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LE NEWSLETTER

July 17, 2008

Just a brief newsletter this week as I'm still recovering from my hip surgery - bigger deal than I thought but still doing fine in my recovery. 

OK, enough with that stuff ... there is TONS of music news this week - in fact tons of global news everywhere! 

Scroll down and find out what interests you - take your time and take a walk into your weekly entertainment news!

 

::TOP STORIES::

Caribana Presents Island Rhythms

Source:  www.thestar.com - Huixia Sun,
Staff Reporter

(July 16, 2008) In the midst of dazzling Caribbean costumes and passionate steel drum beats, the Scotiabank Caribana festival kicked off at Nathan Phillips Square yesterday.

"We are jumping higher than ever," said Joe Halstead, chair of the festival management committee.

"It is the biggest, the best and most fun Caribbean festival in North America," said Mayor David Miller. "It reflects who we are and allows us to show what a diverse city can be."

Until Aug. 3, the 41st edition of Caribana will spice up the summer with performances by nearly 40 bands with 5,000 musicians offering calypso, steel pan, salsa, soca, reggae and other island rhythms.

Caribana expects a million-plus spectators, including hundreds of thousands of U.S. visitors.

This year's Caribana has some new twists, notably the Caribana Gala dinner at the Liberty Grand on July 25, a $150-a-ticket fundraiser honouring the festival's pioneers.

As always, though, the showcase event will be the grand parade Aug. 2 along Lake Shore Blvd W. Thousands of masqueraders in 15 mas bands will make the journey.

Hundreds of thousands of onlookers will line the parade route to see the plumage and elaborate King and Queen costumes. The parade starts at 10 a.m. at Exhibition Place and runs along Lake Shore Blvd. to Sunnyside, ending at about 6 p.m.

A Caribana art exhibit – Roots to Rhythm – will be held July 25 to Aug. 4 at the Royal Ontario Museum, featuring the work of 24 artists of African-Canadian heritage.

This Saturday, the Junior Carnival will parade to Yorkgate Mall in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood.

The juniors' king and queen will be selected July 31 during the King and Queen show at Lamport Stadium.

The day after the parade, the festival will close with a day of music and events on Olympic Island.

Both the city and province are kicking in about $430,000 this year, with Ontario's tourism ministry pumping in $300,000 for international advertising campaigns.

Miller said Caribana in 2007 generated over $300 million in local economic activity.

Boy Band Promoter Lou Pearlman Ordered To Repay $300M

Source:  www.thestar.com - Travis Reed
, The Associated Press

(July 16, 2008) ORLANDO, FLA.–Lou Pearlman and federal authorities have finally agreed on how much the former boy band promoter swindled from banks and investors in a decades-long scam: a staggering $300 million (dollar figures U.S.).

That's how much creator of the
Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync will have to repay, at a minimum, for restitution on the fraud conviction for which he's serving a 25-year prison sentence.

U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharpe on Wednesday asked prosecutors and defence attorneys to amend court documents with the agreed amount.

It will be difficult for Pearlman to repay all the money while he is behind bars. Pearlman made millions in the record industry in the 1990s, but investigators have found that money and more seemingly gone with the collapse of his Ponzi scheme.

He's been allowed to manage – at arm's length – the few remaining music acts he still has. He could also offer wages from whatever job he gets in federal prison, ranging from 12 cents an hour to $1.15 an hour for top-scale factory work.

Attorneys from both sides, the FBI and FDIC determined Pearlman took $195 million from more than 1,000 people in an alleged savings program promising 6 per cent to 10 per cent returns, and $126.7 million in bogus loans from federally insured banks. Another $70 million was invested by people who thought they were buying shares in companies owned by Pearlman that mostly had no assets. About $95 million was returned to investors over the years, documents show.

But Pearlman's restitution could go up. Sharpe delayed judgment on prosecutors' request to tack on $124 million in interest payments to victims, saying he wanted to see Pearlman return some of the principal first.

"If they had not provided their money to Mr. Pearlman, they would have received interest or some return on their investment," Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg argued in court.

Pearlman's attorney, former public defender Fletcher Peacock, said adding interest would only dissuade Pearlman from repaying any of his debt. Peacock also said it was unfair because the money was never invested.

"This is not a case of where Mr. Pearlman accrued an amount of interest and objected to giving that back to people," Peacock said. "This interest was fictional."

In May, Sharpe said he would shave a month off Pearlman's sentence for each $1 million he returned. So far, Handberg said, no additional money has been recovered.

A federally appointed trustee has found few assets to compensate victims, some of whom lost their life savings.

The judge has ordered that individual investors be repaid first, then banks. He wanted them punished for poorly judging Pearlman worthy of multimillion dollar loans, many secured with the same collateral.

While reserving judgment on interest, Sharpe said it was unfair to charge Pearlman the high rates he promised investors because it would reward their poor decisions.

"Since the time of the sentencing all you've gotten from the defendant is the smirk on his face," Sharpe told prosecutors. "So let's try to get some money first."

Sharpe remanded Pearlman to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which will transfer him to an undetermined facility. Pearlman had been at the Orange County jail, a few miles from his opulent former offices.

Perdita Pulls Plug On Beijing Comeback ...

Source:  www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar,
Entertainment Reporter

(July 13, 2008) Perdita Felicien has pulled the plug on her attempted comeback for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The 28-year-old Pickering hurdler, who hasn’t been able to compete since injuring her foot during training last February, is expected to make the announcement official tomorrow during a conference call.

Felicien attended the recent Canadian track and field trials in Windsor and was named to the Canadian Olympic team for Beijing conditional on being able to run the B standard of 13.11 seconds.

But it was becoming more and more apparent because of the time she had missed – she was on crutches for four weeks at one point – that even if she made the team, it would next to impossible for her to be competitive at the Beijing Games.

It’s a big blow to the Canadian Olympic team as Felicien was a silver medalist at last year’s world championships in a heartening comeback from the disastrous fall she suffered at the first hurdle at the 2004 Athens Games after entering as a favourite.

Felicien has said that regardless of how things turned out for Beijing that she’d continue through the 2012 London Olympics and that people shouldn’t feel sorry for her.

“Everybody looks at everything through the mirror of Athens,” said Felicien. “I don’t look at it that way. I don’t win medals that way, by looking in the past. I’m looking forward. I’m working my butt off to be there (in Beijing).

“But if for someone reason I’m not, you’re going to get people that say ‘That’s too bad. Poor Perdita. Poor Perdita.’ No, it’s not poor Perdita, because I absolutely feel blessed to do what I do and to do it for a living. And I still do feel like my best race is ahead of me. I haven’t run the race of my life that’s going to seal off my career. And that’s why I wake up every morning, that’s what keeps me going.”

Miss Venezuela Named Miss Universe

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ben Stocking,
The Associated Press

(July 14, 2008) NHA TRANG, Vietnam – Miss Venezuela was crowned Miss Universe 2008 on Monday in a contest marked by the spectacle of Miss USA falling down during the evening gown competition for the second year in a row.

The new Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, was once kidnapped in her homeland and says the experience taught her to remain poised under pressure.

Tension got under the skin of Miss USA, Crystle Stewart of Texas, who tripped on the train of her bejewelled evening gown as she made her entrance.

During the 2007 Miss Universe contest in Mexico City, Miss USA Rachel Smith also tumbled during the evening gown competition and became an unintended star on YouTube, where the video was shown over and over again.

At a news conference after this year's event, a beaming Mendoza said she wasn't yet sure where her upcoming year of whirlwind appearances would take her. But after a quick stop in New York, she wants to see her family again, enjoy some of her mom's home cooking and give everyone hugs.

"When I go back to Venezuela I will jump on my family and they will jump on me," said Mendoza.

In the meantime, Mendoza said, she is simply looking forward to taking off her high-heeled shoes and massaging her feet.

She declined to discuss her kidnapping, which occurred a year and a half ago, but took advantage of the occasion to call for global peace.

"I want to raise my voice and tell the world that violence is not the answer," she said.

Mendoza, 22, is a 5-foot, 10-inch (178-centimeter), green-eyed beauty who enjoys learning languages and photography. She appeared at the news conference in the flowing yellow dress and dangling turquoise earrings that she wore during the evening gown competition in which Stewart took her spill.

Stewart, 26, is a motivational speaker and former track and field star who is working on a book called "Waiting to Win." The Houston native plans to open a character-development school for young children and has worked with students with autism in the Texas schools.

During a weekend interview with the Associated Press, Stewart said she felt very confident going into the show and couldn't imagine experiencing the same calamity as her predecessor.

"All I can offer to the world and to America is to do my best," Stewart said. "Nerves don't play a part in this.''

The final five contestants included four from Latin America: Miss Mexico, Miss Dominican Republic, Miss Colombia and Miss Venezuela. Rounding out the final five was Miss Russia.

Miss Colombia finished second behind Mendoza.

Miss Thailand won the prize for best national costume and Miss El Salvador was chosen by her peers as Miss Congeniality.

The NBC show was hosted by talk show star Jerry Springer and Spice Girl Melanie Brown and broadcast live to hundreds of millions of viewers in 170 countries.

The tuxedoed Springer made a grand entrance on a motorbike – the vehicle of choice in Vietnam, where the streets are teeming with millions of the speeding two-wheelers.

Eighty contestants gathered in the seaside city of Nha Trang, Vietnam, vying to succeed previous Miss Universe Riyo Mori of Japan.

Sporting yellow, green and orange bikinis, the 15 semi-finalists strutted across the stage during the swimsuit competition to the sounds of Lady Gaga, who belted out the pulsating "Just Dance" in a platinum blond wig. Miss Vietnam, Lam Thuy Nguyen, was greeted with a roar from the Vietnamese audience.

The final 10 then competed in the evening gown event.

They performed in front of a panel of judges that included international fashion experts and Donald Trump Jr., whose father, the real estate magnate and TV star, co-owns the pageant with NBC.

This year's contestants spanned a wide range of experiences and aspirations.

Miss Albania was a professional basketball player. Miss Argentina says she has paranormal experiences. Miss Antigua & Barbuda is fascinated by snakes. Miss Angola was in a plane crash while trying to escape a conflict during her country's civil war.
 

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Paradise Found – St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Source: Melanie Reffes

Strung like a necklace in the southeastern Caribbean – thirty minutes as the gull flies from Barbados- St Vincent and the Grenadines is a strand of thirty-two islands stretching across the cobalt sea. With short distances between them, they have long been a top draw for sailors and yachties; however, savvy travelers are now catching on to the unspoiled splendour that is St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

St. Vincent


The heart of the archipelago is St. Vincent with lush mountains, flowered hillsides, black sandy shorelines created from volcanic ash and underwater life that rate amongst the best in the world with healthy reefs and a riotous array of marine species. With a movie-perfect landscape, it’s no wonder Hollywood filmed the swashbuckler trilogy Pirates of the Caribbean on the west coast.

The cobblestone capital of Kingstown is easy to navigate on foot although there are plenty of taxis available.  With cannons still pointed inland, Fort Charlotte is a must-see while centuries-old churches beckon history buffs. The Methodist Church was built by freed slaves and the nearby St. George’s Cathedral salutes the Georgian period with a galleried interior dating to 1880.  Close to the ferry pier, the Market is a cornucopia of tropical treasures busiest on Friday and Saturday when fish, fruit and crafts are sold from bustling stalls that spill onto the sidewalk.  Nearby, Heritage Square comes alive when the sun sets with musicians providing a soundtrack of get-up-and-dance rhythms.

Without all-inclusives and swim-up bars, St. Vincent is all about Mother Nature at her finest. The best black sand beaches are on the west coast at Wallilabou (where Pirates was filmed), Cumberland Bay and Richmond Beach.   Brighton Salt Pond is a favourite for locals who come to take a dip and knock back a few at the beach bars.  

Founded in 1765 and the oldest in the western hemisphere,   Botanical Gardens is a green wonderland with stately teak, mahogany and breadfruit trees that were brought from Tahiti by Captain Bligh after his Mutiny on the Bounty failed. With gentle currents and a unruffled surface, diving is best on the west and south coasts where impressive walls give way to a luminous kaleidoscope seen no where else on the planet.–www.divestvincent.com -    A drive up the Leeward highway is a dreamy mélange of waterfalls, sleepy fishing hamlets and greener than green rainforests chocked full of wildlife and rare bird species. La Soufriere Volcano at more than 1200 meters high is still active and recommended for the hikers in the crowd. 

Accommodations are quaint and include the Cobblestone Inn overlooking the harbour - www.thecobblestoneinn.com/ - and Beachcombers Hotel - www.beachcombers.com –with a seaside eatery specializing in a delectable Vincy salt cod. Perched on a hill with glorious views of the bay, Grenadine House - www.grenadinehouse.com/- gets rave reviews from foodies who swoon over Vancouver-born Chef Winston Ferguson’s honey truffle pasta. 
I infuse local ingredients with foreign techniques and creativity, “he says buzzing around his pristine kitchen. 

