March 8, 2007
Again, apologies for the 'less than formatted properly' newsletter last week. Everything is running smoothly this week - thank goodness! Look for a little recap of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta in next week's edition!
Today is International Women’s Day - celebrate the women in your life!
More hot scoop featuring Robin Thicke again this week with an interview with the soulful hottie too! Check out both below with some special scoop mentioned below.
The Evolution of Robin Thicke
Source: Universal Music Canada
**SPECIAL NOTICE** Until Sunday, March 18th, this CD will be available at HMV for only $7.99!!
‘The Evolution of Robin Thicke’ is the second solo album from the critically acclaimed, Grammy award winning songwriter and producer of records for such artists as Usher, Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson and Christina Aguilera. With a voice of purity, passion and soulfulness, Robin brings to life the stories and emotions of the last two years of his life. This album tells tales of love, loss, temptation, redemption and finding hope against all odds. Right now, Robin's record is PLATINUM as well as the hottest record in the US! Thicke was born to actress and vocalist Gloria Loring and Canadian entertainer Alan Thicke (best known for his role on the sitcom Growing Pains).
'The Evolution of Robin Thicke' is produced by the Neptunes and includes the #1 hit "Lost Without U".
'THE EVOLUTION OF ROBIN THICKE' is In Stores & Online Now!
DK Ibomeka Earns Another Jazz Nomination
Source: Wynchwood Productions
Awards season continues, with another
nomination for DK Ibomeka.
We were excited to last week to let you know about DK Ibomeka being nominated as best male vocalist in the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards - now DK has another nomination under his belt. DK is now nominated as Best Male Vocalist in the National Jazz Awards. DK Ibomeka is the only singer to be nominated for both of these awards!
We are asking for your support on this, so please vote for DK Ibomeka as Best Male Vocalist in the National Jazz Awards (Please vote even if you have voted for DK in the Smooth Jazz Awards - this is new and different competition!)
You can place your vote HERE!!
You can listen to audio clips of DK by visiting the links below (taken from his CD "Love Stories):
Dedicated To You (a MOJO Magazine playlist pick!)
Sugar In My Bowl
I'll Be Anybody
And here are a links to DK Ibomeka videos on YouTube (recoded LIVE in Hamburg Germany, November 2006):
Fine & Mellow
I Was Made To Love Her
I Put A Spell On You
Dedicated To You
Jazz, Soul and Blues vocal sensation DK Ibomeka has been nominated as best male vocalist for the 2007 edition of the National Jazz Awards. This nomination comes at the end of a banner twelve months for DK, who saw the release of his critically acclaimed debut CD "Love Stories" in Canada and Europe in 2006. The disc gained strong airplay across the country on Jazz radio and drew an accolade from the UK's influential MOJO magazine, which choose his rendition of the classic ballad "Dedicated to You" for their December Playlist ("The cream spills over on this version of a Billy Eckstein-Sarah Vaughn duet by a Canuck jazz/R+B singer with Nigerian roots. Find it"). DK Ibomeka has also been nominated as Best Male Vocalist in the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards - making him the only vocalist to be nominated for this honour by both awards programs.
DK Ibomeka completed his first European Tour in November 2006 and is in midst of his first Canadian tour, having opened for Colin James' Little Big band to enthusiastic audiences in central Canada in early February. DK is currently headlining a series of club dates in Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Calgary - with more dates to announced soon (concert dates, music clips, videos and more can be found at dkibomeka.com)
To vote for DK Ibomeka as Male Vocalist of the year in the National Jazz Awards please visit to the Awards web site at www.nationaljazzawards.com. Please place your vote now, as voting closes on March 25.
Interview with Robin Thicke
Robin’s bio says it best - The Evolution of Robin Thicke is an imaginative and heart-felt album that you cannot help but be moved by bob your head to and smile throughout. This CD is one of real music, good musicianship and hard-to-find talent – that special quality. This hard-working artist – that we will call ‘Canadian’ due to his gene pool of being Allan Thicke’s son - talks about his music, the industry and his dad.
Your CD is so great and sincerely, I’m afraid that I don’t get to say that often. Every track offers some new measure of emotion and the lyrics just grab you too. Very smoky, sexy and fun. What’s been the highlight around this project for you?
To be honest, every day there seems to be a new highlight. Just seeing my name in USA Today, one of the top played songs in the country and getting offers from People Magazine, 50 Most Beautiful People … I mean it’s just overwhelming considering that months ago, I was just still wondering if people would ever get to hear the music. I’ve always loved my music and believed in my music, but I didn’t believe necessarily that people would ever get to hear it.
I had a gut feeling that if I could get it to people, I knew there’s got to be an audience. It doesn’t even have to be huge, but there’s gotta be some people out there that want to hear this music.
What are your thoughts about the music industry and what’s been the biggest challenge?
You know what? Probably to my strengths and my weakness, I put too much of the pressure on myself. When it didn’t work, I just said that the music wasn’t good enough. I didn’t blame it on the business; I didn’t blame it on radio. I said that I can do better. I think that’s a good way to think of things, as long as you don’t hurt yourself, as long as you don’t bring pain upon yourself. But what it did make me do is that it made me work harder. It made me give more to my music as opposed to my ego saying, ‘I can just throw anything out there. I’m so good - whatever I do will be great.’
I kept trying harder to connect with people as opposed to trying to be cooler than them.
Who are some of your influences – not just musically but anyone’s who’s made their mark for you?
I’ll start with the artists, the main couple of artists obviously would be Bob Marley, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder because they were not only incredible musicians but they spoke of righteousness and equality and hope and peace. Also, my friend, Andre Harrell who started Uptown Records and then became a mentor to me, really opened me up to a whole other world. My wife is really the biggest influence on my life because she has taught me compassion and she taught me understanding. I was cocky kid and she taught me to think about other people and put myself in other people’s shoes and I think that there’s nothing in this world like compassion.
What pieces of advice would you give to a young artist that wants to enter the business?
Go on American Idol!! It’s the only place to get developed. Where else would you get to get in front of an audience two times a week and have to sing – be shoved out there. They’re going to tell you that your hair’s not good enough, it’s what we all go through. You can’t get that kind of training anywhere anymore and I would tell people, go out for American Idol and if not, send your music to everybody, sing for everybody and do it because you love it – not because you want to be a celebrity.
The problem with what is going on right now is that everyone just wants to be a celebrity and it’s all because they want to be loved. But they don’t actually love the work of doing it. I love to sing. I love to perform. I love to make music. I was doing for 12 hours a day when no one was listening. So, imagine when people are actually listening, how much I’m going to enjoy it. You have to love making it and you have to do the work.
If you could work with any artist, living or past, who would it be?
I’d have to say to get into a room with John Lennon would be pretty special and Marvin Gaye. Marvin, in my opinion, has the voice of God. I think if God could sing, I think he would have Marvin Gaye’s voice.
So, what’s in your iPod player right now?
I have an iPod and I’ve never used it.
What do you want people to remember you by?
I think that he was about, and it sounds corny and you’ve heard it before, but that he was just about love. And that he was trying to show that we are all one in the same and that we should be celebrating each other’s differences as opposed to ‘tolerating’ them. I hate the word ‘tolerance’ – it doesn’t make sense to me. You tolerate evil, you tolerate children sometimes but you don’t tolerate differences. I think that we should appreciate and love people for their differences and I just want people to open their hearts and minds and believe in magic.
I think that religion and sarcasm [have added to that]. When you’re a kid, you believe anything is possible. You believe you can do anything and then you’re told as the years go by, that no no no, you can’t do anything and that’s not right and that’s wrong and ugly and that’s not cool. I think that we should believe that magic is possible.
Do you know any Canadian artists?
I think that Nelly Furtado is Canadian. I don’t know her personally. Deborah Cox is Canadian – Tamia – another beautiful lady.
We’ve always claimed your dad (Allan Thicke) as Canadian – do you feel at home here at all?
He is Canadian to the bone! I haven’t been in a room that I wasn’t uncomfortable in a long time. I think you start to come to peace with yourself and when you’re at peace with yourself, you can kind of just flow. My dad is the quintessential Canadian! My dad and my uncle both moved to LA – and so my joke is that the Canadian dream is to move to America! (I was joking though!)
He has so much pride and so much love for his country. Every opportunity he’ll point out the Canadians to me. Steve Nash? Canadian. Martin Short? Canadian. In any given conversation, he’ll point out Canadians.
I was sincerely blessed to get this interview with soon-to-be mega superstar! Thanks to the folks at Universal Music – Steve Nightingale and Joanna Griffiths for their generosity in setting it up!
Canadian Artists Gather for Two-Day Music Festival at JunoFest
(February 28, 2007) – Saskatoon, SK -The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) is pleased to announce the exciting and highly anticipated events slated for Juno Weekend during March 30 – April 1, 2007, in Saskatchewan. Today’s announcement included some of the artists and venues participating in this year’s JunoFest, a two-day music celebration and showcase of Canadian talent featuring established artists, indie acts as well as some JUNO Award nominees. Presented by Yahoo! Music Canada, JunoFest will take place in 15 venues across Saskatoon showcasing more than 100 local and national artists on Friday, March 30th and Saturday, March 31st, each night from 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. (CT). “JunoFest is an electrifying experience for music lovers of all genres,” says Melanie Berry, CARAS President. “It’s an incredible platform that showcases Canadian talent from across the country along with regional acts, all within the canvas of Saskatoon’s vibrant music and club culture.” Some of the hometown talent participating in this year’s JunoFest include Saskatchewan natives:
David J. Taylor
Five Star Homeless
Ghosts of Modern Man
Jason Plumb and the Willing
Joël Fafard (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Lions in the Street
Little Miss Higgins
The Cracker Cats
Wide Mouth Mason
Canadian artists from across the country that will be rocking audiences during JunoFest include:
African Guitar Summit (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Barney Bentall (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
DJ Champion (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Elizabeth Shepherd Trio (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Humble (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Idle Sons (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
In-Flight Safety (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Jets Overhead (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Jim Byrnes (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Kellylee Evans (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Lennie Gallant (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Malajube (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Mr. Something Something (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Patrick Watson (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Rich London (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Richard Underhill (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Shout Out Out Out Out (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Steve Dawson (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
Trinity Chris (2007 JUNO Award nominee)
You Say Party, We Say Die
More JunoFest announcements will be made in the upcoming weeks as additional artists join the line-up. Patrons must be 19 years of age and older to attend. JunoFest wristbands are $25 and will go on sale Saturday, March 3 at 10 a.m. (CT) at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by calling 306-938-7800. JunoFest wristbands offer priority entry and are subject to capacity. Single tickets will be available at the door March 30 and March 31 for $10 at participating JunoFest venues.
2007 JunoFest Venues
Buds on Broadway
Ryly’s Canadian Bar & Grill
The Long Branch
The Odeon Events Centre
The Roxy on Broadway
The Spadina Freehouse
“Yahoo! Music Canada is about linking users to their favourite artists and songs - that is what makes us one of the leading online music destinations in Canada,” said Kerry Munro, General Manager, Yahoo! Canada. “Sponsoring JunoFest is our way of connecting with independent musicians across the nation and helps to create awareness amongst fans and stars on the rise.” JunoFest is presented by Yahoo! Music Canada in association with CTV, Planet S, Prairie Dog, C95, News Talk 650 & Rock 102, The Star Phoenix, CJWW, Hot 93 and Magic 98.3. Venue sponsors for JunoFest include Doritos, Exclaim! Magazine and XM Satellite Radio. For more information on JunoFest visit www.junofest.ca. For information on more Juno Weekend events, visit www.junoawards.ca
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences/L'academie canadienne des arts et des sciences de l'enregistrement (CARAS) is a not-for-profit organization created to preserve and enhance the Canadian music and recording industries and to contribute toward higher artistic and industry standards. The main focus of CARAS is the exploration and development of opportunities to showcase and promote Canadian artists and music through television vehicles such as the JUNO Awards. For more information on the 36th annual JUNO Awards, visit www.junoawards.ca. For information on the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), visit www.carasonline.ca. The 2007 JUNO Awards will air live on Sunday, April 1 on CTV from the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, SK.
About Yahoo! Music Canada:
Yahoo! Music Canada (http://music.yahoo.ca), offers users comprehensive music-related content, features and information. Yahoo! Music Canada provides a wide selection of streaming audio, an extensive collection of music videos, Internet radio, exclusive artist features and music news covering all genres of music to Yahoo! Canada visitors.
JUNO Awards: www.junoawards.ca
Yahoo! Music Canada: http://music.yahoo.ca
Rap Music Faces Alarming Sales Decline
Source: Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press
(March 1, 2007) NEW YORK — Maybe it was the umpteenth coke-dealing anthem or soft-porn music video. Perhaps it was the preening antics that some call reminiscent of Stepin Fetchit. The turning point is hard to pinpoint. But after 30 years of growing popularity, rap music is now struggling with an alarming sales decline and growing criticism from within about the culture's negative effect on society. Rap insider Chuck Creekmur, who runs the leading website Allhiphop.com, says he got a message from a friend recently “asking me to hook her up with some Red Hot Chili Peppers because she said she's through with rap. A lot of people are sick of rap ... the negativity is just over the top now.” The rapper Nas, considered one of the greats, challenged the condition of the art form when he titled his latest album Hip-Hop is Dead. It's at least ailing, according to recent statistics: Though music sales are down overall, rap sales slid a whopping 21 per cent from 2005 to 2006, and for the first time in 12 years no rap album was among the top 10 sellers of the year. A recent study by the Black Youth Project showed a majority of youth think rap has too many violent images. In a poll of black Americans last year, 50 per cent of respondents said hip-hop was a negative force in American society. Nicole Duncan-Smith grew up on rap, worked in the rap industry for years and is married to a hip-hop producer. She still listens to rap, but says it no longer speaks to or for her. She wrote the children's book I Am Hip-Hop partly to create something positive about rap for young children, including her four-year-old daughter.
“I'm not removed from it, but I can't really tell the difference between Young Jeezy and Yung Joc. It's the same dumb stuff to me,” says Duncan-Smith, 33. “I can't listen to that nonsense.... I can't listen to another black man talk about you don't come to the 'hood any more and ghetto revivals.... I'm from the 'hood. How can you tell me you want to revive it? How about you want to change it? Rejuvenate it?” Hip-hop also seems to be increasingly blamed for a variety of social ills. Studies have attempted to link it to everything from teen drug use to increased sexual activity among young girls. Even the mayhem that broke out in Las Vegas during last week's NBA All-Star Game was blamed on hip-hoppers. “(NBA Commissioner) David Stern seriously needs to consider moving the event out of the country for the next couple of years in hopes that young, hip-hop hoodlums would find another event to terrorize,” columnist Jason Whitlock, who is black, wrote on AOL. While rap has been in essence pop music for years, and most rap consumers are white, some worry that the black community is suffering from hip-hop — from the way America perceives blacks to the attitudes and images being adopted by black youth. But the rapper David Banner derides the growing criticism as blacks joining America's attack on young black men who are only reflecting the crushing problems within their communities. Besides, he says, that's the kind of music America wants to hear. “Look at the music that gets us popular — Like a Pimp, Dope Boy Fresh,' he says, naming two of his hits.
“What makes it so difficult is to know that we need to be doing other things. But the truth is at least us talking about what we're talking about, we can bring certain things to the light,” he says. “They want (black artists) to shuck and jive, but they don't want us to tell the real story because they're connected to it.” Criticism of hip-hop is certainly nothing new — it's as much a part of the culture as the beats and rhymes. Among the early accusations were that rap wasn't true music, its lyrics were too raw, its street message too polarizing. But they rarely came from the youthful audience itself, which was enraptured with genre that defined them as none other could. “As people within the hip-hop generation get older, I think the criticism is increasing,” says author Bakari Kitwana, who is currently part of a lecture tour titled “Does Hip-Hop Hate Women?” “There was a more of a tendency when we were younger to be more defensive of it,” he adds. During her '90s crusade against rap's habit of degrading women, the late black activist C. Dolores Tucker certainly had few allies within the hip-hop community, or even among young black women. Backed by folks like conservative Republican William Bennett, Tucker was vilified within rap circles. In retrospect, “many of us weren't listening,” says Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting, a professor at Vanderbilt University and author of the new book Pimps Up, Ho's Down: Hip-Hop's Hold On Young Black Women. “She was onto something, but most of us said, 'They're not calling me a bitch, they're not talking about me, they're talking about THOSE women.' But then it became clear that, you know what? Those women can be any women.” One rap fan, Bryan Hunt, made the searing documentary Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, which debuted on PBS this month. Hunt addresses the biggest criticisms of rap, from its treatment of women to the glorification of the gangsta lifestyle that has become the default posture for many of today's most popular rappers. “I love hip-hop,” Hunt, 36, says in the documentary. “I sometimes feel bad for criticizing hip-hop, but I want to get us men to take a look at ourselves.” Even dances that may seem innocuous are not above the fray. Last summer, as the Chicken Noodle Soup song and accompanying dance became a sensation, Baltimore Sun pop critic Rashod D. Ollison mused that the dance — demonstrated in the video by young people stomping wildly from side to side — was part of the growing minstrelization of rap music.
