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LE NEWSLETTER

June 30, 2011


 

Happy Canada Day Canadians!!  It's the beginning of a long and busy weekend in Toronto!  Hopefully the weather holds out for the entire time.  Its also Pride weekend which celebrates more diversity in this great country. Check out the listings under OTHER NEWS for the many choices of what to do with your long weekend. 

Now, I have some special surprises for you this week.  Divine Brown will soon be releasing her next album entitled Something Fresh and you can get your FREE surprise by checking out the SCOOP below. You won't be disappointed by clicking away!

Now your second surprise - I have some new and exciting Jill Scott releases to give away!  If you can answer what R&B/soul artist she sings a duet with under TOP STORIES, then you can be a winner!  Please include your full name and mailing address to win and enter HERE.

Well once again so much news including the one and only Sade, the end of the long postal strike, the heart of a champion in Canada's Christine Sinclair and the passing of a TV legend, Peter FalkThink that's it?  Think again and take your scroll into your weekly entertainment news.

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!

::SCOOP::

Divine Brown: “Something Fresh, Indeed” Free Download

Source: Fullcc Management

FREE download available from Divine Brown's soon to be released album: "Something Fresh" from the Sound Cloud site here.

When
Divine Brown enters a room the energy becomes electric. It’s that classic combination of attitude and altitude, for with Divine, people instantly recognize her as music royalty which she carries fearlessly having earned rather than borrowed her crown.  It’s in her ability to at once invoke the empowered sexuality of Pam Grier’s seventies superwoman, Foxy Brown, while remaining immediately contemporary, exciting and fresh that drives her appeal. Fearless. Foxy. Fresh. Ladies and Gentlemen it’s time you know Divine Brown.

When “The Love Chronicles” (2008) won the Juno® Award for Best R&B Album in 2009, Divine Brown had already achieved a level of success that most often eludes young girls with dreams of making it big as a singer. A Toronto native, Brown’s fearless approach to life first shows up as a steadfast commitment to her music in the face of half-hearted support from her working class Jamaican family who would most likely have preferred she pursue a safe path like Nursing rather than the mercurial business of Music. Yet, armed with the gift of a 5-octave vocal range and a love for the Soul music she soaked up listening to American radio, Brown set out to make something happen. And happen it did, though not overnight. First came the years of countless performances in clubs honing her vocal craft nightly singing from the canon of Chaka, Patti and the Queen herself – Aretha. As performances led to recording, Brown quickly learned that her audience responded to her fresh takes on classic soul styles.  Her self-penned tune “Old Skool Love,” charted a path for International success driving the Gold sales of her eponymous debut album (Divine Brown, 2005) . The single and video whet the appetites of U.S. Soul music fans, and a Reggae remix version secured the attention of Riddim junkies in Jamaica fuelling Divine to reach for something more.

While waiting for the businessmen to make their move, Divine decided to make moves of her own and with the formation of her own Divine Brown Entertainment began recording on her own the songs that would eventually become the award winning  album “The Love Chronicles.” A concept album that draws upon Brown’s affinity for soul music across the generations, the largely self penned project yielded the sexually empowered “Lay It On The Line,” the deeply emotional “One More Chance,” and the chart topping homage to 80’s pop “Sunglasses.” A Canadian Bravo TV special “Live from the Concert Hall” brought her live show to audiences across the country further solidifying her reputation as a talent to be revered.

In possession of an empowered sexuality that allows her to navigate the dark waters of the music business with confidence, Divine Brown brings Foxy to a new generation. A single mom who candidly admits that with the birth of her daughter her will to succeed kicked into overdrive, Divine Brown makes the fictitious Foxy Brown a mere figment of men’s imagination.  Her tightly toned frame honed from high energy performances and hours training in Capoeira with her Brazilian Mestre, Brown appears prepared to prove to women around the globe that “sexy”  and “Mom” aren’t mutually exclusive. The walk, the talk, the sense of personal style all contribute to the sense that with Divine the heat is tangible and natural, akin to Arthea Franklin’s “Natural Woman” come to life. As with many women, Divine’s fearless approach yields a satisfying outcome and serves as a new millennium role model for those who simply choose to pay attention.

Divine Brown marks the dawn of a new decade with a collection of new music for her fans. In a landscape cluttered with autotuned Poptarts and half-hearted songcraft, Divine and her music stand apart. “Something Fresh” represents a watershed moment in Brown’s musical evolution, building upon the vocal style she’s delivered in the past, married to bright new production and songwriting that is both innovative and fresh. A collection of radio and dance floor-ready jams, the breezy title track “Something Fresh About You,” treats the fans that drove “Sunglasses” to the top of the charts with something new, complete with an instant sing-along hook, while  “Play My Jam” swaggers it’s way to the dance floor with a plea to the DJ to “rock my party”. Continuing the party theme is the global sound of “World Party,” which implies a globe unified under the strobe lights. Then, drawing upon her Jamaican roots once again, Divine offers up a tribute to Reggae royalty Dennis Brown with a drenched in soul version of his massive cut “Sitting & Watching.” Armed out the gate with club remixes designed to ignite the DJs and fans who fuelled her Top 15 success on the Billboard Dance chart, it’s all part of Divine’s plan for global domination which includes a torrent of new fresh music, a stylish reality series showcasing her work/life balancing act and continuing her fearless commitment to making a career in the “old skool” way; with her talent.  She’s already proven she’s Fearless, Foxy, and Fresh – so, like the taste of home baked bread compared with the flat dry confection of the Poptarts, audiences around the world will now know that Divine Brown has “Something Fresh” indeed.

Online:
www.divinebrown.ca
www.myspace.com/divinebrown
www.facebook.com/divinebrown


Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVY9dNkg7FA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UTvuO-VG2k
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPCDL6kZAgA&feature=related

Old Skool Love Reggae Remix:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jjPgnUYaZI&feature=related

::TOP STORIES::

AUDIO and VIDEO: Jill Scott Talks ‘Light of the Sun’ on Eve of Release

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(Jun 20, 2011) *
Jill Scott’s new album “The Light of the Sun,” her first since departing Hidden Beach Recordings for a label deal with Warner Bros., finally drops tomorrow with tracks produced by music veteran Terry Lewis, as well as JR Hutson and Justice League.

In an exclusive interview with EUR’s
Lee Bailey, the singer says her fourth studio album came together a bit more organically than her previous work.

“Normally I’m kind of held on by the pen and pad, but this time it was really just a freeing experience,” she says. “I just stood in front of a microphone and allowed what came out of my mouth to come without questioning it or second-writing it.

“That’s pretty much how the entire album went down. From the first verse to the last hook, it all came out in one thought. I feel like I blacked out and came back. Something in my spirit was like, ‘Okay girl, I’m gonna help you tell the truth whether you want to or not.’”

That truth rings throughout the set’s first single “So In Love,” a duet with Anthony Hamilton. Scott says she loved the Hamilton-penned track as soon as it was first passed to her from Hidden Beach’s former VP of A&R
Charles Whitfield.  But, Jill’s own love life was so opposite from the lyrics that she didn’t believe she had the emotional truth to add her stamp to the song.

“I got the track, loved the music, loved his voice on it – love that man’s voice anyway – but I just didn’t have any warm and fuzzy feelings, so it was just hard for me to even try to sing ‘So In Love,’” she told us. “So I waited until I had a couple of warm and fuzzy feelings, and then I wrote. It took me about a year.”

The single, released April 26, went on to debut at No. 43 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, making it the highest entry of her career on that tally. (It has since peaked at number 11.)

Asked about the warmth she maintains throughout the song’s music video, Scott says, “I had recently experienced a warm and fuzzy feeling, and I used that to get through the video.” [Scroll down to watch.]

Jill released three previous studio albums on Hidden Beach before signing a distribution deal with Warner Bros. in March. There were reports at the time that things got real messy between the two parties. They ended up settling a tumultuous legal battle which found Jill countersuing the label’s claim that she exited halfway through a six-album deal in 2010.

In the bonus audio below, she details what really happened with Hidden Beach, and explains why she’s being so hush -hush about her own independent label.

A Decade Later, Sade Remains A Class Act

Source: 
www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry

(Jun 29, 2011) Timeless is the word most often employed to describe
Sade.

And it does seem like an appropriate label for the low-key, British R&B band and its even more understated frontwoman Sade Adu, for whom the group is named, given their ability to sell out stadiums despite a lull in recordings and ever rarer live shows.

Adu, of course, gets most of the credit for maintaining the fan base — and expanding it, judging by the many young faces at the Air Canada Centre show Tuesday night — with her languorous voice and mysterious mien.

On Sade’s first tour in a decade and just two weeks into their 54-show North American jaunt, the lithe, 52-year-old singer was confident on her stage legs.

In her world, hoop earrings, chignons and red lipstick don’t seem to go out of style. Never breaking a sweat, Adu is the master of subtle gestures, setting off male swooning with a nod of her head, wink or gently swaying hips.

With that signature hint of longing, her voice was as resonant and beguiling as on the group’s 1984 debut Diamond Life. A consequence, perhaps, of reports that this is her first tour since quitting smoking.

The concert opened with “Soldier of Love,” the Grammy-winning title track of the ensemble’s current album which spent three weeks at No. 1 when it came out last year.

The rest of the set covered Sade’s five-album catalogue, including crowd favourites “Jezebel” and “Is It A Crime?” — which earned cheers for the “My love is wider than Ontario lake” substitution.

Though the band’s midtempo tunes have a melancholy, potentially snoozy air, Adu, who spent the hiatus being a mom, imbues them with a passion and sultriness that a similarly positioned songstress like Norah Jones has yet to attain.

And the musical accompanists are stellar. The talents of saxophonist-guitarist Stuart Matthewman, bassist Paul S. Denman and keyboardist Andrew Hale were given ample opportunities to deliver enviable solos throughout the performance.

With two backup singers, a drummer, conga player and additional guitarist plumping the sound, Sade’s Latin and rock licks and ever-present jazz and reggae undertones showcased their command of melody and timing,

The staging was minimal: red, black or white draping and lights, raised platforms for the musicians and scrolling video screens featuring outdoor imagery.

Adu changed a few times, from form-fitting black cropped pants with a sheer top, to a white shirt with black vest and pants, to a white gown.

Her outfits were much like the band’s sound and esthetic — classic.

Mail To Flow Tuesday, But Could Be A Mere Trickle In Toronto

Source: www.thestar.com - Vanessa Lu

(Jun 27, 2011)
Canada Post workers will begin reporting to mail sorting plants this afternoon and customers can expect delivery to resume Tuesday following the passage of back-to-work legislation.

"We'll follow first-in, first-out approach," said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton. "Anything in the system will be prioritized.

"On Tuesday morning, our letter carriers will report to the depots and get their mail and deliver it."

He cautioned that customers in the Greater Toronto and Montreal may not see much mail on Tuesday, given the union's rotating strikes had hit those centres just before the lockout on June 14.

"There is a bit of backlog on unprocessed mail," Hamilton said. "We do have our work cut out for us in Toronto. People in Toronto might not see a lot of mail tomorrow, but we'll get out what we can."

Canada Post will also start unlocking or unsealing 25,000 street letter boxes and community mailboxes, so people can begin mailing items. Post offices that were closed because of the lockout will reopen on Tuesday at their regular hours.

Even though the Harper government announced plans to introduce back-to-work legislation on June 15, after Canada Post locked out its 48,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, it still took some time to implement.

The New Democrats opposed the legislation, which uses a final offer selection process where the two parties submit their final offers and an arbitrator, appointed by Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, chooses a winner.

As well, the NDP MPs, who staged a 58-hour filibuster, are upset with the legislation that imposes a lower wage settlement than one offered by Canada Post during the bargaining process. The legislation passed the House of Commons on Saturday night and then the Senate on Sunday.

Customers who may have been holding off on sending out wedding invitations can immediately pop them in the mail, Hamilton said. Canada Post will work with its larger business customers on a schedule.

"I know our customers have shown us a tremendous amount of patience, but we're asking for a bit more as we get the system up and running and stabilized," he said.

In a bulletin, national president Denis Lemelin said the union's executive board voted unanimously to return to work. Unlike previous disputes, union officials had defied back-to-work legislation.

"The legislation provides for enormous financial penalties for individuals and union representatives in the case of defiance," Lemelin said in the bulletin. "We believe that this government would use any excuse to destroy the union should we defy the legislation, and we will not give them any opportunity to do so."

He added: "We are returning to work, but we are not defeated. CUPW has been legislated back to work in the past and that has not stopped us from continuing our struggle for justice and dignity."

Canada's Sinclair Shows Heart Of A Champion

Source: www.thestar.com - By Cathal Kelly

(Jun 26, 2011) BERLIN-Her goal was brilliant, but Christine Sinclair's highlight Sunday was a battle on the sidelines with her own medical staff as they tried to treat her broken nose.

Sinclair was struck in the face by a brushback elbow from German defender Babett Peter in the 48th minute of Sunday's match. She crumpled to the ground, and was helped off the pitch by a pair of medics.

When she took her hands away from her face, it was clear that her nose was bent over nearly perpendicular to her face. As one doctor tried to tend her, Sinclair repeatedly brushed away his hands and screamed, "I want to play."

Sinclair looked past the men at coach Carolina Morace. There appeared to be tears in her eyes.

"The doctor said to me, 'Her nose is broken. She can't play,'" said Morace afterward. "I asked him what she'd be risking. He said, 'If she gets hit again in the face, it will be worse and maybe she'll need surgery.' But she looked at me and said, 'Let me play.'"

Sinclair went back onto the field on an absolute tear.

A few minutes later, she collided heavily in mid-air with a German. Sinclair popped up, looked back at her opponent, who was looking worse for wear, and screamed, "Get up!"

"I looked at her - she takes the front post on corners - and I thought, 'Oh my,'" said Canadian goalkeeper Erin MacLeod. "Her nose was like a big zig-zag. I said, 'Do you really want to still be here?' And she said, 'Yeah, I got it.' She's tough. She wears the armband for a reason."

In the 82nd minute, Sinclair scored a magnificent goal from a 25-yard free kick. The ball curled up and around the German wall, then dipped under the bar.

After the whistle, she joined her teammates in clapping the crowd. Only then would she submit to proper medical care. She was taken to a nearby hospital to have her nose realigned.

"It's not the prettiest," teammate Melissa Tancredi said afterward, grinning. Tancredi would know. She had her own nose broken by a kick in the face three years ago.

Coach Morace said the nose will not affect Sinclair's next start against France on Thursday. She will likely play with a protective facemask.

The team was livid that Germany's Peter was not penalized on the play.

"FIFA came to us and said very clearly that to use the elbow is a yellow or red card. The referee goes away like she was a faker," Morace said tightly.

However, the incident raised her already lofty estimation of her biggest star to new heights.

"She's fantastic. Not every player can do what she did," Morace said. "That's why she is a champion."

Goodbye, Columbo: Peter Falk Dead At 83

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Jun 25, 2011) The rumpled trench coat has been hung up; the ever-present cigar extinguished.

Veteran character actor
Peter Falk - best known and loved for his indelible portrayal of dishevelled detective Lieut. Frank Columbo - passed away Thursday, at the age of 83.

The Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor, also twice Oscar-nominated, died of undisclosed causes at his Beverly Hills home, though it is known that in his last years he suffered from dementia, following a series of major dental surgeries. He is survived by his second wife, Shera, and two adopted daughters, one of whom, Catherine, is now a real-life private detective.

Columbo debuted as a TV series on NBC in 1971, with an episode written by Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue) and directed by a 25-year-old Steven Spielberg. The last Columbo telefilm aired in 2003.

The character actually traces back to 1960 and a short story in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, later adapted as an episode of the anthology series The Chevy Mystery Show, with Bert Freed in the lead. It was shortly thereafter adapted as a stage play starring Thomas Mitchell, and finally with Falk as a TV-movie, Diagnosis: Murder, in 1968.

Its originating writers, Richard Levinson and William Link, have cited as their primary inspiration the G.K. Chesterton literary detective, Father Brown. Though Columbo's character's first name was never officially recorded or spoken - Columbo himself claimed it was "Lieutenant" - it was in fact clearly visible as "Frank" in the occasional close-up of his badge and credentials.

The Columbo series, all feature-length episodes, first aired as part of the Wednesday-night NBC Mystery Movie, sharing its timeslot on a rotating basis with two other detective shows, McCloud and McMillan & Wife. In its second season, the weekly "mystery wheel" moved to Sunday nights, where it remained until 1978. In 1989, Columbo was picked up by ABC, where it aired infrequently as a series of TV movies.

Falk repeatedly resisted offers to turn the show into a weekly hour, insisting that it would be "too much work."

Though the series role was first offered to Bing Crosby and Lee J. Cobb, Falk made Columbo very much his own. For example, the character's shabby wardrobe, including the trademark trench coat, came from his own closet. The original coat, which eventually became so tattered and worn it had to be replaced, is widely believed to be enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution. Falk, however, claimed that it was back in his closet.

His rambling dialogue delivery and intentionally absent-minded shtick were often improvised on the set, in part to keep the other actors off-balance. His deliberately distracted gaze was enhanced by the glass eye he received at the age of 3, when the original had to be removed, along with a brain tumour.

(In a 1997 interview in Cigar Aficionado magazine, Falk recalled a high school baseball game where, when he was called out at third base, he believed unfairly, he plucked out the false eye, handed it to the umpire and said, "Here, I think you might need this.")

The Columbo mysteries were particularly notable for their innovative reverse story structure, immediately revealing the criminal and crime, then following the detective's deceptively "bumbling" investigation and battle of wits with an invariably privileged and disdainful culprit.

Falk was nominated 14 times for Emmy Awards, winning five, all but one for Columbo. He received a Tony Award in 1972 for Prisoner of Second Avenue, and was nominated twice consecutively for an Academy Award, for Murder, Inc. in 1961 and Pocketful of Miracles in 1962 (the same year he won his first Emmy, for an episode of The Dick Powell Show).

He also apparently helped co-produce the first Grammy Awards broadcast in 1971.

Rejected for military service because of the eye, Falk enlisted in the Merchant Marines, where he served as a cook. A New York native, he settled down in Hartford, Connecticut to work as an accountant and efficiency expert, commuting back and forth between the two cities to pursue part-time acting studies.

He moved back to New York permanently in 1955 to act full-time, sharing an apartment with fellow aspiring actors Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman.

He became a frequent screen collaborator with another good friend, John Cassavetes, six films in all, including Husbands, A Woman Under the Influence, Mikey and Nickey and Big Trouble. Equally adept at comedy, Falk also appeared in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Robin and the Seven Hoods, The Great Race, Murder by Death, The In-Laws and The Princess Bride.

But he will always be most fondly remembered as the rumpled TV detective, and indeed, his 2006 autobiography took its title from the character's defining line, always couched as an apparent afterthought: "Just One More Thing . . ."

::MUSIC NEWS::

TD Toronto Jazz Festival: Aretha Franklin Really Does Love Toronto

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Jun 27, 2011) So,
Aretha Franklin doesn't have any R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Toronto?

