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July 14, 2011


Are you enjoying this summer as much as I am?  Well with the great weather, visits from friends and lots of time outside, this summer proves to be one of the best!

Now, many of you have asked me about where to go for reggae
parties in Toronto. Well, do I have a party for you!  FAHWARD; the experience of a dance and fete, all under one roof.  CIUT's KingTurbo's Slingshot vs CHRY's Island Explosion's DJ DOC. Come out and enjoy the vibe on Friday, July 22nd!  And as a special ticket giveaway, if you can name one of the ticket outlets for this party, you could be a

WINNER!  Enter the contest HERE and please include your contact information.  


This week includes news on Jane Bunnett, a great opportunity for artists to open for Jill Scott (!!), the movie Boyz in the Hood is 20 years old, the passing on Mia Amber Davis and some techie news on RIM products.  Some patio tips and a heartwarming story of the Gregorys under OTHER NEWS.

Just click on the photo or the headline and you'll have your latest entertainment news! OR you can simply click HERE for all the articles.


Remember to look for VIDEO or AUDIO in the titles of articles for some visual and sound to perk up your reading pleasure!

 This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members!


The Ultimate in Reggae Vs Soca – Friday, July 22

Ajahmae Live Entertainment

So many of you have lamented about the fact that there are no parties like this.  Finally, someone has put the best of both worlds together – reggae and soca.  The team that brought you Trinidad vs Jamaica Comedy Clash brings you the Reggae vs Soca musical event of the summer. 
FAHWARD; the experience of a dance and fete, all under one roof.  Move FAHWARD! The Toronto Carnival Edition, Friday, July 22nd at the Vue Nightclub.

Check out the promo video here!

Come hear CIUT's KingTurbo's Slingshot vs CHRY’s Island Explosion's DJ DOC. Tickets are only $15!

Receive a free promotional CD while supplies last. This event will be iconic.  The best jam in the west - FAHWARD!

FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2011
The Vue
195 Galaxy Blvd
(Dixon & Carlingview)
Doors Open At 10:00pm
Advanced Tickets $15
$20 At The Door
Info 416-428-0164

Jamaica House (Finch) 416-744-2913
Jamaica House ( Brampton ) 905-874-6811
Granny's ( Mississauga ) 905-272-4950
Island Mix (Pickering) 905-831-1649
Play De Record (Downtown) 416-586-1649
Nicey’s Scarborough 416-497-9717
Nicey’s Brampton 905-450-6045
Shine Barbershop 905-790-3031



This Week in Toronto: Jane Bunnett and Co.

www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman


(Jul 12, 2011) Toronto’s
Jane Bunnett & Hilario Duran usher in their debut duo disc Cuban Rhapsody with a concert at Hugh’s Room. The album finds the longtime collaborators, Bunnett on soprano sax and flute and Duran on piano, having their say with the Cuban Songbook. “The duo’s ease with each other is palpable on all 10 tracks, creating a sound that often seems as if it’s been created by people floating a few centimetres above the floor,” said Star critic John Terauds. The pair will be joined by guest vocalists Amanda Martinez, Eliana Cuevas, Laura Fernandez, Luis Mario Ochoa, Alberto Alberto and Duran’s daughter Yailen Duran. (Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., 2261 Dundas St. W. Tickets: $22.50 in advance; $25 at the door.)

Ashante Infantry


The place to be for first-rate, free classical music this week is the Toronto Music Garden, nestled behind the lush shrubbery on the western fringe of Harbourfront. Even the ever more frequent takings off and landings at the Billy Bishop Airport won’t interfere with the four female members of the new darlings of the Canadian chamber-music scene, the Cecilia String Quartet, who arrive Thursday July 14 at 7 p.m. with a program of classic quartets by Mozart, Beethoven and the sensual, modern tangos of Astor Piazzolla. On Sunday July 17 at 4 p.m., lyric tenor Kevin Skelton (a frequent member of Opera Atelier’s productions) is joined by recorder virtuosa Alison Melville, viola da gamba player Thomas Baeté and harpsichordist Olivier Fortin in a program of Baroque-era treats by Heinrich Schütz and Georg Philipp Telemann. (475 Queens Quay W., just west of Spadina Ave. More info: www.harbourfrontcentre.com/torontomusicgarden)

John Terauds


With Harry Potter fans packing theatres this weekend for “it all ends here” as Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opening at midnight Thursday July 14, is there room for a small and quiet animation for younger film fans? Winnie the Pooh will take you back to the Hundred Acre Wood with a trio of stories that star the loveable and perpetually confused (and hungry) plush bear and his nursery pals. The voices are familiar, the stories comforting and the old-fashioned pen-and-ink and watercolor animation is hand-drawn and relies on no CGI trickery to tell the classic tales of friendship.

Linda Barnard

Jill Scott’s Looking for Talent in ‘Opening Act Competition’


(July 10, 2011) *Jilly from Philly, Miss Jill Scott, is hitting the road soon with her “Summer Block Party Tour” to support her chart-topping  new hit CD, “Light of the Sun.”

However, even though she has a supporting cast that includes Anthony Hamilton, Mint Condition, Dwele, and Jon B., something is still missing. That something could be you … if you’ve got the skills.

You see, the Grammy winning R&B songstress has partnered with MySpace Music and the Budweiser Superfest to get undiscovered singers to submit an a capella video for their chance to join the concert lineup.

In addition to singing on the same stage as Jill and the others we previously mentioned, the winner will walk away with a $25,000 cash prize!

Online entries can be submitted on the Budweiser Superfest website (

Something tells us we don’t have to tell you to for it!

BTW, here’s the itinerary for the “Summer Block Party Tour”:

July 2011
26 – Boston, MA – Bank of America Pavilion
28 – Wantagh, NY – Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
30 – Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre
31 – Chicago, IL – Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island

August 2011
3 – Cleveland, OH – Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
4 – Maryland Heights, MO – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre St. Louis
6 – Camden, NJ – Susquehanna Bank Center
7 – Washington, DC – Verizon Center
10 – Universal City, CA – Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk
14 – Concord, CA – Sleep Train Pavilion
17 – Memphis, TN – FedEx Forum
19 – Atlanta, GA – Chastain Park Amphitheatre
21 – Virginia Beach, VA – Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach
23 – Raleigh, NC – Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion
24 – Charlotte, NC – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
27 – Dallas, TX – Gexa Energy Pavilion
28 – Houston, TX – Reliant Arena at Reliant Park

Boyz N the Hood’ Turns 20

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jul 13, 2011) *This month, it is the 20th anniversary of hood classic,
Boyz N the Hood.” The movie was the start of several careers including John Singleton, Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long and Cuba Gooding Jr.

The film made a huge impact in the world of motion pictures and put a new perspective on violence and life in the hood. While other movies depicted drugs and murder in the streets, none ever took the perspective of the youth coming up in South Central L.A.

It was also a time when protest against police and other means of authority was strong and crime between gangs and streets was on the rise.

Singleton’s hit film challenged stereotypes and reconstructed the ideas many have had about the hood over the years.

“It’s a story that a lot of those cats used to make in the ’80s, in the suburbs, but made in the ‘hood,’” Singleton says of the films that inspired ‘Boyz N The Hood.’ “I loved the pictures, but none of those people looked like me. So me and my friends would catch the bus up to Hollywood, and we’d go see the movies, and we spent the whole time going down Vermont (ave.) talking about the movie we would make. And the movie that we would make would always be something like what I did with ‘Boyz N The Hood.’”

We Remember: Plus-Size Model Mia Amber Davis Dies at 36

Source: www.eurweb.com

(July 12, 2011) *Plus-size model
Mia Amber Davis has passed away at age 36. No cause of death has been given. According to TMZ.com, Davis had knee surgery to treat an old college basketball injury in L.A. the day before she died. Hours later — [her husband] Mike [Yard] says he got a phone call from Mia’s cousin informing him that she was taking Mia to the hospital because Mia had been suffering from a bout of dizziness. Soon after, Mike says the unthinkable happened — he got another phone call informing him his wife had passed away.

The beauty was best-known for her work with Ashley Stewart, being the face of Jill Scott’s Butterfly Bra, a cameo in the movie “Road Trip,” and serving as Creative Editor-at-Large for Plus Model Magazine.

Editor Madeline Jones wrote in a blog post on Wednesday:

Mia was a super model and industry leader because it was her love fo
r the women she represented that kept pushing her when the industry itself did not embrace her. Anyone else would have given up, but Mia remained steadfast in her career, knowing that she was not just doing it for her own benefit, but for women of all ages. Never one to put anyone down, Mia was about lifting up people and connecting them with others to help them on their journey and never asking for anything in return.

In a statement to The Huffington Post, Jones said: “Davis was a wonderful wife, caring daughter and loyal friend who will be missed dearly. The Plus Model Magazine family is deeply saddened by the loss of our sister and want to thank our readers for their support and prayers. Our June issue will feature Mia on the cover as a very special tribute to our angel.”

The Heat Is On RIM To Deliver New Products, Say Analysts

Source: www.thestar.com - LuAnn LaSalle

(July 13, 2011) BlackBerry maker
Research In Motion will need to deliver strong new devices on time to win back consumers who have bought Apple’s iPhone and Android smartphones, analysts said Wednesday, a day after RIM’s shareholder meeting.

“From a consumer’s point of view, nothing has been holding them back from migrating towards the Android and Apple ecosystems,” said analyst Anil Doradla of William Blair & Co.

“You’ve got this whole large set of people who have upgraded their phones over the last two years and they did not go with a RIM phone. It’s going to be so much more difficult for RIM to get back these guys,” Doradla said.

Doradla noted that RIM has put out few new devices in the last two years while Apple has updated its iPhone and consumers have been able to choose from numerous Android smartphones at a wide range of prices.

“It’s a question of whether they are going to be on the fringes or they’re just going to be a non-entity. They are not going to be coming back to their glorious past.”

RIM shares (TSX: RIM) dipped in afternoon trading a day after co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis admitted at the company’s annual meeting that it could be doing better in some areas. But they remained upbeat that an upcoming new generation of high-end BlackBerrys will drive stronger results.

A number of recent troubles have attracted criticism and depressed RIM’s stock value, including the lacklustre debut of its PlayBook tablet, a cut to its financial guidance and a plan to lay off some staff. Research In Motion also has been criticized for taking too long to get out its new devices and not being able to capitalize on the popularity of consumer software applications likes games, puzzles, music and other diversions.

RIM’s BlackBerry blog said its BlackBerry App World recently had more than one billion downloads, a milestone reached after more than two years. By comparison, Apple’s App Store said it reached one billion downloads in 2009, nine months after it opened.

The RIM executives said a new slate of smartphones with an updated operating system will be ready to hit the market in the coming months. They also said a new generation of BlackBerrys with the same operating system as the PlayBook tablet will help secure the company’s future success when they debut next year.

RIM shares were down 44 cents or almost 1.6 per cent at $27.08 on Toronto Stock Exchange, far below their 52-week peak of $69.30 but above the low of $25.28. In 2008, shares were trading at $140.

Northern Securities technology analyst Sameet Kanade said RIM’s constant message of “everything will be fine, we are in a transition phase _ please believe in us” is wearing thin.

“Unless we see a positive buildup in market share and positive sell-through of smartphones and tablet PlayBooks, I think for us it’s going to be a matter of standing on the sidelines,” Kanade said from Toronto.

“They have gone in four years from being a leader to a reactor, to sort of a follower of what’s going in the space and too late to market to recognize the threat of the iPhone and more importantly, right now, the threat of Google’s open platform, Android.”

But BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long, still bullish on RIM, said the new BlackBerrys with updated operating systems that will be released in the coming months are a positive “product refresh.”

“We maintain our ‘outperform rating,’“ Long said in a research note. “We continue to believe that sentiment is far too negative. We believe the product refresh will help sales and EPS (earnings per share) rebound.”


Musical Heavyweights Won’t Burden You

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry

(July 13, 2011) Physically, they're each too slight for the name, but musically, The Heavyweights Brass Brand packs a wallop.

The group is comprised of five twentysomething musicians, graduates of some of the top jazz and classical music programs across North America, who have proven themselves as sought-after sidemen on Toronto's diverse music scene.

Since Heavyweights was established in 2009, the fivesome has perfected their mash-up of blues, R&B, pop, funk, soul, and jazz standards delivered New Orleans style at regular gigs at local haunts, such as the Painted Lady and The Rex.

They've stepped up this summer with the release of debut album Don't Bring Me Down, now getting spins on CBC Radio and Jazz.FM 91 and high-profile gigs like this weekend's free show at the Beaches International Jazz Festival.

The self-financed album, which includes covers of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson tunes as well as originals, was a hit at the HMV tent after Heavyweights' Canada Day concert at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

A true collective with all members contributing to composing and arranging, the group aims for “music that moves people” rather than the erudite modern jazz all that education, including two masters degrees, amongst them might augur.

“It's taking the spirit of improvising and spirit of jazz and all the skills we have and finding a way to make that music accessible, appealing and relevant to people that don't necessarily have an interest in jazz, but just like great music,” said sousaphone player Rob Teehan of the output which includes Bob Marley and Fela Kuti songs and guest Cuban rapper Ogguere.

The Star checked in with the quintet whose horns are more and more often being hired out as a unit like the Dap-Kings or Tower of Power.

Chris Butcher, 25, trombone

Said he was inspired to form the Heavyweights after encountering bona fide brass-band music on a trip to New Orleans. He grew up in Winnipeg with bandmate Paul Metcalfe, who lauded his pal's “strong tone and succinct melodies,” adding “It's hard sometimes to not play along with him when he solos.” Butcher also performs with an eclectic group of ensembles, including salsa bands and Jamaican reggae singer Jay Douglas.

Rob Teehan, 28, sousaphone

The Oshawa native and Juno-nominated classical composer arranged the group's versions of Bill Withers' “Just the Two of Us” and Beyoncé's “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).” “When you strip them down they're actually great songs; and you put your own stamp on it rhythmically and with the brass-band vibe,” said the former classical tuba player who has distinguished himself by playing basslines on the sousaphone.

Paul Metcalfe, 29, saxophones

Is credited with sparking the band's Top 40 reworkings by bringing in an arrangement of War's “Why Can't We Be Friends?” Metcalfe also plays with the Toronto Jazz Orchestra and quartets of Carissa Neufeld and Ken McDonald. Despite his mild-mannered mien, “Paul has got the most aggressive and powerful tenor sax sound,” said Butcher. “He's not afraid to wail, to hang on one note and just work it.”

Jon Challoner, 24, trumpet

The recipient of 2005's CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award as a high-schooler scored a Juno this year for playing on Jon McLeod's Rex Hotel Orchestra's Our First Set which was anointed Traditional Jazz Album of the Year. “His lines are just so full expression,” said Metcalfe of the Vancouver Island native. “He can play the most technically difficult stuff, but always sound so perfectly in the emotional vibe.”

Lowell Whitty, 22, drums

The Beach native's collaborators say he is “the most rooted in New Orleans music” and defined by his timing and energy. “He comes up with stuff that's just out of this world,” said Teehan. “He'll hit the cymbals stands, he'll hit the wall behind him, he's really bold and creative.” Whitty also leads his own band Notes and Noodles which fuses modern and free jazz with rock.

The Heavyweight Brass Band performs on the New Generation Stage at Woodbine Park (Lake Shore Blvd. E. & Northern Dancer Blvd.) at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Take Note

A quick overview of the offerings at the free, 23rd annual Beaches International Jazz Festival:

Woodbine Park Concerts: Friday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11:45 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Concerts on three outdoor stages. Upcoming local musicians as well as established Canadian acts, such as multiple-Juno winners Carole Pope and Andy Kim, and out-of-towners like Big Sam's Funky Nation from New Orleans.

TD Music Workshops & Lecture Series: July 18 to 20.

The weekday programming, including Heather Bambrick's jazz-vocal boot camp, concert photos with Igor Vidyashev and Latin percussion with Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo, is meant to enhance concertgoing. Mennonite New Life Centre, 1774 Queen St. E., and Corpus Christi Church, 1810 Queen St. E., 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Beaches Jazz StreetFest: July 21 to 23

More than 50 bands perform along a closed two-kilometre stretch of Queen St. E., showcasing big band, swing, Dixieland, post-bop, Afro-Cuban, smooth, fusion, funk, R&B and soul. 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Kew Gardens: July 23 & 24, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The fest winds down with a diverse group of headliners, including the Afro-Cuban rooted Iroko Project, four-time Blues Music Award winners The Duke Robillard Band and bhangra brass band Red Baraat.

A Reason to Live: The Pack A.D., "Sirens" (Mint)

Source: www.thestar.com -
by: Ben Rayner

(July 13, 2011) You’d be hard pressed to find a couple of gals in Canada right now who rock harder or work harder than Becky Black and Maya Miller of the
Pack A.D.

Their primal, blues-derived guitar-and-drums stomp is getting better and better as time goes on, too, even – dare I say it? – developing some subtleties. Witness the new single, “Sirens,” which finds Black’s mighty bellow continuing the rapid maturation process begun on 2010’s wicked We Kill Computers and polishing itself up nicely into a menacing, dismissive snarl reminiscent of both Chrissie Hynde and Siouxsie Sioux. There are, will wonders never cease, even harmonies. The Pack’s hard-charging maxi-minimalism, meanwhile, is as thrilling direct and to-the-point as ever, this time basically reduced to a single, giant Black riff coiling itself around Miller’s powerhouse pounding and coiling itself further into the deepest recesses of your consciousness. Play this tune three or four times and you’ll be hearing it in your dreams. Which would be pretty rad, actually.

Detroit garage-rock supremo Jim Diamond – who’s worked with the White Stripes, the Dirtbombs and Toronto’s catl, among many others – produced the Pack’s forthcoming fourth album, Unpersons, and his presence is definitely felt in the dynamics department on “Sirens.” He’s a good fit for these two, methinks, and I have my suspicions that the new album is going to be the best Pack A.D. record yet. If only because, as noted above, the Pack A.D. keeps getting better and better as time goes on. Mind you, any band that tours as much as this one should be.

Unpersons comes out Sept. 13. Have a listen to “Sirens” below.

Local Talent Adds To Sharp Day At Edgefest

www.thestar.com - By Nick Krewen

(Jul 10, 2011) The sun wasn’t the only thing blazing at Downsview Park this past Saturday.

The 17 acts that comprised
Edgefest 2011 all packed their own heat, offering a solid 10-and-a-half hour marathon of sweltering rock ’n’ roll in various guises, headlined by Chicago melodic punk activists Rise Against and eagerly lapped up by 16,000 ecstatic beer-swilling music aficionados.

A stellar lineup split between two stages that included A Perfect Circle, Winnipeg’s Weakerthans and new blues rock sensations The Sheepdogs, bolstered by a local contingent that included a healthy representation from the Hamilton/Burlington area (Arkells, The Reason and the newer wave of Monster Truck, Harlan Pepper, San Sebastian and Sandman Viper Command, please take a bow) and Toronto’s own Dinosaur Bones and Ko reveals just how much immense and promising talent much of the 416/905 Golden Horseshoe area has developed and delivered over the past decade.

That fact was not lost on Rise Against singer Tim McIlrath, who repeatedly complimented the Toronto scene, namedropping Billy Talent, Cancer Bats and others, and gratefully mentioning “how fortunate we are to be playing with great bands.”

Of course, Rise Against can count itself as prominent among the polished, capping the evening with a furious 90-minute hardcore assault of sober social and political messages that began with “Critical Mass” and ended with the night’s only encore, a rapid fire trilogy of “Entertainment”/ “Savior”/ “Give It All.”

“I missed Canada,” McIlrath said at one point, as the four-piece band performed against a backdrop of a clenched fist penetrating the American flag, and a wall of speakers that stretched the width of the stage.

Despite its dominantly aggressive set liberally extracted from its four most recent albums, including 2011’s Endgame, Rise Against did leave room for nuance: Midway through the show, McIlrath was left alone on stage to strum acoustic for “Swing Life Away,” continuing on the same path for “Hero of War” until band mates Zach Blair, Joe Principe and Brandon Barnes rejoined him to pump up the song to a powerful climax.