“The music, dances and images in the video are clearly reminiscent of the era when pop culture reduced blacks to caricatures: lazy 'coons,' grinning 'pickaninnies,' sexually super-charged 'bucks,”' he wrote. And then there's the criminal aspect that has long been a part of rap. In the '70s, groups may have rapped about drug dealing and street violence, but rap stars weren't the embodiment of criminals themselves. Today, the most popular and successful rappers boast about who has murdered more foes and rhyme about dealing drugs as breezily as other artists sing about love. Creekmur says music labels have overfed the public on gangsta rap, obscuring artists who represent more positive and varied aspects of black life, like Talib Kweli, Common and Lupe Fiasco. “It boils down to a complete lack of balance, and whenever there's a complete lack of balance people are going to reject it, whether it's positive or negative,” Creekmur says. Yet Banner says there's a reason why acts like KRS-One and Public Enemy don't sell any more. He recalled that even his own fans rebuffed positive songs he made — like Cadillac on 22s, about staying way from street life — in favour of songs like Like a Pimp. “The American public had an opportunity to pick what they wanted from David Banner,” he says. “I wish America would just be honest. America is sick.... America loves violence and sex.”
Canadian Film Producer Robert Lantos And
His U.S. Partner Are Buying A Stake In Blueprint
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald
(Feb. 28, 2007) Canadian film producer Robert Lantos has teamed up with U.S. studio veteran Jeff Sagansky, investing millions to buy a minority stake in Blueprint Entertainment, a boutique TV-production shop with offices in Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver. The company would not disclose the size of the cash injection in Blueprint, which has produced shows such as Kenny vs Spenny, the sex-and-snow drama Whistler and, most recently, 'Til Death Do Us Part, a bizarre noir comedy (Court TV, Global) hosted by John Waters, about married couples who start out blissful and end up knocking each other off. The fledgling company, which does $100-million (U.S.) worth of production a year, almost entirely in Canada, was founded five years ago by John Morayniss and Noreen Halpern, two of Lantos's former employees at Alliance (a company Lantos sold to Michael MacMillan at Atlantis in 1998). Morayniss, who is based in Los Angeles, explains that the multimillion-dollar investment is key for Blueprint to expand its production slate (it hopes to double it to $200-million within the next 12 to 18 months) and enable the company to get into distribution. “This investment in Blueprint is strategically significant for the company's future growth, and it validates the efforts we've made to make Blueprint the thriving independent studio it is today,” says Morayniss, 45. “With this equity infusion, coupled with the extensive experience of Robert and Jeff, we intend to move to the next level very quickly by substantially expanding into new arenas and doing what we've always done but on a much larger scale.”
In an interview from his office in New York, Sagansky said he decided to buy a stake in Blueprint because, “the timing was right,” he liked the people, and he trusts Lantos's judgment. “When Robert headed Alliance, I was at CBS. And we were the first U.S. network to put on a Canadian-themed show, which was Due South [written by Oscar-winner Paul Haggis],” adds Sagansky, who over the course of his career has been chief executive of Paxson Communications, co-president of Sony Pictures Entertainment, president of CBS and president of Tri-Star Pictures. He is also a lead investor in entertainment companies including Peach Arch Entertainment, Contentfilm and Winchester Capital, as well as the chairman of Elm Tree Gaming. “It's time to build another great independent,” says Sagansky. “And I think with so much consolidation in the TV business over the last decade, the time is right to have a freewheeling, less corporate structure. I also think the networks are at a point where they understand they can't be competitive by only buying within their in-house production arms. They've got to spread the net, and if there's an independent out there with financial resources and creative know-how to provide top quality programming — the networks will bite.” Lantos, who was reached in Los Angeles, says he and Sagansky “have been looking for something to be partners on for a while. “John [Morayniss] approached me to be a partner in Blueprint, which I decided to do regardless. But the opportunity dovetailed with stuff that Jeff was interested in. We both like the business and creative strategy of Blueprint, which is unique in the TV production world today.” Asked to explain Blueprint's business model, Lantos says it's akin to the production philosophy on which his former company, Alliance, was built back in the 1980s.
“The strategy is simple: to design TV shows that from the ground floor are genuinely Canadian — populated with Canadian writers, directors and actors, so they benefit from [Canadian-government-backed] funding. We retain ownership of the programs, whose first sale is to a network in the U.S. In the States, they perceive these shows as being domestic, so they are able to be sold for a much higher price than any imported programming.” Lantos adds that was the same strategy that Alliance adopted for the sale of the cop drama Night Heat in 1984, which was bought by CBS, but was written and directed by Canadians, and shot in Toronto. “The next part of the philosophy is shows can be made, for the most part, without a deficit, which means the rest of the world becomes the profit centre,” adds Lantos, who produced the Oscar-nominated film Being Julia (with Annette Bening) and is now working on two feature films, Eastern Promises and Fugitive Pieces. To date, CTV's Whistler, now in the middle of its second season, is Blueprint's biggest-budget TV drama. It's also launching a new series soon called The Best Years for Global and the N network. Blueprint employs 20 people in its three offices. With the deal, Morayniss assumes the role of chairman and chief executive, while Halpern will now serve as president, overseeing development and production.
"Introducing Joss Stone" Out
On March 20, 2007
Source: EMI Music Canada
(March 6, 2007) British soul singer and songwriter Joss Stone will release her third album, Introducing Joss Stone, on Tuesday, March 20, 2007. An electrifying mix of warm vintage soul, ’70s-style R&B, Motown girl-group harmonies, and hip-hop grooves, the album is the one that Joss describes as “truly me. That’s why I’m calling it Introducing Joss Stone,” she says. “These are my words, and this is who I am as an artist.” Knowing she wanted to write the album alone, Joss decamped to Barbados in April to come up with lyrics. She stayed for several months before flying to the Bahamas to hook up with her main musical collaborator and producer Raphael Saadiq (known for his work with D’Angelo, The Roots, and Macy Gray). “Raphael [who plays bass on the album] is the most incredible musician I’ve ever met in my whole life,” Joss says. “Musically, I feel like he reads my mind. I’ll give him a look and he’ll know exactly what I want.” Joss and Raphael spent two months recording at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas, and then mixed it at the legendary Electric Lady Studios in New York City. The album also features guest vocal appearances by the rapper Common on “Tell Me What We’re Gonna Do Now,” and reclusive Fugees singer Lauryn Hill, who lends a rap to the languid Fugees-inspired track “Music.” Starting her 2007 in Toronto rehearsing with her impressive band, Joss thrilled some fans and industry folks with a special impromptu and intimate show before she left town. The concert was filmed in HD by SMSN and will be webcast at www.sympatico.ca beginning on March 14. She also graced the Cover of Flare Magazine in February and will be featured in the April issue of Chatelaine Magazine.
In 2003, at the ripe-old age of 16, Joss released The Soul Sessions, an album of covers of old soul tracks and hit the road for a year. Then she recorded Mind, Body & Soul, her first album of original material. Joss was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 2005, including Best New Artist, and performed a tribute to Janis Joplin with Melissa Etheridge at the ceremony. Over the course of her career, Joss has also appeared onstage with James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, Mavis Staples, Donna Summer, Smokey Robinson, Rob Thomas, John Mayer, and John Legend. She performed for more than 200,000 people at the 2005 Live 8 concert in London and most recently wowed the crowd with her rendition of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” at the UK Music Hall of Fame Awards in November. Now 19 years old, Joss Stone has sold over 7.5 million albums worldwide. Look out for Canadian Tour Dates coming soon!
Rihanna's 'Break It Off' Now A Digital
Source: Amina Elshahawi, ThinkTank Marketing, email@example.com, http://www.thinktankmktg.com
(March 2, 2007) *If nothing else, it has been an eventful and eye opening year for Barbados born songstress Rihanna. In addition to recording one of the most popular singles of 2005, the hypnotic "Pon De Replay" (which bass bumped out of more car windows while igniting a slew of barbeques last summer), she won over the masses with her charming Bajan persona. "So much has happened in my life, I feel like I've grown five years in a year," she gushes. No doubt, by the time Def Jam Records released Rihanna's debut album Music of the Sun, it was obvious that this young woman was more than a one-hit wonder. With a work ethic reminiscent of Motown sisters back in the day when soul reigned supreme, Rihanna traveled throughout the world. 2005 saw Rihanna rocking the mic on tour with Gwen Stefani, making crowds sweat in Japan, posing for magazine covers in Los Angeles and shooting her first film role for Bring It On Yet Again. This was a long way from the quiet life she led in Barbados in the parish of St. Michael. Robyn Rihanna Fenty has come through her musical initiation process unscathed. And now she is poised for everything that 2006 may hold as she readies to do it again with her sophomore release A Girl Like Me. "I grew up so much this past year. I had no choice. To pursue my dreams, and with their support, I left my entire family in Barbados to move to the States. It was a little scary to have no friends or family and all of a sudden step into a recording studio," recalled Rihanna. "2005 taught me the dedication and responsibility it takes to make this dream a reality. Waking up at 5:00 am to start rehearsals, the training, the schoolwork, interviews, video shoots, going all day; it always seemed glamorous but it is real work. My love for music and singing will never change but the rose coloured glasses are no longer so rosy."
"Many times over the past year, I didn't have anyone my age with me. When recording this album, I wanted it to seem like I was having a personal conversation with girls my age," says the eighteen-year-old singer. "People think, because we're young, we aren't complex, but that's not true. We deal with life and love and broken hearts in the same way a woman a few years older might. My goal on A Girl Like Me was to find songs that express the many things young women want to say, but might not know how." Dropping from the harmonic heavens to the groovalistic dance floor, Rihanna has returned with another single that will have listeners begging the d.j. to play it one more time. Produced by Jason Rotem, the sizzling "S.O.S." is bringing the summer heat early this year. With its hypnotic beat and enticing melody, "S.O.S." utilizes the electro-funk of Soft Cell's '80s classic "Tainted Love" to create a soulful anthem of young love. "I got excited when I first heard this track and three days later, it was recorded," Rihanna says. Turning heads with its rebel sound, "S.O.S." has been used as the theme song for their NIKE latest women's line, which can be viewed on NikeWomen.com. "Making that commercial was yet another new experience," she says. "It took six days to shoot, but working with choreographer Jamie King (Madonna and Shakira) was amazing." Focusing on progressing as an artist, Rihanna has recorded a compelling track of heartbreak called "Unfaithful." Penned by her label-mate Ne-Yo and Stargate, the song documents the tragic decay of a relationship when another person starts cheating.
Yet, in this instance, it is the girl who has strayed. "On a lot of records, men talk about cheating as though it's all a game. For me, 'Unfaithful' is not just about stepping out on your man, but the pain that it causes both parties." Perhaps the most surprising track is the rock meets island vibe of "Kisses Don't Lie." Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken, the principles of her production company, SRP, used a mixture of Caribbean elements, electric guitar and a mesmerizing bassline." Coming from Barbados, I really hadn't heard that much rock music," Rihanna confesses. "Touring with Gwen changed my perspective. So, when I was discussing this project with L.A. Reid, Chairman of Island Def Jam Records, I made sure to say I want to experiment with some rock." During the recording of A Girl Like Me, Rihanna 'jet setted' down to Jamaica to record with Sean Paul on the yardie duet "Break It Off." Smiling, Rihanna explains, "I have so much respect and love for Sean Paul. He took me to visit the Bob Marley Museum before going into the studio, which was an amazing experience. When we finally got to the studio, I felt as though Marley's spirit was in the room with us." With A Girl Like Me, the beautiful singer proves that her breakthrough was no fluke. After selling 1 million copies worldwide of her debut Music Of The Sun, once again, the summer belongs to Rihanna.
Path To Optimism Is Paved With Pain
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler
(March 1, 2007) The outlook is not so bad for the often-lamenting Lucinda Williams. The alt-country Queen of Heartbreak (some call her) has broken from the male mistreaters of her past and is set to be married. She has a new album out, West, which consistently receives positive reviews. A tour is ready to roll; the 54-year-old's profile has never been higher. At the moment, though, Williams is bummed out. Speaking from her home in Los Angeles, she flips through a copy of Uncut, a British music magazine which wrote mediocre things about the new record. “He describes the album as drab and morose,” Williams says, looking over a feature review for which she was interviewed. “He was nice on the phone, and he said he was a fan,” she continues, in an exasperated, craggy drawl. “He even offered me a complimentary subscription to the magazine.” Maybe it was the circulation guy who called? Anyway, the review supposes that her audience wouldn't take to the bluesy, textured alt-rock tone of the album — that they will miss the Southern rock of previous records Car Wheels on a Gravel Road or Essence. “Obviously,” comes Williams's rebuttal, “he's underestimating my fans.” What has Williams more worried than the album's three-out-of-five-star rating is the reviewer's failure to pick up on the record's optimism.
Citing a pair of songs about her late mother ( Mama You Sweet and Fancy Funeral), Williams explains the material's forward thrust: “The pain from my mother's death is never going to go away,” she says. “You just learn how to deal with it — it's learning to live. These are all positive songs, you know.” Positive — more in the muffled spirit of “this too shall pass” than “zip-a-dee-do-da.” The hopefulness can be found more easily when the album is seen as a whole, keying in on the post-breakup Learning How to Live and the trippy Rescue, where Williams comes to the realization that a lover is not a fixer — that he can't take away her pain, and that all he can do is “tie some ribbons in your hair / And show you that he'll always care.” By the album-closing title track, a longing Williams is braced by more realistic expectations — “who knows what the future holds?” The song (a willowy ballad in the attitude of Willie Nelson) feels more like a beginning, with an invitation that offers no promises, but at least a chance. “The songs represent my journey,” says Williams, an unguarded songwriter. “It's a desire to move on and not get stuck, and basically learn from all the heartbreak and pain.” Williams is not the only gal maverick moving on these days. Fellow non-conformists Rickie Lee Jones and Jesse Sykes have just released intriguing records, and the chronically combustible Courtney Love has one coming as well, possibly in March. Love, the widow of rock legend Kurt Cobain, apparently began writing songs for her second solo album (tentatively titled How Dirty Girls Get Clean) while in a drug-rehabilitation facility. Recorded with the help of Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan and song-doctor and producer Linda Perry, Love's record is the subject of considerable speculation, including a gushing dispatch from Fox News entertainment reporter Roger Friedman. After listening to an advance copy, Friedman described the album as a “masterpiece,” comparable to Marianne Faithfull's Broken English, Patti Smith's Horses and the Eagles' Hotel California.
Anything from the mercurial Rickie Lee Jones would be difficult to predict, but her latest ( The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard) could not have been foreseen. Originally conceived as a music and spoken-word reading of The Words (a book which translates the Bible into modern, everyday text), the project morphed when Jones improvised a song instead of reading her part. An odd duck whose career has dived and surfaced repeatedly since her jazzy-pop breakthrough in 1979 ( Chuck E's in Love), Jones rises again with Sermon, which, with its Velvet Underground vibe, could be thought of as her first rock record. Despite a considerably longer title ( Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul), the album from Sykes and her Seattle-based band the Sweet Hereafter is closest in theme to Williams's West. A visual artist-turned-singer-songwriter, Sykes embodies the moody styles of Grace Slick, Crazy Horse and Karen Dalton, while whispering on human fragilities and life's journey as an end. Sykes's record is a melancholic listen, as is West. On West, the raw emotion of Unsuffer Me (about spiritual redemption) abuts Everything Has Changed, where Williams, as she so often has in the past, loses her joy. Even Come On, a rugged kiss-off song intended to be funny, comes off as ferocious and wicked. It's nothing new for Williams, a woman of sorrow who has changed the locks on her doors many times. If reviewers dwell on her shadowy themes, it's because she has done the same. “I've dealt with this,” she says, “ever since I've been showing my songs to the world. People said that my songs were way too dark when I wrote Pineola and Sweet Old World — they were quoting my songs back then.” The thing is, there was a chance to show a brighter side of Williams on the album, but it didn't come together. Williams had newer, rosier songs — written after she met her fiancé — that didn't make it onto the record.
Now, Williams regrets the choice not to release them. “I'm starting to get a little concerned,” she confides, worrying that the album isn't telling the full story. “I was so excited about the new songs, which was like the next chapter.” Time and money were running short though, and there wasn't room on the album for songs like Tears of Joy, a “gloriously beautiful love song,” or Knowing, a “really positive song” that was briefly considered as the album's title track. Question, then: What does Williams know now that she didn't know before, and would she still be able to write with the cathartic confession for which she's celebrated? “Absolutely,” she says, before adding an expletive between “abso” and “lutely” for emphasis. “That ain't going nowhere. I mean, that's what Rescue is about. Nobody can save you from that kind of pain.”
Rodriguez Has High Hopes For Third CD, But There Is More To Come
Excerpt from www.thestar.ca - Pop Music Critic
(March 01, 2007) He's the farthest thing from a hard-luck case, but Andrew Rodriguez deserves better. Although renowned amongst fellow Canadian musicians as a gifted multi-instrumentalist and a pop songwriter par excellence, the amiable Toronto (via Montreal) tunesmith has been hounded by the "underappreciated" label for more than a decade, championed by a small circle of insiders yet terminally denied the wider public acknowledgement that everyone seems to agree he deserves. Twice as the leader of Bodega, he made acclaimed indie albums that promised the start of something bigger but never quite made it into all the right hands they should have. The first, 1997's spaced-out but melodically astute Bring Yourself Up, was picked up for international release the next year by London Records, only to fall through the cracks when the record company was swallowed up in a mega-merger with Universal Music. The next, 2001's self-released Without a Plan, marked such an evolution in Rodriguez's increasingly poised pop aesthetic that hugely sought-after uber-producer Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, the Delgados, Mogwai) agreed to take on the project, but the disc couldn't find an audience beyond a loyal cabal of cultists and critics. "To be honest with you, Without a Plan was a bit of a punch in the stomach," says Rodriguez. "I put a lot of work into the record and all my lifeblood and all my money and I toured as much as I could, and it ended up that I had a bit of a struggle with that record. Not a lot of support. "It's just one of those things. Everything can't catch on. I'm not holding anybody responsible. I think it was a great record, but who knows? Was it not getting it released properly? Not having advertising? That's what my folks think. It mystifies me a little but it's not the sort of thing you can complain about all the time. I feel like I'm very blessed in many ways, so I'm certainly not gonna let that colour my mood. I have a good life."
