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LE NEWSLETTER

May 22, 2008

Back from vacation and ready to go!  Great friends, great weather and great food!  Tons of Canadian content below too so have a look.  Get your tickets for these two amazing events Heart and Soul on May 25th and the newest addition of DK Ibomeka's CD release on May 27th.  Mark your calendars!

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

 

::HOT EVENTS::

Louise Pitre Stars In Heart And Soul With Special Guest Star Jackie Richardson – May 25, 2008

Source: Diesel Playhouse

(Toronto, ON)  Two of Canada’s National Treasures will take the stage together for one night only on May 25th in the heart of the entertainment district at the Diesel Playhouse main stage, for an evening of unforgettable cabaret.  From Piaf and Brel to Broadway, Jazz and Gospel this will be an amazing evening of love, laughter and song for all ages.  Award-winning singer and actress Louise Pitre starred in Mamma Mia! in Toronto, across North America and on Broadway.  Louise also starred in Piaf, Jacque Brel, Annie Get Your Gun, Blood Brothers, Sweeney Todd with the Calgary Symphony, Song and Dance and many others. While living in New York, Louise was nominated for a Tony Award as well as winning the National Broadway Touring Award, a New York Theatre World Award, and the San Francisco Theatre Critics Circle. In Canada Louise has won 3 Dora Awards.

Jackie Richardson has thrilled audiences in Cookin' at the Cookery in Toronto across Canada and the USA.  Jackie has enjoyed much success on stage, in film and on TV.  She has also received great acclaim for her highly popular concert performances.  With Gemini, Juno and Jessie award nominations under her belt Jackie’s talent knows no limit.  Jackie is also a DORA winner.

This “Dynamic Duo” will be supported by Diane Leah at the piano, George Koller on bass and Tom Jestadt on drums.

SUNDAY, MAY 25, 2008
LOUISE PITRE STARS IN HEART AND WITH SPECIAL GUEST STAR JACKIE RICHARDSON
Diesel Playhouse
56 Blue Jays Way (south of King – East of Spadina)
8:00 PM
Tickets are priced at $49.50 and $59.50
Tickets are available by phone and in person
Diesel Playhouse - 56 Blue Jays Way, Toronto
Phone tickets - 416-971-5656 OR get tickets online at
www.dieselplayhouse.com

DK Ibomeka I’m Your Man

Source: Wynchwood Park Productions

DK Ibomeka
(pronounced ee-bo-MECK-ah) celebrates the lyrics and melodies that inspired his need to sing with the Tuesday, May 27th launch of his new album I'm Your Man - an album of jazz vocal classics produced by George Koller. With a three-octave range and huge emotional depth and power, DK Ibomeka is well-equipped to deliver a decidedly original spin on the classic jazz material he has chosen for his sophomore album I’m Your Man. 

I’m Your Man  sees DK backed by some of Canada’s finest players: George Koller on bass, Davide DiRenzo on percussion, Michael Shand on keys, Kelley Jefferson on sax and a special guest appearance by Pee Wee Ellis, long-time band leader for Van Morrison and member of the legendary James Brown horn section, the JB’s.

Produced by George Koller, I’m Your Man primarily features jazz standards including  “Our Love Is Here to Stay”, “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” and “I Get Along Without You Very Well” as well as jazz interpretations of “God Bless The Child”, “I Put A Spell On You” and Leonard Cohen’s ‘I’m You Man’. On I'm Your Man, DK offers his own distinctive, predominantly tender and soulful interpretations of some vintage classics. As noted UK jazz author Mike Hennessey says, "DK Ibomeka's interpretations on this album vividly demonstrate that he not only has an extensive range in terms of octaves, but also in terms of expressing emotion."

The 2006 release of his debut CD Love Stories quickly rose to the Canadian Top Ten jazz radio charts and launched DK on a two-year whirlwind of appearances that saw him tour Europe four times, debut in the UK at London’s Ronnie Scott’s and criss-cross his home country of Canada with performances at the Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg jazz festivals and perform with the Kitchener-Waterloo symphony orchestra. Love Stories was launched to strong reviews in the UK and much of Europe in the fall of 2006. The UK based MOJO Magazine chose Love Stories as a “Playlist Pick” in their December 2006 issue. In Europe, DK was joined on tour with Pee Wee Ellis and also toured as a featured vocalist with the Diva Jazz Orchestra.

For the CD release, DK will be accompanied by Michael Shand (piano), George Koller (bass), Roger Travososs (drums) and Mark Patterson (guitar).

I’m Your Man Track Listing:

1. GOD BLESS THE CHILD           4:51
2. LOVE IS HERE TO STAY          4:17
3. I GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU 3:12
4. I’M YOUR MAN             2:59
5. YOU TURNED THE TABLES ON ME     3:25
6. THESE FOOLISH THINGS       5:06 
7. THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU              3:41
8. SOME OF THESE DAYS           3:25
9. MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE       2:57
10. I  PUT A SPELL ON YOU         7:03
 
Produced by George Koller. "God Bless The Child" produced & arranged by Peter Cardinali.

I'm Your Man: http://www.dkibomeka.com/audio/ImYourMan_DK_35.mp3

God Bless The Child: http://www.dkibomeka.com/audio/GodBlessTheChild34.mp3

My One and Only Love: http://www.dkibomeka.com/audio/MyOneAndOnlyLove_35.mp3

TUESDAY, MAY 27, 2008
DK IBOMEKA CD RELEASE
Lula Lounge
1585 Dundas St. W. (west of Dufferin)
Doors: 7:00PM
Show: 8:30PM 
$15.00
Tel: 416 588 0307
info@lula.ca

www.dkibomeka.com

::TOP STORIES::

Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association (CIRAA) Announces New Executive Director And Launch Of The New Indie

Source:  CIRRA

(May 21, 2008), TORONTO - The Board of Directors of the Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association (CIRAA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Aisha Wickham Thomas as the organization’s first Executive Director. Wickham Thomas is one of the founding Directors of CIRAA, and recently stepped down from her Board position to take on this challenging and exciting new role to build on the organization’s mandate of advocacy, education and member services. Over the course of her career, Wickham Thomas has been focused on developing and promoting Canada's music industry, including past roles as the Canadian Talent Development Manager for Toronto radio station FLOW 93.5 and Executive Director of the Urban Music Association of Canada (UMAC).

CIRAA was formed in 2005, and over the past couple of years has been focused on enhancing the Board of Directors (appointing successful and well-respected indie artists Pavlo, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Ember Swift and Kathryn Rose); building the organization’s resources; and producing the organization’s flagship educational initiative, The New Indie.

The New Indie is an in-depth audio series featuring interviews with music industry experts discussing the new realities facing today’s independent recording artists. The New Indie is a valuable tool created to help artists navigate this music industry paradigm shift. The series, which is launching at next month’s North By Northeast Music and Film Festival & Conference, will be available to recording artists and music industry professionals around the world at all times, FREE for download at www.thenewindie.com and podcast at iTunes. The CD box set is available for purchase at all Long & McQuade locations.

Guests in The New Indie episodes include:

TERRY MCBRIDE, Nettwerk BOB LEFSETZ, The Lefsetz Letter RON SEXSMITH, Artist MICHAEL MCCARTY & BARBARA SEDUN, EMI Music Publishing RANDY LENNOX, Universal Music CHRIS TAYLOR, Entertainment Lawyer SHERI JONES, Jones & Co GRANT DEXTER, Maple Music GARY FURNISS & DAVID QUILICO, Sony Music Publishing HAYDAIN NEALE, Artist JONATHAN SIMKIN, 604 Records LOUIS THOMAS, Sonic Entertainment DEREK SIVERS, CD Baby ROBERT OTT, Ole Music Publishing WINTERSLEEP, Artist DENISE DONLON, Media expert DAN BROOME, True North Records IVAN BERRY, IB Entertainment BRIAN HETHERMAN, CIRAA Announces New Executive Director and Launch of The New Indie (May 21, 2008) 2 of 2 Cerberus Management TIM POTICIC, Sonic Unyon EMBER SWIFT, Artist JODIE FERNEYHOUGH, Universal Music Publishing STEPHAN MOCCIO, Artist CHRISTI THOMPSON, Thompson Management CHASE PARSONS, Chris Smith Management JOEL KROEKER, Artist ANNE-MARIE SMITH, Lonestar Music ROB SZABO, Artist VELMA BARKWELL, Sony BMG MIKE DENNEY, Fusion 3 JAMES PORTER, Ram Jam Management VIVIAN BARCLAY, Warner Chappell REDEYE, Artist BOB BAKER, Author JORY GROBERMAN, New Music West FRANZ SCHULLER, Indica Records GREG STEPHENS, Entertainment Lawyer BERNIE FIEDLER, Manager WAYE MASON, Halifax Pop Explosion.

For more information, please visit www.ciraa.ca or www.thenewindie.com.

Rocker David Cook wins "American Idol"

Source:  Reuters

(May 21, 2008) LOS ANGELES - Twenty-five-year-old singer David Cook won the coveted title of "American Idol" on Wednesday, dealing an unexpected defeat to silken-voiced teenager David Archuleta on the most popular U.S. television show.

Cook, who was bartending and playing in a band before he auditioned for the singing competition, stood back to applaud Archuleta and then bent over crying after host Ryan Seacrest announced the results.

"This is amazing, thank you," he said. (Reporting by Nichola Groom)

People With Sway - Michael “Pinball” Clemons

Source:   www.swaymag.ca

POWERFUL BECAUSE... Everyone likes
Michael “Pinball” Clemons. It’s really hard not to. His engaging personality, coupled with his strong leadership skills and drive, has benefited him his whole career: both on the field as the CFL’s all-time yardage leader, and on the sidelines with fans and players alike as Toronto’s beloved Argos coach. While this year was certainly a power year for Clemons — he was named the president and CEO of the Toronto Argonauts franchise and inducted into the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame — it has been his commitment and passion to community issues and youth that has made his influence truly inspiring.

POWER IS...

“If you want to show me a truly great person, don’t tell me about records or awards; don’t tell me about money or power. If you want to show me a truly great person, show me what that person has done for someone else. Consistent with that, true power is what you do for other people. Within that concept, I have never felt powerless, even when I didn’t have anything.

Now, in this position that is deemed a ‘powerful’ position, I understand that I am not powerful unless I use it for the benefit of other people. For me, the CEO position is a title, it’s more important to have the disposition of power rather than the position of power.

A great leader is one who can actually engage people. To give orders is really just a dictator. Great leaders can do so without having a position.

For me, true authentic leadership oozes out of your pores. It’s not something you pick up when you get to that position or that post; it’s a part of your entire makeup — whether it’s a husband, a dad, in the office, in the community, at the grocery store, wherever it is. True, genuine authentic leadership is real, and it manifests itself in every breath and step we take during the day.” – S.S.

Funnyman Peters To Talk Up Toronto

Source: 
www.globeandmail.com - Tenille Bonoguore

(May 16, 2008) Watch out, Canada. Comedian Russell Peters has been anointed Toronto's tourism saviour, and he's willing to take on the entire nation if it helps boost his hometown's cred.

In a bid to bolster flagging tourism - numbers are up, but visitor reviews are plummeting - the city's tourism bureau has called on the world-renowned funnyman to be its first "global ambassador."

And yesterday, anyone and everything was in his barbed sights.

Planning a trip to Vancouver? "Why, are you a heroin needle?"

Pausing at the Bay and Bloor intersection to loudly deride the city? "We don't come to your town and [say] 'Your town sucks.' We think it. We just don't say it."

The newly created role of tourism ambassador carries no diplomatic rights and no extra privileges, and barely even a paycheque if Tourism Toronto is to be believed. (It refused to reveal the financial details of the partnership yesterday, citing proprietary issues.)

While bemoaning the lack of embassy plates for his car, Mr. Peters still waxed lyrical about his chance to talk up his hometown.

"I really do love this city, so I have no problem bashing other cities in Canada," he said. "I'm sure that's not what they [Tourism Toronto] want me to do, but off the record I will."

Tourism Toronto president David Whitaker said the city plans to harness more of its homegrown star power, including other comedians, to trumpet Toronto to the world and "cut through the clutter" of world tourism.

In the new role, U.S.-based Mr. Peters will appear at major trade shows and meet convention planners and travel industry insiders. The duration of Mr. Peters's appointment has not been finalized.

"I can't be the ambassador and live here. Who am I going to tell?" he said with a laugh. "'Hey, this is a great city.' 'Yeah, spare some change?'

"... There are other great cities, but this happens to be the best one. It's like a lot of hot chicks, but we're the hottest."

So, what does the first global ambassador of Toronto tourism list as the top five local attractions?

"Five things to see in Toronto?" he said with a faux grimace. "Other than the CN Tower and the SkyDome? Other than that? Um, the Eaton Centre."

Yamaguchi Dances Off With Prize

Source: www.thestar.com -
Associated Press

(May 21, 2008) Kristi Yamaguchi came into the Dancing With the Stars finale with a perfect score and left with the mirrorball trophy.

Her victory over pro football star Jason Taylor broke the string of four consecutive male winners. The figure-skating champion was the first woman to claim the Dancing crown since the show's opening season.

"This is just the icing on the cake," Yamaguchi said after her victory last night. "I honestly thank all the fans out there ... everyone who's made this a dream experience.''

Said Taylor: "I never, ever thought I would get to this point."

"Kristi is so deserving," he said.

Each of the season's celebrity contestants returned to the ballroom for the season final. Tennis champ Monica Seles, magician Penn Jillette, radio personality Adam Carolla, R&B singer Mario and actors Marissa Jaret Winokur, Marlee Matlin, Priscilla Presley and Steve Guttenberg each reprised their last dances and talked about their time on the show.

Past champs, including Drew Lachey, Kelly Monaco and Helio Castroneves, also appeared.

Yamaguchi was clearly the most talented contestant on Dancing With the Stars. But the only other woman to take the Dancing crown was Monaco in season one. With a viewership that's 75 per cent women, plus brazen displays of bare skin and sex appeal from her male co-finalists Taylor and Cristian de la Fuente, the hit ABC show had lots of suspense for the final episode.

And it drew plenty of viewers to Monday's broadcast: 19.2 million, according to Nielsen. It was the most-watched program of the night by far, with the largest audience for a Monday edition of Dancing in six weeks.

"You obviously have to get the technique, but (also) compete with the personalities that all the boys have," Yamaguchi told the Associated Press after Monday's performances. "I think their smiles and their personalities melt hearts across the country."

Figure-skating champ Yamaguchi got a perfect score of 60 on Monday's show, and has regularly topped the judges' scoreboard throughout the sixth season of the ABC dance-off. But viewer votes count just as much, and the combination is what determines the winner.

Red Wings Win Series 4-2

Source: www.thestar.com - Jaime Aron,
Associated Press

(
May 20, 2008) DALLAS–So much for the demise of the Detroit Red Wings.

Not only are they headed back to the
Stanley Cup final, they again are looking like the club that dominated the regular season and most of the playoffs.

After consecutive losses hinted at vulnerability, the Red Wings bounced back strong in Game 6 of the Western Conference final, getting first-period goals from Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Dallas Drake on their way to knocking out the Dallas Stars 4-1 last night.

"We were relentless," Draper said. "It was just a solid first period and obviously the difference in the hockey game. We're back in the Stanley Cup.''

Detroit led this series 3-0 before running into trouble.

Now that the fear of a collapse is gone, the focus turns to winning its fourth Stanley Cup championship in 11 seasons.

