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LE NEWSLETTER

April 8, 2010

I know it's been a little grey and drizzly but you can't knock the temperatures!  Me?  I still expect snow at some point but will enjoy every single 'walking weather' moment in the meantime.

Hope your long weekends were fab (and if not, then thankful that they're over)!  Tons going on this week in Toronto, including the ReelWorld Film Festival. Check it out under TOP STORIES!  I can't wait for you to get to your entertainment news so have a scroll and a read.  

Another week of your entertainment news so have a scroll and a read.   

This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTS

::TOP STORIES::

Toronto Actors Join Camp Priscilla’s Desert

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(April 06, 2010) At least three Toronto actors are going to be part of
Priscilla Queen of the Desert — the Musical when it opens in Toronto this October as part of the Mirvish Subscription season before going on to Broadway early in 2011.

The Star has learned that
Thom Allison, David Lopez and Susan Dunstan are the lucky trio offered roles in the musical, currently enjoying a hit run in London.

Sources close to the New York production confirmed the information, while cautioning that no contracts have yet officially been signed.

Allison and Lopez will be members of the ensemble, with Allison also supposedly understudying the standout role of Bernadette, created by Terence Stamp in the cult 1994 film about a trio of cross-dressing entertainers who get their big break in the Australian outback.

Dunstan is expected to be one of the divas, who — suspended in the air in outrageous costumes — provide most of the vocals for the show, taken from a wide selection of camp disco favorites including “I Will Survive.”

All three performers are well-known to local audiences. Dunstan spent nearly three years with The Lion King, was in Annie Get Your Gun opposite Louise Pitre and laboured in Middle Earth during The Lord of the Rings — the Musical.

Lopez made his biggest impression on Toronto audiences as The Viper in theCanadian Stage production of Ain’t Misbehavin’, but has also been seen everywhere from Sudbury to Barrie and on TV in the special, Once Upon a Mattress.

Allison is probably the one with the fastest track record, thanks to his performance in the 2000 Brad Fraser-Joey Miller musical, Outrageous. Since then, he’s appeared at the Shaw Festival in A Little Night Music and A New Brain for Acting Up Stage Theatre.

Business as usual: both of our major theatre festivals now into preview season, it’s time to ask how things are selling — a question which has provoked terror in recent years, but for 2010, things seem a lot calmer.

At the Shaw Festival, Odette Yazbeck reports that “advance sales started off slowly, however, we’re happy to report that things have picked up significantly in the past six weeks — surpassing targets — so we’re buoyed by the fact that we’re heading in the right direction.”

And over at Stratford, Ann Swerdfager is pleased to relate that “sales right now are on a par with last year, but the fact that they have increased 43 per cent in the past month indicates that our marketing is definitely making an impact.”

As for the individual shows, she adds that “Shakespeare titles are selling 15 per cent better than they did last year and there are also exceptionally strong advances for Peter Pan, Evita and Kiss Me Kate.”

Blyth Spirit: Things have been so rosy at the Blyth Festival over the past few seasons, that it’s easy to understand why artistic director Eric Coates is bringing back many of the actors whohave made the place so successful.

Michelle Fisk, Gil Garratt, Catherine Fitch, Lisa Norton, Marion Day and Brad Rudy are just a few of the headliners who’ll be returning in the four-show season that begins June 23 with A Killing Snow and continues in repertory through Sept. 4 with Bordertown Café, Pearl Gidley and The Book of Esther. For more information go to www.blythfestival.com

With A Brand New Album, Sharon Jones Says She Is Not Trying To Be A Soul Singer. She Is One

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(April 02, 2010) Sharon Jones wasn’t expecting a journalist’s phone call. “Was I supposed to talk to you tonight?” she says from her kitchen in Queens, New York. “I thought I was free.” Jones, the tough and effervescent soul singer who fronts the hip Brooklyn-based Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, is less free than ever these days. With the band’s new album (I Learned the Hard Way) out tomorrow, Saturday Night Live, CNN and all the late-night television shows have come calling. Is she too busy to chat now? “Nah,” she says with a sassy cackle, “let’s do this.”

Your new album is called I Learned the Hard Way. What have you learned?

It’s not only what I’ve learned. We did – the Dap-Kings. There are all these people coming out now, Eli Reed and Amy Winehouse. They call it “retro.” But I don’t consider myself retro. I’m not trying to be a soul singer. I am a soul singer – that’s what I am.

You don’t like the term “retro”?

It’s retro when you’re trying. But we ain’t faking it. We weren’t planning it. It’s for real.

So, retro-soul applies to those artists who try the music on as if it were a fashion?

Our songs dictate what comes out. When we first started out on the Daptone label in 2002, it was all about James Brown and the funk. We were a funk band. And then our second album came out, Naturally, and that was more soul and R&B. We started doing our own songs, and different people in the band started writing more. For this album we recorded 20 songs. We said, “Let’s just pick songs that we like, and change it up.” And we went for it.

He’s always been walking around with his nose in the air, like “well, I’m not black and I’m not this and I’m not that.” Like he’s better than everyone else. Sometimes, when you’re up there on your high horse, somebody’ll knock you down. He knocked himself down – he did it all to himself. — Sharon Jones on golfer Tiger Woods

There are certainly new textures on this album.

With the first song, The Game Gets Old, people are saying it reminds them of the Philadelphia sound, with the French horns coming in, like the Stylistics. But I’m also looking at the last song, with an acoustic guitar and us clapping our hands.

It sounds like Sam Cooke.

Right. Or to me, it reminds me of old gospel – the Baptist church back in the day, when there weren’t any instruments. It was like [Jones begins to sing softly] “Give me that old-time religion.”

You were born in Augusta, Ga., where they play the big Masters golf tournament. What do you think about all the Tiger Woods controversy?

He put his foot in it. But it was personal, so let him deal with it. He needs to get his butt back out there and play golf – that’s what he’s good at.

What do you think of him?

Well, he’s always been walking around with his nose in the air, like “well, I’m not black and I’m not this and I’m not that.” Like he’s better than everyone else. Sometimes, when you’re up there on your high horse, somebody’ll knock you down. He knocked himself down – he did it all to himself.

You’re a high flier yourself these days. How do you account for the steady growth of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings?

Our audiences have always been young college students. And now, thank God for the Internet. With all those MySpaces, YouTubes and everybody’s tubes, faces and spaces. It’s word of mouth.

Can we call you a star now?

Well, not yet. I’m still living in the ghetto and the projects. Maybe after this year I’ll have enough money to build a house and get my mom situated near my sisters so they can take care of her. Then I can move on and get my little place. Then I will tell you I’ve succeeded.

Two Toronto Track Stars Get NCAA Scholarships

Source: www.thestar.com - By David Grossman High School Sports Reporter

(April 07, 2010) Aaron Brown and Merid Seleshi continue to amaze people with their stunning performances on the track – and not just the one for high school races.

Now, both 18-year old Birchmount Park athletes – in their graduating year at Toronto’s Birchmount Park Collegiate – will have an opportunity to get people talking about them at two of the top track schools in the NCAA.

Brown, a sprinter and former Ontario high school champ, has verbally committed to the University of California at Los Angeles while Sereshi, a Toronto District School Board defending gold medalist in the 800 and 1,500 metres, has picked the University of Missouri – a Big 12 Conference school.

“They are superb athletes,” said Bill Stephens, a retired Birchmount Park teacher and now coach of the Phoenix Athletics track club. “I have coached both of them and watched their development for the past few years. They’re great.”

While Seleshi won the gold medal in the 600 metres at the Copps Indoor Games in Hamilton last February, he also took top spot in the 800 metres at last year’s Canadian Youth championships.

Sereshi once told Stephens that becoming a professional soccer player took precedence over track.

Brown, the second fastest junior-age sprinter in the world, also used his speed as a wide receiver and helped the Toronto high school football champs – with two spectacular touchdowns – to a first-ever appearance in the Metro Bowl final.

On the track, the multi-sport Brown earned a silver medal last summer at the World Junior track and field championships in Italy with an impressive time of 10.74 seconds into a headwind in the 100-metre event. He was the first Canadian to earn a medal.

Last month, Brown was nominated for the Junior athlete of the year award at the Canadian Sports awards and last year won the Athletics Canada youth award.

Brown, who turned down scholarship offers from Louisiana State, Texas A & M and Florida State, is hoping to reclaim the form that saw him win the Ontario high school 100 and 200 metres events two years ago.

ReelWorld Film Festival: Local Films Tackle Global Issues

Source: www.thestar.com - Jason Anderson

(April 06, 2010) For the past decade, the
ReelWorld Film Festival has shown local moviegoers surprising views from different pockets of the globe. But for a certain segment of the audience, nothing can quite compare with a sight in a new movie in the festival’s latest edition. That would be Nicholas Campbell in a role he was always fated to play: a grizzled fight trainer in Toronto’s first homegrown mixed-martial-arts exploitation flick.

A scrappy action movie that makes its Canadian premiere on Thursday, Unrivaled may not be typical film-fest fare. Yet it certainly demonstrates the diverse nature of the programming at ReelWorld.

The five-day event was founded by actor Tonya Lee Williams as a showcase for films — made both here and abroad — that reflect the city’s multicultural and multiracial makeup. Surely that purview is broad enough to include a movie full of ultimate fighting.

The 10th annual festival launches Wednesday at the Scotiabank Theatre with a selection that’s a little less bruising. Written and directed by Toronto-based filmmaker Mateo Guez, Off World is a beautifully shot drama about a troubled young man’s homecoming to the destitute district of Manila where he was born.

Guez’s debut feature provides many stark and haunting views of what Filipinos call the “Smokey Mountain,” an enormous, methane-spewing garbage pile that doubles as home to the people (many of them children) who eke out a living there. Though hampered by its opaque narrative and some stilted performances, Off World is still effective as the story of a man’s search for identity in a place where most people are happier to escape.

Guez’s movie is also one of several new features by local filmmakers about characters who feel torn between two cultures. Also making its Toronto premiere at ReelWorld on Friday, 1999 is a crime drama set in the violent world of Sri Lankan gangs who’ve imported old conflicts to the GTA. Writer-director Lenin M. Shivan shot his feature debut with an entirely volunteer cast and crew over 12 consecutive weekends.

Moviegoers who prefer a less troubling portrait of Toronto can try A Touch of Grey, a midlife-crisis comedy starring Maria del Mar and directed by the team of Sandra Feldman and Ian Mah — the film screens twice on April 10.

Elsewhere in the ReelWorld program are features and documentaries that have already earned prizes on the festival circuit. An Iranian take on the crime thriller genre that makes its North American premiere on April 10, Tehroun won the audience award at Venice last year and attracted much critical praise for its gritty depiction of human trafficking, prostitution and smuggling on the mean streets of Tehran.

A double prizewinner at the Montreal World Film Festival, Teo’s Journey is a Mexican drama about the travails of a father and son as they attempt to cross the border into America — it’s ReelWorld’s closing night selection on April 11.

But for fight fans, the fest’s hottest ticket will be Unrivaled, whose cast includes such ultimate fighting vets as Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine, Rashad “Sugar” Evans, Forrest Griffin and Nate “The Great” Marquadt. Thankfully, these tough guys’ collective acting ability is better than you might expect.

Likewise, co-writer and director Warren P. Sonoda and his two-fisted thespians display plenty of enthusiasm as they punch their way through a formulaic storyline about an underdog competitor (played by fight-flick regular Hector Echavarria) who contends with villainous gangsters and sleazy promoters. Will he be tough enough to triumph? How could he not be with Dominic Da Vinci in his corner?

The ReelWorld Film Festival runs to April 11 at various venues. See www.reelworld.ca for schedule.

::OPPORTUNITIES::

Important Information for Artists - The New Indie

Note from Dawn:  I thought that I would pass on to you some information that is part of continuing efforts to help artists understand music industry fundamentals and the new business models that are taking shape.  I’d like to bring your attention to an audio series called The New Indie, produced by the Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association (CIRAA), that explores these areas. 

The New Indie features interviews with music industry experts providing information, advice and anecdotes about the new realities facing today's independent recording artists. See below for a list of topics and guests featured in their newest episodes.

Episodes are available for
FREE, and I encourage you to visit www.TheNewIndie.com to download the series.

The following new episodes on the topic of “Money” are now available at
www.TheNewIndie.com:

1. Accounting - Introduction to basic accounting.  Some of the issues tackled are GST, write-offs, organizing receipts, building a relationship with an accountant and incorporation.


2. Financing - Need money to kick-start your career?  You're not alone.  We brainstorm some interesting ways to get the money flowing.

3. Grants - Listen to an overview of successful strategies to secure grants.  Hear tips, how-to, and what to consider before heading down this road.

4. FACTOR Spotlight - A one-on-one conversation with Heather Ostertag, President & CEO of FACTOR.

5. OMDC Spotlight - A one-on-one conversation with Jennifer Blitz, Director of Tax Credits for OMDC, the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

6. SOCAN Foundation Spotlight - A one-on-one conversation with Rick MacMillan, Manager of the SOCAN Foundation.

7. MuchFACT Spotlight - A one-on-one conversation with Beverley McKee, Executive Director of MuchFACT (formerly VideoFACT).

8. Ontario Arts Council Spotlight - A one-on-one conversation with Michael Murray, Popular & World Music and Arts Service Organizations Officer for the Ontario Arts Council


9. Alberta Film & Music Spotlight - A one-on-one conversation with Al Chapman, Director of Arts Development for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts

10. Manitoba Film & Music Spotlight - A one-on-one conversation with Jason Smith, Manager of Music Programs for Manitoba Film & Music

Featured guests in the Money Suite of episodes include:

Joel Plaskett,
Artist ● Heather Ostertag, FACTOR ●  Bob D'Eith, Music BC ● Jimmy Rankin, Artist ● Jonny Stevens, Music Nova Scotia ● Duncan McKie, Canadian Independent Music Association ● Ember Swift, Artist ● Beverley McKee, MuchFACT ● Louis Thomas, Sonic Entertainment Group ● Pavlo, Artist ● Michael Murray, Ontario Arts Council ● Nic Bragg, Zulu Records ● Catharine Bird, Freelance Grant Writer ● Jae Gold, D. Jae Gold Accounting ● Al Chapman, Alberta Foundation for the Arts ● Jason Burns, Artist Manager/Musician ● Paul Irvine, Sanderson Entertainment Law ● Jason Smith, Manitoba Film & Music ● Lorne Sprackman, Sprackman Terrence LLP ● Rick MacMillan, SOCAN Foundation ● D.O., Artist ● Jennifer Blitz, Ontario Media Development Corporation  


The following new episodes in the Promotion Suite will be available as of April 5:
* Marketing & Publicity
* Publicists
* Press Kits

The following new episodes in the Live Suite will be available as of May 3:
* Playing Live Basics
* Booking a Tour
* Tour Tips, Insights & Anecdotes
* Booking Agents
* American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Canada Spotlight

www.TheNewIndie.com

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Sin City Sizzles In April

Source: www.thestar.com - Kathleen Kenna

(March 31, 2010) LAS VEGAS—Expect to see a lot more skin in Sin City this month.

