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March 11, 2010

March comes in like a warm lamb, didn't it!  OK, so I was in
St. Maarten but I heard all about the warm temperatures and it is certainly nicer to land back into Toronto with it NOT being covered in snow. 

Look for coverage of the 30th Heineken Regatta and me hanging with the one and only Maxi Priest who was the headliner for the closing party in next week's newsletter.  But check out some great pics in my PHOTO GALLERY

Don't forget about
Soweto Gospel Choir performing in their last west coast show in Kelowna on March 13th!

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

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


Soweto Gospel Choir (SGC) In Partnership With World Vision Canada Brings Africa To Canada For Two Special Appearances – Kelowna

Source:  Full Capacity Concerts

(March 1, 2010) Soweto Gospel Choir (SGC) in partnership with World Vision Canada brings Africa to Canada for a remaining special appearance – SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR - LIVE IN CONCERT -
MARCH 13, 2010 in Kelowna at the Kelowna Community Theatre (1375 Water Street).

The two-time Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir, is heralded as one of the most exciting groups to emerge in world music in recent years. Drawing from the best talent that Soweto, Africa, has to offer – churches and surrounding communities --the choir’s vibrancy comes from the culmination of individual talent and life experiences that makeup the diversity of the group.

Under the direction of choirmaster David Mulovhedzi, SGC performs in six different languages, including English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho.  Through vibrant rhythm, movement and its renowned vocal tapestry, the Choir performs a repertoire that reflects some of the history of their Rainbow Nation, songs of remembrance for the past, as well as songs of joy and praise for the present and future. 

Their repertoire is rich, soulful and honest.  SOWETO GOSPEL Choir has expanded to include 52 members who are divided into two choirs made up of 26 members each, for international touring
. With worldwide acclaim the choir has experienced colossal success appealing to sold out audiences worldwide -- the UK, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands as well as the USA & Canada to name a few. 

They have shared the stage with music industry notables:  Bono, Queen, Annie Lennox, Dionne Warwick, Jimmy Cliff and Celine Dion, shared top billing in Paris with South African legend, Johnny Clegg, was the support act to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Germany and recorded with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant for the Fats Domino tribute album, “Going Home” and Peter Gabriel on the Disney Pixar Wall-e soundtrack.

The choir has sung on numerous occasions for the father of democracy in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was the guest stars at Oprah’s famous 2007 New Year’s party at Sun City, performed for Bill Clinton and sang Happy Birthday to its beloved Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

A portion of the proceeds from each Soweto Choir Show will go to World Vision’s Haitian Emergency Relief Fund.

World Vision is a development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision’s goal is to encourage the Canadian public to join the work of combating poverty and improving the lives of children and their families around the world.  (www.worldvision.ca)

For more information on Soweto Gospel Choir: www.sowetogospelchoir.com
For more show information: www.fullcc.com

“A singularly joyful sound” - O Magazine”, USA

“These absolutely thrilling singers need nothing but their voices to make dazzling music” - Billboard” CD Review

MARCH 13, 2010
Kelowna Community Theatre
1375 Water Street
Kelowna, BC  V1Y 1J4
General Admission: $39.50 (plus GST and SC) 
Tickets for Kelowna (March 13) available at www.ticketpro.ca or call 1-888-655-9090 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 
1-888-655-9090      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Seniors & Students: $34.50 (plus GST and SC)
For more information on Soweto Gospel Choir: www.sowetogospelchoir.com


Singer Melanie Fiona Saves Love For T-Dot

www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(March 07, 2010) With a coveted opening act slot on Alicia Keys' current North American tour, which hits the Air Canada Centre this Wednesday, Toronto native
Melanie Fiona has a message for GTA ticketholders: Come early!

"I go on at 7:30 and most people show up to shows late, for the headliner," said the singer/songwriter. "Be sure to come out and support Canadian, Toronto, home-grown talent. I'm going to try to revamp the Toronto show, because I really want people to feel involved and to feel like the show is catered to them. It is important for me to give home a little extra love, because that's where it all began for me."

Fiona doesn't have to beg; her ascendance since last summer's performance here at the Virgin Festival guarantees interest. She was nominated at the recent Grammy Awards for her goosebumps-rendering ballad "It Kills Me," which marked 10 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart (until being bumped this week by tourmate Robin Thicke). She's been the guest vocalist on tracks by Wale and KRS-One, was invited to participate in the "We Are the World" remake for Haiti Earthquake relief and her debut, The Bridge, just nabbed a Juno nomination.

No wonder she's noticed that the audience response on this tour, which kicked off in Montreal Feb. 28, is
much different from her last big opening act gig, in Europe with Kanye West in 2008.

"When I did the Kanye West tour, nobody knew who I was; I didn't even have a single out on radio. The Alicia Keys tour comes after I've been able to do some great things. My music has come out and people know it all over the world.

"And this bill is different; it's all vocalists and musicians. It's a different vibe. Kanye makes good music, but it's a hip-hop crowd. I feel like the people who are buying the tickets to come see the Alicia Keys tour are coming for the experience from start to finish."

The Star chatted with the entertainer by phone, just a few days into the six-week tour.

"Right now I have no address, literally," said Fiona 26, whose last address was her parents' Vaughan home. "After the tour, I'll have to get a more secure address. New York would probably be most likely, but I don't know where my travels will take me, or where my job will take me. New York is first choice."

She's looking forward to performing her first big Toronto arena show. Relatives and friends are equally amped.

"I'm getting all the calls. Usually, that's a headache, when an artist gets calls from everybody and his mom – `Can I get a ticket? Can I get a ticket?' – but back home it's exciting. I'm happy to do it, if I can pull as many tickets as possible for all my friends and family."

Though she lost the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance to Beyoncé, Fiona said the consideration was still a boon.

"The Grammy nod was what started this whole chain of events for me. That was an unforgettable moment and I get to always be proud and live up that moniker of being a Grammy-nominated artist.

"As a new artist you only hope to achieve certain things and I got this nomination in my first year. Some people would get comfortable – `Okay, I got that' – but I'm very ambitious. `So, what else can I accomplish in my career?' That nomination is now fuelling me to get nominated all the time and to go for the time when I actually do win."

The recently announced Juno nomination for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year means at long last recognition at home, where The Bridge was released first, last June, to little fanfare.

"Canada can be tough for urban music," Fiona has said previously. "It's like you've got to break in the States and bring that back home." She sang regularly at Toronto nightspots before penning "Dem Haters" for Rihanna's sophomore disc and garnering representation by Jay-Z's management firm, Roc Nation.

"I'm always so proud to be Canadian and now (with the Juno nomination) I have the feeling that Canadians recognize me and they appreciate what I'm doing and they're proud of what I'm doing. I'm looking forward to being a part of the Canadian music industry."

‘Lost Boys’ actor Corey Haim dies at 38

Source:  www.thestar.com - Robert Jablon

(March 10, 2010) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Corey Haim, a 1980s teen heartthrob for his roles in Lucas and The Lost Boys whose career was blighted by drug abuse, has died. He was 38.

The Toronto-born actor died at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday at a Burbank hospital, Los Angeles County coroner’s Lt. Cheryl MacWillie said.

An autopsy will determine the cause of death and there were no other details, she said. Sgt. Michael Kammert said there’s no evidence of foul play.

Haim had flu-like symptoms before he died and was getting over-the-counter and prescription medications, Sgt. William Mann said. The cause of death is unknown, Mann said.

“He could have succumbed to whatever (illness) he had or it could have been drugs. Who knows?” Mann said. “He has had a drug problem in the past.”

Haim was taken by ambulance to the hospital from an apartment in Los Angeles near Burbank. The enormous complex is known as Oakwood and is popular with young actors, Kammert said.

Haim acknowledged his struggle with drug abuse to The Sun in 2004.

“I was working on Lost Boys when I smoked my first joint,” he told the British tabloid.

“I did cocaine for about a year and a half, then it led to crack,” he said.

Haim said he went into rehabilitation and was put on prescription drugs. He took both stimulants and sedatives such as Valium.

“I started on the downers which were a hell of a lot better than the uppers because I was a nervous wreck,” he said. “But one led to two, two led to four, four led to eight, until at the end it was about 85 a day.”

In 2007, he told ABC’s Nightline that drugs hurt his career.

“I feel like with myself I ruined myself to the point where I wasn’t functional enough to work for anybody, even myself. I wasn’t working,” he said.

The baby-faced Haim got his start in television commercials at 10 and earned a good reputation for his work in such films as 1985’s Murphy’s Romance and his portrayal of Liza Minelli’s dying son in the 1985 television film A Time to Live.

The same year, he began appearing in the CBC TV series The Edison Twins.

His career peaked and he became a teen heartthrob with his roles in the 1986 movie Lucas, and The Lost Boys, in which he battled vampires.

In later years, he made a few TV appearances and had several direct-to-video movies. He also had a handful of recent movies that have not yet been released.

But in 1997 he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing debts for medical expenses and more than $200,000 in state and federal taxes.

His assets included a few thousand dollars in cash, clothing and royalty rights.

He was somewhat of a fixture in Toronto, where he reportedly frequented a neighbourhood bar and was not shy about approaching strangers to discuss attempts to get back into shape and return to the spotlight.

In recent years, Haim appeared in the A&E reality TV show The Two Coreys with his friend Corey Feldman. It was cancelled in 2008 after two seasons. Feldman later said Haim’s drug abuse strained their working and personal relationships.

In a 2007 interview on CNN’s Larry King Live, Haim called himself “a chronic relapser for the rest of my life.”

With files from The Canadian Press

NHL to Crack Down on Head Shots

Source:  www.thestar.com -
Peter Howell

(March 10, 2010) BOCA RATON, Fla.—It won't happen until next season, which is too bad.

The new rule on
head shots approved today by the NHL's general managers won't kick in until the 2010-11 season, which means there could be another incident like Sunday's Matt Cooke-Marc Savard ugliness during this regular season or the playoffs with the league helpless to do much about it.

"It's impossible to say to the referees, this is a call you now have to make tonight," said NHL vice-president Colin Campbell today.

First, the players and referees have to be educated and trained on the new head shot rule. The rule must also be approved by the NHL's competition committee and the board of governors, both of which will happen in June.

That said, if there's an incident tonight or next week that mirrors the Mike Richards hit on David Booth last fall, the hit that finally changed the thinking of most GMs, there's going to be an outcry.

"People are going to be asking why didn't we do anything," agreed Leafs GM Brian Burke.