McIlraith’s personal engagement was a stark antithesis to the lead up set by A Perfect Circle, touring for the first time in seven years.

The brainchild of guitarist Billy Howerdel and Tool singer Maynard Keenan was anything but touchy-feely, although, let’s face it, the pigtailed Keenan is the poster child for alienation.

Commencing with the subdued tones of “Annihilation,” Keenan was isolated on a riser situated well behind Howerdel and bassist Matt McJunkins, and moved little during his performance except for the occasional side-to-side swaying while watching Howerdel or second guitarist James Iha play their blistering solos.

But he sang well during the short-and-sweet 50-minute set — “Weak And Powerless,” the brand new “By & Above” and the detached cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” being particular standouts — even if he appeared to just be putting in the requisite amount of effort and time needed to perform the gig.

A Perfect Circle’s cold exterior aside, you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to work on your tan while listening to great — and mainly Canadian — music.

The crowd was an even-steven male to female ratio of music lovers ranging from their 20s-to-40s, and the chance to walk around with some beer and enjoy healthy food fare like wraps, steak, portobello and pulled pork sandwiches — as well as the standard concert fare of burgers and pizza — was a refreshing change.

If there was a blemish on the Edgefestivities, the sole disappointment was the side stage whenever sets with the main stage overlapped. The fact that side stage bands continued to perform with the main acts infiltrating their eardrums was nothing short of impressive, although sympathies are particularly extended to Harlan Pepper, whom, besieged by a technical difficulty that silenced guitarist Jimmy Hayes for most of the set and then were cut short, managed to impress all the same with their blues-tinged music.

And although the “Edge” in Edgefest might refer to innovative music, the next big thing may ironically be Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs, a four-piece throwback to the halcyon Southern rock era of The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Led by the whiskey-soaked tenor of Ewan Currie, the shaggy-haired Sheepdog sound harkens back to blues-driven guitar solos and a healthy side order of jamming. Relegated to the sidestage, the band — which is currently the finalists for a Rolling Stone cover and next returns to Toronto for a not-so-surprising August 7 appearance at Beerfest — commanded its own vocal throng of diehard supporters.

They were amply rewarded with some fine showmanship from the duo of guitarist Leot Hanson and bass player Ryan Gullen, who arched backwards leaning against each other’s shoulders while playing some fine licks. “Southern Dreaming” and “I Don’t Know” were the 20-minute set highlights, but upon watching and hearing them you can understand how the U.S. will be clamouring for them in the very near future.

Shout-outs as well to the confetti-filled Hollerado; aggressive urban funkster KO and Arkells, whose energetic rendition of “John Lennon” left the crowd begging for more.

Toronto Pop Chronicles: The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever?

www.thestar.com - By Geoff Pevere

(Jul 8, 2011) If you attended the event that would come to be called “the greatest jazz concert ever” at Massey Hall in May 1953, the first thing you probably noticed was how many people didn’t attend. The joint held about 2,700 people, and there were maybe 600 or so there.

From his perch in the balcony, 20-year-old Don Brown could see just how few people had turned up to see the bebop dream show of the century: Charlie Parker on alto sax, Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, Charles Mingus on bass, Bud Powell on piano and Max Roach on drums. Considering what he knew about its organization, he wasn’t surprised.

“I’m sure a lot of people didn’t know about it,” says Brown, 79 and still an avid jazz nut.

“Because the organizer Dick Wattam was a really a crazy guy. He decided they didn’t need ads. Well, that’s ridiculous. When Norman Granz brought Jazz at the Philharmonic to Massey Hall every September he bought full page ads in the Star, the Telegram and the Globe and Mail. I mean you have to advertise. Wattam said ‘No no no no. Word of mouth. Word of mouth. It’ll be mentioned on the radio and everybody will run down to buy tickets.’

The former CBC Radio business manager chuckles. “It didn’t happen.”

By spring 1953, Brown had been an obsessive jazz fanatic for six years. It was Duke Ellington who’d first seized his ear, but he was eventually won over by the new sounds emanating from the instruments of people like Parker and Gillespie. Some called it bebop, some called it new jazz, many just dismissed it as noise.

“If you asked me how these people were perceived at the time I’d have to say they were legends even then,” Brown recalls. “However, there was this terrible schism and the musicians didn’t do it, it was the writers. The people who wrote for Metronome magazine and Downbeat magazine. Especially Metronome.

“I don’t know if you’ve heard of Leonard Feather. The intelligent guy at Metronome was a guy named Barry Ulanov . . . He championed Dizzy and Parker and Lenny Tristano and all those people, but he didn’t turn on his back on the earlier music. That was what their music was based on, you know? And that was the way the musicians felt too. They were trying to do new things but they certainly weren’t putting down their predecessors. But you get a guy like (critic) Leonard Feather comes along. He loved this modern stuff so he started calling anyone who listened to Dixieland a ‘mouldy fig.’ ”

There were only a few figs at Massey Hall that night, and at least one of them would pan the show mightily the next day in The Globe and Mail. Once again, Brown wasn’t surprised, although he did write a letter to the editor defending his heroes, their performance and their concertedly chaotic lack of decorum: the event started late (Parker had missed his plane), Gillespie kept offering up-to-the-minute news flashes from the championship bout (at Chicago Stadium) between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott, Parker wandered across the street for double scotches at the Silver Rail, and Mingus stood behind his bass looking steamed most of the night.

“Dizzy who was interested in the fight,” Brown explains. “He kept running backstage to check on the fight. The fight hadn’t started and he keeps coming out and telling us about all the preliminary bouts, and I doubt there were many people there who really cared. Then the main bout, I don’t think it even lasted 60 seconds. Marciano knocked Walcott flat and that was it. Dizzy was making a big fuss and he’s got his head in his hands. I remember Mingus looking at him like ‘Let’s get on with the music. What’s this all about?’ Mingus didn’t have much patience with that kind of stuff and Dizzy was always a clown. But I mean he was a pretty reliable guy but that night it was chaos. It was really chaos.”

Chaos might have reigned among the musicians in their attitude and behaviour, but the music they made was something else, as anyone who’d heard the classic recording of the evening Jazz at Massey Hall, can testify.

Brown remembers heading home on the new subway with his friend and feeling good. He’d seen Gillespie and Parker for the very first time, and they’d knocked him out. He forgave the on -and offstage antics as part of the package, the byproducts of rule-shattering music genius. That’s why he was so miffed when he saw Robert Fulford’s review of the event the next day in the Globe.

“I guess back then we were used to musicians having a sense of discipline,” he says. “All the musicians wore sharp suits and shiny shoes. They were on time. And when that concert took place would be about the time I guess Kerouac and the Beat writers were emerging, and things were starting to get a little more chaotic.

“But I don’t think the audiences were ready for it. Certainly Fulford wasn’t. I think that’s what bothered him. The lack of decorum.”

What Brown didn’t learn until later was just how much decorum was lacking, and how it had gone AWOL both onstage and off. Parker had had to practically be dragged back from the Silver Rail after the (extended naturally) intermission and when it was over, Wattam informed the musicians he didn’t have enough money to pay them. Ticket sales were too meagre. That’s when Mingus commandeered the tapes that had been made of the event in the booth above the stage. And that’s how history really got made: the recordings, even with some studio overdubs of Mingus’s under-recorded bass playing (according to Brown, the jazz-hating technician at Massey had walked out of the booth without properly setting levels), went on to become Jazz at Massey Hall, a gold-standard recording of five brilliant musicians who would never gather together again anywhere.

“We expected something special and in retrospect it was,” Don Brown says. “But I sort of laugh at the ‘the greatest jazz concert ever’ thing. I don’t think it was that. But then if you asked me what was I’d have a hard time telling you. I saw so many great jazz concerts. But boy it was certainly an experience.”

U2: Turn Off The Decline

www.thestar.com - By Ben Rayner

(Jul 10, 2011) Let's get one thing straight here before we go any further: I don't hate U2.

There was once a time, in fact, when the Irish quartet ranked up there with my favourite bands. I was fully obsessed as a kid. Practically wore out my cassette copies of War and The Unforgettable Fire, loved The Joshua Tree as much as everyone else, was still right there along with the band through the spellbinding experimentation of Achtung Baby and Zooropa. And then, suddenly, U2 lost its way.

Pop was the turning point, not just because that oft-maligned 1997 album was the first truly weak entry in the U2 catalogue but because it marked the beginning of U2 pulling its punches. After the electronically enhanced excursions of Zooropa, the band crowed long and loud about making a full-tilt dance record the next time out, enlisting such electro-savvy chaps as Flood, Howie B. and Nellee Hooper to bring those aspirations to life. Yet the work that eventually surfaced from those sessions sounded every bit like the “compromise project” guitarist the Edge would later call it; it sounded like a record by a group that had gotten cold feet midway through the recording process and then hastily backtracked to behaving more recognizably like itself out of fear of alienating its audience.

That's the way I heard it, anyway — and I think I was right, given the unsubtle retreat to its “classic” sound that the band would make three years later on All That You Can't Leave Behind after Pop's perceived commercial failure — and I've never forgiven U2 for it.

When U2 traded fearless artistic exploration for playing it safe and pandering to the tastes of those who would have preferred it if time had stood still after Rattle and Hum, U2 betrayed its own proud tradition of artistic integrity and, from my perspective, ceased to be the band that I had grown up admiring so much.

I'd love the group to make a great record again, though, and was disappointed that 2009's encouragingly adventurous, yet tunelessly dreary No Line on the Horizon wasn't it. And I'll be going into Monday night's Rogers Centre stop on the U2 360° tour — a makeup date from last year, when frontman Bono had to interrupt the band's world travels to recover from emergency back surgery — hoping for a performance by a band that still plays like it's got something to prove.

I don't think U2 is beyond rescue. I think there's hope yet. I think there's still time. So, in a spirit of tough love, here are some proposals for how U2 might yet save itself from itself.

 • Muzzle Bono. Yes, we can tell the man cares deeply about everything, but he's U2's worst enemy. The more his little black book has swollen with the numbers of world leaders and other global power players during his crusade to save the world, the more insufferable he's become.

True, you can't fault the man for pushing social causes such as the fight against AIDS in Africa and the eradication of Third World debt, but at some point Bono started to believe in his own sainthood and every utterance became a Statement. It's a noble thing to offer a shout-out to someone like Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi onstage every night, yet these acts have taken on an air of self-aggrandizement over the years.

Perhaps it's time to stop speechifying and simply be a rock star again. It would make the music go down much easier.

 • Lose the trappings. The U2 360° tour — reportedly on target to gross $700 million by the time it's over, making it the most financially successful in history — is a technical marvel, no doubt about it, and you'll get a lot of bang for your 265 bucks at the Rogers Centre on Monday. The centrepiece of the current stage show is a four-pronged, 47-metre-high (150-foot) mechanical doodad known as “the Claw” that holds the production's lighting rigs and LED screens and looms over much of the stadiums in which the band is playing, drawing spectators inside the performance. They had to build a $3-million temporary stadium on a disused racetrack to house it for the band's two shows in Montreal over the weekend.

It's cool stuff to look at. But the dazzling technology and staging has somewhat overwhelmed the band itself on the past few tours, leaving Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr., looking rather dissociated from one another onstage and, not surprisingly, resulting in playing that sounds much the same: distanced. And let's not forget what can happen when things go wrong. The giant lemon employed on the 1997 PopMart tour infamously trapped the band inside during one date when it wouldn't open on command.

Wouldn't it be a refreshing change of pace to see U2 go out on a small-venue tour again, or at least a stripped-down arena jaunt minus all the distracting bells and whistles where the music was placed front and centre again? A smaller stage would allow the band to interact closely as musicians again, without the constant worry of stepping into an open trap door at stage left, or being annihilated by a jet of pyro, or plowed over by an enormous piece of mechanical fruit.

It would also give us, the audience, a chance to appreciate the songs as songs, not the centrepiece of a musical-theatre production, once again.

 • Act your age. There are rumoured to be something like four new U2 albums in various stages of completion at the moment, including the on-again/off-again No Line on the Horizon companion piece, Songs of Ascent, and yet another stab at a full-on dance record. Producers who've recently linked with the band include genre-bending visionary Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley notoriety), Lady Gaga's collaborator RedOne and the ubiquitous Rick Rubin.

The latter partnership apparently didn't gel, but Rubin would be a sensible choice. He's the consummate salvage man, responsible in recent years for resurrecting the careers of such oldsters as Neil Diamond and the late Johnny Cash and for making Metallica sound like Metallica again on 2008's Death Magnetic. He's a songs-first kind of guy and he seems to have an ear for the essence of his musical charges and would, thus, make a much more logical sounding board for the next U2 album than, say, house-music producer David Guetta, with whom the 50-ish band briefly considered working this year.

We don't need U2 trying to sound like a dance-pop outfit 20 years its junior at this stage in the game; we need a U2 that acknowledges its “mature” status and makes music reflective of that context.

 • Have a sense of humour. “The right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear,” sang Bono on 2009's “Moment of Surrender,” one of the few No Line on the Horizon cuts to surface on the current tour's set list. And the members of U2 have indeed been known to engage in some ridiculous behaviour over the years, ranging from the aforementioned giant lemon to Bono and the Edge's recent participation in scoring the infamous Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. A musical about a superhero is, after all, about as ridiculous as ridiculous gets.

Yet while there was a whiff of pranksterism to the largesse of the PopMart tour and its celebrated predecessor, the Zoo TV tour — wherein Bono would adopt the devilish alter ego of his MacPhisto character and pull stunts such as ringing up Salman Rushdie for a late-night chat during the middle of the set — it's given way to the self-important seriousness discussed above.

It would be nice to witness U2 having a laugh once in awhile and acknowledging the abject lunacy and excess of its situation. That would be comfortingly humanizing.

 • Just be a band. At the Grammy Awards in 2001, Bono declared that U2 — then just unleashing the classicist All That You Can't Leave Behind upon the world at large — was “reapplying for the job .. . . (of) the best band in the world.” And therein lies the problem: U2 has struggled so hard since Pop's middling performance to prove itself the biggest and the best band on the planet that it's lost sight of the creative spark that drove it to those heights in the first place.

Madonna couldn't be queen of the castle forever, as much as she tried, and now looks deposed in the wake of Lady Gaga's rise. U2 has had young turks like Radiohead and Coldplay nipping at its heels for years, and it's inevitable that someone will come along to knock it down into second or third or fourth place. Nothing lasts forever. Now is the time to show a little modesty, dig deep and concentrate on leaving another lasting work or two to shore up its embattled legacy.

Leave us a few more tunes to remember you fondly by, U2. You've had a damn good run.

Blind Guitarist’s U2 Dream Comes True

www.thestar.com - By Star staff

(Jul 8, 2011) Mesa, Ariz. guitar player Adam Bevell, a dedicated U2 fan who has attended more than a dozen of the band’s live concerts all over the U.S., was hauled unexpectedly into the spotlight of his dreams Saturday night when singer Bono invited him up from the audience to play.

At the end of U2’s concert in Nashville, in front of 50,000 people, Bono spotted the 36-year-old father of four holding up a sign his brother-in-law had scrawled during the show at the Vanderbilt Stadium. It read: “Blind Guitar Player. Bring Me Up.”

The rock star then hung his extremely rare green
Gretsch Irish Falcon guitar over Bevell’s shoulder.

“It took me a second,” Bevell later told a reporter with TV station KPHO, a CBS affiliate in Phoenix.

“I had no idea what was going on because in my mind they had (already) walked off. I had no idea Bono was still there.

“I was lifted over that front rail and hoisted on stage by the security guards. Before I knew it, I could hear Bono's voice saying, ‘What do you want to play, man?’”

Bevell suggested U2's “All I Want is You”, and, when Bono prompted him, dedicated the song to his wife, Andrea. Once Bono was comfortable with Bevell’s assured strum, he started singing. The other band members joined in on the chorus.

Numerous videos of the event have been
posted to YouTube, and Bevell’s Facebook band page is loaded with fans’ approving accounts of and testaments to the moving performance.

Performing with his favourite rock band was beyond his wildest dreams, Bevell said later, but the crowning moment came when Bono handed him back the priceless instrument after the guitarist had unstrapped it at the end of the song.

“I took the guitar off and handed it to him, and then he turned and said. ‘I want you to have it’,” said Bevell.

“For me, it was just an out-of-body experience. I was there, but I was floating. It was the most amazing experience.”

Finding His Voice, Off The Air

Source: www.thestar.com - By Garnet Fraser

(Jul 13, 2011) If you’re not one of his crowd,
Adam Carolla dropped off your radar completely a few years ago. That’s just fine by him.

“I turned down a multi-year, multimillion-dollar offer to go on to terrestrial radio,” Carolla, 47, says over the phone. He doesn’t sound crazy and he isn’t; comedy’s Podfather (with possible apologies to Ricky Gervais) has built one of the secret empires of the Internet.

You may only know him from co-hosting cable’s The Man Show with Jimmy Kimmel, or maybe from his 10 years (ending in 2005) co-hosting Loveline, the syndicated radio show airing on Edge 102.1 in Toronto. If so, you’ve missed a lot. His Adam Carolla Show podcast, unfamiliar to many but treasured by Carolla’s legions, has grown from something to fill the void when his own CBS radio show got axed to a thriving, lucrative business.

More than that, it’s a platform for Carolla to build his brand — his recent book, his new series The Car Show on Speed TV, a burgeoning website hosting podcasts by a half-dozen others — and to talk himself hoarse about politics, traffic and whatever else he can wring laughs out of.

“I got into it for fairly pure reasons,” he says from Los Angeles before his standup date Friday at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. “I didn’t look down the road and think, ‘This is what will make me rich.’ I just thought this is a place where I can express myself, where I can get my voice out there.”

Since he began regularly podcasting in February 2009, many comedians have followed him into the still-young form, but few have emulated him in embracing the morning-radio model: the podcast’s up every weekday with a bit of news, an interview and a lot of highly discursive commentary, suitable for keeping you company on a long commute.

“I always loved radio and was intrigued by radio. But I wasn’t raised by the kind of people or in the kind of neighbourhood where you got to do what you wanted to do. You did what you had to do for a living and other people got to do what they wanted.”

As he laid out in last year’s book, In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks, a young Carolla — a lifelong Californian with creative impulses but little training — strived to do something, anything comedic in his 20s, eventually scheming his way onto local radio with Kimmel. (That was in the early ’90s, he explains, “before there were 500 TV stations. . . . There’s no excuse for not working in television now.”) Along the way, he did standup, but as he recalls now, “I didn’t much like it. I didn’t find my voice; I was an impersonation of a standup comic.”

On the podcast, clearly, is where he found that voice. On any given day he’ll be holding forth, usually in a gently annoyed tone, about anything from bad design to bad driving to U2. (From May: “Here’s my challenge to Bono; how about I take Bob Seger and I send him to your native Ireland and I just have him complain about sh---y Ireland and how the people could be giving more and they could be doing more and they’re using too much gas . . . Bono, all he does is come over here and bother us.”)

As the proud holder of the world record for most downloaded podcast (a title wrested from Gervais), Carolla decided to go back onstage, vowing to find his style. He now draws hundreds of fans (“I’m always surprised, and pleased and confused that so many people show up”) to road dates like Friday’s, to hear him make sport of mostly smallish annoyances like, he notes on the phone, the rote safety instructions at the start of a flight “warning me not to ‘tamper with, disable or destroy the smoke detector.’ Doesn’t ‘tampering’ cover it? You know you’ve joined the ranks of the hack comedians with that stuff, but you can’t help it.”

Fans commonly throng after the show to meet Carolla, he says, and the connection forged with his growing audience clearly pleases a former construction worker who prefers to have concrete evidence of his talents rather than vaguely sourced confidence.

“I don’t have low self-esteem, I have no self-esteem. There’s a difference. I know I’m funny, I’m the funniest person on the planet. The thing is, does anyone care?”

