20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (416) 677-5883
                                                                                                                                                                                                 langfieldent@rogers.com
                                                                                                                                                                                 www.langfieldentertainment.com

LE NEWSLETTER

June 4, 2009

Now this weather is starting to make sense for this time of year - weather in Toronto is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get! 

The week's hot event is Tyler Perry's
The Marriage Counselor play which is a hit and it is HOT!! You've heard about it and now it is coming to The Elgin Theatre on June 16th through to the 21st. The fans love it! The music is so incredible, it brings audiences to their feet as they dance in the aisles! And there is a SPECIAL OFFER to my subscribers!!  See details below.

This week brings a special write-up by my two nieces (
Jaime and Mackenzie Kearnan) on their review of the Dallas Green (City and Colour) concert held last week at Massey Hall - I'm so proud! 

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

This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members. 

::HOT EVENTS::

Tyler Perry's The Marriage Counselor - Elgin Theatre on June 16 - 21 - Exclusive Offer!

Source: Michael Charles

New reduced rates exclusive to Langfield Entertainment newsletter subscribers!  When purchasing through Ticketmaster.ca use Promo Code "Profile" to receive special discounted ticket rates not available to the general public.  Order online at www.ticketmaster.ca or call 416.368.4300.  Offer Valid until 12 Midnight on Saturday, June 6th only - So Act Now!  Makes A Great Father's Day Gift!

The word is out! Tyler Perry's The Marriage Counselor is a hit and it is HOT!! You've heard about it and now it is coming to The Elgin Theatre on June 16th through to the 21st. The fans love it! The music is so incredible, it brings audiences to their feet as they dance in the aisles!

Tyler Perry, the No. 1 urban playwright in America has created yet another exceptional piece of inspired work as well as introduced new talent to the world. Tyler Perry’s “The Marriage Counselor” gives an account of marriage that puts the quest to the test. With the comedic craftsmanship of his amazing talent, Tyler Perry presents different segments that identify the quality of marriage. Roger Jackson (Tony Grant) and his wife Judith (Tamar Davis) the marriage counselor would appear to have the perfect marriage. Roger’s father, Floyd (Palmer Williams, Jr.) and Judith’s mom, T.T. (Altrinna Grayson) are temporary house guests post Katrina. Judith, the professional Ivy league-educated marriage counselor gives marital advice to couples who are confused and bewildered. However, what about her own marriage? Who can counsel the counselor when she turns to a certain college friend? The surprise elements of this adult-themed production are unpredictable yet very delightful. Tyler Perry has introduced Palmer Williams, Jr. to his production and much to the delight of the fans he has become an overwhelming favourite. Palmer’s spontaneous wit makes the audience roar with laughter. Other cast members include: veteran stage actor Tony Grant with the golden voice and newcomers Tamar Davis, Timon Kyle Durrett and Stephanie Ferrett!

TUESDAY, JUNE 16 – SUNDAY, JUNE 21
TYLER PERRY'S THE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR
Elgin Theatre
189 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON

8:00 pm nightly and Saturday, June 20 – 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Sunday, June 21 – 1:30 pm and 6:30 pm
Ticketmaster.ca use Promo Code “Profile
Info:  mcharles05@msn.com
For Amazing Group Rates and Preferred Seating Call Now! 416.368.4300

::TOP STORIES::

Luminato's Flagship Project – The Children's Crusade – Challenges Us To Make Things Better

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

"Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps the faith."

– Isaiah 26:2

(May 31, 2009)  This quotation from the Bible's Old Testament covered an April 3, 2003 memo to then-President George W. Bush from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, feeding a sense of righteousness about the Iraq war.

The quotation could also have come from a recruiter's mouth during the Crusades, 800 years ago.

Unfortunately, some lessons are easily forgotten. So every generation needs someone to come along and preach love, not war. And who could ask for a better champion than a sweet, smart child filled with good intentions.

Jacob Abrahamse, a 12-year-old resident of Peterborough, is the poster boy for
The Children's Crusade, a flagship project of this year's Luminato festival.

When the spots light up on Jacob and his 100 fellow cast members and instrumentalists on Friday night, Toronto will witness one of its most ambitious new opera premieres in years.

Co-produced by Soundstreams Canada, written and composed by Canadian icon R. Murray Schafer, and presented inside an abandoned GE Lighting factory right outside the CNE's Dufferin Gate, The Children's Crusade is a large-scale, 90-minute piece of performance art that speaks directly to our times.

This, despite the fact that it is based on a legend dating back to 1212. It was a time when the majority of Europeans barely had enough to eat. Peasants had been forced to abandon their land for a life of wandering in search of food and shelter.

In the middle all the Medieval misery, a boy showed up to give people hope.

Stephen of Cloyes claimed that he had seen visions. He also had a letter from Jesus for King Philip II of France, recently back from leading a crusade of his own.

Some accounts written after the fact say that Cloyes worked miracles as he journeyed toward the Mediterranean port of Marseille, attracting as many as 30,000 followers – mostly homeless, orphaned children and youth – with a message of converting Muslim's to Christianity with love, not arms.

The ultimate tragedy is that the boats offered by local merchants turned out to be an efficient means to sell the kids into slavery.

Schafer's libretto for The Children's Crusade acknowledges the main story, but focuses on peaceful persuasion and the innocence of youth. Soundstreams artistic director Lawrence Cherney explains that the idea for the opera came up in conversation with Schafer in the summer of 2005.

Jacob has been learning the music for the lead role as Schafer has produced it over the past two years and says that the story of Cloyes inspired him.

"I think it gives the message that you have to change the world. You don't have to have a war to change it, you can actually change it through love," he says.

For the tween, this has resonated in everyday deeds. Such as recycling."I did recycle before, but I didn't really think it would change anything," Jacob explains. "I thought, do it, because I'll get in trouble if I don't. But now it really does show that every little change makes a difference."

Jacob, a bright, cheerful boy, mature beyond his years, has trouble identifying his weakest subject in school because "everything is in the A range."

He has a remarkable treble (boy soprano) voice in its sweet, pre-puberty prime.

"Some people think the voice goes lower pretty fast, but it actually goes higher before it goes lower," he says of his range. "You get that from age 11, 12, 13 – your voice is just beautiful. You can do a lot more just before it changes."

His parents have long encouraged his musicality. He's a veteran church solo singer and community musical theatre performer. Finding out that his birthday falls on Christmas Eve seems like icing on the cake for someone singing the role of an underage mystic.

"There have been a lot of miracles here," says Cherney of the four-year voyage from idea to Friday's premiere. That includes the post-industrial venue where the audience – limited to about 350 – will move with the performers through eight staged areas that were once a sprawling factory.

Cherney insists that The Children's Crusade be seen as a metaphor. "We're all children at heart – we all want to make the world a better place somehow. What it all means, well, that's the realm of art."

Asked how he would encourage his friends to come see the opera, Jacob smiles.

"I would start with `Hey, you want to come and see me do this?,'" he says. "They would probably say yes. But then they would start asking questions like, is this opera and stuff? I would say even if you don't appreciate the music, it's a great story."

Mama Nia's Canadian Touch

Source: www.thestar.com  - Linda Barnard,
Movies Editor

(June 02, 2009) Nia Vardalos couldn't resist adding a shout-out to her fellow Canadians in her new movie, My Life in Ruins.

"Once a Canadian, always a Canadian," quipped the Winnipeg-born writer-actress, whose 2002 debut My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out of nowhere to earn more than $241 million (U.S.)

In the romcom My Life in Ruins, Vardalos plays a Greek-American college prof who retreats to Athens to work as a tour guide to find her lost kefi – Greek for mojo. The movie opens next Friday.

Over the phone from her Los Angeles home, Vardalos says one exchange she penned for the movie was inspired by a scenario she faced a lot when she first moved to California: Americans consider Canada to be the 51st state, something that's guaranteed to rile any True North resident.

Ever a polite Canuck, the 46-year-old refused to take a screenwriting credit on My Life in Ruins.

"I asked permission from the writer (The Simpsons Movie's Mike Reiss) to add the Canadian stuff, but I didn't want a credit. That's gross," says Vardalos, sounding appalled at the mere suggestion.

Such is the down-to-earth style that made moviegoers fall for Vardalos's autobiographical tale of her wedding to a non-Greek. (She and spouse Ian Gomez wed in 1993.)

Vardalos was on top of the world when Greek Wedding hit it big, the culmination of a Hollywood fairy tale that began with actor-spouses Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson investing in the project, which was based on a stage show written by Vardalos. Nominations for an Oscar and a Golden Globe followed.

(Hanks and Wilson are back on board for My Life in Ruins. Wilson also has a small role.)

Things then got bumpy for Vardalos. A 2003 TV show based on the movie lasted only a handful of episodes. Connie and Carla, a Vardalos penned Some Like It Hot-style gals-on-the-run flick, co-starring Toni Collette, did mediocre box office and got lukewarm reviews.

Vardalos all but disappeared.

"I lost my mojo for a while, yeah," she says. "I was very clear. I chose to step back and grieve a personal situation of being at the end of a 10-year fertility battle."

Vardalos talks quickly and pointedly; she's clearly made the speech to reporters before. The message comes through clearly: she'll offer a bit of information, nothing more.

"It was happening to me at 32. All during the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it was this."

She politely refuses to say if she and Gomez tried in vitro fertilization or fertility drugs.

Last year they did start a family, when the couple adopted a 3-year-old daughter. Although Vardalos won't allow the child to be photographed or her name made public, "I do understand all this happened to me so that I could use my big mouth to talk about foster adoption," she quips.

The other big change in Vardalos's life is her svelte figure. Two years ago, she changed her way of eating, shedding about 30 pounds from her Greek Wedding days.

"I was having dizzy spells and diabetes runs in my family. My doctor gave me a very stern warning: hire a trainer and a nutritionist. I started writing down everything I ate."

Ditching cheese, a new walking routine and sticking to a Mediterranean diet helped her shed the pounds. "I did many things," she says. "And I felt a glow come back."

Now a healthy size 4 to 10 "depending on the designer," Vardalos says her blood sugar is under control and she feels great. She laughs at any thoughts of being seen as a glamorous star, despite rocking the red carpet when My Life in Ruins closed the Tribeca Film Festival last month.

"Please make it clear it takes three people three hours to make me look like that," she says with a giggle. "Three people with curling irons wearing hazmat suits and using a floor buffer on my face."


Nia Vardalos
: It's Still Greek To Her

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Simon Houpt

(May 29, 2009) New York Nia Vardalos doesn't enter a room. She takes possession of it. At a press event last month for her new comedy, My Life in Ruins , which was to be honoured as the closing-night film of the Tribeca Film Festival, Vardalos sashayed into a meeting room at a chic midtown hotel, said cheerily, “Hello How are you? I'm Nia” and then asked the dozen assembled scribes to introduce themselves, including not just where they worked, but where they were born.

“Zimbabwe That's so cool” she exulted to one. “Germany Hi” to another. And with a third, a young woman from Athens, she broke into Greek for about 30 seconds before pausing coyly to report to the group: “I said you're all really good looking. But you” – her right hand floated over a man sitting to her side, and landed gently on his arm – “are my date tonight.” The poor fellow babbled something in a vain attempt to recover his equilibrium, and tried to not blush.

It may seem effortless, but this sort of performance takes barrels of physical and emotional energy; and one reason we haven't seen much of Vardalos in the last five years is that she hasn't had much of either to spare. Yes, there were the usual vagaries of Hollywood. “The truth is, I didn't get offered great scripts, it's not like Scorsese called me,” she says. “The scripts I was offered were a little bit dirty or a little bit cheap. Not good dirty, like Monster's Ball . Just, like, cheap dirty, you know?”

But there was something else, a personal crisis the Winnipeg-born Vardalos, now 46, had been hiding like a shame.

By the time she broke out in 2002 with the indie hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, she and her husband had been battling infertility for years. The struggle threw the two of them along an emotional roller coaster as they tried every conceivable route to have a child (surrogacy, adoption, a battery of fertility drugs that left her moody and bloated), and continued until about two years ago.

“I didn't feel like being on camera,” she explains. “My friends and my agent understood that I just needed to step out.” Wedding had been such a success – taking in over $240-million (U.S.) at the North American box office, one of the highest-grossing non-studio films ever released – that she had the wherewithal to step out of the spotlight for a while.

“ I'm so often bewildered in L.A. meetings. I like directness, but rudeness just leaves me kind of stunned. ”

Vardalos is – it must be said, given her past statements that have espoused pride in her full figure – now shockingly petite, the result of a self-designed diet that involved giving up cheese, and of the fact that she is no longer taking fertility drugs. She sports a pair of gold hoop earrings as big as her ears, and a long, double-strand chain of diamonds (borrowed from a local jeweller) that draws the eye to her plunging neckline.

The rest of the journalists have left now, and as Vardalos finishes huddling with an assistant over her packed schedule for the next few days, she gives a little wave of her hand. “This is just so not my life,” she says, lowering her voice to a whisper, apparently so the studio gals minding the other side of the door don't hear the sacrilege. “I really, you know, mostly hang around in sweats and write and walk to the corner and buy a paper, with bad breath.”

Vardalos admits she is temperamentally unsuited to Los Angeles, where she lives; but it's where she and her husband (actor Ian Gomez) must be for work. “The sun shines all the time,” she nods, “and mood inspires art, so if you wake up in the same mood every day, where are the dark van Goghs going to come from? We're lucky. We have the same friends from Second City Toronto, and Chicago. Our circle has remained the same. Nobody got weird, thank God. So far. We go to Canada a lot, we go to Chicago a lot, and see our friends.

“They define who you are, they shaped you,” she continues. “So what are you gonna do, just because you work in the movies, not talk to your mom any more? Not cool That's why I put my parents in every movie.”

Her parents have been strong influences. “My mom and dad always taught me: You work, you work, you work, you work hard,” she continues. “This unbelievable thing happened to me with the first movie. Do I think I deserve it? No. Do I think I worked hard for it? Yes. Do I think I worked harder than anybody else? Noooo way. I have friends in L.A. who are still handing out flyers for their one-woman shows. So we caught a wave. I got really lucky. Well, then the karmic slap happened: I couldn't beat Mother Nature.”

And so she holed up in her Los Angeles home, writing scripts for Tom Hanks, who had become a good friend after he served as a producer on Wedding , and developing a film with Jonathan Demme. Then one day a request came through for her to polish a script that was set in Greece. “We've all been offered every Greek movie that has ever been written,” she says of her Wedding co-stars, “and I always say: Sometimes it's so clear the movie actually takes place in Turkey but they white it out and make it, you know, Thessaloniki.”

My Life in Ruins centres on Georgia, an embittered Athens tour guide frustrated with her lack of a love life and fed up with herding unruly tourists (played by Richard Dreyfuss, Rachel Dratch and others) around the ancient sites. As she went through the script, adding elements to make it more authentically Greek, Vardalos found herself layering in bits of her own story, pumping up the fact that Georgia had lost her “ kefi” (a.k.a. mojo).

Vardalos's script polish included the addition of a Canadian tourist couple who, while getting very little screen time, make clear the clichés about Canuck travellers: Their luggage and clothing are adorned with big red maple-leaf insignias, and the wife apologizes to a lamppost she runs into accidentally. “We're nice people” laughs Vardalos. “I'm so often bewildered in L.A. meetings. I like directness, but rudeness just leaves me kind of stunned. I often say to my manager: ‘Why couldn't they just Winnipeg it?' Like, just be nice. Don't yell at somebody, you're gonna see them at Safeway within an hour”

When she began the rewrite, Ruins “was a clean, nice movie, and it had something to say about tourists. But I wanted to say something about a moment in our lives. All of us train to do something, and if we're lucky we can work in our chosen field. But what happens when that chosen field is not as rewarding as you thought it was going to be? That's what happened to me, and that's what happened to Georgia. For me, all the success meant nothing, because I wasn't a parent.”

But something funny happened on the way to the Oracle. In the two years or so that Vardalos was working on the film before it shot, jetting back and forth to Greece, where she leveraged her status as a national hero for permission to shoot at historic sites such as the Acropolis, she began to give up hope of getting a child. She admits that one lawyer promised he could get her to the front of the adoption line if she retained him. “I said: But that's not right, because that means I'm pushing someone down the list. That's karmically not right” One prospect after another fell through, until eventually, she says, “I just let go. I thought: ‘Well, if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen.' And that's so unlike me.”

One night, Vardalos was surfing the Internet when she stumbled upon the website for an agency that arranges adoptions of foster children. She and her husband applied, and within a few weeks after filming wrapped on Ruins in the fall of 2007, they heard that a little girl would be coming into their lives.

This is, of course, wonderful news, but let's face it: Few things can be more grating than a new parent exuding love for their child. Yet Vardalos's enthusiasm is infectious. Since adopting their daughter in late 2007, she and her husband have kept the little girl out of the spotlight. Still, she can't help herself. “Here, let me show you a picture,” she says, reaching for her purse. “Nobody knows what she looks like, but I'm going to show you why I'm besotted with this child.”

The photograph shows an adorable little girl, probably four, with the round face, dark complexion, and semi-serious eyes of – yes, of a young Nia Vardalos. “Do you see what I'm saying?” she blurts, giggling.

“Every time she asks a question, I feel this moment where I really have to define myself: ‘What kind of parent do I want to be?' And I had a long time to think about it, watching my sisters and my brother really be great parents, in explaining things and taking the time, and getting down to her level and explaining something, hearing the magical things that she points out. Like, in the middle of me explaining something, she'll go: ‘Listen, listen' And the whole time a bird has been chirping. We don't hear it any more, but they do. So I love it, because it's just made me believe in magic, and the cosmic forces that have brought her to me.”

So here's the question: If Vardalos's first script was based on her own comical experiences of her engagement and marriage to a non-Greek man, and if My Life in Ruins is rooted in her struggles to rediscover the joy of life, what can we expect from Vardalos in the future?

“What do I want to write about next?” she asks with a broad smile. “Clearly, something about a family.”

Forever An Ace: Herb Carnegie

Source: www.thestar.com - Damien Cox

(May 29, 2009) He struggles to walk, can’t see anymore, but former hockey great Herb Carnegie doesn’t need a slapshot to still have a huge impact.