As reported in The Star today, the new rule will have three components:

a hit primarily to the head from the side or the back will be illegal. One from the front which sees the shoulder contact the head is still okay.

a minor or major penalty will be assessed. It's also possible a game misconduct could be tacked on.

serious offences will likely include supplementary discipline, with an emphasis on repeat offenders.

"We're taking what is now a completely legal hit in our rulebook and saying that in the future it’s illegal if it is to the head," said Campbell.

The vote by the GMs was unanimous. Campbell, meanwhile, said he still hasn't decided whether to take action on the Cooke incident. Speculation is that there will be a hearing and Cooke — already suspended twice previously this season — will be reprimanded, but there will be no suspension 

The league also approved a measure to fund the implementation of the four-man officiating system in the American Hockey League next season. The NHL will provide about $600,000 to the AHL, which will use the four-man system in about 40 per cent of the regular season next year and the playoffs.

Bigelow Is A Director, Plain And Simple

Source: www.globeandmail.com -Johanna Schneller

(March 08, 2010) The producers of Sunday night’s Academy Awards show obviously were counting on Kathryn Bigelow to win best director for The Hurt Locker when they booked Barbra Streisand to open the envelope. Streisand, a showbiz icon as an actress and a singer, is also the director of three features, and she has been a long-time, vocal critic of how the Hollywood boys’ club marginalizes women filmmakers. Bigelow, whose eight features can hold their own against any action helmer’s, was only the fourth woman to be nominated for best director. Oscar knew it had a potentially historic moment on its hands, and made the most of it. As did Streisand: Upon opening the envelope, she touched her heart and breathed, “Well, the time has come,” before announcing Bigelow’s name. (I imagine she would have looked quite different if “James Cameron” had been in there.)

But if anyone was expecting Bigelow to wax emotional about the sacrifices of the women who had gone before her, as Halle Berry did in 2002 when she became the first African American to win best actress, they were sorely disappointed. That’s not how Bigelow rolls. “I try to distance myself from gender distinctions,” she told me when I interviewed her in 2002. “They seem arcane to me. I suppose it [being a woman director] is seen as a novelty, but it’s also a ghettoization.”

Bigelow is a director, no adjective required. She’s 58 but looks nearly 20 years younger (and is currently dating Mark Boal, 36, who also won an Oscar on Sunday night, for writing The Hurt Locker). She’s six feet tall and unafraid to wear heels. She scuba-dives, mountain-bikes and practises yoga. She speaks in a soft, lilting voice, and her sentences are beautifully composed, full of complex clauses, with nary a split infinitive. And her films, though varying widely in subject and tone, are all infused with some serious macha.

The Loveless (1982), starring Willem Dafoe, is about bikers ripping up a small southern U.S. town. In Near Dark (1987), she hipped up the western genre by making her cowboys, played by then-newcomers Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Adrian Pasdar and James LeGros, into vampires, and shot it in 40 nights straight. She gave Jamie Lee Curtisa really big gun and a fetish for shooting it in Blue Steel (1990), and she cast Keanu Reeves as an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who infiltrates a gang of surfing, skydiving bank robbers led by Patrick Swayze in Point Break (1991). In 1995’s Strange Days – written by her ex-husband, James Cameron (they met in 1986 and divorced in 1991) – she cast Angela Bassett and Ralph Fiennes as ex-cops experimenting with avatars long before Avatar.

I first met Bigelow on the Nova Scotia set of The Weight of Water (2002), about a researcher (Catherine McCormack) who is pulled into a 100-year-old murder mystery; Sean Penn and Sarah Polley also starred. I also spent time with her while she was editing 2002’s K-19: The Widowmaker, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, based on the true story of a Soviet nuclear submarine rocked by a near-meltdown off the coast of Iceland in 1961. With a budget of $90-million, it was the costliest movie ever made – and the first time Ford had ever been directed – by a woman.

Bigelow earns more raves than she does dollars, however. The Hurt Locker may be the first film directed by a woman to win best picture, but it is also the lowest-grossing winner in modern history. She is drawn to challenging material, which she makes independently, outside the studio mainstream, on insanely small budgets. She doesn’t merely direct, she spends years researching stories and developing scripts with her writers. (That’s why she has made only eight in 27 years.) For K-19, for example, she travelled to Russia to examine nuclear subs first-hand, pored over military documents and extensively interviewed fusion experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “How do you design a shot if you don’t understand the underlying mechanics?” she asked me. “How can you convey the information without knowing it yourself?”

She has always been independent. The only child of liberal-minded, middle-class Norwegian parents in San Carlos, Calif. – her late mother was a high-school English teacher; her late father managed a paint factory – Bigelow started painting at the age of 6, and for a while made that her career. She graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute, did postgraduate work at New York University and Columbia, and made her first film, Set-Up, a 20-minute short, with a $2,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. While teaching a six-month class at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles, she met director Walter Hill. He offered her a job and she never looked back.

Bigelow excels at making tiny budgets look bigger. To make her vampires in Near Dark appear to catch fire in the sun, she tucked ashtray-like contraptions full of lit cigarettes under her actors’ clothes. To show her sailboat being whipped by a storm in The Weight of Water, she anchored it just off the dock at the Chester Yacht Club in Nova Scotia, affixed a long rope to the main mast, handed it to a dozen burly men and had them run up and down the dock to rock it back and forth, while motorized rubber rafts zipped around churning waves.

But for all her love of action, Bigelow’s films stand out because they are also careful character studies. The bomb-defusing scenes in The Hurt Locker are textbook exemplars of tension, rendered with the kind of exquisite shots and lens usage of 1970s classics, but it’s the off-duty scenes – such as the men erupting in a spontaneous-looking fist fight – that give it the human texture that makes us feel something.

“My goal is to make material as accessible as possible, but with a conscience,” she told me. “So I include some genre elements, which gives you a comfort level, and then I add other dimensions, which you don’t see coming, to make you walk out of the theatre and think. But it can’t be pedagogical. You have to keep the material subversive, so it doesn’t reveal itself. I’ll crawl through fire for that.”

Maybe now, with her film winning six Oscars, she will be able to afford a bigger fire.  


Horsing Around In The Bahamas

Source: www.thestar.com - Carol Perehudoff

(February 20, 2010)
Grand Bahama–Am I on The Bachelorette or is this a bad case of TV deja vu?

The pale aqua ocean, deserted beach and sleek black horse all look strangely familiar. My lithe female guide, Leo, the owner of Trikk Pony, confirms it.

Secluded Barbary Beach on Grand Bahama, the fourth-largest island in the Bahamian archipelago, is where Bachelorette DeAnna rode horses with Jesse on
The Bachelorette Season 4, and I'm about to re-create the ride.

The only thing is, I'm not sure I want to. When I'd originally signed up I'd misunderstood the program and thought I'd be swimming with seahorses.

When I found out it was swimming
in the sea with horses, I almost cancelled, then reconsidered – surely I'm over my fear of horses by now.

My issues with riding began when a horse in Cappadocia, Turkey, tried to maim me.

An imperious mare who'd hated me on sight, she'd head into stiff dead trees in the hopes of poking out one of my eyes. It was so bad, I ended up switching horses with another trail rider, and the minute I got on that horse it ran into someone's garden.

Who wouldn't be emotionally scarred?

In a weird
Bachelorette coincidence, only one other person is riding, a Bahamian man named Andre.

He's on Nifty, Jesse's ex-mount, a small, brown gelding with gentle eyes. My horse – or should I say, DeAnna's – is taller and shuffles on dainty feet as I approach.

"This is BB, short for Black Beauty." Leo pats her neck. "She's been a real princess ever since the

I have a sudden flashback. "Wait, didn't she take off with DeAnna?"

Leo hoists me up. "She was just upset because her routine was disrupted because of all the retakes."

I promise BB I won't saddle her with retakes if she doesn't bolt. I've worked hard to overcome my fear and don't need any setbacks.

First came a trip through the Australian Outback on a cow horse named Jughead, who loved me but never listened to a word I said. Then came equine therapy at Ste. Anne's Spa near Grafton, Ont. (www.steannes.com), where I'd spent three intensive days in a battle of wills with a horse named Boomer.

The program teaches you about yourself and your interactions with others, and what I learned is that my leadership skills are deeply buried.

It took two long days before Boomer walked where I wanted him to go and I considered it a triumph – now I'm over my fear of male horses.

So, how am I going to coax a princess into the sea? Keeping in mind what I'd learned in equine therapy – that neither demanding nor begging gets results – I try to exude a calm confidence as we set off down the flour-pale beach.

Barbary Beach is gorgeous, all right. Tendrils of railroad vines crawl along the sand and a warm wind ruffles casuarina trees and silver-toned, sea lavender bushes.

I relax enough to ply Leo for
Bachelorette gossip.

"It was supposed to be a romantic scene with DeAnna and Jesse leaning in for a kiss," she says. "Only Nifty didn't want to be beside BB because he's in love with Heidi."

I look at little Nifty with renewed admiration. DeAnna and Jesse didn't work out but Nifty's love for Heidi has stayed strong, especially touching considering she's 27 and he's 12. Evidently, cougar love doesn't only exist in the cat world.

As we near a rocky promontory, Leo slows her horse.

"Okay, we're going in."

I look out at the windswept Atlantic. "Like straight in?"

"Right." She and her horse push forward. Tensely, I nudge BB's sides. She hesitates. The familiar fear rises up in me, the gearing up for a battle of wills, but an interesting thing happens. I see my fear, but it's a hollow husk of emotion. What I'm really feeling is ... excitement.

I nudge BB again and she plunges ahead. Green water swallows us up. First my feet disappear, then my legs until I'm waist deep and we're moving in a methodical rhythm against the warm waves.

Behind me, Andre has a huge grin on his face and I give him a thumbs up. This might not be a TV romance, but it's surreal crazy fun. I'm floating through the ocean and it does sort of feel as if I'm riding a seahorse. Not only have I overcome my fear, I've learned something else – reality beats reality TV.

Read Carol Perehudoff's blog at www.wanderingcarol.com

Carol Perehudoff is a Toronto-based freelancer. Her trip was subsidized by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.


Songwriter Dan Hill Puts His Voice First

www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(March 09, 2010) It's been more than a decade since
Dan Hill's last album, but the Toronto singer-songwriter stayed in vocal and lyrical form penning tunes for a slew of country, pop and jazz stars, including Alan Jackson, Michael Bolton and George Benson.

