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


Updated:  February 8, 2007


Is everyone enjoying our deep freeze?  Temperatures seem to keep dropping - bundle up!

Check out the promo for my good friend, Scot Anthony Robinson's
Vision Warrior - a hard-hitting performance directed at today's youth hitting on all issues of concern to them today - drugs, suicide and violence to name a few.  Scot is not only an acclaimed actor but a survivor as well and reaches youth like I've never encountered - a powerful performance that is making a difference in lives!  Potential sponsors please check this out and bring him to Canada!

It's time for
Kuumba at Harbourfront Centre - tons of events to choose from!  This weekend - in celebration of Valentine's Day, there's Kama Sutra The Book Of Love featuring some of Toronto’s brightest performers in their truest art forms.

Then there's the artistic and athletic dance of the
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on February 16-17. 

Be sure to mark your calendars for the inspiring sounds of
Soweto Gospel Choir on February 27-28.  Langfield Entertainment and The Hummingbird Centre have a special offer for you. The first 65 people who purchase tickets to Soweto Gospel Choir at The Hummingbird Centre February 27 & 28 will receive a copy of their new CD, Blessed. Blessed has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional World Music Album category!  For February 27th, follow the link HERE and for February 28th, follow the link HERE and enter in the promo code blessed.  Act now - this offer is only available to the first 65 readers!

Check out the details below!




::hot events::

Celebrate KUUMBA at Harbourfront – February 9 – 11, 2007

Celebrate the artistry of the African Diaspora with 3 days of music, dance, film, food and more- highlights include the Canadian Premiere of the “Black Hair” documentary, a Concert & Party celebrating 45 years of Jamaican Independence, a Canadian Hip Hop Symposium with guests from Ego Trip and XXL’s Elliot Wilson, dance classes and The Choreographer’s Ball, Vieux Farka Touré in concert (Tix $15), celebrity food demos, kids crafts and more!

Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, ON
For more information, call 416-973-4000 or visit
FREE! Unless otherwise indicated

Kama Sutra The Book Of Love – February 10, 2007

Source:  Jay Martin, Ajahmae Live

Ajahmae Live & SFS Entertainment presents
Kama Sutra The Book Of Love featuring some of Toronto’s brightest performers in their truest art forms. All backed by Canada’s number one DJ Starting From Scratch. The classiest show and after party of the year, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  Many prizes to be won.  Get your tickets now - last year sold out quickly!

Mark Strong, Jemeni, Al St Louis, Dwayne Morgan, Chris Rouse, Lorraine Reid, Amoy, Dylan Murray and Jay Martin to assemble the chapters of love.

Click HERE for evite.

FEBRUARY 10, 2007
Arcadian Court, Simpson Tower, 8th floor
401 Bay St Toronto  (Corner of Bay & Queen)
Doors open 7:30 pm with appetizers; Show 8:00 pm SHARP
$40 advanced tickets only, VIP tickets $45 by calling 416-949-2766
Info Line 416-949-2766

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Toronto - Feb. 16-17!

Source: Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts

TORONTO, Ontario – For more than 45 years, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has dazzled audiences from New York City to South Africa to China with unparalleled artistry.  After a long awaited return, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is back at The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts in celebration of Black History Month for three performances only from February 16 – 17, 2007.

Through captivating performances and unparalleled artistry, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been fulfilling Alvin Ailey’s vision that “dance is for everybody… dance came from the people and it should always be delivered back to the people.”  From jazz-inspired works and intimate portraits to explosive epics teeming with passion, “one cannot deny the genius behind Ailey’s…stirring eloquence,” says the Washington Post.

Led by Artistic Director Judith Jamison, this magnificent company celebrates an exhilarating performance, drawing inspiration from a variety of experiences - life’s joy, sorrows, passions, beauty and ultimate truths.  Their unmistakable style and unsurpassed talent, continue to leave audiences breathless.  Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform several works from its classic repertory–including Revelations, Ailey’s signature masterpiece that explores African American spirituals, encompassing songs of love, struggle, and deliverance.  The engagement will also include new dances by some of today’s most exciting, daring, and visionary choreographers.

There are moments when you watch the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and begin to believe that the figures on stage are not quite real. The human body can't really move like that… defies human limits." 

-  Chicago Sun-Times

The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts
1 Front St. East
Toronto, Ontario
Friday: 8:00 pm
Saturday (two shows) 2:00 pm & 8:00 pm
Ticket prices range from $55 - $75
Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 416-872-2262 or by visiting
Or in person at The Hummingbird Centre Box Office, 1 Front Street East, Toronto  
GROUPS of 10 or more call:  416-393-7463 or 1-866-737-0805


Soweto Gospel Choir Makes Its Triumphant Return To Toronto – Feb. 27-28, 2007

Source: Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts

Toronto, Ontario – Soweto Gospel Choir is an awe-inspiring vocal ensemble, performing in eight different languages, in an inspirational program of tribal, traditional and popular African gospel.  Returning to The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts after a standing room only performance in 2005, Soweto Gospel Choir will perform two shows only in celebration of Black History Month, from February 27 – 28, 2007.

Soweto Gospel Choir has achieved major success in Europe and in South Africa.  Drawing on the best musical talents from the many churches and communities in and around Soweto, the concert will feature a dynamic four-piece band, traditional dancers and drummers.  Earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, acapella and charismatic performances combine to uplift the soul and express, through a vocal celebration, South Africa's great hopes for the future.  The most exciting vocal group to emerge from South Africa since Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Soweto Gospel Choir, will bring their magnetic energy, joyful spirits and beautiful harmonies to Canadian audiences.  They are much more than simply a musical phenomenon. 

Soweto Gospel Choir was created in 2002.  David Mulovhedzi and South African Executive Producer Beverly Bryer held auditions in Soweto to form an all-star “super-choir.”  They were able to create a powerful aggregation made up of the best singers from his own Holy Jerusalem Choir, as well as various Soweto churches and from the general public, including a finalist on the nationally-televised South African equivalent of “Star Search.”  Adorned in traditional and beautifully coloured South African garb, the choir has been known to win audiences with their exotic blend of South African spirituals, traditional Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho gospel songs which are interspersed with popular songs and folk anthems.

"Nothing can really prepare you for the riot of exuberance and depth of emotion."  - The Scotsman

The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts
1 Front St. East, Toronto, Ontario
8:00 pm
Ticket prices range from $35 - $75
Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 416-872-2262 or by visiting
Or in person at The Hummingbird Centre Box Office, 1 Front Street East, Toronto  
GROUPS of 10 or more call:  416-393-7463 or 1-866-737-0805



Tamia Can't Get Enough

Source:  Universal Music Canada

Grammy Award winner and Canada's own
Tamia believes that her new CD is an R&B guide to the beauty and dynamics of relationships. Mixing the writing styles of Shep Crawford, the production finesse of Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Tamia's maturity as an artist and as a woman resonates in all 12 songs, including the first single, “Can’t Get Enough” & the hot new remix of "Too Grown" featuring JIM JONES!!! 

'Between Friends' is the birth of Tamia's second child. With her growing wisdom in life, love and the music industry, she believes that "there's a time and place for music like "Drop It Like It's Hot!" But, there are also people who want to hear about love and relationships. A lot of songs I do aren't from personal experience, but the subject matter is universal."


::top stories::

Vision Warrior: Scot Anthony Robinson

Source:  Scot Anthony Robinson

[Note from Dawn: Check out the promo for my good friend, Scot Anthony Robinson's Vision Warrior - a hard-hitting performance directed at today's youth hitting on all issues of concern to them today - drugs, suicide and violence to name a few.  Scot is not only an acclaimed actor but a survivor as well and reaches youth like I've never encountered - a powerful performance that is making a difference in lives!  Potential sponsors please check this out and bring him to Canada!]

Vision Warrior“ is a theatrical lecture presentation conceived and performed by film and television actor Scot Anthony Robinson. In the past 13 years over one million students, educators, young people and their families throughout the United States have shared the electrifying experience of  "Vision Warrior".  In a tour de force performance, which is alternately raw, frightening, ironically funny but ultimately uplifting, Robinson stealthily engages his audiences. 90 minutes later audiences emerge from a graphic tour that impacts and inspires; it is a universal message. The workshops he runs after the show bear incredible fruit of self-disclosure and candid discussions and address all the issues that face our youth today.   The Partnership for a Drug Free America's collaboration with Robinson in creating a Public Service Announcement that featured excerpts from "Vision Warrior" subsequently garnered the prestigious New York " ADD " Award for best SPA.

Scot Anthony Robinson is best known for his riveting performances on television and in films such as
Malcolm X, Clockers, New Jack City, New York Undercover and All My Children to name a few.  High Schools in California and New York to Universities & Middle Schools in the Midwest; Off Broadway to Riker's Island. Scot has creatively adapted to any audience he has had the opportunity to reach the past 13 years. Nationwide " Vision Warrior " has left a lasting and powerful impression.

For more information on how to bring  " Vision Warrior " to your community you may visit the website: or email Scot: or for a profile go to

For contributions and Corporate Sponsorship Tours contact: The Richard Allan Center for Culture & Art, Shirley Radcliffe (Executive Director), 212 581 7216

Guns And The Rapper

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Entertainment Reporter

(February 02, 2007) When it comes to guns, hip hop comes by its bad rap honestly, say the authors of the new book
Enter the Babylon System: Unpacking Gun Culture From Samuel Colt to 50 Cent. As co-founders of Pound, a Toronto-based hip hop magazine, publisher Rodrigo Bascunan and senior editor Christian Pearce were conversant with the dichotomy facing the genre concerning its links to violence: unfairly scapegoated, but rife with rappers fixated on guns. In Enter the Babylon System, the erstwhile Northern Secondary School pals explore modern gun culture and distribute blame widely amongst the entertainment industry, media, consumers, governments and gun manufacturers. It's a well-researched, easily navigated tome, with a shiny, gold-plated gun on the front. "We definitely debated it," said Bascunan, 30, of the provocative cover.  "Our main criticism is that people use guns to sell all kinds of things ... movies, music. This book is actually about guns; it's relevant to the subject. But even with that most legitimate reason, we still felt a certain level of discomfort that we were putting another image of a gun out there." The book, which contains startling statistics (Texas is said to have 60 million guns, nearly a 10th of the world's total) and eye-opening interviews with rappers, academics and gun lobbyists, is already drawing some return fire.

"Gun owners in this country are a marginalized community, and marginalized communities tend to react very harshly when pushed further against the wall," said Pearce, 31, about the hostile emails from gun proponents.  "Neither one of us has ever said, `Ban guns,' but when you look at what is causing the problems, it's quite clear handguns are involved in the majority of urban crimes. I don't see any justifications here in Canada for anybody to have a handgun. Somebody else's right to live, to me, far outweighs your right to go enjoy your hobby on the weekend, given the possibility of your gun being stolen and ending up in the hands of a criminal." And of course, further exploring the connection between gun usage and hip hop's largely black performers may not win the pair any fans, either. "When we started the book, we felt a bit of backlash from the hip-hop community: `Here goes someone else exploiting rap music and perpetuating the worst stereotypes about it,'" acknowledged Bascunan. "That's not at all what this book's about. We're fighting for hip hop and for the legacy of this culture and this music.  "Hip hop is made by people who happen to have an inordinate amount of experience with guns because they come from poor, marginalized communities which experience a disproportionate amount of violence.  "And because a lot of these poor people happen to not be white, there is the added level of discrimination and ignorance ... and all the misunderstanding that comes with that, all of which has nothing to do with rap music." But the writers concede that much to their chagrin, rappers aren't helping their own cause when they are photographed carrying weapons or wearing Kevlar vests as fashion statements. In their book, they list the MCs who have had "gun-ins with the law" as well as those artists named for weaponry, such as Young Gunz and Mac 10.

In an interview earlier this week in their publisher's boardroom, the authors told the Star about a rapper who approached a gun holster manufacturer about making a signature line. "They're all actors," said Pearce. "They understand that the same things that sell films – a dude holding a gun on a movie poster – are going to sell rap music. It looks cool, it's powerful." This speaks to a larger societal problem in which violence and sex sell well, said Bascunan. "That's not a hip-hop problem," he declared. "We need to look at ourselves and why are we so fascinated with villains and violence." The news is slightly better in Canada where the diverse hip-hop scene generally reflects the national view that owing a gun isn't considered a God-given or constitutional right, said the authors. "There are quite a few artists in this city that come from pretty rugged 'hoods and who are pretty thugged out and have some major gun glorification in their music following the patterns of the States," said Pearce. "But you also get in Canada guys like Solitaire, who does a song like `Easy to Slip' about his cousin who was shot dead as a hustler who packed a gun, and that being the reason he'll never pack one. Then guys like K-OS from Whitby that never mention guns." Pearce, a third-year law student, cited a study that drew a link between country music and depression, when he lamented the sense of resignation among U.S. rappers they interviewed that: "There are 300 million guns in America, what am I to do about that?" "Hip hoppers have to think in terms of the very real impact that music has on people. You never know what kinds of emotions you are going to trigger. "We don't have much control over the government and we have no control over gun manufacturers and Hollywood, but as far as hip hop goes, we do have control over our own culture, so that's what we're responsible for.  "That's where we start."

Nelly Furtado’s Loose Remains The #1 Album In Canada

Source:  Universal Urban Music Canada

(January 31, 2007) Toronto, ON. – Nelly Furtado’s global hit album, Loose (Geffen/Universal Music Canada) has today retained the #1 chart position on the Nielsen SoundScan Canadian album charts.  Released on June 20, Loose has sold more than 310,000 copies (3X Platinum) in Canada and was the highest selling Canadian album of 2006.  Loose is certified platinum in the United States, the UK and Australia and two times platinum in Germany and Switzerland with worldwide sales of more than 3 million. 'Say It Right', the current single from the multi-platinum selling Loose, is the #1 single on Canadian radio.  ‘Promiscuous, featuring Timbaland’ and ‘Maneater’, the 1st two singles from Loose both respectively reached the top of the radio mountain.  The video for 'Say It Right' also sits in the #1 position on the MuchMoreMusic video chart. On February 16 in Manchester, England, Nelly Furtado will embark on the European leg of her “Get Loose” world tour.  The Canadian leg of the tour starts March 21 in Nelly’s hometown of Victoria, British Columbia.  The Canadian dates are:


Victoria, BC

Save On Foods Memorial Centre


Vancouver, BC

General Motors Place


Kelowna, BC

Prospera Place


Grand Prairie, AB

Crystal Centre


Edmonton, AB

Shaw Conference Centre


Calgary, AB

Pengrowth Saddledome


Toronto, ON

Air Canada Centre


Montreal, PQ

Bell Centre


Ottawa, ON

Scotiabank Place

In an announcement made by CTV and the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) on January 16, Nelly Furtado will host The 2007 JUNO Awards from the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Sunday, April 1 on CTV.  Furtado's role as host of The 2007 JUNO Awards comes on the heels of the announcement that she will co-star on CTV's CSI: NY on February 7 (as Ava Grant, a shoplifter accused of murder).  Later in February, Furtado will also appear on the daytime drama One Life to Live.  Along with being nominated in the category of “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals” for the song ‘Promiscuous’ featuring Timbaland, Nelly Furtado has also been confirmed as a presenter on the 49th annual Grammy Awards.  The show airs live from Los Angeles on Sunday, February 11 on Global Television.

Wal-Mart Launches Digital Movie Download Store

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Gary Gentile, Associated Press

(February 06, 2007) LOS ANGELES — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching its long-awaited online movie download store, entering a market that has yet to catch on with consumers but is expected to grow rapidly. A “beta” version of the online video store, set to debut Tuesday, will sell digital versions of about 3,000 films and television episodes from all the major studios and some TV networks, including Fox Broadcasting. Wal-Mart will not initially offer content from ABC, CBS or NBC, although the company said it hopes to add shows from those networks. The largest U.S. retailer is using its buying power to beat the prices charged by other download services in many cases, offering films from $12.88 to $19.88 (U.S.) and individual TV episodes for $1.96 -- 4 cents less than Apple Inc.'s iTunes store. Apple charges less for some films sold on iTunes -- $12.99 when pre-ordered and during the first week of sale, or $14.99 afterward. But it only carries films from two studios, Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Studios. Most studios have resisted signing deals with iTunes in part because of Apple's desire to sell movies at one price. Studios prefer variable pricing such as Wal-Mart is offering. Apple's pricing has also caused scuffles between studios and major retailers, including Wal-Mart and Target Corp. The retailers don't want studios to sell digital copies of films cheaper than the wholesale price of physical DVDs.

Wal-Mart's online store will sell older titles starting at $7.50, compared with the $9.99 charged by iTunes. Wal-Mart also used its significant clout to launch its online store with films from all major studios. The Bentonville, Ark., retailer accounts for about 40 per cent of DVD sales, and studios have been careful not to anger their largest customer. Given Wal-Mart's importance, the studios readily agreed to sell films on the retailer's new site, analysts said. The biggest impact of Wal-Mart's entry into the digital download business may be that it now frees studios to cut deals with other online services. “It gets the ball rolling finally,” said Tom Adams of Adams Media Research. “Now the studios are free to pursue it as aggressively as they can without worries about what Wal-Mart is going to think.” Amazon Inc. launched its “Unbox” video rental and download store last year without films from Disney. Other online download and rental sites include Movielink, which is owned by five studios, and CinemaNow. Unlike some offerings, Wal-Mart will not rent films online. The films can be played on a PC or transferred to Microsoft Windows Media-compatible portable digital players. The movies will not play on Apple computers or the popular iPod. Movies bought from the Wal-Mart store also can't be burned onto a DVD, although the company said it hopes to offer the option by the end of the year. Wal-Mart says it doesn't expect digital sales to cannibalize its retail DVD business for many years. “Customers have a growing interest in downloading video content, but complementary and supplemental to buying content on DVD,” Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart's divisional manager for digital media, told The Associated Press.

“With the health of the DVD business and coming high-definition formats, that business will remain quite strong for quite a long time.” Internet downloading is expected to generate about $4-billion in annual revenue in five years, compared with an estimated $27-billion from DVD rentals and sales, according to Adams Media Research. Whether Wal-Mart can translate its success on the ground to the digital domain remains to be seen. Wal-Mart abandoned its efforts to build an online DVD rental service in 2005 to compete with the well-established Netflix Inc. The retailer also faces the same challenge that confounds other online video sellers -- the fact that films cannot be easily transferred from a computer to a larger TV screen. “The real problem is people want to watch these movies on their television set,” said principal analyst Josh Bernoff of Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. “There already is an effective way to do that, which is to buy a DVD.”

Billy Talent, k-os and Nelly Furtado Lead the 2007 JUNO Awards with Five Nominations Each

Source: The 2007 JUNO Awards

*See full listing of nominees below.

(February 6, 2007) Toronto, ON The drum roll has begun! At the JUNO Awards press conference held today in Toronto, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced the nominations for the 2007 JUNO Awards, Canada’s Music Awards, recognizing the year’s best in the Canadian recording industry. The celebration will reach its pinnacle during Juno Weekend when winners will be announced. The 2007 JUNO Awards will air on CTV, Sunday, April 1, from the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, SK.  “This is music at its best!” says Melanie Berry, CARAS President. “The diversity and calibre of home-grown talent represented across all 39 categories truly exemplifies the unparalleled artistry of Canada’s musicians and the distinction of the JUNO Awards.”

Leading the 2007 JUNO Award nominations are rock group Billy Talent, along with recording artists k-os and Nelly Furtado, all earning five nods each. Rock sensation Billy Talent shook Canadian audiences with the release of their debut self-titled album winning three JUNO Awards to-date. Continuing their red-hot success with their sophomore double-platinum album, Billy Talent II, the band is nominated for 2007 JUNO Awards in the categories of Single of the Year for “Devil In A Midnight Mass,” Album of the Year (sponsored by CRIA), Group of the Year, Rock Album of the Year as well as Video of the Year (sponsored by VideoFACT). k-os, a nine-time JUNO Award nominee, swept all three of his nominations at the 2005 JUNO Awards winning Single of the Year, Rap Recording of the Year and Video of the Year. This year, Canada’s platinum-selling hip hop star is nominated in five categories for his critically acclaimed album Atlantis: Hymns For Disco that includes the hit single, “Sunday Morning.” He receives nods for Single of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Pop Album of the Year, Jack Richardson Producer of the Year and Video of the Year (sponsored by VideoFACT).

Also receiving five JUNO Award nominations is Canadian and international superstar and Host of this year’s JUNO Awards, Nelly Furtado. Winner of five JUNO Awards to-date, she is nominated for the 2007 Juno™ Fan Choice Award (presented by Doritos), vying with fellow Canadian recording stars, Gregory Charles, Michael Bublé, Nickelback and Sarah McLachlan. Nelly is also nominated for Single of the Year for “Promiscuous” featuring Timbaland, as well as Album of the Year (sponsored by CRIA), Artist of the Year and Pop Album of the Year for her hit album Loose. Breakout artists nominated for New Artist of the Year (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters) include Canadian Idol’s Eva Avila and Melissa O’Neil, Neverending White Lights, Patrick Watson and Tomi Swick. This year’s nominees for New Group of the Year (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters) include Evans Blue, Idle Sons, Jets Overhead, Mobile and Stabilo. Québec recording luminary Gregory Charles, mentioned earlier for a Juno™ Fan Choice (presented by Doritos) nomination, is also up for Album of the Year (sponsored by CRIA) and Artist of the Year. Other triple-nominees include Hedley (Album of the Year [sponsored by CRIA], Group of the Year and Music DVD of the Year); Malajube (Alternative Album of the Year, Francophone Album of the Year and CD/DVD Artwork Design of the Year [sponsored by Ever-Reddy Packaging]); and Sarah Harmer (Songwriter of the Year, Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Music DVD of the Year). Alexisonfire is nominated for Group of the Year and CD/DVD Artwork Design of the Year (sponsored by Ever-Reddy Packaging) for their album, Crisis Ltd. Edition. Rockers Three Days Grace will also contend for Album of the Year (sponsored by CRIA) and Group of the Year. Multiple JUNO Award winners, Diana Krall and Sam Roberts received two nominations each this year: Diana Krall for Artist of the Year and Vocal Jazz Album of the Year; Sam Roberts for Rock Album of the Year and Video of the Year (sponsored by VideoFACT) for the single “Bridge To Nowhere.”

