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March 31, 2011

Went to the 40th Anniversary of the Junos this year, thanks to a friend at work.  It was truly Canadian - which unfortunately means that the general public had not heard of a lot of the artists or bands.  It broke my heart that so many young people hadn't heard of Neil Young before - they were there to see Drake, for the most part.  Good marketing tool but alas, Drake was shut out.  He was a great host for sure ... funny, sincere and not a hint of corny.  His skits were truly funny (look under TOP STORIES for one targeting Old Money!  And nice touch that he invited the seniors out and they were present in the mosh pit, which was the driest I've seen for sure). 

At the same time since Arcade Fire won a Grammy ... Junos tend to follow suit. Not undeserving but would have been nice to see Drake win SOMETHING!  Peeps read my newsletter regularly and you would have seen something on almost all the artists that no one had heard about before ... hint hint!  Stay up to date on Canadian artists right HERE! 

For instance, my cousin's son,
JP of the band, Fond Of Tigers, won the Juno for Best Instrumental Album! Congrats JP and we finally have a Juno in the family! See more info under TOP STORIES!

Japan is having such a horrible and tragic time in history right now so I'm putting in the article again that gives you ways to donate for different relief efforts.  Say a prayer at 12 noon today (March 31) for a worldwide collective prayer for Japan!

For those of you going to
tonight's hot concert featuring the group Naturally 7, there has been a slight time change!  The doors now open at 7:00 pm with the show at 8:00 pm.  Check it out under HOT EVENTS!  It's a sold out show!

 Now, take a scroll and a read of your weekly entertainment news.

 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! 


VIDEO:: Drake's Juno Shutout Unprecedented For Host Of Show

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
The Canadian Press

(March 28, 2011) TORONTO — Musicians who host the Juno Awards typically take some hardware home from the show, so there were a few raised eyebrows when rapper Drake came up empty Sunday night.

Hmmmm...... Drizzy wit no Junos in Toronto?” tweeted Drake's Juno-nominated producer Boi-1da, a native of Ajax, Ont.


Indeed, the shutout for the 24-year-old Toronto rapper – who had a leading six nominations – was especially surprising considering how past hosts have fared.

At the 2007 show in Saskatoon, Victoria songstress Nelly Furtado hosted and – fresh off the
success of her rump-shaking club smash Loose – was feted with five awards, including album of the year and artist of the year.

Country crossover superstar Shania Twain was similarly successful back in 2003, the same year her succession of hockey-themed dresses sent tongues wagging.

Twain won three awards that night, including artist of the year.

Celine Dion was similarly dominant when the beloved Montreal chanteuse hosted back in 1993, claiming four awards including single of the year and female vocalist of the year.

The only recent examples of Juno hosts who went home empty-handed – the Barenaked Ladies in 2002 or Alanis Morissette in ’04, for instance – occurred because those artists hadn't released material during the eligibility period.

But Drake won two Junos last year – and that was prior to the release of his smash debut LP, Thank Me Later, so he seemed destined to claim at least one award out of his six nominations.

A representative for Drake declined to comment.

Though Drake didn't nab any awards, the show's youngest-ever host did receive plenty of glowing reviews for the way he capably steered the telecast.

A day later, Twitter was buzzing over two of Drake's skits – one in which he
quizzed senior citizens on their hip-hop knowledge, and another that involved the rapper sparring with teen-pop star Justin Bieber over Skype – and he received positive notices in the press, too.


Gossip blogger Elaine Lui – who also works for Junos broadcaster CTV – wrote that Drake was “everything that (Oscars host) James Franco wasn't,” Macleans called him “charming” and deemed the Junos “more entertaining than either the Grammys or the Oscars,” while Billboard reported that Drake “proved a solid emcee, with equal amounts of respect, well-timed jokes and pre-planned bits.”

Even Bieber – a two-time winner this year – showed his support for Drake on Twitter: “to my big bro (Drake) i share these awards with you because you deserve them too. #greatfriend and a #greatartist.”

You've Come A Long Way, Baby Boyz

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Paula Citron

(March 25, 2011) Rather than a straightforward review, consider this an encouragement award.

It would be very easy to dismiss
Three Boyz, Three Countries, One Dream (a.k.a. King Ah De Dancehall) out of hand - the show certainly needs a lot of fixing. But there is also much to praise.

First for some background. Baby Boyz Dance Group, based in Brampton, Ont., is one of the Toronto area's most successful urban dance companies. The eight-member, all-male troupe was founded in 2003 under the direction of choreographer Trevor Brown, and their usual performing venues are clubs and corporate events, with pit stops at churches, community centres and private gigs.

Several years ago, I saw Baby Boyz at Dusk Dances in a park in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood. I said in a review at the time that this company was different because the young men tried to tell a serious story, about being black and coping with life on the margins.

Three Boyz, Three Countries, One Dream is another ambitious attempt at dance theatre.

For this show, Baby Boyz have put their b-boy crew - known for the detailed precision of a military drill team - at the centre of a drama that looks at three young men, all called Stripes (Tabby Donaldson), who share the dream of being King of the Dancehall.

The story begins in Ghana, then moves to Jamaica and finally to Canada. In Ghana, a hunter sees a ritual dance. He learns the steps and takes them back to his village, and so inspires Stripes to dance. In Jamaica, where reggae and dancehall reign supreme, Stripes wants to be the best dancer on the island. In Canada, Stripes is a famous dancer who has lost his way, and finds it again through dance.

The eight Baby Boyz and Trevor Brown form the core of the cast, which also includes guest male and female dancers, children, actors, singers and the poet Afua Cooper. In other words, this is armies marching. More than 20 people fill the stage.

Not only that, the Boyz are stretching themselves. First, they are acting, speaking lines from a script written by Joseph Jomo Pierre and directed by Dian Marie Bridge. They are also performing contemporary choreography by Kevin A. Ormsby, which is entirely different from their usual urban dance. Kay-Ann Ward is also credited as a choreographer.

The show is being presented under the auspices of Dance Immersion, Toronto's important presenter of black dance under program director Vivine Scarlett.

But, okay, here's the bad stuff: There is an amateur quality to the show, which includes long (read: embarrassing) pauses between scenes. Some of the acting is weak, and the African and West Indian accents can be impenetrable. There is a sense of the Boyz being defeated by their own ambition.

That said, I doubt there is another show in the country featuring urban dance with such sweeping storytelling. It's a new Canadian hybrid, and that's worth encouraging. There are certainly urban dance companies, particularly in Vancouver and Montreal, that perform narrative shows, but not with this breadth and depth, and mix of other disciplines.

Needless to say, the dance numbers in Three Boyz are wonderful, even electrifying by the end. That's to be expected. I want Baby Boyz to keep on experimenting, but when they put together another dance theatre piece, I hope to see polish and sophistication. Three Boyz, Three Countries, One Dream is only the beginning.

Three Boyz, Three Countries, One Dream (a.k.a. King Ah De Dancehall) continues until Saturday.

Three Boyz, Three Countries, One Dream

Baby Boyz Dance Group (and friends)
Dance Immersion At Enwave Theatre
Toronto on Thursday

Remembering: Black-Rights Activist Dudley Laws

Source:  www.nationalpost.com - Peter Kuitenbrouwer

(March 24, 2011)
Dudley Laws, the black activist known for his curly silver locks and his acid tongue, died Wednesday after a long battle with kidney disease. He was 76.

Mr. Laws gained prominence when he called police to account for a number of shootings of young black men in Toronto in the 1980s. Not one to mince words, he once called Toronto Police the most murderous in North America.

Born in Jamaica, Mr. Laws immigrated to England at age 20 and attended Kensington College, where he trained as a welder and boiler-maker. His community activism began in London’s Brixton neighbourhood before he moved to Toronto in 1965, where he joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Later he co-founded the Black Action Defense Committee with lawyer Charles Roach and Denham Jolly, who went on later to found a Toronto black radio station, Flow 93.5 FM.

Mr. Laws took a prominent role in a downtown march in May, 1992, following the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers in the beating of Rodney King, and the shooting by Toronto police of a black drug suspect. Mr. Laws led a demonstration that began peacefully in front of the U.S. consulate on University Avenue, but then turned into a riot when about 1,000 black and white youth went on a rampage, smashing store windows and looting businesses. Police blamed him for the mayhem, but he refused to apologize.

“You can never control a people who have been brutalized,” he said.

In 1991 police arrested Mr. Laws and charged him with conspiring to smuggle illegal immigrants in and out of Canada. He was convicted and fined, but the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a new trial after learning that the trial judge had met privately with prosecutors. The Crown later stayed the charges.

Then in 1995 he was charged with raping a young girl; he was acquitted. He later called both court cases a campaign to silence him. If there were one, the campaign failed; in the 1990s he continued to raise his voice in defence of the black community.

Councillor Michael Thompson, vice-chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, said the police have become more sensitive to the communities they serve, thanks in part to Mr. Laws’ efforts.

“People didn’t always agree with his methods,” Mr. Thompson said. “Still, I think history can judge him as an agent of positive change between police and the black community. He exemplified a real desire that all people be treated fairly and with respect.”

In 2000, Mr. Laws told the National Post that, “The worst thing to do in life is to live in fear. I have no fear at all. If one becomes afraid, you can’t do your work. You’ll be looking over your shoulders and be afraid to say what you want to say.”

Vancouver and B.C.-Based Artists Shine

Source: Vancouver Sun, By Francois Marchand

(March 28, 2011) You may not have seen them during the televised broadcast of the Juno Awards on Sunday night, but several of Vancouver's and British Columbia's finest musicians managed to scoop up a trophy during Juno weekend in Toronto.

. Hip-hop artist Shad, who is now based in Vancouver, surprised everyone by topping Juno host Drake and his album Thank Me Later in the rap recording of the year with his superb effort TSOL.

. Vancouver Indie rockers Said the Whale were named new group of the year during the non-televised portion of the gala at Toronto's Royal York Hotel on Saturday night.

. In a category that used to be a staple of the Juno broadcast, rock album of the year, Matthew Good and his album Vancouver were named the best of the bunch.

. Vancouver's Elaine (Lil' Bit) Shepherd D'Maestro won in the reggae recording of the year category for her album Likkle But Mi Tallawah.

. "Post-everything" outfit
Fond of Tigers, which features some of Vancouver's best jazz and experimental musicians, won instrumental album of the year with its stellar offering Continent & Western.

. Journeyman Vancouver blues veteran Jim Byrnes scooped up his third blues album of the year trophy, this time for his latest record Everywhere West.

. Salmon Arm soul-pop artist Greg Sczebel won in the contemporary Christian/gospel album of the year category for his album Love & the Lack Thereof, repeating in a category he won back in 2005.

. Finally, Abbotsford-based pop-rockers Hedley, who performed during the televised broadcast on Sunday night, were awarded the video of the year trophy for their song Perfect with music video director Kyle Davison on Saturday night.

How To Donate To Relief Efforts In Japan

www.thestar.com - Star staff

(March 15, 2011) Organizations helping
earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan have made it easy for Canadians to donate.

Canadian wireless customers with most major carriers can text ASIA to 30333, to donate $5 to the Canadian Red Cross Japan Earthquake/Asia-Pacific Tsunami fund and there is no charge for the text.

According to the Canadian Red Cross, a total of $3 million has already been donated by Canadians since the catastrophic 8.9 magnitude earthquake Friday.

Those wanting to help can donate online at
redcross.ca or call 1-800-418-1111

James Astleford, donor-relations director for
ADRA Canada, a humanitarian agency established by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said his organization has representatives in Japan working with stranded residents.

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee has set up a
Japan donation website as well and says it is working with partners on the ground to determine what role its volunteers can play.

Donations to CRWRC can also be made by calling 1-800-730-3490

Médicins Sans Frontières says two teams of three people are trying to reach the worst-hit areas in Japan’s Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

“The MSF teams, composed of medical and logistics personnel, will try to reach the area by helicopter,” said spokeswoman Naomi Sutorius-Lavoie in an email Friday. “Once there, the two teams will liaise with local emergency-response authorities to assess medical needs. Another 25 MSF medical and logistical staff in Japan are on standby to respond once the situation has been assessed.”

UNICEF says it has already positioned supplies and personnel in countries throughout the Pacific region.

Plan International Canada had an emergency-response team on standby in Indonesia, where it has a warehouse stocked with 5,000 family kits available for immediate distribution.

World Vision Canada has also set up a webpage to solicit donations to provide disaster relief for victims of the earthquake.

UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, a group that supports IsraAid, an Israel-based humanitarian organization sending teams of rescue personnel, emergency medical officers and water pollution purification specialists to Japan, is also accepting donations here.

CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Quebec and Save the Children Canada have formed a group called The Humanitarian Coalition and began accepting donations Saturday.

Salvation Army announced it was allocating $75,000 to the earthquake relief effort in Japan and is accepting donations online here.