Donlon out at CBC

www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(Jul 8, 2011) Denise Donlon has been shuffled out of the top slot at CBC Radio following corporation management changes announced Friday.

Named executive director of English-language radio operations in 2008 by Richard Stursberg, the former head of CBC's English-language services, Donlon was largely an administrative chief and a respected figurehead with high-profile broadcasting experience as a host and producer with MuchMusic, and as president of Sony Music Canada.

She will be replaced by Chris Boyce, CBC Radio's programming director, who has been responsible for many of the content innovations on the network over the past three years. Boyce will assume both programming and administrative roles.

The restructuring fallout surprised few people at CBC, where incoming English services chief Kirstine Stewart has been disassembling key elements of Stursberg's strategy since his sudden departure in 2010.

Kirstine is focused entirely on content and programming,” Boyce said. “At a time when the media business is going through profound changes, CBC Radio is in fantastic shape, with numerous platforms for digital audiences. Radio One's audience is 50 per cent larger than it was 10 years ago.”

Donlon, who is married to Canadian songwriter and musician Murray McLauchlan, was unavailable Friday for comment.

“Denise was a fabulous person to work for,” Boyce said. “I'll miss her energy and commitment to public broadcasting.”

Jennifer Hudson Says Slim Size Means More Designers are Calling


(July 11, 2011) *Since Jennifer Hudson lost 88 pounds, she’s become the spokesperson for weight loss, not to mention a favourite of high fashion designers.

In a recent photo shoot, she showed off her new slimmed down shape and size 6 body. She said the health change has transformed her perspective overall and given her more opportunities in life.

In an interview with the
Daily Mail, when asked if the odds are against plus-size women in the entertainment industry, she said it’s not too bad.

”No, because I was doing OK before. But the truth is, so many more opportunities open up when you’re on the other side, as I am now. I’d no idea what I was missing out on. It’s like a whole other world. Suddenly every designer wants to dress you. It’s like, ‘You look amazing! Please, choose a dress. Have a bag. And what about shoes?’ I mean, wow!” Ultimately Jenn says her look comes down to one thing, comfort. “My look is led by what I feel good in. If I’m not comfortable in something, I won’t wear it – no matter whose name is on the label.”

And her son with fiancé David Otunga, she says is basically a reflection of herself.

“He’s very much his own person, a little performer who loves to sing and dance,’ she says. ‘He’s so charming, too. Yes, I’m biased, but I’ve never seen a child with such presence. [...] When I was little I used to itch at night, so my mom would scratch me [Jennifer runs her fingertips up and down an imaginary body] and he’s just the same. It’s our little ritual. Every night he goes, ‘Itch! Itch!’ It’s like seeing myself all over again.”

Joe’s Back in Action: His Mission is to Save R&B


(July 9, 2011) *After two years of keeping a low profile, singer Joe is ready to release his ninth studio album called “The Good, The Bad, The Sexy.”

“This is a great album, more mainstream,”
Joe tells Singersroom. “Different from ‘Signature’ completely. It’s really more mainstream, and still a mix between mainstream and that classic Joe.”

He doesn’t anticipate a huge new fan base, at least those who are into the pop and the dance sound R&B is generating these days.

“I wouldn’t say it’s more dancing. My first single, I would say, is more on the dance side. [But] I wouldn’t say dance because when you say dance nowadays, you’re going more European. Usher’s done a few dance records now, and quite a few [other artists] have too. Everyone’s pretty much going that dance route,” the singer explains. “But if it doesn’t fit me or my style, I just think my fans would be utterly disappointed in me going that direction. So I tried to give them something of what they’re used to and something they haven’t heard before just to spark them up a little.”

The singer expressed his true feelings about music these days, saying it’s taken a turn in a direction R&B was never to take. He says it sounds more mainstream and blends with Pop. But he did lament that he understands that people are just trying to get their hustle on and “ride the wave.”

It’s a struggle out here to continue to do what you do, [which] becomes monotonous to people’s thinking. I can’t really say who is really holding it down like that because it’s a struggle for all of us in the R&B game to deliver good music, remain honest, do what you’re doing, and be successful at it as well.”

Marsha Ambrosius is Just Stating the Obvious with New Video


(July 8, 2011) *Marsha Ambrosius has had a stand out year and is making a bold statement with her debut album, “Late Nights, Early Mornings.”

Pushing the envelope and pressing the issue of
homosexuality, the singer released a video that put away any doubts about what she was trying to say before.

In an interview with
Singersroom, she shared that the video is just stating the obvious.

Late Nights & Early Mornings‘ is a video that attacks the obvious. It’s something near and dear to me, and I’m responsible for making very sensually charged music. So my only thing is, I would have a million dollars for everyone that told me they would make babies or something off of my music. And I was like, ‘Is no one having protected sex out here?! What the hell?!’ the songstress jokes.

“So I did my video, which states the obvious, like some people don’t know their status. The feedback for the video was like ‘I can’t believe you slept with guy, knowing he had…’ Well what if you didn’t know? Some people are genuinely not conscious of what’s going on with themselves, don’t get checked, don’t get tested. So I was just stating the obvious.”

In the meantime, she’s the opening act alongside her peer Keyshia Cole during R. Kelly’s “
Love Letters” tour.


Rihanna to Front Emporio Armani Ad Campaign


(July 11, 2011) *Rihanna is following in the footsteps of actress Megan Fox in signing on to become a spokesmodel for Emporio Armani’s underwear and jeans collection. The singer will grace billboards worldwide beginning in September, according to WENN. British soccer star David Beckham and his wife Victoria previously fronted ads for the underwear line, as did Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Adele's Bonus Bummer

www.thestar.com - by: Garnet Fraser

(July 12, 2011) 
Adele's sad again.  Her young body of work isn't all melancholy - there's a "Rumour Has It

" every so often - but that's what Adele is certainly known for. So it's only to be expected that, at the recent iTunes festival in London, she covered one of the more effective sonic gut-punches of recent pop history, Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."  If you don't know the story behind the 1991 hit, country songwriters Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin plucked the title from a man's comments to a judge. The defendant was facing sentencing after getting drunk and shooting at his girlfirend's car. Asked what he'd learned, he said, "You can't make a woman love you if she don't." Thwarted bids for affection being, like we say, Adele's stock in trade, it's not surprising that she nails it. Enjoy.

 Adele - I Can't Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt Cover) by ListenBeforeYouBuy

Sean Kingston Back to Work

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jul 13, 2011) *After suffering critical injuries in a near death jet ski
accident, Sean Kingston is back to work. He was seen with a wrist brace at a video shoot Saturday in Miami for Iyaz, a Myspace sensation, alongside Soulja Boy and Travie McCoy. Although he wore the brace, the singer appeared healthy. The accident left him with a broken jaw, fractured wrist, and water in his lungs. He was hospitalized for more than three weeks. He was released June 21. “Love my life,” he tweeted Saturday. “The Lord blessed me with a second chance at life and [I'm going to] cherish it…”

B.E.P. Take Another Hiatus

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jul 12, 2011) *The
Black Eyed Peas announced Sunday at a show at
Alton Towers in England in front of 18,000 fans that they will be taking an extended break from music for a long time. “This is a very special show for us,” revealed singer Fergie. “Because it is the last time we’re going to be in England for a long time. “We want you to know that we love you and thank you for the support you’ve given from the beginning. We’re going to be taking a break just like we did after we released Monkey Business in 2005 until we came back in 2009. But this isn’t going to be the last time you’ll see us.” The group is actually on tour right now in Europe and will be performing twice in the US before they begin their vacation. Later,  will.i.am confirmed this news on Twitter: “The @Bep will take a break after the beginning…just like we did from monkey business to the e.n.d…but it doesn’t mean we stop creating.” This will be the second hiatus the group has taken in less than 10 years. Who knows what they have up their sleeve for the future.


In 'Life, Above All,' Canadians Tell The Story Of Aids In Africa

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman

(Jul 12, 2011) It was all that death that gave birth to what would
become Life, Above All. Visiting Botswana in 2002 to research Chanda's Secrets, his award-winning book about AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Toronto-based author Allan Stratton was struck by a visit to a building supply centre that had been turned into a funeral parlour (a more lucrative venture, the proprietor had found). There was a room, Stratton will never forget it, filled floor to ceiling with tiny, foot-deep baby-sized pressboard coffins, spray painted pink or blue, with white plastic sheeting stapled on the inside as a lining.

"When I saw that, that's when I knew that was the scene that had to start the book," says Stratton.

It also informs the opening scene in Life, Above All, the film based on Chanda's Secrets. Directed by South African-born, Berlin-based filmmaker Oliver Schmitz, the film, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year, is in theatres Friday.

The film, set in a dusty South African village, centres on Chanda (newcomer Khomotso Manyaka), a 12-year-old girl whose mother (Lerato Mvelase) is dying of AIDS, but because of the shame associated with the disease, no one will admit it. As her mother - still mourning the death of her newborn - becomes more ill, Chanda takes over the household, looking after her two young half-siblings and her best friend Esther (Keaobaka Makanyane).

German producer Oliver Stoltz was at Hot Docs in Toronto with his documentary Lost Children in 2005 when Stratton sought his advice on what would become Chanda's Wars, a follow-up to Chanda's Secrets, which deals with the issue of child soldiers in Africa.

The communication ultimately led to Stoltz's interest in adapting Chanda's Secrets. Stratton recommended Vancouver-based screenwriter Dennis Foon. In early 2009, Foon travelled to South Africa with the Olivers, as they came to be known.

Like Stratton, Foon was forever changed by what he saw there. Hours after arriving in Johannesburg, Foon's driver took him to the cemetery in Soweto, where in a short period of time, he witnessed a steady parade of funerals.

"The cemetery in Soweto is gigantic. It dwarfs Arlington. It goes on forever. Just forever," says Foon. "The children's section is vast in itself. And if you can't afford a gravestone, people would just bring belongings of their kids [to mark the graves]. So it was a sea of bassinettes, baby cribs and sometimes toys. As a parent, as a human being, it was absolutely devastating to see something like that."

It was during that trip, while visiting Elandsdoorn (about 200 kilometres northeast of Johannesburg), which would become the film's location, that the decision was made to shoot the film not in English, as had been the plan, but in the local language of Sepedi (or Pedi).

Stratton flew to South Africa for part of the shoot in late 2009 - on his own dime. The film's tight budget meant Foon couldn't go.

Originally a German/South African/Canadian co-production, the film lost its Canadian producer when he was forced to drop out after exhausting Telefilm Canada funding.

But both Canadian writers were there when the film premiered at Cannes in May, 2010.

"We were terrified," Foon said. "Walking in the theatre with a gigantic screen and a thousand people who are seeing this film for the first time and you know that they're the worst snobs in the world. They have two knives in their hands and they're very, very sharp. And you know that the chances are that you're going to end up filleted.

"So we were expecting the worst and there was that pause when the credits roll and I thought 'Great, we're off the hook; at least they're not booing.' And then the theatre was just filled with this incredible thunderous ovation, people cheering and crying."

Stratton says he'd never encountered applause like that before. "We were all in tears and hugging each other and just in awe and it went on and on and on and I had no idea that it went 10 minutes until I read about it in Time magazine."

The personal thumbs-up from Roger Ebert after the screening was an added bonus. And, as it turned out, key to the film's future success. The film had not been on Sony Pictures Classics' radar until Ebert and Time's Richard Corliss and Mary Corliss raved about it over dinner with co-president Michael Barker. "And that's why Sony Classics picked up distribution rights," Foon said. Winning the François Chalais Prize at Cannes - recognizing films that demonstrate the values of life affirmation and journalism - probably helped too.

The glory of Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival screening which followed last September have stayed with the two Canadian writers, but more than anything, it's all that death - past and looming - that haunts them.

"Something that really stuck with me," says Foon, "was we visited the AIDS hospital [in Elandsdoorn] and in the clinic, there was a woman who was just flesh on bones, incredibly emaciated, and she asked us what we were doing. I said we're going to make a movie about the [AIDS] situation. And she said: 'Tell my story. Tell the world.' I said 'We will.' And we did."

Life, Above All is in theatres in Toronto and Montreal on Friday and in Vancouver on July 22.

Creditors Pull Plug On Inuit Film Company Behind Fast Runner

www.globeandmail.com - By Paul Waldie

(July 9, 2011) When Zacharias Kunuk won the Camera d'or for best first feature at Cannes in 2001, he was hailed as Canada's next great director.

A somewhat surprising star from a remote corner of Nunavut, Kunuk saw his haunting film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner go on to win worldwide acclaim, pulling in a host of awards, including the best Canadian feature at the Toronto International Film Festival that year and best feature at the 2002 Genie Awards.

The mythic tale of blood, love and revenge in the Far North has been billed as the first feature film written and shot entirely in Inuktitut and is considered by some critics to be one of the best films ever made in Canada. Atanarjuat helped garner Kunuk an Order of Canada in 2002 and vaulted him and co-producer Norman Cohn into the limelight, allowing them to make many more films, all focused on the North.

But their artistic success didn't bring financial success and their company,
Igloolik Isuma Productions, has had to pull the plug. After struggling for years, Isuma has been forced to file for receivership in Quebec, citing roughly $750,000 in debts. The move was imposed in late May by a Nunavut investment firm, Atuqtuarvik, which lent the company $500,000 in 2009.

The receivership ends a remarkable film venture that began more than 20 years ago when Cohn, a filmmaker from Montreal, met Kunuk, a Inuit videographer from Igloolik, Nunavut. "The interests we had fit together in a way that produced the results," said Cohn. "As a small Inuit-language film company, it's a miracle we were in business for 20 years in the first place."

Indeed, IIP pursued its mandate to illuminate Inuit history and culture with a remarkable mix of drama and documentary. Two features followed

Atanarjuat - a Danish co-production called The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006), which Kunuk and Cohn co-directed, and Before Tomorrow (2008), which won best Canadian first feature at TIFF for directors Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu (they're billed as The Fast Runner Trilogy). IIP's docs focused on subjects from shamanism and bowhead whale hunting to residential school testimonies. Their last two IIP productions, Exile and Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change were released in 2010.

The company's assets, including an extensive film archive, are now in the hands of a Montreal accounting firm, which plans to sell everything to recover money for creditors.

Cohn is worried about what will happen to the archive, which includes thousands of hours of interviews with Inuit elders, most of which has never been shown. In the footage, the elders recount family stories, provide detailed local history and offer rare insights into Inuit culture. Cohn wants it put in a museum and tried to persuade Atuqtuarvik, the company's largest creditor, to turn IIP's Igloolik office into a media museum instead of pushing for receivership.

"You have Inuit public agencies who never supported us very much in the first place putting their own cultural heritage in the hands of a receiver who can't get any cash value for those things right now," Cohn said from Montreal.

"We're dealing with a receiver that's a large accounting firm in Montreal who has no stake and no interest in the cultural value of the company or of the materials. We can tell them that we think they should preserve these materials but their job is to recover cash."

All the elders interviewed are dead, he added, so "in 100 years our films might be the Inuit Dead Sea scrolls. ... This is the Inuit story from the Inuit side."

Kunuk offered an example of what's in the collection - a 1992 interview with a group of elders discussing an Inuit song. "I wanted to understand [the song]. I asked what do they mean, what are they saying, how did they get the tunes," he said from Igloolik. "If the receiver was smart, they would put the material in a museum."

Atuqtuarvik's CEO Ken Toner defended his firm's actions, saying it supported Isuma for eight years and tried to keep it afloat this spring when it ran out of money. Kunuk and Cohn "are the ones who ran the company. They are the ones who made the decisions all the way along and at the end of the day they can't make any payments," Toner said from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. "The only way for us to have this be fair to all the creditors is a receivership."

The firm understands the importance of the archive, Toner said, and wants to see it preserved, preferably by a Nunavut buyer. The court-appointed receiver, Raymond Massi of RSM Richter, said he is also sensitive to the significance of the archive and if a suitable buyer can't be found, he will consider donating the footage.

Cohn said the receiver and Atuqtuarvik have a responsibility to safeguard the archive. "It's irreplaceable material. It never existed before and you can't make it again."

Both he and Kunuk also expressed frustration at the collapse of Isuma, which made roughly 40 films, but lurched from project to project on a shoestring budget. "You would like to think that there was a clamour for people to support us for the past 20 years, but as you can imagine that wasn't actually the case," said Cohn. "It was a struggle every year to keep our company going and finally we couldn't do it."

The Nunavut government was more interested in supporting mining and energy companies, he added, not film businesses, which bureaucrats viewed as "arts and crafts."

"Nunavut has never been able to support a professional film company. Their support has gotten weaker over the last few years, rather than stronger," said Cohn.

Kunuk said the success of Atanarjuat made things harder financially. "Everybody thought, 'You made this great film now you guys don't need help,' " he said. "Everybody is watching these Hollywood movies, they see these Hollywood actors make so much money and they thinks that's how the system works. But in Canada it's different. Even more different in Nunavut."

Court filings in Montreal illustrate just how bleak things got for Isuma in recent months. The company ran out of cash last January and laid off its small office staff. Money was so tight, IIP couldn't make a $2,900 monthly loan payment or afford to have someone prepare the 2010 financial statements. Atuqtuarvik pressed for receivership in May, when IIP defaulted on its $500,000 loan.

Kunuk said the receivership of Isuma won't stop him and Cohn from making more films. They have already formed a new film company and own the rights to the IIP movies, including Fast Runner, which they are making available through a website called Isuma.tv.

"I'm going to keep at it until I kick the bucket," said Kunuk. "I'm proud of what we've done [at IIP]. It's amazing to look back."

ABFF Founder Says Event Reflects Diversity in Film


(July 14, 2011) *It’s that time again to recognize the unsung heroes and sheroes of the acting industry with the prestigious American Black Film Festival/ABFF.

The event is taking place in Miami Beach  through July 9, and for the 15th year, will honour the great actors and actresses who bring a little color to the big and small screens.

Festival co-founder, Jeff Friday, is very excited about the event and is glad to see another year of positive reflection on Black actors.

“I had always been disturbed by images of people with color in films. There was always a level of struggle,” he told the Associated Press of Black people on the television shows he grew up watching, such as “Good Times” or “The Jeffersons.”

“I just didn’t see enough diversity.”

With his disgust in hand and need to see something better, he helped found the event. However, that was years ago and recognizes the slow and steady change. He says the industry does a much better job now. But of course, there will always be an opportunity to sing the praises of Black actors and filmmakers via the festival.

festival will include 20 independent films made by Black folks on Black issues and culture that will run through Saturday.

Among the anticipated films and appearances is
Eric Benet’s acting debut in “Trinity Goodheart written by Rhonda Freeman-Baraka.

“It’s a great depiction of an American black family,” director Joanna Hock said. “There needs to be an openness and acceptance to look at life in different ways and look at people in different ways and not be so dogmatic on we how approach relationships.”

There’s plenty more to see throughout the festival. Don’t miss it if you’re in town.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Set To Return To Acting

Source: www.thestar.com - By Sandy Cohen

(Jul 13, 2011) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—
Arnold Schwarzenegger said
he'd be back.

The former governor of California will return to acting with a starring role in the Lionsgate film "Last Stand." Schwarzenegger will play a border-town sheriff who unwittingly finds himself battling a notorious drug kingpin on the run.

Joe Drake, president of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said Schwarzenegger will "bring incredible magnetism" to the character of Sheriff Owens.

The role represents Schwarzenegger's first major movie role since 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." He made a cameo appearance in last summer's "The Expendables."

Drake said Schwarzenegger's appearance in that film "electrified the audience" and that he expects the action star-turned-politician to bring that same energy to this Western tale.

The film will be directed by Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-Woon. No shooting or release date was announced.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Daniel Ketchell confirmed Tuesday that Schwarzenegger will appear in "Last Stand" but did not elaborate.

Schwarzenegger said in May that he was putting his acting projects on hold after disclosing that he fathered a child with a family housekeeper and splitting with wife Maria Shriver.

Toronto Says Goodbye To Harry Potter

www.thestar.com - By Allison Cross and Linda Barnard

(July 11, 2011) Rumours were swirling like Severus Snape’s billowing
cape as Toronto prepared for the Canadian premiere of the final instalment in the Harry Potter movie franchise.