True enough. Although it's taken five years for Rodriguez to release his first "solo" record, the breezy and blissed-out Here Comes the Light – just out on local indie Baudelaire Records – that time wasn't spent contemplating revenge on the music industry. He joined the loopy dance outfit Dirty 30, a lark he describes as "the complete, polar opposite of what I do." He briefly brought three-part male harmonies back to pop with out-of-town chums Jason Kent (Soft Canyon) and Jason Ball (Hopeful Monster) in the Wilderness. And he was drafted by metal-lovin' Montreal pal Melissa Auf Der Maur to play guitar and keyboards in her touring band for a spell after her first album was released in 2004. Rodriguez eventually bowed out of that gig ("my first big rock tour with catering and everything") after playing to thousands-strong crowds across Europe while opening for A Perfect Circle, though, because he had nearly three albums' worth of his own songs waiting at home. In fact, so much material was amassed and "fully recorded" for Here Comes the Light – a lovingly layered, harmony-soaked slice of vaguely '70s-styled soft rock – that Rodriguez swears up and down there won't be such a long wait for his next record. "I don't know what made me do that – I just did – but I have another record ready. All I have to do is mix it and I'll be able to get that out, so there'll be less of a gap," he says. "It's really been a long time, actually. I don't know how time goes so fast. But that's something I've got a grip on now. I have so many songs and so many ideas and so much energy geared towards recording now that I can't see myself putting out anything less than an album a year for the rest of my life. And someone can hold me to that." The retirement of the Bodega name is more a cosmetic touch than anything, since Rodriguez was the only constant and principal artistic force through the band's numerous lineups. "It was just time for a change," he says. "I just felt like I was at a crossroads in my life and I felt this was the time to do it. Trust me, it wasn't an easy decision. Bodega was a name that I spent years building up and I was nervous about shedding it. I still am, in a sense. But one must carry on and do what one's instincts tell you and my intuition just said `Try it.' "In my mind, it's not something that's dead or gone. It's just a new thing."
k-os' Atlantis: Hymns For Disco
Source: Capitol/Virgin - EMI Music Canada
This week k-os' Atlantis: Hymns for Disco hit the U.S. Top Digital Albums Chart at #28 and the U.S. Top Current Albums Chart at #152. Currently on tour with Gym Class Heroes in the U.S. and fresh off his Letterman appearance; k-os is scheduled to appear on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on April 12. Critical acclaim south of the border continues to pour in, including quotes such as:
“...as warm and expansive a hip-hop record as you’ll hear all year” – Rolling Stone
“B+: an exhilarating listen” – Entertainment Weekly
“k-os dominates every genre he tackles, making creative “chaos” coherent and as catchy and unstoppable as pop.” – NY Daily News
“...give him props for mostly imagining where hip-hop might go in the future rather than recycling its past.” – Alternative Press
“...its collaborations push boundaries with eclectic nerve.” – Spin
"Leave it to a Canadian to take an American art form to a whole new atmospheric level." - Washington Times
“A party starter that will immediately please old school aficionados.” – The Source
"With his ambitious production methods and progressive lyrical styling, k-os is helping to change the way hip-hop is made." – Remix
“...ambition, wicked grooves and more hooks than you might expect.” – Billboard
k-os returns to Canada for the JUNO Awards in Saskatoon on April 1 where he will perform. He is nominated for five JUNO Awards, tied with Nelly Furtado and Billy Talent for the most nominations. He is up for Single of the Year "Sunday Morning," Pop Album of the Year "Atlantis: Hymns for Disco," Songwriter of the Year, Producer of the Year and Video of the Year "ElectriK HeaT: The Seekwill." In 2005, k-os dominated the JUNO Awards winning all three awards he was nominated for - Single of the Year "Crabbuckit," Rap Recording of the Year "Joyful Rebellion" and Video of the Year "B-Boy Stance."
Atlantis: Hymns for Disco has just come out in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, South Africa and Mexico; with an Australian release date set for March 24. European tour dates for May will be announced soon. Following these, k-os will spend his summer on the road with the Vans Warped Tour which kicks off at the end of June and includes four Canadian dates in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.
In only a few short months, the critically acclaimed Atlantis: Hymns for Disco has surpassed Platinum in Canada and has two hit songs "Sunday Morning" and "FlyPaper" all over the radio and video charts! "Flypaper" is still Top 30 at CHR Radio and Top 40 at Hot AC Radio in Canada, while "Sunday Morning" is still Top 40 at Modern Rock Radio and the video is Top 5 on the MuchMusic Chart and Top 10 on the MuchMoreMusic Chart. "Born To Run" has just gone to Rock Radio in Canada so listen up for that fierce track!
Jamie Out-Foxxes Himself
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler
At the Hummingbird Centre
In Toronto on Sunday
(Mar. 6-07) Tall of ego and short of material, Jamie Foxx half-wowed 'em at the Hummingbird. He sang (too much), impersonated (not enough) and did ribald stand-up comedy. As for his abilities, grant the performer this much: He's a better comic than R. Kelly, and a better R&B crooner than Dave Chappelle. Of course, Foxx is better known as an actor than anything else -- and a winning one at that. How successful? Let Foxx say himself, as he did so shamelessly: "Hi, I'm Jamie Foxx, Oscar winner." Oscar is king and many other things, but the little golden man doesn't sing, dance or tell jokes, so Foxx would need to work a little. He did have some help. An opening comic named Speedy was quick to the punch, roasting late-to-their-seats ticket-holders with no mercy. A turkey shoot was what it was.
And then came the headliner, bounding into view in a red leather jacket and a shirt with a giant "JF" monogram. Billed as a night of music and comedy, the Grammy-nominated Foxx integrated both from the get-go, punctuating a series of jokes on hip hop's sway within black society with DJ-ed bursts of Jim Jones's hit We Fly High, "the ghetto national anthem." Wishing to establish his street-level credentials, Foxx insisted often that although he was an awarded Hollywood celebrity, he was "ghetto too." To demonstrate differing tastes in music, Foxx offered a dead-on Mick Jagger stage-crossing rooster strut. Hold on -- Mick Jagger? Not so original, hasn't been for a while. Things got better with an R-rated trip down celebrity row, with O.J. Simpson, Michael Richards and Paris Hilton as the easy targets. Loved the bits on Britney Spears's hillbilly vagina and Prince's permed chest hair. Foxx, a star of television's In Living Color in the nineties, showed little inventiveness, however. No longer does he dream up Bill Cosby as a gangsta; he has no honed "routine" as such, counting on his own charisma and an energetic comedic rhythm instead. His passions -- sex and himself -- were relied upon. "Everybody thinks I hit Oprah," Foxx said on speculation that he had bedded the billionaire Winfrey. "If I were to hit Oprah, she'd have a brand-new episode of her favourite things."
Foxx used an intermission to change into his suave bedroom-soul persona, an act -- his chart-topping 2005 album Unpredictable notwithstanding -- not played entirely straight up. Erotic dancers were involved, and the song's lyrics, salacious as to be silly, undermined. As such, Foxx the singer never fully distanced himself from Foxx the comedian. The best tunes happened when Foxx appeared in the role that made him cocky, the title character of 2004's Ray, singing Ray Charles numbers. Appearing in a blue lamé tuxedo, black glasses and bow tie, Foxx and his 10-piece band rolled through a couple of the soul legend's songs before ending in Kanye West's hip-hop hit Gold Digger. Foxx's impersonation is uncanny, to the point where some observers questioned his Oscar win, wondering if mimicry had won out over acting. By rolling out the Charles character as a parlour trick, Foxx doesn't dissuade those critics. Ironically, he diminishes the accomplishment in which he takes so much pride.
Hero Of Ballet
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Classical Music Critic
(March 06, 2007) A weak late-afternoon sun filters into the empty dance studio as 14-year-old Janelle Timmermans plays Bach and Poulenc at the grand piano. It's nearly 5:30 p.m. Friday, but the hallways at the National Ballet School on Jarvis St. are still abuzz. A small crowd gathers outside the door. When the music stops, three girls Janelle's age gush. "I wish I could play like you," says one. "I wish I could dance like you," replies Janelle humbly. Here's a curious paradox: the dancer can't live without the pianist, but the pianist isn't recognized until he or she is playing on their own. Welcome to the world of the ballet accompanist, a great, forgotten piano career with its own special challenges. "It's an underrated profession," says National Ballet School principal pianist Marina Surgan. She has been toiling away at the school's keyboards since 1978. For Surgan and 12 others at the school, this is a full-time job. For most other ballet accompanists, it's one of several part-time gigs that help put food on the table. But the demands are no less strict. "It is an art to be a good ballet accompanist," says Surgan. You have to have a good memory, you have to know and understand the arcane world of classical ballet and its French terminology, "and you have to be able to improvise." "You have to know the dancers' physical abilities, you have to watch," she continues. "My music gives them strength."
When she first played for dancers as a student in Moscow, Surgan didn't know what to do. "I had to learn the hard way." This is one of the reasons that the National Ballet School now offers its week-long Musicians' Mentoring Program during the midwinter months. The other is to raise professional pianists' awareness of ballet accompaniment as a career option. At 14, Janelle is the youngest person to have been accepted into the six-year-old program that caters to pianists of all ages. With mother Liz as chaperone, the resident of St. Thomas, Ont., spent a week immersed in the classical ballet universe. Janelle's mentor was full-time accompanist Chris Wingrove. Janelle had one-on-one sessions with him and sat in on the six hours of classes he plays for every day. She even had a chance to sit at the keyboard during three student-teacher classes. Besides her age, Janelle is unusual in that she takes ballet lessons as part of her multi-arts education (she also studies voice and cello). Both Wingrove and Surgan say that Janelle's dance background is a substantial advantage. "What takes many people years, Janelle picked up in four days," says Wingrove. He is referring to the specific steps and movements that all students of classical ballet must learn. There are six positions of the feet, five positions of the arms and eight positions of the body. Then there are many individual steps, all with French names like tombé, chassé, frappé and glissade. The instructor calls each out by name and the dancers learn to respond by instinct – with the piano player's help. "They don't have to count the music, because it's there for them," says Surgan.
In most cases, the teachers do give the accompanist fair warning. During one two-hour class led by former National Ballet principal dancer Glenn Gilmour, Wingrove follows a handwritten plan that reads like secret code, with entries such as: "Tendus 4/4 4 + ||: 32 + 16 + 8 :|| play 4 groups." Janelle admits that, "When I dance, I don't think about music. It's just there." But things will be different when she goes back home: "Now I know." She says her week-long experience "opens a lot of doors to help decide what I may want to do later on." Janelle's other big revelation last week was realizing that she was able to improvise: the ballet accompanist's essential classroom tool. (For performance rehearsals, everyone follows a specific piece of music.) As the dancers stretch and warm up, the pianist makes up music that delivers a particular tempo, rhythm and mood appropriate for each dance step. There is no time to think. "It has to be instant," says Surgan, "You can't stop the class." Like most people who learn classical piano, Janelle hadn't been asked to improvise before. But she was willing to try. "I was able to hear the music in my head," she says. "But I couldn't get it to sound that way on the piano. Then, on Thursday, something clicked."
Canadian Music Week Kicks Off With Ear
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Cassandra Szklarski, Canadian Press
(March 07, 2007) When Canada's longest-running music conference began 25 years ago, it was the major labels that formed the backbone of the industry shmoozfest known as Canadian Music Week. Today, those industry giants are reeling from layoffs and declining sales, and the future is anything but certain, says CMW president Neill Dixon. He predicts the next big music frontier will be mobile networking, pointing to an increased demand for souped-up cellphones that serve as multi-function gadgets for people on the go. "It'll become your iPod regardless of whether you have an iPod or iPhone or whatever you're going to have, they'll all be the same thing," Dixon says. "Eventually we'll be able to have massive storage and be able to download and do all that. To me, it's pretty natural that that's where things are heading in a big way, in a fast way." A mobile phone conference in Barcelona last month heard that many of today's devices are too cumbersome to fully capitalize on the public's voracious appetite for mobile music. Warner Music chief Edgar Bronfman Jr. told the 3GSM conference that demand is poised for explosive growth, noting that excitement surrounding Apple's upcoming iPhone has "raised the bar" for handset makers.
Predicting just where the music industry is headed has become increasingly difficult, says Dixon. Ongoing leaps in technology mean dramatic shifts in the landscape occur over a matter of months, he says, noting that today's biggest stories in social online networking were barely on the horizon at last year's conference. "Last year, MySpace and YouTube weren't even mentioned. They were ... sort of just there," he says. "Now they're commonplace. There's nobody on the planet that doesn't know what they are. "All that stuff's changing, changing, changing. The one thing about this is now it's changing literally every six months now, or less. I find it really exciting because there's always new stuff to talk about." Digital innovations will be a big part of this year's conference, set to include roughly 300 speakers and welcome nearly 600 bands to 42 venues over four nights. Nettwerk honcho and digital music visionary Terry McBride will deliver the keynote address on Thursday. The festival kicks off tonight with the Independent Music Awards, an annual celebration of the best independent artists. Hot bands set to perform include Neverending White Lights, DJ Champion, Wolfmother, Cadence Weapon and The Stills. Seminal art-rock band Rough Trade will be inducted into the Indie Music Hall of Fame. Dixon says that for the first time, the show will be syndicated in parts of the country on SUN TV and broadcast on XM Satellite Radio nationally. Celebrated producer and songwriter David Foster will be inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame tomorrow. Also celebrating 25 years is the private non-profit organization FACTOR, the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records, which provides financial assistance to the Canadian independent recording industry.
Soaring With Groban
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - John Terauds, Entertainment Reporter, Review
(March 07, 2007) If anyone could be said to have a room the size of the Air Canada Centre in the palm of his hand, it was young pop crooner Josh Groban, during his second visit to Toronto on Monday. An all-ages crowd cheered his arrival following opening singer Angélique Kidjo, who had warmed up the arena with her world-inspired vibe. The 26-year-old Los Angeles boy opened with his hit single "You Are Loved," from Awake. He used the full width of the stage to reach as many fans as possible with his boyish charm. Centre stage, in an ovoid pod backed by a striped screen on which a steady stream of images and colours were projected, sat a made-in-Toronto orchestra of strings and brass, with Groban's touring veterans at the core on guitar and percussion. The audience was part of the overall light show. From a perch high above the regular seats, the near-capacity crowd was turned into a giant kaleidoscope. But the true star was Groban, all tumbling curls and manly stubble, dressed initially in a casual jacket, grey T-shirt and jeans. Awake has been a smash on the charts, and Groban liberally mined its 13 tracks. With the help of a synth keyboard and his core band, he even managed a faithful rendering of "Lullaby" and "Weeping," which he recorded with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
We already knew that Groban can sing and that he can sing while playing the piano. But, last night, he also sang "In Her Eyes" as he made an entrance into the stands two levels up, descending to the stage while shaking hands with audience members the whole way. In a further show of how comfortable he has become in the spotlight, he also managed to sing the Stephen Sondheim song "Nothing's Gonna Harm You" from the Broadway show Sweeney Todd while signing autographs from the edge of the stage. This guy knows how to work a room. The only number of the evening that didn't fly high was a duet with Kidjo. The song, "A Woman in Somalia," was meant to remind us of the hardships faced by millions of north Africans. Kidjo, a veteran performer, has a great voice and plenty of charisma, but the song let this duo down. With lyrics like "She is in a world she didn't choose / and it hurts like brand new shoes," it's surprising this song made it past the Grade 5 poetry police. Groban wasn't afraid to reach back to his first, self-titled album. When he sings in a foreign language, it's usually Italian but, last night, he also chose one French song, "Hymne à l'amour," that had been made famous by Édith Piaf six decades ago. And, to close, he made sure that he left not a single dry female eye in the place, by singing something that has become a pop anthem, "You Raise Me Up." By the time the concert ended, people's spirits could not have been higher.
Chuck D Still Won't Buy The Hype
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon
(March 3, 2007) The weight of the world used to bear down on rap, back in the late 1980s when Chuck D rhymed about his Uzi weighing a ton, with the irony that used to define hip hop, and sidekick Flavor Flav would make it plain for those who still didn't get it by admonishing "don't believe the hype." It was a different time back then. While poking holes in political correctness, Public Enemy used to attract the kind of controversy and commentary from political pundits unheard of with today's commercialized rap. At worst, anti-Jewish remarks reportedly made by group member Professor Griff put Chuck into damage control. Guest member and activist Sister Souljah's comments after the 1992 Los Angeles riots that if blacks kill blacks every day, why not turn the table on whites, also became major news and sparked a retort from then presidential candidate Bill Clinton, apparently helping his campaign. But the point was that it created dialogue, always in the context of the need for black America to finally have more say, its diversity of views to be heard and for that message to be pressed on the world. It was the era when Chuck dubbed rap "the black CNN." Yet it's amazing to wonder whether Public Enemy could even exist if it started out in post-9/11 America. "Thank God we were able to get passports when we did," said Chuck (née Carlton Douglas Ridenhour and now 46) over his cellphone. The cackle and intermittent reception added a fittingly clandestine touch. "I don't know. If Public Enemy came out now, we might not be able to get passports, because we might be considered a threat to homeland security."