Canadians can also donate online through
International Development and Relief Foundation or by calling 1-866-497-IDRF (1-866-497-4373)

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada says “the best way for Canadians to help is to donate money — not clothing or food.”


GALLERY: Indie Rockers Rule Junos, While Host Drake Is Shut Out

Source: www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner
(This article has been edited from a previous version.)

(March 27, 2011) The Juno Awards did a fine job of covering the bases this year in all respects but one: they neglected to give their host, homecoming Toronto hip-hop hero Drake, a single trophy of his own.

Instead, the job of “owning it” at the 40th-anniversary Juno ceremony broadcast live on CTV from the Air Canada Centre on Sunday night fell to Montreal indie-rock ensemble the Arcade Fire, who wound up with four trophies in their possession as Juno Week festivities in Toronto drew to a close.

The band, fresh off an upset Album of the Year win at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last month, collected an Album of the Year Juno, too, for last year’s much-celebrated international hit The Suburbs. Bragging rights for Artist of the Year and Group of the Year were also the Arcade Fire’s, while three tunes from The Suburbs – “Ready To Start,” “We Used to Wait” and “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” – were enough to secure the group Songwriter of the Year honours, as well. Not a bad haul on the night, considering The Suburbs had already taken Alternative Album of the Year at the pre-broadcast Juno gala dinner at the Allstream Centre on Saturday night. Oh, and they delivered a walloping performance of “Rococo” on the broadcast to top it all off.[ARCHIVES 2011/photogallery/photo00015708/real.htm]

Drake, on the other hand, didn’t wind up with anything to show for his six nominations. His Thank Me Later even lost to Shad’s TSOL in the Rap Album of the Year category on Saturday night, surprising many.

He did a decent job of hosting the show, though, and showed a reasonably deft hand at comedy during pretaped interludes that variously had him plotting a Call of Duty videogame night with CTV anchor Lloyd Robertson and rollin’ with his “Old Money” posse of blinged-out and possibly armed senior citizens.

The other multiple winners as the weekend wound down were polar opposites, generationally speaking, but – taken in tandem with the Arcade Fire’s successes – definitely indicative of the more inclusive nature of the present-day Juno Awards.

Can-rock icon Neil Young, on hand at Sunday’s ceremony to accept the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, added an Artist of the Year title to the Adult Alternative Album of the Year he scooped up for Le Noise on Saturday evening.

His heartfelt acceptance speech – “Just look inside yourself and look inside the eyes of your friends and you’ll find the secret of being a humanitarian” – for the Allan Waters award was utterly, wonderfully Neil-like and one of the night’s highlights. He also ensured his place in Juno video reels for an eternity to come by hoisting his Artist of the Year trophy and offering the doting crowd an “Oh, Canada” later in the night.

It was a lot of Neil Young all at once, considering the Winnipeg-raised, Toronto-born legend isn’t typically that generous with his public appearances. For a notoriously shy guy, though, he was remarkably funny and chatty backstage.

“It’s very unusual for me to be this exposed,” he conceded to the press room. “Maybe if I’d been this exposed a long time ago people would know what I’m like. I’m just trying to be myself and avoid the teleprompter as much as possible.”

Stratford-raised teen-pop sensation Justin Bieber, meanwhile, scooped up a pair of statuettes of his own during the Juno broadcast. His My World 2.0 was named Pop Album of the Year, while he rather predictably overtook Drake, Hedley, Michael Buble and Sarah McLachlan in the race for the viewer-voted Juno Fan Choice Award.

Bieber was in Europe for the affair, albeit present via videotape Skyping with his friend Drake in an oddly homoerotic opening sequence and saying his pre-recorded “thank yous” from afar at the appropriate moments. The young pop-culture phenomenon’s absence didn’t seriously diminish the Juno show’s superstar wattage, however, with the likes of Drake, Young, the Arcade Fire, McLachlan and Bryan Adams – in town to induct another pop titan, Shania Twain, into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame – in the building. In terms of “star power,” it might as well have been the Grammys, a fine testament to how much the Canadian music industry has matured since the Junos began in Toronto as the Gold Leaf Awards 40 years ago.

Timmins-born Twain, reappearing after a long media silence, was particularly effusive in her praise for her home nation, joking onstage that “I feel like I should be wearing the Canadian flag.”

She was similarly gracious backstage. “There’s no day like today,” she said, keeping humble in the face of her Hall of Fame honours and brushing off. “Honestly, what can I say? This is a really big moment and it feels very genuine in every way …

“I don’t feel iconic. I don’t feel that way at all. I feel like a small-town girl from Timmins. That’s never going to change. I’m 45 years old … That’s who I am.”

UMAC Presents Urban Music Showcases During JunoFest

Source: www.broadcastermagazine.com

(March 17, 2011) UMAC, The Urban Music Association of Canada, The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences & The JUNO Award Urban Music Committees, have come together to fete the best and brightest from urban music in Canada during the 2011 JunoFest activities. As the JUNO Awards celebrate their 40th Anniversary in Toronto, UrbFresh will also honour urban music's contribution to the Canadian & global music culture over that same period.

 "The Association couldn't be happier! UMAC looks forward to growing UrbFresh's stature, visibility & star power for years to come at JunoFest!", stated UMAC President Will Strickland.

Featuring stellar performances from 2011 Rap, Reggae and R&B Soul nominees
Karl Wolf, Eternia & MoSS, Silver, Tony Anthony, D-Sisive, Elaine Lil' Bit Shepherd and more, UrbFresh will be hosted by the Cornerstones of Canadian Rap, Wes "Maestro" Williams and Michie Mee and is poised to be one of the most dynamic presentations during JunoFest.

The 2011 UrbFresh Urban Music Showcases happen on both Friday, March 25th and Saturday, March 26th at Toronto's Hard Rock Café.  

Down With Webster: The Fans' Band

Source: www.thestar.com - Brendan Kennedy

(March 25, 2011) It’s hard to imagine a better homecoming.

Local pop-fusionist party boys
Down With Webster wrapped up their headlining North American tour two weeks ago with a sold-out show at the legendary Massey Hall.

The dynamic, 7-member group was joined by a five-piece horn section, 10-piece string ensemble and nearly 3,000 screaming fans — mostly teenage girls.

“It’s great to be home!” crowed Martin “Bucky” Seja, one of the group’s two MCs, before launching into the title track from their 2009 major-label debut, Time To Win Vol. I.

“It was surreal,” said Cam Hunter, Seja’s rhyme-spitting counterpart, in an interview with The Star a few days after the show. “It was a far cry from working our asses off to get 300 people into The Rivoli.”

The boys from The Beach — vocalist-guitarist Pat Gillett, bassist-vocalist Tyler Armes, drummer Andrew “Marty” Martino, DJ Dave “Diggy” Ferris and “hype-man” Kyle “KapFairlie, plus Seja and Hunter — have another chance to expand their growing fan base Sunday, when they perform at the Air Canada Centre as part of the nationally televised Juno Awards.

The band is also nominated for Best Group and Pop Album of the Year. But they’re up against some stiff competition: Grammy-winning Arcade Fire in the first category and the superhuman force of nature known as Justin Bieber in the second.

The boys figure they don’t have a chance.

(They were nominated three times last year, losing Best New Group to The Arkells and two other awards to Justin Bieber and Hedley.)

“None of my favourite artists ever win awards anyway,” reasoned Hunter, who despite taking sips of Red Bull between questions, dialled down his manic stage presence for the interview.

Besides, he and bassist-vocalist Tyler Armes agreed that the performance is the real honour.

“If they told me you could not play and win both your awards, or you could not win the awards and play, I’d play every time,” Hunter said.

DWW’s ascent along the Canadian music industry food chain may seem a rapid rise for the Jackass-generation rap-rockers, who toiled in Toronto’s club scene before they became MuchMusic darlings.

But like most overnight success stories, theirs is more complicated.

“If you’ve only known about us through the media or through MuchMusic, it seems fast, because it seems like one day we weren’t there and one day we were there. But to us it was a thing where we were getting small breaks over many, many years.”

As the story goes, Down With Webster was formed by Armes and vocalist-guitarist Pat Gillett for a Grade 8 talent show at Glen Ames Senior Public School in 1998. The band stayed together through high school at Malvern Collegiate Institute and were already recording songs in Armes’ garage before graduation.

Their old high-school music teacher, Steve Irwin, recalls teaching Armes and Gillett.

“They were kind of our on-call band for the class. If I needed 10 minutes of music or a fill here, they would always step up and support.”

Irwin, now retired, said he immediately recognized the boys’ musical talent and would let them skip class to write songs and rehearse. “I thought it was time well spent for them.” And what were they like outside of class? “I’m not going to comment on that.”

By the time they left high school, they were pursuing the band full time, helped by manager and former Canadian Idol judge Zack Werner.

Without any label or publicity support, they started selling out big rooms in the city.

By the time they were named the Rogers Mobile/Universal Music Best Unsigned Artist in Canada in 2008 and labels started sniffing around (most famously those run by Gene Simmons and hip-hop super-producer Timbaland), they already had established a fan base, growing bigger and more rabid all the time.

Part of the strong connection the band continues to enjoy with its fans can be attributed to their social media presence. All the group’s members regularly tweet and post to the band’s Facebook page (which now has more than 350,000 members), responding to fans’ questions and updating them on shows and new songs.

Almost to a person, fans mention their idols’ accessibility as a major reason they feel so attached.

“You can post something on their wall on Facebook and they actually reply,” said Erika Caldwell, 12, from Scarborough. “It’s kind of cool to know that they’re talking to you.”

“When you feel like you know the band more, you want to keep on going to see them,” said Jules Stricker, 13, who has been a diehard fan ever since she saw DWW last year in Barrie.

“They’ve gotten pretty big over the last couple of years,” said Ivana Konkevic, 19. “And they still make an effort to reach out to their fans and talk to them at every show.”

For its part, the band doesn’t take any of it for granted.

“(Our success) is all viral and it all came from the fans,” says Hunter. “I still think they have control over our career — and everyone else’s.”

It’s a new spin on an old-fashioned ethos: tour relentlessly and count on your popularity to grow by word of mouth. Except in the Web 2.0 world, word of mouth means tweets and status updates.

On that front, DWW have killed, to the tune of selling out the city’s most prestigious venue on the strength of a single EP, and scoring three platinum-selling (80,000 units sold) singles.

Because of their success — and perhaps their mostly teenage audience — Down With Webster are an easy target for critics: there is a frat-boy, almost misogynist stupidity to their videos; their lyrics are goofy; and a lot of the macho posturing feels contrived.

Hunter — who cites Rage Against the Machine, Cypress Hill and Wu-Tang Clan as major influences — says if he was a critic, he might slam the band, too.

All he asks is that you give them a chance by checking out the live show, which has garnered a reputation as being among the most energetic in the country.

“I don’t want to be a gimmick band. I don’t want to be a band that relies on its looks. I don’t want to be a boy band that is just popular because girls think you’re good-looking and the music is secondary. I don’t want to be shallow and meaningless.”

It’s their call; the band

not only writes and performs all of their songs; they also produce everything themselves. Hunter and Armes say they want to be known for the music and nothing else.

Time To Win, Vol. II — which was planned to be another EP, but will now be a full-length — will be released in the next three to four months, according to Hunter, who said it will be an important moment for the band “to establish that this is not just a flash-in-the-pan, this isn’t a boy band . . . I think this is where we prove and show people what we are and what we’re capable of.”

Shad Nips Drake For Rap Juno

Source: www.thestar.com - Ben Rayner

(March 27, 2011) Well, one day into the weekend’s Juno Awards festivities and we have at least one major upset to consign to the history books.

Eccentric Vancouver-via-London, Ont.-via-Kenya rapper
Shad gave everyone a pleasant surprise on Saturday night by stealing the Rap Recording of the Year trophy for his acclaimed third album, TSOL, from this year’s expected Juno golden boy Drake and his international smash hit debut, Thank Me Later.

It hardly counts as a shutout against Drake, of course. The Toronto MC is up for five more statuettes tonight with the Juno Awards broadcast on CTV from the Air Canada Centre and he’s hosting the damn ceremony on top of it, so expect a little bit of luck to come his way.

Way to go Shadrach Kabango, though. TSOL — which also mustered itself a Polaris Music Prize shortlist position last year — came out last year on teensy indie hip-hop label Black Box and has relied on word of mouth and its own, inarguable quality to reach a still-growing underground audience on both sides of the border, without a shred of the hype or the all-points, big-budget rollout that helped push Thank Me Later to the top of the charts. Shad’s win is one of those little triumphs that keeps serious music going at functions like the Junos.

Other than that, there were few major surprises and no discernible themes or frontrunners emerging after the first 32 trophies had been handed out at the pre-broadcast Juno gala, held at the windswept Allstream Centre down on the Exhibition grounds on Saturday evening.