The Red Wings will face the Pittsburgh Penguins starting Saturday at Joe Louis Arena, with the schedule following a Saturday-Monday-Wednesday pattern.

This will be Detroit's 23rd Cup final but first since 2002 despite having at least 100 points and winning the division every season since. The Red Wings lost to Anaheim in the conference final last season.

"We were close last year and as disappointing as last year was, it was a great learning experience for everyone young and old on this team," forward Kirk Maltby said. "I think it's a big reason why we're going back this year.''

Detroit had the most points in the league this season, then played even better much of the last six weeks. The Red Wings went nearly a month between losses, winning a franchise-record nine straight playoff games. It was the longest run by any team in 15 years and it put them a win away from eliminating the fifth-seeded Stars.

Dallas clawed back by limiting Detroit to a single goal in Games 4 and 5. The Red Wings exceeded that output in the first period last night, with all three goals coming on uncontested shots right in front of the net. Henrik Zetterberg added a short-handed goal early in the second period and the series was all but over then.

"I thought it was a combination of us hoping to win and Detroit pushing the issue to win," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "I think they had a real hard focus around our net.''

Drake and Zetterberg each had a goal and an assist. It was Zetterberg's 11th goal of the playoffs and Drake's first.

Drake, a 16-year veteran, is headed to his first final.

"It's a huge thrill for me," said Drake, who joked that he sat closer to Zetterberg on the bench and the scoring touch rubbed off. ``It's gratifying to contribute when you can.''

Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood didn't have to do much the first two periods, then got busy in the third. He passed all but one test, getting beat by Stephane Robidas during a power play.

Osgood improved to 10-2 this postseason. It was his 100th career playoff game and his 55th victory – his 48th for Detroit, passing Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk for the franchise record.

"That was something that I wanted, one of my goals among others," Osgood said.

"It was a special night.''

Detroit's walloping knockout punch shouldn't have been a surprise. The Red Wings beat Nashville 3-0 to end the opening round, then crushed Colorado 8-2 to finish the second round.

"It really hurts to think of what we could have done," Turco said. "It's the ultimate disappointment of letting the guys down. It comes with the territory."

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Less Sex, More City

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Amy Verner

(May 17, 2008) It's almost impossible to measure how
Sex and the City has altered the sex lives of its fans. Sure, there are women who insist that Samantha's fierce libido encouraged them to embrace their inner “trysexual” (someone who tries anything once). But a quantifiable increase in sex? Do tell.

A much easier case could be made for the HBO series' role in legitimizing footwear addictions and deifying shoe designers Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo.

But the show's greatest achievement has to be the way it depicted
New York as the ultimate place to live, love and let loose. Locating the real-life stomping grounds of the four main characters – Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte – is not at all difficult, whether you take a bus tour or explore the shops, restaurants and neighbourhoods on foot – comfortable shoes recommended. And thanks to the Sex and the City movie opening May 30, there's more buzz than ever about Manhattan, the show's fifth and most fabulous star.

Though I lived there for three thrilling years, and many of the show's locations (Coffee Shop, the Louis K. Meisel Gallery, Luna Park) are the same ones I frequented, I devoted a recent trip to all things SATC.

I kicked off my pilgrimage with breakfast at Pastis, which wasn't the actual setting for the foursome's coffee klatches (shot at the Silvercup Studios in Long Island City) but appeared on the show a few times. Some say this Meatpacking District simulacrum of a French brasserie is past its prime, and Pastis has always served up better ambience than food. No matter. My egg-white omelette – Charlotte's default order – provided the perfect sustenance to begin the day.

The best way for Big Apple newbies to get a taste of Carrie and the gang's cosmopolitan life is to take the Sex and the City Hotspots tour, a gimmicky/glam idea conceived by Georgette Blau, whose nine-year-old company, On Location Tours, also shines a spotlight on The Sopranos and Central Park.

For $40 apiece, the mostly international and almost entirely female tour group hopped on a bus outside the newly restored Plaza hotel and listened to a “sexpert” point out such crucial plot spots as SoHo House (where the gals sneak up to the rooftop pool), Onieal's (the bar of choice for Miranda's hubby, Steve, and Carrie's one-time fiancé, Aidan) and a West Village Banana Republic (where Carrie and a fling make out in the fitting room).

Natasha Malinsky, my tour's bombshell guide, possessed plenty of behind-the-scenes knowledge (Sarah Jessica Parker got to keep all her shoes, and there is a major blooper in the opening credits) and worked the double entendres like a stand-up comedienne – informing us, for instance, that we would be “getting off” at several stops.

This was certainly true at the Pleasure Chest, ground zero for all things titillating. Charlotte bought her pink Rabbit vibrator here, and the gals on the tour swarmed the battery-operated pets with enthusiasm.

Magnolia Bakery, where the girls would often go to indulge – and is now so famous that it requires a bouncer during peak hours, was a highlight that followed a slow crawl up Greenwich Street.

Cathy Epstein, the director of marketing for On Location Tours, said ticket sales for the 31/2-hour tour have increased as much as 20 per cent since September, when the film began production.

“We're sold out seven days in advance as opposed to four days,” she said. “Onieal's is pouring 1,000 cosmos a week.”

The haute pub is the last stop on the tour. Epstein said more locations will be added once the movie opens.

Ask any New Yorker and they'll tell you they've noticed scenes being filmed en plein air, but only the cast and crew know which locations have made the final cut. The build-up is like foreplay.

“From our perspective, Sex and the City is probably the best commercial that's ever been made for the city of New York,” said George Fertitta, chief executive officer of NYC & Company, the city's official tourism organization. “The backdrop of the city, the role the city plays, the beauty, the glamour, the excitement, the energy – it's just wonderful to have other people promote the city like that.”

Can a film prompt a spike in tourism?

“I absolutely believe that it becomes an additional reason or a reminder for people to come to New York,” Fertitta said from his office just north of Times Square, adding that the number of tourists in the first quarter is already up a million, to 91/2 million, over the same period last year.

In response, hotels such as the Gansevoort, in the Meatpacking District, have created special packages that include store discounts, free cocktails and passes to nightclubs. Suzi DeAngelis, director of sales for the Gansevoort, said this is the first time the hotel has pegged a promotion to something as mainstream as SATC, but the district is perfect for today's likeminded gals.

“Down here, it's all about being young and chic,” she said, revealing that Christian Louboutin and Diane von Furstenberg have been guests.

For most New York locales, the benefits of having an association with SATC outweigh the drawbacks. One exception: nightclubs that are already thick with wannabes.

Lotus, a Meatpacking mainstay, appeared literally or in conversation three times throughout the show's run. Co-owner Jeffrey Jah, a 20-year veteran of the business, says the crowd he cultivates includes “tomorrow's next fashion designer, next artist, next poet and next rock star.” Translation: Poseurs need not apply.

But a shop or restaurant isn't guaranteed immortality just because it has been featured on the show. The oft-cited Moomba, a popular lounge in the late 1990s, closed years ago, and all attempts to turn the space into something else have failed.

The beloved French diner Florent, one of the first decent foodie destinations in the Meatpacking District patronized by a who's who of celebrities, including Sarah Jessica Parker, will close next month. No amount of namedropping will save it from an obscene rent increase – from a reported $6,000 a month to nearly $42,000.

Then there's Patricia Field, the show's eccentric costume designer and red-mopped merchant, who shuttered her West Broadway store and reopened it in the newly hip Bowery.

Currently occupying Field's SoHo space is a shoe store called Té Casan, which features a collection designed by actress Natalie Portman. At least that's a fitting fate – Carrie adores shoes – and a sales associate told me that an orange bag from the store will be in the movie.

Indeed, I spent much of my trip trying to suss out places or things that would be worthy of the SATC movie. In my imagined plot line, Carrie and Big meet for lunch at Insieme, a new midtown restaurant that serves authentic Italian fare, to discuss the wedding. She wants a blowout party, but he would much prefer inviting friends and family to Adour, Alain Ducasse's gorgeous and ambitious homage to France at the St. Regis Hotel.

Meanwhile, Samantha pays a visit to Kiki de Montparnasse, the ne plus ultra of specialty stores for lingerie. She purchases a pair of gold handcuffs and satin panties, which she shows off to her man Smith after their night at 1 Oak, the latest playground for pretty young things, which Jah opened last winter with fellow club kings Richie Akiva, Scott Sartiano and Ronnie Madra. The place boasts wood-barrelled ceilings, a black lacquered bar, murals by Roy Nachum and an area of staged seating for voyeurism. Says Jah, “You really have to know one of the owners to get in, or you have to have some amazing style or approach that wins the doorman over.”

Over to Charlotte, who spends the afternoon with her daughter at the New Museum in the Bowery – children are never too young to begin appreciating art, after all.

And Miranda has made reservations for herself and Steve at the newest Blue Ribbon outpost in Six Columbus, the modish addition to the Thompson Hotel empire. She orders omakase (chef's choice), and despite eating miso cod and baby sea eel sushi, he's still hungry, so en route back to Brooklyn they stop at Marlow & Sons, a Williamsburg canteen, where they share a meaty sandwich and a dram of Scotch before returning home to find son Brady sound asleep.

Of course, a stop at Manolo remains a must for these gals. Tourists too, says George Malkemus, the company's U.S. president. “She's a part of our lives. We have busloads of people who come outside and take pictures.” He says the inclusion of the shoe was never about product placement and he does not begrudge the inclusion of other labels. “If a woman only looks at one thing, it becomes boring.”

It's worth noting that when the series wrapped, the characters had all settled down somewhat. Less serial dating could potentially mean fewer retail and restaurant cameos. Privy to some SATC spoilers, Epstein of On Location Tours suggests a total of 14 locations. “You have to remember that the series took place over six years and the movie is two hours,” she says.

It didn't take me long to fall in love ... with an electric blue pair of Christian Louboutins.

Shortly afterward, an attractive young man called out, “I like your shoes.” Who knows where the red-soled heels will take me. Suffice to say they offer a better shot at meeting Mr. Right than a vibrating Rabbit.

::MUSIC NEWS::

 People With Sway - Adrian Mckenzie

Source:   www.swaymag.ca

POWERFUL BECAUSE... As the co-publisher and founding creative director of Urbanology magazine,
Adrian McKenzie refuses to let Canada sleep on hip-hop.

Five years ago, McKenzie, 27, was a student at Seneca at York for digital media arts, where he says he used to make mock covers and read magazines like Word, XXL and The Source, and wonder when Canada would start promoting its own local hip-hop talent.

After teaming up with editor Priya Ramanujam, he started Urbanology, an urban lifestyle and entertainment magazine with a focus on music and promoting Toronto artists and youth initiatives. Started literally with money saved from friends and family, the magazine has gone from an original circulation of 6,000 in Toronto to selling almost 25,000 issues Canada-wide, with distribution in the United States.

Even more impressive has been the community initiatives, with McKenzie often speaking at schools to youth interested in publishing.

POWER IS...

“I do see myself as a powerful figure within my community and with people who are exposed to me. I just like helping people. Everyone knows they can come up to me and ask me for help, whether it’s kids asking me how to design their own magazine or an artist asking me for tips on the industry.

I always tell youth that you don’t have to be a rapper; you don’t have to be a dancer to be a success or even to be involved in the music industry. You can go into publishing, writing, design or into other areas. You just have to have the passion.” – S.S.

Craig David Readies Returns

Source: Ryan J. Hobbs, ThinkTank Marketing, Ryan@thinktankmktg.com, www.thinktankmktg.com

(May 15, 2008) *With 13 million album sales worldwide and still only 26 years old,
Craig David has earned a reputation as one of the UK's foremost talents, as well as one of the nation's most successful musical exports. He's now poised to return with a new album 'Trust Me' on November 12th, already being heralded as his finest since the 2000 debut set 'Born To Do It.'

'Hot Stuff (Let's Dance)' combines Craig David's inimitable vocal gift with irresistible funk-infused beats and a sample of David Bowie's classic track 'Let's Dance.'

Recorded in Havana, Cuba with producer Martin Terefe (KT Tunstall, James Morrison) and writer/producer/mixer Fraser T. Smith (Craig David, Kano,
Beyonce, Plan B, Jamelia), the track '6 of 1 Thing' emphasises how Cuban musical culture influenced his new work, whilst the ballad 'Awkward' (highlighting guest vocals from a female west London star-to-be) features some of his most evocative lyrics to date. Other highlights include the infectious hook and insistent rhythms of the title track, and 'She's On Fire' which combines sublime bass with Craig's fluid lyrical flow.
 
Since becoming a global phenomenon with 'Born To Do It', Craig David has become a huge UK superstar with two #1 singles ('Fill Me In' and '7 Days') and a further ten appearances in the Top 10. All three of his albums have been chart hits: 'Born To Do It' (#1), 2002's 'Slicker Than Your Average' (#4) and 2005's 'The Story Goes' (#5).

A multiple-award winner who has earned three Ivor Novello Awards (including Songwriter of the Year and Best Contemporary Song), four MOBOs (one of which was for Best UK Act) and two MTV Europe Awards, Craig David has worked with a talented array of artists including Sting and Artful Dodger's Mark Hill and Pete Devereux.  Craig David also recently featured on Kano's Top 20 single 'This is The Girl.'

Former Stratford Star's Juno-Winning Music For Kids Wins A Juno And A Following

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

(May 18, 2008) Jen Gould's second act is paying off.

The respected film and stage actor – whom Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian once described as being imbued with "a smile that could bring about global warming single-handedly" – has successfully transitioned to children's entertainment, selling nearly 20,000 copies of her Juno-winning debut disc Music Soup.

"Amazing, huh?" said the 37-year-old Montreal native, showing off the Children's Album of the Year statuette dominating the mantle in the sitting room of the North Toronto home she shares with her husband, two children and an English cocker spaniel.

Gould, who performs next weekend at the Green Toronto Festival, is less enthusiastic about the off-the-cuff acceptance speech she delivered last month upon the shock of beating out high profile nominees like the Doodlebops and Daniel Cook.

"It was horrible, apparently I need a script to talk," she groaned. "I know it's a cliché, but I didn't think I'd win. ... I just thought my husband and I would have a great weekend in Calgary."

The prestigious prize has meant more sales, gigs and store placement for the CD which evolved from Gould's maternity leave with daughter Shoshana eight years ago.

"I decided to fill the creative urge with children's stories written in verse," explained the York University grad who spent four seasons at Stratford prior to starting a family.

"She was an infant. So I was really writing for myself, reflecting my own childhood. Then, I couldn't find anyone willing to publish an unsolicited author. Later, I learned to play guitar and I thought I could put them to music."

Gould revisited Stratford, took on film and TV roles, such as The Associates and Passion of Ayn Rand, and further honed her verses after the birth of son Ethan three years ago.

Finally, she approached Gemini winning producer Ari Posner whom she knew casually from university and who embraced her proposal: "I have no money. I have all these songs. Do you think they're worthwhile?"

Posner arranged the tunes, recorded Gould's vocals and booked professional musicians. Nine months and $15,000 later – at the end of 2006 – Music Soup was quietly released online and at her neighbourhood store Toy Town.

There was no advertising budget, just email, word-of-mouth and Facebook. Before long Gould was getting orders from as far away as Israel and Australia, along with performance opportunities at Indigo/Chapters.

The clever, catchy songs, with spins on bedtime, bath time and bullying delivered in Gould's child-friendly mezzo-soprano, resonated with kids and their folks. "A huge influence in my life was Sesame Street and how accessible it is to parents," the singer-composer said, "because we all have to listen to the music."

