermayer said the official time for Knuttila still has to be approved by the Guinness World Record organization. Knuttila's son, who is also a karaoke DJ, said he was sure his mom would break the record. “It would have been nice to see her go until 9 p.m., but saving her voice is nice too,” Corey Knuttila laughed.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Tribe Called Quest Added To VH1’S ‘Hip Hop Honors’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 23, 2007) *
A Tribe Called Quest will get its props during VH1's Fourth Annual Hip Hop Honors alongside previously-announced honourees Whodini, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, Teddy Riley and Andre Harrell.  As previously reported, the show will be hosted by “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan and taped at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom on October 4. Performers on tap to pay tribute to their rap elders include Eve, Pharrell Williams, The Game, Common, Busta Rhymes, Timbaland, Bow Wow, Nick Cannon, T.I., T-Pain, Keyshia Cole and Chris Rock.  The Fourth Annual Hip Hop Honors will air on VH1 Monday October 8 at 10 p.m.

`American Idol' Runner-Up Scores Record Deal

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(August 24, 2007)  NEW YORK –
Blake Lewis has reaped another "American Idol" reward – a record deal. Lewis, who finished second to Jordin Sparks in the final "Idol" face-off in May, has signed a contract with Arista Records in conjunction with 19Recordings, the label managed by "Idol" creator Simon Fuller, it was announced Friday. His debut album is slated for release later this year. "Blake is one of the most unique `Idol' contestants I've ever seen," Fuller said in a statement. "He brought something new to the competition and won fans all over America. I know they're going to love his first album." Lewis, 26, of Bothell, Wash., specialized in beatbox sound-effects during his run on the Fox talent show's sixth season. His big TV moment came when he added hip-hop beats to a performance of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name," irking guest mentor Jon Bon Jovi in the process.

The Return Of Mr. Luva Luva

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 24, 2007) *Dancehall superstar
Shaggy launches a new joint venture with Big Yard and VP Records with the Oct. 16 release of his forthcoming album, "Intoxication."   For the project’s first single, "Bonafide Girl," Shaggy recruits "It Wasn't Me" partner-in-crime Rik Rok and Tony Gold.  Other guests on the album include Akon, Collie Budz, Kalonji, Mischieve, Nasha and Sizzla. "While creating the album I wasn't signed to any particular label so I didn't have the usual interference into my creative process." Shaggy tells Billboard.com. "That's what I was trying to get back to with 'Intoxication' -- both hardcore dancehall and reggae. It's a climatic musical roller coaster ride for all to enjoy." Other tracks on “Intoxication” include "Can't Hold Me," "Out of Control" featuring Rayvon ("Angel"), and "Church Heathen," where Shaggy criticizes organized religion. Lyrics in the song include: "Preachers dip into the collection basket for Benz payments / and women doing the Dutty Wine Saturday night look for salvation on Sunday." Akon sings the chorus to the breakup song "What's Love," while Budz and Sizzla reggae-chat about social ills on "Mad Mad World."

Oprah, Leezy, Snoop Subpoenaed In Profiling Case

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 24, 2007) *Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice, Snoop Dogg and Diddy are among the list of celebrities who have been subpoenaed in a racial profiling case in a Michigan Federal Court, reports TMZ.com. The stars were commanded to appear for depositions in a lawsuit filed by
Jerome Almon, who claims that Canada unfairly detains black rappers at the border. Almon alleges that Canadian officials blame rappers for the increase in gang crime and gun violence in Toronto and Vancouver. Other celebs subpoenaed for the case include Paris Hilton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, DMX, Diddy, Jenna Jameson, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Eminem, Kobe Bryant, Spike Lee, Tom Sizemore, Martha Stewart and Heidi Fleiss.  Almon, CEO of MurderCap Records, tells TMZ: "The white celebrities have been directed to appear, in order to show the hypocritical nature of Canadian policy toward rappers. Some of the white celebrities have far worse records than these rappers, but are still allowed to enter Canada with the red carpet rolled out."

Bo Diddley Stable After Heart Attack

Excerpt from www.thestar.com – Associated Press

(August 28, 2007) GAINESVILLE, Fla. –
Bo Diddley was in stable condition at a Gainesville hospital after suffering a heart attack, his publicist said Tuesday. The 78-year-old singer-guitarist complained of dizziness and nausea during a routine medical checkup Friday, said his publicist, Susan Clary. She said Diddley was being treated at North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville. The hospital is near his north central Florida hometown of Archer. Clary said the musician was in stable condition at the hospital's cardiac care unit after spending the weekend in intensive care. A hospital spokesman referred all questions to Clary. "He is conscious," Clary said. "The situation is very serious.'' In May, Diddley was hospitalized in Nebraska after suffering a stroke after casino performances in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He was soon transferred to Florida. Diddley, with his black glasses and low-slung guitar, has been an icon in the music industry since he topped the R&B charts with ``Bo Diddley" in 1955. His other hits include "Who Do You Love,'' ``Before You Accuse Me,'' "Mona" and "I'm a Man.'' He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 1998.

::FILM NEWS::

Keeping Passion For Movies Afloat

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Movie Critic

(August 24, 2007) When he was a lad growing up in Montreal,
Barry Avrich didn't harbour any dreams about heading off to sea. "I don't know if there's a big long list of famous Jewish sailors," he quips. He was, however, passionately interested in movies, every aspect of them. From the production values of Mame, to the thrilling chariot race in Ben-Hur, to the weekend box-office results. "I was reading Variety when I was 8. We'd have our classic Friday night dinners and I would talk about the grosses on a film." This only half explains why he's once again planning to put his Top-Siders on and set sail with fellow movie buffs aboard the Floating Film Festival, scheduled for Feb. 27 to March 3, travelling from Los Angeles along the Pacific coast Mexican Riviera – Puerto Vallarta and the like – and back. For this you need some background. Avrich is the producer of the FFF, a biennial event started in 1991 by Dusty Cohl, the co-founder of the Toronto International Film Festival. They're about to celebrate the 10th edition of an event often referred to as the "most exclusive film festival in the world" because its 250-odd participants are in their own bubble, afloat, paying between $2,600 to $6,965 per person for luxury living aboard a six-star Crystal Symphony cruise ship. (More details are at floatingfilmfest.com.)

FFF sailors have enjoyed world premieres of such notable works as The Silence of the Lambs, Hoop Dreams and Four Weddings and a Funeral, while hanging out with the likes of film critics Roger Ebert and Richard Corliss, CBC arts poohbah George Anthony, filmmakers Martin Scorsese, Haskell Wexler and Robert Towne and actors Rod Steiger and Cliff Robertson. Avrich, who is also a writer, award-winning filmmaker (The Last Mogul) and president of his own advertising firm, Endeavour Marketing Communications, had participated in several FFF sailings before Cohl tapped him on the shoulder in 2006 to take over planning and production. And when Dusty taps, heads turn. "He makes you an offer and you don't dare refuse," Avrich says. "It's not that you can't refuse, you don't dare refuse." It was a classic case of when you want a job done, you give it to a busy man – even if the sharp-suited Avrich, 44, looks like the furthest thing from an old sea salt. But the FFF gives him the opportunity to indulge his movie passion completely, which includes a life-long desire to own and operate his own movie theatre. The fact that it's on the water is merely incidental. "I don't look at it as a film festival," he says. "I look at it as running a movie theatre on a boat. Everybody just comes and falls in love in the dark, as you should. It's like family, people talk and it's just great fun, great movies and great food."

It's also a genuine film experience. Avrich makes sure of it, programming a mix of "documentary, foreign, and a couple little Hollywood cherries on the cupcake" designed to appeal to more than just your average multiplex-goer. "The weird thing about running it is that it's a captive audience. They're all film lovers, they're not going anywhere, and you're literally a hero one night, and a schmuck the next." Avrich can already announce one major guest: actor Gena Rowlands, whose career by herself and with her late filmmaker husband, John Cassavetes, will be celebrated. His biggest dream this time? He'd love to world premiere the new Indiana Jones movie, which is currently filming. Will it be ready to sail? More importantly, will the studio let it go? Maybe he should get Dusty to make the call.

Lantos Set To Take On Alliance

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(August 29, 2007) The plot has just thickened in the Canadian film business.
Robert Lantos, Canada's only real movie tycoon, yesterday came riding back into the distribution business.  Suddenly the turf of independent Canadian distributors is getting to be a crowded, confusing field. Lantos announced two new companies, Maximum Films International and Maximum Film Distribution, sending a clear signal that he is going into competition with the dominant Canadian film distributor he helped create.  "My roots are in distribution," he said in a phone interview. "This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a plan that will unfold over time."  Nine years ago he sold Alliance Communications Inc., the film empire he had built. Since then, he has concentrated on producing movies through a boutique company, Serendipity Point Films. Indeed, his two latest productions – Fugitive Pieces and Eastern Promises – will have their premieres next week at the Toronto International Film Festival. Maximum's slate includes several other titles as well, such as Before the Rains, Cold Souls and Jelly Fish.  As well, Lantos has a deal for Canadian rights to Independent Film Channel movies.

Q: Why now?

A: Because Lantos and others sniff a chance while watching for cracks in Alliance, long regarded as an invincible fortress.

Motion Picture Distributors (or MPD) is the former distribution wing of Alliance Atlantis, which earlier this month changed hands. In a deal that sparked outrage among cultural nationalists, MPD was acquired by the U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs, which partnered with Toronto-based EdgeStone Capital Partners in order to comply with Canadian regulations about control of a film company. As usual, Alliance will have more than a score of movies at the Toronto film festival. But at the moment it is not clear who is in charge. Victor Loewy, the former chair of MPD who was ousted a year ago and then brought back as a high-paid consultant, was widely expected to be returned to his former position and to be given equity in the company. But so far EdgeStone and Loewy have not agreed on terms, and instead of an expected announcement there has been silence.  Meanwhile, there was also an announcement yesterday from Entertainment One Ltd. that Patrice Theroux, a veteran film executive formerly aligned with Loewy at MPD, has been named executive director of Entertainment One.

Just weeks ago, one year after he was publicly dismissed by MPD (in a board ambush that triggered Loewy's departure as chair), Theroux emerged as president of Entertainment One's distribution division, Global Filmed Entertainment. And then this company, which was mainly in the business of selling DVDs and video games, became a player in theatrical film distribution by acquiring Seville, which also boasts many movies at TIFF. At the festival, they will all be vying for the attention of foreigners buying and selling movies. Will there be enough room for all these distributors plus others, like Mongrel Media, to survive? There could be, partly because of a wave of private funding flowing into star-driven, non-studio Hollywood pictures.  But according to Daniel Weinzweig, who spent decades in the film distribution business, distributing independent movies theatrically is rarely profitable. "What is more likely driving the current activity," he says, "is the anticipated opportunity of new technology." In the future, a company with thousands of movie titles in its library may rake in a fortune if downloading can be turned into a profitable business. And for Lantos, the distribution business may be just one piece of a second empire, which can eventually be turned into a public company and sold for a huge amount of money, just as his first one was. You could call this saga Robert Then and Now.

When Celebrities Pause For The Cause

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Movie Critic

(August 24, 2007) In the environmental documentary
The 11th Hour, opening today, Leonardo DiCaprio is cast in what is surely one of a Hollywood movie star's most difficult and thankless roles: as the Hollywood star who cares. DiCaprio is not only the movie's narrator but its host, a stupendously familiar face – sometimes lidded by a backward ball cap – who appears in the foreground of environments selected to demonstrate the movie's inescapably alarming thesis that environmental neglect has brought the human species virtually to the doorstep of its own demise.  In his role as the fabulously famous person who presides over the bad news of a world fatally off-kilter, the still puckish-looking star of Titanic, The Aviator and Blood Diamond honours one of the American movie industry's most persistent but perplexing traditions. He's lending his globally familiar face and name to a globally pertinent cause, an exchange of pop culture currency that trades – or attempts to trade – celebrity for consciousness.  In the days when studios rode herd over not only a star's name and image but their public deportment, such transactions were almost unheard of. While it was feasible for liberal-minded stars like Henry Fonda or Gregory Peck to work with directors most likely to make movies that reflected their views, they spoke out publicly at their peril.

