20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
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June 28, 2007

Happy Canada Day - one of my fav celebrations in the year.  Such a great weekend to spend with family and friends and celebrate our nation's Birthday.  Celebrate safely!

By the way, had a great time in San Jose, California visiting some great people at a great spot.  Many thanks to Darryl, Kerrynn and Hazel for making my trip such a great one! 

Harbourfront Centre
offers hot festivals this summer - World Rhythms which includes a concert featuring Seun Kuti and Egypt 80.


Harbourfront Centre Announces The Anticipated Return Of World Routes 2007 - June 4 To September 3, 2007

Source:  Harbourfront Centre

Harbourfront Centre is pleased to announce the dates for the
2007 Summer Festival season, as well as the dates for the festivals collectively known as World Routes 2007 presented by RBC. From June through September, Harbourfront Centre will be presenting top Canadian and International artists comprising all creative disciplines including music, dance, theatre, visual arts, readings and film each weekend. Visitors will also enjoy our 10-acre site once again for enriching family activities at multiple waterfront venues. All Summer Festivals are FREE admission.

Visitors to Harbourfront Centre can also experience the rich cultural diversity of each weekend's theme while enjoying rotating shopping and food selections at the International Marketplace and The World Café nestled alongside an expanded boardwalk.

World Rhythms
Harbourfront Centre unites the four corners of the globe together with the musical showcase of World Rhythms. Instruments and icons from around the world will be on hand to demonstrate and display how music is the universal language; also features food, dance and visual arts from around the world.  Sound is the source of this festival as the major regions of the world showcase their rhythms in this global musical mix. Instruments from the farthest reaches of the world, icons of the world music community, and a captivating demo of how percussive movement has charmed the world over - this festival leaves no stone unturned.


·         Futuristic funk mash-up with Sa-Ra Creative Partners

Sampled by everyone from Public Enemy to Mos Def, it's the Toronto debut of Motown guitar God Dennis Coffey


Source:  Harbourfront Centre

Co-produced with Music Africa is the Canadian Premiere of
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80The power of a political message, wrapped in an infectious afro-beat lives on as the legendary Egypt 80 band finds the perfect new leader in Seun Kuti, Fela's youngest son. In commemoration of the 10 year anniversary of Fela Kuti's passing. Listen to new recordings from Seun Kuti's upcoming 12"

Opening Act: Eritrean krar virtuoso Daniel Nebiat
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage
235 Queens Quay West
8:00 pm
Tickets:$25 | $30

Get tickets HERE 

**Harbourfront Press Release:

World Rhythms – A Showcase of Global Sounds and Culture

 Friday, July 13 through Sunday, July 15 – ONLY at Harbourfront Centre
 (complete event schedule included below)
 TORONTO, June 26, 2007 – Harbourfront Centre travelled the four corners   of the earth to assemble the incredible line up for World Rhythms.    This festival escorts visitors on a journey around the world to bring   together globally diverse art, food and culture, an undertaking only   Harbourfront Centre could bring to fruition.
 With icons of the world music community, traditional and contemporary   dance performances, exquisite global culinary demonstrations,   awe-inspiring films and visual art displays, as well as plenty of activities for   the kids, Harbourfront Centre’s World Rhythms is a gateway to an   enriched cultural experience, from Friday, July 13 through Sunday, July 15.
 World Rhythms is part of Harbourfront Centre’s summer long series of   festivals, World Routes 2007 presented by RBC. Each weekend from June   through September, top Canadian and International artists perform in all   of the creative disciplines including music, dance, theatre, visual   arts, readings and film. Harbourfront Centre’s unparalleled 10-acre   waterfront site is prized for its fun and educational family activities at   multiple venues, as well as the ethnic diversity of the International   Marketplace and World Café. These rotating shops and cafés are nestled   along an expanded boardwalk, and enable visitors to explore and access each   weekend's cultural theme through the purchase of unique items and food.   All World Routes 2007 summer festivals are FREE admission.
 Featured music performances include the incomparable Sa-Ra Creative   Partners, the Toronto debut of Motown guitar legend Dennis Coffey, the   highly acclaimed Mamani Keita & Nicolas Repac, and the exciting Ricardo   Lemvo & Makina Loca. The Canadian Premiere of the documentary Ali Farka   Touré and Toumani Diabaté - The Hotel Mandé Sessions is only one of many   very special film screenings. 
 Stunning dance troupe Ballet en Fuego from New Mexico make their   Canadian Debut while the body plays percussion in the special dance   performance East Meets West featuring Little Pear Garden Collective and Turn on   the Tap. Local musician and world instrument craftsman Nuno Christo   will display his unique collection of instruments from around the world   and appetites for global cuisine will be satisfied with special Cooking   Demonstrations courtesy of local chefs such as Caroline Ishii, Gregg   Lewis and Jim Comishen.
 For more information on all World Rhythms events the public can call  416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com
 World Rhythms at Harbourfront Centre – All events are FREE
 Friday, July 13
 8:00 p.m. – The Arsenals – Toronto’s underground Ska legends (Concert  Stage)
 9:00 p.m. – Soul Influence – soulful a cappella quartet (Toronto Star  Stage)
 9:30 p.m. – Mamani Keita & Nicolas Repac – Malian songstress and French  electronic wizard (Concert Stage)
 11:00 p.m. – Pat Braden – Yellowknife based singer/songwriter  (Brigantine Room)
 7:30 p.m. – Hollywood & Tazz (Toronto Star Stage)
 8:30 p.m. – As Old as My Tongue: The Myth and Life of Bi Kidude –  Canadian Premiere! (Studio Theatre)
 Saturday, July 14
 2:00 p.m. – Fiamma Fumana – Northern Italy’s finest (Concert Stage)
 3:30 p.m. – Justin Nozuka – Rising Japanese/Canadian soul star!  (Concert Stage)
 7:00 p.m. – Beyond the Pale – Toronto’s genre-defying specialists, presented by Tilley (Toronto Star Stage)
 8:00 p.m. – Dennis Coffey – Motown and jazz guitar legend – Toronto  Solo Debut! (Concert Stage)
 9:30 p.m. – Sa-Ra Creative Partners – witness “The Future of Music” –  Canadian Debut! (Concert Stage)
 11:00 p.m. – Peace…What It Is! – Sa Ra Creative Partners After Party  with DJ Dave Campbell (Brigantine Room)
 1:30 p.m. - Mosaic Dance (Toronto Star Stage)
 3:00 p.m. – East Meets West – Little Pear Garden Collective and Turn on  the Tap  (Toronto Star Stage)
 5:00 p.m. – Tarana Dance Academy (Toronto Star Stage)
 5:30 p.m. – Ballet En Fuego – New Mexico’s finest dance troupe –  Canadian Debut! (Toronto Star Stage)
 2:00 p.m. – Mariza and the Story of Fado (Studio Theatre)
 7:30 p.m. – The World Talks: The San People of Namibia (Studio Theatre)
 9:00 p.m. – Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté - The Hotel Mandé  Sessions - Canadian Debut! (Studio Theatre)
 1:30 p.m. – Chef Jim Comishen – “Jambalaya” Cooking Class (Lakeside  Terrace)
 3:30 p.m. – Chefs Caroline Ishii & Gregg Lewis of ZenKitchen – Food  Demo (Lakeside Terrace)
 Family Activities:
 1:00 p.m. – Children’s Craft Rainstick (Kids Zone Tent)

 3:30 p.m. – World Music Instrument Talk with local collector Nuno  Christo (Studio Theatre)
 Sunday, July 15
 3:00 p.m. – Pacha Massive – Colombian rhythms via New York City - part  of the Pepsi Concert Series (Concert Stage)
 4:30 p.m. – Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca – Legendary Congolese Rumba  (Concert Stage)
 1:00 p.m. – Bold Steps Dance Studio – Highland Scottish step dance  (Toronto Star Stage)
 2:30 p.m. – Ballet En Fuego (Toronto Star Stage)
 4:00 p.m. – The Road – Emily Cheung and Rina Singha (Toronto Star  Stage)
 2:00 p.m. – HerSong “La Colombiana” - WORLD PREMIERE! (Studio Theatre)
 4:00 p.m. – Breaking the Silence – Music in Afghanistan (Studio  Theatre)
 5:30 p.m. – The Cult of Walt: Canada’s Polka King (Studio Theatre)
 Family Activities:
 1:00 p.m.  – Children’s Craft Rainstick (Kids Zone Tent)
 2:00 p.m. – Chef La-Toya Fagon – Food Class “Sweet and Spicy Caribbean
 Style Chicken with Vegetables” (Lakeside Terrace)
 4:00 p.m. – Tamales Demo with John Martin of Johny Banana (Lakeside Terrace)


Robin Thicke Could Be First Non-Black To Win B.E.T. Award

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(June 26, 2007)
Robin Thicke is white, and that's no rap against him. At least in the eyes of Black Entertainment Television, the U.S.-based cable network which airs its annual BET Awards ceremony tonight. Thicke, the crooning, platinum-selling son of Canadian entertainer Alan Thicke and singer-actress Gloria Loring, is a contender for the best male R&B artist and a publicly voted viewer's choice prize for his smash album The Evolution of Robin Thicke. If he should win, he would be the first non-black artist to snatch the star-topped statue: Justin Timberlake and Eminem made short lists, but lost, in 2003; while the wacky and pale Michael Jackson has never even been nominated. (Justifiably, BET people have historically been ice-ice cold to the milk-skinned rapper Vanilla Ice.)  The BET Awards were established in 2001, according to a Wikipedia blurb, to "celebrate African Americans and other minorities in music, acting, sports and other fields of entertainment." Though his lithe falsetto has confused radio listeners into thinking otherwise, Thicke is not an African American. Skin colour aside, Thicke's Oprah-approved brand of suave soul has been embraced by black audiences. YouTube commentary is highly favourable ("homey can sing!"), and the cover of the current issue of Giant is given exclusively to Thicke, dubbed by the Afro-centric magazine as "Soul Brother No. 1."

In the article, Thicke is disarmingly candid, whether speaking about his marriage to black actress Paula Patton (Idlewild) or a long-seeded jealously of Jesus: "I'm special. I'm able to be righteous. How come Jesus gets to be the Son of God and not me?" In the same interview, the Beverly Hills-born and raised Thicke reveals the delusion that he is something other than privileged. "People act like the only black people or Puerto Ricans or people of any ethnicity who make it out of the 'hood are athletes and rappers and, in reality, we have more minority doctors, lawyers, teachers, and professors than ever before. Society as a whole is changing because the white man is finally losing some control." The cryptic use of "we," whether it refers to minorities or residents of the 'hood, is nothing short of bizarre coming from the non-suffering musician. That being said, in the field of urban R&B music, Thicke is a minority. Victory tonight in Los Angeles would be a legitimate triumph. Thicke will be in tough, though, facing challenges from Senegalese rapper Akon, John Legend and the sympathy-vote grabbing Gerald Levert, recently deceased. Blue eyes and light skin notwithstanding, Thicke, in this race, is the dark horse.

Canadian Wrestler, Wife, Son Found Slain

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Staff Reporter

(June 26, 2007) Professional wrestler
Chris Benoit, known to fans as the "Canadian Crippler," was found dead yesterday in his suburban Atlanta home with his wife, Nancy, and 7-year-old son, Daniel.  Detective Bo Turner told Atlanta television station WAGA the case was being treated as a murder-suicide. The station said police believe the 40-year-old Benoit killed his wife and son, then himself on Monday. A neighbour called police, and the bodies were found in three rooms of the house yesterday afternoon.  Autopsy results are expected today. Benoit had wrestled since 2000 for World Wrestling Entertainment. He had at least two other children: David and Megan. "Chris was always first-class – warm, friendly, caring and professional ... one of the best in our business," WWE Canada president Carl DeMarco said in a statement. Dennis Turner, who wrestled in the 1980s as Dirty Dan Denton, said Benoit was widely respected for his technical skills, and was regarded as a level-headed person "in the middle of the craziness" that is the world of pro wrestling.

"I'm a very laid back, quiet person. I'm not a big talker," Benoit, a chiselled 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, told the Canadian Press in 2004.  Born in Montreal, Benoit moved at age 12 to the Edmonton area. At 17, he enrolled in "the dungeon," a legendary wrestling training facility run by Calgary's Stu Hart. "Every time I come out and hear my name announced and they're saying from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I'm very proud of that," he told the Edmonton Sun in 2000. He wrestled for Hart's Stampede Wrestling circuit in the mid-1980s before competing in Japan and Mexico. He moved to the U.S. World Championship Wrestling in 1992, then to the WWE in 2000. Three months ago, he wondered to the United Kingdom's Express newspaper why so many wrestling stars have died so young. "You read about the lifestyles of rock bands and movie stars and they don't have anything near the mortality rate that we do in wrestling. It's very strange." Despite his age and injuries that came with his job he said this year he had no plans to quit.

With files from Canadian Press

Losing The Pulse At Queen And John

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Geoff Nixon And Unnati Gandhi

(June 23, 2007) When well-known news anchor Gord Martineau first went to
CITY-TV in 1977, it wasn't because he wanted to make a dazzling career move. It was because he had a job he didn't like in Montreal. Back then, you didn't go to the fledgling newsroom at Toronto's underpowered, pre-cable era CITY-TV unless things were pretty bad. "No one in his or her right mind would do this, because it was a nuthouse," says Mr. Martineau, describing his reaction to a supervisor's suggestion that he make a move from then-sister station CFCF Montreal. But Mr. Martineau came to CITY, never looked back and quickly became one of the many hip and talented young faces drawn to the urban station and its breezy brand of TV. Now, with regulators having recently approved the takeover by Rogers Broadcasting of five CITY-TV news affiliates across Canada, the flagship Toronto station will be moved out of its downtown digs at 299 Queen St. W. within three years (location to be determined). With the station will go the faces of reporters and anchors that have become as much a part of the neighbourhood as the suburban teens squealing over celebrities visiting MuchMusic. It's this diverse group of personalities, including booming baritone Mark Dailey, veteran anchor Anne Mroczkowski and social-issues reporter Jojo Chintoh who, over the years, brought an intangible freshness and edge to CITY-TV.

It's a sad passing: The station both defined the neighbourhood and represented a Great Leap Forward in broadcasting. "It's going to be sad for me because I associate this whole area with CITY-TV," said one local, Vanessa Amaron, 27, who works in the area. "It's what marks Queen West." The downtown Toronto location will continue to house the cable channel operations that CTVGlobemedia Inc. acquired from CHUM. That includes music-video channel MuchMusic, which has become a staple of Queen Street with its sidewalk concerts and parking-lot video-awards shows. CITY-TV has run its main operations from the CHUM-CITY building since moving there from the defunct property of a Queen Street East nightclub, The Electric Circus, in 1987. CITY's arrival at Queen and John streets sparked two decades of gentrification of Queen Street West, which had long been run-down and neglected.  Moses Znaimer's model of television - with cameras roaming the building and pedestrians peeking into the studio - made the neighbourhood into a supporting player.  "I remember how excited we were to move in and the fact that they had wired the whole building [for broadcast]," says John (J.D.) Roberts, an anchor with CNN's American Morning, who along with Jeanne Beker was one of the original hosts of The New Music.

Ms. Beker, host of Fashion Television, remembers the station's youthful eagerness to challenge the status quo.  "It was the original reality TV," she says, summing up their "smash-and-grab" approach. "You really felt like you were in the eye of the storm." CITY-TV broadcasts were less staid than those on other networks and had quirks that had never before been seen in Canadian broadcast. The station put everyday people - chubby, skinny, those with disabilities, those who weren't white and others who didn't fit the mould of traditional TV fare - in front of the camera both as subjects and as front-line broadcasters. On the newscasts, there were no anchor desks, and the reporters dished the news from the scene. They were expected to go out and get the story, not sit behind their desks and rehash the details from the inside of an editing suite. Mr. Martineau describes the CITY-TV way as being very stripped down and very simple: "You shoot Toronto and you make the streets of Toronto your newsroom," he recalls. "It was very much seat-of-the-pants and $1.98 television," Mr. Roberts says.  Now, 20 years later, Queen West is known as Toronto's version of SoHo by locals, renowned for its trendy boutique shops and outdoor patios. And CITY was the catalyst for the area's transition through the 1980s and 1990s into Toronto's cultural heart - first with the arrival of bookstores, restaurants and music clubs such as the Rivoli - and then a busy retail strip driven by fashion. "CITY-TV and Queen Street have been synonymous since its inception in the 1970s," Mr. Roberts says succinctly. "It would be tragic for it to move out of those digs." CITY-TV's move probably won't affect the vibrant strip, architecture historian Larry Richards says. "Queen West has fully demonstrated its economic, cultural and social vitality, developing further and further west," he says. Prof. Richards doesn't think the loss of CITY-TV "will place a major dent, at all, in the Queen West miracle that seems to go on and on." One man, who declined to give his name as crews set up the stage for the recent MuchMusic Video Awards ceremony, agreed that CITY-TV's leaving won't have much of an impact. "The groupie kids from Scarborough are still going to come down."


Redman Keeps Moving Forward

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - J.D. Considine

(June 26, 2007) Pore over the press for
Joshua Redman's new album, Back East, and it's clear that he is going back. The question is, back where? According to some, the album - his first all-acoustic project after five years playing with the Elastic Band - marks a return to his roots; according to others, it's a return to tradition. One reviewer, writing in The Boston Globe, called it "a return to a certain post-bop orthodoxy" (although he neglected to specify which post-bop orthodoxy). Redman doesn't see it that way. For him, the album is a move forward and every bit as modern as the Elastic Band was. He's particularly rankled by the notion that, because he's working with acoustic bass and drums, his music is now somehow closer to jazz tradition. "I bristle against that," he says over the phone from a tour stop in Los Angeles. "Not because I don't believe or respect the jazz tradition, but because that term has become so symbolically and ideologically charged."

When Redman began to make a name as a jazz saxophonist, after winning the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition in 1991, the battle to define tradition had become almost a holy war. "Everyone seemed to want to divide the jazz world between the traditionalists and the innovators," he says. "It made for good press, but it's so reductionist." And in his case, it's also pretty silly. The Harvard-educated son of jazz giant Dewey Redman (a saxophonist best known for his work with Ornette Coleman, the Keith Jarrett Quartet, and Old and New Dream), Joshua Redman arrived with impeccable credentials and a solid grounding in the music. For him, there was no question about defining terms. "The jazz tradition is basically the language of jazz, and it's a living language," he says. "It has developed and evolved over time, and in that sense, yes, what I'm doing is part of the jazz tradition. But in that sense, everything I've done has been part of the jazz tradition. The Elastic Band was coming out of the jazz tradition in the sense that it was using the language and vocabulary that we've developed as jazz musicians. "But the sense of tradition as something from the past that you return to, that's something that I've never felt comfortable with," he adds. "Jazz is by its very nature a relevant music, because it's a music based in improvisation. When you're really playing jazz, you're creating, you're expressing yourself in the moment. You might be working within a language or even within some structures that have their roots in music of the past, sure. But a return to the past in terms of nostalgia or an attempt to revive or recapture something - that's not something that I'm really interested in."