Other artists receiving two nominations include Chantal Kreviazuk, David Braid, Garnet Armstrong, Harry Somers, Jim Cuddy, Loreena McKennitt, Mobile, Nickelback, Pierre Lapointe, Ron Sexsmith, Sarah McLachlan, Tomi Swick and Canadian Music Hall of Fame members, The Tragically Hip. Heavy-hitters for this year’s JUNO Award International Album of the Year nominations include Dixie Chicks, Il Divo, Justin Timberlake, Madonna and Red Hot Chili Peppers. A complete list of 2007 JUNO Award nominees, including biographies can be found online at Broadcast in High-Definition and 5.1 Surround Sound, The 2007 JUNO Awards will be broadcast for the sixth year in a row on CTV, the official broadcast partner of the JUNO Awards. Since CTV joined forces with CARAS in 2001, the JUNO Awards has traveled across Canada, bringing a live, electrified stadium show to million of Canadians. Since going live from St. John’s in 2002, CTV has broadcast The JUNO Awards from Ottawa (2003), Edmonton (2004), Winnipeg (2005) and Halifax (2006). In April 2006, 1.7 million Canadians watched Pamela Anderson host The 2006 JUNO Awards, 26 per cent more viewers than watched The Grammy Awards, making it the most-watched music awards program of the year. Previous hosts of The JUNO Awards include Brent Butt (2005), Alanis Morissette (2004), Shania Twain (2003) and Barenaked Ladies (2002).

Sponsors of the 36th Annual JUNO Awards include FACTOR, Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage’s “Canada Music Fund”, the Government of Saskatchewan, the City of Saskatoon, SaskTel and Radio Starmaker Fund.  Broadcast sponsors are Acuvue, Bombardier, Doritos, Pontiac and TD Canada Trust.

About CARAS:
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences/L'academie canadienne des arts et des sciences de l'enregistrement (CARAS) is a not-for-profit organization created to preserve and enhance the Canadian music and recording industries and to contribute toward higher artistic and industry standards. The main focus of CARAS is the exploration and development of opportunities to showcase and promote Canadian artists and music through television vehicles such as the JUNO Awards. For more information on the 36th annual JUNO Awards, visit For information on the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), visit

About CTV:
CTV, Canada’s largest private broadcaster, offers a wide range of quality news, sports, information, and entertainment programming. It has the number-one national newscast, CTV National News With Lloyd Robertson, and is the number-one choice for prime-time viewing. CTV owns 21 conventional television stations across Canada and has interests in 15 specialty channels, including the number-one Canadian specialty channel, TSN. CTV is owned by CTVglobemedia, Canada’s premier multi-media company. More information about CTV may be found on the company Web site at

Web Links:
Official JUNO Awards website:
CARAS website:
CTV’s JUNO Awards website:


Gregory Charles Les Disques NBW*SONY BMG
Michael Bublé 143/Reprise*Warner
Nelly Furtado Geffen*Universal
Nickelback EMI
Sarah McLachlan Nettwerk*SONY BMG

Devil In A Midnight Mass Billy Talent Atlantic/WEA*Warner
All I Can Do Chantal Kreviazuk SONY BMG
Pull Me Through Jim Cuddy WEA*Warner
Sunday Morning k-os EMI
Promiscuous feat. Timbaland Nelly Furtado Geffen*Universal

Taking The Long Way Dixie Chicks SONY BMG
Ancora Il Divo SONY BMG
FutureSex/LoveSounds Justin Timberlake SONY BMG
Confessions On A Dance Floor Madonna Warner Bros*Warner
Stadium Arcadium Red Hot Chili Peppers Warner Bros*Warner

Billy Talent II Billy Talent Atlantic/WEA*Warner
I Think of You Gregory Charles Les Disques NBW*SONY BMG
Hedley Hedley Universal
Loose Nelly Furtado Geffen*Universal
ONE-X Three Days Grace Zomba*SONY BMG

Diana Krall Verve*Universal
Gregory Charles Les Disques NBW*SONY BMG
Loreena McKennitt Quinlan Road*Universal
Nelly Furtado Geffen*Universal
Pierre Lapointe Audiogram*Select

Alexisonfire Distort*Universal
Billy Talent Atlantic/WEA*Warner
Hedley Universal
The Tragically Hip The Tragically Hip*Universal
Three Days Grace Zomba*SONY BMG

Eva Avila SONY BMG
Melissa O’Neil SONY BMG
Neverending White Lights Ocean*Fontana North
Patrick Watson Secret City*Fusion III
Tomi Swick WEA*Warner

Evans Blue Hollywood*Universal
Idle Sons EMI
Jets Overhead Microgroove*Warner
Mobile M&B*Universal
Stabilo EMI

Gordie Sampson
“Jesus, Take the Wheel” – Brett James/Hillary Lindsay
SOME HEARTS – Carrie Underwood Arista*SONY BMG
“Words Get In The Way” – Troy Verges/Aimee Mayo
DANGEROUS MAN – Trace Adkins Capitol Nashville*EMI
“Crybaby” – Carolyn Dawn Johnson/Troy Verges
LOVE & NEGOTIATION – Carolyn Dawn Johnson Angeline*Universal
“Sunday Morning” | “The Rain” | “FlyPaper”
“Far Away | “If Everyone Cared” | “Rockstar”
Ron Sexsmith
“All In Good Time” | “Never Give Up” | “Hands Of Time”
TIME BEING– Ron Sexsmith WEA*Warner
Sarah Harmer
“I Am Aglow” | “Oleander” | “Escarpment Blues”
I’M A MOUNTAIN – Sarah Harmer Cold Snap*Universal

Big Wheel Aaron Pritchett OPM*Fusion III
Love & Negotiation Carolyn Dawn Johnson Angeline*Universal
Doc Walker Doc Walker Open Road*Universal
Countrified Emerson Drive Midas Nashville*Navarre
Somebody Wrote Love George Canyon Reiny Dawg*Universal

The Frenzy Of Renown Arabesque Sin Nombre*Fontana North
Hitch Hikin’ Music Classified URBNET*Fontana North
Organic Music For A Digital World DL Incognito URBNET*Fontana North
The Answer Rich London SoulClap*Universal
Black Magic Swollen Members Swollen Members Music*Universal

The Light That Guides You Home Jim Cuddy WEA*Warner
When The Angels Make Contact Matt Mays Sonic*Warner
Living With War Neil Young Reprise*Warner
Time Being Ron Sexsmith WEA*Warner
I’m A Mountain Sarah Harmer ColdSnap*Universal

Skelliconnection Chad VanGaalen Flemish Eye*Outside
Sometimes City and Colour Dine Alone*Universal
Return To The Sea Islands Equator*EMI
Trompe-l’Oeil Malajube Dare To Care*Outside
Not Saying/Just Saying Shout Out Out Out Out Normals Welcome*Warner

Ghost Stories Chantal Kreviazuk SONY BMG
Atlantis: Hymns For Disco k-os EMI
Loose Nelly Furtado Geffen*Universal
Wintersong Sarah McLachlan Nettwerk*SONY BMG
Stalled Out In The Doorway Tomi Swick WEA*Warner

Billy Talent II Billy Talent Atlantic/WEA*Warner
Tomorrow Starts Today Mobile M&B*Universal
Chemical City Sam Roberts Secret Brain*Universal
Never Hear The End Of It Sloan murderecords*SONY BMG
World Container The Tragically Hip The Tragically Hip*Universal

From This Moment On Diana Krall Verve*Universal
Start To Move Elizabeth Shepherd Do Right Music*Outside
Fight or Flight? Kellylee Evans ENLIVEN! Media*Festival
Calling For Rain Lori Cullen Independent*Fontana North
Messin’ Around Molly Johnson Anthem*Universal

From the Heart Hilario Duran and His Latin Jazz Big Band Alma*Universal
Hugmars Hugh Marsh Cool Papa Music*Independent
At Sea Ingrid Jensen ArtistShare
Obsession Kent Sangster Sangster Music*Spirit River
Moment In Time Richard Underhill Stubby*Outside

ZHEN: The David Braid Sextet Live, Volume II David Braid Independent
Movin’ & Groovin’ Jake Langley Alma*Universal
Avenue Standard Jon Ballantyne Real Artist Works*CD Baby
Mnemosyne’s March Mike Murley/David Braid Quartet Cornerstone*Festival
Other Stories William Carn Independent

Recording a Tape the Colour of Light Bell Orchestre Sanctuary*EMI
...and another thing... Jo?l Fafard Bayard Island*Festival
Café Tropical Johannes Linstead Earthscape Media*Trend Music
Yours Truly Natalie MacMaster Foreign Media Group*KOCH
Run Neil Run Sisters Euclid NorthernBlues*Festival

Il était une fois dans l’est Antoine Gratton Tacca*Select
Le coeur dans la tête Ariane Moffatt Audiogram*Select
Trompe-l’Oeil Malajube Dare To Care*Outside
La forêt des mal-aimés Pierre Lapointe Audiogram*Select
Compter les corpes Vulgaires Machins Indica*Outside

Dinosaurs, Dragons and Me Donna & Andy Red Castle Publishing*CD Baby
My Beautiful World Jack Grunsky Casablanca Kids*Universal
Join The Band Ken Whiteley Merriweather*Fire The Imagination
Snooze Music Rick Scott Jester*Festival
Murmel Murmel Munsch! Robert Munsch The Children’s Group*KOCH

On The Threshold of Hope: Chamber Music by Mieczyslaw Weinberg Artists of the Royal Conservatory SONY BMG
Mozart the Mason Jonathan Crow, Douglas McNabney, Matt Haimovitz Oxingale*KOCH
Piazzolla Les Violons du Roy/Jean-Marie Zeitouni Atma*SRI
Shostakovich: String Quartets 3, 7 & 8 St Lawrence String Quartet EMI
Mozart: Complete Piano Trios The Gryphon Trio Analekta*Select

Rhapsodies Orchestre symphonique de Montréal/Alain Lefèvre Analekta*Select
Shostakovich’s Circle I Musici de Montréal Analekta*Select
Mozart: Violin Concerti James Ehnes, Mozart Anniversary Orchestra CBC Records*Universal
Mozart: Piano Concerti Jon Kimura Parker, James Parker, Ian Parker, CBC Radio Orchestra/Mario Bernardi CBC Records*SRI
Saint-Saëns: Symphony no. 3 “Organ” Philippe Bélanger, Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal/Yannick Nézet-Séguin Atma*SRI

Adrianne Pieczonka Sings Wagner and Strauss Adrianne Pieczonka, Münchner Rundfúnk Orchester/Ulf Schirmer ORFEO*Gilmore
Wagner: Arias Ben Heppner, Staatskapelle Dresden/Peter Schneider Deutsche Grammophon*Universal
Mozart: Arie e Duetti Isabel Bayrakdarian, Michael Schade, Russell Braun, Canadian Opera Company Orchestra/Richard Bradshaw CBC Records*Universal
Purcell Karina Gauvin; Les Boréades/Francis Colpron Atma*SRI
Extase Measha Brueggergosman, Orchestre symphonique de Québec/Yoav Talmi CBC Records*Universal

Clere Vénus Denis Gougeon À L’AVENTURE! Centrediscs*Fusion III
A Midwinter Night’s Dream Harry Somers A MIDWINTER NIGHT’S DREAM Centrediscs*CMC
Centrediscs*Fusion III
Tumbling Strain Neil Currie PASSIONSCAPE Independent*CMC
Varley Suite for Solo Violin Stephen Chatman VANCOUVER VISIONS Centrediscs*Fusion III

Airbreak Danny D Show Stopping*Universal
The Remix Album DJ Champion Saboteur*Outside
(Maybe You’ll Get) Lucky Sound Bluntz Awesome*EMI
Lift Off Taras Hi-Bias*KOCH
Sexor Tiga Last Gang*Universal

Life Less Ordinary Deesha RaukStar Entertainment
Believe George HC*Fontana North
mySOUL jacksoul SONY BMG
Face Behind The Face Karl Wolf LW*Fontana North
Been Gone Keshia Chanté SONY BMG

Hard To See Humble Soundcheck Records
Xrated Korexion Kornerstone*Kornerstore
Kulcha Connection Kulcha Connection SubSonik*Independent
Survival Kwesi Selassie Independent
In The Streets Trinity Chris feat. Blessed Startinlineup Records

Seeds Digging Roots Jericho Beach*Festival
Burn Jason Burnstick Independent
Sedzé Leela Gilday Diva Sound*Festival
Stay Red Northern Cree Canyon*Festival
Blood Red Earth Susan Aglukark Aglukark Entertainment*Arbor

Milly’s Cafe Fred J. Eaglesmith A Major Label*Outside
When We Get There Lennie Gallant Revenant*Fontana North
An Ancient Muse Loreena McKennitt Quinlan Road*Universal
Yellowjacket Stephen Fearing True North*Universal
We Belong To The Gold Coast Steve Dawson Black Hen*KOCH

Let’s Frolic Blackie and the Rodeo Kings True North*Universal
Hello Love The Be Good Tanyas Nettwerk*SONY BMG
Migrations The Duhks Sugar Hill*Fusion III
Bloom The McDades Free Radio Records
Firecracker The Wailin’ Jennys Jericho Beach*Festival

It's A Nelly Nation

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vit Wagner, Pop Music Critic

(February 07, 2007) All Nelly. All the time. That's shaping up as the unofficial theme for the 2007 Juno Awards, to be presented April 1 in Saskatoon. Nelly Furtado, already tagged to host the annual Canadian music prizes, is also poised to make as many as five trips to the winner's circle on the same night. The Victoria-bred singer's five nominations tied her for the most nods alongside hip-hop artist k-os and rock group Billy Talent. It is the most nominations for a Juno host since Shania Twain in 2003, who made good on three of her five nominations that year. In 1993, host Céline Dion cashed in all of her seven nominations. None of the leading nominees was at the announcement, held yesterday afternoon at the Mod Club Theatre on College St. Furtado's Loose is in the running for Best Album and Best Pop Album. "Promiscuous," her hit collaboration with producer Timbaland, is up for Single of the Year. Furtado was also nominated for Artist of the Year and for the Fan Choice Award, a category that includes rising Quebec singer Gregory Charles and established recording artists Michael Bublé, Nickelback and Sarah McLachlan.

Both of the other two top nominees will go head to head with Furtado for top single, with k-os nominated for "Sunday Morning" and Billy Talent for "Devil in a Midnight Mass." Billy Talent and k-os are also on the performing roster, adding to the possibility that this year's Juno telecast on CTV will resemble a revolving door for the top nominees. It was also announced yesterday that the Tragically Hip, due into the Air Canada Centre tomorrow, are joining this year's list of performers. Bob Rock, a former member of the Payola$ who has produced albums by Metallica, Bon Jovi, Bublé and many others, was revealed as this year's Hall of Fame inductee. The list of nominees includes few surprises or nods to the country's hot indie music scene, notwithstanding three nominations for Malajube.  But the acclaimed Montreal newcomers, who were also up for last year's inaugural Polaris Prize, a critics' award for the year's best Canadian album, are not in the running for New Artist of the Year. That category, predictably, is dominated by Canadian Idol winners Eva Avila and Melissa O'Neil, along with Patrick Watson, Tomi Swick and Neverending White Lights. The only other Polaris Prize nominee in the Juno field is esteemed singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer, who is up for three awards. Polaris winner Final Fantasy was nowhere to be found among the nominees.   Also of note, controversial Texas group the Dixie Chicks, who added a bunch of Canadian dates after cancelling some U.S. shows due to poor sales last year, is nominated in the sales-determined International Album field.  The category includes Il Divo, Justin Timberlake, Madonna and Red Hot Chili Peppers.


7 Questions: Jann Arden

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Brad Wheeler

Jann Richards Arden, March 27, 1962, in Calgary. Credits her passion for music to her father's mother, “a stormin' Mormon who was outspoken and flinty and played a tough, two-fisted piano.” In her 20s, busked on the streets of Vancouver and worked the western lounge circuit. In addition to selling millions of records worldwide and capturing eight Juno awards, has a second career as an actress, emcee and author. Inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2006.

An album of cover songs from a singer-songwriter adored for her emotional, confessional lyrics might not be what her fans would expect or even want. But Jann Arden has turned a trick — selecting songs that tell us as much about where she comes from as anything she could write herself. Add to that illuminating, personable liner notes and you have a revealing collection that inspires the title, Uncover Me.

You've got an album of cover tunes out now. You haven't lost your songwriting muse have you?

Oh, no, no, no. This was like elective surgery. It was something I thought would be fun to do and a helluva lot more interesting than doing a Christmas album. I don't know if the world needs one more version of Jingle Bells.

Okay, fun, but with some of the songs you chose — the single Bring the Boys Back Home in particular — you're saying something even if you didn't write the words, aren't you?

I guess so, but the irony is that I just grew up listening to these songs. A lot of people have tried to put me in these political corners, saying that I was trying to make brazen statements. But any song that I've ever done, whether they're mine or somebody else's — on the rare occasion — have always been about personal relationships.

But Freda Payne's Bring the Boys Back Home, from 1972? Certainly an anti-war statement, no?

I still think it's about personal relationships. It's about wishful thinking. In reality [the ending of war in Iraq] is not anything we're going to see happen any time soon, because that's just not how it works. In the back of everybody's mind, and certainly in the forefront of our hearts, you want resolution. Us lay people, we don't really understand it. I don't even know if there's a politician in the world that knows what the heck they're fighting about.

In the song notes you write that the world probably didn't need another version of California Dreamin'. But, in light of Denny Doherty's recent passing, it's a little more timely than you could have expected.

I know. I think I said in the liner notes, ‘Do you know how many times I've sung this song, with various groups of people over the last 30 years, just drunk?' Because it's one of those songs that you don't really need the words to, because as soon as the lead person says the first line, you know what the rebuttal is. It was just fun to do it, for me to actually have fun with music and not be singing about something emotionally disturbing.

“All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey?” It's not such a cheery song, though.

That's the funny thing about that. When we were starting to look at seventies lyrics, we didn't realize how very dark they all were. Something like Love is a Battlefield or California Dreamin' or even Solitaire.

To counteract the darkness then, you merrily go the other way with Downtown?

One of my favourite songs growing up. My mother will be thrilled to play that over and over again. I was a huge, huge fan of Petula Clark. She's one of the artists that I listened to in my parent's basement every day after school, until my mom pounded her foot on the kitchen floor for me to come up for dinner.

Everybody's talking about your recent weight loss. Fifty pounds! Do we describe you as “sultry” now?

Oh yeah. [Laughs.] It was under there all that time. Little did the fellas know.

Songwriter In Driver's Seat

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(February 02, 2007) It's been a year of surprises for Canadian songwriter
Gordie Sampson, whose massive country hit "Jesus Take the Wheel" has opened the door to a string of superstar collaborations and a shot at one of music's most sought-after prizes. After conquering the charts with the monster single – partly inspired by a Cape Breton road crash – the affable Nova Scotian says his upcoming trip to the Grammys is a surreal turn in his exploding career. Although he'd found modest success writing album tracks for various artists, the song was his first to be released to U.S. radio. "The first single I had was `Jesus Take the Wheel' and it was just such a bang to happen as the first single," Sampson says by phone from his home just outside Sydney, N.S. "It's kind of like the hockey player, the new guy on the team, that gets the right pass and scores the goal and everybody in the crowd stands up and goes, `Hey, who's that?'" The soaring inspirational tune, co-written with U.S. songwriters Hillary Lindsey and Brett James and sung by American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, topped the Billboard charts for six weeks and turned Sampson into one of Nashville's hottest newcomers.

The 35-year-old musician scored his first big songwriting gig three years ago with a song on a Faith Hill record. "This is all relatively new stuff for me," says Sampson, whose recent collaborators include Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes and Bon Jovi. "Boom, I got this Carrie Underwood cut, which was a single. Right after we got that, the doors just opened as wide as they could." A recent collaboration with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora may land on a country-tinged Bon Jovi album. "Bon Jovi is probably the biggest guilty pleasure in the world; everybody's a fan, kind of, in a way. They're enigmas, they're legends," he says.  Sampson's radio success with "Jesus Take the Wheel" has also brought a slew of professional accolades, including SOCAN's songwriter of the year award at the Canadian Country Music Awards. Now the song is up for two Grammys, Best Country Song and Song of the Year, at a gala bash in Los Angeles on Feb. 11. Sampson still marvels at its success. "I don't even know that song any more, it doesn't even know me. It's taken on a life of its own; it just flew away." The song's compelling narrative, in which a young mother loses control of her car on an ice-slicked road, was inspired by a car crash that claimed the life of a friend's sister, says Sampson. He happened to drive past the scene on a Cape Breton road and recalled another story his aunt once told him about losing control of her own car. "She was very religious and she kind of just threw her hands up in the air and asked God to take control of the car," says Sampson.