That was very apparent last night at the
Amazing Aces Future Aces Awards Gala in Scarborough, where among the honourees were Olympic wrestling champion Daniel Igali, who along with his partner Franca were given the award for Courage.

Most people with kids in the school system are aware of the
Future Aces program initiated by Carnegie, who was one of this country’s top hockey players in the ‘30s but denied the opportunity to play in the NHL because of racism.

The Future Aces program and its
Creed teaches kids about developing a positive attitude, respecting each other, helping society and all the good stuff you want to be reinforced at school.

Carnegie walks the talk. Almost 90, Carnegie just has this special aura about him, one of serenity and class. You feel good just being around the man.

And as Igali found out in meeting him for the first time, he’s still as sharp as a tack. “Knowing what he went through, it’s remarkable that there’s not any deep-rooted resentment, no feeling that Canada owes him anything, but rather he finds the best in people,” said Igali, who runs his own
foundation.

“I was telling him that I’m travelling back to Nigeria tomorrow and he asked me how we can get Future Aces started in Nigeria. That universal vision is one we need now. “I know he doesn’t see anymore, but you wouldn’t know it. He sees the best in everybody. It’s what we need in the world right now.”

Marc and Craig Kielburger, who are doing incredible work with youth through Free the Children and their other endeavours, were honoured in the Education category. Emily and Dr. Ken Ng won the Service award, while Wayne and Winsome Isaacs won for Achievement.

En Vogue Continues Their 20th Anniv. Celebration

Source: Tamara Young, Miles Ahead Entertainment

(June 3, 2009) *June 2009 - This year marks the 20th anniversary of Grammy nominated female singing group
En Vogue. With a legacy as one of the most popular and successful female groups of all time, En Vogue is celebrating this milestone with a reunion of all four original members- Cindy Herron-Bragg, Terry Ellis, Dawn Robinson and Maxine Jones.

As part of this year-long Anniversary Party, all four members recently reunited for a performance of their greatest hits on A&E's 'Private Sessions.' This episode will begin airing on A&E on Sunday, June 7th at 9 AM EST /8 AM CST.

En Vogue remains one of the world's most popular, successful & iconic girl groups of all times and this year marks a very busy year for the ladies. They are currently in the studio recording a new CD slated to debut in late 2009 commemorating their 20th anniversary as a group. 

The ladies will also embark on a US tour as part of this monumental occasion which will begin this June in celebration of Black Music Month. Known for their popular hits "Hold On" & "Free Your Mind," En Vogue began dominating the charts in the 90s.

The group has shattered many records, including selling more than 20 million albums and CDs worldwide and spending more than 2,800 weeks on various Billboard charts. Starting with 1990's 'Born to Sing' CD, En Vogue has released 11 CDs to date.

Photo (l to r): En Vogue brings their 20th Anniversary Celebration to A&E’s Private Sessions as they performed a medley of their greatest hits including “Hold On” and “Never Gonna Get It.” Property of AETN. Photo by Billy Tompkins.

Private Sessions airs on A&E and showcases exclusive performances and conversations with top names in contemporary music and film. Hosted by Lynn Hoffman in an intimate loft setting, each Sunday morning at 9 am EST, Private Sessions dedicates each hour to the body of work of a single artist or group, featuring not only current releases but also the projects that defined and built careers.

For More Information, Please Contact:
Sheila Eldridge/Miles Ahead Entertainment, Sheila@milesaheadentertainment.com
Tamara Young/Miles Ahead Entertainment, Tamara@milesaheadentertainment.com

Angelina Jolie Ranked World's Most Powerful Celeb

Source: www.thestar.com -
Erin Carlson, Associated Press

(June 03, 2009) NEW YORK–Angelina Jolie has dethroned Oprah Winfrey as the world's most powerful celebrity, according to Forbes.

The actress grabbed the No. 1 spot from the talk show queen on the magazine's annual Celebrity 100 list, which ranks the rich and famous based on media exposure and career earnings over the past year.

Jolie, a reigning tabloid fixture, earned $27 million (U.S.), bumping her up from third place on last year's list, Forbes said, adding that she wields more power due to high-profile turns in hit films such as Wanted and Kung Fu Panda.

At No. 2, Winfrey is still the highest earner – $275 million.

Madonna came in third, trailed by Beyonce, Tiger Woods, Bruce Springsteen and Steven Spielberg.

Two other celebs tied up in Jolie's tabloid universe – Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt – came in at eighth and ninth place, respectively.

Tenth place goes to Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, thanks in part to endorsement deals scored after the Beijing Olympics.

About halfway down the list sits a very familiar face: President Barack Obama. At No. 49, Obama's the first sitting head of state to appear on this Forbes fixture because of his worldwide fame, his historic election and his career as a best-selling author.

Newcomers to the list: Alec Baldwin (No. 91); Meryl Streep (No. 64); Toby Keith (No. 59); Rascal Flatts (No. 42); TV host Glenn Beck (No. 81); and teen singing superstar Taylor Swift (No. 69).

Although he's one of the biggest acts in entertainment, Justin Timberlake went from 12th to falling off the list completely, since ending his lucrative "FutureSex/LoveShow" concert tour.

Jennifer Lopez, Johnny Depp and Tyra Banks also dropped off the list.

::RECAP::

Toronto Concert Review: Dallas Green (aka City and Colour)

Source: Jaime Kearnan

Dallas Green is talented, no questions asked.  When myself and my friends went to the City and Colour concert last Monday I wasn't sure what to expect. Turns out he's even more talented live. The concert opener was the band Attack In Black (Dan Romano and Spencer Burton).  Just before Dallas Green came on stage, a guitarist played a version of Bohemian Rhapsody (roadie-guitarist identified as "Harris") on acoustic guitar to open the show.  Then Dallas came out, backed up by three band members playing guitar himself as well. During songs he joked about shouts from the audience as well as a variety of other things. Near the end of the show, Dallas did a capella version of "Grinning in Your Face" which was incredible, and then finished the show with "Comin Home." It was an amazing show.


Source: Mackenzie Kearnan

The
City and Colour concert last week was amazing.  That is the only word I can think of to describe Dallas Green’s concert.  To be honest, I was afraid I wasn’t going to enjoy it, but was I ever wrong.  I was afraid that he wouldn’t be very entertaining seeing as he seems to be a calm and laid-back kind of guy.  However, that is the very reason why the concert was so enjoyable.  It was him just being himself.  He sang one great song after another, and while he wasn’t singing, he was tuning his guitar or talking with his bandmates.  I was still entertained every second.  He cracked a few jokes, like about the one guy who feels the need to yell “woo!” in the middle of a quiet song.  Although some people may have seen him as getting irritated, most were able to enjoy his sense of humour.  I knew the concert was off to a good start when the guitarist started the concert with a solo of Bohemian Rhapsody, and had many audience members singing along.  Everyone was into it before Dallas Green even came out.  My favourite song of the night was the a cappella Dallas Green performed entitled ‘Grinnin’ in Your Face’, which simply blew me away.  I highly suggest going to a City and Colour Concert, you will not regret it.  It was a night to remember.  

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Burlington Pilot Has Jumbo Homecoming

Source: www.thestar.com - Chris Sorensen, Bruce Campion-Smith,
Staff Reporters

(June 01, 2009) History was made at Toronto Pearson Monday when the largest passenger aircraft ever built – a double-decker Airbus A380, capable of carrying 486 passengers – arrived on its first flight to Canada from Dubai.

And the pilot who landed the Emirates Airline monster just before 4 o’clock is from just down the road in Burlington.

Traffic along the 401 westbound slowed to a crawl approaching Dixie Rd. as the huge jet lumbered down from the western skies.

On a recent trans-Atlantic flight, Capt. David Heino of Burlington was high above the inky-blue ocean when he realized just how fortunate he was to be flying the world’s biggest commercial airliner.

En route from Dubai to New York, he approached the entry point of the transoceanic track over the western coast of Ireland at the same time as three other commercial jetliners, each flying at different flight levels.

Because of the A380’s size, airspeed and tendency to create significant wake turbulence, Heino manoeuvred out of the way and in so doing gave the other pilots a rare in-flight glimpse of the plane nicknamed "superjumbo," which is one of only 14 in the world.

The air-to-air radio immediately began to crackle inside the A380’s cavernous cockpit.

"None of them had ever seen it before," said Heino, as he recalled the moment during a telephone interview from his home in Dubai. "You get real positive comments because the guys are so excited to see you going past. They want to know all about the airplane."

Heino, 45, was anticipating a similar reception today in Toronto when he put the hulking double-decker jet down in Canada on a regularly scheduled flight for the first time. (Air France did a test flight with one of its A380s between Paris and Montreal two years ago and Airbus flew the plane to Nunavut a year earlier for cold-weather testing.)

Emirates currently operates three flights a week between Toronto and the Dubai hub using 363-seat Boeing 777s, but has been lobbying Ottawa for daily access for the past several years.

The fast-growing airline is no doubt trying to send the federal government a message about demand for its services by flying the A380, an airliner developed for use at congested airports such as London’s Heathrow, into the relatively small Canadian market.

Emirates is the A380’s biggest customer, ordering a total of 58 of the super-sized planes.

For Heino, however, flying the A380 into Pearson carried its own special meaning. That’s because he began his aviation career a few kilometres down Highway 401 at Burlington Airpark.

Although he was born in the U.K., Heino grew up in Burlington and it was at the Airpark that he spent his early days as a pilot crammed into the cabin of a two-seat Cessna trainer ("In the summer it was too hot and in the winter it was too cold") and dreaming of one day flying a big wide-body jet for a big-name airline.

He later left for Europe in search of flying opportunities and eventually ended up in the desert city of Dubai, where he slowly worked his way up the ladder of the airline’s fleet of Airbus jets.

Talk about a homecoming.

Not only does the A380 possess the latest in aircraft technologies, but it managed to displace Boeing Co.’s venerable 747 as the biggest commercial airliner in the world when it first began carrying passengers in October of 2007.

With two levels, it can carry up to 853 passengers in an all-economy class configuration. But Emirates, like most other airlines, has configured the plane to carry a mix of economy, business and first-class passengers, leaving room for extras such as stand-up bars, showers and individual "suites."

Planning for the A380s arrival in Toronto was intense, from the air traffic controllers who would guide the big bird through the skies, to the handlers who would unload the mounds of luggage and even the airport firefighters who would be given a tour of the jet.

The plane’s sheer size - it is 72 metres long, with a wingspan of 80 metres and can weigh as much as seven smaller Airbus A320 jets - means that airports around the world, including Pearson, have had to strengthen their runways and modify terminals just to accommodate it.

At Pearson, there are two gates at Terminal 1 that can handle the A380, including one with a double-decker bridge to move passengers off both decks at the same time. A special team has been working to coordinate security officials, immigration and customs staff to ensure the airport can cope with the flood of passengers getting off the jet – as well as the hundreds of travellers leaving on the return flight.

In the air, the A380 flies in its own bubble of airspace with other aircraft kept well back due to the trail of turbulent air it leaves behind, enough to upset smaller aircraft.

"It would be the same as a wake of a large ship on a little rowboat behind it. It gets topsy turvy. It causes waves in the air," said Dave Mastel, Nav Canada’s manager of area control centre operations in Toronto.

Surprisingly, however, Heino claims that flying an A380 is no more difficult than flying smaller Airbus jets and is actually easier in some respects than piloting the former king of the heap, Boeing’s 747. (His younger brother is a 747 captain for Cathay Pacific).

He attributed the A380s unique flying characteristics to its advanced equipment and aerodynamics, which allow it to approach the runway at speeds associated with much smaller planes such as the Airbus A320.

But there is one element of the A380 that takes some getting used to: a lack of engine noise. In fact, there have been reports of pilots who have complained of being unable to sleep while off-duty because of noise from the passenger cabin. Heino says he hasn’t experienced any issues, but agreed that the A380 is quieter than any other plane he has ever flown.

Heino’s connection to Greater Toronto likely played a roll in Emirates’ decision to schedule him for the inaugural flight. The airline has shown itself to be incredibly savvy when it comes to marketing by carefully positioning its brand alongside other well-regarded global carriers and pursuing sponsorships with some of the world’s most watched sports franchises, including England’s Arsenal football club.

But Heino is a pilot – not a pitchman – and he says he jumped at the opportunity to be able to return home to Toronto at the helm of what has to be the most talked-about commercial jetliner in the world.

"I would have never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be that fortunate to be given this opportunity," he says. "When I was sitting in that little aircraft (in Burlington Airpark) looking up, even if I had ended up sitting in the left seat of an Airbus 320, I would have been pretty happy."

------------------

Some quick facts about the Airbus A380:

-- There are only 14 of the "super" jumbos flying with three airlines - Emirates Airlines, Qantas and Singapore. Airlines have ordered a total of 200.

-- it has 50 per cent more floor space than rival Boeing 747 but only 30 per cent more seats, meaning more elbow room for passengers.

-- because of advanced aerodynamics it can take-off and land on runways used by smaller jets and its landing speed is the same as the A320.

-- two staircases - one at the front, the other at the back.

-- airlines have outfitted their A380s with amenities such as showers, stand-up bar, private bedrooms and lounge complete with couches.

-- it can load and unload passengers from the upper and lower decks at the same time - at airports equipped with twin-level bridges.

-- its maximum take-off weight is 560 tonnes, the equivalent of seven smaller A320 aircraft.

-- it can carry 310,000 litres of fuel, enough to fly 15,200 km.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Donnie McClurkin's 'We All Are One (Live In Detroit)'

Source: www.eurweb.com -
Fiona McKinson

(May 29, 2009) *The Grammy Award winning Gospel recording artist Donnie McClurkin took his ministry to TV with a new weekly show Perfecting Your Faith, via the Regional News Network, which started on May 17 in the New York tri-state area.

But for those unable to see this footage until the national roll out, we can still be touched by his latest CD We All Are One (Live In Detroit), which is receiving acclaim and scored his third #1 Billboard gospel sales chart debut, following the trend set by the 2003 release of Donnie McClurkin…Again and the 2004 release of Psalms, Hymns And Spiritual Songs.

Additionally, the CD reached #7 on Billboard's R&B Albums Chart, #26 on its Top-200 Albums Chart, and #1 on Christian Music Trade Association (CMTA)'s Top Christian/Gospel Albums chart.

The first single, the moving Wait on the Lord featuring Karen Clark Sheard of The Clark Sisters, achieved being the #2 most added and #2 most increased spins at radio. Other notable duets include When You Love featuring CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams and Mary Mary. McClurkin also presents Darin Atwater's Soulful Symphony Orchestra from Baltimore, America's premier African-American orchestra on their stirring track Purple.

Five years since his last CD, Donnie McClurkin has returned with an energetic faith that permeates through his album from the testimonial Trusting In You, to the uplifting title track.

McClurkin, who recently connected with fans in an album-signing event, offers personal insight in heartfelt self-penned lyrics on contemporary gospel beds of praise anthems such as All We Ask, ballads such as Hallelujah Song and sing-alongs such as Let The River Flow. Other tracks such as the infectious The Great I Am force you to smile or dance.

An eclectic set recorded at Straight Gate International Church in Detroit, it is designed to magnify the glory of God. A humble personality, McClurkin fades into the background as his music delivers his message. The CD includes a flyer for the charity Feed the Children.  You Are My God and King, backed by a gospel choir, truly takes us to Church complete with reprise. The recording really comes to life when he interacts with the choir.

McClurkin served as an assistant to Pastor Marvin Winans of the Winans dynasty at Detroit's Perfecting Church for over a decade; he was ordained and sent out by Winans in 2001 to establish Perfecting Faith Church, in Freeport, New York.

The album allows McClurkin to celebrate his faith without alienating non-believers, incorporating elements of Rock and R&B. A tribute to his late sister Olivia, who died in 2008, the CD comes complete with a stylish album booklet. Substance with style, evangelism with energy, effecting peace! ©

Track Listing
1. Trusting In You
2.We All Are One
3.You Are My God And King
4.You Are My God And King [Reprise]
5.Wait On The Lord - (featuring Karen Clark Sheard)
6.Great I Am, The
7.Hallelujah Song
8.Let The River Flow
9.Home Someday
10.Choose To Be Dancing
11.Purple [Intro]
12.Purple
13.When You Love - (featuring Mary Mary/Yolanda/CeCe Winans)
14.All We Ask - (featuring Nick Banns)

Donnie McClurkin
We Are All One (Live in Detroit) | In Stores & Online Now!
Purchase the album today on VerityRecords, Amazon or iTunes!
Zomba/Verity Records
www.donniemcclurkin.com
http://music.blackplanet.com/donniemcclurkinmusic/

Ciara's 'Fantasy Ride'

Source: www.eurweb.com

(June 02, 2009) *Ciara has acquired some 'haters' in the five years since she hit the airwaves. Many argue that her vocals are weak while others speculate that she is a man!

And then there are the constant comparisons to her forerunners such as the late Aaliyah and Ciara's inspiration, Janet Jackson.

Like those icons, Ciara is a beautiful, killer dancer but there the similarity ends. Fantasy Ride, her third album further demonstrates how she has created her own lane.

In the UK, Love Sex Magic ft. her label mate Justin Timberlake, was the lead single. I first heard it on the advert for Trophy Wives and I was eager to find out who was behind the theme song. I was surprised to find out it was Ciara.

In a departure from her signature sound, she has clearly matured. So much so that when I loaded her album in iTunes it was classified as pop. There is no reason why she should not cater to the mainstream audience and Turntables ft Chris Brown, is exactly the type of dance song that would appeal to the European market.

However, I prefer the 'Crunk and B' style tunes that Ciara has inadvertently come to signify. High Price ft Ludacris is a futuristic standout track that distinguishes Ciara from competition and for some reason, Ciara's delivery reminds me of Nelly Furtado's outing with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake on Give it to Me.

Like a Surgeon and the atmospheric and edgy Keep Dancin on Me are standout tracks. I also like the gritty attitude of G is for Girl (A-Z), which is reminiscent of the attitude in Beyonce's Diva. I Don't Remember has a vulnerability about it and co-written by Ne-Yo, is touched by the European Dance sensibilities of his hit Closer.

The production on Fantasy Ride takes you on a myriad of tempos and genres. Despite many guest appearances, Super C's versatile talent shines beyond the marketing campaign. The 'good' in the well-crafted lyrics, mostly about relationships, may not be enough to appease the 'evil' in the haters.

