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March 4, 2010

Apologies folks!  Very few graphics this week - a web issue that I can't resolve while I'm in sunny St. Maarten.   BUT all the graphics are on my site at www.langfieldentertainment.com

 Welcome to March!  I'm currently in St. Maarten to cover the live music element of the 30th Heineken Regatta with Maxi Priest performing for the closing party.  The weather is just gorgeous and the island is full of experienced sailors and lots of excited patrons.  So I'll keep these short and sweet!

So, there's lots of new 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


Genie Nominations Offer Surprises, Emotion

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon and Gayle MacDonald

(March 2, 2010) Denis Villeneuve’s harrowing drama about the 1989 Montreal massacre Polytechnique led the field with 11 nominations at yesterday’s
Genie Awards announcement, while the highly acclaimed J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother) was conspicuously incognito, receiving just one special award from The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

A major success on the film festival circuit, director Xavier Dolan’s story of the explosive ties between a mother and her teenage son had been Canada’s official entry for a best foreign-language film Oscar.

But J’ai tué ma mère didn’t make the final Oscar nomination list, nor did it receive any Genie nods in the regular categories. Instead, the Canadian academy’s jury, composed of film professionals, technicians and critics, will give Dolan the Genie’s special Claude Jutra Award for outstanding work by a first-time feature filmmaker at the Genie Awards gala on April 12 in Toronto.

"It definitely was considered in all the categories," said Sara Morton, chief executive officer of the Canadian academy. "There is a significant difference between a film that does well on the festival circuit and one which is in a competition against other films. I don't think you can generalize from festival success to Genie success."

Those at the press conference in downtown Toronto could be forgiven for thinking that director Charles Officer’s
Nurse.Fighter.Boy was the runaway success. It came in second with 10 nominations. Each time Nurse.Fighter.Boy was named in categories such as best motion picture and best direction, a host of producers and artists associated with the film cheered, unusual for the quiet-as-church nomination announcements of past years.

“I don’t think I’ve had so many goose pimples on my body,” said Justine Whyte, Nurse.Fighter.Boy’s executive producer and a director of feature filmmaking at the Canadian Film Centre. Why the excitement over Nurse.Fighter.Boy in particular this year? Whyte said, “It has such emotional integrity. I know it affected me over and over again in the edit room.”

After the nominees were announced, more rare emotion surfaced when Officer, Nurse.Fighter.Boy’s director and a former National Hockey League prospect, had to turn away from a reporter to stop from crying.

“This film is something about hope, especially coming out last year with [the election of President] Obama and winning. There was this sort of energy,” said the Canadian-Caribbean director. “I hope that [the film] continues this spirit.”

He added that the Genie nominations can be frustrating because, unlike the Oscars, his film and others have already had their theatrical release and have also long been out on DVD, so it's difficult to capitalize on the award.

Among the other multinominated films were the haunting Inuit drama Before Tomorrow with nine nods; Grande ourse: La clé des possibles (The Master Key) about a fantastical search for a magic key with eight nominations, and Canadian-made Irish political drama Fifty Dead Men Walking with seven.

“It feels fantastic,” said Fifty Dead Men Walking director Kari Skogland, whose film is up for best achievement in direction and other categories. “[Film critic] Roger Ebert said something: He did a very wonderful review of Fifty Dead Men Walking. And [Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq war film] The Hurt Locker was doing it’s run at the time. And he said that Kari Skogland and Kathryn Bigelow have just blown the lid off the notion that women can’t direct action.”

That was like scoring the winning goal, the Toronto-based Skogland said.

Her next films, currently in the development and financing stages, include such diverse action dramas as William the Bastard, a depiction of the Battle of Hastings of 1066, and another film about the mob, which Tom Cruise is considering Skogland said.

She is also an example of how the Genies can have an impact beyond Canada. “People love the story of awards. …There’s no question that ratcheting up the awards is bottom-line oriented,” she said, as she talked about securing financing for her new projects in Hollywood and abroad. 

Junos Go Crazy For Michael Bublé

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner

(March 3, 2010) A few of the expected names are there, but there’s a lot of new blood rubbing shoulders with the usual CanCon royalty in this year’s crop of Juno Awards nominations.

International hitmaker
Michael Bublé looks to continue his long Juno winning streak when the hardware gets handed out in St. John's on April 17 and 18, having notched a field-leading six nominations this time around. The nominees were announced Wednesday morning in Toronto.

The Vancouver crooner is up for artist of the year, songwriter of the year, single of the year for “Haven't Met You Yet” and pop album of the year for Crazy Love, with Crazy Love squaring off against Billy Talent's III, Diana Krall's Quiet Nights, Johnny Reid’s Dance With Me and Justin Bieber’s My World in the all-important album of the year category.

Bublé will also battle Ginette Reno, Johnny Reid, Maxime Landry and Nickelback for the viewer-voted Juno Fan Choice Award. Crazy Love, meanwhile, also earned Bob Rock and David Foster a nomination apiece for producer of the year.

Fellow Juno hoarders Billy Talent are likewise back in the running for a ton of awards, nabbing four nominations. The Toronto rockers will once again go for group of the year (this time against Blue Rodeo, Hedley, the Tragically Hip and Metric) while III is in the running for rock album of the year in addition to album of the year and “Rusted From the Rain” competes for single of the year.

Toronto rapper
Drake (new artist, single of the year for “Best I Ever Had” and two separate nominations for rap recording of the year) and country singer Johnny Reid (Juno Fan Choice, artist of the year and both album of the year and country album of the year for Dance With Me) have elbowed their way into the big leagues with four nominations of their own apiece. Likewise, teen upstart Justin Bieber, local indie-pop crew Metric, K’Naan and Classified can now claim to move in the same rarified orbit as Diana Krall and the Tragically Hip; all have three nominations.

And, rather impressively, 94 of this year’s total nominees are first-timers, so the Junos aren't quite the old boys' and girls' club they used to be.

Precious Is Big Winner At Image Awards

Source: by Kam Williams

(February 27, 2010) *A year ago, newly-elected President Barack Obama dominated the NAACP Image Awards. But this go-round, the movie Precious enjoyed that honour, walking away with a half-dozen trophies in the movie categories, including Best Picture, Director (Lee Daniels), Independent Film, Actress (Gabby Sidibe), Supporting Actress (Mo’Nique) and Screenplay (Geoffrey Fletcher).As for television, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne proved the voters’ favourite, netting four awards.   

Among the evening’s highlights were an array of gracious acceptance speeches, especially those by Mo’Nique and her teary-eyed co-star Gabby Sidibe, and by their director/producer Lee Daniels who brought down the curtain by continue to speak until the closing credits began to roll. Tyler Perry dedicated his accolade to his late mother who just passed away last December.

Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, who’s been wheelchair-bound since the 2001 motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, choked up while expressing how much winning for his work on the comedy series “Brothers” meant to him. Meanwhile, comedian Chris Rock might have gotten off the funniest joke when he feigned presenting an award “for the best light-skinned actress in a mini-series,” especially given that when his own picture, Good Hair, won for Best Documentary, he called it “the blackest movie of all time.”

Complete List of NAACP Image Award Winners:

Outstanding Comedy Series: “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” (TBS)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series: Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, “Brothers” (FOX)

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series: Cassi Davis, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” (TBS)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Lance Gross, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” (TBS)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Keshia Knight Pulliam, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” (TBS)

Outstanding Drama Series: “Lincoln Heights” (ABC Family)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: Hill Harper, “CSI: NY” (CBS)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series: Jada Pinkett Smith, “HawthoRNe” (TNT)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Delroy Lindo, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: S. Epatha Merkerson, “Law & Order” (NBC)

Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: “Gifted Hands” (TNT)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: Cuba Gooding Jr., “Gifted Hands” (TNT)

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: Kimberly Elise, “Gifted Hands” (TNT)

Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series: Cornelius Smith Jr., “All My Children” (ABC)

Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series: Debbi Morgan, “All My Children” (ABC)

Outstanding News/Information – (Series or Special): “The Inauguration of Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States” (BET)

Outstanding Talk Series: “The Mo’Nique Show” (BET)

Outstanding Reality Series: “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (ABC)

Outstanding Variety – (Series or Special): “The Michael Jackson Memorial: Celebrating the Life of Michael Jackson” (ABC, BET, CNN, MTV, NBC …)

Outstanding Children’s Program: “Dora the Explorer” (Nickelodeon)

Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children’s Program – (Series or Special): Keke Palmer – “True Jackson, VP” (Nickelodeon)

Outstanding New Artist: Keri Hilson (Mosley Music Group/Zone 4, Inc./Interscope Records)

Outstanding Male Artist: Maxwell (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Female Artist: Mary J. Blige (Matriarch/Geffen)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration: The Black Eyed Peas (Interscope Records)

Outstanding Jazz Album: “He and She” – Wynton Marsalis (Blue Note Records)

Outstanding Gospel Album – (Traditional or Contemporary): “Still” – BeBe & CeCe Winans (B & C Records)

Outstanding World Music Album: “Black President” – Sila and the Afrofunk Experience (Visila Records)

Outstanding Music Video: “I Look To You” – Whitney Houston (Arista Records)

Outstanding Song: “God In Me” – Mary Mary (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Album: “Stronger With Each Tear” – Mary J. Blige (Matriarch/Geffen)

Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction: “The Long Fall” – Walter Mosley (Riverhead Books)

Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction: “In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past” – Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Crown)

Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author: “A Question of Freedom” – R. Dwayne Betts (Avery Books)

Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography: “Michelle Obama” – Deborah Willis (W. W. Norton)

Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional: “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man” – Steve Harvey (Amistad)

Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry: “Bicycles” – Nikki Giovanni (William Morrow)

Outstanding Literary Work – Children: “Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change” – Michelle Cook (Author)(Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens: “Michelle Obama: Meet the First Lady” – David Bergen Brophy (Collins – An Imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Publishing)

Outstanding Motion Picture: “Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture: Morgan Freeman – “Invictus” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture: Gabourey Sidibe – “Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Adam Rodriguez – “Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself” (Lionsgate)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Mo’Nique – “Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture: “Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)

Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture: “The Stoning of Soraya M.” (Mpower Pictures)

Outstanding Documentary (Theatrical or Television): “Good Hair” (Roadside Attractions)

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series: Halsted Sullivan and Warren Lieberstein – “The Office” – Café Disco (NBC)

Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series: Shonda Rhimes – “Grey’s Anatomy” – What a Difference A Day Makes (ABC)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Theatrical or Television): Geoffrey Fletcher – “Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series: Ken Whittingham – “30 Rock” – The Funcooker (NBC)

Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series: Chandra Wilson – “Grey’s Anatomy” – Give Peace a Chance (ABC)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Theatrical or Television): Lee Daniels – “Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)

Roger Ebert Uses Computer To Speak On Oprah

Source:  www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(March 02, 2010) Roger Ebert has a blunt message for anyone who has trouble with the machine that has restored his voice: get over it.

"Hey, I use a computer to talk," he told the Toronto Star in an email interview.

"Live with it. I do."

The Chicago Sun-Times movie critic, never one to mince words, will doubtless offer similar sentiments when he appears Tuesday on The Oprah Winfrey Show, to discuss the technology that promises to make him a TV regular once again.

Ebert, 67, has long been popular both for his print and television reviews, the latter including his famous "thumbs up/thumbs down" judgments with the late Gene Siskel and more recently with fellow Sun-Times scribe Richard Roeper.

But since 2006, when surgical complications from thyroid cancer treatment left him with only a partial jawbone and no voice, Ebert has been unable to reclaim his TV perch.

His syndicated show At the Movies was reprogrammed in 2008 and both Ebert and Roeper sheathed their thumbs. The famous balcony set that Ebert and his partners had used for decades was smashed up by show producer Disney-ABC and put out with the trash.

Now a breakthrough in technology, provided by a Scottish firm called CereProc that Ebert chanced upon while web surfing, is offering Ebert a chance at a second broadcast life, something that seemed impossible until very recently.

In a nice poetic touch, CereProc technicians used old movies to assist Ebert. The pristine commentary tracks he recorded over the past decade for DVD releases of Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Floating Weeds, Dark City and even Beyond the Valley of the Dolls were analyzed and digitized to produce a large vocabulary that Ebert can summon up simply by typing the words on his Macintosh laptop's keyboard.

The words sound remarkably like him, he said, a vast improvement from other text-to-voice programs he has used, including one he calls Alex that plays on his Mac.

CereProc demonstrates its technical prowess with samples of the synthesized voices of Barack Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger on its website, www.cereproc.com.

Ebert and his wife Chaz plan to take it to the next level by creating a new TV movie review show in which Ebert would once again be heard as well as seen. But it would be different from his past shows with Siskel and Roeper, in which he passionately argued the pros and cons of movies.

"I would not appear live," Ebert said. "The show we are producing will use two great critics, neither of them me. I think I will be able to do voice-overs on some reviews and video essays."

Ebert has bravely allowed his face to be seen in public, despite significant disfigurement caused by illness and surgery. The current issue of Esquire has a full-face portrait of him, without the neck scarf he usually wears.

His lips no longer move, which may cause some TV viewers to wonder who is talking. Asked if this presents a potential problem, Ebert responded with the "live with it" comment above.

But he hasn't lost his sense of humour. Asked if he considered making his new show a one-man review stand, he responded: "It would be impossible. The sight of me typing has limited entertainment value."

There's no name for the new show yet ("we're noodling a couple of titles") and no set premiere date. But the show is definitely a "go," he said.

"Autumn 2010 for sure, maybe sooner. Everything is lined up."

When he appears on the Oprah show, talking with the famous woman he used to date many years ago, Ebert will be using both his new CereProc voice and his older Alex one.

The CereProc one will announce his predictions for the winners of Sunday's Academy Awards, which leads to another question: What does he think of the academy's move this year to double Best Picture nominees from five to 10?

"Pointless," Ebert replied.

"It may dilute the vote enough for an indie with very strong backing to win, which is probably what the academy hoped to prevent. To figure out the five `real nominees,' match the 10 nominees with the five Best Director nominees."

Before long, Ebert will be able to make such zingers with his old familiar voice once again.

