20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (416) 677-5883


August 6, 2009

Dear Friends,
If you received a strange email from me requesting funds because I lost my wallet in the UK,
No I am not in the UK, no I didn't lose my wallet.  
THIS IS A FAKE REQUESTHUGE HACKER ALERT FOR MY EMAIL from langgfieldent@yahoo.com. PLEASE IGNORE ALL EMAILS RE SOME WALLET STORY. This is someone that has hacked my computer, deleted ALL my emails and I'm doing my best to do damage control. If you answer the email they will direct you to call some hotel in the UK and ask you for funds.  ALL FAKE! 
I have alerted the authorities.  I believe this all happened from an email I got that
Rogers Account Updates!!! Request Authenticated !!! Reply Needed !!! suggesting that my email account would be suspended unless I responded with my email and password.  It looks very authentic ... do NOT answer it and if you did, BACK UP all your data and CHANGE YOUR EMAIL PASSWORD.  This will allow them to have full access to your email.  I have alerted the authorities who will hopefully track the creeps down. 

I am touched by all of you who thought I was in some trouble overseas ... my sincere thanks for everyone's concerns and care.


Coming off the long weekend and moving forward to the brighter side of things. 
The Sistahs Concert is a coming-together of generations of Canadian talent, and a celebration of these women as performers, interpreters and songwriters.  It's August 9th - Tickets are selling out fast - don't delay!  See below for details! 

This week is a special new release of
Sean Paul!  If you can tell me what city in Jamaica that Sean Paul was born in, you could be the winner of his latest CD, Imperial Blaze!!  Enter HERE and include your full name and mailing address. 

And check out the
URBANCY scoop (as well as discount!) for some very cool web services ... check it out under SCOOP

Now, check out all the exciting news so please take a walk into your weekly entertainment news!   


The "Sistahs" Move Into Toronto's Distillery District! – Sunday, August 9, 2009

Source: www.andrewcraig.me

On August 9th, eight of Canada’s most powerful, most prominent, and most loved Black female vocalists will come together on the same stage, for one night of extraordinary music!  The Young Centre for the Performing Arts and Andrew Craig Productions present The Sistahs Concert, featuring Molly Johnson, Jackie Richardson, Ada Lee, Divine Brown, Toya Alexis, Alana Bridgewater, Shakura S’aida and Kellylee Evans.

The Sistahs Concert is a coming-together of generations of Canadian talent, and a celebration of these women as performers, interpreters and songwriters. Musical Directed by Andrew Craig, the programme includes solos and multi-generational duets and culminates in awe-inspiring group numbers!

The Sistahs Concert will be the most talked-about event of the summer of 2009 – don’t miss your chance to see and hear these extraordinary women in action – together!

55 Mill St., Building 49 (in the Distillery District)
Two shows: 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm
$20 adults; $5 students


Sean Paul’s Imperial Blaze

Source: www.warnermusic.ca

Sean Paul’s back, and he’s about to bring the heat this summer. The Jamaican dancehall superstar first sparked the world in 2002 with his breakout hit, “Gimme The Light,” and the fire has been burning brightly ever since.  Hot on the heels of his multi-platinum, Grammy-winning classic album, Dutty Rock, he dropped the 2005 RIAA platinum smash The Trinity.  That album led off with the Top 10 single “We Be Burnin’,” followed by the #1 smash “Temperature.”  Now Sean Paul is stoking the flames once more with his highly anticipated fourth album, Imperial Blaze.
The Kingston-born rhyme slinger has already sold more than 10 million albums worldwide, and has become the most successful Jamaican artist of all time on the U.S. charts – spurred by a trio of #1 pop singles, and five top ten hits.  But despite his scorching track record, Sean Paul is taking nothing for granted.  “Imperial Blaze is like the king’s fire,” says the keeper of dancehall’s flame.  “It’s all about going hard and keeping it hot.”  Case in point:  the album’s infectious lead single, “So Fine,” which blends irresistible harmonies and rapid-fire lyrics with a futuristic backdrop of digital percussion.
A lot of artists talk about “staying on the grind,” but few work harder than Sean Paul.  He has done more than any other dancehall artist to bring the hardcore sound of Kingston to new audiences around the world.  Since his prophetically titled 2000 debut, Stage One, Sean Paul has proven time and again that modern Jamaican reggae can be a viable genre in the international music market.  But the explosive energy of Imperial Blaze indicates that he’s only getting started.
“In this business, they say you’re only as good as your last hit,” says the man who beat out Kanye West and Nick Lachey to win the American Music Award for Favourite Pop/Rock Male Artist in 2006.  “They say you’ve got to prove yourself all over again every time you come back, so here we come.”
More than just proving Sean’s staying power, Imperial Blaze represents his evolution from a Jamaican crossover star into a bona fide pop hitmaker with a rare gift for bringing cutting-edge sounds to an international following.  “My first album was mainly a compilation of songs that were out in the dancehall,” he explains.  “On the second album we added a few special ones, and with The Trinity we did even more exclusive songs.  But now with Imperial Blaze, most of them were recorded specially for this album.  It’s all about my growth as an artist.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is Sean’s determination to showcase the talents of Jamaica ’s hottest young producers.  “We have worked with other producers in the past,” he says.  “I have no problem working with any big hip-hop or dance music producer who wants me to spit on their track.  But I’m not trying to ride on anybody else’s genre.  When it comes to my album, you’re gonna hear the new kids from Jamaica .”
The production credits on Imperial Blaze read like a who’s who of dancehall trackmasters, from Don Corleone to Craig “Leftside” Parkes (son of legendary Jamaican bandleader Lloyd Parkes), to Jeremy Harding (who doubles as Sean’s manager), to Arif Cooper (son of Ibo Cooper from the famed reggae band Third World) to Delano of Renaissance Disco and even Sean’s own brother, Jazon “Jigzagula” Henriques of Coppershot Sound.  And for the first time, Sean himself produced a track on the album entitled “I Know You Like It.”  But nearly half the album’s 19 tracks were produced by the 19-year old Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor, whose Big Ship/Di Genius Records label has dominated the dancehall scene for the past year.
“I first met Stephen when he was like eight years old and I was in my 20s,” Sean reveals.  “His father Freddie McGregor is a king of reggae music, so Stephen was born into this.  Now he’s running the place, and the chemistry we have is something special.  When you find someone who gets you as an artist, you can really push yourself and take it to a different place.”
The songwriting on Imperial Blaze represents a giant leap forward in Sean Paul’s artistry.  “There’s plenty of party tracks, but we’re not just singing about the same old thing,” he explains.  High-energy cuts like “Lace It” on McGregor’s Daybreak riddim are already sparking the worldwide dancehall circuit, but other cuts find Sean in a more reflective mode.  “My music has reached the point where it’s expanding,” he says.  “I’m talking about relationships and different things we all go through in life.”  Not only has the subject matter evolved, but vocally Sean’s experimenting with different melodies and harmonies to create a richer new sound. 
Sean wrote a tribute to his mother, entitled “Straight From My Heart,” for her birthday, and the depth of his emotions can be heard in every line.  “That felt so good it should have been the first song I ever recorded,” says Sean.  “Music is supposed to be for celebration, and who better to celebrate than the woman who gave me life?”  The haunting hook from “Hold My Hand” represents another artistic breakthrough, what may be his first-ever dancehall ballad.
While Sean has a long history of recording hit duets – including the recent remix of Estelle’s “Come on Over,” preceded by “Give It Up To Me” with Keyshia Cole, “Break It Off” with Rihanna, “Baby Boy” with Beyoncé, and “Give It to You Girl” with Eve – the new album does not rely on guest appearances.  “I always think it’s funny when people ask, ‘Who’s on your new album?’” says Sean with a grin.  “It’s my album, you know?”
Although he has collaborated with hip-hop stars like 50 Cent, The Clipse, and Busta Rhymes in the past, Sean Paul’s main emphasis is on his own sound.  “Dancehall is the most underground music in the world and our artists are most misrepresented.  But we’re gonna do it star.  We’re gonna show people.  And even though we’ve done it time and time again, some people still act like they don’t want to give reggae music a try.  But this music is big in all corners now.  So all I’m saying is show some respect.”
After tasting fame and fortune, Sean Paul is more concerned than ever with his musical legacy.  “When I look back on some great artists over the years,” he reflects, “you look at some man like Bob Marley and even Shabba Ranks and Super Cat.  When you check back over their career, you see all that they accomplished and say, ‘Yo – what a work them do!’  Them thing deh really make you wanna enjoy this time while you have it – just make the most of it while the sun is shining.  Do as much as we can.”
“As I have said before, there are many types of dancehall,” Sean Paul emphasizes.  “We have music that can express everything that a human being can feel, more time in a raw way and sometimes in a very soft and seductive way.  That’s why I love this art form.  And I’m ready to do it again, star.  We’re coming with something original.  It have to sound fresh and new.  Don’t sound like you’re copying over and over.  Sound like the next thing.  Watch we!”

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Source:  www.urbancy.com

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We Remember Baatin: Troubled Slum Village Member Dies At 35

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 3, 2009) *Rapper and member of Slum Village, Titus "Baatin" Glover, has died in Detroit according to reports. At EUR press time, the cause of death was not known. He was 35

Baatin along with Jay Dee (also known as J Dilla), who died in 2006 of complications related to lupus, and T3 formed a group and called themselves Ssenepod. In 1991, they changed their name to Slum Village. That was also the time Glover changed his stage name to Baatin.

"When I got spiritual, I wanted a different name," the Detroit native said. "(Baatin) is Islamic for 'hidden'," mlive.com reported.

The group changed members several times over the years eventually becoming a duo (T3 and Elzhi). Baatin told the (Detroit) Metro Times in 1997 that he struggled with several emotional problems. He said he left Slum Village's European tour in 2003 to rest, but later asked to be released from the group.

However, during a show at the State Theatre in Detroit, Baatin demanded to be on stage. He was arrested and jailed; after that, he was evicted from his apartment that he says was being paid for by his record label.

In 2004, Baatin was diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression; he later developed a crack habit, living homeless for more than a year.

Recently, it was announced that Baatin had rejoined Slum Village. A new album, "Villa Manifesto," was scheduled to be released September 22.

Lil Wayne's Show, Drake's Applause

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

ugust 05, 2009) Lil Wayne may have been the headliner, but a surprise appearance by Toronto native Drake was the highlight of last night's Molson Amphitheatre concert.

After a fall during the New Jersey stop last Friday aggravated a knee injury, less than a week into the month-long tour, Drake sat out New York the following night and was scheduled to come off the road to have surgery.

But first, Toronto.

"I said there was no f---ing way I was going to miss this show," the 22-year-old rapper told the elated capacity hometown crowd after performing two songs near the end of the four-hour bill.

Seated on a stool at centre stage, he delivered his No. 2 smash "Best I Ever Had" – which the Los Angeles Times has declared the "song of the summer" – as thanks for the city's nascent support.

But it was his rendition of "Successful" that really represented the current position of child actor turned rapper Aubrey Drake Graham. Stalled with a bum leg, while singing about his ambitions – "I want the money, and the cars, the clothes, and the hoes, I suppose" – recalls Kanye West rhyming through the wired broken jaw that resulted from a car accident as he was on the cusp of his successful recording career.

Drake's cameo restored Lil Wayne's flagging set last night.

Sated quickly by hits like "A Milli," "Swagga Like Us" and "Mr. Carter," where they sang and rapped and mimicked the New Orleans native's sidestep skip shuffle, the crowd was relegated after 40 minutes to watching Wayne, accompanied by a five-piece band and DJ, showcase the members of his lacklustre Young Money clique – rappers Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda and Nicki Minaj – who recall 50 Cent's ill-fated G-Unit crew.