Neil Young showed up, making up for a no-show at the Junos in Winnipeg six years ago when he was sidelined by a brain aneurysm. Good thing, too, because the notoriously awards-shy rocker – who’ll be getting a humanitarian award on the broadcast tonight – found himself the recipient of an Adult Alternative Album of the Year Juno for his album Le Noise. And the indirect recipient of another, since the record’s producer, Daniel Lanois, nabbed the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year trophy in part for his work on the Le Noise track “Hitchhiker.”

“I’m not really an awards kind of guy, but it’s great to get one,” Young remarked afterwards in the press room. “It’s a great honour. I appreciate it. And the older I get, the more appreciative I get.”

As to being relegated to the fuzzy “adult alternative” category, he dryly observed that it was the logical place to put him.

“I’m an adult. There’s no alternative. That’s me,” he quipped. “I don’t really know anything about that, all the handles and everything. Those are other people’s things.”

Other notable winners on the night included the first of the weekend’s Junos for five-time nominees the Arcade Fire, who took Alternative Album of the Year for The Suburbs. Caribou’s Swim became the first-ever album to win in the brand-new Electronic Album of the Year category. Polaris Music Prize winners Karkwa took Francophone Album of the Year honours for Les Chemins de Verre.

On the “mild surprise” front, Matthew Good emerged from oblivion to claim a Rock Album of the Year trophy for Vancouver.

The full list of Saturday’s winners:

Rap Recording: Shad, TSOL

Rock Album: Matthew Good, Vancouver

Alternative Album: Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

New Group: Said the Whale

Country Album: Johnny Reid, A Place Called Love

Adult Alternative Album: Neil Young, Le Noise

International Album: Katy Perry, Teenage Dream

Vocal Jazz Album: Kellylee Evans, Nina

Contemporary Jazz Album: Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra, Treelines

Traditional Jazz Album: John MacLeod’s Rex Hotel Orchestra, Our First Set

Instrumental Album: Fond of Tigers, Continent & Western

Francophone Album: Karkwa, Les Chemins de verre

Children’s Album: Peter Lenton, Proud Like a Mountain

Classical Album, Solo and Chamber Ensemble: Gryphon Trio, Beethoven: Piano Trios Op. 70 No. 1, Ghost and No. 2: Op 11

Classical Album, Large Ensemble or Soloist with Large Ensemble Accompaniment: Lara St. John, Mozart: Scott and Lara St. John/The Knights

Classical Album, Vocal or Choral Performance: Gerald Finley, Great Operatic Arias

Classical Composition: Murray Schafer, “Duo for Violin and Piano”

Dance Recording: Deadmau5, “Sofi Needs a Ladder”

R&B/Soul Recording: Quanteisha, “Stars”

Reggae Recording: Elaine Lil’Bit Shepherd, “Likkle But Mi Tallawah

Aboriginal Album: CerAmony, CerAmony

Roots and Traditional Album, Solo: Old Man Luedecke, My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs

Roots and Traditional Album, Group: Le Vent du Nord, La part du feu

Blues Album: Jim Byrnes, Everywhere West

Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album: Greg Sczebel, Love & the Lack Thereof

World Music Album: Élage Diouf, Aksil

Producer: Daniel Lanois for “Hitchhiker” by Neil Young and “I Believe in You” by Black Dub

Recording Engineer: Kevin Churko for “Let It Die” and “Life Won’t Wait” by Ozzy Osbourne

Recording Package: Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin, Robyn Kotek and Joe McKay (art directors/designers) and Jimmy Collins and Elisabeth Chicoine (photographers) for Broken Social Scene’s Forgiveness Rock Record

Video of the Year: “Perfect,” by Hedley (director: Kyle Davison)

Music DVD of the Year: Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage

Electronic Album: Caribou, Swim

Hip Hop Summit A Showcase For Can-Hop Talent

Source: www.globeandmail.com – Joshua Ostroff

Hip Hop Summit
At Glenn Gould Studio In Toronto on Tuesday

(March 30, 2011) In hip hop, timing is everything – it’s how beats and
rhymes become rap – and the timing of CBC’s Hip Hop Summit was telling. Two days earlier, the Canadian music industry celebrated the 40th annual Juno Awards but somehow forgot hip hop.

2011 seems a long way from 1998, when the Vancouver-based Rascalz famously declined their award. “They gave back their Juno because they wanted to have the hip-hop award televised,” said Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall in the CBC lobby in Toronto, moments before the Hip Hop Summit got under way on Tuesday. “I remember the next year they televised it, and after that it reverted to how things always were.”

Northern Touch, the Rascalz’s Juno-winning pan-Canadian
collaboration with Offishall, Choclair and others, won in 1999 and their broadcast performance became a landmark moment for Canadian hip hop. But this year, not even multi-nominated host Drake performed, and though K’Naan picked up best single, it was for the Tears Are Not Enough-esque charity version of Wavin’ Flag rather than the original, which lost to Michael Bublé last year.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Offishall. “It only made sense that if you have one of the biggest rappers in the world hosting your event, there would be more hip hop representation. But it is what it is. You have to work within the system that you have and do things to showcase hip hop in other ways, find other avenues to expose the talent that you have here. And this is an amazing example of that.”

Though Drake was notably absent, the Hip Hop Summit did include almost every other relevant rapper of the past quarter century, from Radio 2 host Buck 65 to Can-hop pioneers Maestro Fresh Wes and Michie Mee to acclaimed rappers Cadence Weapon, (non-televised 2011 Juno-winner) Shad, k-os and Offishall.

The evening kicked off, appropriately, with Classified’s Oh…Canada which updated our “north of America” national anthem to include references to marijuana. He was joined by Maestro for Hard to be Hip-Hop, before the country’s very first rap star big-upped Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings and performed his Guess Who-sampling hit, Stick to Your Vision.

That mix of old- and new-school stars continued throughout the night. Ghetto Concept reunited for their first original line-up performance in 16 years, then brought out 15-year-old Reema Major who, in turn, introduced Canada’s first cross-border rapper Michie Mee. In a red Adidas track suit, with dreads up in pigtails, she busted moves while dropping classics like her dancehall-inflected Jamaican Funk, which influenced the next (and most electrifying) performer, Offishall, who juiced the crowd with his hometown-repping singles BaKardi Slang and The Anthem.

Next up came Cadence Weapon and Shad, who each performed a couple solo joints before debuting their thrilling collaboration Baby, I’m Yours. K’Naan, in town for the Junos, made a surprise appearance to perform his soft-spoken Take a Minute, note that the “entire black population of Toronto is backstage – it's like Haiti,’ and introduce Dream Warriors on their iconoclastic jazz-rap classic My Definition Of A Boombastic Jazz Style.

K-os took the stage with his full band before bringing Saukrates back out for I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman, which saw the pair crooning the event-appropriate lines, “Oh Toronto, here we come/Right back where we started from.”

The summit followed suit, with Maestro returning in full Symphony in Effect regalia – black tuxedo, conductor baton and Africa medallion – to perform Can-hop’s biggest-ever hit Let Your Backbone Slide with k-os and Shad before a gleeful freestyle session with each emcee spitting off-the-cuff rhymes about themselves, each other and the summit, concluding with Kardinal’s: “CBC, I hope you got my cheque/peace out till next year/one love, respect.”

Then, in one final attempt to outdo all that had come before – and perhaps as a reminder to the Junos about our rap scene’s resilience of spirit and depth of skill – the MCs joined together on the Rascalz’s anthemic Northern Touch, wrapping up what had become a new and more powerful landmark moment for Canadian hip hop.

The CBC Hip Hop Summit will screen at CBC's Barbara Frum Atrium in Toronto on Friday and will be part of CBC Radio 2's Canada Live broadcast, which starts at 7 p.m. ET.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Beyonce No Longer Managed By her Father

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 29, 2011) *The business relationship between Beyonce and her father Mathew Knowles has come to an end.

A publicist for the singer said Monday that the Grammy winner will no longer be managed by her father, Mathew Knowles, who has overseen his daughter’s career since she debuted as a teen in Destiny’s Child.

“He is my father for life. I am grateful for everything he has taught me,” Beyonce said in the statement. “I grew up watching both he and my mother manage and own their own businesses. They were hardworking entrepreneurs and I will continue to follow in their footsteps.”

Beyonce’s publicist Yvette Noel-Schure didn’t say what led to the split, but her father said in a separate statement to the AP late Monday that the decision was mutual.

“Business is business and family is family. I love my daughter and am very proud of who she is and all that she has achieved. I look forward to her continued great success,” Knowles said.

Knowles oversaw all aspects of Beyonce’s professional life, from music to movies to fashion and more. Her career includes 16 Grammy awards, top-grossing movies “Dreamgirls” and “Obsessed,” fashion ventures and lucrative endorsements.

His plans moving forward include focusing on his label’s work in gospel and inspirational music, where he said the company has made a “tremendous investment.”

Under Knowles, Beyonce, 29, released three multiplatinum albums — “Dangerously In Love,” “B’Day” and “I Am … Sasha Fierce” — and had 12 Top 10 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, including five No. 1s. Destiny’s Child had 11 Top 10 hits on the Hot 100 chart and six No. 1s.

During Beyonce’s teen years in Houston, Knowles prepped her, her friend Kelly Rowland and two others for R&B girl group Destiny’s Child, which released its self-titled debut in 1998. Their sophomore album, “The Writing’s On the Wall,” came a year later and garnered multiple hits and two Grammys, but the success also shook up the band and Destiny’s Child became a trio with Beyonce, Rowland and Michelle Williams.

The three also released solo albums, all managed by Knowles. He launched his own label, World Music Entertainment, via Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music.

Rowland parted with Knowles as her manager in 2009 and Williams followed a year later.

Knowles and Beyonce’s mother, Tina, divorced in 2009 after 29 years of marriage. Tina Knowles worked as a stylist for Destiny’s Child and continues to style her daughter. Together they launched a clothing line, House of Dereon.

Noel-Schure didn’t comment on who Beyonce’s new manager would be.

Sick Of Bouncers Who Play God? Here’s Your Revenge

Source: www.thestar.com - Jenni Dunning

(March 28, 2011) An Australian advertising company is giving bouncers a taste of their own medicine with a new commercial that features a man blocking a burly bouncer’s entry to a public restroom, calling it the “VIP entrance.”

The ad is for a chocolate bar called Chokito, a classic chocolate, caramel and crisped rice candy bar from the 1970s that was relaunched in Australia in 2010.

The ad company, JWT, used real bouncers with no script to “ensure their responses were genuine,” although they were hired to be in the commercials, Jason Ross, head of copy at JWT Sydney, told the Star.

“Aimed at 20- to 25-year-old guys, the ads were all about saying ‘No’ to things that get in the way of having a good time. That’s because Chokito is all about the good stuff.”

At the beginning of the ad, an actor sets up the prank: “At Chokito, we have a slight problem with bouncers who play God, so we’re going to see how they feel when the shoe’s on the other foot,” he says into the camera.

The noticeably less muscular actor then proceeds to block the entrances of a public restroom, gym, and parking garage from several men twice his size.

He stops and asks them to take a couple steps back, even getting one to show his ID. He then makes up reasons why they can’t enter: dress code, members-only, a “girth” restriction.

“I don’t make the rules, man,” he says to one of the bouncers when he protests.

As others who are not in on the joke enter the locations, the actor calls out to them as if they are regulars: “See you, Derek,” and “Janet, how are you doing, darling?”

Mimicking a bouncer denying entrance to a drunk person, the actor asks one of them, “Been to a couple gyms before today? I think you’ve had enough gym for today.”

The Chokito ad campaign, which features nine commercials, began online, with the ads appearing on YouTube, Collegehumor.com and Funnyordie.com.

It has been “very successful” in Australia and online, said John Lam, JWT Sydney’s art director.

Sales of the chocolate bar tripled in the first three months after the campaign launched and outsold Snickers, she said.

One of the bouncers in the latest ad also appears in a separate one for Chokito, in which he stops an actor from getting inside.

Audio: Jennifer Lopez Teases New Single Feat. Lil Wayne

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 30, 2011) *With “On the Floor” still active on the charts and on radio,
Jennifer Lopez has decided to unveil the second single from her forthcoming album “Love?” The “American Idol” judge previewed “I’m Into You,” featuring Lil Wayne, and discussed the latest “American Idol” happenings during an appearance on Ryan Seacrest’s syndicated radio show this morning (Mar. 30). “When I look into your eyes, it’s over/You got me hooked with your love controller,” Lopez sings on the synth-heavy pop track. Weezy kicks off the song with off-the-cuff lines like “You’re way too fly, I could be your jet fuel,” in a verse that’s more sedated than Pitbull’s guest spot on “On the Floor.”  A 30-second snippet on “I’m Into You” was played on Seacrest’s radio show, and the host announced that the full track will be “unlocked” once enough fans “Like” Lopez’s new single on her Facebook page.  [Listen below.] 

In the meantime, Lopez talked with Seacrest about last week’s dramatic “Idol” elimination episode, in which the judges decided to use their only save on Casey Abrams.