Russell Peters Lands Role In Sci-Fi Film Source Code

(March 1st, 2010) (Toronto ) Fans will soon be able to catch global comedy rock-star, Russell Peters (www.russellpeters.com) on the big screen in the Sci-fi thriller, Source Code,  directed by Duncan Jones (Moon) featuring Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Michelle Monaghan (Eagle Eye) and Jeffrey Wright (Quantum of Solace).
Originally scheduled to start shooting after Peters’ Australia and New Zealand tour, his shoot dates were moved-up when the producers decided to expand his role in the film with additional scenes and dialogue.  Peters rescheduled all of his March dates, including Australia , New Zealand and Las Vegas to May, in order to participate in the film.
"Moving the tour wasn't an easy decision to make – I’ve never had to do this before,” says Peters.  “I've been looking for good film roles for a while now and this one’s really good.”
With over 30,000 tickets already sold for his Australia and New Zealand tour, Peters was set to perform the largest comedy show in Australian history, with over 11,000 fans scheduled to attend his Sydney show at the Acer Arena
In February, 2009 Peters broke the UK record for the highest attendance for a comedy show when 16,000 fans attended his O2 Arena show in London ..
For Peters new tour schedule visit, www.russellpeters.com.
Source Code centers on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown commuter and is forced to live and relive a harrowing train bombing until he can determine who is responsible for it.  The film is scheduled for a 2011 release.
Peters’ current tour, titled “The Green Card Tour,” features all new material since the release of his latest DVD, Red, White and Brown.  In 2009 he was ranked by Forbes -- along with Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock -- as one of the top ten highest grossing stand-up comics in the U.S.   With his signature irreverent take on race, culture and all of our so-called differences, Peters has gained a devoted global following and has been packing theatres, arenas and clubs worldwide for two decades including two sold out shows at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall in January 2010 and Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre in February 2010.
For more information on Russell Peters, visit www.russellpeters.com


Re-Experiencing Jimi Hendrix

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Larry LeBlanc

(February 28, 2010) Forty years after his untimely death at 27, Jimi Hendrix’s musical legacy continues to thrive.

“In two years, Jimi would have been 70,” reflects his stepsister Janie Hendrix, president and CEO of Seattle-based Experience Hendrix, which safeguards the singer/guitarist’s legacy for an estate worth over $80-million (U.S.). She adds, “That’s hard to imagine.”

Hendrix’s catalogue sells about 1.2 million units annually worldwide. His songs have been recorded by Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow and Bob Dylan in recent years.

“People are still interested in picking up Jimi Hendrix’s catalogue,” reports Ken Kirkwood, director of purchasing at HMV Canada, which operates 128 stores. “Without any new releases last year, his catalogue sold a bit less than Bob Dylan’s and half of what the Rolling Stones sell. That’s still pretty big.”

“The older fans are now teaching the younger generation about him,” says Janie. “We now have pre-teens wanting Jimi’s music.”

Under a new eight-year licensing deal between Experience Hendrix and Sony Music Entertainment, the album Valleys of Neptune is being released worldwide March 9th. Produced by Janie Hendrix, John McDermott and Jimi’s former engineer Eddie Kramer, it features 12 previously unreleased studio recordings by the Jimi Hendrix Experience band.

 “The tapes were in excellent shape ... we didn’t have to ‘bake’ any tapes or get into any extensive restoration,” says McDermott. “Everything we needed was right there.”

Valleys of Neptune chronicles a turbulent period for Hendrix in mid-1969 as the Experience was developing songs for an album left uncompleted when its bassist, Noel Redding left the band. (Redding died in 2003.) Hendrix then recruited an army buddy, Billy Cox. “There was a real shift in the music,” says McDermott. “This record captures that shift.”

Interviewing the Experience backstage at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver in 1968 for CBC-TV, Terry David Mulligan was startled when Hendrix asked, “Do they still have Dawson Annex School here? I used to go there … My grandmother, her boyfriend and my cousins are out there. I haven’t seen them yet. I will see them later on tonight.”

“I couldn’t believe it,” says Mulligan, now host of Mulligan Stew for the CKUA radio station in Edmonton. “The marketing of the Jimi Hendrix Experience had been out of London. Nobody made the connection between Seattle and Vancouver with him.”

Jimi’s father Al Hendrix was, in fact, born in Vancouver in 1919. His parents, Zenora “Nora” Moore and Bertram Philander Ross Hendrix, were vaudeville performers who had moved there in 1912 after their Dixieland troupe had disbanded in Seattle. All four of their children were born in Vancouver. In 1922, Ross and Nora Hendrix became Canadian citizens.

Ross Hendrix worked as a steward in two of Vancouver’s most prestigious private clubs, the American Club and the Transportation Club of Vancouver, before becoming first porter at the newly opened Quilchena Golf & Country Club in Richmond, B.C., in 1925. He held this position until his death in 1934.

Following their father’s death, the Hendrix children went in separate directions. After a few years of attempting to find regular work in Vancouver and Victoria, Al moved to Seattle, where he married Lucille Jeter on March 31, 1942. Jimi was born later that year on Nov. 27.

While much of her family came to resettle in Seattle, Nora Hendrix remained in Vancouver where she was a well-known figure in the city’s black community. She helped form the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Vancouver’s first black church.

Jimi had a close relationship with his grandmother Nora. His parents had divorced when he was 9; and his mother died in 1958 at age 32. Jimi often stayed with Nora in her home on East Georgia Street. He attended Grade 1 at Sir William Dawson Annex in Vancouver's West End.

“Jimi stayed with grandma because my dad was working such long hours,” says Janie. “It was hard for him to be there for Jimi. He didn’t want him to be a latchkey kid.”

After a one-year stint in the U.S. Army in 1961, Jimi often visited Vancouver, playing as a sideman in local clubs, including Dante’s Inferno with Tommy Chong’s band, Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers.

After Jimi’s death, Al Hendrix continued taking his family to visit Nora. “Every other weekend, we were in Vancouver,” recalls Janie. “We went to the PNE, rode around the bus for a dime all day long, and went to Chinatown.”

Overseeing Jimi Hendrix’s legacy is a massive task. Janie Hendrix, adopted by Al Hendrix in 1968 when he married her mother, has drawn unfavourable comparisons to John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono. Janie laughs, “The evil one, right? Without me, my dad would have signed away everything.”

The estate has been involved in conflicts for decades. “It is kind of like the Kennedy family curse; this is the Hendrix curse,” says Janie.

Two years ago, Janie was sued unsuccessfully by Jimi's younger brother, Leon Hendrix, Leon's children and seven other members of the Hendrix family, who claimed Janie schemed for years to have Leon cut from Al Hendrix's will. Many of the estate’s legal wrangles can be traced to 1966, when Jimi Hendrix appointed Yameta, a Bahamas-based company operated by British nightclub owner Michael Jeffery and producer Chas Chandler (bassist of the Animals), to be his manager; and he granted the company exclusive rights to his performances.

Legal tangles would ensue after Jeffery was killed in 1973 in a mid-air collision over Nantes, France, while aboard an Iberia Airlines DC-9.

At the time of Hendrix's death on Sept. 18, 1970, in London, a coroner recorded an open verdict, stating that the cause was “barbiturate intoxication, and inhalation of vomit.”

However, details about Jimi Hendrix’s death have remained in dispute for decades. In 2009, there were even reports in the U.K. media about allegations that Jeffery had murdered Jimi Hendrix by plying him with pills and a bottle of wine.“I remember hearing about all of these conspiracy theories when I was a kid,” says Janie. “They were really heartbreaking for my father.”

She recalls the immediate effect of Jimi’s death on the family. “My dad was 50, and he loses his 27-year-old child. So we had to ship Jimi’s body back. Jimi had a studio in New York (Electric Ladyland) but it still owed [mortgage payments]. Jimi wrecked two cars, and they were in the auto shop. Now dad flies back from London [where Jimi died] to New York to gather his things up. He’s distraught. His son died. It was a very hard time.

“Do I know if he was murdered? Do I want to point fingers today? Well, [almost] every person that was involved with Jimi is dead now. There’s no way of us proving if it is true or not.”

After Jimi’s death, a friend put Al Hendrix in touch with Leo Branton, Jr., a celebrated Los Angeles-based civil-rights litigator, and entertainment attorney. A handshake between the two led to Branton being hired to untangle the various contracts Jimi had signed and to oversee his musical legacy. Al Hendrix would receive $50,000 (U.S.) annually.

“My dad was an eighth-grade graduate,” says Janie. “He had his own gardening business and had a great clientele. His son dies with this massive estate. My dad didn’t know anything about the music business.”

In 1993, Al Hendrix filed suit in federal court in Seattle against Branton as well as the Bella Godiva, Inherit, Elber and Are You Experienced companies. He charged that Branton had wrongly transferred Jimi Hendrix’s assets to the co-defendant companies. In 1995, a settlement was reached that transferred ownership of all Hendrix musical works to Al Hendrix. He died in 2002 leaving Janie Hendrix in control of Jimi’s heritage.

Since 1995, Jimi Hendrix’s catalogue has been continuously issued under the officially sanctioned Experience Hendrix and Dagger Records imprints.

Also being released on March 9 are CD/DVD versions of the Experience albums, Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold As Love, Electric Ladyland and First Rays of the New Rising Sun.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Games Closers A Mystery But Michael Bublé, Nickelback Safe Bets

Source: www.thestar.com - Nick Patch

(February 28, 2010) VANCOUVER – If the opening ceremonies of the Olympics were like a meticulously organized dinner party, the closing is being billed as something more like a kegger: boisterous, unpredictable and relatively light on decorum.

The big question surrounding this Sunday's bash, then, concerns the guest list: Who's invited?

On Friday, the head of the
Vancouver Olympic organizing committee was careful not to tip his hand. John Furlong predicted that the festivities will be young, light-hearted, and would poke fun at Canada.

And he promised they will showcase some "pretty amazing Canadian talent."

"The idea is to have a light-hearted, fun-filled (show), and it's likely at the end of the show – again, especially if you're not a Canadian – you will come face to face with people you might have thought were from somewhere else," Furlong said.

So, who might he be talking about?

Well, local crooner Michael Bublé is a fairly safe bet.

His latest album, Crazy Love, hit No. 1 around the world. He's here already, contributing commentary on hockey for Australian TV. And he's associated with manager Bruce Allen, who is serving as headline talent producer for the opening and closing ceremonies, and whose clients Bryan Adams and Anne Murray both factored into the opening bash.

When reached, a spokesperson for Bublé declined to comment, citing a non-disclosure agreement.

Another local artist to watch for might be Diana Krall.

The sultry B.C.-born chanteuse matches Bublé's international acclaim, having won Grammys and released platinum albums in the United States and Canada. And, like Bublé, she's connected: her manager, Sam Feldman, is serving in the same capacity as Allen, and another of Feldman's clients, Nelly Furtado, was involved in the opening ceremony.

Toronto rockers Rush, also members of Feldman's flock, are factoring into the rumour mill, as well. A publicist for the trio cited a non-disclosure agreement when asked to comment on rumours of their involvement.

The third headline talent producer for the show is Dan Fraser of Nettwerk Management, a company whose roster includes Sarah McLachlan (another of the opening ceremonies' headline performers) and k-os, the Toronto hip-hop artist whose possible involvement in the closing has incited whispers on Twitter.

Or how about Nickelback? To the chagrin of some, Canadian rock bands don't get much bigger than the divisive Hanna, Alta., hard-rockers, and frontman Chad Kroeger has been spotted about town over the past week.

So has Avril Lavigne, who has a new album due in June, and who represented Canada during the closing ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

There are rumours country superstar Shania Twain is in town, and some fans are holding out hope she might make an appearance. Twain carried the Olympic torch through her hometown of Timmins, Ont. And she's also been spotted out and about in Whistler, B.C., this week.

But another of Canada's most popular exports won't be making the trip.

A publicist for Celine Dion has confirmed to The Canadian Press that she won't be in Vancouver for Sunday's festivities. Neither will Joni Mitchell, whose publicist similarly confirmed her non-involvement.

Another thing viewers won't see? Token French content shoehorned in to appease critics who felt the opening ceremonies were too English-centric, Furlong said.

But it so happens that the closing may include more French, regardless.

"We will be delivering the show that we've planned for the past two years, but you will be under no doubt at the end of the show that in respect to the question of French and English, we are a bilingual country and we celebrate it."

David Atkins, executive producer of the ceremonies, told The Canadian Press: "The closing ... is a very different ceremony, and it's allowed us to have a greater content in terms of the French component."

Those who took issue with the sometimes stereotypical view of Canada presented at the opening – Mounties, mountains and maple leaves, oh my! – it sounds as though the closing could take a light-hearted approach to some of the same material.

"We will probably poke a bit of fun at ourselves, you will probably come away from the ceremonies knowing a bit more about us than you did if you're not from Canada, and we will probably bust a few Canadian myths," Furlong predicted.

However, there will still be some proper Olympic protocol to interrupt the party.

The athletes will march in, though in an informal fashion this time, the national anthem of Greece will be played, the flame will be extinguished and the Olympic flag will be handed over. Organizers of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi will also have the chance to make a presentation.

For the athletes, there's no question which ceremony is more fun.

"The closing ceremonies - I've been to four of them, this will be my fifth - it's just celebration," said six-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes earlier this week.

"Everyone's done. I've been lucky that every Olympics I've gone to, I've felt that I have brought my best, so it's been pure celebration and joy. It's always a good time."

– With files from Stephanie Levitz in Vancouver.

Source: thestar.com

Wale Dealing With His Double-Edged Sword

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(February 28, 2010) The name of Wale's debut disc could not be more appropriate.

Titled Attention Deficit for the Washington, D.C. rapper's assertion that "the consumer is really stingy with their attention span," the disc has been lauded by critics for his inventive rhymes and catchy music, but has sold less than 100,000 copies. Consequently, the emcee lags behind in last year's batch of hip-hop freshmen, behind Kid Cudi and Drake (who has yet to drop a studio album).

Here last fall opening for Jay-Z, Wale, the youngest of two sons of Nigerian immigrants, returns to Toronto for a club gig at Tattoo Rock Parlour on Tuesday, ahead of a tour with K'Naan which kicks off in New York March 31.

The Star chatted with Wale (pronounced Wah-lay) by phone from Winnipeg.

Q: How did you connect with Canadians K'naan and Melanie Fiona for Attention Deficit?

A: It was really just being around them. I did what a lot of people should do: go with who sounds good and who has the best vibe, over who has the biggest name. I could easily have brought in insert-super-famous-rapper here or a Mary J. Blige. It's about who I felt represented the record and my brain, and what I'm trying to do; and I felt like those two people did. I'm the biggest K'Naan fan. I've listened to the Troubadour album at least 30 times. I think it's just so unfortunate that you got guys that can really have great melodies and great songs and making incredible, monumental stadium kind of music and it gets overlooked. Melanie's young and represents where I'm going.

Q: Has the response to the album met your goals?

A: I'm kind of happy, critically, though I still think it went over a lot of people's heads. I read one review saying that it wasn't personal enough and I'm like 'Every song was directly about me.' Obviously, I wish it sold more. I think when my celebrity builds up people are going to go back and (say) 'That first album was amazing.'

Q: Is it celebrity you want or just more money?

A: It's not about a money thing, it's not even about a celebrity thing; that's my way of saying notoriety. I enjoy what I'm doing and I just want my family to be comfortable. It's always my art over me. I wish a million people did hear my album, but I wouldn't care too much for the million dollars. That would be nice, but I'm less concerned about that.

Q: Is there a downside to exposing so much of yourself in your music?

A: Sometimes, because I leave myself too susceptible to fans offending me, or people going against me. I'm really in touch with my fans and I try to give them more of me than the average artist, and sometimes it affects me a little bit; like people using things against me, or saying things about me. It could be someone I just gave free tickets to and two months later I don't respond to his Twitter and he's mad.

