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August 25, 2011

What a turnstile of weather this week in Toronto!  As I write this opening
paragraph, the winds are blowing, the lightening strikes and thunder booms. Earthquakes and tornados and hurricanes, oh my!  Please stay safe as once again the weather shifts. 

An all-star cast hits Toronto in
Church Girl. 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!

I have a offer for you this week! If you can answer who this true story is based on, then you could win tickets!  The answer is under HOT EVENTS and you can enter HERE.

Such a loss to community in the passing of Jack Layton as well as the music world with the passing of Nick Ashford of Ashford and
Simpson fame. I met Nick Ashford many times at the Sugar Bar in New York and not only was he a gentleman but he was also very generous with his time and talents. A real songwriter ... RIP Nick Ashford and Jack Layton.  See related stories under SCOOP.

Also featured this week is news on Saidah Baba Talibah and her recent win, the passing of legend Lincoln "Warchild" Russell, K'Naan in Somalia and new settings on Facebook. Check it all out under TOP STORIES

In addition, some scoop on
Gary Clark, Jr., Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, TIFF, Steve Jobs of APPLE, the National Basketball League of Canada, Heavy D and much more.

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! Want to shortcut the scrolling?  Choose your
favourite topic at the index to the right! 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.


Songwriter Nick Ashford Dies; Had Throat Cancer

Source:  By Nekesa Mumbi Moody, AP Music Writer

(August 22, 2011) NEW YORK (AP) —
Nick Ashford, one-half of the legendary Motown songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson that penned elegant, soulful classics for the likes of Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye and funk hits for Chaka Khan and others, died Monday at age 70, his former publicist said.

Ashford, who along with wife Valerie Simpson wrote some of Motown's biggest hits, died in a New York City hospital, said publicist Liz Rosenberg, who was Ashford's longtime friend. He had been suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment, she told The Associated Press.

Though they had some of their greatest success at Motown with classics like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand" by Ross and "You're All I Need To Get By" by Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Ashford & Simpson also created anthems for others, like "I'm Every Woman" by Khan (and later remade by Whitney Houston). Ashford & Simpson also had success writing for themselves: Perhaps the best-known song they sang was the 1980s hit "Solid As A Rock."

"His music is unmatched in terms of great songwriting," Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire said after learning of his friend's death.

"They had magic and that's what creates those wonderful hits, that magic," White added. "Without those songs, those artists wouldn't have been able to go to the next level."

Others in the music industry also mourned the loss. On Twitter, Alicia Keys wrote, "I'm so sad that he's gone. ... So many of the greatests are going to a greater place ... what a legacy of infectious music ... man!"

Ashford and Simpson's relationship stretched more than four decades. They met in 1964 in a New York City church. Ashford, a South Carolina native, had come to the city to pursue a dance career. Simpson was a music student, and after connecting with her, they decided to start to write songs together.

"They were always comfortable with each other and they made all of us comfortable, because they were comfortable," White said.

Their first major success occurred when they came up with "Let's Go Get Stoned" for Ray Charles. The bluesy, gospel-tinged song became a huge hit for Charles, and soon, they came to the attention of Motown Records and began penning hits for their artists.

They started out writing soulful, romantic works for the duo of Gaye and Terrell that would become instant classics, like "Your Precious Love," and "Ain't Nothin' Like The Real Thing." In fact, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was originally their hit, until Ross later rerecorded it with a new arrangement that had sweeping pop grandeur and made it her signature song.

Ross may have been their greatest muse: With her, they had some of their biggest songs and helped give her career-defining hits that would distinguish her solo career apart from The Supremes. Among the songs Ross made hits were "Reach Out and Touch," ''The Boss," ''My House," and "Missing You," a tribute to the late Gaye and others. They also composed some of the music for "The Wiz," the movie musical that starred Ross and Michael Jackson.

In an industry where marriages and partnerships are fleeting, Ashford and Simpson stood the test of time.

"The thing is they were married and working together, that was what was special about them. Everybody admired that," White said.

The duo, married for 38 years, helped sell millions of records for several artists. They also had success as their own entity, but despite "Solid As a Rock," their songs were dwarfed by those they penned for others. They continued to craft hits even into the new millennium: They are credited as co-writers on Amy Winehouse's "Tears Dry On Their Own."

In recent years, the pair continued to perform. They also were owners of the New York City restaurant Sugar Bar, where many top names and emerging talents would put on showcases.

In 2002, Ashford & Simpson were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Ashford is survived by his wife and two daughters. Rosenberg said there is no information yet on funeral arrangements.

Reaction To Jack Layton's Death

Source: www.thestar.com - By Jason Anderson

(Aug 22, 2011)
Jack Layton, the New Democratic Party leader who led his party to Official Opposition status in this year’s federal election, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 61.

"We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday, August 22," said a statement from his wife Olivia Chow and his children Sarah and Michael Layton. "He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton’s funeral arrangements will be forthcoming."

Layton announced July 25 that he would take a leave of absence as
party leader to fight a second, and evidently much more serious, bout of cancer

“Your support and well wishes are so appreciated. Thank you,” Layton, posted to the social media site Twitter. “I will fight this and beat it."

It ended up being the last public announcement he would make in his long political career, which saw him evolve from campus activist to rabble-rousing left-wing municipal councillor to the most electorally successful leader of the federal New Democrats in history.

Jack Layton's final letter to all Canadians, dated Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011, two days before he died:

Dear Friends,
Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to
wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,
Jack Layton

Jack And Olivia: Their Love Story

Source: www.thestar.com - Kristin Rushowy

(Aug 22, 2011) Politics is what drives Jack Layton and Olivia Chow – and what brought them together. The Toronto city councillors met 13 years ago when she was running for school trustee and he for city council, both of them for the New Democratic Party. Layton, 48, grew up in Montreal and has a Ph.D. in political science. He teaches at the University of Toronto. Chow, 41, came to Canada in 1970 from Hong Kong and attended the Ontario College of Art and worked as a sculptor before getting involved in social activism and politics. She also teaches at George Brown College. The two live in downtown Toronto with Chow's mother and Layton's two children from a previous marriage.

JACK: It was 1985 that we first met. We'd known of each other before that, but the moment of first attraction was at an auction we were doing for a hospital, I was the auctioneer. It was for a largely Cantonese-speaking crowd, held at Village by the Grange, and Olivia was the translator.

I found myself doing this auction with this absolutely stunning, drop-dead gorgeous, amazing woman and realizing that she was also going to be running in the upcoming election. So we thought we should go and have lunch together, and talk about the campaign. We ended up campaigning together later, and smooching in the hallways of downtown Toronto apartment buildings.

It was definitely a love-at-first-sight situation, and we've had an absolutely wonderful, joyous life ever since.

We went on our first date about three weeks after auctioning. We had a couple of dates and it became pretty clear that we were very interested in each other, at which point she took off on a pre-arranged canoe trip with three other guys – we're all good friends. To make a long story short, she came back and we took off to a friend's cottage for the weekend and moved in together as soon as we came back.

Her mother was very sceptical about me in the beginning. I wasn't the race that she'd imagined her daughter hooking up with, and, as someone who already had children, I think that was a bit of an issue in her mind. I didn't speak Cantonese, I wasn't a doctor or a lawyer. I think it was mostly that I devoured every one of her recipes with such enthusiasm that I ate my way into her affections.

The first time I had dinner with Mrs. Chow, she had some of her Mahjongg buddies over, so I was definitely on display there. I devoured the food and, at the end, I asked how to say "thank you for the good food." Now, depending on the tone you use, you can give it a totally different meaning. So I said it, with much enthusiasm, and there was this shocked silence as everyone tried to figure out what I was trying to say. One lady fell off the couch she was laughing so hard, and Olivia was in stitches. I'd just said "thank you for the good sex" in a rather raw way. My faux pas broke the ice completely. We've been good buddies ever since.

My parents were in love with Olivia from the first second. In fact, my father had been in Hong Kong in 1970, which is the year Olivia came over here. He brought back to my mom, who is a master seamstress, one of those red, Chinese wedding dresses with the embroidery on it because he thought she'd love the embroidery. When I told mom that we were getting married, she said "I don't suppose there's any remote possibility that this dress would fit but let's just take it out and have a look at it." Of course, it fit. So the wedding dress came over from Hong Kong the same time Olivia did, she just didn't know who she was going to be wearing it with.

Aside from the passionate commitment on some very similar issues, the ones we've spent our lives' work on, we also enjoy each other's company socially and we have a lot of fun together. We're either in stitches or organizing something, those are the most common states of mind.

We enjoy the same kinds of recreation - physical kind of stuff, she introduced me to whitewater canoeing and I introduced her to long-distance cycling. We have a bicycle built for two, that was our wedding gift, and we go on trips all over the place with that. We try to do one of those types of holidays every year, away from the city and our cell phones. We don't think about work and we don't talk about it.

I love her wisdom, and her youthful enthusiasm. She's got really great values on the issues - justice for people and fairness, economic fairness, respect for rights, these things motivate both of us. She's a wonderful friend. I'm her biggest fan and I pretty much gush about her all the time.

The incredible good fortune is that we've ended up on the same council together. Every night when we come home, around 11, we'll discuss the issues as we sit at the kitchen table. We try to rule out getting into too many long discussions when we're going to bed, but it doesn't always work. Issues are always on the agenda, there's no time out from that. The marriage is built all around that, it sounds corny but it's our way of celebrating life - working a lot, trying to help build a more just, equitable and environmentally sound planet for the next generations.

OLIVIA: We were auctioning for Mount Sinai hospital at the Village by the Grange, it was late at night - 1985, I think. Jack and I knew each other from political work, but this was the first time we'd had a conversation. We talked about work, campaigns, philosophy, beliefs, religion.

You sort of know after a while, you're at that age - you're not 16 anymore - and you know the kind of person you want. I think we share similar goals in life, we know what we want and value - justice, fairness, love, be good to your neighbour – it's what motivates us. So to meet someone who has that motivation and the obsessive drive similar to mine was not easy. Remember, I dated to 28 before I met him so I had lots of choices.

It was completely coincidental, us living in the same co-op. We didn't quite live together, he was on the 10th floor, I was on the fifth floor with my mom. There were lots of elevator rides that I was sort of half awake, wondering what floor am I on? So, yes, we sort of lived together but technically my address was on the fifth floor.

We married in 1988, I think we did it because we wanted a big party. The ceremony was more a commitment to the city and a commitment to each other; it was very warm, very inspiring. We even raised funds for three charities - rather than sending us presents, we asked guests to send donations to certain places, if they wanted.

Where we had the wedding, at Algonquin Island overlooking the lake and the city, was symbolic. Both of our ministers integrated their sermons, psalms and poetry into a commitment, a love for two persons and the community of friends and to the bigger community. We wanted to do it because we had different cultures at the wedding, and we wanted to represent the merging of the cultures – the more Western churchy thing, the Chinese bow to heaven and earth thing and then the tea, and then we had our gay friends talk about how same sex partners should be able to get married. We did that so our Chinese friends would be more knowledgeable to our other group of friends because they don't necessarily cross. In Jack's mind we had over 1,000 people there but I think we had 900. He tends to go over the top a bit.

We are both very religious in non-religious ways. We share spiritual values in our understanding of the universe and why we are here. We're influenced by the same philosophy and religious values, and politics is really a manifestation of what we believe in. Even if tomorrow we both left politics, that would not change. For us, that soul part, spiritual dimension, is the same.

We do have a bit of trouble co-ordinating our calendar - he never knows what I'm doing and I never know what he's doing and we often double-book. Last week, I had a party here and he had a party scheduled. here, too. So I bumped his elsewhere.

This story first appeared in the Star on Jan. 3, 1999.


Saidah Baba Talibah Takes The Top Prize At Harbourfront Centre Soundclash Music Award!

Source:  CLK Creative Works

TORONTO, ON (Aug. 22, 2011) – Harbourfront Centre’s SoundClash Music Award presented by NOW Magazine has a winner! With the help of public votes and a panel of judges, Harbourfront Centre and its lead summer partner the Toronto Port Authority are pleased to announce Saidah Baba Talibah as the winner of this summer’s newest music competition!

Talibah is a founding member of the soul/rock group
Blaxäm and was prominently featured on their 1998 EP, “Kiss My Afro.” She is the daughter of the internationally renowned jazz/blues singer and actress Salome Bey, whom she credits greatly for her talent and ambition. Her debut album (S)Cream came out earlier this month on Last Gang Labels/Universal and received venerable response from Giant Step, OkayPlayer, Exclaim!, AOL Spinner and NOW Magazine. NOW Magazine even featured her new album as a ‘Disc of the Week’ and gave it a prestigious 4-N rating.

Talibah’s SoundClash Music Award entry was filtered from over 250
entries submitted in April 2011. With only five shortlist spots available in the competition, a group of specially selected music industry experts (jurors) narrowed down the list to Saidah Baba Talibah, Miles Jones, Worst Pop Band Ever, Kids & Explosions, and Young Empires. Each band performed live on the WestJet Stage during the Hot Spot Summer at Harbourfront Centre this past July.

"When the late Miles Davis used to try to describe good jazz music, and he wasn't sure why it was so good, he would say that it just has ‘that thing’. The French might call it ‘je ne sais quoi.’ Clearly, in a live performance format, Saidah has this indefinable thing!” says Harbourfront Centre’s Lead Artistic Programmer,
Dalton Higgins. “She showcased her sassy vocal chops, coupled with great live musicianship, gutsy songwriting and costuming (no, that tradition ain't fully dead), so she clearly deserved to win."

As the winner of the competition, Taibah will receive $5,000 plus additional prizes and is set to perform at the upcoming
Hot & Spicy Food Festival on Sept. 2 at 8 p.m. on the WestJet Stage. In second place, Kids & Explosions take away $3,000 and the remaining cash prize of $2,000 goes to Young Empires. Honourable mentions to Miles Jones and the Worst Pop Band Ever for making the shortlist and for participating in Harbourfront Centre’s first major music award!

What is the SoundClash Music Award?

SoundClash is a new Harbourfront Centre initiative designed to showcase Toronto’s talented, creative and forward-thinking independent musicians. This past summer, five
independent artists or bands had the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of some of Toronto’s top musicians, play on Harbourfront Centre’s WestJet Stage and compete for three cash prizes totaling $10,000!

While other music competitions focus on specific genres, SoundClash was
open to musicians from a wide variety of genres. Artists from diverse, contemporary and cutting-edge music forms including (but not limited to) rock, pop, hip hop, country, reggae, Latin and other global music forms were encouraged to apply. www.harbourfrontcentre.com/soundclash

For additional information and complete event listings, the public may visit harbourfrontcentre.com/summer or call the Information Hotline at
416-973-4000. Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West in the heart of downtown Toronto’s waterfront.


Hot spots may not always be comfortable, but they are conduits of change. Embrace change or defy it – it is ultimately up to you. This summer, Harbourfront Centre presents programming that asks: What’s your hot spot?


Harbourfront Centre is an innovative, non-profit cultural organization which provides internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation, all within a collection of distinctive venues on a 10-acre site in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront. For more information visit harbourfrontcentre.com.


The Toronto Port Authority, Harbourfront Centre’s lead summer partner, owns and operates the Port of Toronto, the Billy Bishop Airport, and the Outer Harbour Marina. It is committed to building a waterfront community that is vibrant and enjoyable for Torontonians and visitors, by working with partners to create a clean, green, prosperous water’s edge. For more information visit torontoport.com.

Somali Rapper K'naan Visits Famine-Stricken Homeland

www.globeandmail.com - By Abdi Guled, The Associated Press

(Aug 21, 2011) Somali-born rapper K'naan brought his waving flag back home Sunday, promising to help his countrymen as they struggle with a devastating famine that has killed tens of thousands of children.

The rapper, who left Somalia as a child more than two decades ago to settle in Canada, made a brief visit to Mogadishu on Sunday. He was mobbed by famine refugees who tried to shake his hand or hug him as he toured Mogadishu's Banadir Hospital and met with malnourished children.

"I came to Somalia to see the situation here and give any donation I have to the people and anything else available," he said, speaking in Somali. "I will do all I can to help my people in Somalia."

He did not perform his hit song "Wavin' Flag," which tells of the difficulties he faced growing up in the lawless, impoverished Horn of Africa nation. A version of that song was used for a Coca-Cola campaign when South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup.

The United Nations says more than 3.2 million Somalis need food aid. The U.S. says 29,000 Somali children under age 5 have died.

The UN says tens of thousands of people already have died in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti and has warned that the famine hasn't peaked. More than 12 million people in the region need food aid, according to the UN Somalia has been hit hardest because of a confluence of conflict and climate change.

Decades of violence in Somalia has left population vulnerable to the vagaries of weather changes. Islamist insurgents are also attempting to overthrow Somalia's weak UN-backed government. The most dangerous among the groups is the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militant group, which has barred aid agencies from operating in the territories it controls in southern Somalia.

The southern parts of Somalia, which are mainly under the control of al-Shabab extremists, have been worst affected because of the group's refusal to allow in key humanitarian groups including the World Food Program, the world's major aid provider.

Lincoln ‘Warchild’ Russell Passes Away After Battle With CIDP

Source: HipHopCanada

(August 18, 2011)
Toronto, ON – We are sad to post about the loss of a member of the Toronto community, Lincoln “Warchild” Russell, who passed away a few days ago after a tough battle with Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP). Lincoln, a celebrated actor, personal trainer and martial artist was highly respected in the scene and gave a lot back to the community.

This past December,
Director X presented The Lincoln Rising’s Fundraiser Dinner & Birthday Party to raise money to help cover the cost of the vast expenses associated with treating CIDP. Although the Canadian health care system had benefitted Lincoln through his struggle, it did not cover all expenses.

The Lincoln Rising was formed to aid Lincoln with expenses incurred by the restructuring of his everyday life. The event brought out a ton of well-known names in support including, to name a few, Kardinal Offishall, Aion Clarke, Noah “40″ Shebib and Drake, who can be seen with Lincoln in the photo. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Russell family in this trying time.

Facebook Changes Photo, Privacy Settings

Source: www.thestar.com - Barbara Ortutay

(Aug 23, 2011) SAN FRANCISCO — Drunken revellers rejoice: Facebook will now let you decide whether your friends can attach your name to a photo before it is circulated.

Currently, your friends can add your name to a photo on Facebook without your consent or knowledge. You can remove it later, but only after lots of others may have seen the embarrassing shots. Now, you can insist on pre-approval.

This won’t affect whether your friends can add a photo of you, only whether your name is attached to it. Still, not having the name, known as a tag, can make it more difficult for people to find a potentially embarrassing photo in a search.

Facebook said on Tuesday that the change is in response to user requests. Pre-approving photo tags has been the most requested change, said Kate O’Neill, product manager for Facebook. The pre-approval process will also apply to written posts that others tag you in. In addition, you have the option of pre-approving what others tag on your own photos and posts.

The company is making other changes to its privacy controls, too. These changes won’t affect what information will be made public or private. Rather, they will affect how users can control what they are sharing in an effort to make the process simpler.

“We are making it easier for people to share what they want, every time (they) post,” O’Neill said.

The changes will be rolled out starting Thursday.

Facebook has long been trying to simplify its privacy settings, which have many moving parts and have confused a lot of users. That confusion partly results from Facebook’s efforts to let users apply different privacy settings to different parts of their profile on the site. But the company has also come under fire for pushing users toward disclosing more about their interests to the public.

Among the latest changes:

•Instead of going to a separate settings page, privacy controls will be on users’ profile pages, next to the information they share, such as the music they like or the schools they went to. Previously, most these controls were located several clicks away on an “account settings” page.

•Instead of calling public posts visible to “everyone,” Facebook will now simply call these “public.”

•Facebook is also making a feature called “view profile as” more prominent. This lets you type in the name of another Facebook user and see how your profile looks to that person. For example, if you hide your photos and favourite music from some of your Facebook friends, this content won’t show up if you view your profile as one of them.

•In a nod to Google Plus, the online search leader’s fledgling social network, Facebook is making it easier to share posts with specific groups of people. A drop-down menu next to each post you make will let you select “public,” “friends” or a “custom” audience. Over time, Facebook said this menu will expand to include smaller groups of people.

•You will now be able to tag anyone on Facebook, even if you are not friends with them. They will have to approve your request to tag, though, before the photo or post shows up on their profile.


You'll Know Gary Clark Jr.'S Name By The End Of The Night

www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

Gary Clark Jr.
At the Rivoli
In Toronto on Friday

(Aug 21, 2011) What a superb thing, in these days of phoney
hullabaloo, to see a new artist walking the walk. "You're gonna know my name by the end of the night," sang the great black hope of the blues. We knew it before, Gary Clark Jr. We heard your train a-comin'.

Carrying a blues-revival burden (without complaints) on his shoulders and a briefcase full of press clippings, the Texas guitarist arrived in Toronto Friday for the final of four Canadian appearances that began with a spot at the Dutch Mason Blues Festival in Truro, N.S.

At the small, tight-fit Rivoli on Queen Street West, a mixed crowd - of young ladies wearing fedoras and older men smelling of Harley Davidsons - saw Clark close his charismatic, sprawling main set with the brooding swagger of Bright Lights. The lean musician's groove was greased, his haze was a psychedelic shade of purple, and his blues were sky-kissed.

With a repertoire that was broad in style and with a soulful flair that clearly pleased, Clark had shown he justified the hype and all the hot fuss surrounding him. In general, with the help of his very able backing bassist and drummer, Clark's approach is muscular and sinuous. He is clearly in thrall with the fireworks of Jimi Hendrix, the elegant funk of Curtis Mayfield and the deep-blues potency of a Freddie King. But he dabbles in more styles than just those.

Don't Owe You a Thing was hip-shaking swamp-boogie in the manner of Slim Harpo, an upbeat declaration of Clark's fine accounts-payable status.  The slow, forlorn twelve bars of Lowell Fulson's 3 O'Clock Blues, sung smoothly with no calculated emotionalism, were a timely change from some of his more rugged material.

Clark is in favour of doo-wop falsetto ballads from the Eisenhower era, though he's not so slavish to the genre that he wouldn't interrupt the retro mood with a raw-struck solo from his hollow-body electric.

We heard juke-joint romps and droning Delta blues. Homage was paid to Chuck Berry. On the oft-covered My Baby's Gone, the earthy slide-guitar shuffle of Elmore James was saluted.  

Softer moments were had with a two-song solo spotlight, comprised of the genteel finger-picking of Elizabeth Cotten's Freight Train and the sweetly sad Mississippi night of Clark's own When the Sun Goes Down, about a love in vain.

An encore set unforeseeably placed a modern slow jam (Things Are Changing, off his just-out major-label debut Bright Lights EP) directly aside the down-home country-blues chug of One Way Out. That particular show of versatility was not necessarily needed, but it did testify to Clark's unwillingness to be placed in any one box.

And speaking of not being placed in boxes, the blues genre wakes up one more morning. Clark, who was the hit of hip festivals in Tennessee and Texas, and whose amalgamation of old influences sounds new-fashioned, is now seeing the same bright lights and big cities that Jimmy Reed saw in the 1950s, and he is taking to them seemingly without a flinch. At one point he reached up and adjusted the onstage lighting, fixing the angle just so. The sometimes actor is photogenic and popular. We saw all his best sides.

The Weeknd's New Mixtape Sets Web Ablaze

www.thestar.com - by: Garnet Fraser

(Aug 19, 2011) It happened just around midnight - that is, Thursday might have actually got released on Friday. So maybe the title of The Weeknd's long-rumoured mixtape was meant as mere misdirection all along. If so, well played, Abel Tesfaye and friends - from the moment your Twitter feed and that of your mentor Drake announced that the album was released, it's been putting the various sites you can download it from under siege.