Rainbow Airwaves

Source: - By Dale Smith

(February 2007) Canada posts another first, as
Proud FM becomes the first twenty-four/seven commercial radio station in the world to broadcast for the GLBT community. The road from concept to full-fledged radio station, which is expected to go live at 103.9 FM in the Toronto area March 1, was a long but rewarding one. It all began ten years ago when the Evanov Group applied to the CRTC for a radio license to serve the GLBT market. “At the time, the media wasn’t quite ready for a gay station, and there was a lot more competition for the frequency, so they didn’t get it at that time,” says Sean Moreman, the station’s news director. “They applied again in 2005, seeing that things have changed a bit, and that there was the same demand, if not more demand for a gay and lesbian station in Toronto, so they re-applied to the CRTC, and they got the licence which was awarded in April of 2006.” Originally the station had been pitched to the CRTC as “Rainbow Radio”, but as the process continued, the decision came down to change the name to it’s current one.

“We thought that Proud FM was a more dynamic name that speaks to not only the station’s achievement as having gotten the first licence in the world, but also to the feeling that our listeners will have about how far we’ve come on all sorts of issues,” Moreman says. “This one only being one of many, being able to hit a point where we can have a whole radio station solely for our community.” The station’s mandate is to give the community something they’ve been missing, namely a station that caters to their needs and interests, as they’re different from the straight community. “The programming is a combination of music and some talk components,” Moreman explains. “The music will be a wide range of music appealing to a wide range of people in the community, and the talk portion is really where you’re going to see the queer content. The news will have gay-related topics that you won’t get on other stations, the banter of the DJs will be stuff that you won’t hear on other stations, either because those DJs don’t understand it, don’t live it, or their listeners aren’t interested in it.” That range of music is planned to be a blend of a little of everything, but really making it a true pop station of yesteryear. “Towards the evening, the activity levels of the music will be higher, just to get people if they’re planning on going out clubbing, especially on the weekend,” Moreman says. “Otherwise there’s going to be a good mix of music throughout the day. Our music director has done a pretty good job of putting songs back-to-back that you would think are incongruous, but once you hear them all together, there’s a really good flow.” Said music director is Toronto singer/songwriter James Collins, who has been busy assembling the station’s play list, and excited about the opportunity to program for such a unique station. One of the challenges he’s been eagerly tackling is finding the mandated Canadian Content, and has found a treasure trove of hits that have since disappeared from the airwaves.

“We’re going to have the best variety, and we’re really going to mean it,” Collins says. “Unlike other stations that say they have the best variety and play the same songs over and over.” “We’d like to keep it fairly upbeat and fun,” Collins enthuses. “There are going to be some gems that pop up on the station that will put some smiles on peoples’ faces in rush hour traffic. We’re not going to play them every day, but I think people will be surprised when they hear them. And if it’s not feel good, then it will make you feel.” In terms of finding ‘out’ gay and lesbian artists, Collins assures us that aside from the Pet Shop Boys, Elton John and k.d. lang songs that one would expect, there are a surprising number of out artists to choose from plus “A lot of European stuff that doesn’t get played over here.” One example is the UK’s Pop Idol winner Will Young, “and there is one track of his that I cannot wait to play on the station.” Young is one example of an artist that isn’t getting radio play in North America. “Why not create a buzz for some of these songs that deserve to be heard? We have an outlet for that.” The station may also prove a good outlet for local gay and lesbian talent, providing the music fits the format. Collins immediately lists Toronto artist Gavin Bradley as one artist already on the play list.

The on air personalities are also something that the station has a lot to be proud of. “In the mornings, we’ve picked up Ken Kostick and Mary-Jo Eustace,” Moreman says, referring to the duo formerly from What’s For Dinner? Eustace has also been in the gossip pages lately as it was her former husband that Tori Spelling ran off with. “We’re excited to have them on the air and to hear their banter back and forth and see where they are, so they’re in the morning from six until ten. For the afternoon drive we’ve picked up Maggie Cassella, who people will know from both television and radio, and we’re looking for her to put her spin on things, and I’m sure that she’ll have lots of opinions that people will, if not agree with, at least find amusing because she’s very, very funny. So we’re looking forward to that for the way home.” James Collins will also host a weekend show. In addition to the news, the station will also feature some longer talk components, one of which is a series called Voices to be aired once a week. “It will have people in their own voice, first person, relating stories from gay history if you will,” Moreman says. “For example, if we could find someone who was involved in the raids in the bathhouses here in 1981, if they could talk about their experience and what that was like, that’ll be what the Voices segment will be like. That’ll be about a half-hour of uninterrupted talk. But for the most part, it’ll be a music station with banter and some features.” For people outside of the Toronto area, fear not—Proud FM will be available on the Internet, where they will be simulcasting from the Toronto broadcast, along with podcasting of features and newscasts. “We hope to have both the Internet aspect and even the on-air be very interactive, so that people can send in requests or download a podcast, just to really get involved in the station,” Moreman says. “We want to make sure that people are getting what they want.” Into the future, there are definite plans to expand to other cities across Canada if it takes off, with Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, Calgary and Ottawa all on the list. “As licences become available, we have every intention of going after them,” Moreman assures us. We can hardly wait. _

For more information visit:

Chuck Fenda’s Living Fire Goes To Greensleeves

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(February 1, 2007) *Living Fire, the sophomore album from cultural/conscious deejay
Chuck Fenda, will be released next month by London’s Greensleeves Records. The 16 track set will be led by the international release of the single Coming Over Tonight, which features actress-turned-singer Cherine Anderson. The song has already topped local charts and is now making strides on various overseas reggae charts. Producer Shane Brown who produced most of the tracks on the album says the album took about six months to complete. ‘Fenda and I have a natural vibe together whenever we do songs, plus we have developed a good working relationship. If there is ever something that we don’t agree on, its always easy to reach a compromise’. Brown produced Fenda’s chart topping controversial single Gash Dem and Light Dem, which is also included on the album. The single topped local and overseas charts last year.

In explaining the topics explored on the album, Brown said ‘The album covers a few topics about life on a whole. Fenda calls himself the ‘Poor People’s Defender’ so on the album you hear him talking about poverty, crime and there are also a few songs that deal with matters of the heart’. Living Fire also features contributions from producers Christopher Birch, Marvin Williams (who produced the song Child of the Universe featuring Tanya Stephens), Harvel ‘Gadaffi’ Heart and Robert Bogle. Richie Spice also appears on the album. Brown who is known for a handful of projects released on his Juke Boxx label (Klymaxx rhythm), has worked with a number of artistes over the last five years. He produced nine songs on Junior Kelly’s debut album Love So Nice which was released by VP Records in 2001.  He is currently working on a dancehall rhythm called Chaos. He is also mixing projects for the likes of Birch, Daseca, Penthouse, Dean Fraser and the Big Yard label. Additionally, Brown is working on four tracks for the upcoming album from Morgan Heritage. Living Fire is the follow up to Chuck Fenda’s Better Living album which was released three years ago via Fifth Element Records.  Rough out Deh and I Swear are some of the songs from that disc, that impacted on the charts.

Life A Song For Jones

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Entertainment Reporter

(February 01, 2007)
Norah Jones seems to have the golden touch, breaking sales records with her new album before it even landed in record stores this week. But in an interview, she shrugged off the fact that her third disc, Not Too Late, was just declared the most pre-ordered disc in Amazon's online history with the same nonchalant, anti-Kanye West attitude she's displayed toward her 30-million-selling, eight-Grammy-winning career. "It's not like has been around for 100 years or something, my gosh," said the petite, 27-year-old New Yorker, erupting into giggles during a promotional stop in Toronto yesterday. Humility aside, the sweet-natured, publicity shy singer-songwriter-pianist acknowledged the good life that has been wrought by the success of her pleasing blend of pop, country and jazz on 2002's Come Away With Me and its 2004 follow-up Feels Like Home.  "I think in the first couple years I wasn't having the best time and now that I've relaxed a little I've learned to enjoy it.  "It's given me so much freedom to do what I want: financial freedom, creative freedom ... yet I don't feel like I've been put in some cage, like really famous people who you feel so bad for, because they can't go anywhere.  "I'm not like that. People don't really notice me that much."

Jones has exercised these freedoms most notably on Not Too Late by writing or co-writing every song on the disc (unlike her sporadic contributions on previous releases) and utilizing bassist boyfriend Lee Alexander to produce the album, recorded primarily in their Manhattan home studio. "It wasn't necessarily important to me to (write all the songs) for a record; I really wanted to get back into songwriting. I had just gotten into it right before the first record, then all the success just kind of overwhelmed that.  "When you travel a lot, it's hard to keep a routine going and with writing I realized I have to always have a voice recorder or notepad, and have the routine of writing down my thoughts when I have them. "I wrote a few songs with Lee for the second record, but they were songs he wrote the brunt of – I would come in and come up with a bridge. This time I was writing a lot and it felt so good to do that again." And what exactly was on the faithful balladeer's mind when she fell into this "songwriting groove" on her last tour? Well, love, of course, but with a gloomy twist: "Wish I Could" depicts two women lamenting the same fallen soldier, while "The Sun Doesn't Like You" suggests a conjugal prison visit. There's also the politically relevant "My Dear Country" – with the lyric "Nothing is as scary as election day" – and the cheekily drawn, but utterly pessimistic "Sinkin' Soon."

The latter is influenced by Tom Waits, she said. "I'm always listening to his music, because since college he's been one of my favourite artists. He's a huge inspiration and it seeps in. When we were writing `Sinkin' Soon' and especially when recording it, we definitely were thinking a Tom Waits vibe." A one-time jazz piano student who gigs with punk and country bands in her downtime, Jones in Not Too Late employs the same wistful, acoustic approach of earlier records, with many of the same musicians, including guitarists Jesse Harris and Toronto's Kevin Breit. But she's also added horns, trombone, sax and tuba for the first time. "I've always wanted that gritty sound of people like Tom Waits and my voice just isn't gritty. And I finally realized I'm not going to get it from my singing, so I to have to junk up the band. And I kind of played with that a little more this time around." Jones is slated to head out on the road in April, and her website is promising dates in Toronto and Montreal in May. The tour will pause after four weeks or so, easy living compared to her non-stop year and a half outing of yore. "I love to tour and have a great time doing it, but I don't feel the need to go to every town on the planet any more," she said. "We'll keep it fun and not make it work."

Cazhhmere: Canada’s Hottest Director’s Latest Video Earns High Rotation On MuchMusic

Source: Concept Inc.

(January 25, 2007)
Cazhhmere has quickly established herself as one of the hottest video directors in Canada. The Toronto native’s latest video “All About U” debuted on MuchMusic and MuchVibe in high rotation and entered the MuchMusic countdown at #30. “All About You” is the new single for Halifax rapper Classified and features Chad Hatcher.  Cazhhmere’s the creative force behind critically-acclaimed videos by the Black Jays, Brassmunk, Eternia, Carl Henry, Daryl Riley and many more and has earned reputation for being forward thinking and visually seductive. “All About U” is currently featured on the MuchMusic website: Having worked on projects involving the likes of LITTLE x, Alicia Keys, Jin and The Clipse, industry acclaim for Cazhhmere is building to a roar throughout Canada and the United States. "I'm going to hit and I'm going to hit hard," reassures Cazhhmere.   For interviews and more information, Contact: Concept Inc.,  

Bio for Cazhhmere

With her one of a kind insight into the entertainment lifestyle and connection to the pulse of the streets, Cazhhmere is uniquely suited to spearhead the next revolution in entertainment. "I have a deep passion for storytelling and music, and I love seeing the two meshed together," muses Cazhhmere.  "I love what I do… it's in my blood, it's been with me as long as I can remember." Indeed, Cazhhmere's love for drama and music started at an early age. Unlike most children her age, Cazhhmere not only listened to the music playing on the radio, she internalized it, and turned the melodies into mental pictures in her head. As she grew, Cazhhmere began to write these images down and formulate crude treatments for some of her favourite songs. "When I was younger music and film were my escape from a lonely childhood. I used to vibe on Janet Jackson, Prince, Chaka Kahn and Aerosmith and dream about a time that I would be writing treatments for them."

Though Cazhhmere initially studied Sociology and Psychology in university, she could not deny her real passions: film and music. She ultimately left Dalhousie University, and enrolled in film school where she gained an in-depth knowledge of the film industry.  At the same time, Cazhhmere interned at MuchMusic where she wowed the executives and was offered a position in the Urban Music Department. Here, she also met one of her future business partners, RT!. Impressed by her endless creative vision, RT! invited Cazhhmere to join the team, NEXT ELEMENT ENTERTAINMENT. "My first project with NEXT ELEMENT was a video for an artist named Tone. The chemistry was there and I've been part of the family ever since."  Past projects have included work with heavy-hitters like LITTLE x, MC Lyte, Rockwilder, Jin and The Clipse. Prepare yourself for the NEXT ELEMENT in entertainment!

Groundbreaking Artist/Producer Timbaland Gathers An Electrifying Line-up Of Talent For Shock Value Album

Source:  Universal Urban Music Canada

(January 30, 2007) New York, NYTimbaland is already acknowledged as one of music’s most inventive and distinctive creators.  Yet the artist/producer’s forthcoming album, just his second solo album, promises to shock the world.  Timbaland Presents Shock Value (Mosley Music Group/Blackground/Interscope) is set for release March 27, 2007.  The first single, “Give It To Me,” featuring Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado, launches February 1.  “My mission is to blow up the boundaries and tear down the limits,” says Timbaland.  “I’m taking my music outside of the box.  I’m not getting away from what I’m known for; I’m just going to a place where it’s all about the music, not about the labels on the music.  That’s why I call it Shock Value--from the artists to the production, it will shock the system.”   Timbaland is coming off producing the majority of the tracks, including the #1 “SexyBack,” on Timberlake’s #1 charting, multiplatinum FutureSex/LoveSounds album, which followed their work together on his previous smash Justified.  He is also a special guest on Timberlake’s current 2007 FutureSex/LoveShow World Tour.  Timbaland’s performance marks not only his first tour in many years and, his first world tour, but also the debut of some beats and original music from Shock Value.   

Shock Value is sequenced like a movie, Timbaland reveals, with a non-stop flow that tells a story.  With off-the-wall beats, raps, hooks, and his signature sound, the album fuses genres from rap and hip-hop to pop, punk pop and garage rock to South Asian influences.  The album’s guest artists range from Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg to Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado; from The Hives, She Wants Revenge and Fall Out Boy to Elton John (on piano) and newer artists such as Sri Lankan hip-hopper M.I.A. and Keri Hilson (the latter signed, as is Furtado, to Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group, a joint venture with Interscope). Timbaland’s enormous, critically acclaimed success as a producer has resulted in hits by Missy Elliott (“The Rain”), Aaliyah (“If Your Girl Only Knew”), Ginuwine (“Pony”), Jay-Z (“Big Pimpin’”), Nas (“You Won’t See Me Tonight”), Snoop Dogg (“Snoop Dogg [What’s My Name, Pt. 2]”), Ludacris (“Rollout [My Business]”), Furtado (“Promiscuous”) and many others.  As a headliner, he teamed with Magoo for 1997’s groundbreaking Welcome To Our World, followed the next year by his solo debut, Tim’s BioIndecent Proposal (2001) and Under Construction, Pt. II (2002) were once again billed with Magoo.   The 38-date North American leg of the FutureSex/LoveShow World Tour, with opening act Pink, kicked off in San Diego , CA on January 8th and runs through March.

Jermaine Dupri Named President of Island Records Urban Music

Source: Island Def Jam Music Group

(February 7, 2007) NEW YORK, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ --
Jermaine Dupri, one of the industry's most consistently successful top-charted producers and songwriters, has been appointed president of Island Records Urban Music, a new division of the Island Def Jam Music Group, it was announced today by Antonio "L.A." Reid, Chairman, Island Def Jam Music Group. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Dupri will oversee Island's entire urban music operation. In addition, he will produce artists on the IDJ roster, as well as provide his production services to the entire Universal Music Group family of labels. In this newly created position, Mr. Dupri will report directly to Mr. Reid, and to Steve Bartels, President, Island Records/COO, Island Def Jam Music Group, on operational matters. Dupri will be based in Atlanta and New York. "Jermaine's career has grown from strength to strength over the years," said Mr. Reid, "as a producer and songwriter and recording artist in his own right, as a respected label executive and entrepreneur, and as a highly esteemed developer of new talent. His deep ties to Atlanta's creative R&B and hip-hop community have been the springboard to working with the greatest names in contemporary music. This is a tremendous step forward for Island Records and its established roster of artists who will benefit enormously from Jermaine's presence."

"I'm so excited to be reunited with L.A. Reid because most of my biggest hits were when he and I worked together," said Mr. Dupri. "And then to be working side by side with Steve Bartels -- I don't think there's a better team because he's by far the best in the game. I can't wait for us to start stuntin' on y'all." "I am thrilled that Jermaine has decided to join the Island Def Jam family," said Mr. Bartels. "Jermaine is a prestigious hitmaker as well as a production wizard. I personally look forward to helping be part of once again, adding to and continuing his illustrious legacy." Jermaine Dupri is one of the pre-eminent figures in Urban Music today. He has written, produced, or mixed hit records for many of the industry's top artists. His long-distance run of hits with Usher, which began in 1997, culminated with 2004's string of "Burn," "Confessions Part II," and "My Boo" (a duet with Alicia Keys) which drove 8-times platinum sales of Usher's Confessions album, making it the best-selling album of the year.

Dupri is no stranger to the Island roster, having co-written and produced the Mariah Carey #1 hits "We Belong Together" (for which he shared the Grammy award for Best R&B Song), "Shake It Off," and "Don't Forget About Us." All three were from The Emancipation of Mimi, the #1 top-selling album of 2005. In addition to his collaborations with IDJ artists Jay-Z, Ludacris, and Lionel Richie, Dupri has turned out hits with Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, TLC, Run-DMC, Toni Braxton, Alicia Keyes, Nelly, Chingy, Janet Jackson, Monica, Aaliyah, Ciara, and many others. Jermaine Dupri was 19 years old when he produced his first #1 record on the Billboard Hot 100, Kris Kross' 1992 single, "Jump." The 5-times platinum sales of the teen duo's debut album led to Dupri's founding of the So So Def label in 1993. He was quickly marked as one of the foremost young entrepreneurs driving the arrival of hip-hop as a central creative and commercial force in mainstream music. So So Def became known as an engine not only of hit records, but of artist development, as Dupri went on to sign and nurture the careers of many gold, platinum, and multi-platinum selling artists including Xscape, Da Brat, Jagged Edge, Lil' Bow Wow, Dem Franchize Boyz, J-Kwon, Youngbloodz, and Anthony Hamilton.


Nominees For Soul Train Awards Announced

Excerpt from

(February 7, 2007) *Beyoncé earned three nominations from the 21st annual
Soul Train Music Awards to lead all honourees, it was announced Tuesday during a press conference at Spago, Beverly Hills.  Receiving two nods each were Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Chris Brown, Gnarls Barkley, Ne-Yo, Yung Joc, Jagged Edge and The Isley Brothers featuring Ronald Isley. Beyoncé’s current No. 1 single, “Irreplaceable,” was recognized in the categories of Best R&B/Soul Single, Female and Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video, while her CD “B’Day” was nominated for Best R&B/Soul Album. In addition, 20 other recording artists received one nomination each, including Jay-Z, Jamie Foxx, Keyshia Cole, Letoya, Danity Kane, The Pussycat Dolls featuring Avant, Monica, Busta Rhymes featuring & Kelis, Dem Franchize Boyz featuring Lil Peanut & Charley, India Arie, Avant, Lupe Fiasco, Sean Paul, Kirk Franklin, Rick Ross, Robin Thicke, Jim Jones, The Caravans, Bishop G.E. Patterson & Congregation, Webstar & Young B Featuring The Voice of Harlem and Youth for Christ.