Q: That's the double-edged sword of celebrity; imagine if you actually sell a million copies.

A: Exactly!

Tom ‘T-Bone' Wolk, Long-Time Bass Player For Hall & Oates, Dies

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Associated Press

(March 2, 2010) Los Angeles — Tom “T-Bone” Wolk, who performed with scores of musicians but was best known as the long-time bass player for the band led by pop-rock stars Daryl Hall and John Oates, has died. He was 58.

Wolk died Sunday in New York, hours after completing a recording session with Hall, who was working on a solo album, the duo's manager, Jonathan Wolfson, said Monday. Wolfson said the cause of death was believed to be a heart attack.

Wolk had been scheduled to appear Monday night on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon with Hall and Oates.

A busy session musician, he appeared on literally scores of recordings with such varied artists as Bette Midler, Billy Joel and Avril Lavigne. He played bass on several of Elvis Costello's recordings, accordion on Robert Palmer's Heavy Nova and guitar on Carly Simon's Coming Around Again.

He was also the bass player in NBC's Saturday Night Live house band from 1986 to 1992 when it was led by guitarist G.E. Smith.

On his website, Wolk described himself as “that guy with the hat” who people had seen performing with Hall & Oates since 1981. In later years he also became the band's music director.

“Daryl used to refer to him as the ampersand in Hall & Oates,” said Wolfson, adding both members of the duo were crushed by the loss.

“It's not if I will go on, but how,” Hall said in a statement posted on the Hall & Oates website. “T-Bone was one of the most sensitive and good human beings that I have ever known.”

Oates called him “peerless.”

“Any instrument that he touched resonated with a sensitivity and skill level that I have never experienced while playing with any other musician,” Oates said. “He possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of styles and musical history which he referenced to support all the artists that he played with over the years.

“He became our band's musical director over time, leading by example and by the deference and respect that everyone who played alongside him so rightfully accorded him. He made everyone he played with better.”

Wolk grew up in the New York suburb of Yonkers. His family played the accordion, he told Guitar Digest in 2003, and he won a statewide championship on the instrument at age 12.

But it was seeing the Beatles perform on television's Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, he said, that led him to talk his father into buying him an electric guitar.

He studied art briefly after graduating high school, then turned his full attention to music.

Wolfson said information on funeral arrangements and survivors was pending.

Four Hundred Pounds Of Hurtin’ Love

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(March 3, 2010) I’m six-feet-two, 400 pounds, of a man that’s full of love,” sang the mountainous Matt Andersen, last weekend at Glenn Gould Studio. “I might look like a guy on the Ten Most Wanted, but you know I’m nothing to be scared of.”

On the jaunty, forthright parlour blues of One Size Never Fits All, the New Brunswick strongman was gay about his girth, believing that a woman can never have enough of him. “I’ll do more for you than those other guys could,” he pledges heartily, “I’m gonna love you pound for pound.”

Andersen, a gust of fresh air on the blues and folk scene who returns to Glenn Gould on Monday, wryly described the tune as the closest thing he has to a protest song. True enough, his set featured no agitated music – what he does is rootsy singer-songwriter fare, towering acoustic soul, and three-chord blues that are finger-picked mostly, but sometimes thumped and other times played with a glass slide.

His songwriting is nothing spectacular, so he enlivens the material with big-hearted vocals, mischievous guitar virtuosity and a firm understanding of dynamics. He’s a one-man show, sure thing.

Andersen’s cover of Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine was an eclipse in itself – his sorrow so profound as to black out the theatre.

Squeezed in among in his 200 or so dates a year, the young artist recently won a trophy and applause at the annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis. You see, Andersen, the most thrilling thing in Canadian blues since Jeff Healey, is not only big – he’s a big deal. Brad Wheeler

Matt Andersen, with Calgary singer-songwriter Wil as guest, plays Glenn Gould Studio, March 8 (8 p.m. $29.50, 250 Front St. W., 416-872-4255).

Other dates: March 10, Studio Theatre, Hamilton; March 11, Sean O’ Sulllivan Theatre, St. Catharines, Ont.; March 12, Gibson Cultural Centre, Alliston, Ont.

A Doubtful Muse Delivers Big Tunes

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

Mountain Tiger Wolf
Drip Audio/Fontana North

(March 3, 2010)  This cracking good album from Vancouver’s Bradley Ferguson opens with a song that feels like alternating audio snapshots from two different phases of the same relationship. The first is blurred and kind of sweaty, crowded with dirty guitar and machine-gun beats and a guy’s obsession with the person he can’t stop thinking about. The second is brutally clear, just the lightest of strummed guitar chords and a few touches on xylophone to frame a man lying broken on the rocks of love and barely able to sing: “When she calls out my name, all she feels is shame.” Somehow, you get the feeling he thinks he deserves nothing better.

Asking whether you’re worthy, while suspecting you’re probably not, is one of disc’s dominant themes. Your Money is a pushy electro-rock number bristling with attitude, but it’s really about a guy trying to prove he’s kicking the unhealthy dependencies that have made others write him off. Padma breaks from its woolly rock verses into a waltzing chorus that gently insists: “You want to, but you know you can’t.” Daylight’s Finally Night gives an awestruck account of a woman who “says she sees all the good in me,” which in this context sounds frankly incredible.

All these doubts come out in songs that couldn’t be more freshly conceived or confidently brought off. Bradley’s musical outlook encompasses the craft-conscious ethos of an old-school songwriter, the playground mentality of someone who likes to mess with synthesizers, and the tear-it-up sensibility of an unreconstructed punk. You may have already heard some of his music on television shows such as The L Word.

Black Shirt must be the most radio-ready thing ever recorded by Drip Audio, a small Vancouver label that mostly specializes in albums of free-range improvisation. The heavy two-chord verses open into a striding loose-limbed chorus that seems guaranteed to get the club jumping.

The disc’s latter half spans the extremes of the dance number Hit the Floor, the most brittle electronic thing on the album, and the extended self-medicating Lullaby, an acoustic number that tinkles directly out of Hit the Floor. I’m not so keen on the chordal ballad Little Voice or the folkish Broken, both of which feel a bit dull and conventional. Bradley is at his best when he’s not tethered to any genre.

Bradley plays the Media Club in Vancouver on March 4, Lydia’s in Saskatoon on March 11 and Broken City in Calgary on March 18. For more dates and streaming tracks, check myspace.com/bradleyonmyspace.

Herbie Hancock Celebration Part of NYC Jazz Festival

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 2, 2010) *Herbie Hancock will be honored at a belated 70th birthday party at Carnegie Hall this spring that will double as the revival of a major summer jazz festival in the Big Apple.

The pianist, who turns 70 on April 12, will be joined by comedian Bill Cosby, saxophonist Joe Lovano, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Hancock’s bandmate in Miles Davis’ famed 1960s quintet, with more guests to be announced.

The June 24 concert, “Herbie Hancock, Seven Decades: The Birthday Celebration,” will benefit The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

“That will be a very exciting night — perhaps one of the unique nights in the history of the festival with a lot of people coming just to salute Herbie,” the festival’s producer, George Wein, told the Associated Press Friday.

The concert will be followed by a festival first — an old-time midnight jam session paying tribute to Hancock — at the City Winery nightclub.

The CareFusion Jazz Festival will run from June 17 to 26 with some 45 concerts at 20 venues, including concert halls, parks, museums and libraries in four boroughs. Carnegie Hall will be the site of three other high-profile concerts featuring trumpeter Chris Botti, Brazilian bossa nova maestro Joao Gilberto, and the trio of pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette.

There will also be several free outdoor concerts, with Latin jazz star Eddie Palmieri performing in a Bronx park and pianist McCoy Tyner’s quartet featuring saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and the Stanley Clarke Band with Japanese pianist Hiromi playing at Central Park’s SummerStage.

The festival is paying the musicians and letting the clubs collect the gate, asking only that ticket prices be kept at a recession-friendly $15 for most events.

“It’s helping the clubs and the musicians,” said Wein. “Its our own stimulus program.”


Maxwell, Jill Scott Team For Spring Tour

Source: www.eurweb.com

(February 26, 2010) *Grammy Award winning superstars
Maxwell and Jill Scott will join forces for a 20-city arena tour that launches May 21 in Cleveland and will wind across the U.S. through June. Maxwell will continue to promote his platinum album “BLACKsummers’night,’ while Scott will be performing hits spanning her 10 year career. The tour is being produced nationally by Live Nation. Tickets go on sale in select cities at LiveNation.com http://www.livenation.com/artist/maxwell-tickets or http://www.livenation.com/artist/jill-scott-tickets Details on dates, venues and on-sale information will be announced shortly for tour stops in Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York.

Peas Reach Chart Milestone With Imma Be

Source: www.eurweb.com

(February 26, 2010) *The
Black Eyed Peas have become the first duo or group in 19 years to score three Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles from one album, as “Imma Be,” from the act’s “The E.N.D.,” moves 3-1 this week. The quartet held a record-setting 26 successive weeks at No. 1 last year when “Boom Boom Pow” (12 weeks) was followed by “I Gotta Feeling” (14 weeks) atop the chart. The Peas’ third single from “The E.N.D.,” “Meet Me Halfway” peaked at No. 7 in November. BEP unseats Wilson Phillips, the last duo or group to score three No. 1s from an album, when its self-titled debut spawned “Hold On,” “Release Me” and “You’re In Love” in 1990-91. After nine weeks at No. 1, Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK” tumbles to No. 2, one week shy of matching Debby Boone’s 1977 hit “You Light Up My Life” for most weeks at No. 1 by a female’s debut single. Young Money’s “BedRock” rises a spot 4-3, as does Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” (5-4). Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Know” returns to the top five with a 6-5 upswing. After debuting at No. 2 last week, “We Are The World 25: For Haiti” by Artists for Haiti slips 2-6, though it holds at No. 1 on Hot Digital Sales for a second week. After moving 267,000 downloads in just over two days of sales last tracking period, the title sells 208,000 in its first full week of digital availability. The next three titles in the Hot 100 top 10 all remain in place; Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” (#7), Ludacris’ “How Low” (#8) and Jason Derulo’s “In My Head” (#9). Trey Songz reaches the Hot 100 top 10 for the first time with his lucky 13th charting title, “Say Aah” (12-10). And Rihanna takes dual Airplay and Digital Gainer awards as “Rude Boy” rockets 64-23.


One World One Love: Michael Bolton

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(Universal Motown)
(out of 4)

(March 02, 2010) It's been 17 years since
Michael Bolton rated a Top 10 slot on Billboard's singles or album charts, but on his 18th the voice of this American balladeer, who has sold more than 50 million records, is as raspy and beseeching as you remember. Though he paired up with young producers and co-writers – Ne-Yo, Canadian Nasri Atweh and Lady Gaga – whether hip-hop or electro undertones, the result is mature message pop. The feel-good theme is exemplified by "Just One Love" – "We can learn from each other/ If we just find that one love." There are also a couple of good covers: a pulsing Latin remake of Terence Trent Darby's "Sign Your Name" and a subdued take on Van Morrison's "Crazy Love." An easy-listening vibe from a vocalist coming to Casino Rama April 1. Top Track: Unexpected, but authentic, roots-reggae ballad "Ready For You."

Badu to Perform ‘Window Seat’ Tonight on Fallon

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 2, 2010) *Erykah Badu will kick off a run of TV appearances tonight on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” with a performance of “Window Seat,” the lead single from her forthcoming album “New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh,” due March 30 from Universal Motown. [Listen to "Window Seat" below.] The singer is also booked for “The Wendy Williams Show” (March 25), “Good Day New York” (March 26), “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (March 30), “The Wanda Sykes Show” (April 3), “Chelsea Lately” (April 5), and “The Mo’Nique Show” (TBA). “Window Seat” was co-produced by Badu and features James Poyser on keys and Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson from The Roots on drums. Speaking of The Roots, which moonlights as Fallon’s house band, the group’s third-annual Roots Picnic featuring headliner Vampire Weekend is set for June 5 at Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing pier.


Smooth & Sexy Sade Covers April Ebony

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 2, 2010) *Ebony magazine has landed the sizzling hot
Sade for April, 2010 cover and feature story.  The reclusive singer who’s topping the charts with her first recording project in 10 years, “Soldier of Love,” gave Ebony a peek at what goes on in her world.  “I’ve had my ups and downs in the years between these albums, said Sade. “That’s partly why I’m able to write songs that people in some way can hear. I express feelings, real feelings.”  Look for the April issue on newsstands March 9.


Sarah Polley Pulls Name Off Heart Film

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Gayle MacDonald

(March 2, 2010) Five days before her short film promoting better heart health was set to air during the Oscars, Toronto director/actor
Sarah Polley has pulled her name off the two-minute feature.

In a tersely worded press release issued Tuesday, Polley said she removed her name from the credits of the film - titled simply The Heart, and made to support The Heart and Stroke Foundation - after she learned her work will also promote “a product” when it airs during the award’s show ceremony, seen by hundreds of millions around the world.

The film was commissioned by Becel (the "love your heart" margarine brand from Unilever) to inspire women to take better care of that particular vital organ.

The margarine also sponsors the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s healthy living campaign. A spokesperson for Unilever was not immediately available for comment.

On Tuesday, Polley said in the press release she’s “never actively promoted any corporate brand, and cannot do so now.” The Academy Awards air March 7 on CTV.

"I was thrilled, as I was proud to be associated with the work of this incredible organization [The Heart & Stroke Foundation]," said Polley, who was nominated for an Oscar for her adapted screenplay for Away From Her, a film she also directed.

"However, I have since learned that my film is also being used to promote a product. Regretfully, I am forced to remove my name from the film and disassociate myself from it."

Polley was joined in making the film by the same production team who worked on Away from Her, including Toronto’s Jennifer Weiss (Chloe) and Simone Urdl (Sabah).

The short film stars Sarah Manninen (The Line) and Jean-Michel Le Gal (Shanti Baba Ram and The Dancers of Hope). It follows a woman through phases of her life and explores the chambers of her heart. The film is meant to shed light on Heart Month (February) in North America.  

A Bronzed Aussie God, And A Gentleman

Source: www.globeandmail.com - R.M. Vaughan

(February 28, 2010) If you were watching television in the spring of 1983, you were very likely watching the torrid, and torrentially popular, miniseries The Thorn Birds. And no matter what your predilections, you could not have helped being impressed by the often-shirtless presence of Australian actor Bryan Brown.

Tall, athletic, and blessed with a crooked grin, Brown introduced world audiences to the “bronzed god” stereotype of Australian masculinity.

A quarter-century later, Brown has still got it, and is as bronzed as ever. In his latest film, the Australian psychological-thriller-cum-road-trip Cactus (opening next week), Brown makes the surly-muscle-boy leads look about as tough as Justin Bieber. A cross between No Country for Old Men and a Jason Statham flick, Cactus is one long pan across the scratchy Australian outback, a landscape awash in tumbleweed and testosterone.