Even so, Back East does make some conscious nods to the past, from the title, which recalls Sonny Rollins's 1957 album Way Out West, to the inclusion of a number of standards in its set list. "This is the first album where I am explicitly taking on or engaging with the music of my great influences," he admits. "So in that sense, I'm almost contradicting myself. "I feel, for the first time, more comfortable and more confident with my own identity," he says. "It's something that I've always thought I had, but now I feel a little more comfortable with taking on material that Sonny Rollins did. Taking on a Wayne Shorter tune, or a John Coltrane tune, and creating a whole album that, conceptually, deals with my influences." Not insignificantly, among those influences was his father, who appears on two tracks (one of them a version of John Coltrane's India) and who died not long after the sessions were completed. "Certainly my father was a great influence," he says. "So yes, I wanted to play with my father, because I wanted to play with a great saxophonist who had taught me so much, and to celebrate that." He laughs. "You don't have to get to psychoanalysis to explain that." Redman had played and recorded with his father before, but always as a sideman. "I didn't even know he was going to agree to do this, originally, and when he did, I was excited," he says. "We had a great time, and of course, it took on even greater significance. This was the last time that we played together, and the last time that I saw him until he passed away. I don't think either of us knew the importance of it at the time."

Joshua Redman performs tonight at the Vancouver Jazz Festival, tomorrow at the Victoria Jazz Festival, Friday at the Toronto Jazz Festival and Saturday at the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Cabaret finds a home at the Savoy

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(June 21, 2007) Life is a cabaret, old chum – or at least it will be next week. The
Savoy Cabaret Series is one of the most intimate yet engaging parts of the Toronto Jazz Festival, allowing an eclectic group of artists to perform their own highly individual material in an intimate setting. "This is our second year," Says Sybil Walker, organizer of the series, "and if all goes well I believe it will be an annual one for the festival and hopefully something I can continue to build on as we love cabaret and are not, in this city, serviced well in that area."  Walker certainly knows what she's talking about. For many years, she booked the talent that appeared in the same venue at 253 Victoria St. when it was known as Top o' the Senator, and this year she's got a very impressive lineup. It starts next Monday with Jean Stilwell and Patti Loach reprising this spring's two-woman act Carmen Unzipped. The title comes from the fact that Stilwell is world-renowned for performances as the title heroine of Bizet's opera.  Stilwell recounts some personal adventures, and combines more recent songs with classic cabaret chansons like "La Vie en Rose." Everything, of course, delivered in Stilwell's exquisitely throaty mezzo-soprano. Tuesday, Micah Barnes takes the stage. The singer that L.A. Weekly called "swoonworthy" has returned to Toronto after 10 years in California. He returns with a set full of songs that illustrate his journey through life in a style one critic said "sits halfway between Cole Porter and Elvis Costello."

Julie Michels heads the bill on Wednesday. She's one of the country's premier jazz vocalists, who's been honing her craft for years from coast to coast. She thinks of herself as "a teller of life's stories" and her material ranges from beloved swing classics to deeply personal solos. One of Toronto's favourites climbs those well-worn stairs on Victoria St. on Thursday, June 28, when John Alcorn connects with his public yet again. Alcorn is one of our finest interpreters of the "great American songbook," an artist who always knows how to walk the fine line between respecting the material and offering an original interpretation. This program, where he'll be joined by Richard Whiteman at the piano and Steve Wallace on bass, is devoted entirely to the music and lyrics of Cole Porter and it's exciting just to contemplate what unique spin Alcorn could bring to songs like "Love for Sale" and "Ridin' High."  Last, but clearly not least, Louise Pitre wraps things up with a two-night stand on Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30. Pitre has enjoyed a long and distinguished career during which she'll probably be best remembered for her searing performance as Edith Piaf and her joyous lighting up of Mamma Mia! But the cabaret format allows the quicksilver Pitre the chance to shuffle through all the cards in her musical deck and we're likely to hear some Jacques Brel and Jimmy Webb as well as some of her own heartfelt compositions. Tickets for the Savoy Cabaret series are available by calling 416-870-8000. Price vary: for Barnes, Michels and Alcorn, it's $15, with $20 stage seating also available. For Stilwell, it's $25 for regular seat and $30 for stage. Pitre's pair of performances carry the highest price tag: $35, with $40 for stage seating. Information is also available at

Delfeayo Steps Into Limelight

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Pop & Jazz Critic

(June 23, 2007) Word is after 25 years establishing himself as a Grammy Award winning record producer,
Delfeayo Marsalis has decided to focus on a career as a trombonist. But when the Star catches up with the fourth of six sons of the musical Marsalis clan – in advance of his headlining debut at the Toronto Jazz Festival Friday night at 8 at Nathan Phillips Square – it's on the set of a biopic about legendary New Orleans cornetist Buddy Bolden. "I am producing the soundtrack, but right now I'm actually serving as a consultant to the actors, helping them to look like musicians," said the genial 41-year-old by phone from Wilmington, N.C.  "You get these bands sometimes in the movies that look terrible, so we're trying to combine the theatrical along with the musical. I'm working with them on how to hold the instruments, how to make it believable that these guys created such vibrant and joyous music."

The New Orleans native, who has more than 100 recordings to his name as producer and engineer for elder brothers Branford and Wynton, father Ellis and others, is a seasoned, if under-recorded musician. He toured with Elvin Jones, Max Roach and Ray Charles, evoking a sound compared to trombone titans J.J. Johnson and Jimmy Knepper. "All of my training and what I've done over the years has lead me up to this point," said Marsalis of the relationship between his playing and his role with the Bolden flick, which includes an on-camera appearance. "I consider myself more of a presenter of the music and I use the trombone as part of that presentation. That's why I can work with these actors so well, because I see that all of us have the theatrical, the musical impulse. I think that it's important to have individuals like Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, people who are more interested in the presentation of the music.  "In playing music, most things are about the conceptualization; practicing is important to get your technique to the point where you can express what your concept is. I've always kept the chops up but, more importantly, I've been developing my concept of performance.

"You find a lot of the great big band arrangers were trombone players. The trombonist is always kind of the mild-mannered (person), the organizer, the keeper of the peace. We sit in the middle of the band. I think the trombone, much more so than other instruments, lends itself to diversity." The quintet he's bringing to Toronto will serve up several of the original tunes that comprise last year's Minions Dominion, his first album in a decade.  With a mind to Thelonious Monk's penchant for quirky song names, the title track was derived from an unexpected source. "I was watching MTV Cribs – seeing all these guys with these big houses that all look the same: theatre room, pool, somebody cooking the food, and they have a lot of minions, folks hanging out with them. So Minions Dominion is an MTV crib." Contemporary inspiration aside, the music on the album is steeped in traditional bop. The disc was recorded in 2002 with master drummer Elvin Jones (who died in 2004), altoist Donald Harrison, tenor brother Branford, pianist Mulgrew Miller and bassists Bob Hurst and Eric Revis. "The great recordings are always about chemistry. I wanted musicians who were familiar with the tradition of music and also had an understanding of modern playing, but that would be complementary to myself and, of course, Mr. Jones."

But the music was shelved when Marsalis returned to university to pursue a Masters in music performance. "I've always excelled in educational environments and school is the easiest way to shift gears. I was out there playing with Elvin and I could have just started doing my own gigs, but I decided that it was a good time to work on my orchestration and my arranging and to just to kind of refocus. It was the greatest thing I could have done. I emphasized mostly classical and European tradition. Had I just gone and studied jazz, what I knew, it could've been a cakewalk." Did the sabbatical strengthen his abilities? "For sure. Even working on this movie is a prime example of how all of the experiences in your life fuel whatever the situation is. That's something that Elvin always would talk about: the importance of channelling all of the energy of your experiences and bringing that to the bandstand." Minions Dominion, which was released on Marsalis's own label, Troubadour Jass, lists brother Branford as a producer. "That was a joke, actually: Branford doesn't produce, he kind of comes and takes over.  "He gave me my first opportunity to produce on a major label, so I thought it would be nice to give him the credit, even though he just came in and bossed me around ... in a sense he was a producer."  On Friday, Marsalis's group will open for noted saxist Joshua Redman, who played on his acclaimed 1992 debut disc Pontius Pilate's Decision, along with the three other musical Marsalis brothers (including drummer Jason, then 14). "It's ironic that we're playing before Joshua. It's a little known fact that I was the first one to actually give him a gig. He played with me between 1989-90 after he graduated from Harvard.  "I was also the first one to fire him after we had a slight musical disagreement. Then he went on to win the (prestigious career-making) Monk competition in 1991. The rest is history."

Herbie Hancock, Musical Chameleon

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - J.D. Considine

(June 22, 2007) ‘I always like the idea of being the first, or being among the first, to try this or try that,” says
Herbie Hancock, over the phone from his office in Los Angeles.  “I'm the kind of guy who, when there's a new operating system, I want to get it as soon as it comes out. Right now the iPhone is coming out, from Apple. I want that like on the day it comes out, you know?” He laughs. “I want it the day before.” Nor is this a recent development. “I'm always an early adopter,” he says, “whether it's gadgets or music.” For anyone who has followed the 67-year-old keyboardist's career, it would be hard to imagine otherwise. Hancock, after all, was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace electronic keyboards, using electric piano in 1968 with the Miles Davis Quintet before moving on to clavinet and synthesizers with his own group. His 1983 hit Rockit not only used a computer to co-ordinate his bank of synthesizers, but managed to be the first (and perhaps only) jazz single ever to make regular rotation on MTV. A child prodigy who soloed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when he was 11, Hancock has played with the best of the best, a list that includes such jazz greats as Davis, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner and Quincy Jones, but pop stars as well – Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt among them.

That ability to keep ahead of the curve and fit in with almost any playing situation may have given him an unusually high profile for a jazz musician, but it didn't necessarily win him fans in the jazz community. Critics sniffed that his flirtation with funk was somehow beneath him, and even a few fellow jazz musicians – most famously, Wynton Marsalis, who took on Hancock in a 1985 joint interview with Musician magazine – complained that he was “selling out.” Hancock, of course, was doing no such thing, and the fact that he continues to move easily between straight-ahead jazz and pop-oriented electronic music – for instance, following 2002's Directions in Music, an all-acoustic album recorded at Massey Hall, with Possibilities, an album of pop duets with Paul Simon, Christina Aguilera and John Mayer – reinforces the idea that he's the type of musician who has little interest in enforcing musical boundaries. “There is a tendency for people to find a particular niche that they feel comfortable with,” he says, referring to the way musicians and fans let themselves become identified with a particular style or taste. “And human beings, once they find something comfortable, are not encouraged to go beyond that, because they're identified with that. As a matter of fact, they not only identify themselves with that, but others identify them with that. So everybody feels comfortable if you put everybody in a box.

“But the truth of the matter is, that's just one aspect of, or one expression of, what that person is capable of doing. I think it takes more courage to say, ‘This is cool, but what else is out there?' and being willing to explore.  "And a lot of that depends on your own personality. I've always been a very curious kind of person, so it's natural for me to explore.” Indeed, Hancock has done a bit of everything over the years. He's been responsible for a number of pop hits, both under his own name ( Rockit and 1974's Chameleon) and others (his tune Watermelon Man was a 1963 hit for Mongo Santamaria and a sample from his Bring Down the Birds became the basis for Deee-Lite's 1990 smash Groove is in the Heart). In addition to 10 Grammys, he won an Academy Award for his score to 'Ro und Midnight, and the dancing-robot video for Rockit was named the 10th Greatest Music Video of all time by VH1. He's done so much, in fact, that he seldom bothers to try to take the whole of his career on the road.  His current tour, however, comes pretty close. Working with the pop-savvy rhythm team of bassist Nathan East and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, with saxophonist Chris Potter filling in for regular guitarist Lionel Louecke, Hancock says the show he'll be bringing to the Toronto Jazz Festival on Tuesday will cover a wide swath of his career. “It's acoustic and electric,” he says of the group. “We're doing material that covers a broad spectrum of periods in my career – some things from the early sixties, some of the electric stuff with synthesizers. We're doing everything from, say, Maiden Voyage, which I did in the sixties, to the Headhunters version of Watermelon Man and Chameleon, and some songs from my latest record Possibilities. Nathan East is going to be singing.”

It's no accident that Hancock is working with players whose credits include both jazz and rock.  “Especially for the kind of tour that we're doing – they're really perfect for that,” he says. “I mean, Nathan's worked with Eric Clapton and Michael Jackson. He's also worked with Wayne Shorter – he did the record Joy Ryder. And Vinnie's worked with everybody from Sting to Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa and a variety of people. But he's also a straight-ahead player. A lot of people don't know him as much for his straight-ahead playing, but he's an amazing jazz drummer.” But the tour is hardly the only thing on Hancock's plate. In addition to waiting for the latest Apple product, he's working on an album inspired by Joni Mitchell, whom he inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame last summer. “We don't have a title for the record, but it's sort of a portrait of Joni Mitchell's music and life,” he says. “I mean, her music already describes her life, but we also have a couple of pieces that she didn't write. “One of them is a song, In My Solitude. She heard that when she was really young, sung by Billie Holiday, and it resonated with her. That's one of the early influences on Joni, and that influence is really in her voice. And there's another piece we're doing, Nefertiti, written by Wayne Shorter … we were hoping that maybe Joni would want to participate by writing a lyric and for her to possibly sing it. But it didn't work out, because she's really busy now. She's doing her own album.”

Herbie Hancock plays the Beesborough Gardens in Saskatoon Saturday (www.saskjazz.com) as part of the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, the Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg Sunday as part of the Jazz Winnipeg Festival (ticketmaster.ca) and the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto on Tuesday as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival (ticketmaster.ca).

Family Matters

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

(June 21, 2007) The 21st edition of the
Toronto Jazz Festival is a family affair. Among the 1,500 musicians performing during the 10-day event kicking off tomorrow are a slew of artists who are either related to other musicians playing the festival, or are relatives of famous musicians. Lula Lounge, for example, will host two separate but kindred Duran trios: one tomorrow led by award-winning pianist Hilario Duran; the other next Thursday, fronted by his 25-year-old pianist-singer daughter, Yailen. When it comes to musical families, nature and nurture seem to work in tandem. "From a very young age she used to like to sing a lot and she could reproduce all the music she heard in the street and in the house," recalled Hilario of his only child's early years in their native Cuba. "We encouraged her to take piano lessons (at age 8), because it was the instrument we had at home," added mom Cristobalina. When the family moved to Toronto in the late 1990s, Hilario quickly became an integral part of the local music scene with his stellar brand of Afro-Cuban jazz. Yailen landed backup vocalist spots with pop singer Nelly Furtado and jazz clarinettist Jane Bunnett. She also honed her compositional skills, contributing the song "Habanera in Spain" to her father's recent Juno Award-winning album From the Heart.  "She has a particular way of writing a melody that is catchy, but at the same time very intricate," he said proudly, listing his daughter's professional attributes: "perfect pitch, a very good ear, photographic memory (for music, not other things) and determination."

Though she ranked piano greats Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea among her models, when it comes to dad, Yailen said simply, "Anything I play is influenced by him." But the instruction doesn't flow in one direction at a piano and three keyboards inside their Toronto apartment.  "She's my best critic," said Hilario, 53. "She comes to all my shows, so she hears everything and she'll tell me what's right and what's wrong in a way that others don't, because they don't want to get in trouble, or hurt your feelings."  Hilario, whose parents were both musicians, is thrilled his offspring is following his path. "It can be hard to make a living as a musician, but when you have passion, it doesn't matter," he said. "I never think to do anything else."  Yailen concurs. "All I want to do is perform and have people listening to my music." The only note of disharmony among this Duran trio was sounded when the young singer was asked to describe the original material she will be performing next week. "Contemporary," she stated. "You mean Latin contemporary?" prodded her father. She shook her head. "Some world music, right?" offered her mother. "Contemporary," said Yailen firmly.
Hilario smiled. "I told you she was determined."

Christine Jensen's earliest musical memory is fairly vague.
"It was probably in the womb," said the Montreal-based saxist who makes her Toronto Jazz Festival debut at The Rex on Wednesday. She grew up in Nanaimo, B.C., the youngest child of a music teacher who "was always using music as a tool."  "She would play on her own for the love of playing and to escape the rigours of raising three girls on her own," said Jensen, 37, of her late mother. "She was a big fan of classical and jazz and had a very small but very tasteful record collection." "We always were into music," she continued, "whether it was musical theatre, or playing jazz, or piano lessons. I assumed (other musicians) had the same upbringing. For those that don't there may be a few more obstacles, in terms of parents saying, `Is that the right choice? That's a crazy lifestyle.'  "Still, I think my sister (Ingrid) had a bit of that put in front of her, being the first one to really become a professional, full-time player." Based in New York, Ingrid Jensen, 41, is acclaimed as a first-rate trumpeter. "She took a bigger risk and leap moving to the States. I could've done the same thing and I did spend a bit of time there, but as a composer I'm pretty happy with the choice I've made of staying in Canada."  With a strong soprano voice that draws comparisons to deans such as Wayne Shorter and Steve Lacy, Christine has also benefited from Ingrid's tendency to play and record her compositions. "I'm getting some great international opportunities, because she's been this transporter of my music. Her first record (1995's Vernal Fields), which won a Juno, had three of my pieces on it." She also credits her sister for paving the way as a bandleader and horn player, a rare combination for women in jazz. "It still perplexes me why there are not more of us; I think it's a lack of visual role models. Ingrid was definitely a big instigator of getting me to take control of my life and seeing what's out there."

Freddy Cole can't recall a moment without music.
"It was always present," said the youngest brother of crooner Nat King Cole. "My parents never forced it on us. The piano was there and I guess we just gravitated to it." Though his two elder brothers were musicians, and Duke Ellington and Count Basie were regulars at the family's Chicago home, young Freddy, who'd started piano lessons at age 6, was more interested in sports. "I wanted to play either baseball or football. Fortunately, I got hurt playing football. That was my blessing I call it, instead of my curse." He obtained a masters from the New England Conservatory of Music and began singing in New York clubs, supplementing his income with TV and radio jingle work.  Though Cole, 75, who performs with a quartet tomorrow and Saturday night at Live@Courthouse, never attained the heights of his inimitable brother who died in 1965, he's had a steady career touring and recording alluring interpretations of the Great American Songbook.  "Music has to me such a magical feeling," he said in a phone interview from his Atlanta home. "You can be feeling low, but as soon as you hit the bandstand, or as soon as you start playing some music, you just forget about everything else in the world."

It's a loving feeling that has taken root with some younger Coles, including his Grammy Award-winning niece, singer Natalie Cole. "My son Lionel is a wonderful musician. He ended up with an opera scholarship, of all things, to Northwestern. He's done a lot of movie work. He's a piano player and he lives in California. He was a musical director for a couple years for Mariah Carey....  "My grandchildren like music. I don't say anything. I just lay back. If I find out they want to do it, then I'll help them. But I always have music playing in the house." Must be some kind of jam session when all those musical Coles get together?
"Nope. Nobody touches the piano. We're running our mouths and doing everything else. Because my family is so scattered, we don't get a chance to see each other that much, so music is the last thing we'll be talking about."