At the Tuesday morning announcement at Spago in Beverly Hills, the absence of Soul Train creator and Executive Producer Don Cornelius was more than obvious. We were told that he was "under the weather," suffering from a bout of food poisoning, but will be OK in a day or two. Meantime, Omarion was on hand to announce the nominees and will also co-host the March 10th ceremony at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium along with fellow R&B singer LeToya. The show will broadcast in first run, national syndication from March 17 through March 24 via Tribune Entertainment Company Distribution. Here are the 2007 Nominations:

Best R&B/Soul Single, Female   
“Irreplaceable”  Beyoncé
 “Take Me As I Am”  Mary J. Blige
 “Love”  Keyshia Cole
 “Torn”  LeToya

Best R&B/Soul Single, Male   
“4 Minutes”  Avant   
“Yo (Excuse Me Miss)”   Chris Brown
 “Save Room”   John Legend
 “Sexy Love”   Ne-Yo
Best R&B/Soul Single, Group, Band or Duo 
“Crazy”  Gnarls Barkley
“Just Came Here to Chill”  The Isley Brothers Featuring Ronald Isley
 “Good Luck Charm”  Jagged Edge
“Stickwitu”  The Pussycat Dolls Featuring Avant

Best R&B/Soul Album, Female   
“B’Day”  Beyoncé
“The Breakthrough” Mary J. Blige
“Testimony: Vol. I Life & Relationship”  India Arie 
  “The Makings of Me”  Monica

Best R&B/Soul Album, Male   
“Chris Brown”   Chris Brown
“Unpredictable”   Jamie Foxx
“Once Again”  John Legend
“The Evolution of Robin Thicke”  Robin Thicke

Best R&B/Soul Album, Group, Band or Duo
“Danity Kane”   Danity Kane
“St. Elsewhere”  Gnarls Barkley
 “Baby Makin’ Music”  The Isley Brothers Featuring Ronald Isley
“Jagged Edge”   Jagged Edge

Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist  
Lupe Fiasco  “Gotcha”
Ne-Yo  “Sexy Love” 
Rick Ross “Hustlin’” 
Yung Joc  “It’s Goin’ Down”

The Michael Jackson Award For Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video
 “Irreplaceable”  Beyoncé
 “I Love My Chick”  Busta Rhymes Featuring & Kelis
“Show Me What You Got” Jay-Z
“We Fly High”  Jim Jones

Best R&B/Soul or Rap Dance Cut
“Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It”  Dem Franchize Boyz Featuring Lil Peanut & Charlay
 “Give It Up to Me” Sean Paul feat. Keyshia Cole
 “Chicken Noodle Soup”   Webstar &Young B Featuring The Voice of Harlem
“It’s Goin’ Down”  Yung Joc

Best Gospel Album 
“Paved the Way”  The Caravans
“Songs from the Storm, Volume I”  Kirk Franklin
“Singing the Old Time Way, Volume II”  Bishop G.E. Patterson & Congregation
“The Struggle is Over”  Youth for Christ

Sometimes Prince's Guitar Is Just A Guitar

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jake Coyle, Associated Press

(February 07, 2007) NEW YORK – In the sensitive, post-wardrobe malfunction world, some are asking whether a guitar was just a guitar during Prince's Super Bowl halftime show. Prince's acclaimed performance included a guitar solo during the ``Purple Rain" segment of his medley Sunday in which his shadow was projected onto a large, flowing sheet. As the 48-year-old rock star let rip, the silhouette cast by his figure and his guitar (shaped like the singer's symbol) had phallic connotations for some. A number of bloggers have cried "Malfunction!" – including Sam Anderson at New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer. Daily News television critic David Bianculli called it "a rude-looking shadow show" that "looked embarrassingly rude, crude and unfortunately placed." CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said Tuesday the network has received "very few" complaints on Prince's performance. CBS last aired the Super Bowl in 2004, when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's "wardrobe malfunction" sparked criticism and a crackdown on broadcast decency from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. But this time, it was the National Football League that produced the halftime show, while MTV had in 2004. NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has received no complaints.

"We respect other opinions, but it takes quite a leap of the imagination to make a controversy of his performance," Aiello said. ``It's a guitar." The majority of the reaction to Prince's performance has been praise, including positive reviews from The Associated Press, the New York Times and USA Today – all of which noted the lack of controversy in this year's halftime show. AP Entertainment Writer Douglas J. Rowe wrote: "He delivered one of the best Super Bowl halftime shows – ever." For decades, the electric guitar, by nature, has been considered phallic. From Jimi Hendrix's sensual six-string swagger to Eddie Van Halen's masturbatory soloing, the guitar has often been thought an extension of a male player's sexuality. Was Prince's pose phallic? "The short answer is, of course it is," says Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor Gavin Edwards, who points out that on Prince's "Purple Rain" tour in the mid 1980s, he performed with a guitar that would ejaculate, squirting water out of its end during the climax of "Let's Go Crazy." "All that said, it didn't seem like a sniggering little puppet show," adds Edwards. "I think it was one of those things because a guitar at waist level does look like an enormous phallus." By enlarging his shadow, it is possible Prince intended to accentuate this aspect of his solo but it is just as likely it was accidental. A message left with Prince's publicist Tuesday was not returned. The late-night shows have taken notice. On CBS's "The Late Late Show" on Sunday night, host Craig Ferguson said of Prince: "He was obviously very happy to be there, wasn't he?"

Stephen Colbert reacted with mock outrage on Comedy Central's ``The Colbert Report" Monday night: "They knew that they were dealing with a lustful, pansexual rock 'n' roll deviant," said Colbert, who joked that the sheet hid (not enhanced) Prince's ``demonic guitar phallus." In recent years, Prince has scaled down his performances, which were once renowned for their gymnastics. His mini-concert at Sunday's game included parts of "Purple Rain," "Let's Go Crazy," ``Baby I'm a Star," Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," the Foo Fighter's "Best of You" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's ``Proud Mary." The Minnesota native has attracted controversy before. Tipper Gore launched a campaign to place a warning sticker on his 1984 album "Purple Rain" because of the lyrics to the song "Darling Nikki." Though his musical style has been expansive, he is best known for funky, sexually charged songs like "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and "Get Off." Prince's previously most talked-about performance came at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, where he donned yellow, butt-baring pants. Always eccentric, he famously changed his name to a symbol, becoming to most commentators "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince". He eventually changed his name back to Prince. He also became a Jehovah's Witness in the mid-1990s. But Prince's halftime performance, though celebrated, came in a much different cultural environment, where even the fleeting outline of a man and his guitar could, for some, suggest shaded depravity. "If people want to be hypersensitive, they can be hypersensitive," says Rolling Stone's Edwards. "Those trombones are phallic, too. What are you going to do?"

Hanson Walks Tall On New Album

Excerpt from - Katie Hasty, N.Y.

(February 02, 2007) Last year, sibling trio
Hanson spent time lecturing performance and entertainment law students in college about its bumpy 5-year arc of major-label heartache, chronicled in the documentary "Strong Enough To Break." But this year, fans can expect talking, walking and rocking from the band in the form of a new album, "The Walk," as well as an accompanying "making-of" video podcast, "Taking the Walk."  The group's sixth full-length effort, "The Walk," will be released May 22 through Hanson's own 3CG label. "Taking a Walk" will become available, in increments, before the end of this month via the band's Web site and iTunes.  "Each week, we're able to say, 'Here's the craft, from the inside, and our new political struggles as we take them on,'" Taylor Hanson tells "As an independent band, we need to know and use the tools our fans use to spread the word about the music. We know what our fans respond to, so we hope this just fuels our base."  Listeners had an opportunity to download the set's first single, "Great Divide," in November when it was released to iTunes in an effort to raise money for AIDS/HIV hospitals in South Africa. "We liked the feeling of taking something we had and then giving it away," Taylor explains.  It was the band's visit to that country that helped fuel the general theme of the record: a journey. After the mellow feel of 2004's "Underneath," the group was ready to craft something with more energy and "soul. It comes in waves. Sometimes, we just need something real rootsy and down to earth. Other times, we need to really get something out of our systems," Taylor says.

Hanson tapped friends like Fastball's Miles Zuniga, Boston-based songwriter Bleu and the Nixons' Zac Maloy to contribute to the effort, while veteran producer Danny Kortchmar (Neil Young, Bon Jovi) helmed the boards.  Episodes of "Strong Enough To Break" have also been made free via podcast. As previously reported, the film takes viewers behind the scenes of its struggle with Island/Def Jam while recording "Underneath." This will mark the first time the film has been made available to the public -- and the group also ensured that it came at no cost.  "We hope that ['Strong Enough To Break'] is so much more powerful now that it's free and available to the public. We think a lot of bands can relate, too," Taylor says. "We were approached by professors after we'd finish presenting the film, asking if we could put it on DVD so they could show it to their future classes. This gives a new wave for the film."  The group is in the midst of planning a U.S. headlining tour for April and May.

R&B At Heart Of Posthumous Levert Album

Excerpt from - Gail Mitchell, L.A.

(February 02, 2007) By all accounts,
Gerald Levert was extremely excited about "In My Songs," the studio album he wrapped just prior to his death of a heart attack last Nov. 10. As previously reported, the Atlantic Records album arrives Feb. 13.  Making the transition from his previous project, 2004's socially conscious "Do I Speak for the World?," Levert refocused on his R&B legacy. "He was excited because he felt this album was something special," Warner Music Group executive VP Kevin Liles tells Billboard. "He told me, 'I want to make sure I deliver, Kev. I'm not an old guy; I'm only 39 and have this voice.'"  The album is also about Levert's arrival at a personal crossroads before his untimely death. That especially comes across on the lead single/title track, a ballad juxtaposes his love of music with love of a special someone.

"Gerald always made personal albums that have been about his experiences," Liles says. "But with this album, I think he really became vulnerable. On 'Songs,' you can tell he missed being loved. Everyone knows his passion for music, but something else was missing in his life. I think this album was therapy for him."  Describing "In My Songs" as a classic R&B album with a perfect mixture of heartfelt feeling and emotion, Levert's manager, Leonard Brooks, says it underscores the singer's his creative and energetic force.  "This album tells you where he was in his life," Brooks says. "He was 40, 22 years in the business, and still working very hard. It's going to be difficult putting this album out with him not here. But it doesn't stop, and he wouldn't have wanted it to stop."

The Underdogs: The Art Of Making Hits

Excerpt from - Gail Mitchell, L.A.

(February 01, 2007) Catching time to talk these days with the
Underdogs, aka Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas, isn't easy.  When Billboard first spoke with the hit-making producers last year, the duo was holed up at its Hollywood studio, knee-deep in a recording session with Chris Brown, who is now nominated for a best new artist Grammy Award.  It was about a month before the Dec. 5 release of the pair's first soundtrack effort, "Dreamgirls," and just a few days shy of the release of the pair's second film-related project, "Bobby." That soundtrack is fronted by Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige on "Never Gonna Break My Faith," co-produced by the Underdogs and the song's co-writer, Bryan Adams.  The next encounter came on the day the Golden Globe nominations were announced. "Listen," co-produced by Beyonce} and the Underdogs (it's the singer's signature song in "Dreamgirls"), picked up a best song nod. It was one of five nominations the film garnered. Also vying for best song: "Never Gonna Break My Faith."  Asked if they were going to celebrate that evening, Mason and Thomas answered almost in unison with an emphatic no.  In fact, they were on their way back to the studio for a session with singer Heather Headley.  "We have to worry about next year now," Mason said.  Thomas added, "It's time for us to work harder than we've ever worked."

What was the hardest thing about producing the "Dreamgirls" soundtrack?

Thomas: Just trying to get to know what director Bill Condon wanted. He's a great director and knows exactly what he wants. He knew every lyric to every song; knew where a handicap was. We ultimately had to go through different versions of songs to find out what he wanted. But he was very helpful in explaining to us what direction he wanted to go in.

Mason: Music supervisors Randy Spendlove and Matt Sullivan worked with us every day, making sure we accomplished what Bill wanted. We were searching all over the place to find exactly how to achieve the balance between respecting the original songs and the time period from whence they came and updating the material for today's theatre audience. We were walking a fine line.

What is it about your production style that you think helped seal the deal for your first soundtrack?

Thomas: We're not just R&B guys. We can do pop, rock, blues . . . a wide variety. Both of us are musicians and play several instruments. We understand how to record things live and work with an orchestra. We can also program with a drum machine and work with all the other computerized components that are current today.

Mason: We're pretty diversified as producers. I think the music supervisors saw that initially and took that to Geffen. In our studio we have a grand piano, drums, an organ and actual recording rooms with microphones-things you're not seeing in a lot of young producers' studios. We like to incorporate a love of live material in our productions, including string arrangements.

This project dovetailed with a second soundtrack opportunity, another story set in the '60s: "Bobby."

Mason: The head of music for the Weinstein Co. heard the material we'd done for "Dreamgirls" and came to the studio. She wanted help on the end-title song, written by Bryan Adams. But beyond creatively working with Aretha, Mary and the Harlem Boys Choir, they needed someone to deal with the business and administrative aspects of putting this together.

Like with "Dreamgirls." We were dealing with musicians, the director, the music supervisors, special-effects people, union contracts, studio budgets, engineers, contractors. It's more than just D and I sitting at the piano and playing different chords. It's very challenging organizationally.

Thomas: [laughs] It's intense. Film people don't care if you might have Aretha or anyone else in the studio. If they need something, they need it then and it's got to be done.

Describe working with two R&B titans, Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige.

Mason: When Aretha came to our studio last September, it was very easy to collaborate with her as far as getting a great vocal. But she has distinct ideas of what she wants to do and also a very high set of standards. She'd do something, and we'd say, "Great."

D and I are both pretty hard to please when it comes to vocals. We spend a lot of time and pride in our vocal production, but she was pushing even further. To see that was pretty inspiring.

Thomas: We talked to her for a good half-hour beforehand. She's full of stories. It was like having royalty at the studio. Something you call your mom about.

Mason: Harvey Weinstein had the idea of putting Mary on for a duet. To get her, we ended up flying to New York and recording her at the Sony Studios. When she came to the studio, I thought she was in some kind of funk. But she was just really preparing herself for the song. When she got in the booth, I could tell she was feeling the song's inspirational lyrics and was ready to record. Her first take was incredible. The next day the choir came in and sang their part, and that was how we did it.

How do you approach working with an established artist versus a newcomer?

Mason: It's fairly similar. The only difference is you have a history to draw information from with an established artist. We know what Aretha sounds like; what her range is. The same goes for Mary. You can go back to past vocal performances and gauge what you're doing from there and try to improve upon that. With new artists, you really don't have anything to reference. You're helping to develop their sound, define who they are vocally. That's the only difference.

Technically, we approach it the same way. We try to get them to give their best performance by making them feel comfortable and giving them the confidence as a producer that we're there to look out for them and make them sound great. Then it's a collaboration at that point. They're putting their ideas out, we're putting our ideas out; going back and forth until we get that great performance.

Are more soundtracks in the works?

Mason: Yes, people are talking to us about other films.
Thomas: Tracey Edmonds [president/COO of Our Stories Films, a co-venture between BET founder Bob Johnson and the Weinstein Co.] also says she's looking for something to do with us.

Besides soundtracks, Underdog Entertainment comprises a stable of writer/producers, Universal Music Publishing-administered Underdog Publishing and J Records-distributed Underdog Records.

Mason: Our goal was always to have a music factory. And it's really gotten to that point, as we oversee 10 writer/producers. These people work with us and independent of us on their own projects. Our label has signed three artists: Luke & Q, female act Girlfriend and former Epic artist Glenn Lewis.

Thomas: Among our writers is Steve Russell. Formerly a lead singer with the group Troop, he's been with us six years. All of our writers are talented musicians who don't just program drums. The musicianship is sick up in here. If we wanted to go out and play as a live band behind someone, we'd kill. We also have four full-time engineers.

How do you juggle devoting time to your label versus other Underdog concerns?

Mason: Because we're both involved in all aspects of the label and the production company, it is difficult to budget time. It's been a learning curve for the last two years, picking up the ins and outs about the business side of making records. We feel pretty comfortable making music for our but beyond that there have been other things to take into account, including promotion, marketing, airplay.

Luke & Q bowed last year with the single "TK," didn't they?

Mason: We were testing the waters with that song. Now we have the official first single, club record "Turn It Around" featuring Young Dro.

Thomas: We wanted to have a record that represented where these two kids are from, New Orleans. Once we had that record, we reshaped the album around that and came up with the whole sound for them. It took us a couple of years of development to get them where we wanted. They are R&B singers with vocals like K-Ci & JoJo and hip-hop stories from the South.

Beyond a few exceptions last year, R&B/hip-hop sales have been wobbling. Is R&B still on the upswing?

Thomas: You could get away with one great song on an album, but there's no more of that now. It's a different dynamic because of downloading; now kids can make the choice of listening first before they buy. You have to put out a strong album. If pound for pound there are great songs on the record, people will buy it, period. It's definitely been on the upswing since Mary, Chris Brown and others.

Mason: The more people who come from musical backgrounds and go into promotion, production, songwriting, A&R, plus get their business head together, the better. They'll not only understand the business aspect, they'll also have a true passion and ear for how quality is represented musically. Plus consumers will always have a hunger for R&B music.
Thomas: If you listen to Justin Timberlake and others, a lot of the hot music today comes from what's being done in R&B and hip-hop.

Is it still a producer-driven industry, or has that evened out?

Mason: It's more songwriter-driven than anything. The premium right now is being placed on the song, as it should be. There was a time when certain producers could produce just about anything, and the label execs would say, "That's a such-and-such record. Let's put that out as the first single."

The way radio is working right now, you can't put out anything just based on the producer's name. The general public and radio are so selective and focused on a certain genre and a certain set of songs that you have to have a great song to crack through all that.

Then is there an Underdog sound?

Thomas: Yes, it has to do with our chord progressions, melodies, vocal production, drums. It's all those things put together.

Mason: When we do R&B midtempos or ballads, there's an Underdogs sound. Like D says, it starts with our music. The drums have a certain sound; the basslines and bridges are distinctive. It's the way we sonically mix our records. The way we stack and arrange our vocals is different from what others do.

People are now catching on to that and catching up. But we constantly try to change and stay fresh. The only confusing part of that answer is we've done a lot of different styles of music: R&B, hip-hop, rock, orchestral. So when people hear us doing a rock'n'roll record or a movie like "Dreamgirls," they'll say, "Hey, that doesn't sound like an Underdogs sound."

Can you name a couple of songs that quintessentially capture the Underdogs sound?

Mason: That's a tough call. Omarion's "O" is signature Underdog, I think. Mario's "How Could You," Ruben Studdard's "Change Me."

You're due to work with Whitney Houston. Among others collaborating with her is Akon, who told Billboard recently that he'll be doing uptempo records with her since she's coming out of a dark period. Have you figured out what approach you'll take?

Mason: We've met with Clive [Davis] a couple of times about direction and what he's expecting. It's some of what Akon was saying. However, Whitney also needs to have the songs that everybody loves to hear her sing. We'll get more into it in January.

Can you name a couple of songs that quintessentially capture the Underdogs sound?

Mason: That's a tough call. Omarion's "O" is signature Underdog, I think. Mario's "How Could You," Ruben Studdard's "Change Me."

What one characteristic about each other was proof that this partnership would work?

Mason: It was D's sheer talent musically and his winner's energy. The first song we wrote [Tyrese's "I Like Them Girls"] came naturally. The next thing we knew, three people wanted the song. So it was a quick transition to a partnership. But even before people liked the song, it was fun collaborating with someone on equal footing.

D is also a motivator with big goals and dreams; he thinks on a winner's scale. I have a sports background and tend to pick up on that from people pretty quickly. I remember when we first got together, he talked then about having a nice studio.

Thomas: As far as musical talent is concerned, we both bring our A-game. But other than that, Harvey is the general of our camp. I'll be the one who gets everybody pumped up. But Harvey is the one who's going to make sure everything is done and our business is handled correctly. He can go harder than anybody. Where I can go crazy [laughs], he can always bring that balance to our partnership.

People are now catching on to that and catching up. But we constantly try to change and stay fresh. The only confusing part of that answer is we've done a lot of different styles of music: R&B, hip-hop, rock, orchestral. So when people hear us doing a rock'n'roll record or a movie like "Dreamgirls," they'll say, "Hey, that doesn't sound like an Underdogs sound."

Singing New Life Into Old Songs

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Michael Posner

(Feb. 5, 07) It is not the case,
Maude Maggart would have you know, that every member of her family is in show business. She has two half-sisters who lead very conventional lives, out of the limelight.  Everyone else, on the other hand, pretty much is in the biz -- including, of course, 31-year-old Maude herself. A new sensation in the world of musical cabaret, she is just finishing off a three-week-plus engagement at the Algonquin Hotel's legendary Oak Room in New York. Then there's her younger sister, pop-singer/songwriter Fiona Apple; her half-brothers, actor Garett and director Spencer Maggart; and her parents, actress Diane McAfee and actor Brandon Maggart, who met as cast members in the Broadway musical Applause in 1970. Going back another generation, her grandmother, 96-year-old Millicent Green, was a teenage dancer on Broadway in the 1926 George White's Scandals review, while 93-year-old grandfather Johnny McAfee sang with several big bands, including the Harry James Orchestra in the thirties and forties. So Maude Maggart, who has lately caused New York music mavens to search for new superlatives, certainly comes by it honestly. To hear her sing is to be transported back in time. In part, it's simply the voice, which in its upper registers has an almost ethereal quality, and in its lower zone an earthy seductiveness. Or as her friend and cabaret mentor Andrea Marcovicci put it: "She has a voice we haven't heard in 60 years." But it's also the material, most of it drawn from the early American songbook.

Even her name, Maude -- changed from Amber more than a decade ago, it was her great-great-grandmother's first name -- harkens back to another era. Maggart isn't entirely comfortable with the label "cabaret singer;" she prefers just "singer." Still, it's in the intimacy of such a venue that she works best. In the cozy confines of the Algonquin, with understated accompaniment on the piano by Lanny Meyers and on guitar and cello by Yair Evnine, she can literally make eye contact with the entire room. The melodies -- by Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Noel Coward, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, among others -- sell themselves. Maggart sings them straight ahead, unembellished by jazzy vocal accoutrement. What she is essentially selling is her way around a lyric, her ability to find and deliver the emotional heart of the song -- a depth of commitment to the material you won't find in much better-known chanteuses, among them the icy Diana Krall. Now playing to rave reviews, Maggart's current show Good Girl/Bad Girl, her third at the Oak Room, is themed and carefully constructed. All of the songs, from A.P. Randolph's How Could Red Riding Hood? to Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's The Folks Who Live on the Hill to Gershwin's Do It Again, stand at some indefinite point on the passion and betrayal continuum. Among the standouts is You Belong to Me, recorded by Jo Stafford, Patsy Cline and Patti Page, among others. (An interesting anecdotal gloss to the song, as Maggart explained, is that the words and music were written by a woman, Chilton Price, although two better-known and better-connected men, Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King, were listed as co-writers.) The four-decade run of the classic American song is thought to have ended in the mid-1950s, swept away by a rock 'n' roll tsunami, but Maggart notes that great songs like Joan Baez's Love Song to a Stranger -- also part of her act -- continue to be written. She intends to inject more of them into her repertoire.

