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March 19, 2009

First official day of spring is Friday, March 20th!  Could it be?  Could spring actually be here?  I don't buy it ... I still think that our winter lasts much longer than this ... but the hopeful side of me wants it to be spring!  I know a number of you are celebrating Spring Break with your families - enjoy!  And for the rest of us, enjoy the lack of volume on highways and public transportation.

Check out all the exciting news so please take a walk into your weekly entertainment news!


Elvis Costello, Diana Krall And Feist Among Juno Presenters

Source: www.ctv.ca

(March 12, 2009) TORONTO -- Canadian musical royalty is descending upon Vancouver for music's biggest night as CTV confirmed today presenters and special guests stars for its broadcast of The 2009 Juno Awards on March 29.

Walking down the etalk Red Carpet and appearing in the broadcast are some of Canadian music's biggest names, from West Coast native Michael Bublé to last year's five time Juno Award winner Feist.

Presenting awards are B.C.'s own Diana Krall and superstar Elvis Costello, who appears just days before the Canadian premiere of his new CTV series Spectacle. As CTV's Vancouver 2010 countdown continues, Canadian Olympians Jeremy Wotherspoon and Mellisa Hollingsworth join two dozen celebrities confirmed for the broadcast (see complete list below).

Hosted by comic superstar Russell Peters, The 2009 Juno Awards airs on CTV on Sunday, March 29 at 9 p.m. ET (visit junos.ctv.ca to confirm local broadcast times or check local listings).

With never-before-seen performances and historic one-time-only collaborations, The 2009 Juno Awards promises to deliver more surprises than ever before. Among the performance details leaked today are that the broadcast will start with a bang with more pyrotechnics than ever seen before on Canadian television. Meanwhile, a classic rock song gets a little twisted when a group of male performers hit the stage together.

As previously announced, performing in the two-hour CTV broadcast are JUNO Award nominees Bryan Adams, City and Colour, Crystal Shawanda, Divine Brown, Great Big Sea (with Hawksley Workman and Eccodek members Andrew McPherson, Les Hartai, and Jason Shute), Kathleen Edwards, Nickelback, Sam Roberts, Sarah McLachlan, Serena Ryder, Simple Plan and The Stills.

Additionally, the rock sensation Loverboy will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame during the broadcast. Click here for a complete list of nominees in each category.

With the star-filled presenter and performance line up now complete, an additional block of tickets for the two-hour performance and awards spectacular at Vancouver's General Motors Place are now on sale and available at Ticketmaster.ca or by phone at (604) 280-4444. Click here for complete ticket details.

CTV and CARAS also confirmed today that seven award categories will be presented throughout the duration of the show. The categories are: Group of the Year; Songwriter of the Year (sponsored by SIRIUS Satellite Radio); Rap Recording of the Year; New Artist of the Year (Sponsored by FACTOR and Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters); Juno Fan Choice (presented by Pepsi); Artist of the Year; and Album of the Year (Sponsored by the Canadian Recording Industry Association)

Twenty A-listers will appear live or hand out the coveted hardware during the CTV broadcast of The 2009 Juno Awards. Confirmed special guest stars include:

  Juno Award Winners (and 2009 nominees) Feist, Hedley, k.d. lang, and Michael Bublé

  2009 Juno Award nominees Aaron Pritchett and Matt Mays

  First-time Juno Award nominees Elise Estrada, Kreesha Turner, Nikki Yanofsky and Tara Oram

  Juno Award winners Deborah Cox, Diana Krall, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor from Blue Rodeo.

  Long track speed skater Jeremy Wotherspoon and skeleton racer Mellisa Hollingsworth team up for the Juno version of gold in Vancouver, where the two will look to bring home their own Olympic gold at the 2010 Winter Games

  Grammy Award Winner Elvis Costello, days before his new CTV series Spectacle premieres

  Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees and Juno Award Winners, the legendary music producer Bob Rock and Canadian music icon Buffy Sainte-Marie

  The winner of the Pepsi Super Fan contest, who will bestow the Juno Fan Choice Award presented by Pepsi.

Broadcast in high definition and 5.1 surround sound and hosted by Russell Peters, The 2009 Juno Awards, Canada's Music Awards, will air on CTV on Sunday, March 29th from General Motors Place in Vancouver.

It will be the eighth year in a row that The Juno Awards will air on CTV, the Official Broadcast partner of The Juno Awards.

Since CTV joined forces with CARAS in 2002, The Juno Awards have traveled across Canada, bringing a live, electrified stadium show to millions of Canadians. CTV has broadcast The Juno Awards from St. John's (2002), Ottawa (2003), Edmonton (2004), Winnipeg (2005), Halifax (2006), Saskatoon (2007) and Calgary (2008). The 2010 JUNO Awards will be broadcast once again from St. John's, NL.

THE 2009 JUNO AWARDS is produced by Insight Productions in association with CTV and The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS). Executive producers are John Brunton and Barbara Bowlby for Insight Productions and Melanie Berry and Stephen Stohn for CARAS. Louise Wood is Producer and Donna Luke is Line Producer. Susanne Boyce is President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc.

Broadcast sponsors for The 2009 Juno Awards are Garnier, Pepsi, Pontiac and Rogers.

Sponsors of The 2009 Juno Awards include FACTOR, Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage's "Canada Music Fund," The Province of British Columbia, The City of Vancouver, Music BC and Radio Starmaker Fund.

Juno Awards 2009 Performers

Source: www.ctv.ca

Bryan Adams

2009 JUNO Award nominee for Artist of the Year, Bryan Adams, is one of the world's most highly acclaimed musicians whose career has spanned more than three decades. Constantly in demand, the celebrated rocker is on the road over 150 days a year to sold out audiences on six continents. He continues to push those boundaries, becoming the first westerner to play in both Pakistan and Vietnam.

Great Big Sea

Hailing from Newfoundland and Labrador, Great Big Sea has traversed the globe, all the while wearing their hometown on their sleeves. The band released their debut album Up in 1995, and their relentless touring and raucous live shows quickly propelled the record to platinum. Their next effort Play enjoyed even bigger success and the band moved their show into hockey stadiums across the nation.

Hawksley Workman

Hawksley Workman is a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist who paves his own path. Brilliantly original and always spontaneous, his creative talent is boundless having released not one but two albums in 2008.

Kathleen Edwards

Ottawa native and four-time JUNO Award nominated songstress Kathleen Edwards has had career experiences enviable by many. Two years after her 2003 debut album Failer was released, she has since opened for Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, John Mayer and fellow Canadian Bryan Adams, in addition to having performed at Farm Aid, the Grand Ole Opry and the Late Show with David Letterman.


Eccodek is the brainchild of Canadian producer, remixer and multi-instrumentalist, Andrew McPherson. But more than that, it is the tapestry of sound created when a visionary producer, inspired singers and gifted multi-instrumentalists from the four corners of the globe find a common love for dub, funk, jazz and cinematic electronics. 2003 saw the beginning of their story with the release of More Africa in Us, followed by the success of 2005's Voices Have Eyes, which went to #1 on the Canadian campus charts and lead to increased touring and worldwide distribution.

Divine Brown

Nominated for two 2009 JUNO Awards, Divine Brown is set to light up the stage on this year's JUNO Awards show. Fresh off a Canadian tour, the Canadian rhythm and blues singer is being recognized this year for her album The Love Chronicles, with nods for Single of the Year "Lay It On The Line" and R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.

Sam Roberts

Four-time JUNO Award winner Sam Roberts has been nominated for four more JUNO Awards this year to celebrate his most recent album, Love at the End of the World. This album was named the top selling album in Canada upon its release in May 2008. Sam Roberts is looking to lock down a win for Artist of the Year, Rock Album of the Year and Video of the Year (2 nominations) (sponsored by VideoFACT). The band is currently on a North American tour, with multiple dates sold out in both Canada and the United States.

Serena Ryder

Also rocking out at the awards this year is 2008 JUNO Awards' New Artist of the Year (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters) recipient Serena Ryder. Nominated for two more JUNO Awards this year for Artist of the Year and Adult Alternative Album of the Year (sponsored by Galaxie, Rising Stars Program of the CBC), Ryder has been winning over audiences since her debut in 1999.

Crystal Shawanda

Crystal Shawanda is a first-time JUNO Award nominee this year, hoping to bring home the win for New Artist of the Year (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters) and Country Album of the Year. Releasing her first album in June 2008, Dawn of a New Day soared to #2 on the Canadian Country Albums chart and reached the #16 spot on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Shawanda cleaned up at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, taking home five awards, and then moved on to claim three more awards at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards in 2008.

The Stills

The Stills are nominated for two JUNO Awards this year, New Group of the Year (sponsored by FACTOR and Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters) and Alternative Album of the Year for Oceans Will Rise. Hailing from Montréal, The Stills will complete an Australian tour before arriving in Vancouver to perform on The 2009 JUNO Awards show. The band will continue to tour western Canada following The JUNO Awards and are slated to play on the main stage at Edgefest this coming June. This past summer the band opened for Paul McCartney in Québec City to a crowd of over 270,000 people, gathered to celebrate the city's 400th anniversary.

Sarah McLachlan

Since signing with Nettwerk Records in 1988, Sarah McLachlan has sold more than 30 million records worldwide. Her debut album, Touch, was followed by a string of monumental albums including Solace (1991, gold), Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1994, 3X platinum), Surfacing (1997, diamond), Mirrorball (1999, 4X platinum) and Afterglow (2003, 5X platinum). McLachlan is a multiple JUNO Award winner and has received multiple Grammy Awards.

City and Colour

Until a couple of years ago, Dallas Green was better known as the dulcet voice of the platinum-selling band, Alexisonfire. In 2005, he quietly debuted his full-length album Sometimes under the solo moniker, City and Colour, and undertook a cross-Canada tour resulting in long line-ups for sold-out shows. Exceeding everyone's expectations, Sometimes achieved platinum certification in 2006. City and Colour won the People's Choice Favourite Canadian Artist award, and in the following year took home The 2007 JUNO Award for Alternative Album of The Year.


Nickelback's All The Right Reasons (2005, 6X platinum) is one of the most successful albums of the century, and stoked great expectations for the quartet's sixth album, Dark Horse (2008, currently 3X platinum), which debuted at #1 on the Canadian SoundScan Top 200 Sales Chart. Its lead single, "Gotta Be Somebody" went to #1 at radio and reached #1 overall on the Canadian iTunes store.  The nine-time JUNO Award winners have sold 27 million albums worldwide and since the 2001 breakthrough of "How You Remind Me," have sent 18 singles rocketing up the charts.

Simple Plan

On the strength of hits such as "When I'm Gone," "Your Love Is A Lie" and "Save You," Simple Plan's self-titled third album became their third consecutively to be certified platinum in Canada. The release of the album was followed by a sold-out global tour by the Montréal-based band whose worldwide sales have now topped 7 million.  As a testament to the band's popularity, they have been voted Favourite Canadian Band an unprecedented five times by the viewers of MuchMusic at the MuchMusic Video Awards and received the JUNO Fan Choice Award in 2006.  

Juno Awards 2009 Nominees

Source: www.ctv.ca

Complete list of 2009 JUNO Awards Nominees:


Céline Dion Sony
Feist Arts & Crafts*EMI
Hedley Universal
Nickelback EMI
The Lost Fingers Tandem*Select/Sony


Taking Chances Céline Dion Sony
Lay It On The Line Divine Brown WEA*Warner
Dangerous Kardinal Offishall Kon Live*Universal
Lost Michael Bublé Reprise*Warner
Gotta Be Somebody Nickelback EMI


Black Ice AC/DC Columbia*Sony
Viva La Vida Coldplay Capitol*EMI
Chinese Democracy Guns N' Roses Geffen*Universal
Sleep Through The Static Jack Johnson Brushfire*Universal
Death Magnetic Metallica Warner Bros.*Warner


Famous Last Words Hedley Universal
Dark Horse Nickelback EMI
Simple Plan Simple Plan Atlantic*Warner
70's Volume 2 Sylvain Cossette Vega*DEP/Universal
Lost In The 80's The Lost Fingers Tandem*Select/Sony


Bryan Adams Polydor*Universal
City and Colour Dine Alone*Universal
k.d. lang Nonesuch*Warner
Sam Roberts Universal
Serena Ryder EMI


Great Big Sea WEA*Warner
Nickelback EMI
Simple Plan Atlantic*Warner
The Trews Bumstead*Universal
Tokyo Police Club Mean Beard*Universal


Crystal Shawanda Sony
Jessie Farrell 604*Universal
Kreesha Turner EMI
Lights Underground Operations*Universal
Nikki Yanofsky A440*Universal


Beast Pheromone/Vega*Universal
Cancer Bats Distort*Universal
Crystal Castles Last Gang*Universal
Plants and Animals Secret City*Fusion III
The Stills Arts & Crafts*EMI


Alanis Morissette
"Underneath" | "Not As We" | "In Praise Of The Vulnerable Man"
FLAVORS OF ENTANGLEMENT - Alanis Morissette Maverick*Warner
Dallas Green
"Waiting..." | "Sleeping Sickness" | "The Girl"
BRING ME YOUR LOVE - City and Colour Dine Alone*Universal
Gordie Sampson
"When I Said I Would"- Whitney Duncan/John Shanks
WHEN I SAID I WOULD - Whitney Duncan Warner Bros.*Warner
"Just A Dream" - Hillary Lindsey/Steve McEwan
CARNIVAL RIDE - Carrie Underwood 19*Sony
"Davey Jones" - Michael Logan
FOR THE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN - Gordie Sampson MapleMusic*Universal
"Old School" | "For The Nights I Can't Remember" - Greig Nori & Dave Genn
"Never Too Late" - Greig Nori
FAMOUS LAST WORDS - Hedley Universal
Nathan Ferraro
"Never Again" | "Change For You"
"Unaware" - Gavin Brown
HOLES - The Midway State Remedy*EMI


Thankful Aaron Pritchett 604*Universal
Dawn Of A New Day Crystal Shawanda Sony
Beautiful Life Doc Walker Open Road*Universal
What I Do George Canyon Reiny Dawg*Universal
Chasing The Sun Tara Oram Open Road*Universal


Between The Beautifuls Hawksley Workman Universal
Asking For Flowers Kathleen Edwards MapleMusic*Universal
Exit Strategy Of The Soul Ron Sexsmith Ronboy Rhymes*Warner
The Baroness Sarah Slean WEA*Warner
is it o.k Serena Ryder EMI


In The Future Black Mountain Jagjaguwar*Scratch
Soft Airplane Chad VanGaalen Flemish Eye*Outside
The Chemistry Of Common Life Fucked Up Matador/Beggars Group*Select
Parc Avenue Plants and Animals Secret City*EMI
Oceans Will Rise The Stills Arts & Crafts*EMI


Flavors of Entanglement Alanis Morissette Maverick*Warner
No Sleep At All Creature Bonsound*Universal
Wake Up And Say Goodbye David Usher MapleMusic*Universal
Passion Kreesha Turner EMI
Holes The Midway State Remedy*EMI


Terminal Romance Matt Mays & El Torpedo Sonic*Warner
Fortress Protest The Hero Underground Operations*Universal
Love At The End Of The World Sam Roberts Universal
Parallel Play Sloan murderecords*Sony
No Time For Later The Trews Bumstead*Universal


If the Moon Turns Green... Diana Panton Independent
Parkdale Elizabeth Shepherd Do Right! Music*Outside
Lucky Molly Johnson A440*Universal
Ella...Of Thee I Swing Nikki Yanofsky A440*Universal
Ima Yvette Tollar Rolvermaryem*Outside


Existential Detective Barry Romberg's Random Access Large Ensemble Romhog*Outside
Rasstones François Bourassa Quartet Effendi*Fusion III
Embracing Voices Jane Bunnett EMI
The Sicilian Jazz Project Michael Occhipinti True North*Universal
A Bend In The River Roberto Occhipinti Alma*Universal


Small Wonder Brad Turner Quartet Maximum*EMI
Solo Chris Donnelly Alma*Universal
For Kenny Wheeler Don Thompson Quartet Sackville Records
TV Trio John Stetch Brux Records
Second Time Around Oliver Jones Justin Time*Fusion III


Nostomania DJ Brace presents The Electric Nosehair Orchestra Balanced Records
The Soundtrack The Creaking Tree String Quartet Independent*Outside
The Furniture Moves Underneath Inhabitants Drip Audio*Fontana North
Telescope Steve Dawson Black Hen*Fontana North
Auk/Blood Tanya Tagaq Jericho Beach*Outside


Tous les sens Ariane Moffatt Audiogram*Select
L'arbre aux parfums Caracol Indica*Outside
Coeur de pirate Coeur de pirate Dare To Care*Select
Le volume du vent Karkwa Audiogram*Select
Tradarnac Swing LAFAB*Select


Snacktime! Barenaked Ladies Desperation*Warner
FiddleFire! Chris McKhool Independent*Outside
Oui! Gregg LeRock Grafton Music
Catchy Tune Jack Grunsky Casablanca Kids*EMI
The Kerplunks The Kerplunks Independent


Schumann: Sonata in F# Minor & Humoreske Angela Hewitt Hyperion*SRI
Haydn: Six Sonatas for Piano Anton Kuerti Analekta*Select
Shostakovich: 24 Preludes & Fugues opus 87 David Jalbert ATMA*Naxos
Homage James Ehnes ONYX*SRI
Schubert: Complete Piano Trios The Gryphon Trio Analekta*Select


Bruckner: Symphonie Nº 9 Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal/Yannick Nézet- Séguin ATMA*Naxos
Beethoven: Ideals Of The French Revolution Orchestre symphonique de Montréal/Kent Nagano Analekta*Select
Bach: Métamorphoses Orchestre symphonique de Québec/Yoav Talmi ATMA*Naxos
Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8 Tafelmusik Orchestra/Bruno Weil Analekta*Select
Haydn: Symphonies 62, 107 & 108 Toronto Chamber Orchestra/Kevin Mallon Naxos


The Voice of Bach Daniel Taylor Sony
Gloria! Vivaldi's Angels Ensemble Caprice Analekta*Select
Schumann: Dichterliebe & other Heine Settings Gerald Finley Hyperion*SRI
Handel: Arias Karina Gauvin ATMA*Naxos
Bach and the Liturgical Year Shannon Mercer/Luc Beauséjour Analekta*Select


Manhattan Music Bramwell Tovey MANHATTAN MUSIC Opening Day*Universal
Flanders Fields Reflections John Burge FLANDERS FIELDS REFLECTIONS Marquis*EMI
Song of Songs Sid Robinovitch SEFARÁD Marquis*EMI
From The Dark Reaches T. Patrick Carrabré FIREBRAND Centrediscs*Fusion III
Notes Towards A Poem That Can Never Be Written Timothy Corlis NOTES TOWARDS Chestnut Hall Music 


A Captured Moment In Time DL Incognito URBNET*Fontana North
The Book D-Sisive URBNET*Fontana North
I Rap Now Famous HHC*KOCH
Not 4 Sale Kardinal Offishall Kon Live*Universal
Point Blank Point Blank TiltRock*KOCH


Everything's Gonna Be Alright James Doman Heaven*EMI
Get Blahsted Hatiras & MC Flipside Hatrax*IODA
Move For Me Deadmau5 vs. Kaskade Ultra*EMI
Random Album Title Deadmau5 Ultra*EMI
Yes We Can House Music United SPG*DEP/Universal


The Love Chronicles Divine Brown WEA*Warner
The Promise Deborah Cox Deco*KOCH
Elise Estrada Elise Estrada Rockstar Music*KOCH
TONY Ivana Santilli Do Right! Music*Outside
Money Zaki Ibrahim Sony


Jah Lift Me Up Blessed Hard Drive Productions
Renegade Rocker Dubmatix 7 Arts*Fusion III
Everything Humble Palm of Gold Records
The Peacemaker's Chauffeur Jason Wilson Wheel Records*Nuff Ent.
Truth Will Reveal Souljah Fyah One Girl Records*Love Empire Ent.