That's how some fans were feeling after the Queen of Soul failed to deliver her anthem at Friday night's free concert kicking off the 25th anniversary season of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

"You just can't sing them all," said Detroit's finest in a brief interview after the 100-minute show that ended just before midnight.

And "Respect" actually was on the official setlist, but got bumped, due, perhaps, to her stirring extended versions of "Moody's Mood For Love" and Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Or maybe, it was the Jimmy Choo effect.

Franklin, 69, tripped over a pile of the luxurious shoes in a Dallas hotel room earlier this month, breaking her left index toe. She performed here in a flowing, white, Roman-style gown wearing a blue hospital shoe on the injured foot, a silver heel on the other, and bubble gum pink nailpolish on her toes.

Still, the singer was on her feet for more than half the show. But she simply wasn't up to returning to the stage to deliver the signature tune the throng was calling for.

"My leg was kinda getting to me," she explained. "It's the imbalance between the heels: one's on the floor and the other one, you've got a little heel on. At a certain point, it begins to weigh on my left leg."

A reporter suggested that she may have had an easier time if she'd worn a lower heel on her good foot.

"I don't want to wear flats with certain clothes," said the showbiz vet. "You got to be on the one here."

And that she was.

There is no way the audience - 1200 inside the mainstage tent at David Pecaut Square and an overflow crowd of 18,000, police estimate, watching on jumbo screens along King St. W. which was closed to traffic between Simcoe and John Sts. - could consider themselves shortchanged.

Franklin cut a nostalgic swath through blues, jazz, soul and gospel in a show rife with singalong gems, such as "Natural Woman" and "You Send Me." Anchored in her low and mid-range, her voice was strong and vibrant and never in danger of being overshadowed by the accompaniment of her 10 musicians and the 13-piece Toronto Jazz Festival Orchestra.

Having just released her 38th album Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love the diva is considered on the comeback trail after losing 85 pounds following undisclosed surgery in the fall. This was her fourth public show since returning to the stage last month.

Her enthusiasm was evident through playful chatter and attempts to shake and shimmy in spite of the bum foot.

"I think my objective was just to get back into concert, be in great shape, enjoy everything and promote the new album," said Franklin of her post-hiatus form.

"It's been fabulous, absolutely fabulous. The audiences have just been super. I'm watching my diet and I can tell it in my voice, the difference: the clarity changes a little bit, the weight of the voice, actually. When you're heavier, your voice is a little heavier."

If plans come to fruition, Franklin's 50 year career and laundry list of personal calamities - losing her mother at age 10, the tragic shooting of her father, divorces, income tax problems, premature deaths of younger siblings - will soon get a big screen airing.

"There is a biopic in the works and when I get home there is a new amended agreement, so I will be reading that going in the door," the first female inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame told the Star. "I saw Halle (Berry) when we were at Oprah's tribute; she said 'Aretha I really do want to play you.' I said 'Well, fine. I didn't expect you to sing.' I think now that she knows that she's not expected to sing, she's all in."

In conversation, Franklin was warm and gracious, if somewhat weary, as 1 a.m approached. Having changed into a pink, checkered suit - much more flattering than the concert attire which exposed her foundation garments on the brightly lit stage - she conferred with musicians, sent out signed memorabilia for fans and conducted a few quick interviews.

As she got into a limo heading to her hotel, Franklin asked an assistant to fetch her professional looking camera and took a few shots of lingering fans. Earlier, at the end of her set, Franklin, who said she had once looked at Bridle Path houses with thoughts of relocating here, had similarly snapped the crowd from the stage.

"I love coming to Toronto...and the audience was just super," she said. "I'll remember this night."

Prince's Genius In Full Form At Montreal Show

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Alan Conter

Prince

  *  At Métropolis Concert Hall
  *  Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
  *  In Montreal on Friday

(Jun 27, 2011) Any way you cut it, the mighty
Prince's concert at Métropolis on Friday night will be remembered for ages as a monumental event in the annals of the international jazz festival. As a colleague at the online newspaper Rue Frontenac put it, years from now, if you were one of the lucky 2,000 to have been in the hall, you'll proudly say, "Yeah, I was there."

To proclaim the concert awesome is simply to state the truth.

And it's not just because the concert became a marathon. After saying good night at the close of a very hot 80-minute set - a totally respectable offering - he and the band gave half a dozen encores, not letting up until close to 3:30 a.m. He did warn the audience, though. Some 20 minutes into the first encore - while asking "Is this the funkiest band in the world?" and "Is this the funkiest town?" - he told folks "this Prince isn't going anywhere" and "we're all staying around." Who knew he meant it literally?

It was clear within minutes that Prince and the band felt a rapport with the audience. Why not? You could tell right off that people were thrilled to be so close to the man they adore.

The venue was part of the equation. Métropolis has a capacity of 2,300. "Intimate" might be a stretch, but it's certainly not an arena and it has a funky ambience with a storied past. It had been a theatre before it became movie hall in the 1920s. It's a place where you can party - and party people did.

The other key element, part of Prince's genius, is pulling together a stunning array of musicians. The fullness of their artistry, and the generosity and intensity each performer brought to the stage and to each other, was infectious.

The concert began at 11:30 p.m. sharp with a thumping drum and bass funk rhythm leading us into a collage of Prince originals and stunning covers.

To imagine the epic reading of Tommy James and the Shondells' Crimson and Clover that somehow wove Jimi Hendrix guitar riffs into the mix and evolved to guitarist and singer Andy Allo's take on Bob Marley's Waiting in Vain - well, there's a fiercely brilliant exploration of the music of our time.

Then there's Maceo Parker. The renowned soul and funk saxophonist would pull you into whirling improvisations with Danish bassist Ida Nielsen laying a pulsating groove behind him. His segue into the James Brown classic Pass the Peas during the first encore was sublime.

The virtuosity of drummer John Blackwell, who has backed Patti Labelle and P. Diddy but is perhaps best known for his work with Maze, framed complex rhythm shifts with superbly modulated punctuation.

Morris Hayes and Cassandra O'Neal were on keyboards. Hayes's pedigree as a musician and composer is vast and O'Neal, a relative newcomer to Prince's New Power Generation, brought her rich voice into the vocal mix.

While Prince might have used back-up singers in the past, Olivia Warfield and Shelby Johnson were principals, front and centre. Both have stunning control and that resonant gospel/blues range.

Prince was clearly the bandleader, the creative driver, but he brought to the Métropolis a formidable array of talent that grooved along with some of the most amazingly purposeful improvisation likely to be played here, or anywhere. As the song goes, I get delirious whenever you're near. This time, for sure.

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal continues through July 4th.

Jazz Darling Esperanza Spalding Hasn't Let Success Go To Her Head

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

(Jun. 26, 2011) In February, when
Esperanza Spalding won the Grammy for Best New Artist, it was a momentous occasion. Not only was the bassist and singer the first jazz musician ever to win that award, she did so despite being up against such commercial heavyweights as Justin Bieber and Drake.

Nonetheless, there was not rejoicing in the land. Bieber fans tweeted furiously in protest, but it wasn't just the young and idol-smitten who complained. Steven Stoute, an advertising executive who once managed the rapper Nas, placed a full-page ad in The New York Times which asked, in part, "How is it that Justin Bieber, an artist that defines what it means to be a modern artist, did not win Best New Artist?"

And when, two months later, it was announced that 31 Grammy categories, including many in jazz and Latin music categories, were being dropped, some musicians suggested the changes were in response to Spalding's Best New Artist win.

So, Esperanza, how does it feel to have caused Grammy cuts?

"Ha ha ha ha," she says, over the phone from her apartment in New York. "I don't think so. I mean, how would Justin Bieber not winning really affect anything? His fans absolutely love him, and they're going to continue to love whether or not he won the Grammy.

"And listen - I think the people who love my music already love my music."

That's certainly true. Although Spalding doesn't have a huge body of work behind her - Chamber Music Society, which came out early this year, is only her third album as a leader - she has amassed an impressive array of supporters, including jazz giants Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny and Gary Burton.

Perhaps her most famous fan is Barack Obama, who has not only invited Spalding to play at the White House, but chose her to perform at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.

It's enough to make a person's head spin, but Spalding seems refreshingly unaffected by the attention. Although her voice, high and girlish, makes her sound younger than her 26 years, her conversation is sharp and insightful, drawing on parallels in painting and literature to make her points.

Mostly, though, she's too focused on work to be dazzled by her own success. "I mean, my life hasn't really changed, you know?" she says. "It was already crazy with busy-ness, and it's still just as busy, because all the stuff that we're doing now was booked probably two years ago."

She'll be spending the summer touring the jazz festival circuit with her Chamber Music Society band, which augments the piano, drums and percussion with a three-piece string section. "It's the music of the record in live form," she says. "Some of the songs on the record that had no strings now have strings, and obviously there's more improvisation happening. We're stretching, and the strings are improvising."

In the fall, she'll switch from headliner to sideman to tour with Joe Lovano's band, Us Five (including shows at Toronto's Koerner Hall and Palais Montcalm in Quebec City). In February, she'll release her fourth album, Radio Music Society.

"I had too much music to put everything on the third record, Chamber Music Society," she says. "So I broke up all the material, and the half that seemed more in the vibe of intuitive, ensemble, open playing became the Chamber Music album. Then there were other songs that were more bombastic and fun - a little funkier and upbeat. Those were the ones that became this album."

As for the title, Spalding explains that she decided to frame the album in terms of an imaginary music school exercise. "The project would be, okay, you can take any 10 compositions that you want, and they still have to sound like the original compositions, but format them so that they can be played on the radio. And as the student, you go home and you go, okay, how the hell do I do that?"

Well, how did she do it?

"You'll just have to hear it," she says, and laughs.

Of course, there will doubtless be some who will assume, without hearing a note, that Spalding's radio exercise will amount to a dumbing-down, in which the jazz content gets shoehorned into some restrictive, radio-friendly format.

Spalding, however, isn't worried. "It's great to have that objective in mind as you arrange and record and mess with the sounds on a song," she says. "It's like with anything - it's good to have a little bit of structure. It actually can create more freedom, you know?"

Esperanza Spalding performs Monday night at Montreal's Thêâtre Maisonneuve as part of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.

High Notes – TD Jazz Festival

Source: www.thestar.com

(Jun 27, 2011) Monday: The Mario Romano Quartet is poised for its
most prestigious Toronto show, as opening act for Dee Dee Bridgewater & The Toronto Jazz Festival Orchestra at Koerner Hall. Romano, 59, studied jazz at York University and Humber College before putting music aside to found the multimillion-dollar development empire Castlepoint Group. The Argentina-born Italian recently returned to his first love and released a well-received debut disc Valentina last year. Appearing with him are saxophonist Pat LaBarbera, drummer Mark Kelso and bassist Roberto Occhipinti. The band plays in a hard-driving, straight-ahead fashion, reminiscent of hard-boppers such as Horace Silver and Blakey's Jazz Messengers. 8 p.m. $45-$55.

Boston-based funk-jazz trio Soulive's current album Rubber Soulive is comprised of Beatles instrumentals, such as, "Eleanor Rigby" and "Help!" The group which consists of brothers Neal and Alan Evans, on B3 and drums, respectively, and guitarist Eric Krasno, was formed in the spirit of '60s organ trios like Jimmy Smith's. 9:30 p.m. $25 in advance. Horseshoe Tavern.

Tuesday:

Canadian trumpet dean Guido Basso and highly-regarded, American-born, Italy-based tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton join the Canadian Jazz Quartet for an evening of improvisational jazz. The resident band consists of swinging fixtures on the Toronto jazz scene - guitarist Gary Benson, drummer Don Vickery, bassist Duncan Hopkins and Frank Wright on vibes. 5 p.m.- 8 p.m. $30. Quotes Bar & Grill.

On a double bill with Los Lobos is Los Lonely Boys a rock band from San Angelo, Texas, whose music incorporates blues, Tex-Mex, conjunto, and tejano. The Grammy-winning group, noted for tight harmonies and moving melodies, consists of brothers Henry (guitar, vocals), Jojo (bass, vocals), and Ringo (drums, vocals) Garza. Love and family are the major themes of their new album Rockpango (a Spanglish word they coined to mean "rock party") 8:30 p.m. $35. David Pecaut Square (formerly Metro Square).

Wednesday:

Named for a 1964 Eric Dolphy tune composed in honour of Thelonious Monk, the duo Hat & Beard, guitarist Ken Aldcroft and drummer Dave Clark, aims to revise the piano great's music in a playful, unconventional way. They're releasing a new album "Live at Somewhere There" at this show which is part of the Incubator Series at the Music Gallery which seeks to "push musical boundaries, encouraging creativity, experimentation and collaboration." 8 p.m. $15. St. George The Martyr Anglican Church.

The jazz festival is presenting a comedian for the first time, New York's Reggie Watts. "Armed with a sampler, his mostly improvised show features the comic beatboxing and creating loops and songs on the spot, flipping between accents and alternating between seeming like the dumbest and smartest guy in the room," says the Star's Raju Mudhar, who describes the experience as "altogether weird, wonderful and sublimely funny." 8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m. $30. Yuk Yuk's.

Thursday: It's turning out to be a banner year for Bela Fleck & The Flecktones. First, the group's banjo playing leader notched his 12th Grammy earlier this year for Best Contemporary World Music Album. Now the quartet's original line-up with Howard Levy (piano/harmonica), Victor Wooten (bass) and Roy "Futureman" Wooten (percussion) is touring for the first time since 1991. Their new disc Rocket Science references classical, jazz, bluegrass, African music, electric blues and Eastern European folk dance. 8:30. $40. David Pecaut Square.

The TD Toronto Jazz Festival continues though July 3. Visit www.torontojazz.com<http://www.torontojazz.com>.

Beyoncé’s 4th Solo Album Drops Worldwide June 28

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(June 29, 2011) “The album definitely is an evolution. It’s bolder than
the previous music on my other because I feel like I’m bolder. — Beyoncé.

*What a great way to finish off the celebration of June Black Music month tribute with an article on one of the hardest working women in the business, uberstar Beyoncé. Now the triple threat (singer actor, dancer) has teamed with Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) for the exclusive deluxe edition of her fourth solo album, 4. The deluxe edition of 4 is executive produced by Beyoncé Knowles.

4 is now available for pre-order at Target.com/Beyonce and will be offered at Target stores nationwide and online beginning June 28, 2011. A digital version of the deluxe edition is available at Target.com.

The multi-Grammy Award-winning artist is as ecstatic about her new adventure as her fans that have grown to love her and hold her in high regard because of the respect she continues to show for them by never associating her name or anything about herself in a negative way. “My fans will be so excited about my new album because I put my heart and soul into creating something that’s personal and honest.”

Inspired by a variety of music genres she loves, Beyoncé refers to the songs on 4 as her “musical gumbo.” The new collection of ballads, mid and up-tempos incorporates live instrumentation, classic songwriting and Beyoncé’s undeniable vocal ability.

The Target deluxe album includes three additional new songs from Beyoncé as well as three remixes and bonus video footage. The new tracks exclusive to Target are: “Lay Up Under Me,” “Schoolin’ Life” and “Dance For You.”

The anticipation for what’s next from Beyoncé reached a fever pitch at the end of her last sold-out tour in 2010. With three successful solo albums behind her how does she write her next musical chapter? First she stood still, reflected on the wildly successful international tour, and then took almost a year off to enjoy life’s simple pleasures taking time to enjoy all of the inspiration that was around her.

4, her fourth studio album following, Dangerously In Love, B’Day, and I Am…Sasha Fierce, is a risk-taker and a bold statement. “If people can predict your next move,” she states, “it’s not that interesting.” This is Beyoncé at her unpredictable best. A twelve-song collection that the artist describes as her musical “gumbo.” It quite literally mixes all of the genres she loves into one intriguing musical melting pot that employs the full gamut of her vocal ability.

The new collection emphasizes mid-tempos and ballads over dance tracks and displays a treasure of songs that are filled with huge choruses, twelve-part harmonies, bridges and exhilarating guitar solos. This is a nod to some of the great eras of music from an international artist who intends to shake things up.

Beyoncé approached the recording of this album from a place of relaxation with no pressure from anyone. She co-wrote all the songs, with the exception of “I Was Here,” penned by Diane Warren; and co-produced on every track. She recorded over seventy songs at her own pace.

From her travels around the world where she says for the first time she was able to see with eyes wide open and soak it all in, to listening to her favourite old jams, to taking ten hours a day discovering new music and artists, to harkening back to her skills as an actress, the inspiration for 4 is vast.

“For the first time in my life I was able to travel the world, hear different influences, see different types of dance and choreography and taste different types of food,” she begins. “It was important that I was able to digest everything. It inspired purity, more heart and more love.”

Recalling favourites like Earth, Wind and Fire, Fela Kuti, The Chi-Lites, Babyface (who is a co-writer on “Best Thing I Never Had,” the album’s second single) and Boyz ll Men, Beyoncé looked at the 70s and 90s for her biggest inspirations.

“I wanted to go back to the source,” she explains. “I really liked mixing the 90s with the 70s. I put those two together and it was so much fun putting bridges back into songs, all the things in music that I love that I feel I just want to hear again.”

For the pureness of her vocal delivery on 4, she turned to her other career as an actress where she learned to lose herself in order to deliver something that comes from deep within her soul. She credits playing Etta James in the film “Cadillac Records” for this inspiration, to completely deny her insecurities and become naked and vulnerable.

To keep the sincerity and emotional honesty of the songs, she sang everything just once. The Songs: “1+1,” written by Terius Nash, Christopher Stewart and Beyoncé Knowles. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles, Terius “The-Dream” Nash and C. “Tricky” Stewart; “I Care,” written by Jeff Bhasker, Chad Hugo and Beyoncé Knowles. Produced by Jeff Bhasker. Co-produced by Beyoncé Knowles; “I Miss You,” written by Frank Ocean, Shea Taylor and Beyoncé Knowles. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor;

“Best Thing I Never Had,” written by Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Antonio Dixon, Beyoncé Knowles, Patrick “j.Que” Smith, Shea Taylor, Larry Griffin, Jr. and Caleb McCampbell. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Antonio Dixon, Shea Taylor and S1 & Caleb; “Party” (featuring André 3000), written by K. West, Jeff Bhasker, Beyoncé Knowles, Dexter R. mills, Douglas Davis and Ricky Walters. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Kanye West. Co-produced by Jeff Bhasker.

“Rather Die Young,” written by Jeff Bhasker, Luke Steele and Beyoncé Knowles. Produced by Jeff Bhasker. Co-produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Luke Steele; “Start Over,” written by Shea Taylor, Beyoncé Knowles and E. Dean. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor; “Love on Top,” written by Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash and Shea Taylor. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor.

“Countdown” written by Terius Nash, Shea Taylor, Beyoncé Knowles, E. Dean, Cainon Lamb, Julie Frost, Michael Bivins, Nathan Morris and Wanya Morris. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor; “End of Time” written by Beyoncé Knowles , Terius Nash, Shea Taylor and David Taylor. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Terius “The-Dream” Nash. Additional production by Switch.