Our efforts came to naught overnight, as we were one of the countless desperate thousands (millions?) chasing overstressed links and receiving no response or the dread 503 ("Service Unavailable") error. Now however, in mid-morning - most R&B/hip hop heads have to work, and maybe a few are just late sleepers - we're getting results
here. If you loved their first release House of Balloons, or you're the sort who joins in a chase just because the people at the front must know something (just like in Benny Hill!), give it a try. The Star will review Thursday in next Tuesday's paper.

In the meantime, here's House of Balloons to listen to at work, and appropriate visual accompaniment:

Aaliyah: One In A Million Tribute This Thursday on BET

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 24, 2011) *This Thursday, BET will be airing the long anticipated Aaliyah tribute special, celebrating the life of the singer 10 years after her death.

“With ‘Aaliyah: One In A Million,’ we celebrate her life, her music and what she meant to so many,” said Stephen Hill, BET’s executive VP of programming. “Aaliyah was a beautiful angel and we’re so glad that we were able to assemble her friends and loved ones for this unique special.”

The special will include memorable video clips, interviews, and personal stories from her friends and family. It will air at 8 p.m.

Video: Lauryn Hill Talks About ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 24, 2011) *Lauryn Hill is making a graceful come-back on her performance spree. This past weekend, the singer rocked the stage with hits form “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” at the Los Angeles Rock the Bells fest.

Also, she’s letting her fans in on what brought her to be such a great artist in the exclusive film series, “Classic Albums By Classic Artists.”

In a clip, the Grammy award winner shared her thought about what made that album such a headliner.

“I think we understood that ['The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'] was going to be landmark, but I don’t think I understood to what degree other people would really be deeply impacted by what was done,” Hill states. “I say all the time, I
make music not necessarily for selfish reasons, but I make the music I want to hear. And when you find that other people want to hear that too, how could you not be excited about that.”

She also elaborated on the different elements the album presented.

“[It was] low and high culture coming together,” used the album as a way to educate people about life lessons and amazing music. “I was excited about taking this music that I thought was beautiful — old school, doo-wop music, cats used to harmonize — just taking that and making something contemporary that my generation could get excited about,” she shares.

Music As A Sideshow At TIFF, Walk Of Fame

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

(August 24, 2011) Canadian music is, and maybe always will be, a lot more popular with the people of this land than other forms of culture. Probably the average crowd of Canucks would gladly trample Carlo Rota to get close to Gord Downie or Chad Kroeger. So maybe it's not surprising that events that aren't about music - like the Summerworks theatre fest - nonetheless find reasons to work some tunes and tunesmith into their agendas.

So it is with the Toronto International Film Festival and
Canada's Walk of Fame. The latter honours Canadians from all walks of life and the latter's niche is self-explanatory, but they both add music to their itineraries. The film fest's "Festival Music House" at the Mod Club is bringing together the following acts:

Monday, Sept. 12:

The Midway State
Hannah Georgas
Dinosaur Bones
Hooded Fang

Tuesday, Sept. 13
Sam Roberts Band
The Sheepdogs
Ladies Of The Canyon

Wednesday, Sept. 14
The Rural Alberta Advantage
Hey Rosetta!
The Darcys

A couple of weeks later, Canada's Walk of Fame - on the way toward inducting Roberta Bondar, Daniel Nestor and Ryan Reynolds along with Burton Cummings - likewise convenes three days of musical performers for free shows at David Pecaut Square:

Friday, Sept. 30:

John Kay & Steppenwolf
Parachute Club
Skratch Bastid
Warren Flandez
Sean Jones
Liam Titcomb

Saturday, Oct. 1:

Ashley MacIsaac
Keys N Krates
Beverly Marquis
Carleton Stone
Shawn Hlookoff
Carl Dixon
Elisapie Isaac

Sunday, Oct. 2:

Suzie McNeil
Jully Black
Serena Ryder
Lizzy Melody
Liz Coyle
Stacey Bulmer
Lindi Ortega
The Heartbroken

These free package shows to tend to be short sets, but you can't beat the price, and it's a great way to catch up with bands' latest works. (Well, maybe you shouldn't count on that with Steppenwolf.) The Arkells, though, have a new album Michigan Left out in October. Colour me intrigued:

VIDEO: Bradleyboy: Best Boy Of The Blues


(Aug 17, 2011) Bradley MacArthur’s life has taken some interesting twists and turns over the years, he’ll be the first to admit, but one of the most peculiar has to be the Orono-based one-man blues band’s recent signing to Toronto’s Awesome Records.

That someone has finally signed Bradleyboy — as he’s known onstage — isn’t the strange part. From 2005 on, the prolific backwoods belter put out six records on his own, the last couple of them quite fantastic, whilst at the same time crafting a scarily charismatic psychotic-hillbilly stage persona and perfecting one of the most riveting, rough-’n’-ready live shows to slap the contemporary Toronto blues scene upside the head in a long while. And the Toronto blues scene appears to be taking notice: MacArthur is one of the finalists in the Toronto Blues Society talent search, which wraps up Thursday with a lunchtime battle of the bands in Nathan Philips Square.

No, the odd thing about MacArthur’s new venture with the EMI-affiliated Awesome Records imprint, which saw the nationwide release of his latest album,
Salt Gun, this past June, is that the label typically handles club-friendly electronic dance music. House, techno, drum ‘n’ bass and the like. So while one could indeed argue that the blues is the original dance music, it generally hasn’t been the sort of dance music with which Awesome has been associated.

“This was totally unsolicited,” says MacArthur over a patio pint near his favourite Toronto haunt, the Dakota Tavern. “I was doing my regular once-a-month set at the Dakota and, this one night, I saw this table of people who looked kind of out of place in the Dakota crowd. And then after my first set, a lady approached me . . .

“I went and checked out the label and it was exactly like you said, man. Dance music, house music. Where’s the 50-year-old one-man roots band fit into this mix? And when I met with them, that was one of the first things I said to them, just to be candid. And Awesome said to me: ‘The reason why is you’re real. We like what you do.’ ”

The Awesome in question is Assim Awan, who runs the label that bears his nickname.

Diversifying the Awesome roster has been one of Awan’s preoccupations of late, he says, and he’s been specifically targeting acts with deadly live shows. Needless to say, the Bradleyboy MacArthur experience — one gruff, red-faced dude bellowing distorted darkness over fuzzed-out guitar and banjo, screeching harp and a homemade suitcase kick drum — fit the bill.

“I watched the performance and said: ‘This is fantastic,’” says Awan. “He’s very entertaining, and not too many people can do it and pull it off and deliver it in the fashion that he does it. So once I saw it I became convinced he was an artist we should be involved with.”

MacArthur came to his singular performance style by a circuitous route. He’s worked a number of trades throughout his life, from sawmill hand to steel walker — he spent 25 years balancing on beams at precarious heights building tall buildings from Kapuskasing to the Bahamas — before “jumping off the train” and immersing himself in music full-time, once the seven kids from his combined marriages were grown and off fending for themselves.

“I was the guy that was climbing up on the steel,” says MacArthur, one of a long line of steel walkers in his family. “I was usually the only white man in an all-native gang.

“I loved the solitude of it. I loved being away from everybody. I loved being 120 feet in the air, standing on a climb waiting for a piece to come.”

He played in a number of reasonably successful roots bands — the Drunken Ex-Boyfriends, the Town Hall Criers and the Kent Boys — before deciding seven years ago that going it alone worked best for his solitary nature. His songs, he felt, were “just getting lost in musical etiquette,” muddied by all the musical parts jockeying for a place in the mix.

Left to his own devices, then, he came up with a swampy, surly breed of Gothic-blues minimalism that shares a DIY spirit, a raw, urgent immediacy and a fondness for dirty, dirty noise with punk rock. Small wonder, then, that MacArthur is good pals with the folks in equally punk-ish and self-sufficient local blues outfit catl, with whom he’s often tag-teamed sets at the Dakota. Along with the likes of the Black Keys and Vancouver’s Pack A.D., they’re all following the lead of the late, great White Stripes in shaking the blues out of a couple of generations’ worth of traditionalist doldrums. So, yeah, it’s a good thing that Bradleyboy is in the running to succeed The 24th Street Wailers as the victor in the Toronto Blues Society’s talent search this year.

In any case, working alone also jibes nicely with his insanely prolific output. The man writes constantly, adhering to the Michael Stipe ethos of “just speak.” He records just as much live off the floor in his Orono home studio, dubbed the Red Room. You get the sense he’d be doing what he does even if no one was paying attention.

“I dream songs,” he says. “I get up in the middle of the night, go downstairs to my studio and murmur into something at three o’clock in the morning and then wake up in the morning and go ‘Wow.’ You’ve gotta capture it then and there because if you let it swim around in your brain long enough it’ll just become bastardized after awhile. The original thought leaves, the original melody, the original feeling of it.

“I didn’t want to be playing the same songs for the next 10 years. I write constantly. Music, like any art form, evolves constantly. When I got into doing the one-man band thing, if I wrote a song today I could play it tonight.”

With Awesome Records on board, MacArthur is now looking forward to getting out of the southern-Ontario area. The label has its sights on the States and Europe, which thrills him — as does the idea of letting someone else do the bookings and the drudgework, for once.

“It’s been awesome with them,” he says, appropriately. “They’re really cool people. When I first met with them, I thought I was going to be, for lack of a better word, going into the lion’s den.

“But you know what? I think they’re starting to realize that there are a lot of cool things going on in the underground and that people are looking for a bit of ‘real,’ man.”

Inspiration At Heart Of Best Job In The World

www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(Aug 19, 2011) For six years, people not involved in the business would look awestruck when I told them I was a music critic.

“You mean you go to concerts for free?” was a typical reaction.

“I’m working when I go to a concert,” was my prepared reply. But I could tell from the looks on their faces that they didn’t think work had anything to do with it.

I think these people were on to something.

Many have said that the act of making or listening to music connects us to the eternal. The sound is ephemeral, its effects linger, but what, for me, makes it truly eternal is how the love and appreciation of music gets passed along from old to young.

Since becoming a full-time music critic six years ago, I have written 2,357 articles, reviews and arts-calendar blurbs. I have listened to about 2,000 CDs, watched in excess of 300 DVDs of operas, classical concerts and documentaries. I have attended nearly 1,000 live performances.

Now, as the Star calls me to new challenges elsewhere in the organization, I’ve sat down to figure out what made me tell people, over and over again, that I had the best job in the world.

I’ll be able to spend the long, dark winter evenings of my dotage replaying the glorious and the ghastly highlights in my head.

Most vividly etched in my soul is not the music itself but my encounters with people who work selflessly every day to make Toronto one of the great musical cities of the world and who do everything they can to light the spark of love and appreciation in each new generation.

It is natural for a lowly, quiet Canadian to look longingly at the gilded opera houses and concert halls of Europe. Our venues may not be covered in gold leaf but, thanks to the drive and stubborn determination of people like late Canadian Opera Company general director Richard Bradshaw and Royal Conservatory of Music CEO Peter Simon, we have an opera house and a recital hall worthy of the world’s finest.

These are not just buildings. They are manifestations of a vibrant civic cultural life.

I’m grateful my job gave me front-row seat to see them come to be.

Our singers, violinists, pianists, brass players, directors and conductors are the tip of a massive iceberg. There is even more going on under the waves, out of sight, and too often out of mind.

Music — any kind of music, from jazz to pop to classical — demands powerful acts of will before it can come to life. It takes people, time, inspiration and a lot of effort before the first note of a symphony can reverberate in Roy Thomson Hall.

The process includes patrons, who have over the past decade handed over millions of dollars so that classical music and opera of international calibre can thrive in Toronto. Then there are the dedicated administrators, marketers and arts council officers who keep the wheels of our culture industry turning season after season.

Ultimately, what really keeps a culture alive is adults passing it along to their offspring.

As one musician told me a while ago, “Children are not our future; they are our present.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I was brought to uncontrollable tears of joy four years ago as I watched a little girl — with such severe Down syndrome that she couldn’t focus her eyes or coordinate her limbs — respond to the work of music therapists at the
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

Music shot a bold of pure light into a darkness that the world could not otherwise penetrate.

I witnessed Moshe Hammer, a violinist with an international career, arrive at a middle-school gymnasium in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood with an armload of instruments for children whose parents would never be able to afford music lessons.

Every week, for the past three years, Hammer and a growing team of volunteers have given of their time and talent to teach and mentor in that area’s schools. The Hammer Band now numbers more than 100 tweens and teens, spreading the musical gospel in a part of the city desperately in need of inspiration.

Tireless former opera singer Ann Cooper Gay introduced me to the noisy, creative world of her Canadian Children’s Opera Company, so that I could be reminded how children don’t understand the meaning of the world “difficult.”

I had the privilege of meeting Adrian Anantawan, who didn’t let a missing forearm stop him from becoming a fine professional violinist. If that weren’t inspiration enough, he has made it his life’s mission to help other children with disabilities realize able-bodied dreams.

Sitting perched high above Harbourfront in a living room filled with a lifetime of travel and teaching, composer Michael Colgrass revealed more to me about the nature and power of creativity in the space of two hours than I had experienced in all of my 40-plus years.

It is no coincidence that he spends a lot of time working with children.

The vast majority of musicians and music teachers barely make the hop over the poverty line, but the love at the very core of their being won’t allow them to do anything else. They don’t know the meaning of 9-to-5. But they do know that passion is infectious.

Going to a concert or listening to an album opens but the tiniest window into a world of human wonder and striving: a world in perpetual growth and regeneration.

Listening to music is only a finger-tap away. Making a connection with a real, live artist takes a tiny bit more of an effort. But I promise, it’ll never feel like work.

Jennifer Hudson Talks to ‘Self’ About Weight Loss: Great Career Move!


(August 18, 2011) *
Jennifer Hudson’s weight loss has been the topic of discussion for some time now, especially since she’s dropped 80 pounds. She graces the cover of Self magazine and shared with readers her struggle with her weight.

“I didn’t even know I was considered plus-sized until I came to Hollywood,” she told the magazine. “I thought I was the perfect size!”

Coming from the Southside of Chicago and growing up thick was the norm. She continues:

“I remember one of my first times on a red carpet, an interviewer asked, ‘How does it feel to be plus-sized in Hollywood?’ I looked around, like, Who is she talking to? Oh, me? I’m plus-sized? In the neighbourhood I’m from in Chicago, a 16 is normal. But in Hollywood, everyone looks exactly the same, so I stood out.”

Once she became pregnant, the singer decided it was time for a
lifestyle change. She explained that people didn’t know she was pregnant. Besides, she wanted to be healthy for her son, who is now 2.

And since getting skinny, she’s gotten a lot more attention and Hollywood and the world treats her different.

“You never know you’re being discriminated against until you see what you’ve been deprived of. Everybody wants you to wear this or put you on the cover of that. Before, my career was great, but since losing weight, I haven’t stopped. I have worked every single day of this year.”

VIDEO: Hidden Beach’s Jill Scott Documentary on Centric this Weekend


(August 20, 2011) *
Centric, an extension of the BET network, has designated a Jill Scott weekend this  Saturday and Sunday which is inclusive of the 30 minute special “Hidden Beach Presents Jill Scott: A Documentary.” The engaging program takes viewers back to the beginning of the Hidden Beach story that birthed the queen of neo-soul’s rise to platinum fame and fortune.

The music in the documentary is inclusive of songs from the soon to be released album titled
“The Original Jill Scott From The Vault Vol. 1.” Though Miss Scott is experiencing meteoric success on a new label (Blues Babe/Warner Bros.) with her Light Of The Sun album,  all songs on her Vault collection were selected, approved and written by Jill Scott.

For the ten years that Jill was on the Hidden Beach roster, Jill engaged in lengthy studio sessions sometimes recording up to 50 songs per album. Of course only 10-15 would make the cut. The Vault contains the wonderful residual material that was not selected at the time.  Jill explains how she has been able to create so much great music:

“It comes in lumps, the lyrics come in big rocks and I feel like I don’t breathe until it’s over.”

The Jill Scott documentary is punctuated by the sentiments of (among others) Gail Mitchell, Senior Editor of Billboard, radio personality Monie Mon, artist David Banner, comedian Red Grant and Thornell Jones (of Fortress Marketing for Hidden Beach). Thornell had this to say about Hidden Beach’s decision to finally unveil what’s been in the Jill Scott vault.

“I like to use the analogy as fine wine that has been locked away for a later date. Now it’s time to open up that $2,000 bottle of wine and share it with your friends.”

Now fans can vibe on Jill Scott’s renditions of Running Away, I Don’t Know, Hold On Dear and Mr. & Mrs. Record Industry, a song where Jill lyrically puts the industry on notice to take note of real talent whose time has come.  
Pre orders of The Original Jill Scott From The Vault Vol. 1 (digital or CD) are available now along with a free mix tape; and the official release date is now August 29th!

The Original Jill Scott From The Vault Vol. 1 will be released in two versions with different distinct packaging. There is a standard 11-track edition and a deluxe edition.  The Deluxe Edition includes two live bonus tracks and a twenty page booklet with full lyrics and producer notes.  For more of what’s happening with Jill Scott, visit her official site

For more on the Jill Scott Hidden Beach documentary on Centric, go to

Post Divorce Kenny Lattimore Getting Back to Music

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 18, 2011) *There’s never a better time to make music than
during heartbreak. Kenny Lattimore is getting ready to head back to the studio following a divorce from his wife of nine years, Chante Moore.

His new album already titled, “Back to Cool,” is expected to release in 2012. The project will be guided by Jill Scott’s producer J.R. Hudson and a little taste in the form of a song called “Built to Last” will be previewed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication ceremony.

“It’s a classic Kenny Lattimore song,” Lattimore, 41, told Recordnet. “It’s got lovely lyrics. It’s a love song about the ups and downs of being in a relationship. It’s a great song. I’m really honoured. And I’m excited about the song. I’ve never sung this type of song before. It’s a big power ballad. It’s perfect for that celebration.”

As of now, the singer is taking baby steps to recovery and still has not signed with a label. But he’s doing it on purpose to give his music and team a chance to develop its own character.

“There’s something about having your own team and then combining with a major label,” Lattimore adds. “It seems to be working these days.”

Lil Wayne Invites Drake To Molson Amphitheatre Love-In

www.thestar.com - by: Ben Rayner

(August 20, 2011) “When I wake up in the morning, I work. When I wake up at night, I work,” the disembodied voice of Lil Wayne declared over the P.A. as introduction to his Friday-night set at the Molson Amphitheatre. “I work hard every day. I try not to sleep.”

Utterly believable, that statement, if you’re even remotely aware of the dogged work ethic that allowed hip-hop lifer Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., to finally claw his way to the absolute top of the hip-hop game when Tha Carter III hit beyond all expectations in the spring of 2008. Wayne’s prolific output – he’ll likely be closing in on 1,000 recorded appearances by the time you finish reading this sentence – slowed a bit during his recent stint “locked up on some bullsh--” (ie., a weapons charge) for eight months at Riker’s Island, but he managed to squeeze out two albums’ worth of tide-over material before he went away and he’s already cued up the long-awaited Aug. 29 release of Tha Carter IV with Sorry 4 the Wait, another of the innumerable free online “mixtapes” to which he owes his commercial success. If the man actually does sleep, he must have figured out a way to keep all those rhymes in mental order through lucid dreaming or some other supernatural technique.

Thing is, he doesn’t even need new material to maintain the throne, although Sorry 4 the Wait’s snide “Bill Gates” and the Carter IV’s lead-off slammer “6’7” ” admittedly detonated like old favourites on Friday night. For the most part, however, Wayne kept a near-sellout crowd of 13,000 or 14,000 poppin’ for 90 minutes on the strength of a deep back catalogue that was easily, gleefully taken up, almost track for track, by his fans whenever he felt inclined to drop the mike and let the communal moment reign supreme for a couplet or two. Spontaneously and without a hint of pandering on Weezy’s part, either; his best-known single, “Lollipop,” for instance, arrived three-quarters of the way through the 90-minute set remodelled into nearly unrecognizable form and plunked into the middle of a (shirtless and prison-buff) for-the-ladies lover-man segment that neither the many, fawning ladies in attendance nor anyone else was much buying into once the “bad” of “Mrs. Officer” and “I’m Single” gave way to the “much, much worse” of the sappy new tune “How to Love.”

One can’t help but kinda love Lil Wayne, though, even in the rare moments when he’s faltering onstage. Even when he dupes his band into cheesing out and doing the whole ill-conceived “Prom Queen”/Rebirth/rock thing for a few minutes. He’s a total smoothie, an entirely warm presence, and perhaps the only contemporary pop icon who puts out as much sincere appreciation for his audience as Lady Gaga. He still looks endearingly like that 14-year-old “Lil” kid from the Hot Boys some of you might remember from the late 1990s, too, whenever he doffs his sunglasses and cap.

“I love every one of you muthaf---as and I appreciate every single one of you,” he said at the top of the night. “I am a 28-year-old, self-made millionaire. I honestly can have anything I want whenever I want it, so why would I lie to you when I say I appreciate every single one of you?”

Then came a three-point mantra he would repeat again at the encore, before hurling his high-tops and his drummer’s drumsticks into the crowd and donning a Muhammed Ali boxing robe for a few hand-slapping victory laps of the stage while the house lights came up: “One, I believe in God. Two, I ain’t sh-- without you. And three, I ain’t sh-- without you.” The sentiment didn’t feel false at all.

Oh, yeah, Drake turned up, too.

Toronto’s gift to Wayne’s Young Money entertainment empire has been everywhere of late, turning up at local gigs by everyone from U.K. dance auteur Sbtrkt to rising R&B sensation the Weeknd to last week’s Britney Spears opener Nicki Minaj and courting an ubiquity that borders on tiresome. Still, this was the one occasion where it would have been unforgivable not to show, Lil Wayne having underwritten Thank Me Later and Drake’s entire, highly successful bid for stardom in the first place.

Wayne introduced him as his brother before duetting with his northern protégé on “I’m On One” and “Miss Me,” and Drake was every bit as affectionate in response. He’d dreamed of putting his hometown on the hip-hop radar and making “Toronto so f---ing proud” as long as he’d dreamed of being a rapper, he said, so: “I just wanna say, in front of my city: thank you for giving us that opportunity.” Cue hugs all around.

“I don’t feel I’ve done enough / I’ma keep on doin’ this sh--,” Wayne would assert a few minutes later. He was believable. You wanted to believe in him, too.

Jagger Still Swaggers In Other People’s Songs

www.thestar.com - By Joel Rubinoff

(August 20, 2011) Electrotrash queen Ke$ha, of all people, started the trend with her hit song “Tik Tok,” a sleazy ode to 21st-century partying that included the unlikely lyric “the dudes are lining up ’cuz they hear we got swagger, but we kick ’em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger.”

Wait a minute — Mick Jagger? The 68-year-old Rolling Stones frontman, who rose to fame in the free-livin’ ’60s with his slithery stage moves, surrealistically oversized tongue and authority-baiting drug busts?

The rooster-strutting chameleon who morphed from the androgynous Prince of Darkness — “Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name” — to a spandex-clad disco dandy to a leeringly flamboyant archetype for every rock star who followed?

I must be imagining things, I remember thinking, not that I don’t like the “swagger-Jagger” rhyme scheme.

But this rubber-lipped British upstart hasn’t had a hit in a quarter-century and The Stones have been missing in action since, depending on your point of view, (a) the end of their ’07 world tour or (b) 1972, when they put out their last really “good” album (yes, I know, Some Girls didn’t suck).

And then there was the unfortunate pairing of Sir Mick — in the original puffy shirt — with David Bowie on a cheesy ’80s remake of the Motown hit “Dancing in the Street.”