You can tell when Chuck is joking. He lets out a low-level "huh." He wasn't joking this time. After more than two decades in the rap game and embarking on the group's 57th tour, Public Enemy remains one of life's great consistencies. And the iconic group is back on the fringe, having gone without an exclusive record deal with a major label for eight years. Instead, it has been releasing its new material on Chuck's independent Slam Jamz label. Chuck wouldn't want it any other way, and he'll be bringing that message to the Canadian Music Week conference in Toronto with a keynote speech next Saturday, a day after the group performs in town. "The beautiful thing about hip hop when I was coming up was that it was it against the world. I dealt with it because I like to go against the odds," he said. Even today, "alternative, independent music has a scene, and it's held as being a great parallel industry to the mainstream. But when it comes to black music, it's the mainstream or not at all." When Public Enemy first got signed to Def Jam in the 1980s, Chuck was leery, considering the music business a step back from his graphic-design aspirations at the time, even though he had been involved in the hip-hop scene for years. So it's predictable that Chuck is still leery, disparaging the black-myth-as-commodity in music today. Of course, hip hop has always been about flaunting success. But it has become so codified and commercialized that the music can seem only about the lucre. "If it was an automatic, lucrative thing, I would have probably raged and rebelled against that. If it's not automatically lucrative to all, what good is it -- if it actually doesn't help the listener as much as the participant [i.e. the performer]? The original premise was to get involved in something that everybody seemed totally against and making it strong."
There's six years of journal entries by Chuck on this topic on http://www.publicenemy.com, a body of writing (along with books he co-wrote, Fight the Power and Lyrics of a Rap Revolutionary) tailor-made for a sociology class syllabus. One journal entry in particular from Jan. 28, 2005, addresses Flavor Flav's dalliances with reality TV, specifically the embarrassing Surreal Life and spinoff series Strange Love, which depicted his relationship with Swedish Amazon Brigitte Nielsen. (Flav has since continued on with The Bachelor rip-off and self-deprecating Flavor of Love.) Chuck publicly criticized and even apologized on behalf of Public Enemy for the trivialization of family life in Strange Love, although as Chuck saw it, Flav was exploited by the show's creators. And since then, Chuck has had to reel Flav in, even if he remains a loose cannon. "What you see is what you get, man. Whatever you think he is, based on what you've seen and what you've heard, he is," Chuck said. So they are getting along? "We have no other choice but to get along. We're brothers and I'm the one in charge, and I make everybody get along. It's a simple fact. It's not really a democracy. There has to be some kind of leadership that says, hey, if we're going to do it, let's do it." As with Griff's remarks, it was yet another unintended controversy that needed to be quelled. "I look back on it as a stepping stone. I also look back in retrospect and say, well damn, with all this anti-black stuff [i.e. negative stereotypes] that's coming out, you've seen less noise about that. It's almost like the thug hustler, the drug dealer has been endorsed for the sake of having big businesses doing what they gotta do," Chuck said. "It's interesting that at a particular point with Public Enemy, we raised dialogue. And dialogue hasn't been raised in this art form since," he added. "With Griff, I think, it just splintered into a bad road, because [Griff's interview from which his remarks were taken] started off talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think people were kind of offended that we had the audacity as rappers, who were supposed to be just dumb black guys, to even raise this discussion. And I think a lot of animosity came out of that. "I learned from then to be the guy in charge, to be able to take the diplomatic road in any conflict that we head towards," Chuck said.
He also made a key point that controversy can occur when outsiders don't understand rap culture and its unspoken contexts. "If you don't really follow it and you wait for it to hit you, it's going to hit you from some controversial crime blotter, so to speak. And that's going to always get the biggest piece of news, because [people] haven't been keeping up.” Hearing Chuck explain this is like hearing the man back in the late 1980s. And that's partly the reason why Public Enemy has gone from being unequivocally rap's most important group with the release of the seminal 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions (To Hold Us Back) to falling so far out of fashion in the 1990s that it was tolerated, at best, like an overearnest older brother. This particularly came with Dr. Dre's 1992 album The Chronic, which marked hip hop's 180-degree turn away from Public Enemy's characteristic clutter, or even with the jazz minimalism of A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory the previous year. Yet even for those who barely paid attention after the group's height, there were always signs of greatness from the guitar-groove-funeral-march of the 1994 single Give It Up to the protest-inspired title track of 1998's He Got Game. And if there was ever a time to rediscover Public Enemy, it's now -- especially, Chuck would add, that pioneer rappers Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five will be the first rap group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this month. "It's like a fly in the buttermilk now. It's like, damn, now the whole buttermilk has to go," he said. Run DMC should be following soon. And why not Public Enemy? "It's like you bring one in, then here come the rest." As Chuck gets older, though, he'll say one or two remarks seemingly uncharacteristic of the Chuck D 20 years ago, such as when he makes the comparison of Public Enemy as the Rolling Stones of rap or even professes that he cares about accolades from the larger music community. Yet, as he explained, "I like to be judged by total rock-'n'-roll standards, as opposed to being evaluated based on rap, hip hop, and what we think of rap right now." It just proves that you can't understand, until you hear the man.
The best of CMW
Some 500 music acts swarm over 37 downtown venues next week, starting with Wednesday's Independent Music Awards (headlined by the Stills) at the Docks. What gets you into the best shows? One wristband and a handy guide to the top showcases, as chosen by music writers Robert Everett-Green and Brad Wheeler.
Vincent Van Go Go. (Thur., 2:45 a.m., Rivoli). The Danes seem to love CMW, and always send something unexpected. Vincent Van Go Go offers a funky Nordic take on Brazilian beats that could be just the thing for the end of a long club crawl. If you can't stay up that late on a weeknight, check out Toronto band the Cliks at 11 for some conscious, fun-loving, grrl-positive rock.
Mother Mother (Fri., 8 p.m., Horseshoe). The Vancouver pop group shows that even a three-month winter cloud cover can't dispel the good cheer of a clever band that knows how to have fun. Mother Mother's debut disc abounds in good tunes and witty changes of tone. Stick around after their early set for music by Peter Elkas, You Say Party! We Say Die! and Cadence Weapon.
The High Dials (Fri., 11 p.m., Silver Dollar). If television commercials are the new radio, the Montreal psychedelic popsters top the charts with their chipper Rogers-ad "c'mon c'mon" song.
Young Galaxy and Apostle of Hustle (Fri., 11 p.m. and midnight, El Mocambo). Andrew Whiteman's slow-burning Apostle band puts some live hustle into songs from his new sophomore disc at midnight, preceded by the spacious, layered compositions of Montreal's Young Galaxy.
Ox (Sat., 11 p.m., Silver Dollar). High jinks and high energy come from the Sunparlour Players, the Barmitzvah Brothers and the United Steel Workers of Montreal, but be sure to check out the impervious Ox, who slow things down with road-weary indie rock and alt-country.
Pawa Up First (Sat., midnight, Sneaky Dee's). It's wide-screen time at Dee's, as the atmospheric instrumental quartet from Montreal makes its last stop before flying down to Austin in pursuit of fame and fortune at SXSW. .
Jenn Grant (Sat., 1 a.m., Horseshoe). Dreamer, the addictive single by this unclassifiable young chanteuse from Halifax, proves that she owes us a full-length record, and soon. You might as well shorten the wait by catching her set at the 'Shoe, where she will doubtless air some of the songs from what could be the debut album of the year. .
Wristbands ($35 at Ticketmaster) get you into all of the shows, though some of the showcases have only limited room for pass-holders. More info: http://www.cmw.net
Sony Lay Off Staff In Canada
Excerpt from www.thestar.ca - Staff Reporter
(March 01, 2007) Music industry giant EMI has laid off an undisclosed number of Canadian staff as it confronts trimming $200 million as part of restructuring. There have also been widespread layoffs at Sony BMG Music Canada's Toronto headquarters, but the company is tight-lipped about the size of the cutbacks and the reasons for it. Affected staff are not talking. Company spokespeople refused comment yesterday about the future of its Toronto headquarters and whether more layoffs are coming. But at EMI, a spokesperson said many of the layoffs stem from the company's decision to no longer manufacture and distribute compact discs. Instead, it will outsource that work to an unnamed third party. Senior management changes and reduction to overhead are also part of the cuts. Despite the cutbacks, EMI plans to increase its digital expertise and capabilities, said Jeanne Meyer, senior vice-president of corporate communications for EMI North America. In the last decade, the music business has been extremely volatile, Meyer noted, and has been particularly affected by piracy and the growth of illegal file-sharing services. But while illegal downloading continues to be a concern and the CD business has declined, downloadable digital formats are growing rapidly, she said. BMG remains committed to maintaining its artist and repertoire activities, Meyer said, and will continue to find and develop new talent from Canada.
Ludacris Foundation Receives Award
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(March 2, 2007) *National Runaway Switchboard (NRS), the federally-designated national communication system for homeless and runaway youth, has chosen rapper Ludacris and his foundation to receive its 2007 Spirit of Youth Award. The NRS lauded the Ludacris Foundation for its work and dedication in helping America’s youth, particularly through the sentiment offered in his latest single, “Runaway Love.” The duet with Mary J. Blige tells various stories of kids who are driven to leave home due to hopelessness and despair. "Since the release of 'Runaway Love,' Ludacris and The Foundation's commitment to helping runaway youth and letting people know about the help they can receive by calling 1-800-RUNAWAY has only increased," said NRS executive director Maureen Blaha. Since Ludacris joined forces with NRS in late 2006, the organization has experienced a 17 percent increase in calls, and a spike in traffic on its Web site, http://www.1800runaway.org. The announcement from NRS comes as Ludacris and his family deal with the passing of his father, Wayne Bridges, in an Atlanta hospital on Sunday.
Trade Getting Due As Canadian Innovators
Source: Canadian Press
(March 03, 2007) When Canada's sexually charged band Rough Trade brought its gender-bending, punk-inspired sound to the charts more than 25 years ago, its lewd and crude lyrics were banned from radio, recalls singer Carole Pope. Now the band's seminal CD Weapons (1983) is being re-released and the subversive group is being honoured as pioneers in indie music. Pope says there's no doubt Toronto's bold club scene featuring her and Kevan Staples opened doors for unconventional artists today. "We definitely did (open doors) because there weren't that many strong women out there," Pope says by phone from her home in Los Angeles. "People don't even know about that scene or really how influential Toronto was ... That whole '70s, '80s scene was Toronto, New York and London." Pope, a husky-voiced lesbian once known as the "raunch queen" for her explicit lyrics, and her androgynous partner Staples burst onto the club scene in the '70s with outrageously titled songs such as "I'm Getting Dry H---ped in the Hall" and "Lipstick on Your D--stick." Their antics drew a crowd of outcasts and artists that included Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Alice Cooper and Elton John, and in the early '80s, the group found mainstream success with synth-driven hits "High School Confidential" and "All Touch." "There was such a ready audience for it," Pope recalls of the band's brash sexual politics. "People were really hungry for something different and we always had a sense of humour about it, about everything we did." Pope says it's gratifying to now be considered one of the Canadian music industry's early innovators, and is flattered the band will be inducted into Canadian Music Week's Indies Hall of Fame at an evening showcase Wednesday. On the whole, current popular music is disappointing, she says. "Mostly, I think everything is regurgitated now," says Pope. "A lot of music, I've heard it before. Two or three times."
Leads Country Music Nominees
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(March 05, 2007) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – George Strait led the nominees announced Monday for the Academy of Country Music Awards with eight nominations, including entertainer of the year and top male vocalist. Vocal duo Brooks & Dunn got seven nominations and Rascal Flatts had six. The announcement was made at the Country Music Hall of Fame and aired live on CBS' "The Early Show." The nominees were introduced by Kenny Chesney – the reigning ACM entertainer of the year – and the duo Sugarland. "Whenever you get nominated, it's a reflection of a lot of people's hard work," Chesney said. Carrie Underwood received five nominations and Big & Rich got four. The 42nd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be presented May 15 in Las Vegas. Strait also was nominated as artist and producer for the album ``It Just Comes Natural" and the single "Give it Away," which also was nominated for song of the year. Brooks & Dunn were honoured in the entertainer of the year and the top vocal duo categories, and their "Hillbilly Deluxe" was nominated for album of the year. Rascal Flatts got nominations for entertainer of the year, top vocal group, best album for "Me and My Gang" and best single for ``What Hurts the Most."
Mira Nair Had One Foot In Bollywood And
The Other In Manhattan
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Jennie Punter
(Mar. 7-07) Mira Nair is not in the house. It seems the award-winning director of Salaam Bombay! (1988) and Monsoon Wedding (2001) won't arrive in time to do a Q&A after the preview screening of her latest film, The Namesake (opening across North America on Friday). There is a murmur of disappointment as the house lights dim -- but what a difference two hours makes. After 30 years in the life of the Gangulis family unfolds on the big screen -- the action moving effortlessly between the throbbing cities of Calcutta and Manhattan with a gamut of events, from small to life-changing -- the credits roll and there is Nair, elegant and beaming, ready to tell the appreciative, standing-room-only crowd about a film that is the Indian-born, Manhattan-based filmmaker's most personal to date.
Nair's answers, like her films, are economical yet dense with information and meaning. An adjunct professor of film at Columbia's University's School of Art, Nair, who began her film career making documentaries, practises what she preaches. Sitting down for an interview the next morning in a Toronto hotel, she explains why The Namesake -- despite all the time, space and emotions traversed -- never feels rushed or gives the impression that it's skimming over important stuff. "I tell my students every scene and every frame must have a clear intention," she says. "In my films, every scene has to do at least three things and as seamlessly as possible. For instance, the entire India section of the film was shot in 11 days, including everything in Calcutta and crossing the country to film at the Taj Mahal in Agra. There is a lot of planning and actual design in order to achieve that in 11 days," she says. "It's always like that with my films and money -- except for the next one, which has loads of millions." The "next one" is Shantaram, the story of an Australian heroin addict -- played by Johnny Depp, also the film's co-producer, who reportedly bought the rights to the novel for a cool $2-million U.S. -- who escapes from prison and finds redemption in the slums of India. Besides Shantaram, now in pre-production, Nair will also direct Gangsta M.D., a remake of the 2003 Bollywood hit Munnabhai M.B.B.S. Both these movies may have hit the multiplex earlier, had Nair not arbitrarily chosen to read The Namesake, Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri's debut novel, on a flight to India, where she was filming the finale of her adaptation of Thackeray's Vanity Fair (2004). "I had just lost my mother-in-law, who lived with us and was like mother to me," recalls Nair, who is married to Uganda-born Mahmood Mamdani, an author and professor of government at Columbia. "We lost her to medical malpractice and had to bury her the next day. It turned out to be a freaky Siberian-cold winter and there she was, an African woman who grew up in red earth of East Africa, being buried in the snow. I had never experienced the finality of death and loss in that way."
The Namesake uncannily captured the director's experience of mourning the loss of a parent in a foreign land. "But this novel was also a banquet of 30 years and two cities that were very formative for me," continues Nair, who moved to the United States at 19 to attend Harvard. "You have the cornucopia of Calcutta in the 1970s, and the very cultured Bengali community, then the hot pulse of today's Manhattan and its political protests and art galleries, a place where a South Asian today has a confidence you never saw 15, 25 years ago when I began." Nair was financed and committed to two films but pushed everything to the back burner to make The Namesake, which tells the love story of Ashoke Gangulis (Irfan Khan, whom Nair discovered 20 years ago and cast in Salaam Bombay!) and his wife Ashima (Tabu, "the Cate Blanchett of India"), who leave Calcutta in the 1970s to make a new life in New York. The narrative then shifts to the experiences of their son Gogol -- named after his father's favourite writer -- who initially rejects much of his cultural heritage to follow his own path. The casting of Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) as Gogol was heavily influenced by Nair's 15-year-old son. But the comic actor's hunger to break from stereotypical characters and tackle a more dramatic role also impressed Nair. "I wondered if I should cast a Bollywood actor who had lived abroad or cast two actors to play teenage Gogol and 20s Gogol," she recalls. "But Kal gave me the key -- he could do both. This was the film of his life and he was devoted to it." Nair, who constantly moves between two worlds both physically and in the stories she tells, experienced a Bollywood moment in the streets of Manhattan while making The Namesake. "At Bollywood films there is always a mob scene -- you must sift through the chaos to make it work in the frame," she explains. "But interestingly we had difficulty filming exteriors in Manhattan with Kal because people were constantly yelling, 'Kumar, Kumar.' I have never seen anything like it. "Travelling around with a guy who is a cult figure to 15-year-olds is like travelling with a little piece of God," Nair adds with a smile.
U.S. Senators Demand Canada Get Tough On
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Lauren Krugel, Canadian Press
(March 07, 2007) Two U.S. senators have written a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, demanding Canada take a tougher stand on movie piracy. "The digital recording of movies before or during their initial theatrical release is one of the most serious piracy problems faced by the motion picture industry," write Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) in a letter dated March. 1. Copies of the letter were also sent to Justice Minister Robert Nicholson, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier and Heritage Minister Bev Oda. Feinstein and Cornyn are urging Ottawa to enact anti-piracy legislation similar to a bill the two senators introduced in 2003. The Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act, passed into law in 2005, bans unauthorized recordings in movie theatres and prohibits making pre-released versions of movies available on the Internet – acts punishable by jail time and fines. It is currently not a criminal offence in Canada to make illegal recordings of movies in theatres.
In order to prosecute a pirate for recording in Canadian theatres, there must be proof that the copy of the film is being made for commercial purposes. The person caught recording with a camcorder can simply say they are making a copy for personal use – a loophole that allows theatre owners to do little more than tell the pirate to leave. Feinstein and Cornyn said since the United States enacted the anti-piracy law, pirates have taken their business north of the border. They say piracy in Canada increased by 24 per cent between 2006 and 2005. The senators claim that films illegally pirated in Canada has been found in at least 45 countries. Twentieth Century Fox says Canadian theatres were the source for nearly half of illegal recordings worldwide at one point in 2006. In 2005, movie piracy cost the Canadian film industry US$225 million and the Canadian government US$34 million, the senators wrote, citing a Motion Picture Association of America study. Last April, the MPAA put Canada on a watch list of high-risk countries that included longtime offenders like China, Malaysia and India. Pirated recordings, sold for as little as $2, can move from theatre to sale on DVD stands around the world in less a day. "If Canada does not criminalize illicit camcording, we are afraid that illegal pirating will continue to mushroom in your country," Feinstein and Cornyn wrote. "While a new law will not stop the worldwide problem of film camcording, it will certainly help end this most egregious form of copyright piracy."