“That was one decision I have not lost one ounce of sleep over,” says Lopez. “I just knew it was the right thing, Randy knew it was the right thing, Steven knew it was the right thing. This is one of our most dynamic performers — he’s so interesting, he’s so talented. I know it’s crazy, but we have to do it.”

“American Idol” continues tonight at 8 p.m. EST on Fox, with two contestants in the Top 11 getting cut during tomorrow night’s elimination episode.

Music, Movies And Method Man

Source: www.thestar.com - Jason Richards

(March 30, 2011) It's hard to bring Meth across the border.

This has been the lesson over the years for Toronto promoters attempting to put on a show by
Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan, causing many of the city's hip-hop fans to wonder if he'll actually make it to the Sound Academy this Thursday, March 31.

While the rapper did successfully find his way here for a concert in 2007, his 2004 show was cancelled mere hours before start time. More recently, Method Man's criminal record has been complicated by marijuana possession and tax evasion charges.

Promoter Jaime McClellan of Lights Out Entertainment is confident that Mr. Meth will get through customs without issue, as the paperwork has been sent to Immigration Canada. “I'm told that if you don't hear anything back from them, it's fine. That's where it stands right now.”

Method Man spoke with the Star about the border situation, as well as his upcoming projects and new, drug-free image.

What are you up to right now?

Method Man is in bed watching All in the Family.

In the past, you've had some trouble entering Canada. Do you anticipate any border problems this time around?

Every time we pass into Canada, into their border, it's always a long wait. I guess you guys have to be safe. I really don't have a problem with it, but like, I just feel like some of it is very unnecessary. Especially when you have all your proper paperwork and all that. I don't know exactly what they do in the back when they take your information and walk in the back with it, but they keep you sitting there for an hour and some change.

What can you say about your upcoming album, The Crystal Meth?

I'm still writing. I actually haven't been in the studio yet. I don't want to jinx myself, but I do want this to be a classic album. I feel like my past albums fell short of that mark. This time, it took me a long time to get it but I finally know exactly what I have to do.

Is it too early to talk about the next Wu-Tang project?

I think I have to go grab RZA and put him in a headlock and see what I can make happen.

Can you address the rumours of a sequel to your 2001 movie with Redman, How High?

It's just rumours. Me and Redman constantly tell people we want the movie done.

Personally, I'd love to put another How High out there. To my knowledge, the movie made over $50 million overall. I think that warrants a sequel, don't you?

What's your take on these new “weed rappers” like Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa?

I heard Wiz Khalifa's stuff, that boy nasty right there. But honestly, being an active member of my community, I'm trying to distance myself from the reputation of weed, unless it's like, for an acting role.

I just want people to take me seriously for a change. Not every time they see me and look at me and think I'm high, even when I'm not. It's a burden.

This is a whole new Method Man.

Nah, I've been here. It's just that I haven't opened this chapter yet in the book.

Just the Facts

Who: Method Man

When: Tonight

Where: Sound Academy, 11 Polson St.

Tickets: $42-$47 at Soundscapes, Rotate This, Play de Record


Common’s Foundation To Honour Angelou, Palmer, Shepherd

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 28, 2011) *On April 16th rapper Common and his Common Ground Foundation Gala will honour poet and humanitarian Dr. Maya Angelou, actress and singer Keke Palmer, business Leader Dee Robinson Reid and actress/co-host of “The View”  Sherri Shepherd during a dinner in Chicago. The evening will include a silent auction, fine dining, entertainment, and more.  Proceeds will provide the financial support needed for furthering the Common Ground Foundation’s goals and expanding its reach in local communities. “Our foundation has grown over the years, and is very dear to my heart just as much as my career,” says Common.  “One of the things I always say to people is to ‘strive for greatness in any and everything you do’, and the women we are honouring have represented that and so much more. “My connection with Dr. Angelou was a huge inspiration for this evening. From the first time we met our shared love for the spoken word and human spirit enabled us to create a strong bond. I am truly honoured to have the opportunity to celebrate her greatness, and her contribution to the world, along with the other honourees.” A reception will take place at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Gala at 7:30 at The InterContinental Hotel – Grand Ballroom, 505 North Michigan Ave. Tickets are $250, tables are $2250 and both may be purchased online at www.commongroundfoundation.org/galafundraiser2011.

BET’s DJ Megatron Fatally Shot in New York

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 27, 2011) *DJ Megatron – who worked for hip-hop and R&B stations in New York, Boston and Philadelphia before becoming a figure on BET’s “106 & Park” – has been shot to death in New York. According to reports, his manager says he was killed while heading to a store near his home in the borough of Staten Island around 2 a.m. Sunday. Police say the 32-year-old, born Corey McGriff, was found dead with a gunshot wound to his chest. No arrests have been made. Read/learn more at the NY Daily News.

Rihanna Brings Her Red-Hotness to Rolling Stone

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 29, 2011) *OK, how about a new Rihanna magazine cover to talk about and ogle at? No problem ’cause Rolling Stone is glad to oblige. It’s their first cover story with the hot red haired singer who’s sporting what some are calling “sprayed on” daisy dukes accentuating her curves. Details about the article are not exactly forthcoming, However the title, “Pop’s Queen of Pain on Sexting, Bad Boys & Her Attraction to the Dark Side,” does give a clue, heh? On the other hand, you won’t have to wait too long because rollingstone.com is promising a sneak peek at the article tomorrow, Wednesday. The print version will be available on newsstands this Friday, April 1.

Adele Moves To Air Canada Centre

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(March 30, 2011) No surprise here: Adele, the British singer whose hit “Rolling in the Deep” has won her a North American audience, and whose two albums 21 and 19 have been on the Toronto charts for weeks, is moving her May 18 show from the Kool Haus to the much larger Air Canada Centre. The 22-year-old Adele Atkins also saw her song “Someone Like You” rocket to the top of the British charts after her performance in February at the Brit Awards, making her the first act since the Beatles to have to top-five singles and two top-five albums at once. The best news for fans is that since the ACC has more seats to offer, tickets for the long-sold-out show are back on sale. They’ll be $40-$60 from Ticketmaster starting Saturday noon.

Ciara on Her Rocky Career and Future Plans

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 30, 2011) *
Ciara has been a bit low-key lately after her “Basic Instinct,” album turned out not to be the “comeback” she was hoping for. In fact it only sold around 37,000 copies. She even asked her label to release her from her contract and isn’t too happy about her career overall we hear. But she shared her thoughts about the future with Yahoo Australia: “Right now, I am in the process of letting things fall how they are supposed to. It may sound crazy to you, but I have never really managed to take time for me and to enjoy my life and enjoy the benefits I have been blessed with,” says Ciara. “I want to look back five years from now and be happy, I have set up the proper building blocks for my business to run on, even if I don’t want to perform. I am working hard on every aspect of my career, from who I am as a performer to making music, TV and films. From my perspective, my goal is to do more than just perform. To use the platform I have been given to turn it into something more, to do something different.”


TIFF Closing In On Its Lightbox Fundraising Goals

Source: www.globeandmail.com – By James Adams

(March 30, 2011) It's been an arduous eight-year ascent for the
Toronto International Film Festival but it appears the summit is within reach. This week the festival announced it recently received donations totalling $7-million, all of them earmarked for the $196-million capital and endowment campaign for the Bell Lightbox, the festival's purpose-built headquarters which opened last September in downtown Toronto.

The announcement means that TIFF has reached 96 per cent of its fundraising goal and is now "only" $8.2-million short of completion.

The festival, founded in 1976, announced in April 2003 that it had decided to construct a purpose-built headquarters, including several theatres, with an anticipated construction start of 2005.

However, ground for the Lightbox was only broken in spring 2007. When it appeared likely that the five-storey facility, built as a podium for a condominium high-rise, would not reach its fundraising targets by opening day, the Ontario government in spring 2009 agreed to provide TIFF with a low-interest loan of up to $46-million.

Spearheading this most recent round of donations, according to sources close to TIFF, were HSBC Bank Canada and Toronto hotelier Steve Gupta.

Together they're contributing a total of $4-million. The $3-million from HSBC, described by the film festival as "one of the largest philanthropic contributions ever made to TIFF," gives the bank naming rights to the Lightbox's main-floor gallery, which is currently hosting an exhibition of works by U.S. director Tim Burton.

Gupta's $1-million gift gets his name and that of his wife, Rashmi, affixed to the Lightbox's box-office. In addition, three Gupta-owned downtown Toronto hotels, the Marriott Residence Inn and two Hilton Garden Inns, get to be called "Premiere TIFF Bell Lightbox Hotels."

Meanwhile, TIFF is reporting that it is half-way to its goal of raising $1-million in its "Reach for the Top" initiative. The campaign, started a year ago, is to finance the Lightbox's rooftop space, including a large outdoor staircase inspired by the Malaparte staircase on the isle of Capri, immortalized cinematically in Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 film Contempt starring Brigitte Bardot.

Outside The Law: A Fast-Paced Political Revenge Thriller

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Jennie Punter

(March 25, 2011) In Rachid Bouchareb’s sprawling historical melodrama Outside the Law, the political underground meets the Parisian underworld.

And while the 138-minute film takes way too long to hit that morally intriguing intersection, its relentless forward momentum – propelled by revenge and splattered with tense action sequences –holds your attention through one family’s experience of the Algerian struggle for independence from colonial France.

A French director of Algerian descent, Bouchareb casts three key actors (Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem and Sami Bouajila) from his acclaimed 2006 film Days of Glory (about North African soldiers serving France in World War II) which, like Outside the Law and his 1995 film Dust for Life, was nominated for a foreign-language Oscar.

In his new film, the trio play brothers from a poor family who follow very different trajectories after being evicted from their ancestral home in the film’s prologue, set in 1925. This act defines one constant in the film: The French are the bad guys, often hiding behind or working with co-operative Algerians.

It happens again in the next scene, a provocative depiction of the 1945 Setif massacre, during which French soldiers shot and rounded up people in an Algerian market town. Bouchareb provides no background or context. Soldiers and local collaborators suddenly appear with firearms and conduct an ambush-like slaughter. (The scene was the subject of controversy when the film opened in France, but you can imagine that’s what the event felt like for many local witnesses.) The brothers’ elderly father and sisters are killed; their motive is stoked.

We then leap to the early 1950s and a shantytown outside Paris where the youngest brother Said (Debbouze), an aspiring boxing promoter, and his mother (Chafia Boudraa) settle in to be closer to Abdelkader (Bouajila), the scholar of the family, serving time in a Parisian jail for his political views. Messaoud (Zem), a career soldier in the French army, is deployed to Indochina and, later, taken prisoner by Vietnamese guerrillas fighting the colonial power.

Well into the film the brothers are finally united. Although their new, complicated adult relationship seems to be the heart of the saga, the film nevertheless continues its sketchy, connect-the-dots style and we never really feel the humanity of the personal or the political story.

War vet Messaoud commits himself to Abdelkader’s cause, which is to build support for the F.L.N. (National Liberation Front), a socialist party dedicated to securing independence for Algeria from France. His commitment requires him to do some nasty things, while the organization stages terrorist acts around the city.

The righteous Abdelkader becomes a key figure in the F.L.N. but is eventually blind-sided by pride and power. And the comparatively apolitical Said, reluctantly funding his brothers’ cause through his successful cabaret, wants so badly to see his prize Algerian boxer topple a French champion he can’t see the potential political repercussions of the big fight.

Outside the Law is a great-looking, fast-paced film and, to his credit, Bouchareb doesn’t bathe the F.L.N. in a completely flattering light. But narrowing the focus to one central conflicted character and tightening the time frame might have given the audience something more to ponder than the action of a historical revenge thriller.

Outside the Law

Directed by Rachid Bouchareb

Screenplay by Rachid Bouchareb and Olivier Lorelle

Starring Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila, Bernard Blancan and Chafia Boudraa

(In Arabic and French with English subtitles)

Classification: 14A

Outside the Law opens in Toronto and Montreal on Friday.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Jennifer Garner To Play Miss Marple In New Movie

Source: www.thestar.com - BANG Showbiz

(March 29, 2011) Jennifer Garner will play sleuth Miss Marple in a new movie.

The Alias actress will take on the role – previously made famous by stars including Gracie Fields, Angela Lansbury and Joan Hickson – in a Disney version of the traditional Agatha Christie novels.

Although traditionally played by an older woman, a new concept sees her reinvented for a younger generation, with Twin Peaks screenwriter Mark Frost scripting the project.

According to Deadline.com, 38-year-old Garner will produce the movie with Juliana Janes, who has previously worked as her assistant on films including 13 Going on 30 and Elektra.

In the 1980 movie The Mirror Crack’d starring Angela Lansbury, an all-star cast including Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis took part.

It is not known who else will appear in the film.

A Restless Artist’s Welcome Return To Filmmaking

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(March 30, 2011) Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski makes a good case for taking restorative time off.