The juiciest was that star Daniel Radcliffe, the title star of all eight movies, would be here when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 debuts on Tuesday night, but nobody at film studio Warner Bros. would comment on that.

However, as befitting a city under the spell of the boy wizard, there are several opportunities to say a proper farewell after seven books, eight movies, scores of incantations, potions and wand battles.

The TV show:
New. Music. Live. hosts Matthew Lewis, klutzy-but-courageous Potter character Neville Longbottom, at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the MuchMusic headquarters, 299 Queen St. W. The show’s website now says it will welcome “members of the Harry Potter cast.”

The premiere: Bring your capes and wands to the Scotiabank Theatre at the corner of Richmond St. W. and John St. on Tuesday. But don’t be surprised if it feels like you’ve accidentally stumbled into Diagon Alley. Those streets have been renamed Hogwarts Way and Harry Potter Blvd. by the City of Toronto for the event. The premiere screening starts at 6 p.m., but it’s likely eager witches and wizards will congregate in the area much earlier. Lewis will be there for the gala. Also invited to attend, but not confirmed, are these stars, many of whom are shooting projects in Toronto: Paul Giamatti, Rachel McAdams, Kate Beckinsale, Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Ryan Gosling, director David Cronenberg and rapper Drake.

The Party:
Toronto’s castle, Casa Loma, is a fitting location for an after-party for Muggles to say goodbye to the movie franchise. It starts at about 8:30 p.m. Fans may get a second look at the celebrities as they walk the black carpet into the splashy event. Get there early for a good spot.

The Potter Part I screenings: Starting Tuesday, the Media Commons Cinema Study Group at the University of Toronto hosts free one-hour noon serialized screenings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I on three consecutive days in Robarts Library. They continue Wednesday and Thursday at noon.

James Franco Is Talented – Get Over It

www.globeandmail.com - Lynn Crosbie

(July 12, 2011) General Hospital’s “Franco,” the soap-opera serial killer and greatest performance artist in the world, has turned to visual arts this year in the form of a series of rear-angle self-portraits.

“I know, I know. Multitasker, right?” he tells his nemesis on the show, gangster Jason Morgan.

Some Port Charles cop warned “Franco” that the lines between art and life get blurry if you’re not careful: Last Wednesday, the protean
James Franco (writer, actor, academic, artist and more) released his first music video, Rising, with Kalup Linzy.

“Um … okay?” is the sardonic Perez Hilton’s reaction to the trippy video and sweetly crazy, catchy song. His followers shred Franco for being a “pseudo-intellectual,” “stoner” and rich “hipster.”

There is a real anger behind this kind of hating, something like Eminem’s Stan, a song about a fan who goes on a drunken suicide-murder-spree because the singer is slow in returning his letters; because the star “ruined” everything by not understanding they “should be together.”

While Franco is, on one hand, a loveable, barely adapted Jeff Spicoli, he is, otherwise, an actual intellectual with a huge practice that is easy to dismiss, harder to try to understand.

But Franco is a highly modern star, and to Rising, as with everything he does, he brings to his enterprise a very current hybridity: The video is both parodic and almost horribly sincere.

Franco himself, in his art and in interviews, is a bizarre hybrid. He is alternately cold and lacking in affect, then radiant and disarming. (His almost-iconic smile, which floats through the video like a symbol of his methodology, is the engine that turns his charm on and off.)

The average female fan has no problem getting behind Franco playing “Franco” and is content to write such remarks below clips of the actor in any number of the fantastic girlie-onanism videos on YouTube: “Wow, he's an amazin actor, and soooo sexy!!!;D I think he's very underrated imo, he should
 def get more recognition for his awesome work!!!;D”

But critics and commentators so often line up to mock and deride the frighteningly beautiful PhD candidate – most ferociously when he writes.

His essay about performance art and his decision to work on General Hospital, published in The Wall Street Journal in December, 2009, is, like his very good creative writing, solid and persuasive, driven by a starkly modernist style.

“[N]o matter how far I got into the character,” Franco writes, “ I was going to be perceived as something that doesn't belong to the incredibly stylized world of soap operas. Everyone watching would see an actor they recognized, a real person in a made-up world.”

This is true and not true: Joan Crawford set the stage for intrusions from big stars on soaps when, in a gorgeous disaster, she played her ailing daughter’s role on The Secret Storm in 1968. Others, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Carol Burnett, have also appeared on the programs, and soon groupie/artist Pamela Des Barres will appear as … a former groupie on The Young and the Restless.

Ultimately, while Franco is recognizably more luminously attractive than anyone on the show, his character is only a standout in the traditional soap. Whether he’s acting as insane as the Y&R character who demanded, at gunpoint, facial reconstruction surgery to look like a young David Hasselhoff, or hitting on babes by referencing his pied à terre on the Left Bank, or fighting an older, fright-wigged artist who keeps saying things like, “You’ve come a long way Rembrandt!” or “Don’t wet your designer jeans, Salvador!” he is still integral to the drama and received as such – I don’t see any “pseudo-intellectuals” posting about his amazing role. Just fans.

I am a fan, of course, even if I find his CV (he is in his early 30s) exhausting to read in an abbreviated form and find no truth to the notion that he gets to where he goes because of his good looks.

That is, it may be true, but he has embellished and battered the good looks enough to rival Heath Ledger, and who says that beauty is not a talent?

In General Hospital, the older artist warns “Franco” about becoming “part of the establishment, Picasso!”

“Art’s like a mirror,” the art brute genius retorts. “It’s always clear what you see.”

Um …okay? I am not sure what that means, don’t care: “Franco” and James Franco just look so good saying it.

What it might mean? Franco, the contemporary artist, is creating a collaborative body of work.

Within its very starkness, its flat, opaque surface, we find ourselves reacting, poorly or very well, to whatever trick of light, of love, he is playing.

John Travolta Foundation Makes Donation To Scientology

www.thestar.com - By Bang Showbiz

(Jul 12, 2011) A foundation set up by John Travolta donated 10 per
cent of its revenue to Scientology last year.

The Jett Travolta Foundation was created when the actor's 16-year-old son Jett died after hitting his head during a seizure while in the Bahamas, and the non-profit organization has given away approximately $56,000 since it was set up, according to website Showbiz411.

Tax filings for the year 2010-2011 show a total of 14 donations were made totaling $27,850; $2,500 went to a Scientology detox charity in Ocala, Florida, while others to benefit included the Starlight Children's Foundation and the No Limits Limbs Loss Foundation, which both received $5,000 each.

A further $2,500 was given to the Marion County Sheriff's Foundation.

Those not benefiting from the cash include any charities supporting autism, despite it being confirmed by Travolta that his son suffered with the disease, which is not officially recognized by Scientology, in a Bahamian courtroom hearing.

Travolta, 57, and his wife Kelly Preston previously claimed the youngster had Kawasaki disease, a rare condition which causes inflammation of blood vessels, but no money went to any charities supporting that affliction.

Other donations included $250 to the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Foundation, an affliction causing loose joints and hyperelastic skin and $2,500 to the Central Florida Community College for a scholarship in Jett's memory.

Khomotso Manyaka: The ‘Life, Above All’ Interview with Kam Williams


(July 10, 2011) *Khomotso Manyaka was born in 1996 in Elandsdoorn, South Africa, which is where she caught the eye of talent scouts while performing with a church choir. Encouraged to audition for the film “Life, Above All,” she ended up landing the picture’s pivotal lead role of Chanda.

Khomotso proved to be a natural in front of the camera, and went on to earn the Best Actress Award at the Durban International Film Festival for her stunning debut performance. Life, Above All also made a big splash at Cannes, where it won the Francois Chalais Prize for life affirmation and journalism.

(Scroll down to watch the trailer.)

The compelling, character-driven drama revolves around a 12 year-old girl who summons up the courage to fight the fear and shame poisoning relationships among members of her tight-knit community in the wake of an AIDS outbreak. Directed by South African filmmaker Oliver Schmitz, the movie is based on the award-winning novel Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton.

Here,   Khomotso talks about the picture which recently premiered at the Human Rights Watch Festival and will be arriving in theatres on July 15.

Kam Williams: Hi Khomotso, thanks for the time.

Khomotso Manyaka: Thank you, Kam.

KW: What interested you in Life, Above All?

KM: That the movie has a strong and powerful message to all people, and the bonding and love between the mother and daughter.

KW: Tell me a little about the movie.

KM: It’s about a young girl called Chanda who wants to bring people together, through the struggle against HIV/AIDS.

KW: How would you describe your character, Chanda?

KM: She’s a strong, intelligent, well behaved girl.

KW: What message do you hope people will take away from the film?

KM: It is that they must not keep secrets and that they must learn to be open with their families.

KW: Legist/Editor Patricia Turnier asks: What was the most challenging aspect of playing Chanda?

KM: It wasn’t challenging, but I learned a lot from it.

KW: Patricia has a follow-up: What does it mean to you to receive so much recognition and praise for your work at such a young age?

KM: It is fun and I enjoy that they really admire me.

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles says: Congratulations on your much deserved Best Actress award at the Durban International Film Festival. When such a prestigious award goes to a 13 year-old, how does it change what would be your teen years, socially and professionally?

KM: Well, I don’t think I would change, but I know that I would be seen as an example in South Africa.

KW: Harriet also asks: How much of the story in Life, Above All was outside of your real-life experiences growing up and how much was already familiar to you and part of your awareness?

KM: The familiar part is that I also have three siblings, but it’s only boys. I am also a first born at home.

KW: Finally, Harriet says: Knowing that child stars very often get caught up in being a celebrity too early, what ‘stabilizers’ exist for you to keep you from having that too intense time in the spotlight?

KM: I think I need to be more careful in what I do in the public, so as to prevent people from talking or writing negative things about me.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman says: Congratulations on the Best Actress award. Had you ever acted professionally before you won the casting call for Life Above All?

KM: No, I have never acted before this. This was the first time acting, and the first time I was ever in a movie.

KW: Bernadette has a few follow-ups. First: I see that you will be continuing your acting studies. Is there any one actress whose career you would like to emulate?

KM: I would like to be like Harriet Manamela. She acted the part of the neighbour in the movie, or like Lerato Mvelase, who played my mother.

KW: Next, she asks: Before working on this film, were you already aware of the fallout of AIDS in terms of the social ostracism of the victims and their family members?

KM: I knew about AIDS for a long time because my mom is an HIV/AIDS counsellor. We talk about it a lot.

KW: Lastly, Bernadette would like to know if you would you consider being an actor/activist to promote education about AIDS, based on the problems outlined in the film and the book?

KM: Yes! Because it would help people who don’t know about HIV/AIDS.

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

KM: No, not really.

KW: Are you ever afraid?

KM: Well, everyone gets afraid sometime or other, but when it comes to having opportunities like being famous, I get afraid because I won’t be able to live my life and I won’t live freely.

KW: Are you happy?

KM: Yes.

KW: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

KM: All the time.

KW: What was the last book you read?

KM: Twilight, Eclipse.

KW: What are you listening to on your iPod?

KM: I don’t have an iPod, but I usually listen to R&B on my phone.

KW: What is your favourite dish to cook?

KM: Well… I looooove South Africa’s traditional food.

KW: Who is your favourite clothes designer?

KM: I don’t know.

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

KM: I see a child of God, successful, talented, beautiful, well behaved, trust worthy.

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

KM: I would wish that everyone could believe in God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

KM: To work hard for what you want and trust that God is the way and the key to success.

KW: Who’s at the top of your hero list?                                                                 

KM: My mom.

KW: How do you want to be remembered?

KM: As an honest, loving, funny and well behaved girl, and as a good role model.

KW: Thanks again for the interview, Khomotso, and best of luck with the movie.

KM: Thank you for the opportunity, Kam.

Video: Mila Kunis Says ‘Yes’ To Date With Marine

www.thestar.com - By Bang Showbiz

(Jul 11, 2011) Mila Kunis has agreed to go on a date with a marine.

The Friends With Benefits actress, who recently split from Macaulay Culkin after eight years of dating, was recently asked by Sgt. Scott Moore of the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines to accompany him to the upcoming Marine Corps Ball in Greenville, North Carolina, on November 18.

Posting a YouTube message from his base in Musa Qala, Afghanistan, he said: "Hi Mila, I just want to take a moment out of my day to invite you to the Marine Corps Ball with yours truly. So take a second to think about it and get back to me. All right, bye now."

After being asked by Friends With Benefits co-star Justin Timberlake whether she was planning on taking him up on his offer, Kunis told him: "I'll go, I'll do it for you. Are you going to come?"

Timberlake replied: "They don't want me! They want you. You need to do it for your country."

Mila confirmed to Fox News: "I'll do it!"

However, it's unlikely the 27-year-old beauty will be dancing with Moore. She suffered a number of injuries while playing a professional ballerina in Black Swan and vowed never to dance again.

She said: "I had never danced in my life. I trained for four months, seven days a week, five hours a day. I had one day off on my birthday. I lost 20 pounds. I tore a ligament. I dislocated my shoulder. I have two scars on my back. And it was worth every minute.

"But I will never dance again. I was like, 'Well, I wear heels; I can do this.' I was wrong. Christian Louboutins are uncomfortable, but I screamed the first time I put on a pointed shoe."

Matthew Lewis: From Wimpy Wizard To Hogwarts Hottie

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

(Jul 12, 2011) Move over Daniel Radcliffe. The Potter posse has an
unlikely new heartthrob.

Hottie alert!” trumpeted headlines and blog posts this week. “The sexiest wizard on the Harry Potter red carpet is . . . Neville Longbottom.”

Matthew Lewis ducked his head and grinned self-consciously when asked about the stir he’s causing while promoting the final flick in the hugely successful Harry Potter film series, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, opening Friday.

“Oh no, stop, please stop!” he pleaded as he sat down for a chat in a Hogwarts-like wood-panelled salon at a downtown hotel Tuesday in advance of the movie’s Toronto premiere that night. The talk turned to his off-screen metamorphosis, going “from chunky to hunky” as one wag put it.

“It makes me feel embarrassed,” said Lewis of suddenly being discovered by media covering red carpets in London, New York and Toronto. He’s a far cry from Neville, the chubby, awkward kid in a cardigan with the bad teeth and protruding ears he played in all eight Harry Potter films.

“I don’t know what to make of this,” the 22-year-old said. “It was not something I did intentionally. I don’t know, people are very kind, but it came from nowhere. I don’t feel hunky at all. Don’t get me wrong; it’s very kind to hear these things but very awkward.”

Fans screamed their appreciation as Lewis walked the black carpet outside Casa Loma for the movie after-party, a perfect setting for the event, complete with posters from all eight movies and costumes on display. Guests sipped themed cocktails on the terraces as teens played an exhibition game of Muggle Quidditch. Actors and ex-spouses Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale and 11-year-old daughter Lily Mo Sheen were also at the party, having attended the gala screening. (Sheen is in town with girlfriend, actress Rachel McAdams; Beckinsale is filming Total Recall here.)

Another change for Lewis’s character in Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is that nervous Neville emerges as a true hero in the final film.

“Neville is a fantastic character and Jo Rowling did such a beautiful thing with him to show that journey of a shy child who was bullied and terrified of his own shadow and, yet, here he is the hero and saviour of Hogwarts,” said Lewis.

He feels his character risks his life out of loyalty to his friends, fellow wizards Harry Potter (Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint).

“What a lovely message,” he added. “I feel so humbled that Jo bestowed upon me the honour of playing Neville Longbottom.”

An actor from age 5, the Leeds-born Lewis said it “still hasn’t sunk in” that he’s part of the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. In fact, he didn’t realize until he was “about 14 or 15” that the series was such a big deal; he was having too much fun.

On the advice of Alan Rickman, who plays Severus Snape in the movie series, Lewis turned to the theatre to hone his acting chops.

“And I’m so glad I did,” said Lewis, who just finished a turn starring in a touring production of Agatha Christie’s 1958 play Verdict.

“I was very uncomfortable with it and it was so different from anything I had done,” he added of stage work.

Lewis hopes to continue with theatre, movies and TV once he winds up his last Potter duties with a press trip to Australia.

And he understands why people may be surprised to see him as he is today (he’s tall and very lean with a handsome, angular face) after knowing him as pudgy Neville. As he grew out of his preteen puppy fat, wardrobe and makeup were used to keep Neville in character, with a fat suit giving him the right shape and plastic earpieces creating that Dumbo look. And he always wore crooked false teeth. His real smile is perfect.

It wasn’t very comfortable to be jammed into a fat suit under the hot lights, but Lewis said he loved the experience of making the Potter films, which has taken up most of the past 10 years of his life.

“Making the movies, media junkets, it’s been my job for 10 years, but you see it as so much more than a job and that doesn’t affect the enjoyment. I still love it as much as the first day I started.”

Transformers’ Robots Rule Box Office So Far

www.thestar.com - Associated Press

(Jul 10, 2011) LOS ANGELES—Transformers: Dark of the Moon
now rules this year's box office as the blockbuster sequel became 2011's top domestic hit with $261 million (all figures US), according to studio estimates Sunday.

The sci-fi smash starring Shia LaBeouf remained No. 1 in its second weekend with $47 million and shot past The Hangover Part II to first-place on the domestic chart.

Debuting in second place with $28.1 million domestically was the comedy Horrible Bosses, featuring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as bumblers plotting against their nasty supervisors. Opening at No. 3 with $21 million was Kevin James' family tale Zookeeper.

Domestic business dipped overall, with revenues totalling $158 million, down 18 per cent from the same weekend last year, when Despicable Me led with a $56.4-million debut, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

Several film sequels this year have underperformed their predecessors, but a familiar title that fans will be rushing to see arrives this week with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, that franchise's finale.

Warner Bros. general sales manager Jeff Goldstein said the studio expects the eighth Harry Potter film to be the top-grossing entry in the series. Though summer revenues are lagging, “Potter will change all of that,” Goldstein said.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com.

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, $47 million.

2. Horrible Bosses, $28.1 million.

3. Zookeeper, $21 million.

4. Cars 2, $15.2 million.

5. Bad Teacher, $9 million.

6. Larry Crowne, $6.3 million.

7. Super 8, $4.8 million.

8. Monte Carlo, $3.8 million.

9. Green Lantern, $3.1 million.

10. Mr. Popper's Penguins, $2.9 million.

Audio: Viola Davis: Called ‘Hypnotic’ by ‘Help’ Costar; Covers August Essence

www.eurweb.com - Cherie Saunders

(July 8, 2011) *Viola Davis, the cover girl for Essence magazine’s August issue, touches on a number of topics in her cover story, including coming to grips with a culture that seldom makes dark-skinned women feel like “the chosen one.”

The Oscar-nominated actress says she feels more like a “princess” now than ever before. As she anticipates the release of her new movie, “The Help,” Davis shares her story of growth and acceptance with writer Essence writer
Lola Ogunnaike.

“As Black women, we’re always given these seemingly devastating experiences—experiences that could absolutely break us,” Davis says in the article. “But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as Black women is take the worst situations and create from that point…”

Meanwhile, EUR recently sat down with Davis’ co-star in “The Help,”
Emma Stone, who described the veteran actress and her divine talent as “just hypnotic.”

“Oh my God, Viola’s like touched by something else. And I think there’s a reason why Meryl Streep is in awe of Viola,” Stone told us. “Viola just is that person.

“It’s rare that you’re in a scene with someone and you’re like zoning out, forgetting to say your lines because you just want to watch them. There’s a scene where I literally just stopped acting. I mean, you’re trying as much as you can to be present in the moment and not be acting when you’re in a scene, but I literally forgot that I was in the scene. It’s insane. She’s just hypnotic and beyond talented – and the coolest person.”

In the bonus audio below, Stone describes the scene.


