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October 8, 2009

Thanksgiving weekend ... enjoy the feasting, family and friends.  I know it can be a busy time but try to take some time to tell those whom you are thankful for, why you're thankful for them.  And for those that challenge us, be thankful for them too!  HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!

I have failed to mention for the past couple of weeks that I have some new photos in my PHOTO GALLERY from various events around the Toronto International Film Festival - so check them out!  Be proud of some of our local talent and celebs!

Please take the time to read the moving, shocking and compelling story of abuse that Tyler Perry confesses and which drew him to the movie Precious. Just when I thought I couldn't adore this man any more ....

Need some more friends on Facebook guys -  add me on


Irie Food Joint Closing - Sat. October 10th; Harlem Underground Opening

In 2005, Carl Cassell finished building Irie Food Joint.  By 2005, he had met so many musicians and artists and there was this constant need to have live music in the space … a limitation that he had not foreseen.  Harlem was born out of that need.  So, he is returning home to Irie, tweaking it for a while (read: renos!) and will re-open it as The Harlem Underground.  As a hint of what is to come, check out the patio at Harlem. Says Carl “I am taking graffiti indoors like it’s never been done before and you will get to leave your mark.”
So, in order to say ‘goodbye’ officially to Irie Food Joint, which has served us so well over the years, we ask that you join Carl and the crew on Saturday, October 10th to celebrate all good times under that roof and all the more to come as Harlem Underground.

The party gets going at 9pm
Music by The Invincible DJ Carl Allen


Tyler Perry Details His Own Childhood Abuse

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(October 06, 2009) *Tyler Perry's latest e-mail message to fans explains his attraction to the film "Precious," which he is executive producing along with Oprah Winfrey.

The film, which arrives in theatres Nov. 6, tells the story of a 16-year-old Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a high-school student with nothing working in her favour. She is pregnant with her father's child—for the second time. She can't read or write, and her schoolmates tease her for being overweight.

Her home life is ruled by a mother (Mo'Nique) who keeps her imprisoned both emotionally and physically. Precious's instincts tell her one thing: if she's ever going to break from the chains of ignorance, she will have to dig deeply into her own resources.

The film's message struck a chord with Perry, who also had to overcome horrific obstacles in his childhood. Below is an excerpt from his latest e-mail message. [Read the entire version here: http://www.tylerperry.com/_Messages/]  

I'm tired of holding this in. I don't know what to do with it anymore, so, I've decided to give some of it away...

Memories at 40: Not long ago, I was asked to speak at an engagement. I walked in and I was told that they had assigned a person to take care of me while I was there. She walked up to me, all of 5'2" of her, and asked if I needed anything. I looked at her and started to sweat. It took me back thirty-something years to her apartment. I couldn't have been more than 10 years old when I went over to play with her son and Matchbox cars.

She opened the door in skimpy lingerie. There was a man sitting on the couch, smoking. She told me that her son was in the bedroom. I was there playing with him about 20 minutes when I heard the man arguing with her. He said he was leaving and slammed the door. She came into the bedroom and told me that I had to go home. She told her son to take a bath and she locked him in the bathroom. I was at the front door trying to get out, when she came in and laid on the sofa and asked me if I wanted the key. I told her I had to go home as it was getting dark. She put the key inside of herself and told me to come get it, pulling me on top of her.

Memories at 40: "What the f*#K are you reading books for?! That's bull*#*T!"

"You F*#*ing jackass! You got book sense but you ain't got no mothaf*#*en common sense! You ain't sh*t and ain't never gonna be sh*t!" I heard this every day of my childhood. As my father would beat and belittle me, he played all kinds of mind games with me. He knew I loved cookies as a kid, most kids do. So he would buy them and put them on top of the fridge and when I would eat them he would beat me mercilessly.

My mother was out one night, as she loved to play bingo, and my father came home...mad at the world. He was drunk, as he was most of the time. He got the vacuum cleaner extension cord and trapped me in a room and beat me until the skin was coming off my back. To this day, I don't know what would make a person do something like that to a child. But thank God that in my mind, I left. I didn't feel it anymore, just like in PRECIOUS. How this girl would leave in her mind. I learned to use my gift, as it was my imagination that let me escape.  After he was done with his rant he passed out. Since my aunt lived two doors down, I ran to her. She saw me and was horrified. She loaded her 357 and went to kill him. Holding a gun to his head, her husband came and stopped her.

Memories at 40: I got a call not long ago from a friend. He told me that a man that I knew from church when I was a kid had died and he didn't have any insurance. His family was trying to reach out to me to see if I would pay for his funeral. I quickly said no, but I wish I would have said yes.

There is something so powerful to me in burying the man that molested me.

I wish I would have dug the grave myself.

Memories at 40: I was about 8 or 9 years old. I had a crush on a little girl across the street. She would come over to my house and we'd play. She was about 12 or 13. One day she stopped coming and when I asked her why, she told me that my father was touching her. I didn't believe her, so I talked her into staying one night. We were both asleep -- she was in one bed and I was in another. I opened my eyes to see my father trying to touch her and her pushing him away. I moved in my bed trying to make him think I was waking up. He looked over at me and left out of the room. Not long after that, he beat me mercilessly for something again. Another mind game set up, so I told my mother what he had done. The blood drained from her face. We left that day. We were at my Aunt's house and he came there about 1am. Not long after that we were back at home. Nothing would compare to the random, drunken, violent beatings I would receive from then until I was 19.

Memories at 40: We would spend the summers in the country, with my father's adoptive mother. As a kid I was always sick. I had asthma and he hated it. He hated that I wasn't strong and viral like him. He hated that I couldn't be in the sawdust, pollen and the raw lumber like him. He hated that I liked to read and write and draw. He hated that me and my middle sister were darker-skinned than him. He didn't think he could make a dark baby. He just hated everything about me I guess. Anyway, I had to go to the doctor every Tuesday to get shots to control my allergies. When his mother found out she said, "Ain't nothing wrong with that damn boy...he just got germs on him. Stop wasting all that money." When my mother left to visit some friends I heard what sounded like water running in a tub but it was sporadic. She came and got me out of the living room leaving my Matchbox cars on the floor. She said she was going to kill these germs on me once and for all. She gave me a bath in ammonia.

Grateful at 40: I was asked recently how I made it through all of this, (half has not even been told) and my answer to that is...I know for a fact that there is a GOD. When my father would say or do those things to me, I would hear this voice inside of me say, "That's not true" or, "Don't believe that" or, "You're going to make it through this". I didn't know at the time what "it" was, but today I surely have no doubt that "it" was GOD. That voice always gave me comfort. It allowed me to hold on. It kept me from being strung out on drugs, from dying when I wanted to commit suicide. It kept me from being a gang banger or drug dealer. Worse than all of those things put together, it kept me from being him. It brought angels to comfort me after every foul, harsh word or every welt on my legs or back.  GOD, only GOD.

Jann Arden Delivers On The Love Drama Her Music Is Known For

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

(October 04, 2009) It may be her tenth album, but Calgary singer/songwriter Jann Arden, who was in Toronto when Free was released last Tuesday, gave its debut the same regard as its predecessors.

"I walked down Yonge St. to HMV and bought three copies," said the performer in an interview at a nearby hotel a few hours later.

"I do every time I have a record come out. And I just leave it in the wrapper with the receipt on it, so I can see which day I bought it.

"It was funny because my credit card was declined ... I used another credit card, but I was like `Ha, sorry.' (The clerk) said `We'll give it to you at cost.' And I said `No, I'll pay the full price. I want everyone to win.'"

The disc is Arden's first collection of original material since sorting out business woes that resulted in the dissolvement of her management company. It was recorded primarily in Nashville, where she collaborated with local writers and pedal guitar, dobro, banjo and mandolin players who contribute to the album's lushness.

Though she said the songs were not borne of any personal heartbreak, Arden, 47, who describes herself as "in between relationships" delivers on the love drama for which she is noted.

"There could be some residual stuff that creeps in," said the wise-cracking entertainer, "because I can be perfectly fine and content, which I certainly am right now, but when I sit down to write I can have every intention of rocking and rolling, next thing you know my pen's going this way and that and I enjoy it, so I don't try and wrestle with it too much."

The singer, who hits Massey Hall on Jan. 27 and 28 with a new band, was a bit peeved by an early review that criticized her for always focusing on coupledom.

"I don't want to recreate myself. I'm happy to have the niche that I have and do what I do. I can't force myself to be Madonna. I think, `Someone's got to do what I do, why not me?'

"I don't know what they expect: a haircut, or you re-invent who you are? And I never will. I will always write about relationships. I don't know what else is pertinent or important.

"What am I supposed to write about: gum, or your purse or `The couch was so nice we sat on it all day?' If you listen to U2 or Coldplay or anything else, I challenge you to tell me that those aren't relationship driven songs – she left him/He left her/ He left him ...

Arden is particularly proud of the ballad "All the Days." "It's kind of, not an obituary – that sounds way too morbid – but it's someone, hopefully it's me, as an old person looking back and reflecting about life. It wasn't perfect, but that the things were most important to me were people and the people that I loved and remembering them.

"It's very simple little things like that that you write down and you just have faith that they can stand on their own and I try not to pick them apart too much. I wanted to be a schoolteacher. I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity in the last two and a half decades to do something like this."

She recalled an encounter with a stranger who wasn't a fan of her music.

"I was having a cup of tea sitting outside at this restaurant. This guy went by me and then he came back. I thought he was going to ask for a buck or something.

"He said `Hey you're that singer ... I hate your music, but you know what? I really like you. You're really cool in interviews and stuff. Okay, have a good day.' And he just flits off.

"But I appreciate that. He actually made my day. `Thank you for making the separation, I can take that.' It would have killed me for him to say `I love your music, but I don't like you.'"

Whip It: Juno Joins The Roller Derby

www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard, Movies Editor

Whip It
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 4)
Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden and Andrew Wilson. Directed by Drew Barrymore. 151 minutes. At major theatres. PG

(October 02, 2009)
Whip It, Drew Barrymore's fledgling outing as a director, stars Ellen Page in an engaging, affirming tale that's more sk8r grl saga than hell-on-wheels ride. Think of it as Juno laces up and joins the roller derby.

Despite a thin, predictable script courtesy of Shauna Cross's source novel Derby Girl, there's something very likeable about Whip It and its strong, sometimes goofily sweet female cast, especially the way they all roll together. There's also enough down-and-dirty derby action to satisfy and a wide-ranging rocking soundtrack – which includes Landon Pigg, who makes a less-than-impressive movie debut as Page's love interest – to keep things rolling.

Halifax-born Page is adorable as clever and quirky small-town Texan Bliss Cavendar. She may only be 17, but Bliss knows she wants more out of life than reliving her mother's faded-past dreams of beauty pageant glory.

In a return to Juno MacGuff territory – minus the pregnancy and some of the sass – Bliss is a serious, aimless, social misfit who's too smart for her tiny town. By day, she's in high school and night and weekends she's toiling at the local barbecue pit, the one with the big pig on the roof.

In between, her mom (Marcia Gay Harden) grooms her for the Miss Bluebell Pageant, an event Bliss approaches like one making the long walk to the gallows.

Once she sees some rough-and-ready roller derby gals in action – teams like the Fight Attendants and the Black Widows – tearing it up in a warehouse in nearby Austin, Bliss eagerly chooses the track over tiaras.

These tattooed and tough skaters also have their soft side and at the urging of maternal type Maggie Mayhem (Kristin Wiig), Bliss straps on her Barbie wheels and learns to skate.

The only thing in Bliss's way is her age (you need to be 21 to sign up) and getting around her parents. Crafty lies take care of both. Since Bliss is so darned endearing, we can't fault her for either if it helps her end up as Babe Ruthless, the newest member of the Hurl Scouts.

The sassy names these high rollers adopt form a running gag in the flick – such as the hopeful who announces her derby handle is "Jabba the Slut."

Babe Ruthless morphs into an aggressive derby doll who can more than keep up with teammates Bloody Holly (Zoë Bell), Rosa Sparks (Eve) and the delightfully vague party maniac, Smashley Simpson (Barrymore).

Meanwhile, Bliss relies on the support of her best friend, Pash (Arrested Development's Alia Shawkat) and finds romance with a cutie named Oliver (Pigg).

The Hurl Scouts seem content to be in the league basement, much to the chagrin of their determined oddball coach Razor (Andrew Wilson, the Wilson brother who got the acting talent in the family).

That's not the plan for Iron Maven, the top skater with the Holy Rollers, who's out to give the young upstart Bliss her comeuppance. Casting Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers; Cape Fear) as the just-this-side-of-crazy Maven was genius. After a three-year hiatus to work on her musical career, it's good to see the talented Lewis back onscreen, a standout in a sea of strong females.

Whip It does best when it hones in on the skating sisterhood and the changing, challenging relationship between Bliss and her mother, reminding us of a universal truth: When an enforcer named Black Eyed Skeez sends you flat on your ass, get up and skate.

Lady Gaga To Tour Without Kanye West

Source:  www.thestar.com -
Associated Press

(October 05, 2009) Lady Gaga isn't letting her ill-fated tour with Kanye West keep her from her fans. A day after her joint tour with the rapper was cancelled, the pop star said she'll be hitting the road solo. The West and Lady Gaga tour was supposed to kick off Nov. 10 in Phoenix. Lady Gaga said the two "mutually decided to cancel the tour." She says West is "going to take some time off, but I'm not." Gaga says her tour will start in mid-November. She made the comments before accepting the Rising Star honour at Billboard's annual Women in Music event Friday. Beyoncé was honoured as Woman of the Year.

Kanye West And Lady Gaga Tour Cancelled

Source: www.thestar.com - Nekesa Mumbi Moody,
The Associated Press

(October 01, 2009) NEW YORK–Kanye West and Lady Gaga's highly anticipated tour is over before it even began.

Just days after announcing dates for an ambitious joint show that was to kick off next month, the tour was cancelled.

Live Nation announced the news in a brief statement Thursday that did not offer any explanation. Refunds are available for those who brought tickets for the tour. It was to kick off Nov. 10 in Phoenix and was scheduled to run through at least January.

The name of the tour was to be "Fame Kills" – a sentiment West may have been feeling in recent weeks. The Grammy-winning rapper has endured a firestorm of negative publicity since he hijacked the award-winning moment of country-pop sweetheart Taylor Swift at last month's MTV Video Music Awards.

Swift had made history as the first country act to win at the VMAs, and was giving her acceptance speech after nabbing a trophy for best female video. West – who has a long history of awards-show meltdowns – grabbed the microphone and declared that Beyonce's ``Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" was one of the "best videos of all time."

A crushed Swift did not finish her speech then but did later when Beyonce brought her back on stage after winning video of the year.

West endured boos from the celebrity crowd that night, and the negative reaction kept growing – even President Barack Obama was caught calling him a "jackass" during remarks to reporters that the White House believed were off-the-record.

An almost tearful West gave one of three apologies for his behaviour during the premiere of The Jay Leno Show last month. He said that hadn't fully taken time to grieve for his mother, who died suddenly in November 2007, and hinted that a break would be coming.

"So many celebrities, they never take the time off," he said. ``I've never taken the time off to really – you know, just music after music and tour after tour. I'm just ashamed that my hurt caused someone else's hurt. My dream of what awards shows are supposed to be, 'cause, and I don't try to justify it because I was just in the wrong. That's period. But I need to, after this, take some time off and just analyze how I'm going to make it through the rest of this life, how I'm going to improve."

But shortly after that, the "Fame Kills" tour – which had been in the works for months – was announced.

Publicists for both West and Lady Gaga did not immediately return requests for comment. A representative for Live Nation said there was no further information.

Lady Gaga Says Kanye 'Feels So Bad'


(October 01, 2009) *Lady Gaga is the latest to comment on the Kanye West incident with Taylor Swift, saying of her tour partner that he still regrets interrupting the teen singer's acceptance speech to say that Beyonce should've won the award.  “It’s funny cuz while it was going on I was thinking, ‘Oh gosh … But I would say he’s a good guy and everybody makes mistakes, and he feels so f***ing bad," Speaking to a Las Vegas radio station, Gaga told a Las Vegas radio station. "He really does, he really feels bad.” She continued: “If you listen to the radio right now, with the exception of myself, really, and, like, probably Taylor Swift, Kanye is responsible for everything we’re listening to. Everyone likes to focus on gossip, but he’s changed music and he’s really prolific and an incredible person, and I think it’s unfair to judge somebody on one mistake they’ve made. “He’s really kind of shown me a lot, as a friend, planning this tour — it’s all about the fans … I felt like that [VMA] moment really portrayed him in a way that he really isn’t. It was just a random moment.”

Club Dilemma: Watch Or Drink?

Source: www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar

(October 02, 2009) One of the most interesting things about Friday's
Clubland documentary (airing at 8 p.m. on Global's Currents) is that it manages to both glamourize and demonize this city's embattled Entertainment District.

Originally screened as part of this year's Hot Docs festival, the cut-for-TV version makes Toronto look like a fun, hedonistic, Bright Lights, Big City party that will be appreciated by anybody who's ever had a night out where their life was saved by a deejay.

It also does a pretty good job of outlining the frustrations of residents in the King-Spadina neighbourhood, reflected by Toronto Councillor Adam Vaughan's war on fun.

There are plenty of shots of drunk kids and macho dudes beating each other up after last call.

As a reporter who has covered the club beat for a long time, I'd say it does a pretty fair job of summing up most of the issues and mindsets of all of the players, including the cops, promoters, club kids, visiting 905-ers and high profile club owners.

But it is limited by focusing only on the downtown core and is already a little outdated.

And it doesn't provide any answers to the condo vs. clubs, mixed-use conundrum that has plagued the area for almost a decade – not that I really expected it to.

It also doesn't consider that beyond the big fight in the city's core, there are plenty of skirmishes elsewhere, like the growth of the Ossington Ave. club scene, which I think should be considered an unqualified success, even though it has sparked a city moratorium on new clubs.

Another new hot spot that has sprung up since the doc was made is Harbord Ave. Toronto Star restaurant critic Corey Mintz recently reported on a dispute between Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone and the Ici Bistro restaurant he opposes at Harbord and Manning. Pantalone argues that it doesn't fit the area.

Being a homeowner in my mid-30s, as I watched this doc, the famous words of Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon kept echoing in my head – "I am too old for this s---" – and I would undoubtedly be concerned if a big club tried to open on my block.

But as an entertainment reporter, I wish the doc had tried to find some mechanism to work toward a peaceful coexistence.

Also unfortunate is the Friday night time slot, since one group of people with a very vested interest – the clubgoers – will be far too busy pre-drinking to watch.

The only real constant about clubland is change and, in the time since this doc was shot over 17 nights two summers ago, one of the key players interviewed, former New York club kingpin Peter Gatien, has left Circa. There are plenty of rumours flying that club might not be long for this world.

The next real big change to come in the area will be completion of the Bell Lightbox, the Toronto International Film Festival's new headquarters and, fittingly, accompanying condo tower. The project will definitively have a transformative effect on the area and, in a funny way, could be the lifeline for the clubs that manage to stick it out for a few more years.

One possible way to alleviate the pressure gasket when all the clubs empty after the 2 a.m. last call is to extend drinking hours to 4 a.m., like they do during the film festival, when the celebrities make their annual pit stop in town.

After all, if late closings are okay for the stars and their fans when they are visiting, why not for the rest of us who happen to live here?

Raju Mudhar is a Star entertainment reporter. Email: rmudhar@thestar.ca


Trekking in Nepal

Source: www.thestar.com - Ben Stubbs,
Special To The Star

(October 02, 2009) KATHMANDU, NEPAL–The Sagamartha National Park in northeastern Nepal is a wonderland of icy peaks, mountain streams, glacial lakes – and more than 140,000 kilograms of rubbish.

This section of the Himalayas is the gateway to Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu, which are just a few of the 8,000-metre mountains in this park at the top of the world. Since 1953, when New Zealand climber Sir Edmund Hillary conquered Everest, the Sagamartha National Park has gradually been pried open for tourism.

As our trekking group headed up the Dudh Kosi valley to Gokyo Ri 3,000 metres above, you could see how tourism was putting the world's most spectacular mountains under pressure.

