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August 12, 2010

What a busy and great summer so far - hope you all feel the same way!  TONS of news this week!

A special week for me in that my dear friend,
Wes "Maestro" Williams is launching a motivational book tonight called "Stick to Your Vision" (see related article below).  It made me reminisce about how I first met Wes in 2000 and he ignited my curiosity about hip hop culture.  He really was the first to take the time to influence my biased opinion of hip hop.  He literally turned me into a fan.  So, I went through my photos collected over the years and posted them on Facebook in celebration of his influence in my life, as a mentor and a friend.  Check out the photos HERE

I'm re-running my exclusive interview with Sol Guy due to its popularity and it reminds us all to find our passion and live a life that is fulfilling.  Thanks again to Sol for his valuable time and presence.

I went to see Rihanna in concert last week and had a great time - despite her much-delayed entrance.  Thought I'd be overwhelmed by all the tweenagers and screaming but I barely noticed as I joined in the lip-syncing and dancing in the aisles. Check out my RECAP below.   


Now, you may find the newsletter a little lighter this week - what can I say?  I'm trying to take weekends off this summer but I'm sure you'll still find lots to read below. 


Sol Guy’s For Real - Exclusive Interview

Sol Guy - social activist, entrepreneur, television producer and host, music manager, father … the list goes on and on.  You would think that these moves were done consecutively or in a particular order and with specific purpose.  No, they are done in conjunction with each other.  And it didn’t come easy. 

Art Culture Change –Sol’s mantra and it’s not just talk - he is living proof of the interaction and intertwining of these three.  Here we talk about transitioning from music executive to managing Somali-Canadian rapper
K'naan and their World Cup experience, his role as founder of the television series 4Real and bridging the gap between social activism and entertainment.

Sol, reading your resume alone is an inspiring tale of how one changed life affects change in the lives of others.  Do you remember the moment that you knew your life would be changed forever, that day in Sierra Leone (1995?)?

In hindsight, you would like to think that in that moment, you made this decision to make a difference or to change your life.  But I think that that is a bit pretentious in that when you come to those types of decisions, when you actually make the decision to make a change, you’ve probably wrestled with it for a long time.  And there are certain factors that have contributed to manifest that change.  The biggest step is the final step when you do make the call, or wash your hands of something or you make a move in your life.  I can definitely nail contributing factors to what got me took me off the path I was going on. 

The two that stick out, in the course of a couple of years, was the death of my father and then my first trip to Africa, where I went to Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.  Both life changing, and both representing life and death and both allowing me to examine life.  Death, especially of a parent, puts quite a mirror up.  You start thinking of values.  A similar thing happened in Africa.  It just pulled a huge layer back of what the world is and what people deal with in the world.  And it made me start the question the idea of wealth and what wealth is measured by – whether dollars or heart – it brought up all these questions.

It connected directly back to who my father is and to my Mom, stepmom, my sisters and my family and my roots and how I was raised.  How a couple of Americans living in the woods in B.C. and raising these mixed kids in a small town.  And why they were there and what decisions they made to live an alternative lifestyle. In turn, they gave me a different way to look at the world.  So all those contributing factors along the way.

Were your parents ever involved in social activism?

Yes, my Mom was always fundraising in the community.  My parents met in D.C. in the late 60’s and it must have been an interesting time when being a social activist was avant-garde.  In comparison if the pimp-gangsta image is what makes you cool as a young person today, which is mostly about attracting women, being the cool guy, having friends and being admired, in turn, in Malcolm X and Martin Luther King’s heyday, the guy in the sharp suit with a stack of books at the café talking about what he learned in Africa, was that guy. 

My point is that my parents lived in a time where it was part of what you had to do – a social movement globally.  My Mom is Jewish from upstate New York and my father is Black American from the Deep South and they started living on the fringe – they became hippies.  Then they carried that on to moving out of America because they were fed up with it and split to Canada - Halifax and hitchhiked across Canada in the early 70’s.  Imagine a 6’ 4” Black man in Canada … he said some people in the middle of Canada hadn’t even seen a Black person before.  They ended up on Vancouver Island in a hippie commune, which was run by a folk singer Valdy, who I still see sometimes.  Then they moved to the interior. 

My Mom was always fundraising – Families for Children, an organization to help children around the world. She would do toy drives and her and her friends would do Kids Help Kids Day.  The whole community would get involved and ship a trainload of goods to a small community in South America that was in need.  So that was my Mom. 

I think more than anything they were the kind of people who encouraged us to find out for ourselves.  They said ‘here’s the facts and here’s the information … you decide’. 

How would you best describe your television series 4Real to someone who hadn’t heard of it? 

4Real takes celebrity guests around the world to connect with young people who, under extreme circumstances, are doing phenomenal things to change their communities.  In order to get the television series going, it took me a couple of years. 

[Note: Celebrities and locations they visited include (but not limited to): Eva Mendes  - Vancouver; Casey Affleck – Oklahoma; Cameron Diaz – Peru; K’naan - Kenya's Kibera; M.I.A. – Liberia; Mos Def – Rio, Brazil; Joaquin Phoenix - Amazon Rainforest.  www.4real.com]

I’ve watched almost all the episodes.  What strikes me is the affect it has on the group.  You see moments, to quote Oprah, the ‘ah ha’ moment.

Any success of that show and all the beautiful things that have manifested from it, are really a testament to those young people and the unbelievable work they are doing.  One of the things that I’m most proud of is that we were able to travel there, even with these big celebrities in a very similar fashion that we researched and discovered these people.  The idea that if we could just bring people (the celebrity brings the audience) then we could mirror our experience.  To be very honest, the first time I went to the Amazon with Tashka Yawanawa – if that had just been for me and I lived with that for the rest of my life, it would have been more than satisfying – it’s enough.  But he was such an unbelievable guy that I felt like I was doing the world an injustice if I didn’t, in some way, tell the story because I knew how. 

You mentioned you those ‘ah ha’ moments. We had a small crew of really good people and brought a skill in their own right – the celebrity was the same as the soundman.  It was a cool comradery.  We didn’t have hair and makeup and every celebrity would only be allowed one guest so that you couldn’t bring a whole entourage with you.  If we could facilitate the celebrity – first class if it was available, or a great hotel – great.  However, if we were in the mountains, you’d stay in a tent with everybody else.  I think that created an environment for that show to be successful. 

In addition, we didn’t reshoot anything – we shot what was there.  My sister, Shoshona, who produced and directed many of the episodes, helped us understand the structure that we needed.  But in our ideal world, we didn’t want structure.  She took a step away from complete structure, we stepped away from no structure, and there was something there in the middle.  And we had a good team so it worked. 

How did you get from that moment to leaving the music business and moving towards a life dedicated to social and global change through entertainment?

Two things - my upbringing and my cultural entry point was hip hop.  My upbringing was in this hippie movement, second-generation kid, mixed kid, doesn’t quite fit in, trying to find identity. 

And then I found hip hop - I got some records because my stepfather was listening to the CBC (!), this new music, maybe mid-80s.  He thought they were cool so he ordered the records for me.  Africa Bambaataa and Planet Rock and also Grandmaster Flash and the Message.  It blew my mind!  I started going to the store in Grand Forks, North Dakota where all they had was Def Leppard, the Scorpions and AC/DC.  So here I come, ‘Can you order me Run DMC, Tougher than Leather’.  The response was ‘That’s rap!’  I’d end up arguing with the guy to order it for me.  It was finding identity.

My first concert was Ice-T at the Commodore when I was in Vancouver when I was 16.  I was completely blown away and in love with hip hop.  And then I found Public Enemy records – the pinpoint of when I was falling in love with hip hop – there was a through line of social activism.  It was revolutionary music.  NWA’s F**k the Police was as revolutionary as it comes … gangsta rap has become a whole other thing now but those guys had their finger on the pulse. 

I had that lens.  When I was with the Rascalz and things started happening for us, we had that expression within what we were doing.  We could make party records, fun records, or “I’m the best rapper” record. But we were also inspired by those records.  I got to this place in the music industry that I was becoming disillusioned with my role in it and what people were doing and the direction that not only the music was going in but also in being in charge of spreading that message around the world, that’s when I started to say, ‘this can’t really work for me’. 

The short answer is that that was always a part of me.  It was the way I was raised, it was the way I was raised on hip hop and it took my own dissatisfaction with the direction of the overall industry and my role in it by default of who I had become as a young executive, for me to make a decision that I wanted to do something differently .  I don’t think that I ever was not an activist per se until my actions defined me as one.  But I think we were always trying to call out the wrong thing. 

When I got to a point personally decided I didn’t want to be managing the artists I was managing anymore (which is not a reflection of them, their art or their creativity).  I’m a heart person and my passion was gone so I needed to find something else.  When I let it all go, I’d love to sit here and tell you I knew exactly what I was going to do but I didn’t know. 

The 4Real idea was in the atmosphere … but really I was just sitting in an apartment on Seaton Street.  No one could figure it out.  Why would Sol who had all this success then made the almost impossible jump to Arista Records in New York, working with Puffy, Wu Tang Clan and Biggie, and managing Kardi and the Rascalz and k-os … is it true that he gave the company away?  That he said take it all?

The real story is that’s what happened.  Because I wanted so much to be free of it, and in hindsight I don’t even know if I handled it well.  I love all those guys and we’re all still friends.  I just knew that I didn’t want anything.  Someone said very interesting to me once and I took it to heart, they said “You don’t necessarily know when it’s on, but you sure as hell know when something’s off.”  And when it’s off, you’ve got to make a change.

How would you enlighten someone like me that has never been very involved in social works globally but wants to help?  What is it, in your opinion, that ignites action in someone’s heart?

I don’t think I necessarily want anyone to envision my passion.  I’m hopeful that my actions and who I am as a person could spark a person’s passion.  Someone said once that the best thing that you can do for the planet is to find your passion and live it to the fullest and be the best person you can be. 

There’s no difference whether we’re over here making tunes and movies or TV, that’s our lane.  Just as relevant is the construction who does sports camps on the weekends and coaches the baseball team with the kids and fires those kids up and gives back to the community in that way.  It’s all relative and it’s all relevant and reflective to you and what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis.  What I would hope is that if I am a representation of that and if they find inspiration in it then they would dust off their passion if they’re not as in tune with it.  Because we all have something that we love and if you can do what you love on a daily basis, you are very fortunate. 

You’re a living example of not only it driving your passion and living a fulfilled life, it’s also been successful which I believe the two cannot help but go together if you let it. Perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t have those days where people thought you’d lost your mind.

When I think back on it now, I don’t know how stable I was in those days!  I was questioning everything, I didn’t want anything to do with it (the music business).  I met this young Somali kid named K’naan in those days.  My whole first year of becoming friends and hanging out with K’naan and when things started to happen for him, I’d be saying ‘if I was in the music industry still, I’d go to that studio and do a track with them or this publishing deal?  I would change this this and this … but I’m not in it’.  I had vowed to never do it again when I met K’naan.  But things happen.

How did K’Naan’s song ‘Wavin’ the Flag’ become the Coca Cola-sponsored anthem for the World Cup?

It was an interesting and long process … by the time we finished the campaign it was an 18-month process.  When one of these massive brands needs a song, they put a brief out to all their agencies around the world.  We first heard about it from William Morris, our booking agent. The idea was World Cup 2010 – Coca Cola’s biggest campaign, big music driver in it, release your African rhythm, it’s about celebration.  They give you a bit of a theme, which was a ‘twist and shout’ melody.  They probably got about 40-50 demos from a lot of people.  First of all, World Cup in South Africa is very interesting to us because of who K’naan is as an African man and the bridge that he walks between both worlds.  But we weren’t so convinced on the creative brief.  Immediately though we thought about the song that we had, Wavin’ Flag, and the sentiment of it.  The album version is almost like a ballad, a real coming-of-age story and personal story of K’naan’s.  It definitely wasn’t this celebratory tune that the World Cup would need.  K’naan had written that song a long time ago and I knew it was a special song as soon as I heard it.  What we managed to do was to get some of the decision-makers at Coca Cola to come to a show.  So they saw K’naan perform at SXSW.  They really dug and then we started to dialogue and it was around Wavin’ Flag and they dug K’naan as an artist and person and the story.  They wanted something real and tangible.  So we worked on a new version on the song for them so we went into the studio with Phil and Bruno in LA.  Then we did the deal and the plan rolled out.  It was probably about 6 months before the deal was done.  Then they laid out the massive plan with the World Cup Trophy Tour.  The big thing about this one was that they were going to hit every African country which was amazing.  There ended up being 22 versions of the song.  Spanish version, Thai version and one of my favourite versions is Nancy Arjam from Egypt (see here), and there’s China, there’s Japan and we did them all with big pop stars.  So 22 versions of the song ends up going to #1 in 18 countries, has this success and becomes the unofficial anthem for the World Cup.  We kind of snuck in the door and stole the thunder with that one. 

What was the highlight personally of the World Cup experience?  professionally?

There were a couple.  Getting to go to 23 African countries in 28 days and the craziness of it but the diversity of that continent and the depth of the people and the different cultures and the languages – it’s unbelievable.  40-minute plane ride and you were in a different world.  That continent is one of the richest places on earth – from that fact that it provides the world with 50% of its resources to this day and that there is so much history there.  It was amazing to get schooled and be received so well.  It was amazing to see K’naan’s homecoming and what the continent at the World Cup, how he was received and how they treated him.  From a guy driving a taxi to big businessmen.  Patrice Motsepe, one of the richest men in Africa or people at the Mandela gala fundraiser we attended, or the people that worked 16 years to bring the World Cup to South Africa and the words they had for K’naan and what we were doing.  The collective pride, the kids in Soweto singing for K’naan.  Phenomenal!

The second thing was to attend some of those games.  And to personally witness the power of sport and how it brings people together in a unique space and 90,000 people cheering for something.  Sports and music are the two things that bring people together across all these barriers, culture and social and political.  All of that was really inspiring to me.

But bar none, we met Nelson Mandela.  I don’t even have nothing to say … we met Nelson Mandela.  That was the highlight of the entire thing.  We got a special invite to his home and spent a little time.  Arguably one of the greatest if not the greatest human beings on the planet.  A phenomenal man that we can all aspire to be like.  The beauty of meeting him was that it reminds you that there are great people all over the world doing great things. 

He’s a testament to it at the highest level but we all know somebody that has a bit of his spirit.  There’s people all over Toronto we walk by every day - we don’t know their story.  It gave you that human pride.  It gave you hope in humanity, you know?  If there’s such a thing as meeting a king, I met a king.  Unbelievable!

What’s next for 4Real?  What’s next for K’Naan?

Now that we’ve got all this access to things and things are really starting to come to fruition in the way that we envisioned them, I’m proud to say almost 10 years ago.  Me and K’naan dreaming up these ideas on Seaton Street.  More music and tours for K’naan.  There’s a documentary we’re finishing about poetry and K’naan’s family in Somalia.  There’s a feature film that K’naan and I have been working on for years.  All that stuff will be rolling out.

There’s more programming and ideas around the 4Real space.  Me personally, I’m very interested in feature films.  I just made a move to LA and I’m interested in getting involved in that world in a bunch of different ways.

There’s lots of stories to tell.

That’s right.  I did documentaries but at the end of the day you’re beholden by the truth.  When you start doing features, you can twist it up!  So I’m excited to get into that world.  We are a very small percentage of people who get the privilege to access mainstream media.  I used to pass judgment on people who just did it for doing its sake and didn’t have something in it.  I don’t do that anymore. 

But whatever I will do, there will always be something in the middle of it.  And it will be as cool, relevant, creative and as tangible as the next things that sits right beside it.  I don’t expect you to dig what we like because it’s the right thing; I want you to like it because the song sounds great, because it’s a great film, because it’s an engaging television show.  I guarantee you that you’ll walk somewhere at some point and it will jump back in your head and it might make you go hmmmm.  And that’s enough for me. 

Would you say that you’re living a fulfilled life? 

I’m one of the luckiest guys on the planet.  I’ve got two amazing, healthy children.  I travel the world.  No one calls me to wake me up in the morning.  I wake up ready to go and I do something that I love.  I get a chance to be with all sorts of different people and get inspired.  I’m very fortunate and now that the work is starting to pay us – which is kind of cool too – that one takes a long time, more than people would perceive – we’ve put so much into it and for it to start to balance itself out is great.  I’m just very fortunate.  We couldn’t have imagined all the things that would combine to get us here.  But what we did do, very clearly, we saw the path and we stuck to it.  That’s the thing that I’m most proud of – that we did not compromise. 

We’ve always had enough and had enough to get by.  Literally thousands of people have contributed along the way to everything that we’re doing.  Some of them dedicating years of their lives and other people in a hello, a phone call or opening a door.  Or an idea, a laugh or a smile.  None of this is us on our own.  We just happen to be in this position that we’re in.

It’s a great thing to be around a group of guys that continuously challenge each other as well.  So life is good. 


Rihanna Makes Her Mark in Toronto

Source: Dawn Langfield, Langfield Entertainment

See pics from the
Rihanna concert in my PHOTO GALLERY

I'm not sure what it is ... but I really like
Rihanna and have since she first hit the scene with Pon de Replay.  Most of my musician friends are not fans.  Is it that she's Bajan and has that West Indian lilt to her voice?  Is it because we've witnessed her grow up from a cute tween to a sexy young woman? Is it that she has a unique fashion style and carries herself with a quiet confidence?  And then there's the way she handled the Chris Brown situation ... she rose above after we saw her struggle with her decision.  A real and vulnerable woman surfaced.

Regardless, I was amongst the tweens singing the lyrics and dancing in front of my seat at Molson Amphitheatre last week.  Rihanna had a big, but not overdone, show with tons of props and lasers and back screen effects.  There seemed to be an 'anger management' theme to the show with the breaking of guitars, baseball bats on a car, a firing squad enactment - good girl gone bad for sure!  There was no underlying message ... she's pissed!  You know, in a controlled kinda way.  Somehow it wasn't hardcore as she still pulled it all off with the occasional sweet glimpse into the stage camera.  She's grown into a professional entertainer.

Not to mention her costume changes ... sexy glam is what I would call it and the young audience LOVED it - a good number of them wearing Rihanna-ish shirts, shoes or accessories.  One of the most memorable and least revealing was a dress made of beaded lights sewn in that made her silhouette part of the stage show.  Most outfits were stylish and cut thigh high showing off her model assets.

Rihanna came, delivered and proved that she is indeed, worthy of the acclaim that she has garnished. 

Rumours that Eminem stayed in town to join her to perform their new release, Love the Way You Lie, which was released last week, were untrue but here's yet another example of an angry and violent tone on a difficult subject of domestic violence, of which both Eminem and Rihanna have experienced.  I leave you with her new video:


Toronto Rapper Wes Williams Pens Self-Help Book

Source: www.thestar.com - Nick Patch

(August 09, 2010) Toronto rapper, actor and now author Wes Williams says he tapped into the darkest periods of his career when writing his new self-help book.

The 42-year-old — also known as Maestro and formerly Maestro Fresh-Wes — experienced unprecedented success and blazed a path for Canadian rappers in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But he says reliving the lean years that followed for his new book, Stick to Your Vision: How to Get Past the Hurdles and the Haters to Get Where You Want to Be, wasn't easy.

“I guess that's a part of being an author,” Williams said during a promotional stop in his hometown. “I gotta open up and talk about certain things that are a little uncomfortable to mention because, you know, you don’t want to talk about having a wack audition, or people dissing your album. You don’t really feel comfortable with that, because we’re supposed to be strong and not show weakness and not show that things affect you.

“But I am affected by it. My feelings got hurt a lot of times along the way.”

Published earlier this month, Stick to Your Vision blends memoir with a treatise on self-confidence and ambition. It’s divided into three sections — expectation, operation and destination — and encourages readers to clearly set out their goals before pursuing them with purpose and persistence.

He also dispenses lessons on networking culled from his own career. While promoting the book, he practises what he preaches, taking pains to learn the name of each reporter, photographer and publicist with whom he comes into contact.

The Juno Award-winning musician and Gemini-nominated actor says the idea for the book originated back in the late ’90s, but he began working on it in earnest back in 2008, shortly after marrying Calgary native Tamara Hendricks-Williams, who co-wrote the book.

“It was a very challenging time, to be quite honest,” Williams said. “Because you know, we were like newlyweds at the time, plus we just got a newborn on top of that. It was tough, because she's going through stuff emotionally, physically, what have you. ...

“When the book came to our house, we held a copy of it, and it was a good feeling. The cover looks all glossy but not everything was glossy when we were putting it together, you know what I mean?”

“We were fighting like cats and dogs all the way through but at the end of the day, (we) did it.”

Though Williams says his publisher wasn’t interested in an autobiography, the book still reveals many details of his life.

Born in 1968 to Guyanese immigrants, Williams grew up living with his family in an apartment in North York and attended a mostly white school where he endured racist taunts and the occasional feeling of cultural isolation.

In 1979, his father — a passionate music fan — brought home a record that changed his life: Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper's Delight.”

He knew then that he wanted to be a rapper and worked on his music throughout high school, winning occasional airtime on the local Ryerson University radio station.

In 1989, a 21-year-old Williams would make his mark with the release of “Let Your Backbone Slide,” the first Canadian rap single to crack the Billboard chart in the U.S. and top the singles chart at home.

His debut album, “Symphony in Effect,” went platinum in Canada but also raised expectations to a plateau Williams would struggle to reach.

His next records brought diminishing commercial returns, with 1994’s “Naaah, Dis Kid Can’t Be from Canada,” representing a personal low point for the rapper.

He bounced back with 1998’s “Built to Last” (which featured the single “Stick to Your Vision” that inspired the book) before reinventing himself as an actor.

He hasn’t released an album of new material in a decade (2000’s “Ever Since”) but says he’s starting to feel that old itch.

“I wanna get back in the booth and drop some new music,” said Williams, who now lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their nearly 2-year-old son, Chancellor.

“I wouldn’t mind dropping a new one, man. I think (hip-hop star) Drake really kicked me in the butt to be like, yo, son, we can do this, you know?

“Regardless of whether it’s from an album perspective or what, but new music will be coming out.”

With a foreward from legendary Public Enemy co-founder Chuck D and a blurb from Drake, Williams’s continued support from the hip-hop community is clear.

Yet he concedes that discussing personal disappointments — and, well, his feelings — might not always have seemed kosher for an artist in the hip-hop world, where braggadocio tends to trump blunt self-analysis.

“But the older you get, you feel that you’ve got nothing to prove,” Williams said.

