20 Carlton Street, Suite 1032, Toronto, ON  M5B 2H5
                                                                                                                                                                     (416) 677-5883
                                                                                                                                                  langfieldent@rogers.com
                                                                                                                                    www.langfieldentertainment.com

LE NEWSLETTER

January 27, 2011

Good cold January day to you.
  I hope that you all are able to dig yourselves out of this deep freeze we call winter long enough to enjoy some fun events I have the joy of bringing to you. 

Black History Month is upon us and there are two spectacular events to note in your calendars!  The
Evolution of Gospel Music brings us an array of gospel music with special guest artist Diane Clemons, wife of Mike "Pinball" Clemons, making her first appearance in the production bringing her powerful and soulful voice to the cast. See details under HOT EVENTS.

Also,
Harbourfront Centre brings us another edition of KUUMBA!  Varied artists from every walk of cultural arts focussing on Black History Month, hit the various stages of the Harbourfront Centre.  Check out the amazing line-up under HOT EVENTS.

::HOT EVENTS::

Black History Month’s Opening Act - The Evolution Of Gospel Music

(January 11, 2011) Black History Month launches with an exhilarating and inspiring stage production,
The Evolution of Gospel Music.   In collaboration with the Juno Award winning Toronto Mass Choir, The Evolution of Gospel Music stage production will have 2 evening shows and one Friday matinee at 10:30 AM to Noon for students only.

Watch short promo clip HERE.

This powerful musical journey moves audiences from the early days of Negro spirituals, through the turmoil of the ’60s, to today’s contemporary gospel music scene.  The production boasts a phenomenal cast representing some of the best Canadian actors, dancers and gospel musicians; and celebrates the music of Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland and other iconic artists.  In addition, special guest artist Diane Clemons, wife of Mike “Pinball” Clemons, will make her first appearance in the production bringing her powerful and soulful voice to the cast.

‘It‘s exciting to be able to remind audiences that gospel music is the 'grandfather' of all of the Black music that
we love today.  The voices belonging to mega stars such as Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson and Whitney Houston are all a testament to the power of this great genre’, said Karen Burke, co-founder of the Toronto Mass Choir and a York University professor.

Writer and director of The Evolution of Gospel Music, Aadin Church, (known for his roles in Miss Saigon and The Lion King), said, ‘in its 3rd year as a Black History Month event, this is a must see production for all.  It dynamically depicts a triumphant legacy of gospel music - inspiring and enlightening audiences every year.’

To meet their goal of positively impacting the local community, the production will donate a part of the proceeds to UrbanPromise Toronto, a local charity that helps children and young adults reach their potential and achieve success through after school programs and mentoring.  

About The Evolution of Gospel Music

This riveting stage production is in its 3rd year.  In 2009 and 2010 audiences of over 1,500 people were moved and energized by the power of the production that spans over a period of more than three centuries.  Audiences will enjoy two evening performances on Friday, February 4, 2011 and Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM; student groups are welcome to attend a special matinee on Friday, February 4th at 10:30 AM to Noon. 

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2011 AND SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2011
THE EVOLUTION OF GOSPEL MUSIC
Global Kingdom Ministries (theatre seating)
1250 Markham Road, Scarborough (just off 401)
7:00 PM to 10:00 PM – Doors Open at 6:00 PM
Tickets are $25.00 in advance and $30.00 at the door; group rates are available.
Visit www.evolutionofgospelmusic.com for tickets and more information or call 905.794.1139

Kuumba presented by TD - Feb. 5-6 and 12-13, 2011

Source:  www.harbourfrontcentre.com


The 15th annual
Kuumba festival presented by TD returns to Harbourfront Centre with two entertaining and educational weekends commemorating both the history and the future of black culture.

This winter, Harbourfront Centre presents programming that questions the BIG iDEA of witness. Join us Feb. 5-6 and Feb. 12-13, 2011 to witness black history through audio installations, visual arts, theatre, dance workshops, film screenings, music, comedy, family activities and more!

Kuumba is one of Toronto's longest-running and largest
Black History Month festivals. This year features two jam-packed weekends of fun that the whole family can enjoy. The first weekend explores ideas surrounding the past, present and future of the black diaspora, while the second weekend focuses on the fusion of art and history in Caribbean culture.

Kuumba” is the Swahili word for creativity and has become synonymous with showcasing the best local and international artists from the African and Caribbean diaspora. All programming is FREE (except the Ebony & Ivory Comedy Bash $15 & Beat the Street Dance Showdown $10) and runs each day from 1 p.m. into the evening.

All events take place at Harbourfront Centre located at 235 Queen’s Quay West. For more information and to purchase tickets, the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit harbourfrontcentre.com/kuumba.

KUUMBA EVENT LISTINGS:

MUSIC

James King
Feb. 5, 3-4:30 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Toronto-based James King delivers a melodic and lyrical fusion of pop, rock and neo-soul. Each member brings different skills and passions to the group, and together they create a unique mix of old school R&B with a modern pop twist.

Kuumba Unplugged featuring Natasha Waterman
Feb. 6, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Natasha Waterman began writing music at the age of 11 and recently released her first CD, Long Road. Her album is a blend of soulful songs that will have listeners grooving to her warm, sultry tones.

Pablo Terry y Sol de Cuba
Feb. 6, 5-6 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Pablo Terry's dynamic stage presence and musical dexterity comes from years of training in the Cuban Army (as a member of the Cuban Military Band) and at the renowned Escuela de Artes in Havana. Terry has played with many great Cuban artists including Celia Cruz, Compay Segundo of Buena Vista Social Club, Omara Portuondo and Los Papines.

Kuumba Unplugged featuring Carlos Morgan
Feb. 12, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Carlos Morgan, a talented singer/songwriter/producer based in Toronto, is poised to break on a global level. Feelin' Alright, his debut album, is a collection of soothing love ballads and R&B club jams with a pinch of hip hop flavour. The album showcases the diversity of Morgan’s singing style, from seductive ballads to more upbeat R&B and hip hop grooves.

Kuumba Gospel Fest 2011
Feb. 13, 2-6 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Kuumba Gospel Fest 2011 features a who’s who of local gospel music including the U of T Gospel Choir, Brian Hamilton & Divine Worship, Echoe Of Praise, Rochelle Hanson, Karen Jules, Winston Dayal and Chris Lowe.

DANCE

Jaivah Nouvel Expos
é African Dance Troupe
Feb. 5, 1:30-3 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Toronto’s Jaivah Nouvel Expos
é African Dance Troupe specializes in traditional and contemporary dance from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo, Southern Africa and Egypt. They pair original choreography with lively African music to showcase rare African dance styles.

Amadou Kienou
Feb. 6, 2-3 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Born in Burkina Faso, Amadou Kienou comes from a family of renowned praise singers. Praise singers are considered to be the only professional artists in traditional African society. Kienou’s repertoire consists of Mandingue songs and dances that he adapted for the djembe (African drum).

Cadence Dance Academy Workshop
Feb. 5, 4:30- 5:30 (Lakeside Terrace)
Cadence Dance Company offers lessons, classes and performances in salsa, cha-cha, bachata, and Afro-Cuban dance. During his demonstrations, Patrick Danquah will teach participants easy and sexy moves that look great on the dance floor!

Afro-Cuban Dance Workshop - Irina Bravo
Feb. 13, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Cuban-born Irina Bravo will teach a high-energy Afro-Cuban dance workshop for all skill levels. With a focus on the Orisha (Yoruba deities) dance style, this class teaches students the fundamentals of Afro-Cuban folkloric dance.

Beat the Street Dance Showdown
Feb. 6, 3-6 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Ticketed event $10
Witness the transformative power of dance! Watch as 18 post-secondary, high school and street dance teams from around the GTA compete for the top spot and $500!

Cirque Afro-Cuban featuring Eduardo Dorticos
Feb. 12, 4-5 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
This demo and interactive workshop is taught by Cuban Olympian and cirque performer Eduardo Dorticos. Combining dazzling acrobatics and expressive dance, Dorticos draws audiences into the awe-inspiring world of contemporary circus. With his expertise in gymnastics, contemporary dance and professional circus training he has created a daring and elegant act you don’t want to miss! 

Magia Negra Candombe
Feb. 12, 5-6 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Magia Negra Candombe is a local Afro-Uruguayan group that plays candombe music. The candombe rhythm is created with three drums also know as tambors – the tambor piano, tambor chico and tambor repique. These instruments have been an important part of Uruguayan culture since they were first introduced to the South American country through the African slave trade.

Afro-Brazilian Drum and Dance Workshop – Capeoira Camara

Feb. 12, 3:30-4:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Capoeira (Ca-po-era) is a 400 year-old Brazilian martial art that combines self defense with energetic music and acrobatics. This workshop (led by a top Capoeira master from Capeoira Camara) teaches the basic movements of the art form that exercises both the mind and body.

Hip Hop Dance Workshop - Leon Blackwood
Feb. 12, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Leon Blackwood is a self-taught dancer and choreographer who’s been featured in the blockbuster dance movies Honey and How She Move! During his workshop, he will teach a variety of basic hip hop moves and create a fun and unique dance routine.

FILM & PANEL DISCUSSIONS

Mama Africa
Feb. 5, 1:30-2:45 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Directed by Ale Braga, Mama Africa is a documentary that gives African children a voice to dispel African stereotypes and the forum to talk about issues that affect their daily lives including religion, culture, development and nutrition.

Black Mother Black Daughter followed by The Black Family…Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow panel discussion
Feb. 5, 4-6 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
The short film Black Mother Black Daughter (a part of Ontario Black History Societies Black International Film Fest) explores the lives and experiences of black women living in Nova Scotia. The film examines the contributions the women make in their homes, the church and their community. It also takes a look at the strengths they passed on to their daughters. The film is followed by The Black Family…Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow panel discussion that assesses the structure of the black family from the past, present and the future. Panellists include Dalton Higgins (music programmer, pop culture critic, author, broadcaster and journalist), Rosemary Sadler (President of the Ontario Black History Society) and more.

Inside Carnival & Kiddie Carnival
Feb. 13, 1-3:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
A selection of short films tracing the history of Trinidad & Tobago’s spectacular Kiddie Carnival from 2003 to 2010 and the larger adult Carnival from 2008 to 2010 (Courtesy of the Trinidad & Tobago Tourism).

Bravo! FACT shorts for Kuumba 2011
Feb. 6, 1-3 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Fifteen Canadian-made Bravo! FACT short films (that cover a range of subject matter and styles) will be screened to celebrate the contributions of black Canadian filmmakers.  

THEATRE

Man2Man
Feb. 12, 8- 9:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Kwame Stephen’s Man2Man follows the love story between two men as they navigate a bumpy road to love. This theatrical production challenges stereotypes while exploring how religion, family, love and sexuality play a role in the character’s lives.

COMEDY

Ebony & Ivory Comedy Bash – hosted by Kenny Robinson

Feb. 5, 8:30-11 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Ticketed event ($15)
For over 25 years, Kenny Robinson has engaged audiences with his raucous, cheeky, profane and opinionated style of comedy and social commentary. At Kuumba, he hosts the Ebony & Ivory Comedy Bash featuring a slew of local comedians.


VISUAL ARTS/EXHIBITS

Black in History Exhibit: Voices from Days of Slavery
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The Voices from Days of Slavery audio installation features the remarkable oral accounts of former slaves (on loan from the Library of Congress). There are only 26 audio-recorded interviews of ex-slaves that have ever been found. This collection captures their stories and gives listeners a chance to hear first-hand accounts about what it was like to be a slave and to gain freedom.
*Images of seven former slaves featured in this audio installation are also on display.

Black in History Exhibit: Motown Museum Digital Display
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The Motown Museum Digital Display (on loan from the Motown Museum in Detroit) traces the history of this soulful era and highlights the indelible impact Motown has had on popular culture and music.

Black in History Exhibit: Enslaved in Upper Canada

Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The Enslaved in Upper Canada photo exhibit (courtesy of Archives of Ontario) depicts the     existence and practice of slavery in Upper Canada between the years 1760 and 1834. The exhibit focuses on the lives of enslaved Africans and the actions they took to resist servitude in Upper Canada.

Black in History Exhibit:
On the Road North
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The On the Road North photo exhibit (courtesy of Citizenship and Immigration Canada) tells the story of Canada’s black communities through the lens of people, places and events recognized as nationally significant to Canada’s history. The exhibit was developed by the Parks Canada Agency in collaboration with the Multiculturalism Program of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Mas Camp Centre

Feb. 12, 12-10 p.m., Feb.13, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
Mas Camp Centre is colourful showcase of carnival costumes from the past and the present. Visitors can learn about the history of carnival and view the intricate designs of 10 flamboyant carnival costumes and headpieces.

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

Box of Crayons
Feb. 5, 2-4 p.m., Feb. 6, 1:30-3:30 p.m. (Miss Lou’s Room)
This children’s activity is based on Shane Derolf’s poem The Crayon Box that Talked. During this activity, kids will learn that when we all work together the results are much more interesting and colourful!

Mas Camp Central
Feb. 12-13, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Kids can make their own colourful and unique carnival headpiece!

Kuumba Carnival Parade
Feb. 12, 6-6:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace and site)
Families and kids can participate in a carnival parade around the Harbourfront Centre site!

DJ SKATE SATURDAY NIGHTS

Motown Mixer featuring DJ D. Brown

Feb. 5, 8 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink
The first-ever DJ Skate Saturday Nights Motown Mixer features Detroit’s DJ D. Brown. Join us for a funky skate as we celebrate Motown’s rich history and contribution to the music industry.

Soca on Ice featuring Dr. Jay de Soca Prince
Feb. 12, 8 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink
DJ Skate Saturday Nights explores hot Caribbean rhythms at the first soca party on ice! Join us as Flow 93.5 FM’s Dr. Jay de Soca Prince heats up the ice with spicy soca and calypso tunes.



ABOUT HARBOURFRONT CENTRE
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 the 10-acre site it operates in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront.

ABOUT TD - THEN & NOW series
TD salutes the contributions of members of the black community to Canada by proudly sponsoring the THEN & NOW series of cultural events. This celebration of Black History Month, showcases 12 visual arts, performance and cinematic events for the entire family. Visit the Then & NOW website for more information.

::TOP STORIES::

Self-Indulgent Lauryn Hill Set Baffles Fans

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(January 23, 2011) Dear Ms Lauryn Hill, You clearly have some regard for your fans, given the enthusiastic way you greeted them at the start of your Sound Academy concert Saturday night and the heartfelt concern you expressed when a few later grew faint in the crammed room.

But the content of the show — your first here in nine years — demonstrated arrogance and self-indulgence.

The 2,500 people who sold out the venue, along with those who have been filling small theatres to see you on this rare North American tour, qualify as diehards.

They would have to be to shell out $60 — and up to three times more from scalpers — for the erratic performer you have been since the heyday of your 1998 multi-million-selling, five-Grammy-winning The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Depending on the source, your eschewing of more movie roles and a proper sophomore album in lieu of sporadic, uneven appearances, is because of a nervous breakdown, motherhood, man troubles, religion, writers’ block or mental illness. In occasional interviews you’ve cited the challenges of fame.

Yet the tickets for your Toronto show were snapped up. And those consumers joked nervously online about ensuing reports of you keeping American audiences waiting up to four hours.

It wasn’t so bad though. After anticipating an 11 p.m. start, your midnight arrival came quickly.

And you looked great. Not great like enviably well-coiffed, in body-flattering attire, with hair tight and expertly made up as you once did; but what a relief! great — healthy, energetic, clear-eyed — given the rumours that have stalked your absence.

There was a stateliness to your garb — Arabic inspired tunic and flowing trousers with rows of necklaces and bangle-laden arms — and seriousness about the shapeless ’fro.

And given the humourlessness that has marked your few public utterances in the last decade — such as demanding to be labelled Ms in all your billing — I loved the loose, funny way you greeted crowd’s raucous welcome: flashing that brilliant smile, laughing and saying “How you been?” and “Long time no see,” as if we’d gone AWOL.

Sorry that glimpse of your jovial alter ego L Boogie, she of the cutting wit with the Fugees trio, was short-lived.

After a chaotic interpretation of Bob Marley’s “Forever Loving Jah” to “bless the stage,” I was already wary when you said, “We’re going to do some classics; some of these we have reworked a bit. What you remember you sing along with.”

A bit?

Much loved tunes like “Lost Ones,” “Ex-Factor” and “When It Hurts So Bad” were so unrecognizable it didn’t feel like I’d listened to that record at least once a week for the last 13 years.

Between the screaming guitars and new baselines, the frenetic pace of the songs and your reconstructed phrasing, the tunes melded indistinctly into one another. As you said, you wrote these songs a when you were much younger. Perhaps the meanings have changed for you, but don’t you think you could’ve let us know you’d also adopted an alternative rock outlook?

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the DJ that preceded you onstage had not amped the attendees with reggae and hip-hop instead of, say, more suitable Coldplay and Rage Against the Machine.

I get that artists should be allowed to evolve.

However, they usually do that by making new music, hopefully garnering new listeners if the old ones don’t embrace it.

That’s what Miles Davis most famously did, both literally and figuratively turning his back to the audience.

We’re too polite to boo you, like they did in Atlanta, but didn’t you notice after awhile that no one was grooving, how the cheers and applause had dwindled and that only a few camera phones were lit up? Could you see the perplexed looks?

Even ever-evolving Prince has never disrespected his fans with a nostalgia tour devoid of nostalgia.

Not that I’m accusing you of phoning it in. Though your raspy voice hits fewer high notes, there was no disputing the passion of your performance. And your exhortations to the lighting person and 11 musicians, who sometimes overpowered your vocals, demonstrated a perfectionist at work.

At a recent New York show you said, “I spent my entire 20s sacrificing my life to give you love. So when I hear people complain, I don’t know what to tell you. I personally know I’m worth the wait.”

I hope this tour is a way to prove to yourself or your record label that you can still draw a crowd; that it’s the prelude to an album of brand new songs — sonically constructed however you wish — that document those life-altering sacrifices.

Because the alternative, that this was a meaningless exercise or simple money grab, would be even more disappointing, a trick that fewer of us will fall for next time.