First Law Of The Land Billy Joe Green Americuse Empire/Strongfront*Indiepool
Running For The Drum Buffy Sainte-Marie Gypsy Boy*EMI
Auk/Blood Tanya Tagaq Jericho Beach*Outside
The World (And Everything In It) Team Rezofficial Arbor*EMI
No Lies Tracy Bone Arbor*EMI


Tinderbox Fred Eaglesmith Lonesomeday*Outside
Ghost Notes Matthew Barber Outside
The Contradictor Ndidi Onukwulu Jericho Beach*Outside
Proof Of Love Old Man Luedecke Black Hen*Fontana North
Happy Here Suzie Vinnick Independent*Outside


Chic Gamine Chic Gamine Independent
Fast Paced World The Duhks Sugar Hill*EMI
Mountain Meadows Elliott BROOD Six Shooter*Warner
XOK NQ Arbuckle Six Shooter*Warner
Highway Prayer Twilight Hotel Independent*Outside


Get Way Back - A Tribute To Percy Mayfield Amos Garrett Stony Plain*Warner
Acoustic Blues - Got 'Em From The Bottom Big Dave McLean Stony Plain*Warner
Love & Sound Garrett Mason Soul In Sound
Mess Of Blues Jeff Healey Stony Plain*Warner
Ramblin' Son Julian Fauth Electro-Fi*Outside


Colors And Sounds Article One Inpop*EMI/CMG
Ending Is Beginning Downhere Centricity*David C. Cook
Roar Of Heaven Life Support Downloaded Records
Salvation Station newworldson Inpop*EMI/CMG
I Will Go Starfield Sparrow*EMI/CMG


Shivaboom Eccodek White Swan*Outside
The Art Of The Early Egyptian Qanun George Dimitri Sawa Independent
Africa To Appalachia Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko Independent*Outside
Contrabanda Lubo & Kaba Horo Crosscurrent*Fusion III
Cairo to Toronto Maryem & Ernie Tollar Independent*Outside


David Foster "A Change Is Gonna Come" - SOUL - Seal Warner Bros. | "Silent Night" - NOEL Josh Groban 143/Reprise*Warner
Daniel Lanois "Here Is What Is" | "Not Fighting Anymore" HERE IS WHAT IS - Daniel Lanois Red Floor* Fontana North
k.d. lang "I Dream Of Spring" | "Coming Home" WATERSHED - k.d. lang Nonesuch*Warner
Nickelback & Joey Moi (co-producer Mutt Lange) "Gotta Be Somebody | "Something In Your Mouth" DARK HORSE - Nickelback EMI
Stuart Brawley "Don't Stop Now" | "Falling" INSIDE OUT - Emmy Rossum Geffen*Universal


Joey Moi "Gotta Be Somebody" | "Never Gonna Be Alone" DARK HORSE - Nickelback EMI
John "Beetle" Bailey "Lucky" | "If I Were A Bell" LUCKY - Molly Johnson A440*Universal
Kevin Churko "Disappearing" | "The Big Bang" U-CATASTROPHE - Simon Collins Razor & Tie*Sony
Mike Fraser "Rock N' Roll Train" BLACK ICE - AC/DC Columbia*Sony | "Them Kids" LOVE AT THE END OF THE WORLD - Sam Roberts Universal
Randy Staub "Something In Your Mouth" DARK HORSE - Nickelback EMI


Anouk Pennel (Director/Designer); Stéphane Poirier (Illustrator)
En concert dans la forêt des mal-aimés avec l'Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal PIERRE LAPOINTE Independent*Select
Phoebe Greenberg (Director); George Fok (Designer), Daniel Fortin (Illustrator) Leda & St. Jacques, Productions l'Éloi (Photographer)
Pulse Of The Planet SLIM WILLIAMS Phi*DEP
John Cook (Director); Kelly Ferguson (Designer); John James Audubon (Illustrator); Koko Bonaparte (Photographer)
Sugarbird PAUL REDDICK Northern Blues* Outside
Mark Sasso (Director/Designer); Casey Laforet (Designer)
Mountain Meadows ELLIOTT BROOD Six Shooter*Warner
Dallas Wehrle (Director); Robyn Kotyk (Director/Designer); Alex vs. Alex (Photographer)
Kensington Heights CONSTANTINES Arts & Crafts*EMI


Honey Honey Anthony Seck FEIST Arts & Crafts*EMI
Going On Wendy Morgan GNARLES BARKLEY Downtown*Warner
Blond Kryptonite Davin Black SAINT ALVIA Stomp*Warner
Detroit '67 Duplex (Dave Pawsey & Jonathan Legris) SAM ROBERTS Universal
Them Kids Duplex (Dave Pawsey & Jonathan Legris) SAM ROBERTS Universal


Blue Road Christopher Mills, Geoff McLean BLUE RODEO WEA*Warner
A MultiMedia Life Joan Prowse Gilles Paquin BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE Gypsy Boy*EMI
Live In Las Vegas - A New Day Jean Lamoureux Julie Snyder CÉLINE DION Columbia*Sony
Here Is What Is Adam Vollick, Adam Samuels DANIEL LANOIS Red Floor*Fontana North
It All Started With A Red Stripe Alex Liu, Greg Benedetto, Kenny Bridges, George Stroumboulopoulos MONEEN Dine Alone*Universal

Loved The Wire? Then Walk The Line

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

(March 16, 2009)
The Line is Canadian cable's answer to the HBO cult hit The Wire.

Normally, this sort of comparison tends to be derogatory or dismissive. It is, in this case, quite the opposite: The Line is in every best possible sense a very Canadian take on similar settings, story elements, characters and themes.

The 15-part crime drama – an eight-episode "second season" was ordered up even while the first was still shooting – debuts tonight on The Movie Network at 10.

The Line, like The Wire, is a gritty, graphic, character-driven depiction of a street-level drug war, seen from both sides of the street, the cops and the criminals, intersecting and inextricable, and similarly conflicted and complex.

There is not a single aspect of the series that is anything short of addictively compelling, from its strip-mall Scarborough locations to its charismatic casting.

Toronto has never looked seedier, filmed with an evocative kinetic energy that only enhances the impact.

Set and shot largely in the bleak, prison-yard desolation of disintegrating public housing blocks, there is an immediate unspoken understanding of how environment alone engenders such hopelessness and desperation.

Which would mean nothing dramatically were we not immediately invested in the characters, vividly depicted in varying shades of grey – good and evil, fallibility and resolve – by a uniformly excellent ensemble.

There are two male duos at the heart of the tale. On one side: the contentious detectives, grizzled disillusioned veteran Ron White and a drunken, hooker-happy Daniel Kash.

On the other: the seething, stone-cold drug lord chillingly depicted by former rapper
(Maestro Fresh) Wes Williams and his reluctant lieutenant, a mass of tortured, conflicting emotion indelibly embodied by Clé Bennett.

But mostly unlike The Wire, the women in The Line are equally if not more significant to the story, from U.S. import Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue) as a compromised prosecutor, to Sarah Manninen as Bennett's increasingly frantic ex.

Other stellar American actors, clearly intended to boost international appeal, appear in future episodes – I've gotten as far as the promising introduction of Linda Hamilton (the real Sarah Connor), and look forward to the arrival of craggy veteran Ed Asner.

Also unlike The Wire, The Line is less concerned with the pursuit of justice than it is how unjust that process can be, and its effect on those on either side of that "line" and the innocents who find themselves trapped in between.

The script itself also sets it apart, being far more Mamet than Bochco or Wolf, its stark realism offset by tension-breaking dark humour – in other words, exactly what one would expect from the celebrated pen (keyboard) of playwright/screenwriter George F. Walker and his partner Dani Romain (This is Wonderland).

There will likely be another key difference between The Line and its illustrious American predecessor. Given how enthusiastically TMN is promoting it, The Line may well escape The Wire's fate as "the best TV show you never saw."

I must add, in the interest of full disclosure, that director Gail Harvey, who helmed most of the episodes, is my next-door neighbour. It is therefore a (not unexpected) relief that The Line is in fact as good as it is.

Things don't always work out that way.

APRIL FOOL Apparently Carlawood, a "reality" chronicle of comedian-turned-actor Carla Collins' misadventures in L.A., has just been bumped from an April 1 debut date on E! to April 19 on the somewhat less prestigious rerun channel, TVtropolis.

I'm guessing that someone finally got around to actually watching the pilot.

Whoa, Nelly! She's Launching Her Own Music Company

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(March 16, 2009) Toronto — She's like a record mogul. Nelly Furtado, Canadian pop star of Portuguese ancestry and one Grammy triumph, has launched her own music company, Nelstar Music. The company has teamed up with Last Gang Labels (the distribution arm of Toronto-based Last Gang Records), and plans to makes its splash with the July 7th release of Greatest Hits, the ironically titled debut album by the fashion-concerned, Toronto electro-pop quartet Fritz Helder & the Phantoms.

"I've been thinking about a way to help Fritz Helder for a while and this venture grew out of my love for the band, their art and their work ethic," said Furtado, in a released statement. "I am as committed as they are to bringing their creativity to the world."

Furtado's own last album,

the sexed-up, Timbaland-produced Loose, was released back in 2006.

More recently the bird-like singer has kept her profile up by sharing microphones on duets with country-rock superstar Keith Urban (on last year's remix of In God's Hands) and British soul-pop crooner James Morrison (Broken Strings). A recent blog entry from Furtado revealed that she's currently recording two "exciting" new albums, one in Spanish and one in Portuguese.

Yes, Toronto's Indie Music Scene Is As Strong As Ever

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

(March 12, 2009) Since the turn of the millennium, the Toronto music scene has arguably enjoyed its healthiest run ever.

International accolades and steady record sales for such homegrown acts as Broken Social Scene, Feist, Metric, Stars, Peaches and Tokyo Police Club helped bring worldwide attention to bear upon the city's thriving indie community, local labels like Arts & Crafts, Paper Bag, Six Shooter and Last Gang and Canadian-made tunes in general.

That attention hasn't gone away: the past few years have seen Toronto and Montreal accorded the same sort of faithful transatlantic press, blog and fan scrutiny once reserved for more established music-export centres like New York and London. Ears already acquainted with the sounds of our city now prick up at the mere mention of the name Toronto, and that's a very cool thing indeed.

The exterior hype has cooled, however, and news of another hometown act finding favour on the global stage no longer seems as "newsy" as it once did.

Lest a slightly blasé media might lead the casual observer to deduce that things aren't quite as exciting here today as they were a couple of years ago, then, we've perused this year's Canadian Music Week schedule, continuing to Saturday, for a half-dozen names likely to keep Toronto on the lips of discerning music fans at home and abroad during the months ahead.

Trust us when we say the following list is woefully incomplete.

Already a known quantity in "informed" circles, Gentleman Reg was running with the Constantines, Royal City and Jim Guthrie back when the Guelph-born Three Gut roster first began unwittingly sowing the seeds of the nation's current indie boom.

The heavy-metal warhorse has stuck it out with such superhuman commitment to the rock `n' roll dream for the past 30 years that former Anvil roadie-turned-screenwriter Sacha Gervasi really had no choice but to turn the band's struggle into a documentary.

Former Tangiers frontman Josh Reichmann ditches his wigged-out Jewish Legend alter ego for further self-reinvention as a glam-struck psychedelic-soul maestro.

D'Urbervilles have  hardened from 905 addresses and  modest ambitions of sharing a stage with Cuff the Duke into a taut, electro-gilded dance-punk machine hailing from an imagined retro-future where Joy Division, Devo and Talking Heads lock arms and pogo.

Born of a chance meeting at a show a couple of years ago between Jessica Tollefsen and Ferenc "Fez" Stenton, Green Go has developed into a monster party band, a riot of synth-driven noise, co-ed calls to arms and fleet-footed post-punk rhythms.

The Abrams Brothers – John, 18, James, 15, and cousin Elijah, 18 – have been blowing away audiences across North America, Europe and Israel for the past several years with their virtuoso playing and effortless harmonies.

Canadian Music Week : Our Critics' Picks

www.globeandmail.com - Robert Everett-Green , Brad Wheeler And Carl Wilson

(March 11, 2009)  At Canadian Music Week, there are films, conferences, award ceremonies and glamour concerts (including British art-rockers Bloc Party, Friday and Saturday at Toronto's Kool Haus). But the M of CMW stands for music, and the bulk of that happens at 45 downtown Toronto venues housing some 500 bands. With those considerable numbers in mind, music writers Robert Everett-Green, Brad Wheeler and Carl Wilson offer club-crawl highlights.


These Montrealers deservedly made the shortlist for the first Polaris Prize. Labyrinthes, their latest album of visionary rock, dives deep into the dark reservoir of Quebec's long and sometimes lurid affair with Catholicism. It's cultural archaeology you can dance to. Today, midnight, El Mocambo. R.E-G.

Naughty by Nature

This New Jersey trio – Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee – scored one of the highest-charting hip-hop singles to that date with 1991's O.P.P., which charmingly twisted the Jackson 5's ABC into a praise song to sexual infidelity. They've been reunited for a few years, and stop in to give a refresher in golden-age rap. Today, midnight, Circa Main Room. C.W.

Chad VanGaalen

The Calgarian's waking dreams about mysterious invasions and the death of memory have the strange resonance of all true pictures of things we live with but usually fail to notice. His live shows tend to be intense, personal encounters with a man who usually brings off at least one transcendent cover not heard on his albums. Today, 12:10 a.m., Horseshoe Tavern. R.E-G.

Rae Spoon

“Everyone is lining up/for a brand-new pickup truck,” may be a typical start for a country song, but the next line, “I need a ghost ship,” intimates that this is an atypical country singer. Noticed in his first few years of touring out of Calgary mainly for being a transgendered banjo picker, Spoon leapt ahead last year with his aural road movie of an album, Superioryouareinferior, which perched sonic sculpture on its songs' folkie bases and managed equally precarious feats of emotional (im)balance. Today, 1 a.m. Clinton's. C.W.


A creamy singer of retro-pop ballads which are often as fun and catchy as they are luscious, the Toronto artist celebrates the rerelease of her It Was Never Just a Dream disc. Today, 9 p.m, Glenn Gould Studio. Tomorrow, 9 p.m. C'est What. B.W.

Burton Cummings

The wild roll to Randy Bachman's straighter rock, the former Guess Who guy survives improbably and, judging by his thoughtful and rambunctious Above the Ground album, gratefully. A tour last summer with Bachman showed the piano pounder to be of spry mood and fine throat, and there's no reason he won't be in the same place now. Tomorrow, 9:20 p.m. Mod Club. B.W.

Handsome Furs

Husband and wife, trouble and strife. There's something dark and painful going on in the music of Montreal's Handsome Furs, though Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry are a perfect match when it comes to making memorable songs that put a jagged electronic edge on templates from the blues and vintage R&B. Tomorrow, 12:10 a.m., Horseshoe Tavern. R.E-G.

Six Shooter Records Showcase

A slinkier venue would work better for the lady songsters, but the charm-challenged Reverb is made lovelier and possibly riskier (if you're lucky) by the curious accordionist Wendy McNeill, the kinda' dangerous Amelia Curran, the popular and red-headed Jenn Grant, and Melissa McClelland, who celebrates Victoria Day (her bluesy and dreamy forthcoming album) early. Saturday, 9 p.m., Reverb. B.W.

Herman Dune

Often linked to the sulkily tuneful folk pop that's issued from Sweden in the past half-decade (Peter Bjorn & John, Jens Lekman), this duo actually hails from Paris, and you can hear the yé-yé in their tunes swinging to get out. While recalling Jonathan Richman's man-boy bop, Herman Dune has a more cosmopolitan accent (lately courtesy of polka-mariachi brass borrowed from U.S. band Beirut) and keeps a closer watch on the line between wilfully naive and wincingly winsome. Saturday, 9:45 p.m., Lee's Palace. C.W.

Arthur Baker

The onetime producer of Afrika Bambaataa and New Order, not to mention Al Green and Sun City – one of the originators of the dance remix – takes a turn on turntables at Toronto's art-funhouse disco. Saturday, 11 p.m. Circa Sky Cinema Room. C.W.

Elliott Brood You thought you'd get away with it, but the shovel told the story, and now you can relive the whole desperate episode in a song or two from Toronto's best purveyors of murder ballads and devil dances. Saturday, 11:45 p.m., Lee's Palace. R.E-G.

CMW continues to Saturday. Tickets to individual shows vary in price; nightly ($35) and festival-long ($50) wristbands are available. Information and full schedule at canadianmusicfest.com.


Hawaiian Slack-Key Guitar And Ukulele Players Lead A Local Music Revival

Source: www.thestar.com - Jim Byers,
Travel Editor

(March 12, 2009)  NAPILI, Hawaii–It's Wednesday night at the regular slack-key guitar concerts at Maui's Napili Kai Beach Resort and George Kahumoku Jr. is in fine form.

He's wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt and has a graceful ring of flowers around his neck as he gets ready to take to the stage to demonstrate one of Hawaii's most popular music styles. Historians can't seem to agree if he's right, but you can't help but want to agree with Kahumoku's version of how the slack-key guitar came to be.

"It started with (explorer) George Vancouver in the late 1700s," explains Kahumoku, a multiple Grammy Award-winner who's also raised pigs and taught school. "He gave King Kamehameha a present of some cattle and the king put a kapu (an order that they not be touched) on them, so they went wild. Unfortunately, cows eat grass and Hawaiian houses were made of grass, so pretty soon we had a housing crisis."

Here Kahumoku shines an enormous grin, the late afternoon Hawaiian sun beaming across his face.

"Anyway, we had to call in some cowboys from California to control the cattle ... and they taught us to play their guitars but they left after a couple of years and they forgot to tell us how to tune them. So we took three guitars they had brought with them and combined them into one and then we loosened the strings. That's slack-key."

It's a wonderfully versatile instrument that can sound classical, bluesy, country and Spanish and just about everything in between, which is perfect for a state where folks sometimes refer to themselves as "Heinz 57."

Hawaiian culture is based on oral traditions. There are tales of long-ago voyagers sailing lonely seas from the Marquesas or Tahiti, and music has always been important form of communication. Telling stories comes naturally, and Kahumoku is a master.