Though already writing new songs, she's not finished with Music Soup. "I'm working on an animated video of 'Monster In My Closet.' I'd love to have an amalgamation of all the songs in video form, perhaps for TV or DVD. Ultimately, I'd like to take them back to their roots as a children's book that kids could flip though as they hear the songs."

Not that there's any chance of that idyllic scene unfolding at her house.

"They don't like to listen to Music Soup any more," she said of Ethan and Shoshana. "They're tired of it."

People With Sway - Kardinal Offishall

Source:  www.swaymag.c

POWERFUL BECAUSE... Born Jason Harrow, rapper and Tdot ambassador
Kardi will release the album Not 4 Sale on record label Konvict Muzik later in 2008, making him one of the few Canadian rappers to get love in the United States. Superstar Akon acts as executive producer, showcasing Kardi’s well-known local talents to the world.

POWER IS...

“You, me, powerful/ We’re fighting for this goal and we ain’t gonna stop!” (From the song “Powerfulll” (featuring Jully Black and Tara Chase.) – J.S.

Toronto Is One Of The Most Diverse Cities In The World, But Are We Still Supporting A Diverse Range Of Music?

Source:   www.swaymag.ca -
by: Lenny Stoute

Living in multicultural T-dot, you might figure that world music is the soundtrack of our lives. But you would be wrong, and a quick go-round with local radio and TV channels would rid you of that misconception.

However, that was not always the case. From the early to mid-’90s, world music was riding a high wave in Toronto. Reggae and African music were dominant, but the sounds of Brazil and Latin America were being heard and bhangra was bringing hybrid South Asian music into play.

Lizzy Mahashe was part of that first wave of African performers. Working with Pan-African unit Siyaka, Mahashe brought the sound of Joburg’s shebeens to Toronto’s dancing feet, and they were the better for it. Currently at work on a new album titled Celebrate, she’s the grand dame of African music.

“I feel African music is getting less attention than 20 years ago,” says Mahashe. “It doesn’t help that we all had such hopes for [radio station] Flow 93.5. That it would follow through and play African music, but all they have is one African show, and the majority of what they play is R&B and hip-hop.

“Nothing against that [music], but they get lots of other exposure. We were given to believe 93.5 would promote world music. That hasn’t happened. Apart from the college stations, there’s no support, and unfortunately, no club has come up to replace the Bamboo as a central base for world music.

“There’s a reasonable flow of international acts coming in and world music events at Harbourfront and AfroFest are certainly well-promoted, but not that many local acts benefit from those.”

African music has retreated to the burbs, says Mahashe, to intimate events like weddings and other celebrations where they’ll hire a couple of local acts. She decries the fact that no local promoters have come up from the community to create a venue, without which, she says, the scene will continue to stagnate.

Juno nominated Humble, born Simon Jonathan Vassell, is at the head of the newest wave of reggae artists.

Juno-nominated Humble is at the head of the newest wave of reggae artists. He shares a global background with many Toronto world music artists. Born in the United Kingdom to Jamaican parents, he moved back to Jamaica and lived in St. Elizabeth before coming to Toronto. He has been making music in Toronto for five years, but he can still see the scene through a newcomer’s eyes. Humble maintains a significant presence in Jamaica, where he’ll be completing his sophomore album due this spring.

“The reggae market in Toronto is growing, but not as quickly as I would like it,” says Humble. “This is unfortunate as it’s causing a lot of reggae talent to have to move to other places in order to make it. What I see taking their place is a lot of second-generation players of Jamaican parentage getting into the scene. In terms of how we’re seen in Jamaica, I think the Toronto scene is getting more talked about and getting a little more respect. On the island, they know about Toronto musicians like Steel, Blessed and myself.

“Once you get approval in Jamaica, then you’re really on the road. My path will be to really establish myself in Jamaica, maybe live there again for a while, and then return to build on my Jamaican reputation. It’s easier to get to the next level if you’re part of the scene on the island.”

Amanda Martinez could be the poster girl for Canadian world music. Born in Toronto to Mexican and South African parents, she studied in Mexico City and was exposed to a myriad Latin American styles. She returned to Toronto and tapped the local Cuban musical community for backing on her debut album Sola. This was doable because of the large pool of Cuban musicians in town, a feature found in few North American cities.

“Toronto is a good world music town because people here really celebrate each other’s culture,” says Martinez. ”Something unique and inclusive develops here because everyone’s open to different styles, and there’s such a wide variety of culture to experience.

“Unfortunately, Canada’s rep as a market and incubator of world music isn’t so strong,” says Martinez. “I attended a major conference in Spain last year, and I’ll just say Canada was woefully underrepresented by the government people responsible for that. This is nothing new; the actual marketing of world music from one of its richest sources has always been problematic.”

Adam Soloman is a 2005 Juno Award winner and a double winner at TAMA.

Martinez believes the solution is for the music to be promoted globally via video and concert DVD exposure, and as a platform for funding for a travelling caravan of Toronto world music performers showcasing at festival events around the world.

Like Mahashe, Adam Solomon was part of the first wave of African musicians to settle in Toronto. Originally a member of the Afronubians, the guitar virtuoso went off to form Tikisa, one of Canada’s best-known and loved African acts, which tours regularly across the country. Solomon is an icon of the African music scene and remains one of its most successful artists.

This most courtly native of Kenya put aside his deep concern for family caught in the conflict there to offer his take.

“Not so many African musicians are coming here to [Toronto] now, partly because of changes in the immigration policies. There are pockets like Lula Lounge, but it’s a shrinking scene. I think it will stay like that until a world music club opens downtown.

“Also, the club scene in most African countries is vibrant in a way people here can’t believe. Any decent musician can make a living in his country, sometime even without leaving his city. Maybe the word has spread and the African music scene in Canada doesn’t look so attractive. Also, you can’t ignore the impact of hip-hop on the youth of every culture.”

Solomon notes even name acts like himself and Madagascar Slim couldn’t make it without playing outside Toronto as much as possible.

“Lots of people tell me I could do much better if I moved to the U.S., but this is my country and I want to make a mark here.”

Rubin's Mysterious Magic In Studio Strikes Diamond

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

(May 18, 2008) Neil Diamond landed the first No. 1 record of his career last week with Home Before Dark, which says a lot about which age bracket currently controls the top of the album charts but a great deal, too, about the benefits that derive from associating oneself with producer Rick Rubin.

Rubin, who made his name in the early 1980s turning out tectonic production work for Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, Slayer and the Cult, nowadays often seems less in demand for whatever sonic qualities he might bring to an album than his knack for refocusing long-in-the-tooth performers who've lost their way in the studio. Frederick Jay Rubin is, in fact, almost a brand at this point; people now pay automatic attention to any record with his name in the credits.

He earned his "fixer" reputation after coaxing Johnny Cash to a creative rebirth on his stark American Recordings series of acoustic albums during the 1990s. Rubin has shored it up, though, by taking on "rehab" projects by Donovan, a solo Mick Jagger, Tom Petty and the Bush-battered Dixie Chicks, with whom he won a Grammy last year for Taking the Long Way.

Diamond knew what he was doing, then, when he pursued Rubin to help him mount a comeback with 2005's 12 Songs. The record – a collection of spare voice-and-guitar tunes miles removed from the orchestral pomp that had been Diamond's stock in trade since the '70s – earned effusive reviews.

The two reportedly fought tooth and nail throughout the 12 Songs sessions, but Diamond later acknowledged in an Associated Press interview that Rubin's insistence he put his songs ahead of the production paid dividends. And so the two regrouped last year for Home Before Dark, a more sombre affair in the same, unadorned vein.

In the liner notes, Diamond confesses he's still mystified as to what the peculiar Rick Rubin magic is. "Rick would occasionally visit us out in the studio, have a quiet word with one of the musicians or whisper something to me, like, 'In the Buddhist religion the power of two people praying together is infinite,' " he writes. "Then he'd pad barefoot back into the dark of the control room where he'd lie down on the couch behind the engineers and go trancelike again into the music, leaving me to figure out what the hell he was talking about."

So what is it that Rubin does?

The guy has no professional studio training, but he does have an unerring ear for solid songwriting and how records should sound. He started producing rap records in the '80s, he has said, because he didn't think most hip-hop recordings sounded as vibrantly "live" as they should have. And when it comes to rock and metal – or rock/rap fusion pieces like the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)" and the Run-DMC/Aerosmith smash "Walk This Way" – Rubin is a disciple of the timeless, meaty heft of Led Zeppelin's early recordings. Sonically, his choicest rock credits (The Cult's Electric, Slayer's Reign in Blood and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik among them) haven't dated at all.

The more intangible of his talents as a producer, though, appear rooted in sheer, enthusiastic fanhood and a legendarily easygoing personality. Simply put, Rubin knows what makes (or, in some cases, made) an act good, and they listen to his ideas because they trust him.

He got Diamond and Cash to clear away excessive aural clutter and focus on their core strengths as singers and songwriters. With Run-DMC and the Dixie Chicks, he suggested stylistic change-ups that pushed their art forward while bringing their music to broader audiences. Run-DMC's landmark 1986 album, Raising Hell, gave white, mainstream rock fans their first taste of hip hop thanks to their brush with Aerosmith. Likewise, according to the U.K. newspaper The Independent, the Dixie Chicks were encouraged on Taking the Long Way to make "a rock album that leaned country" to cement a pop crossover outside North America.

"I feel like the job is like being a coach, building good work habits and building trust," Rubin told the publication. "You want to get to a point where you can say anything and talk about anything. There needs to be a real connection. My goal is just to get out of the way and let the people I'm working with be their best."

Rubin does connect with his charges in a very real way, and that might be his secret. He and Cash, for instance, became close friends, even taking daily Communion together during Cash's dying days, and wound up recording six albums' worth of material together.

"I didn't know very much about him," Diamond confessed last week to Britain's Sun newspaper. "Professionally, I knew a little bit, but mostly I started to work with Rick because I liked him."

His "only problem" with Rubin, as he told USA Today last year, "was his habit of hugging." Seems bearable enough.

Singer Zaki Ibrahim Is Making A Name For Herself With Her Soulfully Eclectic Mélange Of R&B, Hip-Hop And Jazz

Source:   www.swaymag.ca - By: Del Cowie

It’s a cold and rainy night in Toronto but that hasn’t stopped a near-capacity crowd from gathering at the Mod Club to see much buzzed-about vocalist
Zaki Ibrahim perform. Midway through her rapturously received set, Ibrahim stops the proceedings to blow bubbles with her band members and welcome two teenaged girls to the stage.

The duo is a group named Wee Golden and the teenage band sings folk songs and plays the thumb piano (known as the kalimba). Ibrahim cedes the spotlight to their warmly received performance before she triumphantly resumes her headlining set. It’s an intriguing move, since taking a backseat mid-set isn’t exactly what many would expect of a vocalist whose profile is growing exponentially.

A few days after the show, the Toronto-based vocalist talks about the Wee Golden set in the middle of her show. “A lot of people were saying it really didn’t fit, but that was kinda the point,” Ibrahim says. And the bubbles? “It was just to make the environment comfortable for the two 14- and 15-year-old girls…. They were nervous as hell.

“They just write beautiful songs, and it was just an opportunity to let them experience something like that. It was like two little golden angels with golden songs — and with bubbles.”

Ibrahim’s fiercely protective concern for the group is by no means an accident. Her selfless attitude of putting others before herself is an attitude that is applicable to many things in her life and is deeply reflected in her own music.

If you happened to have gotten a chance to hear Ibrahim’s 2006 EP Sho (Iqra in Orange), which has been mainly available through her live shows over the past couple of years, the singer’s generous attitude wouldn’t be totally surprising to you.

Behind Ibrahim’s soulfully eclectic mélange of R&B, hiphop and jazz is her impressive lyrical stance exhibiting a deep concern for others, establishing itself as a theme on tracks like the reggae-tinged “Connected Mattalike” and the gritty catchiness of “Grow.” While a cynic might scoff at the optimism and hope evident on the undeniable head-nodder “Daylight” as being naïve, it’s extremely hard to dismiss Ibrahim’s voice, infused with impassioned verve. She credits her parents with her disarmingly positive outlook.

“They raised my brothers and sisters to be a little bit more conscious of what goes on around you and to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” Ibrahim says.

Her father is Zane Ibrahim, a renowned percussionist and long-time anti-apartheid activist in South Africa, who helped to found one of the country’s first community radio stations. Though she was born in Vancouver, Ibrahim spent much of her youth in South Africa. She is “fascinated” by the country and has often returned there for extended periods of time. While there, she has helped to organize self-expression workshops for young offenders in South African prisons, some who she humorously remembers mistook her for American R&B artist Alicia Keys.

Ibrahim says crowds can be tough to musical performers in Cape Town, but her toughest critics when she first began to dabble in music as a child was her own family.

“I always got heckled by them,” Ibrahim says. “And it didn’t matter what I was doing, I’d be telling a story like, ‘We need to bring justice to a situation,’ and everyone would be laughing and I’d be crying because I’d be like ‘It’s about a duck that died because of pollution,’” she recalls laughing.

“And it would be a funny experience for them. And I would be like, ‘Ah! How am I gonna let them know the truth?’”

Those early experiences have clearly made her very resilient. Recalling being booed by a rowdy crowd at the famed New York Apollo Theater a couple of years ago for performing Sade’s “Sweetest Taboo” over Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” instrumental, Ibrahim giggles constantly and calls it “a really, really amazing positive memory.” She’s clearly ready to take on what the music industry might throw at her.

Having recently signed a deal with the Red Ink/SonyBMG label in Canada, Ibrahim is preparing the release of her second EP. Sho (Iqra in Orange), her first EP, dealt with love, nurturing and sensuality in relation to the word iqra, which means to constantly seek knowledge in Arabic. However, Ibrahim says her second EP, Eclectica in Purple, due out in May, will deal with “more heartbreak” and will be more outspoken and delve into Afrobeat.

Later in the year, Ibrahim will also release her full-length debut entitled Every Opposite. It will incorporate Ibrahim’s already established organically soulful sound, with nods to electronic sounds from the ‘80s and hip-hop beats, and be a mesh of intentionally different sounds and messages to reflect the album’s title. Ibrahim hopes to bring the album to life with a play using the resources of the District Six Collective who work with her on all her projects.

The collective is actually named after District Six, a racially integrated area of Cape Town that thrived for years during the apartheid regime until the government declared it a “whites only” area in 1966 and razed it to the ground in 1970. Ibrahim actually had family members that lived in District Six.

District Six, the Toronto-based record label and management company, was founded by Dave Guenette after his travels through South Africa. And while Ibrahim may be one of the most visible affiliate of the collective, she has used her profile to provide opportunities to the other artists who range from DJs to filmmakers to also have their voices heard in accordance with the collective’s modus operandi.

It’s just another example of Ibrahim’s penchant for deflecting attention away from herself, even as the spotlight and the buzz around her as a recording artist continues to grow.

It’s not surprising that when she talks about how she would define success and her future, it doesn’t take her long to, yet again, talk about the welfare of others.

“I think the definition of success for me is to be somewhat effective in putting my music across, and if it’s not music, it’s being able to express myself in some way,” Ibrahim says.

“Living a normal life, just having my health ... travel and that kind of stuff. Those are the golden thoughts y’know,” she says. “I’d like to be a stand-up person and feel successful, to be a healthy person, so I can be like healthy for others.