Signed,

Hopeful

Steelers To Face Packers In Super Bowl

Source: www.thestar.com - Barry Wilner

(January 23, 2011) PITTSBURGH—The Pittsburgh Steelers found a fitting way to shut down the New York Jets’ season.

What started with “Hard Knocks,” ended with hard knocks, too.

For the third time in six seasons, Terrible Towels will twirl at the Super Bowl. The Steelers silenced Rex Ryan’s wild bunch with a fumble return for a touchdown and a goal-line stand in a 24-19 victory for the AFC championship Sunday. They will face
Green Bay in Dallas in two weeks.

Look out Big D, here comes another Big D — in black and gold, and with an unmatched history of carrying off the Lombardi Trophy.

You can bet that unit led by James Harrison, which shut down the Jets’ comeback in the fourth quarter, will test Aaron Rodgers. That overwhelming defense set the tone for most of a frigid night at Heinz Field to end the Jets’ stunning postseason run. Ryan slammed down his headset when Antonio Brown, also a hero last week, caught a pass for a first down that allowed Pittsburgh to hang on and run out the clock.

And the Steelers (14-4) will challenge the Packers’ defence with a versatile attack led by running back Rashard Mendenhall and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers ended the Jets’ season with a dominant first half for a 24-3 edge. Mendenhall had 95 of his 121 yards and a touchdown.

Roethlisberger has moved on from a four-game suspension at the beginning of the season to take Pittsburgh to its eighth Super Bowl; the Steelers own the most titles, six. He scrambled time and again for key gains, often against shoddy tackling.

At game’s end, he kneeled on the field, his face buried in an AFC championship T-shirt.

The cocky Jets seemed to have left everything they had in New England last Sunday. There was little trash talking all week and even less fire early in their biggest game since winning the championship 42 years ago. They haven’t been back to the Super Bowl.

The Steelers are regulars, including titles for the 2005 and 2008 teams, both led by Roethlisberger and a fierce defense sparked by playmaking safety Troy Polamalu.

Polamalu, his hair pouring from under his helmet as the black-and-gold signature towels flowed throughout Heinz Field, didn’t have to do a whole lot this time. Not with the way his teammates whipped the Jets at the line of scrimmage before a spirited New York surge in the second half.

And too often, New York’s defense was like a swinging gate that Roethlisberger and Mendenhall ran through with ease.

New York (13-6) failed for the fourth time in the AFC title game since 1969, when the Jets won perhaps the most significant of all Super Bowls. It was a devastating finish, particularly after the Jets beat Peyton Manning and the Colts, then Tom Brady and the Patriots on the road to get to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers snapped New York’s hopes of making the Super Bowl a sixth-seed spectacular; the Packers are the NFC’s No. 6 seed.

Coach Mike Tomlin had his Steelers eager for the fight from the outset, while Ryan’s guys were flat until it was too late. The Jets did get a 45-yard TD pass from Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes — the hero of Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl victory two years ago — and a safety after Pittsburgh’s goal-line stand.

But the early hole was too deep.

Finally Time To Pop The Champagne - Denis Villeneuve

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(January 25, 2011) PARK CITY, UTAH—Quebec director
Denis Villeneuve insists he wasn’t prepared for his film Incendies to land a coveted slot in Oscar’s Best Foreign-Language Film category.

But he’s certainly ready to celebrate being Canada’s main flag carrier at the Feb. 27 Academy Awards.

“One word: champagne!” he told the Star Tuesday morning, minutes after he heard the good news in the former mining town where he’s attending the Sundance Film Festival.

“Last night, I didn’t drink at the (Telefilm Canada) party because I was too nervous. But tonight, I certainly will.”

It was looking good for Incendies to be one of the final five for the Oscar following last week’s qualifying round that culled the field from 65 worldwide entries to nine.

Villeneuve refused to think that his bloodline detective thriller could go all the way to a nomination, the first Oscar nod for the 43-year-old Quebecer.

“I was not prepared. I couldn’t feel comfortable this morning. I realize that it wasn’t very professional, but I did not prepare myself.

“I was so sure I wasn’t going to be in there, I was just trying to relax. I’m going to be more intelligent in a few days. I’m just feeling the adrenalin rush now.”

Villeneuve almost didn’t get to hear the news firsthand. He and his entourage had trouble finding the Oscar nominations on their hotel TV set, when they were read out from Los Angeles at 6:30 a.m. Utah time.

They had to resort to Plan B, and fast.

“We watched it on the Internet. We were not able to find the right TV station and we had a very good link to the Internet.

“When they were about to give the nominations, it felt like there was no oxygen in the room. And then when they announced it was going to be the Best Foreign-Language Film and they said ‘Canada,’ we just began to shout very loudly and to cry.

“Everybody started to cry. We didn’t believe it.”

He immediately called his wife, before the flood of congratulatory calls and texts started.

Then he broke a family rule regarding texting at school. He had to tell his kids the news, too, including a daughter who had already gone to class.

“Her cellphone is supposed to be closed when she’s at school, but I texted her there. I’m not supposed to do that, but I did.”

One of the congratulatory calls he received came from Quebec’s culture minister, Christine St-Pierre.

Villeneuve has been making films since his 20s, including last year’s big Genies winner, Polytechnique. But he’s been dreaming of the Oscars since he was a kid.

“I wanted to make cinema as a kid, when I was 10 to 12 years old. I used to listen to the Academy Awards. When you are nominated, you lose all you cynicism about it and go straight back to childhood.”

Now Villeneuve has some hard slogging to do.

He didn’t do much by way of pre-nominations campaigning because it felt unseemly to do so. But now he’ll be expected to woo Oscar voters like a campaigning politician, a tough thing to do for this very shy gent.

“It’s going to be tough. February is a kind of a big empty space in my schedule right now, but I’m going to have a meeting with Michael Barker of Sony Pictures Classics, who promised me it would go this way. I didn’t believe it, but I trusted him.

“I’m going to learn from him what to do. I’m not really comfortable in interviews, but let’s just say it’s going to be a quite a ride. It’s like a game. And I’m going to do it with pleasure.”

Fitness Pioneer Jack LaLanne Dies At 96

Source: www.thestar.com - Andrew Dalton

(January 24, 2011) LOS ANGELES — Jack LaLanne was prodding Americans to get off their couches and into the gym decades before it was cool. And he was still pumping iron and pushing fruits and vegetables decades past most Americans' retirement age.

The fitness fanatic ate well and exercised — and made it his mission to make sure everyone did the same — right up to the end at age 96, friends and family said.

LaLanne died Sunday at his home in Morro Bay on California's central coast, longtime agent Rick Hersh said. The cause was respiratory failure due to pneumonia.

"I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for," Elaine LaLanne, LaLanne's wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.

Lalanne, who had heart valve surgery two years ago, maintained a youthful physique and joked in 2006 that "I can't afford to die. It would wreck my image."

"He was amazing," said 87-year-old former "Price is Right" host Bob Barker, who credited LaLanne's encouragement with helping him to start exercising often.

"He never lost enthusiasm for life and physical fitness," Barker told The Associated Press on Sunday. "I saw him in about 2007 and he still looked remarkably good. He still looked like the same enthusiastic guy that he always was."

LaLanne credited a sudden interest in fitness with transforming his life as a teen, and he worked tirelessly over the next eight decades to transform others' lives, too.

"The only way you can hurt the body is not use it," LaLanne said. "Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it's never too late."

His workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the '70s. LaLanne and his dog Happy encouraged kids to wake their mothers and drag them in front of the television set. He developed exercises that used no special equipment, just a chair and a towel.

He also founded a chain of fitness studios that bore his name and in recent years touted the value of raw fruit and vegetables as he helped market a machine called Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer.

When he turned 43 in 1957, he performed more than 1,000 push-ups in 23 minutes on the "You Asked For It" television show. At 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco — handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. Ten years later, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach harbour.

"I never think of my age, never," LaLanne said in 1990. "I could be 20 or 100. I never think about it, I'm just me. Look at Bob Hope, George Burns. They're more productive than they've ever been in their whole lives right now."

Fellow bodybuilder and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger credited LaLanne with taking exercise out of the gymnasium and into living rooms.

"He laid the groundwork for others to have exercise programs, and now it has bloomed from that black and white program into a very colourful enterprise," Schwarzenegger said in 1990.

In 1936 in his native Oakland, LaLanne opened a health studio that included weight-training for women and athletes. Those were revolutionary notions at the time, because of the theory that weight training made an athlete slow and "muscle bound" and made a woman look masculine.

"You have to understand that it was absolutely forbidden in those days for athletes to use weights," he once said. "It just wasn't done. We had athletes who used to sneak into the studio to work out.

"It was the same with women. Back then, women weren't supposed to use weights. I guess I was a pioneer," LaLanne said.

The son of poor French immigrants, he was born in 1914 and grew up to become a sugar addict, he said.

The turning point occurred one night when he heard a lecture by pioneering nutritionist Paul Bragg, who advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet.

"He got me so enthused," LaLanne said. "After the lecture I went to his dressing room and spent an hour and a half with him. He said, 'Jack, you're a walking garbage can.'"

Soon after, LaLanne constructed a makeshift gym in his back yard. "I had all these firemen and police working out there and I kind of used them as guinea pigs," he said.

He said his own daily routine usually consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the swimming pool.

"It's a lifestyle, it's something you do the rest of your life," LaLanne said. "How long are you going to keep breathing? How long do you keep eating? You just do it."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Dan and Jon, and a daughter, Yvonne.

Twilight, Airbender Lead Razzies List With 9 Nominations Each

Source: www.thestar.com - David Germain

(January 24, 2011) LOS ANGELES—Vampires, werewolves and airbenders lead the pack at the Razzies, an Academy Awards spoof that hands out prizes for the year’s worst films.

The blockbuster supernatural tale The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and the action fantasy The Last Airbender tied for the most nominations Monday with nine each, including worst picture.

Also nominated for worst picture are Jennifer Aniston’s action comedy The Bounty Hunter, Sarah Jessica Parker’s romantic romp Sex and the City 2 and the Twilight parody Vampires Suck.

Twilight star Kristen Stewart had a worst-actress nomination for her role as a teen caught in a love triangle involving her vampire boyfriend (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf pal (Taylor Lautner). Pattinson and Lautner both were nominated for worst actor.

Razzies founder John Wilson said that though Vampires Suck was a Twilight spoof, Eclipse was actually funnier to watch.

“I know people who are into Twilight who take it totally seriously and they’re very vociferous,” Wilson said. “Those of us who are not Twi-hards, we don’t get it. I don’t actually know any teenage girls who have had to make the choice between a werewolf and a vampire.”

The Last Airbender was adapted from the animated TV series about a young hero with the power to reunite feuding nations of people who can control air, water, fire and earth. Last Airbender filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan received Razzie nominations for worst director and screenplay.

“All of this gobbledygook language about airbenders and fire benders and water benders,” Wilson said. “You feel like you’re on a bender watching the movie. It’s completely illogical.”

The Razzies line-up was announced a day before Oscar nominations come out. Razzie winners, chosen by the group’s roughly 600 voters, will be announced Feb. 26, the night before the Oscars.

Three Oscar-winning divas are among nominees for worst supporting actress — Cher for the song-and-dance tale Burlesque, Liza Minnelli for Sex and the City 2 and Barbra Streisand for the comedy sequel Little Fockers.

Jackson Rathbone had a supporting-actor nomination for roles in both The Last Airbender and Eclipse. Dev Patel and Nicola Peltz also had supporting nominations for Last Airbender.

The entire casts of Eclipse and Last Airbender were among nominees for worst screen couple or ensemble.

Last Airbender also was chosen for worst eye-gouging misuse of 3-D, a special category to mark Hollywood’s current craze for shooting in three dimensions or converting 2-D movies to 3-D. The other 3-D nominees are Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Clash of the Titans, The Nutcracker in 3-D and Saw 3D.

Along with worst-actress contenders Stewart and Aniston, the four “gal pals” in Sex and the City 2 — Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon — shared a nomination. Also up for worst-actress are Miley Cyrus for the teen drama The Last Song and Megan Fox for the action flop Jonah Hex.

Cyrus’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, had a supporting-actor nomination for The Spy Next Door.

Joining Pattinson and Lautner in the worst-actor category are Jack Black for the fantasy comedy Gulliver’s Travels, Gerard Butler for The Bounty Hunter and Ashton Kutcher for the action comedy Killers and the romance Valentine’s Day.

:MUSIC NEWS::

Janelle Monae Honoured By Diddy And Essence

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 22, 2011) NEW YORK — ESSENCE & Sean “Diddy” Combs will salute GRAMMY®-nominated artist and mega-talent Janelle Monae at the 2nd annual ESSENCE Black Women in Music event, an invitation-only, red-carpet event taking place during 2011 GRAMMY® Week.

Hosted by ESSENCE.com Managing Editor Emil Wilbekin, Joy Bryant and Taraji P. Henson, Hollywood and the music industry will celebrate Janelle Monae on Wednesday, February 9 from 7-10PM, at Playhouse Hollywood. The evening will feature an exclusive performance by Monae, as well as special guest GRAMMY-nominated Big Boi of Outkast and music by DJ Rashida.

 “Janelle Monae is a remarkable creative force and a passionately talented young performer, who perfectly personifies ESSENCE as the ‘voice and soul’ of Black women,” said Essence.com managing editor Emil Wilbekin. “As fans around the world continue to embrace Janelle’s artistic vision, we are recognizing her tremendous influence among her peers with a salute to her contributions at the 2nd annual ESSENCE Black Women in Music event.”

“As the cornerstone of African-African culture, music is synonymous with the ESSENCE brand,” commented ESSENCE president Michelle Ebanks. “Black female musicians from Bessie Smith to Beyonce; Abbey Lincoln to Aretha Franklin have told our stories through their music. For Black women around the world — ESSENCE editorial, as well as signature ESSENCE programs such as Black Women in Music and the Essence Music Festival remain a valuable source of inspiration and a coveted platform for expression.”

ESSENCE Black Women in Music honouree Janelle Monae is profiled in the February issue of ESSENCE magazine—on newsstands now—as part of an exclusive “GRAMMY Insider” editorial package. Singer, songwriter and high funkstress, Monae burst onto the scene in 2007 releasing her first solo work, GRAMMY-nominated debut EP Metropolis, Suite I: The Chase. She followed that album with her first full-length LP, The ArchAndroid which blends the talents of executive producers Nate Wonder, Chuck Lightning, Janelle Monae and Sean “Diddy” Combs, with co-executive production by Big Boi of Outkast. The album garnered a 53rd Annual GRAMMY Award nomination this year for “Best Contemporary R&B Album” and the album’s first single, “Tightrope”, featuring Outkast’s Big Boi, is also nominated for “Best Urban/Alternative Performance” this year.

Diamond Rings, Toronto’s Shiniest New Facet

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner

(January 22, 2011) It's an icy Wednesday night and John O'Regan has spent most of it outside, his lanky basketball player's frame clad in nothing but a clingy black cocktail dress, a close-cropped, white leather jacket and impossibly high heels.

He'd cut an unusual figure on any evening, but to those who've known the Oshawa-raised musician long enough to remember when he was just another betoqued, bespectacled and fairly anonymous indie kid in a parka fronting local post-punk outfit the D'Urbervilles, the platinum-topped glamour puss in Brigitte Nielsen drag sauntering into Dundas West bar the Henhouse for its weekly “queer dance party,” the Snakepit, is a remarkable sight to behold.

Successful self-reinvention of the sort O'Regan has pulled off since unveiling his androgynous solo persona, Diamond Rings, to the world in a no-budget YouTube video clip for the tune “All Yr Songs” little more than a year ago is rare enough in the deceptively conservative realm of popular music at large. In the self-effacing, overwhelmingly heterosexual culture of indie-rock, however, it's pretty much unheard of. Downright brave, even.

Tonight's getup has been donned for the creation of another of the smartly conceived guerrilla videos that had helped elevate Diamond Rings to the status of a bubbling-under international sensation well before O'Regan got around to releasing his debut album Special Affections last October.

A shivering O'Regan has traipsed from Lake Ontario's shores in Etobicoke through the streets of Toronto's west end to the Henhouse for the high-concept clip for Special Affections' stunning comedown track “It's Not My Party.” The video, directed by sometime Lioness drummer Jeff Scheven, traces an unfortunate night out on the town for its protagonist, one that will devolve into a mock drunken brawl toward closing time and leave O'Regan staggering down Dundas with blood on his face, looking — as he puts it — “like a beat-up tranny just taking on the world.”

Not the standard stuff of indie-dom, then, but that's the point. Crafting a discernible image to set himself apart from his dowdier peers was O'Regan's ploy to get Diamond Rings' confessional electro-pop noticed almost from the get-go.

“I just felt like in Toronto right now there wasn't anyone doing that,” he says over breakfast the next day. “People who did do that, people like Peaches, all got the f--- out of here. Here it's way more self-deprecating, doing that Broken Social Scene/Arts & Crafts kind of thing. It works for them. It doesn't work for me.

“I almost felt, too, that within indie music, that whole concept of presenting a considered image within music was almost taboo. It was almost like it was a bad thing. You weren't ‘real,' you were fake or something.”

All makeup-streaked artifice aside, it's the unquestionable strength of O'Regan's one-man-band songwriting — begun with a guitar and “a couple of crappy keyboards” when he was sidelined for a summer with Crohn's disease upon moving to Toronto after finishing university two years ago — that is now propelling Diamond Rings to international notoriety.

Glowing notices have come from far and wide, from influential publications such as Pitchfork, Spin, the NME and The Village Voice, and plans are in the works to follow up Special Affections' North American launch on Montreal label Secret City with a European release in the months ahead. He's been tapped to open Swedish popster Robyn's North American tour this month, starting with a hometown gig at Sound Academy on Wednesday night. Last week's video shoot was partly financed with cash from Los Angeles style magazine Flaunt and the clothing company Diesel, which undoubtedly marks only the beginning of a long dance to come by Diamond Rings and the fashion industry. O'Regan is on his way.

He's a smart cat, an art-school graduate who interned at Art Metropole during his final year at Guelph and cites its founders, the satirical queer-activist collective General Idea, as an influence on Diamond Rings' multiplatform esthetic, along with the image-conscious likes of David Bowie, Devo and Kraftwerk.