"I was 11 and working in Waikiki, washing cars for 10 cents," he tells the Napili Kai audience.

"I was playing outside a place where the stevedores would hang out and someone heard me play and asked me to come inside. I played a song for them and they went wild and threw money at me. I had $27 and 10 cents. I said to myself, "You can keep washing cars for 10 cents or get $27.10 for a three-minute song."

"So," he tells his audience, pausing for dramatic effect and strumming a lilting melody on his guitar.

"I made a decision."

Another pause.

"I decided to learn another song."

As he warms up to play one of his most lovely and recognizable songs, Wahine Ilikea, slack-key player and songwriter Dennis Kamakahi tells a romantic story about how he wrote the song after seeing the mountains of Molokai suddenly brush aside their usual cover of clouds and reveal themselves to him on a moonlit drive near the haunting Halawa Valley, much like a woman might show herself to her lover.

As he warms up to play a song about a Hawaiian cowboy, he tells listeners that the man was a legendary paniolo and cattle rustler but also was a lawyer, "which was handy because he could defend himself in court for free."

Nobody in the audience knows if it's true and nobody cares. The grizzled looking Kamakahi, dressed in black head-to-toe and sporting a stylish cowboy hat – no Hawaiian shirts for this dude – has the audience in the palm of his grizzled hands. While slack-key came from Spanish-American-Mexican cowboys, the other beloved Hawaiian instrument, the easily portable ukulele, came to the islands with Portuguese workers.

The story goes that Joao Fernandes arrived on a Hawaiian dock in 1879 and started playing and cast a spell over the natives. They say Fernandes' fingers went so fast that they looked like a jumping flea — or ukulele in Hawaiian.

Today, thanks to talented artists such as the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (his version of "Wonderful World" and "Over the Rainbow" together was a big hit), Hawaiians are returning to the ukulele and playing more native music than ever before.

Tourists snap them up for as little as $20 at the cheap drug stores that line Waikiki Beach. Or you can step into Bob's Ukulele on the ground floor of the Marriott Waikiki Beach and pay $100 for something better ... or $2,700 for a high-end version.

They're widely available in Toronto, too, often for $40 or less.

Like the slack-key guitar, the ukulele has versatility to spare. Hawaiian virtuoso Gordon Mark can't read a lick of music but composed the first-ever concerto for ukulele and has a classical-style CD with Hawaiian songs and popular show tunes. Waikiki beach surf instructor Ron Montanaro, who looks like one of the Ramones meets Iggy Pop with his long, straight, jet-black hair and the trace of a New York accent, uses his ukulele to play a version of The Doors' "Break On Through (To the Other Side)."

Old-time musician Arthur Godfrey loved the ukulele, as did bizarro 1960s singer Tiny Tim and the late George Harrison. When Paul McCartney plays "Something" on tour in Harrison's memory, he often does so on a ukulele.

"The ukulele's all the rage in Japan," said Alvin Okami, who was a snob about the instrument when he was training to be an oboe master at the University of Hawaii but now runs one of the most prestigious factories in the state, Ko'Aloha. "We're sending ukuleles to Germany, France, England, Canada."

"I think it's the beauty and the simplicity of its sound. It has only four strings, but just with those you can make complex chords. And it's a non-threatening instrument.

"I think it's surpassed Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head" in terms of visibility as a Hawaiian icon, he gushes. "Although it's originally from Portugal, we've made it our own. And it's a gas."

For more information, visit www.slackkey.com, www.napilikai.com, or call 1-808-669-6271.

Excerpts from George Kahumoku’s autobiography, “A Hawaiian Life.”

The first one talks about staying in a swanky hotel on Maui and catching some big fish nearby while the second is about his near-drowning as a child.

“I suppose we should have cleaned our catch by the ocean but we knew that the tourists were used to watching the fish when they snorkelled. We didn’t think they would like to see us gutting and cleaning fish they thought of as pets or part of the scenery, not food. We really didn’t have a proper place to clean all the fish, so we cleaned them in our (hotel) bath tub.

Big Mistake #3. It took quite a while to clean them all, and by the time we were done the drain in our bath tub wasn’t working too well. We found out later that the drains for a good part of the hotel were all plugged with fish guts. It was pretty horrible.

So now we had a bathtub full of fish. We sliced them in half down the middle, and we salted them down. We strung lines all throughout our hotel room. We got clothes pins and hung the fish up on lines to dry.

Big Mistake #4. We weren’t really aware of the odours building up in the room. By this time, not just the room, but the whole damn hall smelled like fish. While the fish were drying, we lit off our fire. We took the wire shelf from the mini-bar refrigerator and laid it across the rocks for a barbeque grill. We had to wait for the fire to burn down to get some good coals for cooking.

We were still pretty sandy from the fishing expedition, and the tub was full of fish guts that weren’t draining too well, so we went down to the hotel pool to take a dip and clean ourselves off. We took our time, because we knew it was going to be a while before the wood burned down enough for cooking.

On our way back to our room we noticed all this action going on in front of our hotel. There was an ambulance, police cars and a fire engine. We didn’t realize at first that there was any connection to us. To make a long story short, just for this little old campfire, the fire department had busted out their big hose to put out the fire. In fact, they hit the thing with so much water they washed the whole campfire right off the balcony and almost broke the windows, too.

At this point, the hotel’s assistant manager showed up. He can’t believe what’s going on. The whole hotel smells like fish, there’s fire hoses and water and the hotel drains are all plugged up. I told him the story of what happened, that we were just trying to cook some fish. In the end we got kicked out of the hotel.

Big Mistake #5: we found that that the area in front of Black Rock (next to the hotel) was some kind of marine sanctuary, and if you fish there it’s a $10,000 fine.

We moved out of the hotel two days later, back to more familiar surroundings for us, the Honokohau Valley at the 36 mile (highway) marker on the north shore of Maui. Sometimes it’s hard for the native Hawaiian to live in the regular world.”

“My mom was 19. On Saturdays she worked as a car hop at the Capitol Drive-in in Kaimuki, and my dad had to babysit me. I was only about six weeks old when he took me crab fishing for the first time, there in the (Ala Wai) canal. He put me in the bow of the boat and was rowing backwards. He would row his boat, then he’d throw his nets so you’d hear that sound - shungk - as the net hits the water and goes down.

He was going along and heard another - shungk - like a net being thrown, but he hadn’t thrown anything. He thought to himself, ‘Oh, must have been a fish jumping.” He kept on rowing for a while and then looked around and realized the baby was not there. He went into a panic, thinking his son had drowned. And then he went into double panic because if he goes home without that baby, he’s in big, big trouble with my mom.

He dived into the water looking for his son, but it was so muddy he couldn’t see a thing. He searched around for five minutes and could not find the baby. Ten, fifteen minutes went by and he still couldn’t find it. Finally, he felt something with his legs and pulled it out of the water. It was the baby, but it had turned completely blue. It was not breathing and he couldn’t even get a heartbeat out of it. So it was with fear and sorrow in his heart that he rushed home bringing this limp, blue baby.

He brought the baby to my tutu, my mother’s mother, Emily Lihue Ho’opale Dulay. She was a healer. If you had huli stomach, she would massage your stomach with olive oil for maybe a couple of hours and you’d feel much better. She knew a lot about herbs and other things, too.

When my Dad brought the baby into the house, she looked at the lifeless body and made a decision: it’s not yet time for this baby, he still has a life to live. She knew that the baby’s life force had to return so he could fulfill his destiny. And right then and there she gathered together my whole family - aunts, uncles, everybody she could find. They formed a circle placing their hands on the baby.

They started praying on this baby in Hawaiian and my tutu started blowing her breath, her ha, all over the baby, blowing and blowing. This was the way it was done then. In old times, Hawaiians didn’t kiss. They would hug and rub noses and breather each others’ breath, the ha. It is the breath of love and life.

Finally, the baby came alive and that’s me. So at six weeks old, I died, and came back to life. Hawaiians have a word, kukulu kumuhana, which means you call on all the powers to be just with you. It’s sort of like a laying on of hands, total faith. My tutu believe I had a life. And a life force entered my body and I was able to live again.”


Bif's Naked Truth

www.globeandmail.com - Fiona Morrow

(March 13, 2009)  VANCOUVER — ‘If you're going to get cancer, and you're a girl, go for the tit.”

Bif Naked has a lot to say – no surprise there. And who would expect Vancouver's loud-mouthed, heavily tattooed, punk-rock chick to deliver a subdued survivor script in the same vernacular as Sheryl Crow, say, or Kylie Minogue?

A bone fide riot grrl, Naked's tough but sexy persona and provocative lyrics – she's written about being raped and having an abortion – not to mention her in-your-face bisexual lifestyle, has located her on the Canadian music fringe since her 1995 eponymous debut album. And her background – born in India, adopted by missionaries – provided just the kind of colour the press eats up.

“So, am I the new token Tit Girl?” she asks as we sit down to discuss her new album, about one year after her diagnosis with Stage 2 breast cancer. The challenge in her tone is impossible to ignore.

She has a new album – The Promise – coming out May 5 and she's back doing a bit of press, the first since she announced she had breast cancer a little over a year ago. It's a fair enough question: There is no expectation on either side of the tape recorder that we'll be spending the whole time talking about her music.

There is, of course, her trademark bravado throughout the conversation. She trots out self-deprecating jokes about her appearance, shares the fact that it's a good thing her husband is an ass man and describes crazy photo collages of the “most heinous” self-portraits she sent to a good friend as her hair fell out and her skin changed colour.

It's a good show, but it feels familiar – a well-practised shtick designed to make us both more comfortable.

And it doesn't quite jibe with the woman in front of me, skinny and shivering in a yellow T-shirt and white cowboy boots. It's an unexpectedly snowy day in Vancouver, and Naked can't get the heat high enough in the townhouse that's doubling as her management's offices and studio. She looks cute in her pixie cut – although she'd probably hate to hear it. There are a couple of subtle signs of lingering sickness – a slight puffiness along the right side of her jaw line and the unnatural sheen of heavily applied makeup.

She wraps a thin cotton shawl around herself and I notice Band-Aids wrapped around her fingertips. Are they from too much guitar playing?

“No,” she sighs. “The Docetaxel in the chemotherapy melted my fingernails off.”

And with that, the small talk is over.

The 37-year-old singer was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in late 2007, just six weeks after returning from her honeymoon with new husband, Vancouver sportswriter Ian Walker. She had found a lump during her first ever self-examination and was immediately catapulted into treatment.

“As soon as I was told, I just said, ‘Okay, what do I do now? Tell me where to go and I'll be there.'”

After a lumpectomy, 17 rounds of chemotherapy infusions (six with a cocktail of three drugs; a further 11 with a single drug), radiation treatment and a staph infection, she is still not done.

“I'm having an overectomy next,” she says, matter-of-factly, before launching in to a no-holds-barred description of the procedure that will remove her ovaries and any chance of children. “They fill your abdomen full of air, in order to get the stuff in there to do it,” she explains. “They don't go up you, they go down you – which is a little surprising.”

She jokes about whether it means she'll be gassy for weeks afterwards, but admits she's just resigned to the seemingly endless process of ridding her body of disease.

Breast cancer brought with it a gruelling intensive treatment schedule at Vancouver General Hospital, including a clinical trial studying the effects of exercise during chemotherapy.

There were 16 women in the trial, and they trained together for one hour three times a week. They formed a team for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's Run for the Cure in Vancouver last October.

“I participated as Beth Walker [her real name] – and I would never have it any other way,” Naked insists. “I am fiercely protective of these women – they were a huge support for me and they didn't know what my job is. Maya's from the [expletive] Ukraine; she might be 75 years old. She's never heard of a Bif Naked and she doesn't care because we were in the trenches together and it would never be relevant. It still isn't.”

When she talks about fellow cancer patients – from the women she shared tips with on wigs, to the old guys on the chemo ward she entertained with her best Don Rickles impersonations – there isn't a scrap of showbiz about her.

She says she didn't really care when her hair fell out – she made her early morning trip to the grocery store every day as usual, just with an “old lady blond wig I bought at the Bay and three inches of spackle on my face.”

It wasn't until recently, when she realized she was going to be back in the public eye, that she started fretting. “My personal identity is the girl in the grocery store and at the dog park who won't shut up,” she explains. “When it comes to work, it's a professional identity and an image I've had for 20 years. I hate Joan Jett's short haircut.” Naked has often been likened to the U.S. rock star. “I don't want to be compared to her,” she pouts.

She went back to work last spring. Her management moved offices to be one block from her apartment building and employed the band Neurosonic's lead singer/producer Jason Darr to collaborate on the project. “I had to make a record,” she explains. “And Jason was the toughest producer I ever worked with – he never treated me like I was sick. If he didn't like my vocals – regardless of the bulls' testicles my lymph glands had become, constricting my throat – he would just tell me I was there to do it right, or go home.”

For his part, Darr says, cancer or no cancer, it had to be the best it could be: “I knew she was tough, but to show up – as sick as she was, day after day – she deserved my respect not to compromise her career.”

She recalls one day that she worked so hard, she spent the next 20 days in bed recovering. It was worth it though, because she is proud of the result – an indisputably angry record with myriad references to karma and fire. “We get what we deserve,” she spits on the first track Crash and Burn.

“That is a tough one,” she nods. “It makes me cry, I don't know how the fuck I am going to perform it live.”

She's planning to tour? Is she up to it?

“I won't know until I turn purple and fall down onstage and they won't let me do it again,” she counters. “I really won't know my capabilities until I try.”

There's a practical side to her drive to get onstage as well: She needs to start earning income again. Many cancer drugs are not publicly covered – she spent $2,600 a month for one injection during her treatment. “But a lot of people have to take the bus to chemo,” she notes, sadly. “People still have to cook and clean and look after their children. They have to work and the hospital appointments are a full-time job in themselves.”

It's been a grind, but there are upsides: She believes her sickness gave her new marriage the solid foundation it may otherwise have lacked. Before, she was a constant traveller, always on tour, and home maybe two days a month. Without the cancer, she says, “I wouldn't have had the same opportunity to get to know Ian – we saw each other at our worst.”

“It was basically just us,” she shrugs. “And I don't know how we didn't self-destruct.”

Many good friends simply vanished overnight, but she says she understands. People don't know what to say, and then they leave it too long, she says generously – or they think that breast cancer is simply about buying a pin and staying hopeful.

“I call it the fluffy pink bubble,” Naked says. “And I feel badly for anyone who doesn't want to be tied in a pretty pink bow – because it's almost expected that you'll run around with a pink-ribbon sticker on your car, or buy pink-ribbon socks at the drugstore.”

“And I didn't realize it, until I was a year in,” she notes, “but on the chemo ward, there's a real hierarchy about how much hard time you've put in. And people flip out when every experience is considered equal.”

The way celebrities present their own disease also makes a difference, she says, adding: “Christina Applegate goes around saying she's going to cut her tits off prophylactically and then get the perkiest new ones in Hollywood.” Naked frowns. “There are a lot of women who get bilateral mastectomies and don't want to get boobs back on. [Applegate is] reinforcing what society expects and wants us to do.

“People see these beautiful blond Hollywood women who never went through chemotherapy and think that is what breast cancer is – when the reality is, that most of us turn into bald, yellow frogs.

“Breast cancer puts a lot of social pressure on women,” she adds. “And you are expected to have an epiphany in the process. But you are who you are – and cancer doesn't change that.”

Raphael Saadiq : At Home Back In Motown, But Keeping It Fresh

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Brad Wheeler

Raphael Saadiq
Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on Monday

(March 17, 2009) I took a trip to the Motown Historical Museum a month ago, and again on Monday night. Except that the latter visit was not to Detroit, but to Toronto's Phoenix Concert Theatre, where an ebony and ivory crowd saw
Raphael Saadiq, the diamond-cool crooner whose hit 2008 album The Way I See It relives soul-pop's heyday era better than any black-and-white photographs could.

The way Saadiq sees it is through thick-rimmed vintage eyewear, such as the pair that worked debonairly with the skinny tie and dark suit he wore upon entrance. During the intro music, Saadiq cupped his hand around his ear, better to hear his fans. Right back at ya, Raphael.

A svelte 90-minute concert mixed romantic neo-soul from Saadiq's back catalogue with the bouncier fare of his recent smash disc. Energy lagged at some points; the band would vamp and then, unsurely, vamp a little more. “Sometimes when I get caught up in the groove,” explained the Oakland, Calif.-born artist, “I can't talk.” Later, he mentioned that he'd almost moved to Canada recently and that he would have, had “Bush won the election.” We knew what he meant.

Saadiq's backup singers, one man and one pint-sized powerhouse of a woman, wore outfits that matched the threads of their star. They also matched his snazzy choreographed movements and added the high-pitched chirps of “Keep” to the chorus of Keep Marchin', an all-purpose bit of Motown-style cheer that bounced along to a chipper tambourine beat.

For the sweet and light shuffle-beat pop of Love that Girl, Saadiq's natural high tenor drifted into falsetto range. Things started moving with 100 Yard Dash, an outrageously hip number with a catchy descending bass line. “I need your love, baby, so bad,” sang the sleek Saadiq, who played Montreal's Cabaret du Musée Juste Pour Rire last night, “but I'm runnin' scared, my heart beating so fast.”

What got pulses racing among the crowd was the singer's earlier work. Touched on were hits of Tony! Toni! Toné (his late 1980s/early 1990s combo), Lucy Pearl (something of an R&B super-group) and previous solo work (including 2002's Be Here). Clearly, the audience hadn't forgotten 1993's Anniversary and seemed to remember the words to the slow-jam It Never Rains (In Southern California).

The singer's spectacles were off early – the suspicion is that he sees just fine – and by the creamy Philly soul of Oh Girl, the jacket and tie were off, too. It's all about being comfortable, and the Sam Cooke-smooth Saadiq never seemed to sweat. A warm performance that ended with the musically upbeat Big Easy (a post-Katrina response that lyrically echoes Marvin Gaye's What's Going On) easily blended neo-soul material with newer sixties-styled tunes that manage to sound fresh. Saadiq, no retro-novelty act, lives today, and not in the house of Mr. Motown, Berry Gordy Jr.

The Sound of Miles Davis

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Kam Williams

(March 17, 2009) *50 years ago, on April 2, 1959, the
Miles Davis Quintet teamed with the Gil Evans Orchestra to perform in New York City on a TV series called The Robert Herridge Theater.

Music aficionados might be amused to learn why the legendary trumpeter's combo that day wasn't the usual sextet, namely, because alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley had cancelled due to illness.

Miles' sidemen in attendance were giants of jazz in their own right, including tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, bassist Paul Chambers, pianist Wynton Kelly and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

Filmed in black & white, the show starts with a casual introduction by Herridge standing in front of the camera with a lit cigarette in his hand. Between numbers, the chain-smoking host, a man of few words, simply shrugs that "this is music that should be "listened to and not talked about."

Sans audience, the set opens on a dimly-lit, shadowy stage with the group playing "So What" from its upcoming Kind of Blue album. What makes this rendition of the jazz standard unique is that in Cannonball's absence, Miles took a couple of extra solos, one just before and another after that of Coltrane.

