20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                                                                                                                                                                     (416) 677-5883


April 21, 2011

Ahhhhh a long weekend!  Finally!  Happy Easter
to those that celebrate it!

If you're like me, you've been getting a bunch of emails with plenty of
GAVIN%20SMITH_small happenings around your city.  Me?  For sure I'm hitting the Orbit Room on Saturday night as it is the place to hang for incredible live music featuring the A-Team (Adrian Eccleston, Rich Brown, Shamakah Ali, Dave Gouveia).  Well check out even more fun planned for Saturday night including Chewstick's Bermuda talent - check it out under HOT EVENTS!

Also, check out the line-up of talent coming to the
Blackcreek Music Festival this summer ... HUGE!  Check it out under TOP STORIES

 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! 


VIDEOS: BERMUDA’S TALENT SHOWCASE – “Chewronto” – Saturday, April 23 at ORBIT ROOM

What have I been saying for years now?  That the Orbit Room on Saturday
Chewronto_schedule21_smallnights is the place to hang for incredible live music featuring the A-Team (Adrian Eccleston, Rich Brown, Shamakah Ali, Dave Gouveia).  Right?

Well, on this Saturday of the Easter long weekend, starting out the evening is a showcase of talent from
BERMUDA, starting at approximately 8:00 pm, followed by the A-Team at 11:00 pm.  Reggae, hip hop, R&B - everything you want will be at Orbit Room on Saturday night!  

Check out the promo video here:

This crew travels to Toronto for a 3-venue tour from April 21-23, 2011, the last of which is the Orbit Room which will feature a roster of talent from Bermuda's legendary performing arts collective,
Chewstick, including, and not limited to:


Joy T. Barnum  

Soulful Pop
|| YouTube

She has graced the stage with soprano Kathleen Battle, the Aeolians, and was later invited to be an opening act for Yolanda Adams and Smokey Norful. She would go on to open for Seal and Patti La Belle at two consecutive annual Bermuda Music Festivals, and in 2009, Joy performed with Swedish indie singer Lykke Li.

“She sounds like Sam Cooke but with legs all the way up to her neck,” says music producer Thaao Dill. “She sings like she’s on fire and she’s fine with being on fire. She doesn’t want anybody to put her out.”




Hip Hop
showkase.me ||Facebook

 || Soundcloud

This young rising star has been compared to rap hard hitters like Mos Def, Talib Kweli, even Nas. No lie. Fans describe him as “intense”, “powerful” and “meritorious”.  Many ambitious words are used in an attempt to encompass the swagger of K.A.S.E.  Keamon "K.A.S.E." (Knowledge Applied to Streets Etiquette) Woolaston was born August 26, 1988 in North York,


Kase has also performed along side Def Jam Poets Rafael Casal & Jason Reynolds, also having the honour of performing with Heather Nova at the Bermuda Arts Festival. At the moment Kase is working on his solo project entitled "ShowKase".




Live Wires  

Reggae Roots



Hip Hop

The full band and collection of artists will be taking Canada by storm on this second annual international tour. Vibes are gonna be fire!

The Orbit Room is a special place. Founded by Tim Notter, along with Alex Lifeson (of Rush fame), The Orbit has been the breeding ground of the resurgence of maximum R&B, and boasts a very eclectic history of cultivating bands and extraordinary talents.

580A College Street (Upstairs)
8:00 PM
11:00 PM – A-TEAM
Door: $10
Support + join us if you can!


Lynrod Douglas to Head CARIBANA™ Arts Foundation

Source: www.L3Magazine.com

(April 16, 2011) In a move which signals a promising future for theLynrod%20Douglas_small CARIBANA™ Arts Foundation, its newly-minted board of directors announced that Canadian ethnic directories pioneer and Black Pages co-founder, Lynrod Douglas has been elected president.

The CARIBANA™ Arts Group (CAG) recently regained control of the Foundation and took immediate steps to put a reputable board in place. Other members of the board are Leslie Forbes, Secretary, Henry Gomez, Treasurer, and Renae Roberts. There is one vacant position on the board.

The organization is looking to Douglas, well known for his role in promoting and supporting the Black business community, to provide robust leadership that would see the Foundation emerge as a true catalyst for promoting Carnival Arts and Culture through education, scholarships, training and development programs and research.  Douglas said in a statement, “I’ve stood on the sidelines for years, passively watching the CARIBANA™ saga unfold. Now I see the Foundation as an effective community economic and social development vehicle with particular emphasis on our youth.   A proponent of the ‘corporative economics’ ideology, Douglas added “This Foundation will allow citizens of Canada and the world to give back to a community that has been, for the past forty four years, giving to them, this wonderful gift called CARIBANA™.”

According to Douglas, plans are underway to obtain charitable status for the Foundation. He also pointed out that one of the key goals of the Foundation is to secure a permanent home for the entire CARIBANA™ Arts Group family. The Foundation is planning its first fundraising event for early spring. Stay tuned. Further information can be found on the Foundation’s new website www.CaribanaArtsFoundation.com which Douglas referees to as a work in progress.

About the CARIBANA™ Arts Foundation 

The concept for the Foundation emerged from the restructuring plans of the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC), founders of the CARIBANA™ Festival in 1967 and legal owners of the CARIBANA™ trademark. In 2004, the old CCC was transformed into the CARIBANA™ Arts Group, a policy-making body with oversight for two new subsidiaries: CARIBANA™ Festival Management Operations to manage and produce the CARIBANA™  Festival; and CARIBANA™  Arts Foundation, an arms-length body to serve as the charitable / fundraising arm of the CARIBANA™ family. The Mission of the Foundation is to fund, promote, facilitate and support artistic and cultural expressions embodied in the Carnival Arts of the Caribbean and the Americas.

About Lynrod Douglas

A pioneer of the multicultural marketing industry in Canada, Lynrod Douglas was CEO of Black Pages Canada for 16 years before selling the company to a multi-national newspaper publisher. In addition to the Black Pages directory, the company produced several watershed events including Expo International and Black Expo Canada. Douglas assisted the City of Toronto to develop a small business strategy and to include minority-owned business in the City’s procurement process. He was appointed Chair to the Investment Committee of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to advise on the management of a $24 million endowment fund, and served as a small business advisor to the Government of Canada.     

For additional information, and to schedule interviews, please send an e-mail to L3Publicity@gmail.com or call 1-289-217-2800 (local call for media in Toronto).


Blackcreek Summer Music Festival - Music Under The Stars

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(April 20, 2011) On July 9, the best show in town will be under thestars.

That’s when the inaugural edition of the
BlackCreek Summer Music Festival presents what they’re calling The Very, Very Best of Broadway.

Discounting the promoters’ gift for overstatement, there’s a lot to like about the stars on stage: 30 Rock actor Jane Krakowski is a seasoned Broadway hand, with the trained pipes to show for it; Martin Short is a veteran entertainer; Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell charmed Toronto once upon a time not too long ago in Ragtime; and Raul Esparza is a current darling of the Great White Way.

The leader of this talented pack is versatile New Yorker Marvin Hamlisch. His diverse portfolio of hits includes the modern-classic Broadway musical A Chorus Line and the soundtrack for The Informant. He is a frequent musical collaborator and leads several orchestral pops-concert programs across the United States.

I caught up with Hamlisch just as he finished giving a master class to theatre students at Pepperdyne University, in Malibu, Calif.

The class is called “The Art of the Audition.” It seems particularly appropriate that it’s coming not only from someone who has worked on Broadway since the mid-1960s, but from the man who added music to lyrics in Chorus Line’s “I Hope I Get It,” where the character Paul sings:

“What does he want from me?/ What should I try to be?/ So many faces all around, and here we go./ I need this job, oh God, I need this show.”

That may have been 35 years ago, but the anxieties of theatrical auditions are no different today.

“Sometimes a person comes in and they’re so close, but they don’t have it right,” says Hamlisch of auditions. “We give them advice and ask them to go back and work on it. When it changes for the better, it’s natural. We had one of those moments today with a guy who came in, worked on it, and got it right.

“I think it’s so important to teach people how to audition, because they just don’t know how to do it well.”

Hamlisch didn’t have to audition the stars of the BlackCreek show because he has worked with all of them before. And he can’t wait to bring them all together in the open-air Rexall Centre at York University.

“From the first time I went to see the Boston Pops outdoors, when I was 8 years old, I’ve always felt that the best way to enjoy music is outdoors,” Hamlisch says. “There’s something wondrous about a beautiful night and you’re hearing these sounds.”

Hamlisch visited the Rexall Centre with festival organizers before he agreed to take on the gig. He was impressed with the excellent sightlines in the stadium, which was designed for tennis tournaments.

“It’s 14,000 people, but it’s an intimate 14,000 people, so I think we can really pull it off. I’m really looking forward to doing it,” he says.

BlackCreek is building a stage structure at one end of the stadium to accommodate a full lighting grid, jumbo video monitors and a state-of-the-art sound system.

“You have to be very aware of who is going to be doing your sound and ensure that those people are really top-notch,” Hamlisch explains. “The performers are really important, too. If they’re going to do an intimate song, they have to know how they’re going to make contact with people.”

The composer-conductor says that his strongest learning experience came when he accompanied Barbra Streisand on a massive concert tour in 1994, which used both indoor and outdoor venues.

There are three essential ingredients to making something like this work: “At least nine to 10 hours of rehearsal with time to tweak the sound throughout,” camaraderie among the performers and flexibility.

“The nice thing is that, while you’re rehearsing a show like this, you can still tweak it and change it,” Hamlisch says. “I don’t stick to the printed program if I think something else will be better during rehearsal. I tend to think that everything’s written in pencil and that we have the glory of the eraser.”


The first edition of the BlackCreek Music Festival is offering a mix of musical genres on its open-air stage.

Many of this summer’s concerts have not yet been announced. But what we do know is impressive. Most of the tried-and-true performers hearken back to the go-big-or-go-home days of boffo entertainment programming.

 •  Plácido Domingo, June 4: The festival kicks off with the long-reigning king of operatic tenors, Plácido Domingo. He is as busy as ever at age 70, singing in operas and concerts around the world. Accompanied by a full orchestra and joined by Caledon-based Verdi opera heroine Sondra Radvanovsky, this is bound to be a night to remember.

 • James Taylor, June 25: One of the world’s favourite veteran singer-songwriters brings his band and a truckload of hits that span the decades. Without a doubt, everyone will be going home singing, “How sweet it is to be loved by you.”

 • Lionel Richie, June 28: More than 100 million albums later, Lionel Richie remains unstoppable. We may have forgotten the film, but “Endless Love,” his 30-year-old duet with Diana Ross, remains timeless.

 • Music Inspired by Shakespeare, June 29: Academy Award winners Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons will tread the fresh-built boards as narrators in a symphony concert featuring the music of Felix Mendelssohn, Peter Ilytch Tchaikovsky and Sergei Prokofiev, presented by conductor Lorin Maazel and his Castleton Festival Orchestra from the rolling fields of Virginia.

To buy tickets, or for more information on the festival, visit www.blackcreekfestival.com.

Video: Kanye Dedicates Coachella Set to Late Mother

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 18, 2011) *Kanye West ended this weekend’s Coachella music festival on ankanye-at-coachella1_small emotional note by dedicating his headlining set to his late mother.

The rapper took the stage Sunday night to bring the Indio, California event to a close following three days of performances from bands including Arcade Fire and The Strokes.

According to WENN, West began the show suspended high above the crowd on a futuristic crane, performing his first track, Power, as he was carried to the main stage, where he was greeted by 30 ballet dancers.

He went on to rock his hit singles “Gold Digger,” “Stronger” and “Love Lockdown,” while he was joined by Pusha T, his only special guest, for “Runaway.” He was watched from the VIP area by the likes of Usher, Dave Chappelle and  Erykah Badu.

As the concert was coming to an end, the artist announced his Coachella set was the “most important show” since his mother, Dr. Donda West, died suddenly in 2007 after suffering fatal complications from cosmetic surgery.

West added, “This show is dedicated to my mother,” before closing with his track, “Hey, Mama.”

However, the rapper’s spectacular show may have landed him in trouble with festival organizers – he started his performance late and is now reportedly facing a hefty fine after running over the midnight curfew by 20 minutes.

Watch clips from his performance below.

Kenya’s Mutai Wins Boston Marathon In Record Time

Source: www.thestar.com - Jimmy Golen

(Apr 18, 2011) BOSTON — Kenya's
Geoffrey Mutai won the Boston Marathon in two hours three minutes two seconds — the fastest anyone has ever run the 42.195-kilometre distance.

The previous best of 2:03:59 was by Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin 2008.

As Monday's race had a strong tailwind on a downhill course, Mutai's run is not recognized by track's international governing body as a record.

But Mutai was almost three minutes better than the course record set just last year by Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot.

Caroline Kilel won the women's race to complete the Kenyan sweep, outsprinting American Desiree Davila to win by two seconds, in 2:22:36.

Davila led as late as the final stretch on Boylston Street and ran the fastest time ever for a U.S. woman, five seconds faster than Joan Benoit finished to win in 1983.

No American — man or woman — has won Boston since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985.

Ryan Hall ran the fastest marathon ever for an American, finishing fourth in 2:04:58, and Kara Goucher ran a personal best 2:24:52 to add a fifth-place finish to her third in 2009.

Kilel and Mutai each earn US$15,000 for the win, and Mutai gets $50,000 for the world best and another $25,000 for the course record.

A year after Cheruiyot lowered the course record by more than a minute, the runners lined up in Hopkinton with temperatures hovering around 8 C and a wind at their back — perfect marathoning weather.

Kim Smith, a New Zealander who lives in Providence, took off at a record pace and led the women's race for more than 30 kilometres. The men were steadier, and they were the ones to take down the old mark.

Four men, including Hall and third-place finisher Ethiopian Gebregziabher Gebremariam, broke the 2:05 milestone that just 12 months ago had seemed insurmountable on the hilly Boston course.

Mutai and Moses Mosop ran side-by-side for the final miles before Mutai pulled ahead for good on Boylston Street and won by four seconds.

The 19th Kenyan winner in the past 21 years, Mutai raised his arms in the air and grinned; Cheruiyot, who injured his side in a car accident in Kenya, dropped out in the first half of the race.

Smith took off at the start, and the pack let her go, falling almost a minute behind. But 30 kilometres in, as she ran down Commonwealth Avenue in Newton toward Heartbreak Hill, she began to stutter-step.

Soon, she had stopped completely to rub her right calf. It was only for a few seconds, but when she resumed she had clearly slowed and the pack was upon her less than a mile later. Among them was Davila.

The American ran with Kenyans Kilel and Sharon Cherop through Chestnut Hill and briefly broke out of her rhythm to wave as the crowd began chanting, “U-S-A!”

The three swapped leads down Beacon Street in Brookline, and Davila led even on the final stretch before Kilel outkicked her.

Masazumi Soejima and Wakako Tsuchida gave Japan a sweep of the men's and women's wheelchair divisions. It was the fifth straight win for Tsuchida and the second overall for Soejima.


Diddy Brings Dirty Money and Bad Boy Classics to Toronto

Source: www.torontoist.com -
Kiva Reardon

Puff Daddy. P. Diddy. Sean Combs. Rappers haveDiddy%20toronto%202011_small a tendency to express their creative evolutions through name changes (Shyne

 to Moses Levi

, anyone?). And Diddy’s transformation from guttural, mumbling producer in the background of Notorious B.I.G.’s videos to the frontman of his own sound is one of the best examples. But it also raises the question: Which Diddy will you get in concert?

As he rolled into Toronto last night, concertgoers seemed to have as many reasons to attend as Diddy has aliases. Biz Topshotta was one of the first people in, pressed against the barricade with a Heineken in each hand. When asked why he wanted to see Diddy, his answer was simple: “I want to know if he can bring the party.” Diddy certainly promised that in the Coming Home Tour promo video for Toronto, but Mae, another early arrival, had a different reason: “I’m here ‘cause I’m 52 and can say I’m out seeing Diddy on a Sunday night, not watching Murder She Wrote.” Some fans admitted they wanted to hear classic Diddy (or rather Puff), while others, like Osman, said, “He’s like a mentor. I listen to everything.”

Hyping up the crowd was a new addition to the Young Money label,
Tyga_small Tyga, whose stage presence needed no backup LED light show. From the moment he stomped out in his bedazzled Chucks, the crowd lit up with their iPhones in the air. Performing his collaborative singles ("Bedrock," "Roger That," "I'm So Raw") and his own songs ("Lapdance," "Far Away"), as well as Weezy covers, he nearly had his tight tee ripped off by fans as he walked along the barricade. He eventually just took it off, exiting the stage (fittingly) to Lil Wayne’s "Every Girl."