Maggart owes much to Andrea Marcovicci, a cabaret veteran who took the young singer under wing, helping her choose material and find the right approach to the song. Maggart was just a teenager when she saw her future mentor perform in Los Angeles. "It was the most special thing I had ever seen, and I came home and wrote reams about it my diary," Maggart recalled in a recent interview. "But I was too timid to speak to her for a long time." After her parents' divorce, Maggart lived a bi-coastal childhood, spending the school year with her mother in New York and summers with her father in Venice Beach, Calif. She saw Marcovicci's act several times, but never spoke to her until 1999, at a memorial service for composer and family friend Marshall Barer (Once Upon a Mattress and Here I Come to Save the Day, the Mighty Mouse theme song). At the time, Maggart was still trying to determine "what I wanted to do with my life." She had sung at the Barer service and, the next day, Marcovicci called Maggart's father and said she'd be prepared to help if Maude wanted to become a singer. "I owe everything to Andrea," she now says. "She shared all of her knowledge about cabaret, her music library, protocol, how to take the audience on a journey, and how to become myself. She never tried to turn me into a little clone." Later, Maggart got a boost from another major cabaret star -- Michael Feinstein -- who invited her to perform with him during a two-week run at the Algonquin and again at Carnegie Hall.  In other words, two of the biggest names in cabaret have given Maggart their endorsement. Maggart says she has also been influenced by Helen Forrest, who sang with Artie Shaw's orchestra and later Harry James's, and to some extent by Helen Morgan, a torch singer from the twenties and thirties. "There's a fragility and tenderness with her that is kind of untouched," Maggart says of Morgan. Next stop is London. Maggart opens a weeklong gig at the Jermyn Street Theatre later this month. And there's a new CD, Maude Maggart Live, a compilation from live performances in New York and Los Angeles, due out this week. The themed evening of songs echoes Marcovicci's approach. "I like to know why people pick songs -- that it's not just a potpourri," says Maggart. "You can carve out a pathway for the audience. I'm singing songs a lot of people don't sing any more, and we are keeping that history alive. It's storytelling."

We Remember Two Motown Veterans: Billy Henderson of the Spinners; original Funk Brother Joe Hunter Both Pass

Excerpt from

(February 5, 2007) *The music world mourns the deaths of two soul legends who crossed paths during the 1950s at Motown and went on to help shape the sound of rhythm and blues through the early 70s.   Singer
Billy Henderson, a member of the band the Spinners, died Friday of complications from diabetes at a Daytona Beach health care facility, according to his wife, Barbara. He was 67.

Also on Friday, the Detroit News reported that Motown's first Funk Brother
Joe Hunter, 79, was found dead in his Detroit apartment. While a cause of death was unknown at press time, Hunter also suffered from diabetes, and appeared as if he was trying to take some medication when he died, according to his son. Hunter’s specific style of piano playing anchored Motown’s in-house studio band, known as the Funk Brothers, and helped to define the distinctive “Motown Sound.”  The three-time Grammy winner had just returned to Detroit Sunday from a European tour with fellow Funk Brother Jack Ashford, reports the Detroit News. Hunter moved to Detroit at age 11 from his birthplace of Jackson, Tenn. After playing behind such artists as Jackie Wilson and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. hired him to back up artists on his roster, such as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Hunter was Motown’s first hired musician and first bandleader during the company’s early days in the late ‘50s.

His work is the first thing heard on Marvin Gaye’s classic song "Pride and Joy," as well as Martha and the Vandellas' "Heat Wave" and "Come and Get These Memories."  Meanwhile, singer Billy Henderson was also embarking on an R&B career as a high school student in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, Mich.  In 1954, he joined four of his close classmates to form the Spinners and the group signed to Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records. Only two of their singles charted before the entire label was purchased by Motown in 1963.  The Spinners made their debut as Motown artists the following year at the Apollo Theater, but Billboard’s Hot 100 chart still eluded them, with the exception of their 1965 single “I’ll Always Love You,” which reached No. 35.   Gordy moved the Spinners to Motown’s V.I.P. imprint in 1969, and the group returned to the chart with their No. 14 single “It’s A Shame,” penned by Stevie Wonder. But their biggest hits would come after they left Motown and signed with Atlantic Records in 1972. Under new producer/songwriter Thom Bell and new lead singer Philipe Wynne, the group released “The Spinners,” which generated five top 100 singles and two top 10s, “I’ll Be Around” and “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love.”  A later single, “The Rubberband Man,” reached No. 2 on the charts.   In 1977, Wynne was replaced by Jonathan Edwards and the group scored such 80s hits as “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me Girl” and "Cupid/I've Loved You for a Long Time."   Four of the original band members, including Henderson, continued to perform together until he was fired in 2004 after suing the group's corporation and business manager to obtain financial records.   Funeral services will be held at the Volusia Memorial Funeral Home in Port Orange on Saturday, Feb. 10. Henderson is survived by his wife and three children, Charles Ross Jr., William Sterling Henderson, and Joseph Henderson.  Shortly before his death, Henderson was reportedly working on a new group with Charles and William - Spinners Part Too, Inc. - that would sing Spinners songs.

Roots Feeling Synth-y On 'Game Theory' Follow-Up

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(February 06, 2007)
The Roots' Def Jam debut, "Game Theory," isn't even six months old, but the group is already at work on its follow-up, which drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson tells will either be out in October 2007 or February 2008.  "We are using a lot of synthesizer, but I don't know if I could call this the electronic album or not," Thompson says. "Pretty much five or six songs are done, and four of them are synth-heavy." The Roots have also recorded an original song, "I Will Not Apologize," based on an old track from Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. "I know somehow I'm going to find the common thread of all this stuff," Thompson offers. "I don't know what to call it, but it's something."  Thompson admits "Game Theory" may have been a bit of a downer both in music and subject matter, but he says the Roots have invigorated the material now that they're finally on tour in the United States. The group plays San Francisco tonight (Feb. 7) and tomorrow, before headlining a special pre-Grammy show in L.A. on Saturday with Jill Scott, Lupe Fiasco and Akon.

"['Game Theory'] is so melancholy and emotional and moody that our current live show absolutely betrays the feeling of that album," Thompson says. "I don't know what happened -- no one gave us the memo. We decided this is going to be our most exclamation point-filled show ever."  "Also, we've presented our show very differently," he continues. "We're up to a 10-man group and it's not one, long three-hour show. We're like our own opening act, middle act and headline act. We do different configurations of all 10 of us. It's a whole new energy. I can even tell by the reviews on our Web site that people notice a difference."  Thompson says he is unfazed by the marketplace response to "Game Theory," which shifted 61,000 copies in its first week but only 113,000 since. He points to Def Jam president Jay-Z as an example of how even for superstar acts, going gold might be the new platinum.  "Even my president, with a $20 million campaign, has a victory at 1.3 million copies," he says of Jay'Z's "Kingdome Come." "We knew this album was going to have as much to do with the marketplace as Barbra Streisand on the soul charts. But the way I look at it, this is definitely a return to form for us. Critics say we got our mojo back and our fan base agreed. That's really all we were concerned about."

Who Says Legends Need To Sing?

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vit Wagner, Pop Music Critic

(February 07, 2007) At 62, Rod Stewart can't sing nearly as well as he used to – which, given where he was at the peak of his powers as a vocalist, is a polite way of saying that at this point in his career he pretty much can't sing at all. Or, rather, he has begun to sound disconcertingly like that friend or relative who has made such a prolonged habit of singing along to the car radio that everyone within earshot is too kind or too inured to the whole business to muster any complaint. Okay, maybe that wasn't such a polite a way of putting it after all. And it'll serve me right if I am deluged with hate mail as a consequence. But, really, what has the guy got to fear from one unhappy voice among the chorus of cheers? He's rich. He's famous. He still seems relatively fit, even if he can't move with the same agility as he once did. And he's still capable of packing the Air Canada Centre, where he held court in familiar fashion last night. Familiar fashion including the inevitable pipe band at the start of the show, along with the customary tartan drapery. The wrinkle this time was a performance in the round on a three-tiered stage, the middle ring stamped with the obligatory logo for the Celtic Football Club.

In case you hadn't heard for the thousandth time, Stewart is rather fond of what we call soccer on this side of the pond. During the fake movie trailer that heralded the performer's arrival onstage, the announcer cheekily intoned that the young Rod had to "choose between a life of kicking balls and kicking ass." Not sure how that worked out. It counted as a small blessing that Stewart is not touring this time in support of one of his four discs surveying the classical American songbook, so at least we were spared mangled renditions of Gershwin, Rodgers, Berlin, Kern and the rest.  Instead, his current album, Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time, delves into some of the legend's more contemporary favourites, a small sampling of which made it on to the set list, including "Fooled Around and Fell in Love," "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" and Cat Stevens' "Father and Son." "I've done very well up here in Canada," Stewart said of his continuing strong CD sales. "It will help keep my children in shoes and pencils." Mostly, though, Stewart did what he has done on other recent trips through town, surrounding himself with a large and generally able supporting cast while thinly rasping out old favourites such as "You Wear it Well," "Reason to Believe," "Forever Young," and the increasingly cringeworthy "Hot Legs" and "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" The answer to that question, judging by the delirious reaction of most in the audience, would be in the affirmative. And the cameraman, who zoomed in on Rod's wiggling butt at one point, seemed to concur. Some guys have all the luck, indeed.


Caribana To Spin Off Satellite Events In GTA

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Nick Patch

(Feb. 1, 2007) The reorganized
Caribana, which was taken over from the founding Caribbean Cultural Committee last year, has announced an array of new sponsors for the 40th anniversary of the festival.  Organizers also announced yesterday that the festivities will spread across the region, with concerts in parks in Scarborough, Mississauga and Brampton, as well as a cultural exhibit in the Distillery District. Concerts and events previously held at Olympic Island will move to Ontario Place. Caribana events will start in mid-July, culminating in the Caribana parade -- which drew an estimated 1.2 million last year -- on Aug. 4. The city-sponsored organizers have already raised just over $100,000 from corporate sponsors (including CTV, The Toronto Sun, Molson Breweries, CPI, Western Union, Roots Canada and the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel) the festival management committee announced yesterday. The Ontario government and city have each pledged $400,000 for the festival, while the federal government is contributing $100,000.

Marley Sons To Hold Peace Concert

Excerpt from

(February 1, 2007) *Four of Bob Marley's sons will perform live in Jamaica next month to commemorate what would have been their father’s 62nd birthday.  Billed as “Smile Jamaica,” the concert will feature
Stephen, Ky-Mani, Damian and Julian Marley, and will be held in the reggae legend’s birthplace of Nine Miles in St. Ann parish. The theme of the event is to promote peace. "They are trying to push a message of peace although it won't be as hard-core as when Bob did it," Prime Minister Michael Manley told the Associated Press. The concert date falls within Bob Marley Week, a celebration of the singer's birth on Feb. 6, 1945.  Marley’s Grammy-winning son Ziggy was not able to attend the concert, and rarely visits Jamaica, reports AP.

Vancouver New Music Wins 2007 Alcan Prize

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Alexandra Gill

(Feb. 3, 2007) Vancouver --
Vancouver New Music, the city's leading producer of cutting-edge sonic experimentalism, is the recipient of the Alcan Performing Arts Award for 2007. The $60,000 prize is Canada's second-largest performing-arts award and goes toward the creation of an original work by British Columbia artists. Counterpoints, created under the auspices of VNM's artistic director Giorgio Magnanensi, will consist of four newly commissioned works for a large string ensemble inspired by the paintings, photographs, writings, videos and sounds of the late mixed-media artist Roy Kiyooka. It will be composed by Hildegard Westerkamp, Jocelyn Morlock, Stefan Smulovitz and Stefan Udell, and have its premiere at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre in February, 2008.

Macy Rolls With, Justin On New CD

Excerpt from - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(February 02, 2007)
Macy Gray will release her first album in four years next month as part of a new deal with the music group/Geffen. "Big" is due March 27 and boasts production from both and Justin Timberlake, both of whom also guest on the project.  Additional contributions were turned in by Fergie, Natalie Cole and Nas, as well as producers Ron Fair and Jared and Whitey.  Gray had spent her entire career with Epic; her last album for the label, 2003's "The Trouble With Being Myself," sold just 134,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.



Indian Love Story Born In Toronto

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Staff Reporter

(February 02, 2007) A real-life story about star-crossed lovers in India that
Vic Sarin overheard as a young boy growing up in Kashmir provided the inspiration almost 60 years later for Partition, his movie about a seminal event in Indian history. At 5, Sarin listened as his parents spoke in hushed tones about a couple they knew – he was Sikh and she was Muslim – who committed suicide by jumping into a dam. The lovers were despondent over a world determined to keep them apart due to religious differences. "That tragic love story stayed with me for a very long time," says Sarin, 63, who was born in Srinagar, schooled in Australia, where his father served as a diplomat, and has lived in Canada since 1963.  His parents' gift of a movie camera spawned an interest in filmmaking when he was just 16. Now based in Vancouver, Sarin was in town last month for the world premiere of Partition, which opens in theatres across Canada today. "The most important thing in life is to love and be loved, that's what drives us," he says. "But unfortunately, the world hasn't changed much since I heard that story. We still have the same divisions. I think it's so futile and unnecessary." The period film is set in 1947, against the backdrop of the waning days of the British Raj, when the subcontinent was divided into secular India and Islamic Pakistan. The split sparked bloodshed and an exodus of millions of people across the new border, from both sides.

Having the movie's premiere in Toronto was fitting, says Sarin, as he actually wrote the first draft 20 years ago while living here. It took two decades to garner funding for the film, perhaps because he was dealing with subject matter that didn't resonate with Western audiences. "The world wasn't ready for it yet. Even today, not too many people outside the subcontinent know about (partition)."  This year marks the 60th anniversary of the partition, making a movie about it timely, especially when interest in the subcontinent is steadily growing and audiences are responding to the growing appeal of Indian filmmakers such as Oscar nominee Deepa Mehta (Water), Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair) and Gurinder Chadha (Bride & Prejudice, Bend It Like Beckham).  While Partition's setting is India, its themes are universal and the message is truly Canadian, says Sarin. One-quarter of the movie was shot in India and the rest in British Columbia. "The essence of the film is so Canadian, which is to embrace everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from. Canadians are at the forefront of the world, since the Pearson era, of keeping peace and not imposing themselves on people." British actor Jimi Mistry and Canadian Kristin Kreuk, of Smallville, play the lead roles of Gian and Naseem, who defy all odds to be together. For inspiration, Mistry, whose previous films include Touch of Pink and East is East, had to look no further than his parents – his mother is Irish Catholic, his father a Gujarati Hindu.

"There's some big parallels. Every barrier they could face, they did. They had to believe in what they had and went against every wish their families would have wanted, for the sake of love," says Mistry, 34.  "It's obviously fine for them now. But colour and religion are big barriers in this world to this day ... The message of the movie is hope. We are all the same people regardless of where we live or what doctrine we follow. One of the strongest feelings we have is love – the problem is people don't follow their hearts, they follow their heads." Partition is Kreuk's first feature film, an experience she calls more enriching personally than professionally. "It opened up a lot of avenues in my mind," says Kreuk, 25, who prepared for the role by hanging out in Vancouver's Muslim community, going to mosque and eating biryani. "In the West, we have a certain misconception about Muslim women who wear the hijab as victims. But these women don't feel they're repressed. In fact, they're so strong."  Kreuk confesses she was unaware of the history of the partition before she was tapped for the movie. "Even though it's such a huge event, especially for that part of the world, we didn't study it in school. It made me think: If I don't know this huge part of the world's history, how much more don't I know? Knowing people's history helps to understand them."

Canadian Tamara Podemski Making Move To Tinseltown After Sundance Acting Win

Source:  Canadian Press, By Lee-Anne Goodman

(Feb. 7, 07) TORONTO (CP) -
Tamara Podemski's phone has not stopped ringing with calls from Hollywood studios and casting agents since she unexpectedly walked away with a prestigious acting prize at last month's Sundance Film Festival.  "It came out of nowhere, so it was a total shock, and I am still sort of riding this roller-coaster," Podemski, 29, says in an interview from her Toronto home.  Podemski plays a troubled native American in the indie film "Four Sheets to the Wind," about an aboriginal family in small-town Oklahoma. The Sundance jury honoured Podemski for her "fully realized physical and emotional turn" as Miri, a woman whose carefree lifestyle brings her to the brink of tragedy.  Even though the film has yet to find a distributor, Podemski's performance has caught the attention of Hollywood power brokers, and the lifelong Torontonian - who's also an accomplished musician and dancer - is heeding their calls to move to Tinseltown.  "NBC Universal were the most adamant of the people I've talked to, to just get me down there and get me in some meetings as soon as possible. So I'm going in a couple of weeks, but moving to L.A. is most definitely happening as well."

She isn't making the move without some sadness.  "I invested so many years in this industry up here, and I believe so much in this industry - my first film was the Bruce McDonald movie 'Dance Me Outside' - so there are loyalty issues," says Podemski, who was named best female artist and best songwriter at last fall's Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.  The actress has appeared in several Canadian TV series, including "The Rez" and "Ready or Not," and oddly enough, became something of a star in Germany for her role in the German-Canadian co-production "Blue Hawk/Blauvogel."  But she adds that it's time to face facts - she owes her greatest career successes to Americans. It was U.S. director Sterlin Harjo, after all, who chose her for the lead role of Miri, and while she had a supporting role in the Toronto version of the stage musical "Rent" in the late 1990s, American producers chose her for the lead role of Maureen on Broadway.  "I have three careers - acting, music and dance - so when one was slow, I ended up doing something else. And I think that might have been deceiving to me until I stepped back and realized: 'Wow, you really haven't been on the screen in a while,' " she says.  "It was only when I did this film last summer, and had a lead role that was the meatiest and most in-depth that I've ever been given, that's when I stopped and thought: 'Whoa, I'm actually capable of this. Why hasn't anybody back home given me a role like this?' So the wheels started turning last year, and I just started looking at my whole career and seeing that my greatest roles, and the biggest successes in my career, have happened because of Americans noticing me."

She's not miffed about that, Podemski is quick to point out.  "I am so grateful for the projects and the people that I've worked with here, but I've never been given a lead role. Even my first album was on a record label out of Los Angeles that brought me down there, and up here I had to make my own label to put out my own album," she says with a laugh.  "I am not bitter, I am not angry, but it's just an observation that I've had to make and now I have to act accordingly."  When she moves to L.A., Podemski worries about missing her family - "a huge part of my life," she says - and not having the chance to continue her Canadian work with disadvantaged native teens in remote aboriginal communities, something she credits with "keeping her sane" in the topsy-turvy world of show business.  But she admits that, professionally speaking, she had become a bit complacent.  "I got comfortable doing the series that came along once in a while and the odd play here and there, but I now need to broaden my horizons and focus on what my biggest dream is," she says.  "And having a taste of what it is to sink my teeth into a character and getting my rocks off as an actor .... I don't know if I can risk never tasting that again."

Thandie Newton: The Norbit Interview

Source: Kam Williams

(Feb. 5, 07)
Thandiwe Newton was born in London on November 6, 1972 to a mother from Zimbabwe and British father. En route to fame and fortune, the 5’2” cutie pie would remove a “w” and a syllable from her name, which means “beloved.” This is ironic because she later played the title character in the screen adaptation of the Toni Morrison novel “Beloved.”  But Thandie is probably now best known for her work in Crash, where she played a woman violated right in front of her husband by a crude cop during a profile stop. Although she wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar, she won a British Academy Award for that nonpareil performance.  Also on her resume’ are memorable outings in Besieged, The Trouble with Charlie, Mission: Impossible II, The Chronicles of Riddick, and as Sally Hemmings in Jefferson in Paris. Recently, she appeared opposite Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness. Here, Thandie talks about working opposite Eddie Murphy in Norbit. 

KW: What interested you in playing Kate?

TN: After all these years, here was something that just pushed things a bit more. I also thought it was an opportunity to really explore character. And despite the fact that in many ways Kate is the straight man of the film, there were still moments of fun and silliness that I could really enjoy. And, to be honest, the main thing I wanted to experience was to be around a craftsman like Eddie, a genius, to be in the presence of someone creating something memorable. And I just knew from reading it that it was going to be memorable. 

KW: What’s it like working with Eddie?

TN: You bust out with laughter and there’s romance, and it’s smart, and makes you kind of think about stuff, but not so much so that you’re twisting your brain. Everybody loves Eddie Murphy. Everybody appreciates what he does and wants to see him enjoying what he’s doing. And he’s enjoying what he’s doing and he’s doing something really special. I mean, I didn’t know that this was going to be an opportunity for that, to be around someone creating something special. It’s been a privilege.

KW: How do you generate chemistry with a character like Norbit? 

TN: What the character Norbit is putting out there is basic human kindness, and it’s got to be the most attractive, beautiful quality. So, for me as an actress, and a person defining this character, to genuinely feel that Kate would genuinely fall in love with Norbit is so exciting for me actually. Because even though I’m doing this film which relies heavily on suspending your disbelief, and is a fantasy, I always love to find the truth in things. And there is in this, and it’s such a welcome surprise. 

KW: What did you think of the rest of the cast? 