The convergence of certain factors in the middle of the last century – World War II, the erosion of studio power, and the blacklisting of suspected leftist "subversives" –brought an end to such convenient discretion. Hollywood's politics came out of the closet and celebrity became openly, if often uneasily, associated with causes. By the 1960s, stars – like Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Kirk Douglas and Sidney Poitier – were making regular appearances at rallies and protests, and the figure of the celebrity activist was born. But as Tom Wolfe's famous denigration of "radical chic" made clear, the mingling of celebrity and activism could be perilous, a posture easily dismissed as a pose, and a source of savage satirical ridicule. Just a few years ago, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the star-baiting creators of South Park, cast Hollywood's most outspoken celebrity activists – Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Matt Damon and Susan Sarandon among them – as spoiled, stupid, irony-deprived wooden puppets with guns in Team America: World Police. Among those least pleased by was Penn, who fired off a famously miffed letter in his defence before boarding a rescue rowboat in post-Katrina New Orleans and taking a jeep tour of Venezuela with President Hugo Chavez. If DiCaprio looks a might sheepish and uncomfortable in certain moments of The 11th Hour – like he's about to be recognized and forced to flee back to the penthouse – it might be because he's got Penn, certainly the biggest butt of snide anti-activist-Hollywood ridicule since "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, on his mind. And who'd blame him? The issue here isn't the sincerity of those who use their stardom in the name of causes they believe in but the ingrained popular cynicism that greets such action.  Personally, I'm always pleased to see a fantastically famous person donating some of that frankly outrageous influence in the name of confronting some real-world issues. But I'm also always aware that whenever a performer appears on camera a performance occurs. All one asks is that it be convincing.

Batman Won't Let Adam West Leave The Bat Cave

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - R.M. Vaughan

(August 24, 2007) When I was six years old, I had a crush on Adam West. No, I was not enduring an early puberty. Like many geeky six-year-olds, I was a Batman fanatic. I had a miniature Batmobile and a Batman Utility Belt, plus a blue plastic cape and cowl. If only I'd left those toys in their original boxes, I'd have enough money for a down payment on a condo. It's tempting to view West's acting career as another shrink-wrapped relic, but he hasn't stopped working since his blue briefs breakthrough and, at 78, he's busier than ever. His oiled, mellow voice is in constant cartoon demand, and he has a regular role on Family Guy, wherein he plays the pervy Mayor Adam West. But Batman won't let Adam West leave the bat cave. His appearance at this weekend's Fan Expo Canada, a comics and sci-fi “genre event” (i.e. nerd fest) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is the talk of the pimply blogosphere. Perhaps West's campy, go-go sixties portrayal of Batman has endured because it was performed with a broad, knowing wink – as a celebration, not deconstruction, of the delicious silliness of the superhero formula. Or maybe it's because his legs looked so very good in tights.

You've thrived post-Batman, but many actors who don capes find it hard to get parts after the costume is put away.

I think it's because I'm just plain stubborn – aside from being hugely talented, very bright, and funny.

After hundreds of gigs, there must be some that you treasure … and a few that you regret.

Well, let me address the latter – there's certainly a handful of really miserable movies. But in each case I went in prepared and tried to bring something fresh and interesting. There are certainly some things that I'm proud of as well – a couple of movies, like The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker and The New Age, and a great comedy pilot I did called Lookwell, co-written by Conan O'Brien.

What happened to that?

It was the favourite at NBC the year it was done, and then the top executives were replaced. But it still plays in theatres when they have “best comedy pilots” nights. It didn't fade away.

You're the only person on the planet to appear on both The Simpsons and its archrival, Family Guy.

I know! Isn't that great! I am so lucky. They must appreciate my sense of the absurd.

When you started working, stars were not as thoroughly scrutinized as they are today. Does the boom in “celebrity news” surprise you?

The only thing I can think of is that because we have such a proliferation of media, young celebrities have to do things that are outrageous. There was a time when I was reported to be, um, I guess, a very … hmm … a man with a lot of stamina. A womanizer and a boozer. But I've got a beautiful wife and wonderful kids, and it's all I can do to keep up with them!

Well, now I have to ask: Please tell me Tallulah Bankhead made a pass at you when she appeared on Batman.

She was very ill at the time. I made her sick! No, she was ill, and I think it was her last show. She sat by herself in the semi-darkness, so I made a point to go over and talk to her and ask her questions. She was terrific to work with, and she had a hell of a background!

Given the amount of TV you've done, I bet you're cashing some hefty residual cheques.

Last week, I got six cents from Bolivia! But I did get a nicer cheque today from Family Guy.

Why do you do these conventions? Don't some of the obsessive fans scare you?

No, not so much, because I have five bodyguards at all times, with automatic weapons.

You can tell me: After working for 60 years, do you ever just phone it in?

Never. I know some actors who send a stand-in when they're not on camera – so, you're not playing to a character they've created, but to some jerk who's just reading lines. That's a lesson to me. I will never leave when someone else is working. I stay on camera.

It's no secret that you've been less than thrilled with the sombre turn of recent Batman films.

(Sighs). I know … they don't want to touch what we did. They have a lot of talent and a lot of money to play around with, but somehow they still miss the mark. What's Batman without fun?

You're almost 80 and you're still doing red-carpet parades, still on the guest list.

I don't know whether I'm on list A or Z, but I'm there! Maybe I bring a little fun to people. Or maybe they just like to laugh and jeer at me.

*****

Particulars

Born  Sept. 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, Washington, as William West Anderson.
First roles  Co-starred with a chimpanzee  in The Kini Popo Show, a 1950s children's TV series, then made the sitcom rounds with visiting roles on shows such as The Real McCoys, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason.
Breakout role  The Batman TV series began  airing in 1966.

Latest moves  Has a recurring role on Family Guy as Mayor Adam West.

Relationship status  Married to Marcelle Lear, his third wife, with whom he shares four children, two from her previous marriage. West also has two kids from his second marriage to Ngatokoruaimatauaia Frisbie Dawson. For the full story.

Read Back to the Batcave, West's autobiography.

Burt Reynolds To Be Honoured In Toronto

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Lee-Anne Goodman, Canadian Press

(August 26, 2007)
Burt Reynolds is heading north from his Hollywood home next week to be feted for his charity work, but don't expect to see the grizzled movie icon on the Toronto International Film Festival party circuit guzzling martinis with George Clooney. "I'd rather be shot in the legs than go to a cocktail party," the typically straight-shooting Reynolds said in a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles. "I'm just not good at those. It's the whole idea of 150 of your closest friends; I don't quite get that. I don't mind George Clooney – I am a huge fan of his, actually, and I would go somewhere with him, but not to a cocktail party." Reynolds is being given a lifetime achievement award on Sept. 10 by Best Buddies Canada for his decades of children's charity work in his native state of Florida and beyond. Best Buddies is an international charitable organization dedicated to fostering friendships between students and people with intellectual disabilities. "I'll do anything for kids that I can do," Reynolds says. "If they ask me to come to an event, and the proceeds go to any kids for anything, I'll do it. There's no end to the organizations you can find."

The actor's charitable side isn't widespread public knowledge, one of the reasons Best Buddies was happy to honour him and bring him to Toronto smack dab in the middle of the film festival as hundreds of celebrities descend upon the city. "We were quite surprised about all the charity work he's done," Daniel Greenglass, chairman of Best Buddies Canada, said in a recent interview. "It's actually nice for us to introduce this to the people who are coming to our event because I think that's something people don't know about him. ... Burt has really been involved for a long, long time in helping promote youth education and various children's causes." In his 40 years in the public eye, in fact, Reynolds has been better known for his memorable naked centrefold in Cosmopolitan magazine in 1972, high-profile romances with women as diverse as Dinah Shore, Chris Evert and Loni Anderson, and a string of movie roles that made him the No. 1 box office draw from 1978 to 1982. He was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar in 1997 for his role in Boogie Nights but lost to Robin Williams, who took the prize for Good Will Hunting. "I came so close that I almost got halfway out of the seat before I heard the other name," Reynolds remembers with a rueful laugh. "But I don't have any animosity towards Robin Williams – I waved at him – but he swears I shot fingers at him. I swear it was a thumbs-up, but he doesn't believe me."

At 71, Reynolds' legendary swagger is now somewhat muted, and he even describes himself as "an old hen" as he raises 18-year-old Quinton, his son with Anderson of "WKRP in Cincinnati" fame. "He's living with me and it's a comedy of errors; we could probably have done a television series about it," he says. "It's like: 'Why didn't you call me? Where are you going? What are you doing?' But he's just a great kid. I do all the things now that I saw other fathers do that I swore I'd never do – I'm doing it right now, just talking about him this way." Quinton is his only child, but Reynolds' love and concern for children stem back to his childhood, when he insisted his parents, the chief of police in Riviera Beach, Fla., and his Italian wife, adopt a neighbourhood boy from an abusive home. Reynolds is still close to his adopted brother, Jimmy Hooks. "I had two very special parents – I mean how many parents can you bring a kid home and say: 'This is going to be my brother and he's going to live here,"' Reynolds says. "My father went upstairs and just kind of put his hand in the middle of all my clothes and said: 'All of these clothes on this side, Jimmy, are yours and the others are yours, Buddy' – and I thought maybe this wasn't a such good idea after all," he recalls with a chuckle. "But he was a great brother and he still is." Reynolds is clearly a sentimental softie, especially when asked about his romance with Shore. The late Shore was a genteel southern talk show host in the 1970s who was 20 years his senior. It was a puzzling match that captivated the media at the time, the equivalent of, say, Brad Pitt going out with Barbara Walters.

"I was really smitten with her, she had everything," Reynolds wistfully recalls, adding he still thinks about Shore. "She was a grown-up and she had such class. I used to say if you asked her about Hitler, she'd say he was a good wallpaperer – she had nothing unkind to say about anyone, ever." For now, the still-handsome Reynolds – he laughs when he's reminded he was once one of Hollywood's biggest hunks and that he's holding up well – is alone, saying he's getting too old to get out there and sell himself to women. "I think it's probably good because it lets me have a lot more time with my son," he says. "You get up to a certain age and, I don't know, I can't put any signs in the paper that I'm available." Canada, however, may present some opportunities. "I am coming to Toronto soon, and someone said to me just last night that you're not allowed into Canada unless you're a nice person. So that could be a great place to find a lady."

Dakota Goyo Reaches For The Stars

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Entertainment Reporter

(August 24, 2007)
Dakota Goyo's recent eighth birthday party will be a hard one to top: a red carpet Hollywood party and the premiere of Resurrecting the Champ (which opens today) in which he has his first major film role. "How am I going to beat that next year? There'll be no Chuck E. Cheese, that's for sure," said proud mom Debra Goyo, a former model/singer who also manages the careers of her two older sons, Dallas, 13, and Devon, 11. Dakota was looking forward to reuniting with castmates Josh Hartnett, who plays his sportswriter father, Kathryn Morris, who plays his mother, and Samuel L. Jackson who plays the homeless washed-up boxing "Champ" of the title. "I'm really happy that I'll see (the other actors) again. But when the movie's over, you're like so sad that you have to leave," said Dakota. Oldest brother Dallas, whose interest in acting has waned with the onset of puberty, had another reason for wanting to attend the Hollywood party earlier this week. "I can't wait to see Cameron Diaz," Dallas said.

Reminded that the blond beauty is currently dating Mindfreak magician Criss Angel, Dallas replied nonchalantly: "I can make him disappear." Attending a Hollywood premiere seems exciting enough for young Dakota but there's yet another premiere in his future. Emotional Arithmetic – starring Susan Sarandon, Roy Dupuis, Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow – which he filmed last fall in Quebec's Eastern Townships just after completing Resurrecting the Champ – has been selected to close the Toronto International Film Festival next month. In the past year, Dakota also had a role in a TV pilot called Ultra, which wasn't picked up by a network, and had to turn down other projects. Why the sudden demand for a cherubic blond boy with a shy smile and a dimpled cheek? "I just think (Dakota) had a really great year last year," offered Debra Goyo. Dakota has been appearing in commercials since a very young age and seems to take to the cameras like a fish to water. Debra, who preps her sons for roles, said the life of a stage mom isn't as easy as it looks. "I'm not sure everybody understands the amount of work that goes into it. They think it's really quite easy and it's not. It's a lot of long hours, a lot of night shoots ... a lot of preparing Dakota for auditions and learning really long scripts. It's not easy and at one point, (Dakota) wasn't reading yet," she said.

