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June 12, 2008

Happy Father's Day (June 15th) to all those fathers or those that have influenced our lives from the male perspective.  We celebrate your special influence in our lives! 

Lots of great Canadian news below mixed with lots of global entertainment news! 

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



Grammy Nominee Chante Moore Returns With Her First New Solo CD In Eight Years

Source:  Universal Music Canada

(April 23, 2008) New York, NY - Following two successful albums with her husband, Kenny Lattimore, Grammy nominee
Chante Moore returns with her long awaited first solo CD in nearly a decade, Love The Woman, due June 17th on Peak Records.
Known for numerous hits over the past fifteen years including "Love's Taken Over," "It's Alright," and her top five smash "Chante's Got A Man," Chante Moore is in vintage form on her sultry first single, the passionate ballad "Ain't Supposed To Be. With her angelic vocals, once again she delivers her distinctive soulful style that has made her one of the most admired and respected female artists over the past two decades.
Love The Woman, which she executive produced, reunites Chante Moore with her longtime musical mentor, revered producer George Duke (credits include Anita Baker, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Take 6) who helped launch her career in the early 1990's. This time they collaborated on one of her most personal recordings ever, Minnie Ripperton's "Give Me The Time," the song that was played when she walked down the aisle during her wedding six years ago.
Her highly anticipated new album also includes production by Grammy award winner
Raphael Saadiq (Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, The Isley Brothers, and D'Angelo) and Warryn Campbell (Jamie Foxx, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, and Mario).
After earning praise in the gospel world for her 2006 duet CD Covered/Uncovered with her husband, Chante Moore demonstrates her breathtaking skills as a jazz vocalist on two standards on Love The Woman: Nancy Wilson's classic "Guess Who I Saw Today," and one of Aretha Franklin's early recordings, "Start of Something Big."
Chante Moore has also proven herself as a talented actress on stage in "Things That Lovers Do" co-starring her husband, and last year she toured in "By Any Means Necessary" with Tisha Campbell-Martin and Dave Hollister. She also enjoys serving as a role model, mentoring young girls at her church, and is currently writing a self-help book for women.
Chante Moore is especially gratified to resume her solo career and satisfy her fan's desire for the classy R&B stylings. As one of today's few consistent hitmakers, she's combined her ability to entertain with her mission to inspire and uplift her loyal following. "That's really made the difference for me, the people who have made it through because they heard some music I did. They've said, 'You got me through college.' 'You got me through a breakup.' It's about taking the experiences that I've had and helping somebody else. I think to be valuable in the world you've gotta open up and be able to share who you are."
So now for the first time in eight years, Chante Moore is sharing her unique talents as a solo star with Love The Woman, and her fans will fall in love with her all over again.


YWCA Honours Deepa Mehta

Rafael Brusilow/for Metro News

(June 10, 2008) Canadian filmmakers Deepa Mehta, left, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy at the
YWCA 2008 Women of Distinction Awards.

Courage, dedication and the drive to make the lives of women around the world better — all are qualities possessed and demonstrated by filmmaker Deepa Mehta and seven other Canadian Women of Distinction.

The world-renowned filmmaker, famous for her soul-wrenching films documenting oppression of women and political turmoil in her native land of India, was the recipient of the recent President’s Award at the 28th annual YWCA Women of Distinction Awards in Toronto.

Draped in an elegant, traditional gown that billowed playfully in the artificial breeze of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Mehta called the award “a great honour” and praised the city that has become her adopted home for the past 30 years.

“I’ve spent half my life in Toronto — I feel that it is my city,” Mehta said.

Sitting on the floor outside a convention hall, Mehta said what drives her is to help women understand they don’t have to be powerless in their own lives.

“What’s important for me is for women to realize they have a voice — for all women to realize they have validity,” Mehta said.

The YWCA is Canada’s oldest women’s organization, providing services and programs to improve the status of women in Canada. Sheela Basrur, the resourceful head of Toronto’s Medical Office for Health who recently passed away, was a 2004 Woman of Distinction Award recipient.

Also honoured at the ceremony were seven other outstanding Canadian women, including journalist and documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who received the Communications Award for her courage in bringing to light social oppression around the world. She cited Mehta as an influence on her own work.

“Deepa Mehta is someone I look up to. She’s paved the way for filmmakers of my generation to break boundaries, to speak to things and bring out work that poses big questions that other people would like to see forgotten,” Obaid-Chinoy said.

Amanda Dale, a director at the YWCA, called all eight award recipients tireless pillars of the community.

“It’s an award that recognizes the accomplishments of women who are outstanding in their field and who, more importantly, make a great difference in the lives of women and girls everywhere. These women have all achieved a sense of community and a sense of belonging that inspire other women,” Dale said.

Other honourees included 24-year-old Ayan Hersi for her work in conducting research and spreading awareness about AIDS in Africa and Fran Odette for championing the rights of deaf women and women with disabilities.

Obaid-Chinoy says the award strengthens her resolve to continue working to uncover the truth of human circumstances.

“The truth is important because we really need to stop believing that the outside world doesn’t matter. What happens in one part of the world will affect other parts,” Obaid-Chinoy said.

Follows Gets Two Dora Nods

Source: www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

(June 05, 2008) Theatre, stage, film and television veteran Megan Follows has been nominated twice this year for a Dora Mavor Moore Award, Canada's version of the Tonys for live theatrical productions in Toronto.

Follows, best known to TV viewers for her long-running role in Anne of Green Gables, is nominated for outstanding performance by a woman in a play for her roles in Top Girls, and Three Sisters. The Dora nominations were announced Thursday.

Soulpepper Theatre Company's Top Girls also tied with The Canadian Stage Company's Fire for the most nominations in the general theatre division with seven each.

In all, 219 productions in all categories – 47 of them new plays or musicals in the general and independent theatre production divisions – were eligible for awards this year.

Opera Atelier's Idomeneo led the opera division with four nominations, plus two more in the general theatre division for a total of six.

DanceWorks dominated the dance division with nine nominations.

The Dora Awards will be given out June 30 in Toronto at the Winter Garden Theatre.

Complete list of nominees for the 2008 Dora Mavor Moore Awards

Outstanding new play:
Judith Thompson, “The Palace of the End”
The Ensemble, “Tazed and Confused”
Hannah Moscovitch, “Essay”
Hannah Moscovitch, “East of Berlin”
Brendan Gall, “Alias Godot”

Outstanding new musical:
Lizt Alfonso and Kelly Robinson, “VIDA!”
Juliet Palmer & Anna Chatterton, “Stitch”
Chris Earle, “Peter Pan - The Family Musical”
Guy Mignault , “Et si on chantait”
Devised by Jim LeFrancois and David Oiye, “Arthouse Cabaret”

Outstanding production of a play
“Top Girls,” Soulpepper Theatre Company
“The December Man, “ The Canadian Stage Company in co-production with The Citadel Theatre
“Rose,” Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company
“Le Misanthrope,” Le Theatre francais de Toronto
“Intimate Apparel,” Obsidian Theatre Company

Outstanding production of a musical
“Little Shop of Horrors,” The Canadian Stage Company
“Fire,” The Canadian Stage Company in co-production with The Citadel Theatre
“Dirty Dancing The Classic Story On Stage,” David Mirvish and Jacobsen Entertainment, Lionsgate and Magic Hour Productions
“Arthouse Cabaret,” Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
“A Man of No Importance,” Acting Up Stage Theatre Company

Outstanding direction of a play
Alisa Palmer, “Top Girls”
Micheline Chevrier, “The December Man”
Diana Leblanc, “Rose”
Jean-Stephane Roy, “Le Misanthrope”
Philip Akin, “Intimate Apparel”

Outstanding direction of a musical
Kelly Robinson and Lizt Alfonso, “VIDA!”
Ted Dykstra, “Little Shop of Horrors”
James MacDonald, “Fire”
Jim LeFrancois and David Oiye, “Arthouse Cabaret”
Lezlie Wade, “A Man of No Importance”

Outstanding performance by a male in a principal role — play
Joseph Ziegler, “The Time of Your Life”
Julian Richings, “The Palace of the End”
Brent Carver, “The Elephant Man”
John Jarvis, “The Drawer Boy”
Brian Dooley, “The December Man”

Outstanding performance by a female in a principal role — play
Kelly Fox, “Top Girls”
Megan Follows, “Top Girls”
Megan Follows, “Three Sisters”
Arsinee Khanjian, “The Palace of the End”
Nicola Lipman, “The December Man”
Lally Cadeau, “Rose”

Outstanding performance by a male in a principal role — musical
Ross Petty, “Peter Pan - The Family Musical”
Ted Dykstra, “Fire”
Rick Roberts, “Fire”
Keith Cole, “Arthouse Cabaret”
Douglas E. Hughes, “A Man of No Importance”

Outstanding performance by a female in a principal role — Musical
Sharron Matthews, “The Wizard of OZ”
Patricia Zentilli, “Little Shop of Horrors”
Nicole Underhay, “Fire”
Amelie Lefebvre, “Et si on chantait”
Britta Lazenga, “Dirty Dancing The Classic Story On Stage”
Patty Jamieson, “A Man of No Importance”

Outstanding performance in a featured role in a play or musical
Robyn Stevan, “Top Girls”
Stuart Hughes, “The Time of Your Life”
Caroline Gillis, “How It Works”
Diego Matamoros, “As You Like It”
Ellen Ray Hennessy, “Age of Arousal”

Outstanding set design
Judith Bowden, “Top Girls”
John Ferguson, “The December Man”
Dany Lyne, “Pelleas et Melisande”
Astrid Janson, “From the House of the Dead”
Camellia Koo, “East of Berlin”

Outstanding costume design
Judith Bowden, “Top Girls”
Nina Okens, “Le Misanthrope”
Tamara Marie Kucheran, “Intimate Apparel”
Margaret Lamb, “Idomeneo”
Julia Tribe, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Outstanding lighting design
Kimberly Purtell, “The Russian Play”
Andrea Lundy, “The Eco Show”
Phillip Silver, “Rose”
Thomas C. Hase, “Pelleas et Melisande”
Kevin Lamotte, “Democracy”

Outstanding sound design/composition
Mike Ross, “Under Milk Wood”
Richard Feren, “The Eco Show”
Creighton and Melanie Doane, “Salt Water Moon”
Keith Thomas, “Rose”
Peter McBoyle, “Fire”

Outstanding musical direction
Mike Ross, “The Time of Your Life”
Andrew Parrott, “Idomeneo”
Ted Dykstra, “Fire”
Sir Richard Armstrong, “Eugene Onegin”
Paolo Olmi, “Don Carlos”

Outstanding choreography in a play or musical
Lizt Alfonso, “VIDA!”
Monica Dottor, “The Russian Play”
Tracey Flye, “Peter Pan - The Family Musical”
Jody Ripplinger, “Little Shop of Horrors”
Kate Champion, “Dirty Dancing The Classic Story on Stage”

Outstanding touring production
“The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby,” David Mirvish presents
“The Drowsy Chaperone,” Dancap Productions Inc.
“Sexual Practices of the Japanese,” Produced by Theatre Replacement and presented by Factory Theatre
“Risk Everything,” Harbourfront Centre and Luminato
“Famous Puppet Death Scenes,” Young Centre for the Performing Arts presents The Old Trout Puppet Workshop

Opera Division
Outstanding production
“Stitch,” A Theatre Centre and Urbanvessel co-production
“Pelleas et Melisande,” Canadian Opera Company
“Idomeneo,” Opera Atelier
“From the House of the Dead,” Canadian Opera Company
“Don Carlos,” Canadian Opera Company / Welsh National Opera

Outstanding performance
Robert Gleadow, “The Marriage of Figaro”
Isabel Bayrakdarian, “Pelleas et Melisande”
Russell Braun, “Pelleas et Melisande”
Measha Breuggergosman, “Idomeneo”
Peggy Kriha Dye, “Idomeneo”
Kresimir Spicer, “Idomeneo”

Dance Division
Outstanding production
“Rite of Spring and Re -,” Harbourfront Centre and Luminato presents Shen Wei Dance Arts
“Portal,” Peggy Baker Dance Projects
“Chapel/Chapter,” Harbourfront Centre
“Bas-Reliefs,” DanceWorks
“adelheid solos,” DanceWorks
“A Story Before Time,” DanceWorks / Kaha:wi Dance Theatre
“24 Preludes by Chopin,” The National Ballet of Canada

Outstanding new choreography
Valerie Calam, “PARLIAMENT”
Peggy Baker, “Portal”
Melanie Demers, “Les angles morts”
Ginette Laurin & Guillaume Bernardi, “Bas-Reliefs”
Heidi Strauss, “adelheid solos”

Outstanding performance
Peggy Baker, “Portal”
Jacques Poulin-Denis, “Les angles morts”
Sashar Zarif, “Life is the Feeling of a Migrating Bird”
The Ensemble, “A Story Before Time”
The Ensemble, “24 Preludes by Chopin”

Outstanding sound design/composition
Peter Chin & Garnet Willis, “Transmission of the Invisible”
Philip Strong, “Inverse”
Eric Chenaux, “Double Bill x 1”
Charles Hong, Joo Hyung Kim and Sosun Suh, “Choonengmu”
Alexander MacSween & Gaetan Leboeuf, “ Bas-Reliefs”

Independent Theatre Division
Outstanding new play
Anusree Roy, “Pyaasa
Michael Rubenfeld, “My Fellow Creatures”
Beatriz Pizano, “Madre”
Michael Hollingsworth, “Laurier”
Brendan Gall, “A Quiet Place”

Outstanding production
“Waiting for Godot,” Modern Times Stage Company
“Lullaby,” Dark Horse Theatre
“Laurier,” VideoCabaret
“April 14, 1912,” Theatre Rusticle
“A Quiet Place,” single threat

Outstanding direction
Soheil Parsa, “Waiting for Godot”
Nina Lee Aquino, “People Power”
Michael Hollingsworth, “Laurier”
Allyson McMackon, “April 14, 1912”
Geoffrey Pounsett, “A Quiet Place”

Outstanding performance by a male
Nicco Lorenzo Garcia, “People Power”
Benjamin Clost, ”My Fellow Creatures”
David Ferry, “Lullaby”
Ryan Hollyman, “Lawrence and Holloman”
Christopher Stanton, “A Quiet Place”

Outstanding performance by a female
Erin Shields, “The Unfortunate Misadventures of Masha Galinski”
Anusree Roy, “Pyaasa”
Marcia Bennett, “Madre”
Maev Beaty, “Dance of the Red Skirts”
Pragna Desai, “Canada Steel”
Karin Randoja, “Breakfast”

Outstanding set design
Trevor Schwellnus, “Waiting for Godot”
Camellia Koo, “People Power”
Trevor Schwellnus, “Madre”
Lindsay Anne Black, “April 14, 1912”
Jackie Chau, “Antigone: Insurgency (Sophocles Revisited)”

Outstanding costume design
Angela Thomas, “Waiting for Godot”
Jenna McCutchin, “The Fort at York”
Astrid Janson and Sarah Armstrong, “Laurier”
Nina Okens, “Bella Donna”
Lindsay Anne Black , “April 14, 1912”

Outstanding lighting design
Andrea Lundy, “Waiting for Godot”
Michael Spence, “Raging Dreams - into the visceral”
Trevor Schwellnus, “Madre”
Andy Moro, “Laurier”
Laird Macdonald, “Breakfast”
Michelle Ramsay, “April 14, 1912”

Outstanding sound design/composition
Romeo Candido, “People Power”
Thomas Ryder, “Payne Madre”
Brent Snyder, “Laurier”
Richard Windeyer, “Breakfast”
Christopher Stanton, “A Quiet Place”

Theatre for Young Audiences Division
Outstanding performance
Ensemble, “TOUGH!”
Ensemble, “Offensive Fouls”
Ensemble, “Love You Forever and More Munsch”
Kyle Cameron, “Cranked”
Ensemble, “Binti’s Journey”

Outstanding production
“TOUGH!,” The Factory Theatre in association with Luminato
“Offensive Fouls,” Theatre Direct Canada
“Love You Forever and More Munsch,” Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People
“Cranked,” Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People presents Green Thumb Theatre
“Binti’s Journey,” Theatre Direct Canada

Source: The Canadian Press

Regent Park One Of Three Streetscapes Made Over For Luminato

Source: www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara,
Entertainment Reporter

June 11, 2008) Regent Park is getting an artistic makeover as part of Luminato's Streetscape program and one unlikely young artist who grew up there could hardly be prouder.