The album is definitely a ride with ups and downs allowing a multi-faceted Super C to showcase her confidence, sassy raps and sex appeal in equal measure. If you don't like it, you can always do what Ciara says and Pucker Up!

Track listing:

1. Ciara to the Stage 
2. Love Sex Magic ft. Justin Timberlake  
3. High Price ft. Ludacris  
4. Turntables ft. Chris Brown  
5. Like a Surgeon
6. Never Ever ft. Young Jeezy  
7. Lover's Thing ft. The-Dream  
8. Work ft. Missy Elliott 
9. Pucker Up 
10. G is for Girl (A-Z)  
11. Keep Dancin' on Me 
12. Tell Me What Your Name Is
13. I Don't Remember

Fantasy Ride is out now with a deluxe edition available including bonus tracks and a DVD with exclusive video content and Behind-The-Scenes Footage.

Visit: http://www.ciaraworld.com or http://www.myspace.com/ciara


Philadelphia International Records' Gamble and Huff receive the BMI Icon Award

Source: www.eurweb.com -
By Eunice Moseley

(May 28, 2009)  *The fathers of what I call the Philadelphia sound, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, received the BMI Icon Award for their “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers” at the recent 57th Annual BMI Pop Awards in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by BMI president and CEO Del Bryant and BMI vice president and general manager-writer/publisher relations Los Angeles, Barbara Cane.

 “We are honoured,” Leon Huff said about receiving the honour. “I thought it was great. It’s wonderful to be respected and admired by your peers. We are very grateful.”

Gamble and Huff met in an elevator at a young age and started a conversation that would build into a partnership that took them to a monumental moment when they joined forces to create Philadelphia International Records, distributed by CBS Records. A deal that, at that time, was unheard of.

“We started dreaming together about the business of making music a life-long career. The bottom line is you got to make a living. We had a band and was writing songs trying to make a hit,” Gamble said.

“Gamble started Gamble Records and signed the Intruders,” Huff adds.

“The Intruders were one of my favourite groups at the time…we were doing singles,” Gamble stated.

Aside from the Intruders, through Philadelphia International Records, Gamble and Huff signed and wrote hit songs such as “Use to be my girl” and “For the love of money” for The O’Jays’; “You’ll never find…” for Lou Rawls; “If you don’t know me by now” for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes; “When will I see you again” for The Three Degrees, and “Me and Mrs. Jones” for Billy Paul.” In total Gamble and Huff accumulated 22 gold and eight platinum records.

Also members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Gamble and Huff now join other BMI Icons such as the Jacksons, the Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Paul Simon, James Brown, Dolly Parton and Hall and Oats as BMI Icons.

“Yes it was a miracle,” Gamble said about their life story. “Stuff like this doesn’t happen every day. Look at it as inspiration…the ability to create on what’s going on around you…that’s how you get your ideas.”

Ziggy Marley Recruits Family Members For 'Family Time' Children's CD

Source:
By Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press

(June 2, 2009) NEW YORK -
Ziggy Marley wants to get in touch with the future leaders of our nation: That's why his latest release is a children's CD.

"Family Time," released last month, is a reggae-flavoured kids album that Marley hopes will connect with those he says can best evoke change.

The disc features vocals from three generations of Marleys: Ziggy's three-year-old daughter, Judah; his mother (and Bob Marley's widow) Rita; and sister Cedella.

Outside of the Marley household, the album also has guest appearances from Paul Simon, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson and Jamie Lee Curtis.

The Associated Press: Why did you decide to record a children's album?

Marley: I want to get the message to people who have an open mind, who don't have closed mind, who's not already set in their ways, and the only people like that are children. If I say my purpose is to make music that is going to make a change in the world or influence people, then who better to influence than children?

AP: There are a number of different guests on the CD.

Marley: There are so many people I could ask, but it's people who I felt, people who I feel would add something to the music. This is not a publicity stunt or a marketing plan, it's a heartfelt thing for children and the record is for children, trying to teach children things and inspire children. I don't like asking people favours, but because this was for kids, I was much more comfortable going out and saying, "What you think about doing this thing?"

AP: When you listen to "Family Time," does it remind you of your childhood?

Marley: In Jamaica, when we had independence celebrations; there's a whole cultural program that goes on that kids get involved with and we used to be involved in that. And on this record, I did a song called "Hold 'Em Joe," which is a traditional Jamaican cultural song, (and) that was the first song that I ever sung in front of an audience.

AP: What do you recall learning about music from your father when you were growing up?

Marley: My father more didn't tell me, we more experienced it because usually what he would do is call you very roughly, "Hey, come sing!" . . . We would sing with him when he was writing songs.

AP: You have five children. Do you see any of them becoming musicians in the future?

Ziggy: They're already musicians. I love what I see, and it's real. They're not trying, they really have something. Where they get it from, I don't know, but they have something. It's beautiful to see that and that's not just because I am their father. Whether they eventually do it, I don't know, but they have it.

AP: What other kinds of music would you like to explore?

Marley: I want to explore more African music. I'm into African music so I want to explore it more and see what I can do with it. I like the grooves, I like the hypnotic thing about African music. I want to see if I could eventually one day blend more African into this reggae thing and see what happens.

On the Net: http://www.ziggymarley.com

Jazz Man Terence Blanchard Signs With Concord

Source: Julie Murray Porter/Concord Music Group, Alisse Kingsley/Muse Media

(June 3, 2009) **Concord Jazz is proud to announce the signing of three-time Grammy award winning trumpet player and composer
Terence Blanchard

With more than 29 albums to his credit, Blanchard has established himself as one of the most influential jazz musicians and film score composers of his generation. 

Blanchard's new album Choices will be released on August 18, 2009.

Blanchard's legacy has helped shaped the contours of modern jazz.  As a musician he is a multi-Grammy Award winner, most recently winning earlier this year for his instrumental solo for "Be-Bop" on Live At The 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival. 

In addition to receiving the award, Blanchard performed live on the Grammy telecast along with other New Orleans artists including Lil' Wayne, Allen Toussaint and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band  and singer Robin Thicke. 

In 2008, Blanchard won a Grammy for his CD, A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina), a beautifully haunting and impassioned song cycle about Hurricane Katrina and the ravages incurred upon the City of New Orleans and its residents.

Blanchard's Concord debut, Choices, was recorded in his hometown of New Orleans at the Ogden Museum of Art.  The album addresses the choices we all make in life - both as a society and on a personal level.  Blanchard will premiere the project at the Ogden in late July, and the show will be filmed for an upcoming documentary. 

Accompanying Blanchard on the album are longstanding band members Fabian Almazan on piano, Derrick Hodge on bass, Kendrick Scott on drums, Lionel Loueke on guitar and newcomer Walter Smith lll on saxophone, all of whom significantly contributed to the album's compositions.  Guest artists on Choices include writer, speaker, educator and activist Dr. Cornel West and singer, musician and composer Bilal. West performs spoken word pieces on the album with Bilal providing vocals on several of the tracks. 

"It's good to be back where I originally started my career.  I'm excited about the possibilities of working with a staff that has the same passion for music and creativity as I do.  At Concord, I feel we both look forward to an exciting future of creating new traditions in jazz," said Terence.

"Terence is the quintessential jazz artist.  He uses his extraordinary talent and creativity to constantly break new musical ground and explore new horizons," said John Burk, Chief Creative Officer of Concord Music Group.  "We are extremely honored to welcome him back to the Concord family." 

Blanchard and his band will be touring worldwide in support of the new release.

From Opera Arias To Country Weepers - Costello's Got It Covered

Source: www.globeandmail.com  -
J.D. Considine

(June 02, 2009) There's no mistaking the high, lonesome sound that launches Down Among the Wines and Spirits, the first track on Elvis Costello's Secret, Profane & Sugarcane (which arrives in stores tomorrow).

As the singer sketches the sad tale of a man's decline from besotted lover to mere sot, his mournful melody is framed by the metallic whine of a dobro and wry, bluesy fiddle asides, with time being kept by a slow-thumping acoustic bass and plinking mandolin. It's a musical vocabulary redolent of Kentucky gentility and hillbilly fervour, but take care before leaping to conclusions and applying the "B" word.

"It's obviously not a bluegrass record," says Costello, over the phone from his New York home. "It's a ballad record. It's a narrative ballad record using the instruments that are most commonly heard in bluegrass, and some rhythms borrowed from country music." Not that country is the only flavour in evidence. "There's some rock 'n' roll, and there's some, I guess what you might call ragtime. I don't know what kind of beat you'd call Sulphur to Sugarcane."

Old-timey?

"Yeah, old-timey. Whatever that means."

It's an odd mix, but then again, the provenance of the songs on Secret, Profane & Sugarcane is far from typical. Some of the songs are new, of course, but a few go back more than a dozen years. Complicated Shadows, for instance, dates back to Costello's 1996 album All This Useless Beauty.

"But when I recorded it [back then], I took it very far away from the way it was written, because it was written for Johnny Cash," he says. Cash never recorded it, but he did cut a version of Hidden Shame, which also appears on both the new album and Useless Beauty.

Then there's the lost-love song I Felt the Chill, which he wrote with country legend Loretta Lynn, and Changing Partners, which was a hit for Patti Page in 1954. Stranger still, four of the album's songs come from The Secret Songs, Costello's opera in progress about Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen's relationship with Swedish soprano Jenny Lind.

Opera arias and country weepers? How on earth did Costello arrive at that combination?

"I just wanted to go into the studio with T-Bone [Burnett] and make a record that was acoustic," says Costello. "I'd said that I wanted to make a record that had the intimacy of an acoustic record, and I even talked about it possibly being a solo acoustic record initially. And then I started to discuss songs that I had written, and other songs that I was considering visiting, and in some cases revisiting."

But it wasn't until they got into the studio that the album began taking its unusual shape. Burnett, who is perhaps best known for having produced the soundtracks for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Cold Mountain, had recruited a team of bluegrass heavy-hitters for the sessions, including dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas, fiddle ace Stuart Duncan and bassist Dennis Crouch.

"Of course, as I found in the course of making this record, they were capable of covering a lot of ground," says Costello.

"I began with a straight-ahead song, Complicated Shadows, and a classically shaped ballad, I Felt the Chill. I also had in my back pocket these songs that came from the Hans Christian Andersen opera, that had a lot more corners to negotiate, musically speaking. But the ease with which they took those first songs in stride made me think, 'Well, let's try them and see what happens.' They played She Handed Me a Mirror, and it was effortless. It really allowed me to just sing it, and not be thinking about what are we going to play."

From that point, the real challenge in assembling the album had to do with the way the songs and their related themes of secret burdens and power relationships played off one another. "Some of those [threads] are quite serious things, and you have to frame them in different ways," he says.

"As I started to record, I began to realize the ways in which one song sets up another, just as they do in a concert. There were getting to be more and more possibilities, and a lot of them were handed to me by the vividness of the playing."

Costello will push that even further when he takes the Sugarcanes (as the studio band has come to call itself) on tour this summer. "Obviously, it'd be a very short show if we just played those 13 songs from the album," Costello says. "Every group of musicians you get the opportunity to play with give you the chance to revisit some songs in a slightly different way. I mean, you can imagine that the songs from King of America, which were also acoustic guitar and bass predominantly, would lend themselves to this instrumentation very well. But a number of other songs would as well. Some of them will be quite surprising to people. I haven't rehearsed them yet, so I don't know that they're all going to work out, but I have the intention to play some songs that wouldn't be the first things to come to mind [with this band].

"The concert performance is really where it's happening with the greatest freedom," he adds. "To me, the relationship between recorded music and concert music is getting more and more intriguing. Everybody is getting in some mad panic, with doomsday scenarios about the record business - and certainly it's not good to see record shops all boarded up - but we have to accept that it's the transition we're in.

"In the meantime, the performance of music is just getting freer and freer, to my way of thinking."

Elvis Costello will perform with the Attractions at the Winnipeg Folk Festival on July 8, and with the Sugarcanes at the Malkin Bowl in Vancouver on Aug. 24, and

Massey Hall in Toronto on Aug. 28.

****

Elvis Costello, Canadian?

While talking about the tunes from his opera, The Secret Songs, Costello makes mention of their "louche and risqué characters," then stops himself. "Wow, now I'm lost and gone to Canada," he says, chuckling. "That's two French words in one sentence"

Of course, part of the joke is that Costello really has gone to Canada. Since marrying jazz pianist Diana Krall in 2003, the two (and their twin sons) split their time between Vancouver and Manhattan. "I don't know whether I really feel Canadian," he says. "I feel at home in Vancouver, very much. But I don't think one can assume a new nationality. I mean, I am English."

And to be honest, Costello and Krall don't spend a lot of time at either home. "Diana and I are on the road a lot of the time, because that's our real job," Costello explains. "Making records is a luxurious thing that we get to do occasionally; our real livelihood is concertizing, and New York would be the centre of that world.

"But our family home is very definitely in Vancouver, because as you can imagine, that is the very best environment possible for 2½-year-old boys. It's an incredible place."

J.D.C.

Quarrington Says Lung Cancer Diagnosis 'Surreal'

Source: www.globeandmail.com  -
Josh Wingrove

(June 02, 2009) Toronto — Early last month, about a week after Toronto writer Paul Quarrington had three litres of fluid taken from his chest, he met again with a doctor.

Mr. Quarrington was feeling much better, but was still unsure why the fluid had built up, causing him severe shortness of breath over the past few months. He thought it was allergies, or that he was out of shape. The doctor had some sobering news.

“I said, ‘I feel fine, I feel great.' He said, ‘Wonderful, wonderful. We have some answers for you. It's cancer. It's lung cancer.' And I said: ‘Hold on, wait a second, I was just telling you how great I feel,'” Mr. Quarrington said last night. “Very surreal, you know.”

Mr. Quarrington, a 55-year-old father of two, didn't know what to say. He'd been researching what could be wrong, and had ruled out lung cancer because he hadn't had a sudden weight loss, which he understood was customary with the disease.

“I quite pitifully had my bottle of Tums,” he joked. “At first I went home and sat, stunned. I took a walk in the Bluffs, and blubbered a bit like anyone would. I sort of said, ‘Well, you know, let's make the most of it.' You know, stop drinking cheap wine immediately and enjoy what one can.”

Mr. Quarrington, a musician, non-fiction writer and filmmaker, is perhaps best known for his novel Whale Music, which won the 1989 Governor-General's award and was turned into a movie five years later. Two of his recent novels have been long-listed and short-listed for the Giller prize.

He has Stage 4 lung cancer, and is “sort of beyond odds.” He has been told he has months, possibly years, to live. Once a smoker of cigarettes and cigars, he said that, “somewhere in there, there was a bad smoke, I guess.”

“But I still feel pretty good and I'm still fairly hale.”

Mr. Quarrington is not resigned to the diagnosis. Although set to begin chemotherapy soon, he hopes to continue working. Among the projects on his plate are his band, the Porkbelly Futures, and his latest book, for which he's finished a first draft (he jokes that he now has “new thematic material” to add). His most recent novel, The Ravine, is being turned into a TV show, one of several film or television adaptations of his works.

“I hope to see some of these projects through,” he said.

He's been touched by the outpouring of support from friends and colleagues who have contacted him in recent weeks to offer their support.

“It was quite overwhelming,” he said. “If anything, I'm here to serve as a [warning]: One mustn't make foolish self-diagnoses, because the doctors are actually pretty good. ... Now when talking to [friends], they give a little cough and I say, ‘get that checked.'”

MUSIC TIDBITS

Drake Show Draws Celebrity Crowd

Source:
www.eurweb.com

(May 29, 2009) *A who's who of entertainment industry folk crowded into New York's SOB's Tuesday night to see rapper Drake perform at Hot 97's "Who's Next" concert series, reports Billboard.         Among the heavy-hitters in the sold-out crowd were Bun B, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Ryan Leslie, DJ Green Lantern, The Alchemist, MC Lyte, BET's Stephen Hill, Warner Music Group CEO Lyor Cohen and Warner Music Group COO Julie Greenwald. The Toronto-born artist, whose real name is Aubrey Graham, signed to Lil Wayne's Young Money label last year. His 30-minute set included songs from his popular mixtape, "So Far Gone." During "Unstoppable" and "Uptown" he was joined by Bun B on stage. "I'm a new artist, by the way," said Drake, sporting a black and white striped long-sleeve shirt, dark blue jeans and red sneakers. "I don't know if you can tell by this show." The performance was Drake's last stop before he enters the studio for his debut, "Thank Me Later," which he will start working on June 1, Drake told Billboard.com last week. And although he wouldn't confirm which major label will release the album, he did say he will be signing to one soon. "So Far Gone" was released in February via his blog site www.octobersveryown.com.  He ended the show with Young Money's collective "Every Girl," and his own break-out hit "Best I Ever Had." The former peaks at No. 7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart this week, and the latter climbs to No. 12 on the same tally.

Susan Boyle finishes 2nd on 'Britain's Got Talent'

Source: www.thestar.com - Jennifer Quinn,
Associated Press

(May 30, 2009) LONDON–She dreamed a dream – and it almost came true. Susan Boyle's reality show journey ended today with a second-place finish to a dance troupe called "Diversity" on the final of the television show Britain's Got Talent. After the announcement, Boyle curtsied to the audience and gave them her signature hip shake. During her finals performance, Boyle looked polished, wearing a sparkling, floor-length gown. She returned to the song that made her an Internet sensation – "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables. The winners earned a 100,000-pound ($176,465 Canadian) prize and the chance to perform before the Queen at the Royal Variety Show.