The family is also careful about what projects Dakota takes on. "I'm pretty particular about the contents of the (scripts). I want him to grow up and be proud of the work he's done," Debra added. Director Rod Lurie saw hundreds of youngsters to find an actor to play Teddy in Resurrecting the Champ and still wasn't happy. When a last-minute audition tape of Dakota arrived, Lurie immediately asked that he come to Calgary, where the initial filming began. "They went for a walk together and they didn't come back for quite a while. And (Lurie) said to me right then, `This is the kid I want,'" Debra recalled. Dakota had an on-set tutor during filming – as required by union rules – his own trailer and even a chair with his name on it. Debra said her son was particularly interested in watching the playbacks of the scenes he had just filmed, loved to play chess with director Lurie and got a piggyback ride to the set every day from Hartnett, part of the bonding experience that made their father-son scenes in the film seem so genuine and heartfelt. Dad David Goyo, who said he's getting used to playing Mr. Mom, pointed out returning home from the film shoot requires a bit of a cooling-off period for a young actor used to being treated like a movie star on set.

"It takes about a week adjustment period. On the set, everything is always given to (actors) and done for them," he said. But Debra insists that Dakota won't be allowed to let fame go to his head. "When he's home, he's Dakota. He still has his chores, he has to make his bed every morning. He has to keep his marks at a certain place. If he doesn't do well in school, he doesn't get to act," she said. There are some perks that come with acting: Dakota has an ATV, a dirt bike and a horse named Tess, which is boarded at a nearby stable. "Some of my friends say, `That's very cool.' I want to keep acting. I'll be acting probably until I get a lot older," said Dakota, who also thinks he might one day be a director. Still, Debra said, his schoolmates help to keep him humble. "Dakota has a tendency to sing during class at school ... while he's doing his work. It's really cute because some of the little girls get really annoyed and they'll say, `Dakota, when are you making a movie again?'" she said with a laugh.

Josh Hartnett: More Than A Heartthrob

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Bob Strauss

(August 24, 2007) LOS ANGELES — An argument can be made that Josh Hartnett should have Brad Pitt's reputation. Like that other incredibly handsome actor, Hartnett has worked with some of the most respected filmmakers in the industry, balanced commercial projects with more challenging independents and dated some of Hollywood's most beautiful women (although, unlike Pitt, Hartnett keeps his love life as out of the spotlight as he can). Yet the tall, 29-year-old Minnesotan's career is defined more by personal satisfaction than by star status. While he seems content with that, Hartnett also acknowledges that he could really relate to Erik Kernan, the prestige-hungry reporter he plays in his latest movie, Resurrecting the Champ. "People believe in my potential. But for a long time, journalistically, I've taken my lumps," Hartnett shrugs under a mane of floppy brown hair. "People, for whatever reason, haven't liked what I've done - or, in my opinion, have not paid attention to the films that I've done my best work in or the films that have made a lot of money. So I think I can understand where he's coming from, being a guy who looks like he has great promise, but in certain areas of his life may not be fulfilling it." Hartnett tried to walk away from the soulless kinds of projects (Pearl Harbor, 40 Days and 40 Nights) studios were offering for movies with more artistic potential. But that project didn't quite pan out when the likes of The Black Dahlia and Wicker Park were critically savaged.

In Resurrecting the Champ, Erik stumbles on a dream human-interest story when he funds a former, presumed-dead boxer (Samuel L. Jackson) living on the street. He sees it as his ticket out of hack sportswriting into big-league journalism, but it doesn't turn out the way he wishes. "He's definitely a much clearer case," Hartnett says of the role. "I've been extremely lucky in my career. I've worked with some great people and have amazing opportunities to ... I try to tell myself not to say amazing so much! Sometimes, I overemphasize. But I hope that my career continues on this path." Hartnett's enthusiasm tends to be reciprocated by those who work with him. "When Josh has had demands on him, he's very good," says Champ director Rod Lurie (The Contender), who filmed the Denver-set movie in Calgary. "I saw how well he did in Mozart and the Whale [a theatrically unreleased feature in which the actor played a high-functioning autistic man] and ... in Lucky Number Slevin and The Virgin Suicides. And he's such a sincere guy ... that you really realize that he's capable of giving extraordinary performances." Hartnett does put a lot of thought into his work. Consider how he approached Erik, a sometimes unlikable character who could easily have been made more sympathetic by playing up his devoted-dad side. "We did not want this movie to skew too sentimental," he says. "I can't stand syrup in films. The character is flawed and he's also trying to do the right thing, but he's not doing it in the right way. He really struggles, and I just tried my hardest to play him the way I that I assumed he would be in life and not try to go for emotional impact in every scene if it didn't ring true."

While he enjoyed playing father to young Toronto actor Dakota Goyo, the actor says it hasn't put him in a family state of mind. "Y'know, you've got to find the right person to start the family with first," says Hartnett, who dated Dahlia co-star Scarlett Johansson for a while and has been, accurately or not, linked to several other leading ladies since they broke up late last year. "I haven't found that person yet, so we'll see. At some point ... I've always wanted to have kids. But there's no rush. I'm only 29." Don't know whether that's good or bad news to the actor's legion of female fans. Here's a tip, ladies: If you ever meet Hartnett, don't tell him that you go to all of his movies just to look at him. Even if that's true. "Well, hopefully, if they see the movies, they'll like what I do as well," Hartnett says with a laugh. "All actors are kind of pigeonholed by their appearance and voice and everything like that. I would say that it helped me get my foot in the door, the way that I looked. But since then, it's been difficult to get people to take me seriously as an actor.  "But at the same time, I have nothing to complain about. I'm doing the movies that I want to do. ... So I just have to keep going with my gut and see what happens." Hartnett could not sound more pleased with his upcoming slate of movies, which includes the Arctic horror film 30 Days of Night, the dot.com business drama August and an Asian action thriller, I Come with the Rain. Whether they're critical or commercial hits really doesn't appear to concern him much. "For me it's about whether everybody involved really enjoyed making the film," Hartnett says. "It's a great bonus when critics like it, it's a great bonus when audiences like it - and of course, audiences are who we make it for, so that's a big thing.  "But I've been proud of a lot of movies that I've made recently. They were actually quite difficult to get off the ground, and I made them with people who have real artistic integrity and are trying to do something new."

Julianne Moore Sees Her Way To A Little Bit Of Sanity

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(August 25, 2007) The blond hair was her idea.  Renowned redhead
Julianne Moore was preparing to play a character called Doctor's Wife in the film adaptation of Blindness, currently shooting at the (now-defunct) Ontario Reformatory in Guelph, an hour or so west of Toronto. Moore had read the script by Don McKellar, as well as the prize-winning novel by Jose Saramago, so she knew the story well. She knew that it begins when a mysterious, highly contagious virus renders people blind. "No pain. A sea of white," as one character puts it.  That the government quarantines the sick, but civilization breaks down when the guards and officials go blind, too.  That her character is immune, but keeps her sightedness a secret so that she can stay with her husband, Doctor (Mark Ruffalo), and their makeshift family, including Dark Glasses (Alice Braga, niece of actress Sonia Braga), Man with Black Eye Patch (Danny Glover), Receptionist (Susan Coyne) and Woman with Insomnia (Martha Burns). Sandra Oh plays Minister of Heath, and McKellar himself plays Thief. Moore also knew that as time passes, Doctor's Wife comes to feel increasingly isolated. "She'd almost rather be blind," the actor said last week, over lunch in her trailer in the prison's parking lot. "The last thing anybody wants to be is different. So I thought red hair would make her look too strong, too different.  "And blond is about leisure, money, maintenance. I was adamant about it." She laughs. "And what doctor's wife have you ever known who hasn't been blond?"

Any good actress will plan her character's look. But not many would have the conviction to dye her hair without first getting the approval of her director - in this case, the Brazilian-born Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener). "She sent me an e-mail to avoid the shock," Meirelles tells me later, chuckling. "But it's really working well. We gave her a wardrobe that's the same colour as her skin and her hair, so she's like a pale angel." Moore certainly stands out in the prison, a depressing location to begin with, made worse by the filth lining the halls. "Usually in films the garbage is tattered," Meirelles says, "but in the images from the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, all the litter was new - backpacks, CD players, shoes. So that's what we used here." Not to mention the human waste heaped in corners and smeared on the walls. ("Have you seen the chocolate pooh?" Martha Burns asks. "They put out fresh piles every few days.")  "But Julianne herself is very down to earth," Meirelles continues. "She's the anti-star. There hasn't been a single second of complaining or asking for quiet. It's always, 'Let's do it,' and 'Let's do it again.' She's a joy." Moore sure lines up for her lunch like everybody else, piling her tray with salad, grilled vegetables, a hunk of salmon, and then more vegetables stir-fried with tofu.  "Oh, Julianne, I just saw one of your movies on the plane, the one with Nicolas Cage?" says the actress ahead of her in line, referring to the action-adventure pic Next. "Oh, I never saw that one," Moore says. Her nose wrinkles slightly.

The atmosphere inside her trailer is the polar opposite of the set: clean, giggly, and crawling with two nannies, three children (Moore's son Cal, 9, and daughter Liv, 5 - the spitting image of her mama - plus, for a bit, Ruffalo's son, Keen, 6), and one dog, Moore's black Lab. Copies of the children's book Moore just wrote (due out this fall), Freckleface Strawberry, lie on the table. (The title, and everything the kids in the book say about freckles - including "You look dirty" and "Can I smell them?" - are things other children said to Moore when she was young.) Her kids babble about their morning, beg for chips and pop (denied), then go off: Liv to have her nails polished by the film's makeup artist, Cal to play soccer with the crew. Moore and family - her husband, director Bart Freundlich, who is shooting a TV project, comes and goes - are renting a house in nearby Kitchener, complete with pool and swing set, a far cry from their chic townhouse in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. The kids take swimming and tennis lessons, and Liv has already announced that she wants to live here forever. "It's paradise because of all the amusement parks," Moore says. "Wonderland, Centre Island, African Lion Safari, Bingemins Water Park - have you been there? We've been there." She laughs. "We've hit them all!" She's a regular at the Conestoga Mall, and has visited the Kitchener Farmer's Market and the one in tiny St. Jacob's. "We went to the Mennonite Museum, and I forced the kids to go to the broom store," Moore says. "My son said" - here she adopts the tone of an indignant nine-year-old - " 'I feel like we're doing a lot of things that you want to do.' I said, 'You're right, and if I were really mean, I'd make you go to the quilt store, too.' They were like, 'Noooo, Mommm!' But it was okay, because they both got horseshoes."

The kids keep Moore from taking the grimness of the Blindness story home. "I can't even take it to lunch, as you saw," she says. "And honestly, it's great. Having kids forces you to compartmentalize. And I couldn't be away this long without them. We're all too miserable.  "I'm so fortunate, because every working parent is looking for some kind of flexibility. I also think it's good to show them that work isn't something you have to disappear into; it's part of your life." On set, she keeps sane by making a lot of jokes. "Everyone does," she says. "In one scene, we were burying a body, and Alice got her heel stuck and started laughing - shaking with laughter, but it was okay, because it looked like she was sobbing. People are serious, but they're not precious about it. You can't be. "It's especially nice to be telling a story that has so much content," she continues. "I think it's what we need right now, stories about people who take responsibility. I keep thinking about what everybody's going through in Iraq, and how cavalier the President of the United States is. It's shocking. How does he sleep? Honestly, how does he sleep?" Working on this film, Moore often wonders what she'd be like in an extreme situation. "I don't know if I'd be noble," she says. "My first thought would be my husband, children, dog, everyone who was just in my trailer. After that, I don't know." The production will leave Guelph soon, and head to South America. Moore will detour back to New York to get Liv settled in kindergarten at the same neighbourhood school where Cal goes. And the actor's ready to be a redhead again.  "Personally, I hate being blond," she says. "It's not who I am." And talk about grim: "Now they're even darkening my roots."