He made global waves from the early 1960s through early 1990s, first as a screenwriter and then as a writer/director. He penned Innocent Sorcerers (1960) for Andrzej Wajda and later co-wrote Knife in the Water with his friend Roman Polanski, for the latter’s feature debut.

His screen achievements include Deep End (1970), The Shout (1978) and Moonlighting (1982), which established him as a writer/director of sharp eye and mind. He also worked as an actor, in his films and others.

But he dropped off the radar in 1991, following the release of the Second World War drama 30 Door Key. For most of the two decades to follow, he worked as a painter in Los Angeles, taking occasional acting assignments, including a part in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises (2007).

He returned to filmmaking three years ago with the well-received Four Nights with Anna. You could say he’s back with a vengeance with the existential drama Essential Killing, about a hunted man named Mohammed, chased by Americans, who may or may not be a terrorist on the run. It opens Thursday at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Made with producer and co-writer Ewa Piaskowska, Essential Killing took two prizes at the Venice Film Festival, from a jury headed by Quentin Tarantino: A special jury prize for the film, and Best Actor for
Vincent Gallo.

Skolimowski talked to the Star from his home in Poland, where he’s relocated after spending many years in L.A. At 72, he shows no sign of slowing down.

Are you glad you took so much time off filmmaking, and are you glad you came back?

Well, I used the time away from filmmaking in the proper way. I was painting, and I was very successful as a painter: I had exhibitions all over the world. I sold my work to museums and private collectors, so that wasn’t wasted time. I made a career as a painter and, as such, I returned to filmmaking feeling like a young artist.

Do you recommend this? Do you think there are other directors who should follow your example?

Only if they have a talent for painting!

Your original title was The Essence of Killing rather than Essential Killing. Why the change, which also changes the emphasis and suggests a more political stance?

We thought at first it should be The Essence of Killing and then we decided to change it to Essential Killing. It deals with war, after all. We thought that it was the proper title for this film.

How much did you intend to have a political reference, if at all?

No, I avoid all the political references and I purposefully made the film as ambiguous as possible. I’m not using any names or places. We don’t know if this whole story starts in Afghanistan or Iraq or the Pakistani border or somewhere else, and we don’t even know if it ends in Poland or Lithuania or Romania. I really put in a lot of effort to not use any facts, anything which would point out any real historical events.

Why the mystery?

I thought that the whole subject was much wider than any particular war or any situation which took place in any specific circumstances. I thought that the story was universal, that it could be played any time in any place. This is the story of the process of the human being turning into the wild animal. As such, it’s timeless.

Even though you don’t want it to be political, some people may interpret it that way, and judge you sympathetic to somebody who could be Taliban or some other kind of terrorist.

Well, he is not a Taliban. If you watch the beginning of the film carefully, he is in civilian clothes: he’s not wearing the black turban which is a sign of being Taliban. He actually tries to escape when he hears three Americans approaching . . . and that’s what puts him into the roller coaster of events, where he has to kill more and more in order to survive.

Flashbacks suggest indoctrination, but the expression on his face suggests he isn’t buying it.

Yes, that’s a fair reading. Whatever happened in his past, or whether he imagines that, it’s not necessarily that he was following that advice or orders or whatever.

I hear you accosted Vincent Gallo in a crowd at Cannes and gave him your screenplay.

That’s true. I gave him the whole script. Two hours later, he called me, saying, “Oh, this is a fantastic script! I want to do it. I must do it! I was born in Buffalo — I’m used to the cold weather. I actually love running barefoot in the snow!”

Imagine! I was so surprised. I thought he might be exaggerating but his enthusiasm, from the beginning was tremendous. I said, “Listen, this is May, now. If we shoot this picture, it will be in the winter, so if you are serious then start to grow your beard and your hair.” He was really very enthusiastic.

Were you aware of his reputation as being difficult to work with? And were you put off by that at all?

Yes, I was aware. No, I wasn’t worried. I thought that if I was able to handle Klaus Maria Brandauer (for 1985’s The Lightship), who has the reputation as the most difficult actor in the world, I thought that I could cope with Vincent as well.

It seems you had a great collaboration with Gallo.

Difficult, but the results are great. I’m very, very happy with what we got.


70s Classic ‘Sparkle’ Being Remade

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 29, 2011) “Sparkle” the remake has been green lighted by Sony productions and is set to begin filming soon. It’s not “Dreamgirls” and it certainly isn’t anything like it, let’s just put that out there right now, at least that’s what producer Debra Martin-Chase told Sister 2 Sister and now you know. Although the story is also inspired by the story of The Supremes, the plot is a bit thicker and a bit darker than most are used to. To be written and directed by film couple Mara and Salim Akil (known for “Girlfriends” and “The Game”), the film takes place in the late 50s in Harlem. It takes a journey with the Williams sisters who encounter some obstacles along the way on their path to success. “The plots are very different. I mean, Sparkle’s much darker,” Debra said. “It has some real things about ‘what price are you willing to pay for success. The original “Sparkle” was released by Warner Bros. in 1976 and starred Philip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara and Lonette McKee.

50 Cent and Robert De Niro in New Film

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 29, 2011) *That busy 50 Cent is set to star again alongside award winning actor Robert De Niro in an upcoming film being directed by Jesse Terrero (“Soul Plane”). In “Freelancers,” the rapper/actor will play the role of a cop who joins the force after his father is murdered in the line of duty. While in the beginning stages of his new career, he joins a league of rouge cops lead by De Niro’s character, Captain Vic Scarcone. What happens next is yet to be seen. 50 and De Niro worked together in the 2008 movie, “Righteous Kill,” which co-starred Al Pacino. Shooting will begin mid-April in New Orleans.

::TV NEWS::\

Air Farce Founder Roger Abbott Dies At Age 64

Source: www.thestar.com - Lesley Ciarula Taylor

(March 27, 2011) Actor and comedian Roger Abbott, one of the founders of Canada’s long-running beloved comedy troupe the Royal Canadian Air Farce, has died after a 14-year battle with leukemia. He was 64.

“I’m heartbroken to tell you that our beloved friend, Roger Abbott, died last night at Toronto General Hospital, 14 years after being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a progressive disease that he kept secret from all but a few close friends and family until a week ago,” friend and co-star Don Ferguson said on the show’s website on Sunday.

“Roger was the guiding light of Royal Canadian Air Farce since it began in 1973, and all of us who have had the honour of working with him and the pleasure of knowing him will dearly miss his kindness, generosity, integrity, leadership and wonderful sense of humour.”

Abbott was born in Birkenhead, England, and later lived in Montreal and Toronto.

He played a revolving door of characters on Air Farce, including former prime minister Jean Chrétien, former U.S. president George W. Bush and the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge. He said his favourite roles were Chrétien, Mansbridge, Leonard Cohen and the “misogynist TV critic Gilbert Smythe Bite-Me.”

He once said, however, that the former prime minister told him his impersonation sounded more like Preston Manning than Chrétien.

“I’m easy to please,” Abbott wrote of working on the show. “Every time a theatre is sold out, or a new joke gets an incredible roar, or our ratings climb higher, I’m happy.”

The show, which became a CBC radio hit before its long successful run as a weekly CBC Television series, satirized Canadian politics, culture and multiculturalism, using an armoury of accents and dialects, instantly recognizable skit characters and the now retired Chicken Cannon.

The troupe made up the first Canadians inducted into the International Comedy Hall of Fame.

“It was also a highlight when we performed at the ’88 Olympics in Calgary the night after the Battle of the Brians (skaters Orser and Boitano) and Brian Orser was our surprise guest. The audience went wild.”

Among his awards were the Gemini Humanitarian Award, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, 15 ACTRA awards, a Juno and a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

His major influences, he said, were the British comedy troupe Monty Python and fellow Farcer Dave Broadfoot.

Abbott emigrated to Canada in 1953 with his parents and sister. At Loyola High School in Montreal he met Ferguson. He went to Loyola College, now Concordia University, in 1963.

He was working various jobs in radio when he, Ferguson and John Morgan founded the improvisational comedy ensemble The Jest Society in 1970.

Broadfoot joined just as the Society was becoming the Air Farce. They made their first appearance on CBC Radio on Dec. 9, 1973.

The troupe kept performing on radio and television until 2008, becoming one of the country’s best-loved comedy teams. They also played cross-country live tours and recorded several albums of material.

Abbott and Ferguson turned down an offer to write for the American sitcom Taxi because, Ferguson wrote when Air Farce was retiring, “we realized it was important to our listeners’ lives” to keep working on Air Farce.

Of Abbott, Ferguson said at the time, “Roger, the heart, soul and driving force behind Air Farce, possesses a combination of artistic, organizational and business talent that’s rare anywhere.”

During their first eight years on TV, the troupe said, they pulled in 1.27 million viewers for their Friday night show and 2 million for their New Year’s Eve specials. Air Farce was broadcast in the U.S. by public broadcasting stations and in Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

Abbott and Ferguson also produced Dave Broadfoot’s three TV specials and the comedy series Sketchcom (1998). Abbott and Ferguson also hosted the Easter Seals telethon on the CBC for more than 20 years.

In 1993, Abbott was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont.

APTN: The Native Network That's Getting A Nation's Attention

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman

(March 25, 2011) There's a story Paul Barnsley likes to tell about a newsroom, which shall remain nameless, in Southern Ontario. When a reporter was leaving the paper, the story goes, a fist fight broke out over the resulting shift in beats. The loser would have to cover Six Nations Council.

"Most reporters, if they get put on the aboriginal beat, they do their darnedest to get off as quick as they can," says Barnsley, executive producer of investigative news for the
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. "It's easier to cover city hall or to cover a provincial legislature or federal Parliament. It just is."

Barnsley, 54, is responsible for APTN Investigates, the show that broke the Bruce Carson story - a government-connected scandal that has been picked up by every major news outlet in the country, and has received a lot of attention on Parliament Hill.

It's a rare moment in the spotlight for APTN, a network that languishes high up on the dial, and whose newsroom operates on a much smaller scale than its mainstream competitors. "There's a lot of people in this country that don't know we exist," says Barnsley.

Launched in 1999, APTN offers programming about first nations, Inuit and Métis, ranging from cartoons (Little Bear) to drama series (Blackstone) to news programming in English, French and several aboriginal languages. Most of the programming originates in Canada, but you'll also find Hollywood films and Northern Exposure reruns - and a lot of infomercials.

With an annual budget of about $37-million (based on 2008 figures) APTN derives the bulk of its revenue from subscriber fees. That year, the federal Canadian Heritage department gave the network $2.1-million; advertising brought in about $2.5-million. APTN's hiring policy favours aboriginal candidates, and more than three-quarters of the staff are native. (Barnsley, incidentally, is not.)

On the news side of the operation, APTN airs APTN National News on weekdays; and on alternating Friday nights, the current-affairs programs APTN In Focus and APTN Investigates. Their mandate: focus on aboriginal issues, and also provide an aboriginal take on other news.

"Please don't take offence," Barnsley said during an interview this week, "but the mainstream media doesn't really spend a lot of time on aboriginal issues in-depth and doesn't necessarily understand them that well."

Since launching in 2000, APTN's news operations have grown substantially, with 11 bureaus now across the country, each staffed, when at full complement, by a cameraperson, a video journalist and a reporter. They cover stories of interest to aboriginal viewers. Among them: funding issues, court proceedings, Assembly of First Nations activities, and protests.

APTN's investigative unit, based in Winnipeg, consists of seven people, plus a half-time Web writer who's shared with the news operation. Right now, due to the Carson story, they're operating with nine people.

For some journalists, APTN is a launching pad into the mainstream media. Others come to APTN from non-native outlets, sometimes because they're dissatisfied with the treatment of aboriginal stories by their networks.

But there can be real frustration breaking intensely human stories - especially when nobody notices.

Karyn Pugliese, 41, was with APTN for six years beginning with its news programming launch, and now hosts the current-affairs show @issue on iChannel. "One of the reasons that I had to leave APTN was that I was getting too emotional. There are certain stories that I have a hard time talking about without starting to cry because you go into communities and you see who are nice people. They have loving families and they're living in conditions that are just intolerable."

Pugliese knew people in those communities often spoke with her - sometimes about a taboo subject, against the wishes of others - in order to effect change. But she also knew her stories wouldn't necessarily accomplish that.

"You sometimes see W5 or CBC break the story and then at the end of the day when they go for their Canadian Association of Journalists awards they can talk about how that made a big difference. You sit there and you watch over the years the amount of stories that APTN has broken, and the really quality work and quality journalism and facts, and follow the money. They put all this research and all this effort into it, but it doesn't have the same impact."

The Carson story has certainly been an exception.

Earlier this month, Jorge Barrera (that Web writer) and freelance journalist Kenneth Jackson broke the story alleging that Carson, a former PMO adviser, used insider connections as he lobbied on behalf of a company trying to land contracts to sell water filtration systems to native reserves with severe water quality problems.