With no new album to promote, this "Young Money Presents: America's Most Wanted Music Tour," with an undercard of R&B singers Jeremih and Pleasure P and rappers Soulja Boy and Young Jeezy, is a victory lap for last year's top selling album Tha Carter III.

Wayne's January Air Canada Centre show was a much tighter effort that benefited from theatrical exchanges with T-Pain and a more seamless parading of his protégés.

P.S. Can someone tell DJ 4our5 that Buju Banton's homophobic "Boom Bye Bye" doesn't get played publicly 'round these parts, no matter how much the audience loves it?

Drake Suffers Injury On Tour

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 03, 2009) *At this point no one is really sure what happened to rapper Drake Friday night in New Jersey.

One minute he's doing "Best I Ever Had" and the next he found himself unable to get up on his own from the stage floor after falling.

We're not sure if he slipped and fell or "collapsed" as some media outlets are reporting. The bottom line is that the rapper/singer may have seriously aggravated his previously injured up knee.

Witnesses at the show in Camden, New Jersey, said Drake "put his head down because he was in so much pain." Four men had to carry him off stage.

Reports say Drake tore his ACL before the tour started, but made the decision to continue on, without approval from his doctor.

Via Twitter, Drake says he's now off the tour and headed straight for surgery this coming week.

We certainly hope he didn't damage his knee beyond repair because one blog reported that his doctor warned him that he might not ever walk again if he managed to tear his ACL a second time. Wow.

Interview with Lara Lavi - The Resurrection of Death Row Records

 By: Alex Young, Fazor Magazine

(August 4, 2009) There are three simple words that cut straight to the core of hip-hop as both a genre and an art form. Anyone that hears them cannot deny their power. Those three little words are: Death Row Records. Launching the careers of Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among others, Death Row Records set the standard to which hip-hop is held to today. Founded by Suge Knight and Dr. Dre at the dawn of the 1990’s, the label followed the dissolution of N.W.A, in part due to financial claims made by Ice Cube, as well as Dre’s ambition to carry on as a producer. Death Row went on to release some of the most acclaimed and influential albums in the world of hip-hop, regarded as legendary even by today’s standards. Some of the albums Death Row stacked on music store shelves while their artists stacked up platinum awards were The Chronic by Dr. Dre, Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg, and 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me. According to the label’s website, Death Row accumulated $750 million in revenue and sold over 50 million albums since its inception in 1992.

As successful as the label was, it was equally as controversial.  After what seemed like an endless parade of famed rifts between artists and management, legal battles, and financial issues, it sat in limbo for almost a decade.  Now comes Death Row’s resurrection, thanks to
Lara Lavi, a woman who is a part of WIDEawake Entertainment and recently acquired the rights to the catalogue.  The acquisition followed an ongoing auction that started after Suge Knight declared Death Row bankrupt in 2006. Lavi is the new President and is doing everything she can, along with a team of accountants, lawyers, producers and artists, to reclaim the label’s throne in the pantheon of hip-hop royalty. As both a genre and an industry, hip-hop traditionally has been dominated by males.  Nevertheless, Lavi is taking her shot and giving it everything she’s got.

Fazer Magazine was lucky enough to speak with Lavi about meeting 2Pac, her current business relationship with Dr. Dre and the future of hip-hop.

Alex: What are some of your plans to restore the roster and image of one of the most well known labels in the hip-hop industry? 

Lara Lavi: What I plan on do is - it’s not just me, there’s a whole team of folks, both here in Canada and the United States. The very first thing that I’m focused on is re-establishing a connection to build trust again. I would say that virtually all of these artists have come to associate the name Death Row with, for example, not getting paid. My view is that coming into the music industry as an artist and not as a hobby artist, but as an actual artist, not getting paid when you’ve been so instrumental in creating such a signature body of work is just not cool. At the same time, I have the balancing act of making sure that the financers that made all of this possible by pulling the catalogue out of bankruptcy, that they get a return on their investment. Otherwise the whole thing will be forgotten and there will be no Death Row. That being said, I started my outreach the day we acquired the catalogue and I started with Tupac Shakur’s family and legal team literally at the door of the bankruptcy. I was able to start from day one to establish a precedent that whatever was was, and what we’re trying to do now is something that’s positive as opposed to negative. I made a great deal of effort in that outreach, I went down to Atlanta and saw the Tupac Shakur center. I was then invited to visit Afeni Shakur in North Lumberton at her home. After talking it all through with lawyers and financial planners and so on, we both seemed to agree that at least I had the right intentions, my intentions were good.  Then I‘ve been able to deliver on promises on things that relate to legal stimulation, things that relate to getting paid, things that relate to the organization of the administration of the music on the business side. We were able to gain trust through these talks about the songs, which we’re allowed to have according to the court documents so we can release Tupac on a Death Row release, hopefully and God willing, in June 2010. With the rest of the roster, I sort of divided it up in my head into Dre, Snoop, Tupac and then Dogg Pound, Lady of Rage, Danny Boy, and everybody, Nate Dogg, Kurupt and everybody else. Because they all have separate management and separate folks that are monitoring the situation and have separate financial interests in their historic relationship with Death Row. With Dre’s folks, we’re chiselling away very, very slowly with Dre’s lawyer, and that’s going to be a tough one. Since the The Chronic (released in 1992) was the first artist album out on Death Row, we wanted to make sure we honoured Dr. Dre, who really was key to the entire direction of Death Row and the sound with his team with Daz (Dillinger, one of the first artists to sign with Death Row) and Snoop. These guys made history with The Chronic. 

Alex: Absolutely. 

Lara: We wanted to celebrate that, so we decided that The Chronic re-release should be honouring Dr. Dre, honouring Snoop, honouring this amazing sound and opening up the vault. Because the process of The Chronic re-release allows fans fourteen new songs that have never been released or are extremely rare releases. There’s a really amazing interview with Dr. Dre that we were able to secure that’s almost thirty minutes in 1997.  

Alex: That’s awesome. 

Lara: It was shot on sixteen millimetre film so the quality is impeccable. He looks great; he looks really healthy and good. I mean he always looks great, but he looks really great in this. They did a really good job shooting him; it’s going to be a very, very impressive interview, no one’s ever seen it before. We’re trying to honour Dre, we have 2D3 in the booklet, he goes back to the early days of N.W.A and into The Chronic. Many have compared Dr. Dre with Quincy Jones (producer that has worked with Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson on the album Thriller) in terms of what Quincy has done with his genres and what Dre has done for his genres. We’re really trying hard to send a message out of respect. The ultimate respect will be when they receive their royalty cheques. When we get paid, they get paid.  

Alex: Absolutely. What is it like to work with someone like Dr. Dre who has not only had such a massive impact in terms of the sound, delivery, and production of rap as a genre, but he was also a pioneer in terms of setting up the business practice of how hip-hop labels relate to their artists?  

Lara: To be clear, we have not had the benefit of working directly with Dre. A comfort zone with his new regime (Dre founded Aftermath Entertainment after leaving Death row in 1996) is going to take a long time to establish, and it’s going to be a rollercoaster until it gets to a good spot. What we have is we have his historic involvement, you’re exactly right; we have how he set things up so we have that as an imprint for us to march forward. I think where we sit right now is hopefully with The Chronic re-release and several other releases right after, we will send a strong message to Dr. Dre. Whether he’s ambivalent, the ball is in his court with whatever he chooses, and we wish to be positive with him. That’s all we can do until he decides we’re relevant to his world. But certainly our goal is to be as positive as possible while still honouring the issues of financing the company and servicing debt load, and stuff like that. 

Alex: What drove you to take over the label and breathe a brand new life into one of the most legendary labels in hip-hop? 

Lara: Well, I’m American and I was recruited by financers in Canada to develop a new company and the early stages of the company in the first couple of years were slow in terms of getting product out to market. There was a lot of long-term ramp up in sorting through what we want to do, what made sense etc. Last year at this time the chairman said, “I think we’re ready now to acquire a significant money-generating asset. Go see what’s out there”. The team instructed me to go see what’s out there and I came back with a few publishing catalogues and nothing was really amazing to us. Then I got a call from VJ Chandrin whose an investment banker working in the entertainment sector out of New York and LA for his company. He said, “Well you know the Death Row catalogue is in bankruptcy and is on the auction block”. Everyone went to the financers and said, “I don’t know if this is something that will interest you, but this is out there”. They said, “Go after it”, and the team put together a really intense due diligence effort and we became qualified bidders. We put our bid in, it (the auction) was extended until January 2009. We went to court, it was quite competitive, at some point I wasn’t even thinking about what we were trying to do and was just thinking I wanted to beat out the other side. It was just silly. At the end of the day, we sat there very professionally, our package was impeccable, and I think people realized we were serious and the court awarded us the asset for the exact amount that we bid. And now the goal was to have an asset that was generating income, had an established brand, and we could make it better. Making it better involved, still involves and will continue to involve making the asset currently relevant in terms of applying the music to feature films, gaming, TV and so on. In that same capacity, developing new projects off of the brand, so we have a project called Hustle City that’s one of the other things we’re doing that relate to powering a series of graphic novels that’s a platform project. That could ultimately end up in a feature film project and a gaming project with the Death Row music and hopefully licensing and material from some of the key Death Row artists. We’re talking very seriously about doing a ‘Death Row presents…” tour and bringing these artists that wish to participate in. You’ve got to remember that there’s only ten to fifteen percent of what’s been in the vault has been released to the public. Promotionally, there’s not that much leakage out there, but comparatively there’s seven thousand or eight thousand tracks that are unreleased from all the artists. Our goal is to constantly get this stuff out to market, properly packaged and put it in with as much video and stuff the fans haven’t seen before, which results in something we see as the Death Row brand re-establishing with what it all stood for musically. The challenge with Death Row is that, in many ways it’s a snap-shot of the late eighties and early nineties in terms of what was going on socio-economically. This music and its lyrics speak very loudly about a certain set of issues that were going on around North America, but especially in the Southern California, LA, Long Beach area. The question becomes, in light of having President Obama in office now and in light of a great amount of social change probably spurred by some of the anger and frustration of the Death Row original era, where is this music relevant now? I wonder about that all the time, and yet yesterday I was watching CNN and they were doing the part two of ‘Black to America’. You know the documentary they’re creating on what’s happening now with inner-city issues with kids now and so on? 

Alex: Yeah. 

Lara: And I realized that a tremendous amount has occurred, there’s way more social awareness, and militancy no longer has a place in bringing about social change. But we’re not done yet, so as we power this music in really cool films that tell human stories about what’s going on in the communities, true stories. There’s a particular film called Sons to the Grave that we’ve committed to powering the music for, and this is a true of something that happened in St. James Town, right in your backyard. A black mother elected to move back to St. James Town because her son was clearly a basketball prodigy and they had the best NBA scouting school in the state. In going back, it was sort of a love/hate relationship this child experienced with his peers because he had a chance to get out and actually do it. There’s a lot of pressure for teens with street bookies there with high school gangs, and right before this young man is about to get out, he’s tragically shot.  This is a true story, you can imagine news was on this one, the film Sons of the Grave tells this story and there’s a tremendous amount of interest both nationally and internationally in this film. A lot of folks are actively working to get this film to theatre. Death Row felt that this is the type of film that if we power the music, we’ve created a way for the Death Row music to have a new relevancy today.  

Alex: To a new generation of fans and movie-goers. 

Lara: Exactly. Which is a big piece of our mission, which is why we have Evergreen copyrights as our publisher, they administer both our masters and our publishing. They’re also incredibly aggressive when it comes to synchronization placement and strategic synchronization placement. Everyone’s on the same page and we’re very coherent when thinking about this.  