Factor in spats with guitarist Keith Richards — who painted his musical partner as a megalomaniac control freak with tiny genitals — and his ascension, biologically speaking, from swinging jet setter to craggy-faced grandfather of four (though comparisons to Grandpa Walton seem highly exaggerated) and whatever street cred he once harboured seems to have evaporated like profits in a Ponzi scheme.

And yet, here he is, back again. And again — if not cool, exactly, then timeless, enduring and somehow iconic.

“Take me by the tongue and I’ll know you,” croons Maroon 5’s Adam Levine on the current chart-topper “Moves Like Jagger,” a salaciously boastful ode to sexual possession with a whistled refrain that recalls the Stones’ falsetto hit, “Miss You.”

“Kiss me ’til you’re drunk and I’ll show you . . . all the moves like Jagger.”

And then there’s Cher Lloyd, the British pop upstart whose “Swagger Jagger” paints the mega-mouthed belter as a symbol of ageless attitude: “Swagger Jagger,” she yelps. “You should get some of your own.”

Wait, there’s more: Kanye West asserting “My swagger is Mick Jagger” on the hip-hop collaboration “Swagga Like Us,” and electro-ciphers The Black Eyed Peas boasting, “All these girls, they like my swagger, they callin’ me Mick Jagger,” on “The Time.”

For crying out loud, even The Jonas Brothers — perky purveyors of puerile bop pop — get into the act on “Heart & Soul”: “That won’t matter,” croons the generically smiley singer. “If you can swagger like old Mick Jagger.”

What, it seems relevant to ask, is this sudden obsession with all things Jagger? And why now?

“He’s a classic rock ’n’ roll icon,” says Glenn Pelletier, the 570 News morning anchor in Kitchener, Ont., who moonlighted as Jagger for years in the Stones tribute band Sticky Fingers.

“But he’s also a pop icon and mega-celebrity, way more than just a rock singer. I think there’s a respect and appreciation for the fact he’s been able to do it so well for so long.”

Seven more reasons Jaggermania has taken the pop charts by storm:

(1) He made Elvis Presley look like Pat Boone and created a new prototype. “He was the first outlandish, raw, sexual, over-the-top lead singer,” insists Pelletier. “Iggy Pop has way more swagger, Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith) is arguably a better frontman, but Jagger got there first.”

(2) He’s still out there, still determined, still pitching. His new band, SuperHeavy, may not set the charts on fire with its garbled blend of reggae, Indian music and over-emoting Joss Stone vocal trills, but like Jagger in his heyday, it’s original, pushing boundaries. And you thought Steel Wheels was his last gasp.

(3) At 68, he’s improbably skinny, with an old man’s head grafted on the body of a 20-year-old gymnast. Unlike, say, Billy Joel, David Crosby and late-career Elvis — who morphed into Papa Smurfs, Michelin Men and Pillsbury dough boys — Jagger gives the appearance of being unravaged by the perils of time. No grandpa gut on this geezer.

(4) His last name rhymes with “swagger,” a trendy pop buzzword. What else rhymes with swagger? Dagger? Carpetbagger? I don’t think so.

(5) He’s the antithesis of today’s tweeting-what-I-had-for-breakfast pop acts, with an enigmatic charm that, even 50 years later, gives him an aura of subversive mystery. It’s Keith Richards who’s always blabbing to the press. Jagger, the ultimate showman, wisely lets his music do the talking.

(6) Pop loves to celebrate its own past and, after 50 years, Jagger is a natural object of deification.

(7) He’s Mick (bleep)in’ Jagger, for crying out loud. Seriously, what’s the matter with you?

T.I. Addresses the World One Last Time Before Release

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 18, 2011) *Just one more month to go and rapper
T.I. will be free.

But before his 10 months are up, he decided to address his fans and friends in one final letter, telling the world to expect a better, stronger him.

“When I touch down, I’m going all the way back to square one, like I’m fresh in the game and never sold a record,” he writes. “Back on some I’M SERIOUS, TRAP MUZIK s–t.”

He acknowledged his past mistakes and asks his critics to see him just like every other human being, imperfect.

“I know this won’t be my last battle with adversity but it has truly prepared me for whatever else may come in the future,” he reflects. “For that also I’m thankful. Now, it goes without saying, that I hate I had to come back to prison for these 10 months but I am truly grateful for the knowledge, growth and understanding I’ve received from the experience.”

He vowed to change things around and be a better man for those who need him to be. T.I. also wrote that he’s basically dedicating time to be the voice for the voiceless.

Read the letter below:

What up world? This will be my last message from Forrest City. Just reaching out and sending my love, respect and appreciation to all who have been ridin’ with me throughout this chapter in my life and not just recently but since all the things started happening one after another back in ’06. From Big Phil’s murder to my beautiful little angel Leiah being called home to heaven, to my arrest in ’07, the 1st prison sentence in ’09, to this last journey that I’m nearing the end of. A lot of people who are aware of all that has happened to me in my life say that there aren’t many men who could have endured and withstood so much pain, pressure and turmoil while managing to remain sane and keep their wits about them. I must say that I wouldn’t have been able to do so without God’s grace and having a strong support system behind me every step of the way.

So often we spend time acknowledging the presence of “haters” and all the negativity they send our way but we don’t take the time to acknowledge and appreciate all the ones who love and support us and supply us with the positive energy we need to overcome. We complain about the pain so much that we don’t even notice how much stronger, wiser and better of a person the suffering has allowed us to become. I heard Pac say once “To live is to suffer and to survive is to find meaning in that suffering.” I later found out it came from an author by the name of Friedrich Nietzsche. When I heard Pac say that it was just some hard shit to hear your favourite rapper say before he kicked a verse. Now that I’ve gone through it and grown from it those words have a real true meaning to me. I know this won’t be my last battle with adversity but it has truly prepared me for whatever else may come in the future. For that also I’m thankful.

Now it goes without saying that I hate I had to come back to prison for these 10 months but I am truly grateful for the knowledge, growth and understanding I’ve received from the experience. Next time you hear from me I’ll be back out there with you. Doing for those who can’t do for themselves and speaking for those whose voices are never heard. When I touch down, I’m going all the way back to square one, like I’m fresh in the game and never sold a record. Back on some I’M SERIOUS, TRAP MUZIK shit… But until then RESPECT to all who deserve it. I’ll be back at you in a minute.


Rock Writing Legend Jerry Leiber Dead At 78

Source: www.thestar.com - Reuters

(Aug 23, 2011) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Rock ‘n' roll songwriter Jerry Leiber, who wrote lyrics for such hits as “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock,” died Monday. He was 78.

As a lyricist Leiber partnered with composer Mike Stoller and channelled their blues and jazz backgrounds into pop songs performed by such artists as Elvis Presley, the Coasters and Ben E. King. Their breakout hit was blues great Big Mama Thornton's 1953 rendition of “Hound Dog.” Presley's version hit No. 1 in 1956.

Other artists who have recorded Lieber-Stoller songs reads like a who's-who of popular music: Barbra Streisand, Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Aretha Franklin and Jerry Lee Lewis. Their songwriting took a more serious turn in 1969 with Peggy Lee's hit “Is That All There Is?”

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

“The music world lost today one of its greatest poet laureates,” said Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. “Jerry not only wrote the words that everyone was singing, he led the way in how we verbalized our feelings about the societal changes we were living with in post-World War II life. Appropriately, his vehicles of choice were the emerging populist musical genres of rhythm and blues and then rock and roll.

Sara Evans, Stronger Than Ever?

Source: www.thestar.com - By Special to the Star, Nick Krewen

(August 24, 2011) You won’t find a more relevant country music album title at the moment than Sara Evans’ Stronger.

Ever since the sudden 2006 pullout of her contending role on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars due to what would become a messy and very public divorce from musician-turned-aspiring politician Craig Schelske, Evans, 40, has been battling to regain her career form.

The New Franklin, Missouri native’s recent chart-topper “A Little Bit Stronger” shows her to be back on track, although — with the exception of four new tracks on 2007’s Greatest Hits Stronger is her first new effort since 2005’s Real Fine Place.

Was she worried about the six-year-gap between albums?

“It caused me to have a little bit of panic,” admits Evans, calling from her Birmingham, Ala. home in advance of her Saturday appearance at this weekend’s CMT Music Festival in Oro, Ontario, just 10 minutes north of Barrie. (Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Ronnie Dunn, Corb Lund and others are also appearing – check www.cmtmusicfestival.ca for daily lineups and schedules.)

“Then I just had to trust that the timing would be perfect, and it was.”

The public welcomed the doe-eyed singer back with her fifth No. 1 hit, “A Little Bit Stronger,” another in a string of uplifting songs that includes the self-penned “Born To Fly,” and “No Place That Far” and features her expressive and expansive alto.

It’s a gift that started off in a much different direction than the more contemporary style for which Evans, 40, is renown: When she first arrived in Nashville 16 years ago, she caught the ear of legendary songwriter Harlan Howard, responsible for such classic hits as Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces” and Buck Owens’ “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail” — a connection that would lead to her critically acclaimed debut album of traditional country, Three Chords and the Truth.

“I got hired to sing a demo for a couple of songs that Harlan had written, one being ‘I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail,’ ” Evans recalls.

“He wanted to resurrect that song and try to pitch it to a female artist, so they hired me — I was the new demo singer in town. He was in the studio and he was blown away by my voice and how country I was. He said, ‘you remind me of Loretta Lynn when she first moved to town.’ ”

On the spot, Howard called an A&R exec pal at RCA Nashville and arranged a meeting with the label for Evans.

“I sang for (RCA Nashville president) Joe Galante and he signed me right then and there to a seven-album deal,” Evans remembers. “Thank God for Harlan Howard!”

Her intention was pure: Evans procured traditionalist producer Pete Anderson to produce what eventually became Three Chords and the Truth to “kind of make me into a female Dwight Yoakam.”

“I was 24 at the time, thinking, I’m getting so much attention for being so country, but this is how I was raised and this is how I was taught to sing, so, I’m just going to go with this,” she recalls.

“It just didn’t go over that well with country radio, because I think they felt there was no spot for it at the time.”

She did an about-face with her sophomore album, securing Music Row overseers Buddy Cannon and Norro Wilson to produce No Place That Far a little more generically, and saved her career in the process, as the title track became her first No. 1 hit.

Evans has since offered her fans taste of her roots, supplementing recent albums with acoustic and bluegrass remakes of her hits “Suds in the Bucket” and, on Stronger, “Born To Fly.”

“That’s just a part of who I am and how I was raised,” Evans explains. “My mother would put on really old Live At The Grand Ole Opry albums and listen to those just over and over and over again.”

Since divorcing Schelske in 2007, Evans has married radio host Jay Barker and relocated her three children with Schelske from Nashville to join Barker and his four children in Birmingham.

“It’s crazy,” says Evans of being a mother to seven children, unfazed by the notion since she grew up in a household with six siblings.

“I love being and mom and wife and I learned how to cook for a big family from an early age — they’re by far the best part of my life, so it’s great. It’s very busy and our house is loud, but it’s so fun.”

Would she ever return to compete on Dancing with the Stars?

“I definitely would,” she replies. “But I don’t know how we would do it now that we live in Birmingham.

“When I was on the show, the kids weren’t in school yet; well, Avery was in the first grade, but I held him out for the beginning of the school year so he could be there with me.

“Now, it would be really, really hard, because I would never leave them and go to L.A. to do it. But it would sure be fun.”

What: The inaugural CMT Music Festival
Where: Burl's Creek Park, near Barrie
When: Aug. 26-28
Who: Lady Antebellum, Ronnie Dunn, Rascal Flatts, Corb Lund, George Canyon, Blake Shelton, Sara Evans, and more
Tickets: $29 to $389 at cmtmusicfestival.ca, ticketmaster.ca or 1-855-480-8800


Album for Will Smith? – Fiddy & Lil Kim do ‘Magic Stick’


(August 21, 2011) *There are some things people should just leave
alone in their age. And for Will Smith, depending on the critic, it’s rap. According to La Mar “Mars” Edwards, the producer of the Game’s latest project, “The R.E.D. Album,” Will Smith is coming back with a new rap album. “We’re working on Tip, we’re working on the ‘High School’ movie with Snoop and Wiz Khalifa,” he tells XXL Mag. “We’re working on Will Smith, bringing him back. That’s actually him on the other line right now…” Will had a successful rap career that turned into something bigger as an actor. Back in the late 90s, he and his rapping buddy, DJ Jazzy Jeff made headlines when they scored the first ever Grammy in the rap category, thanks to their safe and clean lyrics. But let’s face it. He just might be outdated. On the opposite side of the spectrum, 50 Cent was getting down and dirty in Australia for the WinterBeatz Festival. He along with Fabolous, Mario and Lil’ Kim set off the stage in a collaborative performance of 2003’s “Magic Stick.”

Mary J. Blige Teams with Slash for Potential Hit Song


(August 19, 2011) *
Mary J. Blige is a versatile singer. Her newest venture is to be featured on the new album of former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. The rocker is working on a new album and recently tweeted the good news. “Just finished a session with Mike Clink engineering on a track with Mary J. Blige. Sounds killer!” But this is a trend for Slash. He’s made some of the most unlikely collaborations including Michael Jackson, Rihanna, and Fergie. The new album should be out in the spring of next year. In the mean time, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul is working on “My Life II: The Journey Continues” the sequel to her 1994 album.

Womacks To Get Hall Of Fame Honour In West Virginia

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 22, 2011) *Soul legend
Bobby Womack and his brothers are to be inducted into the West Virginia All Black Schools Sports and Academic Hall of Fame this weekend as part of the class of 2011. The singer, plus siblings Friendly and Cecil, will join opera soprano Cecilia Tucker among the local sports heroes and academics at a ceremony this Friday night. The Womacks lived in West Virginia before they were discovered by late music icon Sam Cooke, who helped them create the family group The Valentinos. Hall of Fame spokeswoman Helen Jackson-Gillison admits she’s particularly excited to meet Bobby Womack, explaining, “He exemplifies an age when music really was king. We’re hoping he will perform at the induction ceremony.”

Macy Gray Auctions Chance to Sing On Her New Album

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 22, 2011) *An auction house is giving
Macy Gray fans the chance to join her in the studio as she records her new album. For $1,350, the devotee will get to sing on the chorus of a track and dine with the singer in the studio’s zen garden. The package, created by the online luxury gift store www.GiltCity.com, also features credit on the album and a signed copy when it is completed. The session will take place on Sept. 4 and fans can apply now.


Heading To TIFF: A ‘Mad Man,’ A Sex Pistol, And An A-Z Of Stars

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Aug 23, 2011) Pity the celebrity gazer who travels to Hollywood or any other world film capital besides Toronto from Sept. 8-18.

That’s because so many bold-faced names will be flocking to the
Toronto International Film Festival, along with hundreds of their glittering flock.

The long list of TIFF-bound talent includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Madonna, Ryan Gosling, Catherine Deneuve, Glenn Close, Jane Fonda, Michelle Williams, Michelle Yeoh, Jon Hamm, Geoffrey Rush, Jane Fonda, Christopher Plummer, Freida Pinto, Gerard Butler, Juliette Binoche, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Woody Harrelson.

That’s just for starters, and just the movie stars. There’s also a mini-Woodstock of rock stars heading to Toronto, including Neil Young, Madonna, bands U2 and Pearl Jam, Sex Pistol John Lydon, Hugh Dillon of the Headstones (and Hard Core Logo) and 1970s hitmaker Paul Williams.

There’s also a brace of TIFF-bound international filmmakers, including Francis Ford Coppola, Guy Maddin, David Cronenberg, Sarah Polley, Bruce McDonald, Werner Herzog, Béla Tarr, Cameron Crowe, Gus Van Sant, Julia Leigh, Ingrid Veninger, Léa Pool, Morgan Spurlock, Lou Ye, Wim Wenders, Chantal Akerman, Nanni Moretti, Alexander Payne, Agnieszka Holland and Lynne Ramsay, once again to name just a few.

The 36th edition of TIFF will screen a total of 336 films, of which 268 are features (10 more than last year) and 68 are shorts (13 fewer than last year).

They come from 65 countries, up from 59 last year, and 249 of the features to be screened will be world, international or North American premieres.

The festival’s official film schedule was also released Tuesday. It’s available at the festival box office and by clicking tiff.net/thefestival.

Here are the complete lists of talent and filmmakers expected to visit TIFF. Lists are in alphabetical order by first name:

Talent expected to attend the Toronto International Film Festival:

Alia Shawkat, Abbie Cornish, Adam Brody, Adam Scott, Adepero Oduye, Agnieszka Grochowska, Albert Brooks, Alessandra Negrini, Alexander Skarsgard, Aline Morais, Alison Pill, Allison Janney, Alexis Bledel, Analeigh Tipton, André Wilms, Andrea Riseborough, Andrey Fomin, Angie Cepeda, Angrzej Chyra, Anton Yelchin, Antonio Banderas, Arielle Kebbel, Ashley Bell, Akshay Kumar,
Ben Foster, Bennett Miller, Benno Fürmann, Bill Nighy, Blake Lively, Brad Pitt, Brian Ladoon, Bryce Dallas Howard,
Caleb Ross, Carey Mulligan, Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Keener, Chace Crawford, Charlotte Rampling, Chloe Moretz, Chris Pratt, Chris Nilan, Christopher Lovick, Christopher Plummer, Clive Owen,
David Thewlis, Deepa Mehta, Dominic Monaghan, Do-Yeon Jeon, Durukan Ordu,
Eddie Redmayne, Elena Anaya, Elias Koteas, Elizabeth Olsen, Emile Hirsch, Emily Blunt, Erin Brockovich, Ethan Hawke, Evan Rachel Wood, Evelyn Vargas, Ewan McGregor, Ezra Miller,
Fabian Lojede, Fadi Abi Samra, Felicity Jones, Frances O’Connor, Freida Pinto,
Gael Garcia Bernal, Gaye Gürsel, Geoffrey Rush, George Clooney, Gerard Butler, Glenn Close, Greta Gerwig,
Harry Knowles, Hugh Dancy, Hugh Laurie, Husham Hlail,
Iko Uwais, Isabelle Huppert,
Jamel Debbouze, James Gandolfini, Jane Fonda, Jason Reitman, Jason Statham, Jay Baruchel, Jean Dujardin, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Schuetze, Jessica Chastain, Joe Taslim, Joely Richardson, John Lydon, Jon Hamm, Jonah Hill, Jonathan Schteinman, Jordon Gelber, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julia Maxwell, Juliette Binoche, Juliette Lewis, Jung Jae-Young, Juno Temple,
Katlyn Maclang, Keira Knightley, Kelly Reilly, Kevin Durand, Kirsten Dunst, Kyle MacLachlan,
Lana Hay Yehya, Lauren Ambrose, Leighton Meester, Liana Liberato, Lily Cole, Louise Bourgoin, Lucia Siposova, Luke Kirby, Luong Manh Hai,
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Marc-André Grondin, Maria Isabel Laban, Maria Schrader, Maria Yokohama, Mariana Padial, Marisa Tomei, Matt Ellis, Matthew Goode, Max Minghella, Maya Rudolph, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, Michael Shannon, Michael Weston, Michelle Williams, Michelle Yeoh, Mira Sorvino, President Mohamed Nasheed,
Nat Wolff, Neil Young, Nicolas Cage, Noe Hernandez,
Oliver Platt,
Pascale Bussières, Patrick Huard, Paul Williams, Pearl Jam, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Piet Suess,
Rachel Weisz, Rebecca Frayn, Rebecca Hall, Robert Wieckiewicz, Robin Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Rosemary DeWitt, Ryan Gosling,
Said Husham, Salma Hayek, Salman Rushdie, Sam Neill, Sami Bouajila, Saoirse Ronan, Sarah Bolgar, Sarah Gadon, Sarah Silverman, Scott Speedman, Seann William Scott, Selma Blair, Seth Rogen, Shahid Kapoor, Simon Ibarra, Simone-Elise Girard, Solmaz Panahi, Sonam Kapoor, Stephanie Sigman,
Tahereh Saeidi Balsini, Tammy Blanchard, Terrence Howard, Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Tran Dang Khoa, Tyler Johnston,
Viggo Mortensen, Vladimir Vdovichenkov,
Willem Dafoe, Woody Harrelson,
Yara Shahidi.
Filmmakers expected to attend the Toronto International Film Festival:
Adam Shaheen, Adam Wingard, Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr., Agnieszka Holland, Akin Omotoso, Al Maysles, Alain Fournier, Alejandro Brugués, Alejandro Landes, Alex Gibney, Alexander Gorelick, Alexander Payne, Alexandre Bustillo, Alexandre Courtes, Alina Rudnitskaya, Alison Murray, Amir Naderi, Andrea Arnold, Andrew Cividino, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Angelina Nikonova, Ann Hui, Anne Emond, Anne Fontaine, Arnaud Brisebois, Asghar Farhadi, Ashley Sabin, Atia Al Daradji, Audrey Paounov, Avie Luthra, Axel Petersen, Ayten Amin, Barbara Willis-Sweete,
Béla Tarr, Ben Wheatley, Benjamin Schuetze, Bennett Miller, Bertrand Bonello, Bess Kargman, Bibo Bergeron, Bill Duke, Blake Williams, Bobcat Goldthwait, Bradley Kaplan, Branwen Okpako, Brian Cassidy, Bruce Beresford, Bruce McDonald, Bruno Dumont, Byran Wizemann,
Calvin Thomas, Cameron Crowe, Carl Bessai, Carlos Sorin, Cedric Khan, Channsin Berry, Chantal Akerman, Chelsea McMullan, Chris Kennedy, Christian Petzold, Christian Sparkes, Christophe Honoré, Christophe Van Rompaey, Clarissa Campolina, Corinna Belz, Costa Botes, Craig Goodwill, Cristián Jiménez,
Dain Said, Dan Lindsay, Daniel Nettheim, Darrell Roodt, Darrin Klimek, David Cronenberg, David Hare, David Redmon, David Rokeby, Davis Guggenheim, Debbie Tucker Green, Dee Rees, Derick Martini, Diego Noguera, DJ Parmar, Dominik Graf, Dorota Kobiela, Douglas Aarniokoski, Drake Doremus, Duane Hopkins, Dusty Mancinelli, Dylan Akio Smith,
Eduardo Menz, Eduardo Sanchez, Egil Denmerline, Elisabeth Perceval, Elle Flanders, Emanuele Crialese, Emmanuelle Millet, Enrico Colantoni, Erik Canuel, Evan Morgan, Eve Sussman,
Fernando Meirelles, Francis Ford Coppola, Francis Leclerc, Frederic Jardin, Frederic Louf, Frederick Wiseman,
Gareth Evans, Gary Hustwit, Gary McKendry, Geoff Lindsey, Geoffrey Fletcher, George Clooney, Gerardo Naranjo, Ghassan Salhab, Gianni Amelio, Gina Haraszti, Goro Miyazaki, Greg Crewdson, Gus Van Sant, Guy Edoin, Guy Maddin,
Han Jie, Haofeng Xu, Harold Cross, Helvecio Marins Jr, Hugh Dillon, Hugo Santiago, Huh Jong-ho, Ian Fitzgibbon, Ian Harnarine,
Ian Lagarde, Igor Drljaca, Ingrid Veninger, Isaac Cravit, Ismael Ferroukhi, Ivan Grbovic,
James Benning, James Franco, Jamie Linden, Jan Zabeil, Janine Fung, Jay Duplass, Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, Jean-Guillaume Bastien, Jean-Marc Vallée, Jeanne Leblanc, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Jeff Nichols, Jennifer Westfeldt, Jens Liens, Jesse Gouchey, Jessica Yu, Jim Field Smith, Joachim Trier, João Canijo, Joaquim Sapinha, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, Joel Schumacher, John Mcllduff, John Price, John Scoles, Johnnie TO, Jon Shenk, Jonathan Demme, Jonathan Levine, Jonathan Sagall, Jonathan Schwartz, Jonathan Teplitzky, Jose Henrique Fonseca, Joseph Cedar, Joseph Israel Laban, Joshua Bonnetta, Joshua Marston, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Juan Minujín, Julia Leigh, Julia Loktev, Julia Murat, Julian Farino, Julien Maury, Justin Kurzel,
Kaat Beels, Kamila Andini, Karim Aïnouz, Karl Markovics, Katsuhito Ishii, Ken Scott, Kevin Jerome Everson, Kore-Eda Hirokazu, Kyle Sanderson,
Lasse Hallstrom, Lav Diaz, Léa Pool, Leonard Farlinger, Lisa Pham, Lou Ye, Luc Besson, Luc Dardenne, Luis Recoder, Lynn Shelton, Lynne Ramsay,
Madonna, Maggie Peren, Malgoska Szumowska, Marc Forster, Marco van Geffen, Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud, Mark Cousins, Mark Duplass, Mark Lewis, Mark Slutsky, Markus Schleinzer, Martin P. Zandvliet, Martin Šulík, Mary Harron, Mathieu Demy, Mathieu Kassovitz, Mathieu Roy, Mathieu Tremblay, Matias Meyer, Matthew Rankin, Melanie Shatzky, Mia Hanson-Love, Michael Glawogger, Michael Winterbottom, Michale Boganim, Michel Hazanavicius, Mike Clattenburg, Mike Dowse, Mike Maryniuk, Milagros Mumenthaler, Miranda de Pencier, Mohamed Al Daradji, Mohammad Asli, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Morgan Spurlock, Morten Tyldum, Mr. Brainwash,
Nacho Vigalondo, Nadine Labaki, Nancy Savoca, Nanni Moretti, Nathan Morlando, Nathaniel Dorsky, Ngoc Dang Vu, Nicholas Klotz, Nicholas Pye, Nicholas Winding Refn, Nick Broomfield & Joan Churchill, Nick Murphy, Nicolas Prividera, Nicolas Provost,
Ole Christian Madsen, Oliver Hermanus, Olivia Block, Oren Moverman, Ozcan Alper,
Pablo Giorgelli, Pablo Trapero, Paddy Considine, Pankaj Kapur, Pawel Pawlikowski, Pedro Pires, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Peter Lynch, Philippe Baylaucq, Philippe Falardeau, Philippe Garrel,
Raha Shirazi, Ralph Fiennes, Randall Cole, Rebecca Daly, Rémi Bezancon, Renaud Hallee, Ridha Behi, Rithy Panh, Robert Lieberman, Rodigo Moreno, Rodrigo Garcia, Roland Emmerich, Rolando Colla, Román Cardenás, Ron Fricke, Rúnar Rúnarsson, Ruslan Pak, Ryan Flowers, Ryan O Nan,
Sandra Gibson, Santiago Mitre, Sarah Goodman, Sarah Polley, Sean Durkin, Sebastián Brahm, Sebastián Lelio, Sheila Pye, Sheldon Larry, Shinya Tsukamoto, Simon Davidson, Simon Ennis, Sono Sion, Sophie Goyette, Sophie Michael, Stefano Chiantini, Stephanie Dudley, Stephen Kessler, Steve McQueen, Susan Youssef, Suseendran,
T. Marie, T.J. Martin, Tamira Sawatzky, Tamae Garateguy, Tamer Ezzat, Tanya Wexler, Tawfik Abu Wael, Terence Davies, Todd Solondz, Tomáš Lunák, Toshiaki Toyoda,
Ute Aurand,
Victor Ginzburg, Vimukthi Jayasundara, Vincent Garenq,
WANG Xiaoshuai, Wei Te-Sheng, Werner Herzog, Whit Stillman, William Friedkin, Wim Wenders, Wojciech Smarzowski,
Xiaolu Guo, Xstine Cook,
Yan Giroux, Yoakim Belanger, Yorgos Lanthimos, Yossi Madmony,
Zaida Bergroth.

