August 26, 2010
Can you feel the fall temperatures in the air? I know, I know. Sad to say goodbye to this particular summer ... but alas, fall is a great season too. And school is about to start for so many of you ... good luck on that first day! All sorts of new beginnings.
This week I have a very special interview with Mark "Kurupt" Stoddart. Have you seen these tee shirts on people you
recognize or even know? (pictured right and on Facebook).
Well I got the opportunity to speak with Mark about his particular path to
success and believing in his passion, no matter what the obstacles! And the tee
shirts are available at www.kurupt.com (and they're
only a drop in the pond of the "Kurupt"
And thanks to Mark Strong, I found out that our Russell Peters got married this past week!! See wedding photo below and Mark's take on the wedding news.
“Kurupt” Stoddart: Visual
Source: Dawn Langfield, Langfield Entertainment
Mark Stoddart – very closely synonymous with a renaissance man. I sought him out because of one of his latest works – the tee shirt you may have come across on Facebook. The same tee shirt that many prolific and talented Canadian artists and industry folks have been photographed wearing. What was this about? What’s the ‘movement’ behind it? Seemed simple enough to me but what I uncovered after witnessing a photo shoot and the plethora of artists coming through his doors to get involved, was a story about a man giving back to his community.
Some of you have known about Mark Stoddart, also known as “Kurupt”, for years. This talented visual artist has many accomplishments behind his name, has worked tirelessly to give back to community, has impacted lives and discusses here his story and the motivation that propels him forward.
Mark’s life took a dramatic turn in 2005 when his friend, Shawn "Blu" Rose, died suddenly. Blu was a cherished youth worker in Scarborough's Malvern neighbourhood. His work was valued so extensively within the community that Malvern renamed a park, formerly called Empringham Park, to Shawn "Blu" Rose Park in his honour.
Mark has played international professional basketball (and now coaches), had a career as a talented and successful graphic designer (and now mentors), and today is a visual communicator through his art as a social and political activist.
What is the origin of your name “Kurupt”?
Wow - high school in 1988-89. I had
a ‘conflict of interest’ in dealing with one of my art teachers. I
finally hit my breaking point where I said, enough is enough. I lashed
out. He was looking for a reason to get me out of the
school. But my Mom was NOT having it.
So, I got suspended for threatening that teacher after he called me “corrupt”. My Mom was called and she told them that her “son has never been corrupt”. My Mom went to bat for me. But in contrast, I had the support of Mr. Rouillard, who is one of my mentors, who liked me and was so supportive of where I wanted to go with my art. He protected me. Then I started thinking about conflict and that word ‘corrupt’ - and society - and how two negatives can make a positive. And that’s who I am … because I’m still trying to make a positive difference.
It’s interesting because that name doesn’t seem to go with who you are and what you do.
Right – it’s a conversational piece that I want people to understand. And that’s the only reason why I use that name. People often think I’m using the rapper’s name but nah, it goes deeper than the rapper’s name. I always say my Mom gave me that name and it was based off that story from school.
Further, my first business success was through the music industry - BMG, Sony, Universal, Saukrates, the Rascalz, Ghetto Concept and MuchMusic (web design). I designed all their stuff. My business name was Kurupt Designs. They’d say “oh Kurupt is doing our work”. It’s something that people remembered. But when you really get to know me, I’m not corrupt at all. I’m this guy that’s doing something positive. It just ties in with a negative turned into a positive. That’s where the name comes from. That’s the first time I’ve told that story.
What is the root of your commitment to giving back? Is it a spiritual thing? Community-based?
It’s both spiritual and community based. We need to leave something behind, a legacy of who we are. The only way is to give back so that people can follow that blueprint. I think it’s essential for the kids coming up now to understand. There are plenty of avenues of success and I’m just trying to give another option so that the youth can identify with that. The only way to leave a legacy is to give back.
As a young man, you played basketball at Sheridan College in Oakville. How did you come to play professionally in the UK?
Scarborough’s a small pond of people but you build a reputable name of who you are and then you go to a bigger pond, college. I took art courses because I wanted to be an illustrator but as far as basketball, I had to earn my stripes. I had to understand my position and I learned the system but that learning curve was difficult for me. Again, just to be part of that team was something ... and then we won nationals! Two years ago, they honoured the alumni of that team in the Hall of Fame at Sheridan.
I eventually came to a crossroads where I had to ask myself, “Am I going to
go pro in this? No.” I went to Sheridan for art and not
basketball. I told my coach that it just wasn’t for me anymore and he
respected my decision. Then I graduated and went to into the workforce
and into the matrix of the 9-5. It just wasn’t my calling. I wanted to go to Europe (Nottingham) just
to get away. I’m a citizen so the transition was easy for me. Nottingham
had a basketball team and they wanted me to be part of their squad. So I played
for one year but playing at the professional level wasn’t for me. That
led to me coming back (to Toronto) and working in graphic design.
How did you come to coach?
One of my greatest friends, Chris Smalling invited me to be an assistant coach with him at Centennial College. Chris and I grew up together from high school and he’s been a good friend. Our kids were kind of unruly but I think they respected us. We ended up in a tournament against Sheridan College, my old alumni, on my birthday! And we beat them! I was ecstatic! We weren’t even ranked very highs and we beat them! That was one of the best moments in my life. Everything comes full circle.
Then the Alumni Association of Sheridan
asked me to come back and talk to the graduating students. I guess
because of where I am now, there was something about my journey that they
wanted me to tell. I was scared as hell because I don’t like public
speaking - but we have to conquer our own fears. That’s the first time I realized that I
have a voice.
I told the kids that we have the ability
to create our own goals. You just have to find out what that is. [Full speech HERE.]
How did the idea of the Live It Wear It campaign come up? Why this symbol and why now?
One of the stories that most people don’t
know was that in the early 90’s, I met Kwame Ture also known as Stokely
Carmichael. He was the person that coined the phrase ‘Black Power’. He was part of Dr. King’s movement
and the Black Panthers. So that was where my conscientiousness was and it
has never changed.
But it has been sparked again perhaps because of the election of the first Black President in the United States. I thought it was time to bring that imagery to the forefront again.
I have a theory about why I think this campaign is doing so well. Not many people know this but my friend Kwame Parker’s father, Don Parker, was one of my mentors and always supported my art. He collected all the tee shirts that I used to make. He was an integral part of my life. He recently passed away and I put the first shirt of this campaign in the coffin with him. It was a respect thing and to pay homage to him for all his love and support over the years. My theory is that because I gave the shirt back to the earth with him, that it’s become something special and something that people can identify with, even if they don’t know why.
How did you end up linking with the mega-talented Nathaniel Anderson as your photographer for this project? The campaign is really based on those photos and the emotion they provoke. It seems to me it is both your gifts coming together to make a special campaign.
Nathaniel has been a constant. I always say this and he laughs - but I’m like a Pinto, and he makes me become the Bentley. There’s some photographers out there that are well-known and doing their thing. But Nathaniel has the ability to make things come to life. He has the ability to capture someone right in the moment. I call him the time-stopper because he can stop time with his camera and capture who you are and take notice of who you are. Our mutual friend, Orla, introduced us and from then there was some sort of chemistry. We all lived in Scarborough but we never interacted or crossed paths. It’s all about timing. Certain people you just know you’re going to bond with.
What’s the significance of 1968 on your tees?
1968 was a year for a lot of things to
happen. There was a lot happening in the civil rights movement in the United
States. At the Olympics in Mexico City, two American brothers won the 200
meters. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, when accepting their medals, made
that gesture (puts closed fist in the air) that people embraced. It
changed the course of who they were and made it an
iconic symbol. Also in 1968, Dr. King was assassinated. In Canada,
Lincoln Alexander because the first Black Lt. Governor. And it’s also the
year I was born. It was a powerful year to be born. That tells my story about what I
want to do in telling stories as an artist.
[Video clip of 1968 Olympics and iconic gesture by Tommie Smith and John Carlos HERE.]
How did it come to be that you were commissioned as an artist to create paintings for Converse shoes? Was that first or was your 40@40 Collection first?
Mark’s 40@40 Collection’s goal was to create 40 paintings of significant black musicians and athletes before the arrival of his 40th birthday in 2009. His initial paintings include jazz icons Jimi Hendrix, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Ray Charles. The sports icons in his collection include but are not limited to, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Satchel Paige, Tommy Smith and Fergie Jenkins.
In addition to the 40@40 collection, Stoddart was commissioned to create a one-of-a-kind painting for the leading footwear brand Converse, featuring their popular Chuck Taylor footwear, with images of rock icons Ozzy Osbourne, Pink Floyd and The Who integrated into the design for Converse Canada’s 100th birthday.
The Converse opportunity came out of my relationship with Chris Smalling again, whose kids were in a basketball camp that I was involved with, which was sponsored by Converse. They were doing a celebration for the century. I told them my concept and they liked where I was going. I brought Nathaniel (Anderson) in to get on board too. It was also about building relationships with the right people at the right time. What I did was take the texture of the sole bottom of the shoes and allow them to be the texture of my paintings. You have to be grimy in your stuff. You have to make your own imprint even if it seems twisted and weird. Sometimes you have to go against the grain.
The biggest affirmation for me was going through my old sketch book from college and seeing a sketch I did of Kwame Ture. He was in Toronto doing a speaking engagement and I went and he signed my sketch book and it said “Everything for the people, even art Mark”. It showed that whatever I do is still relevant and that I have a story to tell our people.
One of my major pieces is called “The Silent Gesture” and within that image, you have Tommie Smith winning the race and in the scenery you see Kwame Ture speaking. I wanted to tie that all in along with the symbol of 1968. That piece was a tribute to him and it actually put me back on my journey. As an artist, it is my duty to give back. It’s great to have relationships with people that have their own way of telling stories. I’m just blessed to be that vessel that channels the energy which allows me to create these things. There’s moments that stand still for me and I know that it’s not just about me anymore.
