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April 28, 2011

Beginning of week in Toronto = blustery, chilly and wet.  End of week = warm and partly sunny.  Gotta love our diverse weather in Toronto! I have to believe that the warmer weather is on its way and we'll soon be complaining about how sunny, hot and humid it is!

Speaking of HOT as in
RED HOT, thanks to my friends at Universal Canada, I have a free CD giveaway of Keri Hilson's CD, No Boys Allowed. This CD dropped in December and I think it is fantastic - some really hot tracks and collabs by this singer/songwriter. SO, I want you to hear it too!  If you can name one of her producers under SCOOP, you could be a winner!  Enter the contest HERE and don't forget your full name and mailing address.

And check out the news with Toronto's own
Charles Officer's new film on Harry Jerome, entitled Mighty Jerome below under SCOOP!

OK don't wait - right to your entertainment news!  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! 


Grammy Nominated R&B/ Pop Singer Keri Hilson Rallies Her Women On New Album No Boys Allowed

Source:  Universal Music Canada

(November 16, 2010) R&B/ Pop singer Keri Hilson is rallying women on her eagerly awaited sophomore album No Boys Allowed set to release December 21st on Interscope/Zone 4/Mosley Music Group. As the follow up to her RIAA GOLD certified ­debut album In A Perfect World… the Grammy nominated singer and new face of AVON performed her newest single “Pretty Girl Rock” (produced by Ne-Yo) on VH1 Divas Salute The Troops, 84th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, NBC’s The Today Show and Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno amongst other national TV shows. An ode to self confidence, the video for the single was shot by famed director Joseph Kahn (U2/Gwen Stefani) and has everyone from Perez Hilton to Billboard Magazine ecstatic about Keri’s tribute to women like Janet Jackson, Diana Ross and TLC that have rocked throughout the ages. Additionally, the video for her debut single “Breaking Point” (produced by Timbaland) has hit #1 on BET 106 & Park while becoming the #1 added record to Urban Radio after recently performing the song on BET’s Black Girls Rock. Recently seen at The American Music Awards, the songwriter also graces the current covers of both Vibe Magazine and Jones Magazine.

Executive produced by super producers
Timbaland and Polow Da Don, the new album features appearances by Kanye West, Chris Brown, Rick Ross, J-Cole and additional musical contributions by Timbaland, Polow Da Don, Danja, Ne-Yo, John Legend, Boi-1da, Stargate, Jerry Wonder and Chuck Harmony.

The album encompasses the past two years in Keri’s life as she’s gone from a hit songwriter responsible for hits by Britney Spears, Pussy Cat Dolls, Mary J. Blige, and Usher to a Grammy nominated singer with #1 songs under her own belt. Representing a myriad of sounds, the Timbaland–produced “Breaking Point” is a bluesy call to arms; the kind of song a woman listens to as she musters up the courage and conviction to leave a no-good relationship. Whilst on the other side of the spectrum, the raw and infectious “The Way You Love Me” feat. Rick Ross, produced by Polow Da Don is a club-thumping message to female empowerment. But that’s not to say Hilson’s music doesn’t speak to the fellas, “I write from a female perspective, but I’m also telling men what women are really thinking and feeling about them.”

“Keri’s intense focus on No Boys Allowed has been inspiring to both Timbaland and I, in and out of the studio. This will definitely be one of the best albums of 2010/2011,” says Polow Da Don, Co-Executive Producer of the album and Zone 4 President.

No Boys Allowed is a deeply personal project designed to bring women to their feet. The provocative title, is not what you may think, says Hilson. “It’s not about excluding men. It’s more about women understanding that there comes a time in your life when you want a man. A real man. A grown up. Not a boy. And that’s not a bad thing.”

Mighty Jerome - Toronto Director Charles Officer Tells The Little-Known Tale Of One Of Canada’s Greatest Sprinters

Source: www.eyeweekly.com - BY Jason Anderson

(April 26, 2011) Having just made a movie about him,
Charles Officer knows a whole lot about Harry Jerome. But even he admits he didn’t really have any idea who the man was until nine years ago. That’s when Officer, a Toronto actor and filmmaker, was someone’s date for the African-Canadian awards show that bears Jerome’s name.

Officer was rightly shocked that the history of one of Canada’s greatest athletes was so obscure. After all, Harry Jerome was once the fastest man in the world. During his career in the 1960s, the Saskatchewan-born, B.C.-bred sprinter set a total of seven world records. He represented Canada three times at the Olympics, winning the bronze in the 100-metres in 1964, and he also won gold medals at the Commonwealth and Pan-Am games.

Jerome’s death from a brain aneurysm at the age of 42 in 1982 was
certainly one reason his story receded into the past. But even so, how could the legacy of a man with those achievements seem so precarious?

Only after making Mighty Jerome did Officer really understand the challenges the runner had to contend with, as well as the cultural complexities faced by any athlete of colour in those days. “There was so much that I learned that I had no clue about,” says Officer at a café near his office in Toronto’s east end.

Mighty Jerome is the first full-length documentary by the Toronto native, who made a similarly impressive feature debut with 2008’s Nurse.Fighter.Boy and whose acting credits include Soulpepper’s 2010 production of A Raisin in the Sun. Blending archival footage, new interviews with Jerome’s friends and family, and haunting re-enactments shot by ace cinematographer John Price, Officer’s doc is a sensitively rendered portrait of a man whose story provokes an array of questions about racial identity and personal integrity.

One factor that had a definite impact on Jerome’s legacy was his combative relationship with the press, which was largely the result of excessive early hype about the young sprinter. A young man with none of the media training that athletes routinely receive now, Jerome would naturally lash back when criticized, especially when race was part of it. As a result, Officer says, “he built up a reputation in the early part of his career that stayed with him as he got older, regardless of what he did or said later on.”

The impact of the civil rights movement in the US would further complicate Jerome’s position, especially when his friends and fellow sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos made headlines by giving black power salutes on the Olympic podium in 1968. In the film’s most startling clip, Jerome is visibly uncomfortable during a discussion on a CBC current-affairs show about the incident. As one of Canada’s few prominent black athletes, Jerome was in an unenviable position: after years of trying to eke out a highly public career back when the country was hardly the multicultural happy-land we like to believe it to be now, suddenly he was being deemed insufficiently militant. As Officer notes, “He looks like a scared guy.” He also looks like a figure caught between one version of Canada and one yet to exist.

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to revisit this,” Officer says. “This is my mom’s era and it was amazing to delve back into the choices that people had to make. And they had to make choices that had a real impact on their livelihoods, on their education. Speaking your mind was not an easy thing.”

Add to that the incredible tale of Jerome’s recovery from an injury that should’ve ended his career in 1962, the circumstances of his own mixed-race marriage and the suddenness of his death, and you’ve got a saga that no one can forget once they hear it. “It’s a tragic story,” says Officer. “It’s so Hollywood in a way. And here we are with this story sitting under our noses and we don’t even know it!”


Drake, Wanda Sykes, Keke Palmer, J.Lo Join ‘Ice Age 4’

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(April 27, 2011) *Rapper Drake, comedian Wanda Sykes, Nickelodeon star Keke Palmer and “American Idol” judge Jennifer Lopez are joining the voice cast of the fourth “Ice Age” cartoon, “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”

Actor Jeremy Renner and “Parks and Recreation” star Aziz Ansari have also been added to the Fox franchise, joining returning actors Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Seann William Scott and Josh Peck.

The cast was revealed Tuesday during a meeting on the Fox lot with potential promotional partners, licensees and retail partners, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Romano and Queen Latifah took participants through the “Continental Drift” storyline.

Due in theatres on July 13, 2012, Renner will portray Gutt, a self-styled master of the high seas. Lopez will play Shira, a sabre-toothed tiger who melts the heart of Diego, played by Leary. Romano returns as Manny and Queen Latifah as Ellie, both mammoths. It was not known what roles the other new arrivals would play.

The first three “Ice Age” films have grossed nearly $2 billion at the worldwide box office, putting Fox and production partner Blue Sky Studios squarely in the animation game. Their winning streak continues with ”Rio,” which has grossed nearly $300 million in less than three weeks.

“Ice Age” is becoming a year-round brand for Fox. A Christmas television special is being planned, along with a mobile game and online game.

The Man Behind Georges St-Pierre’s Success

Source:  www.thestar.com - Morgan Campbell

(April 26, 2011) If you think professional mixed martial arts is simply about beating people up, you’ve got a lot to learn about the world’s fastest-growing sport.

Top-level fighters study the craft like university students, absorbing instructions from experts in each of the myriad of disciplines that comprise MMA, including jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing and Muay Thai.

And as fight night approaches, fighters hustle to drop weight, taking measures so extreme you wouldn’t even see them on The Biggest Loser.

If you don’t believe it, ask
Firas Zahabi.

As the head coach for UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, Zahabi knows how to build an MMA champion. The Montreal-based trainer spends six days a week working with St-Pierre. On Tuesday, he took a few minutes to explain the process of preparing St-Pierre for his April 30 title defence against Jake Shields at the Rogers Centre.

Given your background in Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu, how did you wind up coaching instead of competing in MMA?

I always loved martial arts more than I loved fighting. I didn’t do martial arts because I wanted to be famous or because I wanted to win a tournament. I always did it because I was fascinated with the art. I went to school, I was hoping to become a lawyer one day, but I got a job as a martial arts instructor and it just flowered into what it is today. But even if there was no UFC, I would be doing martial arts.

How do you divide your time between the biggest-name fighter, St-Pierre, and all the other fighters that need your attention?

What’s fair is fair. The guy with the biggest profile fight should get the most attention. He paid his dues to get there. He’s fighting the tougher guy so he needs more help . . . Every fight is important, but you don’t need a whole host of coaches to fight a local fight. If you need a whole host of coaches to win a local fight, you won’t be ready to go international.

Is there a danger of an information overload when a fighter has that many coaches?

If you’re at a beginner level, yeah, it’s an overload. That’s why (fighters) can’t do this at an early level. But Georges is so well-seasoned and his curriculum is so well-developed that when adding a new coach Georges knows what to take and what to leave behind. He’s the final guy to decide and he’s at the point to make these judgment calls. But you can’t do that with a novice.

What are some of the hidden challenges that go with training a world-class fighter?

It’s to create gains. The more highly-trained you are, the harder it is to create gains. If I take a novice weightlifter and make him lift weights he’s going to get stronger, even if I give him the worst strength and conditioning program. But if I take a highly-trained athlete and give him a bad program, his strength levels are going to drop because he was already used to a greater program. That’s the difficulty — not taking a step back.

Fighters often move up in weight as they age, yet St-Pierre has remained a welterweight (170 pounds). How has he been able to do that?

Georges has been getting better at cutting weight. He’s walking around at 194 (pounds). There was a time when he used to walk around at 180 to make 170. He cuts weight so easily we added more muscle.

How do you drop 25 pounds and still retain your strength and explosiveness?

It becomes a game. Now he’s on a protein and vegetable diet. Right now his exercise is significantly cut, but he’s going to shed water. It’s only temporary weight loss. It’s not real weight loss. You’re not dropping fat. (The final weight-cut) lasts about six days . . . By Friday he’ll have six or seven pounds left and we’ll put him in the sauna. I don’t recommend this to anybody, even professional athletes. This is somebody who’s very seasoned.

As soon as the weigh-in is done (Friday afternoon) we’ll give him a recovery drink. We’ll even give him Prime (a workout supplement by Gatorade, which sponsors St-Pierre) because he needs the carbohydrates that much more . . . he’ll enter the ring at 192 or 193 pounds.

He can gain 22 pounds overnight without losing any speed or alertness?

You tell me after Saturday.

Gaga's Backstage Meltdown

Source:  www.canoe.ca -

(April 25, 2011)
Lady Gaga can be seen breaking down in tears as she admits to feeling like a “loser kid” in an emotional clip from an upcoming concert documentary.

The singer weeps openly as she talks about her insecurities while gazing into a mirror in her dressing room at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

She says, “I was in the worst mood on the way here. I just get so revved up when I do these benchmark shows you know, ’cause I start to think about all the people that have tried to stop me... I think about how I don’t really give a s**t if people don’t understand what I do as long as my fans understand.

“I just sometimes feel like a loser still, you know. It’s crazy ’cause it’s like we’re at the Garden but I still sometimes feel like a loser kid in high school.

“I gotta (sic) pick myself up and I have to tell myself that I’m a superstar every morning so that I can get through this day and be for my fans what they need for me to be. But sometimes I still feel like people are trying to destroy me.

“I’m fighting for every kid that’s like me, that felt like I felt and feels like I still feel... I just wanna be a queen for them and sometimes I don’t feel like one. It’s not about being a winner for me anymore. It’s about being a winner for all of them.”

The footage, filmed in February for an HBO special, also shows Gaga bowing her head in prayer, asking God, “Please give me strength to be a winner for all of them and not myself... Please help me to be strong and know my own strength. Please help me to be brave, Lord. Dear God, give me courage. Do not let me give in to my own insecurities.”

Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden is due to air in the U.S. on May 7.

Black Bull Survives Fire; Tenants Above Displaced

Source: ctvtoronto.ca

(Apr. 23, 2011) A historic downtown Toronto tavern survived a three-
alarm fire relatively unscathed, but those living in the apartments above the bar found themselves without a home on Friday.

Firefighters rushed to the
Black Bull tavern at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday night after an apartment on the building's third floor caught fire.

Rob Taylor, the manager of the 177-year-old pub, said there were about 80 people inside the pub at 298 Queen St. W. when the blaze broke out. He said the bar was only affected when its gas line was cut.

"There is no damage to the bar," said Taylor. "The water ran down, but went down a drain in the floor. The only thing we have left to do is have the gas turned back on."

Upstairs, however, small apartments that were home to about 20 tenants were left charred and barren by the fire. Fire crews fought the blaze for about two hours before they finally doused the flames just before midnight.

Toronto Fire Capt. Mike Strapko said it was the contents of an apartment, and not the building, that burned during the three-alarm blaze.

Strapko said crews rescued one man in his 50s and rushed him to Toronto General Hospital with minor burns and smoke inhalation.

Another man in his 80s managed to get out of the building himself and was transported to Toronto Western Hospital with smoke inhalation, Strapko added.

Taylor said about 20 people live in the apartments above the bar, all of whom found themselves without places to stay Thursday night.

He told CTV Toronto's Tamara Cherry that the fire started in one messy unit, the tenant of which he had been trying to evict for the past six months.

Displaced tenant Jacob Vikovic said that he would be forced to stay at a local shelter for the time being.

"I have no place to live, I don't have financial ability to do something about it, I don't know where to go, who to ask for help," Vikovic said.

Several other men were filled with similar doubts as they wandered outside their shattered home on Friday.

Salvation Army Capt. Ron Farr said the loss of a long-time home can be a very scarring experience.

"Some, depending on a person's make-up, may suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome from something like this. Others will take it in a little more of stride," he said.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Tamara Cherry


L.A. Reid Remembers Left Eye on 9th Anniversary of her Death

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Apr 26, 2011) *Late TLC member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes is being remembered by the former head of her record label nine years after she was killed in a car accident in Honduras at the age of 30.

Music mogul L.A. Reid, who co-owned LaFace Records, paid tribute to the late rapper over the weekend, telling the Hollywood Reporter, “I think about her often. I miss Lisa a lot.”

Reid recalled how Lopes had moved to Atlanta in order to make a name for herself in the music industry, saying, “She was like my little girl, and I loved her. I was closer to her and I was devastated at the loss of her. I still love her today, and she still is in my mind and in my thoughts daily. It’s been quite some time now but it’s one of those things that just never goes away.”

On April 25th 2002, Lopez was driving her brother, sister and two friends around Honduras while vacationing in the country. The singer attempted to pass another vehicle when a car approached from the other lane. Attempting to swerve and miss the oncoming vehicle, Lopes crashed into a tree at high speed and died of neck injuries and severe head trauma.

In addition to her work with TLC, Left Eye recorded one solo studio album entitled “Supernova.” The record was released in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and China, but not in the United States. The singer was working on her second studio album at the time of her death.

Azalea Ray Bows To The Feet And Touches The Soul

Source:  www.thestar.com - By John Goddard

(Apr 26, 2011) Azalea Ray leads a life as bold and romantic as any of her songs.

She once promised a Toronto audience that she would go to Pakistan and touch the feet of a singer she admired.

She vowed to display esteem and deference toward Farida Khanum, one of the foremost stars of poetic ghazal music, and afterward a fan challenged Ray to fulfill the pledge.

“That’s a fantasy, that’s not something that’s going to happen,” she told the man three years ago. But when the man got Khanum on the phone, Ray began singing and crying, prompting the elderly vocalist to say, “Your voice carries much pain. Don’t cry. I am awaiting your arrival.”

And within six months, Ray was in Lahore touching Khanum’s feet.

“I sang for her for three hours a night for eight nights,” Ray recalls during a phone from London. “On Dec. 24, 2008, she tied a thread around my arm and, on national television, announced me as her first official disciple.”

Rarely does Ray do anything by halves.

As a child, she possessed a powerful voice with a four-octave range. She was born in Holland of Indian Hindu parents, grew up in Don Mills and sang classical Hindustani songs at community gatherings.

Then eight years ago, when she was 33, a hospital procedure damaged her vocal tract. Her voice dropped, losing its upper range. Singing became painful for her and doctors told her to stop altogether.

For solace, she turned to Pakistani Muslim Sufi singers, with their powerfully expressed passions.