The evolving, stylized presentation of his music nevertheless began without a great deal of pre-plotting. His roommate, local scenester and video blogger Colin Medley, was keen on doing a video for “All Yr Songs” that aped some of their favourite clips from the medium's infancy — Vanilla Ice's “Ice, Ice Baby” among them — so an acid-washed denim jacket was procured from Value Village. O'Regan's cousin, Lisa Howard, is a makeup artist and thus got invited along for the shoot. And that was about it.

“I was, like: ‘We're shooting this video. Come on over, I want you to do makeup,' ” recalls O'Regan. “That was really all we said. People are always asking me ‘How did you come up with this look, with this thing?' It wasn't some grand scheme. I got that jacket at the Bloor and Lansdowne Value Village and literally had my mom's tights and when Lisa got there, I was like: ‘Here's what I'm wearing. Put something on my face.'

“We grew up together. We're like a brother and sister, so we can in a lot of ways work really intuitively a lot of the time. We talk about it a lot more specifically and in a more focused way now than we did at the beginning . . .

“We thought, at the very least, we were going to freak our friends out. No one knew that we had done this. No one knew that I'd recorded the song. No one knew we'd made a video. It was only a couple of years ago, but not many groups were making videos then — especially not as their coming-out party.”

If that last statement is an accident, it still explains some of the attention accorded the “All Yr Songs” video.

O'Regan's embrace of a gender-bending onscreen identity immediately cued up much public discussion of his sexuality, which he admits he wasn't entirely prepared for but has learned to work with the “is he or isn't he?” aplomb of a young Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase.

“It was right away,” he says, laughing that his parents were forced to learn very quickly that “you shouldn't read YouTube comments” in the aftermath of “All Yr Songs.”

“I think, in a lot of respects, I was pretty naïve — I guess I didn't really expect that to happen. I expected that people would maybe be into it or think it was funny or think it was great, but it almost immediately became this debate or talking point. Which is fine. There's a lot of cool things that can come from talking about that.

“But what it came down to for me was trying on this identity or using Diamond Rings to engage with a different part of myself. That was a big part of it. And a lot of the songs deal with that.

“I think that, ultimately, is what makes any great artist worthy of attention . . . being able to present something, being able to really dig deep and embrace all those parts that are deep down within everyone — those scary things that most people are afraid to confront about themselves, whether it's relating to their sexuality or anything.”

Again, though, it's the music that will allow Diamond Rings to go the distance.

As Fraser Hill, director of A&R for EMI Canada — which distributes Secret City Records — and an early supporter of Diamond Rings, notes: “At the end of the day, they're just really great pop songs.” That O'Regan has the presence and the confidence to be “a trendsetter,” however, is why he's risen to prominence so quickly.

“This is pop music — not in the sense that it's disposable, but in the sense that it's popular,” says Hill. “It's a form that's not provincial, it's a form that's global, and that's what you're looking for. It's not geographical in nature. This guy is global. He'll connect just as easily with kids in Japan or France or Germany or the U.S. This guy's going to be making music that connects with people for lots of years to come.”

A major assault on North America looms, as O'Regan will follow up the Robyn tour with a lengthy road swing alongside his friends PS I Love You into the spring. That tour will be documented by Medley for a potential documentary about two joined-at-the-hip acts “on the edge of making it or breaking it.”

Diamond Rings' growing notoriety is also good news for the D'Urbervilles, who are ready to unveil a new album of their own when the timing is right.

“We'll see who's into it,” says O'Regan. “We want to do it bigger and we want to do it better. I'm excited to freak people out in reverse. ‘Whoa, this guy's just in a band now.'

“A lot of my early time in the band, I look back on it and realize that I was fighting to keep Diamond Rings either in or out depending on the show. It was this sh---y internal struggle. Now, I can compartmentalize things a lot better.”

Obituary: Antonin Kubalek, 75, Known For Elegant Playing

Source:  www.thestar.com - John Terauds

(January 22, 2011) Canadian classical pianist Antonin Kubalek died in Prague on Wednesday from complications following surgery to remove a brain tumour. He was 75.

Born in Libkovice in the northern Czech Republic, Kubalek was a graduate of the Prague Conservatory. He had begun building a career in Eastern Europe when he decided to take advantage of the Prague Spring in 1968 to immigrate to Canada.

The pianist made his recital début in his adopted hometown at University of Toronto’s Walter Hall in 1969. He would go on to become a household name in Canada, making more than two dozen recordings, two of which were nominated for Juno awards in the early 1990s.

Kubalek toured and was heard regularly on CBC Radio. He also taught, primarily at the Royal Conservatory of Music, while also attracting students at University of Toronto and York University.

The pianist managed to do all this with only partial sight. He told a Czech interviewer how, at age 10 in 1945, he had gone to investigate a pile of bazookas that the retreating German army had left behind. One of them went off, severely injuring the boy.

Kubalek’s first piano lessons were with a blind teacher, who taught him how to overcome the handicap.

In recent years, Kubalek had restored his ties with the Czech Republic. He visited regularly, establishing the Antonin Kubalek International Piano Courses in Zlate Hory seven years ago.

With Kubalek at his death were his second wife, Patricia, as well as their daughter, Karolina, who is pursuing piano studies in Prague.

Brian Levine, co-founder of the Dorian music label, which recorded Kubalek’s Juno-nominated discs, described the pianist as one of the finest interpreters of the late-Romantic music of Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms he has ever encountered.

Levine pointed out that Glenn Gould was one of Kubalek’s most enthusiastic early supporters, going so far as to produce an album of the Czech pianist. “This was the only time Gould ever did this for another pianist,” Levine added.

When pianist James Anagnoson, now dean of the Glenn Gould Professional School at the Royal Conservatory, arrived in Toronto in 1976. Kubalek quickly became a friend and mentor.

“Like a lot of people in Toronto, I’m really shaken up and saddened by his death,” said Anagnoson. “He was such a warm-hearted individual, and boy was he funny. But, most importantly, there was humility about him.”

Kubalek was one of the first musicians to sign up with Toronto artist manager Andrew Kwan. Kwan praised the beauty of Kubalek’s playing, saying, “His performances, broadcasts and recordings enriched the musical identity of this country.”

In reviewing a 1997 solo recital, the Star’s Peter Goddard pointed to the parallels between Kubalek’s humility and playing style:

“In writing about Johannes Brahms for his 1991, all-Brahms collection for Dorian Recordings, Antonin Kubalek makes the case for the ‘serious, sober-minded artist who insisted on restrained expression.’

“Holding a mirror up to his own nature, the Czech-born, University of Toronto-based pianist could just as well have been describing his own approach to Tuesday night’s Music Toronto concert at the Jane Mallet Theatre.”

Besides the elegant interpretations of the classical canon, Kubalek also had an affinity for the music of his homeland – especially by composers Antonin Dvorak, Josef Suk, Bedrich Smetana and Leos Janacek.

The pianist commissioned dozens of new pieces from Canadian composers, including Torontonians Ka Nin Chan and Walter Buczynski, and Kingston resident Marjan Mozetich.

Kubalek was also a busy collaborator, performing and recording chamber music and accompanying singers such as soprano Roxolana Roslak, who said she had “great admiration for him as a collaborator.”

There was no word at press time on a memorial service. Anagnoson believes it is “very likely” that something musical will be organized in the spring.

The Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra is dedicating a Jan. 25 concert at George Weston Recital Hall to Kubalek.

Russell Simmons: The ‘Super Rich’ Interview with Kam Williams

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Kam Williams

(January 22, 2011) *Russell Wendell Simmons was born in Queens, New York on October 4, 1957, the middle of three sons to bless the marriage of Daniel and Evelyn Simmons, a public school administrator and NYC parks administrator, respectively. Russell and Rick Rubin co-founded Def Jam Records, the legendary hip-hop label, in 1984.

Russell parlayed his success in music into several fashion lines, most notably, Phat Farm and Baby Phat. Meanwhile, as Chairman and CEO of his umbrella organization, Rush Communications, he also ran an ad agency, produced movies and TV shows, and published a magazine.

Forbes Magazine recently named Simmons one of “Hollywood’s Most Influential Celebrities.” And USA Today dubbed him one of the “Top 25 Most Influential People of the Past 25 Years,” calling him a “hip-hop pioneer” for his groundbreaking vision that has influenced music, fashion, jewellery, finance, television and film, as well as the face of modern philanthropy.

From creating his seminal Def Jam Recordings to writing his New York Times best-seller “Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success,” Russell is recognized globally for his influence and entrepreneurial approach to both business and philanthropy. Since giving back is of primary importance to him in all aspects of life, he has consistently leveraged his influence in the recording industry, fashion, television, financial services, and jewellery sectors to advance the interests of a host of charitable causes.  

A devoted yogi, Russell also leads the non-profit division of his empire, Rush Community Affairs, and its ongoing commitment to empowering at-risk youth through education, the arts, and social engagement. Furthermore, he serves as UN Goodwill Ambassador for The Permanent Memorial to Honor the Victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Here, he talks about his new book, “Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All,” a how-to tome which champions meditation over materialism as the path to true wealth.

Kam Williams: Hey Russell, thanks for the time. I don’t know if you remember me, but we met at that party you threw for Soledad O’Brien. I came over and told you I’d been trying to interview you for years. Thanks for finally hooking me up.   

Russell Simmons: My man! Of course I remember you. I felt bad. How was that possible?    

KW: A lot of publicists have never heard of me.  

RS: Well, it’s great to talk to you. What’s going on, baby?

KW: I didn’t get to tell you that I grew up in the same neck of the woods, in St. Albans, which is right next to Hollis.

RS: Yeah, same thing.

KW: What gave you the idea to write the book?

RS:  Well, the last time I wrote a book (Do You!), I got a chance to pull together all these teachings and frame them in such a way that I could share them with other people. But honestly, I can look back on it, and admit that my motivation was a little bit selfish, because I needed to do this for my own evolution. It was a sort of a cleansing process. I expected that I could get the stuff out of me, and frame it, so I could understand it. But I didn’t appreciate the book’s potential to touch the lives of others until Oprah praised it. She was my first interview after it came out, and made it go to the top of the best-seller list. After that, people would come up to me and say that the book changed their lives. What could be more gratifying? So, that inspired me to write this book, with a little more selfless intention. This book is about remembering to remember, and the mantra to be a good giver. Good givers are great getters, and I just wanted to share that with people in a way that they could really digest it.    

KW: I told my readers I was going to be speaking with you and they sent in plenty of questions. The first is from Attorney Bernadette Beekman, who gives you a big shout out as a girl from Hollis! She says: many people are so busy working they do not have time to breathe deeply or be present on a daily basis. In fact, I was speaking to a friend who is a yoga teacher-in-training yesterday and she said quite often, when she is at her full-time job at a non-profit, she realizes that a whole day has gone by without her having breathed deeply. Russell, how, from a practical perspective, can people with worries and everyday jobs still seek a higher path?

For the full story, go here.

Wyclef to Sing for Haitian Journalists

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 22, 2011) *Although Wyclef Jean didn’t make the cut for president in Haiti, he is still hard at work in showing the world he can make a difference in his home country. Next week he will be headlining a fundraiser to be held on Jan. 26 in Washington D.C. for journalists in Haiti.

Other performers to hit the stage include some of Haiti’s most popular artists like Konpa, Michel Martelly and Voodoo singer AZOR.

Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive is also expected to attend and even speak at the event, along with former presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat.

In addition to the fabulous performances and honoured speakers, guests will have the opportunity to indulge in a silent auction of works made by Haitian artists.

The Night of Solidarity for Haitian Journalists will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets and more information is available at www.press.org.

Need A Cure For The Winter Blahs? Party Like A Penguin At Igloofest

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(January 22, 2011) Summer concert series and sunshiny folk happenings boom annually, but there’s a cold front moving in, from Whitehorse and Prince George, B.C., clear to Halifax and Fredericton.

Coldsnap Festival, Frostbite Music Festival, Shivering Songs Festival, In the Dead of Winter, Freezing Man Festival, Winterfolk. Dark-month music gatherings in Canada, they don’t know from global warming.

Shiver my timbres, I mean to say.

Of all the winter get-togethers, though, one stands alone in the snow:
Igloofest, which frolics and plays the Eskimo way, is a rarity in that it’s held outdoors. And, really, the Montreal affair doesn’t so much stand alone as it dances, blips, bops and bloops. While the music of the other festivals lean toward eclectic folk programming held in theatres and clubs, the five-year-running Igloofest goes at it with DJ-driven electronic sounds, keeping blood warm and spirits constellation-high with elevated beats-per-minute.

“We wanted people to rediscover winter,” explains Nicolas Cournoyer, one of the four founders of Igloofest. “It
was a crazy idea at first, but people eventually jumped on board. They were happy to tame winter.”

Yearly attendance figures provided by the festival (held over three weekends in January) reveal steady and substantial growth: 4,000 attendees in 2007, 14,000 in 2008, 28,000 in 2009, and 45,000 a year ago. This year, over three nights last weekend, the winter rave drew 15,000 for its opening session alone.

As one can imagine, making music for the ski-suit set isn’t easy. The set-up at the city’s Old Port area is slow in the cold. “It’s hard,” says Cournoyer, the festival’s director of operations. “You need some mental toughness to get through it.”

Occasionally, temperatures have dropped to as low as -30, a brittle environment for the lights, speakers and other hardware draped onto the steel frames of abandoned industrial warehouses.

Conversely, warm temperatures and rain are also risks. Last year, the mild conditions melted the ice carvings and laid waste to half the igloo village. “Normally it stays cold enough, though,” says Cournoyer, expressing a preference for temperature in the zero to -10 range.

Hazards inherent with outdoor winter fests run the gamut, from performers’ frostbitten fingers to the culture shock confronting oblivious imported music acts. “Try imagining half a dozen musicians with Shaggy, who are from Jamaica, arriving at the Sun Peaks Resort in B.C.,” recalls Neil State, who directed some of MuchMusic’s popular annual Snowjob diversions back in the late 1990s. “I’m pretty sure it’s the first time they had seen snow. The record label had to go and buy them all boots and coats.”

John Showman, a fiddler who plays with alt-country outfit New Country Rehab at this year’s In the Dead of Winter in Halifax, recalls a wind-chilled nightmare at Toronto’s Winterfest: “It was cold enough that few could stand to watch us play for more than 10 minutes at a time. The ones that stayed, they looked upon us with a mixture of pity and awe.” But on the plus side? “I found out I could play the violin with gloves on.”

Igloofest’s Cournoyer likens the fans’ experience to the cold-weather camaraderie of South Pole penguins, standing in packs for warmth. “It feels awkward at first,” being outside, partying with friends,” he explains. “But there’s a solidarity. It’s so cold, everybody has to fight the elements. It’s contagious.”

Igloofest continues to Jan. 29 in the quays of the Old Port of Montreal (www.igloofest.ca

).

Record Labels Brace For Another Tough Year

Source: www.thestar.com - Mike Collett-White

(January 24, 2011) LONDON—When even Lady Gaga can’t lift the gloom, you know the music industry is in the
doldrums.

Despite a release schedule that includes the reigning queen of pop, Britney Spears, R.E.M., U2 and Coldplay, record labels are bracing themselves for another tough year.

Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI — the market leaders — struggled in 2010 as they have for a decade, hampered by online piracy, shrinking retail space and an inability to adapt to technological change.

Global recorded music sales overall slumped by 9 per cent last year, and figures out last week estimated that some 19 of 20 tracks downloaded from the Internet were illegal.

The scale of piracy and other challenges suggest that no matter which artists are competing for chart supremacy, 2011 sales are virtually guaranteed to extend their long slide.

“I don’t see any indication that record sales are going to improve, because it’s got nothing to do with the quality of the music,” said U.S. music critic Robert Christgau in a blunt assessment of the business prospects.

That does not make release schedules irrelevant, with companies still hopeful their artists will rise to the top and repay their time and investment.

Top of the pile is widely tipped to be “pop provocateur” Lady Gaga with Born This Way, due out on May 23. Not one to shy away from the hype, the singer has called it “my absolute greatest work I’ve ever done.”

Combined sales of her The Fame, The Fame Monster and a remix album have reached 15 million, a hefty figure even in pre-crisis days, and with more touring planned, Forbes predicts the 24-year-old could earn over $100 million (U.S.) this year.

“She’s just hitting her stride artistically and commercially now,” entertainment attorney Bernie Resnick told Forbes. “We’re only seeing the beginning.”

Other established solo female artists vying for attention include 29-year-old Spears, who releases a new album in March. Lead single “Hold It Against Me” has just debuted atop the U.S. singles chart with impressive sales.

Canada’s Avril Lavigne is back on March 8 with Goodbye Lullaby, and there are hopes of new material at last from Amy Winehouse, whose troubled personal life has overshadowed the success of Grammy-winning 2006 hit Back to Black.

The struggling rock genre is set to get a welcome shot in the arm in 2011 with the first album from The Strokes since 2006’s First Impressions of Earth.

The acclaimed New Yorkers’ tentatively titled Angles is due to hit stores on March 22, and, according to NME magazine’s Jamie Fullerton “it’s almost make or break time for Julian (Casablancas) and co. with album four” after so long away.

Also falling into the broad rock category are two of the biggest bands in the world — Coldplay and U2 — who both expect to release records in 2011.

Foo Fighters and R.E.M. are back, and, in Britain at least, Beady Eye, formed from the now disbanded Oasis, will generate plenty of buzz with debut album Different Gear, Still Speeding due out on Feb. 28.

As well as promoting talent, record bosses will be seeking more deals with mobile firms and music websites. Digital sales actually rose 6 per cent to $4.6 billion last year, taking their share of record label trade revenues to 29 per cent.

The labels are keen to see the launch of a Google Inc. download store in 2011 to rival Apple Inc.’s dominant iTunes, which would help them wrest some control back over pricing and draw new users to the digital market.

The record company landscape could be in for big changes over the next 12 months, with EMI facing a debt deadline with Citigroup that raises the prospect of the group’s assets being sold off.

Shares in Warner also rose nearly 30 per cent at the end of last week on news that it was looking for potential buyers.