What’s next for Mark Stoddart?
You have to be forward thinking as a
visionary, which is no small feat and leaves behinds a
bright legacy. Your lifespan is short as a visionary – you’re not hitting
80 or 90 years old. Your time is limited because so much is being forced
out of us. It’s like a burning star. I know that there’s a lot more
to come out before my time is up that is going to be impacting people’s lives
but I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet.
[In 1988, while Mark Stoddart was still in high school, he was nominated for a Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in Arts. Come full circle, again, and in 2010, Mark is creating a painting series on the life of Canadian track and field star, activist and icon Harry Jerome for a documentary being directed by Charles Officer. From Facebook.com:
"This film is long overdue and will give people a real sense of what Harry Jerome means to Canada," says Mark Stoddart, a Toronto-based artist who has been commissioned to create a portrait of Jerome. "It is about time that all Canadians understand the impact of Harry Jerome and his iconic status as a true Canadian hero."]
What do you want people to remember you for?
A brother that is doing what he said. I just want to be a brother that is known as a giving guy that put in the work. If you have something you believe in, then stick it out. There’s going to be a lot of bombs and a lot of sacrifices but believe in your craft and you will see the fruits of your labour.
Thank you to Mark and Nathaniel for their generosity of spirit, time and sharing the story.
Peters: Somebody Is In Love Real Bad
Source: www.strizzzy.com - Written by striZZZy
(August 25, 2010) On August 21 2010, comedian Russell Peters tied the knot with his fiancée Monica Diaz. The 39 year old multi-millionaire comic just recently purchased a 5 bedroom place in a North Hollywood compound.
Maybe he needed more rooms in the works of having babies. Ok, I'm sure I'm pushing it too far now.
Shouts out to Russell and his beautiful wife who I had the privilege to meet at Kardinal Offishall's Kardi Party last year.
TheRealMrsRussellP took to Twitter to show the beautiful couple in their bliss.
While Russ tweets his upcoming movie collabo with Drizzzy Drake.
Gotta keep the lights on in the mansion I guess Russ.
TIFF On The Road Again … And Again
Source: www.thestar.com - Jason Anderson
(August 23, 2010) Q: Where have you travelled in the last 12 months to find films for TIFF 2010?
Piers Handling, director and CEO: Berlin in February, Cannes in May, then London, Paris, Rome and Warsaw in June and July.
Cameron Bailey, co-director: Chennai, Mumbai, Beijing, Paris, Brussels, Munich, London, Casablanca, Tangiers, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Cannes, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Berlin, Sundance, Amsterdam, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal.
Giovanna Fulvi, Asian cinema programmer: Rotterdam, Berlin, Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Cannes, Tokyo, Seoul.
Jane Schoettle, international programmer: New York City, Sundance (Park City, Utah), SXSW (Austin, Tex.), Los Angeles, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Tel Aviv, Cannes.
Q: Which countries or regions do you cover for TIFF?
Handling: I can range through all territories in my selection as I am involved in the Gala selection but I now concentrate on the UK, France, Italy and Poland, plus I see some of the Canadian films.
Bailey: US, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East.
Fulvi: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia.
Schoettle: U.S. independent cinema, Australia, New Zealand, Israel.
Q: How many days out of the last 365 would you say you’ve been on the road on the fest’s behalf?
Handling: About 50 to 60.
Fulvi: About 12 weeks.
Schoettle: Rough count, 75 days—almost three months
Q: What are your favourite ways to kill time on long trips?
Handling: When I fly, I read. But to be honest there is no need to kill time anywhere as I always have a full agenda. If I’m not working on a Sunday, I’ll often visit a gallery or a museum.
Bailey: I’ve become an expert sleeper on planes. I treat it like going into suspended animation: melatonin, eye mask, noise-cancelling headphones looping a playlist of ’90s trip-hop at low volume. Five minutes later I’m across the ocean.
Fulvi: There is not much time to kill. I like shopping in airports, visiting museums and spending time with friends.
Schoettle: Between screenings, meetings, and dealing with email in the hotel, there isn’t much time left in need of killing. Airports would be the exception — and that’s where I read, both novels on my handy e-reader (next to my BlackBerry, the best technology ever) and local newspapers. Shopping at airports doesn’t appeal because the one thing that makes traveling by yourself even harder is schlepping extra stuff. I’ve learned to travel light, and, if I do say so myself, I’m a remarkably talented packer.
Q: What have been the most memorable circumstances or environments during which you’ve screened films?
Handling: Outdoor screenings at the Pan African Film Festival in Ouagadougou. Woody Allen’s private screening room in New York. Agnes Varda’s editing room in her house in Paris.
Bailey: Down alleys and up the stairs in Calcutta. In the most astounding purpose-built home cinema I’ve ever seen, in a gazillionaire’s home in Johannesburg. He told me it had the best projection and sound in the entire country and I have no reason to doubt him.
Fulvi: Watching films on computer screens at the house of Chinese filmmakers or in quiet corners of Beijing coffee shops.
Schoettle: A dark room is a dark room, no matter where it is. But I do remember one day about four years ago when Noah Cowan, Piers Handling and myself were in the screening room here at 2 Carlton St. from 9 a.m. until 11 that night. I learned two things that day: watch your fluid intake and give the projectionist a break.
Q; Have you had much opportunity to enjoy these cities or countries on your down time?
Handling: Absolutely, as I often travel to these cities on my own time so I know them very, very well. And when I travel to a city for a festival jury like Tokyo, San Sebastian, Torino or Courmayeur, I make sure that I take time to see the place.
Bailey: Taking public transit is a good way to see the place between appointments. A bus ride with migrant workers in Dubai and the impressive Hong Kong subway stand out.
Fulvi: Food in Asia is great, so after long screening hours, a good meal is always welcomed.
Schoettle: I always try to leave my departure day free of appointments and go to one institution — an art gallery, a museum, an historical spot — before my flight because you can’t understand the film of a country if you don’t understand the culture and history.
Q: Where are you eager to go next?
Handling: I have never been to Turkey and the film festival there regularly invites me on to their jury so I hope to go next year.
Bailey: I’m on the jury at the Reykjavik Film Festival in Iceland after our festival’s done, but this time I get to go with my wife Carolynne and our son Tate.
Fulvi: I have been invited to the first international film festival of Phnom Penh in October and I am really looking forward to visiting Cambodia for the first time.
Martin Short's Wife Dies
Source: www.globeandmail.com - James Bradshaw
(August 24, 2010) Martin Short's wife, Nancy Dolman, has died. She was 58.
Short's manager, Marc Gurvitz, said Monday that Short's wife of 30 years had died but provided no cause of death or any additional details.
Dolman was diagnosed with an undisclosed cancer in 2007.
Short, best known for his comedic roles on Saturday Night Live and in the Father of the Bride franchise, married Dolman in 1980 after the pair met while working together in a production of Godspell.
They have three children: Katherine, 27, Oliver, 24, and Henry, 20.
Maestro Eyes the Prize
Source: www.exclaim.ca - By Del F. Cowie
Already a Canadian hip-hop icon whose foray into acting recently nabbed him a Gemini nomination, the man known to Canadians for letting his backbone slide is now adding author to his resume, with a book entitled Stick To Your Vision: How to Get Past the Hurdles and the Haters to Get Where You Want to Be hitting stores in early August. Named after his 1998 hit, the book, co-written with his wife Tamara Hendricks-Williams and featuring a foreword by Public Enemy's Chuck D., is a motivational self-help tome rather than an autobiography.
"An autobiography is semi self-indulgent," he says. "I'm still sticking to my vision, still hustling. I ain't coming in like the black Dr. Phil or something like that. I'm still kind of striving too." The man born Wes Williams has plenty of material from his own life that he readily draws on, including the periods of his career that were not always successful. "It's uncomfortable," he says. "[They're] booing you at [Toronto venue] the Concert Hall, that ain't an easy thing to do. Or you do an album and it's not well received ― it's not the easiest thing to do. But somebody can relate to that and it's not necessarily an MC or an artist, it parallels a lot of people's lives."
Maestro also uses examples from his pioneering achievements that forced the Canadian music industry to acknowledge the presence of hip-hop, but the noticeably humble actor and MC just sees that phase as one set of goals he has achieved. "In the book I don't [tout past accomplishments] like 'This is what I did back in the day,' and 'This is why I am so great,'" says Williams. " [It's] like 'Yo, I did this and now I'm moving on.' Next, next, next you know what I mean?"
Trina’s Got a New Groove
Source: www.eurweb.com By Ricardo Hazell
(August 21, 2010) *Sexy Southern belle and rapper, Trina has returned to the scene with a fresh new look, attitude, and comes with the realness. In an interview, She explains her new look, her goals, and bleaching skin.
“I am just evolving into more of a woman, and I love it,” she told Singersroom. “Lately, I have been wearing my natural hair, so that’s a change for me. I love getting facials and taking care of my skin because that’s really important especially since I’m always performing and wearing makeup, I do have a stylist, but I love to try new and different things that work for me!”
After being in the industry for so long, her advice to anyone would be not to trust anyone and do for self.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned being in this game is that people are faker than a $3 dollar bill, Trina tells Singersroom. “You can’t trust everybody, and you can not believe most of what you hear. Keep good people around you because you’re going to need them! Work as hard as you can and be happy for yourself first before anything else.”
Finally, she took time out to dispel some of the ridiculous rumours about bleaching her skin.
“That I’ve dated a few people that I actually never even met! It’s hilarious!” Trina says. “I don’t bleach my skin! For goodness sake, I am a fair skinned woman, and I honestly like to look darker than I am. I love to tan and wear bronzer. I think it makes my skin look better. Plus if I don’t, then I can see my veins through my skin!”
Neil Young Rocks Digital – In An Old-School Way
Source: www.globeandmail.com - James Bradshaw
(August 20, 2010) Neil Young’s newest album is running with the new streams of digital music distribution, but it’s hardly blazing new trails. Then again, he’s “old school.”