“I Was Here” written by Diane Warren. Produced by Ryan Tedder and Brent Kutzle. Vocal produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Kuk Harrell; “Run the World (Girls)” written by Terius Nash, Beyoncé Knowles, Wesley Pentz, David Taylor, Adidja Palmer and Nick van de Wall. Produced by Switch and Terius “The-Dream” Nash. Co-produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor.

4, named for Beyoncé’s favourite and luckiest number as well as marking her fourth solo studio album, is a well-stated musical progression for the artist. The themes of female empowerment, independence and self-worth are still here, especially on the lead single, “Run the World (Girls), but as Beyoncé explains, when you grow as a person it’s only natural to extend that growth to one’s music. Love in all its opposing sides of ecstasy and heartbreak are here, too, from the deliberate yearning of “1+1″ to the urgent, dismissive aforementioned, “Best Thing I Never Had.”

Beyoncé calls the collection her most personal yet and acknowledges that it reflects a more mature Beyoncé in every way. “The album definitely is an evolution. It’s bolder than the previous music on my other albums because I feel like I’m bolder. ”

Beyoncé’s fans are clamouring for her new album and Target is the only retailer giving them extra songs and video from their favourite artist,” said John Butcher, vice president of Entertainment, Target. “Beyoncé played an active role in the production of the Target deluxe edition, making sure the content would give fans an even greater glimpse into the personal journey that inspired her latest music.”

In addition to the new tracks, the Target deluxe album edition has more than 17 minutes of extra club remixes of “Run the World (Girls),” the album’s lead single released in April of this year. DJ and producer Kaskade and legendary remix producers Redtop and Jochen Simms all contributed to the bonus music. Also found only on the Target deluxe album is an exclusive version of the “Run the World (Girls)” music video.

Target also produced a TV spot for the deluxe edition of Beyoncé’s new album. The spot begins airing June 24 and features one of Beyoncé’s new songs, “Countdown.” It reveals the artistic process behind the album, as well as some of the important moments in Beyoncé’s life that inspired the songs on 4.

Beyoncé has sold more than 75 million records and is one of the most notable artists in the world, having earned a total of 16 Grammy Awards – 13 as a solo artist and three as a member of Destiny’s Child. Beyoncé’s fame blossomed in the ‘90s as lead singer of the group, which became one of the best-selling music ensembles of all time.

Later Beyoncé released her debut solo album Dangerously in Love, which produced the No. 1 hits: “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy,” making it one of the most successful albums of 2003. Beyoncé’s sophomore album and subsequent third studio release produced the household hits “Irreplaceable,” “Beautiful Liar” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

It also earned her a top spot on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2008, I am… Sasha Fierce earned six Grammy Awards – the most Grammys ever won by a female artist in one night. Beyoncé was honoured this May at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards with the Millennium Award.

“What is the definition of perfection…or the closest thing to it? Beyoncé. Icons are made. Stars are born. From the moment Beyoncé took her first breath, her star was shining. What an honour it is for me to say that I danced with a true star. Or wrote. Same thing. ,” stated co-writer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds whom Beyoncé describes as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, calling him “the source.”

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) serves guests at 1,755 stores in 49 states nationwide and at Target.com. In addition, the company operates a credit card segment that offers branded proprietary credit card products.

Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its income through community grants and programs; today, that giving equals more than $3 million a week. For more information about Target’s commitment to corporate responsibility, visit Target.com/hereforgood.

Iconic Soul Singer Jaguar Wright Releases Two New Singles

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(June 28, 2011) *Los Angeles, CA — Philly soul songstress
Jaguar Wright’s newest single, “Switch (Make Change)” hit iTunes two weeks ago in honour of Black Music Month.

The single’s catchy head-nodding beat finds Wright showcasing her vocal range with witty lyrics.

Written by Wright, the single will be featured on her upcoming CD Book and Fragrance (GMUSIC), due out in early spring of 2012. This will be her first CD since 2005′s Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul.

“Switch” has caught the attention of soul music lovers and is spreading like wildfire on soul and hip hop music sites and making its way to radio. The “Switch” remix features fellow Philly alum and former State Property member Peedi Crakk.

“‘Switch’ is not just a record, but a story about my walk through life and the entertainment industry,” explains Wright. “It’s all about going with the flow, rolling with the punches, and knowing when it’s time to stand up and claim the life that belongs to you. Only in change can we find out what we’re really made of. Only through change can we truly realize the reality of who we really are. Why march to the beat of someone else’s drum, when my drum beats just fine?”

Wright’s single “Beautiful” was also released to iTunes this month. The steamy and sexy groove is another stand out from the upcoming CD. “‘Beautiful’ is a song I wrote to be a representative of what love/love making can be if we let it,” says Jaguar. “Which is a concept that is easily lost dealing with the ups and downs of day to day life. This song was written as a tribute to love. I hope everyone who hears it feels the positive emotion it was written to evoke.”

In 2001, Jaguar moved to soul music’s forefront when she took the stage alongside Jay Z for his unforgettable live performance for “MTV Unplugged.” Backed by Philly hip hop band The Roots, Jaguar Wright rocked the stage, blowing the audience away with her vocal prowess. “With a voice that speaks directly to the soul, Jaguar Wright is a presence in music that can neither be ignored nor denied,” wrote Natalia Francis in The Philadelphia Intelligencer. Wright’s first album, Denials Delusions Decisions (2002), received rave reviews and was named #1 Best Album of the Decade by the Associated Press’ Nekesa Mumbi Moody, who described the project as “…a riveting CD that never leaves those who hear it.”

With her new CD on the way, Jaguar Wright has also taken her career into her own hands and has engaged top management with GPI. Based in Beverly Hills , Lindsay Guion has handled top-shelf roster of multi-talented artists, including but not limited to the Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum recording artists D’Angelo, Mya, and Ginuwine.

“Jaguar Wright is the ‘real deal,’ that has always been about working hard to create songs that can truly change people’s lives” says Artist Manager and Album Producer, Lindsay Guion.

It's Been A Long Ride For Los Lobos

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(Jun 27, 2011) Drawing liberally from rock, Tex-Mex, country, folk,
R&B, blues, and traditional Spanish and Mexican music, Los Angeles band Los Lobos has occupied its own niche in North American popular music for more than 30 years.

They have expertly dodged stylistic dead ends while unselfconsciously indulging the whims of an ever changing, but always well educated audience.

The band's presence among the eclectic acts on this year's Toronto Jazz Festival bill - they're performing Tuesday night with Texas-based Chicano rock power trio Los Lonely Boys on the festival's Metro Square main stage - is no surprise to Steve Berlin, Los Lobos' keyboardist and horn player. He spoke to the Star a few days ago by phone from Seville, Spain, where the quintet has developed a dedicated following, after appearing there in festivals of almost every genre and format.

"Even bluegrass . . . we've done a few of those over the years," Berlin said, after agreeing to partake in the following Q&A:

Q: Is the ability to adapt to audiences' specific genre expectations one of the secrets of Lobos' longevity?

A: What gives us the freedom to play for so many different kinds of audiences is that we can shape-shift as the situation demands. We seem able to make people happy regardless of the milieu.

Q: With 19 studio albums and half a dozen collaborations to your credit, are you able to pull material at will from what amounts to a vast repertoire?

A: With the proviso that it won't be the tightest performance in history, yes. We can get away with murder, sometimes. If they want to hear it, we'll give it a shot. It keeps things exciting.

Q: Los Lobos seems to be a band that's happy in its musical skin, a sort of family united in a singular vision and purpose. But after 30 years together, there must be some frayed edges.

A: It's not as rosy as you'd like to think. It's a family full of A-type personalities, but that's part of the reason we are who we are and where we are. A band that's been together for so long and can still keep making music together doesn't have a lot to complain about.

Q: Los Lobos seems unusually prolific. Do you constantly turn out new songs regularly and go into the studio when you have enough to make a record?

A: It's not like that at all. We write, in general, only when an album has to be made, and even then it's down to the 11th hour and 59th minute and 59th second. We don't sit on the bus jamming. Writing's like homework to us. It doesn't usually happen till the last deadline has passed and we've been sitting around the studio for a couple of days with nothing to play, in abject terror. Slowly but surely, pieces start coming together and after five or six weeks, it's pretty well done.

Q: Is there anything in Los Lobos' music that appeals specifically to jazz fans?

A: Most of my musical heroes are jazz musicians, not that it's particularly reflected in what we play. I'm a saxophone player, so the people I revere are the great sax players of the late 1960s and early '70s, people like Archie Shepp and Gene Ammons, though they just sit in the back of my head most of the time. I think we owe our place in jazz festivals to the fact that we're eclectic and like taking chances. Jazz audiences seem more open to decent musicianship. If you stray too far from the blues at blues festivals, those people start to get very strange looks on their faces. Personally, I prefer jazz audiences.

Q: What elements in a new song qualify it as Los Lobos-worthy?

A: We've developed a large and unique vocabulary over the years. Not much is presented that's too far out to fly. We've never recorded more than is needed . . . we often come up with less, then add a cover of something everyone likes. We're not one of those bands with a lifetime's worth of outtakes or alternative versions locked away in vaults. If a piece of music doesn't work, we excise it, or change it into something we can use. We don't record it and save it for posterity. All our demos become masters. It's going to be a short day at the archaeological dig when they start looking for lost Lobos tapes.

Q: One bad Los Lobos experience?

A: We've found ourselves in some horribly cheesy circumstances over the years, but the worst that comes to mind was Woodstock 99, the so-called 30th anniversary of the original Woodstock. There was a really bad vibe in that place . . . 100-plus degrees, and corporate greed and nastiness everywhere. The whole scene was angry. And as soon as we started playing, we knew it was the wrong song at the wrong time in the wrong place, and everything started sliding downhill. Later that night, the riots and rapes started.

Q: One good Los Lobos memory?

A: A couple of nights ago in Toulouse . . . full moon, warm setting, one of those times when everything lined up perfectly. One big moment that stands out was when we were lucky enough to play at the Clinton Inaugural in 1992, after he took over from Bush I . . . it really did feel like America's Berlin Wall had come down and that the evil forces had been pushed back. We also got to play for Obama a couple of months into his administration at a Latin music celebration at the White House. It didn't feel like an official event, just a cool party in someone's really cool house. I remember thinking how long it had taken America to get to that place and how glad I was to be there.

Branford Marsalis: Chasing Sound

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry

(Jun 25, 2011) Before saxophonist
Branford Marsalis and his longtime quartet pianist Joey Calderazzo began writing music for their debut duo album, they established some ground rules.

Among the don'ts: "No walking bass lines in the left hand, because if you're going to simulate a bass player, then hire a bass player," recalled Marsalis by phone from his home in suburban Durham, North Carolina.

The pair's Koerner Hall concert at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival on Wednesday is the world premiere performance of Songs of Mirth and Melancholy which was released earlier this month.

"Whenever I'm playing some music outside of the realm of what I normally do, I buy a bunch of examples of other people doing it," Marsalis said. "It's the same thing I did with (1994 jazz-funk-hip-hop project) Buckshot LeFonque. So, I got a bunch of duo CDs and I put them on and I said 'Now what do I absolutely hate about this?' And it was a long list."

Except for "a large percentage of" 1975's The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album, Marsalis, whose previous piano duo projects were with father Ellis Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr., was primarily impressed by classical pairings; they were more melodic, he found, and seemed to be composed for the unique properties of the instruments.

"Too many times when I listen to jazz duo records they sound like in their mind they're still playing with a quartet," he said. Of particular inspiration was Brahms's "Die Trauernde" which is included on Mirth and Melancholy.

"The thing that I love about classical music at the highest level is that it's almost impossible to obfuscate. You can't change the melody to suit your ear. You can't put a little scat, or a little lick on the top of it to mask the fact that you can't play a melody to save your life. The music is there and you have to embrace it, put yourself inside of it and deliver it.

"In that way ("Die Trauernde") is an apt metaphor for what we were trying to do, because the focus of the record was about playing songs; not playing licks, not playing tunes, not having jam sessions, but actually playing songs."

Marsalis, who plays tenor and soprano on the new record, was enjoying some downtime ahead of the duo's "big gig coming up in Toronto." A recent weekday morning found him heading to a nearby golf course to squeeze in nine holes ahead of lunch with his wife and daughter and an afternoon practising his horn.

A member of the celebrated New Orleans family of jazz musicians, Marsalis, 50, has charted a diverse path which includes forays into rock and a stint at the helm of Jay Leno's Tonight Show Band.

"My only plan has been to improve," said Marsalis. "The first time I ever got paid to play music was playing in an R&B band and that gig really offset the template for what I'm doing now." With few of the band's nine musicians able to read music, Marsalis learned everybody's part by ear and arranged radio hits for the group.

"I had five consecutive years of work where I was relying solely on my ears and my reading suffered, but what I noticed when I went to (college) was that there were all these saxophone players who could play the saxophone way better than me - and I think that still exists today - but what was really strange to me was how bad they were at playing music. By the time I started playing jazz, I could actually hear what the other musicians were playing and didn't feel the need to learn songs based on their chord structure."

"When you have to learn a song based on what the chord structures are, you tend to focus on the chord structures and not the melody and how your music is perceived by the public. People like songs with melodies regardless of the kind of music they listen to. But jazz has become this highly specialized, secularized music with a bunch of jokes and points of view that normal people can't digest or understand; it wasn't like that 60 years ago.

"Jazz is never going to be pop music again, but for the people that have the capacity to listen to instrumental music, songs with strong melodic content will be always more successful than songs that are overly complicated. Playing with an R&B band, playing with an orchestra, playing with Sting, playing with the Grateful Dead, playing with Miles Davis, with Dizzy Gillespie, with my brother (Wynton's) band, this idea has been reinforced.

"It doesn't mean that I'm going to go on a campaign to play things that people like all the time; that would make me a pop musician and I'm not, but when you play pop music, the thing you understand is that simplicity works."

That makes Calderazzo and his knack for "astounding melodies" a fitting collaborator.

"When you see Joey play, the passion he has for it just pours through," said Marsalis. "He breaks his nails on the keyboards sometimes and blood's coming down. He stands up when he plays and it's not an act; he's committed and the music tends to be less professorial when that happens.

"I move all over the place when we play, because the music propels me to places that I don't know where I am. Your brain channels to a different place for those songs and in that place it's just sound. I don't get caught up in chord changes, because I can hear. So it's 'What does it sound like? What sounds can we introduce to expand this sound, or contract the sound?' It's a hell of a process; I wish I could explain it better."

Peter Frampton Comes Alive - Again!

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(Jun. 27, 2011) The English guitarist and singer
Peter Frampton, who plays the Montreal Jazz Festival on Thursday, and later performs his landmark double album Frampton Comes Alive! at Canadian venues in July and September, speaks about his iconic record on its 35th anniversary.

In the 1970s, Eric Clapton resisted the idea of doing a live album, arguing that a concert was meant to be just one night, which is why he eventually called his album that, Just One Night. This summer, by playing Frampton Comes Alive! in full, aren't you moving even further away from playing in the moment?

We'll be doing the set list that we did that night at the Winterland in San Francisco, but we're not recreating it. That was just one night, and I'd say the same thing as Eric.

You won't be playing it lick for lick?

No. If you paid me a billion dollars I wouldn't be able to do it anyway [laughs]. I'm not made that way. I am of the moment, always have been. I'm much better at take one than at take two in the studio.

In the song Something's Happening, there's the line "I know it's my year, ain't got no fear - hold me down." It really was your year. How do you feel now, 35 years later, revisiting it?

I think I've come to terms with it. To have something that big, it almost became too much. The overexposure of that record, coupled with a couple of silly projects that I did - a few photos and a film, really - and then it was over.

You're okay going back to it?

I couldn't just do Frampton Comes Alive!. We're doing a three-hour concert, with two acts - one act being that record. Things have come around for me, in part because of my Grammy for my Fingerprints album in 2007. That to me was a validation, finally, as the first piece of success that I had had that meant something to me since Comes Alive!

Do you have anything left of the things we see on the Frampton Comes Alive! album cover?

I don't have the hair.

Right, you even change the "cut my hair" line now when you sing All I Want to Be (Is by Your Side). What about the silky clothes?

The outfit is travelling around, with one of the guitars and the talk box, with the Hard Rock Café collection. I couldn't fit into it anyway. I had a 26-inch waist then. I'm up in the 30s now.

Do you still live the rock 'n' roll lifestyle?

I gave up drugs many, many years ago. And I'm working on my ninth year of sobriety, one day at a time. I have to say it's been the best nine years of my life. I feel more like I did when I was 16. The shell is 61 years old, but inside the passion is as it was when I was 16.

There's the line in Do You Feel Like We Do?, "come on, let's do it again." Could it happen for Peter Frampton again?

Oh, I don't think so. It was a moment in time when all the stars were aligned. I would never want that kind of ferocious success, though. It was a fury of good and bad. Now I'm more happy than ever to go out there as a musician, and to be appreciated, it seems, on a new high. It seems to have come full circle.

Peter Frampton plays Montreal Jazz Festival, June 30; Ottawa Blues Festival, July 10; and Richmond, B.C., Sept. 24. The Frampton Comes Alive Tour plays Toronto, July 9; Calgary, Sept. 26; Regina, Sept. 27; and Winnipeg, Sept. 28.

Cropper's Legacy Comes To Life

Source: www.thestar.com - By Greg Quill

(Jun 24, 2011) It's no big surprise to guitarist and megahit songwriter
Steve Cropper that he's performing Saturday night on the Toronto Jazz Festival's Mainstage with his longtime musical trail mate, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn, and legendary R&B singer Eddie Floyd, in Stax, a tribute to the rich Memphis soul legacy they helped create as essential members of the racially integrated and profoundly influential Stax studio/recording empire in the 1960s.

"Music is music, and festivals these days like to mix it up," the Missouri-born musician and producer said in a recent phone interview from his Nashville home.

"I've played in lots of jazz festivals, blues festivals, folk festivals. Our music seems to fit every genre."

As a founding member, with Dunn, of Booker T & the MGs, the Stax house band that perfected the label's characteristic style, and writer/co-writer of hits by Otis Redding, the Bar-Kays, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, the Staple Singers, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Johnnie Taylor, and William Bell, among others, Cropper, now 69, is a pioneer with an awe-inspiring body of work.

Cropper's music has never dated. It's the bedrock of roadhouse repertoires around the world, a self-sustaining phenomenon that has anchored movies (The Blues Brothers, The Commitments), and careers (in 2008 Australian Idol star Guy Sebastian hired Cropper and Dunn to record and tour a best-selling album featuring Stax-period classics).

His music has also earned the guitarist/composer astounding accolades (Britain's influential Mojo magazine once named Cropper, essentially a rhythm player, the second best guitarist in the world, after Jimi Hendrix, and Rolling Stone tagged him among the best 100 guitarists of all time).

Besides, alongside the Average White Band on Saturday's bill - the Scottish funk outfit owes a great deal to the music Cropper designed at Stax - Cropper said he feels perfectly at home.

He's just hoping he can remember all the important bits of the songs he helped write and or record - "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay," "In The Midnight Hour", "Knock On Wood", "Soul Man", "Green Onions", "634-5789", "Hold On, I'm Coming", "Walking the Dog", among others.