Selected films
Children of Men (2006)
Freedomland (2006)
Laws of Attraction (2004)
The Hours (2002)
Far from Heaven (2002)
Hannibal (2001)
Magnolia (1999)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Boogie Nights (1997)
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Nine Months (1995)
Short Cuts (1993)

FILM TIDBITS

Don't Sell Canada Short; Sell It With Short

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(August 24, 2007)
Martin Short, one of Canada's funniest exports, may be just the man to illustrate this country's humour to foreigners. That's what Disney and the Canadian Tourism Commission believed when they asked the Hamilton native to narrate a new film for the Canada Pavilion at Epcot Center in Florida. "I haven't even seen it," Short admitted in an interview yesterday. "I know I play different characters ... I know at one point I play a cowboy and a guy from Cirque du Soleil. They are all little vignettes talking about different aspects of Canada." Disney's hope is Short's exuberant yet self-deprecating humour, as well as up-to-date images, will help cast off the country's image as the hokey, snow-covered northern neighbour to the U.S., as shown in the O Canada! movie that was seen by tourists up until this summer. The 1982 film showcased fishermen, Mounties, the Snowbirds and the CN Tower. But over the years, the footage looked embarrassingly dated and the Canadian Tourism Commission started to receive complaints. "We got a lot of complaints from Canadians who said `I don't think this is reflective of Canada. We're not just about geese. We're not about flannel jackets and we're definitely not about just great, wide open landscapes,'"said Gisele Danis. Short said the new film will definitely give people a more realistic view of Canada.  "There is a montage of all the kinds of, I guess, celebrity lights that have come from Canada 'cause it is an unusually disproportionate number when you think of it."  The film will also feature new music by last year's Canadian Idol, Eva Avila.

Timberlake in ‘Love’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 24, 2007) *
Justin Timberlake will join “Weeds” star Romany Malco, Verne Troyer and Jessica Alba in the new Mike Myers comedy "The Love Guru.” As previously reported, Myers plays Pitka, an American who was left at the gates of an Indian ashram as a child and raised by gurus. After moving back to the U.S., he gains fame in the world self-help and spirituality. He attempts to settle a dispute between hockey star Darren Roanoke (Malco) and his estranged wife. After the split, Roanoke's wife starts dating Grande (Timberlake), threatening her husband's career. Alba plays Jane Bullard, the team's owner, while Troyer plays Coach Cherkov. The Paramount Pictures/Spyglass Entertainment film opens June 20, 2008, and will begin shooting next month in Toronto.

Jamie Foxx Joined By Robert Downey Jr. In ‘Soloist’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(August 29, 2007) *
Robert Downey Jr. has signed on to star opposite Jamie Foxx in “The Soloist,” a fact-based drama about a world class violinist who ended up homeless on L.A.’s Skid Row. As previously reported, Foxx will play Nathaniel Ayers, the homeless man whose music career was derailed when he developed schizophrenia and could not continue.  Downey has been cast as Steve Lopez, the Los Angeles Times columnist who discovered Ayers.  Through his columns written about the musician, Lopez developed a close relationship with Ayers that changed both their lives.  The DreamWorks film is based on Lopez's columns, as well as a book he wrote that will be published by Putnam next spring.

 

::TV NEWS::

Is Saturday Night Live Alive And Kicking?

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Television Critic

(August 25, 2007) Is
Saturday Night Live back from the dead? Or has it become a tired and toothless anachronism with one foot in the grave? The answers are yes and no – to both questions. Over more than three decades, the venerable late-night institution has had its peaks and its valleys, its ebb and flow, the best of times invariably followed by the worst. This would appear to be an era of upswing, a period of rebirth, with a fresh, young, hungry, pared-down cast, and a modern, multi-platform mentality that has given the show a renewed vitality and currency. On the other hand ... the format is dated and too-often imitated, half the cast is still essentially anonymous, the sketches still tend to go on way too long, the music acts are too slick and polished and the guest hosts are, more often than not, hypnotically fixated on the off-camera cue cards. All of the indications – pro and con – are contained within tonight's compilation special, The Best of Saturday Night Live, 2006-2007 (Global/NBC, 11:30 p.m.), which will immediately (okay, Tuesday) become available on DVD, exclusively at Starbucks outlets. The show is, in many ways, a victim of its own success. In the beginning, the mid-1970s, Saturday Night Live was the sole comic voice of a new generation, an ironic, anarchic, balls-out sensibility that quickly seeped into – and eventually took over – mainstream popular culture. It was an entirely different landscape then. There were three major American TV networks (cable was then still years away), and almost nothing on them of interest to baby boomers – then coming out of college in unprecedented numbers – but silly sitcoms and vapid variety shows. SNL not only ushered in a new comic sensibility, but a growing pantheon of young, hip comedy superstars.

And it has continued to do so. Problem is, in this new, highly competitive world of multi-tiered channel choices and niche-market cable and broadband and downloads and DVD and podcasts ... the marquee value and duration of that stardom is considerably diminished.  I mean, do we really ever need to see another Deuce Bigalow movie, or Eddie Murphy kiddie comedy, or anything in which Will Ferrell takes off his shirt? There are exceptions, of course. Mike Myers and Adam Sandler still seem to be golden. Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd (and, for that matter, Murphy) have been nominated for Oscars. The show may no longer be "appointment television," but the interest is apparently still there – to a point. Enough to sustain former head writer Tina Fey's SNL-centric sitcom, 30 Rock (not coincidentally produced by her old boss, SNL's Toronto-born creator/producer, Lorne Michaels). But not enough to get more than a handful of people to watch Aaron Sorkin's similarly inspired hour, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. "It was a bigger thing in the media than it was ... in our lives," Michaels shrugs at the SNL leg of the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. "We're just totally focused on what we're doing that Saturday. But (Sorkin) put himself in a difficult position, doing a drama about a comedy show." Meanwhile, back in the real world, SNL's next season (starting Sept. 29) has the potential to be its best in years. "Obviously, we have a way smaller cast," allows Seth Meyers, Fey's replacement as head writer and Weekend Update anchor. "And, you know, I think we've been getting accustomed to how much responsibility that put on all of our shoulders.

"But we had a really nice Christmas run ... I think right before the Christmas break, we did three in a row like that, and I think there was a real sense that we were coming together." "I do think it coalesced around that time," agrees Michaels. "Somewhere in the November-December area ... it jumped up a level." And then almost immediately jumped back down. But, as Michaels has become tired of constantly having to point out, the show has always been somewhat cyclical. "You just don't know," he concedes. "I mean, it's like knitting any group together until you've worked together a little bit. In our world, fatigue is your friend. The more you do it and the more you get into it ... it's like playing a season in a sport – you just get better.  "Out of the boredom of having done something already and not being able to face the others with the same idea, you're forced into new characters, new ideas. You know, you just sense that that moment is over and now on to something else. Also, we're coming into an election year, and that's a big part of what we do." But it's that "something else" that may prove to be the key – in his last major hiring blitz, in 2005, Michaels saw the potential of Internet-driven comedy and hired on three of its pre-eminent talents, Andy Samberg and his partners Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, known collectively as The Lonely Island. He put Samberg on-camera and his pals in the writers' room, and was almost immediately rewarded with the unprecedented success of their second digital short ever, "Lazy Sunday," an ode to an afternoon matinee of Chronicles of Narnia performed by Samberg and Chris Parnell, which scored 5 million hits on YouTube before being pulled by NBC Universal.

The impact of that clip continues to resonate, bolstered by last season's "Dick in a Box," a crooning love song about ... well, you read the title ... written and performed by Samberg and favoured guest host Justin Timberlake. "That was huge," nods Michaels, unintentionally punning. "Well, I think it was huge. "It literally happened on the Friday. There wasn't going to be (a digital short that week), but I was insistent ... "  "Yeah," confirms Samberg, "you forced us." "I insisted that there should be one, and one appeared. I remember seeing you in the hall on Friday," Michaels turns to him, "and you had just finished the song ... "  "Because, originally, on Thursday," Meyers adds, "all you had was `Box' ..."  Kidding aside, it is the immediacy, and not just the medium, that has propelled the SNL digital shorts to the cutting edge of comedy. "We usually come up with them at the 11th hour," Samberg says. Not that the medium should be underestimated – to that end, the show has a redesigned website, complete with a backstage video blog hosted by cast member Fred Armisen. But Michaels has stopped short of the network's on-again, off-again plan to webcast, or perhaps even broadcast, a full-fledged behind-the-scenes SNL "reality" show. "There were a lot of serious talks about two years ago," he reveals, "and I went to every one of those meetings. But we're not American Idol. Not everything has to be opened up to the public. And I think that our process, which is a very intense one ... there's a strong level of trust.  "You can take risks without being observed. But you want the process to stay so people can take chances. And that's the real power of the show, that you can go from blank page to on the air in 24 hours."

They Make Saturday Nights Come Alive

1. Darrell Hammond
Florida-born impressionist is the longest-running SNL cast member at 12 years and counting. Also holds the record for most on-air impersonations — currently approaching 100 — and for opening the show with “Live, from New York .....” Hammond’s frighteningly accurate impressions include Bill Clinton, Chris Matthews, who is apparently his best pal, Sean Connery and Donald Trump.

2. Amy Poehler
Poehler has the most extensive practical sketch experience, having started at Boston College with the country’s oldest collegiate comedy ensemble, My Mother’s Fleabag. A veteran of Second City Chicago, she went on to TV’s Upright Citizen’s Brigade.

Best-loved SNL character: A tough call, but I’d opt for the hyperactive tweener, Kaitlin.
Best impressions: Kelly Ripa, Michael Jackson and Dakota Fanning. Married since 2003 to Toronto’s Will Arnett.

3. Kenan Thompson
Born in 1978 in Atlanta, he is the first SNL cast member ever hired who is younger than the show itself. With the departures of Finesse Mitchell and Horatio Sanz, Thompson now does double duty as token black guy and token fat guy.  Demonstrating an unlikely knack for drag comedy, his impersonations include Star Jones and Mrs. Butterworth. Popular  character: DJ Dynasty Handbag.

4. Jason Sudeikis
Sudeikis was a founding member of Second City Las Vegas. Initially hired as a staff writer, he’s joined the company as a utility player — for example, the male half (with Kristin Wiig) of “The Two A-Holes” — and has taken over from Forte as resident George W. Bush impersonator. Other impressions include American Idol’s Taylor Hicks and Simon Cowell. A nephew of Cheers actor George Wendt, he had a
recurring role in 30 Rock’s first season.

5. Andy Samberg
Reunited in 2001 with Berkeley, Calif., high-school pals Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone to form The Lonely Island, a comedy troupe/website specializing in comic viral videos. Notable signature “digital shorts” since being hired by SNL include “Lazy Sunday” with Chris Parnell, Natalie Portman’s gangsta rap and “Dick in a Box” with Justin Timberlake. His film debut Hot Rod opened to a disappointing $5 million (U.S.) and change.

6. Fred Armisen
Long Island-born writer/actor is part German, part Japanese and part Venezuelan (which parts are which, he’s not telling). Former drummer with the punk band Trenchmouth and the Chicago franchise of Blue Man Group. Specializes in ethnic and off-the-wall characters like racist, hearing-impaired comedian Ritchie B. Stand-out impression: a spacey, petulant Prince. Will write a blog for the revitalized SNL website.

7. Bill Hader
Performed with L.A. Second City, moving on to the indie sketch troupe Animals from the Future, where he was discovered by Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally.

Best recurring characters: Italian talk-show host Vinny Vendecci and Andy Samberg’s sidekick in the “Laser Cat” shorts. Specializes in difficult but dead-on impressions like Al Pacino, Vincent Price and Michael Richards.

8. Kristen Wiig
Born in Rochester, N.Y., the most recent addition to the cast honed her craft at L.A.’s Empty Stage Comedy Theatre and The Groundlings. Razor-sharp characterizations include “The Target Lady,” the female “A-Hole” and Update movie critic Aunt Linda. Equally impressive impressions include Nancy Pelosi, Megan Mullally, and Judy Garland. Made a memorable character cameo in the hit movie comedy Knocked Up.

9. Will Forte
A former member of the L.A. sketch troupe The Groundlings. Also a former sitcom writer/producer and cartoon voice actor. Recurring characters: The Falconer and hopelessly inept politician Tim Calhoun. Impressions: Former impersonator of supreme authority figures George W. Bush and Lorne Michaels. Wrote and stars in forthcoming feature, The Solomon Brothers, alongside Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader.  