“I would lock myself into my apartment at Yonge and Eglinton and watch YouTube videos of these Sufi and ghazal singers,” Ray says. “I didn’t understand the lyrics and I would immerse myself in the poetry of their body language.”

After five years, Ray felt well enough to sing again.

In 2008, she performed at an event for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In 2009, on her return from Pakistan, she performed at a few more public and private events.

Then last year, at the age of 40, she quit her job at a Toronto medical office to travel and study for six months in Pakistan and India — “like a gypsy,” she says.

In Delhi, she gained recognition, she says, “as the girl from Toronto who lost her voice and sings again.” She also touched the feet of her second inspirational hero, Abida Parveen, one of Pakistan’s most renowned Sufi singers and featured star at the Delhi’s annual Jahan-e-Khusrau festival.

Ray met her there at a rehearsal, along with festival director Muzaffar Ali, best known as director of such hit Bollywood films as Umrao Jaan.

“The pain in your voice is mind-blowing,” Ray recalls Ali telling her. “I am waiting to see your stage presence. Call me as soon as possible.”

This year, Ray performed on the opening day of the festival at Humayun’s Tomb, a landmark Delhi structure dating to 1570 and surrounded by gardens. This month, Muzaffar took the festival to London, to the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, where Ray performed again.

She is to return to Delhi for several more concerts and be in Toronto for a show Sunday, May 29, at Lula Lounge, beginning at 8:30 p.m. — part of the ninth annual Small World Music South Asian Music Series.

In the first half, with tabla and flute players, Ray is to sing traditional ghazal and Sufi music, accompanying herself on harmonium.

In the second half, she joins world-fusion band Beatmap, with drummer Alan Davis, who is also artistic director of Small World Music. For Ray, the adventure continues.

“I’ll be singing authentic poetry in Punjabi and Urdu surrounded by four guys, four white fellows rooted in funk, R&B, rock and roll, and Middle Eastern,” she says. “We’ll enhance the poetry in a modern way.”

The South Asian series runs from April 29 to June 4 at various venues. Go to www.smallworldmusic.com for further details.

This spring promises to be a particularly lively one for world music in Toronto. In chronological order, a few other top picks:

 • Toronto jazz trombonist Darren Sigesmund opens himself to Latin influences by adding Venezuelan-born Eliana Cuevas to his lineup, April 27, 8 p.m., at the Al Green Theatre, 750 Spadina Ave.

 • Brazilian jazz-pop vocalist Tatiana Parra and her guitarist countryman Fábio Zanon make a rare Toronto appearance at the Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall on April 28 at 8 p.m., in a show entitled Baraziliant and backed by Soundstream Canada’s Choir 21.

 • LulaWorld: The New Canadian Songbook, runs May 12-22 at Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. W., opening with Toronto Latin singer Amanda Martinez. Highlights include electro-tropical five-piece band Bomba Estereo from Bogota, Columbia, on May 12, and New York Italian vocalist Daniela Nardi, appearing May 18.

 • Egyptian singer Hakim stars in Luminato’s featured free world music concert on June 18 at 8 p.m. at Metro Square. A powerful vocalist with an international following, Hakim is best known for his electronica-infused interpretation of sha’abi, a type of North African pop rooted in Egyptian folk music. Opening is Egyptian-born Toronto musician George Sawa, esteemed for his mastery of the zither-like Egyptian qanun. Anglo-Egyptian vocalist and belly-dancer Natasha Atlas headlines an afternoon show beginning at 2 p.m.

Emmylou Harris’s Canadian Roots

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(April 26, 2011) For a singer and songwriter who wears the queen of American roots music mantle as if it were her birthright, Emmylou Harris has sure spent a lot of time in the company of Canadians.

She was married to one, for a while back in the 1970s. Brian Ahern, already a successful producer for Anne Murray, was elevated to mover-and-shaker status in Los Angeles when he manoeuvred Harris, his new wife and willing collaborator, out of American country-rock star Gram Parsons’ shadow and onto a new path, by embracing her country-folk origins while casting a much wider musical net.

But her association with Canada preceded her marriage to Ahern, Harris said in an interview during Canadian Music Week last month. It actually began with Mary Martin, the Canadian-born A&R director of Warner Bros. Music’s eastern division, who signed Harris to her first major label deal in 1972.

Harris came to town a month and a half prior to the release of her latest album, Hard Bargain — it’s out Tuesday — to honour Martin at CMW. Her mentor and champion was the recipient in March of the International Music Managers Forum’s Pioneer Award.

“Mary actually introduced me to Brian, and she used to handle a lot of Canadian artists when she worked for (American super-manager) Albert Grossman in the 1960s,” the silver-haired, 64-year-old singer said.

“Kate & Anna McGarrigle were my heart’s inspiration from their very first recording, and as a musician, I was inspired by Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and The Band. I’ve always found something very organic in Canadian music.”

Indeed, in the early 1990s when Harris seemed to be spinning her wheels, it was Canadian producer Daniel Lanois and his engineer/sidekick Malcolm Burn — also Canadian — to whom she turned for a makeover. Their joint effort, Wrecking Ball, revitalized Harris’s career. And it was Lanois who first drew her attention to the talents of budding Canadian songwriter Ron Sexsmith, whose song “Hard Bargain” is the centrepiece and title of her new album.

Canadian musicians have occasionally cropped up in her recording sessions, and a couple of years ago she took Nashville-based, Toronto-raised expat Colin Linden on board as guitarist and leader of her touring band.

Harris always draws exceptionally well in Canada, and tours here regularly. She’s headlining the Mariposa Folk Festival, in Orillia, in July.

“But the Immigration guys still hassle me at the border,” she said.

Having teamed up again in the studio with Ahern for the All I Intended to Be album sessions in 2008, Harris had intended to record Sexsmith’s “Hard Bargain” then, but the song fell off the “to do” list at the last minute, she said.

“We already had plenty of songs, and maybe Brian wasn’t as much of a fan as I was. But I kept it in mind . . . I knew I’d get to do it when the time was right.

“‘Hard Bargain’ sounds like a secular hymn to me. It talks about the sanctity of life, regardless of your emotional state or beliefs. It’s an exquisite song, with a beautiful melody.”

It’s only one of two songs on the 13-track album Harris didn’t write or co-write. In one original, “Darlin’ Kate,” Harris pays personal tribute to Kate McGarrigle, who died last year.

“Every few years I find myself staring at that blank page, and I’m not really sure what I’m going to come up with,” she said. “I’m grateful that my muse is still hanging around.”

Writing doesn’t come easily, she admitted.

“I have to book time with myself, clear a slate, say no to everything and everyone, and lock myself away. I don’t really have a method.

“Most of the time I still feel like a novice, particularly when I think of people like Steve Earle, who writes his next album while he’s touring the current one, then writes a novel and a play between sessions, and lobbies Washington about the death penalty. My God, I’m just a beginner compared to him. He’s a real hero of mine.

“And Mark Knopfler (with whom Harris collaborated on 2006’s All The Roadrunning) is brilliant at telling stories that seem fully realized, complete with characters and voices.

“I admire writers who can come up with songs that aren’t about specific emotional experiences, like revealing your journal. I tried that once, and I bored myself senseless.”

Freddie Jackson Headlines the Men of Soul Tour with Hewett, Osborne and Bryson

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Eunice Moseley

(April 22, 2011) *“We are all excited. We’re having a great, great time,” Freddie Jackson said about the “Men of Soul” Tour which he headlines along with Howard Hewett, Jeffrey Osborne and Peabo Bryson. “All with number one hit records!”

Jackson, who is currently promoting his latest album “For You” (Orpheus/EOne Music), hits include “Jam Tonight,” “Do Me Again,” “You Are My Lady” and “Rock Me Tonight,” which went platinum. Hewitt, formerly of the group Shalamar, hits include “Second Time Around,” “A Night To Remember,” “Dancing In The Sheets,” and “This Is For The Lover In You” – with the group and “Stay” and “Say Amen” as a soloist. “Say Amen” became his signature song. Osborne hits include ‘Back In Love Again” and “Concentrate On You,” with his former band L.T.D., and “On The Wings Of Love,” and “Stay With Me Tonight,” as a soloist. Jeffrey Osborn also wrote the lyrics to Whitney Houston’s “All At Once.” Bryson’s hits include “Feel The Fire,” “Reaching For The Sky,” “I’m So Into You,” “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” and “Can You Stop The Rain.” He won two Grammy Awards, one for “Beauty And The Beast,” featuring Celine Dion and “A Whole New World,” featuring Regina Belle.

“We talked about this a year or so ago,” Freddie said about the concept for the “Men of Soul” Tour. “We tested it out…it felt real good…loving it!”

Jackson said that the tour has already been asked to come to Europe and Africa. The “Men of Soul” Tour will arrive next June 24, 2011 at The Nokia Theater Los Angeles and June 26th in Monterey, California. On May 8th Freddie Jackson performs in Washington, DC to honour Grammy Award winning producer/songwriter Barry Eastmond (Anita Baker) at the Library of Congress.

“We all get together at the end and come on stage and connect,” he informed me.

Freddie said the overwhelming response to the tour is because adults want to go out and hear good music, hold hands, etc… I agree, it seems a lot of the R&B groups, bands and artists with hits from 10-20 years ago are experiencing an emergence of popularity that is very refreshing to me. I see it changing the scope of modern music into something we all have not heard before. I personally can not wait to hear the balance in the old school and new school sounds.

For more information on the “Men of Soul” Tour featuring Freddie Jackson, Howard Hewitt, Jeffrey Osborne and Peabo Bryson log onto www.MenofSoulTour.com.

Magnolia Pictures’ ‘Rejoice and Shout’ will have you doing just that; hits theatres June 17, 2011

*Don McGlynn’s emotionally inspiring documentary on the history of Gospel music is a Magnolia Pictures release, produced by Deep Rivers Production and executive produced by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner. It features commentary by Andrae Crouch, Mavis Staples, Ira Tucker and Ira Tucker, Jr., Marie Knight, Bill Carpenter, Willa Ward and Smokey Robinson.

The documentary had me rejoicing, shouting and crying – especially when they covered the incredible career of Mahalia Jackson, considered the greatest Gospel singer in the world.

Mahalia Jackson crossed all barriers,” Smokie Robinson said of the Gospel legend.                “Mahalia sold 2 million records in 1947 at a time when 200,000 was considered a success,” said Gospel historian Bill Carpenter.

Smokie spoke on today’s Gospel music, explaining that in today’s time Gospel music is different from the past, but it is still Gospel music.

“If you hear Hip-Hop with Gospel lyrics and you don’t like it, too bad because that’s how they sing it, if the presence of the Lord is in the music, than its Gospel music.”

The documentary takes you to the beginning during slavery in the cotton fields where Spirituals began. Then it progresses to the church and its acceptance of the different genres of Gospel music.

“If we go back to 1900s…Black Baptist developed a polish sophisticated style of worship,” Carpenter said.

Rejoice and Shout will explain how Gospel music went from conservative to what it is today. The documentary film will open in New York on June 10, 2011 and then Los Angeles – along with the top ten markets – on June 17th. The documentary covers 200 years of music history of African-American Gospel.

For more information on Rejoice and Shout log onto www.MagPictures.com.

Singer Phoebe Snow Dies At 60

Source:  www.globeandmail.com -
The Associated Press

(Apr 26, 2011) NEW YORK — It wasn't long after the release of Poetry Man, the breezy, jazzy love song that would make Phoebe Snow a star, that the singer experienced another event that would dramatically alter her life.

In 1975, she gave birth to a daughter, Valerie Rose, who was found to be severely brain-damaged. Her husband split from her soon after the baby was born. And, at a time when many disabled children were sent to institutions, Snow decided to keep her daughter at home and care for the child herself.

The decision to be Valerie's primary caretaker would lead her to abandon music for a while and enter into ill-fated business decisions in the quest to stay solvent enough to take care of Valerie.

Snow, who worked her way back into the music performing world in the 1980s and continued to perform in recent years, died on Tuesday from complications of a brain hemorrhage she suffered in January 2010, said Rick Miramontez, her long-time friend and public relations representative. She was 60.

Snow never regretted her decision to put aside music so she could focus on Valerie's care. She was devastated when her daughter, who was not expected to live beyond her toddler years, died in 2007 at 31.

“She was my universe,” she told the website PopEntertainment.com that year. “She was the nucleus of everything. I used to wonder, am I missing something? No. I had such a sublime, transcendent experience with my child. She had fulfilled every profound love and intimacy and desire I could have ever dreamed of.”

After her stroke last year, Snow endured bouts of blood clots, pneumonia and congestive heart failure, said her manager, Sue Cameron.

“The loss of this unique and untouchable voice is incalculable,” Cameron said. “Phoebe was one of the brightest, funniest and most talented singer-songwriters of all time and, more importantly, a magnificent mother to her late brain-damaged daughter, Valerie, for 31 years. Phoebe felt that was her greatest accomplishment.”

Known as a folk guitarist who made forays into jazz and blues, Snow put her stamp on soul classics such as Shakey Ground, Love Makes a Woman and Mercy, Mercy Mercy on over a half dozen albums.

Snow's defining hit, however, was Poetry Man, which she wrote herself. The song, anchored by her husky voice and a fluid guitar, was a romantic ode to a married man. It reached the Top 5 on the pop singles chart in 1975 and garnered her a Grammy nomination for best new artist.

Soon after that, her daughter was born. She was born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain cavity that inhibits brain development. Snow's husband, musician Phil Kearns, left her while Valerie was still a baby.

For years, Snow fought the diagnosis of Valerie's mental condition, but in 1983, she told The New York Times that she had accepted her daughter's fate.

“I've finally settled into realizing that my daughter is what she is,” she said. “Any progress she makes is fantastic, but I no longer foresee any miracles happening. I went through phases of the occult and of trying to find every single doctor in the country who could possibly do something. I realize now that I can't move mountains.”

While she was caring for Valerie, her career started to take a downward spiral. Inexperienced in the music business, she broke contracts with record companies and others, and found herself embroiled in a number of lawsuits and severe financial problems.

“With my quick success, I didn't have time to learn the ropes of the music business,” she told the Times in the same interview. “Because my first record was such a hit, I was terribly spoiled and I thought I couldn't do anything wrong. I was also desperate to make tons of money because of my responsibility to my daughter. And there was no longer any joy in making music.”

She started to make her way back into the music business and by the early 1980s was performing shows again. In 1989, she released her first album in eight years, Something Real. She also supplemented her income doing through the 1980s and into the 1990s by singing commercial jingle for companies including Michelob, Hallmark and AT&T.

Among her other hits was her duet with Paul Simon on the song Gone at Last. She also sang Have Mercy with Jackson Browne.

Snow was born Phoebe Ann Laub to white Jewish parents in New York City in 1950, and raised in Teaneck, N.J. Though many assumed she was black, Snow never claimed African-American ancestry.

She changed her name after seeing Phoebe Snow, an advertising character for a railroad, emblazoned on trains that passed through her hometown. Snow quit college after two years to perform in amateur nights at Greenwich Village folk clubs.

In her later years, Snow continued to make an impact musically. She sang the theme for NBC's A Different World and the jingle Celebrate the Moments of Your Life for General Foods International Coffees. She also sang at radio host Howard Stern's wedding to Beth Ostrosky in 2008 and for President Bill Clinton, who asked her to perform at Camp David during his presidency.

In 2003, she released Natural Wonder, her first album of new, original material in 14 years. Her other albums include 1989's Something Real and 1981's Rock Away. In 2008, she released a live album titled Live and a best-of CD in 2001.

After her daughter died, Snow continued to perform. Despite her devastation, she dedicated each performance to Valerie's memory.

In an interview with CBS’s Sunday Morning, she said sometimes it was difficult for her to perform, as she remembered her daughter.

“And then other nights I feel like it's my strongest connection to her and it's my way of sharing her with everybody,” she said.

A private funeral is planned for Snow, who is survived by her sister and other relatives.

Concert News For April 25: Britney, Robyn And More

Source: www.thestar.com - Garnet Fraser

(April 25, 2011) It's already shaping up to be a pretty relentless summer concert-wise, and the names just keep coming. Here's today's news:

Robyn, who sold out the Sound Academy in January, will play the Molson Amphitheatre on June 3; as before, Toronto's own Diamond Rings opens, along with Natalia Kills. Tickets ($40) on sale Friday through Ticketmaster, Rotate This and Soundscapes.

Jennifer Hudson, with her album I Remember Me and R. Kelly-penned hit "Where You At" to tout, hits the Sony Centre on July 12. Tickets ($40-$90) on sale Friday via Ticketmaster and the venue.

•Tickets for
Britney Spears' long-age-announced Aug. 13 date at the Air Canada Centre go on sale Saturday from Ticketmaster, ranging from $30 to a sobering $180. Well, Nicki Minaj is one of the opening acts, so ...

•And further down the line, venerable Canuck rockers
April Wine play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Nov. 5. (Hey, it may have been a while since their last hit, but will Britney and Nicki still be performing when they're frontman Myles Goodwyn's age?) Tickets are $40 as of Friday from Ticketmaster, Rotate This and Soundscapes.

Jazz Singer Alex Pangman Still Recording After Double Lung Transplant

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

(Apr 22, 2011) Singers know a lot about breathing and breath control.
For Alex Pangman, those things have been a lifetime preoccupation - and not just when she's in a club or recording studio.

Pangman has just released 33, a good new album of sophisticated, mostly little-known songs from 1933 (on Montreal's Justin Time Records). It's a fairly happy collection, and you start to understand why when you learn that the 34-year-old singer recorded the whole thing (last year when she was 33) on a pair of transplanted lungs.