"Well, this is sort of a special event," he laughed. "Strange as it sounds, we've never done this before. Duck and I have backed lots of other people playing some of these songs, but we've never fronted a show ourselves. This is essentially the Booker T & the MGs show without (organist) Booker T (Jones), which is something I've never done before, and have never agreed to till now."

Why the change of mind?

"Booker's busy promoting his new solo record, so a full band tour was taken off the table," Cropper said. "But the agents and promoters came back and asked us if we'd consider doing a Stax show, featuring the Booker T repertoire, with another singer. I told them, 'Only if it's Eddie Floyd or William Bell.' But I never really thought it would happen.

"The MGs have never been together long enough at any time to take advantage of the full body of (Stax) work in a live performance - 14 albums. That's what appeals to me, though we'll only have time to do just the basic hits."

Drummer Anton Figg (from the house band on TV's Late Night with David Letterman) and Stax session veteran and former Isaac Hayes band mate, keyboardist Lester Snell, will complete the Stax! band line-up Saturday.

"Anton and Lester know every little lick, but Duck and I never play the same thing twice," Cropper said. "We're pretty good with beginnings and endings, but what goes on in the middle is different every time.

"We won't have a chance to rehearse before Saturday ... we'll work it all out in the sound check before the show, or in the dressing room.

"It's not like we've never played these songs before."

SIDEBAR:

Steve Cropper's songwriting secrets:

"I seem to have a second sense about what's going to be a hit record. A lot of it has to do with poetry and good rhymes. I can't stand lyrics that don't rhyme.

"But because I grew up listening to R&B, I respond first to the hook in a song, and the groove. I like basic chord changes that suggest some kind of tag line or (instrumental) lick. Once I have that, it's easy to get excited about writing the words."

Steve Cropper's guitar:

"I've always played a (Fender) Telecaster, or a custom Tele-style guitar. It's an easy guitar to play, light and very versatile. You can get lots of sounds out of a Telecaster without having to resort to effects pedals. It has a nice, clean sound, with lots of bite, particularly on the upstroke, and it's not easy to distort.

"My instrument of choice is a specially modified custom Peavey Tele-style guitar with a ½-moon Fender neck shape. Comparing it to my old Fender is like comparing a Ferrari to a Chevy."

Jonathan Crow Emerges As Toronto Symphony's New Concertmaster

Source: www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(Jun 23, 2011) After three years without a full-time concertmaster, the
Toronto Symphony is about to hire 33-year-old Montrealer Jonathan Crow to fill the orchestra's second most important position, the Star has learned.

Toronto Symphony CEO Andrew Shaw couldn't confirm a start date, or even that Crow will be named concertmaster, but did say that he is thrilled. He called it "a wonderful development for the TSO and the community."

British Columbia-born Crow boasts an impressive résumé. He joined the Montreal Symphony Orchestra as a second violinist at age 19. In 2002, he was appointed concertmaster: the youngest person to ever serve in that position in North America.

Crow left the Montreal Symphony in 2006. Since that time, he has focused on a varied and busy career as a chamber musician and teaching at McGill University's Schulich School of Music.

In response to repeated questions on why it was taking years to fill the concertmaster's post, Toronto Symphony music director Peter Oundjian insisted that he was in no rush. This was a major legacy project for him, so he wanted to make sure he hired the best talent available: one that would be a good fit with the other orchestra musicians.

The previous concertmaster, French-born Jacques Israelievitch, held the post for 20 years.

It is not clear yet how Crow will manage the transition from his current obligations to taking on the full-time job of the Toronto Symphony's No. 1 violin player.

Crow's imminent appointment is a major victory for Canadian performers, who are not well represented among the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's section principals. In filling other key chairs in the orchestra, Oundjian has often turned to young American talent.

The music director's job in recruiting top candidates was made easier by a $3.5 million endowment gift from longtime orchestra supporters Tom and Mary Beck. This money will help pay an annual salary that, for most major North American orchestras, is in the $250,000 to $350,000 range.

BET Awards Draws 7.7 Million Viewers

Source:  www.eurweb.com


(June 27, 2011) *Sunday’s live telecast of the
BET Awards drew 7.7 million viewers, which tops the pairs of eyes who tuned in last year, but came nowhere near the amount who watched the 2009 show in the wake of Michael Jackson’s death.

Last year’s show was watched by 7.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen, while the 2009 awards set a record with 10.7 million viewers.

Sunday’s ceremony, which aired live from Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, is traditionally one of BET’s most-watched events.

As previously reported, Chris Brown took home the award for best male R&B artist and also earned best collaboration for  “Look at Me Now” featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. He performed the song with Rhymes during the show.

Nicki Minaj was named best female hip-hop artist, while Kanye West took the trophy in the male category.

Wiz Khalifa was named best new artist. The YoungStars Award resulted in a tie, given to brother and sister Jaden and Willow Smith, children of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Other winners included Michael Vick and Serena Williams, named best sportsman and sportswoman of the year.

Jazz Pianists Inspire With Musical Fire

Source:  www.thestar.com - By John Terauds


(Jun 28, 2011) Jazz is alive and well – and striding purposefully without a safety harness along an I-beam on the unfinished 39th floor of that building over there.

That’s the impression after three nights of hearing the really serious stuff—the music that belongs in a darkened concert hall with audience in rapt attention.

The
Toronto Jazz Festival’s four-day Grand Masters series about a pianist and his instrument: Two hands on 88 keys, with no band or singer to hide behind.

Each of the first three artists brought something special to the Glenn Gould Studio. For these two ears, the most exciting date was an extraordinary performance on Monday by 45-year-old citizen of the world, Jacky Terrasson.

Besides showing off incendiary technique both on the keys and inside the guts of the piano itself, Terrasson wasn’t shy about making us smile.

You have to love a guy who can craft a solo symphony out of the theme from the Harry Potter movies, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and vintage schlock-pop song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” – and then end his concert with “Just a Gigolo.”

Despite the material, there wasn’t even the thinnest slice of cheese in Terrasson’s music as he wove a mesmerizing spell from melodic licks landing and taking off on unfamiliar harmonic terrain.

Terrasson often seemed oblivious to whether his right hand knew what the heck his left was doing. But, of course, he was in full control of every detail.

Lifetimes of memories are made up of music that packs this much emotional and intellectual punch.

The concert series opened Sunday night with 85-year-old Randy Weston, who took us on a personal journey that began with Duke Ellington’s Caravan,” and led us to Weston’s unique blend of modern and African jazz idioms.

Although Weston’s fingers betrayed their age, this legend’s storytelling skills were a lively as ever when he came to sharing his own pieces.

Tuesday night was all youthful fire as hot, 40-year-old New Yorker Vijay Iyer took the audience on a rollicking tour of the familiar and new.

Iyer shares Terrasson’s awe-inspiring technique, but his musical approach was more cerebral, focusing on layers, textures, trancelike repetitions and otherworldly harmonies.

The greatest beauty of sitting through a series like this, is that we get to see each artist, face to face with his muse as well as his demons. It can be a pretty sight.

The Grand Masters series concludes on Wednesday with American legend Kenny Barron.

Plenty Of ‘Authentic’ Jazz At Montreal Festival

Source: 
www.globeandmail.com - Alan Conter

Festival international de jazz de Montréal
Various artists at various venues in Montreal this week

(Jun 29, 2011) As Globe and Mail jazz critic J.D. Considine pointed out
in these pages recently, the promoters of jazz festivals have one massive task of balancing box-office appeal with a panoply of half-baked notions of what constitutes “purity” under the jazz label. As he put it, some people think that the jazz fests “are not jazzy enough.”

Those who feel that way must only skim the program schedules. Or perhaps they scan just what takes place at the free, outdoor stages.
Festival international de jazz de Montréal programs more than 300 concerts squeezed into 10 days and dozens of venues. If you’re looking for “authentic” jazz – which, given the fluid and improvisational foundation of the art form and its internal logic of constant renewal, is poppycock – there’s plenty to be found.

On Saturday night, for example, wanting desperately not to repeat the amazing but overwhelming experience of being surrounded by a couple of thousand fans genuflecting before the one true idol – the fabulous Prince at Métropolis, I went to a more intimate show with Cuba’s Harold Lopez-Nussa Trio at L’Astral, a venue that comfortably seats 320 people with fine acoustics, decent sight lines and a quiet and attentive bar staff.

At 27, pianist Lopez-Nussa is a rising star. His father is a revered percussionist in Havana and his mother was a renowned piano instructor. Harold graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte of Havana and in 2005 won the prestigious Montreux Jazz Solo Competition. Rounding out the trio are his younger brother, Ruy Adrian, 24, on drums and Felipe Cabrera, 50, also an accomplished composer, on double bass.

In their second appearance at the festival, they brought a collection of new work, El Pais de las Maravillas (Wonderland). It’s a sophisticated, infectious and delectably diverse piano jaunt through three major idioms of Cuban music, ably abetted by percussion and bass. Lopez-Nussa is so clearly the product of rigorous classical training, yet he, his younger brother and Cabrera revelled in an intricate and welcoming Latin musical adventure that was fluid and smart and fun all at once.

On Sunday night, well, how could you pass up the chance of hearing a Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman recital? These two giants of American jazz, who are both in their 40s, with accomplished performance and academic careers, and are good friends, took to the stage at Théâtre Maisonneuve. Pianist Mehldau had done a sold-out solo performance the night before, but catching him with saxophonist Redman was an enriching experience.

Mehldau brings a classical rigour to the keyboard that sometimes seems Gouldian and other times makes you think of Steve Reich but then seems to channel Bobby Short. Yes, it’s all of these things.

Mehldau has said that playing with Redman is like playing with no one else. You do get a sense of an amazing rapport between them. Their rendition of Charlie Parker’s Cheryl was breathtaking. Mehldau makes the most intricate music seem effortless and Redman produces musical colours that other sax players only hope to be able to achieve. Sublime timing, boldly understated stops.

On Monday night, it was time for Marc Ribot, one of the great guitarists of our time. If he is not a household name, it’s because he is fiercely independent. In the third of a series of concerts, he presented Caged Funk at the Théâtre Jean Duceppe – wicked variations on, and interpretations of, the music of composer, philosopher and artist John Cage. With a sextet that included another gifted guitarist, Marco Cappelli, drummer J.T. Lewis and DJ Logic, Ribot delivered an uplifting, hyper-intelligent homage to Cage’s musical imagination. Some of “The Harmony of Maine” – so beautiful.

Festival international de jazz de Montréal runs until July 4 (
montrealjazzfest.com).

Special to The Globe and Mail

Plenty Of ‘Authentic’ Jazz At Montreal Festival

Source: 
www.globeandmail.com - Alan Conter

Festival international de jazz de Montréal
Various artists at various venues in Montreal this week

(Jun 29, 2011) As Globe and Mail jazz critic J.D. Considine pointed out in these pages recently, the promoters of jazz festivals have one massive task of balancing box-office appeal with a panoply of half-baked notions of what constitutes “purity” under the jazz label. As he put it, some people think that the jazz fests “are not jazzy enough.”

Those who feel that way must only skim the program schedules. Or perhaps they scan just what takes place at the free, outdoor stages.
Festival international de jazz de Montréal programs more than 300 concerts squeezed into 10 days and dozens of venues. If you’re looking for “authentic” jazz – which, given the fluid and improvisational foundation of the art form and its internal logic of constant renewal, is poppycock – there’s plenty to be found.

On Saturday night, for example, wanting desperately not to repeat the amazing but overwhelming experience of being surrounded by a couple of thousand fans genuflecting before the one true idol – the fabulous Prince at Métropolis, I went to a more intimate show with Cuba’s Harold Lopez-Nussa Trio at L’Astral, a venue that comfortably seats 320 people with fine acoustics, decent sight lines and a quiet and attentive bar staff.

At 27, pianist Lopez-Nussa is a rising star. His father is a revered percussionist in Havana and his mother was a renowned piano instructor. Harold graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte of Havana and in 2005 won the prestigious Montreux Jazz Solo Competition. Rounding out the trio are his younger brother, Ruy Adrian, 24, on drums and Felipe Cabrera, 50, also an accomplished composer, on double bass.

In their second appearance at the festival, they brought a collection of new work, El Pais de las Maravillas (Wonderland). It’s a sophisticated, infectious and delectably diverse piano jaunt through three major idioms of Cuban music, ably abetted by percussion and bass. Lopez-Nussa is so clearly the product of rigorous classical training, yet he, his younger brother and Cabrera revelled in an intricate and welcoming Latin musical adventure that was fluid and smart and fun all at once.

On Sunday night, well, how could you pass up the chance of hearing a Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman recital? These two giants of American jazz, who are both in their 40s, with accomplished performance and academic careers, and are good friends, took to the stage at Théâtre Maisonneuve. Pianist Mehldau had done a sold-out solo performance the night before, but catching him with saxophonist Redman was an enriching experience.

Mehldau brings a classical rigour to the keyboard that sometimes seems Gouldian and other times makes you think of Steve Reich but then seems to channel Bobby Short. Yes, it’s all of these things.

Mehldau has said that playing with Redman is like playing with no one else. You do get a sense of an amazing rapport between them. Their rendition of Charlie Parker’s Cheryl was breathtaking. Mehldau makes the most intricate music seem effortless and Redman produces musical colours that other sax players only hope to be able to achieve. Sublime timing, boldly understated stops.

On Monday night, it was time for Marc Ribot, one of the great guitarists of our time. If he is not a household name, it’s because he is fiercely independent. In the third of a series of concerts, he presented Caged Funk at the Théâtre Jean Duceppe – wicked variations on, and interpretations of, the music of composer, philosopher and artist John Cage. With a sextet that included another gifted guitarist, Marco Cappelli, drummer J.T. Lewis and DJ Logic, Ribot delivered an uplifting, hyper-intelligent homage to Cage’s musical imagination. Some of “The Harmony of Maine” – so beautiful.

Festival international de jazz de Montréal runs until July 4 (
montrealjazzfest.com).

Special to The Globe and Mail

MUSIC TIDBITS

RZA in Talks for Paramount’s New ‘G.I. Joe’ Film

Source:  www.eurweb.com


(June 28, 2011) *Rapper-turned-actor
RZA is said to be in negotiations to join Paramount’s new G.I. Joe movie being directed by Jon M. Chu. Other than Channing Tatum, the Lorenzo di Bonaventura-produced action movie is coming back with a whole new cast with Dwayne Johnson and Elodie Yung among the newcomers to the franchise. RZA will play a martial arts master named the Blind Master who in the past trained Joe commandoes Snake-Eyes and Jinx (Yung). D.J. Cotrona, best known as one of the cast members of TV’s “Detroit 1-8-7,” is also in talks to join the cast as Flint, a Joe soldier best known in the toyline and 1980s comics for his shotgun and beret. RZA’s credits include “American Gangster,” “The Next Three Days” and “Repo Men,” and stars as the title characters in “The Man with the Iron Fists” with Russell Crowe.

Video: Drake Reveals Clip for New Single ‘Marvin’s Room’

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(June 29, 2011) Rapper
Drake accepts the Coca Cola Viewers' Choice Award onstage during the BET Awards '11 held at the Shrine Auditorium on June 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California *Fresh from being trapped in BET’s Rihanna/Chris Brown boo-boo, Drake posted his video for new track “Marvin’s Room” on Tuesday. It depicts a young woman on the other end of a phone call while he drunkenly croons, “You could do better.” After a night out on the town, he ends his night home alone. The track has been lighting up the Internet in recent weeks, with artists including JoJo and Chris Brown lending their voices to various remixed versions, according to Billboard. Drake’s upcoming studio album, “Take Care,” is slated for an October 24th release. Watch “Marvin’s Room” below, followed by the Chris Brown and JoJo remixes. [Warning, language in all 3 NSFW.]

 

Drake ~ Marvins Room (Official Video) from OctobersVeryOwn on Vimeo.

 

 

VIDEO: Clips from Missy Elliot’s ‘Behind the Music’ Special

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(June 29, 2011) *Vh1’s “Behind the Music” kicks off its new 8-episode season
tonight with a spotlight on Missy Elliott, who made headlines recently after revealing about her battle with Graves disease, which she discusses in detail on the show. The episode will also include an in-depth look at Elliott’s rise to stardom, her battle with weight and being sexually molested as a child. Celebrating its 14th anniversary this year, the series will also feature Ice Cube, Miranda Lambert, Mary J. Blige, Enrique Iglesias, Adam Lambert and Ricky Martin. Watch three sneak peeks from tonight’s episode below.

 ::FILM NEWS::

New York Catches Up With Polytechnique

Source: 
www.thestar.com - By John Terauds

(Jun 29, 2011) More than two years after its Canadian release, Denis
Villeneuve’s Polytechnique has garnered a New York Times review and is being screened in Manhattan.

Film critic A.O. Scott compares the award-winning drama — a cinematic rendering of the 1989 Montreal massacre — to Villeneuve’s most recent work, the Oscar-nominated saga Incendies.

Incendies demonstrated Mr. Villeneuve’s ability to hold onto a humanist perspective in the face of extreme inhumanity, and Polytechnique, though it relies less on dramatic contrivances, is similarly clear in its insistence that decency is ultimately stronger than barbarism,” Scott writes in an article published Wednesday.

Polytechnique stars Maxim Gaudette (who also starred in Incendies) as the shooter and Karine Vanasse, who has a role in the upcoming ABC ’60s-era TV drama Pan-Am, as a student caught in the rampage.

Polytechnique swept the 2010 Genies, winning nine of the 11 categories in which it was nominated and bringing Villeneuve his second directing Genie, after 2000’s Maelstrom.

In his review, Scott draws comparisons to Gus Van Sant’s 2003 film Elephant, which was based on the Columbine High School shootings.

Both films avoid trying to explain or moralize what is depicted on the screen, he notes.

“Instead they stick to the basics of time, space and human behaviour and allow meaning to seep in gradually and obliquely through the edges,” he writes.

Scott says that in many ways Polytechnique is a “modest film.”

“The virtue — and also the limitation — of this movie is that it confronts senselessness and insists on remaining calm and sane.”

Polytechnique was shot simultaneously in French and English, but it’s the French-language version that will screen at the Museum of Modern Art beginning Wednesday, according to The New York Times.

Incendies ultimately lost the foreign-language Oscar to Susanne Bier’s In a Better World.

Villeneuve will be feted later this week with a retrospective at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Held in the city of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, the event runs July 1 to 9.

Poor Marketing Hurt 'Barney's Version' in the U.S., Director Says

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(Jun. 27, 2011)
Barney's Version earned critical acclaim and recognition from the Oscars and Golden Globes, but the creative minds who spent years labouring over the film were disappointed by how many people actually saw the film.

The Paul Giamatti-starring flick - adapted from legendary Montreal author Mordecai Richler's beloved semi-autobiographical 1997 novel - grossed about $8.5 million worldwide, but struggled to find an audience in the U.S. At its peak, the film only screened in 281 North American theatres.

"It had a great response with those who saw it," said Genie- and Emmy-nominated director Richard J. Lewis.

"I just don't think it was that well marketed or distributed."

While Lewis declined to go into details on those perceived failures, he's hopeful Barney will find a second life on DVD and Blu-ray when it's released Tuesday.