At the water’s edge, Mariner Hotel’s - www.marinershotel.com- and its gourmet French Verandah Restaurant bustles till the last person leaves. A two-minute ferry away, Young Island - www.youngisland.com-   is a chic retreat with sparkling beaches, hummingbirds flitting about the nutmeg trees , guava seed foot scrubs at the Spa Kalina and swishy cottages including   # 6  where Johnny Depp stayed while filming the Pirates movies.  Scrumptious fruity bread is the star attraction and according to Chef Christopher John, his loaves leave a lasting impression. “When our guests get home,   they tell me they miss my warm slices of cinnamon toast.”  Note to bread fans: A take-home loaf is US$4.50.

The Grenadines

Measuring 18 square kilometres, Bequia is the largest atoll in the chain. Ferries pull into Port Elizabeth with its funky bars, restaurants and the Market the Canadian government helped to build in 1991. Gingerbread houses shaded by almond trees and draped in bougainvillea are scattered about while golden sandy beaches disappear into coves. Steeped in maritime history, model boat builders like Corsini Pollard are delighted to offer tours of their studios. “It takes me three weeks to fashion a boat from the wood of a gum tree, “he says showing off one his finest creations.  Accommodations include Firefly - www.fireflybequia.com - , a plantation house set in coconut and banana groves and Frangipani Hotel - www.frangipanibequia.com, overlooking the yachts in Admiralty Bay. Not yet a year old, Bequia Beach Hotel - www.bequiabeach.com- is adding swanky suites to open in December.

As famous for its celebrity beachcombers as it is for its sultry sunsets, Mustique is coveted for its lack of crowds and traffic lights. Mick Jagger owns a villa, so does Tommy Hilfiger and Canadian rocker Bryan Adams. Herons and sandpipers strut in the sun and frigate birds glide overhead while the rest of us wile the day away in a swaying hammock or on one of the nine white coral beaches. Cotton House www.cottonhouseresort.com – impresses with a pillow menu, sorbet on the beach and vistas of the sea from the Spa. Sitting on stilts over Brittania Bay, Basil’s Bar - www.basilsmustique.com - is lorded over by Basil Charles and his partner, Dianne Wilson who moved from Ottawa in 2002. “Wednesday night is our “jump-up” and if Mick is in the mood, you may hear the concert of a lifetime,” she smiles.

A fifteen minute flight from St. Vincent , Canouan is home to the uber-luxe Trump International Golf Club – www.trumpgolf.com - and  Raffles Resort  - www.raffles.com -  with the Amrita Spa - www.amritaspa.com –that tempts with a lemon and ginger salt glow and a sea crystal body polish.  No airport and a tiny unnamed village, Mayreau sits on a perfectly half-moon shaped beach. Chocked full of Marley memorabilia, Robert Righteous’ & de Youths Seafood Restaurant is legendary for fish so fresh they’re still mad.

Union Island is the departure point for scuba excursions; Palm Island suits seclusion- seekers, Petit
St. Vincent is a nature sanctuary and the five islets protected by a rainbow-coloured reef are the Tobago Cays. 

From traversing nature trails to fine dining under the stars, there is something for every vacationer in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

www.svgtourism.com1-800-729-1726

Mark your Calendar:

December 16 to Christmas
    Nine Mornings - Music and partying from dawn to dusk.

January -Mustique Blues Festival – Live music till the sun sets at Basil’s Bar.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Algebra: R&B Artist's Debut Album Brings A New Curriculum To The Music Scene

Source: nathalie@thinktankmktg.com, www.thinktankmktg.com

(July 11, 2008) Ironically there are no textbooks or classroom instructions that could help one balance the equations of Kedar Massenburg's newest protégé, ALGEBRA.

The Atlanta native insists that one can only discover her sonically. As an R&B solo artist with such a simple solution, when mainstream success seems to be more about the right hair, nails and make -up, ALGEBRA'S debut album PURPOSE is the perfect curriculum for breathing life back in to a genre overwrought by factory made clones.

No stranger to performing, ALGEBRA has been lending her melodic voice to projects by Monica and Bilal for years.  However, singing for other artists was about as out of character for her as having someone write songs for her.

"Even when someone else wrote a song specifically for me, I felt like I was still being a background singer for myself".

As the music scene in Atlanta became the hot bed of popular music, ALGEBRA taught herself to play guitar and performed regularly at open mics. 
This pivotal point in her career afforded her the time to develop her writing and performance skills even further without the harness of a prescribed format.

"Soon you learn not to care what others think, you learn to perform for you. I would come back week after week and I learned to perform for balance and for freedom. I was becoming alive".  This organic approach permeates her music. ALGEBRA can easily be pop, rock, rap funk or crunk, yet she can breathe ballads effortlessly.
 
Collaborating with award-winning songwriter and producer Brian Michael Cox on "What Happened" quickly proved to be a true showcase of her brilliance. This soulful ballad is delivered so honestly and with such vulnerability that it sounds like it could be her autobiography. A song filled with PURPOSE. 

ALGEBRA'S definitive voice and identity is one of full disclosure. "I don't want to be boxed," she asserts. The litmus test of what she would create lies in being relatable and in offering complete truth in every word she sings.  On the song "At This Time" she pours her heart out, placing herself on display to someone whom she has waited a long time to unite with citing descriptive and colourful lyrics, "My arms brag to each other bout how you feel/From conversations I know what they feel is real". The current single "Run & Hide" produced by the creator of the polka-dot error in hip hop himself, Kwame' is a testament to all fellas that Miss

ALGEBRA will not settle for just any 'ol guy with lame game. Better come correct or don't come at all.   As the first artist to be released on the revamped Kedar Entertainment Group, ALGEBRA enters the contemporary soul music landscape following legacies created by artists like D'Angelo, Erykah Badu and India.Arie all of whom developed under the watchful eye of Massenburg. However her sound is unique. ALGEBRA at first is unassuming, but it takes mere moments for you to recognize that she is not just a tempest in a teapot but more like the catalyst of a paradigm shift.

When asked the question, what does PURPOSE mean to her and this project that she has waited so long to share with the world; ALGEBRA replies "The defining moment of purpose is when you realize all that you have is worth less than nothing and still, life is worth living." With there being only two universal languages in this world - Math and Music; fate would have it, southern songbird ALGEBRA represents both!

Check out her single, "Run & Hide": http://streaming.thinktankmktg.com/audio/algebra-run_and_hide.wma

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/algebrablessett

Dry Concert Leaves Fans On Edge In Otherwise Fine Festival Relaunch

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner,
Pop Music Critic

(July 14, 2008) Going to a big concert these days is like getting on a plane; you put up with a lot of unpleasantness as a matter of course, and you're pleasantly surprised when the experience isn't totally insulting.

The relaunch of venerable Toronto modern-rock institution
Edgefest at Downsview Park on Saturday was painless in so many regards – including its musical line-up, topped this year by Linkin Park, the reunited Stone Temple Pilots, Sam Roberts and the Bravery.

Nevertheless, if you invite 20,000 people to spend the day at an $80-a-head rock 'n' roll party, you'd better not deny them beer, which is exactly what the otherwise flawless Edgefest set-up did.

Entry was smooth and hassle-free. Security was unobtrusive. The concession stands were plentiful and varied. And the property itself, which conveniently encircled the main stage in a massive, C-shaped natural incline, was perfect for this kind of event. Even the deep, sticky patches of mud that had developed in high-traffic areas by the end of an intermittently rainy day were mostly avoidable.

Still, the highest-traffic area was the line-up for the lone beer garden, a fenced-in gulag to the north side of the festival grounds, which drew a queue that, at one point, snaked almost all the way across the back of the site to the entrance. Most of us simply accepted that this was to be a "dry" event the moment we laid eyes on the line, but evidently others were more optimistic.

"I waited four hours in line for two beers," one aghast patron told me on the bus ride back to Downsview station. Dozens of other would-be drinkers charged the two rows of fencing and leaped into the licensed area before security and cops could nab them. These amusing shenanigans didn't let up until, in typical Toronto fashion, they cut off the beer sales altogether around 8 p.m.

Something about Edgefest had obviously riled Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland, too, who sashayed onstage in a black-leather suit in reasonably good vocal form to the first strains of "Big Empty" but soon sounded like he was deliberately sabotaging tunes like "Big Bang Baby," "Sour Girl" and "Tripping on a Hole in a Paper Heart" with sneeringly awful, off-key performances.

There were enough complaints from the stage about "psychedelic conditions" and the fact that it was "midday" (it was after 8), not to mention a sarcastic invitation to Linkin Park's Chester "Benson" (it's actually Bennington) to join STP for a tune, that one could deduce there might have been some bruised egos involved in Stone Temple Pilots' second-from-the-top Edgefest billing. Whatever the case, STP's fawning crowd didn't deserve to be treated with open contempt and to a half-assed set after standing in the rain in silence for a good chunk of the evening.

Linkin Park has its believers though and the Sam Roberts Band was its usual, amiable self while churning out slightly hippie-fied guitar-rock jams in the late afternoon. Stone Temple Pilots' washout was thus a blip on the program, while the mostly punk-rock line-up on the second stage – which gave some welcome space to indie acts such as Toronto's the Coast and Modernboys Moderngirls and Montreal's Creature – wound out in fittingly furious fashion with the Flatliners.

There was more audible griping about the beer situation than the weather or Weiland at Edgefest 2008, so with a few tweaks this institution might have found its new dream home at Downsview. Please, though, do some tweaking.

Musicians Unite For Midsummer Magic In Elora

Source:  www.thestar.com - John Terauds,
Classical Music Critic

(July 14, 2008) ELORA–Nestled comfortably in the pastoral dales north of Guelph, the Elora Festival is a reliable cradle for fine midsummer musicmaking.

The 29th season received a rousing start over the weekend, beginning on Friday night with a performance of George Frideric Handel's grand 1748 oratorio Solomon, followed on Saturday by Black Umfolosi and capped last evening by New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, who made a fresh stop on her farewell recital tour.

The diva's visit placed an international stamp of approval on the rural festival's unorthodox large-concert venue: A cavernous Wellington County roadworks barn (complete with broken asphalt floor) situated across the street from the Grand River racetrack and slots.

Te Kanawa's sold-out recital borrowed from the same program that Torontonians heard at Roy Thomson Hall last fall. But it's not every year that we get to hear Solomon, especially with soloists the calibre of soprano Karina Gauvin and young tenor Lawrence Williford.

Like the nearly month-long festival, which closes on Aug. 3, Friday's Solomon produced a mixed bag of styles, ranging from the fleet textures we might hear from a period-performance ensemble, to heavy Victorian-style melodrama.

There were many times on Friday that conductor (and Elora Festival artistic director) Noël Edison seemed to be channelling the ghost of Thomas Beecham, deeply mining the rich harmonies at a deliberate – if not downright poky – pace.

The Baroque-sized orchestra, playing modern instruments, was notably rough at times and baritone James Westman made a mess of the single solo he had to sing during the two-hour piece.

The Elora Festival singers and the soloists – which also included countertenor Robin Blaze and mezzo Jennifer Enns Modolo – erased those blots with gorgeously nuanced and shaped singing.

And, when the whole was going well, the experience rivalled any of the world's great summer festivals.

Gauvin, in gorgeous voice and full artistic bloom, gave everything as she sang with a particularly touching immediacy, which culminated in a riveting plea to Solomon to spare the life of her infant son.

The choir and orchestra had their finest moment in one of Handel's prettiest choruses, which protects the newlywed Solomon and the Queen with the injunction, "May no rash intruder disturb their soft hours."

It was so magical that even the rough-hewn venue felt bathed in a golden glow.

This week's best bets: Jazz crooner Laila Biali on Thursday night or tenor Colin Ainsworth singing Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin on Saturday afternoon. For full festival information, visit www.elorafestival.com.

Will Feist's Famous Number Be A Monster Hit With Children?

Source: 
www.globeandmail.com - Siri Agrell

(July 16, 2008) One, two, three, four, get ready to hear that song some more.

Canadian singer
Leslie Feist will appear on the Aug. 11 season premiere of Sesame Street, performing a modified version of her ubiquitous hit song 1234, and joining a long list of notable artists who have lent their lyrics to the popular children's show.

A video of the Juno Award-winning singer appeared on YouTube over the weekend, showing her strolling down Sesame Street extolling her love of counting to four.

In the original video for the song, Ms. Feist is joined by an array of colourfully dressed dancers. In this performance, she is accompanied by a posse of Muppets, including four monsters (walking cross the floor), penguins (that were by the door), and chickens (just back from the shore).

The lyrics of the poppy, wistful song have been changed from their tribute to “old teenage hopes … alive at your door” into an ode to counting.

“Oh you're counting, counting with me,” Ms. Feist sings, “to one less than five and one more than three.”