John Belushi - 25 Years Gone
Excerpt from www.thestar.ca -
(March 03, 2007) He was found in bed, naked and curled in a fetal position, damp sheets twisted around his lifeless body, pillow over his head. Repeated attempts to revive him failed. By the time he was discovered in the early afternoon of March 5, 1982 – 25 years ago this week – John Belushi had likely been dead for hours, a squalid scene that eerily echoed the drug-related demise of the also dangerously funny Lenny Bruce 16 years earlier. (Richard Pryor's near-fatal, drug-induced self-immolation was still a fresh memory of only two years past, while Sam Kinison, struggling with his own sobriety, would ironically be killed by a teenaged drunk driver a decade later. Apparently, the dangerously funny pose a real threat only to themselves.) It was 12:30 in the afternoon by the time Bill Wallace, Belushi's babysitter and personal trainer, found him in his tiny bungalow suite at L.A.'s Chateau Marmont. The condition of the body – swollen, protruding tongue, distended bladder, the onset of rigor, the discoloration where blood had settled – seemed to indicate the time of death at around 10:30 a.m.
This roughly jibed with the testimony of the last person to see John Belushi alive, the Hamilton-born groupie and sometime back-up singer Cathy Evelyn Smith, who admitted to shooting him up (he would not touch a needle himself) with one of several "speedballs," a potent cocktail of cocaine and heroin, at around 3:30 that morning. Autopsy results indicate another, fatal injection around five hours later – Smith, who later served 15 months for involuntary manslaughter, did not leave the bungalow until 10:15, at which point she swore Belushi was still breathing (albeit with some difficulty). The results remain somewhat contradictory – notably, Belushi's body temperature at the time of the coroner's examination, around 4:30 that afternoon, was 95 degrees, which would indicate his time of death at around 1 p.m., a half-hour after he was found by Wallace. Belushi's weight, combined with cocaine's tendency to elevate body heat, could account for that discrepancy. But then, in life, John Belushi always did burn a little bit brighter and a little hotter than most ...
A quarter century later, that flame still burns bright, kept alive by an avid fan base that now spans generations – many of them not even born when Belushi was in his living prime. Which – if one were to try to pinpoint the exact moment – the peak, the zenith of Belushi's lamentably short career, would have to be Jan. 24, 1979, his 30th birthday, by which point the four-year-old Saturday Night Live had become a certified pop phenomenon, its weekly audience approaching 20 million. The live Blues Brothers album, Briefcase Full of Blues, topped the Billboard charts, with a million copies sold in the weeks before Christmas, and another two million after. Meanwhile, Belushi's break-out film, Animal House had, after only six months in wide release, become the highest-grossing comedy ever. Animal House and the subsequent Blues Brothers movie are today considered comedy classics. The first, unprecedented season of Saturday Night, after years in edited hour-long syndication, has just been made available, uncut as originally broadcast, in a DVD boxed set – which includes an already full-blown Belushi's astoundingly self-assured taped audition. John Belushi's colourful life and tragically premature death have been celebrated and strip-mined over and over again, in print, film, video and song – from the Grateful Dead's "West L.A. Fadeaway" to, most recently and authoritatively, Belushi, a handsome anecdotal history compiled by his widow and high-school sweetheart, Judith Belushi Pisano, with National Lampoon Radio Hour producer Tanner Colby.
The book, released in 2005, was intended as the ultimate response to the perceived "betrayal" of Watergate journalist Bob Woodward's 1985 Belushi biography, Wired. "I once mistakenly gave the key to John's story to the wrong person," Pisano explains in the introduction. "This was a chance to get it right." Appalled and outraged by the end result – the book is undeniably myopic and judgmental – the late comedian's nearest and dearest protectively closed ranks to all outsiders seeking to further exploit John's memory. Predictably, then, requests for anniversary interviews from the likes of SNL creator Lorne Michaels and longtime pal Danny Aykroyd were left unanswered.
As he often did when he was conflicted, frustrated or depressed, Belushi had slid back into the self-destructive habits he had recently foresworn. He had come to L.A. to work on a re-write of a romantic caper comedy to which he had become attached, Noble Rot, set against the backdrop of the California wine industry. In fact, Bill Wallace had come to the Marmont that morning to deliver a typewriter Belushi had requested from manager Bernie Brillstein. But the studio – Paramount, under Michael Eisner – had other ideas. Locked into a "pay or play" deal, they had hoped to re-direct his efforts into a Joy of Sex adaptation that had been kicking around for several years, and would have required him, at one point, to appear in diapers. The morning he died, he was scheduled to attend a follow-up meeting to seal the deal.
Belushi's career had plateaued with the relative failure of his last two films, Continental Divide, in which he played a crusty Chicago columnist who falls for a tree-hugging eagle-freak (a miscast Blair Brown), and Neighbors, a dark suburban comedy that had he and co-star collaborator Aykroyd switching roles at the last minute, and arguing with director John Avildsen every step of the way. Still, there was a light at the end of that tunnel – a ghostly white light, in the form of Ghostbusters, a supernatural satire close to Aykroyd's heart that he was writing as a vehicle for himself, Belushi (in the Bill Murray role) and emergent SNL star Eddie Murphy. Ironically, it would go on to replace Animal House as the highest-grossing comedy ever. "I wrote the first draft with Belushi in mind," Aykroyd told me in an interview at the time (this was a good year before Wired brought down the cone of silence on the subject of John). "In fact, I was in the middle of typing one of his lines when I got `the call.'
That call brought to an abrupt and premature end what was, in Aykroyd's words, "the partnership of the century . . . a full friendship, no dimension of it unexplored except the sexual." And it was virtually instantaneous, a meeting of like mind and kindred spirit that sparked immediately the day they met in 1973, when Belushi was here in town scouting talent for the National Lampoon Radio Hour. Twelve hours later, bonded for life, they ended up head-to-head in Aykroyd's infamous local boozecan, The 505 – the night, they say, the Blues Brothers were born. The timing was more than fortuitous. Propelled and prepared by their shared Second City stage experience – Aykroyd here, Belushi in Chicago – they found themselves at the forefront of a rock 'n' roll revolution that was about to overtake and dominate TV comedy, and from there, through movies like Animal House, Caddyshack, Meatballs and the Blues Brothers, popular culture as a whole. As confident as he appears to be in the SNL DVD's archived audition, it actually took some time for Belushi to find his place on Saturday Night. For Aykroyd it was somehow easier – he quickly became the lynchpin utility man of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players. Belushi, though he appeared in the opening sketch of the very first show, only started to come into his own over time ... his scary Joe Cocker impression (a holdover from the satirical stage musical Lemmings) did not debut until Episode 3, his brilliant Brando in Episode 9, the first of the Samurai sketches in Episode 7 ... but it was not until Episode 16 that the real Belushi began to emerge – in the guise of the Weekend Update weatherman who works himself up into a frothing frenzy. This coming some six weeks after another significant debut, the original incarnation of the Blues Brothers, an act they had been honing as an SNL audience warm-up, only with bee costumes (and oh, how he hated those bee costumes) instead of the customary black suits and fedoras.
Had Belushi lived, he would have ultimately had the Blues Brothers to thank for salvaging his stalled career – particularly after 1992, when Aykroyd joined forces with Hard Rock Café entrepreneur Isaac Tigrett to franchise the characters as the House of Blues, a string of massively successful restaurants, clubs, concert venues, hotels and casinos. As it has for Aykroyd, the thriving enterprise would have afforded him the ultimate luxury of being a bit more selective about his acting choices – which, like Aykroyd, would have inevitably led him out of the forest of high-concept comedies into more serious and/or substantial character roles. Indeed, even at the time of his death, he had already been signed for a minor straight role in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, opposite his pal Robert DeNiro (a late-night visitor, as was Robin Williams, the Marmont's Bungalow No. 3 on that fateful night). As easily as he could make us laugh, you've got to know he could have made us cry.
And that may be the secret of his enduring impact – for though it is the volatile, potentially dangerous, gonzo comedy guerrilla that we tend to remember, it is in fact the warm and fuzzy, unreservedly accessible, charmingly, vulnerably human Belushi that we came to love. No matter how outrageous or over-the-top the character or impression, there was no mistaking the passionate core, the playful essence, the emblematic raised eyebrow that betrayed the real John Belushi lurking underneath. "Most celebrities get put on a pedestal," suggest Pisano and Colby in their book. "John got put on a barstool, and everyone in the country lined up to buy the next round." That was his gift. And also his curse.
Just Too Busy To Take All Of Hollywood's Calls
Excerpt from www.thestar.com
(March 04, 2007) VANCOUVER–Not to burst Toronto's fragile bubble on the heels of last week's The Incredible Hulk blockbuster announcement, but what if the location decision came down to Vancouver just being too busy? "You hate to turn it away," said Don Cott with a chuckle last week. As Canadian vice-president of the American-based Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, Cott sees a steady and successful film and television industry on the West Coast – so much so that the latest Marvel Comics movie had to go elsewhere. "There certainly wasn't studio space. Studio space is virtually full and they need a lot of stage space," said Cott. That's despite Vancouver's eight purpose-built studio facilities in the Lower Mainland, including the aptly named 300,000-square-foot Mammoth Studios in suburban Burnaby. Movie-making giant 20th Century Fox has already booked the space – used in the last year to film Night at the Museum and the upcoming sequel to Fantastic Four – until the end of 2007 for a yet-to-be-named blockbuster project. The Hulk announcement — along with its more than $100 million (U.S.) budget – is bringing glimmers of hope in Toronto to an industry that saw a 23 per cent drop of production revenue in 2006 and an estimated loss of $400 million (Canadian) during the recent six-week ACTRA strike. Meanwhile, confidence, cautious as it may be, is brimming here. "Frankly, Toronto always looked down on us and all of a sudden, we blew right past them," says Don Ramsden, a Vancouver-based business agent for a B.C. film crew workers. B.C. Film Commissioner Susan Croome cautions that "we're optimistic about 2007, but we really don't know how the year is going to turn out until producers make the decisions" about where to film.
Other industry insiders, however, expect 2007 to be as good as 2006 for the 30,000 people affected. Last year's figures, out later this month, are expected to be near those of 2005 – and that year in B.C., the industry generated more than $1.2 billion in revenue, mostly from foreign features and TV series shooting around the Lower Mainland. Among North American production areas, Vancouver runs only behind Los Angeles and New York. With labour uncertainty south of the border as the writers and actors bargain separately with the producers over similar issues that caused the ACTRA strike, B.C.'s copasetic working environment could set the stage for a rewarding year. "The track record has been if you head into the bargaining down there, they try to build up a library of stuff that's already been shot," said Cott. Tax incentives, expanding infrastructure, climate and proximity to L.A. are all factors in B.C.'s success, but stability is the boring buzzword. In a province notorious for its labour squabbles, producers and unions are at peace. The contract between Cott's group and the Union of B.C. Performers – it has a separate deal from the rest of ACTRA – concludes this month, but Cott said the groundwork for an agreement is there. (The union says it's fighting for wage parity with performers from the rest of the country.) The B.C. Council of Film Unions, a joint labour council representing 8,000 members from camera operators to Teamsters, has an agreement until 2009. Ramsden, who represents one of the unions within the council, said this stability has been brewing for more than a decade as unions developed long-term contracts with Hollywood producers instead of "one-off deals" by their counterparts in Toronto. "We got very sophisticated very early about that process," said Ramsden. This labour stability has brought confidence and lucrative capital to B.C. "We see post-production facilities migrating from Los Angeles up to Vancouver," said Peter Leitch, chair of the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C. and president of North Shore Studios, which operates Mammoth. "If you think that the industry is only going to be here for a few years, you're not going to be building those studios and post-production facilities, but we see that happening."
Leitch said the association is keeping tabs on Toronto and Montreal to make sure B.C. doesn't make the same mistakes as those two cities. "If your business goes down to certain level for a long period of time, you're going to lose your labour force and infrastructure and it's very hard to build it back up," he added. "It's much easier to maintain it once you've got it." Leitch also keeps an eye on Toronto's Filmport, the new studio slated to open this year. It could attract big-projects but Leitch said the B.C. industry will be drawing more domestic production, which gravitates around Toronto. Marian Wihak, a Toronto-based production designer with 25 years of experience across the country, said she's seen a lot of business that's usually slated for her hometown go elsewhere in the country – she's now working on a Canadian movie-of-the-week in Vancouver. Working with crews here, Wihak said she's getting a strong sense that people know Vancouver is moving ahead of Toronto right now, which wasn't the case years ago. "Vancouver and Toronto, in ways, compete for the same business," said Cott. "It's just a matter of stage space availability and labour relations."
T.O.'S Film Industry Ails, Quebec's Advantages Have A Special Effect
Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
(March 04, 2007) Montreal - The flash and steel of refurbished industrial buildings in Montreal's multimedia district don't much resemble the craggy rock cliffs of Sparta, but for people controlling purse strings at Warner Bros., this was an ideal place to shoot a full-on war set in Ancient Greece. Hitting theatres on Friday, 300 is an eye-popping adaptation of comic-book master Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name, which tells the tale of the fabled battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartan warriors stood up against the Persian emperor Xerxes' million-strong army. Montreal, it turns out, takes after the underdog Spartan army in skills and determination. Quebec's combination of unmatched visual-effects expertise and an aggressive tax credit through the Quebec government make it a worthy competitor against giant forces of unlimited size and resources – namely, big Hollywood CGI studios. Director Zack Snyder shot the epic completely on green screen, in a disused locomotive refurbishment lot in Montreal, using lesser-known actors – Scottish actor Gerard Butler (Dear Frankie, Phantom of the Opera) plays King Leonidas, and Brazilian soap-opera star and recent Lost cast addition Rodrigo Santoro is Persian emperor Xerxes. Snyder, in an interview in Los Angeles last week, emphasized that his intention with 300 was to create a hyper-real world out of Miller's drawings that are more of an imaginary riff on history rather than a precise retelling. In order to do that, Snyder shot his actors on rudimentary sets, over 60 days on green screen, and then worked on the "look" of his footage in post-production, where he also added CGI landscapes, weather and other elements. "I didn't want the movie to look like it was just spit out of a computer," said Snyder. "I wanted it to look organic – (Miller's work) feels dirty ... it's gritty, has a dark quality to it. Though I shot the movie on film, we actually added grain to the (footage), because I didn't want it to be so CGI," Snyder said.
Snyder and his producers decided to do all this complex post-production work at Hybride, a 95-person boutique operation in a refurbished mansion in the Laurentian village of St-Sauveur, 45 minutes north of Montreal. The locally owned company is known for its work on another Miller adaptation, Robert Rodriguez's Sin City (2005), though Rodriguez shot that film in his own facility in Texas before it came to Canada for post-production. Hybride, despite its modest dimensions, is one of the premier effects houses for Hollywood productions, sometimes competing directly with George Lucas' behemoth Industrial Light and Magic – without an office or a sales rep on the West Coast. Pierre Raymond, Hybride's president, is proud of the differences between his business model and that of the big American visual effects houses. "In order to be competitive with the Americans, we had to develop new techniques and processes for doing the work, so that our production values are comparable to the American houses, and our price/quality ratio is vastly superior. What we've also learned is how to deal differently with the client, we listen better, we're not pretentious." It's not only the special effects expertise that draws production crews. The tax credit incentive is slightly higher in Quebec than in Ontario and British Columbia, which may be why films such as Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan biopic, starring Cate Blanchett, and Blades of Glory with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder, chose to film in Montreal. Whiteout, a big-budget thriller starring Kate Beckinsale, will start shooting next month. "We went to Montreal especially for the fantastic tax incentive that is offered by Quebec to filmmakers – that's not only a production incentive, it's also a visual effects incentive," said 300 producer Jeffrey Silver. Quebec offers an extra 20 per cent labour-based visual effects tax credit for foreign producers.
That was why 300 did its production as well as its post-production work in La Belle Province, Silver said, calling Montreal "the ideal place in the world to do this." For those used to working in sunny Hollywood, it made for some surreal experiences, he added. "On the last day of shooting, we just finished our last shot of a bunch of dead Spartans lying there, and then okay, that's it, it's 6 a.m. in the morning, and we all walked outside, everyone's sweating in their loincloth ... into this big blizzard and had a snowball fight. It was pretty awesome."
Director Denzel In Pre-Production On
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(March 2, 2007) *Denzel Washington is in the midst of pre-production on his second directorial effort, “The Great Debaters,” based on the true story of a professor at historically black Wiley College in Texas who inspired students to form the school's first debate team in 1935. Washington will also star in the film as the professor, Melvin B. Tolson. His team of skilled debaters went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in mid-May, according to Production Weekly, with “Stomp the Yard” star Columbus Short in talks to play one of Tolson's students. In the meantime, Washington will next be seen in the film “American Gangster” as Frank Lucas, the real life drug lord who smuggled heroin into Harlem during the 1970s by hiding the stash inside the coffins of American soldiers returning from Vietnam.