“You start to feel that you might as well tell people how you feel about things. And be honest with it, man.”

From Basketball To Black Belt, Star Does It All

Source:  www.thestar.com - David Grossman

(July 28, 2010) Noelle Zletni says she has no regrets.

Admitting that the goal of many teenage athletes is to win a provincial championship, Zletni didn’t quite get there in her four years at St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School in Richmond Hill.

The gung-ho 17-year old did, however, graduate from her York Region school in June with a host of other achievements.

Zletni, a 5-10 point guard heading off to Niagara University in Buffalo on a basketball scholarship, set the school record for points by a female athlete and was voted top basketball player for the fourth time. She was also volleyball MVP for the second straight year and the school’s most improved player in badminton.

Now she can add top female athlete at Lisieux to the list — for a third time, twice as a junior.

“Sometimes winning a provincial championship isn’t everything,” said Zletni, an honours student, who is spending part of her summer getting acclimatized to Niagara and also taking courses.

“When I look back, I am very fortunate to have accomplished so much (at Lisieux) but this last year was also a challenging one. I missed three weeks of the basketball season with a fracture in my right hand and, losing in the first round of the playoffs, ended things on a low note.”

An alto saxophone player in the school band, Zletni has also found time to earn a black belt in karate and averaged 22 points a game for the senior basketball team.

For the 30th consecutive year, the Star recognizes distinguished athletes — some 649 from private, public and Catholic high schools in 11 leagues across the Greater Toronto Area.

In today’s third and final part of the series, Zletni is among the 215 athletes — with 15 repeat winners — singled out by coaches in the regions of Dufferin, Peel and York.

At St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School in Brampton, basketball star Naana Ankoma-Mensa not only raised thousands of dollars for people in need in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, she also assisted at a track meet for kids with special needs.

Ankoma-Mensa was dominant on the hardwood, accepted a scholarship to Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I. and helped her high school track team set a Peel Region record in the 4x100-metre relay.

Hannah Early was the top female athlete at Centre Dufferin District High School in Shelburne after excelling in hockey, rugby and basketball while Myles Marin won silver medals in golf and table tennis for his Humberview Secondary School team in Bolton.

In Markham, Brother Andre Catholic High School saluted Kurt Gibbons as the top male athlete — MVP in football and soccer while heading up the school athletic council. His specialty, though, was rugby and he was chosen to play for Canada’s under-17 team to compete internationally.

Wyclef Jean: ‘I Am the Right Person’ for Haiti

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 9, 2010) *Wyclef Jean, center, greets supporters from the top of a vehicle after submitting the paperwork to run for president of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010.

*Wyclef Jean has written an article in the Wall Street Journal defending his decision to run for the presidency of Haiti.

“While I don’t pretend to be a miracle worker, I wholeheartedly believe that at this important time in Haiti’s history, I am the right person to put the country on the road to the brighter future it so desperately needs and deserves,” Jean wrote in the article published today.

Jean entered the presidential race last week, jetting into the Caribbean nation on a private plane and asking Haitians to give him “power for change.”

While his decision to run has won support in Haiti, where many hail him as a hero, he has also drawn criticism from figures sceptical of a hip-hop star in the national palace. But Jean wrote that Haiti needed a president “who can turn promises into reality — someone who will crisscross the earth and convince world leaders” to help the Haitian people economically.

“We also need to cultivate Haiti’s rich culture of entrepreneurship by increasing the availability of microcredit and simplifying laws and bureaucracy,” the musician stressed.

Jean lives in the New York area but has traveled to Haiti multiple times seeking to defuse gang violence and help the poorest Haitians. He has said his inspiration to enter politics emerged from the devastating January earthquake that left 250,000 people dead and 1.5 million homeless.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: Pilgrim’s Progress

Source:  www.thestar.com

(August 10, 2010) “Fun? In Toronto?”

That’s what
Michael Cera says when asked what line he thinks people will be quoting from Scott Pilgrim vs.The World, his made-in-Hogtown fantasy adventure based on Bryan Lee O'Malley’s graphic novel that’s in theatres Friday.

Despite playing the titular character, Cera chooses a line uttered by Brandon Routh, who plays one of the seven evil exes that Pilgrim has to defeat in order to win the heart of his girlfriend, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Cera says that particular line has become an in-joke among his fellow cast members, because the truth is they had plenty of fun shooting in this city last year. Many of them lived in condos in the same apartment building in the Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. area, including the film’s director, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead).

“I loved filming in Toronto. My family was an hour away, which was really nice,” says the Brampton-born Cera, who spoke with the Star Friday.

“I hadn’t had a chance to work here since I was like 12 or 13 . . .also it was the first time I got to live downtown and really get to know my way around. I love it here. It’s an amazing city to live in.”

Wright is even more emphatic about shooting the adaptation of the series of O’Malley’s graphic novels in the city where they are set.

“People have asked was it good working in Toronto, and I can honestly say, if we hadn’t shot in Toronto, as far as I’m concerned, the film wouldn’t have happened at all,” says Wright. “Especially for an adaptation like this. The books are very beloved by a growing fan base, but also what Bryan did with the books, he made Toronto look like a magical playground. If we hadn’t shot it here it would’ve been a disaster.”

Just like O’Malley’s graphic novels, the film is full of local references, with scenes on TTC buses, enemies that burst into loonies and twoonies after being defeated and plenty of knowing Toronto winks, including bands like Broken Social Scene and Metric on the soundtrack. Don McKellar has a cameo as a director.

“My uncle loved the Pizza Pizza reference,” says Cera, who mimics his relative as he says: “Just hearing Pizza Pizza in a movie, I’ve never heard that before.”

Wright admits there was one Toronto cameo that he was slightly disappointed he couldn’t fit in.

“There wasn’t really a slot for a David Cronenberg cameo. No disrespect to David, but there isn’t really anybody over the age of 29 in this movie. It kind of feels like Lord of the Flies,” he jokes.

Both Wright and Cera got a chance to watch the film with a local audience the night before their joint interview in a Yorkville hotel, and admit it was kind of a coming full circle moment after filming here.

And while it’s getting nothing but good buzz from local folks who have already seen it, Pilgrim is also bearing the weight of great expectations. Depending on who you ask, it’s separately been hailed as the comic book movie, the music film and the videogame-inspired movie of the summer.

It’s also getting a major marketing push from movie studio Universal since last month’s San Diego Comic-Con, where it was one of the hot properties. Plenty of geeks have been following the film’s progress since it was first announced that Wright, the beloved director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, was taking the reigns. Both men deny that they feel any pressure from studio expectations.

“They’re pushing it?” asks a seemingly oblivious Cera.

“Somebody asked me, how is it tracking,” says Wright. “And I said I have no idea. I don’t even know how to read those f------ numbers. At a certain point, we’ve made the film we’re all really proud of it, now we’ve just got to get it out there. It’s just about it finding an audience, really.”

For Cera, it’s the latest in series of leading roles since graduating to films after playing George-Michael Bluth on the cult hit TV series, Arrested Development. Like some of this other roles, he’s playing a somewhat understated young character — although one who gets to kick ass — but when asked, he says doesn’t fear about being typecast.

“Well I’m not too afraid of that because normally I just choose my roles based on who’s making the movie,” says Cera. “I don’t even know what kind of scripts I’ve been getting lately. I haven’t been getting sent too many, there aren’t really a lot that would have a part for someone like me.

“Normally, I just try and meet with directors that I really love and hope to work with them… You know someone like P.T. Anderson (director of There Will Be Blood), I would do anything for him. I would walk by with a tray and spit up on myself.”

Asked about rumours of an Arrested Development movie, Cera says, “Not that I know of, but that would be really great. That would be a nice thing to work on.”

As for Wright, he has long been tapped to work on an Ant-Man movie for Marvel (due out next year), although, it’s recently been reported that it wouldn’t fit into the planned arc of movies that will culminate into Joss Whedon’s Avengers film.

“I’ve got to get back to writing. Once this is done, I’m going to hole up in a cave, not literally a cave, it probably doesn’t have wireless, and just be writing,” says Wright. “And one of things that I’ll get back to writing is the Ant-Man script I’ve been working on for Marvel, which could be a lot of fun, so that might happen next year, or I might do something else. We’ll see.”

In terms of other comic book characters, Cera’s Pilgrim takes on a couple among the exes he has to defeat. There’s Superman, last played by Routh. Chris Evans, who already played the Human Torch and is set to play Captain America is also a foe.

“Yeah, right. I beat Captain America and the Human Torch at the same time,” jokes Cera.

“Which is double points,” observes Wright.


It’s A Hunt To Find The Right Vacation Rental

Source: www.thestar.com - Pauline Frommer

(August 10, 2010)  Hotel prices are on the rise.

An article in The New York Times at the end of July quotes well-respected industry watcher and dean of New York University’s hospitality school Bjorn Hanson as saying that the increase in the numbers was “dramatic.” He predicts that leisure travellers will pay 3 to 4 per cent more for their rooms in the coming months. Translation: It’s time to look into
vacation rentals.

As a mom, I prefer them anyway. On par with hotels in terms of pricing (and often less expensive), rentals offer my family more room when we hit the road, and as importantly, a place to cook. With picky eaters in tow, having a kitchen not only salvages my budget, it saves my sanity.

But finding a good rental is not as easy as finding the right hotel, as there isn’t the wealth of reviews on rentals that there is on hotels. Here’s how I go about it:

1. Check the fineprint: I ensure that vacation rentals are legal in the area I’m visiting. A raft of recent laws in such places as New York City, Las Vegas, Paris and Maui County, Hawaii (Maui, Lanai and Molokai) have made short-term vacation rentals illegal or greatly lessened the number of legal rentals. Since I don’t want to show up to find my deposit gone and no place to stay, I’m going to be looking at other forms of lodging in those places until the laws are changed. A word on Maui: free-standing rentals often are illegal there (they require owners to get a hard-to-obtain permit), but condo apartments are legal and often can be very cost-effective.

2. Map it: I get an exact address and map the location. Years ago, before I wrote my book on Las Vegas and became “an expert” in Sin City, I rented a home there for a week. The owner told me it was “on the Strip.” Well, it was on Las Vegas Boulevard, but nowhere near the cluster of casinos stretching from the Mandalay Bay to the Stratosphere that actually make up the Strip. I had to unexpectedly rent a car and ever since then I’ve done my due diligence, going to Google Maps and ascertaining the exact location of the rental. Location, to my mind, is the most important element in a lodging choice.

3. Search with agents: I turn to local rental agencies first, and only if their prices are too high do I go with direct-to-owner sites on the Internet. Here’s why: agencies have the ability to move you if things go wrong. If you’re dealing with an individual owner and are upset about the house you’ve gotten, you’re stuck. Problem is, the prices charged by owners often are significantly lower than those charged by agencies. So I weigh cost versus peace of mind when making my choice.

4. Photos count: When I choose a residence over the Internet, I go with those listings featuring a lot of photos. Listings with fewer photos indicate that either (a) the owner has something in the house to hide or (b) the owner is a bit lazy in the way he manages the property. Either way, I know I’m better off with a better-represented property.

5. Know the fees: Before signing on the dotted line, I ask about fees I might have missed. In European rentals, I’ve found that linen use often incurs an extra charge, as do utilities. Cleaning fees are now near-universal and can add significantly to the overall cost, so I’m vigilant about pinning down every cent I’m going to pay. I also check to make sure someone will be available nearby to help should something in the home break or stop working.

6. Check references: Finally, I always inquire if the owner has former renters who are willing to act as references. Speaking to a third party can be informative, and the more I know, the more likely I am to choose well.

Pauline Frommer is the creator of the award-winner Pauline Frommer’s Travel Guides series. She co-hosts the radio program The Travel Show with her father, Arthur Frommer. Find Pauline’s books online at
www.frommers.com/pauline. Order your copy of Frommer travel guidebooks at www.StarStore.ca.

© 2010 by Pauline Frommer


Michael Bublé’s Great Show No Accident

Source:  www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(August 10, 2010) There’s this polite, tousle-haired, 34-year-old Canadian from suburban Burnaby, B.C. who hasthe world on a string, charming thousands upon thousands of fans of all ages around the world with good, old-fashioned singing.

In a strangely unprepossessing way, dressed in trademark suit and tie,
Michael Bublé is proving, time and again, that engaging music is not about fashion or a particular style, but about delivering it with conviction.

How else can you explain that the sold-out Air Canada Centre crowd on Tuesday night hung on his every rendition of jazz and pop standards — many of which would have made his grandparents smile and tap their toes.

Although Bublé’s Crazy Love Tour, in honour of his latest album, started its North American trek way back in March — and returns to the ACC on Wednesday, and won’t end until a second swing through Europe in the fall — he and his crack 13-man backup band played as if Toronto were the most important place on Earth.

“I don’t want this to be a Michael Bublé concert,” he declared near the start of the show. “I want this to be a party.” Then, in a perfect show of his individual approach to even a big-stadium concert, he added with a smile: “And now I’m going to sing the most depressing song I know.”

It wasn’t all downtempo stuff like “At This Moment” wrung out from a little barstool lost in the centre of the stylish, sloped stage. We heard Bublé standbys like the old jazzer “All of Me,” and his enduring pop hits “Crazy Love,” and “Save the Last Dance.”

The crooner loves to chat, and provided witty — sometimes overly personal — introductions for his accomplished band members, including a spectacular jazz wind octet. He made fun of his geeky musical predilections. He enjoyed a moment of homage to Michael Jackson.

But what he did — and always does — best, is sing as if his life depended on it.

“I was trying to figure out how to make a big-stadium concert feel intimate,” he said during a break between songs. “And I realized that the only thing I can do is to sing each song like I really mean it.”

That is exactly what Bublé did. And there couldn’t have been many people leaving the Air Canada Centre without big smiles on their faces because of this.

The singer made a fine choice in inviting Naturally 7 to be his opening act. For 45 minutes before Bublé came on stage, the New York City-based a cappella septet thrilled an appreciative crowd with a compelling mix of R’n’B and beatboxing. They worked a bare stage with no instruments, yet managed to give the impression that this music was as slickly produced as the main attraction that followed.

That wasn’t an accident. That’s an art.

Rihanna’s First Headlining Show Dark And Steamy

Source: www.thestar.com - Nick Krewen

(August 06 2010) Welcome to her nightmares.  Psychiatrists would have a field day trying to figure out the meaning and the metaphors for what is going inside Rihanna’s head after what she unloaded on the Molson Amphitheatre audience Thursday night.

For her first headlining show, The Last Girl On Earth, the 22-year-old Barbadian R&B princess bombarded her audience with a steady stream of dark and apocalyptic imagery for more than half her 100-minute act.

In light of the domestic brutality she allegedly experienced at the hands of former paramour Chris Brown, a lot of the screened and mimed visuals were shockingly angry and violent.

With a tri-sectional video screen revealing the words “This is a dream, and when Rihanna dreams, they become real,” to the pre-recorded strains of “Mad House,” for the introduction, the two-time Grammy winner opened her show with the curious choice of “Russian Roulette,” a tear-jerking ballad on her fourth and recent album Rated R that is a tale of a dare with fatal consequences.

Dressed in an LED-beaded dark gown that literally lit up her body and physically transformed her into part of the light show, no sooner did Rihanna conclude “Roulette” when she was joined by six rifle-toting, helmeted dancers engaged in a Nazi march who “executed’ her by firing squad while dropping bombs filled the screens behind her.

The gunplay and war references didn’t stop there: the comely model, now wearing a flesh coloured, thigh-revealing leotard, donned her own helmet – albeit one with Mickey Mouse ears – for “Hard” and suggestively straddled the smoking cannon of a pink army tank located just off the front of the stage.

By the time the third song, “Shut Up And Drive,” had concluded, Rihanna had just bashed in the hood of a wrecked car with a baseball bat and was sporting a mischievous grin.

Apparently, she was just warming up, as the 15,000 in the audience—a 3:1 ratio favouring women to men – cheerfully egging her on. Following “Fire Bomb,” – with the molten electric guitar lead being provided by Extreme axeman Nuno Bettancourt, heading a seven-piece band – and an appearance by giant stilted monsters during “Disturbia,” Rihanna found it time to turn to her attention to something else: sex.

“Rude Boy” fulfilled that need, as four male “cameramen” tripped over themselves to video her while she posed seductively on a pile of TV sets.

The head-spinning array of bells and whistles more than made up for those who were hoping that lightning would strike twice with guest cameos by Rihanna superstar rap collaborators Eminem (the current chart-topping duet “Love The Way You Lie”) and Jay-Z (“Run This Town,” “Umbrella”), since both made surprise appearances at her former lover Drake’s hometown show Sunday.

Although this wasn’t in the cards, Rihanna did pull a page out of the Alice Cooper handbook with the appearance of gigantic stilted monsters that haunted and attacked her during “Disturbia.” She also borrowed liberally from Pink and dangled a pair of acrobatic dancers from machine-gun-shaped trestles for a bit of aerobic work during “Te Amo.”

There were also hydraulics galore, fireworks, a handful of costume changes and a parade of #1 pop hits – “Hate That I Love You,” “SOS,” “Wait Your Turn” and “Live Your Life”—with the occasional scent of dancehall thrown into the mix during the 23-song set list.

Distorted volume aside, the elaborate sophistication of Rihanna’s performance couldn’t have been more markedly different than the simple presentation of opening act Ke$ha.

While Rihanna stuck to being earnest, L.A.-born, Nashville-raised firebrand Ke$ha Sebert was the exact opposite: cheeky, trashy, escapist, and carefree.

Adorned in an Metallica t-shirt, gold hot pants and torn stockings and dedicated to frivolous fun, Ke$ha belted out mindless party anthems from her debut and only album Animal, highlighted by the #1 smashes “Tik-Tok” and “Your Love Is My Drug.”

Yes, her two shirtless male dancers – each sporting their own hot pants designed with the American flag – were incredibly tacky and over-the-top, but even though Ke$ha’s synthesizer-heavy dance pop seems to be tailor made for airheads, there’s enough contrived craftsmanship to suggest that she’ll be around for longer than a one-hit wonder.

By the time Rihanna rolled out the encore smash “Umbrella,” she had proven herself a worthy headliner and had taken no prisoners with her relentless sonic assault.

Still not convinced, though, that I’d want to meet her in a dark alley.

Neo-Soul Sister Nneka Cooks Up A Global Groove

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Brad Wheeler

(August 09, 2010)  The singer-songwriter Nneka, a journey-making artist of Nigerian and German heritage, is well known in Europe but has had minimal exposure in North America. That’s beginning to change, though.

The compilation album Concrete Jungle was released in the United Statesand Canada early this year, and the neo-soul singer recently completed a tour with rapper Nas and reggae star Damian Marley. She performs in Toronto on Tuesday.

The music

What Nneka terms a “mélange” is an expressive mix of pop, reggae, hip hop and African traditional music.
Fans of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and the work of Erykah Badu will appreciate its thoughtfulness, lilting soul-folk melodies and grooving rhythms.

Lyrics address political and spiritual concerns. “I would describe it as socially consciousness,” says the 28-year-old.

The refrain to the hypnotic rap song Showin’ Love defines life as being about “giving love, showing love, doing love, making love.”

And the Bob Marley-esque Africans tells Westerners to take responsibility for their exploitation of the developing world, while imploring Africans to stop blaming others for their plight.

“It’s about raising awareness about how Africans can make a change by realizing we have to eradicate a certain colonial mentality that has been imposed upon us,” says the singer, who was born and raised in Nigeria (her mother is German), “and that the inferiority complex that we’re still running around with has to be eliminated.”

The heritage

When it comes to artists with complex racial and cultural backgrounds, Nneka, who relocated to Germany at age 18 to study anthropology in Hamburg, is one of many these days. There is the Somalia-Canadian hip-hop troubadour
K’naan; the England-born Jamaican-Iranian pop-soul singer Rox; and the Sri Lankin Londoner M.I.A.

But although Nneka acknowledges the unique sensibilities a mixed-race artist may enjoy – “it does have an impact on the way people write and hear music” – she downplays any mysteriousness or inherent advantage.

“All musicians travel to different places and see the world, so I don’t know if it matters where you come from. I mean, there are many Americans who have colourful musical ideas.”

The mission

Nneka is no Madonna or Lady Gaga when it comes to showmanship. “I don’t know what entertainment is,” she says. “I just what do what I do – take it or leave it, that’s how it is. I do my act. I’m not there to please anybody.”

That being said, Nneka on stage is no shoe-gazing mope. And neither is she unthankful toward her fans. It’s just that she has little interest in the business end of the music business.

“For people to come and see me, of course, I appreciate it. People buy tickets to see me play – capitalism exists. We all have to earn money, et cetera, et cetera. But it’s music that I live. It’s music that I am.”

The concrete jungle

Themes of polarity dominate
Kneka’s lyrics. For example, the album title Concrete Jungle refers to two worlds: the artificial and the authentic, with the “plastic” United States being inauthentic in her eyes. “Everybody there is polite,” she explains. “But it’s what Malcolm X would consider tokenism and philanthropic.”

When it’s suggested to the singer that her assessment of America is overly sweeping and critical, Nneka apologizes – “I’m sorry,” she laughs. “Who am I to judge?” – before she rephrases.

“What I’m trying to do is bring the superficial and the natural together. To being the concrete into the jungle, and the jungle into the concrete.”

Nneka appears Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the El Mocambo in Toronto. 

We Remember: Funkadelic’s ‘Catfish’ Collins Dies at 66

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 11, 2010) *R&B/Funk guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins, a veteran of James Brown’s J.B.’s, Parliament-Funkadelic and his younger brother William “Bootsy” Collins’ Rubber Band, died of cancer last Friday at his home in Cincinnati, reports the AP. He as 66.

Bootsy Collins said in a statement that “my world will never be the same … Be happy for him, he certainly is now and always has been the happiest young fellow I ever met on this planet.”

Bootsy’s wife, Patti Collins, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Catfish “was a father figure to my husband. He’s the reason why Bootsy is who he is.”

Catfish, eight years Bootsy’s senior, suggested his brother put bass strings on an old guitar. After being recruited by James Brown, they played on such classics as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose,” “Super Bad” and “Soul Power.”

By 1971 they had left Brown’s employ, going on to form the House Guests and then joining Funkadelic in 1972 for albums such as “America Eats Its Young” and “Cosmic Slop.” Catfish remained with the group — which also lost guitarist Garry Shider to cancer in June — until the mid-’80s.

“(Catfish) was a hell of a musician,” keyboardist Bernie Worrell, who played with the guitarist in Funkadelic, told the Enquirer. “People seem to forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

Below, Catfish with the JBs in Paris, 1971.  Bootsy is on bass.