All that jazz

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

(June 21, 2007) New York–New Orleans may the birthplace of jazz, but New York has long been its incubator, attracting players from all over the world with top-shelf music programs, Broadway gigs and copious nightclubs.  Among the pivotal stories that abound about the genre's musicians and Big Apple venues are Billie Holiday debuting "Strange Fruit" at Café Society in 1939, Miles Davis being assaulted by police in front of Birdland in 1959 and avante-garde saxist Ornette Coleman heralding a seismic shift in the music with a week-long stint at the Five Spot that same year.  Some clubs overlapped several eras: The Cotton Club (1920-1940), The Half Note (1957-1975), Bradley's (1969-1998). Others have been recently resurrected–Minton's, Smalls–and one has outlived them all: The Village Vanguard.

Pat Taylor has spent a lot of time in New York jazz clubs, evaluating performers and meeting with agents as executive producer of the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival. Also the co-owner of Toronto's newest jazz venue,
Live@Courthouse, he remembers being invited to hear 18-year-old Harry Connick Jr. sing at the Algonquin Hotel in the mid-80s.  "Sarah Vaughn and Tony Bennett were in the audience," he recalls. "Their reaction sold me on him, not him."  That opportunity for discovery is one of the draws in a city rife with up-and-comers, such as drummer Ernesto Cervini who moved from Toronto four years ago to attend the Manhattan School of Music and released his debut CD earlier this year.  It's a hustle to get gigs in clubs where compensation for rookies ranges from a free meal to $200 for the whole band, says the 25-year-old.

"You really have to be diligent to try get a foot in the door because there are 60 other musicians calling (the bookers) every day. If you just leave a message, you're not going to get a call back." But he relishes the opportunity to "be close to everything that's really happening in the jazz scene," and supplements his income teaching piano. There are dozens of clubs featuring jazz, mostly in Manhattan and Harlem. They range from cramped nondescript basements to airy showpieces. "The scene has expanded," says Taylor who attributes New York's ability to sustain so many jazz destinations to the combination of "a great tourism market" and the eight-million-strong population of "a very cultural city where people love to go out."  Most of the clubs have drink minimums from $5 to $25 in addition to the cover charge, turn over the audiences after each set (you have to pay again to stay) and cater to serious jazz lovers with a quiet policy. "On any given day, there are three or four shows that I want to see," said Cervini who frequents the spots with student discounts, visiting high-end locations when he knows someone playing who can "get me in for free." A neophyte is unlikely to make a bad choice since the discerning home audience wouldn't support any joint without good acoustics, reasonable sightlines and stellar players, said Taylor.

"Just select a neighbourhood, or go according to who you want to hear," he advises. "You can't go wrong."

Wild Walk On The Classical Side

Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
Entertainment Columnist

(June 22, 2007) In a career going back more than 40 years, with some 70 recordings and countless gigs with a musical encyclopaedia’s worth of star names – we're talking Stéphane Grappelli, Frank Zappa and even Elton John on Honky Chateau
Jean-Luc Ponty comes to the Toronto Jazz Festival Sunday feeling vulnerable for the first time he can remember.  Blame it on "Desert Crossing."  It's the eighth track on the 64-year-old violinist/composer's recently released album, The Acatama Experience.  An unaccompanied solo on a five-string acoustic fiddle, it reveals a technique that for years has been aided and abetted by studios worth of sophisticated electronics.  And Ponty is concerned about whether his technique will survive close scrutiny.  "I'm often in contact with the stars of the classical world," Ponty says on the phone during a break from a tour that brings him to Saratoga, N.Y., tomorrow night.  "They respect jazz musicians. But what they don't understand is that my life is totally different than theirs. Technique. That's what they think about. All they do is practise, often a day on the same piece. But I have other things. I write music. I have a band." "Desert Crossing" – Ponty visited the Acatama Desert in Northern Chile after a show in Santiago – is indeed Ponty's wild walk on the classical side. It could be called J.S. Bach meets J-L Ponty fusion.

It opens with a flurry of rising arpeggio figures that soar in and around the harmonic outlines rooted in the kind of conventional musical structures Bach himself would have understood. It doesn't stay there for long. It soon morphs into pure fantasy – Jean-Luc Ponty style fantasy, but still without a familiar comfortable cushion of electronics. Yes, his dad taught classical violin. Yes, originally from Avranches, France, he studied the straight stuff at the Conservatoire de Paris in the early '60s, a classical prodigy on the rise, many thought. And yes, in recent years he's increasingly been asked to give lectures, seminars and master classes for classical students well aware of all his many technological breakthroughs when his fiddle was hooked up to the MIDI synthesizer system with its phase shifters and other ear-popping gewgaws.  Yet he finds it increasingly strange to explain his system, or to talk about any system, particularly in front of young students.  "I went into jazz because of its emotional expressiveness. That's when I started playing bebop. I went into jazz because it was where you could explore your own sound." Before Ponty's arrival on the scene, jazz fiddle could be divided into two camps.  There was Grappelli, the French wizard of the fleeting emotion and glistening technical flourish, who's represented a school of playing all to himself.  Then there were Stuff Smith, Joe Venuti and others, who generally favoured an earthier, harder-swinging, bluesier style. (Jazz fiddlers tend to be great characters and tough as nails. When concentrating, Venuti's ferocity made Marlon Brando's Godfather look like your friendly barber trimming the back of your neck.) Ponty saw right through the jazz violin and into its future. Hooking his fiddle up to the array of new electronics emerging in the '70s, he was individually capable of an orchestra's worth of effects. At one point, he reconfigured the fiddle itself, adding a fifth then a sixth string to the instrument. "But there are limits to electronics," he added. "I still love them. They still stimulate my imagination. But now to me, they are just like another colour I can use."

Jean-Luc Ponty performs Sunday at 8 p.m. on the Toronto Star Stage, Nathan Phillips Square.

More Than You Can Eat At A Rich Music Buffet

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - J.D. Considine

(June 22, 2007) Big jazz festivals are hard on the indecisive. Unable to be two places at the same time, and incapable of choosing between equally attractive options, they fret and dawdle, poring endlessly over program blurbs when they could be out actually listening to music. Thankfully, this year's TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival - which officially starts today at noon with a free performance by the Brian Barlow Big Band in Nathan Phillips Square - isn't as rough on ditherers as some festivals. Although the evenings can be pretty packed, with as many as eight concerts running simultaneously, the daytime offerings rarely overlap. And with some of the club acts booked for multi-night engagements, it's easy enough to spread things out. So if, for instance, you're torn between seeing Freddie Cole, younger brother of crooner Nat King Cole (tonight and tomorrow at Live@Courthouse), and former Ray Charles saxophonist David (Fathead) Newman (tonight and tomorrow at the Pilot Tavern), it's easy enough to catch one the first night and the other the next. Moreover, the festival's take on jazz is broad enough that choosing between shows is often as simple as deciding whether you'd like to hear bebop or blues, jam bands or jazz rock, funk or cabaret. (That, unfortunately, is no help to ditherers with broad tastes.) Yet no matter how you weigh the options, there are some nights where you may as well just flip a coin. Take Tuesday, for example. Originally, Oscar Peterson was scheduled to play at the Four Seasons Centre, and it would be hard to imagine the jazz fan who wouldn't leap at another chance to catch this Canadian jazz icon in action. But Peterson, who has been in ill health recently, cancelled, and suddenly the evening posed a more difficult choice. Keyboardist Herbie Hancock and his new electric/acoustic quartet are at the Four Seasons Centre, and drummer Jack DeJohnette's rock-tinged Trio Beyond will be at Nathan Phillips Square, with Japanese fusion dynamo Hiromi Uehara as the opening act. Next Friday is even worse, particularly if you like your jazz straight ahead and swinging. Out in front of City Hall, saxophonist Joshua Redman will hold forth with his new acoustic trio, preceded by Delfeayo Marsalis, the trombone-playing little brother of Branford and Wynton. Meanwhile, at Four Seasons Centre, pianist Keith Jarrett performs with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer DeJohnette. You may want to flip two out of three for this one. In the interest of keeping such coin-tossing to a minimum, here's a short list of don't-miss shows. The names may not all be familiar, but the music is first rate.

Coco Zhao (tomorrow at 1 p.m., Nathan Phillips Square). One of the few male singers who can be credibly compared to Billie Holiday, this Hunan native is such a master of torch singing that you'll understand the heartache whether or not you understand Chinese.

Nikki Yanofsky (June 24 at 1 p.m., Nathan Phillips Square). Opening for the Club Django Sextet, this Montreal teenager has taste beyond her years and vocal chops to spare. Catch her now, and boast about it later.

UMO Jazz Orchestra (June 25 at 11:45 a.m., Nathan Phillips Square). Based in Finland and frequently compared to the legendary Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band, this may be the best big band in Europe.

Don Byron plays Junior Walker (June 25 at 9 p.m., Live@Courthouse). Saxophonist and clarinettist Byron, famous for flirting with klezmer and classical, pays tribute to Motown's greatest tenor man - even if he doesn't match Walker's high harmonics.

Dick Hyman and David Appleyard (June 26 at 9 p.m., Live@Courthouse). If flawless technique and unimpeachable taste are what you crave, it's hard to top pianist Hyman and vibraphonist Appleyard. Gourmet mainstream fare.

Aki Takase: The Fats Waller Project (June 27 at noon, Nathan Phillips Square). Japanese-born and Berlin-based pianist Takase is a stalwart of the avant-garde, but for this tour, she and her band - which includes guitar iconoclast Eugene Chadbourne - explore the unexpected connections between stride and free jazz.

Dhafer Youssef (June 27 at 9 p.m., Live@Courthouse). If your notion of Middle Eastern jazz goes no farther than Dizzy Gillespie's A Night in Tunisia, this Tunisian-born singer and oud player will open your eyes and ears.

United Trombone Summit (June 28 at 8 p.m., Nathan Phillips Square). As players, bebop vet Slide Hampton, modernists Wycliffe Gordon and Steve Turre, and James Brown alumnus Fred Wesley have little in common beyond their choice of instrument - which is precisely why this trombone showcase is so appealing.

Brubeck Braid (June 29 at 9:00 p.m., Live@Courthouse). A piano/cello duet may sound like a classical recital, but this collaboration between Matt Brubeck (son of Dave) and Toronto pianist David Braid is classic only in the sense that it should be phenomenal.

The Derek Trucks Band (June 30 at 8:00 p.m., Nathan Phillips Square). It's one thing for a guy who has played in the Allman Brothers Band to say he's influenced by John Coltrane and qawwali legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, but quite another for him to deliver the goods as convincingly as Trucks does.

Back Again Without Missing A Beat

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Pop & Jazz Critic

(June 23, 2007 When
Manteca decided to reunite, they knew the same old thing wouldn't suffice, even though it had afforded them an 18-year, 100,000-album selling run. "When we started in 1979, world beat was not a common phrase, let alone a section in a record store," explained founding member Matt Zimbel of the salsa, samba and funk undercurrent that defined the group's heyday. So when the nontet returned to the studio this spring – with two replacement members – to record its ninth album, Onward!, new instrumentation and compositional direction were in order. But when they landed the opening night headlining slot for the 21st edition of the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival, they knew they could rely on the tried and true when it came to performance.  That meant humour, precision and high energy on the Toronto Star Stage at Nathan Phillips Square last night. It wasn't surprising. Even though the group's last gig was in St. Catharines in 1998, the seven original members and newcomers all play regularly in other formations. Saxists Kelly Jefferson and Colleen Allen (subbing for John Johnson who along with keyboardist Aaron Davis is touring with Holly Cole) opened the set trading moody compelling notes, then were joined by the remaining musicians in a blaze of red and blue lights.

While the first few songs, including "Go Train" and "P2" were very much in the vein of the Latin-rooted group that took its name from a 1947 Afro-Cuban gem by Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Ponzo, the rest of the 90-minute set gave way to intriguing melody-driven textures including Keltic and Eastern, courtesy of a mélange of instruments such as baritone sax, alto flute, bass clarinet, penny whistle and trombone.  The Toronto group, which disbanded because of high touring costs, plans to hit the road nationally this fall and proceed on a project-by-project basis. It doesn't bode well, despite the intriguing, deserving material, that they didn't sell out the 1200-seat mainstage tent despite their long absence. Wonder if that was due to the concert's downside: bandleader Zimbel's constant allusions to the past and assumption that everyone was familiar with the Manteca saga. Tales about aging, losing hair, gaining weight and the inability of members to download their own ring tunes would be a turnoff to younger or new audiences. While last night's club shows, featuring David Fathead Newman and Freddy Cole, reported capacity crowds, the outdoor mainstage is off to a slow start. The noon-hour kickoff by Brian Barlow Big Band brought out too sparse a crowd for such a stellar free show comprised of traditional horn-driven band and tasty guest vocalist Melissa Stylianou. To date, the festival's only sold-out show is Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood on Wednesday. As Mayor David Miller said at the launch, the 10-day event delivers the “best in modern jazz Toronto can offer." With at least four free shows daily and reasonably priced ticketed events, let's hope our citizenry is not taking it for granted.

80-Year-Old Musician Dick Hyman Brings Back The Golden Age Of Jazz Piano

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Entertainment Columnist

(June 24, 2007) When
Dick Hyman appears at the Courthouse Tuesday, lots of solid evidence of jazz piano's greatest days will have its day in court in the hands of the 80-year-old, patrician-looking American pianist/composer.  He'll be with Peter Appleyard, one of his more familiar musical companions over the years. Toronto's veteran vibe master is among hundreds of other jazz stars Hyman has recorded with in a 50-year-long career that includes a prodigious output of well over 100 albums. But Hyman also brings with him the awareness that he could be the last of a breed of old-fashioned, two-handed, hard swinging, do-it-in-any-style jazz pianist. "I wouldn't say the age of the piano in popular music is over," he said in a phone interview recently. "But it is very much diminished." This jazz "renaissance man," as musician/critic Dick Katz in the Oxford History of Jazz describes Hyman, "respected as one of the most accomplished jazz pianists extant," comes by his assessment of jazz piano's status honestly.

A classical piano graduate from Columbia University, Hyman studied with the great Teddy Wilson in the '30s after winning a radio contest – second prize meant lessons from Mary Lou Williams – and played with such bebop greats in the '40s and '50s as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.  "I'm pretty old now so I saw the transformation from 78 rpm (recordings) to 45 rpm," Hyman continued. "I even go back to the beginning of television. I literally played (in the '50s) on the first colour TV broadcasts for NBC, where I was on staff. If I have any expertise (in the wide variety of jazz piano styles) it's because I heard these kinds of music since I was a little boy." To flush out an already busy career as a New York studio musician, he's been a music director for TV (nabbing an Emmy for his score for the drama Sunshine's on the Way), Woody Allen's in-house composer/arranger (Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days) and a composer of light classical scores. Earlier this year the Eugene Ballet Company in Oregon premiered Hyman's ragtime-inflected score Adventures of Tom Sawyer, choreographed by Toni Pimble. So Hyman has been in the thick of things when the things have been going good – the place where the jazz pianist was always expected to be. "The pianist was the centre of the orchestra," Hyman pointed out. "He was there to fill in any missing instruments. The pianist would accompany the band's singer. "Remember, a piano was in every home. Families used to flock around the piano before they gathered around the radio. There was a piano for silent movies. The piano was a part of every radio broadcast. There wasn't a saloon out west that didn't have its own risky think piano."

In its way, Hyman's career spans most of the signal turning points in jazz piano history. And this history arguably reached its peak in the late '40s when the greatest individualist in all of jazz pianism, Thelonious Monk – a mentor to another jazz pianist legend, Bud Powell – began a series of Blue Note recordings where his prickly style hearkened back to the blues and Duke Ellington. Monk also recalled Art Tatum, jazz's piano's greatest virtuoso, whose spectacular flourishes ignited Oscar Peterson's imagination. Hyman's own work frequently riffs on all of the above musicians, sometimes in the same piece. "Although the only pianist I do not care to listen to is Monk because his technique is so brutal," Hyman said, firmly. "I play his songs but his playing is bad piano playing. "My real home is what people would call swing — that's going back to Tatum and Teddy Wilson — and then into bop. But I don't find it that much of an effort to go a generation before them and to stride.  "Then there's the blues. I play a piece by Little Brother Montgomery that I find very moving. He had a limited horizon but he did some very odd and interesting things within the horizon." Hyman's mention of Monk reminds us of the outsized personalities that came with most of the great jazz pianists, going back to Jelly Roll Morton, who, at the turn of the last century, claimed to have invented jazz itself.

Monk was in a league all his own, though. Partway through one of the pianist's gigs at the since disappeared Colonial Tavern on Yonge St., this reporter watched as Monk disappeared from the stage at the end of one tune. He was later found in a closet. Dick Hyman's self-effacing nature is rather atypical for his chosen profession. Hyman's interest in electronic keyboards – he recorded a number of albums using Moog Synthesizer – also reflects the seismic shift in jazz keyboard that came in the late '60s when Miles Davis, promising to come up with the world's greatest rock band, convinced Herbie Hancock to use electric piano for Davis's Filles de Kilimanjaro album of 1968. But Hyman insists the heyday of jazz piano presented its practitioners with challenges electronic whiz kids never have had to meet. "In those days, the pianos were often out of tune, or poorly made or malfunctioning in one way or another," Hyman said. "To get through the limitations of the bad piano you just needed enough skill and self-belief. That's how Art Tatum did it, they say." Dick Hyman, too.

For many years Peter Goddard was The Star's jazz critic. He wrote Grand Piano, a CBC-TV special for Oscar Peterson.

For Don Byron, It's Not Just Jazz

Excerpt from
www.eurweb.com - Pop & Jazz Critic

(June 25, 2007) Every year, one act – RH Factor, Marcus Miller, Maceo Parker – can be counted on to deliver some grimy James Brown vintage funk at the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival.  This time,
Don Byron has it covered.  Yeah, avante garde, klezmer-playing, Stravinsky-loving clarinettist Don Byron. And he'll be playing tenor sax on the tunes from his latest disc inspired by a Motown soul legend: Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker. "I was a professional saxophone player as well as a clarinet player as a lot of woodwind players are," explained the performer by phone from his upstate New York home. "I just decided to focus on the clarinet because there aren't so many African Americans who've had success as a clarinet player."  There are "a lot of concrete reasons" blacks haven't excelled on the instrument, said Byron, but lack of interest isn't one them. "That would be a nice reason. It's more prejudicial: about who plays what instrument (and) the idea that the clarinet is too hard for black players to play.

