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April 14, 2011

Another week gone by in April and we're almost at Easter, which is next weekend (finally!).  I hope that the weather keeps improving so we can actually start to feel that we're fully into spring!  Perhaps then I can finally shake this winter funk and get into thinking about the warm days of summer.

There's so much entertainment news this week so I'm going to let you get right to it!  Take a scroll and a read of your weekly entertainment news.

 Now, take a scroll and a read of your weekly entertainment news.

 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! 


Juno Winning Musician John Bottomley Dead In Suspected Suicide

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Debra Yeo

(April 11, 2011)  Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter John Bottomley has died at age 50.

Bottomley, who won the Juno for most promising male vocalist in 1992, died April 6 near his home in Brackendale, B.C.

According to a news release issued by two of his brothers, the singer left his home and when he failed to return, authorities began to search for him. A coroner’s report concluded that Bottomley committed suicide.

The Toronto-born Bottomley began his music career with the band Tulpa, which also featured his brother Chris. The outfit made noise not only locally on Toronto’s Queen Street strip, but also became a fixture at New York’s legendary rock club, CBGB.

Bottomley struck out on his own after Tulpa disbanded, releasing his solo debut, Library of the Sun in 1990.

He found greater success with 1992’s Songs with the Ornamental Hermits, which helped Bottomley nab his only Juno, and his follow-up album — 1995’s Blackberry — featured the top 10 single, “You Lose You Gain.”

Bottomley continued releasing solo material until his death. His latest CD — The Healing Dream — hit stores in November.

Bottomley was a deeply compassionate person who was concerned with the growing turmoil in global events,” read a statement issued by Bottomley’s brothers, Paul and Chris.

Bottomley’s Facebook status update on Tuesday evening declared that, ‘What the world needs is the shining light of love.’ To those that knew him and know his work, Bottomley is and will remain that shining light.”

Artists who knew Bottomley also shared their grief online.

“John Bottomley has died? I’m in a daze right now,” wrote former Barenaked Ladies singer Steven Page on Twitter.

Added Toronto singer-songwriter Paul Myers later: “RIP John Bottomley, Canadian songwriter, poet, and wayfaring spirit with more than a touch of the Irish in him. His energy and works remain.”

A reception for Bottomley is to be held in Guelph on Tuesday, April 12, with a funeral scheduled the next day.

Toronto's Yearly Feast Of Film Fests

Source: Metro Toronto

(April 07, 2011) Access to cultural activities is one of the great perks of
living in Toronto, but sometimes the sheer choice can be overwhelming.

Take film festivals for example: there are more than 70 in the city each year and this weekend alone cinephiles can choose from three different fests. So just how do these festivals stay afloat and attract viewers year after year?

According to Moe Jiwan, board chair for the
Reel World Film Festival, which runs through Sunday, it’s all about finding your own niche. “You have to have a raison d’etre,” he says. “You can’t just be a film festival for coffee drinkers.”

Reel World focuses its programming on filmmakers of diversity. The Images Festival, which wraps up on Saturday, is concerned with what executive director Scott Miller Berry describes as artists working with moving images outside the commercial system. Both festivals also included training and development components for budding filmmakers.

Despite the seeming ubiquity of screening opportunities, both Jiwan and Miller Berry say there’s more content available than there are theatres. “It’s like Bollywood,” says Jiwan, “they make 1,000 films, but 950 of them are really bad.” Finding the right content – the job of the festival programmers - is the key to attracting your audience.

There’s a lot of collegiality and sharing of information between the city’s fests, which, excluding TIFF, make up $11 million in economic force. Both Images and Reel World are non-profit and depend on government grants and a barrage of volunteers to function, so there is some friendly competition for resources. But the end goal for everyone involved is the same.

“We just love bringing people together,” says Miller Berry. “Sitting in the cinema with a bunch of people and watching films together and talking about them, that’s what it’s all about.”

Toronto Teen Kidnapped By Aliens In Spielberg Series

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(April 4, 2011) A 16-year Toronto actor has landed a role on a newsci-fi which has Hollywood heavyweight Steven Spielberg as its executive producer.

Connor Jessup has a star role in Falling Skies, a series about an alien invasion. It will premiere on TNT in the U.S. on June 19.

In the series, he plays Ben Mason, a teen who is kidnapped by aliens and whose father, played by former ER star Noah Wyle, is desperate to get him back.

Jessup auditioned in November 2009 for the pilot, which filmed in various locations around Toronto over the summer of last year.

“Anything with his (Spielberg’s) name attached to it is massive,” Jessup said. “Even before I knew anything about the show or about my character, just the fact that his name was there was a real hooking point. It made it really exciting.”

Hearing that Spielberg personally saw his audition tape and approved was “the most incredible moment of my life,” he added.

The series, which picks up six months after an alien invasion has devastated the population, follows a “rag-tag guerrilla group” that fights against them, Jessup said.

There’s a lot of cool special effects . . . and action sequences. But it’s also very human, too. That’s what I really like about the show is that there’s a lot of drama to it and a lot of compelling stories.”

Jessup is something of a teen whiz. He has already written, directed and produced a short film called I Don’t Hurt Anymore! with a second film in the works.

He has also written and directed a play, Pushing Normal, and is executive producer of an independent film, Amy George, which premiered Sunday, April 3 at the Wisconsin International Film Festival.

Jessup’s other credits include appearing on the kids TV series The Saddle Club. He is currently filming a role in an independent film called Blackbird. Jessup describes himself as a “film buff” who tries to see between seven and 10 movies a week.

The Hollywood Reporter says Connor recently signed with United Talented Agency in Beverly Hills, one of the world’s largest talent agencies.

Jessup was 13 when he became the youngest person to participate in an Arctic expedition in a program called Students on Ice.

This Weekend’s Record Store Day A Boon For Toronto Retailers

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry

(April 13, 2011) The fourth annual Record Store Day, a celebration of indie music retailers being held across North America this weekend, looks to be a boon for Toronto music sellers.

Celebrated the third Saturday in April, the event is the brainchild of media store owners in the U.S. who wanted to draw attention to the plight of independent record stores hit by a drop in CD sales and an industry supposedly wrecked by the Internet.

Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and artists turn out for special appearances and performances at the stores.

Among the artists offering up special product this year are R.E.M., Regina Spektor and the Beastie Boys. Ozzy Osbourne is the day’s ambassador.

“It’s our busiest day of the year,” said Sonic Boom owner Jeff Barber. “The last two years it has blown away the weekends leading up to Christmas.”

Barber’s Annex store will fete consumers with prize packs and giveaways and a line-up of performances by local bands and DJs, such as Sister, Modern Superstition and Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub/Jonny.

Sunrise Records Bloor St. location will open an hour earlier, at 8 a.m., for people enrolled in the store’s membership program. A staffer anticipates weekend sales to triple, based on previous Record Store Days.

At Sunrise’s flagship 336 Yonge St. branch, performances, which include Darrelle London, The Spoons and Anvil, begin at noon.

Most of the 150 offerings are in limited quantities and fall into three categories:

 • Record Store Day releases: Titles that are only being released for the day.

 • Windowed releases: Titles that will only be available in record stores on Record Store Day, but will be available to other retailers in the future.

 • Regional/Small Run releases: Titles that are being released only to a certain region of stores, or have such a small run or distribution that the majority of participating stores will not have access to them.

Barber is excited about the release of The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations/Heroes & Villains” on 78 RPM vinyl single.

“I don’t know how many people actually will be able to play it, but it’s a nice package,” he said of the 10” single pocket jacket with foil stamp and numbering on black vinyl. “It’s a collector’s item.”

Among the other stores participating across the GTA are Rotate This, Vortex and Criminal Records.

The full list can be viewed at: recordstoreday.com/Canada.


Alex Cuba: Emotions Carry The Words In An Electric Show

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

Alex Cuba
At Glenn Gould Studio
In Toronto on Saturday

(April 10, 2011) He has two Junos and a Latin Grammy. He co-wrote half of Nelly Furtado’s last album. He’s got a single on the charts in Puerto Rico right now. But being Canada’s biggest Cuban music star isn’t an easy job, even if B.C.-based
Alex Cuba makes it seem that way.

Not a Typical Cuban Band

Whatever image the phrase “Cuban pop combo” might conjure, it probably doesn’t look much like the array of instruments the Alex Cuba Band have onstage at Glenn Gould Studio.

There isn’t a cowbell or conga drum in sight, and the set-up seems odd even by rock power trio standards. Cuba plays his Gibson ES-355 through a suitcase-sized guitar amp while bassist David Marion uses an Ampeg SVT stack that’s taller than he is. And though Max Senitt’s drum kit looks normal enough, he ends up getting more use out of his hand-held shakers than any of his tom-toms.

Hybrid Power

Cuba’s sound is usually described in hyphenates, with “Cuban funk-rock” being one of the most popular, and his two sets in Toronto are nothing if not wide-ranging. Si Pero No layers fluid, finger-picked guitar over a sly, funky bass line, but Contradicciones carries more of an Anglo singer-songwriter feel. Tierra Colora places long, polysyllabic verses over jazzy guitar chords, while Que Pasa Lola builds its chorus on a power-chord riff.

There’s even a cover of Blue Rodeo’s Bad Timing in Spanish, yet Cuba never seems to lose the thread, as his achingly expressive tenor maintains an almost conversational ease regardless of the rhythms.

Spanish versus English

Of course, Cuba’s singing probably seems even more conversational if you understand Spanish, which many of his fans don’t. “I’m getting used to singing to non-Spanish-speaking audiences,” Cuba says at one point. “It’s nice, because if I forget my lyrics …” His laugh says the rest.

Performing in a language most Canadians don’t speak has probably helped Cuba, though, by forcing him to emphasize emotions over words. So when he sang a quietly hopeful song “about peace” during the solo acoustic portion of the show, it was easy to get the point even if you couldn’t translate the title, Unanime (unanimous).

Mr. Showbiz

He may prefer to sing and write in Spanish, but Cuba keeps his stage patter entirely in English and exhibits a wit that often seems more Canadian than Cuban. For instance, when it came time for Que Pasa Lola he introduced the song with a Kinks-conscious quip: “We usually ask if there’s anyone here by the name of Lola – most likely a woman.”

But it’s his guitar heroics that reel in the fans. Cuba may have the smallest amp onstage, but his guitar tone is fat and commanding, lending his finger-picked solos a crowd-pleasing warmth and fluidity that verges on the Hendrixian.

A Rebel Rocker

What makes Cuba unique as a Cuban artist is that he doesn’t work within the musical traditions of his homeland, but incorporates them into a broader pop vocabulary drawing from North American rock and funk (and also Brazilian Tropicalia). And while that blend makes his music more accessible to Anglo ears, it paradoxically adds an unexpected edge to some of the most familiar aspects of his sound. So when he and the band finally shift to English, first for If You Give Me Love and then for an encore rendition of Jason Mraz’s Not So Usual, the effect is electric.

Ryerson Student Sings On Stage With Beach Boys, John Stamos

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Sarah Millar

(Apr 08, 2011)
Natalie Léger saw the episode of Full House when the Tanner family was pulled on stage during a Beach Boys concert, but she never dreamed it could happen to her.

But there she was Thursday night at Fallsview Casino singing “Barbara Ann” with the Beach Boys. Just as she thought things couldn’t get any better,
John Stamos took off his guitar, put it on her shoulders and showed her how to play the song.

“Oh my goodness, it was incredible,” Léger told the Star the morning after the concert.

Léger is the 19-year-old Ryerson student who got Stamos’ attention earlier this week when she sent out a tweet pleading for help in getting tickets to the concert. Stamos not only gave her two of them (in the fifth row, on the floor), he also gave her a couple of backstage passes.

That was where she found herself Thursday night, just after 6 p.m., standing backstage with a couple of Beach Boys and her grandmother waiting for Stamos himself to appear. When he did, Léger admits she nearly fell on the floor.

“I thanked him a million times over,” she said.

And her grandmother?

“She was smiling the whole time … she really loved meeting the Beach Boys.”

After signing a couple autographs and taking a few photographs with Stamos and the Beach Boys, Léger was invited to come on stage for “Barbara Ann”. She was pulled backstage a few songs before and confessed she was shaking all the way through “Help Me Rhonda”, the song before “Barbara Ann”.

But she had been on stage before, and said the adrenaline she felt as she walked out was enough to get her through.

Any tips on how to attract celebrities on Twitter? Léger doesn’t really have any. She said her tweet was all about timing.

“John even told me he just hopped on Twitter for 30 seconds and (my tweet) was the first tweet he saw,” she said.

The Courtice, Ont., native said Stamos direct messaged her this morning on Twitter to let her know how much he appreciated meeting her and that he had some photos to send her.

“Just to be in contact with John right now is amazing,” Léger said.

“There are no words to describe this experience.”

Celine Dion Magnificent In New Vegas Show

Source: www.canada.com - By Anne Sutherland, Postmedia News

(April 13, 2011) The buzz began before I had even left Montreal. From Jocelyn, the woman who printed my boarding pass, to the chic francophone couple waiting on U.S Customs and Immigration: "Celine. J'vais dimanche et vous?"

The fans are back and streaming to the land of Lost Wages in droves to see Quebec's most famous entertainer, the lovely
Celine Dion.

A festive atmosphere on the plane, with parties of 20 and 16, some who have had their tickets since last May. It should be renamed Celine Air.

Ginette Pinsoneault-Dumont has been to Vegas dozens of times. She's not a gambler, she goes for the shows. She saw Celine's last spectacle four times. She called it "extraordinaire."

So why go back now?

"Because I heard it was grandiose, different and chic," Pinsoneault-Dumont said.

She has all Dion's albums, she has seen the diva at the Bell Centre, and she lays claim to being Dion's No. 1 fan.

"We're very proud of her," she said.

The ladies and their husbands said they didn't go to Vegas for the past two years, because Celine wasn't in residence.

WestJet counter agent Leslie said passenger business dropped off after Christmas, but once Celine returned to Vegas, the flights from Montreal have been jammed.

With good reason: this is one hell of a show.

Magnificent. Jaw-dropping. Grandiose yet intimate. Ninety-five minutes of pure entertainment of the highest order. Worth every penny.

The girl has the pipes —_and the pins, as a series of slinky gowns cut way up to there attest.

The show starts with a video montage of her last World Tour and ends with shots of Nelson and Eddy, her infant twins.

Celine gets the first of many standing ovations before she even sings a note, appearing in shimmery silver Armani.

Steve Perry's Open Arms and the goosebumps come with the swelling music from her crack 31-piece orchestra, unveiled when a white curtain is whisked away as if by magic.

She brings out all her hits, starting with Where Does My Heart Beat Now?, sung to a series of photos of a young Celine as she first appeared on the Carson show.

Because You Loved me has the audience members swaying, and when she hits the high notes, it's breathtaking. There's a fab James Bond routine with Celine singing Nobody Does it Better and Live and Let Die with amazing background graphics.

Dion is playful and enchanting, bantering along about how blessed she feels with her family and her career exactly where she dreamed they'd be.

She sings songs by Billy Joel, Janis Ian, channels Michael Jackson so flawlessly, you'd swear it's his version of Man in the Mirror, and cries doing Jacques Brel's Ne me quitte pas, her only French song of the night.

Her range and powerful voice got quite the test with Beauty and the Beast, All By Myself and River Deep, Mountain High and the theme from Titanic, My Heart Will Go On, her encore performance.

They say her husband, Rene Angelil, goes to every show. I have proof. The man himself was sitting in the row behind me, clapping along with the rest of us.

Seven costume changes that I could count in the dizzying fashion display and an amazing duet with holograms of Stevie Wonder and one with herself had the audience gasping.

The chest thumping and other histrionics have been eliminated for the most part, and there were five standing ovations during her extraordinarily entertaining performance. The French word for show is spectacle and this truly was one.

Prince to Play 21-Night Residency in Los Angeles

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Jem Aswad, N.Y.