Video: Erykah Badu’s ‘Window Seat (Remix)’ Feat. Rick Ross

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 11, 2010) *Billboard.com sat down with a blonde, mohawked Erykah Badu backstage at Lollapaloozaover the weekend to talk about her new jewelry line, a career-spanning Badu documentary, performing at Lolla, the importance of Twitter, the reaction to her controversial “Window Seat” video, and more.

“It was a shocking thing that I did to create a dialogue about something that meant a lot to me – groupthink,” Badu says of the world’s reaction to the recent clip for “Window Seat” which featured Badu stripping down to nothing before being “assassinated” in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza where John F. Kennedy was shot.

“Generally, after you shed all the things that you have learned or that people tell you are real or that people tell you you are, you’re nude and vulnerable for assassination, and that’s what the video was about. You don’t have to agree with it… As a performance artist I like to create dialogue about the art… It’s very important for me to use the platform to be honest and creative at the same time.”

To that end, she r eleased a new clip just yesterday (Aug. 9) for “Window Seat (Remix) Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY),” that includes Rick Ross and features her fully clothed. [Watch video below the interview.]

New Donell Jones Album and Tour: Say What?!

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 11, 2010) *Good music is on its way to recovery with the return of Donell Jones. On September 28, hewill be releasing his newest album, “LYRICS” under an independent label CandyMan and E1. You may have heard a preview from the album, “Love Like This,” which is gaining popularity. “LYRICS” will be his fifth album, a follow-up to “Journey of a Gemini.” Not only is he releasing an album, but he’s off touring the country singing some of that new stuff and that old stuff. Find the dates below:

August 6th Jackson. MS Club Mardi Gras
August 13th Birmingham, AL Hot 107 Ten Dollar Concert Series
August 15th New York, NY Harlem Week
August 27th Seattle, WA TBA
September 4th Orlando, FL Tom Joyner’s Family Reunion Day
September 25th Houston, TX Radio One Family Fun Day
October 1 New York, NY The Paradise Theater

Donell Jones video Flashback:

Founding Producer Returns To American Idol

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(August 06, 2010)  LOS ANGELES — A familiar face is coming back to
American Idol, and it's not Paula Abdul or Simon Cowell.

Fox announced Thursday that British TV personality
Nigel Lythgoe is returning to the singing competition in the producing role he left two years ago.

Lythgoe originally served as Idol producer when it debuted in 2002. He left to focus on So You Think You Can Dance, the Fox dancing contest he executive produces and judges. Fox said Thursday that Lythgoe will continue on that show.

Lythgoe will rejoin Idol executive producers Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Ken Warwick and creator Simon Fuller on behalf of CKx Inc., which shares rights to the show with FremantleMedia North America. His return had been widely rumoured the past week.

“Since we launched the original Pop Idol in England, I've remained close with Simon Fuller,” Lythgoe said. “American Idol became a juggernaut of epic proportions, but to me it was always like home. I am elated and honoured to be rejoining childhood friend and fellow executive producer Ken Warwick, and look forward to creating more magic.”

The reunion comes amid sweeping changes for the show's judging panel. Cowell left at the end of last season, and Ellen DeGeneres announced last week she would not return.

Peter Rice, entertainment chairman for Fox Networks Group, declined to say Monday at a Television Critics Association meeting whether Randy Jackson or Kara DioGuardi would be back for season 10, which begins airing next January.

Other changes in store for the upcoming season include lowering the audition age eligibility from 16 to 15 years old, and Universal Music Group replacing Sony Music Entertainment as the label that develops, distributes and markets Idol finalists. The changes come after an edition which ratings dipped but not enough to knock Idol from the No. 1 spot.

Thursday's announcement did not specify if Lythgoe would possibly serve as a new Idol judge.

So You Think You Can Dance usually airs in the summer.

Immigrants Find A New Voice On A Canadian Stage

Source:  www.thestar.com - Nicholas Keung

(August 08, 2010) There wasn’t a multimillion-dollar contract with a record company. Simon, Randy or Ellen weren’t among the judging panel. A plastic trophy was all a winner would earn.

But that didn’t matter to
Mao Ke, one of five finalists in Canada’s inaugural Newcomer Idol competition. She may be unknown here, but she’s already a seasoned performer with three pop and classical albums in China, looking for a stage on which to shine in her new country.

Ke, who came from Guangzhou, China, four years ago to study voice at Toronto’s prestigious Glenn Gould School, was the first to be called on stage at Grange Park. Her number, “As Long as He Needs Me,” captivated the hundreds of spectators there on Friday as part of a street festival.

“That was fantastic,” responded Tarik Bacchus, one of three judges and an employee of University Settlement, an immigrant and social service agency, who has performed in rock bands himself. “You’ve forced me to be very picky. Your tone was just great.”

The agency advertised the contest among a network of 50 community groups, and eventually relaxed the rules to allow people to dance and play instruments as well as sing.

“Everybody has their own stories, their own issues,” Ke said of the 17 contestants who took part in the event. “The Newcomer Idol is a platform for us to make friends, share our experience and support each other. We are one community.”

Zarrin Biniaz, originally from Tehran, has also recorded two albums and performed in many concerts, including a handful since she moved to Toronto more than two years ago.

She found it hard to perform outdoors, she confessed. “I wasn’t very happy with my performance. I didn’t like the acoustics at all,” said Biniaz, who performed a Persian song with her own seztar, an ancient guitar.

The exotic number, “Birds Singing in the Morning,” won bravos from the audience, especially among Biniaz’s Iranian following.

“We’ve watched the American Idol and Canadian Idol on TV,” said fan Sara Jahan, who came with friend Roberta Urbon. “This is much better because it’s live. They have a lot of talent.”

Spectators’ votes counted for 50 per cent of the score.

But it was Yuan Wang’s performance of “Butterfly Lovers” with her er-hu — a traditional Chinese fiddle — that won the judges’ and audience’s hearts.

“It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. This is fun,” said the 18-year-old from Tianjin, who has been performing since she was a toddler. “Music is an international language. I’m glad that people liked the er-hu.”

Grey-Haired Headbangers Pledge Allegiance To '80s Rock

Source: www.thestar.com - Nick Krewen

(August 08, 2010) Their hair may be greying with time, their stomachs may be a little paunchier and their bodies may be sagging in a place or two, but their passion for loud guitars and '80s-era heavy metal remains unabated.

Last Wednesday night, these loyal maturing lieutenants were scattered among a hoi polloi of 250 admirers of various ages who braved a sweltering night at
The Rockpile in Etobicoke. Their mission: to pledge their allegiance to a triple bill of rock ‘n' roll journeymen.

In the house: Faster Pussycat, L.A. Guns and John Corabi, whose top moment in the spotlight was a brief stint as Mötley Crüe front man.

With memories intent on recalling the Toronto metal glory days of almost nightly concerts at downtown venues like Rock ‘N' Roll Heaven and The Gasworks and palates seasoned by such Sunset Strip originals at Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Dokken, W.A.S.P. and yes — L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat, led by guitarist Tracii Guns and singer Taime Downe, respectively — these loving warhorses of sleazy rock ‘n' roll are trying to keep a tradition alive.

And even though the decades since grunge and thrash brought the march of the glam metal movement to a virtual standstill, there still remains a cult following of folks that refuse to let the genre die.

“I just like metal,” declares Chris Harden, 33. “And I like the diehards who keep going. They've been around since the '80s and they're still here. Taime is still here.”

The Rockpile was opened just this year by some staff from, and a former owner of, the Big Bop, the celebrated — but recently closed — Queen Street rock bar.

For 41-year-old travel agent Rafael Lopez, the show there is a good chance to relive his youth. “They bring me back to the good old days, like when Rock ‘N' Roll Heaven was around. It was a party town.”

And not all of the music's fans are here for nostalgic reasons.

Marianne Sorbieckyj wasn't even conceived when Faster Pussycat and L.A. Guns released self-titled albums in 1987 and 1988.

But here she is, at age 15, her blond hair cascading over her oversized T-shirt, leather leggings and high heels, roaring with the crowd and dancing with abandon with her doting parents Jim and Belinda.

“I discovered Faster Pussycat in my parents' CD collection and just felt in love with the aggression and the attitude,” she says, rhyming off the titles she like best from the self-professed kings of sleaze rock: “House of Pain,” “Cathouse” and “Bathroom Wall.”

“This is music that really speaks to me,” she says with a smile.

The fact they've been around in different configurations for a couple of decades surprises both Tracii Guns and Taime Downe.

“Faster Pussycat has been playing longer than the both Led Zeppelin and the Beatles,” muses Downe in the tour bus shared with a dozen other musicians in the three acts. “Who'd have thought?”

Adds Guns, “The longevity is a niche thing — none of us ever expected to be as big as the Beatles. We all had hoped, but the reality is you've got to know who you are, what they're coming for, and be realistic, and have a good time.

“And rock ‘n' roll isn't rock ‘n' roll if you're aren't having a good time.”

Both L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat enjoyed most of their success over a four-year period, averaging sales of 500,000 copies of their first few albums and opening arena and stadium shows for headliners like Mötley Crüe and Ozzy Osbourne.

But they never reached the headlining stature of a Guns N' Roses (which Tracii Guns co-founded, hence the name) or a Mötley Crüe, and if there's any sour grapes, they're not complaining.

“The fact that any of us got record deals was kind of weird, as we were more into being part of this anti-pop metal scene,” Guns explains. Downe says bands like Faster Pussycat and L.A. Guns were “darker, dingier.”

“We wanted to bring this dark cloud of evil over the flashy pop scene,” he says. “We gave it a shot, but we just keep plugging away.

“We belong in the clubs and it's rock ‘n' roll — we get paid to go out there and yell and wear funny clothes. And it's great to get out of town, see the country, make a little money and have fun.”

The folks who love this type of rock are disenchanted with today's provocateurs.

“A lot of it is real easy to bypass,” says Harden, whose regular gig is a grocery store night manager. “I listen to it for about a week, and then I go back to the old stuff. It sounds like someone's trying to do what's already been done.”

For Rafael Lopez, he feels that today's rock bands have lost their sense of fun. “Back then it was more about just partying and having fun and sex and drugs and rock ‘n' roll, right? Today, it's fake.”

The Rockpile isn't the only venue to explicitly cater to these tastes: there's also the Hardball Café in Milton and the new Rock & Roll Heaven (borrowing the old rock venue's name) on O'Connor drive.

However, Steve Stanley, who has been operating Rock & Roll Heaven for five years, says the economy and last year's reduction of legally acceptable blood alcohol levels for drivers — from .08 to .05 —has hurt business.

“People aren't drinking as much and the numbers are slowing down,” says Stanley, who says he's “hanging on.”

“It's almost like the scene is dying again. There are so many rock bars dying — it's sad.”

Stanley says he averages about 100 patrons whenever he hires rock acts, and, uses the crowd at the Rockpile to illustrate how much the business has changed.

“You had to put three bands on the bill to get 250 people,” says Stanley. “Back in the '80s, you put one of those bands and you're going to get 300 people. You really have to work a lot harder now.

“They didn't make much money. By the time you pay the rider, the hotels, and by the time you pay out the three big bands, there's nothing left. It's definitely a different business — I'm telling you that.”

Lyle Lovett: Home Is Where The Art Is

Source:  www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(August 6, 2010) "I'd watch The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and wonder if that could ever be me," Lyle Lovett says of his childhood. "When you're a kid you think all your dreams can come true."

Don’t tell Lyle Lovett you can’t go home again, because he’s been doing it for years.

The maverick country singer known as much for his film acting as his musical work will appear with his Large Band at Massey Hall on Tuesday night and, like all Lovett performances, it will be a chance to savour the twin arts of musicianship and songwriting that anchor his career.

“Sure, I love music, but my whole life has really about this place, getting it back and trying to make it like it used to be.”

The 52 year-old Lovett is on the phone from his home in Klein, Texas, a town founded by his maternal great-great-grandfather, Adam Klein, and which the singer himself now admits “is really pretty much just a suburb of Houston.

“When I was a little boy, I remember a community full of vegetable farmers who’d come around and sell us what they’d raised before they took it to market. It was so quiet there, so peaceful. I loved it.”

Lovett remembers his parents going to night school when he was a kid, before they both started working for Exxon, while he “would just stay out there in the pines, with all my kinfolk. My grandfather was one of eight children, my mom was one of seven. It was a big family, that’s for sure.”

Almost everyone in Klein back in those days was from German stock and devoutly Lutheran. “I went to Lutheran school right there in Klein, starting with first grade in 1963. I’ll never forget how President Kennedy was shot that November. The climate that day in school. How solemn it was. And how sad that he had been shot in Texas.”

Lovett recalls his rigorous upbringing fondly. “We always started with morning devotions. Then the first subject of the day was religion. Studying the Bible and Bible stories. We had to memorize verses. Recitation was a performance and we were called on every day.”

You might not think of Lyle Lovett and Protestant theology in the same breath, but it has had a lifelong influence on him. “I was taught to worship a benevolent, omniscient Christian God and I still believe in that today. I believe that mankind, left to our own devices, doesn’t turn out very well. Human nature can be nasty and ugly, unless we’re inspired by the grace of God.”

But if religious studies had a strong influence on young Lovett, there was one discipline whose hold would prove even stronger.

“I remember being lined up against the lockers. One teacher would play piano and we all had to sing. The principal would walk down the line, listening for pitch. If you sang well, you stayed in the line. If you didn’t, he grabbed you by the shoulder and dragged you into study hall.”

You don’t have to be a psychic to guess that Lovett stayed in line and kept on singing. He also began to play the guitar, although he admits he wasn’t a natural at first.

“Changing chords seemed impossible at first. The first song I ever tried to learn was ‘Go Tell Aunt Rhody the Old Grey Goose Is Dead’. I remember it was in the key of G. Well, going from G to D was like a trip around the world. And forget about the F. That was impossible!”

Lovett kept pursuing his musical ambitions. “My parents both worked long hours, so they bought me a little 45-rpm phonograph. I’d sit in my room and play records and imagine I was singing along to them. I’d watch The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and wonder if that could ever be me. When you’re a kid you think all your dreams can come true.”

When the time came to go to university, however, he decided to study history and German. “I didn’t go in for the arts, because I didn’t think it was a realistic career path. Playing music was only something I did for fun.”

Lovett was to initially break into the music business through his songwriting, but even that happened accidentally. “I remember sitting down with records and trying to figure out chord changes and voicing and becoming so frustrated with trying to learn some things, I found it easier, to tell you the truth, to make something up instead. That’s how I started writing songs.”

After graduating from Texas A&M, he spent several years in Germany, but came to regret his absence from home during that period. “In 1980, my grandma died, and her home and most of the property surrounding it was sold. I always felt that if I had been there I could have done something, but I was so young and broke at the time, I probably couldn’t have helped much.

“But it became a crusade for me. I saved as much money as I could, and 15 years later, I was able to buy most of it back. That’s my home now and it’s staying in the family as long as I have something to say about it.”

His first album came out in 1986 and from the start, Lovett was a hard man to label. They tried to hang the “country music” label on him, but his work was much more from the singer-songwriter, Randy Newman-esque school, only with a profound sense of his Texas roots.

The latest Lovett album, Natural Forces, is a collection of some of his own most recent reflections on what it means to be a son of Texas, along with homages to other artists from the state who have inspired him. (See sidebar.)

Lovett remains disarmingly modest about his own work, while insisting that “I always try to write something that’s thoughtful and means something. I like the idea of writing something that will offer repeated listening.”

And when asked how autobiographical his material is, he calmly insists that “every song that I make up is like a mini-soundtrack to my life.”

Lovett also became increasingly famous during the 1990s for his film work, acting in Robert Altman movies such as The Player and Short Cuts.

“It’s only thanks to Altman that I embarked on that side of my career,” he maintains. “When you get a chance to work with a genius like that, you don’t turn it down.”

Hollywood also thrust him into the spotlight as the husband of Julia Roberts for two brief years, and all he’ll now say about that whole time in the tabloids was “it’s not something I’ve actively pursued since then.”

Lovett is happier touring, singing his songs for people who choose to hear them. He’s only got one rule that he follows faithfully, but it’s a good one.

“If I step up on that stage, I’d better have something to say.”

Lyle Lovett's Five Fave Musical Influences

Townes Van Zandt: He taught me about how much pain and suffering it can cause when you give your life to music. He also taught me that if you’re honest enough, it’s worth it.

Vince Bell: His lyrics lay it all right on the line. I respect him for that. He also had the courage to fight his way back from a terrible car crash.

Eric Taylor: He taught me that a story can become a song, if the story’s a good enough one to start with.

David Ball: He just keeps writing and singing and working, through all the highs and lows. There’s a lesson in that for me.

Walter Hyatt: Uncle Walt’s Band was an inspiration to me. I try to keep my Large Band together the same way. It’s just a damn shame he died so soon in a plane crash.

How Vanilla Ice Got His Fame Back

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 7, 2010) *Vanilla Ice, real name Robert Van Winkle, is set to star in a new reality show this fall titled ‘The Vanilla Ice Project.’

According to theboombox.com, the 10-episode series will premiere on the DIY Network and focus on the rapper’s home improvements skills as he renovates a nine bedroom, 7,000 sq. ft. home located in Palm Beach, FL. Sounds exciting right?

“Over the last 15 years, Rob [Vanilla Ice] has taught himself the basics of home improvement through hands-on experience,” said representatives for DIY. “In each episode, Rob demonstrates his vast knowledge in home renovation… He calls the shots in this room-by-room makeover series, exposing an entirely new side of the star – one that his fans never have seen before.”

Vanilla Ice has been involved in real estate since he was a teen. His current property ventures include buying, developing and selling.

“Financially I’ve made some pretty good investments in real estate. I just enjoy it. Yesterday’s history is tomorrow’s mystery, and I just get in where I fit in,” Ice said in a recent interview.

‘The Vanilla Ice Project’ is set to air on the DIY Network starting October 14.


Gordon Lightfoot To Tour Next Year

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
The Canadian Press

(August 08, 2010) TORONTO — Iconic folk singer-songwriter
Gordon Lightfoot has announced two weeks of shows in Ontario next year and is planning a more-extensive tour. Lightfoot will perform next May in Windsor, Cornwall, Brockville, Napanee and then play four nights at Toronto's Massey Hall. His shows at Massey Hall will set the mark for the most performances at the historic venue by any artist. Tickets for the tour range from $40 to $90. Lightfoot will also make a rare television appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman on Oct. 8. Lightfoot has won 15 Junos and five Grammys in his career and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame and Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Drake’s New Project

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 8, 2010) *Drake is on the move again, preparing to release a mixtape. His debut album, “Thank Me Later” certainly made top chart spots and sold millions, but that’s not enough for the blossoming artist. During the OVO Festival in Toronto on Aug. 1, the rapper told MTV news that he is just about done with his latest project. “Me and 40 working on it,” Drake said. “I got you. I think I got a great body of work with that tape. I’m gonna do it like I do all my other tapes. I’m gonna make a night out of it. Just make sure you’re on the ‘net that night downloading, and it’s yours. I feel the people deserve it.” The mixtape is not exclusive raw rap to mic type of stuff. Drake said the project will also feature a slew of R&B jams instead of hip-hop. “It’s hard for me to put out free rap albums these days,” he said. “So the best I can do is switch genres and put something out for free. It’ll be yours very soon.”

Teairra Mari Gets a New Album Idea

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 7, 2010) *Rising star, Teairra Mari was getting ready to release her sophomore album until most of her singles off the album leaked! So she’s scrapping the project and starting fresh with a new EP. ‘Sponsor’-one of the singles that dropped off the project earlier this year-was the last track heard from Mari until the recent release of the Warren “Oak” Felder-produced ‘Body.’ The song, which showcases Mari’s signature vocals, will appear on her forthcoming DJ Drama-hosted EP, ‘Sincerely Yours.’ The two singles are among the chosen tracks featured on her new effort, set for an August 17 digital release on iTunes. The un-heard tracks that remain to be released are ‘Uneasy,’ ‘Emergency,’ ‘Lucky,’
‘Operator’ and the bonus track, ‘Stranger.’

Singer Sean Kingston Starting Own Foundation

Source: www.samaritanmag.com - By Karen Bliss

(August 10, 2010) Sean Kingston, the “Beautiful Girls” hitmaker and co-star with Justin Bieber on the more recentEenie Meanie” single, is starting his own foundation.  “We’re actually creating the name as we speak right now,” the 20-year-old told Samaritanmag. “Basically, I’m going to me sending computers — lap tops — to kids in school right now in Jamaica. In Jamaica, the schools are kind of messed up. I plan to rebuild a lot of different schools and put in computers. We’re working it out right now.”  Full story HERE

Cover To Bieber’s Memoir Released

Source: www.globeandmail.com

(August 10, 2010) HarperCollins has unveiled the cover for Canadian teen pop sensation Justin Bieber’s upcoming memoir.  First Steps 2 Forever: My Story is slated for release on Oct. 12 of this year.  The cover to Justin Bieber's upcoming memoir. According to People magazine, “Fans can expect to read about Bieber's jet-setting lifestyle (performing in front of thousands on his world tour), his road to stardom (from viral video to meeting Usher in Atlanta) and personal anecdotes about his family and best friends. As an added bonus for those with “Bieber Fever,” the book, to be published by HarperCollins, will also include tidbits about the tween's love life, including his history with girls and his very first date.”  Bieber, from Stratford, Ont., was discovered on YouTubeand has rocketed to international fame. He is 16.

Will.i.am Gets a New Job – Director of Grammy Foundation

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 10, 2010) *Black Eyed Peas producer and group leader, Will.i.am has been officially named the director of the Grammy Foundation. He will now serve alongside singer/songwriter Darryl Brown, marketing professional Daniel Cherry, and CEO of Live Nation, Michael Rapino. Current president and CEO of the foundation released a statement on the new changes: “Now in their 21st year, both MusiCares and the Grammy Foundation are vibrant and mature non-profit organizations. Our Board members reflect this core strength, and we look to them for creativity and stewardship as we continue our growth. The talent and vision of our Board members is truly inspiring, and we are very fortunate to have highly respected individuals working with us.”

Chris Brown to Release New Album Soon

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 09, 2010) *The young star, R&B singer Chris Brown is picking up the pieces after his early drama and emotional performance at the 2010 BET Awards. As his fans and sponsors are slowly regaining his trust and finding their love for him again, he’s getting ready for his next album. He announced on Twitter that his new “album will come next year or sooner. He recently signed with one of the industry’s leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). After that emotional breakdown on national television, perhaps the world will take him back.