Herbig Makes Opposites Attractive

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

Toronto Symphony Orchestra
http://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gif(out of 4)
Symphony No. 6, by Gustav Mahler. Günther Herbig, conductor. Plus guest cellist Johannes Moser. Repeats tomorrow. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. 416-598-3375 (tso.ca)

(May 29, 2009) This week's
Toronto Symphony Orchestra program is a study in opposites that achieve the same effect – of transporting the Roy Thomson Hall audience from an ordinary concert into the rarefied air of an extraordinary experience. We have Joseph Haydn, in all his concise, 18th-century elegance (represented by the popular, sunny, 25-minute C Major Cello Concerto) vs. Gustav Mahler, laying bare his early 20th century soul in layer upon layer of sonic emotion (in his 75-minute "Tragic" Symphony No. 6). We have a lithe orchestra of 20 joined by fabulous young German cellist Johannes Moser vs. a full stage groaning with 100-plus musicians. What brought it all together into a tight, visceral punch for listeners last night was the iron command of guest conductor Günther Herbig (who was the TSO's music director from 1989 to 1994). The Haydn was a crisp, neat treat. The Mahler was a prolonged communion with the eternal. Even to a non-Mahler fan, Herbig's delicate, wafting hold over the gentle third movement was an otherworldly experience. Behold it and weep.

Young's Helpless Crowned Great Canadian Tune

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
James Bradshaw

(May 29, 2009) Toronto — The public has crowned Neil Young's Helpless as the Luminato Festival's Great Canadian Tune.  The song, which scored 3,701 of nearly 20,000 votes edged out nine other entries in a close contest. It will now be the feature track in an effort to break the Guinness World Record for the largest guitar ensemble, currently held by the German town of Leinfelden-Echterdingen, which assembled 1,802 guitarists to play Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water in 2007.  Luminato organizers are inviting anyone with either a classic six-stringed acoustic or an unplugged electric guitar to congregate at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto on June 6. To qualify, guitarists must register before a 4 p.m. countdown concert featuring all 10 songs, played by Toronto ensemble The Heartbroken and guests Justin Rutledge and Kim Stockwood. The afternoon will culminate when the crowd plays Helpless in unison. Luminato hopes to draw more than 2,000 guitar players to the event.  The song's tablature will be available on the Luminato website as of Saturday for those who want to learn the piece.  Blue Rodeo's Hasn't Hit Me Yet, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and BTO's Takin' Care of Business were all hot on Young's heels, garnering more than 3,000 votes each. The other songs in contention were Feist's 1234, The Band's The Weight, The Tragically Hip's Courage , Bryan Adams's Cuts Like a Knife, Sarah Harmer's Basement Apartment and Tom Cochrane's Boy Inside the Man.

Serani, Chino And D’angel Sign On As New Faces Of Coke Zero Campaign In Jamaica

Source: www.eurweb.com -
By Kevin Jackson

(May 28, 2009)  *Dancehall artiste Serani who is currently enjoying attention on Billboard’s R&B Hip Hop Singles chart with the hit No Games, joins a list of Jamaican dancehall artistes who recently starred in a new advertising campaign for Coke Zero   According to Christopher Hardy, Country Manager for Coke Zero in Jamaica, the entertainers were selected because of their connection with the core market, teenagers.   Said Mr. Hardy ‘The entertainers were selected for the campaign based on the kind of energy that they bring, they are also doing well on the charts in Jamaica and the Caribbean, and they were a big hit with the teenagers on the recently held school tours in Jamaica’.   Serani who recently signed with Universal Republic, is set to release his debut solo album later this year. Across the Caribbean he is known for a string of hits including She Loves Me, Stinkin Rich, Romance Me Girl and Doh.   Chino, the son of veteran reggae artiste Freddie McGregor, has been a hit with his female fan base. Girls, Red Bull and Guinness and Rave All Night are among his known hits. He is currently topping charts with the song Protected.   D’Angel, the estranged wife of dancehall star Beenie Man has seen her career rise within the past year churning out hits including Stronger, Blaze, First Lady and Dreams.  

Sade Working On A New Album

Source:
www.eurweb.com

(June 3, 2009) *
Sade fans, you might wanna sit down for this. Billboard is reporting that the sultry singer and her band are currently in the studio recording new material for an album that may hit stores before year's end.    Sony has not set a release date but hopes to put the record out by the end of 2009, the Web site reported yesterday. The group is scheduled to record through the end of June.   "She is in the studio and the album will come when it is ready," a source at Sony told Billboard. "You don't wait for years for one and then rush it."   Sade's longtime bandmate Stuart Matthewman, a.k.a. Cottonbelly, also confirmed that new material is in the works, but he said the project is still in its "early days" and won't be close to finished until "later in the year."   The new album will be Sade Adu's first with the band since 2000's "Lovers Rock."

::FILM NEWS::

Indian Strike Stifling Flow Of Bollywood Films

Source:
www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(May 29, 2009) Toronto Even as Slumdog Millionaire and its Bollywood-inspired style has made a whole swath of people more aware of Indian cinema, North American theatres specializing in Bollywood films are hurting badly.

A dispute over revenue sharing between Bollywood film producers and the operators of multiplex cinemas within India is now entering its third month and has cut off the flow of new Bollywood pictures. For the small Indian cinemas dotting North America half a world away, this has meant a sudden dearth of major films.

“It has really taken a toll on us,” said Farzan Dehmoubed, vice-president of Golden Theatres, a small chain in the Toronto area. This includes the Albion Cinema, which specializes in Bollywood, and the Woodside Cinema, which has had to switch to first-run Hollywood fare.

“It has really been a difficult time, and it has extended a lot longer than everybody had expected. We all thought by June, for sure, this would be resolved. Right around now is the time when some of the biggest movies of the year should be releasing,” Mr. Dehmoubed said.

The Raja, Vancouver's Bollywood specialty cinema, announced earlier in May that it would close for half of the month because of the strike in Mumbai. It hopes to reopen in June. The switch by the Woodside Cinema in Toronto to Hollywood films might be permanent if the strike continues, Mr. Dehmoubed said. In New York, the Eagle Theater and its Bollywood films have gone dark for good.

Although these are relatively small cinemas here and there across North America, the theatres are important cultural anchors for large South Asian communities.

“The main reason we've tried to keep the Albion and Woodside open is to make sure there's a constant flow of [South Asian] movies, and somewhere people can go to enjoy their movies,” Mr. Dehmoubed said. “Without Albion and Woodside, a lot of these movies wouldn't even release in Toronto. The mainstream theatres do sometimes open to Bollywood movies, but they seem to be only interested in the big, big [Indian] blockbuster movies.”

Estimates are that the Mumbai-based industry has lost more than $3.5-billion (U.S.) since April. The problem is that Bollywood producers want to make the massive Indian film industry more financially transparent, as opposed to impressions that business is done behind closed doors and marked by increasingly unreliable investment from private backers. The producers want a system more like the one Hollywood studios share with exhibitors. The producers are seeking half of the box-office take from multiplex cinemas that are geared more to middle-class Indians. The cinema operators are balking.

The timing of the dispute is deliberate. As with Hollywood films, summer is the season for Indian blockbusters. No new films means no major summer releases, such as the highly anticipated New York , featuring Bollywood superstar John Abraham, and Kambakkht Ishq starring Akshay Kumar.

The Albion Cinema has been playing smaller Punjabi and Tamil movies to keep the doors open and maintain its South Asian emphasis. Ticket prices have also been reduced.

“We are just trying to get people back in and come and see the movies we currently have,” Mr. Dehmoubed said. “It has really become difficult to keep bringing these movies [here], with the way piracy is going. That's also affecting us heavily. With Bollywood, there's a lot of piracy happening, not just in Canada, but throughout the U.S.”

Roberto Benigni: Still Beautiful

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

(May 30, 2009) Have you ever forgotten that totally surreal moment at the 1999 Oscars when Roberto Benigni leaped on the back of his chair to claim his Oscar as Best Actor in Life Is Beautiful?

People either loved his antics or hated them, but one thing is for sure – they remembered him.

Now, more than a decade later, I'm on the phone with Benigni from New York. Although I can't see him, it sure sounds like he's leaping into the air and trying to give me a hug through the miles that separate us.

"Riccardo! I'm bringing my beloved Dante to your wonderful city, which is so full of Italians. It makes me very happy!"

He's coming to Casino Rama June 7 (presented in association with CHIN Radio) as part of the North American tour of his one-man show,
TuttoDante, in which he combines stand-up comedy and political commentary with a serious reading of Dante's Inferno.

It's already been a huge hit with audiences in Europe and now he's unleashing his kinetic energy on this side of the Atlantic.

You don't really interview Benigni. He'd never do anything as passive as that. No, you treat him like the blazing comet he is, try to grab on to some of the shooting sparks he's sending off into the air and hold on for dear life.

And the combination of Benigni's own enthusiasm – with the massive work of Dante Alighieri – is a potent combination indeed.

"I will tell you how it started," he says, pre-empting the question I was about to ask and setting things on his own agenda.

He plunges into his past in postwar Tuscany (born in 1952) to let you know how important this material has been to him his entire life.

"My mother, Isolina, she would always say to me, even as a little child, `Read Dante, read Dante, learn it by heart.' And so I did, for the sound, for the music, even before I knew what it meant.

"It is so astonishing, my friend, it's like Beethoven mixed with Jimi Hendrix, or Johann Sebastian Bach combined with Duke Ellington. The funky and the classic, the high and the low, the gutter and the stars."

He takes a rare breath. "It's something I have loved all my life, but I had to wait a long time to do it the way I wanted."

Benigni began his career as a theatre actor in his early 20s, taking part in highly political shows that allowed his communist allegiances to shine forth, even though the pieces were often censored and shut down by the authorities.

The irreverent Benigni, working on stage and TV, mocked everyone from the prime minister to the Pope and became extremely popular for doing so.

He then switched to film work, honing his character work by acting for directors as varied as Jim Jarmusch, Blake Edwards and Federico Fellini.

Then he decided to make a film "that was important for me. I knew I might lose my audience, but I did it for love."

That movies turned out to be Life Is Beautiful, the story of an Italian Jewish man who tries to protect his son during their internment in a death camp by convincing him it's all a game.

The story was actually inspired by the personal experiences of Benigni's father, "who would always tell us this painful story, but somehow do it in a funny way."

The movie became a giant worldwide hit and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, with Benigni's hysterical acceptance speech alternately delighting and dismaying audience members.

Asked about it a decade later, the live wire is unrepentant about his activities that night.

"If it happened again tomorrow, would I do less? Oh no, my friend. I regret that I didn't do enough. I like to show my exuberance, to delight in the beauty in the moment.

"Yes, I climbed on the back of my chair, but that is because I wanted to fly, I wanted to show the world how happy I was and that when a once-in-a-lifetime moment like this comes along, we must fly with it as well."

The aftermath of Life Is Beautiful proved that magical night may, indeed, have been a once-in-a-lifetime moment for Benigni.

Over the past decade, his film career has been largely composed of flops.

"After I won the Oscar, they came to me with offers for many, many movies," he says sadly, "but they were all garbage. Would I play the funny Italian, the foolish Italian, the cuckolded Italian, the stupid Mafioso? I said no to all of them."

Instead, he chose to make a lavish high-budget version of Pinocchio (2002), playing the childish puppet himself at the age of 50.

While the film did adequately in Italy, it was a total bomb in North America, scoring an unheard of 0 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and earning comments such as "chalk it up to the worst kind of hubristic folly."

Later films like Coffee and Cigarettes and The Tiger and the Snow haven't done much better, making Benigni's international film career a definite case of the one-trick pony.

But Benigni is philosophical about these ups and downs. "There is a summit for everything. There is a peak and then there is everyday life and you must learn to live with both of them."

Back home in Italy, he remains a popular satirical commentator, leading public rallies to protest arts cuts and once performing a striptease on the evening news.

But it now looks like TuttoDante may be his salvation. He has been touring it around Italy for the past few years, playing to more than 10 million people on stage and TV.

It seems like its unique combination of classical passion and modern satire has liberated something in Benigni that had been dormant since Life Is Beautiful.

"Dante writes about freedom, justice and love: the three things I care about the most. No wonder I am so crazy about him."

Filmmakers Up In Arms As Rogers Seeks To Alter Licence

Source:
www.globeandmail.com - Gayle MacDonald

(May 29, 2009) While Global and CTV grabbed the majority of headlines during the recent round of CRTC licence-renewal hearings, Rogers Broadcasting quietly asked for a controversial condition-of-licence change that has filmmakers and distributors in this country spitting mad.

In its application last February, the cable TV and cell-phone giant asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to lift a mandated condition that requires two of its CITY-TV stations in Toronto and Vancouver to air 100 hours of Canadian films a year in prime time.

That request – which the federal regulator is still mulling – has infuriated this country's filmmakers, who say sales of Canadian features have ground to a halt since Rogers purchased a total of five CITY-TV stations from CTVglobemedia two years ago.

“ They’re not even trying to play nice. They’re just mocking the system and the CRTC. ”— Victor Loewy, Alliance Films

“We are outraged for two reasons,” said Ted East, president of the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters (CAFDE). “CITY has been a critical partner in financing Canadian films and reaching audiences, and the loss of this support is having a devastating effect on Canadian film.

“When Rogers went to the CRTC to get approval to buy the CITY stations, they jumped up and down over Canadian film, saying we're delighted to be part of this and we intend to uphold this long-standing tradition,” asserts East. “Immediately after the acquisition was approved, they stopped buying Canadian films.

“Over-the-air television – which represents roughly 40 per cent of the overall TV market for Canadian feature films – has basically dried up.”

Victor Loewy, chairman of this country's biggest distributor, Alliance Films, agrees the market has evaporated, adding his company has made no sales to CITY-TV since it was taken over by Rogers.

“They have bought nothing. Zero. We've taken them everything, and there is simply nobody there to even talk to,” says Loewy. “They're not even trying to play nice. They're just mocking the system and the CRTC.

“The truth is we don't have any customers [for indigenous feature film] any more. My attitude on this is very simple. Rogers got a licence when they acquired the CITY channels. They knew the conditions of the licence. Now they don't want to play by the rules. We don't need another mini-network like CTV or Global downloading American programming.”

Susan Wheeler, Rogers Media's vice-president regulatory affairs, justifies her company's application for licence change by pointing out that in “today's media environment, where movies are widely available and offered by a number of over-the-air, specialty, pay and video-on-demand services, a focus on feature films is no longer a viable programming strategy for CITY-TV.

“As we responded to CAFDE, we will continue to air movies but we can't really accept a specific condition on the carriage of movies,” Wheeler adds. “No other over-the-air broadcaster – CTV, Global, even CBC – has a requirement to air Canadian feature films, or feature films in general. Why should we be singled out?

“We believe our programming focus is on local programming, and that is our priority.” She would not say how many Canadian full-length features CITY-TV has purchased since Rogers came on the scene.

Hussain Amarshi, president of Mongrel Media, agrees the market for TV sales has dried up in the last 18 months. But he adds he has managed to sell CITY one Canadian feature film – the upcoming Cairo Time , due in theatres this fall.

“We used to sell almost all our product to them. CITY-TV was our champion, and the first stop for all Canadian films to get their pre-sale. That, I'm afraid, is lost,” says Amarshi.

“Without significant broadcaster interest in Canadian films, the making of them now is basically unviable.”

A decision on CITY-TV's 100-hour licence condition is expected to be handed down by the CRTC in a few weeks.

Norm Bolen, president of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, says he will fight Rogers's petition.

“The film community feels betrayed by this. Rogers makes the argument that feature films are no longer a reasonable way for them to schedule their prime time. We're talking about one feature film a week. That doesn't seem onerous.”

India's 'Good Gesture': Homeless Slumdog Stars Offered Government Lodgings

Source: www.thestar.com - Erika Kinetz,
Associated Press

(May 30, 2009) MUMBAI, India – The government will give the two impoverished child stars of the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire new homes, government officials said yesterday, creating the possibility that the homeless children will soon own not one but two new apartments each.

Rubina Ali, 9, and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10, both lost their homes this month when authorities demolished parts of their slum in Mumbai.

Ashok Chavan, the chief minister of the state of Maharashtra, said he approved the transfer of two government apartments to the children yesterday. Their former neighbours in the slums, however, won't be so lucky.

"Slumdog Millionaire has won Oscar recognition," Chavan said. "We thought this would be a proper thing to honour these children acting in the film. It would be a good gesture on the part of the government."

Filmmakers have also promised the stars new apartments. Rubina – who has been staying with relatives – was delighted by the prospect of a new home. "I'm very happy. I can have a place of my own. It will be much cleaner," she said.

Azharuddin has been living in a makeshift shanty of tarps and blankets with his parents since their eviction.

Amarjeet Singh Manhas, chairman of the Mumbai Housing and Area Development Board, said the local chapter of the ruling Congress party has paid about $19,000 to buy each child a 180-square-foot government apartment in Malvani, on the northern outskirts of Mumbai.

"The flats will be given to them within a day or two," he said.

People cannot get government housing if they currently own an apartment, Manhas said. But there is nothing to stop them from getting another apartment after they move in, he added.

Slumdog filmmakers have pledged to spend up to $116,000 to secure housing for the children through a trust they set up to help them.

Trustees have said they have already located an apartment for Azharuddin's family near his school, and should finalize the deal by next week, while they continue to search for a place for Rubina. Her father, Rafiq Qureshi, said yesterday he hadn't yet decided whether to take the government flat.

Meanwhile, the other residents of the Garib Nagar – "city of the poor" – slum where the children lived continue to make due with tarpaulins strung around sticks and rough wooden shacks, as insecure as ever as they await the coming monsoon rains.

Several dozen homes were destroyed this month as part of a clearance drive. The government has no plans to relocate them.

"Accommodating everybody is not possible," said Chief Minister Chavan.


Director Visits Slumdog's Child Stars In India

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Associated Press

(May 27, 2009) Mumbai — The makers of Slumdog Millionaire met the film's two impoverished child stars on Wednesday and reassured them they will soon have new homes. But the father of one of the children stormed out, saying the filmmakers have not done enough to help.

Rubina Ali, 9, and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10, both lost their homes this month after city authorities demolished parts of their slum in Mumbai. Rubina has been staying with relatives and Azhar has been living in a makeshift shanty of tarps and blankets with his parents.

“We've been trying for a long time to move them into legal accommodation,” director Danny Boyle told reporters at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on the outskirts of Mumbai, where he and producer Christian Colson met the children and their families.

Relations between the filmmakers and the children's families have grown tense since the phenomenal success of the film, which grossed more than $326-million (U.S.).

The filmmakers set up a trust aimed at ensuring the children get proper homes, a decent education, a monthly stipend and a nest egg when they finish high school. They have pledged to spend up to $100,000 to buy the two families new apartments and have donated $747,500 to a charity to help slum children across Mumbai.