Barney's Version is a sprawling romantic dramedy, spanning decades in the life of the titular cigar-chewing, booze-swilling curmudgeon (played by Giamatti, who won a Golden Globe for his daring performance).

It's a richly complex, bittersweet grown-up drama - a type of film that, these days, seems about as appealing to Hollywood execs as a wintertime dip in the St. Lawrence River.

"People really like these kind of adult movies, they like to see them, but the studios don't really want to make them," the film's screenwriter Michael Konyves said over the line from California, where he was trying to get new TV projects off the ground.

"It's not very often that anybody's going to pay you anything to write a drama. You can't even bring up the word 'drama' in L.A. now. They won't touch it."

But he's optimistic about the film's potential to find an audience in its home release.

"I actually think it's the kind of movie that will do very well on video. I think it's the kind of thing that people hear about and you get a lot of word of mouth," he said.

"People less and less go and see these kind of movies in the theatre.... I understand everyone going to the theatre to see Inception, but we've become much more accustomed to seeing these kind of stories on HBO shows, on Showtime, on all the cable networks - that's where all independent storytelling has kind of moved to."

It's not surprising, then, that the people behind Barney's Version seemed to give the home release their full attention.

The DVD includes a commentary track with Lewis, Konyves and producer Robert Lantos, an archived interview with the late Richler, and a recording of a public Q-&-A between Giamatti and author Annette Insdorf.

However, the true treasure trove for fans of the film and book might be the nearly 30 minutes of deleted scenes included here.

After all, adapting Richler's book for the screen was long thought to be an impossible task, a fool's errand. The novel was endlessly complex, littered with characters, subplots and footnotes as well as an era-hopping format that would surely be difficult to reproduce coherently onscreen.

Development of the movie stretched over more than a decade, with Konyves, Lewis and Lantos devoting years to re-writing, arguing and reshaping the book into something that would make sense in a movie theatre. Along the way, of course, they were forced to excise some key material, footage that has been restored on the DVD.

Viewers now get a more revealing glimpse of Barney's rocky relationship with his first wife - Rachelle Lefevre's feisty, unstable Clara - as well as more of his tension-ridden exchange with her estranged father, portrayed by Saul Rubinek.

There's also a great comic exchange between Minnie Driver's second wife and Barney's mensch of a dad (Dustin Hoffman), a sojourn to New York that was completely cut from the film and another clip that allows Driver's shrill character to wrest a little sympathy from viewers.

The DVD release also includes footage that Lewis ranks among his most difficult omissions: scenes that explore Barney's difficult relationship with his son, which was barely a factor in the theatrical version of the movie.

"What really is missing a lot is the relationship between the father and his son - that relationship, the movie really doesn't do justice to the book, in my mind," said Lewis, who also lamented that the film had to cut the character Hymie Mintzbaum, a movie producer friend of Barney's in the book.

IIFA Awards: An Insider's View

Source: www.thestar.com - By Shree Paradkar

(Jun 25, 2011) All it took was one man's arrival for the double
barricades set up outside the Rogers Centre to start swaying dangerously. The crowd's screams reached a crescendo - Shah Rukh Khan was on the green carpet.

All was well.

Bollywood, hitherto idealized from afar, was suddenly within touching distance - imagine that - for the first time at such a scale in the GTA.

Never mind that only one of the five Best Actor nominees, and one Best Actress nominee, had turned up in Toronto. No Hrithik Roshan, no Salman Khan, no Kareena Kapoor, no Katrina Kaif, and, obviously, no Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Preity Zinta and Ranbir Kapoor bailed out, as did Akshay Kumar.

But the lack of depth in star power did nothing to dim the spectacle, the sense of grandeur of the show that was to unfold.

Here was Genelia D'Souza shimmering in gold in a Gaurav Gupta gown. There was Zayed Khan, dapper in his Manav Gangwani suit. Among non-Bollywood celebs were Cuba Gooding Jr., Hilary Swank draped on Anil Kapoor's arm, and Aussie cricketer and Indophile Brett Lee. "I'm not singing tonight," he told the Star, of his hit single "Can You Tell a Girl" with the iconic Asha Bhosle, who was also present.

The show more than an hour late. That surprised no one. But once it began no time was wasted. The first four awards were handed out in rapid succession within the first hour. Action flick Dabangg, with 11 nominations, took early lead winning for best playback singer female, best playback singer male, music direction and best screenplay. Niranjan Iyengar won best lyrics for "Tere Sajda" in My Name is Khan. That movie also won for Best Story.

Shah Rukh Khan was on stage within the first 15 minutes chiding hosts Ritesh Deshmukh and Boman Irani for being "bad hosts" and proceeded to give them tips on how to do a better job. Improve your body language, he told them, urging them to showcase their talents. The hosts proceeded with a totally off-key rendition of "Bheege hoth tere" from the movie Murder to much laughter.

The Deol trio - but especially Dharmendra - delighted everyone with their performance of "Yamla Pagla Deewana." Grand ole' Garam Dharam was also honoured for his 50 years in Indian cinema. The choreography for the evening had Shiamak Davar stamped all over it, with more than 100 indefatigable dancers having flown in from academies all over the world to perform here.

Arshad Warsi handed out the best playback male award and burst out impulsively, "Thank you Canada for being so sweet to us - you have given us so much love, I want to come back and live here."

Anil Kapoor roused the crowds saying, "The biggest stars of IIFA are you. Thank you Ontario for making us feel the Indian summer's warmth in Canada."

Mumbai noir film Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai led the contenders with 12 nominations. The awards, not quite Bollywood's Oscars but prestigious nevertheless, are the final awards of the year.

To Die Like A Man Mixes Genders And Genres

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Rick Groen

(Jun. 24, 2011) Consider the opening frame: close-up of a young
soldier in fatigues painting his face with camouflage. Now factor in the title, To Die Like a Man, and this would seem to be a war film. Well, it isn't, at least not the conventional kind.

Minutes later, with typical brazenness, Portuguese director Joao Pedro Rodrigues switches genres and mixes genders. That callow soldier gives way to an aging drag queen with her own war paint, in her own battle dress, and having lived life in a perpetual no man's land, suffering from her own battle fatigue. This is Tonia's story, the tale of a transsexual who's fought too hard on the front lines and is facing the ultimate betrayal.

It's told with Rodrigues's usual mixture of studied formalism and wild audacity. The setting is Lisbon in the eighties, where, plying her trade as the star attraction at a local club, Tonia (Fernando Santos) is no longer a man, yet not quite a woman. Dresses, heels, a blond wig and breast implants all contribute to the camouflage, but residual Catholic guilt has prevented her from taking the final medical step to a full sex change. At the club, younger and more convincing queens are threatening to eclipse her. At home, she adores her little dog and mothers her junkie boyfriend Rosario (Alexander David). Once she was a father, too, but her son is estranged. He's the soldier in that opening frame, armed and decidedly dangerous.

Yes, melodrama abounds, and the debt to Rainer Werner Fassbinder is obvious. Yet, despite the outré material, Rodrigues resists the expected theatrics. For instance, we never see Tonia on stage in all her lip-synching glory. Instead, it's her backstage existence that occupies us - bickering with her rival, gossiping to a friend, tending with infinite patience to the always vulnerable Rosario, and, in her hoarse voice, singing laments drenched in saudade, in a sorrow both wise and weary.

But the genre-busting doesn't stop here. Rodrigues refuses to deal exclusively in behind-the-scenes, beneath-the-wig realism. Certainly, grim attention is paid to the infection oozing from Tonia's silicone implants - the body registering its betrayal. However, the camera also lingers in slow and stylized shots, generating strange images (a chicken bone in a fish-filled aquarium) that are elusive in meaning yet undeniable in visual impact. The effect is a sort of magic realism, but a black magic that, like the whole theme of sexual ambiguity, is meant to disorient and unsettle.

And it does, at best. At worst, the drag-queen travails just seem to drag on, and those held shots do nothing but inflate an already excessive running time. But then Rodrigues will catch our eye once more, and ho-hum will turn haunting again. The most exquisite example is also the most bizarre.

Tonia and Rosario leave their urban demimonde for the pastoral delights of the country. There, they happen upon the house of a transsexual couple living in relative seclusion from the prying world. At night, under a full moon, they all head into the woods, where Rodrigues poses them in a roseate tableau, yet with paradise undercut by a soundtrack playing the dolorous strains of Baby Dee's Calvary. Like a twisted take on A Midsummer Night's Dream, it's a breathtaking sequence, simultaneously mesmerizing and menacing.

The title leaves no doubt about the ending but, thanks to Santos's unflinching performance and Rodrigues's continued audaciousness, the climax still takes us aback. Ultimately, what's shocking is not that the war is over but that the war paint is off - life stripped of its camouflage looks deadly indeed.

To Die Like a Man

  *  Directed by Joao Pedro Rodrigues
  *  Written by Joao Pedro Rodrigues and Rui Catalao
  *  Starring Fernando Santos and Alexander David
  *  Classification: NA

 

Director Lee Daniels Eyes Nicole Kidman for ‘Paperboy’

Source:  www.eurweb.com


(June 27, 2011) *A domino situation has led to two actors dropping
out of director Lee Daniels’ upcoming project “Paperboy,” and Nicole Kidman is reportedly in talks to become one of the replacements.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the drama was to have starred Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, Tobey Maguire and Sofia Vergara, with production scheduled to begin later this summer.

But Maguire dropped out of the project last week, throwing a wrench into the proceedings and causing the shoot to be pushed back. That delay then ran into Vergara’s “Modern Family” shooting schedule, prompting her to drop out of “Paperboy” on Friday.

But the producers are acting quickly to fill the holes and are now in talks with Nicole Kidman to step into Vergara’s shoes. McConaughey and Efron are still in at this point.

“Paperboy” follows a reporter and his brother who investigate the events surrounding a murder in order to exonerate a man on death row. Kidman, if her deal can be made, will play a woman with a dark side who writes letters to men on death row. She brings the case to the attention of the reporter, developing a relationship with him.

VIDEO and AUDIO: Brantley Brings His Music Hustle to Film with ‘Hopelessly in June’

Source:  www.eurweb.com


(June 28, 2011) *Longtime songwriter and musician
Vincent Brantley has traded the mixing board for a director’s chair.

With six platinum albums and a number of awards already on his shelf through the likes of Brian McKnight, Faith Evans and New Edition (He’s credited with writing “Cool it Now”) – the LA-based producer is now applying those efforts toward film. It’s a move, he admits, was done more for financial reasons than any other.

“I’d like to say my motivation was completely passion and creativity, but in the reality of things, I was going broke in the music business,” he tells EUR in an exclusive interview. “My royalties had diminished to Happy Meal money and Scooby Snacks. I needed to create a new vehicle for me to not only have a creative outlet, but to also be able to have an opportunity to provide for, feed and take care of my family.”

Once his decision was made to try Hollywood, stints in theatre and acting schools followed for the next several years until Brantley felt he was good enough to go on several auditions. But after one too many casting calls brimming with bald-headed, goateed men who looked just like him – all trying out for roles like “Pookie from Compton,” and for casting directors barely out of their teens – Brantley decided the acting hustle would not be as rewarding as he thought.

“I’m a guy who started by selling my first song on King and Crenshaw
chasing an A&R guy down, and now I’m gonna f**kin’ wait my turn for some kid to tell me it’s okay for me to play? No,” he says emphatically.

That’s when Brantley turned his full attention toward screenwriting – buying how-to books, studying under friends already in the game, like Mario Van Peebles and Michael King, and eventually penning his first feature length screenplay, Hopelessly in June.”

The film also has Brantley in the lead as a financial analyst from a strict Baptist family in Los Angeles who falls hard for June Flowers (Carolyn Neff), a businesswoman from a very liberal family. [Watch the trailer below.] The cast also includes Keith David, Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Jr., Ed Asner, Ella Joyce, Keith Robinson and Johnny Gill.

“I had something to say about what it’s like to be single and dating in L.A.,” Brantley says of the story. “I had something to say about what African Americans feel about the gay community. Why is it that Prop 8 was voted the way it was? The African American community didn’t embrace it. Let’s take a look at that, let’s laugh at it, let’s look at that dynamic and learn from it.”

 “I hope this movie does promote tolerance,” he says. “We can have a difference of opinion, but we can still be respectful and tolerant of one another.

The filming process took about two years – on a budget so thin that the word “shoestring” doesn’t do it justice. And that challenge was just the beginning. Now comes the hard part, securing domestic and foreign distribution.

Brantley explains the process in the bonus audio below.

FILM TIDBITS

VIDEO: A Homecoming For Nia Vardalos

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

(Jun 27, 2011) My Big Fat Greek Wedding screenwriter and star
Nia Vardalos says "it's a sign of the Rapture" that she's landed a plum role in the next as-yet untitled American Girl movie - and it's shooting in her hometown of Winnipeg, "the greatest city in the world." It's due out next year. Meanwhile, Vardalos is busy promoting her latest film, Larry Crowne, co-written with Tom Hanks, who also stars and directs. Julia Roberts co-stars as a teacher in the story of a laid-off big-box store employee who reinvents himself by going to college after being downsized. Larry Crowne opens July 1. "People think I only want to be in things that I wrote," said Vardalos from New York. Not true, says Vardalos, adding , "I love acting. It's the most fun."

 

Daniel Craig Secretly Marries Rachel Weisz In New York

Source: www.thestar.com

(Jun 26, 2011)
Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz married secretly in New York on Wednesday. The low-key couple - who first went public with their romance in December when they spent Christmas together at a cottage in the English countryside - tied the knot in front of just four people, Daniel's daughter Ella, 18, Rachel's four-year-old son Henry and two friends at a house in New York state. A source told Britain's News of the World: "Daniel and Rachel insisted on having a small, quiet wedding. They are madly in love and couldn't wait to be husband and wife - but they wanted minimum fuss. They had a couple of friends as witnesses and their children from previous relationships and that was it." Rachel split from Henry's father 'Black Swan' director Darren Aronofsky last year, announcing in November they had been separated for some time but remained "close" while 'Casino Royale' actor Daniel and Satsuki Mitchell called off their engagement last year. Rachel, 40 and Daniel, 43, star together in upcoming horror movie 'Dream House' - to be released in September 2011 - which they shot throughout 2010.

Showing Sydney Some Love

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

(Jun 27, 2011) First we had 20 filmmakers take five minutes each for Paris, j'taime. Then
came the 10 vignettes in New York, I Love You. Now Australian producers John Polson and Gary Hamilton have announced they will partner Sydney, I Love You. It starts shooting in early 2012 and is described as "a love letter from Australia's top film talent to one of the great cities of the world." Polson and Hamilton are planning a film based on 12 shorts of eight to 10 minutes each. So how about it local filmmakers? Hogtown, I Heart You. I sense a TIFF opener.

::TV NEWS::

Cineflix Media Makes A Move Into TV Drama And Comedy Production

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman


(Jun 28, 2011) The international production and distribution company
Cineflix Media is making a move into Canadian television drama and comedy production and has hired away a prominent CBC TV executive to oversee its new venture.

Sally Catto, who at CBC oversaw series such as Being Erica, Republic of Doyle, Heartland and Intelligence, has been named executive vice president of the Canadian company's scripted division, Cineflix Studios.

"We'll be developing and producing both drama and comedy primarily focusing on one-hour dramatic series and half-hour comedy series for the Canadian market, for Canadian broadcasters, but also with an eye to selling outside of Canada," said Catto, who most recently was executive director of arts and entertainment for CBC English Television and before that served as the network's creative head, television drama.

"We're really looking for high-calibre, bigger-budget shows that have very broad appeal."

Until now, Cineflix has focused on non-fiction programming, with so-called factual entertainment series such as Birth Stories, Dinner Party Wars, and Conviction Kitchen; factual series such as William Shatner's Weird or What? and Python Hunters; and documentaries (Manson, Jonestown: Paradise Lost).

With the expansion into dramatic programming, Cineflix will be opening an office in Vancouver, from where Catto - a Vancouver resident - will work, although she stresses the company will be looking nation-wide for projects to develop or finance.

Among the highlights of Catto's on-and-off decade at the public broadcaster was shepherding the hit series Being Erica from the proposal stage.

"I remember when the pitch came in for Being Erica. ... It was this amazing story that I personally responded to about the opportunity to go back and re-do and re-live it," said Catto, 42. "I loved working on that series."

Catto, who is currently on maternity leave, will begin with Cineflix in September. She says her experience at the CBC should serve her well on the other side of the boardroom table.

"I've worked at the broadcaster for a long period of time and have a good sense of what broadcasters are looking for and also the challenges they face and the criteria that goes into making decisions about what gets ordered and what airs. So going from the buying side to the selling side, I think my knowledge and experience will be really helpful."

Based in Montreal, Cineflix also has offices in Toronto, New York, London and Dublin.

Loretta Devine on Secret to Staying Employed in Hollywood

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(June 29, 2011) *Tonight,
Loretta Devine adds yet another gig to her extensive resume of work with the premiere of ABC Family’s “State of Georgia.”

As previously reported, the sitcom stars Raven-Symone as Georgia, a young woman from the south who moves to New York with her best friend Jo to live out their respective dreams. [Scroll down to watch a scene from tonight's premiere.]

Devine plays their landlord Aunt Honey, a character she describes as “very flamboyant and a little eccentric.”

“She owns two apartments in this huge building in New York,” Devine told EUR at a recent press day for the series. “The first floor apartment is where the girls are staying, Georgia and Jo. That first floor apartment is the result of being married to a man named Mr. Dupree.

“Mr. Dupree passed, and that was how the second apartment came about, because the man that was comforting me – I married later,” and moved into his place, she explained.

“And now I have my eye on the third floor apartment, but lesbians own that and I haven’t figured out how I’m gonna get that one in,” Devine said. “But, she’s very into real estate, and she’s just over-the-top, fun and a writer’s dream for comedy I think.”

Devine, herself, has been a dream for writers across multiple genres – always filling her characters with a distinct authenticity that usually manages to steal the show – whether it’s Adele Webber suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” or the over-protective, slightly villainous Pamela Taylor from her most recent feature film “Jumping the Broom.”

The Houston native, who turns 62 next month, has been consistently working since 1981 –  counting among her memorable film and television highlights “Waiting to Exhale,” “Boston Public,” “Crash” and Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls.”

The actress is quick to knock on wood when it comes to discussing her impressive Hollywood run, which continues this year with a voice role in the next “Scooby Doo” film and a plum spot in Robert Townsend’s next project.

Below, Devine gives her take on how she’s been able to stay in the game for three decades – and counting.

Sheen To Be Killed Off On ‘Two And A Half Men’

Source: 
www.thestar.com - By Bang Showbiz

(Jun 28, 2011)
Charlie Sheen's character in Two and a Half Men is to be killed off.

The troubled actor was fired from the sitcom and replaced by Ashton Kutcher after his eccentric behaviour and feuds with creator Chuck Lorre, who has now decided Charlie Harper dies off screen, meaning the star can never return to the program.

According to gossip website TMZ, Charlie's brother Alan and nephew Jake will learn "Charlie Harper has bit the dust" as "TV screens turn dark for just a minute or two".