Diddy's fifth album, Last Train to Paris, is all about alter egos (as he raps on the single "I’m Coming Home": “It's easy to be Puff, it's harder to be Sean”), but Diddy also emphasizes that Diddy - Dirty Money is a collaborative trio, equal parts himself and singer/songwriters Dawn Richard (MTV’s Making the Band’s Danity Kane) and Kalenna Harper (best known as a songwriter for the likes of J.Lo, Timbaland, and Jill Scott). And their act certainly backs this up: Dawn and Kalenna opened, as Diddy stood back until he plunged into a rendition of "O Let’s Do It." DDM are a cohesive unit on stage, channeling a Matrix-meets-Motown aesthetic as they played off each other, dancing, singing, and creating an upbeat party vibe (Diddy even played the tambourine). The Euro-electro influences of the album were certainly apparent as the performance had more lasers than a Berlin nightclub (suddenly making the odd choice of the Kool Haus as a venue seem entirely logical).

Last Train undoubtedly has a different feel from Diddy’s previous albums, and after running through most of it, ever the businessman, Diddy recognized why many people bought tickets. Turning to the packed house, he declared, “We’ll give you the classics you came for.” A roar of applause ensued.

Breaking up the show into two entirely different feels was a video montage of just how superb Diddy is as a rapper /producer /mogul/ specimen-of-a-human-being that then evolved into a sombre tribute to Biggie. When Diddy reappeared (this time with fewer lasers), the crowd was in the right mindset for the Bad Boy–classics mash-up that followed. Starting with "I Need a Girl" and moving into "Hello Good Morning" (arguably the most “Puff”-sounding track on the new album), he then started to build a crescendo of classics ("I Get Money," "It's All About the Benjamins"), reaching a fever pitch with "We Won’t Stop" when a girl rushed the barricades, attempting to climb over in a micro-mini and stilettos. He continued on with "Bad Boy for Life" and "Mo Money Mo Problems," which by then had everyone, from the hipsters to the gangsters and the scenesters, dancing.

Besides the fight near the end of the show that left a weave strewn on the ground like roadkill (and instantly became Facebook profile picture material for the teen boys who crowded around it snapping pictures like scientists examining a newly discovered species), everyone seemed to be feeling “the vibe,” as Diddy put it. Staying onstage for much longer than expected, Diddy certainly gave Toronto what it wanted. And though what it wanted was undeniably the classics, he didn’t hold it against us.

Elizabeth Shepherd: A Jazz Sound Worthy Of A Wider Audience

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

Elizabeth Shepherd
At Trinity St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto on Sunday

(Apr 18, 2011) Last March, jazz singer and pianist
Elizabeth Shepherd and her trio released their third album, Heavy Falls the Night, and launched a globe-spanning tour that started at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio. Shepherd returned to Toronto Sunday to show off just how far she’s come over the past 14 months.

Pilgrim’s progress

After all that roadwork, it’s hardly surprising that Shepherd, bassist Scott Kemp and drummer Colin Kingsmore work together like a well-oiled machine. Their close harmony vocals on Seven Bucks were note-perfect and seemingly effortless, and even the serpentine polyrhythms beneath tunes such as The Taking sounded as accessible as a 4/4 backbeat.

What really brought the sizzle was the trio’s unity of purpose. Shepherd blurs the line between jazz and pop, and her band could have pushed the balance in one direction or the other. Instead, they not only followed her into the middle ground but helped clear space for her to build something unique.

Keys to the kingdom

Shepherd’s aesthetic is cool and slightly retro, evoking the past but in a contemporary way. Kemp’s resolutely acoustic bass work finessed the groove in ways the muscular sound of an electric never could, while Kingsmore’s drumming remained informed by a very human sense of swing, even through the breakbeat-style pulse on High.

But it was the leader’s keyboard that truly defined the band’s sound. Where others might have opted for the classic Fender Rhodes sound, Shepherd used the Roland synthesizer version of that sound, a choice that provided the same cool, bell-like tone but afforded more nuanced dynamics, allowing her solos to swell and breathe like a horn line.

A voice in the wilderness

There are a lot of jazz singers who try to popularize their sound by retrofitting contemporary material with straight-ahead rhythms; there is also a smaller number who apply a classic jazz approach to what are essentially modern pop tracks.

What Shepherd does is change the rules altogether. Although she supports her lithe, smoothly flowing melodies with jazz harmony, she prefers simple, four-chord cycles that allow those chords to sound like pop hooks. And though she clearly loves complicated Afro-Brazilian rhythms, she applies them in a way that recalls both Antonio Carlos Jobim (his Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars was a telling cover song choice) and Stevie Wonder.

Delivering the word

“I like to talk,” Shepherd told the crowd midway through her first set, and she set each song up as if we were all just friends enjoying a few tunes. She talked about bebop trumpeter Clifford Brown, let us know about her pregnancy (or, as she put it, “this second person growing inside of me”), and about her Salvation Army parents, whose love for Anne Murray led Shepherd to cover the seventies classic Danny’s Song.

Denzal Sinclaire, who turned up for two songs in Shepherd’s second set, would rather play than chat, but nonetheless was a perfect match, joining her in a slyly funky I Got Rhythm that was so original and convincing enough to sound like a hit in the making.

Preaching to the choir

As the daughter of Salvation Army ministers, Shepherd was doubtlessly aware that her Toronto return was on Palm Sunday, the Christian feast commemorating Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. And looking at the half-filled pews at Trinity St. Paul’s, it was hard not to worry that her return was a similarly hollow victory.

Those who were there certainly loved her, and she gave the sort of performance that would validate any fan’s faith. But considering all she has to offer, it was hard not to feel that her music deserves a wider audience. It would be tragic if the sermon following her next album is on A Prophet without Honour.

VIDEO: Metric Mad At Glenn Beck

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

(Apr 14, 2011) Even today, most every band would like to be on the radio, but maybe not this way. Toronto's own Metric has managed to get itself removed from the radio show of controversial right-wing U.S. host Glenn Beck.

As a post on the band's website notes, a fan in the Pittsburgh area contacted the band last month to tell them that the Glenn Beck Program (to be distinguished from his Fox News TV show, simply titled Glenn Beck) was using a snippet of the guitar part from their song "Rock Me Now."

Turns out Beck, infamous in some quarters for his rants against President Obama ("We have a president who apparently loves instability and revolution," he said in February) and other figures on the American left, was within the legal rights granted to radio broadcasters when the clip was used, but when Metric objected, the show's producers voluntarily backed down and agreed to stop using the music.

In her reply to her Pittsburgh fan, Metric's Emily Haines wondered how this all happened:

"I mean, of all the music out there, why Metric? Is it about co opting the lefties? Did he mistake me for someone demanding to see Obama's birth certificate?" 

Noel Gourdin: ‘The Definition’ of a Fresh Sound

Source: www.eurweb.com -
Al-Lateef Farmer

(Apr 19, 2011) *Every so often, an artist reminds us of the purity of rhythm and blues, the honesty that emanates from the soul and spreads itself out over a long playing disc. Nearly three years after the release of his debut album, After My Time, Noel Gourdin is back with the release of Fresh: The Definition. This album is an extension of the music many of us, including Gourdin, grew up on and by definition alone that separates this album from much of what’s trendy in R&B today.

Riding the wave of the apologetic/empowering single “Beautiful”,
Fresh is grassroots effort for Gourdin after an exit from major label Sony to having this album distributed independently, giving it a more organic and intimate appeal. This suite is based upon relationships, intimate relationships with women and music, each respectfully weaved through the songs, giving their lyrics depth. The grit in his voice on “Been a Long Time” and the Smokey falsetto that riffs through “Fresh (Brand New)” are odes to the soul men from classic eras. He masterfully uses his voice to emote the theme of each song, seamlessly transitioning through passionate songs about the pursuit, romance, breakup, and that moment in a relationship when you realize that you have something worth saving.

The beauty of
Fresh is its songs in the key of life, its reality, the feeling that your life is being told by the artist. This is a long player made for the ladies, but real enough for the fellas. We have found ourselves living between the lines of “Change for You” when we meet someone that causes our world to revolve counter-clockwise. Or, we know that feeling of emptiness related on “Not Around”, when there’s separation from that woman. While the guy whose neighbours know his name has been dominating the airwaves for the past 18 months, Noel Gourdin’s name should be making its rounds through the neighbourhood, because his music has begun speaking for itself.

About the Writer

Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find The World According to Teef. Plainfield, NJ native Al-Lateef Farmer is a self-styled social documentarian that tackles everything from politics to pop culture, Reality TV to relationships with a brand of social commentary rooted in independent thought that is unfiltered, uncensored, unforgiving, but never unreal! Take a trip to his world at http://worldaccording2teef.com/ or follow on Twitter @wrldacrdng2Teef

Listen To Who's Coming Our Way

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

(Apr 14, 2011) The Manchester Orchestra is neither. A five-piece from Georgia
ODD%20FUTURE_small led by Andy Hull (whose namesake, Toronto comedian Andy Hull, is not thrilled about any confusion) specializes in heart-on-sleeve emotions, both lyrically and with tunes that can either sweep you up or press you down.


They play the Mod Club on May 16. Will folks go? Well, there's two other hot tickets in town: rapper/comedian/Community star Donald Glover at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Sleigh Bells and CSS and Sound Academy. This is clearly a band that can face a disappointment, though.

Odd Future (short for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) are an alternative (and quite playful) hip-hop crew from Los Angeles who've been getting a lot of attention - blog hype, SXSW love - from rap aficionados. That's good enough to get you on Jimmy Fallon:


To tout their album Goblin, out next month, they'll be Mod Club on May 15. Will folks go? Absolutely. (The rappers are very lucky they're not going up against Glover; we suspect they have the same fans.)

And finally we have Unknown Mortal Orchestra, whose name is at least two-thirds accurate. Ruban Nielson's not an orchestra either, but his one-man project is pretty unknown, though it has gotten signed to the suddenly-hot Fat Possum label (home to buzzy bands like Crocodiles and Yuck). He (they?) specializes in summery '70s sounds with a more up-to-date, danceable backbeat, like the downloadable song below:
Unknown Mortal Orchestra "How Can U Luv Me"
by WeGetPress

The UMO plays Lee's Palace on May 27, opening for Portugal. The Man. Will you go? If you like what you hear above.

UPDATE: In welcome, late-breaking concert news, the reunited Soundgarden is now coming to the Molson Amphitheatre on July 2. (Chris Cornell's still coming solo to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 20, mind you.)  No word on ticket prices yet.

And, in concert cancellation news, the Bamboozle Roadshow has indeed been bamboozled by the road. The rap package promising Chiddy Bang, Ninjasonik and Dev is no more (including the June 17 date here in Toronto) because of "unforeseen routing and line-up issues."

Russell Braun’s Remarkable, Emotional Journey

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(Apr 14, 2011) It lasts less than an hour and a half, but the journey feels like an emotional lifetime.

The experience must have felt that way to Canadian baritone
Russell%20Braun_small Braun, who took time out from his international operatic career to present Franz Schubert’s great Winterreise (Winter’s Journey) song cycle for the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto on Thursday afternoon.

A sold-out Walter Hall heard a singer at the peak of his craft both vocally and musically.

Winterreise is a musical touchstone for any male vocalist who considers himself to be a serious classical artist. It may be shorter than the average opera, but that single singer is on stage, without a break, for the whole time.

It is a test of endurance as well as artistry.

The audience also heard the Toronto premiere of an alternative accompaniment to the traditional solo piano. This one was arranged for wind quintet and accordion by Montreal oboist Norman Forget for his group Pentaèdre.

The growly, breathy textures of the bassoon and accordion are contrasted with the sweet lightness of clarinet and flute — with the horn set in the middle for balance.

This multitude of textures, subtly blended by the players of Pentaèdre, made for a fantastic accompaniment for the procession of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller about a lovelorn young man. The accordion part was expertly filled by Joseph Petric.

Schubert’s musical settings, which were published in 1827, move from light to dark — major to minor — with the fleeting ease of clouds floating across a sunlit sky.

Braun was a master at navigating the shifting moods on a larger scale, as well as in crafting each individual note, syllable and phrase. The singer made it sound easy, but, in fact, what Braun did would have demanded every ounce of breath, vocal and emotional control at his command.

This was a concert to remember for a long time.


You Say Party Taking A Break

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman

(Apr. 14, 2011) The band You Say Party has announced an
you_say_party_j_1265127cl-3_small "immediate cease to activity." They're not calling it a permanent break-up, but their plans are uncertain. "Call it a hiatus. Call it a break. Call it whatever you want," reads a statement released by the band's bass guitarist Stephen O'Shea. The Abbotsford-based band, formerly known as You Say Party! We Say Die!, was devastated by the death last April of drummer Devon Clifford. Clifford, 30, died onstage at Vancouver's Rickshaw Theatre from an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a previously undetected congenital disorder. Two months later, the band announced it would carry on with a new name and some new members. But on Thursday, the band announced it will be taking a break. "It's been a hard year for us. Not a bad year. We've experienced wonderful support from people," O'Shea's statement reads. "But you gotta listen to your body and your mind when it begins to revolt against what you think it is you have to do. "So we're gonna stop for a while, and we're gonna work on who we are as people We know that everyone understands exactly why and where we're coming from."

VIDEO: Introducing Ester Dean: New Singer, Veteran Songwriter

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 17, 2011) *Grammy-nominated songwriter Ester Dean has taken on a
ester-dean_small new role in the industry and is on her way to making her career into a singing one. The 24-year-old Oklahoma native, who is the writer behind Katy Perry’s “Firework,” some of Usher’s hits as well as Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Mary J. Blige, admitted that “Drop It Low” was originally meant for Ciara. The song was actually picked up by Britney Spears, though. Ciara didn’t want the song. But Britney never made it happen so the songwriter was convinced to take it for herself. And that’s exactly what she did. Initially hesitant to begin a solo career, the new found artist found her confidence after recognizing her vast accomplishments and appearances on records like Jeremiah’s remix to “Birthday Sex.” She is still working on her untitled debut album. Watch Ester Dean’s “Drop It Low” featuring Chris Brown:


Stevie Wonder, Janelle Monae, and John Legend Honour Marvin Gaye

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 16, 2011) *It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here, the
MarvinGaye_small celebration of the life and music of Marvin Gaye. In honour of the legendary artist’s classic album “What’s Going On” R&B favourites like Stevie Wonder, Janelle Monae, John Legend and The Roots will stage tribute concerts. 2011 is the 40th anniversary of the album’s momentous release. The concert series will kick off on May 3rd and 4th with a special appearance by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. In the summer, other artists will join in and perform at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on July 24.

TV On the Radio Bassist Gerard Smith Dies Of Lung Cancer

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Associated Press

(April 20, 2011) TV on the Radio says bassist Gerard Smith has died of lung
gerard-smith-tv_small cancer. The band says on its website that Smith died Wednesday morning. His death comes a little over a month after it was announced that he was battling the disease. At the time, the band said Smith had health insurance, great medical care and had already seen “dramatic results.” However, Smith was unable to join the band on tour as they promoted their last album, Nine Types of Light. The group says ittv-on-the-radio_1267313cl-3_small will miss Smith terribly and calls him “our beloved friend and bandmate.” The group has cancelled its concerts for the next few days, starting Wednesday in Detroit. His age was not immediately available.

Rihanna Makes Billboard History with 10th No. 1 Single

Source: www.eurweb.com

*Rihanna has set a record on Billboard with her new single
rihanna-long-red-hair_small “S&M.” The track moves up one on the new Billboard Hot 100 to claim the top spot, making her the first solo artist to log the shortest span between a first and 10th number one in the chart’s 52-year history. It took her closest rival Mariah Carey five years and four months to land the feat; Rihanna did it in four years, 11 months and two weeks. Only the Beatles and the Supremes have better chart records – the Fab Four landed their first 10 number ones in a one year, eight month span, while Diana Ross’ Motown trio achieved the feat in two years, eight months. Rihanna is only the ninth artist to total at least 10 Hot 100 number ones. Rihanna’s “S&M” unseats her pal Katy Perry’s E.T. at the top of the countdown. Perry’s track drops to two after spending three weeks at number one. Another leading lady, Lady Gaga, scores the week’s highest debut  with “Judas,” which crashes into the Hot 100 at 10.


R. Kelly to Tour with Keyshia Cole and Marsha Ambrosius

Source: www.eurweb.com
*R. Kelly will promote his new album “Love Letter” with a summer tour supported by R&B star Keyshia Cole and Marsha Ambrosius. The trek kicks off June 2 in Southaven, Mississippi and winds through the U.S. before wrapping July 3 in Philadelphia. “Love Letter,” Kelly’s 11th studio album, has produced two hit singles, “When A Woman Loves” and the title track which held the # 1 position on the Urban AC chart for four consecutive weeks.