"We're trying to bring positive reinforcement ... into this neighbourhood because it has such a bad reputation," said Adrita Sarwar, one of 17 teenagers who undertook an eight-week mentoring program with both local and international artists and photographers before giving the often-maligned low-income community an aesthetic makeover.

The program "gave me a confidence boost. I feel prouder to say that I'm from Regent Park. We want to tell people that students from here, we do have talent and we're not just wasted children," added Sarwar, who will go into the University of Toronto's life sciences program in September.

Sarwar said she particularly enjoyed repainting aging park benches in bright colours, and employing graffiti with positive images and inspirational messages.

The local residents get an advance peak tonight before the students take visitors on guided tours through the community from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the last three days of the festival.

Curator Devon Ostrom said visitors will see large still-life photos of Regent Park residents shot by local photographer/poster artist Dan Bergeron, with the assistance of two protegés; mural art; graffiti and video projections of community members on the move.

"Quite a few of the youth are using the work in their portfolios. Some of them have gotten job offers," Ostrom said.

Jessica Vargo-Caplan, co-ordinator for educational outreach for the festival, said the teenagers were "incredibly passionate about the program," which began in April.

"It's been a big time commitment on their part especially at a busy time of year, at the end of the school year with exams. They've really impressed all of us who've been involved with the program. The insight that they've actually provided to the project has been fantastic," Vargo-Caplan said.

The Regent Park component – done in partnership with three local agencies – is just one part of the Streetscapes program, which will see top street artists from across North America showing their stuff at three other sites in the city as part of Luminato.

Other sites include:

Two waterfront installations at the Parliament St. slip and the Jarvis St. slip on Queens Quay E.

A work by New York-based artist Jesse Bransford at Brookfield Place, 181 Bay St.

Film, TV Industries Critical To Economy: Mayors

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Gloria Galloway

(June 05, 2008) OTTAWA — The mayors of Canada's largest cities told a Senate committee on Thursday that the film and television industries are critical to their economies and proposed tax credit changes affecting their work would have a devastating effect.

“Our concern is about our economy,” Toronto Mayor David Miller told the Senate banking committee.

“But it is also about Canadians' continued ability to tell our own stories to each other without fear of artistic and financial humiliation.”

The federal Conservative government is proposing to refuse tax credits to film and television productions that are “contrary to public policy.” The aim is to prevent public funding from flowing to productions that are pornographic or contain extreme violence.

But the industry argues that the tax credits, buried in an omnibus income-tax bill known as C-10, provide essential leverage for financing and it would be difficult, of not impossible, to convince banks to fund their productions if the credits could be withheld.

“This industry is of incredible importance,” said Mr. Miller after telling the senators that it employs 35,000 people in his city — more than the manufacturing sector. Its artistic and financial success depends on its “continued ability to work in a field where the boundaries are well defined and political interference or censorship will not be tolerated.”

The mayor, at least in part in jest, suggested that the bill should have been named C-1984 rather than C-10, a reference to the George Orwell book in which the state exercises extreme control over its people.

Mayor Gerald Tremblay of Montreal told the committee that the film industry has been active in his city for 60 years and that the industry is worth $1.3-billion to his province.

“Having read the bill, we feel obliged to state that the measures relating to tax incentives introduce an element of uncertainty which would have a negative financial impact on the production of Canadian and Quebec film because the minister might be able to call for the repaying of tax credits after the film has been completed,” said Mayor Tremblay.

The big city mayors' caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has passed a resolution asking the federal government to eliminate the provision from the tax bill.

Mayor Sam Sullivan of Vancouver, whose city ranks third behind Los Angeles and New York as North America's busiest filming centre, said in a letter to the committee that he supports the resolution and asked the government to consult with the industry.

And in a statement that was read by Mr. Miller, Mayor Peter Kelly of Halifax added his voice to the opposition.

“Had these proposed changes existed in the past, much of the uniquely Canadian art of which we are so proud, simply would not have made it to our screens,” wrote Mr. Kelly. He cited television shows like Trailer Park Boys and This Hour 22 Minutes as examples of productions a government might deem contrary to public policy.

“My main concerns are that these changes will cause enough uncertainty to negatively affect financing for film productions and that they could lead to an era of censorship that would devastate the industry and the creativity found within it.”

Hammered by accusations that she is attempting to censor Canada's artistic community, Heritage Minister Josée Verner has said she will ask the entertainment industry to help craft guidelines to govern what material no longer qualifies for tax credits.

Representatives of the industry have rejected that offer.

Finance Minister Jon Flaherty has told the committee that amendments to the bill would be considered a confidence matter. But the senators seem overwhelming opposed to allowing it to pass as it is currently written.

Members of the house of Commons gave C-10 their unanimous approval but opposition politicians later said the clause affecting entertainment tax credits had escaped their notice.

Sidney Poitier Pens Book Of Letters To Great-Granddaughter

Source:  www.thestar.com - Bob Thomas,
Associated Press

(June 9, 2008) BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.–It all began when Sidney Poitier flew to Atlanta in late December 2005 for the birth of his first great-granddaughter.

"When I arrived at the hospital, I saw my great-granddaughter in her mother's arms," he recalled. "Directly behind her was my daughter, the baby's grandmother. Next to her was my former wife, who was the baby's great-grandmother.

"I saw that I was in a room of four generations. I would soon be 80, and Ayele was one day old. I realized that the time between us would be short. I decided I would write a book in the form of letters so I could cover everything that I've felt and learned, and talk to her about things that I don't understand.''

The result is Life Beyond Measure, Letters to My Great-Granddaughter. It follows his 1980 autobiography, "This Life," but is much more personal, with little reference to his movie career. The chapter titles tell of his concerns. Among them: "Me and God," "Battling the Demons," "People of Courage," "The World I Leave You."

Life Beyond Measure was a gruelling task for Poitier, who had to dig into his earliest memories, his relations with his parents, his sometimes wayward youth.

"I'm going to quit writing," he vowed, somewhat unconvincingly. "I was working eight to 10 hours a day on the book. I'm going to relax, find something else to do." Still, he talked about three more books he wants to write.

Poitier sat down for an interview in his comfortably cluttered house a few blocks from the Beverly Hills Hotel. "My wife collects knick-knacks," he explained.

He and Joanna Poitier live alone. Gone are the girls: Gina, Pamela, Beverly and Sheri, from his marriage to Juanita Poitier, as well as Sydney and Anika, from the marriage to actress Joanna Shimkus.

At 81, Sidney Poitier seems little changed from his movie years. His hair is a bit thinner, and he has been forced to abandon tennis and golf because of a bad back. But he still stands tall, and his face is smooth.

"I retired from acting a long time ago," he remarked (his last film was The Jackal in 1997). "I had spent all that I had to spend in terms of creativeness.

"The work was organic, and I tried to make it organic for a long time. By the end of 56 movies ... I found that I had spent it as honestly as I could, and I was obliged to myself to quit."

He still gets offers for films, but he's not interested in working. He said he's playing the grandfather and the great-grandfather in his real life. He now has two great-granddaughters.

Poitier spent his early life in the Caribbean, but he was born in the United States. His father and his six-and-half-month pregnant wife had gone to Miami to sell their tomato crop. Their mission over, they prepared for the trip back home. But Sidney was born, all three pounds of him. Survival seemed doubtful, and his father found a shoe box for the burial. But Sidney, the youngest of nine children, did survive, and he was taken home to Cat Island in the Bahamas.

"The island is the same size as Manhattan," he remarked, "but it had only 2,500 population."

Poitier spent his first 10-and-a-half years on the quiet island with no school to attend.

"I have always been a learner because I knew nothing," he observed. "I didn't have an education, and I couldn't read very well. I couldn't spell. I could barely count to a hundred. But I did have a curiosity. I looked at insects. I looked at birds and crickets. I looked at fish on the edge of the sea."

When Florida banned the import of tomatoes from the Bahamas, the family moved to Nassau where his father found other work. But there was a much larger world beyond island life. Sidney and his mother arrived at the busy Nassau harbour, and he saw something that resembled a giant beetle. "What is that?" he asked his mother. "That," his mother replied, "is a car."

Poitier writes of an incident in his early teens. He fell in with a group of adventurous boys, and they robbed a corn field one night. They were roasting their loot a half-mile away when the farmer saw the fire and called the police. The other boys' fathers raised the $8 bail money; Sidney's father didn't have the cash, and his son spent a night in jail.

Poitier quotes his father: "You need a stronger hand. You were born in America. The time has come for your mother and me to send you back." At 15, Sidney was sent to live with his brother Cyril in Miami. He didn't see his parents for another eight years.

Miami was totally different from Cat Island and Nassau. Poitier writes of "the searing shock of racism, segregation and the mistreatment of people on the basis of colour alone."

Poitier was 16 when he got off the bus in New York City and headed for Harlem. On the way he spotted a sign in a restaurant's window: "Dishwasher Wanted." He got the job and spent his evenings washing dishes at $4 plus change and his days looking for better jobs.

After a brief stint in the Army, he returned to job hunting and answered an ad: "Actors Wanted – American Negro Theater." He was briskly sent away, but returned and got a job. He had found his lifetime work.

Poitier is an omnivorous reader and especially likes scientific works.

"I'm impressed by science," he remarked. "I don't very often read novels. I stay with what I see, what I've learned, what I try to understand.''

In his letters to Ayele, Poitier expresses his concern for the planet.

"We all are obliged to do something for the universe," he said. "The universe is where we live; it's our home base. I believe that our greatest obligation is not to abuse it.

"My friends think I'm nuts. But this is the way I feel."


Romancing the Tropics

Melanie Reffes

If it sounds too good to be true it usually is except in the Caribbean where deals on weddings and honeymoons are too tempting to pass up. ‘Destination weddings ‘ mean big business on all the Islands with resorts offering complimentary ceremonies, free nights,  chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne breakfasts pour deux.  Whether it’s barefoot on the beach or a more formal affair, saying I Do is a breeze in the tropics and doesn’t have to break the bank.

Leading the pack of good deals are the Sandals resorts.  With twelve all-inclusives sitting pretty on four Islands (Jamaica, Antigua, Bahamas and St. Lucia) and deals on airfare and 50% off room rates (booked online www.sandals.com), tying the knot Caribbean-style might just last forever. The WeddingMoon package  includes a planner , marriage official, photos, reception for guests, breakfast in bed ( sorry – for the  newlyweds only )  and ‘just married’ t-shirts and with a honeymoon of six nights in a Concierge room, the ceremony is free.

In the southern Caribbean, Grenada is a treasure trove of palm-fringed beaches, fragrant spice trees and bridal bargains.  The Spice Island Beach Resort (pictured above) tops the list with their wedding package - US$1300.00 added to the room cost – that includes  the whole shebang including a beachfront floral wedding arch, champagne and cake , manicures and massages, sunset cruises and a  Best Man or Maid of Honour if case you  forget to bring one with you. (Note to couples – We recommend Seagrape Room 47 with views of the ships in the harbor.).  “Couples can sneak away to secluded corners of our lush property, stroll along Grand Anse Beach or simply relax the days away,” says owner Sir Royston Hopkin who is the only Caribbean hotelier knighted by the Queen of England.

For the more budget-conscience, Morne Fendue Plantation House is a charming eight-room B & B that’s filled with antiques like the brass bed slept in by Princess Margaret in 1953.  Rates start at US$65.00 (per room, not per person) and dip to US$40.00 if the wedding party books the entire house.  “Our views of the mountains are breathtaking and made for weddings.” smiles owner Jean Thompson who lords over the Inn as if royalty were popping in for cuppa and a scone.

So enchanted by the magnificent Piton Mountains in St Lucia, Russian-Canadian architect Nick Troubetzkoy built a monument in their honour. Scaling the heights of luxury, Jade Mountain is not only the highest hotel on the Island but also the top pick for weddings.   Each of the twenty-four suites is unique with no-fourth-wall offering unobstructed views of the twin peaks. 
The Total Romance package (starts at US$5784.00 )  includes the fifth night free and a host of romantic extras including US$ 500.00 to use on your annivesary visit.

The best on the beach in Jamaica, the AAA Five Diamond Ritz-Carlton Resort Rose Hall in Montego Bay offers five wedding packages (starting at US$2500.00) and affordable room options like the Reconnect package – $299 per room, per night - includes breakfast for two in the Horizon restaurant and a $100 daily credit for food, a massage and a round of golf at the White Witch golf course.

Gratis weddings are the trademark at SuperClubs resorts (Jamaica, Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Curacao) that also offer distinctive locales include underwater with a Diver- Minister who marries the couple amidst the coral reefs (Breezes in Jamaica) and   seaside in the buff  at the au naturel Hedonism resorts where fig leaves are accepted and may we suggest – encouraged.

How to Marry in the Caribbean

Grenada:  Information at www.grenadagrenadines.com.  Click on the ‘wedding link’
Couples who want to marry in Grenada must have passports, be on-Island three days before the ceremony and present affidavits showing both are single.   .

St Lucia:  Resorts often cover wedding expenses. Ceremonies can take place the same day you arrive for US$200.00 or US$125.00 if you’re on Island for two days. Valid passport and other legal documents are required. Wedding planners include www.awesomecaribbeanweddings.com or Dreamy Weddings & Tours www.dreamyweddings.com.  Visit www.stlucia.org and click on ‘weddings and honeymoons”

Jamaica:  Couples can marry 24 hours after arrival not including weekends providing prior application has been made for a marriage license.  Most resorts will take care of all the arrangements.  www.visitjamaica.com- Click on ‘vacation themes’ and ‘weddings and honeymoons’.










Maybe Pharrell really is a N.E.R.D ...

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

(June 07, 2008)
Okay, so Pharrell Williams wasn't fibbing. It seemed suspect when the charismatic producer/entertainer claimed in a recent Toronto Star interview that he wasn't one for the party scene.

After all, as one-half and one-third, respectively, of The Neptunes production team and N.E.R.D hip-hop/rock group, Williams has been a ubiquitous, bling-strapped red-carpet presence given to mugging alongside the likes of Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z in music videos celebrating the girl-on-each-arm lifestyle they rap about.

Just listen to N.E.R.D.'s new single "Everyone Nose," a clever ditty about cocaine-fuelled club-hopping excess with the memorable refrain "All the girls standing in the line for the bathroom," which Williams describes as "a social observation of America's night life."

Or the tune "Yeah You" – also from the ensemble's third album, Seeing Sounds, which comes out on Tuesday – which begs a groupie to scram with a Carly Simon "You're So Vain" kinda twist: "I bet you heard this song wondering who I'm talking about/You!"

Now here he was, eyes masked by sunglasses, with red baseball cap and tattoos almost as big as him, slumped on the sofa in a Toronto hotel suite the morning of N.E.R.D.'s Molson Amphitheatre gig last month, making a yawning effort to promote the forthcoming disc despite the effects of an obviously much too late night.

"I'm a Discovery Channel guy," insisted Williams, expressing disdain for the social circuit and chalking up his lack of sleep to the rigours of the group's opening slot on the North American leg of Kanye West's Glow in the Dark tour.

"Oh yeah, I party," offered Shay Haley, the group's rapper. Multi-instrumentalist and beat-wizard Chad Hugo was MIA thanks to a passport snafu at the border and didn't make it to Toronto until showtime.

Accompanied by two drummers and two guitarists, and a bevy of breakdancers (including surprise guest Chris Brown), the trio of thirtysomethings – whose name is an acronym for No-one Ever Really Dies – served up a stimulating set in which new tunes drew a strong audience response.

Afterward, Williams was true to his word. Organizers of the CiRCA afterparty told the Star, "They all arrived just after 12 a.m. – Pharrell Williams stayed for 45 minutes and Chad Hugo and Shay Haley stayed until the end."

With side ventures that include two clothing labels, a skateboard team and innumerable guest vocalist appearances, in addition to his N.E.R.D. responsibilities and The Neptunes' clients, such as Madonna and Gwen Stefani, no wonder Williams retired early to the tour bus.