TN: Cuba Gooding, Jr., I was so excited to be working with him, and to be playing this couple with him, because he brings so much more complexity to it. His comic timing is so good, and he’s such a cool guy. And every single character in the film, no matter how small, is played by someone who just fills it to its maximum. The movie has just drawn really strong quality performers together. And I really feel like it’s a celebration of the work of Eddie Murphy. Everybody says the same thing. We’re all bowing down to a great man, and a great work. I love this film because it seems to bring so many of the qualities that make him great together.

KW: What did you think of the makeup job they did on Eddie?

TN: The makeup is so advanced now that it really is real! So, when Eddie walks on as Rasputia or as Mr. Wong, it’s fascinating.

EUR Film Review: Because I Said So

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(February 5, 2007) *In 2004, Diane Keaton landed an Oscar nomination for Something’s Gotta’ Give, a pleasant romantic romp where she played a post-menopausal playwright who steals the heart of the aging sugar daddy who’s been dating her daughter.  She and Jack Nicholson generated oodles of screen chemistry opposite each other in that surprise hit, so it comes as no surprise that Hollywood would try to recapture some of that magic in a slight variation on the theme, even if it couldn’t attach Jack to the project.
Because I Said So is another light-hearted comedy, but this cliché-ridden rip-off flips the script to have a younger man first show an interest in Keaton’s character before belatedly turning his attentions to her daughter.  The film was directed by Michael Lehmann, one of those flypaper hacks who somehow continues to stick around Hollywood despite churning out nothing but mediocre movies, such as instantly forgettable adventures like Beaver Gets a Boner, Hudson Hawk, Airheads, My Giant and The Truth about Cats & Dogs. His latest offering is fairly annoying from start to finish, primarily because Keaton is still relying on that ever less-endearing assortment of addlepated antics which won her an Academy Award for Annie Hall back in 1978. Now that she’s in her sixties, that girlish flustered act is wearing a bit thin. And having her parade around in panties and crinoline party skirts isn’t fooling anybody into thinking she’s a teenager, either.

For full review by Kam Williams, go HERE.

EUR DVD Review: Heading South (Vers le Sud)

Excerpt from - By Kam Williams

(February 6, 2007) *55-year old Ellen (Charlotte Rampling) teaches literature at Wellesley, while Sue (Louise Portal) is a successful businesswoman from Canada, and 48 year-old Brenda (Karen Young), a recently-divorced housewife from Georgia.  The only reason these formerly-frustrated females' paths cross is because they happen to be staying at the same hotel in Haiti, a spinster's sexual utopia where post-menopausal white women vacation in order to indulge their every carnal fantasy with young black men less than a third their age. In fact, Brenda, who now describes herself as a "bitch in heat," openly admits to having her first orgasm ever on the beach there with a 15 year-old boy-toy. Never pausing to question the ethics of exploiting black skin in this fashion, these hedonists approach the country's impoverished inhabitants as if a commodity available on a quid pro quo basis. Invariably, the relationships sprouting up all around the spa are between wealthy white women offering money, maternalism and a temporary upper-class status, and handsome, eager-to-please natives.

For full review by Kam Williams, go HERE.

'Africa Unite' Debuts At New York African Film Festival

Source: Carleen Donovan/Calah Lambertson,,

(February 7, 2007) New York - The feature documentary
AFRICA UNITE will make its North American debut on April 7 at the 14th annual New York African Film Festival.  The film, starring Rita Marley, Danny Glover, Angélique Kidjo, Lauryn Hill and Marley's children Ziggy, Cedella, Sharon, Stephen, Kymani, Julian and Damian, is produced and directed by Stephanie Black (Life and Debt, H-2 Worker). The documentary highlights the vision for African unity that Bob Marley was devoted to throughout his music career and presents an inspiring tribute to a man who defined his own aim as "spreading the message of unity and equality to end the needless suffering of mankind." On February 6th 2005, over 350,000 people gathered in the historic Meskel Square of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia to celebrate what would have been Bob Marley's 60th birthday. The twelve-hour concert, featuring a host of internationally acclaimed artists, is interwoven throughout the film, highlighting the singer's global influence. American Lauryn Hill passionately debuts new material, Benin-born Angélique Kidjo jumps into the audience during "Mama Afrika", and legendary Jamaican artist Bob Andy serenades Ethiopia.  The concert culminates with a spectacular nighttime performance by Rita Marley and the I-Threes and all of Marley's sons singing their father's songs. Crucial to the Africa Unite vision, the film also focuses on UNICEF-sponsored symposia and youth-oriented workshops that were held during the week-long celebration. Taking their inspiration from such Bob Marley songs as "War" and "Get Up Stand Up", these sessions deal with issues including conflict transformation, youth and women's empowerment, the prevention of corruption, awareness and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other major diseases, and the centrality of human rights. Speaking at a symposium dedicated to dialogue with youth, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover, whose production company Louverture Films executive produced the film with Tuff Gong Pictures, stresses that "It takes time to build, years to organize, and that's what we have to commit ourselves to. In Guinea, in Kenya, in too many other countries, less than 30% of children go to school. It is a human right to have an education. And that begins right here with you. Bob Marley would've loved to have been here with us today... He loved Africa, and the fact that we are here to carry on this work is most important."

"The message of AFRICA UNITE is for Africans to take our own lives into our own hands and to realize that we are better off together than divided," says Ziggy Marley. "We know the history of Africa. Believe the dream of the unity of Africa is something we can accomplish. It is possible and we should do it." "It's our aim with this documentary to further Bob Marley's eternal message of hope and struggle across continents and generations," agrees producer/director Stephanie Black. "We know that change occurs when we refuse to be silent in the face of injustice and inequity, and AFRICA UNITE is a call to action catalyzed by Bob Marley's musical legacy." "In the words of Bob," says Rita Marley, "Africans Unite for the benefit of your people - Africans Unite for the benefit of your children - Africans Unite - it's later than you think!"

Born in Ethiopia in 2005, and again realized in Ghana in 2006, the now annual Africa Unite event came to life from the unwavering passion and spirit of Mrs. Rita Marley. Mrs. Marley and her family are inspired to spread the spirit and legacy of Bob Marley, continuing to bring life to his Songs of Freedom and to actively work towards a united Africa in their lifetime. The Africa Unite events have begun a global movement that creates awareness for vital issues affecting Africa, as well as for realizing important and meaningful change that will contribute to lasting solutions.  Through a series of benefit concerts, symposiums, fund raisers and events, Africa Unite will encourage peace, education and empowerment for youth in Africa while working to manifest change throughout the world. Africa Unite 2007 commences on the honour rebel Bob Marley's birthday, February 6, 2007 and continues throughout the year. For more information on Africa Unite 2007 click on

Dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance and social purpose, Louverture Films is also passionate about the objective of nurturing artistic creativity and integrity. The New York based company owned and operated by Danny Glover and Joslyn Barnes has a slate of progressive features and documentaries, which include the critically-acclaimed BAMAKO (a New Yorker Films release) and the action-epic TOUSSAINT. The epic deals with the Haitian Revolution and the heroic life of Toussaint Louverture, who led one of the only successful slave uprisings in history. His efforts decisively defeated the French, Spanish and British imperial armies and established the first independent black Republic: Haiti.  The film will be directed by Danny Glover.

Eddie Murphy: Nominated For Best Supporting Actor

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Liam Lacey

(Feb. 7, 07) Would the real
Eddie Murphy please stand up?  The Vegas bookmakers and the early award shows point to Eddie Murphy as the favourite to win this year's best supporting actor Oscar for Dreamgirls. As the irrepressible, rhythm and blues shouter, Jimmy (Thunder) Early, Murphy generates the kind of heat he hasn't shown in years. In Dreamgirls, Jimmy Thunder's flaw is that he's just too authentic to sell out; Murphy's may be that he's been too good at it. After emerging on Saturday Night Live in 1980 as a teenaged phenomenon, he became a major eighties star, playing likeable hustlers in such movies 48 Hours, Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop. When his reputation slipped in the nineties, Murphy found a way of becoming bigger by disappearing. Starting with his 1996 version of Jerry Lewis's The Nutty Professor, he hid under prosthetics and makeup or did the fast-talking voice for cartoon sidekicks. Nutty Professor begat Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000). Another remake, Dr. Doolittle spawned Dr. Doolittle 2 (2001), Shrek (2001) led to Shrek 2 (2004) which leads to Shrek the Third (May 18). This Friday brings us his latest: Norbit, in which Murphy plays the nerdy title character, his Chinese-American stepfather and his obese wife. The results have been lucrative -- collectively, Murphy's movies have earned more than $3-billion (U.S.). Forbes magazine reported that, by 2003, Murphy was commanding $22.5-million a movie. Success has also been limiting, with audiences shunning his grown-up movies (I Spy, Pluto Nash and Showtime).

He was on no one's radar as a potential Oscar contender before Dreamgirls writer-director Bill Condon convinced him to try acting so well that audiences would forget he was Eddie Murphy. To remember the pre-PG comic, check out this week's DVD release of Eddie Murphy Delirious, a 1983 live performance with the raw, charismatic 22-year-old in a skin-tight, red-leather suit. At that point, an Oscar didn't seem such a stretch.


Actors' Strike Takes New Legal Turn

Source: Canadian Press

(February 01, 2007) TORONTO — A strike involving 21,000 Canadian film, television and radio workers took another legal turn Thursday.
ACTRA, the union representing the performers, said it is appealing a recent court decision to appoint an arbitrator in the case. The Canadian Film and Television Production Association had asked for the arbitrator and a judge agreed earlier this week. “The producers maintain that certain process issues should be before an arbitrator, while we maintain that labour boards should deal with such issues,” Stephen Waddell, the union's chief negotiator, said Thursday in a release. The producers, in turn, have suggested ACTRA is refusing to enter arbitration because it doesn't want to answer questions about the legality of the strike and the validity of special deals allowing local productions to continue if they sign on to a 5 per cent wage hike. The performers went on strike Jan. 8 after ACTRA members voted 97.6 per cent in favour of walking off the job. At least three large scale U.S. productions have cancelled plans to bring work to Canada because of the prospect of a long strike. One of the main sticking points in the dispute is compensation for performances viewed in new and emerging media platforms. Corner Gas star Eric Peterson, funnyman Colin Mochrie and actress Wendy Crewson are among the high-profile Canadian performers who have complained they're being asked to work for free on Internet and cellphone broadcasts.

Eastwood To Be Named Hollywood's First Humanitarian

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(Feb. 2, 2007) LOS ANGELES — Academy Award-winning director
Clint Eastwood will receive the Motion Picture Association of America's inaugural humanitarian award, the association announced Thursday. Eastwood, 76, will be presented the Jack Valenti Humanitarian Award at a private dinner Tuesday in Washington, D.C. “For decades, (Eastwood) has exemplified the decency and goodness of spirit in his moviemaking,” said MPAA Chairman Dan Glickman, lauding the filmmaker for his recent pair of World War II-themed works, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. “These films exemplify the true power of movies to tell human stories and inspire national conversation,” Glickman said. Eastwood is nominated for an Academy Award for directing Letters from Iwo Jima. The film is also up for best picture. The humanitarian award was named after the MPAA's long-time chief, Valenti, who helped choose Eastwood as its inaugural recipient.

Mr. Smith Headed To Washington

Excerpt from

(February 2, 2007) *The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has recruited best actor Oscar nominee Will Smith to speak at its "Business of Show Business" conference next week in Washington. Nominated for his role in the current film “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Smith will be the featured speaker at Tuesday’s breakfast program that kicks off the conference.  The event is designed to educate and inform policymakers and others through a series of panels and high-profile speakers about the value of the U.S. motion picture business and its contribution to the U.S. economy. "Will Smith is one of the brightest stars of the motion picture industry, and we are thrilled he will join us for what will be an exciting and informative day here in the nation's capital," MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said. "The American motion picture industry is known as a creative force around the world because of talented individuals like Will Smith. What is less well known is that the industry is also an economic engine that brings billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to communities across America."      The event will also feature remarks from Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton; Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; and a presentation by students from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

Will Smith: Nominated For The Pursuit Of Happyness

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Feb. 6, 07)
Will Smith isn't exactly the critics' darling in this category, but his director says the actor succeeded in one crucial way -- he managed to drop his Will Smith-ness. Director Gabriele Muccino told the actor when they first met that he wanted Smith to be "naked" for the movie, "meaning without filter, without the Will Smith things," he told Entertainment Weekly magazine. In other words, Smith had to drop the reason he's one of Hollywood's biggest stars -- his charm and self-confidence -- to play the part of Chris Gardner, the real-life salesman who became a stockbroker while living in poverty and raising a son. Smith apparently became obsessive about portraying Gardner accurately. Gardner recounts that at one point in the film, Smith had to sign his name to a contract. Amazingly, he adds, Smith wrote "an exact replica of my signature."

Mos Def Stars In Gritty Brazilian Crime Thriller

Source: Dan Williams -

(February 7, 2007) Encompassing a single, fateful evening in the sprawling megalopolis of Sao Paulo, "
Journey to the End of the Night" is a gritty crime thriller about an illicit transaction gone awry ... Two Americans in exile - Rosso (Scott Glenn) and his son, Paul (Brendan Fraser) — have been carving out a living in Brazil running a nightclub-brothel, but they both harbour dreams of getting out of the business once and for all.  One night, it seems their prayers are answered when a customer leaves behind a suitcase in the club that contains the means for Rosso and Paul to change their fates. Rosso will take his beautiful, young wife Angie (Catalina Sandino Moreno) and their 5 year-old son Lazare to start over in a new city, far away.   Paul will escape mounting debt, an escalating coke habit, and finally be rid of his father (whom he despises and blames for all of his problems).  It all depends on one person—a Nigerian immigrant named Wemba (Mos Def)—who must make his way safely through the perilous, nocturnal gauntlet of Sao Paulo.



Helmsman Does Heroes

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Staff Reporter

(February 02, 2007) When most fans think of
George Takei, the first thing that pops to mind is Captain Kirk's classic Star Trek utterance to his helmsman "Warp speed, Mr. Sulu!"  Now the actor is enjoying a resurgence on the science fiction-inspired hit show, Heroes. In last Monday's episode, Takei made his debut as Kaito Nakamura, the father of Hiro, the character played by Masi Oka. Takei plays a wealthy businessman who isn't particularly supportive of his son's quest to be a hero.  After that brief introduction, in upcoming episodes his character will be featured in a more prominent, recurring role.  In a freewheeling conference call yesterday, the actor discussed his life and current role, hinting that there are several interesting developments in store for his Heroes character, although there are things he remains in the dark about, or at least didn't feel like sharing.  "You know, it's hard to make any (character) judgment yet," he said. "I am making discoveries with each script. I thought (Nakamura) was just a concerned father who is a powerful industrialist, but I'm discovering various other dimensions to him which make the character even more ambiguous ... I'm like these fans on the Internet, I'm learning more with each script," he said.  The casting choices of Takei and Christopher Eccleston, who played the lead role in Doctor Who during the first season of the new British series, were very clever moves by the show's producers. Heroes is successfully walking the line between mainstream and hardcore sci fi fans, and the new faces are a sly wink to the latter.

"Here's this character (Hiro) who is a Star Trek fan, and supposedly saw a younger me on the good ship Enterprise," Takei said. "And here I am playing his father, so there is a wonderful circle here, that could turn into another, interesting kind of spiral. Heroes is very much like Star Trek in many ways. It's more fantastical, but it's contemporary." Paternity and family bonds are recurring themes in Heroes; for example, the death of Mohinder's father was a catalyst in the early episodes. There are, as well, Claire the cheerleader's recent revelations about her relationship with her father (a.k.a. Horn Rimmed Glasses) and her search for her biological parents.  In last week's episode, it was revealed Claire's birth mother has pyrotechnic powers, which has spurred speculation that Takei's character may also have some.  "It's intriguing, isn't it?" he said. "I share that sense of fascination with you, because as an actor I know (only) as much as the script shares with me. So I'm eager to know if there is some genetic thing that I may have passed on to Hiro – he's very presciently named.  "In life there are consequences, and sometimes those consequences are passed on to one's progeny. It's an intriguing question." In addition to Heroes, Takei recently worked on an episode of the fan-produced Star Trek: New Voyages series, which has featured the original characters in new stories. His episode is in the final stages of editing and will premiere in March in Orlando before it is webcast.

As for Heroes, Takei is very happy to be involved and believes the show has what it takes to "live long and prosper," to use the Star Trek vernacular.  When cast as Lt. Hikaru Sulu in the 1960s, the actor became one of the first Asian American actors to become a regular on a TV series. Takei, who went public in 2005 about his homosexuality, commented on how television has changed over 40 years.  "I am absolutely astounded and fascinated and proud of the fact that an enormously popular prime-time TV show plays entire sequences in Japanese, with English subtitles," said the Los Angeles native, who will turn 70 in April.  "People used to go to art houses to see foreign movies with subtitles, but to play to the mass television audience with sequences like this is a real advance, and a compliment to the audience's sophistication."

TV Fund Money Really Belongs To Us

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Antonia Zerbisias

(February 06, 2007) Is the Canadian Television Fund (CTF) illegal?   Did the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) have the authority to create this public-private partnership in 1993 that, according to government figures, helped fund 23,141 hours of home-grown programming with more than $2.3 billion? That's $2.3 billion of your money, cable subscription fees and tax dollars. What with all the recent wailing and flailing over the fate of the fund – a ruckus raised last month when media barons Jim Shaw and Quebecor/Videotron's Pierre-Karl Péladeau said they would no longer contribute a percentage of their cable revenues to the CTF – it's been tough to cut the politics from the posturing. But a careful reading of the CRTC decision that went into establishing the CTF reveals that its $2.3 billion, which subsidizes the production sector directly and broadcasters indirectly, more properly belong to viewers and/or taxpayers. That amount doesn't count another $1.5 billion that ended up in cable company coffers. In other words, you may have been overpaying on your cable bill for the past 14 years. But there's no way to know because the books on those rates are not open to the public. One lone activist is lobbying to get your money back. He is ex-Toronto cable-broadcast manager Keith Mahar who made a name for himself in 1994. He fought with a passion against the cable companies and the CRTC for citizen/consumer rights – and his fervour cost him his career as well as his emotional and mental health. An activist David against the media Goliaths, he didn't have a chance against the all-powerful cable monopolies and their allies in Ottawa. Now he lives in Canberra, Australia, where he is a social worker and mental health advocate.  But he has not given up his cause. He maintains regular email contact with me, has lobbied successive governments, made submissions to the Senate's committee on the media (whose report the government and the media ignored) and established a website with his facts and arguments against the fund, the CRTC and the cable companies. His main points are:

  The CRTC is not allowed to levy a de facto tax, as a recent federal
· court decision relating to broadcast licence fees demonstrates.

· Consumers were never properly informed of this "hidden tax," either by the CRTC or the cable companies who acted as the tax collectors.

  Half the
· monies levied via cable subscription fees ended up paying for capital improvements by cable companies protected from competition and whose infrastructure remains in private hands.

  The CRTC reneged on a
· promise to lower cable rates for subscribers who have been paying for services they may never have received.

All in all, it's a very good case that the fund is, in fact, illegitimate and that cable viewers are owed billions. What's more, Heritage Minister Bev Oda – who last week renewed the government's commitment to the fund to the tune of $200 million over two years – knows it. Here's the thing: as I pointed out here last week, when the fund was created she was a member of the CRTC.  A dissenting member. At the time, she, along with two other commissioners, wrote that, "Cable rates should be justified on their own merits, not used as a lever to extract revenues for other purposes." And yet, while she has renewed the fund, word has it she will introduce some radical changes, thanks to the "new realities" of the new media age. Likely translation? The fund will better suit the cable companies’ competitive situation. To Mahar, the changes are not the point – and Oda should not budge from her 1993 opinion, which he insists is still valid. "Oda actually deserves to be congratulated for voting against the (1993) plan," he emailed me. "What she deserves to be held accountable for is not doing anything to address the wrongs that she knows were committed by the CRTC to improperly enrich the cable companies once she was elected to office, and subsequently made the minister." Interestingly, it's a point that nobody in the production or cable industry has raised. No newspaper affiliated with any network – i.e. most newspapers in Canada – has reported it. Meanwhile, NDP heritage critic Charlie Angus, who has been very vocal on his attacks on Oda, hasn't mentioned it. As for the CRTC, it is silent. Parliament's Heritage Committee begins hearings on the fund Thursday. Mahar tells me he plans to send off his documentation to the committee members. The question is, will MPs serve the industry – or the people?  And at what point does this land in court?


Whoa! Nelly's Everywhere

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Brad Wheeler

(Feb. 7, 07) Tonight, on
CSI: New York, Nelly Furtado portrays Ava Grant, a high-class shoplifter who is suspected of . . . murder! The singer, ubiquitous since last year's release of her hit album Loose, makes her prime-time television debut on the highly rated forensic-science drama on CBS and CTV as part of CBS's promo of the Grammy Awards broadcast Feb. 11. (Nominee Mary J. Blige appears this Friday on The Ghost Whisperer.) Later this month, the Grammy-nominated Furtado performs a pair of her songs on the ABC daytime soap One Life to Live.  Furtado may be the most visible Canadian chanteuse to spread her thespian wings, but she is not alone. Winnipeg-born Chantal Kreviazuk produced, wrote and starred in Pretty Broken, a short film about mental illness.  More industrious in the acting biz is Ottawa's Alanis Morissette, who once shared a smooch with Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City. Morissette also appeared in three episodes of FX's Nip/Tuck this season as the lesbian love interest of Dr. Liz Cruz.On CSI: New York, Furtado, as a mysterious garment-grabber, coolly delivers lines such as, "I might be a thief, but I'm not a murderer."  As far as getting into character, the fledgling actress (who is to host the 2007 Juno Awards on April 1) wasn't sure of her method. "I don't know," she told CTV's eTalk. "It's a process I guess . . ."