I’m not trying to be clichéd about it, but honestly that spells success.”

Top Canadian DJ Baby Yu leaves Canada for US Residencies

Source:
Concept Inc.

After over a decade at the top of the urban music industry, DJ Baby Yu is leaving Canada next month for residencies in Atlanta, Georgia .
 
Demanded around the globe in a range of markets, DJ Baby Yu is one of Canada ’s most experienced, well respected and highly connected DJ’s. Layered with many talents DJ Baby Yu is an established DJ, an exclusive radio show host and on the come up producer.
 
Over the years of his career Baby Yu has been at the top of the nightclub scene in Toronto and across Canada , while continuing his syndicated radio shows around the globe: XM Satellite, Sirius Satellite Radio, and Globe Radio.
 
With a compelling fan-base in the global music scene, Baby Yu definitely exemplifies a man that can “do it all!” He goes on to state: “I do what I do for the love of music, also for the love of influencing others in the right direction by having a great time at a party”.
 
DJ Baby Yu plans to leave the country in style. “DJ Baby Yu’s Bye Bye” Party will be held Monday June 23rd in Toronto , Ontario .  

DJ Baby Yu’s Top Achievements

         In 2005 he was recruited as the first Canadian DJ to the Violator All-Star DJ’s coalition. (This was started by Violator Management President Chris Lighty with individuals 50 Cent and Missy Elliot signed to Violator Management.)

         Celebrity Hosts for Mixtapes include: Ludacris, Kanye West, The Game (double disk West Coast tribute), Lupe Fiasco and More.

         Asked personally by DJ Jazzy Jeff to DJ at his birthday party.

         Has Deejayed for Jay-Z and Rihanna at a private party at Caribana weekend in Toronto .

         Is the first Canadian DJ to be sponsored by CIROC Vodka (Diddy is the main artist promoter for CIROC)

         Tours internationally annually in different markets: Asia: Taipei , Singapore , Hong Kong, Shanghai , and Manila . Europe: London , Oslo , Frankfurt, Paris , Rotterdam , Amsterdam , and Rome . United States: Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Detroit, Philadelphia and more.

         Hosts 4 weekly syndicated radio shows around the globe.

         Has opened concerts for: Sean Paul, Snoop Dogg, The Game, Juelz  Santana, Usher, Jay-Z, Black Eyed Peas, Lil’ Jon, Kanye West and more.

         Podcast site (www.babyyu.com/podcast) has 5000 downloads per month and Hosted “The Baby Yu and MC RG Show on two commercial radio stations (FLOW 93.5 and KISS 92.5)

         Was nominated twice for Best Canadian DJ for the New York based JUSTO awards. Won for BEST CLUB DJ and TORONTO DJ in 2007 for the CANADIAN STYLUS DJ AWARDS. Is nominated again for the Stylus awards for Best Club DJ, Best Toronto DJ and Mixtape DJ for “Mashed Potatoes 2”.

         Has been offered 3 residencies in Atlanta , Georgia starting the summer of 2008. He will be deejaying at the hottest night spots: Velvet Room, Lotus Lounge and Dreamz Nightclub.

Jackson Tour To Kick Off In Vancouver

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Associated Press

(
May 20, 2008) New York — Though going out on tour means connecting with fans, it can also mean long hours, high stress, and sleepless nights. Janet Jackson says she's looking forward to all of it.

"I love all of that, all of that pressure, I really do," Jackson told The Associated Press on Monday as she gears up for a tour to kick off in September.

The tour, which opens in Vancouver on Sept. 20 and includes dates in New York and Washington, is Jackson's first in seven years. But the singer, who just turned 42 last week, said she hadn't planned on waiting for so long.

"I was supposed to go on tour with the last album," said Jackson, referring to the 2006 CD "20 Y.O." But the singer said her record label wanted her to wait for her latest CD, "Discipline."

"We were actually in full-blown tour rehearsals at that point ... learning numbers, getting everything together, set designs," she said. "I had to kind of shut everything down and go into the studio."

Jackson's shows have always been heavy on choreography and glitzy sets. But she promised fans some surprises this time around.

"It will definitely be a big production but it will definitely also be something that I've never done before, that people have never seen from me before," she said.

While only a few dates have been announced for the Live Nation tour, Jackson expects to take the "Rock Witchu" tour (named, by the way, for a song on her new album, not for her brother Michael's famous hit) worldwide.

"It's been a while so I really want to make my rounds," she said. "I haven't been to "Australia in a very long time; I can't wait to go there. There are a lot of places where I really want to stop off at, and that's the idea, that's the goal with this tour.

Tickets go on sale June 7.

Dianne Reeves 'Knows' Best

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

(May 21, 2008) *Fresh off a successful tour of Europe, jazz songbird Dianne Reeves is hardly resting on the laurels of her latest disc, “When You Know.” And though she’s gearing up to take a cruise, she’s hardly taking a vacation.

RadioScope/EUR’s Larita Shelby caught up with the sultry singer who took some time out to talk about her new CD and about joining the roster of jazz greats on the upcoming Playboy Jazz Cruise.

Reeves “When You Know” is described as a collection of love songs “whose perspective ranges from youthful innocence to enlightened maturity.” The disc features Reeve’s renditions of songs such as the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination” and “Lovin’ You” made famous by Minnie Riperton, among others.

“It seems to be well received,” she said of the disc which hit last month. “I’m really enjoying going out and performing and people are really excited about the record. This is just music that I grew up listening to; that I just love. In a lot of ways, this particular CD is like a journey from when I started to where I am now.”

Reeves said that she’s always wanted her music to be “accessible” and agreed that this disc very well has something for every jazz lover. Though she added that she’s never really had to develop a disc based on how commercial or accepted it might be across the board.

 “Fortunately, being at Blue Note [Records] they don’t pressure you. They want you to be the artist you are and to have your own voice,” she said. “I’m a storyteller so a lot of my music that you hear on the record and when we perform live there are stories behind them. “I’ve always wanted every song I’ve ever done to mean something because it means something to me, and that makes it more accessible.”

When talking about some of the songs on the disc, Reeves said that even the simplest lyrics said a lot about her story.

“They were very simple and lovely lyrics,” she said referring to tracks such as “Just My Imagination,” “but when they came out to me, that was everything. It’s not a sophisticated lyric, but the feeling was still the same. Now I’m in a place where I sing about ‘your lips are like red and ruby challises’. These lyrics are a little bit different, but the feelings are just the same.”

Putting even more talent on the project, the disc was produced by jazz legend and Reeves’ cousin, George Duke. The two have collaborated on a number of projects and fortunately for them the “you can’t work with family” adage isn’t so true.

“You walk into his door and you’re greeted with the biggest smile,” she fondly recalled. “And that smile has so much weight behind it because he just loves what he does and he just loves working with people. And you feel it.”

With the disc spinning on jazz stations and gaining momentum, Reeves is now preparing to be a part of the fun on the upcoming first-ever Playboy Jazz Cruise in January 2009, though she originally hesitated in joining on.

“I have always resisted cruises because I’ve never felt comfortable with being on a ship, but when it was the Playboy Jazz Cruise – and I knew everyone behind the scenes and when I saw who was going to be doing it – I said, ‘I’m going to do this,’” she said. “And I’m looking forward to it because it’s going to be magical.”

In the meantime, Reeves is making her own magic with the new disc and her jazz festival dates. And Reeves will also be performing at New York City's Carnegie Hall on June 27th with Al Green.

For more on the Dianne Reeves performances and the new disc, check out www.diannereeves.com. For more on the Playboy Jazz Cruise, go to www.playboyjazzcruise.com.

 “Keep doing what it is that you love for the love of it,” Reeves encouraged. “That’s the most important thing because the more you love it, the more people will love it."

The Grammy-Winning Violinist Vents His Frustration At CBC's Cuts To Classical Music

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Colin Eatock

(May 21, 2008) Canadian violinist James Ehnes comes across as an easygoing, laid-back kind of guy. Originally from Brandon, Man., he has a matter-of-fact way of expressing himself - articulate, but unadorned with drama or artistic licence.

But if his spoken words aren't as vivid as the notes he plays on his 1715 "Ex Marsick" Stradivarius, there's weight and substance to his statements. And when he says he's "upset and alarmed" about something, he's not just striving for effect. He means it.

Ehnes is in Toronto this week to perform with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In a chat over a drink in a Toronto hotel, the conversation soon turns to the CBC, headquartered just a couple of blocks away. What Ehnes is "upset and alarmed" about are some of the recent decisions made by the corporation. It soon becomes apparent that he has strong - and complex - feelings about Canada's state-owned broadcaster these days.

Just a few months ago, on Feb. 10, Ehnes was the delighted recipient of a Grammy Award for a CBC Records CD of concertos by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Samuel Barber and William Walton, featuring him with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. It was the first time the 32-year-old violinist had even been nominated for the prestigious American award - and also a first for CBC Records.

Ehnes doubted his chances. "I'd convinced myself, out of some sense of self-preservation, that I wasn't going to get the award," he says. "I thought, 'It's a Canadian CD - it will never win.' "

He had so little faith in his prospects that he didn't even bother to fly to Los Angeles from his home near Sarasota, Fla., for the ceremony, choosing instead to watch over the Internet. "When they opened the envelope and read my name," he recalls, "it was surreal."

Last month, the violinist scored another win, when the same disc garnered a Juno Award.

Yet even as the champagne corks were popping - and sales of the CD soared to about 4,000 units (double the numbers for a typical CBC disc), major shifts in priorities were taking shape within the CBC's Broadcasting Centre. The CBC that had supported Ehnes throughout his career with broadcasts and recordings quietly decided to suspend production of new classical CDs. Ironically, it looks like the corporation's first Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra will also be its last.

Ehnes calls that move "misguided and short-sighted." And adding to his concerns about the CBC are other decisions the corporation has announced: to reduce classical-music broadcasting on its Radio 2 network and disband the CBC Vancouver Orchestra.

"I think there are some good people at the CBC who are trying to make the right decisions," he notes.

"And it's unfortunate that it's become such an angry, divisive issue that it's turning into 'the CBC versus classical music.' But what they're doing is terrible - it's maddening and frustrating."

Ehnes is particularly disappointed that the new Radio 2 schedule, which takes effect in September, confines weekday classical programming to a five-hour slot from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This, he points out, is exactly when children and teenagers are in school and won't be able to listen.

"The far-reaching effect of these decisions could be huge," he proposes. "I'd like to think there will always be a Toronto Symphony and a Montreal Symphony - but will there always be a Regina Symphony or a Saskatoon Symphony if there's an entire generation of young people who have never heard classical music? And outside big cities, there's no access to classical music except on the CBC."

Similarly, he is firmly opposed to the decision to eliminate the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, the only radio orchestra in North America. "Year after year," he says, "they reduced the amount of work that the CBC Orchestra did. And now they're saying. 'Let's disband the orchestra, because it really doesn't do much.' "

As well, one of Ehnes's own projects has fallen victim to cutbacks at the CBC. "I had a plan to record all the Bach violin concertos that I was really excited about. We were going to record the two standard concertos, the double concerto and also the concertos that exist only in reconstruction. But now I'll have to find another way to do that."

He may well succeed. Ehnes is nothing if not resourceful, and he is a well-established figure in the classical music world. In addition to his half-dozen discs for CBC Records, he has also recorded for the Sony, Telarc, Chandos and Analekta labels, among others.

And now he has a Grammy Award: the product of a fruitful relationship with CBC Records that has come to an end. Nevertheless, the Grammy will only raise his stature further - although he believes its effects won't be felt immediately.

"If the award is going to change my career, I probably won't notice for a couple of seasons. But the phrase 'Grammy winner' seems to add credibility for people who may not know who I am. The best part - other than getting the cool statue - is knowing that so many people have heard the disc. It's nice to know that it's been heard outside Canada."

Special to The Globe and Mail

James Ehnes performs Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 K. 414 and Bach's Concerto for Violin and Oboe BVW 1060 with TSO oboist Sarah Jeffery at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall tonight at 8 and tomorrow at 2 p.m. 416-593-4828.

Cohen Adds Another Show At Toronto Stop

Source: www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(May 21, 2008) Good news for those who've been crying because they don't have tickets to see Leonard Cohen at the Sony Centre next month.

Cohen has belatedly decided to do a fourth Toronto show on Monday, June 9.

His world tour will be officially launched at the Sony on June 6 (after several weeks of preview gigs in smaller venues and smaller cities), with additional Toronto concerts set for June 7 and 8.

An announcement of the extra date will be made this week. Tickets will go on sale by phone and in person at the Sony box office at noon on Saturday.

You don't need an oracle to predict more Leonard-mania. The other concerts were sold out in record time, despite steep prices, with top seats going for $250.

"We've been under pressure from Toronto because of the demand," says Robert Kory, his lawyer and manager, speaking from his L.A. office.

At first Kory was reluctant to add to the huge workload. After all, Cohen is 73, and a rock tour would be gruelling even at 23.

Cohen, nervous about whether he'd be able to pull it off, had thought his tour in the early 1990s would be his last stressful taste of live shows and life on the road.

It was only because of his much-publicized financial problems and the need for a retirement fund that he changed his mind.

Now after several concerts in the Atlantic provinces, he is ecstatic about how well it's going and the reception he has been getting.

"Leonard is having a wonderful time," Kory says. "And the demand is so great all over the world – Europe, Australia, South Africa – this could go on for two years."

But there's another reason he wanted to add an extra night here.

"Toronto has a special place in Leonard's heart," says Kory. "It's the city that gave him the most support early in his career."

Four decades ago, the late Jack McClelland, CanLit pioneer, made Cohen a literary star by publishing his poetry and fiction.

And these days, after the political upheavals of the past 40 years, a lot of his old friends and supporters from Montreal live in Toronto.

That's why Cohen was happy to spend a week in Toronto a year ago when Luminato presented a musical take by composer Philip Glass on Cohen's The Book of Longing. That's why the Drabinsky Gallery became the exclusive North American dealer when Cohen's visual art went on the market.

Of course there would be a lot more concert tickets available if Cohen had chosen to play the Air Canada Centre. And he will play an arena in London in July.

But in Canada, Kory says, Cohen chose so-called soft-seat venues because he wanted to feel an intimate relationship with the audience.

Another reason Cohen prefers the 3,200-seat Sony: this is where he performed on his last tour 15 years ago, in the summer of 1993.

Mark Hammond, the Sony's program director, says there was almost no resistance to ticket prices.

"The first reaction was often a gasp," Hammond says. "But then most people would say, `Well, that's okay, this will be his last tour.'"

The world of rock tours has a term for the choice of smaller venues when there's a market for big ones. It's called an "underplay."

But don't get the idea this is a small show. There are 35 people on the tour, including a band of 10. Cohen spent three months conducting rehearsals and orchestrating every exquisite detail. And he's onstage for three hours.

Kory created a bubble to protect Cohen, with a ban on interviews and backstage visitors.

Cohen's daughter, Lorca, a skilled photographer as well as the owner of an L.A. furniture store, had special access for up-close pictures.

In Kory's eyes, months of prep paid off the night of the first show in Fredericton. "To see it all come to life in front of an audience was magical. Leonard just soared.

"`Sublime' is the word for it."