"I'd sometimes do 50, 60 takes of song," said Hill of the demos recorded in his home studio. "At a certain point I was probably going for a 1 per cent improvement that no one was going to hear. People like Ronnie Milsap would call up and say `How do you hit those notes? Come to Nashville and help me sing it.' And that flattered me more than the fact that he liked the song. If you're sending out songs to the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, Céline Dion, you'd better be able to sing your ass off. The singing is the ultimate selling of the song."

A Grammy and Juno-winner best known as a songwriter in recent years, Beach resident Hill, whose songs and recordings have sold more than 100 million units, prides himself as a vocalist. That's one reason his new disc Intimate offers an acoustic version of his 1978 smash "Sometimes When We Touch."

"What I was really curious about beyond the literal song was `How could I sing it now as opposed to then,'" he explained in an interview. "I just wanted to show people – maybe I'm wrong – that I can still really sing. I can sing better than I ever have before: My intonation is way better; my timing; my phrasing; there's a lot more expression; I feel it's a more lived-in, soulful voice."

Doesn't he ever tire of the much-covered tune which is continually requested for film and TV soundtracks, but also mocked for its touchy-feely nature by the likes of David Letterman and This Hour Has 22 Minutes?

"It's opened up the world to me. How else would I have been able to write for Céline Dion or work with George Benson? The great thing is that they don't want that song, but the song has proven to them that I can write. I thought it would be really interesting to sing it – stripped down without any production – as a 55-year-old, to see if there was a way to bring a different kind of maturity and soulfulness that perhaps I hadn't grown into at the age of 22 when I recorded it."

That track, though, doesn't top Hill's personal best list; he's more likely to cite songs like Intimate's "I Am My Father's Son" and "(Don't Tell Me) How I Feel." The album comprises new tunes and songs he penned for others over 15 years but never recorded (beyond demos).

"So many songwriters peak in their early 20s, because they're living off their passions. You get your heart stomped by the opposite sex and you're hurting so badly that you write `Sometimes When We Touch.' But then what happens when you've been married for 25 years? You can't rely on those emotional male-female roller coasters. You have to start using your imagination and the powers of empathy more."

Hill, who often works with co-writers, was so successful with "Back Before the War" – which details a troubled relationship – it cast aspersions on his own enduring marriage.

"One of my friends in the music business said, `That song is really self-indulgent; clearly you're having problems with your wife.'

"Well, actually, (producer Keith Stegall) gave me the first verse; he was writing about his divorce. And because I love and understand Keith I took that first verse and the music and went back to Toronto and finished it. And if it was self-indulgent why did Reba McEntire cut it and sell a million records?"

Hill was spurred to make a new album after promoting his 2009 memoir I Am My Father's Son.

"I had to do these readings and I was terrified ... and my brother said `Dan, you're going to suck as a reader.' The only chance I had was if I juxtaposed my readings with songs. ... I was so surprised at how that seemed to resonate with the audience.

"It just made me realize `Wow, people still kind of like the way I sing.'"

Luminato To Fete Bruce Cockburn

Source:  www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(March 10, 2010)  Luminato will pay tribute to Toronto singer-songwriter and guitarist Bruce Cockburn at its annual Canadian Songbook event, set for Massey Hall on June 16.

The event will be the culmination of "40 years of longevity or just refusing to go away," Cockburn quipped Tuesday when the arts festival announced its 2010 music line-up.

Cockburn will be joined onstage by many other musicians, including singer Margo Timmins and Juno-winning guitarist Colin Linden.

The festival also confirmed, as reported earlier in the Star, the North American premiere of The Infernal Comedy, with John Malkovich as a serial killer in a chamber opera featuring two sopranos and the Vienna Academy Orchestra. There will be two performances at Massey Hall on June 11 and 12.

Rufus Wainwright, whose opera Prima Donna will be a prime Luminato event, will open his North American tour with a concert at the Elgin on June 15 linked to his album All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu.

The world premiere of Dark Star Requiem – a dramatic oratorio about HIV/AIDs produced in association with Tapestry New Opera Works – is set for Koerner Hall on June 11 and 12.

Free events include Global Music, an all-day celebration of western, eastern and African music at Queen's Park on June 12; and another all-day concert, focusing on divas and the blues in different parts of the world, on June 19.

The Vienna Academy Orchestra will be heard in concert on June 12 at Trinity St. Paul's Centre.

The Toronto Symphony will do an unusual late-night performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony for Luminato at Roy Thomson Hall starting at 11 p.m. on June 19 – followed by a party in the lobby that will go on into the wee hours of the morning.

Babyface Mounts Club/Festival Tour

Source: www.eurweb.com

March 8, 2010) Kenneth ” Babyface” Edmonds is planning a sporadic 2010 US tour schedule in advance of his forthcoming solo album.

The singer/songwriter/producer will gets things started in mid-March with performances in Chattanooga, TN (3/19) and Alexandria, LA (3/20). So far, the itinerary features a couple of shows each month through a Sept. 3 concert in Atlantic City, reports Live Daily.

Edmonds has been in the studio working on a follow-up to his 2007 release Playlist,” his first set of cover tunes. The album is expected to be released this year.

Last year, Edmonds launched his own imprint, Soda Pop Records, with Island Def Jam.

Below is the tour itinerary:

March 2010
19 – Chattanooga, TN – Hamilton Country Trade & Convention Center
20 – Alexandria, LA – North Levee Park

April 2010
24 – Oakland, CA – Oracle Arena

May 2010
1 – Saint Petersburg, FL – Vinoy Park
7 – Orlando, FL – House of Blues
8 – Jacksonville, FL – Metropolitan Park

June 2010
4 – Kansas City, MO – Independence Arena
11 – Saint Louis, MO – Chaifetz Arena

July 2010
16 – Atlanta, GA – Chastain Park

August 2010
20 – New York, NY – B.B. King Blues Club
21 – Fort Monroe, VA – Walker Air Field
22 – Alexandria, VA – Birchmere

September 2010
3 – Atlantic City, NJ – Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa

Cullum Sets A New (Jazz) Standard

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

(March 8, 2010)  Ask Jamie Cullum how he wound up recording with the Count Basie Orchestra, and he’ll tell you that it was because they happened to have an afternoon free.

“ I wasn’t really planning to use much big band,” he says of his just-released fifth album, The Pursuit. “But I came up with an idea for an arrangement of Just One of Those Things, and I’d actually met the Basie band, so I thought, God, this could be amazing. Could we afford it for this record?”

Then, in a bit of serendipity, the singer and pianist happened to be in New York when the Basie band was finishing sessions at Tony Bennett’s studio in New Jersey. “We knew someone who knew someone, got in touch with them, and asked, ‘Could we bust in on the last few hours of your studio time and record a track with you?’” he says. “So I turned up, and we recorded it live there and then. We did about three takes, I think, and the second take is the one that’s on the record.”

If that hot kid meets old pros story sounds a bit old-fashioned, the music is anything but. Not only does Cullum’s arrangement goose the Cole Porter melody with an itchy bass vamp, but he’s rewritten Porter’s intro, jettisoning couplets about Abelard and Héloïse in favour of a post hangover apology that rhymes “the last six hours are a haze” with “my motor skills are out of phase.” Traditional, it’s not.

But that’s Cullum all over. Although he started his career like many a jazz singer/pianist, playing club dates and cutting an album of standards with his combo, his career took a dramatic turn with the release of his third album, Twentysomething.

Matching Lerner and Loewe chestnuts with tunes by Radiohead and the Neptunes, it established Cullum as a jazz musician aware of tradition but anchored in the here and now. A Top 5 hit in his native Britain, the album turned the young jazz man into a genuine pop star. Cullum wears the role well, thanks in large part to his outsized charm and charismatic stage presence, and has since augmented his public image to include an equally famous fiancée, the writer (and ex-model) Sophie Dahl. Indeed, the title of his new album comes from one of Dahl’s favourite books, Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love.

But if Cullum’s success made him a poster boy for jazz crossover, it also led many a mouldy fig to dismiss his music as jazz for juniors.

Cullum shrugs off the criticism as “obviously an assumption rather than the reality. I mean, anyone who comes to my shows will see that it’s really including people across the board.” While that was certainly true of his stop in Toronto, during the jazz festival, it was equally true that the crowd was bigger and younger than the one Dave Brubeck drew.

Then again, why shouldn’t it be? Cullum isn’t much interested in presenting jazz as the past recaptured, and brings the same sass and sizzle to a song regardless of whether it’s a Rihanna cover or a Richard Rodgers standard, because he’s equally crazy about both.

“It’s often not cool for a guy who’s supposed to be playing the standards to really get into that whole world [of dance music], but it’s something I can’t avoid,” he says, over the phone from a tour bus in Belgium. “It’s very much a part of me, and I think this is the first record where I’ve really been able to explore that.”

A self-confessed “music geek,” Cullum thinks of himself as a listener as much as a musician. “I’ve always been a listener,” he says, “and listening to music colours every second of my existence.” Obviously, that listening includes a lot of jazz, but also quite a bit of electronic and dance music. “I’m obviously very much connected to music played by real musicians,” he says. “But I’m also totally blown away by amazing programmed music that throws you about the dance floor. I listen to that a lot, whether it’s Madlib or Timbaland or Pharrell and the Neptunes, house music, drum and bass music, Massive Attack, Portishead.…”

It’s no surprise, then, that the song he’s most proud of having written for the new album is musical love letter called Mixtape. “This album really does do justice to the breadth of my influences,” he says. “That’s what Mixtape is all about. It’s about old-school, undying love for music, and listening to music, and how it impacts on our lives and our love lives.”

Jamie Cullum performs at Massey Hall in Toronto March 9, and at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on March 20.

He Loves This Country, And Country Loves Him

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(March 08, 2010) By 2009, Johnny Reid had solidly fulfilled the conditions of his three-album contract with Open Road Recordings. And after his third and final record, Dance with Me, went double-platinum in Canada, the free-agent singer-songwriter had all the cha-cha partners he could handle. But although he was courted heavily, only one suitor in a suit had a fair chance to dance with the red-hot Scottish-Canadian.

Reid, it was announced this week, has signed with EMI Music Worldwide. The label laid out the red carpet, but it also rolled out the Ralfini. “I signed with EMI because of Ian Ralfini,” says Reid, his brogue thick as Loch Ness fog. “If he had been working for anybody else, I would have signed with them instead.”