(April 8, 2011) Prince will continue his residency-style "Welcome 2 America" tour with a whopping 21-date stand in Los Angeles, beginning on April 14 at the Forum. The artist made the announcement via a phone call on George Lopez's show last night.

"I will be starting a 21-night stand next Thursday the 14th at the L.A. Forum with [his band] the New Power Generation and a whole gang of special guests," Prince said. "I'm gonna blast the roof off that place, I promise!" A rep for the singer later clarified to the Los Angeles Times that not all of the dates will be at the Forum, and said detailed will be available soon.

Prince then said he'll appear on Lopez's show on Wednesday night to discuss the residency further. More information was not available at press time; information about the shows had not yet appear on the Forum's website.

Since December, Prince has played residency-style concert series in the New York area, North and South Carolina, and Oakland, California. Many of the hits-heavy shows have featured guest appearances -- ranging from Cee Lo Green, Sheila E. and Carlos Santana to, er, Kim Kardashian and Leighton Meester -- and a series of stellar opening acts, including Janelle Monae, Esperanza Spalding, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and more.

Video: Montreal Envy: Osheaga Fest Gets Big Names

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Garnet Fraser

(April 12, 2011) Toronto gets all the hot touring acts, but Montreal is getting a whole lot of them in one place this year. The annual
Osheaga festival, now running over three days (July 29-31), has revealed its line-up for 2011 and it's enough for locals to be casting their eyes enviously down the 401.

Eminem, Flaming Lips, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, DFA 1979, Kid Cudi, Bright Eyes, City and Colour, Anna Calvi, Braids and many more are coming to Parc Jean-Drapeau for the expanded event. The daily line-up has yet to be broken down, but that won't deter some people from getting $200 three-day passes at the fest's website. Then again, one of the pleasures of Montreal concert-going is that even hot tickets seldom sell out in the frenzy they do in Hogtown.

If that's not enough to put a spring in a Montrealer's step, their local electronic indie-rock twosome Handsome Furs announced their new album, Sound Capital, on June 28. Hear a track from that album, "What About Us," below.

Real Hip Hop: An Endangered Species

Source: www.eurweb.com - Darryl Yates

(April 10, 2011) *It still amazes to me to see the ability of real lyricists. Being able to think two steps ahead and create a song perfectly syncopated with the beat is definitely a highly coveted talent. What we, as consumers, are usually bombarded with, are commercial rappers who have no lyrical content whose goal is just to make us move our feet.

Mississippi bred,
David Banner also headlined the event. Honestly, I never knew David Banner was such a conscious rapper. He appeared on stage dressed as a soldier with a gas mask. He then proceeded to educate the crowd with his lyrical ability. This dude either needs to be a preacher or an evangelist. I could definitely see this Mr. Banner on the pulpit in about ten years.

After about a half hour of rockin the mic, David Banner finished his
performance and Talib Kweli, stepped up to the microphone. Kweli performed hits from his conscious catalogue that included old and new hits, such as “Lonely People.”

Gutter Rainbows, Kweli’s 4th solo album, was recently released in January. Despite its lack of sales, the album still offers listeners a keen sense of reality that inspires some and intimidates others. Talib has never been afraid to voice his opinion in his lyrics. I remember listening to his first LP, “Quality” and thinking “if I had one person that to me, personified real hip hop, it would be lyrically, Talib Kweli.

Talib has been in the rap game for a while now. While always spitting words of wisdom, he can easily be considered legendary. The passion in the lyrics, the way his words are delivered, and the message in the words can be considered prophetic. Although he might ever reach #1 on the billboard charts, he has and always will represent what real unadulterated hip-hop is.

200 years from now, students won’t just be studying the literary works of Shakespeare; they’ll be studying the style of Talib Kweli, David Banner Mos Def, and Common. Real Hip Hop… something that is on the endangered species list.

Arcade Fire, Justin Bieber Among Webby Awards Noms

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
By Laura Jane Conrad

(April 12, 2011) Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire and Canadian
pop star Justin Bieber were among the many Internet sensations nominated for this year's Webby Awards. Now in their 15th year, the Webbys honour online achievements such as websites, online film and video, mobile web and interactive advertising.

Director Chris Milk received five nominations for his experimental interactive video The Wilderness Downtown, featuring the Arcade Fire song We Used To Wait. The band also received a nomination for Best Branded Entertainment Video for UNSTAGED: Preshow Behind the Scenes. They will compete with other nominees in this category such as Snoop Dogg vs. LL Cool J: The Ultimate Halo Smackdown on Funny or Die, and AOL's CL!CK: A LEGO Short Film.

Other Canadian nominees include the National Film Board of Canada, which received nominations for best use of photography and best Net art, and advertising agency TBWA/Vancouver, nominated for best website movie/film.

Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber was also recognized in the online film and video category for his involvement in the Funny or Die Video Justin Bieber Takes Over Funny or Die.

The winners will be selected by people all over the world who can go to http://webby.aol.com until April 28 to choose their favourites. The nominees will also be evaluated by International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences judges such as Martha Stewart and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. Winners will be announced on May 3 and attend an awards ceremony in New York on June 13.

Willow Smith’s Rebellion Is Just Like Her Mother’s

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bang Showbiz

(Apr 10, 2011)
Willow Smith is a “born rebel”.

The 10-year-old singer's mother, Jada Pinkett Smith — who also has
12-year-old son Jaden with husband Will Smith — insists she doesn't worry about her daughter's choices because she had such a crazy childhood herself.

Jada said: "I was the girl hanging out with drug dealers, drinking, messing around. Whatever you think I did, I did worse.

"My daughter is a born rebel like me — Willow is so me it's not true. But being a rebel isn't a problem, as long as you have someone to guide you, and we are with our kids all the time.

"We see it as our mission to use that energy, to help them express who they are."

Jada feels "blessed" to look after Willow but admits she would have loved to have some of the opportunities her daughter has when she was her age.

She added: "I tell her all the time that I would like to be 10 again and to go to fashion shows, to perform, act, have all these opportunities.

"I'm blessed to be her guide. She has these opportunities, so why not take them? What is wrong with that?"

Lady Gaga To Become Newspaper Editor-In-Chief

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Sarah Millar

(Apr 08, 2011)
Lady Gaga will be making a one-day foray into journalism as international editor-in-chief of the Metro newspaper chain for its May 17 edition.

The pop diva with the penchant for in-your-face fashion will work out Metro’s central news desk in London as guest editor, selecting news items for Metro papers in 20 countries, including Canada.

Gaga, a vocal supporter of the lesbian/gay/transgender community – her latest album to be released on May 23 is entitled Born This Way – is expected to have a particular focus on stories that deal with equality issues, which will be reflected in Gaga’s Metro edition.

The newspaper chain will also offer readers and Gaga fans a chance to act as the singer’s editorial assistant for the day. The April 18 edition of Metro will detail contest rules. The New York Observer reports that Gaga will oversee a human-rights essay contest, the winner of which will be her editorial intern.

“Let’s see how fans would define what ‘Born This Way’ is for them,” Gaga said, in a statement. “I say I was born to be brave. That’s part of my mission in life. I was born to follow my artistic visions. Look into yourself. Are you born to be brave?”

Tracking hip hop in Malawi

Source: www.thestar.com -
By Sarah Feldbloom

(April 11, 2011) In his newly released single Facebook Status,
Malawian artist DJ Drew sings along to an acoustic guitar and soothing synth. “I can’t force you to be here, force you to love me, force you to trust me . . . Baby, I’m changing my Facebook status,” he croons. Fellow Malawian hip-hop artists 3rd Eye and Barry One also feature on the track, infusing it with a sprinkle of the local language, Chichewa, giving the universal sounding pop song a Malawian vibe.

The urban music scene in Malawi isn't new, but its popularity is. Only in the past two years has it come into the mainstream, and now it's big, says DJ Drew.

“If you go on Facebook, most of the hip hop artists from Malawi . . . they have at least five thousand friends each. It’s a trend, it’s growing, and who knows where it’s going.”

And what's attracting buy-in for Malawian hip-hop is simple; it’s real. 3rd Eye tells me it's about communicating what Malawian people go through. “I'm driven by my pain, and my people's pain, you know? I see it in their eyes, it inspires me."

He’d like to see the music industry grow because it’s a positive and sustainable export, unlike many of Malawi’s other resources. “That's one thing we'll always have compared to tobacco and things that are dying out."

But developing the industry hasn’t been easy. DJ Drew and Barry One say lack of access to technology and the difficulty of marketing music without home-grown record labels are two main roadblocks. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that most Malawians live below the poverty line and don't have a budget for luxury items like CDs or stereos.

But this hasn't stopped artists from doing what they love. 3rd Eye says friends are working on a proposal to found an arts council, which could help support grassroots projects. 

Mutual support is key in buffering the growing industry. “Malawians like to push each other, we like to help each other.” says DJ Drew. “Malawi has an industry where we are all united, we are one." 

This camaraderie seems to be having an effect. Like DJ Drew, Barry One and 3rd Eye are both about to release new albums that are distinctly Malawian in more than just their use of Chichewa.

3rd Eye’s new disc, Kumidima, which means “if darkness was a place,” binds hip hop and reggae and addresses abuses of power, Malawian history and modern-day imperialism. 3rd Eye calls it the biggest accomplishment of his career.

Evidently, it’s not just the song Facebook Status which aligns these Malawian hip-hoppers. “Me, Drew and 3rd Eye, we've all got different objectives but we're shooting for the same target—to bring about change in the industry and to make it big,” says Barry One.

Rihanna, Peas, J.Lo, Taio Cruz Booked for Billboard Music Awards

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 12, 2011) *Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Lopez, Keith
Urban, Lady Antebellum and Taio Cruz are the first performers announced for the newly revived “Billboard Music Awards, which will air live May 22 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

More announcements are on the way, according to Billboard, and the full list of nominees will be unveiled tomorrow (April 13) at a press conference in Las Vegas, where the Billboard Music Awards will be broadcast live on ABC.

Tickets for the Billboard Music Awards start at $57.75 and are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com.

The Billboard Music Awards will reflect Billboard’s chart rankings based on key fan interactions with music, including album, single and digital sales, radio play, touring, streaming and social interactions on MySpace, Facebook and other popular online destinations for music.

Top artists will be recognized in a variety of genres, including R&B, Rap, Pop, Country, Rock, Latin and Alternative.

“This show marks the first of several broadcast platforms we plan to build around the Billboard franchise,” said Richard D. Beckman, CEO of Prometheus Global Media, which owns Billboard. “We have an incredible network partner and with Don Mischer, one of the finest producers in the world. We look forward to entertaining music fans with Billboard’s own rendition of a televised celebration of music.”

Ziggy Marley Taps Heavy D, Woody Harrelson for New Album

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 12, 2011) *After taking on children’s music on 2009′s “Family Time,”
Ziggy Marley returns to his regular musical path with “Wild and Free,” due out June 14 on his family’s Tuff Gong Worldwide label, reports Billboard.

“I really enjoyed ‘Family Time’,” Marley tells Billboard.com. “But it was such a specific album for a specific reason, I just consider it in a different league than (2006′s Grammy Award-winning) ‘Love is My Religion.’ So it’s been awhile since I’ve done an album where I can go back to some issues and sing about some things I couldn’t address on ‘Family Time.’ But (‘Family Time’) was a really good project for me, and necessary at the time.”

Marley recorded “Wild and Free” in Los Angeles with producer Don Was and a group of musicians that includes Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Johnson; “He played with Miles Davis, and I wanted to hear Miles stories,” Marley says with a laugh.

Guests on the album include actor
Woody Harrelson on the title track, which was used for California’s Proposition 19 campaign to legalize recreational marijuana, Heavy D on “It” and Marley’s oldest son, Daniel, on “Changes.” Key to the album, however, were the extensive demos that Marley made in his home studio, which he says made it easier to achieve the sound he was looking for on “Wild and Free’s” 12 tracks.

“The problem with using live musicians before was it was hard for them to come in and capture what I needed,” he explains. “So the whole process of doing the pre-production on my own — putting on bass parts, putting on drum parts — was to avoid putting that amount of pressure on a musician coming into the studio to try to figure out what Ziggy wants, or what Ziggy’s sound is or what Ziggy likes. So I’d give them the sound. I’d give them a lot of the parts and they could interpret it or play it properly. I wanted it to be very organic and not over-thought or over-processed.”

A variety of themes run through the album, including “changes and revolution” both globally and personally. “Social revolutions and group revolutions are good and we need that,” Marley says, “but we also need personal revolution, revolution within ourselves that change who we are as people.” To that end is the album’s first single, “Forward to Love,” which was inspired by his wife, Orly. The use of cannabis and hemp are also promoted on the album, but not just for recreational purposes, Marley says.

“I wanted a movement attached to the record, and the movement is the whole idea of using the cannabis plant for more than what it’s used for now,” Marley explains. “It can be used for environmental reasons and industrial reasons and nutritional reasons, to benefit the planet, not just for getting high.” He’s also created a new super-hero, Marijuanaman, for his first graphic novel, which will be published on — of course — April 20. [
See photo below.]

It’s entertainment,” Marley says, “but I don’t want this to be a novelty. This is a very deep character with issues to solve in this world. The story’s not about getting high and the munchies and all of that; the story’s about utilizing the plant in all its properties. I don’t think people understand how much good it can do.”

Marley has several concert dates booked already this year, but he says that the real push for “Wild and Free” will likely come later this year and in 2012. “I don’t think I’m going to get enough time this year to really explore this album live,” Marley notes, “so I’m looking for next year for it to be really about this album. I’ll probably play this album more extensively live next year than this year, so it’s looking like it’s gonna be a two-year plan of touring with this one.”

Video: Foo Fighters Stay The Course Yet Again

Source: www.thestar.com - Bang Showbiz

(April 11, 2011) Seven albums along, the
Foo Fighters still seem like an rock 'n' roll institution that will ultimately be remembered as an ace singles band rather than for its discography as a whole.

True, the first two Foos records have accrued a kind of classic status over time but almost everything else since has been, to borrow a phrase from Death Cab for Cutie, the sound of settling. Settling for being one of the biggest rock acts on the planet, yes, but settling for getting there and staying there in a musically conservative, willing-to-please manner that's always been a bit disappointing given the genuine excitement generated by Dave Grohl's less-standardized side trips with Probot, Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures.

Wasting Light holds the promise of Grohl reuniting with producer Butch Vig, who produced Nirvana's epochal Nevermind 20 years ago, and welcoming that band's late-period touring guitarist, ex-Germ Pat Smear, back into the oft-unstable Foos fold for the first time since 1997. And Grohl even goes so far as to record Wasting Light in his garage on a vintage tape machine the way he and the rest of the veteran players in the Foos did it back in their punk-rock days.

There's also a guest appearance by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic on the tormented “I Should Have Known” — a tune that the Foo Fighters concede in the new documentary Back and Forth is undoubtedly about the late Kurt Cobain even if Grohl didn't necessarily realize that at the time of writing — so the past has definitely been on Grohl's brain.

These moves haven't done much to rescue the band's songwriting from its long slump into ear-pleasing unremarkability, but it has returned the focus from the power balladry and fussy baroque adornments of recent albums to the meaty riffs and hard-charging classic-rock hooks that the band should be doing. The immediacy of the recording sessions and the extra guitar ballast gained from adding Smear alongside Grohl and Chris Shiflett, too, brings a punch to cuts such as the stentorian opener “Bridge Burning,” the Husker Du ode “Dear Rosemary” (which guests Bob Mould himself) and the scorching “White Limo” — a Queens-esque juggernaut that stands as one of the fiercest Foos tracks ever — that speaks to the band's continued ability to dole out the hard-rock goods in satisfyingly enthusiastic fashion.

There's not a lot to distinguish most of the songs from one another, however, let alone from the large, murky mass that is most of the Foo Fighters catalogue, so once again we're just left pondering why these well-liked chaps can't do a little bit better.

Top track: “White Limo.” If only the whole record rocked this hard.