The members of N.E.R.D, high-school pals from Virginia Beach, Va., don't carve up individual credits for Seeing Sounds' rock-funk-soul pastiche. "It's a meshing and melding of all three of us," said Williams, whose out-front falsetto characterizes the group.

"I'm not a singer, I'm just holding a note and expressing myself as best as I can."

Bobby Womack Gives His 'Best'

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(June 6, 2008) *Singer/songwriter
Bobby Womack has been styling soul music for more than more than five decades.

He is easily grouped with the likes of Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and Wilson Pickett, with a repertoire that not only compares to the masterpieces of these artists, but also ties him to the hits of some.

His songwriting and guitarist skills and have given hit tracks for them and legends Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Sly Stone, and Janis Joplin. The man’s resume reads like the Soul Hall of Fame.

It’s no wonder the singer’s ‘Best Of’ collection has been so highly anticipated. The disc, titled “The Best of Bobby Womack: The Soul Years” hit stores just last week and is available for download at iTunes, too.

The hits on the new album span his soulful decades, and still don’t even begin to encompass all his great hits of Womack.

“EMI, who I’ve been with for at least 30 years, decided to come out with the ‘Best Of’. I think it’s great that people of today and before – if they can’t get it, they’ve now got a way of getting it,” Womack said of the disc and explained that EMI had most of his hit tracks, so he was confident that the company would pick a good group of them for the album.

“When they ran it passed me, I said great, but there were a few things that I thought would be in it.”

As it happens, some famed Womack tracks weren’t available because of label politics. The Cleveland native began his career on Sam Cook’s SAR Label, and weaved his career through the United Artist label, Columbia Records, Arista Records, and MCA, just to name a few. With a long career, Womack was on several labels throughout his career, and as such, not all his hits came through EMI, such as his major hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” That hit song was on the album “The Poet,” which Womack released in 1981 through a small independent label called Beverly Glen.

“The issue was that Beverly Glen didn’t want EMI to have ‘If You Think You’re Lonely Now,’” Womack explained to EUR’s Lee Bailey, but the singer said he is not discouraged.

“I’d say 90% of the stuff [on the new disc] is good, but it leaves a lot of room for Part 2,” he said.

Clearly, there are no worries for soul-funk fiends. The “Best of Bobby Womack” features the hits “Harry Hippie,” “Woman’s Gotta Have It,” “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha,” and “Across 110th Street,” just to name a few. The album will not only have ‘70s soulsters reminiscing, but will just as easily have new heads bobbin’.

Womack not only made and gave hits to some of soul and rock’s most celebrated singers – Womack remakes done by The Rolling Stones and George Benson garnered top hits – but contemporary artists have gained from his mastery. K-Ci Hailey (K-Ci & JoJo) redid two of Womack’s hits and Mariah Carey gives a nod in her track “We Belong Together.”

“I’ve had some good shots with that and I’ve had some negative shots where I said they couldn’t come out with that,” Womack said of the knack of sampling.

He recalled one incident where an artist wanted to sample his voice singing “A Woman’s Gotta Have It” and he had to decline the $75,000 recompense.

“When I said ‘A woman’s gotta have it,’ I was giving respect to my mom for putting up with five sons. I was just saying, you gotta give it to a woman,” he said. “But they just wanted to use my voice saying that. And they were changing the story to say “a b*tch ain’t gotta have this, ain’t gotta have that.’ I said, ‘No, no, no!’”

Womack said that he does not do what he does for the money. And although isn’t a big fan of contemporary R&B, he understands the place and importance of music in society.

“Music is definitely important. Regardless of the fact that I don’t listen to [contemporary music] that much and don’t give it a lot of respect, the respect I give it is that it’s still entertainment and the generations can have their wishes and what they like to hear. I remember when jazz was looking at what R&B was doing was a cheap way out. Everybody’s complained.”

He continued: “Music can make people forget and get you away from depression their dealing with,” he said, describing that the thing that gets him charged is performing to packed houses, and he’s quite thankful that he’s still able to do that.

“It’s like a love affair. The main thing is being able to perform and cut records, and more important than that is that I’m still around and healthy,” he said. “These people can turn away from their pressures and I can turn away from mine and we both feed each other. In a very positive way, in a very spiritual way, that’s great to me.”

What else is great to Womack? The new disc.

“I think it’s a great idea because the generations hear it different and want to approach it different. So it allows them a chance to know who Bobby Womack is and where Bobby Womack comes from.”

To know more about Bobby Womack and his new disc, check out www.bobbywomack.com.

Cindy Blackman's Got The Beat

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry, Pop & Jazz Critic

(June 07, 2008) People who knew Cindy Blackman as Lenny Kravitz's drummer might be surprised to find her leading a quartet at the Distillery District's Art of Jazz Celebration tomorrow. But the Ohio native has solid jazz chops and has collaborated with the music's heavyweights, such as Pharaoh Sanders, Cassandra Wilson and Freddie Hubbard.

To hear the sophisticated improvisation and ingenuity of her self-written and -arranged current album, Music For the New Millennium, is to wonder how Blackman stifled her artistry playing repetitive arena shows with rocker Kravitz for 11 years.

"I like dance music and I like making the music feel good," explains the affable musician by phone from her Brooklyn apartment. "To drive an audience of 100,000 into complete oblivion by playing a groove so strong ... I love doing that. I love the chance to show versatility.

"And we played with the best of the best in rock 'n' roll – Prince, James Brown, Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger; I found joy in that. It's not the challenge that I'm getting from playing jazz, and it's not the love, for me, that jazz is, either."

As a woman behind the drum kit, Blackman is a rarity in any genre. Her lineage includes a classical pianist grandmother and orchestra violinist mom.

"In the past, there were a lot of stigmas attached to women playing certain instruments," she says. "I think a lot of women stick to particular instruments, like piano, that are acceptable, so that lessens the playing field in terms of how many women are out there. And let's face it, boys' clubs still exist. But I care nothing about that at all. I'm going to do what I'm going to do musically anyway.

She adds, "God forbid I should be limited to only play my drums in my basement; but if that's all I had, that's what I would do. Any woman, or anyone facing race prejudice, weight prejudice, hair prejudice ... if you let somebody stop you because of their opinions, then the only thing you're doing is hurting yourself. I don't want to give somebody that power over me."

Blackman is often referred to as a disciple of renowned drummer and one-time Miles Davis sideman Tony Williams.

She says, "On the one hand, it doesn't bother me at all to be associated and in line with a master of the instrument like that – `Okay, I might not be where I want to be, but I'm on the right track.' On the other hand, I don't plan on being a clone. What I'm doing is always looking to expound on something that he's done, or push the music in a different way."

In addition to other drumming "heroes" – Art Blakey, Elvin Jones and John Bonham – Blackman also cites other influences.

"I listen to horn players and singers a lot," she says. "Horn players to hear the line, like (Charlie "Bird" Parker), of course, and Miles (Davis) is my favourite. Dizzy Gillespie, (John) Coltrane, Wayne Shorter.

"I love Billie Holiday's delivery and her deliberateness of that delivery, her pacing. Also, Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Hartman, Ella Fitzgerald. The way that they sing phrases, their pitch, the way that they play with the notes; it's so musical. Miles Davis listened to singers and you can hear it in the deliberateness of his phrases and the lines that he plays.

"And I love piano players. I listen for their phrasing, for what they do with the left hand. Herbie Hancock is probably my favourite. I listen to how bass players walk notes. Ron Carter's mastery of pulse, his harmony, his choice of notes and rhythm, to me, is incredible. I could sing his lines all day.

"It's easy for us to forget that we can be inspired by many things. I listen to rain and wind and the ocean and the creaks in my apartment. I listen to what it sounds like when people walk. I listen to the feeling of things."

Blackman, who attended a Baptist church in her teens, became a follower of the Persian faith Baha'i at 18 and began studying Kabbalah a few years ago. So it's no wonder she believes music has a spiritual core.

"I believe that music is so sacred that once you're playing music you are doing the work of prayer, whether you're conscious of it or not, because you have a focused intent. You transcend, because you're crossing barriers that a lot of people and even us as musicians don't normally venture to, because we don't think about it.

"Some people play and they're not even thinking about it; they're thinking about their stock quotes or whatever, and that's apparent in the level of musicality, or intensity that some people have. With the intensity that he played, I'm quite sure John Coltrane was connecting to his higher self on a regular basis.

"For me, it's certainly always there and it definitely transcends me from wherever I'm at to a higher place. I could be completely ill, I could be in pain, I could be completely ecstatic about something, but whatever it is I bring to the table, that gets raised to other dimensions.

"When you can learn to move those energies, even if they're sad, into something that is of benefit, like focusing on bringing light to people who are listening, or just to the universe in general, then you can do something good with it. I don't keep that in mind 100 per cent of the time – I'm human – but I try to."

Given the physical demands of her instrument, Blackman also keeps her outer self honed with yoga and karate. "I'm really conscious of taking great care of myself," she says. "I make sure my body is in peak condition as much as possible. When I'm at home, I eat completely organic, take a lot of sea minerals, try to eat natural foods. I eat nothing out of a can, I don't drink soda and I usually juice my own juices. When I see my peers we talk about different things and I know it pays off."

In any event, Blackman seems to be in good company. Although Tony Williams died of a heart attack at 51, other drum icons such as Blakey, Jones and Max Roach led long lives and careers despite the excesses of their time.

"Art Blakey never did yoga I'm quite sure," says Blackman with a laugh. "A lot of those guys did so much harm to their bodies. When Bird passed away at 34, they said his body looked like he was in his 60s. Just think how much more musically we would have had contributed by him if he had actually lived to his 60s."

The Cindy Blackman Quartet play the Boiler Room tomorrow afternoon at 4. More info at artofjazz.org.

Son of Godfather of Soul

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry,
Pop & Jazz Critic

(June 05, 2008) Nepotism may have landed James Brown's drummer son a spot in the legendary funkster's band at age 16, but it didn't exempt him from the acclaimed bandleader, songwriter and producer's exacting command.

"At the beginning it was rough, because he was fining people for not having their shoes shined, for having wrinkles in their clothes, all kinds of stuff," 40-something
Daryl Brown recalls. "He was a perfectionist and he demanded just as much as he was going to put out.

"I got fined $25 a few times: once because I played a wrong note; another time he pointed at me to take a solo in a different spot – that's why you always had to keep your eye on him – and I was like `What do you want me to do?'

"He'd (dock) the money, but I always got it back. Towards the end, it was more of a fun thing, but it was good discipline and I'm pretty much the same way with handling the band now."

Daryl Brown, who had later switched to guitar, assumed leadership over the 20-year-old outfit when the Godfather of Soul died suddenly 18 months ago. The current 11-piece line-up includes three other musicians who were in the group at that time: bassist Fred Thomas, saxist Leroy Harper and percussionist George Nealy.

"It's very important that they have the right vibe," Brown said of recruiting new players. "They have to be able to take criticism. ... They just can't come in here thinking they know everything.

"We look for guys that are humble and want to learn. JB's Soul Generals is not just a band, it's an institute. We have a list of people who want to get in."

There's a new lead singer, former Temptations member Barrington Henderson, whom Brown said isn't considered a replacement.

"You can't recreate James Brown," he explained. "Then it would become an ordinary tribute band. He told me `Son, people don't want to see you perform; they want to see you create. They want to see you take this thing further on.' And that's what we're doing. We're not shying away from what my dad gave us; the Soul Generals are going to put out albums of original material in the same kind of tradition."

Father and son talked about the band's future two weeks before James Brown, 73, succumbed to pneumonia and heart failure on Christmas Day 2006.

"I felt like he knew that it was his time. He'd been doing it for so many years and he was really tired. I guess he had a premonition. I didn't want to accept that, because you think this cat is going to live forever. He performed harder in his seventies than he did when he was in his fifties or forties or thirties.

"Not a week goes by that I don't dream about him. I call them visions, because there's a message in every dream. He's very happy. He doesn't have that pressure on him any more."

It's hard to imagine the late icon being pleased with the controversy that has ensued in the wake of his demise: paternity suits, challenges to his will, bickering over where he should be buried and wrangling over his 800-plus song catalogue and proposed biopic.

Daryl Brown, one of six children his father recognized in his will, is party to some of the legal proceedings, but won't discuss details.

"He told me to keep this band, keep this music alive and that's exactly what I'm doing. What the other people do really doesn't affect me. As a family we have done nothing wrong. All we've tried to do is keep the legacy alive."

That means Saturday's show at Nathan Philips Square will cut a swath through James Brown's thrilling catalogue.

"We do it all. Every song," he promises. "People forget that even though James Brown was the Hardest Working Man In Show Business, the band was the hardest working band in show business."

Just the facts
What: On the One Luminato Funk Festival, featuring James Brown's Soul Generals
Where: Nathan Phillips Square
When: Saturday, 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Admission: Free

Allen Stays, New Hosts To Join Radio 2

www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(June 11, 2008) CBC Radio 2 is keeping Tom Allen as its morning host, but will be bringing aboard a number of musicians to host its new programs starting this fall, as the once classical-music-dominated network prepares to expand further into a wider range of genres.

Allen's new weekday morning show from 6 to 10 will not be classical-based, as is his current show Music & Company, but will feature a variety of music. The mix will be vocal and instrumental songs, both contemporary and older tunes. Singer Molly Johnson will host the weekend version of the show.

"It could be contemporary popular music, jazz, roots, singer-songwriter, world, and the list of genres goes on. It's not going to be chasing the Top 40. There are thousands of tracks of quality [Canadian] music that are not broadcast on commercial stations," said Mark Steinmetz, director of radio music.

CBC management's view is that there are enormous swaths of Canadian music that are winning accolades and audiences in Canada and worldwide, but which never get played on the radio. CBC Radio executives have noted throughout the stage-by-stage revamp of Radio 2 that they want to tap into that repertoire of broader music in order to expand the network's audience.

Allen, with his story-telling style on air, is often singled out as one of the favourite hosts among a group of dedicated listeners who have been highly critical of the CBC's moves with Radio 2. Many have vociferously argued in Internet discussion boards that the CBC is aiming for a larger audience at the expense of quality, specifically high-end classical music, which is not available over the commercial airways in most parts of Canada.

However, CBC management said yesterday that the network will remain committed to classical music throughout much of its schedule. In yesterday's announcement about the new hosts coming this fall, mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah will become the host of the new weekday classical show from 10 a.m. to 3 in the afternoon. It will feature both recorded classical music and recordings of live performances.

The show that may sound most different from the current Radio 2 will be the new afternoon show from 3 to 6 hosted by Rich Terfry, who records under the stage name Buck 65. Although Terfry's own music is primarily hip hop, his Radio 2 show will focus on songs and songwriters.

"This is a show that focuses on current and contemporary music released, let's say, in the last five to 10 years - but with an emphasis on Canada," Steinmetz said.

TSO Receives $3.5M Donation

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

June 11, 2008) On Saturday, music director Peter Oundjian will announce to the public at Roy Thomson Hall that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has just received one of the largest single gifts in its history.

The $3.5 million cheque from long-time patrons Thomas and Mary Beck endows the concertmaster's chair, significantly boosting the salary for the orchestra's No.1 player.

This will help attract top violinists interested in replacing Jacques Israelievitch, who retires as concertmaster this month.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra spends more than $20 million a year to present a 100-plus concert season. But although the music may now be world class, finances still leave a lot to be desired.

The Becks want to be part of a solution.

Most large American orchestras have endowments that generate millions in investment income every year. Since government grants, accounting for a fifth of the orchestra's revenues, are not likely to rise, private funds play an increasingly important role.

"We need to change the culture of philanthropy in this city," says Oundjian.

"Ideally, all the principal chairs in the orchestra would be endowed," says vice-president of development Ginny Medland Green. The Becks' cheque "is one of those transformative gifts" that will help reach that goal.

This way, the TSO can compete with North America's top orchestras that typically pay their concertmasters between $250,000 and $350,000 a year.

"This really does open up new possibilities for us," says Oundjian. "You have to remember that, for an American, Toronto is a different country, a different culture, so it's not a place they automatically think of."

Medland Green points out that Canadian fundraising currently produces only about 10 per cent of the results south of the border. Canadian endowments are leaner, too.

At the end of the 2006 fiscal year, the Toronto Symphony Foundation and the volunteer committee listed endowments of slightly more than $21 million.