She has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that clogs the lungs and digestive system with a thick mucus. She had recorded four CDs (and one 78) and was down to about 25 per cent lung function when a set of donated organs became available in 2008.

"I couldn't even stand up in high heels, I had to sit down to sing," she says, recalling her last gig before the hospital called. "Walking upstairs was like climbing a mountain." She needed an oxygen tank for that hike, or to take a shower, or to ride her horse. She rode right up to the day before the operation, with a tank strapped to the saddle.

Her last request to the surgical team before the transplant began was that they go easy with the intubation tubes they were about to push down her throat. Those can be rough on the vocal cords, she says, though she escaped without noticeable damage after having the tubes in for 36 hours - "a very short time," she says, knowing how much worse it could have been.

A good singer's always a good storyteller, and from her perch in a vintage café on Toronto's west side, Pangman tells her medical saga with the same kind of thoughtful energy that goes into her comments about the music she loves. The surgery is old news for her, but its results are still a miracle that renews itself each time she takes a breath or sings with a kind of nuance she couldn't manage before.

"I can actually sing what I feel, instead of just what my lungs would let me do," she says, with wonder. "I can sing longer phrases, I can make all the expressions I want - breathy sounds, quiet sounds. If I tried to do a breathy sound before, I might start coughing."

Before the surgery, she became expert at doing much with little. She recorded a Christmas album with only 35 per cent lung function. She's good with those percentages, because even now she undergoes weekly lung tests.

She's very conscious of the fact that if she had actually lived during her favourite decade in music - the 1930s - she would never have gotten this far. Even 50 years ago, people with CF usually died before reaching kindergarten age; now, only half make it past 40.

Her new lungs won't clog up like the old ones, because they don't carry the gene that causes CF. The catch is that for the rest of her life, she'll have to take powerful immunosuppressive drugs that prevent her body from rejecting the foreign organs, but that also dampen her resistance to illness.

There are amateur singers in her family, and equestrians too, and her parents bought her a pony early on to keep her active and help clear her lungs. She was singing a country song at a karaoke barn dance near the stables (north of Mississauga, where she grew up) when another rider suggested he sing with his band at a schnitzel house.

"I fell in with a great group of guys who mentored me," she says, one of those guys being the late Jeff Healey, who produced her first album, They Say...(Another mentor, Colonel Tom Parker of the retro-bluegrass band the Backstabbers, married her in 2006). They introduced her to big-band singers such as Helen Forrest and Mildred Bailey, and to the joys of listening to old 78s.

"I felt like I had just discovered a great dinosaur bone," she says. "It was like a beautiful time capsule, that's also very real and present, and speaking of the human condition."

Unlike many jazz singers, she feels no urge to update old songs like Honeysuckle Rose, the only standard on her 33 album. The original presentation of the songs is not just a starting point, but an ideal.

"I'm attracted to the melodies and lyrics from that era, and to the sensibility and the feel of the musicians, just the way they played," she says. "Something about it recommends itself to me in a way I can't really put into words."

No matter; 33 makes her case with finesse and eloquence. Her one original tune, a ballad called As Lovely Lovers Do, shows how deeply she has absorbed the sensibility of her chosen era. Her singing, too, reflects the style of that period: her tone is light and buoyant, her line is studded with little turns, and she often glides up to the peak of a phrase from somewhere below the "correct" pitch.

She'll go on the road this summer, touring from Victoria to St. John's. She won't push it hard - she's happy to be able to take a breather every few days. Make that every day.

Christine Fellows, Femmes De Chez Nous (Six Shooter)

Source: www.thestar.com – Ben Rayner

(Apr 20, 2011) A confession: Winnipeg’s
Christine Fellows has resided until now in a catch-all brainspace reserved for Canadian singer/songwriters I know of and assume I know, yet don’t really know at all.

After awhile at this pop-critic game, an unfamiliar performer, male or female, saddled with the broad “singer/songwriter” classification is just assumed to be another sad soul with an acoustic guitar and too much on his or her mind. It takes a little nudging to pay genuine attention. And the right nudging towards Fellows’s latest record, Femmes de chez nous, came partly from trustworthy local independent label Six Shooter Records’ staunch faith in an artist with whom I’d never bothered to become properly acquainted, but mostly from the fact that Fellows is sufficiently committed to her art to have emerged from an artistic residency at Franco-Manitoban institution – and former “Grey” nunnery – La Musee de Saint-Boniface with a bilingual, pseudo-“concept” album based upon the experiences of women whose lives she researched there. That’s setting the bar higher than most and a feat, as the Six Shooter site proclaims, best explained by Fellows herself than anyone else.

Musically, Femmes de chez nous sets the bar higher than most, too, which makes its mildly frilly baroque-folk arrangements – based around not a sad acoustic guitar but a piano that sounds classically schooled – and Fellows’s crowded verbiage a tad slow to set in on the melodic front. Her sharp-edged voice and the evocative, literary detail she bends into her curlicued, poetic vignettes about “city-hall stenographers,” widows, wayward nuns, prostitutes and other women transcending the positions into which they’ve been thrust are immediate to strike, though. You’re driven back to the lyric sheet to decipher and delight in the language while the music falls into place behind. That doesn’t happen very often. I’m still figuring Femmes de chez nous out but I like it very much. The lilting “Un Canadian Errant,” in particular.

Christine Fellows plays the Music Gallery on April 26. I am inclined to check it out.

Jackson’s Rehearsal Footage To Be Shown At Trial

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Apr 21, 2011) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Prosecutors can show limited
clips of Michael Jackson’s final rehearsals during the trial of the doctor charged in his death, a judge ruled Thursday.

The decision came after Deputy District Attorney David Walgren argued the footage from the film This Is It shows Jackson was highly engaged in preparing for his comeback tour and was not desperate to make it a success, as defence attorneys for Dr. Conrad Murray have claimed.

Prosecutors plan to show Jackson performing “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Earth Song” while director and choreographer Kenny Ortega testifies about the pop star’s demeanour before his death.

Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Authorities contend he gave Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol in the bedroom of his rented mansion. Defence attorneys are trying to build a case showing Jackson may have given himself the fatal dose.

Defence attorneys objected to showing the film footage, claiming it was edited to show Jackson in the best light. They noted that not all of the footage was shot in the two days before Jackson’s June 25, 2009, death and should be excluded.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled prosecutors can only show footage from Jackson’s rehearsals on June 23 and June 24. He also said the footage must be edited to remove some of the special effects and visuals, particularly images of whales, polar bears, a “cute little girl” and other “flora and fauna.”

Pastor said showing the footage wasn’t meant to be entertainment, and it didn’t matter if the entire songs were shown.

Defence attorney Ed Chernoff sought an opportunity to review raw footage of Jackson’s rehearsals, but prosecutors said they do not have it. They suggested that Murray’s attorneys subpoena it from Sony Pictures, which purchased rights to the footage after the singer’s death.

The judge also was considering whether to allow images of Jackson’s autopsy to be shown to jurors during trial. Pastor said he wants to review the images prosecutors propose to show before making a decision.

Walgren said he plans to show “a handful or less” of autopsy photos, which defence attorneys say is unnecessary.

VIDEOS: Our Pop Past: Steel River

Source:  www.thestar.com -
Garnet Fraser

(April 27, 2011) (As exciting as the local music scene is in many ways, there was life long before Broken Social Scene. Every Wednesday we're going to post a profile of a Toronto band, alternating between young bands now and those who made some noise in years past. We'll start with a dose of retro, courtesy writer Chandler Levack.) 

Steel River

Who were they?

The soft n’ sensual remnants of a R&B band called The Toronto Shotgun,
Steel River formed in 1969 and signed to Greg Hambleton’s label Tuesday Record. The lineup included John Dudgeon on vocals, Bob Forrester on keyboards, Rob Cockell on bass, Tony Dunning on guitar and Ray Angrove on drums, who was eventually replaced by Dennis Watson. Previously known for playing Toronto high schools, the band broke through with their recording of the Jay Telfer song “Ten Pound Note” on their 1970 debut Weightin’ Heavy. A Better Road was the final album for the band, though a brief 1980 reunion led to the single “Armoured Car.” 

What did they sound like?

Think Creedence, man. Though their signature hit “Ten Pound Note” is a breezy blow off comparing a love lost to a loose bill, their laconic roots rock is the real star. Additional cuts include the Rolling Stones-esque train-as-sex-metaphor-song “Southbound Train,” and the guileless “Mexican Lady,” which sounds like a Jack Kerouac novel set on the Trans-Canada highway. Fast and loose guitar playing, John Dudgeon’s warm vocals and a few blistering solos make their long-haired Canadiana a forgotten classic.

Any chance of a reunion?

Already happened. After the chance reunion of four out of five members for their belaboured single “Armoured Car,” Dudgeon went on to a solo career, releasing album Put My Arms Around You in 1983, which includes the Talking Heads-tinged song “Take My Hand,” and a titular shmaltzy soft rock song. At last report he was still active in music, though - having joined the Markham funk/blues group Mojo Grande - so fans can hope.

Choice cuts:

Commercial for their 1971 album “A Better Road” (featuring “Southbound Train”):

Concert Review: Duran Duran at Phoenix, Toronto - April 25, 2011

Source:  www.canoe.ca - By Jane Stevenson QMI Agency

(April 26, 2011) Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

That’s what I initially thought when I found out
Duran Duran, the ‘80s British, pretty poster boys for New Wave, were playing the Phoenix in support of their latest album, All You Need Is Now, on Monday night.

In the past, Simon Le Bon and crew had played arenas - as recently as 2008 in Toronto - so pardon my assumption when they were booked into a club that holds about 1,000 people.

Then I was told the idea was to purposely stage small shows - with tickets snapped up in five minutes for the Phoenix date - as a way of promoting their latest disc, produced by fellow Brit Mark Ronson, who employed Le Bon on the excellent title track on his third album, Record Collection.

So, there you go, once again Duran Duran are generating excitement some 30 years after their debut album.

Certainly, the group, led by the cheeky and highly theatrical Le Bon, still have the goods in concert if their fun and sweaty hour-and-40-minute show on Monday night was any indication.

And I’m no Duranie.

The band - rounded out by original bassist John Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes - who took a picture of the audience at one point - and drummer Roger Taylor with new lead guitarist Dom Brown, backup singer Anna Ross and saxophonist-percussionist Simon Willescroft - know how to pace a show.

They wasted no time trotting out the mega-hits with Planet Earth and Hungry Like The Wolf kicking things off in a big way before they delved into the title track from All You Need Is Now.

Le Bon, initially dressed in a black blazer before discarding it to show off a short-sleeved black shirt that would end up soaked right through by the end of night, was inscrutable in the early moments of the show, holding out his palms upward for more applause.

But he loosened up considerably once the photographers had left the pit at the front of the stage.

He started to camp it up by the fifth song, the old dance chestnut, Notorious, as he pretended to drive a car by the song’s end or blow on two imaginary guns, which were in fact his fingers, during Friends Of Mine.

Le Bon also did a little robot dance as the new song, Blame The Machines, wound down, and donned a Chauffeur’s hat for The Chauffeur.

“You in the mood for dancing?” Le Bon, 52, inquired to huge cheers from the audience of screaming women of all ages, and men too.

Of the new tunes, the title track from All You Need Is Now and Girl Panic! along with the ballad, Leave The Light On, stood up against older Duran favourites like the gorgeous ballad, Ordinary World, the more recent hit, Reach Up For the Sunrise - which produced the first crowd clap along - and their ‘80s anthems Rio, The Reflex and Girls On Film, the latter which saw Le Bon insert a bit of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face into the song for a nice 21st century update.

“We’re Duran Duran - the band designed to make you party!” the singer summed up as the show drew to a close.

And he wasn’t half wrong.


Planet Earth

Hungry Like The Wolf

All You Need Is Now

Being Followed


Safe (In The Heat Of The Moment)

Leave A Light On

Friends Of Mine

Blame The Machines

The Chauffeur

Ordinary World

Girl Panic!

Careless Memories

Reach Up For The Sunrise



The Reflex

Girls On Film/Poker Face


Timbaland Strikes 75-Track Production Deal with Sony

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 22, 2011) *Timbaland has teamed with Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s Extreme Music to produce 75 new tracks for the Production Music Library, reports allhiphop.com. Extreme Music is a Music Production house that provides background music for professional music users and music supervisors in need of material for their productions. Under the new deal, Timbaland and Mike “Daddy” Evans will create the brand new tracks exclusively for Extreme Music, which places music in hit TV shows and movies like “30 Rock,” “Glee,” “Entourage,” “Avatar,” “Inception” and others. Last week, Extreme Music announced a similar deal with rapper Xzibit, who will provide 40 new tracks in a compilation titled Urban Ammo 2. Other acts on Extreme Music’s roster include Hans Zimmer, Quincy Jones, Snoop Dogg, Junkie XL and Paul Oakenfold.

Kid Cudi Forms New Label; Announces Name on Stage

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 25, 2011) *While performing in New York City on Thursday (April 21), Kid Cudi announced the name of his new record label, “Wicked Awesome Records,” reports Billboard. In February, the rapper announced his split with his managers Patrick “Plain Pat” Reynolds and Emile Haynie (Dream On Records) via Twitter and said he was starting a new venture with producer, Dot Da Genius. Cudi proceeded with more news the same night, announcing he’d changed his band name from “Wizard” to “2 Be Continuum.” Cudi wanted something “original,” after finding many groups with the same name on iTunes. “We’ve been working real hard on this project. I’m really f*cken excited for you to hear it,” Cudi says in regards to his third album, “Wizard.” Cudi shares working hard with Dot and playing the guitar on this project, and even if only for nine months, he assures the records are “epic” and that “it’s still wizardry at its finest.” We should expect the first single off “Wizard” this summer.

Beyonce Recording Duet with Rihanna; ‘Girls’ Hits iTunes

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 21, 2011) *Beyonce Knowles is reportedly recording a duet with Rihanna for her upcoming new album. The singer – who officially released her new single “Run The World (Girls)” today following yesterday’s full demo leak – has asked RiRi to record a duet for her new, as yet untitled record, set to be released in June. The pair reportedly first discussed working together at this year’s Grammys, and have now set time aside in their schedules to work on the track. A source told website M is For Music: “Rihanna has wanted to work with Beyonce for some time now and, after talking about a duet at this year’s Grammys, they have finally managed to set aside some time to record together. The song will feature on Beyonce’s album and will be a number one smash hit for sure.”

Bon Jovi To Open Pay-What-You-Can Restaurant

Source:  www.thestar.com - Greg Quill

(Apr 26, 2011) If they don’t have what it takes to break into the movies, rock stars tend toward the hospitality business – celebrity bars and theme restaurants – as sidelines or retirement projects. New Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi is no different. Though he has had some success in movies and TV (Ally McBeal, West Wing, Pay It Forward), he’s more interested these days in his getting his new restaurant – Soul Kitchen – off the ground than in hanging out with Hollywood stars. But attracting a big-ticket, free-spending clientele isn’t part of Bon Jovi’s business plan. The restaurant, in Red Bank, N.J., is billed as a non-profit community restaurant, where diners are invited to pay what they can, or “pay forward,” by helping out – setting tables, serving customers, or preparing food in the kitchen, which is run by a crew of professionals and volunteers. An eatery with a similar operational principle, The SAME Café, has been open for some time in Denver, Colo., run by a pair of former volunteer workers at food banks and homeless shelters. Soul Kitchen, which, according to a video on its website, sources local food grown “in the Garden State,” is set to open July 4, a representative of the rock star told the Asbury Press. The restaurant is part of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a philanthropic body that funds services and programs for the needy.

Serena Williams in the Studio with DJ Clue

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Apr 26, 2011) *Serena Williams apparently has another passion besides tennis and fashion. The athlete is looking to launch a career as a rapper, according to TMZ.  She reportedly visited the studio of Minnesota Vikings player Bryant McKinnie’s record label last week to collaborate with hip-hop producer DJ Clue. The 29-year-old Miami Dolphins co-owner has recently been photographed in training – in some rather interesting outfits – for a return to competitive play for the first time since suffering a pulmonary embolism, for which she had to undergo emergency surgery in March.

Aretha Franklin’s New Album Due May 3

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Apr 26, 2011) *The long-awaited new album from Aretha Franklin is now just one week way from being released. “Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love,” the Queen of Soul’s 38th studio album, will be available exclusively at Walmart stores and Walmart.com beginning May 3. The 12-track album, which features first single “How Long I’ve Waited,” is Franklin’s first release since undergoing surgery last December.


Caribbean Entrepreneur Backs Creative Economy

Source: CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution

(April 21, 2011) NEW YORK - The creativity of
Caribbean filmmakers will be a focus of the Caribbean Tourism Organization's Caribbean Week in New York, June 4 to 11, 2011.

Frances-Anne Solomon, founder and CEO of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution, announced a new partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) which will feature trailers of top Caribbean films during CTO meetings and events, and a day-long Caribbean film showcase with panel discussions and networking on Saturday, June 11.

"By presenting the best and brightest of our filmmakers, our intention is to create a platform on the world stage for Brand Caribbean," said Solomon, who noted the linkages between film and the bread and butter tourism industry are obvious, but have not been exploited. 

The Creative Economy Report 2010, recently launched at the United Nations, shows creative industries have more resilience to the global economic crisis than traditional manufacturing industries. Global exports of creative goods and services - ideas and creativity-centered industries such as arts and crafts, audiovisuals, books, design, films, music, new media, visual and performing arts - have more than doubled from 2002 to 2008, reaching nearly US$600 billion, according to the UN publication.