MUSIC TIDBITS

Scarlett's Cover Song Worth The Waits

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ann Donahue,
Billboard

(May 17, 2008) Scarlett Johansson describes the recording of her Tom Waits covers album, Anywhere I Lay My Head, as an "intimate experience – almost private, in a way.'' Of course, when you're an actress, Louis Vuitton model and occasional tabloid fixture, pretty much nothing is private. That's the challenge facing Atco/Rhino Records as it promotes the album, due Tuesday. Sure, Johansson is a familiar face, but the phrase ``actress-turned-singer" is bound to set off warning bells. "I don't think being a celebrity is a hindrance – I think it will get people curious," project manager Liuba Shapiro says.  Johansson's take on Waits, thanks in part to her teaming with TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek for production, as well as Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and David Bowie on backing vocals, is an atmospheric reinvention of the gravelly voiced singer's work. It's designed to appeal to a target group: those curious about Johansson's vocal prowess, Waits fans and those who like their melodies layered and dreamy. The album has Waits's stamp of approval, Johansson says. "It would be mortifying otherwise. It's such a valentine for his work. I wanted to have that approval. Now I don't have to look out for him in a dark, crowded place.''

T-Pain Leads All BET Award Nominations

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(May 16, 2008) *T-Pain received five
BET Award nominations Thursday to lead the entire pack this year, but none were for his own songs. The singer's electronic-enhanced voice earned best collaboration nods for his work with Chris Brown ("Kiss Kiss"), Kanye West ("Good Life") and Flo Rida ("Low"). He was also nominated twice in the video of the year category.  "He's had a great year; he's introduced a new element," said BET Executive Vice President Stephen Hill, referring to T-Pain's vocoder-manipulated vocals. The technique, popularized in the 80s by Roger Troutman and Zapp, has enjoyed a T-Pain-assisted resurgence that has been utilized to great success recently by Snoop Dogg ("Sensual Seduction") and Lil Wayne ("Lollipop").   Meanwhile, West and Keyshia Cole received three BET Award nominations, while Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys and newcomer Flo Rida received a pair each.    Hill said the awards also shine a light on R&B artists who have yet to achieve mainstream attention, such as R&B singers Estelle and Raheeem DeVaughn, who each received a nomination.   "Our voting panel picked not just the hits but folks who are really talented who are just now getting a shot," he said, according to the Associated Press.   Al Green will be given a lifetime achievement award, and Quincy Jones will receive an award for his humanitarian work during the live broadcast on June 24 from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Agneles. Nelly and Usher, who were to appear on BET's "106 & Park" later Thursday to announce the nominations, are confirmed to perform at the ceremony along with Lil Wayne, Blige and Mariah Carey.   "Besides being the best black awards show that we have, also being one of the best awards show period, their ratings are through the roof," said Nelly. "They're tuning in — black, white, Japanese, Chinese — you got it, they're tuning in, which says a lot."

Rihanna Makes Near Record Leap On Billboard

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(May 16, 2008) *
Rihanna's new single "Take A Bow" nearly set a Billboard Hot 100 record with its 53-1 rise this week.  It's the second-best leap to No. 1 in Hot 100 history, trailing only Maroon 5's 64-1 jump with "Makes Me Wonder" last May. Coincidentally, Rihanna is featured on the band's "If I Never See Your Face Again" which debuted yesterday at No. 57.  "Bow's" sudden blast is due to opening-week digital downloads, which hit 267,000 to also place the track at No. 1 on Hot Digital Songs. Rihanna now owns two of the top three opening week download tallies in chart history. Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body" set the mark with 286,000 last month, surpassing the 277,000 moved by Rihanna's "Umbrella" when it debuted in June 2007 issue.    "Take a Bow" is one of four new songs on an expanded CD/DVD edition of Rihanna's "Good Girl Gone Bad" album, due June 17 via Def Jam.    Elsewhere on the Hot 100, Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" slips to No. 2, followed by Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" featuring Static Major at No. 3, Jordin Sparks' "No Air" featuring Chris Brown at No. 4, Usher's "Love in this Club" featuring Young Jeezy at No. 5, Ray J & Yung Berg's "Sexy Can I" at No. 6, Madonna's "4 Minutes" featuring Justin Timberlake at No. 7, Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body" at No. 8, Natasha Bedingfield's "Pocket Full of Sunshine" at No. 9 and Danity Kane's "Damaged" at No. 10.

Big Boi Puts His 'Left Foot' Forward

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(May 16, 2008) *OutKast's
Big Boi eyes the end of August as a recording deadline for his first solo album, "Sir Luscious Left Foot ... Son of Chico Dusty," due later this year via Laface/Zomba.   A video for the first single "Royal Flush," featuring OutKast partner Andre 3000 and Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon, will be shot in the coming weeks by director Bryan Barber, reports Billboard.com. The second single will be "The World is Too Big" featuring Mary J. Blige.  Big Boi worked with his usual Organized Noise production crew as well as long-time collaborator Mr. DJ on "Sir Luscious"    "This album is Big Boi to the extreme," the rapper tells Billboard. "It's like a recession special. I'm talking about what's going on in the world, with everything from rising gas prices to the election. It's just my insights on life up to this point."  Last month, Big Boi debuted his "Big" collaboration with the Atlanta Ballet at the city's Fox Theater. Now, the artist is in talks with concert promotion giants AEG and Live Nation to take the show on an international tour.

J-Hud's Debut Album Due In September

Source: www.eurweb.com

(
May 20, 2008) *Now that her latest role in the upcoming "Sex in the City" movie is in the can, Jennifer Hudson will pivot back to her roots and work to complete her self-titled debut album by its September release date. The first single, "Spotlight," will impact U.S. radio outlets on June 9 and be available for sale via digital outlets the following day, reports Billboard. [Scroll down for a listen.]  The track was written and co-produced by singer-songwriter Ne-Yo. Additional contributors on the album include Timbaland, Robin Thicke, the Underdogs, Diane Warren and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, among others. "I think people will be pleasantly surprised, because it shows a side of my work that no one has heard before," said the Academy Award winner of her Arista album. In addition to co-starring in "Sex in the City," Hudson also appears on its soundtrack, due May 27 via New Line. Her next film project, "The Secret Life of Bees," hits theatres on Oct. 17.

Keith Sweat In Stores Now

Source: lellie.capwell@rhino.com; evette@cbgpr.com

(May 21, 2008) Hit-maker Keith Sweat has a new CD Just Me which hit stores on Tuesday, May 13th. An exclusive album-only track titled “Some More” featuring Akon will be available only on iTunes the day of the CD release.  Radio stations across the country are excited about the second single “Butterscotch” featuring long time collaborator Athena Cage and are adding it to their playlists. The first single “Suga Suga Suga” is still making impressive strides on the charts holding at #11 on the R&R Urban AC chart. Fans will also be able to catch Keith Sweat’s incredible performance on 5/16 at Providence Performing Arts Center (Providence, RI), 5/18 at Caesars Resorts (Lakeville, PA), 5/31 at Viejas Casino Concerts in The Park (San Diego, CA), 6/7 at the Fairgrounds (Pensacola, FL), 6/20 at Pechunga Casino & Resort (Temecula, CA), 7/11 at Solano County Fair (Vallejo, CA), 8/1 at Chene Park (Detroit, MI) and 8/15 at the Country Club Hills Theater (Country Club Hills, IL). Keith Sweat is geared up and ready to give the fans what they’ve been waiting for with the release of his new CD Just Me that dropped May 13, his second single “Butterscotch” with long time collaborator Athena Cage and the exclusive iTunes album-only cut “Some More” featuring Akon.  “The new track is an added incentives for my fans, I wanted to give them more, so we appropriately named the cut “Some More” which ironically worked out.” Says Sweat. “I try to come up with new ways to please my fans because at the end of the day, they’re the ones who have supported me throughout my entire career, and I thank them a million times over.”

::FILM NEWS::

Faith Proves No Barrier As Wee Actor Ari Aben Aims To Be Daniel Cook, Starting On Treehouse

Source:  www.thestar.com - Matt Simmons,
Special To The Star

(May 18, 2008) Theo and Dina Aben had heard enough stories and watched enough episodes of E! True Hollywood Story to be wary. Child stars never turn out normal, or happy, or clean.

But after a couple of years listening to strangers – strangers! – utter the same "Your son was born to be on TV" refrain, they didn't hesitate or second-guess themselves once they finally decided to go looking for an agent. After all, they'd raised their 4-year-old,
Ari, to be disciplined, confident and polite, characteristics not usually ascribed to a young boy.

There was one potential problem, however. Agent Yannick Landry "called one day last fall to tell me about this really big audition for the next day. But the next day was Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement), so obviously ..." she trails off, her shrug and smile silently articulating the family's priorities.

Dina, who was raised in an Orthodox home in Thornhill, and Theo, whose observance level has risen dramatically in the last decade, have their family observe the Sabbath and maintain a strict kosher diet. If there's a problem here, the little actor in the skull-cap doesn't see it.

"I always thought I was going to be an actor," Ari says, sitting perfectly still in a chair twice his size.

Blond and blue-eyed with a wide smile that takes over his face, he managed to do the almost impossible by booking a job on one of his first auditions. And it wasn't just any job: Ari was cast on season two of Roll Play, a popular children's entertainment and exercise show on Treehouse TV.

"I actually watched the audition," Dina remembers. "Ari knew these were the same people who produce
This is Daniel Cook," which is shown in 85 countries, in 14 languages. "So he goes in and sits down and says `Excuse me, when am I going to replace Daniel Cook? When's the show going to be called This is Ari Cook?' And he starts singing the theme song, `This is Ari Cook, on a bike, on a plane ...' And they hired him."

"We all went crazy when he got Roll Play," Theo remembers with a smile as wide as Ari's.

"My Bubby and Zeyde (grandmother and grandfather) brought over a cake and everybody was dancing. It turned into a huge party," Ari adds. "It was really exciting."

"That's why I'm not worried about Ari in the entertainment business," offers the Abens' rabbi, Elie Karfunkel of the Forest Hill Jewish Centre. "His parents just see all this as an opportunity to broaden his horizons; that's how they're able to enjoy the audition process without getting stressed out about it."

Landry, co-owner of Newton Landry Management Inc., one of the most successful adult and children talent agencies in Canada, offered to take on Ari as a client as soon as the two met, Dina Aben recalls matter-of-factly.

"He was – he is – very outgoing; he's charming; he's bright," Landry says of the actor, now 5 years old. "And this isn't the first client I've had with religious concerns." In fact Landry, who often finds himself making food and scheduling accommodations, advises observant families against taking roles with questionable script content.

"And sometimes it's dress code; I'm just here to make sure their requirements are taken care of, and sometimes those requirements mean making sure there's special food on set, or arranging so Ari – or another client – isn't scheduled to work or audition on Saturday."

He may be Daniel Cook in training, but for a boy more used to synagogues than sets, Ari hopes his small success will encourage other observant kids to think about acting. "I wish there were more kippas at auditions. He'd really like that."

He? "God. He's watching. He's watching me right now."

"Ari can turn adults into little children, which, deep down, we all are," Rabbi Karfunkel explains.

With the season of Roll Play wrapped for the season and slated to air in the fall, Ari is busy balancing a hectic schedule of school, auditions and grooming his 3-year-old sister, Ilana, whom Landry has already signed up for her turn in the spotlight.

"I love to work," Ari says. "It's a lot of fun." He pauses and looks up with the precise eye contact of an adult.

"Just not on Saturday. That's my day of rest."

Doc Series Profiles Gay Icons, From Arthur Russell To Derek Jarman

Source: 
www.globeandmail.com - Jennie Punter

(May 16, 2008) The Hot Docs festival may be a fading memory, but docs remain hot at Inside Out. The third largest gay and lesbian film and video festival in the world, after those in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Inside Out opened last night and continues its 18th edition over the next 10 days with several new initiatives - including the well-curated Icon Documentary Series.

Of course, there are interesting docs scattered throughout the festival's program of 250 films from 30 countries: Canadian titles Punch Like A Girl and She's A Boy I Knew; A Jihad for Love, a daring exploration of queer Muslims; and the Family Day free screening tomorrow afternoon of It's Still Elementary: the Movie and the Movement, the follow-up to a 1996 doc about combating gay stereotypes in U.S. schools.

The Icon series is a self-contained unit of six excellent films, focused on figures strongly connected to the visual arts. Inside Out director of programming Jason St-Laurent says the series provides a useful niche within the larger event. "Because we're serving such a diverse and large community, it's important to help people navigate through it and provide a context for viewing work," he explains. "As we're watching 600-plus submissions, we notice certain trends or currents."

The cultural icon idea, St-Laurent admits, speaks to his personal taste and background as a curator for galleries. "I like challenging film and video work, and I'm always interested in artist portraits because people rarely get that kind of insight," he says. Derek, Isaac Julien's exquisite film about artist-filmmaker Derek Jarman, interweaves a revealing, previously unseen 1991 interview and a letter written and narrated by friend Tilda Swinton with archival footage. Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff + Robert Mapplethorpe is a straightforward but solid exploration of the relationship between the influential curator and the famous photographer as told by colleagues and such friends as Patti Smith. And With Gilbert & George offers 18 years of director Julien Cole's footage of the British art stars, who have lived and worked together since the swinging sixties.

The Icon series was cemented when St-Laurent secured the Canadian premieres of Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, about the underrated musical genius whose work spans the experimental and disco genres, and Patti Smith: Dream of Life. The latter film, which won an award for best cinematography at Sundance 2008, is a multilayered, often poetic collaboration between photographer-director Steven Sebring and punk godmother Smith. Filmed over 11 years, after the death of Smith's husband Fred (Sonic) Smith, the doc mingles casual scenes (backstage banter, jamming with Sam Sheppard, supper with the folks) with black-and-white dream sequences and concert footage. But the Icon series isn't all international: It also includes Annette Mangaard's General Idea: Art, AIDS and the fin de siècle, which screened last month at Hot Docs - a look back at the renowned artist collective based in Toronto.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Inside Out Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival runs through May 25 at various downtown venues. Tickets $9 to $12; youth/seniors $7.50. 416-967-1528; http://www.insideout.ca

A bumper crop of premieres

This year's Inside Out features more premieres and sneak peaks than ever. Here are some of the best:

Drifting Flowers (a North American premiere), from rising star director Zero Chou, is a poignant, beautifully wrought film that wraps up three separate but connected "short stories." Three Taiwanese females, each at a different stage of life and at a crucial crossroads, struggle with identity and pangs of love.

May 20, Isabel Bader, 7:30 p.m.

The Witnesses (a Toronto premiere), by French master André Téchiné (Wild Reeds), is an intricate, perfectly paced ensemble piece about friendship, love and loss set against the dawn of AIDS in 1984 Paris.

Fri. May 23, Isabel Bader, 9:45 p.m.

Savage Grace (a Canadian premiere) marks the return of director Tom Kalin 15 years after Swoon (1992), a key film in the New Queer Cinema movement. His latest, based on true events, explores the suffocating, degenerating relationship between the wife (Julianne Moore) of a plastics heir and her son as it unravels over four decades.

May 18, Isabel Bader, 10 p.m.

The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (a Canadian premiere), the feature debut from Icelandic documentarian Olaf de Fleur Johannesson, won the best feature Teddy in Berlin this year for its reality-fiction mix. It tells the story of a transsexual prostitute turned Internet porn star (Raquela playing herself) looking for love in Iceland and Paris.

May 20, ROM, 5:15 p.m.

Finn's Girl (a Toronto premiere), by Canadian duo Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert, is a family drama about a female doctor (Brooke Johnson) who becomes a single mom when her political-activist spouse dies.

May 22, Isabel Bader, 7:30 p.m.

J.P.