"Those attitudes really filter through the pedagogy of the instrument, as well as in hiring and perception in the classical world, which is mostly where the instrument gets played."  Byron, 48, began playing tenor sax a decade ago to inform his study of reedmen such as John Coltrane and Joe Henderson but only recently introduced it in performance. "Once I made (2004's) Ivey-Divey and the saxophone started to be more of an expressive tool for me, the next few tenor saxophone players that were a very important part of the tradition that I wanted to express were Lester Young and Eddie Harris because those were jazz musicians who were really soul musicians. "And Junior Walker was himself a very serious soul singer and then could play everything that he sang." Hence, Do the Boomerang, a soul-funk outing that Byron said should be considered a complement to his jazz works.  "There are a lot more musicians than me who kind of feel like the kind of post-Marsalis, young lions vision – that you (should) only play jazz – is not really adequate.  "It completely takes you out of touch with any kind of black audience, which I think is the worst thing about it. And it doesn't include the kind of blues-gospel thing that we all grew up with.  "When people say that you're a jazz musician, you're not supposed to show any sign that you've experienced that, when we all grew up with Motown.  "As an African-American musician, the Motown stuff, just business-wise, is one of the most important things that's ever happened, but culturally it was a thing of incredible quality, both compositionally and vocal performances. "There's no jazz singer that inspires me as much as Marvin Gaye. I think people really underestimate the musicianship in soul music, that these people aren't just negroes acting naturally, but they are musicians and this is a way of musicianship that includes a lot of the jazz skills." He names gospel vocalists Fred Hammond, Kim Burrell and Donnie McClurkin as technically astute singers who excite him today. "That's where black musicianship really is. And to have a generation of black musicians somehow being steered away from taking soul music seriously and exploring it simultaneously is taking them away from the kind of music that black people actually like." The concerts showcasing Do the Boomerang have expanded his audience, Byron said. "The first time I ever got in Ebony (magazine) for any of my records was this record. And I do see more black people coming to the shows and it's great. Even if they aren't black people, whoever's there is dancing.  "And we look around the room and it's so different than a whole bunch of snotty, middle-aged guys wondering whether we're playing the real stuff or not.  "It's just nicer. It's more natural. And maybe it's the way things should be."


Iqaluit Abuzz Over White Stripes

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

(June 27, 2007) IQALUIT, NUNAVUT–If there are no roads leading to your hometown, you're generally not going to see its name popping up on many concert-tour itineraries. There is, thus, a healthy buzz around this town about the arrival today of American rock 'n' rollers the
White Stripes in Nunavut's capital city, a windswept community of 7,200 located on the southeastern flank of Baffin Island.  The scant 600 tickets that went up for sale at $45 apiece last month for the Detroit-born duo's concert at Iqaluit's Arctic Winter Games Arena tonight were snapped up within hours, and even a visitor with zero knowledge of the Inuktitut language can't help noticing how often the words "White Stripes" creep into overheard conversations at neighbouring tables in local bars and restaurants.  True, some residents speak privately about concerns among some quarters of Iqaluit's Inuit population that this is another incident where white people drop in for a quick, exploitative photo op and then take off for good.

But generally, the folks in this friendly burg appreciate the effort the White Stripes are putting into playing above the treeline. And they're definitely putting in effort. "I think we took for granted everything we do at home," said Daniel Glick, the young Montreal concert promoter overseeing tonight's Iqaluit gig on behalf of Gillette Entertainment Group.  "We didn't realize the intricacies involved." Those intricacies included flying an entire road crew in from Vancouver over the weekend to begin assembling a stage and erecting a PA system in the venue, a former hockey rink that has fallen into disuse since the southern end of its floor sank a metre or so into the ground a few years ago.  More than 3,000 kilograms of sound and lighting gear separate from the White Stripes' usual touring arsenal also had to be flown into Iqaluit from Vancouver for tonight's show. The Stripes have chartered a plane to flit between their recent dates in Burnaby, Whitehorse and Yellowknife to Iqaluit and then back to Calgary later this week.

The Detroit-based alt-rock duo – Meg and Jack White – are hot, with their new album Icky Thump hitting No. 1 on iTunes this week. They embarked on an 18-concert cross-Canada tour last weekend in British Columbia that will take them to every province and territory. Jack White admits it doesn't make sense and won't make much money, but says it's a dream trip rooted in childhood fantasies about the Great White North.  They will play in large and small communities across the country before wrapping up with a 10th anniversary concert in Glace Bay, N.S., July 14, where he has family roots, with distant relative Ashley MacIsaac as guest fiddler, and a show in St. John's July 16. Their Toronto stop is July 5 at Molson Amphitheatre.  Before they could even land on the ground in Iqaluit, myriad local laws and liability demands had to be negotiated to make sure the concert could go ahead. For several weeks, it's been the job of Iqaluit's economic development officer, Mike Bozzer, to help facilitate the band's arrival in this unlikely spot.  Gillette Entertainment contacted him a couple of months ago, he says, with the news that a "major" touring act wanted to play here. A name was not forthcoming, but he diligently scoped out a venue and assured the promoter that Iqaluit – which has doubled in size since 1991, having grown in leaps and bounds since it was officially declared Nunavut's capital in 1999 – could handle such an event. "It kind of got me a bit giddy when they said it was the White Stripes," Bozzer conceded yesterday, while the sounds of frantic sawing and hammering filled the arena.

"This does a lot of good that you can't really count by dollars. It's a lot of free publicity, for one thing. But if we put on a good show and the artists enjoy themselves, maybe this could be a thing that happens every year with different bands. It puts us on the map. "People might think this is the cold Arctic, but it has all the amenities of any other city." Media exposure for Iqaluit and Nunavut in southern Canada is one thing, observed Nunavut Tourism's Jillian Dickens, but the Stripes' arrival on the fringes of the Arctic Circle means a lot to a region that doesn't enjoy nearly as many benefits as the rest of the country. "I think that one of the most important things about the White Stripes coming here, or a big show coming to a community like this, is it brings the community together a little bit more," she said.  "What's important about this is not bringing people here to see the White Stripes or something like this, it's about giving the North something. But the spinoff of that, of course, is great exposure for the territory and for the city in big publications in the south.  "The easiest and most cost-effective and just effective way of marketing is word-of-mouth. The only way to do word-of-mouth is to give people words to come out of their mouths. And the only way to do that is to bring them up here." Iqaluit is already a quiet stop-off point for more celebrities than one might imagine, having played host in recent weeks to globetrotting billionaire Richard Branson and singer Jewel, who were in town to learn about environmental issues.  Jake Gyllenhaal and Salma Hayek were in town last year for similar reasons, while Bozzer jokes that even Madonna has passed through Iqaluit's airstrip – one of the longest in Canada – because it's such a common stopover for intercontinental air travel.  If the White Stripes show can be pulled off without a hitch, there are quiet hopes in the community that it might attract a few more.  Such out-of-the-way locales as St. John's and Dawson City, for instance, have started attracting a trickle of touring bands in recent years, based mainly on the fact the acts that have bothered to play there had such good experiences. "If we only had more hotel rooms in town, it could be the new Las Vegas north," quips deputy mayor Allen Hayward.

Fewer Listening To Radio: StatsCan

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Canadian Press

(June 26, 2007) OTTAWA – A new study has found that Canadians – especially teens and young adults – devoted less time than ever listening to their radios for entertainment in 2006.
Statistics Canada reports that many teenagers ages 12 to 17 and young adults ages 18 to 24 appear to be switching to digital music players and online music services. On average, Canadians tuned in to their radios for 18.6 hours during "measurement week" in the fall of 2006, down from 19.1 hours a week in 2005 and about two hours less than in the fall of 1999, when radio listening peaked. Teenagers listened to their radios barely 7.6 hours a week, the lowest of all age groups, down from 8.6 hours in 2005 and 11.3 in 1996. Among young adult men, listening fell to 13.7 hours from 15.1. Among their female counterparts, it slipped to 14.6 hours from 15.4. Senior women continued to be the most ardent radio listeners, tuning in for 22.7 hours per week – virtually unchanged from 2005 – while listening by senior men edged down to 19.5 hours a week from 20.3. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. was the most popular listening format for both senior men and senior women. It was least popular among young adults.

Radio listening increased in only three provinces in 2006: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Residents of Nova Scotia were the most avid listeners, tuning in for 20.4 hours a week. This was 3.5 hours more each week than their counterparts in British Columbia, where listening was at a countrywide low of 16.9 hours. The largest declines occurred in Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Listening among francophone Quebecers slipped by a full hour a week. However, their anglophone counterparts tuned in to English-language radio for 20.8 hours a week, the highest level among the provinces. Listeners in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were a close second and third to anglophone Quebecers. Adult contemporary music captures over a fifth – 22.3 per cent – of Canada's listening time, making it No. 1 among Canadians. It was the first choice of listeners in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Gold-oldies-rock came in second at 13.9 per cent.

The CBC rebounded to third place in overall format ranking in 2006, with an 11.6 per cent share of the total listening audience. The CBC's share had dropped to under nine per cent of listenership during the previous year, when a lockout by management coincided with the survey period. In fourth and fifth places were talk radio and country, each capturing about a tenth of total audience share. The choice of station format varied considerably from province to province. Country music was the first choice for listeners in Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Alberta and Manitoba. The CBC remained a popular choice in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, capturing 17 per cent or so of the audience for second place in both provinces. However, the public broadcaster was least popular in Alberta, where only 8.4 per cent of the total audience turned it on. Country music and gold-oldies-rock were by far the leading formats in Alberta. Talk radio was a tremendously popular format in Newfoundland and Labrador, capturing a share of almost 30 per cent of the province's radio audience. This contrasts sharply with the rest of the Atlantic provinces, where talk radio's listening share was virtually non-existent.

Eve is back with Hot New Jam

Source: Amina Elshahawi, ThinkTank Marketing, E: amina@thinktankmktg.com, http://www.thinktankmktg.com

(June 21, 2007) "I can't wait to get back on tour,"
Eve says. "I miss performing. I need it. It's an indescribable hunger that I have."  Ever since Eve broke on the scene in 1999 she's had a knack for making stardom look easy. Grammy Award winner. Check. Starring in blockbuster films. Check. Achieving elite status as a fashion icon. Check.  The "blonde bombshell" is a triple threat entertainer in the truest sense of the term. And one of the reasons you can't take your eyes off of her is your ears.  In an era when success in hip-hop is built on the portentous hype of saving the genre from imminent gloom and doom or testosterone driven beef, Eve remains a bankable star who grabs your attention with her consummate talent for crafting infectious hits. She's proof positive that hip-hop doesn't need to be saved or resurrected; it just needs a woman's touch every now and then.  Hence, following a successful four-year takeover of the Hollywood and fashion scene, Eve is set to drop Here I Am, a more mature and adventurous album, one she calls her best effort to date.

"This is the album I've always wanted to make," she says. "In the past my albums have had a heavy male influence. Not this time. This one represents the woman I am today." And there's no doubt that the woman who brought us hits like "What Ya Want," and "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," is supremely confident that a mass variety of music lovers not just the hip-hop faithful will appreciate were she's coming from this time around. "I didn't just cater to a rap audience with this album," she says. "I can go to the Pop Top 40 with this because it's far more universal than anything I've done. You're going to pay attention to me because it's different." See Eve's video for "Tamborine" HERE. And don't forget to check out funny and creative videos from the "Shake Your Tambourine" contest on YouTube HERE.
Having people take notice of her talents has never been a problem for Eve Jihan Jeffers. During the late 90's and early millennium the Philadelphia-bred MC was a key component in the seminal rap squad the Ruff Ryders.  As the only female in the crew that consisted of rappers DMX, The Lox and Drag-on, Eve stood out as the sexy, no-nonsense street savvy, ride-or-die chick that could hold her own amongst the boys. Anchored by chart-topping singles like the vivacious "Gotta Man" and the anti-domestic abuse classic "Love Is Blind" Eve's 1999 debut album Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryder's First Lady was a double platinum success. Her 2001 sophomore release Scorpion went platinum, while garnering her crossover appeal with the Grammy Award winning mega-hit "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," featuring Gwen Stefani.

It didn't take long for Hollywood to come calling on Eve for her unique and commercially viable persona. The self-professed "pitbull in a skirt" was maturing into a glamorous avant-garde fashion goddess. In 2002 she made her silver screen debut in Vin Diesel's action blockbuster XXX, but it was her role later that year as the feisty female barber Terri, in Ice Cube's Barbershop that would win her the most attention for future employment.  UPN network quickly tapped Eve to produce and star in a self-titled sitcom about a fashion designer. With her newfound celebrity in Tinsel town it seemed appropriate that Eve would release her aptly titled third album Eve-Olution in the summer of 2002. Focused more on her growth as a person through love and relationships the album's memorable features include the alluring collaboration with Alicia Keys "Gangsta Love" and the Grammy nominated, Dr. Dre produced single "Satisfaction".  After the release of Eve-Olution Eve turned her focus to her thespian responsibilities and her clothing line Fetish. "Acting and getting into fashion were some things I enjoyed doing and I wanted to really pursue." In 2004 she went on to take roles in three different films, Barbershop 2: Back In Business, The Woodsman, and The Cookout. "Acting is a whole different mindset from rapping," she says. "I feel fortunate to have gotten advice from people like [Queen] Latifah and [Ice] Cube. Especially Latifah, she's like a big sister to me. I aspire to emulate her career." On her way to attaining that royal status Here I Am is another milestone to be added to the impressive body of work Eve has amassed over the course of her illustrious career. A top flight MC in any arena male or female Eve's unmistakable, aggressive style is ideal on the instantly appealing rap-rock hybrid "Aint Nothin Changed". Not an official single the mixtape smash, was the most sought after record on Eve's myspace page. Over a chopped & screwed sample of the White Stripes' classic "Seven Nation Army" the blond bombshell fittingly raps: "Had to get back in the game/to deal with some unfinished business/What you thought I gave it up?/Like I was done and over.

Far from finished Here I Am truly speaks to the growth of an artist that has transcended the ride or die chick niche hip-hop carved out for her. One listen to the hyper-chants and hard-charging bounce of the Swizz Beatz produced lead single "TK" and you'll see why all eyes will be on Eve this summer. "I wanted this coming out party to be an event," she says. "This record symbolizes that." I didn't want to do what people expected me to do." Surely no one will expect to hear Eve singing as she effectively does on the 80's pop-influenced "Tk" produced by Pharrell. Or anticipate her reggae-tinged aura on the breezy second single "Give It To You" featuring Sean Paul. Along with collaborations with T.I., Robin Thicke and Timbaland Here I Am is chock full of pleasant surprises.  As you can see Eve's time away from hip-hop was not spent idle. Now considered a genuine star in the worlds of music, fashion and film, she's currently preparing to launch "a more womanly" line of Fetish and starting her own film production company. More importantly, she looks forward to getting knee deep in the rigors of the rap game.  "I can't wait to get back on tour," she says. "I miss performing. I need it. It's an indescribable hunger that I have." Clearly, after 8 years in the business Eve hasn't lost her zest for the music, which is all the reason why this album will absolutely spice things up-for the better. Just as the old saying goes, hip-hop is a man's world, but it wouldn't be anything without a woman in it.

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/eve
Eve Official Site:

Ryan Adams Gets A Second Chance

Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
Entertainment Columnist

(June 22, 2007) Most musicians would sell their souls for the kind of praise heaped on North Carolina songwriter and guitarist
Ryan Adams over the years. He has been a critic's favourite since his debut alt.country album, Heartbreaker, in 2000, when Elton John joined the chorus and unequivocally deemed Adams, then 25, a boy genius.  Comparisons have been drawn to Gram Parsons, Elvis Costello, even Dylan. And the record company bio notes that accompany the release this week of Adams' ninth studio album, Easy Tiger, breathlessly suggest he's the best North American songwriter since Neil Young.  Had those notes been written by a lesser scribe than horror novelist Stephen King they might be dismissed as so much paid hyperbole, a cynical attempt to divert attention from Adams' well-reported bouts with drugs and alcohol, his serial onstage flame-outs and the appearance on the Internet under his name of an overload of, shall we say, poorly developed music. Adams, who plays a sold-out show tonight at Harbourfront's Enwave Theatre, is unapologetic when it's suggested his controversial sideline experiments were at best a threat to his legitimate career, at worst chemically fuelled.  "Styles in art change constantly because the weather changes, because time moves on, because the muse changes," said Adams, in Toronto to launch the new recording. "We live in a world of profound and subtle changes, and my quest is to keep up with it. While I'm working toward a new piece of music, I'm making useful sketches, and they have value as well.

"I've never understood in what context art is measured ... in weight, in size, in numbers? It's about ideas. The desire to create requires an understanding of the tools I need, whether it's painting, or working on the structure of a guitar part or drums. I'm always sketching with different tools. That's what songs are to me." In a lengthy profile last week in The New York Times, Adams came across as a worthy artist in crisis, at odds with his long-suffering record company, and in danger of succumbing to the perils of self-deception just a year into sobriety. "I don't read what people write about me," the musician said. "It's detrimental to my job, which is to be true to the members of my band and to the songs. I know what I'm doing and why. The work speaks for itself." But because he lives in New York and the Times is his local paper, he couldn't really avoid reading the story, he explained. "It's lazy journalism. So much of what we talked about never made it into print. That is not the way it is. I am not an artist in crisis. There is no crisis." Sobriety has changed him, he confessed. "I may have lost some vulnerability, some fragility, but I feel stronger now, and I'm in less physical pain. I no longer need to be strong for those around me.  "I see what's bad in the world, but I also see the things that are full of meaning and purpose.”I became an addict by necessity. Addiction protected me against threats to my artistic nature. I carried around a lot of fear, mostly of losing my ability to create. At some point it worked, it kept away the negative voices and influences ... but then I started not to understand myself. "In order to survive, I had to face the truth about what was happening to me, and to take pains to explain it in the songs."

Buju Banton’s Nephew Sean Kingston, Cracks The Billboard Charts

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson

(June 21, 2007) *
Sean Kingston is making strides on the Billboard charts with his debut single, Beautiful Girls. The song has jumped from number 57 to number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100. Kingston, a 17-year-old who migrated from Jamaica to Miami brings his very unique triple threat of talent of rapping, reggae chanting and soulful harmonisation to the musical game. He is the first artiste signed to producer JR Rotem's Beluga Heights label. Rotem has produced hits for the likes of 50 Cent, the Game, Rihanna and Snoop Dogg. "As an artiste, my whole goal is to make powerful and classic music," Sean revealed. "I want everyone to feel me and understand where I'm from and that's what this album will do. The music is all about an authentic Sean Kingston vibe. JR is a talented dude and a dope producer and he saw that I had something different than any other artist out there. Together we're a powerful force."  In addition to JR, The Runners, Cool and Dre, DJ Felli Fell, and DJ Khaled will be supplying beats to his forthcoming project. In just a short time, Kingston has already done what few in his age bracket can accomplish, which is to garner some street credibility. He has two potential hits on his hands with Colors 2007 and the Jamaican remix. The reggae remix of Colors is a Caribbean hailstorm featuring Vybz Kartel and Kardinal Offishall.

"The song is about representing every flag that you're loyal to whether it is Jamaica, the States, your block, etc. It's a lifestyle record that can be a street anthem no matter where you are. I couldn't ask for anybody better than The Game and Ross to join me on the track. The reggae version came up because I knew I had to do one special for Jamaica. The first person I thought of was Vybz Cartel. His verse came out crazy. Then Kardinal Offiishall, that's my homie, he really attacked the track," Kingston explained.  Sean says he was inspired to write the record after he saw his family incarcerated when he was just 14 years old. "I always had my sister and my brother. My brother was doing his own thing, he was there but he was running around doing his own thing. When my mother and sister went away, it took a lot out of me. My sister went away for four months and my mom been away for over a year. When she went way, I was like 'nah man, this is too much'. I was only 14. I missed her like crazy but I pulled through and used it as my motivation.  Prosecutor is a defining song on the album for me; nothing fake about it because it touches on something very personal to me. The dope melody that's on there makes me feel even closer to it." Music had always been in Kingston's blood. His uncle is Buju Banton and producer Jack Ruby is his grandfather. "In the future I want to have my own label and work on the business side," he said. "I went to acting school when I was younger, so I want to get into that. I want to get into every aspect of the business. It took me a little while to develop and build my sound, to find out who the real Sean Kingston was. I didn't know if I wanted to harmonise, or to rap. But I found out that I can do it all," he added.