Nelly’s New Album

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 09, 2010) *Nelly is Gearing Up to release some more of that St. Louis love with his next upcoming album, “5.0.” He’s teamed up with some of hip-hop’s most eligible producers in the past and is back with Kelly Rowland for a follow up song, “Gone.” On the album title, “”It’s a lot of things,” he said in an interview. “It’s also my fifth drop date. It’s just the energy of it all. [The Mustang] 5.0 was always one of my dream cars. As soon as I had enough money to buy one of these mothafers, they stopped making these shits.” Along with his music news, his love life seems to be back in full swing, as he was spotted with old-time lover, Ashanti, at the wedding of T.I. and Tiny. “5.0” is set to be out November 16


Terry Crews - The Expendables” Interview

Source: Kam Williams

Hailing from Flint , Michigan ,
Terry Crews has not only one of the most recognizable faces around, but maybe one of the most recognizable physiques as well. The handsome hunk is currently one of the busiest actors in Hollywood , having a trio of flicks released in August alone, namely, The Expendables, Lottery Ticket and Middle Men. He’s also starring in Are We There Yet, the hit, new TV sitcom airing on the TBS Network.

Prior to entering showbiz, Terry attended Western Michigan University where he blossomed into a football phenom as a walk-on. Senior year, he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, and then went on to enjoy a six-year career in the NFL.

Since retiring from pro football, Terry has already compiled over 40 screen credits, including memorable performances mostly flexing his pecs in Training Day, Terminator Salvation, Street Kings, Get Smart, Idiocracy, Balls of Fury, Gamer, Starsky & Hutch, The Longest Yard, Deliver Us from Eva, Friday after Next, White Chicks, Malibu ’s Most Wanted, Click and The Benchwarmers. And on TV, he’s appeared on The District, My Wife and Kids, CSI: Miami , All of Us and Everybody Hates Chris.

Terry and his wife, Rebecca, a former beauty queen and Christian recording artist, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. The couple lives in L.A. where they are raising their five children.

Kam Williams: Hey, Terry, thanks again for some time.

Terry Crews: Oh, you got it, my man, how’re you doin’?

KW: Very well, thanks. Gee, your career has really taken off since the last time we spoke.  

TC: Brother, I’m hustling!

KW: Well, you deserve all the success that’s been coming your way. It’s especially great to see you get a chance to exhibit your range playing a lead in your very own sitcom after being typecast a lot in beefcake roles.

TC: Thank you. It feels kind of weird, because I feel like I’ve got this market all to myself right now, at least until some bigger dude comes along who’s funnier. They don’t even have a big, buff white with his own sitcom right now. 

KW: Do you feel a little funny playing Nick on Are We There Yet, given that the role was originated by the show’s executive producer, Ice Cube, who is also in the cast?

TC: Yeah, at first, I felt a little funny when I got the call saying they wanted me to play Nick who Cube played, because a lot of people liked that movie and I just didn’t want to be the one to mess it up. But the fact is, Cube has been validating me by letting me know that, “We want you to be you, just be Terry Crews and do what you do.” And the bonus of having him acting in the series kind of validates it and gives the show his stamp of approval.

KW: So, you’re not intimidated by the presence on the set of the actor who originated the role?

TC: No, no, never, never. The only thing intimidating about Cube is that he’s the father of gangsta’ rap. You just worry about getting your lines right, or he might shoot you. [Laughs]

KW: How’s it working opposite Essence Atkins who plays your wife?  

TC: Let me tell you, I always wanted to work with Essence ever since seeing the way she was doing comedy in Dance Flick. She’s so gorgeous, you had to wonder whether she’s willing to get a little ugly and whether I was getting a person I could really bounce off of. But she’s been great! And I just really feel blessed to be working with this entire cast and crew, it’s been like a family.  

KW: Well, one of your three movies opening this month is The Expendables, co-starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and Randy Couture. I’ve never seen so much beefcake in one movie. 

TC: I’m telling everybody, “Bring your deodorant to the theatre, because it’s going to be funky from all those dudes in there.” [Laughs]

KW: Was it a nightmare on the set with so many big egos to juggle?

TC: No, it was awesome! Look, there are egos everywhere. There was definitely a pecking order, and when Stallone walked in, we were like, “All hail!” He came in with his big forearms, pointing and telling everybody where he wanted the cameras with his big cigar ablazing, and you just go, “This is Stallone!” with admiration, because none of us would be here without this guy. That’s the thing, he changed movies forever. And remember how he wrote the first Rocky in a few days, and wouldn’t sell the script even though he was starving, because they wanted to put somebody else in the lead role. To see what he’s accomplished, dog, that’s what it’s all about.

KW: Did you learn anything from working with him?

TC: Yeah, he took me under his wing, and showed me a lot of what being a star is all about. It’s really about humility. He works the hardest. Like they say, “To be king of all, you must be servant of all.” He was out there doing everything.

KW: How was it making Lottery Ticket?

TC: I have the greatest appreciation for [producers] Matt Alvarez and Ice Cube. They put me in Friday after Next, and now this, which I hope is just the start of a long, wonderful relationship. I love the urban comedies, because they keep you famous, keep you having fun, and keep you in love with the business. Those are my roots. I’ll always love doing those.

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

TC: Wow! I think I’ve been asked almost everything. [LOL]

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

TC: Yeah, I’m scared of my wife. [Chuckles]

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

TC: Yes I am. I’m very happy. I’m doing what I love.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

TC: Yesterday, seeing how people were reacting at a screening.

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

TC: The Relationship Cure by this guy named John Gottman. It just talks about how to improve your relationship with your wife. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0609809539?ie=UTF8&tag=thslfofire-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0609809539

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

TC: Let’s see, it was “Forever” by Drake from that More Than a Game soundtrack.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LFAHDC?ie=UTF8&tag=thslfofire-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B002LFAHDC

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

TC: Hmmm… Christmas... I think I was about four years-old. Yeah, Christmas.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favourite clothes designer?

TC: Nana Boateng. Remember the name, He’s baaaaaad!

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

TC: I see a wrinkled head! [Giggles]

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

TC: Wow! That we would all be in Heaven.

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

TC: Have resolve! Just be resilient, and never, ever, ever stop!

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

TC: Buffalo rib-eye steaks, on the grill, is my favourite meal, seriously. It has less fat, more vitamins and more protein than beef. It is wonderful. Look, it was what the Indians ate, and they were very healthy. It’s very good meat.    

KW: The Boris Kodjoe question: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

TC: My family. When I look at my family, that’s all life means, right there.

KW: The Mike Pittman question: Who was your best friend as a child?
TC: My best friend is was a guy named Darwin Hall. And he still is my friend today.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

TC: Dessert. [LOL

]KW: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?

TC: By just being respectful and cool.

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

TC: Coming out of Flint , Michigan . I went back there recently to visit my parents. The city’s still deteriorating, which is very, very sad to see.

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

TC: Pasadena.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

TC: As a great father.

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

TC: Thank you, Kam, it was nice speaking with you again. Take care.

To see a trailer for The Expendables, visit HERE

To see a trailer for Lottery Ticket, visit HERE

To see a trailer for Are We There Yet?, visit HERE

To become familiar with Rebecca Crews Ministries’, visit  HERE

TIFF’s Canadian Picks About Beer, Brains And Dysfunctional Families

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

(August 10, 2010)  Canadian films at TIFF 2010 span the cranium from lunkheads to eggheads: Fubar hosers Terry and Dean are back, and there’s a documentary on science icon David Suzuki.

Michael Dowse’s Fubar II, the sequel to his 2002 cult comedy Fubar, reunites mullet-haired headbangers Terry (David Lawrence) and Dean (Paul Spence) for more beer “shotgunning” and garage band thrashing. The film will open the popular Midnight Madness program, which features cult and genre attractions.

Festival regular Sturla Gunnarsson brings Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie, a portrait of the Canuck scientist who, at 75, is still boldly going where his mind leads him. The film, screening as a Special Presentation, promises to reveal an unseen side of Suzuki as it explores his life and career.

The movies were amongst dozens of Canadian offerings announced Tuesday for the festival, which runs from Sept. 9 to 19.

Another special Canadian getting TIFF attention is the late Toronto actress Tracy Wright, wife of actor/filmmaker Don McKellar, who died in June of cancer. She co-stars with Molly Parker in Bruce McDonald’s Trigger, his saga of a rock duo who reunite a decade after their band split. The film, which will screen as a Special Presentation, also stars McKellar, Sarah Polley and Callum Keith Rennie.

Wright also has a role in You Are Here, Daniel Cockburn’s Canada First! selection about characters trapped in a series of bizarre social experiments.

Another Canadian Gala was included in Tuesday’s TIFF announcement: Jonathan Sobol’s A Beginner’s Guide to Endings, which follows three sons as they deal with their gambler father's complicated legacy. The talent includes Harvey Keitel, J.K. Simmons, Scott Caan, Paolo Costanzo and Wendy Crewson.

Canadians are all over this year’s Special Presentations program, which screens films that often prove to be more popular than the big-ticket Galas.

Besides McDonald’s and Gunnarsson’s films, the section now includes:

 • Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats): Xavier Dolan’s Cannes sensation about three friends, two guys and a girl, who explore their sensuality and friendship.

 • Incendies: Denis Villeneuve’s new work, following the Genie-sweeping success of Polytechnique, accompanies twin siblings on a Middle Eastern journey of family revelations.

 • Good Neighbours: Jacob Tierney reunites with his The Trotsky lead Jay Baruchel for a thriller set in a Montreal apartment building. Scott Speedman and Emily Hampshire co-star.

 • Repeaters: Festival fave Carl Bessai is also looking for thrills, with a harrowing saga of three young addicts in a rehabilitation centre.

This year’s Canadian Open Vault section features a restruck and restored print of A Married Couple, a masterful 1969 doc about the collapse of a marriage by the late Toronto filmmaker Allan King, who died last year.

New to TIFF this year is the Canadian Pack, a ticket package selected by TIFF programmers that offers film lovers exposure to Canadian talent with a selection of five new Canadian films for $80.

More information is available at www.tiff.net.

Isaiah Mustafa Swaps Tyler Perry Films

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 11, 2010) *Tyler Perry is playing musical chairs with the Old Spice guy.

Isaiah Mustafa, who was originally cast in Perry’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” is suddenly out of the film, and will instead play one of the leads in Perry’s next  “Madea” flick.

“I got a call from my manager a week and a half ago who told me that I was no longer in ‘Colored Girls’ and said I would be in ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ instead,” Mustafa told the Hollywood Reporter. “It was confirmed last Monday, and I left on Friday to begin filming.”

Alongside stars Loretta Devine (as his mother-in-law) and Bow Wow (as his brother-in-law), Mustafa plays Calvin, who is struggling with his marriage and family relationships. It has not been announced who will play his leading lady.

Mustafa has no clue why he was suddenly transferred, but remains grateful for the opportunity.

“I don’t know why Mr. Perry made the swap,” said Mustafa, who was not contracted to “Colored Girls.” “I didn’t ask him his reasoning. I’m just really happy to have gotten this role. It’s one of the leads, where in ‘Colored Girls,’ I would have been just been in one or two scenes.”

Filming began this week in Atlanta. Mustafa is on location through early September, when it is slated to wrap.

Below, Isaiah Mustafa’s new Old Spice ad, “Boat.”

A Cup Of Nostalgia, A Pinch Of Steam, A Dash Of Spaghetti Westerns

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Jennie Punter

(August 11, 2010) In his retro-groove saturated gumbo of a film Soul Kitchen, Hamburg, Germany-based Fatih Akin departs from the heavier fare that built his rep as one of that country’s most exciting young filmmakers.

While still in college, Akin turned heads with Short Sharp Shock (1998), about small-time immigrant gangsters. He put the pedal to the metal with Head-On, his fourth film and the first in a trilogy he calls Love, Death and the Devil. Head-On, which won the Berlin Film Festival’s top prize in 2004, tracks the volatile relationship of an alcoholic widower and a self-destructive young woman trying to escape her conservative immigrant family. After the documentary Crossing The Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul, Akin delivered The Edge of Heaven (second in the trilogy), which won the Cannes best-screenplay prize in 2007.

In Soul Kitchen, a lovelorn Greek restaurateur (co-writer Adam Bousdoukos) hires an eccentric new chef (Birol Unel), and his floundering Hamburg bistro becomes a hot spot – until he makes his recently paroled brother (Moritz Bleibtreu) manager. Recently, Akin revealed some of the secret ingredients of Soul Kitchen, which is already a European hit.

How did soul music and exotic cuisine come together? Is the restaurant based on a real place?

The idea was to do something where music defines the rhythm, so the whole film feels like a wild DJ set. I love all kinds of music, but Hamburg is known as a soul town, so it made sense for the film. With Head-On, I started the system of writing to music, so I know what music I’m going to use to hit the emotional level the scene needs. It’s also practical because we can calculate the music budget accurately. The other thing is, Adam had a restaurant [bought after he starred in Short Sharp Shock] for 10 years. At night, he would mix on two turntables and it became a club. It was the melting pot of our social life, with artists hanging around. So we wanted to put our nostalgia into a film with music.

How did you decide what to put on the menu?

After a lot of research, we discovered Aphrodite by [Chilean writer] Isabel Allende, all about food you can cook, and then, after you eat it, make love. The recipes were so interesting, so we got permission to use dishes from that book. And that’s where we got the idea for the orgy scene were the chef puts too much aphrodisiac in the dessert.

Did Birol Unel need some training in chef techniques?

Well, he likes to cook and often invites me for dinner. His food tastes good, but he gets cuts on his hands and the kitchen looks like a war zone. So he was very offended when I told him: Listen, I think you need a coach. Even though he studied for a month, we had to use a hand double a few times.

Did you feel sometimes like you were making a cooking show?

My cameraman and I discovered it is very tricky to shoot food. It’s like shooting action scenes, it’s all about choreography and visual information. Most of the stuff you see doesn’t taste great. You have to use hairspray and lots of light to make food look good. So many times we would look at rushes and the food looked muddy – you did not want to eat it. And also, in the scenes where food is being served, we had to have steam. You do one take and the food isn’t steaming any more. We lost a lot of time.

Moritz Bleibtreu, who plays the brother, starred in a couple of your early films.

They were comedies, but since then he became a serious dramatic actor. I think he’s even better in comedy. When I’m with Adam, people think he’s Moritz – it happens a lot. They look too similar, so the only chance to get both in one film was to make them brothers. I was thinking of those Bud Spencer-Terence Hill Italian spaghetti westerns I loved in the 1970s when I was growing up.

So now that you’ve made a buddy comedy, what about Hollywood?

I’m trying to finish a documentary called Garbage in the Garden of Eden, about the village of my grandparents in Turkey. And I am writing something about boxing, and the third part of the trilogy, which involves a lot of research because it’s a period film. We have a state-supported industry here, so we don’t have studios forcing directors to do this and that; we can express ourselves the way we want. I’ve had some offers of interesting stuff, and maybe I’ll make [a film] there for the experience, but right now I’m following a plan, so it makes sense to continue here.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Soul Kitchen opens in Toronto on Friday, Vancouver on Aug. 20, and in selected Canadian cities to follow.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Gemma Arterton - But I Don’t Always Want To Be Princess Of Something

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -


(August 08, 2010) Call her the Not-It Girl.

For the past few years, the English actress
Gemma Arterton, 24, has been on a trajectory that Hello! magazine dreams are made of: graduation from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts; roles in a gritty Guy Ritchie movie (Rocknrolla) and a frothy Richard Curtis one (Pirate Radio); starring as Elizabeth Bennet and Tess (of the D’Urbervilles) on British TV. Then (drumroll), the break that every starlet fantasizes about: playing Bond girl Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace.

Arterton rolled in flagrante with Daniel Craig, and yes, it was good for her. Hollywood and its mega budgets came calling. In Clash of the Titans, she got both a death and a resurrection scene – setting her up for the sequel, which she’ll film next year. In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, she intoned mystical prophecies like a pro. It appeared that a new It Girl had arisen.

Except for this small hitch: “I don’t want to be an It Girl,” Arterton said in an interview in Toronto last week. “I didn’t plan to be in those types of movies. I’d always seen myself as a character actress. I felt, God, I’ve got to do something about this, otherwise I’ll forever end up being Princess of Something. Or not forever – you don’t have much shelf life that way.” My guess is that Megan Fox, whom Arterton resembles a little (light eyes, dark hair, full mouth), would concur.

So when the script for her new drama, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, came her way, Arterton jumped. (It opens in select cities starting Friday.) It was the opposite of what she’d been doing. It’s a micro-budget indie from a first-time writer/director, J. Blakeson. Instead of sprawling, it’s claustrophobic: three characters, two sets, one taut set-up. Vic (Eddie Marsan, who played the raging driving instructor in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky) and Danny (Martin Compston) kidnap rich girl Alice (Arterton) and hold her for ransom in a sound-proofed house. But no one is exactly who they seem, so each plot twist adds a layer of complexity. And instead of playing princess, Alice is stripped naked and slapped around. She screams, she swears, her makeup smears. Her hair’s a mess.

Naturally, Arterton’s handlers tried to talk her out of it. “I had to put my foot down,” she said.

To whom? “To the powers that be,” she answered, laughing. “I’m not saying anything more! But Alice was exactly what I was looking for. I’d felt quite frustrated that I hadn’t actually acted for a while. This reminded me why I’m in it. I’d become quite jaded making those Hollywood movies.”

“ If I had a zit it was like the whole studio went into meltdown ”— Gemma Arterton

The setting for our interview was a kind of metaphor: We were at the Thompson Hotel, Toronto’s latest stab at Hollywood-style hipness. But bizarrely, we were stuck down in the barely finished basement, in an isolated, echo-y conference room. “Isn’t it nice – they’ve tried to make me comfortable by recreating the set of my movie,” Arterton joked. The betwixt-and-between-ness made me wonder how anyone gets loaded onto the It Girl conveyor belt, and how scary it is to step off.

“I’ve always been quite naive and wide-eyed about everything,” said Arterton, who grew up in Kent with a younger sister and their single mother, a cleaner. “I loved acting, but I didn’t expect to earn money from it. Especially for the first two years, I jumped on everything I was offered.

“Then Bond came along, which is just like, you’ve got to do it,” she continued. “Then with the other movies, people say, ‘You should really do this, this is an important movie.’ You think, ‘Oh, yeah.’ But it’s surprising who actually does go for these roles.” Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes headlined Clash of the Titans, after all, and Sir Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina starred in Prince of Persia for megaproducer Jerry Bruckheimer. “You think, ‘There must be some integrity in it.’ It’s weird when you’re surrounded by giants – massive names, the most successful people in the film industry – and I felt like nobody. It can be quite overwhelming.”

But after spending three hours in the makeup chair every morning, having hair extensions put in, being pressured into the gym to work on her arms – “and if I had a zit it was like the whole studio went into meltdown” – Arterton found herself wondering what she was doing there. “I’m so not into that,” she said. “It’s so boring. And I find it so uncomfortable when people say” – here she slips into a honking American accent – “‘You’re so hot! You’re so hot right now!’ ” She shakes her head. “It freaks me out, actually. Finally I realized I don’t have to do everything they offer. I can be selective. I don’t have to go the Hollywood route if I don’t want to. Not that I wouldn’t do another movie like that, because they are fun. It’s just, there are no rules.”

Doing Alice Creed, however, “felt like how it should be,” Arterton said. “Working with other people really intimately. Concentrating on the text. The thrill of doing good work, of transforming, and understanding the psychology of a character that you aren’t. Also it was so fun, because we were all in it for the right reason. There were no grand designs: It wasn’t going to become the biggest-selling movie of all time, it wasn’t going to win an Oscar. It was simply that we had to do it, for ourselves.”

It was the right move. The perception of Arterton has shifted. The roles she’s getting offered, and the directors offering them, have risen artistically. Her next film, Tamara Drewe (she’s the title character), is a comedy directed by Stephen Frears; it will premiere at TIFF and then open in October. This fall she’ll take the London stage in Ibsen’s The Master Builder, opposite Stephen Dillane. She’s got movies in development with directors Michael Winterbottom, Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) and Alan Rickman.

“That’s the conveyor belt I want to be on,” Arterton said. “Actors are supposed to play people who are real, from real life. For me, it’s so important to stay in contact with what’s real, so you can use it. I think often in Hollywood, people are so surrounded by unreality. I live at home, in London” – with stuntman Stefano Catelli, whom she married in June – “and I don’t really hang around actors or live the life, so I can see what’s happening much easier than when you’re living in that bubble.”

She’s pretty clear-eyed about what’s happening now. “Of course, everybody’s like [American accent], ‘We’re so happy you did that movie, it’s fantastic!’ ” Arterton laughed, but she doesn’t care who takes credit for it. As long as she doesn’t have to be It.

Wahlberg and Ferrell Exhibit Chemistry Aplenty as Mismatched Partners in Over-the-Top Comedy

Source: Kam Williams

I guess scriptwriting isn’t a lost art in Hollywood after all, given the profusion of hysterical punch lines delivered in this unlikely-buddy comedy co-starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. The howl-inducing screenplay comes courtesy of an inspired collaboration between Chris Henchy and Adam McKay, and marks the fourth time Ferrell has been directed by the latter (along with Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers).

As the film unfolds, we meet recently-demoted NYPD Detective Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) in the wake of an embarrassing incident in which he accidentally shot a silhouetted Derek Jeter in the leg while guarding the tunnel to the Yankee Stadium clubhouse. Now, the itchy, trigger-fingered cop has been reassigned to desk duty where he finds himself being mercilessly teased by fellow officers (“You should have shot A-Rod!”) while working in tandem with Allen Gamble (Ferrell), a nerdy accountant who has never spent a day in the field.

Polar opposites, Hoitz is chafing at the bit to return to a beat, while pencil-pusher Gamble is perfectly content to remain stationed inside police headquarters. Initially, their hard-boiled boss’ (Michael Keaton) is determined to keep them under his watchful eye. However, his resolve is shaken when the department’s most high-profile heroes, Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson), make a fatal miscalculation while in hot pursuit of a couple of perps.

In urgent need of replacements, Captain Mauch grudgingly orders the mismatched new partners out on patrol together. And as they proceed to get acquainted while cooped up in prissy Gamble’s city-issued red Prius, the pair’s awkward exchanges prove nothing short of priceless.  