10. Maya Rudolph
The daughter of singer Minnie Ripperton, whom she lost to cancer at age 7. Co-starred with schoolmate Gwyneth Paltrow in Duets. A keyboardist and singer with The Rentals and former Groundling. She took maternity leave in 2005. Her specialty is musical comedy — for example, her recent hilarious fracturing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Impressions include Donatella Versace, Whitney Houston  and Christina Aguilera.

11. Seth Meyers
Now ensconced as SNL’s official head writer, a position he shared with Tina Fey before her departure to 30 Rock. He has also replaced her on the Weekend Update anchor desk, alongside Amy Poehler. His sketch experience comes from as far away as Amsterdam, where he performed with an improv troupe called Boom Chicago. He is writing an SNL spin-off feature, Key Party.

A Bounty Hunter's Dogged Rise To The Top

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Entertainment Columnist

(August 26, 2007) As the saying goes, every dog has his day. But for a larger-than-life cult hero like
Duane "Dog" Chapman, nothing less than a week will do. One week out of an exceptional, extreme, outrageous, highly unlikely life – the current events of which are chronicled weekly on his hit reality show Dog the Bounty Hunter, now going into its fifth successful season on A&E.  A week in which the Dog's page-turner of an autobiography, You Can Run, But You Can't Hide, raced to the very top of the New York Times bestseller list like a fleeing fugitive with the entire Chapman clan following hard on its heels. "I'm still in shock," the burly bounty hunter marvels. "I mean, I was always a legend in my own mind, but this ... I am very pleased and very proud about what's happening in my life."  Just as his growing public is clearly fascinated by the life that has brought him to this point – and his unshakeable underlying faith, nurtured as a Bible-toting boy by his mother and disciplinarian dad in Denver, Colo., and re-embraced as a shattered young man upon his release from prison for a murder he did not commit. All of which – and so much more – is related in the book.

"There's stuff in there I never told my mother," Dog, 54, confides. "I had to wait until she was gone to write it. She would have been all, `Ohhhh, Duane!' ..." The book would appear to be just as big a hit in Canada, judging by the turnout at Thursday's signing event here at Indigo – the 300 pre-ordered copies were sold out before his plane even touched down, and an additional 700 or so were gone in the space of a couple of hours. "The guys at the store were saying, `You're more popular than Santa Claus!' And I'm like, `Yeah, 'cause the Jews like me too.'" Everybody loves the Dog. Indeed, the morning I spent with him, he could not walk more than three feet in any direction without someone stopping him to gush or shake his hand or ask him to pose for a photo. And to all of them, even those he reluctantly declined, he was beyond polite and pleasant – the man just exudes warmth, charm and sincerity. Which somehow seems all the more remarkable when you consider his chequered past as a biker, a brawler, a drinker and drug dealer, serial womanizer, thief, convict, criminal ... Which, technically, I guess, he still is. Still dogging the Dog are charges stemming from his defining 2003 apprehension – one of thousands to date – of Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, who fled to Mexico, skipping out on $1 million bail. The famous takedown, faithfully captured on videotape (the two-man crew was also arrested and immediately released) led directly to the bounty hunter getting his own show. And being arrested himself, for violation of Mexican extradition laws. And then again, about 11 months ago – ironically, for jumping his own bail – by U.S. officials at his home in Hawaii.  Luster, meanwhile, was convicted in absentia on 86 charges involving the drugging and rape of three women. He is serving a 124-year sentence.

Justice served. Or so you might think, particularly in light of the fact that, just last week, a Mexican judge threw out all charges against Dog and his boys ... only to have, just a few days later, the U.S. Office of Internal Affairs issue an order not to release the bond until they have more time to "study the case." Which won't be until the appropriate U.S. magistrate gets back from vacation in late October. Like I said, it's been quite the week. But the Dog somehow remains philosophical. "I'm gonna make it," he grins, showing pearly-white, appropriately fang-like canines. "That's just my life, ya know? Always has been. Up and down. "I'm not worried. I'm in good hands. I've got a judge who is just smart enough to say, `Now wait a damn minute ... let's just stop, and take this all nice and slow ...'  "I would have done the same thing. It's been written elsewhere that I'm upset he's on vacation. Hell, if I were in the middle of a bounty hunt and it was my time to take a vacation, I would go."  Not that there is much chance of that. Or, for that matter, the possibility of retirement.  Given the sorry state of the U.S. justice system, the Dog believes there may one day be a place for him "in the political arena." "They say you can't teach an old Dog new tricks," he winks. "We'll see."

Holly Hunter Is TV's Latest Hard-Living Heroine

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(August 24, 2007) Life begins after 40 for women on TV today - if they know how to play rough. In recent years, the most interesting roles in TV drama have consistently gone to veteran actresses with lengthy film résumés and the ability to convincingly assume a fearsome female persona. Meet the new breed of sexy beasts. The tough-cookie trend kicked off three years back with the unexpected breakout success of The Closer, a gritty cable series in which the fragile-looking fortysomething actress Kyra Sedgwick played against type as a very tough-talking lady interrogator who really was smarter than all the boys in the room.  Not long after came the critically lauded Showtime series Weeds, with Mary-Louise Parker, 42, playing a savvy soccer mom and widow who turns to the pot business to pay the mortgage. You go, girl. More recently, the TNT series Damages starred 60-year-old film fixture Glenn Close as a ferocious New York litigator who orders the killing of a witness's dog in the pilot episode. These sisters are doing it for themselves!  The bar for playing it tough is raised a notch in the genre's newest arrival: Saving Grace (Monday, Showcase at 10 p.m.), which stars film actress Holly Hunter as Oklahoma City police detective Grace Hanadarko, a morally bankrupt cop touched by the hand of God. "I've never played anyone like her before," says Hunter, winner of a Best Actress Oscar in 1993 for her role in The Piano. "She's an original creature."

She's also a character in need of spiritual guidance. Hunter delivers an intense portrayal of a good cop with bad habits. Although Grace has a stellar arrest record, years on the job have turned her into a hard-drinking woman of questionable virtue; the series opens with the character having wild sex with her married partner and not feeling the least bit guilty about it. "Grace is very at home with chaos," says Hunter, 49, "and she creates most of her own chaos along the way." And then one fateful night, while speeding home - drunk - in her black Porsche, Grace runs down a pedestrian and begs God to save the man's life.  Her plea prompts the abrupt appearance of a tobacco-chewing guardian angel with a southern drawl, named Earl (Leon Rippy), who sits atop a growling Harley and asks the suddenly sober Grace, "You ready to turn your life over to God?" And Earl informs Grace that her new mission is to spread the word. The lapsed-Catholic Grace is naturally sceptical and resumes her boozing ways, but is shaken when she identifies her roadkill as a local prison inmate, who killed a person while drunk driving and is on death row for murdering a guard. And he's still in his cell. Grace gets the message. The set-up episode might cause some viewers to believe they've stumbled upon another feel-good ecumenical TV drama, - Grace's best work place pal (Laura San Giacomo) is a fervently religious forensics expert - but Saving Grace presents an edgier road to redemption, and through the eyes of a truly troubled soul. Think Leaving Las Vegas meets Touched by an Angel. "I just didn't want anyone else to play this part," Hunter admits. "Anyone who has faith or doesn't have faith or has doubts about their faith could be interested in this show. But it's going to take an open mind."

Currently a hit in the U.S. - last month's debut episode drew nearly nine million viewers, a TNT ratings record - the show splits the title character's ongoing salvation with standard-issue crime stories; the journey begins in the first show, in which Grace locates a missing girl, with a little assistance from Earl. But it's a gradual conversion, spread out over 13 episodes, and Grace is never promised a ticket to heaven.  Darkly intense, and far from preachy, Saving Grace has garnered Hunter the most glowing reviews of her career. While the movie offers are still coming in, she's starting to see the light of working in television. "Could this happen in film? No," she says. "Film doesn't have this kind of character-development opportunity and the chance to live this life with people week after week. It's like repertory theatre."

Writing Music For Instant Star

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Tim Lai, Entertainment Reporter

(August 28, 2007) In a slightly chilly radio studio, songwriter
Luke McMaster is laying some drum beats on a keyboard when his co-writer, Lights, bursts into the room and beelines to a piece of paper that has as many scribbled-out words as legible lyrics. She jots down a few words below the chorus before glowing with a wide smile, one almost too big for her petite frame.  "Bathroom trips are the best because you sit down and ... ," she pauses to uncross her arms and point to her head, "you get so many good ideas."  Lights, real name Valerie Poxleitner, sings the new lyrics to McMaster, who nods in approval.  The song is starting to take shape and fit the scene in which TV character Jude Harrison comes up with a song at her piano.  The pair, along with eight other songwriters, are spending a week holed up at Centennial College's campus at Mortimer and Carlaw Aves. writing original songs for the fourth season of CTV's Instant Star.  Throughout the week, the writers mix and match with one another to get different vibes. The show holds three songwriting camps per season to develop new songs.

Next door, Greg Johnston, Chris Burke-Gaffney and Damhnait Doyle momentarily struggle to rhyme a chorus line in a song about life as a celebrity.  Rob Wells and Christopher Ward, the week's co-ordinator, work on a grand piano in the main hallway of the college. Ward arrives with lyrics, which he hands over to Wells, who – given about 10 to 20 minutes – can hear the melodic line.  Wells plays a melody that sounds like a church hymn and Ward taps his feet, following on his guitar after jotting down the chords. Ward sings along, but a line in the chorus has too many syllables. They find the right word, hit record on their cassette player before heading back to the studio to lay out the tracks.  It's the beginning of the songwriting week and around a large boardroom table sit the musicians and the show's writers and producers at Epitome Pictures.  Executive producer Stephen Stohn tells everyone how well Instant Star is being received in 120 countries, but vents a little about the lack of a consistent schedule on CTV. One episode airs tonight at 8:30 after Canadian Idol; the final two of Season 3 will broadcast this Sunday at 7 and 7:30 p.m. He says the first few episodes of the fourth season are going well and there's more maturing for Harrison, the young starlet played by Alexz Johnson, and the music is adding much texture to the show.

Head writer Tracey Forbes gives an outline of the story arcs that conclude the season. As she talks about ideas – empowerment, independence and the difficulties of relationships – and the tempo that she envisions for these songs, the musicians write down notes.  The songwriters say this show is sometimes easier to write for than themselves or other artists because Jude is a very universal character.  "It's not Ugly Betty, it's not an idiosyncratic character," says Johnston.  Writing music for TV is no longer stigmatized, say these songwriters, who have worked with some multi-platinum artists including Backstreet Boys, Hilary Duff and Nick Lachey.  "Shows like The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy are now making artists," says Johnston. "The music supervisors on those shows are so powerful now, and they can make or break you." Doyle says TV is now the biggest avenue to get music out to the masses as it becomes more important than radio and CD sales. Think about all the catchy tunes you've heard through commercials then downloaded almost immediately.

The smell of barbecued shrimp lingers at Stohn's beachfront home as the songwriters and show writers mingle. After dinner, everyone sits around the family room while Stohn plays the week's CDs.  One by one, the songs bounce off the walls (and an Emmy for Degrassi) and the songwriters bob to the music. Standing in the doorway, Stohn taps his thigh to the beat, even strumming an air guitar on occasion.  "How is it possible that on Monday morning, we had only themes?" he says with a beaming smile.  The song from Johnston, Burke-Gaffney and Doyle is next up. "I can already see Jude singing during some of the montages," Forbes says after a dozen songs are played.  Later in the evening, a small group that includes McMaster and Lights gathers in a theatre room upstairs housing a TV the size of a twin bed. Stohn shows them a rough cut of an early episode in Season 4 in which one of their songs from an earlier camp – a Sgt. Pepper-inspired tune – is used for a number at the end of the show.  "Thanks for doing something so amazing with our song," McMaster says to Stohn. "It's just so satisfying."