Karen Allen Returns To The Blockbuster Franchise As Indy's Love Interest – Just Don't Call It A Comeback

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

(May 17, 2008) CANNES, France–Actors normally dodge talk of a comeback. It implies there was a period where fame and work eluded them.

Karen Allen doesn't play that game. She's been out of the public eye for years and leaves no doubt about her delight at reuniting with Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 27 years after they were first chasing relics in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

"I immediately was just jumping up and down with excitement. They did not have to twist my arm!" she tells the Star while en route to the Cannes Film Festival, where the new Indiana Jones, the fourth in the series, has its world premiere tomorrow.

"I did sort of retire about five or six years ago. I just moved on to do other things because it was what I really wanted to do. So, in a sense, this is the first film work I've done in a while."

And what a comeback this is. The new Indiana Jones – or Indy IV in sequel speak – is expected to be the year's biggest movie. The debut at Cannes, four days before its theatrical release, is considered the highlight of a festival laden with cinema gold.

Allen is once again playing Marion Ravenwood, the tempestuous beauty with the ready smile and the quick wit who charmed the rascal Jones. When they were last seen onscreen together, arm in arm after rescuing the sacred Ark of the Covenant from marauding Nazis, she was 29 and Ford was nearly a decade older. Now she's 56 and he's 65, she's a single mom (one teenaged son) and he's a married dad (several times over), and the two didn't see each other much in the intervening years. Yet it feels something quite like the fun of Raiders all over again.

"It felt familiar and yet brand new," she says of making Indy IV. "We're 20 years older and we're in completely different places in our lives, so there was all the familiarity to make it easy, but it was like there was this whole other person. At the time that we shot Raiders, Harrison had never even been married. (Now he has four children, two grand-kids and an adopted son he's raising with paramour Calista Flockhart.)

"We're all different people in a certain way, and I think in all very positive and good ways, in the sense that becoming parents and being in mature relationships and stuff gives people a nice solid base to come from."

For years, fans have assumed Allen resented the Indiana Jones franchise because she was written out of the series after her debut. The first sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, released in 1984, was set prior to Indy's Raiders adventure with Marion. The lead female role for that film was assigned to Kate Capshaw, later to become the second wife of series director Steven Spielberg. For the second sequel, 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the female lead was played by Alison Doody.

Allen seemed forgotten, but there were no hard feelings on her part. She knew going into Raiders that there were no guarantees, not even for Ford. She at first thought she was making some kind of homage to Casablanca, until Raiders revealed itself as an adventure modelled after old movie serials.

"I went into that one knowing I wouldn't be in those (sequels). When I first was cast, they didn't even have an Indiana Jones. Tom Selleck had been cast and he fell out of the thing because of (the TV series) Magnum P.I.

"They told me from the very beginning when they cast me that my character would be in the first one. They were going to do three and they were going to go backwards in time and Indiana Jones would be in all three, but Marion Ravenwood's character would just be in the first."

The Last Crusade was indeed supposed to be the last crusade for Indiana Jones, until Spielberg, his production partner (and friend) George Lucas and Ford finally settled on a idea they could work with for a third sequel. It involves marauding Russians (led by a blade-twirling Cate Blanchett), South American ruins, space aliens (yes, really) and, um, crystal skulls.

It wasn't a sure thing at first that Allen would be in Indy IV. The teaser trailer for the film, released a few months ago, didn't seem to include her – until fast-fingered Indy freaks, good at hitting the pause button, realized Marion could be spotted in a single frame, driving a Jeep carrying Ford and their other co-star, Shia LaBeouf.

Spielberg and Lucas did try at first to keep Marion's return under wraps, she confirms.

"They've been secretive about it from the very beginning. When Steven called me to do the film it was just one of these wacky things because I was so excited, but then he said, `You can't tell anybody, because we want to keep it a complete secret that you're in the film ...'



"And then once we started to shoot, it was a bit of a drag for me because I was going to be gone for four months, so there were obviously a few people I had to tell. But it's very difficult to be involved in something for four months and have nobody in your life except your son and a couple of close colleagues know where you are and what you're doing. I found it very stressful."

It should be noted Allen hasn't spent the last 27 years waiting for her return as Marion Ravenwood. Her resumé is loaded with movie and TV credits, including parts in King of the Hill, The Perfect Storm, In the Bedroom, Malcolm X and Scrooged.

She's also remembered for playing opposite Jeff Bridges in the 1984 sci-fi hit Starman, a romantic leading role she says brings her as much fan recognition as she gets for Marion Ravenwood.

But in her most recent years, the ones she refers to as her "retirement," Allen has been busy in an entirely different creative endeavour: her own line of knitwear that she calls Karen Allen Fiber Arts. She's as proud of her scarves and sweaters as she is of playing daredevil femmes. That's another reason why talk of making her movie comeback doesn't bother her.

"It's a wonderful story, a really cool story, and not a sad one. I've created this whole creative life for myself that I absolutely adore. Even if I start to work more in films or in theatre, now that my son has gone to college, I will still continue to do this. I've created this design studio, and I have this beautiful line of sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves and things that I design." The line doesn't include fedoras or whips, so she won't be making any items for Indiana Jones anytime soon.

But could she imagine falling in love with a real-life Indy, even knowing what a scoundrel he can be? Allen doesn't hesitate there, either: "Absolutely!"

Quebec Filmmaker Tackles Montreal Massacre

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

(
May 20, 2008) CANNES, France–Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has come to the Cannes Film Festival with a short film about gluttony that has people talking.

Back home in Canada, he's working on a dramatic feature about the 1989 Montreal Massacre that has people holding their breath: "Everybody I know is afraid of the movie," he told the Toronto Star in an exclusive interview.

The short about gluttony is called Next Floor, an 11-minute pantomime of "ritualistic gastronomic carnage," to quote the program notes. The short is screening at the International Critics' Week festival sidebar, which continues through Friday.

It shows 11 gourmands chowing down so aggressively on heaps of meat, fish and other delicacies, they keep crashing through the floors of the multi-level warehouse where they are dining. The most common interpretation of the surreal event is that it's a comment on how humans are rapaciously consuming the Earth's resources to the point of calamity.

The idea for Next Floor came from Phoebe Greenberg, one of the film's producers. Villeneuve said he directed it for "the pure pleasure of making cinema" and also because it's a "relief" from the daunting feature he is currently editing in Montreal.

Called Polytechnique, it dramatizes the Montreal Massacre of Dec. 6, 1989, in which 14 women were killed, and 10 women and four men were injured by deranged gunman Marc Lépine, who claimed he was targeting feminists. He then took his own life.

It's titled for École Polytechnique, an engineering school affiliated with l'Université de Montréal, where the tragedy occurred. The movie, which is in English, was shot earlier this year in Montreal under tight security.

It's scheduled for a 2009 release, marking the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, but it could well debut this fall on the festival circuit, most likely at either the Montreal or Toronto film fests.

"I think it's going to attract a lot of attention," said Villeneuve, 40, in an interview in a restaurant along the Riviera beachfront.

"Some people love the idea; others hate the idea to make a film about such an event. But that's what I like about it. I love those kind of movies that have roots in reality and deal with real events."

Does he think Canadians are ready to see a realistic screen re-creation of one of the darkest moments in the country's history? It's such a touchy topic, the film's producer Don Carmody (Chicago) has refused comment on his own production.

"That's a good question that I can't answer just by the movie," said Villeneuve, who is known for his visual flair from earlier films Maelström and 32nd Day of August on Earth.

"I think everybody's afraid; everybody I know is afraid of the movie. But so far the people who have seen it are relieved. They say, `Okay, that was a good idea because of the angle you chose and the feeling you get after it.' I don't know if the audience is going to like it, but I'm doing it because it's a subject that touched me a lot."

In what way did it touch him? He thinks different generations reacted differently to the massacre, and there were different responses to the killer's avowed anti-feminist agenda.

"At the time I was the same age as the people who went through this event. I know there was a lot of misunderstanding between generations from the people who lived it and the older generation that judged the people. They judge the men because they say the men did nothing and they judge the women because they say the women said they were not feminists (to try to avoid being shot)."

While the work is technically a work of fiction – real names of victims aren't used – Villeneuve has tried to make it as historically accurate as possible. He talked to survivors and also to police officers, doctors, teachers and other students who responded to the attack, and who attended to the dead and wounded.

He doesn't shy away from the horror. "There's a lot of violence in the movie. If you want to understand what happened you have to see what they've been through, what I tried to portray."

Yet at the same time, Villeneuve said he's tried to be very subtle in his approach. He insisted he's not trying to exploit anyone, but instead wants to offer consolation.

"I think the movie has to deal with consolation for those people. I'm making the movie for the students of Polytechnique who went through that day."

It is told from the perspective of the victims, and not from that of Lépine, who is played by actor Maxim Gaudette, 33. Gaudette was in the cast of Les 3 p'tits cochons (The 3 Li'l Pigs), a comedy smash last year in Quebec.

Polytechnique sounds a lot like Elephant, the dramatic re-creation of the 1999 Columbine school shootings that won Gus Van Sant both the Palme d'Or and the directing prize at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. Villeneuve doesn't deny the influence.

"Elephant for me is a masterpiece. I loved it, but at one point I said, 'F--- Gus Van Sant!' in my head because I wouldn't be able to do Polytechnique. It's like trying to make a war movie after Apocalypse Now. So you say f--- off and you do your own interpretation of it, although it's basically the same universe of students going through violence."

Whatever the reaction is to Polytechnique, Villeneuve wants people to know that he has approached the topic with the best of artistic intentions.

"I did it with a lot of humility. It's not a film that I came to with a lot of ego."

India's Reliance Plans Movies With Hollywood Stars

Source: www.thestar.com -
The Associated Press

(
May 19, 2008) MUMBAI, India – India's Reliance Big Entertainment has signed deals with the production houses of top Hollywood stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Nicholas Cage to co-produce movies, the company said Monday.

The media group will provide about $1 billion to develop and co-produce films in Hollywood, company chairman Amit Khanna told The Associated Press.

The company has signed separate deals with George Clooney's Smokehouse Productions, Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, Nicolas Cage's Saturn Productions, Tom Hanks' Playtone Productions, Jim Carrey's JC 23 Entertainment, as well as filmmakers Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures and Jay Roach's Everyman Pictures, Khanna said.

"We hope to have 30 scripts from which we are looking at 10 films from this slate over the next couple of years," Khanna said when reached by phone in Cannes where the company announced the deals.

There would be different genres of films with different financing structures, he said.

"The bigger stars have a first-look deal with Hollywood studios, so the deals could range from co-production to working with the studios," he said.

Reliance Big Entertainment is the media arm of $100 billion conglomerate Reliance ADA Group, which also has interests in telecommunications and power.

It is owned by India's leading industrialist Anil Ambani, who was listed as the world's sixth richest person by Forbes this year.

Over the past two years, India's movie houses have signed several co-production deals with foreign studios, such as Sony and Walt Disney.

Billionaire financier George Soros bought 3 per cent of Reliance Big Entertainment for $100 million in February in a sign of growing interest in Indian entertainment companies.

FILM TIDBITS

Clark Johnson Working On Film With NY Kids

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(May 15, 2008) *Actor-director Clark Johnson ("The Wire," "The Sentinel") is teaming with nine New York youngsters to film a short about youth and masculinity.   The film, "Misunderstood," was written by teens attending the High School of Graphic Communication Arts in Manhattan and was the winner of Scenarios USA's "What's the Real Deal About Masculinity?" scriptwriting contest.    Johnson will work with a crew of film pros to shoot on location in New York, reports Variety. After completion, Johnson and the nine participants will edit the work together.   The film is scheduled for a winter premiere alongside projects from writers and directors of winning scripts filming in Cleveland, Ohio and Texas. The films will be distributed to high schools and community groups nationwide, streamed on the Internet and shown on TV.    "Misunderstood" is produced by Scenarios USA, a non-profit that uses filmmaking to foster youth leadership, advocacy and self-expression in under-served teens.

Fishburne To Helm, Produce And Star In 'Alchemist'

Source: www.eurweb.com

(
May 20, 2008) *Laurence Fishburne is teaming with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein to bring Paulo Coelho's 1988 novel "The Alchemist" to the big screen in a $60 million-plus adaptation, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The best-selling book tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, who while traveling the world in search of treasure meets an alchemist, to be played by Fishburne. The actor will also direct and produce. The project had been in development at Warner Bros for years, but Weinstein swooped in and picked up all rights, and will personally produce the film for the Weinstein Co, the trade reported.  "This is one of those great turnaround situations," Weinstein said of the project's long gestation. "The book means so much to people on a spiritual level, and there is an exciting love story, action." He also said, "I think there is a bridge to the Middle East in this story.  Weinstein plans to bring on a screenwriter and launch a casting search for the roles of Santiago and Fatima, the woman with whom the young man falls in love.

::TV NEWS::

Natasha Eloi Lands The Job Of A Lifetime With SpaceTV

Source:   www.swaymag.ca - By: Kristine Maitland

SHE’S THE FACE that Trekkers, Star Wars fiends and Battlestar Galactica aficionados have come to know and love. Canadian
Natasha Eloi has carved out her niche as Toronto’s resident sci-fi queen — but it hasn’t been an easy ascent into the heavens. Sway spoke with the cosmic girl while on location in Toronto.

Sway: Let’s start at the beginning — you went to Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute. Didn’t Mike Myers go there?

Eloi: My teacher, Howard Gross, would let new students who entered the radio and television program know this was the school that Mike Myers got his start in. And there are other [alumni] before him: Dominic Sciullo, the original videographer for CityTV — he was an instrumental mentor for me.

S: Did you become a TV intern during that high-school period?

E: Yes. In your last semester you are asked where you want to go and you are given three options. Given my short blonde hair, leather jacket and 18-hole steel toe boots was not the most conservative appearance, I chose CityTV. The school gave me the telephone number, and I had to do the legwork and I got in.

S: I find it funny that in order to get in front of the camera you had to hold it.

E: I never wanted to be in front of the camera, originally.

S: No?

E: No, that wasn’t in the game plan. I wanted to be a cameraperson. I took different roots from my internships to landing on the LiveEye, being one of the first women on it. I just did everything I had to from pulling cable to dragging equipment. I wanted the truck and I wanted the camera, but it didn’t happen that way. I ended up getting the camera, but it was attached to the LiveEye truck; so I was allowed to shoot, but it was always live. I never got the camera until I came to SpaceTelevision and to get the camera I had to be in front of the camera too.

S: So when did you come to Space?

E: In January 2000. When I was first hired for Space, it was to be the SpaceNews videographer. My background is technical. Truth be known, I was not good at science in school, but I am not one to let obstacles interfere or hinder me so I put the demo together. When I got the job, I had to ask myself if I wanted it as I was in my comfort zone doing news. It was literally my university, the University of Moses [Znaimer], but you’ve got to leave the nest and prove that you can do what you have been trained to do.

S: Pam Grier is one of your role models. Like you, she initially did not intend to be in front of the camera.

E: Really! When I meet new up-and-coming young women who are coming into this industry, I tell them to learn how television is made. Being in front of that camera is the cherry on top of the cake. Now, myself as a videographer, I have done well — I understand the full circle of how that works.

DeGeneres, de Rossi Engaged After California Ruling

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

(
May 16, 2008) Los Angeles — Ellen DeGeneres and long-time girlfriend Portia de Rossi are jumping at the chance to get married.