The latest watering hole on The Strip - Liquid - opens April 8 at Aria, a new luxury hotel at the recently opened, $8.5 billion (U.S.) CityCenter mega-project.

Liquid’s “adults-only playground” has three pools with private cabanas (with their own mini-fridges and flat-screen TVs), day beds, chaise lounges, and a bar-restaurant.

Despite hotels urging guests to cover up indoors, pool season has brought more bikinis and Speedos to hallways all along The Strip. Be forewarned.

Vegas has suffered badly during the worldwide economic downturn, but Eduardo Mandri, managing partner at travelalerts.ca (www.travelalerts.ca), says Torontonians and other folks in Canada are doing their best to put a fresh shine on the town.

“We’ve never seen such a high interest for this destination,” he said this week. “It’s not only the number one destination Canadians are researching, but demand is almost double what it used to be this time of year in 2009.”

Here’s a look at what else you might want to get a glimpse of in Vegas this month:

April 2: “Smokin’ Hot Bachelorette Auction”, hosted by Holly Madison, star of “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood. Ten women—local models, TV personalities, and July 2008 Playmate Laura Croft (Madison’s bff) have agreed to go on dates (dinner, a Lake Mead cruise) for charity. Tickets are $50 at Ghostbar, one of the hottest nightspots in Las Vegas (55th floor, at the celebrity-studded Palms). All proceeds go to Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth.

April 2-3 and 23-24: Late-night host Jay Leno is at the Terry Fator Theatre at The Mirage.

April 8-10 and 15-17: Diva Joan Rivers performs at The Venetian, after her “Celebrity Apprentice” appearance

April 9: Singer-pianist Alicia Keys and Robin Thicke bring their “Freedom Tour” to the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

April 16: Opening at Treasure Island of Gilley’s, of “Urban Cowboy” fame, with its famous mechanical bull. There are many pretenders, but only “Gilley’s has brand equity—it originated the mechanical bull,” says Michelle Knoll, Treasure Island senior vice-president. Gilley’s will have three bars and an eatery with retractable sliding windows that make diners feel as if they’re right on The Strip. No other place in Las Vegas has that. Or real saddles that serve as bar stools.

April 16-17: It’s “ACM Weekend” (Academy of Country Music). Free shows by 10 stars, including “Lady A” (Lady Antebellum), Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan, will be held on open-air stages downtown. Between shows, watch the free Fremont St. Experience sound-and-light show on the world’s largest outdoor screen. It’s 30 meters (90 feet) high, five blocks long, with 12.5 million LED lights and a 550,000-watt sound system. Fremont has 10 hotel-casinos, and 60 restaurants and bars. Some still sell 99-cent margaritas, $2 beer, and 99-cent shrimp cocktails.

April 18: Look for Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Trace (CCT) Adkins and more at the 45th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The show will be telecast live from 8-11 p.m. EST on CBS.

April 23: Grammy Award winner Keith Urban and American Idol winner Kris Allen play The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Kathleen Kenna is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. Starting soon, you’ll be able to catch her regular previews of what’s happening in Sin City on our website: www.thestar.com/travel.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Inaugural Oscar Peterson Chair Blends Jazz And Hip-Hop

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(April 04, 2010) Under the tutelage of Wynton Marsalis, Ron Westray adhered to the famed trumpeter’s central tenet: Everything but jazz is irrelevant.

Having come into his own, the inaugural Oscar Peterson Chair in Jazz Performance and an acclaimed composer who spent more than a dozen years as lead trombonist in the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis Septet, Westray is revisiting the music of his youth and curating a new series shows that blend jazz with hip-hop.

Westray’s Jazz Hop, which kicks off Friday at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, features the accomplished prof fronting an acoustic band alongside two emcees and a turntablist.

“I was there at the dawn of computers and rap,” explained Westray, 39, in an interview at his York office. “I had my Kangol (hat) and fat shoe strings and my Gazelles (sunglasses) on, but happened to be carrying a trombone case. I was scratching and practicing on turntables; I wanted to be Run DMC, just like the other guys around.”

Instead, the South Carolina native was immersed in black marching bands from Grade 6 through college and found his calling in jazz. Once he joined the Marsalis-helmed Jazz at Lincoln Centre ensemble in 1993, other styles of music went on the back burner.

“In my late 20s, when I did put all the pieces together and figure that I could play jazz now, my interests started to turn back to popular music and urban music and it was kind of a secret inside Wynton’s organizations.

“Wynton’s totally cool, he doesn’t really care, but it’s like if you work for Pepsi and you like to drink Coke, too; so I played the game. I’m glad I came through that jazz legacy though, because I learned how to play and compose and now have so much more to offer urban music.”

The Oscar Peterson Chair is a full-time, tenure-track position funded by a $4 million provincial endowment (along with $1 million to establish scholarships for talented music students from underprivileged backgrounds). It was founded upon the legendary pianist’s death in 2007.

Westray applied for job from the University of Texas at Austin in his fourth year as an assistant professor in the jazz studies department. “It was a chance for an international post, a fresh perspective... all I know is the American way, which is very aggressive, very backbiting and not a lot of room for upward mobility unless you are at the top of the class. This was an opportunity to have some influence in a country like Canada where philosophically people are still open. In the States, everything is oversaturated and burned out.”

With 14 years of touring, three CDs, numerous sideman recordings and a Pulitzer nomination for the 2005 jazz opera (Chivalrous Misdemeanors: Select Tales from Don Quixote will be remounted at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in November) to his name, Westray doesn’t miss being a working musician.

“I travelled the world 12 times and met all of my goals as a performer,” he says, “And I don’t see academia as separate from the performance aspect. The only major trade-off is the fact that you’re not playing every night, so you don’t have road chops — which I’ve compensated for by focusing on my practice regiment again for the first time since my formative years. There’s so much work I have gotten done in academia that I wouldn’t have gotten done in a hotel room.”

At York, Westray is ambassador for the newly-launched Oscar Peterson Scholarship which provides one first-year music student $40,000 over four years, and up to four $10,000 scholarships to current undergraduate music students.

Self-taught on piano, Westray never met Peterson who served as an adjunct York professor and chancellor and whom he ranks with great tunesmiths, such as, Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.

“I consider it an honour and a privilege to carry that baton. I have huge plans to create arrangements, consolidate all of his body of work, so that York University can be a storehouse for his compositional merits, especially.”

Additionally, Westray co-directs the York U Jazz Orchestra, and teaches performance, composition, theory and history courses, including Contemporary Black Urban Music.

“It’s basically hip-hop history,” he says of the latter which is open to all second-year students. “My chairman made no bones that they would prefer to have an African American teach that course and I’m so glad they gave it to me. It’s given me a chance to organize everything I know about hip-hop into a curriculum and I’m a few steps closer to an anthology.

“Hip-hop guys are traditionally opposed to jazz guys, because jazz guys don’t know how to deal with them as non-musicians. And jazz guys are kind of snooty about the hip-hop word. I’m not like that: I’m passionate about rap and hip-hop and urban music and soul music, but equally accomplished in jazz, so that gives me a chance to mediate both of these genres.”

Thus, the off campus jazz/hip-hop series running April 9, June 11 and July 9.

“In the States, people already tried it: between Brantford Marsalis’s Buckshot LeFonque project and Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, we had our little taste, and we kind of gave up. Whereas here, I feel like there is still a serious curiosity about the possibilities for jazz/hip-hop.”

And this won’t be some patched-together experiment: Westray is charting the beats made by The Produce Section — comprised of rappers Z B Wise and Chin Beats — and DJ Genius, so his acoustic septet can accompany them knowledgably.

“There’ll be no guesswork; this is where the formal process meets the intuitive process. I’m treating it just like I would a classical transcription. Everything I do (at York) as an educator, if I can translate that to the civic arena and also have that visibility in the civic arena, it all feeds back in, because ultimately students become involved. I want to establish myself as a force here in jazz and also in urban music.”

Though he’s played sideman gigs at local jazz haunts in recent months, the Toronto Centre concerts, which include Westray’s Swing House — traditional jazz outings on April 8, June 10, July 8 — mark his first prominent performances since arriving at York last fall.

His office walls are still bare, but Westray has settled into the ’burbs with his spouse and three daughters and is relishing our cultural diversity and hospitality.

“I only miss my family down south and Barack Obama; it’s such a rare time — the first black president — and I’ve left the country. Canadians have always been known for being nice, and it’s true. They’re laid back, some people say passive...whatever, man. I could use some niceness, some laidbackness right now.”

Julian Marley, Queen Ifrica at 29th IRAWMA in NYC on May 2

Source: ACM PR: A.C. McLean ; acm@acmpr.com

(April 5, 2010) *New York, NY — The son of legendary singer/songwriter Bob Marley,
Julian “Ju Ju” Marley will perform at the 29th International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) at York College: Performing Arts Center in New York on May 2nd, together with a number of Reggae and World Music’s most popular performing artists.

Marley’s return to the stage, behind is third album “Awake”, will be just one of the highlights of this prestigious award ceremony that will also feature performances by Dean Fraser, Queen Ifrica, Tarrus Riley, Gramps Morgan, Machel Montano, Barbee, Alison Hinds, Winsome Benjamin, Tony Rebel and others.

IRAWMA 2010 [http://www.irawma.com/], produced by Martin’s International & Assoc., LLC has a record in nominations led by Queen Ifrica with nine nominations, followed by Tarrus Riley with (6) nominations, Machel Montano and Gramps Morgan, with (5) each, and Julian Marley, Sean Paul and Macka Diamond with (4), and followed by Barbee, Beenieman and Vybz Kartel with (3) nominations each. India.Arie and fellow IRAWMA nominee Gramps Morgan share a Best Crossover Song nomination for their duet on the single “Therapy”.

The event also sees a passing of the torch with a number of the nominees and performers following in the footsteps of their parents, along with Julian Marley (son of Bob Marley), Gramps Morgan (son of Denroy Morgan), Queen Ifrica (daughter of Derrick Morgan) and Tarrus Riley (son of Derrick Riley) among them.

In addition to accolades to Reggae music, the IRAWMAs recognize artists in Gospel, Salsa, Latin, Reggaeton, Calypso, Soca, African, Soukous, Compas, Racine and Hip Hop. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to honour those who have made their mark globally in the Reggae and World Music industry,” said Ephraim Martin, president of Martin’s International and Associates.

For further information, ticket info, voting and a list of sponsors (American Airlines, Western Union, MD-TV etc.) visit: http://www.irawma.com/

About IRAWMA:
In 1981, Jamaican photo-journalist Ephraim Martin staged the “Reggae Awards” in Chicago. Over the last 29 years the annual event has travelled to Miami, Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale, New Orleans, New York and Jamaica. IRAWMA honours Reggae and World Beat entertainers for their outstanding contribution to the international music community. Reggae and World Music industry experts select the top entertainers for more than 40 categories. Music fans across the globe are then given the opportunity to vote for their favourites, the nominee with the most votes takes home the coveted trophy. IRAWMA has grown into the oldest and longest running annual Reggae and World Music event.

In Search of Lauryn Hill: The Obsoletism of the Female Emcee

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 5, 2010) *Where have you gone
Lauryn Hill and how do I get there? Someone has to save the species of the female rapper from fading into oblivion (Leave Mike Tyson be PETA) or being reduced to mere sex toys. You had so much left to say, so much left to do, little Black girls need you. I need you; I can’t go on listening to the Barbie doll with the Tourette’s-like flow. I understand your life has undergone many alterations since “The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill”, but your story is the story of millions of women and your voice so powerful that you could help many of them through situations and maintain an outlet for yourself.

Instead, we have a generation of Black girls lost listening to a female M.C. that wants to put something on my sideburns (listen to “Bedrock”) and feeding a sex kitten image to a throng of sex-starved people that exceeds the magical Summer of Love. This is not a Nicki Minaj dis blog; this is reality rap about the lack of diversity rocking the M.I.C. for the ladies.

During the heyday of sex pistols Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown (1995 – 2001) there were a variety of female emcees that gave a wide-range of styles, stories, and looks for the public’s consumption. There was the aforementioned Hill alongside Kim and Foxy, as well as Eve, Da Brat, Bahamadia, Missy Elliott, Trina and the burgeoning Remy Ma. Ten years later, only Trina has some sort of relevance at this point as personal demons, prison time, Hollywood, shifts in consumer taste and bad plastic surgery has derailed the rest, leaving Nicki Minaj as the leader of the new school and the Queen of royal badness (Shoutout to Latifah).

As Eminem has proven, there’s nothing wrong with being the only one that matters, as long as you have the talent, really have something to say and something to offer besides T&A. My friend keeps telling me to download pre-Young Money Nicki Minaj, but that’s about as irrelevant as the female M.C. is now, because that’s not what we’re getting from her. The Nicki Minaj on my radio station and video channel every 10 minutes is this life-size, anatomically correct Barbie doll, Harajuku Barbie to be exact!

We all know that sex sells and if skills sold, Trina would probably be, lyrically Jean Grae. Not familiar with the name? That’s because she’s a dope M.C. that’s been bubbling on the underground for quite some time, but has never broken through because of the double-standard placed on females within the rap game. Yes, you can be nice, but can you be nice
and sexy? Because that’s what it’s gonna take for you to blow up or you have to have a rap rabbi that happens to be white hot at the time. Lil’ Kim rode Biggie’s back, Foxy had Jay-Z and Nas, Trina had Trick Daddy, Lauryn came alongside Wyclef and Pras, Eve had the Ruff Ryders and Nicki Minaj has the cosign of Lil’ Wayne. Even the pioneer female rappers of the golden age had to be sponsored by a known male M.C. before she rocked the mic. Is it impossible for a woman to stand alone in such a male-dominated arena?

In a not-so-shocking mirror of society, capable women are reduced to just that, being a woman and not often regarded as equals even when they are superior to their male peers. Name five rappers that were better than Lauryn Hill in 1998? You’d be hard-pressed to do so, but like women in corporate America, she’s categorized as the woman that does the man’s job, and overlooked as the best person for the job.