George Michael To Record Song As Royal Wedding Gift

Source: www.thestar.com - Bang Showbiz

(April 12, 2011) George Michael is recording a song for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.

The ‘Amazing’ hitmaker asked fans to submit possible tracks he could cover as a gift to the royal couple, and he has now chosen one entry, though he is refusing to reveal what it is.

Posting a series of clues on Twitter, Michael wrote, “I think I’ve chosen a song for William and Kate. Suffice to say it’s a beautiful song and it was never a single so chances are u don’t know it.

“But I think it’s a perfect fit. It was written in the seventies by a genius. The first word of the title is ‘You.’”

Fans were quick to submit their guesses, and within an hour, Michael revealed someone had correctly named the track, but still refused to publicly say what he will be recording.

“Oh my giddy aunt, somebody already got it!!!” he posted.

The ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ singer plans to record the song this week and is hopeful William and Kate will get to hear it before they marry at Westminster Abbey, London, on April 29.

He jokingly added: “I’m in the Thames valley today, but working on the track tomorrow. Hopefully done by Thursday. We have a mutual friend who I think will make sure it gets to them.”

Michael has previously covered songs including Stevie Wonder’s ‘As’ with Mary J. Blige, and last month he released a version of electronic group New Order’s ‘True Faith’ in aid of charity Comic Relief.

Sharon Van Etten, Indie It Girl

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
By Brad Wheeler

Sharon Van Etten
At the Drake Hotel Underground in Toronto on Tuesday

(April 13, 2011) "I have to remind myself that people are watching me sometimes." More than ever, fans are attracted to Sharon Van Etten, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who rocked folk-like and presented romantic concern in Toronto. She sang in a nuanced, expressive style, her lyrics more confessional than stoic. Her fluid, dusky soprano is strong and breathy at once. And if she sometimes delivered her words with spite, a sense of fragility never completely disappeared.

In between songs, Van Etten's tears magically dried, her mood suddenly chirpy and effervescent. We learned that she was embarrassed by a hole in her black tights, but that she was thrilled with the numerous pockets of the plain dress she wore over them. The guest harmony singer Julie Fader was quite pregnant, and, we were told, another friend of Van Etten's in the devoted crowd was also with child. "I guess I'm a little behind there," said the 30-year-old, presumably not a mother.

All to say that this doe-eyed artist was comfortable on stage, outside of song and within, her cozy flock of cotton-clad young women and their sensitive men appropriately charmed.

"They're teaching me how to rock out," Van Etten explained, introducing her drummer and her bass player. And she does rock, in a neo-folk way: On Peace Signs, from last year's Epic EP, Van Etten strummed her red semi-acoustic Gibson instrument in an insistent, jangly manner.

One Day had a languid tuneful feel, with Fader's harmonies slotting underneath the main attraction's feathery croon. It's a memorable, listenable song - envision an indie-music Sarah McLachlan - that might have been a radio hit at one time. Supple-voiced singer-songwriter comparisons to Van Etten would include Alela Diane, Jessica Lea Mayfield or Canadians Basia Bulat and Jenn Grant.

Van Etten's sorrow showed on For You, a dreamy, plaintive number from her 2009 album Because I Was in Love. "I do, I do," she sang almost wearily, about a marriage vow that never happened, "I do wait for you."

Her humming harmonium - a squeezebox, to some - was used to poignant effect on Love More, a droning, haunting ballad. An encore included a heartfelt cover of Blaze Foley's Texas tear-jerker Oooh Love, which kept the gender of the original - "She's got my heart in her hands" and all of its love-struck sentiment.

At one point, Van Etten thanked the crowd and said appreciative things about the venue, adding that she hoped to come back. As nice as the Drake's Underground room is, no artist should wish to return. It's a small showcase place, for breaking the ice.

Van Etten, who is currently working on an album with the National's Aaron Dessner, appears ready for bigger things. But who's to say? Ambition and talent aren't enough; indie It girls are a dime a marvellous dozen. Epic is the name of her latest release, and perhaps it describes her pop dreams. We watch and wait.


Don't Cry For Pia, Idol Fans

Source: www.thestar.com - Debra Yeo

(Apr 09, 2011) It's been a couple of days since the elimination of
Pia Toscano on American Idol and it's fair to say shock waves are still resonating out there. But it seems there's reason for Pia fans to cheer up. Us Weekly reported Saturday that the 22-year-old from Howard Beach, N.Y., has already signed a record deal. Us, quoting an insider, says papers are being finalized for the deal with Interscope Records, whose chairman is Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine, and that songwriters and producers are being rounded up to get the record out as quickly as possible. 

Simon Says Plenty

Source: www.globeandmail.com

(Apr 09, 2011) Since Graceland, released in 1986,
Paul Simon has been ruled by rhythm. Everything he has composed — at least for public release — since that groundbreaking mélange of spiritual discovery and African beats has been built on meticulously planned, architecturally impressive and culturally esoteric rhythmic structures, the great American songwriter's typically cerebral response to hip hop. And though much has been said in advance of Tuesday's release of So Beautiful Or So What, his 12th solo album, about Simon getting back to basics (just guitar, melody and lyrics), there's little evidence of that.

Sade Releases New Song for Coming Album

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 9, 2011) *How could you ever get tired of some good
Sade sounds? Ya can’t. The songstress just gave a little sneak peak from her forthcoming album, “The Ultimate Collection” with her new release, “Still in Love with You.” In this post-breakup ballad, a desperate Sade pleads, “Baby, baby, think it over/ Just one more time before you go/ Call on me, baby/ If there’s anything I can do for you/ Please, call on me, baby/ Help me see it through.” The album is going to be a hot one, especially with three new tracks, including a collaboration with Jay-Z for “Moon & Sky” remix.

Rihanna to Perform on ‘American Idol’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 8, 2011) *Still making headlines over Thursday’s shocking results show, “American Idol”
producers have announced that Rihanna will join Season 1 champ Kelly Clarkson and country star Jason Aldean as performers for next week’s results hour. While Rihanna’s song hasn’t been confirmed, Clarkson will take the stage with Aldean to perform their track “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” [Watch below.] Other stars who have performed during results shows this season include will.i.am and Jamie Foxx, Iggy Pop, Black Eyed Peas and Diddy Dirty Money. “American Idol” airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox.

Chad VanGaalen Has A Big, Ol' Heart After All

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Ben Rayner

(April 8, 2011) We know Calgary singer/songwriter Chad VanGaalen can do "unsettling" in his sleep, what with his lyrical obsessions with death, existential self-doubt and the supernatural and his habit of making freaky animated videos. But while he's written the odd love song before, he's never sounded as sweet and sincere and oozing with warm emotion as he does on his new single, "Sara," an acoustic ode to the lady in his life. It's a gorgeous little tune with an aching chorus ("Sara, wake me up when you're home...") that instantly strikes your sensitive spots and finds a prominent perch in your head. Bodes very well indeed for VanGaalen's forthcoming album, the intriguingly (if somewhat disgustingly) titled Diaper Island, due May 19 via his own Flemish Eye label in Canada and Seattle's venerable Sup Pop Records everywhere else. You can listen to "Sara" and download it here on the Flemish Eye website. There's also the option of pre-ordering Diaper Island and getting one of VanGaalen's artist's prints as a bonus, which is a pretty cool deal.

Lady Gaga Gets 90 Minutes Of "Glee" Love

Source: www.thestar.com - by: John Sakamoto

(April 11, 2011)  We're barely six weeks away from the year's most anticipated album -- that would be
  "Born This Way" -- and the marketing machine is about to hit tilt. Along with a new single, video, remixes and tour, Gaga is playing newspaper editor for a day (the May 17th issue of the free daily Metro) and will be getting 90 minutes of love on a special edition of "Glee." The show returns with new episodes next Tuesday (April 19th). The week after that, her songs will be used as the centrepiece of a supersized episode in which Mr. Schuester teaches his kids lots of earnest lessons about self-acceptance.

Nicki Minaj Officially Joins Britney Spears Tour

Source: www.eurweb.com  

(April 11, 2011) *Nothing official has been announced, but TMZ is reporting that
Nicki Minaj has signed a contract to open for Britney Spears during her “Femme Fatale” tour — following weeks of rumours that the two camps were in ”serious talks.” Enrique Iglesias was originally tipped to support Britney, but pulled out of negotiations — reportedly balking at the notion of serving as her opening act. Although Nicki was recently quoted as saying she doesn’t want to collaborate with any more artists for the next two years, she said she would suspend her ban for Spears. “I’m done with collabs. No more collabs for the next two years. Although – Britney’s a snatch like me and she’s cute. Yes. We might do something,” Minaj told WENN.

VIDEO: Britney Makes It Official

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Garnet Fraser

(April 12, 2011)  Now that the question of Enrique Iglesias' participation has been settled, (he ain't coming) Britney Spears has firmed up the Toronto details of her summer concert tour. The North American leg of the Femme Fatale tour ends Aug. 13 at the Air Canada Centre, with rising rapper Nicki Minaj opening as well as distinctly lesser known pop acts Nervo and Jessie and the Toy Boys. Tickets on sale April 30 via Live Nation, who aren't yet saying how much they'll set you back. The concert is actually not the most interesting Britney news of the day, though. By popular request, she's been added to a remix of Rihanna's "S&M," new verse of her own and all.

U2 Takes Record For Most Successful Tour In History

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By DAVE McGINN

(April 12, 2011) Los Angeles - Irish band
U2’s current 360 world tour is the most successful ever, beating the record set by The Rolling Stones four years ago, promoters Live Nation Entertainment said on Monday. The Irish supergroup, who played Brazil at the weekend, will gross ticket sales of more than $700 million when their 360 tour finally wraps up in Canada in July, Live Nation said. The U2 360 tour, staged in the round in a transportable stadium, will have been seen by more than 7 million people in 30 countries when it ends. The Rolling Stones 2005-07 Bigger Bang Tour took $554 million in ticket sales, Live Nation said.


Being Brian Mulroney Takes A Lot Of Makeup

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By DAVE McGINN

(April 12, 2011) "I have the chin, I'm not afraid,"
Rick Miller sings in the title role of Mulroney: The Opera. Except he doesn't have the chin, and it's not him singing - challenges that, in fact, made the actor a little afraid.

To ham it up as Canada's 18th prime minister in the campy flick, Miller had to be caked under makeup and mouth words actually sung by Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch.

"The challenge for me was double, because not only was I playing underneath this mask, but I was also playing underneath a recorded performance," says Miller, 40, over the phone from his home in Toronto. "It was a very, very different kind of experience for me."

The idea for Mulroney: The Opera grew out of Canada's preoccupation with political satire, says director Larry Weinstein. Initially reluctant to pursue the project, Weinstein had a change of heart after reading Peter C. Newman's The Secret Mulroney Tapes. The outsized egos and drama of the book would make for perfect opera fare, he realized. But bringing such a movie to life presented a huge set of technical challenges, especially when it came to having the cast learn to lip sync.

"It's really hard, because the singers of course have a conductor, [but] the actors didn't," Weinstein says. On the advice of Mark McKinney, who starred in two of Weinstein's previous, much shorter operas, the singers were videotaped so that actors could study "how their mouths move, and the way their facial expressions are," Weinstein says. A lip-sync coach also worked with the actors.

Faking it to make it may sound easy, but it's not.

Miller spent hours singing in front of a mirror to get his facial expressions and timing just right.

"It was very specific preparation to lip sync properly, and it was something that I've never done," he says. "But I do know how to sing, so I really had to convince people, or at least make them forget that this was a lip sync and have people just slip in to the story."

Miller also studied "reams and reams of Mulroney's words," including as many of his speeches as he could get his hands on, "trying to literally get under his chin."

Actually, in order to get under Brian Mulroney's chin, Miller would sit in the makeup chair for more than three hours each morning, getting tricked out with a prosthetic chin, nose and hair. The film was shot in less than three weeks last fall in Toronto.

"It really was quite an ordeal every morning," Miller says.

Caking Miller in so much makeup was a tad cruel, jokes Weinstein. After all, Miller has proven to be a gifted impersonator, particularly in MacHomer, his one-man mash-up of Shakespeare and everyone's favourite cartoon family, in which he does impressions of more than 50 voices from The Simpsons.

"It's such a terrible thing to do, especially an actor who's famous for impersonations and who does these incredible vocal impersonations," Weinstein says.

But even though he was buried under prosthetics and lip syncing, Miller was able to compensate thanks to what he calls "schmacting," - an over-the-top style that he felt the material demanded.

"It's essentially ham acting and the kind of thing that one can do on-stage in a silly performance like MacHomer, but I don't really get to do often, especially on a big screen," he says. "Opera is so big and it's so grandiose, and these politicians are so big and so grandiose as well."

Humorous as the movie may be, Miller hopes audiences may learn something about the man and his times.

"It's a cartoon, but I think it was a really interesting portrait, and a really interesting story," he says.

And what does Miller think Mulroney will make of his performance?

"Thus far, it's really hard to say. I think he might have told Ben not to interview me," Miller says. "But he has been quite silent."

Mulroney: The Opera will be shown in 72 cinemas across the country this Saturday at 1 p.m. (all times local) and on April 27 at 7 p.m. (mulroneytheopera.ca [http://www.mulroneytheopera.ca]).

Eric Bana: International Man Of Deliberate Mystery

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(April 8, 2011) Film acting is a tricky thing. The actors who grab our imaginations the most fervently are those who can make larger-than-life look real. People generally don’t go around showing all their thoughts or grappling with passions. But great actors can pull off that transparency and intensity and make it seem not just true, but truer.

Movie stars can do this, too – and without necessarily being great actors. You would never put, say, Harrison Ford or Sandra Bullock on an acting par with Sean Penn, but they do compel us to look, and keep us from looking away.

Then there are the actors who play against everything I just said. Reliable presences who work steadily – and well – and prefer it when their off-screen personalities are impossible to detect. They want to disappear into roles, and they gravitate toward characters who are themselves withholders. Before I spoke to
Eric Bana by phone this week, I would have put him in this category. Now I think he’s the poster boy for it.

Bana’s latest role, in the thriller Hanna (it opened Friday), is a perfect example. He plays a covert CIA operative, Erik, who trains his daughter (Saoirse Ronan) from birth to be an assassin. The early scenes deliberately tell us nothing about him, and by the end we have learned little more. (Canadian-content alert: Hanna, directed by Joe Wright and co-starring Cate Blanchett, was written by Nanaimo, B.C.-born Seth Lochhead, originally as his final project at the Vancouver Film School.)

As a man of few words and much action in murky circumstances, Erik joins a slew of other Bana characters with the same traits: a no-nonsense soldier in Black Hawk Down, a troubled scientist with a secret split personality in The Hulk, a human killing machine in Troy, a poker player who holds love at arm’s length in Lucky You, an isolated king in The Other Boleyn Girl. Bana’s most expressive roles were in Munich and The Time Traveler’s Wife, but even then, what they revealed was the anguish of a man who can’t be at peace, because he can’t ever really be where he is.

“Oh no! There’s a pattern I wasn’t aware of,” Bana said. He said it as he said everything: cheerily, in a boisterous Aussie accent. (He was raised in Melbourne and lives there still, with his wife, Rebecca Gleason, a publicist whose father was the Australian High Court chief justice, and their two children, Klaus, 11, and Sophia, 9.) Then he said – nothing.

So I asked him a follow-up question: What does he think about that pattern? Again, he replied readily, but evasively: “It’s interesting to hear,” he said. “I’m not fully aware of it.”

That dynamic continued throughout our interview. I’d ask Bana something. He’d respond immediately, but generically. I’d prod. He’d gamely offer something else vague. For example, Bana collects and races cars. I asked him how many he owns right now. “I’ve got a few,” he said. How many is a few? “Well under a dozen,” he said. Hmm.

I asked him which role was most like him (a question I usually avoid, but thought might be useful here). “That’s a tricky one,” he said. “I’d have to think long and hard about that.” Really? “I’d like to say none of them,” he said. It was all very genial, but elusive.