Alex: Absolutely, and I can imagine that would be a great asset to have to Death Row as a company when you’re looking to re-establish an image and start a new chapter in a new day in age after having somewhat of a checkered past.  

Lara: Yeah, and again one of the challenges of working with artists and their handlers is…One thing, my team and I can never do is fix the sins of the previous management (headed by Suge Knight). We can’t pay all that money back, we don’t even have it. Nobody would, it’s astronomical, just the amount’s that didn’t get paid to the artists. All we can do is that from the day we became a Wide Awake/Death Row Entertainment entity, all we can say is that we will follow proper business practices, honour the agreements and, when necessary, re-negotiate agreements. That’s all anyone can possibly expect from us, to be honourable and move forward. 

Alex: Death Row is known for signing some of the most legendary and influential performers in the world of hip-hop. How do you plan on brining Death Row up to speed with where hip-hop is at in 2009 or setting any new musical trends in the future? 

Lara: You know that’s a great question. One of the musical challenges is that all music forms including hip-hop evolve over time.  

Alex: Definitely. 

Lara: The messages change, the sounds change, the beats change, the faces and names change. There was no T-Pain back in the beginning. 

Alex: No, definitely not. 

Lara: It’s sort of like saying from Elvis Presley, how do you deal with what he built ground on and make him more relevant? I think the key with Death Row is the same thing with the people who love Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or early stage Bruce Springsteen, there’s always a place for authenticity. 

Alex: Absolutely. 

Lara: I think we allow that music to be what it is. What’s interesting is with any of these artists that are still alive, knock on wood, they’re still active. Dogg Pound has a new album in the can ready to go, Lady of Rage is working on cool stuff; Danny Boy is working on cool stuff. Crooked I is working on some really cool stuff that I’m in love with and is very relevant; his Slaughterhouse project is signed to E-1. We’ve got another project called Group Therapy that I think is out of this world. The new material Danny Boy is doing is exquisite; I think the new material Kurupt and Daz [Dillinger, one of the founding members of the Dogg Pound] and Kurupt has also been working with DJ Quik. These guys…it’s in their blood, they can’t help it, and they’re going to create. I think what I’d like to do, and we’re in sort of early stage conversations with the art and the handlers, lawyers, and management, we’re talking about doing a ‘that was then, this is now’ concept. It might take it into touring, it might take it into dual releases of old stuff and new stuff, you know, taking a look at making a way for their classic material to be coupled with where these artists are at now because they’re still all brilliant. They’re still the best of the best of their era and still have commercial relevancy now in 2009 into 2010. So that’s the kind of thing that we’re looking at. Some artists like Crooked I really want to define themselves by what they’re doing now because they’ve changed their whole message and everything else. Working with someone like us is good because we’re sensitive, I mean we obviously always to be accountable to the fact we’ve got that back catalogue we have to monetize. But timing is everything and if we can work with Crook [Crooked I] for example in getting his new stuff and his old stuff out after, then he’s been able to redefine himself and the back catalogue takes on a different meaning. It takes on a retrospective meaning; it helps you understand how he evolved into who he is today. But each artist is different; each artist is evolving differently, which requires a lot of sensitivity and respect on both sides. All I’ve ever asked of the artists is to please respect that someone good acquired this body of work and respect the fact that if we can get a return on investment and keep the financers satisfied that this is a good idea then we’ll be able to do cool things. Then if the artist exhibit the level of anger and frustration understandably with previous management and ask for things that don’t make sense at this particular date, it will cause the financers to take a different route. They’ll just have to put this stuff out and hope it will sell. I would like to do something that says the artists, the music and the fans are a synergistic valuable component to maximizing the return on the investment while doing the right thing. That’s my mission, and whether I will be able to accomplish that, only time will tell. But for me personally and professionally with our team, that’s the mission.  

Alex: That will free you up to take on the kind of projects you want to take on and the albums you want to release in the future. 

Lara: Hopefully so. The days of just putting out records is dwindling down and we’re seeing a more random playlist going on with the advent of the internet and so on. So it’s going to be important to create new ways to do business, whether it’s packaging up tours with units and merchandise, which might be the most lucrative for the artist and I’m looking carefully into that kind of stuff. Because I think no matter what we do on the internet, fans have told us over and over again, they want to smell the sweat of the artist that they love. They want to be there, they want to feel that bass pulsing directly through their heart. They want it and there’s no substitute for that. 

Alex: You can’t download that. 

Lara: Yeah. From that end, I’m thinking of how we work with gatekeepers whose levels of touring are required in order to really penetrate the market. How do we get at the value for the company and the fans? All these things take a tremendous amount of brain power to think through even though a lot of it’s been done before. Because you’re dealing with a cast of players who are understandably feeling a lack of closure, positive closure in their Death Row experience.  

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Are there any modern artists that have caught your attention these days? 

Lara: Yeah, I would say that I have become a gigantic fan of Novel; I don’t know if you know who he is. He’s primarily known as a producer Leona Lewis and Alicia Keys (and has also worked with Talib Kweli, Lauryn Hill and Smokey Robinson) and stuff like that. He’s doing a very interesting thing, there’s sort of a consciousness to his rap.  If you Youtube him you’ll see a lot of stuff. Obviously we are incredibly committed to Sean Jones (Canadian rock/R&B singer and songwriter) outside of the rap world. Because one of the things about Sean that I find fascinating is that here is a man of Jamaican descent who came into the music industry very traditionally through the boy band, R&B world, and had success. As he really started pulling to the beat of his own drum and do something exactly where he was going, he started to get closer and closer to a unique sound that incorporated a lot more rock. We’ve met with some resistance, particularly in Canada where people have actually come out and said to us, “He’s black, he should stick to his genre”. That’s the kind of thing that will make me say, “Look, music transcends race and if Sean wants to explore a side of music that’s not traditionally R&B music, all the power to him as long as he’s putting out great songs”. He’s got a new batch of songs that he’s written and even the songs from ‘This is Love’ (released in 2008 through WIDEawak Entertainment) are incredibly compelling. Interestingly enough “This Is Love” has resonated much better than the United States than it has in Canada in terms of radio, producer and so on response. It’s all relative in terms of different markets so all you can do with Sean is let him be himself. So as we go forward with artists like Novel and Crooked I with his new project, and Sway from MTV, they’re being themselves. There’s this weird balance between what’s commercially successful versus what’s new and if what’s new is really good, hooky and compelling, then it’ll always beat out a cookie-cutter approach of an artist that’s copying what’s already been developed a year or so previously.  

Alex: Exactly. 

Lara: So you have to give these guys room to be unique and innovative and wait anyway as long as the songs are strong and the production is strong. I think it’s more about competitive production than it is trying to imitate. I think production standards are the key to commercial success and the innovation and the hook and the strength of the song to be memorable to the consumer, that’s where innovation and uniqueness are critical. 

Alex: That’s interesting you told me that some people said that it’s not really the place of a black person to play rock and roll when some of the original innovators of rock and roll like Chuck Berry and Robert Johnson… 

Lara: Jimi Hendrix! 

(Laughing together)

Alex: Yeah, and like B.B. King. 

Lara: I’m living in Seattle and drive by the Jimi Hendrix memorial pretty much every day and it’s like, “Yep, he was pretty much black. For sure, black, let’s check under the hood, yeah that’s black, too. Pretty much everything’s black about Jimi Hendrix. You’d have to be quite sure he was doing rock”.  

(Another mutual hearty laugh)

Alex: Yeah, exactly. Earlier on you mentioned artists like Led Zeppelin who have covered Robert Johnson, guys like Eric Clapton, he did an entire Robert Johnson tribute album (the 2004 album entitled Me and Mr. Johnson). The Rolling Stones have covered him (the song ‘You’ve Got to Move’ on the 1971 album Sticky Fingers). Some of the most influential artists in the world of rock and roll were all black. 

Lara: You know what? The key here is to sign that sweet spot that’s going to resonate with consumers and industry gatekeepers, innovation and self-truth. If everyone had an answer for that, we’d all be wealthy billionaires.  

Alex: Exactly. 

Lara: It’s a tricky little game. 

Alex: I just thought that was an interesting point that anyone would say that. But far be it for a modern artist to want to branch out and develop themselves and mature by taking their music in a new direction that they find deep and meaningful and might resonate with other people. 

Lara: I guess from that end, you asked me originally about these artists and where it becomes currently relevant. I think it becomes currently relevant by hearing what they’re doing now and allowing consumers to have the ability to check out what they were doing and what they are doing. If it’s good music, its good music, and we do everything we can to make this a return on investment and make this a place where artists are bringing out their truth, and can resonate with consumers. We hope that that circle of musical life works.   

Alex: What do you think the future holds for hip-hop as a genre and as an industry? 

Lara: You know I think it’s hilarious that anyone would ask me this question, because I have been very straightforward about being a musician and an artist myself in a completely different genre (Lavi has collaborated with Charles Neville on the album Songcatchers) and the only reason I’m getting asked this question now is because I happen to be in a place where financers wanted to buy an asset and it ended up being Death Row. I think a year ago, no one would be looking at me as someone who could answer this question.  That being said, I’ve been immersed in the school of hip-hop, I’ve always had a foot in the door because I’ve represented artists as a lawyer here in the United States and haven’t been living in a cave. The issue with any genre of music, whether it’s hip-hop or country or rock or pop, whatever, is that music tends to reflect what’s going on in the world.  

Alex: And the spirit of the times. 

Lara: Yeah, because art imitates life and life imitates art, we’re always going to see evolution.  And evolution, if you recall, doesn’t always mean direction, it just means change, a change that responds to environment. I think that when you’re sitting here with so much technology and so many artists and so many avenues for its release in the advent of the digital age, you’re going to see everything. From what’s going to be to what used to be, everything. My guess, if I could be so bold, is that I think we’re going to see a lot more of what I call rock, and there are other projects that are taking a hard look at what happens when you get a live band and some rappers together. What is that going to create? I think we’re going to see the organic side of music emerging through hip-hop. Yet you’re still going to have artists that are feeding into the Top 40 radio with the auto-tuning vocals and that, because everybody’s experimenting and that’s fine. One thing I will never ever do, and I say this in every interview is there will never be a hater here (from Death Row) to any artist whether it’s Britney Spears to Chuck D (of Public Enemy), to anyone. Because for filmmakers and musicians, it is a major miracle that anything makes it from the brain of the artist and producers to the radio or the consumer. It is so much work, so much work, and so much work. For anybody who has made it to the level of being a brand, the amount of work for them and their team is astronomical. If people buy it, there’s a market for it, period.  

Alex: Yeah. 

Lara: That’s the way it is. 

Alex: That’s the way economics works. 

Lara: Whether they do it for the fame or whatever else, but I can tell you right now, I have respect for anybody who makes it from A to B.  

Alex: Have you spoken to any of the older artists that made Death Row what it was?  

Lara: Yeah! I’ve met a whole bunch, some of the producers and stuff. I’ve had some wonderful conversations with Rick Clifford, who was the chief engineer of Death Row during its peak. He is actually legendary for recording All Eyez on Me (Tupac’s fourth solo album released in 1996 that has gone platinum nine times since then) in fourteen days. 

Alex: Wow. 

(Lara laughs for a moment) 

Lara: I know. I’ve had a chance to sit in a room as recently as last week with Daz (Dillinger), Supafly and Lady of Rage, when they were on tour in Vancouver and actually had heart to heart’s with them. Not just sit around and you know…sit around. 

Alex: Yeah. 