What's The Story Behind Clarkson Battle?

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

(June 26, 2007) It shortchanges the music industry's positive accomplishments, perhaps, to repeatedly point out those moments when the suits blatantly flaunt their most evil, anti-artistic tendencies. But when an American Idol winner goes to war with her record label over the right to creative freedom, one gets the distinct sense that things really aren't quite right up top. We can read
Kelly Clarkson's recent, public battle with RCA Records over the contents of her third album, My December, from a couple of angles.  One posits the Texas-born howler as the latest in a long line of well-intentioned artists who've butted heads with a business that has its ears and eyes attuned to the bottom line and nothing else. The other, more cynical viewpoint dismisses the whole Clarkson "controversy" as a bit of manufactured hype designed to give My December a pre-release edge.  The truth is probably shaded somewhere in the middle, as venerable label boss Clive Davis was reportedly panicked enough about My December's market potential to have offered Clarkson $10 million to re-record half of the record at the 11th hour earlier this year. Since she refused, defiantly steering the disc in a mildly more rockin' direction than standard, treacly Idol fare, Davis probably has his PR staff working double time to salvage what he must perceive as a desperate situation by any means necessary. He might be the man who signed Bruce Springsteen and Carlos Santana, but he also brought us Milli Vanilli. For the latter reason, and because My December's arrival in record stores today was heralded by both the cancellation of Clarkson's summer tour and a sudden split from her high-powered management company, the Firm, I'm inclined to side with Kelly in this fight.

This is a young woman who's already sold 15 million records around the world and who, since her beguiling mutation into a sort of wholesome, kiddie-pop Pat Benatar on 2004's Breakaway, now enjoys an unexpected measure of support from hipster critics and tastemakers. As Billboard's Keith Caulfield pointed out to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "I think everyone really wants Kelly Clarkson to succeed. There's just so much good will."  Clarkson didn't play ball with the machine, though, and now we're witnessing the fallout. The industry old-boys' network appears ready to abandon a hit album before it has a chance to hit. To make a point. It's baffling. The mainstream recording business made a near-fatal error in missing the boat on digital downloading, and looks increasingly clueless each time an independently nurtured breakout ousts Toby Keith from the top of the charts. Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds demonstrated last year that one can make an obvious pop hit by a former boy-band moppet even bigger by stepping ever so slightly to the left side of "obvious," so a marginally daring new Clarkson album could have been a golden opportunity to lend redemption to a career hatched by the hated Idol model. Instead, the industry old guard has seeded the media with phrases like "career meltdown" and spurious public shock at Clarkson's lack of gratitude towards the system that first gave her a leg up. And if it turns out that Davis and Co. are exaggerating their freakout over My December for publicity purposes, the fact that they might resort to exploiting their own institutionalized uncool to make their latest commodity seem a little bit cooler is downright pathetic.


True Colors Flies Rainbow Flag

Excerpt from www. thestar. com - Cassandra Szklarski, Canadian Press

(June 21, 2007) Giant balloons, feather boas and plenty of glitter marked Cyndi Lauper's exuberant
True Colors tour as the gay-rights roadshow made its only Canadian stop Tuesday night. The five-hour concert was capped off by Lauper's '80s hit and gay anthem "True Colors," with fans singing along and swaying from side to side in time with the tour's namesake.  Earlier, supporting acts Erasure, Debbie Harry, The Dresden Dolls, The Gossip and Toronto's The Cliks joined Lauper onstage for a group sing-along of Abba's "Take A Chance on Me" as giant balloons floated from the stage into the audience. Lauper told her Canadian fans she wished that U. S. lawmakers would learn something from their northern neighbours. "You can get married legally, you have insurance for your spouses," Lauper said to cheers from the audience. "I wish that Americans could be more like Canadians. "
Sporting short lavender-coloured hair, the sprightly Lauper sprinted from end to end of the stage throughout her hour-long set, delivering her best-known '80s hits for an enthusiastic crowd. "Time After Time," "Money Changes Everything" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" were among the favourites that kept the audience on their feet. Erasure satisfied their longtime fans with hits like "Respect," "Oh L'amour" and "Chains of Love."Singer Andy Bell and keyboardist Vince Clarke appeared in matching grey camouflage army uniforms, with Clarke in a white wig. After stripping off his jacket early in the set to reveal a T-shirt reading: "Sin With Me," Bell earned hoots from the audience. Harry glittered in silver and crystal accessories, sticking to more recent solo material for her set. Raunchy comedian Margaret Cho – wearing pigtails, a minidress and fishnet stockings – took the stage between acts with sexually explicit jokes that took no prisoners. She skewered the U. S. government, the Pope and the Christian Right as she hammered home the theme of the evening, equal rights. One of the wilder moments involved Cho donning a wig, assuming a Chinese accent and the lesbian persona "Maureen" for a rap duet that bragged about the magnificence of her nether regions. Toronto band The Cliks, featuring transgendered front man Lucas Silveira, kicked off the show with a short but tight set early in the evening. Money raised by the tour goes to Pride Toronto in Canada and the Human Rights Campaign and Matthew Shepard Foundation in the U. S.

Sony Promises New Lauryn Hill Album

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 25, 2007) *While no release date has been announced, reps for reclusive singer
Lauryn Hill say she is finally serious about completing a sophomore album that will feature all new material and possibly several collaborations, reports MTV News.   Although the former Fugees standout has been recording songs throughout her near 10-year hiatus since the release of her debut LP, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” her people say she’s forgoing the scores of vaulted recordings and intends to give fans fresh work.   The singer has hired new management and lined up several concert gigs, mostly festivals, in such places as Dubai, Turkey and the Netherlands. In the U.S., she has four dates scheduled, including a free concert August 6 in Brooklyn as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series.   Earlier this month, Hill contributed the single “Lose Myself” to the soundtrack for the animated film “Surf’s Up.”


Shining Star Power On A True Story Of Tragedy

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Liam Lacey

(June 25, 2007) When
Angelina Jolie travels, she brings not only four kids and her live-in partner Brad Pitt, but a whole lot of other baggage with her. Her efforts to promote her new film A Mighty Heart have sparked a rash of new controversies, magazine covers and speculation for the 32-year-old star, whose reputation as home-wrecker, beauty and philanthropist are unrivalled since the era of Elizabeth Taylor. The low-budget, relatively low-profile movie, which opened in theatres on Friday, is based on the memoir by Mariane Pearl, and it chronicles the weeks after the January, 2002, kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, until his murder, by beheading, was revealed to the world on the Internet. The movie takes place in the household of Asra Nomani, Pearl's former Washington Post colleague, in Karachi, where Mariane Pearl, who is five months pregnant, holds out hope with her friends, journalistic colleagues, local police and the FBI. At the initial standing-room-only press conference for the film at the Cannes Film Festival, the first time she had appeared officially with Brad Pitt (a producer on the film), Jolie was skilful at turning publicity away from her to Mariane Pearl, who appeared onstage with her. But the honeymoon was brief. During Cannes, a Variety columnist scolded her for mentioning, in response to a reporter's question at the end of the press conference, that she was going to take a year off from acting to be with her family.

Then came last week's controversy after the New York premiere of the film and the accompanying junket. The right-wing-leaning Fox News was not invited onto the red carpet. Reporters were asked to sign a contract saying they would avoid personal questions. (Her lawyer later took responsibility for this and apologized for being "overzealous.") One of Jolie's oddities is that she doesn't have a personal publicist. Angelina Jolie appears as Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart. (Peter Mountain/ Paramount Vantage/AP) After the first press conference at Cannes, the festival offered a more intimate, calmer press gathering for about a dozen film critics at the Hotel du Cap with Jolie and Mighty Heart director Michael Winterbottom. Jolie, in a creamy silk top and matching skirt, sat at the cabana near the hotel.  The legendary beauty (according to one Los Angeles plastic surgeon, her looks are the "gold standard" that women aspire to) has slightly blemished skin under her makeup, but radiates good-natured warmth. There were no limitations on questions, and refreshingly, no one seemed obsessed with her personal life beyond asking about her shoes (Louis Vuitton). "Nobody asks men about their clothes," noted another reporter. "Except for Brad," said Jolie. Mariane Pearl had already told the press how she had sought out Angelina Jolie, on an impulse and befriended her after reading an article about her. This was before Pitt and Jolie had become romantically involved, though independently, he had bought the rights to Mariane Pearl's book. When it appeared A Mighty Heart would be adapted into a movie, Pearl asked Jolie to play her in the film. ("Please do it. You're the only person. I trust you."). Later, at Cannes, Pearl declined to give a personal response to the film, but said: "I think about the fact that my son will see the film one day, and this is a great moment of pain for me. And this role was played by somebody who loves me, and it means a lot to me."

Inevitably, there's the question of whether a star of Jolie's reputation helps or hurts this kind of movie. "I would love to think that could help," said Jolie. "I think that sometimes I think it can also be a distraction and undermine that this is a serious film, that Michael [Winterbottom] is a serious filmmaker. It has to be handled so carefully with someone like me, who's so public in other ways. I was more conscious of that [being a problem] than feeling confident that it would help. But now that the film is made and we're very proud of it, we're doing everything [we can] to bring attention to it." She was at pains to emphasize that the movie was not about money, not about reputation, but about friendship. Winterbottom is a low-budget filmmaker - there were no trailers for the talent and no pressure to come in under budget.  Asked if she had any concerns about the film's commercial viability, she answers: "It just didn't come together like that. This book was a powerful book. "Mariane is a very articulate person who can talk to a studio head or a producer and tell them how it needs to be done, but you can also tell that she's not going to get in the way and she's been very supportive. "Brad and I came to this separately and we all wanted Michael [Winterbottom]. "It clicked and Michael was excited about it. If it went the right direction, it would be beautiful. He met Mariane and it just felt such a match. And by the time we presented it to the studio executives, it was a case of we cared so much and we were ready to do anything and I think they had to feel that. All we had to say was, 'That doesn't feel right' and they'd back off. And sometimes that can happen in this business." Though it met with some advance ridicule on the Internet, Jolie darkened her skin (Mariane Pearl is Afro-Cuban) and used a language coach to study Pearl's Cuban-tinted French accent. "In some films, you're more or less yourself and that's fine," she explained. "For a film like this, it's important to bring as much reality to it as possible and keep people far removed from the idea of it being a film with actors. So to try and erase as much of yourself as possible is important."

By the end, she says, she thinks, "I see more of Mariane than me" in the film, though she acknowledges that Pearl's blessing gave her a boost of confidence. "I'm still too shy to attempt the accent in front of her." The film was shot in a house in India over the course of five weeks, about the same amount of time Mariane Pearl had waited in the house in Karachi after her husband was kidnapped. Winterbottom used hand-held cameras and natural lighting, and shot the story in chronological order. The actors were allowed to improvise the script, and according to Winterbottom, certain bonds formed that were parallel to those that formed in the real house.  Mariane Pearl was central in creating the sense of team spirit among a group of people from various cultures. Jolie took on a similar role in the house in India where the film was shot. The result, said Jolie, is a movie that didn't require any poetic licence: "The book is what it is. These people who came together in this house were of many different faiths. We didn't have to create that. "They became friends - deep, deep friends who are still very close today." What does she want people to gain from the film? Jolie contemplated the question for a moment before answering: "I hope they'll read the book. I hope they get to know Mariane and read Daniel Pearl's articles and read about him. There's so much fear and anger in the world right now it's hard for people to calm down and focus to find solutions. "I think Mariane Pearl's a great example to people, of remaining calm under the most extraordinary circumstances. Even after what they did to her husband, she managed to rise above it." Jolie herself has visited Pakistan three times - directly after 9/11, and twice in 2005, meeting with the president and prime minister for relief causes. Did the movie cause her to second-guess her own high-profile international expeditions? "No," she says. "Knowing Mariane, I think, makes me more determined to spend time with those people and look for great relationships across the world and try to understand people. People tell me I shouldn't go with my family to a lot of places, but I'm not going to live in a box. I want to know about the world." As for the news-media attention, Jolie seems far less obsessed with the media than the media are obsessed with her. When she was swarmed by press in India, during the making of A Mighty Heart, she says her only thought was "how difficult it must have been for Mariane, who went through this with no preparation and during such a terrible time." When she appeared before the world's press at Cannes, she says, she honestly enjoyed it: "The film is so much about this family and Mariane and Adam [the Pearls' now five-year-old son]. When a film works, you sort of look after each other in front of all that [media] stuff. You feel very comfortable and feel proud to present it. It gives you a purpose."

Fest Lands Blanchett, Coen Films

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(June 22, 2007) Cate Blanchett's return performance as Queen Elizabeth I in the new film Elizabeth: The Golden Age will be among the highlights of the Toronto International Film Festival in September, the organization said yesterday, while also confirming a number of other films after speculation surfaced this week about which films would make the roster. Industry watchers generally know which high-profile films coming down the pipeline are likely to be included in the festival. It's a widely kept secret among filmmakers, distributors and publicists. For instance, acclaimed films that have already played the Berlin or Cannes festivals, such as Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Flight of the Red Balloon, are usually considered shoe-ins to make their North American debut at TIFF. Indeed, the festival said yesterday that The Flight of the Red Balloon, a nostalgic look at Paris starring Juliette Binoche, will be in the line-up, as will No Country for Old Men, the new Coen brothers film based on Cormac McCarthy's novel about a drug deal on the U.S.-Mexican border and starring Tommy Lee Jones.

Also appearing is Canadian director Bruce McDonald's The Tracey Fragments, which relies on the split screen and other experimental means to tell the story of a troubled teenage girl. The film, based on Maureen Medved's novel and sold to distributor Odeon Pictures at the Berlin Film Festival, is due to hit theatres in October. Finally, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and is about a woman in Bucharest looking to get an illegal abortion in the last days of communist rule, is also widely speculated to appear in the festival. neither TIFF nor distributor Mongrel Media could confirm this yesterday. There's a lot more to being accepted than merely being picked by TIFF programmers. The festival and a film's distributor or producer have to agree on when the film will play during the festival and in which of TIFF's many programs. For a high-profile film such as 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, final confirmation can't be made until all the plans are agreed upon.  

Crisis Time For Canadian Film

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald

(June 22, 2007) On the brink of closing one of the biggest deals in the history of Canadian entertainment – the sale of
Alliance Atlantis's Motion Picture Distribution arm, also known as MPD, to Manhattan-based investment house Goldman Sachs – many of the most powerful names in Canadian film and TV are claiming that the sale of such a heavyweight distributor to a foreign company could decimate the industry here. And they're demanding Ottawa do something about it. Directors David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan, actor Paul Gross, producers Robert Lantos, Denise Robert and Kevin Tierney – as well as English and French associations across the industry – are calling on Stephen Harper's government to closely monitor the transaction, in which a U.S. financial player is buying a 51-per-cent stake in MPD, Canada's most powerful distributor. “The total inaction of the government is why the industry is alarmed,” says Cronenberg, whose films include The Fly, Crash and 2005's Oscar-nominated A History of Violence. “The Harper government doesn't seem to see it as being important – or financially of interest. Nobody in the industry trusts that they care at all. That's the problem.” Reached in Calgary, where he's shooting a First World War film about the Battle of Passchendaele, Gross sounded equally frustrated by Ottawa turning a blind eye to the foreign takeover of a linchpin of Canadian culture. What's more, insist Gross and others, such a takeover is in fact forbidden by the federal government's 1988 foreign distribution policy, which limits foreign ownership of Canadian distributors to 30 per cent. That policy, they say, has given rise to a robust Canadian distribution sector, of which MPD is king.

“This isn't quite the same as taking over companies in the mining sector,” says Gross. “Cultural enterprises are just different. To a very great extent, all of the elements of Alliance Atlantis [sold recently for $2.3-billion to Goldman Sachs and CanWest Global Communications, pending regulatory approval] are a public trust – specifically the distribution arm, because of its massive library of Canadian programming, almost entirely financed by the Canadian people.”  The actor is referring to MPD's archive of roughly 6,000 hours of Canadian-made TV and film. Financed by taxpayers to the tune of at least $2.5-billion, that library is a coveted asset thanks to CRTC requirements that private broadcasters carry up to 60 per cent Canadian content on their networks. “Selling all that to an American company is like selling the Museum of Civilization to a U.S. firm,” says Gross. “We can't imagine doing that, so why should we imagine doing it with our cultural enterprises?” But whatever Goldman Sachs might do with such a library, gutting the foreign distribution policy, say Gross and others, will have immense repercussions right across the industry. The policy's supporters note that, just 20 years ago, movie distributors had a market share in Canada so small that it barely existed. Two decades later, Canadian distributors have carved out a share of the domestic box office that hovers between 25 and 30 per cent. The reason? The policy forced foreign distributors seeking entry into Canada to team up with a Canadian player to distribute any film that they hadn't fully financed or did not own the worldwide rights to. Armed with the right to distribute everything from The English Patient to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Canadian distributors – the financial lifeline of all homegrown production – thus acquired the leverage, and resources, to force exhibitors to play Canadian movies, too.

Prior to Ottawa's film-distribution policy, Lantos says, he and other distributors were like “homeless beggars – operators held together by Band-Aids – going to cinemas with hat in hand to convince them to play their movies. Twenty years ago, there wasn't a single Canadian player of size or substance. We were second-class citizens in our own market.” The policy – which grandfathered existing studios such as Fox, Paramount and Disney – turned out to be enough of a disincentive that no new foreign distributors even bothered to come to Canada (with the exception of Polygram, which ended up quickly withdrawing). “Suddenly the important, commercially profitable American films – mostly American, but from around the world – came available for Canadian distributors to buy,” explains Lantos. “It gave us the leverage in the marketplace, so Alliance Atlantis [now MPD] had the muscle, for the first time, to properly market Canadian films.” Montreal producer Denise Robert, who is married to Quebec director Denys Arcand and has produced many of his award-winning films, says it would be tragic to lose control of our distribution companies. “Federal, provincial and private money has enabled us to build a healthy film industry that is respected and recognized worldwide,” she says. “To lose control of that – when we've invested so much for two decades – would be the epitome of irresponsible.” To comply with the federal rules, Goldman Sachs (which did not return calls for this story) has said it will team up with a Canadian operator who would run the business. Sources say the investment house is close to lining up that partner, rumoured to be EdgeStone Partners, one of Canada's leading private equity firms, which manages more than $2.3-billion of capital. “If a foreign firm is allowed to take over the biggest distributor in Canada, there will effectively be no more barriers to outsiders setting up branch offices here,” says Lantos, who co-founded the precursor to Alliance Communications Corp. in 1973, and sold it nine years ago to Atlantis Communications Inc. “To a very large extent, the future of the Canadian film industry hangs in the balance,” he adds. “Without a strong distribution sector, our films have no access to the market. We currently have a reasonably strong distribution sector because the policy works. Why mess with it?” For their part, Cronenberg, Gross and others say they decided to raise the alarm because of a recent, troubling precedent – the sale of Toronto-based distributor ThinkFilm to a California investor nine months ago. Los Angeles film financier and distributor David Bergstein bought ThinkFilm last October. ThinkFilm continues to operate unfettered in Canada. Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda is clearly aware of the file, but her office has made no public statement, and also did not return calls for this story.