Into Great Silence (Die Grosze Stille)
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
(March 1, 2007) *Who would ever think that you could make a movie about an order of self-effacing monks who've taken not only a vow of celibacy, but also of silence? Philip Groning, the director of Into Great Silence would, that's who. It was over 20 years ago when he first approached the Carthusians, an ascetic sect about shooting a documentary at the Grande Charteuse, a modest monastery nestled in amidst the majestic French Alps. Finally, some 16 years later, Groning got his answer, a "Yes," though it was contingent on his complying with certain conditions. He would have to work without a crew, and film by natural light. He agreed, and moved into the monks' quarters, capturing every aspect of their lives for a year, from prayer and meditation and other religious rituals, to spiritual study, to the drudgery of everyday tasks, to cooking and gardening, to weekly walks around the picturesque grounds of the hermitage.
For full review by Kam Williams, go HERE!
Janet Jackson To Star In Next Tyler
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
(February 28, 2007) **Last seen on the big screen opposite Eddie Murphy in 2000’s “Nutty Professor II: The Clumps,” Janet Jackson will return to movie theatres as the star of Tyler Perry’s next feature, “Why Did I Get Married." Also starring Sharon Leal and singer Jill Scott, the film is based on Perry’s stage play about a couple who goes away with friends every winter to examine their marriages in a group setting. One of the wives brings along a sexy young temptress who causes plenty of trouble for the couples. Shooting is set to begin March 5 in Whistler, British Columbia; Vancouver; and then Atlanta, where Perry recently opened his own studio, reports Variety. The filmmaker is writing, directing and producing the picture for Lionsgate. Perry is currently in theatres with "Daddy's Little Girls," which has grossed $25.1 million since its Valentine’s Day release.
Blair Underwood To Direct Ving Rhames
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com -
(Feb. 28, 2007) **Actor Blair Underwood will step behind the camera to direct “The Bridge to Nowhere,” an indie drama starring Ving Rhames in the story of four blue-collar men who team with a destitute prostitute to create a high-priced escort service. Underwood’s feature directing debut is scheduled to begin next month in Pittsburgh with Kristoff St. John of the CBS soap “The Young and the Restless” as one of the film’s producers. The project is under Smithfield Street Productions, headed by Mike Wittlin and Brian Hartman. Underwood has previously directed five music videos and a short called, "The Second Coming." He's producing and starring in supernatural thriller "My Soul to Keep" for Fox Searchlight and producing the TLC series "Easy Money" with his partner Tommy Morgan Jr. for their company, Intrepid Inc. Underwood's currently in CBS' "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and is slated to star in the upcoming HBO series "In Treatment."
Little Mosque Steps On The Gas
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald
(March 3, 2007) In a bold move, CBC-TV's fledgling – and much-hyped – new sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie, has lured two top writing guns from its comedic rival, CTV's Corner Gas. Last week, Corner Gas – which has been pulling in a weekly average 1.64 million viewers since January, making it far and away the most-watched Canadian comedy on TV – lost two of its creative team's pivotal players: show runner, Paul Mather, who oversaw the series' day-to-day workings; and story editor Rob Sheridan, who has also worked on Showcase's Naked Josh. In an interview, Mr. Mather said he jumped ship primarily because he couldn't resist the challenge of trying to nip at Corner Gas's heels in season two. The 37-year-old Mr. Mather is an especially bright star in network TV today – he is also the head writer of CBC's Rick Mercer Report, and, along with Corner Gas co-creators Brent Butt, Mark Farrell, David Story and Virginia Thompson, has won a pair of best-comedy Geminis for his work on Corner Gas. But he seems unrepentant about his decision to move to the competition. “Sure the two shows are rivals,” says Mr. Mather. “We both want our shows to be the best. And I'm going to give them a run for their money. When people tune in to Mosque this fall, I think they're really going to dig it. I'm going to bust my hump to earn the right to be slightly patronizing to my friends at Gas,” jokes Mr. Mather, who has worked on Corner Gas the past four seasons (the show's season finale is March 12). Mr. Sheridan, whose other credits include The Red Green Show, was a story editor on Gas during its fourth season. Both reported for Mosque duty officially last week. Little Mosque is one of the few bright lights on CBC's prime-time television schedule, and has been pulling in an average audience of 1.23 million on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. – a remarkably solid performer for the beleaguered public broadcaster, which has watched a slew of its new TV series get hammered in ratings over the last few years.
CTV declined to comment on the defections, but pointed out that the Monday-night Corner Gas, set in fictional Dog River, Sask., reached a season high of 1.8 million viewers last Monday. Little Mosque, based in make-believe Mercy, Sask., pulled in an audience of 1.03 million. But Mosque has been hitting a few bumps in recent weeks (in part, it's true, thanks to the reappearance of CTV's American Idol). Last week, it drew only 906,000 viewers. Its eighth and final episode of the season airs Wednesday. At CTV, Kevin White, whose earlier credits have included CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes, will replace Mr. Mather as Gas's show runner. “We're quite good friends,” says Mr. Mather of Mr. White, adding that, over the past few weeks, the two have been “fighting over writers by day and then going for drinks at night.” While this kind of aggressive hiring of top creative talent is common among U.S. networks, it's relatively rare in Canada, where people tend to stick to their camps. “I know this throws a slight wrench in the works [at CTV], but Kevin was really ready for this,” says Mr. Mather. “It's really good for everybody. “For the writing community, it's great to have two shows competing for writers. It means there are more places for people to work, more places for people to learn. And it creates opportunities for advancement. Writers deserve respect, and it's a healthy sign for this industry.”
Little Mosque on the Prairie, with a title that riffs off Michael Landon's hanky-ready American TV classic, has attracted media attention around the world. The brainchild of Zarqa Nawaz, a Canadian Muslim of Pakistani descent, it has been written up in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Jerusalem Post and London's Daily Telegraph. Comparisons to CTV's homespun, homemade Corner Gas were inevitable. Both are set in fictional backwaters where madcap locals (including the requisite rubes) have a lot of time to kill and a lot of opinions on everything. Some TV pundits have criticized Little Mosque for being a little too earnest, trying too hard for cheesy laughs as it explores the inherent challenges of Muslims and Christians co-existing in Canada's rural heartland. One TV critic said this week that he hopes Mr. Mather, who also cut his writing teeth on CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes, will bring an edge to Mosque's writing that will take the show to the next level, ratings-wise. Little Mosque co-executive producer Mary Darling says she went after Mr. Mather and Mr. Sheridan for one simple reason: “We're trying to create the very best show. “We know the show is good,” says Ms. Darling, who co-founded WestWind Pictures with her husband, Clark Donnelly. “It launched with very good numbers. But now we want to make the show great. And when you want to make something great, you hire the best people. “We didn't give huge consideration to the fact that [Mather] was on Corner Gas,” she adds. “He could have been working at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, and we still would have called to see if he was interested.” CBC has recently confirmed it is going to order a second season of Little Mosque, but has yet to announce the number of episodes. “We expect to hear from the CBC in mid-March,” says Darling, whose company has offices in Toronto and Regina. “The first season obviously struck a chord with people,” notes Mr. Mather. “It got great numbers that are sustainable. I have huge respect for the show, and in particular its first-season writers, such as Al Rae, Rebecca Schechter and Nawaz.” At the same time, the series-jumper added: “ Corner Gas is great. And it's been a great thing for me. But it's moving into its fifth season – and it's nice, sometimes, to do something with a different set of challenges, different characters and different stories.”
RCMP Shooting A TV Movie
Source: Canadian Press
(March 2, 2007) A TV movie about the 2005 shooting deaths of four Alberta RCMP officers is to begin production next week, CTV announced Friday. The two-hour production will star Henry Czerny, whose film credits include "Clear and Present Danger," and Brian Markinson, whose past projects include "Eight Days to Live" and "Angels in America." The working title for the project about the slain Mounties is ``To Serve and Protect: Tragedy at Mayerthorpe." The shootings, which took place two years ago Saturday, were the RCMP's greatest loss of life in a single day in over 100 years. CTV said the movie is being made with the co-operation of the surviving families of the officers. "Having the input of the families in undertaking this project was paramount, and we couldn't have gone forward without their confidence in us," said executive producer Jordy Randall. The movie will be produced in Calgary, as well as the southern Alberta towns of Irricana and Cochrane, in association with Slanted Wheel Entertainment and SEVEN24 Films, formerly Alberta Filmworks Inc. Constables Peter Schiemann, Brock Myrol, Leo Johnston and Anthony Gordon were ambushed while they were guarding evidence in an investigation of stolen car parts and a marijuana grow-op on James Roszko's farm near Mayerthorpe, about 130 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
Roszko, a notoriously violent man and cop-hater, was wounded in a gunfight and later turned his weapon on himself. As a nation mourned, a picture began to emerge of a terrorized community and frustrated attempts to bring Roszko to justice. In the movie, Czerny plays a fictional character named Cpl. Alex Stuart, who is the protagonist of the story. "We want to tell this story in honour of the four men who gave their lives in the line of duty," executive producer Jon Slan said in a release. Susanne Boyce, CTV's president of programming, said it's hoped the movie will further discussion about the events that led to the tragedy. CTV's announcement came the same day the town of Mayerthorpe was holding a memorial ceremony and hockey game to remember the fallen officers.
JumpTV Connects Subscribers
To Their Home Countries
Excerpt from www.thestar.ca - Entertainment Reporter
(March 03, 2007) A fire in Dhaka has burned down the building that housed the two most popular television channels in Bangladesh. NTV and RTV have been off the air since Monday, and the effect is being felt more than half a world away. In the new office space of JumpTV.com on King St. just west of Spadina Ave., Carlos Nachle, the technical support manager, has already dealt with it. The network-operating centre of webcaster JumpTV simply switched subscribers over to other Bangladeshi channels that the company licenses, so customers can still watch the news and find out what's happening at home. That burning desire to know what's going on in another country is the reason for JumpTV's existence. But thanks to all the action in the white-hot Internet protocol television space, it's really only the beginning. The Toronto-based company has become the largest broadband licenser of ethnic television channels from all over the world. With more than 270 licensed channels from more than 90 countries (and an average of two more every week), its customers can buy packages that allow them to watch high-quality video streams of those channels over the Internet. The company has become a leader in this space, and is positioning itself as a content broker to other companies. By being able to repurpose shows and channels however it wants, the company is the controller of this content, which in the long run could place it ahead of much bigger players – and better yet, make those larger companies come to JumpTV to provide content for them.
This week, it quietly secured $100 million in financing, and recently moved into a new space to corral all of its Canadian employees under one roof. It currently has just over 32,000 subscribers worldwide – and that's without any real marketing efforts. Now the 130-person strong company is focusing on locking up all this content. "We really believe that content is king, we believe we are going to a universe which is an infinite number of channels, because we believe that all viewing devices are going to be browser-enabled, with the television being the next phase of that ... Therefore you need really interesting, really sticky, very specialized content and our view was to get the top ethnic channels in the world," says G. Scott Paterson, chair and CEO of JumpTV Inc. JumpTV started in 2001 in Montreal, with the idea of mimicking the iCraveTV.com model started by Toronto Internet maverick William Craig – basically airing U.S. TV channel signals over the Web in Canada. That failed due to copyright issues, but the original founder also had licensed some international channels for broadcast. Paterson was an initial investor and, in 2005, he bought the company and took it public in August 2006, with a definite plan for growth: to only sign exclusive worldwide broadband deals with channels. "Because non-exclusive means anybody else can get it, too," he says. "And, therefore, what's your asset?" The future is also about adding new features. The company is starting to add complementary content, like radio stations, but coming down the line are also new television technologies such as digital video recording. Currently, users must watch the feeds live, but eventually all of the channels will have video-on-demand capabilities as well as social networking features, which will allow fans from all over the world to watch the same sporting event and instant-message and chat with one another.
Just as YouTube has proven that millions of people are willing to watch video on their computers, Paterson points to other trends that show the timing might be right for his company. Apple iTV will be launching here in a few weeks. Sony's new line of Bravia TVs launching in June will be Internet-ready. Windows Vista has media centre capabilities. All point to the ever-growing links between computers and TVs. "We're sitting back and thinking this is fantastic. Everybody is racing to make video on a browser-enabled device a high-quality, interactive experience. ... We're saying let's ride that wave and be positioned to capitalize the best way we can," he says. It is still very early days, but one thing in JumpTV's favour is it has been legal from day one. Licensing issues are one of the thorns holding back Web-based TV. Just last week, Viacom pulled more than 100,000 of its videos from YouTube. For JumpTV, it's a bit trickier as it moves content from a single country around the world. While the originating broadcaster owns the rights to its local and sports content, it most likely won't have the worldwide rights to, say, a dubbed American movie. It's up to JumpTV to substitute that copyrighted content for something else. But solving that problem opens up an opportunity – substituting commercials with ones that are targeted to specific countries. In addition to deals with Comcast in the U.S. and Telefonica, the largest Telco in Latin America, the company has also just signed a deal with Joost, a new IPTV venture from the folks behind Skype and Kazaa. "(Joost is) not going to take our live linear feeds, but they're going to create these channels, like the Hispanic channels or Arabic channels, and create an amalgam of video on demand of some of the best content. It's a different way to package the rights that we've obtained." At this point, consumers seem to very much be in the try-before-buy mode. Searching through Web forums, there are some complaints about JumpTV's pricing models, and certain channels are much more desirable than others. Analysts have also pointed out JumpTV's subscriber base is woefully small compared to other players. But the space is also rapidly being defined, and JumpTV's core business – that expatriate populations will always want to see what's going on home – isn't going away anytime soon.
Montreal Native Ricky Blitt's
Own Belated Awakening Inspires Fox Sitcom
Excerpt from www.thestar.com -
(March 04, 2007) PASADENA, Calif.–The so-called "winner" of The Winner is in fact the quintessential "loser" – which is what you'd expect from a live-action comedy produced by a guy who makes cartoons for a living, starring a guy known primarily for faking the news and semi-autobiographically inspired by the actual extended adult adolescence of its frankly phobic writer/creator. The Winner, debuting tonight at 8:30 on Fox, stars former Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry as Glen Abbott, a 32-year-old man-child still living – if you can call it that – at home with his parents in early 1990s Buffalo. Unemployed, unmarried and entirely unmotivated, Glenn seems a lost cause ... until roused from his arrested idyll by the sudden return home of his unrequited grade-school crush (Erinn Hayes), a newly divorced doctor raising a similarly socially awkward young son (Canadian Keir Gilchrist, see sidebar). Bonding with the boy while clumsily lusting after the mom, Glen resolves to make something of himself ... without the slightest notion of how to begin. He will eventually succeed – his retrospective voice-over narration, à la How I Met Your Mother and The Wonder Years, assures us that he will eventually become the most successful man in Buffalo (again, a relative distinction). We are left to guess how.
Ricky Blitt, whose own late-blooming epiphany propelled him from his native Montreal to L.A., where his sardonic wit quickly made him the preferred comedy collaborator of both the filmmaking Farrelly brothers (The Ringer), co-produced the series' original pilot, and cartoon king Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) executive produces. "In many ways, in most ways, this is much, much easier than animation," MacFarlane says. "It doesn't take a year to do 22 minutes worth of material." It helps to have a genuine enthusiasm for the material – not to mention its originator and real-life inspiration. "This is a script that Ricky wrote that I read as a fan and wanted to produce," says MacFarlane. "There's an edgy comedy to it, but there's very much also an extremely sophisticated, sort of classic sitcom backbone – the show has a lot of warmth behind it. And I think that's something that only results from this great combination of Ricky's edgy sensibility and the fact that he's a seasoned writer. He's 67, and ... " "I've had a lot of work done," deadpans Blitt, who is considerably younger, picking up on the diss and running with it. "Feel free to stare. I know I'm a visual feast for the eyes, but you're not technically cheating on your spouses. Just enjoy it. Feel free to sniff also, by the way. It's a full experience." One begins to see where the show gets its wonky, gently salacious tone. "I wish to God I didn't have to utter these words," concedes Blitt, "but it is very autobiographical. "In an interview once, I said that I didn't really relate to Glen, because I lost my virginity at the precocious young age of 31 instead of 32 ... And by the way, masturbation does count as losing your virginity."
In fact, there were somewhat more pragmatic aspects of Blitt's own belated coming-of-age. "Truthfully, it was more of a financial thing. I had, like, the worst job in the world, a notch below telemarketing. And I was good at the job because I think it sounded like I wanted to kill myself. ... I was so unenthusiastic, people were going, `This guy can't be selling us something.' But I was making almost no money, and at some point I had to move back to Montreal, where it's mostly French, so I couldn't even get those jobs when I was living at home." "I should say the one thing that was different for me from Glen Abbott is that Glen doesn't know what he wants to do. I knew for a while that the writing was the thing that I should do. For me, it was really about hitting rock bottom, being so broke and going to my parents as a 32-year-old man, kind of humiliated that I needed to borrow money to go to L.A. to do this, because if I didn't try it, it would never happen. " . . . and I might have been boasting a little bit before when I said I lost my virginity at 31. You are new to me. I didn't know you. I wanted to impress you." The transition to his new L.A. lifestyle is still an ongoing process. "I've never learned how to drive a car," Blitt confesses, "so I use a driver to drive me around. And every driver that I've used, I ask who is the worst person you've ever met, and it's always Faye Dunaway. "Also, by the way, not a good lay." He's kidding. Again.
Iron Chef Sees First Canadian Woman
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Canadian Press
(March 06, 2007) NEW YORK — She was the first Canadian woman to take part in the spatula-to-spatula Iron Chef America competition and chef Lynn Crawford was up for the fight. When she was called to take centre stage in kitchen stadium last fall, she and her two sous-chefs from Four Seasons Toronto, Lora Kirk and Robert Bartley, packed up their knives and prepared for the battle. Up against Iron Chef Bobby Flay, Crawford and her team had 60 minutes to create a four-star meal using the secret ingredients revealed to them at the beginning of the taping. The show will air on Food Network Canada on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Its winner will be revealed at the climax of the competition. “We were honoured by the invitation to participate,” says Crawford, who has been appointed executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. “Our team trained together daily by timing ourselves as we created a variety of dishes all in under the 60-minute time limit. We wanted to have fun and represent Canada well.”