The tour schedule is listed below:





June 2

Southaven, MS

DeSoto Civic Center

June 3  

New Orleans, LA

UNO Lakefront Arena

June 4 

Mobile, AL

Civic Center

June 5 

Houston, TX

Toyota Centre

June 10

Oakland, CA


June 11

Los Angeles, CA

Nokia Theater L. A. Live

June 16

Chicago, IL

Allstate Arena

June 17

St. Louis, MO 

Chaifetz Arena

June 18

Kansas City, MO

Sprint Center

June 19

Dallas, TX

Verizon Theater

June 24

Raleigh, NC

RBC Center

June 25

Atlanta, GA

Philips Arena

June 26

Birmingham, AL


June 29

Cleveland, OH

CSU Wolstein Center

June 30

Newark, NJ

Prudential Center

July 1

Baltimore, MD 

1st Mariner Arena

July 2 

Washington, DC

Verizon Center

July 3 

Philadelphia, PA

Mann Music Center



Canucks Still Waiting To Dance At Cannes 2011

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Apr 18, 2011) Yet another Cannes program has announced its
International%20Critics%20Week_small program and yet again, Canadian films are scarcer than beavers at a burst dam.

The line-up for the 50th anniversary of the
International Critics’ Week sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival (May 11-22) was announced Monday.

It features such attractions as Jeff Nichols’ Sundance apocayptic psycho-thriller Take Shelter, as well as the latest from Tarnation wunderkind Jonathan Caouette, whose Walk Away Renée documents a unique road trip for his mentally ill mother.  The complete list is at www.semainedelacritique.com.

This year's Critics' Week unspools May 12-20, and there are 11 features (four of them special screenings) and 10 shorts, from countries around the globe.

But Canadian films are not to be found, the same story as in the Palme d'Or competition and Un Certain Regard programs announced last week.

There is some Canadian content on the acting side: Ryan Gosling stars in the competition film Driver, Kiefer Sutherland in the competition pic Melancholia and Rachel McAdams in the non-competing opener Midnight in Paris.

But that's pretty slim pickings, and you know what these things do to the fragile Canuck ego.

There is still one more major program, to be announced Tuesday, where the maple leaf may still flutter: the Directors Fortnight, where Canadians

have often done well. Quebec's Xavier Dolan won three prizes there in 2009 with his debut J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother).

Michael Sarrazin, 70, Was Canada’s Hollywood Rebel

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Apr 18, 2011) Michael Sarrazin, Canada’s own Hollywood rebel of
Michael%20Sarrazin_smallthe 1960s and 1970s, has died at age 70.

The Quebec-born Sarrazin, whose Montreal death Sunday followed a brief illness, was often compared to Peter Fonda. The two had similar lanky good looks, shaggy hair and sleepy blue eyes. But Sarrazin was a counterculture movie star before Fonda.

Sarrazin starred in The Sweet Ride in 1968, winning a Golden Globe for playing the same kind of youthful rebel Fonda would make famous with Easy Rider a year later. Sarrazin played a disillusioned surfer; his co-star was fellow Quebecer Jacqueline Bisset, later his girlfriend.

The Sweet Ride followed Sarrazin’s star-making turn opposite George C. Scott in 1967’s The Flim-Flam Man, which also brought the Canadian actor comparisons to Marlon Brando and James Dean.

But Sarrazin resisted such blandishments, even as his sky rocket
Michael_Sarrazin_small continued to soar with roles opposite Paul Newman (Sometimes a Great Notion), Jane Fonda (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) and Barbra Streisand (For Pete’s Sake).

In a 1968 interview with the Star’s Frank Rasky, Sarrazin described himself as a “tramp actor” and vowed he’d never sell out to Hollywood’s charms:

“I don’t want a zillion dollars. I don’t want to be a carbon-copy star. All I want is to be me, Michael Sarrazin, maybe the best damned actor in the world. Take me on my own terms, or I’ll cut out.”

He resisted glamour in deed as well as word. One of his proudest career roles was playing the monster in the 1973 TV film, Frankenstein: The True Story. His acting career slowed in recent years, but one performance still to be seen is a small part in Walter Salles’ upcoming On the Road, the screen adaptation of Beat icon Jack Kerouac’s ode to the restless spirit.

Sarrazin moved back to Montreal five years ago. He leaves his two daughters Michelle and Catherine, a sister Enid, kid brother Pierre, and sisters-in-law Marguerite Sarrazin and Suzette Couture.

Source Code: Techno-Thriller Is 'Groundhog Day' On A Train

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Stephen Cole

(Apr. 1, 2011) Source Code begins in full, racing Hitchcock mode:
code01rv2_JPG_1260329cl-4_small aerial shots of Chicago, including vertiginous views down onto passing skyscrapers, and every glance made ominous by shrieks from an alarmed string section.

Once inside a speeding train aimed at the city, we understand the distress. A passenger, Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) snaps awake as his flirty seatmate, Christina (Michelle Monaghan), calls him by another name. Stumbling into a rest room, the distraught traveller finds a stranger’s face in the mirror.

Moments later, the train explodes and Stevens is pulled through fiery debris. Waking again in a drab capsule, our hero is informed that the preceding experience amounts to a briefing on his latest assignment:

Terrorists are attacking Chicago. Soon, Stevens will be returned to the death train, sent back in time to a moment eight minutes before the bomb goes off. The Special Forces operator has precisely 480 seconds to foil a brewing insurrection.

The latest from David Bowie’s filmmaker son, Duncan Jones (Moon), is a deceptively complex pleasure craft weighted down with so many plots it’s a wonder the whole thing moves with such grace and efficiency. A techno thriller with all the trimmings, Source Code is loaded with ticking bombs and dastardly concealed villains.

And the Hitchcock stuff off the top isn’t just for show: Stevens and Christina are a pre-arranged romance. His handlers insert him into the closest chromosome match on the train, Christina’s shiny new, untried boyfriend. So the world thinks he’s someone else. That’s pretty well adman Cary Grant’s dilemma when he bumps into Eva Marie Saint on a train to Chicago in North by Northwest.

Like Hitchcock’s great 1959 film, Source Code is a romantic comedy disguised as a suspense thriller. It is also a thoughtful meditation on lunatic heroes. Way back in 1969, Bowie compared being a rock star with being a helpless astronaut (Major Tom) in Space Oddity (“Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.”)

When we meet Stevens, he’s a burnout case like Major Tom. He’s just back from Afghanistan, ineffably sad, ready for retirement.

The plot, then, is twofold: Can Colter Stevens save the world? And can love save Colter Stevens?

The juxtaposition makes both storylines more intriguing. Michelle Monaghan’s clowning response to her boyfriend’s sudden histrionics lends the drama a giddy fizz. She also spares Gyllenhaal the dull task of charging about, eyes narrowed, like a proper hero for the entire film.

Having a sceptical partner also keeps Gyllenhaal honest, discouraging the actor’s propensity for frantic overplaying. The two leads have a light, teasing rapport that nicely contrasts and sets up the film’s desperate race-against-the-clock storyline.

Director Jones and screenwriter Ben Ripley also deserve credit for expertly shuffling the plot. Stevens can’t solve the bomber riddle in one try, so must return to the exploding train again and again. It’s a set-up that permits him to engage suspects at different angles to gather evidence while allowing a series of dates – a full-blown romance – with Christina.

Source Code could use more compelling villains and secondary characters. But there is one stranger on the train who serves the film’s varied purposes. Canadian funny man Russell Peters plays a sour comic who is continuously put off by Stevens’ meddlesome investigation. He also figures prominently and well in the film’s cleverly sprung ending.

Source Code

Directed by Duncan Jones

Written by Ben Ripley

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright and Russell Peters

Classification: PG

Special to The Globe and Mail

Penn Walks Carpet, Depp Walks Plank At Cannes

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Apr 14, 2011) Sean Penn will walk the red carpet twice and Johnny
Sean%20Penn%20The%20Tree%20of%20LIfe_small Depp will walk the plank at next month’s Cannes Film Festival.

Penn will essentially be competing for the Palme d’Or against himself, in two films that were amongst the many announced Thursday for the fest’s official selection.

Penn stars in both Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must Be the Place.

There are many familiar names amongst this year’s Palme rivals. They include Lars von Trier (Melancholia), Nanni Moretti (We Have a Pope), Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (The Kid With a Bike), Pedro Almodovar (The Skin That I Inhabit), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) and Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin).

Depp’s franchise blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will screen out of competition during the May 11-22 event.

So will Jodie Foster’s The Beaver, Mel Gibson’s controversial return to the screen -- and the Cannes red carpet -- following his public shaming last year.

Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight In Paris, opens the fest May 11 out of competition.

A expected Canadian challenger for the Palme, Toronto’s David Cronenberg, did not make the list with his new film, A Dangerous Method.

The Palme jury will be led by actor Robert De Niro.

A Canadian Daydreaming In L.A.

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Apr 14, 2011) Writer/director Mike Goldbach is living the bicultural
Daydream%20Nation1_small life, just like his new movie, Daydream Nation.

Goldbach hails from Ontario, specifically the small town of Arva, near London, where he drew some of the inspiration for his teen-themed first feature.

Like many Canucks seeking a career in movies, he splits his time between Toronto and Los Angeles, the latter being where he’s on the phone for some Daydream Nation press duties.

“I live half the year in L.A.,” Goldbach, 33, says down the line. “I love it. It’s really a great place to be, as a screenwriter. My goal is to get jobs here as a screenwriter because that’s how I make a living and pay the bills. I think it forces me to become better at my craft but, at the same time, I want to continue to still live in Canada and be a Canadian filmmaker.”

On the strength of Daydream Nation, which opened the Canada First! program at TIFF 2010, and Childstar, the 2004 film he co-wrote with Don McKellar, Goldbach has become an in-demand screenwriter.

He’s currently writing Castaway on the Moon for Mark Waters (Mean Girls), a remake of a Korean mystery drama.

Goldbach is also hoping for progress on Jaws of Life, his planned next film about an age-inappropriate romance. The script made the 2009 Hollywood “Black List” of promising screenplays, a list that also included The King’s Speech.

At the moment, however, Goldbach is caught up with Daydream Nation, which has a bicultural cast of Americans Kat Dennings, Josh Lucas and Andie MacDowell, along with Canadians Reece Thompson, Katie Boland and Rachel Blanchard.

“That’s the goal,” Goldbach said. “For me, Daydream Nation is great example of how to combine the two aesthetics: you know, the sort of more eccentric qualities of a Canadian film with a slightly more American visual esthetic.”

How do you keep so many balls in the air? Doesn’t it drive you to distraction?

It does, completely, but you have to because the way it works, if you have your eggs in one basket and then that film gets stalled, then you’re left holding nothing. And that happened to me so many times over the years. See, the nice thing about getting a little bit older and having been at it for awhile is that I have more projects on the go. That gives you, actually, a lot more stability.

Is it strange to be talking about a film that premiered at TIFF back in the fall, now that you’ve moved on to other projects?

Actually, I was just in Dallas last week for the Dallas Film Festival and I watched the film there again. We did have an amazing response there — maybe our best response yet. So I actually feel slightly immersed in it again, just coming out of that experience, but I think that if it hadn’t been for that it would be strange.

Did the Dallas audience view it as a Canadian film?

I don’t think they had any idea it was a Canadian film, which is very gratifying in the sense that they didn’t bring any of that kind of cultural baggage or expectations to it. I don’t think they even knew I was Canadian. I can’t quite explain why they had such a positive response, but maybe it’s because there are these sort of Southern Gothic touches to the screenplay or maybe it’s because a lot of them are from small towns as well and they can relate to the lifestyle.

You’ve said that Daydream Nation is based in part on your own small-town early life.

Exactly. A lot of the things in the film — like the serial killer, the industrial fire, the feeling that the world is about to end — for me, these were the kinds of visual metaphors for the feelings that you have growing up as a teenager, the sort of anxiety and the dread and the longing and a lot of romantic feelings as well. So instead of having the teenagers talk about those feelings, like you’d see in a John Hughes film, I wanted to show them outside of them: have them be sort of poetic images.

When you were growing up, in 1990, there was a huge industrial fire in nearby Hagersville, Ont., involving 13 million tires that took weeks to extinguish. Any resemblance to the Daydream Nation blaze?

Oh, totally — that huge tire fire is completely what this is based on! It’s funny, because so many people, when we were making the film, didn’t believe me that this sort of thing actually takes place! I remember hearing about it on the radio all the time and following it on TV. It’s that feeling of the way these kind of outside disasters suddenly influence the fabric of your own life.

Michael Douglas Helps Montreal Hospital That Detected His Cancer

Source: www.thestar.com - By Andy Blatchford

(Apr 18, 2011) MONTREAL—Michael Douglas’s battle with throat
Michael%20Douglas%20and%20Catherine%20Zeta-Jones_small cancer began in Canada — and now the Oscar-winning actor is giving back to the Montreal hospital that detected a disease others had missed.

An appreciative Douglas, star of Hollywood films such as “Basic Instinct” and “Wall Street,” volunteered to headline a posh fundraiser next month for McGill University’s head and neck cancer fund.

Last year, Douglas underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments in the United States for a walnut-sized tumour he now says is gone.

But the cancer diagnosis first came from the McGill-affiliated Jewish General Hospital — only weeks after several physicians elsewhere had given him a clean bill of health.

As a thank you, the 66-year-old actor, who owns a vacation home north of Montreal in the Mont-Tremblant area, personally offered his star power to the hospital.

Douglas’s publicist confirmed Monday the Montreal hospital discovered the cancer first.

“That’s where he found out he had his cancer,” Allen Burry said of the Jewish General Hospital in a phone interview.

“He was happy to do it (the fundraiser).”

Organizers of the $375-a-head gala on May 3 have pencilled Douglas in as the honoured invitee, meaning he will mingle with ticket holders, sign autographs and say a few words to the guests.

Those hoping for more face time with Douglas can buy a $750 VIP ticket, giving them access to his pre-event cocktail.

“It was his very gracious offer to help us in view of his own battle with throat cancer,” said Dr. Saul Frenkiel, a co-chair of the fundraiser who was personally contacted by Douglas.

“We’re hoping as the evening unfolds that it will be a big year (for the event) ... there’s a buzz.”

Douglas and his actress wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, have even put themselves up for auction. The biggest item on the live auction list is a golf outing at Mont-Tremblant with the Hollywood power couple.

The annual event has featured celebrities in the past, including Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau and Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut.

But Frenkiel is pretty sure Douglas is the most prominent drawing card in the event’s 17 years.

“Certainly, Michael Douglas ... helps to bring to the attention of the public the need to do important research in the head and neck cancer field,” said Frenkiel, a head and neck surgeon, or otolaryngologist.

He underlined the importance of the charity because some head and neck cancers are on the rise, including thyroid cancers and throat cancers caused by the human papillomavirus.

The money raised will fund research and improvements to direct patient care. Last year’s event brought in around $1.5 million, said Frenkiel, who hopes to break the $1 million mark again.

“We were very appreciative of his kind support — it was a gracious personal offer and certainly reflected his own inner personality and willingness to help battle head and neck cancer,” he said of Douglas.

Shortly after announcing last August that he had been diagnosed with cancer, Douglas told David Letterman that he had his persistently sore throat checked out earlier in the summer.

“I actually went through a litany of doctors and tests — they didn’t find anything,” Douglas said during an appearance on Letterman’s “Late Show.”

Douglas, who will begin shooting the film “Liberace” this spring, announced in January that his tumour was gone and that he had regained 12 of the 32 pounds he had lost during treatment.

“He’s doing well, he’s doing extremely well,” Burry said.

Isaiah Mustafa - The “Madea's Big Happy Family” Interview

Source: Kam Williams

(April 18, 2011) NFL player-turned-actor
Isaiah Mustafa became famous almost overnight in 2010 as the result of starring in a series of Emmy-winning Old Spice TV commercials. Serving as pitchman for the phenomenally-successful "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign also transformed Isaiah into an internet sensation when the ads and several spinoffs subsequently went viral, enjoying hundreds of millions of hits on Youtube.

Soon thereafter, he was named one of People Magazine's "Most Beautiful People of 2010,” and Tyler Perry announced on Oprah that Isaiah would be playing a lead role in “
Madea’s Big Happy Family." Additionally, he will be seen in July in “Horrible Bosses” opposite Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey.

He currently resides in Los Angeles and when not acting enjoys sports, fitness, gaming, comic books and his two Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Here, Isaiah reflects upon his meteoric rise and his performance as Calvin in the latest Tyler Perry morality play.

Kam Williams: Hi Isaiah, thanks for the interview.

Isaiah Mustafa: Hi, how are ya?

KW: Very well, thanks. What interested you in Madea's Big Happy Family?

IM: Other than the fact that I’m in it? [LOL] Everything! What wouldn’t interest me about it? People really love Madea movies and get a kick out of them.   They’re phenomenally successful. People get excited when a new one’s coming out. So, for me to be in that also, can you imagine?

KW: Tell me a little about your character, Calvin?

IM: He’s just a genuinely good guy. If it needs to be done, ask Calvin.

KW: How was it like being directed by Tyler Perry?

IM: For me, it was probably the best possible intro into playing a lead in a movie. The process was very educational for me, and he made it flow naturally. He was both easy to work with and to get along with. So, it was awesome for him to be so patient with me. All in all, it was a really great experience. 