The female emcee seems like a novelty nowadays, a feature to spice your song up, eye candy for a video, the mascot for a crew. It’s almost impossible to take them seriously when she’s spitting musical porn and you really can’t get to what she’s saying, because she’s half-butt naked! I saw Eve in Ludacris’ “My Chick’s Bad” remix video and the light of hope was sparked, then I saw the new Nicki Minaj video. So, I sat down and sent this S.O.S. for Lauryn Hill.

About the writer

Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find The World According to Teef. Plainfield, NJ native Al-Lateef Farmer is a self-styled social documentarian that tackles everything from politics to pop culture, Reality TV to relationships with a brand of social commentary rooted in independent thought that is unfiltered, uncensored, unforgiving, but never unreal! Take a trip to his world at http://worldaccording2teef.blogspot.com/

Tafelmusik Plays In Key Of Green

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(April 02, 2010) Reduce. Recycle. Re-use.

Believe it or not, there is a way of wringing musical magic from the motto of the environmentally conscious. And
Tafelmusik is going to show the way.

The city’s period-instrument orchestra is already there in many respects. It is reduced — numbering two dozen musicians where a typical big-city symphony employs nearly 100. It recycles — spending the last three decades giving new life to old, often long-forgotten composers. And it re-uses, continually finding new ways in which to bring this music to audiences at home and in touring that spans the globe.

The Earth-focused program it presents five times at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre next week, entitled Forces of Nature, is a case in point.

Violinist Julia Wedman has put together a concert of orchestral pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries that are, a she describes it, “a day in the life of the Earth,” starting with birdsong and guiding us to a peaceful sleep with a pastoral, good-night Chaconne from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s opera Hippolyte et Aricie.

Along the way, we’ll hear how the composers of the Baroque era used their imaginations to depict sunshine, rain and the creatures of the wild in music. There a piece about frogs and toads from Georg-Philipp Telemann and a ballet of flowers from Rameau’s Les Indes galantes on the program.

“There are going to be a lot of pieces people have probably never heard before,” Wedman says.

There was some music the violinist knew she was going have at the concerts. “Then I just talked to people, went to libraries and did research on the Internet,” to find the rarer curiosities.

Think of this as an aural companion to the Life documentary series currently running on Discovery.

There’s a visual component here, too. Wedman asked a curator to come up with high-definition images of nature that will be projected on the globe-shaped screen that Tafelmusik has used so successfully for its Galileo Project concerts.

“It’s funny, but everything looks better on that circular screen,” says Wedman, as she describes her brainchild over coffee on a particularly sunny and warm morning recently.

Wedman points out that there is much more than music and visuals involved in the week’s activities. Vanessa Farquharson, the author of Sleeping Naked is Green, is set to speak an hour before each concert. The celebration of all things environmental will provide patrons with free intermission coffee — if they bring their own mugs.

There will be environmental art by GTA artists on display in the building, and Earth-conscious organizations are expected to set up booths and displays in Tafelmusik’s “Green Room.”

Wedman says there will be a special guest on hand before each concert. On Wednesday, ahead of the first performance, it will be an artist who makes musical instruments out of found objects.

The United Church congregation at Trinity-St. Paul’s has even organized a “blessing of the bikes” on Apr. 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The idea for this program came up at Tafelmusik music director Jeanne Lamon’s cottage two summers ago, when a friend mentioned that Jed Goldberg, the president of Earth Day Canada, might be interested in some sort of a collaboration. Wedman had just premiered her first concert program for the orchestra’s kids’ concerts (it was so good, she had a chance to repeat it at Carnegie Hall last year).

“There were a lot of environmental themes,” Wedman says of the young people’s presentation focused on George Frideric Handel’s Water Music. “So Jeanne knew I was interested in this topic.”

The violinist discovered that Earth Day is celebrating its 40th anniversary on Apr. 22, “which added a sense of celebration to the occasion.”

Wedman wanted this to me more than just a concert. “I wanted this to be a community event, a party,” she says.

“Whenever I program, I always think about what sort of concert I would like to go to. One of the things I like is having things to do,” she adds with a smile. “I like the whole idea of having an experience.”

It will certainly give everyone something to think about.

WHAT: Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

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

WHEN: Apr. 7 to 11

TICKETS: $31-$76 (less for youth and students) at 416-964-6337 or www.tafelmusik.org

Hedley: From Idol to Survivor

Source: www.thestar.com - Nick Krewen

(April 04, 2010) He’s the Canadian Idol knockoff who made it.

Six years after being voted off the competitive music island, metaphorically speaking,
Jacob Hoggard is finding his recording career doing something the majority of his Idol compatriots aren’t: flourishing.

It is Hoggard and his power pop-driven Abbotsford, B.C.,-founded Hedley (along with support acts Boys Like Girls, Stereos and returning missing-in-action precocious pop princess Fefe Dobson) who are headlining a near-capacity Air Canada Centre on Monday, not former winners owning surnames like Malcolm and O’Neil.

It’s Hedley that is boasting a string of three platinum albums and a Universal recording contract, including its latest The Show Must Go, not ex-champs christened with last names like Melo and Avila.

And it’s Juno Group-of-the-Year nominated Hedley, also signed to a U.S. deal with Capitol Records, who were chosen among many to entertain a global TV audience of billions as a closer at the 2010 Winter Olympics last month in Vancouver.

It’s clear he has no regrets about coming up short — he finished third during Season 2 — at Idol.

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it exactly the same,” said Hoggard, 25, as he battled a bug prior to the Penticton tour kickoff. “Had I won that show, and had to work with a specific type of management and a specific label that may or may not have my best interests at heart.

“I don’t know if it would have had the same outcome as me not winning and being able to put my own team together of people that I really felt would be able to do the best job for the band in the long run.”

Since being cast out from the competition, Hoggard and the rest of Hedley — guitarist Dave Rosin, bass player Tim MacDonald and drummer Chris Crippin — have become MuchMusic darlings and given their home and native land some pretty big hits, the infectious rockers “On My Own,” “For the Nights I Can’t Remember” and the recent “Cha-Ching” among them.

Yet Hoggard says despite his success, he still feels a residue of Idol stigma by association.

“I feel that some people may not take us seriously because of the Canadian Idol thing in general,” he admitted. “ But I guess the fact of the matter is that we’re still here and the proof is in the pudding. We’re still selling records and selling out shows. I think that’s the important thing — is that it’s working.

“And our fans realize that we’re real human beings with something to give and something to prove.”

Among the targets yet to be achieved is U.S. success; previous efforts to make a breakthrough there — through everything from its American record deal (a rarity among Canuck Idol talents), a tour with Floria band Yellowcard to performing at the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas — haven’t borne fruit. But there’s no rush; there’s still an argument to be made that Hedley is still finding its voice.

The Show Must Go, the band’s latest album (also up for a Juno for Pop Album of the Year), although sounding certainly more mature and refined as Hoggard and company continue to improve their craft, was produced by committee: Brian Howes (Boys Like Girls, Puddle of Mudd), ex-Matthew Good and current 54-40 guitarist Dave Genn, Goldfinger singer John Feldmann and Toronto’s David Bendeth (Breaking Benjamin, Paramore) all weighed in on different songs, resulting in an album that switches styles more often than Jesse James sheds mistresses.

“I feel like I’m a pretty goal-oriented guy in certain cases, but for some reason this was an album that we really didn’t have an end game for,” Hoggard explained. “As we were finishing the last tour, I was going through some pretty serious life circumstances and began writing for the record at the same time.”

“Although I wanted it to come from a certain place, but I didn’t want it to be a specific type of record. I put about 40 to 45 songs into a book — all slower and acoustic — and then we used four different producers to help us develop that diversity in a record that we’ve always kind of looked for.”

Hoggard said the inspiration for the record came from the collapse of several relationships — both romantic and platonic — as he was torn asunder by both personal and professional commitments, a sentiment best expressed with the band’s current piano-driven ballad single, “Perfect.”

“The whole impetus of The Show Must Go is remembering that your whole life is not a show and you can’t just always be performing, “ Hoggard explained. “It got to a certain point in my life where there was no real distinguishing line between performing and private.

“Anybody who ever thought that they could carry fame, fortune and family in one hand is crazy.”

But Hoggard isn’t willing to throw in the towel.

“I’m just a really lucky guy to be in this position and I always try to make the most out of it without really losing sight of the things that I value, like family and friends and just kind of the innocence of being able to write songs and play music.

“It can very easily get lost.”

The Write Way To Carnegie Hall

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman

(April 06, 2010) How do you get to Carnegie Hall? For John Korsrud, a giant misunderstanding helped pave the way to the fabled New York concert stage.

When the Vancouver-based composer and trumpet player was approached by the American Composers Orchestra about creating a composition for a Carnegie Hall program honouring his former teacher Louis Andriessen, he pitched a virtuoso trumpet piece – with another trumpet player in mind. But when the publicity materials for the program went out a few months later, Korsrud was shocked by the announcement that he would be performing his own trumpet concerto.

“I read this and I went ‘No, no, no, no, mistake, mistake. I play trumpet, but I’m no virtuoso,’” Korsrud remembers, laughing over a cold drink at a Vancouver café. “And then a couple weeks went by and I went ‘Ah, screw it. I’m going to write myself a trumpet concerto.’”

I’m trying to make it a big, bombastic work. Because it’s Carnegie Hall, I threw in every single fabulous trick I knew.

Friday night, Korsrud, 46, will make his Carnegie Hall debut – as a performer and as a composer (the commission was not part of the misunderstanding). In fact, this marks his first visit to Carnegie Hall, period. He’s never even seen a concert there. Nor has he ever before played solo trumpet for one of his own compositions.

“It’s essentially my first big American commission: Carnegie Hall, playing trumpet on the stage.” He pauses. “Wait a minute; I can’t do this!”

Korsrud has a good sense of humour – and modesty. You might say he’s not one to blow his own horn. But he is well known in the Vancouver music community as the leader of the beloved Hard Rubber Orchestra (celebrating its 20th anniversary this year), a producer of musical events, an award-winning film score composer, and a music teacher at Capilano University and Vancouver Community College. He was born in Regina, but has lived in Vancouver since he was four.

His new work, Come to the Dark Side, will have its world premiere at Carnegie Hall as part of Orchestra Underground: Louis & the Young Americans, a tribute to the influential Dutch composer, who turned 70 last June. It will feature four works: one by Andriessen himself, and three by former students, including Korsrud – who studied with Andriessen in Amsterdam from 1995 to 1997.

Korsrud’s 15-minute work is groove-oriented, heavy with percussion and brass – a loud, fun crowd-pleaser, he promises. “I’m trying to make it a big, bombastic work,” he says. “Because it’s Carnegie Hall, I threw in every single fabulous trick I knew.”

The title comes from some guidance Andriessen offered his Canadian student during an early lesson. Korsrud had been writing short works, “freeze-dried pieces” as he calls them, that jumped around quickly from one genre to another – every 20 seconds or so. Andriessen urged Korsrud to use nuance and give his compositions time to develop.

“He wasn’t having a very good time convincing me about this,” says Korsrud, “and he kind of stopped and looked at me and said: ‘John, come to the dark side.’”

In the end, Andriessen succeeded in pushing Korsrud into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. “He was a great teacher. He would see my little tricks. He was quick to figure out what I could do as a composer and what I was avoiding. He was really good at forcing me [to try new things]. It was very frustrating, but it was very good for me.”

A day before leaving for New York, Korsrud was going about his business on Commercial Drive near his East Vancouver home, and encountering encouragement everywhere: slaps on the back, hugs of good luck and old friends gushing about his talent.

“I’m so proud of him. Once you’ve made it to Carnegie Hall, you can actually die and rest in peace,” said Bruno Hubert, music director of the Libra Room, where Korsrud has played on the small, polar-opposite-of-Carnegie-Hall stage. “It’s one thing to go there as a musician, but when you actually make it as a composer, that’s a whole other ball game.”

It’s been a crazy few months for Korsrud, who produced two shows for the recent Cultural Olympiad: the ambitious Ice Age 2010, and the Hard Rubber Orchestra’s Drum and Light Festival. So there hasn’t been a lot of time to focus on his Carnegie Hall debut – or to practise, practise, practise.

“Normally [as a composer] I wouldn’t be so nervous, but now I’m really nervous,” he admits, adding that in the days leading up to his departure, he was practising four hours a day. “To be honest with you, I’m kind of looking forward to getting this over with.”

The American Composers Orchestra’s Orchestra Underground: Louis and the Young Americans is at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Placido Domingo Ready to Sing After Cancer Surgery

Source: www.thestar.com - Verena Dobnik

(April 06, 2010) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Placido Domingo is back — ready to sing around the world.

But first, on Monday, the star tenor opened his new Manhattan restaurant — four weeks after colon cancer surgery.

“I was lucky to have the pain,” said the 69-year-old Spaniard, who was forced to interrupt a busy international schedule after a tour in Japan, where he experienced severe pain in the abdominal area.

“And I also wasn’t able to lift my left leg easily,” he said as he picked it up off the chair, with a smile.

In fact, they were fortuitous symptoms that spurred him to fly to New York, where his primary physician at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Dr. Valentin Fuster, quickly diagnosed a malignant polyp in the colon.

“And he said, ‘There’s no way you’re going on to London!’” Domingo said.

Instead, the cancerous tissue was surgically removed on March 2.

Looking rested and tanned on Monday night, Domingo chatted during a private opening party for the new East Side restaurant Zengo, which he co-owns with restaurateur Richard Sandoval. It starts serving meals to the public on Tuesday.

Amid talk of tapas and tequila, Domingo addressed a much more serious subject: colonoscopies.

He said he had never had one before and on a warm, festive spring evening, issued an urgent appeal: “Every person in this world should have a colonoscopy! I want to say to people, just do it!!”

In the early stages, people with colon cancer often have no symptoms at all — one reason doctors recommend screening.

Domingo said he was simply lucky, and when his cancer was caught it was localized and had not spread.

He said he did not require chemotherapy or radiation, just a six-week break from singing during which he rested at his Manhattan apartment and his home in Acapulco, Mexico.

Domingo is to fly to Italy later this week to rehearse Verdi’s opera Simon Boccanegra at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, singing the title role for six performances starting April 16. Also in April, he’s appearing in recitals in Moscow and the capital of Qatar, Doha.

He’ll do more than sing in Doha. He’ll also enjoy the food — at two Doha restaurants he and Sandoval co-own.

And the tenor is catching up with the mounds of get-well mail he received.

“I am just so thankful for the demonstrations of love that were unbelievable,” he said, his rich speaking voice rising with emotion.

He said one man who had heard him in every major role he ever sang wrote, ‘Rest well, for your most important role — yourself.’”