Over The Hills And Far Away, Robert Plant Moves On

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Brad Wheeler

(January 24, 2011) For
Robert Plant, the time is now and now’s the time. The autumn moon lights his way –
he sings his song, he rambles on.

Toward the end of a robust performance at Sony Centre, the mighty rearranger and his alt-country all-stars offered a narrowed version of the dynamic Led Zeppelin classic Ramble On. For years, fans have called for a Zeppelin reunion, and yet Plant, save for a ballyhooed one-off concert in 2007, will not abide. “No, I can't be dragged a thousand times.” Once the preening, cock-of-the-walk Zeppelin front man (and then the solo artist in a Hindenburg-size shadow), Plant is now third-acting it with dignity. While others of his era are coming down from mountains, Plant is walking up, using Appalachian gospel, Celtic folk and San Francisco psychedelia as his awesome walking sticks.

His most recent albums – 2007’s bluegrass extrapolation
Raising Sand with Alison Krauss and last year’s adventurous Band of Joy – are two of the top discs of the century.

On the first of a two-night stand at a theatre he nostalgically referred to as the O’Keefe Centre – the building’s name when he strolled there in 1969 with a particularly loud quartet – the still golden-locked (but grey-bearded) vocalist and his groove-happy five-piece opened with the folk traditional
Get Along Home Cindy. “Come all the way from England,” Plant broached in a low, soft register, “to steal your pretty hand.”

We could choose to see Cindy as Americana music, the treasure trove the elastically inspired 62-year-old Plant now mines with great care.

Angel Dance, a hearty cover of a Los Lobos lullaby, was colourfully rocked with Buddy Miller’s rugged electric guitar and Darrell Scott’s twinkling-skied mandolin. Later, Richard Thompson’s House of Cards was warmed by four-part harmonies in general and sweetened in particular by the sultry-soprano singer-songwriter Patty Griffin – a go-go dancing vision in high boots and a flowered short dress.

Griffin took the high parts, allowing the casually dressed Plant – blue jeans and a dark pullover – to cruise with his well-used tenor comfortably. He opened it up a bit on old-time minor-key mountain ballad
Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down.

Though a few silly folks in the sold-out soft-seater bellowed for Zeppelin material –
Moby Dick, seriously? – the non-wailing Plant only partly accommodated. A banjoed Gallows Pole didn’t gallop as it once did, and Rock and Roll took the singer back where he came from, utilizing a retro swing that would have rocked Bill Haley’s clock.

An evening that began with riveting electrified country blues of the openers North Mississippi Allstars, ended with
And We Bid You Goodnight, a traditional, sung a cappella. Plant is enjoying himself and succeeding, bustling through the hedgerows of American music. Some bustle. Some hedgerow.

Robert Plant plays Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre, April 17.

Robert Plant and his Band of Joy

at Sony Centre

In Toronto on Saturday

Set list:

Get Along Home Cindy

Angel Dance

Monkey

Rich Woman

House of Cards

Throw Love a Line (sung by Patty Griffin)

Please Read the Letter

A Satisfied Mind (sung by Darrell Scott)

Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down

Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go (sung by Buddy Miller)

Tangerine

Twelve Gates to the City

Houses of the Holy

You Can't Buy My Love

Long Cool One

Ramble On

Gallows Pole

Encore:

Silver Rider

Rock and Roll

And We Bid You Goodnight

MUSIC TIDBITS

Justin Bieber To Perform At Grammys With Usher

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(January 20, 2011) Justin Bieber will get his turn on the Grammy stage whether he wins a trophy or not. The
16-year-old has been added to the roster of performers for the upcoming award show, where he's also nominated for best new artist and best pop vocal album. The Stratford, Ont., native will perform alongside his mentor, Usher, and The Karate Kid star Jaden Smith at the 53rd Grammys, to be held Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Other performers announced Thursday include Atlanta rapper B.o.B, pop crooner Bruno Mars, neo-soul singer Janelle Monae and country stars Lady Antebellum. Montreal rockers Arcade Fire were among a group of previously announced performers, as well as Eminem, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Eminem leads with 10 nominations going into the show, while Toronto rapper Drake has four and the Arcade Fire has three, including a nod for album of the year.

Jennifer Hudson’s New CD Due in March; Details Released

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 21, 2011) *Jennifer Hudson has announced that her second studio album, titled “I Remember Me,”
will be released on March 22. The CD’s first single, “Where You Are,” was written and produced by R. Kelly and will arrive at radio stations on Jan. 24. “I’m excited about this album because it’s almost like a renewal for me, reflected through the chapters of my life,” she said in a press release.  ”My fans have been so loyal, I feel like they have been on this journey with me and I can’t wait for them to hear the new album.” J-Hud revealed that the album’s title was inspired by a poem she wrote, which was later turned into a song by One Republic’s Ryan Tedder and is included on the record. “I’ve called it I Remember Me because of the journey I’ve been on,” she said. Other writers featured on the album include Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Ne-Yo and Stargate. Hudson’s self-titled debut has sold 826,000 copies since its release in 2008, and spawned the singles “Spotlight” and “If This Isn’t Love.”

Eric Benet Engaged to Prince’s Ex-Wife

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 21, 2011) *With Halle Berry and her ex-boyfriend in tabloid headlines this week, the Oscar winning actress’ ex-husband is making news of his own. Us magazine is reporting that Eric Benét is now engaged to Prince’s ex-wife Manuela Testolini. Benét, who was married to Berry from 2001 to 2005, proposed to his girlfriend of three years Testolini in November, according to the publication. A rep for Benét reportedly confirmed to Us: “They are engaged and very happy.”  A wedding date has yet to be set. Testolini wed Prince in 2001, but filed for divorce from the star in 2006. Berry’s 2005 divorce from Benet came in the wake of his alleged “sex addiction,” although he denies ever having such a condition.

Christina Aguilera to Belt National Anthem at Super Bowl

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 24, 2011) *Before the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl on Feb 6,
Christina Aguilera will take care of the national anthem, Fox television and the National Football League announced on Monday. “I have been performing the anthem since I was seven years old and I must say the Super Bowl is a dream come true,” the five-time Grammy award winning singer-songwriter said in a statement. “I am really excited to be part of such an iconic event.” Aguilera, who made her movie debut in December as the star of the musical “Burlesque” previously performed at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2000. The performers at this year’s halftime show will be The Black Eyed Peas.

Jimmy Fallon to Host 7th Annual Roots Jam Session

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 24, 2011) *Roots have given Jimmy Fallon a boost as the house band on his late-night TV show. And
he’s returning the favour. Fallon will host the group’s seventh annual “Roots Jam Session” on Feb. 12 in Hollywood, reports the Associated Press. The musical event, which features live performances from artists of various genres, is on the eve of the 53rd annual Grammy Awards, and the Roots is up for six awards, including best rap album for “How I Got Over.” The other five nominations come from the Philadelphia-based band’s collaborative album with John Legend, the critically acclaimed “Wake Up!” Past “Jam Session” hosts include Legend, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Dave Chappelle. Performers have yet to be announced.

Drake Goes Back to Acting

Source: www.eurweb.com


(January 24, 2011) *Drake hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings in acting. So the all-star rapper is returning to the screen and will be starting in an upcoming thriller “Arbitrage” alongside veteran Al Pacino.  The storyline is about a powerful executive who attempts to sell a company before he is found guilty of fraud. Sounds like a good one.  The film is slated for release next year.  Actor turned Young Money rapper played a starring role on Canadian TV the in teen series “Degrassi: The Next Generation” before being discovered for his most passionate gift.

:FILM NEWS::

12 Oscar Noms For ‘King’s Speech;’ Quebec Film Draws Foreign Nod

Source: www.thestar.com

(January 25, 2011) BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.—"The King's Speech," a British drama detailing the efforts of wartime monarch King George VI to overcome a fierce stammer, led the
Oscar field Tuesday with 12 nominations.

"True Grit," a Western remake about a young girl's brave quest to track down her father's killer, followed with 10 nominations.

The sci-fi thriller "Inception" and the Facebook drama "The Social Network" received eight nominations each.

All four will vie for the coveted best picture Oscar, alongside "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "The Kids Are All Right," "127 Hours," "Toy Story 3" and "Winter's Bone."

Additionally, directing nominations went to "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "The King's Speech," "The Social Network" and "True Grit."

"Incendies," from Quebec director Denis Villeneuve, landed an Oscar nomination for best foreign film.

"Incendies" follows twins as they uncover their mother's horrific war-ravaged past.

It's up against four other films, including Greece's "Dogtooth," Denmark's "In a Better World" and Algeria's "Outside the Law."

The feature was named best Canadian film by Toronto and Vancouver film critics and has collected several awards on the festival circuit.

Villeneuve's previous films include "Polytechnique," about the Montreal massacre, and the whimsical "Maelstrom."

The last time Canada was nominated for a foreign-language film Oscar was in 2007 for Deepa Mehta's "Water."

The last time a Canadian film won the category was in 2004 for Denys Arcand's "The Barbarian Invasions."

Many have called Villeneuve the heir apparent to Arcand.

Meanwhile, there was little surprise among the leading contenders. "The Social Network" has dominated various awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars, including the Critics Choice and Golden Globe awards.

But the drama hit a major road block last Saturday when "The King's Speech" was the surprise winner of the top award at the Producers Guild Awards, an event that has been in sync with the Academy Awards 70 per cent of the time.

Winners of the 83rd annual Academy Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Hollywood on Feb. 27.

Here is the complete list of 83rd Annual Academy Award nominations announced Tuesday:

1. Best Picture: “Black Swan,” ''The Fighter,” ''Inception,” ''The Kids Are All Right,” ''The King's Speech,” ''127 Hours,” ''The Social Network,” ''Toy Story 3,” ''True Grit,” ''Winter's Bone.”

2. Actor: Javier Bardem, “Biutiful”; Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”; Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”; Colin Firth, “The King's Speech”; James Franco, “127 Hours.”

3. Actress: Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”; Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”; Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter's Bone”; Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”; Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine.”

4. Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”; John Hawkes, “Winter's Bone”; Jeremy Renner, “The Town”; Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”; Geoffrey Rush, “The King's Speech.”

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, “The Fighter”; Helena Bonham Carter, “The King's Speech”; Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”; Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”; Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom.”

6. Directing: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”; David O. Russell, “The Fighter”; Tom Hooper, “The King's Speech”; David Fincher, “The Social Network”; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “True Grit.”

7. Foreign Language Film: “Biutiful,” Mexico; “Dogtooth,” Greece; “In a Better World,” Denmark; “Incendies,” Canada; “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi),” Algeria.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, “127 Hours”; Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”; Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, “Toy Story 3”; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “True Grit”; Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, “Winter's Bone.”

9. Original Screenplay: Mike Leigh, “Another Year”; Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington, “The Fighter”; Christopher Nolan, “Inception”; Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, “The Kids Are All Right”; David Seidler, “The King's Speech.”

10. Animated Feature Film: “How to Train Your Dragon,” ''The Illusionist,” ''Toy Story 3.”

11. Art Direction: “Alice in Wonderland,” ''Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” ''Inception,” ''The King's Speech,” ''True Grit.”

12. Cinematography: “Black Swan,” ''Inception,” ''The King's Speech,” ''The Social Network,” ''True Grit.”

13. Sound Mixing: “Inception,” ''The King's Speech,” ''Salt,” ''The Social Network,” ''True Grit.”

14. Sound Editing: “Inception,” ''Toy Story 3,” ''Tron: Legacy,” ''True Grit,” ''Unstoppable.”

15. Original Score: “How to Train Your Dragon,” John Powell; “Inception,” Hans Zimmer; “The King's Speech,” Alexandre Desplat; “127 Hours,” A.R. Rahman; “The Social Network,” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

16. Original Song: “Coming Home” from “Country Strong,” Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey; “I See the Light” from “Tangled,” Alan Menken and Glenn Slater; “If I Rise” from “127 Hours,” A.R. Rahman, Dido and Rollo Armstrong; “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3,” Randy Newman.

17. Costume: “Alice in Wonderland,” ''I Am Love,” ''The King's Speech,” ''The Tempest,” ''True Grit.”

18. Documentary Feature: “Exit through the Gift Shop,” ''Gasland,” ''Inside Job,” ''Restrepo,” ''Waste Land.”

19. Documentary (short subject): “Killing in the Name,” ''Poster Girl,” ''Strangers No More,” ''Sun Come Up,” ''The Warriors of Qiugang.”

20. Film Editing: “Black Swan,” ''The Fighter,” ''The King's Speech,” ''127 Hours,” ''The Social Network.”

21. Makeup: “Barney's Version,” ''The Way Back,” ''The Wolfman.”

22. Animated Short Film: “Day and Night,” ''The Gruffalo,” ''Let's Pollute,” ''The Lost Thing,” ''Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary).”

23. Live Action Short Film: “The Confession,” ''The Crush,” ''God of Love,” ''Na Wewe,” ''Wish 143.”

24. Visual Effects: “Alice in Wonderland,” ''Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” ''Hereafter,” ''Inception,” ''Iron Man 2.”

Montreal Makeup Artist Avoids Oscar Shutout For Barney’s Version

Source: www.thestar.com - Martin Knelman

(January 25, 2011) LOS ANGELES - Scanning the list of Oscar nominations announced Tuesday, a lot of people
may be scratching their heads and asking, “Adrien Who?”

But in the select circle of members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who belong to the makeup division and choose the three nominees, Adrien Morot was already a name on everyone’s lips for his sensational work seamlessly and gradually aging Paul Giamatti by 40 years in Barney’s Version.

“I had a good feeling because of the great reception I got from the Hollywood makeup community after I did my presentation earlier this month,” explains Morot, who works out of Montreal, his hometown, one of the principal locations for the Barney shoot.

On Tuesday morning before dawn in L.A., it came as a disappointment to the Barney team that there were no acting nominations and that the movie itself was not one of the 10 nominees for Best Picture of the Year.

But thanks to Morot, Barney did at least get onto the Oscar scoreboard.

That’s cause for jubilation according to Giamatti, who says: “I am positively ecstatic about Adrien’s nomination. He is an amazing artist: collaborative, inventive and an even more amazing human being. It is such a vital relationship between actor and makeup artist. . . . Spending so much fun time with Adrien was one of my favourite experiences.. . . There is no one better at what he does.”

The turning point leading toward yesterday’s good news took place weeks earlier at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills. Each of the seven candidates on a short list of potential nominees — competing for three slots — showed film excerpts showcasing their work.

After that, Morot got many calls and messages telling him his fellow makeup artists were stunned and excited by what they saw of Barney’s Version.

Morot told the Star: “I’m really thrilled because we were up against some very big movies like True Grit. One of the other nominees, Rick Baker, is a hero of mine. With that kind of competition, people may be wondering why there is some unknown dork from Montreal on the list.”

At 40, Morot has an impressive list of credits, including many horror films, Night at the Museum and a couple of Hollywood productions that have not yet been released.

He was still at home in downtown Montreal, having just sent his son off to school, when the news came through. While looking for nomination news on the Internet, he suddenly realized he had received 100 emails within a few minutes — all congratulating him.

“It was my co-producer, Lyse Lafontaine, who brought Adrien to us,” producer Robert Lantos says. “We looked at some samples of his previous work and his genius just blew us away.”

Richard J. Lewis, the L.A.-based Canadian who directed the movie version of Mordecai Richler’s final novel, explains: “From the moment we decided not to use two actors to portray Barney, makeup became a crucial issue. There was a lot of trial and error involved. I really put him through the wringer. And in the end, Adrien’s esthetic carried the day.”

Still, Lewis confesses he is disappointed Barney didn’t get more nominations, including one for Best Picture.

“Lantos worked his butt off, but the picture didn’t get as much of a push as it needed,” Lewis says.

He isn’t blaming anyone, but clearly Barney’s U.S. distributor, Sony Pictures Classics, didn’t spend enough money on advertising to net major nominations. Playing on only a couple of L.A. screens, Barney remained largely unseen by most academy members.

Giamatti’s win at the Golden Globes could well have translated into an Oscar nomination, except for the fact that the deadline for balloting on academy nominations came two days before the Globes were handed out.

Ellen Page Plays The Lying Down Game

Source: www.thestar.com - Jenni Dunning

(January 24, 2011) She lies face-down across cement steps stained with chewing gum and wet with snow.


It doesn’t matter to Halifax-born actress Ellen Page where she lies down – the odder the spot, the better.

That’s the idea behind the Lying Down Game, originated by a couple of guys on the Internet who decided to take pictures of themselves lying rigid and face-down in strange places.

Their website has quickly gained a strong following, with people submitting their own wacky photos – to them and on Facebook – from around the world.

There’s no stopping the horizontal enthusiasts – a simple search online shows people lying down on top of horses, jet engines, bridges, in trees, and Canada Post mailboxes.

The 23-year-old Page, who posted the photos on her Facebook page, credits the website for the idea behind her own versions.

She and a friend take turns lying face-down on New York City streets – across empty, abandoned shopping carts, balancing atop giant construction cones, and even in a pile of garbage.

Although the game is meant just for laughs, it has gotten several people in trouble for doing it while at work.

In 2009, a group of doctors and nurses were suspended after taking part in the game during night shifts at Great Western Hospital in the U.K.

They reportedly posed lying down for photos, which were posted online and later removed, on resuscitation tables, ward floods and the hospital’s helicopter landing pad.

Tupac Biopic to Shoot in Spring; Director Looking for Fresh Faces

Source: www.eurweb.com


(January 21, 2011) *We’ve all been waiting for the
Tupac story to come out, but it looks like it might be getting put off a little longer than expected.

It was announced last summer director
Antoine Fuqua will be shooting Tupac’s biopic in September. However, the shooting won’t begin until April. But in the meantime, some changes have been made to the whole shebang.

Former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur, and childhood friend Jada Pinkett Smith are expected characters to appear in the film, which will re-enact Tupac’s upbringing from his early years at the Baltimore School of the Arts to his rise in fame on the West Coast.

The true character of Knight, according to the director’s perspective, will be conveyed in the film, as the paternal figure yet fearsome authority. Jada, who went to school with Pac in Baltimore, will be an important figure in the story who brings out redemption in the beginning of his transformation stages as a teen.

No casting announcements have been made yet, but the director is looking for new talent.