KW: And how did you like working with such a big-name cast?

IM: It was an honour. I was like, “Wow!” and just grateful to have the opportunity to play with so many people whose work I’ve admired for so long.

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles says: The Old Spice commercials are pretty fast paced and upbeat. How many takes to get it perfectly done and how is it possible for you and the crew to not crack up laughing during the shoots?

IM: In terms of the takes, we normally rehearse several times over the course of 4 or 5 days so that by the last day it’s like a well-oiled machine. And as far as cracking up, if I laugh halfway through, it would ruin the take and everybody would have to reset. And that reset is about 15 to 25 minutes. So, there’s a lot of pressure to nail it. You don’t want to mess up.

KW: Harriet also asks: Where did you take harder "hits" – on the football field as a wide receiver or on the set shooting those Old Spice ads as an actor?

IM: In acting, the hits you take are in doing the same thing over and over and over again. Football is different, but at some point you’re going to need a hot bath and a massage after any sort of gruelling activity.

KW: What’s it like to become famous overnight from a TV commercial?

IM: At some point you just have to give thanks to whatever’s out there controlling the pace, and enjoy the process while it’s happening.

KW: Marcia Evans asks: I became an admirer of yours after viewing an Old Spice commercial for the first time! It's apparent that you are health conscious. 
Do you have any aspirations to bring health and fitness to our community, particularly to our youth? 

IM: I’m not on a council and I haven’t started a non-profit, but being that I have a child in elementary school, I’m always encouraging kids to stay active. My daughter’s doing gymnastics. 

KW: Larry Greenberg says: My son and I use Old Spice mainly because you are so funny. I have kind of a personal question. What deodorant do you use?

IM: Old Spice After Hours.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: How has smelling like a man changed your life?

IM: [LOL] That’s an interesting question because that implies that I haven’t always been a man. Well, considering that I’ve always been a male, it hasn’t changed all that much. Maybe it’s a little more dynamic. How about that?

KW: How has life in general changed for you since Old Spice? Do you get stopped in public a lot?

IM: It’s not that different. Sometimes people come up and talk to me and say they like my work. And I smile back and say, “Thank you.” People are very polite.

KW: Did you have any sense when you were shooting the first add how big they were going to be?

IM: No, not at all. I don’t think anybody could predict a phenomenon like that.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: When did you discover that you had an interest and talent for acting?

IM: When I was about 5.

KW: Patricia has a follow-up: Which actors inspired you when you were a kid?
IM: I really liked Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray. They could entertain me for hours on end. Also Chevy Chase .

KW: Finally, Patricia says: There are many kids who want to become celebrities without getting an education first. Can you share with the youth how it was useful for your career to get a solid college education?

IM: That’s a tricky question, because I don’t personally know what it’s like not to have an education. And I’ve also seen plenty of people who never attended college become successful in the arts. I think an education is beneficial, but whether it takes an education to be successful in the arts is a whole other question.

KW: Since you have an Arabic name, Tony Noel was wondering whether you’re a Muslim, how that has affected your career choices, and if you’ve been impacted personally by the negative sentiment in the U.S. about Islam?

IM: I don’t answer questions that have religion involved in them, so we can move on to the next one.

KW: What was it like to make People Magazine "Most Beautiful People” list last year?

IM: [Chuckles] It was an honour that someone would categorize me as a beautiful person.

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

IM: No, because I’m really happy about any question that’s not being asked.

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

IM: Not about stuff I can’t control.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

IM: At this particular moment, yes.

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

IM: About 10 questions ago when you asked me that crazy question about smelling like a man.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

IM: The TV show iCarly. I watch it with my daughter all the time.

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

IM: “The Answer” by John Assaraf. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002PJ4IQQ/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20  

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

IM: Gnarls Barkley.

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

IM: [Laughs heartily] Sorry, I’m not much of a cook. I make a lot of shakes, and eat some fruit, but I generally keep it moving. I don’t sit down and have meal too often, unless I go out for dinner. Right now, I’m on a vegan diet. 

KW: What type of exercise regimen are you on to stay in such great shape?

IM: It’s really basic. Lots of push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. But I’m doing something athletic all day long. [Laughs]

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

IM: John Varvatos and Vivienne Westwood.

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

IM: My reflection through glass that has been pelted with toothpaste, along with a few affirmations that I’ve written on it.

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

IM: Come on! That’s such a potentially polarizing question. I’d wish for a bag of extra wishes.

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

IM: Wow! I can’t remember.

KW: The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?

IM: The comic book character Luke Cage.

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

IM: I just want to be remembered.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Isaiah, and best of luck with the film and the ads.

IM: Alright, my man.

To see Isaiah in Old Spice commercials, visit HERE.

To see the trailer for “Madea's Big Happy Family,” visit HERE.

Stuart Townsend - Actor Relishes Playing Man With No Past

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Apr 19, 2011) Stuart Townsend plays a man with a tattoo on his back and no memory of his super spy past on the new drama XIII. The suspense thriller premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Showcase.

Based originally on a Belgian graphic novel written 25 years ago, the series takes its cue more from the 2008 XIII miniseries starring Val Kilmer. The Franco-Canadian production was shot mainly in Toronto with a few scenes shot in Paris. It’s from many of the same people behind the Showcase hit Lost Girl, including executive producer Jay Firestone. Gil Grant (NCIS, 24) is showrunner and Peter Mohan (Lost Girl, The Bridge) is co-executive producer.

Townsend plays XIII, a spy with amnesia who is slowly trying to uncover his true identity. Aisha Tyler (24, Friends) is the CIA operative helping him sort things out without getting his head blown off by the bad guys. Canadian actors Stephen McHattie (Happy Town) and Ted Atherton (The Border) play a pair of U.S. presidents. Greg Bryk (Saw V) is a national security adviser. Caterina Murino (Casino Royale) is XIII’s ally and love interest. Tom Berenger (Inception) plays a shadowy industrialist.

“To be honest, it came out of left field,” says Townsend on the phone from his home in Los Angeles. “My agent said, ‘There’s this series, it’s French or something, I really like the script.’ I got 10 pages into it and was hooked.”

The 38-year-old actor says it was great fun playing an action hero. “You feel like a kid again, you get to play with guns, ride motorcycles, shoot bows and arrows, and hang out with hot babes; it’s not a bad gig.”

Townsend knows from hot babes. He was in a long relationship with Charlize Theron that ended last year.

He knew nothing of the graphic novel or the previous miniseries before reading the script. “If I’d seen the miniseries or the comics I might have been swayed,” he says. “Instead I just read the script and got a very clear sense of who this guy was in about five minutes, even though he didn’t know who he was himself.”

Part of the appeal for the actor was playing someone “who saw everyone he came in contact with as a potential threat. That must be a very strange way to have to function and live. Obviously, he doesn’t remember his past, but he knows he’s trained.”

The spy with a memory glitch has been done before on everything from the great but short-lived Bruce Greenwood series Nowhere Man (1995-96) to Chuck. What distinguishes this series, says Townsend, is that XIII is also on a search to find out if he is a good guy or a bad guy.

“That’s pretty intriguing,” says Townsend, who tried not to read too far ahead while shooting the series so as to be only steps ahead of where the audience would be. “I think a lot of us have at some stage asked ourselves what it would feel like if we forgot our past. Some people want to forget the past!”

Known mainly for his work in such films as Queen of the Damned and Chaos Theory, Townsend has worked in television before, notably in the short-lived ABC remake of The Night Stalker in 2005. He can also be heard in his buddy Seth Green’s animated comedy series Robot Chicken.

“I did a romantic comedy with Seth a few years back (2005’s The Best Man) and he was setting Robot Chicken up at the time,” says Townsend. Green kept trying to sell the Irish actor on providing voices for some of the doll-like animated characters on his series. “I had no idea what he was talking about, but he kept saying, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be great.’”

Green had a specific role in mind for Townsend: the Lucky Charms leprechaun as a raging alcoholic.

“It’s been a dream come true,” says Townsend, “a career highlight for sure.”

Among Townsend’s other credits is a role in the 2003 film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Asked if he has any funny Sean Connery stories to share, he just laughs. “Oh my God,” says Townsend. “Him and the director . . . the only stories I have involve almost fist fights. Luckily, I didn’t have anything to do with it. That was just one of those shoots that didn’t go well. We had a massive flood and a submarine set that very ironically went 14 feet under water. (Shooting) went on and on and was a bit of a disaster.”

As Townsend says, sometimes forgetting the past wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Text And The City With Jason Lewis

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(Apr 19, 2011) Jason Lewis’s new movie, Textuality, opening
Jason%20Lewis_small Friday, may be about the evils of avoiding communication by texting instead of talking, but he’s happy to email when required.

He just sent an email to Woody Harrelson, who directed the Sex and the City regular in the play This is Our Youth in Toronto in 2004. Lewis wants to see Harrelson’s new play, Bullet for Adolf, at Hart House Theatre and catch up with his buddy.

“I sent Woody an email because Woody doesn’t use a (cell) phone,” Lewis explained with a grin as he leaned back in a comfy couch in a downtown hotel suite Monday. “He’s smart. He doesn’t like having all these microwaves frying his head and I never expect to get him on the phone.”

But 39-year-old Lewis, who played waiter-actor-model Smith Jerrod, sexy young lover to Samantha (Kim Cattrall) on SATC, says he’s “a child of technology” and tends to use all the tech toys at his disposal.

“But I prefer meeting with friends and enjoying each other’s company,” he adds.

The Canadian indie film directed by Warren P. Sonoda stars Lewis as Breslin, a rising investment guru who falls for free spirit Simone (Carly Pope of Young People F--king), a woman who is juggling three lovers and a married boyfriend (Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack) with the help of social media.

Meanwhile, Breslin has a couple of gals on the go himself, including Dani (Kristen Hager), who is very annoyed he has yet to change his Facebook relationship status to reflect her role in his life. Everybody is so busy texting to set up the next hook-up, they all fail to emotionally connect.

Although California-born Lewis is best known for his roles on the SATC TV series and both movies, his piercing blue eyes and angular frame led him to a successful career as a model before making the switch to acting, working for designers like Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss. Now Lewis is on to other projects, finishing a story for a period western, Cowboys. He hopes to star as a bad seed brother who wars with his sibling, as well as direct the picture.

He says the script for Texuality sold him on doing the movie in Toronto in the fall of 2009.

“I think it’s timely and pretty much what we’re all going through,” says Lewis, adding he’s never fallen prey to the relationship curse of our times — the email breakup.

“It has not happened to me and I haven’t done it,” he says. “What a schmuck thing to do. Have the guts! In a way it’s indicative of what you’re losing if you don’t have to put yourself on the line in the same way we used to and so I think you’re missing out on some of that personal development and courage.”

Lewis talks about “the weight of consideration” in making a phone call. “There’s a lot less ownership of words when we write back and forth emails — why do people write what they write?”

When it comes to romance, taking a chance on a face-to-face involves more risk, Lewis points out.

“How many guys today go across the room and put themselves on the line in front of a girl? And for boys my age I think there’s a story of at least one time in all our lives where you went up to a girl, completely nervous . . . and you’re shot down in horrible flames.”

The spectacularly attractive actor has been burned?

“I’ve been shot down plenty of times,” he says, wincing a bit.

Come on, now.

“I don’t tend to think of myself as a good-looking guy,” he says modestly. “It was never my self-image growing up. I guess it has its pluses and drawbacks like anything does. Is someone going to be attracted to your outside and not your inside?”

Then he adds with a laugh, “But it’s a better opener than being a troll.”

Although he was in a long-term relationship with actress Rosario Dawson, Lewis says he is now single and happily living in one of Los Angeles’s residential canyons with his 14-year-old dog. He spends his time writing and heading to the beach to surf.

Who knows? Maybe he’ll meet someone in Toronto — he may even send her an email.

Bollywood: The Next Generation

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Aparita Bhandari

(April 20, 2011) Call it Bollywood’s new swagger.

Once dismissed as being extravagantly over-the-top, the Indian film
industry is on the receiving end of a global love-in: Bollywood dancing is now a genre on So You Think You Can Dance, and Bollywood stars are popping up everywhere – from Oprah to the Oscars red carpet.

But the fate of contemporary Bollywood masala films is in the hands of its audience, says director Rohan Sippy, and it pays to be faithful to them.

“The more specific you are, the more universal you become,” he says. “If I try to make a film that a guy in Toronto might want to watch, you start hedging your bets.

“Also, India’s profile has changed so much in the last few years, that there is a lot of curiosity.”

With this new curiosity, a generation of filmmakers like Sippy are tweaking the script and experimenting with new narratives within the convention.

Take, for instance, his third feature film Dum Maaro Dum, opening in theatres across India and North America Friday. Sippy describes it as a “dramatic-suspense-thriller,” and with its inventive camera angles, gritty dialogue and non-linear plot structure, it’s not a typical Bollywood film.

Set in Goa, it follows the story of four characters – a police officer (Abhishek Bachchan), a student (Prateik Babbar), a musician (Rana Daggubati) and an aspiring flight attendant (Bipasha Basu) – whose intertwining lives are connected with the city’s drug-trafficking underbelly.

Unless they are filmed outside India, Bollywood shoots mostly take place on elaborate sets and don’t have to deal with crowd control. So it’s unusual that a big-budget film like Dum Maaro Dum was shot entirely on location.

“We did a lot of hand-held shots, trying to make it feel naturalistic. The audience might not be able to pinpoint it, but it adds up to a new grammar,” Sippy says by phone from Sound City in Andheri West, Mumbai, where he was putting the finishing touches on the film.

For a scene set in a night market, Sippy decided to film Bachchan guerrilla-style, following him with hidden cameras as he melted into the crowds.

“It’s such a focused social point in Goa, with 600 to 700 stalls and all this life around it,” says Sippy. “[Writer Shridhar Raghavan] and I scoped out the night market four or five times, just trying to understand the technical challenges – shooting at night, a live crowd, trying to be invisible.

“You are really standing on a crevasse, things are not in your control. But there’s an excitement in pushing ideas and bringing them to life.”

A scion of a filmmaking family, Sippy has been steeped in the Bollywood tradition. His father Ramesh Sippy and grandfather G.P. Sippy were behind one of Indian cinema’s biggest blockbusters, Sholay (1975). Starring Bollywood legends Amitabh Bachchan (Abhishek Bachchan’s father) and Dharmendra (who goes by his first name) as two petty thieves hired by a former police officer to catch a vicious dacoit, it was India’s first “curry western” – the Bollywood take on spaghetti western.

In Dum Maaro Dum, Sippy has the younger Bachchan putting his own spin on a role often played his father, as a young cop fighting society’s evil.

The starting point, and source of vision for the whole project, was Raghavan’s script. Raghavan, a former journalist-turned-screenwriter, vacations in Goa a few times a year.

Beginning in 2006, he started noticing sporadic reports of crime there. Intrigued by the underbelly of a place otherwise considered a paradise, he wrote a film treatment in a novella form.

When Sippy got a glimpse of that early draft, he assembled a small crew.

“A bunch of us travelled to Goa by train, and hung around for ages,” Raghavan says. “A crucial plot point … came [out of a conversation] with a lovely elderly lady who owned this beautiful 350-year-old bungalow. Bit by bit, the story got more layers. That’s pretty much how it got made.”

Both Sippy and Raghavan grew up in an era of Indian cinema that saw films stay in theatres for years at a time. Everything about those movies was larger than life – but now audiences are looking for something more than the same old story.

“The multiplexes have opened up an avenue for filmmakers to do different things,” Sippy says.

“But that big classic Hindi film has not gone away either,” he continues, citing the recent success of Bollywood box-office hits 3 Idiots and Dabangg that drew “halls full of thousands of people.”

“And I hope it never does. Because that is really what is unique to our cinematic culture, this lovely blend of emotion, music, which comes together in our masala style.

“Even [Dum Maaro Dum] has a lot of modern sensibilities to it … but at the same time, music drives things in a very fundamental way that [Bollywood fans] can relate to. I hope others also enjoy it. But it’s very much got our stamp on it.”

Special to The Globe and Mail


Paula Patton’s New ‘Mission’: Doing Her Own Stunts

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Apr 19, 2011) *Paula Patton says she jumped at the chance to take part in the next “Mission: Impossible” movie because it gives her the opportunity to perform stunts. “‘Mission: Impossible’ came as a surprise,” she told Cinemablend.com. “It was an incredible opportunity for me, especially after being pregnant. I got to do all my own stunts. I got to be a very fierce, badass chick, if I can say that. It was a dream come true in many ways to be able to play this character.” In “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol,” star Tom Cruise reprises his role as secret agent Ethan Hunt under director Brad Bird. The film is due in theatres on Dec. 16.