Our guide Satish resembled a Nepalese Beatle, with a pudding bowl haircut and a pair of canary-yellow trekking pants. He was in charge of the 20 porters and Sherpas (ethnic mountain guides) who accompanied us. We set off from the tin-roofed hamlet of Lukla, past alpine forests and Buddhist prayer flags clinging to the rickety bridges that ford the milky river below. Along the four-hour walk, past grazing mountain goats and peeling golden birch trees, we saw cafés selling Mars bars and apple pies and riverside resorts offering log fires and hot showers on demand.

Setting up camp on an abandoned rice paddy under the shadows of the 6,367-metre Kusum Kanguru, Satish told us the trekking routes have changed dramatically since he started working as a guide 15 years ago. When he began his work in the mountains there were only a few modest tea houses.

That first evening of the trek, the temperature fell to minus-10 degrees in the tents, and there were a few complaints the next morning as aching knees and hips thawed on the climb to Namche Bazaar at 3,440 metres.

Satish explained the more eco-friendly camping treks like ours may be a little harder, but they have much less impact on the fragile environment. Kerosene was used to cook and portable dining and toilet facilities were taken with us in response to the growing number of tea houses and cafés that strip the area of its resources. We were still astounded each night as our cooks whipped up spaghetti bolognese, fried chicken and French toast on demand.

Satish explained that porters and cooks, who would otherwise be unemployed, have a steady source of income during the trekking season.

As we ascended from the rice fields and rivers of Ghat we climbed more than 600 metres in six hours to Namche Bazaar. Indiana Jones-style bridges swung in the breeze as teams of yaks and naks (female yaks) lumbered along the winding path with bells clanging. Along one particularly beautiful switchback we got our first glimpse of Everest, the snowy dome looking down like a lighthouse across the sea of fir trees below.

Namche has been a trading post for generations. The town lies in a valley connecting the Namche pass to Tibet. Today, Tibetans sell Chinese radios and trekking shoes on grubby tarps on the edge of town, while German bakeries, tourist hotels and Internet cafés inhabit the cobbled alleys of the settlement.

With a day to acclimatize to the thinning air, we visited the Namche Bazaar museum, which revealed the evolution of the region. There are now more than 25,000 trekkers in the National Park each year.

Across the top of the valley above Namche we saw the green bins and rubbish pits introduced in an effort to clean up the area.

The evidence of our passing was minimal as the trails became more deserted. Trekking through Phortse, Dole and Macherma, the porters cleaned the way like Hansel and Gretel picking up our crumbs. We wended through the valleys of birch trees past occasional musk deer and timid Impean pheasants hiding in the grass, looking like miniature peacocks with iridescent blue, green and black feathers.

After a fresh blanket of snow at Macherma we trekked across frozen streams with water still trickling beneath. As we climbed to 4,410 metres past Amadablam, the black earth was strewn with boulders and hardy shrubs, and the prayer flags on the ridges whipped in the wind.

At our final campsite at 4,700 metres, on the shores of Gokyo Lake, the evidence of tourism had thinned out to just a few huts burning yak dung. Satish had a huge grin as our weary group scrapped up the final hill to the look out at Gokyo Ri. From our 5,475-metre vantage point we could see unobstructed views of Everest and 360-degree mountain views that fell away to the Nasumbula glacier and the turquoise Gokyo Lakes that were ringed by bright red juniper bushes. A group of bandy-legged porters accompanied us up to the lookout and Satish told me this was what they all live for. "Trekking is my second wife," he said.

Heading back through the Dudh Kosi valley, the impact of tourism was visible again. Locally run tea houses, the odd hotel and garbage bin appeared. It didn't seem like such a big deal. But if the Sherpas and porters of the Sagamartha National Park are going to continue living this life, the responsibility really falls on the ordinary tourist to take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints.

Ben Stubbs is a freelance writer based in Buenos Aires.


AUX: A Quick Scan Of Our Newest Music Station

Source: www.thestar.com - Bill Brioux,
Special To The Star

(October 04, 2009) Being kind of partial to names that end in `X' I was happy to take The Star's request to graze through Canada's brand new music channel, AUX. Would it mark the spot on the Canadian TV music scene after a year of baby steps on the Internet?

Canada's latest music station leapt from lap tops to plasma screens this past Thursday (on Rogers Cable 107) with a look and vibe that smacked of the `70s, both in style and spirit.

Now, Canada needs another TV station like the NHL needs another team in Phoenix. In this tough ad environment, networks are dumping channels, not adding them.

Still, a back-to-the-music-video-roots station would seem to fill a niche now that established services like MuchMusic and MTV Canada – both now owned by CTV – have turned down the music in favour of lifestyle programming.

Stripped down and aggressively low-tech, AUX serves a far less corporate master. Parent company GlassBox TV, out of Mississauga, operates the similar Web-powered, youth-oriented Bite TV. Co-CEO Raja Khanna, himself a musician, declares that AUX will focus first on providing a platform for new and emerging Canadian artists.

As a 24-hour startup, it faces the same challenge every other TV programmer faces today – the thirst for original content. The same videos kept popping up whenever I sampled the station this week. If you can't get enough of the video for Funki Porcini's "Rocket Soul," with its grainy blend of NASA spacewalk footage and Kennedy clips, AUX is the station for you.

That clip was typical of several I saw that spoke to kids of the digital age who somehow dig the crude analog look of parent-era videos. The soupy, Telecine visuals were the best we could come up in '81, cranking out community cable videos at places like Etobicoke's long-defunct McLean-Hunter cable TV. That crude and grainy look seems to be romanticized at AUX as some sort of indie art form, all experimental, cool and dangerous. To me, it just looks like it was shot through a nylon stocking with a leg still in it.

Other videos – such as "Flutter" by Bonobo (which some might remember as the theme to CBC's short-lived jPod) – look trippy, like they were shot through a lava lamp.

Clearly, the big music companies are taking a wait-and-see attitude with AUX. What was welcome about the new channel's more obscure and artier video line up was that it was a Beyoncé-free zone. Viewers aren't force-fed the same dozen artists; you can watch AUX and not feel like you're being spun.

Upcoming AUX originals showcase the station's serious music-cred ambitions. Longtime DJ Alan Cross brings ExploreMusic, a gab-go-round in the fashion of TSN's Off The Record. Music industry players Moe Berg (former Pursuit of Happiness frontman), George Pettit (Alexisonfire), photographer Ingrid Johannson, sound engineer Laurence Currie and several others serve as on-air talent for AUX originals. Breaking these shows first on the Internet lets AUX open them "out of town," to bring them up to speed for broadcast.

A special now in rotation on AUX offered glimpses of local acts such as K'naan, Zeus and The Stills live at venues like the Mod Club and the Courthouse. The iffy lighting, spastic editing and dodgy camerawork are all part of the charm in an era when anybody with a slick cell phone is a videographer.

Mind you, videos are not the only thing in high rotation at AUX. The same half-dozen commercials air all the time and are slammed so hard up against content it is hard to tell where videos end and the commercials begin.

AUX can only hope that their commercial base diversifies as much as it does on Much, where the new Personal People Meter ratings are showing more people are watching than was previously thought. That's the kind of sell-out AUX could embrace.

Eminem Announces K'naan Producing 2 Records On Relapse 2

Source:  www.hiphopcanada.com

Eminem has broken his silence on the highly-anticipated Relapse 2 album and said fans should expect to hear 50 Cent on the project along with production from Just Blaze.

While not naming any song titles, Slim Shady said his collaboration with the G-Unit leader features them exchanging eight bars.

"Me and Fif did a couple of records, couple of months ago in Vegas, one song for my record and another for his," Em revealed in an interview. "We just wanted to like, I just had an idea to like 'Yo, why don't we do something we ain't done yet.' And kinda go back and forth, we've kinda done it on other records but not to the extent of what we're doing on this one...The way that it's going now, K'Naan has two [produced] tracks on the record and Just Blaze has four, possibly five...I definitely feel like I'm in a little different space right now. I don't know, with the last record, it felt like a lot of it had to do with me being sober...With Relapse 1 -- a lot of that album, I wanted to rap at fire and do punchlines." (Shade 45)

CBC Radio Holds On To Top Spot In Toronto, For Now

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

(October 01, 2009) CBC Radio One once again wins bragging rights in the summer 2009 (July-August) ratings period, topping the Toronto radio pile with a slightly decreased share of 8.8 per cent of hours tuned by listeners over the age of 12, down from 10 per cent in the spring.

In second place is perennial favourite, Rogers-owned adult contemporary music station CHFI-FM (98.1 FM), with an 8.4 per-cent share, down from 9.2 in the spring ratings period, according to figures released yesterday by the industry-run BBM audience measurement bureau.

But if there's any chest-thumping to be done, it won't last long.

Sometime in the next two weeks, a new set of figures based on new technology – portable people meters, or PPMs, which automatically register the stations to which sample listeners tune in, when and for how long – will radically alter the radio landscape, and will probably knock Radio One off its perch, broadcast industry analysts predict.

"With PPMs replacing diary numbers as the trading currency for programmers and advertisers, offering the best long term stability, certain types of stations usually suffer," says David Bray, senior vice president of the Toronto broadcast media advertising company, Hennessy & Bray Communications.

"Heritage stations generally perform better (than they should) in diary reporting systems, which rely on the listener's memory. That 'halo' effect disappears with the passive recording of PPMs.

"CBC Radio One or Two, which get a bit of what I'll call 'aspirational reporting' in the diary system, may lose that benefit with the PPM system."

In the ratings report that Bray calls "the end of an era", CTVglobemedia's CHUM-FM (104.5 FM) continues a seemingly unstoppable downward trend, posting a 7.8 per-cent share of all-age listeners (down from 8.1 in the spring), while continuing to dominate the female 25-54 demographic group, with a 12.8 per-cent share (down from 15.1). In that important demographic, CHFI-FM is in second place, with 10.6 per-cent share (down from 13).

CHUM-FM also holds the top position for females 18-34, delivering a 15.6 per cent share (down from 17.7).

For male listeners, Corus Radio's classic rock station Q107 is once again on top in Toronto, with a 12 per-cent share of the 25-54 age group (down from 13.4). Corus's The Edge (102.1 FM) retains its lead with males 18-34, turning in a 14.4 per-cent share (down from 18.3).

Also noteworthy is an improvement in the performance of Astral Media-owned Virgin Radio (99.9 FM), up to 5.5 per cent from 4.4 in the share of all-age listeners, with an increased share, 8.6 per cent, of female listeners aged 25-55. Those numbers are considerably higher than former champ, Astral-owned CJEZ-FM's (97.3 FM) 5.1 per-cent share of all-age listeners and 7.8 per-cent share of females 25-54.

Building A Home For Jazz In T.O.

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

(October 01, 2009) After 48 years of marriage, Ray and Rochelle Koskie's current undertaking may be their most ambitious: spearheading the construction of a permanent home for jazz in Toronto.

The Jazz Performance and Education Centre, which was incorporated last year and attained charitable status this spring, aims to replicate New York's Jazz at Lincoln Centre to "inspire and grow audiences for jazz music" in Canada.

Plans call for a 9,000-square-foot space that can accommodate a performance hall, recording studio, classrooms, archives and restaurant.

It's a pricey proposition that takes its first major step Thursday with a $250-per-person musical tribute at the Glenn Gould Theatre for Lincoln Alexander, Ontario's former lieutenant governor and the group's honorary co-chair with Ontario Chief Justice Warren K. Winkler.

Former elementary schoolteacher and set designer Rochelle and former pension lawyer-turned-consultant Ray are lifelong jazz fans. They're working with a well-connected board of directors that includes former Montreal Bistro owner Lothar Lang and Jim Galloway, artistic director of the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival.

Thanks to the reach of the centre's board, tickets have sold well for the tribute, which features an all-star band assembled by trombonist/musical director Russ Little, with guest trumpeter Guido Basso, pianist Joe Sealy and singer Molly Johnson.

The organization's long-term viability is not assured in a city that hasn't been good to the genre in recent years, evidenced by the closure of three marquee jazz clubs; the inability of giants like Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman to sell out concerts this year; and the funding challenges of the similarly focused (minus the building goal) Art of Jazz.

Can a high-priced gala at the 337-seat Glenn Gould Theatre kick-start the cultural embrace required to support a permanent jazz institution?

"We know we have to expose the younger generations to jazz in its many different forms," said Ray, 71, pointing to the centre's reasonably priced concert series. It begins next month at the Bluma Appel Theatre with Montreal pianist Oliver Jones. A children's jazz music program also launches at Casa Loma next spring.

The centre boosters believe a one-stop destination is key.

"Some people say, `All we want is just a club,' but we figure that in Toronto, having a private not-for-profit jazz club doesn't work," said Rochelle, 69. "The opera, ballet ... everyone else has a home, but there's no meeting place to converse about jazz. We graduate 400 jazz musicians every year in Ontario. Where do they go? Where is the hub?"

Music Helps Rexdale Youth Band Together To Heal A Community

Source: www.swaymag.ca - BY: Lisa Sterling

(Fall issue) Street violence, gangs and guns have plagued Toronto's black community, resulting in the tragic deaths of young men and women, now only remembered as victims of circumstance. One of the most high-profile incidents of gun violence resulted in the death of Amon Beckles, 18, shot dead on the steps of Toronto West Seventh Day Adventist Church while attending the funeral of a young man. In a response to the neighbourhood's criminal element and intimidation faced by congregation members, the church, in association with the African Canadian Christian Network, created the Rexdale Outreach Choir (R.O.C.), a pro-peace, non-sectarian youth group choir for people between the ages of 13 and 24.

Paulette Lewis, chair of the project, explains the motivation behind R.O.C.'s creation: "So many negative images arise when people hear ‘Rexdale.'? R.O.C. gives youth an opportunity to both give back to and promote their neighbourhood in a positive light."

Only two years out, R.O.C. already boasts a powerful, 45- member force. Directed by Vernon Smith and Deon Flash, R.O.C. performs gospel, among other music genres, at special events, churches, nursing homes and shelters where audiences often start singing and clapping along. At the R.O.C.'s 2009 summer showcase, soloist Letesha Byran, 17, was visibly shaken. "It was the Holy Spirit," she says. "It comes and takes over you, and you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. God was moving."

And the dynamic group's talents go beyond music. They also dance and act in skits that demonstrate excellence regardless of situation or circumstance. In a skit titled Diamonds in the Rough, R.O.C. members can be heard shouting statements of self-actualization: "We have hopes and dreams and we're looking for opportunities. We want to go to college and university; some of us are in college or university and we're heading in the right direction!"

What's next? ? Choir manager Janice Smith shares her vision enthusiastically: "Our goal is to ensure that individual R.O.C. members continue to learn valuable skills that will make them successful, positive contributors to society, so they can turn around and give back to Rexdale." Then concludes: "We want the choir to perform on a larger scale too... where we have the whole world R.O.C.-ing!"

City Leaves Lula Lounge In Tight Spot

Source: www.thestar.com - Vanessa Lu, Paul Moloney,
City Hall Bureau

(October 03, 2009) A decision to restrict parking along Dundas St. W. so streetcars can pass more easily could mean businesses like Lula Lounge will call it quits.

"It's not about picking up and going somewhere else. We started here, it's a one-shot deal," Lula co-owner Jose Ortega said yesterday of city council's move this week.

He opened the Latin- and world-music club in 2002 with partner Jose Nieves.

It's popular but, he says, "it's a money-losing business."

The city plans to remove 71 pay-and-display spots along Dundas St. between Dovercourt Rd. and Lansdowne Ave., and add 51 pay-and-display spaces on side streets. Business owners say the loss of 20 spots means their customers will be competing with permit holders for parking spaces.

Councillor Adam Giambrone, who also chairs the TTC, pushed for these changes and left-turn restrictions to improve traffic flow, especially for the 505 Dundas streetcar.

Ortega worries that regular customers, who come from across the GTA, will simply stay home if they can't find parking in the area.

As it is, he says, some simply park in a no-parking zone on Dundas St. and pay the $30 ticket. But new zones that don't permit standing or stopping will bring bigger fines and even tow trucks.

Ortega plans to try to negotiate for night-time parking at nearby churches or schools.

Giambrone defended the proposal during debate late Thursday, saying most residents favour the restrictions.

"It allows for the vitality of our neighbourhood. We're not taking away parking in any substantial number – 20 spots over 12 blocks," he said. "And at the end of the day, this will move cars faster, which will help commuters. ... I think (it's) a compromise that is more than reasonable."

If it doesn't work, the city could always reverse the decision, he added. It was approved in a 21-8 vote.

Ortega said a reversal could come too late for small businesses that can't risk trying to hang on until then.

"You couldn't print my reaction," Sylvia Draper Fernandez, chair of the Dundas West BIA, said of the decision. BIA members say more spaces than Giambrone suggests – about 100 – are being lost between Lansdowne and Ossington.

"The bakeries are worried that Portuguese workers who go there to get their morning coffees and lunches, if they can't park here, they might go to a strip mall or Tim Hortons," she said.

Businesspeople will meet soon to plan a response.

"Do we just sit back for a year and hope there'll be a political change?" Draper Fernandez wondered. "Or do we keep beating our heads against the wall?"

For Ortega, the next election will come too late. "We can't afford to see what happens."

Spectacular in Pink

Source: www.thestar.com - Nick Krewen,
Special To The Star

(October 01, 2009) Alecia Moore certainly knows how to make an entrance.

As a shirtless dancer in yellow suspenders began to churn a handle to a conspicuously placed jack-in-the-box on a ramp about a third of the way down the Air Canada Centre Wednesday night, the floor of a mini-stage magically opened and the Philadelphia-born singer and songwriter, otherwise known as
Pink, was pulled into the air, a four-metre train of orange tail feathers transforming her into a flying bird of paradise before an adoring crowd.

After she landed back on a stage that resembled a carnival funhouse – replete with mirrors, a couple of slides, a drum set bumper car enclosure and an eight-piece band that included Toronto's own Kat Lucas on guitar and keyboards – Pink launched into "Bad Influence" from her latest album Funhouse and really got the party started.

A handful of costumed dancers accompanied Pink with elaborate choreography, all the more impressive due to the fact the well-toned singer herself was leading the pack in a pair of red high heels.

From there she segued into the electrifying rocker "Just Like a Pill," singing at the top of her lungs along with the 18,000-plus Pink fanatics who hung and harmonized on her every word.

By then, Pink had the crowd firmly in her grasp, delivering a dazzling spectacle that was visually impressive, physically dynamic, alternately sassy and humorous, romantic and ... incredibly steamy in parts.

At one point, Pink writhed around in lingerie on a valentine-red couch, singing as hands and arms pierced the fabric and caressed her.

This was the only Canadian date of her 117-show Funhouse tour, and Pink mixed up the set list to perform a trio of acoustic numbers showing her topical depth, including a stunning version of "I Don't Believe You" accompanied by guitars, violin and cello, a vocally powerful "Dear Mr. President," and a celebratory "Trouble."

A tour-de-force rendition of "Please Don't Leave Me," with Pink baring her heartstrings to piano accompaniment, also brought the house down, but it was only one of the endless highlights during the two-hour show.

Her appeal is completely understandable and equally beguiling: a scintillating and intoxicating mix of rock and pop songs that are as thoughtful as they are rebellious, anthems for those who revel in independence but realize that life is experienced in shades.

The audience enjoyed a wide spectrum of those shades musically and visually. By the end of the thrilling encore of "Get the Party Started," it was clear that everyone was tickled Pink.

Hip Hop Legend Rakim Finally Returns

Source: Diego Vargas, Cornerstone, diego@cornerstonepromotion.com

(October 05, 2009) *New York, NY -- After months, if not years of Internet speculation and rumour, the man many call The God MC's management and label officially confirm that Rakim Allah will release his long awaited new album The Seventh Seal on November 17, 2009.

 Guest artists include Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Maino, Tracey Horton, IQ, Styles P, and others, including Destiny Griffin, Rakim's own daughter. The artist's Ra Records shares the imprint in a joint venture with Tuscan Villa and SMC Recordings and is distributed through Fontana/Universal Music Group.

 Since its release, the album's lead single "Holy Are You" has won praise from critics and fans alike.

 USA Today states:

 "The God MC previews his long-awaited The Seventh Seal with a lyrically adept reminder of how he earned the name," with Billboard proclaiming "Rakim is in top form, richly merging self-mythologizing reflections on his legacy with religious imagery."

 His first full album of new material in almost a decade, The Seventh Seal is Rakim's contemporary observation of the Hip-Hop culture he helped define.