Bana was much more comfortable discussing concrete things, such as the skills he’d acquired for roles: weapons training for Black Hawk Down, bareback horse riding for Troy, hand-to-hand combat for Hanna. “I’m sure my wife would like me to play a cook one day,” he joshed. “I should play Gordon Ramsey.”

He also volunteered that his car obsession started early. “All my baby photos are me holding Matchbox cars,” he said. “My dad” – Ivan, a Croatian immigrant and manager for Caterpillar, Inc.; Bana’s mom, Eleanor, was a hairdresser – “would get up and his car wouldn’t start because I’d been fiddling with it the night before secretly in the garage. It’s just something I’ve always done. I was lucky I was born in an age where you could pull a carburetor off your parents’ car. If you did it now you’d just about self-destruct.”

Still, I kept pushing for psychological insight. By his own admission, Bana’s led a split life. For the first half of his career, in Australia, he was an award-winning comedian. He did impressions (including Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger), stand-up, and worked on sketch shows, two of which he headlined, Eric and The Eric Bana Show Live. But it was his one serious role, as a notorious Australian criminal in Chopper (2000), that became his calling card in Hollywood.

“It is bizarre,” Bana agreed. “After Chopper, I was offered this slew of dramatic stuff, and I was a kid in a candy store, because I was completely burnt out on comedy. So I’ve had an inverse career, where no one at home took me seriously and no one overseas could ever see that I could be funny. I live somewhere in the middle, in outer space.”

Bana has made one American comedy, Funny People. He plays the straight man. “It was the first time I’d read something where I felt I could contribute,” he said. “I’ve never seen a broad American comedy and felt like there’s a role I should have played. I have a different style. Curb Your Enthusiasm is my favourite show, so that gives you an example of how difficult it would be for me to find something in American comedic films.” Indeed, in his sketches, which are on YouTube, Bana’s comedic instincts are a lot like his dramatic ones: His comedy is subtle, character-based, relying on tiny observations rather than broad yuks.

There’s another way Bana is split: His real last name is Banadinovich. That’s the name he uses at home; it’s his parents’ and children’s name. “I haven’t changed my name,” he said. “I just use a different name for work, and always have. It was the family nickname for both me and my [older] brother, so when I started doing stand-up it was easier, and it just kind of stuck.”

Naturally, I prodded: Are there any implications to working under one name and living under another? “It’s not something that I was overly psychological about,” Bana responded. “But it’s nice for me to have. It’s kind of like a mask, I guess.”

Aha! I went for one last poke: “You do keep a lot in reserve,” I said.

“I think that’s an essential part of my job, I really do,” Bana replied. “My job is to not allow the audience to know too much about me. That’s what I enjoy.”

Job well done.

Hugh Grant Secretly Tapes Former Tabloid Reporter

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(April 8, 2011) Hugh Grant has turned the tables on the tabloid press, secretly recording a conversation with a former reporter at the infamous tabloid, News of the World, who disclosed the paper regular hacked into the phone calls of celebrities.

Grant makes the allegations in a column in the New Statesman and provides a transcript of the conversation with Paul McMullan, a former reporter at the tabloid, who claims the practice was widespread and known by senior editors such as Rebekah Brooks, a friend of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The scandal, which has sparked a police investigation, has already claimed one victim: Andy Coulson, a former editor at News of the World, resigned as Cameron’s press secretary in January as a result of the scandal. News of the World is part of Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s international media empire.

In the New Statesman article, Grant said he met McMullan after his car broke down last December and McMullan, after taking his picture, offered him a lift.

McMullan, who now runs a pub in Dover, suggested Grant drop by some time, an invitation Grant accepted.

What McMullan didn’t know is that Grant was secretly recording their conversation during which the former reporter disclosed that phone hacking was a widespread practice at the tabloid and confirming that Grant himself had been victimized in the past.

Sidney Lumet, Director Of ‘12 Angry Men,’ Dies At Age 86

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bob Thomas, David B. Caruso

(April 9, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Sidney Lumet, the award-winning director of such acclaimed films as “Network,” “Serpico,” “Dog Day Afternoon” and “12 Angry Men,” has died. He was 86.

Lumet’s death was confirmed Saturday by Marc Kusnetz, who is the husband of Lumet’s stepdaughter, Leslie Gimbel. He said Lumet died during the night and had suffered from lymphoma.

A Philadelphia native, Lumet moved to New York City as a child, and it became the location of choice for more than 30 of his films. Although he freely admitted to a lifelong love affair with the city, he often showed its grittier side.

Such dramas as “Prince of the City,” “Q&A,” “Night Falls on Manhattan” and “Serpico” looked at the hard lives and corruptibility of New York police officers. “Dog Day Afternoon” told the true-life story of two social misfits who set in motion a chain of disastrous events when they tried to rob a New York City bank on an oppressively hot summer afternoon.

“It’s not an anti-L.A. thing,” Lumet said of his New York favouritism in a 1997 interview. “I just don’t like to live in a company town.”

Although he didn’t work in Los Angeles, the director maintained good relations with the Hollywood studios, partly because he finished his pictures under schedule and budget. His television beginnings had schooled him in working fast, and he rarely shot more than four takes of a scene.

He was nominated four times for directing Academy Awards, and although he never won, Lumet did receive an honorary Oscar in 2005 for lifetime achievement. He also received the Directors Guild of America’s prestigious D.W. Griffith Award for lifetime achievement in 1993.

Al Pacino, who produced memorable performances for Lumet in both “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Serpico,” introduced the director at the 2005 Academy Awards.

“If you prayed to inhabit a character, Sidney was the priest who listened to your prayers, helped make them come true,” the actor said.

Accepting the award, Lumet thanked the many directors who had inspired him, then added, “I guess I’d like to thank the movies (too).”

Lumet immediately established himself as an A-list director with his first theatrical film, 1957’s “12 Angry Men,” which took an early and powerful look at racial prejudice as it depicted 12 jurors trying to reach a verdict in a trial involving a young Hispanic man wrongly accused of murder. It garnered him his first Academy Award nomination.

Other Oscar nominations were for “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975), “Network” (1976) and “The Verdict” (1982).

“Network,” a scathing view of the television business, proved to be Lumet’s most memorable film and created an enduring catch phrase when crazed newscaster Peter Finch exhorted his audience to raise their windows and shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

It won Academy Awards for Paddy Chayefsky for best screenplay, Finch as best actor (presented posthumously) and Faye Dunaway as best actress.

Although best known for his hard-bitten portrayals of urban life, Lumet’s resume also included films based on noted plays: Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge,” and Tennessee Williams’ “Orpheus Descending,” which was made into “The Fugitive Kind.” He also dealt with such matters as the Holocaust (“The Pawnbroker”), nuclear war (“Fail-Safe”) and the convicted Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (“Daniel”).

He directed a highly successful Agatha Christie mystery, the all-star “Murder on the Orient Express,” as well.

Other popular Lumet films included “Running On Empty,” “Equus,” “Family Business’ and “The Wiz.”

The director was born June 25, 1924, in Philadelphia to a pair of Yiddish stage performers, and he began his show business career as a child actor, appearing on radio at age 4.

He made his Broadway debut in 1934 with a small role in Sidney Kingsley’s acclaimed “Dead End,” and he twice played Jesus, in Max Reinhardt’s production of “The Eternal Road” and Maxwell Anderson’s “Journey to Jerusalem.”

After serving as a radar repairman in India and Burma during World War II, Lumet returned to New York and formed an acting company. In 1950, Yul Brynner, a friend and a director at CBS-TV, invited him to join the network as an assistant director. Soon he rose to director, working on 150 episodes of the “Danger” thriller as well as other series.

The advent of live TV dramas boosted Lumet’s reputation. Like Arthur Penn, John Frankenheimer, Delbert Mann and other directors of television drama’s Golden Age, he smoothly made the transition to movies.

Lumet continued directing features into his 80s, and in 2001 he returned to his television roots, creating, writing, directing and executive producing a cable series, “100 Centre Street.” It was filmed in his beloved New York.

In 2006, he brought out “Find Me Guilty,” starring Vin Diesel and based on a true story about a mob trial in New Jersey. His final film was 2007’s “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke and Marisa Tomei.

Lumet once claimed he didn’t seek out New York-based projects.

“But any script that starts in New York has got a head start,” he said in 1999. “It’s a fact the city can become anything you want it to be.”

His first three marriages ended in divorce: to actress Rita Gam, heiress Gloria Vanderbilt and Lena Horne’s daughter, Gail Jones. In 1980, he married journalist Mary Gimbel.

Thomas reported from Los Angeles.

Jada Pinkett Smith Doing the Mom Support Thing

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 9, 2011) *
Jada Pinkett Smith admitted she’s putting her dreams aside for the future of her children.

Her son and daughter have been in the lime light lately in hit films and music. Although Jada is an avid rocker and actress, she said that comes secondary to helping her kids achieve their dreams, reports The Times magazine.

“I was offered a tour with my band but Jaden was asked to film ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’ He was seven and a half. Could I really let my little boy go and do a film without me being there? I cancelled the tour. I cancelled everything. I went to look after Jaden.”

She added that she put more of her life on hold when it came time to launch Willow’s career.

“On the one hand, I wanted a career. I’d worked so hard and yet there I was, strung out on having to make decisions based on that and it was too difficult. Should I be a star? Should I be a mum? A wife? You can’t be all three, something has to give.

“I was trying to do everything but not doing anything very well. I was failing. I was papering over the cracks. I thought I was going to die. I’d wake up next to Will and think, ‘What are you doing here? Why are you here?’ and I’d feel angry. I felt everything was dying. But then I realized we were going round one side of the circle and we had to come out the other side.”

Director Susanne Bier Looks For The Good In People

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle Macdonald

(April 13, 2011) "To err is human, to forgive divine."

These words, written by Alexander Pope 300 years ago, clearly still
resonate with Danish director Susanne Bier, whose Oscar-winning film In a Better World explores how difficult it is to sustain basic human goodness in a malevolent world.

The 50-year-old became fixated on exploring this theme after she and her scriptwriting collaborator, Anders Thomas Jensen, wrote scenes about kids being interrogated by the police. "It got us thinking about the fragileness of the Danish ideal, about how difficult it can be to be a decent human being, particularly in our time," Bier explains. "Both of us were really fascinated by this benevolence we see in a lot of people, including in our part of the world, who really want to do the right thing, but have real issues leading their lives in a moral way."

In a Better World, which won this year's Academy Award for foreign-language film, follows a doctor, an intrinsically good man named Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), who encounters barbaric evil in a warlord in Sudan while working at a refugee camp. On his return home to his idyllic Danish village, he finds himself surrounded by similar, just less insidious, evil in the people he meets on the streets - and within his own family circle.

On the phone from Copenhagen, where she is based, Bier says her decision to juxtapose those two disparate - but jarringly similar - locales in a morality tale gone awry was deliberate. She wanted to show how people, regardless of their socio-economic status, often choose revenge over forgiveness when pushed to the end of their rope.

"In a Better World basically asks whether our own 'advanced' culture is the model for a better world or whether the same disarray [is] found in the lawlessness lurking beneath the surface of our own civilization," says the director, who shot her feature in Kenya and Copenhagen in 2009. "Are we immune to chaos, or obliviously teetering on the verge of disorder? This is not a political film. This is about deep moral choices, ethics and basic human values."

At one point in the film, Anton is repeatedly slapped by a belligerent mechanic in front of his children, but he refuses to strike back. Still, despite the obvious "turn the other cheek" biblical reference, Bier insists that this movie is not "a religious film."

"I think most people by nature are instinctively ready to defend themselves. And the danger of being forced to do so is always there. The movie clearly suggests forgiveness and compassion are much better and, possibly, a much more efficient way of dealing with life or society. But it's not black and white. It doesn't say you can forgive anything. It just says we tend to believe more in the other way of doing things."

This isn't the first time that Bier, a prolific filmmaker, has grappled with complex social issues. In 2002's Open Hearts, a newly engaged couple with a charmed life see their future implode after a car accident. Her 2004 film Brothers - an audience award winner at Sundance - explores the First World's relationship with the Third after a veteran soldier endures a brutal captivity that almost destroys him, as well as his family. And in 2006, Bier directed and co-wrote (again with Jensen) the Academy Award-nominated After the Wedding, which waded back into the great cultural divide between the developed and developing world (this time pairing India and Denmark) in a drama about family secrets and the havoc that ensues when the truth comes out.

All of this might make Bier seem like an art-house filmmaker to viewers in North America. She studied art and architecture at Jerusalem University before graduating from the National Film School of Denmark. In her home country, though, she is widely regarded as a commercial hit-maker (her first box-office success in Denmark was the romantic comedy The One and Only, in 1999).

And that bifurcated reputation rankles Bier. "I'm just so fed up with that European arrogance to what commercial is," she says, her voice rising as her temper flares.

"Basically, there's a European arrogance to watch anything which actually addresses an audience. I make movies because I honestly believe I have stories to tell which might be of interest to an audience. So it's not about commercialism, it's about communicating. To think a film is only valid and refined if you don't reach an audience is absolutely daft, very arrogant and stupid."

That off her chest, Bier switches gears and says that the Oscar win for In a Better World will, hopefully, get the Euro snobs off her back - at least for a while.

"Winning an Oscar is a big deal for a country like Denmark. We're a country of five million people, almost the same amount of people who live in Manhattan, so it's a big deal to be able to generate something which apparently has such strong universal impact," she says, her happy voice back.

It won't hurt her career, either. "Even if I hadn't won, I'd still be making the kind of movies that I want to do, but hopefully this will make it a little bit easier to do," Bier says.

But she adds with a laugh, "I'm going to work really hard to avoid the curse of wanting to make a movie that is going to win another Oscar."

Her next film is a frothy romantic comedy. Yes, with commercial potential.

"Let's see if I succeed in that."

In a Better World opens in Toronto and Vancouver on Friday.


Avatar 2 Approaches

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Linda Barnard

(April 12, 2011)  When I interviewed Aussie actor Sam Worthington for his romance-drama Last Night at TIFF in September (the interview runs in the Star next month closer to the movie's May 20 opening date) I asked him when he'd start work on Avatar 2. "As soon as James finishes the script," he said. Worthington, who played Marine Jake Sully in the first outing, is back for the reboot. Looks like the King of the World from Kapuskasing is getting closer. The Hollywood Reporter published an exclusive saying Cameron and 20th Century Fox have inked a deal on a Titanic-sized space in Manhattan Beach, about 25 km southwest of L.A. It's a 580,000-square-foot studio and office space with 15 sound stages to film the motion-capture scenes and other techno wizardry. Cameron has said he's still not sure where he'll shoot the live-action scenes, which were done in New Zealand on the original blockbuster. Avatar 2 is due out in December 2014 with Avatar 3 landing in December 2015.

Rock Of Ages Cast Keeps Growing

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Linda Barnard

(April 13, 2011) We loved him as rock's bad boy Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek, so Russell Brand seems a natural to join Tom Cruise and the gang for the movie version of Rock of Ages, opening in June 2012. Not only is it smart casting - nobody plays a skinny, sick and sassy rock god better than Brand, but it also dovetails nicely with Brand's plans for world domination. With his concurrent leads in Hop (as the animated Easter bunny) and Arthur (as an animated - verb use this time - drunk) in theatres, Brand seems to be everywhere.

::TV NEWS::\

The Kennedys: President And Accounted For

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Apr 09, 2011) Americans take their dead presidents very seriously,
particularly in terms of how they are portrayed on TV.

Living fictional presidents are fine: Martin Sheen on West Wing, Geena Davis in Commander in Chief, Dennis Haysbert and Cherry Jones on 24.

But the martyred
John F. Kennedy, and before him, the dying Ronald Reagan — venture there at your peril.

In 2003, the CBS network was pressured into dropping their already shot and scheduled TV movie, The Reagans, by pre-emptively outraged historians, prominent conservatives and Reagan friends and family. It ended up airing, without further incident, on the cable channel Showtime.