The New York-based Ralfini is president of the Blue Note and Manhattan labels, both under the EMI umbrella. At a meeting in Halifax, set up through EMI Canada, the singer and the industry veteran hit it off famously. And with that, the wooing of the fair-haired Reid was done.

It’s been a big week for Reid: In addition to signing with EMI, he earned four Juno nominations (including artist of the year, and top country act). Heretofore, Reid’s records had no U.S. distribution; the new deal sets the stage for the made-in-Canada country music star’s launch into the United States, starting with an album of new material set for release late this summer. “I’m definitely looking forward to getting to other territories,” Reid says from Zurich, “but you better believe it, I’ll be waving a Canadian flag.

Reid was 16 years old when he emigrated to Canada in the summer of 1988. His father, a diesel mechanic, wanted a better life for his two sons. The family settled in Brampton, Ont., where the soccer-savvy Reid made an impression on the high-school football coach. The fancy footer eventually graduated from Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Que. There, he majored in theatrical music and dramatic arts, met his future wife and served as the Gaiters’ place-kicker. He was the first in his family to be university-schooled: “I came from a long line of tradesman,” the salt-of-the-earth entertainer explains, “coal miners and the whole deal.”

The 35-year-old’s growth as a recording artist was a result of a methodical building process. His first album, 2005’s Born to Roll, was certified gold here. Then came 2007’s Kicking Stones, which went platinum, followed by Dance with Me. This spring’s filmed-in-Edmonton DVD, Johnny Reid: Live at the Jubilee, has already been certified triple-platinum and is the top-selling music DVD in Canada.

Unlike cowgirl chanteuses Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Terri Clark, who headed south of the border early in their careers, Reid planned for a steady home-based ascent, with the idea of establishing a sizable audience here before making the leap into Europe, Britain and the United States. Reid’s songwriting deal with DreamWorks requires him to work part-time out of Nashville, but his heavy concert schedule here keeps him above the 49th parallel more often than not. “I know for a fact that if I’ve got deep roots in Canada,” says Reid, “this thing can go as high as it needs to go.”

The aim, according to Deane Cameron, is high. “He’s the total package,” explains the chief of EMI Canada. “Great songs, great charisma, and he’s somebody who you know will be a hearty and dedicated partner.

It was Cameron who introduced Reid to Ralfini, a talent appraiser who has been associated with such elite acts as Van Morrison and Rod Stewart. He was brought here not knowing much about Reid, except that he was a star on Canada’s country scene. “He expected a guy in cowboy hat playing a wee pub in Halifax,” explains Reid, who describes Ralfini as a “good fellow.”

What Ralfini saw was a scratchy-voiced rock-and-soul singer, decked out in a white tuxedo, singing to nearly 6,000 fans at the Halifax Metro Centre. Reid gobbles up Canadian country-music awards like they’re ears at a corn roast, yet his status as a country-music performer is a curious one – his biggest hit single is a Frankie Miller R&B chestnut (Darlin’), his ballads sound more like Jon Bon Jovi than George Jones, and his soulful fare leans more to Sam Cooke than Kenny Chesney.

“I’ve never once called myself a country singer,” declares Reid. “But I feel very fortunate to have found an audience on country radio in Canada.” EMI’s Cameron agrees, saying that Reid will be marketed as a soulful-rock singer. “We see him as a blue-eyed blues-and-soul man – like a young, new Bob Seeger, and a big entertainer, like a male Tina Turner.”

Radio stations in Canada serve a broader audience, unlike the United States, where niche stations thrive. Record labels have to be specific when introducing new voices in the U.S. “With the sheer cost of breaking an artist and working radio formats,” explains Cameron, “you don’t have the same luxury of straddling fences that you can do here.”

U.S. audiences may yet hear Reid’s previous material, but right now the focus for Reid is on the new album. “They say love makes the world go around,” he reasons. “But I always say that I’m trying to make it spin a wee bit faster.”  

Ludacris To Interview Quincy Jones For ‘I Create The Music’

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 9, 2010)  *Music lovers will get the chance to indulge at the American Society of Compostors, Authors and Publishers’ (ASCAP) fifth annual “I Create Music” EXPO, a three-day event being held at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, Ca April 22-24.

Rapper and actor
Ludacris will be conducting an interview with multi award winning music legend Quincy Jones about his prolific career. Ludacris will touch on Jone’s pioneering efforts in music and impressionable fusion trends that have influenced music across diverse genres.

Other show stopping series events include an interview with John Mayer and a conversation with Bill Withers. Other guest appearances include Jessi Alexander, Billy Austin, Andreas Carisson, Chris “Deep” Henderson, and many, many more.

ASCAP’s annual expo is a medley of panels, workshops, master classes, one-on-one sessions, demonstrations, performances, and more for songwriters, composers, and producers across all genres of music. For more information, visit www.ascap.com/expo.

New CD Taps Star-Studded Remakes of Quincy Jones Songs

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 10, 2010) *Usher, Ludacris, Akon and Jamie Foxx are among the star-studded artists taking part in a new album celebrating the music of multi-Grammy winning producer, composer and arranger Quincy Jones.

“Q: Soul Bossa Nostra,” due this spring from Interscope Records, features contemporary versions of popular recordings from Jones’ massive catalogue. released.

Other artists on the album include Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, T-Pain, Robin Thicke, LL Cool J, John Legend, Snoop Dogg, Wyclef Jean, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli, Three 6 Mafia, David Banner, Bebe Winans, Mervyn Warren, Jermaine Dupri, DJ Paul, and Scott Storch.

“’Q: Soul Bossa Nostra’ features some of my favourite artists and producers on the scene today from the Pop, R&B and Hip-Hop worlds performing selections from my catalogue that people really loved when they were originally recorded,” said Q, who also serves as the album’s executive producer. “Each artist picked a song that really resonated with them for different reasons – some of them having a connection because they remembered their parents playing the track when they were growing up.

“I am honoured that everyone wanted to be a part of this celebration of these songs. They all made them their own, and knocked them out of the park.”

The set’s first single, available March 24, will be Akon’s interpretation of the 1977 Brothers Johnson classic “Strawberry Letter 23.”

The album will also include Jennifer Hudson (produced by Scott Storch) performing acclaimed songwriter Rod Temperton’s “You Put A Move On My Heart,” from Jones’ 1996 album ‘Q’s Jook Joint”; Ludacris and Naturally 7 (produced by Naturally 7) on the title track “Soul Bossa Nostra,” a hip-hop revamp of Jones’ 1962 single “Soul Bossa Nova” which was re-born as the “Austin Powers” theme song and was sampled by Ludacris on his 2005 single “Number One Spot” for which he garnered a VMA; and Usher, Robin Thicke, LL Cool J, Trey Songz, Tyrese and Tevin Campbell with Barry White’s original vocals (produced by Jermaine Dupri) on “Secret Garden,” originally recorded on 1989’s “Back On The Block.”

Additional tracks will feature Jamie Foxx (produced by David Banner and Warryn Campbell) on the Grammy Award-winning classic “Give Me The Night,” originally recorded in 1980 by Jones, George Benson and Rod Temperton; John Legend (produced by Ted Chung) on the Brothers Johnson/Siedah Garrett-penned ballad “Tomorrow,” from “Back On The Block”; T-Pain and Robin Thicke (produced by T-Pain) on a re-make of Michael Jackson, James Ingram and Jones’ Grammy nominated dance staple “P.Y.T.” from “Thriller”; Mary J. Blige and Q-Tip (produced by Q-Tip) on the funk classic “Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me,” originally written by Stevie Wonder for Jones’ multi-Grammy winning 1980 album “The Dude”; Bebe Winans (produced by Mervyn Warren) on Bernard Igher’s sultry “Everything Must Change” from Jones’ 1974 album “Body Heat” – the title track being sampled in 1996 by Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur on their hit “How Do You Want It;” and Wyclef Jean on “Oluwa (Many Rains Ago),” Jones and Caiphus Semenya’s Emmy Award-winning title track from 1977’s hit television mini-series “Roots.”

Rounding out the album are performances by Snoop Dogg (produced by Terrence Martin) on the Brothers Johnson disco classic “Get The Funk Out Of My Face;” Talib Kweli (produced by Quincy Jones) on Jones’ synthesizer infused theme song from the 1967 television show “Ironside”; and Three 6 Mafia and David Banner (produced by David Banner) on “Hickky Burr (Wrath of Katrina),” Jones and Bill Cosby’s collaboration for the theme song of 1969’s “The Bill Cosby Show.”


Joel Plaskett wins at ECMAs

www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(March 08, 2010) Nova Scotia's
Joel Plaskett emerged as the big winner at the East Coast Music Awards in Cape Breton on Sunday night.  The pop-rocker snagged the night's first award: single of the year for "Through and Through and Through" off his album Three. In all Plaskett won five times. He had led the pack with eight nominations. The gala awards ceremony at Sydney's Centre 200 capped four days of gigs showcasing the region's musical talent. A total of 24 awards were up for grabs at the gala, which were streamed online.

The Roots Set June Release Date for New Album

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 5, 2010)
The Roots’ long-delayed album “How I Got Over” finally has a release date. According to a Twitter post from drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the Def Jam album will come out on June 8 – months after its original due dates of June 2009, then Fall 2009, then early 2010. The set was continually pushed back because the Roots kept recording new material in the midst of their stint as the house band on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” according to Billboard. The track list for the album has yet to be announced. Meanwhile, the Roots yesterday began recording a new album with Booker T. Jones of Booker T and the MGs. The project will be the follow-up to Jones’ Grammy-winning 2009 Anti- album “Potato Hole” and is expected to feature a handful of special guest vocalists. As previously reported, tickets are on sale today for the third Roots Picnic, to be held June 5 at Philadelphia’s Festival Pier. The Roots will perform alongside Vampire Weekend, Clipse and a special, as-yet-unannounced reunion from a legendary hip-hop group – likely Run D.M.C.

Black Eyed Peas coming in July

Source:  www.thestar.com -
Martin Knelman

(March 9, 2010)  They haven’t been here since last June’s unfortunate incident with Perez Hilton; here’s hoping the Black Eyed Peas’ 2010 visit to Toronto goes smoother. The international pop superstar quartet announced Tuesday they’ll play the Air Canada Centre on July 27 and July 28. The promoters said tickets ($68-$125) go on sale Saturday morning via Ticketmaster. The Peas’ manager, Liborio Molina, punched Hilton was punched in the eye in June at a Toronto nightclub in a confrontation after the MuchMusic Video Awards. Molina later apologized as part of an agreement to drop assault charges.