Of course, Brown has been very busy since his half-naked-on-a-clam-shell Thorn Birds debut: starring opposite Tom Cruise in Cocktail; Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist; Peter O’Toole in the underrated Dean Spanley; Nicole Kidman (and Brown’s obvious filmic heir, Hugh Jackman) in Australia; and more than 50 Australian and international films and television shows, many of which Brown produced.

Chatting with him, I hoped to provoke him to say something Crocodile Dundee-ish, like “squiz”, “troppo” or at least “Crikey!” But no luck. He’s the Sean Conneryof the Antipodes, a gentleman under the burlap.

The way Australia is shot in this film won’t help tourism. The outback looks awfully bleak.

You mean isolated? It’s a pretty big country, you know. I think isolation is a big part of what a country like Australia offers. Now, whether that’s offered as a challenge, well, something’s only good, bad or indifferent depending on how you make it. But a big country, you can get lost in it. You know that, you come from one too.

You are often cast as grumpy authority figures. For good reason?

I couldn’t answer that. You’d have to ask people that know me. Ha! The truth of the matter, though, is if you look at my characters I don’t think you can say that. They are often characters who don’t like authority, who don’t necessarily agree with authority. Now, whether that makes them grumpy, or just stubborn. …

But you do play cops and military men a lot.

Yeah, well. … I’m trying to think how often I’ve played a cop, truthfully. … I think probably you’re right in thinking that, but I always wonder where it comes from, because I’m not exactly sure that my characters absolutely present that. But they are characters who get on with life.

You have kept a career in the United States and in Australia, unlike some Australian actors who, once they make it in Hollywood, never go back.

I like telling Australian stories. I get much more fun out of them. I’ve been around a while, and when the resurgence of the Australian film industry happened in the sixties and seventies, I was one of those people who was, luckily, involved in that. I was there before there was an industry, when we didn’t tell our own stories and you never saw an Australian character on screen. The excitement to play an Australian on screen has never left me.

You’re one of the executive producers of Cactus. Did you cast yourself, and what perks were in your contract?

Um, Ha! Not a lot of perks, let me tell yah. I do produce films, and have for about 30 years, and as an actor I like seeing stories that I think are good and try to make them. With this one, the director [Jasmine Yuen Carrucan] asked me to play the cop. I liked the cop, but I asked her, “How much money have you got?” She only had a few grand. I said, “Look, you’ve got something here. I think you’d do yourself a favour by trying to get as much money as you can.”

So, no white scented candles in your trailer?

What trailer?

Your character makes a choice at the end of the film that I found puzzling, in the good way. Without spoiling anything, can you talk about that choice?

Well, my character says something at the beginning of the film: This land is his territory, and don’t mess up in it. And that has a lot to do with the ending.

Here’s the difficulty: Some people say, “I wanted to know who it was who did this, for these reasons.” And what we say is that [those questions] are what will either not satisfy people, or make the film fresh. I think a lot of people will come up with theories.

After so many movies, is there anything you have not done in a film that you would really like to do?

Surf. But it would have to be a very good day, with a lovely wave. And they would have to give me a lot of time to get a great wave and ride it well. But they’ll probably just shoot one where I absolutely mess up, and that will go in the movie.  

The Messenger: Bad News Bearers Bring The Iraq War Home

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

The Messenger
(out of four)
Starring Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Samantha Morton. Directed by Oren Moverman. 105 minutes. At Cumberland 4. 14A

(February 26, 2010) A mother stifles a cry, tears choking her words. A father falls to the ground, seized with shock. A wife holds a hand over her mouth, already knowing what the men at the door have come to tell her.

These are scenes from
The Messenger, a masterful drama about the bringing of bad news and the toll it takes on both bearer and receiver. The film is premised on the verbal communication of urgent information, yet its many non-verbal moments provide the greatest strength and clarity.

This feature directing debut by I'm Not There co-scripter Oren Moverman plays in many ways like a stateside version of The Hurt Locker, sharing that film's taciturn stoicism, but it deals with explosions of the emotional kind.

It follows members of the U.S. Army's Casualty Notification Office, whose grim task is to immediately notify next-of-kin of battlefield casualties in Iraq, before the news media and Internet can broadcast the bad news.

Reactions from next-of-kin – NOK in army jargon – range from simple tears to threats of physical harm, but these messengers of gloom cannot flinch or depart from protocol.

They are required to maintain the highest standards of military dress and decorum at all times.

They must not vary the details of their well-rehearsed message, except to change the name of the deceased and the time and place of death.

They must not allow their own emotions to show, even by offering a consoling hug.

Few volunteer for the assignment, especially not walking wounded like Staff Sgt. Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), who recently returned from Iraq carrying baggage both physical and emotional.

He was heroic in battle, an exemplary soldier, but now he's back home dealing with shrapnel wounds, post-traumatic stress and a ruined home life. His girlfriend (Jena Malone) got engaged to someone else during his absence.

Montgomery isn't the kind of guy you'd expect to be delivering sensitive news to fragile people, but army logic often works in reverse. He's paired with Capt. Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), a veteran of the notification office who long ago learned to separate his job from his life – although the alcoholism problem he's fighting suggests otherwise.

Moverman, who also co-wrote the script (with Alessandro Camon) might have taken the standard view of this arrangement. This would have involved dwelling upon the differences between the brash Montgomery, who distrusts army rules, and the granite-hard Stone, who works strictly by Uncle Sam's playbook (but he plays more in tune with Hugh Hefner's).

And to be sure, the differences between the two men are plainly in view, as in a scene where Montgomery runs into a dead soldier's parents in a shop and impulsively breaches protocol – and incurs Stone's wrath – with his spontaneous sharing of heartache.

But the film's real message comes through in moments of silence: in the long rides between homes, in the contained grief of the bereaved or just several beers past debate. The two men have more in common than they knew, and it begins with loneliness.

Montgomery tries to address that problem with yet another rule breach: he seeks the comforts of a soldier's widow (Samantha Morton), the mother of young son who is still too much in pain to know where her heart is.

The Messenger has an unspoken line on the Iraq War. This isn't a conflict like World War II, where at least the bereaved had the comfort of knowing their sons died for a noble cause.

The Iraq mission is more about politics than peace, and selling its bloody result to a disenfranchised American populace is no easy task. (The Messenger could just as easily have been set in the era of the Vietnam War, another conflict lacking popular support.)

Speaking of tough sells, it's a sad fact that The Messenger isn't getting more attention this awards season because any film remotely connected with Iraq is doomed to small audiences.

That's another thing it has in common with The Hurt Locker, an expected Best Picture winner with vastly more kudos than cash on its balance sheet.

The Messenger does have two Oscar nominations, for its screenplay and for Harrelson's bravura performance. But it's missing a least three other nods: for Best Picture, and for the acting by Foster and Morton.

Foster, best known as one of villains of 3:10 to Yuma, is a study in repressed anger. He says more in a single look than a dozen pages of script could convey. His acclaim is just beginning.

Morton, an asset to any movie she's in, personifies the interior disarray of a woman forced to contemplate a new life even as she mourns the one suddenly taken from her. If there were awards given for brave choices, she'd be in line: she gained pounds and dimmed her usual lustre for this unflattering but essential performance.

The Messenger is a movie of which much can be said, yet which succeeds so admirably with the fewest of words. 

The Envelope Please: Who Will Win, Who Deserves to Win, Who Was Snubbed

Source: Kam Williams

(February 28, 2010) Although Avatar and The Hurt Locker landed 9 Academy Award nominations each, I foresee the former and director James Cameron enjoying a clean sweep. Breaking all box-office records, Avatar is a juggernaut that nobody will be able to stop on Oscar night. This means that The Hurt Locker, which was directed by Cameron’s ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, might very well be shut out entirely, unless the Academy decides to split their votes between the two in the Best Director and Best Picture categories. 

The most hotly-contested of the major categories is Best Actress, where the least deserving, Sandra Bullock, is the sentimental favourite. However, I anticipate that perennial-nominee Meryl Streep (16) will prevail in the most difficult contest to handicap. That’s not the case for the other three acting categories where nominees Jeff Bridges, Christoph waltz and Mo’Nique may as well be making room on the their mantels for a new trophy.     

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards, co-hosted by Alec Baldwin, are set to be broadcast on Sunday, March 7th from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood .

Without further adieu, allow me to predict the winner in each category. I also indicate which among the nominees, in my humble opinion, is actually the most deserving. And because so many great movies and performances are invariably overlooked, I also recognize several among the snubbed which were certainly worthy of Oscar consideration.

Best Picture
Will Win: Avatar
While some say Avatar is only a slight favourite over The Hurt Locker, common sense says a flick which made over billion dollars is a shoo-in.
Deserves to Win: Precious
Overlooked: Taken, Drag Me to Hell and My Sister’s Keeper.
Best Director
Will Win: James Cameron (Avatar)
Since this category is ordinary coupled with Best Picture that makes James Cameron this critic’s, although the oddsmakers have installed his ex, Kathryn Bigelow as a slight favourite for The Hurt Locker.  
Deserves to Win: Lee Daniels (Precious)
Overlooked: Pierre Morel (Taken), My Sister’s Keeper (Nick Cassavetes) and Sam Raimi (Drag Me to Hell)
Best Actor
Will Win: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
This is an easy category to handicap, even though it’s not Bridges’ best performance, because the Academy is inclined to reward never-recognized actors late in their career for their body of work. 
Deserves to Win: Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Overlooked: Liam Neeson (Taken) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer)
Best Actress
Will Win: Meryl Streep
It’s great that Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) got all the early accolades, but Academy-darling Streep’s delightful impersonation of Julia Child is apt to prove irresistible when it comes time to cast ballots.
Deserves to Win: Gabby Sidibe (Precious) will be ignored because she’s a newcomer, despite being absolutely mesmerizing in her acting debut.
Overlooked: Tilda Swinton (Julia), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Two Lovers) and Zoeey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer)
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Not much competition here for Waltz’s nonpareil performance, other than Woody Harrleson (The Messenger) who will run a distant second.   
Deserves to Win: Christoph Waltz
Overlooked: Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Mo’Nique (Precious)
I said, “Just give Mo’Nique the Oscar!” the same day I saw Precious back in October, and nothing I’ve seen since has made me regret making that premature call.   
Deserves to Win: Mo’Nique (Precious)
Overlooked: Cameron Diaz (My Sister’s Keeper) and Famke Janssen (Taken).
Predictions in Secondary Categories
Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air)
Animated Feature: Up
Art Direction: Avatar
Cinematography: Avatar
Costume Design: Nine
Documentary Feature: The Cove
Film Editing: Avatar 
Makeup: Star Trek
Original Score: Avatar
Original Song: Crazy Heart (“The Weary Kid”)
Sound Editing: Avatar
Sound Mixing: Avatar
Visual Effects: Avatar
Note: I only passed on four categories: Foreign Language Film (which I have an abysmal history f handicapping) and the three short categories: Live-Action, Animated and Documentary.

Film Wizard's No Homophobe

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Kuchwara

(February 28, 2010) NEW YORK – Daniel Radcliffe is explaining why he has just filmed a public service announcement for The Trevor Project, the leading organization focusing on suicide prevention efforts among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth.

Because his parents were both actors, "I grew up knowing a lot of gay men and it was never something that I even thought twice about – that some men were gay and some weren't," the Harry Potter megastar said Friday.

"And then I went to school and (for) the first time . . . I came across homophobia. . . . I had never encountered it before. It shocked me.

"I have always hated anybody who is not tolerant of gay men or lesbians or bisexuals," he added. "Now I am in the very fortunate position where I can actually help or do something about it."

The result is a PSA that was filmed Friday at the organization's Wall Street offices. The announcement is scheduled to air sometime this spring.

Radcliffe first became aware of The Trevor Project, founded in 1998 by three filmmakers, while he was appearing on Broadway in the 2008 revival of Equus. Their movie, Trevor, which won an Academy Award for best short film, concerned a gay teen who attempts suicide. The Trevor Project allows young people to call in for counselling or just to talk.

"I have described myself as being 'gently eccentric' and slightly different as a person just because I've had a very different set of influences growing up than anybody else in my peer group did," the 20-year-old Radcliffe said. "I've always felt very lucky to have the life that I've had. I never had to cope with anything serious about my religion or sexual orientation or anything like that.

"I think it's important for somebody from a big, commercial movie series like Harry Potter and particularly because I am not gay or bisexual or transgendered. . . . The fact that I am straight makes not a difference, but it shows that straight people are incredibly interested and care a lot about this as well."

On the Net: www.thetrevorproject.org

Wesley Snipes : The “ Brooklyn ’s Finest” Interview with Kam Williams

Source: Kam Williams

Born in Orlando on July 31, 1962 to Marian, a teacher’s aide, and Wesley, Sr., and an aircraft engineer,
Wesley Trent Snipes was raised in the South Bronx, although the family moved back to Florida before he was able to graduate from NYC’s famed, Fiorello La Guardia High School of Music and Art. Still, Wesley went on to study drama in college at SUNY Purchase’s prestigious acting conservatory.

However, he dropped out during his junior year to pursue his passion professionally. In Hollywood , the versatile thespian’s stage and Shotokan karate training came in handy in helping him land a variety of roles. The accomplished actor/black belt’s long list of credits on his enviable resume’ include the Blade Trilogy, Jungle Fever, White Men Can’t Jump, U.S. Marshals, Waiting to Exhale, Mo’ Better Blues, New Jack City, Murder at 1600, The Fan, Demolition Man, Passenger 57, To Wong Foo and The Art of War.

Wesley’s many accolades include a couple of NAACP Image Awards and making People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in the World List. And he and his second wife, artist Nikki Park, are raising their four children both in the U.S. and South Korea . Here, he talks about his latest film, Brooklyn’s Finest, a gritty, NYC crime saga, directed by Antoine Fuqua, which co-stars Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Ellen Barkin, Lela Rochon, Will Patton and Vincent D’Onofrio.

Kam Williams: Hey, Wesley, thanks for the time. We met last year in New York when you were receiving an award at the Jacob Javits Center .

Wesley Snipes: Oh yes, wonderful.

KW: Laz Lyles asks, what drew you to Brooklyn’s Finest’s script, especially with the screenwriter [Michael C. Martin] being a first-timer?

WS: Well, it wasn’t as much the script, as it was working with this cast and with Antoine Fuqua. So, I’d have to say that the idea of working with them motivated me more so than the script.

KW: Why so?

WS: I wanted to work with the ensemble of great actors that Antoine Fuqua had assembled. He and I had talked about doing a film together maybe about three or for years prior to actually working on this one. We were trying to find the right project. He was working on other things. I was working on other things, and was out of the country. Then there was a window if opportunity, and he said, “Wes, I want you to play this.” I had some reservations, because of that Nino Brown reference [the character he played in New Jack City ]. But he basically explained to me, “that’s part of the reason I want you to do this. The characters have some overtones of that old Nino’s type of lifestyle.” When he told me that Don [Cheadle] would be playing the other character, and who else would be in the cast, I was like, “Well, let’s do this!” [Chuckles]

KW: Richard Gere… Ethan Hawke… Ellen Barkin...