Mosque Snubbed For Top TV Award

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - David George-Cosh


(August 29, 2007)
Little Mosque on the Prairie's debut season was a success on many fronts, with viewership in the millions, critical acclaim, worldwide buzz and lucrative foreign distribution deals making it the darling of last year's CBC network programming line-up. But the show won't be recognized by its industry peers this year following a snub by the Gemini nomination committee. Kirstine Layfield, executive director of network programming for CBC Television, said she's not surprised Little Mosque didn't get nominated in the Best Comedy Program or Series category since it's only in its first season - even though it has been one of the more successful CBC shows recently.  "Geminis are great to have and it's nice to have that industry recognition, but to us, the recognition we've gotten from the Canadian people, that's a real measure of success," Layfield said in an interview.  Little Mosque did get two nods in the comedy writing and directing categories, but will have to wait until its sophomore season for another chance at the industry's top honour. Almost all of Little Mosque's 20-episode second season is in the can, with filming to wrap up within the next two weeks. The comedy, created by Zarqa Nawaz, a Canadian Muslim, portrays the lives of Muslims in a post-9/11 small Saskatchewan town. It became an instant success for the CBC, which badly needed a hit show following declining ratings and expanding channel selection with the advent of digital TV. More than two million viewers tuned into its January debut episode following one of the most marketed and hyped promotions in recent network history and the show averaged about one million viewers for the rest of its eight-episode run. The intrigue of a Muslim sitcom based in the prairies drew major interest from overseas, with France's Canal Plus signing a deal to distribute the show in France, Africa and Switzerland.

Layfield added that producers are currently mulling over two competing bids from major U.S. networks, although she wouldn't confirm which networks they were. CBC wasn't entirely shut out of the best-comedy category. The network's classic satirical duo, the Royal Canadian Air Farce and This Hour Has 22 Minutes Series will vie against CTV's Corner Gas, Showcase's Rent-A-Goalie and Comedy Network's Odd Job Jack for a chance to win the iconic brass statuette. The irony of this year's award gala being held in Regina on Oct. 28, and spiritual home for Little Mosque and ratings-rival Corner Gas, is not lost on Layfield, but she feels there's more than enough room on the airwaves for the two comedies. "I think it's fantastic that there's two successful Canadian-scripted comedies. It really is a testament to the talent we have here in Canada," said Layfield. "It's been a very long time since there's been two shows of this calibre getting this kind of attention from the Canadian public." Other shows nominated for Gemini's include: CBC's Intelligence and Jozi-H, Global's ReGenesis, Showcase's Slings & Arrows and CTV's Whistler in the Best Dramatic Series category; and Vision TV's 5 Seekers, CITY-TV's Canada's Next Top Model, HGTV's Design Interns, CBC's Dragons' Den and Global's The Next Great Chef in the Best Reality Program or Series category.

Corner Gas Vies For Gemini Comedy Award

Source:  Canadian Press

(August 28, 2007) TORONTO — The hugely successful CTV sitcom Corner Gas will compete against Royal Canadian Air Farce and This Hour Has 22 Minutes at this year's Gemini Awards, but the much-discussed Little Mosque on the Prairie failed to make the cut for best comedy series.
The Gemini nominations were announced this morning by Corner Gas star Brent Butt. In addition to Air Farce and 22 Minutes, Butt's show will compete in the best comedy series category against Rent-A-Goalie and Odd Job Jack. The nominees for best dramatic series are Intelligence, Jozi-H, ReGenesis, Slings and Arrows and Whistler. The Gemini Awards recognize the best in Canadian television. They will be handed out October 28 in Regina and will air live on the CBC.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Through Bust And Boom, The Royal Alex Has Reason To Celebrate

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Tim Shufelt


(August 27, 2007) The 100th birthday celebration Sunday of Toronto's oldest theatre drew the attention of Canada's dignitaries, business leaders, the arts community - and even the Queen.
The Royal Alexandra Theatre opened its doors for Torontonians to course through the nooks and crannies of the historic building, including the room formerly used to paint sets and now said to be haunted. "It means a great deal to Her Majesty the Queen to know this theatre exists and flourishes in the future," said a statement read aloud before a crowd of hundreds outside the theatre. The occasion was also used to pay homage to the memory and civic patronage of the late Ed Mirvish, who saved the theatre from demolition in 1963 at the behest of his wife, Anne. Ontario's former Lieutenant Governor, Lincoln Alexander, went so far as to declare Toronto "Mirvishtown." Mrs. Mirvish was also in attendance yesterday, wearing the same turn-of-the-century dress she wore for the theatre's 60th anniversary in 1967. "I can't thank Anne Mirvish enough for saying to her husband, 'There's a great big theatre for sale down on King Street, and I want you to get it,' " said Shirley Douglas.

Ms. Douglas last performed at the Royal Alex in The Glass Menagerie with her son, Kiefer Sutherland, in 1997. The first performance in the Royal Alex was a pantomime called Top O' Th' World on Aug. 26, 1907. That night, Torontonians got their first glimpse of the extravagant Beaux Arts building, brimming with ornate marble, crystal, cherry, walnut and silk. A huge ice pit made the Royal Alex the second air-conditioned building in North America. The theatre fell on hard times in the 1950s and '60s, and was slated for demolition until Mr. Mirvish took ownership for $250,000 in 1963. He immediately set about reversing the fortunes of the Royal Alex with his straightforward business sense. "They were only open for 16 weeks [a year]," recalled his son, David.  "My father was a shopkeeper, and he couldn't understand how you could have a shop and not be open every day." After a year of renovation, Ed Mirvish reopened the theatre with a show every week, which helped foster a generation of theatregoers in Toronto, his son said.

"The legacy is not this building, the legacy is the audience," he said, adding that the Royal Alex's design emphasizes the show over the business. "You can't make a lot of money on it, because it's not big seating, but the audience is going to have the best experience of their lives." Camilla Scott has performed more than 2,000 times in the Royal Alex, which she said is favoured by performers for its intimacy and superior acoustics. "You can really feel the audience with you. There's this swell of energy, they go with you in the performance," she said. But every old building has its flaws. "The air conditioning is horrendous," Ms. Scott said.  "When we were doing Mamma Mia! in the dead of summer in long-sleeved satin suits, we would all be dying, it was so hot. By the second show of the day, just sweating buckets."

::OTHER NEWS::

Comic McDowell Goes From Temp To Tops

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(August 29, 2007)
Megan McDowell is a most unlikely winner of Second City's first Next Comedy Legend contest. Before entering earlier this year, McDowell had never done improv or been a member of a sketch troupe. Total number of stand-up performances in her life: one. Nonetheless, the willowy (read: skinny) 26-year-old from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley prevailed over hundreds of others to make it to the final eight. After they shared a loft in Toronto for a couple of weeks, the competition was winnowed down to three and, during last night's airing of the eighth episode, McDowell was unanimously declared the winner by the three-judge panel, which included Second City alumnus Dave Thomas. For McDowell – who has known the outcome for a number of weeks – the best part is: "I don't have to keep this veil of secrecy any longer." McDowell admitted she told her mother on the q.t., but rebuffed the inquiries of other friends and family. "It's helped me develop my poker face," she said. With a degree in theatre from Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., McDowell came to Toronto a little over two years ago and ended up doing boring temp work, a regular staple for actor/artists who are no good at waiting tables.

"I'm a terribly lazy person. I've always wanted to pursue comedy ... but it's very easy just to slip into a routine when you're doing something you don't enjoy," McDowell said. "I was basically waking up every day and wanting the week to be over. I'm just wishing my life away and thinking this is not the way to live," she said. Entering the talent search contest was particularly daunting because Second City focuses on sketch and improv comedy. But McDowell said the finalists all had the benefit of workshops and mentoring from professionals. Living with seven other contenders – parts of which were filmed and aired during the series – was a far cry from the "drama and backstabbing" found in reality-TV series like Big Brother, McDowell said. "You couldn't just be out for yourself because when you're doing improv ... you need to be working with and trusting the people you're onstage with because you need each other. If (you) make them look bad, you make yourself look bad," she said. As winner, McDowell becomes a member of Second City's national touring company. She's already in rehearsals for a Western Canada tour slated to tour in October. "Out of the blue, after so many years of just sitting back ... I suddenly got this comedy ball that's rolling and developing. It's scary but very exciting," McDowell said. "It sounds really cheesy, but you feel like you're actually starting to live your life. You realize that when you finally do take a risk and challenge yourself that this is what your life should be."

Dallas Austin - Pushing It To The Limit

Source: Rachel Golden, The Britto Agency, Rachel@thebrittoagency.com

(August 24, 2007) *New York, NY -- Grammy Award winning producer and songwriter
Dallas Austin will add fashion designer to his already robust résumé with Rowdy, the hit maker's innovative new street couture menswear line.  Over the course of his explosive career, Austin has worked with countless revolutionary artists including Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Michael Jackson, Ciara, Lionel Richie, Bjork, Janet Jackson and Shakira, and throughout his tenure has launched the careers of luminaries like Boyz II Men, ABC and TLC, propelling them to superstardom as the best selling female group of all time.  Now, after years as the creative force behind a myriad of highly successful music and film projects and high profile collaborations, Austin is finally stepping into the spotlight, delivering his midas touch and coveted sense of personal style to the masses.  "I found that there was a lack of men's clothing that spoke to the new generation, so I wanted to fill that void by creating a brand that exemplifies cutting edge style, and a collection that breaks ethnic boundaries," says Austin. Rowdy is primarily a fusion of punk and prep influences, with a distinctive European militant touch. The collection's tagline, "Rowdy, King of All Angels" was inspired by Austin's adopted  philosophy of the fallen angel, who found his own strength after being cast from heaven and transforming himself into a villain of good. After discovering his true warrior within, the angel proved himself to God and became the King of all angels.

Rowdy's debut collection plays of off shades of gray and black, with pops of olive greens and blues. Soft twill flat-front and cargo pants are topped with rugged chain embellishments and drifty pockets. Key pieces of the collection include bomber jackets with a torrent of punk embellishments.  The vintage inspired military jacket with razor- edge seams, channels every fashionista's inner Sid Vicious. "Prep school meets punk" is the feel of Rowdy's take on the classic polo, highly defined with bold color and structure. Rowdy also dips into kicks with sneakers that boast the sparkling Rowdy logo on the heel.  The collection, with pieces ranging from $70.00 to $300.00, was conceived by Dallas Austin and Gregory "Greg Mike" Mensching, Creative Director of the renowned Atlanta based fashion design, consulting and product development powerhouse CI Group. Rowdy will arrive in specialty boutiques and stores throughout the country in January 2008.

Lessons From Diana's Tragic Life

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Lynda Hurst, Toronto Star

(August 26, 2007) For six days after the death of
Princess Diana — six days in which Britain's shock morphed into a mass lament – the Royal Family chose to stay secluded in the Scottish Highlands. It was a monumental error. Whipped up by a ferocious media, the London crowds grew more resentful by the day at their absence: Where were they? Where was the Queen?  Diana was divorced from the Prince of Wales, no longer a Royal Highness. So what? She was the mother of his sons. The marriage had been a sham from the start. Whose fault was that? Not hers. The family may not have been responsible for Diana's appalling death at 36; a lethal mix of paparazzi and a drunken chauffeur had done that. But it was surely the cause of much of her unhappiness in life. Antagonism spread like the sea of flowers around Diana's Kensington Palace home. She was being mourned the world over; couldn't the Windsors show final respect? The royals corrected their misreading of the public mood only at the last possible moment and descended to London en masse at week's end. The night before the funeral, the Queen addressed the nation. She shed no tears but made a surprisingly candid admission.

"I, for one," she said, "believe there are lessons to be drawn from Diana's life and from the extraordinary and moving reaction to her death." Few disagreed. But would anybody learn them? "All my hopes are on William," Diana had told author Tina Brown shortly before her death. "It's too late for the rest of the family." for the 16 years she was inside the House of Windsor, Diana Spencer had been both its biggest blessing and biggest curse. No one could have predicted how much the shy but golden bride of 1981 would rattle the royal scheme of things. However troubled she was in private – and we know now she was deeply troubled, not only by the failure of her marriage but by her own inner demons – Diana had the ability to step outside of herself when in public. Whatever the day's persona – shimmering fashion icon, goddess of compassion or vulnerable victim – her capacity for empathy spoke to ordinary people in ways beyond the royal family's ken.  The Windsors, whose carapaces of reserve seemed to have been bolted on at birth, had always looked down on her touchie-feelie, media-driven popularity. But in the months after Diana's death, advisers from Tony Blair's government made it clear to palace courtiers just how close a call there had been. "The Firm" had survived the national trauma but had a lot of ground to make up.  Still shaken by the hostility they'd experienced that September week, the family responded by setting up a "Way Ahead" committee of senior royals. It would meet regularly to devise ways of becoming (or at least appearing to become) more in touch with the public, more, oh dreaded word, accessible.