“That’s the goal, I want to discover someone new,” Fuqua said. “I want to discover a lot of new people, if I can. Obviously I’m going to have to put some people in it that you know, just because actors have different skills. I want to go to the streets and find him anyWillow
Smith to Star in ‘Annie’ Production

Source: www.eurweb.com


(January 20, 2011) *Although
Willow Smith is a small girl and is just getting her feet wet as she begins to
emerge in the industry, her daddy is determined to bring her to a whole new level.

With a little help from Jay-Z, Will Smith will be working hard to alter the very classic and classy play, “Annie.”

It hasn’t been set yet. The family is currently taking the project into consideration, while chances are, if the film is taken on, Smith and Jay-Z will be co-producers, according to Variety. This won’t be the first time the family has worked with the rap mogul. The Smith couple worked very closely with Jay-Z in the musical production, “Fela!”

The Smith family looks to be bound for nothing but success as the multi-talented clan is consistently growing and becoming better at their craft. Young Jaden has made a bit of an impact in the film industry with his remake of “The Karate Kid.” The film made more than $350 million worldwide. where he might be in the world.”

Spike Lee Still Waiting For Watershed Moment In Hollywood's Racial Landscape

Source: www.680news.com - Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

(January 20, 2011) TORONTO - Director
Spike Lee says he's still waiting for Hollywood to open up to black
filmmakers in a meaningful way.

Days before the Academy Award nominations are to be announced, the outspoken director says not much has changed since the historical 2002 Oscar wins of Denzel Washington and Halle Berry.

That ceremony marked the first time both the best actor and best actress Oscars went to African-American actors. That same year, Sidney Poitier was given a lifetime achievement award.

Lee says the high-profile wins had observers declaring "a new dawn" in Hollywood's racial landscape, but adds that nothing has changed since then.

The director, whose films include "Malcolm X" and "Do the Right Thing," says it will take more than an award to change the movie business.

Lee heads to Toronto next week to take part in the Canadian Film Centre's celebrations to mark Black History Month. He'll be discussing the use of music in his films with Toronto-based director Clement Virgo.

At last year's event, Virgo discussed race issues with acclaimed filmmaker Norman Jewison and director Lee Daniels, who was riding high on an Oscar nomination for helming the film "Precious."

The nod made Daniels only the second black filmmaker to be nominated for best director in the history of the Academy Awards. The first was John Singleton, who was nominated in 1992 for "Boys N the Hood."

"That was not a watershed moment," Lee said Thursday of Daniels' success (the best-directing Oscar ultimately went to Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker").

"I remember a couple years ago, when three or four black people won — Halle won an Academy Award, Denzel won and Sidney Poitier won a career achievement award and people were saying, like, 'Oh, this is a new dawn.

"Nothing happened, you know. People looking at superficial things trying to think there's great movement that happened. And it hasn't happened."

Despite critical acclaim for his work, Lee has never been nominated for best directing Oscar — only in the screenwriting and documentary categories.

The Academy Award nominations come out Tuesday — the same day Lee is due to speak in the city. Leading contenders this year include "The Social Network," "The King's Speech" and "Black Swan." There are no obvious African-American frontrunners.

Speaking from a Minneapolis airport as he waited for a flight to St. Louis, Lee said technology has opened the door to marginalized voices by allowing more independent films to be made, but that too has had little impact in expanding attitudes.

"Independent filmmakers don't have a place in theatres, per se, to show their work outside festivals. So it's half empty, half full," he said.

Hollywood's Newest Olsen Makes Sundance Debut

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Alicia Rancilio, The Associated Press

(January 23, 2011) Park City, Utah — The younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen is breaking into showbiz with two buzzed-about films at the Sundance Film Festival.

Elizabeth Olsen, 21, stars in Silent House, directed by the filmmakers who made the 2004 indy hit Open Water. When it debuted at Sundance, it was sold to Lionsgate for more than $2-million (U.S.).

Based on a film from Uruguay called La Casa Muda, Silent House is one continuous take as Olsen's character begins to suspect her summer house may be haunted. Olsen compares shooting the film to theatre, which she started doing as a child.

“When I was auditioning, I was like, ‘Just so you know I'm used to the medium of theatre, so like I can stand on my feet for this long,” she laughs.

Olsen's other film at Sundance is Martha Macy May Marlene, where she plays a young women trying to readjust to life after escaping from a cult.

“It's hard for independent films they want to get money,” said Olsen. “And to have a lead be an unknown — it's kind of a risk for people to take — and so the fact that they took that risk was like made my year, my life, I don't know! It was really exciting.”

The actress may be enthusiastic about her career but turns serious when it comes to the idea of being a tabloid target like her big sisters, chased constantly by paparazzi.

“When I would go shopping with my sisters when I was younger, it would be dangerous. People would almost get us into car accidents. I just think it's crazy in general but I want to be an actor — and I have since I was a little girl — and if that happens, then you figure out how to deal with it where it doesn't completely infringe upon your life,” said Olsen. “I haven't experienced that personally yet. Hopefully I don't have to but I think it's a really weird part of this business.”

Ivan Reitman Tries A Rom-Com

Source:  www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(January 21, 2011) LOS ANGELES—Ivan Reitman has firmly established himself as one of the best
commanders of comedies with Stripes, Ghostbusters and Dave.

That doesn’t mean he didn’t feel a little jealous when he looked at the movies his son, Jason Reitman, was directing: Juno, Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air. There was something about how the younger Reitman was able to focus on relationships without a lot of trappings that got the senior Reitman thinking.

“I’d never made a romantic comedy, although I have touched on romance in several of my movies. There is some romance in Dave, but that was more about politics. And Six Days Seven Nights was more of an action movie. I realized that I have been putting together two different genres in all of my films,” Reitman says.

When the script for No Strings Attached came across his desk, Reitman knew it was the right vehicle to try his hand at directing a pure romantic comedy.

He quickly familiarized himself with the trappings of the genre and quickly realized he was in for a challenge.

“Romantic comedies are hard because I think there’s lots of them and they’re by nature historically predictable — they have to get together at the end,” Reitman says. “Part of the problem is that audiences have seen so many bad romantic comedies in the last decade or so that there’s a natural cynicism towards that form. They are not easy to get made.”

Reitman decided to give the traditional romantic comedy a few new twists to make No Strings Attached as unpredictable as possible. He starts the movie with the couple having sex, as opposed to ending that way. Then he switched up the characters.

Natalie Portman plays what normally is the male role in romantic comedies — the person in the relationship who finds it impossible to commit.

Reitman knew three years ago when he started working on the project that he needed an actress like Portman if his plan was to work.

“People didn’t know how funny she could be but I had an instinct about her,” Reitman says. “I had met her on some personal basis several times and she was so charming and funny. I wondered why we had never seen that in a movie.

“She so sympathetic by nature, I knew she could walk this very thin line for the character.”

Reitman picked
Ashton Kutcher because he could handle the comedy and the more tender moments.

Their casting was critical. The director says the only way a romantic comedy works is that the audience believes no matter the odds, these two people will eventually fall in love.

Now that Reitman’s gone out of his comfort zone to direct a romantic comedy, he’ll return to more familiar fare for his next job.

“We finally have a good script for Ghostbusters III. Now all I have to do is get Bill Murray to read it,” Reitman says.

Righteous Hobo Takes Aim For Canada

Source:  www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(January 22, 2011) Halifax director Jason Eisener expressed one fond wish prior to the Friday midnight world
premiere at Sundance 2011 of Hobo with a Shotgun, the film that could forever erase Canada's Goody Two-Shoes image.

He wanted to hear beer bottles rolling along the floor of the Library Theatre during the screening. Just to make his hoser heart feel right at home, eh?

It's hard to say whether he got his wish. The sold-out crowd was cheering too loudly for badass
Rutger Hauer's flinty title tramp, as he shot up perverts, pimps, corrupt police and other evil palookas residing in Scum Town, alias Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

The movie was introduced by Sundance programmer Trevor Groth as “the moment you've been waiting for your entire life . . . It's got everything you could ever dream of in a midnight movie, plus Rutger Hauer.”

Brought to you by the upstanding Canucks behind Alliance Films, Rhombus Media, Telefilm Canada and Film Nova Scotia, Hobo with a Shotgun takes on genre filmmaking with a vengeance. It's unlike almost any Canadian film you've ever seen, or at least one getting a mainstream push like this.

It offers the cathartic release of one righteous (and ripe-smelling) man delivering street justice to a town without pity, and also no maple syrup. The liquid that flows through Scum Town is bright crimson, and there are buckets of it. Eisener lights the burgh up with the most garish of colours.

The Hobo rides the rails into town, like Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name, and he has but one singular obsession. He wants to buy himself a lawnmower, which must have the same emotional buzz to him as Orson Welles' sled Rosebud in Citizen Kane. Maybe he can start his own gardening business, and he already has a slogan: “You grow it, we cut it.”

He's reduced to chewing on shattered glass for a sneering maker of “bumfight” videos to earn the $50 he'll need to buy a used mower from a pawnshop. But Hobo can't turn his bloodshot eyes away from what's going on all around him.

A sadistic capitalist named Drake (Brian Downey), who looks like Jean Chrétien's evil brother, and his stooge sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman) are terrorizing Scum Town in ways too terrible to describe.

But I will anyway. Drake and his sons amuse themselves by beheading people in the street, using rope, cars and a manhole cover for slicing. They also take a flame thrower to a school bus full of kids.

The only man standing in their way is Hobo, who decides that a shotgun is more efficient than a lawnmower in cutting things down to size. The lawns will have to wait.

As Hobo blast his way through the filthy streets, the local paper celebrates his vigilante acts: “Hobo Stops Begging, Demands Change.”

The townsfolk cheer, except for Abby (Molly Dunsworth), a hooker with a heart of melted loonies. She's fond of Hobo, and wants him to quit his violent ways.

“You can't solve all the world's problems with a shotgun!” she cries.

“It's all I know!” Hobo replies.

To describe Hobo with a Shotgun as being over the top would be like calling a beaver furry.

(And speaking of our national rodent, the Sundance premiere was preceded by The Legend of Beaver Dam, the musical horror short by Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion that was at hit at TIFF 2010, and now here, too.)

But it's is a midnight movie, dammit, and that has to stand for something in this crazy ol' world.

It certainly means a lot to director Eisener, producer John Cotterill and screenwriter John Davies, who told a post-screening Q&A that Hobo with a Shotgun fulfils the dreams of their Halifax childhoods that wonderfully wasted by watching such splatter classics as Dead End Drive-In, Rolling Thunder and Death Wish.

They share that fascination with their American counterparts Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, whose 2007 double feature Grindhouse included fake trailers for fake movies, which are now becoming real movies. Machete was one of them, and now Hobo with a Shotgun.

Eisener also directed the Hobo trailer for Grindhouse, with a different cast and a reported budget of $150 in pizza money. He won the chance to be part of Grindhouse in a contest.

It was another lifetime ambition fulfilled to have Rutger Hauer — known from Blade Runner, The Hitcher, Batman Begins and Sin City — as the star of the feature.

The Netherlands-born Hauer, who turns 66 this weekend, told the Library audience he wasn't so thrilled by the idea, when he first heard of Hobo With a Shotgun.

“My agent sent me a script and he said, 'You don't have to read it. They have no money.' ”

But he read it anyway, the Hobo gang came up with a little cash — good thing the loonie is at part with the Yankee buck — and Hauer got caught up in their enthusiasm.

He marvelled at how Hobo has gone from high-concept punchline in a trashy flick into being a movie with serious worldwide distribution plans. It's due in Toronto theatres in April.

“We're in Sundance! This is ridiculous!” Hauer said.

“And they have a distribution deal. This wasn't part of the plan!”

He told the audience he loved being part of the Sundance craziness: “I feel every inch of you!”

The only problem now is explaining to Eisener's mom what Hobo is all about.

Besides hoping for the sound of rolling beer bottles during the screening, he was also fearful of what his good Catholic mother might think of a shotgun-toting tramp, bare-breasted hookers and a school bus full of toasted tots.

Mama Eisener was apparently in the audience.

“My mom has not seen the film yet,” Eisener said.

“Mom, please hold off on scolding me until after the screening!”

DUELLING DOGMAS AT RED STATE: Another genre film catching heat at Sundance is Kevin Smith's Red State, a horror flick about right-wing religious psychos starring John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Kevin Pollak.

It premieres Sunday at the Eccles Theatre, the main Sundance venue, and word is the screening will be preceding by duelling demonstrations.

A crowd of real religious zealots will strut their stuff, but filmmaker Smith will attempt to shout them down with a counter demonstration by a group he calls The Harvey Boys.

This could get interesting. Stay tuned.

Color Purple Alum Rae Dawn Chong on Film’s Legacy

Source: www.eurweb.com - by Ricardo Hazell

(January 24, 2011) *If you’re like me then you remember every single line from the film “The Color Purple.” Who could forget such lines as “Whatcha doin’ up there? It’s gonna rain on yo’ head” and Mister’s response to whether or not Celie had gotten any mail: “Could be, could be not. Who’s to say?”

Every generation has a signature black film that helps shape the psyche of those that were lucky enough to view it. For many of us “The Color Purple” was such a film. For those that don’t know, it is based upon the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alice Walker and was directed by Stephen Spielberg.

“The Color Purple” tells the story of Celie and spans 40 years of her life, focusing on her sometimes depressing circumstances. It is one of the most recognizable, critically acclaimed films based on black characters ever. On January 25 “The Color Purple” will be released on Blu-Ray.

EURweb.com had the privilege of discussing the film, the state of race relations in Hollywood and her misconceptions regarding the future of race relations in films with one of stars of “The Color Purple.” We’re talking about none other than
Rae Dawn Chong, better known as Squeak in the film.

“It was difficult. I had a lot of reads that I had to do,” Chong told our Lee Bailey when asked how she ended up in the role. “Even though I was starring in a lot of stuff at the time I had to fight for it. It was intense. It was worth it. I’m glad to I got the part.”

And we’re glad Chong got the part as well. She played the mistress of Harpo, Mister Albert’s son and owner of the speakeasy. Rae Dawn tells EURweb.com what she thinks of the film’s historical significance.

“I think that it’s an important film and I think that it’s important historically because we also birthed a big, big
icon,” she explained. “It was one of the first big roles for Oprah Winfrey. It was also an opportunity for Whoopi Goldberg. A lot of people came out of that movie. It’s nice to be reminded that ‘The Color Purple’ was something big. Remember, at the time, it wasn’t necessarily as embraced by the community as it is today.”

(Scroll down to watch the classic juke joint scene where Rae Dawn Chong’s Squeak character gets KO’d by Sophia, played by Oprah Winfrey.)

On the positive side, “The Color Purple” painted a picture of a time and place that shaped our ancestors. In closing my eyes it is easy for me to imagine that one or more of the characters in the film was a relative. Perhaps others felt that way as well and maybe, just maybe, this is part of the reason why some brothers can’t stand watching “The Color Purple”. Almost every man in the film is less than admirable.

“25 years ago when this film was released the community didn’t accept it because they thought it was against the black male. The Danny Glover role was controversial and was scene as anti-African American male.

“I think Danny also mentioned the fact that he got a lot of criticism in the community, if I recall, I could be speaking out of term,” she explained. “But I remember him saying on Oprah that he was up against a lot of criticism as a man and as an actor for taking the role. I don’t know what to say about it because our community is so incredibly wounded from our history, and rightfully so. The second part is for someone who is a non-African American (Spielberg) to step into the circle to represent a historical story, whether it’s fictional or non-fictional, they’re up against quite a bit of criticism.”

When dealing with human ideas things get kind of fuzzy. We are, by definition, a complex lot. Regarding the integration of non-blacks becoming involved in the telling of our stories Rae Dawn had this to say.

“It’s a huge conundrum because I would like to see more integration in the media, not just on BET but in general. I would like to see that integration but it’s difficult for someone who is non-African American to step in and interpret our work without harsh, harsh criticism and lack of support.

“It shoots us – as individuals and as a community – in the foot. People like Steven Spielberg, who really had no benefit whatsoever to do a film like that.” Rae explained. “But the fact is that he did make an Oscar-rated film. The fact is he didn’t need to do it, but the fact that he did it took a lot. That just was a part of showing what a cool guy he is, but the fact that our community really criticizes people like that. We need to support people like that for stepping into the fire. Maybe not in this lifetime. I don’t know.”

The pendulum swings both ways. To many African Americans alive today certain subject matter is considered off limits to white directors, but white gatekeepers feel the same way when considering black directors for non-black subject matter.

“It’s truly sad that a Spike Lee or a John Singleton or someone of their calibre are not always the first names called on to direct a ‘Spiderman’ or a non-Afrocentric film. It’s true and it’s sad and it must be so frustrating for them because they are African American film makers. On the other hand, if someone were to ask me in my lifetime will we see that type of integration and I would have to say no. That makes me sad both as a performer and as a human being that we will not be able to do that.

Regarding “The Color Purple” Rae Dawn admits that she didn’t grasp its importance back then. Prior to the film Chong was that “it” black girl and was easily the first crush of many young brothers. She told our Uncle Lee that she was under the false impression that the hits would simply keep coming.

“It’s funny how you don’t realize how important something is until later,” she admitted. “No, I can’t say that I knew it at the time. I was young and I had broken through a few glass ceilings. I had personally done some movies that were not written for a person of color. So, I felt slighty friskier, more hopeful and energetic. I had actually started getting the idea that maybe Hollywood was headed to a point where it wouldn’t be so segregated. At the time we were doing ‘The Color Purple’ I thought it was a natural progression. I thought that we would continue to have these opportunities on these giant stages with these big studios and these big directors. I had this sense of hope that there would be an onslaught of more opportunities like ‘The Color Purple’.

There has been a secret war waging for the promotion and control of black images on the big screen. It was a war Chong tells EURweb.com that she was totally oblivious to.

“Yes, completely and totally and I did not realize that there was a battle, a war was going on. That’s what youth does. With youth you just have no idea. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so bold if I had known what the deal was. It offended a lot of people that I didn’t care to take up our cause for the struggle. I was just too busy out there getting work. I wouldn’t have time. It offended them that I wasn’t applying my afrocentricity into every role. I was just playing people and characters. I didn’t realize that was the beginning of the end of that.”