"In a Caribbean context, films create powerful and easily accessible images," said Solomon. "The Caribbean can be promoted through feature films that tell our stories and documentaries that sensitize wide audiences about our identity, but also through local commercials or music videos which help to boost the creative economy," she advised.

Nigeria's US$2.75 billion film industry is the third largest in the world, following the US and India. Nigeria's 'Nollywood' produces more than 1,000 films annually, creating thousands of jobs and is the country's second most important industry after oil. In recognition of its importance, the Government has invested in the film industry, reforming policies and providing training to promote film production and distribution. And, in a highly unusual move, the World Bank also invests in 'Nollywood'.

Sylma Brown-Bramble, Director of The Americas of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, thanked the Toronto-based Solomon for her company's participation in Caribbean Week this year, noting the integration of the overseas Caribbean communities in the week's activities was heartening.

"We are encouraged by the participation of the Diaspora in Caribbean Week this year and anticipate forging an even closer relationship with the community," said Brown-Bramble.

Solomon, who hails from Trinidad, said more details about the film screenings will be shared in the weeks ahead. She thanked the CTO,  the Consulate General of Barbados in New York, Caribbean International Network (CIN TV) and Distribution Specialist Michelle Materre for their early support of The CaribbeanTales New York Film Showcase. "We look forward to inviting more partners on board as we launch a movement to promote the region in a more creative and sustainable manner."

For further information, visit www.caribbeantales-worldwide.com or www.caribbeanweekny.com.

About CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution 

CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution is the first full-service film distribution company in the English-speaking Caribbean, and aims to become the go-to solution for producers and buyers of Caribbean-themed content. The company holds marketing events through the CaribbeanTales Film Festival Group, and provides co-production services to producers. CTWD was founded by award-winning filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon, and its principals include creative industries expert Dr. Keith Nurse (Chair), economist and businessman Dr. Terrence Farrell, media personality and producer Lisa Wickham, and filmmaker and writer Mary Wells. CTWD is a member of the BIM Ventures family of entrepreneurs.

Documentary Exposes Gritty, Gruelling Underside Of MMA

Source: www.thestar.com – Morgan Campbell

(Apr 24, 2011) In the opening moments of the documentary
Fightville, a small-time mixed martial arts promoter named Gil (The Thrill) Guillory fishes for the words to explain the sport’s exploding popularity.

Finally, he settles on three: “Fighting is truth.”

And the truths revealed in Fightville, an 85-minute film slated to make its Canadian premiere April 28 at the Hot Docs Film Festival, surprised even veteran documentarian Michael Tucker.

Veterans of four docs about the Iraq war, including the critically acclaimed Gunner Palace, Tucker and production partner Petra Epperlein know plenty about combat. And when they landed in Lafayette, La., two years ago to begin shooting Fightville, they expected to make a film about fighters.

Instead, they stumbled upon a group of men Tucker calls “artists,” a community of pugilists as dedicated to their craft as Tucker is to his.

“This is something that’s incredibly positive and with this next generation of kids getting into it, it’s going to become incredibly mainstream,” Tucker says. “It’s people who want to make themselves better through something. (During a fight) it’s not rage. It’s not anger. It’s competition, and those are two different things.”

The film focuses on four pivotal figures in Lafayette’s vibrant MMA scene.

Guillory is the former pro wrestler turned promoter who scours Louisiana and Texas for talent, and who has invested his entire savings in an upcoming show.

Tim (Crazy) Credeur is the grizzled but philosophical UFC veteran who runs Gladiators, the town’s biggest MMA gym.

Albert Stainback is the child of a broken home who trains for MMA because he feels his life would slide off the rails if he didn’t.

And Dustin (The Diamond) Poirier is the total package. At 21 years old he has the talent, the rapidly developing skill and the desire to reach the sport’s highest level — the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Their lives intersect at Gladiators, a sweat-soaked training centre jammed into a narrow strip mall storefront in Lafayette, a hard-knuckle town on the Gulf of Mexico surrounded by oil fields and full of tough men.

In other words, it’s the perfect incubator for MMA fighters.

“It’s blue-collar, and work ethic still matters here,” says Credeur, who returns to the UFC on June 4 in Las Vegas. “Our parents raised us to work hard and dedicate ourselves to whatever we pursue, whether that be shucking oysters or boiling crawfish or mixed martial arts.”

In following the four main characters through 18 months of their lives, Fightville also exposes the gritty underside of a sport that appears glamorous on the UFC’s monthly pay-per-views.

It shows the gruelling pre-dawn conditioning workouts that are an essential part of building a fighter, and the concussive sparring sessions that Credeur uses to separate the guys who want to fight from the guys who simply say they do.

And it follows Stainback as he signs his first pro contract, which Guillory writes out by hand backstage at a weigh-in.

The action depicted is more raw than anything you’ll see in the UFC, but no less authentic.

“Every piece of this film is 100 per cent real and it’s just awesome to have those moments caught on tape,” says Poirier, who made his UFC debut in January. “After film festivals, guys come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t even know what mixed martial arts was, but I’m a fan now.’ If the film can do that, it captured what it needed to.”

Eddie Murphy’s ‘A Thousand Words’ Due in January

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 22, 2011) *A release date has finally been set for Eddie Murphy’s long-delayed family fantasy comedy “A Thousand Words,” which stars the actor as a man who discovers he only has 1,000 words left to speak before he dies.

Murphy shot the film three years ago with director Brian Robbins, whom he previously worked with in “Norbit” and “Meet Dave.”

But when DreamWorks split from Paramount, “Words” was one of the two films the company couldn’t afford to take with them (the other being “The Lovely Bones”), according to Dark Horizons.

On top of that, the film had disastrous test screenings which led to repeated delays, while the sheer cost of the project (and reshoots on it earlier this year) meant that it couldn’t be dumped direct-to-disc, the website continues.

The film, therefore, will be released in theatres – on January 13th 2012.

Dark Horizons adds: “A mid-January slot, though not as dismissible as it used to be, is still considered something of a dumping ground. Should the studio stick to that date, one hopes (but doubts) there’ll be something salvageable in it to make it worth watching.”

Two Top Docs: Hell And Back Again, Magic Trip

Source: www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard and Peter Howell

(Apr 23, 2011)
Hell and Back Again - You’ll spend much of war photographer Danfung Dennis’s intense and shattering doc Hell and Back Again wondering just how he got such intimate Afghanistan battlefield footage of the Marine battalion led by Sgt. Nathan Harris. The rest of the time will be devoted to cringing at the battle scenes on the home front, as the injured Harris returns to his wife Ashley in small-town America. His goal is to heal so he can go back and get away from what has become a stressful hell to him: American life. “I would rather be in Afghanistan where it’s simple,” he mutters, head in hands, as his wife circles a Wal-Mart parking lot looking for a spot. Hobbled by painful bullet wounds, Harris is often angry and frustrated, unable to communicate with his wife and addicted to pain medications. Dennis flips back and forth, showing scenes of Harris’s struggle at home against the confident officer in the field, leading his troops on often-futile missions and trying to convince Afghan villagers who just want soldiers to leave them alone that they have a purpose there in fighting the Taliban. What Harris can’t figure out is who he’s supposed to be when he leaves the fight behind. (May 3, 7:30 p.m., Bell Lightbox 1; May 5, 4 p.m., Isabel Bader)

Magic Trip

Arguably the most storied American land journey since Paul Revere’s ride, the 1964 cross-country road trip by Ken Kesey and his LSD-popping Merry Pranksters seemed forever lost to the realm of myth. Celebrated by Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (and later by T.C. Boyle’s Drop City) as the connective rite of passage between the 1950s Beat generation and the 1960 hippies, the event remained more word-of-mouth happening than documented occurrence. Magic Trip blows away the purple haze, revealing Kesey and the Merry Pranksters to be far more conservative and coddled — but also caring — than anyone would have guessed of this posse of psychedelic school-bus riders. Alison Ellwood and Alex Gibney reveal all in this groovy archival dig, which pieces together a jumble of film and audiotape that Kesey and the Pranksters compiled on their acid-assisted summer trek from La Honda, Calif., to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The material sat fallow for 47 years, much like the rusting rainbow-painted bus “Further” that remained on the late Kesey’s rural property for decades. What emerges is an amusing portrait of idealistic souls, including driver Neal Cassady, the feral presence of Jack Kerouac’s Beat tome On the Road. (Kerouac himself is seen briefly at a party, looking distinctly uncool and unhappy.) Slightly bruised by reality (both mechanical and emotional breakdowns) and not as rebellious as they thought (Kesey grew disenchanted with LSD), these Pranksters learn a lot more about life than they’d bargained for. But then so do we, the fortunate viewers of this still-potent trip. (April 30, 9:45 p.m., Isabel Bader; May 2, 3:30 p.m., Isabel Bader.)

Zach Braff: His Garden State Of Mind

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Apr 21, 2011)
Zach Braff lounges on a sofa deep in the TIFF Lightbox building, munching contentedly on a chocolate chip cookie and contemplating life.

“I guess it would be safe to say that I’ve parlayed my whole career out of a panic attack that hit me after college and never really went away.”

This won’t come as news to the devoted horde of Braff-o-philes who hung on his every word in Scrubs, memorized the screenplay of Garden State by heart and are probably lining up even now for the opening weekend of his latest film, The High Cost of Living.

Ask Braff how he wound up starring in an indie Canadian movie directed by Deborah Chow (who’s making her feature film debut) and he shrugs his shoulders as if it’s all part of typical Braff karma.

“Once Scrubs went off the air after 9 seasons, I made a vow that I would do something 180 degrees different from it. It could be a giant big budget spectacle, or a small, special project.

“Script after script landed on my lap, but this one leaped out at me. I thought it was terrifying to take on as an actor. I didn’t know if I was up to it and that seemed as good a reason as any to do it.”

Braff plays Henry, a guardian angel, sort of, who’s out to help a young woman recovering from the death of her child in a hit-and-run accident.

Although Braff only had 15 days shooting on the film, he bonded closely with co-star Isabelle Blais, whom he calls “in-f-king-credible” and also can’t say enough about Chow. “She did everything with an incredible amount of aplomb.”

He raises an eyebrow, knowing that’s not a very Braff kind of thing to say and then chuckles. “Yeah, that is a kind of $10 word, but she sure deserves it.”

Braff, 36, is just the kind of guy you hoped he’d be: quirky, real, funny and outrageously free-spoken.

“Nothing in my life has ever gone the way I thought it would,” begins Braff. “Some of it’s been better, a lot of it’s been worse, but the crazy thing is that even when stuff went well for me, I still wound up being kind of scared or depressed.

“People ask who my best friend was when I was a kid and I tell them anxiety. Seriously. I was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) when I was 10 and I’ve had experience with all the twitchy disorders over the years.”

Braff grew up in South Orange, New Jersey, the son of therapist mother and a lawyer father who loved acting.

“I’d go to see my Dad in all these shows for the Horace Livingston Community players — Hello, Dolly!; The Prisoner of Second Avenue — and he would be the star. He was a very captivating man and people treated him like a star. I thought I’d enjoy that, too.”

The public school system wasn’t very welcoming to Braff. “The first time I was ever really happy anywhere was when I went off to Stage Door Manor,” the legendary show biz summer camp in the Catskills that’s given everyone from Natalie Portman to Robert Downey, Jr. their starts.

“I had finally found this community where there were other kids like me, who were as neurotic as me, who didn’t think I was crazy. Wow! You know, I think it must be how kids all over America feel now when they watch Glee on TV. ‘Oh look, I’m not the only weird one who likes show tunes!’ ”

Braff studied film at Northwestern University. But when he finished his degree, “I had my first really giant panic attack. I was very, very scared and very, very overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do. I started working as a PA on music videos, but that didn’t make me too happy, so I began auditioning for the theatre again.”

He soon found himself in a high-profile N.Y. Public Theatre production of Macbeth, starring Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Liev Schreiber and Michael C. Hall.

“I was cast as the two kids, Fleance and Young Siward. On the first day of rehearsal, I found myself sitting next to Alec Baldwin, who was Macbeth, of course. He asked me who I played. I told him. He looked me up and down and said, ‘So I kill you twice, then.’ ”

Braff kept getting some interesting roles, but wound up being crushed when he didn’t get cast as the young man in Edward Albee’s The Play about the Baby.

“Okay, I was of two minds. It was a lead role in a new Albee play, but I also had to be naked and I wondered if it was worth getting head on stage in front of my grandma. But still, my ego wanted it so bad and I was so depressed and sad about a lot of things in my life. I think it was the low point of my career.”

Then Braff grins. “Of course, if I had gotten the Albee show, I wouldn’t have even been able to audition for Scrubs.”

Just to satisfy his agent, Braff auditioned for the pilot and found he liked it.

“This show was different, special. You know, I never got a single callback for those traditional four-camera sitcoms. They must have known we weren’t right for each other.”

Scrubs was. As loopy, lovable Dr. John Dorian (“J.D.”), Braff found himself a kind of poster boy for a generation of disaffected, off-centre young people like him.

“Right after I got the show, before it went into production, was the most dark time I ever went through in my life. You’re loved and healthy and got the dream job and you’re still depressed. I don’t know if it’s chemical, I don’t know if it’s genetic, I don’t know what it f--king is, but I know I needed to look at it.

“I later found out there were thousands of people out there my age who felt the same way. They call it ‘the quarter life crisis.’ A weird post-collegiate sadness. Malaise, apathy, doom. And no one was articulating it.”

Braff poured it all into a screenplay called Garden State, which he also directed and starred in. It was critically acclaimed and became a cult hit when released in 2004. Much to everyone’s surprise, he hasn’t written or directed another film since.

“I could tell you it was because I was busy when Scrubs was on the air, but that’s not really it. I want my fans to know it’s not from lack of trying. It’s from my own pickiness. Garden State came right from my heart and people responded to that. So I want anything else to be as honest.

“Yeah, I could have made five lame sequels and nobody would have been happy.”

Braff’s next project is a black comedy for the stage. It’s about a 35-year-old who is going to commit suicide at a Long Island beach resort in the dead of winter, only to find his plans being ruined by an assortment of friends, real estate agents, drug dealers and prostitutes.

It’s called All New People and it starts previews in Manhattan on June 28.

“I think it has my favourite line I’ve written to date in it: ‘Who told you that you were owed happiness?’ It’s something I have to keep reminding myself. I now know that when you stop looking for happiness, you’re more likely to find it.

“And how do I cope with my depression? I’ve tried therapy. Falling in love helped a couple of times. Getting a puppy is always good. But I guess the best thing is to keep growing, learning, realizing who you are.”


MY CIRRUS SR 22: Yes, I have a pilot’s license and I feel free being in the air.

MARK RYLANCE: I loved seeing him on Broadway recently in the play Jerusalem. What a great play and what a great actor.

ICE CREAM: I’m crazy for ice cream. Period. But my favourite flavour is red velvet ice cream. The best.

MY iPAD: I need say no more.

DOGS: I have two right now, a mutt rescue who’s a terrier and a French bulldog.

Top Movie Spot Is For The Birds

Source: www.thestar.com - The Associated Press

(Apr 24, 2011) Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg’s talking birds
have edged out Tyler Perry’s sass-talking grandma at the Easter weekend box office.

Hathaway and Eisenberg’s animated family adventure
Rio took in $26.8 million to remain the No. 1 movie for the second-straight weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family debuted a close second with $25.8 million, another solid opening for writer-director Perry, who also stars as boisterous, opinionated grandma Madea.

Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson’s circus romance Water for Elephants premiered in third-place with $17.5 million.

“It’s nice to have two movies in the top-three,” said Bert Livingston, distribution executive for 20th Century Fox, which released both Rio and Water for Elephants.

The weekend’s other new wide release, Disney’s nature documentary African Cats, opened at No. 6 with $6.4 million.

Hollywood scored its second-straight weekend of rising revenues, good news for studios that have been in a box-office slide since last fall.

Receipts totalled $138 million, up 39 per cent from the same weekend last year, when “How to Train Your Dragon” was No. 1 with $15.4 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

The upward trend likely will continue next weekend with Fast Five, the latest movie in The Fast and the Furious action franchise, expected to have a huge opening, said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

“I think we’re going to have three up weekends in a row, and for us, that’s a roll. We’ve been down for so long,” Dergarabedian said. “It really points out how cyclical this business is.”

A love-bird story centred on rare parrots, Rio raised its domestic total to $81.3 million. The movie has taken in $204.7 million more overseas, for a worldwide haul of $286 million.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. Rio, $26.8 million.

2. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family, $25.8 million.

3. Water for Elephants, $17.5 million.

4. Hop, $12.5 million.

5. Scream 4, $7.2 million.

6. African Cats, $6.4 million.

7. Soul Surfer, $5.6 million.

8. Insidious, $5.4 million.

9. Hanna, $5.3 million.

10. Source Code, $5.1 million.

Jack Pashkovsky - Shooter Of Stars Gets A Fitting Tribute

Source: www.thestar.com

(Apr 24, 2011) His name was
Jack Pashkovsky, and while living in a world of celebrities, he remained anonymous. But now, 10 years after his death, he is being dubbed “The Man Who Shot Hollywood.”

In the view of the man who rescued them from obscurity, Pashkovsky's pictures add up to the greatest collection of celebrity portraits the world has never seen — until now.

Thanks to Toronto documentary filmmaker and advertising executive Barry Avrich, scores of his strikingly relaxed and un-glam portraits of Hollywood's most famous personalities of the late 1930s and early 1940s are about to be publicly displayed for the first time.