Sheen was axed from the popular show earlier this year and it was later revealed Punk'd star Ashton would replace him at the lead star of the show, although playing a different character.

After landing a role in the sitcom, where he will work with co-stars Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones, Kutcher says he felt like he had "won the lottery".

He said: "I've never probably in my 13 years in show business received more phone calls and emails from people congratulating me on this job.

"You'd almost think I won the lottery or something, which I kind of did. I've got the best job in show business, and I am ecstatic about that."

While there's no chance of him returning to Two and a Half Men, Sheen is set to sign a deal for his TV comeback this week in a completely new show created "for him".

A source close to the negotiations said: "It's a show created with him and for him.

"The deal should get signed by tomorrow, but with lawyers you never know. No later than Friday."

TV TIDBITS

'Mad Men' Star Gets A Raise

Source: www.thestar.com - By Rob Salem

(Jun 22, 2011) LOS ANGELES-
Don Draper is getting job security and a raise. Jon Hamm, who plays 1960s advertising executive Draper on AMC's "Mad Men," has signed a new contract with series studio Lionsgate Television Group. Hamm's publicist, Slate PR, said Tuesday that the deal keeps him with the show for three more years. The actor will receive a substantial raise for the upcoming fifth season. By the contract's final year, he'll earn more than $250,000 an episode, Variety.com reported, citing unidentified sources. Hamm had been signed through season six of "Mad Men." The new deal keeps him on board through the seventh season. Series creator Matthew Weiner signed a contract in March for a sixth season and a possible seventh. Weiner's protracted negotiations delayed the show's return from this year to early 2012.

Martin Short Returns to TV

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

(Jun 29, 2011) A Canadian comedy icon is joining the CBS show How I
Met Your Mother. Hamilton-born Martin Short, known here for his beloved SCTV characters, will appear in multiple episodes of the series as the boss of Marshall Eriksen, played by Jason Segel, who gets a job as an environmental lawyer. HIMYM creator Carter Bays told EW.com it was actually Short's dramatic work that convinced him to hire the comedian. "We all love Martin Short as a comedy legend, but (his performance on) Damages is what sold me to have him on our show," Bays said. His character "is going to be funny, but there is going to be some more serious stuff, too, since we deal with the full spectrum of human emotion on our show. And Martin Short is such a diverse talent.” Short played lawyer Leonard Winstone on the third season of the legal drama, which stars Glenn Close.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Buddies in Bad Times wins big at Dora Mavor Moore Awards

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


(June 27, 2011) Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, This Hour Has
22 Minutes star Gavin Crawford and internationally in-demand director Robert Lepage were a few of the well-known Canadians honoured at the Dora Mavor Moore Awards on Monday night.

But the big winner at Toronto's annual theatre, dance and opera awards was a local theatrical name becoming better known every day: Brendan Healy, the uber-talented new artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times.

Healy's production of the late British playwright Sarah Kane's Blasted - which opened his inaugural season at Buddies with a bang - grabbed a leading five awards in the general theatre division, including outstanding production and a win for him as best director.

Only in the acting categories did Blasted - a violent and surreal play in which a civil war explodes into a hotel room in the English city of Leeds - fail to detonate.

Beating out its nominated leads David Ferry and Michelle Monteith, Joseph Ziegler was named best actor for his widely acclaimed performance as Willy Loman in Death of Salesman at Soulpepper Theatre Company, while Yanna McIntosh was named best actress for her stirring turn as the owner of a brothel in war-torn Congo in Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Ruined.

Another bordello-based drama, Anusree Roy's Brothel #9 - set among sex traffickers in Calcutta - was named outstanding new play; it had gone into the evening tied with Blasted for the most nominations.

In the musical-theatre division, Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People's production of A Year With Frog and Toad eked out a surprising win over such heavy hitters as Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and Billy Elliot as outstanding production.

But those popular ballet- and bus-themed Broadway musicals did not leave empty-handed. Canadian actress Kate Hennig was named best actress for her ongoing performance as dance instructor Mrs. Wilkinson in Billy Elliot, while Britain's Peter Darling won a Dora for choreographing the very dances her character instructs.

Priscilla, a West End smash that passed through Toronto on its way to New York, also picked up two gongs. Australia's Tony Sheldon can now add a best-actor Dora to his résumé for his role as the transsexual Bernadette, while designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner added a Dora to their recently awarded Tony for their outrageous drag-queen costumes.

Rufus Wainwright won the Dora for best new musical or opera for Prima Donna, which was presented at the 2010 Luminato festival. The Canadian Opera Company's presentation of Orfeo ed Euridice, however, was named the outstanding opera production of the season and tenor Alan Oke was awarded outstanding performance for his role in the COC's production of Death in Venice.

In the indie theatre division, Sky Gilbert's The Situationists was named best new play - and popular comic Gavin Crawford picked up a gong for his lead performance in it as an uptight French professor.

Two other independent productions garnered a pair of awards each: The Company Theatre's revival of Franz Xavier Kroetz's Through the Leaves was named outstanding production and honoured for John Thompson's set design, while Cahoots Theatre Company's premiere of David Yee's play Paper Series won for Nina Lee Aquino's direction and her husband Richard Lee's sound design.

Quebec-based director Robert Lepage picked up his award for his play The Andersen Project, which was named outstanding touring production after its pit-stop at Canadian Stage last fall. This is the second year running that a production from Lepage's Ex Machina company has won in that category.

Two special awards were also given out at the Doras on Monday. Sound and projection designer Ben Chiasson was named the 2011 recipient of the Pauline McGibbon Award, which is for an artist in the early stages of his or her career, while VideoCabaret co-artistic director Michael Hollingsworth - best known for his cycle of plays The History of the Village of the Small Huts - was given the Silver Ticket Award, honouring his long career and his nurturing of Canadian theatre artists.

Ottawa Cancels Funding For Toronto Theatre Festival That Presented Terrorist Play

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

(Jun 27, 2011)
SummerWorks - a critically acclaimed Toronto theatre festival that raised the ire of the Prime Minister's Office last year after presenting a play about a homegrown terrorist - has lost its federal funding from Canadian Heritage.

With 39 days left to go before the 21st anniversary edition begins, artistic producer Michael Rubenfeld has e-mailed a plea to supporters of the festival urging them to help make up an estimated $45,000.

"[A]fter a tremendously productive five year partnership with Heritage Canada, the Festival has just received notice that this partnership is not going to be renewed for the 2011 season," Rubenfeld writes.

"This loss of 20 per cent of our budget just weeks before opening has created a significant shortfall and left us little time to fill it."

Reached by The Globe and Mail, Rubenfeld said SummerWorks will also be implementing other changes to make ends meet, as well: Ticket prices will be raised by 50 per cent, some outdoor programming will be cancelled and the marketing budget will be significantly cut.

For the past five years, Canadian Heritage has funded SummerWorks through its Canada Arts Presentation Fund (formerly Arts Presentation Canada) - money that was used to bring in Canadian productions from outside Toronto and also formed part of its core budget. Last year, the local Heritage arts consultant working with Rubenfeld had urged the growing festival to apply for multi-year funding to increase its stability.

On Wednesday, however, Rubenfeld received a phone call from Heritage regional executive director Marie Moliner breaking the news that the festival's application had not been approved.

"We recognize that funding is never guaranteed, but I would say it came as a surprise," Rubenfeld told The Globe and Mail.

Canadian Heritage's decision will certainly raise questions in the arts community as to the reasons behind the non-renewal of funding. Media coverage of Catherine Frid's Homegrown - one of 41 plays presented at the 2010 festival - led a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to say in August that "we are extremely disappointed that public money is being used to fund plays that glorify terrorism."

Harper later told reporters that he was "concerned" about the play. "I just think most Canadians would find anything that glorifies terrorism to be abhorrent," he said.

Festival organizers denied that the play - Frid's account of her year-and-a-half relationship with convicted terrorist Shareef Abdelhaleem, one of the so-called "Toronto 18" - glorified terrorism, however, and invited the Prime Minister to see the play for himself.

Rubenfeld says he does not know if the Homegrown controversy played a role in Canadian Heritage's decision. "There's really no way that I could say either way," he said. "I don't really know. I do know that we stand behind all the work that we present."

More to come...

Summer Theatre: Fun, Mandatory; Mosquitos, Optional

Source: 
www.thestar.com - By Richard Ouzounian

(Jun 29, 2011) One of the great things about Southern Ontario as a
vacation spot is that, no matter where you are, there’s a quality summer theatre nearby to give you something entertaining to do on the nights when you solved the mystery you’re reading on page 26, or you’ve seen every episode of CSI that’s on the tube.

ASTRO (
Association of Summer Theatres ’Round Ontario) is a great umbrella organization for most of these groups and they maintain a very complete website of what’s available at www.summertheatre.ca

But some people can’t resist a list, so here’s a roundup of the theatres in question, with a brief description of one show they’re presenting that sounds especially promising.

4th Line Theatre (Millbrook) —
www.4thlinetheatre.on.ca — (1-800-814-0055) Celebrating their 20th anniversary, they present outdoor Canadian shows with an epic flair. This year opens with Drew Hayden Taylor’s comic The Berlin Blues, the saga of what happens when German developers open “Ojibway World”. (SEE SIDEBAR)

Blyth Festival (Blyth) —
www.blythdestival.com — (1-877-862-5984) One of the region’s veterans, with 36 seasons of Canadian plays to boast of. Early August by Kate Lynch sounds like a winner: a comedy about the perils of producing theatre in Huron County.

Century Church Theatre (Hillsburgh) —
www.centurychurchtheatre.com — (519-855-4586) Alan Ayckbourn is one of the geniuses of modern theatre and his play, Confusions, consists of 5 separate incidents, funny yet touching, which all link together by the evenings end.

Classic Theatre (Perth) —
www.classictheatre.ca — (1-877-283-1283) Stop by for the second season of this theatre in the Ottawa Valley, where one of the shows is the forgotten charmer Bell, Book and Candle, John Van Druten’s whimsical look at witchcraft and romance.

Drayton Entertainment (Drayton, G

rand Bend, Penetanguishene and St. Jacob’s) —
www.draytonentertainment.com — 1-888-449-4463. They’ve got 6 theatres, no waiting! This ambitious undertaking from Alex Mustakas is producing 13 shows this summer. The one I’m looking forward to in particular is Blood Brothers and no wonder, with stars like Paul McQuillan and Charlotte Moore.

Driftwood Theatre (touring Ontario) —
www.driftwoodtheatre.com — (905-576-2396) — This hardy group takes a small-scale, but not small-minded, production of Shakespeare around the province each summer. I haven’t seen all their past work, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen and I’ll be there to catch this year’s Macbeth, given a dystopian setting.

Festival Players of Prince Edward County —
www.festivalplayers.ca — (1-866-584-1991) They produce an assortment of plays in an assortment of venues around the county and, in both cases, variety is the spice of life. The Book of Esther, by the empathetic Leanna Brodie, sounds like an intriguing study of a 15 year-old-girl struggling to grow up in a rural setting.

Globus Theatre (Bobcaygeon) —
www.globustheatre.com — (1-800-304-7897) The Big Voice (God or Merman?) isn’t your typical Ontario summer fare, but should provide a welcome dose of showbiz flash and big-city sophistication in its story of two boys who want to believe, but find that their divine inspiration is coming from musical theatre.

Highlands Summer Festival (Haliburton) —
www.highlandssummerfestival.on.ca — (705-457-9933) Who says you have to go to PEI to see Anne of Green Gables? This theatre is promising a smashing production of it and since the man directing it, Scott Denton, is a veteran of the Charlottetown Anne Machine, the odds for success are strong.

Humber River Shakespeare Company —
www.humberrivershakeapeare.ca (416-209-2026) — The Comedy of Errors, with its two sets of twins, is already a wacky affair. But this production, touring the Humber River, also offers: “strange visitors, burlesque dancers, fortune tellers, and magicians.” Toss in the kitchen sink and I’d say we had a deal.

LaughOutLoud At the Opera House (Orillia) —
www.orilliaoperahouse.ca -(1-888-ORILLIA) An eclectic program, but the one I’d make certain I saw is Cathy Elliot’s Moving Day, the musical story of one woman trying to make her place in the universe on the day man lands on the moon.

Lighthouse Festival Theatre (Port Dover) —
www.lighthousetheatre.com -(1-888-779-7703) Chills are just as much a part of summer theatre as laughter, which is why When the Reaper Calls, by the Canadian master of mayhem, Peter Colley, is a safe bet to give you a pleasantly uneasy evening.

Port Hope Festival Theatre (Port Hope) —
www.capitoltheatre.com — (1-800-434-5092) Sometimes you want to put your brain on hold and just get off on the music. That’s what Groovin’ Thru the ’60s promises: a collection of songs from the era when “Make Love, Not War” seemed like an excellent idea. Still does, come to think of it.

Port Stanley Festival Theatre (Port Stanley) —
www.psft.on.ca — (519-782-4353) World premieres are exciting things, especially in summer theatre, which is why Michael Wilmot’s 7-10 Split sounds appealing. The story of a wannabe pro bowler who falls under the spell of internet gambling seems like a worthy bet.

Rose Theatre Presents Summer Theatre (Brampton) — www.rosetheatre.ca -905-874-2800. One of the most attractive playhouses in Ontario offers an assortment of shows, including two blockbuster musicals: A Chorus Line and Cabaret. Shakespeare outdoors, as well.

Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake) —
www.shawfest.com — 1-800-511-SHAW) One of the province’s two biggest theatres, you can see 11 shows at 4 theatres. My favourite so far has been the charming Irish comedy, Drama at Inish, which the company perform to perfection.

Showboat Festival Theatre (Port Colborne) —
www.showboattheatre.ca — (1-888-870-8181) Norm Foster’s comedies provide a substantial portion of the Ontario summer theatres’ repertoire, so it’s nice to welcome Mending Fences, one of his works with a tear in its eye as well as a chuckle in its throat.

Starbright Summer Festival (Sarnia) —
www.starbright.ca — (1-877-344-7469) David Rogers and Susan Gilmour have two of the finest voices on our stages and when they’re announced as starring in a show called The Power and Passion of Broadway, you know that’s just what you’re going to get.

Stirling Festival Theatre (Stirling) —
www.stirlingfestivaltheatre.com — (1-877-312-1162) A lot of Ontario theatres are presenting a comedy called Sex Laundry this season, so this might be the place to check it out. Middle-aged couple purchase sex manual and hilarity, as they like to say, ensues.

St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival (Prescott) —
www.stlawrenceshakespeare.ca — (613-925-5788) A beautiful outdoor setting on the banks of the St. Lawrence and a pair of Shakespeare gems to perform: All’s Well That Ends Well and Twelfth Night. Play on!

Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada (Stratford) —
www.stratfordfestival.ca — (1-800-567-1600) 12 spectacular shows on 4 distinctive stages. This year’s winners so far include The Grapes of Wrath and Jesus Christ Superstar. I’m also looking forward to Twelfth Night and The Homecoming, both starring the great Brian Dennehy.

Theatre By The Bay (Barrie) —
www.theatrebythebay.com — (1- 866.735.9243) TV and film star Robert Joy, currently a regular on CSI: NY, returns home for his first Ontario theatre engagement in many, many years as he plays Prospero in The Tempest at Gryphon Theatre for this adventurous company.

Theatre Collingwood (Collingwood) —
www.theatrecollingwood.com — (1-866-382-2200) Dan Needles is best known the one-man Wingfield shows he’s written, but now he gives us Fair Play, a multi-character comedy about the hilarious tribulations of Petunia Valley.

Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque) — www.1000islandsplayhouse.com — 1-866-382-7020. One of the most gorgeous venues around also presents some of the most entertaining shows. They just offered the Canadian premiere of The Marvelous Wonderettes and the Norm Foster-Leslie Arden musical Ned Durango comes later in the season.

Upper Canada Playhouse (Morrisburg) —
www.uppercanadaplayhouse.com — (613-543-3713) Laughs, laughs and more laughs on the agenda, with the intriguingly titled The Sensuous Senator by Michael Parker promising a politician who scores higher in the bedroom than in the polls.

Victoria Playhouse (Petrolia) —
www.thevpp.ca — (1-800-717-7694) A nicely mixed season here, with the crowd-pleasing finale being provided by Leisa Way, a honey of an entertainer. Having dazzled crowds for years as Patsy Cline, she now turns to Dolly Parton in Rhinestone Cowgirl.

Westben Arts Festival Theatre (Campbellford) — www.westben.on.ca — 1-877-883-5777. Most of this company’s attractions are classical in nature, but of course my eye was caught by one called Broadway in the Barn — Send in the Sondheim! I guess Sweeney Todd uses a scythe instead of a razor.

Alicia Keys to Co-Produce Broadway Play

Source:  www.eurweb.com


(June 28, 2011) *
Alicia Keys is expanding her business portfolio to include Broadway.

The singer, whose hits include “Fallin’” and “A Woman’s Worth,” will help produce Lydia R. Diamond’s play “Stick Fly” this fall, reports the Associated Press.

The work is a contemporary comedy of manners revolving around an affluent black family whose insecurities gradually reveal themselves during a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.

“I’m passionate about this play because it is so beautifully written and portrays black America in a way that we don’t often get to see in entertainment,” Keys said in a statement. “I know it will touch all audiences who will find a piece of themselves somewhere inside this house.”

The piece has been performed in Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C. It’s set to begin performances at the Lyceum Theatre on 45th Street on Nov. 18 and officially opens Dec. 8.

The director will be Kenny Leon, whose Broadway production of “Fences” earned 10 Tony Award nominations. His other credits include “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Radio Golf.”

Diamond, a playwriting professor at Boston University, previously adapted Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” for the stage and has written “Stage Black” and “The Gift Horse.”

Temptations Musical in the Works for Broadway

Source: 
www.eurweb.com

(June 29, 2011) *Broadway is calling on the
Temptations. Otis Williams, the Motown group’s sole surviving founding member, says a stage musical is in the works based on the 1998 NBC miniseries, “The Temptations,” reports Billboard. Broadway producer Ira Pittleman is working with the group on the project. “It’s still so popular and loved,” Williams told Billboard.com. “I get calls all the time, like, ‘Man, the miniseries is on!’ and stuff like that. That’s the catalyst, and (Pittleman) is waiting to do the Tempts story. I never would have imagined the possibilities of the Tempts life story going to Broadway, but it’s wonderful.”

However, Williams says the group plans to wait until Motown founder
Berry Gordy, Jr., gets his own Broadway musical, which is reportedly slated to open in April 2012, on the boards.

“Then, after that, the Temptations will get into action. They haven’t even started writing the script, so it’s really early,” says Williams, who will serve as an executive producer.

Williams says he and the Temptations camp have no involvement in the Gordy Motown musical, however.

“That is all under Mr. Gordy’s control,” Williams said. “I definitely will be going to see it. I think we’re in it two or three different times, guys portraying the Temptations, and I’m very happy for Mr. Gordy because he’s had such an illustrious career that should be magnified as much as possible because he’s been a wonderful inspiration to the lot of us.”