In a posting on Facebooklast week, Young announced that his forthcoming solo album, titled Le Noise, will be rolled out Sept. 28 on a variety of platforms ranging from vinyl records to an application for the hot-selling iPad.
But to own the album on day one, fans must turn to either CD, vinyl or iTunes downloads. About a month later, a Blu-ray edition and free apps for iPhone and iPad that feature an interactive album cover, and integrate songs or videos bought through iTunes, will follow.
“Forgive my use of the word ‘album,’ ” Young said in the announcement. “I am old school.”
In the past, Young has derided the quality of sound of digital files but has rarely seemed afraid of digital distribution the way artists such as John Mellencamp were – Mellencamp once described the Internet as “the most dangerous thing invented since the atomic bomb.” Young has flirted with music’s new technological for years, and as early as 2004 he was conceding to Wired magazine that “the Internet is the new radio” and that “to tell the stories I want to tell, I have to use everything that’s available and use it all at once.”
Then, as he finalized his sprawling and laboriously created box set, he took advantage of technologies that allow new archival content he unearths to be downloaded to a virtual filing cabinet on the 10-disc Blu-ray version, allowing the collection to expand almost indefinitely.
Still, music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz is perplexed that Young, with all the resources of his label Warner Music behind him, wasn’t more ambitious in distributing his latest work. He sees no way of generating added revenue from “hard-core” fans in Young’s strategy and said not having the apps available the day the album drops is a mistake.
“This is not trendsetting,” Lefsetz said. “Nothing here seems like a breakthrough unless there’s some kind of functionality in the iPad app.”
Indeed, Young’s strategy increasingly feels like the norm, even for the old guard of Canadian musicians. A publicist for Bruce Cockburn said plans are in the works for a worldwide digital release of Cockburn’s next studio album, and that there will be exclusive content available only through digital downloads.
Representatives from Young’s Canadian label, Warner Music Canada, were not available for comment.
Famed Quebec-born producer Daniel Lanois steered the recording of Young’s new disc at his home in Los Angeles and has described the songs as “fantastic,” with an “electro” feel and a “massive sound.”
Lanois, at least, has come up with a different and public way to drum up interest in Young’s new tunes: at Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s annual all-night contemporary art event on Oct. 2, four of the recorded tracks will be overlaid with “striking visuals” filmed while Young was recording the album as part of an installation Lanois is organizing.
With a report from Brad Wheeler
We Swear, This Cee-Lo
Song Is Hot
Source: www.thestar.com - Jason Anderson
(August 24, 2010) The hottest song in America at the moment is a catchy little ditty whose title and lyrics are so cheerfully foul that polite newspapers won't be publishing it anytime soon. You probably won't be hearing it on a radio station, either.
Suffice to say, the tune — by Cee-Lo Green, formerly of the pop group Gnarls Barkley — is a two-word, Anglo-Saxon, hortatory phrase whose first word is typically rendered by dashes or a string of nonsense characters from the upper levels of a keyboard. Some of Cee-Lo's other lyrics are what might be described as “problematic,” as well.
Despite this (or perhaps because of it) the song — we'll just call it That Song — has become a bona fide underground phenomenon in literally just a few hours. Since being released last Thursday, That Song's video, a simple animation of its profanely direct lyrics, has burned up YouTube. By Saturday afternoon, adventurous souls had viewed the video more than 200,000 times. By early Monday, it had picked up an additional million more, crossing 1.2 million views.
By midday Monday, it was already the subject of an “answer” song, a rhyming reply done by none other than 50 Cent.
By now, the thrill is probably already gone.
Such blindingly fast viral velocity suggests that George Carlin's famed routine about the ephemerality of pop music has moved from parody to near reality. Carlin imagined a fast-talking Top 40 deejay speaking about the latest hit: “Here's a tune that's really moving fast. When I say fast, it was recorded at 9 o'clock this morning. At 12 noon it was No. 15. At 3 o'clock, it was the No. 1 sound in town. And now it's a golden oldie!”
Set to a kind of neo-Motown beat, That Song takes the point of view of a jilted lover, watching his former girlfriend hit the town with a new, wealthier man. The lyrics include such couplets: “Yeah, I'm sorry I can't afford a Ferrari/That don't mean I can't get you there. /I guess he's an Xbox and I'm more Atari/But the way you play your game ain't fair.”
The verboten phrase is both the song's title and the singer's rebuke to the couple.
Professional pop music critics and other hard-to-please online commenters have been nearly unanimous in their praise of the infectious song, which admittedly combines both shock value and a bit of humour. No less than The Wall Street Journal said it “may be the best rock and pop single of the year.”
No station has dared to air an unexpurgated version of the song yet. However, BBC radio was apparently the first to air an edited version on Saturday — with the most pungent phrase replaced by the bland translation into nonprofanity: “Forget you!” — plus other profanities masked or edited out.
Naughty language in pop music has a long and proudly sordid history, dating back to the earliest days of rock, R&B and jazz. Complaints and controversy have followed in the wake of such classic pop provocations as The Kingsmen's “Louie, Louie,” Chuck Berry's “My Ding-a-ling” and Elton John's “The Bitch is Back.” Rap and hip-hop songs have been criticized for decades for the defiant frankness of their lyrics, too.
What's more, Cee-Lo's new song carries the same title as a bouncy recording by the British pop singer Lily Allen, released last year. That one attracted a following on the Internet, and even climbed the British sales charts, but didn't get very far on American radio stations.
The Washington Post
Cuban Singer Revives Nat "King" Cole's Latin
Source: www.billboard.com - By Judy Cantor-Navas
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - In 1956, Nat "King" Cole emerged from a plane in Havana holding a pair of maracas and began a series of dates at the club Tropicana. For the first of Cole's three subsequent Spanish-language albums, 1958's "Cole Espanol," he was coached by Bebo Valdes, then the pianist with the Tropicana's Armando Romeu Orchestra, to phonetically sound out the lyrics.
The suave but quirky charm of Cole's notable American accent and the swing of the musicians who joined him on great songs by Latin composers and Spanish translations of popular English numbers made the trilogy of Cole's "Espanol" albums a hit in Latin America and beyond.
"Cole paid homage to Latin American music and the Spanish language with the effort he put into singing these songs and the feeling with which he sang them," says Issac Delgado, whose album "L-O-V-E" includes 12 songs from Cole's repertoire and features the celebrated singer's brother, vocalist Freddy Cole, and a cast of top Latin and jazz players. It will be released August 31 on Calle 54/Sony Masterworks.
A megastar in Cuba, Delgado is known for his elegant but streetwise approach to the aggressively percussive Cuban dance music called timba, or Cuban salsa. The departure he takes with the jazzy romantic ballads on this album is something of a return to his roots.
"This is timeless music for me," says Delgado, who moved to the United States in 2006 and now lives in Miami. "It was the music we listened to every day in my house growing up."
The songs on "L-O-V-E," including a Spanish version of the title track, have a distinctly contemporary vibe, drained of the syrupy flavour characteristic of Cole's time. Pulling from the extended Cole songbook, the album also includes a song in Portuguese, and two additional tracks -- "Mona Lisa" and "Stardust" -- will be available as digital extras.
Sony Masterworks general manager/senior vice president Alex Miller says he first heard "L-O-V-E" after Sony Spain released it last spring and immediately made plans for it to be released stateside. He says the album will be promoted "the old-fashioned way," around an extensive U.S. tour that Delgado will do with Cole in the fall.
"I didn't want people to feel they were listening to an old chestnut. I wanted it to sound as though it had just popped out of the oven," says producer Nat Chediak, who, by working with Spanish filmmaker/producer Fernando Trueba on the latter's Calle 54 label, has brought new life to Latin classics on a series of critically acclaimed albums, including the Grammy Award-winning "Bebo y Cigala." "I wanted the musicians to stretch," Chediak adds.
"We were having fun in the studio," says Cole, who once accompanied his brother on one of his visits to Havana. "Everyone was loose and free, and it came off that way.")
Video: Lauryn Hill at Rock the
Bells Gig in Cali
(August 24, 2010) *This is how Lauryn Hill took the stage at a Rock the Bells concert last weekend in California. Despite the Larry Johnson “Grandmama“ get-up, reviews of her L.A. and San Francisco sets were pretty positive. New York Magazine’s Amos Barshad said “Hill looked and sounded great, and was deliriously received, as she ran through standouts from ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ and Fugees staples.” MTV’s Shaheem Reed noted: “This was not a woman who some reports had labelled ‘crazy.’ Lauryn was lucid and dancing and appeared to be enjoying herself.” Hill shares a Rock the Bells line-up with Snoop Dogg, Slick Rick, the Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, and others — each performing one of their best-loved albums start to finish. The tour will stop next at New York’s Governors Island on Aug. 28 and the Washington DC area’s Merriweather Post Pavilion on Aug. 29.
Lauryn Hill’s Return
Source: www.eurweb.com By Ricardo Hazell
(August 22, 2010) *The long lost and loved Lauryn Hill has emerged from the dark corners of her hiding and released a track, “Repercussions,” via the Net. Folks swarmed over it, causing it to get on Billboard at No. 94 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. This is the first time any solo tracks of hers have gotten on any chart since ’98. This is perfect timing for the missed singer/emcee, as she is making her return. She plans to be the headliner at this year’s Rock the Bells tour starting next month. Hill will be gracing the stage with other artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Quest, and several others.