Josh and JB: The Next Teen Sensation Prepare For Huge Success

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Buddy Sampson / buddysampson_budman@yahoo.com

(April 07, 2010) **Josh and JB Welch are two remarkable young people. They have already captured the attention of the television industry, having starred in their own show, “Josh and JB In The Industry,” a show that aired in 140 markets in the U.S. last year and was syndicated on CBS and ABC and aired in 29 countries.

“It starts with me and my younger brother Josh,” said JB, which is short for John Bronson. “Basically the dynamic of that was two brothers who are making their way in the music industry and it shows from us being in our house to travelling all over the states like to L.A. New York, and Hawaii. The next season (for tentative release in the fall) is going to be fun.”

The Welch family, which has resided in a small town in East San Diego County, Jamul, is the pride of the city. The brothers, with their sister Courtney, a champion horse rider, grew up with a fine sense of musicality.

“The family dynamic is really great because we’re all musically oriented,” said Josh.”Courtney used to play violin, I play bass guitar, JB plays guitar and we all do a little bit of keyboards, so we’ve always been able to throw together some little songs and stuff and have a lot of fun with it.”

But how is working with family members musically?  “He’s my older brother,” said Josh on working with JB “It’s a lot of fun working with JB.” Working together as a family, however seems to make the music even more special.

“It’s really our roots,” said Josh.”It’s really great getting into music, to express yourself through music and you can write something that’s original. I think it’s just great to incorporate that into our show(TV), because that’s what we’ve been trying to do for so long, really getting our music out there so other people can hear it. I think it’s a great thing.”

Josh has listened to and inspired by some of the best bass players and performers of our time.

“There’s a lot of oldies out there. Bootsy Collins is really awesome. I’ve listened to a lot of old rock bands, too. There’s Victor Wooten, too (best known for his playing in the group Bela Fleck and The Flecktones.)  JB likes a lot of the classic guitar bands and rockers. “I love Van Halen, Hendrix, Dimebag Darryl and Lenny Kravitz inspired me a little with his technique.”

The young musicians started at an early age and realized they had the desire and talent to succeed. Josh started playing music at 10, and JB started, on the piano at the tender age of 9 and guitar at 14.

“That was the one instrument I got hooked on and I started singing shortly after that,” said JB. “I tried it and I basically liked it. So that’s basically what I do now is sing and play guitar.”

But there’s more to JB than music. The seemingly calm, centered JB holds a black belt in martial arts weapons.  He’s one of only three Samurai in martial arts in the U.S. and traveled to Japan to be taught by one of the masters of the art.

“I studied with one of the grandmasters, I was actually taught by one of the defenders for the Samurai,” he explains. “He’s 97 years old now. He was really inspirational, he has a lot of knowledge.”   

Josh and JB are working on their new project, which includes their hot new release “Dance Floor,” scheduled for imminent release.

“We’ve worked with some well known producers that have helped us along with it,” he said. Among the people that they collaborated with that helped them with their latest project include Tim Myers, formerly of One Republic, a writer for national advertising campaigns, including Target and Andrew (Drew) Lane, who produced the B5 version of the song “Get’Cha Head In Da Game,” on the “High School Musical” movie soundtrack and also co-produced and arranged B5’s “Shining Star” on Disney’s “Hannah Montana Soundtrack” CD and has worked with P Diddy. That single achieved double platinum status in less than 10 weeks on the Billboard 200 charts. With those producers and others, their upcoming release will be a smash. “It’s a huge production going on and we feel the song’s going to be a hit,” said JB. Josh feels that the chemistry was great in working with Myers.”It was like a couple of best friends in the studio working on a great project,” said Josh. “It really was fun. We connected in a lot of ways. He was down to earth and we look forward to working with him in the future.”

The young artists also have a refined sense of the music business industry. After all, they started their own record label, Junior Records, two years ago, when JB was 18 and Josh a mere 14 years old, which made them at the time, the youngest record executives in the industry.

“It all started out with an idea, just listening to one day and really wanting to get involved with that kind of thing and figuring out how it was done and produce it so it can get out on the air waves and stuff, “said Josh. “So working on that was really a great project to do and you can see a lot of that on the TV show.”

As you may know, starting a record label can be expensive and on the first season of their show (Josh and JB In The Industry) JB reveals their unorthodox way of raising funds.

“On the TV show in the first season, you’ll see that my sister-she’s a Champion Show rider,” he said. “And those horses, if they’re a champion, they can go anywhere from like 20,000 to 400,000 dollars. So what we did while my sister was on vacation, we kind of sold the horse to somebody to try to get a down payment up.” Josh made sure to let us know it was a temporary measure. “We got it back to her of course after we got the money to buy it back, so long story short, everything’s good now,” explained Josh, laughing. “I was mad at them at the time, but they got it back,” said Courtney. But how did they make it up to her? “They got me a new saddle,” laughed Courtney.

The Josh and JB In the Industry show is tentatively scheduled to be aired again in fall of 2010 for network TV.

“It’s filmed on location at our house, and shows what we do in our free time and all our talents and hobbies, so yes, I guess you’d call it reality,” explained JB when asked if the show is in the category of reality series.

But the young men will soon have to figure out all the success that inevitably will come their way. They always perform to screaming audiences and the public loves them.

“The audience really connects with us,” said Josh. And they should. After all, they are the next teen sensation. Visit their website at www.joshandjb.com.

Barenaked Ladies Concert A Page Turner

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Marsha Lederman

The Barenaked Ladies
At the Save On Foods Memorial Centre
Victoria, Tuesday evening

(April 07, 2010) If the
Barenaked Ladies were hoping Steven Page’s absence from the stage would be less noticeable if they didn’t mention their former bandmate, they were wrong. No, they didn’t mention him, and yes, Page’s absence was strongly felt as the band kicked off its All in Good Time tour, their first without Page

But that doesn’t mean Tuesday night’s show was a failure. Far from it.

There was a palpable cohesion on stage and the four remaining members (Ed Robertson, Kevin Hearn, Jim Creeggan and Tyler Stewart) appeared to genuinely be having a good time.

The trademark banter was there, the jokes, the made-up site-specific songs referencing a local Mexican restaurant and the supermarket chain whose name the arena bears.

And in this new era of the band, Robertson emerged as a bigger on-stage force than ever: His gorgeous voice, his charismatic stage presence, his ridiculously excellent sense of humour. He moved breezily into the role of sole frontman, delivering the goods again and again, with highlights that included Easy and Light Up My Room.

But the band appears to have used Page’s exit as an opportunity to create a more democratic stage show, with the spotlight (yes, literally and figuratively) on all four members and Hearn and Creeggan up front with Robertson (except when Hearn is on keyboards). For the on-stage chit-chat and overall show feel, this mostly works (although Page’s quick wit is sorely missed). But when it comes to the music, there are issues.

Things slowed down considerably when Hearn and Creeggan took over lead vocals on tracks from the new release, including Another Heartbreak and On the Lookout, respectively.

This was not simply a result of the crowd being unfamiliar with the band’s new material. In contrast, when Robertson belted out the catchy Four Seconds, the arena came alive. The album’s first single, You Run Away, was another crowd pleaser (although the video behind the band verged on the cheesy when it featured a runner).

There’s been much speculation that the song, with lyrics like “I tried to be your brother / You cried, and ran for cover” was written about the split with Page. It was, however, pointedly dedicated by Robertson Tuesday night not to his old friend, but to the owner of a favourite comic book shop in Victoria.

There are times in the show when there’s just no getting around Page’s absence. The band, smartly, has not ditched catalogue staples such as Lovers in a Dangerous Time, If I Had $1000000 and One Week from the set list. Robertson takes over The Old Apartment (and owns it). But for the most part, Hearn subs in for Page’s vocals. It works as well as it can. Dumping the songs would be a mistake. The absence of other big BNL hits such as Enid and Be My Yoko Ono was already a bummer for the audience.

But the approximately 2,200 fans (in an arena configuration with a 3,100-seat capacity – ouch) were treated to a very good show, from Halifax singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett’s strong opening set right through to the band’s ‘N Sync-type moves to close out the concert, and the encorethat followed. Before they left the stage, the four band members took their bows – with their arms tightly around each other.

The Barenaked Ladies play several Canadian dates this month and next, including Calgary April 8 (barenakedladies.com).  

High-Energy Jamming At Koerner Hall

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Li Robbins

Baaba Maal
At Koerner Hall in Toronto on Tuesday

(April 07, 2010) It was, as
Baaba Maal himself noted, a “simple, intimate” beginning to a concert. Just Maal, dressed in flowing red and gold robes, playing an acoustic guitar and singing with that startlingly powerful tenor voice. But once the band joined him he cautioned, “God knows what will happen now.”

What did happen was two hours plus of music that had almost nothing to do with Maal’s latest recording, Television, ostensibly the reason for this tour. It’s a collaboration with members of Brazilian Girls, and bears a certain resemblance to a Manu Chao-ized version of West African music, à la Amadou & Mariam. But on Tuesday night, even when performing songs from Television, the cool, contained pop-Maal was nowhere to be heard. Instead it was all about jamming, the nine-man ensemble occasionally missing the mark but nonetheless playing as only highly skilled West African musicians can: with propulsive percussive force, sparkling guitar grooves and a sizable dollop of high-energy show-biz antics.

Despite the fun of the last – dance and percussion face-offs, and the unstoppable flirtation of dexterous talking-drum player Massamba Diop -- some of the most affecting moments of the concert actually were the “simple, intimate” ones, such as when Maal led blind griot and long-time musical partner, Mansour Seck, to the front of the stage to sing.

Maal also tried to temper the exuberance with some consciousness-raising, an effort familiar to fans since he regularly proclaims that a musician’s role is to give advice. This advice, delivered between increasingly sweaty and jubilant numbers, was mostly a little vague in delivery but the key underlying points were clear: Women are needed on the political stage; we must protect youth and children; our actions determine the future for generations to come. Still, the advice that seemed to connect most powerfully with the audience was of a different sort. Toward the end of the show Maal exhorted, “Everybody who wants to dance can get up and dance. This is how it should be.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

Young Musicians And Old Masterpieces Make A Beautiful Mix

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(April 06, 2010) We hear some pieces of music so often — on our iPods, the car radio, while shopping — that it’s easy to start mistaking them for wallpaper. So it takes a very special kind of performer to make us sit up and really take notice again.

There was a stage-full of such special performers on Tuesday night at Roy Thomson Hall, as Chinese piano sensation
Lang Lang, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra and conductor Christoph Eschenbach reintroduced us to the beauties of some well-worn classical masterpieces.

The orchestra, a veritable United Nations of first-rate musicians aged 27 and under, was spectacular. Their youthful energy, precision and eagerness were harnessed with uncommon finesse by Eschenbach, who turned 70 in February. It was the ideal marriage of innocence and experience.

They performed Sergei Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony, first heard in 1918, with a compelling combination of craft, colour and dynamic flexibility. It came out both light and powerful — an approach that also made Ludwig van Beethoven’s 1813 Symphony No. 7 so mesmerizing that the usually cough-prone audience fell totally silent.

The biggest treat in Eschenbach’s readings of the scores was in hearing how he could tease out little musical details while masterfully shaping the longer dramatic arc in each movement.

No less impressive was Lang. Left to his own devices, the 27-year-old pianist can lapse into self-indulgence. But, in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 (K. 453), which dates from 1784, he, the orchestra and Eschenbach played as one, teasing out every gorgeous nuance in the score.

Yes, Lang lingered over the delicacies of the second movement, but, in this context, the concert was all the richer for it. He graciously offered an equally sweet encore, Frédéric Chopin’s Étude in A-flat Major from Op., 25, played with uncommon delicacy.

Soul Sisters: SWV Has New Look & Fresh Sound

Source: By Jawn Murray

(April 2, 2010) The New Jack Swing trio, made up of
Cheryl "Coko" Clemons, Tamara "Taj" George and Leanne "LeLee" Lyons, recently completed a new photo shoot with acclaimed photographer Derek Blanks.

"Shooting with Derek was amazing! He's such a nice guy and easy to work with. He knows how to really make you feel and look beautiful while shooting," said lead vocalist, Coko.

Best known for hits like 'Weak,' 'Right Here,' 'Rain,' and 'I'm So Into You,' SWV is currently on the 'New Jack Reunion Tour' with Blackstreet, Keith Sweat, Bell Biv Devoe, After 7 and Tony! Toni! Toné.

After more than 13 years since they've released a group CD – both 'Release Some Tension' and 'A Special Christmas' dropped in 1997 – SWV has been in the studio recording new music with producers like Carvin & Ivan (Jazmine Sullivan/Chris Brown), Shep Crawford (Tamia/Deborah Cox) and Kelly Price.

"The music is coming together nicely. It feels really good to be singing with my girls again and I think our fans are really going to enjoy the songs. I can't wait for folks to hear the music," Coko offered.

In addition to dates with SWV, Coko has been promoting her sophomore gospel CD, 'The Winner In Me.' Her Grammy-nominated debut gospel release, 'Grateful' was released in 2006 and featured Fantasia, Faith Evans and Lil' Mo.

(Read: 'Live Strong: SWV Singer Coko Shares Personal Pain on New CD.')

Group member Taj appeared on 'Survivor: Tocantins' in 2009. In addition to releasing her debut tome, 'Player hateHER: How to Avoid the Beat Down and Live in a Drama-Free World' (Harper Collins) in 2007, Taj also starred in a TV One reality show 'I Married A Baller' opposite her husband, retired NFL star Eddie George.

Third member LeLee had been raising her children in Atlanta and is currently enrolled in school.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Rihanna, Jack Johnson, Warped Tour Coming

Source: www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(April 05, 2010) A busy summer at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre just got busier with concert announcements by Rihanna, Jack Johnson and the Scorpions. Meanwhile, the pop-punk extravaganza the Vans Warped Tour is returning to its annual home, Mississauga’s Arrow Hall. The Barbadian R&B queen Rihanna, with opening act Ke$ha, plays the amphitheatre on Aug. 5 (tickets $40-$100, on sale this Saturday), with Johnson — with opening act G. Love — arriving July 19 ($40-$65, also on sale Saturday) and the German heavy-metal icons in the Scorps all booked up for June 27 ($45-$70 as of Friday). All tickets will be available through Ticketmaster and Livenation.com. The Vans Warped Tour line-up announced for the GTA stop has the usual long list of acts, but topping the bill is the All-American Rejects, Motion City Soundtrack, Alkaline Trio, Andrew W.K. and a reactivated Sum 41.  Warped Tour tickets go on sale Friday available via Ticketmaster, Livenation.com, Rotate This and Soundscapes.