While the Temptations’ musical will recall the group’s glory years, Williams and company hope to add to the story by the time it opens. After rolling out a new album, “Still Here,” in 2010, Williams said the group — which this year celebrations the 50th anniversary of its name change from the Elgins to the Temptations — is starting to eyeball its successor.

“Yeah, we will be doing another CD in (2012),” Williams said. “We’d like for there to be some new music by the time the Broadway musical opens. We’ll start putting that together a little later during this year, or the beginning of next year.”

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

The Robot Doctor Will See You Now

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Carly Weeks

(June 27, 2011) Some doctors are known for their less-than-superb
bedside manners. In their defence, they’re only human.

But it’s possible the human element will play less of a role in the future as
machines take more responsibility for diagnosing diseases, assigning treatments and ensuring hospitals run smoothly and efficiently.

Don’t expect computers to replace doctors. But as advancements in artificial intelligence continue to unfold, a growing number of computer experts, health professionals and businesses believe machines will have an increasingly important role to play. While that could result in more accurate diagnoses, fewer mistakes and cost savings, experts also warn that relying too heavily on machines could backfire. For instance, computers with inaccurate or incomplete information could give the wrong diagnosis, putting lives at risk.

Computer scientists who study artificial intelligence (AI) are developing machines that can provide answers to questions, identify key patterns in data and predict trends – to make machines that have human-like intelligence and abilities but can also operate more quickly and more efficiently, making fewer mistakes.

Medicine and health have emerged as areas that can benefit greatly. AI applications rely heavily on sifting through large amounts of data to identify patterns or come up with answers, which can make a difference in health care.

One important possibility is improved medical diagnoses. AI systems that are programmed to understand known diseases, symptoms and risk factors could quickly and easily make a diagnosis that a doctor could then verify in a physical exam. This means a patient could get access to vital medical treatments more quickly, which could be critical in certain situations. It could also save time and money.

“If you had somebody who had a really rare disease, then that might not be the first thing that the physician would think about,” said Cory Butz, a computer science professor at the University of Regina, who spoke about AI recently at the University of Cambridge. “But the ... machine could go through all the possibilities and raise the issue, [saying] ‘perhaps the person has this illness,’ much quicker than the human would think about it.”

The use of AI could also negate any bias that could affect a doctor's decisions. For instance, research has suggested some doctors have a bias against smokers, which could affect how that patient is diagnosed and treated.

The Mayo Clinic recently conducted an experiment to see whether AI systems could truly assist physicians. Researchers used “teachable software” that mimics the human brain to help diagnose potentially fatal cardiac infections in the hope of eliminating the need for an invasive exam.

The researchers introduced the system to countless real-world scenarios to help it evaluate symptoms correctly. After examining data from nearly 200 patients, the software correctly diagnosed the infection in nearly all cases.

The study was based on clinical data from previous patients, but if the software was introduced to hospitals, it could help patients and result in major savings. Similar systems could also help reduce medical errors, improve the accuracy of medical tests and help hospitals reduce inefficiencies.

Although it’s clear many bugs need to be worked out before AI applications play a major role in day-to-day medical decisions, many are optimistic about future possibilities.

Recently, the famous IBM computer Watson appeared at a conference of health and computer science experts in Toronto. The computer was made famous earlier this year when it beat human contestants on the game show Jeopardy! But company officials believe the computer’s future lies in making medical diagnoses. Earlier this year, it announced a partnership with Massachusetts-based Nuance Communications Inc., a speech and imaging solutions firm, in a bid to get a product on the market.

But Prof. Butz also warned that any AI-based health care applications would need strict limits. Although machines are highly efficient, they are only as good as the information that has been programmed into them. For instance, the names of diseases could be fed into the machine incorrectly, or the system might not have the functionality to compare a person’s symptoms against their risk factors for disease.

“I don’t think that you would ever have a robot doctor or a robot physician,” Prof. Butz said. “If you make a mistake diagnosing a patient, there could be drastic and even fatal consequences to that. The software system will always simply be aiding a human expert.”

U.S. Top Court Strikes Down Video Game Law Banning Sales To Minors

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Reuters

(June 27, 2011) WASHINGTON — The
U.S. Supreme Court struck down Monday a California law banning sales or rentals of violent video games to minors as a violation of free-speech rights, its first ruling in a video game case.

By a 7-2 vote, the justices upheld a ruling by a U.S. appeals court that declared the law, which also imposes strict video-game labelling requirements, unconstitutional.

The law was challenged by video game publishers, distributors and sellers, including the Entertainment Software Association. Its members include Disney Interactive Studios, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Corp and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

The law, adopted in 2005, has never taken effect because of the legal challenge. It defines a violent video game as one that depicts “killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being.” Retailers who sell or rent a violent video game to a minor could be fined as much as $1,000.

The nation’s video game industry has about $10.5 billion in annual sales. More than two-thirds of U.S. households include at least one person who plays video games.

Six other states have adopted similar laws, and all were struck down in court.

The Supreme Court rejected California’s argument that the Constitution’s free-speech guarantees under the First Amendment do not prevent a state from prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors under 18.

“Our cases hold that minors are entitled to a significant degree of First Amendment protection. Government has no free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which they may be exposed,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in summarizing the court’s majority opinion from the bench.

::OTHER NEWS::

This Weekend: Things to Do in Toronto: Events around Toronto July 1 to July 3

Source: 
www.thestar.com - By Erica Salyi-Pannozzo

(Jun 29, 2011) Happy birthday Canada!
July 1 is Friday, and that means a long weekend, with plenty of events and festivals to keep you occupied for three days straight. Canada Day celebrations are on all over the city, so check out what made the must-see list, or search all Canada Day events.

For the rest of the weekend, your
festival options include the Jazz Fest, Ribfest, CHIN Picnic, Food Truck Eats, Corso Italia Fest, On the Pulse and the big Pride Parade.

Also check out:

Summer Festivals
Concert Guide
Must-See Pride Events
Family Events
Summerlicious
Search All Events
Toronto City Guides


FRIDAY: July 1

Canada Day at the Harbourfront
For Canada's 144th birthday, the Harbourfront celebrates with free music, food, arts and family activities.


ALSO ON FRIDAY

The Tragically Hip
Ontario Place Fireworks
Canada Day at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Red, White & Vinyl
More Friday Events

Search Canada Day Events


SATURDAY: July 2

Food Truck Eats
This festival showcases the best food truck's in the area, with mobile fare from local restos and nearby cities like Niagara and Hamilton.


ALSO ON SATURDAY

Ribfest
CHIN International Picnic
9 to 5 the Musical
Soundgarden
More Saturday Events


SUNDAY: July 3

Corso Italia Festival
St. Clair West becomes an Italian piazza for the weekend as live music and food take over the street.

ALSO ON SUNDAY

Pride Parade
On the Pulse Fest
Toronto Jazz Festival
Dream in High Park The Winter's Tale
More Sunday Events

Canada’s Walk Of Fame: Ryan Reynolds, Burton Cummings Latest Inductees

Source:  www.thestar.com - By Raju Mudhar


(Jun 28, 2011) The latest inductees to
Canada’s Walk of Fame have reached for the stars in more ways than one.

They include Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first woman astronaut and a passenger on the space shuttle Discovery in 1992, and actor Ryan Reynolds, who has risen to Hollywood’s A-list with movies like X Men Origins, The Proposal and Green Lantern.

Also due to be immortalized on the sidewalks of the Entertainment District are Guess Who co-founder Burton Cummings, comedian Russell Peters, doubles tennis star Daniel Nestor, Grey’s Anatomy actress Sandra Oh and late author Mordecai Richler, who will be honoured with the Canadian Legends Award.

All the inductees are to be feted on Oct. 1 at the Elgin Theatre. The ceremony will be broadcast later in October on Global and Slice.

On hand at Tuesday’s inductee announcement was federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who was there to symbolically hand over $500,000 for Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival, which runs Sept. 29 to Oct. 2.

The gift came on the heels of news that Toronto theatre festival Summerworks has lost its $45,000 federal grant.

Last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper objected publicly to the festival’s presentation of Catherine Frid’s Homegrown, a more or less sympathetic dramatic representation of one of the “Toronto 18” terrorist gang members. It received poor to lukewarm reviews.

Without having seen the production, Harper said in August that he was “extremely disappointed that public money is being used to fund plays that glorify terrorism.”

Flaherty downplayed the idea that content played a role in the decision not to fund Summerworks, warning that no cultural organization should expect annual funding.

“We get thousands of applications every year and the one thing I’d say, and maybe this is different from the way it used to be, but we actually don’t believe in festivals and cultural institutions assuming that year after year after year they’ll receive funding,” Flaherty said. “They ought not to assume entitlement, including this organization. . . . There’s lots of competition and lots of other festivals, and there are new ideas too that come along, so it’s a good idea for everybody to stay on their toes and not make that assumption.”

The Walk of Fame fest, however, “fit the bill” for support this year as an event that honours Canadians and attracts tourism, Flaherty said.

Peter Soumalias, the founding director of Canada’s Walk of Fame, said the money “will go a long way to growing our festival and celebrating Canadian culture. We will also be able to expand the spotlight on emerging Canadian talent.”

This year, Burton opens the festival Sept. 29 at Massey Hall. Chantal Kreviazuk performs at Massey Hall on Sept. 30 with symphony musicians and Comedy Night in Canada closes it on Oct. 2. Hosted by Jon Dore, the evening includes Mike MacDonald, Jessica Holmes, Carla Collins, The Doo Wops, Mark DeBonis and other Canadian comedians.

More programming will be announced later, including what the Walk of Fame calls “emerging artists.”

Two of those, Stephan Moccio and Alysha Brillinger, performed at Tuesday’s announcement.

Tickets for the festival went on sale Monday. See www.masseyhall.com/CWOF for information or call 416-872-4255.

Established in 1998, Canada's Walk of Fame recognizes achievements in music, sport, film, TV, literature, visual and performing arts, science and innovation. So far, 131 notables have been honoured.

With files from The Canadian Press

::TRAVEL NEWS::

Hit The Beach In South Carolina

Source: www.thestar.com - Kathryn Folliott

(June 22, 2011) Talk about a great gig: “beachologist” Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman has spent the past several years researching and ranking America’s best beaches, earning him the nickname “Dr. Beach”. One of his top 10 picks can be found at South Carolina’s Kiawah Island Golf Resort, now offering specially priced villa packages for summer travel starting July 7. A golf package includes a two-night stay in a two-bedroom villa and a round on The Ocean Course, site of the 2012 PGA Championship. Rates start at $276 (all prices U.S.) per person, per night, a savings of 28 per cent, through Aug. 8. Kiawah also offers a Family Beach Getaway deal that comes with a 26 per cent discount for two nights in a two-bedroom villa, and an upgrade at time of booking, for a lead-in rate of $447 per night for a family of four. And a Summer Romance package offers savings of 30 per cent, with lead-in rates from $390 per night for two nights in a one-bedroom villa, also with upgrade, and included extras like bike rentals and a kayak excursion. See www.kiawahresort.com.

TRANS-ATLANTIC TO THE MED

Trans-Atlantic cruises aren’t exclusively for ship buffs, but these sailings do attract travellers who find the “at sea” journey just as enjoyable, if not more so, than any ports of call. Sunquest’s trans-Atlantic cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale, departing on the MSC Poesia on March 17, 2012, includes a six-night Caribbean cruise, a five-night Atlantic crossing, a five-night Mediterranean cruise and four nights post-cruise to see Genoa, Siena, Florence and Rome. As a 21-night trip, prices start at $2,899 including airfare, or there’s also a 24-night option that adds three nights at a four-star hotel in Rome, for an extra $449 per person. Sunquest is throwing in a stateroom upgrade deal for bookings made by July 31, representing savings of up to $500 per couple. For booking information see www.sunquest.ca.

FOURTH NIGHT FREE

The Setai in Miami has a fourth night free deal with a minimum three-night booking, for travel through Oct. 31. Views from the 85 guest rooms and 45 suites take in either the Atlantic Ocean or the South Beach district, and weekly culinary events include a Sunday jazz brunch. See www.setai.com.

BEST BUY OF THE WEEK

Single travellers choosing the last Sunday of the month departure for Goway’s World in One Country tour of South Africa can save up to $700. And with the Magic of Africa program, one of Goway’s Holidays of a Lifetime trips, the savings can total up to $2,799 for solo travellers willing to share a room. See www.goway.com.

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

PICKS OF THE WEEK

Sunquest: Riviera Nayarit, air & hotel, $749 (July 15). www.sunquest.ca

Air Canada Vacations: Four-night Madrid, air & hotel, $699 (Aug. 26). www.aircanadavacations.com

Nolitours: Santa Lucia, air & hotel, $299 (Sept. 1). www.nolitours.com

Signature Vacations: Los Cabos, air & hotel, $965 (Sept. 16). www.signaturevacations.com

Transat Holidays: Munich, air & hotel, $689 (July 5). www.transatholidays.com

Bel Air Travel: Australia cruise, $1,039 (Feb. 12). www.belairtravel.com

Sunwing Vacations: Porto, air only, $149 (July 4). www.sunwing.ca

Sell Off Vacations: Puerto Vallarta, air & hotel, $388 (July 14). www.selloffvacations.com

itravel2000: Camaguey, air & hotel, $317 (July 21). www.itravel2000.com

Sears Travel: Vancouver, air & hotel, $1,209 (July 22). www.searstravel.ca

WestJet Vacations: Turks & Caicos, air & hotel, $989 (Aug. 1). www.westjetvacations.com

Tour East Holidays: 12-night China, air, hotel, meals, sightseeing $4,799 for 2 (Oct. 2011 - March 2012). www.toureast.com

Getting Lucky In Hong Kong

Source: www.thestar.com - Carol Perehudoff

(June 24, 2011) HONG KONG—There are many ways to get lucky in Asia’s most glamorous city. Flying from Toronto in Cathay Pacific’s swanky business class, I meet an elegant Chinese woman who tells me jade brings fortune.

Later, as I check into the InterContinental Hong Kong at the edge of Victoria Harbour, Louis, the chief concierge, tells me of another way to court prosperity — Feng Shui — the art of positioning objects to improve the flow of Qi, or positive energy.

“Our hotel has excellent Feng Shui,” he says. “It’s designed to attract the Nine Dragons of Kowloon.”

According to legend, he explains, there are nine dragons that live in the mountains around Kowloon, and they like to come down to the harbour for a bath and a drink. Since dragons can magically pass through glass, the lobby’s floor-to-ceiling windows provide an auspicious pathway. “They fly in, deposit prosperity at the island-shaped reception desk and then pass through to the harbour,” Louis says.

Between good Feng Shui and a few jade souvenirs I should be a millionaire by the time I leave. But I know nothing about jade. “How will I know what to buy?” I ask.

“No problem,” Louis says. “I’ll sign you up for a jade appreciation course.”

He sends me off to Amigo Jewelry, a third-floor shop on nearby Mody Rd. It’s nondescript outside, but inside it looks like an emperor’s secret stash. Shelves are lined with elaborate carvings in shades of jade I didn’t know existed: lavender, yellow and white. Display cases glitter with pendants and earrings. Plus, there’s a huge jade pig on the floor.

“The most valuable jade is bright green. We call it ‘imperial jade,’” says Cecilia, the shop’s jade expert as I twirl around in a brilliant green necklace surrounded by diamonds. “Look for vivid colour and translucency.”

I can’t afford anything so glamorous, but my idea is to look at the good stuff here then head to the touristy Jade Market in Yau Ma Tei to scoop up some deals. Accessed through an elaborate red gate, the market is a warehouse-style space housing more than four hundred stalls. Bewildered by the sheer volume of bangles, Buddha statues and key chains, I buy three milky green bracelets then whip back to the hotel for my upcoming city tour.

Rosanna, my guide, is an efficient woman whose Chinese name translates to Queen Bee. After travelling to Victoria Peak for a hazy view of the city, we visit Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Rd. The Taoist temple is dedicated to the God of literature and the God of martial arts.

The interior is red and smoky, with bell-shaped coils of incense hanging down from the ceiling. I try my hand at Chinese fortune sticks, a ritual that entails making a wish and shaking a container holding 99 numbered sticks. I’m supposed to shake it until a stick falls out. Instead, two land on the floor.

“You’re not concentrating,” says Rosanna. “You can try again but you have to make a different wish.”

Finally a stick falls out, No. 49. I race over to an oversized tome to look up my fortune.

“Very unfavourable prospect,” it reads.

The finer points include: obstacles blocking fortune, settled lawsuits, a delayed marriage. At least the last line offers some hope: Complacency will bring better fortune. Lumped all together, however, it doesn’t sound good.

“You’re not supposed to read it like that,” Rosanna says. “You need to see how it relates to your wish.

Back at the hotel, I decide to court complacency at the I-Spa. In a private suite, I get my Qi aligned and flowing with a Tui Na acupressure massage and then relax in an infinity pool overlooking the harbour. Below, the scarlet sail of the Aqua Luna, one of the city’s last remaining junk boats, billows in the breeze, a bright splash of colour against Hong Kong’s futuristic skyline.

Maybe it’s the good Feng Shui, but I’m infused with a sense of calm, sure that my fortune has improved. My thoughts turn to jade and I wonder if I should have gone for something of a higher quality. No doubt I’d be really complacent then.

The next morning after a complimentary Tai Chi class on the hotel’s terrace, I head back to Amigo. Once again, I drool over things beyond my budget: an imperial jade ring, a carved chunky necklace. I leave with a souvenir, a delicate butterfly with the palest green wings.

“The butterfly means happiness,” Cecelia says.

I am happy. I’m beaming. That’s something prosperity can’t buy.

Carol Perehudoff’s trip was subsidized by Cathay Pacific and InterContinental Hong Kong. Visit her blog at www.wanderingcarol.com

Just the facts

SHOPPING: There are two kinds of jade — jadeite and nephrite. According to Cecelia, jadeite is harder, rarer and more expensive. The best kind comes from Burma. Green jade is always popular and while imperial jade is the most valuable, trendy shoppers opt for lighter shades like lavender and white.

Simple designs such as flat circular pendants are “in,” although a big Buddha pendant is always a great conversation piece.

Buyer beware: Jade can be dyed to look better, and quartz and even glass can be sold in its place. If you’re dropping serious cash, stick to a reputable dealer.

Lavish: The jade at Amigo Jewelry is machine tested for quality, and the staff is knowledgeable. 39 Mody Rd., third floor.

Budget: Go crazy — but unless you’re an expert, stick to fun souvenirs at the Jade Market. Located at Kansu and Battery Sts.

STAYING: Lavish: With two celebrity chef restaurants, Nobu InterContinental Hong Kong and the Michelin-starred SPOON by Alain Ducasse, as well as the Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant, Yan Toh Heen, you might want to indulge with a Stay and Dine package at InterContinental Hong Kong. Daily rates start about $390 for a plaza-view room ($450 for harbour view room) and include a $75 (U.S.) food and beverage credit. 18 Salisbury Rd., Kowloon Tel: (852) 2721 1211 www.hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com

Budget: The great location overlooking Victoria Harbour makes the YMCA of Hong Kong one of the cheapest deals in town. 41 Salisbury Rd., Kowloon. (852) 2268 7888. Rates vary, but doubles start at about $125. www.ymcahk.org.hk

SPA: Lavish: Get a taste of Oriental luxury with an acupressure massage at the InterContinental Hong Kong’s I-Spa. The pool terrace, infinity spa pools and private spa suites make it an oasis of calm.