Another factual footnote for trivia buffs is that in March and April of '59 Miles was recording Kind of Blue for Columbia in the label's studios located nearby on 30th St. in Manhattan. Although the lp wouldn't be released until August 17th, it would become the best-selling jazz album of all time.

The Gil Evans Orchestra is featured as accompanists here in a medley of tunes from Miles Ahead- "The Duke," "Blues for Pablo" and "New Rhumba." The musicians include trumpeters Ernie Royal, Clyde Reasinger, Louis Mucci, Johnny Coles, and Emmett Berry; trombonists Frank Rehak, Jimmy Cleveland, Bill Elton, and Rod Levitt; woodwinds Romeo Penque and Eddie Caine; bass clarinettist Danny Bank; French horn players Robert Northern and Julius Watkins; and tubaist Bill Barber.

In a personal aside, I must mention that I was pleasantly surprised to see an old friend, Bob Northern (aka Brother Ahh) in the film, since he had served as my mentor, given me my African name (Kamau) and even allowed me to play on one of his albums during my short-lived career as a jazz musician. In any case, the rare footage comprising The Sound of Miles Davis, despite its brevity, is an historical treasure unearthed and a must see for any avid fan of black classical music.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 20 minutes
Presented nationally by WLIW21 in association with WNET.ORG

To see an excerpt from The Sound of Miles Davis, visit:

For Seal A 'Change' Did Come

Source: Scott Kamins, scottkamins@gmail.com, www.linkedin.com/in/scottkamins

(March 16, 2009) *In a remarkable career that spans more than two decades,
Seal has garnered countless accolades along with three Grammy Awards and has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. 

Known for his one-of-a-kind soaring, husky baritone voice and classic songwriting, Seal has seen success across numerous genres of music. 

His emotional, romantic love songs, such as "Prayer For the Dying," the Grammy Award-winning "Kiss From A Rose," and "Don't Cry" (all from 1994's Seal II), and "Love's Divine" (from 2003's Seal IV), delighted fans and earned him critical acclaim. 

But Seal has also seen great success in the dance/pop music world beginning with his roots in Britain's house music/rave scene.  Early in his career he scored two hits with legendary producer Trevor Horn, 1990's "Killer" (with techno artist Adamski) and 1991's U.S. Top Ten single "Crazy," from his eponymous debut album - a genre-defying fusion of soul, pop, rock, R&B, and propulsive grooves that announced the arrival of an innovative new talent.

His fifth studio album in 2007, System was a nod to those roots with shimmering melodies, glistening layers of synths and acoustic guitar, and up-tempo electronic beats.

Now the London-born Seal has released his sixth studio album, what many consider the tour-de-force of his career. Produced by renowned music maestro David Foster, SOUL, from Warner Bros. Records, is a stunning compilation of the best classic soul songs ever created, with Seal's unique, signature touch. 

The songs each evoke an era when soul music vividly captured emotion, drama and romance.  Seal has said

"What I care about now is the same thing I cared about in the beginning of my career, which is songs." 

The song selection for the album was carefully chosen by Seal and Foster and is a collection of songs that both artists were instinctively drawn to.  Over the course of three weeks, the Los Angeles-based Seal and Foster began working in Foster's home recording studio. The first track they finished was the first single, the Sam Cooke ballad "A Change Is Gonna Come," which came together within 24 hours.

"I've made a lot of records in my time, but I've never enjoyed the recording experience more than I have with Seal. I think he's the only singer on the planet that could do this album, bringing something new and fresh to these classics, paying tremendous respect to their heritage, but, at the same time, owning them and making them uniquely 'Seal'. He was born to sing these songs and all we got to do is hang on for what is going to be a 'killer' ride," says "Soul" producer David Foster.

For MORE on Seal and his US/UK "Soul" tour, which starts March 31, visit his official website: www.Seal.com

In Wake Of Slumdog Glory, Putumayo's CD And Book Celebrate The Subcontinent

Source: www.thestar.com - John Goddard,
Staff Reporter

(March 14, 2009)  Great vocals and stirring melodies rarely go out of fashion, as Indian composer and singer A. R. Rahman reaffirmed with his double Oscar win for Slumdog Millionaire.

Optimism can also enhance a composition, he told the Academy Awards audience after winning for best original score and best original song, "Jai Ho."

"All my life I've had a choice between hate and love," he said. "I chose love."

Rahman is a good fit for Putumayo World Music. For 16 years, the New York record label has been compiling album collections with an ear for voice, melody, instrumentation and the kind of quality sound production that helps deliver its guarantee "to make you feel good."

Rahman appears on the company's latest release, India, sharing vocals with female Bollywood star Chinmayee on the love ballad "Tere Bina," from Rahman's soundtrack to the 2007 hit film Guru.

The disc coincides with the label's first venture into publishing, a lavish photo book called India: A Cultural Journey, with identical cover art.

"His was one of the first two or three tracks that I picked," Putumayo founder and CEO Dan Storper says of Rahman's song. "There are certain artists that, we say, `sounds very Putumayo,' which is another way of saying, `accessible.'"

In the Western recording industry, South Asia often gets overlooked. The term "world music" surfaced in the 1980s, usually to mean African music and later Latin American, mainly Cuban and Brazilian.

For adventurous Westerners, great vocals and dance rhythms from those regions held appeal, but Asian music remained obscure.

Putumayo shared the emphasis while maintaining a prior attachment to the subcontinent. The label began as a clothing and handicrafts company in the mid-1970s featuring products from India and South America.

"I probably did 30 trips to India," Storper said of his clothing years recently from his New Orleans branch office. "I would hear music in hotels and restaurants in places like Rajistan and Kashmere."

Over the years, the label issued such titles as Music from the Tea Lands, Asian Groove and Asian Lounge. But people kept asking for an exclusively Indian CD, Storper says. Yoga and Indian food were growing in popularity among North Americans, and India remained a popular travel destination.

"I remember hearing a couple of really beautiful Indian songs one day, and I said, `You know, it just feels like the right time to do this,'" he says.

The India collection eschews dance tunes in favour of a mellower, more enchanting approach.

Highlights include London-born Susheela Raman singing a devotional Hindu song, Bollywood star Kailash Kher performing with Mumbai guitarist Sanjay Divecha, and Toronto-raised singer Kiran Ahluwalia, who once worked in human resources for Putumayo without Storper knowing of her musical aspirations, he says. She sings "Vo Kuch," a gazal composition from her self-titled 2005 album.

At around the time he was compiling the CD, Storper came across a book of photographs on Morocco at a New York gift show. The French publisher was close to releasing something similar on India.

The publisher granted him North American rights. The book features more than 300 photos from all over India by Laurence Mouton and Sergio Ramazzotti, grouped by such subjects as "The Taste of Tea" and "Indian Pink and Saffron Yellow." Travel writer Catherine Bourzat provides the text.

Putumayo hopes to issue the Morocco book in English some day too.

Kiss Frontman On Lookout For Canadian 'Star Power'

Source: www.thestar.com - Nick Patch,
The Canadian Press

(March 12, 2009) In his search for the next great Canadian musical act, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons is after something less tangible than talent or experience: star power.

The legendary rocker started up Simmons Records last year and said he was exclusively interested in Canadian bands. On Thursday, he specified what he's looking for in potential signees.

"I don't want someone who sings well, I want someone who is charismatic beyond charisma," said Simmons, the keynote speaker at Canadian Music Week. "A star is going to be bigger than the songs they sing."

Simmons was alternately funny and sleazy during a wide-ranging speech on the industry that rarely touched on actual music.

In front of a packed audience at a downtown Toronto hotel, Simmons was never too specific on why he was interested only in Canadian talent, but did say he was concerned that Canuck acts rarely stay in the country.

"There is as much musical talent here as in the States, don't kid yourself," he said. "And unless you provide them with the industry and the pop culture, they will move across the border. It's not far.

"Americans can seduce the devil."

Simmons, who plans on signing three bands in the label's first year, said he's not interested in acts that will only have niche appeal.

"We're not looking at something that's as good as Chilliwack ... we're looking something that will compete worldwide," he said.

Simmons said Kiss was in the studio working on their first album since 1998's Psycho Circus, and that the record would be produced by the band's guitarist, Paul Stanley. As for a release date?

"That'll be out whenever we want it to be," he said.

Meanwhile, Simmons advised the audience – which included many aspiring musicians – to be shrewdly pragmatic in their pursuit of money and fame.

The entrepreneurial rocker has a reputation for caring more about money than music, a notion he seemed to embrace Thursday.

He showed a short DVD clip about Kiss's marketing machine. The band has its own diapers, condoms and caskets and has advertised for countless companies, including Nike, Holiday Inn and Mars chocolate bars. They've also shilled for both Coke and Pepsi.

"I signed my name with a dollar sign – trademarked, by the way," he said.

During an interactive segment in which Simmons waded into the crowd to answer questions, one audience member asked if he ever worried about selling out.

"For every dollar you don't want, would you mind sending me those dollars?" Simmons fired back. "I never have enough."

The rocker, who seemed relaxed in a black leather jacket, jeans and dark sunglasses, also offered his opinion on a number of other topics in a question-and-answer segment that followed.

On relationships, Simmons said: "For women, get married as often as you can, as fast as you can, get divorced as many times as you can, it'll be the single largest financial windfall you will ever make in your entire life."

Yet he conceded that when it comes to finding the next big thing in music, he doesn't necessarily have the answers.

"You really don't know it until you know it," he said. "You know it when you hear or see it.

"That's the magic of charisma."

Heather Headley releases debut Gospel album on EMI, 'Audience of One'

Source: www.eurweb.com
 - By Eunice Moseley

(March 12, 2009) *“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Tony Award winning actress/vocalist Heather Headley said about her first Inspirational album. “So it worked out with EMI (Gospel). I had a deal with God, ‘when you think I am ready, I will do it’.”

Headley did it in a mighty way with “Audience of One.” The album takes Inspirational and Gospel lyrics and blends them with contemporary sounds that can only be labelled “Heather Headley.” Her powerful vocal ability is something that those who hear her say is one of the best voices in the “world.”

“It’s me, it’s me…Pop/Gospel,” Heather said about her style on this CD. “You can listen to it on the road.”

The Obama’s thought highly of her recently when Heather was asked to perform at their pre-inauguration event, “We Are One.” She sang “My Country Tis of Thee” with Josh Groban.

“I was proud to be an American that day,” Headley says of her experience singing before the first African-American president of the United States and a world-wide audience. “It was more God’s decision. I felt honoured by it, to be a part of that moment in time…as an immigrant coming to America. I will be 99 years-old telling my children that story!”

  “Audience of One,” includes a duet with Smokie Norful (her label mate) on a cover of Lionel Richie’s “Jesus is Love.” The song is so different from the original I didn’t realize until mid-song that it WAS Lionel Richie’s song.

“EMI said ‘what about ‘Jesus is Love?’ …I said what can I bring to it,” Heather recalls of her decision process of whether to do a cover song. “I said, ’ok’ but I have to do it as a duet’.”

When you do a successful and enduring cover song she told me you ‘have to make it your own.' Born in Trinidad and raised in Indiana (now a U.S. citizen) Heather lived below a small church, a church that she eventually grew up to sing in. She, as with Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Fantasia and Aretha Franklin, grew up in Gospel music.

In 1997 after college she obtained a role on Broadway in Elton John and Tim Rice’s “The Lion King” as Nala. That role lead to the lead role in John and Rice’s “Aida.” Her role in “Aida” garnered the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

In 2002 Heather left Broadway to record her debut album, “This is who I am,” on RCA records produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Shep Crawford and others. The album gave us the two hits “He Is” and “I Wish I Wasn’t.” The later song garnered a Grammy Award nomination. Her sophomore album on RCA Records in 2006 “In My Mind” was produced by hit-makers such as Jimmy and Terry, Crawford, Lil’ Jon and Warryn Campbell. The title track “In My Mind” reached number one on the charts.

Also included on “Audience of One” is “Zion,” one of my favourite songs, which she co-wrote with producer Keith Thomas (CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams). My other favourites include “Simply Redeemed,” “I Know the Lord will Make a Way,” “Here I am to Worship” and Fred Hammonds’ “Running back to you.”

To learn more about Heather or take a listen log onto www.myspace.com/HeatherHeadley.

For Rufus Mueller, Connecting On Personal, Vulnerable Level With Audience Is A Must

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

(March 12, 2009) If you want to get noticed, do something offbeat.

When Rufus Mueller went to audition for a coveted vocal scholar's position at Oxford University at age 16, he sang from Robert Schumann's cycle Frauenliebe und Leben (A Woman's Life and Love).

British conductor Simon Preston listened politely as the teen sang of the man he loves.

"I remember Simon saying, `Um, interesting choice.'" recalls a bemused Mueller over lunch. "Then he asked, `Have you brought anything sacred,' and I thought, `I wonder whatever does he mean, something special to myself?'"

That's a long time ago for the New York City-based English tenor.

Mueller has been a regular guest of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir in Toronto. His solos in Messiah in December were breathtaking for their nuance and dramatic intensity.

He was back in January to sing in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's performances of Mozart's Magic Flute at Roy Thomson Hall.

Mueller returns to town again, joined by soprano Sophie Daneman, alto Vicki St. Pierre and bass Peter Harvey tonight to Sunday at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre in a program devoted to Cecilia, the patron saint of music.

Tafelmusik says this will be the North American premiere of the so-far unrecorded 1712 St. Cecilia Mass by Bohemian composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. Also on the program is George Frideric Handel's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day.

Mueller's intensity on stage translates directly to the lunch table, where he eloquently decodes the magnetic relationship between audiences and singers.

"We're not just here to have a good time. There's something more burning, more pressing. We have a responsibility as artists, and this is why people love singers so much, and that's because we're doing what everyone wants to do," he explains.

"When we let them down, people turn on us, they really do – much more than on instrumentalists, because it's so much more personal. Someone may have fallen in love with you in a moment and if you fail in that moment, you've shattered the illusion.

"Audiences can be absolutely lethal, which is why it's best to go for the more vulnerable, more human place immediately, which can be just standing here and singing rather than hoisting out the chest, which is like saying, `Stay away.'"

Mueller, a vicar's son, has been singing his whole life. "I sang before I could talk, apparently," he relates. As soon as he could, he began to sing in church, and at his school – already showing artistic smarts.

By the time he sang his final concert before his voice broke, he had his future made up. "I remember thinking, `Oh my God, I'd die to carry on doing this for the rest of my life. I've just got to do it."

He figured out how: "As a boy I remember thinking there's no way I'm going to go the way of famous trebles and turn into some mediocre baritone afterwards.

"I thought I'd be a counter-tenor like my brothers and then I discovered that I had a one-octave range from E to E that was a lot more fun, and singing tenor in the choir was much better than alto. Then I started realizing that tenor was high-voice solo, like I'd already been doing."

After graduating from Oxford, Mueller found himself in constant demand singing early and Baroque music, recording with top English names such as Emma Kirkby and James Bowman.

Now living in New York City, Mueller heads up the voice department at Bard College, where he is helping mould a new generation of singers – while maintaining his own full-time performing career.

"It's a major juggling act, kind of crazy-making," he admits. But he wouldn't have it any other way.

Just the facts
WHAT: Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir

WHERE: Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, 427 Bloor St. W.

WHEN: Tonight to Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

TICKETS: $15-$72. (Under age 30 PWYC Friday) at 416-964-6337 or tafelmusik.org


Mijac Adds 14 More Nights To O2 Run

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 12, 2009) *Michael Jackson's announced 10-night stand at London's O2 arena has grown to 24 nights following an overwhelming demand for pre-sale tickets, which became available on Wednesday and immediately sold out. At press time, 14 more shows were added to the residency, which will now run from July 8 to Sept. 9, according to Ticketmaster, with still more dates expected to be added in the coming days. Prices range from £50 ($68.82) to £75 ($103.23).   As previously reported, a limited amount of tickets for the AEG Live-promoted concerts went on sale at 7 a.m. GMT Wednesday to those who successfully entered the registration process for a chance to gain access to the pre-sale ticket offer.  More than a million people registered.  Meanwhile, scalpers have already taken to selling tickets on the internet for thousands of dollars a piece, reports WENN. One pair of seats was being auctioned on eBay Wednesday for $9,999.99.  Jackson hasn't played a full concert since 2001 and insists these shows will be his last in London.

Prince To Perform Four Nights On Leno


(March 13, 2009)  *On the heels of U2's five-night run on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" to plug their new album, NBC has announced that Prince will promote his two new releases across four nights on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." The artist will perform on three consecutive shows from March 25-27, then, return on May 28 for Leno's next-to-last night as host of the long-running talk show. No word on whether the notoriously press-shy musician also will sit down for a chat. The residency will support Prince's new albums, "Lotus Flower" and "MPLSound," both available March 29 exclusively from Target. As previously reported, the $11.98 package will include an album by rookie artist Bria Velente. Prince's "Tonight Show" performances appear to be part of a larger rollout for the CD package in Los Angeles, reports Reuters. An e-mail Prince sent to fans and media this week read -- including the usual wacky spellings, grammar and such:   "Purple Electricity. Calling all Purpleheadz: ready 2 get plugged in? From the 24th on, there will b a slew of NPG-related events happening around electric LAlaland. we don't want 2 give away all the details yet, but b prepared 2 get yo groove on, numerous ways 4 numerous days. We know $ is tite but the adventures will b worth ur while! Stay 2ned 2 this outtaspacestation."

Thicke Looking Forward To Tour With J.Hud

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 16, 2009) *R&B crooner
Robin Thicke said he jumped at the chance to join Jennifer Hudson on the road for a co-headlining six-week tour that begins March 31 in Albany, N.Y. Thicke predicts the tour will be "very cathartic" for Hudson – who suffered the loss of her mother, brother and nephew during a murder spree in October.  "I think it's going to be the perfect thing for her to do, to get out there and get outside her head and feel the love she's been getting," Thicke told E! News. "She's a special lady." The singers first teamed up on "Giving Myself," a track from her self-titled debut album. "Luckily, her voice is ready to go at all times," said Thicke. "She showed up, I had this great little song in the spirit of Whitney Houston, and she sat down next to me and I started singing it for her, and she loved it right off the bat. We got her behind the microphone and she Jennifer Hudson-ed it." Thicke says there's a good chance he and Hudson will perform together during the tour. "Normally, by the time I leave the stage, I like to leave the stage," he said. "But I don't know. I might come back and play piano and sing backup."


Ava DuVernay  : Life Is Good!

Source: Kam Williams

Ava DuVernay has worked in the world of film as a marketer and publicist for more than 14 years, forming The DuVernay Agency in 1999.  Her award-winning firm has provided strategy and execution for more than 80 film and television campaigns for acclaimed directors such as Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Robert Rodriguez, Bill Condon, Raoul Peck, Gurinder Chadha and Reggie & Gina Bythewood.  Here, the brainy and beautiful businesswoman-turned-filmmaker discusses her directorial debut, “This is the Life,” which offers a rare insider’s view of the underground urban music movement in Los Angeles.  Already the winner of Audience Awards in Toronto, Los Angeles and Seattle, this riveting documentary about the roots of rap has just been released theatrically by Forward Movement and is set to debut on Showtime in April.