Two years earlier, the Pittsburgh Symphony – not too different in size and scope from the TSO – showed nearly $105 million (U.S.) in interest-bearing investments, according to information available on Guidestar. Pittsburgh concertmaster Andres Cardenes received $252,686, plus benefits from his endowed chair in 2004.

The base pay for TSO musicians, now in the midst of contact negotiations, approaches $80,000 a year.

"It's so much easier to hire someone when they know that their salary is guaranteed," says Oundjian, tacitly acknowledging the TSO's brush with bankruptcy in 2001 and the ensuing pay cuts for musicians.

Oundjian knows that replacing Israelievitch is a chance to shape his own legacy. "This may be the only concertmaster that I will ever get to hire," he says.

As a board member for 22 years – and chair in the early 1980s – Thomas Beck knows all about financing large operations. The Hungarian-born engineer built up Noma Industries, an electrical-supply manufacturer, after moving to Toronto with his mother in 1950.

Beck fell in love with symphonic music as a high school student in England, when he attended his first Proms concert at Royal Albert Hall in the early 1940s. "I stood in line for an hour to get in on the cheap tickets, then had to stand for the two-hour concert. But it was worth every minute."

Thomas and wife Mary, whom he met among Toronto's Hungarian expat community in the early 1950s, have long made the Toronto Symphony one of their primary interests. The gregarious retired entrepreneur smiles over recollections of accompanying the players on tours to Europe, the Arctic and playing tennis with a young Seiji Ozawa, the TSO's music director in the late 1960s.

A second-floor hallway at the Beck home is lined with music memorabilia. One recalls his favourite event, a 1989 joint fundraising gala concert at Roy Thomson Hall with the Israel Philharmonic and the Toronto Symphony. Everyone signed the poster, including conductor Zubin Mehta.

"Normally, visiting orchestras lose money. But Zubin went to three or four dinners at people's homes and helped raise about $600,000," says Beck. "We split the money 50-50 between the orchestras and everyone was happy."

Now Beck is trying to spread some happiness all over again.

Cellist Dazzles As Conductor Takes Charge

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

Toronto Symphony Orchestra
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)
With cellist Enrico Dindo. Peter Oundjian, conductor. Repeats tonight. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St.

(June 05, 2008) The real Peter Oundjian has stood up. In this week's Russian-American program we see a particularly serious conductor who desperately wants us to recognize his abilities.

Fortunately for him and the
Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the results last night at Roy Thomson Hall were impressive.

Unfortunately for those concert fans who are used to more tuneful, 19th-century fare, this week's outing consists of 20th-century works that, for the most part, require more careful concentration than usual on the part of listeners.

Not that there isn't some musical flash on offer, too.

After wowing us two seasons ago in two concertos by Dmitri Shostakovich, 40-something Italian cellist
Enrico Dindo is back with a seldom-heard late work of Sergei Prokofiev's, the 1952 Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra.

This dazzling mix of mechanistic technical fireworks and arcing, teasing melodies that constantly threaten to erupt from its depths, give both the soloist and the orchestra multiple opportunities to show what they're made of.

Dindo's playing was nothing short of breathtaking, as he switched moods with ease, embracing every phrase or jagged run of notes as if it was going to be his last.

Oundjian was in total control of the whole, perching the orchestra in a magical balance between muscle and gentle finesse.

Too bad the piece itself never coalesces behind one theme or a larger narrative. It is restlessness itself, which is not always musically or intellectually satisfying.

The other major work on the program used the premise of an underlying restlessness to build an arc around a wonderfully peaceful core. American composer John Corigliano's Symphony No. 2 is a year-2000 expansion of an earlier string quartet using all of the orchestra's strings.

Once again, Oundjian found a magical balance in the sound and the musicians responded with gorgeous playing.

Despite all this technical brilliance on the part of performers and composers, there was nothing but Leonard Bernstein's snappy little Overture to Candide to hum on the way home after the concert.

But the real object was to show a music director in full charge. Oundjian can be proud as he nears the end of his fifth season with the TSO.

Icon Cohen Breathtaking

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

(June 07, 2008)
It's a humbling thing, being in the presence of true greatness, especially when you get the gnawing sense that this is the last time you'll share an audience with it.

Leonard Cohen hasn't toured in 15 years. At 73, he's as dapper and as handy with a bon mot as he ever was, but there was a slight frailty evident in the legendary poet's suited-and-fedora'd frame as he serenaded a rapt crowd at the Sony Centre for two-and-a-half entrancing hours last night that suggested he can't have too many more world tours in him.

This was a love-in, where standing ovations sprang spontaneously from the floor with some regularity – heck, "Hallelujah" had a few bodies up after the first chorus – and not just because Cohen's admirers can't be sure when he's likely to emerge again from the ascetic California Buddhist retreat where he's been living in recent years. No, this was a love-in because the man is the real deal, a songwriter who's contributed so much ageless, gorgeous verse to the English language that he makes one wonder why anyone else even bothers.

Flanked by a nine-piece band that brought a flawless, finely nuanced backdrop of groove – what you get when you employ a bass player like Roscoe Beck as your musical director – to two full sets of career-spanning favourites, Cohen politely doffed his hat and folded himself into the band to allow generous solo spots for his accompanists at regular intervals and gave a prominent role throughout to the angelic backup vocal trio of his sometime co-writer Sharon Robinson and sisters Charlie and Hatty Webb.

Cohen's own signature, tectonic baritone was in tip-top shape last night from the opening lines of "Dance Me to the End of Love" to the jubilant version of "Closing Time" that brought a lengthy encore to climax. At times, it sounded a little more weathered than we might have remembered it, but that only brought extra nihilist gravitas to "The Future" and "Everybody Knows," and only made the blues of "Bird on a Wire" and the weary bossa nova questing of "Tower of Song" that much more resonant. The infamous ladykiller could still have had his pick of any of the women in the room after the mildly lewd "I'm Your Man" or the heart-stopping version of "Suzanne" he unleashed over his own quiet, acoustic-guitar accompaniment during the second half of the show.

It was his words, Cohen's wonderful, romantic, breathtakingly perfect words, though, that were the true stars of the evening.

Indeed, the highlight of the night might have been when the music all but stopped and he intoned the spoken-word meditation on aging and mortality "A Thousand Kisses Deep" with all the weight of a man who's staring both in the face.


Parachute Club kicks off Luminato

Source: www.thestar.com - Cassandra Szklarski,
The Canadian Press

(June 05, 2008) New material from '80s world-beat band Parachute Club and a performance by reclusive songstress Mary Margaret O'Hara will be featured at a music celebration set to kick off the 10-day Luminato arts festival this weekend.

Joining O'Hara and the Toronto pop collective will be '70s rockers The B Girls and rockabilly band Johnny and the G-Rays.

It's a blast from the past that celebrates the unique blend of art and music that thrived during Queen St.'s early hipster days, giving way to eclectic '80s sounds that included punk, new wave and world beat.

Parachute Club singer Lorraine Segato says the group – including guitarist David Gray, bassist Keir Brownstone and percussionist Billy Bryans – still performs two or three times a year, but largely in the Toronto area and often in support of political or cultural events.

Throughout, there's been constant talk of new releases.

"There's talk of remixes of some of the old material, like mash-ups with different grooves," Segato says.

"That's been a project that's been sort of on the back burner for a long time but you know will probably happen sooner rather than later. And there's always the idea of: when would be the appropriate time to be putting out new material?"

Parachute Club disbanded in 1989 and the last time Segato put out a record was 1998, a collaboration with Gray called Luminous City. But more releases could follow soon, she suggests, noting their creative chemistry has survived the years.

"Dave and I often ask the question: Is this a Parachute Club song or is this a Lorraine song or what's this for?" she says of their songwriting sessions.

"And sometimes we don't know yet. There's a whole pile of material right now that's been amassed or being amassed that could go to Parachute Club or it could just as easily go to my next solo project, whenever that may be."

And although they've been little seen outside Toronto, Segato says Parachute Club is gearing up for more public appearances this year, including concerts at gay pride events in Toronto and Hamilton and a possible tour of Eastern Canada.

"We're really enjoying playing with each other these days because we've all grown up and we've all been through a lot of things," notes Segato, now 50.

"Now that when we're together we have a chemistry, we have a magic that still, I think, translates. And the music feels actually, oddly enough, more relevant than ever when I look at a lot of the material that we wrote like `Boy's Club,' 'Cheat the Prophecy,' `Love and Compassion,' `Rise Up,' obviously.

"You look at what's going on in the world right now with Burma, in Tibet, in Africa and a song like `Are You Hungry?' is all about precisely what's going on. It's really interesting to be singing material that actually, 25 years later or 20-some odd years later is still very topical ... But it's exciting because it's fresh for us."

Luminato kicks off Friday with a series of innovative works in the fields of dance, theatre, music, visual art and cinema.

Queen Street Celebration begins at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7 at 100 McCaul St.

Peter Buck: I Nearly Quit R.E.M.

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

(June 8, 2008)
Years from now, it's conceivable some earnest fans and critics might attempt to rehabilitate, in hindsight, the trio of iffy albums with which R.E.M. turned the corner on the last millennium. But don't hold your breath waiting for Peter Buck to grant his approval.

So disgusted was the guitarist with the state of things creatively within the band after 2004's widely pilloried Around the Sun, in fact, that he was ready to chuck R.E.M. altogether.

"We've always been a great live band, and on the last tour people who'd been seeing us since the '80s were saying, `That's actually the most exciting tour I've seen you guys do, ever.' And yet it was on a record that no one really liked and was almost impossible to play," says Buck, via the R.E.M. office in Athens, Ga.

"I just said to the guys, `We're good at this. This is what we do well, not spending eight months in the studio worrying about every little note ... I have no interest in spending eight months fiddling with it. If that's the way you wanna work, you're gonna do it without me.'

"Fortunately, everyone kind of agreed the other way didn't work and we kind of need Peter in the band."

The straight-shooting Buck did have a valid point to share with his bandmates.

Although he, singer Michael Stipe and bassist Mike Mills had reacted to the amicable departure in 1997 of friend, drummer and R.E.M. co-founder Bill Berry by turning in a series of increasingly subdued and meandering albums – Up in 1998, Reveal in 2001 and the nearly deal-breaking Around the Sun four years ago – they'd remained a fairly raucous and vital entity onstage throughout their downward slide in the studio.

The disparity between the performances and the recordings thus only made the growing fuzziness of the albums that much harder to take. Why couldn't the records sound as charged as the shows?

Buck agonized over the dilemma, finding rock 'n' roll solace by gigging with Robyn Hitchcock's band and his longtime friends in the Minus Five for a year while R.E.M. drifted uncertainly in the background.

He thought a lot about his favourite records and why they were his favourite records, wondering "whether it's jump blues from 1938 or Big Star's Third, what makes it great and why am I not making that right now? And to me, it just felt like spontaneity was a big part of it."

When he finally reconvened with Stipe and Mills last year to discuss the possibility of a new R.E.M. album, the strategy he posited was simple: let's do this thing quickly, let's not overthink the songs and let's, please, try to enjoy ourselves again.

To keep their energies focused in the right direction, the three agreed that only songs written on the electric guitar would be up for consideration. No acoustic numbers, none of the ambient electronica that had crept into later records. It was time to play rock music again.

At their chums in U2's urging – Stipe and Bono are pretty tight, apparently, and have even "pointed each other in different songwriting directions at different times," says Buck – the members of R.E.M. looked to au courant U.K. producer Jacknife Lee to whip them further into shape.

Lee, who's worked on recent records by Bloc Party, Snow Patrol and Green Day, along with U2's How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, didn't mince words.

"He didn't think our last record was exciting," says Buck. "He wanted us to make an exciting record."

Happily, they did.

Vowing not to get "bogged down," the band – bolstered by the recruitment of ex-Ministry drummer Bill Rieflin, with whom Buck played in the Minus Five – knocked out what would become its bristling new disc, Accelerate, in three quick bursts in Vancouver, Ireland and Athens.

"No more than three takes" was an unofficial rule, and the bulk of the 11 short, sharp and refreshingly punk-ish tunes that wound up on the album were delivered live off the studio floor, a fact that should guarantee a particularly loud and lively set list when R.E.M. returns to the Molson Amphitheatre with Modest Mouse and the National in tow tonight.

The band seems upbeat about where it's at these days, having turned the positive pre-release notices that began accruing to Accelerate around its coming-out performance at the South by Southwest festival in March into renewed critical and commercial potency. Accelerate debuted at No. 1 on the SoundScan album chart in Canada upon its release on April 1, while notching a No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200 for itself in the States.

A nice bounce back, really, considering Around the Sun didn't even make the Top 10.

"You're a writer. You know if it's due Monday, you finish it Sunday. So we figured why book two months (in the studio) and then only work two weeks out of that? Let's book 10 days and then we'll be done before we get bored. And so we really went at it like we didn't have any time at all," says Buck, who'd do the next record even faster if he had his druthers.

"After two weeks in Vancouver, we had seven songs completely finished and a rough mix that was almost good enough. We thought, if we can do that in 10 days, we can finish the record in another 10. And we almost did.

"The last record sounds like it did because we were bored of playing the songs over and over again for no reason. And this record sounds like what it is: People really excited to be playing songs they love."

Festival Was All About Jazz

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry,
Pop & Jazz Critic

(June 09, 2008) Mark Kneeshaw learned to play the blues on the final day of the third annual Art of Jazz Celebration.

The 40-year-old Toronto photographer was one of several adults who got an accelerated harmonica lesson at the Jazz For Juniors Clinic yesterday afternoon. Instructor Mike Stevens had promised that participants would learn to play four songs in an hour.

"I'm a slow learner, I've got to practise," said Kneeshaw, who wound up being able to eke out a recognizable melody on the instrument he received as a gift more than a decade ago.

"He has a real way of talking that made me get it in a way I never had," he said of Stevens, whose instructions included, "say the word `oohwah' when breathing in."

That's the kind of result organizers of the five-day Distillery District event aim for. The Art of Jazz is a non-profit organization dedicated to jazz education and performance.

"Part of what we want to do is provide new perspectives and provide access," said AOJ's Bonnie Lester of the event dubbed the Global Jazz Village for its mix of local and international talent.

The program included children-geared, adult-friendly workshops on harmonica and samba drumming, clinics on composition and singing, writers' forums, and unique free and ticketed concerts over five stages. Acts included duos, such as vocalist Sheila Jordan and pianist Steve Kuhn, legendary Brazilian musicians Hermeto Pascoal and Egberto Gismonti, an all-star tribute to Sackville Records founder John Norris and Cuban-Haitian a cappella group Desandann. "We try to select people who have been groundbreaking in terms of change," said Lester, pointing to Gismonti as a multi-instrumentalist "who opened my eyes to so many possibilities of what could be done with music," when she heard him in her youth.

An added feature this year was the Women In Jazz Stage, which featured headliners such as saxist Jane Fair and bassist Brandi Disterheft. Another big draw was female drumming rarity Cindy Blackman, who led her quartet through two Boiler House sets so explosive that the bartenders stopped to applaud after her solos.

"Women in jazz don't tend to get as much exposure," said Lester of the female-focused stage, which is planned as a permanent addition. "There are some incredible women musicians in this city that can hold their own with anyone in the world."

Art of Jazz, which also has women at its helm – vocalist Lester and flautist Jane Bunnett run the organization with Bunnett's husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer – even debuted women's souvenir tees. "Women need shirts to fit their bodies," said Lester with a laugh. "We're honouring the female form."

Bo Diddley Given Rocking Sendoff At Florida Funeral

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Brendan Farrington, Associated Press

(June 07, 2008) GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Bo Diddley's funeral rocked and rolled Saturday with as much energy as his music.

For four hours, friends and relatives sang, danced and celebrated the life of the man who helped give birth to rock and roll with a signature beat that influenced Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and many others.

As family members passed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's coffin, a gospel band played his namesake song. Within moments, the crowd of several hundred began clapping in time and shouting: “Hey, Bo Diddley!”

Diddley, 79, died of heart failure Monday at his home in nearby Archer.

 “In 1955 he used to keep the crowds rocking and rolling way before Elvis Presley,” Diddley's grandson, Garry Mitchell, said before kicking his legs sideways, high up in the air, the way Diddley did onstage.