The song will appear in the first episode of the beloved show's 39th season, which will focus on mathematics and literacy. She will also perform an original song accompanied by the Muppet Elmo.

A representative for Ms. Feist said she was unavailable yesterday, as she is on route to a performance in Utah. But at the Juno Awards this spring, she raved about getting the opportunity to sing alongside some furry friends.

“It was the Muppets and it was the best day of my life,” the singer said.

The song has already brought the 32-year-old no end of attention and adoration. Last year, Apple featured the video in a commercial for the iPod Nano, rocketing the tune to the heights of hipster popularity.

Now, parents who are probably a little burned out on the indie darling will have to listen to little Madison and Declan humming along to her infectious melodies.

“We use celebs so that parents will remain engaged and we know that children learn best when watching with an adult,” said Sesame Street's Carol Lynn Parente.

Ms. Feist is just the latest celebrity performer to rework an educational message into a song for Sesame Street.

Last year, British crooner James Blunt performed an altered version of his ballad Beautiful, singing about his love for the triangle.

Norah Jones sang a song called Don't Know ‘Y' about being stood up by the absentee letter, and Johnny Cash performed Don't Take Your Ones to Town with Big Bird, a kid-friendly play on his song Don't Take Your Guns to Town.

Even celebrated classical musicians have been drawn to the show.

Andrea Bocelli sang Elmo to sleep with a modified version of his hit pop-opera song Time to Say Goodbye.

Yo Yo Ma has also made an appearance, performing “the Beethoven quartet for two honkers, dinger and cello,” along with several Muppets who squeezed their own noses to produce his accompaniment. The song, Mr. Ma explained, was written by the famous Muppet Murray Beethoven.

This season of Sesame Street seems determined to step up its pop culture cred.

A character named Max the Magician, played by Will Arnett of Arrested Development, will perform amazing feats of math.

Soccer stud David Beckham will drop by, presumably in more than his underwear, as will Project Runway's Heidi Klum and Jack Black of Kung Fu Panda.

The show will also feature parodies of grown-up television programs including 30 Rocks and Are You Smarter Than an Egg Layer.

Krauss, Plant Address Two Musical Nations

Source:  www.thestar.com - Greg Quill,
Entertainment Columnist

(July 15, 2008) Two musical nations with little common ground – the diehard country-bluegrass crew to whom American singer and fiddler Alison Krauss is a golden-haired goddess, and veteran classic rockers and hard blues dudes who idolize Robert Plant – came together last night at the sold-out Molson Amphitheatre for a mutually rewarding crossover ritual that seemed to take many by surprise.

"Who's Alison Krauss?" one young man sporting his prize Led Zeppelin T-shirt asked a perfect stranger as he headed for his seat. In another aisle, a couple in cowboy hats, jeans and Cuban heel boots were pondering aloud whether Krauss had sold out by teaming up with Plant for the year's unlikeliest hit album, the platinum-selling rockabilly-bluegrass-jump-gospel hybrid Raising Sand, and subsequent tour, which has broken all box office expectations and has been extended from its original July 31 finale through October.

There's no doubt that teaming up was a phenomenally clever cross-marketing ploy. For that credit goes to legendary American roots music producer, guitarist and songwriter T-Bone Burnett (O, Brother, Where Art Thou?, Down From The Mountain), who came up with the idea and the material for the album. For the tour, he put together a killer band that includes Nashville's hottest and hippest musicians, Buddy Miller on guitar and pedal steel, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, mandolin, banjo and guitar: onstage it seems perfectly natural, unique and well crafted synthesis of the obsessions of all three principals.

Make no mistake. Plant and Krauss drew the fans and gave both nations enough to keep them happy (Plant contributed a loopy, bluesy versions of Zep's "Black Dog" and "Battle Of Evermore" and his own solo hit "In The Mood"; Krauss served up righteous readings of "Down To The River To Pray," "Matty Groves" and Gene Clark's murder waltz "Through The Morning, Through The Night"). But the real stars of last night's show were Burnett – dressed in a high collar, vest and mourning coat, he commanded the proceedings with the aplomb and firm hand of a vintage master showman – and the band.

The fusion of Celtic/Appalachian folk, Mississippi and Texas blues, pure country gospel, Creole rhythms and primordial rock 'n' roll is the product of Burnett's lively imagination, the manifestation of his encyclopaedic knowledge of and familiarity with American music idioms. In Plant's fascination with the blues and other American folk forms and Krauss's almost religious musical purism, Burnett found his catalysts. And while it's not so hard to make magic in the studio, with the likes of guitar wizard Marc Ribot and folk instrumentalist Mike Seeger, it takes a special talent to make it work live.

With Miller, Duncan, drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist Dennis Crouch, Burnett has an ensemble that matches his musical wisdom and intuitiveness, a band capable of playing this odd brand of acoustic-electric folk-rock with symphonic grace and punk muscle. As finely melded and elegantly harmonized as Plant's and Krauss's voices were on their various joint efforts – most notably "Gone Gone Gone" near the show's end and the opener, "Rich Woman" – the stage last night belonged to Burnett and his amazing band.

Mint Condition Gets An 'E-Life'

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(July 16, 2008)  *It’s a rarity in contemporary urban music, where a band of musicians – musicians that play instruments – create five successful studio albums, more than a dozen hit singles, world tours and collabos with some of the biggest names in music. It is a lone example that falls under one condition – Mint Condition.

The band, at its commercial pinnacle in the early ‘90s, catapulted to fame with their hit “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes).”

With lead singer Stokley Williams' treble powerhouse vocals and the funk, R&B, pop hybrid sound the band was the ultimate of a generation and has since become the model of modern R&B.

With their new disc, “E-Life”, Williams, Jeffrey Allen, Ricky Kinchen, Homer O’Dell, and Lawrence Waddell, move into the techno-age with a very solid old-school blend.

The five-man band is currently doing select dates in promotion of the new disc, but EUR’s Lee Bailey caught up with bass man Kinchen and keyboardist Waddell about the new project and its inspiration.

“It’s everyday situational stuff,” Waddell began in explaining the disc’s title. “but in the context of today’s e-world; the world of text messaging, cell phones, MySpace. Nowadays you meet people on MySpace so the relationship may have started on MySpace. It’s that type of world now.”

Band mate Kinchen admitted that he was rather caught up in that e-world, spending much of his time on MySpace, in fact.

“At one point, I wasn’t getting any work done in the studio,” he admitted. “It was kind of affecting my kids and that’s kind of the intro of 'Baby Boy Baby Girl.' It was taking away from me doing other things and I had to kind of get my life together, it’s summertime, I need to focus on my kids a little bit more and making sure I’m taking them to the park and everything, instead of e-mailing all day.”

That epiphany sparked the lead single which features Anthony Hamilton.

“I always wanted to work with him,” Kinchen said. “He was the one who came through and was feeling the project and kind of helped us out. He has kids and he could relate to the whole thing.”

Another track on the disc, “I Wish I Could Love You,” also deals with techno-world issues.

“The song was influenced by a girl that one of the guys was seeing,” Kinchen continued. “She would just be on the phone all the time, talking and text messaging. So, some of the songs relate to the whole text messaging and sex messaging thing. People today can’t really communicate; they can’t really say what they want to say (verbally), but they can say it in a text message.”

However, in addition to some lyrical content on the disc, the band explained that the way the project was produced also ties into the disc title.

“Some of the record we’d record together and then I’d be out of town and my part wasn’t cutting it so I had to do it over. So I would have to plug in my laptop, plug the base into to it, e-mail it to Stoke and he’d drop it into the song and he’d go mix it,” Kinchen described. “So we did a lot of file sharing with this record and that had a lot to do with the title, too.”

Waddell added that although he’s not as addicted to the web as some of his band mates, he relates to the “E-Life” theory.

“I do some classes online, but since I do that, I don’t even really want to be on it that much, so the social aspect hasn’t happened for me that much,” he said. “But I relate to it. It is our world. It pretty much permeates every activity almost. You have a cell – you’re gonna text; you’re gonna check directions; for me it’s school, so for all of us it’s still related. We are in an e-world.”

Waddell described a not-so-e-time, when the band was discovered in 1989 and first signed with legendary producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

“They had this multimillion dollar facility and we thought it was the most unbelievable stuff in the world,” he said. “Now you can get the same stuff, digitally, on computer. That’s even how we recorded it. This thing is there and we can’t get away from it. Even our recording process was e-recording in a way.”

Whatever way it got done, “E-Life” was done well. The disc doesn’t disappoint with the Mint Condition brand of funky R&B that only real musicians could provide.

“I think it is a difficult road,” Waddell said of staying the course or being a band. “I do feel like we’re in the vanguard in a lot of ways as far as trying to stay with what we do, which is actually playing and being a self-contained band. I don’t say ‘in the vanguard’ in a snobbish way or thinking no one else has anything to contribute because they don’t do it that way, but I’m very proud of the way we do it.”

“E-Life” is available now. For more on the band and tour dates, check out their official website at
www.mintconditionmusic.com.

“It is hard, difficult, but certain,” Waddell continued, “and we keep trudging because we believe in the song. The song transcends.”

Michelle Williams Has Hit Single

Source: Columbia Records

(July 16, 2008)  *NEW YORK - Grammy-winning pop music superstar Michelle Williams has just hit the No 1 slot on the Billboard Hot Dance Airplay chart with "We Break The Dawn," the first single from her forthcoming solo album, Unexpected.

Michelle's irresistible dance/pop anthem, which features the Florida-based rapper Flo Rida, is currently scaling Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play (No 16) and Hot Singles Sales (No 34) charts and promises to be one the most memorable singles of summer '08.

Premiered for fans via an exclusive first listen on People.com on March 31, "We Break The Dawn" was praised by music writer Brian Orloff as heralding a " ... hot new look - and new sound - for former Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams."

Michelle lensed a sizzling music video for the track in Los Angeles last April with noted British director Phil Griffin (Amy Winehouse, Paul McCartney, Prince).

"We Break The Dawn" is produced by Wayne Wilkins and Andrew Frampton, who co-wrote the track with the singer/songwriter Solange Knowles. (The sister of Beyonce Knowles, Michelle's ensemble-mate and musical colleague in Destiny's Child, Solange has written songs for Beyonce, Destiny's Child, Kelly Rowland and Trinitee 5:7.)

"We Break The Dawn" is giving Michelle's fans their first taste of Unexpected, her long-awaited new full-length solo album, due out on Tuesday, August 12 from Music World/Columbia Records.

One of the year's most avidly-anticipated new releases, the aptly-titled Unexpected, the artist's third solo album and first since 2004's Do You Know, is a bold new collection of contemporary pop/dance classics, the next step in the breathtaking musical evolution of Michelle Williams.

Executive produced by Mathew Knowles for Music World Productions and Michelle Williams, Unexpected finds Michelle collaborating with some of today's hottest producers including Jim Jonsin (Jamie Foxx featuring Ludacris, Sean Paul, Danity Kane, Trina featuring Kelly Rowland, Pretty Ricky, Lil Wayne featuring Static Major, Bow Wow and Omarion); Rico Love (Usher, Omarion, Natasha Bedingfield, Tiffany Evans featuring Bow Wow); Wayne Wilkins (Natasha Bedingfield, Kylie Minogue, Pink, No Doubt); Andrew Frampton (Natasha Bedingfield, Kylie Minogue); StarGate and more.

Other stand-out tracks on Unexpected include the album's second single, "Stop This Car," produced by StarGate, the Norwegian production team behind No 1 hits for Ne-Yo and Rihanna as well as Beyonce's "Irreplaceable," the biggest song of the year on the Hot 100 Billboard Year End Chart 2007.

American R&B and gospel singer Michelle Williams rose to international renown after joining Destiny's Child, the top-selling female group of all time, in 2000. As a member of Destiny's Child, Michelle received three Grammy Awards and performed on several No 1 hit singles by the group.

With the arrival of her debut album, the gospel-infused Heart To Yours in 2002, Michelle Williams-who'd originally entered show business as a backing vocalist for the R&B performer Monica-became the first member of Destiny's Child to release a solo record. Heart To Yours entered the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart at No 1, peaked at No 3 on the Top Contemporary Christian Albums chart and became the year's top-selling Gospel album.

Her second solo album, Do You Know, achieved similar success to her debut, peaking at No 2 on the Top Gospel Albums chart and No 3 on the Top Christian Albums chart following its release in 2004.

Michelle Williams made her on-stage acting debut in 2003, replacing R&B icon Toni Braxton in the title role of "Aida," the hit Broadway musical with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice.

In February 2006, Michelle made her television acting debut on the UPN comedy series, "Half & Half" and, later that year, appeared in the FOX reality series, "Celebrity Duets" performing Destiny's Child's "Say My Name" with Jai Rodriguez.

Beginning in April 2007, Michelle Williams joined the national touring company - performing extended runs in Chicago and San Francisco with members of the original Broadway cast - of the hit musical adaptation of "The Color Purple."