No, the Queen wasn't about to start dropping into homeless shelters or AIDS hospices, looking meaningfully into peoples' eyes. The "People's Queen"? Not a chance. But, yes, she would try to smile a little more, try to emulate her own mother's warmly common touch, if not Diana's electrifying charisma. Thus, in 1998, the 72-year-old sovereign was to be found hosting a cocktail party at Windsor Castle for a distinctly down-market set of invitees: the cast of the EastEnders soap opera, a couple of rock groups, actress Joan Collins. Next, she visited a pub for the first time in her life, then a McDonald's, smiling gamely for the photographers. The charm offensive had barely begun, however, before the press and public had serious second thoughts. The institution may need modernizing, thundered royal biographer Anthony Holden, but that didn't "mean pictures of the Queen at McDonald's. It's demeaning. We should either have a splendid monarchy or none at all." Elizabeth unsurprisingly agreed and returned to her innately dignified modus operandi. She was a monarch, after all, not a "celebrity." In any event, the real public-perception problem wasn't with her, but with the Prince of Wales – as he well knew. His biographer Penny Junor said last week that Charles's first words on hearing the news of the fatal car crash in Paris had been: "They're going to blame me." Even before Diana's death, the prince was widely cast as the villain in a fairytale gone hideously awry; self-centred and self-pitying, he hadn't been able to cope with his young wife's near-total eclipse of him, didn't comprehend it.

In 1994, he'd ill-advisedly admitted in a TV interview that he'd returned to his mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, when his marriage "had irretrievably broken down" – which turned out to be just three years into it.  After 1997, however, Charles worked feverishly to recover a reputation as a decent chap who only ever wanted to do the right thing (by his lights). Alone of the family, the heir to the throne did seem to understand that the Windsor style had to change, if there were to be a monarchy left to inherit. If that meant hiring PR advisers and not relying on traditional courtiers, fine with him. He's had a series of them. He was more than willing to learn the lessons of Diana – now that she was gone. Charles, now 58, had by far the most ground to make up with the public, and has, mostly, done it. It helped that he proved to be ahead of the curve on things such as organic farming and "green" architecture, interests that earlier labelled him an eccentric dilettante.  More crucially for his redemption, he has shown that he actually is as loving and sensitive a parent to William and Harry as their more effusive mother had been. Suddenly, there were pictures and news video to prove it. "He's a reformed character," says Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, whose launch in 1980 was directly due to Diana's arrival on the scene. "A lot of the stuffiness has been taken out." Against the odds, a skilful campaign to introduce the despised Camilla to the public step-by-small-step succeeded. The two quietly lived together for five years (in itself a huge change in royal mores) and, in a triumph of persistence over despair, finally wed in 2005. The sky didn't fall. Those who vehemently argued the public would never forgive Camilla – the "Rottweiler" third person in the marriage, the Gladys to the prince's Fred (whatever that was all about) – had got it wrong.  Her acceptance has been aided by time and by her own discretion. But also by the post-1997 knowledge that there were far more than three people in the Wales's marriage, courtesy of Diana's emotionally scatter-shot love life.

Dodi Fayed was the last, not the first. Camilla also avoided the trap into which the princess fell headlong because she, unlike Diana, knew Charles's psychology inside-out. She contentedly gives him centre stage and never, ever competes with him. (As he said on that taped-and-leaked phone conversation in 1992: "Your greatest achievement is to love me.") Sensibly, too, Camilla didn't try to compete with the glamorous Diana who will, unlike everyone else in the sorry tale, remain forever young while they grow old. ten years on – the lessons of Diana's appeal finally understood – Charles is an infinitely happier man. But periodically the past still springs up to haunt him. In 2004, a book by Diana's former butler Paul Burrell contained an astonishing note she'd written 10 months before her end: "This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous. My husband is planning an `accident' in my car, brake failure & serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry." Preposterous, said the public, at least the rational members thereof. But last December, Charles had to meet privately with the head of the British crash inquiry to explain, if he could, why his ex could have reached such a conclusion. (Aside, that is, from galloping paranoia.) After Diana's death, and probably to their own surprise, Britain's rapacious media signed an agreement to stay away from the boys during their school years. In the main, they honoured it. But given the grown-up princes' propensity for emerging bleary-eyed in the wee hours from the nightclubs of London, the photographers have predictably reported back for duty. William, however, has become patron, as Diana was, of Centrepoint, a charity for the homeless. After training for a military life he will never lead, he has begun, at 25, to assume royal duties with a sureness of step and the same crowd-pleasing appeal as his mother. The gung-ho Harry, 23 next month, has been the surprise. The active military career he'd dreamed of, and trained for, is on indefinite hold since he was stopped for security reasons from dispatching this spring to Iraq. But there's more to him than that. Last year, Harry launched a charity in Lesotho for children orphaned by AIDS. It's called Sentebale, which means "forget me not." His mother, he said, had been a "massive inspiration. I wanted to carry on as best I could what she started ... I'm committed for the rest of my life."

The hands-on love and real-life experiences Diana provided for her sons in their childhood clearly have remained rock-solid in their characters. Royal they may be, but neither has developed the inhibiting Windsor reserve she so loathed. They are as open and at ease with themselves as she had intended them to be. Last summer, William became a member of the royal Way Ahead committee. Now we will see if the lessons learned from Diana's life really can become lessons applied.

Nightclub Struggles To Secure Liquor Licence

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - James Rusk

(August 24, 2007) For the past weeks, workmen have been hustling to put the final touches on Circa, a $3-million nightclub at John and Richmond Streets, to get it open in time for a Toronto International Film Festival event on Sept. 7. But controversial nightlife entrepreneur Peter Gatien, the man behind the 55,000-square-foot entertainment venue, is still waiting for a court ruling - expected some time today - to learn whether he can meet that deadline. The sticking point is Circa's licence to serve alcohol, which Mr. Gatien has been fighting to obtain since August, 2006. He had thought the club was ready to open after an Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario hearing board ruled in July that, despite objections from police, the local councillor and a residents group, Circa should have a licence. Then, last week, the registrar of the AGCO decided to appeal that ruling. The appeal, which is on the grounds that the board made errors in law when it considered the evidence before it, perplexes Mr. Gatien.

"There has been no negative feedback anywhere since the ruling," he said in an interview. Opposition to Circa focused on whether the entertainment district could absorb a club that can take 3,000 patrons and whether Mr. Gatien, who once dominated the New York club scene, should be allowed to run a club because he was jailed briefly in New York State on tax evasion charges following a murder and drugs scandal involving his clubs. In giving him a licence, the board found that, even after investigating Mr. Gatien for a year, an OPP officer seconded to AGCOturned up nothing that would disqualify him from running Circa, and that the club could open provided it met strict conditions on matters such as security. The appeal by the registrar, who is the commission's chief prosecutor, is an unusual one. It asks Madam Justice Sandra Chapnick of the Ontario Divisional Court to reverse the usual procedure, which would be for the club to operate while the appeal works its way through the court. Instead, it asks for the club to be barred from opening until the appeal is heard, which could not happen until late fall at the earliest.

AGCO lawyer Richard Kulis said the registrar decided to seek the court order delaying the opening because local residents, Councillor Adam Vaughan and the Toronto Police Service, all of whom testified in the licence hearing, were still opposed to another club opening the entertainment district. But if Circa does not open, it would push Mr. Gatien and his backers, who have already spent more than $5-million in capital, rent and salaries over the past two years, to the edge of bankruptcy, Mr. Gatien said in an interview. "It would cause very consequential problems where our survival would be in question," he said.  Giving a tour of Circa yesterday, Mr. Gatien described it as far more than a nightclub. He said the four-storey entertainment venue will feature visuals by local artists - Bruce LaBruce has created the entranceway art for the opening - and a number of distinct areas, each with its own theme, such as an interactive digital bar that includes touch sensitive surfaces that light up, and a cinema screening room. "Even our detractors have acknowledged that this is a superior product, and actually good for Toronto," Mr. Gatien said. "If you have a chance to talk to any of the merchants in the area, I think they will tell you, universally, that this area is not as good as it used to be. ... We are making a large investment in an area, and usually large investments help an area. They don't take away from it."

OTHER TIDBITS

Danny Glover Joins Rally For Union At Rogers Centre

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(August 28, 2007) American actor and activist
Danny Glover joined a rally outside Rogers Communications headquarters in Toronto today to demand that the company support food service workers at the Rogers Centre in their efforts to form a union. The Hollywood star donned a T-shirt and hat bearing the logo of the union Unite Here at the afternoon rally, which involved about two dozen food service and hotel workers from the city. Unite Here claims the 600 or so concession workers at the stadium have faced intimidation from security workers during the union organizing drive that started last month. The union also claims Rogers has threatened to cancel the contract with Delaware North Sportservice Companies, which employs the concession workers. Glover, who is shooting a movie in Guelph, Ont., has been involved with Unite Here since 1994 and has supported several other union initiatives. He says if members of the Toronto Blue Jays, who play at the Rogers Centre and are owned by Rogers Communications, can be unionized, then the lower-wage workers should be allowed to unionize as well.

Ex-President Clinton To Discuss New Book Oprah

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(August 27, 2007) NEW YORK – Former U.S. president
Bill Clinton will appear on Oprah Winfrey's TV talk show next Tuesday, Sept. 4, his first interview to promote Giving, a book on philanthropy and civic action coming out the same day. Clinton's appearance was announced Monday in an email – "The first interview about his new passion!" – sent to members of Winfrey's book club. Winfrey, who interviewed Clinton in 2004 for his memoir My Life, has good reason to think highly of the new book. Giving praises Winfrey's "Angel Network," which has donated millions of dollars around the world, from money for schools in Africa to relief aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The book also includes comments from Winfrey, who was asked why she started the Angel Network, and another charitable organization, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. "I wanted to give back what I was given, a sense of worth," she replied. "Everyone wants to matter." Clinton has other interviews planned next week, including one with Larry King on CNN and with David Letterman on CBS television's Late Show.

::DANCE NEWS::

The Ups And Downs Of Toronto's Dance Scene

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Dance Writer

(August 26, 2007) If there was a barometer for dance, Toronto would seem to be suffering under a heavy low pressure blanket.  In the last 12 to 18 months, two dance festivals folded, the long-standing
Harbourfront Dance Season was abandoned and the Hummingbird Centre saw three out of four top-flight dance shows for 2006-07 tank at the box office.  Even the National Ballet of Canada has seen some loss of interest in sales of its high-end subscription packages and a spring season that was notable for the empty seats at the Four Seasons Centre. What has happened to the dance audience in Toronto? Mark Hammond, director of programming at the Hummingbird Centre, puts it bluntly: "There isn't one." Harbourfront dance programmer Jeanne Holmes is more optimistic. "There's an ebb and flow in dance," she says. "I think we're at the bottom of an ebb." Meanwhile, in Victoria and Vancouver, the barometer is rising. The forecast for dance is sunny and bright. Audience numbers are multiplying like crocuses in February.

"Our next season is selling well, more than any other season," says Stephen White, producer of Dance Victoria. Other dance presenters regard White with wonder. Greater Victoria, with a population of 290,000, supports one of the best dance series in the country. With 1,200 subscribers and healthy single-ticket sales, Dance Victoria fills the Royal Theatre's 1,435 seats with performances from both classical and contemporary dance companies. The season leads off in September with the National Ballet of Canada performing Giselle and moves on to Havana's Afro-Cuban Yoruba Andabo and Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal. Later there's a bonus show from Moscow Ballet, doing Swan Lake.  Over time, White has enticed Victoria dance lovers to take in contemporary dance. Last season, Wen Wei Dance's production of Unbound, which began in a Dance Victoria artistic residency, sold out two performances in the 800-seat Macpherson Playhouse.  This summer, White got a call from Ottawa that nearly threw him off his chair. Dance Victoria was approved funding from the National Arts Centre's B.C. Scene productions in 2009, meaning the organization has $167,000 to start production of a major show from hot choreographer Crystal Pite. Among other things, the selection of Dance Victoria is a nod to the city's importance as a creative centre.  "This is a cultural town," says the producer, explaining the popularity of high-ticket (from $25 to $98.50) dance sales. In addition to the growing retirement population there has been a significant migration to Vancouver Island of moneyed folk from colder climes. When the Victoria Symphony holds its Summer Splash concert in the Inner Harbour, 40,000 people pack the causeway and the grounds of the Parliament Buildings.