Mourners cheered.

“I'm just telling it the way it is,” Mitchell said.

Diddley, who was born Ellas Bates and became Ellas McDaniel when he took the last name of a cousin who raised him, was remembered for much more than his songs. Friends recounted his generosity, manifested in concerts for the homeless and work with youth groups and other charities and the way he loved to talk to just about anybody he met.

Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan referred to one of his most famous hits as she told the crowd: “When the question is asked: ‘Who do you love?', it's you, Bo.”

The funeral was followed by a tribute concert featuring his touring band and other musicians.

Eric Burdon, leader of the rock group The Animals, attended the service, and flowers were sent from musicians including Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Petty, George Thorogood and others.

Burdon, also a member of the Rock Hall, called Diddley a big influence.

“I've been a fan of his since 16, 17 years of age. Probably one of the first records I ever owned,” Burdon said, recalling his attention was immediately grabbed when he saw an album cover with Diddley sitting on a scooter with a square guitar.

Burdon said he saw Diddley play last year at a concert in Australia and even though he could tell his health wasn't great, Diddley put tremendous energy into the show. He was known for his stage moves, which some presume influenced Presley.

“He's always been jumping around and very aggressive; if he was onstage with the Stones, he was obviously putting Keith Richards in his place,” Burdon said.

In describing the “shave and a haircut, two bits” rhythm Diddley made famous, Burdon said: “I call it bone music, because it goes to your bone.”

But stories of another side of Diddley were told repeatedly at the funeral. A man who loved God and his family, who would always stop to talk in the grocery store and was always smiling.

His brother, Rev. Kenneth Haynes of Biloxi, Miss., said Diddley always asked how he could help and what he could give.

“There was one thing he wouldn't give me. That's his hat,” Haynes said, referring to the black hat the musician was also known for.

But Haynes said his brother grew weary of life on the road.

“'But this is what God gave me to feed my family,”' Haynes recalled Diddley saying.

“'I have to keep doing it until God says it's enough.”'

Diddley was born in McComb, Miss. He moved to rural Archer in the early 1980s and had a recording studio on his property. Mitchell joked that Diddley got up so early, he would tap the roosters on the shoulder to wake them up. And he always sang at breakfast.

Diddley's friend Roosevelt Hutchinson described how the musician would wrap meat in several layers of tinfoil, bury it and light a fire on top to cook it. Once the fire was lit, he would grab his guitar.

“He just enjoyed playing that thing under the trees,” Hutchinson said.

But he enjoyed his family even more, friends said. He had four children, 15 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

“Please know this, because I know Diddley,” the guitarist's business manager, Faith Fusillo, told his family.

“As much as you loved him, he loved you more.”


Stevie Wonder To Tour Europe This Summer

Source: www.thestar.com - Lars Brandle,

(June 05, 2008) LONDON–Stevie Wonder is hitting the road late this summer for a rare European tour. The artist confirmed plans June 5 to play 12 dates, beginning Sept. 8 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England. He will perform a handful of concerts in Britain before moving on to the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Italy and France, where he will wrap his tour Sept. 28 at the Paris Bercy. Live Nation is producing the tour, Wonder's first in Europe for more than a decade. The singer was on hand to relay the news at a media gathering in London's Hard Rock Cafe, where he played an exclusive set.  "I am looking forward to performing in these venues in Europe. We are going to have some wonderful nights of intimate excitement," Wonder said.

Riches Rare For Canadian Musicians, Says Study

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Guy Dixon

(June 10, 2008) Toronto — The average Canadian musician earns only $16,500 a year from music after taxes, according to a study of the music industry by Rotman School of Management professor Douglas Hyatt and polling company Pollara. The survey of 684 Canadian musicians, songwriters and vocalists polled last December and January found that two-thirds also have a job outside music that earn them less than $21,000 in extra income, on average. And 43 per cent of musicians polled have become more reliant on income other than music in the past three years, as certain sectors of the music industry, especially CD retail sales, have suffered. The study released yesterday comes out as proposed copyright legislation remains in limbo in Ottawa. Major groups representing the copyright holders, such as the Canadian Independent Record Production Association, which has been heavily involved in lobbying Ottawa, lent their names to the report.

Prince Quietly Turns 50

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(June 10, 2008) *Prince celebrated his 50th birthday over the weekend without much fanfare. According to E! Online, the musician dipped into his regular spot Teddy's at the Hollywood Hotel on Friday to have drinks with friends. Afterwards, he exited the hotel and simply "strolled down Hollywood Blvd. among the regular folk."  On Saturday, his actual birthday, he took two young brunettes to the "Lo Hi Fi" party at Hollywood spot Green Door, according to E! Online. The artist and his lady friends set down roots at a table and kept to themselves, the Web site reports.  Also at Green Door that night was "Iron Man" Robert Downey Jr., who held court with 10 friends, including comic Richard Lewis.

Cassandra Wilson: Loverly

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(Blue Note) http://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_halfstar.gif

(June 10, 2008) After two decades of conceptual roots experimentation, this 52-year-old Mississippi native is back with her second-ever album of jazz standards.  But don't expect a conventional, straight-ahead approach just because Wilson has turned her smoky vocals to familiar songs, such as "Caravan," "The Very Thought of You" and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly." She still brings the same unexpected rhythmic shifts and moodiness that have defined her oeuvre as song stylist vs. mere singer. Supported by a standout band, including pianist Jason Moran and bassist Lonnie Plaxico, the album has a live vibe, resulting from ambient noises such as finger snaps and Wilson's forced joviality. If her 16 previous albums haven't turned your head, this one won't. Top track: "Lover Come to Me" is accented by witty, muted licks from guest trumpeter Nick Payton.


Everything The Traffic Will Allow

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

(June 10, 2008) The traffic cones are in bloom again.  I don't know if you've noticed, but film crews are once again taking over our fair city, blocking off entire streets, disrupting local commerce, parking their trailers on the lawns, shining their big honkin' Klieg lights in our faces...

God bless 'em, every one.

Production in town has picked up considerably, and for a change it's almost entirely our own. (That being said, I for one am immensely looking forward to kicking back in a movie theatre this Friday to watch the Incredible Hulk totally trash Yonge St.)

CTV's Flashpoint and The Listener are out there, fighting crime in the streets of Toronto – which is, at long last, actually Toronto, and not some generic American city, which will no doubt confuse the hell out of the Americans who will be watching. (Both shows have already been sold for export.)

The same network also attracted line-ups last weekend to audition for their franchised So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

Global is bringing Howie Mandel home, stalking the unsuspecting stooge for his mid-season prank show, Howie Do It. Not to mention the return of CBC's Little Mosque on the Prairie and The Border; CTV's Degrassi: The Next Generation, Global's da Kink in my Hair are all back on the job, making it safe for Canadian culture.

And there's more to come, according to a news release hot off the presses from Astral Media – the folks who brought you The Movie Network and such significant series as Slings & Arrows, Terminal City and Durham County.

Astral has three new shows going into production: Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, Sanctuary and The Weight.

Well, only the first two are technically new; The Weight, an urban crime drama co-created and co-written by George F. Walker and Dani Romain, has already been renewed for a soon-to-shoot second season, even before the first has aired.

Expect to see both seasons of The Weight running consecutively on TMN next spring.

There's good reason for TMN's optimism. The Weight could be the Canadian equivalent of The Wire. Not that I've seen a single snippet of footage. But I was on set during the first-season shoot and there was definitely the smell of victory in the air.

I was particularly blown away by what I saw of Daniel Kash and Ron White as a pair of renegade cops. Also in the cast, American imports Linda Hamilton, Ed Asner and Sharon Lawrence.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that first-season director Gail Harvey is a close friend and next-door neighbour, and Shawn Alex Thompson, with whom she will split directing duties on Season 2, I've known even longer.)

Right around the time we'll all get to see The Weight, local production will start on Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, Jason Sherman's eight-part adaptation of Vincent Lam's Giller Award-winning bestseller. That series will air in the fall of 2009.

The other Astral initiative, Sanctuary, is a 13-episode sci-fi series now in production from many of the makers of the Stargate shows, including actor Amanda Tapping. It will be broadcast this fall, here on TMN and in the U.S. on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Like the Stargates, it is being made in Vancouver – not that you'd notice. The whole thing is apparently being shot against green screen, à la 300, which means they could just as well be shooting it in your parents' rec room (assuming they have a really big rec room).


Dustin Hoffman Is Graduating To New Roles

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell,
Movie Critic

(June 05, 2008) CANNES, France–Forty years ago this spring, young Dustin Hoffman had an Oscar nomination for playing Benjamin Braddock, the insecure scholar of The Graduate.

Four decades on, his role in the new animated comedy Kung Fu Panda (opening Friday) is the exact opposite of where he started. Hoffman is the experienced voice of Shifu, the disciplined martial arts teacher for Po, Jack Black's clumsy panda warrior.

Hoffman has really come a distance – there have now been seven Oscar noms and two wins – and he's created many indelible screen characters, from Braddock to Ratso Rizzo (Midnight Cowboy), to Dorothy Michaels (Tootsie), to Raymond Babbitt (Rain Man). Yet as far as he's concerned, it's like he's still struggling to prove himself.

"I swear I don't understand it when people say they've learned their craft, any craft," Hoffman said during the recent Cannes Film Festival.

"You can remain a student of writing or acting or painting or whatever, but you're always trying not just to get it right, but to bring out the deepest part of yourself."

Age has something to do with it, Hoffman contended.

"You're getting older. That means you're either evolving, or if not evolving, you're altered. You're changing. That alters what's coming out of you. Your life is different every day. Why shouldn't your work be different, and the challenges be the same?"

Easy for him to say, maybe. Hoffman is 70, but his relatively unlined face and trim physique suggest he could knock 20 years off that and no one would be the wiser.

He still keeps as busy as he did when he was the hot newcomer of 1968. Actually, he's even busier: Hoffman has three movies due out this year, compared to just one in '68.

Part of the reason for that is he's a lot less fussy now than he was back then, which he sees as a good thing. The Dustin Hoffman of 1968 probably would have said no to voicing a cartoon animal, even if Shifu is pretty special: a rare red panda. The Dustin Hoffman of 2008 is mellow enough to play a Zen furball.

Shifu is his first animated role.

"I had The Graduate and that put me in a place where suddenly I could say, `Who's the director? Is it a good script? Is it a good part? Do they have enough money to really give it the budget that it needs?'

"I would look for something to fill all that criteria. But now I'm just saying (to himself) ... `Are you going to have a creative experience?'"

When asked what animal he'd like to play if he had a choice, he feigned outrage: "Are you questioning my sexuality?"

But he agreed it's important for an actor to have a firm idea about what character he or she is playing.

"I think all actors are trying to use themselves and their imagination. And you create in your imagination a portrait, the best you can. That's the external, which the audience sees. Behind that it's yourself; you're coming through that, you're always filtering through that portrait....

"Shifu is myself, yes. He's intolerant, he's not patient, he's arrogant, he's authoritative, that sums me up to a T. It's all that stuff you have in you. He does have a (character) arc, which is nice. He has a certain amount of humility because he has an insight on where he was wrong. Isn't it something we all wish for ourselves, that we can reach the point where we can say, `I can face that I was wrong here'?"

Hoffman's struggle to remain current as an actor means staying on top of interesting offers that come his way, like the role of Shifu.

Filmmakers often assume that a star of Hoffman's stature wouldn't be interested in trying something new.

"Once you become a star they take it for granted that you don't want to do their film, and they don't even give it to you. You have to be very vigilant and make sure your agent didn't get in the way or other people on the way. Sometimes you see a film and you say, `Why didn't anyone ask me about this?' ... It's painful that you're not getting the stuff that you want to do."

Hoffman has done some directing in his career, but not much. He thinks he'd like to do more: "It's one of the demons that I'm working on."

Right now, though, acting is still the priority, and he's given the matter a lot of thought. There really is a bit of Shifu in him.

"I don't understand how people can play characters or do anything that is not coming from themselves. I don't think you can condescend to a character: `Well, that's the character, that's not me!' No, it came out of you. You don't make a judgment. You let the audience do that.

"You don't have to know everything when you're producing or directing or you're acting in terms of film. Just put out there what you know, what you feel. The audience is your co-writer. They will fill it in."

Jee-Yun Lee Movie Role Lets Reporter Tick One Item Off Wish List

Source:  www.thestar.com -
Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(June 8, 2008) When Jee-Yun Lee walks the red carpet at tonight's Hollywood premiere of The Incredible Hulk, she wonders if the paparazzi will mistake her for someone else.

That's no big problem for Lee, Citytv's consumer reporter and a part-time actor who landed a part in the blockbuster shot in Toronto earlier this year.

"Obviously, people are not going to know who I am. They're going to think I'm Sandra Oh or Lucy Liu," Lee says with a laugh. "So if somebody calls out, `Lucy, Lucy,' I'm going to turn around and pose. I don't care. I'm going to milk it."

Lee will also be promoting Canadian fashion, wearing a Lida Baday "party" dress as she makes her entrance into Universal Studio's Gibson Amphitheatre alongside Hollywood legends William Hurt, Liv Tyler and Edward Norton in the green-and-mean lead role.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance and ... even if I don't ever walk down another red carpet or I'm not part of another blockbuster film, this will be one of those wonderful memories," Lee says. "I have a wish list of all the different things I want to do in my life and one was to be part of a blockbuster film. It didn't matter if I was in it for five seconds."

News of a fire at Universal Studios last week sent Lee into a panic until she learned the premiere would go on as planned.

"You can imagine Sunday, I'm watching the news and I know it's Universal Studios and I'm going, `Noooo, please, please,'" she says.

The irony of her casting in the Hulk is not lost on Lee: she plays a television reporter.

"It's not much of a stretch. So I didn't have to search within my inner soul to discover another me," she says archly. However, acting in a blockbuster was distinctly different from other roles she has had, Lee says. "When I got other roles ... I would get the entire script. For the Hulk, they just sent me my one page and I had to sign a waiver saying I would not discuss my lines with anybody and that I had to return the script once I was done filming my scene. Right there and then, I knew I was part of something really big," Lee says.

"My husband would even ask me, `What are your lines? What are you saying?' and I wouldn't tell him anything because I didn't want to mess up my one and only opportunity to be a part of this," she says.

Lee's one-day shoot meant arriving at Scarborough's Morningside Park at 6 a.m. to be shuttled to the set. "It was like a war zone," she recalls, full of tanks, scores of extras dressed as soldiers and lots of smoke and noise.

Lee says she will get an extra kick out of relatives in Korea seeing her on the big screen, but if they miss this one, they'll have another chance: Lee also has a role in Repossession Mambo, starring Jude Law and Forest Whittaker, to be released next year. She portrays – wait for it – a TV anchor.


Bernie Mac Roars Into 'Madagascar 2'

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(June 6, 2008) *Bernie Mac will play the head lion in charge in the upcoming sequel to "Madagascar," joining returning voices Chris Rock as Marty the zebra, David Schwimmer as Melman the giraffe and Ben Stiller as Alex the lion. Mac will give life to the character Zuba, Alex's father and head of the pride. Additionally, comedian Sherri Shepherd ("The View") will play Alex's mom, while will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas is on board as Moto Moto, a watering hole lothario. In the new story, Alex, Marty, Melman and their fellow zoo refugees find themselves marooned in Madagascar. They make it to Africa, where they encounter species of their own kind for the first time.        Alec Baldwin has also come on board as Makunga, a challenger to Zuba.

Pele Documentary In The Works

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(June 6, 2008) *For the first time ever, Brazilian football legend Pele has given his blessing to producers of a television documentary that will offer an unprecedented look at his career. FremantleMedia, the television behemoth behind "American Idol" and "The X Factor," signed a deal with Pele's licensing agency, Prime Licensing, to tell his story on the small screen, according to the Hollywood Reporter.  Although his life has been detailed numerous times in written biographies, producers said this marks the first time he has granted anyone "such unparalleled access" to produce a TV documentary. The content ideas are in the early development stages, but the documentary will focus on a specific time in Pele's soccer career.