Neil Young, Rushdie To Talk At TIFF

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Aug 23, 2011) Canadian icons Neil Young and Christopher Plummer, Oscar winners Francis Ford Coppola and Tilda Swinton and ex-fugitive author Salman Rushdie are among the bright lights planning to talk at TIFF.

They’re scheduled to discuss their accomplishments on stage at TIFF Bell Lightbox or the nearby Princess of Wales Theatre, as part of the chatty Mavericks program of newsmaking notables during the Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 8-18). (Exact dates are available online beginning Tuesday at tiff.net/festival and Thursday in The Star’s special TIFF section.)

Young’s promised appearance is something of surprise, since he was a notable no-show at the 2009 fest. This time it’s for real, they say, and the Toronto rocker will be chatting with filmmaker Jonathan Demme about Neil Young Life, the third and final part of their concert-film trilogy, shot during Young’s recent Massey Hall shows. (The hard-working Demme will also moderate another Mavericks session, with indie film boosters Michael Barker and Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics.)

Another rock star, Paul McCartney, also gets the Mavericks treatment, but he’s not coming to Toronto. A world-premiere screening of The Love We Make, a documentary on McCartney’s 9/11 memorial concert, will be accompanied by legendary director Albert Maysles, with a special video introduction by McCartney.

Oscar-nominated actor Christopher Plummer will be at TIFF, talking about his long career and one film in particular: Barrymore, the film version of his Broadway hit interpretation of legendary actor John Barrymore.

Writer/director Coppola, a multiple Oscar winner, is coming to TIFF to unveil his new film Twixt, but he’ll take the Mavericks stage to discuss a career that includes The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now and The Conversation.

Oscar winner Swinton, Best Supporting Actress for the 2007 TIFF debut Michael Clayton, graces the stage for We Need to Talk About Kevin, the horrific family drama by Lynn Ramsay that premiered in competition at Cannes last May.

Former literary fugitive Salman Rushdie and Toronto filmmaker Deepa Mehta join forces and Mavericks for a sneak preview of Midnight’s Children, Mehta’s film about Rushdie’s second novel. The screen adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning work has just finished shooting in Sri Lanka. They’re promising to show a few clips of the in-progress film.

Two kinds of political action get Mavericks showcases. Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed will be on hand to talk about The Island President, a film about his efforts to save his island nation from sinking beneath rising seas caused by global climate shifts. And Egypt’s recent civic awakening is commemorated in three films by three directors, who will present their work.

TIFF is also programming free events with name stars, urgent issues and historical accounts.

Actor James Franco and filmmaker Gus Van Sant are scheduled Sept. 10 at the Lightbox for a special event called Memories of Idaho, a film-and-photograph assessment of My Own Private Idaho, Van Sant’s 1991 film about street hustlers in Portland, Ore.

This is not a Film, a secret and smuggled work by imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi (with Mojtaba Mirtahmasb), gets a free screening at the Lightbox.

So does The Story of Film: An Odyssey, a 15-hour documentary on the history of film by Britain’s Mark Cousins, which will be shown in five instalments of three hours each, over five days, Sept. 12-16.

Tickets for Memories of Idaho, This is not a Film and The Story of Film: An Odyssey and other free TIFF screenings will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

TIFF Tuesday also announced 10 titles to complete its Master program of new works by distinguished film veterans.

The films are Almayer's Folly (Chantal Akerman), Faust (Alexander Sokurov), Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki), I Wish (Hirokazu Kore-Eda), The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne), Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan), Outside Satan (Bruno Dumont), Restless (Gus Van Sant), Snows of Kilimanjaro (Robert Guédiguian) and The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr).

They join previously announced Masters titles Hard Core Logo II (Bruce McDonald), Pina (Wim Wenders) and This is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi).

TIFF Tuesday also announced the roster for its Discovery program of international first and second feature from up-and-coming international directors.

Full details for these and other festival offerings are available at tiff.net.

Globe Journalist Adriano Valentini Wins Prize At Hollyshorts Film Festival

www.globeandmail.com - By Liam Lacey

(Aug 19, 2011) Globe video journalist, Adriano Valentini, 25, is also a rising filmmaker, whose short films have been accepted in a number of North American film festivals this year.

In May, Valentini's short film, The Underager, showed at Toronto's Inside/Out festival in May. Another short, The Bartender, screened at The Brooklyn International Short Film Festival last year, at the Jersey Shore Film Festival in late July.

On Thursday night, The Bartender won the best webisode prize at the Hollyshorts Film Festival (Aug. 11-18) The film will also air at the high-profile NYC Short Film Festival (September 23-24).

Both films are part of a continuing story which was developed out of his thesis film, Clubscene, at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied with director, Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan).

Clubscene, which Valentini describes as a cross between Entourage and The Jersey Shore, won a screenwriting and a finalist award at NYU in 2009. The short film series focuses on the life and friends 24-year-old Gabe Garibaldi (Carmine DiBenedetto) the head bartender at his uncle's Montreal's hot night spot, Club Touch, who has a chance encounter with a young woman (Christina Broccolini) who compels him to question his life's choices.

The original film, with two additional episodes, The Bartender and The Underager, was developed into a seven part series of webisodes which can be watched at www.clubscenetheseries.com or the CITY-TV video portal [http://video.citytv.com/video/show/clubscene/allmedia/4294965490].

Valentini, who started at The Globe and Mail in January, 2011 after completing an MBA at Ryerson University, has shot videos on cooking, gardening, fitness and entertainment for the Life section, as well as pieces on investing, marketing and business and driving.

He hopes the series "continues to gain as much exposure as possible and I'd love to find some funding to create more episodes, while at the same time continuing to produce great videos at The Globe."

"I've been told time and time again that Clubscene would make a great television series on a channel such as HBO, AMC and Showcase and I agree. I've been writing scripts for a 13 episode season and plan on pitching the concept soon both in Canada and the US. I think it's a really relatable story for young people right now."

Q&A: Daniel Cockburn Wants To Poke You In The Head, But For A Good Reason

www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(Aug 18, 2011) The world has become so unsettled and disorienting, you can’t even depend on finding those “You Are Here” dots on shopping mall maps anymore.

Just try navigating the Eaton Centre’s multiple levels, for example, where the directions keep you constantly guessing.

This observation brings both a nod and a smile from
Daniel Cockburn, 34, the award-winning Toronto filmmaker whose head-flipping debut feature You Are Here makes merry and quite contrary with our collective culture shock.

“That’s it in a nutshell,” he says, sipping a beverage at Crafted coffee shop on Ossington Ave.

He’s feeling somewhat dispossessed himself, having long been a maker of short films who now has a feature, but who still wants to make shorts.

And he’s in the process of moving to New York City, travelling with his wife to take up career opportunities that were too good to pass up.

Q: How do you want people to engage with You Are Here?

A: It’s just like what you were saying about that mall map. This is for anybody who’s had an experience like that of looking at a map of a building or a mall or a city or a country, and who has said, “I sort of understand what this is and what it’s supposed to represent, but I have no idea where I am on this thing.” Especially when you’re in a hurry or there’s some place really important you need to be, that can be a really frustrating and anxiety- inducing scenario. Everybody who's experienced that will get something out of the movie.

Q: The lecturer at the start of the film shows a classroom images of waves, telling the students they can focus on individual waves or just let them all wash over them. It seems like an instruction for how to view the film.

A: Yeah, well, it’s funny — that lecture, as written in the script, was not at the beginning of the movie. It took place about 25 minutes in. Pretty early in the editing we said, “What if we started with that?” Immediately we knew it was the right thing to do. I’ve been at festival screenings where a couple of people walk in late, and it’s funny and frustrating. If someone comes in three minutes late after that lecture, in one sense you didn’t miss anything, but there’s no plot you missed. In another sense you miss everything. It functions as the keynote lecture to how to watch this movie.

Q: The lecturer adjusts our brains, telling us to breathe deeply. This is not going to be a conventional film. This is going to be engaging.

A: Totally. He’s got this aspect of new-age flakey philosophy to him. I grant this is true, but I don’t feel like the purpose is to make fun of him for that. We never wanted to ridicule his point of view. He’s saying, ‘Hey, try doing this thing. It’s interesting.’ And I think it’s interesting too. That’s why I want the audience to try it.

Q: The film’s anchor is the inquiring archivist played by Toronto actress Tracy Wright, who died last year. Did you choose her because you saw her in Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know?

A: It wasn’t just that movie. I had seen it, and Miranda July is one of my early, early influences. I gave the Images festival the copy of You Are Here to give to her, so hopefully she'll see it. I saw her short video work and her live performance. I saw her do some of that stuff in Texas in 2002 and she’s a great example of someone whose career path I really covet. She’s totally still working in the art-based short-form spirit, but at the same time she’s working within the semi-industrial narrative feature film. Yeah!

Q: You Are Here seems to have a fixation with older technology: VHS tapes, Polaroid pictures, landline telephones. Do you have something against new tech?

A: That was pretty intentional, but I don’t have anything against new technology. If the movie had been set in the here and now, and everybody had been surrounded by amusing cellphones and iPods and GPS, it would have made everything feel way too blunt and obvious. I think the emotional undercurrent of the movie is connected to the emotional undercurrent to what it’s like to be alive right now, in the midst of all this technology. So I didn’t want to make that really apparent. I wanted to shift everything sideways. There are a couple of laptops in there that I’m sort of sorry that they got in, but we had to use them. This idea is around the corner rather than staring the audience in the face.

Q: So you’re not setting out to deliberately mess with people’s minds?

A: I certainly do like the experiences of when I see a movie and it throws me off guard. It forces me to find new ways to engage, new flavours. I like to walk into an ice cream store and see some flavour I haven’t tried before. I’m interested in giving people that. I’m not interested in poking them in the head just for the sake of poking them in the head.

Margot Kidder Marches On Washington

Source: www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Aug 19, 2011) Margot Kidder became Hollywood’s most famous Canadian by playing Lois Lane in four Superman movies.

But later, when she was orchestrating a comeback after a series of disasters, she took on a gig doing the voice of a character named Earth Mother in the cartoon show Captain Planet.

Among the lines she delivered: “Hold on, Planeteer, I hate to interrupt your eco-argument, but there’s a nuclear waste spill on the ocean.”

Next week Kidder will be playing Earth Mother for real — doing whatever it takes to get herself arrested in front of the White House while trying to persuade Barack Obama not to sign a deal allowing a new pipeline carrying oil from the Alberta tar sands to Texas.

One of her partners in crime is another celebrated Canadian-born actress and dear old friend, Tantoo Cardinal, an Aboriginal from northern Alberta.

Theirs will be only two faces among the thousands taking part in a large-scale protest, but they will bring a bit of showbiz glitter to the event while showing there are Canadians as well as Americans appalled by the horrifying danger of spreading poison from Alberta all over North America.

(A number of other prominent Canadians are also involved in the protest, including Naomi Klein.)

“This is not just about oil,” Kidder explained this week in a phone interview from her home in Montana. “It’s about climate change and irreversible damage to the environment.”

These days, at 62, Kidder works occasionally, doing such acting gigs as her appearance a year ago at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre in Nora Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore.

But most of the time, she lives quietly, simply and happily in Montana, close to her daughter and grandchildren.

Being at the centre of the Hollywood circus may be a distant memory, but Kidder still has the ebullient spirit, charmingly goofy smile and twangy voice that made her a popular favourite.

And she’s still the fearless adventurer and reckless maverick who was born in Yellowknife and grew up in northern mining camps, the daughter of a rambunctious mining engineer from Texas known as Happy Kidder.

Her old friend Norman Jewison, who cast her in her first Hollywood movie in the 1960s, recalls that even back then, “she was a woman of causes, passionate and not afraid to stand her ground.”

That has not changed. Though she has been a U.S. resident for decades, Kidder has proudly held onto her Canadian citizenship. But she became a dual citizen so that she could vote against George W. Bush in 2004 — and so she could take part in protests against the Iraq war without being at risk of deportation.

“Tantoo and I are both northern Canadian babies who believe that the North is a beautiful place worth saving.

“The tar sands have caused a lot of damage already in Alberta, where a lot of people have a weird new kind of cancer. The kind of oil being extracted is thick and corrosive, like molasses, and it has to be pumped at a high heat, emitting poisonous carbon.”

There is already one pipeline running from Alberta to Texas, and there have been disturbing leaks. According to Kidder, the proposed new pipeline would destroy the freshwater rivers and other natural wonders of Montana, because it’s bound to leak.

“We already have experts who warn that if the tar sands industry is allowed to expand and build another pipeline, the damages will be irreversible and the long-term consequences horrendous,” warns Kidder. “In fact this is the most serious climate changer we have on the planet.”

So why are political leaders in Ottawa and Washington in favour of expanding the tar sands?

“In his 2008 campaign, Obama made a promise to stand up to oil companies and Wall Street,” says Kidder, “but now he is being pressed to sign this agreement between now and November, and those who worked for Obama are so discouraged. A lot of people are dismayed that democracy is losing out to huge corporations that contribute billions to political campaigns.”

Kidder and other demonstrators hope to persuade Obama to stand up to the oil companies and refuse to sign the pipeline deal. In the process of making the point, she expects to land in a Washington jail, if only briefly.

As for Canada, she laments: “Stephen Harper is more interested in short-term profit than long-term consequences. But I have two beautiful grandchildren, and I would like them to live on a beautiful planet.”

Production Of Next Superman Film Moves to B.C. In September

www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman

(August 18, 2011) Production of the next Superman film,
Man of Steel, will move to British Columbia beginning September 21, with shooting scheduled to continue until January 20, 2012 in the Vancouver area and on Vancouver Island.

An open casting call for extras on Vancouver Island confirms the production dates, and has been widely circulated online with what's billed as an official synopsis for the film, which is being directed by Zack Snyder and is currently shooting in Chicago.

"Clark Kent/Kal-El ([Henry] Cavill) is a young twenty-something journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond anyone's imagination," the synopsis reads. "Transported to Earth years ago from Krypton, an advanced alien planet, Clark struggles with the ultimate question - Why am I here? Shaped by the values of his adoptive parents Martha ([Diane] Lane) and Jonathan Kent ([Kevin] Costner), Clark soon discovers that having super abilities means making very difficult decisions. But when the world needs stability the most, it comes under attack. Will his abilities be used to maintain peace or ultimately used to divide and conquer? Clark must become the hero known as "Superman," not only to shine as the world's last beacon of hope but to protect the ones he loves."

The film also stars Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Russell Crowe as Superman's biological father Jor-El.

An open casting call for extras will be held in Nanaimo and Ucluelet this weekend. The film is particularly interested in "older character faces and those who could be passed off as loggers for Nanaimo and commercial fishermen in Ucluelet," according to the casting call details. Some children are required for Ucluelet (accompanied by a legal guardian), but none for Nanaimo. The time commitment would be a day or two.

The casting call is being held at the Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo on Saturday and at the Black Rock Ocean Front Resort in Ucluelet on Sunday, both days from 2 to 6 p.m.

Tyler Perry Has a Moment About Childhood Past


(August 20, 2011) *
Tyler Perry made a stand on Tuesday when he posted an emotionally charged essay about parenthood.

In his piece, he shared about how the sight of a father crossing the street holding his toddler child’s hand made tears well up in his eyes.

“Why did I have such a strong emotional reaction to this father and son? It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was because I never had those kind of experiences, never knew that kind of unconditional joy, never knew what it felt like to be wanted and adored as a child.”

Perry has been pretty open about his past and childhood. On the Oprah Winfrey almost a year ago, he shared some terrifying stories in his past, where he endured sexual abuse by his father and several others.

“I feel like I died as a child,” Perry said during the Oprah appearance. “My father – he hated me so much and I couldn’t understand why. I was sickly all the time, I had asthma. He hated that about me.”

Despite the horrors of his past, he supports good fathers today. He also wondered if his father knew what child he was raising, would things have been different.

“I wonder if the man I called ‘Daddy’ as a child, knew then what he knows now, would he have treated me any differently?” Perry wrote in his essay. “If he had known, the little boy that depended on him for food and shelter would grow up to be a man that he would have to depend on for food and shelter, would he have made different choices?”

Read more

Sarah’s Key: Unlocking The Past To Inform The Present

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

Sarah’s Key
Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance, Charlotte Poutrel, Frédéric Pierrot, Niels Arestrup and Dominique Frot. Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner. 113 minutes. Opens Aug. 19 at Varsity and Sheppard cinemas. PG

(Aug 18, 2011) “Let sleeping dogs lie,” a young character says in the
potent Holocaust drama Sarah’s Key, and the callowness of the speaker is plainly evident.

We can never forget this wretched stain on human history, nor should we. There is a difference, though, between documenting the atrocities of World War II and reflecting upon how they connect with and inform modern times.

Many films have done the former. This one does the latter, traversing the decades as it inquires into the legacy of guilty acts and the complexity of human behaviour in wartime

As with Tatiana de Rosnay’s international bestseller, from which director Gilles Paquet-Brenner and his co-screenwriter Serge Joncour faithfully draw inspiration, this is no simple finger-pointing exercise.

Kristin Scott Thomas stars as an investigative journalist, an American working at a contemporary magazine in Paris. She seeks hard-to-find facts regarding the infamous 1942 mass arrest of that city’s Jews, many of whom were turned over to occupying Nazis by their fellow Frenchmen, the collaborators of the Vichy regime.

This horrific event is known colloquially as the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, after the Vélodrome d’Hiver cycling stadium where thousands spent days in squalid conditions before being sent by train to the Nazi death camps.

But it is not reporter Julia, ably played by Scott Thomas, who most effectively blows the dust off old pages. Rather it is the astonishing performance by young Melusine Mayance as the title Sarah, a 10-year-old Jewish girl living with her parents and 4-year-old brother in wartime Paris.

When the gendarmes arrive at her home to do the Nazis’ bidding, quick-thinking Sarah hides Michel in a secret locked closet, promising to return for him. She keeps the key close to her, little suspecting how difficult it will be to use it again.

After several days of living in hellish conditions inside the Velodrome, Sarah and her parents are shipped off to the camps, hearing the same hollow promise told to so many before and after: “Cooperate and everything will be fine.”

The film assumes the dynamics of a thriller on two fronts, set nearly 70 years apart. As Sarah struggles to find a way of saving her brother, the film also follows the seemingly prosaic plans of Julia and her architect husband Bertrand (Frédéric Pierrot) to remodel an apartment long owned by Bertrand’s family. They’re planning to move in to begin their own family.

Coincidentally with the renovations, Julia begins works on a major assignment for her magazine on the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, an event the French have slowly been coming to terms with. (French President Jacques Chirac apologized in 1995 for his country’s complicity in the raids.)

As Julia probes the poorly documented events of 1942, she uncovers evidence of a personal connection to them, evidence that will change everything she knows about her world. Once this truth is known, it can never be unknown, no matter how many people, her husband included, insist that it’s all ancient history.

“Truth has a price, whether you like it or not,” Julia tells Bertrand.

That truth is amplified by the ongoing saga of Sarah, whose struggles to save her brother echo across the ages.

The strength of the film is mainly in her story, one of revealed secrets that at times recalls The Reader and Music Box. French director Paquet-Brenner occasionally yields to melodrama, particularly in the final act, but he is resolute about not depicting all of his countrymen as Nazi stooges, since many weren’t.

Sarah gets assistance for her quest from a farm couple played brilliantly by Niels Arestrup and Dominique Frot, who quietly demonstrate that in times of moral insanity, some still manage to heed their conscience.

One Day’s Jim Sturgess Is The First To Admit He’s ‘Crap At Romance’

www.globeandmail.com - By Kate Taylor

(Aug 19, 2011) Jim Sturgess, the British-born star of the new romance One Day, which opened yesterday, tried to reassure me that the genre still has meaning for his generation. (He’s 30.) “Everybody has their own story of falling in love, or out of love, or being irresponsible with someone else’s feelings of love toward you,” he said Wednesday on the phone from New York. Charming and self-deprecating, Sturgess was about to board a plane to Los Angeles, to stay for just 24 hours before flying home to London, where his brother is getting married – rather inconveniently for Sturgess’s press tour – today.