Colson has described the trust as substantial, but will not tell anyone how much it contains – not even the children's parents – for fear of making the youngsters vulnerable to exploitation.

Nirja Mattoo, who helps oversee the children's trust, said a new home has been found for Azhar's family near to his school and neighbourhood. “We are finalizing the deal. Next week it should be done,” she said.

The hunt for Rubina's house continues, she added.

But Rafiq Qureshi, Rubina's father, said Boyle has not done enough.

“It's no big deal for them, this kind of money. It's been five or six months we've been living in such difficulty. They should help us,” he said in an interview after he cut the meeting short in anger.

“After the Oscars they forgot about us,” he added. “For two months we didn't get any money.”

Mattoo declined to comment on Qureshi's behaviour.

“We're trying our best to get [a house] as soon as possible,” she said by phone.

Boyle said he planned to make two more films set in Mumbai.

Pixar's Up Tops Weekend Box Office With $68.2M Debut

Source: 
www.globeandmail.com - David Germain

(May 30, 2009) LOS ANGELES — The animated action comedy “Up” took flight with a $68.2 million opening weekend, maintaining a perfect box-office track record for Pixar Animation, whose 10 films all have been commercial and critical hits.

“Up” had the third-best opening for a film from Disney-owned Pixar, just behind the $70 million debuts for “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles.” Last summer's Disney-Pixar release, “WALL-E,” debuted with $63.1 million.

Like its Pixar predecessors, which include the “Toy Story” movies,” “Finding Nemo” and “Ratatouille,” “Up” earned glowing reviews from critics.

“Usually things that are very popular with audiences don't necessarily go over that well with critics. These things do both, and pretty much consistently every time,” said Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “The Disney-Pixar collaboration is probably the closet thing to box-office perfection out there.”

“Up” took over the No. 1 spot from 20th Century Fox's “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” which slipped to second-place with $25.5 million. The “Museum” sequel raised its 10-day total to $105.3 million.

The weekend's other new wide release, Universal Pictures' horror tale “Drag Me to Hell,” opened at No. 3 with $16.6 million. It was a relatively modest return for director Sam Raimi, whose three “Spider-Man” movies had blockbuster opening weekends.

Paramount Pictures' “Star Trek” steered a strong course, coming in at No. 5 with $12.8 million and passing the computer-animated “Monsters vs. Aliens” as the year's top-grossing movie so far.

“Star Trek” raised its domestic total to $209.5 million, becoming the first 2009 release to cross the $200 million mark.

“Up” features the voice of Ed Asner in the adventures of a lonely widower who ties helium balloons to his house and flies to a South American adventure with a 9-year-old stowaway.

“An elderly gentleman and a young boy traveling off to South America; it's not your typical animated story and not necessarily the easiest story to convey,” said Mark Zoradi, president of Disney's motion-picture group. “That's why I give a lot of credit to the marketing team for taking a movie that wasn't easy to convey to the public and opening it to the highest levels of animation that we've ever done for an original story.”

Factoring in higher admission prices, earlier Pixar movies such as “Toy Story 2” and “Monsters, Inc.” sold more tickets than “Up” over their first weekends.

“Up” drew both family crowds and adults without children, and the film's 3-D release accounted for 51 percent of the total gross, according to Disney.

Hollywood finished the month with record revenues of $1.02 billion, coming in slightly ahead of the previous high in May 2007, according to Hollywood.com.

Momentum for the year continued to slow from the record pace set in the first four months of 2009. While May revenues came in 4.7 percent above those of May 2008, Hollywood has not yet had a sky-high opening on the order of last year's action hits “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which both topped $300 million domestically.

Overall weekend revenues were at $167 million, virtually even with the same period last year.

Total revenues for 2009 rose to $4.1 billion, up 13.7 percent. Movie attendance was about 11 percent ahead of last year's.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. “Up,” $68.2 million.

2. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” $25.5 million.

3. “Drag Me to Hell,” $16.6 million.

4. “Terminator Salvation,” $16.1 million.

5. “Star Trek,” $12.8 million.

6. “Angels & Demons,” $11.2 million.

7. “Dance Flick,” $4.9 million.

8. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” $3.9 million.

9. “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” $1.9 million.

10. “Obsessed,” $665,000.

———

On the Net: http://www.hollywood.com/boxoffice

Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Rogue Pictures are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; DreamWorks, Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros., New Line, Warner Independent and Picturehouse are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.

AP-ES-05-31-09 1406EDT

(Via Land-Line Feed)

DVD Review : He's Just Not That into You

Source:
by Kam Williams

(June 02, 2009) * When you’re starting out with a cast stacked with Academy Award-winners Jennifer Connelly and Ben Affleck, plus Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Long and Ginnifer Goodwin, you really ought to produce a picture more compelling than this shallow, battle-of-the-sexes sitcom. Based on the self-help best seller of the same name, the movie is marred by a dumb plot which repeatedly resurrects the pre-feminism notion that a female ought to feel incomplete without a man. Meanwhile, the screen is littered with a slew of macho alpha males who seize on every opportunity to mistreat members of the opposite sex.

The film opens by driving home the point that this antagonistic way of relating is a universal phenomenon via offensive tableaus in Asia and Africa , where we’re introduced to a “primitive” native girl waiting impatiently for a date. She is assured by a sympathetic friend that “I’m sure he just forgot your hut number, or was eaten by a lion.” So, as you can see, this flick trades freely not merely in misogyny but in offensive ethnic stereotypes, too.

The story subsequently settles down in Baltimore , and introduces us to some desperate females on the brink of emotional crisis. Marriage-minded Beth (Aniston) is pressuring the guy (Affleck) she’s been living with for years to make an honest woman out of her. Dimwitted Gigi (Goodwin) has the hots for Conor (Kevin Connolly). Too bad he barely even notices she’s alive.

Janine (Connelly) has suspicions about the fidelity of her husband, Ben (Bradley Cooper), who has been leaving behind telltale signs that he’s cheating on her. The shameless philanderer’s mistress (Johansson) is empty between the ears, otherwise he might not feel any remorse when his wife wises up and kicks him out of the house. And then there’s Mary (Barrymore), a news reporter who’s quite contrary because all of the eligible bachelors working at her paper are gay.

Don’t be duped by the promising-sounding scenarios, the material here never digs any deeper than the average episode of The Love Boat.


Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality and brief profanity. 
Running time: 129 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Ken Kwapis.

To see a trailer for He's Just Not That into You, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IeXqvFR6HI

Sacha Cohen Hides Behind Characters

Source: www.thestar.com - Cathal Kelly,
Toronto Star

(June 03, 2009) You can spend a lot of time staring at a man's bare bum, but don't think it means that you know his soul. That's sort of Sacha Baron Cohen's point.

There are few things the man behind Ali G., Borat and now alarmingly camp Austrian fashion reporter Brüno likes better than a nice, nude tussle. At least when he's in character as a buffoonish interviewer who engages in sincere, increasingly ridiculous conversation with real-life people, as we'll find out again when the Brüno movie is released this summer.

In the promotional build-up to that July 10 launch, Baron Cohen upped the cultural ante on Sunday with a prime-time televised demonstration of cheek-to-cheek closeness with Eminem at the MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles. Say what you like, the 37-year-old British comedian does not do half-measures.

Baron Cohen rarely gives interviews. When he does, he generally insists on remaining in character.

We do know that Baron Cohen was born in London into an upper-middle class family of Orthodox Jews. His mother taught dance. His father owned a clothing store. He has two brothers.

He attended private schools. He worked on a kibbutz. He studied history at Cambridge.

He was, by all accounts, smart and amiable and utterly unremarkable. It seems clear from his very few unguarded comments that he remains so. He has a 19-month-old daughter, Olive, with Australian actress Isla Fisher.

After graduation, Baron Cohen gave himself five years to make it in comedy. After that, he promised, he would get a real job.

He started out in the U.K. equivalent of community television. His first successful character, in 1998, was Ali G., a hip-hop loudmouth from suburban London who insists, despite evidence to the contrary, that he is black.

At first, Ali G. existed in a vacuum. But Baron Cohen found that the bit worked much better when he interacted with real people. In one of his first skits, he burst into a local pub and began break-dancing. The police forcibly ejected him.

Two months short of his five-year deadline, he was hired to host a satirical late-night chat show, Da Ali G. Show, and wild success followed.

He caught Canada's attention four years ago in an ad spot for the National Basketball Association. In it, Ali G. tells basketballer and Victoria native Steve Nash: "No disrespect, but you is Canadian so you don't even speak English, so shut up." "No, we speak English in Canada," Nash says.

"Can't understand what you're sayin'," Cohen gapes. "You're speakin' in Canada."

Once Ali G. took off, Baron Cohen unleashed Borat. Unlucky Kazakhstan became the imbecilic journalist's home only because Cohen thought it would be difficult for his targets to check up on him there prior to their "interviews."

One former TV boss credited Baron Cohen's "psychotic ability" to inhabit his characters, pushing things well beyond the inhibitions of common sense. The result has always been cringe inducing and hypnotically watchable.

He was once asked if he could do the things he does as Sacha Baron Cohen, rather than one of his alter-egos. "I think I'd find it hard to," Baron Cohen told Rolling Stone magazine. "I think you can hide behind your characters and do things that you yourself find difficult." His major gambit is the sit-down interview. Inevitably, it goes terribly awry. Fake shell companies generally set up these interviews. Up until the last moment, the subject believes a buttoned-down producer will interview him. Then Baron Cohen springs into the interviewer's chair. He warms up his mark by seeming idiotic and harmless. After 15 minutes of banal back-and-forth, he begins asking the ridiculous questions that will make it onto film. Generally, the interviewee is so taken by surprise, he/she cooperates for just long enough to get the laughs.

Of course, this business is one of diminishing returns. The more successful his characters become, the smaller Baron Cohen's pool of unsuspecting targets becomes. Ali G. and Borat have already been pushed into retirement.

All Baron Cohen has left is Brüno, an Austrian fashion journalist just as flaky as Borat, and just as howlingly insensitive to the norms of good taste. Presumably, this last well of ignorant goodwill will also run dry once Brüno comes out.

Baron Cohen continues to find employment in other people's movies, but nothing suits him quite like his own creations. He claims to have been working on new identities, but has yet to produce one.

"I'm a private person, and to reconcile that with being famous is a hard thing," Baron Cohen has said. The question is: Can he reconcile himself to a life without the odd bare-bum romp now and then?

::TV NEWS::

Wild Will Ferrell Warms To Grilled Reindeer Eyeballs

Source: www.thestar.com  - David Bauder,
Associated Press

(June 02, 2009) NOTE: The Canadian airdate of the Discovery Channel's Man vs. Wild, featuring Will Ferrell, is June 7 at 9.p.m.

NEW YORK–The wilderness of northern Sweden, where
Will Ferrell ate grilled reindeer eyeballs with adventurer Bear Grylls, seems a long way to go to promote a movie and test-drive a TV spinoff.

But that's where the two men were for 48 hours in early April, in harsh subzero temperatures. Their trip is chronicled on the Discovery Channel's Man vs. Wild series that debuts tonight at 10 p.m.

Ferrell climbs out of a helicopter by rope ("Mommy!" he shouts), is eased down a cliff supported by two sticks wedged in ice, trudges through waist-deep snow on snowshoes of twigs and spends a night with Grylls in a snow cave. Dinner, and breakfast the next morning, comes from the head of a reindeer carcass found along the way.

"Nine out of 10 actors would not do that," Ferrell deadpanned in an interview.

Ferrell wasn't familiar with Man vs. Wild, probably the looniest and most entertaining series in the adventurist genre, when his manager broached the idea. But the comic actor, who has run three marathons, warmed to the idea.

"I started watching it and thought, `This could be too crazy to say no to,'" he said.

All in the name of promotion, too: the Discovery episode airs three days before Ferrell's movie Land of the Lost hits theatres. Ferrell plays a scientist who has some close encounters with dinosaurs in a time warp adventure.

The network was mulling the idea of a celebrity version of Grylls' show, and considers the Ferrell episode a successful pilot.

For adventurous stars, it undoubtedly has greater cachet than a run on I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here.

Grylls stows away a Twinkie for Ferrell to get quick energy in a pinch. Of course, the actor downs it the minute Grylls first turns his back. "There were times when I thought, `I'm too tired to be funny right now. I'm too tired to be cold,'" Ferrell said.

Ferrell's toughest trick may have been his last: Having to use a rope ladder to climb into a helicopter at the end of the adventure.

"You had to use all your arm strength to get up," he said. "By the time I clipped in, I totally let go and was hanging upside down and laughing at myself, wondering how this was going to look."

Reality TV Has A Real Cost

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

(June 03, 2009) What is the price of reality TV stardom? Looking at the recent struggles of Jon and Kate Gosselin and Susan Boyle, it seems it's a heavy one.

The stars of
Jon & Kate Plus 8 are riding a summer of salacious storylines into their highest ratings ever. The season premiere two weeks ago attracted almost 10 million viewers, more than double the audience for last year's season finale, and the TLC network has ordered another 40 shows.

But the couple has taken a drubbing in the tabloids, with no end in sight to the allegations that their marriage is in serious trouble. The latest gossip centres on Kate getting a tummy tuck and Jon missing his wife's birthday in March because he was allegedly on a date with Deanna Hummel, the 23-year-old with whom he's rumoured to be having an affair. The Pennsylvania labour department, meanwhile, is investigating a complaint about the show's use of its child stars.

As for Boyle, she's recovering after an anxiety attack caused by the pressures of her overnight fame, which led to her being hospitalized Sunday, after she lost the Britain's Got Talent competition.

Judge Simon Cowell plans to work with Boyle when she is better to get her singing career off to a good start, but some observers question whether Boyle's reality- show success will translate into paying audiences. Nor was it clear yesterday whether Boyle will be well enough to take part in a 17-date Britain's Got Talent concert tour set to begin on June 12.

These downward spirals are exactly why we watch, though, according to one expert.

"In both cases, they knew what they signed up for," says Murtz Jaffer, host of Canadian show Reality Obsessed and an expert on all things reality television.

"You can't tell me that Jon and Kate didn't know that their marriage wouldn't be the same as it was before the cameras hit it. Similarly Susan Boyle did not audition for that show not knowing that she would be filmed.... They knew what they were doing when they signed on the dotted line.

"Ultimately, you know that's what you're getting when you watch reality television. ... it's like with Newlyweds with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey.

``You don't watch it for them to have a happy marriage, you watch it because you're counting down the minutes to when they split apart or get a divorce. You watch it because you want to see them fail and that's the same reason you watch any reality show."

Jaffer is suspicious about the timing of the Gosselins' marital issues: "I'm a cynic, but why is it all happening right now? You have to look at the timing. It all hit just before the season premiere.... You wait, I bet in two years we'll have the Jon and Kate Renew Their Vows special."

He finds Boyle a much more fascinating case and thinks her hospitalization is likely legitimate. "I think that is a more real breakdown. It's amazing; she went through all the cycles of reality television in a couple of months," he says.

"Usually it takes two or three years, from the point of the country loving you to the backlash, and then having trouble dealing with the pressures of fame. It was just so accelerated with her ... but you'll see. She'll be fine. It just means her comeback album will also be her debut."

With files from Associated Press

TV TIDBITS

Your Favourite Shows Now On iTunes

Source: www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

(May 28, 2009) A slew of popular American TV shows, including Grey's Anatomy, House and Desperate Housewives, are now available for download on iTunes in Canada. On Thursday, Fox, NBC, ABC and Warner Bros. put a total of 20 series on the iTunes Canada store, and a spokesman says the networks plan to add more programs weekly. Individual episodes for shows from those networks cost $2.49 for standard-definition format and $3.49 for high-definition. Complete seasons are also available at various prices. ITunes Canada started selling TV programs from other networks in December 2007. Homegrown channels posting shows on the site include CBC, CTV, MTV, the Comedy Network, YTV, the Fashion Television Channel, Teletoon and Treehouse.

Mansbridge Does It Old School

Source: www.globeandmail.com  -
Josh Wingrove

(June 01, 2009) A “massive computer breakdown” at the CBC left the nation's public broadcaster “flying blind” during its flagship news program Monday night. Viewers tuning into CBC's The National saw host Peter Mansbridge reading the news from his desk – not a teleprompter – after the network's systems crashed. Mr. Mansbridge donned thin, half-rimmed glasses with thick lenses for much of the pared-down show, glancing occasionally up at the camera and evoking the style of newsmen of decades ago. He began the newscast with a warning, telling viewers the crash happened in the hour before the program went to air. He called it “a massive computer breakdown at the CBC, right across the system right across the country,” and later asked people to “bear with us, and stay with us.” “We're working at trying to deal with that as we deal with tonight's news,” he said. Stories from individual reporters weren't affected. CBC staff struggled to figure out what was happening. Among the affected programs was iNews, which runs much of the network's communications and basic operations, including the teleprompter. “iNews is down. Mansbridge is reading from paper. I'm flying blind...” one CBC staffer wrote on Twitter. “Mansbridge is totally channelling (sic) Cronkite with the glasses and the glances down. Don't they have a cue-card boy to fall back on?” wrote another. Jeff Keay, a spokesman for the broadcaster, said the CBC hopes to have things back to normal by Tuesday. “Colleagues tell me we had an IT outage that affected some of our systems – including iNews – early in the evening, which presented some challenges,” Mr. Keay wrote in an e-mail late Monday night. “We're working on it and hope things will be sorted out by tomorrow.”

::COMEDY NEWS::

Comedian Seán Cullen Headlines Four Shows Before Going Hollywood

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

(May 31, 2009) In his first comedy tour in a decade, Seán Cullen is bringing his peculiar brand of off-the-wall humour to four cities across the province, including a show tonight at Toronto's Panasonic Theatre.

Along with musician/composer Robbie Ross, with whom he wrote and co-produced his second album, I Am A Human Man, Cullen is promising a muscular show of two 45-minute sets of music and comedy with much of the inspiration drawn from the album.

The Peterborough native, who invariably tosses something impromptu into the mix, is promising that "every show will be unique ... it'll be a grand spectacle of silliness."

The venues on the tour, Cullen noted, are a cut above the college cafeterias of times past during a career that began in 1988 touring with Corky and the Juice Pigs before going solo.