Angélique Kidjo

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


Oyo
Angélique Kidjo
Razor and Tie

(April 05, 2010)  Angélique Kidjo grew up awash in a world of music, hearing not only the traditional songs of her native Benin, but also West African highlife, American R&B and Bollywood soundtracks. Oyo, her tenth album, celebrates that cultural cross-pollination with Africanized versions of everything from Santana’s Samba Pa Ti to James Brown’s Cold Sweat. But what Oyo offers isn’t tribute so much as reinvention, as Kidjo takes full possession of her influences, infusing Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up with a bubbly, polyrhythmic intensity (not to mention cameos from Bono and John Legend) and turning Aretha Franklin’s Baby, I Love You (with the help of Dianne Reeves) into the haunted, wistful lament Monfe Ran E.

Jeff Healey

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

Last Call
Jeff Healey
Stony Plain

As if we needed another reason to miss him,
Jeff Healey’s final studio recording shows how well he could illuminate the hot jazz he adored. Where his albums with the Jazz Wizards were sometimes more enthusiastic than authentic, this disc – recorded mostly with Healey overdubbing himself on guitars, trumpet and voice – gets the details precisely right, from his perfectly shaded crooning in Time on My Hands to the exquisitely swinging rhythm guitar underpinning I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter. And while Ross Wooldridge’s piano cameos are occasionally too florid for my taste, the contributions of the album’s other guest, violinist Drew Jurecka, are time-machine perfect.

Badu Tells Sykes Her Nude Act ‘Was Grossly Misunderstood’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 5, 2010) *Saturday night on The Wanda Sykes Show, singer
Erykah Badu, now rapidly becoming synonymous as a performance artist, says her controversial music video, “Window Seat,” in which she stripped nude and feigned being shot at the site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, has been “grossly misunderstood” and was not intended to insult the late president.  “My point was grossly misunderstood all over America. JFK is one of my heroes, one of the nation’s heroes,” Badu said. “John F Kennedy was a revolutionary; he was not afraid to butt heads with America, and I was not afraid to show America my butt-naked truth.” Meanwhile, as we reported, Badu, a Dallas native, will be fined $500 for disorderly conduct after a witness came forward saying she was offended that she and her two children saw Badu, 39, disrobe at Dealey Plaza during the March 13 shoot. Later in the show Badu performed “Window Seat” and of course Sykes offered up her own stab at performance art better known as a parody of Badu’s video. Check it out:

 

Estelle Launches Jewellery Line with Rachel Roy

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 2, 2010) Grammy winning singer/songwriter
Estelle has partnered with designer Rachel Roy to create a jewellery line exclusively for the Rachel Roy brand. On sale now at select Macy’s stores or www.RachelRoy.com,, the line features necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings, according to the designer. A mutual love of costume jewellery brought Rachel and Estelle together and the collection reflects their affinity for color and materials such as resin, hematite and yellow crystal. The collection ranges in price from $34 to $195 and will also be available at Macys.com.

 

Alicia Keys Puts Beyonce Duet on Hold

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 06, 2010) *Alicia Keys has reportedly decided to postpone the release of her Beyonce duet “Put It In a Love Song” as the next single from her album, and will instead drop “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready),” which features rapper Drake. Keys and Bey flew out to the slums of Rio de Janiero, Brazil in February to film a music video for the track, which was supposed to premiere in March as the next single from her “Element of Freedom” CD. “Expect ['Put It In A Love Song'] right after my ‘Un-Thinkable’ video,” she told Rap Up. “It’s kind of nice that I have such a great video [with] such a great artist in the can. They’re going to be able to see the ‘Un-Thinkable’ video first and then see ‘Put It in a Love Song’, but it probably won’t come until closer to this summer.” Keys will reportedly shoot the “Unthinkable” video on April 10 and has ruled out inviting Drake to make a cameo. “He won’t be in the video. That’s too obvious,” she said. “[But] he’s a great guy. I’m really proud of all the things he’s been able to achieve, and we’re most likely going to do some kind of remix for the song that’ll be really good. There’ll be more of me and Drake.”

VIDEO: Drake’s Debut Album Pushed Back Again

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 07, 2010) *The release date for Drake’s long-anticipated full-length debut album “Thank Me Later,” which has had numerous postponements since last year, has been pushed back yet again – this time from May 2010 to June 15, Billboard reports. The rapper broke the news during the first stop of his “Away From Home Tour” Monday night (April 5) in Slippery Rock, Pa. So far, only one single has been released from the set, a track titled “Over,” which is currently No. 13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and No. 22 on the Hot 100. A song titled “Shut It Down,” featuring The-Dream, leaked on the internet last month. Drake’s solo tour runs from April 6 through May 8 and features performances from Canadian rapper/singer K-OS and synth pop New York band Francis & The Lights. At the Slippery Rock stop, the Toronto-raised MC performed a new track from “Thank Me Later” titled “Fireworks.” Watch below.

 

Whitney Scraps More European Tour Dates due to Illness

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 07, 2010) *More dates on Whitney Houston’s European tour have been postponed in the wake of her diagnosed respiratory infection. The Manchester Evening News Arena, where she was to perform on April 8 and 9, announced on its Web site Wednesday that the gigs had been rescheduled for June 16 and 17. “Whitney is suffering from an upper respiratory infection and after a consultation with her doctors has been advised to postpone her performances,” the arena said in a statement. “Whitney and her band apologize that the shows have had to be rescheduled on such short notice.” As previously reported, the 46-year-old postponed her scheduled Tuesday concert in Paris, delaying the European leg of a world tour that was poorly received in Asia and Australia. The AFP cites a s source who says Houston is being treated at The American Hospital in Paris for “chronic rhinopharyngitis (a swelling of the mucus membranes in the nose and pharynx) and an infection whose cause has not been identified.” The private hospital, which treats many prominent individuals, said it could not comment on any patient issues. According to her Web site, Houston is next set to perform on April 11 in Glasgow, Scotland.

:FILM NEWS::

Betty White: Octophenom

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Joshua Ostroff

(April 05, 2010) I'm the luckiest old broad that ever drew a breath.— 88-year-old Betty White on Larry King Live, March 18, 2010

Pop culture has always been unpredictable, and no one knows this better than Betty White, who’s been a part of it since the 1940s. So when her career train left the station recently, she started shovelling coal as fast as she could. The result is that a woman born in 1922 has become the hottest star of 2010.

“She is a representative of vitality and enduring quality,” posits Moses Znaimer, the pop-culture impresario who went from founding CityTV and MuchMusic to serving the over-50 crowd with Zoomer magazine and specialty radio and TV stations (he also runs the Canadian Association of Retired Persons). “It may have even started as a bit of a lark,” he says of White’s comeback, “but the fact that it took root and became such a phenomenon is an indicator of something much more serious going on in society.”

Since appearing alongside Sandra Bullock in last summer’s hit The Proposal (and going viral with a hilariously outrageous faux behind-the-scenes video on FunnyOrDie.com), White has become inescapable.

It’s not like she was unemployed in the early part of the decade, but mostly she’d had small guest TV spots (My Name is Earl, That ‘70s Show) and recurring roles (Boston Legal, The Bold and the Beautiful). Things took off once she started contrasting her sweet old lady appearance with a mean and/or saucy attitude. White landed cameos on Ugly Betty and 30 Rock – Alec Baldwin told Access Hollywood at the time, “We took a vote: If you could have one guest star for the whole season, who would it be? And Betty White was the winner.” She roasted William Shatner and appeared in a long-running series of outré skits on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

But White really took over water coolers this winter with an instantly iconic Snickers ad that appeared during the Superbowl telecast (she gets tackled and engages in trash-talk during a pickup football game) and a shower scene with Hugh Jackman to relaunch Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. These coincided with a January lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild and a successful half-million-strong Facebook campaign that helped her get hired as host of Saturday Night Live (on May 8). This was quickly followed by news she’ll once again be shacking-up with three female friends in the new TV-land sitcom Hot in Cleveland, alongside Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick.

The fact that a woman who earned her first of six Emmys back in 1952 has become such a hot cultural commodity today is unusual because advertisers want young actors to attract young audiences. “If you take the cliché of the ad business, Moses Znaimer is at home in his rocking chair, chewing his gums and waiting for his pension cheque so he can go buy dog food,” says Znaimer, now in his late 60s.

Widespread affection for White has also helped supersede pop-culture’s usual youth bias. Saturday Night Live’s executive-producer Lorne Michaels told the New York Times, “The depth of feeling for her at the show and particularly among the women who are coming back was very deep,” referring to alums Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and others who will appear alongside White.

But not everyone believes the grassroots movement behind her comeback is entirely without irony. “I don't want to be the contrary voice, but I really am flummoxed by this Betty White thing. I don’t understand why this is her moment,” expat Toronto blogger and author Tara Ariano, managing editor for Sling.com’s blog and co-founder of website Television Without Pity, says over the phone from Manhattan. “Obviously, I think she’s cooler than a rapping Granny, but most of the joke of what she does now is that she’s an old lady being outrageous. There’s something to me that seems a little condescending about it.”

Ariano, who enjoys watching White’s old stints on The Golden Girls and game-show reruns, seems most disappointed that a comedy legend like White is being laughed at, rather than with. “I just wish she were doing cooler stuff. Her role in The Proposal was embarrassing; I was embarrassed for her.” Ariano adds: “For me to second-guess her career path would be the most condescending thing of all, but Bea Arthur never got into the territory that makes me feel weird about the Betty White comeback. [Arthur] would do things like play Larry David’s mom on Curb Your Enthusiasm as a later-in-life role. To me, [this] is a waste of a Betty White.”

Znaimer doesn’t necessarily disagree with Ariano’s interpretation that White’s ascendance may have started as a joke or stunt, but he still believes the actress’s popularity speaks to a “deeper truth” and is, in fact, the shape of things to come. “What we can project into the future is more and more Zoomer protagonists taking central, heroic roles in popular culture,” Znaimer says. “We are at the turn of this bit of history, the hinge, so it’s in some ways remarkable and noticeable. But as this inevitable wave rolls on, you’ll see it play out in a million different ways. It is a tsunami, just not a negative one.”

“Maybe the Betty White comeback is the canary in the coal mine of older people being relevant as pop-culture consumers again,” Ariano suggests. “Maybe two TV seasons from now that’s all we’ll see. It’ll be Matlock all over again.”

Snarkiness aside, things are already moving in that direction. Ted Danson (born in 1947) has been enjoying a late-career revival on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Bored to Death, and starred in the acclaimed series Damages with Glenn Close (another 1947 baby) and Lily Tomlin (born 1939). Meanwhile, Buzz Aldrin (born 1930) has been hoofing it on Dancing with the Stars and Leonard Nimoy (born 1931) enjoys a pivotal role on Fringe.

Znaimer believes seeing aged actors on TV is vital because pop culture also has an impact on the broader culture.

“It’s a very important as a method of socializing young people to their own future,” he claims. “It’s true, young people don’t feel very deeply about these things. The decline of your body – the decline of your pulchritude and eventually your unavoidable death – is not a subject most people gravitate to. But the sooner they can see the beauty of [aging] and can see that they will be spending more years over 50 than they did under 30, the better for all of us.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

Fey And Carell, Thrust Into Action

Source: www.thestar.com - Amy Longsdorf

(April 04, 2010) As far as unlikely action heroes go, Tina Fey ranks near the top of the list. But that didn't stop the 30 Rock star from revelling in Date Night, an action comedy filled with car chases, menacing bad guys and a hellbent Ray Liotta.

“All the action stuff was really fun to do,” reports Fey. “We spent several days and nights in these cars which were pulled by giant rigs. It was very impressive.

“And during the last days of the shoot, we were on a roof in New York City pretending that a helicopter was coming and screaming at Ray Liotta. Who doesn't want to scream at Ray Liotta?”

Ray Liotta aside, Fey was drawn to Date Night primarily for the opportunity to work with co-star Steve Carell. The actors have known each other for 17 years, ever since she was a first-year student at Chicago's renowned comedy club Second City, and he was one of the troupe's hot shots.

Since then, Fey's become a hot-shot herself. She spent nine seasons as a featured performer and head writer on Saturday Night Live before creating and starring in 30 Rock, which, along with Carell's The Office, is the linchpin of NBC's Thursday night comedy line-up.

In Date Night, which is directed by Night at the Museum helmer (and Canadian) Shawn Levy, Fey and Carell play a New Jersey couple who decide to enliven their stale marriage with a romantic evening out at a fancy New York restaurant. But, after being mistaken for a pair of thieves (James Franco, Mila Kunis), they're forced on a laugh-filled journey through Manhattan's dark side. Think North By Northwest meets The Out-of-Towners.

Over the course of the evening, the couple encounters corrupt cops (Common and Jimmi Simpson), a mob boss (Liotta) and a weapons expert (Mark Wahlberg) with a habit of wearing nothing but silk pyjama bottoms.

“Mark was shirtless for three or four days,” Fey says with a laugh during an interview with a select group of journalists. “I had friends texting me, ‘Can I get on the (set) and visit you today?' “

When Fey, 40, and Carell, 47, were initially approached about doing the movie together, they wasted no time getting on the phone and picking each other's brains.

“Tina said the funniest thing," recalls Carell. “She said, 'Wouldn't it be fun to just be hanging off a car bombing through New York City?' I said, 'Yeah. I'm in. That sounds great.’ ”

Adds Fey, “I always really wanted to do something with Steve, and the idea that it was about a married couple, who were grown people, appealed to me because I thought, 'Yeah, that's what we are in real life.' I can relate to that.

“At a certain point, you can't be making a movie about planning your wedding because you're getting up there. I felt like this was a movie that if my husband and I ever got out, we'd actually pay to see."

In the last decade, Fey has scripted Mean Girls, cameoed in The Invention of Lying with Ricky Gervais, and starred alongside Amy Poehler in Baby Mama but her film career isn't nearly as extensive as Carell’s, who has enjoyed major hits with The 40 Year Old Virgin, and Little Miss Sunshine, and also had high-profile releases like Horton Hears a Who and Get Smart.

So, did Carell give Fey any advice on the art of being a big-time movie star?

“Well, first of all, I taught her to disregard all other people," he teases. “Tina has no attitude and there's no pretense about her, so I schooled her in pretense.”

Says Fey, “When I first met Steve, he threw a phone at me. He threw a large land line phone at me. I thought, 'Alright, we're in the movie business now.' No, c'mon, I still feel like (being an actor) is a very long, sustaining prank that I'm playing on the American people.”