One Day, based on the bestselling English novel by David Nicholls, tells the story of Emma and Dexter – a feisty Yorkshire girl (Anne Hathaway) and a posh, overprivileged smoothie (Sturgess) – who meet on the day of their graduation from the University of Edinburgh and carry on a will-they-or-won’t-they relationship for 20 years. The hook is, we catch up with the characters for only one day a year, so we’re continually figuring out where they are in their lives apart and together.

“The fact that everyone’s so engrossed in this book and this story proves that romance isn’t dead,” Sturgess continued. “People really want these two to get together. It’s frustrating to see them miss all these opportunities. I think there are plenty of people who are romantic.”

There’s just one little thing: Sturgess isn’t one of them. “I’m crap at romance,” he said, chortling. “I’ve never even been on a date. My girlfriend [the musician Mickey O’Brien] and I met in a pub and got drunk, and we’ve been together ever since. That was eight years ago. She’s sitting in the car next to me now, laughing.”

My point exactly: How do you sell a love story – be it a romantic comedy, where the lovers end up together; or a romantic drama, where the love ends – to the hookup generation? Romantic comedies are scrambling to do it by mixing cynicism into the fizziness. Recent examples – What if the protagonists vow not to fall in love (Friends with Benefits, No Strings Attached)? What if the love-denying hero who’s helping a loser to land chicks falls in love himself (Hitch and Crazy, Stupid, Love)? What if a baby gets in the way (The Switch, The Back-Up Plan, Life as We Know It)? – have met with mixed success.

Romantic dramas, the sweeping, time-defying, three-hankie sagas in whose company One Day aims to be, are struggling even harder. Romances for the ages, including Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, The Way We Were, Out of Africa, The English Patient and Titanic, have in common two things that are hard to find in our age of Skype and cyberstalking.

First, all are set against grand backdrops of war, crisis or social upheaval, which give the problems of two little people a poignant context in this crazy world. We’ve become way too narcissistic for that.

Second, these stories do not end happily. To me, a love that is cut off while it’s still ideal, which fills viewers with bittersweet yearning, is much more romantic than one that carries on into the “Oh my God, the dog puked on the duvet and your mother’s arriving in five minutes” everyday. But modern-day audience testing does not allow for unhappy endings. The couple must wind up together. The dog must puke. And that’s a lot less stirring to watch.

There’s another component to the difficultly these days of making romances, but it’s one to which Hollywood doesn’t like to cop: Because these pictures are currently perceived as “women’s films,” it can be hard to find a credible male romantic lead, as a lot of actors (and/or their agents) don’t want their image “weakened” by being in such movies. Also, in most romances, the woman is cast first and the man must audition with her, and some actors aren’t game for that. But Sturgess willingly flew to LA – “It would be impossible to cast those two people without having seen them together in a room,” he said – and was full of praise for how “encouraging and engaging” Hathaway was in his reading.

During the rehearsal period, they burned each other mix CDs. (Sturgess is a musician as well as an actor; in fact, he resembles a cuter Paul McCartney.) He gave her “all these northern British bands,” the Stone Roses, the Charlatans, Oasis; she tried to get him into Patti Smith, “which didn’t quite work.”

When the cameras rolled, “Every day was like shooting a new film,” he said. “You’re in a new year, a different stage in your life, a new situation, with a new hairstyle.” And in one scene, a new baby. “That baby hated me,” Sturgess said, laughing. “They’d put it in my arms, and it would remember that it hated me, and just scream. That was probably one of the worst days – of the film, and of my life.”

Regardless of how well One Day does at the box office, it’s sure to boost Sturgess’s visibility. He’s made “a few films that I’ve been proud of, but found it hard to reach a more mainstream audience,” including Fifty Dead Men Walking, the Canadian co-production directed by Kari Skoglund, and The Way Back, directed by Peter Weir. His two biggest successes so far, the gambling drama 21, in which he played an American student at MIT, and the musical Across the Universe, where he played lovelorn singer Jude, have made him a bit of a heartthrob in the United States, but haven’t had much impact on Sturgess’s side of the Atlantic.

“I have a normal, regular life in London,” he said. “People in England have never even heard of Across the Universe. The distribution was a bit crazy. I think the studio gave up on it; they didn’t have the belief that Julie [Taymore, the director] had. They thought, ‘The English are so protective of the Beatles, they’re not gonna buy into this.’ ” He laughed. “And yeah, very early on in the film, when you have an American cheerleader singing a Beatles song on an American football court, I’m sure a lot of people switched off right there.” (“Football court” – aww.)

The comment Sturgess hears most often is, he said, “ ‘You look like that American actor from 21.’ I say, ‘Oh really, who’s that?’ And they can never remember his name.” He snorted. “That’s how famous I am – I look a little bit like the guy they can’t remember the name of.”

Sturgess also joked that, because his Dexter has to be “mean and obnoxious” to sweet Emma for so long, One Day “could be where women turn against me for good. I may have ruined everything.” So, not unlike Hollywood, he’s hedging his bets. In his next love story – Upside Down, co-starring Kirsten Dunst, and due out next year – he doesn’t just search for love through time; he searches through an entire alternate universe. Here’s hoping that one still believes in romance.

Senna: Life And Death In The Fast Lane

www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

A documentary about Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna. Directed by Asif Kapadia. 106 minutes. Opens Aug. 19 at the Varsity. 14A

(Aug 18, 2011) Sometimes real life eclipses fiction in delivering a tale that combines heroism, villainy, suspense and a surprising amount of emotional resonance.

Such is the case with
Senna, a documentary that follows the life of Ayrton Senna, a Formula One racing car driver who died in 1994 at the tragically young age of 34.

Senna had, in the words of friend and mentor “Professor” Sid Watkins, the official Formula One doctor, “a wonderful humility, which is not common among racing drivers.”

Which brings us to the film’s ostensible villain, French driver Alain Prost, also known as “the Professor” for his careful calculation of the points earned by himself and other drivers on the racing circuit that would land him a total of four world championships.

His disdain for Senna, his petulance and the derision he displays in dismissing his chief rival’s religious beliefs make him almost diabolically unlikeable. Yet fellow Frenchman Jean-Marie Balestre, the head of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, manages to eclipse even Prost in puffed-up pomposity and galling Gallicisms.

By contrast, the portrait that emerges of Senna from the extraordinary footage compiled over the period of 1978 — when he debuted as a gangly teenage go-kart racer — to 1994 is of a somewhat shy, unaffected man, close to his family, generous to his fellow Brazilians and uncomfortable with the “politics” so evident in Formula One racing. He was also driven — no pun intended — a fierce competitor but one who also took both a cerebral approach and a spiritual approach to his sport.

For the people of Brazil, the year 1985 — when Senna won his first Formula One race — represented the end of the country’s 21-year military dictatorship but it was also a time of severe economic hardship.

“He’s the only good thing in Brazil,” one beleaguered citizen notes of Senna, and he’s therefore a tonic for a country that had very little to celebrate at the time.

You don’t have to be a fan of car racing to enjoy the documentary, which includes amazing racing footage — much of it never before seen and some of it from right inside Senna’s car — that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The film, from British director Asif Kapadia, is also supplemented by interviews with many of the principals of the time — sportswriters and racing executives — who witnessed Senna’s meteoric rise as a world champion. His sudden death on May 1, 1994 will surely leave a lump in your throat.

The maxim “only the good die young” may seem trite to some but it’s very apt in this instance. Senna was the genuine article, a man of principle, discipline and hard work who bore the barbs of rivals and institutional politics with equanimity and dignity, a man who deserves to be called a hero.

Spy Kids: All The Time In The World: Gimmick Stinks, But Movie Doesn’t

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
Starring Jessica Alba, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook and Jeremy Piven. Directed by Robert Rodriguez. 89 minutes. Opening Friday at major theatres. PG

(Aug 20, 2011) It doesn’t make scents for Robert Rodriguez to add a
scratch-and-sniff dimension he calls Aromascope to the fourth Spy Kids movie, All the Time in the World.

It doesn’t work — most of the eight scented circles on the cardboard card to be scratched and sniffed when the appropriate number flashes onscreen smell the same, like papery bubble gum.

And the movie, a pleasant time-waster kids will love with a pro-family togetherness message parents can appreciate, doesn’t need the gimmick John Waters famously employed in 1981’s Polyester.

Rodriguez had some making up to do after the disappointing Spy Kids 3 and he’s come up with a fanciful, pun-laden, kid-based action flick starring Jessica Alba as secret spy stepmom Marissa Cortez Wilson, baby sister of original spy parent Gregorio Cortez (Antonio Banderas).

When we first meet Marissa (Alba), she’s nine months minus a day pregnant and chasing down one last baddie, the evil Time Keeper (Jeremy Piven, playing three characters, all of whom are a G-rated version of his Entourage character, Ari Gold).

Her family thinks she’s an interior decorator and Marissa has vowed this will be her last mission. Once junior is born, she and TV-host hubby Wilbur (Joel McHale) and perpetually bickering stepkids Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook) will finally get some quality time together. Winning over reluctant stepdaughter Rebecca is proving to be her real Mission: Impossible.

She’s hauled out of retirement by the return of the Time Keeper, who has found a way to speed up the world’s clocks while using every timepiece-related pun Rodriguez can muster.

Rebecca and Cecil find out the truth about Marissa and, with the help of their family pet Argonaut, a robo-dog who not only can spout witty one-liners, but sounds just like Ricky Gervais, they’re off to OSS spy headquarters to help save the day.

They pick up some cool spy gear from their cousin Carmen (original Spy Kid Alexa Vega) who is still carrying on a sibling rivalry with brother, Juni (Daryl Sabara).

The now-mothballed Spy Kids division at OSS (curse you, government cutbacks) is no longer creating the wily pint-sized spies who can confound adults with their kid smarts and groovy gadgets.

But the newly appointed Rebecca and Cecil show they’ve got what it takes and heed Carmen’s advice that the only way to win is if they quite scrapping and work together.

Meanwhile, Marissa continues to take down bad guys with the unnamed Spy Baby (a new sequel is born) strapped to her front, proving that multi-taskers on the mommy spy track can still kick butt when the need arises.

Filled with Saturday morning cartoon-style action and G-rated punch-ups and pratfalls, Spy Kids 4 benefits from quick pacing and a pair of very likeable moppets in the lead roles. The 3-D is better than average: you will believe Cheezies can fly. Meanwhile Alba, looking so fine in her skin-tight spy togs, will make any woman who has had a baby jealous.

With all this going for it, it’s strange that the movie studio decided not to screen Spy Kids for critics, usually a sure sign it’s an acknowledged poor effort, or a movie that won’t please critics but will draw its target audience.

Yes, the Aromascope idea stinks. But Spy Kids 4 doesn’t. And its real secret weapon is the oft-repeated messages — from heroes and villains — that family time is precious and we are too prone to wasting it.

TRAILER: Trollhunter - Myth Enforcers

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

Starring Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Morck and Tomas Alf Larsen. Written and directed by André Ovredal. 103 minutes. Playing Aug. 19 to 25 at the Royal. PG

(Aug 18, 2011)
Trollhunter knows it’s trudging down a well-travelled road, even as it heads into the most remote areas of Norway in search of real giant trolls.

It’s another of those found-footage movies, written and directed by André Ovredal, where we are expected to believe that what we see on the screen really happened, although the filmmakers mysteriously vanished.

And these were singularly self-aware filmmakers, well versed in the making of first-person documentaries: “Do you think Michael Moore gave up after the first try?” one of them says.

The real connection is with The Blair Witch Project, of course, and all the imitators that followed that 1999 surprise horror hit.

Trollhunter takes the conceit to the next level. It’s so steeped in troll and paranoia lore, it risks boring you with the details at times. But it also makes you more inclined to believe it, and the frights are real enough.

It begins as more of an exposé than a horror thriller. Eager college students Thomas, Johanna and Kalle, played by Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Morck and Tomas Alf Larsen, are on the trail of a suspected bear poacher named Hans (Otto Jespersen).

Grumpy ol’ Hans is really a secret government hunter of trolls (cue X-Files theme), and those hairy beasts also turn out to be real and grumpy. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, and that hoary legend about smelling the blood of Christian men holds true — you have to be an atheist to be a good troll hunter.

Attention to details big and small, and special effects that actually inspire awe, put us into a world that could easily have been played for lame yuks.


Ridley Scott To Direct New ‘Blade Runner’ Film

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bang Showbiz

(Aug 19, 2011) Ridley Scott will direct the new Blade Runner movie. The Alien director has signed up for the project, which he will make with Alcon Entertainment, although it’s not clear whether he intends to do a prequel or sequel to the original 1982 film, Deadline.com reports.  The movie was loosely based on the Philip K. Dick book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and starred Harrison Ford, who played blade runner Richard Decker assigned to hunt down organic superhuman robots who were living on Earth. However, his life changes when he falls for one of the enemies and struggles to keep her from being destroyed. It is not known whether Scott will get Ford to reprise his role or get a new actor. Scott is currently working on the Alien prequel Prometheus and recently revealed it would have a "really nasty" feel. He said: "The film will be really tough, really nasty. It's the dark side of the moon. "We are talking about gods and engineers. Engineers of space. And were the aliens designed as a form of biological warfare? Or biology that would go in and clean up a planet."

3-D’s Next Dimension: Sex

Source: www.thestar.com - By Jason Anderson

(Aug 18, 2011) 3D SEX AND ZEN: James Cameron may have rescued
3-D from its gimmicky reputation but the format still has its seedy side. Back in 1969, a softcore movie named The Stewardesses combined an X rating and three dimensions to become one of the most profitable films ever released. Indeed, it’s surprising that sexploitation filmmakers in the west have been slow to cash in on the current craze, which has extended beyond the big-budget likes of Cameron’s Avatar to include documentaries and slasher flicks. Smut purveyors in the east have been far more enthusiastic, however. A glossy revamp of a ’90s Asian movie franchise that combined costume-film trappings, comedic hijinks and softcore erotica, 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy was a box-office smash when released in Hong Kong in April, beating the local record for highest first-day take. (Seeing as the previous record holder was Avatar, you have to wonder whether Cameron wished his movie had a few more Na’vi love scenes.) Toronto audiences will get to decide whether dirty movies are best seen through special glasses when 3D Sex and Zen opens Aug. 19 at the Coliseum Scarborough Cinemas and the Scotiabank Theatre.

::TV NEWS::     

Blades Battle Returns With A New Spin

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Aug 22, 2011) The Battle of the Blades is back for Season 3, with a new twist.

For the first time, a female hockey player, Tessa Bonhomme, a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning women’s hockey team in 2010, will compete against former NHLers such as Curtis Leschyshyn, Wade Belak and Cale Hulse.

The series, which has been a ratings winner for CBC, has traditionally paired male hockey players with female figure skaters in a pairs contest.

The news season debuts Sept. 18 with a look at the skaters’ boot camp, with the first live show on Sept. 25.

Bonhomme is already throwing down the gauntlet to her male counterparts.

“Not only do these guys want to be the best and outperform each other. Now they have more weight on their shoulders because they don’t want to be beat by a girl. And I’m obviously going to be driving to beat the guys. What girl doesn’t like beating up on boys?” said the Sudbury native.

Bonhomme said a friend who was unable to do the show suggested her “because she knows I’m a little bit of a goofy character and I’m willing to try anything once. I don’t even think she finished the sentence before I said yes,” Bonhomme said.

“The nature of shows like this requires you to constantly not be predictable,” said executive producer John Brunton. “Since the first season, fans have been asking us ‘What about a female hockey player?’

“So the question is, how good could a female hockey player be? Can she compete against the guys? Because she’s the one that’s got to be lifted in the air so the female hockey player has to play a whole different role than the guys. It’s going to be interesting to see how she can compete,” Brunton said.

“We’ve heard that the recruiting of young men into figure skating has grown dramatically since our show went on the air. Who knows? Maybe after this season, we’ll see enrolment for women’s hockey go up,” he added.

CBC hockey commentator Ron MacLean, who co-hosts the show, said it’s still surprising to see “tough guys” learning to be graceful on skates.

“I never dreamt in Year 1 that the big tough guys could emote and have an artistic side,” MacLean said.

“Curtis Leschyshyn couldn’t be shyer, he raises bulls, he’s a western guy. It just seems to be that he’s so out of his depth. I guarantee you, by Week 5, if all goes according to Hoyle, he’ll find his groove and it’ll be something to see,” MacLean added.

Leschyshyn and former Maple Leaf Belak said Kelly Chase, who competed in Season 2, was instrumental in persuading them to lace up the figure skates.

“I said, ‘There’s no way I’m going to do that, not a chance.’ But sure enough, he talked to me long enough and worked me over long enough that I committed to it ... and I said yes,” Leschyshyn said.

“The biggest thing is not falling on your face and watching your toe picks,” said Belak, who landed hard the first time he put on figure skates.

“With a petite girl in close quarters with you, you could easily get tripped up. It’s definitely going to be interesting,” he said.

The players
Hockey Players
Wade Belak
Bryan Berard
Tessa Bonhomme
Boyd Devereaux
Cale Hulse
Curtis Leschyshyn
Brad May
(One more to be named)

Figure Skaters
Violetta Afanasieva
Tanith Belbin
Elena Berezhnaya
Marie-France Dubreuil
Marcy Hinzmann-Harris
Anabelle Langlois
Kim Navarro
David Pelletier

Hosts and Judges
Sandra Bezic
Kurt Browning
Maura Grierson
Ron Maclean

Coaches and Choreographers
Lee Harris
Doug Ladret
Paul Martini
Michael Seibert
David Wilson

Helga’s Back As Saviour Of Film And TV Academy

www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Aug 16, 2011) Helga’s back, and suddenly things are looking up for the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, creating a new sense of excitement about three Gemini awards nights starting Aug. 30.

The woman is Helga Stephenson, widely enough known in the film world by her first name. She was a key player from 1987 through 1993, when she took the Toronto International Film Festival to new levels.

Then 18 years ago she passed the TIFF torch to Piers Handling, the successor she had groomed, and chose a lower profile while raising her daughter.

Meanwhile she has stayed active by masterminding the annual Human Rights Watch film festival, programming Iceland’s annual film festival, and working as a consultant.

Now ready for her next act, she found the perfect challenge when the Academy, on the brink of disaster, needed a saviour.

And the charge of energy released upon her return recalls the moment in Hello, Dolly! when the heroine descends the staircase of her old haunt in Little Old New York after being absent for years.

Drastic changes were needed at the Academy, and she was exactly the right person to pull of a few minor miracles in a hurry.

“My mandate was to restructure,” she explained over dinner this week, flanked by her special adviser, Charles Ohayon (chair of the Academy’s Quebec division) and trying to ignore the splint on her left arm, which she managed to break shortly after taking on this exhausting new job.

It had been obvious for several years that on the English side, the national academy was headed for trouble, with the risk of oblivion.

The glamour associated with the awards shows 20 years ago had disappeared long ago. Ratings were so bad that the CBC stopped broadcasting them.

“The industry has changed tremendously in recent years, with so many more challenges, greater competition, and the digital revolution,” Stephenson observes. “The academy just had not kept up with the changing times and the changing needs of its 4000 members.”

Not only were people unhappy with the two annual awards shows — the Geminis for TV and the Genies for movies — but they were disengaged the rest of the time because they had virtually no contact with the academy between award shows.

By the time Stephenson stepped in a few months ago, it was clear a massive overhaul was needed to save the Academy from bankruptcy and total irrelevancy in the minds of its disenchanted industry membership.

Presto! The Academy’s old board, with members scattered around the country, accepted the need for change and all resigned — paving the way for a much more centralized, activist and high-profile board, with film producer and internet pioneer Martin Katz as chair.

Presto! The Academy, previously notorious for neglecting the media and failing to engage its board, is busy winning the kind of friends and allies it must have to survive.

Presto! The boring old format of an old-fashioned awards show has been scrapped, and the emphasis is on producing an entertaining show polished enough to hook a large coast-to-coast audience on Canada’s most important TV network.

On Sept. 7 (two months earlier than the 2010 event), the top awards will be presented on a one-hour prime-time telecast on CBC with comedian Russell Peters as the host.

But for the Academy’s 4000 members, that telecast represents only the glittery public part of the story, a valuable promotion for the new TV season that begins in September.

Only six awards will be handed out that night, whereas more than 100 others will be presented at two industry galas at the Metro Convention Centre.

Comedian Steve Patterson (best known to fans of CBC’s popular show The Debaters) will be the host of the first night, on Aug 30, while Jian Ghomeshi will preside on the second gala night, Aug. 31.

“What’s remarkable is how the usual cynicism about the Academy has disappeared,” says documentary filmmaker and marketing executive Barry Avrich, a member of the Academy’s new board.

“Everyone has been pitching in to bring the Academy back to its glory days. And it is very refreshing to witness that change.”

I second the motion.

Not Your Father's Rabbit Ears

www.globeandmail.com - By Kate Taylor

(Aug 21, 2011) In Richmond Hill, Ont., John Krim gets all the TV he needs from the $100 antenna he installed on his roof himself: The federal government accountant can pull in 19 Canadian and U.S. stations without ever paying the cable company a dime.

About 100 kilometres south of him in Dunnville, Ont., near the Lake Erie shore, Dennis James can do him one better: He gets 38 channels with one antenna that he designed and built himself after he retired from a career as a renovator and auto-parts plant manager.

Krim and James are over-the-air enthusiasts, tech-savvy hobbyists who know how to get the most from free TV, those signals wafting through the air for anyone with the rabbit ears or roof-top equipment to catch them.

"It really is the original, legal form of broadcasting, it is what kids of the 1950s grew up with and it is undergoing a renaissance," said Jon LeBlanc of North Delta, B.C., where he can get 15 channels with his antenna.

The over-the-air enthusiasts attribute that renaissance partly to rising cable and satellite bills that make a free alternative attractive, but also to Canada's coming transition to digital television transmission.

On Aug. 31, Canadian broadcasters are required to shut off their analog signals and broadcast digitally in all major centres. Cable and satellite subscribers will not notice any difference: Their service providers will decode the digital signals for them.

People who get television over-the-air will need either a recent, digital-ready TV set or a converter box for older sets, to get the signals - but what signals they will be!

Enthusiasts point out that, because they are not compressed to be carried by cable or satellite, the over-the-air digital signals offer the highest definition images. Sports fans, in particular, appreciate the pristine HD pictures they can get over the air. (CBC, CTV and Global are already transmitting digitally in various cities including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, so many over-the-air viewers are already enjoying HD.)

"It was really great getting the Olympics HD," said Peter Warner, an electrical engineer in Calgary with four antennas on his roof that pick up all the local stations (but no U.S. channels because he is too far from the border.) "The images are incredible."

"The sports really benefit from the HD broadcast," Krim agreed. "I can even watch American football, just for the quality of the colour and the signal."

Normally, Krim isn't much of a sports fan, nor much of a coach potato; mainly he watches documentaries on PBS and TVO. The antenna enthusiasts are often light TV watchers who are willing to forgo specialty channels such as TSN that are only available by cable and satellite.

"I was hooked on a few cable shows but now weeks go by and I don't watch them," said William Moss, an Ottawa engineer who is thinking about discontinuing his cable subscription since he has stopped watching the home-renovation shows he used to follow. He also has an antenna beside his TV that currently picks up eight digital channels; he expects another six to show up Aug. 31. He figures if he buys a better one and positions it on the roof, he will catch a further six or eight U.S. stations, including PBS.

Besides, as Moss and other antenna enthusiasts point out, you can always turn to the home computer for specialty fare.

"I think with the antenna and the Internet we are filling in all the gaps for news and entertainment," said Warner in Calgary, where he watches the Al-Jazeera news service online.