Shaq On Reality TV
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Associated Press
(March 06, 2007) Los Angeles -- Shaquille O'Neal will be taking a shot at a television reality show focused on childhood obesity and health. The summer series will feature the Miami Heat star centre and his effort to help Florida schoolchildren lose weight, the ABC network said yesterday. Airdates for the six-episode series, yet to be titled, haven't been set. The series, being filmed in Broward County, Fla., will track the lives of the children involved. The 7-foot-1, 325-pound O'Neal, who turns 35 today, will be on hand as booster and, in episodes yet to be shot, will lobby politicians on causes, including school nutrition, Daily Variety reported yesterday. The show is an adaptation of the British series Ian Wright's Unfit Kids, which featured the former soccer star. O'Neal, a father of six, has been outspoken about the issue of children and weight problems. The former Los Angeles Lakers' Hollywood résumé includes appearances on the reality shows Fear Factor and Punk'd and roles in movies including Kazaam and Blue Chips.
Excerpt from www.thestar.ca - Dance Writer
(March 01, 2007) The history of dance is written on the body. The best way to resurrect a dance is to go to the person for whom it was made, turn on the music and watch the body remember. For the Danny Grossman Dance Company's legacy project, possibly the most thorough attempt at preserving modern dance ever undertaken, the choreographer has gone back to some of the original performers to recreate works that are perfectly preserved in physical memory. Randy Glynn, Pamela Grundy, Eddie Kastrau and Learie McNicolls joke that whenever two of them perform together the combined age is up around 100. They are taking roles in four works staged, video recorded, notated and performed in Greatest Hits Volume Two, opening Wednesday in the Premiere Dance Theatre. Glynn, 56, jumped in with both feet last spring when he performed for a Grossman fundraiser. Upon hearing that the company was going to remount Nobody's Business, in which he was one half of the male duet created for the piece in 1981, he said, "I'll do it." Playing hockey and ultimate Frisbee have kept Glynn in athletic shape, but dancing is another story. He started training in October to get ready for rehearsals in January. "There was a reason I wanted to do it. Dances change over the years when different people do them."
His body memory was pretty much intact; only some of the harder parts of certain dances were lost to him. "Some of the stuff in Bella I helped to make up when Danny started to perform it with his company. I'm having to relearn some of the tricks I invented more than 20 years ago. You learn to economize. The calmer I get the clearer I can be." Pamela Grundy, who is also Glynn's wife, has been with the Grossman company for 29 years. She'll dance Bella, a duet for lovers performed on a flowered, Chagall-like horse. As co-artistic director, she is also leading rehearsals for all but one of the works on the program. "I never really retired from dancing, although I really wound down," she says, "when I no longer had the time to train regularly." Grossman's company always had the lowest turnover of any dance organization in Toronto. There are more than 10 members who danced with him for 20 years or more, another five who lasted 15 years, and a half dozen or more who were in the company for 10 years. "I think people made it a home," says Grundy. Learie McNicolls is the odd man out in this group. Not once in a long career performing with Toronto Dance Theatre, Dancemakers and others, before moving into solo spoken-word work, has he ever been in a Grossman piece. But after going to the gym and getting into dance condition, McNicolls has been learning a role in Hear the Lambs a Cryin'. Grossman made this lament for the suffering caused by slavery in 1997, setting it to recordings of Paul Robeson singing African-American spirituals. "It feels like being part of history," says McNicolls. "I feel like I was dropped into this very interesting film."
At 43, the youngest of the older generation, Eddie Kastrau has been with the company for 21 years and has just recovered from a disc injury. He's performing in all four works on the program, including Endangered Species, in which he's danced many times. "It's nice for us as senior dancers to work with people we didn't know before," he says. "We're working with people who weren't even born when we first did these dances," Glynn interjects. "Even the younger dancers seem to really sense that they were playing an important role by being the vehicle through which these works are being documented," says Grundy. And for Grossman, she adds, it is satisfying "seeing the work transcend just that small number of people who grew up with it. He can see that it is universal." An initial eight Grossman dances have been selected for the preservation project. For teaching and archival purposes, each piece will be recorded on video, in the studio and in performance. A written score will be prepared and Grossman's remarks on his choreographic and dramatic intent recorded. Robyn Hughes Ryman and Natasha Frid, both choreologists using the Grossman project for their master's theses, have been attending rehearsals religiously and preparing the score for Nobody's Business in Benesh notation. It is a time-consuming process (as much as 20 hours for 1 minute of dance) that will pay dividends for future dance artists who might never have seen the works but want to remount them. Using Benesh editor software the notation can be computer-generated and even used to create the animated Dance Forms format that shows the dance exactly as the choreographer intended. "It's the pure movement, not somebody's interpretation of it," says Ryman of the final notation. "As great a tool as video is, it's an interpretation. Notation is an analysis."
India Slams Into Victory
Source: Sadharana Communications
(March 3, 2007) Toronto, ON – This afternoon India powere through a historic win at the Legends of Cricket Live invitational game against Pakistan. This All-Star game drew an estimated 22,000 to 25,000 cricket lovers to the Rogers Centre who watched in excitement as India charged into victory with 112 runs in 16 overs. The game began with India winning the coin toss and choosing to put Team Pakistan to bat first. Pakistan suffered a poor start with 2 wickets down with only 34 runs in hand. India sustained the momentum with Pakistan losing all wickets with 109 runs in 32 overs. In the second half of the game, India declared victory with 112 runs with 7 wickets to spare. RBC, the presenting sponsor of Legends of Cricket Live 2007, awarded a cash prize of US$2,000 to the Man of the Match; Atul Wassan of Team India , and US$1,000 each to the Best Bowler; Aaqib Javed of Team Pakistan and Best Batsman; Wasim Akram, Captain of Team Pakistan .
Final Score: 112 India , 109 Pakistan
Legends of Cricket Live 2007 was organized by M+D Community in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.
Telling Sets Her Free - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Excerpt from www.thestar.ca - Publishing Reporter
(March 01, 2007) Ayaan Hirsi Ali's primary motivation for
writing her autobiography wasn't to tell her life story. It was to finally get
to the point where she could stop telling that story. Even before the recent
publication of Infidel, a first-person account of the
37-year-old's eventful life to this point, the thumbnail sketch of Hirsi Ali's
personal narrative was well known to many. Born in Somalia, she escaped an
arranged marriage to a Somali-Canadian by moving to Holland, where she
eventually renounced her Muslim faith and became a member of the Dutch
parliament. In 2004, she collaborated on a 10-minute film, Submission,
decrying ritual abuse endured by Muslim women. Soon after the film was
broadcast on Dutch TV, its director, Theo van Gogh, was murdered in the street
by a Muslim man who pinned a note to Hirsi Ali on the victim's chest with a
knife. Hirsi Ali, briefly stripped of her Dutch citizenship for lying when she
entered Holland as a refugee, now lives in the U.S., where she is a fellow at
the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank. Because of continuing
threats to her safety, she can't go anywhere – including the Toronto private
members club where she sat for promotional interviews yesterday – without a
security detail. Infidel tells an enthralling and at times harrowing
story, including gruesome details of the genital mutilation its author endured
as a young girl, as well as her later estrangement from her immediate family.
It is a singularly absorbing narrative. But it isn't the one Hirsi Ali sought
to write when she first approached her publisher.
"I wanted to be taken seriously as an academic, but no one would take me seriously," says Hirsi Ali, who has also published a collection of essays, The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam. "I wanted to write about Islam and the West. The publisher said, `Just tell us your story. Tell us how you made this journey. Tell us about your grandparents, your parents, the countries that you've lived in, the choices that you've made. That story is going to be more interesting than anything else.' "I felt trapped. That's why I accepted it. I thought, `Okay I'm going to write it and I'm going to get it over with.' That is the function of this book." After her promotional responsibilities for Infidel are over, Hirsi Ali is keen to begin work on her next book, a speculative piece of philosophical writing in which the Prophet Muhammad wakes to find himself in the New York Public Library in the company of John Stuart Mill and other Western thinkers. "In an imaginative way, I want to let these people have a conversation," she says. "It has to be imaginative, otherwise it would be boring for the reader."
Walk Of Fame Announces 8 More
Excerpt from www.thestar.com - Michele Henry, Staff Reporter
(March 07, 2007) This year's additions to Canada's Walk of Fame are aimed at celebrating Canadian talent, but there was a noticeable lack of star power at yesterday's announcement of the 2007 honourees. The stars will be unveiled June 9 at a gala at the Hummingbird Centre, but won't be laid in their permanent home until sometime in 2008. Organizers gathered media representatives to the 10th-annual event with a promise of celebrities to interview and photograph, but very few were on hand. Videotaped snippets of this year's additions were broadcast on two TVs at the front of the Windsor Arms Hotel, where the announcement was made. The list includes hockey player Johnny Bower; Rick Hansen, whose face has become synonymous with the fight to fund research into spinal cord injury; Jill Hennessy, star of the U.S. TV drama Crossing Jordan; comedienne Catherine O'Hara; rock group Nickelback; actor, author and director Gorden Pinsent; director/producer Ivan Reitman; and TV journalist Lloyd Robertson.
Chris McDowall, spokesperson for Canada's Walk of Fame, said it's not unusual for the stars to be absent. "They've never been invited," he said. "We want to build to a crescendo to the induction ceremony in June." We'll also have to wait until the actual induction June 9 on the King St. W. strip, to hear what comedian Eugene Levy, who will host the gala, has to say about the new inductees. He wasn't at yesterday's event either. His son Dan, who co-hosted the announcement with CTV's Tanya Kim, told the audience his dad was in California. And even some of the stars that showed up skipped out early. Former hockey players Doug Gilmour and Ron Ellis, who came on behalf of Bower, posed briefly for a photograph or two before disappearing. "Maybe they're gun-shy," McDowall said. "We were as surprised as you that they left." Despite their absences the show must go on – and it did. Canadian singers Hayley Sales and Molly Johnson gave performances during the event before the big announcement. Past inductees to Canada's Walk of Fame, including dancer and producer Veronica Tennant, and actor Shirley Douglas, were there to deliver the missing star-power. Douglas admires the Walk of Fame's vision to elevate the profile of Canada's talent.
"Canada mustn't be shy about celebrating itself," she said. "We have many people to celebrate and there's nothing wrong with celebrating our people. We're an interesting country, we're a terrific country ... we have to be excited about our (talent)." Peter Soumalias, founder and president of Canada's Walk of Fame, said choosing this year's inductees was a difficult task. When it came down to picking a journalist, Robertson had competition from the late Morley Safer of 60 Minutes, and the late Peter Jennings. "We chose Lloyd because he has a wonderful Canadian story," Soumalias said. "He's been part of CBC, CTV and radio, and he's very much a Canadian institution." He said designers are working on a new display for the park between Metro Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, one that is interactive and places the stars in such a way that they won't be covered all winter long.
Trudeau Biography Wins Writing Award
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - James Adams
(March 1, 2007) A book that revealed that the young Pierre Trudeau had fascist, anti-Semitic and separatist proclivities has won the seventh annual $15,000 Writers' Trust of Canada Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for excellence in political writing. Max and Monique Nemni, the Toronto-based authors of Young Trudeau: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada 1919-1944, received the prize last night at a ceremony in Ottawa, with its French-to-English translator William Johnson getting $3,750 of the award money. The Nemnis' book, which generated shock waves across Canada upon its release last May, beat four other titles, including John English's Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Volume One: 1919-1968, for the prize, which is named after the popular Conservative MP from Windsor, Ont., who died of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1998. The other nominees were The Way It Works: Inside Ottawa by veteran Liberal strategist and Chrétien adviser Eddie Goldenberg; The Washington Diaries, 1981-1989 by Alan Gotlieb, former Canadian ambassador to the United States and an architect of the North American Free Trade Agreement; and Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World's Most Seductive Sweet by Carol Off, host of CBC Radio One's As It Happens. Each of the runners-up received $2,000. The trio of judges -- Toronto Star columnist Carol Goar, retired civil servant, author and university professor Arthur Kroeger, and Ottawa Citizen columnist Susan Riley -- lauded the Nemnis, both retired university professors and friends of Trudeau, for "changing the perceptions and challenging the political reflexes of Canadians."
Drawing on private papers which Trudeau himself gave the Nemnis prior to his death in 2000, they show in Young Trudeau that the seemingly "unshakeable federalist who became Canada's 15th prime minister had once plotted to take Quebec out of Canada. The eloquent democrat who penned Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms had once shrugged off Nazi atrocities and admired fascism." Indeed, when he was 19, Trudeau wrote and mounted a one-act "comedy of manners" that he said "was intended to bring out the difference between dishonest and profiteering Jews and honest but too naive French Canadians." Only after Trudeau was 25 and taking political economy studies at Harvard University, the Nemnis write, did he "throw off the ideology that had governed him during the most formative period of his life and come to adopt the universal values of liberalism." The Nemni book was published in English by McClelland & Stewart, as an imprint of Douglas Gibson Books. It was Gibson, as publisher of M & S between 1988 and 2004, who oversaw Trudeau's own memoirs into print in 1993. While a huge bestseller, Memoirs was criticized in some quarters for its lack of revelations and fresh perspectives. At the time of the release of the Nemnis' Young Trudeau, Gibson confessed he'd been "astounded and appalled" by what the duo had uncovered in their "lengthy and convincing account."
Women's Rights Champion Doris Anderson Dies At 85
Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - Sandra Martin
(March 3, 2007) Doris Anderson, a vocal proponent of women's rights and proportional representation, made Chatelaine the best read magazine in the country under her editorship in the 1960s and 1970s. She died this afternoon in St. Michael's Hospital of pulmonary fibrosis. She was 85. A feisty hard-working and determined woman, Ms. Anderson grew up in Alberta in a boarding house run by her single mother during the Depression. Although she made her own success in the man's world of magazine publishing in the 1950s and 1960s, she was always a champion of women's rights and a promoter of gender equality in public office. As the enormously successful editor of Chatelaine magazine from the mid-1950s-the mid 1970s, she began making her feminist mark nearly a decade before Betty Freidan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963. “She was tremendous, like a rock,” said former politician Flora MacDonald. Ms. MacDonald particularly remembered the issue of Chatelaine in which she commissioned “a big article on 50 women who would make good parliamentarians and then she took 12 of us and put us on the cover” of the magazine. “She was always doing things to promote women and she would keep an eye out for people whom she thought might be encouraged to get into the political arena,” said Ms. MacDonald. "Doris was tremendously vibrant intellectually right to the end. I saw her for lunch a couple of weeks ago and she was still militating for proportional representation -- and gleefully swapping gossip, too. Despite her increasing frailty -- she was so gaunt at the end, and she just hated dragging around that oxygen tank -- Doris still radiated strength, solidity and wry humour," said journalist Michele Landsberg, a close friend since the days when she worked for Ms. Anderson at Chatelaine in the 1970s.
“Nobody is more generous-hearted or supportive than Doris. She will go out and talk to a small group of women students or she can take on a large crowd,” said journalist Rosemary Spiers, former president of Equal Voice. “She has been the de facto leader of whatever women's movement there has been in Canada for the last 40 years. Nobody else has emerged,” said Ms. Spiers. “She was terribly important as a second wave feminist because she had the magazine for women and it was always thoughtful and always had interesting things in it,” said former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson. Ms. Anderson hired her to do book reviews in Chatelaine in 1965, the same year Ms. Clarkson began her decade long stint as co-host of Take 30, CBC Television's afternoon program for housewives. Ms. Clarkson thinks Ms. Anderson recognized an affinity between Take 30 and Chatelaine because both vehicles were unafraid to take on tough, risky subjects such as abortion, birth control, rape and child abuse. “You never had to explain anything to Doris. You just listened and identified.” Although Ms. Anderson was celebrated for being tough and combative, especially when dealing with men, she was actually quite shy and vulnerable underneath her bristly exterior. She never really overcame the animosity she absorbed about her father, a belligerent and overbearing man who thrust himself into her idealized, matriarchal world, much to her dismay, when she was eight years old. This early life experience may help to explain why Ms. Anderson so often chose conflict over consensus as a management style. “I never learned to be subservient to men,” Ms. Anderson cheerfully admitted in an interview in Dec., 2006. What I learned to do was to cope.” But of her very few regrets, one of them is not having being able to find more effective “tools” for dealing with men in authoritative positions, especially since she loved her brothers and her sons and treasured her relationships with them.