 While staying loyal to his New York roots, Rakim has created a body of work that encompasses the very best of regional, underground and mainstream styles that are reformed and delivered through his intricate lyricism and the seemingly effortless flow for which he is revered.

 He has enlisted a slew of production talent including Needlz, Nottz, Jake One, Nick Wiz, Ty Fiffe and more on the album's well-rounded tracks.

 "The Seventh Seal is my own revelation…my way of taking the best of what Hip-Hop has to offer, what we as a culture and a community have to offer, putting my stamp on it and leading us forward while constantly respecting what we've already accomplished," Rakim says."When you've been blessed with a career like mine, you develop a deep relationship with the music, and that love is recognized by the true heads that share it with you. You'll see us keep building as we break through each Seal ... showing the best of what I can do in many forms, bringing the energy and having fun, but first I'm laying that foundation and give my longtime fans the conscious fire they expect."

 Universally referenced as one of the Masters of the Microphone and an influence and inspiration to his peers and followers alike, Rakim first exploded onto the scene with the release of iconic Eric B. is President in 1986 with long time collaborator Eric B.The single marked a turning point in the Rap world - raising the bar for future emcees and revolutionizing the way rhymes are delivered.  Rakim's intricately, intellectual lyrics draw their force from his worldly experience, inner faith and progressive contemplation, fuelled by a deep understanding of not just Hip-Hop, but also the Jazz and R&B influences that have surrounded his family since his youth.  Rakim's recordings - including the all-time classics, Paid In Full, Follow the Leader and The 18th Letter - have sold in the multi-millions worldwide.  Billboard, Rolling Stone, MTV and a host of others consistently refer to Paid in Full as "the greatest Hip-Hop album of all time" - a claim often repeated in audience polls. The Seventh Seal marks the first album under his own imprint, Ra Records, allowing a true freedom in creative control unparalleled since his monumental first recordings.

 Established in March of 2005, SMC Recordings is home to independent music and artists. Based in San Francisco, CA, the company's prized accomplishment is its unique philosophy of artist development, where artists are encouraged to participate with the label from inception through maintenance of their career. This innovative structure has garnered industry veterans to join the company and aid in its growth.  SMC's range of artist owned label partners includes national heavyweights like Rakim and Killer Mike along with a staple of regional acts constantly being developed such as Messy Marv, The Jacka, and the Town Thizzness brand…SMC is distributed by Fontana, the indie subsidiary of Universal. It is SMC's humble regional beginnings and loyalty to their artists and their careers that will guarantee the company to always be on the precipice of creativity and expansion in the music game.


Reggae Fans Rejoice!: Newest Edition Of '18 Karat Reggae Series' At Itunes Now

Source:  (Top40 Charts/TCOOO)

(October 05, 2009) *New York, NY - The latest album in the "18 Karat Reggae series" is now available digitally, for reggae fans who cannot wait for the CD.

 Although the official album release is not until November 17, fans can now download the pre-release on Itunes, Amazon and other major download sites. The latest instalment in what is a yearly release of the best reggae out of Jamaica is called "18 Karat Reggae: Stepping out of Babylon."

 It has long been said that reggae is being dominated by her offspring dancehall. Now the saying is that dancehall has sold out to hip-hop as artists and producers become more interested in commercial success than they are in keeping the beautiful reggae genre alive.

 The 18 Karat Reggae series shows that not only is reggae music alive and well, but it is as beautiful as it was in the 80s and 90s. The series showcase reggae greats such as Beenie Man, Luciano, Sizzla, Turbulance and Dawn Penn, to name a few; performing on authentic reggae and dancehall rhythms.

 "It is great to see that the effort is being made to preserve real reggae and dancehall music", said King Jammy the legendary dancehall producer out of Jamaica. Whether it is live reggae instruments or digitally produced dancehall beats, listeners will know that they are listening to real reggae as oppose to some crossover attempt.

 The series also features hot newcomers like Boom Viniyard, Massicker and Jango Fresh. Boom Viniyard's song "Thank you Jah" is being heralded as song of the year by reggae fans all over the world. Even though Massicker's appearance on the 18 Karat Reggae series is his first published recording, he has already been listed in Itunes as a future reggae superstar among other young stars such as Collie Budz, Damian Marley, Mavado, Vybz Kartel and Busy Signal.

 Reggae superstar Sizzla whose single "Smoke good marijuana" appeared on the "Axum" album in the 18 Karat reggae series gives full support to the series. "18 Karat Reggae is for the true reggae / dancehall fans. The fans that do not want their music watered down", said the top-flight sing-jay. All the albums in the 18 Karat Reggae series are now available for download on Itunes, Amazon and other major download sites.

Three Guitar Legends Walk Into A Film Studio

www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(October 02, 2009) When Jimmy Page, U2's the Edge and Jack White of the White Stripes met on a mammoth Hollywood sound stage for a summit meeting on the almighty guitar, there was the likelihood that one would be the odd man out once the cameras started rolling.

Page and White are, broadly speaking, all about rechanneling roots and Southern blues through high wattage; and they famously aren't averse to long solos. The Edge originates from the punk generation's mission to undercut all that: to sever rock's dependency on mid-tempo blues as its crutch and remove the pomposity of guitar soloing for the adoring minions in the audience. The Edge's generation had, by the tail end of the 1980s, been so successful at reducing the guitar's paramountcy that the new guitar documentary, It Might Get Loud , would have seemed hopelessly irrelevant back then.

How times change, and yet, how everything circles back.

That's the ultimate story in Davis Guggenheim's documentary, which opened yesterday, and which tries to create a guitar enthusiast's wet dream, profiling three guitar greats from successive generations, having them reveal a few secrets – and their love of certain equipment – and then having the three meet and play together on giant Stage 16 on the Warner Bros. movie lot.

“Each generation, when it comes – each new band – it's part of their job to destroy the band that came before them,” Guggenheim said in an interview earlier this week. “U2 was a rejection of the white-boy blues bands that Led Zeppelin was. And the White Stripes are a rejection of everything before them, including highly produced U2 songs.” Jack White, he adds, “wants raw, dirty, unprecious stuff.”

So, says Guggenheim, “immediately Jack and Jimmy had this connection, which is roots-blues music. But as time went on, their differences grew.” The documentary's strength lies in part in how they ultimately find commonality while emphasizing those differences.

For instance, the Edge's love of effects pedals and gadgetry doesn't push him outside an orthodox view of what's “real” and what isn't, Guggenheim says. White explains in the film that he's just as reliant on specific equipment, notably his old plastic guitars; Page, too, with the distortion pedals that he used early in his career. The point came home as they were preparing to film the summit meeting. “On the day before, Jack showed up with his guitar [technician], with one amp and a couple of guitars. Jimmy's got two or three amps and maybe 10 guitars. And then the Edge comes, and it's a truck with 15 huge cases,” recalls Guggenheim.

But in the end, he adds, their music – and the film – is less about the machines and “more about how they need to find a way to get their voices out.”

The doc also visits the musicians in the places that directly nurture their music. Page is shown in his house outside London, among his record collection, picking out favourite tracks – which for fans could easily be a documentary in itself. “I felt like every time I cut something out, I was disappointing 10 million Led Zeppelin fans,” says Guggenheim, who is himself a long-time Page fan and a closet guitarist.

The Edge was filmed at U2's Dublin office and studio space – known simply as HQ – by the River Liffey, showing his array of gadgetry. White's solo scenes, shot at his home outside Nashville, are the most straightforward. Despite his ambiguous persona, his love of the blues and vintage guitars is as upfront and raw as his music. “Each of them understood two opposing thoughts: One, that rock stars depend on a certain kind of mystique, the more mystique the better. At the same time, a good documentary is successful because you really penetrate that mystique. And this documentary, in particular, wanted to penetrate that – to get to know them as songwriters as opposed to rock gods,” says Guggenheim.

“A lot of people think that Jack is the most guarded, and he still presents these artifices. At the same time, he writes a song on camera [Fly Farm Blues, available now as a digital single]. And he also really is very emotionally raw when he says, ‘Am I really allowed to write this music? How do I do this?' What's nice about it is that each of them opens up in different ways.”

But from the moment Hollywood producer Thomas Tull originally contacted Guggenheim to direct the documentary, the emphasis was on making a cohesive film, rather than a historical record. “You gotta make a good movie first,” Guggenheim says.

Getting Page, the Edge and White to agree to participate wasn't the hard part. The main problem was scheduling. At the time, Page was rehearsing for Led Zeppelin's O2 Arena reunion show. U2 was recording its latest record. The White Stripes were on tour.

In the end, there were no tussles between the three. And no fistfights, as White jokingly predicted there would be. There's some of the mystique still, but mostly it's about their shared enthusiasm, Guggenheim says. In one scene, standing among his record collection, Page plays air guitar to Link Wray's mean 1958 instrumental, Rumble , a classic rock tune based around proto power chords.

Just consider that for a minute: Jimmy Page playing air guitar. It's a poignant moment on film, showing the spark that still ignites him. But it's also a laughable role reversal, given the millions who have air-guitared to Led Zeppelin. “Who imagined,” says Guggenheim, “that Jimmy Page would do that!”

To Africa And Back: Madagascar Slim Brings The Blues – Today

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

(October 04, 2009) The name "Madagascar Slim" says it all.

By his own admission he is overweight, grew up in the African island nation of Madagascar and regularly interrupts his driving Malagasy guitar work with blazing blues solos.

"It's almost unconscious, not like I'm making a real effort," the guitarist with a bluesman's name says of how he combines African dance rhythms with American blues progressions.

"It's what comes out of me."

Nowhere are his contrasting styles more generously offered than on Good Life Good Living, his first CD in 10 years, launched last weekend at Hugh's Room. Today at 5 p.m., Slim and his band highlight the annual Festival Bana Y'Afrique with a free show at Metro Hall.

"I think it's the feel," he says of the commonality between genres. "I'm not technical enough to know if there is a definite link between Malagasy music and blues, but the feel is there."

Slim grew up as Randriamananjara Radofa. He started playing guitar at 9, a fan of Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King and a local band called Ny Antsaly.

In 1979, when he was 23, he arrived in Toronto to study accounting, then joined a French-Canadian folk troupe led by Catherine St.-Cyr, now his wife.

For most of the 1980s he played blues bars. At Chicago's Diner on Queen St. W., he jammed regularly with Jeff Healey and Steven C. Barr of Steven C. and the Red Rockets, but by the mid-1990s he started to feel homesick for the 6/8-time selegy rhythms of his youth.

On a Canada Council grant, he returned to Madagascar for several months. By the time he arrived back in Toronto, he was playing island dance music again and singing in his native tongue.

Slim has since proved endlessly adaptable. OmniSource, his only other CD with his own band, won a Juno for world music in 2000. He also won Junos with African Guitar Summit and the folk guitar trio Tri-Continental, including Lester Quitzau and Bill Bourne.

A German tour is in the works this winter with one of his childhood heroes, Malagasy guitarist D'Gary, who plays African music in a way that almost sounds like blues.


Michael Bublé: Pretty, But Vulnerable

www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman

(October 02, 2009) Vancouver — Sure, Michael Bublé has sung his share of gloomy standards over the years, but Crazy Love , his new release, is a first: a thematic album all about heartbreak and starting over, your classic breakup record.

Emily Blunt, are you listening?

Not to be flip; this is serious stuff for Bublé. He may be a multimillion-selling adult-contemporary Adonis adored by swooning fans (and radio programmers) the world over, but he's a person, too. And if you prick him, he does bleed.

 “Love is a very complicated thing. Breakups are complicated and relationships are complicated,” said Bublé, 34, during a recent interview in Vancouver that he joked felt more like a therapy session. “The breakup was tough for me. It was, for me, one of the toughest things I've dealt with.”

Singer Michael Buble jumps in the air and clicks his heels after winning the Juno Fan Choice Award in Calgary, April 6, 2008.

“ I think that in every relationship in my life … I was insecure and therefore controlling – you know, more abusive, not physically, but definitely emotionally. I think, very basically, I looked in the mirror and I went: You can be a better dude. ”

The breakup, for those who haven't been following Bublé's personal life in the tabloids, was with British actor Blunt ( The Devil Wears Prada ), his long-time girlfriend. Their relationship came to an end last year amid gossip-rag speculation that Bublé had cheated.

It was a terrible time, Bublé says, but it also led to some introspection and self-discovery that allowed him to make an album like Crazy Love .

The breakup, says the Burnaby, B.C., native, was “one of the worst things that's ever happened to me and one of the best things that's ever happened to me, because it gave me an opportunity to really take a look at myself and to become a more conscious human being and, I think, to have a chance to like myself more, and not to allow my insecurity to get in the way of my business or my art or my personal relationships or even relationships with my family.

“I think that in every relationship in my life … I was insecure and therefore controlling – you know, more abusive, not physically, but definitely emotionally. I think, very basically, I looked in the mirror and I went: You can be a better dude.”

Um, Michael Bublé – insecure? He of the No. 1 singles ( Home , Everything ), the more than 22 million CDs sold ( It's Time , Call Me Irresponsible ), the Grammy and Juno Awards? What on earth is there to be insecure about?

“Oh, come on: the way I look, my intelligence, my [sense of] humour. Everything. I'm a person. Of course I have insecurities. Will this last? One day, I think I'm brilliant. One day, I think: God, I'm a good entertainer and a good artist and a great musician. And the next day, I think: God, they're going to find out … I don't know what I'm doing.”

Bublé is also insecure, he says, about the fact that he can't read sheet music.

That didn't stop him from writing (in a bathtub, by the way) the dramatic opening to the new album's first track, Cry Me a River (anyone who caught his last tour may remember it from the opening strains of the live show) or from writing two songs on the record, including the first single, Haven't Met You Yet (which debuted at No. 1 on Canada's adult-contemporary radio charts).

The album – 13 songs, including a bonus track ( Whatever It Takes , recorded with Ron Sexsmith) – marks a turning point in Bublé's recording process. After pleading with producer David Foster to allow him to do so (“He put his balls on the line for me,” Bublé says), they recorded most of the songs live, in-studio onto eight tracks. So, for example, on Stardust , which Bublé sings with the group Naturally 7, the guys all stood around three microphones – Bublé not even wearing headphones – with the rhythm section a couple of metres away in the same room. They went through the song three times, and chose, ultimately, the first take.

No isolated vocals. No endless takes. No tweaking and adjusting.

It was a scary process, Bublé says, and the results, he acknowledges, are not always perfect: Sometimes the strings are a little flat, or he's a little pitchy, or something's just a bit off. “But man, it felt good. It just felt good. And I think now, more and more, I keep believing that flaws are what make me love the music, you know. When there's such perfection, it just becomes really sterile.”

Bublé says he will never go back to recording any other way.

He also says he was much more present when performing these songs. He didn't want to just sound good; he actually forced himself to think about the words, think about the emotions, and draw on his own experiences to convey the pain (or joy) of the lyrics. Sometimes it was so difficult, he couldn't get through the song. He had a particularly tough time recording a cover of End of May – which ultimately didn't make it onto the album.

“Before the breakups … I don't think I used to concentrate enough when I sang songs,” says Bublé, who was engaged to a Vancouver actress before dating Blunt. “I think that I used to try to sound pretty.”

There's no question Bublé looks pretty, and perhaps that has contributed to his reputation as a womanizer – a reputation he swears is unfounded. At least these days.

“I can look at myself in the mirror and truly be really okay with myself and I can't worry about changing the perception and trying to go back and change the past. I can only worry about making sure that, day by day, if I've given myself a reputation or I've done things that I'm not proud of, I just make sure that every day I continue to be the best guy I can be. And that will all go away at some point.

“I think I've grown up a lot. I think there's a difference between being a ladies' man and a douche bag.”

These days, Bublé is in a better place. Blunt, with whom he's still in touch, is engaged (to The Office star John Krasinski), and he says he's happy for her. He's been dating Argentine actress Luisana Lopilato for about eight months now, going back and forth between his home in West Vancouver, a new place he's bought in Los Angeles, and her home in Buenos Aires, but he won't say much more than that.

“I have a great girl, but I just can't give away my personal life, because there's so little that I have that's only mine now, that I have to be so careful. But I'm really happy. Really happy.”

Crazy Love will be released on Friday.


Quebec Student Video A Web Hit

Source: www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

(October 01, 2009) A YouTube video of students at the Université du Québec à Montreal lip-synching the Black Eyed Peas hit "I Gotta Feeling" is quickly becoming a phenomenon on the web.

The walking, first-person video takes the viewer on a tour of the university's downtown Montreal campus, snaking through the hallways as students sing and dance to the hit.

It was No. 11 on the Viral Video Chart as of Wednesday evening, with more than 415,000 views.

Luc-Olivier Cloutier and Marie-Eve Hébert, the students behind the Internet hit, say it was a tremendous task to coordinate the roughly five-minute video, which was filmed in just one take.

"We really had to plan everything in advance, starting with the itinerary," said Cloutier, 22, who was the cameraman.

"We had to write, line by line, who would do what, everything had to be timed."

Six students worked on the concept for over a month and volunteers were recruited using Facebook, but they had no idea how many would actually show up until the day of filming.

A total of 172 students took part in the video, which was filmed in the span of about two hours.

Local and international media have also taken notice, with CNN interviewing the creators on Sunday night and an NBC interview in the coming days.

The clip is available on YouTube using the keywords "lip dub" and "UQAM."

Pianist Minsoo Sohn Left Home To Pursue His Heart's Desire

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

(October 03, 2009) He dreamed of being a baseball player, but music touched his heart.

Korean born-and-raised
Minsoo Sohn is now a classical pianist, but follows every move of the Boston Red Sox in his adopted hometown.

He may be based in the United States, but he owes much of his recent success to winning the Canadian Honens International Piano Competition in 2006.

The triennial contest awards a cash prize and sets up ongoing concert and recital bookings for its laureates over the three-year cycle.

One of those bookings is allowing to Sohn to make his Toronto public debut tonight at the Glenn Gould Studio. Next week, he's off for his first gig at Carnegie Hall.

Sohn has a gorgeous album of Liszt piano pieces under his belt and a growing list of engagements.

But, in conversation during a brief Toronto stop last month, the quiet, unassuming man dismisses public acclaim. He credits the personal hold music has on his soul for keeping him company on the long, hard slog from music school to a professional career.

Although he started piano lessons at age 3, Sohn says that he hadn't devoted his attention to it until just before high school. "If there's such a thing as destiny, my path was to be a pianist," he explains.

When Sohn's father was transferred to Seoul, Minsoo enrolled in a conservatory. "I made lots of musician friends and I began to listen to a lot of classical music, which touched my heart," the pianist recalls. "It felt like this was what I was supposed to do."

Sohn listened to as many recordings as he could find, and decided to study with one of his favourite interpreters at the New England Conservatory of Music.

At age 18, he left Korea, all by himself, to start a new life in Boston.

Like a lot of music students, he hit the competition circuit as soon as his teachers thought he was ready, to try and stand out from the hundreds of other dewy-eyed hopefuls.

The self-effacing Sohn plays with spark and authority – and formidable technique. The judges at the Honens competition noticed.

The 33-year-old is happy his competition days are past. They are hard on the soul: "You are dealing with someone's feelings and how they're interpreting music."

For his Toronto recital, Sohn has included Beethoven's difficult Diabelli Variations, which have been in his repertoire since student days. Also on the program are Liszt transcriptions of pieces by Mozart, Schubert and Chopin. The program should give listeners a wide-ranging appreciation of a significant young talent.

Sohn's upcoming projects include recording J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, another set of pieces that has been with him a long time. He speaks enviously of Bach.

"He didn't travel but was able to compose stars and the universe," Sohn says. "Somehow, his music manages to connect with the mind and the heart."

It's a double bond that the pianist tries to share with his listeners.

Just the facts

Minsoo Sohn

WHERE: Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St. W.

WHEN: Tonight @ 8 p.m.

TICKETS: $15-$25 @ 416-872-4255 or www.roythomson.com


Sheri Jones-Moffett: A Woman 'Renewed'

Source:  www.eurweb.com -
By Mona Austin / mediamindedpro@yahoo.com

(October 06, 2009) *In recording "Renewed" her first solo CD, gospel singer Sheri Jones-Moffet thought there are just some things a woman has to do alone.  

Jones-Moffet has made her rounds on the mic in numerous groups throughout her career. Having sang with the late O’Lando Draper and as a long-time member of her mentor Donald Lawrence’s  choir, the acclaimed Tri City Singers, she has stood in the shadow of gospel greats. 