Casting Call for Steve Harvey’s On Screen Book Adaptation

Source: www.eurweb.com

*Steve Harvey’s book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” is on its way to becoming a movie. According to reports, casting is set to take place any day now. Producer Will Packer says they are looking for one man and one woman between the ages of 18 and 50 and that’s where you can possibly come in. Interested actors and actresses are asked to videotape themselves auditioning using a script they provide and upload a headshot and any past gigs on www.FaceoftheFan.com. The deadline is May 13. Beginning May 20, the public will play a role in all of it and vote for those who should be in the movie. Each week, unfavourable actors will be eliminated from the site Winners will be announced June 8. Meanwhile, actor/comedian Kevin Hart is set to join the cast of “Think Like a Man” and play the lead character, a professional relationship expert whose love life and
kevin_hart2011-open-shirt-jacket-med_small marriage is falling apart. Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, and Clint Culpepper are writing the script, which will touch on many ideas and aspects expressed in the book, such as why men cheat, how to get a wedding ring, and the fact that women would be better off in a relationship if they embraced their girly-side more often. Filming is set to start in July.

::TV NEWS::\

ABC Cans Soap Operas In Favour Of Food Shows

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Zosia Bielski

(Apr. 15, 2011) You can just see it: In a well-appointed parlour, an
allmychildren_1265306cl-3_small aging stud lingering behind her, the soap star curses the reign of the food shows, over-acting throughout.

ABC is canning two soap operas in favour of food shows, ending the 40-year runs of "
All My Children" and "One Life to Live" next year.

After researching the changing viewing patterns of their audience, ABC has decided [http://blogs.abcnews.com/pressroom/2011/04/abc-evolves-the-face-of-daytime-television-with-the-launch-of-two-new-shows-the-chew-and-the-revolut.html] to move away from weepy soap stars and deus ex machina plot resolutions in favour of self-helpy lifestyle shows.

"The Chew" will look at food "as a source of joy, health, family ritual, friendship, breaking news, dating, fitness, weight loss, travel adventures and life's moments." It also brings in foodie heavyweights Mario Batali and Michael Symon.

"The Revolution," will help viewers "transform all areas of their lives from relationships, to family, food, style, home design, finance and more," and feature celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, among others.

Brian Frons, President Daytime, Disney ABC Television Group, says ABC viewers "are telling us there is room for informative, authentic and fun shows that are relatable, offer a wide variety of opinions and focus on 'real life' takeaways."

Ouch. You mean coming back from the dead, over and over again, and maintaining perfect maquillage through your darkest moments aren't real life takeaways?

Mr. Frons acknowledges how "bittersweet" the shifting line-up is, promising that the soaps will "sunset" in a way that's mindful of diehard fans.

"All My Children" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=ca&client=mv-google&hl=en&v=wqhxcdatzik] and "One Life to Live" [http://youtube.com/watch?gl=ca&client=mv-google&hl=en&v=qv42ndsh86a] will conclude each series in a manner that respects their legacies and the longstanding hopes of many of their viewers," he promised.

"General Hospital" is not on the chopping block - yet.

Celebrating The Comic Genius Of Ernie Kovacs

Source: www.thestar.com - By Frazier Moore

(Apr 15, 2011) If you have ever laughed at, say, David Letterman or
Ernie%20Kovacs_small Monty Python’s Flying Circus or Laugh-In or Saturday Night Live or Steve Allen or Craig Ferguson, then you owe a debt to Ernie Kovacs. After more than 50 years, he remains the wellspring of TV as an instrument of humour and delighted innovation.

Sadly, much of Kovacs’ work is gone. In the 1950s, most shows weren’t preserved after airing. Pre-recorded shows were routinely erased so the tape could be reused for the next thing.

But a new six-disk boxed set, The Ernie Kovacs Collection, curates surviving treasures from Kovacs’ prodigious TV output stretching from 1951 through his untimely death in 1962. It’s distributed by Shout! Factory in the U.S., listed at $54.99 ( www.shoutfactory.com).

These precious samples, lovingly recovered and restored, provide startling glimpses of the birth of television — even TV as we watch it today, rejiggered and recycled by Kovacs’ disciples long after his passing. Kovacs marks where TV started, and he has never been eclipsed as a TV visionary.

A native of Trenton, N.J., he was an aspiring-actor-turned-radio-personality when, in 1950, he landed a job at a local Philadelphia TV station. There he hosted wacky fashion and cooking programs, as well as the first-ever TV wake-up show (an unwitting prototype of NBC’s Today, which would debut nationally in 1952).

No recordings exist of these earliest efforts, but they gave Kovacs his providential entry to a video wonderland where, to him, the creative possibilities must have seemed limitless.

The Ernie Kovacs Collection kicks off with a March 7, 1951, edition of It’s Time for Ernie, a live, local afternoon show.

Radiating buoyancy, amusement, his signature moustache and cigar, Kovacs is clearly in sync with his TV playground.

He is as adept at free-form foolishness as at masterminding a meticulously crafted gag. And he never shrinks from the offbeat or conceptual. In the midst of his riffing he throws open the studio doors to take a leisurely stroll down a long corridor into the distance, for a sip from a water fountain. Then he makes his way back into the studio and continues where he left off.

In another off-the-cuff moment, he begins dusting his props-cluttered set, then, moving offstage, turns his attention to a TV camera, whose lens he scrubs with his dust cloth.

“You’re putting on weight,” he chuckles at the viewer through the lens.

TV had hardly begun, and already Kovacs was giving viewers a peek behind TV’s artifice, inviting the audience to join him on the inside.

Instinctively, Kovacs understood what none of his TV contemporaries had guessed, and what few in the business acknowledge today: TV isn’t an extension of radio, cinema, vaudeville or theatre. As a writer-producer-performer, Kovacs knew that TV begged to be something unique. His happy job was to figure out what.

To do it, Kovacs surrounded himself with an evolving troupe of fellow players (often including his wife, the singer-actress Edie Adams), and, as his budget allowed, musicians, dancers and fancier production. But some things never changed: From his first days on TV he claimed the ragtimey Oriental Blues as his lifelong theme song.

The collection includes five half-hour prime-time specials Kovacs produced for ABC in 1961. (The last aired in January 1962, just 10 days after he died at age 42 in a car crash near his home in Beverly Hills, Calif.)

There are moments in these shows whose level of invention and avant-garde abandon not only holds up today, but may have never been excelled on TV since they were taped.

In one sketch, a fellow grows increasingly annoyed by a kids TV host, “Freddy the Friendly Fireman.” Finally the viewer raises a pistol and fires. Pan to the TV: Freddy, shot dead, is draped out of the TV screen into the viewer’s living room.

In one of Kovacs’ music videos (an art form he apparently pioneered) a high-stakes poker game is set to the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

Kovacs loved music, but also experimented with silent bits. He was sophisticated, but loved to show things unexpectedly crashing through the floor. He would stage extended pieces or quick visual puns. He loved when things went wrong.

His taste for the absurd was reflected in a bit that may remain his best-known: the Nairobi Trio. Three people costumed in gorilla suits, bowlers and long overcoats mechanically mime to a tune like windup toys, with one of them (played by Kovacs) repeatedly thwacked on the head with a timpani mallet by a fellow gorilla.

It was delightfully low-tech. But Kovacs was also ever on the lookout for ways to make TV, however primitive in those days, do extraordinary things. He came up with a simple device that allowed the picture to tilt or even spin, which served some of his comedy bits. He introduced an early form of the “green screen” effect, enabling a married man’s “invisible girlfriend” to conveniently vanish from sight after taking off her clothes.

By today’s standards, the TV equipment of the 1950s, and even early 1960s, was cumbersome and confining. But not for Kovacs, whose imagination made TV soar.

To watch him at any phase of his career is to see a man at play. At times his care is painstaking, but there’s no pain. He finds joy in every idea. For him, TV was too important to be serious about it.

As surveyed by this DVD collection, Kovacs’ career spanned little more than a decade, with his many shows popping up on numerous networks at every hour until, a half-century ago, it was cut short, denying him the measure of stardom he deserved.

He did TV his way for a cult of Kovacs-worshippers, and left an imprint on TV that continues to be recognized by people who don’t even know his name.

But oddly enough, there has been little acceptance or inspiration for advancing the cause he championed: broadcast video as an art form. This DVD treasury celebrates Kovacs as TV’s first video auteur — and, thus far, arguably its last.

A Shakeup At The Office: Goodbye, Steve Carell. Hello, Will Ferrell

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(Apr. 15, 2011) You've got to have friends to survive in the TV
will%20ferrell_small business, or in the paper-products industry. In either world, Steve Carell is covered.

With a gentle shove from comedy colleague
Will Ferrell, Carell's beloved TV persona Michael Scott begins the long goodbye Thursday night in The Office (NBC, 9 p.m.; Global, 10 p.m.). Fare thee well to the most original character on American television.

Although Carell's actual departure from The Office will not happen until April 28, tonight's episode will confirm Michael has accepted a new position in Colorado while simultaneously introducing one Deangelo Vickers (Ferrell) as his managerial replacement. (Ferrell created the character and the name with The Office writers.)

Contrary to what you may have heard around the water cooler, Ferrell will not be replacing Carell on the show, which is confirmed to return for its eighth, possibly last, season next fall.

Instead, Ferrell has signed up for a four-episode arc, after which he will return to his active film career. Carell's manager position will be filled, though the announcement will not come until after the season finale.

And for the next month, there is reason to watch television on Thursday nights. In the brief clips that have been released, Carell and Ferrell are uproariously funny in their scenes together.

While regular viewers of The Office might have expected Michael to bridle at an interloper moving in to supervise his staff - his family, in many ways - such is not the case. Instead, Michael and Deangelo turn out to be kindred spirits.

In keeping with most of his movie roles, Ferrell is dense but likable as Deangelo, a man obsessed with the American southwest. Michael is, well, Michael. The pair instantly bond and their awkward man-hug (both men facing the same direction) is destined to become the screensaver on countless office computers.

Before the teary farewells and the serving of cake, let us take a moment to acknowledge Carell's contribution to The Office. Over seven seasons, he somehow made a loser lovable.

There were low expectations for NBC's take on The Office when it was launched in the spring of 2005. The original British version (2001-2003) was co-created by Ricky Gervais, who also starred in the pivotal role of office manager David Brent. More than a few critics predicted the American remake wouldn't last a season.

Instead of copying the U.K. series, the U.S. version, which Gervais also-co-created, set about constructing its own workplace universe. Carell came to the show from a six-year stint as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. On that show, Carell's reporter blended cluelessness with knowing nods. Transferred to The Office, Carell expanded on that style to brilliant comic effect.

In his quiet way, Carell transformed the very premise of The Office. Whereas Gervais's manager character David Brent was self-obsessed and savagely obnoxious, Michael Scott (also self-obsessed, also obnoxious) is often painfully human, the embodiment of the Peter Principle. Michael is the last person who should be put in charge of people, so naturally he was put in charge.

The show's mockumentary format actually worked better on the U.S. series, in large part due to Michael's needy confessionals. Such as: "Would I rather be feared or loved? Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me!"

With Carell as its unassuming star, The Office surpassed all expectations by surviving and thriving for seven seasons. Currently, it's one of the most-watched programs in second-run syndication, where many viewers are discovering it for the first time.

But soon The Office will be a very different show. Carell is leaving to pursue his own active film career (in recent times, he's had hits with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Little Miss Sunshine and Despicable Me, and misses with Date Night and Get Smart). It's a measure of the respect he commands that NBC will extend his final episode by 20 minutes.

Carell's last show will feature guest turns from Gervais, Will Arnett, Ray Romano, James Spader and British actress Catherine Tate - all of whom, like Ferrell, have been rumoured to be joining the series.

Although worthy comic talents all, it's unlikely any of the finale guest stars would ever attempt to replace Carell on The Office. Some TV shoes are simply too big to fill.

Annoying Things About Tina Fey: She Really Does Have It All

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Johanna Schneller

(Apr. 15, 2011) “I just had an ultrasound,” Tina Fey said, her opening line in our 30-minute phone interview. “I’m expecting.”

So I’d heard, along with the world. Fey, 40 – our Everygirlfriend, the screwball heroine of the new millennium, whose work as Liz Lemon, the hilariously flawed TV producer on the NBC series
30 Rock, has done for smart, funny, sarcastic women what the Wright Brothers did for transportation – had broken the news that she was five months pregnant earlier that day, during a taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show. The information had immediately gone viral.

Fey had incited this Womb Watch herself. A month ago, she’d published an essay in The New Yorker (an excerpt from her new memoir,
Bossypants) in which she ruminated, if she was down to the “last five minutes” of both her fertility and career peak, which she should choose? Her answer – both – was greeted everywhere with the kind of grinning thrill you feel for your best pal.

But if you fear that all this hoo-ha means that Fey has ascended to a level of fame where the air is so rarified that she’s bound to choke on it, you can relax. When I asked, “Announcing your pregnancy on
Oprah, huh?” her answer was reassuringly Lemon-like: She laugh-snorted. “I know!” she said. “It’s so gross.”

Men want to be her. Women want to marry her. And
Bossypants manages to make her even more likeable. Less a thorough memoir than a collection of essays – about her early life (growing up as a theatre geek in a small town outside Philadelphia, work life (at Second City in Chicago, Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock in New York), and motherhood (daughter Alice is now 5) – the book is funny enough that you frequently have to put it down to laugh.

“Opportunities [to write a book] had presented themselves over the years, but because I am a writer first, I didn’t want to jump into a form where I didn’t know what I was doing,” Fey said. “But then, something about turning 40, I felt I had lived long enough to have had enough experiences. There was stuff to say. I felt like there was enough to make a book.”

Fey’s voice is thoroughly audible throughout. Her memory is astonishing, and she has a killer eye for detail. Reading it makes you realize why her humour has such universal appeal: It covers the spectrum from High Verbal Geekiness (where saying “can not” at the right moment is somehow much funnier than saying “can’t”) to Low Physical (that is to say, pee jokes). Anyone can find a point of reference that makes you feel she’s addressing you directly.

“I’m not a diary keeper,” Fey said. “But certain things always stuck with me. I think in Northeast [U.S.] urban culture, people are funny, and storytellers. Anecdotes get passed around. Like the story [in the book] of the boy who went on a date with my friend wearing a T-shirt that read “Olivia Newton-John” in puffy iron-on letters on the front and ‘Totally Hot!’ on the back. That was a story that we talked about often over the years. Just recounting the hilarity of the puffy iron-on letters, and how the shirt was from this weird mall prototype called the Bazaar of all Nations. That detail thing – in the
30 Rock writers’ room we try to use that kind of specificity and detail wherever we can.”

Still, Fey knows the line between revelation and confession, and she doesn’t cross it. In both her book and her interview, she’s perfected the art of sounding personal, while knowing exactly when to stop. Prod her too closely, and she deflects with a joke. And she’s the master of using charming self-deprecation (she was a virgin at 23! She has grey toe hairs!) to woo us into a state of goodwill, so that she can drop scorn-bombs on those who deserve it.

Those bombs – the “stuff she has to say” – form the real spine of the book. Their targets include girl-on-girl sabotage (“the worst kind of female behaviour, right behind saying ‘like’ all the time and leaving your baby in a dumpster”), homophobes and the Hollywood establishment, who automatically consider any woman over 40 “crazy.”

“I have an untrained feminism,” Fey said. “I never took a women’s studies class. I should probably just read Simone de Beauvoir and shut up already. But so much of what people have asked me about over the years was, ‘Was it hard to work at Second City or
SNL? Was it a boys’ club?’ I felt it was inherently part of my story.

“But it’s tricky,” she continued. “My daughter Alice is 5. Last year, someone gave us
Free to Be You and Me [a 1970s record extolling personal rights], and I almost pulled it out of rotation, because there are some things in it that are like [triumphant voice], ‘And girls can do this!’ Alice would say, ‘I know that, why are they saying that?’ I didn’t want to initiate insecurity in her where there was none. It’s different from 1975. And I think, frankly, we owe it all to the Spice Girls.”

As comfortable as Fey is in the boys’ club, hers is decidedly a woman’s story. This is especially evident in a chapter entitled, “Sarah, Oprah, and Captain Hook.” Fey chronicles the heady days of September, 2008, when she was simultaneously taping a 30 Rock episode with Winfrey, appearing as Sarah Palin on SNL and planning her daughter’s third birthday party. Unlike a memoir written by, say, Donald Trump, she insists that each of those things is equally important.

“You can see the proximity of those events in the pictures on my iPhone, “ Fey said. “It’s like, ‘Here’s us at the Emmy’s [
30 Rock won seven that year].’ Three pictures later is Alice’s first day of preschool. Then there’s a shot of me backstage with [British singer] Adele at SNL. In the long run, they do have the same weight. They were all equally exciting to me.”

She laughed. “It is exhausting, though, the ‘having it all’ thing,” she said. “How about not all – let’s not have it all. I could be a person who says, ‘I have to make a movie every summer.’ But I can’t be. If the movie aspect of my career never fully takes off as much as it might, were I not also a mother, that’s fine. In some ways, TV has always been better to women. I don’t have figures to substantiate this, but I feel women get more opportunities on TV, because female viewers control TV a little more. Movies seem to be dominated by what boys and husbands want to see. When scripts are passed around they’re often quite ridiculous. But [Canadian SNL co-creator] Lorne Michaels gave me good advice: Never make a movie that you yourself wouldn’t want to see. I really do want to write one again. It’s just impossible with the series at the same time.”