Spike Lee to Direct ‘Old Boy’ Remake


(July 11, 2011) *Spike Lee is heading back to the world of feature filmmaking, coming on board to direct “Old Boy,” Mandate’s remake of the South Korean film. In making the announcement, Mandate describes the story “of a man who is kidnapped and imprisoned on his daughter’s birthday.  For fifteen years, he is held captive, and, upon his release, must begin his journey to find the reason for his imprisonment.  He soon finds out that his kidnapper has plans for him more tortuous than his solitary confinement.” The original movie won the Grand Prize Jury Award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and is considered a high-mark of Asian cinema. As previously reported, the English-language remake has had some high-profile flirtations, with Steven Spielberg and Will Smith once circling. Mark Protosevich wrote the screenplay and will co-produce. Roy Lee and Doug Davison will produce. Mandate President Nathan Kahane will executive produce.

Terry McMillan: Follow up to ‘Waiting to Exhale’ Almost Ready


(July 8, 2011) *The sequel to “Waiting to Exhale” is bout ready to
start. At the Essence Music Festival, the author Terry McMillian said she’s working on the third draft of a script and hopes to have it finished by July. “This won’t be on the screen until sometime in 2012 though,” she warns. McMillan broke the story on Twitter a few months ago, tweeting, “We are working on the script for ‘HAPPY.’ Will know in about a month or so when we’ll begin production.” And on Whitney Houston, she’s still hopeful she’ll come around and recover in time. “We’ll know soon enough,” she said. “I’ve been told that’s she wants to do it, and I think the studio wants her to do it. We all want her to do it… I just hope she’s healthy.”

Glee Goes To The Movies: Early Screenings

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

(Jul 13, 2011) Get ready to get your Glee on two days before the other Gleeks. Studio Twentieth Century Fox is hosting advance showings on Aug. 10 of
Glee: The 3D Concert ahead of the movie’s Aug. 12 premiere. Ticket holders also get a Glee swag bag. Tickets go on sale July 13 on the movie Facebook page (www.facebook.com/glee3dmovie). Tickets are $30, which includes a swag bag full of Glee goodies and the screening, which will be held at five GTA theatres, including the AMC Yonge-Dundas. Public sales for the special screening begin July 14 at www.gleeksneak3d.com.  Ticket sales end August 2 to allow time for swag bags and tickets to be mailed out. The concert movie features Glee TV stars Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith), Mercedes (Amber Riley), Kurt (Chris Colfer), Artie (Kevin McHale), and Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) in musical performances and behind-the-scenes footage.

::TV NEWS::   

Being Busy’s No Curse For Jason Priestley

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(July 13, 2011) CHESTER, NOVA SCOTIA—
Jason Priestley has found
Haven in Nova Scotia, which seems fitting since he once unknowingly provided haven for the series’ producer.

The Vancouver native has been based for years in places like New York and Los Angeles (he’s now a naturalized American citizen), but for the past two years he’s been working a lot on Canada’s East Coast, first on his own series Call Me Fitz (returning this fall to The Movie Network/Movie Central) and now on Haven, returning for a second season Monday at 10 p.m. on Showcase.

Based on Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid, Haven stars Emily Rose as a former FBI agent who forms a supernatural swat team with a local cop (Lucas Bryant) and a crafty smuggler (Eric Balfour). A town full of suspects with supernatural powers keeps them busier than Mulder and Scully in their prime.

This season, Priestley joins the series as Chris Brody, the son of Haven’s late, great mayor. Like everybody else in the New England town, the antsy marine biologist has a special “gift” most would consider a blessing but that he considers a curse.

Haven executive producer Shawn Piller has been looking for years to provide payback to Priestley. Years ago, while he was shooting The Dead Zone in Vancouver, the producer and his then-wife Lindsay Price — a former castmate of Priestley’s on Beverly Hills, 90210 — unknowingly rented a condo owned by Priestley. “I didn’t even know Jason was Canadian,” says Piller.

This was around the time of Priestley’s serious 2002 auto racing accident. Calls started coming into the answering machine at the condo checking to see if “Jason” was okay. Piller started to wonder if Lorne Priestley, the guy he was signing rent cheques to, was Jason’s dad.

Later, Piller ran into Priestley’s old 90210 pal Luke Perry at a hotel bar in Vancouver. “He told me, ‘Oh my God, we used to party at that place back in the day,’” says Piller. “‘We used to piss off the balcony into the apartment below.’”

That must have seemed paranormal to the tenant at the time: X-Files creator and producer Chris Carter.

Priestley confirms at least part of the story: he did unknowingly rent his place to Piller. The two struck up a friendship a few years later when they helped each other move: Piller out, Priestley back in.

Flash forward a few years. Piller wanted Priestley to direct episodes of his next series, Greek. Their schedules never coincided on that project, but when both found themselves making TV shows in Nova Scotia, Haven was provided.

Especially after Piller pitched Priestley on his character’s curse. “It’s something you’re probably already used to,” he told the actor. “The curse is everybody loves you.”

Priestley laughed and said, “I’m in.” He also directed this season’s ninth episode.

Priestley felt right at home on the set. “Seventy per cent of the crew here works Call Me Fitz as well,” he says.

Priestley plays against type as a shifty used car salesman in Fitz. The 41-year-old is very happy with that series. “I couldn’t be more proud of the work we do on that show or how it’s been received,” he says.

He’s never been busier, directing the romantic comedy Dear Santa in Calgary before heading to Halifax for Fitz and Haven. He even darted over to Winnipeg last summer to host the final night of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. “Doing 15 minutes of standup: that was fun,” he says, “but also terrifying. That’s why I did it.”

Life is just as busy on the home front. He and wife Naomi have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old at home in Los Angeles. “They don’t let me sleep much at all,” he says.

More than two decades after the sudden fame of 90210, Priestley has plenty of perspective on the business of television. He’s dabbled in Internet TV, directing the web soap The Lake for TheWB.com. Priestley efficiently cranked out 12 webisodes in 12 days. “It was really about testing the waters to see if it would work,” he says. The series was popular, gaining millions of hits, but the studios seem to have largely put web-based originals on hold.

“There’s still no money in it,” he says.

He’s encouraged by the upturn in the Canadian TV industry, seeing potential in shows like Haven (on SyFy in the U.S.) and Fitz that sell in foreign markets. “You can’t make product just for Canada,” he says, pointing out that Fitz is currently sold to 60 countries.

He’ll take the federal and provincial tax credits but would like to see more shows repay the money they get from funding grants. “We have to rethink the whole thing,” he says. “Taxpayers should start to see a return on their money.”

If it sounds like Priestley has come a long way from the Peach Pit, he has. Now a family man, he’s sold off a car collection that once included rare Alpha Romeo roadsters as well as a classic Cord from the ’30s. “At the end of the day,” he says, “I only had one ass, plus it cost me a lot of money to take care of them all the time.”

When the conversation turns to the current trials of Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen, Priestley recalls sitting in on a few hair-raising poker games with the former Two and a Half Men star but also remembers him as a fun guy to be around. Asked back in May — before it was announced that Ashton Kutcher would be joining that show — if he’d been approached to step into Sheen’s warlock shoes, Priestley waves off the suggestion. “Naw man, I’m booked.”

‘Loss Of Faith’ In TV News Makes CTV Reporter Quit His Job

www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(Jul 11, 2011) Kai Nagata, the Quebec City correspondent for CTV
News, has abruptly resigned from his job, expressing his disillusionment with television news in a farewell letter.

“I quit my job because the idea burrowed into my mind that, on the long list of things I could be doing, television news is not the best use of my short life,” Nagata, 24, said in a
3,000-word essay to explain his departure.

The essay has received widespread attention from journalists across Canada and even caught the attention of
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, who posted the lengthy missive on Twitter.

Among the reasons cited by Nagata, who also previously worked for
CBC News, was his discomfort at an industry that “casually sexualizes its workforce” by hiring unqualified people who looked the part.

“Every hiring decision is scrutinized using a skewed, unspoken ratio of talent to attractiveness, where attractiveness often compensates for a glaring lack of other qualifications,” Nagata wrote.

“The idea has taken root that if the people reporting the news look like your family and neighbours, instead of Barbie and Ken, the station will lose viewers,” he added.

The proverbial straw that appeared to break the camel’s back was what Nagata referred to as “the Kate and Will show,” a reference to the extensive television news coverage of the Prince and Princess of Cambridge’s nine-day tour of Canada.

“On a weekend where there was real news happening in Bangkok, Misrata, Athens, Washington, and around the world, what we saw instead was a breathless gaggle of normally credible journalists gushing in live hit after live hit about how the prince is young and his wife is pretty,” Nagata noted disdainfully.

Nagata also said he has “serious problems” with the direction of the federal government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the constraints he felt he was under as a journalist to report them.

Among the issues he enumerated: a “war” against science and research funding in Canada, the country’s loss of stature on the international stage and the Harper government’s plans to increase prison sentences in an era of falling crime rates.

Media commentator/author Warren Kinsella said Nagata’s sentiments were “wonderfully expressed.”

“The point I would make to (Nagata) is that although I understand his cynicism and disaffection, the very people he is opposing are counting him remaining disaffected and withdrawn from the process,” Kinsella said.

“I just hope that his self-removal from the public debate isn’t permanent,” Kinsella said.

Recent data from Statistics Canada show that 30 per cent of young people are so disenchanted with politics that they don’t bother to vote at all, Kinsella said.

“That’s how you get guys like Stephen Harper elected,” added Kinsella, a former long-time Liberal campaign strategist.

‘Horrible Bosses’ Works Up $28 Mil to Land at # 2 at Box Office

www.eurweb.com - *(Via Hollywood Reporter.com)

(July 10, 2011) Paramount’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon
remained a goliath in its second weekend to become the top pic of 2011 domestically, but there was plenty of business left over for Warner Bros./New Line’s raunchy comedy “Horrible Bosses.”

The latest R-rated laffer to outpace expectations, Horrible Bosses opened to $28.1 million to place No. 2 behind Dark of the Moon, according to Rentrak.

“Dark of the Moon” has now earned $261 million at the domestic box office, supplanting Warners’ “The Hangover Part II” ($149.6 million) as the year’s biggest earner.

Overseas, Michael Bay’s 3D tentpole grossed $93 million over the weekend for a massive international of $384 million and worldwide total of $645 million-the No. 2 pic of the year behind Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which has now grossed $1.02 billion, the seventh best showing of all time.

Sony and MGM’s new Kevin James family comedy “Zookeeper” came in No. 3 at the domestic box office, grossing $21 million. The pic cost $80 million to produce, so it will have to do brisk business worldwide to come out ahead.

Read/learn more at the Hollywood reporter.com.

Audio: Ced the Entertainer Explains His NBC Gig ‘It’s Worth What?’

www.eurweb.com - Cherie Saunders

(July 11, 2011) *Cedric the Entertainer is about to get his Wayne
Brady on as host of NBC’s new game show “It’s Worth What?” where players who hope to be successful must have a good sense of what expensive items cost.

A million dollar grand prize is on the line as contestants, in pairs, must spend five rounds placing items in the correct order from least expensive to most expensive.  Those who play a perfect game could bank up to $100,000 before the final round – where contestants can win up to ten times their bank amount.

In the last round, the pairs are given four collectibles, and Cedric brings out four collectibles of his own. One at a time, contestants must pick items from their stash that cost more than an item in his group.

In the bonus audio below, Ced gives an example of how the final round could lead to a $1 million payoff.

Ced the Entertainer explains final round of It’s Worth What? by CherieNic

“We have some really interesting items,” Ced said during the teleconference heard above. “I mean in the description of the show it’s like those hidden gems all of us hope or think we have when we’re cleaning grandma’s old chest. We think oh man, what if I look up and have a pearl necklace from the Titanic or something?

“And we mix that in with new modern items — like a brand-new Bugatti sports car comes out on stage. Some people who’ve seen it only in a magazine, to be so up close and personal to it is exciting. I think that people would want to watch the show for that reason, just kind of finding out that curiosity of what things cost for real.”

“It’s Worth What?” premieres Tuesday, July 19 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

For Networks On Web, It's Not A Prime Time

www.thestar.com - By Jake Coyle

(Jul 11, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.—Around 2007, U.S. TV networks made
a land rush to the web, looking to lay down digital production studios. Four years later, many of those networks have pulled up stakes, shunning original web content and reorienting their online outlook.

The Walt Disney Co. and ABC launched their digital media destination, Stage 9, only to fold it by 2009. Time Warner's comedy-focused site Super Deluxe also launched in 2007 and closed the next year. (CBS and Fox have showed only sporadic interest in original Internet TV.)

Now, Comcast Corp. has announced that the NBC Universal Digital Studio, launched in 2008, is shuttering. A relatively robust digital outfit, its series often paired sponsors with a show, such as the Hollywood drama Dial Star (backed by AT&T). Clearly, Comcast, a cable operator and NBC's parent, has some interest in maintaining the primacy of TV.

But why are so many TV networks fleeing a business for which they would seem perfectly suited? The exodus comes at a time when many see brightening skies for original content on the web.

“I would think they should be doubling down right now on creating original content for the web,” says Marc Hustvedt, editor-in-chief of Tubefilter News and founder of the International Academy of Web Television. “The ad dollars are moving towards it. There's this whole group, a new core of digital studios that are really booming in terms of audience.”

NBC said the move was “simply about a change in strategy.”

“Going forward we plan to focus our digital efforts and investment on content that's supportive of our on-air programs, providing our audience with additional content that further engages them in our shows,” the network said in a statement.

That means more content such as the webisodes that accompany The Office — things that feed viewers back to broadcast shows. And those shows, after all, are often already available digitally, whether on NBC.com, Hulu or Netflix.

But at the same time some networks are backing out, many online destinations are increasing their investment in original web programming. Funny Or Die, founded by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, just produced one of its most ambitious videos yet, an imagined sequel to Field of Dreams. In March, the digital arm of Vancouver's Lionsgate Television launched its first original web series on Hulu: the animated Trailer Trash.

Sometimes, start-ups have shown more patience than the networks. Revision3, an online network founded in 2005, didn't reach profitability until late 2010, when it saw total views across the network increase by 165 per cent.

Blip.tv, created in 2005, has steadily grown and says that it has now has reached more than 3 billion views to date. Steve Woolf, vice-president of content for blip.tv, believes TV networks have failed to embrace the interactivity of the medium, and have instead pushed simply a less expensive TV product.

“That is clearly the problem,” says Woolf. “They are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”

“Creators have full control over how they create their shows,” Woolf says of blip.tv, which gathers series from across the web. “There's no studio level, there's no layer of production executive that they have to get answers and okays from. They make their stuff, they know their audiences and it's a direct connection to the audience.”

Hustvedt agrees: “The web original studios are a little more fearless, a little more reckless and that seems to be paying off for them. These sorts of very manufactured enterprises within the studios, no one's really taken a big, big chance.”

Not all networks have abandoned web originals. Fox's first foray, the digital outpost 15 Gigs, ceased within months of debuting in 2009. But the same year, it created the Fox Digital Studios.

Though it has yet to produce any major web original, Fox Digital currently has several original Web projects in development, said a network official who spoke on condition of anonymity because plans have not yet been announced. One is called The Ropes and is being written and produced by Vin Diesel. The 18 seven-minute episodes will be based on Diesel's pre-Hollywood days working as a bouncer.

CBS's original online series included an early hit, 2007's Clark and Michael with Brampton's Michael Cera, but its output has slowed and remains undefined. In March, it shifted direction, acquiring the highly respected Internet TV guide Clicker and making its co-founder, Jim Lanzone, president of CBS Interactive.

Warner Bros. made the interesting move of restoring its defunct network, the WB, as a purely online network in 2008. It can boast the hit medical-drama parody, Rob Corddry's Childrens Hospital, which was eventually picked up for broadcast by U.S. cable channel Adult Swim. But TheWB.com still mostly relies on old Warner Bros. Television productions such as Friends and Veronica Mars.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, though, has held fast. Sony created Crackle in 2007 and continued to produce high-quality online shows, while surrounding them with programming from Sony Pictures' broadcast library. Last year, the Crackle crime drama The Bannen Way drew millions of viewers. It also released the frenetic comedy Backwash, starring Michael Ian Black, Joshua Malina and Michael Panes.

With Crackle, Sony has focused its strategy on optimizing numerous “windows” of distribution, releasing popular shows after their initial ad-supported runs on iTunes, DVD on TV networks and in international syndication.

“The result of all of this has made us very successful,” says Eric Berger, senior vice-president of digital networks at Sony Pictures and head of Crackle. Berger says Crackle is finding increased appetite for long-form content, which breeds higher quality shows.

Their projects currently in development are being prepped to run in 30-minute, TV-length episodes. They include a paranormal anthology series from Sons of Anarchy producer Chris Collins, the undercover cop series Strand Street from Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia, and Monster Heist, a show about inhuman thieves from Kim Moses and Ian Sander of The Ghost Whisperer.

TV networks may be moving on from Internet television, but maybe soon, there won't be much separating the two.

Debbi Morgan Joins ‘The Young and the Restless’


(July 8, 2011) *With “All My Children” now moving to the Internet, one of its most beloved stars will not make the move to cyberspace along with it.

Debbi Morgan, who plays Dr. Angie Hubbard on “AMC,” is jumping over to the CBS soap “The Young and the Restless.”

According to TV Guide, “Y&R’s” coup happened Thursday after weeks of speculation and rumour that she’d be making the move. A show rep tells TV Guide Magazine that the Emmy-winning actress will begin filming in September after “AMC” has ended production.

“Y&R” has yet to confirm Morgan’s character on the show.

Meanwhile, it was reported Thursday that ABC has sold the online rights to “AMC” and the cancelled “One Life to Live” in a multi-year deal to Prospect Park, a company led by Royal Pains executive producers Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz. The company is the process of finalizing the funding for an as-yet-unnamed online TV network that would feature the soaps and eventually other programming.

“We are privileged to continue the legacy of two of the greatest programs to air on daytime television, and are committed to delivering the storylines, characters and quality that audiences have come to love for over 40 years. ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ are television icons, and we are looking forward to providing anytime, anywhere viewing to their loyal community of millions,” Frank and Kwatinetz said in a statement. “We believe that by continuing to produce the shows in their current hour format and with the same quality, viewers will follow the show to our new, online network.”

Jennifer Lopez Will Be Back

www.thestar.com - Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

(Jul 11, 2011) That's what E! Online was reporting Monday, quoting a
source who said that Jennifer Lopez has agreed to return to Idol and that the deal will be announced any day.

Some doubt had been cast on whether JLo would rejoin Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson at the judges' table when she told a BBC One reporter recently that she was "on the fence" about coming back.

Meanwhile, Jennifer was in the news on Monday as one of the artists playing a mammoth two-night concert in Las Vegas in September, the iHeartRadio Music Festival.

Ryan Seacrest, who besides being Idol host is a radio personality and a producer with a finger in many, many pies, announced the show Monday, to take place Sept. 23 and 24 at the MGM Grand. The acts announced so far include Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Steven Tyler, Black Eyed Peas, Kenny Chesney, Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood (former Idol winner), Jane's Addiction, Nicki Minaj, John Mayer, David Guetta, Rascal Flatts, Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson (the first Idol winner), Sublime With Rome, plus guest artists Usher and Sting. And Ryan said more acts will be announced as the summer continues. Did we mention this thing is huge?

Tickets go on sale at Ticketmaster Saturday at 1 p.m. (or you can "like" iHeartRadio on Facebook and get special access apparently).

In one last little bit of Idol-related news, Pia Toscano, who finished ninth this past season to the shock of many, unveiled her first single on Monday, "This Time." It was given its world premiere at
www.ryanseacrest.com and will be available for download Tuesday.

Malik Yoba on ‘Alphas’ Role: New SyFy Series Premieres Tonight

www.eurweb.com - by Ricardo Hazell

(July 11, 2011) *Malik Yoba is a household name in the African
American community. Many of us still pine for “New York Undercover,” a favourite television show of our youth. But you can’t simply lock him into that role. Malik has been in such quality works as Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” franchise as well as the “Girlfriends” and “Defying Gravity” television series. Recently our Lee Bailey sat down and spoke with him about his role in the highly-anticipated Syfy cable network series “Alphas.” Yoba says he initially rejected the script at first glance thinking it was just another cop role.