Cronenberg says he is worried that mighty MPD will fall into foreign hands because Ottawa has left the door so wide open for the American owner of ThinkFilm – a small distributor with a fraction of MPD's clout. “I'm fortunate at this point in my career that I can make movies regardless of whether there are Canadian distributors of any stripe at all,” says Cronenberg. “But for most filmmakers, producers, directors, it's essential to have Canadian-controlled distributors who don't operate with a Hollywood orientation. Without the distribution policy, none of my early films would have been made.” As Gross points out, foreign-owned and -controlled distributors operating in Canada have never been interested in financing or distributing Canadian films. “The worry with the MPD deal – because of ThinkFilm – is that a huge, industry-altering precedent will be set. And of course, then there will be nothing to stop all those companies – New Line, Miramax, Sony Classics or Lionsgate Entertainment – who would effectively be free to set up shop in Canada.” In fact, there are rumours that Lionsgate – which technically qualifies as a Canadian company, but whose entire management team is based in Los Angeles – is re-evaluating its relationship with Toronto-based distributor Maple Pictures (in which Lionsgate is currently a minority shareholder) with a view to perhaps starting up its own branch office in Canada. In the meantime, it likely will take several months for Goldman Sachs to figure out how the ownership puzzle will fit together, who will manage day-to-day operations, and how many representatives it will have on the MPD board. Victor Loewy, the mercurial former chairman of MPD, who quit last summer after a nasty dispute with his board (only to be rehired a few months later in a successful effort to keep major client New Line Cinema from pulling its business from MPD) is believed to be the front-runner for the job of chief executive at MPD.  But sources in the United States say that Goldman Sachs is not going to be remotely hands-off at MPD. In fact, say the sources, the investment bank has already handpicked a man of its own to be placed in a senior position – a film-industry veteran and former executive vice-president at Miramax, Charles Layton. “A passive minority investor doesn't hire a guy to run the company,” says a source in Toronto's financial community with close ties to MPD. “The board does. They're buying Alliance's 51 per cent, but presumably – with assistance from shrewd lawyers – they're going to window-dress the deal to make it look like they're not in control.” Ted East, president of the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters (CAFDE), agrees that, to date, the optics surrounding Goldman Sachs's takeover of MPD are hardly encouraging. In light of the leeway that Heritage Canada has given ThinkFilm, East's association – along with the Canadian Film and Television Production Association; the Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec; and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists – wrote Oda in mid-May, expressing concern about the continuing operation of ThinkFilm in Canada. But although they asked for a meeting, they have so far received nothing but an official letter of acknowledgment that their note made it safely to Oda's Parliament Hill mailbox.

“The government, through its absolute silence, has sent the signal to everybody, including those who are buying the assets, that the government will not do anything,” says East. “Even in the U.S. film industry, people say Goldman Sachs has bought MPD. It's not ‘Goldman Sachs made an investment in it.' ” All of that angers filmmaker Egoyan, who says that “not upholding the policy will reduce Canadian distribution to essentially a handful of boutique companies again. We'll end up with a bunch of new American companies who do nothing but distribute and send money back home, who don't get involved with Canadian films, or do so rarely. “The whole infrastructure will be damaged,” predicts the director of such films as The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica, both of which are part of MPD's Canadian library. “And culturally speaking, we'll become another [U.S.] state, because there is no incentive to continue to develop a domestic industry or a distinct alternative to the American system.”

Cusack's career advice: Shut up and work

Excerpt from www.globeandmai.com  - BOB STRAUSS

(June 21, 2007) LOS ANGELES —
John Cusack has always been reliable and eclectic. He has portrayed his generation's ultimate befuddled romantic (Say Anything ...) and its emblematic older, heartbroken cynic (High Fidelity), as well as everything from a conflicted hit man (Grosse Pointe Blank) to a guy who lives inside John Malkovich's brain (you know which one). And with remarkable consistency, he has brought a high degree of intelligence, everyman believability and neurotic shadings to whatever he does. Tour de force, though, is one description that hasn't been applied much to his work. Until now - in 1408. 1408 - a horror movie, of all things, based on a Stephen King short story - stars Cusack and ... well, a room. Samuel L. Jackson and Mary McCormack are the nominal co-stars, but really the movie is mostly about Cusack's supernatural-phenomena debunker, Mike Enslin, going ape crazy in a New York hotel room that is most definitely haunted. Or at least it's a reflection of Enslin's repressed, troubled inner psyche.  Either way, like that other hotel-set King movie, The Shining, was for Jack Nicholson, 1408 - which opens tomorrow - is a showcase for everything Cusack has got to give.

"It's hard to do the same types of movies," says the actor, who produces many of his films and celebrates his 41st birthday next week. "You do your own movies, and try to do the best you can and make them very personal. Then you get offered bigger studio movies by people who've seen the kind of work you've done, and it's kind of the same story again.
"But you see something like this and you think, 'I don't know if I can pull this off, I don't know if anybody can pull this off. How do you sustain it?' That really gets you going." While the film supports Cusack with a variety of changing room environments and the occasional apparition to react to, the actor primarily had to draw out the drama from deep inside himself.
"It required a pretty intense commitment with your emotions every day," he notes. "So I was up for the challenge. I like being scared. I don't mean that as a pun, I mean I like working without a safety net." That's something Cusack has often done too. Really, how many actors in modern Hollywood, where creative daring takes a backseat to safe career management, would risk doing something as surreal as Being John Malkovich? Or even understand it?
Cusack's upcoming producer/star projects, Grace Is Gone and Brand Hauser, are chancy in a different way. One is a family drama about a war widower who can't break the news to his children of their soldier mom's death. The other is an assassination-themed black comedy. Both are highly critical of current U.S. war policy. This may sound like a safe bet at a time when American opinion has turned against the Iraq occupation, but movies about that conflict have yet to find much of an audience.

"I've felt real comfortable doing that," Cusack says of making politically charged films, "whether or not it's something that appeals to everybody." Cusack's political commitment may have come from his mother, an activist and teacher. The rest of the family is all into acting, as were the folks of his childhood friend, Jeremy Piven (Entourage), whose parents taught the young Cusacks at their theatre workshop in the Chicago suburb of Evanston.
Since getting their Hollywood start in the 1980s Brat Pack vehicles Class and Sixteen Candles, John has often worked in films with his sister, Joan Cusack. She will appear in Brand Hauser and another of her brother's upcoming movies, The Martian Child, in which John plays the adoptive father of a kid who thinks he's from outer space. "I'm guilty, I guess, of rampant nepotism there," Cusack acknowledges. "But she's so good, you would cast her too if you could. Not only is she someone I love and get along with great, but she's always the best actress for the part. So, as long as it keeps working, why not keep doing it until someone tells you you can't?" As for starting a family of his own, the never-married actor doesn't seem too comfortable with the question. Though he has been romantically linked to several actresses over the years, Cusack is militantly private regarding his personal life. In fact, when asked what advice he might give young actors  who want to sustain a career the way he has, Cusack tells them to avoid the spotlight. Unless it's on a soundstage. "Make your work personal," Cusack says. "If people want to find out something about you, instead of talking to tabloids and pretending like any mood that sweeps over you needs to be printed, put it into your work and shut up."

Morgan Freeman: The Evan Almighty Interview with Kam Williams

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 21, 2007) *Born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee,
Morgan Freeman is keeping extraordinarily busy for an academy Award-winner who has recently turned 70.  The peripatetic septuagenarian has numerous upcoming films on the docket, including the three being released later this year, The Feast of Love, The Last Full Measure, and Gone, Baby, Gone, a murder mystery which will mark Ben Affleck's directorial debut. In 2008, he'll be co-starring with Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List, a Rob Reiner road comedy about a couple of terminally-ill patients who make a break from the cancer ward. In Wanted, he'll play an assassin in an action adventure along with Angelina Jolie and Common. In The Dark Knight, a sequel to Batman Begins slated for a blockbuster release next summer, he'll rejoin an ensemble cast comprised of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts, Aaron Eckhart and Gary Oldman. And he's already attached to rendezvous with Rama, an adaptation of the sci-fi best seller by Arthur C. Clarke.  Here, he talks a bit about his current flick, Evan Almighty, where he's reprising his role as God.

Kam Willams: Did you have any second thoughts about agreeing to play God?

Morgan Freeman: I got the feeling a long time ago, that eventually someone was going to come up to me and say, "We want you to play this role." I wondered, "What am I going to do?" If it was a straight role, I wouldn't do it, pure and simple.

KW: Do you enjoy working with Tom Shadyac as a director.

MF: My coming back to it has everything to do with the filmmaker. I really like Tom's head. the way he thinks. what he thinks. what he does. and what he's attempting to say. I want to say the same thing, so we usually wind up on the same page.

KW: How would you describe his directorial style?

MF: I'm not that keen on being directed. If you give me a part, I gotta assume that you think I'll do it, rather than be a conduit. However, Tom has a way of infusing his direction with...he's like, "Try it for me." It's like, "Okay, I'm going to do you a favor." Also, generally, he's on. He knows exactly what he sees and what he wants, which is very helpful. Playing this role, I might have a tendency to get too serious. So, one of his constant reminders to me was. "Just keep it light," which was really right.

For full interview by Kam Williams, go HERE.

Wanda Sykes - Ark Nemsis; Comedienne Co-Stars in 'Evan Almighty'

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

(June 22, 2007) Known for her smart-witted stand-up, actress
Wanda Sykes has taken her talent to new heights. She was last seen in her HBO comedy special “Wanda Sykes: Sick & Tired.”  In her latest project, “Evan Almighty,” the funny woman joins Steve Carrel and Morgan Freeman as they reprise their roles for the sequel to the sleeper hit “Bruce Almighty.” This time God, played by Freeman, makes a request of now Congressman Evan Baxter to build an ark.  Sykes plays Baxter’s biting assistant, Rita. It’s a role she is quite familiar with. With the exception of her stand-up specials and her own short-lived show “Wanda-at-Large,” Sykes has co-starred with Jane Fonda in “Monster-in-Law” as the same. But Sykes explained that these are some cherry roles that she loves doing. “I don’t think it’s necessarily written for a black woman,” she said when asked about the role of comical side-kick. “I think they just wanted somebody to be funny. There are lots of funny women out there that could’ve pulled it off. I enjoy playing those roles. In comedy, that role has always been there; the wise-cracking underling. I think anyone in power that you root for, you like them because they have someone so close to them who tells them like it is. And that role is always fun to play.” Sykes said that being funny was easy to do on the set of the new film; Director Tom Shadyac gave her and Carrel room to grow. She admitted that a number of her lines were purely adlib, but she knew not to go too far.  “There were some things that just wouldn’t work. I mean, we weren’t told that this was going to be PG; that this was going to be a clean movie, so we weren’t given that direction, which I’m happy he didn’t give me because it probably would have stifled me. But you just could feel it. I mean, you’re standing here next to an ark with all the animals,” she said, “but there were a couple incidents where I wanted to say ass.”

Not only did Shadyac not give her much direction on her comedy in the film, she told reporters that quite often she didn’t have much film to go on either.  “In one scene, I was just making comments, but I was looking at a blank screen. They hadn’t even shot the scene. It was a lot of that. At times [it was] funny, but frustrating because I felt like I was working in the dark,” she said and joked, “Those were the days that I would call my agent and say, ‘You know, we really didn’t get a good deal on this movie. It sounded good at first, but they’re getting every penny out of me. They’re making up stuff.” She continued that in filming, there were a number of times that she and Carell would have the cast and crew, and each other, in stitches. “We were cracking each other up. Steve is very funny, but he works hard. I would have been complaining the whole time. He had to go through so much makeup and hair, and birds pooping on him. He got into the spirit of it. But, I’m pretty sure they want to keep the DVD clean, too. There were a couple of ‘F’ bombs we would do.” The Virginia native said that about 90% of her time on screen was improvisation, a skill she said she didn’t necessarily get from her family. “My family is funny, but they have to work small rooms. At the family reunion, they’re really funny. My mom is a really good impersonator, but it’s people you don’t know,” she joked. With it all fun and games during filming, the movie does have a serious theme. “Evan Almighty” carries an environmental message in serving humanity. But not to get too serious, Sykes even has a quirky take on it all.

“I think it’s a good message,” she added. “Hopefully it’s not too heavy… I just hope we keep moving along on this taking care of the environment. I hope it’s not just a trend. We recycled on the set and any animals that were harmed on the set – we ate them.” Though not quite ready to take up the task of building an ark herself – she said if God approached her and told her to do so, she’d “give him a dollar and keep it moving” – Sykes is taking on some pretty big projects. She signed on as a series regular for the new season of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and said that she really enjoys doing television because it’s close to doing stand-up. “Television is fast. That’s the closest thing that I can get to stand up. Because each week it’s a new script, it’s fresh, you get to play around, and you get the quick response because we perform in front of a live audience,” she explained. “All those things are appealing to me.” But the actress hasn’t given up the stage just yet. In addition to her new regular TV gig, she also finished up a few recent comedy shows on the road and is developing new material. “I just wrapped up some dates on the road in April and May. I’ve been traveling a lot and I’ve been doing new things, like snowboarding. So I talked about more on that because I’m so sick of talking about how Bush is screwing up everything. I’m just going to take some Ambien and take a nap. Just wake me up in ’08.” For more on what she’s up to ‘til then, visit www.wandasykes.com. And in the meantime, you can catch Sykes in “Evan Almighty” opening in theatres nationwide today (Friday), June 22. And for more on the film she describes as “family friendly,” but was happy to wrap, visit www.evanalmighty.com.  “There is a moment of me doing the happy dance,” she said of the film’s final scene. “As a black woman I was more like, ‘Oh no, I’m not dancing. Y’all always want us to dance.’ But I had reason to dance. That was the last shot, and I was so happy to get out of that suit that I’d been wearing for the last two months, and [the set] smelled like monkey balls – yuck.”

It's Too Soon For Takeover Alarms In Film Industry

Excerpt from
www.eurweb.com -

(June 25, 2007) Foreigners have bought nearly 600 Canadian firms since the start of 2006, leading to a phenomenon that goes by the scary name of "the hollowing out of corporate Canada" – a subject business columnist David Olive has illuminated elsewhere in the Star. But now the fear and loathing of foreign takeovers has found its natural home in the cultural sector, with a report on the weekend warning about the dangerous consequences if the federal government does not block the sale of Motion Picture Distribution, an arm of Alliance Atlantis. Under the complicated terms of a recent deal, Alliance Atlantis (which has a 51 per cent stake in MPD) was bought by CanWest Global Communications and its partner, the large New York investment banking firm Goldman Sachs (which provided more cash flow than CanWest could afford on its own). CanWest needed the specialty channels of Alliance Atlantis to keep its Global TV empire afloat, but has no use for a film distribution company. Hence, that part of the takeover prize gets handed off to Goldman Sachs – which, in order to satisfy the rules and regulations of this country's film industry, must turn over most of it to a Canadian partner. Now film-industry players, led by veteran producer Robert Lantos, are singing the anthems of cultural nationalism and making dire predictions that this deal could spell the end of Canadian movies. Their argument: For decades, Hollywood dictated the way we saw movies. Our cinemas were foreign-owned, Hollywood studios had branch plants here, and Canadian film distributors got only crumbs. Then in the Mulroney era, Ottawa delivered a miracle.

While protecting studio branch plants, Ottawa shut out other foreign-owned distributors. Studios could distribute only those films they had produced or to which they owned world rights. Otherwise a U.S. film company was obliged to partner with a Canadian distributor to get its movies onto screens in this country.  That led to a breakthrough. Alliance Atlantis acquired distribution rights to movies produced by Miramax and New Line – a number of which were hugely profitable. Victor Loewy, a former Lantos partner at Alliance who stayed on after it was folded into Atlantis in 1998, brilliantly used the clout this gave him to persuade exhibitors to improve the way his company's Canadian releases were handled. The upshot: Canadian distributors have a 25 per cent share of the business. Loewy has a contract to remain at MPD for the next two years, and if he is given the responsibility of running the film distribution company – as seems likely – that guarantees Canadian movies will have a powerful advocate. Since Loewy enjoys the total trust of New Line, whose movies (such as the forthcoming Hairspray) are what makes MPD a hot commercial property, he has a strong hand to play. And other Canadian distributors, notably Mongrel Media, are breaking through with the smart marketing of Deepa Mehta's Water and Sarah Polley's Away From Her. But, say the alarmed nationalists, what about ThinkFilm? Founded as a Canadian company, it was sold last fall to U.S. buyers – but has gone right on releasing movies in Canada as if it had the right to do so. According to the nationalists, this means the return of the bad old days, when carpetbaggers can run rampant, and Canadian distributors once again become nice guys who finish last. At which point, Canadian film artists like Denys Arcand, David Cronenberg, Paul Gross and Atom Egoyan may as well give up and get into some other line of work. Well, the answer is that Heritage Minister Bev Oda has to clamp down on ThinkFilm and enforce the rules of the game. But it does not follow that Goldman Sachs has an agenda to stamp out Canadian culture and our movie industry.

Yes, the MPD deal has to be looked at very closely by Investment Canada before being approved. One key factor – apart from majority ownership by a Canadian partner – lies in the fine print of the documents. No foreign minority shareholder, including Goldman Sachs, should be allowed to have the right to force the sale of the company. And there has to be a truly independent board of directors as well as a strong Canadian management team. But as long as these details pass the smell test, there is no reason to panic so far. Who's afraid of Goldman Sachs? Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I'm not.

Aguilera Searches For Right Acting Role

Excerpt from
www.eurweb.com - Associated Press Writer

(June 25, 2007) SHANGHAI –
Christina Aguilera says she's reading scripts in search of the right role to launch an acting career. "I am looking forward to moving into another form of what I feel is another creative outlet for me and that would be acting," the 26-year-old singer told reporters Monday in Shanghai, where she was to hold her first mainland China concert. Aguilera, who married music executive Jordan Bratman in 2005, said she was taking her time reading and understanding the film industry. "It is something that, when I attempt to do it, I want to do it right so it's important for me that I do choose the right first role for myself," said Aguilera, who will perform Tuesday night at the Shanghai Grand Stage, host to earlier performances by the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and the Black Eyed Peas. Aguilera found fame alongside boy bands and Britney Spears, but caused a stir with the release of her second album, 2002's Stripped, with its accompanying sexual imagery and overall bad-girl attitude. The album received mixed critical reviews but racked up strong sales.