KW: Hi Ava, thanks for the time.

AD: No, thank you, Kam.  I’m a big fan.

KW: Congratulations on your directorial debut! How was the premiere party at The House of Blues?

AD: It was unbelievable and unforgettable… Truly a remarkable night... To have all these amazing artists reunite in celebration of our documentary was a dream come true.

KW: What interested you in making This Is the Life?

AD: Well, I was a part of The Good Life movement as a young artist. Eventually, I went on to handle publicity for studios and networks, to work all over the world, execute huge premieres and red carpet events, but in all that time, I never experienced anything as creatively pure as I had at The Good Life. When it was time to make my first doc, I knew it had to be about that very special place.

KW: What prior experience did you have with directing?

AD:  I’ve directed two shorts previously, a short narrative and a short doc. My short narrative, “Saturday Night Life,” starred Melissa De Sousa of “The Best Man.” It toured the festival circuit and eventually was selected for the Showtime Network’s Black Filmmaker Showcase, and aired in February, 2007.

KW: How did you prepare to shoot this movie?

AD: The most extensive preparation was in connecting with and relaying my vision of the story to all the participants. This film is the true story of many people’s lives, so beyond the obvious technical preparation, it was the personal connection and building of trust that was at the forefront for me throughout the process.

KW: How was it seeing old friends over the course of the shooting? Had you kept in touch with most of them? 

AD:  It was wonderful to not only see all the old friends, but to have the opportunity to sit down and have long conversations, really delve into the memories. It was a beautiful time for me personally. 

KW: You were once an aspiring rapper? How would you describe your style?

AD:  I don’t know if I was ever an aspiring rapper, as in aspiring to have a record deal and be a rap star. I liked to express myself through rhyme and to practice lyrical patterns that were unusual. I liked to hang with my friends who were all rhyming. I liked being a part of The Good Life family. At the time, I was doing what I loved, and not really thinking much beyond that – in terms of commercial viability or aspirations.

KW: Were you disappointed when you didn’t make it as a rapper? How did you feel when Eve exploded with your rap nickname?

AD:  No, not at all.  I never pursued it like that. I was a student at UCLA and was just a local young woman enjoying the hip hop scene. It was never really meant to be more than that.

KW: What famous rappers would you say were influenced by performers in This Is the Life?

AD:  In the film, we explore the connections between several emcees of note and their Good Life counterparts. Particularly, Ice Cube and Bones Thugs & Harmony.  We lay it all out for the viewer to judge the influences for themselves.

KW: Do you still get up on stage anywhere on open mic night?

AD: No, I’m no longer performing.

KW: Then, where can folks go to hear a sample of your rapping?

AD:  Nowhere! The evidence is long gone. [Laughs]

KW: Which do you enjoy more, rapping, directing or being a publicist?

AD: Oh wow! What an interesting question. I’m proud to say that I am someone who very much tries to remain in the moment. At each of those moments – as an emcee, as a publicist and now as a director – I am completely immersed, completely present, completely enjoying it. I can’t say I love one over another because as I was doing each, I loved it through and through.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

AD: I am happy, and hopeful, and healthy, and here! What more can we really ask for?

KW: The “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan question: Where in L.A. do you live?

AD:  I live in what Angelenos call “The Valley.”  Sherman Oaks, California to be exact.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

AD: “A Strange Freedom” by Howard Thurman

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

AD: Yes, whenever my ego starts to get the best of me – I know that’s just fear rearing its ugly head.

KW: The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?

AD:  My Mother.

KW: How do you feel about Barack Obama’s becoming President?

AD:  I feel empowered to do just about anything.  If he can achieve his dream, I can achieve mine, and you can achieve yours.  Whatever they may be.

KW: The Laz Alonso question: Is there anything your fans can do to help you?

AD: Don’t buy bootleg. And please support black films on the first weekend.

KW: What was the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome in life?

AD: Fear of failure.

KW: Teri Emerson would like to know when was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

AD: Last night, at a screening of THIS IS THE LIFE. An emcee performed an amazingly hilarious freestyle after the show and we all fell out of our chairs.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

AD:  Be not afraid.

KW: Do you have a website?

AD: www.goodlifelove.com

KW: Thanks again for the interview, and best of luck with all your endeavours. 

AD:  Thanks, Kam.  It’s an honoured to be interviewed by you.  Keep up the great work!

Multi-Tasking With Stars Of Miss March

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

(March 15, 2009) Trevor Moore and Zach Cregger have bitten off a little more than they can chew.

In town last month as part of a press tour for
Miss March, (the movie the pair co-wrote, co-directed and starred in), they decided to tack on a 30-date tour with their New York-based sketch troupe, the six-member Whitest Kids U' Know, who rode early YouTube success into their own television series.

"We've never done one of these press tours before, so it was like, let's do these both at the same time," says Moore. "And by doing that, we have made it so we get about three hours of sleep a night."

Admitting the pace is hectic, the pair are pleased to be showing off their inaugural film directing experience. They have been working in tandem directing The Whitest Kids U' Know television series, which is currently in its third season on IFC and Super Channel in Canada, but were surprised the studio would even allow them the opportunity.

"I'm still surprised that Fox let us," says Moore.

"I don't know why they did," adds Cregger. "We had a little bit of track record because we did the TV show, but Fox did have us sit down and asked us how we do things – how we would shoot it, how it would look, and the pacing. After that meeting, it was like, okay, you guys can do it."

The result is Miss March, best described as a hodgepodge buddy comedy/losing your virginity quest/sex road trip film, where Cregger's character Eugene ends up in a coma on prom night right before he's about to have sex with his girlfriend Cindi (played by Raquel Alessi).

After four years, his well-meaning, lunkheaded Playboy obsessed friend Tucker (Moore) manages to wake him, to tell him that his lady love has just appeared as Miss March in the latest issue of the magazine. So the boys decide to travel cross-country to confront her at the infamous mansion.

What's surprising is that both stars/directors admit that in the beginning, the premise was not one that particularly grabbed them.

"I was actually turned off by the idea initially of like a sex road trip, losing virginity movie, but I'm glad now because we took it as kind of a challenge," says Cregger. "Like can you do something inside this construct that has our stamp on it, that is funny. So it was fun to work inside of it once we kind of accepted it."

"Yeah, it became a cool writing exercise," says Moore.

Because of the quest's nature, both cite one of the best things was being able to work with Hugh Hefner, who makes a cameo in the film, although there was some initial trepidation.

"At first it was a little intimidating, to say, 'Oh, I want him to say that in a different way,' " says Cregger. "It's like this guy is a legend and I am making a comedy, and I feel like I'm so not worthy to be correcting him on anything, but he's super-gracious, and totally patient with us, and willing to look a little silly at times. He was great."

No script. No budget. No problem

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

(March 15, 2009) For all the ways that the web is changing entertainment, at its most basic level, it is an accelerator. If you want a recent example, there probably is none better than David and Ian Purchase of Markham, Ontario.

One month ago, the brothers were toiling in anonymity toward their lifelong dream of becoming movie directors. They had signed on with Sons and Daughters, a local commercial production company who would represent them in Canada, and like many unknown directors attempting to break into the field, they were working away on their `reel' – industry talk for examples of their work.

This work is usually unsolicited, fake commercials for existing products – the brothers used Coke and iPod (viewable on their site at www.purchasebrothers.com) – to showcase their visual style and expertise. They also made a third short film, and that changed everything.

Based on the video game
Half Life 2, they created a five-and-a-half-minute film called Escape from City 17 Part One, which with over two million views remains the most popular video in the past month on YouTube. Lauded by viewers worldwide for its engaging story, special effects and accurate depiction of the tense first-person-shooter's universe, the video has many fans and online commenters clamouring for more, and people in the film industry hoping and believing that this is possibly just the start for the suddenly up-and-coming siblings.

Sitting down with the pair at a downtown bar, it's obvious life has been a whirlwind for them since the video launched. David, with his Gsus jacket and spiky coiffed hair, looks like a pretty funky 25-year-old and does most of the talking. Ian, 23 and a bit more clean cut in a black T-shirt and blazer, seems a bit more professional and contemplative.

Both feel that they have been very lucky, but also know that the result is of the countless hours of work that they put into the video. While the tagline for the video stated "Filmed guerrilla style with no money, no time, no crew, no script, the first two episodes were made from beginning to end on a budget of $500," that's not the whole story.

"The $500 budget went to the costumes and the airsoft guns," explains David.

"But in terms of time, that first one took about three or four months of working on it. And we've been working on the other (instalments) too. We shot them all simultaneously, and then filled in the gaps," says Ian.

"Sometimes it was days of not leaving. We work in our basement, so sometimes you would go outside just to feel the sun," says David, rubbing his eyes for effect. "Originally, they were going to be a lot shorter, more of a spec commercial thing (but) we ended up having so much footage; we realized that this could be a really cool series of short films."

The filming was done in the Toronto area and around their Markham home. With no budgets, permits were out of the question, so many of the scenes in the first instalment were filmed in a local train yard, where they were often chased off by ATV-driving security guards, which they describe as nerve-wracking. Much of the acting was provided by friends like Derek Chan, who stars in Part One with Ian, who plays a fellow soldier with a vaguely European accent.

As with most creators the flaws leap out at them, despite the first clip's success. Ian isn't happy with the sound dubbing. David says they have developed a sense of what ideas they can handle: "We kind of automatically censor our vision, so we're always thinking about what we can do with our current resources. There are certain things that we know we can't do, so we don't even think about including them."

The next two clips in the series were mostly shot last year, but due to other projects' demands are still unfinished. Fans might get impatient; one reason for all the excitement is that there have been very few video game-based films that actually pleased gamers. The boys credit being posted at popular gaming blog Kotaku.com for helping rocket up the initial views. That post declared: "for a fan movie, this is freakin' amazing."

The brothers sent a rough cut to Valve Software, the maker of Half Life 2, and garnered such a positive reaction that they were flown down to its Bellevue, Wash., headquarters. This was high praise, as Valve has little interest in making a Half Life film; many of the pitches have been patently ridiculous.

"After seeing some of the dreadful ways Hollywood has attempted to turn video games into film, it was great to see how well the Purchase brothers have brought our game to life. Hollywood could learn a lot from these guys," said Gabe Newell, owner of Valve, in a statement about the first instalment.

The brothers are avid gamers, and have been Half Life fans for years. They knew it would be the little touches that made all the difference for the audience.

"I know that some directors like to change things, like the floating airships in the background, and some would say, `Oh, let's make them black, to make them stand out more.' Well, no, they're supposed to be white, that's the type of stuff that matters," says David.

Of course, Valve's disinterest in making a movie also created a slight problem, because as soon as the video started racking up hits, the boys began receiving inquiries from Hollywood players asking, "how do we turn this into a movie?"

"Within the first day and a half, we actually got a couple of emails from L.A," says David.

Making a Half Life feature was out of the question, but it was obvious that the film industry's interest was piqued anyhow. Sons and Daughters flew the broke brothers to L.A. to strike while the iron was hot.

Within a week, the Purchase brothers had met with most of the top agencies in Los Angeles. They'll now be represented by Anonymous Content for commercials in the U.S., and they signed with CAA for feature film representation, sharing an agent with Christopher (Dark Knight) Nolan.

Not bad without going to film school; Ian attended OCAD for graphic design but dropped out to focus on filmmaking. In fact they still haven't shot a real commercial, but the pair have been working for a year on their own feature film idea, shooting in much the same manner as Escape from City 17.

"It's going to be set in World War Two, it's going to be feature length, it's got a very cool story that we can't really talk about," says David, who says he does more of the writing in the duo.

They can't believe how quickly things have gone. They hoped that they might get some commercial work thanks to the Escape clip but "we've gotten so much attention from this, we feel like we're ahead of schedule," says Ian. "Because we were hoping this type of thing would happen from the feature."

They're getting back to work in earnest on the next Escape clips, even taking a road trip last weekend to Pennsylvania to scout a location. Whatever happens, they know an audience is anxiously waiting..

Film Scene Is Looking Bright For Toronto

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

(March 16, 2009) Filmport Studios, the newest and largest
film and television production space in Toronto, is booked nearly to capacity, a sign that 2009 will be a much better year for the battered industry in the city.

Ken Ferguson, president of Toronto Film Studios, said six of the studio's seven state-of-the-art sound stages are booked, with only the site's 4,270-square-metre "mega-stage" lying fallow.

"Right now, all of our stages, other than the mega-stage, are occupied. There's no place to park. So this is good news for us," he said.

Filmport opened last year at a truly dismal time, with the Canadian dollar relatively close to par with the U.S. dollar and producers there taking advantage of enhanced tax credits being offered by many U.S. jurisdictions, particularly New York.

But in 2009, New York's tax credit program has run out of cash and the Canadian dollar has dipped significantly against its U.S. counterpart, making Toronto and other Canadian locales good value.

More than 35,000 Torontonians are estimated to work in the local film industry.

Filmport has attracted a number of pilots being produced for the major U.S. television networks – work that went to New York in 2008 – as well as a couple of feature films, including Atom Egoyan's Chloe, starring Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson, and Love Child, starring Donald Sutherland.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, starring Brampton native Michael Cera, is expected to start filming next month.

Pilots include Happy Town for ABC/Disney, Battle of Maggie Hill for Fox and two CBS/Paramount pilots, Back and U.S. Attorney.

Ferguson is also hopeful the major U.S. studios will be green-lighting some big-money feature film projects despite an ongoing dispute with U.S.-based Screen Actors Guild.

"We're definitely looking at 2009 being a better year in film and television production than it was in 2008. Notwithstanding the horrible recession that's going on in the world, this is one sector in Toronto that's going to be better off," Ferguson added.

Rhonda Silverstone, manager of the Toronto Film and Television Office, said 2009 is already shaping up to be a better year.

"It's great to see trucks on the street and people working. We're optimistic that this year will be better than last," she said.

Seth Rogen does Taxi Driver

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Jennie Punter

(March 17, 2009) Austin, Tex. — Is Seth Rogen developing an authority-figure fetish?

As unlikely as it sounds, the Vancouver-born actor-writer – known for playing likeable stoner dudes – is donning a cop uniform a second time for his star turn in the upcoming film
Observe and Report.

Mind you, he did leave the badge and taser at home for his recent visit to Austin's South By Southwest (SXSW), a film festival that's becoming a regular stop for Rogen. His hit Knocked Up, directed by Judd Apatow, had its world premiere here in 2007 – kick-starting early buzz on the film and putting the indie-focused fest on Hollywood's radar as the spring launching pad for youth-oriented fare. And on Monday night, Rogen returned to the red carpet for the premiere of Observe and Report, a dark comedy from director Jody Hill ( The Foot Fist Way, HBO's latest hit Eastbound & Down) about a bipolar mall security guard with anger issues and delusions of grandeur.

“We asked what if – instead of De Niro – Albert Brooks was the star of Taxi Driver?” Rogen says, referring to his resemblance to Brooks and getting a huge laugh during a panel discussion at the SXSW conference yesterday morning. Rogen's character is a marked departure from the “goofy stoner guy” he plays in Apatow's movie and the recent Pineapple Express – certainly not the likeable lead major studios prefer in their comedies.

Set for release April 10 by Warner Bros., Observe and Report is filled with edgy moments that make you pause before laughing. “There's that scene where at first you wonder if my character is raping Brandi (Anna Faris) and think, ‘Am I okay with this?' and then you realize it's consensual, if totally unromantic,” says Rogen.

Hill says the fact that the movie ended up close to his original script is a testament to the studio's faith in Rogen's box-office mojo. As for Rogen, he's not concerned that fans might be turned off by his shift toward authority. Or his darker side. “I mean, people don't watch Silence of The Lambs for Jodie Foster.”

Actor Karine Vanasse Felt `Human Story' Of Massacre Needed Telling

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

(March 18, 2009) As the star and guiding light behind the controversial film Polytechnique, Karine Vanasse bears unique witness to a national tragedy.

A household name in her home province of Quebec, she was just 6 years old on Dec. 6, 1989, the day deranged gunman Marc Lépine violently acted upon his hatred of women at Montreal's École Polytechnique. Shouting "I hate feminists," Lépine targeted females in a rampage that left 14 women dead and 10 women and four men injured. His final shot was a bullet to his own brain.

"My parents protected me from the news," Vanasse, 25, said in an interview during a Toronto visit this week.

"When you're 6, you don't make sense of that kind of event."

No one ever makes sense of something like that, no matter what age. But with Polytechnique, a film she sought to have made (and which opens Friday in Toronto), Vanasse hopes to pay homage to the victims and also to salve the still-festering wounds to the Canadian psyche.

Polytechnique fully depicts the horror of the event that came to be known as the Montreal Massacre. It also prompts viewers to consider the cultural after-shocks: debate raged over the "cowardly" men who ran for cover and the "self-hating" women who denied being feminists to avoid Lépine's wrath. To some outraged commentators, Lépine's madness was the inevitable product of a misogynistic society.

"For a short second of time after the tragedy, Marc Lépine succeeded in creating the division between men and women that he wanted, when he entered the first classroom and told the guys to leave and the girls to stay," Vanasse said.

"The shock was big; the impact was big. There were more than 14 victims of the tragedy. Marc Lépine directed it towards women, but in the end, it was towards society."

Vanasse's interest in the Montreal Massacre is much more than just another movie role. She became involved at the age of 15 when she was asked by family members of Lépine's victims to read a dedication at one of many Dec. 6 remembrance events.

She was well known in Quebec even at that age because of her movies – she starred in Emporte-Moi (Set Me Free), Leá Pool's critically acclaimed 1999 teen drama – and her roles in popular TV shows.

Vanasse was chosen to read the dedication because she was judged to have genuine empathy: "I was told that maybe I had the type of personality that these girls had."

It was while participating in the ceremony that Vanasse realized the broader dimensions of the tragedy, and that "the human story of the event" still needed to be told.

She initiated the production of Polytechnique along with Maxime Rémillard, co-owner of Remstar Corp., and she had a say in selecting Denis Villeneuve as director. Vanasse was impressed with Villeneuve's films, the award-winning Maelström among them, which tackle tough issues but generally eschew graphic imagery.

Vanasse also took the main female role in Polytechnique, changing her blond hair to brunette. She plays Valérie, an engineering student who attempts to reason with Lépine. The name is fictional, but Vanasse based Valérie on three female survivors of the Montreal Massacre, chiefly Nathalie Provost, who became notorious for her statement to Lépine that the women in the classroom weren't feminists.

Vanasse spent many hours with Provost – she spoke with about 12 survivors in all – and she's convinced that people have misunderstood the dynamics of that day.

"She was so judged by the feminists, who said, `How dare you say that you're not a feminist after all the work we've been doing?' But at the same time when you talk to (the survivors); you realize that they didn't feel the necessity to say they were feminists, because for them they were studying at the Polytechnique and the world was theirs.