Lara: I’ve had lengthy conversations with Snoop’s management and lawyers and one very solid conversation with Snoop. Dre is waiting to see us put our money where our mouth is. Like I said with the Tupac Shakur estate, I would say I am on the best possible terms with Afeni Shakur. Same with the Danny Boy and Crooked I camp. Since February (2009) when Death Row officially became a WIDEawake asset, there’s been no slouching in terms of artist outreach. For the most part, people are respectful; I cannot tell you how much e-mail and Facebook activity I get with people giving their two cents, but we have our hands full. This is going to take a while and some patience from everybody. 

Alex: Did you ever get to meet some of the artists that were active in the nineties that are inactive today? More specifically, artists like Tupac. 

Lara: I did meet Tupac back in the day, ironically I did some legal work, some clearance work for him and long, long time ago. I did see him perform a couple times and I did have a couple conversations with him, nothing that I would say we knew each other well, but certainly I got a sense of who he is. 

Alex: Having witnessed a live performance from an artist of that calibre and seeing someone who performs at that level while doing their own thing, is that what originally inspired you to take on the challenge of reviving Death Row Records? So you could give artists that you see like that today a home to live up to that potential in the future? 

Lara: Well that’s a lofty goal now isn’t it?  

(Laughing together) 

Lara: I’m going to be totally real with you, if someone had told me a year ago that this is where I would sit, I would laugh, probably because anyone that knows me knows that I’m more from the world of singer/songwriters and what-not. With that being said, I think that didn’t really hit me until after the asset was acquired, so the motivation was purely reactive to the need to be a good businesswoman during the bankruptcy process. I don’t think it hit me until after the asset was required the level of responsibility required here, trying to bridge the world of business and the world of art in such a way that both are respected. I think that it hit me a lot harder when I walked out of the courtroom. 

Alex: Thank you for taking some time to chill out and let our readers know what the whole process has been like for you. 

Lara: It’s a team. It’s a whole team of folks, from bankers to producers to artists that’s a collective mind. I’m not sitting at the top of some hill masterminding all of this myself. Certainly I have a vision and people are looking to me for that, but I’m very respectful to the fact that this is a team approach with a place at the table for everyone that has something constructive and useful to bring. 

Alex: That will probably make reaching your goal of taking Death Row in a new direction a lot easier to achieve. 

Lara: Absolutely, because I think great music is great music and the key right now is having folks at the helm that are respectful to both sides of it, the business side of it and the artistic side of it. That’s the trick. 

Alex: It has been an honour and a privilege. 

Lara: You’re wonderful, thank you for time, too.

Check out the following clip:  http://www.wideawakedeathrow.com/comm3/


Monica Set For New Bet Docu-Drama

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 3, 2009) PASADENA, Calif. -- On Tuesday, October 27, at 10:00 p.m.* BET premieres MONICA, a new eight-episode series that follows R&B singer Monica as she works on her fifth album, launches a new clothing line and tackles the hardest job of all - full-time mother of two young sons.

After a brief hiatus from the music industry, does Monica have what it takes to handle it all? You be the judge on Tuesday, October 27.

Monica is back in the spotlight with an intimate, behind-the-scenes view into her day-to-day world.

This reality show will not only chronicle her personal life, but will take viewers along her journey as she works on her highly anticipated fifth studio album, appropriately titled Still Standing.

The series will also highlight her efforts as she designs a high-end line of boys' clothing called Regions of Rock, an "urban rock" line of clothing ranging from infant sizes to boys' size 20.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Monica Denise Arnold is a talented R&B / pop singer, songwriter and actress. She began her singing career as a member of Charles Thompson and the Majestics, a 12-piece traveling choir that led to her signing a recording contract with Arista Records in 1995. Monica went on to become the youngest R&B recording act in history to have two consecutive chart-topping hits on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

While maintaining a recording career, Monica added another title to her credits - actor. She has appeared in several films, including Boys and Girls (2000), ATL (2006) and MTV Films' Love Song (2000). She has also made several television appearances on Living Single, Beverly Hills: 90210, Felicity and American Dreams.

Even with all the success of her entertainment career, Monica undeniably has experienced personal tribulations. It was with the spiritual guidance of her parents and family that she withstood the devastating suicide of her boyfriend Jarvis "Knot" Weems, and it is that same support that helps her keep standing today. Monica is a strong, poised, vivacious woman, and with this reality show, she wants to show viewers and fans that anything is possible once you have set your mind to do it.

MONICA is executive produced by Monica and James DuBose of DuBose Entertainment.

Viewers can visit http://www.bet.com/OnTV/BETShows for more information about MONICA.

Black Eyed Peas Set Billboard Record


(July 31, 2009) *The Black Eyed Peas set a record this week for the longest successive No. 1 chart run by a duo or group in the Billboard Hot 100's history.

"I Gotta Feeling" is in its fifth consecutive week at No. 1, following 12 weeks at the top by the Peas' "Boom Boom Pow." Boyz II Men reigned on the chart for two 16-week runs in the mid-'90s.

Following "I Gotta Feeling" is Drake's "Best I Ever Had" at No. 2, followed by Keri Hilson featuring Kanye West and Ne- Yo's "Knock You Down" at No. 3, and Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" at No. 4. Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" climbs 11-5 this week, courtesy of a 49,000 download gain.

Sean Kingston's "Fire Burning" falls 5-6, "Boom Boom Pow" falls 6-7, Lady GaGa's "Lovegame" falls 7-8 and Katy Perry's "Waking Up in Vegas" rises 10-9. Rounding out the top 10 is Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield," which jumps 25-10. It's her third top 10 on the chart, spurred by a 47,000 download gain.

On the heels of member Adam Yauch's cancer scare, Beastie Boys make a welcome return to the Billboard Hot 100 as "Too Many Rappers,' featuring Nas, debuts at No. 93. It is the trio's first time on the list since the summer of 2004 and only their second appearance since 1998's "Intergalactic" peaked at No. 28.

Meanwhile, Whitney Houston's new single "I Look To You" debuts on the Adult R&B radio airplay chart at No. 23. It's her first appearance on any airplay chart since 2004. "Look" is the title track from the diva's new album, due Aug. 31.

Amber Alert Event Finds Trey Songz, Day 26

www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(August 03, 2009) *Trey Songz, Bad Boy's Day 26 and Doug E. Fresh will perform this month at the AMBER Ready Back-to-School Safety Weekend at ABC Studios' Live in Times Square, NY, August 15-16, from noon - 9 p.m.

The weekend is intended to raise awareness of AMBER Ready, Inc. and the AMBER Ready Foundation, which will launch the nation's first wireless child protection service and community predator program in an effort to reduce the number of missing and abducted children, and to quickly recover those that are classified as such.

Other celebrities, athletes, civic and community leaders are also expected to attend. All events are free and open to the public and will be simulcast on the Times Square Jumbo Tron.

In other Songz news, his new album "Ready" is slated for a Sept. 1 release on Song Book/Atlantic Records with production from Stargate, Johnta Austin, Troy Taylor, Carlos "Los DaMystro" McKinney, Eric Hudson and Bryan-Michael Cox.

"This album is very adult, very easygoing and very sexy," he tells Billboard.com. "It feels cohesive and reflects the changes you see in me physically, with my new haircut, and everything else that represents me evolving into manhood."

The featured guests include Drake, Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy Tell'Em.

Mo' Money, Same Problems For Canadian Hip-Hop Artists

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Dakshana Bascaramurty

(August 03, 2009) Montreal rapper Devin Atherton is truly in his element when he's behind the microphone at a packed club, dropping rhymes while the steady beats he's mixed at his home studio pump through the speakers.

Atherton's vocabulary is ripe with references to MCing, hooks and flipping. Terms that were once a foreign language to Canada's cultural bureaucrats are starting to become just as familiar as “mezzo-soprano,” “staccato” and “grand jeté.” Artists such as Atherton have become the unexpected new darling of granting agencies as hip hop culture and art has moved from the marginal to the mainstream. But while Toronto graffiti artist Skam has made thousands of dollars doing commissioned work (including a mural for Louis Vuitton) and Vancouver dance crew 605 Collective has performed at major B.C. venues for mainstream crowds, proving that these artists can reach a wide audience, urban artists still struggle to win government grants to produce their work.

An internal report commissioned by the
Canada Council for the Arts on hip hop culture in 2006 was released to the public last month. It highlighted inequities in funding for creators of urban art and found that many who had applied for grants left the word “hip hop” out of their applications, out of fear it might reduce their odds of getting cash. The report's authors included a strong recommendation to “review and revamp” the grant programs “that deem hip hop art ineligible.”

It's not that arts councils are saving their cheques for the most pedigreed opera singers and prima ballerinas trained at royal conservatories. The funding agency insists the money has always been there for the taking, but now it is making a concerted effort to make grants more accessible to hip hop artists.

In his six years as a rapper, 26-year-old Atherton has never been able to score a government arts grant to pursue his passion, but it might just be because he's not dotting his i's and crossing his t's the right way.

Late last month, four grant officers sat down in the salon of the National Arts Centre with an unlikely audience: a motley crew of about 40 graffiti artists, rappers and break dancers from across the country. The agency's goal: to teach the artists how to tailor funding applications. They even held the workshop on the artists' turf – at the main venue for Hip Hop 360, a week-long event showcasing urban art. It proved to be an eye-opener for both participants and grant officers.

“I think there's a bit of a disconnect between institutions engaged in promoting the arts in Canada and street artists. Urban arts are to a certain extent anti-establishmentarian,” said Sabra Ripley, a b-girl and graffiti advocate who co-ordinated the workshop.

“It's not that it's seen badly to take money from an institution. It's just a group of people that aren't used to working with the bureaucratic language and process.”

They see the divide on the other side of the fence, too.

“Being linked with an arts council is not necessarily organic with the community,” said Sheila James, co-ordinator of the Canada Council for the Arts equity office.

At the same time, she said, gritty b-boy style has evolved to become more institutionalized and is no longer a fringe culture.

“It's moved off the street into clubs and concert halls,” she said. “Yes, urban arts happen on the streets, and it actually happens in every other environment you can imagine.”

While the council has funded hip hop artists since the start of the decade, the genre is so diverse that it doesn't have numbers on how many grants have been awarded. While the council has noticed a funding gap for hip hop artists, James insists this is in no way based on resistance from the agency or Canada's cultural elite.

Some traditionalists may bristle over the fact that a graffiti artist has just as fair a shot at getting a cheque from the council as an oil painter, but taxpayers should not mistake the council for writing cheques in support of defacing buildings. Tagging a wall is seen as illegal vandalism by the council; you'll have to take the spray paint to a canvas or gallery installation to get a grant, James said.

Ripley is encouraged by the council's efforts, but said that from her own dealings with street artists as the organizer of Ottawa's annual House of PainT hip hop festival, the grants issued are not proportional to the size of the growing urban art community.

“[The council] is improving its understanding. To me, it's like any other well-established institution. It moves slowly in terms of catching up with the times,” she said.

At the same time, Ripley noted that she's encountered many hip hop artists who have never bothered to apply to the federal granting agency.

Break dancer Kate Alsterlund was turned off grant-writing after she was flatly rejected twice by the Quebec Arts Council. But after Alsterlund – also known as b-girl Lynx – drove from her Montreal home to Ottawa for the workshop, she changed her mind.

As it turned out, the gulf between the hip hop artists and bureaucrats at the workshop was small. Workshop participants cast off the stereotype of being gritty anti-establishmentarians and eagerly took notes and asked questions like keener high-school students, while the bureaucratic “suits” keenly offered them hints on how to break into the establishment. For first-time applicants and veterans alike, officers explained how to decode the funding categories to figure out which grants artists had the best shot at getting, and how bad audio-visual quality in a performance video could compromise an application.