Still, not everyone is convinced that the antenna is about to replace the cable subscription as Canada goes digital.

"It's a niche," cautions Hugh Thompson, editor of the Digital Home website. "There will be some renewed interest [with the digital switchover] but it will be a bump. Long term, the percentage of people who use antennas is constant."

That won't stop the enthusiasts from their crusade. They fill the over-the-air forums on Digital Home with debates about different styles of antennae and instructions about positioning them to boost the signal strength - when they are not boasting about the number of signals they can pluck out of the air. So far, James's 38 channels appears to be the winner.

DIY antenna

Dennis James of Dunnville, Ont. has designed his own multidirectional antenna that he says anybody with a screwdriver (and no fear of heights) can build and mount themselves. He calls his invention the Stealth Hawk antenna. Here are his instructions, converted to metric measurements.

You will need:

1.5-metre length of straightened No. 10 gauge wire

a non-conductive plastic block to mount the wire element onto

a 4:1 balun, a balanced to unbalanced transformer

two screws to mount the element feed points and the balun

a coaxial cable that will reach the length from antenna to TV

The top diamond leg length is 16.5 cm.

The bottom diamond leg length is 21.5 cm.

The bottom splayed leg is 38 cm.

All side bends are about 85 degrees and the top bend is about 140 degrees.

The upper diamond height to the feed point is 24 cm.

The width of the upper diamond is 30 cm.

The feed point is gapped 5 cm apart for the 4:1 balun connections.

Mount the antenna outdoors as high as possible at the very top end of the mast. Attach the coaxial cable to the 4:1 balun and then attach the other end of the cable to the TV.

If you are using a cable length over 7.5 m, or if you are located in a fringe reception area, you may need to use a mast mounted preamp or a small indoor booster amp to improve the signal strengths. You should be able to receive good signal strengths from broadcast TV towers within an 80-km range without having to use a rotor device.

This home-made antenna seems to give a full range 7-51 with good signal strength performance throughout the VHF and UHF bands and FM radio signals.

For further instructions and discussions about the Stealth Hawk, you can visit this forum [http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=123803].

Day In The Life Of Canada Doc Launches CBC 75th Anniversary

www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(Aug 18, 2011) TORONTO — CBC is preparing a big 75-day celebration for its 75th anniversary, which kicks off with a two-hour documentary chronicling a day in the lives of Canadians across the country.

The documentary, entitled 1 Day, airs on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET and is the start of more than 10 weeks of special programming reflecting on the public broadcaster's big anniversary.

“It's a celebration of who we have been to get to where we are today and a look forward to what we can be and how we can function as a modern broadcaster,” said Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president of CBC's English services.

“But we didn't want this to be a self-oriented celebration. This is actually a celebration of CBC's life within Canada, so we're celebrating Canadians.”

1 Day, camera crews scattered out on April 30 to follow a number of Canadians throughout their day, while CBC viewers and listeners were also invited to send in their own video footage documenting that day.

A series of statistics help connect the stories from across the country. One notes that 3.3 million Canadians work at night, and the program opens by following two Vancouver police officers as they patrol the city's drug-plagued Downtown Eastside in the wee hours of the morning. Soon after, the scene jumps to a serene – but still pitch black– ranch where a woman tends to a pregnant horse at 1 a.m.

Most scenes are light-hearted, particularly the viewer-submitted clips that recount birthdays and parties and briefly profile cute kids and pets. But there's also a gripping story of a new mother, only 35 years old, who's rushed to hospital after suffering a stroke. Her case highlights how 38,000 patients head to an emergency room each day.

Making sense of all the footage that was shot and submitted and stringing it into a coherent story line was no easy task, said executive producer Sue Dando.

“We got submissions form every province and territory ... and we had way too much footage, it was a huge editing job,” she said.

“I won't say there were tears in the editing suite but there were certainly arguments and heartache because we couldn't put in everything we wanted to.”

Other television specials will include: Long Story Short, an hour-long look through the CBC archives hosted by Martin Short; Wayne & Shuster Legacy III, recounting the careers of the comedic duo; John A: Birth of a Country, a movie about Canada's first prime minister; and a live performance by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Cirque Eloize, which will also be carried online and on radio.

Special CBC Radio programs will include looks at the broadcaster's history of programming and journalism and a special edition of Vinyl Cafe.

The CBC also plans to have a number of open houses at its facilities across Canada and is working with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian War Museum, the Canada Science and Technology Museum, and Library and Archives Canada to stage special anniversary exhibits.

The Royal Canadian Mint also plans to issue a collector coin honouring the 75th anniversary.

Audio/Video: ‘Glee Project’ Runner Up Headed to Fox Series Anyway

Source: www.eurweb.com - Cherie Saunders

(August 22, 2011) *He didn’t win the seven-episode arc on “Glee,” but
Alex Newell is one of two contestants on Oxygen’s “The Glee Project” to score a surprise two-episode run on the Fox series this fall after wowing show creator Ryan Murphy during Sunday’s final four showdown.

The 18-year-old Lynn, Mass., native performed “I Am Changing” from “Dreamgirls” in full drag for his last performance, which one of the judges declared as “brave.” Asked by the Hollywood Reporter if Murphy would write his “Glee” character as cross-dressing or transgendered, Alex said, “I hope so.

“It’s fun but painful – my feet always cry! – but it’s really fun and shows that I can play male and female. It shows that I’m that underdog chameleon.”

Scroll down for some of Alex’s standout performances this season, including the gospel classic "His Eye is On The Sparrow."]

Earlier this month, EUR caught up with Alex at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills to talk about the wave of music-themed competitions that have washed up on the television landscape – like “The Voice,” “The Sing-Off” and “The X-Factor,” in addition to his own series “The Glee Project.”

Steve Smith Brings Back Red Green

www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Aug 18, 2011) Turns out Red Green was just playing possum.

Steve Smith wrote, produced and headlined exactly 300 episodes of Red Green before pulling the plug, playing the plaid-shirted handyman who never met a project he couldn’t duct tape.

They were spread over several stations and networks, starting with a handshake deal in 1990 at Hamilton’s CHCH. Global, PBS and CBC also broadcast the series during its long run. A feature film, Duct Tape Forever, was released in 2002.

When Smith finally walked away from Possum Lodge and hung up his red and green suspenders six years ago he vowed he’d never perform as the character again.

“I really, really tried, okay?” he says from the home he shares with wife Morag in Hamilton.

“That first winter, when I finished the last show and went to Florida, I played 162 rounds of golf. Nobody tried harder than me.”

Then he began to get that creative itch again. He and his wife formed a little singing group and started performing near their winter home in Florida. He found himself sneaking in shtick between songs, just like the old days. And then one day he was playing golf with the CEO of Random House Canada and was offered a chance to write a book in the Red Green character.

“I thought, ‘He’s not going to ask me again if I say no,’” recalls Smith. The mock manual How To Do Everything was the result.

Smith realized he’d have to promote the book and tested out a one-man show in Minneapolis.

“It was just so much fun,” says the 65-year-old entertainer. More U.S. shows were booked and quickly sold out in markets where The Red Green Show aired on PBS. Next month, starting Sept. 8 in Surrey, B.C., and running straight across to St. John’s, Nfld., Smith brings the Red Green “Wit & Wisdom Tour” to Canada.

While there is a stop at Ontario’s Casino Rama (Oct. 27), there are no plans to play big urban centres like Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal.

“If there are 100,000 or more people, I’m probably not going there,” says Smith.

The 90-minute, family-friendly shows are not just a rehash of The Red Green Show, which continues to air on Comedy Gold.

“If people want to see what they saw on TV, they should stay home and get a six pack,” he says. He describes his stage show, performed in character as Red Green, as “a little bit of Mark Twain, a little Will Rogers.”

He serves it up with a standup comedy approach, something he’s never attempted before.

“It’s odd for a man my age to be doing something brand new that’s not a medical procedure,” he says.

Smith stresses that “Wit & Wisdom” is no Charlie Sheen-like “Torpedo of Truth” tour. There will be handyman tips as well as advice for teenagers.

“Mainly I focus on guys like myself, how to survive a marriage and raise kids.”

Smith says it’s the most fun he’s ever had performing.

“Nothing else is even a close second.”

One thing he doesn’t miss — and that brings out his edge — is the Canadian TV business.

He’d rather take his act straight to consumers on the Internet, where Smith plans to launch a Red Green webcast in time for Halloween. He points out that his alter ego has close to 430,000 followers on Facebook. It used to be nephew Harold was the only twit at the Lodge; now Red Green’s on Twitter.

Social networks, he figures, are the new duct tape.

“I think this could have been a real shortcut for me if I had been able to access my audience maybe a little earlier in my career and that’s what the Internet can do.”

David Letterman Cracks Wise Over Death Threat

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(Aug 23, 2011)
New York— Late-night TV comedian David Letterman shrugged off a death threat made against him by a Muslim militant, joking on his show that his audience could “shield” him.

Last week, the U.S.-based SITE intelligence monitoring group said a death threat against Letterman was posted on a website used by militants.

The militant who made the threat, and was apparently angered by a joke Letterman made about the death of a leading member of al Qaeda killed in an air strike in Pakistan, called on Muslims in the United States to “cut the tongue” of the comedian and “shut it forever.”

While taping an episode of CBS network’s “Late Show with David Letterman” on Monday, the comedian addressed the threat during his opening monologue.

“Tonight, you people are more, to me, honestly, more than an audience ... you’re more like a human shield,” Letterman joked in front of audience members at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York where the show is produced.

“I’m so sorry, I’m a little late coming out. Backstage, I was talking to the guy from CBS. We were going through the CBS life insurance policy to see if I was covered for jihad,” Letterman said.

Letterman went on to jokingly suggest the threat really originated from late night rival Jay Leno.

Letterman’s comedic take on the death threat will air on the “Late Show” on Monday night.

An FBI spokesman said last week that the agency was looking into the militant threat against Letterman.


Heavy D, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh Set for ‘Law & Order: SVU’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 22, 2011) *NBA stars Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh will join rapper/actor Heavy D and Mechad Brooks for a basketball-themed episode of “
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” this fall titled “Personal Fouls,” reports TVGuide.com. Anthony and Bosh will each appear as themselves in the opening scene and climax of the episode, which focuses on a youth basketball coach (Dan Lauria) who is suspected of being a sexual predator. Mechad Brooks (“Necessary Roughness”) will play Prince Miller, a fictional basketball superstar who was once one of the suspected coaches’ prodigies. Heavy D will portray Miller’s cousin and business manager. “Law & Order: SVU” returns Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 10 on NBC. The episode is slated to air on Sept. 28.

Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafa Added to ABC’s ‘Charlie’s Angels’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Aug 23, 2011) *Former “Old Spice” guy
Isaiah Mustafa will be part of ABCs update of “Charlie’s Angels.” The actor has been cast as Ray Goodson, a detective who used to be engaged to Annie Ilonzeh’s character Kate Prince, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. As first reported by TV Line, Mustafa will recur on the series as the detective whom former Miami cop Kate turns to when she’s in a pinch. Executive producers Al Gough and Miles Millar said earlier this month that the back stories of the Angels (Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor) – and Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez) – will be among the reboot’s key differences. Mustafa’s credits, in addition to the Old Spice commercials, include “Horrible Bosses,” “Madea’s Big Happy Family” and a role in the upcoming feature adaptation of The Three Stooges. He’s repped by UTA. “Charlie’s Angels” premieres Thursday, Sept. 22 on ABC.

Dwayne Johnson, Jerry Bruckheimer Team for NBC Wrestling Drama

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Aug 23, 2011) *
Dwayne Johnson, the wrestler-turned-actor formerly known by his ring name “The Rock,” is attached as an executive producer on a fictional drama project from Jerry Bruckheimer set in the world of 1980s wrestling. The one-hour project, which has a put pilot commitment at the network, hails from Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television. It features Brent Fletcher (Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena) and Seamus Kevin Fahey (The Forgotten, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena) as co-executive producers and writers, with KristieAnne Reed (Chase, Dark Blue) on board as a co-EP. Bruckheimer TV’s Jonathan Littman will join Bruckheimer and Johnson as an executive producer.


Get Ready For A Huge Street Party

Source: www.thestar.com - By Michael Crabb

(Aug 22, 2011) In a large studio above a dry cleaners on St. Clair West, Marcos Martins, known in the world of capoeira as “Paraiba,” almost casually lifts his compact, muscled body into a handstand.

He then twirls his legs in what potentially, if the handsome 27-year-old wanted to do serious damage, could be a devastating kick; except in this case he’s preparing acrobatic moves for
Grupo Axé Capoeira Toronto’s debut appearance at BuskerFest.

“It’s really an exciting opportunity for us,” says “Professor Paraiba” — within capoeira being “professor” is only a couple of notches below the coveted, hard-to-get title of “mestre,” or master.

Mackenzie Muldoon, BuskerFest’s entertainment director, says breakdance has often been featured in the annual late-summer event but that for this 12th festival she’d wanted something different and talent-scouted Martins’ Toronto group as the ideal alternative.

Interestingly, as Martins explains, there’s persuasive evidence that breakdance itself may have been originally influenced by a sizeable influx of Brazilian immigrants to New York, seasoned “capoeiristas” among them, during the 1970s. But there’s an inherent difference.

Although most public demonstrations of capoeira emphasize its artful, at times almost dancelike characteristics, it’s fundamentally a martial art that evolved, clandestinely, among transported African slaves in Brazil as a means of self-defence against their masters and as an emblem of cultural heritage.

When slavery was officially outlawed in Brazil in the mid-1880s, capoeira became associated with gang activity in urban centres and was itself outlawed in 1892, only becoming acceptable again almost a half-century later.

Meanwhile, capoeiristas adopted nicknames, “apelidos”, to evade the authorities, a custom perpetuated to this day when capoeira is widely practised around the world, Grupo Axé being a leading exponent with some 10,000 members in 26 countries.

Marcus Martins, whose mother brought him to Canada in 1991, discovered capoeira at age 12. Ever since he’s been an ardent disciple of a sport that, he emphasizes, is as much a philosophy of life as an exacting physical discipline.

He opened Toronto’s first capoeira academy in 2006 where about 125 students, from children to mature adults — and almost half of them women — are enrolled.

Martins says the level of participation varies but those who want to rise through Grupo Axé’s belt-ranked system — actually they are colour-coded cords — must increasingly immerse themselves in Brazilian culture and language.

Personable 20-year-old Mike “Pulga” Soltysiak, who’ll be performing alongside Martins at BuskerFest, has even found himself a Brazilian girlfriend, which comes in handy for learning Portuguese; not an easy assignment for someone of Polish descent.

Martins and his most skilled Axé Toronto colleagues routinely perform at a variety of public and private events but he says they plan to do things a bit differently for BuskerFest to raise the excitement level. “There will be more audience interaction; maybe we’ll flip over a few people,” he says with a grin.

Axé Toronto will be among more than 100 street acts from 12 countries competing for attention — and coins in the hat — as an expected million people flock to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood during the four-day festival.

Contortionists, plate-spinners, mimes, unicycling lasso artists, fire eaters; you name it. If it’s weird, whacky and downright wonderful — in the latter category watch out for Holland’s giant XL-Insects — you’ll find it at BuskerFest.

And, although several BuskerFest regulars are back by popular demand, Axé Toronto is not the only newcomer.

Fresh Canadian acts include The Chairman, an Albertan chair-juggling duo, and BuskerFest’s first female magician, Billy Kidd.

As for foreign BuskerFest debutantes, Britain’s Peter Snow surely takes the prize for modesty, describing his act as a “bloody boring magic show, performed by a dull and pretentious personality.” Snow has been wowing crowds around the world for three decades so at least he must be mesmerizing.

(August 25 to 28, from noon on, throughout the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood, Front St. from Jarvis to Yonge. Pay-what-you-can admission in support of Epilepsy Toronto; www.torontobuskerfest.com)

Twyla Tharp Gives Frank Sinatra Another Chance, And Vice Versa

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Paula Citron

(Aug 22, 2011) Don’t mention the term “jukebox musical” to Twyla Tharp. It makes her angry.

That’s a surprise, perhaps, given that the 70-year-old choreographer has stretched the form – coined by New York critics to describe Broadway shows based on popular American songs – in shows from the Billy Joel-inspired mega-hit Movin’ Out and the Bob Dylan ode The Times They Are A-Changin’. This week, she also brings her take on Frank Sinatra’s songbook,
Come Fly Away, to Toronto as part of a 27-city North American tour.

Still, the doyenne of American dance insists she’s “totally disengaged” from the jukebox musical. “I say American musical,” she insists by phone while getting ready for the Toronto opening. “It’s all about believing in the music the same way I believe in Beethoven and Mozart.”

Audiences have not always believed in Tharp’s musical shows. Movin’ Out, which opened in 2003, ran for three years on Broadway, but 2006’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ was trashed by the critics and lasted only 28 performances; and even rave reviews couldn’t save the Tony-nominated Come Fly Away, which premiered on Broadway in the spring of 2010 but closed that fall after tepid box office returns.

Luckily, Tharp had a well-placed fan to give her Sinatra show – a story about the adventures of four couples told in movement – another chance. Billionaire Las Vegas resort owner Steve Wynn had been a good friend of the singer’s and felt a close relationship with his music. After Come Fly Away closed, he invited the musical to the Wynn Las Vegas – giving Tharp an opportunity to retool the show.

Among other changes, she got rid of the intermission, shortened the length to 80 minutes and changed both the beginning and the ending.

The musical also has a stunning trick that makes the Sinatra vocals sound live. The onstage band accompanies the singer as if he were giving a concert.

Calgary-based music arranger and composer Dave Pierce, who was the music director for the Vancouver Olympics, was responsible for that feat of legerdemain. “I have a knack of putting music together,” he says.

For this job, Pierce first got access to Sinatra’s performance tapes in a vault in Hollywood; some of them, dating back to 1957, had to be baked in ovens to reattach the adhesive. The next step was separating the voice track from the orchestra.

Finally, Pierce created what’s called a “click track” for the onstage conductor and percussionist to hear through earphones, which assigns musical beats or counts for every bar, enabling the band to be in sync with Sinatra’s singing. His tempo, no matter how much he plays around, is locked into the click track like a metronome.“This procedure could never happen with today’s technology, where the music is pre-recorded,” says Pierce. “Sinatra was actually in the studio with the orchestra. That’s why we have the energy of a live performance.”

The result of Pierce’s work and Tharp’s rework is a meaner and leaner show – with choreography that sizzles.

“The Las Vegas run gave us a second wind,” says Vancouver performer Cody Green, who appeared in Come Fly Away both on Broadway and in Las Vegas before joining the touring production. “The audience feels the energy and punch right from the start.”

As for what Sinatra might make of the show in its many incarnations?

Tharp and Sinatra have a history. The choreographer used Sinatra songs for three ballets before creating Come Fly Away, and the legendary singer admired her work. In fact, when Sinatra was awarded the Kennedy Centre Honour for lifetime achievement in 1983, he asked for a Tharp duet to be performed at the gala concert.

It was a mutual admiration society. “I feel the emotional pull of his songs. Frank had it all – musicality, voice and interpretation,” says Tharp. “I know [he] would want this show to be part of his legacy.”

Come Fly Away runs at the Four Seasons Centre until Aug. 28.


Nicole Ari Parker Takes ‘Streetcar’ to Broadway


(August 21, 2011) *NAACP Image Award winner
Nicole Ari Parker is set to star opposite Blair Underwood in the upcoming Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” directed by Emily Mann. Parker will play Blanche Du Bois in the production, which is set to open in the spring of 2012. The Tennessee Williams Pulitzer Prize winning drama is set against the backdrop of New Orleans’ gritty French Quarter, It tells the tale of former school teacher and socialite Blanche DuBois, as she’s forced to move in with her sister Stella and her animalistic husband (Underwood). But the fragile, Blanche quickly gets a gritty life lesson in the seamy, steamy underbelly of 1940s New Orleans. Read/learn more at BroadwayWorld.com.


Silicon Valley Legend Steve Jobs Resigns As APPLE CEO

Source: www.thestar.com - Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew

(August 24, 2011) Steve Jobs, the man who built Apple Inc. into the world’s most valuable technology company, resigned from its top executive spot Wednesday.

The 56-year-old Silicon Valley legend, who famously co-founded Apple in a garage and decades later stood at its helm as it unleashed millions of iPods, iPhones, and iPads upon the world, will stay on as the company’s chairman.

Tim Cook, currently the chief operating officer, will take the helm as CEO.

Job’s ongoing health issues had many wondering if Apple could thrive — or even survive — without him.

Speculation is now certain to turn to what’s next for Apple, which faces cutthroat competition in the consumer tablet space that it created.

Jobs had taken an indefinite medical leave of absence Jan. 17. Though secretive about his health, he has reportedly been battling a rare form of unspecified cancer since 2004 and recently underwent a liver transplant.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know,” Jobs said in a letter to the Apple board of directors. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Carmi Levy, an independent Canadian technology analyst, said the news “is absolutely not a surprise.”

“Even a casual observer knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t make it easier to take,” Levy said. “It is an incredibly tough blow when the enigmatic, charismatic leader of the world’s top consumer electronics company gets sick and steps down.

“We’ve been asking for years what happens after Steve Jobs. We’re about to find out.”

Trading in Apple shares was halted for Jobs’ announcement. Later, Apple stock fell in after-hours trading.

“He was so out front and centre of everything they did. He really understands products, and why you have to have great engineering and great design,” said Becky Reuber, professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

“He understands that it has to be made simply, look great, work great and appeal to consumers.”

After early success with the Apple II computer — deemed the first personal computer for regular people — the company suffered a slump in the mid-1980s and Jobs was forced out.

Returning 10 years later, and pioneering the now ubiquitous iPod, Jobs transcended the corporate ranks. Like Chrysler’s Lee Iaococca and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, he became a household name.

“During his lifetime he moved technology from being the domain of the hobbyist to the domain of everyone,” said Levy.

“If you look at the products that Apple sells today, they are easily consumable by those who have not an inkling of how technology works. And that, in the space of one generation, is a huge achievement.”

Jobs’ decision is sure to leave legions of investors and technology enthusiasts alike concerned not just for the future of Apple but for his health.

“He wouldn’t be resigning if he felt there was even a dim hope of recovery,” Levy said. “As a fan, I’m worried.”

With files from the Star’s wire services

Bastion Puts The Pieces Together Differently

www.thestar.com - By Darren Zenko

360 / PC
1200 MS Points (XBLA) / $14.99 (Steam)
rated E10+

(Aug 19, 2011) Since I was a kid, I’ve loved Shel Silverstein’s Where
the Sidewalk Ends. Not just that book and that particular poem, but that illustration: the crumbling precipice at the edge of all existence, the kids peering into the abyss as their dog scrambles desperately to avoid tumbling into oblivion. It’s a thrilling image, and that same thrill pervades Supergiant Games’ Bastion, a gem of a game where reality’s rim is ever a step away.

Bastion’s an action role-playing game, and its basic gameplay enjoys the familiarity of three decades: you guide your guy (“The Kid”) through a series of isometrically presented dungeons and deathtraps, doing battle with assorted monsters using a more-or-less standard-issue arsenal of upgradeable weapons. It’s tight, tense and well-balanced, and doesn’t go out of its way to push the mechanical boundaries of its venerable genre.

That faithfulness to action-RPG gameplay tropes, though, is what provides the solidity that makes the things Bastion does do differently so effective. Around that reliable armature are assembled some cool ideas, lovingly and thoughtfully executed, that advance Bastion quite a bit beyond your average — or even above-average — monster-eradicating arcade diversion.