In Vancouver, dance is also thriving. The regional population of more than 2 million is growing fast and the dance community is expanding accordingly. "I love my audience," says John Alleyne. "In the last six years it has grown 100 per cent." The former National Ballet of Canada dancer and artistic director of Ballet British Columbia since 1992, Alleyne has spent as much energy on audience development as artistic production, including numerous new ballets. Alleyne is cultivating contemporary ballet dancers, with classical training and diverse talents. "Vancouver dance is on a global level. We're making sure the dancers reflect how diverse the community is." The company of 13 dancers runs a strong apprenticeship program, visible during a rehearsal of Alleyne's Schubert, where two young dancers observe from the sidelines, following the steps.  Mirna Zagar, executive director of Vancouver's enviable Scotiabank Dance Centre, moved to Vancouver in 1994. Her European and eastern Canadian colleagues in the dance world thought the Croatian-born dance presenter who has worked in the U.K., France and the Netherlands, was mad. But she's proved them wrong. "We've seen more dance come out, we've seen more polished work. And we've seen synergies, because this building is also used by other arts groups, especially composers of new music, filmmakers and visual artists."  Outreach is what the Dance Centre is all about: bringing dance to the community, and making it accessible by holding a lunchtime program called Discover Dance that brings in office workers to do just that.

Taking dance to the people was part of the thinking behind Canadian Pacific Ballet, which bills itself as a classical and romantic ballet company.  It's a touring company, says co-artistic director Graham McMonagle, who started the company with private funding about 12 months ago, with fellow dancer and choreographer Roberta Taylor. McMonagle saw a niche for a small ballet company with classically trained dancers. Canadian Pacific Ballet has hit every imaginable stage on Vancouver Island. "We had extraordinary responses in places we hadn't expected, like Sooke, and found quite an informed audience and surprisingly passionate audience," he says. Canadian Pacific has just completed a summer lecture series in connection with the show that will launch its 2007-08 season, La Esmeralda. Canadian Pacific thrives alongside another ballet company in the city, Ballet Victoria, which launched four years ago.  "We primarily do contemporary work," says Jacqueline Sloan, artistic director. The company has a corps of six dancers but has put on shows with 65 performers.  Scores of independent dancers are making a go of it. Alison Denham, a member of Dancemakers in Toronto for 4 1/2 years, made the move to the West Coast in 2005.  "It's been amazing for me," she says of her work in Vancouver, which has been more consistent than it ever was in Toronto. She's danced with Wen Wei Dance and Alvin Tolentino and she has presented her own choreography.  "I'm performing more and I'm touring more than I ever did in Toronto."  "Dance is hard everywhere," she says.  "But people do show up here, I think more than they showed up in Toronto. There are a lot of shows developing audiences."

::SPORTS NEWS::

Mixing Up Martial Arts

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Christopher Lombardo, Special To The Star

(August 27, 2007) "You take a mortal man, and put him in control," screeches our blood-curdling, death metal workout soundtrack. I am running laps sucking stale gym air, doing firefighter lifts at high speeds, handstands and what seems like a lifetime's worth of crunches.  We're going over "simple" holds that will allow you to instantly and devastatingly overpower any assailant. All in the first five minutes – and I'm hooked.  For the texting masses, kids too young to remember Mike Tyson for anything beyond cannibalism or how fearsome George Foreman was before he became an aproned pitchman for a cooking utensil, mixed martial arts is the combat sport of choice. Like its cousin boxing, it's a seedy blood sport in which toothless goons with let the fluids fly.  Or so you'd think.

Mixed martial arts or, more commonly, MMA, was once referred to scarily as cage fighting or by some as human cockfighting. And though the act of clubbing one's opponent into a bloody pulp or twisting his limbs into shapes usually reserved for balloons may not suggest the daintiness of an art, there is more to it than simple mayhem.  Mixed martial arts involves highly technical skills that combine every combat sport, including wrestling, boxing, kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which involves grappling an opponent into submission. Contests are staged in a cage.  A classmate learning to cut off my air supply is Jay Wall, a 26-year-old court reporting student and first-timer who is typical of the demographic at Toronto BJJ on Bloor St. W., an academy that offers mixed martial arts training. "I watch a lot of MMA," notes Wall. "A lot of my friends do, too. They actually got me into it, so I was curious to find out more about it here." The popularity of the reality show The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV has attracted lots of guys like Wall to the sport. Women have become enthusiasts, too, as I've noticed at pay-per-view events at sports bars and women's classes at gyms.

"It's more of a thinking man's sport," Wall says. "There is a lot of strategy involved, which is my favourite part. It's a great workout, too." "It might be the closest thing to a fight in the street that is a sport," says Josh Rapport, an instructor at Toronto BJJ. Then again, it also resembles "a beautiful game of chess," Rapport says. Chess does have its Sicilian defence, though I can't see it being effective if Bobby Fischer were ever put in the "guillotine choke," which has me rubbing my windpipe. So the chess comparison seems a bit of a stretch. Speaking of which, within 15 minutes I've learned how to twist my opponent's arm behind his back in a "kimura," a jiu-jitsu manoeuvre that if taken far enough could snap a limb as easily as a chopstick. Unfortunately, it's also being demonstrated on me, threatening to test – and possibly break – both my spirit and the limits of my flexibility.  When Kareem El Sayed, a black belt holder and head instructor at Toronto BJJ, was looking for somewhere to train 15 years ago, there were only two schools in Toronto. Now, the sport is finally gaining mainstream acceptance, gracing the 2007 covers of both ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Fighters are hamming it up on talk shows, there is a specialty cable channel and the top promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championships, is planning to stage a big arena event in Montreal. Still, mixed martial arts is technically banned in Ontario.  "It is a true sport, though," counters El Sayed. "Fighters are in a controlled environment trying to find out what is the best style."

He says there are four or five fatalities a year in boxing, which is sanctioned everywhere, compared to only one known fatality in mixed martial arts.  Striking – as I discovered, taking a kick to my insufficiently padded elbow – is a key component of the sport. However, unlike in boxing, the strikes are less sustained and the referee intervenes more abruptly.  Sam Stout, 23, an up-and-coming fighter based in London, Ont., got interested in the sport as a teen.  "Some of the best-trained athletes in the world fight in MMA," he says. His fight preparations involve training for eight weeks, six days a week, three times a day. However, "people still associate the sport with the early days, when most of the fighters were brawlers, but since then the rules have changed." After only two consecutive days of training, my thighs are burning and I've sweated through my shirt. I can't raise my arms above my head. But I've learned some grappling and two of the moves I've seen on TV. And that's cool.

Christopher Lombardo is a Toronto freelancer, mixed martial arts aficionado and co-author of The Man Who Scared a Shark to Death and other true tales of drunken debauchery (Penguin 2006).

::FITNESS::

10 Ways to Rev Your Metabolism

By Jason Knapfel, eDiets Contributor

Your body is a lean, mean, fat-burning machine just waiting to happen! All you need is the knowledge and determination, and your extra weight will be gone in no time. In fact, you don’t necessarily have to make drastic changes. Try these 10 simple tweaks to your lifestyle, and you will see results.

1. Lift weights. Muscle is the key to a high metabolism. Gals, that doesn’t mean you have to look like a female wrestler. Building lean, sleek muscles ups your calorie-burning. Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) accounts for 60 to 70 percent of your daily calorie expenditure, and it’s closely linked to the amount of muscle you have. Muscle burns more calories than fat… even while you sleep!

2. Get moving with your cardiovascular exercise. When you perform cardio, enzymes are produced that break down fat and enable the body to use it as an energy resource. The average person has 100,000 calories worth of fat stored on their body -- roughly enough to run for 200 hours. For fat to be burned as energy, oxygen needs to be produced. People with a high cardio capacity are able to burn fat very easily because their bodies are efficient at delivering oxygen to muscle cells.

“There’s a fitness term called the ‘after burn’,” says eDiets Chief Fitness Pro Raphael Calzadilla. “This refers to the calories that you burn 24 to 48 hours after your exercise session. What that means to you is a faster metabolism that burns fat at an accelerated rate.”

3. Try interval training. Your body has an amazing ability to adjust to routine. If you don’t change things up, you can get stuck in a rut. Try interval training -- bursts of high-intensity moves -- to boost metabolism. Studies show that people who do interval training twice a week, in addition to cardio, lose twice as much weight as those who do just a regular cardio workout. Just insert a 30-second sprint into your jog every five minutes or add a one-minute incline walk to your treadmill routine.

4. Don't overdo calorie-cutting. If you ingest too many calories, you gain weight, but if you restrict your calorie intake too much, it’s a sure-fire way to keep the pounds on. That may sound strange, but what your body is doing is entering survival mode. Your body is programmed to defend itself. If you suddenly drop a bunch of calories from your diet, your resting metabolic rate will slow down, because your body makes the assumption that you are starving.

Depending on your level of activity, you can safely lose anywhere from half a pound to two pounds a week. The easiest way to figure out your needs is to multiply your current weight by 11. So, if you're 150 pounds, aim for around 1,650 calories a day. Unless you're less than five feet tall, don't let your daily calories dip below 1,200. Research shows that women who consume less than this amount see their resting metabolic rate plummet by as much as 45 percent!

5. Eat breakfast. Some of you out there just don’t have an appetite in the morning. Some just don’t have time. But breakfast may just be the most important meal of the day. Your metabolism slows when you’re asleep, and it doesn't rev back up until you eat again. If you skip breakfast, you’re talking upwards of 18-20 hours since your last meal! That’s a recipe for disaster. Start the day with a solid 300 to 400-calorie meal, preferably high in fibre.

6. Space your meals wisely. If you find that you get frequent snack attacks, kick-start your metabolism and curb your appetite by dividing your meals into five to six small, nutritious meals a day instead of three squares. Eat a 200-400 calorie mini-meal every three to four hours. Your body will expend more energy to digest the food and your metabolic rate will increase. If this is too much to handle, revert back to the three meals, but make them slightly smaller and add a couple snacks strategically placed mid-morning and afternoon.

7. Catch some zzz’s. According to studies, sleep loss may increase hunger and affect the body’s metabolism, which may make it more difficult to lose weight. People who lose sleep may continue to feel hungry despite adequate food intake because sleep loss has been shown to affect the secretion of cortisol, a hormone that regulates appetite. Make sure you get in your eight hours or more of shut-eye every night.

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

9. Skip alcohol. Thinking about throwing back a couple before dinner? Not so fast. Several studies show that having a drink before a meal causes people to eat around 200 more calories. Drinking with dinner isn't such a good idea either: Other research has found that the body burns off alcohol first, meaning that the calories in the rest of the meal are more likely to be stored as fat. If you do have a cocktail craving, stick to wine, which packs only 80 calories a glass -- or minimize the calories by drinking a white-wine spritzer (two ounces of wine mixed with two ounces of seltzer).

10. Drink milk. If you’re not lactose intolerant, don’t shy away from low-fat dairy. Women who consumed milk, yogurt and cheese, three to four times a day, lost 70 percent more body fat than women who didn't eat dairy in a study published in the American Society for Nutritional Sciences Journal of Nutrition. The reason: Calcium, along with other substances in dairy, actually revs up your metabolism, according to the study. Research shows that women reap the largest fat-burning benefit when they consume three servings of dairy and 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day.

::MOTIVATION::

Motivational Note

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
Dr. Dolf de Roos: Authority on real estate investment

"The most expensive piece of real estate is the six inches between your right and left ear. It’s what you create in that area that determines your wealth. We are only really limited by our mind."