When asked whether or not she felt “The Color Purple” was a ground breaking, industry changing film Rae surprised us with her answer.

“In the industry? No, I don’t think so,” she said. “If you have seen movies like ‘The Learning Tree’ or ‘Sounder’, those movies were as important. ‘Sounder’ was just a fantastic, fantastic film. One big thing that happened is it introduced us to Oprah. That’s the biggest thing ‘The Color Purple’ really did. The industry hasn’t changed toward integration one iota.”

Speaking of Oprah, we asked her what the woman who would eventually become a media mega-star was like 25 years ago.

“She was very cute and very nervous and very approachable,” said a reflective Rae. “Considering that she is a powerful multi-billionaire I think she has done a pretty good job remaining approachable. She has had some complications considering all of the negative energy that has been put towards her. Really, don’t you think?”

Yeah, we would say so Rae Dawn. We would say so. In the meantime, we would like to congratulate Rae Dawn Chong on winning EURweb.com’s fictional “Damn! You’re 50? Are You Sure?” Award. Yes, she still looks as fine as ever. As mentioned previously “The Color Purple” is to be (re)released on Tuesday, January 25 on Blu-ray disc. If you didn’t already know, the film stars Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Rae Dawn Chong, Margaret Avery, William Pugh and the late Adolph Caesar.

The offering includes …

o Conversations with the Ancestors: From Book to Screen o A Collaboration of Spirits: Casting and Acting The Color Purple o The Color Purple: The Musical o Cultivating a Classic: The Making of The Color Purple o Behind-the Scenes and Cast – Focused Featurette Galleries

By the way, we’re giving away copies of Blu-ray version. To win one, go HERE.

FILM TIDBITS

Eddie Murphy’s Daughter New Face of Dark and Lovely

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 20, 2011) *Eddie Murphy’s 21-year-old daughter
Bria has been hired as the new “brand ambassador” for beauty product Dark and Lovely. Father and daughter attended a launch party for the occasion in New York City, along with Bria’s mom Nicole Mitchelle (married to Eddie from 1993-006) and sister Shayne Murphy. Bria told WWD she’s been looking for modeling and acting work for the past two years and that her new gig was the perfect fit, adding, “I have been relaxing my hair with Dark & Lovely since I was 11.” She’ll star in print and television campaigns for Dark and Lovely’s Healthy Gloss 5.

::TV NEWS::\

Caroline Dhavernas: Riding The Waves Of American TV

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Andrew Ryan

(January 24, 2011) PASADENA, CALIF.— Caroline Dhavernas is ready for her close-up. Again.


The petite Montrealer, some may recall, was tapped for TV stardom several years ago in the Fox drama Wonderfalls, in which she played a character who received cryptic messages from inanimate objects. Critics were wild about the show and Dhavernas herself, but Fox pulled the plug on Wonderfalls after only four episodes.

Now Dhavernas is back in the spotlight as the idealistic Dr. Lily Brenner in the ABC medical drama
Off the Map, which comes from the creators of Grey's Anatomy.

Then or now, Dhavernas is no neophyte to the fame game. She was already an acting veteran by the time
Wonderfalls came and went in 2004. A child star in her native Quebec, Dhavernas began in the business by dubbing American films into French and doing voice work on Canadian series.

Following the demise of
Wonderfalls, Dhavernas was sought out by casting directors, which resulted in the 2006 film Hollywoodland, starring Ben Affleck, and the Canadian feature Passchendaele.

And now she's back. Dhavernas has lived primarily in Los Angeles since
Wonderfalls but recently relocated to Hawaii, where Off the Map is filmed (the drama is set in a remote town in the South American rain forest). She took time for a chat at the recent TV critics’ tour.

What makes
Off the Map unique among medical dramas?

It's a very different medical drama. We're not in a hospital, we're not wearing scrubs and we have very little to practise medicine with. There's the culture shock between how we do things and how the locals practise medicine. And there's two languages going on. The stakes are much higher and that brings people closer together in the medical profession.

What was your prep to play a doctor?

There wasn't that much to do. We have medical techs to help us out with all the medical stuff and jargon. I watched a documentary called
Living in Emergency, about Doctors Without Borders, which was really amazing. These doctors aren't your typical doctors. Mostly they're people who didn't feel comfortable practising regular medicine back home.

What pushed you toward acting as a child?

Both my parents were actors, so I started when I was eight years old doing voiceover work, dubbing American movies into French and so on. When I was 11, I started doing television and film and just fell in love with it.

You must have been an outgoing kid.

No, I was very shy and sometimes people would wonder whether I was being forced to do this by my parents, which wasn't the case at all. I was thrilled to be there, but my internal world was very busy. Outwardly I looked like I was having a bad time, but I really loved it.

Why do you think
Wonderfalls came and went so quickly?

I was certain we had something different and unique and funny. It was a risk for the network to say yes to
Wonderfalls in the first place. Then a new president came in and didn't really get the concept.

Any lessons learned?

I learned you can't plan ahead on American television. The critics loved the show. Four episodes aired out of the 13 we filmed, then fans had to wait for the DVD to find out the rest of the story.

ABC is the network of strong female-driven dramas –
Grey's Anatomy, Rookie Blue et al. Is there a presumption of success with Off the Map?

Not for me. You just can't plan for anything in the business of American television. No one else in the world does things this way. No other business has the budget to make expensive pilots and just throw them out if they don't think people will like it. The process itself is so bizarre.

Is there something in your Canadian upbringing that comes out in your character?

Possibly. I think Canadians are used to doing a bit of everything. We're open-minded people. My character Lily is sometimes described as being a bit of a Girl Scout. I've never been a Girl Scout but I certainly know what it means to be adventurous. I'm always ready to jump in the water.

What do you miss most about living in Montreal?

I don't have to miss it all that much, because I do go back there all the time. I was just there for the holidays. My house is there, my friends, my family are all there. What I miss mostly is living in the city, and the opportunity to go to the museum or to go see live music whenever I like.

But pretty nice to live and work in Hawaii, right?

What I gain in Hawaii is that I get to live right by the ocean and learn how to surf. So you know, you win some, you lose some.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Off the Map airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC and Global.

American Idol Ratings Down From Last Year

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(January 20, 2011) Initial ratings show interest is down in American Idol and its new team of judges.


The Nielsen Co. says 26.1 million people saw the two-hour season premiere Wednesday night of television's most popular show. That's down 13 per cent from the 29.9 million people who saw last year's season debut.

Nielsen said Thursday it was an even steeper ratings drop of 18 per cent among the youthful audience the Fox network desires.

Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler were on for the first time as judges, their style considerably nicer than Simon Cowell, who has left the show.

A Fox executive said the network is pleased there is still so much interest in the show and that chatter on social media about the new hosts seemed mostly positive. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because the network isn't commenting publicly on the numbers.

The show's ratings also grew during each of its four half-hours, Nielsen said.

Meanwhile, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. says he was “thoroughly disgusted” by the show's depiction of the Bronx. The final contestant was a 16-year-old boy from the Bronx who had lived briefly with his family in a homeless shelter.

Oprah’s Big Family Secret Is

Source: www.thestar.com

(January 24, 2011) Oprah Winfrey says she recently learned she has a half-sister she never knew about.
Winfrey announced on The Oprah Winfrey Show that aired on Monday that a Milwaukee woman named Patricia discovered that the two were half-sisters. The woman says she had been searching for years for the identity of the mother who gave her up for adoption in 1963. She says she learned in 2007 that Winfrey was her half-sister. On her program, Winfrey says she learned about Patricia last November. Winfrey says she was 9 years old and living with her father when her mother had the daughter and gave her up for adoption. She says she never even knew her mother was pregnant. Winfrey says the two met on Thanksgiving Day.

Oprah Winfrey To Reveal A New-Found Family Secret On Monday

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(January 21, 2011) Oprah Winfrey has staged many a family reunion on her talk show. But on Monday's episode, she promises, the drama will be about her.

Winfrey told viewers Thursday that she will have a reunion of her own on
The Oprah Winfrey Show. She wouldn't say with whom – only that it involves something she's learned about recently and is known to only a few people close to her.

“I thought I'd seen it all. But this, my friends, is the miracle of all miracles,” Winfrey says in a promotional spot for the show. The word “miracle” appears on screen, reinforcing her pronouncement.

“I was given some news that literally shook me to my core. This time, I'm the one being reunited,” she said. “I was keeping a family secret for months, and on Monday you're going to hear it straight from me.”

Her production company, Harpo, declined to provide further details Friday.

Given Winfrey's tangled family history, the possibilities for her reunion are many.

She was born to unmarried teenagers, Vernon Winfrey and Vernita Lee, and raised at various times by a grandmother, her mother, and her father and stepmother in Mississippi, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

As a teenager, Oprah Winfrey gave birth to a son who died shortly afterward. That chapter of her life was revealed after a family member sold the story to a tabloid in 1990, and Winfrey was said to have felt betrayed.

Using her Chicago-based show to disclose a new wrinkle in her personal history allows her to keep other media from getting hold of it first.

Winfrey has proved herself a master at milking family reunion drama, celebrity and otherwise, on her syndicated talk show that's in its 25th and final season. This month, she launched a cable channel, OWN.

She reunited more than 100 members of the Osmonds. She brought together both the screen family from
The Sound of Music and descendants of the real-life members of the musical Von Trapp family portrayed in the film. After decades apart, singer Seal and his foster sister were reunited on Winfrey's show.

There was also the memorable reunion involving Clemantine and Claire Wamariya, sisters who escaped the Rwandan genocide and later immigrated to America without knowing if their parents had survived. They learned they had, but it wasn't until they were onstage with Winfrey that the sisters saw their mother and father again.

Oprah’s Big Family Secret Is

Source: www.thestar.com

(January 24, 2011) Oprah Winfrey says she recently learned she has a half-sister she never knew about.
Winfrey announced on The Oprah Winfrey Show that aired on Monday that a Milwaukee woman named Patricia discovered that the two were half-sisters. The woman says she had been searching for years for the identity of the mother who gave her up for adoption in 1963. She says she learned in 2007 that Winfrey was her half-sister. On her program, Winfrey says she learned about Patricia last November. Winfrey says she was 9 years old and living with her father when her mother had the daughter and gave her up for adoption. She says she never even knew her mother was pregnant. Winfrey says the two met on Thanksgiving Day.

Oprah Winfrey To Reveal A New-Found Family Secret On Monday

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(January 21, 2011) Oprah Winfrey has staged many a family reunion on her talk show. But on Monday's episode, she promises, the drama will be about her.

Winfrey told viewers Thursday that she will have a reunion of her own on
The Oprah Winfrey Show. She wouldn't say with whom – only that it involves something she's learned about recently and is known to only a few people close to her.

“I thought I'd seen it all. But this, my friends, is the miracle of all miracles,” Winfrey says in a promotional spot for the show. The word “miracle” appears on screen, reinforcing her pronouncement.

“I was given some news that literally shook me to my core. This time, I'm the one being reunited,” she said. “I was keeping a family secret for months, and on Monday you're going to hear it straight from me.”

Her production company, Harpo, declined to provide further details Friday.

Given Winfrey's tangled family history, the possibilities for her reunion are many.

She was born to unmarried teenagers, Vernon Winfrey and Vernita Lee, and raised at various times by a grandmother, her mother, and her father and stepmother in Mississippi, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

As a teenager, Oprah Winfrey gave birth to a son who died shortly afterward. That chapter of her life was revealed after a family member sold the story to a tabloid in 1990, and Winfrey was said to have felt betrayed.

Using her Chicago-based show to disclose a new wrinkle in her personal history allows her to keep other media from getting hold of it first.

Winfrey has proved herself a master at milking family reunion drama, celebrity and otherwise, on her syndicated talk show that's in its 25th and final season. This month, she launched a cable channel, OWN.

She reunited more than 100 members of the Osmonds. She brought together both the screen family from
The Sound of Music and descendants of the real-life members of the musical Von Trapp family portrayed in the film. After decades apart, singer Seal and his foster sister were reunited on Winfrey's show.

There was also the memorable reunion involving Clemantine and Claire Wamariya, sisters who escaped the Rwandan genocide and later immigrated to America without knowing if their parents had survived. They learned they had, but it wasn't until they were onstage with Winfrey that the sisters saw their mother and father again.

TV TIDBITS

Roger Ebert To Debut Facial Prosthesis On New Show

Source:  www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner

(January 21, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Roger Ebert is debuting a facial prosthesis along with his new public
television show on film criticism. The veteran critic was left disfigured after surgeries for a cancerous growth in his salivary gland. He wrote on his blog that he’ll appear on his new “Ebert Presents at the Movies” in a prosthesis for his lower face and neck. Since the operations left him unable to speak, Ebert communicates through a voice in his laptop. The 68-year-old Ebert says the prosthesis “will be a pleasant reminder of the person I was for 64 years.” The show debuts Friday with co-hosts Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of Mubi.com. It’s being taped where Ebert and the late Gene Siskel made their iconic “Sneak Previews” show starting 35 years ago.

Soap Opera Star Diagnosed with Lyme Disease

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 25, 2011) *Debbie Morgan, who stars on the daytime soap opera “All My Children,” has been missing from the series lately. She recently announced why she’s been gone since December: lyme disease. “It’s nothing fatal. Lyme disease is an infection caused by the borrelia bacteria from a tick,” she shared on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “It’s a chronic condition, and I’ve had it in my system for over 15 years.”  Lyme disease is a condition that may cause complications of the heart, nervous system, and joints, but it can be cured. Morgan will be returning to the show in the coming months.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Actors Create Theatre 20 To Foster Canadian Musicals

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Guy Dixon

(January 21, 2011) It started as a gripe session among actors and has turned into a unique, new musical-
theatre company of national calibre, with actors Colm Wilkinson, Brent Carver, Louise Pitre and other major names on board.

Two years ago, Adam Brazier started meeting regularly with fellow actors to dream up a way to stop the flood of Toronto talent to New York. At the same time, as the gripe sessions got more intense, they asked themselves, why not try taking on a bigger agenda of helping foster Canadian-composed musicals at home, along with unsung musicals from abroad?

Before long, those meetings became a call to arms, leading to the creation of the new artist-run, not-for-profit company
Theatre 20, which will make its home at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre. Mirvish Productions is letting Theatre 20 use its theatre and is helping the company with marketing and logistics, although it is not directly financing the company, said Brazier, Theatre 20’s artistic director.

The company’s mandate, he noted, is to develop new musicals that bigger theatre companies like Mirvish don’t take on. Its first work is the Anglo version of the hit Quebec musical Belles-Soeurs, dubbed Sisters in English. The company will perform some of its workshopped material in front of potential producers later this month.

“The reason why Mirvish has been so supportive of this and has been behind us from the beginning, is that the types of shows that we want to do are the types that they won’t necessarily take the risk on in their bigger theatres,” Brazier said.

“This is an ad hoc group,” he added. “We are all volunteers. Nobody in this company is being paid. So it’s very scary for a group of artists to take this leap. This [administrative and producing] side is not what we are familiar with. But to have the support and the guidance and encouragement from the Mirvish organization keeps you going.”

In addition to developing new works, Theatre 20 wants to be a repository for high-quality Canadian musicals already written, but sitting unproduced in composers’ desk drawers.

“We want to be that place where if somebody has had a musical sitting on the shelf for 10 or 15 years, we want to keep it at our office. We want to have a catalogue of great Canadian works to pull from,” said Rosie Shaw, the company’s general manager.

Thursday’s unveiling brought a packed audience of theatre people to the Panasonic Theatre. Theatre 20 is already starting to receive donations, but its major funding push will be this year. The company will present a series of musical-theatre concerts to maintain its public profile, although it doesn’t plan to begin staging full musicals until next year.

“We want to foster work and help develop work. So we want to encourage a type of work. We want to encourage musicals that ask questions. We want to demand more not only from ourselves, but from composers,” Brazier said. “It doesn’t all have to be fluffy musical comedies – and there’s nothing wrong with that. We want to do that as well, because people love musical comedies.”

The Big Interview With Diane Paulus

Source:  www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(January 21, 2011) These days, Diane Paulus is truly the Queen of the Night.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about her Tony Award-winning revival of Hair (now touring North America), her ground-breaking work as the new head of the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard or her innovative production of The Magic Flute that opens for the Canadian Opera Company on Jan. 29, she is truly the woman of the moment when it comes to putting musical magic on stage.

Forget Julie Taymor, mired in the $65 million traffic accident called Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. Paulus knows how to make her actors fly without leaving the ground. Her secret? Trust in the music.

Sitting in an office at the COC with the intriguing air of a flirtatious Lady of Shallot, the 44-year-old, hazel-eyed Paulus happily time-travels back to a youth in Manhattan surrounded by theatre, dance and, most of all, music.

“I grew up with a beautiful gold harp sitting in our living room. My older sister played it. She still does, in fact, for opera companies around the world.”

That’s just where the memories begin. “I can also still see on our dining room wall, a big framed portrait my father made of composers from Mozart to Stravinsky. Yes, music was alive in my life. I studied piano for 15 years.

“Look at where I lived! Four blocks from Lincoln Center. I used to play in the fountain. And then I started taking dance lessons. I was in The Nutcracker for the N.Y. City Ballet when I was 8 and dancing in The Firebird for Georges Balanchine when I was 9. Believe me, that’s something you don’t ever forget.”

With all of that dance up front in her life, it turned out not to be the path she chose to pursue.

“Theatre and opera were always the twin kingdoms that I felt I had to conquer, because they were my parent’s favourites.”

“My father was a producer of fine arts programming for WCBS in New York, but he began as a director. In fact, he met my mother, who was Japanese, following World War II, when he was in charge of the occupation entertainment corps.”

Paulus’s mother gave her the other great passion of her professional life.

“Mother was a huge opera fan. I still recall the fateful day when my mother said to me, ‘Opera is the ultimate art form. It has singing and music and drama and dance and emotion and story.’ As a child that had a huge impression on me.”

In the end, it was theatre that Paulus pursued seriously, “after a brief flirtation with law, which I quickly and mercifully realized was not for me.”

She began as an actor, but before too long, found it unfulfilling.