Over the course of the movie, Fey loses one article of clothing after another as dashes around the Big Apple. First goes her purse and then her coat. Soon, she's jogging through Manhattan in nothing but a sleeveless blue dress.

“Yes, it was just me and my arms and the night,” laughs the actress, a native of Upper Darby, Pa. “My bare arms! I was always trying to hide my arms behind a door jamb. The only thing that they didn't take from me were my high heels.”

One of the movie's most outrageous scenes involves Fey and Carell performing a wild routine at a strip club. Fey has a close encounter with a stripper pole but Carell's encounter is even closer — and funnier.

"It was a sequence that I was kind of nervous going into because I thought, 'Oh, boy. What's this going to be,' " admits Fey. “But I knew that I could count on Steve to deliver throughout. And, actually, one of my favourite things in the movie is Steve licking the pole and immediately becoming nauseous.”

That bit, which was adlibbed on the spot by Carell, is one of a series of impromptu moments that the actors concocted for the movie.

"We'd always do the script as written because it was very strong and the script didn't need to be changed," says Carell. "But then once we had it to Shawn's satisfaction, we'd open it up and play around."

Even if Date Night smashes box-office records, Fey has no plans to leave 30 Rock behind. “I might feel constant fatigue but I think … we'll keep going until we can't anymore,” she says of the Emmy-winning series. "I won't know (it's time to qui) until I'm there."

As for more movies, Fey says that, "one every two years is about all I can handle because being the creator of 30 Rock means that my year at 30 Rock starts in the middle of June and goes back around again until March."

Carell won't be pink-slipping The Office any time soon but, he jokes, "I'm hoping to move towards voicing videogames. No, honesty, I'm always just happy to be employed.".

Both Fey and Carell are married with kids. Fey and 30 Rock composer Jeff Raymond are the parents of a four-year-old daughter named Alice. Carell and his wife Nancy have two children, Elisabeth, 9, and John, 5.

So, do Fey and Carell do date nights with their respective spouses?

"We don't have a date night, formally," says Fey. "Maybe once a month, my husband and I get out and it's a massive effort just to get a babysitter. If we get more than ten blocks from our house, it's a miracle and I'm already exhausted."

Says Carell, “Me and my wife are always happy when we get invited to an awards show because that essentially is it for us. That's our excuse to get dressed up and go out somewhere. Even on those nights, we're generally back by about ten. As most people with kids know, you pay for it if you go out late and whoop it up because the kids are up at 5:30 the next day and then so are you.

"Generally our best date nights are very, very simple and we spend a good deal of time during them talking about our children anyway. So, basically, there is no escape."

Jill Scott : The “Why Did I Get Married Too” Interview

Source: Kam Williams

Jill Scott was born on April 4, 1972 in The City of Brotherly Love where she was raised by her mother, Joyce, and her maternal grandmother. A naturally-gifted child, Jill was speaking at 8 months and learned to read by the age of 4. She credits her mother for broadening her horizons by taking her to see plays and to museums during her childhood.

After graduating from the Philadelphia High School for Girls, Jill attended Temple University , working two jobs to put herself through college. She majored in English and planned to become a teacher, but dropped out of school after becoming disillusioned with the profession while spending time in the classroom as an assistant.

She started out in showbiz doing poetry readings which is how she was discovered by drummer QuestLove of The Roots in 1999. He invited Jill to join the band in the studio where she collaborated with the group on writing their Grammy-winning hit, “You Got Me.” This led to her being signed by the Hidden Beach label to record her debut album, “Who Is Jill Scott?” This launched Jill’s phenomenally-successful musical career which has netted the sultry singer 3 Grammys thus far.

The talented triple threat has also published a book of poetry and made a phenomenal foray into acting via both the big and small screens. On TV, she’s handled the lead role of Mama. Precious Ramotswe on the Emmy-nominated, Botswana-based, HBO series “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.” Meanwhile, she’s received additional critical acclaim for her work in such movies as Hounddog and Why Did I Get Married?      

Here, she talks about returning to reprise the role of Sheila in the sequel to the latter, the latest modern morality play from Tyler Perry.

Kam Williams: Hi Jill, thanks so much for the time.  

Jill Scott: My pleasure, thank you.

KW: Congrats on doing a great job in this sequel which I felt improved on the original.

JS: Thank you, I’m really excited about it.

KW: How was it being reunited with everybody?

JS: It was so nice. It really was. It’s just a pleasure to be around people that you like, and that you have a good understanding of. We clicked in the first film, and never really separated after we walked away from each other. We still called each other. “How’re you doing?” “How ya’ been?” “How’s the kids?” “How’s the wife?” And then, here it is a couple of years later, we’re doing another film, and everybody just sank right back into character.   

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman says she just loves your acting, and was wondering whether there are any plans to resume shooting “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.”

JS: I certainly hope so. We’ve been talking to HBO about resuming. The reason why we didn’t continue shooting was because I was pregnant and Mama. Ramotswe was not pregnant! [Chuckles] So, I had to wait until I after had my child, and then once I did, I felt he was too young to travel on a plane for 16 hours. So, that was one of the reasons why we went on hiatus. At this point, we’re looking at scripts, and trying to see how to continue the show because the feedback and excitement has been exceptional.

KW: Bernadette also says she thought your accent on the show was incredible, and almost did not believe it was you speaking. She wants to know how you perfected it.

JS: What’s funny is that I spent about a month and a half learning the wrong accent. I didn’t know it was wrong until after I arrived in Botswana . The Motswana people said, “What are you talking about? That is not a Botswana accent. You sound like you’re from Zimbabwe.” And they are very particular, if you are going to represent their culture. Their dialect is specific, so I had to unlearn everything I had learned, and then learn again.

KW: Why do you refer to the people of Botswana as the Motswana?

JS: You live in Botswana , you speak Setswana, and you are Motswana.

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls would like to know, how has motherhood changed your views on life and career?

JS: Well, I am making an effort to truly live. I don’t mean to imply by that that I haven’t been alive before but, with my son being here and such a powerful force in my life, he’s given me a freedom to be more. I think that sometimes we can get stuck, and just the fact that he’s here says so much to me about my own existence. I didn’t think I’d be able to have children, and this level of blessing is something I can’t even put my finger on. I don’t even know where to begin to describe the emotion. I feel like I have a lava stick in my spine that’s propelling me forward to do larger things like going on tour with Maxwell, doing stadiums, and leaving my old record label to look for a new one that can support my new effort 100%. I appreciate my old label very much, but it’s time to move forward. So, my son has given me the courage to get out of any box that I’ve been in.

KW: Larry Greenberg thinks your music is beautiful and as smooth as silk. He says, “Philly has produced more than its share of stunningly-talented artists. Do you think that growing up in Philadelphia has tempered your work?” 
JS: Yes, this might sound terrible, but there has been segregation in Philadelphia for many years. The Italians live around Italians. The Greeks live around Greeks. Spanish people live around Spanish people, particularly Puerto Rican. And black people live around black people. That makes us culturally thick, because if you want to hear real Puerto Rican music, you go to Little Puerto Rico. If you want to eat real Italian food, you go to Little Italy. Everybody’s welcome in any neighbourhood in Philadelphia .

KW: It isn’t like Boston where a black person couldn’t even walk through an Irish or Italian neighbourhood when I lived there.  

JS: Well, in Philadelphia , you are welcome, and that’s The City of Brotherly Love. I think that makes us culturally thick and sound, so you can experience all kinds of cultural authenticity.

KW: Laz Lyles says she hopes you plan to put out more poetry books. She has the first one and loves it. She wants to know, what's the way you’ve most changed, creatively since your first album?

JS: I think I’ve changed more as a person and, as I change as a person, there is new added creativity. I’ve seen more… I’ve met more people, done more things with dogs, and walked on more beaches since the beginning. The more I see, the more I wanna do; and the more I do, the more I wanna see.

KW: Laz also wanted to wish a happy birthday to you and your son, Jett. I know yours was April 4th. Happy Birthday! When’s his?

JS: Thank you. His is the 20th.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

JS: Is there any question no one ever asks, that I wish someone would? Wow! If there is, I don’t know what it is.

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

JS: All the time.

KW: The Zane question: Do you have any regrets?

JS: Yes.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

JS: All the time.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

JS: A woman.

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

JS: I read three at a time. One of the one’s I’m reading right now is an autobiography, “The Secret Life of Salvador Dali.”

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1432596640?ie=UTF8&tag=thslfofire-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1432596640

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 

JS: It was something really cool by an artist from DC. I can’t remember his name.

KW: Was it Wale?

JS: Not Wale, his counterpart. A friend of mine played me his album in the car, and I found it really interesting. 

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

JS: Wow, that’s another good one. Let me think… It was playing with my dog, Benji. He was my best friend.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

JS: You ask good questions! I like that. I would want a clean planet.

KW: Thanks again, Jill, for this opportunity to talk with you, and best of luck with everything.

JS: Thank you so much for the cool interview. Be well.

 

To see a trailer for Why Did I Get Married Too, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSONVGYiIHo

Hollywood Owes A Debt To 'Grandfather Of Special Effects'

Source: www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard

(April 04, 2010) Clash of the Titans is in theatres this weekend, bringing ancient Greek mythology to the screen enrobed in all manner of 21st-century computer-aided film trickery.

But a look back to the special effects master, whose last film was 1981's Clash of the Titans, shows a filmmaker far ahead of his time. No wonder fans call American
Ray Harryhausen “the grandfather of special effects” and filmmakers from Tim Burton to John Landis credit him as the inspiration that guided them to moviemaking.

“No one anticipated those things,” said Harryhausen, 89, from his London home. “I just started doing them just for the sake of doing them. I loved doing them.”

Harryhausen was the visionary force who first figured out a way to insert scenes of lifelike models he painstakingly shot using stop-motion photography into movies with human actors. His creatures were able to tower over victims or interact with them as if they were real. It enabled a hero to engage in a thrilling sword fight with seven skeletons in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), allowed cowboys on horseback to rope a massive dinosaur in The Valley of Gwangi (1969) and made audiences weep for the mistreated gigantic gorilla in Mighty Joe Young (1949).

“His stuff is just amazing, even today,” says York University film professor Seth Feldman. “The idea of doing all this by hand and figuring out how to put it in with live actors, I think he was a genius for being able to envision this.”

Feldman is especially in awe of the fact Harryhausen did his work alone. “With special effects films today, the credits go on for 10 minutes.”

Decades ago, Harryhausen forged a new path. Today, moviegoers expect to see these types of visual feats, brought to new heights with Avatar's realistic Na'vi. Harryhausen hasn't seen James Cameron's blockbuster, but has experienced his share of CGI films.“I consider CGI a wonderful tool,” said Harryhausen, albeit a tool he never used. “But it's not a be all and end all. It doesn't solve all the problems. They think they can create any kind of creature, but it doesn't mean all of them are believable.”

I'd been cautioned that Harryhausen, who wasn't involved with the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans, wouldn't comment on the new movie, but he brings up the subject first.

“It's somebody else's version of Greek mythology, somebody else's concept,” Harryhausen says cheerfully. “We made Clash starting in the late '70s and that was our version. We wanted to keep its classic tradition. Who could play Zeus besides Sir Laurence Olivier?”

Harryhausen bridged the gap between early clunky tabletop special effects and today's techno-wizardry, thanks to his love of dinosaurs and his devotion to getting his animals to move as realistically as possible. “I used to haunt the zoos and the Long Beach aquarium,” he said.

Early dinosaur-vs.-humans movies, like Hal Roach's 1940 groundbreaker One Million B.C., relied on “lizards and baby crocodiles with a rubber fin stuck on its back,” Harryhausen laughed. He remade the movie as One Million Years B.C. in 1966 for Britain's Hammer Film Productions, with dinosaurs that were realistic for the time, although Raquel Welch in her sexy fur bikini drew the most attention.

“We wanted to show the dinosaurs out in the open, as they were,” said Harryhausen. “We tried to keep it down to one or two. Now CGI seems to be able to do anything — herds of dinosaurs. Imagine animating a herd. I'd still be at it!”

It took weeks to shoot scenes, moving each model a fraction, shooting a frame, then moving it again. For the skeleton sword fight scene in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Harryhausen said he was only able to shoot seven frames a day and needed four months to complete less than five minutes of footage.

His creatures evolved as he shot them, Harryhausen said. A monster would lose a set of horns or become a Cyclops. He was very proud of his Medusa in Clash of the Titans.

“When I was doing Medusa, I did a lot of research of the classic concepts of her,” he explained. “Most were just pretty women with snakes for hair. I made her lower body a snake.”

The frightening monster Medusa pulls herself along by her arms — Harryhausen was inspired by a character in the 1932 movie Freaks — her tail undulating behind her. The tail detail was deliberate, the filmmaker said with a chuckle.

“Confidentially, that's what I tried to do so the people don't concentrate too much on the other things that didn't look right.”

Harryhausen said he always enjoyed the challenge of creating complicated creatures, like the seven-headed Hydra in Jason and the Argonauts (1963). “It was interesting. I had a problem with seven heads going forward and back and if I dared answer the telephone, I would forget what head was going forward and which one was going back!”

Was the Hydra his favourite creature?

“I can't have a favourite,” he said with a chuckle. “The others get jealous.”

FILM TIDBITS

Maya Rudolph Headed Down the Aisle in New Film

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 5, 2010) Due in theaters May 12, 2011, the Universal Pictures project centers on two women battling to plan their friend’s wedding party.
Rudolph will play the bride Lillian to Kristen Wiig’s bridesmaid Annie, reports Production Weekly. Paul Feig (TV’ s “Arrested Development,” “Nurse Jackie”) directs from a script by Wiig and Annie Mumolo. Former “Saturday Night Live” members Rudolph and Wigg also co-star in the upcoming comedy “MacGruber” opening next month.

Video: New Trailer: ‘The Lottery Ticket’ Starring Bow Wow

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Derrik J. Lang, AP Entertainment Writer

(April 4, 2010) *It looks like Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Ice Cube and the rest of the cast of “The Lottery Ticket,” opening this Summer from Warner Bros., is on to something and based on the trailer, it looks like it’s a pretty funny flick. Here’s a summary of the movie: Kevin Carson (Bow Wow), a young man living in the projects, wins $370 million in a nationwide lottery. When his opportunistic neighbours discover he has the winning ticket in his possession, Kevin must survive their greedy and sometimes even threatening actions over a three-day holiday weekend before he can claim his prize. Check it out:

::TV NEWS::

VH1 Changing Tone With Black Reality Shows

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Derrik J. Lang, AP Entertainment Writer

(April 06, 2010) LOS ANGELES – On her new VH1 reality dating show, Rozonda Thomas — better known as Chilli from the groundbreaking hip-hop group TLC — doesn't lounge in bubble baths or hand out fake bling to her suitors. Instead, the 39-year-old singer and mother meets bachelors at black-tie affairs and confers with a dating expert, as well as her 12-year-old son.