For instance, when macho Hoitz gruffly rebuffs an overture of friendship by tossing the gift out of the car window, the unfazed Gamble responds with, “I’m going to climb over that anger wall of yours one of these days and it’s going to be glorious.” Just as hilarious as the badinage, moreover, is the slapstick, such as when they brake too late when rushing to a crime scene only to end up screeching to a stop right atop a chalk-outlined corpse.

Narrated by Ice-T, the film features a whodunit revolving around our hapless protagonists’ efforts to crack a Ponzi scheme hatched by a shady British bloke (Steve Coogan). Still, make no mistake, that quest to bring the hooligan to justice takes a back seat to humour in what is basically a zany buddy vehicle. Each of the leads also has a love interest, with as much mirth being generated by Gamble’s dysfunction marriage to emergency room physician (Eva Mendes) as by possessive Hoitz’s displays of jealousy around his ballerina girlfriend (Lindsay Sloane).

Ferrell at his funniest!

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, crude humour, sexuality, violence and drug use.
Running time: 107 Minutes
Studio: 20th Columbia Pictures

Dolph Lundgren: Tough Guy Flexes His Brain Power

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(August 09, 2010) Swedish action guy Dolph Lundgren has turned medieval, gone postal and opened up cans of whoop-ass more times than he can count. But that’s only in the movies.

Confronted with trouble in real life, this 6-foot-5 blond enigma prefers to use his brains rather than his brawn.

“First of all, most guys don’t give me any trouble,” said Lundgren, 52, during a recent Toronto visit to talk about The Expendables, his new movie, opening Friday. The look in his eye means he’s not kidding.

“And second, you can talk yourself out of most situations. You don’t have to fight. Your mind is stronger than any muscle.”

Lundgren is actually a lot smarter than most people give him credit for, much to his frustration. He has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney. He was once awarded a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He decided early in life he enjoyed acting more than lab work, but his roles have invariably cast him as a walking muscle. He’s best known in North America as Soviet bruiser Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, the 1985 Sylvester Stallone fight sequel in which Lundgren muttered his much-quoted shrug-off, “If he dies, he dies.”

Lundgren teams once again with Stallone in The Expendables, a gang’s-all-here actioner which also brings in fellow tough nuts Jason Statham, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and, in an eye-blink cameo, Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger.

Two rough gents notably missing from this rogue’s gallery are Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. Why aren’t they in the film, which Stallone also directed and co-wrote?

“That would have been fun,” Lundgren agreed.

“That would have been the ultimate. I think Stallone spoke with them. But with Willis and Schwarzenegger and Mickey Rourke and all the rest of us, there were already so many people. It would have been overkill. I think it’s enough right now.”

Worrying about “overkill” in a movie like this is like fretting about getting a hangnail after Titanic struck the iceberg. Lundgren does give this stuff a lot of thought, however. He happily took the role of Gunner, a sniper with more loaded in his rifle than his noggin, even though it perpetuated an image of him that he’d prefer to see in the rear-view mirror. He just wanted to play with his old buddies and friendly rivals.

“I’m getting a little bit tired of it,” he admitted. “My roles have really been the same, and nothing really happened in my career. I don’t know what happened, but it was some kind of cosmic energy that I ended up in this film.”

What really jazzes Lundgren now is directing. He’s been moving more behind the camera since 2004, when his direct-to-DVD terrorist thriller The Defender came out. He also starred in it, playing a hero named Lance who has to defend the U.S. from terrorists.

“Directing helped pick up my career,” Lundgren said. “It felt good, like I was getting somewhere. Now I want to direct something in Sweden. That’s closer to me that just a regular shoot-em-up movie, but you’ve got to start someplace.”

His only problem is the same old problem: People can’t see him as thinking with more than his fists. They probably also can’t think of him as a family man, even though he’s been married for 16 years, to Swedish jewellery designer Annette Qviberg. The couple has two daughters.

“Yeah, it’s happened a lot, and it still does,” he sighed about the typecasting.

“When you see an action guy, you can’t imagine that he’d be intelligent and smart about directing.”

But Lundgren knows he’s not alone with his same-old, same-old dilemma.

“Even a guy like Clint Eastwood had trouble. Now that he’s 80 years people accept him, but they still see him as a cowboy somehow, even though he composes, he’s like a jazz pianist. It doesn’t compute for many people, but guys like him have done it, and so has Stallone. I’m trying to do it, too.”

Lundgren likes working with Stallone, and he wouldn’t presume to tell him how to make a movie. For The Expendables, which may become a franchise, Sly is definitely the guy in charge.

“He’s the engine behind the whole thing. I like working with Sly. We have a special relationship, I think. He kind of sees me differently than I do. When he writes something for me, it’s different from when I write something for me.

“He doesn’t necessarily say, ‘I want it exactly this way.” But he may say, “I want to be like this in this scene.” And then how you get there, it’s up to you.”

Lundgren didn’t have to work too hard to get ready for The Expendables, because he always stays in top shape. Despite his reluctance to always play the heavy or the hero, you never know when a guy like Stallone will make him an offer he can’t refuse. He does martial arts to keep limber, but age takes its toll.

“It is tough,” he admitted. “It takes more effort and it doesn’t get any easier. But I think martial arts for me have really helped. It’s all about moving the body, keeping it flowing. It’s not just one-dimensional or two-dimensional.”

You have to wonder, if Lundgren resists being seen as a muscle guy, why he didn’t just stick with his test tubes and lab coats instead of going into acting. He revealed that he chose acting to avoid becoming a small-town hermit.

“Yeah, sometimes I think about what would have happened if I’d chosen science instead of acting,” he said.

“But I don’t think it was really in the stars. Acting helped to make me more expressive. I was smart, but I kind of clammed up in the small town of Sweden where I come from. I think by becoming an actor, and maybe by directing now, I know more about life, you know?

“I’m very happy about my life.”

Can Joan Rivers Still Talk?

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Stephen Cole

(August 11, 2010) Nothing travels faster than a speeding comedian. The critically acclaimed documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, is a mere 86 minutes long. But in it, the fast-talking, 77-year-old comedian somehow manages to cover her entire career – the wilderness period doing stand-up in Bob Dylan’s Greenwich Village; her breakthrough on Johnny Carson in 1965; the good and the lean years; the facelifts; the night she partied with Marilyn Monroe.

Hold on. The night she partied with Marilyn Monroe? Joan, can we talk?

“Sure,” Rivers says over the phone from Manhattan, pronouncing the word, like most native New Yorkers, in two syllables: Shoo-uh.

“It was a 1951 dinner party. I was a first-year English student at Barnard. My father was a doctor and so was the guy who hosted the party. Marilyn was very shy, so they sat her next to the least threatening person in the room – me.”

Growing bold as the night progressed, Joan Molinski (Rivers’s given name) found the courage to advise Monroe that she, too, hoped for a career in show business.

“ ‘Honey, let me tell you a secret,’ Marilyn told me,” Rivers continues, adopting Monroe’s feathery voice. “ ‘Men are stupid and they like big tits.’ ”

“That’s still true,” Rivers adds, suggesting that she’s spent her entire career proving overconfident men wrong. “Oh, my first agent, listen to this, this is in 1965, he told me that I was too old – too old!”

“ I didn’t want a puff piece ”— Joan Rivers

That was a week before her triumph on Carson’s Tonight Show, a breakthrough that led to two seemingly prosperous decades.

But the illusion of prosperity was shattered when her husband-manager, Edgar Rosenberg, committed suicide in 1987, leaving Rivers unexpectedly broke. Joan has been on the comeback trail ever since – hustling jewellery on specialty TV channels; critiquing award shows and their red-carpet guests for cable networks; taking home the crown on Celebrity Apprentice; appearing everywhere, and, all too often, anywhere.

A Piece of Work, which opens Friday, includes a segment in which Rivers travelled to Wyoming for a club date. It was a prospect that alarmed her. “When I say, ‘Where are the gays?’she jokes in the film, “they’re going to say, ‘Dead, we killed them.’ ”

The comedian, who has been too old for 45 years and counting, says she agreed to participate in a documentary – being followed by cameras for 14 months – because she wanted to prove to the world that she’s still standing.

“I didn’t want a puff piece,” she says. “The girls’ last film was on Darfur,” she notes, referring to filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s The Devil Came on Horseback. “I knew they were serious. And I wanted a serious film about my life, about a person who has been knocked down and picks herself back up. Again and again. That’s what life is.”

Rivers hopes the film is also a blow against ageism – “The world hates old people, it’s true” – but that doesn’t mean she’s above old-people jokes. “Viagra, that’s so dangerous,” Joan laugh-shouts in the documentary. “He’s got a 36-hour erection. She’s all dried up. My God, they could start a fire.”

Rivers balks at any insinuation that she’s the Queen of Mean, insisting she merely says in public what dishing girlfriends say in private.

Does she think her reckless candour means she won’t be beloved, the way comedians Bob Hope and George Burns are beloved? “Probably not, but who cares?” Rivers fires back. “Beloved has nothing to do with being lovable anyway. Bob Hope was a miserable son of a bitch.”

Curiously, Rivers’s indelicacy has made her an admired figure to one particular demographic. “I’ve always had a big gay following, it’s true,” the performer allows. “When I was performing for no money in Greenwich Village in the early sixties, gay people were my only audience, the only ones who laughed.”

Why do gays appreciate her? “Because I’m different and I tell the truth,” Rivers says quickly and with passion.

Although crowding 80, Rivers remains a frantic, electrifying performer. It’s all still there – the verve, the timing, the pith, the vinegar. She’s still so good, so funny, that you hate bringing up the “R” word.

“You retire when the audience stops laughing,” Rivers says. “At its best, being onstage, performing well, it’s like everyone falls in love. No, it’s true. Me, the crowd, all of us together, we fall in love. If you’ve ever seen my show and I say ‘I love you’ to an audience, I really mean it. I don’t always say it. But when I do, it’s true.

“Listen, I don’t want to go to lunch with people,” Rivers says. “I don’t want to take cooking lessons. I want to be onstage, making people laugh. That’s where I belong.”

Special to The Globe and Mail


Video: Trailer for Denzel Washington’s ‘Unstoppable’

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 9, 2010) *The trailer for “Unstoppable” rolled onto the Internet over the weekend. Loosely inspired by real events, the film stars Denzel Washington as a seasoned train conductor who must team with his rookie counterpart, played by Chris Pine, to stop an unmanned, runaway freight train…or as Pine’s character puts it – “to run this bitch down.” Rosario Dawson also stars in the Tony Scott-directed action thriller, due in theatres Nov. 12.


Taraji P. Henson to ‘Rough’ it in Next Film

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 9, 2010) *Taraji P. Henson has been cast in the Gyre Entertainment sports drama “From the Rough.” The story is inspired by Dr. Catana Starks, the first female head coach of an NCAA Division 1 men’s team. Henson would play Cassandra Turner, a fictionalized version of Starks. In the film, Turner uses a successful stint as coach of the women’s swim team at a historically black college to help her get support to build the men’s golf team. With available black players scarce, she scours Europe, Australia and Asia to construct a uniquely multi-racial team. Pierre Bagley directs and produces from a script by Michael A. Critelli. Shooting begins off early October in New Orleans.

Video: Ving Rhames Back for ‘Mission: Impossible IV’

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 9, 2010) *Ving Rhames revealed last week that he’s returning to his “Mission: Impossible” character in the upcoming fourth instalment of the franchise. In an appearance on “Lopez Tonight” to plug his current film, “Piranha 3D,” Rhames said he’ll reprise his role as Luther Stickell in Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible IV,” joining star Tom Cruise for the fourth time. J.J. Abrams is producing and Brad Bird will direct the action thriller, scheduled for a December 16, 2011 release. Watch Ving Rhames’ appearance on “Lopez Tonight” below. Production is set to begin in September.


Reese Witherspoon To Play Singer Peggy Lee

Source:  www.thestar.com - Star staff, wire services

(August 10, 2010) You can’t say “Is That All There Is?” about Reese Witherspoon’s career. She’ll play jazz great Peggy Lee in a Nora Ephron-directed biopic, writes Daily Variety. This isn’t Witherspoon’s first time taking on the role of a famous singer. She won an Oscar in 2005 for playing June Carter in Walk the Line alongside Joaquin Phoenix, where she did all her own singing as the country star. Variety reported earlier that Witherspoon secured the rights to Lee’s story from the singer prior to her death at age 81 in 2002 and has decided the movie’s story will focus on the personal and professional life of the jazz singer. The blond Lee, who had a cooly sexy stage presence, endured a difficult, often-abusive childhood and was married four times. She started out singing with Benny Goodman’s band in 1941 and went on to record more than 40 hit singles, including her signature tune, the frankly sexual “Fever.” She was nominated for an Oscar for 1955’s Pete Kelly’s Blues.

Upgrade: Bow Wow to Co-Star in New Tyler Perry ‘Madea’ Film

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 11, 2010) *
Bow Wow is trying to hold on to his bit of fame as he continues to land acting gigs. He just got a new one in Tyler Perry’s next film, “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family.” Adapted from his stage play, Bow Wow and the lovely Loretta Divine will co-star alongside one another as a son and mother pair, while Old Spice hunk, Isaiah Mustafa, will be the brother-in-law Devine who attempts shares some life changing information, but seems to keep getting interrupted. The movie will be out in theaters on April 22 of next year.

::TV NEWS::\

Matthew Perry Back In A Familiar Arena

Source: www.thestar.com -
Rob Salem

(August 07, 2010)  LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - Matthew Perry vividly remembers his first trip to an arena.

“It was in Ottawa, and it was a concert, and I don't want to tell you who was playing,” recalls the former Friend.

Right. Like we're going to let that one slide.

“It was Culture Club,” he finally relents. “That was my first concert. And please say, if you print that, that I'm not proud.”

Perry, who turns 41 next week, is not proud of several things: His movie career, for one. And that bout of bad behaviour near the end of Friends that drove him into rehab, and his Porsche into the front of some house in the Hills.

He is very proud of Friends, and the short-lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. And especially proud of his new show,
Mr. Sunshine, an ABC mid-season sitcom that is by far the funniest and best-liked pilot of the TV critics preview tour, with Perry good-naturedly moping his way through it as the manager of a sports and concert arena owned by an antic, pill-popping Allison Janney.

And he's proud of himself, at least as much as he'll allow himself to be, not only as its star, but also a producer and writer.

“I'm really enjoying it,” he says, surrounded at a table by the clash of accents that is the Hollywood foreign press. “I'm having a lot of fun doing it. It's a whole new experience for me. I feel like I'm using my entire brain, which is nice.

“The toughest thing I'm learning . . . you have to be a multi-tasker, and I'm not that. So I have to try to become that.”

Perry's own life crises and ongoing growth are reflected in Mr. Sunshine, both the character and the show. “It's an interesting road for somebody to go on,” he says, “changing terrible behaviour to being a better guy. I knew if I wrote something, I would like that to be a component of it.

“I haven't had a mid-life crisis, really. I don't know if there was a real epiphany. But it's a journey I'm familiar with, being very selfish, and then trying to not be any more. To try and be a better guy.”

It would also, in a sense, take him back to his youth in Ottawa, where he was raised by journalist Suzanne Morrison, a former Trudeau press secretary. And back to the arena.

“I loved going to places like that as a kid,” Perry brightens. “It was just this amazing place, and an exciting night out. I went to a lot of games at the Forum with my dad . . . very positive memories.”

And a natural setting for single-camera situation comedy.

“You have to think of a workplace where a lot of exciting things can come into it, a lot of crazy things,” he says. “If you go online and look up Madison Square Garden, or the Staples Center, and you click on ‘Events,' you'll just be amazed at what they do there.

“You've got Bruce Springsteen on one night, and then lingerie football on the next. Ice shows and '80s concerts . . . all of these characters coming in. There's a lot of comedy that comes out of that. I hope.

“It certainly opens it up to a lot of great guest-star stuff . . .

I don't want to use that, though to sort of launch the show. I'd rather people get to meet (the ensemble), to really be comfortable with them and know that they like them.”

One of those people being Allison Janney, with whom Perry briefly worked on The West Wing, and for whom the over-the-top role as the arena's owner was created.

“That's one of those rare examples of writing something for someone and actually getting them,” Perry says. “We never had any casting sessions or anything. I was just hoping she'd say yes, because it would be such a pleasure to write some things that she would say, because she's so good.

“As an actor, it was probably a mistake, because she's better than I am. I see that all the time. It's like, ‘Oh, you're working on a whole other plane of existence.' But as a producer it's fantastic.”

This is Perry's second run at a self-produced series — last year he collaborated with Rescue Me's Peter Tolan on a pilot, The End of Steve, in which he played an obnoxious talk-show host. Showtime ultimately passed on what Perry acknowledges was “a darker piece.”

Mr. Sunshine, on the other hand, brings into play some of that snappy, self-deprecating charm that made us want to have Chandler Bing as our Friend.

“The hope is that I bring some likeability, I suppose,” he shrugs. “We could not do a show where he was just a selfish jerk. No one would watch that.”

Bet On Boardwalk Empire To Be Quality TV

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(August 09, 2010) LOS ANGELES - If I were a betting man, I’d put everything I had on Boardwalk Empire, the Prohibition-era gangster drama that debuts on HBO Sept. 19.

In terms of audience-addicting, inevitably Emmy-showered, feature-quality television, this is as close as it gets to a sure thing.

It all came together, as these things tend to, in the writers’ room, with series creator and former Sopranos scribe Terence Winter.

“I was always interested in the 1920s and the gangster world in general,” he told critics last weekend at the fall preview tour. “Toward the end of The Sopranos, HBO came to me with a book that Mark Wahlberg and his partner Steve Levinson had optioned, Boardwalk Empire, a history of Atlantic City. And they said, ‘Why don’t you read it and see if there’s something in there that feels like a series to you?’

“And almost literally on the way out the door, they said, ‘Oh, and by the way, Martin Scorsese is attached to this if you find a series there.’

“And I said, ‘I assure you I will find a series here.’”

Martin Scorsese. Mean Streets. Goodfellas. . Gangs of New York. The Departed. Throw in Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfathers, and the gangster flicks of the 1930s and ’40s, and you have the entire history of American organized crime on film.

Except for the 1920s. “It was an era,” says Winter, “that hasn’t really been depicted often in cinema, and almost never in television. (There were) massive changes going on in 1920, prohibition, the women’s vote, broadcast radio coming in, World War I just having ended, the ’20s about to boom. It was just this incredible pallet from which to draw stories and characters. It was just irresistible.”

It had been just as irresistible to Scorsese, who besides executive producing, signed on to direct the pilot: the filmmaker’s first foray into series television.

“What’s happening now,” he explained, “in the past nine, 10 years, particularly at HBO, was what we had hoped for in the ’60s, when films were being made for television at first. And we hoped that there would be this kind of a freedom and also the ability — this was the thing — the ability to create another world or really the long form of developing character in a story, narrative. And that didn’t happen.”

And now it has. “HBO has really been the trailblazer in this,” Scorsese says. “The extraordinary series that they’ve had . . . thoughtful, intelligent and brilliantly put together. I’ve been tempted over the years to be involved in one of them because of the nature of the long form and the development of character and plot. It’s a new opportunity for storytelling, really, which is very different from television in the past.”

Though Boardwalk Empire’s sweeping saga of crime, corruption and social upheaval incorporates such notorious real-life figures as Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein and Al Capone, the man at the centre of it all was Enoch “Nucky” Johnson — here renamed Thompson — the canny, string-pulling New Jersey politician who controlled Atlantic City’s various vices with an iron hand and an incongruously sentimental heart.

And as far as Winter and Scorsese were concerned, there was only one man who could play him: Steve Buscemi.

Buscemi was more surprised than anyone. Physically, there was no resemblance whatsoever: “If anything, Terry tells me, he looked more like Jimmy Gandolfini,” the actor allows.

But, perhaps even more to the point, Buscemi has almost never, in an extraordinarily prolific and colourful character-acting career, been cast in the role of leading man.

“It was a very interesting idea, that Steve would play this part,” Scorsese says. “We got to work together briefly in New York Stories and I always wanted to work with him again. I love the range he has and his dramatic sense, but also his sense of humour. And there’s something that’s very, very strong on camera.”

“This is one of the best parts I’ve ever had in my life,” Buscemi marvels. “I mean, only in my wildest fantasies or dreams, you know . . . when I first read the script, I could tell from page one that this was, you know, this was the man. And it was sort of terrifying in a way, but also so exciting.

“It’s so much fun to play a role like this. Really, every day going to work is a pure joy.”

I had suggested to him, earlier that morning, that this was probably the first time in his career that he might actually end up getting the girl.

“You may be right,” he grinned. “Most of the time I end up chasing her with a knife.

“Did they even have wood chippers in the 1920s?”

Heeere’s Johnny, New And Improved On The Web

Source:  www.thestar.com - Dave Itzkoff

(August 11, 2010) In one of his last Tonight Show monologues, in 1992, Johnny Carson informed his audience that a virus had struck the program’s computers, wiping out “29 years of our writers’ material.”

“Three of the best jokes you’ve ever heard in your life,” he said. “Gone forever.”

Now, nearly two decades later, that gag and more than 3,500 hours of Carson’s Tonight Show have been preserved digitally and will begin making their way onto the web.

On Wednesday, the Carson Entertainment Group announced the start of two new projects that will give Carson an Internet presence he has never had before.

The first is a rejuvenated Carson website, at www.johnnycarson.com, that will feature video clips from the 30-year history of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

The second is an online archive — available at first only to industry professionals — where users can search a digital inventory of Carson’s program and watch nearly every surviving minute of his Tonight Show run.

“We have taken everything that exists,” said Jeff Sotzing, the president of Carson Entertainment and a former Tonight Show producer. (He also happens to be Carson’s nephew.)

The company has long contemplated the possibility of making its Tonight Show videos available online, Sotzing said. But “the technology has really not been there,” he said. “You could put it online, previously, but you could not put everything online. We wanted to make it accessible all at once.”

Not much from the first 10 years of Carson’s Tonight Show (he took over in 1962) has survived, having been destroyed in an era when no one contemplated the possibility of home video. But the existing tapes, along with a complete library of shows from 1973 on, were kept in storage — and this is not a joke from a Carson monologue — in a salt mine in Kansas.

During the past year, Deluxe Archive Solutions, a media preservation and management company, has digitized and transcribed these materials, using a labour force of about 2,000 people, the company’s vice president, Tyler Leshney, said.