“The workshop really confirmed it in my mind that I'm going to apply,” Alsterlund said. “[The officers] were really human, very helpful … being able to put a face to the person that I'm talking to is a great advantage.”

Shuni Tsou, one of the council's program officers, said participants were very gracious.

“They're delighted to know that their art form is recognized,” she said. “It boosts their confidence and reassures them that they're not isolated – that government agencies take them seriously.”

She said the council has five more grant-writing sessions planned this month for artists from all disciplines and genres, and hopes to draw a large crowd from the hip hop community again.

Atherton didn't attend the recent workshop in Ottawa, but he's considering popping in to one of the upcoming sessions.

He's intimately familiar with the red stamp of rejection that has marked all five of his applications to public funding councils at the municipal and federal levels.

“If they made it a little less bureaucratic, everybody would have more of a sporting chance. What you really want to be judged on is the calibre of your work, not how you fill out a form,” he said.

Atherton said he needs $15,000 a year just to break even in music production, and though he's a bit jaded about arts councils, he might try his hand at applying for a grant one more time. He joked that his history of denials has made him more confident with women.

“I'll say, ‘She's out of my league – but wait, I got rejected by [Canada Council for the Arts] and survived, so maybe I'll try it. Can't be too bad,'” he said with a laugh. “You've got to have thick skin.”

Paula Abdul Not Returning To American Idol

Source:  www.thestar.com -
Associated Press

ugust 05, 2009) LOS ANGELES – Paula Abdul announced Tuesday she is quitting American Idol, a show that she said became an international phenomenon with her help.

"With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return" to the hit Fox TV singing contest, Abdul said in a posting on her Twitter account.

In a statement, Fox and the show's producers said Abdul was "an important part of the American Idol family over the last eight seasons, and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show."

They said she was a "tremendous talent" and wished her the best.

On Monday, Fox announced that Kara DioGuardi would return for a second season on the American Idol judging panel that includes Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. The addition of Grammy-nominated songwriter DioGuardi last year raised questions about Abdul's future.

In July, Abdul told The Associated Press that she had been invited to stay with Idol as long as the show lasted and that she was optimistic that she would be able to negotiate a new contract.

But the 47-year-old singer-dancer said the invitation to come back was subject to agreement on the details of a new deal.

Abdul began working with a new manager, David Sonenberg, in recent weeks.

"I'll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from Day 1 become an international phenomenon," Abdul said on Twitter.

New Maxwell Video Makes Rare, Online World Premiere

Source:  www.eurweb.com

ugust 05, 2009) *WHO: Steve Harvey, host of the nationally syndicated radio program The Steve Harvey Morning Show and Maxwell, Columbia Records modern R&B artist.

Maxwell's highly-anticipated music video for "Bad Habits," the second single from his #1 album BLACKsummers'night, will world premiere on www.steveharvey.com/.

The sizzling, hot video features Maxwell and actress Kerry Washington.

This unique opportunity will expose the video to Harvey's loyal audience of urban music fans. Steveharvey.com is the online destination for fans of Harvey and The Steve Harvey Morning Show - which is heard on more than 60 radio stations by approximately six million weekly listeners.

It's also the number-one syndicated morning show in the top 25 metro markets with Persons 12+, Adults 25-54, Adults 18-34, Adults 18-49 and Women 25-54 (Source: Arbitron, WI'09, MSA, Exact Times, AQH Top 25 Metros).

"Bad Habits" is charting at #9 on the Urban AC chart and trending upwards according to Mediabase, the leader in radio airplay monitoring. One of the year's most heavily anticipated records, first-week sales of BLACKsummers'night hit 316,499. Released on July 7, it's the first full-length Maxwell release since his critically-acclaimed #1 album Now.

WHEN: today, Wednesday, August 5, 2009
WHERE: http://www.steveharvey.com/

About Maxwell
  Maxwell began redefining classic soul music for a new generation with the release of his critically-acclaimed debut album, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, in April 1996. Fuelled in part by the RIAA gold single, "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)," the Grammy-nominated Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite was certified platinum in March 1997, less than a year after its release, and achieved double platinum status, in recognition of sales of more than 2 million copies in the US alone, in 2002. Maxwell followed up with his MTV Unplugged EP, released in July 1997 and certified gold in September 1999. His second full-length album, Embrya, was released in June 1998 and certified platinum in May 1999. Another Maxwell single, the hit "Fortunate," was certified gold in June 1999. His third studio album, Now, entered the Billboard 200 at #1 in August 2001. To date, Maxwell has achieved 10 gold and platinum certifications from the RIAA for his albums and singles.

For more information, Maxwell fans can visit his official website www.musze.com, www.myspace.com/maxwell, www.twitter.com/_maxwell or www.columbiarecords.com/.


Mary Mary Has No. 1 Song And Album


(July 31, 2009) *The Grammy Award winning duo Mary Mary has both the nation's No. 1 gospel song and gospel album this week as "God In Me," the latest single from the group's chart-topping "The Sound," moves from No. 6 to No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel Songs chart.  "The Sound" has occupied the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Gospel Album chart for more than six months since its release in October 2008 and has been No. 1 for 15 consecutive weeks beginning April 19.  The album has also spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart.  Featuring Kierra "Kiki" Sheard, "God In Me," perhaps the first gospel record to use auto-tune, continues Mary Mary's visionary blending of urban, hip-hop, soul, funk and pop elements with the power and conviction of their Christian message.

John Legend Teams With Gap's (Product) Red


(July 31, 2009) *John Legend is joining with Gap to create an exclusive (RED)ZONE seating section for his Aug. 13 concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  Every purchase at select Gap stores in the New York tri-state area will include a special access code enabling shoppers to obtain one ticket in the reserved RED(ZONE) section for John Legend's MSG show.  With each (RED)ZONE ticket purchase, shoppers will automatically receive a second ticket to the show free of charge. Additionally, a select number of fans seated in the (RED)ZONE section will be randomly selected to go backstage to meet Legend after the evening's performance.  Proceeds from the ticket sales in the (RED)ZONE will benefit HIV/AIDS programs in Africa supported by the Global Fund.  "I love working with (PRODUCT)RED because they provide an innovative way for great brands and great artists to come together to powerfully and effectively fight AIDS in Africa," said Legend. "I'm proud to be partnering with Gap and (RED) on my upcoming Madison Square Garden concert, because I know the money generated will go directly to help get medicine to those who need it."  Tickets are available by visiting www.johnlegend.com/red and entering the special access code as prompted - tickets are $66.00 each and are subject to limited availability. Fans can log on to www.gap.com/johnlegend to locate participating Gap stores in the New York tri-state area.

Costner Aims To Aid Victims Of Collapse

Source:  www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

ugust 05, 2009) CAMROSE, Alta.–Hollywood actor and singer Kevin Costner says he hopes to return to Alberta to support those affected by the Big Valley Jamboree catastrophe. "We are so sad about the loss of life and injury that occurred on a day that carried so much promise, but turned so wicked so quickly," Costner said in a statement. "We hope to return to Alberta in the future to help with the healing." Costner and his band, Modern West, were the next band scheduled to take the stage when a terrifying windstorm swept through the jamboree site on Saturday. The strong blast of wind collapsed the main stage so quickly that organizers didn't have time to warn thousands of fans around it. Concertgoer Donna Moore was killed when a giant speaker fell on her and two others were left with critical injuries. As many as 65 more were treated for non-life-threatening wounds. Costner was on the stage when it collapsed and was caught under some debris but was not injured. However, two of his crew members were hurt, said his publicist, Arnold Robinson.

Music, Moves And Mouthfuls

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Brad Wheeler

ugust 04, 2009) It's true that Harbourfront's South Asian food fair this weekend doesn't have the alliteration and exclamation of Masala Mehndi Masti, the bash that recently dominated Exhibition Place. It doesn't have that event's stature as North America's largest free South Asian festival, either, and it isn't hosted by a big telegenic star like Lisa Ray. But you can bet your bolly that Harbourfront's Zaika (running Friday to Sunday) has plenty cooking, with programs in an array of arts and culture, as well as zingy cuisine.  Music: Things start with an array of South Asian anthems sung by children tomorrow (7 p.m.), but the highlight comes from Rhythm Dhol Bass, a trio of brothers (and one of the sibling's wives) who blend mainstream Bollywood with hip hop (Saturday, 9:30 p.m., on the main stage).  Moves: Four programs of dance include the colourful choreography of Rhythm Team (traditional and classic Indian dance, Saturday, 1 p.m.); DK Bollywood Dance Pak (Saturday, 5:30 p.m.); Dandiya (stick-tapping folk dance, Saturday, 9 p.m.); and Shan-e-Punjab (Canadian-Punjabi dance squad, Sunday, 5 p.m.).  Mouthfuls: Speed-eating events have contestants gulping Golgappa (tiny, fried and roti-like; Saturday, 1:30 p.m.), downing dosa (crepes; Saturday, 3:30 p.m.), and talking with their mouths full (marshmallow-like sweets are stuffed in the yaps of competitors, who attempt to speak difficult phrases; Sunday, 3 p.m.).  Zaika: A South Asian Food Festival happens Aug. 7 to 9, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000.


Foxx, Latifah Together For 'Valentine's Day'


(July 31, 2009) *Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah and Carter Jenkins have joined the all-star cast of the romantic comedy "Valentine's Day," being directed by Garry Marshall for New Line.

The ensemble already includes Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Shirley MacLaine, Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace, Emma Roberts, Hector Elizondo, Patrick Dempsey and Eric Dane, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The project, already in production, follows five slightly interconnecting stories in Los Angeles on Valentine's Day.

Foxx plays a TV sports reporter who has been sent out on a "Valentine's Day in L.A." story instead of covering his usual beat. Latifah plays the agent for Dane's character, a football player.
Jenkins plays a young man with a hectic schedule who struggles to find time to lose his virginity with his girlfriend (Emma Roberts).

Foxx next stars in "Law Abiding Citizen." Latifah can be heard in "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs."

EUR REEL TALK: The Spotlight Is On Indie Film Makers Patrick Pierre

Source:  www.eurweb.com -
By J. Jermayne

ugust 05, 2009) *Film director, Patrick Pierre is set to become a household name. On August 18, 2009, Pierre’s debut feature film “The City is Mine” will be released.  Best Buy, Blockbuster, NetFlix, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and all major retailers will be carrying the DVD.

 “This is unreal; this is my first feature film, and to have your first feature film distributed worldwide is an incredible accomplishment,” says Pierre.

 “The City is Mine” is an urban crime drama that tells the story of a former drug king pin in a fictional city who went to jail for five years. Upon his release, he is out for revenge on the individuals who took control of the streets while he was gone. But, the twist comes when he meets and falls in love with a young lady.

“I wanted to make a good action movie with a lot of heart. You see a lot of urban drama and there’s action but no substance,” says Pierre.

“The City Is Mine” intertwines the grittiness of the street, the vulnerability of romance, and the dilemma of having the heart to do what has to be done, either regain the city or proceed with love.

Pierre is excited about “The City Is Mine” which screened to a sold out crowd in his hometown Trenton, New Jersey. He credits the wider exposure the film will get to his participation in the American Black Film Festival, which afforded him the opportunity to meet distributors. Thus, allowing for the major retail distribution “The City Is Mine” will have on August 18, 2009. Presently, the trailer is available on youtube.