David Mirvish Scoured The World In Search Of Entertainment For Subscribers

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(February 05, 2007)
David Mirvish cried; that's when he knew he had a season. It had taken him two years, thousands of miles of travel and hundreds of nights at the theatre to come up with the playbill for next year that he recently presented to his subscribers. But it wasn't until the 61-year-old impresario found himself "welling up" during the climactic scene of Dirty Dancing in London, that he was sure he was right. "I know I have to have one show every year that's emotionally compelling, that people want to see more than anything else and I believed this was it." Once he had the main course in place, he could present the rest of the "different flavours" that make up the multi-course theatrical meal he offers every year: Twelve Angry Men, Sweeney Todd, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Parts 1 & 2 and Ha'Penny Bridge. This is the 44th subscription season that the Mirvish family have presented the people of Toronto. The 40,000-plus people who eagerly sign up make it one of the largest audiences of its kind in North America. But how does Mirvish pick the bill of fare for each season?

"It's a complicated process," he admits as he goes back to where this particular journey all started: Australia. Two years ago Mirvish found himself flying Down Under to check out a newly premiered musical called Dirty Dancing, based on the 1987 film. "As soon as I heard someone was putting it onstage, I had to see it," he confesses. "I loved the movie; it's one of those iconic films. My daughter, Rachel is 29 and she must have seen it 20 times."  Mirvish enjoyed the Australian version, followed it the next year to Hamburg and decided to invest in the British production, saving a place, as it were, in line. The October 2006 opening in London was a triumph, with a £12 million advance (the highest in British theatre history) and overwhelmingly favourable reviews from some of the toughest of the London critics. Mirvish knew he had to have the show, but he insisted on making it an all-Canadian production. His reasons for doing so stem from the one of the greatest failures his organization has ever been connected with: The Lord of the Rings. On that production, Mirvish abdicated creative control to Kevin Wallace, an experience he doesn't intend to repeat. "It was important to us after our experience with Lord of the Rings," the usually soft-spoken Mirvish says with sudden firmness, "that we take more responsibility and that we involve ourselves directly when the show is very big and very important to us." Mirvish landed the rights and then made a surprising decision which would impact on the rest of the season: he decided to mount Dirty Dancing in the smaller Royal Alexandra Theatre rather than one of his larger venues like the Canon or the Princess of Wales.

"I felt it would be more rewarding for people in a more intimate situation. That's one of the things that made Mamma Mia! such a big success." But it presented a problem: with Dirty Dancing at the Royal Alex and We Will Rock You at the Canon, it dictated that the rest of the subscription season would have to be staged in the 2,000-seat Princess of Wales Theatre, which meant "we had to look for shows of a certain scope and size." And they found them: in New York, Chichester and Dublin. It's obvious at a glance from this year's selections that quality theatre rather than showbiz glitz is the primary focus. Last season may have seemed attractive when first announced, with names like Martin Short, Joan Collins and Linda Evans on the bill, but many of the shows proved to be major disappointments and Mirvish agreed that "it didn't all work out the way we hoped it would." But ever the optimist, Mirvish says of the upcoming year that "I'm thrilled with how it all came together." The first Broadway hit to come to the Princess of Wales will be the revisionist staging of Sweeney Todd that won John Doyle last year's Tony Award for direction of a musical. The Stephen Sondheim musical is a juicy piece of Grand Guignol as "the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" suffers a grave injustice and comes back from prison to slit the throats of all who caused it. His psychotic lover, Mrs. Lovett, turns the corpses into meat pies, which she cheerfully sells. Doyle has the actors in his production play all their own musical accompaniment.

Mirvish allows that, in terms of subject matter, "this is a tough one. But in a world full of turmoil, it seemed a very apt choice. We can't turn our back on people telling difficult stories." Next is Twelve Angry Men, the stage version of the 1950s TV and film success about how a lone idealist on a jury stops his peers from sentencing an innocent young man to death. It had been a surprise hit for the Roundabout Theatre on Broadway in 2004-2005. The touring company, which went out last fall, has also been doing well in large venues and with the numerous big emotional scenes performed by its cast of 13, it should fill the Princess of Wales stage nicely. When Mirvish knew he would be guaranteed the show's leading man, Richard Thomas, a veteran TV guest star, he booked it. "Richard is one of those rare people," observes Mirvish, "who became a TV star without ever losing his devotion to the theatre."  A great deal of excitement surrounds Mirvish's decision to present The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. When first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1980 (brought to Broadway in 1981), it was hailed as "the theatrical event of the century." Charles Dickens' saga of a young man who fights his way through the manifold injustices of Victorian England to a triumphant ending originally took nine hours to perform and used a cast of 45. Last summer, the Chichester Festival cut it down to 6  1/2 hours performed by 23 actors and the U.K. festival saw its greatest success in a decade, with attendance rising 25 per cent on that production alone. Once again, critics threw their hats in the air. "Our friend (British producer) Paul Elliott told us about it," explains Mirvish, "and I had always wanted to present the original, but couldn't and I realized that I'd been given a second chance." The Ha'Penny Bridge is next, an original Irish musical set during "the Troubles" of the 1920s, which proved to be a big hit in Dublin last summer. "The producers brought it to us," says Mirvish, "and although we thought it had enormous potential, it's when they said they were looking for a community in which they could build the next version of the show, that it clinched it for me. A chance to do another production utilizing the Toronto theatre world.  "We want to entertain people, we want to sell tickets, but we want to look at a longer term view in terms of developing who we are and what we are. By putting on something a little more individual, you're saying that you believe in the city. Otherwise you're not doing theatre, you're running a shop."

Acclaimed Play For Youth Comes Home

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(February 05, 2007)
David S. Craig can still remember the exact moment he was inspired to write Danny, King of the Basement, his internationally acclaimed play which opens today in a revival at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People. "It was just this time of year, back in 1999," he recalls on the phone from his Toronto home, "and Anne Golden had brought out her report on homelessness in Toronto. "I was driving in my car, listening to CBC Radio and one incredible statistic leaped out at me: 25 per cent of the homeless people in Toronto were under the age of 12." He sighs. "What's it like now, eight years later? I'm terrified to know. I bet it certainly hasn't gotten better." After recovering from the shock of the figure, Craig vowed that "I had to do something, as a citizen, as a parent and as a theatre artist." Fortunately, as the artistic director of Roseneath Theatre, which specializes in creating works on social issues for young audiences, he was in a unique position. Still, that didn't make it any easier. "The playwright in me instantly said `That will be really depressing and no one will want to see it; don't waste your time.'" But fortunately, Craig was sufficiently engaged so that "for the next 18 months I wrestled with the question of dramatizing something that was potentially so sad."

Craig "went to shelters, to basement apartments; I interviewed single moms, kids, people from Children's Aid. I tried to get a profile of what a homeless kid in Toronto would be like." And at a crucial moment, another author who wrestled with the question of poverty in his society came to Craig's rescue. "I thought about Dickens and realized that when you think of the Artful Dodger, you're not filled with sadness and pity.  "You understand his plight, but you also appreciate the upbeat way he tries to deal with it." He finally came up with Danny, who's had to move with his single mom eight times in two years and finally hits the streets on his own, thinking it has to be better. Craig managed to write the show in a style that was simultaneously breezy and chilling, because to him "it was important that kids love the play, find it accessible and not feel stigmatized by watching the show." The version that opened at the Studio Theatre at the Lorraine Kimsa in November 2001 was so good that I pronounced it "everything that you want a show for young audiences to be." A lot of people around the world have felt the same, because it's been in production ever since.  In Germany, it played in 150 theatres and was the first Canadian play ever nominated for the German Children's Theatre Prize. There's a national tour of England happening, a movie option on the table and, although the play has been seen all over America for several years now, Craig just returned from directing a version which "is doing a six months' tour just of Arizona," he says excitedly. It seems a long way now from that morning eight years ago when he heard a statistic on the radio that drove him into action. "A kid once asked me how long it took me come up with the play," he relates. "I told him: three months to write it and 25 years to know how."

Disney Hopes To Hit The Tween Jackpot Again

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - David Bauder, Associated Press

(Feb. 7, 07) BURBANK, CALIF. -- Actors crowded the waiting room one recent winter day at Disney Channel's headquarters. Some paced nervously, a few checked watches. There was little talk. They were ready to audition for roles in this summer's TV movie
High School Musical 2, jobs that would make them instantly recognizable to millions of preteens. Behind a wooden doorway, Disney Channel executives were working to keep the magic after launching one of the biggest entertainment phenomena of 2006. "We have seen clearly what our audience responds to," said Gary Marsh, Disney Channel's entertainment president. "The challenge is not to fall into the trap of taking the easy way out and making the same kind of thing." It's not that people aren't watching closely. When Disney posted 10 questions on its website last month asking fans to influence what was in the High School Musical sequel -- things like choosing which dessert Zeke buys for Sharpay and which Hannah Montana star should appear in the movie -- more than 27 million votes were cast in 20 days. The success of High School Musical vaulted the Disney Channel into a tie with USA for top-rated cable network in prime time last year. The movie's soundtrack sold nearly four million copies in the U.S. and was the year's top-selling compact disc, even though you probably never heard songs like We're All in This Together unless you were a kid around 12 years old or a parent of one. The show has become a DVD hit in Canada, reaching third spot on Nielsen's video sales chart here; a live cast tour passed through Toronto last month.

The 8.2 million people who watched the premiere of Jump In! in January -- starring High School Musical heartthrob Corbin Bleu as an aspiring jump-rope champion -- made it the top-rated TV movie premiere in the network's history.  The Disney Channel's success wasn't sudden. It decided a decade ago to target tweens, realizing TV offered little to them. It was like the musical gulf between Barney and Eminem, said Rich Ross, the network's president. Girls came first. Disney recognized that competitors Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network had stronger appeal to boys, and the snarky tone of some of their hits could be countered with something parents and their children were more comfortable with. Through trial and error, including a failed mystery series, Disney determined that its audience preferred comedies to dramas. "Kids are going through a lot today, maybe more than ever," Ross said. "They want to smile and relax and laugh. Laughter is the antidote to a crazy world." Marsh believes there are five ingredients to a successful Disney Channel production. They should contain humour, optimism and depict real kids in real-life situations. They should tell an age-appropriate emotional story with situations preteens can relate to. And they should have navigational tools for life that kids can learn from, such as how to deal with a bully. Many of the Disney shows are inspirational, like Hannah Montana and its depiction of a girl living the dream of being a pop star. There's almost always music in a Disney production, something the kids can sing along to -- and buy with their allowance when they hear the songs again on Disney's radio station -- that won't send their parents screaming from the room.

High School Musical squarely hits all of these targets. Marsh had been looking to make a full-scale musical, and producer Bill Borden sold his pitch in a single meeting: Think Grease meets Romeo & Juliet, with warring social cliques replacing warring families. "It was so clear to me the simplicity of the story would stand up with the music," Marsh said. That story had school basketball star Troy meeting beautiful brain Gabriella on vacation, where they bond over their secret love for singing. When Gabriella transfers to Troy's high school, they want to try out for the school musical together, but their friends try to keep them from crossing social barriers. Marsh knew he was onto something when applause broke out after snippets of film were shown to staff in development meetings. The High School Musical sequel is sure to be a major part of many kids' summers this year. Marsh said it will be set mostly in a country club and will explore different themes than the original, which was concerned with the youngsters' needs to express themselves. "The reality is we have a very clear brand," Marsh said. "The reason we have been successful is that we have been meticulous in reinforcing that in our content."


Out Of Africa, And Back Again

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -

The Book of Negroes
by Lawrence Hill
Harper Collins
486 pages, $34.95

(February 04, 2007) I don't think there is any way of overstating
Lawrence Hill's contribution to contemporary Canadian fiction. Hill is the child of an interracial couple, the American-born civil rights activists Daniel and Donna Hill. His heritage is black and white and Canadian and American. His loyalties and perspectives are not divided, but multiplied, and he brings all of them to bear upon his writing.  In his 1997 novel, Any Known Blood, the mixed-race protagonist, Langston Cane V, traces his family back to slavery, a history that criss-crosses the Canada-U.S. border between Oakville and Baltimore. Any Known Blood marks the first time we see an uncertain biracial identity as a metaphor for black Canadian experience. It is also the first time we see the border used to unite rather than divide black history in North America. The novel alters Canada's historical map: Hill returns us to 19th-century Oakville when the city, now regarded as a privileged enclave, is home to a small black community as well as the Ku Klux Klan. His skill lies not only in his ability to isolate the elements of black Canadian identity, but also in the alchemy by which he transforms these elements into art.  In his third and most recent novel, The Book of Negroes, Hill refines still further his subject and craft. He blends traditional slave narrative with Victorian storytelling to depict the life of Aminata Diallo, the 11-year-old daughter of a jeweller and a midwife in mid-18th-century Mali. She is a bright, pretty child with thin slices of moon carved into her cheeks. Aminata is doted upon by her father, who reads to her from the Qur'an and warns her about straying too far from home. Despite the protection of walled villages, people are disappearing at an alarming rate.

African slavers kidnap Aminata when she is on her way home from helping her mother deliver a baby. She is chained to a long line of captives and led on a deathly, three-month march to the coast. Once there, she is herded with other prisoners onto a filthy ship and eventually sold into slavery in America. Aminata ends up on an indigo plantation on an island off the coast of South Carolina. Hill paints a wrenching portrait of this child. It is agony to imagine her shock and bewilderment at the realization that her father cannot come and save her. Her eyes plead with the groups of African villagers who stare sympathetically as the captives move past. She is stunned by the sudden powerlessness of grown-ups. We still tend to visualize the Africa of 1745 as a giant bush devoid of civilization. But Hill depicts Aminata's village as bustling and prosperous, a community of affectionate neighbours. Since we know her from childhood, from well before her abduction, we never come to see her primarily as a slave.  As with most major black heroines, Aminata's story represents not only an individual life but also a particular collective black experience: one that over the course of several decades takes her from Africa to South Carolina to Manhattan, Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone and London. Tragedies and horrors befall her along the way: she loses her parents, her husband and her children, she is brutally raped by her master, and she worked to bitter exhaustion.  Still, Aminata wields as much control over her situation as her circumstances allow. Her second owners teach her to read, write and keep the books for their business. Later, in New York City, where she escapes during the Revolutionary War, she teaches free blacks to read and earns money delivering the babies of the British soldiers' black mistresses.

Manhattan is the last British stronghold, and colonists loyal to the crown flee to Nova Scotia. The British offer passage to black Loyalists too. They hire Aminata to help list the names of those travelling to Nova Scotia. This register will come to be known as the Book of Negroes.  While the Civil War and the Underground Railroad are perceived as seminal to the history of blacks in this country, Hill highlights the relevance of the Revolutionary War. He insists that the role of the British and the resettlement of blacks in Nova Scotia give the U.S. revolutionary struggle a powerfully Canadian slant. Meanwhile, Nova Scotia's uneven treatment of black and white settlers demonstrates the homegrown nature of racism in Canada.  Hill may be the first novelist to add flesh to the bare-bones facts of the black Loyalist account. And the passages set in Nova Scotia are the novel's bleakest. The land blacks receive – when they receive any at all – is poor and sparse, and decent work is virtually impossible to find. The malice of the whites runs deep; race riots are a pervasive and deadly threat. It is in Nova Scotia that Aminata suffers her most desperate loss. Not even during her bondage in America has she felt such desolation. When a plan is formed to establish an all-black settlement in Sierra Leone, Aminata jumps at the chance, more than ready to return to the land of her birth.

Though this novel is a fiction, it is steeped in historical fact. The Book of Negroes is a real historical artifact, racial violence in 18th-century Nova Scotia did occur, and 1,200 or so blacks did abandon Nova Scotia for life in Sierra Leone. A number of the figures Aminata encounters in her support of the abolitionists are based on actual people. Of course fiction, especially historical fiction, contains all manner of facts. What makes The Book of Negroes extraordinary is Hill's ability to transcend the facts – to make something magical out of them. Despite the unpalatable subject matter, he compels our attention and manages to delight. His Aminata is a heroic figure, a little larger than life, residing within and outside of history. You can never forget this character. She embeds herself in your heart. Donna Bailey Nurse is the editor of "Revival: An Anthology of Black Canadian Writing" (McClelland & Stewart)

College Parties Crossing Racial Line

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(February 03, 2007) CHARLESTON, S.C.–White students at Tarleton State University in Texas hold a party in which they
dress in gang gear and drink malt liquor from paper bags. A white student from Clemson University in South Carolina attends a bash in blackface over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. A fraternity at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland invites partygoers to wear "bling bling" grills, or shiny metal caps on their teeth. Across the U.S., "gangsta" theme parties thrown by whites are drawing the ire of college officials and heated complaints from both black and white students who say the antics conjure the worst racial stereotypes. University officials, the NAACP and others have condemned the parties as insulting and inexcusable under any circumstances. At the same time, some black academics said they were not surprised, given the popularity of rap music among inner-city blacks and well-to-do suburban whites alike. The white students, they said, were mimicking the kind of outlaw posturing that blacks themselves display in rap videos. They suggest the white students ended up crossing the same line that says it is okay for blacks to call each other "nigger," but not all right for whites to do it. At an off-campus "Bullets and Bubbly" party thrown by University of Connecticut School of Law students in January, pictures showed students wearing baggy jeans, puffy jackets and holding fake machine guns.

The University of Colorado's Ski and Snowboard Club advertised a "gangsta party" in September, with fliers featuring rappers and fake bullet holes. The theme was dropped after complaints, but some students, who didn't get the message, showed up in gangsta garb, hoping to win prizes. Often such parties go unnoticed outside campuses until students post pictures on and other websites. That's how images of the Clemson party surfaced this week. One student wore blackface; another white student put padding in her pants to make her rear end look bigger. Harold Hughes, a black fraternity member at Clemson whose frat brothers attended the party, said white students "see this on MTV and BET they think it's cool to portray hip hop culture." Hughes said he found it especially offensive that the party was held over a holiday created to honour the slain civil rights leader. Many white Clemson students said they did not believe the party was held to intentionally offend blacks, and after news of the party reached beyond the campus, organizers issued an unsigned letter of apology. Still, school officials are investigating, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said the party was not harmless fun. One hip hop insider, Chris Conners, programming director at Columbia, S.C., radio station WHXT HOT 103.9, said he has no problem with whites imitating certain aspects of black culture – driving cars with flashy rims, for example. But he said students who put on blackface or padded their rear ends crossed the line.

"They weren't really celebrating hip hop culture. They were making fun of African Americans, and that's what really concerns me," he said. These incidents come at a time racial tolerance on college campuses is perceived to be steadily improving. But the truth may be more complicated. A University of Dayton sociologist who analyzed journals kept by 626 white college students found the students behaved differently when they were in the company of other whites than when they were with other races. When the students, who were asked to record their interactions with other people, were alone with other whites, racial stereotypes and racist language were surprisingly common, researcher Leslie Picca found. One student reported hearing the "n-word" among white students 27 times in a single day. The results suggest white students have little sense of shame about racial insults and stereotyping and treat them as simply a part of the culture.

"They have the belief that racism isn't a problem anymore so the words they use and the jokes they tell aren't racist," Picca said, adding she found it "heartbreaking" to see so many well-educated students perpetuating the stereotypes.

Now, This Is A Fantasy Island

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Val Ross

(Feb. 2, 2007) On Wednesday, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, toured a hotel ballroom full of architectural models and officially unveiled the concept designs for the
Saadiyat Island cultural district — museums, art galleries, pavilions and a performing-arts centre that will become the world's largest cultural project ever. On a dais, seated amid the other stars of this gargantuan effort (the Guggenheim Foundation's Tom Krenz, architects Tadao Ando, Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry) was Toronto consultant Barry Lord, whose firm, Lord Cultural Resources, has been involved with three of Saadiyat's four proposed museums. “The world's largest cultural-planning firm is working on the world's largest cultural project. A nice link, eh?” said Lord, speaking by phone from Abu Dhabi. Not only that, but the unveiling was held in the world's largest hotel, the vast Emirates Palace complex (they don't do things on a modest scale in Abu Dhabi). The Saadiyat cultural district will feature a Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum of 30,000 square metres — which means it will be larger than the Guggenheim mother ship in New York City. There are no dollar figures yet available for the cost of the entire cultural district, but it is only part of what's in store for the 27-square-kilometre island off the Abu Dhabi coast. Five other districts are planned, as well as a nature preserve and a 1.5-km-long navigable canal. The total budget is said to be about $27-billion (U.S.).

Lord and his wife, Gail Dexter Lord, are pretty big themselves, at least in the world of museum and cultural planning. Since they formed their company in 1981, they have been involved with more than 1,500 projects in 34 countries. They co-ordinate their international network of offices and their travel (Barry has been to Abu Dhabi at least five times in the past year) from a modest building in Toronto. A world map, studded with red and purple pins, shows where they have worked: South Africa's Constitution Hill prison-complex museum; the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco; the National Discovery Museum of Thailand; the Louvre (they helped to plan an Islamic gallery), the Centre Pompidou and the Musée du quai Branly, the largest museum to open in Paris in 20 years. A pin in Northern Spain indicates that they have even done a strategic plan (2002-08) for the Guggenheim Bilbao. This Gehry-designed complex is the icon for those believers in the power of culture to regenerate urban economies. And now Abu Dhabi will get its own. Wednesday, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince also unveiled models for Saadiyat's fine-arts museum, being organized in co-operation with nine French art galleries (including the Louvre); a Maritime Museum, designed by Japan's Ando, and plans for a national museum, named after Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates. Lord Cultural Resources has worked on all of these. It has developed the master plan for the Maritime Museum — “There'll be a tank with demonstrations by pearl divers,” says Lord, “and an outdoor shipyard for dhows.”