She also enjoyed a sister-brother relationship singing Stellar-award winning songs as half of the tandem Ted & Sheri, but said this time she needed to express emotions only a woman could convey.

“I was experiencing some personal things that other women could relate to (weight, self esteem). I wanted to say to other women that they weren’t alone,” the Tennessee native said.

Five years ago in New York just after a performance with the now retired Tri-City Singers, her career came to a screeching halt as she encountered an unexpected crisis that would test her endurance as both a woman and Christian.

Pregnant with her first child and hundreds of miles from home, Jones-Moffet had begun having excruciating stomach cramps, but her baby was not due for several months. She was rushed to the hospital where her daughter, Khadera Zion, now 4 was born pre-maturely at one and a half pounds. Doctors predicted her baby girl wouldn’t live and if she did she’d have respiratory problems. Today, declares the thankful mom, “She is perfectly normal.”

That experience gave special significance to the words she would later sing as the soloist on the popular Tri-City Singers single Encourage Yourself:

“Sometimes you have to encourage yourself. Sometimes you have the speak victory during the test. As I minister to you, I minister to myself.  Life can hurt you so ‘til you feel there’s nothing left.”

(“A lot of people didn’t know that was me singing,” she recalls about people not recognizing her voice.)

The work on "Renewed" will have listeners asking where she has been vs. was that you?

"Renewed" is both her personal trial-to-triumph testimony and confidence booster set to music, an artistic affirmation that the songstress has so much more left to give and receive personally and professionally.

Using her authority as the producer, Jones Moffett boldly expands her musical trajectory beyond the traditional sound with which she is associated (although there are two slow organ-backed selections to satisfy those who appreciate a good old fashioned church solo.) The 10 cut album is a smorgasbord of musical styles and straight up good singing that emphasizes healing and being an over-comer, like on the New Orleans jazz inspired  I Feel Your Spirit, a tribute to Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Throughout the album, Jones-Moffet’s very memorable voice always bears a twinge of a quiver that sounds like she’s on the verge of tears or catching the Holy Ghost, heard especially on the disco-soul driven title cut and the techno funk infused Wonder, a tribute to her baby girl’s miraculous development. My personal favourite, Your Grace is an R&B styled ballad that bottom lines how she got renewed: “Don’t need another cliché when you’ve had to deal with real pain.  I wouldn’t be standing here today, no if not for the grace of God.”  Topped off with a live version of Encourage Yourself, Renewed is well above average for a first-time producer.

Jones-Moffett credits her success to having a good team and being a pupil of Donald Lawrence's for over 12 years. (She has been nominated in several categories on the preliminary Stellar Awards ballot including Best New Artist.)

Fans have been anticipating the release of Renewed for nearly two years. During this waiting period the artist gave birth to a son, Jamal Reuben Douglas and said traveling was off limits.

“Creatively I was moving in a different direction due to some unplanned experiences personally,” she explains as another reason for the delay.

Only she could give voice to the metamorphosis in her life and since EMI gospel allowed her to take her time, she did.

In the process she lost some weight and gained the fortitude to surmount life's challenges. Joyfully she tells me she truly feels like a new person.  Renewed bears witness that Sheri Jones-Moffett has a new lease on life and is a "new" woman in her mind, body and spirit.

"Renewed" is in stores now.  Hear cuts from the new album at http://www.myspace.com/sherijonesmoffett.  



CoverGirl Presents Queen Latifah’s Ignite yYour Persona Competition

Source:  www.queenlatifah.com

Calling All MCs, Rappers And Singers With Skills-Here's Your Chance To Bring Your A Game!!  Create a one-minute video performance that showcases your talent and tell us how you Ignite Your Persona. You could be handpicked to be the opening act for one of my upcoming 30 tour dates - plus earn the opportunity to be featured in a COVERGIRL Queen Collection ad, and snag a record deal with Flavor Unit Records plus lots more! Show us what you got-Ignite Your Persona now!

T-Boz Reveals Secret Battle With Brain Tumour


(October 05, 2009)  *Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins revealed that she has been waging a secret battle against a brain tumour that was diagnosed in 2006.  In the Oct. 12 edition of People magazine, the 39-year-old said that she underwent a seven-hour surgical procedure back in 2006 during which doctors peeled the tumour from her brain stem by making a cut behind her ear. The divorced single mother of one said she was battling the tumour earlier this year during filming of NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" but didn't want to make it known to the public.  "I didn't want pity. I was there to help sick children," she told People.  T-Boz, who also suffers from the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, competed on Donald Trump's reality series to raise funds for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia.  She said people are "shocked" when she tells them the news, but added "I won't let you feel sorry for me."

Steve Martin Competes For Top Bluegrass Honours

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Joe Edwards, Associated Press

(October 01, 2009) Nashville, Tenn. — Comedian and banjo picker Steve Martin is competing for an honor at the 20th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards. Martin has already collected Grammy and Emmy awards. He said a few days before the show, to air on satellite radio from Nashville on Thursday night, that he was excited and said winning a bluegrass award “could be better than an Oscar.” Martin's first music album, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo , has topped the bluegrass chart this year. Dan Tyminski, a guitarist and singer, and his band had nine nominations, including entertainer of the year. The duo Dailey & Vincent has seven nods. Martin is a finalist for six awards.

BBC To Air Six-Part Jackson Series

Source: www.globeandmail.com -

(October 01, 2009) London — Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine, who was a member of The Jackson 5, will appear as a judge on a new BBC talent show Move Like Michael Jackson , the public broadcaster said on Thursday. The six-part series will be aired on BBC Three later this year. “Michael was a superb dancer who inspired people across the world to master his moves and create their own unique routines,” Jermaine said in a statement. Executive producer for BBC Entertainment Commissioning, Karl Warner, said the show wanted to “hear from anyone who's ever been inspired by the Moonwalk, the ‘Smooth Criminal' lean or the crotch grab and find out if they can move like Michael Jackson.” Mr. Jackson died suddenly of a drug overdose on June 25. He was 50 years old.

Jay-Z, Keys Film Video Near Ground Zero


(October 02, 2009) *Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – without Lil Mama – filmed the music video for their New York ode "Empire State of Mind" in spots around Tribeca and around Ground Zero on Wednesday.  lBefore performing the song at the "MTV Video Music Awards" last month, Keys told the network how the collaboration for the track on Jay-Z's "Blueprint 3" album came about.  l"Working together on 'Empire State of Mind' was incredible," Keys said. "I've admired Jay-Z for a long time. 'Reasonable Doubt' is my all-time favourite album, period, and he's been on the scene for long time. I always figured that we would do some type of collaboration, and finally, it came together with this. He reached out to me and said, 'I have this big New York record. I feel its right for us to do it together. It has this big Frank Sinatra, take-it-there feeling. I feel like you could really do something with it.'  l"I went by [the studio], took a listen to it," she continued. "I really felt the energy of New York all through it. It felt classic, it felt so good; the piano obviously was in there. I said, 'I love it, so let's do it.' We communicated a lot during the process. I think we both are really happy with how it came out." 

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys video "Empire State of Mind"


Tonya Lee Williams Crosses The Border

Source: www.swaymag.ca - BY: Austin Maxwell

(Fall issue) Canadian actress Tonya Lee Williams — former star of The Young and the Restless and founder of the Reel World film festival — is back in our nation's public eye with her new role on the upcoming season of CBC's The Border. In the series, Williams plays an iron-willed bureaucrat with a mandate to tighten up security at the US/Canada border. Sway spoke with Williams at her home in Los Angeles.

What's the most interesting thing about your new role in The Border?
I like playing strong, intelligent, educated characters. Seeing black women in those types of roles helps break down stereotypes. I like it that my character has to deal with a tough American counterpart, but at the same time brings a certain “Canadian-ness” of being reasonable to the scenes. Unfortunately, my character is based in Washington, so there are no plans to do any shooting in Toronto.

You spoke about breaking stereotypes — what differences do you see between the Canadian and American television industries?

“In Canada, people of colour have more viable options onscreen, whereas in the US, they're mostly still in stereotyped roles. The Border, for instance, is a multiracial production and being Canadian, this isn't unusual. Although there are more opportunities for black actors in the US, it's primarily because of the size of the market. It's still a problem that most of those roles are supportive of stereotypes. It's something you have to take into account as a working actor.

What are some of the challenges specific to black actors in the entertainment industry?
In the US, black males are still gangsters and Asians are still behind the counter at convenience stores. It still takes a lot to get acceptance for a role of a multi-dimensional black character. I'm very thankful for the opportunities that I've had — I don't think I would have had as easy a time breaking into the industry if I had started off in America then. I know racism isn't any less [of a problem] in Canada, but it's expressed differently. In the US, it's segregated, therefore, more visible and present. When I come to Toronto, it's unusual if I don't see a biracial couple or multiracial kids hanging out together. In the US, it's unusual if you see any of that.

You've won an NAACP and Harry Jerome Award. Are you OK with being labelled as a role model?
If you're a black person who is successful at anything — sports, entertainment, politics — you don't have a choice in being a role model. With President Obama in the White House, we are under even more of a microscope than ever. Obama isn't just the president of the US, he's the black president of the US and is expected to act as the most visible representative of all black people. Fortunately, I've never had to bring extra effort to being a role model. It just happens to fit with the way I live and the way I was brought up — to help out, be thoughtful, to set an example by doing.

Muhammad Ali, Through The Eyes Of His Opponents

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman

(October 7, 2009) Vancouver —  Like many boys growing up in the 1970s, Pete McCormack hungrily followed the career of the great Muhammad Ali. He watched him on TV, read about him in The Ring magazine, and handed in unassigned essays about the boxer to his teachers, complete with drawings of Ali. “Which is really saying something,” McCormack, a Vancouverite, jokes. “Because at 10 or 11, I surely wasn't handing anything else in.”

Now 44, McCormack has submitted a grown-up version of those essays: a film that traces the three-time world heavyweight champion's life and truly stupendous career, through the eyes of 10 of his opponents.

Facing Ali (based on the book by The Globe and Mail's Stephen Brunt) has its Canadian premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival Thursday night, but the main event will be at a smaller, private benefit screening in Vancouver – which Ali himself is scheduled to attend.

“I must say it's kind of a surreal thing, but it'll be great if I can give him a hug,” says McCormack, who ate, slept and breathed Ali for the two years he worked on the film (produced in partnership with Muhammad Ali Enterprises), but has never met him.

McCormack interviewed 10 boxers for the project, including Joe Frazier and George Foreman, whom he felt had a significant impact on Ali.

The result, he says, is the opposite of the post-game, locker-room cliché-fest. These men are complex, smart, funny and honest. They are pugilist poets, with colourful descriptions of the fighters they were and the man they faced. Together, with their words, they bring the life of the 11th man to the screen.

“He can't speak for himself, but we can speak for him,” says Ron Lyle in the film. (The man who could once float like a butterfly and sting like a bee has been suffering from Parkinson's disease since the mid-1980s.) McCormack uses their memories as a sort of reminiscent play-by-play. The boxers describe their old fights in fine detail, while the archival footage plays on the screen. Inter-cut are shots of the aging fighters re-enacting some of the moves they tried out as young men against Ali.

The vintage footage (much of it originally found on YouTube) is exhaustive. It traces not only Ali's climactic moments in the ring but also his political story: his conversion to Islam and name change from Cassius Clay, his refusal to be inducted for army service during the war in Vietnam and his resulting conviction for draft evasion and suspension from fighting.

And finally the viewer is exposed to Ali's decline, including the sad comeback attempt against Larry Holmes in 1980. “You knew he was a magic man and yet he wasn't there,” says McCormack. “It's kind of like when you realize your dad doesn't have all the answers.”

The film tells the lesser-known stories of these 10 men as well: how they became boxers; how they came to face the greatest fighter of all time; how they fared in the ring against him; how that moment, sharing Ali's spotlight, shaped the rest of their lives.

Lyle, who faced Ali in 1975, was in jail for second-degree murder when he discovered a talent for boxing. Paroled, he fought as an amateur and later turned pro, going on to face Ali – and lose. Ken Norton was a struggling single father, for whom a hot dog represented a gourmet meal. Having the opportunity to fight Ali, he says, meant food and clothing for his son (Ken Norton Jr., who grew up to be a linebacker who helped to win three Super Bowls).

There is even some Canadian content. Ali travelled to Toronto in 1966 to fight George Chuvalo, and Chuvalo is one of the film's highlights. Articulate, honest and funny, he offers some of the documentary's best commentary.

“Muhammad Ali went to the hospital with bleeding kidneys and me, I went dancing with my wife,” he recalls about their fight at Maple Leaf Gardens. Chuvalo also provides the film's most harrowing moments, as he recounts the drug-related deaths of three of his sons and the suicide of his wife four days after their second son died.

This film is about fighting, almost more than it is about boxing. Ali is celebrated for sticking to his principles and refusing to fight in Vietnam (for which he lost three prime fighting years) and for his position as a role model for the African-American community.

“He never backed down from saying black people are beautiful. And I think of a young girl in 1962 … hearing this guy saying ‘You're beautiful and I'm beautiful,'” says McCormack. “And I really do believe that when he was saying ‘I am the greatest' he was saying ‘we are the greatest.'”

Ali, 67, continues to fight for causes he believes in, these days by raising money as opposed to speaking out. Tomorrow's $3,000-a-ticket fundraiser will benefit Kentucky's Muhammad Ali Center, an educational centre dedicated to his ideals of peace and tolerance.

McCormack will be there to meet his childhood hero – a thrilling prospect especially after making this film.

“I feel like I've been having an affair with him for the last two years.”

Coco. Not

www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Entertainment Reporter

(October 02, 2009) The French gamine who charmed the entire world as a wide-eyed waitress in the 2001 movie Amélie, is poised to do the same as a sad-eyed designer in Anne Fontaine's new film, Coco avant Chanel.

Audrey Tautou is on the phone from Montreal sounding neither like an innocent angel or a world-weary sophisticate, a reassuring message for those who like to think that a real actor portrays other people instead of just recycling themselves.

"I was asked a few times before this to play Chanel," she admits, "and I guess it's because physically we have a little family resemblance. We have dark eyes and a slim silhouette."

And it's true that there are moments in the movie when Tautou looks like she could have stepped out of an album of photographs taken of the French couturier whose emphasis on simplicity as the basis of all style revolutionized the fashion industry in the 20th century.

"But there are more similarities than just our looks," Tautou chimes in, almost anticipating the next question. "People who really know me are aware that I can be as strong-minded as Chanel and that is truly the way in which we are the closest."

Anyone doubting that can remember that as soon as Tautou became a world-class celebrity from Amélie, she didn't stay around to bask in the klieg-lit glory of it all but fled to the jungles of Indonesia to assist at a sanctuary devoted to an endangered species of monkeys.

"I'm a bit more experienced now," she suggests carefully when asked if she might repeat a similar strategy after Coco avant Chanel has finished its world premieres, "and I no longer feel the need to escape."

Tautou has enjoyed a rich and varied film career in France, but other than Amélie and Coco avant Chanel, English language moviegoers only know her from her quirky performance in Dirty Pretty Things and her fade-into-the-background romantic lead in The Da Vinci Code.

"I would love to experience another American movie," she offers tentatively, "but I'm not working for that. I am more comfortable working in my own country, in my own language."

Tautou eagerly shares that she enjoyed working with director Anne Fontaine on the film because "her approach to the character was very clever and subtle. Neither of us wanted this to be a movie about clothes or fashion. We wanted it to be about the birth of a woman's soul."

The film gives her two lovers, both based on real people from Chanel's early life. Étienne Balsan was the older wealthy man who plucked her out of provincial poverty and gave her a door into the world of society, while Arthur "Boy" Capel, young and dashing, was the one true love of her life, who gave her passion.

After he died tragically in 1919, it is said that Chanel never really opened her heart again, and it is shortly after that when Coco avant Chanel ends.

"There was something very intense, almost chemical between them," explains Tautou. "What we call un coup de foudre (a thunderbolt). It gave me the most wonderful emotions to portray."

But, as always, once the project is finished, Tautou is anxious to distance herself from the role she has played.

"For years I kept telling people I was not truly like Amélie. Now I suppose I will have to tell them I am not truly like Chanel.

"I may be as strong-minded as she was," Tautou allows, "but I'm not as confident or as ambitious as she was."

She giggles. "And I don't care about fashion. That's a shocking thing for the woman who just played Coco Chanel to admit."

Lynn Whitfield Speaks Against Breast Cancer

Source: www.eurweb.com -
By Audrey J. Bernard, Lifestyles/Society Editor

(October 02, 2009) *October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to help African American women nationwide get as much information about this horrific disease, the American Cancer Society has hooked up with Novartis Oncology to sponsor a “Taking Chare of Breast Cancer” initiative.

This is a timely and necessary program that can help African American women nationwide.  Emmy Award-winning actress
Lynn Whitfield is the national spokeswoman for the new awareness initiative.

The daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Whitfield is spearheading this new campaign as a means of broadening awareness of the disease and the importance of early detection among African American women.

“As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I felt it was important to work with Novartis Oncology on this initiative and lend my voice to promote awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection,” stated Whitfield.

Whitfield kicked off the campaign in New York City on Saturday, September 26, 2009 where she was joined by Dr. Kathie-Ann Joseph, an organizer of the Breast Cancer in Women of Color: Living Well to Spite Breast Cancer Conference in conjunction with The New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Joseph is a breast cancer surgeon at the Columbia University Medical Center Comprehensive Breast Center and the medical director of Women at Risk at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Breast cancer is a disease that does not discriminate.  However, breast cancer is the most common cancer among African American women, and African American women are more likely than all other women to die from the disease.

Novartis Oncology is sponsoring “Taking Charge of Breast Cancer” to educate African American women on the importance of early detection, treatment and ways to prevent breast cancer from recurring.

“Through the ‘Taking Charge of Breast Cancer’ initiative, we are delivering a message of hope and empowerment to African American women,” stated Whitfield.  “We encourage them to be more proactive in their lifestyle choices and in managing their health by getting yearly mammograms, conducting self-breast exams at regular intervals, eating right and exercising.”

The “Taking Charge of Breast Cancer” resource guide and educational DVD is designed to educate African American women about the lifestyle choices and other factors that may increase their risk for breast cancer as well as resources available for early detection.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States and it is the most common cancer among African American women.  According to the American Cancer Society, although African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer less frequently than white women, African American women die more from the disease due to lack of screening and diagnosis.  In fact, the five-year survival rate of breast cancer for African American women is 77%, compared to 90% for white women.

Early detection and treatment may help increase a woman’s chance of beating breast cancer and this is an important message for all women.  In addition to early detection and treatment, women should be aware of certain risk factors for breast cancer.

These include age, family history, previous breast cancer or recurrence, being overweight, following a healthy and well-balanced diet and leading a sedentary lifestyle.  For those who are diagnosed with the disease, we encourage them to seek treatment early, ask questions of their physicians and stay positive.

Complimentary copies of “Taking Charge of Breast Cancer” DVD and Resource Guide are available at www.acs.org, courtesy of Novartis Oncology and the American Cancer Society; or directly through the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

The free information can also be obtained by visiting the prevention and early detection section of the “In My Community” page on the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org.

“As an actress, I believe that my greatest roles are ones that inspire and uplift,” said Whitfield.  “I am therefore wholly committed to my latest role in the ‘Taking Charge of Breast Cancer’ campaign, as it is a role that can inspire women and their loved ones to take action and control over their health and their lives.”

Whitfield is thrilled to be able to raise awareness among women of color about this life changing disease.  “I am honoured to work with Novartis in support of their efforts to advance this cause as we work to raise awareness, encourage dialogue and inspire others to do the same.”

About Whitfield

Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Lynn Whitfield first watched the likes of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Bette Davis in "All About Eve" from her grandmother's lap.

As a budding actress, Whitfield loved classic movies and with child-like confidence, she could see no reason she could not become an actress and some day play those same types of roles.

Over the course of nearly three decades, the talent of the little girl who dreamed of being on the silver screen has taken her to the heights of the acting profession and earned the respect of the public and her peers.

After gaining attention on the stage as one of the young women of color in Ntozake Shange's poetic panorama of the black female experience, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf." Whitfield began appearing in supporting roles in such films as "Doctor Detroit" (1982) and "Silverado" (1985).

However, she did not achieve real success until starring in television films ("The George McKenna Story", "Johnnie Mae Gibson: FBI", both CBS 1986) and miniseries (the acclaimed "The Women of Brewster Place" ABC 1989).