Pierre’s upcoming projects include a film called “Visions of Yvette” and hopes to work with superstar singer Mary J. Blige.  As both a writer and director, Pierre likes to challenge himself to take on new and un-chartered projects. “The City Is Mine” is the gateway in Pierre’s vision of continual groundbreaking films.

Filmmaker Rashaad Ernesto Green will undertake his first feature film, “Gunn Hill Road,” this fall. The film is based on his cousin’s life’s story connected to his gay son.

Green is no stranger to pulling from personal experience when building his stories. His recent short, “Cuts,” was inspired by his own experience. The young boy in the film, having struck out in the game of baseball, tries to prove his manhood to his father by pursuing a girl.

Green has triumphed with several shorts, earning awards at several film festivals, including recognition in 2009 at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Green has also been a winner of the American Black Film Festival HBO shorts competition with his 2008 “Premature” short.

A New York native, Green has had the opportunity to work with director Spike Lee, who he has been compared to. For more on Rashaad Ernesto Green visit www.mialmafilms.com.   

BETJ, HBO, and Showtime have all had a part in screening the films of Ya’Ke Smith whose films include “Shopping,” “Change,” and “Hope’s War.”

Smith, a Houston native, has been writing, directing, and producing film for 13 years. His films have not only screened on major cable networks, but have also garnered attention at film fests including: The Los Angeles Pan African, The Cannes, and ABFF.

The subject matter of Smith’s films has varied, but has had a pulse on the events of the day including the foreclosure situation many Americans find themselves in, the Iraq War, and post-Hurricane Katrina story lines. Smith is both an avid writer and researcher. His films portray the reality of the subject matter because he submerges himself in the stories when he approaches the topics.

“What we put on the screen is like what a painter puts on the canvas; they’re sort of creating their reality on this canvas; we’re putting our reality on screen,” Smith says of himself and other film directors.

Smith says the challenges for filmmakers and artists of any kind are difficult.

“Being a filmmaker it’s hard so you gotta keep your spirits up. I keep mine up by laughing,” says Smith.

Smith does believe in the destiny of his film career.

“I believe that this is what God has ordained me to do and that’s one of the reasons that I just can’t stop because I know that when you’re sort of chasing after destiny that it’s hard, and what does it say? The race is not given to the swift but the one who endures to the end because that’s the only way you’re going to have staying power, is if you stay in the game.”

For more on Smith’s films visit www.exodusfilmworks.com

Learning From Julia

Source:  www.thestar.com - John Hiscock,
Special To The Star

ugust 04, 2009) LOS ANGELES — Meryl Streep is the first to admit she is not a wonderful cook. But, she says proudly, she knows her way around a kitchen a lot better since portraying Julia Child, the woman who changed the way North America cooks.

Roasting the perfect chicken, browning meat properly – even cleaning garlic and onion from the fingers – are all tips she learned while filming Julie & Julia, the lighthearted story of Child and writer-blogger Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams.

"There was a whole kitchen set up at the studio and I practised my cooking there," Streep says. "I could justify it because it was part of my job. I've been cooking roast chicken for 30 years, but I'd been doing it wrong, and Julia Child has a recipe that is absolutely foolproof. It's the difference between doing it pretty well and doing it great.

"But to cook well takes practice and, to be honest, I feel much more confident about my acting skills than my cooking skills. I like very simple things. A perfect roast chicken with a salad and a glass of Sancerre is my idea of heaven."

Child, who died in 2004 at age 92, was the first American woman to study at Paris's famous Cordon Bleu cooking school, and the popularity of her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, led to a TV show and a cooking career that made her a household name.

For the movie, writer-director Nora Ephron adapted and interwove two memoirs, Child's My Life In France and Powell's Julie & Julia, about her attempt to cook her way through Child's masterpiece – 524 recipes in 365 days – and chronicle her efforts on a blog.

The film alternates between Child's life with her husband in France and, 50 years later, Powell's life in a New York apartment with her husband, portraying the couples' shared passion for their spouses and for food.

"When you talk about passion, Julia Child didn't have it just for her husband or cooking; she had a passion for living," Streep says. "What was compelling about her was her joie de vivre and her unwillingness to be bogged down in negativity. She loved being alive and that's inspirational in itself.

"I saw her cooking shows when I was a kid. She was a pioneer because she was one of the first women on television who wasn't an entertainer and she was already 50 years old, with her personality indelibly created by her life experience. There was no focus group telling her how to dress and look, and her generous nature was what drew people to her."

Child was less generous in her dealings with Streep.

Twenty years ago, when the actress was working with a group called Mothers and Others, which she started to try to get organic products into supermarkets, she contacted Child to enlist her support.

"She was very resistant and she brushed us off quite brusquely," Streep recalls. "She sent word back that she didn't have anything to say on the subject and she really resisted making a connection between the high-fat diet of a heavily laden Cordon-Bleu-influenced cuisine and cholesterol levels."

On the surface, the two women have little in common, as Child was awkward and 6-foot-2 while Streep is an elegant 5-foot-8, but the actress feels a link with the indefatigable cook through her mother, who shared "an undeniable sense of how to enjoy her life. So this is my homage to her spirit."

What Streep's mother didn't have was a flair for cooking. "My mother only had one cookbook and it was called The I Hate to Cook Book and she used to say, `If it's not done in 20 minutes, it's not dinner.'"

Streep recalls when she was 10seeing a neighbour at the kitchen table with what looked like tennis balls. "I asked what they were doing and she told me they were making mashed potatoes, and I said, `What do you mean? Mashed potatoes come in a box!' Because, in my house, they did."

At 60, Streep is one of the leading actresses of her generation, with a record 13 Oscar nominations and two wins, for Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice. She is still working hard, having gone straight from Mamma Mia! to Doubt to Julie & Julia, then on to a romantic comedy she has just finished with Steve Martin.

She has had little time for cooking, but when she does she has the appreciative support of her husband of 30 years, sculptor Don Gummer.

"He's amazing, because he just likes everything I make," she says. "There's nothing better than when you are a little disappointed in what you've tried, he doesn't notice that it didn't turn out so good.

"But I don't make excuses. That's another thing Julia taught me: Don't apologize, because it always makes it taste worse. If they didn't notice it was bad, shut up. Bon appétit!"

She laughs a Julia Child laugh.


Plenty Of High-Profile Canadian Content At This Year's TIFF

Source:  www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

ugust 04, 2009) Films from Canadian heavyweights Atom Egoyan, Don McKellar, Sandra Oh and Christopher Plummer are among the homegrown offerings coming to the Toronto International Film Festival this September. Festival organizers announced the Canadian slate of movies at a news conference today in downtown Toronto. Galas include Egoyan's Chloe, a sexual thriller starring Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson. McKellar stars in Dilip Mehta's Cooking With Stella as a chef in New Delhi, while Oh appears alongside Woody Harrelson in the superhero flick, Defendor. Also coming to TIFF is the North American premiere of the Terry Gilliam-directed The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, featuring the late Heath Ledger in his last role. Plummer also appears. The festival will be closed by Jean-Marc Vallee's Young Victoria, a dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria's rule and her enduring romance with Prince Albert. TIFF runs Sept. 10 to 19.


Critics' Awards The Anti-Emmy? Not Quite

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(August 03, 2009) PASADENA, Calif. - The 25th annual Television Critics Awards were handed out here Saturday night, with Battlestar Galactica winning Program of the Year, Mad Men Outstanding Drama, The Big Bang Theory Outstanding Comedy and True Blood Outstanding New Program.

The Vancouver-shot Galactica could be considered a surprise winner – though not to anyone in the room that night, as critics more than anyone else have embraced and celebrated this remarkable show. Emmy voters are a different story: in its four seasons, the show won only two, both for Special Visual Effects.

But to quote Angela Lansbury – and several did that evening – from her 1996 TCA acceptance speech for Career Achievement, "F--- the Emmys."

That being said, and so eloquently, this year's TCA Awards were atypically reflective of recent and current Emmy contenders. In an anecdotal retrospective of the ceremony's 25-year history, founding member Ed Bark recalled such Emmy-overlooked TCA honourees as Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire, Lonesome Dove and, twice now, Hugh Laurie.

But the Emmys may finally be catching on. Big Bang Theory's breakout star, Jim Parsons, the TCA winner for Individual Achievement in Comedy, is also nominated in the corresponding Emmy category. Yet Big Bang itself, voted TCA's Outstanding Comedy, will go unacknowledged by Emmy this year.

Mad Men was an Emmy winner last year and is nominated again. Likewise, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, honoured by the TCA for Best Individual Achievement in Drama, was also an Emmy winner last year and now again a nominee.

The Toronto-shot Grey Gardens, the TCA's Outstanding Movie/Miniseries, is all over the Emmys this year, in the same category, and also with co-stars Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lang both vying for Best Movie/Mini Actress.

This compelling dramatization of the documented lives of destitute Kennedy cousins Big and Little Edie Beale, reveals, according to awards host Chelsea Handler, "the slippery slope from shoving a Hot Pocket in your purse to having racoons living in your walls."

Additional TCA honours went to HBO's Alzheimer's Project for News & Information and Yo Gabba Gabba for Children's Programming. Along with all the other winners, ER star Noah Wylie was on hand to accept the TCA Heritage Award on that show's behalf, and television veteran (since 1949) Betty White came to collect hers for Career Achievement.

The uniquely convivial, strictly private event is traditionally preceded by the biannual business meeting of the 200-plus TCA critics, catered the last few years by "TV's Craig Ferguson," a former awards host, accompanied as always by a handwritten note, which this year read: "I wanted to send you fish and chips, but that comes wrapped in newspaper, and you can't find that stuff any more. So enjoy this pizza instead."

At cocktail parties pre- and après-awards, honourees and honourers munched and mingled, the Galactica gang particularly ebullient over the after-the-act recognition of the just-ended sci-fi series.

They are also, no doubt, glad to already be gainfully employed, particularly the Canadian contingent: Tricia Helfer has four or five projects on the go, including the pilot episode of Human Target this fall. Michael Hogan has a guest shot alongside Jamie Bamber and series regular Tahmoh Penikett on Dollhouse. Grace Park has joined the cast of The Border.

Cosmic colleague Katee Sackhoff has scored a role on the next season of 24 – though perhaps not quite as active a role as she may have hoped.

"I'm stuck in the CTU headquarters," complains the former faux fighter pilot. "And once you're in there, you can't get out for weeks and weeks. And you have to wear the same outfit every day.

"I want to get out there and mix it up. Give this girl a gun."

Michelle Forbes was simultaneously celebrating the Battlestar win and another for the first season of True Blood. Yet all she talked about all night was the Canadian-made Durham County, in which she also has a featured role.

"It's an incredible show," she raved to anyone within earshot. "One of the best things I've ever done."

BACK TO THE FUTURAMA: I managed to get this onto our website (exclusively, I might add) Friday afternoon, even as it was happening. But for those who still prefer paper, here it is again:

All five members of the Futurama voice cast – Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille – have resolved their salary dispute with Fox and will indeed return for the new 26-episode season recently ordered by Comedy Central.

Negotiating tactics got ugly last month when studio execs pre-emptively announced a casting-call audition for voice talent to replace the original actors.

"We are thrilled to have our incredible cast back," creator Matt Groening and co-producer David X. Cohen said in a joint statement shortly after the Star broke the story. "The call has already gone out to the animators to put the mouths back on the characters."