The
cable network synonymous with "Flavor of Love" and its sleazy spin-offs is trading trampiness for fabulousness with a new slate of series starring seemingly well-adjusted rich and famous black Americans. VH1 executive vice president Jeff Olde admits that the shift from oh-no-they-didn't fare to more mature material is totally intentional.

"We constantly have to evolve and tell our audience different stories," he says. "I love that we've been able to get more diverse with our audience by — in large part — attracting African-American women to the network. We got them in the door with some shows, and now I'm excited about where we're going and how we're telling them different kinds of stories."

With an April 11 debut, "
What Chilli Wants" will be partnered on Sundays with "Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business," focusing on sibling R&B singers Ray J and Brandy Norwood as they attempt to relaunch their music careers, and "Basketball Wives," starring Shaquille O'Neal's ex-wife, Shaunie O'Neal, and five other women with romantic links to basketball players.

For the notoriously trashy VH1, it's not reality as usual. While cat fights will flare up with the "Basketball Wives" and Chilli promises a tiff with her sassy matchmaker on "What Chilli Wants," these new shows certainly aren't selling buzzworthy moments akin to "Flavor of Love" contestants spiting on each other or suddenly defecating on the floor.

"I watched 'Flavor of Love' myself," attests Chilli. "It was definitely one of the shows I thought was interesting, but it made sense for Flav to do it just that way. For me, I wanted to do my show in a way that I would be comfortable with, and I was very happy that VH1 was on the same page with me. They did have a formula that has been working for them."

Olde dismisses any past criticisms of "Flavor of Love" and its offspring, mostly produced by 51 Minds Entertainment, by calling the franchise ignited by black rapper
Flavor Flav and his multiracial harem "big fun romantic comedies." (Olde confirms that "I Love Money 3," featuring murder suspect and suicide victim Ryan Jenkins, as well as the Jenkins-free "I Love Money 4" won't air.)

Instead of lewd antics from "Flavor of Love" standout Tiffany "
New York" Pollard or that toxic spill of "Charm School" women, the network is now interested in transformative experiences from celebrities, such as third season "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino or rapper Sandy "Pepa" Denton from Salt-N-Pepa. The evolution is already proving successful.

Premieres earlier this year of "Fantasia for Real" and "
Let's Talk About Pep" topped that same week's third season debut of "Celebrity Rehab" and episodes of the seedy dating shows "For the Love of Ray J" and "Frank the Entertainer in a Basement Affair," which starred "I Love New York" reject Frank Maresca searching for love from his parent's basement.

"The new VH1 shows offer a different take on the black reality TV star," says Imani Perry, a professor at Princeton University's Center for
African American Studies. "These are images of wealthy black families. These shows may potentially be less stereotypic because they present a different, higher status black image."

Bill Graff, an analyst for cable media analysis firm CableU, says the strategy isn't a surefire winner. While the new shows are targeted to an underserved audience, they require more of an investment from viewers, especially if they don't care about the personal lives of such B-list celebrities as Chilli and Brandy, or any of those "
Basketball Wives."

"It's a little bit more of a leap for VH1 viewers than 'Flavor of Love,' 'Rock of Love' and the other shows," says Graff. "Anyone who watches VH1 definitely knows and is entertained by
Flavor Flav and New York. Anyone who is familiar with hip-hop from the past 25 years knows Pepa from Salt-N-Pepa, but they may not necessarily care about her love life."

It's not as if VH1 is becoming BET, whose own affluent African-American docu-soap "Baldwin Hills" has been around for three seasons. The majority of VH1 series, such as "Celebrity Fit Club," "Sober House" and "
Tough Love Couples," feature multiracial casts, as do mainstream network reality shows such as "The Amazing Race," "Survivor" and "American Idol." However, the new trio of shows with predominantly black stars will be scheduled together on Sundays.

"It's strange, because it almost feels like a different type of segregation," says actor-comedian
Victor Varnado, who directed and starred with other black comedians in "The Awkward Comedy Show," Comedy Central's offbeat comedy special debuting April 9. "It's like this is where the black people can watch their black programming on this night."

VH1's Olde, however, notes that while the network's black-centric shows are most popular with African-American women, they attract viewers of all ethnicities and backgrounds. The popularity of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" proved that a reality show featuring a mostly black cast can cross ethnic lines and become a cultural phenomenon.

That doesn't mean this glitzy new breed is free of the stereotypes that have long plagued cable reality TV shows. Critics point to the continued inclusion of such black stereotypes as the gold-digging woman, the hypersexual and irresponsible man, and cast members prone to raging behaviour and violence as a way to gratify viewers' voyeuristic desires.

"The choices that are made by producers, editors and performers in unscripted television to satisfy these audience desires are deliberate," says Princeton University's Perry. "We think we are getting something real, but what we are getting is an effort to satisfy our curiosity and feed our assumptions."

___

On the Net:

"
Basketball Wives": http://www.vh1.com/shows/basketball_wives/series.jhtml

"What Chilli Wants": http://www.vh1.com/shows/what_chilli_wants/series.jhtml

"Brandy and
Ray J: A Family Business": http://www.vh1.com/shows/a_family_business/series.jhtml

Dynasty Star John Forsythe, 92, Remembered As Gentleman

Source: www.thestar.com - Bob Thomas

(April 03, 2010) LOS ANGELES–John Forsythe, the handsome, smooth-voiced actor who made his fortune as the scheming oil tycoon in TV's Dynasty and the voice of the leader of Charlie's Angels, has died after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 92.

Forsythe died late Thursday at his home in Santa Ynez from complications of pneumonia, publicist Harlan Boll said Friday.

"He died as he lived his life, with dignity and grace," daughter Brooke Forsythe said.

Despite distinguished work in theatre and films, Forsythe's greatest fame came from his role as Blake Carrington in producer Aaron Spelling's 1981-89 prime time soap opera, Dynasty.

Forsythe lent dignity to the tale of murder, deceit and adultery that brought Carrington into conflict with his vengeful former wife, Alexis Colby, played by Joan Collins.

"He was one of the last of the true gentlemen of the acting profession," Collins said in a statement. "I enjoyed our nine years of feuding, fussing and fighting as the Carringtons."

In another Spelling hit, he voiced Charlie, the boss who telephoned assignments to his beautiful detectives, including Farrah Fawcett, in Charlie's Angels (1976-81).

"He always laughed about having to take a back seat to Farrah's hair," Spelling's widow, Candy, said in a statement.

With self-effacing humour, he considered himself "a vastly usable, not wildly talented actor."

In a 1981 interview, he said: "I figure there are a few actors like Marlon Brando, George C. Scott and Laurence Olivier who have been touched by the hand of God. I'm in the next bunch."

With his full head of silver hair, tanned face and soothing voice, Forsythe as Carrington attracted millions of female TV viewers.

During World War II, he was cast in Moss Hart's Air Force show, Winged Victory. After the war, he helped found the Actors Studio. Forsythe began appearing in TV plays as early as 1947 and continued his Broadway career. A role in Arthur Miller's All My Sons led to the huge task of replacing Henry Fonda in Mister Roberts.

Making a role in Teahouse of the August Moon his own, he brought to life a naive Army officer in occupied Okinawa. A huge success, the play won the Pulitzer Prize. "It gave me a sense of worth as an actor."

His best Hollywood break came in 1955 when he starred in Alfred Hitchcock's one attempt at whimsy, The Trouble with Harry, about a corpse that keeps turning up in a New England town.

On TV, in the comedy Bachelor Father (1957-62), he played a Hollywood lawyer caring for his teenage niece, on CBS, NBC and ABC.

Norman Jewison, directing And Justice for All (1979), cast him as a judge with a kinky sex life. Forsythe credited that role for his becoming Dynasty's Carrington.

Born John Lincoln Freund Jan. 29, 1918, in Penn's Grove, N.J., Forsythe launched his bid to be an actor against his dad's wishes. Married twice, he's the father of three. No public service is planned.

End Of Lost Leaves Fans Feeling ... Relieved

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Wilson, The Associated Press

(April 05, 2010) The beleaguered island survivors of TV’s Lost will find resolution — one way or another — by the end of this season. But what about the fans?

The show about castaways who crash-landed on a mysterious island has been hailed as a new benchmark in serial drama, and its creators have been lauded for their decision to pull the plug with the finale on May 23 after six seasons before staleness set in. But being left behind are the legions of fans who dissect the show’s every plot twist online and off — lostpedia.wikia.com and thefuselage.com are among the more popular Web destinations — in numbers unlike any other television show. What will become of them, the new castaways left to wander around with no smoke monster or Man in Black (or are they the same thing?) to look forward to on Tuesday nights?

“I get this question a lot,” said Jeff Jensen, an Entertainment Weekly writer who cranks out two multi-thousand-word columns and a video about Lost every week. “Apparently no one had paid attention to anything I had written before now.”

“When it’s over, it’ll be like there’s a short-term joy,” he added. “‘Okay, that’s the story, that’s over.’ I’ll never have to pull all-nighters writing about this show again.”

For others, the end of the road is still a long way off.

“How is it any different than reading a book?” said Nikki Stafford, author of a series of Finding Lost guidebooks. “Once you get to the end of a Dickens book, can you not discuss it? When it ends, you can really start to analyze the show going back to the beginning.”

Then there’s “The Transmission,” which holds a place among many fans as the definitive weekly podcast about Lost.

At hawaiiup.com/lost, the show was created in 2005 by Ryan Ozawa, 35, and his wife, Jen, 37. It is not unusual for their podcast to reap hundreds of comments in a very short time, Ryan said, and their voice mail gets 30 or 40 calls a week.

“We’re spending a lot more time together than before the podcast,” Ryan said in a joint telephone interview with his wife. “In terms of what it’s done for us, I love it. We’re nerdy together, so that’s a good thing.”

Flash ahead to May 23, the finale: “We’re probably going to cry all the way through it because it is such a central part of our lives,” Ryan said.

But Jen seemed quite ready to greet the morning sun on May 24. “To be completely honest, it will be sort of a relief in a way,” she said. “We can start doing other stuff.”

TV TIDBITS

ABC Family Has ‘Huge’ Plans for Gina Torres

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 2, 2010)  “Huge,” an hour long series set at a weight-loss camp for teens, follows the lives of both the campers and the staff, as they look beneath the surface to discover their true selves and the truth about each other. Torres will take on the role of Dr. Dorothy Rand. “Huge” is based on a book by Sasha Paley, and is being developed by Winnie Holzman, who wrote the stage adaption of “Wicked,” and her daughter Savannah Dooley.

Henson, Harper, Hughley in TV Guide’s ‘Curb’ Panel

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 07, 2010) *Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson, “CSI: New York” star Hill Harper and comedian D.L. Hughley have been recruited by the TV Guide Channel for “Curb: The Discussion,” a series of round-table conversations to immediately follow episodes of Curb when it makes its syndication debut on the network Wednesday, June 2 (10/9c), Henson will join Jerry Seinfeld and “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm on the show’s first panel. Additional panellists will include actor and producer Seth Green, heavy metal singer and film director Rob Zombie, comedienne and television writer Merrill Markoe, physician and television personality Dr. Drew Pinsky, and radio and television personality Adam Corolla. “Curb: The Discussion” is co-produced by “Curb” creator and star Larry David and hosted by comedienne and “Curb” regular Susie Essman. “With Susie Essman hosting and moderating ‘Curb: The Discussion,’ the panels will no doubt result in hilarious, off-the-cuff television,” said Diane Robina, Executive Vice President, Programming & Marketing for TV Guide Network. “And offering these original and engaging discussions will bring even more viewers to discover and rediscover Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Other panellists will include actor Rex Lee, musician Dave Navarro, Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger, and comedians Jeff Ross and Patton Oswalt, among others. Media pundits and social figures will include “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, New York Times ethicist Randy Cohen, and clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Stan Katz, among others.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Sony Centre : Grand Dame Readying For Her Return

Source: www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(April 06, 2010) Think of the Sony Centre as a grand dame of a certain vintage whose old-fashioned glamour has gradually faded over the years, but who is now behind closed doors getting a spectacular makeover and preparing for a sensational return to high society.

“Everything is being lovingly restored to the way it used to be,” explains Dan Brambilla, CEO of the showplace famously designed by architect Peter Dickinson half a century ago. “We’re making it a beautiful old building again, but combined with a new dimension for rebirth in the 21st century.”

The remake is a matter of tender and expert tweaking of countless details of décor, bring back the splendour of marble, brass and rich wood finishes that once made this place, now owned by the city, shimmer and glitter.

Brambilla sees it as a miracle on Front St., made possible by $28 million from his development partner, Castlepoint Realty Partners, in exchange for the rights to build a condo tower designed by Daniel Libeskind on the southwest piece of the arts centre’s land, at Yonge and the Esplanade.

That tower is three years away from completion, but the restoration of the original theatre — which opened as the O’Keefe Centre in 1960, and was known in recent times as the Hummingbird Centre — will be done by mid-August. The official reopening is set for Oct. 1, precisely 50 years from the date curtain first rose on the pre-Broadway tryout of Camelot.

“The job sounds complicated, but it really isn’t,” explained heritage consultant Michael McClelland of E.R.A. Architects during a recent tour of the construction site, including a seat-less auditorium full of scaffolding. “That’s because the bones were so great.”

Influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and Asian architecture, Dickinson liked to stress earthy colours and textures. He designed this building as a series of geometric figures all set on similar angles. Every detail had to be exquisite, from the colour tones of the marble in the lobby to the warmth of the cherry-wood panels, to the sheer splendour of the brass doors.

It’s just a matter of uncovering and refurbishing the treasures that were always there but have faded away or been concealed through a series of cumulatively unfortunate interventions over many years.

In recent times, Brambilla admits, the high-quality finishes in the lobby and the auditorium were hard to discern. “That led to a level of disappointment for our patrons, and perhaps a feeling that something about this old building wasn’t clicking.”

But he promises that when patrons take their seats at the reborn Sony Centre next fall, they will be amazed and overwhelmed by the wow factor.

A few highlights:

• Lobby colours, including ceiling tile, will enhance the once-hidden beauty of the marble.

•  New lighting underneath will enhance rare cantilevered steel stairs, clad with granite, to make them look as if they are floating.

• Within the auditorium, all seats are being replaced, and 1,700 wood panels, all original, are being stripped and restored.

• Thousands of rosewood pieces in the undulating wall across the back (which bounces sound, improving the acoustics) are being restored.