It's Noel Gourdin's 'Time'

Source: 
www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M Yarbrough

(July 14, 2008) *Singer Noel Gourdin (Gor-deen) may be a new name on the scene, but his sound is quite familiar.

Gourdin’s debut disc, “After My Time” is dripping with that old-school soul reminiscent of masters such as Marvin Gaye, Tyrone Davis, and Otis Redding.

And while Gourdin is merely in the very young stage of becoming a great name like his influences, he hopes the disc catapults his career ahead of its time.

“You’ve heard quite a few artist that are considered to be ‘before their time,’” Gourdin said in explaining the title of the new album. “Their expertise and music could come out now and still be relevant and such a hit. My concept and my records are story driven and have a message and are respectful and tasteful. I could see myself coming out with the Motown swing and the soul swing – with the Marvin Gayes and Sam Cookes and the old soul groups. I could see myself coming out in that era, so hence the title ‘After My Time’.”

It seems to be Gourdin’s time no matter if it’s before or after. The lead single, “The River” is getting massive play on urban radio, and has been likened to the sound of his contemporaries D’Angelo and John Legend. Gourdin is quite pleased to be held in such company, and like them, he told EUR’s Lee Bailey, he’d like to be a part of the movement that’s bringing soul back to soul music.

“I’m trying to bring that music back to let even young artists know that you can make music coming from the soul and be received well,” he said. “You don’t have to go out there and just do shake-booty music. You can do music that’s tasteful and get paid for it. I’m just trying to be real and not sacrifice my dignity.”

 “The River” is certainly being received well. The track was produced by Kay-Gee of Naughty By Nature fame, who also helped build the repertoires of Jaheim and Next.

“We were the fastest moving single by a male artist in the last five years,” Gourdin said of the hot track. “It’s great when you’re blessed with a record that really transcends. Now we’re in a place that I’m really feeling good about.”

Not only is “The River” an impressive throwback musically, but the lyrics also evoke memories and emotions of yesteryear. Gourdin explained that the inspiration of the song came when he and friends were sitting around sharing childhood stories, talking about family members, and just reflecting on life and paths they’d taken.

“We had signed a deal with Sony on November 15, 2005 and this was around February. We were sitting in the studio saying let’s make something with a lot of content and richness; let’s come up with something that had a real Negro spiritual feel, but at the same time, something that’s really relevant.”

After getting a track from producer Kay-Gee, Gourdin spent five hours in the studio and walked out with “The River.”

“I came out of the booth and said, ‘Yo, we got something special.’ Right away it reminded me of a new-age ‘Midnight Train to Georgia.’ It just had a lot of elements in there that no matter what their background, creed, age – all demographics could relate to in a way. It touches a lot of people,” he said. “It’s a good feeling record, but it has that melancholy feel.”

The song, and some other offerings of what the industry has tagged as “new soul” may be on the verge of bringing back old soul, but Gourdin agreed that it is still a bit difficult to get such lyricism and musicianship out to listeners. He explained that even “The River” had a three year shelf life before seeing the light of day. When he’d originally made the song, he was signed to Epic Records, where executives could not quite fit him in. He was then shifted to the Sony’s urban arm of Columbia Records where he sat for two years.

 “Nobody would take a chance because they were just scared,” he surmised. “They were scared about what the record said and how it would be perceived and they just wouldn’t take a chance on it.”

Fortunately famed manager and idol maker Johnny Wright (Janet Jackson, New Kids on the Block, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears) got wind of the track and called the President of Epic Records at SonyBMG Music Entertainment to ask about Gourdin. According to singer, Wright called “The River” the best record he’d heard in his life.

“We got signed back over to Epic. Now, things are moving forward. It’s just a blessing.”

Growing up just outside of Boston, Gourdin soaked up the music of Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye, and Otis Redding. He spent his summers with family in Biloxi, Mississippi where he soaked up rhythm & blues roots and culture. Raised both “up north” and “down south”, he humbly credits the combination for his gift.

“I don’t think that I would have been able to get so deep into this record as I did,” he said of recognizing his southern roots. “The conviction was incredible for me. It really was close to home. The record speaks volumes about me as a man so it was easy for me to dig down and give my all in the booth, and it really came across in the record.”

The fans certainly agree, with major momentum built by the chart-climbing “The River,” the disc’s time is none too soon. Still, Gourdin is keeping his cool even with a serious hit on his hands.

“I’m just a regular dude that just happened to be able to sing a little bit.”

 “After My Time” hits stores July 22. To hear the track and find out more about Noel Gourdin, check out www.noelgourdin.com. Or you can hit up his MySpace page, which features a fan line phone number, at www.myspace.com/noelgourdin.

Shirley Caesar Release 40 Years Of Her Music Ministry With New CD/DVD

Source: 
www.eurweb.com - By Eunice Moseley

(July 10, 2008) *“It dawned on me, you don’t know the old Shirley,” legendary Gospel singing sensation Pastor Shirley Caesar said about why she released the Light Records CD/DVD, “After 40 Years: Still Sweeping through the City.”

Shirley said that her recent albums consist of some contemporary sound, in fact her 2005 release, “I Know the Truth,” even had a featured Gospel rapper Tonex.

“One Sunday morning I was singing old hymns….at the pulpit teaching…and the audience loved it (old hymns) and the choir joined in. I was asked to do the old songs over again,” Caesar added.

That the pastor did, on her new label Light Records. The project became a CD/DVD set of 40 years of her music ministry. It includes such selections as “Peace in the Midst of the Storm” and “He’s Got it All Under Control.”

Shirley Caesar started singing professionally at a very young age with the Caravans (who were much older than her). She was so young that they had to get her mother’s permission, group founder Albertina Walker told me.

The native North Carolinian began her solo career in 1966 and rapidly became the First Lady of Gospel. Her achievements in the Gospel music ministry garnered her an Honorable Doctorate from Shaw and Southeastern Universities. She earned a Bachelors degree in business administration in 1984 and is a minister at a North Carolina church.

“Gospel music is big business,” the pastor said. “It’s bigger than classical, blues and country. There are so many facets of it…even Bluegrass Gospel.”

Shirley Caesar has won six Grammy Awards and seven Dove Awards for her projects and she has also performed on Broadway.

The “After 40 Years: Still Sweeping the City,” CD/DVD includes soul stirring performances and moving testimonies.

Caesar is finishing up a tour to promote the CD/DVD. It started in Miami in May and ends July 12th at the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest in Ottawa, ON. Shirley will also be performing with Yolanda Adams and Evangelist Juanita Bynum on September 19th. The performance will be at the Gospel Extravaganza in the WaMu Theater in Madison Square Gardens, NY.

Her album credits are so long that my research online only starts in the year 1995 and from that point on Caesar has released on the average two albums a year, in fact, in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005 she released three albums each year. Shirley has been signed to major labels like Sony and even “indie” labels such as Frank Music and Liquid 8.

The entire album is a must to hear. With each selection you can transport your mind to a time in the past where the selection played a big part in your life and the building and revitalization of the spirit. If you are young the old hymns will give you a little history on Gospel and the music industry as a world.

Learn more about Pastor Shirley Caesar and her newest release at www.shirleycaesar.com or www.lightrecords.com

Slipknot Ready For Their Close-Up

Source:  www.thestar.com - Mitchell Peters,
Billboard

(July 15, 2008) The moment is burned into the mind of Roadrunner Records president Jonas Nachsin.

It was 1999, and his label had convinced Ozzfest organizers to put its newly signed band,
Slipknot, on the festival's second stage.

Curious to see the band in action before its debut album came out, Nachsin took a drive to New Jersey, where Ozzfest was playing in Holmdel. While hard rock acts Black Sabbath, Slayer, Rob Zombie, System of a Down, Deftones and Godsmack attracted the masses, then-unknown Slipknot took the side stage before a respectable audience of about 200.

And then, Slipknot ripped into its set.

"People were running down the hill," Nachsin recalls. "They heard this cacophonous noise in the background and decided that they literally needed to run and go see what was going on. Those moments are incredibly rare." Nearly a decade after its debut at Ozzfest, Grammy-Award winner Slipknot has moved to the top of its genre, where the act is now co-headlining the inaugural Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, which launched July 9. (It hits Toronto's Downsview Park on Aug. 8.) The timing of the 30-date Mayhem trek couldn't arrive at a better time for Slipknot, which will release its fourth studio album, All Hope Is Gone, Aug. 26.

"I've spent the last 4 1/2 months getting in shape for the tour, because I want to come right out and destroy (stuff)," Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor says. "I want to come out on fire from the first show, like we never missed a beat." Taylor is excited to show off the band's new material, a more musically and emotionally mature sound than 2004's Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses.

For All Hope Is Gone, the nine-piece recorded in its home state of Iowa with producer Dave Fortman. "The songwriting is stronger," Taylor says. "It's not a million-miles-a-minute with a bunch of screaming and all that crap." Even so, "the chaos is there, but it's done in a more constrained way."

While All Hope Is Gone still maintains Slipknot's overall heaviness, dizzying guitar solos and double bass pedal madness, the set finds Taylor and mask-clad band mates Sid Wilson, Joey Jordison, Paul Gray, Chris Fehn, Jim Root, Craig "133" Jones, Shawn "Clown" Crahan and Mick Thomson experimenting with melodic overtones, which are best heard on tracks like "Vendetta,'' "Snuff" and "Dead Memories."

The expanded sound on the new album should help strengthen Nachsin's argument that Slipknot isn't strictly a "heavy band."

To stir up interest in All Hope Is Gone, Roadrunner slowly teased fans several months ago with online photos hinting at what Slipknot's new-and-improved masks would look like. "It started a fury of people guessing, 'What are these? Are they the new masks? Is the band going to perform in these heads?' " Roadrunner director of marketing Chris Brown says.

Although members of Slipknot have become widely recognized for their eerie masks, resembling characters such as Michael Myers (Halloween), Hannibal Lecter and Pinhead, band percussionist and artistic visionary Crahan believes the band's imagery is important but not everything. "It's about the music, art and the expression," he says from his home just outside of Des Moines. "Our fans are captured by a mindset, a culture."

MUSIC TIDBITS

Musical Scavenger Hunt On Toronto Islands

Source:  www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar,
Entertainment Reporter

(July 13, 2008) One of the funniest things about free shows is the juxtaposition of the hard-core fan versus those who just showed up by accident – or because the price is right. This afternoon's Poor Pilgrim Island show offers a perfect situation for that clash to occur, and organizer Matt Cully wouldn't have it any other way.  Best described as something of a musical scavenger hunt, Cully has organized 14 different performances at various locations and installations across the Toronto Islands. Starting on the 3:15 p.m. ferry ride featuring the drone-rock stylings of Heavy Water and culminating with a 10:45 performance of jazz-ish freakout-masters Feuermusik at the Hanlan's Point Ferry dock, the eclectic mix of artists showcases local musicians on the margins of folk, experimental, noise and improv music.  "It goes from solo kind of jazz improvised music to a big group of odd instrument improvised music to a guy playing the piano and singing, and then a dancer," he says.  "This big group of people shows up, sit down, play a 25-minute set and then just walk off somewhere. It's like a traveling circus; you're bound to grab a few people along the way." Cully – who is also in the local group Bruce Peninsula, and deejays at Goin' Steady nights at the Boat – held a Poor Pilgrim weekly night in 2007 at the Press Club, at which most of today's performers – who include experimental duo Nadja, Eric Chenaux and Alex Lukashevsky, played. He also held a version of this event last year, but now it has doubled in size and ambition, along with the logistical questions.  "I will be very happy if it runs completely smoothly and no one just wanders off and gets lost. But I am armed with a bunch of maps," he says. "In terms of the location, I walked the entire thing and all the times and locations have been mapped so that a person like my parents' age could walk between each event and not miss anything, pretty much, give or take."
  For artists' times and locations see myspace.com/poorpilgrim.

Teairra Mari Returns On Interscope

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(July 11, 2008) *Teairra Mari, the singer who made a stir in 2005 with the Def Jam single "Make Her Feel Good," is back with a new track titled "No No No," her first release under a new deal with Interscope. Managed by Cudda Love of Fo Real Entertainment, whose roster includes Nelly, Mari is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on her next as-yet-untitled album, slated for a late 2008/early 2009 release, reports Billboard.com. Mari was under the Def Jam family by then label-president Jay-Z, who signed her to his Roc-A-Fella imprint with the nickname, "Princess of the Roc."  Her first single "Make Her Feel Good" peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, while her first album, "Roc-A-Fella Records Presents Teairra Mari," reached No. 2 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 5 on The Billboard 200.  The singer said she was about to start work on the follow-up album when she heard that Def Jam had dropped her.  "I got a call before my high-school graduation," recalls Mari. "I kept it to myself for about six months; I didn't even tell my mom. Then news about it started coming out on the radio. I stopped doing music for a year." Mari was eventually introduced to Cudda Love, who brought her to Los Angeles, where she cut several songs and eventually signed with his company.  Meanwhile, Mari has been hired as the spokeswoman for Love's jeans line Jean Addicts, which bows officially in the fall. She also appears in the film "Doorman," due later this year.