Bollywood's Night Of Stars

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -

(June 09, 2008) Bangkok — Chak De India, a sports film that plays with themes of religion and class, won top honours at the "Bollywood Oscars" late yesterday, snapping up the coveted best picture award. The movie tells the story of a Muslim captain of the Indian field hockey team who leaves the game after being wrongly accused of throwing a World Cup match against Pakistan. After disappearing for seven years, he returns to coach the Indian women's team, leading them to a World Cup victory of their own. The script won screenwriter Jaideep Sahni an award for best story, while Shimit Amin took best director and star Shahrukh Khan best actor. Kareena Kapoor scooped the best actress honour for Jab We Met. Irrfan Khan and Konkona Sen Sharma won for supporting roles in Life in a... Metro, a series of intersecting stories that all take place in the Mumbai Metro.

F. Gary Gray Behind 2nd Gaye Biopic

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(June 09, 2008) *Two Marvin Gaye biopics are now on Hollywood's front burner.  F. Gary Gray will direct "Marvin" for co-producer David Foster, while "Law & Order" veteran Jesse L. Martin toplines the previously-announced "Sexual Healing" for producer James Gandolfini. "Marvin" will be written by "Blood Diamond" scribe C. Gaby Mitchell and focus on Gaye's entire life, from his emergence at Motown through his defiance of Motown head Berry Gordy to record "What's Goin' On" and on up to his death.   "This is my passion project, the one that I wake up every day thinking about," Gray told Daily Variety. "I'm going to tell a truthful story, and there is no shortage of drama and extreme conflict in a relationship with his father that at its core is Shakespearean and tragic. "This isn't the average biopic of a rock star wrestling with drugs and women, but a man whose musical awakening became a call to action that questioned critical issues like a costly foreign war, recession, environment, inequality -- issues that are relevant now." Foster and co-producer Duncan McGillivray will this week shop to studios and financiers a package that includes the complete music rights to Gaye's catalogue. The plan is for the film's lead actor to lip synch Gaye's recordings.  "My mantra was, no music, no movie," said McGillivray, who secured the music rights. "But to me, the core story is a man who spent his whole life trying to justify and prove himself to a father who beat him down physically and later mentally. His father was a cross-dressing, alcoholic Baptist minister who was let off the hook for shooting his son."  Meanwhile, the Jesse L. Martin-led "Sexual Healing" will focus on the singer's declining years, because the filmmakers have rights to use songs only from his post-Motown career. That film, reportedly scheduled to start last month in Europe, has not begun production.

Egoyan Outlines New Film

www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(June 11, 2008) Toronto — Atom Egoyan's next film, titled Seven Wonders, will depict a love triangle that merges themes of technology and fantasy, the Toronto director has told The Hollywood Reporter. The story is about a woman named Pandora who becomes obsessed with a relationship between another woman, who directs commercials, and her boyfriend. The two women meet online, producing various ambiguities between what's actually happening and what's happening only in Pandora's imagination. There is little word yet on casting or a completion date. Egoyan's most recent film, Adoration, screened in competition at last month's Cannes Film Festival.


Fox Takes Little Mosque

Source:  www.globeandmail.com

(June 10, 2008) Toronto — Little Mosque on the Prairie is about to move up to the broadcasting big league south of the border.

WestWind Pictures, the producers of the CBC Television hit comedy, has signed a deal with Twentieth Century-Fox Television to create an American version of the series. Created by Zarqa Narwaz, Little Mosque follows the lives of a small Muslim community in the fictional Canadian prairie town of Mercy. The intent behind the new deal is to remount the series in a U.S. setting.

"This is an agreement to move forward and create a script and a pilot episode," says Little Mosque executive producer Mary Darling, who also serves as CEO of WestWind Pictures. "The new version will keep the spirit of the original series. At its heart, it's really a very sweet show."

Since launching in 2007, the CBC edition of Little Mosque has been sold to several international markets, including France, Israel, Turkey and Nordic countries. The American series is most likely to surface on U.S. television sometime next year, with the original title intact.

"There are plenty of prairies in the U.S.," says Darling. "I don't think they'll play with the title."


Canadian Shows Scoop Awards At Banff Festival

www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(June 11, 2008) Toronto — Say it loud and proud, Canada: Our track record of unique TV programming still ranks among the best in the world.  A diverse group of Canadian programs were among the grand-prize-winners named at the 29th Annual Banff World Television Awards. Held on Monday in Banff, Alta., the annual TV gathering recognizes outstanding achievement in television and, as in years past, Canadian shows played a strong presence at the proceedings. In the category of Children's Programs, the Banff award was presented to the special How the Gimquat Found Her Song, which ran last season on TVO.  In technical categories, the first-place position in the field of interactive program enhancements went to the Canadian animated series Odd Job Jack, which has aired on the Comedy Network since 2003.  Elsewhere, the Banff TV award for Best Canadian Program was split between two offbeat entries: the documentary Ghosts of the Yangtze (Up the Yangtze) - a Canadian co-production with Chinese and U.S. television - and The Real Superhumans and the Quest for the Future Fantastic, which aired last season on the Discovery Channel.


Actress Vanessa Williams Sparks An Open Dialogue With Her Provocative Play

Source:  www.essence.com - By Wendy L. Wilson

Vanessa Williams has sex on the brain these days. It’s a far cry from the matronly and doting housewife she portrayed on the defunct series Soul Food or the drug-dealing, ride-or-die female apprentice in the gritty cult classic New Jack City. Nowadays, Williams letting it all hang out in her one-woman show Feet On The Ceiling, a coming-of-age tale of a young woman’s sexual revelations based on her self-published book of poetry and prose Shine. Although the show closes its curtains at The Elephant Theater in Hollywood, Williams is already thinking about taking her sex education on the road. Essence.com caught up with the busy wife and mother of two to talk about her history with Eddie Murphy, why she’s sexually liberated and sharing her name with that other infamous actress.

Essence.com: How did the idea for Feet On The Ceiling come about?

Vanessa Williams:
I took a writing course when I was acting on Soul Food. At the end of the class, I compiled all of my stories and poetry and self-published my book, Shine. I ended up with these wonderful stories that sounded like conversations. In my mind, they were really monologues and I thought, Well I can perform this stuff. So out of those writings came Feet On The Ceiling. No one ever does movies about young women, especially young Black women, experiencing a sexual awakening. That’s the story that I’m interested in. It just became its own theme and took off.

Essence.com: Where you at all intimidated by putting a piece about sexuality out there?

Absolutely not! I’ve been well groomed because I’ve done the Vagina Monologues five years in a row. The vagina is one of the most divine and holy places on the planet. There is nothing unholy about it. Plus, I always felt like I had my own story to tell. I’m a bit of an exhibitionist and I like art that disturbs people. I’m driven to issues that get people talking and push the envelope, particularly in regards to women’s sexuality, which is a huge part of who we are as women.

Essence.com: Lets take a trip down memory lane. How did you end up on The Cosby Show as Theo’s girlfriend?

That was my first big job. Mr. Cosby was so generous. At the time, I didn’t even realize I would have a desire to work behind the camera one day but I remember he told us we could come back any time and watch them put the show together. Had I known what film school cost, I would have taken him up on that.

Essence.com: Growing up in Brooklyn’s neighbourhood Bedford-Stuyvesant has to be a world apart from La La Land. How has your upbringing influenced you?

I always give props to Brooklyn! The place where you grew up really nurtures you and is truly the beginning of your world. It was a great place to grow up and has left me with many full, rich, yummy memories.

Essence.com: What made you move out to Hollywood?

Well, if you want to get to the Academy, you have to get to L.A. I was having such a great time in New York but every year my friends would go to L.A. for pilot season. Since I had already done Broadway twice and starred in New Jack City, I decided to see what I could do in Hollywood. They loved me right away and within a month I booked a movie called Candyman and then Melrose Place.

Essence.com: What was it like to be the first Black woman on Melrose?

It’s wonderful but I don’t put a whole lot of stock into that. I’m so proud and happy to have been the first, especially if it eventually helped someone else. But it doesn’t take a lot of my thought time.

Essence.com: Soul Food meant so much to the Black community. How did its end affect you?

Well it never ended in terms of that love and family that we created. Nicole Ari [Parker] and I are bridesmaids in Malinda’s [Williams] upcoming wedding. Many of us flew out to Germany when Boris [Kodjoe] and Nicole got married. But in terms of the show, we were so proud of what it meant to the community. Once we shot that first episode, we knew how important it was to people. I remember one of my prayers was that I wanted to act in something really meaningful and being a part of Soul Food was really a prayer answered.

Essence.com: You were one of the actresses featured in Terri Vaughn’s documentary, Angels Can't Help But Laugh, which talked about the plight of Black actresses in Hollywood. Do you think it’s still difficult for Black actresses in Hollywood?

For sure, they’re not checking for us like they are for the 25-year-old blonde girl but at the same time, we have it so much better than Black actresses back in the day. Yes, of course there is so much work to do but all of the sisters in the documentary have had marvellous careers.

Essence.com: Who are some of your close girlfriends in the business?

Of course, Nicole Ari Parker and Malinda Williams,Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell Martin, Tasha Smith, Sallie Richardson, Regina King, Regina Hall—we’re all friends.

Essence.com: Back in the day there was a lot of talk about the confusion between you and actress and former Miss America Vanessa L. Williams fighting for the rights to your name. Are you two friends?

I’ve never met her. We’ve been at the same functions and have some mutual friends but that’s about it. It definitely became an issue for me more so because of her infamy but it’s not problematic in that it stops me from getting work. I roll with it because it’s not an issue as much as it is an interesting piece of conversation.

Essence.com: Recently you teamed up with Eddie Murphy to film Nowhere Land which is due summer of 2009. How was it rubbing elbows with the funny man?

Honestly, it has been a dream of mine to work with Eddie since I met him years ago at this nightclub in Queens, New York. At the time he was working on Saturday Night Live My girlfriends and I were such big fans and found out that he was going to be at this club. We weren’t trying to be groupies because I knew that one day I would be working with this man. I didn’t want him to have some flashback of me as some stalker chick. I told him that story and reminded him of the club. It was so cool working with him.

Essence.com: So you and your BFF reunite on the big screen in this film. What is your role?

Yes! It was like an old family reunion. Nicole plays Eddie Murphy’s ex wife and I play their friend and D. Ray Davis plays my husband. Nicole and I get to hang out and be in scenes together. It was really like a lovely nod to living your dreams and getting to see something that you wish to come true in terms of working with Eddie. The movie is going to be amazing and darling. Its classic Eddie where he is a workaholic dad who has to decide to do the right thing by his daughter or make this huge deal at work. She has this magic blanket that takes them to this new, magical place called Nowhere Land, where she can get information that helps her dad.

Essence.com: Sounds like a great film for a family outing. Eddie’s character struggles with balancing his personal and career life. How do you juggle family and work?

The movie is going to be amazing and darling. It’s classic Eddie. I have a very hard working village including my husband and friends who are moms and help me. We all had babies around the same time and we support each other by sharing information.

Essence.com: You’ve done theatre, television, film, and published your own book. What’s next for you?

I’m planning to make a CD. I’ve been working with a couple of producers and I hope it’s available next year. I’ve been singing all my life and this is just another expression of that kind of storytelling. I’m still also expecting to thank the Academy one day. I still have plenty of goals on my dream list.


Canadian Stage, Soulpepper Lead Theatre Pack

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner

(June 6, 2008) Fire, Canadian Stage Company's musical about rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, and Top Girls, Soulpepper Theatre's production of the Caryl Churchill play, each grabbed seven nominations yesterday at a press conference to announce the 2007-08 Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Canadian Stage led all other companies in the general theatre category, with 21 nominations in total. In the independent theatre division, Video Cabaret's Laurier topped the list with six, while Opera Atelier's Idomeneo was the front-runner in the opera division with four nominations. DanceWorks dominated the dance division with nine. The Doras will be given out at a gala ceremony on June 30, hosted by performer Sharron Matthews. Three citations were presented yesterday - the Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award, to actress Fiona Reid, saluting excellence and advocacy in the performing arts; the George Luscombe Award, which honours mentorship, to Canadian Stage consulting dramaturge Iris Turcott; and the inaugural edition of the new Leonard McHardy and John Harvey award for administration, to Buddies in Bad Times Theatre's artistic producer, Jim LeFrancois. Among the other highlights were two nominations for Ted Dysktra (for acting in Fire and directing Little Shop of Horrors; five nominations for the recently established Harold Green Jewish Theatre for its inaugural production of Rose; two best-performance nominations by a female principal to Megan Follows (for Top Girls and Three Sisters); seven nominations for the Mirvish Productions' Dirty Dancing, The Classic Musical on Stage; and Canstage's production of The Palace of the End garnered three nods: for outstanding new play (Judith Thompson); outstanding performance by a female principal (Arsinée Khanjian) and outstanding performance by a male principal (Julian Richings). In total, 219 shows were eligible, 47 of which were new plays or musicals.


Dance Artist Unleashes Magic Salute To Mozart

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Paula Citron

(June 09, 2008) There are few modern dance choreographers that genuinely have a worldwide reputation, but American icon Mark Morris is one. His splendid Mark Morris Dance Group is presenting three different programs at the Luminato Festival, and the opening concert had the crowd cheering even before the final curtain.

Mozart Dances (2006) is a deceptively simple name. The three works called Eleven, Double and Twenty-Seven take their titles from the actual Mozart pieces that are their musical backdrop, Piano Concerti Nos. 11 and 27, and Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos.

When viewed collectively, the three Mozart Dances are an abstract physical rendering of the music. In this aspect, Morris shows his Balanchine side by giving a human form to music. There is even an homage to the latter's Serenade in the sideways fall to the floor that the dancers perform.

The 16-member ensemble can be seen as the notes themselves, or even as the piano keys and various orchestral instruments. The choreographic patterning, exits and entrances, and various combinations of dancers from solo to group, capture the ebb and flow of Mozart's musical genius.

Morris inventively portrays the intricate relationship between the solo piano and the orchestra in the case of the concerti, and the symbiosis between the two pianos themselves in the sonata. His dancers are propelled by the rhythm of the music, and the choreography is exactly on beat. The movement overall contains hints of formal 18th-century social dances in its grace and elegance.

While Morris has always been regarded as one of the great choreographic interpreters of music, he is much more than mere craftsman of physical translation. His work is sly and subterranean. A truly great dance artist presents choreographic depth, and a hallmark of Morris's genius is the flood of images his dances unleash in the mind of the viewer.

In deconstructing the three pieces, Eleven is the world of women, Double the world of men, and Twenty-Seven their coming together. In fact, the latter is brilliantly made up of new choreographic material in the partnering that is layered over physical echoes culled from the previous two dances. In the final Twenty-Seven, the men and women appear in equal measure, but individuality is also a key as each dancer is given his or her brief solo on stage.

Eleven begins with the men performing big, swooping movements that dominate the stage. They then disappear completely from the work leaving the women, led by soloist Lauren Grant who is both den mother and provocateur, to inhabit their own world.

The men, however, are never far away, at least metaphysically. In their absence, there is joy, nurture and sisterhood depicted in movement that lightly skips and hops, but there is also pain. Bodies contort, and gestures depict a retreat within, both a reaction to unseen physical and emotional abuse. In some way, Morris has conjured up the 18th-century limitations of a patriarchal society.

In Double, the women do make a brief appearance, but it is formal, restrained and aloof. The bulk of the choreography is given over to soloist Joe Bowie in his frock coat at the head of his followers, most specifically a young-looking Noah Vinson.

On one level, Bowie could be Mozart himself, corralling the physicality of the piano keys to do his bidding. The choreography in this piece is martial and arrogant in its vigour, although Morris has given the slow Andante section beautiful circle dances that show homoerotic sensitivity, which, however, is quickly dissipated by the bombast of the Allegro molto that follows.

The abstract, brushstroke-like paintings of visual artist Howard Hodgkin that form the backdrops depict, for me, inner reflection. Martin Pakledinaz's costumes cleverly evoke the 18th century without being period-restrictive.

Kudos to conductor Jane Glover and the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, and piano soloists Ursula Oppens and Amy Dissanayake. Having artists of this stature in the pit is a gift of the gods.

Mark Morris Dance Group continues at the MacMillan Theatre June 10-15 with two new programs.

Disco Lessons At Yonge-Dundas Square

Source: www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara,
Entertainment Reporter

(June 10, 2008) Grab your platform shoes and get ready to get down and boogie. Luminato continues its highly successful series of dance lessons at Yonge-Dundas Square tonight with disco dance lessons starting at 7 p.m.