WS: It’s always great when you can work with an ensemble of very, very talented people. And Ellen and I had worked on The Fan together.

KW: Don’t you sometimes have a clash of egos, when you have so many stars on the same set?

WS: I didn’t experience that. I actually love the ensemble environment. That’s what I come from, the so called “bus and truck” repertory theatre. So, you put me in with a group of artists, and it’s like a breakdance battle. “Let’s go!”

KW: I know that your family moved back to Florida while you were attending a prestigious acting academy in NYC. How did you prevent that disruption from spoiling your dreams?

WS: After I finished high school, the first chance I got, I caught a Greyhound bus back to New York where I ended up being accepted to a program in drama at the State University at Purchase.

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls says that from The Waterdance to Blade you have handled many different roles. She wants to know which one is your all-time favourite?

WS: That is.

KW:  Jimmy Bayan asks where in L.A. do you live?

WS: [LOL] What, does he want to come over for dinner? I’m a universal man, but tell Jimmy I’m back and forth between the East and West Coasts a lot.

KW: Documentary director Hisani Dubose is interested in knowing how you positioned yourself to play Blade, the first high-impact, black superhero. She said she knows that your company, Amen-Ra, co-produced it, but it still must have been a major task.

WS: It was challenging. It was one of our firsts, and it was early on in the game. I had an inkling that it was something that hadn’t been done before, and some of my management at the time didn’t approve of the idea. They actually told me I shouldn’t do it. But I reflected on the fact that we had never seen a film like that before, not just a black superhero, but a black, vampire superhero who fights martial arts. I thought, “We gotta try this, even if just for the fellas around the way.”

KW: Larry Greenberg, says, after I receive my black belt in Kempo, I am considering looking at another martial art form. Which one would you recommend?

WS: Shu-to Kwon Do. [Laughs] No, that’s a joke. I would recommend, Yoga.

KW: Yale Grad Tommy Russell asks: "Do you think Obama will be able to resuscitate the healthcare reform bill?”

WS: Resuscitate it? Doesn’t something have to be alive first to resuscitate it?

KW: Tony Noel asks, as a martial artist, who do you see as the next generation of martial arts actors coming into prominence?

WS: That’s a difficult question. It’s hard to tell because a lot of martial artists aren’t strong actors, and a lot of actors aren’t strong martial artists. But we hope to be able to produce some of them through our company in the near future.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would? WS: Nothing that comes to mind.

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

WS: Yeah!

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

WS: I am full and well.

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

WS: [LOL] Yesterday.

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

WS: ”From Fatigued to Fantastic” by Jacob Teitelbaum.


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

WS: The Larry Levan Story, the whole series.


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

WS: A beautiful expression of God having a wonderful human experience.

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

WS: Grits and eggs. [Chuckles]

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

WS: [Whistles] Oh man… Playing with my babysitter’s toes.

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

WS: Long-lasting health.

KW: Thanks again, Wesley, and best of luck with Brooklyn ’s Finest and all off your endeavours.

WS: Thank you.

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

The Maid: Catalina Saavedra Magnificent In Chilean Family Tale

Source:  www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard

The Maid
(out of four)
Starring Catalina Saavedra, Claudia Celedón and Mariana Loyola. Directed by Sebastián Silva. 95 minutes. At Canada Square. 14A

(February 26, 2010) The nature of live-in domestic Raquel's relationship with her employers is evident early
on in The Maid, when she's summoned from the kitchen to the dining room to blow out the candles on her birthday cake by the relentless tinkling of a bell.

Sullen and surly, she's worked for the upwardly mobile family in Santiago, Chile for 23 years. Now she's 41 and the bourgeois couple and their four often-bratty kids have become stand-ins for the family she never had.

Raquel knows all their secrets – and decides which ones she'll keep. She truly believes this family loves her and couldn't survive without her. The assertion fuels her martyrdom as she rises at dawn in her small basement room to wake the children and bring the couple breakfast in bed.

So when her debilitating headaches worsen, her solicitous employer Pilar (Claudia Celedón) hires a young helper to ease Raquel's burden (and their guilt). Raquel goes into furious emotional lockdown. Her little jaw set, she sets about sabotage, comically locking her replacement out of the house and pretending she can't hear her frantic knocking. A cat gets stuffed in a drawer. The next maid fares even worse.

Although she works for the entire household, it's Pilar's responsibility to keep Raquel happy. Firing her isn't an option.

Catalina Saavedra, who wasn't nominated for an Oscar to the disappointment of an international cheering section, is magnificent as the bitter Raquel, a social misfit who spends most of her time swinging between barely suppressed fury and self-pitying persecution. And she's found novel ways to use housework as a form of punishment against those she feels have wronged her.

As unlikable – and unstable – as the character is, Saavedra finds a way for the audience to care about Raquel deeply and even to root for her to come out on top with her childish evil plots.

It's not until a third maid arrives, the no-nonsense Lucy (Mariana Loyola), that Raquel sees there's a world she's missed out on and realizes that perhaps her isolation isn't her fault.

Lauded at Sundance in 2009 and a Golden Globe nominee, The Maid is shot in a documentary style, the hand-held camera sometimes claustrophobically close, peeking into showers and around doorways like a spy.

Writer-director Sebastián Silva establishes intimacy with his characters, using humour in unexpected ways while exploring a modern-day look at the Upstairs, Downstairs world of the people who run a house for those who live in it. 


Corner Gas Stars Out From Behind Butt

Source: www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(February 28, 2010) Those of us who have, comedically speaking, been running on fumes for almost a year will be relieved to hear that the pumps at Corner Gas are back up and running. Sort of.

At least, the key personnel who fuelled the late, lamented CTV sitcom are back, most significantly its star and writer/creator,
Brent Butt, in support of his top-billed actress wife, Nancy Robertson, in their newly minted mutual vehicle, Hiccups.

And also, in the follow-up Monday-night time slot – the new shows air at 8 and 8:30, respectively – former co-star and now series lead Fred Ewanuick, along with a trio of writer/producers from Corner Gas (and This Hour Has 22 Minutes), unveil their own new half-hour, Dan for Mayor.

This is, for CTV – to further belabour the obvious gas-station metaphor – the series equivalent of topping up the tank, changing the oil, checking the brakes and rotating the tires.

It remains to be seen just how well and how long the vehicles will run. Will either or both shows stall on the on-ramp, or careen out of control like a recalled Toyota?

"I hope it works out," allows Ewanuick. "It'll be great, if people get behind both shows, to have a good Canadian comedy night."

It can't hurt that the new homegrown comedy hour precedes the two top-rated CBS sitcoms, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.

But let's give credit where it is due. Though this country has proved itself more than capable of producing high-quality situation comedy, there was always reluctance by our own mass audience to embrace it in any significant numbers – certainly not in proportion to the American onslaught of prime-time network sitcoms that dominate the dial.

"I don't know why," Ewanuick shrugs. "I mean, before us, there was King of Kensington and The Beachcombers and stuff. But somehow all our talent ends up south of the border. It's like, `Sure, Canadians can do comedy.' But when we do it at home, they don't want to have anything to do with it."

Until Corner Gas. Right out of the box, the show attracted an unheard-of million-plus viewers, becoming the country's most-watched sitcom, U.S. or Canadian, by a whopping 33 per cent.

But pre-existing popularity, especially on this scale, is very much a mixed blessing. I can remember two-time loser Jason Alexander (Bob Patterson, Listen Up and now, in another sense entirely, as spokesman for diet giant Jenny Craig), addressing for the umpteenth time the so-called "Seinfeld Curse," complaining that too much or too little George Costanza in any subsequent sitcom role would equally alienate the formerly faithful.

Of the two Corner Gas grads, Robertson's task is the easiest: Hiccups' Millie Uptown, an emotionally erratic children's author, is softer, sillier, more scattered and less cynical than Wanda Dollard, and infinitely better dressed.

"Not that I've ever been a super `girlie' gal," Robertson qualifies. "If you came to my house you wouldn't find one doily. But it's nice to wear clothes that I would wear myself.

"I mean, when we wrapped Corner Gas, they asked me if I wanted to keep my wardrobe. And I'm, `Oh really? You mean I get another T-shirt?' But I never wanted Wanda to have a ton of new clothes. I always thought she should have a layer of dust on her."

In that sense, Millie is Wanda's polar opposite. "She's much more theatrical," Robertson agrees. "Which I love – I mean, I am an actor.

"There are more things, I think, that Millie can get away with, and more things she can experience. To Millie, because she's so childlike herself, everything is a new experience ... even if she's already seen it 20 times. She lives in the moment. Like a goldfish. And then she's on to the next thing."

Helping Millie navigate her crisis-crammed existence – the "hiccups" of the title – is bumbling self-proclaimed "life coach" Stan Dirko, familiar to fans as the former Brent Leroy, and to Robertson as her real-life husband, writer and co-producer Brent Butt.

Butt had not planned to play the role, or any role, himself. But CTV, quite understandably, insisted.

Behind and/or in front of the camera, Robertson is just happy to have him along for the ride. "We work really well together," she affirms. "Even before we were a couple – I mean, that's how we first got to know each other on Corner Gas. So it's an easy place to go to.

"When we're on set, I never really think of him as my husband. I actually flirt more with the crew than with him."

Good for the goose, if not so much the gander, especially when the gander is cavorting on screen with a very hot Latina screen spouse (episodic actress Paula Rivera).

"I remember coming onto the set one day, and they're in bed together," Robertson laughs. "And I'm, like, `Excuse me.' And then I thought, `Wait a minute ...'"

Fred Ewanuick's campaign for Dan for Mayor is perhaps more inherently problematic, surrounded (except in the writers' room) by unfamiliar faces, playing a character fairly far removed from the dimly adorable Hank Yarbo of Corner Gas.

"I have no way of judging (how audiences will react)," Ewanuick allows.

"I mean, hopefully we've made him likeable enough that people will want to get on board.

"He is completely ... well, I wouldn't say opposite to Hank. I mean, there are similarities. They're both pretty honest guys. He's the same kind of character. They're both guys that you want to see do well."

Which in affable bartender Dan Phillips' case means winning over the voters of fictional small-town Wessex, Ont. (exteriors Kitchener, interiors Toronto).

"He seriously thinks he can be mayor," Ewanuick says. And in 13 weeks, we'll find out if he's right.

"Actually, we don't know," the actor acknowledges. "All 13 (first-season episodes) have been shot, but the way we wrote the last script ... well, all I can say is that there's an election.

"If the show is a success, and we do a second season, I guess we would have to have him actually become mayor. Or go on to something else."

Dan for Premier? Perhaps even Prime Minister?

"I'd be into that," Ewanuick enthuses.

"That would be awesome."

Marie Osmond Devastated Following Death Of Son, 18

Source: www.thestar.com

(February 28, 2010) LOS ANGELES–Marie Osmond confirmed Saturday that her 18-year-old son, Michael Blosil, is dead.

The entertainer said in a statement that her family is devastated by the "tragic loss." She did not provide details on the death.

However, the TV show Entertainment Tonight reported on its website that Blosil jumped to his death Friday night from a downtown Los Angeles apartment building.

Officers responded to an apparent suicide jump in the area, but the victim had not been identified Saturday, Los Angeles police officer Gregory Baek said.

"My family and I are devastated and in deep shock by the tragic loss of our dear Michael and ask that everyone respect our privacy during this difficult time," Osmond said in the statement.

Blosil reportedly left a note that referred to a lifelong battle with depression.

In 2007, Osmond said Blosil was treated at a rehabilitation facility, but she didn't disclose the nature of his problem.

Donny Osmond, Blosil's uncle, told Entertainment Tonight: ``Please pray for my sister and her family.''

Blosil is one of Osmond's five adopted children. She also has three children from two marriages. She divorced Brian Blosil in 2007 after two decades of marriage. She and first husband Stephen Craig divorced in 1985.

Osmond starred with her brother on television's Donny and Marie Show during the 1970s. More recently, she appeared on Dancing With the Stars, and is currently performing with Donny in Las Vegas.

'It Has To Be The Most Authentic Cop Series Going’

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner

(March 1, 2010) It’s hard to think of a new Canadian TV series that has generated as much preliminary buzz as CTV’s
The Bridge.

Billed as a hard-hitting take on life inside a major urban police force, it comes with an impressive creative pedigree, including lead actor Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica), five-time Gemini Award-winning writer Alan Di Fiore (Da Vinci’s Inquest) and producer Laszlo Barna.

But everyone associated with the production –- it premieres with a two-hour pilot on Friday night and continues for another 11 episodes – knows that its soul belongs to former Toronto police officer Craig Bromell, who is executive producer for the series.

The key thing is it has to be real – every little detail. You have to really believe that you’re with the cops out there. — Craig Bromell

A constant thorn in the side of the force’s leadership, Bromell led a brief wildcat strike in 1995, protesting a decision to charge two constables with mistreating black citizens. Later, as president of the 7,500-man Toronto police union (1997-2003), he spearheaded a campaign to tackle crime and corruption – not just on the street, but inside higher command. He became a powerful and polarizing figure, adored by much of the rank-and-file, feared and detested by many senior officers and local politicians.

It’s that internecine element Bromell and his team are trying to inject into the popular, but crowded, genre of cop drama. The show’s central character, Frank Leo (Douglas), is largely based on Bromell. The title comes from the actual bridge that separates the verdant lawns of Toronto’s upper-crust Rosedale neighbourhood from its hard-core crime zones south of Bloor Street – an area Bromell patrolled for part of his 26 years on the force.In the series, the physical bridge becomes a metaphor for other dualities, including the gulf separating commanding officers from the rank and file.

 “Few institutions are as political as a major metropolitan police force,” says Bromell. “Cops hate drug dealers, that’s true. But they hate brass even more. The tough part of the job is inside the building. And it’s the same everywhere.”

As a TV project, The Bridge was born shortly after Bromell left the police force in 2003. He made a segue into radio, hosting a talk-show on Toronto radio station AM640 (where he still serves as a part-time consultant on police issues).

One day, at his favourite watering hole, Toronto’s upscale Bistro 990 – “all of my important union decisions were made there, over fish,” says Bromell – he met TV producer Adam Shully (Blood Ties, Odyssey 5). Both thought the Bromell story had series potential and took the concept initially to Barna and, with him, to CHUM, which commissioned 10 episodes. When CTV acquired CHUM in 2006, the project was temporarily shelved, but later revived. CTV ordered a two-hour pilot, shot in the summer of 2008. Later, they ordered the rest of the series and sold it to CBS. The U.S. network has yet to announce an American launch date.

“It’s actually better that we had that delay,” Bromell explained in an interview on the set. “It needed more time. And it gave us a chance to get Alan Di Fiore on board. The key thing is it has to be real – every little detail. You have to really believe that you’re with the cops out there. It has to be the most authentic cop series going, because everyone will be coming after us. Because of my background, this thing will be picked at, picked at, picked at.”