“At first I mistook it for another series where I was asked to play law enforcement,” he explained. “I said I’m not interested. Then my manager and agents were like ‘You should read it’. When I actually read it and got it I thought it was kind of cool. I thought I got it when I read the script, but I really got it when I read it at the first table reading in Canada, after I was hired. Which happens. I’ve read things that I’ve written that I think I get, then I pick up and read it a year later and it speaks to me in a different way. A lot of times when you think you’re writing you’re actually channelling. You think you’re in control of your writing and you’re actually not.”

In the series Yoba plays a FBI agent with a strange attribute who is teamed with other individuals with similarly strange attributes.

“The character is Bill Hartman. He’s an FBI agent who has been put under the care of Dr. Rosen, who is studying him because he has this brain anomaly,” Yoba explained. “It just so happens that all of these people under the doctor’s care collectively have the ability to help solve these crimes that law enforcement agencies haven’t been able to figure out. But we don’t always voluntarily know what we’re doing. So, as part of our ‘care’ under the doctor, he might tell us to go do X,Y,Z. He’ll tell us to go check out a case. Me, being the only one with law enforcement training, I always take exception to it. You’re asking me to hang out with these numbskulls who don’t have any police training or anything. But, it turns out that one of them has a hyperactive sense of smell, sight or hearing. The autistic kid who is with the group is 16 years old and still lives with his Mom. Because of his autism, which actually leans more towards Aspergers, he can read data from any electronic device. It’s an interesting motley crew that has value when they come together.”

And what of his “superpower?”

I can activate my fight or flight response, which isn’t always a good thing,” Yoba explained. “Part of the reason my character was reassigned is I was in the Bureau talking to a guy, and next thing I know his arm’s broken in three places. That’s how I realize that I have this ability, and I look to get it checked out. That’s not normal. So, he’s put under the care of the doctor. Over the course of the season we find out how each of them got one.”

As mentioned in the opening paragraph of this story, Malik Yoba is a household name in the African American community because he has had many roles that we loved, and a few we despised. With Syfy, Yoba has the opportunity to get acquainted with a whole new audience.

“I don’t know why people watch what they watch,” joked Yoba. “You just put good stuff out there and let people decide what they watch.” Sounds like another quality piece of work from a quality dude. If you’re waiting for more big screen offerings from Yoba then you may wish to check out “Recall,” which he stars in alongside Bow Wow. “It’s a military movie about a group of National Guard soldiers that are heading off to Iraq. Right before they leave one of the soldiers decides to go AWOL because he has a terminally ill son and he wants to stay with him. He’s denied a compassionate reassignment so he’s going to handle things his way. It’s a really, really well written piece and I thought it was directed really well. I think that Michael Connors will be a writer/director people really pay attention to.”

Michael Connors, huh? We’ll keep you posted on that as more details come through. In the meantime “Alphas” premieres on Syfy on tonight, Monday, July 11 at 10/9C. Our inner-nerd can’t wait to check it out. For more information on the show log on to syfy.com.

Steve Schirripa: From 'The Sopranos' to true-crime TV

www.globeandmail.com - By Andrew Ryan

(July 11, 2011) The heady world of organized crime is familiar territory
for Steve Schirripa. Best known for surviving six seasons as wise guy Bobby Baccalieri on The Sopranos, the plus-sized actor was a natural choice to host the new true-crime series Nothing Personal.

Born and raised in the tough Bensonhurst neighbourhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., Schirripa was working as an entertainment booker in Las Vegas when he played an uncredited extra in the 1995 feature Casino. He followed up with small roles in the films The Runner and Joe Dirt before landing his role on HBO's The Sopranos in 1999.

Once the show finished in 2007, Schirripa spun off his high profile into several TV series and penned a series of "Goomba" books, including A Goomba's Guide to Life and The Goomba Diet. In 2008, he signed on for the ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager as the father of one of the main characters, which parallels his own role as father of two teen daughters.

Schirripa is more in his element on Nothing Personal, which dramatizes true-life accounts of cold-blooded contract killings. He agreed to a sit-down interview last week in Toronto.

What was the inspiration behind this new true-crime series?

I'm a big fan of the genre. I watch Dateline and 48 Hours. I wanted to do this show because it's not just about hit men and mobsters. These are true stories about murders-for-hire ordered by regular people like you see every day. I didn't want to do the show if it was all mob stories.

The first episode chronicles the demise of young gangster Larry "Champagne" Carrozza. What was his fatal mistake?

It could have been dating the boss's daughter, or more likely it was about money. His bosses were set to make a huge score and they wanted him out of the way. Money is a recurring theme on this show. All six of the stories we cover have to do with money. Every one.

Growing up in Brooklyn, were you ever tempted toward the mob life?

I was never tempted, but I grew up all around it. Neighbours, people across the street, friends' fathers. I know a lot of those people in it to this day. I was never attracted to it because not that many mobsters live a long life. Just about every one winds up dead or in jail.

Is there a common character trait with real-life wise guys?

A lot of them, believe it or not, are always broke. They never get rich because they have to constantly kick the money upstairs to the bosses. Most of them learn pretty fast that the mob life is not what it's cut out to be. That's how we showed it on The Sopranos. Nobody on the show was ridiculously wealthy.

Did being on the set of Casino push you toward making acting full time?

I had done a few small acting things before then, but that movie was different. I was on set with [Joe] Pesci and [Robert] De Niro, you know. It was a long day, about 16 hours, and the adrenaline was flowing. I started thinking that this was what I wanted to do. I took a shot, it worked out.

How did your life change after The Sopranos?

From an acting perspective, obviously it became easier to get work. The show was a big platform. So I wrote some books and sold some other TV shows. In that way, it was fantastic. As far as my own life goes, I don't buy into the Hollywood scene. I still have the same friends.

What type of offers did you receive post-Sopranos?

I got offered all this reality crap. Everything from Dancing with the Stars to Celebrity Wrestling. I am not a fan of reality TV. I don't mind the shows where you learn something or build a house, but not the Real Housewives or Jersey Shore. That's all garbage. Some people will humiliate themselves or their families just to be on television. I've been offered Celebrity Fit Club, where you have to take off your shirt and get on a scale. I got kids, man. I'm not going to humiliate myself. I'd rather drive a cab.

Didn't you host a poker show for a while?

Yeah, that was fun. Face the Ace. NBC tried it in primetime during the big poker craze a few years ago. Seven episodes and out, you know. Some people played poker before it became trendy and they're probably still playing. It's like the cigar craze, right? These things come and go.

Does your role of a widower dad on The Secret Life of an American Teenager feel more natural for you?

It's more the way I really am. It's a chance for me to play a regular guy and I can draw on my experience as a real dad. The show's creator, Brenda Hampton, gave me a chance, where a lot of people in Hollywood would have me play a mob guy the rest of my life.

Nothing Personal has been green-lit for a second season. Are you researching new stories now?

I read a lot of true-crime books, but sometimes they can put you in a bad mood. The mob stories don't bother me, but when the family and the kids get involved, it's not very happy. It can put you in a funk. I pick and choose.

Will we ever see a Sopranos movie?

That's entirely up to [series creator] David Chase. If he had a good story to tell, who knows? I can't see it myself.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Nothing Personal debuts Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.

TV’s Summer Season, With Enthusiasm

www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Jul 08, 2011) Flashpoint and Weeds returned last week to resolve last season’s respective cliffhanger storylines, with the resolution of Haven coming July 18.

I’m chomping at the bit for the fourth season of Breaking Bad, which starts on AMC July 17.

And I suppose there are also those looking equally forward to the eighth and final season of Entourage, starting July 24 on HBO Canada. I do not happen to be one of them — I gave up on the show several seasons ago — but far be it for me to begrudge you your right to do so (even if they are just a bunch of arrogant, entitled party boys).

To me, the start of a new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is huge.

The return of Enthusiasm is always cause for universal celebration, if only for the fact that there is a new season at all, given creator/star Larry David’s characteristically casual attitude about ever coming back at all, and if so, when.

This eighth season, which debuts tonight on HBO Canada, sees Larry back in Seinfeld territory, which is to say, New York City, a return visit predicated, as per usual, by his unique inability to extricate himself from awkward situations, invariably of his own making.

He’s not even good at being objectionable on purpose — he is enlisted, at one point, as a kind of counter-social hit man, at which he ultimately fails miserably, of course.

It is also more fun to see him single and dating, again à la Seinfeld, with all the more opportunity to shoot himself in the foot. (Meanwhile, fictional ex Cheryl Hines has happily resurfaced in a juicy character role as a trophy wife in the new fall comedy Subpurgatory).

One hesitates to give too much away — the escalation of inappropriateness is half the entertainment value, though I am always relieved when it stops short of cringe-inducing, as it seems to do fairly dependably this season, based on the first three episodes I was able to preview.

I am particularly looking forward to an upcoming storyline that has David accusing Michael J. Fox of milking his Parkinson’s for publicity purposes.

My enthusiasm, clearly, has not yet been curbed.


Superhero series have not been doing well: Heroes proved ultimately to be less than heroic; No Ordinary Family was entirely ordinary; The Cape quickly became a shroud; Wonder Woman never even made it to air.

Finally, there is a super-powered show that actually flies. Alphas, which debuts Monday night on Space, features the adventures of a team of advanced human beings who use their respective powers for good, against those who would use theirs for evil.

It’s all about character, and Alphas is as character-driven as genre television gets, starting with series lead David Strathairn, the character actor’s character actor, taking time out from a prolific film career to head up the neurotic, bickering but ultimately effective super-team of the title.

Straithairn’s crunchy-granola shrink, part therapist, part babysitter, part strategist, oversees a largely dysfunctional crime-fighting crew: an ex-FBI agent with adrenaline-derived super-strength and major anger issues; a sensory extra-sensitive with poor self-esteem; a mind-manipulating seductress; a techno-genius autistic; a flawless marksman who’s gone all Manchurian Candidate . . . Even the bad guy (Jeff Seymour) is an obsessive compulsive clean freak.

I’m already hooked. I like these people and their fractured interactions, and I like that the show doesn’t take any of this stuff too seriously.

And hey, you’ve gotta love a guy who can lift a minivan — if only when he’s really, really pissed off.

There’s an added bonus of fun for Torontonians. The series is shot here, and it’s a blast trying to identify the disguised local landmarks, re-dressed subway entrances and news boxes and, best of all, the team’s secret headquarters at . . . the local Bowlerama.


Another new show, The Yard, which debuted Friday on The Movie Network, is somewhat less successful.

It is to The Wire what Bugsy Malone was to The Untouchables — a parody of a specific pop-culture crime genre casting little kids as the criminals.

Think Degrassi gone bad, as warring factions clash over schoolyard turf, where teachers are “screws” and there’s beaucoup pocket change to be made dealing smuggled-in peanut butter-and-jam sandwiches.

That sadly is pretty much the level of the satire, though I can see where it would be difficult to give it more bite when it’s cute little pre-teens doing the biting. It’s tough enough buying the obscenity-laden dialogue, as stoically straight-faced as these precocious kids deliver it.

It’s a great concept, but maybe would have worked better as a single, hour-long mockumentary, rather than six separate half-hours.


‘Gilligan’s Island’ Creator Sherwood Schwartz Dies At 94

www.thestar.com - By Bang Showbiz

(Jul 12, 2011) LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—The man who created Gilligan’s
Island and The Brady Bunch has died. Great niece Robin Randall says Sherwood Schwartz died at 4 a.m. Tuesday. He was 94. Schwartz was a veteran comedy writer when he created two of TV’s best-remembered sitcoms in the 1960s. Over the years, they have inspired parodies, spinoffs and countless stand-up comedy jokes. Gilligan’s Island featured a hummable theme song telling how a boatload of seven characters, including a professor and a movie star, wound up stranded on an island. Bob Denver played Gilligan, the assistant skipper. The Brady Bunch featured Florence Henderson as a widow with three daughters who marries a widower with three sons. A bigscreen version, The Brady Bunch Movie, was a surprise box-office hit in 1995.

Rogers Launching Canadian Version Of 'Got Talent'

www.thestar.com - By The Canadian Press

(July 12, 2011)
Rogers Media is launching a Canadian version of the hit Got Talent TV reality franchise. Citytv will air Canada's Got Talent in the spring, after visiting Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Halifax, Montreal and Toronto this fall for auditions. A casting call is going out to singers, dancers, jugglers, cyclists, fire breathers, illusionists, acrobats, ventriloquists, musicians — or anyone else who thinks they have a unique talent to share. There is no age limit for contestants. Selected performers will compete before a panel of judges in front of a live studio audience. The show is being executive produced by John Brunton of Insight Production Company Ltd., which was also behind Battle of the Blades, Canadian Idol and Top Chef Canada. More information on applying for the show is available at http://www.canadasgottalent.com.

A New Show For Callum Keith Rennie

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

(Jul 12, 2011)
Callum Keith Rennie is joining The Firm.  Veteran
Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie has joined the cast of a TV adaptation of the John Grisham novel The Firm. Rennie, 50, known for roles in films Memento and Hard Core Logo, has also played parts in many TV series, including Californication, Battlestar Galactica, Shattered and The Killing. In The Firm, due to begin production in Toronto in August, he'll play the older brother of lawyer Mitchell McDeere (Josh Lucas), an investigator who's done time for manslaughter . American actress Juliette Lewis, best known for the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers, is also joining the show. It's expected to air on NBC and Global TV.

A Sneak Peek At The X Factor

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

(Jul 12, 2011) We already knew that a three-minute promo for
The X
Factor is expected to air during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but we'll also be able to see it in Canada during So You Think You Can Dance on Wednesday night, CTV says.  CTV's PR department tweeted Tuesday that the clip will air sometime during the performance show, which begins at 8 p.m. on CTV. The Hollywood Reporter says the promo was produced by head judge and executive producer Simon Cowell, and was made over two days in Miami and Los Angeles. But it's more than just audition clips, Fox Sports president Eric Shanks told THR. “It's big and bold and is very much Simon being Simon and showing off the fruits of his labour."


Hugh Mania Draws Broadway Players To Toronto

www.thestar.com - By Martin Knelman

(Jul 12, 2011) Suddenly Toronto has become an entertainment
hotspot, thanks to Hugh-mania.

Media mogul Ted Turner and Prada-wearing Vogue editor Anna Wintour are among the rich and famous who have been spotted in the audience for Hugh Jackman In Concert at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

And they are not the only power players in the crowd who routinely travel by private jet.

Other VIPS of the entertainment world, including producers and Broadway theatre owners, have also made quick trips to this city to catch Jackman’s act — which has quickly attained buzz status as Broadway’s next big thing.

Like other members of the audience, they have a great time — but they don’t make the trip just for fun. They want to be part of the action, or make a deal with Hugh, or be charter members of a club, the New Yorkers who catch Jackman’s act BEFORE it becomes a Tony-winning Broadway smash.

So far, however, there has been no deal, not even a clear answer to the key question of when there might be time in Jackman’s crowded schedule for an extended New York run. But the betting is that it’s only a question of time until he conquers Broadway.

There would not have been a Hugh Jackman stage show this summer if his next Wolverine movie had gone ahead as originally planned. But it had to be postponed because Japan (where it was to be shot) was rocked by a tsunami and then the original director, Darren Aronofsky, dropped out of the project.

Jackman says the Wolverine movie will now start shooting in October. So he would not be able to accept an offer to bring his stage show to New York this fall — unless the movie is further delayed.

Meanwhile, Jackman is to star as Jean Valjean in a movie version of the musical Les Miserables, which producer Cameron Mackintosh has been planning to start shooting in January, 2012. That could mean Broadway will have to wait until mid-2012.

“It’s great to see Toronto once again as a celebrity destination,” says John Karastamatis, marketing director for Mirvish Productions. “There has been a steady and large stream of distinguished out-of-town-guests.”

Toronto’s luck, as it happens, was to catch this phenomenon at exactly the right moment. When it opened in San Francisco in May, the word was the act was shaky, in need of a fix, and not ready yet for prime time.

By the time it opened at the Princess of Wales Theatre last week, it was hard to see any way the show could be better.

Toronto wasn’t the only city eager to take Jackman’s show on short notice. But he chose Toronto over Chicago — maybe because he has fond memories of filming X-Men here a decade ago.

And luckily for us, Jackman worked out the show’s kinks in San Francisco.

In the New York Post this week, Michael Riedel recalled that word of mouth about the show’s early performances, was “Needs work.” In San Francisco, insiders considered the show ramshackle, with a Vegas-y feel and cruise-ship choreography.

Jackman and his director, Warren Carlyle, tightened and polished the show, making it slicker and tighter.

Presto: Hugh Jackman In Concert is a class act, and definitely ready for Broadway. No wonder the show is selling out. The box-office record for the theatre was recently set by The Lion King, with close to $1.7 million for an eight-performance week. Jackman does seven shows a week rather than eight. Mirvish is not releasing figures but a good guess would be that in its first week it took in around $1.5 million.

Jackman spends a lot of time chatting with fans, and on a typical night, there are 300 of them waiting at the stage door.

There’s just one detail that would have made this fairy tale better. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in Canada the week the show opened, and they were invited. But they bypassed Toronto and flew from the east coast to Yellowknife. William and Kate missed a chance to catch a night to remember at the only theatre in the world named after the future king’s mother.

Carrie Fisher Revisits Her Personal Star Wars In 'Wishful Drinking'

www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman Vancouver

(July 10, 2011)
Carrie Fisher was just 2 when a Hollywood scandal
thrust her into the spotlight: Her celebrity-crooner father, Eddie Fisher, left her movie-star mother, Debbie Reynolds, for a bigger movie star, Elizabeth Taylor. At 19, Fisher became a movie star herself, as Princess Leia in Star Wars. Then came booze, drugs and a struggle with mental illness she now controls with medication and electroconvulsive therapy. Now 54, Fisher tells the (hilarious) story in Wishful Drinking, both a book and one-woman stage show, opening in Toronto this week.

Everyone associates you with Princess Leia, of course, but my personal favourite role of yours was Marie in When Harry Met Sally. How difficult was it to film that scene where you and Bruno Kirby are on the phone at the same time with Harry [Billy Crystal] and Sally [Meg Ryan]?

Oh my God. Horrible. We were all in one soundstage, all four of us. So that means me and Bruno in bed, Meg somewhere, and Billy somewhere. And we all have to do it in real time. It's not edited; we did it as a play. And so we did it like 40 or 50 times. Crazy. So finally [director] Rob [Reiner] goes 'Okay we got it.' And Bruno says 'I think I want another one.' And I said 'You'll get that one alone, sir.' It was hard. I don't like doing things that are hard. But it was worth it.

You don't like doing things that are hard but you get onstage every night and talk about....

That's not hard.

How does all of this personal revelation affect your daughter [Billie, now 18]?

The main thing that bothered her was saying that I turned her father gay. So I'm not touching that again.

How did your father's death affect you? Your relationship with him was different....

But it was good. It was good by the end. I missed him all my life, but now I know who I missed. I got to know him. Because I took care of him. He was not a father. He was a kid. So once I became his parent, we could have a relationship.

Did you ever ask him about leaving your mother when you were so young?

Nah. You don't have to; you look at Elizabeth. I screamed at him: 'You were horrible!' I don't know how much I asked, though.

Elizabeth Taylor died recently too. Your relationship with her must have been pretty complex.

It was good, though. We got along great once we got over the little hump in the beginning. I had heard that she called my mother a Goody Two-Shoes and so I said, 'I heard you did that and I don't think it's cool. She may have been a Goody Two-Shoes, but in light of what happened, and you know 100,000 reasons why that's not cool.' And she kind of looked off and said 'I don't remember doing that,' but clearly she did. Anyway, she goes away and she comes back and she goes 'I'm going to push you in the pool.' And she did.

Elizabeth Taylor pushed you in a pool?

She pushed me in her pool, yes.

Did you maintain a relationship with her?