• All 189 brass doors (which would cost $30,000 each today) are being restored.

• Backstage: Old space was demolished and temporary backstage facilities set up on the east side until tower is finished. All mechanical and electric systems are being moved from the west side of the building to the east side.

• Ceilings were repainted.

• Limestone and granite from demolished sections are being saved in case they are needed as replacements.

According to Brambilla, this project is all about details. “That meant finding the right trades people,” he says. One of them is a 70-year-old Russian wood craftsman who makes violins and humidors for celebrity clients. Brass work is being handled mostly by Russian Iranians who do high-tech work for Tiffany’s.

“When you walk through here, you can hear guys cursing in many different languages,” Brambilla boasts.

Todd Waite : Canadian Actor Right At Home In Houston

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(April 05, 2010) HOUSTON—How do you go from the barricades of Paris to deep in the heart of Texas?

Ask
Todd Waite.

If you recall the original Toronto production of Les Misérables back in 1989, he was the lanky chap waving the tri-colour banner as the doomed revolutionary, Enjolras.

Or if you were a regular at the Shaw Festival during the 1990s, you probably remember him in such landmark shows as Cavalcade, Easy Virtue and A Foggy Day.

But then, in 2000, just like a character on a TV crime series, the British Columbia-born actor vanished, never to be seen in Canada again.

Relax. He may have left the True North strong and free for his romantic partner (it didn’t work, alas), but he’s been gainfully employed for the past decade in the United States, including an 18-month stint as the resident director of Cirque du Soleil’s O in Las Vegas.

But most of his time has been happily spent in Houston, where he’s concluding his ninth season as a member of the Alley Theatre’s resident company.

Founded in 1947, the Alley is one of the oldest and most prestigious regional theatres in North America. It’s also one of a handful of places that can offer an actor full-time employment, like Waite has enjoyed for the past decade.

“The work is wonderful enough,” says the 50-year-old Waite, sipping at a latte on a sunny Sunday morning, “but it’s this city which really keeps me here.”

And it’s easy to see what he means. Banish any clichéd preconceptions about Texas. This is a smart, sophisticated city with an abundance of museums (18 in a tightly packed district), theatres galore, opera, symphony and a ballet to envy.

Rice University makes it possible for its students to attend almost all cultural events for $10 and that, along with a dedicated outreach program from the organizations, “means that we have an enlightened audience that spreads across all age ranges and that can’t be beat,” enthuses Waite.

The Alley’s artistic director, Gregory Boyd, is another reason the theatre does so well. “He makes sure that everyone gets a stimulating and varied experience from each season and that means the audience as well as the actors and staff,” says Waite.

A quick look at the roles Waite has played proves him right. He tackled the leading role of Martin in the regional theatre premiere of Edward Albee’s controversial The Goat, a production which the N.Y. Times hailed as “one of the 10 best of 2003.” And in 2009, he was one of 10 performers honoured with the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship as “A master actor of the American Stage.”

Each Christmas, while the larger theatre puts on A Christmas Carol, Waite commands the smaller space on his own in David Sedaris’s edgy The Santaland Diaries.

He’s alternated leading roles between Tom Stoppard’s Rock ’n’ Roll and Sherlock Holmes and there’s a fair bit of Shakespeare and Shaw on his resumé here as well.

“Great parts, great people and a great city. Of course I love it here.”

But would he ever come home to Canada?

“That’s a tough question,” he says after a long pause. “This is my home now, but I always love to come back for a visit. Or the right job.” He grins. “There are non-stop flights between Houston and Toronto, now, you know.”

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

EA Takes Wraps Off Next Medal Of Honor

Source: www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman

(April 02, 2010) With a name like Medal of Honor— that is, not followed by a sequel number or subtitle — you’d think Electronic Arts is going back to its roots in its 10-year-old World War II military shooter series.

Instead, EA’s upcoming first-person war game is a refresh of the franchise, as it now concentrates on contemporary battles in Afghanistan rather than storming the beaches of Normandy in the ’40s.

I recently had a guided walk-through of the game at a media event in New York City.

Due out this fall, the first Medal of Honor game in three years will introduce the Tier 1 Operator, a little-known outfit of the National Command Authority, which takes on extremely daring missions. For authenticity’s sake, the development team at EA Los Angeles studios have been working closely with real Tier 1 Operators from the U.S. Special Operations Community, so while the characters and missions are fictional, they’re “inspired” by real people and events. (EA calls the game “historical fiction.”)

After we watched the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czDu97cMSIYgripping trailer, which you can now catch on YouTube, a developer took us through a mountain-heavy level in the franchise’s first “Mature”-rated title. The mission focused on hunting Al Qaeda in the Shahi-Kot Valley located in Afghanistan’s Paktia province. Many of the levels were created with the aid of hundreds of photos taken by the U.S. Army, says EA.

From a first-person perspective, the goal was to follow a patrol through a winding path, staying away from a searchlight, stealthily ambushing a search party, taking out Al Qaeda sentries and then attacking a camp of unsuspecting enemy soldiers while donning night-vision goggles.

Staying true to Medal of Honor’s cinematic flare, the firefight that ensued at the camp was quite spectacular: gun battles by using the terrain as cover (and seeing bodies roll down mountains), marking targets on the ground for the hovering AC-130 gunship to blow up (after you’ve disabled the anti-aircraft gun) and kicking a bomb-strapped enemy away from you before he explodes (not unlike a Hollywood movie).

As with its predecessors, vehicles can be controlled in Medal of Honor. The HUD, however, has undergone a makeover, as all you’ll see is a compass that shows a waypoint and a small number in a bottom corner of the screen to indicate how much ammo you have left for that particular weapon.

The PlayStation 3 demo we saw was roughly 60 per cent complete, says EA, and looked quite good at this pre-alpha stage. We also caught a little audio gem when a soldier’s cellphone rang: The ringtone was the theme song to the first Medal of Honor.

While EALA will handle the single-player campaign, DICE (Battlefield) is developing the multiplayer modes, but EA says it’s too early to discuss the online play at this time.

The game will be available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC simultaneously this fall.

::OTHER NEWS::

Scotiabank Backs Toronto’s Contact Photo Festival

Source: www.globeandmail.com - James Adams

(April 01, 2010) Already one of the biggest corporate sponsors of Canadian culture, Scotiabank has announced that, effective this year, it’s going to be the title sponsor of Toronto’s popular Contact Photography Festival.

At a media conference Wednesday, the bank also announced the creation of the Scotiabank Photography Award – at $50,000, “the largest award dedicated to recognizing a Canadian contemporary artist working in photography.” An annual prize, it will launch this September, with the first recipient named by a three-person jury in 2011

Scotiabank, whose title sponsorships include the national Scotiabank Giller Prize and Toronto’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, has been a Contact partner since 2006, bankrolling various exhibitions and, in 2008, establishing a scholarship program. In its titular capacity, it’s planning to spend more than $150,000 each year, with more to come, Jane Nokes, the bank’s director of corporate archives and fine art, said in an interview. “What we’re looking to do is what Contact wants to do, enhance it ... build the brand without running over the content.”

A not-for-profit organization, Contact was started in 1997 by a group of Toronto art dealers and photographers to exhibit and celebrate photos and photo-based art by local, Canadian and international artists in a variety of settings -- galleries, restaurants, coffee houses, stores, bus shelters, garages, airports and train stations. It’s since grown into what Nokes calls “the world’s largest photography festival and one of the best of the world’s photography festivals.” Its 14th edition begins May 1. The theme of this year’s month-long festival, pegged to the 30th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s death, is PNeervasive Influence, with several shows devoted to “the ways in which photography informs and transforms human behaviour.”

Celebrated photographer and Contact board member Edward Burtynsky said Scotiabank’s open-ended commitment “takes away the neurotic tension” over financing that Contact has faced through its history. In addition, he’s agreed to chair the first jury of Scotiabank’s photo award. Details have yet to be worked out, but besides the cash prize, the winner will be featured in a Contact show and have the opportunity to have his or her work published as a book by the German art publisher Steidl. The prize won’t go to an “emerging artist,” Burtynsky noted, but rather to an under-recognized Canadian with “a body of work that’s ready to go international.”

::DANCE NEWS::

‘I Read Movement Like Other People Read Words’

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

(April 06, 2010) Think of a stage festooned with giant peacock feathers. In fact, feathers attached to every possible part of dancer’s body like strange, constantly moving tentacles.

The flashy accessories are unique to
Wen Wei Wang’s Cock-pit, a dance show kicking off its Canadian tour in Toronto this Friday. What isn’t: pieces with tightly controlled movements that fashion ravishing images from the human body – which have made the 46-year-old one of the country’s most in-demand choreographers.

Wang describes his work as “dances of spice and sadness,” an unusual fusion influenced by his own East-meets-West background. Born in China, Wang studied dance at the Langzhou Arts School (similar to 70 others run by the country’s People’s Liberation Army) and later became a principal dancer with the Langzhou Regional Dance Company.

But, at 26, Wang was invited to Simon Fraser University’s Contemporary Arts Summer Institute. From there he has done stints with the Judith Marcuse Dance Company, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Ballet British Columbia. Seven years ago, he founded his own, very hot, company, Wen Wei Dance Society.

The Globe and Mail spoke to Wang about his journey from China to Canada, how his personal life informs his work and what’s up with all those feathers.

Did you display a talent for dance early on?

When I was 6, my parents took me and my two older sisters to see the revolutionary ballet The White Haired Girl, and I could repeat every dance step when I got home. After that, I created dances using chess pieces. My parents thought that dance was not a suitable career for their only son and tried to steer me into painting and the violin. When I was selected for dance school when I was 13, my parents gave in because artists are well treated by the People’s Liberation Army, not to mention that all the students’ parents get gifts every year. I was the school’s top student for the five years I was there.

Why did you want to leave China?

It wasn’t enough for me. At the PLA Academy, we saw tapes of George Balanchine, Martha Graham and Pina Bausch. Contemporary dance was exciting and I wanted to learn more about it. Grant Strate, whom I had met in Beijing, offered me a scholarship to Simon Fraser’s summer program. It was a big dangerous step, giving up my company position, being unemployed, waiting for my Canadian visa. ... I arrived in Canada with $200 and two suitcases.

Is there a Wen Wei style?

I bring something different to dance. It’s a multicultural fusion of East and West that mixes all kinds of techniques together, including the martial arts. It is movement that is both grounded and free, yet very physical. My dances are about life, but look like a dream. They go beyond reality. They make you think. The dancers need a strong presence to pull them off.

I have always found the visual component so important in your choreography.

I have a physical memory. For example, I remember every step I ever danced or created. I read movement like other people read words. I see dance language in a visual way – like a moving picture or sculpture in space. I create pictures into which the audience can read their own stories.

You’ve said jokingly that Cock-pit is for the boys.

Yes. It’s the other side of Unbound [another of Wang’s pieces], which is about the female experience. Cock-pit was inspired by being in an all-boys’ dormitory at dance school far away from home. The piece has four men and one woman. She is the ideal mother and the sexual goddess. It’s about bodies that start to change and wet dreams and sexual taboos and homoeroticism. There was no sex education in China. My homosexuality was never allowed expression. My parents still don’t know.

Your use of peacock feathers in Cock-pit is breathtaking, particularly how they become extensions of different parts of the body.

I had been thinking about those feathers for four years, how they denoted the powerful leader/warrior in Beijing Opera, but I was determined that my piece would not look like Beijing Opera. Cock-pit makes very strong statements and create different illusions depending on where the feathers are attached – head, wrist, knee, shoulder, fingers, crotch.

I’ve always felt that your works run deep.

It’s true. I don’t create just beautiful dance shows. I’m drawn to themes that are psychological, that look into the universals of the human experience, that ask all the questions that were never answered in a closed state like China.

Cock-pit tours to Toronto (April 9 and 10), Quebec City (April 15 to 17), Montreal (April 21 to 24), Regina (April 27 and 28), Victoria (May 1) and Saltspring Island (May 4.)  

::SPORTS NEWS::

Surgery Sidelines Raptors Star Chris Bosh

Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Smith

(April 07, 2010) Chris Bosh has had surgery on his nose.

Toronto’s all-star power forward had surgery to “repair a displaced nasal fracture” in Cleveland on Wednesday and will remain in hospital there until at least Thursday morning, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

There was no indication from the organization on how long Bosh would be out.

Bosh, Toronto’s leading scorer and rebounder, suffered a maxilla and nasal fracture to the right side of his face when he was accidentally struck by an Antawn Jamison elbow less than three minutes into Cleveland’s 113-101 win over the Raptors on Tuesday night.

The team did not give any indication how much time Bosh might miss. He remained in Cleveland overnight Tuesday and was expected to return to Toronto during the day Wednesday.

However, the team announced just before 5 p.m. that he had had surgery, performed by Dr. Frank Papa at The Cleveland Clinic.

The loss of Bosh is a blow to a team fighting for its playoff life. The Raptors, 38-39, are one game ahead of the Chicago Bulls in a fight for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference race.

Bosh averages a team-best 24.0 points and 10.8 assists per game. He has missed seven of Toronto’s 77 games so far this season.

Antoine Wright, meanwhile, injured his right ankle in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game and was to be a game-time decision for Wednesday’s home game against the Boston Celtics.

The Harlem Globetrotters

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(April 07, 2010) “Georgia claimed her, Georgia named her – Sweet Georgia Brown.” If you don't recognize those lyrics, you'd probably recognize the tune, particularly if it was whistled jauntily as accompaniment to elongated athletes as they gathered in a circle and did near impossible tricks with bouncing, round leather balls.

They are the highly skilled members of a basketball team that does not play basketball, not really. What they do is staged and never dull – it is choreographed athletic theatre, with the zippy jazz standard Sweet Georgia Brown as the soundtrack to game-based shenanigans. The touring squad of performers dazzle and dunk in Canada this month, including a pair of “contests” – they play stooges, and rarely lose – at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

The players' names have changed over the years. Current performers Special K. Daley, dunker Cobra Coley, court general Moo Moo Evans and other dribblers have replaced charismatic people named Curly, Goose, Geese and Meadowlark.

Patriotically uniformed in a gaudy combination of reds, whites and blues, the American team has functioned since the 1920s.

The franchise originated in Chicago, but the team hasn't been associated with that city since 1928, the year the squad found a permanent new address. You likely know that Harlem claimed them, Harlem named them – the Harlem Globetrotters.

The Harlem Globetrotters perform at Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m., $24.25 to $177, 40 Bay St., 416-870-8000. (Other Ontario dates include Kitchener Thursday and London Friday.)