Kem’s New Album and Dondria’s Debut
Source: www.eurweb.com By Ricardo Hazell
(August 22, 2010) *R&B singer, and baby song maker Kem has released his third album entitled “Intimacy: Album III” which was self produced and features collaborations with Mauissa Rose and Jill Scott. “I would describe my music as traditional R&B but I’m not mad at how anybody sees it,” Kem told Singersroom. “How you hear it is how you hear it and if you’re hearing it, that’s the objective. Whatever they call it is cool. There are a lot of jazz overtones in it. It’s funky, smooth and soothing. What the listener takes from it is truly at their discretion. I consider myself to be a very successful artist particularly considering the music that we make and my audience is still broadening. There are a lot of people who still aren’t familiar with it, and we’ll reach those people. Everything is groovy and on the flip side, bigger is not always better. We’re right where we’re supposed to be.” Jermaine Dupri’s latest So So Def protégé Dondria releases her debut album “Dondria Vs Phatfffat.” She started off on YouTube, but has made it big and will be opening for Trey Sonz & Monica’s “Passion Pain & Pleasure” tour.
Nelly’s Fitness DVD
Source: www.eurweb.com By Ricardo Hazell
(August 21, 2010) *Nelly is one sexy rapper, showing off his fantastic physique; it would make any man jealous and most women sigh in their dirty imaginations. But that’s not the point. Nelly is now sharing his workout secrets on his new DVD series called “Celebrity Sweat.” “I wanted to do it right, in a way that’s believable. It’s not like I’m a gym instructor, and I’m not trying to teach a class I don’t have a degree in. But I wanted to do something people could believe and follow,” the star explained. “It used to be when people got to a certain age, they wanted to be more health conscious. Now teenagers and kids are going to the gym.” While the DVD is set to release Sept. 28, the rapper is working on his next studio album called “5.0” which will release Nov. 16.
Tank and Drake Doing a Mixtape
Source: www.eurweb.com By Ricardo Hazell
(August 20, 2010) *Guess whose collaborating? Tank and Drake. Earlier this month, the rookie emcee announced his plans for an upcoming mixtape. “He actually asked me to do something for his R&B [mixtape],” veteran singer told TheBoomBox. “That’s gonna work out super great.” Tank is also doing his thing, promoting his next album, “Now or Never.” He’s glad to see Drake doing an R&B themed mixtape. “I can’t hate on that at all,” he admits. “That’s gonna be awesome to hear his melodies and his vocals over that R&B thing. When you hear my album, I think you’re gonna hear a lot of the same kind of character in what he’s probably gonna put together for his, in making it current and making it sound great but also giving you the passion and the melodies and the things that make you feel music.” Not that Drake has lost his hip-hop savour; he will be sure to incorporate his native flavours in the album. “Drake is an anomaly; he’s a hybrid,” states Tank. “You can probably count on one hand, maybe only two fingers, the amount of Drakes that exist where he’s able to sing and rap and do it well.” Tank’s fourth project will be released on Sept. 21.
Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton
for Gospel Film
(August 23, 2010) *Like all strange pairings, there is a purpose for Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton’s hook up. The two will co-star in an upcoming studio production “Joyful Noise,” a gospel film to be released by Alcon Entertainment.
While Latifah’s acting career has been on fire lately, with her recent role in “Just Wright,” she is set to play the part of a mother of two and new choir directress after the former director dies. Parton on the other hand will play the choir’s widow who wants to take the previous role of her dead husband as directress.
The film will center its story on an unlikely partnership between these two female characters who are forced to work together to save a small town gospel choir after budget cuts threaten to shut them down.
Todd Graff, who previously worked on “Bandslam” is on board to serve as both helmer and scribe for “Joyful Noise.”
The film is set to release some time in 2012.
Clint Eastwood, Bruce Springsteen Confirmed For TIFF
Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell
(August 24, 2010) Hollywood might seem like a ghost town Sept. 9-19, as hundreds of celebrities head east for the Toronto International Film Festival.
TIFF released its much-anticipated list Tuesday of nearly 500 top actors, directors and other celebrity guests expected at its annual 11-day celebration of world cinema.
The fest confirmed the Star’s earlier report that Oscar-winning actor/director Clint Eastwood will be coming to support his spooky new thriller Hereafter, making his first visit to TIFF in 20 years.
Also confirmed is rocker Bruce Springsteen, who will chat onstage in a Mavericks session with actor Edward Norton about Thom Zimny’s The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, which documents the difficult gestation of Springsteen’s fourth album with his E Street Band.
Other bold faces headed for Hogtown include funnyman Bill Murray, who stars in the thriller Passion Play, and billionaire Bill Gates, who will attend a Mavericks panel discussion on education for the documentary Waiting for “Superman”.
There will also be enough Oscar-winning actors and directors to put on a convincing facsimile of an Academy Awards telecast.
The latter include Robert Redford, Woody Allen, Danny Boyle, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Hilary Swank, Helen Mirren, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Connelly and Javier Bardem, amongst many others.
Rising young stars headed our way include Canada’s Ellen Page and Xavier Dolan, plus Carey Mulligan, Freida Pinto, Emma Roberts, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings and Kodi Smit-McPhee, who will have plenty of youthful company.
International talent getting passports ready include Catherine Deneuve, Om Puri, Aamir Khan, Jeon Do-Yeon and Vincent Cassel, joining stars and directors from around the globe.
TIFF will also be hosting the North American premieres of the Palme d’Or winner from Cannes, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and New Wave stalwart Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialism. Weerasethakul is a confirmed guest, and TIFF is still hoping to persuade Godard to make his first Toronto visit in 13 years.
Piers Handling, the TIFF CEO and co-director, said he feels like Capt. Kirk being handed the keys to the Starship Enterprise, since this year’s fest also marks the opening of TIFF’s new Bell Lightbox headquarters.
“It’s like beam me up, you know?” he said in an interview. “You’re just about to launch into space. What a great feeling!”
Handling said the Lightbox could prove to be a life raft for films that are struggling in today’s blockbuster-dominated movie industry.
“We started the (Lightbox) project 10 years ago, and we had no idea of the shakedown that was going to happen. And now 10 years later, 2010, you sort of say to yourself, wow, we may have actually caught a moment where the building is going to fulfill a major role in sustaining film culture. Not just in Toronto . . . but also possibly in North America and hopefully internationally.”
Handling said no single theme dominates this year’s roster of 246 features and several dozen short films, but many of them reflect the post-9/11 mood of “a world of great uncertainty, with people not quite sure about what’s around the corner.”
A number of films deal with human rights, the environment, and issues of education and children, Handling added.
“It’s an eclectic year, a troubled year, an uncertain year, with some really, really strong films.”
Cameron Bailey, the other TIFF co-chairman, described this year’s selections as a bumper crop.
“It’s our 35th anniversary, our first year in Bell Lightbox, and I think we’ve managed to come up with a line-up that matches the occasion. To have people like Eastwood and Redford and Danny Boyle’s new movie all making their world premieres here, I think is major. And it’s the right year to have that kind of heavyweight line-up.”
In unveiling its final major program additions, TIFF also announced the complete slate for its Contemporary World Cinema, Discovery, Masters, Mavericks, and Visions and Vanguard programs. Full details are online at www.tiff.net.
The complete TIFF 2010 guest list follows:
The following actors and other celebrity guests are expected to attend the festival:
Abigail Breslin,Adelaide Clemens
Anna Mae Routledge
Andy Sparacino,April Telek
Bill Gates,Bill Murray
Bob Hoskins,Bruce Greenwood
Carey Lovelace,Carey Mulligan
Christopher C.J. Wallace
Danielle Harris,Daphne Rubin-Vega
Dave Lawrence,David Suzuki
Emma Stone,Emmanuel Bilodeau
Jake Johnson,James Caan
Juan Diego Botto
Julie Bilson Ahlberg
Kristin Scott Thomas
Lesley Chilcott,Lesley Manville
Maya Hawke,Megan Fox
Michael C. Hall
Morgan Davidoff,Nadia Litz
Natalie Portman,Nicole Kidman
Paul J. Spence
Reece Thompson,Rick Miller
Robert De Niro
Ruth Charney,Ruth Sheen
Sarah Peter,Sarah Silverman
Stephen Eric McIntyre
Thomas Haden Church
Tracy Lawrence,Uma Thurman
William B. Davis
William H. Macy
Yasmin Paige,Zach Braff
The following filmmakers are expected to attend TIFF:
Álex de la Iglesia
Andy De Emmony
Apichatpong Weerasethakul,Atom Egoyan
Ben C. Lucas
Brian D. Johnson
Charlotte Sachs Bostrup
Chris Chong Chan Fui & Yasuhiro Morinaga
David M. Rosenthal
Djo Tunda Wa Munga
Dustin Lance Black
Emmanuel Shirinian & Russell Bennett
Gilles Paquet Brenner
Guy Moshe,Hans Olson
J. Clay Tweel
James Andean & Francois Xavier Saint-Pierre
John Cameron Mitchell
José Luis Guerin
Julio Hernández Cordón
Kelly Reichardt,Ken Loach
Kevin Jerome Everson
Ky Nam Le Duc
Liz Van Allen Cairns
Laurent Courtiaud,Louis Bélanger
Lynn Hershman Leeson
Manuel Martin Cuenca
Nick Fox Gieg
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Reha Erdem,Richard Ayoade
Richard J. Lewis
Risteard Ó Domhnaill
Sara St. Onge
William D. MacGillivray
The Switch - Film Review
Source: by Kam Williams
The well-saturated blurb for The Switch asserts that the film comes “From the people who brought you Juno and Little Miss Sunshine.” That’s a serious claim given that each of those hilarious hits landed an Academy Award in the Best Original Screenplay category. Regrettably, I found myself scratching my head asking what happened during this relatively-funereal flick’s closing credits.
As it turns out, however, Juno was written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, while Little Miss Sunshine was written by Michael Arndt and co-directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. And none of the above were on The Switch’s creative team. Comparing the casts, the only name that resurfaces is that of Justin Bateman, who enjoyed a supporting role in Juno. Therefore, excuse me for wondering what exactly The Switch’s marketing team meant with all the misleading hype?
Had the movie actually measured up to the films upon whose success it sought to trade, I wouldn’t have found the false advertising so annoying. But this pretender pales in comparison, starting with a storyline too farfetched to take seriously.