"They didn't feel they had to fight for it as much, because they felt accepted as students. It was only after they entered the world of engineers that they realized, `Okay, I'm really a woman in a man's world.'"

Polytechnique also argues the case of the men in the room and the guilt they felt for fleeing. Sébastien Huberdeau plays a character based on Sarto Blais, a massacre survivor who later took his own life, leaving behind a suicide note attesting to his shame. His aggrieved parents also killed themselves.

The film has been out for several weeks in Quebec and the response has generally been favourable. Vanasse and the other participants have had to weather controversy – some say, why open old wounds? – but she's used to that.

Her previous roles have included French monarch Marie Antoinette in a 2006 TV movie. In 2007, she starred as an online sex worker in Ma fille, mon ange (My Daughter, My Angel), a movie that came dangerously close to being declared pornographic for its explicit scenes.

No apologies from Vanasse for her tough choices.

"I'm not saying I'm attracted to controversy, but strong material? Yes. I feel that sometimes we create controversy also. For me, what's controversial is when you don't take care of the subject you have in your hands. You're saying something, but what? What are you telling us? I want to be part of a film that creates discussions and brings awareness."


Will And Jada Open Grade School In CA

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 12, 2009) *Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have made good on their plans to open an elementary school that uses instructional methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.  The New Village Leadership Academy in Calabasas, Calif. opened last fall for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, reports the Associated Press. Pinkett Smith says she and her husband were inspired to open the school after developing a home-school program for their children. Although the academy generated some controversy because of its Hubbard-inspired approach to learning, the school's director has said it is not a Scientology facility.   Pinkett Smith is looking to open a companion high school in the near future. In the meantime, she is set to produce and star in the upcoming TNT drama "Time Heals."

New Wayans Generation Enters Showbiz

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 12, 2009) *A new generation of the Wayans family is about to make its official entry into the film business. Damien Dante Wayans -- nephew of filmmaker Keenen Ivory Wayans  -- will make his directing debut with "Dance Flick," a Paramount comedy to be released May 22, per the Hollywood Reporter. His cousins Craig and Damon Jr. will co-star in the film. Damien (whose mother, actress Nadia Wayans, is a sibling of the Wayans brothers) is also a co-writer -- along with Craig, Keenen, Shawn and Marlon -- and executive producer of the movie as well. Older-generation siblings Shawn, Marlon, Kim and Keenen all appear in the film. Craig and Damien, along with producing partner George O. Gore II, also have formed a film and TV production company called, naturally, Second Generation Entertainment. The trio plans to create, develop and produce multiplatform content for the young adult market. Damien's acting career has included roles on TV's "House," "Malibu's Most Wanted" and "Little Man." He also has been a supervising producer, director and writer on uncle Damon's sitcom "My Wife and Kids." Craig's writing and producing credits include "Scary Movie 2" and "My Wife and Kids."

LA's 'Good Life' Shines In New Documentary

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 12, 2009) *A documentary on the 90s hip hop scene that grew out of the historic Good Life Health Food Café in Los Angeles arrives today on DVD. [Scroll down to watch trailer.]  "This is the Life" explores the little known story of 50 young African-American artists who, in the early 1990s, resisted peer pressure to become "gangsta rappers" and developed an alternative music movement.   Many of the Good Life stars – including Chali2na, Cut Chemist, Abstract Rude, Myka Nyne, Medusa and P.E.A.C.E. – are household names among West coast hip hop fans. Public Enemy's Chuck D notes, "This is a story that has been missing from our cultural consciousness. The LA Underground scene has been slept on and passed over when it comes to its important contribution to the hip hop art form.  Their styles and language, as well as the gymnastic vocal twists, symbolize the highest standards of rhyme.   "This film keeps their highly relevant music fresh and in its purest form, letting the stories be told from the mouths and minds that lived it. 'This is the Life' is exceptional, a documentary not to be forgotten."

Columbus Short Joins Bunch Of 'Losers'

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 16, 2009) *
Columbus Short has joined the DC-Vertigo comic book adaptation "The Losers" at Warner Bros. Pictures reports Blackfilm. Directed by Sylvain White, the story follows a Special Forces team who was betrayed by their CIA handler Max in the 90s and left for dead following the conclusion of their operation. Eager for revenge and the opportunity to remove their names from a secret CIA death list, the Losers regroup and conduct covert operations against the CIA, uncovering startling operations spearheaded by the enigmatic Max, whose influence within the CIA and U.S. Government is unparalleled. Short will play the role of Pooch, a 'Losers' pilot identifiable in the Vertigo comic book series by his shaved head and laid-back appearance. The character has been known to pilot any ground, air or sea vehicle with ease. Despite his involvement with the CIA and Special Forces, he is also married with children.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan, best known as the character Denny on TV's "Grey's Anatomy," will portray team leader Clay.  The Losers ran for 32 issues from August 2003 to March 2006. The idea was loosely based on the original 1970 Losers for DC Comics, a group of World War II soldiers. The update is set against events surrounding and including the War on Terror.


‘It's Wild How Deals Are Getting Put Together'

www.globeandmail.com - Gayle Macdonald

(March 13, 2009)  Early last week, Toronto writer Tassie Cameron and television producer Ilana Frank jumped an 8:30 a.m. flight to Los Angeles, picked up their silver hybrid at the Hertz counter at LAX, and wheeled onto the always-insane Interstate 405.

Ahead of the pair that day lay back-to-back meetings – both of them over “the mountain” in Burbank – first, at ABC (with TV president Steve McPherson) and later at NBC (with another industry heavy hitter, Ben Silverman). In Tinseltown to pitch the sale of their new police drama,
Copper, Cameron and Frank kept up that frenetic pace for the rest of the week – meeting top executives at a slew of other networks, including CW (part of the CBS family), Lifetime and Fox. “It was a bit wild and crazy – but exhilarating,” says Frank, back at her desk in Toronto.

And now, they wait – for that all-important phone call from their Canadian distributor, Noreen Halpern, who has worked 13 years in Los Angeles, most recently as president of dramatic programming at E1 Entertainment. “Tassie did a stunning pitch,” declares Halpern, who is shopping the show based on Cameron's script. “I'm hoping to have news within a week or two.”

And if one of those U.S. powerhouses does partner up with already-on-board CanWest Global to produce the series – which bills itself as “ Grey's Anatomy in the world of rookie cops” – Copper will join the swelling ranks of Canadian-made programs (most notably Flashpoint, as well as the upcoming series The Listener and The Bridge) that in the past 18 months have found American broadcasters keen to split the cost, and risk, of making prime-time programming with a Canadian network.

 “It's an extraordinary change in the lay of the land from even a year ago,” observes Halpern, who is currently pitching U.S. networks another Global pilot called Shattered and starring Callum Keith Rennie in the story of an emotionally devastated former “super cop.” (“Think,” the promo material amusingly says, “ CSI meets A Beautiful Mind.”) “The shift with some of the network presidents has been exceptional,” Halpern continues. Last year's strike by the Writers Guild of America, she says, “paved the way, and allowed a show like Flashpoint to be sold. Once it aired and was a success, it made people take notice.

“That, coupled with the economic downturn, means all broadcasters are looking for interesting alternatives. The Canadian way is one of these,” adds the TV veteran, who says Americans can save up to 50 per cent by splitting costs.

A year ago, Halpern adds, it would have been ludicrous to assume Cameron and Frank – both highly respected on their home turf – would get easy face time with big U.S. players. But times have changed. CBS will make six fewer pilot episodes this year than in 2008, when 15 were produced. And everyone's feeling the pinch from the freefall in advertising.

“The U.S. networks, like the ones in Canada, are clamping down in an enormous way to find cost savings,” says one veteran Toronto producer, who asked not to be named. “They're all pulling back on the kinds of salaries that actors, directors and writers are being paid. They're taking a week-by-week approach to green-lighting new shows or renewing old ones.

“And they're all on the lookout for the next Flashpoint – which has become a term almost as generic as Kleenex,” he notes dryly of the CTV/CBS show that was TV's most-watched original new drama last summer. “The buzz on everyone's lips is: ‘We need a Flashpoint.'“ In its wake, CTV's 13-episode police drama The Bridge was picked up by CBS; and CTV's The Listener, about a telepathic paramedic, by NBC.

Toronto's Laszlo Barna, co-producer of The Bridge, which is inspired by the insights of former Toronto police union head Craig Bromell, says there used to be a “prejudice that Canadian programs don't work on American television,” but that that view doesn't seem to exist any more. “The poor economic situation has been a big factor – and I think Canadian broadcasters are equally motivated to find a new model.”

But while all broadcasters are tightening their belts, Barna also points out that there is still clearly an appetite “to roll the dice, and spend a bit on what hopefully will be a brass ring of a show that makes it to a U.S. network prime-time schedule.

“It's certainly not all rosy out there, and the fact remains that Canadian broadcasters in this particular quarter are doing less [indigenous] production,” says Barna, alluding to the cancellation (at least for a year) of CTV's Canadian Idol, plus two CBC daytime shows, Steven & Chris and Fashion File, as well as the recent noticeable slowdown in licensing agreements being signed at debt-heavy CanWest Global.

In Ottawa, John Barrack, of the 400-member Canadian Film and Television Production Association, agrees. “This new trend of U.S. studios partnering with Canadian producers – and licensing Canadian programming in ways we haven't seen before – is good news for everybody,” he says. “It's taking Canada to the world in a whole new fashion.”

Even better, he adds, “I think it's sustainable. The U.S. studios have woken up to the fact that there's tremendous opportunity here. They've been doing service production here for a long time – and that has started to flood back this year to major centres like Toronto and Vancouver. But Flashpoint jolted them awake and made them realize they can make quality content using real Canadian input from our writers, our actors, our directors and our producers. And they can satisfy the Canadian-content requirements to maximize their financing and at the same time produce a product that is internationally sellable.”

Halpern, who is normally a fairly conservative sort, sticks her neck out and predicts Copper will get picked up by a major U.S. network based simply on the strength of the script. Asked if that's unusual, she replies: “Nothing is unusual to me any more. It's wild how deals are getting put together these days.” The plan is to start shooting the drama in Toronto in June, with delivery in late summer.

She chuckles retelling how super prepared Cameron was to do her pitch. “In the show, the central character is a woman who is great at her job, but incredibly anal. In the first episode, she shows up at the cop shop an hour early to case the joint – then realizes how nerdy this is – and goes outside and pretends to make phone calls.

“Tassie and Ilana basically showed up that first day at ABC and did the same thing: They came an hour early. They cased the joint, realized that was dorky, and went outside to make phone calls. It was cute. In our Canadian sort of way.

Nick Cannon Signs Two-Year Deal With Nickelodeon


(March 13, 2009)  *Nick Cannon has been named Honorary Chairman and development consultant for Nickelodeon's TEENick, formerly known as The N network.

The two-year deal starts immediately as The N begins its rebranding into TEENick, further developing and delivering on its mission of serving teens and tweens through programming reflecting the breadth and depth of "teendom."

Cannon, married to pop star Mariah Carey, will serve as creative consultant and provide his vision on several projects for the teen network and its development slate. He will have a presence on-air, online and behind-the-scenes as he works closely with the network's development and on-air teams to harness and execute new ideas across multiple platforms.

"I started my career here at Nickelodeon and am so excited to be back, serving as an integral part of TEENick as the in-house voice and representative for teens everywhere," said Cannon. "TEENick is their network and I am here to make sure this is an ultimate destination for and about them."

Cannon also will host and executive produce TEENick's Halo Awards (working title), a new hour-long special celebrating ordinary teens who make a difference in the world. Production on TEENick's Halo Awards is scheduled to commence this summer and the special will premiere winter 2009. In addition, Cannon will serve as executive producer on a new original two-hour TV movie for Nickelodeon which is currently in development.

The Halo Awards will feature Cannon and a roster of his celebrity friends who will travel around the country and surprise, recognize and celebrate ordinary teens who are doing extraordinary things for their community, in the hopes of inspiring and motivating a new generation of leaders.

Satellite Piracy Costing TV Industry Billions

Source: www.thestar.com - Tony Wong,
Business Reporter

(March 15, 2009)  The modern-day pirate doesn't sport a patch or walk with a limp.

His weapon of choice is an unassuming, pizza-sized satellite dish that can literally harpoon signals from space – and provide lucrative and illicit profit.

And it's happening across the country.
The Canadian Motion Pictures Distribution Association estimates that the total loss to the industry from satellite piracy in 2001 alone was about $1 billion – and that number is likely far higher today.

But lately, satellite companies, including Bell ExpressVu and U.S.-based DISH Network have been fighting back. The companies are switching to a tough new encryption system while using the threat of court action to target end users.

"We take this very seriously and we have taken a number of actions to counter signal theft," Bell spokesperson Julie Smithers said. Satellite companies like to remind users that theft of signal not only means less subscription revenue for providers, but a fall in ratings for stations which translates into lost advertising revenue, and for artists who are given a portion of profits from subscriptions through the Canadian Television Fund.

Los Angeles-based media analysts The Carmel Group estimates there are at least two million illegal television households in the U.S. and Canada, out of a universe of about 15 million legal households. And the number is growing exponentially.

In the digital age, pirates are likely to look a lot like James, a middle- aged Toronto engineer with two children who happens to enjoy watching the Tennis Channel.

"I can't believe I was actually paying for cable before," he enthuses. James has access to a universe of more than 200 channels, including current pay-per-view movies that are only available at the video store for a cost. Last summer he put up a second satellite at his cottage, with a dish and receiver from a computer store in downtown Toronto that he purchased for less than $200.

James is currently watching a live tennis match in his living room which is decorated with trophies from his local club. Flipping through channels on a black set-top box reveals that he has fully unscrambled access to dozens of Hollywood movies (currently playing are The Dark Knight and Milk) for which legitimate subscribers have to pay up to $5.99 each.

At the heart of the problem are "Free To Air" satellite receivers that are widely available throughout Canada. While the possession of the equipment is not a crime, modifying it to access subscription signals is.

Free to Air is a system widely available in Europe, where television and radio broadcasts are typically sent unencrypted. There are some 250 Free to Air channels in North America, typically for ethnic programming.

"The way piracy works in North America is when consumers turn their Free to Air receivers into Free to Air units that steal," says a Carmel Group report.

A USB port on the system allows consumers to change the internal programming of the module after downloading software from the Internet.

"What the manufacturers and retailers are doing may not be illegal, but it is wilful blindness," argues Luc Perrault, co-chair of the Coalition Against Satellite Signal Theft and a vice-president of the Weather Network. "These things are being imported by the container load into Canada and it's a serious issue."

The coalition, which represents Canadian cable and satellite providers is lobbying government to toughen laws against piracy, including harsher sentences for pirates.

There have been some charges, but they aren't coming quickly enough for the industry. Chris Frank, vice-president of programming for Bell ExpressVu, says the company has "done everything to ensure the integrity of our platform. Secret services around the world spend billions of dollars upgrading encryption systems to make sure their data is secure," he told the Star's Chris Sorensen last year. "We are a commercial company, we can't spend billions, but we spend what it takes within reasonable bounds."

Frank would not say how many people steal from Bell only that it was "speculative to try and figure it out. But the illegal reception is well within industry bounds."

So far, Bell's electronic countermeasures with a new encryption route introduced last November, seem to be working, blocking access to many channels. DISH Network is also in the process of migrating to the new system.

But hackers have been here before. Hacker groups are currently working on the new system, and some feel it is only a matter of time before the code is broken.

Meanwhile, one final route that would have a powerful deterrent effect is to go after consumers who steal signal.

In a get-tough policy, Bell has targeted end users by threatening legal action against customers who have been sold FTA receivers and are registered members of websites that promote piracy.

"We are contacting you because the operation or possession of illegal signal theft equipment to access Bell ExpressVu's programming constitutes a violation," says a letter sent to customers of a distributor selling satellite equipment.

The letter states that Bell is willing to drop legal proceedings if the user pays a $1,000 fine and hands over the equipment to Bell.

But the new tactics aren't scaring some pirates.

"They'll have to pry the remote control out of my hands before I give it up," says James

Ron Silver, 62 : Award-Winning Actor And Activist

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Bob Tourtellotte, Reuters

(March 16, 2009) LOS ANGELES — Award-winning actor and activist Ron Silver, who was Emmy-nominated for his role on the hit U.S. television drama The West Wing, died on Sunday of cancer. He was 62.

“Ron Silver died peacefully in his sleep with his family around him early Sunday morning,” said Robin Bronk, executive director of the Creative Coalition, which Silver helped found.

Bronk said Silver was with his family in New York and he had been fighting esophageal cancer for two years.

Bronk called Silver not only a very talented actor, but a champion of free speech and artists' rights.

New York-based Creative Coalition is an art-oriented political group founded in 1989 by Silver, Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon, among others.

Silver, who won Broadway's 1988 Tony Award for his work in David Mamet's drama Speed the Plow, had been a long-time liberal activist, but after the Sept. 11 attacks became an outspoken supporter of Republican president George W. Bush.

He was a featured speaker at the 2004 Republican National Convention, sometimes called himself a “9/11 Republican” and switched his party affiliation from Democrat to independent.

Silver said his shift in politics cost him jobs in liberal Hollywood, yet he remained sought out for his skills as a character actor.

His portrayal of White House strategist Bruno Gianelli on The West Wing was perhaps his best known part in recent years, but he earned another Emmy nomination for the murder thriller Billionaire Boys Club.

He had roles on the TV hospital drama Chicago Hope and the comedy Veronica's Closet, and he won acclaim for playing lawyer Alan Dershowitz in the film Reversal of Fortune.

Born and raised in New York, his father worked in the garment industry and his mother was a teacher. He earned a master's degree in Chinese history from St. John's University in New York and studied drama at the Actors Studio. Silver and ex-wife Lynne Miller had a son and a daughter.

Glenn Close Loves Playing 'Delicious' Patty Hewes

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

(March 17, 2009) NEW YORK–Dressed in an elegant black suit and striding confidently into the Directors Guild of America building in Manhattan, Glenn Close looks every inch the driven, high-stakes lawyer she portrays in the television series Damages.

But appearances, she is quick to point out, are deceptive.

"I'm not Patty Hewes at all," she says as she settles into a chair in the building's meeting room. "I don't have that toughness that she has." Then she pauses. "Well, I'm tough, but not that tough."

The layered, twisting Damages, now in its second season seen Sunday nights on Showcase at 10, marks a triumphant return to television for the 61-year-old actor, who last year won both Emmy and Golden Globe awards for her portrayal of the icy, ruthless Hewes.

Her previous venture into television in the police drama The Shield earned her an Emmy nomination, but she left the series after the first season to return to New York and her family.

Damages is filmed in the city and allows her to be with her husband of three years, David Shaw, a biotechnology entrepreneur, and near her 20-year-old college student daughter, Annie.

The show, which had seven Emmy nominations last year, is a perfect vehicle for the versatile Close, who revels in her character's machinations, proving that a mature woman can be sexy, complex and carry a show.

Last season, Hewes brought down the evil billionaire Arthur Frobisher, played by Ted Danson, while her protégée, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), had to deal with her belief that Patty tried to have her killed.