History repeated itself when Discovery History (not related to our own History Television) decided to drop its own eight-hour miniseries,
The Kennedys, sending its producers scrambling unsuccessfully from network to network, until they found it a new U.S. home on the obscure movie service ReelzChannel.

The series will still air here, as promised, in two-hour chunks, four consecutive Sunday nights at 9 on History, starting April 10.

Down south, the controversy continues. There’s a reason, production costs and tax incentives aside, that both of these much-contested efforts came all the way up to Canada to shoot (The Kennedys here; The Reagans in Montreal).

Distancing themselves from agenda-based meddling turned out to be something of a two-edged sword for the producers. Deprived of any physical evidence to the contrary, much of the initial criticism of both presidential minis was made on the basis of early draft scripts containing scenes and statements never ultimately filmed.

Even then, when have we ever looked to dramatically recreated history for fact-based veracity? Real events are often enhanced; real-life characters simplified or composited; unseen conversations and motivations extrapolated.

The Kennedys saga in particular didn’t need much in the way of dramatic enhancement. Indeed, if it had never happened, and someone had presented the entire thing as fiction, I’m sure it would have been rejected by networks, audiences and critics as being too much to be believed.

American viewers had the chance to judge for themselves when the much-maligned mini debuted there last week. The curiosity factor alone gave ReelzChannel its biggest rating ever, in the vicinity of 2 million, which is not bad at all for a minor second-tier cable channel.

American reviews have been somewhat mixed, but generally, unexpectedly positive.

“It is not the imagined conversations or small historical distortions that make The Kennedys both unsettling to watch and addictive,” wrote the New York Times. “This is a portrait of the Kennedy White House that is recognizable and respectful, and also prurient, giving equal weight to historic turning points and personal weaknesses. It’s well made.”

The New York Post called it “without a doubt, one of the best, most riveting, historically accurate dramas about a time and place in American history that has ever been done for TV.”

“It’s thoughtful,” insisted GQ Magazine, “an interpretation, not a mugging. While the interpretation may not be one that Camelot flame-keepers cherish, that’s not the same thing as calumny.”

The Los Angeles Times singled out B.C.-born Barry Pepper as the standout among its predominantly Canadian cast, describing him thus: “The revelation of The Kennedys ... who delivers an Emmy-deserving performance, slowly building a Bobby who becomes the family’s, and the Kennedy administration’s, spine of steel, aware of the choices and sacrifices he is making and prepared to make them every time.”

Pepper does indeed steal every scene he’s in, ably supported, as was R.F.K. in life, by Kitchener’s Kristen Booth as his pragmatic, nurturing, uncommonly fertile soulmate, Ethel.

Equally impressive is Brit import Tom Wilkinson as the stern, power-wielding Kennedy patriarch, Joe Sr., evoking actual empathy for this cold and complex man whose callous manipulations have long overshadowed his genuine love of and pride in his sons.

(That being said, the scene in which he tears a vicious verbal strip off incredulous wannabe climber Frank Sinatra may be the highlight of the entire eight hours.)

The cast weak links are, ironically, the Americans, Greg Kinnear as J.F.K. and Katie Holmes as Jackie.

Holmes is absolutely dreadful here, somnambulating her way through the entire eight hours, except for the brief, even more annoyingly perky period that she is under the questionable medical care of Jack’s “Dr. Feelgood,” Max Jacobson.

(And therein lay my biggest Kennedys revelation — the exhausted, stressed-out, back-pain incapacitated president, who could only sit or stand for minutes at a time, was apparently, by his own count, being regularly injected with almost 20 different prescription drugs.)

Kinnear is merely adequate, though through very little fault of his own. Unlike Bobby and Joe, the actual man remains essentially an emotional cipher, even at the height of a personal or political crisis, quite maddeningly unreadable.

He is also, depending on the shot, distractingly small, not only in height — his 5’10” to the real president’s 6’1” — but also in terms of the famous J.F.K. charisma.

With these two sagging down the middle of the saga — buoyed briefly by Charlotte Sullivan’s amorous, unravelling Marilyn Monroe — the story only truly soars at the beginning and at the end, when Joe Sr. and Bobby, and later Diana Hardcastle’s steely Rose, get respective room to dominate.

The period’s unprecedented political, cultural and social upheaval pretty much speaks for itself — The Kennedys lives and times, as meticulously depicted here, are never anything less than fascinating.


Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy

“I hadn’t seen anything that had been done (before) ... it’s hard enough to watch him for me. But it was an incredible job as an actor to get to be able to portray him.

“There’s obviously a number of great books; I think Robert Dallek’s An Unfinished Life is the best, kind of quintessential book about the Kennedy family and his administration. Certainly there’s an extraordinary amount of footage ... there’s also a lot of recordings of him in the White House, and there’s quite a lot to do and see and at the end of the day that only helps so much, (but) you use what you can.”

Katie Holmes as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

“When this project came up, I was so excited, and I already admired her, but the more I just learned of her, my admiration grew and I feel so honoured to be playing her.

“I’m not so worried about matching exactly what she did, because we don’t really know, and a lot of this project is filling in the blanks. She had this sort of movie star quality, and ... and beyond. She, you know, is a woman who worked very, very hard and made it look very effortless, and ultimately she did it to not only help her husband, but to help our country, and she really understood the power of, you know, if he looked like a king and she looked like a queen, well then our country looked amazing and still that’s why we look back at this time period.”

Barry Pepper as Robert Kennedy:

“Playing biographical characters like this ... you know, it’s tremendously nerve wracking and the responsibility is massive. So I think it would be an absolute joy to hear from the Kennedy family, or to hear feedback if they actually do see the series, because I think that I possibly love R.F.K. as much as they do. I really didn’t anticipate that.”

“I came into this project as a Canadian ... I just knew the broad strokes of this aristocratic American family and R.F.K. and his legacy. It wasn’t until I became deeply immersed in the production that I grew to become very ferociously protective and admire him greatly, because he was so courageous to stand up during such a volatile time in American history knowing full well what would happen to him.

“He would have made an extraordinary president. He was a passionate advocate of peace, justice and freedom, not just for Americans, but for people all over the world ... I think that now more than ever, we need men like him.”

Jon Cassar, director:

“The funny part of it all, you know, the controversy that everyone thinks, the controversy that’s there ... is really not warranted to what the show is.

“Unfortunately, the way it played out, everyone put two and two together and thought that was really what it was about. When they see it, I think people will be very surprised. It’s a wonderful story about the Kennedys, and very sensitively done.

“The rest of the world doesn’t seem to have any trouble with it, and now that Americans are finally going to see it, hopefully that’s how they’ll feel too.”

Cattrall Believes ‘Sex And The City’ Hurt Her Love Life

Source: By Bang Showbiz

(April 10, 2011) Kim Cattrall admits her man-eater role in ‘Sex and the City’ has had a negative effect on her love life.

The 54-year-old actress — who played serial dater Samantha Jones in the TV series and two films — is currently single and is looking for her ‘Mr. Right’ but thinks her racy alter-ego puts men off.

The stunning blond revealed her dating dilemma during an appearance on the ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’- which airs in the U.S. Monday.

While discussing her quest to meet a new guy, Kim said, “It’s very difficult,” to which Ellen replied, “I would think that it would be difficult, that men would be intimidated.”

The actress responded: “A little bit. Yeah. Writing a book about the female orgasm didn’t help my dating career either! Men like to think that they know it all, especially in that department.”

Kim was referring to the tome ‘Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm’, which she and her now ex-husband Mark Levinson co-wrote in 2002.

Kim’s latest role sees her play an aging porn star who turns to stripping to make money and embarks on a relationship with a 17-year-old fan in ‘Meet Monica Velour’.

Despite the film’s setting, the actress insists it is a “sweet” story.

She said: “It’s about this woman in her 50s who meets this young man who’s 17 and they have a relationship of sorts. It’s very sweet and very dear.”

Bow Wow and Ice Cube Hook up for TV Sitcom

Source: www.eurweb.com  

(April 11, 2011) *
Bow Wow, who has grown to be a budding big screen star, is moving onto the small screen. He plans to continue working with one of his primary co-stars, Ice Cube, for a possible sitcom.

The rapper/actor told allhiphop.com that he – along with Cube – have been working with Jermaine Dupri for a score for a show.

“I just spoke with JD yesterday and I got him doing the score and he is actually about to do the music for the TV show sitcom that I am doing with Ice Cube.”

“I partnered with Ice Cube and he is producing my sitcom,” the rapper continued. “I told JD when Will [Smith] had his own show, Quincy Jones did all the music so it’s only right that he does mine. So I got him doing all the scores to the TV show. I speak to JD daily.”

The details haven’t been hashed out quite yet, but what is know is that writers have been chosen for the show

Bow Wow can be seen on the big screen next in Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family.”

Jennifer Lopez Named People's Most Beautiful

Source: www.canada.com - Reuters

(April 13, 2011)
Jennifer Lopez was named People Magazine’s most beautiful woman in the world on Wednesday, capping a career comeback fuelled by her new job on top-rated TV show "American Idol".

The 41-year-old New York City-born singer and actress joined former winners Halle Berry, Jennifer Garner and Beyonce Knowles to top People's annual list of the world's most beautiful people.

"It's so crazy. Rarely am I left speechless, but I feel honoured," Lopez told People of their accolade. "I feel not worthy, you know? I feel happy and proud. Proud that I’m not 25!."

The "Wedding Planner" actress, who is married to singer Marc Anthony and took time off to have twins in 2008, has enjoyed a revival in popularity since becoming a judge this year on talent show "American Idol".

Her new single, the dance pop hit, "On The Floor," has been topping charts around the world, giving Lopez her first Top 10 Billboard single since "All I Have" in 2003.

Lopez, who was dropped by her record label in 2010 after disappointing sales, releases her first new studio album in four years in May, called "Love?".

Lopez told People she felt better now than she did in her 20s. "In my 20s, I just wasn’t there in my mind and my soul and my spirit. It’s just great to be in the position I’m in now and be able to share that with the world."

Known for her flawless skin and curvy figure, she attributed looking good to her personal life. "I think it’s because I have a lot of love in my life. I feel lucky to be an attractive person, but I’ve always felt that real beauty always comes from your heart."

Since signing up last year for "American Idol", — the most-watched TV show in the United States — Lopez has been named the celebrity face of products ranging from beauty firm L’Oreal, to Venus razors and the Gucci children’s clothes collection.

See some of the other stars that made the list

Netflix’s Mad Men Deal A Sign Of Changing Times For TV

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Fritz and Joe Flint

(April 6, 2011) LOS ANGELES—
Netflix, in a sign of its growing importance in television, will become Don Draper’s second home.

The home entertainment company has bought the rerun rights to the TV series
Mad Men, making its online streaming service the next place to watch episodes after the show’s initial airing on cable network AMC.

Netflix is already streaming the first four seasons of Mad Men in Canada.

Netflix will pay Mad Men producer Lionsgate between $750,000 and $900,000 per episode (dollar figures U.S.), according to people familiar with the situation.

The first-of-its-kind deal means that reruns for the critically acclaimed program won’t air on a broadcast or cable network, as typically is the case. It’s the first time that Netflix has bought syndication rights to a currently airing program for its online streaming service.

Though the agreement is a sign of Netflix’s growing influence in the television industry, it also underscores the tough hurdles Lionsgate might have faced trying to sell the show to a traditional network. Serialized dramas such as Mad Men do not perform well in reruns, negatively impacting their value.

For example, A&E shelled out $2.6 million per episode for reruns of HBO’s mob drama The Sopranos and the show performed poorly. Reruns of ABC’s Lost and Fox’s 24 also did not deliver good returns for various networks.

A big hit with critics, Mad Men has always had a modest audience compared with other cable shows such as TNT’s The Closer and USA’s Burn Notice. Last season, it averaged just under 3.3 million viewers per episode.

The show, however, is expensive to produce. AMC pays close to $3 million an episode for Mad Men. Lionsgate receives an additional $2 million from foreign rights and DVD sales.

The first four 13-episode seasons of Mad Men will debut on Netflix Instant on July 27. Future episodes will not become available on Netflix’s streaming service, which many people access on their televisions, until seasons are complete. Mad Men creator Matt Weiner has said he expects to produce three more seasons.

About half of the video streamed by Netflix is now television shows. The Internet service has proved particularly popular for dramas, as many people choose to “marathon” several episodes in a row of programs with intricate, continuing plotlines like Mad Men.

Simon Cowell Keeps Us Guessing On X Factor

Source: www.thestar.com - By Sarah Feldbloom, With files from Associated Press

(April 7, 2011) LOS ANGELES—Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie is in the running for a judge’s spot on the upcoming U.S. version of The X Factor, but creator Simon Cowell said Thursday that producers were still juggling dozens of names for the TV talent show.

Latin singer Gloria Estefan may also have put herself in the running by turning up unexpectedly at open auditions in Miami and spending hours mentoring some of the thousands of hopefuls looking for a spot on the show, Cowell said.

So far only the acid-tongued Brit and record executive Antonio “L.A.” Reid have been announced as judges on The X Factor, which debuts on Fox in the fall with a $5 million recording contract for the winner.

Big names ranging from singers Jessica Simpson and Mariah Carey to Cowell’s old American Idol sparring partner Paula Abdul have been mentioned in recent months.

But no final choice has been made for the one or two remaining judging spots, nor for the two hosts.

“We are still having nightly arguments with everyone, trying to get everyone to agree. If you asked everyone involved on this show who they would like on the panel, you would have 25 different opinions,” Cowell told reporters.

“It does show publicly our complete and utter indecisiveness,” he said.

Cowell confirmed media reports that Fergie, who has a solo career as well as being part of the Black Eyed Peas, is a possible contender.

“Her name was put forward. But like with a lot of other people we have spoken to, we have to check out everyone’s availability. There is lot of time you have to put into this show. It is not a two-or three-day a week job,” he said.

The X Factor judges will play a major role in mentoring and preparing contestants on the singing show.

Cowell said that Estefan may have been auditioning for a role on the panel when she turned up out of the blue in Miami on Thursday “and apparently did a fantastic job” helping contestants.

More than 20,000 people lined up for initial auditions in front of producers in Los Angeles last month. Cowell said that those unable to make it to major U.S. cities would be able to make video recordings in high-tech audition booths in cities including Honolulu, Anchorage, Nashville and Kansas City.

“It probably isn’t as fun as attending an open audition, but it is your chance to be seen and heard and I’m going to try to put these in as many cities as possible,” Cowell said.

Those invited to the booths to sing must be at least 12 years old and can be solo artists or vocal groups. Each audition will be sent to the show’s producers and those selected will take part in callbacks.

Cowell hopes his show will produce audition moments that go viral.

“You want a moment where something magical happens in the audition room and then, outside of people watching the show, they’re interested in the clip and I’m always very, very aware of that,” he said.

“You look at what happened to Rebecca (Black),” he continued, referring to the 13-year-old Internet sensation of the song “Friday.” “She’s gonna be laughing all the way to the bank. This would never have happened 10 years ago. Now she’s known all over the world.”

EUR Hangs with the Braxtons

Source: www.eurweb.com - By: Ricardo A. Hazell

(April 12, 2011) *Last night, Monday April 11, I was lucky enough to be
invited down to the Pranna restaurant on Madison Ave and 28th street by the industrious ladies of the 135th St Agency (PR firm) to meet the lovely Braxton sisters and their rock strong mother.

Though I was the last to arrive due to traffic, my tardiness had a rare fortuitous effect. I was sitting within arm’s length of everyone except Tamar Braxton, the young firebrand who would be a star in her own right, and Momma Braxton who sat at the end of the row.

And I’m not talking about one of my arm lengths either, because I have quite the wingspan. I’m talking about the considerably less pronounced wingspans of Toni, Towanda, and Traci.

Though the women were there to promote their upcoming show Braxton Family Values on WeTV, Toni and the gang weren’t hesitant in veering off to talk about other subjects of interest.