Whitfield vaulted to international attention in the title role of "The Josephine Baker Story" (1991), the HBO biopic requiring her to age from 18 to 68 to portray the Follies Bergere star turned Resistance and civil rights fighter.

In a highly-publicized search that rivalled that of the hunt for Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind," she beat out more than 500 women considered world-wide for the role and won an Emmy, achieving "the greatest sense of accomplishment and realization of my vision.  It absolutely called upon everything I thought I could do at that point," she said.

Her triumph as Baker, however, proved both a blessing and a curse as she became so closely identified with the Jazz Age legend that other opportunities were slow to come along.

Whitfield had worked as a regular in two ABC series ("Heartbreak" and "Equal Justice") prior to playing Baker, and the dearth of good offers encouraged her to return to the small screen opposite Bill Cosby in "The Cosby Mysteries" (NBC, 1994-95).

Gradually, the parts started coming her way again, and though critical response to such vehicles as "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" and "Gone Fishin'" (both 1996) was tepid, these features increased her exposure.

Whitfield roared back into the winner's column with "Eve's Bayou" (1997), her part as head of a prosperous, socially prominent black family in Louisiana drawing heavily on her blue-blooded Baton Rouge upbringing.

Whitfield returned to a similar milieu as snobby Martha's Vineyard matron Corinne Coles in the ABC miniseries "The Wedding" (1998), executive produced by Oprah Winfrey, who had also executive produced the earlier "The Women of Brewster Place."

More recently, Whitfield joined forces with fellow Louisiana native, Tyler Perry, who handpicked her for a memorable role the popular screen adaptation of his play, “Madea’s Family Reunion” (2006).

Whitfield will soon be seen in the upcoming film, “Mama I Want To Sing,” joining music legend Patti La Belle and outstanding newcomer Ciara, in a re-make of the off-Broadway play on the life of R&B singer Doris Troy.

The ability to tell stories about such a diverse array of women, along with her seminal portrait of Josephine Baker, embodies the career Whitfield envisioned for herself as that little Louisiana princess so many years ago.

Beyond acting, however, Whitfield is venturing into a new role as a producer and modeling with her teen-aged daughter Grace, herself an aspiring actress and dancer, with whom she lives in New York City.

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.


Will And Jada To Co-Host Nobel Concert


(October 01, 2009) *Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith will serve as co-hosts for this year's Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, which will take place on Dec. 11, organizers announced Wednesday  The concert, which comes the day after Nobel prizes are given out, will feature performances by Wyclef Jean, Toby Keith, Donna Summer, Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi as well as Amadou & Mariam, a blues and jazz duet from Mali. "The opportunity to recognize the laureate's contributions to the world peace movement will be an awe-inspiring experience," the Smiths said in a joint statement. "We are both humbled and honoured to take part in the Nobel Peace Prize Concert this year." The winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize is to be announced in Oslo on Oct. 9. The award is always handed out Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

George Tillman Circles 'Faster'


(October 01, 2009) *George Tillman is in final negotiations to helm "Faster," a revenge drama that has Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson attached to star, according to the Hollywood Reporter.  Johnson plays an ex-con named Driver who seeks to avenge the death of his brother in a botched heist 15 years earlier. He winds up hunting down those responsible for his brother's death even as he's pursued by several men bent on killing him. Phil Joanou, who worked with Johnson on the football coming-of-age story "Gridiron Gang," had previously signed on to direct but fell off the project.  CBS Films and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group are co-producing the movie, which aims to begin shooting in January.  Tillman is best known for helming the military drama "Men of Honor" and the urban breakout "Soul Food." He most recently directed rap biopic "Notorious," which Fox Searchlight released to $37 million in box office earlier this year.

Jamie Foxx Makes A 'Date'


(October 02, 2009) *Jamie Foxx joins Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis in the Warner Bros. movie "Due Date," a road-trip comedy from "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the story follows a high-strung father-to-be (Downey) who's forced to hitch a ride with a college slacker (Galifianakis) to make it to the birth on time. Foxx will play Downey's longtime pal who once dated his wife (Michelle Monaghan) and secretly keeps in touch with her. The Oscar winner next stars in the thriller "Law Abiding Citizen" and recently wrapped the romantic comedy "Valentine's Day."


Battle Of The Blades: Faceoff On Figure Skates

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Gayle MacDonald

(October 05, 2009) From the huffing and puffing Tie Domi is doing as he skates off the ice at Upper Canada College – and is that a black eye? – one would think the former Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer had just dropped the gloves and gone another round with his former NHL nemesis, Bob Probert.

But the person responsible for Domi's fatigue and bruises is nothing but a slip of a thing – former Olympic figure skater Christine Hough-Sweeney – whom he's been hoisting and twirling for the past three hours, trying to nail a routine the pair hope will ensure them a spot in the finals in CBC's brand-new reality show,
Battle of the Blades. The show debuts Sunday night, with voting episodes to air Monday nights for seven consecutive weeks.

“Yeah, it's much harder than I thought,” said Domi ruefully of his unfamiliar turn as a member of a figure-skating pair. “Yesterday, I got a shiner. Our feet got tangled and we fell. My elbow is killing me, but luckily she fell on me. The back of her head hit me right here,” he adds, pointing to a tender spot above his right eye. “Everything's so different – just getting the timing down, the routine down. When you play hockey, you just chase the puck and bash into people,” said the long-time Leaf, who, in his career, amassed an amazing 3,515 penalty minutes.

“Luckily, I've had many shiners in my day. I iced the eye pretty good last night. I didn't want it to get too big. Too purple. How to explain to people, yes, I have a shiner with figure skates on?” chuckles the bruiser.

Despite Hough's diminutive size, the native of Waterloo, Ont. (who now lives in Boston with her husband, former Boston Bruin Don Sweeney, and their twin boys) is not fragile. Hence, her nickname – Tuffy. Hair in pigtails and dressed in black Lululemon tights and a long-sleeved undershirt, she looks more like a lissome teenager than a mom with two 10-year-olds. And like Domi, she says it's been a real education learning how to match her stride to a hockey player's. “Everything they've been taught is the opposite of what we've been taught. They skate more bent over their skates, and we are straighter. Their strides are shorter and choppier so they can get to where they have to go. Ours are longer,” says the 5-foot-2 skater, who partnered for years with Doug Ladret (a coach on the show), competing five times at the World Figure Skating Championships and twice at the Winter Olympics.

The brainchild of veteran sports agent Kevin Albrecht and Olympian skater/coach/choreographer Sandra Bezic, Battle of the Blades has been 21/2 years in the making. Albrecht says he got the idea after seeing Dancing With The Stars, reasoning that the combination of hockey players and figure skaters would produce the same kind of magic as dancers and celebrities – particularly for a Canadian audience.

The winners get to donate $100,000 to the charity of their choice, and each week's cast-off team gets $25,000 to direct where they choose.

But as Domi and Hough can attest, the preparation has been no cake walk, with the teams practising 60 to 100 hours in cold arenas around the country since the end of August.

Watching the pair rehearse, you can see the challenges. Domi, looking like the bulldog he's always been in his sweats and Helly Hansen sweatshirt, is careful with Hough, raising her easily up in the air over his head, and later, slipping (well, fairly gracefully) through her tiny legs.

Several times, though, he grimaces – once when he accidentally hits his partner in the chest. It's clearly hard work for a hockey guy used to throwing muscle around the ice, not a breakable woman. For her part, Hough's a sport – although the odd look of terror does cross her face when Domi's trying to get the hang of a one-legged spin with her head a few scant inches from the ice.

Domi says he's gained a new-found respect for the athleticism of figure skaters – and for the time they put in.

“Our routine is 3 minutes. In hockey, your longest shift is a minute. Halfway through, you start to get fatigued and the first thing that goes is your concentration. It's at that point you have to bear down because if your brain ain't going, you can screw the whole thing up,” says Domi, one of three hockey players on the show who have opted out of wearing skates with picks for fear of doing a face plant. “Before this, the closest thing I came to figure skating was taking my youngest daughter, Avery, to her lessons,” says Domi, laughing. (He has two other children, and son Max has Type 1 diabetes; his and Hough's money will go to the Diabetes Hope Foundation.)

Albrecht says most of the skaters, both male and female, are “covered in bumps and bruises. … I don't think some of the hockey players realized how dangerous some of it is. We did an off-ice lifting class where Ladret told them about a horrible accident he had [with Hough] in the eighties. He had her in a high lift, hit a rut and knew she was going to go down and hit her head. The first rule is get yourself between the girl and the ice, which he did, and fractured his skull,” recounts Albrecht. “Doug told that story and the whole room went silent.

“We also had to give them a class on how-to-grab-a-girl 101. To teach them that if they're in a situation – and they're going down – to grab the girl anywhere. It doesn't matter because they've already been grabbed everywhere before. All the guys were mulling that over when Ken [Daneyko] chimes in, ‘Well, does that work in reverse too?'“ In addition to the two regular judges, Bezic and two-time gold medalist Dick Button, the show features weekly guest judges such as Kristi Yamaguchi and Don Cherry, and is hosted by broadcaster Ron MacLean of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and Kurt Browning, four-time figure-skating world champion.

“Every hockey player who watches it might have a smile on their face, but they'll also think, man I don't think I could do that,” predicts Albrecht. “When Ken – who won three Stanley cups with the New Jersey Devils – walked into the Gardens [the show is taped at Maple Leaf Gardens], he said it was the most nervous he's ever been in his life. You have to have guts to do this.”

Plus, Albrecht hopes Battle of the Blades breaks down some stereotypes. “I got a letter from a mom in Kingston, thanking whoever created the show. She has an 11-year-old son who plays hockey and is in a skating club. But he gets teased for the figure skating. She wrote that as soon as he found out Domi was figure skating, he felt great about it. I hope that thinking spreads 100-fold across the country.”

As for Domi, his immediate goal is to simply make it through Round 1. “My daughter said to me, ‘Dad if you go out first, that's just embarrassing.”

Battle of the Blades premieres tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET on CBC-TV.

CBS Producer Pleads Not Guilty In Letterman Plot

www.thestar.com - David Bauder, Associated Press

(October 02, 2009) NEW YORK–A CBS News employee pleaded not guilty today to trying to blackmail David Letterman for $2 million in a plot that spurred the TV host to acknowledge sexual relationships with women who worked on his show.

Robert J. "Joe" Halderman, a producer for the true-crime show 48 Hours, entered the plea in a Manhattan court as he was arraigned on one count of attempted first-degree grand larceny, punishable by five to 15 years upon conviction. Bail was set at $200,000.

Assistant District Attorney Judy Salwen told the judge Halderman was in debt, but did not elaborate. "The evidence is compelling,'' she said. "It shows the defendant is desperate, and he is capable of doing anything.''

The prosecutor said Halderman gave the talk show host a package of materials that "contained clear, explicit and actual threats that indicate this defendant (wanted to) destroy the reputation of Mr. Letterman and to submit him and his family to humiliation and ridicule.''

Halderman, hands cuffed behind his back, stared at the floor during most of the hearing and said only, "not guilty.''

His lawyer, Gerald Shargel, said Halderman worked at CBS for 27 years and had no prior criminal record. He described him as an involved father, who coached soccer, baseball and football for his two children, ages 11 and 18.

"This story is far more complicated than what you heard this afternoon," Shargel said outside of court, but he would not elaborate.

Halderman was ordered in 2007 to pay his ex-wife $6,800 per month in child and spousal support until May 2011, when the payments will be reduced to $5,966 until May 2014, according to papers filed in Stamford Superior Court.

He had asked for a reduction to $2,039 per month because his ex-wife, Patty Montet, was sharing a house in New Canaan with a man. But Montet argued – and the judge agreed – that her living arrangement was for convenience and not romantic.

Montet also claimed Halderman was getting $1,500 a month from his live-in girlfriend, Stephanie Birkitt, who was an assistant to Letterman on the Late Show and frequently appeared on camera with the host in comedy bits. Halderman earned about $214,000 in 2007.

"Mr. Halderman claims he is struggling financially, but it is difficult to see what, other than mismanagement and extravagant spending, is the reason for this," Montet's attorneys said in the court file. "His is a world of golf trips, vacations, increasing 401K assets, comprehensive benefits, security in employment, earnings as an award-winning producer for CBS, and home ownership.''

Prosecutors say Halderman demanded $2 million last month in exchange for not releasing information that would ruin Letterman's reputation. Letterman told his viewers Thursday that the threat concerned sexual liaisons with female staffers.

The district attorney's office said Halderman left a letter and other material for Letterman early Sept. 9. He wrote that he needed ``to make a large chunk of money" by selling Letterman a screenplay treatment – an entertainment-business term for a synopsis used to pitch a screenplay.

The supposed treatment said Letterman's world would "collapse around him" when information about his private life was disclosed, leading to "a ruined reputation" and damaging his professional and family life, prosecutors said.

The note also mentioned Letterman's "beautiful and loving son," prosecutors said.

It was not clear whether the reference was meant as a threat to harm the boy. Letterman was the victim of a 2005 plot by a former painter at his Montana ranch to kidnap his nanny and son for a ransom.

After receiving the materials, Letterman immediately contacted his lawyer, who arranged a meeting with Halderman. At the meeting, Halderman demanded $2 million to keep the material secret, the district attorney's office said.

After the meeting, Letterman and his lawyer contacted the DA's office, and the investigation began.

In an extraordinary monologue before millions of viewers, the late-night host admitted that he had sexual relationships with female employees. Letterman said that "this whole thing has been quite scary," but he mixed in jokes while outlining what had happened to him.

It was a shock because the 62-year-old Letterman had married longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko in March. The couple began dating in 1986 and have a son, Harry, born in November 2003. It was not immediately clear when the relationships to which Letterman admitted took place, or how long they lasted.

Three weeks ago, Letterman said, he got in his car early in the morning and found a package with the letter saying, "I know that you do some terrible, terrible things and that I can prove that you do some terrible things." He acknowledged the letter contained proof.

He said it was terrifying "because there's something insidious about (it). Is he standing down there? Is he hiding under the car? Am I going to get a tap on the shoulder?''

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the district attorney's office set up the undercover sting operation at the swank Jumeirah Essex House hotel in Manhattan. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation continues.

Detectives were in an adjoining room with recording equipment and surveillance as Letterman's attorney met with Halderman and discussed terms of the extortion, the official said.

"At one point he told the attorney that he didn't want to have to work for the rest of his life, and the number he came up with was $2 million," the law enforcement official said.

There were two subsequent meetings, with the man given a phoney $2 million check at the last one. Letterman joked on his show it was like the giant ceremonial check given to winners of golf tournaments.

He told the audience that he had to testify before a grand jury on Thursday.

"I was worried for myself. I was worried for my family," he said. "I felt menaced by this, and I had to tell them all of the creepy things that I had done.''

He said, "The creepy stuff was that I have had sex with women who work for me on this show. My response to that is yes, I have. Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Yes, it would, especially for the women.''

Whether they wanted to make the relationships public was up to them, he said. "It's been a very bizarre experience," he said. ``I felt like I needed to protect these people. I need to protect my family. I need to protect myself. Hope to protect my job.''

CBS said in a statement that "we believe his comments speak for themselves.''

Letterman won't be taping a show Friday. Friday night's show was taped Thursday.

Herds Of Fans For Horses And A Heartthrob

Source: www.thestar.com - Sarah Deveau,
Special To The Star

(October 04, 2009) CALGARY–Teen girls across Canada are eagerly anticipating tonight's season premiere of Heartland, the family drama holding CBC's illustrious Sunday 7 p.m. slot. This coveted hour was once home to Canada's longest-running dramatic series The Beachcombers, but Heartland star Graham Wardle isn't going to speculate on whether his show will have that kind of staying power.

"Everyone's been telling me that it's this sort of classic Canadian time slot," he says from the show's set in south Calgary, where interior scenes are shot. "I hope that whatever the show's lifespan is, that it lives up to its potential."

At just 21 years old, the affable Mission, B.C. native has been busy living up to his own. Wardle's career has quietly gained momentum since his childhood start in the business. He starred opposite Meg Ryan and Adam Brody in 2007's In the Land of Women after years of roles on shows such as The X-Files, The Sentinel, The Outer Limits and Supernatural. However, he experienced his first few small-screen successes at a time when his family didn't even own a TV.

"When I was six or seven my mom decided to take the TV away from us, so I didn't have TV from six to 17 or so. I was home schooled until Grade 6, and then went to public school. I was out of the loop of a lot of stuff," he says, but it didn't kill his appetite for entertainment technology. Wardle stays in touch with his fans through the show's IloveHeartland.com website, the CBC show blog, and through Twitter, as he tweets from set. The actors and crew feel this connectivity the show has cultivated with fans is integral to its growing audience.

A feel-good family drama parents watch alongside their teen daughters, Heartland is adapted from an international best-selling series of novels of the same name. The show, entering its third season, revolves around sisters Amy and Lou Fleming, who are healing from their mother's death by helping injured and traumatized horses on their Alberta ranch.

Wardle's boy-band good looks, hazel eyes and aw-shucks personality have proven irresistible to some girls. He may not be up there with fellow British Columbian Taylor Kitsch, who has gained a substantial following as Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights. But in playing Amy's boyfriend Ty Borden, Wardle has portrayed a likeable guy fans have connected deeply with.

"We can all relate to him," says Lisa Johnson, a 14-year-old from Gloucester, England, and avid ILoveHeartland.com poster. "He started off the series as an obnoxious kid, but we've seen him grow and mature over the seasons into a kind, caring person. I think Graham portrays this character very well – he's a very believable actor."

This season will see the couple's relationship deepen as Amy is faced with overnight stardom from an Internet video of her miraculous work with a horse. Set in the Rocky Mountain foothills and featuring strongly Western Canadian storylines, the show has nonetheless captured attention from audiences across Canada and even the international market. Heartland airs in France, Germany, Spain, Africa, Australia and South America, among others. It will crack the American market in the fall of 2010 when it enters U.S. syndication.

Some of that distinctly regional flavour may be one reason the show hasn't amassed a huge following in Toronto, where cast members have made annual appearances at the Royal Winter Fair. But in general, Wardle notes the show's setting shouldn't be an issue.

"It is Canadian, but that's a bonus, because it's really about the story. You can't bank the show on being all Canadian. It's Canadian, that's awesome, but I want good stories, and I want good characters. We want to tell good stories that are current and relevant ... eastern viewers can see a part of themselves in the storylines, and the western atmosphere is just a nice change of pace."

Stargate Universe's Date with Destiny

Source: www.thestar.com - Susan Shaw,
Special To The Star

(October 01, 2009) Canadian actor Louis Ferreira – who may be better known to many television viewers as Justin Louis (Durham County's Ray Prager) – eyes the crew cut-sporting waiter taking our order and comments "Nice haircut, soldier." It seems his character is bleeding over into his real life.

Ferreira's latest role is Colonel Everett Young in
Stargate Universe, the latest instalment in the science fiction Stargate franchise, which sprouted from the1994 movie starring James Spader and Kurt Russell. Stargate SG-1, starring Richard Dean Anderson, lasted an amazing 10 seasons, beginning in 1997; the spin-off Stargate: Atlantis ran five seasons, having just ended earlier this year.

Stargate SG-1 followed a secret military team as they explore the Stargates, which are basically tunnels through space that connect with each other, allowing instantaneous travel to other planets. Stargate: Atlantis moved the show to another galaxy, where a group of military personnel and scientists discover the secrets of the ancient city and battle alien threats. Stargate Universe (SGU) moves the franchise in a whole new direction.

The new series, which also stars Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Trainspotting) as Dr. Nicholas Rush, features a group of soldiers, scientists and civilians who are forced to jump through the Stargate to an unknown destination when their hidden base comes under attack. They emerge on an ancient spaceship – the aptly named Destiny – with limited food, water and air, and apparently very little chance of making it back to Earth.

Ferreira is impressed with the decision of co-creators Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper to switch things up with the new show.

"I was a fan of SG-1, and I was a fan of the idea that they wanted to change the show, or evolve it, maybe would be the right word. It's grittier and edgier. There is no reason for them to change a format that works, so it's very ballsy, for lack of a better word, for them to go in a different direction and get someone like Robert Carlyle to be the lead. I was very impressed with that execution."

When any television show moves in a new direction, there is always the chance of alienating old fans. Ferreira doesn't seem too worried about it.