Unmarried Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston), a career-oriented, NYC television producer, is desperate to have a baby because she hears her biological clock ticking. She reflexively rejects the offer of her BFF Wally (Bateman) to serve as the sperm donor because he’s a hypochondriac, and she doesn’t want a child carrying DNA with the same traits.
But rather than retain the anonymous services of an artificial insemination clinic, Kassie settles on Roland (Patrick Wilson), a seemingly happily-married stranger who meets her requirements, being tall and handsome with a good sense of humour. Next, she invites all her friends over for an “I’m Getting Pregnant Party” during which an inebriated Wally, in a fit of jealousy, sneaks into the bathroom to replace Roland’s semen with his own before Kassie has had a chance to inject any into her womb.
Soon enough, she’s expecting, quits her job, and moves home to Minnesota which she considers a better place to raise a child. Fast-forward seven years and she’s returning to New York with six year-old Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), having been seduced back to the Big Apple by the dangling carrot of a plumb position at ABC-TV.
Once settled in Manhattan, Kassie introduces her son to Wally who can’t help but notice a resemblance in that the kid is afflicted with the same concatenation of tics and neuroses as he. Mom also contacts Roland, Sebastian’s supposed biological father, who is now conveniently divorced. As love blossoms between Kassie and Roland with matrimony looming on the horizon, the fly in the ointment is the possibility of Wally spilling the beans about Sebastian’s paternity in order to and ruin the wedding plans.
Resting upon a patently-felonious premise more criminal than humorous, The Switch is never funny and elicited exactly one unforced laugh from this critic. One. A worse protagonist to win the girl’s heart in the end is hard to imagine, for unrepentant “I don’t remember doing it” Wally, like a true unrecovered alcoholic deep in denial, avoids taking ownership of his deliberate frustration of Kassie’s desires or his violation of her body.
A walkout-bad, ‘bait and switch’ rip-off bearing less resemblance to Juno or Little Miss Sunshine than to terrible TV sitcoms revolving around the shopworn ‘one big lie’ plot device.
Poor (½ star)
Rated PG-13 for nudity, sexuality, profanity, drug use and mature themes.
Running time: 100 Minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films
To see a trailer for The Switch, visit HERE
Tip “T.I.” Harris - The
Source: by Kam Williams
Tip “T.I.” Harris is one of his generation’s most captivating speakers and one of the biggest hip-hop artists of all time. Whether they see him conversing with a room full of young people about staying in school and following their dreams, or moving tens of thousands at one of his concerts, audiences are always engrossed by the words of the “King of the South.” In 2008, T.I. delivered his most potent and important LP to date, “Paper Trail,” and his highly-anticipated, seventh studio album, “King Uncaged,” is set to be released this Fall.
T.I.’s second professional love is acting in films, and in this arena he has taken major steps forward in recent years. He made his motion picture debut in 2006 in the Warner Bros. film A.T.L. He also appeared in the hit Universal film American Gangster opposite Denzel Washington, and guest-starred on HBO’s hit series “Entourage” in 2008. T.I. recently signed a three-picture deal with Screen Gems that will have him both acting in and producing movies.
Music and movies are just the leading edge of T.I.’s entertainment conglomerate. He’s also expanding into comedy tours, the nightclub and restaurant scene, talent management, and record producing. Plus, he has launched his own fashion line, Akoo.
Here, he talks about his new movie, Takers, a crime caper abut a gang of bank robbers who decide to pull off one last heist before retiring. The film co-stars Zoe Saldana, Chris Brown, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Michael Ealy and Hayden Christensen.
Kam Williams: Hey, T.I., thanks for the time.
TI: No problem, how you doing?
KW: I’m great. The last time we spoke was for the premiere of ATL. So, a lot has happened for you since then.
TI: Yeah, right.
KW: First of all, congratulations on your wedding last month. You finally made an honest woman of Tameka. Children’s book author Irene Smalls says congrats and wants to know how being married has changed you.
TI: [Chuckles] Man, please, we’re here to talk about the movie. It would be wonderful to just talk about the movie.
KW: Well then, what interested you in Takers? It seems like you had a hand in every aspect of this project, from acting to the soundtrack to executive producing
TI: I was just producing, not executive producing. It was an outstanding experience. I had a phenomenal time, and I’m very, very proud of the outcome.
KW: How did you manage to assemble such an accomplished cast? There’s not only Oscar-nominees Matt Dillon and Marianne-Jean Baptiste, but Zoe Saldana, Hayden Christensen, Idris Elba, Chris Brown, Paul Walker and Jay Hernandez as well.
TI: I think that the script did most of the work in terms of attracting the talent, because it was so exciting that everybody jumped at the opportunity not only to work together but to be a part of something we felt had so much potential.
KW: And how did working with this ensemble turn out?
TI: Man, it was an honour and a pleasure.
KW: It even has a chase scene with Chris Brown doing some parkour, that French, free-running form of movement popularized in District B-13 and the first James Bond film with Daniel Craig.
TI: Yeah, it definitely reads like a fast-paced, high-energy action flick.
KW: How did you prepare for your role?
TI: I think the first step in preparing for this or any other role involves developing a clear understanding of the script, and then mentally placing yourself in the scenarios of your character.
KW: I see that people are already calling Takers “T.I. 11” and “The T.I. Job,” allusions to Ocean’s 11 and The Italian Job. How do you feel about that?
TI: I mean, man, I’m just pleased to be talked about in the same breath as the elite of action films. You know what I’m saying? The comparison is an honour all in itself.
KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles asks, what message do you want audiences to take away from this movie?
TI: That there is no good without bad. That karma is real. And that you can’t go through life doing only bad and expect good to come of it.
KW: What type of audience do you expect the movie to attract?
TI: A very diversified one over a broad spectrum.
KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?
TI: [Laughs] Man, that’s a tough question to answer. I try to cook whatever the kids and the family want to eat. Let’s see, here… I got a fresh shrimp dish that I prepare fairly well that has become a household favourite. I marinate it in a special parmesan sauce. [Chuckles]
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
TI: My reflection. [Laughs] That’s another very difficult question…[Pauses to think] I see the man that I’ve grown to become.
KW: Director/author Hisani Dubose says, “As soon as a rap artist, sports figure or actor becomes well known, everyone says they are a role model for kids. How do you feel about that?”
TI: I feel that we are all one another’s examples in life. And if my experiences, past and present, can help guide a young person in the right direction, then so be it.
KW: The Nancy Lovell Question: Why do you love doing what you do?
TI: I’m just a passionate person by nature. So, I have a lot of love for music, and a drive to succeed in general, be it film, be it fashion, or whatever the case may be. I put a lot of myself in all of my work. That passion carries over into each of my endeavours.
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
TI: [LOL] Absolutely! The happiest I’ve ever been.
KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
TI: Just now, when you asked me if I was happy.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
TI: Not of anything but God. I think fear is a wasted emotion.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
TI: The Bible.
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod?
TI: I listen to a lot of old school R&B. I don’t get many opportunities to listen to much else right now because we’re in the final stages of the recording process.
KW: When will the album be finished?
TI: We’re taking the time necessary to dedicate the necessary attention to the marketing and promotion of the movie first. After that, we will completely submerge ourselves into the completion of the album.
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
TI: Just for healthy, productive, successful lives for my children and the rest of my family.
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
TI: The first day of school in kindergarten.
KW: How would you describe yourself in one word?
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favourite clothes designer?
TI: I don’t want to sound vain, but that would have to be my own fashion line, Akoo.
KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
TI: I don’t feel the need to feel guilty about any of my pleasures. [Chuckles]
KW: What has been the happiest moment of your life?
TI: The births of my children.
KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be?
TI: Just as a stand-up guy, man, who put his family first, and who put a lot of passion and sincerity into his work.
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
TI: Nah, nah, nah, I think I’ve been asked just about everything you can be asked.
KW: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?
TI: [Laughs] They’ve already been helping me throughout my career. Their continued love and support is enough for me. The only other thing outside of that is sharing their honest opinion of what could be done better. Keep it real with me, that’s all.
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
TI: If you set out trying to follow in my footsteps, you won’t achieve what I achieved without doing everything I did wrong, too. So, in order to do everything right and end up in a similar position without also making the mistakes I made, you have to aim higher. You have to endeavour to be better than me. On a daily basis, I’m always pushing and challenging myself to be better.
KW: Well, thanks again for anther great interview, T.I., and best of luck with the movie and the album.
TI: Thank you, Kam. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Later!
To see a trailer for Takers, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWLiXfH62w0
To order a copy of T.I.’s new CD, King Uncaged, visit HERE
Groundbreaking Documentary Explores Sensitive Subject of Biraciality
Source: by Kam Williams
You know you’re watching a groundbreaking documentary when it not only forces you out of your comfort zone but also manages to persuade you to reassess your point-of-view without resorting to potentially-alienating polemic. This is the case with Biracial, Not Black, Damn It!, a poignant, thought-provoking and ultimately most-enlightening film directed by the brilliant Carolyn Battle Cochrane.
The product of a mixed marriage herself, Carolyn sets the tone during the opening credits of her labour of love when she wistfully states, “My mother is the most incredible role model, and she’s a white woman.” This matter-of-fact comment is, at first blush, slightly startling, since she looks like a sister and, let’s face it, we’ve all been culturally conditioned to see anyone who’s even partially-black as simply all-black.
However, the picture subtly implores you to rethink that reflexive tendency to lump biracials and blacks together unfairly. For instance, who wouldn’t be moved after hearing Carolyn, while sitting on the steps of a brownstone in the ‘hood, confront another’s prejudice with, “I think the tragedy is when you shrug your shoulders when I say it’s an identity issue.” This insightful observation by the filmmaker is only one of many by a variety of biracial adults, teens and children about what it feels like to be pigeonholed in a country with a color line when you undeniably actually happen to be equal parts black and white.