Bromell grew up in Oshawa, the son of a city employee. Influenced by the writing of Joseph Wambaugh, the former Los Angeles policeman turned novelist, and by TV cop shows, which he consumed voraciously as a teenager (The Rockford Files, The Mod Squad, Police Story, Dragnet), he joined the force at 18.

Di Fiore was an obvious candidate for the writing assignment, having been a key part of the team responsible for Da Vinci’s Inquest, CBC’s long-running series about a cop turned crusading coroner, and CBS’s short-lived FBI series The Handler.

He’d always wanted to write and, convinced that writers should write what they know, hit the road after college to gain life experience. He worked as a union organizer among Mexican-Americans, and then came to Canada, employed variously as a fish-packer, as a herring fisherman, in a dog food factory, as a log salvager and finally as part-owner of a jazz club, Pagliacci’s in Victoria.

It was a visit to the club by actor-director Stuart Margolin that led to Di Fiore’s first TV credit – Vendetta, a miniseries shot in Rome.

When The Bridge was in development, Barna, who produced Da Vinci, recommended him to Bromell. “I’d never met him or even known about him,” says Di Fiore. “But when Craig told me the bones of his story, I was riveted. Except for Wambaugh, in prose, no one has ever done the story of the ordinary street cop.”

Approaching the pilot script, Di Fiore said he had a brief chat with Bromell, but cut him off at a certain point. “I felt if I knew too much about his particular story, it would limit me creatively. So most of the storyline and most of the other characters are invented.”

He wrote the first draft in 21 days. “I wanted to contemporize the story, because the truth is, rank and file cops today are still battling the brass as much as they’re battling the drug dealers on the street.”

Lead actor Douglas, a Vancouver native, didn’t try to model the character directly on Bromell. “I just wanted to make Frank Leo a real guy. It’s a fictional character based on Craig’s life. I don’t put a lot of forethought into the scene. My approach is to say the words as simply as you can. Don’t try to act. Just be naturalistic.”

Ultimately, naturalism is also Bromell’s ambition – to accurately depict the true, hugely complicated nature of a cop’s life.

“No one,” he promises, “will be able to come back to us and say: ‘That’s not how it is. It’s not that way.’ No, I’m sorry. It is that way and that’s how we’re going to show it.”

The Bridge premieres Friday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, then moves to a regular Friday, 10 p.m. ET/PT timeslot on March 12.

The Marriage Ref Is Seinfeld All Grown Up

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(March 2, 2010) Los Angeles — In some ways, the inspiration behind
The Marriage Ref sounds like a Seinfeld episode.

Consider the plotline: Newlywed couple invites a friend over for dinner. Everything is civilized until the couple revisits a disagreement, which turns into a spat, which turns into a full-tilt argument. The friend naturally feels uncomfortable and tries to leave. Husband insists the friend stay, hear both sides, and declare a winner and loser. The wife and friend exchange puzzled expressions.

“But that’s exactly what we did,” said Jerry Seinfeld, who has transformed the incident early in his own married life into the new series The Marriage Ref (Sunday, NBC, CITY-TV at 10:30 p.m.). “I said my side, and she said her side. I believe I lost, but that’s not the point. The point is it was better, because it was over.”

The Marriage Ref is Seinfeld all grown up. For nine seasons, his much-celebrated sitcom explored the complexities of New York single life (the only character even coming close to marriage was George, and he killed his fiancée by accidental poisoning). One year after voluntarily folding the show, Seinfeld wed Jessica Sklar. Now 55 and a father of three, the comedian’s perspective has, by necessity, shifted.

“After 10 years of marriage, I realized the comedic potential of this topic is quite rich,” Seinfeld told visiting TV critics. “Really, 85 per cent of marital difficulties are ridiculous problems. But the ref idea … really, it was not my idea to do it as a TV show. It was my wife’s.”

Heavily promoted during NBC’s coverage of the Vancouver Winter Games, The Marriage Ref debuts in a sneak preview following the network’s coverage of Sunday night’s closing ceremonies, before moving into a regular timeslot next Thursday. The concept merges reality, comedy and a panel format – a peculiar TV amalgam, admits Seinfeld.

“No question people are going to watch us and go, ‘Well, this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen’,” he said. “That to me is job one if you’re going to try and make television. It’s got to feel unlike what’s already there.”

Most likely the promos already have some viewers confused. How it works: A married couple with a dispute allow cameras to pre-tape their bickering (NBC put out the call for disagreeable duos on their website several months ago).

Next, it’s game on. The resulting reality footage is shown simultaneously to a studio audience and a celebrity panel – Seinfeld, 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwinand talk-show host Kelly Ripa appear in the first episode – who offer up observations and personal reflections for viewer consideration.

The panel is allowed replay clips in slow motion and use the telstrator to point out highlights in the argument. “We felt the simplicity of sports was missing in marriage,” said Seinfeld, who serves as as executive producer on the series.

Future guest panelists on The Marriage Ref will reportedly include Tina Fey, Larry David, Matt Lauer, Martin Short and – seriously – Madonna, whose spokesperson has confirmed her future appearance. With two marriages (to Sean Penn and Guy Richie) behind her, the Material Girl is something of an authority on the subject.

But it also raises the question: Why a panel of celebrities instead of counsellors or marriage experts? “Because experts are helpful,” said Seinfeld. “And that’s not our thing. This is a comedy show.”

Working toward that goal, the weighty role of Marriage Ref falls to standup comic Tom Papa, one of Seinfeld’s best friends, who presides over the proceedings and considers the panel’s observations before declaring a victor.

“The job of the judges is to convince me which way to go, but ultimately I make the call,” said Papa. “As comedians, we’re always looking for the truth and I have to come up with a real reason as to why this one is right and this one is wrong, and then just make the call. And if people get angry, that’s just the way it goes.”

Once a winner is declared, a prize is awarded, with veteran sportscaster Marv Albert performing the honours. “The prize will always be completely appropriate to the argument itself,” said Papa.

For obvious reasons and TV purposes, none of the arguments presented on The Marriage Ref are of a serious nature. In the first few shows, a man bridles at his wife’s insistence on keeping her ex-husband’s ashes on the mantel, and his prosthetic leg in their bedroom closet. A woman rails at her husband’s habit of parking his Harley in the living room. Or the couple at odds wonders whether or not to have their recently-deceased dog stuffed by a taxidermist.

“Now, a fight like that could go on for a year,” said Seinfeld. “And we just end it. It’s like in baseball. I kind of like it when the ump blows the call, because that’s part of the game. This is a game about human beings and we’re just going to make the call. Let’s move on.”

And very often the laughs become too far apart in a marriage, which appears to be the game plan behind Seinfeld’s return to television. The Marriage Ref has sombre network competition in its regular Thursday at 10 p.m. position – specifically, from CBS’s crime-drama The Mentalist and the maudlin medical drama Private Practice on ABC – but Seinfeld believes there must be enough married-couple viewers out there to support the real-life concept.

“Anyone who’s married, or was married, will be able to relate,” he said confidently. “And it is very pro-marriage. The show ends in a way where you can see how we’re really rooting for them and want them to hang in there. And you can see that the fight was really just a passing moment in their life.” 

Jay Leno Returns To Tonight Show

Source:  www.thestar.com - Rob Salem

(March 3, 2010) What a difference a time slot makes.

Jay Leno made a triumphant return to 11:35 on Monday night, reclaiming his Tonight Show throne after a brief abdication to Conan O'Brien.

I have never been a big Leno fan – at least, not of his hosting skills. He is one of the great stand-up comics of all time and, recent bad press notwithstanding, is still apparently the same easygoing (perhaps too easygoing), car-crazy Average Guy his fans adore.

But his Tonight Show was always too "vanilla" for me. I can't forgive his network masters for choosing him over David Letterman 18 years ago and for elbowing out Conan O'Brien a few months ago.

That being said, Monday night's Tonight Show saw Leno back at the top of his game – very much unlike his ill-fated 10 o'clock show, on which he was visibly ill at ease, inexplicably unprepared and obviously embarrassed. All with good reason, since, in the transition to the earlier time slot, his cadre of high-priced writers seemed to forget that comedy tends to be more effective when it's actually funny.

Leno said it himself, just a few minutes in, following the de rigeur lemming-like standing ovation: "Isn't 11:30 a lot more fun?"

It was for us and even more so for him. The guy was clearly relieved and seemed to be enjoying himself.

Even the manipulated video and pre-taped segments – perhaps the lamest part of the 10 o'clock show – seemed to have a new vitality. Particularly when Leno, desk-less in the earlier half-hour (and thus required, he cracked, to wear extra-long socks), conducted surprise home invasions to check out other people's desks, complete with tag-along guests including the always-irreverent Adam Carolla.

Leno's inaugural in-studio guest was Oscar and Grammy winner Jamie Foxx, an odd and underwhelming choice, with nothing in particular to plug. As if to compensate, Foxx spent most of his excessive air time bouncing off the walls, inciting audience chanting, spraying champagne and knocking stuff off Jay's desk in his over-abundant exuberance.

"Why don't you take an Ambien and we'll go to commercial?" Leno kidded.

I would suggest that perhaps Foxx was taking the title of his Grammy hit, "Blame It (On the Alcohol)," a bit too literally.

Leno's follow-up guest, U.S. Olympic gold-medal skier Lindsey Vonn, was a more traditional choice, albeit in a sequined miniskirt that was frankly more Lindsay Lohan.

She was charming, interesting, inspiring and humble. She even brought her twin medals, which she let Foxx and Leno get their fingerprints all over. And I couldn't help but notice, before bringing out country star Brad Paisley to close out the show, that Leno never did give that medal back.

Perhaps he thought he deserved it. And who am I to argue? Millions of Leno fans can't all be wrong. His Monday-night audience of 6.6 million viewers scored a whopping 80 per cent over CBS competitor Letterman and the Nightline/Kimmel combo on ABC.

The ratings bump spilled over into the 12:35 a.m. slot, with Jimmy Fallon celebrating his first anniversary on Late Night, topping Craig Ferguson by 40 per cent.

Of course, the curiosity factor propelled the debut of the 10 o'clock Leno Show to a record viewing audience of 18 million, which five months later ended up pulling in barely a third of that.

Still, with Leno now back and buff at 11:35, Letterman may never regain the lead he gained during the abortive O'Brien regime.

The more things change ...

BUTT SERIOUSLY, FOLKS The numbers are in for Monday night's domestic double debut of Hiccups and Dan for Mayor on CTV, starring Corner Gas grads Nancy Robertson and Brent Butt in the former and their ex-Gas co-star Fred Ewanuick in the latter.

And the ratings were, according to CTV, beyond outstanding: 1.9 million viewers each, beating out House, The Bachelor finale, and CBC's 18 to Life and Little Mosque comedy block to win not only the 8 to 9 hour, but the highest numbers of any debut of any scripted Canadian show this season (not all that wide a field, but still).

That's well behind Corner Gas at its peak – the series finale was watched by nearly 3 million – but it beats Gas's 2004 debut of 1.1 million.

On the other hand, it's still a little shy of the 2.3 million U.S. imports Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory each pulled in at 9 and 9:30 on CTV.

Of course, the real test will be to see who tunes in again next week. I know I will.

Kindred the Family Soul Announce Six is It! — A Web-based Reality Series

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 2, 2010) *Aja & Fatin Dantzler, known to music fans as
Kindred the Family Soul, officially announced today the arrival of their sixth child and the launch of their web-based reality series Six is It!  

The series premier is available On-Demand beginning March 3, 2010 at the newly revamped www.KindredtheFamilySoul.com and partner site www.blackandmarriedwithkids.com.  

The bi-weekly episodes which return to the roots of “reality” TV in a documentary-style narrative format, have been hailed as ground breaking in the honest depiction of an African-American family.

“Finally, a real representation of a Family of Color.” – Lamar Tyler, www.blackandmarriedwithkids.com

The Dantzlers were surprised last summer by the word that Aja was pregnant with her sixth child, a second boy. They decided that now was the time to share the story in a long contemplated reality series. “People have been asking us for years ‘How do you do it?” says Aja of the balancing act of being celebrated Recording Artists with their role as parents of a small tribe. “We don’t think about it,” chimes in Fatin “unlike others, our Family is our life – not the other way around.”

Six is It! is produced by Aja & Fatin under their KTFS Unlimited Productions. After canvassing various funding sources, and receiving ‘recession themed’ rejections for their literal labor of love, the Soul Train™ Award nominated duo grabbed their Flip™ camera and started shooting in December 2009. In the first episode, Kindred and their then 5 children drive 800 miles from Pennsylvania to Georgia to perform, then during their trek home share a tender family moment by the side of the hi-way celebrating the Dawn of the Decade alone in the 15 passenger Ford van.

In keeping with the reality presented by the show, the proud parents will be performing promotional duties from their home beginning on March 3rd with an interview on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show.  Interviews with bloggers such as L. Michael Gipson, Patrick Riley, Terry Bello and other outlets will follow where Aja and Fatin will share the stories of their real lives as chronicled in Six is It!

Advance Notices

“I must say that I’m not a big fan of most reality shows these days. I was absolutely touched in a big way watching “Six is It”. It is such a joy to see a family of music & God trying to do good things in life and raise a healthy & happy family. This won me over!!!”

Greg Scelsa
Greg & Steve
2010 Grammy Nominees
Best Album for Children with Music

“Reality shows are oxymoron’s, which is to say most of them are fake. That’s why it’s so refreshing to watch Fatin, Aja and their brood of six wrap us in a loving, creative and refreshingly real hug on their new show, Six is It.”

Annette John-Hall
Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia, PA

“Six is It! is beautiful and brilliant. Fatin and Aja are honoring us with an inside look at the balancing act between the entertainment business and an ever growing family.  I will be taking notes, wiping tears from laughter, and hoping to follow in their footsteps.”

Eric Roberson
2010 Grammy Nominee
Best Urban Alternative Performance

“‘I’ve always loved Kindred’s music and as reports of their steadily-expanding family have unfolded over the years, I often wondered how they manage it all. Well, the first episode of Kindred’s web based reality series Six is It! answers some of those questions and then some. I’m excited to see more of the adventures of this neo-soul Jon & Kate + 6!”

Patrick L. Riley
“A Day in the Life of Riley: pop culture & possibilities”
New York, NY


Jason George Books New Shonda Rhimes Pilot

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 2, 2010) *Jason George is preparing to move from one Shonda Rhimes medical drama to another. The actor, in a recurring role on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” this season as anesthesiologist Ben Warren, has joined Rhimes’ new ABC pilot, “Off the Map.” Written by Jenna Bans, “Map” revolves around three doctors who leave the comfort of the U.S. to work at an isolated tropical clinic, Cruz del Sur, according to the Hollywood Reporter. George will play Dr. Otis Abbot, a brilliant ER doctor at the clinic who likes women, cigarettes, and the occasional dirty joke and works closely with the clinic’s founder, Ben Hanley (Martin Henderson). While he is described as very talented, Abbot’s brilliance is not quite evident in his motto: “When in doubt, give Ibuprofen.” George, whose character on “Grey’s” has hit it off with Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), is a favorite of Rhimes, who also cast him in her pilot last year, “Inside the Box.” He’s also a favorite of ABC where he has co-starred on three series, “What About Brian,” “Eli Stone” and, most recently, “Eastwick.”