The firm has developed the master plan for the Sheik Zayed museum; now, it's helping to organize the international architectural competition. And it was involved in the initial concept plan for the fine-arts museum, designed by Paris's Atelier Jean Nouvel. This so-called Classical Museum has been the most controversial in the Saadiyat project. In December, after news leaked in France, more than 3,000 people, including museum directors, signed a petition insisting that French cultural treasures are not for sale or loan. “We have not gone further with our involvement because the French government and Abu Dhabi are in deep discussions right now,” Lord said. Abu Dhabi's leaders don't need controversy. They envisioned the Saadiyat project for two reasons. First, they need to “brand” their state, which is in a geopolitical hot spot, abutting Saudi Arabia and perilously near Iraq, as independent, liberal and safe. And they want to be among the winners in the global competition for cultural tourism dollars. “The aim of Saadiyat Island must be to create a cultural asset for the world,” said Sheik Sultan bin Tahnoon al-Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. “Culture crosses all boundaries and therefore Saadiyat will belong to the people of the UAE, the greater Middle East and the world at large.” Over the next 15 years, that ambition, a lot of money and some Canadian expertise should be able to transform a big sand spit in the Arabian Sea into a cultural Xanadu.

The Spoke Club Gets Creative With Its Marketing

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Murray Whyte

(February 04, 2007) It was a scene straight from old-guard-Toronto central casting: A private affair held by the Fraser Institute, the ultra-conservative policy think-tank, at an exclusive club. The Institute had recruited William Thorsell, Royal Ontario Museum president, to lecture on the renaissance of the city's cultural institutions and their need to stand on their own, away from the public purse.  In the intimate, few-dozen-strong audience last week, Conrad Black and Michael Coren sipped cocktails and nibbled canapés. After Thorsell's remarks, the first comment from the floor – likely bathed in warm reminiscences of the Common Sense Revolution – was "Mike Harris started all this, with his Superbuild project." Alistair Campbell, an habitué of such affairs, then added to a smattering of applause, "and Stephen Harper will finish it."  Such would be the prevailing sentiment, no doubt, at the Toronto Club, home to the city's business elite. But the setting was hardly that. No, this was at
The Spoke Club, the self-anointed arts club for Toronto's culture-industry heavyweights. "It didn't seem like a good fit – or brand recognition, if you will," sighed Michael Shore, the club's president. "And I was up front with them about that. I knew there would be a knee-jerk reaction, which was `What the f---?' I was afraid people would either not come at all, or come with the wrong attitude. But then I started thinking about it differently: If it does anything, it'll engender more debate, and I'm all for that."

It does seem an odd alliance, perhaps, for the club to enter into, partnering with a group better known for such publications as Caring for Profit: Economic Dimensions of Canada's Health Care Industry, and Privatization: Tactics and Techniques than deep thinking on the arts. The Fraser Institute has been holding these events at the Spoke Club sporadically for a year. But this week was its first foray into the culture-funding debate which, to some, lifted the veil on both the Institute and the Spoke itself.  "It's not an arts club," said Sarah Diamond, president of the Ontario College of Art and Design, and a Spoke member. "The membership includes people in finance, and certainly the advertising industry. And I don't mind that at all. But I do wonder if it has focus, or if it's just another private Toronto social club with a good venue." Opened a couple of years ago in the city's arts and design district on King St. W., by Alannah and Galen Weston Jr., and Shore, it courted several artists from across the cultural disciplines. Some charter members have let their affiliation lapse. "I suppose I had a romanticized notion of it – as a private library where I could lay out my work with other artists, trade ideas, collaborate," said one former member, a musician and filmmaker. "But right away, it had an elitism to it that I never really associated with the Toronto arts community. It never felt like it was made for artists, so I always felt quite out of place."

Diamond said it's a sentiment she's detected more frequently in recent months. "There are certainly those who have pulled away from it because the culture of the place isn't something they recognize anymore." Shore has heard it before. "The membership committee has a mandate to make sure all members are tangibly connected to media, entertainment or the arts," he said. But he allowed that those connections can be secondary – board members of arts organizations, collectors, benefactors. "You need to pepper the membership with those kinds of people, because they're the ones who make things happen," he said.  Claudia Hepburn, the Fraser Institute's managing director for Ontario, described the Spoke Club's membership as "downtown professionals ... The people we're trying to increase our presence with. "We've been pretty hard-core public policy, and we wanted to try something lighter. Besides," she laughed, "the cognitive dissonance was part of the point."  Diamond, who was drawn to the lecture because of that dissonance – "I thought the context would be completely fascinating," she said – approached the microphone to comment.  A little nonplussed at the notion that the market will provide all cultural needs, Diamond suggested a different idea: That cultural institutions still need public funding to survive.  "It made me something of a magnet," she laughed. "Several people came up to me afterwards to argue that the market, essentially, needed to drive all culture – which, frankly, I don't agree with. We're all dependent on a mix of public and private. That's the fact of it. But that wasn't the discussion most people wanted to have." But Shore, for one, welcomes the diversity. "Whatever baggage the Fraser Institute might bring to the table, if they're coming to us with an important discussion about cultural issues, then that's all I should care about."


Hip Hop’s ‘Down Low’ In New Tell All

Excerpt from

(February 6, 2007) *Former MTV producer
Terrance Dean has written a new memoir about his life as a gay, black man and his dating exploits within the entertainment industry.   “Hiding in Hip-Hop: Confessions of a Down Low Brother in the Entertainment Industry” – sold to Atria last week, according to Publishers Marketplace – is said to cover “the author's life as a closeted homosexual working in the film and music industry and his relationships with other closeted homosexuals—film stars, rap artists, and music producers.” Unlike other recent industry tell-alls from Karrine Steffans and Carmen Bryan, Dean does not name names in his book, which Atria plans to release in 2008. However, a spokeswoman for the publisher said Dean’s descriptions of the closeted men will be quite obvious.  "Let's put it this way: You'll know who they are," she said, according to "It's a no-holds-barred look at Hollywood and hip-hop and who's living on the down-low."



Colts' Defence Swarms Bears

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Dave Perkins, Sports Columnist

(February 05, 2007) MIAMI–
Peyton Manning may finally have won the big one, but nobody deserved more credit for the Indianapolis Colts' 29-17 Super Bowl win last night than their defence. Indy shut down Chicago almost entirely on a rain-soaked night of occasionally shabby football and provided the ball for Manning and the offence to keep pounding at the tiring Bears defence. The Colts ran 81 plays to the Bears' 48 and piled up 430 yards to 265. "Everyone told us that we couldn't do it and we made it happen," said Colts linebacker Cato June. "It was just about us playing together, playing as one, outplaying their defence and outplaying their special teams. We got it done, it feels great for everybody." The win made Tony Dungy the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl and he hugged his disappointed Chicago counterpart, Lovie Smith, and said "how proud I was of this moment for both of us and that the weather probably didn't help either team plays its best game." Manning was named MVP after finishing 25 of 38 for 247 yards, 10 of them dumpoffs for 66 yards to running back Joseph Addai that helped the Colts control the clock (38 minutes to 22) and keep their defence fresh. Dominic Rhodes had an excellent day with 21 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Rex Grossman was 20 for 28 for only 165 yards for the Bears, with Thomas Jones adding 112 yards on 15 carries.

"He understood that he had a lot of players around him to take advantage of, so he understood that he didn't have to do it by himself," Addai, who added 77 yards of rushing, said of Manning.  The killing blow, which stood up under review, was a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown by Indy's Kelvin Hayden on a Grossman wobbler early in the fourth quarter that stretched a nervous 22-17 lead into 29-17. Bob Sanders, Indy's outstanding safety, picked off Grossman on the Bears' next possession to salt things away. "We stepped up in the whole post-season where we just made plays. The defence buckled down and we couldn't be stopped and we are new world champs," said an exultant Hayden, a Chicago native. "I'm going to hear a lot of it. I'm glad I'm on the winning end and not the losing end." Devin Hester took the game's opening kick-off a record 92 yards, almost untouched, for the quickest possible 7-0 Chicago lead on a hazy day of persistent drizzle that turned heavy at times. With conditions slickening the ball, there were eight turnovers, five of them fumbles. "Obviously the passing game wasn't going to be as sharp because of the weather and it certainly became a factor down there in the red zone," Manning said. "But how about that. I come down to Miami and play in the soaking rain. You wouldn't expect it." The lack of continuity was most telling on the Bears.

A good early drive for a TD and a 14-6 lead was followed by three consecutive three-and-out possessions and, gifted constantly with the ball, the Colts went to work against an overworked defence and never looked back. The Bears lost Cedric Benson to a knee injury late in the first quarter, which also hurt. "Time of possession dictated (play selection). We only had 19 (first-half) plays on offence," said a disappointed Grossman. "It's frustrating when you can't get into your game plan, you can't get deep into everything you practised. "We just weren't completing third-and-shorts. And then they had some long drives." Manning, operating with plenty of time as pressure failed to appear, started picking the Bears apart with short passes. On a third and 10, Chicago finally blitzed and Manning found Reggie Wayne ridiculously alone behind broken coverage for 53 yards and an easy touchdown. However, holder Hunter Smith bobbled the snap and no convert was kicked. The Bears caught a break ending the first half when Adam Vinatieri, who almost never misses, pulled a 36-yard field goal wide, leaving the Colts ahead 16-14 at intermission. The Colts, after Hester's initial supernova, simply refused to kick the ball to him, squibbing it the rest of the night and trusting their defence to bottle up Grossman and Co. NOTE: Dan Federkeil, the Albertan who was playing at the University of Calgary a year ago, was declared inactive for the Colts. He didn't figure to dress unless there was a significant injury on the offensive line this week.

Fast, Female And Fun Times

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -

(February 02, 2007) Olympic champion
Chandra Crawford is in a quandary: how do you clean 80 yoga mats? It's not a standard dilemma for an athlete in mid-season, with the world championships looming. But Crawford's hardly typical. Her riffs on air guitar and unrestrained joy on the victory podium at the Turin Olympics pegged her as a young athlete with uncommon enthusiasm. She's using that passion – and $10,000 from her modest earnings – to try to inspire the next generation of Canadian female cross-country skiers, and girls in general. It's part of Fast and Female, a program she's started to encourage girls across the country to get active.  Crawford is bringing together 80 girls aged 9 to 19 from across Canada on Sunday in her hometown of Canmore, Alta., for Fast and Female 2007, an event where they'll ski, do some hip-hop dancing, get an inspirational speech from their host and, oh yes, do some yoga. The new yoga mats purchased for the event were slippery and had a bad smell, so Crawford used a couple of bottles of wine she brought home from Italy to lure volunteers into giving them a good scrub with soap and water. Although she hired a local co-ordinator for the event, the 23-year-old has been immersed in it daily, even while on the road this winter with the Canadian cross-country skiing team.

"It's something that just gives me energy," said Crawford. "It's something I care about so much, that I'm so passionate about, that it doesn't feel like work." No detail is too small. The environmentally conscious Crawford is having the hoodies that participants will receive – featuring Fast and Female's funky logo of a girl with pigtails and sunglasses – made from hemp. But Crawford's signature is best seen in the varied menu of activities. "It's really an expression of the things that I love about the community I share the sport with, a lot of really outgoing, amazing women," she said. "We love charging down the hills on our skis and racing against each other up them.  "We're striving to have girls feel comfortable in their skin. Movement like this feels good when your cheeks are flushed and you've been skiing or dancing or doing some yoga. You feel great in your body. "That kind of feeling counteracts all the feelings you might have through the rest of the day or the rest of your life where you feel like you're not good enough or your body isn't this or that enough, which seems to be something that plagues women of all ages." Among those impressed with Crawford's efforts is fellow Olympic cross-country ski champion Beckie Scott.

"Young girls are especially vulnerable to all kinds of unhealthy influences that lead them to drop out of sport at an early age, and this camp is really all about showing them that sport, and particularly skiing, is fun, cool, hip, exciting and worth pursuing," said Scott, now retired. "I also think it's great that Chandra is leading this, and taking her responsibility as a role model for young girls and women seriously." Crawford is hoping that the 12 ambassadors coming to Canmore – representatives of the 10 provinces plus the Yukon and Northwest Territories – will show the DVD of the event they'll take home to friends and spread the message about getting moving. There were originally to be 50 participants on a first-come, first-served basis, but 80 signed up on the opening day of on-line registration.  Crawford enlisted sponsors DC Energy, and financial companies JF Mackie and Co. and Haywood Securities to help with the extra cost. Crawford said she will need bigger endorsement partners in the future. "We have expensive goals at Fast and Female. It (money) goes pretty fast when you want to involve the whole country." Crawford actually started the movement before she became a big name, holding the first Fast and Female event in 2005. It bothered her that whenever she saw cross-country teams, the number of boys always at least doubled the girls.  Crawford admits there is an ulterior motive behind the program – she wants more teammates for the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. "Really, it's kind of an investment in making sure there are strong girls coming up nipping at my heels and to carry the momentum of the Canadian women's Nordic team. "I think even though it's an individual sport we push each other and work together and we're stronger for it."

Raptors, Beasts Of The East

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -

(February 02, 2007) When practice breaks up in Raptorland this season, the sights and sounds are becoming familiar. You'll probably see Dave Hopla, the shooting coach, making a few (hundred) free throws without missing. You usually see Andrea Bargnani, who is religious about post-practice stretching, tangling his giraffe-ish legs into a pretzel. And over on the opposite sideline you often see Bryan Colangelo, the president and general manager, engaged in an animated conversation with
Sam Mitchell, the coach. "I believe they talk every day, evaluate what's going on, the positives, the negatives, how can we get better. And believe me, all the guys are watching. They all notice it," said Darrick Martin, the 12-year veteran guard who is one of Mitchell's closest confidants. "Bryan and Sam have a great working relationship. ... As a player, you like to see how their relationship works. They're the captains of the ship." When the season began, of course, no one could be sure how long Mitchell would stay above water. Colangelo, after all, didn't hire him. And he didn't exactly seem to admire him. But things have changed considerably in three unexpectedly successful months. Yesterday Mitchell was named the Eastern Conference's coach of the month for January. That the Raptors dispatched the Wizards twice while winning 10 of 15 games – and in doing so, beat the team that currently stands atop the frighteningly feeble Eastern Conference – speaks to the club's current location: on the brink of what could quickly become an unexpected breakthrough of a season.

Thanks to his own maturation as a coach and the speedy maturation of his young team, Mitchell is tracking a remarkable improvement curve. If it continues, it'll be difficult for Colangelo to justify any course of action other than giving Mitchell, whose current deal expires at season's end, a contract extension. How do you fire the coach, after all, when the franchise's three cornerstone players are coming along so nicely? T.J. Ford, 23, has been hampered by injury of late but has been occasionally, tantalizingly outstanding. Chris Bosh, 22, is headed to his second consecutive all-star game and was yesterday named the Eastern Conference's player of the month for January. And Bargnani, the 21-year-old who rounded out the Raptors' sweep of the conference's monthly awards by being named the East's rookie of the month, has progressed at a rate even Colangelo says he didn't anticipate.  How do you fire the coach when the player Mitchell has called his "pride and joy" – second-year point guard Jose Calderon – has improved more than anyone on the roster? Indeed, that Mitchell has displayed an enviable rapport with many of his charges hasn't hurt his cause or team chemistry. How do you fire the coach, in short, when he has been handed one of the greenest rosters in the league – complete as it is with nine new players – and has improved its record every month? There are ways, of course, to fire a coach. You could point out that Mitchell has clearly been out-duelled at times; that if the Raptors had won a handful of the games in which they've been close down the stretch – if better in-game management had saved the day – they'd be wildly overachieving.

So an extension isn't coming just yet. And the argument that it needs to come, and pronto, doesn't hold much water. If lame-duck coaching is as destructive to credibility as some claim, Toronto's relatively harmonious locker room is an aberration. Yesterday, though Colangelo offered stock praise for Mitchell and Bosh and Bargnani, he exercised his usual refusal to discuss Mitchell's contractual situation. Perhaps the GM doesn't want anyone relaxing just yet. Clearly Colangelo is reserving judgment a little longer, and wisely.  Bringing the team through the regular season's home stretch, shepherding the youngsters through a likely playoff run, will be Mitchell's biggest test yet. And if he and the team perform well, much of the leverage in negotiations will be his.  But there's at least three months' work ahead. To put it in the vernacular of politics – another game Mitchell avidly observes – the re-election campaign is off to a great beginning. Still, the electorate will be unforgiving should the coach and his team, on the cusp of heady and unexpected success, end up with something less.


Canadians Win Gold, Silver In Moguls

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press

(February 05, 2007) LA PLAGNE, France —
Jennifer Heil is golden again. The Olympic champion from Spruce Grove, Alta., won a gold medal in a World Cup moguls event on Monday. It was her first victory of the season. Heil, who lives and trains in Montreal, scored 26.83 points. Deborah Scanzio of Italy was second while Margarita Marbler of Austria finished third. Kristi Richards of Summerland, B.C., was fourth and Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City was eighth. La Plagne is the home mountain of Sandra Laoura, the French skier who was seriously injured while training in Mont-Gabriel, Que., last month. “It felt wonderful to get that first win at this venue,” said Heil, a silver medallist in her previous two World Cup races. “I really wanted to go out there and win a medal for Sandra. It’s really special. It was a huge source of motivation for me today. There was a lot of support here for her.” In men’s moguls, Alexandre Bilodeau of Rosemere, Que., finished just behind Finland’s Sami Mustonen and took silver. Dale Begg-Smith, a Canadian who competes for Australia, finished third while Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau of Drummondville, Que., was sixth and Maxime Gingras of St-Hippolyte, Que., was seventh.  Bilodeau’s silver performance came at the end of a tough day. He broke two pairs of skis leading into the competition.  “It was a very stressful day, I’ve never been so nervous,” he said. “I was wondering what more could go wrong. “I’m very pleased and relieved.” This was the first World Cup since mid-January as weather problems have plagued the circuit this season. The competition ends Tuesday with men’s and women’s dual moguls.



Lose The Love Handles

By Joyce Vedral, eDiets Guest Columnist

Those dreaded love handles! If only they brought us more love instead of so much grief. But there's good news. You can lose your love handles-or at least most of them in 3 weeks by doing the right routine.  But what are love handles? They are the grab-able bands of fat on the sides of your body. Love handles are also found, depending upon your particular tendency to store fat, in a band all around your back, just above your waistline. Nice information! But how do you get rid of them?  You have to use light weights, and you have to work a certain way -- consistently, with a variety of exercises, until you zap away the fat and replace it with tight, toned, sleek mini-muscles.  The beauty of this workout is, those mini-muscles, once developed, will help you burn overall body fat 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because putting muscle on your body kicks up your metabolism.  Here are two exercises that will help to zap those love handles in record time.

Love Handle Side Oblique Squeeze

Sit in a chair with a light dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent and arms extended outward. Your palms are facing away from your body.

Movement: Flexing your entire side waist area as you go, move your right arm down and forward towards the center of your body. Give that "love handle" area an extra flex and return to start position. Repeat for the other side. Repeat the movement until you have done 12 repetitions for each side of your body.

Love Handle Crush

Bend at the waist until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor, a light dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other. Movement: Flexing your entire back and side "love handle" area, extend your arms outward until they are parallel to the floor. Without resting, return to start position. Repeat 12 times.

Repeat this sequence two more times.

In three weeks you'll see a major meltdown of your love handles, especially if you add more variety to your love handle workout. I want you to e mail me at with your exciting results, or with questions.



Motivational Note: Living Your Dream: 5 Success Secrets You Can't Do Without

By Jason M. Gracia -

You only have one life to live, so you might as well live it the way you want to, right? I know what you're thinking: 'Easier said than done.' While this may be true, it is possible. You can, in fact, experience the life you've always dreamed about; it's simply a matter of taking the right steps at the right time. What are those right steps? Glad you asked. Below you'll find five such secrets of success that are guaranteed to get you moving in the right direction.

1. Allow Yourself to Dream When it comes to goals and dreams, people tend to consider them extra-curricular thoughts, taking the place of more pressing and important matters. They feel as if they should be spending their time in more productive ways, not wishful thinking. The truth is little else is more important than dreaming and reaching for more. Yes, you may get more of your to-do list crossed off by ignoring your dreams, but is it really worth your long-term happiness? Recognize the importance of dreaming, of investing time and energy into the acts of improvement. Give yourself the permission to dream and you'll open the door to a new and exciting future.

2. Create Space for Your Dream Designating a room or particular space in your home as the place for your dream or goal will not only give you a place to think and work without distraction but also demonstrate a personal commitment to the process. Set up a writing area in the den. Create your photo studio in the basement. Don't need an entire room? No problem. Hang a cork board in the kitchen to serve as the altar to your goal. Whatever it may be, make it real and give your dream the space it deserves.

3. To Test is Best How can you be sure the dream you've chosen is right for you? Simple - test it. Always wanted to be a teacher? Volunteer in a classroom to see how it goes. Want to become a writer? Submit a handful of small pieces to your local newspaper or community newsletter and gauge their reaction - and yours. With a small test, you'll gain firsthand experience with your dream and discover which path is best suited for you. To be continued…