Yeah, it was great after that. And we did These Old Broads, a TV movie, and my mom had a scene with her and they talked and laughed about "Freddie," their old husband. I can't believe I named him that. And they got along great at that time and it was funny.

I guess you can get over anything, right?

Unless you're dumb. I mean, unless you don't want to.

Do you ever wish that you hadn't been cast as Princess Leia?

No. Well, not right now; probably sometimes. But I don't go around making a point of it.

What did you think when you were first shown the bagel-like hairstyle for the role?

I thought it was horrible, but I thought [George Lucas] was gonna fire me 'cause they told me to lose weight when I got the part and I really couldn't do it. I had a fat face. I only weighed like 105. So they brought me this horrible hairstyle and they said what do you think of it and I said I think it's awesome. What was I gonna say?

On Canadian content, I've read that you're a Leonard Cohen fan and I know you were once engaged to Dan Aykroyd.

I really like Canada. And I was with Danny for a while and he was adorable. He was darling. The first person I was ever engaged to. I went somewhere with him. Ottawa. Eh? I love that accent.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Wishful Drinking is at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto July 12-Aug. 21.

Osmonds Prove They’re Showbiz Pros

www.thestar.com - By Andrea Baillie

(Jul 07, 2011) Donny and Marie Osmond brought their stage spectacle to Toronto on Wednesday night, wowing an adoring crowd with a diverse, high-octane show that included elements of Broadway, big band, rock, country and opera — as well as a heavy dose of 1970s nostalgia and the duo’s trademark cheesy banter.

“I feel like I’m home here,” said Donny, who lived in the city in the 1990s while starring in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a production that breathed new life into his career.

Donny and Marie Live, which runs until July 17, is a variation of the toothy duo’s Las Vegas act, which started out as a six-month gig but was so popular it has been extended through the end of 2012.

The show the siblings put on Wednesday night was a masterful mishmash of old and new from the moment they stepped onstage singing “It Takes Two,” Marie sporting a skin-tight sparkly black Bob Mackie number that she’d recycled from the late ’70s.

Throughout the night, a giant screen projected clips of the pair’s career, including appearances on The Andy Williams Show, where the Osmonds got their start, and the popular ’70s Donny & Marie TV variety show that famously pegged her “a little bit country” and him “a little bit rock ’n’ roll.”

The first half of the show was largely devoted to Marie: as a vintage clip showed her performing “Paper Roses,” she strode onstage in a sparkly purple bodice and long skirt, finishing up the tune. The golden-oldie soon morphed into a mashup of “Walk this Way” and “These Boots Were Made For Walking” as she strummed on a sparkly M-embossed guitar.

Both Donny and Marie repeatedly thanked fans for allowing them five decades in show business.

The experience showed.

Brother and sister deftly worked the audience: Donny hugged a squealing female audience member and urged the crowd to get up and move while Marie pulled an elated man onstage to dance with her.

The lighthearted mood turned sombre, however, as Marie spoke of her longtime work with the Children’s Miracle Network and dedicated an operatic song to her son, Michael Bryan, who committed suicide last year.

The singer seemed genuinely touched to receive several standing ovations: “You keep doing that and I’ll never let what’s-his-face out here,” she quipped.

Still, she was good-natured about the performer the female fans in the audience were clearly waiting for: “I know that you’re here to see Donny,” she said.

Donny and Marie have been enjoying a career resurgence in recent years thanks, in part, to high-profile stints on separate seasons of Dancing With the Stars (Marie was a finalist in 2007 while Donny won his bid in 2009).

Not surprisingly, the competition was fodder for some of the duo’s famous repartee on Wednesday night. The second act of the show began with a montage of DWTS highlights followed by a mock Donny and Marie dance-off.

“At least when I dance, I don’t drop,” taunted Donny, referring to his sister’s fainting episode on the show.

After that, it was Donny’s turn to take centre stage, once again rhapsodizing about his time in the city doing Joseph.

“My wife and our youngest (son) are coming in a few days and we’re going to go to our old neighbourhood, Mount Pleasant . . . and drive down to Niagara-on-the-Lake to get some fudge,” he said to cheers.

“My memories of Toronto go back to the (Canadian National Exhibition). You remember my brothers, don’t you?”

From there he donned a scarf in his trademark purple and sang the Osmonds hit “Yo-Yo” with a group of dancers, precisely mimicking a video of the same moves he and his brothers performed years ago.

As audience members screamed their approval, he moved on to hit after hit: “One Bad Apple,” “Go Away Little Girl” and, of course, “Puppy Love.”

“That’s Justin Bieber up there,” he joked as a shaggy-haired teenage photo of him appeared on the video screens. “I had the haircut first!”

He then launched into “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door” from Joseph, even pulling out the skimpy loincloth he wore in the show.

“You think showbiz is pretty glamorous, right? You try doing that show for six years in diaper,” he deadpanned.

Both siblings seemed struck by the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, an airy, opulent facility that opened a few years ago and is home to the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada.

“What a beautiful place to play,” said Donny as he surveyed the theatre.

The Toronto shows come just weeks after the release of the pair’s first album together in 30 years. Donny and Marie was produced by country producer Buddy Cannon, who has worked with Kenny Chesney.

They’ve both spoken about how their audiences now seem to span several generations and that range was evident at Wednesday’s show. At one point Marie asked two tweens who were sitting up front: “Do you even know who we are?”

Despite the humour, the pair seemed genuinely grateful for the Toronto welcome. After receiving a rapturous standing ovation to end the night, they again referenced the fact that they’ve been making music for almost a half-century.

“After all these years of performing . . .” began Donny, trailing off as the applause swelled.

“This never gets old,” added a choked-up Marie.

They then launched into “May Tomorrow Be a Perfect Day,” the ditty penned by brother Alan Osmond that closed their variety show each week.

“Goodnight everybody!” they said with a wave.

Hail To The Chief! Shaw Revival Of The President Better Than Ever

www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

The President
By Ferenc Molnar, adapted by Morwyn Brebner. Directed by Blair Williams. Until Oct. 9 at the Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake. 1-800-511-SHAW.

(Jul 09, 2011) Is it possible to improve upon perfection? That would certainly seem to be the case in the revival of
The President which opened at the Shaw Festival on Saturday afternoon.

When this dazzling one-act comedy burst seemingly out of nowhere in the summer of 2008, critics and audiences alike were blown away by the sleek structure of Ferenc Molnar’s play, the zesty adaptation of Morwyn Brebner, the turbo-speed direction of Blair Williams and — most of all — the larger than life comedy performance of Lorne Kennedy as a super-executive to end all super-executives.

The plot has classic farce stamped all over it. Norrison, the mega-tycoon, wants to leave on his holiday in an hour, but his gorgeous protégée’s rich, rich parents arrive in town early and he suddenly finds out she’s pregnant by a communist cabdriver.

Most men would throw their hands in the air and flee for the hills, but not Norrison. He views it as a consummate challenge and turns this Bolshevik Liza Doolittle into a worthy son-in-law with an aplomb that would leave Henry Higgins gasping for air,

Shooting orders like bullets from an Uzi, Kennedy commands every man and woman in his organization to bend to his will and commission the suits, shoes, haircuts, biographical details, opera tickets and resignations from the communist party that will make it all possible.

The only response is to sit back, rock with laughter and yet marvel at the skill of it all.

You see, last time, Kennedy was flying by the seat of his pants, hoping that this amazing high-speed laughter engine would fly. There was more than a bit of fear behind his eyes, but that made the victory even sweeter.

Now he’s good and he knows it. But instead of letting it make him lazy, or slovenly, it throws him into higher gear. He is the master of farce, and he plays us like one of the finest classical pianists.

I also got to savour the skill of Brebner’s wit even more this time around and think she deserves three cheers for giving them such great material to deliver.

And director Blair Williams, bless him, simply bless him. Send him and Lorne Kennedy out on tour forever to show how good comedy can be.

Or just keep reviving The President every year at Shaw. It’s the kind of irresistible comic treat I’d gladly pay an annual visit.


Facebook teams up with Time Warner to fight bullies

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Michael Liedtke

(July 12, 2011)
Facebook and Time Warner TWX-N are ganging up
on bullies to address a problem that torments millions of children and young adults.

The partnership announced Tuesday calls for Facebook and Time Warner to use their clout to raise awareness about bullying and encourage more people to report the abuses when they see them.

Facebook's participation reflects a growing recognition that its online social network consisting of more than 750 million people has become an outlet for harassment as well as friendship.

"We believe that by working together with parents and teachers, we can teach young people to speak up and stop bullying," said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer.

The anti-bullying campaign will be waged on the Internet, on TV and radio and several major U.S. magazines. It's being billed as "Stop Bullying: Speak Up," a theme that Time Warner's Cartoon Network has been trumpeting since last year.

Now the message is being extended to Time Warner's CNN on TV and in three of its magazines, People, Time and Sports Illustrated. CNN's Anderson Cooper will host a town hall focused on bullying in October while the magazines will all delve into the topic during the same month.

By the time most kids return to school later this summer, Facebook plans to release a new application that will broadcast a user's pledge to stop bullies. Facebook already introduced a feature to make it easier to report online bullies, or "cyber" bullies, four months ago as part of a White House conference that President Barack Obama held on the topic.

The White House estimates that 13 million students, or nearly one-third of the school-age population in the U.S., are targets of bullying. In a 2009 survey by The Associated Press and MTV, half of the people from 14 to 24 years said they had been cyberbullied.

The harassment, ranging from a person's sexual orientation to their fashion tastes, can lead to emotional problems, drug abuse and, in extreme instances, suicide.

Other media outlets catering to young people have also adopted anti-bullying stances. For example, Viacom Inc.'s Nickelodeon television network unveiled a public service campaign advising its target audience of children ages 2 to 14 on how to counter taunting texts, e-mails and Facebook posts.


Too Young To Save His Mother's Life? Hospital Changes Policy For Teen

www.thestar.com - Raveena Aulakh, Staff reporter

(July 12, 2011) She gave him life, the least he could do was return the

But first the hospital had to be convinced that 17-year-old Trey Gregory was not too young to save his dying mother’s life.

When Toronto General Hospital finally allowed him to donate a piece of his liver, it also changed its policy for the minimum age for live donors.

“I’m alive and my son saved my life,” says Trey’s mother,
Patty Gregory.

Gregory, 54, had liver disease and was put on the transplant waiting list in October 2009. Trey, then 16, wanted to donate.

His mother wouldn’t hear of it. “I was convinced I would get a donor in time,” she says, adding she didn’t want to risk her son’s life.

But as her condition deteriorated and Trey kept insisting, she agreed.

“She was so sick . . . ” says Trey. “I just wanted her to get well.”

But the Toronto General did not allow anyone under 18 to donate. Last March, the shy Grade 12 student at Pickering High School decided to press the issue.

Trey was told repeatedly he wasn’t old enough but that didn’t stop him from lobbying. He met with surgeons, living donor coordinators, a psychiatrist and social workers.

Eventually, he won them over.

A few days before the surgery, he confided in some friends, teachers and the vice-principal at his school.

On May 13, after many blood tests and scans, he underwent an 11-hour surgery where a transplant team removed a piece of his liver. The next few days were a blur of excruciating pain, he says.

By the sixth day, the pain was gone. He was home a week later, and that evening, he went to Kelsey’s for dinner with friends. Two days after that, he was back at school, a bit of a hero even though he won’t admit it.

David Grant, surgical director at Toronto General’s multi-organ transplant program, says the policy was changed because “a young person challenged the age cut-off.”

The hospital’s “robust” assessment procedures means people as young as 16 may now donate a portion of their liver, Grant said.

Liver patients face the second longest wait in Canada, after kidneys. While younger donors don’t face any more risk, “it may be more difficult to ensure they comprehend” all of the benefits and risks involved, says Grant.

The hospital performs about 150 liver transplants a year from live and deceased donors.

Live-donor liver transplantation has a 30 per cent risk of complications, with an estimated five out of 1,000 donors losing their lives.

Gregory’s surgery came five days after Mother’s Day and Trey reckons it was the best gift he’d ever gotten her.

As Gregory waxes eloquent about her son, Trey sits in a corner of the living room quietly answering questions. He reluctantly shows his 23-centimetre scar — it looks like a hockey stick running from his lower abdomen to chest.

It takes more prodding before Trey shows his medals from football, karate, math and javelin throw.

Trey, who will have regular checkups for the next 10 years, says he missed the rugby finals at school but is grateful he will have enough time to recuperate before football starts in September. He is also part of his school’s athletic team.

Gregory is still frail, on pain medication and needs a cane to walk around the house.

A few days after the transplant, she jokingly asked him what he wanted in return for the liver.

One million dollars, he said.

They’ve settled for a Caribbean cruise some time soon.

Toronto Patios: Kensington Market

Source: www.thestar.com - By Cynthia Vukets

(Jul 13, 2011) Moonbean Coffee Co. (30 St Andrew St.): The place:
This no-frills coffee house serves up micro-roasted espresso and loose leaf tea with a selection of light snacks. The patio: Don’t be fooled by the cramped bench and handful of tables on the sidewalk in front, the back patio is roomy and great for lingering over a cuppa with friends or your sweetie. Wooden benches or basic table-and-chair arrangements keep it casual but comfortable enough to settle in with a book or your laptop.

Must know: The espresso supreme is the perfect treat for a hot afternoon when you can’t decide — should we go for coffee or an ice cream cone? Vanilla ice cream topped with hot espresso is delish.

Shade, Private, Cheap

El Trompo (277 Augusta Ave.)

The place: A tiny Mexican cantina offering tacos on homemade corn tortillas, fresh guacamole by the bowlful and brightly coloured margaritas.

The patio: An equally tiny space on the sidewalk. Tables hand-painted with Mexican designs are cozily squished together in a mix of sun and shade. It doesn’t get much better than spicy chicken tacos and a cold Negra Modelo on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Market.

Must-know: The patio is always full, but service is quick so it’s often worth waiting as tables turn over quickly.

Shade, Cheap, Full menu, People watching, Good cocktails, Family-friendly

Ronnie’s Local 069 (66 Nassau St.)

The place: A bare-bones drinking hole that blasts the Sex Pistols and serves food from across the street.

The patio: Full sun hits a collection of picnic tables and plastic patio furniture where tattooed guys in spectacles sip craft lager and older couples taking a break from touring the Market rest their feet. The ultra-cool servers may make you feel insignificant, but just hold your head up and enjoy a cold brew slightly off the beaten Augusta Ave. track.

Must know: Opens at 2 p.m. until “later”

Cheap, People watching, Craft beers

Aspetta Caffé (207 Augusta Ave.)

The place: A small, simple café/bar with plain white furniture, fresh sandwiches, coffee and sangria.

The patio: A collection of folding wooden furniture sits facing the open air “stage” just inside the café. Welcoming, relaxed vibe, all day sun and a youngish crowd.

Must know: Live music almost every day, often by artists so humble they let audience members join in the jam session

Cheap, People watching

The Kensington Cornerstone Restaurant (2A Kensington Ave.)

The place: A casual bistro with brick walls, custom art and mood lighting. Wide range on the menu — from fried apps to sandwiches to salmon — and it seems a bit disorganized, but there’s a kids’ menu and decent cocktail list.

The patio: Well above any other in the neighbourhood on the “our owner cares about whether this looks/feels nice for visitors” scale. Upper-end plastic patio furniture, umbrellas, flower boxes and a nice wooden railing create a relaxing space that feels private but still lends itself to people-watching.

Must know: Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and they have gluten-free beer.

Shade, Romantic, Private, People-watching, Craft beers, Good cocktails, Family-friendly


Chris Tucker Returns to Stand-Up Comedy

Source: www.eurweb.com

(Jul 13, 2011) *
Chris Tucker is on the scene y’all and has announced
his return to stand-up comedy. He’s scheduled an 18-date tour that will begin August 19 in Long Beach, Calif. It’s been a while since the comedian has made fans laugh via on-stage comedy. After his co-staring role in the hit “Rush Hour” movie franchise, the comedian sort of fell by the wayside when it came to stand-up comedy. He also struggled with a few other things. But now he’s back on his feet and ready to get those tears rolling and stomachs hurting with laughter. Tickets go on sale July 15.


Fare Deals: Maui And Mexico On Sale

www.thestar.com - Kathryn Folliott

(Jul 8, 2011) Imagine a months-long renovation for your home. Now
imagine hosting a steady parade of guests throughout the entire project. Such is the life for hoteliers, who overhaul everything from rooms to restaurants to pools and spas, all the while offering a welcome respite to weary travellers. No wonder so many of them entice vacationers with special rates designed to offset any inconvenience. At the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui, a multi-million-dollar renovation of the property’s primary restaurant this fall comes with deep discounts to room rates, for travel Aug. 15 to Dec. 16, subject to availability. In all accommodation categories, rates have dropped by 50 per cent, while two- and three-bedroom villas are also on sale, by up to 35 per cent. For a suite, the lead-in rate is $219 (all prices U.S.) per night, down from $349. There’s also the option to add a breakfast buffet, for a starting rate of $254 per night. The hotel says all resort operations will continue as usual during the reno, with at least one restaurant open for breakfast and lunch, and two dining options for dinner, and all work will take place between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. KA’s update follows a renovation of all suites, villas and pool areas last year. See www.fairmont.com/kealani.


Wyndham Hotels & Resorts properties through the
Caribbean, Mexico and the U.S. are offering fourth nights free with the “Pay 3, Getaway 4” promotion, on through Dec. 31. And six all-inclusive Viva Wyndham resorts in the Bahamas, Mexico and the Dominican Republic have a “Kids Stay Free” package, running until Aug. 31 for up to two kids per family, ages 12 and under, with a minimum two-night stay. Additional packages and discounts are available at individual properties, including the Wyndham Orlando, offering the Give Me Credit package from $89 (all prices U.S.) per night with a $25 food and beverage credit daily, also with a minimum two-night stay. See www.wyndham.com.


The “My Stay My Way” package at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in
Arizona comes with dining for up to two adults and two children 10 years old and younger, with suite accommodation, for $319 (all prices U.S.) per night for travel through Sept. 10. Each adult has the choice of one spa treatment, or 18 holes of golf, per day. See www.tapatiocliffshilton.com.


Princess Cruises’ “Sun Drenched Deals” promotion offers savings of up to $1,000 (all prices U.S.) off sailings to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Tahiti and the South Pacific. Seven-night Caribbean cruises start at $499 per person, while a 10-day Tahiti and Polynesia itinerary, visiting Papeete, Huahine, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Bora Bora and Moorea, leads in at $2,195. See www.princess.com.

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


Sunquest: Ocho Rios, air & hotel, $740 (July 23). www.sunquest.ca

Air Canada Vacations: Two-night Houston, air & hotel, $709 (Aug. 2). www.aircanadavacations.com

Nolitours: Punta Cana, air & hotel, $449 (Sept. 1). www.nolitours.com

Signature Vacations: Riviera Maya, air & hotel, $775 (July 28). www.signaturevacations.com

Transat Holidays: Campania, Italy, air & hotel, $799 (Aug. 30). www.transatholidays.com

Bel Air Travel: St. Lucia, air & hotel, $768 (Aug. 14). www.belairtravel.com

Sunwing Vacations: Los Cabos, air & hotel, $595 (July 11). www.sunwing.ca

Sell Off Vacations: Sosua, air & hotel, $497 (July 21). www.selloffvacations.com

itravel2000: Barcelona, air & hotel, $979 (Aug. 5). www.itravel2000.com

Sears Travel: London, air & hotel, $1,050 (Aug. 21). www.searstravel.ca

WestJet Vacations: Turks & Caicos, air & hotel, $1,069 (Sept. 10). www.westjetvacations.com

Tour East Holidays: Eight-night Jordan & Dubai, air, hotel, meals, sightseeing, $2,499 for 2 (Nov. 10). www.toureast.com


Bautista Makes History, Lifts Jays To 5-4 Win Over Indians

www.thestar.com - Daniel Girard

(Jul 9, 2011) CLEVELAND—The sizeable contingent of Blue Jays fans at Progressive Field made their opinion known immediately after each of Jose Bautista’s historic blasts.