It was a story APTN was planning to reveal on the season finale of APTN Investigates on March 25. But when the PMO called in the RCMP, the Ethics Commissioner and the Lobbying Commissioner, Barnsley knew he had to act immediately. As a result, APTN wound up scooping itself. Two hours after learning the PMO was taking action, the network ran a short item on its national newscast. It posted an online piece that night.

The sensational story has been picked up everywhere. "When you have CBC national, CTV national, The Globe and Mail, The [Toronto] Star, every big paper, every big media organization now saying this story was broken by APTN, all those news consumers out there are going, 'Who?' Now they know who we are," says Barnsley.

"I think this will give them enormous profile as an organization that does serious journalism," says Candis Callison, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

While there has been great interest in the political scandal in the mainstream media, APTN has continued to follow the issue at the centre of the story: the poor water quality in native communities.

"There are incredibly important stories out there that aren't being told right now, and now we're being given the opportunity to do that," says Barnsley. "And they're the kind of stories that can make life better for an awful lot of people who maybe right now have got some real challenges they're facing.

"The more successful the show is, the better our chances of getting more resources, to do it even better."

This isn't the first story APTN has broken to mainstream - and political - attention, but it's been a real morale booster at company headquarters in Winnipeg and at bureaus across the country.

"This is a story that has affected the government of Canada, the Prime Minister," said Barnsley. "If the government falls ... a lot of the pundits are saying that this story will have played a role in that."

N.B. This story has been changed to reflect the following clarification: As of 2010, APTN no longer receives funding from the federal government.

‘Mad Men’ Officially Put On Hold Until 2012

Source: www.thestar.com - Lesley Ciarula Taylor

(March 29, 2011) Fans will have to wait to find out if Don marries Megan, Joan has Roger’s baby and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce survives 1965.

AMC has confirmed that the fifth season of
Mad Men will be delayed until 2012, Variety reported Tuesday.

“AMC has officially authorized production of season 5 of Mad Men, triggering our option with Lionsgate (Mad Men's production company). While we are getting a later start than in years past due to ongoing, key non-cast negotiations, Mad Men will be back for a fifth season in early 2012,” the company said in a statement.

The announcement came as word leaked out that negotiations on a fifth season were unravelling. Rumour had escalated to declarations the show had been cancelled outright, forcing AMC to make a statement despite having no deal with Weiner.

The touch-and-go talks had been close to a deal in time to start writing and filming for an August debut. But creator and executive producerMatt Weiner was refusing to budge on three AMC and Lionsgate demands, deadline.com and The Daily said.

They are:

 • A two-minute running time cut to allow for more commercials.

 • Eliminating two regular, still-unidentified cast members.

 • Product placement.

“This is their storied franchise, and they want it shorter and cheaper, with fewer actors and more product integration,” deadline.com quoted “an insider” as saying. “The negotiations are about to collapse as a result.”

Mad Men, winner of three Emmys, three Golden Gloves and a Peabody, has already missed its production deadline to launch its fifth season this summer. Now industry watchers believe the next round of shows may have to wait until 2012.

AMC pays $2 million an episode for the period drama about New York advertising executives.

Weiner stands to make $30 million for two new seasons. His contract ended after last season; he told Entertainment Weekly in January: “I want the show to go on and on and on until it has worn out its welcome with viewers and we can’t think of anything more for the characters to do.”

The cast, meanwhile, is waiting for their call back to work.

John Slattery, who plays agency chief Roger Sterling, said at the premiere of his film The Adjustment Bureau in February: “I’m looking for a job.”

Jon Hamm, who plays leading man Don Draper, told Variety last week when he thought the show might be back: “2012. And you can write that.”

When last we saw them in Season 4, it was 1964 and Don had proposed to Megan, Joan was pregnant with Roger’s child, Lucky Strike had dropped the ad agency and Greg was facing a tour of duty in Vietnam.

“Mad Men is definitely coming back for Season 5, but don't ask me when, because we're not sure yet,” Joel Stillerman, AMC senior vice-president of original programming, told television critics in January.

The 2008 negotiations between Weiner and Lionsgate also took months to resolve, delaying the season premiere until August.

But AMC is not dependent on Mad Men the way it was two years ago, the last time the contracts were renegotiated, the New York Times reported. Breaking Bad returns this summer, while The Walking Dead has brought in twice the viewers of Mad Men. A third drama, The Killing, launches April 3.


Final episode of ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ to air May 25

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
The Associated Press

(March 25, 2011) The final original episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show will air May 25. Winfrey's Chicago-based Harpo Productions confirmed the date Friday. Winfrey announced live on the show in November 2009 that she would end its run after 25 years. She since has launched cable's Oprah Winfrey Network. The Oprah Winfrey Show has been in reruns for the last few weeks. But Winfrey tweeted Thursday that she was “hard at work planning the final shows” and new episodes would begin April 7. The final episode brings an end to what has been television's top-rated talk show for more than two decades. It airs in 145 countries worldwide.

‘Talk’s’ Holly Robinson Peete Headed to ‘Price is Right’ in CBS Crossover

Source: www.eurweb.com

(March 28, 2011) *Entertainment Weekly is reporting that CBS is planning a daytime crossover event between “The Talk” and “The Price is Right” involving Holly Robinson Peete. On April 6, “The Talk” co-host, together with cohort Julie Chen, will appear on the network’s long-running game show in the morning, and later that day, “Price” host Drew Carey will “stop by” the chat show. Chen and Peete are reportedly taping their “Price” appearance today, so that the instalment is ready to air for the live crossover next week. It’s unclear what role the two women will do on the game show.

Rosie O'Donnell Returning to TV on Oprah Network

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(March 29, 2011) The Oprah Winfrey Show" is shutting down at the end of the season, but the lights won't be going out at Winfrey's studio in Chicago.  The Oprah Winfrey Show" is shutting down at the end of the season, but the lights won't be going out at Winfrey's studio in Chicago. That's because Rosie O'Donnell's new talk show will be produced at Harpo Studios on Chicago's West Side. Executives at Harpo announced the move on Tuesday. O'Donnell is slated to return to daytime TV with the one-hour show on Own: Oprah Winfrey Network in the fall. In a statement Tuesday, Winfrey says she's delighted to welcome O'Donnell to the studio that's been her home for years. The final original episode of Winfrey's show is scheduled to air May 25.


A Life In Dance: Karen Kain At 60

Source: www.thestar.com - Michael Crabb

(March 27, 2011) Come Monday, Karen Kain plans to indulge herself. She's taking the day off and sleeping in. That evening Ross Petty, her actor-producer husband of almost 28 years, is gathering a close circle of friends for a dinner in her honour.

The special occasion? For some it may seem like yesterday that the National Ballet's artistic director was thrilling audiences as one of the world's top dancers but despite her youthful looks and enviable figure, Canada's perennial ballet sweetheart is turning 60.

Kain joined the company as a standout corps de ballet member — well, she was a “tall girl” — in 1969. Despite Kain's youthful insecurities, National Ballet founding artistic director Celia Franca soon cast her in solo roles. Within two years Kain danced the gruelling Swan Queen in the full-length Swan Lake.

When Soviet-born superstar Rudolf Nureyev arrived to stage his
version of The Sleeping Beauty in 1972, he quickly spotted the talent of two company youngsters, Kain and Frank Augustyn. With Nureyev as an exacting mentor — and champion — Kain and Augustyn, “the gold-dust twins” as they were dubbed, vaulted to stardom.

Nureyev loved dancing with Kain and took her as his partner to stages worldwide. Kain also attracted the attention of outside choreographers who invited her to dance with their companies. But despite tempting offers, her loyalty remained with her roots, in Canada and with the National Ballet.

That loyalty was rewarded with a remarkably long and artistically rich career. Even as Kain, ever the perfectionist, was relinquishing major classical roles she felt no longer able to dance to her own high standards, choreographers remained eager to create new ballets for her.

When Kain finally retired as the National Ballet's de facto prima in October 1997, it was in a role tailor-made for her mature talent by then-artistic director James Kudelka. In the final moment of The Actress, a ballet full of remembered moments — highs and lows — in an artist's long career, Kain triumphantly but symbolically drew a curtain on an important chapter in her life. And she wasn't sure what would come next.

When Kudelka ran for the ballet's top job in 1995, he'd suggested Kain apply with him to become co-directors. But she wasn't ready then.

“I was still dancing, and anyway, James didn't need me. He got the job on his own strengths.”

In May 2005, with two years left on his contract, Kudelka resigned. The company's board of directors took little time to recognize that the perfect replacement was already working for them.

Now in her sixth season at the head of Canada's biggest classical dance troupe, Kain says it's still a thrilling ride.

“To be able to make decisions and see them come to fruition and feel the excitement around them, what it generates within the company, how the artists get motivated — that's the most rewarding part; feeling I can be a catalyst for an artistic experience for our artists and for the public.”

Kain admits maintaining a 24/7 pace can be wearing, but she has no retirement plans.

“I don't put a time on it, and anyway, that's up to a board of directors to decide. Of course, there are days when I feel incredibly exhausted but every time I sit out there and watch the company perform — and I try to see every show — I feel more and more inspired by the idea of the things I can do with the company into the future.”

Toronto Star

In Karen Kain's mind, the best birthday gift would be sold-out shows.

Apollo, Russian Seasons, Theme and Variations.

Don Mckellar Returns To The Stage With War Of The Worlds

Source: www.globeandmail.com – By Guy Dixon

(March 28, 2011) Three-legged Martian war machines are walking across the Hudson River. Poisonous gas drifts over Manhattan. A mass of humanity pours across the city, like New Year's revellers, only this time panic-stricken.

Don McKellar describes the mayhem in the role of the radio announcer atop the CBS broadcast building in Orson Welles's 1938 radio version of the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds.

Never again will the news of mass destruction be delivered with quite the same verve as Welles's dramatization, which tapped into the new power of broadcasting and famously sent Ma and Pa America into a tizzy, believing the fake reports to be true.

McKellar will be performing a stage re-enactment of the radio broadcast at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre on Thursday. As he practises his metaphor-laced lines ("People in the street see it now, they are running toward the East River, thousands of them, dropping in like rats!") with a certain old-time radio voice, the mood of the rehearsal is pleasantly low-key. Acclaimed actor Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci's Inquest) interjects with radio-operator lingo. Young actor Marc Bendavid adds a bit of supper-hour, radio-announcer slickness. Just the quaintness of the reports of the alien invasion seems friendly and familiar.

The production will be McKellar's first return to the stage since his wife, stage and screen actress Tracy Wright, died last June from pancreatic cancer at the age of 50. But the Toronto-based actor has been busy offstage, appearing as a guest star on CBC's Republic of Doyle and developing and directing the CBC sitcom Michael, Tuesdays and Thursdays, coming this fall. The series, about the co-dependent relationship between a psychiatrist and his patient, will feature Bob Martin, with whom McKellar worked on The Drowsy Chaperone, and Matt Watts.

"Working was a relief to me, and then it became ... It probably took too much actually," McKellar says, indicating that all these projects may have ramped up a little more quickly than he had expected.

"When Tracy was sick, I cancelled a lot of stuff, of course. Everything, in fact, except what she was doing. She was acting still, and I was helping her with that," he says. "In the last months, when she made the choice to act in this movie Trigger and when I thought about it after, she revived my interest in the importance of performing. She reminded me, in a way, of why I started in the first place. I just saw how important it was to her. It was sort of more important to her than her chemotherapy, for instance."

During her illness, Wright co-starred in Trigger with Molly Parker and in the movie You Are Here, while also planning stage performances and readings until she was unable to continue.

As for McKellar's return to the stage, judging by the rehearsal, the performance of The War of the Worlds will have an intimate feeling, like someone with an ear close to a radio set. The radio play isn't even the central focus of the Harbourfront production, but is one part of a larger presentation on the work of film composer Bernard Herrmann. Hermann conducted the dinner orchestra that Welles's The War of the Worlds fictitiously kept interrupting to bring new bulletins of the advancing Martians.

Rehearsing in a white shirt and suspenders, McKellar says the production is purposely trying to recapture the late 1930s. Foley artist and musician John Gzowski expertly blows into large jugs to create the bygone Hudson River boat horns and pings metal coil to create outdated alien machine sound effects.

However, McKellar doesn't see this as pure nostalgia: "To me, it's not about nostalgia, but about exploring the performative aspects of news. It's about one of the first explorations of where news and entertainment crossed, which I think is still, obviously, pretty relevant."

The play suits him.

"I've always been all over the map with what I've done. I've always acted and wrote and directed. I like that. That's what I like about this, it has a weird intersection with performance and radio and music."

Daniel Radcliffe Is A Musical Comedy Wizard

Source: www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian

(March 27, 2011) NEW YORK - Want to know how to succeed on Broadway without really trying?

Daniel Radcliffe in the leading role of your musical.