Shaggy's 'Rush' Up German Charts

Source: 
www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson

(July 10, 2008) *He hasn’t had a hit in the US in a while but Jamaican dancehall/pop star Shaggy is sitting pretty at the top of the pop music charts in Germany with his UEFA theme song Feel the Rush. Feel the Rush soared to number one knocking Love Is You by Thomas Godos from the top spot.   Shaggy recently picked up a plaque in Germany for the success of the single.  And still on Shaggy, Feel the Rush is currently showing up on several major pop music charts across Europe. It has hit the top ten in Switzerland, Austria, and Sweden.   And more Shaggy news, his most recent album Intoxication which debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae Album chart last year, has re-entered the chart this week at number fifteen.  Here’s a quick glance at some of the hits from Shaggy which have dented the European music charts over the past fifteen years.  Angel, Oh Carolina, Bombastic, It Wasn’t Me, Freaky Girl, Dance and Shout, Luv Me Luv Me, Hey Sexy Lady, Strength of a Woman, Get My Party On (featuring Chaka Khan) and Me Julie (featuring Ali G).

Untitled: Nas

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry


(Island Def Jam/Columbia)
http://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_halfstar.gif(out of 4)
(July 15, 2008) It's the album with no name, since the 34-year-old New Yorker earned the ire of critics such as political activist Jesse Jackson with plans to call his ninth record the N-word. The pejorative remains a recurring theme of the project that is a 15-track treatise on inequality – "Pyramids, to cotton fields, to Wrigley Field/forgotten men who did get killed/Betsy Ross sold her first American flag/Bet she had a n----- with her to help her old ass" ("You Can't Stop Us Now") – and artistic freedom – "
Nas the only true rebel since the beginning/Still in musical prison/In jail for the flow/Try telling Bob Dylan or Billy Joel they can't sing what's in their soul" ("Hero"). Is there a gimmick factor to this disc, whose cover displays the rapper's naked back etched with a scabby N, as if from a master's whip, and contains songs titled "Black President" and "Fried Chicken"? Surely, but that doesn't negate the authority of one of the genre's most insightful lyricists to explore all things racial in a year that will be remembered for the rise of presidential candidate Barack Obama and top-selling oral-sex-touting rapper Lil' Wayne.  And there are musically adventurous highlights, such as opening track, "Queens Got the Money," which finds Nas rhyming over simple piano loops. Can only imagine the heat at his Rock The Bells set in Mississauga this Sunday. Top Track: Nas lays bare his intentions on "Ya'll My Niggas" – "If it offends you/It's meant to/It's that simple."

Natalie Cole Says She Has Hepatitis C

Source:  www.thestar.com -
The Associated Press

(July 16, 2008) NEW YORK–Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, her publicist said in a statement Wednesday. Hepatitis C is a liver disease spread through contact with infected blood. The statement said the disease was revealed during a routine examination and was likely caused by her drug use years ago. "I've been so fortunate to have learned so much from my past experiences," said Cole. "I am embraced by the love and support of my family and friends; I am committed to my belief in myself and in my abiding faith to meet this challenge with a heartfelt optimism and determination. This is how I intend to deal with this current challenge in my life." Her physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr. Graham Woolf, said Cole has had a "terrific response to her medication and is now virus negative." "This gives her an increased chance of cure," he said. Woolf said Cole is recovering from side effects of the medicine she's taking, including fatigue, muscle aches and dehydration. Cole, 58, the daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole, has sold millions of records over her long career. She is due to release Still Unforgettable, the follow-up to 1991's Grammy-winning, multi-platinum CD Unforgettable ... With Love, on which she remade some of her father's classics, in September.

::FILM NEWS::

Mehta Back At TIFF With World Premiere

Source:  www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(July 16, 2008) Three years after the thrilling night her stunning masterpiece, Water, opened the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, Deepa Mehta will be back at TIFF with Heaven on Earth.

Like many of Mehta's films, the new movie – which will have its world premiere at the Elgin Theatre on Sept. 6 as part of the Special Presentations program – is about the oppression of women.

Two worlds collide: India, where she was born and grew up, and Canada, where she has spent much of her adult life and career. It all happens in Brampton.

Yesterday, adding a touch of glamour to a media bash that needed some, Mehta revealed, almost as an aside, a future project that could earn her as much international acclaim as Water, nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign-Language Film.

"My next movie is going to be Reading Lolita in Tehran, for Miramax," Mehta remarked almost casually, as if she didn't really expect anyone to recall that Azar Nafisi's breakthrough memoir happens to be one of the hottest, most prestigious literary properties of the past decade.

It was offered to Mehta as a result of Water – which can be mentioned in the same breath as Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali, perhaps the greatest movie ever made in India.

Nafisi – who left Iran in 1997 and moved to the U.S. where she teaches at Johns Hopkins University – will collaborate with Mehta on the screenplay. And Nafisi has already confirmed she will attend the premiere of Heaven On Earth at TIFF.

"We don't know yet who will play Azar in the movie," says Mehta.

Born in Iran but educated abroad, Nafisi quit her teaching job during a period of extreme repression and formed a secret group that met at her home.

Seven of her best students took off their veils and created a special pocket of freedom where they could discuss works banned by the Islamic fundamentalist regime ruling Iran.

These women escaped from the intimidating reality of the world around them. After leaving the country, Nafisi said: "I left Iran, but Iran has not left me."

Mehta had been planning to direct a $60 million U.S. movie called Luna, with Rachel Weisz as the environmental heroine who made her home in a redwood to protest the destruction of trees.

But last year Mehta walked away from the project over creative differences with the producers, who insisted on shooting most of the movie in a studio.

As for Reading Lolita in Tehran, Mehta told me: "What is important for me is that in reality your imagination can save you."

That is also, in a way, the theme of Heaven On Earth, about a young woman from India (played by Bollywood star Preity Zinta) who finds herself frustrated and alienated by a society she doesn't comprehend after arriving in Canada to marry a man she has never met.

I am already looking forward to the world premiere of Reading Lolita in Tehran.

I'm hoping that will take place as the opening TIFF gala at Roy Thomson Hall in September 2009 or 2010.

mknelman@thestar.ca

Canuck Flicks From Horror To Road Trips

Source:  www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard,
Toronto Star

(July 16, 2008) Expect more women behind the camera and more kids in front of it among Canadian movies at the Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 4-13.

Programmers, publicists, filmmakers and media packed the Royal York Imperial Room yesterday to hear the rundown of Canuck films for the fest.

Among the announcements, a Gala presentation for Michael McGowan's epic tale of a cross-country motorcycle trip, One Week, starring Joshua Jackson.

McGowan says his movie, which follows one man from Toronto to Tofino, B.C., "is a love letter to Canada."

Also slated for a Gala is Kari Skogland's Fifty Dead Men Walking, starring Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley, Rose McGowan and Kevin Zegers in the true story of IRA informer Martin McGartland.

Other Canadian movies to unspool during the 10-day fest are Deepa Mehta's Heaven on Earth, Fernando Meirelles' Blindness (which opened Cannes in May), Philippe Falardeau's Ce'st pas moi, je le jure! (It's Not Me, I Swear!) and Bruce McDonald's first horror flick, Pontypool.

"We have the highest percentage of Canadian women directors ever," said Steve Gravestock, associate director of Canadian programming, of the 38 titles screening as part of Short Cuts Canada, adding "the average age of the protagonists . . . is 12."

Among the new works in the Canada First! program is opener Edison and Leo, Canada's first stop-motion animated feature; Cooper's Camera, about a dysfunctional family Christmas in 1985 suburbia; and Control Alt Delete, a quirky rom-com about a computer geek whose obsession with online porn morphs into a relationship with his computer.

"We have one of these every year," deadpanned Gravestock.

The Canadian Open Vault program presents François Girard's 1993 collection, 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould.

"It's my favourite movie, my first real feature and my special little baby," said producer Niv Fichman, who also produced Blindness and TIFF opener Passchendaele, directed by Paul Gross, who also stars.

Fichman says the WWI romantic drama, still in post-production, will be "a great opening night ... every single person in the audience will be crying."

"Canadian cinema is the pillar of our operation," said TIFF director Piers Handling.

He said it was a "time of change and transformation" for the fest as more events move to Yonge-Dundas Square. The AMC Yonge & Dundas 24 will provide almost one-third of TIFF's 34 screens.

More films and the names of stars expected in Toronto to promote their work will be announced throughout the summer.

Tickets are available now. Go to
tiff08.ca or call 416-968-FILM or 1-877-968-FILM.

::TV NEWS::

William Petersen To Quit CSI Next Year

Source:  www.thestar.com - Lynn Elber,
The Associated Press

(July 16, 2008) LOS ANGELES – William Petersen is leaving "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," a move that might have fans of his brainy crimebuster Gil Grissom screaming bloody murder.

Petersen has agreed to return for occasional guest appearances and will remain a "CSI" executive producer.

But executive producers say his run as an original cast member will end this coming season.

The air date for his final episode, the season's 10th, has yet to be determined but producers say it probably will be at the beginning of 2009.

The series debuted in fall 2000.

A number of familiar characters will return in the episodes building up to Grissom's departure, among them his former colleague and flame Sara Sidle, played by Jorja Fox; the Miniature Killer and sexy Lady Heather.

"Who better to turn to when you're a scientist in crisis," Mendelsohn said jokingly of Heather (Melinda Clarke).

The decision to leave was Petersen's, the producers said, declining further comment. A call to Petersen's publicist was not returned Tuesday.

The actor had taken a break during the 2006-07 season to perform in a play, with Liev Schreiber stepping in as a visiting investigator.

The long-running show remains key for CBS: "CSI" finished last season as the network's top-rated series, ranking No. 9 among all shows with an average weekly audience of 17 million. Spinoffs "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: New York" ranked 16th and 28th, respectively.

"CSI" is ready to deal with Petersen's loss, its producers said.

"Shows lucky enough to go this long inevitably have to deal with this kind of change," executive producer Naren Shankar told The Associated Press.

A new male investigator will join "CSI," a role that has yet to be cast.

The producers were mum about specific plot points but said that Grissom will be reappraising his life after years of high-tech forensics investigations with the Las Vegas Police Department and after facing personal turmoil.

"We're talking about a man who has suffered a great deal of loss recently ... A man thinking about the next phase of his life," Shankar said.

It's wrong to characterize it as a mid-life crisis, which summons the image of someone who buys a Porsche as a solution, Shankar and Mendelsohn said; Grissom is confronting far deeper issues.

"It's Grissom in transition and Grissom asking `Who am I?"' Mendelsohn said.

Besides, Shankar said, Petersen wouldn't buy a sports car.

"Billy would only buy a Prius," the producer said.

Shankar and Mendelsohn vowed that cast changes won't change ``CSI."

"What makes shows go off the rails is they forget who they are. We're a crime-mystery-forensics drama" with a focus on exceptional cases, Shankar said.

"Whoever comes in and joins the team after Grissom is going to be a different guy. But the nature of the show and what fans get out of it, that's not going to change," he said.

Petersen, in his role as executive producer, viewed "CSI" as a show about the "quiet heroics" of working people, Shankar said. That will remain true, with no new soap-opera twists or "jumping into bed."

Canadian Flashpoint No. 1 in U.S.; Producer 'Shocked'

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Gayle Macdonald

(July 14, 2008) More than eight million Americans tuned in for the season premiere of the Canadian-made police drama
Flashpoint on CBS Friday night, making it the night's top-rated program in overall U.S. households. This far surpassed the expectations of the network and its Toronto-based producers. "It's just totally crazy. Nobody predicted this," the show's co-producer Bill Mustos said yesterday from the editing suite. "I'm as shocked as everybody else. I'm just numb." The 13-part series about a SWAT-like team of elite cops drew 8.13 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, and also ranked first with adults aged 25 to 54, and adults 18 to 49. The network said Flashpoint - which stars Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars), Hugh Dillon (Durham County) and Amy Jo Johnson (Felicity) - was its best showing in the time slot since May 16 for the season finale of CBS's popular Numb3rs, starring Judd Hirsch. The show, shot in Toronto, is also broadcast on CTV at the same time. Canadian audience data is expected today. Its opening-night performance flies in the face of many U.S. critics who were largely tepid in their reviews of the program, the first Canadian-made drama to be picked up for simulcast in the States since Due South 14 years ago. In recent weeks, many American television writers have brayed that CBS is not really "behind" the drama since it slotted Flashpoint in the summer (when many viewers tune out) and on Friday nights. Yesterday, Mustos said the Nielsen data backs up what CBS has long been telling him: that the show is a perfect summer fill-in for Numb3rs, a strong performer for the network in the past four years. Mustos - whose producing partner is Anne Marie La Traverse - added he hopes Flashpoint's strong first outing means CBS will get even more aggressively behind promoting the one-hour series as the weeks progress. "It's easier for a network to get behind a series in a more substantive way when they see a show with promise.