The conversation steered towards Trina’s alcohol abuse, Mom’s divorce after 35 years, Towanda’s open marriage (How YOU doin’?), Tamar’s own superstar aspirations and much more.

Braxton Family Values is as real as it gets in reality television. Toni and I talk at length about her fight with lupus, parenting an autistic child and discussed my own child, who is also autistic.

Though I could be wrong, I had the slightest inclination that the ladies gave a damn about the plight of my children. Again, I could be wrong and if I am then they all should be actresses instead of singers because they had me fooled.

EURweb will feature those interviews in their entirety as soon as the interview tapes are transcribed. In the meantime, tune in to WeTV and check out Braxton Family Values tonight at 9/8c.

Jamie Oliver Takes A Second Run At Changing How America Eats

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(April 11, 2011) The great food fight carries on for
Jamie Oliver. The chipper Brit continues to work to change North American eating habits in the second season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

Over the past dozen years, Oliver has evolved from celebrity chef to one of the world's leading advocates on sound nutrition. On his first series, The Naked Chef, he extolled the virtues of exotic meals with simple ingredients ("naked" refers to simplified recipes; he never actually got naked).

He followed the success of that show with Oliver's Twist, Jamie's Kitchen and Jamie's Kitchen Australia. Then in 2005, he hosted the documentary series Jamie's School Dinners, which took aim at the poor-quality meals at a school in Greenwich and led to his larger drive to improve school meals throughout Britain. With shows such as Jamie's Ministry of Food and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, he's expanded the campaign to try to help adults, first in Britain and now in America, learn to prepare healthier food.

On the Food Revolution's first season, Oliver brought his fresh-eating approach to the town of Huntington, W. Va., "the unhealthiest city in America," and was warmly greeted. In the new season, he's set his sights on Los Angeles, where his cause was not nearly as well-received. Before production began, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) banned him from filming in schools. Oliver spoke to us in a telephone interview from L.A.

How did the first season of Food Revolution prepare you for this series?

We really went into the eye of the storm last year. In Huntington, everything we set up is still running and successful. They're running with it. What's really nice is that two moms in the neighbouring district to Huntington are doing the same thing and are now rolling out fresh food in schools. The L.A. show is really about bigging up and trying to spread the word in a more efficient way.

Why Los Angeles?

I felt L.A. was perfectly situated to inspire people across the state and around the world to eat healthier. In L.A., you've got some of the healthiest and fit people in the world and some of the most wonderful food in the world, but you've also got some of the most incredible poverty - and food deserts, where people without cars have to spend two or three hours on a round trip in order to get fresh food. It's an amazing example.

Did you think L.A. would be easier or harder?

I never think anything involving changing hearts or minds is going to be easy. Certainly not when civic bodies and education authorities are involved.

Were you surprised when the L.A. school board forbid you to film in their schools?

To be honest, I never expected to be banned from every single school in the district. That was a shock. Throughout the course of the series, there's a tension between myself and the LAUSD. Since then, the parents and teachers and students themselves have made it pretty clear they would like me to be involved.

You're still shooting the show. Has the situation changed?

The LAUSD just got a new superintendent, starting any day now. I'm hoping he's going to have a different strategy about being open to the public and showing people what they're feeding kids 180 days a year. I want to work with them. My goal is certainly not to fight with the LAUSD. If anything, I want them to use me to do stuff that's positive. I'm hoping we can still address that, but at the moment it's pretty much a stalemate.

Were the school boards outside L.A. County more receptive?

We tried for four months to get into the LAUSD to no avail. We phoned up the Santa Barbara district and within two hours we had all our permissions granted and we were filming the next day.

Do you ever get discouraged by some people's unwillingness to eat healthy?

Food Revolution is not the prettiest show in the world to make. It's not all joy and bouncing around. It can be fairly depressing. When doors get slammed in your face, it often feels like you're not doing the cause a service. The one thing I'm proud of this year is that although the LAUSD stuff is a problem, we did get very close to the poor communities in L.A. and to young teens and kids, and we addressed some important topics like fast food.

The second season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution debuts tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC and A.

BET Announces New Malcolm Jamal Warner/Tracee Ellis Ross Series

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 13, 2011) *BET, the top network for African Americans, announced plans for a new scripted series titled “Reed Between the Lines,” a family comedy starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Tracee Ellis Ross, due in October.

They’ll play professional parents (she’s a psychologist, he’s an English professor) of three kids.

The network is developing two more new comedies for next summer, and BET is exploring its first foray into drama, developing a movie for 2012, according to USA Today.

The stunning success of “The Game” has been a driving force behind the recent programming decisions. In January, two years after CW cancelled the comedy about retired football players and the women in their lives, BET – which had been airing syndicated reruns of the series – launched new episodes.

The fourth-season premiere drew 7.7 million viewers, cable’s biggest comedy opener ever, more than doubling the show’s previous peak. All told, the winter season averaged 5.3 million; while companion series “Let’s Stay Together” claimed 2.9 million. BET’s prime-time audience jumped 24 percent to 950,000 viewers, its most-watched quarter ever.

Both shows have been renewed for 22-episode seasons and return in January.

BET’s CEO, Debra Lee, calls the results an “empowering and satisfying” payoff for its entry into scripted programming, years after the network took heat for a steady diet of suggestive hip-hop videos. (It’s lone previous attempt at scripted programming, the 2008 comedy “Somebodies,” fizzled.)

“Our community is still starved for good original programming,” Lee says. “The networks haven’t had much to offer the last few years, and people are hungry.”

Fox, WB and UPN, partly built on programming aimed at black audiences, have dropped it or no longer exist, and CW stopped airing comedies in 2009.

So the success reminded Hollywood and Madison Avenue about the value of African-American viewers, who watch more TV than any other group. The audience “is extremely loyal,” says original-programming chief Loretha Jones, “and if you deliver a quality show to them week to week, they’ll show up.”

“Game” creator Mara Brock Akil says the new home is a better fit with more marketing support. At CW, “our numbers were competing with ‘Gossip Girl,’ which got all the money and attention.” And unlike Tyler Perry’s broad family sitcoms on TBS, the show’s adult appeal “allows us to deal with characters who are more complicated and flawed,” she says.

BET Announces New Malcolm Jamal Warner/Tracee Ellis Ross Series

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 13, 2011) *BET, the top network for African Americans, announced plans for a new scripted series titled “Reed Between the Lines,” a family comedy starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Tracee Ellis Ross, due in October.

They’ll play professional parents (she’s a psychologist, he’s an English professor) of three kids.

The network is developing two more new comedies for next summer, and BET is exploring its first foray into drama, developing a movie for 2012, according to USA Today.

The stunning success of “The Game” has been a driving force behind the recent programming decisions. In January, two years after CW cancelled the comedy about retired football players and the women in their lives, BET – which had been airing syndicated reruns of the series – launched new episodes.

The fourth-season premiere drew 7.7 million viewers, cable’s biggest comedy opener ever, more than doubling the show’s previous peak. All told, the winter season averaged 5.3 million; while companion series “Let’s Stay Together” claimed 2.9 million. BET’s prime-time audience jumped 24 percent to 950,000 viewers, its most-watched quarter ever.

Both shows have been renewed for 22-episode seasons and return in January.

BET’s CEO, Debra Lee, calls the results an “empowering and satisfying” payoff for its entry into scripted programming, years after the network took heat for a steady diet of suggestive hip-hop videos. (It’s lone previous attempt at scripted programming, the 2008 comedy “Somebodies,” fizzled.)

“Our community is still starved for good original programming,” Lee says. “The networks haven’t had much to offer the last few years, and people are hungry.”

Fox, WB and UPN, partly built on programming aimed at black audiences, have dropped it or no longer exist, and CW stopped airing comedies in 2009.

So the success reminded Hollywood and Madison Avenue about the value of African-American viewers, who watch more TV than any other group. The audience “is extremely loyal,” says original-programming chief Loretha Jones, “and if you deliver a quality show to them week to week, they’ll show up.”

“Game” creator Mara Brock Akil says the new home is a better fit with more marketing support. At CW, “our numbers were competing with ‘Gossip Girl,’ which got all the money and attention.” And unlike Tyler Perry’s broad family sitcoms on TBS, the show’s adult appeal “allows us to deal with characters who are more complicated and flawed,” she says.

The Office: Michael's Long Goodbye

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Debra Yeo

(April 11, 2011)  Steve Carell's Michael Scott gets an extra long episode to say goodbye.  NBC announced Monday afternoon that Steve Carell's last episode of The Office, on April 28, will be longer than usual: 50 minutes instead of the usual 30, which will bump Parks and Recreation to a later time slot and a 40-minute running time. Carell is leaving the comedy and taking his clueless office manager character, Michael Scott, with him. Meanwhile, movie actor Will Ferrell will begin the first of a four-episode arc on the series this Thursday.

Steven Tyler, Author

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Debra Yeo

(April 12, 2011)  Aerosmith singer. American Idol judge. Author. Is there anything that Steven Tyler can't do (except maybe provide actual criticism of an Idol contestant)? The 63-year-old rock icon has a new memoir coming out May 3, called Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? Tyler is promising to share "all the unexpurgated, brain-jangling tales of debauchery, sex and drugs, transcendence and chemical dependence you will ever want to hear." Of course that means that it won't be suitable reading for many of the youngsters who wildly cheer Steven every Wednesday and Thursday night on Idol. Maybe when they're older. It’s not the performer's first book. He and his bandmates wrote Walk This Way with Steven David, released in 1997.


Our Class Offers Powerful Acting In A Perplexing Play

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

Our Class
By Tadeusz Slobodzianek. Directed by Joel Greenberg. Until Apr. 30 at Berkeley St. Theatre Downstairs, 26 Berkeley St. 416-368-3110.

(April 8, 2011) The first act of
Our Class, which opened Thursday night at the Berkeley Street Theatre, is such a harrowing piece of drama that you're likely to find yourself stunned as you find your way into the lobby at intermission.

“How are they ever going to follow this?” is the question you'll ask and the only disappointing thing about this otherwise excellent production is that the answer is ,“They don't.”

Based on an actual historic event from 1941, Our Class tells the story of how virtually the entire Jewish population of a town in Poland were put to death by the very gentiles they had grown up with since childhood.

As we see young men and women who were once inseparable gradually grow apart, learn to hate and turn on each other with horrific violence, the only response is to hold your breath and wait in horror for the worst to come.

But after it has happened and Act I is over, the second act, which tracks the path of those who survived, is not only anticlimactic, but a bit puzzling. What are we supposed to learn from the fact that not only the murderers, but the few surviving Jews all seem equally damned and tortured by their existence?

Having voiced those concerns, it must be said that Joel Greenberg’s staging and the work of his entire cast in this Studio 180 production is excellent.

Space prohibits giving everyone the attention they deserve, but Amy Rutherford’s Madonna/whore victim, David Beazely’s first to die, Mark McGrinder’s conflicted hero, Ryan Hollyman’s near-psychotic zealot and Michael Rubenfeld’s most amiable of rabbi's with a fondness for lists are all brilliant performances.

Our Class may not be the greatest of plays, but it raises important questions and provides a platform for some superb theatre.

Sometimes that can be enough.

Fiona Reid: Showing Us Everything She’s Got

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Apr 09, 2011) No one should be surprised that
Fiona Reid will be appearing naked on the stage of the Royal Alexandra Theatre starting April 15 in the play, Calendar Girls, because, to tell the truth, she’s been letting it all hang out for her entire life.

Usually, the nudity has been emotional, because a Reid performance is always marked by its unvarnished honesty, but there have been previous occasions of physical revelation as well.

“Don’t you remember me in Indian Ink at CanStage?” she asks with a decided note of disappointment. “I was naked there, too. Okay, it was behind a screen and I had my arms raised in the air in my best Vanity Fair posture, but I was naked.”

Reid doesn’t want the nudity factor to overwhelm the fact that Calendar Girls is “a marvellous life-affirming story.” It tells the true story of a group of British women of a certain age who decide to create a “naughty” calendar as a fundraising device after one of their husbands dies of leukemia.

“It’s all about how you just start out wanting to do something fun and wind up doing something remarkable.”

Of course, that could also be the story of Reid’s whole life, as well.

She was born in Kent, England in 1951 (yes, she’s just a few months shy of her 60th birthday), one of three children born to a military man and his wife.

I’ve talked to Reid literally dozens of times over the years, but it’s only today that she reveals the fact that “my mother contracted polio when I was only one year old, just after we moved to Germany. She was in a lot of pain, but I recently discovered her nursing notes where she told her caregiver ‘I have three children and I have to be up in my wheelchair peeling potatoes.’”

When asked how her father coped with this, her voice drops a few octaves. “He had a little bit of taste and got on with it. He liked his whiskey, my father did. He took well to commanding people. I’m sure he told her to get out of her bed and start keeping house again.

“In his cups, he’d always tell people she was ‘A damn fine woman,’ but I never heard him say that to her face.”

Reid was the youngest of her family with an older brother and older sister. “I was the wild-card of the group. I think parents forget all about disciplining by the time the third one comes along.

“We also moved every third year to a different country, which you think would have bonded us together. Au contraire, it resulted in a certain amount of sibling rivalry which I don’t think has abated yet after all these years.”

Reid finally arrived in Toronto to stay at the age of 12, after which her father resigned his commission.

“I felt a sense of belonging in this country the moment I arrived and it’s never left. I love Canada, corny though it may be to say it.”

That was also the time Reid decided that theatre would be her life and “I tried to get into every play that Lawrence Park Collegiate presented during my time there and I never got cast, not once.

“So I switched to music and did rather well. But it’s also not a bad preparation for an actor. You learn rhythm and timing and all those important things in both disciplines.”

She went on to McGill University and also found herself at Banff during the summers at their School of Fine Arts.

“Robert Graham was my first teacher. I remember the day we did a presentation and he commented on what everyone else did, but not on me. I chased him down the path and said ‘Mr. Graham, what about me? WHAT ABOUT ME?’ And he sighed, ‘Miss Reid, try to be a bit less intense.’”

She sighs ruefully. “Oh I wish I’d chilled a lot earlier in life, but I was convinced that if I chilled, that would be the end of my talent and that mediocrity would rule my life.”

Luckily for Canadian show business, that didn’t happen. Reid plunged into Toronto theatre during those heady days of the 1970s when an actor was free to try anything and usually did.

“I remember playing Gretel Braun, Eva Braun’s sister, in a play about Hitler called Blitzkrieg! Then I went into a mad Tarragon show called The Group of Seven and the Case of the Glowing Pine, then I spent a season with Second City and finally it was on to TV and Coming up Rosie.”

And then came King of Kensington. The 24-year-old Reid was the least likely of candidates to play Al Waxman’s wife, but somehow it worked and it made Reid a household name.

“But silly me didn’t want to stay put and so I left after three seasons, just thinking that life would take me wherever I wanted it to.”

And for quite a while, it did. Reid was the darling of the Festivals (both Stratford and Shaw) as well as every regional theatre in the country.

She’d also met Mac Thomas and fallen in love with him, getting married in 1977 and eventually having two children, Alec (now 25) and Julia (23).

“I try to teach my children the lessons I found out on my own. Take your rejection now, I tell them, learn to be resilient now. It’s hard in your mid 30s.”

That was when one of the fallow periods in Reid’s career occurred and, by her own admission, there have been several others since, even though she seems to be on a roll at the moment.

“I’ve always taken a failure to get work as a reflection on me, which is just plain stupid. The older you get, the more you realize how precious life itself is, rather than just worrying about a series of jobs.”

Reid has learned this the hard way in the past decade. First her father died suddenly in 2002 and then her mother started the slow but painful descent into Alzheimer’s.

“We’re dealing with just the essence of Becky now,” says Reid wistfully, “but with little of the capacity. She still wants to help, she still wants to be part of life, part of what we’re doing, but ….”

There’s a long pause and then she speaks in a distant voice. “That’s life, isn’t it? You have your kids needing you, your parents needing you ….”