“M-V-P!” they stood and chanted repeatedly as the Toronto slugger circled the bases following his MLB-leading 30th and 31st home runs of the season here Saturday night, which also set the club record for most round-trippers before the all-star break.

The second one, to lead off the 10th, gave the Blue Jays a 5-4 win before 27,661 fans.

“That’s why he’s our best player,” said manager John Farrell. “He comes through at moments like that, not just when you’re down by three or four or up by three or four.”

Bautista’s third-inning blast, which came on an 85-mile-per-hour cutter from Cleveland Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin on a 1-0 count, gave Bautista one more home run than fellow Dominican George Bell, who had 29 before the all-star break in 1987.

His second gave the Blue Jays a second straight victory after losing a heartbreaker to open the series, when they gave up five in the ninth, including a walk-off grand slam in a 5-4 loss.

“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit and try to hit it hard,” Bautista said of his decisive hit off a 1-0 94 m.p.h. four-seam fastball from Cleveland reliever Chris Perez.

“I went back and looked at the replay. He tried to go away but he missed inside and I took advantage. I was ready for it and I hit it well enough.”

Bautista’s first homer made him the fastest Blue Jay to reach 100 home runs in a Toronto uniform. He got there in his 377th game, nearly 100 ahead of the only two other Blue Jays to do it in less than 500 games — Fred McGriff (473) and Joe Carter (475).

Bautista said he wasn’t aware he was chasing the Blue Jays’ home run record before the all-star break until he tied it here with his 29th in the series-opener on Thursday.

“It’s a great thing to do, obviously something that’s going to look good on the back of my baseball card,” Bautista said of the record. “But I’ll enjoy those things in the off-season.

“Right now we’re more focused on getting wins.”

Bautista has now hit 85 home runs since the start of last season.

The 10th inning home run made a winner of Jon Rauch (3-3), who came in to close out an outstanding eight-inning performance by Brandon Morrow but gave up the tying run.

“The guy’s having a phenomenal year,” Rauch said of Bautista.

“But you can’t look past the performance that Morrow had tonight too. He was able to go out there and shut that lineup down for eight solid innings,” said Rauch, who surrendered a two-out RBI double to Travis Buck on the 11th pitch to blow his third save.

It was another strong outing for Morrow. The 26-year-old right-handed power pitcher gave up just three hits, struck out eight and walked two over his eight innings. His four-seam fastball still reached 95 m.p.h. against his final batter. He left with a 4-3 lead.

“I was throwing the ball well and it’s obvious when I get ahead of guys I can be pretty dominant,” said Morrow, who saw both of his walks come around to score, including one on Grady Sizemore’s fourth-inning two-run homer that tied the game 3-3.

“I was feeling strong. I felt good,” Morrow (5-4) said when asked if he thought he could come out for the ninth despite throwing 109 pitches. “They don’t like you to get too high on the pitch count, so that’s the manager’s call but I was feeling strong.”

Farrell called it “an outstandingly pitched game by Brandon.”

“He was very strong, and seemed to get more powerful as the game went on, not only with his execution, but his slider seemed to have some late bite to it.”

But Farrell said he didn’t hesitate going to Rauch to close it out and said he thought he pitched well and was beaten by a tremendous at-bat by Buck to tie the game.

“We’ve got to continue to pitch all the way through the game,” he said.

Eskimos Are The CFL's Early Feel-Good Story

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

(Jul 13, 2011) The
Edmonton Eskimos are the CFL's feel-good story
early this season.

Projected to be tooth-and-nail to make the CFL playoffs with a young roster and rookie head coach, Edmonton finds itself atop the West Division standings with a 2-0 record. More surprising, though, has been how complete the Eskimos have been in their two wins.

Currently, Edmonton leads the CFL in scoring (35 points per game), total offensive yards (467.5 yards), rushing (140 yards), passing completion (72.4 per cent) and fewest rushing yards allowed (60 per game) and stands second in passing yards (341), fewest points allowed (19 points) and most interceptions (four).

Quarterback Ricky Ray stands second among CFL passers with 682 yards, has completed 72 per cent of his throws with four touchdowns against no interceptions. Tailback Jerome Messam, acquired prior to the season from B.C., is the league's second-leading rusher with 141 yards (5.4-yard average) while slotback Fred Stamps stands second among receivers with 10 catches for 212 yards and a TD, complemented nicely by Adarius Bowman (11 catches, 172 yards, one TD) and Jason Barnes (eight catches, 169 yards, two TDs).

Linebacker J.C. Sherritt anchors a youthful defence, standing second overall in tackles (14) heading into Saturday's game against the B.C. Lions (0-2).

Special teams have also been solid as kicker Damon Duval, who wasn't re-signed in the off-season by the Grey Cup-champion Montreal Alouettes, has hit on 4-of-5 field goals and sports a respectable 45-yard punting average.

Defensive back Corbin Sharun leads the CFL in special-teams tackles with five while teammate Mike Miller, also a defensive back, is in a five-way tie for second overall with four.

All this creates game-planning issues for the Eskimos' rivals because they have too much to consider in their pre-game preparations. The biggest challenge for Edmonton, though, is to continue doing what it does well while adding timely new wrinkles and opening up the playbook to not only keep things fresh for their players but also give opposing teams more to worry about.

Here's a look at other things worth looking at heading into this week's games:


The Montreal quarterback has been white hot this season in leading the Alouettes to a 2-0 record. He's the CFL's passing leader with 731 yards and eight TDs against just one interception.

And with his next TD pass, Calvillo will surpass Damon Allen as the CFL's all-time leader with 395 (and counting).

Somehow containing Calvillo will be the challenge facing the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night in Montreal.

Toronto's defence will be hurting, with veteran linebacker Kevin Eiben unable to play due to injury. The unit is already missing veteran middle linebacker Jason Pottinger (knee) so rookie Anthony Cannon, who has performed well in spot duty, will likely play much more against Montreal.

Eiben's absence could also hurt Toronto's special teams as he serves as Noel Prefontaine's holder. What's more, Prefontaine is a left-footed kicker, presenting another challenge for a new holder.

Toronto's offence can't afford to get into a track meet with Calvillo and Co., especially considering the absence of tailback Cory Boyd (knee). Rookie Chad Kackert has big shoes to fill in the Argos' backfield.


Edmonton might be the CFL's top feel-good story this season, but Winnipeg is a close second thanks to its stellar defence.

After posting a league-worst 4-14 record last year, the Bombers are tied with Montreal atop the East Division.

Winnipeg's defence scored the game-winning touchdown on an interception return against Hamilton to open the season before registering seven sacks in last week's victory over Toronto.

Defensive tackle Doug Brown and end/linebacker Odell Willis are tied for the CFL sacks lead with three apiece to anchor a Bombers unit that has registered a league-high nine sacks. Winnipeg is also allowing a league-low 16 points and 297 total yards per game and leads in interceptions (five).

Winnipeg's defensive prowess will be put to the test Thursday when the Bombers host Henry Burris and the Calgary Stampeders.

BAD versus BAD

Something has to give Saturday night in Hamilton as the Tiger-Cats host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a battle of 0-2 teams.

Hamilton sports the league's worst offence but faces a Saskatchewan defence that's had its share of trouble this season.

The Ticats have scored just 26 points in two games. Despite the off-season acquisition of tailback Avon Cobourne, Hamilton is second-last overall in rushing (70.5 yards per game) as well as passing (223 yards). Quarterback Kevin Glenn has thrown for just 406 yards with twice as many interceptions (four) as TD strikes (two).

Slotback Arland Bruce III, who had 1,303 yards receiving last season, has five catches for 48 yards.

The Riders are last overall in points allowed (40.5 per game), yards allowed (433), touchdowns allowed (10), passing completion (71.4 per cent) and passing yards (356.5).


The Lions (0-2) are averaging a league-low 51 yards rushing and supporters will suggest that's because the club has fallen behind and forced to abandon the run.

But twice in last week's 34-32 loss to Calgary the Lions couldn't convert in second-and-short situations.

Quarterback Travis Lulay is the Lions' rushing leader with 58 yards on five carries while tailbacks Andrew Harris (four carries, 14 yards) and Jamal Robertson (four carries, 13 yards) have both struggled.

Canadian football is a passing game, but an effective run game certainly has its place, a fact the Lions will see first-hand when they face the upstart Eskimos.

Ryu Edges Seo in Playoff To Win U.S. Women’s Open

www.thestar.com - Eddie Pells

(Jul 11, 2011) COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.—A special day for South
Korea turned out to be even more special for So Yeon Ryu.

Fighting her way into a tie at the end of 72 holes and then shutting the door on her rival, Ryu won the U.S. Women’s Open on Monday, defeating Hee Kyung Seo by three shots in a three-hole playoff.

Ryu became the fifth South Korean to win the Open and the fourth in the last seven years. Yes, they take their golf seriously there, and Se Ri Pak — the queen of the sport in that country — was out on the course watching the 21-year-old Ryu make history. When it was over, the Koreans rushed onto the green and doused Ryu with champagne.

“I’m proud of it,” Ryu said. “To see my hero, Se Ri Pak, out there fighting for me. It’s pretty powerful, yeah.”

Ryu played the three-hole playoff in 2-under par, all but sealing it when she hit three perfect shots to the green on the par-5 17th for a birdie while Seo drove into a bunker and had to scramble for bogey.

For good measure, Ryu hit her approach on 18 to four feet for another birdie.

But really, it was the birdie she made on 18 about an hour earlier that set up the win.

Trailing by one to an opponent who had closed out her round before darkness stopped play the previous night, Ryu hit a 6-iron uphill, over the lake on No. 18 to six feet. She slammed the putt home to pull into a tie and ended up with two birdies in an hour on a hole that yielded only 28 over five days.

Nobody will ever say Ryu backed into this victory, won on a 7,000-yard Broadmoor course that got hit by storms every day, turning it into a test of endurance for some players and a sporadic series of starts and stops for others.

“It’s never over ‘til it’s over, especially in these things,” Cristie Kerr said. “People really want it, and that was a gutsy putt.”

Kerr also had a chance. She came in trailing by two with two holes to play, but couldn’t convert a 12-foot putt from the fringe on 17 to make things interesting. She finished third at 1-under par.

Angela Stanford birdied 16 to also give herself an outside shot. But she, too, made par on 17 and wound up even par and in fourth place.

Sue Kim of Langley, B.C., finished 14 over in a tie for 50th.

Seo was the best on Sunday, when she played 36 holes over 14 hours and finished both rounds at 3-under 68 to finish regulation at 3-under 281. But there was one hiccup: A short putt that rimmed out on No. 17 when she was rushing to finish — a ball hit while the wind was whipping, leaving her uneasy as she stood over it. It left her at 3 under instead of 4 under and gave Ryu a glimmer of hope.

“I think one mistake yesterday on the 17th green, that’s the one,” Seo said.

Seo came to the course Monday knowing she might be able to collect the trophy without hitting a shot. She was warming up on the driving range when she heard a roar from the 18th grandstand. It was Ryu’s approach shot. She had to go out for three more holes and is now 0-2 against Seo in head-to-head playoffs. They also went three holes at the Chinese Ladies Open in 2009.

Ryu, who still plays most of her golf on the Korean Tour, joins Pak, Birdie Kim, Inbee Park and Eun Hee Ji on the list of South Korean U.S. Open champions. She took the lead in the much-watched contest to supplant Pak as the country’s greatest player, though it figures this race — like the tournament they just finished — will be a marathon. Ryu is 21 and Seo just turned 25.

“Big celebrating right now,” Pak said. “I was walking three holes and looked back and said, ‘All I can say is I’m very proud — proud to be Korean, proud for them to be out there and playing their best.’ They’re the true champions. I’m very happy to see it.”

Capitals make Christian Hanson a former Maple Leaf

www.thestar.com - By Andrea Baillie

(Jul 11, 2011) ARLINGTON, VA.—The Washington Capitals have signed
centre Christian Hanson to a one-year contract.

The 25-year-old played most of last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ American Hockey League affiliate, collecting 13 goals and 34 points in 58 games.

He was called up for six games with the Leafs last season — his third with the club after being signed as an un-drafted free agent in 2009.

The 6-4, 228-pound forward has three goals, six assists in 42 career NHL games.

The Venetia, Penn., native is the son of Dave Hanson, who is best known for playing one of the Hanson Brothers in the 1977 hockey comedy “Slap Shot.”

Hanson was one of three heralded U.S. college players that signed with the Leafs in 2009 along with
Tyler Bozak and Viktor Stalberg. The trio played together on a line in training camp as they tried to make the jump to the NHL and were quickly dubbed the Frat Line.

Of the three, only Bozak remains in Toronto.

On Sunday, the Blackhawks announced they had signed Stalberg to a two-year contract.

Stalberg had 12 goals and 12 assists last season, his first with Chicago after being acquired from Toronto as part of the trade for
Kris Versteeg.

Stalberg has 21 goals, 17 assists and 73 penalty minutes in 117 career regular-season games over parts of two NHL seasons with Toronto and Chicago.

Colts’ John Mackey Was Defined By Greatness, Illness

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Alan Schwarz, The New York Times News Service

(July 10, 2011) As
John Mackey described the biggest game he won,
he merely demonstrated all he had lost.

In March of 2007, in his Hall of Fame golf shirt and trademark black cowboy hat, Mackey proudly recounted how in Super Bowl V, he caught a 75-yard touchdown pass that fuelled his Baltimore Colts’ 16-13 victory over Dallas. The problem was, the question was only: “Where do you live, John?”

When asked about that 75-yard catch, he answered with clipped non sequiturs like: “They put me in the Hall of Fame” and “I want a cookie.” He used a spoon to drink his coffee, thinking it was soup.

The legacy of Mackey, who died last week at 69, will derive less from how his muscles revolutionized the tight end position from 1963 to 1972, or how his heart fought for players’ free-agency rights, but from how his brain atrophied before football’s eyes. No player so vividly advertised the growing problem of early-onset dementia among veterans of his era, or so unknowingly spurred the NFL to recognize it.

Mackey was first found to have frontal temporal dementia in 2000, the same year that the owner of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones, told ESPN he would push his oft-concussed quarterback Troy Aikman into crucial games because “there is no evidence of any long-term, lasting impact” from head trauma in the NFL. A few years later, a committee of doctors appointed by the league published several papers making the same claim, to the howls of more independent experts.

As this unfolded, Mackey deteriorated to the point that he needed continual in-home care. He could no longer fly after becoming so enraged at an airport security checkpoint – agents asked him to remove his Super Bowl V and Hall of Fame rings – that he burst toward the gate and had to be wrestled to the ground, screaming, by armed officials. He kept mumbling, “I got in the end zone.”

While the NFL minted videos featuring the hallowed Colts of Unitas and Moore and Mackey, Sylvia Mackey, John’s 60-year-old wife, became a United Airlines flight attendant to pay mounting medical bills. She grew so distraught that she wrote a three-page letter to Paul Tagliabue, the departing NFL commissioner, to alert him to what was happening to one of the game’s legends.

Sylvia Mackey’s haunting description of dementia – “a slow, deteriorating, ugly, caregiver-killing, degenerative, brain-destroying tragic horror,” she called it – almost brought Tagliabue to tears. He and the players’ union swiftly created a fund that would pay up to $88,000 (all currency U.S.) in medical expenses to the families of retired players with dementia. Why $88,000? John Mackey wore No. 88. It continues today simply as the 88 Plan, forever identified with Sylvia as much as John.

The move was not entirely magnanimous. The NFL – and, curiously, the players’ union of which Mackey was once president – continued to claim that football and dementia were not related, that the 88 Plan was merely an effort to help players in need. (Dementia, a league spokesman explained, was a condition “that affects many elderly people.”) But the fuse was lit, and an explosion loomed.

Dozens of applications poured in, demonstrating the wide population of NFL veterans with cognitive decline. Sylvia Mackey became the nexus of a growing support network of NFL wives whose husbands were mentally vanishing in middle age. She offered them expertise and empathy, often during layovers in Denver or elsewhere. She signed off e-mails as Mrs. .88.

A total of 166 players have benefited from the 88 Plan over four years, receiving almost $13-million and counting. Their age distribution also helped confirm that NFL players were, indeed, receiving diagnoses of dementia or other memory-related diseases earlier and more often than other American men, prompting congressional hearings and safety-related reform from the professionals to the peewees.

Whether John Mackey’s condition actually resulted from football will probably remain a mystery. Sylvia Mackey pledged last year to donate his brain to researchers at Boston University to see if he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the collision-induced disease that compromises cognitive function and has been discovered in almost two dozen retired NFL players. But even a positive diagnosis cannot definitively confirm her suspicions of football’s role.

“I can’t say I do know for certain,” Mackey said. “In an exhibition game in Hershey, Pa., he ran into the goal post headfirst. Well, he has frontal temporal dementia, but how can I prove it? I can’t even find a record of that. I just remember the incident because I was there.”

In his mid-60s, Mackey’s downturn became more poignant. He petulantly refused to brush his teeth or shower until Sylvia printed out a fake NFL directive – she signed Paul Tagliabue’s name at the bottom – and taped it to his bathroom door. (He immediately followed orders.) He would forget which mailbox was his until being reminded it was Johnny Unitas’s uniform number, 19.

Linked to football or not, Mackey’s dementia became the most resonant among scores of more anonymous cases dotted across the United States. It was the elephant in reunion rooms, with some players changing the subject if the name came up. In some ways John Mackey became the Lou Gehrig of football, a legend defined by his demise.

In the end, mercifully, the only football insider who did not know John Mackey’s fate – and lasting impact – was No. 88 himself.

“John doesn’t know what’s happening to him,” Sylvia Mackey said in March of 2007, sitting beside her husband as he swallowed a dozen Oreos. “John is happy, everything is fine, he is above ground, he is having a good time, he is enjoying life, and he played football.”

New York Times News Service

Sugar Ray On Pacquiao, Money May: "I'd Knock 'Em Both Out."

www.thestar.com - Raveena Aulakh, Staff reporter

(July 12, 2011) Of course, he was kidding when he said that...sort of. 
Sugar Ray Leonard may be one of the best to ever lace on gloves, an Olympic gold medalist and six-division world champ who blended technique, tactics and tenacity like few others, but he has one thing in common with the rest of us.

He's a boxing fan.

His insights into a hypothetical superfight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather may carry more weight than mine or yours, but like me and you he'd rather see the fight than speculate about it.

But that didn't stop us from asking him a few questions about the fight we all want to see but might never witness.

Tuesday afternoon we caught up with Leonard to discuss his new autobiography, and after talking books he agreed to go twelve rounds with your favourite sportswriter, tackling topics from his favourite place to fight, to whether he deserved a draw in his rematch with Thomas Hearns, to how Mayweather and Pacquiao would fare against him in his prime.

Fun stuff as always, and props to Sugar Ray for his honesty. 

To listen to an interview that goes way more than twelve rounds, click the link below.


Brad Pitt To Help Introduce All-Star Game Broadcast


(July 12, 2011) NEW YORK—Before Major League Baseball’s All-Star
game airs, sports fans will get to hear another all-star in action: Brad Pitt. The Oscar-nominated actor is narrating an opening segment of the 82nd all-star Game, airing Tuesday night. MLB says in a statement Pitt and the segment will celebrate baseball stars from the past and present. The 47-year-old actor stars as former baseball player and current Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane in the upcoming film “Moneyball,” out in September. Justin Timberlake is also scheduled to be interviewed during the game. The game is being held at the Chase Field in Phoenix. It airs at 8 p.m. ET.

Phil Davis out of UFC 133

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(Jul 13, 2011) TORONTO —
Phil (Mr. Wonderful) Davis is injured
and has had to pull out of his main event with former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans at UFC 133 next month. UFC president Dana White confirmed the injury to The Canadian Press via text. Davis had been slated to face Evans on Aug. 6 in Philadelphia. The former Penn State wrestling star was himself an injury replacement, stepping in for light-heavyweight title-holder Jon (Bones) Jones against Evans.