“Please don’t get me wrong. I admire actors, but ultimately their work is not for me. I’m interested in making things and building them. My directorial and entrepreneurial skills couldn’t be withheld and sitting around and waiting for a phone call just wasn’t the way I was hot-wired.”

So she basically followed the time-honoured path of young directors everywhere: “I found abandoned spaces and started making shows.”

The company she founded with her husband, Randy Weiner, and some other like-minded folk was called the Project 400 Theatre Group.

It instantly revealed Paulus’s flair for cross-breeding Shakespeare with pop culture, leading to The Karaoke Show (based on The Comedy of Errors), Best of Both Worlds (a gospel version of The Winter’s Tale) and, most memorably, The Donkey Show. A raunchy version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in a disco, The Donkey Show ran for six years off-Broadway and was later brought to ART as her first show there.

In the midst of all that topsy-turveydom, she launched a serious career as an operatic director as well.

“Andrei Serban was the man who opened my eyes to the importance a director could have to the creative vision of an opera. I had always thought it was all about the music and it is, but it’s the director’s job to translate that music into images that make it live in three dimensions.”

Since then she’s been juggling both careers. In fact, her work for the COC on The Magic Flute has been bookended by mounting the national tour of Hair. Paulus finds working in both art forms a simultaneously challenging but invigorating experience.

“Musical theatre actors and opera singers are two such very different breeds. Actors are always slowly warming up, building a performance, getting to know their role and their colleagues, until, hopefully on opening night, after a lot of previews, it blossoms into a performance.

“Opera couldn’t be more different. Everyone knows the opera they’re doing, they’ve trained for a year. Day one, they just dive in. They’re like athletes, not giving any more than they have to, but working very hard, holding back until opening night.”

Paulus is at pains to point out that an opera’s first night “is after no previews, is often the very first time things are run together at performance conditions, but I love the extreme sport aspect of it, with everyone jumping off the diving board together on opening night!”

Hair presented her with a different kind of diving board. When the N.Y. Public Theatre asked her to mount a 40th anniversary production in Central Park in 1967, she jumped.

“I grew up listening to that music just as much as Stravinsky and it was part of my bloodstream. When I got the phone call asking me to do it, I almost dropped the phone, I was so frantic.

“But I immediately immersed myself in the politics and the social mores of the period because I knew that’s what Hair had to be: not a tie-dyed hippie fashion show, but a real tribute to people who were willing to fight and die for what they believed in.”

The show was a huge hit and is now traveling across North America.

This brings us to her current project, The Magic Flute. How does such an anti-traditionalist as Paulus tackle such a work as the famously mystical, magical Mozart creation?

“Because it is such a deep story built on ritual, it sings to me immediately. Theatre as ritual is at the heart of all my work.”

She plans to stage it as a play-within-a-play, a celebration in a German garden in the late 18th century, “with a few modern twists to the costumes.”

As you listen to Paulus spin her web of illusion, you realize why she’s such a gifted director. She has the ability to make you see the world that she is envisioning and you very much want to become a part of it.

It’s real life, but not naturalism,” is the careful distinction she makes. “I want everyone to get lost in this giant labyrinth in a Masonic garden and then somehow find themselves again.”

Her bottom line? “I have two daughters, 6 and 3, for whom I want this to have the appeal of a great fairy tale. And then I think of my parents, for whom I would want this to have the appeal of a great opera.”

She smiles serenely; a Mona Lisa off to set lighting cues.

“I took the job at the ART because its mission is ‘to expand the boundaries of theatre.’ I can throw my blood, sweat and tears into that mission, because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing all my life.”

FIVE FAVE INFLUENCES ON DIANE PAULUS’S CAREER

George Balanchine: The first great artist I ever worked for; the one I will never forget.

Pablo Picasso: Because he teaches us that looking at something in an extraordinary way can often make it more beautiful.

The Rolling Stones: They knew how to take the energy of the streets and the bars and turn it into art.

William Shakespeare: I revere him not as the author of Penguin Classics, but as a man in whole: actor, writer, producer, director.

Ingmar Bergman: No matter what art form he turns to, he touches it with his own unique genius. I admire that.

Michael Langham Made Me Love Stratford

Source:  www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(January 21, 2011) It wasn't until the day after I had written an obituary for Michael Langham last weekend,
detailing the influence he had offered to many of the greats of Canadian theatre, that I suddenly recalled how he had been an important part of my life as well.

He directed the first show I ever saw at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and — just like they say about first loves — it's the one you never forget.

It was 1967 and I was a stage-struck teenager from New York with a love for classical theatre. In those days, Joseph Papp was working his rough magic in Central Park every summer and I had grown accustomed to seeing stars like James Earl Jones bravely tackle Othello while the airplanes flew overhead and the police sirens wailed mournfully in the distance.

But I had been reading about this Stratford Festival up in Canada and wanted to see it up close and personal. I kept browbeating my poor parents to take me there, even though their theatrical taste generally began and ended with a Mary Martin musical.

They finally agreed and we set out in the height of a steamy August heat wave. After a night at Niagara Falls, we began again on Wednesday morning, intending to make it to Stratford in time for lunch and a 2 p.m. matinee of Antony and Cleopatra.

Back in those days before GPS, however, the fate of a road trip lay in the hands of the person who clutched the road map and my mother's grasp of the back roads of Ontario wasn't exactly killer.

Bottom line, we pulled into the Festival parking lot at 2:05, hungry, angry and frustrated. I remember pacing at the back of Aisle 6, waiting for the latecomers' call to arrive so we could be ushered to our seats.

It finally came and if there was a singular “Wow!” moment in my entire theatregoing career, this was it.

The doors opened, and we were shown down those steep stairs to our seats, while my eyes never left the blazing disc of polished wood that shone in the bright white light.

I had been in modified thrust theatres before, but this was the thing itself, an almost kabbalistic geometric design that Tanya Moiseiwitsch and Tyrone Guthrie had concocted between them.

My apologies to the nuns and priests who had tried to turn me into a good Catholic, but that stage seemed like more of a sacred altar to me than any of the countless structures I had knelt before in prayer.

That platform fused our energy as spectators towards a single point and allowed the actors to perform with incredible intensity without having to scream or declaim.

It was the start of Act I, Scene 3. Zoe Caldwell strode onto the stage as Cleopatra and my first reaction was “God, she's small!” Then she tore into one of Shakespeare's great speeches, turning to her handmaiden, ordering her to locate Antony and saying “if you find him sad, say I am dancing; if in mirth, report that I am sudden sick.”

I heard that unique molasses and brandy voice of hers caress the lines and my reaction turned to “God, she's good!”

A few moments later, Christopher Plummer entered. When he walks onto a stage now, he brings a charisma made up of decades of stardom and talent, but back then, he had an animal magnetism it was impossible to harness. You thought he was going to tear the building —or, at the very least, poor Ms. Caldwell — to pieces.

He stopped her in mid-rant by grabbing her wrist and icily beginning “Now, my dearest queen . . .” only to have her shake him off and demand “Pray you, stand further from me,” as they retreated to their corners like testy boxers between rounds.

At that moment, my brain snapped into overdrive.

Part of me was exulting in the sheer genius of Caldwell and Plummer, but I also was able to see how carefully director Michael Langham was positioning them on that stage, using the actors' movements in collaboration with the time-space continuum that the audience provided.

In that instant, I understood the unique power of the Stratford Festival stage, when used by a great director: Motion, when combined with intellect, could unlock the door to emotion.

I've seen it happen again as brilliantly on a handful of occasions over the past 40-odd years. Robin Phillips with Richard III, Brian Bedford with Titus Andronicus and, most recently, Des McAnuff with The Tempest.

But the ultimate debt will always be owed to Michael Langham, the man who first showed me the magic of Stratford — in the Bard's words, that “brave new world that has such people in it.”

Maria Bamford’s Unique Voice — Actually, All Of Them

Source:  www.thestar.com - Garnet Fraser

(January 23, 2011) You may know comedian Maria Bamford from her late-night TV appearances on Leno, Conan, Kimmel and Craig Ferguson. If not, it seems that's fine with her.

“Maybe there's something better about more fame, but I don't know what it is,” Bamford says over the phone from Los Angeles, where she was preparing for her trip to Toronto. “I've made it to this plateau and I'm OK. I've experienced more applause than I ever imagined.”

The 40-year-old already has a busier career, in some ways, than she would like; she does regular stand-up time in L.A. and all over North America and last year did voice work for four different cartoon series. As the latter fact suggests, Bamford's known for her vocal talents and — as fans who take in any of her four shows next weekend at Comedy Bar will see — what they lend to her comedy.

With mic in hand Bamford, 40, is more clearly a stage persona than some other comics, with high-pitched, high-strung demeanour and facial expressions that function like punctuation, lending emphasis and luring the laughs out.

But that's only where she starts as she casually inhabits, then discards, characters whom the audience quickly guesses a great deal about, based on vocal patterns and a few mannerisms alone: the perky, pinched Midwesterner, the smooth, low easy-listening DJ and — in one memorable bit from her 2009 album Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome — the feigned professional empathy of a politician, expressed in the most generic speech imaginable:

“Confident. From the chest. Joke, referencing a recent criticism of my campaign. Hahahah. Story: of a black, white, Asian (pause) pine ghost. Who is fake, and who I am pretending in a very made-up way.

“Plan. Vague, complicated plan. To eradicate sadness. And now, wrapping, to repeat the same thing . . . Now rushing off as if to build affordable housing, but in fact just gonna go order a $35 Caesar salad at the Hilton. Practised gratitude! Local reference.”

If that doesn't quite come across as hilarious on the page, credit the Minnesota native's delivery for making her one of the best-loved figured in the vaguely defined world of alternative comedy.

Her peers on the 2004 Comedians of Comedy Tour — rounding up the top names among those don't quite belong in typical comedy clubs — included Patton Oswalt and Zach Galifianakis.

Now Judd Apatow, the top tastemaker in comedy these days, tells the L.A. Times she is “hysterically funny . . . it takes a lot to make me laugh really hard. And she definitely makes me laugh super hard.”

Local comedian Denis Grignon says he discovered her on satellite radio, a natural spot for such an aural experience, and he says he was blown away.

“She breaks a lot of the rules of stand-up comedy, doing material almost as play-lets as opposed to setup-joke, setup-joke,” says Grignon, who'll be performing at Absolute Comedy this week. “It takes courage to take those little nuggets and really explore them.”

If it does sound a bit more artistic than some stand-up, Bamford comes by the impulse honestly, with a creative-writing degree and years of more experimental work — onstage with a shaved head and violin, for example — under her belt. By her standards, then, she has already come back some ways to the mainstream.

“It helped to move to Los Angeles and I was definitely more performance art (before) and people were more tolerant of that in Minneapolis. This is bad, but one reason I got management is that I was blonde and nubile, and everyone's interested in putting that on.”

Now, she says, she has learned to let her refined, eccentric delivery do its job on her audience.

“I definitely have been learning to milk things a bit. You can just stare into the distance and open your mouth an interesting way, and” — as she starts to laugh at the scandalous ease of it all — “it gets the same response as a very well-crafted joke.”

So if you're seeing fewer web videos and TV appearances from her in 2011, don't worry that she has misplaced her craft.

“I'm hoping to downsize a little bit. The problem with being self-employed is nobody tells you when to stop.”

Who: Maria Bamford

Where: Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor St. W.

When: Jan. 28-29, 8 and 10:30 p.m.

Tickets: $20 at comedybar.ca

National Ballet Star Lois Smith Dies

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Crabb

(January 23, 2011) Lois Smith, a dancer of radiant grace and refinement and the National Ballet of Canada’s
first homegrown prima ballerina, died at her home in Sechelt, B.C., on Saturday at 81 after a lengthy decline caused by Alzheimer’s.

Born Oct. 8, 1929 to a poor British immigrant family in Vancouver, Smith did not begin intensive ballet training until she was 15 but with her beautiful proportions, natural facility and passion for dance made rapid progress. Within a year, while still studying with celebrated teacher Rosemary Deveson, Smith appeared at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park in the corps of Vancouver’s popular summertime Theatre Under the Stars.

By 1949, Smith was taking leading roles in the theatre’s productions and appearing in touring musicals in the United States. In Vancouver, that summer, she met a handsome 20-year-old Canadian dancer, David Adams. The two married the following spring and, after performing successfully in musicals and night club acts, made plans pursue careers as classical ballet artists in Britain, where Adams had already danced for two years.

Their plans were put on hold when Smith became pregnant. Meanwhile, British-born dancer Celia Franca, with whom Adams had worked in London, arrived in Toronto with plans to form a national classical ballet company. Franca asked Adams to join her endeavour. He agreed on the condition Franca also hire his wife — hardly recovered from the birth of daughter Janine — sight unseen. Franca did, and had no reason to regret it.

In the fall of 1951, Adams and Smith became charter members of the newly formed company and rapidly emerged as the National Ballet’s leading couple, popularly dubbed by the media “Mr. and Mrs. Ballet.” They danced together in Toronto, across Canada, on perennial U.S. tours and frequently on CBC Television, playing a major role in establishing the young company’s popularity and artistic credibility.

“They were so charismatic,” says current company artistic director Karen Kain, who remembers Smith as “a huge and continuous source of inspiration” during her student years. “She was beautiful, elegant, serene and so feminine. I just loved her.”

Adams and Smith danced almost all the major classics together and also made particularly strong impressions in British choreographer Antony Tudor’s masterwork, Lilac Garden. At the time, reviewing that work, Toronto Star critic Nathan Cohen hailed Smith’s interpretation of Caroline, a young woman committed to enter a marriage of convenience, as “a performance of the most remarkable discipline and muted anguish.”

Grant Strate, another National Ballet charter member and the company’s first resident choreographer, recalls: “She had a beautiful body, grace, line and poise. She was truly a ballerina from Day 1, a natural; and she loved what she was doing.”

Adams left in 1961 to continue his career in Britain and the couple’s marriage crumbled. Smith continued as the National Ballet’s ranking ballerina, often partnered by Earl Kraul, until chronic injury forced her retirement in 1969.

Smith opened her own studio in a Front St. loft and became one of Toronto’s most sought-after ballet teachers before accepting an invitation to move her school to George Brown College, where it became the foundation of the institution’s still prospering dance program.

Smith eventually returned to the National Ballet as an occasional guest artist at the invitation of Franca’s successor, Alexander Grant, notably appearing in Napoli in November 1981 during the company’s 30th anniversary season.

Smith left Toronto in 1988 and moved back to B.C., settling in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast. There, she continued to guest-teach, choreograph and pursue her passion for making stained glass. She also joined the board of Ballet British Columbia and frequently attended dance performances in Vancouver until prevented by her progressive illness.

Although Adams remarried after returning to Canada in the late 1970s, he and Smith remained friends until his death in October 2007. Both were made officers of the Order of Canada: Smith in 1980 and Adams in 2004.

Says Kain: “We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

LittleBigPlanet 2’s Near-Limitless Fun

Source:  www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar

LittleBigPlanet 2
PS3
Rated E
$59.99

(January 21, 2011) It's hard not to love Sackboy and wonderfully crafted world of the
LittleBigPlanet series.
The knitwear esthetic of the completely customizable characters is one thing, but there's a real tactile feel to the game's cut-and-paste collage worlds. To anyone who feels that games are now too grim and gritty, this is the ideal antidote, with cuteness that is impossible to deny.

The single-player campaign finds Sackboy being recruited into a group of inventors taking on the Negativitron, a creature seeking to destroy all he surveys. Media Molecule's designers shine, especially in the industrial-themed The Factory of a Better Tomorrow levels, which mix darkness and whimsy, tied together with a nice dose of dry British wit (from narrator Stephen Fry).

Additions to the game include a grappling hook, a hand to grab and throw things and animals that you can ride. As a platformer, it works well, and for players who love to collect things it's a dream, with accessories, costumes and collectibles throughout. This is the type of game that anyone can pick up and play.

I still find the platforming controls to be a little soft, with Sackboy sort of floating as he jumps. But really, that's a bit like complaining about the cold even though you've got control of the thermostat.

The vaunted level-design component still has a pretty lengthy tutorial process, but it's been simplified, so those with patience can make something workable fairly quickly. People can create all sorts of games, and — just days after launch — already have, as a quick look at the game's community area shows.

There are already thousands of user-designed levels out there, and because of that LBP2 is an amazing value, even if you never try to make a level yourself.

::OTHER NEWS::

Is King And Peter Toronto's Next Hub Intersection?

Source: blogto.com - Posted by Rick McGinnis

(January 24, 2011) When he unveiled the plans for the
Bisha hotel and condo complex late last year, clubland impresario Charles Khabouth predicted that the intersection of King West and Peter streets would be at the centre of a new downtown core, to no small derision. The idea stuck with me, however, and I decided to take a look at the crossroads to imagine just what will be happening here in the next few years that might be feeding Khabouth's optimism - besides owning a hotel in the vicinity.

King West and Peter was, for many years, the border between the modest redevelopment of the theatre district and the nether land of dusty warehouses and garment trade sweatshops, presided over by the old Westinghouse building, a minor architectural gem thanks mostly to the lines of stone ornamentation that redeem this otherwise unremarkable brick box. The arrival in 1990 of the infamous and architecturally unloved Holiday Inn on the northeast corner - now the more upscale Hyatt Regency - marked the beginning of downtown bursting its borders westward, and the last 15 years have seen the intersection ringed with new hotels, condos, office conversions of the old warehouses, and commercial high-rises like the RBC Dexia building.

This is Ward 20 councillor Adam Vaughan's turf, and as far as he's concerned it the Bell Lightbox project one block east at John that kick-started the area's latest phase of rejuvenation. "There's a significant thrust of buildings that are moving up and around the TIFF block," Vaughan tells me, "but it's the TIFF building which is the epicentre of it all, where everything has been fashioned in relation to TIFF, because TIFF is the first tall building in the neighbourhood. Everything is leveraging or building or tying into the energy and the opportunity that TIFF created."

At the moment, however, it feels like the intersection is frozen in place, anticipating the next surge. The abandoned showroom for the M5V condos on the southwest corner has a zoning notice on it that Vaughan says is being put through right now, while the redevelopment of the site that now houses Wayne Gretzky's one block south at Mercer has been put forward by its owners, the Bitove Corporation. The Westinghouse building will be part of a condo complex from David Mirvish that'll feature the tallest building at the intersection - 48 storeys - and a theatre museum.