And then last year came the news that her husband Mac had coronary artery disease. An angioplasty eased the burden but “now we’re living a whole new life. I’ve become a vegetarian at the age of 60. Imagine.

“It’s actually not that funny. We haven’t shored away our shekels. We’re stretched a bit too thin. We need to take a step back and ask ‘How do we get to the next part of our lives?’”

But then the indomitable Reid picks herself up again to end the conversation with Calendar Girls. “Ah yes, the bloody nudity! Am I now looking as buff as I ever did? God, no. Let me just say that I’ve decided I’m the one out there who represents humanity in all its flaws.”


MAGGIE SMITH: She’s so brilliant with timing and tasting her words. I almost love her more in her serious work. She tore me apart in that unforgettable goodbye scene with Vershinin in John Hirsch’s Stratford production of The Three Sisters.

VANESSA REDGRAVE: So sheer in all that she does, so quietly passionate. She cuts straight to the heart.

SUSAN WRIGHT: Well, she knocked the socks off any show she was in. I loved her courage, her guts. In one show we did, the director wanted Susie to be more ladylike, and she basically said to him “This is what you get”. She wouldn’t know pretense if she fell into it.

JENNIFER PHIPPS: Electrifying when she’s on stage. She’s taught me so much about obeying one’s instinct and sense of truth.

GINA WILKINSON: Deeply intelligent, drop dead gorgeous, and truly, the most completely generous person you could ever hope to meet. I wanted to be directed by her. I imagine it would feel like being bathed in warm bright light.

Heidi Strauss Premieres Her New Dance Work, Still Here At Factory Theatre

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

Factory Theatre & Adelheid: Still Here
Choreography by Heidi Strauss. Until April 17 at Factory Studio Theatre, 125 Bathurst. 416.504.9971 or www.factorytheatre.ca

(April 8, 2011) Intimate spaces lend themselves to intimate theatre, which explains why dancer/choreographer
Heidi Strauss and her latest solo work, still here, fit so compatibly into Factory Theatre’s studio.

Strauss, a Dora-winning veteran of Toronto’s contemporary dance scene and Factory’s dance-artist-in-residence, invites us to share an essentially personal, introspective experience pitched somewhere between present reality, dream and conscious recollection.

The 55-minute work’s title carries a suggestion of survival and within still here’s recurring, layered patterns there is a sense that Strauss is a woman who has learned to cope with shifting sands and life’s imponderables.

Factory’s adaptable studio is configured with most of the audience tiered at one end and the remainder seated in single rows along the side.

The focus of this arena is an elevated platform, a high and expansive table that’s backed by a set-piece wall. Designer Julie Fox covers it with a monotone, pictorial layer depicting a room interior with a window hazily looking out onto trees and distant buildings.

There’s also a high shelf supporting the kind of ancient rabbit-ears TV set you might find in a rundown motel. The screen is mostly a scrambled blur but at key points video and sound designer Jeremy Mimnagh throws up images — flowers blooming, sparkling northern lakes and landscapes — that contrast in liberating fashion to the somewhat forbidding confines of the room Strauss finds herself in.

Except, of course, it’s a room of the imagination and of shifting perspectives; the confines as much emotional as physical. It’s a symbolic setting from which Strauss’s character, having relived and reflected on her life — the intermittent music often has an episodic, retro theme — is able to move beyond.

This, at least, is one way of interpreting a work that purposefully avoids specific narrative — even through successive costume changes — and whose physical language is equally off-kilter, upended, coiled and inward turning.

Strauss essays exuberantly dynamic movement then cuts it short. She suspends herself from the table’s edge, crawls beneath it as if into an emotional cavern.

There are unseen demons, remembered regrets, pains and little triumphs; a complicated, sometimes inexplicable life that only makes sense if you don’t try to make too much sense of it.

Actor Wayne Robson Dead At 65

Source: www.canada.com - National Post

(April 13, 2011) The Stratford Shakespeare Festival announced
Tuesday the death of actor and company member, Wayne Robson, 65.

Robson, who was set to make his debut in Stratford this season playing Grandpa in The Grapes of Wrath, died peacefully at home.

“In the brief period since Wayne joined the Festival company, he very quickly became close to us all with his enthusiasm, good humour and enormous talent,'' said general director Antoni Cimolino, in a statement.

“He was generous in sharing stories from his past and from his vast experience in theatre across many countries, dating back to the 1960s.''

The actor had appeared in more than 100 theatre productions in Canada, 30 feature films and 120 television productions, including 12 seasons on The Red Green Show.

Robson leaves behind children Ivy and Louis, and his wife Lynn.


Teen Entrepreneur Looks To Score With Ads In Games

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press

(Apr. 12, 2011) Nineteen-year-old Vancouver native Brian Wong
believes the future of mobile advertising isn't in the banner ad, but inside video games.

And so far, his company
Kiip (pronounced keep) has convinced the likes of Dr. Pepper, GNC, Sephora, Sony and 1-800-Flowers.com to give their wares away to gamers who beat a tricky level or set new high scores.

The exposure from pop-up offers giving away free products is far more effective for marketers than ads that are rarely clicked, Wong maintains.

“Here I am in New York sitting in front of top media execs and brand marketers trying to convince them that giving away free stuff is a viable business model,” laughed Wong on Monday, as Kiip went public and began rolling out its in-game ads.

Wong has not yet revealed which 15 mobile games Kiip has been
integrated into, although he said there will be “an exciting announcement” in two weeks about specific titles and publishers.

Kiip is insisting that advertisers give away products of real value, Wong said. He argues that such gifts will encourage other purchases and build customer loyalty. The least expensive freebie currently on offer is valued at about $5, he added.

“I had people come up to us and say ‘Ooh, let's give away five per cent coupons,' and I said, ‘Absolutely not, that's not what we're all about,' We're not a coupon distribution channel, we're about value, we're about rewards, we're about gifting, we're about making people feel like they've received something meaningful,” Wong said.

“So it was then a challenge of curation and bringing together great partners. That's why we came out all guns blazing with amazing brands because people take one look at these brands and go, ‘Wow, this is actually real, these are top-tier consumer brands not a bunch of random retailers we've never heard of.“’

Canadians probably won't see Kiip ads in games until later this year, although Wong said national brands “with a major presence in Canada” are onboard.

Wong said he's looking forward to heading home for Mother's Day next month, to celebrate his mom and an amazing year for the entrepreneur.

It was around this time last year that Wong, who moved to San Francisco at 18 for a job with the website Digg, was laid off about four months into the gig. He had yet to tell his parents the bad news when he returned home to see his mom.

“I'm not going to lie, dude, obviously getting laid off at the age of 19 is not something I recommend, it's not a good experience. It was a very shocking thing that happened, I thought I was going to be at this company to build my career, a foundation of experience and meet many great people,” Wong said.

“It was very difficult, and then you have to tell your entire family. I remember coming back home a day before Mother's Day without my parents actually knowing because I couldn't bring myself to tell them.

“I told my parents when I got home and my mom told me it was the worst Mother's Day present she'd ever gotten.”

But this year, the family has reasons to be popping champagne. Last week, Kiip announced that it had secured $4-million (U.S.) in investment funding.

“This year has been a lot better than last year,” said Wong. “(Getting laid off) was a dip in my career but I think it was the best opportunity I could get.”

Video Games Live Powers Up For Another Tour

Source: www.canada.com - By Francois Marchand, Postmedia News

(April 13, 2011) Is video game music a legitimate form of art?

Tommy Tallarico has been trying to answer that question with a resounding "yes" for the past six years with his symphonic multimedia spectacle Video Games Live.

"Isn't art something that moves people?" Tallarico asks. "You can't listen to Nobuo Uematsu's music from Final Fantasy and tell me it's not just as good if not better than most film scores.

"I would go on record as saying video game music is the most heard and listened to music in the world right now. Look at how much time people spend on World of Warcraft. It would be like putting on your favourite album by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or The Beatles on repeat for 40 hours every week. That's what millions of people are doing."

Tallarico, who co-created the event with fellow video game music composer Jack Wall, has seen just how much the
Video Games Live phenomenon, which blends live orchestral and rock performances of music from classics such as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Metal Gear, God of War and Halo with onscreen visuals, has grown over the past six years

"Every year it's been getting bigger," Tallarico says, adding that from a mere three performances in 2005, the live event is now performed by a variety of symphonies close to 60 times a year across the globe.

The event was even featured in a televised PBS special in 2010 and had a live album crack the Billboard Top 10, proving that the complexity and intensity of video game scores and their interactive nature resonate deeply with their audience.

"We still have a long way to go to convince everyone that video game music is art and it's legitimate music," Tallarico says. "But I think it says a lot about how people seem connected to this music. It's like the soundtrack of their lives, you know? When you play a game and you hear that music while you're in control of that player, people get emotionally attached to the music. It's theirs.

"People cry during our show all the time -- I always hear someone say, 'Man, Zelda started playing and I just started bawling because it meant so much to me and brought me back to when I was a kid.'"

Video Games Live is undeniably a big draw for young audiences, but Tallarico says VGL has also had a great impact on older generations as well, even affecting the city symphonies invited to join Tallarico on stage throughout the tour.

Tallarico talks about how VGL has garnered a certain level of prestige through his bringing such incredible organizations on stage with him, but also how it has also helped bring symphonies back into the mainstream.

"These are prestigious symphonies that normally play Stravinsky and Mozart and Tchaikovsky that are now playing Zelda, Mario and Space Invaders. For the audience, it's great. For us, it's great. But I'll tell you who it's really great for: The symphonies.

"The main reason I created Video Games Live was to prove to the world how culturally significant and artistic video games had become, but a side version of that goal was to help usher in a whole new generation to appreciate the art of the symphony."

In fact, symphonies around North America and across the globe now contact Tallarico on a regular basis to set up VGL events due to their popularity and the new fans they bring in.

"Does it bring kids back to the symphony afterwards? The answer is undoubtedly, 'Yes,'" Tallarico says. "After every show I do, I'll get at least one or two emails from parents that say, 'Hey, we brought the kids to your show last night and it was their first time at the symphony. I just wanted to let you know my eight-year-old daughter just told me she wanted to take violin lessons so she could learn the music to Kingdom Hearts.'"

Tallarico, who was raised on a steady diet of rock 'n' roll in the '70s -- how could he not, having Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler (born Tallarico) as a cousin? -- had a similar light bulb moment when he first encountered John Williams and his Star Wars score in 1977.

"When I heard the music to Star Wars, it was the first time I paid attention to what a symphony was," he says. "And then I found out Williams was a fan of Beethoven and Mozart so I followed that trail, and I knew that was what I wanted to do.

"So because of pop culture, I ended up becoming a composer. The same thing is now happening with video games. People are picking up instruments and getting into classical music because of video games."

The same effect can be seen with the popularity of music video games such as Rock Band, Guitar Hero and DJ Hero, which have boosted sales of musical instruments all over the place.

Tallarico adds that for many bands nowadays, the key can often be to find a licensing opportunity getting a song onto a video game soundtrack.

Tallarico is no stranger to Canadian audiences. Video game fans still recognize him as the former co-host to The Electric Playground (as well as spinoff Reviews on the Run), which he co-created with Victor Lucas.

Though Tallarico hasn't appeared on the Playground in a while due to his hectic schedule, he still feels a particular connection to Vancouver, where he used to spend a week per month working on the TV show before launching his successful live venture.

"I hear they've got seven new guys but the show is the same," he adds with a laugh. "I like to kid Vic and say, 'Jeez, you had to get seven guys to replace me?'"

Tour dates include: Victoria April 15, Calgary April 17, Edmonton April 18, Saskatoon April 20, Regina April 21, Winnipeg April 22 and 23, Ottawa April 29, Montreal April 20 and Toronto May 2.


A Swanky Holiday Inn Opens In Downtown Toronto

Source: www.thestar.com - Adrian Brijbassi

(Apr 7, 2011) “It’s not your parents’
Holiday Inn.” So says Steve Yates, general manager of the hotel’s newly opened downtown Toronto location at 30 Carlton St.

More swanky, more cosmopolitan and quite a bit more attractive than you might expect, the Holiday Inn Downtown Centre is the latest achievement for a brand that has just completed a massive billion-dollar global relaunch. The grand opening on Wednesday night featured a tour for media members as well as a dinner presentation from Christopher Moreland, executive chef of the hotel’s flagship restaurant, The Carlton.

The 23-floor hotel takes over the space previously held by the Days Inn on a stretch of the city long overdue for significant revitalization since the Leafs vacated Maple Leaf Gardens. It has 513 rooms, including 24 suites with kitchen facilities and sleeping capacity for four. The standard rooms are 240 square feet, with prices for a weekend night in April starting at $109 before taxes, according to the booking engine on the hotel’s website.

Gone are the thick comforters that didn’t get laundered nearly enough and the heavy-duty carpeting that always looked a little too grungy. Now, plush linens are on the beds and they receive daily laundry service. Rooms also have 32-inch LG TVs, MP3 docking stations and toiletry products from Bath & Body Works. Other surprises include a pleasantly lit and spacious lobby that features a custom-made scent for the hotel.

“We wanted to be the premier Holiday Inn hotel in Canada and I think this hotel certainly sets the stage for Holiday Inn as an overall brand,” says Yates, whose location employs 200 people.

With Moreland’s restaurant, he thinks the property could become a destination for locals as well as travellers.

“This outlet here has the potential to be a sustainable — and that’s a challenge in the restaurant business, to be sustainable —, successful, community-focused restaurant,” Yates says. “It will be marketed separately from the hotel, but it is owned and operated by the hotel and will fulfill room-service orders and fit the needs of our banquet catering business.”

The 106-seat Carlton does have a lot of potential, especially with the Carlton Cinemas on the same block. Dinner entrée prices range from $18 for spaghettini with mushroom ragout to $35 for Beef Wellington, which might be a little pricey for the neighbourhood. But the food is good and Moreland has a long resume, including director of restaurant operations at White Oaks in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The hotel’s $20-million conversion from the Days Inn took 14 months and coincided with the biggest brand relaunch ever undertaken in the industry. It affected 3,400 properties globally, including approximately 160 in Canada. Some of the franchises were closed or cut from the Holiday Inn roster.

“We had some difficult decisions to make. Some of our partners either weren’t willing or weren’t financially able to make the journey with us during this effort,” says Gopal Rao, regional vice president of sales and marketing for IHG Canada, the parent of Holiday Inn and InterContinental.

He said only two Holiday Inns in Canada will close, but wouldn’t specify where they were located.

The re-branding has resulted in a boost in ratings for Holiday Inn, which is now designated as “Upper Midscale” (along with brands such as Wyndham Garden and Comfort Inn) and not “Midscale” (ie: Howard Johnson, Best Western) in rankings by STR, which tracks trends and performance for the hotel industry. The completion of the relaunch comes prior to Holiday Inn’s 60th anniversary celebrations, which will take place in 2012.

The Holiday Inn is the latest hotel to open in downtown Toronto, which is experiencing a boom in the accommodations industry. Although it’s not in the class of the more celebrated Ritz-Carlton and Thompson, it does fill a need for hotel rooms and with the up-market touches and mid-range pricing, it figures to do well.

Antigua Has So Many Beaches, Why Settle For Just One?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gloria Galloway

(March 25, 2011) The road to Rendezvous Bay on
Antigua's south shore is not for the faint-hearted.

Just over two kilometres long, it winds up and over one of the tallest coastal hills on this gem of an island in the eastern Caribbean. At some points, it is little more than a goat path strewn with boulders and half-metre crevasses deep enough to swallow a small car. At others, it is not a road at all - just a rock face sloping toward the Caribbean Sea.

But my husband had talked often about making the trip on foot about 20 years ago, expounding on the beauty and seclusion that waited at the end of an arduous trek. And we had rented a four-wheel drive for the express purpose of getting to places that others would not see.

So over the hill we went, stopping often while I climbed out to plot the best route over an especially tricky patch of ground.

Two hours later, we were on a half-kilometre of white, windswept sand caressed by azure waters - a beach so pristine that our footsteps were the only visible evidence of humans having spent time there.