Overly embraced by African-Americans as if solely their own, yet kept at a distance by Caucasians for not being purebred lily-white, the subjects of this expose’ tend to find themselves languishing in a limbo neither of their liking nor making. “I don’t know why we have to choose,” one interviewee says tearfully. Another, who refuses to deny half of her heritage, asserts, “When you say you’re black, when you’re really mixed, you’re passing for black.”
Again and again, the theme of ethnic identity is addressed in a revealing manner, from the white mother who wonders, “How did I give birth to just black kids?” to the innocent little girl often asked by strangers what color she is who perplexedly looks down at her own arm and shrugs, “a tannish color.”
Nonetheless, there is much hope on the horizon for this invisible segment of society more in search of understanding than sympathy. After all, the census reflects that biracials are the fast growing demographic in the nation. Hence, the spirited discussion, here, about Barack Obama, indicting the President for passing up a priceless opportunity to put biracials on the map.
“He talks about ‘change’ but wouldn’t change constitute teaching white people that he is of them as well as black?” one participant suggests. “Why doesn’t America, black or white, want to see him as biracial?” asks another.
Credit Carolyn Battle Cochrane for having the guts to pose the tough questions about a taboo topic to elicit the heartfelt, sobering reflections from members of a momentarily marginalized group collectively poised to emerge as the face of 21st Century America.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 141 Minutes
Distributor: Battlecatt Productions
To see a trailer for Biracial, Not Black, Damn It!, visit HERE
To order a copy of Biracial, Not Black, Damn It! on DVD, visit HERE
Jasmine Guy New Producing Director for True Colors
Source: www.eurweb.com By Ricardo Hazell
(August 22, 2010) *This fall, actress and director Jasmine Guy joins the True Colors team as a producing director. She joins True Colors Theatre artistic director Kenny Leon for the 2010-2011 season. Guy, who first appeared on “A Different World,” will also be featured in the regional premiere of Nathan Louis Jackson’s “Broke-ology” directed by Leon, she’ll direct George C. Wolfe’s “The Colored Museum” and will star in Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” “We are fortunate to provide an artistic home for one of America’s great artists,” says Leon in a True Colors email. “We’re looking forward to adding Jasmine’s collaborative nature, intellect and vision to the True Colors team and we are sure she will contribute to True Colors’ core values of boldness, respect, abundance and laughter.” True Colors 2010-2011 season kicks off Sept. 28 with the world premiere of “Gut Bucket Blues: The Legendary Bessie Smith” written and directed by David Bell.
A Dance Show As Diverse As Canada
Source: www.thestar.com - Debra Yeo
(August 23, 2010) So you think So You Think You Can Dance Canada is just about dance? Think again.
For executive producer Sandra Faire, the show represents Canada in all its multicultural glory.
“A lot of people ask me what makes the show different from the United States or Australia or Britain. And I can say the dancers are more diverse, you know, Cuban, Asian, East Indian, whatever . . . the genres are more diverse, but . . . I would flip it around and say this show represents who we are,” she said in an interview.
Take this season's top 22, just revealed on Sunday night. They include a salsa dancer who recently emigrated from Cuba, a ballroom dancer born in Ukraine, a contemporary dancer born in Kuwait, a Spanish-Haitian-Canadian hip-hop dancer, a French Canadian ballroom dancer, and a competitor who's part Métis and combines ballet with breakdancing.
But it's not just about the origins of the dancers. The Canadian show has introduced styles not seen on other versions of So You Think You Can Dance, including dancehall and Afro-jazz.
“Dancehall is Jamaican and Caribbean. It's huge in the Jane-Finch area and I wanted to show it because it's exciting,” Faire said.
“Sometimes we get criticized because it's very down and dirty, but it's part of who we are and it's very much a part of our culture, and we want those kinds of things on the show.”
Since Calgary choreographer Sean Cheesman was invited to SYTYCDC to do Afro-jazz, he's been hired on the U.S. and Australian shows, and all over the world for that style of choreography, Faire said.
She also believes the Canadian program has two of the best hip-hop choreographers in the world on its team: Luther Brown, who is also a judge, and Sho-Tyme.
Hip hop is “more than a dance,” Faire said. “It's the culture of the streets. It's about sex, it's about violence, it's about a lot of things and you want to show that authentically in the dance.”
Brown, who grew up in Jane-Finch, and Sho-Tyme, from Queens, N.Y., “show it the way it is. It's not rhythm and blues, it's not nice, pretty hip hop, it's the way it authentically is and I love that about what they do.
“And I know we get criticized, but I don't want to water it down. And Canadian audiences are more accepting for the most part.”
Still, Faire is careful to air more risqué routines after 9 p.m.
A longtime dance fan who has studied ballet and is a vice-chair of the National Ballet of Canada, Faire believes Canadians are more passionate about dance than Americans. And she notes that the Canadian show has more men in the studio audience than its U.S. counterpart.
“I think the American show is terrific and I have such respect for Nigel (Lythgoe, U.S. executive producer), but it's a different show here, it's a very different show.”
For one thing, the U.S. SYTYCD turned the format on its head this past season — its seventh — with a top 11 instead of a top 20 and competitors partnered with all-stars from past seasons.
Faire says there's enough talent from past Canadian shows to support that change, but “I don't think we want to do it yet. Maybe Season 7 or 8 if we're lucky enough to get that.”
Besides, with so many great dancers auditioning for Season 3, it would have been excruciating to get it down to a top 10 or 11. “We could have actually had a top 26,” Faire said. “It was really hard paring it down and we had to turn down some really good dancers.”
Faire's not taking the Canadian show live, either, as the U.S. did last season. Though it may seem counterintuitive, pre-taping episodes allows for “total spontaneity,” she said.
“We got some stuff, for instance, tonight that I think is a lot of fun and I want to leave in, and we never would have had time for it if we were live,” said Faire, referring to the Saturday night taping of Monday's performance show.
Mind you, all that fun stuff meant producers had 20 minutes more footage than they needed for a two-hour show (with commercials) and Faire was facing an all-nighter to edit it down, but she wasn't complaining.
“It's a treat to be able to do something that you love, that you have a passion for, that you feel is your destiny,” she said. “How often does that happen? Not very often.”
Canadian Actress Andrea Roth Keeps Slugging It Out On
Source: www.thestar.com - David Hiltbrand
(August 24, 2010) It's been a stormy romance. To say the least.
For as long as we've known them, New York firefighter Tommy Gavin and his wife, Janet, have been rabidly scratching and clawing at each other on FX's gritty drama series Rescue Me.
(The show returns to Canadian TV for its sixth season on Sept. 1 at 10 p.m. on Showcase.)
You'd think at some point one of them would get weary of the constant squabbling and simply walk away.
“Given their family backgrounds, I think that would be considered a failure,” says Andrea Roth, who plays the hard-headed Janet opposite Denis Leary as Tommy. “So they keep slugging it out.”
Remarkably, Roth, 42, has made her vengeful housewife seem sympathetic.
“A lot of people saw that relationship and said, ‘I don't believe a woman would stay with a man who treated her like that or who was that way with his family,’” says Peter Tolan, the co-creator of Rescue Me. “Somehow Andrea, instead of making that character weak, brought the strength to Janet. She believed she was going to persevere and overcome this guy, drag him kicking and screaming to some sort of full potential.”
Roth’s performance is striking on a number of levels.
How does a model from Toronto end up playing the toughest working-class chick in New York?
“I don't know,” she says, laughing. “Possibly I'm overcompensating for being Canadian.”
For six seasons, Roth has been wearing her strongest armour to the set, because when Janet isn't battling Tommy, a firehouse rogue haunted by 9/11, she's usually warring with Sheila, her rival for Tommy’s affections. It's prime time’s best cat fight since Krystle and Alexis on Dynasty.
“Janet and Sheila are perfect foes in so many ways, even in their appearances,” says Callie Thorne, who plays Sheila. “Andrea is this gorgeous, tall, thin blond, and I am short and dark-haired. The energy of both characters is what makes for classic foils and polar opposites.”
If either of these ladies has been saving up a secret strategy for claiming Tommy’s wild, womanizing heart, they might want to begin the campaign now, because the end is nigh.
Leary wanted this to be Rescue Me’s last year, but FX was determined to get another season out of the show. A compromise was reached. Nineteen episodes were taped, nine of which will be held until next year.
The cast found itself in the curious position of taping the series finale in June, a climactic episode that fans will have to wait months to see.
“Everyone had a different experience,” Roth says. “Some people were very upset. Some were eager to move on. I had just had my baby girl, so I wanted only to get home.”
Roth’s daughter, Ava, arrived just as the last batch of shows were being hammered out. While everyone accommodated her new-mom status (“Denis turns to mush around children and animals,” she says), the actress was still glad to see the series winding down.
“I was grateful not to have to go to work — trying to remember lines with no sleep. Baby brain is real!”
A few months of maternity have drained all vestiges of Janet from Roth. Her voice radiates happiness and contentment.
Until, that is, she begins to recount this season's plot, in which Janet has invited Tommy to move back into her apartment so she can monitor his drinking.
“Interesting things are going to ensue with the two of us living together. That can only go wrong ultimately.”
That note of relish? Pure Janet.
Miss Haiti is Just What Devastated Country Needs
Source: www.eurweb.com By Ricardo Hazell
(August 21, 2010) *The first Miss Haiti in 22 years is not the typical contestant you’d find in a beauty pageant. She is a young lawyer who speaks four languages and is happy to be able to help her country after the horrific earthquake that devastated the impoverished Caribbean nation last January.
Sarodj Bertin had a privileged childhood in Puerto Principe until age 9, when her mother, lawyer and opposition leader Mireille Durocher Bertin, was gunned down after announcing the creation of a political party that would compete with that of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the upcoming elections.
Her father then moved Sarodj and his other children to the neighbouring Dominican Republic, where the 24-year-old beauty, who considered her mother her idol, studied law and worked for the International Alliance for Haiti’s Recovery.