Right now, looking north at least, the area is remarkably well-preserved, at least compared with a 1949 Toronto Archives photo, with the most notable continuity at the intersection provided by the low, curving modern building on the northwest corner, which seems to have been in the drug business for at least fifty years. It's hard to believe that this two-storey low rise will survive the next wave of redevelopment.

"I've been told, and you'd have to check with Shoppers Drug Mart, that that's the highest-grossing store, on the sales per square foot basis, in the Shoppers chain, which means it could stay that way for a long time," Adam Vaughan tells me. "It's unlikely that it'll stay that way for a long time. It's probably gonna be a redevelopment site - most of the sites of that nature in the neighbourhood are."

Vaughan says that council is doing its best to preserve the industrial nature of the area, in spite of all the new construction. "We have brought into play a heritage conservation district study that's going to get started during this term of council that will look into protecting the warehouse buildings in the neighbourhood and try to give them a level of protection and try not to generate a lot of redevelopment activity on those sites, and in the process preserve structures that have provided a home to a huge high tech industry and keep those areas humming on as the centre of Toronto's high tech industry. We don't want to lose those warehouses or the other jobs that come with them - the lawyers and the accounting services that accompany high tech and entertainment development."

There are no historical photos of Peter south of King - the stretch renamed Blue Jays Way in the early '90s - but it was once mostly railway lands and the unique mix of residence and industry that was typical of Toronto for most of its history. A search through Might's 1921 city directory shows residences peppered along Peter and King alongside businesses - two stables and a carriage maker, a lumber yard, several grocers, a printer, a bookbinder, a hat manufacturer, a tailoring supply and Concertola Manufacturing Ltd., a gramophone maker.

A little of this world will remain. Besides the Westinghouse building, which remains as part of the Mirvish
proposal, the Bisha development will retain the facade of the building that was once the Diesel Playhouse and, before that, Second City's second Toronto home. At the Bisha press launch, Khabouth tells me that it was a private residence, built in the mid-1800s, before it was converted into warehouses. Right now it's hidden behind the billboard for the Bisha sales centre, but even when it was occupied, it was so altered that it might just as well have been a vaguely Georgian bit of architectural simulacrum, built from reclaimed brick.

As for it being the new downtown, anything is possible. Toronto's centre has moved west and north in the century and a half since it was located roughly where Parliament meets Front, and there's no reason why any of the current contenders for Toronto's main crossroads - King and Bay, Yonge at Dundas and at Bloor - should retain their urban centre of gravity. Vaughan thinks that John Street, not Peter, has a stronger claim for becoming a new focal point, especially with all the newly-hyped initiatives to "turn John St. into the cultural corridor that'll link the waterfront to the AGO."

What was recently a neighbourhood of warehouses where the streets emptied out after 6pm has become thriving again, with an urban density far surpassing King and Peter 80 years ago. With that in mind, Vaughan has led initiatives to make sure that the Entertainment District isn't dominated by hotel rooms and one-bedroom condos, and has pushed developers to offer expandable, "family-sized" units in their buildings, and market rentals, such as the floor of affordable housing in Bisha, so that workers in the hotels have a chance to live in the neighbourhood where they work - a feature offered by the developers in exchange for extra density.

Charles Khabouth might be just one street off with his prediction that King and Peter will be the new downtown, though it's a minor quibble if the plans promoted by Vaughan and the Entertainment District BIA actually turn King West into a 24/7 hub for shoppers, workers, tourists and residents. There are no sure things in urban planning, but the transformation of this corner is as close as you get to a safe bet.

::TRAVEL::

Is King And Peter Toronto's Next Hub Intersection?

Source: blogto.com - Posted by Rick McGinnis

(January 24, 2011) When he unveiled the plans for the
Bisha hotel and condo complex late last year, clubland impresario Charles Khabouth predicted that the intersection of King West and Peter streets would be at the centre of a new downtown core, to no small derision. The idea stuck with me, however, and I decided to take a look at the crossroads to imagine just what will be happening here in the next few years that might be feeding Khabouth's optimism - besides owning a hotel in the vicinity.

King West and Peter was, for many years, the border between the modest redevelopment of the theatre district and the nether land of dusty warehouses and garment trade sweatshops, presided over by the old Westinghouse building, a minor architectural gem thanks mostly to the lines of stone ornamentation that redeem this otherwise unremarkable brick box. The arrival in 1990 of the infamous and architecturally unloved Holiday Inn on the northeast corner - now the more upscale Hyatt Regency - marked the beginning of downtown bursting its borders westward, and the last 15 years have seen the intersection ringed with new hotels, condos, office conversions of the old warehouses, and commercial high-rises like the RBC Dexia building.

This is Ward 20 councillor Adam Vaughan's turf, and as far as he's concerned it the Bell Lightbox project one block east at John that kick-started the area's latest phase of rejuvenation. "There's a significant thrust of buildings that are moving up and around the TIFF block," Vaughan tells me, "but it's the TIFF building which is the epicentre of it all, where everything has been fashioned in relation to TIFF, because TIFF is the first tall building in the neighbourhood. Everything is leveraging or building or tying into the energy and the opportunity that TIFF created."

At the moment, however, it feels like the intersection is frozen in place, anticipating the next surge. The abandoned showroom for the M5V condos on the southwest corner has a zoning notice on it that Vaughan says is being put through right now, while the redevelopment of the site that now houses Wayne Gretzky's one block south at Mercer has been put forward by its owners, the Bitove Corporation. The Westinghouse building will be part of a condo complex from David Mirvish that'll feature the tallest building at the intersection - 48 storeys - and a theatre museum.

Right now, looking north at least, the area is remarkably well-preserved, at least compared with a 1949 Toronto Archives photo, with the most notable continuity at the intersection provided by the low, curving modern building on the northwest corner, which seems to have been in the drug business for at least fifty years. It's hard to believe that this two-storey low rise will survive the next wave of redevelopment.

"I've been told, and you'd have to check with Shoppers Drug Mart, that that's the highest-grossing store, on the sales per square foot basis, in the Shoppers chain, which means it could stay that way for a long time," Adam Vaughan tells me. "It's unlikely that it'll stay that way for a long time. It's probably gonna be a redevelopment site - most of the sites of that nature in the neighbourhood are."

Vaughan says that council is doing its best to preserve the industrial nature of the area, in spite of all the new construction. "We have brought into play a heritage conservation district study that's going to get started during this term of council that will look into protecting the warehouse buildings in the neighbourhood and try to give them a level of protection and try not to generate a lot of redevelopment activity on those sites, and in the process preserve structures that have provided a home to a huge high tech industry and keep those areas humming on as the centre of Toronto's high tech industry. We don't want to lose those warehouses or the other jobs that come with them - the lawyers and the accounting services that accompany high tech and entertainment development."

There are no historical photos of Peter south of King - the stretch renamed Blue Jays Way in the early '90s - but it was once mostly railway lands and the unique mix of residence and industry that was typical of Toronto for most of its history. A search through Might's 1921 city directory shows residences peppered along Peter and King alongside businesses - two stables and a carriage maker, a lumber yard, several grocers, a printer, a bookbinder, a hat manufacturer, a tailoring supply and Concertola Manufacturing Ltd., a gramophone maker.

A little of this world will remain. Besides the Westinghouse building, which remains as part of the Mirvish proposal, the Bisha development will retain the facade of the building that was once the Diesel Playhouse and, before that, Second City's second Toronto home. At the Bisha press launch, Khabouth tells me that it was a private residence, built in the mid-1800s, before it was converted into warehouses. Right now it's hidden behind the billboard for the Bisha sales centre, but even when it was occupied, it was so altered that it might just as well have been a vaguely Georgian bit of architectural simulacrum, built from reclaimed brick.

As for it being the new downtown, anything is possible. Toronto's centre has moved west and north in the century and a half since it was located roughly where Parliament meets Front, and there's no reason why any of the current contenders for Toronto's main crossroads - King and Bay, Yonge at Dundas and at Bloor - should retain their urban centre of gravity. Vaughan thinks that John Street, not Peter, has a stronger claim for becoming a new focal point, especially with all the newly-hyped initiatives to "turn John St. into the cultural corridor that'll link the waterfront to the AGO."

What was recently a neighbourhood of warehouses where the streets emptied out after 6pm has become
thriving again, with an urban density far surpassing King and Peter 80 years ago. With that in mind, Vaughan has led initiatives to make sure that the Entertainment District isn't dominated by hotel rooms and one-bedroom condos, and has pushed developers to offer expandable, "family-sized" units in their buildings, and market rentals, such as the floor of affordable housing in Bisha, so that workers in the hotels have a chance to live in the neighbourhood where they work - a feature offered by the developers in exchange for extra density.

Charles Khabouth might be just one street off with his prediction that King and Peter will be the new downtown, though it's a minor quibble if the plans promoted by Vaughan and the Entertainment District BIA actually turn King West into a 24/7 hub for shoppers, workers, tourists and residents. There are no sure things in urban planning, but the transformation of this corner is as close as you get to a safe bet.

::SPORTS NEWS::

Nesbitt Nabs World Sprint Title In First Attempt

Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman

(January 23, 2011) Christine Nesbitt misses few opportunities to give the gears to her speed skating sprinting
buddies.

Well, the Olympic champion and middle distance specialist may reject the notion, but she’s one of them now.

That’s what happens when you win the women’s world sprint title in the cradle of speed skating, in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, as Nesbitt did Sunday in just her first crack at the event.

As good friend Anastasia Bucsis laid it out on Twitter: “@Cnezzy You can never make fun of me for being a sprinter again. . . because you are the world sprint champion ya big dork!”

Think again, Anastasia. The 25-year-old from London, Ont., assures the good-natured abuse will keep coming.

“I like to give them a hard time,” said Nesbitt on a conference call. “Keep them on their toes, you know.”

And she certainly is keeping her competitors on their toes.

Winning the world sprint title was never on Nesbitt’s bucket list as she felt she was too weak in the 500 metres to be a contender. The world sprints are contested over two days with a 500-metre race and a 1,000-metre on each day.

Nesbitt got on the podium in the 500 metres for this first time at that level on Sunday with a bronze and she was sixth the day before. She smoked the field in both 1,000-metre races, where she’s the reigning Olympic champion, by nearly a second and a half on Saturday.

Once times were tallied, Nesbitt won by “more than a couple of touchdowns,” said Mark Wild, who coaches her along with Xiuli Wang.

Former teammate Clara Hughes said upon hearing the news: “She is an animal.”

Only two Canadian women have ever won the world sprint title, Sylvia Burka in 1977 and Catriona Le May Doan twice, in 1998 and 2002.

Le May Doan admires Nesbitt’s grit.

“She knows it’s going to hurt, she knows she’s going to blow up, but she just goes for it,” said Le May Doan in a phone interview. “It’s a scary thing to do, to stand on the line and give your all knowing you’re going to throw up afterwards. It’s not something to look forward to. But the alternative is to cross the line and say ‘I wish I gave more.’ That’s not even in her thought pattern.”

On the men’s side, Jamie Gregg was sixth and Denny Morrison seventh overall behind winner Kyou-Hyuk Lee of South Korea.

Nesbitt now has a chance to do something extremely rare: win both the world sprint and all-around titles in the same season. Karin Kania-Enke is the only woman to have done it, pulling off the feat three times for East Germany in the 1980s. She is among the athletes who were listed for doping in the Stasi records.

The world all-around championships is Feb. 12-13 in Calgary.

If you’re going to win a world title, the place do it is at the Thialf arena in Heerenveen, the Fenway Park of speed skating. Nesbitt staggered under the weight of the victory wreath bestowed on her, not to mention the ovation from about 10,000 orange-clad diehards as she took a couple of victory laps in a horse-drawn sleigh.

“It’s not necessarily winning world sprints; it’s winning a world championships in Heerenveen that’s really special to me,” said Nesbitt. “Who knows? That might never happen again. . . It’s like winning the Stanley Cup in Montreal. It’s so big here. You have to be here to be able to experience it.”

Venus Williams Withdraws from Australian Open

Source: www.eurweb.com

(January 21, 2011) *A lingering injury forced
Venus Williams to withdraw from a Grand Slam singles match for the first time in her career.

The tennis star lasted just seven points in her third-round match Friday at the Australian Open.

After losing the first game to Andrea Petkovic of Germany and trailing in the second, Williams stretched to her right to return a serve, hit the ball and then cried out in pain, clutching toward her stomach on her right side. It was soon clear that she couldn’t continue.

“Obviously I just couldn’t play,” Williams said. “I couldn’t move, it was too painful.”

Her right thigh was already heavily bandaged from an injury she sustained in the first set of her second-round match Wednesday, when she beat Sandra Zahlavova in three sets. Afterward, Williams said the injury was in her “psoas” muscle, which flexes the hip and spinal column.

“The last 48 hours, I just did as much pain management as I could,” she said. “A lot of times when you play, you get that adrenaline and that blocks pain. I just didn’t get enough of that today. I was hoping for some magic that I could recover.”

The 30-year-old Williams waved to the Rod Laver Arena crowd and appeared to be on the verge of tears as she walked off the court. Her younger sister, defending champion Serena, didn’t even make it to Melbourne Park because of a foot injury.

“It’s super disappointing because this is just not how I envisioned my Australian Open being,” Venus Williams said. “I’m just going to focus obviously on getting healthy and coming back, because I love tennis and I’ve got a lot of great tennis in me.”

Packers Beat Bears 21-14 to Win NFC Title, Advance to Super Bowl

Source: www.foxnews.com - Associated Press

(January 23, 2011) CHICAGO -- There was one Monster of the Midway in the NFC championship game and his
name was Aaron Rodgers.

He wasn't even at his best and, still, he was better than the first, the second and the third quarterback used in vain by the Chicago Bears against their bitter rivals.

Rodgers ran for a score and made a TD-saving tackle in leading the Green Bay Packers into the Super Bowl with a bone-jarring 21-14 victory Sunday over Chicago.

"It's an incredible feeling," Rodgers said. "I'm at a loss for words."

Rodgers played well enough to keep the Bears off balance all afternoon, Green Bay punter Tim Masthay kept Devin Hester under wraps and the Packers' superb defense took care of the rest in knocking the Bears out of the playoffs.

It was the 182nd meeting in the league's most historic feud, and the stakes had never been bigger.

Now the Packers (13-6) are headed to Dallas. And no matter what happens in the Super Bowl on Feb. 6, the Packers and their fans hold ultimate bragging rights over their foes to the south. Green Bay will play the winner of Sunday night's AFC title game between the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.

"We made a play to win the game and that's all that matters," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. "Keep playing defense the way we know how, and it's going to be tough for teams to beat us."

All Jay Cutler could do was watch, having left the game with a knee injury early in the third quarter. Even before the injury, Cutler was having trouble moving the ball. Worse, he was getting booed by the home fans.

Primary backup Todd Collins replaced Cutler and was jeered even worse. Then little-known backup Caleb Hanie and the Bears (12-6) actually made it a game.

Chicago's third-string quarterback rallied the Bears for a touchdown drive to cut the lead to 14-7 after Chester Taylor's 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.

Hanie had a chance to tie the game after the Bears' defense finally got a few stops, but threw a ball straight to Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji, who lumbered 18 yards into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Packers a 21-7 lead.

But Hanie wasn't finished. He threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Earl Bennett to again cut the lead to seven points with 4:43 left.

The Bears forced a punt and got the ball back with under 3 minutes left. Hanie drove the Bears to the Green Bay 29-yard line, then threw a fourth-down interception to Sam Shields -- the rookie's second of the game.

Now all those Pro Bowl voters who didn't think Rodgers was worthy can relax. They're off the hook. Rodgers will be headed to the Super Bowl instead.

Rodgers proved ready for the biggest day of his brief but impressive career as the successor to Brett Favre, even if his final stat line didn't look impressive after an ugly, hard-fought game.

He threw for 244 yards with two interceptions -- a disappointment, given how well he had played lately. But his play in the first half was good enough to put the Bears in a two-touchdown hole, boggling a good defense that suddenly seemed to fall for every play-action fake.

Chicago was ready for a championship party under sunny skies and 20-degree temperatures, and went wild from the national anthem on. But Rodgers quieted them down quickly, marching the Packers on an opening drive then ended with Rodgers scrambling for a score.

The Bears went with a heavy dose of running back Matt Forte early on, with limited success.

Early in the second quarter, Brandon Jackson faked Brian Urlacher out for a long gain on a screen pass, and Rodgers' pass to Jordy Nelson set up James Starks' 4-yard touchdown run to give Green Bay a 14-0 lead.

It was the latest in a series of big moments for Rodgers, who has earned near-universal praise for the way he has played this season -- especially since sitting out the Packers' Dec. 19 loss at New England because of a concussion.

Rodgers has been on a hot streak ever since, and doing it under pressure. The Packers would have been out of the playoffs with a loss in either of their last two regular-season games, including the regular season finale against Chicago.

With the Packers leading 14-0 at halftime, Green Bay's defense forced a three-and-out to begin the second half, and Rodgers went back to marching the Packers down the field.

With the Packers poised to put the game away, Rodgers instead tossed the ball to Urlacher on third-and-goal. He took off and ran down the Bears linebacker near midfield, barely preventing him from running it back for a touchdown when he grabbed him.

"I don't think he saw me," Urlacher said. "He threw it to me -- then he tackled me."

Urlacher, who said earlier in the week that he voted for Rodgers for the Pro Bowl, walked away impressed.

"Great quarterback, no doubt about that," Urlacher said.

But after Urlacher's interception, the Bears couldn't make anything happen with Collins in for Cutler, and appeared to be headed for a blowout until Hanie took over.

Packers players were surprised Cutler didn't come back.

"You know if he doesn't come back it had to be serious, not to come back and play in this game," Charles Woodson said.

Matthews wasn't sure when Cutler got hurt.

"Kinda wish they would have had Jay in there the whole time the way things were going," Matthews said.

Bears coach Lovie Smith grew testy when asked about Cutler's injury after the game.

"He couldn't go, and we moved on," Smith said.