Futurama Cast Members Ink New Deal With Fox

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(July 31, 2009) LOS ANGELES–The Star has learned exclusively that the entire voice cast of Futurama has just signed a new contract with Fox after weeks of intense salary negotiations. As late as last week, the network was threatening to replace the original voices of Matt Groening's cult-hit cartoon, to the point of actually announcing a casting call for voice actors to replace them.  The Futurama voice cast includes John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Billy West, Tress MacNeille and Katey Sagal. The compromise agreement, with the studio paying more and the actors accepting less, comes after the announcement of a 26-episode pick-up here by Comedy Central. Futurama also airs internationally in syndication, has produced four bestselling straight-to-DVD movies (later cut into episodes) and an upcoming feature film. "We are thrilled to have our incredible cast back. The call has already `gone out to the animators to put the mouths back on the characters," Futurama creators Groening and David X. Cohen said in a joint statement.

CBC Denies The National Is Moving

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

ugust 05, 2009) CBC's senior programming brass has a secret plan to move the public broadcaster's flagship nightly news program The National from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. to make room for more prime-time entertainment programming, an industry watchdog group says. The plan was strenuously denied yesterday by Kirstine Layfield, the executive director of English network programming. Ian Morrison, a spokesperson for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting lobby group, told the Star the new prime-time shows may not be Canadian and that The National may be reduced by 30 minutes. The shorter news program would save the cash-strapped broadcaster several million dollars in costs traditionally attached to the nightly newscast, hosted by Peter Mansbridge.  Layfield, through a spokesman, called the Friends alert "absolutely false" and "a baseless rumour." She demanded it be removed from the watchdog's website, friends.ca. She added that CBC's fall schedule, yet to be made public, will contain more Canadian content, not less. Morrison remains unconvinced. "Very reliable, trustworthy sources at the highest levels in the CBC tell us The National move will definitely be happening sometime in the fall, maybe as early as September," he said. "The CBC board of directors hasn't been told of the plan." What might happen to The Hour with George Stroumbolopoulos, which at present follows The National at 11 p.m., is open to conjecture, Morrison added. "It doesn't make economic sense to swap the two shows, since The Hour, even in an earlier slot, is unlikely to draw an audience larger than 175,000, while The National currently has 800,000 viewers."

CBS Books Brady-Hosted 'Let's Make A Deal'


ugust 04, 2009) *Wayne Brady has been tapped to host an update of the classic game show "Let's Make a Deal," which CBS has revived to replace its recently cancelled daytime soap "Guiding Light."  "The original "Let's Make A Deal" was a game show staple when it was hosted by Monty Hall from 1963-1977. Hall will return as a creative consultant on this latest version.  "I am honoured and ready to go; it is not every day that you get to be a part of a franchise like "Let's Make A Deal," said Brady. "I think it's a perfect fit."  After announcing in April that "Guiding Light" would end its 72-year run on Sept. 18, CBS began a search for a replacement that was focused primarily on game shows.  "Wayne Brady is a unique talent whose extraordinary skills in both hosting and improvisation make him the perfect choice to host this legendary and engaging show. We are thrilled to be adding him and "Let's Make A Deal" to the number one daytime line-up," says Barbara Bloom, Senior Vice President, Daytime Programs, CBS. "We're also very lucky to have Monty Hall as our creative consultant, bringing with him a knowledge of game shows that will prove invaluable as we present this classic game show to a whole new audience.


Jude Law Rules Hamlet

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

(August 03, 2009) LONDON–What a piece of work is Jude Law's Hamlet.

If anyone in the long sold-out audiences at Wyndham's Theatre (or the eager crowds who line up at 4 a.m. for the 30 rush seats available each day) is coming just to watch the cinematic satyr splash around in the Shakespearean shallows, they are bound to be seriously disappointed.

Law isn't offering one of those misguided movie-star visits to the stage that prove as embarrassing as they are profitable (Julia Roberts, all is not forgiven).

Quite the contrary. Law fills the cavernous spaces of Michael Grandage's clear, chilly production with a rare intensity, coupling icily precise diction with fluidity of motion that most performers from Cirque du Soleil would envy.

From his very first soliloquy ("O, that this too too solid flesh would melt") Law makes it clear that he means business. He's consumed with a hatred for his own body and the world it inhabits, spitting out words like "rank" and "gross" as though they choked him and illustrating the "dexterity" with which his mother betrayed his father with a convulsive shudder that makes itself felt throughout the theatre.

Law is fond of the extravagant gesture, the contemptuous sneer, the bold delineation of emotion. It makes for a richly theatrical and always riveting Hamlet, but it's neither as intellectually rigorous as that of Ben Carlson nor as deeply passionate as that of Paul Gross, to name two examples from the last decade at Stratford.

Much has been made of the fact that Law begins: "To be or not to be," the most famous of all Hamlet's speeches, flattened against a craggy battlement in a snowstorm, but it's the perfect objective correlative for Grandage's wintry view of the play.

Taking as his cue the line: "Denmark's a prison," Grandage commissioned a set of towering walls that extend seemingly to infinity from designer Christopher Oram.

From windows at a great height, Neil Austin's lighting hits the actors in shafts of frigid white illumination, pinning them down like butterflies on a specimen table. There is virtually no furniture and almost everyone wears black (of no particular period, but with a modern feel). Although some writers have criticized this socio-political vagueness, I found it actually liberated the script to stand on its own.

Grandage keeps things moving briskly and the virtually uncut show whizzes by in just over three hours.

Most of the supporting cast are strong, especially Denmark's royal couple. Kevin R. McNally begins by playing Claudius with such oleaginous blandness that I went into intermission feeling disappointed by his work. But as the events of the play unravel, so does McNally, showing us the tortured demon underneath and offering us insights into a creature truly damned long before his final demise.

Penelope Wilton's Gertrude is daringly vulnerable, a woman long past her prime, holding onto the shreds of one last passion, however soiled it may make her feel inside. Her confrontation scene with Law is one of the night's most electric. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a wonderfully complete Ophelia, making every aspect of her character – from moonstruck love to pathetic madness – fit into one overall conception of the role.

On the down side, Alex Waldmann gives us a Laertes made up of posey attitudes and Ron Cook's Polonius has such an air of recycled material that it should have arrived in a blue box.

But in the end, Law is the reason you've come to the theatre. He will always fascinate you and often thrill you, but seldom move you, for this is not by any means a sentimental production.

This very contemporary man is fighting desperately to hold on to some inner integrity, some true sense of self, while the manipulating world around him is intent on turning him into just one more malleable cipher.


Richard Jeanty In 'Dangerous' Territory

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

(August 03, 2009) “The title “The Most Dangerous Gang in America: The Police,” came from the police themselves,” Jeanty said. “I talked to many cops and I have friends and family members that are police officers that admitted to being in a gang – the toughest gang in the world. When you look at the way they operate most of the time, that’s what they act like. Police officers have to stick together no matter what, whether they’re right or wrong.”

Richard Jeanty’s book “The Most Dangerous Gang in America: The Police,” touches on a number aspects of police injustice, profiling, stereotypes, hiding behind procedures, and brutality toward homosexuals. The book also covers the other side of the coin in revealing the criminals’ role in perpetuating these issues.

With the recent arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jeanty's book couldn't be more timely. Professor Gates was arrested in his home two weeks ago and charged with disorderly conduct. The charges were quickly dropped in swirl of debate of the racist overtones of the arrest.

Jeanty, who considered the charge bogus believes that “cops have the liberty to throw around the words ‘disorderly conduct’ when there is nothing else they can pin on somebody.”

He told EUR’s Lee Bailey that this particular false arrest is common on police forces all over the country and continued that the information he shares in “The Most Dangerous Gang” is very relatable to the recent incident.

“When a police officer is called to a scene, they’re supposed to try to tone everything down, not escalate everything, but a lot of times when they're called on the scene, especially the arrogant cops, they’re all about trying to arrest somebody or tell somebody to shut up. Sometimes they just don’t know how to assert control in the proper way and they escalate the situation and most of the time it results in death for us,” he said.

 “But my book is not one-sided,” he continued. “It also talks about the criminal activities that go on that the police have to deal with as well, but more importantly my book is talks about the escalating situations brought on by cops.”

Jeanty’s book isn’t without the cops' perspective, he revealed. As a matter of fact, he said that it was police officers who self-proclaimed themselves as the “toughest gang.”

“The title came from the police themselves,” he said. “I talked to many cops and I have many friends and family members that are police officers that admitted to being a gang – being the toughest gang in the world. When you look at the way they operate most of the time, that’s what they act like. Police officers have to stick together no matter what, whether they’re right or wrong.”

Furthermore, the author talks about how African American officers find themselves caught in the gang mentality also. In reflecting upon how black officers spoke out in defense of Sergeant James Crowley, the officer involved in the Gates incident, Jeanty said that the Police Benevolent Association had quickly orchestrated it.

“The most powerful force around the police force is the police union,” he said. “They put that together.”

Jeanty said that African American police officers find that they have to be a part of the police fraternity and that change will come about only when there are more black officers on the force.

“African Americans who join the force sort of have to become part of that. They’re still in the minority. You don’t have enough African American cops on any police force around the country to make a big enough difference to help change these people’s attitudes.

 In the meantime, Jeanty said, black officers still have to watch out.

 “These cops can defend another cop as much as they want, but when they’re out of uniform, they can be victimized just as much. I talk about that in the book,” he said and then reflected on the black New York officer who was chasing somebody that broke into his car, but was shot and killed when a responding white officer shot him in the head.

“And we saw on national news when that police captain in Florida was pulled over and identified himself as an officer, but he was still treated like he was nothing,” he continued.

Jeanty, who said that he had been a victim of the police on more than one occasion, said that the Gates could have easily been more intensified or even tragic.

“If Louis Gates wasn’t as prominent as he is, he would’ve had to deal with a criminal smear on his record. And this happens every day,” he said.

 Jeanty said that he believes that even the President of the United States, who initially remarked that the Cambridge Police had acted “stupidly,” had a personal stake in the matter.

“He wasn’t the politically correct Obama that he usually is because it came from a personal place,” he said. “Knowing what he knows and the experience he has, he couldn’t fake it. Obama understands, him being the president of the most powerful country in the world still doesn’t put an end to what we as black men have to deal with every day. He understands that.”

 “The stereotype is that we’re mostly drug dealers, we’re thieves, we’re robbers – we can’t be anything else. Those things have to be broken down, but they’re not yet, so I talk about that in the book,” Jeanty said.

 Jeanty’s “The Most Dangerous Gang in America: The Police” is available now.

 “I do have a follow up I’m calling ‘The Most Dangerous Murderers in America: The Police,” he said. “With that one I’m going to be highlighting the cases where they’ve actually killed people for no reason and they were never prosecuted.”

“I’m one of those guys who truly believes that if I don’t stand for something, I can fall for anything,” he said. “I can go out there and get shot for no reason. I’d rather get shot for a reason than stay silent and be killed without a voice.”

Read part 1 HERE.


We Remember Black Supermodel Naomi Sims


ugust 05, 2009) *Naomi Sims, considered by many to be the first black supermodel, died over the weekend following a long battle with cancer, according to her son, Bob Findlay. She was 61.  The Mississippi native grew up a foster child in Pittsburgh and broke into the modeling business in the mid-sixties after moving to New York City. After appearing on the covers of several high profile magazines, she became the first black woman to grace the cover of "Ladies' Home Journal" in November 1968.  Later she appeared on the covers of Life, Cosmopolitan and Essence, sewing the seeds of what would become the Black is Beautiful movement.  Sims launched several successful businesses in the 70s, including a wig company for black women that became a multi-million dollar enterprise. She has also written several books geared toward black women, success and beauty – most notably "All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman.”


Surprising Movement That Startles The Eye

www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

Ballet Biarritz / BJM Danse Montréal
Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur
In Saint-Sauveur, Que., on Friday and Saturday

(August 03, 2009) If you love the new and the different in dance, FASS should be on your radar. The initials stand for Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur whose calling card is presenting North American premieres.