"I feel very comfortable with Patty Hewes," said Close.

"I don't think I'm playing an evil character; evil's a strong word. Manipulative? Yes. Wanting to win? Yes.

"She is an incredibly delicious character and I think the fascination with her – and what I like about her – is that as devious as she can be, she is still a kind of role model because she is in control of her own destiny. She's at the top of her profession and takes no prisoners. I think what also draws people in to her is there are so many secrets. She has a very, very private side."

Now in its second season, the Damages cast has expanded to include two Oscar winners, William Hurt, with whom Close appeared 26 years ago in The Big Chill, and Marcia Gay Harden.

An added bonus for Close is she can take her two terriers, Bill and Jake, to the set and they wait just outside camera range during her scenes.

"They come to work with me every day and I get a big kick out of it," she said.

"They keep me amused on long days of work and they really add to the quality of life around the set, you know. They wander around and it really makes a big difference on a long day. You can just look at your dog and laugh.

"I was going to bring them with me today, but I didn't want to end up covered with white dog hair."

Dog-lover Close and her husband recently launched online canine supply retailer FetchDog, which donates a percentage of each sale to charity.

She also spends much of her free time helping people with mental illness, having recently revealed that she has a family member who suffers from bipolar disorder and another who is schizophrenic.

Helping others is something Close was brought up with. In 1960, her surgeon father William, a former World War II pilot, moved to what was then the Belgian Congo and later Zaire, to work at a hospital there.

"We didn't see him for a year because it was too dangerous," she said. "I went out there several times and it was an amazing experience."

Dr. Close provided food and medicine to refugees during the civil war there and then helped the country battle the first outbreak of the Ebola virus, which no one had heard of at that time.

When her father told her about his experiences several years later, she visited the African mission where Ebola broke out and saw the graves of the people who had died.

She wanted to produce a movie based on her father's story, but Hollywood beat her to it with Outbreak which, she said, had nothing to do with the true story.

Close spent her early years in Greenwich, Conn., and after graduating from high school, spent several years touring with the singing group Up With People before attending drama school.

She made her breakthrough on Broadway with a supporting role in the musical Barnum. She was seen by director George Roy Hill, who cast her in The World According to Garp, which earned her first Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.

Since then, she has divided her working life between the stage, television and movies, winning three Tony awards and earning five more Oscar nominations.

She has a movie, the period drama The Persistence of Memory, awaiting release and she is hoping Patty's Damages machinations will continue to both fascinate and appal viewers for several years to come.

"It's like living a novel; its a huge adventure."

Another Good Sitcom Comes Alive

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(March 18, 2009) Reports of the death of the American sitcom have been greatly exaggerated. Again.

Indeed, it suddenly seems to be enjoying something of a renaissance, which continues with tonight's 8:30 debut of ABC's wryly ridiculous
Better Off Ted.

Imagine, if you will, the crossbred love-child of The Office and Arrested Development, with its wonky workplace setting and the more sophisticated, single-camera shooting style of, well, just about every successful prime-time comedy since Ally McBeal.

And, as if to cinch the deal, we have, ensconced in a corner office, McBeal and Arrested co-star
Portia de Rossi, ably backing up the series lead, relative newcomer Jay Harrington, a button-down ringer for Mad Man Jon Hamm.

Ted has yet another familiar face, a veteran of the more traditional, multi-camera, studio audience sitcom: Andrea Anders from Joey, the deservedly short-lived Friends spinoff, and The Class, a vastly better show that didn't even last as long.

"The last two shows I did were multi-camera," Anders allows. "And that schedule is child's play. The federal government should probably look into it. It's a ridiculous amount of money for not doing very much.

"This medium is quite a bit more gruelling. There's a lot of hours put in. But there's also something different ... there's something more satisfying about this particular process. As an actor, you know, as an artist, if I may, you feel more fulfilled."

Apparently, so does the audience watching, having enthusiastically embraced the new-model sitcom in the wake of the "must-see" era of Seinfeld, Friends and Will & Grace (and, before that, the halcyon heyday of Cosby, Cheers, Roseanne and Home Improvement).

ABC is back next week – Thursday the 26th at 8 p.m. – with yet another new single-camera show, In the Motherhood, which has also cherry-picked its cast from the best of comedy and cable, with Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm ex Cheryl Hines and, promisingly depicted in ads clutching a familiar, Karen-style cocktail, Will & Grace's lovable lush, Megan Mullally.

"I play this character Rosemary and she has a (perfect) teenage son," Mullally elaborates. "But she has no parenting skills whatsoever. So Cheryl and Jessica (St. Clair)'s characters are completely at a loss, and they're always mad at me ...

"There's kind of a devil-may-care attitude. (She)'s a little bit rock and roll, kind of frozen in time. She's kind of a badass, as opposed to Karen, who was very much a lady. So it's a little bit different and a little the same."

The emotionless executrix de Rossi plays on Better Off Ted more subtly echoes her popular Ally and Arrested roles.

"I'm really attracted to strong women," she begins, realizing mid-sentence the unintended association to her same-sex significant other, Ellen DeGeneres.

"Um, let me rephrase that ...

"I've got to tell you, (this) is my favourite character I've ever played, bar none. I just love her sensibility. I love how cold and uncaring she appears to be, and how focused she is. She's just a very fun, interesting character for me to play."

But let us not bury the old, traditionally testosterone-fuelled studio sitcom just yet – not while Chuck Lorre is alive and kicking.

The veteran sitcom scribe, perhaps in response to having been consecutively canned by three of the most volatile women in television – Roseanne's Roseanne, Cybill's Cybill Shepherd and Brett Butler of Grace Under Fire (though when I asked him, he denied it) – is the creator/producer of two old-school sitcom hits, the sophomore Big Bang Theory and its enduring sked-mate, Two and a Half Men.

There is also, sandwiched in between them Monday nights on CTV (and, unfortunately, in direct competition tonight opposite Ted on CBS), the snappy divorce comedy Gary Unmarried, a kind of dark-side Old Christine peerlessly directed by James Burrows, multi-camera master of everything from Mary Tyler Moore to Friends.


Obama To Appear On Tonight Show

www.thestar.com - The Associated Press

(March 16, 2009) WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama has landed a spot on Jay Leno'slate-night talk show, a chance for the president to add a light touch to his effort to get the economy back on track. NBC says it will be the first time a sitting president has appeared on such a program. The White House said Monday that Obama will visit The Tonight Show With Jay Leno during his trip to Los Angeles on Thursday. NBC will tape the program and then air it that night, after Obama has returned to Washington. Presidential candidates, Obama among them, have appeared on talk shows during their campaigns.


Actress Richardson Critical After Quebec Ski Accident

Source: www.thestar.com - Precious Yutangco, Staff Reporter

(March 17, 2009) MONTREAL – Tony-award-winning actress Natasha Richardson was taken to a Montreal hospital with a serious head injury she suffered during a skiing accident at Mont Tremblant on Monday, according to published reports.

IrishCentral.com and People.com report Richardson, the daughter of actress Vanessa Redgrave and wife of Liam Neeson, was in critical condition at Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal.

Neeson was in Toronto on the set of his new movie Chloe, but left for Montreal when he learned of the accident, an unnamed representative told CTV.

"Liam Neeson left the Toronto set immediately to fly to Montreal upon news of his wife's accident," said the representative.

"We do not have any details but we hope for the best and our thoughts and prayers are with Natasha and Liam and their family."

Details surrounding the 45-year-old actress' condition remain scarce.

Late last night, a nurse from McGill University Health Centre told the Star that Richardson was not under their care but was fairly certain she had been transported to Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal.

However, a nurse at Sacré-Coeur said she "did not have anyone by that name on (her) list."

A hospital representative initially told the Canadian Press they had admitted a patient named Richardson but later said they did not have a Natasha Richardson.

Reports from People magazine say the actress was initially taken to Centre Hospitalier Laurentien, near the ski lodge at Tremblant, which is about 130 kilometres northwest of Montreal, but was transported to Sacré-Coeur at around 5 p.m.

This morning, Mont Tremblant's municipal police told the Star they were not called to the accident scene and did not have any information on Richardson's status nor had they confirmed whether the incident occurred at all.

IrishCentral.com, the online news agency that reportedly made the initial report, claims they confirmed her condition through an unnamed source inside one of the hospitals she was taken to.

Richardson, an acclaimed actress of both screen and stage, was born in London to Redgrave and British director Tony Richardson.

Her training at London's Central School of Speech and Drama initially led to a career in regional theatre, then later to film and television roles.

Richardson won a Tony award in 1998 for her turn in Cabaret. Film credits include The Parent Trap, The Handmaid's Tale and Evening.

Richardson and Redgrave are reportedly slated to star in a 2010 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music.

Richardson has been married to Schindler's List star Neeson since 1994. The couple have two sons.

With files from Canadian Press

Fonda's No Diva, Her Play Co-Stars Say

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

(March 16, 2009) NEW YORK–The big news in the Big Apple this week is
33 Variations, the play in which Jane Fonda made a triumphant return to the Broadway stage after 46 years.

Fonda's elegant and nuanced characterization is worth cheering about, but there are other things that deserve commendation as well.

Two of them are the beautifully sensitive performances of Colin Hanks and Samantha Mathis, who play a pair of decidedly different caregivers in Fonda's life.

Fonda's character is Katherine Brandt, an eminent but personally difficult musicologist who is racing to assemble a thesis on why Beethoven spent some of his final years working on a series of variations on a piano piece by Anton Diabelli.

What complicates matters is that Fonda is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease and is leaving a lot of personal baggage behind her.

That's where Hanks and Mathis come in. He portrays Mike, her sympathetic nurse, while Mathis is Clara, her alienated daughter.

In the wonderfully complex structure of Moisés Kaufman's play, these two strangers, whose only common link is a devotion to the overbearing Katherine, carve a tender relationship between them that gives the already heady play one more level of resonance.

"As soon as I read the script, I knew it was good and incredibly smart and beautiful," says Hanks, unwinding before a recent matinee.

Hanks, 31, is the son of superstar Tom Hanks, but he's also been carving out his own career path for quite a while now, and fans of subtle acting have been cheering his recent work as the conflicted Father Gill on the hot series Mad Men.

To Hanks, the major issue in the play is not the patient/nurse dialectic he shares with Fonda, but the far trickier romantic one he negotiates with Mathis and how he ultimately helps Fonda and her daughter make contact.

"That's the watermark for me," he says. "I can chart everything off of that."

The briskly intelligent Mathis has her own take on the story, although she admits that she plays it "scene by scene. That's the only thing you can do."

She's had a varied career on TV and film, including a memorable turn in American Psycho, but she made a decision to move to New York and onto the stage, "where it wasn't always the same 10 women auditioning for the same parts over and over again."

This script gives her something she feels she can really grab onto. "My character feels that my mother never understood me. As a musicologist, she had been almost myopically focused on her career path and that's why someone like Mike comes along like a gift to her."

Any play brings its quota of psychic baggage and 33 Variations is no exception. Dealing with the imminent death of an older woman one is close to touches psychological bases for both of these actors.

Mathis allows that even though her mother died 13 years ago, "her death is always present with me, some nights more than others."

Hanks, whose mother Samantha Lewes, Tom Hanks' first wife, died when he was 24, speaks quietly. "I think any actor is going to use whatever experience they have with their parents in dealing with a script as complex as this. You need all the hand-holds you can get."

Hanks comes off as a truly nice guy when he discusses how conflicted his character feels about entering into a relationship with the daughter of a woman he's providing medical care for.

"Mike wouldn't just jump into this with reckless abandon," he says.

"There have to be personal standards of decency. He hesitates over how egotistical of him it is to insert himself into this woman's life at such a difficult time for her."

Mathis agrees that, "Mike is a rock for Clara. He's good for her. He cares for her."

Then comes the ultimate question. Katherine Brandt is a demanding superstar. So is Fonda. Has it been a similar experience to work with the woman and the character?

"Absolutely not!" insists Mathis. "Jane is just so much more accessible and approachable than Katherine. She doesn't think she has all the answers. She's a seeker."

Hanks sums it up in a voice filled with warmth and affection.

"Jane is witty. She's funny. She cracks jokes that are bluer than you might expect from her. She's not a judgmental person.

"She comes from a place of wanting to know more. She's looked at her past and said, `Maybe I could have done this or that differently,' but she now knows she's in this beautiful time of life where she tries things and relishes them."

Dig Deeper For Missing's True Mystery

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

(March 12, 2009) On one level, Florence Gibson's latest play, Missing, which opens at Factory Theatre tonight, is simply about a woman who disappears from her farmhouse in rural Ontario back in 1974.

But if you look deeper, it's another chapter in the ongoing story of Gibson, who pulled the same kind of disappearing act herself, when she chose to abandon a successful career as a country doctor to become a big-city playwright.

"I didn't leave by myself," she says with a laugh on a day off from rehearsal. "I dragged my whole family along with me, and though it was hard for them, they came."

An examination of the major plays Gibson has written since her career change reveals that indeed she has been telling and retelling in different forms the stories of "women who don't find what they need."

The title character of Belle breaks out from the slave-bound world of the South in search of a new freedom, while Esme in Home is My Road returns to the Eastern European country of her birth to discover her true roots.

Now we have Evelyn, a woman who just vanishes from her farmhouse kitchen, leaving her purse on the table.

"I guess it all started back in 2000, when Sally Han came to me with a file of material on a woman who went missing and asked if I'd want to write a radio play about her," Gibson recalls.

Gibson's instantaneous answer revealed a lot about her motives. "I said I'd only want to write it if she vanished of her own volition."

While admitting that the current piece works as a thriller ("It has a definite element of mystery: who is she? Why has she gone missing? Is she still alive?"), it's obvious that there's a lot more on Gibson's mind than a simple whodunit.

"I live in the world of theatrical conceits," she declares. "There always has to be conflict. Someone once said that `Every woman thinks about leaving at least once a week,' and the further that what we have is from what we need, the more likely that departure will be."

The small-town roots of the play resonate for Gibson on a variety of levels. She speaks of growing up in Cobourg, "in a house full of boys in a town that was paved with baseball diamonds and hockey rinks.

"I learned early on that there was a fourth dimension I could escape into quite easily," says Gibson dreamily, "and after a while, it becomes such a disconnect that it gets to be a physical world you want to escape into as well."

Gibson became a doctor, which she perceived as her way free from the stifling life she was living, and indeed, her career took her to Inuvik, Hong Kong and Africa but, as she dryly puts it, "the long arm of destiny" reached out and brought her, her husband and their two daughters back to Port Hope, Ont.

After five years there, Gibson was turning 40 and the pull of writing for the theatre had grown so strong she knew it was time for that part of her life to go "missing." That's when the move to Toronto happened and her career began in earnest.

"There's a lot of my life that's about searching, a lot about me closing doors. I guess that was bound to wind up in my plays," she says.

So when you pay a visit to Missing and hear the small-town gossips discussing what happened to their vanished neighbour, be well aware that they could be talking about Florence Gibson, or even about you.

Just the facts
WHAT: Missing

WHEN: Tonight to April 5

WHERE: Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St.

TICKETS: $20 to $30 at 416-504-9971 or factorytheatre.ca

Getting The Jump On Spring : Spring Awakening, The Canon's New Musical

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

(March 14, 2009)  Sex and death. It's only right that the two dominating themes of Franz Wedekind's 1891 play about emerging adolescence be united in the experiences that moulded the Tony Award-winning musical that's opening at the Canon Theatre this week.

You probably couldn't find a less likely pair of collaborators than Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater. Sheik is the smooth, handsome pop composer/performer who made it big with his 1996 debut single "Barely Breathing," while Sater is the tightly coiled, hyperintellectual playwright whose work had largely been seen on the fringes of New York theatre.

The two men shared a devotion to Buddhism, however, and met in 1999 on a totally non-professional basis at a Manhattan temple.

"We liked each other right away," recalls Sheik, "I guess that was probably the most important thing."

"We met from the purest of motives," says Sater, "nothing to do with professional networking or anything like that. But we instantly started writing songs together."

"We got along so well that I suggested we create an album together," says Sheik, "but Steven thought that maybe it should be a piece of musical theatre instead."

There's a long pause, followed by a laugh. "I was so not into musical theatre – with visions of Hello, Dolly! – that I said `no' at first. But Steven convinced me we could do a musical that would be relevant to the younger generation."

Sater recalls: "It was 1999, and everyone was thinking millennial thoughts: the way to look forward was to look back with the two centuries commenting on each other."

The project he suggested was
Spring Awakening, a well-known play that had been dogged by censorship since its creation because of the honest way it dealt with adolescent sexuality leading to pregnancy, abortion and death.

"I believe in a deep way in this story," says Sater, "it went right through to my heart."

That's not surprising, considering what happened to him in college. One night, the building he was living in caught on fire, and he barely escaped.

"I'll never forget that night," he says in a hushed but intense voice. "I reached the moment when I knew I would have to either jump out the window or die in the flames. That accident, that part of my life, is so much a part of me that it informs everything I do."

While that kind of once-in-a-lifetime intensity marked the life of Sater, Sheik was living through a day-by-day experience on his California college campus that left him with emotional baggage as well.

"It's so strange to remember it now," he says. "I thought I had a reasonably successful sex life, but I was rooming with guys who were so impossibly handsome and rich that whatever I attained paled totally in significance to them and I felt like a failure."

Years later, the two men sat down to turn Wedekind's work into a musical, and each one wrote for their fictional counterpart.

"I was always Moritz," admits Sater of the show's quirky, off-the-wall anti-hero. "People I knew from years ago came to see the show and saw it and said, `Well, we sure know who Moritz was.'"

Sheik, meanwhile, expanded on the character of Melchior, the seemingly Grade A student who spins off in different sensual directions.

"That was me for sure," he admits, "and I've tried to write Melchior so people could understand him."

The theatricality of the show is what makes it work today, with young actors seemingly rooted in the 1890s but then suddenly pulling out wireless microphones from their jackets and singing musical and lyrical sentiments that are very contemporary.

"I'll never forget the day that (director) Michael Mayer suggested that," says Sater. "It was in the wake of (the) Columbine (school shootings), which gave it a certain urgency that somehow seemed right."

Since Spring Awakening first opened off-Broadway in May of 2006, it attracted a passionate coterie of younger fans who lined up for tickets hours in advance so that they could sit on the stage and get an intimate taste of the production. During the stagehands' strike of 2007, the Broadway cast even performed songs from the show outside the theatre to keep fans engaged.

"I suppose part of the appeal of Spring Awakening," says Sater, "is that everybody watches it from the point of view of their own adolescence. During that time, everything matters so much. It's so enormous, so huge."

And it leads us to the kind of moment where the committed young company sing:

"It's the bitch of living,

With nothing going on.

Just the bitch of living,

Asking: what went wrong?"


Halo Wars' Smart Design Lures You In

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

Halo Wars
Platform: Xbox 306
Rated: T
Price: $69.99
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)

(March 14, 2009)  Disclosure: I'm an RTS noobie. Real-time strategy games passed me by when, years ago, I abandoned PC gaming for the consoles, figuring five-year console generations were a gentler treadmill than the PC nightmare of constant upgrading.