When it was first announced that the young actor formerly known as Harry Potter was going to be playing ambitious J. Pierrepont Finch in the third major incarnation of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, following Robert Morse in 1961 and Matthew Broderick in 1995, there was a certain amount of scepticism.

Yes, he could muggle, but could he mug? And while he could cast a spell, could he spell a cast?

Well, the buzz around Gotham concerning Radcliffe’s singing and dancing skills has been pretty sensational and having caught one of the show’s final previews, I’m pretty darn confident that the reviews following Sunday night’s opening will be raves.

Time has been kind to this musical, with Frank Loesser’s score and Abe Burrows’ book seeming as fresh as though they were written yesterday.

Sure, times have changed and the world of 1961 is just a wee bit different, but our recent familiarity with Mad Men has put us in the perfect frame of mind to accept this saga of a young man who rises oh-so-rapidly to the top of World Wide Wickets with nothing but charm and the ability to be at the right place at the right time.

With CNN’s Anderson Cooper narrating the passages from the self-help book Radcliffe uses to get to the top, there’s a nicely contemporary spin on the advice, and Radcliffe’s guileless glee as he keeps landing on his feet is sublime.

One of the things that has always made this show so solid is its nice base of character roles to beef up the world around Finch, and director Rob Ashford has cast and utilized them with rare skill.

John Larroquette is nearly as sublime as Radcliffe, drawing the devious boss J.B. Biggley with the kind of sardonic humour he deploys so well, wallowing in the mud while keeping his hands somehow shiningly clean.

Rose Hemingway is just the kind of crisply attractive woman you hope Radcliffe would wind up with, Christopher J. Hanke is the piece’s hissable villain, the kind of man who, as they put it, “gives nepotism a bad name.”

Tammy Blanchard is a scrumptious sexpot, Mary Faber the brisk wide-eyed gal-pal all heroines should have and Ellen Harvey the perfect battleaxe of an executive secretary.

Director-choreographer Ashford keeps everything moving with a sharpness that’s a welcome change from the flat-footedness he showed in last season’s Promises, Promises.

And when he lets Radcliffe break loose with a series of exhilarating dance moves in the 11 o’clock number, “Brotherhood of Man,” you know that all is right with the universe.

The world is a happier place to live in now that Harry Potter has found that pot of gold at the end of the Broadway rainbow.


T.O.'s Swords & Sworcery Unsheathes New Experience

Source: www.thestar.com - Raju Mudhar

(March 25, 2011) We live in an Angry Birds world. The physics-based puzzler phenomenon is the closest to a universal app-gaming experience that most people with a smartphone have tried. It follows the rules for what makes app gaming sticky: It is cute and straightforward, provides simple fun and is perfect for short play sessions. It's also exactly the opposite of Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP.

Released this past Thursday for the iPad, this Toronto-made game has been hotly anticipated by the gaming community across North America. It won an art award at its first appearance at a conference and has been seen as a potential game-changer on the Ios platform. On release day, The Unofficial Apple Weblog said “Swords & Sworcery is a milestone in the maturity of the iPad gaming platform.”

The result of a collaboration between graphic and pixel artist Craig Adams, a.k.a. Superbrothers, musician Jim Guthrie (whose long list of credits include Royal City, Human Highway and his solo work) and Capybara, the local studio behind Critter Crunch and Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, S&S EP is as much an audiovisual experience as it is a game. It has an old-school feel, not just because of its intricate pixel-art style but in that the game play is somewhat similar to old PC point-and-click adventure games. And unlike most games on any platform these days, it doesn't always spell out your options for you.

“It tickles that part of the brain that videogames used to tickle,” Adams says.

“The last 10 years, it feels like (developers thought), ‘We're going to lose sales if we don't tell people what to do at every exact moment.'

“We haven't made anything too confusing, but we have made discovery part of the content.”

The idiosyncratic result has some music-based puzzles, shifts into dreamscapes depicted as a vinyl album, amusing non-sequitur small-talk dialogue and fight scenes that require you to rotate the iPad to battle enemies. It also has many surprises, and even areas that change with phases of the moon.

The creators have been deliberately vague about the story, as figuring the game out is the point. We'll just say that you play as the Scythian, who wanders the gorgeous 8-bit landscapes with various tasks like finding sprites. It's got a knowing sense of humour, like when the main character says: “We groan not another fetch quest, amirite?”

“I sort of see this game as a quilt, like it's really this handmade, woven thing,” says Guthrie. “After making this game, I realize that even making a crappy 99-cent app-store game is a lot of work, and a certain amount of care and craft goes into those, but at the same time, ours is just a different game ... We want you to wrap it around you and snuggle up with it.”

This was the first game Guthrie and Adams have made. Guthrie says game design is about problem solving: “You have an idea, and then you problem-solve it until it's dead. And then it comes back to life.”

They point to the expertise of Capybara, and in particular its creative director, Kris Piotrowski, the main guy who helped problem-solve their vision to life.

The game is now out on the iPad for $4.99, and we'll see Guthrie's soundtrack released on vinyl in a few weeks.

The iPhone version will hit the app store in about a month.


Enjoy Lazy Days In The West African Delta

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Rose Skelton

(March 27, 2011) SENEGAL BEACHIt was still early morning and I had dozed off while keeping vigil on our route. “I seem to have lost the way,” my friend said. “I was following the track for a while, but the salt flats seemed smoother to drive on ...”

Looming around us were baobabs, the largely leafless, bulbous-trunked trees that locals say were stuck in the ground upside down by the devil. They looked as if they were made from elephant hide, grey and tremendous, casting their great fingers up to the sky. The headlights picked up a shape ahead – a donkey pulling a wooden cart, piled with salt and millet, which came to a stop beside us. “Excuse me,” I said in French to the two passengers, wondering what language they spoke. “Can you tell us where the road is?” The young men politely pointed to the north. “Follow the telegraph wires,” one said. “That’ll show you the way.”

We were travelling through the Sine Saloum region, south of
Dakar, to the Sine-Saloum delta. The area is a jigsaw of salt flats and shallow waterways that eventually give way to the rolling waters of the Atlantic and while there is a road – a red gravel route that snakes inland from the coast and between several villages – it’s not a comfortable one.

About three hours after we had set off from Dakar, we turned off at a tiny junction where a sign pointed us to Lodges des Collines de Niassam (niassam.com), an ecolodge on the edge of the warm delta waters at Palmarin. The sun was just about up as we arrived and were greeted with coffee and freshly baked bread. Just to remind myself I was in the tropics, I washed them down with a glass of baobab juice made from the seed pods of the tree: cream in colour, strangely grainy and supposedly with powerful stomach-settling properties.

The baobab trees were to be our home for the next few days. While tree hotels might be popular in the east of the continent, out here in the wild west, they are something of a rarity. This is Senegal’s first and so far only tree hotel – a handful of beautifully crafted wood cabins perched in the wide branches of the baobab trees. Almost everything inside the rooms has been made in the local area.

West Africa has long been popular with backpackers who travel around the region through Mali, Ghana and Burkina Faso in rickety bush taxis, sleep in fleapit hostels and revel in the fact that this is tough, proper travelling. More recently, however, tourists have made their way tentatively to Dakar, perched on the western tip of the continent, for its thriving music scene, which has produced musicians such as Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal. As east and southern Africa have traditionally attracted the wealthier tourists, lured by the big game and sparkling Indian Ocean coastline, west Africa was left with a lot of bad PR, not helped by civil wars.

But what goes on in countries hundreds or thousands of kilometres to the north or south should not put people off Senegal’s charms. Not only is its culture thriving and quite unlike anywhere else in Africa, some interesting small hotels are opening up. The Collines de Niassam was built by a French couple eight years ago. Its electricity comes from solar panels and almost all its food is grown in the hotel garden or supplied locally. We soon discovered the food is exceptional – local fish known as capitaine cooked with bissap (hibiscus flower) was my favourite – prepared by a laughing storm of a woman who, if asked nicely, would divulge her culinary secrets.

But the choice of where to sleep posed a problem. In one of the round houses on stilts perched above the shallow, lapping waters of the delta? Or high up in the branches of these magical baobab trees? When I saw that the tree-house bathroom was encased in a wooden cabin around the trunk of the tree – you take a shower snuggled up against the baobab – my mind was made up. The stairs leading to the bedroom wind up its trunk, past the second-floor “living room” – a hammock and breakfast table midway up the branches – and to the room cradled at the top of the branches, with a four-poster bed.

We soon settled into a chilled-out lifestyle for a few days. It is easy to do nothing – the silence that hangs over the delta can pleasantly stupefy a visitor after the hectic pace of Dakar – but there is a range of things to do in the area. We were invited to watch a traditional wrestling match in a nearby village, where the whole community gathers and, with drums and song, cheers on the young men, and were offered the more indulgent option of a flight in a micro-light plane to see the salt wells sitting like coloured inkpots across the land.

But we opted for kayaking in the mangrove lagoons with a local guide, Pierre. We paddled through the clear narrow waterways before arriving at an island with pristine white sand. We pulled our kayaks ashore and Pierre picked oysters from the mangrove roots for us to roast on a fire and eat, admiring the setting sun. A monkey cackled at us from the high branches of a baobab tree. For the wild west, things seemed very easy and gentle from where I was sitting.


Canadian Ballers Strut Their Stuff At Elite U.S. High school Event

Source: www.thestar.comRoyson James

(March 29, 2011) CHICAGO - He’s the “Pied Piper” of elite basketball players; Mr. Personality; The Facilitator and everyone’s dream teammate.

And Wednesday night
Myck Kabongo will be scheming to help America’s best high schoolers impress pro scouts, get closer to their dreams and light up the United Center here, the house that Michael Jordan built.

The Star is here to witness the annual high school classic because three Canadians are among the 24 stars chosen to showcase America’s finest young talent. They are part of a tidal wave of players who’ve migrated south to pursue their hoop dreams without forgetting their roots.

Besides the six-foot-one point guard Kabongo, selectors chose Montreal’s rising star Khem Birch, a leaper of a power forward, and Kyle Wiltjer of Portland, Oregon, whose ball-handling and shooting range make a liar out of his six-foot-10, 225-pound measurements.

All three have played for Canada at the cub level and are part of the reason basketball lovers expect Canada to soon return to the competitive ranks of world basketball, including the Olympics.

The players are neither tokens nor bystanders here. Media from across America battled Canadian reporters Tuesday for a few minutes with the loquacious Kabongo, who swallows up a microphone the way he palms a basketball.

Wiltjer, whose dad played for Canada, won the three-point shooting competition Monday night — succeeding Ajax’s Cory Joseph who won it last year. Kabongo finished a close second in the skills contest. Birch competed in the slam dunk competition, losing to LeBryan Nash of Dallas, Texas.

Canada’s men’s basketball coach Leo Rautins took in the practices and skills competition and was all smiles.

Wiltjer, 18, plays for Jesuit High School in Portland and is headed for the Kentucky Wildcats next year. Imagine a giant stepping back behind the arc to rain down three-pointers like the Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki and then working the paint from the block.

“He’s a worker and he has good genes. He is like a Euro player who can do many things to beat you. He has a high basketball IQ, he understands the game and he can shoot,” Rautins said. “In fact, he can shoot better than he did” in winning the shooting competition.

Birch, 18, by his own estimation is raw, having played just five years of basketball on a six-foot-nine body.

“He’s freakishly athletic,” Rautins explains. “He can be right there with you and next thing his elbows are above the rim. His upside is tremendous. I don’t think he has scratched the surface of his potential as yet.” Birch has a scholarship to Pittsburgh.

Kabongo, though, lights up the room with his personality and then wows everyone else with his tremendous speed, playground-pleasure moves, and basketball acumen.

He’s headed to University of Texas next year to join “my brothers” Tristan Thompson and Joseph (both McDonald’s All-Americans last year), but not before leaving his stamp on a game that has seen only seven Canadians ever, three this year, five in the last two, in its 34-year history, awarding nearly 800 players. About two-thirds of the 24 players in Wednesday’s game will make it to the NBA, history shows.

Rodney Terry, assistant coach and top recruiter for the Texas Longhorns, says Kabongo, 19, is his ace in the hole on recruiting trips. “Everybody wants to play with him.”

Rautins: “He’s an energy guy who can do anything and get to anywhere he wants on the floor; he’s as quick as a cat. Then, his influence in the locker-room is dramatic.”

That’s the kind of leadership most coaches crave. And Kabongo says it’s just something that comes naturally. At the media gabfest Tuesday he was studiously working the room — a shout out to friend Austin Rivers (player of the year and son of Boston Celtics head coach, Doc), daps with new-found teammates, pats on the back, encouragement ...

Kabongo’s mother, Nene, considers him blessed. And she’s here soaking up the festivities.

Twelve years ago, she arrived in Canada from the Congo with five children to join a father who preceded them. Myck was only six. All he remembers of his ancestral home is playing marbles and cricket.

When he took to basketball, mom was not too pleased. School was the priority, she said — a sweet mom turning sour to drive home the point.