DeGeneres announced their engagement during a Thursday taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, telling the studio audience the news that the California Supreme Court had struck down state laws against gay marriage.

“So I would like to say now, for the first time, I am announcing: I am getting married,” she said during the show, airing Friday.

The studio audience leapt to its feet for a long ovation, and De Rossi ( Ally McBeal, Nip/Tuck) was sitting in the audience, beaming and clapping.

Then DeGeneres cracked: “Thank you. I'll tell you who the lucky guy is soon.”

The court ruling means same-sex couples could tie the knot in as little as a month. However, religious and social conservatives are seeking to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would undo the Supreme Court ruling and ban gay marriage.

DeGeneres, 50, has boldly used TV before to make a stand for gay rights.

In 1997, she brought her character on the ABC sitcom Ellen out of the closet, making the show the first on prime-time network TV to have an openly gay lead. The move drew cheers from gay civil rights organizations but was condemned by some religious groups.

A month before, DeGeneres had proclaimed from the cover of Time magazine that she was a lesbian.

DeGeneres, 50, and the glamorous de Rossi, 35, have been a familiar couple at Hollywood events, including the Academy Awards. Previously, DeGeneres had a high-profile relationship with actress Anne Heche.

In a 2005 interview with Allure magazine, the comedian said she hoped she and de Rossi are “together the rest of our lives.”

“I never would have thought my life would have turned out this way,” DeGeneres told the magazine. “To have money. Or to have a gorgeous girlfriend. I just feel so lucky with everything in my life right now.”

TV TIDBITS

Rupaul To Host New Reality Series

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(May 16, 2008) *Noted drag queen
RuPaul, best known for his 1993 hit "Supermodel (You Better Work)," will host a new reality competition series for MTV Networks' gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-themed channel Logo. Titled "RuPaul's Drag Race." The show will feature contestants competing to become "America's next superstar drag queen.  RuPaul will serve as host, mentor and judge, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Online voters will help pick one of the contestants at http://www.RuPaulsDragRace.com.    The hour-long, six-episode series is expected to debut on Logo's digital cable channel early next year.

::THEATRE NEWS::

 David Alvarez, 14, Cast In Much Heralded Stage Adaptation Of Billy Elliot

Source:  www.thestar.com - Susan Walker,
Dance Writer

(May 17, 2008) NEW YORK–It's a ballet dancer's story with an appropriately dramatic beginning that bodes well for the future of 14-year-old David Alvarez, cast last month in one of Broadway's biggest roles.

David is one of three performers picked to play the lead in Billy Elliot when it opens in previews Oct. 1 in New York. The role will be his, he says, "until I grow too tall or my voice changes."

He seems mighty calm amid all the attention he has been getting for snatching such a big role. (The other two Billys are 13-year-old New Yorker Trent Kowalik and 14-year-old Kiril Kulish from San Diego.)

The role is huge, requiring the actor/dancer to be in almost every scene and demanding a voice strong enough for some big numbers. The triple-threat Billys will alternate in New York to save their legs and larynxes. David will spend the next few months with classes in acrobatics, tap dancing, acting and singing.

The tale of his showbiz ascension begins before he was born, probably not even dreamed of, when parents David and Yanek arrived at Montreal's Mirabel airport in the fall of 1993 bearing only temporary visas.

"We were travelling on an Air Cubana plane so we were still in Cuban territory," David Sr. recalls. This was the time called "the special period" in Cuba, after its economy collapsed following dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of support for Castro's government.

The Alvarezes met an acquaintance of Yanek's and held a little conference in the plane's washroom.

"We were so afraid. We had not planned to defect." The Cuban woman advised them that Canada would treat them well if they applied to land as political refugees.

Yanek, a theatre director, and David père, a biochemistry student accompanying his wife to a theatrical job in Montreal, approached an immigration officer with their intentions and all went well. "Immigration Canada were very good with us," says David's proud mother at an interview in the Billy Elliot public relations office.

After the couple settled in Montreal, David's father attended McGill University and earned his PhD. David was born on May 11, 1994, not long after his Cuban-born big sister joined them in Canada.

The boy showed talent from the start and, by the age of 8, was enrolled in classes with Montreal's Ballet Divertimento. When the family moved to San Diego after his father was transferred there, David continued to take classes.

It was in ballet school in California that he earned his first significant notice. One among hundreds of boys and girls auditioned by the recently opened Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre in Manhattan, David earned a full merit scholarship and entered the school two years ago. His parents and younger sister have relocated to New York as well.

David has seen the 2000 hit movie Billy Elliot and went to watch the stage show as soon as he arrived in London last weekend. Billy Elliot The Musical, directed by Stephen Daldry with music and lyrics by Elton John, was a megahit from its 2005 opening in the West End.

The feel-good movie turned musical is a rags-to-ballet-slippers story with which any boy in tights can identify. In the original screenplay by Lee Hall, Billy Elliot is an 11-year-old living in a mining town in northern England. The year is 1984 and the region is crippled by a miners strike. Billy's father and brother are on the picket line. He's sent to boxing lessons but, hating that, joins the ballet class. The male members of his family thoroughly disapprove, but he defies convention, secretly training for an audition with the Royal Ballet school.

The Canadian Billy says the story was not entirely alien to him. "My family is very supportive," he says, "but people think ballet should be for girls, and boys should just play sports like soccer, hockey, football. So I had to deal with that a lot."

Like his fictional alter ego, David knows how much hard training and persistence can pay off. He was one of 1,500 young Americans who tried out for Billy Elliot in eight cities last year over a gruelling series of auditions to demonstrate dancing, acting and singing.

In the end, he says, a member of the casting team told him they had picked him from the first time he was seen at an open call.

David's professional career has already launched. In 2007, he danced with American Ballet Theatre as the Garland Boy in The Sleeping Beauty and took to the huge stage of the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington as Fritz in The Nutcracker. Asked what he does best, the stage-loving dancer admits to concentrating on technique. "I think I have many things I'm good at."

At the 92nd Street Y School of Music, he is a scholarship student in classical piano. "I also want to be a composer and a choreographer," says the dancer, who made a small ballet for a school show in California. He made his singing debut with "Where is Love" from Oliver! in a master class with Broadway performer Victoria Clark.

Not surprisingly, National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Guillaume Côté, also a musician and composer, is one of David's role models. His other ballet idols are Fernando Bujones, the Cuban-born ballet star who died in 2005, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and, of course, the Cuban American dancers Carlos Acosta and Jose Manuel Carreno.

An all-A student for whom English is his third language, David is home-schooled while he's taking ballet classes. His soft-spoken but confident presence says a lot about how natural talent, when properly nurtured and driven by a will to perfection, can produce very young stars indeed.

When the voice begins to crack, expect to see David Alvarez front and centre in a ballet company.

People With Sway - d’bi.young

Source:  www.swaymag.c

POWERFUL BECAUSE... To understand
d’bi.young.anitafrika’s power, you have to see her perform. Strong, passionate and revolutionary, anitafrika is well-known for her dub poetry, richly layered poetry and dynamic theatre performances.

Her current projects include completing the second and third plays from her biomyth-trilogy, three faces of mudgu sankofa: androgyne, a poetic two-hander and word!sound!powah, a dub opera (blood.claat: one womban story was anitafrika’s first piece).

And her power continues. As one of Canada’s most exciting artists, last year she won the 2007 Toronto Arts Council Foundation Emerging Artist award and recently released her second print collection of poetry, rivers and other blackness between us.

However, it has been the evolution from performing to mentoring Toronto youth in dub theatre (urban griots of t-dot and other projects) last summer that anitafrika admits has brought her life full circle.

POWER IS...

“I see myself as extremely powerful. I think we all are. I think to recognize one’s power is even more important, particularly when we are living in a society that glorifies apathy, so it’s very important to not only recognize your power but put it to some sort of use.

Occupying the space as a leader, teacher and elder is one of the most beautiful things about growing older. You recognize you are learning from those who came before you and from those who came after. I turned 30 in December and to recognize that as an induction into this new role of power called ‘eldership’ is an incredible process. It’s really important to teach and as you teach you learn. You not only get to realize the value of yourself, but you get to know the value of yourself in relation to community.” – S.S.

Nikki M. James Takes On A Classic

Source:   www.swaymag.ca - By: Pamella Bailey

AT 26, NEW YORK’S
Nikki M. James faces one of her most challenging roles as a star-crossed lover in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, opening at this year’s Stratford Festival. With the company’s prestigious reputation both at home and south of the border, and her first time performing in a play by the Bard, James admits the task is a daunting one. But not to worry, this performer is up for any challenge.

A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, James has shown an affinity with the stage since the age of five, when she belted out Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” at her kindergarten graduation. Growing up in New Jersey, just minutes from Manhattan’s plethora of Broadway shows, James fell in love with musical theatre and spent her teens performing in talent shows and community theatre.

While her career has included television roles on Law and Order and Third Watch, James is most known for her work onstage. Her most exciting role to date was a funked up, retelling of The Wiz at La Jolla Playhouse, where she played the coveted role of Dorothy, winning the San Diego Theater Critics Circle award for Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical. The Wiz was directed by Des McAnuff, one of the current artistic directors of the Stratford Festival. His encouragement led James to audition for the role of Juliet.

“As an actor, you find directors who you really click with and can get great performances out of you and that you want to work for again,” says James. “He asked me to audition, but I still worked my butt off to get the job.” Under McAnuff’s direction, James is finding the rhythm of Shakespeare, using her musical background as a basis.

“Language is poetry. It has a rhythm that you have to honour… If you think of the text as rhythm, you understand when you can and cannot fall off the beat, and how you need to drive through the verse to get to the bridge. You need to take it piece by piece to build up to the different layers, rather than being paralyzed at the idea of doing Shakespeare.”

People With Sway – trey anthony

Source:  www.swaymag.c

POWERFUL BECAUSE... Last year was a groundbreaking one for Toronto funny woman trey anthony. With her new play I Am Not A Dinner Mint in production and Da Kink In My Hair on London stages, anthony brought her principled beliefs in power to her role as executive producer and co-creator for her groundbreaking television show Da Kink in My Hair. Black, queer and feminist, anthony is only too pleased to break new ground.

POWER IS...

“I use my power to ensure we have people of colour in the writing room and on staff. For me, it’s about trying to say that I’m here and this is my opportunity to let other people in.” – J.A.B.

::OTHER NEWS::

People With Sway - Austin Clarke

Source:  www.swaymag.c

POWERFUL BECAUSE...
Austin Clarke is a literary giant in the Canadian and international arts world.

His novel, The Polished Hoe, won the 2002 Giller Prize, the 2003 Trillium Prize, the 2003 Commonwealth Literary Prize for Best Book and the 2004 Torgi Literary Award (by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind).

Known for his richly textured prose mixed with cultural and Caribbean nuances of the immigrant experience, he has inspired generations of young authors to dare to tell their own stories. Always working and writing, Clarke’s next novel More, will be released early this year by publisher Thomas Allen.

Born and schooled in Barbados, Clarke immigrated to Canada in 1955 to study at the University of Toronto. After leaving university to work as a journalist and broadcaster, he says he struggled to find his place and style as a journalist at various newspapers. After being fired from The Globe and Mail for making a mistake covering a local board meeting, he turned his attention towards writing his first novel.

The world couldn’t be more thankful.

POWER IS...

“Well, assuming that I have power, I would think my love of language, especially narrative, is where I have found my best, most peaceful moments. If I could analyze [my power] at all, it would be in my writing …. The biggest pleasure is to see and recognize that you have written something that is beautiful. That is how I judge my work.” – S.S.

People With Sway - Jean Augustine

Source:   www.swaymag.ca

POWERFUL BECAUSE... Jean Augustine is a political trailblazer. In 1993, the Grenada-born school principal was the first African-Canadian woman elected to the Parliament of Canada. Responsible for Black History Month being recognized officially throughout Canada, Augustine is now leading the way as Ontario’s first Fairness Co-Commissioner, responsible for identifying and removing barriers for new immigrants to Canada.

POWER IS...

“Power is the ability to move with people and to move people. I am going to go back to an old saying: if you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, take others with you. And so, I always take others with me.

I think I get my power from within. They say that there are some things that have to come from the inside. I get power from the fact that I came to this country knowing exactly who I was with my self-esteem intact. I learned very early that people cannot put you down, you put yourself down.” – S.S

Comic/Entrepreneur Hopes To Challenge Yuk Yuk's Domination Of The Comedy Scene

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

(May 18, 2008) There's a new joker on Toronto's comedy scene who plans one day to challenge the king.

With a new venue opening and a couple of others closing, Toronto's standup comedy map is changing, as is Canada's, with clubs opening, closing or rebranding themselves. And at the centre of it all, inevitably, is the chain that has dominated the country for decades: Mark Breslin's Yuk Yuk's. Though the chain has outlasted legal battles and former competitors alike over the years, Ottawa comic/entrepreneur
Jason Laurans says he hopes to challenge the chain's domination in the GTA by giving comedians, in the immortal words of Rodney Dangerfield, "a little respect."

Laurans opened the Absolute Comedy club, his second, on Yonge St. near Eglinton six months ago. With The Laugh Resort's future uncertain after 18 years in business, that could leave the new club going head to head against Yuk Yuk's flagship club in the Entertainment district.

The new club – in a former Yuk Yuk's location – has been picking up steam since its November opening at a pace surpassing the successful Ottawa club Laurans opened in 2004.

"I'm always ambitious. I would say my ambition is to see how this goes. If this goes well, it would prove that my system works and definitely I would like to move forward," said Laurans, a thirtysomething standup comic with a degree in biochemistry.

A former Yuk Yuk's comic himself, Laurans says he aims to outdo the Yuk Yuk's chain, which also has GTA clubs in Mississauga, Vaughan and Ajax, by providing the comics with free accommodation and amenities at a nearby condo.

Laurans says the idea came from his own experience working for Yuk Yuk's a decade ago when a gig in Toronto meant a five-hour drive, no travel expenses and scrambling to find a place to sleep.

"I worked at Yuk Yuk's for 10 years and when I had to work in Toronto, I had to find my own accommodations. I had to stay on a couch at a friend's house. I slept in my car in an underground parking lot in Toronto once (after) doing a show," Laurans recalls.

He says he also doesn't require performers to sign contracts that might restrict their ability to work elsewhere, a policy that landed Yuk Yuk's in trouble with the federal Competition Bureau in 1994.

"I don't have contracts with employees. I only have contracts for the weeks that they work. That's it," Laurans says.

Veteran comic Doug Funk, another ex-Yuk Yuk's standup, says the club chain's policy on working for competitors is one of the reasons he left.

"The idea (at Yuk Yuk's) is that you won't work for anybody else, which doesn't really sit well with me and other people as well. There are a lot of guys who work for Yuk Yuk's who get a good chunk of work and some of them are my friends and God bless them, you know," Funk says.

Still, he prefers Laurans' approach.

"(Laurans) is determined to make a good club and to treat people fairly. It's a mature vibe – you're a grownup. You're not being treated like comedian sausage 24. It's a healthy environment. It's a lot of fun," Funk says.

"If I were going to put my money on a horse, it would definitely be Jason Laurans because of his tenacity. ... He's a guy that goes out and gets what he wants," Funk adds.

Jim VanderBerg, owner of The Laugh Resort, says the club's location at the Holiday Inn on King St. W. may close since the hotel has been purchased by the Hyatt chain. VanderBerg says he's looking for a new locale, though the high cost of rent may prevent it from being in downtown Toronto.