The photo exhibition, next week at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, is part of the second annual Turner Classic Movies Festival, which runs for four days starting Thursday.

Pashkovsky was unknown in his lifetime, but his gift at capturing the essence of larger-than-life personalities puts him on a level with Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz,” says Avrich, who will be flying down from Toronto to lead a discussion about the exhibit.

Yet Pashkovsky's true passion was for the art of photography, regardless of the subject matter. The only reason he shot movie stars was that, working in low-level jobs for Hollywood studios, he had access to celebrities.

“If Jack had been living in the Amazon, he would have happily photographed wildlife,” Avrich explains.

Avrich met Pashkovsky in the fall of 2000, when he was directing a documentary film called The Glitter Palace. The film was about the Motion Picture Country House — a renowned retirement home for showbiz veterans in Woodland Hills, on the fringes of Los Angeles.

Earlier the same day, Avrich had interviewed a famous star of westerns, an aged vaudeville performer and the casting agent who discovered James Dean. But Pashkovsky would be the most memorable.

A Russian Jew from St. Petersburg whose family fled Russia after the 1917 revolution, Pashkovsky fell in love with movies while living in New York, and eventually moved to L.A., hoping to become a cinematographer.

Instead, he wound up sweeping studio floors at Twentieth Century-Fox — and was unable to get into the cinematography union. He used his savings to buy a 16-mm movie camera and made some small personal films. The high point of his screen career was a short about train travel, Rhythm of the Rails (1948), which won a prize at Cannes.

After years of doing various jobs on studio back lots, Pashkovsky worked as a photographer for the U.S. Air Force and later worked as an independent portrait photographer. Meanwhile, whenever he had time, he enjoyed photographing Hollywood titans.

He used his connections with the studios and with restaurants such as Chasen's and the Brown Derby to gain access. And because many of the stars knew him personally, they let their guard down — resulting in such casual, unpretentious shots as the ones of Clark Gable at the Hollywood Tennis Club and Marlene Dietrich at the Brown Derby.

To the astonishment of Avrich, it turned out that Pashkovsky had 400 of his never-seen photographs stashed under his bed at the retirement home.

“I was speechless,” Avrich recalls. “It was like uncovering a long-lost artistic treasure.”

Experts he consulted agreed with his assessment. “There was something quite exceptional about the way Pashkovsky caught stars at their ease. His approach made the icons appear relaxed, made these beautiful people like real people, and that's what makes his work illuminating.”

Avrich proposed publishing a book of these images. Pashkovsky laughed and said no one would be interested in these dusty old pictures. But he turned over the negatives to Avrich, along with rights to use them as he saw fit.

Pashkovsky died in his sleep at age 89 in April 2001.

A book was never published, but Avrich turned over all the material to the Toronto International Film Festival for archiving. Eventually, we will likely see Pashkovsky's work at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Those who prefer not to wait can catch them at the TCM Festival in Hollywood next weekend.

Youtube To Launch Movies-On-Demand As Early As This Week

Source:  www.thestar.com - Greg Quill

(Apr 26, 2011) Google is preparing to take on Apple iTunes and Netflix, launching a mainstream movies-on-demand video service on YouTube as early as this week, Hollywood insiders are saying.

The Internet phenomenon, known best for its millions of homemade video contributions, has completed distribution deals with four major studios, including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros. and Universal, according to California-based communications industry news website The Wrap.

Several independent studios and distributors, including Lionsgate and Kino Lorber, with a vast library of classics, have also signed on, industry executives say.

But Paramount, Fox and Walt Disney are waiting to see how the service operates before committing.

Google executives have refused to comment.

YouTube has been running both ad-supported and video rental services for the past year, featuring independent and lesser known titles. The expansion is its first move into the mainstream market dominated by Netflix and Apple iTunes.

Hollywood, formerly reluctant to embrace YouTube’s democratic free-for-all modus operandi, now seems generally supportive of the move, which is seen as a possible new revenue stream in the video rental market under attack by Internet pirates.

“We think it will start with video-on-demand, but will broaden to include sell-through over time,” a senior executive at one Hollywood studio that has signed the deal with YouTube told The Wrap.

The new service will likely charge between $1.99 (U.S.) and $2.99 per title, in line with iTunes and Netflix. It will not be a subscription service, a model Hollywood doesn’t like.

Some critics are not so sanguine about YouTube Movie’s chances.

“It won’t change the content stratification challenge YouTube is facing now,” American sports, technology and entertainment mover and shaker Mark Cuban writes in his blog. “The reality is that both cable/telecommunications/satellite distributors on your TV and Netflix are moving faster in terms of the introduction of technology, and the introduction of new and original high value content, than YouTube.”

A New Man: From Chastity To Chaz Bono

Source:  www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard

(Apr 26, 2011) Chastity — now Chaz — Bono changes gender in the documentary Becoming Chaz, having its international premiere at the Hot Docs film fest Friday. But his wasn’t the only life-altering switch. His girlfriend, Jenny, changed her sexual orientation in the process.

Chastity, the cherubic blond tot we see early in Becoming Chaz, nestled in her parents’ arms in 30-year-old clips from The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, grew into a conflicted and deeply unhappy girl. Bono matter-of-factly tells filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato she not only knew she was a lesbian, she also detested her female body. Her teen and young adult years were miserable and, eventually, that unhappiness grew into the realization she was genetically male and only gender reassignment via hormone therapy and removal of her hated breasts would ease her anguish.

It’s a lot to take in and 42-year-old Bono, who comes across as painfully shy, is candid as he talks about struggles with depression and drug abuse. That tumult is balanced onscreen by partner Jennifer Elia and the home the two have made, filled with dogs, friends and memorabilia. A photo of wee Chastity with her parents on the set of their show, Cher dressed in typical ’70s excess, sits behind him in many shots.

“He was very, very open from the outset, surprisingly so because Chaz is a very shy and private person,” said co-director Bailey from Hollywood earlier this week. “Nothing was limited.”

Bailey will be in Toronto for the film’s premiere. Bono, busy with the pending publication of his third book, Transition, won’t be here. He is also in talks to turn his life with Elia into a reality TV show, rumoured to be slated for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, which airs Becoming Chaz May 10.

“We never had a discussion about what was off limits and what this film was going to be,” added Barbato. “We showed up at Chaz’s with a camera and a bunch of batteries and started shooting. We discovered Jen, their relationship, the animals, all of it was a discovery for us from day one of filming until we were finished.”

The camera follows Bono through the lead-up to the surgery to remove her breasts, a candid portrait of his nervousness about the operation and elation that they will finally be gone. Elia is at his side when he wakes after the surgery, his relief and joy palpable.

As Bono changes physically — his voice deepens, facial and body hair starts to grow — the testosterone he’s injecting daily with Elia’s help leads to emotional changes and he takes on more male personality traits. His temper is quicker, he’s impatient and his libido takes off like a 17-year-old guy’s.

Elia talks candidly in the doc about her struggles with alcohol abuse in the wake of the changes and that she misses the “softer” woman she fell in love with.

“The film ended up being not just about transition but also about the transition of a lesbian relationship onto a heterosexual one, a mother-daughter relationship into a mother-son relationship,” said Fenton. “All that stuff we discovered on the ground and in the edit bay.”

Cher is interviewed more than once and she’s clearly not completely supportive of Bono’s transition — nor does she fully understand why it has happened, struggling to remember to call Chaz “he” during an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. But her assurances to Letterman that her child’s happiness is paramount and she accepts his change helped ease tensions and a temporary estrangement between Cher and her son.

Far more at ease with the process is his father’s widow, California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, and Chaz’s stepsiblings.

Bailey and Barbato, who have made docs and TV shows about Monica Lewinsky, party kid Michael Alig, Tori Spelling and Tammy Faye Bakker (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), say they enjoy making films about “people you think you know.” Chaz Bono fits in well.

“In spite of how extreme changing your gender is, we have so much more in common with Chaz than we think we do,” says Barbato. “He’s just an ordinary Joe. Yes, he’s gone from a woman to man but aside from that he’s an ordinary guy. He’s just like you and me.”

Becoming Chaz screens April 29, 9:15 p.m., Bloor; May 1, 4 p.m. and May 8, 6:45 p.m., Lightbox. Go to www.hotdocs.ca for tickets, info.


Derek Luke Co-Stars with Jada; Halle and Geo. Lopez in Comedy

Source: www.eurweb.com

(April 23, 2011) *Sexy-chocolate Derek Luke has signed to a new gig. He’s now co-star of Jada Pinkett Smith’s medical drama, “HawthoRNe” for season three. He’ll play Dr. Miles Bourdet, a desirable surgeon who arrives at the hospital to become the protégé of Dr. Tom Wakefield. Bourdet is in the middle of a divorce. In the meantime, Christina Hawthorne’s daughter grows fond of the older man. Season three begins June 14 on TNT. *Also, look out for an interesting combo: George Lopez and Halle Berry in “Skank Robbers.” A highly anticipated flick, Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx’s skit featuring Wanda and Sheneneh has blown up into something more ridiculous. No word yet on what role Halle and Lopez will be playing, but you gotta know it will be a crack up.

Liane Balaban Turns Director

Source:  www.thestar.com - Linda Barnard

(Apr 26, 2011) Sparklingly talented Canadian actress Liane Balaban (New Waterford Girl) has stepped behind the camera, directing her first short. Johanna, starring a cast of rambunctious puppets. It is premiers May 16, at the National Screen Institute Film Festival. It is part of a project Balaban has created called Crankytown, an interactive site all about - ahem - periods. She did the project with fellow actresses, Jenna Wright and Vanessa Matsui, along with the NFB. Balaban tells me, "eventually Crankytown will be an online village for women of all ages, where they can get information and share stories about menstruation and menopause." The first part of Crankytown - Camp Cranky is a site for tweens having their first periods and includes videos like Johanna and poetry with original works by Feist, Emma Thompson and other female artists.

::TV NEWS::\

Talk Softly And Carry A Big Stick On The Celebrity Apprentice

Source: www.thestar.com - Debra Yeo

(April 25, 2011) The oddballs aren't doing so well on The Celebrity Apprentice

Last week, the men's team managed to get rid of out-there actor Gary Busey.

This week, it was singer La Toya Jackson, with her kooky demeanour and childish voice, who got thrown under the bus.

Despite having ostensibly won the admiration of Donald Trump, La Toya proved no match for the wily Star Jones, particularly when Star was backed by brash Real Housewife NeNe Leakes

When the episode started, mind you, it was hard to believe the women were in any imminent danger. If any challenge seemed custom-made for Star, with her taste for the finer things in life and her self-described pretentiousness, Sunday's task was it.

Each team had to come up with a magazine advertising insert for the Trump collection of hotels (collection sounds cute, doesn't it? Like you could line them up on a curio shelf).

But it wasn't just the hotels that were being promoted. As the teams met with Trump to get their marching orders for the challenge, The Donald threw in a reference to his presidential ambitions. "Let me ask you a question. Meat Loaf, should I run for president?" he asked.

Not only did Meat Loaf think Trump should run for president, he was ready to work on the campaign.

Donald then wanted to know who among the celebs wouldn't vote for him. Showing a refined sense of self-preservation, none of them raised their hands, which was a good call. "Anybody that raised their hand would immediately be fired because they're stupid," Donald said.

Let's get back to the challenge.

It looked like the women had this one in the bag. Not only did their team have two more members than the men, but lawyer-turned-TV personality Star was just the sort of person you'd expect a Trump hotel to cater to.

Indeed, she had stayed at several Trump hotels, she acknowledged.

"I've had the opportunity to walk the streets of Paris and London and Morocco and St. Tropez, and sail the Mediterranean. I know as much about luxury as I know about living," Star said.

And luxury was the key to the campaign for project manager Star, who came up with the phrase "individual elegance, collective luxury" as the theme.

So what does luxury look like? Apparently, it looks like Playboy playmate Hope Dworaczyk drinking champagne in a bathtub (except with her towel still around her beneath the bubbles and the champagne bottle unopened) and all of the ladies (Hope, Star, Marlee Matlin, NeNe and La Toya) having an elegant lunch wearing glitzy baubles from Ivanka Trump's jewellery line.

For the men, luxury wasn't quite as comfortable a concept.

"When I hear Trump hotel, I go, first of all, I can't afford it," said country singer John Rich, the men's project manager. "Second of all, that's for people that land in private helicopters, billionaires and stuff, Donald Trump."

Rap producer Lil Jon said a hotel room to him was just a place to sleep. "Women are probably more concerned about the luxury aspects of the hotel than we are."

Singer Meat Loaf tried to get profound, suggesting the spread include a photo of a man or woman looking into a mirror and seeing the future in their own reflection. Yeah, I didn't know what he was talking about and neither did John.

"Meat Loaf is like a riddle wrapped in an enigma. He'll say something that you just look at him and say, 'What the hell does that mean?' ... Thank God Gary Busey's not here right now because I would jump off the top of this building," said John, referring to the swanky Trump Soho hotel that they were in.

The men might have been befuddled, but at least they were working harmoniously. The same could not be said of the women.

Star tried to foist La Toya onto NeNe by sending them out to run errands, but NeNe was having none of it. She was still smarting over La Toya telling Trump at the previous boardroom session that she didn't think NeNe liked her. NeNe was worried about The Donald seeing her in a negative light.

Star decided to have everybody talk it out. La Toya explained that her feelings had been hurt when NeNe rolled her eyes at La Toya behind her back. Then NeNe changed her tune and decided that she better understood La Toya. La Toya said she really loved NeNe and gave her a hug. Pretty soon the two of them were giggling in the back of a van as it crawled through Manhattan traffic about how La Toya would come and stay at NeNe's house if she visited Atlanta.

Now note, here we are weeks into The Celebrity Apprentice and Star still hadn't clued in to the fact that you can't drive anywhere in the middle of the day in Manhattan. Given the traffic, NeNe and La Toya were late getting back from their errands and Star was panicking because a couple of the photos needed to be shot before the daylight disappeared. So she barked at NeNe that she had to start the bathroom shoot with Hope in five minutes and NeNe barked right back. 

"We just walked in the damn door ... so everybody shut the f--k up, it's pissing me off."

Photos were also creating problems for the men's team. Meat Loaf was in charge of a shoot with a hotel butler. Boasting that he'd done 52 films, been on Broadway and even done Shakespeare, Meat coached the butler to adopt a facial expression that showed he was "the best of the best of the best." Unfortunately, John thought that expression made the butler look like an undertaker (I didn't think the guy looked like a butler at all, his hair was too wild), not the smiling, welcoming staff member he was looking for. With no time to reshoot the photo, it was edited to show nothing but the man's arm with a towel over it, exactly the type of image that Ivanka and her fellow hotel executives had warned against using.

The men knew they were on shaky ground as far as the content of the spread, but they figured they'd ace their presentation to Trump Hotels COO Jim Petrus and James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine.

Their instincts proved sound. They sweetened the pitch with personal stories about stays at Trump hotels (John and his wife finding a crib and a teddy bear in their room when they checked in with their son, Meat Loaf getting recognized by the doorman about a year and a half after he'd last checked in), which seemed to go over well with Petrus, at least.

The women, by contrast, gave a highly scripted presentation where everyone took turns saying words associated with the hotel line, things like power, influence, wealth, consistency, compassion and sophistication.

Or as La Toya put it, "Corny."

Jim and James hated both the ad campaigns.

James went so far as say the women's photos looked like "those advertisements that get placed under your windshield wiper for kind of sleazy clubs." (Note that Donald Trump Jr. had kindly offered to personally supervise Hope's bathtub shoot, to which she responded, "Bring your wife.") 

The men's sins included too much text on the ads, misspelling a couple of words and not including a phone number or website address, the biggest no no in The Donald's eyes, but their heartfelt presentation made them the lesser of two evils.

So the men won the $20,000 charitable donation and got to keep their three-man team intact.

The boardroom meeting was a relatively staid affair except for a bizarre conversation that began with NeNe telling Trump that her teammates Marlee and Hope wanted to crawl up Star Jones' ass. Donald's response? "By the way, much nicer now that she lost all the weight."

Star showed some consummate ass-kissing skills of her own by agreeing with Trump: "It would not have been very comfortable for you back then." Donald followed that up with, "The other way, it wouldn’t have been acceptable."

No, but apparently, making gratuitous references to a woman's weight loss vis a vis whether her butt could accommodate other people crawling up it is.

Regardless of the size of her derriere, it seemed a given that Star was destined for the elevator ride of shame. The key boners in the women's project, like the "myopic" (Trump's word) focus on the luxurious 59th St. hotel and the odd "word of the day" pitch, were Star's ideas. 

But the women were gunning for La Toya, with both Marlee and La Toya's new BFF, NeNe, calling out La Toya as the team's weakest link.

Trump claimed to have developed great respect for La Toya. He said that executives who judged two of the previous challenges had identified La Toya as the team's strongest player (really?!). 

But Star and NeNe presented a united front and La Toya was toast.

Trump framed his decision to oust La Toya instead of the more deserving Star as a bid to help the women beat the men's team, which he reasoned they'd never do if they couldn't get along.

So La Toya was on her way, after giving NeNe a hug and Star the cold shoulder.

"I think Star Jones is a very manipulative person," La Toya said in her limo confessional. "I think she's very conniving and she's very evil because it doesn't matter if she has to lie, cheat or steal, she did it."

Losing Gary seemed to give the men a much needed boost. Will losing La Toya do the same for the women? Or will animosity between NeNe and Star throw them further off track?

Find out next Sunday at 9 p.m. on Global TV and look for my recap here.

Michael Jai White, Tasha Smith to Reprise ‘Married’ Roles for TV Series

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Apr 26, 2011) *Tyler Perry is bringing another television series to TBS.

As previously reported, the multi-hyphenate has signed his latest deal with the Turner-owned network for “
For Better or Worse,” a dramedy series based on his successful “Why Did I Get Married?” movie franchise.

Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight) and Tasha Smith (Couples Retreat) are confirmed to reprise their roles as television anchor Marcus and salon owner Angela, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Like Perry’s past TBS projects, “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns,” the young adult-focused series will roll out with 10 episodes. If the latter reaches a certain ratings threshold during its initial run, the network will order 90 more.

“Tyler Perry’s series have been tremendously successful for TBS, helping establish the network as a prime destination for African-American viewers,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming, for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies. “Given such a remarkable track record, we’re excited for the opportunity to expand our relationship with Tyler Perry and Debmar-Mercury with the new series For Better or Worse.”

The series, which like Perry’s other two will be syndicated by Debmar Mercury, will begin production this summer, just as Perry wraps production on “Payne” after a staggering 222 episodes.

“Even though it will be sad to say goodbye to ‘House of Payne,’ I’m really looking forward to exploring new territory with ‘For Better or Worse,’” said Perry. “Working on ‘House of Payne’ taught me a lot about what it takes to make a successful television series and I’m looking forward to applying that experience to ‘For Better or Worse.’”

For the first quarter of 2011, “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns” ranked among television’s top five primetime sitcoms with African-American adults 18-34 and 18-49.

The Voice’s Blind Ambition

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

(Apr 23, 2011) An upstart new U.S. talent show wants you to listen up.

American Idol still rules the roost when it comes to reality singing competitions, but NBC’s
The Voice of America (premiering Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC and CTV) is aiming to change that.

Where The Voice differs from Idol is in the use of blind auditions. When contestants try out, the show’s four coaches have their backs to them.

“How a singer looks, what they wear or even their age can’t influence them on this show. Only the voice matters,” host Carson Daly says in a promotional video.

The celebrity judges — all singing stars in their own right, including Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley, Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and country star Blake Shelton — don’t set eyes on the contestants unless they like what they hear.

But if they do, they spin around in their high-backed, red leather chairs to recruit that person for their team. When more than one celebrity wants to work with a contestant, the competitor gets to choose among them.

Each judge has a team of eight singers that they coach, with the help of songwriters, producers and other personnel. Through duet “battles,” they pare their teams down to four members for the show’s live episodes, when viewers get to vote.

In the end, one contestant from each team vies for a recording contract with Universal Republic, $100,000 and the title of “The Voice.”

Aguilera told the media in a conference call earlier this month that the series takes music back to the days when selling artists was about what they sounded like.

“What’s great about this show is the fact that we take it back to real music and we take it back to a time before there was any such thing as, say, an MTV or any way to, you know, show an artist through video or through Internet or through packaging,” she said.

“You’re judging them based on purely being moved by something in their vocal ability. And it’s not necessarily range or how many notes they can hit or how many, you know, technical ad-libs they’re executing.

“It’s basically boiled down to that’s something that truly moves you and that you truly connect with. And, you know, that’s what I think is so unique and so special about the show.”

The question is whether TV watchers will add yet another talent competition to their regular viewing.

Idol is the undisputed ratings champ, still pulling in an average 25 million viewers for Fox in its 10th season.

The X Factor is expected to be another heavy hitter for Fox when it debuts in the fall, owing to its connection with former Idol judge Simon Cowell.

Then there’s The Sing Off (another NBC offering that features a cappella groups) and America’s Got Talent (NBC’s summertime hit isn’t just a singing contest, but singing figures prominently in it). North of the border, Canada Sings will debut on Global sometime this summer. Its format has workplace glee clubs competing for charity.

Still, a 12-minute preview clip of The Voice released by NBC ( http://bit.ly/hWiHdh), which features the four judges singing Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” has drawn positive feedback from TV critics.

And the new series has a top-notch reality show pedigree.

Its producers include Mark Burnett, best known for Survivor and The Apprentice; John de Mol, the Dutch media tycoon behind Big Brother and Fear Factor; and Warner Horizon, whose Bachelor franchise is still a going concern.

The series is modelled on The Voice of Holland, said to be the Netherlands’ most popular talent show, bigger than Dutch versions of Idol and The X Factor.

Green told TV critics earlier this year that he threw his lot in with The Voice rather than Cowell’s X Factor because it felt like a “fresh idea.”

(A representative for Cowell told EW.com that Green met with producers of that show but was not offered a job as a judge.)

“As an enterprise, I didn’t see what made (The X Factor) distinctive enough,” Green said. “It kind of seemed like shows like Idol had run their course.”

With files from Star wire services

Matt Smith - A Doctor Who For Modern Times

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(April 27, 2011) The Doctor is back. The iconic sci-fi series Doctor Who has finally returned for another season with the lanky Matt Smith again assuming the character's cloak. A British TV staple since 1963, the new Doctor Who has been revamped and recharged for today's viewing audience.

Smith, 28, readily admits he never watched the program while growing up in Northampton. Smith was a teen soccer prodigy before a serious back injury derailed his plans to turn professional. From that point he concentrated on acting and earned roles on the BBC series Moses Jones and Party Animals. Smith also put in time treading the boards of the British stage and drew notice for his work opposite Christian Slater in a West End production of Swimming with Sharks.

And then, the role of a lifetime: Out of the blue, Smith won the coveted lead role in Doctor Who last year. Following portrayals by Tom Baker, Roger Pertwee, David Tennant and others, he became the 11th - also the youngest - actor to play the character. Although British TV critics and fans initially wailed dismay, Smith quickly earned respect and critical kudos for his intriguing take on the time-travelling alien. Here was a Doctor Who for modern times. He recently spoke to The Globe from New York.

The original Doctor Who was a British phenomenon, now he's all over the world. Does that factor into your portrayal?

The show really airs everywhere. It's popular in so many countries now and it has a universal feel in so many ways. I'm always trying to be inventive with the character and push him forward and keep it interesting. The fact the show is still growing makes it even more exciting.

Have you witnessed examples of the show's appeal outside of Britain?

Yeah! We had a screening in New York the other night and the response was tremendous. It's so inspiring and heartening to see the dedication of the fans there. I hope the fans in Canada really get into this season as well.

How does one's life change after playing a cherished British TV icon?

Well, you're obviously recognized more in public. I wore more hoods last year than I ever used to. That's part and parcel of doing a job like Doctor Who that is in the public eye. It comes with the territory, really. When people come up to you in public, you just deal with it as gracefully as possible and give them time.

Do you make a point of not reading the advance buzz and speculation about the show in the press and on blogs?

I don't read it anyway because I've just got to focus on the work I have to do on a day-to-day level. But I realize it's a good thing the show gets so much coverage in the press and in the blogs in the U.K. and around the globe. It's wonderful to be part of a show that has that much enthusiasm.

Did you look back at previous portrayals of Doctor Who to fully realize this character?

No, I try not to do that, to be honest. I think it's a bit like playing Hamlet. Whichever actor is playing him, it has to be their version. The choices you make have to be based on your own creative instincts. Of course it's wonderful to be in this lineage of fantastic actors who've played the part, but I've tried to make it as individual as I can.

Would you agree there's a subtle sadness to your version of the Doctor?

I always thought you have to take in consideration that he's 900 years old and has seen so much tragedy and heartache and has lost so many people, which is also why he's affable and silly sometimes, because if he wasn't, he'd be really depressed. That's what interests me about the character - the weight of time and the history of his life.

What kept you busy between Doctor Who seasons?

I was in the BBC movie Christopher and His Kind. I'm not sure if you'll get the film up in Canada. The movie is about the English writer Christopher Isherwood and his time in Berlin. It was very interesting to play someone different from the Doctor, but of course it was nice to come back to the role.

Is it your plan to return to the British stage at some point?

I would love to do a play. It's one thing I do miss because I truly love the theatre, but it's quite pleasing that I get to be in a TV show that is quite theatrical in many ways.

I've read you want to write an episode of Doctor Who. True?

Maybe one day. I'd quite like to direct an episode as well, but I guess I had better concentrate on acting in them for the moment.

What do you want to do after hanging up the Doctor's cloak?

I'm really intrigued by having a film career, which I'd like to explore at some point. But I take each day as it comes and I have so much work on my plate with Doctor Who that it takes up the majority of my time and focus. It's a job I love doing, and one I don't wish to give up any time soon.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Doctor Who airs Saturdays on Space at 8 p.m.

Couric Gives Up Top News Anchor Job

Source:  www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(April 26, 2011) Katie Couric confirms she is indeed leaving the ratings-basement CBS Evening News, less than five years after she became the first woman to lead a network TV evening newscast by herself.

Couric, 54, told People magazine for a story published on its website Tuesday that she hasn’t decided what she’s doing next, but that she is “looking at a format that will allow me to engage in more multi-dimensional storytelling.”

the Associated Press reported three weeks ago that Couric’s tenure as CBS anchor would end just short of five years in the job. Her contract expires June 4. CBS has not set an exit date but is expected to appoint Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes as her successor as early as next week.

“There’s a lot to be proud of during Katie Couric’s time at evening news,” said CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair. “CBS News, like Katie herself, is looking forward to the next chapter.”

Couric left NBC’s Today in 2006 for CBS and worked to incorporate her strengths as an interviewer into a standard evening news format.

After a few successful first weeks, the CBS Evening News settled into third place in the ratings, well behind the leader, NBC’s Nightly News and the second-place newscast, ABC’s World News.


Jennifer Lopez To Launch New Show With American Idol Creator

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Nekesa Mumbi Moody

(April 27, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Jennifer Lopez is teaming up with American Idol creator Simon Fuller for a new TV show — and she’s bringing husband Marc Anthony into the fold. The trio announced Wednesday that they are creating Q’Viva! The Chosen. The show would feature the superstar couple as they travel 21 countries to find the best performers in Latin music, dance and other arts with the goal of creating a live extravaganza. Lopez says the show will be groundbreaking. Q’Viva! is sponsored by BlackBerry. A statement said more than one network will be involved, but they have yet to be announced. It’s unclear when the show will air. Lopez became a judge on American Idol this year.

Celebrity Chef Ken Kostick Dies At 58

Source: www.globeandmail.com – Geoffrey York

(Apr 23, 2011)
Toronto — Canadian celebrity chef Ken Kostick, who hosted the long-running television show What's for Dinner with Ken and Mary Jo, has died. He was 58. Kostick's partner made the announcement on his Facebook page Saturday. He said Kostick died Friday of acute pancreatitis. Kostick had reunited with Mary Jo Eustace to host He Said, She Said with Ken and Mary Jo on the W Network. He was also the author of several bestselling cookbooks. Kostick was born in Winnipeg in 1953.


Comedian Tommy Tiernan Is Serious About Not Taking Anything Too Seriously

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(April 25, 2011) The star Irish stand-up Tommy Tiernan takes to Canada for a national tour, beginning tonight in St. John's. Speaking from the Emerald Isle, the thoughtful comedian is serious about not taking anything too seriously.

Why do non-Irish people wish they were Irish? What's the fascination?

Knowing too much is a disaster. It has to be more instinctual than intellectual. So, I think if we ever knew what it was about ourselves that was attractive, I think we'd absolutely screw it up.

Case in point, St. Patrick's Day, right?

I think it's a disaster. When you look at the world on St. Patrick's Day, it kind of looks to me like what Disneyland would end up being if drunks were in charge of it. I don't think the things that are celebrated are necessarily the things I would hold important.

What are the Irish things that should be celebrated?

I don't think we should be celebrating anything. I think we should be ignored.

Okay, then what are the Irish qualities you hold important?

We march, in a sense, with the defeated. We were colonized for so long that we developed a facility for, and took refuge in, a kind of other-worldliness. We learned to have fun in ways that wouldn't get us into trouble. That's why we developed our great facility for language and imaginative talk and daydreaming and fantasy. I think a good conversation is as important to an Irish person as anything else. To be able to make each other laugh, I think we value that more than money.

You've said that it's a comedian's role to not take things seriously. You do perform an important function though. In your mind, what does a comedian achieve?

I hope that we're all getting a breathing hole in the ice. But not only should the comedian not take anything else seriously, one of the places we could fall down is taking ourselves seriously as a comic. It's a mistake some comics make. I think it's limiting.

How so?

You need to walk on the stage defeated, like a clown does. They say that whimsy is the last refuge of the impotent.

I've never heard that. Who says that?

Well, they don't say that. Sorry, I came up with that myself. [Laughs] I think there has to be an element of that on the stage, though. That when you walk on, you're at the end of your tether. It certainly limits me, any time I think I know what I'm talking about, or any time I think I have a big message. I have lots of little messages.

But your publicist tells me you're the Bono of Irish comedy. Bono's a big-message guy, isn't he?

I'm more Bobo than Bono. The Bobo of the Irish comedians. Yeah, Bobo the Clown, that's me.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Tommy Tiernan plays St. John's on Monday and Tuesday; Moncton, Wednesday; Saint John, Thursday; Halifax, Friday; Mabou, April 30; Charlottetown, May 1; Montreal, May 3; London, Ont., May 5; Toronto, May 6; Ottawa, May 7 and 8; Winnipeg, May 10; Brandon, Man., May 11; Saskatoon, May 12; Edmonton, May 13; Calgary, May 14; Vancouver, May 15.

Winnie Mandela: The Opera – On Home Turf And Ready For Her Close-Up

Source: www.globeandmail.com – Geoffrey York

(Apr 22, 2011) Four years after their Toronto disaster, the producers
of The Passion of Winnie still wince ruefully as they recall every scathing word in The Globe and Mail review. Their experimental opera on the life of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the reviewer said, was “tattered, confused and theatrically starved” and “has a date with the drawing board.”

That stinging critique was the start of a long journey that has culminated in the birth of South Africa’s first fully indigenous opera. The landmark production – now called
Winnie: The Opera – features a huge African cast and orchestra, who explore its fearlessly political themes in African language and music. It opens next Thursday in Pretoria.

The original version was produced in Toronto in 2007 as a low-budget “digital opera,” with Canadian students trying to sing in the Xhosa language. It was an embarrassing flop. But the creators followed that reviewer’s advice. They went back to the drawing board, rewrote the entire work, and rediscovered their South African roots.

The new version is a wholly South African production. The leading cast members – along with the composer, librettists and producers – are South African, while the libretto is in Xhosa and English; the music is a blend of African and classical influences, performed by a 30-member choir and the 65-member KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. (The Xhosa language is the mother tongue of the Eastern Cape, where Nelson Mandela and his second wife, Winnie, were born.)

Its initial one-week run will be at the State Theatre in Pretoria – normally a bastion of white Afrikaner society, but likely to see a more racially diverse audience for this production, with ticket prices kept moderate.

The budget, a meagre $30,000 for the Toronto production, has expanded to about $1.2-million, with funding from the South African government and soap-opera producer Mfundi Vundla (who co-wrote the libretto with filmmaker Warren Wilensky). The money allowed the producers to devote two years to the development of their opera. “We’ve had time to let our ideas come to maturity, a luxury we didn’t have in Canada,” says the composer and producer, 36-year-old Bongani Ndodana-Breen, who returned to South Africa in 2007 after working in Canada for a decade.

“I think it’s bolder this time. We’re taking risks because we’ve got an amazing symphony orchestra and professional singers. It’s groundbreaking in its way. People haven’t heard how a black South African treats a symphony orchestra in terms of orchestration. There’s certain territory here that I’ve gotten into, trying to evoke sounds and timbres that you don’t usually find in a Western classical score – sounds from indigenous South African music, cadences from South African folk music.”

In a rehearsal room at the cavernous State Theatre, he jumps over to a piano and plays a chord that evokes the music of South African jazz composer and pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. Jazz influences, too, will help shape the opera, says Ndodana-Breen. “It is opera, but it is African opera, it is contemporary African opera. Opera is essentially storytelling, through song and acting, and that has existed in Xhosa culture and all African cultures.”

South Africans, he says, have a “great hunger” to hear their own history, told by their own storytellers, rather than by foreigners. And the South African cast members, many of them trained in European opera, just “light up” at the chance to sing in Xhosa, he says.

Ndodana-Breen, himself a Xhosa from the Eastern Cape, is one of South Africa’s most acclaimed young composers. He has been working on the
Winnie project since 2003, when the idea first emerged in his conversations with Wilensky in Canada.

Four years ago, when Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was invited to the original opera, the Canadian government famously barred her from the country because of her criminal convictions. This time, she won’t need a visa. She is expected to be in the audience at the premiere, having already met the producers to give them her blessing. They say she made no attempt to censor or interfere with their portrayal of her life.

As she approaches her 75th birthday this year, Madikizela-Mandela still makes headlines in South Africa for her militancy. During apartheid, she was notorious for her praise of “necklacing” – placing a gasoline-soaked burning tire around the neck of an enemy. This week, she sparked controversy by supporting a bellicose youth leader in a court case over his singing of the liberation song
Kill the Boer – alleged to have inspired the murder of Afrikaner farmers.

To many South Africans, she is still the revered “mother of the nation,” and one of the most popular members of the ruling African National Congress. To others, she is an arrogant adulterer and convicted kidnapper. One recent furor was sparked when she allegedly used her bodyguards to bully the traffic police after her limousine was stopped for speeding.

The endless fascination with her life has inspired books and television programs. This year she will be immortalized in a Hollywood biopic starring Jennifer Hudson. But there is nothing in the opera to sanitize her reputation. It grapples directly with the most famous charge against her: the 1988 kidnapping of 14-year-old Stompie Seipei by her bodyguards. He was later found with his throat slit.

The opera’s opening scene takes place on the final day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where a lawyer confronts Madikizela-Mandela about the kidnapping. The showdown evokes her memories of a harsh life under apartheid persecution, including 13 months in solitary confinement; torture; banishment to internal exile; and the sacrifice of her family life. But it also finally provokes her anguished confession that “things went horribly wrong.”

The producers see it as a larger-than-life story, with all the grandeur and melodrama and passion that opera requires. They also see it as a search for lost innocence – hers and South Africa’s – destroyed in the brutality and corruption of apartheid.

The producers, like many South Africans, cannot agree on the ultimate meaning of Madikizela-Mandela’s life. “I would call her a tragic heroine,” Ndodana-Breen says.

Wilensky, his long-time collaborator in Toronto and Pretoria, jumps into the conversation. “I don’t see it as a tragedy,” he says. “Ultimately the country was victorious, and she was part of that victory.”

“But at what price?” asks Ndodana-Breen. “That’s the point. At what price?”

Pynkoski Backs Up The Singers

Source: www.thestar.com – Ben Rayner

(Apr 20, 2011) In the topsy-turvy world of opera, giving the singers a
lot of structure helps them create deeper and freer performances.

That's a verdict shared by Toronto soprano Measha Brueggergosman, New York City-based male soprano Michael Maniaci and Paris-based tenor Kesimir Spicer.

The trio was behind a memorably fine run of Mozart's opera Idomeneo at the Elgin Theatre three seasons ago. They are reunited for the premiere of Opera Atelier's new production of Mozart's
La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus), which opens at the Elgin on Friday.

As the trio shares laughter and anecdotes about their professional exploits during a lunch break, they also lay out the many things that make Opera Atelier — and co-artistic director Marshall Pynkoski in particular — like no other producer.

These three singers, who have worked with some of the finest orchestras and opera companies in the world, realized they liked working with each other — and Opera Atelier — so much, that they suggested La Clemenza di Tito to Pynkoski during the run of Idomeneo.

Pynkoski obliged, thinking that this serious, historically based opera about Roman emperor Titus would make a great fit with the company's 25th anniversary season. But he's no pushover.

As he and co-artistic director (and wife) Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg do for every production, Pynkoski buried himself in research and planning first.

Watching an Opera Atelier rehearsal — they typically run several weeks longer than with most companies — is like watching fine pieces of clockwork being set into place and, then, into motion.

Pynkoski and Zingg create a big binder full of charts and diagrams representing the quadrants of the stage. The singers and dancers are dots that appear and move around it with military precision.

Pynkoski claps his hands at the moments when the singers have to change position.

It may look and sound ridiculously rigid. But the singers love it.

“When you come into a Marshall setting, he has the whole thing mapped out. He has the framework in place, the subtext that he wants to work out and you inhabit his world,” says Maniaci.

Brueggergosman jumps in: “We know that we're going to walk into an environment where we know exactly what is expected of us, and I love that.”

“It's a shame that interviewers always want to talk about the period-performance or Baroque aspect of Opera Atelier productions, because Marshall hashes out characters and plot development and subtext as well as any traditional stage director I have ever worked with,” Maniaci says. “His work is so valid and so visceral, even for today.”

“Absolutely — and maybe even more,” adds Spicer.

The tenor, with the title role, says this structure builds manoeuvring room to develop character — and feel comfortable on stage. He continues: “This is so different from a lot of other directors, who will say, ‘Kres, come in from the left and then let's just see what happens.' ”

“Oh, those are the worst words I've ever heard in an opera rehearsal. ‘ Just do this and then go with it,' ” Brueggergosman concurs. “The last thing you want to hear is directions as you're going on, on opening night.”

“That is exactly what happens 95 per cent of the time,” Spicer insists. “I've been in several productions where they staged the last chorus in the (dress) rehearsal.”

“That's reason No. 47 why I avoid opera,” quips Brueggergosman. “I want to know what the story is, who is important, who is in charge, who loves who and who is getting hurt. Marshall has a clear idea about all those things and he communicates it to us. That makes my job so much easier.”

The three agree that, despite a gruelling rehearsal schedule, they are having a great time with this title, which is all about the conflicts of love and ambition in the court of newly crowned Emperor Tito.

The two-act opera seria and the whimsical The Magic Flute were Mozart's last two operas, written during the last six months of his life, in 1791. Tito was a last-minute commission from Prague to mark the coronation of Bohemian king Leopold II on Sept. 6, 1891.

The old libretto about a king who forgives all, adapted from one Metastasio had written for an 1734 opera by Antonio Caldara, seemed like a perfect tribute. Of all the many 18th- and 19th-century operatic settings of this story, Mozart's is the only one to stay in the repertoire.

The singers are joined by Zingg's corps de ballet and by regular Opera Atelier collaborators, period-instrument-playing Tafelmusik, under conductor David Fallis. Gerard Gauci has taken on costume duty as well as creating his trademark trompe l'oeil sets. Performances run to May 1.

Brueggergosman loves Opera Atelier's compact size. “All of the planning and scheduling doesn't go through a committee. It goes through one or two people,” she says.

“That's a wonderful thing,” smiles Spicer.

“I don't think they keep things small because they want to keep things cheap. I think they keep things small because they want to make sure they get done right,” Brueggergosman concludes.

“I call it quality control,” says Maniaci.

Just the Facts

WHAT: La Clemenza di Tito, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

WHERE: Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St.

WHEN: April 22-May 1

TICKETS: $20-$166 @ or 416-872-5555 or Elgin box office

Joel Grey: Beyond the Great White Way

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Apr 26, 2011) Everything goes for Joel Grey, who pops up all over New York.

Joel Grey has been madly, deeply in love with New York for 60 years, but April, 2011, has been the month he took full ownership of the city.

“It’s just amazing all this is happening at once,” Grey explained, when I reconnected with him in Los Angeles, his second home, just before he flew back to New York to prepare for his current flurry of activities.

“All this” began when Grey returned to the Broadway stage as the singing gangster Moonface Martin in the latest revival of Cole Porter’s 1934 hit Anything Goes, which opened a few weeks ago to ecstatic reviews.

Then on April 12, the day after his 79th birthday, the City Museum of
New York opened an exhibit called “Joel Grey: a New York Life” — showcasing pictures and memorabilia from his life but especially the photographs he has been snapping in recent years, with three published books to his credit.

And on Wednesday night, a revival of The Normal Heart — co-directed by Grey and George Wolfe — is finally getting its Broadway premiere a quarter-century after Joseph Papp gave Larry Kramer’s play about AIDS its first production downtown at the Public Theatre.

Over four decades, my visits with Grey occurred when he was doing a Toronto gig or I was in what always seemed his natural habitat, Manhattan. But in recent years, after buying the perfect tiny beach home in Venice, California, near the famous boardwalk, Grey has been dividing his time between the two coasts. One big reason: L.A. is home for his entire family, including his son James (a chef), his daughter Jennifer (recently back in the spotlight as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars), and his grandson.

One night in January, Grey was the big attraction at a special evening at the Paley Center (formerly Broadcasting Museum) in Beverly Hills — interviewed on stage about his life and career but especially about his astonishingly prolific work on the small screen.

And as he demonstrated to the delight of the Paley crowd, despite a few wrinkles that now punctuate his boyish face, Grey still has that impish twinkle that has been his trademark for decades.

Though many of us think of him primarily as a song-and-dance man on the Great White Way, his Broadway musical appearances have in fact been relatively rare. After his breakthrough 1966 performance in Cabaret, which brought him a Tony, he played George M. Cohan in George M!

In the mid-1990s, in a hugely successful revival of Chicago, he stopped the show nightly with his “Mr. Cellophane” number. And in 2003, he was the original Wizard when Wicked opened its seemingly endless run — but left the show after a year.

But whenever he was between stage shows, there was always work in TV, often in scary roles. Among the shows you may have seen him on: The Muppets, Alice, Dallas, Brooklyn Bridge, Oz, Buffy Vampire Slayer, Alias. House, Private Practice and, Grey’s Anatomy.

One of the most memorable clips at the Paley Center shows a teenage Joel Grey doing a guest appearance on the Colgate Comedy Hour in 1951 — being interviewed by host Eddie Cantor and flying through a frantic dance routine from a revue called The Borscht Capades.

Born in Cleveland, he was clearly influenced by his father, Mickey Katz, a musician known for humorous songs with a Yiddish flavour — and who always seemed to be leaving for a road gig or returning from one. Young Joel got his inspiration from the serious drama he saw at the Cleveland Playhouse, starting as a child actor. His domineering mother encouraged his showbiz career, with a vengeance.

For years, he was stuck doing fairly tacky nightclub acts on a second-tier circuit, with occasional gigs replacing the original actor in a New York play.

He was on the verge of giving up when Hal Prince offered him the role of the master of ceremonies at a Berlin nightclub in Cabaret. He took a risk by going to the character’s heart of darkness, and the result was his Tony award.

Six years later, he won an Oscar for re-creating that role. Indeed, he is one of only people to win both the Tony and the Oscar for playing the same part.

But don’t assume getting a chance to do the movie came easily.

As Grey explained at the Paley, director Bob Fosse made it clear he wanted anyone EXCEPT Grey. The producers insisted on Grey.

To put it mildly, Grey and Fosse did not get along.

“It was not a pleasant experience,” he says with sly understatement — and, of course, a twinkle.


Sony 'Rebuilding' Playstation Network After Outage

Source: www.thestar.com

(April 25, 2011) NEW YORK—It appears Sony Corp. is still working to rebuild its PlayStation Network, several days after an "external intrusion" caused it to suspend the service.

The company said it turned off the service, which lets gamers connect in live play, so that it could strengthen its network infrastructure. Qriocity — the company's online entertainment platform — was also affected.

"Though this task is time-consuming, we decided it was worth the time necessary to provide the system with additional security," the company said in a blog post Saturday. An email message to the company seeking further details was not immediately returned.

The PlayStation Network and Qriocity had been turned off Wednesday evening so that the company could investigate an external intrusion. The company said the following day that it could take a "full day or two" to get the service back up and running.

On Saturday, the company said in a blog post that it was "working around the clock" to bring the services back online.

"We thank you for your patience to date and ask for a little more while we move towards completion of this project," the company said in the post.

The outage came just after Tuesday's release of the game "Mortal Kombat," which is available on the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360. It also comes as Amazon.com restores computers used by other major websites as an outage stretched into a fourth day.


Bermuda’s Watery Kingdom

Source: www.thestar.com – Stephen Wickens

(Apr 22, 2011) HAMILTON,
BERMUDA–Johnny Barnes rises before the sun every weekday and walks three kilometres to Crow Lane roundabout.

There, from 5 to 10 a.m., the 87-year-old waves and blows kisses, often yelling, “Bless you, have a wonderful day.” Commuters enthusiastically honk and wave back, a few yelling things such as, “Johnny! We love you.”

The show of affection has gone on for nearly three decades, rain or shine. So when a doctor’s appointment recently forced him to miss a day, media outlets and the police were flooded with phone calls.

Barnes might now be as much of an icon in this country as those shorts that make otherwise serious men look like Cub masters. Even tourists make the pilgrimage these days.

“I used to think he was nuts,” cab driver Robbie Powell says. “But now the whole country treasures Johnny. There’s already a great statue of him, though it probably won’t be moved to the roundabout till after he’s gone.”

Stop and talk with Barnes and he’ll to pray for you. On this early April day, he joins hands with a couple of Canadians and as beseeches God to grant us, among other things, a safe trip home.

But maybe, with a national debate raging and page one of the Bermuda Sun declaring this the “Last chance to save tourism,” Barnes’s prayers should focus on luring more visitors to this sub-tropical Atlantic Ocean paradise a 1,000 kilometres off the North Carolina coast.

Bermuda is renowned among those who love to fish for marlin, tuna and barracuda. It’s a mecca for divers seeking shipwrecks and coral reefs to explore. If you love historic forts, litter-free streets, golf, luxury accommodations, friendly service and gorgeous beaches, it may be the place for you.

But if you must soak up the sun on those beaches, wait till mid-April, when the return of summer-like weather is heralded by migrating humpback whales and sightings of an iconic bird, the Bermuda longtail. And if you’re less than wealthy, consider housekeeping accommodations and trips to the supermarket so you can cook some of your meals.

Bermuda is many things, but it’s not a Caribbean destination for winter sun seekers and it’s not cheap. Those are probably the key underlying causes of the angst gripping a nation that in some ways pioneered the era of modern tourism.

It fell off the radar for most Canadians when the loonie plumbed record depths in the 1980s and ‘90s. Though many have returned and our dollar is worth more than the greenback (to which Bermuda’s dollar is pegged, one to one), prices can sting like the Portuguese man o’ war you’ll be warned of on some of the pink sand beaches.

“We’re counting on Canadians; Canada is our second largest market,” William Griffith, the island’s tourism director said at a conference on sustainable travel put on by the Caribbean Tourism Organization. “Your strong dollar and the fact WestJet started competing with Air Canada last year has had an impact.”

Overall visitor totals have rebounded slightly since the worst of the recession that began in 2008, and the Canadian total rose 22 per cent in 2010. But politicians, industry people and media are conducting a surprisingly frank and open debate for a tourist destination—and with good reason.

Since the 1980s, trips to the island are off more than 50 per cent while 83 hotels have closed. Tourism remains the No. 2 industry behind financial services, but now accounts for less than 5 per cent of overall economic activity.

An exhibit at the National Museum, part of the renovated Royal Navy Dockyard, views “The Heyday of Tourism” as something very much in the past.

“When the music changes, so must the dance,” Bermuda’s Canadian-born, McGill-educated Premier Paula Cox says. “Our tourism infrastructure became, in many cases, outdated.”

Things are costly on the island partly because it’s so remote and small. It’s the sixth-densest nation on earth (No. 8 if you include Vatican City and Monaco) and unlike Hong Kong and Singapore, it has no high-rises to speak of. Except for fish and a few vegetables, food is imported. Along with the land shortage, real estate values have soared in recent decades on a flood of insurance company money and wealth from people seeking favourable tax treatment.

Whether it’s worthwhile for the island to spice up its nightlife, and casinos or reach a little bit down-market is part of the current debate.

But one thing is certain, the extremely wealthy have first dibs on where to vacation, and you don’t have to be on this island long to know why so many have chosen Bermuda.

Stephen Wickens is a Toronto-based freelance writer. His trip was subsidized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization.


ARRIVING: Served by WestJet westjet.com and Air Canada aircanada.com, it’s only a 2½-hour flight from Toronto. In the next two months, WestJet says some seat sale deals should work out to about $400 round trip, taxes included.

SLEEPING: Fairmont’s Princess and the Rosedon are jewels in Hamilton, the capital city. For a wide range of more modestly priced guest houses, B&Bs and housekeeping units, visit gotobermuda.com/where-to-stay/accommodations-explorer/. More than a dozen hotels are offering every third night free in April, every fourth night in May and every fifth in June. For details on the “Compliments of Bermuda” offer visit bermudatourism.com/compliments

DINING: Supermarket prices are higher than Toronto, but a good option if you feel pinched in restaurants.
If you ask locals picks for good, reasonably priced restaurants, you will undoubtedly hear Mad Hatters and the Lemon Tree Café, both in Hamilton. At the west end of the island, the Frog and Onion’s home brew beers pub style food are a hit. If you’re at the nearby Bonefish, ask for Bermudian-style fish, even if it’s not on the menu. It comes in a white sauce that is surprisingly light (too bad about the overdone veggies it came with). Most places charge a gratuity up front. It’s usually 15-17 per cent, meaning you’re not expected to tip. The splurge: The Waterlot Inn has been serving great filet mignon since 1670. If you’re in the Waterlot, check out the wine list: it’s a tome with offerings worth $1,500 a bottle.

DRINKING: The “Dark and Stormy” is one part Gosling’s Black Seal rum and two parts Barritt’s ginger beer. The “Rum Swizzle” combines dark and light rums with orange and pineapple juice, fresh lime, grenadine and Angostura bitters.

GETTING AROUND: Most roads lack sidewalks, so pedestrians should remember to walk facing into traffic, which in Bermuda is on the right side. Cars were not legal until 1946, and they’re still restricted – one per household. Tourists may not rent them. Mopeds and scooters are an option. Service provided by hard-to-miss pink buses is good. Tokens are $2.50 each. Taxis and ferries are also big parts of the transportation system.

DOING: If you have time, clear skies and the energy to climb the 185 steps, Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse, built in 1846, is a great place to survey the hook. But no map of the place is complete without the surrounding rings of reefs, some of which were still islands that provided initial refuge for shipwrecked first residents. It’s believed there are as many as 300 wrecks in the vicinity.

DON’T MISS: St. George, the original capital, is the oldest English city in the Western Hemisphere and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. In centuries hence, if people look for great landmarks of the British Empire the way modern man looks at relics of Rome, Bermuda and its many forts may be viewed as the best example. The Royal Navy Dockyard has been transformed for tourist in recent years, complete with facilities for mega cruise ships. It’s a history buff’s delight and artist Graham Foster’s four-wall mural in the Commissioner’s building is stunning. Fort St. Catherine, at the island’s east end is the best of the forts. Also, make to time walk the streets of Hamilton, a place where pieces of public sculpture outnumber pieces of litter. Even the indigents use the trash bins.


Canada's Patrick Chan Sets Record In Short Program At Worlds

Source:  www.thestar.com - Denis Sinyakov/Reuters

(April 27, 2011) MOSCOW — Canadian Patrick Chan put on a record performance Wednesday in his bid for his first world figure skating title.

Skating to “Take Five” by Paul Desmond, the 20-year-old from Toronto compiled a world-record score of 93.02 to lead the short program, landing a picture-perfect quad jump to open the program followed by a huge triple Axel.

Chan takes a lead of huge 12-point lead into Friday’s free program after Japan’s Nobunari Oda was second with a score of 81.81. Defending world champion Daisuke Takahashi of Japan was third with 80.25.

The previous world mark was 91.30, set by Russian Evgeni Plushenko at the 2010 European championships. Plushenko, who’s not competing this season, was in the crowd at the Megasport Arena to see his record fall.

Chan, a two-time world silver medallist, had a previous best score in the short program of 88.90 at the 2009 Four Continents Championships.

The Canadian recorded a world’s best mark at this season’s Canadian championships in January, but it wasn’t recognized by the International Skating Union as official because it was in a domestic event.

Chan was competing for the first time in three months — including a roller-coaster last few weeks that saw the world championships postponed and finally relocated in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged north-eastern Japan. The event had originally been slated to open March 21 in Tokyo, and there had been concern it would be cancelled altogether before the International Skating Union finally determined it would be held in Moscow.

Canadiens Confident They Can Stave Off Elimination

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

(April 24, 2011) Brossard, Que.— If coach Jacques Martin was feeling any heat at his Montreal Canadiens being one loss away from playoff elimination, he wasn't showing it.

The veteran head coach got up Sunday morning, held a meeting with his players, watched video of Montreal's 2-1 double overtime loss to the Boston Bruins from the night before and then was the picture of calm as he met with the media.

“I work hard at what I do and I do my best and don't worry about those things,” Martin said of playoff pressure. “You enjoy these challenges.

“It's the fun part of the job. I've had 25 years of it, so that helps. Not too many grey hairs yet, so that's a good sign.”

Martin's message for the day was to stay calm and confident even though the loss on Saturday night in Boston put the Bruins up 3-2 in their best-of-seven NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final.

Game 6 is set for Tuesday night at the Bell Centre (CBC, 7 p.m. ET), with Game 7 if necessary in Boston on Wednesday night.

Martin has been in the NHL since he was an assistant coach in Chicago in the late 1980s. He got his first head coaching job in 1986 with St. Louis and later worked for Quebec, Ottawa and Florida. He is in his 16th campaign as a head coach and this season he passed the 1,200-game mark and picked up his 600th win — putting him in the top 10 all-time.

What he has sees from Montreal-Boston thus far is a series that is too close to call just yet.

At no time was that more evident than on Saturday night, when the teams battled for four and a half periods before Nathan Horton scored for the Bruins at 9:03 of the second overtime. Brad Marchant had given Boston the lead at 4:33 of the third frame only to see Jeff Halpern tie it at 13:56.

Both teams had glittering chances to win it, and both goaltenders, Montreal's Carey Price and Boston's Tim Thomas, were exceptional.

The teams have each scored 12 goals through the first five games. Boston has outshot Montreal 177 to 165.

“That's how close it is,” said Martin.

Montreal won the first two games in Boston but have now lost three in a row, the last two in overtime, so the Bruins have momentum.

But Martin looks to last year's post-season, when Montreal won games in which they could have been eliminated fives times in seven-game wins over Washington and Pittsburgh before they were finally put away in Game 5 of the conference final by Philadelphia.

“We're getting better game to game,” he said. “With the character the leadership and what we've overcome in the past, I'm sure we'll be ready on Tuesday.

“There were a lot of positives from that game. We battled. We attacked. That's competition. We had opportunities in overtime. The guys are positive and confident. I'm confident because of the way we're playing. We'll bring in a couple of adjustments, nothing major. We feel we have a good chance of winning.”

There are health concerns, however.

Rookie centre David Desharnais left in the first overtime with an apparent left leg or knee injury and defenceman James Wisniewski left in the second period with what looked like a sore back but returned during the first overtime looking better.

Martin gave no updates on either player, although there were reports Desharnais, who had a strong Game 5, may sit out Tuesday.

A surprise thus far is how relatively cleanly played the series has been.

These are two divisional rivals who ended the regular season in rancour after a fight-filled 8-6 game in Boston followed by an ugly incident in a 4-1 Montreal win in which a hit by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara caused Max Pacioretty to go head first into a stanchion, leaving the Canadiens winger with a concussion and a fractured vertebra.

But it has been one of the series with the least penalties called and none of the nasty incidents that have marked other series, where there have been suspensions and key players injured.

So far, there has been one fine —$2,500 (U.S.) to Boston defenceman Andrew Ference for giving the one-finger salute to the Bell Centre crowd after a scoring a goal in Game 4.

There was Scott Gomez causing Chris Kelly to go face-first into a goal post that has left the Boston centre playing in a face cage, although it hasn't slowed the former Ottawa Senator at all. There was a Benoit Pouliot charge that led to a fight with Ference in Game 3, but Pouliot hasn't played since.

And of course there was Pacioretty's Twitter message during Game 5 in which he joked that the overtime was longer than Marchant's considerable schnozz, although Pacioretty, no button-nose himself, quickly tweeted an apology.

Special teams have slightly favoured Montreal, which is 2-for-16 on the power play while Boston is the only team yet to score with a man advantage at 0-for-15.

The Canadiens had a team meeting and were given the rest of the day off. They'll skate on Monday.

It is the second time teams have had consecutive off-days in the series. The last time, between Games 3 and 4 in Montreal, the Bruins went to Lake Placid, N.Y., and the Canadiens took one day off without arranging any availability with the media. Martin was the only one made available on Sunday.

Mark Bocek - Canadian Lightweight Reaps Rewards Of Expanded Game

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

(Apr 25, 2011) Toronto— Mark Bocek used to school the owners of the UFC at Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Now the lightweight from Woodbridge, Ont., is having his way with fellow 155-pounders in the cage.

A winner of four of his past five UFC fights, Bocek faces former WEC lightweight champion Ben (Smooth) Henderson at UFC 129 on Saturday night at Toronto's Rogers Centre.

“I think a win here puts me top five [in the world],” said Bocek, who has expanded his mixed martial arts game in recent years and is reaping the rewards.

A decade ago, he helped introduce UFC president Dana White and co-owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta to Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

They took up the sport around the time they bought the UFC in 2001. Bocek just happened to be in Las Vegas at the time, training with their instructor John Lewis. Bocek was brought along to help out with the lessons.

“He used to come in and smack us around, submit us every 13 seconds,” White recalled in a 2008 interview with The Canadian Press.

Bocek was a purple belt back then. Today the 29-year-old is a BJJ black belt (and black belt in kempo karate) – not to mention 6-1 on Canadian soil.

While he has always been more show than tell, Bocek's confidence is beginning to show. After tying up Dustin Hazelett – a talented black belt of his own – like a pretzel in December at UFC 124 in Montreal, Bocek uncharacteristically spoke out in the cage.

“I've been quiet for a long time,” he said. “I've got the best jiu-jitsu in the lightweight division. Let me fight George Sotiropoulos in Toronto, I'll prove it again to everybody.”

Sotiropoulos fell out of the picture when he lost to Dennis Siver in February at UFC 127. Instead, Bocek got Henderson, who is coming off a loss to Anthony Pettis in the WEC's last card before being absorbed by the UFC.

Bocek (9-3) has no regrets about speaking out – or pressing his claim.

“It's what people want to see,” he said matter of factly. “People like hyped fights and it excites them. The more they talk about you, the more they want to see you fight.

“It's not really my personality but it's part of the sport. It is what it is.”

Bocek's fight with Hazelett could not have gone much better. He tripped the lanky American 15 seconds in, then countered Hazelett's rubber guard before passing guard and improving position until he got into the mount position.

Seeing an opening, he moved up Hazelett and wrapped his legs around his head, rolling him over and locking in a triangle choke. Bocek administered a few elbows to the head for good measure and then tightened the choke until Hazelett had to tap.

“I've done it many times in training. First time that way in a fight,” said Bocek, who credits his training with rubber guard devotees at American Top Team in Florida for his ease in handling Hazelett.

It helps that Bocek has honed his takedown game, allowing him to take opponents down into his world.

And he is more confident in his striking.

“I'm feeling really good in all the elements right now. I'm ready to go wherever it goes. I'm pretty complete now so I look forward to showing what I have in this next fight. I think this next fight is going to really show what I'm capable of.”

He will need everything in his toolbox against Henderson (12-2), whose only other loss before Pettis came four years ago. A former NAIA all-American wrestler, Henderson is an energetic fighter with a black belt in tae kwon do and brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

He is also durable. In his last outing in December at WEC 53, he survived a highlight-reel kick to the head that saw Pettis launch himself off the fence to start the move.

“Aside from that kick, it was a pretty close fight,” Bocek said. “You could maybe make the argument that Pettis didn't really dominate the champion. So he's still there, he's no joke.”

The Henderson fight will be Bocek's ninth in the UFC. He has won five of those, with losses to Frankie Edgar (the current champion) at UFC 73, Mac Danzig at UFC 83 and Jim Miller at UFC 111 in March 2010.

Edgar won by TKO and Danzig by submission. Miller got a decision that clearly still rankles.

Asked if he thought he should have got the win, Bocek doesn't miss a beat.

“Absolutely. It hurt, it hurt. I trained really hard for that one. But I'm not a judge so what are you going to do?”

The lesson, he says, is “try not to leave it in the hands of the judges.”

“It's in the past, nothing I can do about it, can't control it. Just focusing on Henderson now.”

While acknowledging that having a crowd of 55,000 behind him will be “awesome,” Bocek knows he will still be on his own Saturday despite his proximity to home.

“When you get in the cage, it's just Ben, there's nobody else. And I've got to get through him,” he said. “In my mind, 55,000 will be the same as zero at that moment and it'll just be another fight.”

NFL Hall of Famer Joe Perry Dies

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Janie McCauley, The Associated Press

(Apr 26, 2011) Hall of Fame fullback Joe Perry, the first player with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and nicknamed "The Jet" for his sensational speed, died Monday. He was 84.

The San Francisco 49ers announced that Perry, also a veteran of the Second World War, had died Monday in Arizona of complications from dementia.

Perry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969 following a 16-year NFL career, 14 years with the 49ers and the other two for the Baltimore Colts.

A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Perry still stands as San Francisco's all-time leader in yards rushing (7,344) and touchdowns rushing (50). He led the 49ers in rushing on eight occasions, including seven consecutive seasons from 1949-1955.

"I was deeply saddened to hear of Joe Perry's passing earlier today," 49ers owner John York said. "He was a dear friend to my family and me and to the entire 49ers organization. He was also an intricate part of our rich history. A truly remarkable man both on and off the field, Joe had a lasting impact on the game of football and was an inspirational man to the generations of players that followed him. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife, Donna, and his entire family. He will be sadly missed by all of us."

Perry finished with 9,723 yards rushing on 1,929 carries with 71 touchdowns in 181 career games. He also had 2,021 yards receiving on 260 catches for 12 touchdowns. He broke the NFL record for most career yards rushing, a total that was later topped by Jim Brown.

Perry, who also spent a stint in the Navy and served during World War II, became the first player with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 1953 and '54.

The 49ers retired Perry's No. 34 jersey in 1971.

Perry was a member of "The Million Dollar Backfield" featuring four future Hall of Famers in Perry, Hugh McElhenny, John Henry Johnson and Y.A. Tittle. For three seasons from 1954-56, they formed a fearsome foursome. The group remains the only full-house backfield to have all four of its members voted into the Hall of Fame.

Perry regularly attended enshrinement ceremonies at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, supporting 49ers ownership and former players.

"All of us here at the Pro Football Hall of Fame are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the great Joe Perry," said Hall president and executive director Steve Perry (no relation). "Joe was not only a key figure in the history of professional football, but he was a great friend to us here at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a frequent visitor to Canton for our annual enshrinement ceremony as well as many other Pro Football Hall of Fame events. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife, Donna, and the entire Perry family."

Perry and McElhenny also were teammates at Compton Junior College. Perry scored 22 touchdowns in his first season.

Perry was later discovered by 49ers tackle John Woudenberg while playing running back for the Alameda Naval Air Station Hell Cats. Woudenberg promptly told 49ers owner Tony Morabito and head coach Buck Shaw about Perry, the team said. Perry's first season with San Francisco was in 1948. He played for Baltimore from 1961-62, then wound up back with the Niners in his final season of 1963.

An undrafted free agent, Perry ran for 562 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. He dominated again the next year with 783 yards, eight TDs and a 6.8 yards per carry average.

In 2007, the team established the Perry/Yonamine Unity Award as a way to celebrate the franchise's 65-year history of teamwork being a focus toward accomplishing goals. The 49ers honour an exceptional non-profit agency, youth football coach and a current 49ers player who has demonstrated a commitment to promoting unity and giving back to the local community. The award is named for Perry and fellow former 49er Wally Yonamine. The winner in each category receives a $10,000 grant award to be donated to their represented organization.

"We are honoured to be able to continue to pay tribute to him through the annual Perry/Yonamine Unity Award recognizing his and fellow 49ers alumnus, Wally Yonamine's barrier-breaking contributions to the 49ers," York said.

Perry was born Jan. 22, 1927, in Stephens, Ark. Memorial service arrangements were pending.

Sweep Marks Celtics As Team To Beat Once Again In East

Source: www.thestar.com – Ben Rayner

(Apr 24, 2011) The first team to move on to the second round of the
NBA playoffs may be the one that’s playing the best basketball of any.

Boston Celtics dispatched the overmatched New York Knicks in four games — completing the sweep with a 101-89 victory at Madison Square Garden on Sunday — and have earned what every team in the post-season wants: days off.

The veteran Celtics won’t play again until next weekend at the earliest, a reward for having played so well against the Knicks and with the NBA playoffs possibly stretching out to 28 intense games over four series and two months, the more rest any team can get, the better.

Boston’s chief Eastern Conference rivals now have to go at least five games to subdue their first-round opponents — Miami couldn’t close out Philadelphia and lost 86-82 on Sunday; Chicago couldn’t sweep Indiana, losing Game 4 Saturday — while the Celtics sit and wait.

With the way they played against the Knicks, a well-rested Boston team will be a handful.

They had four different leading scorers— Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett — and played their typical swarming defence to deny the Knicks any chance at extending the series.

Given the questions about Miami — the Heat are a collective 1-9 from the field with a deficit of three points or fewer in the final 10 seconds of games this season, after Dwyane Wade missed a clutch shot Sunday — and Chicago’s inexperience, not to mention the fact Derrick Rose was in a walking boot for a sprained ankle on Sunday and faces an MRI, the Celtics have to be considered Eastern Conference favourites today.


Chris Bosh may need some home cooking.

The ex-Raptor was an integral part of Miami’s two home wins to open its series with the Philadelphia 76ers, but that impact didn’t travel particularly well for Games 3 and 4 on the road.

The Sixers paid a bit more attention to him and played him with a bit more intensity. After having a total of 46 points and 24 rebounds in Game 1 and 2, he had just 31 and 11 in Games 3 and 4.

But the Sixers have played hard for almost the entire series against the Heat — Philadelphia took a step back in Game 2 but regrouped in Games 3 and 4 — and that’s something Miami should be used to: Getting the very best from teams that want to knock off the giants. It’s even more apparent in the playoffs.

“I’ve been on the other side of the spectrum,” Bosh said in a post-game interview Sunday. “When I was in Toronto I used to look at teams and circle the date . . . you have a bit more pep in your step and have a little more juice . . . and we’ve persevered.

“We’ve seen other teams give great intensity in the regular season and you don’t usually see that every game.”


There may not be a better story in the entire NBA playoffs than the tale of Portland guard Brandon Roy and if the post-season is when reputations are made, his is otherworldly.

A guy who feared in the middle of the season that chronic knee problems might end his career, scored 18 points in the fourth quarter — including a four-point play that tied the game, and the winning bucket one possession later — as the Blazers rallied from 23 points down in the third quarter to stun the Dallas Mavericks and tie their best-of-seven series 2-2.

Roy had said he felt like crying when he played only eight minutes in Game 2 and the emotions washed over him when he was mobbed by his teammates after the epic Game 4 performance.

“When they were grabbing me, I just needed to embrace someone,” Roy told reporters. “(It was) just one of those feelings where I was happy to have their support . . . To come back, with everything I’ve been through this season, it just all kind of came into that moment right there on the court with guys grabbing me and just cheering me on. It was real special.”


If there was one thing you could count on in the NBA playoffs, it’s been the late-game execution and big-moment capability of the San Antonio Spurs. Until Saturday.

By botching the final possession of a Game 3 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Spurs are closer to becoming only second No. 1 seed to lose a best-of-seven first-round series to a No. 8 seed in NBA history. The other was in 2007 when Golden State upset Dallas; No. 8 New York beat No. 1 Miami in 1999 and No. 8 Denver beat No. 1 Seattle in 1994 in best-of-five series.

Down three with less than six seconds left in Memphis, the Spurs didn’t call a timeout and watched Manu Ginobili fail to get off a shot as they lost to fall behind 2-1 in the series. And everyone was trying to take responsibility for the gaffe.

“I should have been all over the referee to get the time and I didn’t notice. That was my fault,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.

Added Ginobili, who inexplicably dribbled himself into a position where he couldn’t get off a shot: “I thought I had a little more time, but it seems that I didn’t.”