"I just haven't done a live tour like this for a long time and I think it was time. I like to make people laugh. I don't know why. I think it's a need, a deep-seated need and a lack of attention and love. I just want to perform again."

After placing sixth last year in NBC's Last Comic Standing, Cullen hopes the notoriety he achieved then will put some bodies in seats over the next week. But if you're a fan of Cullen's quirky comic stylings, this may be the last chance to catch him live on stage possibly for a long while.

Cullen is heading back to Los Angeles immediately after the tour for a protracted stay, hoping a couple of pilots he shot earlier this year during the traditional Hollywood "pilot season" get picked up and he gets a lucrative sinecure on U.S. television.

Cullen has had consistent success in the past decade, including playing Max Bialystock in Mirvish Productions' all-Canadian version of The Producers in 2004, a short-lived CBC television series, a lengthy run on CBC Radio with Simply Seán on summertime Saturday mornings and a regular gig – the Sean Scháu – at the Drake Hotel and finally, as the author of an acclaimed trilogy of smart, funny children's books starring Hamish X. Penguin Canada is getting ready to launch a new book, with a new character, called The Prince of Neither Here Nor There, about a fairy living with a human family facing the travails of high school.

But Cullen says Hollywood beckons and staying put is just too much like treading water.

"The kind of struggle I go through here to get on television, I might as well go down there and do that same struggle and invest the time there. And if something hits, it can change everything," said Cullen, who is tight-lipped but clearly crossing his fingers about his projects.

"When you're younger, you have a little more nobility about `I would never do that show.' Well, now you know, I would. Once you get older and you have kids ... you say, `whatever.' I'm like `anything ... put me on any show, I'll be the best thing on it and if it fails, I'll go do something else.'"

::THEATRE NEWS::

Colm Feore : A Man Of (So) Many Parts

Source:
www.globeandmail.com - James Bradshaw

(May 29, 2009) Stratford, Ont. - Colm Feore has the perfect word for it: scattershot.

It's an apt description of the acclaimed actor's life, which has once again become entwined with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival after roles on television, in films and on Broadway, all while Feore hops back and forth over the Canada-U.S. border with remarkable ease. And scattershot isn't meant to be seen as a negative – Feore wouldn't have it any other way.

“I like a little bit of this, a bit of this and a bit of that. The cross-pollination is the part that I find interesting, where [the genres] bleed into one another,” said the 50-year-old actor in a recent interview at Stratford's Festival Theatre.

Fresh from playing Henry Taylor, the kidnapped husband of the female U.S. president on the TV drama 24 , and a role in the Canadian TV drama about a telepathic sleuth, The Listener (premiering this Wednesday and Thursday night on CTV and Space), Feore has returned to Stratford to play two of the plum roles among theatre classics – Macbeth in Shakespeare's tragedy, which opens Monday, and the lovesick, big-nosed hero in Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac , which opens June 19.

Since establishing his name as a Stratford mainstay from 1981 to 1994, Feore has returned to the festival only occasionally, most recently for a marathon summer of three roles, including the lead in the Antoni Cimolino-directed Coriolanus , in 2006. (You can see why he's a natural to be cast as a Roman general; thin and fit, with hard-edged features, he looks as if he could have stepped straight out of the Forum.)

The big problem with Stratford for an actor with so many projects on the go is that it demands his attention from February until Halloween – “the only day I don't have to wear a costume,” he quips. Feore doesn't do well with long commitments – even in conversation. Ensconced in a leather chair in the Playwright's Circle Lounge at the Festival Theatre, his eyes tend to focus on the horizon as if he's already scouting for another challenge.

“I would be very reluctant to sign anything that would have me end a contract in another decade. That makes me nervous. I'm too much of a freelancer, and maybe just too flaky, too unwilling to commit to something for that length of time,” he said.

Although the festival isn't Feore's primary source of work any longer, he remains deeply rooted in this Southwestern Ontario town. His wife Donna also works regularly at the festival – she is directing him in Cyrano – and two of his three children still attend school in Stratford. Glancing out the window, he stops mid-sentence to salute a passerby, the tennis pro from the local club, of which Donna is vice-president.

“I can't play tennis. I wave from the stands,” he says.

Despite Feore's storied career as a striking actor of Shakespeare, which includes particularly acclaimed performances as Hamlet and Iago in Othello , he has never done any role in Macbeth . It never quite seemed the right time to tackle it.

“This is, perhaps, an alarming admission but I didn't really get it. I guess I bought all of the history of it that it's difficult and dense and very, very concentrated,” he said.

Feore thinks the role benefits from being portrayed by an actor with a certain age and experience. If Macbeth is younger, his ambition and his misjudgements are simpler, he said. At 50, with his temples greying, Feore feels the sum of his past Shakespearean parts have prepared him to scale Macbeth 's summit.

“I think that Shakespeare knew what he was doing and that the training ground for Macbeth is Coriolanus, Richard III, Hamlet, Iago, Jachimo (in Cymbeline ) and to a certain degree the Cassiuses of this world. So I've done all those and it seems to me that those are the perfect prep for Macbeth.”

Meanwhile, the heroic tragicomedy Cyrano offers a much-needed change of pace. The two have a mutually sustaining effect, the one recharging an actor for the other.

“There is such darkness in Macbeth and such horror that you have to try and explore daily. What is the antidote to that? A celebration of life. A humanist philosopher's version of the individual struggling and striving and occasionally succeeding against a world of witless imbecility,” he says.

The last decade has seen him take up a slew of prominent Canadian projects: the CBC miniseries Trudeau (for which he won a best-actor Gemini), recurring roles on television's Slings and Arrows and now The Listener, and a starring spot in the wildly successful film Bon Cop, Bad Cop. In the United States, there's been a guest role on The West Wing , a season on 24 , a 2005 Broadway production of Julius Caesar alongside Denzel Washington and a major role in the Clint Eastwood film Changeling opposite Angelina Jolie.

Was Feore's success in Bon Cop, Bad Cop a launching pad for his success in the U.S.?

“For what? It's Canada. Nobody gives a shit. No, it just happens to be the most successful Canadian movie ever made. Who cares?” he says. “These films, for all of their quality and for having success on their own merits in their own country – which is fantastic – don't do me a whit of good south of the border.”

Though he admits that one of his earlier Canadian starring roles, the eccentric piano genius in François Girard's 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993), helped in his first foray into Los Angeles, he points out that he caught Eastwood's eye for Changeling through a simple audition.

Feore, an American-born graduate of Montreal's National Theatre School who has made Canada his unequivocal home, has been more successful than most in working in both countries. But the Canada/U.S. split seems to be becoming less of an issue now for the entire industry. Discussing a recent guest role on Flashpoint , the recognizably Torontonian police drama, he points out that CBS now airs it and that “it's made with a view to be content on an American network.” That said, he got a very warm reception arriving on the set of 24 from a creative team and crew that is chock full of Canadians. The main difference between the two shows?

“They spend more money [on 24 ]. They blow more stuff up. Because there are just more eyeballs to watch” he says. “As actors, we just drop in and out without much care for whether it's for here, there or Taiwan.”

Which is precisely what Feore continues to do, with great success. He spent time in London doing a “crazy” improvisational film with Andie MacDowell, Amanda Plummer and Jennifer Tilly that has yet to be released, and he has finished filming The Trotsky , a comedy produced by Bon Cop creator Kevin Tierney and written and directed by his son, Jacob Tierney, in which Feore plays the principal at the school of a young man who thinks he's the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.

What's next for Feore isn't yet clear, but it seems certain he won't choose anything long-term.

“I've never had that experience. I've never wanted to have that experience, to be honest with you,” he said. “Once you've accomplished something and you understand it and you've shot it and they say cut – go home, do something else. I like that as a way to re-energize and recharge the batteries, and one thing really lays the foundation stone for another one.

“It's not that I lose interest. I just ... in a sense, it's like Shakespeare says: ‘Things won are done.'”

Life Is Suddenly Feeling Tony For David

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

(June 02, 2009) David Alvarez laughs when he's asked if he's wanted a Tony Award for a long time.

"I didn't even know what a Tony Award was until a year ago," the 15-year-old Montrealer sheepishly admits on the phone from New York.

Alvarez (together with two of his fellow cast members who share the title role in Billy Elliot) has a very good chance at winning one of the coveted trophies on Sunday night when the category of Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical is announced from the stage of Radio City Music Hall.

It's a category with a particular affinity for Canadians, having been won before by Christopher Plummer, Brent Carver and Martin Short, so it's not unthinkable that Alvarez has a crack at it.

Still, it's refreshing that the bright-eyed young man with the incredible dance technique has maintained the modesty that's been so charming every step of his journey to Broadway stardom.

"I don't really expect the award at all. I've only been acting for a year and I'm up against all these great actors who've been around for years." His competition includes Broadway vets like Gavin Creel, Brian d'Arcy James, J. Robert Spencer and former American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis.

The nomination was announced on New York's TV news channel NY1 and Alvarez was there. "It was so fun and great, especially for my parents, who were incredibly happy. I met all these amazing people like Jeremy Irons and Jane Fonda.

"It's something I'm not going to get over for a long, long time."

What's also great about Alvarez – which the nominators clearly recognized – is he isn't a one-shot kid who lucked into playing the part.

He's worked on it steadily throughout the run and his professional ethic is one that many older actors could envy.

"I always try to keep my performance fresh. I don't ever want to go into automatic mode," he insists.

He finds that an awareness of the economic crisis that's shaken the world has given him deeper insights into the world of poverty that Billy Elliot operates from.

"Thinking about all the hard times people have had, losing their homes and jobs, has actually changed my character. Made it a bit tougher. I think of Billy more as a kid from a poor family who's angry because he has no idea at first of how to make his life any better.

"I think that gives the audience so much more to connect to."

Back in the fall, when the show first opened, he admitted that his favourite moment was the show-stopping Act II number "Electricity," and time hasn't changed that impression.

"To be honest, it's still as powerful as ever for me.

``I feel sad, angry, frustrated and joyous, all I give in minutes of song and dance. There's nothing like that."

When Billy Elliot finally closes, or Alvarez leaves the role, he's clear about wanting to return to the world of ballet where he began, "dancing in pieces like Swan Lake all around the world."

But first comes Tony night this Sunday and – win or lose – he's already decided how he's going to greet the news.

"With a big tomato and cheese pie from Pizzeria Uno."

Star-Crossed Love Story Leads Dora Theatre Awards

Source: www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

(June 03, 2009) Agokwe, a tale of star-crossed love between two boys living on neighbouring reserves, has received a leading eight nominations in the general theatre division at this year's Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

The Buddies in Bad Times production is up for awards including outstanding new play, outstanding production of a play and outstanding direction of a play.

Jersey Boys, the documentary-style musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, follows closely with seven nominations.

The Doras, now into their 30th year, are Canada's version of New York's famed Tony Awards and honour talent in Toronto's performing arts industry. They'll take place June 29.

In the Doras' independent theatre production division, literary mystery Eternal Hydra, from Crow's Theatre, nabbed 10 nominations.

The Canadian Opera Company leads with eight nominations in the opera division, while the Princess Productions' presentation of Radiant and the National Ballet of Canada's program Innovation: Emergence each received four nominations in the dance division.

Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People took six nominations in the theatre for young audiences division.

The Doras are administered by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts.

They're named for the late Dora Mavor Moore, a teacher and director who helped establish Canadian professional theatre in the 1930s and 1940s.

THEATRE TIDBITS

Broadway Taps Toronto To Find Its Next Billy Elliot

Source:
www.globeandmail.com

(May 27, 2009) Toronto — Representatives from the hit show Billy Elliot: The Musical announced Wednesday night that they will hold an open audition for boys who are strong dancers, aged 9-12, for the roles of Billy and his best friend, Michael, on Saturday, June 13. The show, an ode to individualism and collective bargaining set during the British coal miners' strike of the early 1980s, is up for 15 Tony Awards, including a shared best actor nomination for its trio of teenaged boys currently alternating in the title role. David Alvarez, a 15-year-old ballet dancer from Montreal making his professional acting debut as Billy, was nominated alongside Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish, who share the part. Two actors currently play the role of Michael. Elliot tied the record of nominations set by The Producers in 2001. Actors who make the cut are put through a months-long training program. The roles are typically recast every year or so – or as soon as the boys start to show signs of puberty, thereby outgrowing the part. The audition in Toronto is to be held at 509 Parliament Street. Sign up begins at 11:30 a.m.

Richmond Hill Theatre Offers Varied Lineup

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

(June 02, 2009) The Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, one of the loveliest new theatrical venues in the GTA, announces its first full season today that promises to include everything from a live performance by Suzie McNeil to a stage combat demonstration from the Resurgence Theatre Company. This first full year of operation will feature a variety of modules, including a Broadway season (Altar Boyz, The Wedding Singer), a family series (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Dorothy the Dinosaur), a classical series (Quartetto Gelato, the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra), a multicultural series (Binti's Journey) and a contemporary music series (Art Garfunkel, Ron Sexsmith). Popular names such as Jackie Richardson, Linda Eder, John McDermott, RyanDan and Spirit of the West will be on display as well. "The season is an exciting blend of world-class artists and incredible performances that can only be seen in Richmond Hill," says theatre manager Michael Grit. "We are proud to be presenting world premieres and programming to satisfy the tastes of every resident and every culture of the community." For more information, go to richmondhill.ticketwindow.ca.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Posh Nightclub Sets Scene For New Grand Theft Auto

Source: www.thestar.com -
Marc Saltzman, Special To The Star

(May 30, 2009) Rockstar Games, the makers of the wildly successful Grand Theft Auto series, has confirmed the name and back-story for its next downloadable episode of last year's Grand Theft Auto IV.

The Xbox 360 exclusive will be titled
The Ballad of Gay Tony. Due out this fall for 1,600 Microsoft Points (about $25) or available on a disc for $40 with the previous Grand Theft Auto IV add-on, The Lost and Damned, players will control Luis Lopez, the seedy assistant to Anthony "Gay Tony" Prince, an associate of the Ancelotti crime family in Liberty City.

You might remember Lopez and Prince from the "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" mission in Grand Theft Auto IV, a game that moved more than 3.6 million units worldwide the day it was launched in April 2008 (and raked in more than $600 million in sales in its first week).

The game publisher says the expansion – which will require the main Grand Theft Auto IV disc to play – will focus on an upscale nightclub.

Contrasting that with the biker gangs and gritty streets portrayed in The Lost and Damned offers "a lot of new game-play possibilities," Rockstar founder Sam Houser said in a company statement.

As to what these new game-play possibilities are, stay tuned for the emerging details.

New Modern Warfare 2 trailer unveiled

Gamers who are fanatical about Infinity Ward's Call of Duty series – and there are legions of them – were likely disappointed with the brief teaser trailers for the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Bowing to player pressure, perhaps, Infinity Ward (an Activision-owned game studio) last week delivered the first real taste of what's to come with an intense two-minute trailer, aptly titled "Reveal," showing off both game-play and cinematic sequences. Players aged 17 and older can watch the trailer online at modernwarfare2.infinityward.com.

The sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the critically lauded first-person shooter that has sold more than 13 million units worldwide, again drops players into a fictional near future in which a Russian ultranationalist threatens world security.

Screenshots were recently unveiled to show off some of the game's new locations, including the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

Modern Warfare 2 is due out Nov. 10 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Expect the game to take home a few "Best of Show" nods at next week's E3 Expo in Los Angeles.

Toronto Company Is Moving From Mobile To Store Shelves Near You

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

(May 31, 2009) Meet Biggs. He's the impossibly cute, rainbow-belching, whiplash tongue-grabbing star of Capybara Games' Critter Crunch.

If you're a fan of mobile or iPhone games, you're probably familiar with this award-winning puzzle game, in which players make Biggs' tongue shoot up, snag smaller animals and create combos called "food chains." Now Biggs is helping his creators move up the food chain, as Critter Crunch is scheduled to debut on the PlayStation Network later this summer.

As the largest annual convention for video games (Electronic Entertainment Expo a.k.a. E3) looms, the 25 employees at Capybara's offices on Spadina Ave. are busy in deadline mode sending off final builds of Critter Crunch to Sony Entertainment, as well as getting their first game for Nintendo's DS – Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes – to its publisher, Ubisoft Montreal. Both games are landmarks for this five-year-old developer, and President Nathan Vella can't wait to hit E3 in Los Angeles.

Games for cellphones get little respect: they're usually small with simple game-play mechanics and often have branded content. Graduating from mobile space, Capybara is a great example of homegrown success – and yet another example of Toronto's flourishing indie games community.

While branch offices of big game studios are located in either Montreal and Vancouver, Toronto's video game development is made of much smaller studios, which have made a habit out of punching above their weight class. In years past, local creations like Jonathan Mak's Everyday Shooter and Metanet's N+ have been huge success stories and Capybara's very busy summer will only add to local reputation.

"There's a lot of really, really quality stuff from small developers (but) the average gamer population in Toronto doesn't even know that they come from this city," says Vella.

Capybara started out as a message posted on a forum on the local Independent Game Developers Association website. Drawing interest from a bunch of folks, they graduated from online chats to meetings at Paupers Pub and eventually into regular meetings at a community centre. Vella says the group eventually realized that they had enough skilled people to actually make a game and chose mobile games because the cost of entry was so low.

"Basically, it was `Buy an $80 cellphone, download the software for free and get going.' It was pretty new, and a market that a bunch of random dudes could jump right into," he says.

A year later, Capybara went to the annual Game Developers Conference, with some financial help from the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and came back with an agent and a deal to produce a mobile version of a Disney game for the movie Cars. Within months, they had two more mobile games in development and were on their way to making their splash with games such as Pillowfight and Monkey on Your Back. That culminated with Critter Crunch, which won website IGN's Wireless 2007 Best Puzzle Game & Biggest Surprise Game awards and the 2008 IGF Mobile Best Games Awards. It was also one of the games available for the iPhone when it launched, and remains one of the best-reviewed games for the device. (Some of the company's founders have left to start their own companies; five of them remain.)

Vella says that the company always saw the mobile market as a way to move to other platforms, and after they created what they called a really robust RPG game that nobody would publish – it was unlicensed, unbranded and considered too big for mobile devices – they decided it was time to try and move up to other platforms. Vella says that Critter Crunch has been rebuilt from the ground up, allowing the company to use features that other video game companies take for granted, like a controller.