Next Stop for Akon – Bollywood

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 10, 2010)  *Singer-producer Akon is expanding his business into the $1.2-billion Indian film market with a musical contribution to the soundtrack of “RA.One,” a Bollywood sci-fi action film currently in production. Akon follows in the footsteps of rapper Snoop Dogg, who was featured on the soundtrack of the 2008 Bollywood film “Singh is King.” But unlike the Long Beach rapper, Akon will record his song in local language Hindi. Khan told a news conference in Mumbai on Tuesday: “He (Akon) is a gracious person. He will record a song in Hindi and will also feature in the video. He has flown with his family, friends and team of musicians.” Akon, known for his collaborations with other artists such as Lady Gaga, has given his services for free, Khan added. “India is my next focus area,” Akon told reporters. “I want to try different things, want to explore… want to enjoy my work. We have the same kind of entertainment, the only difference is of tradition and language.” “RA.One” stars Indian heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan as a flying superhero and actress Kareena Kapoor as his love interest, according to AFP.

CBS Gives Jennifer Hudson a March Madness ‘Moment’

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 10, 2010) *CBS has selected Jennifer Hudson to perform the dramatic number that concludes its annual broadcast of the NCAA men’s basketball championship game — “One Shining Moment.” “The song inspires you,” the Grammy and Oscar winner said in a statement. “It moves you. It motivates you and helps you reach that goal and that dream.” The track, written by folk singer David Barrett, was recorded by Hudson in Los Angeles on Feb. 13 with producer Harvey Mason Jr., who played for the Arizona team that reached the 1988 Final Four. J-Hud will be the first woman to belt the tune, which has played over highlights of the tournament since 1987. Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross have performed previous renditions.


Telefilm Names New Executive Director

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - James Adams and James Bradshaw

(March 10, 2010)  A Telefilm Canada veteran with a strong background in accounting has been named the new executive director of the Crown corporation by Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore. The announcement was made Tuesday in Ottawa.

Carolle Brabant, a Montrealer, succeeds Torontonian Wayne Clarkson as the day-to-day head of Telefilm which, with an annual budget of about $107-million, is a major investor in Canada’s film, television and new media industries. Brabant is the first female executive director of Telefilm, established by the Liberal government of Lester Pearson under the then-moniker the Canadian Film Development Corp..

In a brief interview yesterday, Brabant said she “couldn’t be more happy” about her new job. “I have a lot of faith in this industry and its creators and I will be working to gain more visibility on the national and international stage for this industry, with Telefilm support. That’s really the goal I will be aiming at.”

“Of course,” she added, “I have a lot of ideas, but you’ll allow me the time to share those ideas with our stakeholders, the Department [of Canadian Heritage], the board, our clients and, of course, the team I’ll be working with.”

It was known that the Harper government was looking for a francophone with strong business experience to succeed Clarkson, who before coming to Telefilm in January 2005, had been executive director of the Canadian Film Centre as well as chairman of the former Ontario Film Development Corp. and executive director of what is now the Toronto International Film Festival.

Prior to Brabant’s appointment yesterday, there had been intense speculation that another Montrealer, Michel Roy, would be named executive director. Roy, a former provincial deputy minister of tourism and communications, was named chairman of Telefilm’s board in the fall of 2007, a position he still holds. Two candidates were put before the Heritage minister for approval by a search committee but it’s not known if Roy’s was one of the two.

Brabant has been associated with Telefilm for 20 years, mostly in senior management positions. Most recently she was director of administration and corporate services for the Crown corporation. She holds an accounting degree from University of Quebec, Chicoutimi as well as an M.B.A. from the École des hautes études commerciales in Montreal. She served as Telefilm’s acting executive director for almost seven months, starting in July 2004.

Initial response from the film and television community was cautious. “It is a smart and safe choice,” said Hussain Amarshi, head of Mongrel Media distribution in Toronto. “Telefilm has, in the last few years, relied considerably on industry consultations to guide its policy and Carolle’s role will be to continue this process and let the industry determine the direction of Telefilm.”

However, another film insider, requesting anonymity, said he didn’t know what to think. “It all depends on Michel Roy’s role, what public policy initiatives are involved. If it’s strictly a fiscal management initiative, she’s a good choice. But for the film industry as an industry, it seems unclear.”

Serendipity Point Films head Robert Lantos, whose credits include Barney’s Version and Fugitive Pieces, said he doesn’t know Ms. Brabant, “but I wish her well in her new job.”

Don Cheadle : The ” Brooklyn ’s Finest” Interview

Source: Kam Williams

(March 9, 2010)
Donald Cheadle might be the best actor around yet to win an Oscar. His only Academy Award nomination came in 2005 for his powerful performance as Paul Rusesbagina in Hotel Rwanda. But he’s been delivering an abundance of critically-acclaimed work both before and since in such films as Devil in a Blue Dress,  Boogie Nights, Rosewood, Ocean’s Eleven, Crash, Traffic, Swordfish, Talk to Me, Mission to Mars, Traitor, Rush Hour 2, Bulworth and Reign over Me.

In this spirited tête-à-tête, Don talks about his latest outing as NYPD Detective Tango Butler in Brooklyn’s Finest, a gritty cop saga directed by Antoine Fuqua and co-starring Wesley Snipes, Richard Gere, Ellen Barkin and Ethan Hawke. 

Kam Williams: Hi, Don, thanks for the time.

Don Cheadle: Thank you.

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks, how did you prepare for this role as an undercover detective?

DC: I spent some time with several police officers who are actually doing the same type of work in Brooklyn .

KW: Citing the maxim ”Great actors do not act, they show their true selves to the camera,” Irene asks whether there are any parts of your psyche you have not yet explored on camera?

DC: After making 40-something films, if there’s anything I haven’t revealed yet, it’s probably best kept under wraps. 

KW: Laz Lyles was wondering whether the energy on the set of Brooklyn’s Finest was similar to working with the large ensemble of talented actors in Ocean's Eleven?

DC: No, this was a very different experience.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman says she appreciates all your humanitarian efforts as much as she does your acting. And she suspects that your choice of charities has been influenced by the locations where you’ve shot movies, given all you’ve done for Darfur and Rwanda . So, she was hoping you might interested in supporting her charity in East New York, Brooklyn which is dedicated to early educational opportunities for young African-American males under the age of 5.

DC: There are only 24 hours in the day, but I’d love to get involved, my schedule permitting.

KW: Nick Antoine wants to know if there’s any truth to the rumour that you’re planning to do a Miles Davis bio-pic.

DC: Yep, I’m working on it now.

KW: Is it true that you’ve done stand-up comedy?

DC: Yes, but not anymore.

KW: Is it true that you play the saxophone?

DC: Yes, but I’m playing the trumpet now?

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod? 

DC: Miles Davis.

KW: I know who you’re favourite trumpeter is. How about saxophonist?

DC: Coltrane.

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

DC: Miles Davis’ autobiography collaborated on with Quincy Troupe.


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

DC: The same guy I see every day.

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

DC: In life? Of course!

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

DC: I’d rather not say.

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

DC: Whatever my kids want to eat.

KW: What are you’re favourite foods to eat?

DC: Comfort foods… macaroni and cheese, and meat loaf.

KW: The Mike Pittman question: Who was your best friend as a child?

DC: My siblings and my cousins.

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

DC: Boss.

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

DC: Don’t.

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

DC: That the world would take the issue of global warming seriously.

KW: Thanks again for the interview, Don, and best of luck with the film.

DC: Thank you.

To see a trailer for Brooklyn ’s Finest, visit HERE. :

Sandra Bullock Snags A Sweetheart Deal

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Lynn Crosbie

(March 08, 2010) Making a big comeback is every fallen star’s dream. Well, that or appearing on a degrading reality show about their drug addiction, or a still more degrading reality show about how they’re coping with being turned away from Tony Danza’s parties.

This weekend,
Sandra Bullock was on a rampage, having won every significant actress award (including the Oscar) for her role as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a sweet-hearted, hard-as-nails Memphis mother, in The Blind Side. And she won still two more Razzies for her wretched work in All About Steve.

Bullock, like Halle Berry years before, actually showed up to the Razzie ceremony to accept her golden raspberry, then handed out copies of the DVD and charmed the smitten crowd. It felt like the 1990s all over again, when Bullock was America’s undisputed, offbeat sweetheart.

When Bullock was handed her Oscar, she observed wryly, that there had been a time when it was not “fashionable” to like her. Like a tremulous bombshell Blanche DuBois, she thanked the kindness - during her lean years - of strangers.

In 1994's Speed, her breakout performance, she was nervous and electrifying, shy and outrageous, a character paradox she would import to all of her roles.

In her film, While You Were Sleeping, the indisputably gorgeous Bullock played — her specialty — the ugly-pretty girl, the dreamy, gauche outsider who seduces men, who seduced audiences with her quiet turn as a modern anti-heroine.

She was everywhere, then, and so scandal-proof, most tabloid gossip involved her rapacious appetite for appalling junk food like Marshmallow Fluff and raw cookie dough, which made her still more endearing, especially to the lonely girls, eating jumbo boxes of Dots in the dark.

And then, in 1995, at the height of her fame and shortly after the (fiscally disappointing) The Net, David Spade, the evil little oracle, did a bit on Saturday Night Live about her. Sean Penn was the guest, and Spade asked him if he had seen “the talking pig movie yet.

Babe had just come out, and Penn said “No.”

“What, you haven’t see The Net?” Spade — with a bully’s unerring instinct for weakness — asked, and it was suddenly clear that Bullock’s reign, as the fin de siècle paper bag princess, was over.

Bullock’s weakness was one bad film, an obvious nose job and status as a single woman, which makes all stars sexually suspect — even the queer, hyphenated Meredith Baxter-Birney knew this.

Suddenly, Bullock was box-office poison and she slowly slid out of film, telling Barbara Walters this weekend that she left on her own steam, but that does not ring true or explain the odd gap between Miss Congeniality (2000) and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002).

“I've done all my tricks. I'm tired of myself,” Bullock said, morosely, at the time.

It’s not like she came back strong. With the exception of 2004's Crash, Bullock kept making terrible movies, until 2009, when she made the also-terrible smash hit, The Proposal, with Ryan Reynolds, a film that put her back on top.