To achieve success is one thing. To admit it – without being obnoxious – is a trickier feat. But Fey pulls it off in that chapter: She lets herself feel the thrill of success, and so we feel it, too. The Palin impression “came along at a time when I was ready to not be afraid to do that,” Fey said. “If I was on the show I might have been too nervous, or felt like it was too much of a career opportunity. I might have choked up. It is a rare and special moment to be able to say, in any career, ‘Okay, for sure. We did that.’ It doesn’t happen often.”

Fey calls herself “a happy person,” and she’s especially so right now. “
30 Rock is wrapped for the year, which means I feel like I’m on vacation. It’s nice not to have to be hiding my pregnancy any more. We’ll start writing the next season while I’m still pregnant, but we won’t start shooting until after the baby’s born. In January, when I was in my first trimester and editing the book and trying to be in the 30 Rock writers’ room, that was a struggle. But I knew, ‘Okay, when my pregnancy gets to week 13, I won’t be nauseous any more.’ ” She chuckled. “It’s kind of the same at 30 Rock – but that has to hit week 20 for me not to be nauseous.”

Asked about co-star Alec Baldwin’s recent announcement that next season will be his last, Fey was sanguine. “He’s never not talking, that Alec,” she said. “He’s always announcing his departure to someone. We’re all here for next season, and then we’ll have a discussion. Obviously I want to continue with him, but it’s up to him.”

Would she continue without him? “I can’t imagine it now,” she replied. “But what if my cheques stop coming?”

There’s one thing Fey definitely wants to stop talking about: her diet and skin-care regime. “Somehow it must be what sells women’s magazines, because they keep asking,” she said. “I can make four jokes about it, but they’ll just keep pushing until I say, ‘I wash with cold cream and da da da.’ I’ve got to get better about going, ‘You know what? Next.’ Otherwise when they ask [over-enthused voice], ‘What are your favourite healthy snacks?’ I’ll just answer. Then I’ll read the article and it sounds like that’s all I want to talk about, how the Arnold Palmer [a mix of lemonade and iced tea] is a great way to get off soda. Like that’s the thrust of my day.”

But she couldn’t help herself. She had to say it. “It is, though,” she said. “The Arnold Palmer is a great way to get off soda.”

Paul McDonald's American Idol Exit Interview

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

(Apr 15, 2011) Paul McDonald was there for a good time, not a long

The 26-year-old from Huntsville, Ala., told reporters on Friday that he had no expectations when he auditioned for
American Idol in Nashville.

"I happened to be in town (that day). It was five minutes down the street. I had no expectations of anything. That’s why I'm so happy to make it this far," said Paul, who was eliminated from the Top 8 on Thursday.

"I was just doing it for fun, you know. It had never been my dream to win American Idol or anything."

But now that he's been through the experience, he plans to use it to further his real dream: to make a great album of original tunes and continue playing with his band, the Grand Magnolias.

Paul sees himself as a "roots rock and roll, indie kind of stuff" musician. His favourite band of the moment is Mumford and Sons and he also finds the Black Keys cool.

"My main goal is to make music that lasts and that people enjoy."

Paul said he enjoyed being on TV, but "I kind of listened to some people when I probably should have stuck with my gut or my guns. I wish I had done some of these more obscure artists, more of the kind of vibe I was into. I didn’t feel comfortable a whole lot of the time up there because I felt like it wasn’t me all the time."

That being said, he's grateful for the Idol experience.

"It ended up working out great, this American Idol thing is about the biggest platform you can get right now," said Paul, who was used to playing for maybe a few hundred people with his band. "You can’t pay for press that gets 30 million people watching you every night." (Actually, it's closer to 20 million these days, but still.)

"All of a sudden I get on TV, sing a handful of covers and people think I'm cool now."

Most gratifying have been the record producers who've expressed interest in working with him, people it would have taken him years to meet without Idol, he said. But he's also accumulated famous fans, like retired NFL star Kurt Warner.

And Paul confirmed that, yes, he is dating actress Nikki Reed.

"She’s super cool, she’s super smart and a really cool girl, so I'm happy with it," he said.

"We’ve been hanging out here and there, we're both pretty busy. It’s been pretty cool so far."

Paul also got asked about his look, specifically the flashy white suit with the red flowers he wore a couple of times on the show and his very white teeth.

The teeth are partly genetics, he figures, since his sister also has them.

"I've never had professional whitening done ... I've always used Crest Advanced Vivid White toothpaste. I don't drink coffee. I don’t drink Coke. My teeth have always been white."

Paul had the white suit (and a matching black one) custom-made before he got on Idol.

"I broke my bank on that first white suit before I went out to Hollywood," he said. "I’ll wear them for my birthday and New Year’s and all that stuff."

Paul also weighed in on the question of whether men have an advantage in the singing competition, due to girls voting mainly for male contestants. He was the first man voted out of the top 13.

"The teenage girls, it feels like to me they are the ones that watch the show the most. I remember walking out onstage and I would look around - people in the audience have their posters and signs made. (There would be) a thousand screaming 14-year-old girls that have Scotty McCreery posters.

"I don’t know that many guys that watch the show. I think it’s mostly girls. I think the guys definitely have an advantage."


Ced the Entertainer to Lead ‘Hot in Cleveland’ Spinoff

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 18, 2011) *TV Land has announced it’s developing a “Hot in
ced-the-entertainer_small Cleveland” spin-off starring Cedric the Entertainer. The as-yet-untitled series will focus on a character Cedric will debut on Cleveland’s upcoming third season: a minister who gets involved with the ladies’ adventures. “We’re definitely going to bring people quality entertainment and laughs with this new show,” Cedric said. “I’m very excited to be working with TV Land and the creative team of Hot in Cleveland.” The project is contingent upon the pilot script, which will be co-written by Cedric and “Cleveland” creator Suzanne Martin. “Cedric is hilarious and I’m so happy to do this show with him,” Martin said. “We are going to have a lot of fun developing and exploring his role as a minister.” “Hot in Cleveland,” starring Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Wendy Malick and Jane Leeves, returns on June 15.

Mariah Carey Joins Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 18, 2011) *Following months of rumours, Mariah Carey has
mariah-carey_small reportedly been confirmed as having some kind of “role” on Simon Cowell’sX Factor.” For months, Cowell had been shooting down the rumours, citing her pregnancy as a reason she wasn’t being considered. But during a recent radio interview, he admitted that the singer would participate in some way. “I think Mariah will have a role on the TV live shows,” Cowell confirmed to host Jackie Brown. “I met her recently and she was on great form. And her idea was to be the judge of the judges, which only Mariah could come up with. She’ll be involved in some form. I literally adore her. I love her to bits.” Carey makes two confirmed participants for the show, with stars such as ex-”Idol” co-judge Paula Abdul, Jessica Simpson, Nicki Minaj and UK star Cheryl Cole as rumoured judges and Pussycat Dolls star Nicole Scherzinger as a potential host. Cowell told Brown that the rumours are being dragged out on purpose. “The media have got it because our company leaks any information — if we meet anybody, the whole world knows about it. But I don’t have a problem with that,” Cowell told the Huffington Post in March. So far, record industry vet Antonio L.A. Reid has been confirmed as a judge for “X Factor.” Auditions for the show are currently taking place around the country; it begins airing on FOX in September.

Flashpoint Up To Bat At CBS

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

(Apr 19, 2011) Flashpoint's on-again, off-again relationship with CBS
Flashpoint%202_small is on again. TVGuide.com says the U.S. network will air the Toronto-made show about an elite police task force in the Friday night slot soon to be vacated by Chaos. Dreadful ratings sealed the doom of that series, which stars Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under), Eric Close (Without a Trace) and Tim Blake Nelson as CIA agents. I have to admit I feel bad for Rodriguez, who hasn't had a great TV run since Six Feet Under ended in 2005. But good on Flashpoint, which stars Enrico Colantoni and Hugh Dillon, and has been a reliable hit for originating network CTV. The series begins airing on CBS on May 6 at 8 p.m.


EXpose Co. Delights With A Cross-Cultural Celebration Of Gayness

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

EXpose Co.
ERASGA/Complot Global Dance Connections Series
Choreographed and performed by Alvin Erasga Tolentino and Martin Inthamoussú
Scotiabank Dance Centre
On Friday in Vancouver

(April 18, 2011) The object of the Global Dance Connections series is
expose18rv1_jpg_1265978cl-3_small to bring artists of diverse cultures together to stimulate creativity. And so the twinning of Alvin Erasga Tolentino and Martin Inthamoussú is a match made in heaven.

Tolentino is a veteran Vancouver choreographer of Filipino background, while Inthamoussú is Uruguayan and spends part of each year working in Germany.

The men both choreographed and performed the delightful
EXpose, a coming-out celebration of homosexuality and gender politics.

In fact, the men are exposed from the very start because both are onstage as the audience comes in. The audience is also exposed, as it were, because the space has been configured with seats on both sides and the dance in the middle.

There are three other characters in the work – Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, who appear in film clips from All About Eve, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Some Like It Hot. Dialogue from these iconic movies is purloined by Tolentino and Inthamoussú as part of their text to expose their feminine side.

The Tolentino character seems to be more comfortable in his gay skin than Inthamoussú, who defiantly announces his gayness at the beginning of the piece. Then Inthamoussú relates what happened when he told his mother and his best female friend he was gay. One laugh-out-loud section is a video that re-enacts these stories, with Tolentino playing both mother and friend in suitable wigs and dresses.

Tolentino’s female role-playing is a key to EXpose’s message that it is perfectly acceptable for men to show their feminine side. The physical metaphor is stiletto heels, which play a prominent role in the piece.

The choreography is filled with sexual images. The two men initially perform as individuals, and both choreographies, while very different, convey urges and longings. For Tolentino it’s through gestures, such as caressing his face and body. The movement for Inthamoussú is not so overtly sexual, but his slow spins and muscle isolations radiate tension.

The latter part of the piece brings the two men together. They embrace and they fight. They are in competition and they are supportive. The finale is absolutely stunning, as the dancers ritually dress themselves in formal male attire – suits and ties – and then put on bright red stilettos. Priceless.

Mark Stewart’s original electronica score is suitably evocative of an emotional roller coaster, but the use of perfectly timed, well-known songs – Moon River, Bridge Over Troubled Water and Non, je ne regrette riengilds the lily.

The piece is to be shown in Uruguay and Germany in the fall. Let’s hope EXpose also crosses Canada.

Woody Harrelson's Hot Summer On Stage In Toronto

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle Macdonald

(Apr 18, 2011)
Woody Harrelson is sitting barefoot on a stage in
woody19rv1_jpg_1266444cl-3_small Toronto's Annex neighbourhood, sipping green tea and reminiscing about one hot summer in 1983, when he met a bunch of passionate, like-minded eccentrics who inspired him to write and direct his new play, Bullet for Adolf - Almost a Comedy, which opens Thursday night at Hart House Theatre.

"It was like a coming-of-age summer," says the 49-year-old. He was then in his early 20s, years from his first Academy Award nomination in 1997 for The People vs. Larry Flint, and trying to earn money working construction in Houston before striking off for Broadway. On the job, he met his Bullet for Adolf co-writer Frankie Hyman.

"He was working construction in the same place, and we just clicked," says Harrelson, who speaks with the lazy, laid-back drawl of a native Texan (and perhaps a man who clearly partakes of the cannabis which he's long advocated should be legalized). "The next thing you know Frankie is living with us in my uncle's house. We worked hard, and we partied hard. We'd get home at midnight and stay up, drinking beers and talking about everything from comic books to existentialism. It was magic. That time with Frankie Hyman really influenced me."

At the end of that summer, Harrelson headed to New York, where he soon landed the part of Woody Boyd on NBC's hit sitcom, Cheers. With his career taking off, Harrelson lost touch with Hyman, who went back home to New York's Harlem.

But Harrelson had not forgotten his old friend. Ten years ago, while chatting to Jay Leno, he did a shout-out to Hyman, saying "If anyone knows where Frankie is, tell him to give me a call."

Hyman did. But the call wasn't easy. After Houston, Hyman had accelerated the partying, and become a drug addict. Harrelson decided to help. He flew his buddy to Los Angeles, got him into rehab, and eventually convinced him to help write a gonzo comedy about their escapades three decades earlier.

Bullet for Adolf features a cast of eight up-and-coming Canadians, including Fort McMurray, Alta., native Brandon Coffey, who plays Woody (renamed Zach in the play), and Toronto's Ronnie Rowe as Frankie. "The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent," chortles Harrelson, who kicks off each rehearsal with breathing exercises and yoga, and ends each night with his cast at their favourite watering hole, the Bedford Academy.

"We want audiences to bring an open mind to this raucous frolic into murky waters," adds Harrelson, whose play's title refers to a gun once intended to kill Hitler, a plot device which apparently plays a pivotal role in the cheeky, often lewd, comedy. "We do have some philosophical stuff, of course, but it's not like we're trying to get across some giant, philosophical treatise. We want people to come and laugh. That's it."

Hyman, who has been in Toronto since February when the casting call went out, says the heart of the play is all about friendship. And he credits Harrelson for saving his life. Now based in Los Angeles, he's been clean for 10 years.

"I actually heard Woody before I met him. We worked for this little German guy who was feared by all. And I was on top of scaffolding at 10 in the morning, and Jurgen was really pissed. At the end of the tirade, I hear this calm, soft voice say, 'Jurgen, what are you worried about? I'm always the first one here, and the last one to leave.' Which was never the case," says Hyman with a chuckle. "So I liked him before I even saw [him]. He's my very best friend. Actually, he's more than my friend. He's my brother."

This is the second time Harrelson - who lives in Maui with his wife (once his former assistant Laura Louie) and their three daughters - has directed live theatre in Toronto. At the invitation of Bullet for Adolf producer Marcello Cabezas, he also did This Is our Youth for two consecutive summers in 2003 and 2004. (Cabezas had heard Harrelson was working on theatre and put out a long-shot pitch that paid off.)

"It was during that time that I fell in love with Toronto and it continues to be my favourite city in North America," says Harrelson. "I love the town and the people, and I hope this is the first of many plays that Frankie and I write together."

For inspiration in his writing, Harrelson says he steals from his friends, including Willie Nelson, who he describes as the "funniest guy I know."

"Here, I'll give you a Willie joke: Two nuns are riding a bike around the Vatican. One nun says to the other: 'I never came this way before.' And the other one says, 'Me neither. It must be the cobblestones." He laughs lewdly. "Jokes like that make me laugh. They might offend some, but if you're slightly demented like me, well...."

As for playing a young Harrelson on stage, Coffey, 28, certainly bears no physical resemblance to the actor. "But what we do have in common is that I'm a very hard worker, and so is Woody, even though he pretends not to be. There's no way you can get to that status in life without a strong work ethic. And I guess we share the same small-town-boy charm."

Vanessa Smythe, a Toronto actor who plays Harrelson's unrequited love interest in the play, says the production has been a great experience primarily because Harrelson brings no ego to the table.

"I wasn't sure what to expect before meeting him, but Woody is very compassionate, and he certainly cares a lot about this story. We all have summers we remember being pivotal in our lives, where we discover something about ourselves," she says. "And it's been great watching these two great friends."

Harrelson thinks he and Hyman have created a crowd pleaser, but admits he's still going to be a wreck on opening night. "If the first joke comes and bombs, I'll be getting uncomfortable. If the second joke bombs, I'll be leaving the theatre.

"It's a good challenge, and I've loved doing it, but it's a lot more work than one lazy individual should have to take on."

Bullet for Adolf: Almost a Comedy, runs from April 21 to May 7 at the University of Toronto's Hart House Theatre.

Catching Up With Alvin Ailey’s Judith Jamison

Source: www.eurweb.com - Darlene Donloe

(Apr. 17, 2011) *Judith Jamison, who, after 21 years at the helm is
alvin_ailey_la22011-wide-big_small stepping down as artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, along with her artistic director designate, Robert Battle, recently attended a fundraising gala to celebrate the dance company.

The Center Dance Arts (CDA) and the Music Center held the event at the historic home of CDA Chair Mattie McFadden-Lawson and Music Center Board of Directors member Michael A. Lawson.

The gala, co-hosted by Dennis Haysbert, Debbie Allen and Norm Nixon, was sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company.

“We are inspired by Judith Jamison and Robert Battle for their respective contributions to dance, a true art form that brings people from all backgrounds together. We thank Allstate and our many event sponsors,” said CDA Chair Mattie McFadden-Lawson.

Dennis Haysbert, Mattie Lawson, Michael Lawson and Courtney V. Vance

Celebrities on hand included Courtney Vance, Wren T. Brown (Ebony
alvin_ailey_la12011-wide-big_small Repertory Theater), Sharon Leal, painter/sculptor Artis Lane, Wendy Raquel Robinson, dancer/choreographer Desmond Richardson and Loretta Devine.