The result is a web archive where users can call up countless moments of television history with just a couple of keystrokes. Almost instantly you can find the Tonight Show broadcast from May 6, 1981, on which Carson first welcomed a comedian who had “worked a lot of small clubs both in New York and Los Angeles” named Jerry Seinfeld; the April 18, 1986, program on which Carson surprised David Letterman by having Letterman’s beat-up Chevrolet pickup truck taken from his Malibu home to the Tonight Show stage; and the penultimate May 21, 1992, show on which Bette Midler identified herself as “the last fool Mr. Carson will have to suffer gladly.”

For now this password-protected site (licensing.johnnycarson.com) is intended only for media companies that plan to use the clips for commercial purposes. But Sotzing said he hoped to make more of its contents available to the general public eventually.

In the meantime, the johnnycarson.com site will feature between 40 and 60 video clips — from Ann-Margret’s spirited performance of “I’ve Got the Music in Me” to an appearance by Myrtle Young, the potato-chip lady — that will be updated to reflect current events. And there’s more to come, including a new Tonight Show DVD collection that Carson Productions plans to announce later this year.

Eventually, Sotzing might even be persuaded to post the clips in which Carson affectionately chided him by name from behind his Tonight Show desk.

“You can search my name on the database and listen to Johnny rib me,” Sotzing said. “The writers liked that.”

There’s Life After The Wire For ‘Stringer’ And ‘Omar’

Source:  www.thestar.com - Tim Goodman

(August 10, 2010) BEVERLY HILLS—When the last day of the Television Critics Association summer press tour rolled through on Saturday, it brought with it a lengthy list of compelling series and specials from HBO, BBC America and National Geographic. But it also brought back memories for fans of The Wire and those who believe in great acting.

That’s because
Idris Elba, who played gangster-businessman “Stringer” Bell on The Wire will headline a much-talked-about BBC detective series called Luther. And later in the day, Michael Kenneth Williams, who played Omar, the Robin Hood-style gangster in The Wire, showed up in clips for one of the most buzzed-about series of the fall, HBO’s epic Boardwalk Empire, about Prohibition in Atlantic City.

Both actors still inspire awe for what they were able to accomplish on The Wire, one of the most acclaimed series in the history of television. Elba, a Brit, seamlessly concealed his accent in his portrayal (to the point where, years later, it still seems odd to hear him talk with his native accent). And Williams was brilliant as the much-feared and fearlessly out gay thug Omar, who robbed drug dealers and kept to a code that left “civilians” out of the line of fire. He stayed in the series until the final season because his character resonated with fans and any plans to write him out were quickly scrapped.

Both have gone onto film work and Elba has shown up periodically in NBC’s sitcom The Office. He also has a recurring role as Laura Linney’s lover in Showtime’s upcoming cancer drama, The Big C.

And yet they both return in vehicles that will undoubtedly be highlights of the fall season. Elba stars as Det. Chief Insp. John Luther in the six-episode BBC series, where he’s a “brilliant but self-destructive murder detective” who is drawn to a female serial killer he can’t seem to figure out or stop.

Williams plays Chalky White, an ex-boxer and the “de-facto mayor of Atlantic City’s African-American community.”

Luther (which begins in the U.S. on Oct. 24; there’s no word if BBC Canada will pick it up here), created by author and MI-5 writer Neil Cross, will have a much lower profile in the United States, mostly because BBC America is still a remote outpost for viewers. But it might be an opportunity for rabid fans of The Wire to seek out another glimpse of Elba.

Boardwalk Empire, on the other hand, could end up being a mass-appeal hit along the lines of The Sopranos. It was created and written by Emmy-winning Sopranos writer Terence Winter and the pilot was directed by Martin Scorsese, an executive producer who said Saturday he’d love to come back and direct more episodes.

The series (premiering Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. in both the U.S. and Canada) has been one of HBO’s highest profile developments. It stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, the Atlantic City politician-gangster who was at the centre of the frenzy of Prohibition illegality.

“One of the things that was interesting about this era and this character, in particular, is that Nucky really moved seamlessly between the worlds of politics and organized crime, and his white collar corruption slowly gave way to actual hands-on violence that ensued with Prohibition,” Winter said. “Again, it was almost too good to pass up if you were corrupt and had a corrupt bone in your body and you happened to run a town that was on the ocean. It was almost impossible not to be involved in illegal rum-running during Prohibition. And also, if you weren’t predisposed to do that, people would kill you to get you out of the way so they could do it.”

The series was inspired by Nelson Johnson’s non-fiction book, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City. Winter said more than 90 per cent of the series is historically accurate and he believes there’s enough story to carry the series, if it’s successful, through many seasons.

Whatever brings us more of Williams works out just fine. And maybe Elba can appear in future seasons.

Paul McCartney Keeping Himself Gleefully Busy

Source: www.thestar.com -
Ashante Infantry

(August 06 2010) Word is that Paul McCartney, erstwhile Beatle and one of the world’s most lauded composers, may appear on the hit TV show Glee.

“I was in my New York office and my people in the office said that the people at Glee had rung up and maybe wanted to use my songs,” confirmed the legendary performer in an interview with the Star.

“I said, ‘the Beatles songs?’ They said, ‘No, your songs.’ So, I said, ‘That’s great. Let’s do that.’ That’s the connection so far; I don’t know if it’s going to come off, but I think it’s a good show. This might sound a little patronizing, because (at the time) I hadn’t seen it, but I thought, ‘Well, it’s a hit with the kids,’ but I actually saw a couple of episodes and I think it’s a pretty good show.”

Well, if Glee doesn’t work, American Idol is looking for a new judge.

“No, I’d have to give up my day job for that. I don’t think my shaking it up stretches to that,” McCartney said.

The brief phone chat took place earlier this week as McCartney drove himself through a U.K. suburb.

“I’m on hands-free in the car on a country lane and lord knows if the signal will hold,” he said. “I’m actually going to pick up my little 6-year-old daughter for a movie date.”

The done-it-all, seen-it-all 68-year-old billionaire who isn’t touting a new album on the tongue-in-cheekily titled Up and Coming 2010 Tour returns to the Air Canada Centre this Sunday and Monday with the same band he played with here in 2005.

“They’re a good band; we get on well and we enjoy playing together,” he said of his nearly decade-long band comprised of guitarists Brian Ray and Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and keyboardist Paul Wickens.

“I am very lucky, because I always have a lot of side projects on, so I get to shake things up,” he said. “I have a sideline called The Firemen, I do orchestral music . . . In fact I’ve just come from my studio where I’ve been on the computer with a music program doing some orchestral music, which is probably going to be for a ballet. I’ve been doing that for the last four hours. So, all those things shake it up.”

And he’s ready to begin the follow-up to 2007’s Memory Almost Full.

“I’ve been writing a bunch of songs and I’m thinking about who to work with now, so I’m looking around for a producer. Like you say, if you want to shake things up, that’s the kind of area you can think, ‘Well, what would happen if I work with so and so?”

There’s no particular theme yet, but McCartney’s got a few new tunes banked.

“More often than not, you just pick up a guitar, or sit down at the piano when the mood strikes. The latest songs I’ve been writing, I found myself with some time off just in the mornings for a few hours. So, I’ve been getting in a routine of just sitting down at the piano, or with the guitar by my side and just plunking around seeing if something comes, and often it does. So, I’ll spend the next couple of hours just working on it, then I kind of leave it alone and try again the next day. That’s what’s been happening on the latest bunch of songs, but it can happen anyway.

“One of my most famous songs, ‘Yesterday,’ was a song that I dreamed. I woke up one morning and I’d actually dreamed that melody. That was a pretty lucky dream.”

In June, McCartney performed a batch of his other famous tunes for U.S. President Barack Obama, during his first White House visit and performance for a sitting president. He also became the first non-American to accept the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He rated the event as a highlight in a life filled with highlights.

“We had some great things in the early days, playing for the Queen, later playing on the Ed Sullivan Show and many great concerts in between, but this was a particular high, because I’m a big fan of the President and his family.

“I was a supporter before he got elected, so it was a great evening for us, very special, quite emotional. Those of us who lived through the ’60s and saw the struggles over civil rights were very gratified to find ourselves in the White House with the first black president. And I think he’s a great man, smart, steady. He’s got a hell of a lot on his plate, unfortunately; he’s been dealt a very bad hand, but I couldn’t think of a better man to handle it.”

Has Oprah Winfrey Lost Our Love?

Source: www.thestar.com -
Sarah Barmak

(August 07, 2010) Is the Queen of Daytime dead?

The Oprah Winfrey Show heads into its farewell season this fall, its summer ratings have plunged steeply. The 56-year-old host averaged a rating of just 2.9 at the beginning of July — she had never fallen below 3.0 before in her remarkable 24-year-run on daytime television. Though she inched up again at the end of the month, she was still down 21 per cent from her average this time last year — and she's being clobbered in her time slot.

Oprah is waiting to launch her own cable channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network, in January, featuring shows by the likes of Rosie O'Donnell. Is the star simply entering a lame-duck period before her network takes off? Or is there something rotten in Oprah's empire?

“If you look at the cycles in American television, with anyone who reaches 20-plus years, a fatigue sets in,” says Ron Simon, curator of television and radio with the U.S. Paley Center for Media, who figured she would see a jump in her final weeks. “We just experienced that with Law & Order that just went off the air.”

Other TV critics aren't so sure. Oprah's talent was making people feel as if their voices and their struggles were somehow being heard, says Jeff Jarvis, author, blogger and journalism professor at the City University of New York.

Now, social media satisfies our need to connect more than a TV show ever could, he says — echoing remarks made by Meetup.com founder Scott Heiferman this week.

“Part of this is, we don't need Oprah,” Jarvis says. “If it's human connection we crave, we can get plenty of it ourselves on Facebook.”

Oprah has struggled to maintain a compelling online presence, unlike other celebrities. “She is a creature of broadcast,” says Jarvis. “The connection that she understands with people is one that is mediated by the camera.

“You've got to understand the power of the public in a whole new way. She doesn't do that, she tells you how to run your life.”

Her image has also suffered when the internet has let her audience give feedback. Witness the recent flap over Zach Anner, a young man with cerebral palsy whose charismatic bid to win his own show on Oprah's OWN channel looked to be winning, until it was suddenly and strangely quashed on her website.

Hundreds of thousands of internet users, musician John Mayer among them, came out in Anner's support. A meme was born: “Oprah Hates the Handicapped.”

Others say her empire — O magazine, protégés like Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray — has eclipsed her. “When does the brand ‘Oprah' supersede the person ‘Oprah'?” says William J. Moner, an editor of University of Texas at Austin's journal of television studies, Flow. “Is this person strictly commercial, or can she truly connect with an audience the way she did before?”

For someone who often acts as an arbiter of ethics and authenticity, Oprah may also have been duped once too often by guests with hidden agendas — from fake memoirist James Frey to Herman Rosenblatt, who fabricated a Holocaust story. Could she be losing her credibility?

Jarvis says she never had any. “This whole movement on TV of trashy people making horrendous confessionals just so they can get on TV, which later became synonymous with Jerry Springer, Oprah started. When others started doing it and went far farther, for whatever reason, she pulled back. The new Oprah was this kind of saviour of the world.”

Oprah's obsession with “real” problems arguably also made her a forerunner of reality TV, says Jarvis — ironically, since she's now been surpassed in the ratings by
Judge Judy, which airs in the same time slot as Winfrey's show in many markets including Toronto.

Judge Judy is much more reflecting of the cable networks, the much more opinionated, in-your-face kind of thing,” Simon says. “That's part of reality culture. (Oprah's) style is not in vogue right now.”

Another theory is that Oprah has gotten too divisive after endorsing (and leveraging her fan base for) Barack Obama in 2008 — possibly alienating rural, Republican voters.

“She's part of the red and blue debate in this country,” says Simon.

Certainly, Oprah and other TV stars have lost their captive audience to the endless niche choices of the internet and cable. Where there are fewer competitors (such as Saudi Arabia, where she has exploded in popularity in recent years) her hold's still unparalleled.

“Is she also the last big broadcast star?” says Jarvis. “There is so much choice and so much abundance, no one is going to stand out.

“There'll never be another Oprah. There'll never be another personality across that kind of audience because they'll never be a collective audience that large again.”

Daytime of your life

Memorable moments from The Oprah Winfrey Show's run:

1986: A gaunt Liberace appears on the show, two months before his death.

1993: Michael Jackson attempts to explain the state of his skin by claiming he has vitiligo.

2004: Oprah teases her 276 live audience members a bit before revealing that each has won a new car. Near-religious celebrations ensue.

2005: Tom Cruise jumps on her couch to proclaim his love for Katie Holmes.

2006: James Frey, author of the fraudulent memoir A Million Little Pieces, is invited back on show for a dressing down from Winfrey.

2006: Having endorsed him, Winfrey has Barack Obama on the show along with his wife Michelle. During presidential election campaign that ensued, she didn't have him back — nor did she invite his rivals on the Republican ticket, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

The End Of TV’s Bad Good Guy?

Source: www.thestar.com -
Bill Brioux

(August 07, 2010) BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.—The TV anti-hero has been kicking butt and taking names for about a decade. Tough characters like Tony Soprano, Vic Mackey, Tommy Gavin, Dexter Morgan, Patty Hewes and Walter White have all pushed the envelope of how far a central character can go while, at the same time, maintaining the sympathy of the viewer.

These are all characters from cable TV shows, where fewer adult content restrictions allow writers to dive into darker areas. Dexter, about a blood splatter specialist who splatters blood in his own disturbing pursuit of vigilante justice, could never air on broadcast television. A serial killer you can root for is about as anti- as you could possibly get in a hero.

Yet even on the major networks, characters like torture-happy counter-terrorist Jack Bauer have been all about shoot first, ask questions later. Bauer was a hero, but pretty much crossed the line and then erased it to achieve justice.

Bauer, however, has worked his last bad day and 24 has been cancelled. At the semi-annual network press tour, TV critics got a sense that a sea change was underway, that the anti-hero was on the outs.

“We did the anti-hero for all those years,” says Robin Green, executive producer of CBS's new police drama
Blue Bloods. “And I became very interested, sort of as a curative after The Sopranos, to find out what a hero is today.”

Green and her writer/producer/husband, Mitchell Burgess, spent several seasons working with David Chase in the writers' room on The Sopranos. Their new series stars Tom Selleck as the patriarch of a New York City police family, a commissioner whose dad was a cop and whose two sons are among New York's finest.

Selleck, of course, spent eight seasons on Magnum, P.I.. While Thomas Magnum was complex (for an '80s action series), he certainly wasn't running around killing cops like The Shield's Vic Mackey.

CBS so wanted Selleck to star in Blue Bloods they agreed to shoot it in New York instead of Toronto and met several other conditions, including letting the star continue his series of Jesse Stone movies. The actor is as close to an old school, John Wayne-style screen hero as TV has today.

Michael Chiklis, who played ruthless cop Mackey, is back on network TV this fall in the ABC series No Ordinary Family. The Emmy winner plays a police sketch artist who takes his family on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the jungle only to fly into a storm and crash into a river. Radioactivity somehow gives them all superpowers, turning this show into a live-action version of The Incredibles.

The actor, a father of two, seems happy to be involved in more family-friendly fare. “My children have watched the pilot and absolutely loved it,” he says, “and if you want to see some violence, watch my previous show.”

Peter Tolin, executive producer of Denis Leary's New York firehouse drama Rescue Me, is proud of his show but says his next series will not feature a dysfunctional, tortured anti-hero.

“It's been seven seasons of that and you just want to do something different,” Tolin told critics last week at press tour. The writer/producer has made the choice to seek projects that “say good things about life and people, that are a little more positive. And that may seem odd, but it's just a reaction to spending so much time on the other side of it.”

For his part, Selleck is delighted to help tilt Blue Bloods in a more positive direction.

His police commissioner is flawed — “most heroes are,” says Selleck, “that's what interests us as actors” — but he's glad he's essentially playing a good guy.

“I think this a family of heroes,” he says. “This is still adult drama — it isn't Little House on the Prairie — but I think it has a taste that people are going to find refreshing.”

There Is Nothing Empowering About The Cougar Phenomenon

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Lynn Crosbie

(August 9, 2010) Can cougars with fibreglass nails disembowel an antelope?

Please remit this and other questions to Dylan McDermott, former star of The Practice and now being showcased in Dark Blue, who was – strangely enough – in the news on the weekend for revealing that he dated two “cougars” as a teenager.

McDermott, who has long been dogged by gay rumours, has told a truly controversial tale, whether he intended to or not.

The women were 30. He has just lowered the tacitly understood age of sexual desperation by 10 years, and he was 15. So, technically, that is not “dating” as much as “raping.” The good times occurred on Fire Island, where his father owned a bar.

After several years, the word and the concept “cougar” is still going strong, if changing for the worse, and the better.

The worst first: A friend of mine was walking home from the gym the other day when she noticed a stationary, greasy, combed-over ferret-being, staring. “Cougar!” he hissed.

I realized when she recounted the story that the term I thought was played out is still being modified and is now also a coarse synonym for a woman over 30 who is possibly sexually active and, ergo, revolting.

A few months ago, Cougar Town’s executive producer, Bill Lawrence, pledged to change the name of the show. He recently changed his mind, even though the story lines do not involve Courteney Cox chasing that wealth of man beauty: skinny, shorts-wearing guys in their 20s with no jobs who clean themselves with yellowy towels and use their sinks as bidets.

Being hot and twentysomething is virtually the exclusive domain of the female, the girl-woman Bob Dylan immortalized as aching and faking like a woman; as breaking like a little girl.

We all know the girl: She is so much more mature than she seems, according to many the lumpy, old man. Is she less legally blind? I always ask, eyeing their shiny heads and melon bellies.

But we don’t know the man-boy: outside of an aspect of queer culture and Germaine Greer’s dirty mind (she is the author of the coffee table stroke book The Beautiful Boy), no formidable woman – and no, Erica Jong and Colette are not formidable – has ever made the older woman/young man combo less disturbing, less evocative of cologne-dipped fancy men rifling through their bedridden old-woman wife’s handbag.

This is sexism, of course. We have long known that older women are, as Simone de Beauvoir observed, the “third,” or invisible, sex.

On the other hand, small, limping speckle-headed slugs everywhere are squiring young, gorgeous babes to fine restaurants, where she will tie a lobster bib around her sweet daddy’s neck, even if they’re eating turf.

He doesn’t even have to be rich! I guarantee you that every ancient, fugly, stache-combing cop and fireman in every city has a Bombshell McGee on deck; almost every nebbish professor; every man with a house, car and pulse.

And so what? Ladies, if you like to redefine the term “soft core” every night; if heads of healthy hair repulse you along with flat chests; if you like grooming auricular hair and raising another woman’s angry children, who are we to disagree?

Women’s failure to stop confusing authority and sexuality is our problem, not the fault of the men involved. (Common sense is at issue also. Ask yourself, girl: Would he like you if you were his age?)

But now that men – and women are so much more vile on the subject – are so easy with terms like tramp, cougar, hooker (and so on, the terminology is commonplace and way raunchier), one finds oneself wondering: Where is that feminist protectorate that used to call foul during this long, twisted game?

There is nothing empowering about the cougar phenomenon. Look at Lucia, the hostess of
cougarchannel.com, on YouTube. There she stands, made up like a clown with a stack of yellow hair and a pale-blue dress revealing ample, tired breasts, expostulating on “classy” ways to be a cougar. Beneath her? Reams of vicious comments, and among them the most piercing: “so sad.”

The cougar dating and sex sites are barely a step removed from old lady fetish porn; the contents unbearably sad for all of the hollow posturing.

Still, the world is changing, a little bit. Very rich and powerful women are dating younger; young and powerful women are dating men their own age – Jessica Simpson recently rejected Jack Nicholson’s advances as grotesque, a landmark decision in Women vs. Moobs.

And, ultimately, women can speak for themselves: Female derision, that fearsome thing, can always stop an unctuous ignoramus in his tracks. (My friend’s catcaller ran away whimpering after she was done with him.)

On the planet Fabulous, we may date age-appropriately, or not, but we will stop hating women so much! Every woman out there calling another woman worse names than Mel Gibson on a Tape 4 roll: Ain’t you a woman?

Then again, it was Gibson who said (screamed, panted) at his much younger girlfriend: “I need a woman! Not a girl with a defective...”

Madman? Or the voice of desperate reason?

You tell me.


Mary Hart Leaving ET After Upcoming Season

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The
Associated Press

(August 7, 2010) NEW YORK — Longtime Entertainment Tonight host
Mary Hart is leaving the show after her upcoming 30th season. Hart said Thursday that it's time for a change, but she'll be leaving with mixed sentiments. It's not clear when her last day will be, but a television season traditionally ends in May. The former English teacher from Sioux Falls, S.D., joined Entertainment Tonight in 1982, working most prominently with John Tesh. She's kept the job as the entertainment news industry grew around her. ET is the original entertainment newsmagazine and still leads in the ratings. No replacement has been named. One potential candidate is Lara Spencer, who anchors ET's sister broadcast, The Insider.

How Oprah Wooed Rosie for OWN Talk Show

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 10, 2010) *As previously reported, Rosie O’Donnell is returning to daytime television with her own talk show on the Oprah Winfrey Network when it launches next year. Oprah Winfrey tells TV Guide Magazine that she “reached out to Rosie, went to her house, sat at her table and had a conversation about partnering. I always thought that she was one of the best television talents in terms of being authentic and real and fun and presenting her genuine self.” The hour long, New York-based chat show, described as “fun and uplifting, with Ms. O’Donnell’s playful and energetic style,” will be more reminiscent of O’Donnell’s Broadway-loving syndicated The Rosie O’Donnell Show than her politically charged stint on “The View,” TV Guide reports. OWN, backed by Winfrey and Discovery Communications, premieres January 1.


Theatre Festival Gets Off To A Musical Start

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Robert Everett-Green

(August 7, 2010) Font sizes can tell a story. The words “theatre festival” are way tiny on SummerWorks current logo, and the annual arts shindig’s website gives its music offerings as much prominence as the plays. And why not? SummerWorks is making a serious bid to be a summer beacon for indie music.

The Hidden Cameras launched the songful side of the fest in theatrical style on Thursday, with the first of two shows. A small posse of miming actors and a swirling array of projections occupied the foreground and background respectively, while singer Joel Gibb and his band performed their latest album, Origin: Orphan, from the slender stage area.

Like the band’s previous works, Origin: Orphan gnaws over questions that can sound like nightmares (“who’s going to love you when you’re old?”), while affirming the need to party now. It negotiates the jagged places where freedom and desire scrape up against each other, with varying shades of maturity and assumed innocence.