Nevertheless, she was obsessed with the Miss Universe pageant. After the earthquake, she entered a contest, won and spent the last few months in Puerto Rico with the director of the Miss Dominican Republic and Miss Haiti franchises, Magali Febles, who took charge of her training for Miss Universe, to be held Aug. 23 in Las Vegas. (The pageant will air on NBC and Telemundo, 9 p.m.-11 p.m. EDT.)
In a recent interview at the Miss Universe headquarters in New York, Bertin spoke with The Associated Press about the importance of her new role, how she expects to help her country, and a mishap that would have been the end of the world to any other contestant: Her luggage with her entire Miss Universe wardrobe disappeared on a recent flight to Miami.
AP: What are you going to wear now that you have lost your Miss Universe wardrobe?
Bertin: The people of Haiti have been extremely supportive. They learned what happened and a few designers came to me and loaned me their gowns, bags, shoes. And I, I feel like the most special person in the world right now because they cared for me.
AP: You are a lawyer, you’re studying for a masters, you speak French, Spanish, English and Creole, and you are learning Mandarin. You are not the typical Miss Universe contestant.
Bertin: The Miss Universe pageant has always been a dream for me, since I was a kid. I used to watch the contest and think, “Why is my country not participating? I want to see Haiti participating.” … When I finished college, I gave up on the idea. I thought it would never happen. I thought someday … I could celebrate the contest and send a girl myself. So when they told me that they were going to do it this year … I trembled, I cried, I screamed.
Get the rest of this article HERE.
Jennifer Aniston To Guest On ‘Cougar Town’
Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press
(August 23, 2010) NEW YORK — Jennifer Aniston will pay a visit to old “friend” Courteney Cox on the season debut of ABC's Cougar Town next month. ABC said Monday that Aniston will portray a therapist who is being seen by Cox's character. It's a one-episode visit, scheduled for Sept. 22. The two actresses starred for many years on NBC's Friends. Cox is in her second season of Cougar Town, where she plays a character hungry for younger men. Aniston is promoting her new movie, The Switch.
Canadians Earn Rave Reviews In Edinburgh
Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian
(August 23, 2010) Some take the high road, some take the low road, but our Toronto performers are all winding up covered in glory at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.
Kristen Thomson’s I, Claudia has received glowing reviews from every front, receiving accolades like “touching, funny, sharply observed and poignant.” She was also nominated for The Stage’s award as “Best Solo Performer.”
Sharron Matthews, with her modestly titled Sharron Matthews Superstar has proven to be a real favourite, with five star notices from many reviewers. Kate Copstick, the outspoken critic from The Scotsman, wrote simply, “How f---ing good are you??? Wow!”
Anthony Black’s Invisible Atom walked off with the Herald Angel award for Best Production, while Alon Nashman’s Kafka and Son has been hailed for its “emotional depth” and “refreshing honesty.”
Matthews herself describes the non-stop excitement of the Edinburgh Fringe scene as “a raging river, so fast and furious that you just have to hold on or you will get swept away!”
But for the time being, it certainly seems like Matthews and her colleagues are being swept onward and upward by a tide of critical and popular success.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SARA: The dust has finally cleared over the much contested Roundabout Theatre transfer of the Stratford Festival 2009 hit production of The Importance of Being Earnest, but it looks like only two of the original cast members will be travelling down to New York: Brian Bedford (both as director and as Lady Bracknell) and Sara Topham as the lovely Gwendolyn.
It strikes most observers that the failure to cast the show’s leading men, Ben Carlson and Mike Shara, shows a certain sort of folly on the behalf of the Roundabout Theatre, but director Bedford claims the matter is out of his hands. (Pity, the part of Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar has already been cast.)
But don’t cry for Carlson and Shara. Carlson will be appearing as Feste in Twelfth Night and Alceste in The Misanthrope, while Shara will be Orsino in Twelfth Night and Teddy in The Homecoming.
So who’s going to appear as Algernon and Jack opposite Bedford on Broadway? Well, knowing the Roundabout’s penchant for often inappropriate celebrity casting, don’t be surprised if it turns out to be Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.
NEWS FROM NIAGARA: Agent Fudge, my Niagara-on-the-Lake secret operative, is grumbling that the Shaw Festival management is keeping such a tight lid on next season that he’s worried about having very little to report.
So far, he’s already told us that My Fair Lady and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof will be part of the 2011 playbill and now he can add that J.M. Barrie’s The Admirable Crichton will join the list. It’s about the perfect butler whose overall superiority as a man to the upper class twits he serves is revealed when everyone is shipwrecked on a desert island.
The play has been seen before at Shaw in 1976, but surely 34 years has been enough time to dull everyone’s memories.
And there’s also a persistent rumour that the 2008 comedy hit, The President, will be revived, hopefully with its superb leading man, Lorne Kennedy.
But its delicious leading lady, Chilina Kennedy, is now otherwise engaged at the Stratford Festival.
Priscilla Queen Of The Killer Corset
Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian
(August 22, 2010) NEW YORK—It’s no wonder that Tony Sheldon should have no trouble singing “I Am Woman.” After all, his aunt, Helen Reddy is the star who first made the number a hit.
That’s just one of the theatrical tidbits that Sheldon gleefully dispenses in an exclusive interview, while munching on a BLT sandwich in New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood just before he starts rehearsing the leading role of Bernadette in Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical, Wednesday.
The show has already been a giant hit in Australia and London, with Sheldon earning kudos for his performance on both continents.
Now the rag-tag bunch of drag queens who first conquered the hearts of the world in the 1994 cult film about outcasts in the outback have set their sights on greener pastures.
After rehearsing in Manhattan, they’ll hit Toronto on Oct. 12 for the North American premiere of the show, finally winding up on Broadway in March 2011.
The dapper 55-year-old Sheldon is charm itself as he talks about his long and winding road to disco-ing his way across the desert in the multicoloured bus that gives the show its title.
“Back in 1994, I was touring Australia with a show and we got invited to a private screening of the film,” he recalled.
“Quite frankly, I was shocked and appalled. I came from a show business family and I knew a lot of drag queens. They were elegant, sophisticated, polished people, not like these foul-mouthed rag-bags I saw in the screen.”
Sheldon raises his voice in anger. “No! That’s now how I wanted the world to think of Australia or of our drag queens.”
But time heals everything, and when the musical started being put together a decade later, the producers approached Sheldon, by then one of Australia’s top musical theatre talents, to appear.
“When they first asked me, I wasn’t that keen on it. I had just spent two years playing Roger De Bris in The Producers and I wasn’t in a big hurry to wear a dress again.
“But then I read the script and found there was now a great deal of warmth and humanity in it. It was just a 10-day workshop, so I said ‘What they hey?’”
Sheldon got the role of Bernadette and then the hard part began. “I’m not just playing a drag queen. I’m playing a post-operative transsexual who loves and thinks as a woman. I had to get rid of the whole man thing.”
“Terence Stamp (Bernadette in the original film) did a press conference with us where he said he wanted to concentrate on the pain of a person trapped in a body of the wrong gender.
“I thought, ‘Well that’s fine for you, love, but I don’t want to be doing it for three hours every night.’”
So he researched the grande dame of Australian drag on whom the role was based, a performer named Carlotta.
“She was very glamorous, very tits and feathers. She had it all. But she also had the dignity of an old-time Hollywood star. That’s what I clung to. Dignity.”
And while he was undergoing his own inner transformation, the show’s outer life was changing as well.
“We didn’t have the desert like the movie did, so what could we do? They very cleverly took all the songs from the background of the film and turned them into giant Ziegfieldian production numbers, which was brilliant.”
All was well in Australia, but when they started taking the show to London, “panic set in and they started changing all the references to British ones. I finally asked the director ‘Where the hell is the show taking place now?’ We put it all back the way it us, bit the bullet, and the audience came to us.
“After all, Billy Elliot works on its own terms around the world. Why shouldn’t we?”
Sheldon has been having a bit of a rest from the part for a few months, but he groans as he admits he has to get back into “training” again. “Those six-inch platform heels are killers. I have to take magnesium tablets because I’d wake up in the middle of the night with leg cramps.
“And then there’s the fingernails. I grow my own and spend a lot of time trying not to stab myself or other people in the eye with them.”
But what’s the toughest part of the transformation?
“The corset. Have you ever worn one? Take my advice, love, and don’t.”
Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical starts performances at the Princess of Wales Theatre on Oct. 12. For tickets go to www.mirvish.com or call 416-872-1212.
Mos Def on Broadway
Source: www.eurweb.com By Ricardo Hazell
(August 22, 2010) *Mos Def is a versatile man with so much to offer the entertainment world and his fan base. He has explored his talents, starring in film productions like “Next Day Air” and plenty others. Now he’s going back to theatre and will star in Lincoln Center’s production of John Guare’s “A Free Man of Color.” The play will begin previews on Oct. 21 before opening on Nov. 18. Staring alongside Mos will be Jeffrey Wright as Jacques Cornet and Paul Dano, Peter Bartlett, Nicole Beharie, Arnie Burton and more. There is no confirmation as of yet of what role Mos will play. He has not forsaken his music folks. He recently linked up with Kanye West to produce a remix of “Power.” The track will include Swizz Beatz, Clipse’s Push T, and Nicki Minaj.
Video: ‘Life After’ for Comedian Mark Curry Was Almost
Source: www.eurweb.com By Ricardo Hazell
(August 22, 2010) *Once upon a time comedian Mark Curry was at the top of the ladder with his own sitcom, “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” on ABC. You couldn’t get much higher than that for a black comedian back in the 1990s.
Back when you were seeing Curry and Holly Robinson-Peete on a weekly basis it seemed like the sky was the limit. But, sometimes the sky is not the limit, in fact most of the time it’s not. What once seemed like a promising career had suffered some setbacks that are often times only whispered about by those in the know. Now, come tonight, Monday, August 23rd, you will be in the know, too as TV One’s “Life After” presents its episode on comedian Mark Curry.