The Man In The Mask Is Back

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Elizabeth Renzetti

(February 28, 2010) London —  This is what the Phantom has brought with him across the Atlantic Ocean: the life-size mannequin of his lost love, Christine Daae; the cunning white mask that covers his disfigurement; his magnificent pipes; and his rage. Oh, yes. The Phantom may have moved to America, but he hasn’t traded his gothic obsession for a golden retriever and a pair of slippers.

Near the beginning of
Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new sequel to Phantom of the Opera, the Phantom, high in his crazy-villain lair above Coney Island, stands in front of his Christine doll and sings a great belter of a song called Till I Hear You Sing Once More. It’s a temple-crumbler, and the audience at a preview at the Adelphi Theatre this week received it with great appreciation.

They could not know that Ramin Karimloo, the young Canadian actor originating the role of the Phantom in this show, once brought equal passion to singing in a Tragically Hip cover band, or that his obsessions extend to hockey, not opera ingénues, or that, unlike the Phantom he has never been driven to murder, but does like driving a motorcycle. He doesn’t hate the world, but does loathe buffets. So no real resemblance to the Phantom, then, except for those pipes. Here is proof of Laurence Olivier’s wise observation: “It’s called acting, dear boy.”’

Next month, when Love Never Dies officially opens in London, the beady eyes of every critic and musical-theatre aficionado will be trained on Karimloo and his co-star, Sierra Boggess. After all, Phantom of the Opera was not merely a musical but – in the producers’ words – “the most successful single piece of entertainment of all time.” In certain quarters, the knives are already drawn; in others, the Kleenex boxes are being stockpiled. It’s a heavy weight to carry for a 31-year-old with no formal vocal training, who is vague about whether he actually graduated from high school, who paid his dues singing on a cruise ship and whose main dream, at one point, was to meet the Hip’s Gord Downie.

“I’m very calm, actually,” says Karimloo. “When I was onstage for the first time in the mask and the makeup, I wasn’t nervous. My stomach wasn’t flipping, I wasn’t worried about opening. I was thinking, ‘I can’t wait for people to see this. I’m ready.’”

The sense of calm is a recent acquisition. Last fall, Lloyd Webber announced the new musical to a packed theatre in London, as the Phantom of the Opera’s bona fides were trotted out like poodles at a dog show: longest-running musical on Broadway, 40 million albums sold, productions in 49 cities, 50 theatre awards. Afterward, Karimloo came out onstage to perform Till I Hear You Sing Once More for the first time in public – and in front of jackal-eyed reporters, no less. “That’s the hardest song I’ve ever had to do,” he says, shaking his head. “I couldn’t sleep the night before.’’

At the same event, Love Never Dies’ veteran director, Jack O’Brien, talked about the difficulty of casting: “Finding the actors to do this was not easy. These are daunting roles, and vocally punishing.”

As it turned out, the producers had to go to America to find Boggess, their Christine, but the Phantom – as is his wont – was hiding right under their noses. Karimloo was playing the title role in the Phantom of the Opera onstage in the London production in 2008 when, one day, he noticed a series of missed calls from his agent on his phone. “Where are you?” the agent shrieked. “Andrew wants to see you at four.” It was 2:30; Karimloo joked that he’d try to make it. He didn’t need to ask who Andrew was.

It was no secret that Lloyd Webber had long been tinkering with a sequel to the Phantom, which opened in London in 1986. That musical, based on the 1911 novel by Gaston Leroux, follows a tormented musical genius who lives in the Paris Opera as he pines after a young singer, murders a couple of annoying people and causes a large light fixture to plummet to the floor. It ends with the Phantom broken and alone.

For the sequel, Lloyd Webber first worked with novelist Frederick Forsyth on a version that had the Phantom moving to Manhattan, but he abandoned that. Later, lyricists Ben Elton and Glenn Slater stepped in. On the afternoon when Karimloo was summoned, he had no idea what he’d be singing for Lloyd Webber. He got to the office, and because he doesn’t read music, had someone sing him the part – one of the new songs, which he then performed for the composer. Lloyd Webber listened intently and said, “That’s how it should be done.’’

It was not a fait accompli. Karimloo sang the new songs at workshops, at Lloyd Webber’s house – all while performing eight shows of the original Phantom every week – and still didn’t know if he had the part. He wondered if they’d cast an unknown for the biggest new role in musical theatre. “Deep down I kept thinking, they’ve at least got to entertain getting a big name for the Phantom.”

Then the call came; he had the part. “That’s when the nerves started,” he says with a laugh. He soon began recording the cast album in London, while performing at night and trying to make time for his wife and two young sons.

Karimloo, whose family moved to Canada from Iran when he was two years old, is trim, handsome, exceedingly polite even by Canadian standards, constantly fretting about “tooting my own horn.” He’s a success story for the American Idol generation: With no vocal training except what he’d learned from rock ’n’ roll, he arrived in London, found an agent and began a steady climb from understudy to leading man.

In looks and temperament he’s less Phantom, more Raoul – the romantic lead in the Phantom and its sequel, a captain-of-the-fencing-team type. (In fact, he was once cast as Raoul in the London production of Phantom, despite the reservations of producer Cameron Mackintosh.)

The new role brings Karimloo full circle: He only became interested in musical theatre after being dragged, with a teenager’s sullenness, to a production of Phantom of the Opera at the old Pantages Theatre in Toronto. It was a revelation. Here was a way to sing like a rock star, and act, and get chicks. Had he never been interested in musical theatre before? He shoots an incredulous look. How many boys love musicals? “Um … no.”

This lifelong devotion to Phantom puts him in a vast company of people, many of whom have seen the musical onstage or on film, and own the CD (and possibly the T-shirt and pillow as well.) A vocal minority of those people have already loudly protested against Love Never Dies, prior to its opening on March 9 (see, for example, the Facebook group Love Should Die). As O’Brien, the director, said at the launch, “No one is going to thank us for doing this. We’re playing around with aspects of people’s memories that are sacrosanct. We’d better know what we’re doing.”

Already, the road has been bumpy. There’s been talk of insufficient preparation time for such a complex production. The initial performances were postponed, and when the first preview finally opened this week, a technical glitch delayed the performance. As well, Lloyd Webber suffered health problems, announcing last fall that he had been treated for prostate cancer.

For almost 20 years, on and off, the composer’s been working on a sequel, ever since Maria Bjornson, Phantom’s designer, had told him she disliked the ending. That ending – with the murderous Phantom sobbing as his true love Christine leaves with drippy Raoul – plagued many of the creative team. “She goes off with the cute guy,” says O’Brien, ““But isn’t the real story between the Phantom and Christine? That’s where the knife goes in. We never find out why he’s so unpleasant.”

Well, if you ask Karimloo, the Phantom’s not unpleasant, just misunderstood – for a clinical reason. The actor likes to come up with a backstory for his characters, and he decided that the explanation for the Phantom’s behaviour – his brilliance and social awkwardness, his obsession, his inability to fit in with the world – stemmed from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. When he announced this publicly, he received both letters of support from people with Asperger’s, and howls of outrage.

“There was a bit of backlash about that,” Karimloo says. “But I thought, why? I’m not saying he’s a killer because he has Asperger’s. … It humanizes him. That, married with the fact that he’s deformed, was why he was hounded. But the darkness doesn’t come from Asperger’s, his genius and his beauty does.”

In the new production, the Phantom is still a genius, but he’s a little more at home in the world, because he’s chosen to live among the freaks of Coney Island. No lighting fixtures were harmed in the making of the show, but something impressive does drop from the ceiling. And because it’s set at the seaside, and not in a subterranean lair, the Phantom gets his moment in the sun.

Filipina Caregivers React To Stage Portrayal Of Their Lives

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - James Bradshaw

(March 2, 2010) Their work in Canada’s Live-in Caregiver program is the subject of Future Folk, a
multidisciplinary work premiering at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille.

Ana Kristine Cagas


Originally from Oroquieta in the Philippines, the 28-year-old arrived in Canada two years ago and is still in the Live-in Caregivers Program. She worked 11 months for a “very good family,” taking a leave a week before her seven-month-old son was born. She expected to go back to work soon, but her employer needs someone with more flexibility than a new mother, so she has to look elsewhere to complete her remaining 13 months in the program. Her eight-year-old daughter is still in the Philippines.


“The play is very true. It’s emotional.” The moment that struck her most – when one of the characters sends money to the Philippines for her family. “I’m sending money for my family. It’s very difficult because they think that our work here is easy and good money. I have a sister who’s finished nursing school already, and a brother in university, so they always ask for money to buy this, buy that.”


Cagas hopes audiences will understand the lives of live-in caregivers better, especially because “some Filipinos don’t complain – that’s why their employers take advantage [of them].”

Victoria Dela Sierra


Born in La Libertad, Dela Sierra was a Ministry of Health midwife for 20 years in Saudi Arabia. She came to Canada a widow in 2008 and is very happy in her job as a caregiver. The 58-year-old finishes her 24 months of service in late November when, “Inshallah, I can have my papers.”


What spoke to Dela Sierra most about Future Folk was “being far from your family.” On watching the play: “Oh my God, with a teary eye, because that is true.”


For some, Dela Sierra says, caregiving is “a very sad life. They are unlucky. But we are always praying for them that they should have, sooner or later, a nice life.”

Tita Honrado


Honrado came to Canada back in 1998 by way of Italy, where she was living with her two sons. She arrived on a Thursday, rested on Friday, visited a caregiver agency on Saturday, and was working by Monday. The 56-year-old is now a Canadian citizen.


“They got it right,” says Honrado of a scene where a mother greets her two children after years spent apart. “For my daughter-in-law [Kay Evangelista], it was exactly like that. They were small kids, and they travelled alone.”


Immigration officers, in particular, “need to have more compassion toward the caregivers.”

Kay Evangelista


Honrado’s daughter in-law, 33, came to Canada in 2003 to become a caregiver – but wasn’t able to bring her children for nearly five years. Her third child was born here.


“Everything is true,” Evangelista says of the play. What really hit her: “The two boys, always calling home,” she said, referring to the sons of one character phoning their mother, who works in Canada, “because I’ve got two boys.”


“[Canadians] should respect us. It’s not an easy job. You need to tell everybody, we left behind our families.”

‘A Male Perspective On A Female Perspective’

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - James Bradshaw

(March 3, 2010)
Daniel MacIvor isn’t exactly shy about talking. The Governor General’s Award winner – originally from Cape Breton, N.S., but now a playwright-in-residence at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto – has written more than a dozen plays, including Marion Bridge, House, and How It Works. Confronted with silence, he admits, he is often a runaway chatterbox.

But in his new play, the 47-year-old master of the monologue fills the stage with another kind of lopsided dialogue – between therapist and patient. Premiering tonight, Communion tells the story of Leda, a woman who turns to her therapist, Carolyn, to finally unburden herself of a secret and reconcile with her estranged, zealously religious daughter, Ann.

The Globe and Mail’s James Bradshaw sat down with MacIvor and his cast – Caroline Gillis as Leda, Stratford Festival regular Sarah Dodd as Carolyn and Athena Lamarre as Ann – to chat about the show in Toronto, before it moves on for a second run at Alberta Theatre Projects (where MacIvor will be passing the directorial reins to Linda Moore).

How does “communion” figure in this play?

DANIEL MACIVOR You know, there is a discussion of communion à la Catholicism, the idea of connection with a higher power. But the communion in the play is really about the communion that we come here [to the theatre] looking for, the contact – taken to a more physical place, human contact, which I think we all understand.

I heard this play described as “a love letter to therapy.” Is that apt?

DM It’s a love letter to therapists on some level.

SARAH DODD I think Daniel said the character of the therapist is how he would like to have therapy.

DM [Laughs.] Don’t say that, my therapist will read that. Oh my, now I’m manipulating my therapist through the press.

SD I like, in the play, that it’s therapy where advice isn’t given, but that we as humans have to find the answers ourselves, within ourselves. Because if we can’t find the answers and we have to constantly go to someone to get advice, then we’re not really helping ourselves. And the fact that somebody, at the end of the play, who you would never expect to turn to therapy, turns to it as well.

DM I had an interview with someone yesterday. He had read the play, and he said, “It’s not a very flattering portrait of therapy.” And I totally disagree. I’ve had very different kinds of therapy, and some have been incredibly forthright in their humanity – some more than they should have been – but I think with this type of therapy, I think what I find compelling is that we see [Carolyn’s] humanity. I think good teachers can change your life, and I think good therapists can do the same thing.

Backing up for a moment, what were some first impressions of the script?

DM It’s surprisingly funny. It’s being done at Alberta Theatre Projects as well, and in one of the brochures they wrote “surprisingly funny” in describing the play.

SD Which is never a good sign. [Laughs.]

DM It’s like, who’s to say [what’s funny]? Luckily, it’s turning out – without putting any jugglers or clowns or unicycles in it – to be funny.

CAROLINE GILLIS Because I’ve worked with Daniel a lot of times, I thought [the script] was an interesting new direction in writing what he and I would refer to as more of a “play play” – beginning, middle, end, structurally. It’s three scenes, but it feels like three acts.

DM You know what’s funny? Watching it, I thought that too, it's very traditional. But there’s actually something quite subversive about it.

ATHENA LAMARRE I sat in my dad’s backyard in Minneapolis, birds tweeting, it was sunny, and I read it very quickly. I couldn’t stop, didn’t take breaks. And I’ll admit it, I don’t like reading plays. I’m not good at it, I get distracted really easily, and I didn’t with this one.

DM The first draft was very different. And actually, when all three of you were on board, there was a fourth character, a character got cut.

SD My girlfriend. She’s gone.

DM We cast someone, then they got another job they had to take, and then we cast someone else who didn’t know if she could commit to a run. And I thought, those were the two best people for it. And then I thought, well, what if I just cut the part? Then I won’t have to cast it. And it was such a gift, it’s so much better.

How much more exciting, or frightening, is it doing a world premiere?

AL Well, I find there’s nothing to live up to. We’re the ones setting the bar, which is the scary part about it, but there's no ”Oh, there's a great production of it...” and then you have to match that.

SD I feel very lucky that I get to do a premiere of a Daniel MacIvor play. And it really makes me, as an actor, want to do my best.

CG Ah, you'll get over that. (Laughs)

DM For me, I get a draft out of the rehearsal. I had some language that Ann, Athena’s character, uses and it was problematic because it was too sophisticated. They were great jokes, they were good turns of phrase, but they were not helping her. If I was just the director, I would have tried to make her fit that. But I’ve also wanted to change things and they’ve said, “NO!”