It was not the only beach we had to ourselves during the 11 days we spent in Antigua. There were many moments when we could have doffed our clothes without fear of locals or other tourists stumbling across our path. But the hours we spent playing in the breakers, letting the waves toss us out to sea then back to shore were confirmation that we had planned this trip to the West Indies exactly right.

My husband and I are veterans of all-inclusive vacations. They are wonderful places if you don't want to plan meals or do much more than relax on a beach or poolside. But there is no way of knowing exactly what you are getting until you arrive. And, at many, you spend your days cheek by jowl with other guests, fighting for lounge chairs and lining up for reservations for dinner.

This vacation was a 50th-birthday gift to ourselves and we decided to do something different.

So we bought return flights to Antigua, booked a Jeep, packed light and reserved a hotel for the first three nights. The remaining time would be spent wherever the wind took us. In the end, we agreed we would never do it any other way.

We stayed in four different hotels and resorts, choosing according to what we wanted to do the following day.

We spent our time travelling roads with fabulous ocean vistas, grabbing lunch at uncrowded beach restaurants, and soaking in the sun on huge swaths of sand with no one else in sight.

Our first accommodation - the one we booked by Internet from Canada - was at Dickenson Bay Cottages. This was a clean, well-appointed, two-storey villa complete with a full kitchen that provided a great home base for exploring. But there was no view and the heavily populated beach was a challenging hike down a steep hill.

The next two nights were spent on the opposite corner of the island, at English Harbour where, more than 200 years ago, Admiral Horatio Nelson sheltered and repaired his fleet. We found the Copper and Lumber Store Hotel as we were wandering around Nelson's Dockyard. It is an amazing building, built in 1789 from bricks that were used as ships' ballast. The large rooms have been exquisitely restored with broad ceiling beams, copper fixtures and heavily varnished wood floors. The knowledgeable staff included the uber-friendly Lawrence and Eloise, who sat down with us and offered tips about Antiguan sites not to be missed.

Our next stop was Sugar Ridge, a resort overlooking Jolly Harbour with a fabulous pool bar set high on the hillside. We had noticed it as we drove down the west coast. The balcony of our room had its own plunge pool, where we cooled off after hot days of exploring. But this was the most expensive accommodation of our trip - the three nights at Sugar Ridge cost as much as the other seven nights combined - and, although breakfast was included, we didn't think the extra expense was worth the cash. (The rates online are now less than half the $400 per night that we paid, an amount that was advertised as a sale price at the time.)

Finally, we returned to Dickenson Bay, but this time we stayed at the Trade Winds Hotel, with an expansive view of the turquoise Caribbean. We found it online and scouted out the property on one of our excursions. The Trade Winds was an excellent choice in every respect, from the food, to the service, to the spacious and comfortable room. But the view from our balcony was best.

Throughout our adventure, our newly acquired iPad made the trip easier. We used it to plot the next day's outings, to play music during the late afternoons on our balcony, to catch up with the news back home over coffee in the morning, and to scout accommodation. At one resort, we ended up booking a room from the iPad in the lobby because the staff at the front desk could not match the online price offered by one of the major Internet travel agencies. We were also astounded at the places where free Wi-Fi was available, including the tiny beach bars - and the beaches surrounding them.

One day we spent duty-free shopping in St. John's, glad that we were not part of the crowd getting off the mammoth cruise ship docked at Heritage Quay. One day we explored the national park in the hills surrounding Nelson's Dockyard. One day we sought out a tiny rasta bar, off the beaten track, where we were the only paying guests.

And one day we got completely lost in the island's lush interior as we followed what the map said was a road but which turned out to be little more than a dirt track through banana plantations. Laughing at ourselves, we somehow got our little truck turned around on a trail just large enough for one set of tires and worked our way out of a mud pit while local farmers in dreadlocks looked at us shaking their heads.

The food at local restaurants was wonderful, and lobster is offered everywhere for about $20 a plate. An excellent selection of imported wine can be bought at the island's spacious grocery stores, where prices are nearly on par with those in Canada. (Beer, and rum and Coke, costs between $3 and $5 at beach bars.) On a Sunday afternoon, in Nelson's Dockyard, we watched the National Football League playoffs with a bunch of Americans in a dumpy-looking pub called the Mad Mongoose - they served the best mahi-mahi either of us have ever tasted.

But it was the beaches that we will remember best. They say Antigua has 365 of them - one for every day of the year. On the Saturday before we flew home, we decided to try as many as we could. We started with a breakfast at Jackee's Restaurant on Dockyard Drive and then worked our way along the south and west coasts, stopping for a dip at every beach we saw. We had many to ourselves; others we shared with just a handful of other sun seekers. By beach No. 12, we were exhausted.

At the end of 11 days, we had covered a few hundred kilometres on Antigua's heavily potholed, and adventure-filled roads. But we were relaxed and ready to rejoin the world, leaving behind those beautiful stretches of coastline that, for a brief time, had been our own private retreats.


Dickenson Bay Cottages: From $131. Dickenson Bay, Antigua and Barbuda, 268-462-4940, dickensonbaycottages.com

Copper and Lumber Store: From $135. English Harbour, Antigua, 268-460-1160, copperandlumberhotel.com

Ridge: From $130. Tottenham Park Bolans, Antigua and Barbuda, 268-562-7700, sugarridgeantigua.com

Winds Hotel: From $162. Dickenson Bay, Antigua and Barbuda, 268-462-1223, twhantigua.com


Brazil’s Neymar, The Hair-Raising Next Face Of Soccer

Source: www.thestar.com - Cathal Kelly

(Apr 10, 2011) The first clue is the hair.

Generally speaking, the more ornate a superstar soccer player’s hairstyle, the more likely he is to be a bit of a dipstick. Call it the Beckham Rule, or the Joey Barton Effect.

I can’t recall the man currently the best in the world, Lionel Messi, ever cutting his hair. It’s been an unfashionable mess since forever. The kid has no vanity. It shows in his guileless public persona.

The guy coming up behind Messi in the world’s very best sweepstakes, 19-year-old Brazilian
Neymar, looks like he requires vats of industrial adhesive and long hours of preparation to get his hair to do that “Morrissey After a Terrible Fright” thing.

Not a good sign going forward, because all sports are at the mercy of their biggest star.

Soccer’s been uncommonly lucky for the last couple of years to have Messi, a universally beloved figure who’s a World Cup title away from entering the best-of-all-time conversation.

Hockey is similarly fortunate with Sidney Crosby. Basketball’s been bowed under the weight of LeBron James’ inflating ego. The NFL is either vanilla (Peyton Manning) or vanilla-ier (Tom Brady). Baseball gets it worst of all — either the flakiness of Alex Rodriguez or the surliness of Albert Pujols.

Only one face at a time can define a sport. Messi is still just 23 years old, but history has shown that that yard of pace that sets a man apart begins to fade in his middle 20s.

If Messi were to slow, Neymar is the youngster most likely to ascend.

So far, he seems a lot more Cristiano Ronaldo than Zinedine Zidane — flashy, tricksy and deeply annoying when he wants to be.

He hit the news two weeks ago after drawing the ire of the crowd during a Scotland-Brazil friendly in London.

Neymar accused the Scottish fans of racist taunting. The boor’s favourite soccer prop — a banana — had been thrown onto the pitch during the game. Turned out that the banana was thrown by a German teenage tourist sitting with the Brazilian fans and that none of the jeering had a racial component. Rather, it was down to Neymar’s shameless injury faking after an innocuous challenge in the first half.

European audiences were introduced to the best and worst of the young man that day — his offensive play is electric; his sense of proportion is not quite as developed.

This week, another hint.

After scoring a divine goal for his Brazilian club side, Santos, Neymar sprinted away from the goal and picked up a Neymar facemask that had been thrown on the pitch by a fan. He strapped it on and began preening. Again, not good.

The referee hit him with a yellow — his second on the day — for excessive celebration, and Neymar lost it. Screaming, flailing, the approach of tears at one point. He did everything short of lie down on the pitch and begin kicking out his legs. It was sad stuff. He’s done it before when he doesn’t get his way.

So here’s your next Face of Soccer, and certainly the man whose mug will adorn the highest concentration of billboards at the coming World Cup in Brazil.

Neymar will be sold into Europe this summer. He’s mused about joining Messi at Barcelona, which is about as likely as you or I joining him there. Barca doesn’t need the distraction. Neymar might as well be holding up a sign that reads, “I divide dressing rooms.”

Right now it looks like a bidding war between Juventus and Chelsea. As a betting proposition, I’ll take Russian oil money over Italian car money any day.

In some ways, Messi’s world-beating contemporaries are falling away. Any conversation about the world’s best player now includes only Messi and Ronaldo. There is a vacuum for Neymar to fill.

The only problem is, will he fill it with hot air? He’s young. Let’s hope not. But steering clear of the hair salon might be a good first move back onto the path of dignity.

Beckham Says He’s Open To Playing Another MLS Season

Source: www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard Sports Reporter

(April 12, 2011) While admitting “I’m getting older,” L.A. Galaxy star
David Beckham says he’s open to the possibility of playing another year in Major League Soccer.

The English soccer-celebrity, who turns 36 next month, said even though his groundbreaking five-year contract with MLS expires at the end of the current season “there’s a chance” he’ll return for another year in the league.

“I haven’t made any decision about what I’m going to do after this year,” Beckham said Tuesday on the eve of L.A. taking on Toronto FC at BMO Field. “I think it’s important that I just concentrate on my play.

“I feel fit. I feel good in games. I feel as if I’m performing well,” said the man known as much for his wife, Victoria “Posh Spice,” and life off the pitch, as for his play on it.

“So, I need to continue that and then, in a few months, I’ll think about what I have to do and what I want to do.”

Beckham, who has appeared 115 times for England, an all-time record for a non-goalkeeper, signed a highly-publicized contract with MLS in 2007. It pays him $6.5 million per year, (all figures U.S.) still the league’s highest.

But injuries and loans to A.C. Milan have limited Beckham to just 53 regular season games and another seven in the playoffs over the four-plus seasons. There were also suggestions in earlier years that he was too focused on staying in Europe to earn another call-up to England rather than MLS duties.

Wednesday marks the first time Beckham has played in a league game at BMO Field. He did play in the 2008 MLS all-star game at the stadium.

“Certainly, if David stays healthy there’s no reason to believe he can’t continue to play,” said Bruce Arena, the Galaxy’s general manager and head coach. “David’s a very good player (with) a lot of experience and ability.

“If healthy and fit and into it, he makes a difference each and every game.”

Before the current MLS campaign, Beckham spent part of his off-season training with English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

Beckham, who is looking to complete his first full season with the Galaxy since 2008, suffered a torn Achilles tendon in March of last year while with Milan. The injury not only dashed his hopes of being selected to the England side at the World Cup but kept him out of the L.A. line-up until September.

“We’re beginning to see that he’s making progress and I think this could be a very good year for David,” Arena told reporters at the team’s Toronto hotel. “At 35, regardless of who you are, you’re at the tail end of your career but it doesn’t mean your career is over and you can’t be a good player.”

With London holding the Summer Olympics in 2012, Beckham, who was an ambassador when the city was trying to win the right to host the Games, reiterated Tuesday they’re something “I’d like to be involved in as a player.”

Great Britain will take part in the Olympic soccer competition for the first time since 1960. Teams will be made up of players under age 23 plus up to three over that age.

“I still love the game like I did when I was 21-years-old,” Beckham said. “And, I still feel fit. I look after myself, so at the moment there’s no reason for me to stop.”

Serena Williams Back on Tennis Court — in Hot Pink

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 13, 2011) *Serena Williams returned to the tennis court Tuesday, which she said was her “first day back” after a series of health problems, including blood clots in her lung.

The 13-time Grand Slam singles champion and former No. 1-ranked player has not played an official match since she won the title at Wimbledon in July. On Tuesday, Williams tweeted: “Cool news guys stay tuned.. Ill update u with a pic.. U ready??”

Then, a little later, she tweeted again: “Look who I spotted on the court. Her first day back…” That posting came with a link to a photo of Williams in a neon pink bodysuit, standing at the baseline and midway through her service motion with a racket in her right hand.

Her agent, Jill Smoller, confirmed Williams put in some work Tuesday.

“She was out hitting some balls today. Taking it day by day depending on how she’s feeling and was very happy to be back on the court,” Smoller wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Shortly after claiming her fourth singles championship at the All England Club last year, Williams cut her foot on glass at a restaurant, an injury that led to two operations. The second surgery was in October, and she said she spent 10 weeks in a cast and 10 weeks in a walking boot.

The 29-year-old American was diagnosed in February with blood clots in her lung. After that, she said she needed treatment for a hematoma – a gathering of blood under the skin – on her stomach.

Williams has not said when she might return to competition.

Despite all of the time away from the tour, she is still at No. 10 in this week’s WTA rankings.

Her older sister Venus is 15th this week; she hasn’t played since January because of a hip injury.


UFC - Ultimate Fun Contest

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bang Showbiz

(Apr 4, 2011)
UFC Fan Expo is heading to Canada for the very first time! With exciting special events, meet & greets, the Octagon, and so much more, this is one contest you definitely want to win. Enter now for a chance to win a pair of 2-day tickets to attend the UFC Fan Expo at the Direct Energy Centre on April 29 – 30, 2011.  To enter, read the contest rules and regulations and send us an email with your full name, contact info, and “UFC Contest” in the subject heading. Contest closes Monday, April 25th, 2011 at 12:00pm.  Note: Only one entry per person per day. Winners will be notified by email and tickets must be picked up at the Toronto.com head office located at 590 King Street West, Suite 590. Tickets will not be mailed or couriered.


How to Lose Fat in 30 Days

By Raphael Calzadilla, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

It’s time to be honest with yourself: The weight has got to go bye-bye.

You want to know how to lose fat, and I’m going to make things simple for you. I’ve constructed simple “to do” and “not to do” lists. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll lose fat within 30 days and be on your way to an empowering YOU.

How to Lose Fat “To Do” List

–Set one 30-day goal to kick-start your progress. For example, “I will lose six pounds this month.” One goal, that’s all I want you to focus on.

–Perform cardiovascular exercise three days per week for 20-30 minutes. Nothing fancy, just something you enjoy or can at least tolerate every other day.

–Weight train two days per week for 20-25 minutes. This will help stimulate the metabolism, increase strength and make muscles tighter. You can do it the same day as your cardio if you wish.

–Focus on the type of physical activity that you find enjoyable. Most people stop exercising because they get bored. So decide if your exercise consistency will best happen with the use of video tapes, spinning classes, cardio classes that are instructor-led, dance classes, etc.

–Get outdoors. Power walk, jog, hike and take advantage of longer days, sunshine and warmer weather. This will alleviate the boredom factor for those who hate to exercise.

How to Lose Fat “NOT To Do” List

–Going home after work before going to the gym.
Take your gym clothes with you and go straight to the gym after work.

–Making excuses such as “I’ll start tomorrow,” “I don’t feel like working out today” and “I just can’t get into it yet.” Stop the excuses already!

–Even though you know you’ll be working late and only have the morning to work out, deciding to stay in bed longer and miss the opportunity to get even a little exercise time in.

–Postponing physicals and other important doctor appointments. This is the time to get a check-up.

–Going to a fast-food restaurant at lunchtime when you can easily pack a healthy lunch, eat at your desk and then go for a brisk walk with co-workers.

This stuff isn’t brain surgery and there’s no magic workout or magic bullet that will improve your fitness level and reduce fat.

Until the magic pill is developed, the guidelines I’ve provided are the best we have. So, re-commit to your nutrition plan and follow my realistic guidelines. I’m not suggesting it’s easy, but this is the perfect time to start taking control of your life, your health and your self-esteem.


Practicing compassion, caring for others and sharing their problems, lays the foundation for a meaningful life, not only at the level of the individual, family or community, but also for humanity as a whole.


Source:  Dalai Lama