Take for example France's
Ballet Biarritz, which performed before embarking on a tour of South America. In short, FASS bagged the first showing on this continent of choreographer Thierry Malandain's Le Sang des Étoiles (Blood of the Stars) . The work proved to be utterly refreshing, beautifully danced and imaginatively conceived.

The festival, situated in the Laurentides resort town north of Montreal, also presents a playbill of Canadian dance and music, but rarely seen foreign companies are the jewel in its crown.

The word “ballet” in Ballet Biarritz is a misnomer. It refers to the fact that the 16 dancers are impeccably ballet trained, which is obvious in Malandain's choreography. The dance aesthetic, however, is relentlessly contemporary.

Le Sang des Étoiles is inspired by the myth of Callisto and her son Arcas from Ovid's Metamorphoses . After being seduced by Zeus, Callisto is turned into a bear roaming the forest by Zeus's jealous wife Hera. When Callisto is about to be shot during a hunt by the adult Arcas, Zeus deflects the arrow and reunites mother and son as bears in heaven. Le Sang des Étoiles is much more than storytelling. One of Malandain's signatures is his clever use of classical music, and while he does put aspects of the myth into his choreography, such as the rape of Callisto duet, he also uses the music of Mahler, Strauss, Emile Waldteufel and Ludwig Minkus as commentary.

For example, the lush, romantic strains of Strauss's Blue Danube accompanies a group dance to depict the rapture of hormones raging as a disguised Zeus seduces Callisto through the waltz. Similarly, another company ensemble danced to Waldteufel's fiery Espana waltz to symbolize Hera's anger. The poignant Mahler songs are used mostly for scenes of great passion or emotion such as the beautiful trio showing the birth of Arcas and his twin, only to have one twin be taken away, representing the jealousy of Hera.

The metamorphoses of Callisto is delightfully witty. As the company performs an ensemble representing Callisto's memories, both happy and sad, across the back of the stage comes a line of dancers holding hands, each one wearing sections of the bear costume: The first person has a leg covered in fur, the second person, two legs and an arm, and so forth, until the penultimate dancer is wearing the entire body costume. The final dancer sports the bear's head.

Malandain's choreographic movement is filled with illusions. The opening section is performed to Strauss's rousing Marche Egyptienne . The motif that appears throughout this choreography is the stiff-leg, stiff-arm look of a mechanical doll. Later, we recognize that this motif represents the bear walk. Malandain also has different dancers perform the key roles, making the myth a universal rather than a particular story.

As a choreographer, Malandain loves supple bodies, and he bends and moulds his dancers into stunning shapes that flow seamlessly together. He also throws in flexed feet and arms, shudders, contractions, distortions, flat-footed jumps – all manner of deliberately surprising movement combinations that startle the eye. The effect is to take dance to a deeper level of meaning.

Malandain's pièce de résistance is to borrow shamelessly from the Russian classic La Bayadère . Instead of a single line of ballerinas representing the shades of the dead, Malandain uses Marius Petipa's famous repeating choreography for his line of bears. This parody is a huge risk, but it works.

Praise should also go to costume designer Jorge Gallardo, who has provided richly hued blue and black tunics, skirts, bodices, dresses and jackets, worn by both sexes, depending on the scene. All the men and women garbed in sumptuous full skirts during the Strauss waltz were delicious eye candy.

Also appearing at FASS's opening weekend was the always popular BJM Danse Montréal (the former Les Ballets Jazz) in a clever program that twinned Vancouver's Crystal Pite ( Short Works: 24 ) with New York-based Aszure Barton ( Jack in a Box ), both works which have been favourably reviewed before. The first is a collection of 24-minute vignettes that shows dancers in many emotional moods. Barton's piece depicts the changing interest as school kids grow into adults, including the all-important pursuit of sex.

The women are two of Canada's leading choreographers who happen to be both witty and demanding dancesmiths. It was fascinating to see Pite's sleek and detailed gestural language and body isolations on the same program as Barton's easy flow and looser, high-energy physicality. The company looks really good performing original choreography as it seems both young and fresh.

Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur continues until Aug. 8, see www.fass.ca for details.

Can Evan Dance His Way To The Top?

Source:  www.thestar.com - Debra Yeo,
Toronto Star

ugust 05, 2009) He has endured a season's worth of short jokes. And judge Nigel Lythgoe once told him he looked like "a dancing milkshake."

But Evan Kasprzak, the diminutive dancer from Michigan, is standing tall as one of the four finalists on
So You Think You Can Dance.

We know lots of you are going to watch tonight when Kasprzak, a 21-year-old university student who's reportedly been dancing since he was 6, faces off against Brandon Bryant, 19, Jeanine Mason, 18, and Kayla Radomski, 18, for the title of "America's Favourite Dancer."

SYTYCD was the top-rated show in Canada last week, with a whopping 1.9 million viewers tuning in Thursday to find out who was in the top four and 1.6 million catching last Wednesday's performance show.

Alas, it's America that gets to do the choosing, not us. Our turn comes next week with Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, which premieres Tuesday.

In the meantime, how about that Evan?

It would be fair to call him the surprise of the season. He's a Broadway dancer who can be elegant one moment, reminiscent of Gene Kelly in An American in Paris, but pulling faces and acting goofy the next, more like Donald O'Connor in Singin' in the Rain.

The judges have not always been kind. "There just didn't appear to be anything passionate in your face," Mary Murphy told him after a rumba with Mason. "You've got sort of heavy eyelids, which sometimes makes you look like you're drowsy."

By Kasprzak's own admission, in an interview with the New York Post, he's not the sexy type. "Shaking my hips and getting a little sexy are definitely out of my comfort zone," he said. Still, there's something that enabled him to vault past more macho competitors like Ade Obayomi.

As guest judge Ellen DeGeneres put it a couple of weeks ago: "I love that you have just an essence about you that's Evan. You're not just like another dancer. You're a special, special guy."

Another guest judge, choreographer Debbie Allen, pointed out that the dancer who wins isn't always the best, just the favourite.

Tonight's performance show airs at 8 p.m. on Fox and CTV; the finale's tomorrow at 8. We take a look at the final four:

Putting best feet forward

One of these four will step away with $250,000 U.S. and the title of ``America’s favourite dancer.’’ So You Think You Can Dance wraps up with a two-hour performance show tonight and a two-hour finale tomorrow, packed with favourite past routines and guest judges.

Brandon, 19

Why he might win: He’s a powerhouse dancer, able to tackle any style and make it look effortless. His lifts and acrobatics are breathtaking.

Why he might not: Viewers might assume he’s so good they don’t have to vote for him.

Memorable moment: His solo last week, an athletic tour de force that he performed to “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana, won him a standing ovation from the judges. Nigel Lythgoe declared it “one of the best solos we’ve ever seen on the show.”

Evan, 21

Why he might win: He has an underdog charm and warmth. He really does remind you of Gene Kelly sometimes, particularly during his solos.

Why he might not: He’s not as physically commanding or technically proficient as Brandon.

Memorable moment: During the top 10 show, Evan had to do a Viennese waltz with the taller Kayla, which involved some difficult lifts. Guest judge Debbie Allen’s assessment? “You handled your big woman, baby.”

Jeanine, 18

Why she might win: Sassy and sexy, she puts her all into every number. Guest judge Lil’ C says she has a “voracious appetite for success and triumph.”

Why she might not: Her technique isn’t as flawless as Kayla’s or Brandon’s.

Memorable moment: In an emotional contemporary number with dancer Jason Glover, Jeanine played a character trying to resist her best friend’s advances. It brought the pair a standing ovation. “Wow girl, whatever happens you are going to have an amazing future, because you are a star,” said judge Mary Murphy.

Kayla, 18

Why she might win: She’s been on Mary Murphy’s Hot Tamale Train for weeks. The judges can’t say enough about the perfection of her technique and her beautiful lines.

Why she might not: There’s almost an air of teacher’s pet to the non-stop praise. She may be a little too perfect.

Memorable moment: She was superb in a Broadway routine with Jason that led guest judge Mia Michaels to declare that Kayla will win Tony after Tony after Tony if she takes her talent to Broadway for real. “When you look in the dictionary at girl, perfection and star, there’s a picture of Kayla.”


Tiger Woods Leaves Everyone In His Dust

Source: www.thestar.com - Larry Lage,
Associated Press

(August 03, 2009) GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich.–Tiger Woods has another trophy for his overflowing collection.

Woods shot a 69 yesterday and coasted to a three-shot victory with a 20-under 268 at the Buick Open for the 69th PGA Tour title of his career.

"This one feels good," he said.

He improved to 36-1 when he has the outright lead after 54 holes. Woods has four wins this season – doubling the total of his nearest competitors – in just 11 starts since returning from knee surgery.

Roland Thatcher (64) briefly shared the lead at 17 under and finished tied for second with Greg Chalmers (68) and John Senden (70).

Woods will play at the Bridgestone Invitational next before going to Hazeltine for the PGA Championship, his final chance to win a major this year.

He is set to compete in two straight tournaments going into a major for the first time in his career.

Woods moved into first place in the FedEx Cup standings and padded his lead on the money list with another $918,000 (U.S.) after winning his third Buick Open, tying Vijay Singh's record total.

Woods' career victory total trails Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82). He reached victory No. 69 at the age of 33 years and seven months – almost seven years quicker than Nicklaus and eight years sooner than Snead.

Dating to the 2006 British Open, he has won 21 of 39 starts on the PGA Tour.

Woods, playing for the first time since missing the cut at the British Open, got off to a brutal start at the Buick Open.

He shot a 71 in the first round and said it was probably the worst putting performance of his career, leading to him skipping his post-round practice session because he was so mad.

It only added to his legacy because he went from a tie for 95th to a victory, the largest jump he has made from the first round in a tournament he ended up winning.

"I was so far back that I was fortunate enough to put two good rounds together," he said.

Woods roared back into contention with the best five-hole start of his career – going 6 under in the second round – en route to a 9-under 63.

He hit the ball relatively poor in the third round, but made enough clutch shots to finish with a 65 and a one-shot lead going into yesterday.

Without much of a sweat, he avoided losing an outright lead after 54 holes for the first time since 1996 and improved to 47-3 when he at least shares the lead following three rounds.

Thatcher shot a 9 under yesterday and shared the lead briefly, but Woods pulled away with 15 holes left on a vulnerable Warwick Hills.

Woods, whose previous three wins this year were each by one shot, spent much of yesterday with a two-shot cushion before he took a three-stroke lead with birdie at 16.

His businesslike final round included three birdies and no bogeys.

"I got fooled a few times by the wind and I hit some bad shots," Woods said.


Long-Time Gymnastics Coach And Judge Dies

Source: www.thestar.com - David Grossman,
Sports Reporter

(August 03, 2009) One of the builders of gymnastics in Canada, Dr. Gene Sutton, died yesterday in Hamilton. Sutton, since 1993, was a former executive member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, but spent a great deal of her time as a teacher, coach and judge of gymnastics since 1976. She judged the sport at numerous international events including the Olympic Games. A former president of Sport Hamilton, Sutton was on a committee to try bring the 2010 Commonwealth Games to the Steel City. Thousands of students benefitted from Sutton's dedication to gymnastics and she was Chair of the Canadian Olympic Academy as well as an instructor in sport and recreation at Mohawk College. In 2003, Sutton was the Chef de Mission for the Canadian team at the Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo. A member of the Gymnastics Canada Board of Directors for 21 years, Sutton was instrumental in developing a new model for judging gymnastics at the school and club levels while with Gymnastics Ontario.