Vella says they chose to go with the PlayStation Network as opposed to Xbox Live Arcade because Sony seemed more excited about the game, and the PSN network has become a great place for smaller, unusual games. As well, seeing Biggs in glorious HD is an exciting prospect for them.

"When we decided that we were going to put this game on a downloadable platform, it was `let's find the company that puts in the effort to work with us, the ones that seem the most excited to work with us,'" he says. "The people at Sony were hands down the most jazzed."

Capybara's other new game might make a bigger impact for the company, however. Beyond being their first DS game, Might & Magic is the next instalment of a much-loved PC game series, and the move to DS already has some fans concerned. News that Capybara has created a new game-play mechanic and calling it a puzzle RPG hasn't helped.

"People automatically think it's like Puzzlequest, and it's not," says Vella. He can't really go into much detail about how it's different until Ubisoft's E3 presentation next week.

The hottest trend for E3 this year is the move by the video game industry toward digital distribution. There, Capybara (capybaragames.com) is ahead of the curve, having worked strictly in digital download for years.

Now they can look forward to an actual packaged product when Might & Magic is released. And on the day it's released, Vella says he's taking the entire company to the nearest EB Games to pose for pictures with their latest milestone.

Old School Charm Will Knock You Out

Source: www.thestar.com - Darren Zenko,
Special To The Star

Punch-Out!!
http://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gifhttp://www.thestar.com/images/misc/sb_star10.gif(out of four)
Wii
$59.99
Rated E

(May 30, 2009) It took me a while to get around to Nintendo's Wii remake of
Punch-Out!!, the classic boxing game, simply because I live out in the country. It's not that the game itself was hard to get hold of, but being relatively isolated from a community of video-gaming pals bumped virtual boxing down on my priority list.

Despite the stereotype of the lone basement-bound nerd, video games are quite a social pursuit; a role-playing or adventure game might be fine for solo play, but a skill/reflex challenge like Punch-Out!! seems a bit empty without a couchful of spectator/competitors cheering/jeering at your side.

This is how we did it at my cousins' place back in the day – when the game was branded Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! – and without that social aspect I was worried this 22-years-later update would knock me into a depression.

I need not have been concerned. Sure, there's something a little lonely in donning the virtual gloves of up-and-coming pugilist Little Mac without a peanut gallery chorus of useless and/or sabotaging advice, or without overeager peers shouting, "Pass it over!" and grabbing at the controller the nanosecond you're counted out. The primordial mano-a-machino challenge of Punch-Out!! quickly sends even the solo player into a serious "Eye of the Tiger" zone, jumping into rematch after rematch like a fighter too dumb or proud to know when to hang 'em up and move on to hawking kitchen gadgets and appearing at car-dealership promotions.

Beyond the joys of the game, there's pleasure in how it stands as an iconoclastic statement on the phenomenon of updates and modernizations of old games. Remakes, reboots, re-imaginings and retreads are at the core of the video game industry, as you'd expect in a medium whose core audience is, paradoxically, both obsessively nostalgic and ravenous for all things new and shiny. Dudes with Pac-Man tattoos ferociously trash-talk online about the relative merits of the consoles' graphics processors.

So we get remakes, precious memories of childhood/youth/two-years-ago converted into "valuable franchise intellectual property" and presented again with each turn of the technological generation. Sometimes it works (Metroid Prime is one excellent example), but even the best update of the original game is lost within the gloss (and dross) of modern graphics and gameplay.

Not so Punch-Out!! – the graphics may have made the jump to 3D, but the actual gameplay is a full-on, unadulterated reproduction of the mechanics that blistered thumbs in million of 1980s rumpus rooms. Like its ancestor, Wii Punch-Out!! has as much to do with actual boxing as Missile Command had to do with actual intercontinental ballistic-missile defence. Even Wii Sports Boxing, with its flail-or-fail controls, is a more faithful simulation of the mysteries of the sweet science.

Punch-Out!! is basically a series of boss battles, with all the premium pattern-recognition and hand-eye-co-ordination that implies. There is nothing free-form about the game.

Neither button-mashing nor fighting skills will earn the belt for Little Mac; the only way to progress is to learn his opponent's routines, reflexively read their tells, and dodge and counterpunch with split-second timing.

Even more perversely, especially for a tent-pole Wii game, Punch-Out!! is more or less a poster boy for the conservative school of video game criticism that considers motion controls an irritating gimmick; the only way to play well is to relegate the Nunchuk and Balance Board to the closet where you keep your old Power Glove.

If this doesn't sound like fun to you, I guess you've never played the original, because it is.

There's something ridiculously addictive and entertaining about a game that absolutely requires nothing less than mastery from its players.

And when it's packaged so attractively and playfully, loaded with charm and a cast of outlandish characters who to this day retain their delicate, Reagan-era frisson of ethnic stereotypes (if not outright racism), it's almost irresistible with or without the company of an overstuffed sectional loaded with cackling compadres.

Our Advice: Go See The Movie Instead

Source:  www.thestar.com - Lou Kesten,
The Associated Press

(May 30, 2009) The video-game store looks more like a multiplex during the summer months, with just about every blockbuster action movie getting an interactive tie-in. More than half of the films on last week's U.S. box-office top-10 list have related games. Movie games, deservedly, have a bad reputation, one that hasn't been improved this year by the duds based on Watchmen and Monsters vs. Aliens. And none of these offerings deliver the kind of quality you get from a truly original production like Sony's InFamous.

Since none of the movies here are Oscar-calibre, perhaps it's unfair to hold the related games to a higher standard. Then again, most of them cost a lot more than a movie ticket.
Terminator Salvation (Warner Bros., for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3): As John Connor, humanity's future saviour, you're on an ill-defined mission two years before the events of the film. With the help of a squad of resistance fighters, you move from one wasteland to another, blasting robots and ducking fire.

For most of the game, you're fighting three kinds of machines, and their patterns quickly become predictable. Occasionally you'll encounter a larger machine, but there's not much strategy involved in taking them down. Terminator Salvation feels like a classic rush job. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Majesco, for the Xbox 360, Wii, DS): This may be the most laid-back movie tie-in ever played. It's essentially a series of puzzles, as museum guard Larry Daley uses his multipurpose flashlight to unlock hidden doors, repair broken artifacts or tame animals.

Besides working your way through the story (barely longer than the movie), you can collect a lot of junk and pick up some dubious history lessons. The gameplay feels flat, and the jokes are really tired. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Activision, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3): Marvel's mutton-chopped man-beast makes a good video-game hero, with his acrobatic moves and built-in weaponry. And Activision has done a fine job of capturing him in this fast-paced hack-and-slash adventure.

Parents, beware: This game is unbelievably gory on the high-definition consoles. The Wii version is less bloody, but also a lot less entertaining. Star Trek D-A-C (Paramount, for the Xbox 360): In this top-down outer-space shoot-'em-up, you pick a side – Federation or Romulan – and then fly around blasting other spaceships.

The "D-A-C" stands for death match, assault, conquest – the three modes you can play. It's more like multiplayer Asteroids than Star Trek, and it won't hold your interest.

Get On Your Board And Ride

Source: www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman,
Special To The Star

(May 23, 2009) As a judge for the Game Critics Awards (gamecriticsawards.com) – an annual event that honours excellence in video games at the annual E3 Expo June 2 through 4 – I recently spent a week in Los Angeles for a pre-E3 sneak peak at more than 100 upcoming titles.

Activision Publishing took the wraps off a new skateboarding title,
Tony Hawk: Ride (THRide.com), revealing that for the first time in the series players will be able to pull off tricks, such as grinds and ollies, by stepping on a motion-sensing skateboard controller.

This optional peripheral resembles a real skateboard – sans wheels – and features two tilt-sensing accelerometers and three infrared sensors along the sides of the board for hand grabs and foot propulsion.

I'll get a chance to test-ride it at E3, and my hopes are high, given that Activision has some experience with unique game controllers – they're the publishers of the mega-popular Guitar Hero (and soon, DJ Hero) franchises. (This isn't the first time virtual skateboarders could take a peripheral to the virtual streets. Last November, EA's Skate It allowed Wii players to step on a Balance Board to control the action.)

Due out by the winter holidays, Tony Hawk: Ride is being developed by Chicago-based Robomodo for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while Oregon's Buzz Monkey is creating a Nintendo Wii version.

300th Virtual Console game

Nintendo is celebrating a milestone for the Virtual Console area of the Wii Shop Channel – which lets Wii owners download classic games – by offering The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a Nintendo 64 title from 2000. The 300th Virtual Console title goes for 1,000 Nintendo Points (about $12.50).

Majora's Mask serves up another epic adventure starring the brave Link. The game continues where The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time leaves off, after the sword-wielding Link destroys the evil Ganon and returns to his youth.

This time, Link must stop Skull Kid from causing the ominous moon to crash down and destroy Clock Town and the rest of the planet – all in three days. By playing a tune through the ocarina, Link can slow down time to complete key tasks within four realms: snow, beach, grass and desert.

::DANCE NEWS::

The National Ballet Loses Its ‘Iron Butterfly'

Source: 
www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

(May 29, 2009) It's hard to imagine there will be a dry eye in the house when principal dancer Chan Hon Goh performs her final Giselle at Toronto's Four Seasons Centre on Sunday.

In February, an emotional Karen Kain announced at the National Ballet of Canada's annual general meeting that Goh would retire this spring after a glittering 20-year career.

The ballerina told Kain in confidence two years ago that the 2008-09 season would be her last, after the dancer suffered neck injuries in a car accident in 2006. The advance notice gave Kain time to plan. “I did program Giselle for her,” says Kain, the National's artistic director. “Her interpretation is one of the best there is with her ethereal quality, her beautiful arms and that unbelievable jump. It's amazing how she just seems to spring out of nowhere and hide the power it takes.”

The jump is the cornerstone of Goh's brilliance in the role of Giselle , one of the most coveted in classical ballet. The ballerina must transform from spirited peasant girl to a ghostly apparition. She has to appear lighter than air, a delicate shade in the afterworld, and when Goh jumps, it's as if she's floating weightless in space.

“She kills her pointe shoes, working at them, making them so supple that they make no sound when she lands,” says her colleague Elena Lobsanova, 22, who counts herself lucky to be noticed by Goh. “In my apprentice year,” she says, “Chan corrected me in my centre work during class. She had all that knowledge that she wanted to pass on to me. She is one of the most approachable dancers in the company and you can always ask her questions.”

The 40-year-old ballerina is just as elegant offstage as on. Not just Lobsanova finds her approachable; colleagues say she is gracious to everyone through the ranks. Hard-working and disciplined in the studio, she is humble in her craft and generous with her praise, sending hand-written notes to other dancers. She is universally respected, always a diplomat and an island of calm before every performance. Says frequent dance partner Aleksandar Antonijevic: “In this crazy, hard-edged world, there is someone who has stayed a caring human being, and that's Chan.”

Kain, however, is quick to underline the Goh dichotomy. “She may look tiny and fragile, but underneath she is strong physically and psychologically. She has will and determination. She's smart and organized. Chan is the quintessential Iron Butterfly.”

Fellow principal dancer Heather Ogden calls her “a superpower. Just look at all the things she juggles in her life and always with grace.”

Outside of the ballet world, Goh is the mother of Aveary, her two-year-old son, and an impresario who produces dance shows. Her 2002 autobiography, Beyond the Dance: A Ballerina's Life , co-written with Cary Fagan, is aimed at the young reader and portrays Goh as a role model for immigrant children to follow their dream.

I was an outcast in a mostly white neighbourhood. I realized at 8 that you have to prove yourself and be good at what you do, or be laughed at.

She and her husband Chun Che, a respected dance teacher, also manufacture dance shoes under the company name Principal by Chan Hon Goh at their ever-expanding factory outside Beijing. Che designs the ergonomically correct shoes while Goh supervises the promotion. It is the hard-headed business woman talking when she describes the company's various lines of pointe shoes, ballet slippers and dance boots. “There are 6,000 dance retailers in North America,” she says, “and we're in 100 of them. We have a big market to attack.”

Dance is the family business. Her mother and father were principal dancers with the National Ballet of China before immigrating to Canada when Chan was 8. In Vancouver, the couple eventually opened the Goh Ballet Academy, which is now one of the most prestigious training institutions in the country. One aunt started an important ballet school, while another founded a dance company, both in Singapore. Her late uncle was the New York-based, much acclaimed choreographer Choo San Goh.

Goh believes it is the vicissitudes of her early life that contributed both to her iron will and her sensitivity. While her parents had had well-established dance careers in China, when they first came to Vancouver, life was hard. Goh's father took a job at a plant gutting fish, her mother worked at a dry cleaners and her grandmother as a cleaning lady to make ends meet. “On one hand,” she says, “I couldn't be a producer or a company executive without having gone through the hard times that strengthened my character. On the other, … I'm easily hurt and I try not to show it. I'm good at covering up my feelings.”

Being an immigrant child was difficult, she says. “I was an outcast in a mostly white neighbourhood. I realized at 8 that you have to prove yourself and be good at what you do, or be laughed at.

“You have to learn the importance of keeping your head above water,” she says. “You have to be tough to make your mark.” Schooled by her parents, Goh was accepted into the National in 1988. “Lucky for me,” she says, “I got noticed right away because I didn't know how to be a corps de ballet member. I wanted those spotlight roles.” She performed a solo in La Bayadère in her first year and the pas de deux from Le Corsaire in her second, both at Ontario Place.

While still in the corps, Goh danced the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and Lise in La Fille mal gardée . Other great classical roles followed, and Goh was promoted to principal dancer in 1994. She is considered one of the finest classicists in the company, but she also excels in the neoclassical Balanchine repertoire and has created roles in original works, such as Summer in James Kudelka's The Four Seasons .

“When Chan first joined the company,” says Magdalena Popa, who coaches the principal dancers, “her father approached me and told me to take care of her, as if he knew I'd be working with her one day. Her whole bearing radiates all the good things that come from being well brought up and having respect for the craft. She has proved to be one of the most versatile dancers, whether in strong technique roles like Kitri in Don Quixote or the transparent lightness of Giselle .”

Goh never fully recovered from the injuries she sustained in the car accident, and says it has forced her to recognize she can no longer push herself as she once did. “I need intensive physiotherapy and massage in order to dance,” she says. “It's a vicious circle; I push, and everything seizes up again. Although I hide the pain well, I don't want it to become an excuse for bad dancing. I told Karen that I thought Giselle would be a good way to say goodbye. By leaving now, I'll be remembered for all the right things.”

Chan Hon Goh performs the lead role in the National Ballet's Giselle at the first performance Wednesday and the final performance on Sunday ( www.national.ballet.ca ).

::OTHER NEWS::

Gulp! After 7 Decades, Archie Picks Veronica

Source: www.thestar.com - Cathal Kelly,
Staff Reporter

(May 28, 2009) After nearly seven decades of waffling, Archie Andrews has finally decided to end pop culture's most famous love triangle.

His bride-to-be? Snooty brunette
Veronica Lodge.

Would it be her or Betty? The issue was put to debate. The publishers decided. Issue #600 will feature the long-time freckle-faced high-school klutz on bended knee with a ring in his hand. While Veronica screams out "Yes!" Betty stands wiping away a tear.

This relationship jolt leaves long-time readers of the checkout aisle comic a little lost. Wasn't Veronica forever going hot and cold on poor Archie? And isn't her dad a rich buttinsky with strong control-freak tendencies? And wasn't sweet all-American blond Betty Cooper always there to pick up the pieces?

For those reasons, sentiment was running strongly in Betty's favour in the two weeks leading up to the pick. And it was running just as strongly on the side of proposal nullification. After all, Archie's been juggling dates for so long, he's probably not husband material.

"Why couldn't you wait until I was dead before you finally had him pick between the two?" 46-year-old fan, Valerie, wrote on the publisher's website.

In case you haven't checked for a while, Archie isn't 17 any more. He's now a college grad looking to explore vistas beyond Principal Weatherbee's office and the few last miles his jalopy can manage before backfiring her last.

But marriage? This is a big step. And it immediately eliminates about 90 per cent of the narrative twists that have launched thousands of Archie stories.

"So is this the end of Archie Comics?" wrote another fan, Ebony, likely on a tear-streaked keyboard.

For those who fear that the magic is now gone, along with the eternal youth of all the kids at Riverdale High, there is some hope.

The title of Issue 600 is "Archie Marries Veronica, Part 1: The Proposal." That doesn't sound terribly definitive.

Could there be a Part II: Left at the Altar?

Or Part III: Betty Forgives, Again?

How about Part VII: What Happens at the Chocklit Shoppe Stays at the Chocklit Shoppe.

Jeramy Dodds Says Prestigious Nod For First Collection Is 'A Little Overwhelming'

Source: www.thestar.com - Vit Wagner,
Publishing Reporter

(May 30, 2009) It doesn't get much bigger in poetry circles than the Griffin prize, the planet's most lucrative honour for verse, as well as one of the most prestigious. So it's understandable that Jeramy Dodds might feel a bit bowled over that his debut collection, Crabwise to the Hounds, is a finalist for this year's award.

For starters, there's all that money: $100,000 to be split between this year's Canadian and International winners during a Wednesday gala in the Distillery District featuring a keynote address by New Yorker literary critic James Wood.

Then there's the previous evening's public readings at the U of T's MacMillan Theatre, customarily performed to a sold-out house of 850 – or, roughly, 20 times the number of people who might show up for a well-attended poetry recital any other night of the year.

Last year's winners were New York's John Ashbery and the late Robin Blaser of Vancouver, both universally recognized as giants in the field. The prize, now in its ninth year, has been bestowed on such esteemed Canadian versifiers as Margaret Avison, Don McKay and Roo Borson.

Heady company, then, for Dodds, the first Canadian to be nominated for a debut collection since Karen Solie in 2002 with Short Haul Engine.

"I understand that this is a huge honour for a first book," says Dodds, chatting earlier this week in a Toronto coffee shop. "It's a little overwhelming.

"I love readings," continues the 34-year-old, who grew up in Orono Township, near Peterborough. "But needless to say, I'm a little nervous about how many people will be in attendance. For some, it might be the only poetry reading they may go to all year."