Some significant back story: In 2005, Bullock married the hulking biker, West Coast Chopper entrepreneur and Monster Garage host Jesse James. He was married when they met, to the adult film star Janine Lindemulder, whom Bullock and James took to court, winning full-custody of her five-year-old daughter with James. Heartless home wrecker? No one seems to mind.

After all, Bullock is simply glowing. She thanks the stiff-looking James at every opportunity, and spends her days rescuing stray animals and adopting deformed, one-legged dogs. In a recent interview about playing Tuohy, she admitted that the real woman, whom she interviewed at length, scared her to death and that she would not want to be on her bad side.

Maybe Bullock is something of an iron butterfly herself. Whatever she is, she is luckier and smarter, and arguably, more talented than her rivals — other actresses, best known as rom-com ingénues, now on the dark side of 40.

Julia Roberts is one, and it is significant that her great success came with Erin Brockovich, another role based on a steely, compassionate, real person. Lately however, Roberts, whose marriage to the perennially glowering cameraman Danny Moder is in no way sexy, is looking more and more like a sad, moulting duck.

Demi Moore is another, but she cagily used her flash-comeback, as a stunning bikini babe in 2003's Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, to snag a hot young husband, then return to her cliff-side aerie with him in her claws.

Then there is Meg Ryan and Jennifer Aniston, two sides of one American sweetheart coin that is being dropped, slowly into a cavernous piggy bank.

The conundrum? Staying sexy.

Al Pacino is about to turn 70 and is rumoured to be hooked up with a 30-year-old actress; Clint Eastwood probably needs his .44 Magnum to keep pneumatic starlets away; at one point Morgan Freeman was rumoured to be marrying his granddaughter-in-law.

You’ve heard it a million times. There is a double standard, that actually does apply to Meryl Streep, no matter what that smut-peddler Nancy Meyers (director of It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give) thinks.

Can women change this around, without looking like gigolo-keeping, mentally impaired jokes?

Sandra Bullock will let us know.

In 10 years, when she is 55, she will be leaping from her car to shoo an errant Pomeranian out of traffic and some hot kid will wolf-whistle.

“Oh, I like you so much!” she will tell him, as she does with all of her admirers: She is fragile in interviews, and hugs and flushes when she is complimented.

She will tell us all that adding some sugar to that shake goes a long way.

Polanski ‘Doesn’t Do Anything On A Whim’

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Martin Tsai

(March 8, 2010)  She hasn’t given up her role as uber-cougar – this summer, she’ll reprise the part of Samantha in a second Sex and the City film. But Kim Cattrall isn’t just a pop princess. She’s currently getting raves for her performance in Noel Coward’s Private Lives on stage in London’s West End. And then there’s her turn as what she describes as a “Hitchcockian icy blonde” in The Ghost Writer.

Adapted from Robert Harris’s novel The Ghost, the film follows a biographer (Ewan McGregor) given the unenviable task of penning the memoirs of a disgraced former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan) after the mysterious death of the original ghostwriter. Cattrall plays Amelia Bly, the pol’s dutiful secretary and alleged mistress.

She has fond memories of working on the film – despite the arrest of director Roman Polanski during post-production.

Apprehended on a 32-year-old U.S. warrant for fleeing after being convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old in 1977, Polanski completed The Ghost Writer under house arrest in Gstaad, Switzerland. In February, the Berlin Film Festival awarded Polanski best director for the film.

Cattrall talked to The Globe about her role in The Ghost Writer, and what it was like working with the notorious Polanski.

Did you have to audition for Roman Polanski?

Yes I did. I was sent the script by my agent. I was actually in London. They asked me if I would take a train to Paris to meet Roman, because [he] wanted me to do this part of Amelia Bly in the Robert Harris novel, The Ghost. So I got on the train, and I went to lunch with him. We had a lovely lunch; and at the end of it, he said, “I’d love you to do it.”

Ewan McGregor and Olivia Williams replaced Nicolas Cage and Tilda Swinton from the original cast. Did you get to keep the same role?

Yes. I think Roman really cast very specifically. He doesn’t do anything on a whim. He’ll see or feel something is right. When I think about him, I think about his nose – because he smells something that’s right and true, and he won’t let go of it until he achieves it. I think that’s what was happening with the casting as well.

What was Polanski like on the set?

Doing a scene, I remember I had to open up a closet door. And he said, “Cut.” He said there’s nothing in this closet this character would wear. This is a character you never meet in the film.

This is a high level of detail that you’re working with, with a man like this. You have to take all of this away. This was like the very late hours of the night that we were shooting into. Roman was literally on his hands and feet. He was taking out the shirts; and he was putting in the right shirts, the right socks and the right ties that this character would wear.

Everything was about details. It was a huge lesson in the truth, really.

Was Polanski specific about what he wanted from your performance, or were you able to inject your own take on this character?

Because Roman had written this with Robert Harris, he knew exactly what he wanted. He’d like some ideas if you could bring something in that he felt rang true to the music that he could hear in his head – and by music I mean dialogue, and the way it was being photographed.

I remember the first scene that I shot was a scene where I was smoking a cigarette. We literally had 40 minutes to shoot that because that was the magic hour. The light was fading. It was cold. It was freezing cold. I remember I was just blue after we finished it. And I just remember him saying to me, “Faster.”

That’s all he wanted me to do in the scene … Everything that I was doing he loved. He just wanted it faster. And I just felt, well, “Why?” And he said, “Because that’s the way I wrote it.”

Have you been in touch with Polanski since his arrest?

I sent him an e-mail congratulating him on being named best director at the Berlin Film Festival, and he wrote me back a very, very, very Roman e-mail which basically said, “It’s your fault, too” – meaning we all did this. We all were part of it. He would never say that in any kind of sentimental way. That’s just who he is. I read it and I just broke out into a smile, because that’s so him. But he seems to be in relatively good spirits.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Why These Were The Worst Oscars Ever

www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(March 08, 2010) Worst.
Oscars. Ever.

Yes, I know I’ve said this before. But the Academy keeps coming up with new lows.

That scowl on George Clooney’s face during the Academy Awards telecast Sunday night would have said it all, except for one thing: it was completely fake.

Clooney was so obviously in on the lame jokes that hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin kept making at his expense, I’ll bet they took him aside before the broadcast and said, “Listen, George, we want you to look angry while we make fun of you. It’ll be hilarious!”

Except it wasn’t. Most of the show was a desperate attempt to look hip. It was like watching your parents go wild and crazy to Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World” at a wedding dance.

Whatever happened to making the Oscars a classy celebration of the year in film? The painfully awkward jokes by Martin and Baldwin would have earned a Catskills comic the hook. Some of them were downright offensive, like Martin’s invitation to Best Supporting Actor winner Christoph Waltz (a very classy guy) to unleash his Jew-hunting Nazi character from Inglourious Basterds upon the Jews in the audience at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

I’ve got to think that more than a few of the people there had relatives die in the Holocaust, and they likely wouldn’t find Nazi humour the least bit amusing.

The most head-slapping thing about the show was its length: three and a half hours. It wasn’t the longest Oscar broadcast ever, but it sure felt like it. And this was supposed to be the year when the Academy finally did something about Oscar bloat.

Producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman did everything short of threatening a trap door to keep winners from exceeding their allotted 45 seconds per speech — which many of them did anyway.

Yet if brevity was supposed to be the night’s watchword, why were so many precious minutes frittered away on bits that would barely pass muster in a high school musical?

The song-and-dance opener by Neil Patrick Harris was just plain awful. It made me wonder if Martin Short (who was supposed to hoof it with Harris) really did have a family emergency that kept him away, or if perhaps he just had second thoughts about embarrassing himself.

Speaking of bad dancing, what was up with that eye-glazing routine done to the nominated film scores? Did we really want to see people dance to The Hurt Locker?

The tribute to horror movies was such an obvious piece of pandering to the under-30 crowd, even though many of the movies in the highlight reel were of the over-50 set’s era. What possessed the academy to waste time with this? And did the people who made it not realize Twilight isn’t a horror film?

The tribute to the late John Hughes was nice, and properly done. But I couldn’t help but wonder why the 1980s teen comedy king rated such a huge send-off, with his cast members assembling on stage for a tribute, when so many other directors went to the great beyond with nothing more than an Oscar roll call. Why didn’t the academy do something like this for Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick or Ingmar Bergman in years past?

What’s the point of cutting off acceptance speeches — and rushing into the Best Picture winner without announcing the nominees — if you’re going to lard the rest of the show with stuff that should have felt the wrath of an editor’s scissors?

I should qualify my rant slightly. This wasn’t the worst Oscars ever, it was the worst Oscars broadcast ever. I actually agree with most of the wins — even Sandra Bullock for Best Actress, a prize given more for longevity and agreeability than anything else.

Yet even when Oscar did right, it did wrong. The idea of having former winners make tributes to this year’s acting nominees was fresh last year, but stale and overlong this time around.

And as pleased as I was to see Kathryn Bigelow win both Best Director and Best Picture for The Hurt Locker, I wish she’d been able to get over her opposition to gender recognition just long enough to bask in her win as the first woman to come out on top in both of these categories. It really is a significant achievement, yet she allowed her blowhard boyfriend Mark Boal to grab the microphone and do most of the thanking.

Maybe it’s because Bigelow simply had nothing truly profound to say. But her lack of lyricism was nothing compared to what came out of the mouth of Jeff Bridges, whom everyone thought would deliver a heart-felt acceptance speech. Everybody was wrong.

Apart from thanking his parents and family, Bridges spent most of his time naming everyone who ever assisted his career. He went on so long, I think I even heard him thanking the parking valet at the Kodak Theatre. The Dude didn’t abide; he positively bored, and what a drag that is, man.

The excessive length of the show did at least allow Martin one of his true funny lines of the night: “This show is so long,” he said, “that Avatar now takes place in the past.”

Amen to that. I wish we could all have had our own avatars to watch the show in our place, saving us from having to endure it ourselves.

List of Winners at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 7, 2010) Scroll down for this year's winners *The Iraq War drama “The Hurt Locker” won best picture and five other prizes Sunday at the
Academy Awards, its haul including best director for Kathryn Bigelow.

Bigelow is the first woman in the 82-year history of the Oscars to earn Hollywood’s top prize for filmmakers.

“There’s no other way to describe it. It’s the moment of a lifetime,” Bigelow said. “It’s so extraordinary to be in the company of my fellow nominees, such powerful filmmakers, who have inspired me and I have admired, some of them for decades.”