CTV Scores In Ratings With New Flashpoint Series

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Gayle Macdonald

(July 15, 2008) Toronto — Like its broadcasting partner CBS in the United States, CTV scored a ratings hit with its debut Friday of the Canadian-made cop drama Flashpoint. CTV, which originated the series, drew 1.11 million viewers at 10 p.m., winning the time slot, night and all key demographics. In the U.S., the premiere of the 13-part series, starring Hugh Dillon and Enrico Colantoni, drew 8.13 million viewers, making it the No. 1 watched show of the night. In Canada, the audience grew in its second half-hour to 1.26 million, according to BBM Nielsen Media Research. The show is the first Canadian series since CTV's Due South to air in network prime time in Canada and the U.S.

Brits Flex Comedy Muscle

Source:  www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(July 14, 2008) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—It's the second British Invasion (third, if you count the American Revolution).

HBO reclaimed some of its former glory last week here at the TV critics tour with the help of three of the funniest people on the planet, the biggest comedy stars in England: Ricky Gervais, creator of The Office and Extras, and Matt Lucas and David Walliams, the quirky comic duo known on radio, television and a recent sell-out live stadium tour as "Little Britain."

All three have relocated, at least part-time, to America, with Gervais in the middle of his own sell-out tour, a hilarious first-time stand-up show, the last of which – at Madison Square Garden in New York – will be taped for HBO broadcast later this year.

"I wanted to fight there," grinned Gervais at a press conference, "but I'm not good enough. So I thought I'd do comedy instead. And I just bought an apartment near it, so I can walk."

Given the success of their transported telly, it was inevitable all three would eventually end up here, testing the waters as bigger fish across a very, very big pond.

"America, by its definition in the world, is pretty global anyway," Gervais said. "I mean, you've got all of the entertainment icons. It's a huge part of the world, particularly the English-speaking world."

And the dry British humour seems to travel well. "Obviously, I take out cultural references you wouldn't get.... It's as simple as changing stones for pounds. But there's nothing, I think, an American audience wouldn't like.

"I don't believe I particularly aim for anything. I suppose I pick on the comedy classics: Hitler, famine..."

Like Gervais, the Little Britain boys share a life-long obsession with classic American comedy. And likewise their own, outrageous approach – as will soon be seen on HBO's
Little Britain USA – has been immediately and enthusiastically embraced by a vast new North American audience.

"We have talked a bit about American comedy being cooler and, in Britain, perhaps a bit sadder," said Lucas. "But I think wherever you are in the world, unfunny is unfunny."

"I think," added Walliams, "we maybe make ourselves stupid a little bit more, rather than being cool. But also we're not afraid to dress as women, which is a little bit rarer in American comedy.

"It's fun. It's relaxing. Well, actually, because we do it on TV, we don't really feel the need do it in real life anymore."

Party Time: A bunch of us managed to sneak "off-campus" to catch the last L.A. date of Gervais's live solo show at the lavish Kodak Theatre, current home of the Oscars. Also in the blissed-out, sold-out crowd: Christopher Guest and wife Jamie Lee Curtis, Andy Dick, Anna Paquin (another new HBO star, in Alan Ball's True Blood) and Toronto's own Ryan Gosling.

The customary hotel-based nightlife has been, as I've mentioned before, comparatively pared down – which is just fine by us, since cranking out this much copy leaves little time for late nights or early-morning hangovers.

The first evening event, a live performance by yet another Brit import, singer Natasha Bedingfield, was pretty much lost on the assembled TV hacks – at least until the last song of the set triggered a glimmer of recognition as the ubiquitous licensed theme of Pantene commercials.

My own personal social highlight thus far was the informal private poolside lunch that CTV threw for the Canadian producers of Spectacle, Elvis Costello's new music-minded talk show, co-produced by Sir Elton John.

They're now four episodes into production on the initial 13-episode series, having scored a major "get" with ex-president – and potential vice-presidential spouse – Bill Clinton, who apparently reveals his reasons for giving up a career in music to go into politics.

I'm guessing it was for the chicks.

Is Fringe The Next Lost?

Source:  www.thestar.com - Rob Salem,
Television Columnist

(July 15, 2008) Los Angeles–The first "buzz" show of the Television Critics Association tour has emerged a potential cult phenomenon of Lost proportions, coming as it does from beyond the fringe.

And indeed, it is Fringe – the latest offering from the J.J. Abrams fantasy factory (Alias, Lost, the Star Trek remake) – and it actually emerged weeks ago, when an early version of the pilot was widely leaked on the Internet (skeptics suggest by the producers themselves, which they naturally all vehemently deny).

At the official debut screening here, reaction among critics was somewhat mixed, yet skewed toward positive. But then we are all tired and old and jaded and cranky, and still wary from being burned in the past by other zeitgeist serial dramas like 24, Heroes and Lost.

If you ask me, this thing has break-out hit written all over it.

Take one bad-boy genius (our own Joshua Jackson), his estranged mad-scientist dad and a hot blond FBI agent (Aussie actors John Noble and Anna Torv, respectively) set them on the trail of an unspeakably icky biological terrorist threat ... what's not to love?

Well, one thing: the slickly stylized new Fox drama is now shooting in New York, instead of Toronto, where the pilot episode was filmed (and it is somehow even more thrilling to see a high-speed car chase careen along the Gardiner than it was watching the Incredible Hulk trash Yonge).

The production may have moved stateside, but it took along with it Vancouver expat and former Dawson's Creek heartthrob Jackson.

His casting, says Abrams, "was very last minute. It was like when we found Evangeline Lilly in Canada (for Lost). And Scott Speedman came in from Toronto at the last second for Felicity. Canada's been very good to us."

One Canadian player from the pilot did not survive the show's relocation to New York: a scene-stealing bovine bit-player that was reluctantly sent back to the farm.

"The cow is a regular," Abrams confirms, "but it's a new cow. Turns out we weren't able to transport the (original) cow down from Canada. We had to recast. There was even some discussion of (disguising it with) makeup, so people wouldn't notice that it wasn't the same cow."

MRS. CLEAN: He leads a motley crew of former addicts, imposing sobriety on those unable or unwilling to do so on their own – whacking them over the head and carting them off, if required – at the request of concerned loved ones.

But no one is more concerned than The Cleaner's own family, the wife and two kids left waiting at home for the return of their invariably battered dad.

Benjamin Bratt is The Cleaner, star of A&E's first foray into original scripted series, debuting on the U.S. arts channel tonight at 10.

There is a slight Canadian flavour to the cast, with Gil Bellows (Ally McBeal, and also in this coming season's 24) appearing in the pilot, and, in the second episode, Vanessa Lengies (American Dreams, produced, as is The Cleaner, by ex-actor Jonathan Prince).

And, in every episode, Toronto actor Amy Price-Francis, keeping the home fires burning as The Cleaner's loving, long-suffering wife.

The characters are based on the real-life family of Warren Boyd, still happily intact, having survived more than their share of family dysfunction. "I'm still married," confirmed the real Boyd at last week's series preview. "I have more kids. It's still never easy when you can't be home all the time as a father. It's not easy for her. It's not easy for me. But it's a little more understood these days than it was.

"We still have our tiffs about it, and once in a while a bowl will go flying, but it's not nearly as disconnected as it used to be."

Price-Francis's portrayal is, he says, uncannily accurate, all the more so for having never met her real-life inspiration. "This lady does a fantastic job – especially the part about throwing the bowl."

"I love this job," enthuses Price-Francis. "I love this character. I cannot wait to meet this woman."

Still, she admits that she longs for Toronto. "I live right downtown, right in the heart of stuff, and I miss walking. I miss the culture. I miss the music. I miss the theatre desperately. I miss the people."

Boyd has, over two decades, cleaned up hundreds of addicts, and now has a beefed-up crew of 17 full-time and up to 40 "on-call" staffers to help scare people straight. He remains unapologetic about his no-holds-barred, take-them-all-prisoner approach.

"Asking somebody who is stark raving out of their mind on crack cocaine or some other drug if they're ready ... what they're pretty much ready for is to get some more drugs. Getting past that is where we need to go. We need to get this person in a position where they can actually think straight and answer a question like that with a logical mind instead of a lot of frontal lobe spiking."

DENNIS THE MENACE: Sometimes deadlines will force us to miss a key session. Such was the case for me with Crash, the series version of Canadian Paul Haggis's Oscar-winning feature, co-produced by Don Cheadle, who acted in the original.

This did not particularly concern me at the time, since it's airing on Starz, the American cable net whose original programming is rarely exported to any of our markets north of the border. That is, until I heard after the fact that star Dennis Hopper let slip a major plot point, involving a conversation with his penis.

The character, an out-of-control music producer, is, he says, "as crazy and probably crazier" than any he has previously played, which for Hopper is saying a lot. But he is in no way, Hopper insists, based on Phil Spector, with whom he shared an office for 10 years. "It's a tribute to me," Hopper deadpans. "I based this on my life."

Haggis's Crash Has TV Critics Buzzing

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Andrew Ryan

(July 14, 2008) LOS ANGELES — The human collision of L.A. life is happening all over again.  The creators of the hit movie Crash have shifted the concept to television, with most of the film's intensity seemingly intact. The series will follow a diverse group of Los Angelenos whose paths eventually collide with shattering results. Like the movie, the series is stirring things up, though not for the same reasons.

Spinning off directly from the 2005 Oscar-winner for Best Picture, the series Crash is the buzz show to date on this
TV Critics Tour.

Hailing from the creators, and one star, of the movie, it was the only new fall drama unable to provide a pilot screener - filming began just last month - but the project still had critics talking, if only because of the source.

Crash, the series, is executive-produced by London, Ont., native Paul Haggis and his writing partner Bobby Moresco, who penned the movie and won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for their efforts.

The new series is not a sequel, of course. The show pulls a fresh cast of characters into focus, while retaining the movie's tone. Haggis was unable to attend the TV Tour, but Moresco was there to pledge their involvement.

"We're both treating the TV series as a full-time concern," Moresco said. "Paul loves the show and supports the show. He tried to direct an early episode, but it didn't work out. And if he has a chance to direct, he's going to."

The movie was inspired by a real-life incident in which Haggis was mugged and carjacked outside an L.A. video store. Following several characters of various social tiers and divided racial attitudes over a 36-hour period, the harsh snapshot of urban angst prompted discussions of race and class in America. The TV series is slated to debut mid-October, one month before the U.S. presidential election, which is already revealing social divisions in some quarters.

"Race is always an issue in the U.S., or should be, so the timing for this show feels right," says Don Cheadle, who played a racially conflicted LAPD detective in the movie and is co-executive producer of the TV version. "I never saw the movie as a series necessarily, but there were a lot of hanging chads, so to speak. ...We wanted to see how the energy of those first storylines could further themselves in a series."

Unlike the movie, the TV series will follow the story over 13 one-hour episodes, allowing for a more expanded method of storytelling. The show's dramatic content will naturally come from its melting pot of characters from very different neighbourhoods.

In the brief clips shown to critics, the principal role on the series appears to belong to veteran film star Dennis Hopper, playing a volatile - what else? - record producer named Ben Cendars, who hires the young African-American Anthony (Jocko Sims) as his limo driver and protégé. Any similarity between Hopper's character and any other famous record producer is hardly a surprise.

"Phil Spector and I shared offices for about 10 years," said Hopper when asked about the role. True to form, ten minutes later, Hopper amended his statement and claimed, "This [character] is a tribute to me. I base this on my own life."

In Hopper's very first appearance in the series, he's shown in the back of his limo, holding a prolonged conversation with his penis, which leads to his previous limo driver's departure.

Other characters in the cast include an upscale Brentwood mom, played by Jericho's Clare Carey, whose real-estate swindler husband (D.B. Sweeney) is on the verge of ruin. Also in the mix is a proud Korean-American ambulance worker (Brian Tee) trying to shake his gang past; a hustling Guatemalan immigrant (Luis Chaves); and a lonely patrol cop (Ross McCall) smitten with the sexpot he meets when their cars collide. To a person, they are complex characters.

"Like everyone else, they have normal human anger and unresolved issues. And people are different. Their interaction and how it affects others around them is a theme in the series," Cheadle said.

Currently filming in locations in New Mexico passing for downtown L.A., Crash benefits from the experience of Glen Mazzara as co-executive producer. Mazzara famously runs a tight ship and comes to the project straight from several years as supervising producer on The Shield. He contends Crash, the series, will not become a weekly sermon on race relations.

"We didn't want it to feel sombre or didactic or like medicine," Mazzara said. "The class and race message will be an element from week to week, but the show will stay focused on these people. It's really a story about their lives, just like any good TV show."