SD Sometimes you can spot a little panic in a writer and you say no, no, no, don’t second-guess yourself. This is actually something good.

CG Sometimes we say no because we have that paranoia of, it’s how I'm doing it, right? You just can’t bear to, like, figure out how to make me say it correctly.

DM I promise I haven’t done that.

Will men and women relate to this differently?

CG I wouldn’t call it a play for women. A certain religious type of person is going to react differently than an agnostic or an atheist. Someone in therapy is going to react differently than someone who was never been in therapy. So it’s maybe drawn along those lines. But even though it’s from a female perspective, it’s written by a man.

DM That’s a point, the fact that it’s a male perspective on a female perspective. That sort of opens it up. Why do I write for women so much? I can’t answer that.

CG “Caroline Gillis really needed work.”

DM Yeah, it’s all about you, Caroline.

Is this play vintage MacIvor, or a departure?

CG A brilliant monologue or speech is always vintage MacIvor. And I do mean vintage. [Laughs.] I don’t know. Maybe all that’s new about it is that Daniel is very good at incorporating what he is dealing with in his own life. He’s constantly keeping up with the times, and his own discoveries along his own personal journey, and I think he’s a great writer because he’s willing to share a lot of pain on stage. I think it’s interesting that his next project is called This is What Happens Next. All his plays could be called This is What Happens Next, on some level.


National Arts Centre Responds To Concerns Of Disabled Artists

Source: www.globeandmail.com - J. Kelly Nestruck

(February 28, 2010) In response to protests from a group of disabled artists, the National Arts Centre has now removed all references to "legless cripples" from its promotional material for the play Une Fête pour Boris. Online descriptions of the provocative 1968 play by Thomas Bernhard originally described the French Theatre production as being about "a legless cripple who invites a bunch of legless cripples to a birthday partyfor a legless cripple." After Ottawa-based performer Alan Shain followed up an earlier letter complaining about the "extremely outdated and also offensive" language with another letter listing 140 supporters, the NAC responded by putting the phrase in question in quotation marks and adding a footnote explaining that the words came directly from a 1990 English translation of the work. Last week, however, after further contact with Shain, the NAC decided to take down the language in question entirely.  ”The National Arts Centre has always been sympathetic to Mr. Shain's concerns,” said Rosemary Thompson, NAC director of communications and public affairs. 


Alice In Wonderland Video Game: Weirdoes Make Great Heroes

Source:  www.thestar.com - Darren Zenko

Alice in Wonderland
Nintendo DS
Rated E

(February 27, 2010)b Not to be a downer, but the idea of “Wonderland” as a video-game setting seems to me kind of pointless. The “wonder’ of Wonderland — and the lunacy, and the humour, and the bite — comes straight from the wonder and lunacy of language itself; taken literally, the “fantastic” beings and places of Wonderland aren’t all that strange, especially considering we live in a world where a outer-space body-swapping movie about giant blue cat-people with psychic ponytails just made more money than anything ever. And as for video games — growing, shrinking, invisibility, alternate dimensions and animate animals? Gamers eat that stuff for breakfast.

So, Alice in Wonderland for the Nintendo DS — “inspired by the Tim Burton film!” — gets no bonus points for imagination. Wonderland — “Underland” as its denizens call it — is, like Middle Earth, pretty familiar. Setting aside that crankiness, though, I quite like what they’ve done with the place in this substantial exploration/puzzle platformer. This particular Wonderland is a cartoony, cute-dark world of Burton-esque curlicues and shadows (very much a Patapon visual vibe, here), and through it our heroes — Rabbit, Caterpillar, Cat and Hatter — lead Alice in her quest to Fulfill the Prophecy and blah, blah, blah.....you know how it goes with these prophecies; bolting this kind of Chosen One boilerplate onto the Wonderland framework is actually the worst thing about the game.

Hey, did I say “her quest”? I mean “their quest”; Wonderland DS is very much a lead-the-sheep kind of game, with the Wonderlanders as agents of action and Alice following along like the bewildered and fragile stranger she is, in need of constant defence and assistance. If that sounds like a drag, it’s not. Sure, you’ll probably get sick of Alice’s plaintive “Hey-yo!” as she begs to be hauled up to yet another ledge, but centring a Wonderland game around a theme of guidance and protection makes all kinds of sense. Not only does it fit with the source material, but it adds another dimension to what might otherwise have been flat puzzles, and adds a sense of concern and purpose to what might otherwise have been another listless Metroid-knockoff backtracking platformer. And let’s face it: magical weirdos are always going to be more fun to play than clueless little girls.

Ah, the weirdos. These guys make a good superhero team. The well-known storybook attributes of the characters have been excellently refracted into video-game powers. The White Rabbit can manipulate the flow of time with his pocketwatch; the Cheshire Cat makes things vanish and reappear; the Mad Hatter twists the world and shows you the other side; and the Caterpillar — well, not to put too fine a point on it, the Caterpillar gets you high or brings you down via his mastery of magical green smoke. These abilities allow for some interesting if not terribly difficult puzzles, often requiring multiple manipulations while worrying about leaving Alice alone too long. It’s a good thing, then, that switching characters is quick and easy, and the stylus-only controls actually work more or less as advertised — this in itself is a minor triumph in DS development.

Alice in Wonderland is a decent game in itself; in the context of what we might expect from tween-targeted movie-marketing tie-ins, it’s pretty much a masterpiece. 


Luminato 2010 Unveils Triple African Bill

Source:  www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(March 01, 2010) The world premiere of The Africa Trilogy — a triple bill of linked plays produced by Toronto’s Volcano Theatre — will be a theatrical highlight of Luminato, Toronto’s annual arts festival, in June.

The ambitious new work, which will run at Harbourfront Fleck Dance Theatre from June 10 to 19, was commissioned by Luminato and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Inspired by the 2005 series of Massey Lectures delivered by Stephen Lewis, the program examines the complex relationship of Africa to the West from three different perspectives — with an international team of writers, directors and designers.

The project, one of four theatrical events announced Monday by Luminato, was initiated by Ross Manson as a follow-up to Volcano’s play Goodness, which earned a prize at the Edinburgh Festival.

Another world premiere is One Pure Longing: Tahirih’s Search, also commissioned by Luminato. It’s about a 19th century Iranian poet and teacher who defied the rules by removing her veil – and was subsequently executed. Directed by Erika Batdorf, the production will be on stage at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre from June 11 to 14.

Best Before, from Germany’s Rimini Protokoll, promises to combine video game playing with live theatre to create an original audience-participation experience. It will run June 16 to 19 at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

The fourth play, Homage, concerns a large outdoor work created by Canadian sculptor Hadyn Davies. The production, which comes from 2b theatre company in Halifax, will be at the Imperial Oil Opera Theatre from June 17 to 19.

Headlining Luminato’s dance program is Syria’s traditional Enana Dance Theatre. The company will present the North American premiere of Julia Domna -- about a Roman emperor’s wife who became a folk heroine. It will be performed June 18 and 19 at the University of Toronto’s MacMillan Theatre.

Australia’s Chunky Move dance and theatre company offers Two Faced Bastard. Half the audience will get one experience, and the other half another — depending on who sits where. This production will be at the Imperial Oil Opera Theatre from June 11 to 13.


Comedian Nile Séguin Finally Recording His Show

Source: www.thestar.com - Garnet Fraser

(February 28, 2010) Nile Séguin has charm, he has talent, and he has a niche (or two) for himself. Now it's finally time to make his calling card.

The wry 37-year-old comedian wants a few more doors to open for him, but right now he lacks an essential bit of currency for a modern stand-up performer: his own DVD.

"It was a little embarrassing, to be honest with you," the Toronto comic recalls of opportunities missed simply because so little of his work is properly documented. Even YouTube has only a few minutes of his work for the curious, so this Tuesday and next, Séguin and his comedy pal Gavin Stephens are each taping their one-man shows at Supermarket.

In Séguin's case, the show is Fear of a Brown Planet, about his experiences (in showbiz, in love and beyond) as a biracial guy. It won the award for the best solo comedy act at the San Francisco Fringe, and got nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award, but if you've never seen it live, it's just been a rumour until now.

"This should have happened years ago, but owing to psychological luggage it never did ... probably fear," says Séguin.

So starting at 8 p.m. each Tuesday, Séguin and Stephens (who'll be taping his own one-man creation Spectacular! Spectacular!) will take the stage in front of cameras, to give their shows a more permanent form. No big network or even a publisher is behind it – "we're just calling our own numbers" – but Séguin's take on race will at least be available for purchase, or inspection by the various gatekeepers in Chicago and New York, two cities whose comedy scenes he's keen to explore.

Such a document might prove better for his career than an attempt to explain what he does, because there's at least three aspects of his material. There's the racial matters explored in the show, but there's also a universally relatable comedian lamenting his romantic problems, like his onstage riff on how dating is an inadequate preparation for a real intimate relationship:

"My problem with that is, some people interview well. We have all worked with someone whole only gift in life is to hide their craziness just long enough to get the job. Right? We have all been at the workplace looking at this person thinking 'how did you get this f---ing job, man?' Whose nephew are you?"

The third aspect of his material couldn't really get explored until a show last year in Toronto with Stephens. Nerdgasm was a night of comedians performing their thoughts on Tolkien, Iron Man, Battlestar Galactica, etc. Stephens openly obsesses about such things ("he's out and proud," says Séguin) but Séguin is more abashed, and his appearance at Nerdgasm was something of an admission; his material included thoughts on the likely racial attitudes of Captain America and a joke about role-playing games that is so geeky he has beseeched us not to print it in The Star.

Such material is for a pretty exclusive audience, but Seguin knows what does and doesn't work for the broader masses; he's done brief bits for CBC TV's The Hour, now writes for CBC Radio's Irrelevant Show and taped a Comedy Now! special last month.

Nerdy jokes or not, though, he's under no illusions that greater stand-up success will land him a sitcom:

"Oh yeah, a Rwandan-French-Canadian! It's not like there's a huge mass of Hutus and Tutsis waiting for this in the U.S."

Attack of the One Man Shows tapes at 8 p.m. at Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave., March 2 and March 9. Admission $10.


The Man For All Seasons

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

(March 2, 2010) Rex Harrington is truly seeing clouds from both sides now.

In 1997, he was the most famous male dancer in Canada – winning accolades for his triumphant performance as the Man in James Kudelka’s acknowledged masterpiece
The Four Seasons. In his current job as the National Ballet of Canada’s artist-in-residence, he’s now responsible for staging that same ballet – and training a new cast of “men” to take over his signature role.

Part of the National’s mixed program tonight – which also includes Marie Chouinard’s 24 Preludes by Chopin and Jerome Robbins’s A Suite of Dances – this will be the seventh revival of The Four Seasons. The iconic ballet was the first work Kudelka choreographed for the National after he took over as artistic director, and it defined his era.

I’m trying hard not to be the kind of anal-retentive coach I hated, fixated on minute details. — Rex Harrington

The complex choreography, perfectly matched to Vivaldi’s beloved score, is a metaphoric journey through life: The central character, simply called the Man, finds youthful innocence in spring, passionate romance in summer, a contented middle age in autumn, and the coming of death in winter – personified by a different woman in each season.

This being Kudelka, the emotional demands of the ballet are as great as the physical ones. But in an injury-plagued world like ballet, there also have to be two casts or more on hand. Harrington’s alternate in 1997 was principal dancer Aleksandar Antonijevic, who at the remarkable age of 40, will be performing the Man on opening night. He will also have three other colleagues in the role – Guillaume Côté, Patrick Lavoie and Noah Long – all of whom will be making their debuts in the role.

To a man, the four see performing in The Four Seasons as a privilege. “It’s one of the most important roles in the male repertoire,” says Antonijevic. It’s also among the more challenging roles.

“The ballet is an aerobics class,” says Harrington. “It’s like using the treadmill and lifting weights at the same time. The Man runs for almost an hour and has to throw girls around to boot. And when you’re trying to catch your breath the few times you’re in the wings, you have costume changes. Until I found how to pace myself, when I got to winter I was practically throwing up. The first time I was even crying.”

Harrington’s job, then, is to pass the new kids the torch of his wisdom. “I’m trying hard not to be the kind of anal-retentive coach I hated, fixated on minute details. I see myself as an information highway for the new guys. I can show them the short track of how to dance it, like the grips that help in partnering. The most important thing is to let them be who they are.”

And the coach, it appears, is making all the right moves. “Rex is very generous,” says Lavoie. “He’s not attached to his way. He’s open to new perspectives”. Long agrees: “He lets you adapt the choreography to what feels right to you. In partnering, he helps you to do the right thing, at the right place, at the right time.” Even veteran Antonijevic has benefited from Harrington’s experience. “He has a good artistic eye and I trust him,” he says. “He’s respectful in correction.”

Côté sums up the biggest challenge facing the new dancers “The role of the Man was so defined by Rex’s performance that we really have to work hard to find our own voice. Rex is helping us do that.”

The National’s mixed program runs at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre from Wednesday through Sunday.



Jordan Buys Bobcats From Johnson

Source: www.eurweb.com

(February 27, 2010) *
Michael Jordan is finally THE man as in the owner of an NBA franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats.   In the early hours of Saturday morning, Bobcats majority owner Bob Johnson announced he’s selling control of the team to Jordan, the Hall of Fame player who has overseen the Bobcats’ basketball operation the past few years.  Jordan beat out former Houston Rockets president George Postolos, who led an investor group looking to buy the team. Johnson contacted Postolos late Friday to inform him that Jordan would be buying the team.  “I remain committed to becoming an NBA owner, and I’m glad that Michael will continue to bring his talent to the sport and the league,” Postolos said.  It was not immediately clear who will be in Jordan’s ownership group. Sources said he was still recruiting investors in the past few days through various intermediaries.  Read the full story at the Charlotte Observer.

Sixers Dump Allen Iverson for the Season

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(March 3, 2010) *Allen Iverson’s short return to the Philadelphia 76ers has ended. The point guard, who once led the team to the NBA finals, will not come back to the organization for the rest of the season, the Sixers announced Tuesday. The decision follows Iverson’s month-long absence from the team in order to deal with the undisclosed illness of his 4-year-old daughter, Messiah. Iverson, who returned to the 76ers as a free-agent in December, has not played since Feb. 20. “After discussing the situation with Allen, we have come to the conclusion that he will not return to the Sixers for the remainder of the season, as he no longer wishes to be a distraction to the organization and teammates that he loves very deeply,” team president Ed Stefanski said. “It has been very difficult for Allen and the team to maintain any consistency as he tries to balance his career with his personal life.” Iverson has returned to Atlanta to be with his family. Coach Eddie Jordan said at practice it was best for Iverson to move on and put his focus on his daughter. “I think it was the right thing to do at the right time,” Jordan said. “His body of work has proven to be a terrific body of work in the history of the NBA.”