"Hopefully fans of the old series will see it as an evolution and give it a chance. Fans of shows like the CSIs, Lost and House will give it a chance because it's a serial drama with the backdrop of space. Hopefully the two come together and merge into just good television."

Instead of focusing on the alien "threat of the week" idea that prevailed in much of SG-1 where Earth was often in danger from various alien species, the new series goes deeper into the individual characters.

The people on board Destiny are worried about their own survival, which brings much more realism to the show than could be seen in either SG-1 or Atlantis. SGU's darker tone and more serious, character-driven storylines call to mind comparisons with Battlestar Galactica, a show which Ferreira says "bridged the gap between the old Stargate and (serial dramas) and found something completely unique, that has its own niche." It looks like Stargate Universe might fit nicely into that niche as well.

Stargate Universe premieres 9 p.m.Friday on Space, followed at 11 p.m. with a behind-the-scenes look at the show on Innerspace.

Michael Ealy Joins Abc's 'Flashforward'

www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M. Yarbrough (interview by Audrey Bernard)

(October 05, 2009) *Michael Ealy has signed on to join the cast of ABC's time-travel drama "FlashForward," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The freshman series follows a team of FBI agents led by Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) dealing with the aftermath of a global event where everyone blacks out for 2 minutes, 17 seconds. Ealy will play the recurring role of Benford's nemesis.

The ABC Studios-produced program also stars Courtney B. Vance as Benford's boss, Stanford Wedeck, Director of the Los Angeles Field Office of the FBI.

 Meanwhile, Ealy next appears in Screen Gems' "Takers," opposite Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Jay Hernandez, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen.

 Due Feb. 19, 2010, the plot follows a notorious group of criminals (Elba, Walker, T.I., Brown, Christensen and Ealy) who continue to baffle police by pulling off perfectly executed bank robberies. They are in and out like clockwork, leaving no evidence behind and laying low in between heists. But when they attempt to pull off one last job with more money at stake than ever before, the crew may find their plans interrupted by a hardened detective (Dillon) who is hell-bent on solving the case. Watch the trailer below:

Late Nights Ready For Mo'!

www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M. Yarbrough (interview by Audrey Bernard)

(October 05, 2009) “I'm not competing with nobody. What’s meant for me, I'm gonna get. What's meant for them, they're gonna get.”-- Mo'Nique

*Queen of Comedy Mo’Nique is going where no African American woman has gone before – the host desk of a late-night talk show.

“The Mo’Nique Show” premieres tonight on BET with first guest, Mo’s good friend and fellow comedic actor Steve Harvey. Yes, it's another first for blacks and black women specifically. But how did it happen?

 “The same way that I got called on to the ‘Apollo’ is the same way that I walked into this talk show,” Mo’Nique said of the pioneering opportunity. Just as she had received a call from show producer Suzanne DePasse about hosting “Showtime at the Apollo,” she got a call from another African American female pioneer for her new show.

“This amazing sister named Loretha Jones, who is now president of programming at BET called me up and said, ‘I am going to be the new president at BET, and I would love to be in business with you. Can you come in and talk and have a meeting?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ When I went in and sat down with her, I immediately knew that she got it,” she said. “I’ve met with every executive that’s ever been at BET, but when we walked out of the room with that sister, we knew that she got it.”

Monique said that it was her husband, who also co-executive produces the show with her, who came up with the idea for a late-night show for her.

“I actually had three other talk show pilots. The first one I had with Disney. It was me, Wendy Williams, and they kept switching up the third lady, so we didn’t know who that was going to be. That didn’t go,” Monique said.

Incidentally, Williams’ Fox talk show is syndicated on BET and will air after Mo’Nique’s.

“Then I had another talk show deal with Fox at the same time Queen Latifah had her deal. They took both our shows to the President of Fox at the time and he said, ‘No one knows Mo’Nique, but we know Queen Latifah.’ I said, ‘Go ahead Queen, ‘cause it will make it easier for the next one of us coming through.”

Not too long after, Mo’Nique got another talk show deal, this time with Telepictures. However, a month later, as Mo’ described, Tyra Banks came through the door.

“I see the shift going to Tyra,” Mo’Nique recalled.

After speaking about the issue with company execs, they finally explained that they couldn’t “sell” Mo’Nique to the higher ups. And as history has revealed, Tyra’s show took off.

“But I was happy for Tyra. I said, ‘If you get in there, it’s going to make it easier for the next one coming in. So this time, there was no pilot. It was me, my husband, and Loretha Jones. That’s how we came up with ‘The Mo’Nique Show.’”

The comedic star said that she didn’t take any of the failed attempts as a negative and she said that she completely understood that execs weren’t confident in her name at that time.

“I wasn’t in a place where I could say, ‘I can't believe he said that nobody knows me.’ It wasn’t my time for that. When it’s my time, it’s the time for it,” she said. “I’m appreciative for those experiences. I am appreciative of Queen and Tyra. They made it so that I didn’t have to do a pilot. I thank those sisters. I thank Oprah. I thank Whoopi.”

With trailblazers like that, Mo’Nique is pretty confident about taking on any other talk show competition if she believed in external competition, that is.

“I’m not competing with nobody. What’s meant for me, I’m gonna get. What’s meant for them, they’re gonna get,” she said of fighting for the 11:00 pm TV audience. “The only person I compete with is me. I want to be the best Mo’Nique I can be. If I start paying attention to that one and that one and that one, I stop paying attention to me.”

“The Mo’Nique Show” is an original BET show, executive produced by Mo’, her husband and Merlin Gill. The show premieres with guests Steve Harvey and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. This week, Mo’ will welcome the cast of “Lincoln Heights,” Chris Rock, Hill Harper, and more.

“It’s called ‘The Mo’Nique Show,’ but it’s our show; it’s ours, and it’s going to take all of us to make it work,” she said.

Mo’Nique also discussed her next big film project and head turner,"Precious," which showcases her impressive dramatic acting skills.

She also took the time to clear up what seems to be a misconception about the film. She told EUR's New York correspondent, Audrey Bernard, that “Precious” was not conceived and produced in the Tyler Perry/Oprah camp.

“I have not yet had the privilege of working with Tyler, but we’re involved in this project together,” she said of the film. “People are under the impression that it is a Tyler Perry film or an Oprah Winfrey film. It’s not. It is a Lee Daniels film. It is Lee Daniels Production. It is Lee Daniels who directed it.”

“What happened was, the two most powerful black people that we know of – Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry – saw the film and said ‘Let’s come together and put our name in to say we’re supporting it,’ she continued. “It was just brothers and sisters coming together, but in reference to the film itself, it is Lee Daniels’. It was that brother who had the vision to take that book and put that incredible piece of work on film.”

Mo’Nique’s performance in the film is said to be stellar. So impressed, talk maven Winfrey herself called Mo’ and asked her what dress she’d be wearing to the Oscars.

While fans await such a nomination, they can catch Mo’Nique every night at 11 pm Eastern/Pacific (10 pm Central) on BET for “The Mo’Nique Show,” which promises more than chatter and comedic newcomers.

“Not only will we have new comedians, we’ll have new authors, new designers, new singers, and new poets. When we go on other shows we have to be so on the top of it that we have to have exceeded so much. This show is for us. It is for the singer in Harlem that wouldn’t get a chance unless she’d sold 25 million copies. I want the sister or brother that wrote that book, but nobody would give them an opportunity, but it’s the best piece of literature you could pick up. That’s what this show is. Very grass roots.”

For more information on “The Mo’Nique Show,” visit the BET website at www.bet.com.


Ken Finkleman Set To Make Series For TMN

Source:  www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

(October 05, 2009) Ken Finkleman, creator of the acclaimed CBC series, The Newsroom, is returning with a new show about a neurotic TV star named George. Shaftesbury Films says Finkleman will write and star in Good Dog for The Movie Network and Movie Central. Billed as "a hilarious half-hour tragedy," the series revolves around George, a man with a TV show loosely based on his life. George lives with a gorgeous woman half his age and his friend Doug bears the brunt of George's neuroses. Production is set to begin later this year. Finkleman earned an international Emmy for his work on the satirical late-'90s series, The Newsroom, which featured a self-absorbed, neurotic TV news director named George Findlay.

Sherri Shepherd's Sitcom Teased Tonight


(October 05, 2009) *Lifetime will air a sneak peek of Sherri Shepherd's new autobiographical comedy "Sherri," tonight at 7 p.m. before it settles into its regular 10 p.m. Tuesday timeslot beginning Oct. 13.  In the show, Shepherd plays a newly single mom, paralegal and part-time comedienne/actress who tries to get back into the dating scene and move on with her life after divorcing her cheating husband. Sherri finds solace and support among her girlfriends at the office while juggling her hectic life. The series co-stars Tammy Townsend ("Lincoln Heights"), Kali Rocha ("Grey’s Anatomy"), Elizabeth Regen ("The Black Donnellys") and Kate Reinders ("Ugly Betty").


Chazz Palminteri Returns Hit Movie To Its Off-Broadway Roots

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

(October 03, 2009) LAS VEGAS–If you've seen TV and movie tough guy Chazz Palminteri in any of his dozens of showcases, from Bullets Over Broadway to The Usual Suspects, you'd probably think he's not afraid of anything.

But even he thought twice before bringing his stage and film hit
A Bronx Tale to Sin City, where it's opening at The Venetian Hotel's Showroom on Oct. 7 for a two-week run. "Everybody says to me `Things don't work in Vegas. You'll be sorry!' But I say, `Yeah? We'll see, we'll see, we'll see.'"

That familiar raspy voice that became a fixture in most North American households during the ad campaign for Vanilla Coke is a bit more muted when it comes to you across a table in a plush Italian restaurant, but that broad brow, determined gaze and thick-lipped scowl stay the same.

"I always wanted to do this show here," he says, poking his finger at me emphatically in true wise-guy fashion. "I know it's good. I know it's going to work."

This isn't false bravado. Palminteri was a solid, if unknown, TV and film actor before he sat down in 1988 to change things. "I'll write a one-man show," he reasoned. "That way they're going to have to notice me. Now what can I write about?"

Palmenteri went back to his childhood and recalled something that happened when he was 9 years old in the Bronx and saw a gangland execution happen five feet away from him, setting into motion a series of events that would shape his whole young adulthood.

The resulting property wound up as an off-Broadway hit and – after Palminteri resisted dozens of offers to turn it into a film without him – was made into a smash 1993 movie by Robert DeNiro.

Then in 2007, Palminteri realized that "there was a whole generation out there who might have seen the movie, but never knew it was a stage show first" and so he brought it back to Broadway this time, for a successful five-month run.

A well-received national tour followed and now it's on to Las Vegas, where Palminteri thinks he's got the odds beat.

"Hitchcock used to say there were only three things you could do to an audience: make 'em laugh, make 'em cry and scare 'em. Well, in A Bronx Tale, I do all three!"

Kate Hennig: Billy Elliot's new Mrs. Wilkinson

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(October 03, 2009) NEW YORK—You could say that Kate Hennig has been lucky, but once you've spent 10 minutes in the presence of this brisk, bright woman, you'll quickly realize that luck has had nothing to do with all the success she's known in her career.

This Tuesday night on Broadway, the Ontario-based Hennig takes over the leading role of dancing teacher Mrs.Wilkinson in the smash Tony Award-winning musical Billy Elliot.

While it may seem that chance played a part in this latest big break, Hennig is a prime example of how what's important aren't the cards that fate deals you, but how you manage to play them.

Almost two years ago, one of the lead performers in the Toronto production of White Christmas lost her voice less than 72 hours from the opening. Hennig stepped into the role, playing it with such aplomb that the New York creative team insisted she play the same part in the following year's tour.

Consequently, she was in Gotham a year ago when Billy Elliot opened to rave reviews, and was beginning to cast about for replacements. Do the math. Hennig is now making her debut on Broadway.

"All these things fall into place," observes Hennig over a hearty breakfast in New York's theatre district before starting a long day's rehearsals. "It feels like something bigger than me is at work here."

And she's right. Although she's worked pretty steadily for the past quarter-century, you'd have to be a theatre buff to clock Hennig's face and name.

Her four seasons at Stratford offered no starring roles ("although I got to play some nice little stuff"); her Dora Award-winning breakthrough turn in 1993's Ratbag was in one of the most disliked shows in CanStage's history; when she played Rose in Gypsy at the Shaw Festival, she was only the alternate; and her much-hailed performance in The Danish Play was seen only by limited audiences during its two short Toronto runs.

But none of that has mattered to Hennig. "It's the quality of the work that counts, not the money you make or the prizes you get," she sagely observes, adding dryly, "Of course, it's also nice to pay your bills on time."

The 47 year-old Hennig ("I'm proud of my age!") was born in Harlow, northeast of London, to Canadian parents.

Her father, she relates, "was a Lutheran minister who went to England to convert the heathens," and when that gets the expected laugh, she explains.

"There had not been a Lutheran Church in England since Queen Elizabeth I, and after World War II the Lutherans decided they would try to establish a church in England, so my father started knocking on doors."

In light of her latest job, it's interesting that her primary memory of those early years is "my best friend, Hillary, who was older than me and a ballerina.

"I was this little, short, fat butterball and all I wanted to do was dance. My parents looked at me and said `Well, maybe the piano ...'"

Although Hennig wouldn't settle on show business as a career for some time yet, she recalls that "it seems to me I've always been performing," and one of her first memories is at the age of 4 in a Christmas pageant, "singing a solo while putting together a little crèche.

"I have no idea why I liked it so much, but it was just as natural as running or bike riding were to other kids. It made me feel good. Something I was born with."

At the age of 7, Hennig and her family moved to Edmonton, and it was there she had her first real audience experiences at the Citadel Theatre. But she still couldn't decide if her career should be "law or medicine or playing the first trombone."

But then her high school drama club started lunchtime cabarets where "we'd serve dessert and entertain the other students. I'd be singing `I learned the truth at 17,' even though I was only 15. I had accelerated a grade, so I thought that was okay."

But, joking aside, the relationship with the audience made Hennig feel that "Oh yes, this is what I want to do!"

After high school, she went to York University "for about 20 minutes. Then I realized it was way too slow for me, dropped out and got a job after the first audition I ever got, back in 1981."

Over the years, Hennig kept working steadily in Toronto, but when her then-husband, Ian Prinsloo, was named artistic director of Theatre Calgary in 1997, she followed him there.

"Calgary was very important to me," she says.

"I played roles I never would have gotten to play in Toronto. I learned how to carry a show. Stoppard, Albee, amazing writers, amazing parts."

The climax of that period (and the role she remembers most fondly) was Sally Bowles in Cabaret, which she played in 2001, after her marriage to Prinsloo had ended and she was on her way back to living in Toronto.

"I was too old and so wrong for the part in so many external ways," she admits, "but right in so many internal ways and so it worked.

"I came out on stage in a corset and tights and I seemed to be saying, `My big fat ass is going to stick right out over all of you in the audience and you're going to love it!"

After that, she went to London and earned her MA in Voice Studies at the Central School of Speech and Drama, then began teaching at the National Theatre School.

But the choice roles kept coming her way, such as The Danish Play and her involvement with the Royal Shakespeare Company/National Arts Centre co-production of Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad.

It was during that period Hennig discovered her considerable skills as a blogger, which she'll be resuming with Billy Elliot, as of Tuesday (at www.billyelliotbroadway.com).

But the voluble Hennig suddenly grows quiet, contemplating her upcoming Broadway debut and how she got there.

"There are so many things from my life that have come together here: dance, teaching, musical theatre. I look at all these roads converging and say `I guess this was meant to happen.'"

Buddies Strips Down For Season Opener

Source: www.thestar.com - Robert Crew,
Special To The Star

Neon Nightz
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 4)
Created and performed by Sasha Von Bon Bon and Kitty Neptune. Until Oct. 10 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St. 416-975-8555.

(October 01, 2009) The stage, fringed with lights, is dominated by two 16-ft. strippers' poles. Smoke drifts in and around the cabaret-style table and chairs. Shadows dance as coloured lights flash here, there and everywhere.

The atmosphere (created by designer And Moro) is that of a Montreal strip club in the 1990s. And Sasha Von Bon Bon, who worked in such clubs at that time before making her name as a sex columnist, is our affable, non-threatening guide to this exotic demi-monde.

Neon Nightz, created and performed by the Scandelles' Von Bon Bon and dancer/choreographer Kitty Neptune, marks the opening of Buddies in Bad Times' season. It's a joyful beginning – filled with colour and female nudity, with humour and scraps of wisdom.

This is strip-club-as-refuge, strip-club-as-confessional. Men, Von Bon Bon says, talk to strippers about their wives all the time, and with an abundance of love and affection. But the men are incomplete. Their day-to-day life requires a secret life not only to make it whole but sometimes just so that they can function at all.

Basically, Neon Nightz is storytelling punctuated with a series of lively, exotic dances. There's no particular arc to the stories, just a look at human life and sexuality in all its twists and turns.

Sasha, for example, tells a quite lovely story about an older couple, Pierre and Marie, owners of a hardware story who were in the habit of hiring her to dance for them (actually for Marie, rather than Pierre). The story contains several surprises and ends with a glorious, life-affirming punchline delivered by Marie.

Another highlight of the show: a spoof of a lesbian exotic dance, extravagantly performed by the duo and laced with humour.

Von Bon Bon is smart, observant and witty while dancer Neptune looks wonderful (with and without clothes) and performs acrobatic miracles on those poles. There's also a live soundtrack, beautifully performed by one Countess Christsmasher (Babs Vermeulen).

The show, directed by David Oiye is somewhat loose and unfocussed, however. The dances occasionally flow out of what has gone before but, as often as not, seem to be pleasant erotic decoration.

This is entertaining burlesque, to be sure; there's just a nagging feeling that it could possibly be a whole lot more.

1 Fine Play, 3 Fine Actors

www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

Rock 'n' Roll
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 4)
By Tom Stoppard. Directed by Donna Feore. Until Oct. 24 at the Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E. 416-368-3110

(October 02, 2009) It may not be perfect, but it's still
Rock 'n' Roll to me.

Tom Stoppard's amazing play about revolutionaries and the music in their lives opened the Canadian Stage Company season on Thursday night and it certainly deserves a visit thanks to the virtuosic brilliance of the writing and the searing power of its three leading actors.

Kenneth Welsh, Fiona Reid and Shaun Smyth give performances so public that they speak to a whole generation and yet so private that they dig deep inside the human spirit into shadowy places usually left unexplored by lesser mortals.

Like a manic-depressive juggler, Stoppard fills the air with brightly coloured ideological spheres so numerous that you wonder how one man could keep them all aloft.

At one point, he's simultaneously discussing the history of the former Czechoslovakia, the decline of socialism in England, the private life of Pink Floyd, the nature of Sappho's poetry, the psychological ramifications of breast cancer and the inner workings of a most fascinating, yet dysfunctional family.

It's all too much, you might say, as your head starts spinning, but treat it like you would any spectacular ride at an amusement park and hold on for your intellectual life.

What do we have to cling to at the end? Stoppard's answer is simple. We've only got rock 'n' roll and each other, but that better be enough.

It's a stunning script and it meets its match in its three leads. Kenneth Welsh is Max, the old British communist lion, roaring through the winter of his discontent with a mixture of bravado and terror. Watch how the bold confidence of Welsh's voice is belied by the need in his eyes. It takes a rare man to be that strong and that weak, but Welsh fills the bill.

Fiona Reid is right by his side, playing both his academic wife dying of breast cancer in Act 1, and their daughter, 20 years later, in Act 2. This amazing woman delivers speeches of a candour and pain unmatched in my memory as she talks about what losing her body, piece by piece, has meant to her.

And then she reappears after the interval as a totally different woman, sharing the DNA of the one she created before. Reid as a dippy hippie, trying to hold on to self-respect in the present as well as good times from the past, brings a new definition to awesome.

And then there's Shaun Smyth, as an unwilling Czech revolutionary who loves rock music more than life and liberty, or so he thinks. It's astonishing to witness Smyth move from the hips like a socialist panther in the play's first section, only to tighten up into frigid, abject despair in the second. His work is subtle and wonderful.

Alas, after that, the compliments stop, since most of the supporting cast are a pretty mechanical bunch, best left unnamed.

Director Donna Feore may be sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of this complex play, but she has staged them in a singularly flat-footed way on Michael Gianfrancesco's series of shallow horizontal risers that causes all scenes to soon look the same and have people constantly facing sideways.