Among those Bigelow and “The Hurt Locker” beat are ex-husband James Cameron and his sci-fi spectacle “Avatar.” Bigelow and Cameron were married from 1989-91.

Cameron was seated right behind Bigelow at the Oscars and joined a standing ovation for her, clapping vigorously and saying, “Yes, yes” after she won.

First-time winners took all four acting prizes: Sandra Bullock as best actress for “The Blind Side”; Jeff Bridges as best actor for “Crazy Heart”; Mo’Nique as supporting actress for “Precious”; and Christoph Waltz as supporting actor for “Inglourious Basterds.”

Here’s the complete list of 2010 Academy Award winners:

- Motion Picture: “The Hurt Locker.”

- Actor: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart.”

- Actress: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side.”

- Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds.”

- Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”

- Director: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker.”

- Foreign Film: “El Secreto de Sus Ojos,” Argentina.

- Adapted Screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher, “Precious: Based on the Novel `Push’ by Sapphire.”

- Original Screenplay: Mark Boal, “The Hurt Locker.”

- Animated Feature Film: “Up.”

- Art Direction: “Avatar.”

- Cinematography: “Avatar.”

- Sound Mixing: “The Hurt Locker.”

- Sound Editing: “The Hurt Locker.”

- Original Score: “Up,” Michael Giacchino.

- Original Song: “The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart,” Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.

- Costume: “The Young Victoria.”

- Documentary Feature: “The Cove.”

- Documentary (short subject): “Music by Prudence.”

- Film Editing: “The Hurt Locker.”

- Makeup: “Star Trek.”

- Animated Short Film: “Logorama.”

- Live Action Short Film: “The New Tenants.”

- Visual Effects: “Avatar.”

A Prophet: Bright Star Emerges From Bleak Prison Drama

Source:  www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

A Prophet
(out of 4)
Starring Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif and Hichem Yacoubi. Directed by Jacques Audiard. 155 minutes. At the Cumberland. 18A

(March 5, 2010) Anyone who believes in the corrective potential of prison life is guaranteed to be plunged into despair by
A Prophet, a commanding new film by genre master Jacques Audiard.

Corruption is as thick as the grime that covers the seedy French prison where much of the movie's brisk 2 1/2 hours unfolds. The place is so rife with collusion, with guards allowing favoured criminals free reign, it's almost as comical as an old Hogan's Heroes episode – except nobody's laughing.

People leave this branch of hell either as a tougher criminal ("a little smarter," as one savvy con puts it), or in a box. There is no redemption, and Alexandre Desplat's austere score allows no shred of hope.

Film lovers, however, have reason for joy, and not just because A Prophet arrives with numerous laurels, including the Grand Prix at Cannes last May and a Best Foreign Language Film nomination for Sunday's Oscars.

Amidst the gloom, urgently summoning our attention, is one of the most impressive performances of recent times, by relative newcomer Tahar Rahim. He wrings empathy for a brutal character, making us admire his determination if nothing else.

He's Malik El Djebena, a 19-year-old illiterate troublemaker who is tossed into the clink on a six-year sentence, left with no family or friends to defend him. He's part Arab and part Corsican, speaking both languages (as well as French) but is given no respect by the warring Muslim and Corsican factions within the prison.

The Muslims find him untrustworthy and a bit of a loose cannon; the Corsicans call him a "dirty Arab."

Malik has an abundance of bravery, though, even when outnumbered in a violent dust-up between inmates. He's spotted by Corsican gang leader César Luciani, who susses that the kid has spirit and could be useful.

César and his gang make Malik an offer he can't refuse: assist them in rubbing out fellow Arab prisoner Reyeb (Hichem Yacoubi), whom they view as a threat, and he'll be rewarded. Disappointment means death for Malik. If he succeeds, things will never be the same for him again.

Audiard and his co-writer Thomas Bidegain ratchet up the challenges and tension for Malik, who follows a naif-to-nabob trajectory that will remind many of Al Pacino's underworld ascent in Scarface.

Except there's no screaming or hammy demands to "Say hello to my leetle friend." Rahim's Malik is the picture of guile, masking his considerable intelligence and cunning behind a face that suggests only a servile oafishness. Even as he yields to the Corsican demands, cleaning up after them and cooking for them like a common skivvy, he is thinking of ways to use them and get back at them.

Rahim's work is so strong it threatens to suck all the oxygen out of the room. Fortunately, he gets excellent support from Arestrup, who makes César a crime lord both formidable and fatherly.

Adel Bencherif's performance as prison friend Ryad, who teaches Malik how to read and write and who cunningly bestows the title honorific, is another grand design.

A third-act shift outside the prison helps relieve the claustrophobia that has been steadily building. But the intensity of Rahim's performance never flags.

A Prophet is a movie almost entirely about men, which makes it fascinating that it was edited by a woman, Juliette Welfling. Even when the characters and subplots begin to seem relentless – there are more than the film needs – Welfling keeps them interesting.

A Prophet hardly needs the non-ironic musical underlining that "Mack the Knife" provides so directly: "Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear / And it shows them pearly white ..."

Yet the tune has the mood exactly right: This is a movie that jumps up and grabs you by the throat. 


Barbara Walters: What Kind Of Tree Is She?

www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(March 06, 2010) Twenty-nine years, 93 interviews, one regret.

Barbara Walters' personal scorecard when it comes to ranking her internationally famous Oscar-night interviews that come to a close Sunday evening in a program featuring Mo'Nique and Sandra Bullock.

For nearly three decades, the interviews made up one of the most sought-after, eagerly watched, highest-rated programs on television, but now, Walters has decided to stop doing them.

It's not a retirement, because she admits that she's going to continue delving into the private lives of the world's big names, but the showbiz-specific package she puts together at Oscar time each year will be a thing of the past.

"Until very recently, to see one of these movie stars on this program was a big deal for them and for me. But now, with all these cable programs giving people sound bites of every star, I would have to come up with a show that was special, special, special!"

Walters is on the phone from her Manhattan office and – to be totally honest – it's an intimidating experience. I've profiled some of the biggest stars today without blinking an eye, but now I'm talking to the woman who is arguably the most famous and most successful interviewer of our time.

But Walters is not only gracious, she's amazingly relaxed, anxious to swap stories about interviewing a certain Jonas Brother ("Oh my God," she laughs, "you wanted to keep finishing his sentences for him!"), or George Clooney ("Isn't he the best? Always new and fresh and wonderful!").

Today's agenda, however, is about the Oscar broadcasts, and although it's sad to hear, she sounds tired of them and glad to be rid of the burden.

"Every year I say, `This is going to be the last one,' but finally this year, before I even did it, I said, `This is enough.' Why? I'm sick of walking down the stairs at the start of each episode. I was always scared of heights. I'm sick of trying to come up with a winning list of special people when the people just aren't that special anymore."

I run the risk of asking her if it's like what deluded, fading silent screen star Norma Desmond said in Sunset Boulevard: "I'm still big, it's the pictures that got smaller."

In other words, has Walters become too famous for the kind of celebrities she gets to interview?

There's the kind of dangerous pause that could end an interview, then Walters says, "Well, I don't really like to think of myself as Norma Desmond," but she grasps the bigger point of the metaphor and moves on, admitting "a lot of times today, I'm talking to people who have just made their first movie. They may be wonderful actors, but most of the country doesn't know them and it's hard to do an in-depth interview with someone who's only done one picture."

Indeed, over the years, commercial pressures have forced Walters to conduct several interviews that she'd sooner forget.

"I absolutely hated the year I had to sit down with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I don't want to go down in history for doing that one. And the year I talked to Shrek? Please. Let me forget that."

Walters' personal interview hall of fame is full of more glamorous names: Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Bob Mitchum. When asked why she loved talking to them so much, she sighs as though it were obvious.

"Those are the old greats, my friend. And they bring oh so much to the table. A lifetime of art, experience, triumph, tragedy. When I talk to someone like Miley Cyrus, for example, I still respect her, but I treat her differently, because she has so much less of a story to tell."

That doesn't mean that even today's stars aren't capable of commanding Walters' respect and interest. She shares a couple of scoops in advance from this year's broadcast: "I don't think I'll ever forget Mo'Nique telling me about how her brother sexually abused her, or Sandra Bullock talking about how her marriage has made her so secure that she doesn't worry about her career for the first time in her life. No, there are still wonderful stories to be told. There just aren't that many of them."

Over the years, Walters became known for several telling features. One of them was the way she could get people to admit things they had no intention of revealing.

She laughs when she tells me her personal trick for doing that: "I'd look at them and say, `What's the biggest misconception about you?' Then they'd say, `That I'm an alcoholic,' and I'd reply, `Well, are you?'"

We share a laugh about that, before I turn it around on her, asking, "What's the biggest misconception about Barbara Walters?"

Instead of crying "Foul!" she answers honestly.

"I think it used to be that I was too tough, stern and humourless. That's one of the reasons I started to do The View. My daughter said, `Come on, Mom, at least they won't know you're always serious.'"

But Walters has always carried around a lot of baggage. It may have been by Louis Vuitton, but it was baggage nonetheless.

The first female news anchor on prime time, the first woman in broadcast history with a million-dollar-a-year contract, the first woman to talk to presidents and prime ministers and kings the way that only men had done before.

"But I didn't do it to make breakthroughs for my gender," says Walters. "I was just Lou Walters' kid, trying to do the best she could."

Her reference is to her showbiz agent father, whose incredible rise and rapid decline during his daughter's childhood gave her an insider's view of the highs and lows of celebrity that she would never forget.

For a long time, Walters was known as the interviewer who made her subjects cry.

"I never set out to get tears," she reveals. "I just kept asking them about their childhood years and a lot of people are very emotional about those.

"But I remember the day I finished interviewing Halle Berry, and as soon as we said `cut,' she shouted out, `No tears, no tears, hooray!' and I knew I could never make anyone cry again."

The worst interview of her life?

"Warren Beatty. It was like pulling teeth. I'd ask him `How are you?' and he'd say, `That's a very hard question.'"

And what about that one regret?

"In 2000, I pushed Ricky Martin very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was. A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now I feel it was an inappropriate question."

Then there's the famous Walters trope that people love to mock: "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"

She's anxious to set the record straight.

"I was interviewing Katharine Hepburn, and she said, `Oh, sometimes I think I'm just an old tree,' so I said, `What kind of a tree?'"

We laugh at that, then I pose the question: "What kind of a tree is Barbara Walters?"