VanderBerg estimates that as a result of the Yuk Yuk's contract policy, about 35 to 40 per cent of comics work there exclusively while the rest work for independent clubs like his.

"Can we pick from all the comics in Canada working in clubs? Nope, nobody can. But we get to pick from more than (Yuk Yuk's founder Mark Breslin) can," VanderBerg says.

Ed Smeall, owner of Giggles Comedy Agency, has been booking comics since the 1970s. He says he left Yuk Yuk's – for the second time – a few years back, taking many standup comics with him, in part over his frustration with Breslin's contract policy.

"It stifles the industry. It's a very short-term way of thinking," Smeall says.

Laurans' greater openness has worked in Ottawa, Smeall says.

"In Ottawa, (Laurans) set up a room where no one ever thought anyone could knock Yuk Yuk's out of the number one spot and he clearly has," Smeall adds.

But Breslin makes no apologies for how he runs his business, including how he signs new talent.

"One of the first things people do in a free market is that they band together for mutual protection. And that's what all the comics who work with us have done. So whatever the comics who don't want to do that . . . they're free to do whatever they want to do, they are totally free," Breslin says.

While he acknowledges the controversy with the Competition Bureau years ago, "our position is that the landscape has changed so radically in the comedy business, that we have competition in just about every major city that we're in now so it's not really an issue anymore," Breslin says.

But 30 years after Yuk Yuk's opened its first club in Yorkville, the chain is dealing with controversy and the vagaries of the market.

Franchise operators in Calgary and Edmonton have sought to break away from the chain, leading to a court battle. It was exacerbated earlier this year when the club owners launched a defamation suit against Breslin.

"It's a contractual dispute. We have an exit strategy for all our franchisees," Breslin says. "Divorces do happen, but you can't kind of just grab the kids and run to mom. You have to play out that exit strategy as negotiated and as signed. That's what this is about and that's why we're suing them."

The chain has openings for franchises in Windsor and Moncton, N.B. after clubs there failed.

But Breslin is also upbeat, pointing to the imminent opening of a new club in St. John's and the success of relatively new franchises in Vaughan and Niagara Falls.

Breslin says he set out to "revolutionize" the comedy club business in Canada three decades ago and has succeeded, creating a chain of successful operations while fighting for free speech rights – even when that means paying the legal fees of entertainers.

"When you want to revolutionize things, you shake things up and when you shake things up, people don't like it," says Breslin, who admits he has no shortage of detractors.

"You have to develop a tough skin and I've got the skin of a rhino after all this time."

People With Sway - Kofi Hope

Source:   www.swaymag.ca

POWERFUL BECAUSE... Kofi Hope has always used his voice to speak out. Last year the UofT student was founder of the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence, impressing many with his passionate battle against gun violence. After winning a Rhodes scholarship, Hope is currently studying African studies at Oxford University.

POWER IS...

“I’m not really interested in personal power; I’m interested in strength. Strength to stand up for what’s right, strength to stay true to my values, strength to speak the truth when no one wants to hear it and finally strength to resist the way power is abused in our society.” – C.P.

People With Sway - Michael Thompson

Source:   www.swaymag.ca

POWERFUL BECAUSE... When
Michael Thompson wants to create change, he simply speaks up. As city councillor for Scarborough Centre since 2003, and as Toronto’s only black councillor, his hard work and perseverance has brought light and attention to the troubling issue of rising violence in the city, leading to some of his recommendations being incorporated into the mayor’s Community Action Plan. The plan brought forward a GTA-wide police task force on guns and gangs, an increase in the numbers of police officers on the street and a new young offender program designed to divert young people into jobs instead of jail.

POWER IS...

“Bringing people together from all different backgrounds to recognize common values to improve everyone’s outcome. It’s the ability to effect change.” – A.L.

Female-Friendly Mags Continue To Dominate Canadian Market

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
James Adams

(
May 20, 2008) Magazines for female readers, and the advertisers who purvey products and services aimed at those readers, continue to dominate the Canadian magazine market, according to an analysis of revenues in 2007 completed recently by industry watchdog, Masthead magazine.

Total revenue for the country's top 10 magazines last year was $300.3-million, a 3-per-cent increase from 2006, according to the report, to be published this week in Masthead's May-June issue.

At the same time, no new magazines broke into the 2007 top 10. Only one switch-around occurred between 2006 and last year, with Quebec's female lifestyle magazine Coup de Pouce rising to ninth place from 10th, while another Quebec publication, the supermarket weekly 7 Jours, dropped to 10th from ninth.

However, 7 Jours remained the box-office champion on newsstands, earning almost $10-million on the racks, the most of any of the top 10 periodicals.

In fact, 7 Jours's newsstand total almost equalled the combined newsstand revenue (of $10.5-million) enjoyed last year by the top five revenue performers among Canadian magazines.

Toronto-based Chatelaine, a perennial top-10 performer, and now published 13 times a year, was once again the top Canadian money-maker, revenue-wise, in 2007, earning $59.2-million, up 3 per cent from 2006; 87 per cent of Chatelaine's 2007 revenues came from advertisers. Number-two-ranked Canadian Living, a monthly, had gross revenues of $50.1-million, up about 9 per cent from 2006, with 80 per cent derived from advertising.

Reader's Digest, traditionally the country's top performer by circulation, finished third in the revenue category, with $39.2-million, up about 4 per cent.

The monthly has always had a strong subscription base, and last year about 46 per cent of its total gross revenue ($18.2-million) came from that stream, the highest in the top 10.

Maclean's, the weekly newsmagazine, held onto fourth place, with $37-million, a modest increase of about $700,000 from 2006. Much of that increase could be attributed to action at the newsstand, where a single copy currently retails for $6.95. In 2006, the weekly grossed $1.3-million from newsstands; last year the total was almost $1.8-million. Placing fifth, as it did in 2006, was another Toronto-based magazine with a female bent, Canadian House & Home. According to Masthead, its gross revenues in 2007 were $23.5-million, down about $700,000, with an estimated 78 per cent of its total coming from advertisers.

The remaining five in the top 10 for 2007 were, in descending order: newsweekly Time ($21-million, a 9-per-cent drop from 2006); fashion-orientated Flare ($19-million, up 14 per cent); Châtelaine, the francophone equivalent of the popular English title ($18.1-million, an 8-per-cent increase); Coupe de Pouce ($17.1-million, up 6 per cent); and 7 Jours ($16.1-million, down 3 per cent).

::SPORTS NEWS::

People With Sway - Akil Augustine

Source:   www.swaymag.ca

POWERFUL BECAUSE...
Akil Augustine gets excited when he talks about the young basketball talent bursting out of Toronto.

And Augustine (pictured left), a sports journalist and producer for NBAXL and creator of Screen Savior Entertainment, with clients like Maple Leaf Sports and Raptors NBATV, knows his basketball.

Five years ago, he teamed up with star basketball player and King of Toronto street ball champ Vidal Massiah to create The Hoop Factory, a high-intensity premier development camp for young basketball players, like Keaton Cole, 18, pictured right, who will be attending Western Carolina University in the fall.

Now, with a number of their players making the jump to Division I schools in the United States, an All-Star All Canada tournament set for the spring and a trip planned to Senegal to shoot a National Film Board documentary with the players, it’s safe to say it’s become more of a movement than a basketball camp.

POWER IS...

“We have the power to help the next generation of Canadian basketball players, and that’s a power you can’t take for granted and you have to take seriously.

I’m proudest of the kids we have worked with and what they have made themselves into. It’s amazing seeing them get scholarships – an education – from the game of basketball.” – S.S.

People With Sway - Jamaal Magloire

Source:   www.swaymag.ca

POWERFUL BECAUSE... After making history at Toronto’s famed Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute and finding great success with the Kentucky Wildcats,
Jamaal Magloire overcame the odds and entered the NBA as a first-round draft pick. After eight years in the NBA, this former All-Star remains connected to Toronto through his Youth Deserve a Chance to Dream charity and his Ontario Basketball Association youth rep team, the JAMBA Cats. His recent move to the Dallas Mavericks is another big boost to the career of this NBA big man, who continues to dream of an NBA championship.

POWER IS...

“Power is being respected in your community and trying to educate and empower the people around you. I say that because being able to help others and being able to get respect from others is very important. Power is not always something physical. On the court, power is being able to make a difference for your team in a game.

One of my mentors was Simeon Mars because of the trials and tribulations that he has been through playing basketball. Knowing him as my coach at Eastern Commerce, as a coach at Kentucky and as a personal mentor, I respect his demeanour, his professionalism and the way he goes about his day-to-day operations — very calm, cool and collected.” – C.P.

::DANCE NEWS::

Toronto Stage Institution Goes Out With A Bang With Show Celebrating 30 Years Of His Dance Company

Source:  www.thestar.com - Susan Walker,
Dance Writer

(May 18, 2008) The arthritic knees are a constant, painful reminder of how high and how often Danny Grossman used to jump, how many times he dove to the floor or did daredevil lifts.

"They're fine," he says, easing up out of his chair to get some relief for his creaking joints. "They just don't want to bend that far."

Delving into his archives to produce Vanishing Acts, an installation celebrating 30 years of Danny Grossman & Company, has shown him why his knees hurt.

"Yes, we've got the videos to prove it," says Pamela Grundy, Grossman's co-artistic director and a dancer who has spent the past 25 years with the company. She has been working hard on the logistics and content of an event that will usher in a new era for Grossman, 65, and his associates.

The show is not just an end to the company as a creating and performing entity. It marks the beginning of a Grossman foundation and institute for preserving, documenting, teaching and producing pieces from a repertoire of more than 40 dances. The company has established partnerships with schools and other companies and plans to expand the market for Grossman's oeuvre with the latest methods of notation and documentation.

Opening Wednesday in the Fermenting Cellar at the Distillery District, Vanishing Acts is a performance, an exhibit and a party. Those who come to wander through the four exhibition areas watch the excerpts from Danny's dances, and belly up to the bar – the altar from Passion Symphony – will get a glimpse of what a dance museum might look like.

Historic footage will reel out on two large screens showing Grossman favourites from the distant past, such as Higher, National Spirit, Nobody's Business or Bella. With Curious Schools of Theatrical Dancing, the plan is to show a clip of Grossman working on the 1977 dance in his old studio on King St., where you can see the broken mirror and the industrial windows.

At another station, a talk-show host with a sofa will be ready to record anecdotes from anyone ready to tell them. During a fashion show, dancers will do a three-minute turn on the catwalk in garments such as a fiery Martinique yellow dress festooned with hot peppers from the 1991 dance Carnival.

Four imaginary galleries in the Fermenting Cellar will be devoted to the life and times of Grossman, a demonstration of computer notation of Grossman works, sets, costumes, contributions from outside choreographers and the company's amazing lineage of contemporary dancers. There have not been many permanent members over the last 30 years. Quite a few, such as Eddie Kastrau and Andrea Nann, stayed for 15 years or more. "It was a family," Grundy says.

Family is the social unit Grossman best understands. Loving son of a pair of politically active left-wing professionals in San Francisco, he explodes in raucous laughter as he's reminded of scenes from his past and photos of his parents at political rallies and demonstrations.

Grossman remembers a lot about his 10 years dancing with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York, before coming to Canada in 1973 to teach at York University. He was still young and his knees very flexible when he overheard an older dancer who was famous for her jumps responding to Paul Taylor's request that she do one in rehearsal. "She said, `I've got about 300 of that particular jump left in me. Would you like to see it now or in the performance?'"

As the two artistic directors reminisce about the past and wax enthusiastic about the future in the space above the Grossman studio at 509 Parliament St., it's clear they have a vision for preserving 20th-century dance for generations to come.

"You know the importance of all this stuff to the culture as a whole," Grundy says. "You want to document that."

If people are inspired to start searching their attics, basements or storage lockers and get a movement going to open a theatre/dance museum in Toronto, she'll feel her work has done some good.

This isn't going to be an ugly termination or a slow fade into oblivion for the company if the two artistic directors have anything to say about it.

Vanishing Acts: The Odyssey and Audacity of Danny Grossman & Company runs from Wednesday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Fermenting Cellar, the Distillery District. For tickets, from $25 to $100, call 416-973-4000.

Indian Students From Remote Reserve Work For Months On Hip-Hop Show

Source: www.thestar.com - Susan Walker,
Dance Writer

(May 21, 2008) No matter which way you interpret it, Outside Looking In is a bold experiment in cross-societal awareness. Toronto gets to look in on a community most city folk would never have a chance to experience.

Teens from Northern Ontario get to perform in Canada's largest urban centre, a city most are seeing for the first time.

Most of the five dancers coming from Lac La Croix, an Ojibwa Indian reserve four hours into the woods outside Thunder Bay, had never been on an airplane before they arrived in Toronto two weeks ago.

Tonight, on the stage of the Bluma Appel Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre, they will dance in a hip-hop show before about 400 people, including about 50 members of their own community who are flying in for the performance.

For all of them, it will be the first time in a professional dance show.

Nine months ago, they didn't know anything about dancing for the concert stage. Tracee Smith, Toronto dancer, choreographer, MBA candidate and enterprising show producer worked with them over a long, cold winter in their school gymnasium in the tiny lakeside community of 400 people.

They learned their routines, danced every day, kept up their school work and now Kevin Atatise, Lance Geyshick, Shantelle Geyshick, Cody Berry Ottertail and Jennifer Geyshick are doing their first professional gig. They will dance with some seasoned dancers picked for their ability to work with youth.

Hectic. Tiring. Chaotic. Those are some of the adjectives the students have applied to their time in Toronto, a city as far removed from their everyday experience as you can get. And what have they learned?

"To suck it up," says Cody, of whenever things don't go the way they'd hoped. "Self-confidence," says Shantelle. Smith went up to the reserve every few weeks during the nine-month preparation period, but two of their schoolteachers, Maureen and Carla, have been rehearsing them all winter. Some students dropped out, or their marks fell too far for them to qualify for the final cut.

"They called us robots. Tracee's robots," says Kevin. But for those who persevered and performed in the show for the community at Lac La Croix last month, the reward was seeing how their family members were moved to tears and their peers reduced to awe.

"It's been a whirlwind," says Smith. "I didn't expect the project to grow so fast.

"I had to wear about 10 hats. It's a lot of work, but it's absolutely amazing to see how far they have come and how much these kids have grown. They're not so shy. They've been meeting new people all the time, which is something they don't do at home. They're meeting people on the street, going through revolving doors over and over again. It's been an amazing journey."

The multimedia jazz/hip-hop show intercuts live dance with video of life in Lac La Croix, edited down from 35 hours of footage Smith has gathered. An investment adviser when she launched Outside Looking In, she has mustered sponsorship from BMO Financial Group, Canada Council for the Arts, Sodexo and APTN, among others.

"I just wanted (the students) to get the feeling of being on a big stage in front of a whole audience," Smith says. "I didn't want it to be just a small artsy show."

Levi Claiborne, once her hip-hop teacher in New York, has worked with the teenagers to take them from nothing to a fully disciplined little troupe. He'll also perform in the show.

Next year, Smith wants to expand the project nationwide, auditioning Indian students from across the country to work on a multi-disciplinary show for Toronto. They have to be serious about school and they have to be serious about some art form.

They visited the National Ballet School this week and saw the Alvin Ailey show Friday night, and they'll go to Dirty Dancing before heading home. At least one of the Lac La Croix students is bound to apply for a second go-round. After witnessing the National Ballet School, Cody says he was really inspired. He's got his sights set now on a dance career.