The first thing that grabs you is the game’s aesthetic. Not just its visual and audio styles, both of which are excellent, but the “world above the Void” concept that gave me that crumbling-Sidewalk vibe. Except Bastion’s world isn’t crumbling. In fact, quite the opposite; as The Kid makes his way through his adventure, fragments of the world leap out of the void, re-assembling itself at his feet. It’s a very striking effect and an elegant solution to the design issue of concealing/revealing the map.

It’s also part of a unified theme of physical and spiritual rebuilding and recovery, a theme that informs and is supported by every aspect of the game, right down to the shopping. And though Bastion’s action is conventionally divided into discrete worlds, this theme and the game’s story and backstory — which are essentially the same thing — are introduced and elaborated in a smoothly free-flowing manner that echoes the way the game-world itself is revealed. The innovation here is that the developers have broken out of the RPG box to rethink the expository “conversations” that have served the genre since Day One.

Though there are a few question-and-answer sessions to be enjoyed, and a few cut scenes, these are kept far, far away from anywhere action is supposed to be, and they aren’t relied upon to do much heavy lifting, story-wise. Instead, Bastion features an ongoing narration from a folksy fella—think (actually just try to avoid thinking) Sam Elliot in The Big Lebowski — by the name of Rucks. As with everything else in the game, this narration is nearly perfectly timed and pitched; every time Rucks opens his mouth, whatever The Kid is seeing, doing or throwing grenades at is immediately invested with some extra weight or meaning, often to the point of heartbreak.

There’s more; lots more. How much more? All of it. Every aspect of Bastion, from the story and characters to the nature and handling of unlockables and achievements, to the way deities relate to gameplay, feels meaningful, considered. Even where Supergiant have made conventional — sometimes remarkably conventional — action-RPG decisions, you never get the feeling that those decisions were defaulted to, or made reflexively. Bastion is a surprising, satisfying work of art that’ll leave you with goosebumps, when it’s not blistering your thumbs.

El-Shaddai’s Pretty — Pretty Odd, Yet Pretty Familiar

www.thestar.com - By Darren Zenko

El Shaddai Ascension of the Metatron
Rated T

(August 19, 2011) Video games are pretty great and all, but my one,
true love has always been weirdness. Werewolves, Mayan astronauts, spontaneous human combustion, the lost city of Atlantis, ancient mystical wisdom; I am a total sucker for all that kind of stuff. So when I first saw the banner ads for El-Shaddai, Ascension of the Metatron, it went immediately on the must-have list, no further information needed.

For those unfamiliar, “Metatron” is the name of an angel that appears in parts of the Talmud and certain Jewish mystical books, identified by some as the angelic form assumed by the ancient patriarch Enoch (Noah's grandfather) after he was taken to Heaven and appointed boss of pretty much everything. El-Shaddai loosely bases its storyline — its endlessly entertaining, utterly bonkers storyline — on Enoch's spiritual adventures as depicted in the non-canonical Book of Enoch, boiling mystic metaphor down to an assignment from God to kick fallen-angel ass.

El-Shaddai's Enoch is quite a bit prettier (and whiter) than any historical Enoch could probably have been, but his prettiness is of a piece with the game itself. Beyond its eye-watering premise, El-Shaddai is a game that's all about the visual experience, as you'd expect from a game directed by Sawaki Takeyasu, who provided the stunning character designs for 2006's Okami.

This game presents a shifting, vertiginous world of pure colours and shapes, of blinding whites and abyssal blacks, of weird beings whose perversely familiar elements serve to render them even more alien. It really is a fantastically beautiful piece of work, the kind of thing I'm almost as content to watch as play.

As strange and surreal as the world through which Enoch moves might be, his mission is pretty much video-game meat and potatoes: beat up everything you meet, and don't fall into bottomless pits. The beating-up part is more or less a standard brawler game, though the button-mashing tendencies of that genre are mitigated somewhat by a system where Enoch can steal and use the weapons of his enemies. That adds a little bit of strategy and mindfulness to the proceedings, but once you've figured out which angels crumble before which weapons, there's not much left to figure out — other than getting your timing down.

As for not falling into bottomless pits, that's a little tougher. Enoch travels through the maddening spiritual terrain between bouts in a sort of hybridized 3-D and side-scrolling platform game, a world of gaps, and spikes, and ledges, and long glowing pathways with no guardrails. Like its brawls, the platforming in El-Shaddai wouldn't be all that remarkable, were it not for its sheer outrageous beauty. This world — these worlds — roll and shift and cascade one into another, each section of each world meticulously designed and timed for the most stunning experience possible. How many jumps did I miss because I was simply gawking? A lot.

It seems odd to say this about a game so resolutely weird, but nothing in El-Shaddai is really all that new, not even the mystical-Judaism angle; some of the most towering achievements of Japanese popular culture (Evangelion, Final Fantasy VII) have borrowed straight from kabbalah.

What sets El-Shaddai apart is the way it presents its gameplay and storyline in an organic visual froth that never stops delivering surprises. Sometimes, pretty is enough.


Fan Expo - Celebs, Costumes And Collectibles

Source: www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar

(Aug 23, 2011) Whatever your obsessive pleasure, be it comic, anime, horror or gaming related, there is something at Fan Expo for you. This Comic-Con of the North continues to expand every year, with over 50,000 guests last year, so resolving some of the issues from last year’s event isn’t just a hope, it’s close to a necessity.

Last year, on the main Saturday, the fire marshal was called in as the show floor was too crowded, resulting in hours-long delays in guests being allowed in. To rectify that this year, organizers added a day and returned to the larger South Hall of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

There’s far too much to cover in terms of guests and events, but here’s a quick list of some of the highlights:

 • Guests from all walks of genre fiction will be attendance, with the biggest names including William Shatner, Eliza Dushku, Michael Biehn, Katee Sackhoff, Lee Majors, Malcolm McDowell, Robert Englund and many, many more.

 • People, this is all about consumables. Comic books, yes, but also DVDs, T-shirts and other collectibles will be available. One would hope that so many dealers being so close to each other might engender deals, but usually it’s only late Sunday that people get into a haggling mood.

 • Gawk at cosplayers. Or take part. Cosplay, a.k.a. costume play, is the biggest participatory and spectator sport at these conventions as thousands of people dress up as their favourite fictional characters. Some of the elaborate work that they put into them is incredible. It all leads up to the Masquerade, which is a combination competition/celebration to blow out the weekend.

There really is much, much more, including sneak previews of upcoming movies and TV shows, meet and greets, photo opps, giveaways and all kinds of geek and nerd delights.

See www.fanexpocanada.com for more information.


Cuba Heads List Of Top 15 Bargain Vacations

Source: www.thestar.com - Arthur Frommer

(Aug 23, 2011) Travel prices to the tropics drop dramatically in September, as do trans-Atlantic airfares. I list examples to both Europe and the tropics in this latest version of my 15 best bargain vacations.

(1) Budget-priced Cuba: From Toronto, $515 to $615 (in September) per person, including round-trip airfare from Toronto (and all fees and taxes) to either Manzanillo (on Sept. 28) or Camaguey, Cuba (on Sept. 14), and seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, meals, drinks) at either the three-star, 283-room Club Amigo Marea del Portillo in Manzanillo, with its five restaurants (total, including air, fees and taxes, of $515 per person) or at the three-star, 150-room Club Amigo Caracol in Camaguey, with its three restaurants (total, including air, fees and taxes, of $615 per person). The $515 package to Manzanillo is a special value. Air transportation is by Sunwing Airlines (sunwing.ca or phone 416-620-5999 or 800-668-4224).

(2) Varadero, Cuba: From Toronto, $695 (in September), a package consisting of round-trip airfare accommodations, three meals daily and unlimited drinks, for seven nights at the 233-room, beachfront Tuxpan Hotel, a four-star property with three restaurants. Flights from Toronto to the popular Varadero area in Cuba are scheduled daily, but the price cited above is for Saturday departures. Contact Sunwing Vacations for information. Alternatively, and for a three-star resort on Varadero beach (the Allegro Varadero), Air Canada Vacations will fly you on Sept. 24 for an all-inclusive seven-night stay at the Allegro property for only $625, including all taxes and fees. Either access www.aircanadavacations.com or phone 866-529-2079.

(3) Cancun (the Riviera Maya) in September: $832 per person, including round-trip air (and all government fees and taxes) to Cancun, departing Monday, Sept. 26, from Toronto. Participants, in addition to air, also receive seven all-inclusive nights (with three meals daily and unlimited drinks) at the large, 480-room Viva Wyndham Maya Resort in the popular Playacar area south of Cancun. The tour operator is Sunwing of Canada, flying Sunwing Airlines. In addition to every amenity, the Viva Wyndham Maya is on a particularly remarkable white-sand beach.

(4) Samana, Dominican Republic, in September: $847 to $873 per person, including round-trip air from Toronto (and all government fees and taxes), on weekend departures. Also includes seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks) at the Bahia Samana Roulette Resort.

(5) Puerto Plata in late September: $753 per person, including round-trip air from Toronto (and all government fees and taxes), departing Friday, Sept. 23 and Friday, Sept. 30, and including seven all-inclusive nights (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks) at the 678-room Casa Marina Beach Resort in Sosua (10 minutes from the Puerto Plata airport) in the Dominican Republic, as well as round-trip airport-to-hotel transfers. The resort enjoys an oceanfront, beach-lined position facing a reef transformed into a natural sun deck, highly esteemed by returning guests. Tour operator is Sunquest Vacations, using WestJet Airlines for round-trip air transportation ( www.sunquest.ca, phone 416-485-8438 or 800-387-8438).

(6) Paris, from Toronto: $918 to $948 in mid-to-late September, round-trip by air (but air only, not including accommodations), including all taxes and fees. From Air Transat ( www.airtransat.ca or phone 866-847-1112), round-trip airfares between Toronto and Paris are in the low $900s on numerous dates of departure and return in mid-to-late September. Those prices from and to Toronto are at least $200 less (sometimes far more than $200 less) than you would normally pay on a standard airline for a round-trip ticket, including tax.

(7) Round-trip to London, from Toronto: $671 from mid-September to mid-October, including all taxes and fees. Air Transat, that major Canadian holiday airline, will fly you there and back on numerous dates between Sept. 20 and Oct. 11 at the remarkable price set forth above. Go to AirTransat.ca (or phone 866-847-1112), and you can make an early-autumn trip to the British Isles for an affordable airfare price.

(8) Four to six hotel nights in London: From $1,003 to $1,161 per person, including round-trip airfare on Air Canada and all government fees and taxes. Departing Toronto on Oct. 19 for the four-night stay, and departing Toronto on Sept. 28 for the six-night stay, Air Canada Vacations will fly you on Air Canada to the British capital (including all fees and taxes) and put you up for either four or six nights at the Hotel Ibis London Earls Court, including breakfast each morning.

(9) Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, in September: $828 per person, including round-trip air transportation on Air Canada (with all government fees and taxes included) and seven nights of all-inclusive arrangements (room, three meals daily, unlimited drinks, all else) at the 865-room Occidental Grand Punta Cana Resort, with its nine themed restaurants and three swimming pools, all on a 640-metre-long beach. Departures: Saturdays throughout September.

(10) Costa Rica independently, in September and October: $669 for seven nights in Costa Rica (not including airfare), travelling by “Adventure Bus” from place to place. An immensely popular, free-spirited approach to touring Costa Rica, as packaged by Toronto’s GAP Adventures ( www.gapadventures.ca, 888-800-4100), these well-priced arrangements place you for one hotel night in the capital city of San Jose, one night at the foot of the Arenal Volcano, four nights in a hotel along the beaches of Guanacaste, and one remaining night back in San Jose. You are brought from place to place by the Adventure Bus, which takes you directly to your hotel in each location. Meals other than breakfast are not included (you are advised to budget $240 for your meals for the trip); the price of $669 remains unchanged on daily departures throughout the months of September and October.

(11) Escorted Costa Rica in September: $995 to $1,095 per person. On frequent departures in September, the long-established Caravan Tours will take you by escorted motor coach on a 10-night tour of every important sight of Costa Rica, for a total of $995, including quality accommodations, three meals daily, daily escorted sightseeing and entrance fees. Airfare to Costa Rica — for which you make your own arrangements — is not included. Departures in September at the price of $995 per person are on Sept. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. Go to Caravan.com or phone 800-CARAVAN.

(12) Orlando in September: $797 for round-trip airfare from Toronto on WestJet (including all government taxes and fees) and seven nights of accommodations at the 614-room Seralago Maingate East in Kissimmee, Fla., from which you’ll enjoy free shuttle transportation to the Orlando theme parks. The Seralago has two swimming pools, a kids’ pool, tennis court and numerous other amenities. Contact WestJetVacations.com (phone 877-737-7001). Departures are on numerous dates throughout September.

(13) Cruises of the Mediterranean for $100 a day in September: Go to VacationsToGo.com, click on “Mediterranean,” then on “8- to 13-night cruises,” and you’ll discover that cruise prices for those European waters have sharply fallen because of inadequate demand. The probable reason? High airfares across the Atlantic, and the (mistaken) notion that the conflicts in Libya and elsewhere in the area have made such cruises dangerous, which of course is not the case. Cruise prices in the Mediterranean in autumn are among the great bargains of travel, although you’ll have to pay airfares (including fees) of $1,250 or more to reach the embarkation and disembarkation ports.

(14) Deluxe suites at Vegas’ elegant Vdara hotel: $109 and $139 per suite, per night. Provided your stay is for mid-week dates (Sunday through Thursday), you’ll discover that September rates at the deluxe hotel properties of Las Vegas are now available for unprecedented low prices. Go to the booking charts of the 1,500-unit, all-suite Vdara Hotel on the Strip (arguably, one of the best hotels in Las Vegas) and you’ll find the nights of Sept. 1, 5, 6, 7 and 8 priced at $109 per suite, per night, with Sept. 19, 20 and 21 going for $139 per suite, per night. Such rates, it should be emphasized, are per suite, not per person, which makes them all the more remarkable.

(15) China, five cities in nine nights: $1,295 per person, including round-trip air from San Francisco to Beijing and Shanghai (and all government fees and taxes), hotel accommodations with three meals daily (except on one “free day” in Shanghai) and daily escorted sightseeing, including all entrance fees, all for departure dates in November and January (exact departures: Nov. 21 and 28, Jan. 5 and 12). Showing its determination to be the unchallenged leader in low-cost air-and-land packages to China, China Focus ( www.chinafocustravel.com) has now announced that $1,299 per person price for its signature tour, called “Historic China.” I find it rather remarkable that the tour company is committing itself to that price as much as five and six months in advance, confident that the Chinese currency will remain as undervalued as it presently is.

NOTE: The prices cited are per person for each of two people travelling together (except where indicated), and do not include government taxes and fees (unless those taxes and fees are specifically listed as included). Airfare is often included in the price, but only when specifically mentioned. Prices are subject to change, and new listings will periodically be substituted for those that are no longer valid.

Ride The Rails To Discover Ontario’s History

Source: www.thestar.com - Kathryn Folliott

(Aug 19, 2011) Rail Travel Tours has partnered with Canada’s Historical Society for the “Superior Colours & Heritage Rail Tour,” a fall foliage run to Northern Ontario taking place Sept. 29 to Oct. 3. Winding its way to White River, between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, the train trip includes all-daylight travel on both the Ontario Northland Railway train, the Northlander, and VIA Rail’s Sudbury-White River rail diesel car, with nightly accommodation in hotels along the way. Stops include the Historic Temagami Station, an underground mine tour at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury, the Northern Ontario Railway Museum and the Dionne Quintuplets Museum in North Bay. Priced at $895 per person, sharing, the package also includes several meals, motor coach transfers and visits with heritage speakers. Call 1-866-704-3528.


The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (baseballhalloffame.ca) may not have quite the high profile of its Cooperstown counterpart, but its celebration of home-grown talent makes it worth a visit, especially with its location in scenic St. Mary’s. The Hall was a favourite feature at Exhibition Place and then Ontario Place in the 1980s before finding its permanent home, and now pays tribute to some 90 Canadian inductees including this year’s honourees Allan Simpson, George Wood and former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Tom Henke. It’s an easy day trip, but if you’re looking for an overnight or two, The Westover Inn (westoverinn.com) is a St. Mary’s B&B that offers dinner and breakfast packages with accommodation from $125 per person, double occupancy mid-week through Aug. 31 ($130 for weekends) and from $118 mid-week ($128 weekends) from Sept. 1-30, and $115 mid-week ($125 weekends) from Oct. 1-31. Rates are per night and include a four-course dinner and full country breakfast.


Montreal’s Summer Sweet Deal extends the season through Oct. 15 and offers 50 per cent off third nights at close to 20 hotels in the city. Nightly rates start at $159 for the Holiday Inn Select Downtown and range up to $249 for the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. Most deals come with extras like continental breakfast or late check-out plus coupons for local attractions. See www.tourisme-montreal.org.


Fern Resort in Orillia is wrapping up the summer with special deals that include August Family packages available with two- to seven-day stays through Sept. 2 and a special three-day Labour Day weekend package Sept. 2-5, both offering free stays to one child 12 and under. And with the Summer Wind-Up, two children 12 and under stay free, for two- to six-day getaways Sept. 5-11. All three packages also give 10 per cent off to seniors. Fern includes meals with its packages plus organized (and supervised) activities for kids, covering all ages from toddlers to teens. See www.fernresort.com.


A two-night “Muskoka Retreat” is available at Trillium Resort & Spa through Sept. 10, and includes accommodation, daily breakfast and dinner, and a $50 spa credit, from $280 per person. Three-, four- and five-night packages are also available, from $405 to $635 per person. Also at The Trillium, a Stay ’N Play getaway includes accommodation, dinner, breakfast and a round with cart at the North Granite Ridge Golf Course. The Trillium is home to seven kilometres of hiking trails on 86 acres and also offers canoeing, kayaking and mountain biking. See www.trilliumresort.com.


Waterloo’s Summer Savers promotion includes one night’s accommodation packaged with discounted tickets to local attractions, with rates from $183. Both the Waterloo Inn and the Homewood Suites by Hilton are taking part in the deal, paired with attractions that include Bingemans Big Splash, the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort, and Chicopee Tube Adventure Park. Travel must be taken by Sept. 18. The Waterloo Region is hosting a number of events this summer, including both the Waterloo Air Show and Moparfest, both taking place Aug. 20-21, and the Waterloo Busker Carnival Aug. 25-28. See www.explorewaterlooregion.com.


New League Draws Hoop Dreamers

www.thestar.com - Doug Smith

(Aug 20, 2011) It’s almost time for Mike Evans Jr. to get on with his life.

He’s a bright and personable 24-year-old who would seem to have a promising future in whatever field he chooses. But real life can wait because there’s basketball to be played and there Evans found himself on Saturday afternoon at Seneca College, tilting at windmills with almost 100 other wannabes at the first pre-draft combine of the nascent
National Basketball League of Canada.

“I can’t get away from it,” said Evans, the son of former Raptors assistant coach Mike Evans, Sr. “I thought about taking a different route but the game calls you back. It just has that strange way of calling you back. I can’t get away from it.”

Evans is certainly not alone in his love of the game and his desire to take one last shot at a new pro league in a foreign country with strangers as teammates in cities few have heard of.

The simple fact is that only seven of the 100 or so non-Canadians will be chosen in Sunday night’s draft — it’s a three-round draft of seven NBL teams with two rounds given over to solely homegrown talent — and the rest will be trying to cadge camp invitations in October. But the games were a high level of intensity, the drills done with a purpose and if they were all dreamers on the court, they were hard-working dreamers.

“They are, absolutely, chasing a dream,” said Halifax Rainmen owner and league CEO Andre Levingston. “I’ve been in the same situation before and you just want an opportunity to play. We’ve loved the game since we were kids and the opportunity to make some money doing what we love is fantastic.”

The one-day camp attracted a wide variety of players, mostly culled from the various NCAA divisions, a couple of veterans of the smaller European leagues and a handful of players who’ve been kicking around various North American minor leagues trying to scratch out an existence.

With a salary cap of $150,000 per 10- to 12-man NBL roster, no one’s going to get rich playing Moncton, Halifax, Saint John, Summerside, Quebec, Oshawa or London, but they will be professional basketball players if they make the grade.

“It’s a chance,” said Evans, a 6-foot-2 guard. “It’s something you can tell your kids and grandkids . . . It’s not the most important thing in the world but it’s something to push for and I’ll have plenty of stories to tell if I’m able to make it.”

If it’s difficult for players to stand out in such a free-for-all atmosphere, it’s also difficult for coaches to find just what they want. They prowled the sidelines while others ran the drills and picked the teams for the scrimmages hoping to find one guy who stood out.

“You look for hustle, you look for guys that know the game, don’t do things that they can’t do, basketball IQ and talent,” said Oshawa Power head coach Mark Strickland.

“I see maybe about 10 players that are pretty good.”

At least Evans has an idea what to expect, if he makes it. He went and lived in Halifax and worked out with and helped coach the Rainmen when his father took over in the middle of he Premier Basketball League season the Halifax entry played in.

“Honestly, I was just looking for an opportunity to play,” said Evans. “The dream is to play and do what you love and get paid for it.

“That’s been the dream since I was little and I thought I would come up and give it a shot.”

Canada’s Vincent-Lapointe Races To Another Canoe Gold

www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(Aug 21, 2011) SZEGED, HUNGARY—Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe beat a strong field to win the women’s C-1 200 metres Sunday, claiming her second gold medal at the world canoe and kayak championships.

The 19-year-old paddler from Trois-Rivieres, Que., crossed in 48.876 seconds to defend her world title in the non-Olympic event. Maria Kazakova of Russia was second, while Staniliya Stamenova of Bulgaria won the bronze.

“I was caught off-guard by the fast start by the field and that made me more nervous during the race,” Vincent-Lapointe said. “My arms were really burning up as I approached the finish line. This was the strongest field I’d ever faced.”

The Canadian’s victory came a day after she and Mallorie Nicholson of Oakville, Ont., took gold in the C-2 500-metre final.

The win was Canada’s third at the world championships. Adam van Koeverden of Oakville started things off with a victory in the men’s K-1 1,000 on Friday.

Mark De Jonge of Halifax earned an Olympic quota spot for Canada with his sixth-place finish in the men’s K-1 200 metres.

“It was a very satisfying race,” said De Jonge. “I had known since May I was going to race this event at worlds so it was a long buildup practising every day with the objective to get the Olympic spot for Canada. It was a good feeling to deliver when it was time.”

Piotre Siemionowski of Poland won the gold. Britain’s Edward McKeever was second, while Germany’s Ronald Rauhe was third.

Canada earned three Olympic quota spots at the world championships. The final opportunity to gain spots will be at the Pan American Games in October in Mexico.

“Certainly we had some athletes who were hoping for better results but we had several boats which were very competitive,” said Barney Wainwright, CanoeKayak Canada’s high performance director. “We’ve learned a lot and now we have to turn around focus quickly to the Pan Am Games.”

In other non-Olympic events, Mark Oldershaw of Burlington, Ont., was fifth in the C-1 5,000 while Van Koeverden was fifth in the K-1 5,000.

Team Canada Takes A Look Inward Ahead Of Tourney

Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Smith

(Aug 23, 2011) It's not about learning opponents or playing possum for Canada's national men's basketball team as it gets ready for the Marchand Continental Cup in Brazil starting Wednesday.

It's about figuring out just what they are and working on what they need to do.

Despite playing three teams — Brazil, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic — that they'll see next week at the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament, Canada needs to be concerned with itself more than anything, said head coach Leo Rautins.

“The biggest thing in these three games is prepping us, working on what we do,” Rautins said in an email from Brazil.

“(It's) not so much scouting and prepping for our opponent (because) we will do that next week.”

One of the chief missions for Rautins is to nail down rotations for a team that's only been together for two exhibition games. The addition of San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph and the return of veterans Carl English and Jesse Young should afford the coach a deeper bench to work with than he's had in the past.