Her latest record, the double album, Back to Basics, and its accompanying tour were inspired by the blues, jazz and early soul music of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, along with the sexy, grown-up look of Hollywood vamps such as Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow and Veronica Lake. "I wanted to revert back to a time and place in music that truly inspired me the most," Aguilera said. Her sexy act apparently didn't faze China's cultural officials, who told the Rolling Stones not to sing some of their racier hits and cancelled a performance by Jay-Z after deeming the rapper's lyrics "vulgar.'' Yet, Aguilera said she was already moving on, gathering inspiration for the next album, which she promised would be "completely different from this one.'' Aguilera offered no hints what that new style would be, but did make one promise: It will be a single album. "We're going to keep it short and sweet," she said.

'Die Hard': Reluctant Hero Rides Again

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

Live Free or Die Hard
(out of 4)
Starring Bruce Willis, Justin Long and Timothy Olyphant, screenplay by Mark Bomback, directed by Len Wiseman. 129 minutes. At major theatres. 14A

(June 27, 2007)  Yippee-ki-yay ... need we go on? (not that we could, even if we wanted to).  The point is, John McClane is back and, as usual, up to his neck in trouble he didn't ask for and doesn't want. I say "as usual," though in fact the iconic action figure was fairly ill served in the first and second sequels to the surprise 1988 hit, Die Hard (despite being surrounded by supportive Canadians: Sheila McCarthy in Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Graham Greene in Die Hard: With a Vengeance). It wasn't the remarkably consistent
Bruce Willis – for whom, let's face it, this wisecracking role has never really been much of a stretch – as much as it was what he was required to do, and to whom, and with whom, and for whom. I am pleased to report that with the what and who this time more or less equal to the task, sequel number three, Live Free or Die Hard, is indeed a worthy successor to the original – not perhaps quite as good, but close. We'll start with what's wrong with it and work our way back, if only because that's what McClane, the eternal pessimist, would do.

The action set-pieces, though spectacularly staged by director Len Wiseman (Underworld: Evolution) are derivative even of themselves – there are so many cars propelled into the air that the movie at times starts to resemble another Bruce Willis flying-car flick, The Fifth Element. There's an athletic foot chase right out of Casino Royale, a truck explosion á la Terminator and a mano-a-womano fight to the death that looks like a declawed outtake from the second X-Men. (I would give its elevator-shaft setting some points, had there not been so much elevator action in the original.)  Then there is the central villain, a standard set impossibly high by the incomparable Alan Rickman in the original Die Hard, here assayed comparatively blandly by Deadwood's Timothy Olyphant as a button-down über-patriot who wants to bring the country down to save it, attacking its transportation, communications and defence electronically – what is known in terrorist terms as a "fire sale," as in "everything must go." To that end, he has employed – and then summarily executed – the country's leading computer hackers. All except two, not coincidentally representing the movie's cleverest casting calls, the TV-commercial Apple shill Justin Long, and the director and occasional actor Kevin Smith.

Both will prove invaluable in this technological war that an outdated McClane finds himself uniquely unprepared for – although if I ever hear anyone again utter the phrase "analog man in a digital world" I will be forced to shove their tongue into the nearest USB port. Long is a competent cowering foil to McClane's gonzo el destructo man of action. But because his being protected from harm is nowhere near the kind of stakes that bring out the best – and thus the worst – in McClane, the emotional ante is upped by the abduction of his now college-age daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead from Grindhouse). Which brings us back to Willis, his irreverently exasperated charms undiminished and indeed enhanced by the passage of almost two decades. He's back. Yippee ... oh forget it.


Kodjoe’s a ‘Trooper’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 20, 2007) *
Boris Kodjoe has been cast in the upcoming straight-to-DVD film, “Starship Troopers: Marauder,” reports filmmaker.co.za. Jean-Claude van Damme stars in the project, which begins shooting in Cape Town, South Africa next month.  The film follows seven troopers who must help save the earth. Meanwhile, little Sophie Tei-Naaki Lee, Kodjoe’s daughter with actress Nicole Ari Parker, just turned three-months-old on June 11.

Morgan Freeman To Play Nelson Mandela In Film

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Reuters

(June 22, 2007) LOS ANGELES – Oscar-winning actor
Morgan Freeman and his film production company Friday unveiled plans to make a movie starring Freeman as former South African president and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela. The film, to be called The Human Factor, will be based on an upcoming book The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Changed the World by journalist and author John Carlin. "I have known Nelson Mandela personally for quite some time, and am continually in awe of his enormous presence in the world. The opportunity to portray him in this film is a great honour," Freeman said in a statement. Revelations Entertainment, the company run by Freeman and business partner Lori McCreary, is expected to begin production in early 2008. A theatre release date has not yet been set for the independently made movie. The Human Factor will look at Mandela's public and private life in the first year of his presidency, when South Africa was just emerging from years of apartheid. Mandela, now 88, was a long-time anti-apartheid activist who was jailed by the former white-ruled government of South Africa early in his life and served 27 years before being released in 1990. Mandela went on to lead the country when apartheid ended, and his policy of reconciliation helped earn him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Angela Bassett Prepares To 'Meet' Madea

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 25, 2007)  *
Angela Bassett will face-off with the all-mighty Madea in "Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns," an upcoming feature film adaptation of his popular stage play.   The actress will play the role of Brenda, a single mother who travels with her family from their home in inner-city Chicago to Georgia for the funeral of her father, whom she never met. There, she is introduced to her crazy relatives, the Browns, and also manages to find romance along the way.  Perry will again suit up as the characters of Madea and Uncle Joe in the film, which is due in theatres early next year via Lionsgate. He has played big screen versions of the characters in the films “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.”  Bassett, an Oscar nominee for her role as Tina Turner in the 1993 biopic “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” was last seen in Lionsgate's "Akeelah and the Bee" and the Walt Disney Co.'s "Meet the Robinsons."  Perry’s latest directorial outing, “Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?" is due in theatres Nov. 16 with stars Jill Scott, Janet Jackson, Sharon Leal, Malik Yoba, Michael Jai White and Richard T. Jones.  In other "Meet The Browns" news, Wilson Morales' Blackfilm.com is reporting that former LA Lakers forward Rick Fox and Jenifer Lewis will be joining the cast. There's no word yet on what role Fox will play.  Lewis will reprise the role that she played in "Madea's Family Reunion" as Milay Jenay Lori.

We Remember Anderson Jones

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 25, 2007)  *
Anderson Jones, an African American film critic best known for his stint at E!, Online, died Thursday after suffering a major coronary before a promotional screening of “A Mighty Heart” at the ArcLight in Los Angeles. He was 38.   Jones left E! several years ago and had been freelancing ever since for publications such as Emmy magazine and Lavender, a gay and lesbian publication in Minnesota. He had been struggling with health issues in recent years.    According to publicist Ava DuVernay, a memorial service is being planned for Saturday at 1 pm in Long Beach, CA (location yet to be disclosed).   Flowers and condolences can be sent to Jone's parents, Anna and Arnold L. Jones, at 1471 E. Fairifield Ct., Ontario, CA 91761.

Keyshia Cole, Fabolous In New ‘Hood’ Film

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 26, 2007) *Blackfilm.com is reporting that
Keyshia Cole and Fabolous will star in a new feature film to be executive produced by Karl Lagerfeld, the iconic fashion designer best known for his dark shades and constant toting of an Oriental fan.   Titled “Only the Hood Dies Young,” the story follows a young brother, Jeffrey Green (Fabolous), who gets caught up in the drug game.  His love interest will be portrayed by Cole. ”It's a cautionary tale and depicts a generation that's lost,” director Robert Yasim Wright tells Blackfilm.com. “We'll start shooting in the middle of October in South Jamaica, Queens.” Wright also says it was a “blessing” to get Lagerfeld on board. “He loved the story. He said the drug problem is global, and that it's not limited,” says Wright. “In writing the story, I created a situation that explains the behaviour as opposed to just the behaviour itself. I wanted to explain the behaviour of disadvantaged youth.”

Anika Noni Rose Joins Jill Scott In ‘Agency’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 26, 2007) *The cast of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" continues to fill out with the latest addition,
Anika Noni Rose, as Precious Ramotswe’s secretary/assistant, Grace Makutsi. As previously reported, Jill Scott won the role of Ramotswe, the proud, heavyset owner of a Botswana-based detective agency run by women. Lucian Msamati was also newly cast as Ramotswe's fiancée in the film. The Anthony Minghella-directed film is based on the popular Alexander McCall Smith novel of the same name. The movie is being produced by the Weinstein Co. and Mirage Prods., the production company run by Minghella and Sydney Pollack. Minghella also co-wrote the script with Richard Curtis. The film may launch a television series based on the book, but no deals are in place, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Rose currently stars in USA Network's limited series "The Starter Wife" and next appears in the film "One Part Sugar" opposite Danny DeVito. The 2004 Tony winner for the Broadway musical “Caroline or Change” also recently signed on to voice Princess Tiana in the Walt Disney Co.'s musical animated feature "The Princess and the Frog."

Hugh Hefner Biopic Reported In The Works

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(June 27, 2007) LOS ANGELES –
Hugh Hefner's Playboy lifestyle is set to hit the big screen. The film, to carry the title of his magazine, will be directed by Brett Ratner, whose credits include the Rush Hour movies and X-Men: The Last Stand. It will be produced for Universal Pictures by Brian Grazer, who won the best picture Oscar in 2002 for A Beautiful Mind. Hefner, 81, sold the rights to his story to Grazer several years ago. He approved the project last week. "Hef came from a puritanical upbringing and reinvented himself to be the godfather of the sexual revolution," Ratner told Daily Variety, which reported the deal Monday. "He also used his magazine to advocate civil rights and free speech, and put James Brown on his show Playboy After Dark when they didn't put black performers on national television," Ratner was quoted as saying. "He broke all kinds of taboos, especially in sexuality. I want to show it all, from the First Amendment struggles to his first orgy to the stroke in the 1980s that almost killed him."

Ludacris, Thandie Newton ‘Rock’ New Film

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 27, 2007) *Rapper Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and British actress Thandie Newton are among the ensemble cast of “RocknRolla,” a caper film written and directed by Madonna’s husband, Guy Ritchie. Set in London’s crime underworld, the movie stars Gerard Butler (“300”) as a savvy mobster who has learned to play both sides of the fence, while Tom Wilkinson plays a veteran mob boss whose regime is quickly losing ground to foreign interlopers. Newton is cast as the love interest of Butler’s character, while Luda stars as an American trying to make it big in the U.K. music scene.  Things get serious when a Russian mobster orchestrates a crooked land deal and suddenly millions of dollars are available for the taking. All of London's criminal underworld players begin jockeying for a piece. Ritchie, whose credits include "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," began production on “RocknRolla” last week in London, according to the Hollywood Reporter.


 A Shaq Attack On Extra Pounds

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com -

(June 26, 2007)
Shaquille O'Neal is out to save a generation, one overweight kid at a time. That's the mission statement of Shaq's Big Challenge (ABC, 9 tonight), a new unscripted program in which the basketball behemoth takes aim at childhood obesity. Based on the U.K.'s Unfit Kids, Shaq goes one-on-six with Walter (14, 285 pounds), Kit (14, 263 pounds), Kevin (13, 230 pounds), Chris (11, 206 pounds), James (11, 182 pounds) and Ariel (14, 211 pounds). At first, the tip-off seems surreal: these hefty youngsters are about to receive corporeal guidance from a man who is 7-foot-1 and 325 pounds? A former pitchman for Burger King? A fellow who wears shoes so large I could climb into one and safely kayak across the Atlantic? Very well. Shaq visits each kid at home, listening to their anguished tales of life in the fat lane. The suffering is undeniable, even if cause-and-effect is fed a crash diet of mushy denial.  Listen, as a new father who has spent the past nine months in a state of sleep-deprived bewilderment, I am in no position to question anybody's parenting. But if your 14-year-old spends five hours playing video games while gorging on pizza-burritos, shouldn't you intervene? Or at least impose blackouts and revamp the weekly grocery list? If your 11-year-old heaps greasy fries atop his burgers, do you really need an NBA superstar to explain the problem, especially when you admit to melting two sticks of butter into the salty popcorn the boy regularly consumes? These are lifestyle disasters that, not surprisingly, come bundled with medical consequences, as illustrated by the kids' disturbing physical exams at Miami Children's Hospital.

Anyway, the kids embark on a Shaq-designed health program: working out, eating sensibly, watching less television. Shaq is also joined by a number of experts, including his physician Carlon Colker; his former coach Dale Brown; nutritionist Joy Bauer; paediatrician William Muinos; chef Tyler Florence; and trainer Tarik Tyler, who appears to be created from the entangled DNA belonging to Richard Simmons, Simon Cowell and Hulk Hogan.  Mercifully, Shaq's Big Challenge is not a "reality" competition. It's more TLC's Honey We're Killing the Kids than NBC's The Biggest Loser. It feels gentle and earnest and caring, similar in tone to another ABC series. It could be called Extreme Makeover: Body Edition. Shaq, who has six children of his own, is not exactly the most electrifying presence on television. But this is a noble effort and his track record on the charitable court is beyond reproach.

Expect A Knock Out From Mo'nique

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Maia La Ville for EURweb.com

(June 22, 2007) *If you haven't heard by now, it is official.  The big, beautiful and hilarious queen of comedy Mo'Nique is back for the 3rd time to host the 2007 BET Awards.   "The Main Event" begins June 26th 8pm at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. Mo'Nique hosted 2003, 2004 and now 2007.  Why the third time around?   "Coming back to the BET awards is home for me ... the audience, those are my babies", she says.   Mo'nique  clearly has a connection to the BET audience of all ages. "They say, 'listen sista, we gonna' bring it and we want you to bring it.' They make me step up my game," laughs the comedienne. Hollywood buzz is that Mo' is going to shine and come back livelier than ever, watch out Beyonce! "My job is to give them all of me," she says.   The hostess with the mostess has been training at University of Southern California's Sport Coliseum to tighten up her game and shape.  Mo'Nique tells us, "I train at least 5 days a week; did you see me come up those 3 steps??  BAM!"   Mo'Nique's training extends to a boxing gym where she says, "every main event has a championship fighter; in this case, it is the championship comedian."  Perhaps, that is why BET Execs brought Mo' back.  Stephen Hill, EVP, Entertainment Programming, Music & Talent commented about Mo'nique  saying, "The BET Awards '07 would not be complete without her ... we just cannot get enough. She is fly, fabulous and funny."   While Mo'Nique is tightening her thighs and skills to showcase (with the Phat Girlz Dancers) her new Beyonce moves, Lady (Diana) Ross will receive Mo's singing rendition of one of the legend's Motown classics.  

"'Baby, baby' she sings that, right? That's what you can look forward to," she jokes.   "June 26 they will get Mo'Nique in full effect," says Reginald Hudlin, BET President of Entertainment. "This is going to be the best award show on TV, period." So what is Mo'Nique wearing to the awards?  "Probably nothing, I am going to take the BET Awards somewhere different ... just some heels," laughs Mo'Nique.   Wardrobe or lack thereof does not preclude the stilettos. However, Mo'Nique is not into name brand, just comfort.   "I don't have a problem going to Ross," she says. The comedian shops Wal-Mart but she alerts fans to dig through the shoe section.  Mo' tells EURweb, "Gotta' be careful, 'cause sometime plastic on top can mess up your bunions."  "Don't get caught up in big names because your name is on the shoe when you wear it."  Hosting the BET Awards can be demanding and Mo'Nique admits that she's not a superwoman.  The mother of 18 month-old twins says, "I have an incredible support system."  She has all her people in place to support her for the event.   "Being BET's host, I have an incredible husband and nanas. All my people are in place," Mo'Nique explains.   Her husband Sidney and twin boys David and Jonathan will not be joining her on stage but she admits they are in high demand from her fans.   "No, they won't come on stage with me, because David might get away from me and the show will become something different," she jokes.

BET fans and participants can rest assured that Mo'Nique's 3rd time around to host is the anticipation of millions of her's and BET fans alike.  It's going to be well worth the wait. Check www.BET.com for more information.

Oda's Words Welcomed By Film And TV Players

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald

(June 27, 2007) Players in Canada's film and TV industry reacted positively - if cautiously - yesterday to federal
Heritage Minister Bev Oda's promise to make sure the American owners of two Toronto distributors - giant Motion Picture Distribution and tiny ThinkFilm - abide by her department's foreign-policy rules. Earlier this week, Oda told The Globe and Mail that her department would carefully scrutinize the U.S. takeover of Alliance Atlantis's MPD - Canada's largest independent movie distributor - by New York investment bank Goldman Sachs. Yesterday, Academy Award-nominated director David Cronenberg welcomed Oda's words, but remained sceptical.  "If [Heritage] really does it, that will be good. It's easy to say these things, but they can also say they reviewed the MPD-Goldman Sachs deal, and still don't see anything wrong with it. We'll see what happens," Cronenberg said.

Goldman Sachs, which has purchased 51 per cent of MPD, confirmed yesterday it will partner with Toronto-based EdgeStone Capital Partners to own and operate MPD.  Edgestone paid $193.3-million for the remaining 49 per cent of MPD that was held by Movie Distribution Income Fund. It's an alliance that had to be struck in order for Goldman Sachs to comply with federal rules governing foreign ownership in cultural entities, which clearly state a Canadian firm must majority-own and operate a domestic distributor. However, it's still unclear how MPD's new joint owners will structure management, set up a new board, and ultimately divvy up financial control in order to get Heritage Canada's blessing. Montreal producer Denise Robert, who is married to Quebec director Denys Arcand and has produced many of his award-winning films, said yesterday Ottawa has a responsibility to ensure Canadians maintain control of their distribution companies. "I'm glad our Minister has finally made a public statement that suggests she believes in this industry. It's imperative we protect a policy that has been in place for the past two decades."

Oda's comments came on the heels of an industry outcry over seeming government inaction on the foreign distribution ownership front, an issue that reared its head nine months ago after the sale of ThinkFilm to Los Angeles businessman David Bergstein. Last October, Bergstein bought ThinkFilm - with offices in Toronto and New York - for $25-million (U.S.). Industry watchers here expected the new American owner, who owns film-financing company Capitol Films, to partner with a Canadian distributor to get its non-proprietary movies (ones it doesn't have worldwide rights to) onto screens in this country (as mandated in the 1988 policy). Instead, ThinkFilm continues to release its own titles in Canada. And until earlier this week, Oda's office has been silent on how - and when - it plans to crack down on the violation of policy. On Monday, Oda said that deal is getting a second look from her department. "ThinkFilm was reviewed in the same manner [as MPD], and there were assurances given by the company," she said. "That situation is being reviewed by the department again."

On Monday, Oda told The Globe and Mail that any foreign purchase will be scrutinized to make sure it meets the policies that have been in effect for two decades. Goldman Sachs teamed up with CanWest Global Communications in January in a $2.3-billion deal to buy Alliance Atlantis. The Winnipeg-based broadcaster acquired its 13 specialty cable channels, while Goldman bought the 51-per-cent chunk of MPD as well as the hit TV franchise CSI. It is widely expected that MPD's mercurial former chairman, Victor Loewy, will get the top job at MPD. However, Goldman Sachs also has handpicked a man of its own for a senior management position - film industry veteran and former executive vice-president at Miramax, Charles Layton. The overall Alliance Atlantis deal is expected to close Aug. 7. Yesterday, Sam Duboc, president of EdgeStone, told The Associated Press there were no immediate plans for dramatic change in direction for MPD. "It's a wonderful Canadian treasure that we're looking forward to keeping Canadian and continuing to build," he said, adding his firm will have a controlling interest in MPD. Duboc refused to indicate the size of Goldman Sachs's equity stake. The transaction will also be subject to the Investment Canada Act.