TV TIDBITS

Mario Van Peebles Returns To 'Damages'

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(July 14, 2008) *Mario Van Peebles will make a return appearance on the FX series "Damages" for six episodes of its upcoming second season. The actor/filmmaker reprises his role as Agent Harrison in the legal drama that stars Glenn Close as ruthless lawyer, Patty Hewes.  In season one, Hewes attempted to win a class-action lawsuit against the former CEO of a corporation (Ted Danson) on behalf of his former workers, by any means necessary. Van Peebles, meanwhile, stays in the network family as director of FX's new drama series "Sons of Anarchy," which revolves around a notorious outlaw motorcycle club's efforts to protect their town from drug dealers and local corporate developers.

Michael J. Fox set for 'Rescue Me' role

Source: 
www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(July 16, 2008) BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Michael J. Fox will return to series TV this coming season with a four-episode guest role on Rescue Me. On Rescue Me, which stars Denis Leary as troubled firefighter Tommy Gavin, Fox will play a “very funny, very original character,” said John Landgraf, president and general manager of FX Networks. Fox's character, who uses a wheelchair, is the new boyfriend of Tommy's estranged wife Janet (Andrea Roth) and will be introduced in the fifth-season premiere in spring 2009. The episode's air date was not announced. Fox, 47, a friend of Leary's, was “really excited about the part,” Landgraf said. The star of TV's Family Ties and Spin City and the Back to the Future films was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 and revealed his condition publicly in 1998. He quit acting full time in 2000 because of his symptoms from Parkinson's – a chronic, progressive disorder of the central nervous system – that can include muscle rigidity, tremor and slowness of movement. He has acted sporadically in smaller roles, including a several-episode guest appearance in 2006 on ABC's Boston Legal, playing a business tycoon with cancer. For that role and others, Fox generally has sought to control his movements, though his illness was evident. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, founded by the actor, has raised millions of dollars, and Fox has been a vocal supporter of stem cell research. Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive disorder of the central nervous system that leaves patients increasingly unable to control their movements.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Egoyan's Bold Take On Beckett Opens In New York

Source:  www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian,
Theatre Critic

(July 15, 2008) Atom Egoyan isn't waiting for Godot; he's too busy in New York with another Samuel Beckett character named Joe.

The acclaimed Canadian filmmaker is making a journey to his theatrical roots with the revival of his internationally acclaimed production of Eh Joe, which opens at the Lincoln Center Festival in Manhattan tomorrow night.

"This has all been a very emotional journey for me," says Egoyan on the phone during a short break in his hectic schedule, "and I don't know where it will lead next."

Egoyan, who turns 48 Saturday, was invited by the Gate Theatre in Dublin to direct Eh Joe as part of its Beckett Centenary in 2006, largely on the strength of his brilliant 2000 cinematic version of Krapp's Last Tape, starring John Hurt.

Eh Joe proved to be such a giant hit with the public and the critics alike ("a staggering work and the ultimate drama," said the Financial Times) that it was transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre in London for a limited sell-out engagement.

"In many ways," muses Egoyan, "this deceptively simple play is perhaps the scariest thing I've ever done."

Even for a master of minimalism like Beckett, Eh Joe stretched the envelope. Conceived for TV in 1965 and first broadcast the following year, it consists of a constant close-up on a battered old man, Joe, as he listens to the voice of a woman from his past who reminds him of a saga of betrayal and death he was involved in.

"It's a study of both theatrical stillness and cinematic stillness," says Egoyan in awe. "It's like one gigantic reaction shot."

When Egoyan decided to bring it to the stage for the first time, he pulled off a masterful coup. While the real-life Joe (Michael Gambon in the original, Liam Neeson at Lincoln Center) goes through his personal agony in three dimensions on the stage, a camera projects the image of his haunted face onto a scrim, a hundred times larger than life.

And through it all, the voice of the brilliant Penelope Wilton – dry as parchment, yet filled with feeling – reminds Joe of a death he caused when he was young, a death he can never forget.

"Those days with Penelope recording the script were like a dream to me," recalls Egoyan.

"I think it's some of the finest work I've ever done with an actor and my greatest source of pride is that I've restored a brilliant piece of text to the stage."

Egoyan's passion for the theatre and its authors like Beckett may come as a surprise to some who don't know that it's where his creative energies were first focused.

In his early days at Trinity College at the University of Toronto, he wanted to write plays more than anything else and Beckett was his chief influence.

"Working on these two projects has been such a privilege because Beckett's plays were so important to me when I was growing up."

He laughs. "At that point in my life, I don't know if I even understood them, but they touched something deep inside me."

Even when Egoyan began to find film the chosen medium of his expression, he didn't abandon Beckett.

"The very first short film I ever made, back when I was 19," he remembers, "was called Howard in Particular." Egoyan chuckles over the homage to Beckett bordering on the plagiaristic that he indulged in.

"It was a crazy story about a man who worked for a company that manufactured cocktail fruits and they were suddenly laying so many people off that they couldn't give everyone a separate party.

"And so they led this old man who had worked there for years into a room and played him a reel-to-reel recording of a farewell party, complete with tributes."

A pause as the middle-aged Egoyan contemplates his younger creative self.

"I owe so much to Samuel Beckett," he concludes. "It's a debt I can never repay, but it's an honour to get these chances to try and do it."

Giving Voice To Bugger-All

Source:  www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian,
Theatre Critic

(July 14, 2008) It only takes two men to make a village, as long as they're Dylan Thomas and Kenneth Welsh.

The Welsh-born poet and the Alberta-born actor join hands tomorrow night, when
Soulpepper Theatre opens its production of Under Milk Wood, the "play for voices" that brings to life the fictional town of Llareggub. (Spell it backwards and you'll begin to grasp Thomas's sense of humour.)

"I felt like I've known this script forever," laughs Welsh, and he's not far from the truth.

This is his seventh or eighth encounter with the play (he's lost count), first running the lighting board for a University of Alberta production in his first year of college, as an actor at the National Theatre School under the guidance of his mentor, the great Powys Thomas, and as a director of Minneapolis's Guthrie Theater in 1974.

"I love this play," the 66-year-old announces with passion before a recent rehearsal at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

But then, Welsh does most things with passion, long the secret of his greatness as an actor.

Born in Edmonton in 1942, he went from the National Theatre School into seven seasons at Stratford, including a controversial 1969 Hamlet directed by John Hirsch.

"The young people loved it," Welsh recalls, ``because that's who John had directed it for, but the critics hated it." His face wrinkles in distaste. "One of your predecessors, Nathan Cohen, said that I walked like a farmer." A whoop of laughter. "Which I suppose I did."

After Stratford, Welsh went down to the United States, where he continued to dazzle both in classical works (Arturo Ui and Oedipus at the Guthrie) and modern (The Real Thing on Broadway, with Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons, and opposite Kathy Bates in the original production of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.)

Steadily employed on film and television – his most memorable roles include spooky Windom Earle on Twin Peaks, Colin Thatcher in Love and Hate and other historical figures such as Harry Truman and Thomas Edison – he finally headed North again.

"I lived in the States for 14 years, but we all come home in the end," he says, a Welsh lilt giving him the voice of a Dylan Thomas character.

Soulpepper's Artistic Director, Albert Schultz, brought him back onto the Toronto stage for the first time in decades in the triumphant 2007 revival of David French's Leaving Home.

Later that year, he appeared briefly in a one-man version of Under Milk Wood for the Luminato Festival; the response so positive a revised, fully staged production will be presented until Aug. 2.

"I've always had the longing to do a solo reading of it," Welsh admits, "as someone who is discovering this town and all the people in it. Every character appears out of this wild imagination."

Under Milk Wood's director, Ted Dykstra, takes the concept one step further, calling Welsh "a psychic archaeologist who stumbles on this dead town in the darkness."

But Welsh and Dykstra, as you might expect from such a sly pair, have some tricks up their sleeves.

"Since it was written for radio," Welsh begins, "we thought it should be presented as a radio play, in a certain way. Why not have sound effects on stage and let the audience see someone creating all the effects?

"So we have two people off to the side, creating sounds as they're needed, everything from wind and rain to burps and bells."

Welsh looks forward to their companionable presence on stage.

"It can be lonely out there on the stage. ... It's that open space you dread and love at the same time."

The conversation comes back to Dylan Thomas. Welsh talks about the artist almost as if he were a friend, which – after spending nearly 50 years living with this script – he certainly is.

"Why did he drink himself to death? Maybe it's because he wrote most of his great work when he was young and in some sad, secret place, he thought he had already done everything.

"He felt it was time to put the lights out. He had nowhere else to go. He was 39."

What one question would Welsh ask Thomas if they could meet?

"I think I'd ask him why he called the town Bugger-all, when it's really so much more than that.

"And I'd ask him who his favourite character was. I think it's probably the Reverend Eli Jenkins. I know that he's mine."

No surprise, that. For he's the one who gives the play its benediction, a sentiment you can see both Thomas and Welsh agreeing with.

"We are not wholly bad or good,

Who live our lives under Milk Wood."

Under Milk Wood, a Soulpepper Theatre production, runs July 15 through Aug. 2 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St., in the Distillery District. For tickets, go to www.soulpepper.ca or call 416-866-8666.

THEATRE TIDBITS

Assistant Artistic Director Appointed At Stratford

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
J. Kelly Nestruck

(July 15, 2008) Stratford, Ont. — The Stratford Shakespeare Festival seems to be stabilizing after its shake-up this spring, when two of the three artistic directors resigned, leaving Des McAnuff the last man standing. To fill the hole,
Dean Gabourie has been appointed as assistant artistic director to McAnuff. Gabourie is in his fifth season at Stratford. Meanwhile, the 2009 season is shaping up, though the festival is remaining tight-lipped. Brian Bedford looks set to return to Stratford to direct Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest - taking the role of Lady Bracknell for himself. A Midsummer Night's Dream is planned with British director David Grindley at the reins. Other plays rumoured to be on the schedule are West Side Story and Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair.

::OTHER NEWS::

Fresh And Funny Talent On Tap

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Michael Posner

(July 14, 2008) One of the major challenges facing a mature festival like Montreal's Just for Laughs - now in its 26th year - is how to keep it fresh. Although it may be tempting to rely on acts that consistently sell out their venues, it's also something of a gamble. A certain amount of repetition is necessary, so that the event retains its core identity. Too much, and it risks painting the overall festival in the deadly colours of sameness.

Prudently, JFL's organizers are aware of the trap and have worked hard to avoid it, finding new acts and new formats that will keep the box office churning.

Thus, while one might have expected to see the names of popular American comic John Pinette or Ireland's brilliant Tommy Tiernan - both guaranteed to produce sell-outs - on the marquee again this year, neither were on the playbill as the festival's English-language program sprang into action on the weekend.

Instead, programmers have worked hard to tap talent that hasn't been seen before in Montreal, and to add features that will broaden its appeal to audience and industry members alike.

At the top of the expectation heap this week will be Hollywood's hottest comedy property, producer Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad) and his major star, Canadian Seth Rogen.

The duo will be premiering their new film, a stoner comedy called Pineapple Express, as part of JFL's film festival program. And Apatow has assembled a single midnight arrangement of stand-up acts (on July 18), dubbed Apatow for Destruction that includes Rogen, Craig Robinson (The Office) and Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

There's big buzz, too, about Danny Hoch, the American actor, playwright and director whose plays (Pot Melting, Some People and Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop) have won numerous awards including two Obies. His one-man show, Taking Over, is a performance piece which explores the impact of cultural and demographic change in urban neighbourhoods.

A new feature this year is Just Comedy, a conference that explores the state of the comedy industry.

Featured on the agenda are a candid conversation between the father-son directing team of Ivan and Jason Reitman, and a keynote address by Turner Entertainment president Steve Koonin.

Improv and stand-up artist Greg Proops is a bright light on the comedy circuit, but this year he's teamed up with Ryan Stiles (Who's Line Is It Anyway?), who is considered among the finest improv comics currently working.

There are some other bankable funnymen on hand as well, including Canada's Jeremy Hotz and American Tom Papa. The festival has given Papa, who has worked as an opening act for Jerry Seinfeld, his own one-man show, Only Human.

All of that, plus the CBC-televised galas, hosted respectively this year by the enduring legend Joan Rivers, Kathy Griffin (My Life on the D-List), Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson, Jeremy Piven (Ari Gold on HBO's Entourage) and Jimmy Fallon, who next year takes over Conan O'Brian's late-night talk-show slot.

Among these, only Fallon is making the 500-kilometre trip this month to the festival's latest spinoff, the Toronto edition of Just for Laughs. He'll host the final gala at Massey Hall on July 26, preceded by Jason Alexander (July 25) and Canada's Martin Short (July 24).

But the Toronto festival also showcases several other major funny people, including ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, former Seinfeld regular Larry Miller, and the very dry stylings of Wendy Liebman.