Purple wigs – hey, it’s disco – may be distributed, said Luminato spokesperson Bill Bobek.

“We’ve done a series of dance lessons at Yonge-Dundas Square, which seems to have really taken off with the public,” Bobek said. “Tonight is disco night.”

To try out what you’ve learned or re-learned, Disco Inferno will follow until 10:45 p.m.

Bobek said the dance lessons have been popular among Luminato visitors, starting off with swing lessons to the strains of the Count Basie Orchestra last Friday night, followed by Latin lessons and music on Sunday and tango lessons last night.

Tomorrow night features dance lessons Bollywood style, at 7 p.m., followed by a Bollywood performance (which you can dance along to) from 8 to 10:45 p.m.

Because of the popularity of the dance lessons, they may return to next year’s third addition of the Toronto Festival of Arts + Creativity.

“It’s been very successful and, who knows, it may be back (next year) as a regular,” Bobek said. “You’d think, is that something that somebody would want to do in public, but obviously they do. May be it’s the fact that they can look around and see that everybody else is in the same state they are.

“It’s a fun thing to do and it’s good community outreach.”


 When Poor Artists And Punk Rock Really Ruled

Source:  www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(June 06, 2008)
The Bamboo. Punk and reggae. Booze cans. Artists in run-down warehouses. And the OCA long before they added the "D."

Martin Robertson lived through it and remembers it well.

As event organizer for Luminato's Queen Street Celebration, it's Robertson's job to evoke that time when the 1970s gave way to the 1980s and the street became Toronto's coolest byway.

The celebration features a free open-air street dance along McCaul, north of Queen St., outside the Ontario College of Art and Design, featuring performances by the Parachute Club, the B-Girls, Johnny and the G-Rays, Mary Margaret O'Hara, dub poet Lillian Allen and former Nylons member Micah Barnes.

"For a lot of people ... each one would have their own version of Queen St., the Queen St. they went to during those heady (times) when music was in every club," Robertson said.

"The whole idea of the day was to encapsulate ... a decade and a mile into one afternoon and evening, an almost impossible task. Having been there, it was easy for me to sort of develop a flow," he added.

Lorraine Segato of the Parachute Club remembers it, too: artists moving into cheap warehouse loft space vacated by the departing garment trade, the influx of new Canadians, midnight art shows and, following the infamous 1981 Bathhouse Raids, the arrival of queer culture.

(The group's international hit "Rise Up" became an unofficial anthem for the gay liberation movement.)

"I have a million memories of that time because I lived on the street so much of that time," Segato said.

"The thing I remember the most is it really felt like a time where there was a confluence of energies. You had the political landscape changing in the city along with a lot of immigrants coming in," Segato said.

Robertson, who first came to Toronto in 1967 from London, England, when the "Summer of Love" and Rochdale made Yorkville the hip place to be, came back to the city many times over the ensuing decade before settling here permanently in 1980.

"I decided to live on Queen St. It was a simple choice because I'd been watching Queen St grow as a funky neighbourhood a bit like where I'd lived in London, which was Notting Hill Gate," Robertson said.

After working with music icons like Elvis Costello, David Bowie and Brian Ferry in London, New York and Los Angeles, Robertson was drawn to the Queen St. scene and clubs like the Horseshoe Tavern, the Bamboo, the Cameron House and the Beverley that featured a blend of reggae, punk, rock 'n' roll and jazz/blues.

But Robertson said it may not have happened if not for the Ontario College of Art (it added Design in 1996), which in the 1970s began to welcome experimental and performance art, unleashing an influx into the community that influenced music, art and culture.

The college will play host to groundbreaking documentaries including Segato's Rebel Zone; Deanne Taylor's Art Vs. Art, chronicling the campaign by artists to unseat former Toronto mayor Art Eggleton, and memorabilia culled from attics and basements, including photos, playbills and poster art.

"Very little of everything got saved, but we have bits, and all together it makes for a pretty impressive display and a very interesting story," Robertson said.

"You just come to 100 McCaul and you can pick and choose. It's like stepping back in time. That was the idea: to enjoy the music and hang out and look at stuff and reminisce and meet people."

Salman Rushdie Surmounting The Satanic Hearsay

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Simon Houpt

(June 09, 2008) NEW YORK — Salman Rushdie is in some measure of distress. It came up out of nowhere; we'd been making small talk in a conference room at the midtown offices of his agent, Andrew Wylie, chatting about the U.S. election and the immeasurable brutality of the late Middle Ages, the setting of his new novel The Enchantress of Florence, when he suddenly began sneezing. Maybe he's allergic to the agency, he ventures. But even as his eyes start tearing up and his breathing becomes laboured, he pledges to keep going; once Rushdie begins something, he finishes it.

And so it was with Enchantress. For even as his three-year-old marriage to the model and TV host Padma Lakshmi stuttered to a dismal end last summer, Rushdie chained himself to the desk to finish the novel. Perhaps there was little choice: Writing is what he does. The fact that Enchantress is a historical romance, peppered with humour, which spans from early 16th-century Florence to India 50 years later may even have been a blessing.

"Well it's kind of saved my life, really," he explains. "Certainly, last year it was a better place to be than the world outside the book. Yeah, it's kind of strange that it's a book about love and so on. It reminds me of the way in which Haroun and the Sea of Stories turned out to be such an optimistic book even though it was written at the darkest moment in my life." (That would have been in the months after Ayatollah Khomeini's declaration of the fatwa in February, 1989.) "So maybe there's something in the human imagination that wants to compensate, that wants to go against the grain of what's happening."

Like Haroun, Enchantress is consumed with notions of storytelling. Characters find the will to keep going and even save their lives by telling stories, they seduce and gain power and establish identities for themselves (both true and false) by spinning tales; one man even creates a woman in his mind who, made corporeal, becomes his lover and wife. The book itself is constructed as a series of stories within stories, narratives nesting like Russian dolls.

"This is a book in which people are endlessly telling and retelling and perfecting, changing, arguing about, etc., the story. If I was a literary professor, I would talk about meta-fiction. But let's not do that," Rushdie says, with a chuckle that is slightly stifled by the allergy.

He is wearing a suit and, somewhat oddly, a pair of fashionable brown sneakers: a gift from his eldest son, Zafar, who bought them as a birthday present because, "he thought I had no cool clothes." In person, over the course of 90 minutes, Rushdie is gracious and modest and self-aware, clearly still eager to share his extensive knowledge of the historical background of the book, which he had finished only a few months before.

Enchantress, from which Rushdie will read this evening at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall, begins with the arrival of a fair-haired Western stranger in the court of Akbar the Great, the Grand Mughal who ruled from 1556 to 1605. Over the course of many nights, the Florentine adventurer unfolds an improbable tale asserting that he is the Emperor's uncle: that his mother was a lost princess and the youngest sister of Akbar's grandfather, the first Grand Mughal Babur (a.k.a. Babar).

Stretching from East to West and back again (like Rushdie's own life story), Enchantress takes in an encyclopedia's worth of history: Vlad the Impaler, Machiavelli and Amerigo Vespucci all make appearances. The research for the book - a six-page bibliography is appended - took about seven years, stretching through the period in which Rushdie wrote Fury (2001) and Shalimar the Clown (2005). But its seed was planted more than 50 years ago when the history of the six Grand Mughals was drilled into him, as it is into every Indian schoolchild. The real-life Akbar was a fascinating, complex man, an undefeated warrior who viciously dispatched enemies yet was also a sensualist, inventor and philosopher who built a so-called house of dispute where religious debates were held. (In a Monty Pythonesque touch noted in Enchantress, Akbar imported a pair of Jesuit priests from Portugal who argued for show on a daily basis for 12 years.)

While Rushdie insists the novel isn't political - except insofar as it is about public life, and it mulls the tussle between republicanism and despotism in Renaissance Italy - it is hard to ignore his admiration for Akbar, a Muslim who was the very model of religious tolerance.

If this were the creation of any other writer, it could be read as a mere story; in Rushdie's case, in today's world where the dialogue is often dominated by extremists, it is a plea for tolerance.

There is another aspect to Enchantress that carries a parallel to Rushdie's own tortured history as a man more widely known than read. Rushdie, of course, is resentful of being judged harshly by millions who never picked up a copy of The Satanic Verses (except, perhaps, to burn it); with now four failed marriages in his path, he has also complained of having his personal behaviour misrepresented in the gossip pages. So it may not be as much of a surprise as it would otherwise be that one of his stated goals for writing Enchantress is to rehabilitate the reputation of Niccolo Machiavelli, who he feels was the victim of bad press.

Rushdie argues that the first book about Machiavelli to be translated into English was a French work called The Anti-Machiavelli, "which attacked and distorted and defamed him, and that's what all the Elizabethan playwrights read, so he then became for them, through this French work, a kind of metaphor for evil, cynicism, etc. And it was maybe 100 years later before anything by Machiavelli was actually translated into English.

"Meanwhile, in his own lifetime he was the most popular comic playwright of the Italian Renaissance," Rushdie continues. "As I've tried to depict him, he was a genuine bon vivant."

As is Rushdie. He is often spotted out on the town (albeit in the refined circumstances expected of a 60-year-old novelist and not, say, table dancing with the Olsen twins). This may be what continues to fuel his reputation in the quarters of some religious extremists as a snooty secularist. Last January, when he travelled to India to research an article about HIV/AIDS in the transgender community of Mumbai (Rushdie still calls his hometown Bombay), a small group picketed the home of a powerful industrialist friend he was visiting. News reports said Rushdie cut his trip short because of the protest.

He begins twitching at the mention of the story, which he says was almost entirely false. "See, this is the moment in which you want to kill journalists," he seethes, before appearing to realize (being a member of the literary human rights group PEN) how bad that sounds. "Not all journalists. The truth is, 12 people showed up. And in India, 12 people is less than zero. You know, you could get 2,000 for nothing!

"I often think: If the TV camera would just show us the long shot, you know? When you see the long shot, you see it's 12 assholes in a parking lot."

Yet there will almost certainly be more of the same. This October will mark the 20th anniversary of the English-language publication of The Satanic Verses, and he is already bracing for the attention and trying to keep his head down. "All I can do is go on writing books and that particular episode will continue to fade into the past," he says. "What can I do but proceed?"

Writing is, after all, a pleasure for him. "A lot of your day, you kind of go somewhere else, and you become somebody slightly different," he says. "I feel, quite straightforwardly, the existence of a second self, a self that writes the books. Clearly it's a self related to me, but I feel like it's a better self. I sometimes think that when you work - in the act of writing, and at no other time - you have access to that better self, that can see better and hear better and think better and, you know, do better."

In the end, writing may not be enough, but it's all he's got.

Salman Rushdie reads at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto at 7 p.m.

Bathed In Warmth, Song And Light

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
James Bradshaw

(June 09, 2008) My whirlwind Saturday at Luminato began frozen still and ended in a sea of movement as I joined the hoards braving blazing summer heat at events across downtown.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Fashion magazine held a flash mob in Yonge-Dundas Square, a five-minute frozen tableau of some 50 models and volunteers decked in their whitest whites to strike a pose. Though it failed to provoke the widespread confusion, awe and amusement it sought among passersby, it was a striking sight under the large white balloons swaying overhead.

More than 12 hours later, a sizable crowd assembled in the same square and donned earphones for a silent dance party, grooving to a synchronized iPod playlist in eerie quiet. But the day belonged to the conspicuously sweaty musical sets of a pair of celebrations.

The Ontario College of Art and Design held a retrospective on Queen Street's artistic golden era of cheap eating, easy living and culture-defining music with an afternoon of bands and films. The rectangular box atop OCAD largely blocked the sun, providing a breezy oasis for a group that remained appreciative- despite some long-time followers of headliners Mary Margaret O'Hara and the
Parachute Club whispering to me that the revivals fell short of their original magic.

A short stroll away, Nathan Phillips Square staged the On the One Funk Festival, which stole the spotlight with an afternoon of music and dance competitions followed by legendary funk acts
James Brown's Soul Generals and Morris Day and the Time.

The day's big surprise was an unannounced set by Brian Culbertson and the Funk Experience. The band's saxophonist, Marqueal Jordan, told me they had to sneak quietly onto the festival roster to escape the wrath of organizers of a Barry Manilow concert they were set to open later that evening.

Local beat box specialist
Subliminal offered the day's most creative performance, recording the crowd's chants with audience microphones to create a live beat, drumming on his bassist's guitar fret and enlisting a barbershop quartet to open his act.

Then came the Soul Generals, led by James Brown's son Daryl, who had large segments of the capacity crowd dancing ecstatically, interrupted only by Mr. Brown demanding that technicians eliminate some faint microphone feedback, saying his father would not have tolerated such glitches.

And finally Morris Day appeared clad in a white suit and silver fur cloak, his trademark vanity on display as he primped regularly in onstage mirrors. After more than an hour of his band's bouncing melodies, there was hardly a pair of hips not swaying among thousands.

Toweling down in his trailer, Mr. Brown told me of the difficult time he had dealing with his father's death, and his desire to help heal a music industry "in bad shape." He was quick to lavish praise on Toronto's cultural scene.

"I tell you man, Toronto has always been dear to me. Toronto has so much things going on, man, as far as the arts. They have more than any state in the United States."

Asked about his plans for the night, he chuckled and said, "Just in case my wife sees this, I'm going to bed, honey." But bedtime was as distant as dawn, and we shuffled off to a private after-party at Revival Bar. By 2:30 a.m., it had become an informal jam session, the Soul Generals commandeering a much smaller stage and setting a lucky group of about 100 swaying once more.

Follow James Bradshaw's daily diary exploring Luminato's sights, sounds and personalities.


Ken Alexander Resigns As Editor Of Walrus

Source: www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

(June 10, 2008) Ken Alexander, one the founders of The Walrus magazine, has resigned as editor of five-year-old general-interest publication, it was announced Tuesday. Alexander, who has served as editor since 2004, said he was leaving to pursue other interests and spend more time with his family, according to a news release. At the recent National Magazine Awards the magazine led with six golds and four silvers in a variety of categories. "The mandate of the Walrus Foundation is to extend public discourse on matters vital to Canadians," said Shelley Ambrose, executive director of the non-profit foundation and publisher of The Walrus. "As editor, Ken succeeded in doing exactly that – and more. He will be an extremely hard act to follow." A search committee of board members and the publisher has been struck to seek a new editor. Alexander will stay on until July 4 to put out the September issue.


Detroit Wins Stanley Cup

Source: www.thestar.com - Paul Hunter,
Sports Reporter

(June 05, 2008) PITTSBURGH–When Detroit defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom, his smile almost as polished as the trophy he was about to receive, took the Stanley Cup from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, it was a historic first.

No European had ever captained an NHL team to a title.

But this terrific final, capping an excellent post-season for the league, wasn't so much about history as it was about inevitability.

Detroit was just too skilled, too complete, too determined and too good for the admirable but overmatched Penguins. And with a record seven Swedes in the starting line-up, the Wings also further broke down any notion that hockey leadership is determined by one's passport.

"It's something I'm very proud of," the Swedish veteran Lidstrom said of his shining moment. "I've been over here for a long time. And I watched Steve Yzerman hoist it three times in the past and I'm very proud of being the first European."

Not content to demonstrate his class and leadership playing the game, Lidstrom also showed it once he had the Cup in his hands.

When he began the traditional passing of the trophy – each player getting his moment to hold it aloft – it didn't go to another star such as Conn Smythe Trophy winner Henrik Zetterberg, another Swede. It was handed to Dallas Drake, a reclaimed Wing often forgotten in any glowing praise about the team.

Lidstrom said he started thinking about who would get the handoff way back in the first round.

"I didn't tell anyone about it. But I started thinking about if we were to go the whole way, who should be the guy I gave it to first," he said.

"Dallas had been in the league for 16 years and he had never been to the final before. So it felt natural to me to give it to him for all the effort and hours and everything he's put into the game and not having a chance to hoist a Cup yet."

It was touching but it was also symbolic. This Wings team wasn't just about flash; as significant to their success was the relentless work of Drake, Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper.