With a report from reporter Campbell Clark


Price Isn't Right For Rosie

Source: Associated Press

(June 26, 2007) New York —
Rosie O'Donnell says she's no longer in contention to replace Bob Barker as host of The Price Is Right. O'Donnell, a superfan of the CBS game show, said on her blog that she had a "nice lunch" with the show's producers. Barker, 83, retired earlier this month after 35 years with the show, which is filmed in Los Angeles. Although O'Donnell has said she would love to fill Barker's shoes, the 45-year-old comedian has changed her mind. "Well, here's the thing: I don't really need a job," O'Donnell says in a video posted Sunday on her website. "I'm in a weird position. I don't need the money." O'Donnell recently left ABC's The View. She lives in Nyack, N.Y., near New York City, with her partner, Kelli, and their four children.


Audiences Vote For Evil Dead

Excerpt from
www.thestar.com - Theatre Critic

(June 26, 2007) If this year's
Dora Awards prove one thing, it's that Evil Dead: The Musical is the favourite of this city's audiences, no matter what jurors may say. Every year, theatregoers are allowed to vote for the Audience Choice Award, from a list of Outstanding Production nominees as selected by the Dora team. The only problem was that this year, those jurors conspicuously left off one very popular show: Evil Dead: The Musical.  After a considerable amount of lobbying from Jeffrey Latimer, the show's producer, as well as other commercial theatre activists in the city, the ballot was amended at the last minute to allow a write-in vote. And so, the Audience Choice Award this year went to Evil Dead: The Musical, reportedly by an overwhelming majority. That was probably the biggest surprise and most significant event in last night's presentation at the Elgin Theatre, hosted by actor-playwright Rick Miller, which saw most of the prizes evenly dispersed in the general theatre division. Wajdi Mouawad's much-acclaimed Scorched, which told the harrowing story of a family struggling to discover its history against the bloody background of the Middle East, won Outstanding Production of a Play and Outstanding Direction of a Play (Tarragon Theatre, Richard Rose), but was cheated out of the Outstanding New Play category by a technicality, leaving it to Michael Healey's limp exploration of the liberal impulse, Generous (also Tarragon), generally regarded as the least objectionable of a very weak lot.

The universally praised i think I can by Florence Gibson and Shawn Byfield (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People), in which an entire world of complex teenage relationships was spelled out exclusively in a world of dance, was named Outstanding New Musical, while the popular Queen songfest We Will Rock You (Mirvish Productions) scored Outstanding Production of a Musical. The Doras for Outstanding Performances in a Principal Role in a Play went to Daniel MacIvor, for the farewell revival of Here Lies Henry (da da kamera), his one-man show about the ultimate loser; and Seana McKenna, as the tortured Southern housewife looking for revenge and redemption in Orpheus Descending (Mirvish Productions).  Similar awards on the musical front went to Adam Brazier for his controversial turn as a massively butch version of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show (CanStage), while Corrine Koslo snared it for the second year in a row at Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, this time as the bittersweet one-feathered Gertrude McFuzz in the whimsical Seussical.  Jane Spidell got the Outstanding Featured Role Dora for her show-stopping turn as a foul-mouthed mother of the bride in Leaving Home (Soulpepper).

In the smaller independent theatre division, the big winner was The Four Horsemen Project, a visualization of the work of four boundary-stretching Canadian poets from the 1970s, earning the Outstanding New Play or Musical, Outstanding Production, Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Lighting awards.  In the special awards category, scenic artist Lindsay Anne Black received the 2007 Pauline McGibbon Award and retiring Theatre Passe Muraille artistic director Layne Coleman got the Silver Ticket Award .


New York Warms To Canuck Yuks

Excerpt from
www.eurweb.com - Entertainment Reporter

(June 25, 2007) NEW YORK–
Kevin Janus doesn't seem like the typical New Yorker.  As he shows a reporter around Manhattan's Comix nightclub, Janus exudes a glee about an upcoming performance that seems incompatible with Big Apple sangfroid. "Nice, huh?" says the 32-year-old comedian of the 300-seat venue. Janus has reason to be excited. His June 28 date here is a huge leap forward, and he has his Canadian roots to thank.  For the last two years, the Etobicoke native has been staging The Comedy Igloo – billed as "America's only Canadian-themed comedy show" – at a 50-seat theatre across town. He produces and hosts the monthly events supplying the Canadiana through themes, references and accents, while a slate of local comedians do their own thing – with or without Canadian material.  Now, he's been tapped by Comix bookers to put on a show in celebration of Canada Day. Thursday's line-up includes Comedy Central regulars Christian Finnegan, Tom Shillue, Andres du Bouchet and Ophira Eisenberg.  The Igloo was born of a five-minute impersonation Janus did of '80s rocker Corey Hart at a Brooklyn club in 2003.

"Let me count the ways," says Janus of why Hart was an appealing subject. "Americans know his songs and Canadians love them. He was such a pop star in every ridiculous sense of the word." After an overwhelming audience reaction, Janus and then-partner Eric Chercover began staging shows in the backs of restaurants and nightclub basements before landing a permanent spot at Under St. Marks in the East Village.  The name Comedy Igloo stuck as a "play on stereotypes Americans have of Canada as this place where everyone rides around on dogsleds," explains Janus, who moved to New York five years ago. The Saturday night shows have become so popular that the last few dates sold out even before the email announcements went out. "For a long time it was mainly Americans, with a smattering of ex-pats. But since the (Canadian) consulate helped spread the word, the ex-pats have latched on. And that's very cool: to be with an audience where we share the same fundamental cultural and political understandings. "And you've never seen a group of people get so excited about Smarties," he says of the hard-to-find-in-NYC treats he doles out as trivia prizes.  Getting the nod from Commix means less work, but more stress.  He and Canadian wife Kelly Campbell (a music teacher and opera singer) don't have to worry about box office or lighting, but they do want to ensure a top-notch show at the bigger venue. Janus makes his living as a lawyer specializing in business litigation. After passing the Ontario bar, he accepted an opportunity to study for the equivalent in New York.  "I figured I'd spend a year here and have a chance to perform and hang out with close friends. But I stayed." His colleagues were surprised to find out he was moonlighting as a funnyman. Now that he's hit the big time, what's his goal? "Nothing short of world domination for The Comedy Igloo," says Janus, sounding more like a chest-thumping New Yorker.  But a beat later he softens his stance. "I'll follow whatever happens."

J.B. Handelsman, 85: New Yorker Cartoonist

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Karen Matthews, Associated Press

(June 27, 2007) NEW YORK
– J.B. Handelsman, who applied his dry wit to subjects ranging from politics to popular culture while creating nearly 1,000 New Yorker magazine cartoons, has died of lung cancer. Handelsman, 85, died June 20 at his home in Southampton, N.Y., The New Yorker said Tuesday. In addition to his 950 cartoons and five covers for the magazine between 1961 and 2006, Handelsman illustrated several books and wrote three humour pieces that incorporated drawings. His work also appeared regularly in Playboy and in the British humour magazine Punch. "Bud Handelsman found a way to combine the traditions of the New Yorker cartoon and editorial cartooning and make of it something totally his own," David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, said in an e-mail. "At its best, his work had political bite and, at the same time, a real humanity and wit. Everyone at the magazine – editors, writers, artists, and readers – will miss him and will miss his unique voice.'' In a remembrance in the current issue of the magazine, Nancy Franklin wrote that Handelsman's legacy "has as much to do with writing as it does with drawing. Handelsman may be better known for his captions than for the cartoons.'' In one 1968 cartoon, an audience member at a string quartet concert says to his companion, "It's dull now, but at the end they smash their instruments and set fire to the chairs.''

In another, from 2003, a businessman in a corporate boardroom says, "We are among those chosen to bear the burden of rebuilding Iraq. A thankless job, with no reward apart from obscene profits.'' Handelsman was born in the Bronx in 1922. His given name was Bernard but in adulthood he adopted John as his first name, and he was known informally as Bud. He studied at the Art Students League and at New York University. He is survived by his wife, the former Gertrude Peck; three children; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Basu Can See Her Way To Hosting

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(June 22, 2007) MUMBAI, India – Indian film star
Bipasha Basu was so thrilled to be named one of the hosts of next month's New 7 Wonders of the World event in Lisbon, Portugal, that she got contact lenses so she could read her lines. The thought of having to read from a teleprompter at the globally telecast event finally pushed her to deal with her myopia or nearsightedness, she told The Times of India newspaper in an interview. More than 50 million people have already cast their votes in the massive global poll. In the top 10 are Greece's Acropolis, Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid, Paris' Eiffel Tower, Brazil's Statue of Christ The Redeemer, India's Taj Mahal and Jordan's Petra. The Egyptian pyramids are the only surviving structures from the original list of seven wonders. Basu said she would be honoured and flattered to share the stage with Hollywood stars Ben Kingsley and Hillary Swank, also scheduled to speak at the function on July 7. Model-turned-actress Basu has acted in more than 22 films since she entered the movie industry five years ago. Her recent hit films include Dhoom 2 and Corporate. She is dating Bollywood leading man John Abraham.

Where the catwalk meets the sidewalk

Source: Canadian Press

(June 20, 2007) TORONTO — The worlds of design, music and dance will be on display at one of the busiest hubs in downtown Toronto later this summer at a three-day event showcasing the best in local and international fashion. The catwalk will meet the sidewalk at the inaugural
Fashion and Design Festival — Toronto being held from August 23-25. The event will include 30 world-class fashion shows at Yonge-Dundas Square, which style-watchers in Canada's largest city can check out free of charge. In addition to the shows, organizers have also come up with six special events designed specifically for the festival, which they hope will transform the bustling intersection into “fashion central.” Among them, “I Love Kyoto” will put the spotlight on designers of ethical labels on the cutting edge of fashion, while “Fashion School Special” will feature graduates of the city's leading fashion design schools showcasing their works. The festival will close out Saturday night with the lingerie special, featuring women walking the runway in elegant undergarments under the moonlight.
The event has been wowing crowds in fashion-forward cities for the past seven years. Other cities that have hosted the fashion extravaganza include New York, London and Tokyo.


New Argo Just Happy To Be Here

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

(June 27, 2007)  Argos running back
Jamel White, a native of Los Angeles and a veteran of the NFL, is happy he's now plying his trade in Canada. "Football is football," the effusive White said. "People are people. The only thing that's different to me is the rules and how clean the place is. "I love it here. The people here are nice. The media's nice. You don't get that everywhere." If he can carry the ball on the field half as well as he carries himself in an interview, then it's easy to understand why Argos coach Mike Clemons likes the 29-year-old so much. "He's one of those guys who looks like, when you give him the ball more, he gets stronger," Clemons said at practice yesterday. White will be the starting running back when the Argos take to the field at the Rogers Centre tomorrow night for the season opener against the B.C. Lions. Hard-luck veteran back John Avery will be on the sidelines to start the season for the third year in a row. "I never think of myself as a starter," White said. "Maybe there's something they want to do different this week and something might change up next week.

"My thing is not to come here and sit on the bench. You want to compete with the guys. Not just with John, but with all the other Americans, too, because they can only keep so many on the roster." White proved in four NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns and another split between Baltimore and Tampa Bay that he's not only a solid running back, he's a pretty good receiver, too. In his best NFL season, 2002 with Cleveland, he ran for 470 yards and three touchdowns on 106 carries while finishing second on the team with 425 yards on 63 receptions. He missed the 2006 season because of a hamstring injury, but didn't show much rust during the Argos' training camp. "My nickname for him is Dynamite," said Avery, putting aside his disappointment at losing his job. "Dynamite White. He's explosive. He's quick. He's got a wide frame. "He's a shorter guy (5-foot-9, 222 pounds). They'll have a hard time seeing him. He can kind of sneak up on you in a heartbeat. He has great vision. He has all the tools I have."

Avery just kind of shrugged when talking about his own bad luck at running back. Last year he lost his job when Ricky Williams jetted into town. Before that it was Hakim Hill. "It's not the first time, it's the third time," Avery said. "I can work hard and still be ready. "There were a lot of times Ricky was playing and I was on the sidelines and I knew there was things I could do and pick the team up and spark a fire. It just kind of killed me inside to watch it and not do anything about it.  "As soon as I touched the field, everybody saw the difference I bring to the table." Avery hinted there was a disciplinary reason why he'll be benched, but would not say what he had done to upset the coaching staff.

TFC inks Trinidad striker Samuel

Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Morgan Campbell, Sports Reporter

(June 27, 2007) Toronto FC has addressed needs up front and is working on a deal to bolster its back line. In one of the worst-kept secrets in Major League Soccer, the team finally signed Trinidadian striker
Collin Samuel, who last played with Dundee United of Scotland's Premier League. But the team denied published reports that it had already traded defender Kevin Goldthwaite to New York for defender Todd Dunivant. A team spokesperson confirmed that Toronto and New York were still discussing the trade, but that nothing had been finalized. Samuel, who played for Trinidad in the 2006 World Cup, auditioned for Toronto in April but headed back to Scotland when he couldn't secure a visa to work in Canada. His second tryout lasted two weeks before he finally signed with the team on Monday. Samuel, listed at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, scored 14 goals in 115 games with Dundee. Two weeks ago, when Toronto coach Mo Johnston traded for defender Tyrone Marshall, he mentioned he was still looking for another defender.

If it goes through, a Goldthwaite deal would fulfill that wish and send Goldthwaite to his third team this year. Toronto acquired Goldthwaite from Houston in April and he started in all nine games. He recorded a goal and an assist, but also struggled at times, including when Kansas City striker Eddie Johnson sidestepped him to score the only goal when Toronto lost its home opener. Dunivant, a fifth-year pro from Wheat Ridge, Colo., has started seven games with New York this season and could rejoin Johnston, who traded for him just before he was fired as New York's coach last season.


Williams Sisters Advance At Wimbledon

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(June 27, 2007) *Both Venus and Serena Williams were able to advance beyond the first round of Wimbledon. Venus clawed her way back to beat Russian teen Alla Kudryavtseva 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 on Tuesday, while her younger sister was down 5-4 in the first set before winning eight straight games to defeat Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 6-4, 6-0 in the first round. The No. 7-seeded Serena, who beat Venus to earn Wimbledon titles in 2002 and 2003, plays Alicia Molik of Australia today for a spot in the third round. Venus won Wimbledon in 2000, 2001 and 2005.


Killer Arms in 10 Minutes

By Glenn Mueller, Glee Contributor

Does the very thought of wearing a sleeved shirt in public make you cringe?  Well, there’s no need to get up in arms about it. eDiets Chief Fitness Pro Raphael Calzadilla has a killer workout that will help you wave goodbye to that extra flab forever. And best of all, these exercises only take about 10 minutes to complete. Incorporate this workout into your fitness regimen, and you’ll be “armed and dangerous” in no time.  “People are always asking me how they can get great-looking arms,” Raphael says. “In order to get killer arms, you need a good nutrition program combined with a slight caloric deficit, cardiovascular exercise and weight training.”  According to Raphael, a healthy eating program will send just the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and monounsaturated fats into your body to help your arms look leaner. Cardiovascular exercise will accelerate the fat-burning process, and the weight training will stimulate and develop your muscles. When the fat comes off, you’ll be left with a lean and tight body and beautifully sculpted arms.

In order to get you on your way to those beautifully sculpted arms, Raphael has designed a killer workout that only takes about 10 minutes. He recommends completing this workout about twice a week and reminds people that any muscle group responds best to being done first in the workout or having its own day. To produce maximum results, Raphael has put together something known as an “antagonist workout.”  “Antagonist training refers to working opposing muscle groups in the same workout,” Raphael explains. “There are many methods to manipulate a workout, but I’ve had great success performing a biceps exercise immediately followed by a triceps exercise. This is my all-time favourite way to work arms, and I’ve had my best success with clients using this method.”  The key to the effectiveness of the 10-minute killer workout is the time between sets. According to Raphael, your arms should respond quite well with only a 45 to 60-second rest between sets.  “People tend to wait a lot longer than they realize or they repeat a set too soon,” Raphael says. “There has to be some time allotted for recovery, but not so much that you begin to get stale. This allows you to do more work in less time and pumps blood volume into the arm.”

The 10-Minute Workout:

Dumbbell Double Biceps Curl
(12 reps)
Sit on a bench or chair with both feet in front of your body and your back straight. Hold your arms at your sides with the palms facing forward and place a dumbbell in each hand. Contracting the biceps muscles, raise the weights toward your shoulders, stopping just short of the weights touching the shoulders. Slowly return to the starting position. Exhale while lifting the weights and inhale while returning to the starting position.  “Your upper arms should remain stationary throughout this exercise,” Raphael says.

Dumbbell Behind-the-Head Triceps Extension
(12 reps)
Stand with a dumbbell in your right hand and your left hand on your hip. Press the weight over your head until your right arm is almost straight, with a slight bend in the elbow at the top position. Do not allow the weight to touch your head or neck area. Slowly bend your elbow, lowering the weight until your arm forms a 90-degree angle behind your head and stopping before the weight touches your back. Contracting the triceps muscles, slowly return to the starting position. Exhale while returning to the starting position and inhale while lowering the weight. After completing the set on the right side, repeat on the left side.

“You can also perform this exercise while seated on a bench,” Raphael says. “It isn’t necessary to use large dumbbells because the technique is more important than the weight.”

After performing the biceps curl and triceps extension, wait no more then 45 seconds and then repeat the cycle (two complete cycles).

Machine Biceps Curl
(12 reps)
Follow the proper instructions for using this machine. Contracting the biceps muscles, lift the handles toward your ears, stopping as soon as they get close to the ears. Use caution to be sure that the handles don't hit your face. Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of the weight stack touching but keeping a slight bend in the elbows. Exhale while lifting the weight and inhale while returning to the starting position.

“Try to maintain a neutral spine throughout the entire range of motion,” Raphael says. “Do not round the upper back or let the chest cave in.”

Cable Triceps Push Down
(12 reps)
Stand and face the cable machine (about 18-24 inches away) with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip a straight bar from the upper cable attachment with your palms facing down. Place your upper arm against your body with both elbows at a 90-degree angle. Relax your shoulders and maintain a neutral spine. Contracting the triceps muscles, lower the bar toward your hips, stopping just short of your elbows becoming fully extended. Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of the weight stack touching. Exhale while moving the bar down and inhale while returning to the starting position.

“Your upper arms should remain stationary throughout the exercise,” Raphael says. “For variety, choose different handles, like the ropes or an angled bar.”

After performing the biceps curl and the triceps push down, wait no more then 45 seconds and then repeat the cycle (two complete cycles).

If you haven’t been doing any arm exercises, Raphael says you may want to take up to a minute between cycles. And, if you consider yourself an advanced exerciser, he recommends trying to complete three sets of one of the cycles. By using this killer workout, Raphael says you will see a major difference in your arms.


Motivational Note

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Winston Churchill: Former U.K. Prime Minister

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."