The Alvin Ailey® American Dance Theater is currently enjoying a run at the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, through April 17. This year’s show celebrates five decades of “Revelations,” considered an American classic and Ailey’s most popular and revered dance.

For the first time, “Revelations” is being presented each night alongside three other programs during all 10 performances.

I caught up with Jamison to talk about her final season.

Darlene Donloe: Why is this the right time for you to step down?

Judith Jameson: I’ve been doing this for how long? When you see this man’s work [Robert Battle], you’ll understand I’m not stepping down, I’m making a lateral move so the future can go up. We’re about past, present and future.  The company has always been about that.  I’ve been dancing since I was six-years-old. I am 68 years old. Don’t even ask me, why now? Why not?  I see a future and that man has the future in his hands.

DD: What’s going to be your role now that you’re making a lateral move.

JJ: You will find out when I cross that bridge.

DD: You haven’t decided yet?

JJ: Of course I have, but you’ll find out what I’m doing when I cross that bridge. Always knowing that I’m attached to Alvin’s spirit. That will always be there. You’ll see. It’s not retirement to me. You don’t retire in the art world. God gives you a gift. You retire when you’re dead. So, retirement simply means I’m going to move over this way a little bit and give room for this young man to take over and take this company places that you don’t even think it can go.

DD: What are you most proud of?

JJ: Several things.  I’m proud of a legacy that leaves a future. Some people clutch on to their stuff until it dies. This is about release and love and encouragement and making sure there is a future for this company.

DD: Your dancers have a variety of shapes.

JJ: Jamar Roberts – he is 6’4″ and he can dance along with my smallest one. That’s what’s beautiful. We’re not cookie cutter dancers and Alvin used to say. If you got talent – you are welcome. You stay healthy – you are welcome. You are excellent at what you do – you are welcome.  You understand what it is from the spirit – you are welcome.

DD: Are you going to miss it?

JJ: When I cross the bridge, I’ll let you know. I don’t know. I’ve never done this before. So how am I supposed to tell you what it’s going to be like. But, I’m game. I’m fine. I love precipice. I always tell my dancers about that precipice. Don’t be afraid to step off.

DD: So if I put you on the spot right now, could you dance a jig?

JJ: No, and I never danced a jig. (laughter) So, you’re not going to get one now. I wasn’t doing it when I was dancing.

DD: Mr. Robert Battles. Who decided he would take over?

JJ: You’re looking at who decided. It’s total talent. I love that he reminds me of Alvin. There are certain things that he does. He loves dancers. He understands the legacy, past, present and future. The dancers love him. The crew loves him. The staff and board of directors all of them had to come on board. He was my choice – period!  So, here we are two and a half years later from when I made my decision- here he is. Wait til you see his work. Then, there will be no question. Wait until you see his creativity and foresight and that innate intelligence of a creative artist – that he has – just wait.

DD: Are you comfortable with the accolades and love that people pour on you?

JJ: Yes, I’m accepting all the love I can get. And, don’t shut it down. Just because I’m making a lateral move, you still better be telling me how much you love me. I adore people that understand this process we call life. I’ve been able to dance through it and have people love what you do. And that’s about spirit. I know they love the long legs and the white dress and Revelations and all that. Which is brilliant. But, people are understanding the flow – and that started with Alvin. It actually started with   my parents and grandparents. That flow has been going since the beginning of time and Robert is here to continue it.  It’s all good.


21st Century Ailey (Program A)
Anointed choreography by Christopher L. Huggins
The Hunt choreography by Robert Battle
The Evolution Of A Secured Feminine choreography by Camille A. Brown
Revelations choreography by Alvin Ailey
Saturday, April 16 7:30 p.m.

All Ailey (Program B)
Memoria choreography by Alvin Ailey
Three Black Kings choreography by Alvin Ailey
Cry choreography by Alvin Ailey
Revelations choreography by Alvin Ailey
Friday, April 15 7:30 p.m.

20 Years of Jamison (Program C)
Love Stories choreography by Judith Jamison with Robert Battle and Rennie Harris
Forgotten Time choreography by Judith Jamison
Revelations choreography by Alvin Ailey
Saturday, April 16 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 17 2:00 p.m.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles 90012; Fri., April 8 – Sun., April 17, 2011; $25-$105; musiccenter.org/events/dance.html; (213) 972-0711; Groups — 10 or more, call (213) 972-8555 or MCgroupsales@musiccenter.org.

Soulpepper Offers A Season Of True Repertory

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(April 20, 2011) Soulpepper Theatre Company consistently provides
Stuart%20Hughes%20stars%20in%20Soulpepper%20prouduction%20of%20The%20Time%20of%20Your%20Life_small some of the highest quality productions in the Toronto area and this spring, there will be more of them than ever.

Artistic director Albert Schultz has realized more strongly than ever that the strength of his work lies in the ensemble of actors he has put together over the years and the fact that they perform in repertory.

“Repertory” is a much-abused word in the entertainment dictionary. It specifically refers to a large number of plays, operas, etc. being presented on an alternating schedule over a long period of time.

In true repertory, a play can keep appearing on a theatre’s schedule for years, making reappearances whenever there is a demand for it, or if it fits neatly into the performance schedule of the company.

Schultz does this by keeping more of his actors on the payroll for a greater period of time — thanks in part to assistance from Luminato, who wanted more of Soulpepper’s works available to the public during their festival.

The bottom line is that eight of Soulpepper’s shows will be on display between now and the end of June and during some periods, it would be possible to see as many as seven of them during a week’s stay in Toronto.

Five of the productions are from Soulpepper’s recent (and sometimes not so recent) past and all of them are winners.

Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is a show that has been part of this company’s history from the very start, playing a run at the Royal Alex in 1999 and opening its current facility at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in 2006.

No one who attended that opening night will ever forget Schultz entering as the Stage Manager to a deafening round of applause, pausing to touch the back brick wall of the theatre he had fought so long to build and then slowly walking forward, eyes brimming, to begin the play.

It’s a production that shows off the company superbly and its rich, yet simple, theatricality makes it well worth a visit.

Billy Bishop Goes to War is another solid-gold success. It’s been part of this country’s theatrical landscape since John Gray and Eric Peterson first premiered it in 1978, but it took Soulpepper and director Ted Dykstra to reimagine it totally by seeing it through the eyes of an older man.

Peterson, who plays the World War I fighting ace, is older now, in fact, than the actual Bishop was when he died. I wrote in my review that “this gives the show an added layer of resonance as we realize the Grim Reaper that Bishop eluded in the skies for so many years is now waiting just outside the door.”

It’s been such a big hit for Soulpepper this marks the third time they’ve put it into their schedule in less than two years, but that’s what repertory is all about.

The Time of Your Life, by William Saroyan, is another example of the joys of this kind of scheduling. This 1939 sprawling barroom tragicomedy about America on the cusp of self-destruction packs even more punch now than it did when Soulpepper premiered it in 2007. The company have grown into their roles, with Stuart Hughes and Joe Ziegler even finding ways to improve on their past perfection.

You can also catch up with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Fantasticks, bright new productions from earlier this year that show what the company can do with music, another one of their strengths.

And there’s new productions opening this spring as well. The first major revival of Guillermo Verdecchia’s Fronteras Americanas since its 1993 debut; Diego Matamoros and Daniel Brooks collaborating on an intriguing work, The Aleph, and there’s also a promising double bill called (Re)Birth: e.e. cummings in song and Window on Toronto.

Shakespeare wrote that “all the world’s a stage” and Soulpepper makes it possible to take a world tour in a week, without ever leaving Toronto.

For more information, go to www.soulpepper.ca.

Mirvish Productions, as usual, is responsible for a lot of the more appealing choices available to a Toronto theatregoer.

My first choice would be Billy Elliot, that worldwide smash hit by Elton John, Lee Hall and Stephen Daldry. It turns the 2000 film about a young boy discovering he wants to be a ballet dancer while the city around him is being destroyed by a miners’ strike into an even more effective musical.

All of the four boys playing Billy are great talents, but you’ll also get a burst of local pride for our own Kate Hennig, recreating here the role of Billy’s dance teacher, a role she starred in on Broadway for a year. At the Canon Theatre, 244 Victoria St.

Has it really been seven years since The Lion King was last here? That’s all the more reason to catch up with it and once again discover the joys of Julie Taymor’s inspired staging. At the Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W.

The Railway Children starts performances on May 3 and it’s going to be a fascinating show on many fronts. A giant hit in London, where it was staged at Waterloo Station, it’s being presented here in a new state-of-the-art theatre by the Roundhouse, tucked between the Rogers Centre and the Gardiner Expressway.

It also features a touching story about children finding themselves and the largest live steam engine you’ve ever seen. Put this one on your list. At the Roundhouse Theatre, 255 Bremner Blvd.

For tickets, call 416-872-1212 or go to www.mirvish.com.


BlackBerry PlayBook Launches Quietly In Toronto

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Apr 19, 2011) The launch of the PlayBook tablet by BlackBerry
RIM%20PlayBook%20in%20Toronto_small maker Research in Motion was not greeted by jostling crowds of latest-tech-hungry geeks and line-ups for the new device at stores could be tallied on one hand.

The stark contrast with the launch of rival Apple’s iPad 2 tablet last month was impossible to miss — marketing hype accelerated in the weeks leading up to the new iPad’s debut and swarms gathered around the block to get their hands on it.

But experts caution that comparing the two devices is like comparing apples to blackberries — they’re both fruit, but for different tastes.

And the lack of hoopla seemed irrelevant to Ian Chan, who was first in line at 6 a.m. outside a Best Buy store in Toronto for the 7 a.m. launch.

“Apple’s really good at marketing and there’s a lot of brand loyalty, I guess, to Apple, with every one of their products — like the iPad or the iPhone — they always generate a lot of good buzz,” said Chan, who works in marketing.

“RIM, I don’t think they’ve done that. I haven’t seen any commercials or anything for the PlayBooks.”

Chan said he thought the PlayBook was worth lining up for because it is smaller than the iPad, which makes it easier to travel with.

Industry experts had predicted line-ups for the PlayBook would be short, as the device was available at a wide number of stores and Research in Motion booked preorders online, which Apple did not allow.

Several gadget reviewers have criticized the tablet for not having BlackBerry’s signature email capability, which will be featured in versions to be released later this year. RIM also received negative publicity when co-CEO Mike Lazaridis abruptly ended a BBC interview about the PlayBook last week when a reporter strayed off topic.

Waterloo, Ont.-based Research In Motion Ltd. (TSX: RIM) has said it expects most of its buyers will be businesses.

Tony Chapman, CEO of advertising firm Capital C in Toronto, said he believes RIM is smart to focus on business users and sell its new product as a gadget that will help boost efficiency. He predicts future apps will be those useful to business users, like presentation software, data manipulation, collaboration, e-commerce or video conferencing.

“If they fight a direct strategy to Apple — my tablet and your tablet — and focus on the same target audience, I think they will fail,” he said.

“By dividing and conquering, focusing on being the very best at the business segment, they will succeed because that’s where BlackBerry has been entrenched in the last 10 years.”

At the flagship Sears Canada store in downtown Toronto, James Tetreault, divisional merchandise manager of electronics, said PlayBook sales Tuesday morning were in line with what he expected.

“It’s brand new technology. There’s not the line-up that Apple has had — due to all the PR that RIM has gotten the last few days. But overall, I think the turnout we had today was good,” he said, adding that the store pre-sold over 150 units, which he considered successful for a new technology product.

Sears currently doesn’t sell Apple products, so he could not compare the PlayBook’s first day sales to those of the iPad.

Two New Games Aim To Get Console Gamers Moving

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

PlayStation Move Heroes
Rated E

Michael Jackson: The Experience
Xbox 360
Rated E

(Apr 15, 2011) It's been a little over six months since both the
PlayStation Move for PS3 and Xbox Kinect peripherals launched, adding motion-control schemes for each console. Despite some fanfare, though, there hasn't been much for consumers to actually play. Arriving three years after Nintendo started the motion-control party, the two games we're looking at today show that they're still playing a bit of catch up.

PlayStation Move Heroes is a strange minigame collection, not for its actual gameplay, but what it purports to be. The game is supposed to be an Avengers-like teaming of six of Sony's franchise characters — Jak and Daxter, Rachet and Clank and Sly Cooper and Bentley, the hacker turtle — who are brought together to compete. However, other than a few cut-scenes, the characters don't really interact, and the game is basically a solo affair, which is both misleading and a wasted opportunity.

This is a Wii Sports-like collection of minigames delivering varying amounts of satisfaction. You have to rescue silly aliens called Whibbles or something — the game obviously doesn't care about its narrative, so neither should we. The activities are melee or whip-based fighting games, shooting segments and bowling and Frisbee games spread out over five settings from each of games, which do look great.

The motion controls are pretty good, and in particular the bowling and Frisbee games are the most enjoyable, mostly because beyond just using real life motions to set the projectiles aloft, you can also actually control their trajectories, hitting items for points or freeing the aliens. The shooting works fine, and the whip and fighting games are okay, although using the same controller to target and control the camera can be frustrating.

Despite dressing them up with power-ups and exploding pins, the games get repetitive, and other than possibly the whip game, it's really quite derivative of other motion games. It wouldn't be bad for younger players, but won't hold the attention of any serious gamer — who if they are familiar with these characters, will not be impressed with their lack of use. It is also very much a one-player affair, which doesn't make sense as this type of game works better in a party atmosphere.

Michael Jackson: The Experience on the Xbox does come after the Wii version was released a few months ago, and thankfully, it's not just a straight port: Some new gameplay elements are added it and makes good use of the Kinect's full-body motion-tracking.

It is fairly similar to Dance Central — the one really good game that came out at the peripheral's launch — and the major addition is that this time you can sing (at times) along to Jackson's music. The game scores with its selection of Jackson's music — all the major hits that you want are here, along with the settings and backdrops from some of his most famous videos.

There are some weird aspects; for one thing, if you choose to sing and dance, each song is broken into sections; you don't do both at once. Co-op is fun, although the versus mode makes you play the same song twice, which is nowhere near as much fun as players competing at the same time would be.

The other thing that you really should be aware of — and this is breaking news — Michael Jackson was kind of an awesome dancer, so the game is not very easy. Another quibble is that the actual cards that show you upcoming moves are far too simple to explain what the moves are. You've got to watch what the dance models are doing, so it's really all about repetition and learning the King of Pop's moves. But if you are a Jackson fanatic, this is definitely the game for you.


Best Beaches To Beat The Winter Blahs

Source: www.thestar.com - Jim Byers

(March 04, 2011) Palm trees. Soft sand oozing between our toes. A
Napili%20Beach_small nice rum drink, with or without a tiny umbrella. Maybe a sunset or Jimmy Buffett or Bob Marley on the iPod.

We all love a
good beach. And there are a ton of them out there just waiting for you. I haven’t visited nearly as many as I like, but here’s a list of my favourites and some general suggestions about where you might go to get away come March break.

CALADESI ISLAND, FLORIDA: The short boat ride from Dunedin’s Honeymoon Island over to Caladesi is fun, and there’s a lovely nature trail through a variety of eco-systems. You can wander for hours and see hardly a soul. Rather check out the action? Next-door Clearwater Beach (you can walk there from Caladesi at low tide) is one of the top spots in Florida for young folks, and families, too. Plenty of inexpensive dining options and budget motels are close by.

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: A wonderful promenade skirts the bluffs high over the Pacific Coast Highway, awarding fab views up and down the coast and great sunsets. Check out the midway rides or play a game of football on the sand, then shop on the pedestrian-only Third St. Promenade. There are high-end hotels such as the Shangri-la, but also some budget options further inland or down near LAX. Don’t forget the Canadian dollar is worth MORE than the U.S. buck.

BATHSHEBA, BARBADOS: Not so much for swimming and sunset-viewing as walking and admiring the wildly-shaped rocks and pounding surf that rolls in from Africa. Funky bars and restaurants and small B&B’s make it far more affordable than the glitzy west coast.

TOFINO, B.C.: It’s not quite prime beach season out west but the daffodils are blooming in Victoria so you know it’s likely warmer than Toronto. If it’s sunny, try surfing or whale-watching. If the wind howls, don a rain slicker and watch the storms roll in. If you can manage it, a night at the wonderful Wickaninnish Inn is highly recommended.

NAPILI, MAUI: A perfect, and I mean, perfect crescent of golden sand with a lovely reef in the quiet, northern part of the bay and bigger surf at the south end. There’s not a property higher than the top of a coconut tree, and hotels range from family-style glam (Napili Kai Beach Resort) to relatively cheap and cheerful (The Mauian). The awesome town of Lahaina is just 20 minutes away and the long, long beach and cool shops of Kaanapali even closer.