Slate-blank and baggage-free, I'm the very model of the target market for
Halo Wars, the game that's meant to finally deliver us callous-thumbed console gamers into the embrace of the RTS. "Real-time strategy" – the term itself tells you what's involved. You're at war, without the polite pauses for contemplation and consideration offered by a turn-based system; you're making decisions on the fly, ordering units to attack or retreat, while simultaneously managing resources and production.

Success requires perfect multi-tasking at high speed – at the highest levels; RTS gameplay is the hardest of hardcore. The barrier to RTS games' success on consoles has thus always been an issue of control; no matter how slick a control scheme developers come up with, a control pad is never going to be as quick and precise as a PC's mouse-and-keyboard combo.

Halo Wars developers Ensemble Studios – the development house responsible for genre touchstone series Age of Empires; Halo Wars was their last project before they folded late last year – have tried coming at this problem from the demand side. Rather than trying to come up with a way for a console control pad to actuate a full-featured PC-style RTS, they've scaled back the genre until it fit with what console controls are capable of. Resource gathering and management have been greatly simplified, unit advancement streamlined, map size generally reduced, unit selection and control mapped to a few quick control-pad combos ... in short, they made a lot of very intelligent design choices.

The end result is something like the RTS equivalent of the "action role-playing" game. In the same way an action RPG takes the inventory management, questing, levelling-up and stats accounting of a traditional role-playing game, reduces it all to an elemental level and infuses it into a game whose primary intention is to deliver hack-and-slash arcade gameplay, so does Halo Wars simplify the crunchier elements of an RTS in favour of delivering the joys of high-intensity battle.

Halo Wars bets that by splitting the difference it will win over the great mass of gamers that lives between the extremes. A great point in Halo Wars' favour is, well, it's Halo. We love the brand, and Wars delivers a very Halo experience. Spartans and Ghosts and Warthogs, the crack of assault rifles and the sizzle of energy weapons, beautifully bright and lush sci-fi environments, storyline and cut-scenes that build on the ever-growing canon of the Halo mythos while delivering lots of fan service.


Book Biz Unsure About Turning The Page Digitally

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

(March 15, 2009)  Given the ongoing flurry of technological advances in the publishing world, it's not surprising that the most common anecdotes shared by industry players at this year's BookNet Canada Technology Forum concerned the inability to sleep at night or contemplate taking a vacation for fear of falling behind.

The past month alone has seen a half dozen or so developments, most notably the unveiling in the U.S. by Amazon of the second generation of its Kindle e-book reader and the launch here by Indigo of Shortcovers, a new venture that allows readers to purchase and download books or even portions of books to a variety of devices.

No one seems certain where this is all heading, apart from a consensus that change is inevitable, the consumer will be the chief beneficiary and the obituary for the book is not being written just yet.

Any number of scenarios is possible. One dystopian vision of the digital future might see reduced remuneration for authors and publishers, either because the Book Rights Registry agreed to by Google as compensation for putting vast libraries online falls far short of existing royalties enjoyed by copyright holders or because readers find a way to take what they want free, as happened in the music industry. On the retail front, small independent booksellers, already struggling to compete with Indigo on pricing, might be further threatened by an inability to keep pace with the massive chain as innovations take hold. A less apocalyptic view foresees the book and its electronic offspring operating in somewhat parallel universes that allow both to thrive.

At times during the forum, held Thursday at Toronto's Radisson Admiral Hotel, there was palpable tension between open-source advocates who would like to see DRM (digital rights management) barriers removed and those who want proprietary content regulations strengthened, to those who fall somewhere in between.

"None of us wants our intellectual property to be used without recompense," said opening speaker Steve Paxhia, lead analyst for the Boston-based consultancy firm Gilbane Group. "But we do want our intellectual property to be used to serve our readers."

At present, the consumption of books in digitized form has yet to reach 1 per cent of the overall market, with greater growth in some constituencies than others. Romance publisher Harlequin, long a pioneer in servicing its readers electronically, offers several streams of e-books, including a line of bite-sized "mini" titles tailored for lunch-hour reading. Other publishers have yet to wet a toe.

Hardware, it was generally conceded, is no longer a serious issue. Leaving aside the continued unavailability of Kindle in Canada, new, more agile devices continue to proliferate. And then there is the whole multi-use gamut that includes BlackBerry, iPhone and iPod – not e-readers, per se, but capable of doing the job.

Compatibility across platforms remains an obstacle. And then there are cultural inhibitions, particularly for older readers who use the Internet but weren't born to it. Never mind reading a book electronically, less than 10 per cent of the population buys books that way. Many readers, even if they use the Internet to research potential purchases, still go to the book store to seal the deal.

"This is a marketing problem, not a technology problem," said Neelan Choksi, COO of Lexcycle, the creators of the Stanza e-reader for iPhones and Touches.

It has reached the point, Choksi said, where the acceleration of electronic publishing is less dependent on more user-friendly devices than it is on further endorsements from the likes of Oprah, who has publicly proclaimed her love for Kindle.

"The future – and it's happening now – is about bringing your content to a person whenever they want on whatever they decide they want it on," said Paxhia.

"I might choose to read things on my laptop or my Kindle or my iPhone. If I'm reading a book online about Istanbul, I can go to a map or search for other information. You can't do that with a book.

"But if I'm on a beach in Nantucket I'll read a book."


Lepage Makes Dance Debut With Cross-Dressing Spy

www.globeandmail.com - Elizabeth Renzetti

Conceived and performed by Sylvie Guillem, Robert Lepage and Russell Maliphant
At Sadler's Wells Theatre In London

(March 16, 2009) The world premiere of Eonnagata at Sadler's Wells in London sold out before a single toe was placed in the spotlight, so it's fair to say there was a certain anticipation in the air. A trio of great talents on stage, a fourth providing their costumes, a fifth creating a living world out of light - the bar was set somewhere near the moon.

Yet I was genuinely shocked when, at the end of the performance, at least a quarter of the people in the row ahead of me didn't applaud. A few others did something even more unexpected - they slow-clapped, a dire insult. I've never seen that before in the theatre, and it made me wonder if the bar was set so high that these performers couldn't possibly get over it, even on their six famous legs.

Quebec's Robert Lepage, having cycloned through the worlds of theatre and opera, makes his dance debut, and does it admirably considering that he's 51 and that he's sharing the stage with Sylvie Guillem, star of ballet and modern dance, and Russell Maliphant, a celebrated choreographer.

Together, the trio make up one confused old-time spy: Eonnagata tells, sometimes opaquely, the true story of Charles de Beaumont, Chevalier d'Eon, an 18th-century soldier, diplomat and secret agent.

Sometimes the Chevalier performed these tasks as a man, but more often as a woman. He was the Enlightenment's cross-dressing James Bond.

Of course, this sexual ambiguity is catnip for three daring performers, whose task is further complicated by the decision to combine modern dance with onnagata, the kabuki tradition of having men play women's roles.

Guillem is particularly adept at suggesting a vain and wilful soul, disdainful of convention .

In one furious solo, Guillem rages above and around her writing desk, her sword transforming into a quill pen and back again - the masculine and feminine tools of the Chevalier's trade.

In case we missed the point, her boyish wiriness is accentuated by a prominent codpiece, and Maliphant's hips with extra padding.

Designer Alexander McQueen's costumes are both sumptuous and restrained - a sheer robe becomes a crumpled sheet of writing paper, a geometric hoop skirt is at once a symbol of femininity and a cage. Michael Hulls, the lighting director, brilliantly hides and illuminates the dancers to suggest the Chevalier's ever-shifting life in the shadows.

While Lepage manages to keep up with the two professional dancers in a quick-paced scene from the Chevalier's early life, as they shoot and slide over a series of desks, he's most effective as the haughty older de Beaumont, in powder and rouge, reduced to a sideshow exhibition of military skills. Here, near the end, the dancers use sticks thrusting into hoops, and while it's charming, the point begins to feel a bit laboured: Two genders aren't really enough to describe our reality; we're all a bit Benny Hill at heart.

With such rich material, such a mind-boggling narrative hidden under its pants/skirt, Eonnagata oddly falters when it comes to telling

its story. The Chevalier remains in death the historical enigma he was at the beginning.

Despite a lukewarm reception, the combination of star power and a story worthy of Ripley's Believe It or Not has ensured that Eonnagata will return for a second run in early summer - and a chance to prove the doubters wrong.

Eonnagata returns to Sadler's Wells in London from June 23-27 (http://www.sadlerswells.com).


Nesbitt Turns Anger To Gold

Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman,
Sports Reporter

(March 15, 2009)  RICHMOND, B.C. – It's a pattern Canadian speed skater Christine Nesbitt has often followed: First, she gets mad. Then, she gets gold.

The 23-year-old from London, Ont., was, in her own words, "pissed off" after Friday's 1,500-metre race at the world single distances speed skating championships.

She'd gotten a bronze, but only after teammate Kristina Groves was disqualified for a lane violation after finishing first. Nesbitt was also upset that she'd faded down the stretch to miss what she considered the real medal spot by five-hundredths of a second.

Looking ahead to yesterday's 1,000-metre race, Nesbitt declared, "I'd just like to show 'em all a lesson."

As they say, hell hath no fury like a speed skater scorned.

Nesbitt came back with a vengeance to win her first world title in the women's 1,000, besting German star Anni Friesinger by four-hundredths of a second with a blazing final lap on the same ice where Olympic gold will be at stake next February.

"On the podium there, I was like, `They're playing the Canadian anthem, you know,'" said Nesbitt. "A year from now if I win, that would be incredible."

It was the first gold of the championships for Canada, which also has two silver and four bronze with one day of competition left.

It turns out Nesbitt's competitive streak was fuelled trying to keep up with her older brother Doug and his buddies.

"I always tried to tag along with him and always tried to compete with him and his friends," she said. "They're guys and they're bigger and stronger than me because they're so much older. I guess it's just me being a real fierce competitor. As much as sometimes I hate it, I can't help but being competitive in every single thing that I do."

Groves, who was a distant ninth in the race, said this is a routine she's seen from Nesbitt before.

"Sometimes when she has a result that she's not happy with, it makes her fight harder the next day," said Groves. "I think that's a little bit what happened today. She two-arms it the whole way in the 1,000. That shows a lot of guts."

Also impressed was Friesinger, who was denied a 13th title at the world single distances to go along with her 55 World Cup wins. It was only the second time in Nesbitt's career that she'd beaten the dominant German skater.

"What I like is she never gives up," said Friesinger. "That's a sign of character and I like it. She goes for it. She's a champ."

Nesbitt didn't feel like a champ when she woke up yesterday morning. The fire in her belly from the day before had been replaced by a bad case of nerves.

But she'd made up her mind to try a new set of tactics in the race. She'd had three World Cup wins earlier in the season and won the World Cup 1,000-metre title, but had struggled of late – partly because of a concussion suffered just over two weeks ago – and was third last weekend at the World Cup final in Salt Lake City.

Nesbitt decided to be more patient and push deeper into the ice with each stride and use her strength "instead of just kind of running on top of it."

When she was ranked 12th overall with 400 metres to go, she still didn't panic.

"I just thought, `Skate my own race. Just keep skating,'" said Nesbitt.

It paid off. She had an incredible last outer turn and back straightaway and, as she crossed the finish line ahead of Friesinger's time, a thought flashed through her head: "I was like, `Oh, that's unreal. Like usually it's me that's losing by four-hundredths,'" said Nesbitt.

Nesbitt isn't worried about the higher expectations that being a world champion might bring heading into the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"That just gives me confidence ... for next year," she said.

Brodeur Sets NHL Record For Career Wins By Goaltender

Source: www.thestar.com - Tom Canavan,
The Associated Press

(March 17, 2009) NEWARK, N.J. – Martin Brodeur stands alone among NHL goaltenders.

Brodeur posted his 552nd win and passed childhood idol and Hall of Famer Patrick Roy for the most career victories in league history. He made 30 saves in the New Jersey Devils' 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.

The victory came in Brodeur's 987th game in a 15-year career played entirely with the Devils.

During that tenure, the likable Brodeur has led the Devils to three Stanley Cups and won four Vezina trophies as the league's top goaltender.

Now he holds the wins record, and others could soon fall. He is within four shutouts of passing Terry Sawchuk (103) for the league record, and at 36 he has a chance to push his win total well beyond 600.

"If this continues being fun, I'll stick around for a long time," Brodeur said during an on-ice interview after the game.

Brodeur tied the mark in an emotional setting, his hometown of Montreal on Saturday night with Roy in attendance.

With family in the crowd in Newark, Brodeur took the ice in front of a full house that cheered him from the warm-up to the final buzzer, mostly with the echoing chant of "Mart-tee, Mart-tee, Mart-tee."

Those cheers turned to "Thank you, Marty" as the clock ticked down. Brodeur preserved the win with one last save in the closing seconds.

"Martin Brodeur is the gold standard of goaltending – the model of character, consistency and commitment to the craft," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a prepared statement. "A champion. A winner above all.

"It is difficult to imagine any player who is more universally, and deservedly, respected," Bettman added. "The National Hockey League is extremely proud of Martin, his historic achievement and his enduring contribution to our game."

Brodeur wasn't the only record-setter on the night for New Jersey. Patrik Elias became the Devils' career leading scorer when he recorded his 702nd point with a perfect pass to set up a short-handed goal by Brian Gionta late in the second period for a 3-0 lead.

The Devils took the pressure off Brodeur early with two goals against Nikolai Khabibulin in the opening 6:01 in extending their record for home wins to 10. Zach Parise set up both, finding Jamie Langenbrunner in the slot 38 seconds after the opening faceoff and then threading a pass through the crease to Travis Zajac at 6:01.

After that it was up to Brodeur to protect the lead and he looked extraordinarily focused in winning for the eighth time in nine games since returning from elbow surgery late in February.

Blackhawks defenseman Cameron Barker got the first Chicago goal, firing a point shot past a totally screened Brodeur on a power play late in the second period. Dustin Byfuglien made it 3-2 with 2:03 left in the game.

The Blackhawks have lost a season-high three straight game, and five of their last six.

Parise and Langenbrunner worked a great give-and-go in the opening minute to put New Jersey ahead. Langenbrunner made a pass from the left boards to Parise streaking down the right side, and Parise then found Langenbrunner alone in front for his 24th goal of the season.

Stationed at the left side of the net, Zajac got a slam-dunk for his 20th goal when Zajac found him at 6:01 as a Blackhawks penalty ended.

Elias led a 2-on-1 with Gionta late in the second period and then pumped his fist after the puck went into the net, allowing Elias to pass assistant coach John MacLean as the team's all-time leading scorer.

Notes: Roy earned his 551 wins in 1,029 games with Montreal and Colorado. ... Chicago has not beaten New Jersey since Oct. 10, 1998. The Blackhawks are 0-8-2-1 in that span. ... Despite the loss, Khabibulin has a 6-3-3 mark against Brodeur. ... Langenbrunner's goal gave him points in nine straight games.


4 Knee-Safe Exercises: Keep Those Joints Healthy

Source: By Raphael Calzadilla, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

(September 25, 2008) Perform an Internet search concerning injuries and you'll find a lot of information about how to treat them. But where are all the articles about attempting to prevent knee injuries?

In the simplest of descriptions, the knee is a joint comprised of three bones and held together by four ligaments. Its job is to support the body and allow for shock absorption. From this description, it's obvious that excess body fat will place tremendous stress on the knees. The first strategy to adopt to prevent knee injuries is to reduce body fat. The second is to perform exercises that strengthen the surrounding muscles of the knees.

Here are several suggested exercises to help prevent knee injury:

Squats build strength in the lower body with an emphasis on the quadriceps (front of the thigh). If one is overweight, then chair squats without the use of weights can be performed. A lowering to a parallel position is not critical for those with excess weight. In fact, a partial lowering may be a better strategy to initially protect the knee while strengthening the quadriceps.

Chair Squat (see the video below)

Starting Position:
--Perform this exercise with the aid of a sturdy chair.
--Stand in front of the chair with your back toward the chair and feet shoulder-width apart.
--Keep your head up as a natural extension of your spine.

--Begin to sit in the chair lowering your body until your legs are at a 90-degree angle (if possible).
--Contracting your quadriceps, slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of the legs being fully extended. Keep a slight bend in the knees.

Key Points:
--Inhale while sitting in the chair.
--Exhale while raising yourself from the chair.
--As you get stronger, you will want to add resistance such as dumbbells in your hands.

Now that we've worked the front of the leg, it's time to hit the rear of the legs -- the hamstrings.

Here's one anyone can do. If you're experienced and have access to gym equipment, you can use the prone leg curl machine. For beginners, try the one below. Again, we are attempting to strengthen surrounding muscles of the knees to reduce stress on the knees.

Lying Double Leg Curl

Starting Position:
--Lie on your stomach with both hands under your head for comfort.
--Ankle weights may be worn to increase intensity.

--Contracting the hamstrings muscles, curl both legs toward your buttocks stopping when your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
--Slowly return to the starting position.

Key Points:
--Exhale while you curl your legs up.
--Inhale while returning to the starting position.

Now we move to the inside of the legs -- also referred to as the adductor muscles. Our goal is to completely strengthen the upper leg to protect those shock absorbers.

Lying Leg Adduction

Starting Position:
--Lie on your right side with your right arm supporting your upper body.
--Your right leg should be straight and your left leg should be bent.
--Support your weight on your right arm and left leg.

• Contracting the inner thigh muscles, lift your right leg up until you feel a contraction of the inner thigh muscles.
• After completing the set on the right side, perform the exercise on the left side.

Key Points:
--Exhale while lifting your leg up.
--Inhale while returning to the starting position.
--You may use ankle weights to increase the level of difficulty.
--If you are an intermediate exerciser, you can add resistance to the inner thigh as you are lifting. You can resist your inner thigh with your hand or use a weighted object.

Now, let's make sure we strengthen the muscles below the knee. People seldom work their calf muscles and this is a critical muscle that helps support the knees.

Standing Calf Raise

Starting Position:
• Stand with your feet 12-inches apart with your weight on the front or balls of the foot and knees slightly bent.
• You may wish to use a chair or wall for stability.

• Contracting the calf muscles, lift your heels off the floor until you feel a full contraction of the calf muscles.
• Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of your heels touching the floor.

Key Points:
• Exhale while lifting yourself up.
• Inhale while returning to the starting position.

Perform the above exercises for one to three sets of 12 repetitions on two to three alternate days of the week and use impeccable form.

The exercises above combined with a nutrition program that focuses on body fat reduction will greatly assist in preventing knee injuries. Make sure to add upper body strength exercises, cardio and flexibility exercises to your program as well.

As always, eDiets members can access the animated virtual trainer on the fitness program to view a demo of the above exercises.

Need help putting together the proper nutrition program? eDiets nutrition specialists are just a phone call away and happy to help! Call 866-756-0510 to reach them! Or, get more information about healthy diet plans with our diet report cards.

Please check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.


Motivational Note

Source: www.eurweb.com — Marianne Williamson

"In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it."