“Why did I decide to do it? You know what? I don’t know,” Curry told our Lee Bailey when asked why he decided to be a subject for the show. “I like to do an interview every now and then. I would like to say to reveal it to my community every once in a while. TV One is great, I like TV One. So, I figured, if Ron Artest can do it I can do it. I love Ron Artest and I want people to see what I am doing. “
During our interview with Mark Curry it became quite obvious that the brother had been through the ringer in the 10 years or so that “Mr. Cooper” has been off the airwaves. But now he’s back on his grind and trying to get his mind right.
It’s just because people are always saying ‘What are you doing?’ and I am doing stand up right now. A lot of people don’t know that. After doing ‘Mr. Cooper’ I felt like my stand up wasn’t as (good) anymore. “
Though the mainstream media, as well as fans of Mark Curry, might feel as if “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” was the pinnacle of his career, he tells EURweb.com that it may have been the beginning of his downward spiral.
“I started doing ‘Mr. Cooper’ and I felt like I changed into a totally different person,” he explained. “Money makes you less funny. I don’t know why, but I felt like I wasn’t funny anymore. Before ‘Mr. Cooper’ I was funny as heck, but then I started going ‘they don’t pay me enough money to do that. That’s not enough money. Blah, blah, blah.’ You start getting unfunny. I’m back on the road and I’m funny again … the little black clubs that I wouldn’t play, the big rich white clubs, any club that I can get my mic on. Now I’m funny, I feel funny and I am confident that I am funny. “
Curry’s ‘Mo’ Money, Less Funny’ equation is something often mused about among fans of comedy, but to hear one actually say it is a little bit of a trip. So, if we’re traveling aboard that train of thought, one wonders if Curry’s assertion that his return to funny mean he’s broke now? Is funny to a successful comedian similar to the Kingdom of God and a rich man? To Curry and those like him, funny is heaven and it’s worth the pain.
And speaking of pain, On “Life After,” the comedian talks about an incident where he was hospitalized after getting burned when he inadvertently knocked an aerosol can of spray starch off a shelf. The can hit a metal wall bracket that connected the water heater to a wall and ruptured, causing an explosion and a fire that engulfed him. He suffered second degree burns over 18% of his body.
“Yes I did get burned. But that’s not the focal point of the show. I won’t go into it much, but after that I had to change my life because I almost died. I was in a coma for 2 days. It was really, really bad. But it changed my life and comedy. It was almost like a revelation for me. I will be funny, I am going to change my comedy and I am not going to care anymore about what I say. Before I was always picky about what I said. I was more concerned with the audience. “
A comedian changing their comedy is as risky as a rapper changing his rhyme style. It’s a high risk, low reward type of thing. But Cooper tells EURweb.com that it was almost as if his peace of mind depended on it.
“I changed my life and my comedy. I’m a comic so my life revolves around being funny. If I am not funny then I am depressed,” he candidly admitted. “That’s why some times you see a comedian that doesn’t do so well and just kind of falls off. It emotionally affects you because that’s all we got. We’ve got a routine and if that routine is terrible then it’s like you’re walking in a desert with all the money that you want. Trust me, all these guys that used to be comedians, they can have 20 million in their pocket, but they all want to do standup. Trust me. They know if they’re funny or not. I don’t want to have it be ‘Life After’ being burned because my life is much more than that. “
Though Curry appeared to be speaking freely during the entire interview, it appears as though he tried to crawl into a bit of a shell when we asked him to expound on the incident.
“I don’t like talking about it because everybody keeps asking me the same question. I want to move on. I was depressed, and I wanted to kill myself,” he admitted. “It’s just that everybody wants to talk about it. I understand what you’re saying, but every article that’s all people want to talk about. I don’t want to talk about that and everything. Taking me back to that depressing place is hard for me. People look at you and think ‘Is he still burned?’ Remember, I got to go out and sell tickets.”
However, after some convincing from Lee, Curry continued.
“I was in the hospital and tubes were sticking out of everywhere. I asked them to bring me a pen and a yellow notepad. And I put on my answering machine ‘Hey, I’m burnt up! Fire! I’m about to choke from the smoke. My arm looks like Kentucky Fried Chicken.’ And that’s exactly what got me through all of this, the jokes.’ I felt into a deep depression but I think I’m out of it. Although I still fall back into it from time to time. “
It seems as if depression is an integral part of being a comedian. Without the pain the comedy is not as funny. If that’s so, if good comedy can only come from great pain, then these truly are tears of a clown. Everyone needs someone to talk to every once in a while, but a long standing taboo exists among African Americans, males in particular.
“It’s hard being Mr. Cooper, but I didn’t get no help for (the depression), and you know black people don’t like to get help; I dealt with it on my own. I tried to kill myself and I don’t really know what happened. I wasn’t really burned up that bad. It was fairly recent. It happened maybe out 2 or 3 years ago. I didn’t get help. I didn’t go do it, not at all. I didn’t know how to do it and I didn’t really seek that. I don’t trust Los Angeles at all for business. These people are fake. It’s hard being popular. I don’t trust everybody. So, I dealt with it ghetto style, on my own. I’m OK, I think. It took me through an emotional situation that was so powerful that it taught me how to deal with my emotions. “
Though Curry has stated that he doesn’t trust Hollywood types, he does trust others in the fraternity of black comedy that he will forever be a member of. One of them was a big help in him coming through the storm clouds of depression.
“You know who really helped me? George Wallace the comedian,” said Curry. All could think about was how I was going to get out of this. George Wallace sent me a book. And I’m thinking ‘What the hell am I gonna do with a book? I don’t want no damn book.’ It was a Joel Osteen book. The words were so encouraging and I read the book and it pushed me to another level. “
“Chris Tucker called me a couple times, Martin Lawrence, Sinbad, Bill Cosby. Mr. Cosby called me when I was in the hospital. They all ripped me. All the comedians ripped me. They were all like ‘What were you doing? Barbecuing?’ It made me laugh, and that’s what we comedians do. We don’t know about emotions. We just knew how to talk mess through comedy. That also really helped me out, all the comedian friends that called me. It really pushed me forward. “
“Life After” will air its segment on Mark Curry tonight, Monday, Aug. 23 at 9pm EST on TV One. But will Curry be watching?
“No, I probably won’t watch it to tell you the truth. I like to wait and see what it’s like and then watch it by myself. I just hope that it’s funny. I don’t want people to watch it and think I’m crazy. I don’t know, I don’t know. Besides, I can’t because I am going to Japan.”
Mark Curry is an obviously talented, emotionally tormented comedian in the midst of resurgence or a tragic collapse. The final chapter is yet to be written, the full story remains untold. Quite frankly we’re concerned and we wish him the best.
Summertime, And The Gaming Is Easy
Source: www.thestar.com - Darren Zenko
(August 20, 2010) Look, I know I'm not supposed to be propagating the archaic image of video games as “time wasters,” but sometimes that cruel shoe fits. Especially in the summer, when maybe you've got a little bit more clock to kill before vacation, or you're idling in an airport lounge, or huddling in a tent against the rain — admit you take your laptop camping, man; it's the 21st century — there's a role for quick-playing, light-hearted, cheap-as-free gaming diversions. Allow me to make some recommendations of the house . . .
(bigfishgames.com; Windows; $6.99, one-hour free trial)
This is my feel-good summertime jam, the “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” of gaming. Basically, it's the mechanics of solitaire expressed through a golf metaphor, right down to the soothing birdsong, the sighs and polite golf-claps of the crowd, and the folksy corniness of the announcers. Agony and ecstasy as your strategy pays off with massive drives, or you duff it and fail to clear the water hazards. Completely addictive; the one-hour free trial is more than enough for this perfect gem of a casual game to grab you tight.
(various; browser; almost all free)
Of all the strange sub-genres that comprise gaming's indie/underground scene, the strangest — and, strangely, one of the most familiar to gamers of a certain age — may be the “room escape” games. Locked in a room, players must hunt every nook and cranny for the means of escape, solving weird puzzles along the way. Varying widely in style, themes and quality, there are hundreds of these little mindbenders; casual-game blog Jay Is Games maintains an extensive, and extensively reviewed, clearinghouse — complete with walkthroughs for the frustrated — at jayisgames.com/tag/escape.
(canabalt.com; browser, free; $2.99 iPhone)
The pace and strategy of golf-as-card-game is too pokey for you; the moon logic of room-escape puzzles just ticks you off. You want action, you want it quick, you want it in short, intense bursts, and you don't want to monkey with a bunch of controls. Buddy, you want Canabalt. A sweet-looking, breakneck sprint across collapsing rooftops, this little endorphin-dispenser is controlled with a single click/tap, and the entire instruction manual can be boiled down into a paraphrase of Curtis Armstrong's famous skiing tips from Better Off Dead: “Go that way, real fast; if something gets in your way, jump!” Simple and hot, like summer should be.
(spelunkyworld.com; Windows; free)
Kicking it old-school in a blend of Lode Runner cave-crawling, Indiana Jones-style adventuring and platform action, Derek Yu's Spelunky is never the same game twice . . . but it's always intense, always fun, and always punishingly difficult like you sometimes want games to be. Levels are randomly generated, so you never know where the next Golden Idol, Trapped Damsel or Shotgun Salesman is going to be — and watching how each level's random elements interact is a big part of the fun. Maybe the best free game ever.
(clockwords.us; browser; free)
I just got into this game last week, and it's made it pretty tough to get anything done . . . but I'm a sucker for games that combine traditionally low-intensity abilities (a large vocabulary; good spelling; typing skills) with frantic action (blasting steampunk robot spiders). Type words, as big as you can and as fast as you can, to blast incoming creeps bent on stealing your secrets, making use of powered-up letters for extra impact and special shots. You haven't felt a video-game rush until you've splutted a half-dozen mechanical insects with the power of PRESTIDIGITATION.