Just for Laughs continues in Montreal, at various venues, to next Sunday; the Toronto edition runs July 24-26 (hahaha.com).

::SPORTS NEWS::

Morneau Wins But Hamilton Steals Show

Source:  www.thestar.com - Richard Griffin,
Baseball Columnist

(July 15, 2008) NEW YORK–Earlier in the day, Josh Hamilton quoted fictional ballplayer Roy Hobbs from his favourite baseball movie, The Natural. Last night, as the eighth and final contestant in the workout day's annual home run derby, the Rangers outfielder slammed 28 homers at baseball's most revered shrine, Yankee Stadium, and a real-life legend was born.

But Hamilton did not win.
Canadian Justin Morneau from New Westminster, B.C. emerged from the remaining seven contestants with 17 homers in the first two rounds compared to Hamilton's 32. The final, starting from scratch again, was somewhat anti-climactic with Morneau winning 5-3 against an exhausted Hamilton. It was the first derby win by a Canadian in the 24-year history of the all-star event.

"I was lucky we got a reset after the first two rounds," a humble Morneau said. "He did a great job. I'm just lucky to be here."

The story was Hamilton, attending his first all-star game in just his second season after a return from addiction to drug and alcohol. In the first round his 28 homers set a derby record, breaking the '05 mark of Bobby Abreu (24). By the end of his record-setting round, with at least four travelling more than 500 feet, the usually hostile Yankee Stadium crowd was chanting his name and standing for every swing.

Hamilton had been the clear players' choice to win entering last night's event, not only for his inspiring personal comeback but also for his tremendous raw power. Even Yankee captain Derek Jeter, following Reggie Jackson's first pitch, gave Hamilton and the sold-out crowd of 53,716 his endorsement.

"He's an inspiration for a lot of people," Morneau said. "A lot of people have been through hard times. There's not many people in the big leagues that are as talented as he is. It's an amazing story. He battles every day. He's got more power than anybody in this game. When Texas came to Minnesota this year we had guys stay down on the bench to watch him hit."

As if the physical tools of this generation's natural weren't enough to make him the favourite, Hamilton claimed to have dreamed about being in the derby at Yankee Stadium years ago while still suspended and battling his addictions, long before he knew he would play again. It was to be a platform for spreading his message of salvation.

"Before I got reinstated when I was sick, I had that dream," Hamilton said. "I was in Yankee Stadium. I didn't see myself hitting. I don't know if I won. I just saw the microphone stuck in my face after I'd just finished hitting and getting to share what God had done in my life. The platforms are great and I love talking about it or else I wouldn't be here. If you put God first in your life you can accomplish anything."

When that real-life derby moment arrived, when a microphone was stuck in his face, Hamilton was emotional.

His three-year-old dream had come true.

He mentioned God's help as he said he would and summarized his reaction to the support of the Yankee Stadium crowd. "I got chills."

The quote Hamilton used from Hobbs in The Natural was: "God, I love baseball." In return, baseball now surely loves Hamilton.

A Time For A Celebration At Yankee Stadium

Source:  www.thestar.com - Richard Griffin,
Toronto Star

(July 16, 2008) NEW YORK—They emerged from Monument Park in the deepest part of left field, spreading slowly across the landscape like players stepping out of the cornfield for one final ballgame in Field of Dreams. . .only this was Yankee Stadium, this was the All-Star Game. Baseball's current all-stars could not help but be impressed with the scene.

"The one guy that I read a lot about was Whitey Ford," the Jays' Roy Halladay said. "Just to be able to see him was cool for me, but those are the guys you read about, you hear about growing up, not guys you stand on the same field with."

And that was the point of the exercise. Before the starting line-ups were introduced to the sell-out crowd of 55,632, baseball's 49 invited Hall-of-Famers proudly took their familiar positions at the House That Ruth Built. This night was about them, their history, their memories and their traditions. The 79th All-Star Game was somehow incidental.

But in the end, of course, the result was important because the winning league still earned home field advantage at the World Series and the NL hadn't won since 1996.

The game started slowly, building to a crescendo with both teams threatening to win but forever falling back. The National League had its chances, never trailing until finally losing 4-3 in 15 innings. The winning run scored on a one-out sacrifice fly by Michael Young. It tied the longest All-Star Game in history. The '67 game at Anaheim also went 15 innings. The game set a record for combined strikeouts and stolen bases. The NL drought continues at 12 straight All-Star Games without a win.

It looked desperate for the AL in the eighth inning, as a manufactured run off of Red Sox' closer Jonathan Papelbon gave the Astros the lead with six outs to go. Astros' shortstop Miguel Tejada looped a single to right field, stole second and went to third on an error by catcher Dioner Navarro. Adrian Gonzalez cashed him with a sacrifice fly.

Yankee Stadium fans had booed Papelbon lustily when he entered to pitch the eighth, proving that in the Bronx, blood is thicker than home-field advantage. They chanted "Oh-vurr-rated" even with the go-ahead run perched on third with one out, perhaps hoping for an appearance by their own revered closer, Mariano Rivera.

The fans finally got their wish an inning later. With one out in the ninth and the go-ahead run on first, Rivera trotted in from the pen. Red Sox manager Terry Francona had given him the entire Yankee Stadium stage to be appreciated. The crowd exploded when they saw him trotting in. Even the man he replaced, Francisco Rodriguez applauded as he left the field. Then Rivera, with the crowd chanting his name, struck out Ryan Ludwick and Navarro threw out Cristian Guzman for the double play.

Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday had opened the scoring with a solo homer off Ervin Santana in the fifth inning. Astros' first baseman Lance Berkman extended the lead to 2-0 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, but Red Sox' outfielder J.D. Drew tied it for the AL with a line drive two-run blast off Johnny Cueto in the seventh. He was the 15th player to homer in his first All-Star Game at-bat.

For his part, the Jays' Halladay allowed a hit in the fourth, but saw Albert Pujols erased at second on a brilliant throw by M's right fielder Ichiro Suzuki.

"Really for me, it's not who I face, but the guys behind you making plays," Halladay said admiringly. "You have Ichiro in right, A-Rod and Jeter making throws to first. It's fun playing with the guys you have behind me."

Years from now, when Yankee Stadium no longer exists, that inning in its final All-Star Game will be one of Halladay's fond memories. It's priceless.

This entire night was about the history and the legends. It was about owner George Steinbrenner, in failing health, but emerging on a golf cart to a standing ovation to help with the ceremonial first pitch. He has somehow become a sympathetic hero, a throwback to simpler days when the Yankees were in constant turmoil -- but winning.

"But like everything in life, I am a pragmatist," commissioner Bud Selig said "I give the Yankees a great deal of credit for building (the new stadium) right next to here. It's going to look even more like the place that I saw in 1949."

Even the ghosts must have been pleased with the style and class with which they were remembered.

SPORTS TIDBITS

Davidson Expected Back As Coach

Source:  www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

(July 14, 2008) CALGARY – Melody Davidson is expected to be named head coach of the Canadian women's hockey team for the next two years heading into the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Hockey Canada has scheduled a news conference Wednesday in Vancouver to announce the coaches of the women's and sledge hockey teams for 2008-09 and 2009-10. Davidson, from Oyen, Alta., coached the Canadian women to gold medals at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, and the 2007 world championship in Winnipeg. She stepped out of that role, but remained with the program as general manager of the team last winter. Peter Smith of Montreal coached Canada to a silver medal at the world championship in Harbin, China, in April. The Canadian women will play in the Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., in November and the 2009 world championship in Finland next April. The players will centralize in Calgary and try out for the Olympic team during the 2009-10 season. Sarah Howald was named head coach of the national women's under-22 team for the 2008-09 season on Monday. Pierre Alain and Jim Fetter were named assistant coaches.

Should Paul Tracy Hang 'Em Up?

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Norris Mcdonald , Motorsport Writer

(July 14, 2008) There are reports that Paul Tracy will be in a car for the Indy race in Edmonton in two weeks, which some people will consider good news but I don't. If he was going to drive for Penske or Ganassi or Andretti-Green, I'd say okay – maybe. But Tracy is an aging gladiator (he's 39) who'll likely be in an uncompetitive car (a third Dallara-Honda owned by Tony George and run by Derrick Walker) and I just don't see an up side here. Several years ago, I asked Tracy if he was making plans for the day when he wouldn't be able to drive any more. No, he said, because the way he saw it, when his open-wheel career ended he'd be able to drive in NASCAR (and he rattled off the names of a half-dozen older guys who were active at the time) and then, after that, he'd be able to continue driving sports cars, "like Ron Fellows." Well, his open-wheel career appears stalled, at the very least, and I don't see a line-up at the Tracy door to entice him into either NASCAR or sports cars – other than maybe for the occasional one-off. So, how about this for a suggestion? Do what Tony Stewart did in NASCAR in recent days and become the part-owner of a team.  Tracy should buy a half-interest in an IRL team and learn the business like Jimmy Vasser is doing with Kevin Kalkhoven. That way, he should still be able todrive for a while, his name could (emphasis on could) help attract sponsorship, and he'd be preparing himself for the inevitable day (as Roger Penske did, as Chip Ganassi did, as Michael Andretti did) when he just won't be able to continue in the cockpit. His name is synonymous with Indy car racing. Not with NASCAR and not with sports cars. Paul Tracy and Indy cars are in league with each other and that's where he should be planning to hang his hat forever and ever.

Tiger Woods To Become First Billionaire Athlete

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(July 11, 2008) *Tiger Woods is on the verge of breaking another record, this time with his bank account.  The golf icon is on track to become the first athlete to reach one billion dollars in career earnings - and according to Forbes Magazine, he may do it as soon as 2010.  "It will be an unprecedented occurrence," the magazine said. "There are plenty of billionaires who have excelled at sports like Switzerland's richest man and champion sailor Ernesto Bertarelli. But there are no billionaires who accumulated their fortune by playing sports." The magazine said in its Wednesday edition that while tycoons like Bill Gates accumulated his wealth by holding a stake in a company with soaring profits, Woods is unique because his massive fortune was earned through paychecks. Tiger banked $115 million last year alone.  After winning the U.S. Open in June, Tiger announced that he's taking the rest of the year off to heal from several surgeries on his knee.

::FITNESS::

The Busy Person's Exercise Plan

By Stefano Michael, eDiets Contributor


A busy lifestyle can make finding the time to exercise a nightmare. Most adults who work out also have a little thing called a job, which can add up to big-time exhaustion.

This puts time on short supply, and unfortunately one of the first things to bite the dust is your fitness program.

What time of day do you exercise?

We surveyed 500 fitness buffs and this is what we discovered: About 28 percent of you exercise any time you can -- a dead heat with those who prefer an evening workout. Morning received more than 200 votes out of 500 exercisers polled (44 percent). The least favourite time to train the body was during the afternoon hours (at only 10 percent).

Your Body's Natural Rhythm
Throughout the day, there is also a natural ebb and flow of energy that we all experience. We adapt to our daily schedules of sleep, work and rest, becoming stronger during periods of the day when our bodies instinctively anticipate greater amounts of work (based on previous behaviour).

In other words, if you work out every day at 6 p.m., your body will get the most from a workout that takes place at 6 p.m. Because you've grown accustomed to exercise in the evening, you won't be as energetic and strong during a workout that takes place in the early morning hours. For you, a morning workout will not be quite as effective. Fortunately, any differences will be minor, and a workout that takes place during the evening hours is still far better than no workout at all.

Practicality Rules
So should you rearrange your life around exercise just to ensure an evening workout, or a workout that happens at the same time every day? Researchers are apt to answer with a very adamant, "No!" Ultimately, finding enough time (and energy) to exercise -- no matter what the time of day -- is what's important.

PAGEBREAK Ideally, it's best to stick to your scheduled program. Here are five ways to help you get around a hectic day.

1. Shrink to Fit: Cut workouts in half and squeeze in a 15- or 20-minute session instead of your normal workout. These "short, but sweet" workouts can produce dramatic results.

2. Start Your Day Early: Set the alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier and work out before your day starts. Eventually, your body will adjust to the earlier wake up call.

3. Split Lunch: Split your lunch hour in two and devote half an hour to exercise before you eat. This will also curb your appetite and make it easier to cut lunchtime calories.

4. Rock-A-Bye, Baby: When the little one goes down for a nap, squeeze in 10 or 15 minutes. Whether you're a work-at-home mom or dad, take every opportunity you get to squeeze in some exercise. Repeat throughout the day to add up to 20 or 30 minutes.

5. Double Up: Create combination workouts you can perform three or four times weekly. For example, combine 10 minutes of strength with 20 minutes of cardio training for three or four 30-minute weekly workouts.

Don't allow strict rules on what time of day is best for exercise to dictate your workout schedule. You may wind up exercising less. Be flexible in your scheduling, and do what you can when you can to get the most from any exercise program!

::MOTIVATION::

Motivational Note

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Mark Victor Hansen

"Big goals get big results. No goals get no results or somebody else's results."