"Oh, Richard," she chuckles, "Sandra Bullock asks me that on the show, so you'll just have to tune in to find out."


Actor Michael J. Fox Named Honorary Doctor In Sweden

www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(March 08, 2010) Sweden's Karolinska institute gave an honorary degree of medicine to Canadian actor
Michael J. Fox for his work to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson's disease. The institute, which awards the annual Nobel Prize in medicine, says the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research has since 2000 given more than $175 million to research aimed at developing drugs against the disease. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991. The disease is a progressive neurological condition that impairs the motor skills. The 48-year-old star of Family Ties and Back to the Future will collect the degree at a ceremony in New York.


At Home By Myself ... With You: Actors Shine In Canadian Rom-Com

www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

At Home By Myself ... With You
(out of 4)
Starring Kristin Booth, Aaron Abrams and Shauna MacDonald. Directed by Kris Booth. 85 minutes. At the Royal. PG

(March 05, 2010) One of two micro-budgeted Canadian movies playing the Royal this week (the other is Zooey & Adam),
At Home By Myself ... With You has already earned some attention due to its director's unique efforts to get the money to make it.

Unlucky with the various funding agencies, Toronto filmmaker Kris Booth went with metaphorical hat in hand to friends, colleagues and strangers. A Facebook page named "I'm Making a Movie With Pocket Change" aided his campaign. After raising $42,000, he set to work on this debut feature with a similarly plucky group of local actors.

Like so many Canadian filmmakers who've had to operate under severe budget constraints, Booth has limited the number of locations needed for his production to one (hey, it worked for Vincenzo Natali with Cube).

In this case, it's the brightly coloured apartment home of Romy (Kristin Booth, no relation to the director), a young agoraphobe who has not left her place in six years.

It's easy to see why she believes that "bad things happen" when she goes outside, seeing as previous excursions led to the tragic deaths of her parents, her first boyfriend and her dog. They also inspired the other phobias (e.g., lobsters, opening boxes) that add further complications to her daily life and her career as a travel agent.

Romy clearly needs a reason to change and he arrives in the form of a handsome new neighbour who coyly refuses to tell her his name. Shenanigans ensue as they try to cope with each other's many foibles.

All romantic comedies thrive or wither based on the quality of the obstacles that stand between the would-be lovers and their goal of conjugal bliss. Unfortunately, the obstacles in At Home By Myself ... With You are too silly and thinly conceived. As a result, the people on screen often seem like walking, talking collections of cute quirks rather than characters worth caring about.

Yet the film does have its charms, largely thanks to its cast. Equally adept at light comic roles and more harrowing turns, Kristin Booth was a standout performer in two other recent Toronto indies, This Beautiful City and Young People F***ing. The latter also featured a fun performance by Aaron Abrams, her co-star here.

As for their castmates, Shauna MacDonald and Canadian stage veteran Rosemary Dunsmore make the most of smaller parts while Gordon Pinsent serves as the tale's narrator.

Though Pinsent's voiceover and several animated interludes up the whimsy factor to dangerously high levels, the lively performances make At Home By Myself ... With You worth a trip outside your own home. 

June Faulkner, 84: Quiet Force Behind TWP

www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(March 09, 2010)
June Faulkner — a major force behind the scenes of Toronto theatre who died on Fridayat age 84 — hated the idea of becoming a celebrity.

“Darling,” she would say with a husky laugh when asked for interviews, “write about the theatre — not me.”

That’s why she was a powerful cultural player loved and revered by insiders — whom the public rarely heard about.

Her greatest legacy is the golden era of Toronto Workshop Productions, where in partnership with George Luscombe she set high standards, created a climate of excitement and earned international recognition.

Growing up in Wales, she fell under the spell of her father, who liked to read aloud — poetry and the Bible. He introduced her to theatre, and as a kid she worked backstage for a touring Shakespeare company.

Faulkner arrived in Canada in 1952, along with her husband John Faulkner and his three children. Shortly after arriving, she gave birth to their son, Christopher. While living in northwestern Ontario, she worked as a newspaper reporter and earned awards for amateur acting. And she met Luscombe, starting a friendship that eventually turned into a professional partnership in 1967, when she became business manager of TWP.

After a divorce, she met Calvin Butler, an actor from England who came to Toronto to make a movie and wound up working at TWP. They were together for 40 years.

At TWP, Faulkner did much more than her title of general manager might suggest. She told Luscombe the company needed a new theatre downtown. As a centennial project, without any government support, Faulkner raised the money and spearheaded the building of a small theatre on Alexander St. known originally as TWP and now as the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

The result: a sensational decade for TWP including hits such as Ten Lost Years and Les Canadiens. In 1976 she persuaded Luscome to take a sabbatical, leaving Faulkner to program what turned out to be a hugely successful season of theatre and dance. Two years later, she resigned.

After a brief stint at the Shaw Festival, Faulkner spent 12 years as general manager of Young People’s Theatre, collaborating with Peter Moss among others, before retiring in 1992.

Since then she has served on the boards of many organizations, including the Dora Awards and the Theatre Museum, while also travelling extensively and providing advice and know-how to many friends and colleagues in Toronto’s world of live performance.

Now for the first time in decades, the best answer to a theatrical problem will no longer be: “Ask June.” A public memorial will be held on Sunday, March 28, at the Young Centre in the Distillery District.


40-Something Women Flock To Facebook Games

www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman

(March 06, 2010) You might be surprised who's playing games on
Facebook, the world's biggest social networking service with more than 400 million accounts. According to an extensive survey commissioned by PopCap Games, it's middle-aged women – not teenage boys – who make up the bulk of players. The recently published study, based on U.S. and U.K. data, found 55 per cent of all "social gamers" are female, with 43 as the average age. Women were also found to play games more often than men, as 38 per cent of female social gamers said they play "several times a day," compared to 29 per cent of males. The most popular Facebook games are Zynga's FarmVille – now with 82 million players, 60 per cent of whom are female – as well as PopCap Games' Bejeweled Blitz and Zynga's Café World and Mafia Wars.

Crisis at Infinity Ward? The online gaming community was abuzz earlier this week after hearing Activision fired two top developers at Infinity Ward, the celebrated California studio responsible for the billion-dollar Call of Duty series. President Jason West and CEO Vince Zampella were not only let go, as confirmed by Activision, but in a report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Activision stated that it is "concluding an internal human resources inquiry into breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward." Yikes. While passionate gamers are vocalizing their misgivings on Internet forums, Activision is assuring fans the franchise is still alive and well – with upcoming titles to be developed by Infinity Ward and other studios.

New Xbox bundles Holding off from buying an Xbox 360? Xbox Canada has announced three new bundles. Available now, the Xbox 360 Elite Bundle ($299) includes an Xbox 360 Elite console with 120-gigabyte hard drive, wireless controller, headset and copies of Halo 3: ODST and Forza Motorsport 3. Alternatively, on March 9, you can pick up the Final Fantasy XIII Special Edition Bundle ($399), which includes an Xbox 360 with 250 GB hard drive, two wireless controllers, copy of Square-Enix's Final Fantasy XIII, exclusive downloadable avatar items, and for a limited time, a faceplate created by game designer Tetsuya Nomura. Then, on April 13, there's the Splinter Cell: Conviction Bundle, which includes an Xbox 360 with 250 GB hard drive, two wireless controllers, headset and copy of Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction.

Samsung, Panasonic launch $3,000 3-D TVs in U.S.

Source:  www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(March 10, 2010) NEW YORK–Samsung and Panasonic will start selling 3-D TVs in U.S. stores this week, inaugurating what TV makers hope is the era of 3-D viewing in the living room.

Samsung Electronics Co. announced Tuesday that it is selling two 3-D sets. Combined with the required glasses and a 3-D Blu-ray player, the prices start at about $3,000 (U.S.) for a 46-inch screen.

Panasonic Corp. has said it will sell its first 3-D set Wednesday.

The push into the living room comes as moviegoers have shown considerable enthusiasm for the latest wave of 3-D fare in the theatre. The 3-D effect requires viewers to wear bulky glasses that need to be recharged occasionally.

They're not like the cheap throwaways that have been used in theatres since the 1950s. But for now, there isn't much to watch in 3-D. Samsung is including a 3-D copy of Monsters vs. Aliens on Blu-ray discs with its packages, in a deal with the studio, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., which says it will convert its Shrek movies to 3-D for Samsung TV buyers later this year.

And, eventually, sports and other programming that will benefit from a more immersive experience should be offered in 3-D. ESPN has said it will start a channel that will broadcast live events using the technology.

The TVs going on sale this week aren't the very first ones that are 3-D capable. A few years ago, Mitsubishi Corp., started selling 3-D rear-projection sets. But this is the first time consumers can get flat-panel sets that come with an easy way of accessing 3-D content through Blu-ray players.

Associated Press


Argos sign ex-Bills QB Gibran Hamdan

Source:  www.thestar.com - Chris Zelkovich

(March 10, 2010) The football team that didn’t have a quarterback two days ago now has two.

The Toronto Argonauts announced Wednesday that they have signed former Buffalo Bills back-up
Gibran Hamdan. On Tuesday, the Argos traded a fifth-round draft choice to Saskatchewan for third-stringer Dalton Bell.

“I’m excited to learn as much as I can from my new coaches and teammates in Toronto, and want to do whatever I can to help the team prepare and win,” the 29-year-old San Diego native said in a statement issued by the team. “I’ve already begun to surround myself with people who know what it takes to be a successful quarterback in the CFL and I’m working very hard to get ready.

“Coming to Toronto is an excellent opportunity and I’m eager to get started.”

Hamdan was a seventh-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins in 2003 after starting at the University of Indiana. He bounced around with five NFL teams and was named offensive MVP of the year in NFL Europe in 2006.

He has attempted only two passes in NFL regular-season play, but the Argos believe he has shown enough to be a starting quarterback in the Canadian Football League.

“`Gibran is a true professional,” said Argo head coach Jim Barker. “Gibran is an accurate passer who has the arm strength to make all of the necessary throws.”

During that span, he appeared in just one regular-season game, that being in 2003 with Washington when he completed 1-of-2 passes for seven yards.

Hamdan played in four exhibition games last season with Buffalo, completing 32-of-48 passes (66.7 per cent) for 427 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

He played three seasons in NFL Europe (2004-'06) and was with Amsterdam his final year, the year he won the MVP award, completing 102-of-162 passes (63 per cent) for 1,629 yards and 12 TDs with only three interceptions.