Underage actually proposes a lovers’ game of juvenility: “I’ll pretend you’re seven, you pretend I’m eight.” Gibb seems at once to be trying to retrieve the mentality of childhood, and perhaps to rewrite his experience as a boy who had to accept and assert his gay identity.

Utopia plays a big, if sometimes shadowy, role in these songs. I was puzzled by the title of In the Na, one of the real ear-worm indie songs of the past year, till it occurred to me during Thursday’s show that “the Na” (as in “hold me close in the Na”) is perhaps based on n/a, for “not applicable,” meaning a zone of otherness where straight rules don’t apply.

The band wore a virtual uniform of T-shirts and denim cut-offs or castaway shorts, like boys in a superannuated dream. When Gibb came off the stage, he hopped around with the frisky energy of a kid who couldn’t wait to jump in the lake at 7 a.m. But kids don’t ask themselves, “Am I slave to desire?” You’ve got to be trampled a few times by runaway passion to get to that level of introspection.

The music of Origin: Orphan has a tragic sweep at times, and even its apparently light-hearted tunes have a core of serious feeling. Gibb’s search for pop hooks sometimes gets the better of him: He Falls to Me, my least favourite tune in this collection, runs a tiny scrap of melody into the ground within its first minute.

The band filled up the audible spectrum with a dense, controlled array of keyboards, guitars, violin, trumpet and drums, with choral effusions at peak moments. I’ve never been keen on Gibb’s strident, horn-like voice, but it somehow suits his freedom-desiring yet control-hungry lyrics.

The eight actors enacted various kinds of repression and exclusion in the first half of the show, and a more party-oriented freedom in the second. The turning point came when performer and mayoral candidate Keith Cole shucked off his dour black poncho and dressed up in drag. I’m not sure all the dumb show enhanced the songs as much as the videos did; they sometimes hogged my attention to no evident purpose.

SummerWorks’ music series continues every evening at the Lower Ossington Theatre, though the main indie goes on next door at the Performance Bar. There, the improv trio National Theatre of the World is hosting short sets by the likes of Maylee Todd (Friday), Ghost Bees (Saturday), Laura Barrett (Sunday), Colleen and Paul (Tuesday), Grand Analog (Wednesday) and Bob Wiseman (Friday, Aug. 13). Truly a magnet for bargain-hunting music lovers, since all Performance Bar shows are pay-what-you-can, or free with a ticket to the main theatre. I caught part of one song by pop-cabaret-star-in-waiting Allie Hughes, whose sense of fun has no hidden agenda.

The Hidden Cameras play the Ottawa Folk Festival Aug. 13-15. SummerWorks continues at various locations through Aug. 15.


Phylicia Rashad Coming to DC’s Arena Stage

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 10, 2010) *Phylicia Rashad will open Arena Stage’s new Mead Center for American Theater this fall in Washington, starring in “Every Tongue Confess,” one of its inaugural productions. The production from playwright Marcus Gardley will run Nov. 9 through Jan. 2., according to the AP. Also, E. Faye Butler will star as Aunt Eller in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” It will run from Oct. 22 to Dec. 26. The initial casting was announced Tuesday. This year marks the inaugural reopening of Arena Stage after its extensive renovations since 2008. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will be honorary chairs of the season.

Wanda Sykes Cast in Stage Production of Annie

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 11, 2010) *With free time following the cancellation of her talk show,
Wanda Sykes has turned her attention to the theater. The comedian will spend this holiday season in Pennsylvania playing the villainous Miss Hannigan in a stage production of Annie, reports Broadway.com. The holiday run will play from November 23 through January 16 at Media Theatre for the Performing Arts. The original production of Annie opened on Broadway on April 21, 1977 and won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. A 2012 Broadway revival is in the works.


Sims 3 Jumps Off The Computer

Source: www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman

(August 06 2010) One of the best-reviewed computer games in recent memory is coming to consoles: Electronic Arts’ The Sims 3 will be available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii on Oct. 26.

Can EA take a “lean in” PC experience, where you use your mouse to micromanage the lives of little people, and make it appeal to a “lean back” gamer, with controller in hand? From what I saw at a recent press event in New York, they’ve figured it out.

First off, The Sims 3 for consoles has everything the original game has, says EA, but with tweaked controls, an improved user interface and fun extras such as “Karma Powers” and a reward system (more on those in a moment).

If you’ve ever played the computer version, you know how the game works: You take care of the needs and desires of your customizable Sims, mingle with the neighbours, excel in your career and decorate your home with unlockable items.

The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions now let you exchange items with friends over the Internet, while the Wii game has its own unique town and careers, a four-player minigame, and the ability to swim in the ocean and go windsurfing.

One of the coolest new features of The Sims 3 for consoles is “Karma Powers,” which allow you can cast a spell, of sorts, to help your Sim. Does a pretty Sim like someone other than your own Sim? Use “Cosmic Curse” to the take out the competition by giving them serious flatulence (brown plumes of gas upset everyone around them). Is your Sim feeling down and needs a “Best Day Ever”? Everything will go right for your Sim as they go to work and get a promotion, then come home to find an attractive neighbour at their doorstep. Each power only lasts a couple of hours, so be selective about when and how you use them.

There can be side-effects, too, such as morphing you into a monster at midnight by abusing the “Instant Beauty” power, or losing all your money after a successful day at the office.

The Sims 3 for consoles also offers “Challenges,” such as “make a BFF” (befriend someone in the game), “get a promotion at work” or “have woo hoo” (sexual relations) with a Sim. By completing each of the 35 or so challenges, you’ll earn Karma Powers (evil and good), rewards (like building upgrades, furniture, clothing and hair styles) and Xbox 360 achievements/PlayStation 3 trophies (which you can post to Facebook). You’ll also earn points every day, to be used toward upgrades and powers.

EA says you can rain down natural disasters in a Sims game for the first time. For example, if you don’t like your neighbour, you can inflict a firestorm on their house. It’s fun to see how they handle the disaster; will they put out the fire (if the Sim has bravery as a character trait) or pull the fire alarm in your house (if you have one) to summon the fire department?

As with The Sims 3 for computers, this console version features an angled top-town view, but has a closer camera and simplified controls that let you move the cursor around by pushing the analog sticks on the controller (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) or pointing at the screen with the Wii remote.

Whether or not EA can duplicate the success of the computer-based The Sims 3 with its console version is yet to be determined, but it looks like a winner.

Product Placement Ads Hitting Gaming World

Source:  www.thestar.com - Emily Mathieu

(August 11, 2010) Canadians gamers, their fingers wrapped tight around their controllers and clicking madly across their keypads, brought in millions of dollars for advertisers posting product shots inside virtual worlds last year.

But exactly how much that captive audience could be worth to companies and
advertising agencies remains out of reach for the time being, according to an industry expert.

“It is a really controlled environment where you are really leaning forward, you are really paying attention,” said Paula Gignac, president, The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB).

“When you are deeply immersed and there is only one big outdoor sign in this city that you are walking down and it is from Coca-Cola that is a very big branding opportunity for the advertiser,” she said.

On Tuesday, the IAB reported that in 2009, revenue generated through display advertising in games connected to the internet and watched by Canadians, through computers or systems like Xbox and PlayStation, reached at least $3 million.

It was the first time the IAB included video game data in an annual report on online advertising revenue. This year the report showed that in 2009 total online advertising revenue reached $1.82 billion, up 14 per cent from the previous year. That figure is estimated to jump to $2.1 billion, or up 15 per cent, in 2010 and is rapidly approaching the revenue generated by more mediums like print, according to the report.

Gignac said the $3 million related to video games represents only a “tiny sliver” of revenue generated though gaming in Canada as it only tracks a specific type of advertising within game titles viewed by Canadian audiences, she said.

She said when it comes to marketing information video games remains something of a walled garden, with only bits and pieces of information available. But she hopes that releasing some estimates will result in more complete reports in the future.

Research group Screen Digest estimates that by 2014 revenue generated by video game advertising worldwide could grow to one $1 billion, according to Bizreport.com.

Massive Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft that specializes in video game advertising, includes Rogers Communications, Government of Ontario, Telus, Bell Sympatico, BMW, Greyhound and HMV on their client list.

EA, a U.S. based company with Canadian operations, drops everything from Honda logos, to corn chips to images of Obama into games.

Gignac said as long as the game is internet connected the advertiser can change the content and style of the advertisement, tailoring and inserting different content based on time of day or season or specific environments.

That means in the interactive wild-west cowboys kicking their spurs through graphically generated dust are unlikely to see a massive neon sign for sports cars flashing in the desert.

But there may be dirty and dusty ad for cellphones flickering dimly above the saloon door, said Gignac.

“Gamers don’t want to be disturbed. They don’t want to click on the brands they just want to be exposed to them,” she said.

Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University's Schulich School of Business said compared to television advertising consumers find product placement in online games less disturbing.

Advertisers and corporations are “stepping very gently into the water but not grabbing where the opportunity is,” said Middleton.

Creating and giving away games and machines to ensure their message is broadly implanted in the program and widely accessible would be far more lucrative, he said.


Majority Of Canadian Magazine See Circulation Decline

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
James Adams

(August 08, 2010) Hello! Canada and Maclean’s magazines, both published by Toronto-based Rogers Publishing, were among a smattering of Canadian periodicals that enjoyed solid increases in circulation in the first six months of 2010, relative to their performances in that same January-June period last year.

Overall, however, most of the more than 75 Canadian publications, English and French, reporting to the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ survey released Monday experienced either decreases or stasis.

Chatelaine, another Rogers’ periodical, saw its total circulation decline by 10.1 per cent, to 513,924 from 571,545, including a 24.9-per-cent plummet in single-copy sales and a 5.3-per-cent decline in subscriptions.

Similarly, Flare, Rogers’ pre-eminent female fashion title, saw its total circulation fall to almost 137,000 from close to 152,000 last year, a 9.7-per-cent decline.

Hello!, by contrast, has been “boffo at the box-office” virtually from its inceptionin the fall of 2006. Tuesday’s ABC report shows that the picture-heavy, text-light weekly enjoyed an almost 11-per-cent uptick in total circulation in the first half of 2010 relative to 2009’s first half. Overall, Hello’s total circulation was 120,767, with almost 74,000 of these coming from newsstand sales.

Maclean’s, which is marking its 105th anniversary this year, reported a 2-per-cent growth, to just over 363,000 copies from last year’s 355,054. Maclean’s in recent years has been pushing its newsstand sales and it appears to be working: In the first half of the year, single-copy sales of the newsweekly averaged close to 30,000 copies per issue, a 209 per cent jump from the 9,523 reported in 2009.

According to ABC’s analysis of 56 major Canadian consumer magazines, circulation overall experienced a decline of almost 5.4 per cent, to roughly 6.6-million copies in January-June this year, from slightly more than 7-million in 2009.

Total paid subscriptions also declined, by almost 5.6 per cent, to roughly 5.2-million copies. By contrast, single-copy sales – often regarded as a barometer of reader demand – experienced a modest 0.52 per cent increase, to 1,150,750 from 1,44,840.

By comparison, total circulation of U.S. magazines tracked by ABC declined by about 2.3 per cent. Newsstand sales slipped by 5.63 per cent – a modest decline relative to the 12.4 per cent drop the industry experienced in the first half of 2009 and that of 2008 – while total paid subscriptions declined by almost 2.3 per cent.

As ever, Reader’s Digest English-language Canadian edition was the circulation champion among for-pay periodicals. But its total circulation declined by 15 per cent, including a 17.8 per cent drop in subscriptions, but its 723,440 overall tally still put the monthly at the top of the ABC heap.

Even with its declines, Chatelaine placed second overall, ahead of the magazine often touted as its main rival, Transcontinental’s Canadian Living, whose total circulation of just over 500,000 represented a 3.2 per cent slip relative to 2009 but enough for a third-place finish overall.

Flare’s lacklustre fortunes were reflected by that of other magazines in the English-language female fashion market. Fashion, published by Toronto’s St. Joseph Media, “topped the charts” with a total circulation of 145,410, down just under one per cent from January-June 2009. Elle Canada’s circulation dropped a modest 0.2 per cent, to 130,363.

Topping the so-called “shelter” category was Toronto-based Canadian House & Home. The monthly’s average circulation for the first six months of 2010 was about 235,400 copies per issue, a 3.6 per cent increase from its 2009 tally of 227,225.

Meanwhile, the verdict appears to be out until at least early 2011 on the circulation impact of The Beaver’s decision this year to change its name to Canada’s History. Published six times a year, the renamed history journal made its debut with its April-May issue. According to the ABC report, the magazine experienced a 6.5 per cent decline in total circulation, to 40,906 from 43,736. 

The Women Behind The Camera

Source: www.thestar.com -
Peter Goddard

(August 06 2010) NEW YORK — “Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography” is the art world’s version of shock and awe. The Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition is packed with so many star names and well-traveled images that any visitor could leave feeling overwhelmed.

Here’s an example: In the third of the six galleries turned over to 200 works by 120 female artists, you find American photographer Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (1936), framing a Depression-era migrant worker’s thoughtful defiance in the face of unassailable adversity.

It’s an image that has been echoed — knowingly or not — by dozens of photographers since it was shot. Still, this photo stands apart from the others because it suggests more than the fragility of woman’s plight. We must see this as a fashion shot, too, in the delicate play of the fingertips of her right hand along with the line of the lips. Lange knew we’d think: “Isn’t she beautiful?”

Work by photography stars past and present, from Lisette Model to Cindy Sherman, fill “Pictures of By Women” with grand, iconic moments, none more so than Diane Arbus’s Puerto Rican Woman with Beauty Mark New York City (1965). Visitors are even greeted by one of Yoko Ono’s famous big bummer moments, Fluxus Wallpaper, made in 1973 with George Maciunas.

The exhibition doesn’t just play the fame game, though. Lesser-known names have been allotted space; most notably Rineke Dijkstra, whose series, Almerisa, comprises 11 portraits of a Bosnian refugee in Amsterdam shot over a period of 14 years.

The greatest find in the show comes in the second gallery with In Love (1953) by Toshiko Okanoue. Her work mostly disappeared from view in the late ’50s, following her marriage to painter Kazutomo Fujino, but the enigmatic Japanese photographer has had a modest renaissance since the ’90s, and with reason. In Love can best be described as a Japanese artist’s cut-and-paste interpretation of western glamour as dished out by Vogue magazine.

As you make your way from gallery to gallery, you become aware that the key word in this exhibition is the “A” in the show’s subtitle, “A History of Modern Photography.” For all of the exhibition’s diversity, there is a deeper narrative MoMA curators Roxana Marcoci, Sarah Meister and Eva Respini are threading together. The question is, which story is being told here?

Politics — of gender, race and/or nationality — bracket just about every aspect of the show, beginning with Frances Benjamin Johnson’s suite of photos showing training sessions for young African-American women in 1899. Everything is so stiff and formal in these posed group shots — you’d imagine the air was forbidden to move — that they look perilously close to parody to the contemporary eye.

A nod is likewise made to the various artistic eruptions, sidebars and excesses found through the past 170 years, most memorably in Tina Modotti’s works, notably the modernist Mella’s Typewriter (1928), which is suggestive of a staircase in a surrealist metalworks.

But the idea of domesticity is the show’s bass line. “Pictures by Women” suggests that photographic technology might have been taken up so readily by women because it was available to them, and because photography had a domestic application.

“The domestic aspect really was key for us in organizing the exhibition,” curator Respini said earlier this week. “Women really excelled at photography and pushed the medium forward. It was something you could cook up in the kitchen. It wasn’t considered a high art form so it wasn’t connected with the crushing history of men practicing it.”

This has to strike a chord with many visitors to the show. As recently as the last few decades of the last century, women were most often in charge of making the family image. “Pictures by Women” begins in a domestic mode, with Julia Margaret Cameron and Clementina, Lady Hawarden — both British photographers — and Gertrude Käsebier, an American, confecting images of dreamy domestic comfort and rectitude. Cameron’s Venus Chiding Cupid and Removing His Wings (1872) — as confounding and creepy an image as there is in all of photography — suggests you might want to re-read Peter Pan, and quickly.

Soon enough, though, “Pictures by Women” shows artists came to subvert ideas inherent in domestic photography. This evolution is most notable among the show’s many collections of portraits, from Barbara Morgan’s Martha Graham “Letter to the World” (1940), where the dancer seems to have been carved out of the air, to Nan Goldin’s Nan One Month After Being Battered (1984) with her bruised right eye, to Judith Joy Ross’s P.F.C. Maria I. Leon, U.S. Army Reserve, On Red Alert, Gulf War (1990).

“Pictures by Women” also confronts the notion of “pictures of women,” particularly the exaggerated imagery made by men for men — picture-making that’s as far from the domestic circle as can be imagined.

No artist can claim to be more confrontational than Valie Export, whose image in Action Pants: Genital Panic (1969) is a memento of the day the Austrian artist stomped down the aisle of a porn theatre — a gun in her arms, the crotch cut out of her trousers — demanding that the men around her “look at the real thing.”

Ironically, the photo of vibrantly defiant Export was taken by a one of the few male artists in the show, Peter Hassmann.

“Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography” is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York until Aug.30. Peter Goddard is a freelance writer. He can be reached at peter_g1@sympatico.ca

Ebony-Jet Gets a New Manager

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(August 11, 2010) *Ebony-Jet Gets a New Manager  Johnson Publishing recently announced (Tuesday Aug. 10) that former White House Secretary Desirée Rogers will be the new CEO for the company.

She will take care of the struggling company’s day-to-day operations.  If you don’t know whom this woman is, recall the party crasher’s incident with President Barack Obama.

Yeah, she’s the one blamed for the mishap.  She is also the first Black woman to hold the position, however she didn’t do it very well.  

She told the New York Times after ungracefully leaving her position, “I was symbolic of that change in many respects, and I took the hit.”

Read the full story here.

CBC To Stay The Course Of Departed Boss

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(August 09, 2010) In the wake of the departure of its controversial head of English services, CBC plans to stay the course, his interim successor told staff Monday.

The abrupt end of Richard Stursberg’s six-year role as executive vice-president, announced Friday in a terse statement by CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix, prompted talk that the public broadcaster would halt or reverse Stursberg’s initiatives, which included the implementation of more commercial programming in pursuit of higher ratings.

But an internal memo by erstwhile CBC Television general manager Kirstine Stewart, who has temporarily assumed Stursberg’s duties, suggested otherwise.

“Despite media speculation regarding the change that has just happened, Hubert made it clear to me that he supports our programming and is a fan of the shows we make,” said her missive.

The note specifically lauded original Canadian programming such as The Current, Being Erica and CBC Network News, but made no mention of Stursberg-initiated imported American content, such as game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel Of Fortune, which dismayed CBC scrutinizers.

Stewart seemed to indicate, as did Lacroix in his statement, that Stursberg’s term, during a period of major staff cuts and declining government revenue, was a boon for the organization.

“Our relationship with audiences has been deepening as of late, with more people tuning into CBC’s multiple platforms . . . Hubert has reinforced with me that he does not want that momentum to slow down, or risk being lost,” she wrote.

Neither Stewart nor Lacroix were available for further comment. Stursberg, who oversaw all aspects of CBC’s English-language TV, radio and online programming, has not spoken publicly about his departure.

A business-as-usual approach is unlikely to appease critics, such as Ian Morrison of the watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, who indicated he had “nothing positive” to say about Stursberg’s time at CBC.

He hoped the corporation’s estimated “six to nine months” search for a new boss would yield two executives.

“Don’t try to put one person in charge of TV and radio,” Morrison urged. “They’re two different media and deserve two skilled vice-presidents.”

Stewart ended her letter by wishing her staff a “less eventful” rest of their summer.

‘Twilight,’ ‘Vampire Diaries’ Dominate Teen Choice Awards

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(August 9, 2010) UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Maybe they should switch the name to the Vampire Choice Awards?

Bloodsuckers struck another vein at the
Teen Choice Awardswith The Twilight Saga ruling Sunday's ceremony with 12 wins, including choice fantasy movie and villain, while The Vampire Diaries sucked up seven surfboard-shaped trophies at the taped ceremony, which is scheduled to air Monday at 8 p.m. EDT on Global and Fox.

“This is what this night is all about,” said a gothed-out
Katy Perry. “Vampires.”

The goofy California Girls singer hosted the show with the male stars of Glee. Besides going goth, her costume changes included donning hippie garb next to Kevin McHale, being crowned prom queen with prom king Chris Colfer, geeking out with Mark Salling and landing a split as a cheerleader alongside Cory Monteith.

“Tonight is my chance to go back to high school,” said Perry, “although this time people actually like me.”

Voters continued to really like Twilight stars Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson, who were present to accept their multiple awards, seemingly handed out like candy at the freewheeling ceremony. Of Pattinson's four wins, one was actually not related to the supernatural saga: choice drama movie actor for Remember Me.

“It's great to win something outside of Twilight,” said Pattinson.

Throughout the show, funnyman Ken Jeong of Community and the upcoming bloodsucker satire Vampires Suck lingered inside a coffin on the side of the stage at Universal Studios Hollywood's Gibson Amphitheatre. Jeong, dressed as his vampire character Daro, only emerged to introduce presenters to the crowd of “bloody teens.”

The awards, which honour celebrities in television, film, music and sports, were selected by over 85 million votes cast online. Other multiple winners included Gossip Girl, Ellen DeGeneres, Pretty Little Liars and Wizards of Waverly Place star Selena Gomez, who picked up trophies in both TV and music categories.

The extravaganza was punctuated with several silly moments. Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, winners in the reality show and reality stars categories for Keeping Up with the Kardashians, were joined by their rarely seen older sister: Cougar Kardashian, a dragged-up George Lopez sporting a dress, wig and pair of heels.

“Oh my God,” exclaimed Lopez. “I got a blister the size of Justin Bieber on my heel.”

The teen sensation wasn't in attendance at Sunday's show to retrieve his four awards though. Instead, footage was shown of Shaquille O'Neal presenting Bieber with his trophies for choice breakout artist, male artist, summer music star and pop album at his concert last month in Phoenix before Bieber crooned U Smile.

Taylor Swift also won four awards but wasn't present to accept for choice female country artist, country song for Fifteen, country album for Fearless and breakout movie actress for Valentine's Day. Swift, however, did appear in a taped segment in which she mounted one of her surfboard-shaped trophies in a lake.

Winners on hand included choice action-adventure movie actor Channing Tatum for G.I. Joe and choice drama movie actress Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side. While accepting her trophy, Bullock was interrupted by her The Proposal co-star Betty White, who shared the choice movie dance award with her for their tribal routine.