It was needed because Pittsburgh didn't go down without a fight. Trailing 2-1 and then 3-1 in the third period last night, the Penguins continued to come back hard, getting a late Marian Hossa goal and refusing to give up on a miracle finish to their dream season. Even with the final tenths of a second ticking down, a Sidney Crosby shot that would have tied the game just trickled wide.

The 3-2 final score was appropriate; the Pens always keeping it close but never able to break down the inescapable fact that the Wings were the better squad.

The skill and defence of Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, the hard hitting of Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart and the surprisingly good-when-needed goaltending of Chris Osgood proved too much the young Penguins.

For the Wings, it was their fourth Cup in the last 11 seasons.

Osgood is a remarkable story. He wasn't Detroit's starting goaltender to start the post-season, but when the legendary Dominik Hasek faltered four starts in, the Wings turned to their 35-year-old backup. He didn't let them down.

"When you pull your goalie in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, that usually means you're going fishing in about three days and not (getting) 14 more wins or whatever we needed to get it done. You gotta give him a lot of credit," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.

"I have a bigger heart than people think," Osgood said of his second Cup win. "I'm mentally strong."

The Penguins will be back. They need to sign key players such as unrestricted free agents Marian Hossa, Brooks Orpik and Ryan Malone and restricted free agent Marc-Andre Fleury, but the core of this team is extremely young.

Crosby, only 20, couldn't have legally sipped champagne from the Cup in Pennsylvania if the Penguins had won. Evgeni Malkin is 21, Fleury is 23. The solid foundation is there for a long stretch of success, remarkable when you consider this team is only shortly removed from bankruptcy and two years removed from finishing 29th out of 30 teams.

"There's not much to say . . . it hurts," said an emotional Michel Therrien, the Pittsburgh coach. "You could feel the pain from everyone. I'm very proud of that group, what they accomplished this year."

Ivanovic Wins First French Open Title

www.thestar.com - Steven Wine, The Associated Press

(June 07, 2008)
PARIS–This time Ana Ivanovic was ready for the French Open final.

Showing no sign of the nerves that afflicted her a year ago, Ivanovic won her first Grand Slam title Saturday by beating Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-3.

By reaching the final, Ivanovic had already assured herself of being ranked No. 1 for the first time next week. And her performance was No. 1-caliber against Safina.

The 20-year-old Serb slugged winners from both sides and scurried to make saves that extended points, which led to plenty of entertaining rallies. Ivanovic won most of them, including one frantic exchange that she finished off with a delicate drop shot and ferocious fist pump.

A shaky Ivanovic played in her first major final a year ago at Roland Garros and won only three games from Justine Henin. But against Safina she was as cool as the 65-degree weather, showing hardly a bead of perspiration even after sprinting corner to corner to retrieve shots.

Ivanovic won match point with a solid backhand. After blowing kisses to the crowd, she used a chair to climb into the stands and share hugs with family and friends.

Henin, a four-time French Open champion who retired last month while ranked No. 1, watched and applauded from the front row.

For the third consecutive year Sunday, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet in the men's final. The top-ranked Federer will again try for the only Grand Slam title to elude him, and Nadal will attempt to become the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1981 to win a fourth consecutive French Open title.

Ivanovic's worst moment came serving at 4-3 in the first set, when she squandered a 40-love lead by losing the next five points. She quickly regrouped and won five of the next six games to take command.

First-time Grand Slam finalist Safina fended off a match point in consecutive rounds this week, rallying each time after she lost the first set and trailed 5-2 in the second.

But the Russian ran out of comebacks. She needed 20 points to hold for 3-4 in the second set, and from 15-all in the next game, Ivanovic swept the last seven points.

The final was the third in the past five major tournaments for Ivanovic. She was runner-up at this year's Australian Open.

The No. 13-seeded Safina was trying to join her brother, two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin, in winning a major title. They're the first sister and brother to reach a Grand Slam final.

CBC Eyes National Contest To Select New Anthem

www.thestar.com - Curtis Rush, Staff Reporter

(June 06, 2008)
Hockey Night in Canada is telling the hockey nation to hold on: It has not put its famous theme song on ice. At least not yet.

But, after a frantic day, it appears the tune may fall off CBC's charts after all, opening up a daring venture to replace a song which has been played before each CBC hockey broadcast since 1968.

Scott Moore, head of CBC Sports, says the public broadcaster is prepared to dump the song over a lapsed licensing agreement and initiate a national contest in which Canadians will be invited to make submissions for a replacement.

"If we can't make a deal, we can't go much past where we are now because we have to come up with a new theme," Moore said. "That's why we're prepared for a new plan."

That new plan would involve working with Nettwerk Records in Vancouver, a major label that represents artists such as Avril Lavigne and The Barenaked Ladies.

"We would launch a national contest for a new theme," Moore said.

He said he envisions a situation where people would tune in to hear the finalists and vote on which one would get chosen for the next new "second national anthem."

The licensing agreement, which expired after the Detroit Red Wings' Stanley Cup victory on Wednesday, has evolved into a case of deadline ambiguity.

Moore did admit late yesterday afternoon "deadlines come and go."

He said he thought he was working on a 5 p.m. deadline as of today to get a new licensing deal done.

However, John Ciccone, the president of rights holder Copyright Music and Visuals in Toronto, told the Star earlier yesterday that a CBC-imposed noon deadline on Wednesday had expired. He said the message he received was the CBC was going in a new direction and dumping the song. And that set the nation in an uproar. Moore, however, says Ciccone jumped the gun.

"It was our understanding negotiations were ongoing," said Moore, who just arrived from Pittsburgh yesterday after the Red Wings had won the Stanley Cup.

Moore didn't dispute there was a CBC-imposed noon deadline Wednesday to get the deal done, but had said he would respond with a formal announcement later.

"I didn't get back to him because I was in Pittsburgh," Moore said.

When Moore didn't get back to him, Ciccone said he interpreted that as evidence the deal was dead.

However, now that the fight has gone public, Moore wonders if there is a deal to be had. Moore said business dealings with Ciccone have become even more strained and he is prepared to walk away if a deal isn't worked out by 5 p.m. today. The issue is not about the royalty fees paid to the rights holder and the composer of the song, Dolores Claman, Moore said.

Moore said sticking points are two-fold – a lawsuit hanging over the heads of the CBC and the fact that attempts to get a mediated settlement have failed.

"I love the theme," Moore said. "But we can't keep it if there's litigation hanging over our heads."

Ciccone represents Claman, a Vancouver-born graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School who composed the jingle in 1968.

In 2004, a group that includes Claman filed a lawsuit seeking $2.5 million in damages, charging the CBC with breach of copyright and breach of contract. Claman, Vine Maple Music and Copyright Music and Visuals claimed the CBC used the hockey theme without authorization both inside and outside Canada, sold it for use as a cell phone ring tone and altered the arrangement without approval.

In the statement of claim, the plaintiffs say they signed a new deal that spelled out how the music could be used when CBC took over production of hockey broadcasts from Molson Breweries in 1998.

Claman, who returned to Canada in 1998 for a 30th anniversary celebration of her creation, has long maintained she wasn't compensated adequately.

She also said she didn't receive royalties until the early 1990s after her accountant pointed out she was missing out on potential income. The royalties were not retroactive.

Ciccone said a resolution of the lawsuit is not a precondition of any new licence agreement.

"We've tried really hard to keep it separate," Ciccone said.

Moore disagrees.

"You can't keep it separate because you can't responsibly do business with someone who is suing you. We have been trying for over a year to settle this."

Meanwhile, hockey analysts were caught flat-footed by the uproar over the rights to the song.

"It's a wonderful song and it's got a beautiful home, there's no other home for the song," said TSN analyst Glenn Healy.

Long-time Hockey Night analyst Harry Neale said he was surprised to hear the song could be shelved.

But he thinks fans will get over it.

"It's not as if they (CBC) lost the rights to hockey and are now doing cricket. It will be a minor irritation," Neale said.

Ciccone says he offered the CBC a deal on terms similar to those that existed for the past decade. The cost to the CBC, he said, amounts to about $500 per broadcast.

Moore wouldn't discuss what CBC pays in royalties, saying it is not just about the money.

"It's about being able to work on good terms with each other."


"That introduction has set the stage for over 50 years of hockey. As a fan who grew up with that, it would be a different feel."
Nick Kypreos Sportsnet analyst

"CBC won't get away with that. The Canadian people won't let them get away with that."
Mary Quigley Cape Breton, N.S.

"The Hockey Night in Canada theme – you hear it everywhere. Even during the summer, you get to a barbecue in rural Alberta and somebody strikes it up after a good (version) of `O Canada.' And it's going to disappear and it's been with us for years and years."
Ed Stelmach Alberta Premier

"That song is so entrenched into Canadian society, it's almost as if it is public property. It would be disgusting if both sides can't come to an agreement to ensure that this theme continues for another 40 years or so. The CBC will really drop the ball if they can't reach an agreement."
Scott Macdonald Ottawa

"1968 was the first year our family started watching hockey after moving to Canada from Wales. I can't imagine not hearing this music on a Saturday night."
Heather Price Calgary

"They've got six months to work it out. It's not dead and done yet."
Glenn Healy TSN analyst

"I grew up in Montreal, and our next door (neighbour) had a CBC Hockey Night in Canada record. We, the kids, used to dance/`skate' around their basement to the theme song. I'm 36 now and I cherish those memories. Keep the memories alive for kids today, and keep the theme song."
Lisa Gibbons Milton

"I am not a hockey fan but (getting) rid of the Hockey Night in Canada theme song? What next, getting rid of the Canadian national anthem. This song is Canadian hockey. Shame on the CBC for even considering this."
Robin Hofland Toronto

Floyd Mayweather Jr. Retires From Boxing, Again

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(June 09, 2008) *Unbeaten welterweight Floyd Mayweather Jr. (39-0, 25 KOs) said Friday that he will again retire from boxing because no longer has the passion necessary to fight.

Mayweather, an Olympic bronze medalist who owns belts in five different weight classes, made the abrupt announcement in a letter to select media members Friday, reports the Associated Press.

"This decision was not an easy one for me to make, as boxing is all I have done since I was a child," said Mayweather, 31. "However, these past few years have been extremely difficult for me to find the desire and joy to continue in the sport."

The WBC welterweight champ's last fight was a victorious battle against Ricky Hatton last December. He was widely expected to take on Oscar De La Hoya in September in a rematch of the richest fight in boxing history.

"I loved competing and winning and also wanted to continue my career for the fans, knowing they were there for me and enjoyed watching me fight," Mayweather said. "However, after many sleepless nights and intense soul-searching, I realized I could no longer base my decision on anything but my own personal happiness, which I no longer could find."

Mayweather gave no indication of what he plans to do next, though it probably involves increasing his fame. He gained a broader measure of fans through two short-run reality shows on HBO leading up to his last two fights, detailing the wacky family dynamics of the Mayweather clan.

In the past year alone, he has appeared on "Dancing With the Stars," worked on his record label, served as the honorary starter at the Indianapolis 500 and entered the wrestling ring for a choreographed tussle with the 440-pound "Big Show" at WrestleMania in Orlando, winning that bout with a set of brass knuckles.

Ken Griffey Jr. Hits 600th Home Run

www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(June 11, 2008) *Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds took his place in history beside Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa as the 6th Major League Baseball player to hit 600 home runs.

The 38-year-old outfielder homered Monday night off a 3-1 pitch from Florida lefty Mark Hendrickson in the first inning of the Reds' 9-4 victory against the Marlins. With Jerry Hairston on third and one out, the left handed slugger smacked the ball 413 feet into the right-field seats. A standing ovation from the crowd of 16,003 immediately followed. 

 "I don't think I touched any of the bases. I sort of floated around," Griffey said.

 Manager Dusty Baker has managed the last three players to achieve the 600 milestone: Bonds in San Francisco, Sosa in Chicago and now Griffey. He was there for Bonds' 600th, on Aug. 9, 2002.

 "It's awesome every time you see a milestone like that," Baker said. "It doesn't take away from the others. It adds to it."

 Not so awesome is what happened to the man who says he caught the home run ball, only to have it snatched away by another fan. Justin Kimball, a 25-year-old from Miami, said he caught the ball and put it in a wool cap for safe keeping. He says someone ripped the cap from his hands and took off running. 

 Police said they had found the fan with the baseball and would look at video tape to see if Kimball's claims could be supported. However, the Florida Marlins announced Major League Baseball had authenticated the home run ball for a middle-aged male fan who would only give his first name as Joe.


Olympic Champion Breaks Swimming World Record

Source:  www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(June 8, 2008) TOKYO–Double Olympic champion
Kosuke Kitajima of Japan set a world record in the men's 200 metre breaststroke on Sunday. Wearing Speedo's LZR Racer, Kitajima finished in 2 minutes, 07.51 seconds at the Japan Open, taking almost a second off the previous mark set by American Brendan Hansen in 2006. "This gives me a lot of confidence," said Kitajima. "The only thing I have in mind right now is to win the gold in Beijing." It is the 38th world record set by a swimmer using Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuit since it was introduced in February. Kitajima, who won the 100 and 200-metre breaststroke at the 2004 Olympics, also set two national records at the meet. Kitajima is contracted to wear a Mizuno swimsuit at the Beijing Olympics, but the Japan Swimming Federation will meet Tuesday to discuss the contract.


Top 10 Tips to Stay Fit While on Vacation

By Johnson Jaclyn, eDiets Contributor

It's summer, and you know what that means -- vacation time! A time to relax, kick back, take in the sun and let work slip from your mind for a few days.

While enjoying your vacation is top priority, it's important to keep your diet on track before you start sipping on your pina colada and ordering that double fudge brownie sundae. Whether your travels bring you to Europe or the Bahamas, here are some simple tips on how to stay fit while on vacation.

1. Drink lots of water -- Hydration is essential while traveling. Water fills you up and never lets you down.

2. Stay central -- Location, Location, Location. Try to find a hotel with a central location so you can walk to all your destinations. eDiets Direction of Nutrition Services Pamela Ofstein says this is a "great way to get some exercise and activity in while on vacation. This will get your body moving and gives you the opportunity to really 'see' and really 'take in' your surroundings -- not just drive by! Skip the cab or car ride when checking out the sites, and if you plan to go some place for a meal, try walking -- it gives you more time to talk and enjoy your friends and family."

3. Moderation -- Vacation is the best time to indulge! But don't overdo it. Try to have dessert every other night. Or why not split dessert? It cuts the calories in half! Pamela says "on vacation we tend to let our guard down a little. This should be a time of enjoyment and letting loose a little while still keeping your self on track. Choose your poison if you want to splurge a little -- go for something you normally don't eat (because of watching your calorie intake). I love dessert, so I often opt to skip or limit the bread to one small piece at dinner and enjoy a salad as an appetizer instead of appetizers high in calories and fat."

4. Cut back -- Alcohol and caffeinated beverages can be extremely dehydrating, especially in hot weather climates. You don't have to ban it, but don't binge it either. Pamela suggests "two cups a day or less. A good trick is to if you plan to have a cocktail or caffeinated beverage, have a cup of water for each one you consume; this will help keep you hydrated."

5. Bring breakfast -- Buy a bunch of bananas, bring yogurts or granola bars and have breakfast in your room. "Definitely start the day off with something to eat," Pamela says, "This will help you have energy to begin the day and help keep your metabolism going. Quick bites like bananas, yogurt, whole-wheat bagel, cereal bars are simple enough to have on hand and not fill you up with high fat, low-nutrient foods." Though the croissants and muffins at the continental breakfast are tempting, try to keep breakfast as healthy as possible.

6. Take a dip -- If your destination brings you close to a beach or a pool, take a dip and get some sun while you're at it! If swimming isn't your thing, take a stroll on the beach or play some beach volleyball.

7. Stretch it out -- Give yourself a quick stretch in the morning to get your muscles a head start for the day!

8. Get some green -- No, not money, but that would be nice. I meant vegetables! Order the small salad before your main meal to fill you up. Pamela reminds us to eat our veggies. "They can be some of your best friends by keeping you healthy! They are full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants to keep your body healthy and keep your calorie intake within range -- not to mention all the great benefits of fibre."

9. Breathe -- Nothing is more beautiful than some peace and quiet and peace of mind. Meditate! Find a relaxing spot and start deep breathing.

10. Have fun -- Enjoy your vacation. Laughing does burn calories, you know.


Motivational Note

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission."