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


August 18, 2011

You know that summer is on the way out when the Ex starts at the
CNE, starting August 19th and running through September 5th.  Now, are you receiving this newsletter to your preferred email addy? Let me know if you would like to change it to another.

I have a
scorching hot event for you so get your calendars out!  An all-star cast hits Toronto for two days for the performance of a hot play, Church Girl on September 2 and 3 at Sony Centre. Check out Robin Givens, A'ngela Winbush,Demetria McKinney,Clifton Powell, and Tony Grant (just to name a few) for this story about a former church girl gone wayward!

The 16th Anniversary of
Honey Jam was another powerful success.  Please check out my photos, mostly from the finale in my PHOTO GALLERY.  Congratulations to Ebonnie Rowe with her pioneering efforts and her whole team of dedicated volunteers!

I also checked out opening night of
da kink in my hair at Enwave Theatre.  Lots of changes as the context of the story is put to music.  The stories still carry a wallop of meaning and empowerment.  Despite having seen da kink three times, the play still moves and touches me with an important message of self celebration. Congratulations kinky girls - especially trey anthony for her vision!

 Also featured this week is news on
Drake winning yet another accolade, South Africa's opera on Nelson Mandela, a very moving speech by Dennis Rodman accepting his entrance into the Basketball Hall of Fame (watch it and you will him in a completely different light) and Serena Williams wins the Rogers Cup. Check it all out under TOP STORIES

Also included is news of the return of
da kink, sudden passing of hockey player Rick Rypien, and Russell Peters hosts the Geminis. Plus some tips on how to look great in all your photos!  AND, my friend, Taddy P out and Jamaica and Maxi Priest's bass player, puts out his second album - check it out under SCOOP.

OK, so get into your entertainment news.  Don't forget that you can just click on the photo or the headline and you'll have your latest entertainment news!
 OR you can simply click HERE for all the articles.

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!


Profile Entertainment Presents CHURCH GIRL Starring Robin Givens – Sept. 2 and 3, 2011

Source:  Profile Entertainment

Not exactly what her mother prayed for.  What would make a church girl give up her soul to dance on the pole? 

Urban theatre enthusiasts around the world are all abuzz about the highly anticipated tour of
Church Girl.  This no holds barred musical stage play, based on a true story, was written and produced by Angela Barrow-Dunlap and directed by Reuben Yabuku. The play and all-star cast arrive in Toronto at the Sony Centre for Performing Arts (formerly The Hummingbird Centre).  Details below.

Angela Barrow-Dunlap’s new musical brings together some of the film, television and music world’s hottest stars on one stage for one unforgettable production.

Leading the cast of characters is one of Hollywood’s most sought after actresses,
Robin Givens, R&B soul-singer/songwriter A'ngela Winbush; actress Demetria McKinney from the NAACP Image Award-winning television series House of Payne; actor Clifton Powell from the Friday movies, Ray and Norbit; and Tony Grant from Tyler Perry’s The Marriage Counsellor. The show also features play circuit powerhouses and theatre veterans Wanda Nero-Butler, Gia Wyre and Teisha Lott. Join this powerhouse All-Star cast for an amazing production that will make you laugh, cry, cheer, and dance in the aisles.


Video:  Drake Wins Award, Gives Cash To Charity

Source: www.thestar.com - By The Canadian Press

(Aug 16, 2011) Toronto's rap superstar Drake is this year's recipient of the Allan Slaight Award for achievement by a young Canadian.

The 24-year-old will receive the prize during the Canada's Walk of Fame Awards gala on Oct. 1, with the show scheduled for broadcast later in the month on Global and Slice.

Drake — whose real name is Aubrey Graham — has racked up six Grammy nominations and 10 Juno nods, including two wins.

The former Degrassi star released his debut full-length Thank Me Later last year, and the record racked up platinum sales in Canada and the U.S. after debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard charts in both countries. His follow-up, entitled Take Care, is due out on the performer's 25th birthday, Oct. 24.

The Allan Slaight Award — named for the Canadian broadcaster and philanthropist — is in its second year, after Montreal 17-year-old jazz phenom Nikki Yanofsky claimed the inaugural prize.

The award comes with a $10,000 honorarium, which Drake has decided to donate to Dixon Hall, a community service that aims to create opportunities for people in low-income neighbourhoods in Toronto.

“I am a proud Canadian, and I am grateful to Canada's Walk of Fame and the Slaight Foundation for this award,” Drake said in a release.


Rapper Drake Wins Allan Slaight Award

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
The Canadian Press

(August 16, 2011)
TORONTO — Toronto rapper Drake is this year's recipient of the Allan Slaight Award for achievement by a young Canadian.

The 24-year-old will receive the prize during the Canada's Walk of Fame Awards gala on Oct. 1, with the show scheduled for broadcast later in the month on Global and Slice.

Drake – whose real name is Aubrey Graham – has racked up six Grammy nominations and 10 Juno nods, including two wins.

The former Degrassi star released his debut full-length CD Thank Me Later last year, and the record racked up platinum sales in Canada and the U.S. after debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard charts in both countries. His follow-up, Take Care, is due out later this year.

The Allan Slaight Award – named for the Canadian broadcaster and philanthropist – is in its second year, after Montreal jazz phenom Nikki Yanofsky claimed the inaugural prize.

The award comes with a $10,000 honorarium, which Drake has decided to donate to Dixon Hall, a community service that aims to create opportunities for people in low-income neighbourhoods in Toronto.

“I am a proud Canadian, and I am grateful to Canada's Walk of Fame and the Slaight Foundation for this award,” Drake said in a release.

Williams Defeats Stosur To Win Second Career Rogers Cup Title

Source: www.thestar.com

(Aug 14, 2011) Serena Williams captured the Rogers Cup women’s tennis title Sunday to continue a remarkable comeback from injury and illness.

See photos in my PHOTOGALLERY.

The 29-year-old American star dispatched No. 10-seed Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-4, 6-2 to win her first Rogers title since claiming the Canadian tournament crown in 2001.

The Rogers Cup was just Williams’ fourth tournament since being sidelined for 49 weeks, first with a foot injury she suffered when she stepped on a piece of glass in a restaurant in Germany, and then with blood clots in her lungs.

The mighty Williams had Stosur on her heels all match long with her powerful strokes. She broke the 27-year-old Aussie to go up 5-4 in the opening set and would break her twice more in the second in the one hour and 17-minute match, winning in emphatic fashion with her ninth ace of the game.

The former top-ranked Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, was unseeded in the tournament and is ranked just 80th in the world as she continues her comeback.

She’s projected to rise to No. 31 in next week’s rankings, and will definitely be a favourite at the upcoming U.S. Open.

Toronto rapper Drake was among fans in the almost-full Rexall Stadium. Williams dad and long-time coach Richard was also in attendance. He and wife Lakeisha stood on centre-court holding Serena’s two small, white dogs as she accepted her crystal trophy.

And while thunderstorms were forecast for the city Sunday, the weather held up until Williams and Stosur had left the court.

Americans Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond were awarded the women’s doubles title, meanwhile, after Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Maria Kirilenko of Russia withdrew, citing an right hand injury to Azarenka.

Williams, who earned US$360,000 for her victory, had dispatched Azarenka 6-3, 6-3 in their semifinal Saturday.

Stosur pocketed $180,000 as runner-up.

Photos: Opera About Mandela Opens in Johannesburg

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 14, 2011) *(Via The AP) – A sexy dose of jazz and the refined
strains of Western opera and traditional Xhosa song drive a new opera about South Africa’s former president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela.

The range of musical styles in “
Mandela Trilogy” reflects South Africa’s mix of cultures, the production’s writer and director Michael Williams said in an interview before a dress rehearsal on Friday.

After preliminary runs in the eastern coastal city of Durban and
the heartland town of Bloemfontein, the Cape Town Opera’s production moved to South Africa’s economic and entertainment hub, Johannesburg, on Saturday.

The sweeping action of “Trilogy” moves from Mandela’s boyhood village in southeastern South Africa to the Johannesburg townships where he became a political leader and then
to the prisons where he spent 27 years. Mandela is shown cheating on his wife, making political missteps and struggling with the burden of holding others’ lives in his hands.

Read/learn more about this AP report (and see more photos) at Google News.

Video: Bawling Like a Baby, Dennis Rodman Enters Basketball Hall of Fame

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 14, 2011) *It was a sight for sore eyes.

Friday night (08-12-11), ex-NBA great
Dennis Rodman was enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame along with Artis Gilmore, assistant coach Tex Winter and seven others.

But when it came time for Rodman’s speech, it wasn’t a simple “thank you for this great honour” kind of thing. Nope, the audience and folks watching on TV got an emotional Rodman who testified about his failures as a son to his mother and as a father and husband to his wife and his three children. (Who knew he had a wife and 3 children?)

Rodman came on stage wearing a jacket with “DR” and his Pistons’ No. 10 and Bulls’ No. 91 in sequins with lace sleeves protruding. He immediately started boohoo-ing before going through several thank-yous, saving extra praise for his former coach, Phil Jackson, Lakers owner Jerry Buss, former Pistons coach, the late Chuck Daly and James Rich, the father of a family that took him in during college.

America’s Favourite Dancer Crowned On SYTYCD

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(Aug 11, 2011) She captured people’s hearts from her very first audition and, on Thursday night, Melanie Moore won So You Think You Can Dance.

Moore, a 19-year-old dancer and art student from Marietta, Ga., became the eighth person to claim the title of America’s Favourite Dancer.

She also won $250,000, a spot on the cover of Dance Spirit magazine and a starring role in a Gatorade G Series ad campaign.

Moore, a contemporary dancer, had been a standout since she first auditioned for the show in Atlanta.

She continued her ascent on the weekly performance shows, first as
part of a couple with second runner-up Marko Germar, 22, a jazz dancer from Guam, and then individually.

Head judge Nigel Lythgoe told Moore at one point she was the best female dancer he’d seen in eight seasons of the show.

Her biggest competition was another female, Sasha Mallory, a 23-year-old contemporary dancer from Bakersfield, Calif., who came on strong in the final weeks of the show.

The third runner-up was Tadd Gadduang, 25, a B-boy from Salt Lake City, Utah.

The more than 11.5 million votes cast after Wednesday’s performance show were a record for the series. Out of that total, Moore won with a commanding 47 per cent, while Mallory took 32 per cent, host Cat Deeley said.

Moore was too overcome by tears to say anything but, “Thank you,” after her victory was announced.

But in a video segment featuring her and Mallory, she said, “To be out there on that stage is just the opportunity of a lifetime; to win it would just be everything.”

At the beginning of Thursday’s finale, judge Mary Murphy told all four competitors that “on top of just being extraordinary dancers . . . you’re grateful, you’re humble and you just have the best spirit and I think it’s really what’s gonna serve you (in your careers). I think that’s what made you stand out in this competition.”


Taddy P – Gimme Di Bass – Release on iTunes on August 23

Source: Mango Seed Music

[Note from Dawn:  I first met Taddy P in St. Maarten when he was playing with Maxi Priest - he is one badass bass player!  Pick up his music on iTunes!] 

Taddy P has emerged as one of the most creative musicians, writers and producers out of Jamaica. His diverse life experiences manifest themselves in his music, which combines roots reggae riddims & a compelling message with bluesy melodies, rock overdubs & a consistent soulful vibe.  “He is helping to define a progressive new sound for reggae, a style that incorporates outside influences but maintains an authentic Jamaican foundation.” said Tomas Palermo.  Gimme Di Bass, his sophomore album features collaborations with multiple Grammy nominees Maxi Priest and Bunny Rugs of Third World Band fame as well as the only Diamond awarded dancehall artist & 2 time Reggae Grammy winner Shaggy.

The album opens with Play for Me, a light hearted intro with a hypnotic beat, before Shaggy, Red Fox & Chevaughn assist Taddy P to hit you heavy with Let’s Get it Started. Jamaica’s
Reggae songstress Tanya Stephens ramps the vibe up even higher with Heart of Stone, an ironic take on relationships alongside an irresistible bass line. Next up, the Teddy Pendergrass mega soul hit Come Go With Me blends a lover’s rock arrangement with the fresh new voice of Evin Lake creating a new track that sounds like it was meant to be. Singer/songwriter Rik Rok adds a gorgeous touch of special to the largely instrumental tribute to Michael Jackson with, Lady in My Life , as well an original ballad, Will This Love Survive. That bass line reels you in again with Embrace Love, before Maxi Priest shines on the lovers rocks track Too Busy, as does Bunny Rugs of the legendary Third World Band on Monday Morning Blues. The title track is a standout, as Beniton asks Taddy to Gimme Di Bass, followed by Leave the Crumbs Alone with Mackie Conscious.  God Is, not surprisingly, has a gospel feel before the album is rounded out by two dub versions. The set closes with Dean Stephen’s mellow ode to Mama.

Featuring: Shaggy, Maxi Priest, Tanya Stephens, Bunny Rugs, Rik Rok, Red Fox, Chevaughn, Mackie Conscious, Dean Stephens of Chalice, Beniton, Evin Lake & others.  

Track Listing:

01. Play For Me feat. Deesha

02. Let’s Get It Started feat. Shaggy, Red Fox & Chevaughn

03. Heart Of Stone feat. Tanya Stephens

04. Come Go With Me feat. Evin Lake

05. Lady In My Life feat. Rik Rok

06. Embrace Love feat. Deeyah

07. Will This Love Survive feat. Rik Rok

08. Too Busy feat. Maxi Priest

09. Monday Morning Blues feat. Bunny Rugs

10. Gimmie Di Bass feat. Beniton

11. Leave The Crumbs Alone feat. Mackie Conscious

12. God Is feat. Simonie Kitson

13. Heart of Stone (dub mix instrumental)

14. Monday Morning Blues (dub mix instrumental)

15. Mama feat. Dean Stephens

 CD / Digital Release 


Who Knew?! Drake and Stevie Wonder Working Together

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 13, 2011) *
Drake has something up his sleeves for the next album.

News reports have revealed the rapper will be working with Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and you’d never guess, but
Stevie Wonder.

“Stevie Wonder is a very close friend of mine,” the Canadian native recently revealed backstage at the OVO Fest in Toronto. “I’m honoured to call him a friend, someone who embraced me very early in this music business. Stevie Wonder is actually on ‘Take Care.’”

He went on to share with the MuchMusic network about his relationship with the legend and how working with him has matured his music.

“He helped me out with a lot of the music, just came and sat with me, listened to my music, told me where I could add a couple things to make it more sonically appealing, and not only that but we actually are writing together, which is an incredible experience,” Drake stated.

Not only has Stevie agreed to work with him on the album, but for those who missed it, he appeared on stage with the rapper at the OVO Fest.

“So I hit him up, asked him to come by, and with no hesitation he hit me back like, ‘I will be there,’” he shared. “Not only that, but he was supposed to do two songs and he did like six. It was incredible.”

Drake’s next album, “Take Care” is to debut on Oct. 24.

Trip To Chamber Music Fest Was A Capital Idea

Source: www.thestar.com - By William Littler

(Aug 12, 2011) OTTAWA - Now that the Toronto Summer Music Festival and Black Creek Festival have arrived as oases, the capital city of Ontario no longer resembles the unrelieved musical desert it once was during the sun-bleached days of summer.

But where sophisticated music making is concerned, Ontario’s capital still has lessons to learn from the capital city of Canada, whose multi-event Music and Beyond Festival was scarcely a week into the history books last month when along came
Chamberfest, the even more ambitious Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, one of the largest of its kind anywhere in the world, with a 97 event calendar running through to last weekend.

Both festivals focused on the supposedly esoteric field of chamber music, with audiences actually lining up outside a number of local churches awaiting admission to daytime and evening concerts featuring artists from home and abroad. Nothing quite like this happens in Toronto.

But then, this was the 18th season for the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, an institution commanding such loyal local support that when veteran Ottawa Citizen music critic Jacob Siskind died last September, he left to it the bulk of his seven figure estate.

In response to this much-missed critic’s magnanimous gesture, the entire festival this year was dedicated to his memory, including the establishment of a high-profile series called The Siskind Concerts at its principal (and only air-conditioned) venue, the quasi-Byzantine-style Dominion Chalmers United Church.

It was at Dominion Chalmers that I heard Canada's Marc-André Hamelin dazzle his audience with music by Berg, Stockhausen and Ravel and it was at this same venue that his highly touted American keyboard colleague Simone Dinnerstein made prosaic work of Bach, Schubert and Schumann.

Dominion Chalmers accommodated a range of artists stretching from the Leipzig String Quartet and the Nash Ensemble of London to Trio Con Brio Copenhagen and Canada's Gryphon Trio, whose resident cellist, Roman Borys, has also acted for the past four seasons as the festival’s artistic director.

Ironically, and by no means accidentally, his predecessor as artistic director, a fellow cellist named Julian Armour, founded the rival Music and Beyond after he and Chamberfest parted company. The idea of a city the size of Ottawa playing host to two such large-scaled chamber music events barely a week apart continues to defy the laws of probability.

No matter. Music lovers are the real winners in this rivalry. Instead of taking sides, most Otawaans seem to prefer patronizing both festivals.

Although I have yet to visit Music and Beyond, spending a few days at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival affords the most concentrated experience of its kind I know of in Canada. On one day this season it was possible to listen to three different concerts of new music, including premieres by Alice Ho and Andrew Staniland. On another it was possible to follow New York’s in-your-face Asphalt Orchestra in a series of “guerilla gigs” through Byward Market.

And on yet another, a three day international symposium, co-sponsored by Carleton University, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt, reached it climax with a program provocatively titled The Hidden Liszt, featuring some of the Hungarian composer’s rarely heard church music.

Festivals are supposed to expand our horizons and events such as the Liszt symposium did no less. Festivals should also aspire to the highest standards and anyone who heard Canada’s foremost violinist, James Ehnes, in a CBC 75th birthday recital with the precocious Polish-Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki, experienced such standards as well.

The notion that summer music must be light music has been effectively exploded in Ottawa. It is a place where one can hear a new piece by Alexina Louie, an old piece by Andrea Gabrielli and five centuries of serious music in between

It is also a place where, upon crossing the threshold of one of the festival churches one night, I was astonished to hear The Entry of the Queen of Sheba from Handel's oratorio Solomon superbly performed in the chancel by 12 young handbell ringers from Estonia.

Earlier in the afternoon festival officials had apparently run across the Arsic Estonian Youth Handbell Ensemble from Tartu playing outdoors beneath one of Ottawa's bridges as part of a street festival and promptly invited the young musicians to come over and play for their audience as well. Of such happy surprises are festival memories made.

Boyz II Men Thrives in the Midst of Failing R&B Groups

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 13, 2011) *It’s a wonder why R&B groups have failed to
survive the new millennium.

Boyz II Men, is attempting to redefine modern tunes by bringing things back together. But the reality is groups are nearly obsolete.

Group member Shawn Stockman shared why they’ve survived the trends.

“We’re lucky enough to have incredible chemistry and we never lose sight of the fact that we’re a team,” Stockman told the Creative Loafing website. “It’s easy to let disputes and drama and egos come between you as a group, which is why a lot of people go solo. But we still know why we do it – and that’s because we truly love it. That is the key to being here 20 years. Things have not been 100-percent great for 20 years, but we know that is how life is. We were taught early to prepare for the down times because they always come, and because of that we’ve known what to expect.”

The group is coming out with their album “Twenty” to commemorate the long years they’ve had together. It’s a collection of the oldies with an updated twist, along with 10 original new songs. They’re bringing back good music, which has long been missed by those with taste.

“The sad truth is that not many artists are creating great R&B records anymore, and if they are those are the songs that the labels are weeding out in the album finalization process in fear of the sound being dated,” says Stockman. “While many artists have their fans grow old with them, our fans grow old but they also pass our music down to their children, which allows our fan base to skew much younger than one would think. Given the fact that the sound of music has changed so much over the past 20 years, introducing our music to younger fans is almost like introducing a brand-new style of music.”

Take A Time Out, Britney

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Aug 14, 2011) Britney Spears gave up being much of a presence on her own recordings three albums ago, but it's starting to look like she can't be bothered with the live shows, either.

To that, I say: Godspeed, darling. Get off the bloody stage and take a little time to yourself away from the spotlight I'm not sure you crave anymore. Disappear for a few years and come back with a really good role in a John Waters movie or something because it's plain to see you don't particularly want to be doing this.

At the first of her two nearly sold-out Femme Fatale tour dates at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, anyway, the 29-year-old former teen queen came off as a performer very nearly bled of whatever spark she once had. She barely sang a note — her voice has been processed well beyond recognition on every record since 2007's Blackout so, really, there's not much sense in turning the microphone on at this point — and ran through her rote dance moves like a dead-eyed stripper going through the motions on the early-afternoon shift. Half the time she wasn't even dancing, just being moved around on moving sidewalks and rotating pieces of the stage and various contraptions hanging from the ceiling. Her stage banter was perfunctory and, if not quite insincere, then totally vacant. There doesn't, horror of horrors, even seem to be much energy put into the outfits, basically a handful of bikini variations to show off Brit's taut bod. What's going on?

None of this mattered too much to the crowd, which was either female or gay, with very little latitude in between. Girls' nights out tend to be uncritical times, after all, and gay men love to dote on a beautiful basket case — even more so when she comes surrounded by dancers and sound-tracked by thumping club beats.

And, to be fair, Britney brought the thumping club beats. Most of the set list came from the tech-heavy new Femme Fatale, 2008's Circus and Blackout, and delivered enough crowd-pleasing oomph on danceable ear candy like “Hold it Against Me,” “Big Fat Bass,” “If U Seek Amy,” “Womanizer” and “(Drop Dead) Beautiful” to get the place going off in reasonable fashion. The latter, by the way, is a bit of a rip of Lady Gaga's “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich,” but it might be a good choice for the next single if the way it sets the boys a-dancin' is any measure.

Weirdly, though, for such thoroughly modern digital music — so modern that Spears no longer tours with a band, just two dudes pushing buttons and punching the odd keyboard riff on a ramp above the stage — it wasn't selling itself very well through the P.A. The mix sounded remote and flat and pumped out far too much top end at the expense of the low end for material so reliant on the aforementioned big, fat bass. Can't anybody be bothered to at least get the sound right on this tour?

The most effort appeared to have been put into the interstitial video segments that featured a handsome stalker dude watching creepy peeping videos and plotting Britney's demise. I'm not sure what that means, but it says something. Take some time off, Brit.

Take A Time Out, Britney

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Aug 14, 2011) Britney Spears gave up being much of a presence on her own recordings three albums ago, but it's starting to look like she can't be bothered with the live shows, either.

To that, I say: Godspeed, darling. Get off the bloody stage and take a little time to yourself away from the spotlight I'm not sure you crave anymore. Disappear for a few years and come back with a really good role in a John Waters movie or something because it's plain to see you don't particularly want to be doing this.

At the first of her two nearly sold-out Femme Fatale tour dates at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, anyway, the 29-year-old former teen queen came off as a performer very nearly bled of whatever spark she once had. She barely sang a note — her voice has been processed well beyond recognition on every record since 2007's Blackout so, really, there's not much sense in turning the microphone on at this point — and ran through her rote dance moves like a dead-eyed stripper going through the motions on the early-afternoon shift. Half the time she wasn't even dancing, just being moved around on moving sidewalks and rotating pieces of the stage and various contraptions hanging from the ceiling. Her stage banter was perfunctory and, if not quite insincere, then totally vacant. There doesn't, horror of horrors, even seem to be much energy put into the outfits, basically a handful of bikini variations to show off Brit's taut bod. What's going on?

None of this mattered too much to the crowd, which was either female or gay, with very little latitude in between. Girls' nights out tend to be uncritical times, after all, and gay men love to dote on a beautiful basket case — even more so when she comes surrounded by dancers and sound-tracked by thumping club beats.

And, to be fair, Britney brought the thumping club beats. Most of the set list came from the tech-heavy new Femme Fatale, 2008's Circus and Blackout, and delivered enough crowd-pleasing oomph on danceable ear candy like “Hold it Against Me,” “Big Fat Bass,” “If U Seek Amy,” “Womanizer” and “(Drop Dead) Beautiful” to get the place going off in reasonable fashion. The latter, by the way, is a bit of a rip of Lady Gaga's “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich,” but it might be a good choice for the next single if the way it sets the boys a-dancin' is any measure.

Weirdly, though, for such thoroughly modern digital music — so modern that Spears no longer tours with a band, just two dudes pushing buttons and punching the odd keyboard riff on a ramp above the stage — it wasn't selling itself very well through the P.A. The mix sounded remote and flat and pumped out far too much top end at the expense of the low end for material so reliant on the aforementioned big, fat bass. Can't anybody be bothered to at least get the sound right on this tour?

The most effort appeared to have been put into the interstitial video segments that featured a handsome stalker dude watching creepy peeping videos and plotting Britney's demise. I'm not sure what that means, but it says something. Take some time off, Brit.

Jeff Bridges Calls In The Big Talent, But He Didn't Need To

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

(Aug 12, 2011) "You can have a mansion; you can have $20-million in the bank. You can have a 12-car garage; golden fixtures and a marble sink." Jeff Bridges sings that on his new, fine-enough self-titled album, out Tuesday. The song, a slow steel-guitar shuffle, is written by John Goodwin, who may have had his long-time friend Bridges in mind, in respect to the bankroll and bathroom luxury and such.

I have no idea how many cars The Big Lebowski actor owns, but I do know one thing: The Dude, if you'll excuse me, can buy. He can afford the best in album producers (his pal T Bone Burnett) and the ace repertory players that come along with him, with keyboardist Keefus Ciancia, guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Dennis Crouch, pedal-steel guitarist Russ Pahl, and drummer Jay Bellerose showing up for roll call. Backup singers? Give Rosanne Cash, Ryan Bingham and Sam Phillips a ring - put it on the tab.

Bridges, who often stars in major motion pictures, doesn't skimp when it comes to songwriting help either. Stephen Bruton and Gary Nicholson, for example, contribute What a Little Bit of Love Can Do to the project. The tune sounds typically Burnettish: cozy yet roomy, with a touch of retro reverb - Buddy Holly in a dream.

All fine.

But the star names his major-label follow-up to 2000's Be Here Soon after the name that appears on his credit card, Jeff Bridges. That's who I wish to hear. The Nashville specials composed by others don't mean much, though they do sound great.

Bridges's own material is more special, charismatic. I would call them art songs. Falling Short is spindly and reflective - about making paths, dodging wraths and leaving the math to God - with sympathetic harmony from Phillips. Tumbling Vine is set in Phillips's own cinematic cabaret vibe.

As a singer, Bridges, an Oscar-winner for his portrayal of a downside country singer in Crazy Heart, is serviceable. On the Bruton ballad Nothing Yet, he is tender and warm along side the higher, sweeter Cash. On the offbeat blues of Greg Brown's Blue Car, he talk-sings with character.

Again, though, I come back to Bridges's own handiwork. Slow Boat, co-written with Burnett, is a lowly-lit psychedelic dirge. It recalls the manners of Leonard Cohen and Lucinda Williams, and it would be in the wheelhouse of Krauss and Plant.

More of that, please, Jeff Bridges, if time affords.

Jeff Bridges
Jeff Bridges

Oxygen, Hummers And Condom Piñatas: What Musicians Demand While On Tour

Source: www.thestar.com - By Lesley Ciarula Taylor

(Aug 17, 2011) Party girl singer Ke$ha’s first headlining concert tour has put her at the top of the summer earnings list, at what veteran rocker Meat Loaf is bringing in.

The “Get $leazy” tour by the hard-working 24-year-old songwriter and rapper, which landed at
Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on Aug. 14, is bringing Ke$ha $200,000 a show, according to figures obtained by The Smoking Gun website.

Her concert rider labour schedule also specifies one rigger “to hang piñata.” A condom-filled piñata features in her finale.

The 63-year-old Meat Loaf’s concert rider, meanwhile, specifies two oxygen tanks and two on-call technicians to administer oxygen “as needed” before, during and after the show are a “must.” A doctor should also be on call, the rider says, and strongly suggests he or she be given “complimentary tickets.”

Second to Ke$ha on the list is
Melissa Etheridge at $125,000. She has two Ontario dates: Thursday in Sudbury and Friday at Casino Rama in Orillia.

Country and rap figure heavily in The Smoking Gun’s preliminary concert earnings list.

Black-hat crooners
Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins are each collecting $100,000 a show on their tour, Loretta Lynn comes in at $40,000 and the Oak Ridge Boys at $35,000.

Eighties heavy metal band
Whitesnake is pulling in $85,000 a show (including a Thursday date at Casino Rama) while the more downmarket headbangers Skid Row earn $13,500.

Skid Row’s concert rider demands nine clean, safe first class hotel rooms such as Comfort Inn or Sleep Inn and two packs of guitar picks.

Whitesnake’s David Coverdale, meanwhile, is very picky about his backstage food, a concert rider shows: no onions, broccoli or peppers in the soup, and not spicy. No tomato, onions, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, beets, garlic or cheese in the chicken and veg wraps.

Rapper Hammer, who is earning $40,000 a show, specifies two Hummer limos for his entourage.

Further down on the TSG earnings list are rappers
Tone Loc and Young MC at $5,000 a show.


VIDEO: Amy Winehouse's Home Robbed, New Lyrics Stolen

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

(Aug 11, 2011) This story gets sadder and sadder. News from Britain today is that an acquaintance of the late Amy Winehouse may have stolen personal effects from her house, including recordings and lyrics of unreleased songs. According to The Sun (I know, I know, Rupert Murdoch) the crook's haul includes two lyric books, letters and one of the favourite guitars of the singer who died July 23. As the house in Camden Square, London, is technically a crime scene, access is controlled and only about 20 people are thought to been allowed in. Her father Mitch is required to complete an inventory of her valuables and that's apparently when the theft was discovered.  One expects this sort of ghoulish thinking of the music industry, where fans and executives alike anticipate posthumous releases of uncertain quality, and that's certainly in the offing in Winehouse's tragic case. And light-fingered folks have made off with souvenirs from around Winehouse's neighbourhood before. All the same, this feels like a new low.


Video: R. Kelly Thanks Fans for Prayers After Surgery

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 12, 2011) *Everyone was and probably still is nervous about
R. Kelly’s emergency throat surgery last month. He was rushed to the hospital on July 19 to have an abscess on of his tonsils drained. He was discharged shortly after. He recently emerged in a grave voice, thanking his fans and prayer warriors. “I want to say thanks to all the prayer warriors out there for supporting me, praying for me,” he said, between coughs. “The doctor said the surgery went well. I know it may not look like it, but it did. I want y’all to continue to pray for me. Be strong out there, I will be back. I know it’s a lot of negativity out there, please don’t believe the hype. God is good all the time.” Despite the pain and the long recovery, the singer promised that he would be back to work soon to begin recording a new album.


will.i.am Creates Kids Program

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 12, 2011) *
will.i.am is doing something new. He’s partnered with inventor Dean Kamen, known for creating drug infusion technologies, water purification systems and an all-terrain electric wheel chair. The pair will be working together to create an hour-long back-to-school television program. It’s called “i.am FIRST: Science is Rock and Roll,” the special, will promote science, education and technology. “As families across America are preparing to send their kids back to school, ‘i.am FIRST – Science is Rock and Roll’ will entertain as well as get viewers excited about robots,” said Kamen Also, viewers will be on top of the latest regarding the 20th annual FIRST Championships, which is a worldwide science and robotics competition for students from K-12 grades. The show airs Sunday, Aug. 14 at 7 pm on ABC.

Kelly Rowland’s Got Her Own Show

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 12, 2011) *
Kelly Rowland is on a roll. Or maybe we should say, role. That’s because after nearly making her single and album “Here I Am,” the singer just snagged a role in her very own sitcom. The deal isn’t official yet, but should be final in a few weeks. She’ll begin filming a pilot episode on the unnamed sitcom at the top of the year. The singer is on her way to becoming a shining star on the screen. Her new role on the movie, “Think Like A Man” is sure to keep her acting skills sharp. She’s also done a few appearances in other shows and movies like “Girlfriends” and “Freddy vs. Jason.” This summer, she’ll kick off her tour with Chris Brown and T-Pain.

Missy, Timbaland, Kelly Rowland Honour Aaliyah for BET Special

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 11, 2011) *Missy Elliott, Timbaland and Kelly Rowland remember R&B star
Aaliyah as part of an upcoming BET special commemorating the 10th anniversary of her death. Aaliyah was 22 when she died in a plane crash in the Bahamas on Aug. 25, 2001. Her close friends and collaborators open up about the tragic loss in the BET tribute “Aaliyah: One in a Million.” Patti LaBelle is also among the stars featured in the TV tribute, which will air later this month.

Bieber Is Hollywood's Richest Teen

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Bang Showbiz

(Aug 15, 2011) Justin Bieber is Hollywood's richest teenager. The 17-year-old singer topped People magazine's annual list after earning a reported $53 million in the last year, beating the likes of Miley Cyrus, who shot to fame playing the title character in Disney TV show Hannah Montana, and his girlfriend Selena Gomez. Bieber’s earnings are thought to have increased after the success of his 3-D concert movie, Never Say Never, and from sales of his new perfume, Someday. Cyrus, 18, took home a cool $48 million, while 19-year-old Gomez banked just $5.5 million. Will Smith's children Jaden and Willow made $9 million combined, while Jonas Brothers star Nick Jonas raked in an impressive $12.5 million. And it seems Bieber has been keen to spend some of his hard-earned cash as he recently splashed out $25,000 on a necklace. The “Baby” singer also had a hand in designing his new piece of jewellery which is based on animated Family Guy talking baby Stewie Griffin, voiced by Seth McFarlane, and features 12 carats of rubies and diamonds. Beverley Hills jeweller Jason Arasheben helped Bieber create the necklace, revealing he “had a specific vision for how he wanted it to look.”

VIDEO: Green Day's Amy Winehouse Tribute

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

(Aug 17, 2011) Courtesy of beloved local music titan Alan Cross, whose website is filling up with his finds and insights, comes this bit of news: Green Day trotted out 15 new songs at a low-profile club show last week in Costa Mesa, Calif., and one them seems to be a tribute to the fallen Amy Winehouse, who died last month at age 27.  Below is a surreptitious recording of it, which a listener's attempt at transcribed lyrics (with snippets like "Dirty records from another time and bloodstains on your shoes" and "you're too young for the golden age"). What's more, one of the bits the listener misses (at around 1:58) seems to be "27 gone without a trace," and there's a "did you tattoo a  lucky charm" elsewhere, and of course Winehouse actually did have just such a bit of ink. I'm going to call this a very strong circumstantial case. UPDATE: John Sakamoto points out the band has helpfully posted the lyrics on their own website.


Yeah Baby, Yeah: Mike Myers Signs Up For Austin Powers 4

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara, Entertainment Reporter

(Aug 15, 2011) Scarborough native Mike Myers is reportedly working on the next instalment of his randy British super-spy parody, according to cinema blogger Drew McWeeny of Hitfix.

Deadline Hollywood honcho Nikki Finke is more sceptical.

“I wouldn’t necessarily dress for the premiere just yet. No deal has yet been signed,” reports Finke, a consistently reliable source for movie news.

Finke reports that Myers has starting writing Austin Powers 4. In a recent interview, Myers has hinted that the plot may focus on the father-son relationship between Dr. Evil (whom Myers also plays) and his son, Scott (played by Seth Green).

Jay Roach, who directed the three previous films, touted the idea in a recent interview.

“For me, the secret is Dr. Evil. . .the Dr. Evil world of Mini-Me (Dr. Evil’s diminutive clone) and the Scott Evil triangle ... I could just watch that forever. So I hope he (Myers) will dig back into that side of it. Austin’s a great character, too, but we’ve done so much Austin, you know, I’d love to go deeper into Dr. Evil’s world,” Roach said.

Considering it’s been almost a decade since the last outing for the foppish, shagging-obsessed operative, this may be a case of the spy who came from the cold only to find audiences have moved on.

Still, one can’t help but speculate over the title for AP4, which has taken to parodying the titles of past James Bonds films (The Spy Who Shagged Me, Goldmember).

A YouTube post, with more than 300,000 hits, has already nabbed Thunderballs (plural), an homage of sorts to the fourth James Bond film starring Sean Connery.

A riff on Octopussy has some obvious potential and may not require much revision. Other titles are a bit more problematic. Live and Let Shag? Licence to Shag. Shag Another Day?

It remains to be seen whether the results will be smashing, groovy, baby or shagadelic.

Reitman To Guide Newbies At TIFF

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

(Aug 12, 2011) Up in the Air director Jason Reitman will mentor new talent at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Oscar-nominated Reitman and distribution veteran Bingham Ray have been chosen to guide 24 artists in the festival’s intensive talent lab. It runs Sept. 7 to 10.

Meanwhile, emerging actors Sarah Allen, Katie Boland, Sarah Gadon and Keon Mohajeri will be the first participants in the festival’s Rising Stars program.

TIFF says it’s designed to help homegrown talent break internationally. The foursome will get a chance to network with casting directors, agents, managers, producers and filmmakers.

The programs are in addition to a pitch event Sept. 13, when six teams get to pitch their feature film idea to a jury and live audience. The winning team gets $10,000 from Telefilm Canada to put toward their project.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 8 to 18.

Gadon’s résumé already includes roles in David Cronenberg’s films Cosmopolis and A Dangerous Method, as well as Mary Harron’s The Moth Diaries. Allen’s early credits include supporting roles in Human Trafficking and Secret Window, with recurring roles in Little Mosque on the Prairie, MVP, Murdoch Mysteries and Being Human.

Boland is currently filming Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and next year makes her literary debut with the short story collection Eat Your Heart Out.

Mohajeri’s film and television appearances include Flashpoint, Good Dog, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures and Murdoch Mysteries.

From Deneuve to Tavernier, highlights from Montreal’s World Film Festival

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Matthew Hays

(August 16, 2011)
MONTREAL — Yes, the World Film Festival is back – for its 35th year.

Despite repeated declarations of its demise – a death knell that grew so loud a few years ago, locals began calling it the “zombie festival” – the WFF returns with an eclectic roster of about 380 films from more than 70 countries.

Among the goodies at the festival this year are its guest of honour, Catherine Deneuve, who will be on hand to accept the World Festival’s Grand Prize of the Americas. The fest will also fete Ginette Reno, Quebec’s famous chanteuse, who has also provided memorable performances in hits such as Mambo Italiano.

On screen, French master Bertrand Tavernier will present a journey through his favourite films. Other highlights to watch for:

His Mother’s Eyes
Catherine Deneuve delivers a striking performance as a hugely successful TV journalist who befriends a young man not realizing he is researching his latest project – a biography on her. “I was aiming for a dramatic narrative film structured a bit like a thriller, with some suspense,” Thierry Klifa recently said of his film. “I’ve always liked melodrama… there’s something in melodrama about the intense feelings and heightened aspect of certain situations which particularly moves me.”

Coteau Rouge
This year’s opening film is by veteran Quebec auteur André Forcier (Le vent du Wyoming, La comtesse de Baton Rouge), once dubbed the enfant terrible of Quebecois cinema. In this network narrative, the lives of several disparate characters – a corrupt property developer, a mobster, a boxer and an overbearing grandmother – collide with unnerving consequences. Coteau Rouge stars the ubiquitous Quebec heartthrob Roy Dupuis.

Come As You Are
Belgian filmmaker Geoffrey Enthoven has concocted a lusty comedy with a twist: Three men in their 20s take a vacation to Spain where they hope to finally lose their virginity. The catch is, all three are disabled: one is wheelchair-bound, one is blind and the other is paralyzed. Enthoven’s last film, The Over the Hill Band, was a hit at the World Film Fest two years ago, and he has proven adept at entirely off-kilter comedies.

Here Without Me
The WFF has always featured a strong selection of films from Iran, one of the Middle East’s most vibrant national cinemas. With Here Without Me, director Bahram Tavakoli adapts Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie, envisioning a struggling single mother desperately trying to find a match for her introverted daughter. Stars popular Iranian actor Saber Abbar.

Life Back Then
Japanese director Takahisa Zeze returns to the festival for the third time with a romance with eerie overtones. An emotionally-damaged young man and woman are drawn to each other as they embark on their new jobs, which entail cleaning out the homes of people who have died alone. As the two grapple with employment that involves the constant reminder of death, they find a new way of embracing life, and each other.

The first feature of American director Joel Fendelman has generated a great deal of buzz. Set in Brooklyn, it depicts a young Muslim boy who befriends a group of Jewish children by chance. When they assume he is also Jewish, the Muslim boy plays along, despite the fact that he is training to be an imam at a local mosque. Fendelman has crafted a film that’s as much about youthful camaraderie as it is about cultural divisions and boundaries.

The Montreal World Film Festival runs from Aug. 18 to Aug. 28.

Why Did Inception's Christopher Nolan Dream Up $100,000 For The Canadian Film Centre?

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Peter Howell

(Aug 11, 2011) It pays to be nice to talent on the way up, as the Canadian Film Centre discovered to the tune of $100,000.

The CFC announced this week it had been chosen by
Christopher Nolan, the British director of Inception and the revived  Batman franchise, to receive a $100,000 grant as part of his participation in WIND Mobile's "Best Conversation Ever" contest.

Missing from the release was any explanation for Nolan's largesse. He's off making another Batman film and can't be reached.

I asked CFC spokesman Brian Mullen what the film centre did to so ingratiate itself with Nolan. Nobody knows for sure, but apparently he was mightily impressed by the outfit when he visited Toronto 13 years ago.

Mullen emailed:

"Unfortunately we did not receive an official statement from Mr. Nolan as to why he has chosen us.
"What I do know is that in 1998, when Nolan was at TIFF with his first feature The Following, CFC held an in-conversation for Nolan and the film. Then when Memento was here, Nolan met with a small group of CFC directors.

"Whether or not that was the basis of his decision, I cannot say, but we are very thankful to him and WIND mobile for their generosity!"

We Canucks get kidded about being so friendly, but sometimes it really pays off.

Nelson George Talks New Film and the Afro-Euro Experience

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

(Aug 15, 2011) *During the late 80s and to mid 90s a group of writers were active on the literary scene that I looked up to trying to decide what course to take in life. As teens many of us adhered to the rules of the cult of personality. That is to say that if it seemed cool then we were all in.

After reading some of his pieces in Billboard and in Village Voice I was convinced.
George spoke like me and he appeared to be from the same background. He made putting pen to paper seem pretty cool. After I read “The Death of Rhythm & Blues” I was convinced.

Recently I was afforded the opportunity to speak with George at “The Filmmaker’s View,” hosted by Raqiyah Mays of Broadway Night Out. Having helped finance “She’s Gotta Have It” as well as having directed the short film “To Be a Black Man”, and the documentary “A Great Day in Hip Hop,” George was able to impart wisdom upon the eager audience of would be actors, directors and producers. Afterwards I was eager to hear about what George had been up to. I was a little surprised by his initial answer.

“For the last couple of years I’ve been working for American Airlines for a website called
BlackAtlas.com,” said George. “It’s a black travel website and they use me as more of a spokesperson. I’ve been to China twice; Alaska, which was crazy, Brazil, Central America, Costa Rica, all over Europe and all over the US. Ironically, I’ve been everywhere but Africa. That’s really funny! But, in so doing, that really turned me on to finding people of color everywhere. I was fascinated. I met a brother in Shanghai who had been there 9 years. He speaks French, English and Mandarin. Went to Spain and met this amazing woman who ran a black women’s group in Barcelona. It just opened me up to the whole idea of meeting global black people. You say ‘Well, what does that mean?’ Well, the person in Africa, the person in Dubai, the black person that is working in these different places through language and communicate throughout the course of their day. So, I was trying to write a piece that dealt with that on some level.

Most successful writers pull their inspiration from everyday life, and that’s exactly what George did. His new found insight into the migratory patterns of people of African descent helped him come up with what he, and I for that matter, think is a great idea for a script. It’s called “Migrations.”

“Essentially, the premise is a group of African art thieves who have been stealing African art, or should I say liberating African art, from European museums and returning it to Africa, and the complications that come with that,” he explained. “They’re also on the run from Interpol. But a lot of it is the interactions. Like, one of the first scenes we shot was in Germany where there are two black Germans talking. That part will be in subtitles but they’re talking casually because they’re black Germans and that’s how they do it.”

Nelson George has a unique perspective on the global African Diaspora. So much so that I was curious to know what he felt was the single most common theme amongst all black people worldwide.

“A history of oppression, but it’s interesting, if you go to Europe this is how it works; the black French experience is not the same as the black UK experience, it’s not the same as the black Dutch experience,” said George. “They have immigrant stories and a lot of these people have grown up in these cultures. So, they have a different relationship to them than they would if they had come from the islands. So, I think that oppression is definitely a connection, but they’re also Dutch, they’re also French. I think Americans in general are kind of narrow in how we see the world. When you go to Europe, because everybody is close together (geographically) their access to other cultures is different. It’s even like that in Africa. We call them Africans, but they don’t call themselves Africans. The opportunity for story telling is that we can also have these global stories where our experience is a part of the over all black experience.”

It often seems as if African American culture is disposable, historically speaking. The same can be said of our other contributions to American society as well. The thing is African Americans themselves are often the ones doing the disposing. I asked George whether he felt our European cousins appreciated our culture and our accomplishments more than African Americans themselves.

“Our culture is still a big, global, American culture,” he explained. “So, they all know our stars but we don’t know their stars. But, they also have a great appreciation of where they’re from and the thing they’re building. When you go to England they’re really trying to build their black English experience and what that means to them. When I go to France I have a lot of Cameronian friends in Paris and their view is they admire (African Americans) but they also want to be able to replicate some of the things we’ve been able to do here. We think we haven’t gone far enough, they see how far we’ve gone. They’re trying to get through some of the barriers we’ve been able get through. They’re still fighting the civil rights movement.”

They’re stilling fighting the civil rights movement? That comment really threw me for a loop. I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the idea that Europeans of African descent are in, some socio-economic instances, 50 years behind African Americans.

“Hell yeah! The limitations they deal with? Some of the things that white public officials can say about blacks over their can never happen here now. Because there’s not enough of them to make (whites) scared.”

One of Nelson George’s more recognized literary pieces is “The Death of Rhythm & Blues,” one of my favourite articles by George. With the demise of Hip-Hop culture being the subject of choice a year or so ago I was interested in knowing his perspective on the matter.

“It’s different because the Hip-Hop people made a lot more money than the R&B people,” Nelson told EURweb.com “Berry Gordy made a lot of money, but David Ruffin didn’t make the money Jay-Z makes. The amount of money these guys make today is because Hip-Hop was always more entrepreneurial. On Super Bowl Sunday, the most expensive advertising day of the year, and Diddy’s doing ads for Mercedes Benz. The bank that these guys make, compared to what those guys made, is insane. The access to white money and the white audiences is so much bigger. Hip-Hop culture is clearly not what it used to be, but as a commercial product it’s massive.”

Not wanting to hold the brother up from his other goings on I kindly asked what George had coming up.

“There’s a documentary on Brooklyn called ‘
Brooklyn Bohemia’ about the black art scene in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in the 80s and early 90s,” said Nelson. “Spike Lee, Chris Rock, Rosie Perez, Vernon Reid, Bradford Marsalis, all of them are in that. I also have a book coming out in the fall called ‘The Plot Against Hip-Hop’, a paranoid conspiracy thriller. It takes a look at the ongoing plot to destroy Hip-Hop. That’ll be out in October. I’m going to do a short film with some of the footage that we’ve shot from “Migrations” and that will be available this summer. I’ll probably try to take it on the festival circuit.”

Having watched the teaser for “Migrations” I can honestly say it is rather artsy, but the imagery is beautiful. The film stars Saul Williams, Osas Ighoduro, Epee Dingong, and Ariane Plubel and is slated to drop in 2012. If you would like to know what else Nelson George is getting into, or to watch a teaser for “Migrations”, log on to www.nelsondgeorge.net.

Yoko Puts New Lennon Bed-In Documentary Online

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Lesley Ciarula Taylor

(Aug 15, 2011) Yoko Ono is giving peace another chance.

The widow of Beatle John Lennon has extended for a week her free posting of a 70-minute documentary about the “bed-in” peace demonstration she and Lennon staged in Montreal 42 years ago.

Bed Peace follows the couple, clad in white, through Canadian immigration and into the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal where for seven days they sat in bed and held court before an enthralled media.

Celebrities such as Tommy Smothers, Dick Gregory, Timothy Leary and satirist Al Capp arrive and leave as the couple gives more than 60 interviews, according to former Lennon aide Anthony Fawcett in his memoir One Day at a Time.

“In 1969, John and I were so naïve to think that doing the Bed-In would help change the world,” Ono writes on imaginepeace.com, where the video is embedded with details about its making.

“In fact, there are things that we said then in the film, which may give some encouragement and inspiration to the activists of today. It's up to us, and nobody else.

“John would have wanted to say that.”

Originally posted for a week at Imagine Peace and on YouTube, Ono has extended the viewing until Aug. 21 because of public demand, she says.

“Our actual peace demonstrations were Yoko-style events,” Lennon was quoted as saying in 1975. “They were also pure theatre. The Bed sit-in in Canada was one of the nicest ones.”

Canadian immigration had reluctantly granted the famous couple a 10-day visa. The bed-in started at midnight on Monday, May 26, 1969, and ended with a seven-hour performance of Lennon’s iconic peace anthem, “Give Peace a Chance.”

The Whistleblower: War Against Women

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

The Whistleblower
Starring Rachel Weisz, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn and Vanessa Redgrave. Co-written and directed by Larysa Kondracki. 112 minutes. Opens Aug. 12 at the Varsity and Sheppard Centre. 14A

(Aug 11, 2011) In the aftermath of war, there continues to be victims.

The Whistleblower, a fictionalized story based on true events, follows the story of a real-life woman, Kathryn Bolkovac, a police officer from Nebraska who, as a United Nations official, uncovers sexual slavery in postwar Bosnia.

Lured by the promise of a $100,000 tax-free payout for six months of service, Bolkovac becomes part of the UN peacekeeping force in Sarajevo in the aftermath of the 1995 Dayton Accord, which brought an uneasy ceasefire to the war-shattered former Yugoslavia.

Appointed head of gender affairs, it doesn’t take long for Bolkovac to uncover a dirty secret: the enslavement of women from across Eastern Europe for the sexual pleasure of occupying UN forces, including U.S. military contractors.

“Half of our men are dead, so who are these girls brought in for?” a Bosnian woman wonders.

Director Larysa Kondracki, who grew up in Toronto where part of the film was shot, weaves a tense, compelling tale from a very complex web, starting with Sarajevo itself, where differences in language, culture and religion make the job of UN peacekeepers more difficult.

Kondracki, in her feature film debut, has chosen wisely in handing the role of Bolkovac to Rachel Weisz (The Lovely Bones), who inhabits it with intelligence and fierce intensity.

Unfortunately, Weisz dominates the screen so completely, there’s little room left for supporting players, though Vanessa Redgrave and David Strathairn manage to stand out in cameo roles as sympathetic UN superiors.

The other supporting characters don’t fare so well, including Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Bolkovac’s lover, and William Hope as a sneering American military type, neither of whom manage to leave a lasting impression.

There’s also a subplot involving a young Ukrainian woman named Raya sold into sexual slavery (played convincingly and heart-achingly by Roxana Condurache), whom Bolkovac valiantly tries to rescue.

As for the real villain of the piece, well, it’s the UN, a bureaucratic behemoth that, as any follower of geopolitics knows, often manages to do nearly as much harm as good wherever it goes.

The film is also an indictment of the actions of men, as brothel keepers, as ravishers of these woefully mistreated “whores of war” and as faceless UN bureaucrats who would rather squelch an investigation than deal with the scandal that comes with it.

The Whistleblower doesn’t come with a ready-made happy ending, even as our heroine struggles to bring the truth to light while narrowly escaping the unseen forces massing to silence her forever.

It reminds us that there are those, in war or in peace, who will always seek to degrade and exploit, with a precious few others to speak out against injustice.

Video: ‘Top Gun’ Turns 25

Source: www.thestar.com - By Andrea Baillie, The Canadian Press

(Aug 11, 2011) When Top Gun was released 25 years ago, Kelly McGillis says she was constantly confronted by fans crooning “You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin,” the song Tom Cruise serenades her with in the hit film.

"It was horrifying, I couldn't go anywhere without people looking at me and singing to me," McGillis recalled in a recent telephone interview.

"It was terrible! If I never heard that song again I would be happy ... because every time I went anyplace people would sing to me."

The actress was sharing her memories ahead of the August 30 release of Top Gun on Blu-ray as the 1986 film celebrates a quarter century.

McGillis shot to stardom in the high-octane blockbuster as Charlie, the sexy flight instructor who falls for cocky pilot Maverick, played by Cruise.

For '80s film-goers, the couple's initial encounter became a classic cinematic meeting: Maverick notices McGillis's character sitting at a bar, spontaneously grabs a microphone and begins to warble an off-key rendition of the Righteous Brothers hit, soon joined by a chorus of other pilots including his "wingman" Goose (Anthony Edwards).

Maverick is ultimately rebuffed, and is mortified the next day when he realizes Charlie is his instructor at the elite "Top Gun" academy.

With its awe-inspiring flight sequences and steamy love scenes, the Tony Scott-directed film was a smash in the summer of 1986, inspiring legions of movie-goers to purchase aviator glasses and leather flight jackets and exclaim "I feel the need ... the need for speed!"

McGillis, who turned in an acclaimed performance in the 1985 film Witness, says she was unprepared for the attention she received upon the release of Top Gun.

"I just became so famous it was overwhelming," she said. "I never thought about that. I never aspired to be famous so that was really scary and overwhelming to me."

While Cruise, of course, went on to have a long career in the movies, McGillis, 54, largely dropped out of the spotlight after Top Gun, with the exception of her turn in 1988's The Accused.

After two failed marriages, she came out as a lesbian in 2009 and last September, the New York Times reported that she and her partner, Melanie Leis, were joined in a civil union.

Although she still has acting projects on the go, McGillis also works full-time at a New Jersey rehab centre speaking about her struggles with addiction. It's a role she's clearly very proud of.

"I have no training and I'm not a therapist ... I just spend a lot of time with the girls ... my title is recovery coach and I'm really the lowest man on the totem pole," she said.

"What I do get to do, is spend all my time with the people and I get to share my experience of being a drug addict and an alcoholic and how I got help and how I got better. And I can't think of a better gift to be able to give back."

As for why Top Gun — which also starred Val Kilmer, Tom Skerritt and Meg Ryan — has endured, McGillis says it simply had all the elements of a great film.

"I just think that it is such a timely fun theme, it's good guys versus bad guys, it's a lot of good-looking people and it's got sexy airplanes and great music. What more could a viewer want?"

There's been talk of Top Gun reboot in the past year, but if such a project went ahead, McGillis doubts she'd be asked to participate.

"I've gotten older and Hollywood doesn't really embrace older women," she said. "It's gotten much better but it's got a long way to go."

That said, she has fond memories of the film, calling Cruise "the sweetest, kindest, gentlest, loving, most generous person I know."

"It was so much fun, it was like being at camp. I loved it. I had a great time making that movie," she said. "It was just an amazing group of people."

The film also had an amazing soundtrack that spawned hits including Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" and Berlin's "Take My Breath Away."

Still, McGillis needed a break from "Lovin' Feelin'" after the summer of 1986.

"If I went to a bar or anything (people sang it)," she said.

"It was terrible. It was humiliating! It was like, please don't!"

'I Don't Think One Needs To Be Black Or White To Tell A Story': Octavia Spencer

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Kate Taylor

(Aug 12, 2011) In the new movie The Help, Octavia Spencer plays Minny, one of two black maids working for white families in Jackson, Miss., in the early 1960s. The film is based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel of the same name in which the maids start to tell their stories to a young white woman who is shocked by their hard lives and the racism of the Jim Crow laws. The character of Aibileen, played by Viola Davis, is the sweet-tempered mammy to a succession of white children, but Spencer's Minny is altogether different, a battered wife and yet also a defiant woman who dares to speak her mind to her white employers. Spencer has been in on the project from its early days: On a fateful trip to New Orleans in 2003, she met Stockett when the writer was still shopping around early drafts of her novel. They were introduced by their mutual friend, director Tate Taylor, who eventually cast Spencer as Minny in his movie version of the book.

The historical stereotype of the career of an African-American actress is that you get to play the maid. But Minnie is no Mammy. Can you describe her for me?

Minnie is a short, round, opinionated mother of five, an abused woman who speaks her mind. She is the best cook in Jackson and sought-after for her culinary prowess. She is a mammy to her children, but to nobody else's.

There's a story that the character is actually based on you, because your friend, director Tate Taylor, introduced you while Stockett was still revising the book. Can you explain that?

We spent six hours together on a vacation, taking a walking tour of New Orleans. It was one of the hottest, most humid days - August in New Orleans. She saw me at my absolute worst, [dealing with] the two things I hate more than anything ... being in the heat, and I was on a diet. I was beyond grouchy, but I think it was a fortuitous moment for her because she was able to formulate the voice of Minny on the page. She drew from my physicality and from the fact I speak my mind. She already had Aibileen, but she thought perhaps Minny needed to be a little more feisty and outspoken.

So you were a role model for feistiness?

Or for complete irritability.

And then you went on to participate in her author's tour, reading sections of the book that are told by the black maids ...

I thought it was very smart of her not to go on tour and read these black characters and black dialect. It would have been horrible for her. She asked me to do it, and I thought why not? It was presented in a very different light by both of us presenting it.

It did not seem right for her to read those voices out loud. The book is partly about Aibileen finding her voice, discovering she is a storyteller, and yet her creator is a white author. That is a criticism that has been made of the book, that the white author is taking liberties adopting the voice of black characters. How do you respond to that complaint?

I don't think one needs to be black or white to tell a story, one just needs to be a good storyteller and as truthful as possible. Part of the authenticity of the book is that Kathryn lived the dialogue, she heard it in her head, from the woman she based it on, her childhood caregiver.

If she was making a general statement about African-Americans as a whole I would have a problem with that, but she wrote about characters who are people. All too often in literature or films of this era or those that predate it, African-Americas are summed up stereotypically or one-dimensionally. All African-Americans, not just the servants, were summed up pretty much the same way. I think Kathryn does a wonderful job in giving voice to a people who have longed been silenced by society. I don't have a criticism; I would have had a criticism if I thought it was racially motivated.

And then you were cast as Minny. What was it like to play that character?

The sixties weren't a happy time for African-Americans, so it wasn't a happy time filming it. The sixties were revolutionary for people of colour, that was when we gained our civil rights. So to go back and play a character during that time is not going to be fun for any African-American taking on that role. It wasn't fun doing it; it wasn't fun taking on that mindset. It is not just acting; you have to assimilate, immerse yourself within the world and the context you are bringing to life, and that is a very dark world.

The only thing that was fun about it was getting to work with those people, knowing my best friend was directing his first real film, that I was doing my first leading studio film; we were doing a project based on his childhood best friend's work. What was beautiful about it was these relationships that it fostered onscreen with the white women and myself and Viola Davis's character, and the relationships that happened off-screen. We are all still in each other's lives. But it wasn't a cakewalk. There is a whole lot of emotional baggage that you have to pack and unpack when you delve into a period that precedes you and a time that is so foreign to what you know.

But you grew up in the South in the 1970s. Was the racism portrayed in the film not the least familiar to you?

As a child in Montgomery, Alabama, this wasn't my reality. You really only start to notice the world around you when you are 14 or 15; it was the eighties, this was long past. It was a completely different time from when these characters existed.

I have felt more racism now, as an adult, than I ever felt as a child in Alabama. Look around at our nation: We have our first African-American president but the fact we are still talking about colour lets you know we are not where we should be.

What about the famed gentility of the South, was that more your experience?

The South I learned about in school was the South we portrayed in the film. The South I experienced was that genteel quality, so I am always the first to defend her, because I know the stereotypes that have been perpetuated about who we are as a people.

Racism wasn't just relegated to the South, it wasn't just relegated to America. It has been a problem throughout this world, but I am glad this project is compelling us to have these conversations.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Video: It's Official: Morgan Spurlock Is The Biggest Movie Sell-Out Ever

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Peter Howell

(Aug 12, 2011) It's official: Morgan Spurlock is the biggest movie sell-out ever.

The Guinness Book of World Records says so -- and the shock doc maker couldn't be happier about it. He even rang the closing bell Friday at the NASDAQ stock market in New York's Times Square to celebrate.

Guinness has determined that Spurlock's 2011 film POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold had 3,463 paid-for product plugs in it. This includes the title, which he sold to a California pomegranate juice company for a cool $1 million.

When Morgan Spurlock set out to expose the dark science of paid product placements in movies and TV -- which he did satirically by selling parts of his movie to the highest bidders -- he never guessed he'd set the world record for such plugs himself.

He's happy that his film, which arrives on DVD Aug. 23, has been embraced as eye-opening entertainment.  He feels he sold his soul for good reason, by pointing out that even cash-strapped schools are resorting to corporate plugs so they can buy books and other essentials.

But he's already made his movie. It's out there. Isn't ringing the bell at NASDAQ now the biggest corporate sell-out of all?

"Absolutely!" Spurlock told me. "Or the biggest corporate buy-in."

He feels most people got the joke of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

"The satire isn't lost on the majority of the people. I would say 90 per cent of the people who see it, get it. Everybody I've spoken to have told me they can't watch film and TV the same way again. It's almost like the blinders have been pulled away, and for the first time they can literally see and understand everything that goes on in everything that they watch.

"And not only what they watch, but even when they walk down the street and see all the advertising and marketing that is just around you."

A few don't get it, though.

"Every once in a while you get someone who says, "So, I saw the film. Yeah, it's probably a really good thing that all this advertising is happening in schools. There should be more of that, shouldn't there?

"And I'm like, 'Wow, the satire and irony were completely lost on you.'"

1 on 1 with Kevin Smith: Why Is He Retiring From Film?

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Aug 14, 2011) Premiering his thriller Red State earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, Kevin Smith shocked fans and the film industry by announcing he would self-release the movie and retire from filmmaking after his next feature. The indie director (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) spoke to the Globe and Mail in advance of a short Canadian tour of Red State screenings and Q&A sessions.

By taking your movie out on the road, do you think you've shaken up the system a bit?

Yes and no. The only things I shook up were for myself. When I stood up at Sundance back in January, essentially what I said was that I didn't have enough confidence in my movie to put it through the traditional marketing system - that if I spend that kind of money on this movie, it's not going to make it back. So, because I lack confidence in my flick, I'm going to take it out myself, thus guaranteeing a better chance of people showing up to see it. I know that, at this point, people care more about me than the movies I make.

And you're okay with that?

I have no discernible skills or talent as a filmmaker, particularly when it comes to the visual spectrum of the art form - and it is a visual art form. But as far as I know, I'm one of the only filmmakers that, when the movie's done, I race out on to the stage and say, 'Hold on, let me explain to you what happened. First I got in a fight with Bruce Willis. Then I got kicked off an airplane.' And the story keeps going.

Is there something particular to Red State that made you decide to go on the road with it?

I can't play the game like everybody else with this movie. It's too weird. It's a mid-nineties art-house film. It was always going to be a tough sell. It's a Quentin Tarantino movie crossed with a Coen brothers movie. That's what I was going for, though I probably didn't achieve that. I knew it was going to require special handling, and that mass marketing would lose it. It was going to get drowned. Worse, it would become a financial burden.

Speaking of financial burdens, what about fans having to pay $65 to see the film?

If you're a Kevin Smith fan, you paid $65 last year to see me without a movie. Now I'm coming back, but with a movie. It's a bonus.

A Vanity Fair piece described your decision to buy the distribution rights for $20 as a middle-finger to Hollywood. Was it?

I can't tell you how many bloggers wrote stuff like, 'Kevin Smith implodes' and 'Hollywood is mad at Kevin Smith.' The thing is, at the same moment people were writing 'Hollywood is mad at Kevin Smith,' Kevin Smith was literally sitting in the offices of quote-unquote Hollywood pitching a TV show that they asked me to come up with. My decision opened doors. It never closed doors.

If Hollywood wasn't mad at you like the bloggers said, what was the actual reaction?

Hollywood didn't care about what I was doing. I talked to Jeff Robinov before I did any of this. He's the guy who runs Warner Brothers. I was literally counselled by Hollywood before any of this happened. So it wasn't like I was taking on the system.

The plan worked: The U.S. tour of Red State screenings was a success and the film is in the black. And yet you're retiring as a director after your next film. Why?

I never really felt like a director. I felt like a storyteller, and storytelling isn't just reserved for film. I do it on stage and on my podcasts. I love film. It changes my life on a regular basis, whether it's through the movies I make or the movies I watch. But I've done it for 20 years. It's like that moment in Forest Gump, when he's done running.

What will be your legacy as a filmmaker?

I'm not one of those guys who was born to actually tell visual stories. I'm a carpetbagger who backed into film. It seemed like something that would be easy, and it turned out it kind of was, to some degree. It was the way we could start the conversation, where I could be like, 'Hello, I'm Kevin Smith. I'd like to talk to you until the day I die.' Film was the way in.

The tour of Red State: An Evening with Kevin Smith began Sunday in Montreal and continues to Toronto (Toronto Underground Cinema, Monday), Edmonton (Garneau Theatre, Tuesday), Calgary (The Uptown, Wednesday), Vancouver (The Vogue, Thursday).

Video: Miranda July's 'Wild And Daring Attempts At Connection'

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Anita Li

(Aug 10, 2011) Miranda July's lithe frame and mass of brown curls appear briefly in the living room doorway of a fifth-floor executive suite in Toronto. Eyes averted, she just as quickly disappears into the adjacent bedroom before re-emerging, moments later, a subdued presence in a loud magenta-collared orange shirt and twill skirt. It's hard to imagine the ethereal July inspiring the harsh criticism she receives from her detractors. But the filmmaker-artist-writer's latest movie, The Future, counters their labels of style-over-substance hipsterdom with a sometimes whimsical and often dark portrait of human loneliness.

Slightly hunched over, July, 37, sits cross-legged on the edge of a plush beige couch. Her startlingly blue eyes occasionally flicker down, betraying shyness.

"You know, I kind of go between public and private," she says softly at one point. "And I'm looking forward to going back into my little cave."

Much like her films, July is candid, yet has an elusive quality about her. The Future, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year to rave reviews, tells the story of thirtysomethings Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) who earnestly adopt a sickly stray cat to take their relationship to the next - presumably more grown-up - level.

With 30 days before Paw Paw (who narrates the film in a scratchy, high-pitched voice by July) is released from the vet, the aimless couple upend their lives in a bid to savour their last month of freedom before full-time, pet-owning responsibility sets in. The result, however, is messy. Feeling increasingly paralyzed by her fear of failure and desire to be exceptional, Sophie embarks on an affair with Marshall (David Warshofsky), a lonely, 50-year-old suburbanite who offers her an escape from herself.

This desire to forge a meaningful connection in a disconnected age is a common theme in much of July's work. Her cinematic debut, the acclaimed Me and You and Everyone We Know, follows a divorced shoe salesman and an oddball performance artist, as they struggle to make a love connection. Me and You won four awards at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, including the Caméra d'Or for best first feature film.

"I think in that lonely world, people are making wild and daring attempts at connection, you know? Usually with strangers - in both movies. And that's me, too. That's not only my work, but kind of how I live," she says. "In general, the bold things we do come from a pretty dark place."

July's work in other media also frequently involves lonely hearts seeking a way out of their misery. Her short story Majesty depicts an older woman who has explicit sexual fantasies about Prince William, leading her to devise a plan to meet him.

It is appropriate, then, that July dedicates her time to connecting people through art. In 2002, she and artist Harrell Fletcher co-created Learning to Love You More, a website comprising work made by the public, in response to assignments given by July and Fletcher. Their aim, according to the site, was to "guide people towards their own experience." As of 2009, when the site closed, 8,000 people had participated in the project.

July's performance art, for which she first gained recognition, often incorporates audience participation as a way to engage. The Future originated from her 2006 performance Things We Don't Understand and Definitely Are Not Going to Talk About, which calls on two audience members to play the part of the woman and man in an affair.

"I think for a lot of artists, you're working alone in your own little, very self-interested world," she says. "It's tempting to create things that will invite other people in more literally - not just be your audience, but so that you can be their audience, too."

Even as a young artist in 1995, July valued collaboration, and founded Joanie 4 Jackie, a distribution network for independent woman filmmakers. Back then, the self-proclaimed feminist and former riot grrrl says she used to be a lot tougher. July recently watched a clip of one of her performances at 23, and recalls having a moment when she asked herself: "Did I lose that toughness?" But in the face of harsh criticism from people who charge that her work is too "precious," "twee" and "hipster," (there's even a 'I hate Miranda July' website) the artist says she is actually tougher now, than she was before.

"I'm never making stuff that I think is going to just be unanimously loved. I guess I've been me long enough in the world to realize some people like this stuff, some people don't care and for some people, it's really like 'get away from me,'" she says.

Like The Future's journey from performance art to film, July's goal as an artist is to evolve.

"I felt like I had done all these things for a long time, but suddenly I made a movie [Me and You], which was seen by a lot more people, so I was just a filmmaker - and that kind of scared me. It didn't feel like me," she says. "So for the last six years, I think I was getting my book of short stories out and performing; that felt really important just to widen the space. And now it's more like just trying to go further and challenge myself more."

Final Destination Star Dies With Style

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(Aug 11, 2011) “I have the best death!” brags Windsor-born actress Jacqueline MacInnes Wood about the creative way she meets her end in comic-horror Final Destination 5, opening Friday.

The 24-year-old former Ryerson University student, who plays party girl paper-company employee Olivia, endured a full night of shooting with her eye numbed with anesthetic drops and a metal speculum exposing her peeper for her death scene.

Wood isn’t wrong in her assessment of how her character’s life ends: her dispatch, which comes in a laser eye treatment office, is truly the stuff of nightmares.

There were no stunt eyes or CGI trickery involved, Wood says with pride.

“How do you fake that? You can’t. We just went for it. That’s fear you see on my face,” Wood adds with glee. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into.”

At one point, a quarter-sized contact was added to mimic laser burns and in her enthusiastic clawing at the area, it popped out, scaring her to death that she’d done some damage to her frozen eye.

It’s all in a day’s work for the actress — whose lovely blue-green eyes were unharmed during the shoot. She already has fans worldwide thanks to her ongoing role as seductive schemer Steffy Forrester on soap The Bold and the Beautiful, a show seen in 106 countries, some places in prime time. The cast gets mobbed on promo tours, like a recent appearance Wood made in South Africa that drew 20,000 fans.

In the Final Destination series, the twist is that every character gets wiped out as Death seeks revenge for their surviving a disaster that opens each movie. The fun comes, with escalating macabre, in watching the ways they are dispatched.

The slender beauty and former “badass” is outgoing, personable and prone to laughter during a chat in a Toronto hotel suite, but admits there are aspects of Olivia to her take-no-prisoners personality. A loyal Canuck, she’s sipping a Tim Hortons double-double, something she says she misses in her newish home of L.A. Luckily, she was able to feed her passion on the Vancouver set of Final Destination 5.

“I’m all about fashion,” adds Wood, who is dressed in a figure-hugging peach crochet minidress and beat-up motorcycle boots (riding is one of her hobbies) that she admits scandalized her mother. And if you think her hair looks especially good, it may be because she portrayed the ecstatic recipient of a First Choice Haircutters ’do in a 2006 commercial. It was her first job and people still recognize her for it today.

As soon as she got her hands on the script for Final Destination 5, she flipped the pages to her death scene.

“We were very competitive and joking about who would have the best death,” she says of her fellow cast, which includes Heroes’ Nicholas D’Agosto, The Office’s David Koechner and Emma Bell (Frozen).

She had yet to see the movie with an audience, but as a fan of the series, knows that laughter often accompanies the gruesome parts. She figures it all comes down to unexplored feelings people have about death and the strange fact that “people like to watch people die (onscreen). It’s like gladiators.”

Wood seems to be taking a common path to stardom; a soap and a horror movie. What’s next for her? She has no firm plans, but she’d love to switch gears.

“I would like to do comedy,” she says. “I can be a bit of a Jim Carrey. I was always the class clown.”

Kim Fields to Work Peachtree Film Fest; Honour Ruby Dee

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 16, 2011) *The Peachtree Village International Film Festival will take place this weekend
in Atlanta with a number of Hollywood notables set to take part, including TV veteran Kim Fields.

The 42-year-old multi-hyphenate – who first melted hearts in a 1978 Mrs. Butterworths commercial, then as Tootie in NBC’s “Facts of Life” before starring on “Living Single” from 1993-1998 – will participate in a PVIFF panel discussion about casting, which she knows from both the acting and directing sides of the table.

“I’m excited about participating just as a filmmaker,” she tells EUR’s Lee Bailey of the festival overall. “I always get excited and inspired when I’m in a community of other filmmakers and seeing what other artists are doing. As an actress, I love to see what the up and coming directors, writers and producers are doing. So it’s just a really inspiring environment for someone like me as an actress, producer and director.”

The PVIFF, which takes place Aug. 18 through 21 at venues throughout Atlanta, will also include an “Actors Scene Study” with “Martin” stars Tommy Ford and Carl Payne.

Also during the festival, Fields will present an award to the legendary Ruby Dee during a 20th anniversary celebration of Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever.”  Fields says she has grown close to the 86-year-old star over the past several years after first reaching out to her for a project.

“She’s incredibly smart and so warm and gracious and inspiring, and she’s not even trying to be these things. It’s as effortless as breathing, as blinking,” says Fields. “And she’s sharp as a tack when it comes to her travels, her career, her take on the industry at this point, her dedication to black theatre and theatre overall. It’s just extraordinary.”

Glee 3D: Yes, Choir Really Is The Popular Kids' Club

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
By Dave McGinn

(August 16, 2011)
Gleeks, rejoice! Your need for lovable high-school kids singing and dancing is being fulfilled by Glee: The 3D Concert Movie. But just how strong are the song and dance routines? Who has the best performance? And just why do people go nuts for this whole thing, anyway? To answer these questions and more is George Randolph, founder of Toronto's Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts and co-founder of Show Choir Canada, which this year hosted its first-ever national championships.

Has Glee had a big influence on school choirs in Canada?

Because of its phenomenal success, it's changed the whole format of choirs in schools. Not only are they going to do chamber and classical music, but they're branching off into musical theatre and pop, which is attracting young people big-time.

So choir isn't lame any more?

Oh, no. No, no. Choir is far from being lame. It used to be that in order to have that appeal or star power in high school, you had to be part of an athletic team. But now the deal is, if you're leading a show choir, you're the big man on campus, so to speak. The beauty of it, the whole Glee phenomenon, is that it's empowering young people of all shapes and sizes, nationalities, preferences. It's making young people realize that everyone has a gift to share.

You look at the movie and the show and everyone loves it - moms, dads, sons, daughters, really little kids, teens, adults, every sort of person you could imagine. What is up with these people?

It's the message. It's about developing self-confidence, self-esteem. It's about loving yourself and respecting others. These are very important values that in this day and age are definitely necessary.

How many times a day do you spontaneously burst into song?

I don't spontaneously burst into song. But my students - every break they get a chance, you could walk down the hallways hearing them belt out a tune.

Who is the Sue Sylvester at Show Choir Canada?

I would have to say one of our judges, David Connolly. David is brilliant, and if you ask him for his opinion, he will tell it like it is. He pulls no punches. But at the same time he's a very nurturing spirit.

Is the hope of Show Choir Canada, which launched in 2010, to seize on the interest in Glee and help choirs flourish?

The hope is to make this whole Glee phenomenon more prevalent in this country as well. We're also trying to structure it more. And from my own personal interest, these are the type of performers we are looking to audition for our academy.

The performers in the movie are incredible dancers. Is that part of being in a show choir these days?

Hiring a choreographer is part of the deal. It's not just a music director. It's a music director and a choreographer. And a great choreographer is able to take an average person and make them look good.

When I think of the music sung by school choirs, I think of tunes that are about as cool as anything you might hear from a barber shop quartet. But in the movie the performers were doing all kinds of hits (for example, Katy Perry's Firework and Lady Gaga's Born This Way). Is it the same for school choirs in Canada?

Absolutely. They're knocking it out with current pop contemporary music and classical works as well.

As someone so involved with show choirs and the performing arts, what did you think of the movie?

At first, to tell you the truth, I was apprehensive about coming to see this movie. I thought, "Oh, Glee 3D, what's this going to be all about?" But there were some excellent performances in this movie. In particular was Lea Michele, who did the Barbra Streisand song Don't Rain on My Parade. That was worth seeing the movie, to see this girl perform. I know she idolizes Streisand, but she made that song her own. She took it to another level rather than just mimicking someone.

Was there anything you didn't like about the movie?

I felt that some of the choreography got repetitive at moments as far as some of the group numbers.

What did you think of the segments that explored the lives of fans?

I really liked the testimonials on how it's not just a show but how the performing arts in general have changed their lives. I found that very interesting, and a very valuable lesson for young people to see.

This interview has been condensed and edited.


Bollywood’s Shammi Kapoor Dies Of Kidney Failure

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Aug 14, 2011) MUMBAI, INDIA — Versatile Indian actor Shammi Kapoor has died after a long career in Bollywood. He was 79. His doctor Bhupendra Gandhi says Kapoor was admitted to Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital two days ago in critical condition. He was on dialysis and died Sunday of kidney failure. Kapoor was hailed for his light-hearted roles in movies. He belonged to Bollywood’s well-known Kapoor family. His brothers Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor also were successful actors, and his father, Prithviraj Kapoor, was a well-known theatre personality of the 1950s. Shammi Kapoor made his debut in Bollywood in 1953 and acted in successful movies including Junglee and Professor. He also appeared in Brahmchari and Janwar. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

The Return Of Bridget Jones

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

(Aug 12, 2011) A third Bridget Jones movie is in the works.  IMDb

 lists it as Untitled Bridget Jones Project. Bloggers and fans are buzzing about it. And EW.com swears it's really truly on. It's time for Renee Zellweger to start power eating and filling in those chipmunk cheeks. There a Bridget Jones threequel on the way. EW.com got the scoop that Working Title Films is ready to start work on Part 3, the follow-up to the 2001 Bridget Jones's Diary and 2004'a Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason. We don't know if Colin Firth is back reprising his role as reindeer jumper-wearing hunk Mark Darcy. Ditto Hugh Grant's bad boy, Daniel Cleaver. Fans of the series have no template. Writer Helen Fielding, who penned both bestsellers has just fired up her computer to write part three, but she said this to EW’s Dave Karger, who filed the story for Access Hollywood:  "I can tell you that Bridget and Mark can’t have children, I think that’s the way it goes on. So then she makes the huge mistake of going back to Daniel Cleaver for long enough to get pregnant. And I think he dumps her, and she’s left stranded, and guess who comes back to rescue her?” Bridget pregnant and minus ciggies and vats of wine? Guess she'll have to just keep eating for two.


Video: Cronenberg's A Popular Guy

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

(Aug 15, 2011) Toronto director David Cronenberg is a very popular fellow these days. His A Dangerous Method, starring Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Vincent Cassel, has a Gala slot at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, shortly after its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Now the Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced Cronenberg's film will get the Gala screening treatment at the 49th New York Film Festival on Oct. 5.


Zoe Saldana Shares Her Near Collapse in the Midst of Her Success

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Aug 15, 2011) *Guess whose the new face of Latina magazine? Well, we’ll tell you. Afro-Latina actress Zoe Saldana is on the cover of the magazine’s fall style issue. The 33-year-old Dominican and Puerto Rican is also the star in this month’s much talked about “Colombiana.” Her new role comes after her success in last year’s Avatar. “The year after Avatar was just emotionally overwhelming.  I was traveling all over the world, waking up in different time zones.  Your body gets exhausted, and by the end of the year I just collapsed.” In the midst of all the excitement and movement, she almost shut down. “I was in Paris training for Colombiana, sitting in my hotel room, and I couldn’t stop crying.  I couldn’t stay awake.  I must have slept for an entire month.  It took me the rest of the year, even as I was working and shooting ‘Colombiana,’ to pick myself up. Thank God my family was there.” Read more here.

Winnie’s Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard Booked for Toronto Film Fest

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 16, 2011) *Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard of the film “Winnie” will be among the bevy of stars scheduled to attend the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, joining a lineup that includes Robert De Niro, Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Ralph Fiennes, Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman and James Gandolfini. Hudson and Howard will walk the red carpet with their director Darrell J. Roodt into Roy Thomson Hall for the world premiere of “Winnie,” the Canada/South African co-produced biopic about Winnie Mandela, the wife of Nelson Mandela. The Toronto International Film Festival is set to run from September 8 to 18.

Ryerson Appoints Atom Egoyan Distinguished Scholar In Residence

Source: www.thestar.com - By The Canadian Press

(Aug 17, 2011) Oscar-nominated director Atom Egoyan has been appointed as distinguished scholar in residence in Ryerson University's faculty of communication and design for the next academic year. The Toronto native will mentor a group of Ryerson film students throughout the 2011-12 school year. Some students will have the opportunity to work with the Sweet Hereafter director on his production of Martin Crimp's Cruel and Tender for the Canadian Stage theatre company. The 51-year-old Egoyan will also speak at the dean's discussion series and participate in a public retrospective of his early films hosted at the university. Egoyan's last movie was 2009's Chloe, an erotic thriller that starred Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson. In a statement, Egoyan — who is an alumnus of the University of Toronto — praised Ryerson for encouraging artistry in its students. "Ryerson University has always been a place where students can explore and experience the joy of expression and creativity," he said. "Whether it's through theatre, design, journalism or the latest digital media and technology development, learning to express yourself through your work is a life skill.”I'm looking forward to sharing my career experiences with Ryerson students and faculty and to having some of the university's talented students contribute to my current projects."

VIDEO: Harry Potter Tries Some Horror

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

(Aug 17, 2011) During an exclusive chat with Daniel Radcliffe in London last November just prior to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, we talked about his next movie project after the beloved series wrapped. He was busy shooting thriller, The Woman in Black, for London horror house Hammer Films. The trailer for the Gothic tale set in 1898, was released Tuesday and the movie is a real departure for Radcliffe, who plays a 24-year-old lawyer, a widower and father to a 4-year-old. The movie has a February 2012 release date. "I'm playing this guy, where the world around him is all slightly odd and slightly off-centre and he's sort of the still centre,” Radcliffe told the Star. “He's somebody who finds himself in a horrendous situation in which he thinks he suddenly might have to fight for the life of his son. He also said playing a father has only reinforced his desire to have a family.  "I do want to be a dad. I cannot wait to have children. I love kids. It stems from the fact that when I was on Potter during my time there, a lot of people I knew had kids,” he said.

::TV NEWS::     

Russell Peters To Host Gemini Gala

Source: www.cbc.ca

(August 16, 2011) Comedian
Russell Peters will host the Gemini Awards gala, the annual celebration of the best in Canadian television, next month.

Broadcaster CBC Television and the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced Tuesday that Peters had agreed to the hosting gig.

Peters, who has a worldwide following as a standup comedian, hosted the Juno Awards in 2008 and 2009 and won a Gemini himself for his 2008 hosting duties.

Peters has headlined comedy festivals throughout North America and has performed sold-out arena tours worldwide.

In 2009 and 2010, he made the Forbes list of top earning comedians alongside Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld.

He wrote about his 20-year comedy career in Call Me Russell and his new movie, Breakaway, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 10.

The Gemini Award gala will be broadcast live on CBC TV at 8 p.m. (8.30 p.m. NT) on Wednesday Sept. 7.

For Gloria Steinem, Women's Fight Is Never Done

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(Aug 14, 2011) Popular culture was rather stingy with female role models in the early sixties. As the series Mad Men regularly reminds us, women of that era were normally relegated to one of two camps. They were either a "Jackie," as in the prim and dignified First Lady, or a "Marilyn," as in the gorgeous but troubled actress who flitted from husband to husband and never bore any children.

And then
Gloria Steinem changed everything. The divine Ms. Steinem's life and times are rewound in the new profile Gloria: In Her Own Words (HBO Canada, 9 p.m.), which in effect is a timeline of the modern feminist movement.

Assembled by veteran documentarian Peter Kunhardt, the profile's format is fitting to the subject's personality. Present-day interviews with Steinem in her modest Manhattan apartment are juxtaposed against archival footage and newspaper stories culled from her decades spent as a self-appointed women's advocate.

And what a life. As shown in the film, Steinem grew up in unglamorous Toledo, Ohio, a child of the fifties with a mother who abandoned her own career ambitions to raise her family. Young Gloria graduated from prestigious Smith College, spent a few years in India on a fellowship and even toiled briefly at a youth organization secretly backed by the CIA.

Then Steinem's life changed forever when she put on a pair of rabbit ears.

Back in 1963, Steinem famously worked for several months as a bunny at the New York Playboy Club. She wore the costume and smiled at the customers, but Steinem was there undercover as a freelance journalist.

The resulting article, published in New York's Show magazine, was a damning indictment of the Playboy mindset. Steinem revealed that the women were objectified, to put it mildly, and subjected to onerous working conditions. Shockingly, the bunnies were even tested for venereal diseases, presumably for the protection of Playboy Club clientele. This transpired less than 50 years ago, remember.

As she describes it now, the bunny experience clearly galvanized the woman who would become the face of the women's movement. In the film, Steinem says she "converted" fully to the cause after attending an abortion-rights rally in 1968.

No question there were other prominent feminists in the sixties - the film pays rightful homage to trailblazers like congresswoman Bella Abzug and National Organization for Women (NOW) co-founder Betty Friedan, among others - but Steinem was far and away the most famous. Most likely because she was the real deal. The program includes clips of Steinem at public events in the sixties and seventies, and she is a marvel to watch in action.

On panel and talk shows, she was smart but not imposing. She marched when it was necessary and kept a low profile when it was appropriate. Steinem co-founded Ms. magazine in 1971 - thereby popularizing that relatively new honorific - simply because there were no magazines for liberated women.

It didn't make her many male friends. The film includes surreal footage of former U.S. president Richard Nixon grousing about Steinem and the feminist movement. In another clip, the comedian George Burns hits on Steinem on a TV program, a dinosaur flirting with a tigress. Weird.

Clocking in at almost exactly 60 minutes, this is a tight TV portrait, but one that benefits immeasurably by having Steinem as narrator of her own life. At 77, she's feisty and forthright as she ever was - and ever vigilant about women's position in society. At an HBO luncheon last week, Steinem weighed in on the freakish popularity of the Kardashian sisters, who seem to be famous simply for being famous.

"They're not empowering other women," Steinem observed, "but there's no point in blaming the people who take advantage of the system without changing the system."

And when something truly contrary to feminism stands out, Steinem lashes out. Two weeks back, while at the TV critics' tour to promote the HBO film, she took to task NBC's upcoming series The Playboy Club, which is set in the Chicago chapter of the Playboy Club in roughly the era when Steinem played a bunny. "I hope people boycott it," she said about the show. "It's just not telling the truth about the era."

The lady still speaks from experience.

Also airing tonight

Waterlife (History, 9 p.m.) is a startling treatise about the current state of the Great Lakes. Written and directed by Kevin McMahon, the feature-length documentary tracks the water flow from Lake Nipigon to the Atlantic Ocean, with occasional detours to show how the one of the planet's largest supplies of fresh water is being slowly poisoned by sewage and other man-made problems. Narrated by The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie, it's a snapshot of a natural disaster waiting to happen.

Video: Arsenio, Longoria, Lakers Help George Lopez Say Goodbye

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 12, 2011) *
George Lopez ended his TBS talk show last night with celebrities, some choice profanity and that “creepy little white girl.”

After a bleep-filled opening monologue, Lopez ran through a collection of memorable moments from the last two years. His guests, including Eva Longoria, Arsenio Hall, Slash, and Lakers Ron Artest and Derek Fisher were on hand for the big farewell, with Longoria and Fisher getting their salsa dance on.

When Eva brought out a glass of wine, George told her, “Don’t spill wine on that couch. It’ll be in my house by Monday.” He then asked for a job on her soon-to-end show, “Desperate Housewives.”

Lopez wrapped up his show with thanks, first panning over the audience to show it was “inclusive,” and then gave props to one particular actress: “I wanna thank Sandra Bullock, who, 11 years ago, took a chance on me,” he said. (Bullock executive produced and appeared in Lopez’ 2002-07 sitcom, “George Lopez.”) “Thank you.”

Then the party came to a close as everyone  jammed to Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Night.”

Adios, “Lopez Tonight.” And vaya con dios, George Lopez. We know you’ll be back.

Eric Benét Stars in GMC’s Original Family Film ‘Trinity Goodheart

Source:Bazan PR, Jackie Bazan-Ross / jbazan@bazanpr.com; Evelyn Santana / evelyn_santana@bazanpr.com

(August 13, 2011) *GMC TV, America’s favourite channel for uplifting
music and family entertainment, presents the World Television Premiere Original Movie Trinity Goodheart, starring Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Eric Benét in his first dramatic lead role, Erica Gluck (“The Game”) and James Hong (“Kung Fu Panda,” “Zoey 101″).

The network’s first original feature film production, Trinity Goodheart makes its world television premiere on SATURDAY, AUGUST 20th at 9 p.m. ET, with encore telecasts SUNDAY, AUGUST 21st and Monday, 22nd at 9 p.m. ET.  The film premiered at the American Black Film Festival in July,

Based on an original screenplay written by Rhonda Baraka (Pastor Brown), Trinity Goodheart is the inspiring and heartwarming story of a smart, independent young girl (Gluck) being raised by her single, free-spirited musician father (Benét).

Finding comfort in creating decorative paper angels that provide inspiration to her and the patrons of Mr. Kwon’s Deli and Bookstore where she and her father work, Trinity begins to make peace with the fact that her unconventional father and her friend and confidant Mr. Kwon (Hong) may be the only family she ever knows.

But when an angel visits and tasks her to find the missing half of a broken heart pendant that once belonged to her long lost mother, Trinity embarks on a mission to find her mom and uncover the truth about her parents’ complicated past.

Discovering both sides of her estranged family are alive and accomplished, but missing a deeper sense of connection and purpose, she attempts to use her charm to encourage them to set aside their differences and come together as a family to bring her mother home.

Trinity Goodheart also stars Mark LaMura (“Something Borrowed,” “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns”), Jennifer Van Horn (“The Joneses”, “All My Children”), Karen Abercrombie (“Strong Medicine”) and Willie Stratford.  The film is executive produced by Rick Eldridge (“The Ultimate Gift”) and directed by Joanne Hock (“Redneck Roots”), marking her feature film directorial debut.

“It really was as if an angel had delivered this story to us,” recalls GMC vice-chairman Brad Siegel.  After meeting the Atlanta-based screenwriter at the 2010 American Black Film Festival, GMC executives shared with her the network’s planned strategy of producing original movies. “We told her we were looking for faith-friendly, family-friendly scripts that went beyond the traditional ‘church’ or ‘pastor’ stories and would appeal to a broad audience.” Armed with that knowledge, Baraka sent Siegel almost a dozen two-page treatments, one of which, Trinity Goodheart, was especially appealing to Siegel and his staff.

As it turned out, Trinity Goodheart was Baraka’s first choice for the network as well-and already had a completed script of the film ready to go. “This script seemed to write itself and was just waiting for the right time and the right home.  I found that home with GMC” says Baraka.

“We read it and loved it,” recalls Siegel. “It totally embraced the values of our network. It was about good people doing good things, and it was truly multicultural and multigenerational.”

Siegel sent a copy of the script to producer Rick Eldridge, whose credits include the hugely successful faith-friendly television movie “The Ultimate Gift” as well as the feature film “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius.” “I was reading it on an airplane and finally the guy sitting next to me asked me, ‘Are you okay?’” Eldridge remembers. “I realized I had been wiping tears out of my eyes the whole time. This script spoke to me on such a core level. You can’t help falling in love with the character of Trinity, her vocabulary and her free, easy-going nature. Then, as you get further into the story you sense the broken relationships and her deep desire to find her mother and reunite her family. It’s such an entertaining story with heartfelt moments and really funny moments, but it’s also an inspirational testament to the power of acceptance, forgiveness and love.”

Eldridge came aboard as producer in January 2011, and casting began almost immediately.  “From reading the script, the two characters that were easiest to visualize were Jeremy and Trinity,” says Leslie Chesloff, GMC’s executive vice-president of programming. “Jeremy is an African-American guy who is a bohemian artist, with an alternative lifestyle, and for whom material things don’t really matter. Trinity is a precocious, fast-talking, mixed-race 12-year-old.”

One of the first names the filmmakers thought of for the role of Jeremy was singer-songwriter Eric Benét. Siegel, Baraka and Paul Butler, GMC’s head of business affairs, met with Benét backstage after a Valentine’s Day concert. With shooting scheduled for a little more than a month later, Siegel urged Benét to read the script and give him an answer right away. “I said, ‘We really see you for this part. This is a leading role in our first movie and it’s really important to us. I know you haven’t done a lot of acting, but it just feels like you. You need to come back to us quickly and say whether you want to do this and are willing to put everything aside for the next month and a half. If you don’t think you can be Jeremy Goodheart, we’ll move on and no hard feelings.’ He called us Monday night and said ‘I want to do this.’”

What Siegel and his colleagues didn’t know was that Jeremy Goodheart’s story in many ways mirrored the singer’s own life. Benét had been engaged at an early age to a woman who died in a car accident after giving birth to their daughter, leaving Benét to raise the child-now a college sophomore–alone. “I was really amazed how similar this character was to me and how much young Trinity reminded me of my own daughter, India” says Benét.  “I could see myself having these conversations and worries and it resonated so deeply that I just had to take the role.  It just felt right and I’m very proud of the outcome.”

“The reality of the similarities comes through when you see Eric with Erica together on screen,” observes Siegel. “I think it’s one of the reasons his performance is so good for a first-time lead actor. This isn’t just an R&B guy playing a role. There’s a lot of shared back-story there and the passion comes through.”

In Erica Gluck, the filmmakers found a young actress who also shares some-far less dramatic-life experiences with her onscreen character, Trinity Goodheart. The product of a multiracial marriage and the daughter of a musician, Gluck was eager to take on the role.  Says Gluck, “there are a lot of similarities between me and Trinity.  I really see myself in her and her in me.  Moreover, I see her as a character young people will identify with in terms of who she is and what she goes through to reconnect her family.  This film is very inspiring, especially for those who want and need that support in their lives.”

The final piece of the puzzle was finding an actor for the role of Mr. Kwon, a pivotal character in the story who represents extended family and support for the two Goodhearts.  The filmmakers were thrilled to cast actor James Hong, “the” quintessential character actor whose credits include hundreds of films and television roles. “He brought so much to the movie,” says director Joanne Hock. “Most of that role was on the page, but he added a whole other dimension to it and it was effortless for him.  That kind of intuitiveness comes from years of experience honing his craft.  He applies it in this film and the outcome is just fantastic.”

Grammy-nominated Benét was also able to lend a bit of his own sound to the film.  Although he does not perform in the film, two signature songs, “Hurricane” from the 2005 album of the same name, and the never-before-released “Somebody’s Waiting for Me” appear in the film and on the soundtrack.  “We found two songs that really spoke to the setting and emotion inherent in the film and we did not have to look far,” says Rick Eldridge.  “Eric’s music tied in so perfectly with this film, it was as if they were written especially for it.”  Adds Benét, “in my music, I really try to tap into the emotions that certainly I feel, but also that anyone can experience.  Music can articulate things in ways that people sometimes cannot express themselves.  My character, Jeremy Goodheart, really tries to hold in this feeling of concern and loss until it overwhelms him, just like a hurricane.  It’s amazing to me how suitable that song is to underscore what these characters are going through.”

Additional music appearing in the film and on the soundtrack include “Will it Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston, “Live it Up” by Group 1 Crew and “Let It Go”, performed by up-and-coming local Georgia artist Mandy Gawley.  “Rhonda Baraka found this song ‘Let It Go’ and this artist Mandy Gawley and brought her to us here at GMC,” says Brad Siegel.  “We instantly fell in love with her song feeling it really served as this wonderful, transitional piece, so we made it our end credit song.  It’s a perfect representation of where these characters are by the end of their journey.”

The film’s action is set in Boston and Buffalo, New York, but shooting took place almost entirely on location in Charlotte, North Carolina. Although screenwriter Rhonda Baraka came to the set almost every day of the shoot, seeing the final cut of the movie for the first time was still a happy surprise. “I couldn’t be more thrilled with how the film has turned out,” she says. “Everyone in front of and behind the camera did an incredible job of bringing the story and characters to life.”

Chesloff agrees: “We knew we had a great script; now we have a great movie. We’re extremely pleased with the cast and the quality of the production. We couldn’t ask for a better film for GMC’s first original movie.”

GMC Network Presents a ReelWorks Studios production “TRINITY GOODHEART” starring Eric Benét, Erica Gluck, Mark LaMura, Karen Abercrombie, Jennifer Van Horn, Willie Stratford, and featuring  James Hong. Music by Rob Pottorf. Casting by Mitzi Corrigan.  Editor is Tim Vogel. Director of Photography is Mark Mervis. Executive Producers are Rick Eldridge and Chris Cates. Screenplay by Rhonda Baraka. Produced by Rick Eldridge.  Directed by Joanne Hock.

About The Cast

ERICA GLUCK (Trinity Goodheart)
Thirteen-year-old Erica Gluck is a young rising star best known for the role of Brittany Pitts on the television show “The Game.” Beginning acting at the tender age of four, her young career has included key roles on series such as “Girlfriends” and “Las Vegas,” and appearances in the films “The Santa Clause 3,” “American Son” and “Mirrors” alongside Keifer Sutherland and Paula Patton. Trinity Goodheart represents her first starring role in a feature film.  Gluck is a native of Los Angeles, California where she currently resides with her family.

ERIC BENÉT (Jeremy Goodheart)
Eric Benét is a Grammy-nominated actor, singer and songwriter, whose music is influenced by R&B greats Al Green, Sly Stone, Chaka Kahn and Marvin Gaye. His first professional break came when he joined local group Gerard, in the late ’80s. Since then, Benét has struck gold on the American R&B charts and released albums such as “True to Myself,” “A Day in the Life” and “Love and Life.” He has collaborated with a range of highly respected artists, including Something For The People; Earth, Wind, and Fire; and Wynonna Judd.  Benét is currently on tour with his fifth studio album “Lost in Time.”  The album’s first single “Sometimes I Cry” reached #1 on the Urban AC Chart.  As an actor, he had a recurring role on the series “For Your Love,” “Half & Half” and “Kaya.”  Benét is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and currently resides in Los Angeles.

James Hong’s career in Hollywood has spanned six decades and over 500 film and television roles, including “Blade Runner,” “Wayne’s World 2,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Bones,”  “Chuck” and “Law & Order: SVU.” He is one of the founders of the East-West Players, the oldest Asian-American theatre in Los Angeles. The 82 year old actor is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota and currently resides in Los Angeles.

About The Director

A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Joanne Hock is a film producer, cinematographer, writer and director. She has played key behind-the-scenes roles on such films as “Careful What You Wish For,” “Redneck Roots” and “In the Footsteps of Elie Wiesel.” Trinity Goodheart represents her directorial debut.  Hock is a native Charlotte, North Carolina where she currently resides.

About GMC
GMC (www.watchGMCtv.com) is America’s favourite channel for uplifting music and family entertainment. The Parents Television Council recently awarded its Entertainment Seal of Approval to GMC for being “an authentic family-friendly cable network.” GMC is the only television network to receive the highly coveted honour in 2010.

GMC can be seen in nearly 48 million homes on various cable systems around the country, on DIRECTV on channel 338 and on Verizon FiOS on channel 224.

Watch the trailer for “Trinity Goodheart”:

Trinity Trailer from evelyn santana on Vimeo.

Is Network TV Dying? Hardly

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By John Doyle, Nielsen

(Aug 13, 2011) Robert Greenblatt, president of NBC Entertainment, is talking about NBC's recent history, specifically the period when General Electric owned and ruled the venerable network. "I think there was a sense that it's a declining business, and let's just sort of manage the decline and hope we can get the best out of it."

This feeling is not confined to some non-showbiz number crunchers at GE. There is a vague but widespread belief that the traditional network, or "broadcast television" industry, is fading. Every new advance in technology - from the growth of specialty cable channels to the spread of Internet access to the iPad to the success of Netflix - causes a small army of pundits to suggest that the end of old-fashioned television is nigh.

There is no doubt that, according to traditional measurements, the number of people watching network TV in the United States is steadily shrinking.

Look at comparisons between viewers last season and the 2010-2011 prime-time broadcast season (which ended in May): ABC was down 9.7 per cent, CBS was down 8.1 per cent, Fox was down 5.8 per cent and NBC was down 15.5 per cent. Still, these numbers don't tell the whole story. In the case of Fox, if the staggering number of viewers for this year's Super Bowl broadcast - a TV audience of 111 million people - was removed from the equation, the broadcaster would actually be down 18.4 per cent. And if the Winter Olympics coverage were added to NBC's total, the decline would only be 2.2 per cent from the previous season.

At the same time, viewing numbers for many of the top 10 shows during the 2010-11 season actually went up slightly. This is the result of DVR viewing being added to the calculations. The Nielsen ratings now count viewers who watch a show on their DVR within seven days of the broadcast. As Kevin Reilly, president of Fox Entertainment Group, said during the recent TV critics' press tour in Los Angeles, where broadcasters present the fall shows, "Sometimes my head spins with the complexity of the ratings."

There are countless issues facing network TV. One is the fact that it has been years since a scripted drama or comedy was the No. 1 show for an entire season. The last was CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in 2003. Mind you, rough figures for international sales and viewer numbers would suggest that CSI was the most-viewed show in the world in 2010.

However, for all the turmoil, in talking to executives from the four major U.S. networks here, it emerges that nobody is worried about the end of network TV. Everybody is concerned about changing viewing habits, and the challenge of creating hit TV shows that transcend network TV to become popular-culture phenomena.

Nobody sees other technologies as replacing television. Everybody sees opportunities to reach more consumers on new communication platforms and everybody knows that advertiser-supported broadcast television is still the major content provider for those platforms and the most visible entertainment form on the planet. If there are concerns, they are about creating the content that matters to consumers - the content people want to watch, whether it's on the traditional TV set at home, streamed to their computer or downloaded to their tablet or smartphone.

Certainly that's Greenblatt's principal concern. He took over at NBC six months ago and his job is to take the network out of fourth place. That's what Comcast Corp., NBC's majority owner since January of this year (GE still owns 49 per cent), wants. Comcast is the largest cable operator and home Internet service provider in the United States. It's not GE; it's a communications company.

Once, NBC was No. 1 among the four U.S. networks and crowed about its ability to deliver an endless stream of super-successful shows - ER, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, to name just a few. Then the stream dried up. CBS took the lead with enormously popular sitcoms and police procedurals, and Fox destroyed the competition in the ratings with American Idol. NBC became best known for disastrous programming errors, including airing the cheap-to-make Jay Leno Show at 10 p.m. and the ensuing farce of its cancellation and the resignation of Conan O'Brien from The Tonight Show.

Given his mandate, Greenblatt seems a surprisingly content man. After a career in the theatre and some time at Fox, he was put in charge of cable channel Showtime and delivered cable hits with a string of adult, provocative series - Dexter, Weeds, Nurse Jackie and The Tudors. At NBC, his job is to succeed with populist, mass-appeal shows. And it doesn't faze him.

"Cable has been great for writers [of TV shows]. Broadcast is more difficult," he says. "The target is the broadest possible audience. I certainly don't want to turn NBC into Showtime. I'm trying to get the greatest writers and producers to come to NBC. But I also don't want to tie their hands so the creativity gets sucked out of them. What's worked for me over the years is to find people whose voice you really like and just stay out of their way. I think we've got to find ways to conceptually excite the audience, which has so much else to watch and so many diversions and so many great shows on cable."

"Comedy is a goal for us. We've got to have more of it," he emphasizes.

In particular, he wants more "multi-camera" comedy. That means the traditional sitcom, filmed in front of a live audience. He's seen how well such shows have performed for CBS. Sitcoms such as Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory are not only ratings hits for CBS but are immensely popular in boxed-DVD sets, as online entertainment and through Netflix, which allows viewers to watch entire seasons at their leisure. The revenue just keeps coming when a hit sitcom is syndicated or available online and from on-demand services.

To that end, Greenblatt is stacking the NBC schedule with female-centric comedies this year, including the very traditional Whitney, which looks like a female version of CBS's male-focused hit comedies.

"Given all of the doom and gloom in our industry and for our little network, I think it's been a pretty good spring and summer," Greenblatt says. His main reason for optimism is the surprising success of The Voice, another singing-competition show, which has been a huge hit in a very crowded field. It will return next season.

Over at CBS, chief of research David Poltrack, a man who has spent years studying TV viewing patterns and statistics, dismisses pessimism about network TV.

"As this century opened, the focus of the world was on the Internet, and the focus of the television industry was on the DVR. At that time, the business of prognostication was booming, and no one was too optimistic about the future of the broadcast networks. Yet here we stand 11 years later, and the business of network television is alive and well. That doesn't mean that the entertainment market has not been transformed by the new technologies. It has. What the pundits got wrong was not the impact of the new technologies but the alleged vulnerability of the television networks. ... As the broadcasters and the cable networks move more content online, the viewers' online video diet has included more and more episodes of television programs.

"It would be no surprise to find, for the first time, a significant number of viewers reporting that they're watching more television than last year. The fact is, the viewer's perception of television viewing is program- or content-driven, not distribution-driven. Whether they are watching their favourite program on their computer, their tablet or their smartphone, they consider themselves to be watching television. So contrary to the expectations of the pundits, the explosion of new sources of video distribution has actually fortified the market for the broadcast networks' content."

Asked what's the major challenge networks face in the next two years Poltrack says it's mainly about adapting to new distribution systems - and how they affect mass viewing.

"When we test a TV program today, the same percentage of people say they are likely to watch it as said that in 1960. But they are, in reality, much less likely to watch it. Because they go home and there are so many more shows to watch, so many more things to distract them. The Internet, video games, DVDs. They still want to watch TV. We just have to get our shows noticed. That's why we have to be on all platforms possible and use all the distribution systems possible."

At Fox, Reilly echoes Poltrack's concerns about getting the attention of viewers. "I think the measuring stick gets a little trickier," he says. "We're increasingly in a less linear universe where people are consuming things on their own schedule and their own time, and we have got to demand their attention."

For this reason, Reilly is a firm believer in the potency of live events that just can't be put aside for later. "Advertisers love that. A 30-second spot on broadcast television moves product. It's better when we can assure the advertisers that the ad is being seen exactly when they want it seen, not days or weeks later. [Network TV] is still the biggest platform for advertisers. The big events for advertisers - Idol, the Super Bowl, the Oscars - are broadcast television events. That's when they launch national products. Nobody launches a national product just by using the Internet."

Reilly also cites sports as an example of the vigour of network TV. "An example of the power of broadcast TV, I think, is the expansion and success of the NFL. Unlike other sports that went to cable TV, the NFL just grows and grows. Broadcast TV has made the NFL a national game."

Reilly also points to Glee. "That came out of nowhere on Fox to become a phenomenon. The songs sell on iTunes, there are stage shows by the cast and there's Glee: The 3D Concert Movie. Only network TV can launch something like Glee" (in terms of reaching a mass audience, not the niche audience of cable).

At ABC, an Oxford-educated Englishman and former BBC executive, Paul Lee, is president of the Entertainment Group, a position he's held since July, 2010.

Lee has little time for gloom about network TV. His job, he says, is to reinvigorate a network that has aging hits such as Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives, the latter a show now going into its final season.

"The platform, network television, is potent and meaningful," Lee says. "I think it's our job to create television that questions how people feel in the world. So we didn't sit down and go, 'Oh, there are the employment figures. Let's build some shows [about that]. For this season, we found shows that made us cackle with laughter, and we put them on."

In fact, for this coming season, ABC, part of the Walt Disney Co., has made more new scripted shows than any of its three rivals. The focus is on women viewers, and the hope is that the almost all-female drama Pan Am will take over from Desperate Housewives and a new drama coming mid-season from Shonda Rhimes, the Grey's Anatomy creator, can replace Grey's as a must-see drama for women.

Lee is unwilling to make grand predictions about network TV. But he does say that networks have to take "some risks in broadcast" and, he adds, "I've been in the business long enough to know that you stumble as much as you succeed."

The upshot, then, is that network execs feel that broadcast television might be stumbling, but is far from experiencing a fatal fall into irrelevancy.

As Fox's Reilly says, "The advertisers don't debate about whether broadcast television matters more or less than it used to matter. They've stuck with us. I started in this business in the 1980s when the term 'dinosaur' was applied to network TV. The reports of its death have been very premature."

The top 10 prime-time network shows of 2010-2011

Here are the top 10 prime-time network shows from the 2010-2011 season. Ranking is by average viewership ratings per episode.

1. American Idol, performance show (Fox): 25.9 million

2. American Idol, results show (Fox): 23.8 million

3. Dancing with the Stars, performance show (ABC): 21.9 million

4. Sunday Night NFL Football (NBC): 21.4 million

5. NCIS (CBS): 19.4 million

6. Dancing with the Stars, results show (ABC): 18.6 million

7. NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS): 16.5 million

8. Sunday Night NFL Pre-Game Show (NBC): 15.9 million

9. The Mentalist (CBS): 15.2 million

10. Criminal Minds (CBS): 14.1 million

Breaking Bad Renewed For Final Season

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ben Leuner

(Aug 15, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—The AMC network and producers of its popular Breaking Bad series about a chemistry teacher gone bad have agreed on making a fifth and final season of the show.

Production on the final, 16-episode run will begin early next year and hasn’t been scheduled for air.

Negotiations with series maker Sony Television had reportedly been tense, with Sony even contacting other networks to see if they’d be interested in picking up the show if AMC bowed out. The cable network, with another costly and popular series in Mad Men, was looking to keep expenses down and had been seeking a shorter run of episodes.

Producers may have gained leverage with the strong performance of the series in its fourth season this summer. The season debut on July 18 had the series’ highest ratings ever, and overall Breaking Bad has 28 per cent more viewers this season than it had the last, the Nielsen Co. said.

Actor Bryan Cranston has won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of lead character Walter White, who uses his chemistry knowledge to become a drug kingpin after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

“This is a great gift to me and my wonderful writers,” said Vince Gilligan, series creator. “It’s knowledge which will allow us to build our story to a satisfying conclusion. Now, if we don’t manage to pull that off, we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves.”

The series premiered in January 2008.

Video: Arsenio, Longoria, Lakers Help George Lopez Say Goodbye

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 12, 2011) *
George Lopez ended his TBS talk show last night with celebrities, some choice profanity and that “creepy little white girl.”

After a bleep-filled opening monologue, Lopez ran through a collection of memorable moments from the last two years. His guests, including Eva Longoria, Arsenio Hall, Slash, and Lakers Ron Artest and Derek Fisher were on hand for the big farewell, with Longoria and Fisher getting their salsa dance on.

When Eva brought out a glass of wine, George told her, “Don’t spill wine on that couch. It’ll be in my house by Monday.” He then asked for a job on her soon-to-end show, “Desperate Housewives.”

Lopez wrapped up his show with thanks, first panning over the audience to show it was “inclusive,” and then gave props to one particular actress: “I wanna thank Sandra Bullock, who, 11 years ago, took a chance on me,” he said. (Bullock executive produced and appeared in Lopez’ 2002-07 sitcom, “George Lopez.”) “Thank you.”

Then the party came to a close as everyone  jammed to Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Night.”

Adios, “Lopez Tonight.” And vaya con dios, George Lopez. We know you’ll be back.

Sex And The City Returning To TV

Source: www.thestar.com -
By Bang Showbiz

(August 16, 2011)
Sex and the City could return to TV screens.

The hit TV series, which ended in 2004 after six series before being turned into two movies, is being lined up for a new run after creator Darren Star and the show's main star Sarah Jessica Parker decided on the direction it should take.

A source told the Mail on Sunday newspaper: "Ultimately Darren Star, the man who created the hit series, will have the overall say, but everyone is agreed a TV show is the direction they want to take the franchise in.

"Sarah Jessica Parker will be producing. She was worried about doing another film after the bad reaction to the Sex and the City 2 movie, but a TV show is definitely something she wants to happen."

The show focused on the lives of four single women in New York: writer Carrie Bradshaw (Parker), lawyer Miranda Hobbs (Cynthia Nixon), man-eater PR guru (Samantha Jones) and art gallery worker (Charlotte York), and their rollercoaster love lives.

The series ended in 2004 with the women all settling down while the two movies caught up with the women to see what was happening with them all.

While the first film was a huge hit, the second failed to live up to expectations and was widely panned by critics.

It is not known what the focus of the new TV series will be.


Alec Baldwin To Open New Season Of ‘SNL’

Source: www.thestar.com - By Andrea Baillie, The Canadian Press

(Aug 12, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Alec Baldwin earns bragging rights as the most familiar Saturday Night Live host when he opens the NBC show’s 37th season on Sept. 24. It will be his 16th time as host. The 30 Rock actor moves past Steve Martin, who has done it 15 times. Radiohead will be the musical guest, the network said Friday. Melissa McCarthy of CBS’ Mike & Molly and the movie Bridesmaids will be the host of the show’s second week, her SNL debut. The country trio Lady Antebellum will be her musical guest.

Video Sneak Peek of what’s Coming Up on the Next ‘Tia & Tamera’

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Aug 15, 2011) *If you haven’t seen twins Tia and Tamera in the new reality show, “Tia & Tamera,” you’re in for a treat. In fact, the show airs tonight on the Style network a 9/8c.  And to whet your appetite, we’ve got a couple of fun clips from the show.  In the first one, Tia – who before she got pregnant was a weight freak – is now packing on the pounds … for the baby, of course. Meanwhile, Tamera, has a wedding coming up and is putting in overtime in the gym. In the second clip, for Tia it’s a should-she or should-she-not go to Tamera’s bachelorette party? Well, Hosea Chanchez, her co-star on “The Game” details all the reasons she should take a pass.


In My Own Words: Da Kink In My Hair…

Source: www.Soulafrodisiac.com

(August 14, 2011) When I was recently asked to attend one of the opening soirees for the award
winning theatrical production Da Kink In My Hair

 by the marketing team of the all around amazing trey anthony, I was truly ecstatic. Da Kink (as it’s lovingly called) is a one of a kind stage play, produced by Canada’s own Oprah, if you will – trey anthony (spelled in lower case).  Believe me, I will need a whole other post to explain the greatness that trey anthony is, but for now we will focus on her baby – Da Kink In My Hair.  Da Kink first premiered in 2001 at The Toronto Fringe Festival and was an instant hit. It enjoyed runs at the New York Fringe Festival, Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre and the Passe Maraille Theatre. However, in 2005 it caught its groove as a Mirvish Productions play and took Toronto by storm selling out the 2000 seat Princess of Wales Theatre show after show. I attended the show twice and told everyone I could about my experience. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one to do so. The word about the phenomenal play spread like wildfire and soon after its sensational run, they also had a two season TV show spinoff on Global TV. Accolades and awards poured in: 4 NAACP awards, Toronto Dora Award nominations and positive praise and testimonials. Not too shabby for the little play that could.

Fast forward to 2011 and Da Kink is back, re-staged and revamped for old fans and new comers alike.  The setting of the play takes place in a Caribbean salon with eight women telling the story of their lives touching upon issues in the Black community that we are most likely to skirt around. Interracial couples and racism, gun violence and lesbianism to name a few.  The creative and superb musical score is composed by Broadway musical director and arranger Michael Elroy and Carol Maillard of the Grammy® award-winning group Sweet Honey in the Rock.  Watching the characters interact with each other reflects the true to life dynamic of any Caribbean salon. The laughter, the sharing, the gossiping and the love. Each character’s compelling story is told with heart, torment, anger and triumph.  You will be driven through a myriad of emotions, nonetheless, know that your heart will be filled with pride and joy by the end of the production.

The setting of the Enwave Theatre is perfect – intimate and enclosed. Throughout the play, you can hear those in the back sass talking characters as they told their story. Of course, nothing can be done without a memory triggering soundtrack. The Jamaican vibes of reggae music emanated from the speakers, from the likes of Beres Hammond, Nadine Sutherland and Wayne Wonder. Heads were nodding and lyrics were spilling from the lips of attendees. It all added to the energy of the night. There was also a mini art exhibit entitled LOOK.AT.ME. which showcased a few of the phenomenal art pieces that have been featured in the show by some of the most gifted and talented artists on the scene.  The play was intense, the atmosphere was jubilant and everything on the whole was unsurpassable. The show ended with a loud and thunderous applaud and standing ovation. Exactly what was expected and well deserved.

I was curious to see what could be injected into a production that was already close to perfect. To be quite honest, I enjoyed the new ensemble immensely.  The singing, the choreography and numbers were tight and just sensational. What is there to be said about the new revived production? It’s on tour here and in the US – go and see it for yourself.

***Da Kink In My Hair will be staged at the Enwave Theatre at Toronto’s Harbourfront Theatre from August 11th – 28th. Tickets can be purchased here and for more info please call (416) 973-4000.

Totem Is Cirque Du Soleil’s Most Entertaining Show In Years

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

Directed by Robert Lepage. Until Oct 9 at the Grand Chapiteau in the Port Lands, 51 Commissioners St. 1-800-450-1480.

(Aug 14, 2011) Every time I review a
Cirque du Soleil show, I find myself trying to find new ways to says things like spectacular, artful and breathtaking.

Totem, now playing under the Grand Chapiteau in the Port Lands, there’s no such problem, because one word leaps to mind ahead of all the others. Entertaining.

Yes, Totem is directed by Robert Lepage, one of the weightiest theatrical names in the world today and it’s also — if you look closely — a deliciously ironic look at the entire process of man’s evolution in the universe.

I was very impressed with the show when I first saw it in Montreal in 2010, praising it for its unity of structure and the refreshing sensuality it contained. After a year on the road, it still possesses those things, but it now moves with even more grace, more ease and a greater sense of fun.

There are none of those often tiresome, totally extraneous clowns who jabber at you in what sounds like Esperanto, run around while scenery is being changed and give you time to construct next week’s grocery list in your head.

Lepage has banished them. There’s a lot of humour in Totem, but it comes from the performers, even the aerial ones.

Two men who work wonders with a series of acrobatic rings are first established as buffed, strutting beach boys out to impress the ladies. When one super-stunning lady flies in from above, the games really begin.

Another sequence involves a couple on a fixed trapeze who achieve postures that defy gravity. It’s also a saucy, sexy give-and-take between a very attractive couple who do their courting way up in the air.

Want to have your mind totally blown? Watch “the Scientist,” who seems to hover benignly in the background, until he takes centre stage inside a giant beaker with a display of multi-coloured, gravity-defying ping pong balls that will leave you gasping.

Things move seamlessly throughout the whole show. Even the mats needed to protect the artists and the risers used for a certain sequence are brought on and removed with visual ease and beauty.

One transition is effected by having a cell phone-addicted businessman join a circling line of apes in various stages of evolution. He takes the final position in the line, making the point that we may not have progressed all that far. Then — just as that perception has had time to sink in — he rips off his suit and moves into another spectacular acrobatic sequence. Sheer brilliance.

On this second viewing of Totem, I spent much of the time marvelling at how glorious it is just to look at.

Carl Fillion’s set is dominated by the skeleton of a giant tortoise, which is used in stunningly inventive ways. He also provides a tilted disc, like a giant lily pad, on which the never-endingly fascinating projections of Pedro Pires create everything from molten lava to a rain-spattered lake.

Through it all, Étienne Boucher splashes everything with his bold lighting, using all the hues of nature — yellow, orange, green — with as sure a hand as the Almighty must have done when he painted the world for the first time.

Kym Barrett’s costumes are witty, sexy or primal as the need arises, including some wondrously realistic refugees from Rise of the Planet of the Apes who run through the audience, stealing your popcorn and generally dispensing merriment.

The packed audience I saw the show with, on an ordinary matinee day, sat there entranced, cheered frequently and leapt to their feet at the end, with me happily joining them every step of the way.

I have seen dozens of Cirque shows in the past 25 years. Not all of them are great; some of them are just so-so.

But Totem is well worth your time. It sends out just the message you need to hear at the end of summer: live large, think big and have as much fun as you can.

Actor Lightens Up Darkness Of Cancer With One-Man Show

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman

(Aug 10, 2011)
Bruce Horak has been living with the effects of cancer for almost 36 years, and playing Cancer for six. As the title character in his one-man show This is Cancer, Horak, 37, gives audiences a chance to laugh at the disease, cry about it, and literally beat it (albeit with a pool noodle).

Dressed in a lumpy, form-fitting gold lamé bodysuit, Horak plays Cancer as an arrogant jerk of a character who believes he is adored. After all, he's been around forever, and people all over the world are Googling cancer, running for cancer, raising money for cancer.

About halfway through the show when he asks the audience what they think of him, he gets a blast of reality, and the show takes a turn.

"It's not about making fun of people with cancer. It really is about pointing that flashlight on the disease and taking some of the darkness away from that, and fear away from it," Horak said from Edmonton this week, where he will perform This is Cancer at the Fringe festival. "To hear people actually laughing at cancer is great. And it's bringing a lot of joy to people, which seems strange to say about cancer. But it does do that. It makes people feel a little bit lighter."

Horak knows the darkness of cancer very well. Diagnosed with retinoblastoma when he was just over a year old, he lost his right eye and most of the sight in his left eye. With less than 10 per cent vision, he is one of the few legally blind working actors in Canada. He is also a musician and visual artist. (The Way I See It, a show of his portraits, will be at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre at the end of September.)

Then in 2003, on Horak's 29th birthday, his father died. Esophageal cancer.

An actor and writer, Horak subscribes to the theory that great art - even comedy - can come from one's darkest places. Two years after his father's death, Horak was working on a new character: a twisted demon of a clown who tries to recruit an audience member to return to hell with him. Set to perform the character at a Toronto cabaret, Horak learned another, more established, clown on the program had a similar name to his. Clown politics being what they are, he had to find a new name. He chose Cancer.

"All the other comics and clowns on the bill said 'look if you call yourself Cancer and go out there, they're gonna kill you.'"

They didn't. In fact, after the show, Horak was approached by an audience member, who had been fighting cancer for a number of years. "He said to me this was the first time he'd really ever laughed at cancer, and it's really nice to have that point of attack where you can actually direct your energy at something and put a face to it. He said 'Keep going.'"

The next year, Horak grew the idea from a 10-minute bit to a 75-minute show for the SummerWorks Theatre Festival. He co-wrote the show with Rebecca Northan, who also directs. (She is also Horak's ex-wife.)

On the first night, a handful of people showed up - about six, estimates Horak, who knows that a show called This is Cancer can be a tough sell. The next day, the audience doubled. By the end of the run, the show was almost selling out.

The second show of that run was particularly poignant: it was Aug. 5, 2006, exactly three years after his father's death. And his mother was in the audience. "She had no idea what this thing was going to be, and she said after that it was the best anniversary that she could have imagined."

The show includes a recording of Carl Horak, a month before he died, dictating his obituary to his son.

"Every night I would sit there and listen to my dad's voice," says Horak, who was born in Calgary and is now based in Toronto. "Unlike a photograph, which is kind of still and distant, the voice of someone is like drawing them into the room with you. And at first it was really hard. But now, it's like sitting in the room with the guy. Sure I miss him, but it's a really nice thing to get to be visited every night by someone who obviously influenced this show."

The show has evolved as it plays the Fringe circuit and beyond. Recently Horak took it to New York for a showcase, arranged by a producer of Avenue Q, Rent and Northan's Blind Date.

This is Cancer has generated a lot of fan mail and media interest, including a CNN piece.

It has also generated some anger. After one short cabaret performance, an audience member approached Horak and punched him in the face. "He said 'that was the most offensive thing I've ever seen, expletive, expletive, expletive. You should be ashamed of yourself. I have cancer, I'm dying, there's nothing funny about it.' And he just wailed at me and stormed out of the theatre."

Horak doesn't do the character outside the context of the show any more, but he does plan to keep playing Cancer.

"I recall when we did SummerWorks ... Rebecca kind of sat back and said 'you know you're going to be playing this character probably for the rest of your life. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to keep playing this guy? It's going to be what you're associated with.'

"I said yeah, I'm in. I'm committed to it."

The Edmonton International Fringe Festival [http://fringetheatreadventures.ca]runs from Aug. 11 to 21. This is Cancer will also appear at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival [http://www.vancouverfringe.com], which runs Sept. 8 to 18.


Scarlet Woman: Minneapolis-based SunsetGun Productions (AfterLife) returns to the Edmonton Fringe with this film-noir spoof, which won awards at this year's Winnipeg Fringe and Frigid New York festival.

Jesus in Montana: Adventures in a Doomsday Cult: Humorist Barry Smith recounts his experiences of spending time in a cult in the early 1990s, living in the house of an 80-year-old man who claimed to be Jesus.

Greener Than Thou - The Eco-Confessional: Award-winning Vancouver-based writer and environmentalist Mark Leiren-Young (Never Shoot a Stampede Queen) presents the world premiere of his one-man show, billed as an eco-comedy.

N.O.N.C.E.: British spoken-word artist Steve Larkin landed a gig as poet-in-residence at a British therapeutic prison and created this one-man show based on his time there.

My Brother Sang Like Roy Orbison: San Francisco actor Randy Rutherford presents an autobiographical coming-of-age story, recounting his relationship with his beloved, older, sort-of step-brother as the Vietnam War looms.

Tig’s Getting Bigger

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser

(Aug 15, 2011) Other performers in the lively arts have complained about the detached, reserved nature of Toronto audiences: “Screwface City,” we’re called. One suspects Tig Notaro’s going to enjoy it.

The American comedian, coming to town for two shows Tuesday night at Comedy Bar, has earned a few national TV appearances in the U.S (Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson’s talk shows, Sarah Silverman’s cable comedy) with a dry demeanour that never strains to get its laughs. That lends an atmosphere of intelligence to her observational material about things like products that usurp their creator’s name, like Jenny Craig: “That’s someone’s name. My name’s Tig Notaro and I know I wouldn’t want to be driving down the road one day and see a billboard that says, ‘I did Tig Notaro for three weeks and lost 50 pounds.’”

As she arrives for her very first Toronto shows, she’s on something of a roll. Her new album Good One — whose memorable centrepiece is an extended true story about repeatedly meeting, and being dumbfounded by, singer Taylor Dayne — debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Canada comedy chart, and her new podcast Professor Blastoff is also getting attention. Amid it all she found time for a quick email interview with us.

Q: You've been on national TV a few times and you've started your own podcast. What's the most interesting thing about this precise level of fame?

A: How completely obscure and unrecognizable I am. I love thinking of someone as famous as Lady Gaga hearing someone ask me about my fame.

Q: Now that your profile is rising, what have you learned about Tig Notaro fans?

A: I’ve noticed that they all seem to be pretty reasonable people. That’s all I’m really ever looking for in a fanatic. Just be reasonable.

Q: When did you figure out you wanted to be a comedian? Was there a single comic who inspired you?

A: I had always wanted to for as long as I could remember, but the thing that really pushed me, was when I was living in Denver watching one of those E!-type specials on Roseanne Barr. She came from Denver and obviously did quite well herself, if you recall. Anyway, I just remember being really inspired to try doing comedy after seeing that. I actually met Roseanne a few years ago and was able to tell her that.

Q: You've got a low-energy style of performance that would seem to count on the audience being on that wavelength. Tell me about a time that didn't work out.

A: About a decade ago in Kilkenny, Ireland, I got heckled right out of the gate for a good 30 minutes. It was brutal. I stayed onstage battling it out, but I’m convinced it made me a much stronger comic the second I walked off stage. I just got back from Dublin a couple weeks ago and it went way better this time around. It made me love Ireland for once.

Q: Is Taylor Dayne your showbiz nemesis? If not, who is?

A: I don’t bother with the nemesis game. I like to focus on the people I love and those that inspire me. And if you really listen to the story on my CD, you'll know I actually love Taylor Dayne. Honestly love her. Maybe I’m too forgiving? It’s worth it to me. Taylor Dayne is worth all the pain she’s put me through.

Just the Facts

Who: Tig Notaro

Where: Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor St. W.

When: 8 p.m. (With Fraser Young and Debra DiGiovanni) and 10 p.m. (with Ryan Belleville and Sandra Shamas)

Tickets: $15 at ticketweb.ca

Pitch-Perfect, This Homecoming Sizzles From The Start

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

(Aug 12, 2011) Violence and comedy shouldn't go hand in hand, but the fact that they so frequently do in the English-speaking world is right there embedded in our language. "He killed out there," we say of the conquering stand-up. "I'm dying of laughter. She's a real riot."

Jennifer Tarver's pitch-perfect production of Harold Pinter's
The Homecoming - the play for which the phrase "comedy of menace" was coined - is a real riot. Guts threaten to bust at every moment, although it's not always clear if that's from laughter or a punch to the stomach.

Set in North London, as riots so often are, this 1965 play concerns the return from America of professor Teddy (Mike Shara), with wife Ruth (Cara Ricketts) in tow, back to visit his working-class family after a six-year absence.

Whether or not Teddy is actually a doctor of philosophy, however, or Ruth is the mother of three children is open to debate, as are most of the facts put forth by The Homecoming's cast of cruel characters. "My lips move," Ruth says at one point, essentially summing up of how language works in the play. "Perhaps the fact that they move is more significant ... than the words which come through them."

The old homestead is ostensibly headed by Max (Tony winner Brian Dennehy), a butcher who in retirement has taken to carving up his family for kicks. The decline of his rule (and his mind) is quickly clear in the opening scene where his psychotically sarcastic son of unsavoury occupation, Lenny (Aaron Krohn), sits ignoring his taunts, reading the paper with hostile indifference.

From this first juicy scene between Dennehy's amused but secretly scared Max and Krohn's sensational, staccato Lenny, it's clear Tarver's production is going to sizzle. Krohn - a Broadway veteran of Tom Stoppard's plays with a pockmarked face made for Pinter - is particularly fantastic, whipping out each line like a flick knife and jabbing it at his interlocutors.

The other men in this Pinter pack are impressive as well: Stephen Ouimette is sympathetic as Max's long-suffering brother Sam, the target of abuse simply for taking pride in his work and exhibiting a shred of decency from time to time. Ian Lake, meanwhile, gets every possible laugh as empty-headed Joey, an aspiring boxer who seems to absorb the constant punches from his family without any effect. ("That's your only trouble as a boxer," Max says, in one of his unending criticisms. "You don't know how to defend yourself, and you don't know how to attack.")

Only Shara occasionally becomes too goofy as Teddy - and he's not helped by a ridiculous turtleneck that swallows him up in the second half. But he and designer Leslie Frankish get most every thing else right.

Pinter's plays are fill-in-the-blanks affairs, and in The Homecoming, Ruth is the biggest blank of them all, with "mother" pencilled in, then erased and replaced with "whore," back and forth. She becomes an object of a tug-of-war between Teddy and his family, even as she slowly asserts her own power in the household. She's not so much passive-aggressive as aggressively passive in her battles with Lenny - and her character always risks turning into a symbol (and a misogynist one at that).

While the role remains politically problematic, Ricketts delivers an enigmatic and magnetic performance, cool as a cucumber and sexy as a switchblade. (When she crosses and uncrosses her legs, she puts Sharon Stone to shame.) But there's also something about her performance that suggests a sad Stepford Wife who's about to go into cybernetic revolt against her male creators.

Tarver's production is oh-so-unsettling, bizarre and filled with shockingly funny moments. It preserves the mysteries of a play that has been theorized to death, while never coming across as vague or pretentious. It's a puzzle, but one that audiences will delight in trying to put together.

The Homecoming

Written by Harold Pinter

Directed by Jennifer Tarver

Starring Brian Dennehy, Stephen Ouimette, Cara Ricketts

At the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, ON

Menace, Surprise And Exquisite Choreography

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

Dance: made in Canada, fait au Canada
Princess Productions
Betty Oliphant Theatre
In Toronto Aug. 11 to 14

(Aug 14, 2011) Ever since the late, lamented fFIDA (fringe Festival of
Independent Dance) exited the scene, Toronto dance aficionados have been without their August fix. Veteran dance artist Yvonne Ng is trying to correct that missing link.

Her mini-festival called
dance: made in Canada, fait au Canada, featured three main-stage series with seven pieces selected by different curators, all choreographers themselves, including Ng, as well as Peggy Baker and James Kudelka. There was also a late-night series featuring five works chosen by lottery.

Unlike the fringe, a curated series means more polished works, and all the dances had elements to recommend them. Ironically, the late-night works were also worthy even though they were on the playbill by the luck of the draw.

The standouts for me were works by Keiko Ninomiya, curated by Baker, and Sylvie Bouchard, in the late-night series.

Ninomiya’s solo, Kanan-Kiri, was a world premiere. She is of Japanese heritage, but in this piece, she explored Balinese dance. The exquisite beauty of this choreography was the homage and respect she paid to another dance tradition, while adding elements of menace and surprise.

Nami Sawada’s set was a gorgeous spider web overlaid by crystalline sparkles with a large moon above. Sharon Hann costumed Ninomiya in a sexy, black velveteen gown that evoked Balinese national dress. John Carnes’s score was anchored in the gongs of Indonesian gamelan orchestras, but modernist in sound.

All the elements of Balinese dance were present – the flexed out-turned knee, the extreme turn-out of the feet, the gracefully, crouched body, the angled arms. But there was much more here, as toward the end of the piece, Ninomiya’s highly agitated muscle manipulations and body contractions made one think of a black widow spider luring her prey for the kill.

Bouchard’s solo La Vie for dancer Mairéad Filgate contained her usual mix of the whimsical and the serious. Set to the soulful voice of the late singer Lhasa de Sela and her famous song J’arrive à la ville, the dance, mirroring the lyrics, was about letting go in order to move forward.

The metaphor was Filgate’s dress, designed by Emily Tench. The skirt was festooned with balloons attached by strings, and during the course of the dance, Filgate pulled off the balloons which rose gently to the rafters. At the end, she opened a large chest, which contained more balloons, and then placed herself inside.

Bouchard’s choreography was masterful, full of starts, stops, hesitations, pull backs and pull forwards. The dancer seemed to be trying to exert control over her body, but was fighting an unseen force.

Given funding constraints, Ng plans dance: made in Canada, fait au Canada to be a biennial event, but at least dance in August has returned.


British MP Calls For Blackberry Messenger Suspension To Calm U.K. Riots

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Georgina Prodhan and Alastair Sharp, Reuters

(August 9, 2011)
LONDON/TORONTO— A lawmaker called on Tuesday for BlackBerry’s instant messaging service to be suspended after rioters used it to mobilize in London and other British cities.

David Lammy, Member of Parliament for Tottenham, where London’s worst riots for decades began on Saturday, appealed on Twitter and on BBC radio for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion RIM-T to suspend BlackBerry Messenger.

“This is one of the reasons why unsophisticated criminals are outfoxing an otherwise sophisticated police force,” he tweeted. “BBM is different as it is encrypted and police can’t access it.”

The riots, in which shops are being looted and cars and buildings set ablaze, spread to Britain’s second-largest city Birmingham and other centres.

Politicians and police are blaming the violence on criminals and hooligans but some commentators and local residents say its roots lie in anger over economic hardship in a city where the prospects for many youths are dim.

Many of the rioters favour BlackBerry Messenger over Twitter and other social media because its messages are encrypted and private, but the service is widely used and messages can easily be sent to groups.

Research In Motion said in a statement on Monday: “As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we co-operate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials.”

The company declined to say whether it was handing over chat logs or user details to police.

Research In Motion’s Inside BlackBerry blog was hacked on Tuesday by a group going by the name of Teampoison. The group posted a warning to the company not to co-operate with police.

“You Will _NOT_ assist the UK Police because if u do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason at all,” the statement said.

“If you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, gps locations, customer information & access to peoples Blackberry Messengers you will regret it, we have access to your database which includes your employees information; e.g – Addresses, Names, Phone Numbers etc. – now if u assist the police, we _WILL_ make this information public and pass it onto rioters,” it said.


Sameet Kanade, analyst at Northern Securities in Toronto, said: “RIM will need the directive of the UK authorities and the co-operation of the carriers. Lawful intercept is the only valid legal reason that a carrier and handset vendor can intervene.

“In terms of actual mechanism, RIM has always claimed that it is unable to de-encrypt/decipher messages routed through the BES or BIS servers. It may be able to disable the routing of messages at best, from what I understand.”

Geoff Blaber, analyst with UK telecoms research firm CCS Insight, said: “One option would be to switch it off. But BBM is highly popular and has got a big installed base in the UK.”

BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM as it is popularly known, has driven sales to new audiences for RIM in recent years as it expanded from its base as a tool for executives to a more consumer and younger clientele.

It has more than 45 million active users worldwide, 70 per cent of whom use it daily, sending billions of messages in total every month.

Users with data plans can instantly pass text messages, pictures and other files without incurring charges from their network carrier.

RIM has got into hot water in the past on the one hand for co-operating with governments seen as repressive, and on the other for not co-operating enough with the security needs of authorities in some countries.

Its encrypted services, which it moves over its own servers via telecom carriers, have been blamed for aiding militant attacks in India and for allowing unrelated men and women to communicate in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In August last year, a source close to talks between RIM and Saudi authorities said the Canadian company had agreed to hand over information that would allow monitoring of BBM.

A deal was also reached in the UAE, averting a threatened ban on all BlackBerry services.

The company says it co-operates with authorities around the world with a consistent standard.

RIM has been relatively willing to provide authorities with access to its consumer services, such as BBM, but says it has no way of allowing monitoring of its enterprise e-mail.

In the case of India, RIM gave the authorities access to BlackBerry Messenger services but said it did not have the technical capabilities to provide interception of corporate e-mails on the popular device.

India has demanded access to all BlackBerry services as part of efforts to fight militancy and security threats over the Internet and through telephone communications In London, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh of the Metropolitan police said on Tuesday: “Police have got extensive monitoring of this BlackBerry messaging model and actually a lot of people who are seeing these Blackberry messages are forwarding them to the police.”

Police did not immediately respond to a request for more details of how they were monitoring message traffic.

Music Channels Set To Launch On Mobile Phones

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
By Susan Krashinsky

(August 16, 2011)
Stingray Digital has built its business on the cluster of Galaxie music stations found in the upper reaches of the cable dial. But now the Montreal-based company wants to bring its commercial-free channels out of the stratosphere, and in to the palm of your hand.

On Tuesday, Stingray will launch a subscription-based streaming music service for mobile phones. Customers will access its 45 audio-only TV channels through an app on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and all Android-based mobile devices. Users can also skip songs and download tracks they like through Apple Inc.'s iTunes store.

But the launch is more than just radio for your phone - it represents the first time a number of music labels have worked together to simplify an agreement for digital music rights in this country. In Canada, digital music services are regulated by the Copyright Board, which sets the rates paid to music labels for the privilege of playing their songs. Because that approval and rate-setting process can take up to a year or two, companies such as the highly popular U.S. Internet radio service Pandora have been hesitant to launch here, said Graham Henderson, president of Music Canada, a trade association representing the major labels here, including Sony Music Canada, Universal Music Canada, Warner Music Canada and EMI Music Canada.

Stingray approached Music Canada earlier this year with a simple question: How can we do this more quickly? After months of discussions, the company has agreed on rates - the industry standard is about a fifth of a cent per play - with Music Canada and with two other groups representing the smaller independent labels.

"If you look at the reasons people - like Pandora - have given for not launching in Canada, one of the principal reasons has been unease with the regulatory process, and a fear that they could be charged too much for the content they wanted to offer," Mr. Henderson said. "... If we're lucky, we may have broken a logjam here and we may see the introduction of a number of new services into the country, which will only stimulate the market for music in Canada."

Galaxie Mobile will charge $4.99 per month for its service, with discounts available for longer terms. The company is planning to launch on more devices, such as BlackBerry smart phones, in the near future, and to add more interactive features to the app, such as allowing users to build their own playlists.

Stingray is also negotiating with wireless providers to launch the service through their networks. The company already has relationships with many of the providers through their TV services. Galaxie already has an Internet music service which is offered through the cable and satellite providers' online on-demand websites, such as Rogers On Demand Online and Vidéotron Ltée's Illico Web.

"The main advantage we have in Canada is that so many people listen to us on TV," Stingray president Eric Boyko said. "We have a great customer base already in Canada."

The mobile service is also launching on Tuesday in the U.S.

With piracy an increasing reality for music companies in the digital world, the record labels are showing greater co-operation to help legal, paid music services get off the ground, Mr. Boyko said.

Music Canada's Mr. Henderson said "It's absolutely essential. It's the holy grail."

"We've got to get a variety of legal services in the marketplace that people are aware of and comfortable with, that will wean them off of doing the wrong thing, which is taking music without compensating artists."

Three Of Summer Of Arcade's Best Indie Games

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Chad Sapieha

(August 12, 2011)
Microsoft’s annual Summer of Arcade series has been a launching pad for some of the best downloadable indie games in recent memory, including 2008’s Braid -- a time-bending meditation on broken relationships swooned over by critics and fans alike -- and last year’s Limbo, a haunting platformer that sees a dead boy wandering through a nightmarish purgatory.

This summer’s series hasn’t produced anything quite so memorable or affecting, but it has nonetheless introduced several distractions capable of helping humidity-averse gamers while away hot summer days in air-conditioned comfort.

Bastion (SuperGiant Games/Warner Bros; Everyone 10+)

The heart of SuperGiant Games’ arty action RPG can be found in its ever-present narrator, whose soothing, late-night deejay cadence chronicles our every action. Defeat a tough enemy? He’ll sing your praises. Find a new path? He’ll describe it in detail. Fall off a ledge to your death? He’ll step in with an amusing remark explaining how the story continues.

The action is fun, too. Colourful, magical platforms spring into existence in front of our hero with each step forward as he quests to discover how his floating realm came to ruin. And the diverse and challenging foes we face force us to frequently shift tactics, switching between a healthy variety of attacks and defensive moves.

Still, it’s the raconteur you’ll remember. His reliable presence and witty observations lend the proceedings a storybook-like atmosphere that’s fresh, endearing, and unlike anything else in the world of games.

From Dust (Ubisoft Montpellie; Everyone 10+)

This unusual god game sees players become nearly omnipotent idols to tiny tribesmen trying to spread across harsh, inhospitable lands.

With simple button depressions we can move earth to create dams, use molten magma to fashion tsunami-blocking seawalls, and even perform the occasional miracle, like gelling water to help our wee worshippers walk across raging rivers.

The physics at play -- H2O acts just like the real thing, swelling when blocked and spreading to find the path of least resistance -- are immediately engaging, and beg players to experiment with their geological powers. Sadly, it turns out to be a bit of a tease. Most missions hem us in with rigid objectives and leave little room for sandbox-style play.

I had fun, but wished I’d been given freedom more befitting a god.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (Fuel Cell/Shadow Planet Productions; Everyone)

Players take the helm of a versatile flying saucer in this vividly named side-scrolling action/puzzler, which is set in an enormous maze of winding caverns filled with exotic and aggressive aliens.

The hook rests in our saucer’s toolset. At our disposal is a handy scanner that can identify obstacles and suggest potential solutions, a grabber that can pluck rocks and other objects from the environment to help create new routes, and weapons and shields invaluable to the purpose of fending off the inky extraterrestrial menace.

This problem-solving gear, which is found scattered throughout the game, combines with a large, free-to-roam labyrinth to create an experience oddly akin to classic Metroid games. However, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet’s unusual aesthetic -- the world is presented in craggy, misshapen silhouettes set against dark blue, copper, and green backgrounds -- give this alluring indie a flavour all its own.

Keep Your Laptop Running On The Road

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
Ted Kritsonis

(August 16, 2011)
The summer may come to an end sooner than we’d like, which could mean squeezing in an extra road trip or two before the leaves start changing colour. Charging a laptop on a long drive is possible with these three gizmos, and you’re able to charge other devices at the same time.

Kensington Wall/Auto/Air Notebook Power Adapter with USB port
Available at: TigerDirect.ca
As its title suggests, this adapter is able to charge varying Windows PC laptops at home, on the road and in the air. The extra USB port on the side adds the ability to charge a mobile device as well.
All in all, it’s a straightforward package, and there are plenty of charging tips that come with it corresponding with many of the different PCs out there. Still, seeing this many tips just lends more credence to the idea that manufacturers should decide on one charging tip to streamline stuff like this.
While the USB port can be used to charge a tablet, it’s not advisable to charge one and a laptop in the car at the same time because of the way the adapter distributes power. Despite appreciating the relative versatility this offers, it’s tough to justify paying the premium for it.

Innergie 90W Auto/Air Adapter mCube Mini

Available at: London Drugs, TigerDirect.ca
The mCube Mini can almost win on its own merits simply by how small the unit is. Its smaller footprint makes it really easy to store in the car, if you only plan to use it on long drives. Road warriors who travel a lot for work will appreciate the ability to use this on a plane and then apply it just as easily in a rental car.
Innergie’s adapter proved capable and dependable, so performance is consistently stable. The extra USB port comes in handy for charging mobile devices, and you can use it to charge a tablet, but a laptop usually hogs the power flow when plugged in.
Like Kensington’s adapter, Innergie’s won’t work with Macs because Apple hasn’t licensed out its proprietary MagSafe connector. But at half the size and weight, with the same PC tips and at about half the price of Kensington’s unit, this is a good buy.

Scosche inVERT

Available at: Assorted independent 12V dealers
The inVERT is the most universal out of the box because it has an AC power outlet to go with its one USB port. As an inverter, it runs at a constant 100 watts, but it can crank out 120W at its peak. Like the other two units here, it also has surge and temperature protection, so you don’t get any nasty battery surprises while driving.
The problem with bringing a laptop’s original charger is the weight and bulk they tend to bring with them. The cable is long enough, and the thick brick transformers can be annoying, too. Throw in a smartphone and a tablet, and things get crowded around that charger.
The one amp USB port is standard, like the others, and charging mobile devices through it is easy enough. One advantage of having the AC outlet is that you can use a tablet’s original charger, which works perfectly here.


How to Look Fabulous in Photos

Source: yahoo.com

(August 16, 2011) I look like a wreck in photographs. My arms are flabby, the small pooch beneath my waist is suddenly a gut, and my face turns a pasty shade of eggshell. But worst of all is that damned double chin — the one that makes me look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. What will all the high-school and college friends I just reconnected with on Facebook think? Will ex-boyfriends wonder why I've let myself go?

"What makes one person more photogenic than another is how light bounces off the face. It's in the bone structure," explains TRESemmé hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins, who has worked with the aspiring mannequins on Project Runway for several seasons. "That's why some models or actresses who look relatively average in person can look so
stunning in a photo."

"The camera often lies," says celeb photographer Patrick McMullan. "For the bad and for the good, there's always a subtle distortion." So, how do I distort my image for the better?

Hawkins suggests manipulating the hair — with layers and subtle highlights — to create shadows or brightness in the right areas of your face. In my case, with bangs, tucking my hair behind my ears is like opening the curtains and letting in the light. Luminosity also works wonders for the strands, creating dimension, depth, and the appearance of health — especially for us brunettes, as darker shades tend to appear dull on film.

"But if there's a big overhead light, you're not going to look pretty," insists designer and style guru Isaac Mizrahi. "You're going to look like a ghoul because it creates shadows under your eyes."

That's where the makeup comes in. I want to wear as little as possible yet still look fresh and polished. Makeup artist Lori Taylor of Smashbox — a brand that offers "Camera Ready" foundations and concealers — says it requires more than the three minutes of face-painting I was used to investing: spot foundation to neutralize redness and dark circles, a liberal sweep of peachy blush high on the cheekbones, a light lip gloss for that bee-stung effect, and a deep purple liner with black mascara to make my blue eyes pop.

I implement the tips and make my mother take practice shots. Huge improvement, but there's still the issue of the multiple chins. And the blubbery arms. And when did I get pregnant?

"Arms always look bigger than they are, just because they're slightly in front of the rest of you," says McMullan. "Some model types lean into the camera, and that makes the head look a little bigger. By default, the arms look smaller." (This explains the celebrity lollipop-head syndrome.)

To my surprise, everyone I consult about how to look slimmer recommends standing with one hand on your hip and turning your lower body at a three-quarter angle to the camera, à la Paris Hilton. The problem is that you wind up feeling like Paris. Nonetheless, the trick actually works.

Also shockingly effective is jutting out your hips, as suggested by Matthew Rolston, a fashion and celebrity lensman who manages to make Angelina Jolie and Jack Nicholson look equally alluring. "Don't arch your back," he says. "It just makes your stomach look bigger. Round it instead, and tuck in your tummy at the same time." That said, you also have to pull your shoulders back and down to elongate your neck — and avoid looking like a hunchback.

Of course, bearing all this in mind while posing is hard work. The more thought I put into it, the more uptight I look in snaps.

"You'd drive yourself bonkers trying to perfect every detail," says McMullan. "You don't want to lose the spontaneity." Bearing that in mind, I've dropped some of the rules and learned to pose more, er, naturally. Although I have hung onto this one essential trick from Mizrahi: "Make sure you're always being shot from overhead," he says. "The next time you see a photographer sitting below you, looking up at your nostrils, kick him out of the way.


Fare Deals: Bargains In Ultra-Glam St. Bart’s

Source: www.thestar.com - Kathryn Folliott

(August 12, 2011) There’s no getting around it: some Caribbean islands are just more
glamourous than others. And St. Bart’s is one of them, with its penchant for attracting the jet-set and a certain off-the-beaten-track je ne sais quoi.

Luxury villas, privately owned and rented, dominate the island but there are also about 30 hotels and several family-run cottages and inns with more reasonable rates. Hotel Le Village St. Jean has three “value vacation” packages for travel in September and October starting at less than $300 (all prices U.S. and based on euro conversion) for two people per night, all in cottage suites, with a few added-value extras thrown in for good measure.

Both the Mini-Break package (from $1,008 for three nights) and the Weekly Escape package (from $1,972 for seven nights) come with a rental car, two one-hour massages, continental breakfast and service charges, plus you get the best available room upon arrival.

A third package, Pay 5, Stay 7, offers seven nights for the price of five with a lead-in of $1,815. Packages must be paid in full in advance and are non-refundable.

See www.villagestjeanhotel.com or e-mail reservations@villagestjeanhotel.com.


“The Help” blazed through book clubs and now the movie version is making its debut.

At The Fairview Inn in Jackson, Miss., where the story is set, “The Help Experience” package includes one night’s accommodation and a Southern dinner for two, plus mint juleps on arrival and a themed welcome basket.

Prices range from $349 to $409 (all prices U.S.), a savings of up to $70. The 18-room, B&B-style property offers accommodation in a 1908 Colonial Revival mansion a few minutes from downtown Jackson. See www.fairviewinn.com.


Thailand’s Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort & Villas has added 19 suites in a new complex that also includes a pool, gym and restaurant.

One-bedroom suites are 970 square fee, while the two-bedroom duplex suites are 1,600 square feet, and all have pool views. From now until Oct. 31 a “Stay 3, Pay 2” promotion on the suites’ best available rates starts at $127 (all prices U.S.) per night for the one-bedroom suites and $153 for the two-bedroom suites. See www.outriggerthailand.com/phuket or e-mail laguna@outrigger.co.th.


Kaanapali Beach Hotel is offering a discounted rate from $143 (U.S.) for travel Aug. 20 through Dec. 21. The beachfront property is on Maui’s “Golf Coast” with 15 courses, including the Kaanapali Golf Resort Courses right next door. See www.kbhmaui.com.

Kathryn Folliott is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Prices quoted are subject to change and availability.


Sunquest: Riveria Nayarit, air & hotel, $929 (Aug. 19). www.sunquest.ca

Air Canada Vacations: Three-night Ft. Myers, air & hotel, $499 (Sept. 15). www.aircanadavacations.com

Nolitours: Punta Cana, air & hotel, $429 (Sept. 18). www.nolitours.com

Signature Vacations: Cayo Santa Maria, air & hotel, $395 (Sept. 12). www.signaturevacations.com

Transat Holidays: Lisbon, air & hotel, $739 (Sept. 17). www.transatholidays.com

Bel Air Travel: Mexican Riviera cruise, $669 (Aug. 28). www.belairtravel.com

Sell Off Vacations: Cayo Largo, air & hotel, $228 (Sept. 12). www.selloffvacations.com

itravel2000: Orlando, air & hotel, $179 (Sept. 29). www.itravel2000.com

Sears Travel: Barcelona, air & hotel, $947 (Sept. 28). www.searstravel.ca

WestJet Vacations: Montego Bay, air & hotel, $859 (Sept. 14). www.westjetvacations.com

Tour East Holidays: 11-night Egypt & Turkey, air, hotel, sightseeing, $2,999 (Oct. 15). www.toureast.com

Trafalgar Tours: 10-night Italy Bellissimo, hotel, some meals, transfers, touring, $2,444 (Sept. 30). www.trafalgartours.ca

Perfect Weekend: Master Manhattan in 2 days, 2 nights

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(August 12, 2011) NEW YORK CITY—For many people, the southernmost tip of
Manhattan Island will forever be associated with the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

That tragedy is not to be forgotten and the 9/11 memorial is opening on the 10th anniversary of that date to keep it in our memories, but the City of New York also wants us to be aware of the vibrant world that lies just south of that location.

Whether you want to hang around Wall Street, get up close and personal with some of the great events in the early history of Manhattan, or experience some great dining and culture, this is the place.

In the last decade, $40 billion has been poured into reinventing the area, the number of hotels has tripled and the population has doubled.


1. 3 p.m. — Puttin’ on the Ritz

One of the best parts about Lower Manhattan is that it offers five-star hotels at three-star prices on the weekend, when few travelling businessmen stay over. And you couldn’t possibly do better than the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park.

Sleek, elegant and luxurious, with large rooms, spacious halls and first-rate amenities, it’s the kind of place that runs you up to $1,000 a night in midtown. Down here, rooms are available on weekends through the summer starting at $295.

Get a room with a Statue of Liberty view and you’ll find they even toss in a telescope for people watching. Manager Greg Mendoza told me his pride and joy was “a resort inside a city” and that’s a great description. 2 West St., 212-344-0800; www.RitzCarlton.com.

2. 4 p.m. — Money, money

Ever since 9/11, there are no longer tours given of the N.Y. Stock Exchange, but if you still want to plunge into the world of Wall Street, then take the last tour of the week at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Tours must be booked in advance but it’s well worth it. There’s an interactive guide to understanding how money pours from this tiny community through the world, a museum with currency from 800 countries, and — my personal fave — an elevator that takes you down 15 metres below sea level to see the 7,000 tons of gold they store. 33 Liberty St., 212-720-6130; www.newyorkfed.org.

3. 6 p.m. — Everybody must get stoned

If you want to see where the Wall Street crowd try to unwind after a busy week, you couldn’t pick a better place than Stone Street, the historic block-long strip of restaurants and bars squeezed between South William and Pearl Streets.

It’s been around a long, long time and was, in fact, the first paved street in Manhattan, back in 1658. Now it’s known for the good times that keep on rolling. There are more than a dozen bars and restaurants that are generally packed from 11 a.m. until closing time, which can run as late as 3 a.m.

How do these people get back to the Stock Exchange by dawn? Maybe they never leave, which could explain the state of the American economy today. (See “Six Meals in Manhattan” article for a specific recommendation of where to eat well on Stone Street.)

4. 8 p.m. — Good evening, Vietnam

End your evening early on a reflective note with a quiet walk over to the N.Y. Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was originally built in 1985 in response to the public demand for something to honour the 1,741 New Yorkers who died during the Vietnam War, but it quickly became a symbol of all the soldiers who had given their lives around the world.

The memorial is a striking semicircular amphitheatre, always bright with flowers, but at its centre is a glass and granite wall, lit from the inside, that reinforces the solemnity of why the place was built. 55 Water St., 212-471-9496; www.vietnamveteransplaza.com.


5. 8 a.m. — Sweet Liberty’s call

Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s also deeply moving and if you miss a visit to the Statue of Liberty you’ll kick yourself later. The giant bronze neoclassical sculpture of the lady with the torch was built in 1886, a gift from France to the United States.

It was closed down after 9/11 and only fully reopened to the public in 2009. It’s being shut down again this October for at least a year of renovations, so go while you can.

The best bet is to book tickets for the earliest tour, which leaves at 8 a.m. Buy in advance, because they do sell out on weekends, and get there in plenty of time.

A basic ticket gets you to the island and the statue. For additional bucks, you can gain access to the pedestal/museum, or all the way up to the crown. It’s worth it to get a view you’ll never forget. Liberty Island: www.statueofliberty.org. Tickets: www.statueoflibertytickets.com

6. 10 a.m. — The immigrant

Once you’re on Liberty Island, the ferry package allows you to take the 10-minute water journey to Ellis Island, best known as the destination of 20 million immigrants who came to the U.S. from around the world.

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in America, presenting a detailed and accurate picture of what it was like to arrive here as an immigrant in those days. There’s a 45-minute guided audio tour, an amazing collection of photos and a database where you can search for your ancestors. www.ellisisland.org.

7. 1 p.m. — There’s a tavern in the town

It’s part museum, part tavern and all history. Fraunces Tavern claims to be the oldest standing building in New York City, tracing its earliest origins back to 1671, although it has been restored, reconstructed and generally fiddled with over the past 350 years.

Historically, it’s best known as the place where George Washington bid farewell to his troops at the end of the American Revolution, but a tour of the museum will reveal a lot of other fascinating spots as well. Don’t eat at the tavern. It’s a tourist trap. But the museum is the real thing and well worth the $7 admission. 54 Pearl St.; 212-425-1778. www.frauncestavernmuseum.org.

8. 3 p.m. — Lest we forget

Although the 9/11 Memorial isn’t officially opening until Sept. 11, it’s already worth your time to go down to the location and see what you can in its almost-final state. Any visit here is going to be a deeply personal occasion, but it’s safe to say that no one can come here without being moved by memories of the past and hopes for the future.

After you’ve paid your respects, take the rest of the day to celebrate life in this city, which now seems more vital than ever. World Trade Center, www.911memorial.org.


9. 11 a.m. — Something fishy

On the site of the old Fulton Fish Market, a splendid vendors’ market now operates on Sunday mornings from late May to late October. It’s a foodie paradise, with dozens of artisanal producers offering everything from spectacular pastries and designer teas through amazing lobster rolls and a slow-cooked meat-and-sauce delight called “Sunday Gravy” that has to be tasted to be believed. And the pickles at Sour Puss Pickles are truly awesome.

For those strange people who believe there’s more to life than food, you can sample the arts and crafts available from a variety of talented people. South St. between Fulton and Beekman Sts. www.fultonstallmarket.com.

10. Noon — Go south, young man

If you needed to see one proof of the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, it would have to be the South Street Seaport. What once was an area falling into disrepair and decay is now a thriving centre of residences, offices and more than 100 stores and restaurants.

What I find a real kick is to wander the cobblestoned streets and stare at the vintage buildings on Schermerhorn Row, then plunge into a world of up-to-the-minute boutiques and trendy dining spots. You also have to pay a visit to the Seaport Museum ( www.seany.org) to put it all into perspective. A great picture of a city reinventing itself. Pier 17 at the East River; www.southstreetseaport.com.

11. 2 p.m. — Our native land

End your visit by stopping by the National Museum of the American Indian, housed in what used to be the Alexander Hamilton Customs House. In addition to an in-depth overview of the American Indian, his culture and traditions, there are always special shows. Currently on through the summer are both a beautiful tribute to the Tlingit glass artist, Preston Singletary, and a spectacular exhibit from North, Central and South America called “Infinity of Nations.”

It’s a fascinating museum and admission is free. 1 Bowling Green, 212-514-3700. www.nmai.si.edu.


ARRIVING: If you're heading to Lower Manhattan, you'll save time and money by flying into Newark, either on Porter or Air Canada, and then heading through the Holland Tunnel.

SLEEPING: Besides the recommended Ritz-Carlton, the W New York-Downtown (123 Washington St.; 866-299-2910) offers its trademark so-hip-it-hurts elegance for as low as $225 on line, far below its uptown siblings. The Wall Street Inn (9 South William St.; 1-877-747-1500) is small, discrete and classy and if you can get a room, I've seen them as low as $175. Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel on Gold St., has a nice restaurant, a great second-floor library and a funky lobby. Rooms have all the amenities but can be a little on the spare side. They recently listed a summer package with rooms for as little as $215 a night, with free Wi-Fi and a coupon for two drinks at the bar. Solid value for NYC.

WEB SURFING: Visit www.nycgo.com for the latest deals and events.


NHL Player Rypien Remembered For Gutsy Battles On And Off Ice

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By James Mirtle

(August 16, 2011)
Rick Rypien was never drafted into the WHL, but he became a charismatic captain of the Regina Pats, scoring his only ever hat trick in his final home game as a thank you to their fans.

He was never drafted into the NHL, but he made it there through sheer hard work, fighting men four or five inches taller than him with regularity.

To all those that knew him, Rypien was a battler, although sadly one of his biggest battles was off the ice.

And it was one the popular former Vancouver Canuck ultimately lost.

Rypien's body was discovered by his father, Wes, at his off-season home in Coleman, Alta., on Monday morning. After years of suffering from depression - something that has affected other family members and which threatened several times to end his hockey career - the illness took his life.

By Tuesday, all 2,000 residents of the town of Coleman were in mourning for the only NHL player they had ever called their own.

Flags flew at half mast at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, where Rypien had made a name for himself as a win-at-all-costs minor leaguer and recently signed as a free agent with the Jets.

That had been a happy time, only a month ago, and he had talked with those close to him this summer about his fresh start, about making a bigger impact and about putting his troubled past behind him.

"Obviously he's had his battles," said Allain Roy, Rypien's long-time agent and friend. "Everybody supported Rick, from his family to his teammates, everybody was first class as far as how they dealt with everything.

"He was a warrior on and off the ice. But with a big heart. It's sad that it ended this way. Everybody is in a state of shock still."

Rypien's battle with depression was always kept quiet during his time with the Canucks, even during two extended leaves of absence that team officials were careful to note were not drug or alcohol related.

The first public acknowledgement of what his off ice problems were came only on Tuesday, as Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger, the man who had signed Rypien as a free agent out of junior to play in the AHL, knew intimately what had gone on.

Both Roy and Canucks GM Mike Gillis declined to comment on his struggles with depression, although Gillis outlined how they had helped him in his fight.

"We relied on experts," Gillis said. "And we relied on both NHLPA and NHL doctors. We relied on different facilities... I felt strongly that we were headed on a really positive course. It didn't turn out that way."

"Did we see any signs?" Heisinger said. "No we didn't."

Gillis had believed Rypien hit a turning point after an incident in Minnesota last October where he grabbed a fan, earning a six-game suspension and a sit down with league officials.

Not long after, Rypien's second leave of absence began, marking the end of his NHL career.

"The way he handled himself in that hearing and the conversations that we had afterward, how committed he was, that's going to stick with me the rest of my life," Gillis said.

Even though Rypien ultimately played only 119 NHL games - little more than a full season - his story had become well known, as his father was a Canadian boxing champ who trained both his hockey playing boys to throw punches just as he had for years.

Rypien gained respect for taking on fighters well out of his weight class, as the scrappy 5-foot-11, 195-pound winger was branded the toughest pound-for-pound scrapper in the league.

He often listed his father and older brother, Wes Jr., as his inspiration, saying at one point that his family was "the biggest part of everything because of the support they give me."

After multiple teams offered Rypien a contract this summer, Roy said one thing he'll never forget is how much he wrestled with telling those he turned down that he was going to the Jets.

"He had such a hard time calling the teams to say no," Roy said. "It was almost comical. He felt so bad turning down another team. I think that typifies the type of person he was."

Roy added that he was always struck by Rypien's deep affinity for the Crowsnest Pass area in Alberta, where he grew up, hosted a hockey school and did charity work every year.

"He was one of those guys that really wanted to give back a lot," Roy said. "A couple months ago, he was asked to speak at his old elementary school and you could tell that meant a lot to him. He was pretty proud to be able to do that.

"The sad part is he and I talked about how this was going to be his breakthrough year. He was going to show everybody that he was a lot more of a player than people thought."

With a report from Matthew Sekeres in Vancouver

Canadian Captures Triathlon World Cup Men’s Competition

Source: www.thestar.com - Damien Cox

(Aug 14, 2011) TISZAUJVAROS, HUNGARY — Victoria’s Brent McMahon captured the men’s title Sunday at a Triathlon World Cup event.

It was the first career World Cup victory for McMahon, 30, who finished in one hour 48 minutes 16 seconds. He passed Britain’s Aaron Harris on the last lap of the run and finished six seconds ahead.

“I just came in to this race so ready, but didn’t peg myself into any place,” said McMahon. “I did everything I could and got the win.”

Hungary’s Akos Vanek was third in 1:48:43.

The event consisted of a 1,500-metre swim, 42.6-kilometre bike and 10,000-metre run.

“I felt so strong today, I knew I’d get it, it was just a matter of time,” said McMahon, who claimed three bronze medals earlier this year after missing 18 months with a knee injury.

Victoria’s Andrew Russell finished 22nd in 1:50:36 while Andre Paula Baillargeon-Smith, of St. Catharines, Ont., was 56th at 1:56:57.

American Gwen Jorgensen won the women’s event in 1:59.54. Italy’s Annamaria Mazzetti was second in 2:00:02 while Russian Irina Abysova finished third in 2:00:18.

Manon Letourneau of Quebec City was the top Canadian, finishing 39th in 2:05:35. Edmonton’s Chantell Widney was 43rd in 2:06:05.

Quarterback Lemon's Rise Gives Hapless Argonauts Hope

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
By Rachel Brady

(August 16, 2011)
It's mid-August, and the Toronto Argonauts have a quarterback who ranks last in passing yards among all starters in the CFL and has just one victory. Yet there's a reason many are beaming about Cleo Lemon.

The Argos' starting pivot has completed 114 of his 175 passing attempts for a mere 1,410 yards this season. But he has tallied 682 of those yards in the past two games - a whopping 368 in Saturday's 37-32 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Five of the seven touchdowns he has tossed have also come in the past two weeks.

"He was decisive, very, very accurate, he managed the game, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with the football, and played what I think was his best game to this point," said Argos head coach Jim Barker.

"This was the first full game that he was excellent, and players behind him played very well. It was the kind of performance you expect from your starting quarterback, the kind of performance you can win a lot of games with."

The 1-6 Argos are remarkably upbeat, and the improved play of their second-year quarterback is at the heart of that optimism. Lemon has seen his quarterback-efficiency rating climb from 83.7 to 93.8 over the course of two weeks, which is 11 points above his career average.

He also threw the longest pass of his career last week - a 69-yard touchdown bomb to receiver Brandon Rideau, who benefited from Lemon's performance by catching six passes for 147 yards on the night en route to being the CFL's offensive player of the week.

He's managing the run game better, understanding CFL defences, limiting turnovers, getting the ball out of his hand quicker and trusting his receivers to get open. As of last week, he's also benefiting from the return of star running back Cory Boyd, who moves blockers for the pivot and frees him up for play action.

"It's knowing now that I don't have to do everything in one play - instead just let the game come to you," said Lemon. "Sometimes I try to make the big, tremendous play instead of making the simple play, so that's what I'm trying to focus on, getting the ball out of my hand faster and trust that guys will get open."

He has been ripped by the pundits for turning the ball over, not adapting to the wide-open CFL game and not tossing long balls. He says training the eyes to see the Canadian game has been a challenge. He feels more comfortable now viewing the game differently from the way he saw the NFL game from 2002 to 2009 in stints with the Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars.

"The film study is different here," said 6-foot-3, 218-pound Lemon. "Now I know what to look for. On run plays, down south, it's a straight handoff. Here, you're reading linebackers, defensive ends, you're reading man and zone. There is so much to process here before the snap."

Teammates will tell you Lemon studies film for countless hours - the first guy in and always the last one out.

"He has all the ability in the world, but his film study is remarkable, he's a film geek, morning to night, and he's incredibly focused in there," said third quarterback B.J. Hall, who refers to Lemon as his big brother. "He gives a helping hand to guys who want to learn with film. He's a real leader and teacher in that way."

Lemon's wife Cherese and toddler daughter Madison have joined the quarterback in Toronto this year, rather than staying behind in their off-season home in Jacksonville, Fla., as they did last year. Cherese sent a giant balloon bouquet to the Argos practice facility for her husband's 32nd birthday on Tuesday.

"Whenever you can have a settled environment and you can have your support system here, it helps out a lot," Lemon said. "I believe in family, and I like them close with me. My extended family is this team, and we have grown, and we have a stronger locker room this year."

King Novak Soars Into Greatest-Ever Debate

Source: www.thestar.com - Damien Cox

(Aug 14, 2011) MONTREAL - It took 40 years for Roger Federer to come along and seriously challenge one of the tennis world’s basic covenants of faith: that Rocket Rod Laver was the greatest player ever to step on a court.

No sooner had Federer done enough to displace Laver, however, than Rafael Nadal arrived to not only become his chief rival, but to stake his own claim to the unofficial title of finest ever to play.

And just as Federer so quickly begat Nadal, those two have begat
Novak Djokovic, who in a remarkably short period of time — less than a year, really — has started to put together a resume that will soon place him in that conversation with Federer and Nadal. He’s better than either right now, that’s clear.

Three in one generation? Could it be possible?

With 53 wins and just one defeat this season, plus two Grand Slam titles, plus seven other tournament victories including the Rogers Cup over American veteran Mardy Fish on Sunday afternoon, Djokovic may be in the midst of the greatest single tennis season of all-time.

Unlike Federer, who struggled to find traction on clay, and Nadal, who needed time to prove he could win away from the dirt, the 24-year-old Djokovic’s most compelling claim to greatness may be that he is already superb on every surface.

He may not yet have won at Roland Garros, but he has multiple clay titles in major events, beating Nadal in all of them. He hasn’t won the U.S. Open, but he might next month and already has proven his quality on hard courts like those of the Stade de Uniprix.

According to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Djokovic has “no weaknesses.” He has raised the art of court positioning to a new level, and through fitness and diet has turned his body into a bendable machine that can twist and contort and make shots few thought possible.

He wasn’t at his best against Fish, and it was surprising he needed three sets and almost two-and-a-half hours to win 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. Fish, probably the hottest player on tour other than Djokovic, had some chances, but Djokovic cruelly snatched them away, leaving the 29-year-old U.S. player one set short of what would easily have been the most significant triumph of his up-and-down pro career.

“It’s really hard to take,” said Fish. “I mean, just so much energy, mentally and physically, goes into going that far. I’ve never won one. I want it so badly, it hurts.”

The maturation of Djokovic’s game has been accompanied by his maturation as a young man. Whereas once his act seemed a bit tiresome — the endless ball-bouncing, the injury timeouts, the breathing problems, the family members all wearing the same tennis shirt — he now seems to be one of the more-liked players on tour, capable of being an ambassador for the sport through his demeanour and good humour.

Once he did hilarious imitations of other players — Maria Sharapova was a particularly good one — but now others, like countryman Janko Tipsarevic, do imitations of him, perhaps a sign of his rise to prominence. He is the leading man for a young tennis country, Serbia, that is now the rival of the sport’s great powers like Spain, France and Russia.

If there were questions going into this Rogers Cup, it was how he would shake off the rust in his first competition since winning Wimbledon last month, and how the crown of being No. 1 in the world for the first time would fit.

Answers? A little rust that was shed easily, and just about perfectly, as Djokovic became the first player since Pete Sampras in 1993 to win his first event after becoming No. 1.

“It is probably a little mental advantage when you get on the court, knowing you’re the player to beat,” said Djokovic. “But, on the other hand, it adds the pressure and expectations as well because you are the favourite to win each match you play, whoever you play.

“It’s a right balance in the end, trying to think just about the match, think about the next point, figuring out tactics to win against an opponent that day, not thinking about the position you have.”

He has three Grand Slam victories in all, and he’ll need many more to really wedge himself into that greatest-ever debate. But he’s the best right now, with Nadal still in his prime and Federer still viewed by most as capable of winning majors.

All hail King Novak.

Rahy's Attorney Goes Out As A Contender

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
By Beverley Smith

(August 16, 2011)
Rahy's Attorney was a blue collar horse with a white collar bankroll.

On Tuesday, the 7-year-old gelding was retired from racing with earnings of $2.2-million, with 14 wins, 10 seconds and four thirds in 41 starts. But those are just numbers.

He has his own Facebook page. He's the pride of a small group of owners, friends and relatives spread from Ottawa to Calgary. In the past couple of days, his Facebook account has bulged with notes from well-wishers from around the country.

On Saturday, Rahy's Attorney ended his career with a typically gallant effort in the $500,000 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga, in upper New York state, the summer mecca of the horse racing world, with an injury to his left front leg.

"What a big blow to a little stable," said part-owner and breeder Joe MacLellan.

With Woodbine jockey, Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard, he set a lively pace and when the stretch runners swelled up behind him at the head of the stretch, he marched on, very unwilling to let them by. In the final strides, Winchester sailed past, but not easily and Rahy's Attorney finished second, trying hard until the final step.

"He ran a huge race," said trainer Ian Black, who watched Rahy's Attorney win honours as Canada's top male turf horse in 2008, the year he won the $1-million Woodbine Mile against the best horses in the world.

"Apart from the Woodbine Mile, that was one of the bravest, best races he's ever run," Black said. "It looked as though they were getting to him and going to pass him, but he just said: 'No.' That's the type of horse he is."

There's no telling where this sort of spirit comes from. Obviously, it doesn't come from the price tag they bring in a sales ring. Joe MacLellan, now retired from his accounting job with the Treasury Board in Ottawa and wife Ellen, now also retired from her job with Health Canada, bred their mare, Rahy's Hope to Crown Attorney, which stood for a fee of only $3,000. Crown Attorney had been a stalwart for the stable of their friends, Anthony and Mary Lamb and had won a cascade of top stakes races and close to $1-million while racing at Woodbine.

Then the MacLellans (known as Elle Boje Stable) sold a half-interest in Rahy's Attorney for $4,000 in his early days. He's now also owned by MacLellan's mother, Jean, former president of the Canadian Figure Skating Association, his brother, James, and friends Mitch Peters and Dean Reid of Calgary.

They hoped only to have a horse that could win a few races at Woodbine. He turned into much more.

But it all ended on Saturday and most people watching the race missed the drama. "I didn't even realize it had happened, until I went down to meet Emma," Black said. But pulling up down the backside, he had taken one bad step and then another one. Wilson sensed something wrong and pulled him up. He was vanned off the track.

Back in the grandstand, his owners knew nothing of what had happened. They knew only that the horse had not returned to the unsaddling area in front of the grandstand. He had pulled up on the backstretch and they could not see him past a large tote board in the infield. They heard only Black being told to get into a van.

"It was not a good scene," MacLellan said.

"He got off the van fine, and he cooled out," Black said. "But he looked like he might have been walking a little slightly short on his right side. He got better as he cooled out and he cooled out quickly. He did everything right."

MacLellan said the horse showed only a slight limp while being cooled out and the veterinarians couldn't really tell which leg was ailing him.

The horse shipped home to Woodbine on Sunday and came off the van fine, too. They jogged him along the shedrow and he seemed fine. But on Monday morning, Black noticed a little swelling in his left pastern and called for an ultrasound.

MacLellan said veterinarians told him that the horse's ankle joint was like that of a 2-year-old. It was perfect, bone-wise. But the ultrasound showed a small tear in the superficial digital flexor tendon, one of the most common injuries to a horse. But because a horse doesn't have a large blood supply in that area, it takes a long time to heal. Black said veterinarians suggested six months.

"At seven years old, and having done everything that he's done, you'd hate to bring him back and have something worse happen to him," Black said.

"We're just not going to go through that," MacLellan said.

Rahy's Attorney has been the highlight of Black's new career as a trainer. A former steeplechase jockey in England, Black worked for 30 years as farm manager for the highly successful Kinghaven Farms. He hung out his own training shingle at Woodbine in 2005, with only six horses in his stable.

Rahy's Attorney came to his barn the following year as a 2-year-old. He didn't look like a stakes winner back then. Still, Rahy's Attorney eventually took Black to a mile race in Kyoto, Japan, where he was beaten by only four lengths.

"He's been around us for a long time now on a daily basis," Black said. "He has such great desire and character, just a lovely horse. It's sad. We're all going to miss him, but he's still going to be around to enjoy the rest of his life. We've had a great ride with him."

MacLellan says Rahy's Attorney isn't a candidate to be turned out into a field for the rest of his life. He needs something more. Perhaps he will turn into a stable pony, happy to watch the comings and goings on the racetrack. Perhaps, Black suggested, he would get on him, himself.

Back in March, Rahy's Attorney won the Pan American Handicap at 1 ½ miles at Gulfstream Park in Florida, although he'd been known formerly as a miler. For the first time, Wilson rode him and when she guided him to the win, it became the first stakes win in the United States for Wilson, the owners of Rahy's Attorney, and for Black, too.

"I'm such a fan of the guy," she said. "I think everybody at Woodbine is. The number of people that sent text messages, congratulations, it was huge. I felt like I had Canada behind me. Nice."

He was that kind of horse.


Total Body Workout: 3 Exercises

By Shawn McKee, Staff Writer

Increasing time constraints and countless exercise options make it difficult to find an effective fitness plan that
fits your busy schedule, but your workout doesn’t have to be as complicated as your life. You can get a total body workout in just three moves.

“People get too caught up in complexity in just about everything,” explains eDiets Chief Fitness Pro Raphael Calzadilla. “A workout doesn’t have to be complicated in order to be effective.”

He recommends focusing on compound movements that work multiple muscle groups at the same time to burn more calories and “get more bang for your buck.”

Limiting your workouts to three compound exercises will allow you to focus on proper form while still getting a total body workout.

“It’s not always the exercises but more the technique, level of intensity and consistency that you bring to the workouts,” says Raphael. “You can fully work a muscle in as little as 3-4 sets, but you may need 8-9 sets to accomplish the same thing if you’re using ineffective technique and intensity.”

Focus on these exercises for a simple workout that will produce results, but Raphael insists you first think about what you want from your workout.

“Always consider the goal. If your goal is to increase overall strength, make an impact on many muscle groups and look leaner and tighter, then these workouts will work for you,” says Raphael.

Raphael also put together a home version of this workout for those times when your life gets too busy to make it to the gym.

“Here are workouts you can do at the gym (with weights) and at home on other days without weights. This will provide some balance between the gym and home and keep you motivated,” says Raphael.

Perform the workouts on 3 non-consecutive days per week. You can do a gym workout on Monday, home workout on Wednesday and gym workout on Friday. The following week, simply reverse the order and start with the home workouts.

Remember to warm up before each workout and to stretch after each workout.

Gym workout Instructions:
Circuit each of the exercises and build to a point where you can perform 4-5 sets per exercise (4-5 circuits). Don’t take any rest time between the exercises. However, after performing the 3rd exercise, rest 30 seconds. Then repeat 1-3 again.

You might only get 12 reps on the second circuit, 10 reps on the 3rd circuit, etc. but that’s fine. It simply means you’re fatiguing the muscle. If you can perform more than 15 reps on the first set, then increase the weight slightly.

Gym workout

1. Barbell or dumbbell squat – set of 15 reps
2. Flat or incline dumbbell bench press – set of 15 reps
3. Lat pulldown – set of 15 reps

Based on your schedule, if you have to repeat the same workout (i.e. gym workout on Mon. and Wed.), simply try to add a rep to each set. You may not be able to, but make it the goal. In a short period of time you’ll be increasing reps and weight.

Dumbell Squats
Start – Stand up straight with feet shoulder width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms hanging down
at your sides and palms facing one another. Maintain a neutral spine and a slight bend in the knees throughout the exercise.

Movement – Lower your body by bending from your hips and knees stopping when your thighs are parallel with the floor. Contracting the quadriceps muscles, slowly return to the starting position.

Key Points – Exhale while returning to the starting position. Inhale while lowering your body. Do not let your knees ride over your toes (you should be able to see your feet at all times). It helps to find a marker on the wall to keep your eye on as you lift and lower, otherwise your head may tend to fall forward and your body will follow. Think about sitting back in a chair as you are lowering down. Push off with your heels as you return to the starting position.

Caution – Practice this exercise without weights until you master the movement. It is a very effective exercise that involves most of the muscle groups of the lower body, but if done improperly can lead to injuries.

Dumbell Bench Press

Start – Lie on a flat bench with your spine in a neutral position. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at chest level with your upper arm parallel to the floor and your elbows facing outward.

Movement – Contracting the chest muscles, press both arms upward above the chest until the arms are almost fully extended with a slight bend in the elbows. Slowly return to the starting position.

Key Points – Exhale while lifting the weights. Inhale while returning to the starting position.

Caution – Do not attempt to lower below parallel because it places undue stress on the shoulders.

Lat Pull Down
Start – Extend your arms up and reach for a straight bar with an overhand grip. Sit tall with your knees supported under the leg pad with the knees and hips at a 90 degree angle. Arms should be slightly wider than
shoulder width apart with a slight bend in the elbows. Relax your shoulders and keep your chest lifted.

Movement – Contracting the upper back muscles, pull the bar down leading with the elbows stopping when the bar is just above your chest. Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of the weight stack touching.

Key Points – Exhale while lifting the weight. Inhale while returning to the starting position. Do not allow your upper back to round or your chest to cave in.

Home workout instructions:

Circuit each of the exercises as you did with the gym workouts. Perform as many reps as possible for pushups, 15-20 steps of walking lunges in one direction and then turn around and return for another 15-20 steps to the start position. Then get on the stationary bike (or cardio of your choice) and bike at a fast speed for 2 minutes.

Remember to warm up before each workout and to stretch after each workout.

Home Workout

1. Pushups – aim for 10 reps or as many as possible.

2. Walking lunges (stationary lunges for beginners) – 15 steps one direction, turn around and walk lunge 15 steps to the start position.

3. Stationary bicycle, jump rope or cardio of your choice – 2 minutes at a high intensity but not so fast that you burn out too quickly.

Watch the video below for a beginner’s version of the workout with demonstrations of wall pushups and stationary lunges:

Based on your schedule, if you have to repeat the same workout (gym workout on Mon and Wed), simply try to add a rep to each set. You may not be able to, but make it the goal. In a short period of time you’ll be increasing reps and weight.



Motivational Note

The compassion we feel normally is biased and mixed with attachment. Genuine compassion flows towards all living beings, particularly your enemies. If I try to develop compassion towards my enemy, it may not benefit him directly, he may not even be aware of it. But it will immediately benefit me by calming my mind. On the other hand, if I dwell on how awful everything is, I immediately lose my peace of mind.

Source:  Dalai Lama