By contrast, the two other Canadian finalists are old hands. A. F. Moritz, nominated for The Sentinel, has authored nearly 20 collections and is a two-time Governor General's Award nominee. Kevin Connolly, in the running for his fourth collection, Revolver, won a 2005 Trillium Prize for Drift. Connolly, as coincidence would have it, also edited Crabwise to the Hounds.

"Kevin has been a huge influence on me," says Dodds. "I'm very familiar with the work of both him and (Moritz). So I don't expect there to be any animosity between anyone."

Dodds, currently teaching creative writing at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, is a research archaeologist who has been involved in digs throughout southern Ontario. He started writing poetry about a decade ago, motivated mainly by the challenge of creating "alchemy" from language.

In a review in these pages, Star poetry critic Barbara Carey praised Crabwise to the Hounds for its "flights of surreal, often comically outlandish invention," as well as its "figurative flair" and "striking images and metaphors." The collection's broad range of subjects include the natural landscape, Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh and Canadian piano virtuoso Glenn Gould.

"A certain combination of words is capable of keying an emotion. That's definitely what I'm interested in," says Dodds, who won the 2006 Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award, given to the best Canadian writer under the age of 35 who has yet to have published a book. "In the case of the Glenn Gould poems, I was trying to mimic what Gould did emotionally in his recordings. Those poems are different from the more language-y pieces."

The poems in Crabwise to the Hounds, which is also in the running for a Trillium Book Award for Poetry, were crafted over a seven-year period punctuated by residencies in Banff, Sweden and Greece.

"Ninety per cent of the time I'd be working on the stuff alone," Dodds says. "The actual composition of a poem could be a month, followed by months to years of editing, of leaving it and then returning to it again."

This isn't to suggest that Dodds is satisfied with solitude as anything more than a means to an end. If the audience for poetry is comparatively small, it isn't because poets don't hunger to be heard. Dodds might feel a bit intimidated by the hoopla around his Griffin nomination, but he's grateful for the exposure.

"It started for me by getting enjoyment out of reading the work of others," he says, "so I want to write something that will give somebody else that same enjoyment."

::SPORTS NEWS::

The Final's Fab Four

Source: www.thestar.com - Damien Cox

(May 29, 2009)  It's a lively debate for which there are ample opinions but no clear answer.

But what a crowd.

You can make an argument that any one of five current NHL players can stake a claim to being the best player on the planet.

Three –
Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk – are finalists for the Hart Trophy as regular-season MVP.

One, Henrik Zetterberg, was named Conn Smythe Trophy winner last spring as the best player in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

One,
Sidney Crosby, is the current favourite to win the Conn Smythe this spring.

Four of these players – Malkin, Crosby, Datsyuk and Zetterberg – are participants in this year's Stanley Cup final, the NHL's greatest showcase, which begins tomorrow night in Detroit.

In fact, you can expand the debate to whether the Pittsburgh Penguins, with Malkin and Crosby, have a more dynamic duo than the Red Wings, with Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

Last spring, when the same clubs clashed for the Cup, the Wings won that discussion and the championship.

In a larger sense, what seemed to be turning into a two-man joust for the mantle of best player in the world – Ovechkin or Crosby – has ballooned to a five-man race at a time when star power is crucial for the NHL as it continues to seek greater exposure throughout the United States.

Such a glut of talent is rare for any sport.

For the NHL, such debates have usually been limited to two players, or occasionally three.

In the 1950s, some chose Gordie Howe, others Maurice (The Rocket) Richard. By the 1960s, there were those who saw Chicago's Bobby Hull or Stan Mikita as the best, while others believed the game's top player was Montreal's Jean Beliveau.

By the 1970s, it was Bobby Orr or Phil Esposito, then Guy Lafleur, Bryan Trottier or Bobby Clarke, with a greater appreciation that brilliant players also existed in Europe who were not yet in the NHL.

Through the 1980s and into the early 1990s, some loved Mario Lemieux, others saw Wayne Gretzky as the top player in the sport. By the latter part of the decade, the debate had switched to one involving Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek and Jaromir Jagr.

But five players staking a claim at once, with three under the age of 24, is truly an embarrassment of riches.

Which player is the game's best, of course, depends on viewpoint and taste.

Some might suggest Zetterberg, who had a 73-point regular season, doesn't belong. But he scored 43 goals a year ago and won the Conn Smythe and, with Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom out of the lineup for Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference final against Chicago, Zetterberg demonstrated his unselfish, two-way brilliance.

Crosby, with 14 goals in 17 playoff games this spring, is dominating once more as he did when he won the 2007 Hart Trophy, but with a grittier edge to his game.

Ovechkin is undoubtedly the game's most spectacular scoring machine, but Washington's ouster at the hands of Pittsburgh suggested his defensive game is often lacking. Malkin was the regular-season scoring champ with much to prove in this year's final.

Datsyuk, finally, may or may not play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final tomorrow. He has an underrated physical side, is right there with Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa as a solo artist on offence and is generally acknowledged to be the best defensive forward in the sport.

So how to choose just one? Not easy. If you treasure post-season performance above all, then perhaps it's Crosby or Zetterberg.

Much, however, could be revealed in this year's Stanley Cup final, with the entire debate to be transferred to another stage next winter in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

This argument, you have to figure, is going to rage for years.

Howard Leads Way With 40 Points As Orlando Clinches Spot In Final For First Time Since 1995

Source:  www.thestar.com - Tom Withers
Associated Press

Magic 103 Cavaliers 90
Magic win series 4-2

(May 31, 2009) ORLANDO, Fla. – Overlooked and begging for respect all season, the Orlando Magic can no longer be ignored. After 14 frustrating years, they've returned to the
NBA final.

Dwight Howard dominated inside for 40 points, Rashard Lewis added 18 and the Magic, a team that can make three-pointers drop from thin air, hit 12 in a 103-90 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final last night.

"Total domination," Lewis said. "He totally dominated the game. He carried us on his back tonight."

The Magic will be making their first finals appearance since 1995, one year before Shaquille O'Neal bolted as a free agent for Los Angeles, leaving this Florida franchise in ruins.

It's been a long, slow climb back, but Orlando has been rebuilt and will meet the Lakers in Game 1 on Thursday night at the Staples Center.

Disney World vs. Disneyland.

"I just think this team all year long has shown an incredible amount of heart," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "This team just keeps fighting back. They deserve it."

Oh, and memo to Nike executives: It's time to break out the Howard puppet. LeBron's can go in summer storage.

For now, the only matchup between James and Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant will have to be limited to those cute TV commercials.

The Magic made them irrelevant.

With the city's most famous athlete, Tiger Woods, sitting courtside, Orlando made believers of all those who wondered if they were better than the Cavaliers, a team that won 66 games in the regular season, or the defending champion Boston Celtics.

The Magic made both disappear in the post-season.

James scored 25 in his worst game of the series, but the 24-year-old was magnificent for most of it, adding to a legacy still in its infancy.

But the league MVP had to do most of it alone, as Mo Williams lost his shooting touch and Cleveland's bench was badly outplayed by Orlando's reserves.

Afterward, James put on his headphones and stormed out of Amway Arena without saying a word.

He skipped the news conference and briskly walked down the corridor with two security guards as escorts. He plopped into a chair to be scanned for the team's charter plane ride, grabbed his bags and was gone – a special season ending in stunning disappointment.

Delonte West added 22 and Williams 17 for Cleveland, which went 0-5 in Orlando.

During the closing minutes, James was mocked by Orlando's crowd singing "M-V-P" as Howard shot free throws.

And after Superman muscled underneath for a thunderous dunk with 2:21 left, the crowd moved into finals mode chanting, "Beat L.A.!"

Howard's one flaw has been his free-throw shooting, but he made 12 of 16 in Game 6.

The Magic's season hasn't been without its share of turmoil. Point guard Jameer Nelson sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in early February, a setback that at the time seemed as if it would prevent Orlando from doing anything special.

But GM Otis Smith acquired guard Rafer Alston in a trade with Houston. Alston, a former playground legend, fit in perfectly.

In the opening round against Philadelphia, the Magic lost the opener before rebounding and winning a close-out Game 6 on the road.

In the conference final, they beat Cleveland with a devastating mix of inside power and outside firepower.

Peter Zezel Remembered As 'Special Human Being'

Source: www.thestar.com - Mike Funston,
Staff Reporter

(May 29, 2009) It was standing room only, just like it was when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

About 800 mourners packed to overflowing St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Mississauga today for the funeral of 15-year NHL veteran
Peter Zezel.

It was so crowded, some mourners had to stand on the steps outside the church.

Zezel, 44, died Tuesday as a result of a rare blood disease called hemolytic anemia.

Former teammates, NHL executives, friends, relatives, sports media and Lieutenant-Governor David Onley attended the service at the Dixie Rd. church.

Zezel's casket was carried into the church by relatives and former Leafs teammates Mark Osborne and Steve Thomas.

"Peter was a kind individual. Despite his status and fame, it never went to his head," said Father Michael Doder in his eulogy. "He was a loving and genuine person who was willing to give."

"The large number of mourners present is testimony to how much he was loved by others," Doder said.

Former Leaf linemate and close friend, Osborne, described Zezel's death as "a shocking loss."

He described Zezel as "a special human being," and one who "mixed the same with fans as he did with (hockey) stars."

He was "a great teammate who always put the team before himself, and as great a linemate as one could ever hope to have."

After his career ended in 1998-99, Zezel began running camps in Markham that combined hockey, soccer and golf, trying, as he said, "to put the fun back" into kids' sports. He also coached AAA hockey with the Don Mills Flyers.

"He was generous, kind and laughed a lot. There wasn't a mean bone in his body."

Some of those attending the funeral included former Leafs general manger Cliff Fletcher and former Leaf players Doug Gilmour and Tie Domi.

Alvin Williams Jacked Up To Rejoin Raptors

Source: www.thestar.com  - Doug Smith,
Sports Reporter

(June 02, 2009) Alvin Williams played an integral part in the greatest success the Raptors have known and he wants the chance to help return the franchise to that level.

The iconic point guard – whose clutch deciding-game jumpshot clinched the only playoff series Toronto has ever won, a five-game set against the New York Knicks in 2000 – is in line to join Jay Triano's staff as an assistant coach for skills development, bridging the Raptors' past and future.

"It's just a great opportunity," the 34-year-old Williams said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I just feel like I've been away from the game so long and I want to get back involved in NBA basketball."

Williams, who last played pro hoops in a brief two-game stint with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2007, would provide Triano with a staff member old enough to remember when things were best around the Raptors but young enough to truly connect with many of the players he'd be teaching.

"I think I'm still really in tune with the players," said Williams, who has been living in his hometown of Philadelphia since retiring and working with players at his alma mater, Villanova University.

"I know that I'm not that far removed from the game; I know some of the problems that go on in a season."

According to sources, Triano and Williams are expected to meet in the next couple of days to try to finalize a deal. Triano, elevated from interim coach earlier this month, is still putting together his complete staff.

Sources have been suggesting for months that former Memphis Grizzlies head coach and long-time Phoenix Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni would be the lead assistant on Triano's staff and the fate of former Toronto assistants Alex English, Mike Evans and Gord Herbert – all of whom are free agents at the end of this month – is still to be determined.

The 6-foot-5 Williams, who held almost all the team's significant point guard records until Jose Calderon broke them last season, does have a varied history. A second-round draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers in 1997, he came to Toronto as part of the blockbuster Damon Stoudamire trade in February 1998.

After a rocky start – he didn't have the confidence of then-coach Butch Carter and languished on the end of the bench – he flourished under Lenny Wilkens and went on to play 458 games over parts of nine seasons with the Raptors.

His career was cut short by a series of knee injuries; Toronto waived him after he played just one game in the 2005-06 season after he missed the entire 2004-05 season and he caught on only on a 10-day trial with the 2006-07 Clippers.

It's just that kind of past that he feels makes him well-suited to a coaching job.

"I know a lot of the problems that go on throughout a season," said Williams.

"I know the whole aspect of it, when you're not playing and when things aren't going well. I know when guys have to get in the gym and start working harder, I can tell them how to handle themselves with some off-court issues.

"I haven't been away too long; I think the players need a voice of experience."

Gymnast Casey Sandy Sticking To Plan To Get To The Olympics

Source: www.thestar.com
Randy Starkman

(June 03, 2009) Brampton’s Casey Sandy seems like a soft-spoken guy, not the type given to making waves, but it’s clear he still feels the sting of being left off the men’s gymnastics team for the Beijing Olympics.

Sandy, once described by his university coach Randy Jepson as the “Rodney Dangerfield” of NCAA gymnastics," played a major role in helping Canada earn a team berth for the Olympics at the 2007 worlds after star Kyle Shewfelt shattered both his legs.

But Sandy’s attempts to make it to his first Games were undercut because he missed a key qualification meet during exam week at Penn State. He said he didn’t realize that meet was part of the qualification criteria.

He doesn’t make a big deal about it now, but admits he isn’t completely over it.

“I’m a little bit bitter about it, but I try not to let it get to me, I try to move on,” he said.

Part of that moving on is competing at this week’s national championships in Hamilton, where he hopes to establish himself as an important part of the puzzle on the men’s side leading to the 2012 London Olympics.

“One of my goals growing up was to go to the Olympics, so it definitely is a big motivator for me,” said Sandy.

“My friends and family all want me to keep going to go to the next Olympics. … It’s a matter of how my body stands up to it the next couple of years. But that’s what I plan on doing.”

He finished his stellar collegiate career on a huge high, winning the Nissen-Emery Award, gymnastics' version of the Heisman Trophy. He didn’t think he’d cop the honour because it never usually goes to a non-American.

Majoring in sciences, Sandy has one semester left and is looking at a career in pharmacy. He said his experience at Penn State was “awesome.”

“I’m kind of sad to leave now. You have to eventually move on to other experiences.”


Kerry Joseph Named Argos Starting QB

Source: www.thestar.com - Dan Ralph,
The Canadian Press

(June 03, 2009) There will be no quarterback controversy this year at the Toronto Argonautstraining camp.

First-year head coach Bart Andrus squashed any threat of one by naming veteran
Kerry Joseph his starter Wednesday, the opening day of the CFL team's mini camp for rookies and quarterbacks.

Andrus's announcement is in stark contrast to last year when head coach Rich Stubler decided to platoon Joseph and veteran Michael Bishop.

"Kerry is listed No. 1 on our depth chart and in my mind he's the one everybody else has to beat out," Andrus said. "Right now he's our starter, he's our leader until he proves otherwise or someone else steps up."

Andrus's words are definitely music to the ears of Joseph, who admitted the 2008 campaign was a painful one.

"I pray that I never have to see a situation like that again as long as I'm playing the game of football," he said. "It's over with, it's done with.

"You take and you learn from it and you get better in life and on the football field."

Joseph, 35, tops the list of Toronto's four quarterbacks in camp. Joining him are Cody Pickett – last year's backup – and newcomers Kinsmon Lancaster and Stephen Reaves. Former NCAA quarterback Reggie McNeal will report with other veterans Sunday for the official start of training camp playing receiver while giving the Argos an emergency option under centre.

The six-foot-one, 215-pound Joseph joined the Argos amid much fanfare in a trade from Saskatchewan in March 2008. He was named the CFL's outstanding player in 2007 and capped his stellar campaign by leading the Roughriders to a Grey Cup championship before becoming embroiled in a contract dispute with the Riders.

Joseph quickly signed a new, lucrative multi-year deal with Toronto, but couldn't mirror his '07 on-field success with the club. The Argos struggled to a 4-14 record – losing their final nine regular-season games – to miss the CFL playoffs for the first time since 2001.

What's more, Stubler's decision regarding his quarterbacks created division in the locker-room and Toronto ultimately dealt Bishop to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in late August. Shortly afterwards, the Argos fired Stubler after a 4-6 start and replaced him with Don Matthews, the winningest coach in CFL history.

But the move backfired as the Argos went 0-8 under Matthews, who led the team to consecutive Grey Cup titles in 1996-'97 and abruptly resigned at season's end.

Joseph's plight didn't improve after Bishop's departure. Following his first game back with Toronto, Matthews made the shocking decision to bench Joseph and go with the unproven Pickett. Two weeks later, Joseph was back in the starting lineup.

Joseph finished the season completing 307-of-536 passes (57.3 per cent) for 4,174 yards – the second-highest total in his six-year CFL career. But he had just 17 touchdown passes (his second-lowest total) and ran for just 493 yards and four TDs after rushing for 737 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2007.

By naming Joseph as his starter, Andrus said the veteran can concentrate solely on football.

"There was a little bit of a controversy within the quarterback position last year and I think that had an affect on (Joseph), it had an affect on the entire team," Andrus said. "By going in right away (and saying) he's our guy, we're going to avoid all that mess."

And Joseph couldn't be happier.

"That's my biggest thing, I don't have to answer the same questions I had to answer the first day of camp last year," he said. "Now, it's football because it's not about me.

"I can't win the Grey Cup by myself. I need every last one of these guys on the field. So it's good to come in and answer questions about how I felt the guys practised today, about how did this guy or that guy look?"

Andrus, who has previous coaching experience in the NFL and the now-defunct NFL Europe, will run the Argos offence and handle the play-calling duties, which is just fine with Joseph. In fact, Joseph sees a lot of similarities between Toronto's team this year and the '07 Roughriders, who were led by Kent Austin, their offensive-minded first-year head coach who was named the CFL's coach of the year after guiding Saskatchewan to its league title.

"It's kind of deja vu to have a coach like Bart coming in, a guy who is smart and has a great offensive scheme," Joseph said. "Just looking at the playbook, I think I'm going to have a lot of fun in this offence.

"I think he's going to allow me to go out and be myself."

Andrus said Joseph's versatility gives Toronto's offence plenty of options.

"He has all the intangibles that we're looking for as far as a quarterback with good athleticism," Andrus said. "He's a guy that can throw and move around and extend the play beyond the pocket if he needs to."

Joseph said Andrus's offence ideally suits his abilities and summed up his head coach's offensive scheme in one word.

"Attack," he said. "His offensive scheme is to attack and we're going to attack many different ways.

"That's his whole mentality. Attack, attack, attack. We've got to move the ball and we've got to score points. That's the way you win football games."