“We are a little banged up,” he said. “But we'll look at different rotations and combinations.”

Rautins took 14 players to the Brazil tournament but only 12 will be able to dress for the Olympic qualifier that begins next Tuesday in Argentina.

With a handful of experienced players who will eat up most of the minutes, the final roster spots are likely to be taken by two of three rookies: Jeff Ferguson, a six-foot-11 forward from Toronto; forward Murphy Burnatowski, six-foot-six from Waterloo, and six-foot-seven forward Alex Hartman from Portland, Ore., a son of a Canadian.

“We may have to think big in case of anything happening to any of our big guys,” the coach said.

Rautins rattles off the usual list of things his team must work on in games against Brazil on Wednesday, Puerto Rico on Thursday and Dominican Republic on Friday.

“Offensively, the keys will be to stay with our system, move the ball, not turn it over and — I know it's simple and obvious — recognize and make our shots,” he said.

“Defensively, we have to follow our rules, be aggressive without fouling and, very importantly, finish possessions by getting the rebound.”

Heading into a significant tournament against the same teams next week, one school of thought is to hold back a little something.

“We are not good enough to play possum,” Rautins said. “We don't have to show all but we have to work hard at being us.”

Shallower Nets, Hi-Def Net Cameras Tested For NHL

www.thestar.com - Bob Mitchell

(Aug 18, 2011) Verification lines behind the goal line, shallow nets and hi-definition in-the-net cameras are among the innovations the NHL will likely test out in exhibition games this season.

While no imminent rule changes are planned for this season, some technological innovations will be tried out that could make the game safer, quicker and help determine if goals are scored.

Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s vice-president of player safety and hockey operations, confirmed on Thursday that curved glass partition at the benches will be in every rink this season.

“There will be a few things, including the curved glass, that we’ll see in NHL games this year,” Shanahan said.

Curved glass should allow players to deflect or roll away from the so-called turnbuckle instead of striking it hard with potential dangerous injuries.

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty suffered a concussion and fractured vertebra after being steered into the turnbuckle at the Bell Centre in Montreal by Boston Bruin defenceman Zdeno Chara. The hit was probed by police and the investigation was handed over to the Crown.

The curved glass was installed at the MasterCard Centre rink this week where 36 of the top 2012 junior draft eligible players scrimmaged at the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation camp.

“We all agree the curved glass makes a safer environment for our players,” Shanahan said.

He said it was also “time” to test out some of the innovations with NHL players.

“We’re ready to start testing them out in some exhibition games,” Shanahan said.

From talking with players, neither the goal line camera or the yellow or green verification line behind the goal line has been a distraction, Shanahan said.

As for the shallow net, Shanahan said it allows for “improved passing lanes.” It also makes wrap-arounds easier and quicker.

The shallow net features a 40-inch deep frame instead of the usual 44 inches. It provides a bit more room behind the net for players.

“You can do a wrap around a split second faster but I’m not sure goalies are going to like it,” Shanahan said.

The in-net hi-def camera will also “enhance” goal reviews, Shanahan said.

At this camp, both green and yellow verification lines were in play behind the goal lines in the net. The lines, parallel to the goal line, were set a little more than three inches behind the goal line — a puck’s diameter is three inches.

The idea is that on disputed goals, if the puck is touching the verification line, it’s a goal.

U.S. Officially Out Of The Running For 2020 Olympics

Source: www.thestar.com - Eddie Pells

(Aug 22, 2011) The U.S. Olympic Committee has notified all interested cities that it will not submit a bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Chicago, New York and Dallas were among those that had expressed interest in putting forth a bid to host the games, but any bid was contingent upon the USOC working out a long-simmering revenue-sharing deal with the International Olympic Committee.

USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said Monday on Twitter that “I can confirm the U.S. will not be bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games.” He told the Associated Press the cities that had expressed interest were notified over the weekend that no bid would happen.

Countries have until Sept. 1 to submit the name of candidate cities.

“With such little time left in the process, we don’t believe we could pull together a winning bid that could serve the Olympic and Paralympic movement,” Sandusky told the AP.

There also was no process in place to select a city, as there was for 2016, when Chicago beat out finalists Los Angeles and San Francisco to become the U.S. representative.

The USOC’s decision not to bid for 2020 means there will be at least a 20-year gap between Olympics in the United States. The last Games on U.S. soil were the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 and the last Summer Olympics were the Atlanta Games in 1996.

New York was, at one time, considered a favourite to host 2012, but it lost in embarrassing fashion. Chicago finished fourth of four finalists for the 2016 Games, and that humiliating loss was viewed by many as more a reflection on the USOC’s relationship with the IOC than the city’s viability as an Olympic host.

America’s next chance to host an Olympics would be the 2022 Winter Games. Denver and the Reno/Tahoe area have expressed interest, though the USOC would put the same caveats on a bid for those Games — that there would be no attempt unless the revenue-sharing deal is worked out and the relationship with the IOC improves.

“I think it’s one of the smartest things they could do right now to come to a good conclusion with the IOC on revenue sharing,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, one of the country’s most important, and successful, Olympic sports. “It’s very important they get this revenue-sharing deal done the right way. Having an Olympic bid hanging over your head is going to change the way you think about one of the most important business decisions you’re going to make for the USOC in the foreseeable future.”

Since Chicago lost the bid to host the 2016 Games, USOC leadership had said there was only a very slim possibility of a 2020 bid and it would be tied to the USOC working out a deal on the contentious issue of whether the USOC would give the IOC more from the U.S. broadcasting and global sponsorship deals.

USOC leaders would not rule anything out, and the revenue negotiations were accelerated in recent weeks in the hopes of working something out in time to meet the Sept. 1 deadline.

But the IOC was asking for more than the USOC leadership was willing to give at this point in an arrangement worth hundreds of millions of dollars, even though the USOC has redoubled its efforts to be a better partner with Olympic leadership after years of a sometimes-fractious relationship.

The IOC will award the 2020 Games in 2013. So far, Rome, Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul, Turkey, have announced they will bid.

There has been very little talk about the 2024 Summer Games, which won’t be awarded for another six years.

Ambrose Finds Redemption With Montreal Win

www.thestar.com - Bill Beacon

(Aug 20, 2011) MONTREAL—Marcos Ambrose survived a collision with Jacques Villeneuve and went on to win the NAPA Auto Parts 200 NASCAR Nationwide race on Saturday.

Ambrose took the lead on a restart with 10 laps to go as he blew past Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que. Tagliani finished second and Michael McDowell was third.

Ambrose held the top spot through the sixth caution of the incident-filled race to claim victory on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve where he twice before fell just short of winning.

The Australian was coming off his first NASCAR Sprint Cup event on Monday at Watkins Glen, N.Y. He arrived in Montreal less than 30 minutes before the race from Michigan, where he will compete Sunday.

Steve Wallace was fourth and J.R. Fitzpatrick of Ayr, Ont., was fifth. Veteran Ron Fellows of Toronto was 11th.

Patrick Carpentier of Joliette, Que., was forced out of his last race before retirement when he was bumped late by Wallace.

Villeneuve, the 1997 Formula One champion from Iberville, Que., started from the pole position and had the lead until the restart after the second yellow flag on lap 44 as an apparent braking error sent him across the infield on the first turn and straight into Ambrose's car. Ambrose then bumped Villeneuve, who never threatened again.

Villeneuve’s Penske teammate Tagliani used the confusion to pass Fellows for the lead, but he made a pit stop on another restart at lap 51 to put Fellows back in the lead until Ambrose took over.

Attendance figures weren’t announced, but with warm, sunny weather and Villeneuve and Tagliani on the front row of the grid, it appeared to be the biggest crowd since the inaugural Nationwide race in 2008. Grandstands were packed and thousands lined the sides of the track.

There are concerns it may be the final race in Montreal after the Quebec government turned down a request for $500,000 in funding, but organizers are optimistic a deal will be made before NASCAR releases its 2012 schedule later in August.

Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., won the NASCAR Canadian Tire race earlier Saturday but his bid for the double ended when his engine blew 25 laps into the Nationwide.

Maryeve Dufault, the first Canadian woman in a Nationwide event, spun out on lap 14 and stopped in the middle of the track. The Sorel, Que., native’s mistake brought out a yellow flag.

Then on lap 40, another Quebecer, Louis-Philippe Dumoulin, stopped on the track to bring out the second yellow, erasing Villeneuve’s nearly six-second lead.

Drivers Carl Edwards, Ambrose and Trevor Bayne made it to the race about 25 minutes before the start from the Sprint Cup event in Michigan. They arrived on Edward's jet — a two-hour flight — helicoptered to the track and took a boat along the Olympic rowing basin to the garages.

They started at the back because they missed the drivers meeting, while Kenny Wallace, Timmy Hill Chris Cook and Dufault were at the back due to making pre-race adjustments to their car.

Earlier Saturday, Ranger started from the pole and never looked back in taking the checkered flag for the NASCAR Canadian Tire series event.

It was a second win of the year for Ranger and the third of his career at the track. He also won at Toronto on July 9. It was only his fourth race of the season in the Canadian stock car series.

Ranger also won the Montreal race in 2008 and last year.

His final test came on a restart with five laps to go, but Ranger built a gap and was never threatened despite a problem with his brakes.

“I was worried about the last five laps because you never know what's going to happen on a restart,” he said. “But I stayed calm and was able to win another one.”

Kerry Micks of Mt. Albert, Ont., was second and Jason Bowles was third with Jeff Lapcevich of Grimsby, Ont., fourth.

“In the end I couldn't beat Andrew,” said Micks. “My car wasn't good enough.

“I wish I could buy one of his cars and we could have a real race.”

Tagliani came in fifth, just ahead of 2009 champion Fitzpatrick.

Timmies Brews Up Deal With Jays

Source: www.thestar.com - Josh Rubin

(Aug 22, 2011) Care for a double-double to go with that homer?

Blue Jays fans will be able to buy
Tim Hortons coffee and Cold Stone creamery ice cream from two kiosks at the Rogers Centre under a new sponsorship deal between the club and the iconic Canadian coffee chain.

The deal is only for the remainder of this season, but the Blue Jays are in talks for a multi-year contract with the chain, said Stephen Brooks, the team’s senior vice-president of business operations.

“We’re delighted to have them in the building, and we’d like to expand the relationship,” said Brooks. “They’re such a great Canadian brand, and have a big relationship with sports at the grassroots level.”

Brooks wouldn’t reveal how much the Jays are making from the deal, which includes in-stadium signage, but no TV or radio advertising.

Brooks added that talks between Tim Hortons and the Blue Jays began this spring. Inking the deal now gives the two sides plenty of time to firm up plans for next season, assuming a broader agreement is reached.

“This is about when I’d want to start something for next season. It’s a lot more complicated than just printing up signs,” said Brooks.

Sports teams are increasingly turning to sponsorship deals with big-name food brands, rather than lower-profile offerings from standard catering companies, Brooks said.

“It’s fair to say that’s the broader trend,” said Brook.

In 2008, the team signed a 10-year deal with Philadelphia-based food services giant Aramark Corp. to run concession stands at the Rogers Centre.
Timmies Brews Up Deal With Jays

Source: www.thestar.com - Josh Rubin

(Aug 22, 2011) Care for a double-double to go with that homer?

Blue Jays fans will be able to buy
Tim Hortons coffee and Cold Stone creamery ice cream from two kiosks at the Rogers Centre under a new sponsorship deal between the club and the iconic Canadian coffee chain.

The deal is only for the remainder of this season, but the Blue Jays are in talks for a multi-year contract with the chain, said Stephen Brooks, the team’s senior vice-president of business operations.

“We’re delighted to have them in the building, and we’d like to expand the relationship,” said Brooks. “They’re such a great Canadian brand, and have a big relationship with sports at the grassroots level.”

Brooks wouldn’t reveal how much the Jays are making from the deal, which includes in-stadium signage, but no TV or radio advertising.

Brooks added that talks between Tim Hortons and the Blue Jays began this spring. Inking the deal now gives the two sides plenty of time to firm up plans for next season, assuming a broader agreement is reached.

“This is about when I’d want to start something for next season. It’s a lot more complicated than just printing up signs,” said Brooks.

Sports teams are increasingly turning to sponsorship deals with big-name food brands, rather than lower-profile offerings from standard catering companies, Brooks said.

“It’s fair to say that’s the broader trend,” said Brook.

In 2008, the team signed a 10-year deal with Philadelphia-based food services giant Aramark Corp. to run concession stands at the Rogers Centre.

Canada’s Rising Judo Star Willing To Pay The Price

Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman

(Aug 23, 2011) It wasn’t unusual for the merits of one’s fighting skills to be debated in Kelita Zupancic’s home growing up.

Zupancic has three younger brothers, Anton, Ryan and Andrew, all of whom were drafted by the Ontario Hockey League. They’d verbally spar with their buddies on occasion about who was the toughest.

“The boys were telling each other: ‘I can beat you up.’ . . . ‘No, I can beat you up,’” recalled her father, Ed Zupancic. “And then one of my sons said ‘My sister can beat all of you up.’ And they all just nodded Yes.”

Kelita Zupancic wasn’t a bully and didn’t necessarily look like a fighter, but you sure didn’t want to mess with the Whitby native, especially on a judo mat.

That hasn’t changed since she was 5 and followed father, a fourth-degree black belt and former national champion, into the sport at the Formokan Judo Club in Oshawa.

“I knew right away,” said Kelita Zupancic. “I have my Grade 1 autobiography that says I’m going to the 2012 Olympic Games and it has a picture of me on the podium. So, I’ve known my whole life. It’s not something I just thought of. I’ve known I would be an Olympic athlete, didn’t know what sport, but I drew myself in a judo gi.”

Now 21, Kelita Zupancic is Canada’s rising star in the sport and competes this week in the under 70-kg class at the world championships in Paris. She’s an athlete who will likely be at her peak when the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics roll around, but she is determined that youth will be served at next summer’s London Games.

“I think my chances are actually good for a medal,” she said. “If I’m on and I fight the way I can and I’m on a roll and I get the first win going, it’s going to be hard to stop me, I think.”

There aren’t a lot of Canadian success stories in judo for a reason. The sport’s barely on the radar here and the physical and mental price you have to pay to be among the world’s best is far too exorbitant for most.

You’ve got to be a rare bird like Canada’s best-ever judoka, two-time Olympic medallist Nicolas Gill, who coaches Kelita on the national team and believes the competitive level is much tougher these days.

“She has what it takes, but it’s years of dedication that will create that,” said Gill.

That she’s tough enough is evident by the fact she just spent a year in Japan training and competing with one of the top company teams, industrial machinery giant Komatsu, which has two world champions in its impressive stable.

This is something Gill did during his climb and is not for the faint of heart.

“Everyone told me I was crazy for going, but I think it was a good challenge and I couldn’t say ‘No,’” said Kelita.

The regimen often included four hours of combat, twice the usual amount, gruelling mat exercises and a two-hour running drill that pitted athletes against each other.

“You’re running for your life basically,” she said. “It’s a race. The person who wins can go back to their room. But if you keep losing, you’ve got to keep running.”

Still, she learned so much and plans to return at some point.

“They’re just brutal, they just train so hard. I’d never experienced anything like this,” she said. “So I was lucky just to see how they trained. Even Komatsu, they’re secretive. If people want to come over from the different places and train at their dojo, they don’t let them see their weight-training program.

“When you think you’re good, you’re No. 1 in Canada, you go over there and people are just in a different league. It was an amazing experience.”

Kelita was quite a hockey star herself, playing for much of her youth on a boys’ AAA team. When she was around 13, she had to choose between hockey and judo because they were starting to conflict. Her dad wanted her to choose hockey. She agonized over it but picked judo and hasn’t looked back.

She laughed this week on the phone from Paris when reminded about the debate between her brothers and their friends.

“Definitely, I got a reputation growing up playing on the guys’ hockey teams,” Kelita said. “The guys knew how tough I was because I played with them. I got quite a good reputation for beating up boys going up through school.”

The Zupancic clan definitely has a well-developed work ethic. Ed Zupancic has his own computer IT consulting business, mother Annette just opened a restaurant in Oshawa, Jimmy Guaco’s Border Town Burritos, and the brothers have been working out hard all summer for hockey.

The whole family competed in judo at one point and Ed Zupancic remembers the time they took part in a tournament that handed out wooden trophies.

“We won enough wood to make a desk,” he laughed.

Now, their oldest kid wants heavy medal.

Judo victories
Born May 9, 1990, Whitby
Silver, Sao Paolo, June 2011
Bronze, Rio, June 2011
Bronze, Pan Ams, April 2011
Silver, Suwon, Korea, December 2010
Gold, Pan Ams, April 2010
Gold, Baku, Azerbaijan, January 2010
“My skin at the end of the days would just be raw from the training (in Japan). You were just dying.”


Morgan Lewis Top Pick In National Basketball League Draft

www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(August 21, 2011) Toronto — Morgan Lewis is the fledgling
National Basketball League's first ever draft pick. The six-foot-four, 210-pound native from Painesville, Ohio, was chosen first by the Oshawa Power on Sunday as the seven-team league conducted its inaugural draft at the Rogers Centre's Summit Suite. Justin Garris was drafted second by Summerside, P.E.I. Jerome Brown was the first Canadian to go in the start-up league, which begins its season Oct. 29. Each club plays 36 games with the top four teams advancing to playoffs in March. Brown, a six-foot-four, 205-pounder from Toronto, was taken fifth by the Saint John Mill Rats, while Quebec selected fellow Toronto native Tristan Martin with the final choice in the first round. The NBL is the creation of Andre Levingston and Ian McCarthy, formed when three existing teams — the Halifax Rainmen, Saint John Mill Rats and Quebec Kebs — left the Premier Basketball League amid complaints of poor management. Four NBL franchises have since been formed: the London Lightning and Oshawa, plus two still-to-be-named teams in Moncton, N.B., and Summerside.

Canada Advances At Little League World Series

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
The Canadian Press

(Aug 22, 2011) WILLIAMSPORT, Pa.— Canada is moving on to the next round at the Little League World Series.  Yi-An Pan pitched five innings and added a home run Monday as the team from Langley, B.C., upset Taiwan 5-3 — the first time Canada had beaten a team from Taiwan at the tournament in 17 tries.  “Less mistakes today,” said Canadian coach Jason Andrews. “We've got two wins so far this tournament, for a Canadian team, that's the most we've had in a while.  “We are starting to get more comfortable with the crowds. The kids seem less nervous. I'm less nervous as coach.”  The victory improved Canada's record to 2-1 and earned it a spot in the next round, where it will face either Japan or Saudi Arabia on Tuesday afternoon.  Pan allowed two earned runs on nine hits over five innings of work before leading off the top of the sixth with a homer to give Canada a two-run lead.  “(Pan) is a gem to coach,” Andrews said. “I call the pitches for the team. He was hitting his spots really well today. We've been working with Yi An with getting him to drive the ball and he did a pretty good job of it today.”  Cole Cantelon recorded the final three outs to get the save.  “I was really nervous,” said Cantelon, who went to a 3-1 count on his first batter, but came back to strike him out. “Getting that out really calmed me down.”


The 5 Best Ways to Burn Fat

By Michael Stefano, eDiets Contributor

The average American gains 5 pounds a year, every year over the age of 30. Some estimate that 60 percent of our society is overweight. Of course, the best way to avoid obesity is to resist temptation and never let the unwanted calories cross your lips in the first place. But what approach can we take that will help us balance exercise and food consumption?

1. Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise has been touted for years as a key to
effective fat burn. Most experts agree — a fitness program with the main goal of achieving weight loss must include at least three weekly cardio workouts. This translates into 20 to 30 minutes (or up to 60 minutes when working at lesser intensities), of any physical activity that gets your heart to beat at a rate that’s 60 to 90 percent of its maximum.

The specific exercise isn’t as important as its effect on your heart rate (and breathing rate). Generally speaking, cardiovascular exercise involves working the major muscles of the lower body in a continuous, rhythmic fashion. Activities such as brisk walking, jogging, riding a bicycle and jumping rope all qualify as aerobic exercise and should be incorporated into your weekly
fat-burning regimen.

2. Strength Training
There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding regarding strength training, even amongst people that strength train on a regular basis. When you lift weights (or engage in any other type of strength training), you pit your body against a challenging (but controllable) level of resistance. If done right, muscles will adapt and grow stronger as they anticipate a progressively more difficult workout.

This muscle growth will take the form of a sculpted and more toned physique, and unless taken to an extreme, will usually not materialize into big and bulky muscles. But what about that layer of fat that floats over every inch of your otherwise sculpted body? An increase in lean muscle, if only slight, will result in an increased basal metabolic rate, your body’s requirement for fuel at rest.

If you consider that almost all the
burning of body fat takes place inside muscle tissue, it’s logical to assume the more muscle you have — the more fat you’ll burn just to exist. This translates into a 24-hour-a-day increase in demand for fat as fuel, and if accompanied by a steady decrease in supply, will result in major fat loss.

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3. Flexibility Training and Yoga
Many would question the connection between stretching and fat burning. Flexibility training increases the effectiveness of the rest of your fitness program in many ways. It cuts down on injury and recovery time, reducing next day soreness, getting you back in the gym sooner. Stretching improves performance, balance and speed of motion, allowing you to perform more work in less time.

Interspersing some stretching exercises into an otherwise strength training routine keeps you moving between sets, adding to the overall caloric consumption of your workout. Yoga, with its unique blend of stretching and strengthening exercises, has gained unprecedented popularity. Many fitness enthusiasts, who at one time wouldn’t be caught dead in a cat pose, now find themselves attending regular yoga classes — and looking as lean and fit as ever.

4. Sleep, Rest and Recovery
Most of us won’t resist this one, but you’d be surprised at how often lack of sleep or rest is the culprit behind a failed weight-loss program. More of a good thing isn’t necessarily better. When putting together a fitness and weight-loss plan, be sure to include
adequate recovery periods between workouts. Rest at least 48 hours between full body strength training sessions and limit cardio to no more than 3 to 6 hours a week. If over-trained, your body will break down, you’ll lose precious lean muscle mass and actually get fatter.

Do whatever it takes to ensure a good night’s sleep. Get a new mattress, install heavier blinds or go to bed earlier. During sleep, the body’s recovery processes go into high gear. Depending on activity levels and individual requirements, get 7 or 8 hours of sound, restful sleep every night.

5. Meditation and Stress Reduction
Meditation has been proven to minimize the body’s reaction to stress and alleviate many stress-related health problems. But few realize that it can actually raise your body’s levels of the anti-aging hormone, DHEA. Also available as an over-the-counter supplement, DHEA is a precursor to testosterone, which is necessary for muscle growth and fat loss. DHEA and testosterone levels decline with age, but tests conducted on people that meditate on a daily basis reveal that serum DHEA levels were restored to much more youthful levels.

In addition, stress has been found to generate dangerously high levels of the naturally occurring hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol has a major role in the regulation of blood pressure and cardiovascular function as well as regulation of the body’s use of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. When cortisol is secreted, it causes a breakdown of muscle protein, leading to the release of amino acids into the bloodstream. This process can also raise blood sugar levels.

Meditation, or any other form of
stress reduction, can balance this hormonal shift. You can use your meditative sessions to visualize how you’d like to look, or even imagine yourself engaged in activities you once enjoyed. This type of visualization technique has been found not only to relieve stress, but also to increase your odds of achieving goals you’ve set — a nice fringe benefit.

If your goal is to burn fat, take a five-pronged approach. Combine the above five methods with a sensible eating program, and you’ll be on the road to unprecedented fat loss and a health and fitness program that you’ll stay with for a lifetime.


Motivational Note

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." “My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.”

Source:  Jack Layton, 1950-