Hilda Doris Buckm who was born on November 10, 1921, was the third child and only daughter of Rebecca Laycock Buck and Thomas McCubbin, a lodger in her mother's boarding house in Calgary. Mrs. Buck's first husband, a swindler named Alvin Buck, had re-mortgaged the house and skipped out with the funds several years earlier leaving his 23 year old wife with two young sons and a lot of debt. After Mrs. Buck gave birth to Doris in Medicine Hat, where she had gone to stay with her sisters in the last months of her pregnancy, she placed her “illegitimate” infant in a home for unwanted babies in Calgary. After several months, she had a change of heart and reclaimed her daughter. Mr. McCubbin, Ms. Anderson's biological father, who was prone to drink and larcenous behaviour, married her mother just before the girl's eighth birthday and cast a shadow over what Ms. Anderson remembered as a happy, carefree childhood. (Her parents subsequently had two sons.) He was a difficult and domineering man and young Ms. Anderson resented his influence on her mother. She was confused and unhappy about his rebukes about her forward and unladylike behaviour. “I fervently wanted my father to be hit by a streetcar,” she wrote in her 1996 memoir, Rebel Daughter, “particularly when we were waiting for dinner and he reeled in late, three sheets to the wind, and sat pontificating at the head of the table.” She softened somewhat in her attitude towards him late in her life. “He was a rebel, and he had a good mind, read widely and challenged everything,” she said in December 2006, but she added, “I never felt any warmth toward him. By contrast her mother was “terribly conservative” and wanted her only daughter to be demure, keep her head down, and conform to “respectable” expectations. When she grew into adolescence, Ms. Anderson found it increasingly difficult to comply with her mother's acceptance of marriage and childrearing as the only desirable lifestyle for a woman. In those days women often had to choose between career and family, in line with the over-riding philosophy that you could have one, but not both. Rather than her mother's conformist choice, she looked to women such as her unmarried teachers as role models for an independent life. After Crescent Heights High School in Calgary, Ms. Anderson went to teacher's college, graduating in 1940. Teaching was never her vocational dream, however. She earned enough money from teaching contracts in rural communities in Alberta to put herself through the University of Alberta in Edmonton. She graduated in 1945. Respectable women had three career options at the time, according to Ms. Anderson. “You could be a secretary, a nurse or a teacher,” she told a journalist in 2005. “Because I was bookish and bright I was to be a teacher. And in those days, all teachers were spinsters. If they got married they got fired immediately.” None of those “choices” or limitations appealed to her. Instead, she moved to Toronto, intent on a career in journalism. From her first job, as an editorial assistant on the now defunct Star Weekly magazine, she moved to radio as a scriptwriter on the Claire Wallace program. After a little more than six months working for the tyrannical Ms. Wallace, a potential prototype for the Anna Wintour character in The Devil Wears Prada, she quit to work as an advertising copywriter for the T. Eaton company, then a huge department store chain. After three years she left Eaton's, in Nov. 1949, and sailed to England to live in London and try her luck at writing fiction.
She sold a few short stories to Chatelaine and Maclean's, which was then a monthly general interest magazine, but realized that it would be almost impossible to earn a living as a fiction writer. She went back to Toronto and to Eaton's, but quit in 1951 to take a job at Chatelaine as an editorial assistant in the advertising promotion department, an inauspicious start to what would become a monumental career move not only for her but for Canadian women. As Floyd Chalmers, president of Maclean-Hunter, once said about her: “What I like about Doris is that she looks like a woman, acts like a lady, and works like a dog.” Six years after joining the magazine, she had risen through the ranks to become editor, a job she was reluctantly given after she had threatened to quit if management appointed another man to the position. Two weeks before Ms. Anderson became editor, she married PEI-born lawyer and Liberal Party backroom organizer David Anderson, not because she was desperately in love, but because she wanted children. She was 35. Her mother told the groom: “Now Doris has someone to look after her.” But as Ms. Anderson wrote in her memoir, Rebel Daughters, “what I wanted more than anything was to be able to look after myself and make sure that every other woman in the world could do the same". The Andersons had three sons Peter (1958), Stephen (1961) and Mitchell (1963). Like most employers of the day, Maclean-Hunter had no maternity leave policy. Traditionally women resigned about their fifth month of pregnancy and then stayed home to raise their children. She torpedoed that custom but the downside was that she had to return to work when her first son was two weeks old. She continued to work after the births of her two younger sons. She and Mr. Anderson divorced in 1972 after 15 years of marriage. He died of cancer in 1986. As editor of Chatelaine, Ms. Anderson wanted to give readers what they expected in the way of recipes, beauty and parenting tips, but she also wanted to give them “something serious to think about” and to “shake them up a bit” with well-written, hard-hitting investigative pieces on abortion, birth control, discriminatory divorce laws and the wage gap. And she hired excellent journalists to write them, including June Callwood, Christina McCall (later Newman) Michele Landsberg, Barbara Frum and Sylvia Fraser. “I had fabulous women,” she said later, explaining that many of them came to her because they couldn't find places to write elsewhere.
One of her first editorials was an appeal for more women in Parliament -- there were only two female MPs in 1958 --another early one was for reform of the draconian abortion laws. She quickly learned that effecting social change meant frequently revisiting issues in editorials and articles and so she devoted lots of space over the years to push for a Royal Commission on the status of women, and to expose horrors such as child battering, racism and the plight of Canada's Native peoples. Some readers felt that she was turning "a nice wholesome Canadian magazine into a feminist rag." However, circulation, which was 480,000 when she became editor, had increased by the late 1960s to 1.8 million readers, the equivalent of one out of every three women in Canada. She made Maclean-Hunter lots of money because of the success of Chatelaine, but she was never paid anything like the salary given to the editor of Maclean's. For example, when she was earning $23,000 annually at Chatelaine, Charles Templeton, who was editor of a very troubled Maclean's for only six months in 1969, was making $53,000, or more than twice as much. After Mr. Templeton was forced to quit, she campaigned for the job, but was rejected in favour of Peter Gzowski. “The main objection to you,” Gerry Brander, Maclean's publisher explained, according to her memoirs, “is not that you're a woman, but that you can't represent the company publicly.” He was unable to explain why. “I would have had that job in a flash if I had been a man,” she said to me in 2006. “I was the most successful editor all through that time. Chatelaine was sustaining the magazine division.” Ms. Anderson finally quit Maclean-Hunter in 1977, about five years after she had first thought of leaving, because she couldn't stand working with the publisher of Chatelaine, whose job she had coveted, but was never given. When asked directly in Dec. 2006 how she felt about being passed over for promotion, she replied bluntly in her flat nasal prairie voice. “Angry. Still.” And then she added, “That wouldn't happen today.” A confirmed workaholic, she quickly thrust herself into work of a different sort by agreeing to run for the Liberals in Toronto in a 1978 federal by-election as a last minute replacement for Roland de Corneille who had stepped down because the election was scheduled for a Jewish high holiday. Partly she felt she couldn't say no, especially after encouraging other women to run, and partly she says she was made promises by the Liberal Party that weren't kept. She lost (19,027 votes to 7,602) in an anti-Pierre Trudeau sweep to Rob Parker, a businessman and former broadcast journalist, representing the Progressive Conservatives. Even after stepping into the electoral lurch for the Liberals, she was told she would have to fight the reluctant Mr. de Corneille for the nomination next time. This one brief experience persuaded her that she did not have the submissive personality required for party politics. “Most successful backbenchers behaved like football players in a scrum--never any dissent or criticism,” she wrote in Rebel Daughter. “If I won a seat, I knew I would chafe under that kind of strict party discipline.”
Why she never ran again, is a bit of a mystery, but it may be that she took her defeat very hard and wasn't able to risk suffering a public loss like that again. That same year she also published the first of her three novels. Two Women juxtaposes Julia, a divorced editor in a Toronto publishing house, who is exploited and overworked by underwhelming men, with her old college friend Hilary, the fundraising wife of a businessman who is depressed to the point of suicide by her meandering purposeless life. In a review of the book, William French, then literary editor of The Globe, wrote: “Anderson's characterization and dialogue are credible, but to get us where she wants to go she falls back on plot devices that are decidedly melodramatic and overly contrived.” In 1979, before the Liberals were defeated, she accepted a federal appointment as chair of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women (CACSW). This was the era in which the Parti Québécois, under the late Rene Levesque, was voted into power in Quebec and the first separatist referendum was held. After his re-election in 1980, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was determined to patriot the British North American Act from Westminster and combine it in a constitutional package with an amending formula and an entrenched Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ms. Anderson saw the constitutional talks as an opportunity to lobby for strong wording on women's equality. Under her leadership the advisory council planned a conference, but it was delayed because of a translator's strike. Meanwhile the Charter was drafted and an equality clause was formulated which prohibited discrimination on a number of grounds including sex, but it didn't go far enough in Ms. Anderson's opinion because it “was exactly the same wording as in the 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights,” which she argued had “been tested ten times in the courts between 1870 and 1980, and had been found to be useless as a legal tool to help women.” She criticized the wording publicly and sent a detailed critique to Lloyd Axworthy, then minister responsible for the status of women. She also hired feminist lawyer Mary Eberts, a constitutional expert, to write a brief which was presented to a Parliamentary committee hearing.
But Ms. Anderson's conference on women's equality and the constitution was cancelled in a move that appeared to many to have been orchestrated by Mr. Axworthy in tandem with members of her own board. Ms. Anderson resigned in protest, in what was played as a story about women fighting not only each other, but the minister in charge of the Status of Women. “Every time Lloyd Axworthy opens his mouth, one hundred more women become feminists,” said Ms. Anderson in a comment that was widely quoted. “She was relatively easy going and ready to compromise,” said her friend, journalist Rosemary Spiers about the furor at the Status of Women, “but when things really get up against the wall, then she won't and she is very tough.” Flora MacDonald agreed. “When Pauline Jewett and I were in the House, she in the NDP and me for the Progressive Conservatives, we were questioning Mr. Axworthy in the house every day about why was this conference going to be postponed and so on,” Flora MacDonald said recently. “I don't think he has ever forgiven me.” A small group of self-organizing feminists decided to hold a conference anyway. Helped by Ms. MacDonald, who booked a meeting room on Parliament Hill, more than 1,300 women from across the country arrived in Ottawa on Feb. 14, 1981 to hold what became known as the “Ad Hoc Conference.” Eventually a new clause was added to the Charter, Section 28, which states: “Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.” The fallout was bitter. Mr. Axworthy appointed Lucie Pepin, one of the women on the CACSW board who had voted against holding the conference, as Ms. Anderson's successor. Ms. Anderson then became head of the National Action Committee, a coalition of more than 700 women's organizations, serving as president from 1982-1984. She also sat on the Ontario Press Council (from 1977-84) and began writing a bi-weekly column for The Star in Toronto, a podium she kept for the next decade. The University of Prince Edward Island elected her its chancellor for a four year term from 1992 to 1996, after which she presided as the chair of the Ontario Press Council from 1998 - 2006. She also did a lot of writing in these years, publishing her second novel, Rough Layout, in 1981, a satire about a magazine editor who is exploited at work by her incompetent male boss and at home by her needy underperforming husband. Her third novel, Affairs of State, which appeared in 1988, was “an unabashed roman a clef about her wretched years as a federal bureaucrat,” as Stevie Cameron wrote in a review in The Globe.
In this novel, Ms. Anderson's protagonist, Kathryn Kramer, is undermined from above by a vulgar right-wing male minister of health who wants to turn her conference on child abuse into a celebration of family values. But unlike the nefarious men in her earlier novels, Ms. Anderson gave the viper's role this time to Kramer's female assistant, a disloyal backbiter who initiates a smear campaign against her boss and openly lobbies support for the minister. Her fourth book, The Unfinished Revolution, recounting 20 years of the women's movement was published in 1991. Leona Gom called it “a highly-readable, intelligent, well-researched and utterly compelling examination of the lives of women in 12 European and North American countries.” The research for this book made her realize that women were very unlikely to achieve electoral power without a switch in voting systems from the first past the post system (FPTP) favoured in England and North America to the proportional representation systems adopted by many European countries including Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the European Community. Although they were never close friends, Ms. Anderson and Ms. MacDonald shared many causes and friends and so their lives overlapped, most notably in the furor over the ad hoc conference and in their mutual friendship with the late N.D.P politician Pauline Jewett, who died of lung cancer in July 1992. “In the last weeks of Pauline's life, Doris literally moved into her bedroom and looked after her,” Ms. MacDonald said recently. “They were very, very close and I saw a lot of her then because Pauline was such a friend, so there were things like that that kept occurring in our lifetimes.” In the last 15 years of her life, Ms. Anderson campaigned relentlessly for proportional representation as a means to encourage more women to run and have a better chance to be elected. In a letter to the editor of The Globe in Sept., 2005, she complained about an article favouring the FPTP system saying “it allows for absolute majorities that actually are won with less than 40 per cent of the vote and gives them the right to act like a wrecking ball -- or sit on their hands and do nothing. Most of our best legislation -- medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and unemployment insurance--were actually brought in under minority governments, not phony majority governments.”
She was also active in Equal Voice, a multi-partisan action group dedicated to increasing women's participation in political life and representation in elected office at all levels of government. A great fan of proportional representation, because she believed it was the only way more women could succeed in being elected. In the last decade her health declined drastically. She had a heart attack in 2001, but seemed to have recovered. On a trip to Costa Rica in the spring of 2006, she suffered from what appeared to be food poisoning but turned out to be the beginning of a series of digestive and kidney system failures that had a debilitating effect on her general health, including a second heart attack and ongoing problems with her lungs. Our interview in December 2006, took place in a rehabilitation hospital in Toronto, where she was attached to a portable oxygen machine and using a walker to help maintain her balance. Although she was thin, she still had the same beautiful hands, with the carefully sculpted nails, and was bringing her trademark feisty attitude to her pet causes, which now included the right for terminally ill patients to end their lives with dignity and according to their own timetables. She left rehab and was back in her condo, until early this week when illness forced back into hospital. She was sitting up in bed on Thursday night talking to one of her sons, according to Ms. Landsberg, and went to sleep and didn't wake up again. There will be a celebration of her life at a later date.
Djimon Hounsou To Pose For Calvin Klein
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(March 1, 2007) *Two-time Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou will return to his roots this fall as a featured model in the fall ad campaign for Calvin Klein Underwear. The African-born actor was discovered by fashion designer Thierry Mugler after he moved to Paris from his native Benin at the age of 13. In his new gig, Hounsou becomes the ninth man to be featured in a Calvin Klein Underwear campaign and the first actor in over a decade. “As a child growing up in Africa, I could have never dreamed that I would be where I am today,” Hounsou said in a statement. “Representing such an iconic American brand like Calvin Klein Underwear signifies to me that I have been accepted. This carries more meaning for me than you can imagine. Dreams really do come true.” Beginning in September, Hounsou will be featured in Calvin Klein Underwear’s global print and outdoor advertising imagery in support of its latest product line, Calvin Klein Steel. The Fall 2007 campaign will launch internationally in more than 20 countries with print and outdoor media timed to coincide with September 2007 magazine issues. “Djimon’s look and style complement his accomplished acting career and make him uniquely suited to represent the Calvin Klein Underwear brand, and specifically the introduction of Calvin Klein Steel,” said Tom Murray, President and Chief Operating Officer of Calvin Klein, Inc.
Great Ways to Burn More Fat
By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
You're so busy you have absolutely no time to work out, right? Wrong. It's important that you make the time and I'm here to help you do it. In this busy world filled with work pressure, family and stress we sometimes have to use a lot of creativity to sneak in workout time.
I've constructed some quick tips to keep
you moving, your muscles stimulated and your blood flowing in minimal time. Now
you have no excuse.
Here are my 10 fat-burning tips for people on the go:
1. When you first wake up, commit to 10 minutes of continuous exercise. Choose only three movements and perform each in succession without stopping for 10 minutes. For example, Monday you can perform modified push-ups, followed by crunches for your abs followed by stationary lunges. On Tuesday, you can perform free-standing squats with hands on hips, double crunch for abs and close grip modified push-ups (hands 3 inches apart) for your triceps. Just 10 minutes! Just take a quick breather when you need it.
2. Perform timed interval walking in your neighbourhood or at lunch. If it takes 10 minutes to walk to a certain destination near your office or in your neighbourhood, try to make it in eight minutes. You can also do this first thing in the morning before work as well as on your lunch break.
3. If you have stairs in your home or in your work place, commit to taking the stairs a specific number of times. Tell yourself that you'll take the stairs six or eight times (no matter what).
4. While seated, perform some isometric exercise to help strengthen and tighten your muscles. For example, while in a seated position, simply contract the abdominals for 30 seconds while breathing naturally. You can also tighten and contract your legs for 60 seconds. Perform about three sets per area. You'll feel your muscles get tighter in just three weeks if you perform this a few times per week.
5. For about $15 you can invest in a pedometer. It's a small device you can carry that records the amount of miles you walk per day. Each week simply try to add just a bit more to the mileage. For example, let’s say you walk one mile total during the day in the normal course of activities. Simply try to make it two miles total the following week. Just make a game of it. You'll burn more calories.
6. Tired at night and just want to sit in front of the TV? Try this technique: Take periodic five-minute exercise breaks and perform some muscle stimulating and calorie burning exercise. For example, take five minutes and perform only ab crunches. Then, when it's time for another five-minute exercise break, perform modified push-ups for five minutes. Then for a final five-minute break, perform stationary lunges. Try to do as many as possible in five minutes and try to beat your amount of reps during each subsequent break. It won’t seem daunting because it’s only five minutes at a time, split over a 30 or 60-minute timeframe. Instead of rest breaks, you’ll take exercise breaks. You don’t really need to watch that new commercial do you?
7. How about performing one exercise movement per day for seven to 10 minutes? Need some examples? Monday: free-standing squats for seven minutes. Tuesday: chair dips for seven minutes. Wednesday: crunches and hip lifts off the floor for seven minutes. Thursday: modified push-up for seven minutes. Friday: stationary lunges for seven minutes. It’s quick, simple and teaches consistency.
8. Want things even simpler? Take the longest route every time you have to walk somewhere -- even if it’s to a co-workers office.
9. Double-up the stairs. Every time you take the stairs, simply take a double step or every other stair. It will be just like lunges and the Stairmaster combined. Great for the legs and butt.
10. Perform any of the above with your spouse or a friend. I’m sure you can find someone who is in the same situation. The support will give you more motivation and you just may find that you can create even more workout time for yourself.
Hey, I know this won't make you a world-class athlete or give you six-pack abs, but that's not the goal. I just want to see you making an effort to improve. If you take two to three of your favourite tips above, that will be the beginning of something great.
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience."
— Hyman Rickover