The contrasting worlds of Cambridge and Prague (one leafy green, the other grey and desolate) aren't sufficiently distinguished and, after a while, it all blends together in a most unfortunate way.

A play this intellectual needs all the richly textured reality a director can give it, but Feore's slickly stylized approach ultimately robs us of some necessary emotion.

There are nicely zappy transitional videos by Cameron Davis, but they only make the basic scenic approach seem more monotonous.

It's a great play with three knockout performances, which is more than the Canadian Stage Company has given us in recent seasons. Let us pray it's a sign of things to come.


Actor Douglas Campbell Dead At 87

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

(October 7, 2009) Toronto — Douglas Campbell, a Glasgow-born actor known for his long association with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, has died at age 87.  A spokeswoman at the southwestern Ontario theatre festival confirmed the actor's death.  Campbell joined the Stratford company in 1953 and performed for 25 seasons. His major roles included Falstaff, Othello and Oedipus Rex.  His son, Benedict, is a member of the Shaw theatre festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  Campbell's accolades include the Order of Canada and the Governor General's Performing Arts Award.  Campbell died in Montreal.  In 1954, he founded the Canadian Players, a touring group borne from the Stratford festival. He also appeared in the CBC-TV show The Great Detective in the late 1970s.  He leaves his wife Moira Wylie and six children.


Scribble Through Endless Possibilities

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

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 4)
Nintendo DS
Rated E

(October 03, 2009) From Felix the Cat's magical "bag of tricks" to Green Lantern's extraterrestrial Swiss Army ring, the idea of being able to instantly evoke whatever object or artefact your situation calls for is pretty great fantasy material. Frisbee stuck on the roof? No problem, just whip out a ladder or a flying magic carpet. Late for work? One wave of your magic whatsit and you've got a teleportation machine ... or a majestic Pegasus on which to soar above the traffic. This kind of anything-you-can-imagine power is the promise of
Scribblenauts – and it almost delivers.

As a puzzle game, Scribblenauts's hundreds of levels each presents a whimsical problem: a cow, fleeing from the butcher's cleaver, is blocking a highway; some vampires threaten a village; a caveman wants an dino-egg omelette, and a fire to cook it. In order to solve these problems, you're going to have to come up with some creative solutions, willing whatever you need into existence simply by writing its name on your magic notepad – Helicopter! Garlic! Matches! – and placing it into the play area so that it does what you're hoping it will.

The wonder of Scribblenauts is in its vocabulary. The game's developer, 5th Cell, has really pulled off an incredible feat here, stocking their gameworld with many tens of thousands of evocable nouns. If you're like me, you'll probably spend your first few hours with Scribblenauts trying to stump the dictionary, and it's not easy. Medusa, Kraken (I was on a bit of a Clash of the Titans kick), noodles, stadium, muzzle, God, Satan, tornado, all the elements of the Periodic Table, Cthulhu, burqa, wendigo, optician, nerd, fisherman, stilts, garden gnome ... and so on. There aren't many blind spots here, other than nothing is X-rated, no nationalities ("Canadian" was the first thing I typed), and no drugs or alcohol. Just write it down and there it is, with its mass, materials, physical and behavioural properties modelled and interacting with the other objects around it. Super cool.

So, that's fun and new and all ... but how does it play out as a game? Rough, fussy and frustrating, to be honest. The stylus is used to move and manipulate the objects you create, and it's also used to move your character, so you end up with a lot of moving by mistake as you try to say, grab the loose end of a rope.

Overall, play feels floppy and chaotic, barely under control and only vaguely predictable, which is a real drag when you're trying to set up an intricate mechanism – the puzzles are generally quite tight, with success or failure riding on a pixel's edge, so the lack of precision often means multiple retries of even the simplest levels. The problem is further compounded by a very narrow field-of-view with no way to zoom out, and a camera that automatically snaps back to your character whether you want it to or not – you'll set up a fight between, say, an angel and a dinosaur, and miss all the action as the camera zips away.

These are very real flaws, flaws that would doom another game. But even if it's often a pain to actually play, Scribblenauts still comes out far ahead on the balance sheet simply because its core idea is so awesome and audacious, and so much fun when it comes together despite the wiggy play mechanics.

Xbox All Set For Xmas

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

(October 03, 2009) It's going to be a green Christmas if Microsoft's X'09 event on Tuesday is any indication.

Designed to give Canadian media a chance to test-drive upcoming first- and third-party
Xbox 360 video games, Microsoft's annual soirée – this time held at the This is London downtown nightclub – proved that the green-logoed gaming giant is optimistic about holiday sales of its console, games and online services.

"This is really our kickoff to the holiday season, the place to play with the biggest and best games on the horizon," Craig Flannagan, platform manager for Xbox Canada, said at the event.

Despite the ailing economy, Flannagan said the industry remains positive about the all-important season.

"We're optimistic – I think it's a great time to be a gamer, not just because of amazing content but there's some good deals out there."

Microsoft also announced an "Xbox 360 Elite Holiday Bundle" for $299, which includes a premium Xbox 360 Elite console (with 120 gigabyte hard drive) and two family-friendly games: LEGO Batman: The Videogame and PURE.

An entry level Xbox 360 costs as little as $149.99. (Sony and Nintendo recently dropped the prices of their video game systems to $299.99 for the PlayStation 3 and $219.95 for the Nintendo Wii.)

Flannagan said the Xbox 360 offers uses beyond gaming, such as upcoming support for 1080p movie streaming, TV shows and social networking including Twitter and Facebook access.

But X'09 was mostly about the games, such as Microsoft Game Studios' Forza Motorsport 3 (shown with three-monitor support and vibrating racing pods) and third-party titles from the likes of Activision, Ubisoft, Rockstar Games, Electronic Arts, MTV Games and Valve Software.

Along with the awesome-looking Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction from Ubisoft Montreal (seen at the last two XO events, but finally on track for a March release), the following are a few highlights:

DJ Hero: Given the extraordinary success of the Guitar Hero series, it's no shocker that Activision is looking to expand its rhythm game offerings to other genres. Move over rock, it's now time to dance. Due out Oct. 27, DJ Hero challenges you to spin and mix more than 100 songs like a club DJ by mashing up two songs into one – such as Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" vs. Kid Cudi's "Day 'N' Nite," Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" vs. Foo Fighters' "Monkey Wrench" and Nirvana's "All Apologies" vs. Rick James' "Give It to Me Baby." Bundled with a peripheral that resembles a turntable, you must earn points by pressing the correct buttons at the right time, scratching and cross-fading between the tracks. Some tracks also let you connect a guitar peripheral.

Forza Motorsport 3: Award for loudest game of X'09? Forza Motorsport 3, which lets you slip behind the wheel of 400 tunable dream cars – be it an American muscle car, sleek European sports coupe or high-tech Asian import – and tackle more than 100 tracks and road courses from around the world. Third time's the charm with this photorealistic sequel, which features 10 times more car details than its predecessors. While vehicle handling is authentic, those who need driving assists can turn them on with the press of a button. Xbox Live subscribers can access multiplayer matches and tournaments as well as downloadable extras and can have the ability to share custom paint jobs with other racers.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: Despite being a "behind closed door" demo, the game that garnered the most buzz at X'09 was Activision's Modern Warfare 2. Due out Nov. 10, this intense sequel drops players into a fictional near-future in which a Russian ultranationalist threatens world security. As demonstrated in the graphically intensive single-player and split-screen co-op levels, the first-person shooter once again gives you an assortment of powerful weapons, vehicles and interactive environments in which to fight, ranging from the snow-capped mountains of Kazakhstan to the gritty streets of Rio de Janeiro.


Dalton Higgins’ New Book Sums Up Today’s Hip-Hop Culture

Source: www.swaymag.ca - BY: Alison Isaac

(Fall issue) So begins the enlightening journey into Hip Hop World, the latest book by media specialist, pop
culture critic and Harbourfront music programmer Dalton Higgins.

As a vocal member of the industry, Higgins offers his two cents on the multi-billion-dollar business and culture that’s changed the globe. While chronicling the rise of the urban subculture that has gained international influence, Hip Hop World provides a fresh take on hip-hop’s controversies and accomplishments. Perhaps most importantly, Hip Hop World broadens readers’ tunnel vision to a perspective that extends beyond their backyards into scenes across continents.

Tell me about the process of putting this book together.
It was a very organic process. I am, first and foremost, a hip-hop generationer. I’ve been around since the music’s inception. I like to travel and check out different things in the Afro-diasporic music tradition, and that certainly includes hip-hop culture, because this is the music of my generation.

When we talk about youth culture and globalization, I think we’re seeing it through as clear a prism as one can see it because Toronto is, arguably, the most multicultural city on the planet. So my analysis on the hip-hop world is as genuine as any.

What’s the difference between cultural appropriation and genuine participation in a foreign culture?
I would say, for any non-black, non-Latin American person that partakes in the culture, there always needs to be recognition of the black innovators of the genre. That’s where for me, the appropriation, the co-optation, comes in. Rap music is black music. What I find also with folks that aren’t black participating in the culture, oftentimes I’ll hear them say, “it’s not black anymore, everybody plays a part in it.” These are folks who, sometimes, haven’t stepped a day in a black neighbourhood, have no real connection to the people. It’s not just music, it’s a voice of a community, so in it is a lot of pain and a lot of anguish and a lot of beauty and joy. To listen to a music and disconnect it from the people from whence it came doesn’t register in my book.

In Hip Hop World, you mention that, although there are no definite numbers, it seems the audience for black conscious rap is, ironically, mostly white.
It’s almost a privilege to shell out $35 to go see dead prez, Mos Def, Chuck D — this type of so-called conscious rap. It’s costly, and a too-large segment of our community is still fending for themselves to put food on the table because it’s not a level playing field. Racism is still alive and well and hip-hop does not exist on a separate island.

I think there is some power in M1 spitting rhymes to a large non-black audience, in that sometimes it gets tiring preaching to the converted. It’s one thing for a black kid to say, “I’m discriminated against,” but think about the power of a white kid saying, “discrimination is wrong.”

Playing to audiences that aren’t black, you’re looking for neo-abolitionists. I have some friends that I consider to be just that. They are Caucasian, but they feel as strongly about anti-racism as I do. They’re not trying to mimic me, they don’t want to grow their hair like me, they are proudly Caucasian, but have taken up this cause.

What can Western practitioners learn from their counterparts internationally?
I think what our Western rap brethren and sistren can take from M.I.A., Telmary Díaz, K’naan and Emmanuel Jal, is how activism and speaking about real issues is so seamlessly a part of their music. The music sounds just as hot, but it actually carries a message. So that means it’s entirely possible to spit the hottest verse and still be saying something.

How do you see the future of the music industry and the future of hip-hop?
There’s a reason record labels are now being converted into condo developments, and it’s corporate greed — selling recorded products for $20 when they cost a mere few dollars to produce. Is it any surprise that some savvy folks on the web have now subverted that whole system of being economically exploited? Music is art, music is life and it needs to be more accessible. It’s karmic energies coming back around.

Hip-hop is not dead, it’s now just grown up, left the ’hood and is travelling the world racking up Air Miles. It’s also mutated into other things. Some of the best electronica music out there — dancehall, etc. — they’re all hip-hop influenced. They are not hip-hop in name, but at the root they’re hip-hop.

Why do you continue to listen?
It’s more than just music, it’s how you walk, it’s how you talk. It’s a swagger, it’s a lifestyle. It’s something that you can’t shed, you can’t lose, it’s just a part of you.

WE CAN Creates A Vibrant Community For Black Entrepreneurial Women

Source: www.swaymag.ca - BY: Laina Dawes

(Fall issue) When asked if she could send a photo of herself to accompany this article, Lisa A. Small gently corrects me: “I can send you a group photo of us.” As a co-founder of Women’s Enterprise Canada (WE CAN), she emphasizes that despite being the spokesperson, she is certainly not running the show alone. She believes that the key to WE CAN’s success is the shared objectives of her team.

The Toronto chapter of the International Women’s Enterprise Network is the only one that focuses on black businesswomen. “I think what happened is that the other chapters reflect their communities, but the communities are not as culturally diverse as Toronto,” says Small. More importantly, she feels that the group addresses the isolation that many black female entrepreneurs feel.

It was the surprising number of black business owners that Small met as a community radio host in 2007 that encouraged her to investigate further.

“I had a start-up business and was looking to expand. I visited other groups, but they didn’t talk about the issues or provide the follow-up that I was looking for. There were women who were just interested in networking to apply for other jobs, or just [looking for] golf buddies,” she laughs. “I needed a network that was going to help me promote my business and help me grow and develop. [Radio station] CHRY allowed me to interview black women who were selling books and services and coaching, and explore ideas with them — as well as with women who were listening to the program — to learn how to be better business people.”

Soon after, she and a small group of volunteers started the chapter of the enterprise network with an online presence. The next year they decided to hold a “call to action” gathering to decide what the next step in their organization should be. To their surprise, their first meeting in November of 2008 was sold out.

In June of 2009, WE CAN introduced their signature series, Meeting of the Minds. The meetings, which are held on the last Thursday of each month, serve as an opportunity for women to present their business plans to a group of seasoned executives for focused advice. “We analyze their business plans and give them a plan of action, providing advice in various areas, from financial to advertising. By focusing on one area at a time, they understand what they need to do,” Small explains. “We receive and review the business plans beforehand and tackle the ones that, regardless of their individual [type of] business, need the same type of help. This way, each woman still gets individual attention and they can see that they share the same problems with another business person.”

“We don’t really get the mainstream profile that men usually do — especially when it comes to business,” adds Rayonne Caesar-Chavannes, founder of ReSolve Research Solutions Inc., a clinical research consulting and site management company. “I have never come across an organization that really promotes women, promotes their businesses and is inspirational, letting them know that we as entrepreneurs are going to struggle, but eventually we’re going to rise up. WE CAN gives us a platform and helps us promote our businesses. The ability to converse and share experiences together is fantastic.”

Despite many of their members having the confidence to start their own businesses, they still need community support. Small says a common refrain is “I just need to know where to start. I’ve been doing this all by myself.

“They have been trying to figure it out and have never found an organization that could help them get over the hurdles and get the support — as a businesswoman first.”

? Meeting of the Minds sessions take place 7-9pm on the last Thursday of every month at the Radisson Hotel, 249 Queens Quay W. 416-966-1712. Membership to WE CAN is free. For more information, go to womenenter.com.

Toronto Chef Philman George Cooks Up Rhymes And Recipes — Island Style

Source: www.swaymag.ca - BY: Glynnis Mapp

(Fall issue) What do hip-hop, romance and coconut panko-covered shrimp have in common?

"Everything," says Philman George, the executive chef at the Toronto Island Yacht Club and the host of The Rhyming Chef Barbuda on Bite TV where he raps from the scenic West Indian island of Barbuda (just north of Antigua). And while not everyone can whisk off to an island destination for dinner, George gives you a first-class ticket to the best in island-style cuisine.

"Music and food make for a perfect recipe every time. If you want to impress someone, the best way to do that is to cook a meal. It’s personal, intimate and, set to the right music, you can’t go wrong," he says.

George shows viewers the right way to woo. On the show, George whips up recipes with fun and funny hip-hop instructions to help nervous first-daters create easy-to-make vodka pastas, "Seal-the-Deal" salads, "She’s-a-Keeper" morning-after omelettes, fruit shakes and from-scratch raspberry pancakes. George follows the musical instruction sessions with a conversational step-by-step explanation of each 10-minute recipe. His mission: help amateur cooks — especially men — get into the kitchen and impress their special someone.

"It’s so important to get it right in the kitchen," George says. He admits that he wooed his own fiancée (producer Ngardy Conteh of Mattru Media) with his shrimp skills, creating a recipe that he says swept her off her feet. "It’s true, one of the best ways to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But women are just as susceptible to a little fine cuisine!"

For George, music and food have always been a perfect match. Under his hip-hop moniker, I.E., George is also host and co-producer of Aux Television show Cypher, showcasing the underground hip- hop scene in Toronto.

Canadian-born George always helped in his mother’s kitchen growing up in Toronto’s Regent Park. And despite a few broken plates and overcooked meals, he kept at it, learning traditional Caribbean dishes from his mother and later enrolling in the Culinary Management program at George Brown College. George also received special attention under the tutelage of executive chefs Louis Panotier and Daniel Villet, cuisiniers from the French-speaking island of Martinique. He also spent time in Perth at The Red Herring, Australia’s Gold Plate Award–winning restaurant.

While doing the show in Barbuda, he also finds time to work at his father’s beach bar and grill, Uncle Roddy’s, Barbuda’s first solar-powered restaurant. While he has to battle with the island elements during taping — including rogue yard fowl flying overhead, sweltering forecasts and the odd storm cloud — he is happy being back home. George has also been named the executive chef of the Light House Bay Resort in Barbuda and is working on the second season of the show, hoping to take it to other islands in the West Indies.

"Each year, I return to Barbuda with my skills, and each time I’m met with pure love," he says. "The Caribbean is a great place to be, no matter what area, but there’s just something about Barbuda. I feel blessed that I can share it with everyone."

- The Rhyming Chef Barbuda airs Thursdays at 9pm on Bite TV. go to therhymingchef.com.

Monopoly With Real Currency

www.thestar.com - Peter Goddard

(October 02, 2009) If there's one core event at Nuit Blanche, a single signifying gesture indicating the collective mojo of the dusk-to-dawn art crawl and its 280 or so artists, it's found at Monopoly with Real Money (2009) by Iain Baxter.

A swanky big money/big ego setting is provided for 30-plus local celebrities – urban studies theorist Richard Florida, rapper K-OS and model Yasmin Warsame, to name a few – who are taking part in six two-hour

Condé Nast Shuts Down Gourmet Magazine

Source:  www.thestar.com - Amy Pataki,
Restaurant Critic

(October 05, 2009) Gourmet magazine, the culinary compass of adventurous North American home cooks for almost 70 years, is folding.

Condé Nast Publications announced Monday it is closing down Gourmet along with three other money-losing titles, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride and parenting magazine Cookie. Declining ad revenue is to blame.

Gourmet has a million or so subscribers. The November issue will be its last.

Editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl tweeted hours after the announcement: "Sorry not to be posting now, but I'm packing. We're all stunned."

Gourmet, founded in 1941 as "the magazine of good living," encouraged North Americans to move away from condensed soup casseroles to such novelties as pesto, hand-rolled pasta and heirloom vegetables through approachable recipes and mouth-watering colour photographs.

Monthly subscribers joined dinner clubs to take turns preparing boozy theme dinners. Writer Judith Moore remembers "gourmania" sweeping her Oregon college town in the 1970s as adventurous gourmets strove to outdo each other with Greek or Provençal menus, complete with home-butchered rabbit.

For a budding foodie like me, my mother's 1963 Gourmet cookbook was the passport to a world of profiteroles and rosemary-scented chicken.

Others, like chef-owner Martin Kouprie of Pangaea in Yorkville, remember leafing through their parents' back issues.

"It's one of the magazines that inspired me," says Kouprie. "I came to this career, honestly, through Gourmet magazine."

John Sinopoli, chef-partner of Table 17 on Queen St. E., describes Gourmet as an "institution," one that "helped create an American food identity."

But Gourmet had a wider audience. "They were interested in everything worldwide, and so are Torontonians," says Alison Fryer of the Cookbook Store.

"It was more than just recipes."

This refers to Gourmet's envelope-pushing articles on food politics under Reichl's stewardship, such as the late David Foster Wallace's 2004 think piece on the ethics of boiling lobster.

The Gourmet Today cookbook has just hit stores. Reichl, a former New York Times restaurant critic, will be host of the upcoming Gourmet's Adventures show on PBS.

Gourmet recipes will be searchable on www.Epicurious.com, shared with down-market sister magazine Bon Appétit.

Losing Control: Loving a Black Child with Bipolar Disorder Book Review by Kam Williams

Source:  Kam Williams

“Paediatric bipolar disorder manifests itself similarly in the African-American population to the way it does in the Caucasian population. The disease has no cultural boundaries. However… if an African-American child manifested the same symptoms as a Caucasian child, he or she would receive a different diagnosis and a different treatment. This is the clear danger of ignoring cross-cultural commonalities.