COOPERS BEACH, NEW ZEALAND: A tad far to go for March break, sure, but I just got back from a wonderful three-day stay at a “bach,” or small rental property right on this beach on the North Island. It’s a glorious stretch that goes on for a couple kilometers and is backed by gnarly pohutukawa trees. The cute town of Mangonui is close by. My two-bedroom unit in February, just after high season, was less than $100 Canadian per night. And you can save dinner money by digging for tua tua’s (similar to clams) at low tide.


Anywhere in Cuba or the Dominican Republic: From simple to sumptuous, a million choices. And a million bargains.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Tons of great deals for families and a relatively easy drive from southern Ontario.

Sugar Beach, St. Lucia: A small but gorgeous stretch of sand in front of Jalousie Plantation. See Mark Stevens’ story in this section for more on St. Lucia.

Cerro Azul, Peru: Just for something entirely different, check this quiet village about 130 km south of Lima, Peru. The weather should stay good for a while, and, hey, this is a town endorsed by the Beach Boys’ in the song “Surfin’ Safari.”

Florida’s Panhandle: Not quite high season, but they could use a break after the oil spill caused a turndown in business.

Bondi Beach, Australia: Just win the lottery? Follow Oprah’s lead and take the whole family for great food, great surfing and great ocean walks.


Touring The Hall Of Fame With Pat Gillick

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Griffin

(April 20, 2011) COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - For former Blue Jays GM Pat Gillick, it was a two-day exercise in preparation conducted by the Baseball Hall of Fame in this beautiful village on the shores of Otsego Lake. Annually, the Hall brings in honourees who will be part of the ceremony during the July induction weekend, intensely prepping them for what to expect from the Hall and in what is expected of them.

On Tuesday it was Gillick’s turn at the school of Fame. After a busy morning of signing baseballs and sorting out invitation lists, tickets and hotel arrangements, it was time for a personal tour of the museum led by Erik Strohl, the Hall’s chief archivist. The Star was one of four North American media outlets invited to accompany Pat and wife Doris.

“To say I even had the opportunity to be nominated to be selected is a very humbling experience,” Gillick said. “Because of the tremendous amount of talent, of personality, integrity and reputation of the people who are in the Hall of Fame, to be a part of that group is indescribable.”

Gillick is an emotional human being. He wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to romanticizing the game he loves. The tour began in a darkened theatre with a stirring 10-minute video on baseball and its ever-evolving connections to society. The first voice belonged to the late Yankees announcer Bob Shepard. Gillick got a lump in his throat. After that it was the Jays display, including the two World Series wins. He paused for a long time in front of the glass. Another lump in his throat.

“Joe’s bat’s in there,” he said quietly to Doris.

They then escorted Gillick to the archive vault where more than 35,000 undisplayed items are marked and stored. They pulled some items of personal interest for Gillick to see. In order to handle them, he and Doris had to slip on a pair of white gloves along with their tour guide Strohl. Gillick opted to hang on to his gloves as a souvenir.

Among the meaningful items pulled from boxes for Gillick’s perusal were: Dave Stieb’s no-hitter cap; Fred McGriff’s bat from the Jays’ 10-homer game; Cal Ripken’s batting glove from the final game of his streak; an Ichiro bat from his rookie 2001 season and a Babe Ruth bat featuring 28 hand-carved notches, one for each homer he hit with that particular weapon.

The two-hour tour ended in the Plaque Gallery, where Gillick, in making one final sweep of the hall, was interrupted by an 11-year-old boy who asked timidly for his autograph. Gillick graciously signed his paper, asking him what grade he was in and what position he played. Forever scouting.

The tour ended in silent reverence at the exact spot where his bronze plaque is to be installed this summer along with those of Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven. They will share a wall next to Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice and Cal Ripken, Jr. At that point came a final throat lump.

“Joe Carter’s bat, shoes, it is a very special moment,” Gillick
Joe%20Carter%20Dawn-Apr%2020-11_small summarized. “To win that first World Series, to get over the hump is like climbing a mountain and all of a sudden you get to the top and you made it. So to see Joe’s artefacts kind of brought back those memories of 18-19 years ago.”

Imagine, if he could barely make it through a museum tour, how will Gillick finish his speech?

“I’ve been thinking about that,” he smiled. “People ask me about what I’m going to say. I’ve changed my speech about four or five times. There’s time constraints so hopefully they can stick me in the middle where they might need a little time later. I might only get to four or five minutes.”

Gillick’s career in pro baseball started with the Houston Colt .45’s in 1963, on to the Yankees in 1974 and then to the Jays in 1976. His wife did not join him that first year in Toronto but caught up with her husband and the city, never expecting the road would lead to Cooperstown.

“I never thought it would end up like this,” Doris said. “It wasn’t really the goal. The city . . . I lived there for 30 years. Even when he left, I commuted to wherever he was. We (have) moved to Seattle but I lived (in Toronto) for 30 years. It’s is a beautiful city. Toronto will always be our home for my daughter and myself because I lived there longer than anyplace else.”

Being the newest member of a select group of 295 Hall of Famers clearly has not gone to Gillick’s head. Though it would have somehow seemed acceptable had Gillick booked a limousine for the four-hour ride from Philly to this Cooperstown command performance, Pat and Doris opted for the train through New York to Albany, then by car, seven hours for what might be four.

There’s a lot of people that got us to this spot,” Gillick said. “Everyone I’ve worked with, the clubs I’ve been associated with, the scouts, the whole team that worked together, the players, that’s what it’s all about. I guess I just feel like I’m one of those guys. I put my shoes on and my pants on just like everybody else. I’m not any better than anyone else.”

The Expansion Era panel of voters beg to disagree.

Gillis, Yzerman And Poile Up For GM Of The Year Award

Source: www.thestar.com

(April 20, 2011) NEW YORK—Vancouver’s Mike Gillis, Nashville’s David
Steve%20Yzerman_smallPoile and Tampa Bay’s Steve Yzerman are the three finalists for the 2010-11 NHL General Manager of the Year Award.

Voting for this award was conducted by the NHL’s 30 GMs and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media.

The winner will be announced June 22 in Las Vegas.

Yzerman, a Hall of Fame player who won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, including one as management, was hired by the Lightning last year and presided over a team that enjoyed a 23-point improvement over the 2009-10 season.

Among his many moves, the rookie general manager hired head coach Guy Boucher three weeks into his tenure, added free agent defenseman Pavel Kubina, forward Simon Gagne and traded for goalie Dwayne Roloson and defenseman Eric Brewer.

Gillis strengthened the Canucks defensively by adding blueliners Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis and shutdown center Manny Malhotra. The changes helped the team to a franchise-record 117-point season while allowing a league-low 185 goals.

Poile oversaw a Nashville team that boasts more than half of a line-up that was drafted and developed by the organization, including the team’s top four scoring defensemen Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Cody Franson and Kevin Klein.

Voting for the award was conducted by the league’s 30 general managers and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media.

Magic’s Howard Makes NBA Award History

Source: www.thestar.com - Kyle Hightower

(Apr 18, 2011) ORLANDO, FLA.—
Dwight Howard has another piece of hardware for his personal trophy case.

The Orlando Magic centre became the first player to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award three straight seasons Monday — and the voting wasn’t close.

Howard received 585 points, including 114 first-place votes, from a panel of 120 sports writers and broadcasters. Boston’s Kevin Garnett finished second with 77 points and Dallas’ Tyson Chandler was third with 70.

Only Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace, with four each, have now won the award more times.

“I try to do the best I can on the defensive end. To dominate, change the game,” Howard said at a news conference at the Magic’s team facility.

“That’s not blocking shots but just being a presence on the defensive end. Making sure I’m here for my teammates, being active, talking with them. It definitely is an honour to be considered one of the best defensive players to play the game.

“I’m still young so hopefully I can keep it up.”

The six-foot-11 Howard ranked second in the NBA at 14.1 rebounds per game and fourth in blocks with 2.38. He also was the defensive anchor of a team that was ranked fourth in the regular season, giving up 93.7 points per game to opponents.

Howard said there is no secret to what it takes to succeed on the defensive end of the floor.

“It takes a lot of heart. You’ve got to want to stop people, want to stop teams,” Howard said.

“There are going to be times when you don’t have any energy ... There’s been times on the court for me I’ve had cramps. I never said anything. But I had to do what I had to do to help my teammates win so it’s very tough to play defence.”

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, who has made repeated cases for Howard’s MVP candidacy, said the defensive honour is a no-brainer.

“It’s not what he does well, it’s that he does everything well,” Van Gundy said.

“He really doesn’t have a weakness on the defensive end of the floor at all. He can guard his guy in the post very well. He’s an outstanding pick and roll defender. Great on rotations and schemes. The one thing that’s probably under appreciated about him is that he’s the smartest big guy I’ve ever been around.”

Teammate and best friend Jameer Nelson called Howard’s knowledge of the game and preparation “excellent.”

“People take it for granted,” Nelson said. “You just don’t block shots and do all the things he does defensively not knowing personnel and not preparing the way he does.”

Though Orlando dropped the opening game of their first-round playoff series with Atlanta Saturday night, the Hawks had no answers for Howard; He finished with 46 points and 19 rebounds.

Hawks coach Larry Drew said Howard deserves a place among the NBA’s greats for what he’s been able to achieve.

“High. Very, very high,” Drew said.

“Anybody who can impact the game the way he does on the defensive end — he’s an unbelievable defensive talent. When you have a guy who’s your back line defence and can erase mistakes the way he can ... he’ll definitely rank high among the tops.”

Toronto FC To Build Training Facility At Downsview Park

Source: www.thestar.com - Morgan Campbell

(Apr 18, 2011)
Toronto FC has been practice vagabonds for a couple
TORONTO%20FC_small of seasons but soon they will have a long-term home for their training sessions.

Make that a penthouse.

Monday afternoon the club revealed details of a planned $17.5-million training centre at Downsview Park.

Construction on the complex, which will span 14 acres of land leased from Downsview Park, will begin next month and finish by May 2012.

In addition to a 40,000-square-foot field house that will contain locker rooms, offices and athletic training facilities, the complex will include three full-sized grass fields. One of those pitches will contain an underground heating system that will allow teams to train outdoors even in cold weather.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chief operating officer Tom Anselmi says the idea is to give TFC the same type of training complex top overseas clubs use. Before finalizing plans to proceed at Downsview Park, MLSE consulted teams in England (Bolton), Holland (Ajax), and Mexico (Pachuca).

“We looked at the facilities that are viewed as the state of the art, and this is going to rival all of them, no question,” he said.

“There’s not a shortage of people and players in Ontario. There’s a shortage of programming and facilities and a really structured player development program.”

Since last spring, when the club installed natural grass at BMO Field, TFC has practiced wherever it could find space – a soccer complex in Oakville, the fields at Cherry Beach, and the soccer pitches currently in place at Downsview Park.

But the new Downsview complex won’t just give TFC a long-overdue permanent practice address. It will put them ahead of the curve as MLS franchises change the way they acquire young players.

When TFC entered the league in 2007, most clubs relied of the draft to bring in young, domestic talent. But the current trend is to bring even younger players in to a team’s academy, then oversee that player’s development from preteen years to the professional level.

A high-tech home for the TFC Academy, which currently includes five clubs of various age groups, helps advance that goal, says head coach Aron Winter.

“The younger players (start), the better they will be, and it’s also much easier to teach them things,” said Winter, TFC’s first-year head coach.

“Each team, we’re playing all the same way. Players know what their tasks are and what’s expected from each position.”

TFC officials hope the training centre will give the club a key role in developing talent nationwide, and MLSE vice president Bob Hunter called it “the epicentre of soccer development in Canada.”

Even with nationwide ambition, the new facility is strictly an MLSE venture, built with no input from the Canadian Soccer Association and no government funding.

Blue Jays Great Carlos Delgado Looks To The Future

Source: www.thestar.com - Morgan Campbell

(Apr 19, 2011) In a recent televised biography of Carlos Delgado, the
Carlos%20Delgado_small legendary Blue Jays slugger walks an interviewer through the trophy room at his mansion, stopping at a wall covered in photos and pointing out a picture of him and a teammate snapped in St. Catharines, Ont., in 1989.

Back then Delgado was a raw teenager in his first year of pro ball who used to ride his bike to games. After paying room, board and hydro, he explained, he couldn’t afford to travel any other way.

The documentary aired recently in Delgado’s native Puerto Rico and is titled Carlos Delgado: Rewriting History A Palo Limpio, an idiomatic expression that means either “plainly” or “by force” depending on the context and the storyteller.

Fact is, Delgado did it both ways in growing from a teenaged free agent to an all-time Blue Jay great.

Delgado’s career spanned 17 seasons and three clubs, but he blossomed into an all-star in Toronto, employing a no-nonsense style both on and off the field. His playing style was more bash than flash, and in 12 years with the Jays he established club records in home runs (336), RBIs (1,058) and total bases (2,786).

And in dealing with the media he relied more on straight talk than on sound bytes, and if he had a beef with a reporter it was because had actually read the story.

Last Thursday, the 38-year-old Delgado retired for good, conceding that his injured right hip never would heal the way he needed. And after announcing his retirement he chatted with the Star to discuss his post-baseball plans, which include charity work, doting on his kids and rebuilding baseball in the only place he loves more than Toronto: Puerto Rico.

What was the best moment in your career?

It would be unfair to pick one. I had a wonderful career. I can look back to opening day 1994, my first opening day. I can look to my four home run game (Sept. 25, 2003). I can look to 2006 when I made it to the playoffs for the first time. I can look to my first All-Star Game in 2000 or my second All-Star Game in 2003. There are so many great moments that it would be pretty unfair to try to pick one.

And what were the biggest challenges for you?

I got sent down twice, I switched positions three times in two years. I had to learn how to play first base. There were some years when I was hitting .240 at the all-star break. There were the 0-for-30s. But this is what I love and this is what I signed up for. If it was easy, anybody could do it.

What’s next for Carlos Delgado?

I just kind of want to chill. That last couple of years have been very hectic, between the surgeries and the rehab and the travelling. I’m looking forward to a little downtime, spending some time with the family . . . just to see how it is to be a full-time dad and how it is to be a full-time husband. . . . I’ve got two little kids (Carlos Antonio, 4; Mariana, 21 months) and I want to make sure I spend time with them.

What about baseball?

I want to help out Carlos Antonio if he wants to play. I want to help out kids in Puerto Rico that are going to get drafted, help develop some programs to make them better. Baseball has gone down in Puerto Rico because kids don’t have the fundamentals and I think I can help there. I don’t claim to know everything but I’ve had some pretty good experiences along the way and I think I can help others.

Do you find that in Puerto Rico other sports are becoming more popular than baseball?

Soccer is getting a big boost here. You see a lot of kids playing soccer and you see a lot of former baseball fields become soccer fields. And there’s always going to be basketball, and the other sport that’s big is boxing but I don’t think that’s going to take away from baseball.

In 2004 you were really outspoken about the U.S. Navy using Vieques (a small island near the main island of Puerto Rico) as a practice bombing range. How important was it for you to make that stand?

Because you’re a baseball player that doesn’t mean you get detached from society — at least you shouldn’t. If you say something that is good for your country or good for your town, you have a little more leverage than the average citizen. . . . I don’t think anybody would like to have the U.S. Navy using their backyard as target practice. . . . Even though Vieques is a little town off the coast of Puerto Rico, it’s still a big part of Puerto Rico. It was close to my heart so I wasn’t afraid to speak up.


Welterweight Foster forced out of UFC 129 due to Brain Hemorrhage

Source: www.thestar.com - Morgan Campbell

(Apr 12, 2011) Welterweight Brian Foster has had to drop out of UFC
brianfoster_small 129 after an Ontario Athletics Commission-mandated MRI showed a brain hemorrhage. Foster’s coach Marc Fiore says the MRI showed a leaking blood vessel had turned into a hemorrhage. Fiore says the hope is another MRI in six weeks will show everything is all clear. The 27-year-old Foster had felt normal during training in Granite City, Ill. The MRI was part of the Ontario commission’s pre-fight medical. He was slated to meet Sean Pierson of Toronto at the April 30 Rogers Centre event. There is no word yet on a replacement.

Tiger-Cats Form Partnership With UFC Challenger Mark Hominick

Source: www.thestar.com

(April 20, 2011) HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are joining
Mark%20Hominick_small forces with UFC featherweight contender Mark (The Machine) Hominick. The 145-pound fighter from Thamesford, Ont., will wear a Ticats hat when he enters the Rogers Centre cage for UFC 129 on April 30. His fight shorts will also showcase CFL team’s logo. Hominick will also be featured at “MMA Night” at Ivor Wynne Stadium on July 16 when the Ticats host the Saskatchewan Roughriders. “As an exciting, tough, local Canadian athlete, Mark embodies many of our organization’s characteristics,” Hamilton president Scott Mitchell said in a statement. “We are glad to be in Mark’s corner as he contends for the featherweight title and we know our fans in the TigerTown region will be behind him.” Hominick (20-8) is challenging Brazil’s Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title.