“I hate to blind-side you, but I've been coming to this show for years,” interjected a grooving White. “If you think you're fitting in, think again, dear.”

Before the ceremony, sweaty celebs strutted down a red carpet lined with wall gardens bursting with strawberries and other organic goodies. Also positioned along the carpet were fans – the ones that circulate air, not obsessive screams – powered by models pedalling exercise bikes to keep attendees feeling cool.

Levi Johnston, who recently called off his engagement – again – with Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, walked the red carpet with singer Brittani Senser. Johnston said his relationship with Palin as the parents of their toddler son, Tripp, is going well despite their break-up.

“We are doing great,” said Johnston. “I talk to her every day. We keep in touch. Even though with us broken off, it is like we are together. We found a way to work with each other. Things are going good.” 


Spanish Seduction Meets American Abstraction

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
Paula Citron

Compania Nacional de Danza 2 and Alonzo King's Lines Ballet
Grand Chapiteau
Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur
Saint-Sauveur, Quebec on Aug. 4 and 5

(August 09, 2010)  It’s one hour north of Montreal, but
The Festival des Arts de Saint-Saveur is worth the trip, presenting dance companies you can’t see anywhere else in Canada.

What attracted me to Saint-Saveur this year were the dark, seductive twists and turns of Madrid’s Compania Nacional de Danza 2 and the abstract beauty of Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet from San Francisco.

Compania Nacional de Danza 2

The company is a young spinoff (ages 18 to 22) of Spain’s most famous dance troupe, but they perform as exquisitely as their elders and they make a point of respecting their elders. Their pieces – Gnawa, Kol Nidre and Insected – are the swan songs of revered CND artistic director Nacho Duato and assistant artistic director Tony Fabre, who are both leaving the company after years of service.

Gnawa, a piece by Duato, is set to a pastiche of music inspired by North Africa, The work cunningly fuses folk-dance elements with showy ballet tricks. For example, a circle dance of rhythmic stamping is followed by traditional ballet jump turns.

A couple in white (Galit Ben-Ari and Hugo Cortey) evoke the Sahara through reflective, sensuous pas de deux, while the other dancers move with a vigour representing the heart of the people. The packed house went crazy for this piece – seductive, sexy and reverent all at the same time.

They also performed Duato’s poignant Kol Nidre, inspired by a solemn Jewish prayer of atonement. While Duato didn’t use the actual Kol Nidre music, he did choose sombre works by John Tavener, Arvo Part and John Zorn.

This piece is an homage to all innocent children caught up in the middle of armed conflict. The set is made up of two mounds of sandbags and the dancers take turns hiding behind them, or being spread-eagled on them like dead bodies. In this work, athleticism translates into misery and anguish.

Fabre designed his own set for Insected, which includes an upright enclosure that conveys a prison. The subtitle is “All the things crawling deep down inside,” and the choreography is filled with insect images – a metaphor to one’s own creepy-crawly inner demons. A repeated motif has the company crossing the stage like lizards.

With intense physicality, the dancers present images of being trapped and breaking free. But while the piece is arresting, the choreography lacks a central focus.

Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet

Visionary choreographer Alonzo King has set works all over the world. His company presented two pieces – Dust and Light and Rasa. Both are works of abstract movement. The first, which is en pointe and set to baroque music by Corelli and religious choral works by Poulenc, is about striving for inner grace. The off-pointe Rasa uses an original score composed by tabla master Zakir Hussain to conjure up shared humanity.

The inspiration differs – the spirituality of Dust and Light, the tribalism of Rasa – but King’s choreographic structure is constant throughout. King builds his pieces through vignettes of solos, duets and trios, with the occasional group ensemble. Dancers come and go in a fluid stream which can border on monotony.

His multicultural company is made up of sensational dancers who are both supple and athletic, but while his choreography shows off their formidable talents very well, King’s lack of architectural diversity dampens interest over time. By the end of the second piece, I was craving a change-up.  


Brandon Morrow Comes Close To No-Hitter As Jays Shut Out Rays

Source: www.thestar.com - Mark Zwolinski

(August 08, 2010) It was a one-hitter that felt like a no-hitter.

Hard-throwing Blue Jays right-hander
Brandon Morrow had everything going for him Sunday —fastball, slider, changeup and curve — in a pitching performance that approached perfection, a 1-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Rays that came within one out of being the major leagues’ sixth no-hitter of the season.

Morrow (9-6) allowed only two walks — only one of them before the ninth inning — and retired 17 Rays on strikeouts for the second-highest total in franchise history on a day when he threw an awe-inspiring 137 pitches, 97 of them for strikes.

The lone hit — a ground ball to the right side of the infield that glanced off the glove of diving second baseman Aaron Hill — came with two out in the ninth.

Frustrating? You bet, for Morrow and for the 22,313 fans at the Rogers Centre who were on their feet cheering for what promised to be only the second no-hitter in Jays history, after Dave Stieb’s gem on Sept. 2, 1990 against Cleveland.

But disappointing? Not for Morrow.

“It was my first complete game and my first shutout,” the pitcher said after his big day. “Those two things combined were more than enough to overcome a near no-hitter.”

Morrow posted his first career shutout and first complete game, and also broke double digits in strikeouts for the first time while falling just one shy of Roger Clemens’ franchise record 18 set on Aug. 25, 1998.

Right-handed batter Evan Longoria, defying the odds and the scouting reports on his tendencies as a hitter, tapped the single that broke up Morrow’s near no-no.

“We played him up the middle,” said Hill, who was so dejected about failing to make the play that he needed several minutes to collect himself before speaking with reporters. “He’s a pull hitter but it wasn’t a pull swing. I did everything I could; I couldn’t come up with it. He (Longoria) was doing everything he could. . . . I wish I could take an error on it.”

The crowd was on its feet for Longoria’s at-bat in anticipation of the no-hitter and let out a collective groan when the ball skipped off Hill’s glove. But it roared even louder when Morrow got Dan Johnson on strikes to end the game.

There were congratulations all around for Morrow and plenty of buzz about the future of a young Jays team blessed with a talented pitching staff and a roster laden with top prospects and budding stars just hitting their primes.

The only downside to the afternoon came in the form of an injury to centre fielder Vernon Wells, who galloped after a long fly ball off the bat of Ben Zobrist in the sixth and made a truly brilliant catch at the warning track to preserve Morrow’s no-hit bid. But Wells dislocated his right big toe as he crashed into the wall.

“They say you get plays like that in a no-hitter . . . I just wanted to be going as hard as I can,” said Wells, who left the game afterwards, ending a day that also saw him drive in the game’s only run with a bloop single in the first inning.

“I hit the wall and I went down. I told D-Wise (left fielder Dewayne Wise), ‘I think I broke my toe.’ We ran back to the dugout and I felt something was wrong there. I hoped it would pop back in place but it didn’t.”

Wells will have further X-rays Monday while the Jays stage their annual charity golf classic at Rattlesnake Point. He’s hopeful the injury isn’t serious and that he can return to action Tuesday when the Jays open a crucial series against the Boston Red Sox.

Then there was Morrow’s battery mate, catcher Jose Molina. The backup, who has become Morrow’s catcher every time he pitches, swiped second base in fifth inning. Stolen bases are not most catchers’ forte, and Molina had a big smile on his face at second.

“That was funny,” Molina said of his first stolen base of the season and 10th of his career. “I think it was in slow motion.”

But all the good feeling and energy started and finished with Morrow.

“I thought early on that I had a shot (at a no-hitter) the way my arm felt, the way I was locating my fastball, my slider, and my changeup and curve,” Morrow said. “I didn’t use them as much but they were there, too, and that made a difference.”

Sidney Crosby And Roger Federer Meet At Rogers Cup

Source: www.thestar.com - Paul Hunter

(August 08, 2010) This time, it was Sidney Crosby who was star struck.

In town on other business, the shinny star got to meet one of his sporting heroes Sunday when a Tennis Canada connection arranged for Crosby to sit down with Swiss ace
Roger Federer for a tete-a-tete between national icons.

The grand plan was for Crosby to hit some balls with Federer at York University’s Rexall Centre, where the world’s No. 3-ranked player will begin play in the Rogers Cup on Tuesday night. However, the rainy weather altered practice schedules, so Crosby settled for helping to serve up a birthday cake to Federer, who turned 29 on Sunday. Crosby celebrated his 23th birthday — quietly, he said — on Saturday.

“I’m older. You can tell, right?” Federer joked as the cameras rolled.

Crosby said he is a big tennis fan and takes to the court himself whenever possible during the off-season, though “nothing too competitive.”

“Getting the chance to meet Roger and a few of the guys is something I want to take advantage of here,” said the Pittsburgh Penguins captain. “I follow (tennis) a lot … so this is a pretty neat experience for me.”

Crosby related to Federer how he’d watched him in person — the Canadian was on hand when Federer won his fifth consecutive U.S. Open in 2008 — and admired his play. The classy Federer congratulated Crosby on Canada’s gold medal win at the Vancouver Olympics.

“He mentioned that he watched the Olympics and stuff like that. I’d mentioned that I’d seen him play in the U.S. Open, pretty general talk,” said Crosby. “I think it’s pretty neat, being athletes and being able to relate to certain things, it’s always fun to understand and learn what he may go through.”

Crosby, Federer and world No. 1 Rafael Nadal were later spotted huddling in the players’ locker room for about half an hour.

Crosby — dressed in shorts and tennis shoes — sounded disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to trade volleys with one of the world’s greats.

“Just getting a chance to meet some of these guys is enough,” said Crosby, “but I’d love to be able to hit around (with one of the big stars).”

As for Monday’s anticipated ruling from an arbitrator on whether Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year contract with New Jersey is valid, Crosby said he had no idea what to expect.

“It’s uncharted territory,” he said. “It’s obviously in someone else’s hands now. It’s going to be a difficult decision either way.”

Back Injury Sidelines Usain Bolt For Season

Source: www.thestar.com - Paul Hunter

(August 10, 2010)  LONDON—World 100 metres record holder Usain Bolt will not run again this season because of a back injury, his agent said Tuesday.

Bolt, beaten by American Tyson Gay in Stockholm last Friday, was to compete in the Diamond League meetings in Zurich and Brussels this month.

Triple Olympic champion Bolt was examined on Monday by a Munich doctor who found a problem with the Jamaican’s lower back, which if not treated could cause injury to his hamstring or calf muscles.

“With a view to his future career we believe further treatment to loosen his back followed by a period of rest will be in his best interest,” Bolt’s agent Ricky Simms said in a statement.

Bolt, 23, had been troubled by an Achilles tendon problem this season but an MRI scan showed that injury was now healed.

“I am very disappointed to miss two of the top meetings on the circuit—Zurich and Brussels—but trust that it is better for me not to take any risks this year,” said Bolt.

“2011 and 2012 are very important championship years and I hope to be back fully fit and healthy,” he added in reference to next year’s world championships in Daegu and the London Olympics.

Bolt’s shock defeat in Stockholm was his first in a 100 metres final in over two years.

He had been due to face Gay and former world record holder Asafa Powell over 100 metres at the final Diamond League meeting in Brussels on Aug. 27.

Barack Obama Tests His Game Against Hoops Greats

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael D. Shear

(August 08, 2010) WASHINGTON—Every hoops fan dreams of that one special birthday when his pro-ball heroes gather on a court to see if he’s got game.

President Barack Obama had that chance Sunday, assembling a virtual dream team of college and pro basketball players for a presidential pickup game in front of wounded veterans and participants in a White House mentoring program.

Obama, who turned 49 on Wednesday, took to the court for a game with a stunning list of all-stars, including Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher, LeBron James, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Maya Moore, Alonzo Mourning, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Bill Russell, Etan Thomas, Dwyane Wade and David West. The game was closed to the media.

Kobe Bryant was there but didn’t play, according to the White House, and aides provided no details about the game, which took place at Fort McNair in Washington, where Obama often plays basketball with friends.

The presidential motorcade of black SUVs returned to the White House after about two hours for an evening barbecue on the South Lawn. Reporters could see grills being set up on the grass.

The White House provided few details about the festivities, but confirmed that the president and his guests would be dining on shrimp harvested from the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama is known for throwing a few elbows on the court and for having a fierce determination to win. But the 6-foot-2 president had his work cut out for him. A number of the players were 6-foot-8 or taller.

Obama’s wife and younger daughter were still returning from a vacation in Spain, and his elder daughter was at camp. With his family away, Obama was making it an all-sports-all-the-time weekend. He spent four hours at the Andrews Air Force Base golf course Saturday with longtime friends from Chicago and Hawaii.

That crew was said to be attending the barbecue Sunday at the White House, as well. No word on how many of them joined in the hoops competition.

Basketball is undergoing something of a renaissance at the White House under Obama, who had a new court built on what had been the presidential tennis courts. Obama plays with staff members and friends, including aide Reggie Love, who was on the NCAA-champion Duke team in 2001.

But in June 2009, when the basketball court was being built, the president told Bloomberg News that he was itching for some professional competition.

“As soon as we get the basketball nets up, we’re going to have some of these guys over for a game,” he said of pros such as James.

Asked by Bloomberg whether he would be playing, Obama said: “Of course. It’s my court.”

Argos Hungry For Another Shot At Alouettes

Source: www.thestar.com - Morgan Campbell

(August 9, 2010)  Last Friday, Argos running back Cory Boyd prayed for a big game against the Edmonton Eskimos. Then he went out and made it happen, rushing for 165 yards and two touchdowns in Toronto’s 29-28 win.

And when the 25-year-old tailback sizes up Saturday’s test with the league-leading Montreal Alouettes at the Rogers Centre, he puts a similarly spiritual spin on things, summarizing the game as a matchup straight out of the bible.

“My preaching this week is, we’re going to be the David to their Goliath,” Boyd said after Monday’s practice. “They have been winning and doing some good things, but it’s time for somebody to slay that giant.”

Six weeks into the regular season, the Alouettes are the CFL’s frontrunners once again. Their lone loss came in a 54-51 thriller against Saskatchewan on opening night, and July 29 they steamrolled the visiting Argos 41-10. Montreal’s 208 points scored lead the CFL, while their 139 points allowed are the league’s second-lowest total.

In contrast with last season’s disaster (a league-worst 3-15), Toronto’s 4-2 record indicates a team growing steadily in skill and confidence, but Boyd says they’re still a group of Davids in need of a special weapon to take down a behemoth like the Alouettes.

So what’s the Argos’ slingshot?

Their running game.

After his breakout game in Edmonton, Boyd leads the CFL with 648 yards, and head coach Jim Barker says Boyd’s versatility and durability give the Argos something that’s both a rarity and a luxury in the pass-happy CFL: A run-first offence complemented by a conservative passing attack.

“We’re about the running game,” Barker said. “But that also means teams are going to be throwing extra people in the box and we have to spread them out.”

Boyd, a University of South Carolina product, was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2008 and spent that NFL season shuttling between the Buccaneers and the Broncos, the practice squad and the active roster. By March 2009 the Broncos had released him for good, prompting Boyd to take a year off from football, time he spent soul-searching and trying to figure out if he still wanted to play.

When he decided his immediate future lay on the gridiron, Boyd decided not to beg for another NFL job, opting instead to play where he was wanted — the CFL.

“I was looking for something new, something different,” said Boyd, who spent last off-season counselling young offenders in Colorado. “(The CFL) was tailor-maid for my style of play, so I got kind of curious and then I just took a shot; this was a blessing in disguise.”

Boyd’s outburst last Friday laid the foundation for the Argos’ most complete offensive performance of the year.

Quarterback Cleo Lemon had struggled to adjust to the CFL game but looked comfortable last Friday, passing for a season-high 292 yards along with a touchdown and an interception.

Using Boyd and the running game as a starting point, Barker says Lemon and the rest of the Argos’ offence are primed to put up even bigger numbers soon.

“The passing game is efficient,” he said. “We’ve made some big plays (but) probably not enough big plays. Cleo has the arm strength to get the ball down the field. He’s throwing controlled passes. We have to pick our spots to hit the big plays.”

Tina Thompson sets WNBA record

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
The Associated Press

(August 9, 2010)
Tina Thompson scored 23 points to become the WNBA's all-time scoring leader Sunday night in a 92-83 loss to the San Antonio Silver Stars.

She surpassed Lisa Leslie's career total of 6,263 points when Thompson hit a 16-footer with 5:01 left in the third quarter. Leslie, who played for Los Angelesfor her entire career, retired last year.

The Sparks acknowledged Thompson's feat at a timeout less than a minute later.

“Basketball started here in L.A. for me,” said Thompson, who attended Southern California. “Anything I'm able to accomplish here is a pretty big deal because it's in front of my family, my friends and the people who supported me.”

Los Angeles coach Jennifer Gillom said she was relieved that Thompson set the record.

“I just think it was a distraction,” Gillom said. “There's been a lot of talk about it. I'm just glad that it's over with so we can get that out of our heads and start focusing on winning games.”

Roneeka Hodges scored 19 points for the Silver Stars (11-17), who have won three of five. Becky Hammon had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and Sophia Young added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

“I thought it was one of our better games,” Silver Stars coach Sandy Brondello said. “I think we had more focus for this game. We needed a sense of urgency and we wanted to play with that edge.”

The victory put San Antonio into third place in the Western Conference by a half-game over Minnesota and one game over Los Angeles. The top four finishers qualify for the WNBA playoffs.

“This was a big game for us,” Hammon said. “We were looking at this as a playoff game and we tried to bring that kind of intensity from the start.”

DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 21 points for the Sparks (10-18) and Ticha Penicheiro added 12 points, a season-high nine rebounds and eight assists.

San Antonio used a 16-4 surge, led by Hammon's eight points, to move ahead 25-19 with 1:17 left in the first quarter. After Los Angeles drew within 28-27, the Silver Stars went on a 9-0 run to build a 37-27 lead with 3:43 before halftime.

“We wanted to come out and throw the first punch,” Hammon said, “then maintain an aggressive style.”

The Silver Stars put the Sparks away with a 14-3 spree that extended the margin to 82-66 with 3:51 to play. Crystal Kelly scored nine of her season-best 15 points during that run.

San Antonio shot 53.2 percent and out-rebounded Los Angeles, 38-21.


Through Aug. 8

6,273 — Tina Thompson (Houston 1997-2008, Los Angeles 2009-10)

6,263 — Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles 1997-2009)

5,697 — Katie Smith (Minnesota 1999-2005, Detroit 2005-2009, Washington 2010)

5,678 — Lauren Jackson (Seattle 2001-10)

4,728 — Tangela Smith (Sacramento 1998-2004, Charlotte 2005-2006, Phoenix 2007-10)  

Good Young Zebras On Endangered List

Source: www.thestar.com - Dave Feschuk

(August 9, 2010)  The argument has been made so often, it has morphed from conspiracy theory to conventional wisdom. NBA referees, the assumption goes, give a preferential whistle to NBA stars.

And here’s where
Ronnie Nunn cries foul.

“The reverse is true, and that’s something the fans don’t know. To be perfectly honest, star players get fewer calls than they deserve. They probably deserve more calls,” said Ronnie Nunn, a retired NBA ref who now works as the director of development of NBA officials. “(Star players) play through contact that would make one believe the contact wasn’t significant enough for a foul. And then you look at it on tape and you see, ‘Wow, he really got bumped on that play, but he swirled around it and he made it look easy.’ And so, the no-call was incorrect.”

Nunn was speaking over the phone from his Connecticut home before his Tuesday keynote at the Fox 40 Officials Camp at Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton. The camp, in its 23rd running under Ron Foxcroft, the legendary Steeltown-bred referee of Olympic Games and NCAA Sweet Sixteens, is one of the rare local outlets for aspiring basketball officials to hone their craft. And while the average fan probably doesn’t think much about the development of the next generation of zebras, the overseers of the game certainly should.

The dearth of talented young referees is a problem everywhere from the pro ranks to local high schools, in basketball and other sports, and lately you can lay some blame on adults who should know better. Foxcroft said 65 per cent of Hamilton’s high school referees quit after three years because they grow tired of the badgering from parents in the crowd.

It’s a telling snapshot of the current climate of hyper-criticism that carries on up the ladder to the pro ranks. Never have referees been under more scrutiny. Never before have the masses displayed so little patience with the failings of human beings engaged in the difficult work of bang-bang judgment calls.

“The negativity weighs on our (referees),” Nunn said.

What isn’t pointed out often enough is that calling an NBA game has to be one of the hardest jobs in sports. And NBA refs — for all the examples of badly botched decisions — do an awfully good job, considering. Every call is evaluated, after all, by in-arena observers and by video analysis. And though the results of those evaluations aren’t made public, Nunn said the best NBA refs, when they blow the whistle, get the call correct 94 to 96 per cent of the time. When they don’t blow the whistle — when it comes to non-calls on, say, a subjective level of body contact — Nunn said the percentage dips to the high 80s or low 90s, even if players and coaches carry on as though nobody on their team has ever committed a foul.

“I think people expect officials to be .400 hitters,” said Nunn, a native of Brooklyn, using a baseball analogy. “And when we’re up around the .350 or .375 mark, that’s pretty good batting . . . Our goal is to get to .400 . . . We don’t need the sympathy for our work, but I would like to have some education so that people know something about it and recognize the difficulty.”

The NBA can’t have enough young hawk-eyed types, so they’re expanding the search globally. Nunn has recently been to South Korea and Singapore to teach, and Foxcroft said he has identified a few Fox 40 campers that he’ll ask Nunn to take a look at on Tuesday.

While the NBA referee workforce is entirely American, Nunn said it “won’t be long” until international whistles break into the league. Michael Weiland, the Calgary official who recently worked games at the NBA’s Las Vegas summer league, is the most likely candidate to be Canada’s first representative in NBA grey. Said Nunn of Weiland: “He’s just getting his feet wet, and he looks like he has some talent.”

Weiland will need thick skin, to be sure. Foxcroft said the first five years of his 25-year NCAA career saw every call met with a beef along the lines of, “Well, he’s Canadian, so what do you expect?”

And Nunn wanted to make clear he wasn’t singling out fans, Canadian or otherwise, in his lament on the lack of understanding of officiating’s nuances. Ignorance runs deep.

“Some of our greatest minds in basketball, guys who’ve been around but who have not officiated, really don’t know what officiating really entails and how hard the work is,” said Nunn. “However great our greatest players have been, putting a whistle in their mouth and getting them to run the high-school scrimmage of a team they coach, they will find their own players looking back at them and saying, ‘Hey, coach. I was fouled on that play!’

“When you put that shirt on and the whistle in your mouth, people are going to come at you.”