The black child who evidences the symptoms of paediatric bipolar disorder is seen as being oppositional, with perhaps a conduct disorder or worse. But these diagnoses result in misdiagnosis and mistreatment of these children Dr. Joubert has alerted us to the fact that we need to be very careful in our assessment of the African-American child who is evidencing symptoms suggestive of a mood disorder, and courageously shares her journey with her own child with us.”

n      Excerpted from the Foreword by Dr. Ira Glovinsky (pages 11-12)

It wasn’t long after the birth of her daughter that Dr. Cassandra Joubert noticed that something was wrong. After all, this was her second child, so she naturally compared Maya to her relatively easy-to-raise, 4 year-old son, Josh. The girl proved problematic even in infancy, from her refusal to breastfeed to her resistance to being rocked and cradled. And the symptoms only got worse as she grew into a toddler, between temper tantrums and disobedience acts which couldn’t be corrected by either positive reinforcement or spankings.

Because Dr. Joubert was a health professional herself, she wisely consulted a psychologist when the acting out continued after Maya entered the 1st grade. Regrettably, the school’s shrink misdiagnosed the child’s hyperactivity as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and started her on a regular regimen of Ritalin. Thus began for Maya what would turn into a years of experimentation with drugs, with doctors prescribing everything from Zoloft to Adderall to Buspar to Concerta to Depakote, as her acting out escalated into both self-destructive and anti-social behaviours.

 By the time she was in the 6th grade, Maya was already compulsively sexually-active, and even confessed to having slept with two boys at once. Therefore, her frazzled mother had no choice but to add birth control pills to her daughter’s daily Rx cocktail, to make sure the situation wasn’t compounded by an unwanted pregnancy. But she still had to a host of other issues to deal with, including promiscuity, suicidal tendencies, juvenile delinquency, body piercings, sleep walking, profanity, assaulting classmates, cigarette smoking, experimenting with alcohol, and an addiction to Marijuana.

The big tragedy, here, is that everything snowballed because of Maya’s initial misdiagnosis. Consequently, not only did the unfortunate girl’s life evolve into a total mess, but her parents’ marriage fell apart when she was very young. This burden, in turn, exacted a heavy physical and emotional toll on Dr. Joubert, who did her best to raise her two kids on her own.

That courageous effort is the subject of Losing Control, a heartbreaking memoir of a mother’s desperate quest for fair treatment for a child allowed to slip through the cracks by a mental health system too quick to pigeonhole black youngsters as troublemakers rather than face up to the fact that a more complex assessment might be in order. A cautionary tale issuing a clarion call for early diagnosis and treatment of African-Americans with bi-polar disorders.

To order a copy of Losing Control, visit

Halloween Guide: Costume Shopping in Toronto

Source:  www.toronto.com -
by Renata Valz

(September 29, 2009)  Guys and ghouls are about to hit the streets clad in their best, raunchiest and most elaborate costumes. But, from costume selection to last-minute buys, this candy-fuelled affair can often be stressful. This year, don’t fret – we’ve got you covered. From kids to adults, plus size to last minute, we scoured the town and found the spot for you.


Characters from summer blockbusters are always a hit; keep your eyes peeled for Harry Potter, Iron Man, Transformers and G.I. Joe costumes. If you’re not the DIY type, here are some sure bets:

Creepers Yorkdale (3401 Dufferin St., Toronto)
Just for the season, Creepers has opened a Yorkdale location to ensure uptown residents can deliver a scare. Great for weapons, accessories, superheroes, and last-minute or throwback costumes.

Seduction (577 Yonge St., Toronto)
For those who thrive on risqué, Seduction’s options rise to the occasion. From leather to lacy and everything in between, your investment can last year round. Good for accessories and plus-sized costumes.

Hollywood Costumes (7718 Yonge St., Thornhill)
Be part of movie magic as you don Hollywood’s high-quality costumes. Rent or buy costumes and accessories for kids and adults. From Harry Potter to Star Trek, pirates to period pieces, this is the go-to spot for theatrical types. 

Malabar (14 McCaul, Toronto)
Heading into Malabar is enough to give you chills. This Queen Street haunt has some scary stories to tell – just ask the clerks. Malabar stocks fake flesh and all the trimmings. Great for accessories, weapons and plus-sized costumes.

Joy Theatricals (129 Davenport Rd., Toronto)
Joy Theatricals boasts ornate, custom-made pieces that fit like a dream. Shoppers can also opt for ready-made pieces or exquisite rentals at a pocket-friendly price.

Ms. Dress-Up (1461 Dundas St. W., Toronto)
It was the week before Halloween when all through the city, Torontonians were flocking to this Dundas West store. For those who absolutely can’t wait, their website is available 24/7 and is highly recommended; costumes often sell out.

It’s My Party (423 Danforth Ave.)
A kid-friendly locale with traditional frocks, It’s a good spot to shop for weapons, wigs, supplies, and traditional outfits.


It’s already been predicted that Michael Jackson-inspired costumes have returned to the fore. It may take some digging, but the rewards are great. Check out any of the vintage shops in Kensington Market and Queen Street West. Here are some of our faves:

69 Vintage
Vintage lovers can relive MJ’s glory days by buying vintage by the pound or opt to rent one of 69’s intricate military-inspired band jackets, which defined Michael’s style. Good for vintage accessories and last-minute buys.

With two locations in Kensington Market, Halloween shoppers are bound to find something in the stacks of vintage clothing that includes dresses, coats, wigs, masks, makeup and mainstream costumes.

Courage My Love, (14 Kensington Ave.)
DIY-types can’t get enough of Courage; too many choices, too little time. Perfect for beads, sunglasses, clothing and jewellery.

Value Village (locations across Toronto)
Anyone on a budget will tell you that Value Village is tops. While its cheapness has been dwindling in recent years, this hasn’t kept customers (read: broke students) away. Good for last-minute costumes and those with a creative eye.  


Gone are the days of homemade costumes and tons of tears. Parents who are too busy can stop feeling guilty. Try one of these picks instead:

Real Canadian Superstore (locations across Toronto)
This year, Loblaws has really upped its game. Star Trek, G.I. Joe and Transformer costumes can all be found here, at roughly $25 to $35 a pop. Also great for adult plus-sized costumes, last-minute costumes, weapons, face paints and accessories.

Balloon King (374 Bathurst St., Toronto)
While this stop doesn’t look like much from the outside, one peek inside proves otherwise. Relive your childhood as you root through their large kid and infant costume selections.

Costume Witch (975 Eglinton Ave. W., Toronto)
Great for superhero, medieval and Harry Potter lovers. Boys and girls, teens and adults who embrace their inner-nerd are sure to find something here. Tip: Nightmare Before Christmas Lovers can spot a Jack Skellington mask here.

Candy’s Costume Shop (511 Mount Pleasant Rd.)
Located on Mount Pleasant Road, this costume shop caters to both kids and adults. Good for occupational costumes, superheroes and a handful of movies. Get your hats, wigs, weapons and other accessories here.

Kids Costumes (539 Mount Pleasant Rd., Toronto)
Toddlers and children up to 14 can be almost anything they want: Harry Potter, Darth Vader, members of the royal court, pirates, animals – the list goes on.


Dilemma: How To Let Dancers Dance

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Crabb,
Special To The Star

(October 03, 2009) Ten leading National Ballet of Canada dancers returned on Thursday from a three-city sortie to British Columbia. The trip to Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver was all that could be salvaged from an aborted full-company tour of Western Canada featuring its lavish production of The Sleeping Beauty.

At close to 70 dancers, it is the only Canadian company with the resources to present the full-length classics in all their splendour. It abandoned touring Eastern Canada years ago – too small a market – and these days rarely visits Montreal. The company has nevertheless endeavoured to live up to the "National" in its title by visiting the West every other year and would have this September if it could have afforded to. In April, faced with the possibility of losing buckets of money, the ballet decide to cancel.

Touring Canada's biggest ballet company is hugely expensive – almost $2 million to go west – and, as executive director Kevin Garland explains, when the ballet goes on the road, it's almost invariably "at our own risk."

Support for touring from the Canada Council for the Arts and private sponsors – if they can be found – still leaves a hole that tickets sales must fill. As it was, the council had reduced its contribution from $475,000 in 2005 to $400,000 for the planned 2009 tour. When tour plans were made, the economy was beginning to soften but the full meltdown was yet to come – with dire consequences.

The company is expected to declare an operating deficit of nearly $1 million when 2008-09 financial results are revealed at this month's annual general meeting.

The decision not to tour meant the ballet's remaining 54 dancers – less a pregnant ballerina or two – were denied the chance to dance for Alberta and B.C. audiences.

The stage is where dancers truly come alive. Everything else – the years of training, daily class and hours of rehearsal – leads naturally to that culminating moment of performance. This season, it's proving a frustratingly long wait before they can take to the boards again.

The full company last performed on June 14. Until a few years ago, it could look forward to fully sponsored, late-summer open-air shows at Harbourfront Centre, followed every other year by a fall tour. Now, most of the dancers must wait until Nov. 5, when the company opens a three-performance run of Sleeping Beauty at Ottawa's National Arts Centre.

The ballet's predicament is one shared by other large companies that would like to be seen across the country. The smaller, less-costly-to-tour Royal Winnipeg Ballet will dance in 10 Canadian and eight U.S. cities during this, its 70th anniversary season. Yet, can anyone remember when the venerable Winnipeg ballet last appeared in downtown Toronto?

Montreal's Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, larger than the Winnipeg company but scarcely half the size of the national one, has been more successful in developing touring markets outside Canada than within. When it last played Toronto in 2004 – at its own risk – it lost a bundle.

One way or another, taxpayers across the country make a substantial contribution to maintaining these organizations but, depending on where they live, have limited opportunities to see the full range of good work their money is doing. Even the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, once a useful surrogate purveyor of Canadian ballet to TV viewers across the land, has essentially left the field.

For National Ballet artistic director Karen Kain, who, as the company's prima ballerina performed in lengthy cross-country and foreign tours, it's a problem she's eager to resolve – certainly in time for the company's 60th anniversary in 2011. Without additional resources, which almost inevitably would have to be public funds, it's not going to be easy.


First-Round Pick DeMar DeRozan Hopes Athletic Gifts Will Lead To Success

Source: www.swaymag.ca - BY: Lisa Sterling

(Fall issue) DeMar DeRozan is excited about moving to Toronto. As he looks toward beginning his
rookie season in the NBA, he can't wait to show Raptors fans what he can do on the court.

"I can't wait to get a reaction from the crowd and see everyone get on their feet [after a dunk]," says the soft-spoken six-foot, seven-inch swingman.

The 20-year-old DeRozan grew up in Compton, California. And despite having never been to the city before his pre-draft workout in late May, DeRozan speaks confidently about his new home, praising the people for their support and the city for its beauty. However, there is one thing that DeRozan realizes will provide a rude awakening in the upcoming months.

"When I played the McDonald's All-American game, when there was like six feet of snow everywhere, that was something new for me. I've never seen anything white like that before."

And yet, he knows the snow is only part of what awaits him in Toronto. Interacting with fans through his Twitter account (@DeMar_DeRozan), DeRozan says the support has been overwhelming and that, above all, fans are just happy he's working so hard to get ready for the NBA season. He has been spending his last few weeks in California working on his game, running at UCLA with the likes of Paul Pierce and Danny Granger, DeRozan works hard envisioning opening night at the ACC.

Though he is initially shy, DeRozan begins to open up, revealing his youth while also expressing a hunger and desire to make an impact in the NBA sooner rather than later.

"I'm a big kid who likes to goof around and have fun" is barely out of his mouth before he jumps back to thinking about opening night, and the moment on a basketball court that he loves the most. "Getting a steal and going coast to coast with a dunk [is my favourite]. That whole moment on the fast break when you're about to go up and dunk, you hear the crowd get louder, louder, louder and then you dunk. That's it."

For fans wondering if he can bring the airborne excitement back to Toronto, DeRozan is building a nice case for himself. Besides recording a 38.5-inch vertical at the rookie combine Ñ second only to Jonny Flynn Ñ and throwing down some vicious slams in Las Vegas during summer league, he grew up admiring a face that's familiar to Toronto.

"My favourite dunk? Vince Carter dunk. Dunk contest, the 360 windmill, no question."

With a personality that is sure to be a fine fit here in Toronto and a game that looks like it is already translating well to the professional scale, get ready to see lots more from the newest kid on the block. And if he's a little slow to warm up in his interviews, remember it can be cold up here for a California guy.

Axe Falls On Jays' Ricciardi

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Griffin,
Sports Reporter

(October 03, 2009) The curtain finally came down on the J.P. Ricciardi era as general manager this morning.

The Jays issued a terse release at 10:38 a.m. announcing that Ricciardi has stepped down from his role that he had filled since Nov. 14, 2001, eight seasons without a post-season berth.

"This was a tough decision and a difficult one for me personally, as I have enjoyed J.P.'s friendship and his perspective on the game," team president Paul Beeston said in a written statement.

"J.P. has put an incredible amount of effort into improving the team and he has brought along a number of great young players. However, I feel that it is time for a change and accordingly we have decided to move on."

Replacing him will be 32-year-old Alex Anthopoulos, a native of Montreal. He joined the Jays in 2003 and was named an assistant GM under Ricciardi after the 2005 season. Anthopoulos attended McMaster University, majoring in economics, getting his first job in baseball with the Expos in 2000, in media relations.

He moved into the scouting department in 2001, advancing quickly through the organization.

Ricciardi leaves with an eight-year record of 642-651, highlighted by reducing payroll in 2002, winning 86 games in his second season, 2003, winning 87 in 2006, 86 in 2008 and watching the development of draft choices Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Ricky Romero in 2009.

The change takes place immediately. Anthopoulos and Beeston will address the Jays in a clubhouse meeting prior to tonight's game at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

The trend in baseball has been towards younger GMs with no playing experience but knowledge of running a farm system and scouting department. In the AL only Mike Flanagan (O's), Kenny Williams (White Sox) and Billy Beane (A's) are former major-league players.


Freestyle Skier Dionne Retires Due To Brain Tumour

www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press

(October 02, 2009) VANCOUVER – Canadian freestyle skier Deidra Dione has a brain tumour that will force her to retire. Dionne made the announcement at a news conference today in Vancouver. The tumour is not cancerous. Dionne was in a fight to earn a spot on the Canadian team that will compete at the 2010 Winter Games. She was dropped to the national development team this spring after failing to crack the top 10 in any World Cup events last season. Dionne won a bronze medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, but then was almost paralyzed when she injured her neck in a training accident in September 2005. Dionne was out of action for about two years after undergoing surgery to fuse two vertebra together. She battled back to compete at the 2006 Turin Games, where she was 22nd.

Serena Williams Back At No. 1

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(October 7, 2009) *Tennis superstar Serena Williams regained the world number one ranking on Tuesday with an easy win at the China Open, reports AFP.  Williams, the tournament's second seed and current world number two, breezed past Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3, 6-2, into the round of 16, ensuring that her name will be atop the WTA rankings when the new list is issued on Monday. The path to the top spot was cleared for the 28-year-old Williams, who last held the top ranking in April, when current number one Dinara Safina crashed out of the tournament on Monday, losing to Chinese wild card Zhang Shuai. "It feels pretty good. I'm really excited. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. I'm obviously happy to be there because I feel like I've been working so hard all year," said Williams.


The Better Butt Diet: Super 6-Week Plan

By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, RTS1, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

I've designed a simple and effective six-week plan to steer you in the direction, toward a
smaller and tighter butt.

I can't create miracles in six weeks, but I can provide a realistic starting point.

Let's begin with a reality check. You can't get a good-looking butt if you have excessive body fat. I'm not suggesting that you have to attain a perfect body to get a good-looking butt; after all, we need to respect different shapes, forms and genetic structures. However, don't expect to have great glutes with excessive body fat.

You need to consume fewer calories than you burn, but that doesn't mean starving yourself and eating as little as possible.

The key to manipulating nutrition is eating the correct foods in the correct amounts at the correct times. If you're an eDiets member using one of our specially designed nutrition programs, you're automatically on track with this necessary piece of the formula.

What I like about my six-week plan is that it's easy to follow and includes a schedule that calls on you to progress each week. This will help you to burn more and more calories each and every week. The pace of progress calls for in this plan exercise isn't easy, but it's also not complicated. And my simple nutrition tips are sure to make a difference if you follow them each and every week for the entire six weeks.


1. Walking Lunges -- (Watch the video below!) Stand with your feet hips-width apart, grasp a pair of dumbbells or cans with your arms straight at your sides, palms facing your body. Take a long step forward and lower your body so your front knee lines up with your ankle. The back knee is almost touching the floor. Push off with your back foot and take a long step forward with your other foot. Walk-lunge 15 steps and then turn around and return to the start (one set). You should contract your glutes on the lowering of each movement. Perform two sets on two alternate days per week.

2. Power Walking -- Power Walk for 30 minutes. Generally, a good speed is between 3.5 and 4.0 mph on a treadmill. You're walking briskly, but you should still be able to hold a conversation. Begin slowly and build to your max speed. Walk for 30 minutes four days per week.

3. Eat breakfast every morning. Eating a healthy breakfast will help to regulate blood sugar and help to prevent binge eating.


1. Walking Lunges
-- (See the video from Week 1) Use the same parameters as week 1. Perform two sets on two alternate days per week.

2. Extension Step-Ups -- Grasp a pair of dumbbells or cans by your sides with palms facing the side of the body. Stand behind a 6- to 12-inch high step or bench (normally used in aerobic step classes) and keep your arms straight. Step onto the middle of the step with your right foot and then lift your left knee high (to hip height). Step down with your left foot, and then repeat on the right side. Perform one set of 15 steps on each leg -- two alternate days of the week.

3. Power Walking -- Increase the time to 37 minutes and keep the days the same (four days per week).

4. Assess Your Pantry/Refrigerator -- Eliminate foods that you tend to binge on and that have empty calories .


1. Walking Lunges
-- Perform three sets on two alternate days per week.

2. Extension Step-Ups -- Increase to two sets but keep to two alternate days per week.

3. Power Walking -- Add a fifth walking day and keep the time the same (37 minutes).

4. Water -- Consume 64 or more ounces per day. Think that sounds like a lot? Here are 10 easy ways to get your water.


1. Squats -- (Eliminate the Walking Lunge exercise). Place a broom stick or barbell across the back of your shoulders. Be sure it's not resting on your neck. Your feet should be shoulders-width apart. Lower the weight, keeping your knees behind the toes at all times. Think of sitting back into a chair and contract the glutes on the lowering phase. Stop when the knees are at a 90-degree angle. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Inhale while lowering the weight, and exhale while returning to the starting position. Do not let the knees ride over your toes (you should be able to see your feet at all times), and don't arch your back. Perform two sets of 15 reps on two alternate days per week.

Watch the video below for a helpful guide.

2. Extensions Step-Ups -- Remain with three sets but add a third day (alternate days of the week).

3. Power Walking -- Increase the time to 40 minutes and keep the days the same (five days).

4. Junk Food -- Eliminate one junk food item from your diet this week.


1. Squats -- (Need help? Watch the video from Week 4.) Increase the sets to three and increase the reps to 20 (two alternate days per week).

2. Extensions Step-Ups -- Perform three sets but increase the reps to 20 (three alternate days per week).

3. Bent Knee Push-ups -- (Video below!) Start with your hands and knees on a mat. Your hands should be shoulder width apart and your head, neck, hips and legs should be in a straight line. Do not let your back arch and cave in. Lower your upper body by bending your elbows outward, stopping before your face touches the floor. Contracting the chest muscles, slowly return to the starting position. Perform one set of six to 10 reps or as many as you can do on two alternate days per week.

4. Power Walking -- Increase the time to 45 minutes and keep the days the same (five days).

5. Carbohydrates -- Slightly decrease the amount of starchy carbohydrates at two of your meals. For example, if you're having pasta for dinner, decrease your normal serving.


1. Squats -- Continue with three sets but increase the reps to 22 (two alternate days per week).

2. Extension Step-Ups -- Perform three sets but increase the reps to 22 (three alternate days per week).

3. Bent Knee Push-ups -- Perform two sets as many as possible. Increase to three alternate days per week.

4. Power Walking -- Add a sixth day and perform 45 minutes each day.

5. Brown Bag -- If you work outside of the home, bring a bagged, healthy lunch at least three times this week.

After six weeks you can tailor the program to your liking. My job is to help jump-start you in the right direction.

As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.


Motivational Note

"People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don't know when to quit. Most people succeed because they are determined to." 

Source:  www.eurweb.com  - George E. Allen