Budget: A foot massage at TAI PAN Reflexology Beauty & Foot Spa is an affordable pleasure. Basement of Golden Crown Court, 66-70 Nathan Road. Tsim Sha Tsui.

SIGHTSEEING: Lavish: The Aqua Luna is a hip and atmospheric way to cruise the harbour; 45-minute evening sailings are about $24. www.aqualuna.com.hk

Budget: The Star Ferry is a steal, from about 32 cents to cross the harbour.

ARRIVING: Lavish: The flat beds, complimentary champagne and attentive staff in Cathay Pacific’s Business Class ensure you’ll arrive in Hong Kong well rested. There are two flights daily from Toronto to Hong Kong and they can cost from $4,204. (Airfares exclusive of taxes and surcharges.)

Budget: Economy class will get you there just as fast, plus you get complimentary eyeshades. Flights starts at $1,009. www.cathaypacific.com

WEB SURFING: For more info, visit DiscoverHongKong.com

::SPORTS NEWS::

Yani Tseng Runs Away with LPGA Championship

Source: www.thestar.com - John Wawrow, Associated Press

(Jun 26, 2011) PITTSFORD, N.Y.-
Yani Tseng left no doubt she's the best female player in the world, running away with the LPGA Championship by 10 strokes Sunday and becoming, at 22, the youngest to win four LPGA majors.

The top-ranked Tseng closed with a 6-under 66 to finish 19-under 269 at Locust Hill Country Club, matching the LPGA record low score at a major in winning $375,000 (U.S.) at the $2.5 million event. Her dominating performance came a year after Cristie Kerr shot the same score to win the tournament by a whopping 12 strokes.

Dottie Pepper (1999 Kraft Nabisco) and Karen Stupples (2004 Women's British Open) also finished at 19 under.

Tseng bettered Se Ri Pak, who was 24 when she won her fourth major. For the star from Taiwan, it was her eighth career LPGA Tour victory, her second in a row and her third of the season. She has three other victories this year: she swept the Australian Open and Masters and won in Taiwan.

Morgan Pressel (71) finished second. Kerr (69), Suzann Pettersen (67) and Paula Creamer (69) tied for third at 8 under.

"Yani's doing what I did last year. Obviously, it's hard to beat," said Kerr, who rallied late with a birdie on hole 16 and an eagle on 17. "I'm not surprised. Yani's a great player. She's in the prime of her career. She's found her stride at a young age."

Wearing a smile for much of the day, Tseng raised her arms and tipped her hat as she was greeted by the gallery upon arriving at the 18th green.

In winning her second LPGA Championship, she moved into a tie for 15th among women with four majors, joining a group of six others, including Laura Davies and Meg Mallon.

By comparison, Annika Sorenstam was 24 when she won the first of her 10 majors: the 1995 U.S. Women's Open. Patty Berg was 23 when she won her fourth major in 1941, but before the LPGA was formed in 1950. Tseng is also ahead of Tiger Woods, who didn't win his first major until he was 24.

Tseng's performance drew comparisons to Rory McIlroy, given that the up-and-coming Northern Irish star is also 22 and won last week's U.S. Open by eight strokes.

Tseng went wire to wire as the tournament leader after opening with rounds of 66, 70 and 67. In holding one-shot leads after each of the first two rounds, Tseng began running away from the field on Saturday in building a five-shot edge.

It's a lead she doubled by the time she made the turn Sunday.

The only hiccup for Tseng came during a what-else-can-go-wrong opening hole. She pulled her tee shot into the left rough, appearing to be bothered by the click of a shutter of a photographer standing behind her. Then Tseng had to wait five minutes to stew over her ball as Pressel sought a ruling from an official to move her ball because a sprinkler was affecting her stance just off the first green.

Tseng landed her second shot just outside the ropes in the gallery and, with the rattling noise of a freight train nearby, she settled for a bogey 5.

With that out of the way, Tseng proceeded to burn up the course, starting at No. 2, where she landed her approach shot to within two feet of the pin. That she began a run of birdies on five of her next seven holes. Tseng added three more birdies on the back nine, while bogeying 13.

She had a chance to get to 20 under, but missed a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

Charlottetown's Lorie Kane shot a 74 to finish well back at 4 over.

Tseng finished with 27 birdies, six bogeys and a double bogey. She hit 38-of-56 fairways and 57-of-72 greens in regulation.

No one else was close. Tseng's playing partner, Cindy LaCrosse, unravelled. She was 5 over on Sunday to tumble into 14th.

Pettersen had the best round among those at the top of the leaderboard, getting to 9 under for the tournament before a bogey on No. 18.

Tseng's first LPGA Championship came during her rookie-of-the-year season in 2008, when the event was played at Bulle Rock in Maryland. She's won three of the past six majors after taking the Kraft Nabisco and Women's British Open last year.

Missing only a U.S. Open title victory, Tseng will have an opportunity to complete her career slam in two weeks at Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sarah Kemp shot even-par 72 in a round that featured her acing the 161-yard No. 5. It was the 14th hole in one in the Rochester tournament's 35-year history, and first since Soo-Yun Kang did it on No. 7 in 2008.

Stupples had the day's low round of 65, which vaulted her into a tie for 34th at 1-over 289 for the tournament.

Tiger’s Best Years Still Ahead Of Him, He Says

Source: 
www.thestar.com - Larry Fine

(Jun 28, 2011) NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA.—Injured
Tiger Woods said Tuesday his best golfing years are ahead of him and he has plenty of time to attain his goal of surpassing the record 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus.

While Woods, who has struggled on and off the course for the last 19 months, missed this year’s U.S. Open with injuries and is unsure whether he will play in July’s British Open, the 35-year-old American does not feel like the majors record is moving beyond his grasp.

“Absolutely not. He won when he was 46, right?” Woods said about the Golden Bear, who won his final major at that age in 1986. “I’ve still got some time.

“And on top of that, we’re about the same pace, I believe, years on tour and majors won. So I feel pretty confident of what my future holds and very excited about it.”

Nicklaus won 14 majors through his 35th birthday, the same number that Woods has.

Woods, who aggravated a ligament injury in his left knee and Achilles tendon he suffered at the Masters by trying to compete in the Players Championship in May, said he learned a lesson and would not return until he was 100 per cent fit.

“I’m excited about coming out here and being ready to go instead of trying to kind of patch it, which I’ve been for a while,” Woods told a news conference at the AT&T National PGA event he is hosting this week.

Woods, who has since fallen to world No. 17, noted that Tom Watson showed how long a great player could compete in the majors with his runner-up finish at age 59 in the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, which he lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

“I’m 35. I’m not 65,” said Woods. “I’ve still got some years ahead of me. Golf is unlike any other sport. I mean, Watson was, what, 59 years old when he almost won? We can play for a very long time. And given that we have the health to do it, guys have succeeded for a very long time.

“That’s what I would like to do, play this game for as long as I want to. I feel like my best years are still ahead of me.”

Tsonga’s ‘Special Performance’ Eliminates Federer

Source: 
www.thestar.com - Damien Cox

(Jun 29, 2011) LONDON—This was not Roger Federer’s loss. This was
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s greatest victory.

The Frenchman spotted the six-time Wimbledon champion from Switzerland a two-set lead then came storming back to steamroll Federer over the final three sets en route to a spectacular five-set triumph Wednesday at Wimbledon.

After losing the first set in just 27 minutes, Tsonga dropped the second in a tiebreaker and then was a runaway train in the final three sets to win 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in a noisy, packed Centre Court.

Tsonga, ranked 19th in the world, danced and spun himself across the court afterwards to the delight of the crowd.

“I played unbelievable,” said an elated Tsonga. “Everything was in. That’s crazy.”

Federer, 178-0 in Grand Slam matches with a two sets to none lead beforehand, was simply outhit and outserved by a bigger, younger man, reminiscent of his loss, also in the quarterfinals, to hard-hitting Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic a year ago.

The Swiss master now has not won a Grand Slam event since January, 2010, when he won the Australian Open.

“He played great. I was close. I had my chances and he came up with some answers,” said Federer. “It’s hard going out of the tournament that way. At least it took a special performance to beat me, which is nice.”

Tsonga, hampered by injuries throughout his career, has never won a Grand Slam event and will now face Novak Djokovic of Serbia the semi-finals on Friday. Djokovic beat 18-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia Wednesday in four sets to advance. If Djokovic can get past Tsonga, he’ll become the No. 1 player in tennis.

“I’m trying not to think about that too much,” he smiled.

The other semi-final will feature Andy Murray, trying to end Britain’s 75-year drought in men’s singles, against Rafael Nadal of Spain, the Wimbledon winner in 2008 and 2010.

Nadal has won his last 19 straight matches on grass at the All England Club, while Murray will be playing in his third straight Wimbledon final, which will undoubtedly draw huge dinnertime TV interest on Friday.

Inglorious Charges To Queen's Plate Victory

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Beverley Smith

(Jun. 26, 2011) There is always room for a fast filly in the $1-million
Queen's Plate. It is the Queen's Plate, after all.

Inglorious struck one for the sisterhood on Sunday by bolting away from one of the toughest fields in years with big, ground-eating strides and becoming the 34th filly to win the Queen's Plate in its 152-year history. She won by 2 ½ lengths and took home $600,000.

She's the sixth filly to win the Plate since 1956, when the race moved to Woodbine.

Her win was spectacular. Her time for the 1 ¼ miles was 2 minutes 2.76 seconds, the fastest time since the track was switched to a synthetic footing in 2006.

Trainer Josie Carroll added to the feminine mystique by guiding Inglorious to the win. Carroll won her first Plate with a colt, Edenwold, six years ago. "It feels overwhelming," she said.

She watched Inglorious start her move around the turn. "I know that's just her first gear," she said.

Owner Vern Dubinsky, in the business for 12 years, watched the race with Edenwold's old shoe in his pocket. Breeder Gail Wood, who keeps all of Dubinsky's mares in Ontario, brought the shoe with her Sunday, handed it to Dubinksy, of Edmonton, and wished him luck. Wood bred and raised Edenwold.

Dubinsky admitted he was nervous, pacing constantly before the race.

"If you're not nervous going into something like this, you don't need to be in the game," he said. "It's so much fun and so much tradition. With a filly, you wonder, did you do the right thing?"

Inglorious was the only filly in the bulky 17-horse field and went off as the second choice at 9 to 2 behind the big, handsome Check Your Soul, favoured to win trainer Roger Attfield's record ninth Plate. It was not to be. Check Your Soul finished seventh, 6 ¼ lengths behind the winner.

"I really couldn't have asked for a better trip," said Patrick Husbands, who rode the favourite. "It was perfect in every way. But four furlongs out, he spit the bit on me. I tried to see if he had anything left, but he was done at the 3/8ths pole."

Woodbine's leading rider, Luis Contreras, had five possible choices of mounts for the Queen's Plate, but without hesitation he went for Inglorious. "He never wavered," said his agent, Tony Esposito.

Contreras maintained that after riding her in two stakes races, she had shown her mettle for only a quarter of a mile each time. He said he'd never seen how good she is. He got more of a hint on Sunday.

Born in Mexico, Contreras says Canada is now his home. And he had already fixed his sights this year on becoming leading rider, as well as to win the Queen's Plate. "This means a lot," he said in his improving English. "This is my third year here and the last two years, I've watched the big race in the [jockeys'] room. And here I am."

Inglorious is Contreras's first mount in the Plate. Still, it wasn't as easy as it looked. "My stomach before the race, I had butterflies," he said. "After the race, I screamed like I had never screamed before."

He was already patting Inglorious on the neck before she passed the wire. Contreras's previous biggest win was with Inglorious in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks three weeks ago.

Chantal Sutherland, second leading rider at Woodbine last season and winner of the most stakes races, lost the mount on Inglorious when she chose to remain riding in California. Instead, Sutherland returned home this weekend to Pender Harbour, a 15-to-1 shot who finished third in the Queen's Plate with a final rush.

In second place was 61-to-1 shot Hippolytus, ridden by Tyler Pizarro, who rode with a stinging wrist. In the previous race, Pizarro was dumped from his mount, who had been startled by a Scottish pipe band. Pizarro lay beneath the outside rail for several minutes, favouring his right wrist. Pizarro climbed aboard the horse again - and won.

He was leading the Plate into the stretch and looked like a winner, until Inglorious rushed past. "I'm over the moon," Pizarro said. "I'm very thrilled that we fought the good fight today."

Carroll said they would just enjoy the moment and then decide if they'd go for the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes on July 17 at Fort Erie, Ont. The final event is the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes turf race Aug. 7 at Woodbine.

Punters who came to watch the top hats and stakes races on Sunday wagered a record $8,768,145 at Woodbine. The Queen's Plate alone generated a record $2,973,265 in wagers.

Williams Sisters, Top-Seed Wozniacki Ousted At Wimbledon

Source: www.thestar.com - Damien Cox

(Jun 27, 2011) LONDON-It was a heckuva try.

Serena Williams is hard to root for at the best of times, but her attempt to return to the lawns of Wimbledon after a trying year of serious injuries and illness that she said nearly killed her fell short Monday in the fourth round at the hands of France's Marion Bartoli.

In addition to Williams' ouster, world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark was stunned by Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia a short time later in three sets, leaving Wozniacki still without a Grand Slam title to her name in 18 attempts. The best she has done is make the final of the U.S. Open.

And, in a third upset, Venus Williams was eliminated by Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria by a 6-2, 6-3 score in only 75 minutes. It's the first year when both Williams sisters have participated in Wimbledon and both been beaten before the quarterfinals.

Serena Williams, since beating Vera Zvonareva at the All England Club last year to successfully defend her 2010 title, hadn't played at all after suffering a badly cut foot on broken glass at a German restaurant. She had related problems associated with the bizarre incident, and only returned to the courts this month to play at a grass warmup event in Eastbourne where she won one match and lost one.

Bartoli, however, is one of the hotter players on the WTA tour, and she persevered in a slugfest 6-3, 7-6 (6). Williams fought off a series of match points before Bartoli finally finished the match with a wide serve to Williams' backhand that she could not return.

It's the earliest defeat for Williams at Wimbledon since 2005. Bartoli was a Wimbledon finalist in 2007.

Asked about the suggestion that if she'd be able to win this year after missing most of the season it would have made the rest of the women's tour look weak, and thus whether her defeat was good news for WTA, Williams said: "Yeah, I'm super happy that I lost. . . .and go women's tennis."

Last week, Williams talked about how she'd been on her "death bed" in March after suffering pulmonary embolisms in both lungs, which required two surgeries.

"I definitely think I was ready," she said. "I would have been sad to watch at home on TV, like I will be soon."

Wozniacki, who won the first set 6-1 over Cibulkova but then lost the next two 7-6, 7-5, has been followed by questions about her worthiness as a world No. 1 given her inability to win any of the world's big tournaments so far in her career.

UFC: Cheick Kongo KO's Pat Barry

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Canadian Press

(Jun. 26, 2011) Pittsburgh - French heavyweight
Cheick Kongo snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by knocking out Pat (HD) Barry in the first round Sunday night in the makeshift main event of a televised UFC card.

Kongo (26-6-2) was knocked down twice and looked out on his feet but somehow survived to stage the comeback. Barry (6-3) seemed fully in control but when he rushed in to finish the fight, he walked straight into a right to the head and vicious uppercut that knocked him senseless.

"It was perfect," said Kongo.

The card at the Consol Energy Center - in the UFC's first visit to
Pittsburgh - was fraught with controversy and injury dropouts with the Barry-Kongo fight bumped to the main event at the last minute.

The original marquee bout pitted Nate (The Great) Marquardt in his welterweight debut against Anthony (Rumble) Johnson. Rick (The Horror) Story stepped in when Johnson was injured in training and then Marquardt was dropped - and cut by the UFC - after failing to pass his medical the day before the fight.

No explanation was given, with the UFC citing Pennsylvania privacy laws.

"Nate is going to have to man up & come out and tell the world why he didn't pass his medicals," the UFC tweeted UFC president Dana White as saying.

Marquardt's management group tweeted that their fighter would speak Tuesday.

Barry prepared for the fight at Brock Lesnar's Team Death Clutch camp and had Lesnar coach Marty Morgan in his corner. Kongo had former light-heavyweight champion Quinton (Rampage) Jackson in his corner.

The six-foot-four Kongo had five inches in height and 7.5 in reach on Barry. And the two, who went nose to nose at the weigh-in, did not touch gloves before the fight.

The two men exchanged kicks before Barry felled Kongo with a right to the head some two minutes into the round. Referee Dan Miragliotta seemed about to step in but pulled back.

Kongo grabbed a leg then got up, only to be put down with another right. He got up and unsteadily backed away to the fence. Barry rushed after him and got caught.

The fight ended at two minutes 39 seconds of the first round.

When Marquardt was dropped, Story was pitted against Pennsylvania native Charlie (The Spaniard) Brenneman. The local boy pulled off the upset, using his wrestling to end Story's win streak at six with a unanimous 29-28 decision.

According to Compustrike, the two men spent more than 11 of the 15 minutes on the ground.

Brenneman (14-2) hurt Story with a couple of blows and then took him down in the first round via a trip and kept him there for a while until the round ended.

It was more of the same in the second, with an early Brenneman single-leg takedown. Story (13-4) tried for a choke but Brenneman fought him off and took him down again later in the round.

With both fighters exhausted in the third, Story tried unsuccessfully for several submissions. He mounted Brenneman late in the fight but Brenneman escaped.

Brenneman was due to face T.J. Grant of Cole Harbour, N.S., but the Canadian pulled out last week with an undisclosed illness.

Story was coming off a quick turnaround, having earned a decision over Thiago Alves on May 28 at UFC 130,

Former NFL lineman Matt Mitrione looked impressive in knocking out six-foot-six Christian Morecraft at 4:28 of the second round. A sluggish Morecraft was outclassed from the get-go and had no answers for Mitrione's crisp striking.

There was no love lost here. The two heavyweights met in the middle of the cage before the introductions to exchange pleasantries.

Morecraft (7-2) had ridiculed Mitrione's punching power but found himself on his butt on the first round thanks to a straight left. Morecraft went down again with a minute left but survived the round.

Morecraft took Mitrione down in the second but couldn't take advantage and the referee stood the fighters up quickly. Mitrione (5-0) finished Morecraft off with a right-left-right combination that sent his mouthpiece flying. Morecraft toppled and Mitrione walked away rather than administer more punishment.

Matt (The Immortal) Brown won a unanimous 29-28 decision over John (Doomsday) Howard in a back-and-forth welterweight fight.

The smaller Howard scored with more than 10 kicks in the first round and took Brown down to the ground as well. But it was Brown who had success on the ground in the second.

Howard went back to his leg kicks in the third and Brown responded with a takedown before the two engaged in a lengthy clinch at the fence.

Both men needed a win coming into the fight. Brown (14-10) had lost three straight while Howard (14-7) had dropped two in a row.