“I get good grades,” Myck says. “I love basketball so much I had to get good grades. I thank Mom for pushing me.”

When he messed up and she threatened to cut his playing time, coaches would plead with her to “Please, mommy, find another punishment, anything else.”

Now, she says she understands what all the fuss was about in this sports-mad continent.

“I’m blessed. He’s a good boy,” she says.

An all-star game is a free-for-all that can degenerate into a selfish farce. Kabongo, with scorers all around him — the Canadians are all on the West Squad — says he will focus on dishing out assists. Jacque Vaughn (1993) has the record, with 13.

“I want to at least tie that record and leave my mark on the game,” he says.

Leafs Still Hold On To Playoff Hope

Source: www.thestar.com - Mark Zwolinski

(March 28, 2011) The math says the Leafs are all but eliminated from the playoffs, but the team sees itself in a different situation.

“We still want to give ourselves a chance, so (Tuesday’s game against Buffalo), as much as any game we’ve played lately, is a must win game for us,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said as his club tries to stay viable in the race for a post season berth.

That race, from a Leafs standpoint, was made more difficult after a loss to Detroit in regulation Saturday. With Buffalo winning Saturday, the Leafs fell seven points behind the Sabres for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

Tuesday’s game still ranks as meaningful – at least to the Leafs – but it would have carried more weight had they beat Detroit and kept the deficit with Buffalo down to five points.

“Obviously the last game (vs. Detroit) was tough,” Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur said.

“But I think this (game against Buffalo) is still a big game for us. You have to keep your spirits up. The big part is getting to within five points again, from there who knows. Teams could lose and you are still in a position to do something.”

The Leafs will face a Sabres team that simply refuses to buckle while holding onto that eighth and final playoff position.

The two teams have been almost identical since the all-star break. Buffalo has gone 15-7-4 and the Leafs 15-7-5. The Leafs once held a game in hand on the Sabres, but failed to take advantage of that game. It might have made Tuesday’s game a pivotal affair in the East playoff race, but the Leafs feel there’s no use looking back on what they should have done over the past several months.

“Sure you can go back and look at (the) what ifs and what we should have done, but that is the easy thing to do,” Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn said.

“We have to play hard and finish strong, if we do that, we only give ourselves a chance.”

The Leafs, while not wanting to dwell on their playoff situation, have actually played Buffalo very tough of late — a fact that should have made Tuesday’s game more important than it appears to be at this point in time.

Toronto defeated Buffalo in the last two meetings between the two teams. That small measure of success helped the Leafs become a serious playoff contender, and proved a small measure of payback for the Sabres run of success over the Leafs, which saw them post a 29-11-1 record over Toronto since the lockout.

The two wins also saw the Leafs solve super goalie Ryan Miller, who entered the March 12 game in Toronto with a 24-9-0 record over Toronto – the most wins he has posted over any NHL team in his career.

“He’s played great lately but we have to get traffic in front of him,” MacArthur said.

“We have to make sure he stays in his crease. When he comes out to cut angles down, he’s very good. We have to get shots and get traffic at him.”

Patrick Chan Ready To Skate For A Cause

Source: www.thestar.com – Randy Starkman

(March 30, 2011) Toronto figure skater Patrick Chan felt pretty helpless watching the earthquakes in Japan and worrying about friends he has on and off the ice there.

On Saturday night at 7 p.m., he will try do his part to help out when he skates in Oshawa Skating Club's Ice Show at the GM Centre in Oshawa. This will be the last public appearance for the reigning ISU Grand Prix champion before the world championships in Moscow beginning April 24.

Of course, the worlds had to be moved from their original site of Tokyo because of the havoc wreaked by the natural disaster in Japan.

Chan is donating half of his skating fee Saturday night to the Canadian Red Cross efforts to help in the Japan Earthquake/Asia Pacific Tsunami aftermath and the other half to a scholarship fund in memory of his late coach Osborne Colson.

Don Jackson, the 1962 world champion who was also coached by Colson, is headlining the show with Chan.

Chan has been on a roll this season and looks ready to move up a notch after winning silver at the last two world championships.

"The wait definitely hasn't changed anything," he said recently. "It has just made me a little more hungry. As I wait longer and longer, I get more anxious and anxious. It's not bad at all. It's just a matter of staying healthy and staying mentally healthy."

Tickets can be purchase on the General Motors Centre website and at the box office.

 (The photo was taken by Mike Cassese of Reuters at Skate Canada in Kingston)

Dismal Season For Raptors Tough To Swallow

Source: www.thestar.com - Dave Feschuk

(March 26, 2011) LOS ANGELES - Reggie Evans, the Toronto Raptors forward, was eating a slice of chocolate cake in the visitors’ locker room before Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Suddenly, the man with the sweet tooth turned salty.

“Hey, Ju-Ju,” Evans said, addressing Julian Wright, his Toronto teammate, in mock confrontation. “Did I ever tell you I don’t like you?”

Said Wright: “Every day.”

“Hey, DeMar,” Evans kept at it, turning a stern gaze to DeMar DeRozan. “Did you know I don’t like you?”

Said DeRozan: “Pretty sure you never did.”

World-class comedy, it was not. But there were laughs all around. And as the Raptors continued to limp through the dregs of a dismal season, maybe there was an ounce of truth in even the best natured locker room jabs. Upon their Sunday return from a five-game Western road trip, the Raptors will have been together for most of six months, played 73 games, and lost more than 70 per cent of them.

So if Toronto’s hoopsters weren’t exactly a model of harmony, especially considering they were coming off Friday night’s humiliating loss at Golden State, wherein they set more than one franchise record for defensive ineptitude and trailed by as many as 47 points, it was difficult to be surprised.

Still, long-time observers of the team were caught off guard by Wright’s actions on Friday night, when he refused head coach Jay Triano’s request to check into the blowout in the third quarter. Wright, who remained on the bench when Triano wanted him on the floor, ended up as the only able-bodied Raptor not to play in the 138-100 loss. In the wake of that act of defiance, Wright said he addressed his teammates with an apology.

“I just apologized generally. But everyone understood,” Wright said. “No one wants to be singled out at the end of the day. We all know we’re a team . . . The best way to put it — it’s not characteristic of me. I think that’s why it’s a thing of the past. That’s probably the most I can say.”

While Wright wasn’t suspended, Bryan Colangelo, the Raptors general manager, said the matter was “handled internally,” usually code for the levying of a fine, although Wright declined to discuss the specifics of his penalty.

“There’s obviously more to it than that,” said Triano. “But that’s all we’re going to discuss.”

Added Wright: “I’m here, I’m dressed, I’m playing . . . It’s not as big an issue as it may seem. We’re looking forward to the game. We’re looking forward to playing the Clippers.”

He was speaking for himself, of course; various members of Toronto’s banged-up NBA squad weren’t slated to have any part of L.A.’s second most famous basketballers. Evans, nursing a sore foot, was to be in street clothes, as was Andrea Bargnani, the starting centre, who was sidelined by bone spurs in his right ankle.

Bargnani, who has been bothered by the bone spurs for a while now, said off-season surgery to alleviate the pain “is a possibility.”

As for Wright, who is in the final guaranteed year of a rookie-scale contract that pays him about $2.9 million U.S. this season, to understand the root of his frustration in Golden State is to know that his future as an NBA is very much up in the air. While he had emerged as a regular part of Toronto’s rotation in December, a month in which he averaged more than 21 minutes a game, he has since been reduced to a scarcely used afterthought.

Ever since the Raptors acquired forward James Johnson in a trade with the Chicago Bulls last month, Wright, battling for the same small-forward playing time as Johnson, has been left on the bench for the duration of 12 of the 15 games.

Why? While the coaching staff has lauded him for his defensive intensity, his jump shot remains, to be kind, below average. The Raptors, well aware of Wright’s limitations, are focusing their attention on Johnson’s possibilities, which makes sense, even if it has made for a trying March for Wright.

Still, that he’s in no position to refuse a single second of playing time goes without saying to everyone but the out-of-touch denizens of the end of an NBA bench. On a team dogged by losses and injury and its own vast incompetence, Wright is not alone in not liking what he sees.

“Everybody wants to play 48 minutes. Everybody wants the ball and the offence designed around them,” Triano said. “And it’s not happening, and it can’t. I’m sure guys get frustrated.”

Speech By High School Baseball Player Helps Japan Heal

Source: www.thestar.com - Joji Sakurai

(March 29, 2011) TOKYO—If Japan has a field of dreams, it’s a well-groomed patch of grass and dirt called Koshien.

Twice a year, high school baseball teams compete at the field outside Kobe in nationally televised tournaments that rivet the country. Last week, at the start of the spring tournament, a teen stood on a podium in front of home plate and made a speech watched by millions, with a dignity and conviction some Japanese find lacking in their leaders as the nation confronts its earthquake and tsunami calamity.

“We were born 16 years ago, in the year of the great Kobe earthquake,” said Shinsuke Noyama, a team captain chosen to represent players at the opening ceremony, his face grim and chest proud. “Today, in the great east
Japan earthquake, many precious lives have been lost, and our souls are filled with sorrow.”

Baseball, long popular in Japan, rallied the country after the Second World War, providing welcome distraction while serving as a symbol of the co-operation, hard work, and self-sacrifice needed to rebuild the devastated land. It could be expected to play a similar role in the latest calamity, but an ugly squabble over whether to postpone opening day has smeared the image of the professional game.

Not only that, Japan’s tradition-steeped national sport, sumo, is in disgrace over a match-fixing scandal, its spring tournament cancelled in an unprecedented act of contrition.

Now the nation is turning elsewhere for a glimmer of hope: fresh-faced adolescents who play their hearts out on the baseball field with a seriousness and integrity sometimes missing from their pro heroes.

Hours after Noyama spoke, his team crashed out in the first round. But his speech, made against a backdrop of teams lined up like squadrons on the diamond, was played over and over on national TV, even into the morning of the next day.

“It was much more beautiful than some mediocre politician’s speech, this 16-year-old youngster performing so magnificently, with that booming voice,” said Akira Kawaii, a children’s story writer walking toward Tokyo’s Shimbashi train station. “Pro ball is all about money, high school baseball is about passion.”

To put Japan’s love of high school baseball in perspective, it generates the same kind of excitement as “March Madness,” the ongoing college basketball championships in the United States. It’s a reaffirmation of values and identity, an occasion for national bonding, and an expression of nostalgia for the purity and vigour of youth.

To be sure, high school baseball is a big deal for reasons other than national identity: Big bucks are at stake with hawk-eyed scouts looking for hot prospects. Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Ichiro Suzuki — all now playing in Major League Baseball — first became household names in Japan after memorable performances in high school.

But in Japanese high school baseball, losers attract almost as much attention as winners, and even the no-hopes garner a big chunk of the televised commentary. Fans are touched to see these youths giving their all, with the same palpable sense of purpose, even when they’re losing 11-0 in the eighth inning.

The teenage players have at least momentarily taken over the unifying role that the pros carried out after the war. During the opening ceremony, the Tohoku High School team — based in tsunami-ravaged Miyagi prefecture — marched onto the field carrying the school banner to a wave of emotional applause.

“The tournament shows you can make sports speak to the needs even of a tragic moment,” said William Kelly, a Japan scholar at Yale University. “And professional baseball shows how you can also lose that opportunity.”

The discord that has rocked Japan’s two professional leagues at a time the country needs unity has shocked the country.

The more powerful Central League balked at postponing its season out of respect for disaster victims, and its Yomiuri Giants — Japan’s most popular team — insisted it would hold electricity-guzzling night games at a time many families are eating dinner by candlelight because of rolling blackouts.

Fans were outraged. Players hinted at a possible boycott. And the government pressured the Central League to reconsider. The Giants, widely viewed as holding disproportional clout in baseball decision-making, were singled out for accusations of greed and heavy-handedness.

“Are these the circumstances where we should be doing this?” fumed Senichi Hoshino, the charismatic former manager of the Hanshin Tigers, who play at Koshien and are the chief rival of the Tokyo-based Giants.

Early last week, the Central League agreed to postpone the season’s start to March 29, and the Giants said they would play more day games and conserve energy during night games. On Thursday, the league caved in completely, postponing its season to April 12 in line with the Pacific League.

Chad Ochocinco Earns Reserve Spot On MLS Team

Source: www.thestar.com - Doug Tucker

(March 29, 2011) KANSAS CITY, MO.—After a five-day tryout proved he was a good teammate who lacked enough soccer skills, NFL star Chad Ochocinco got what he was hoping for Tuesday — a spot on the reserve team for Sporting Kansas City.

Now he'll work out a couple of times a week with the MLS team's reserve squad, which is what he was hoping for all along.

“This is so awesome I'm an honorary member of SportingKC and can train with the reserve team as long as I want,” Ochocinco said in a tweet. “Totally awesome ILuvKC.”

As a member of the reserve team, the six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals will not be given a contract or be paid. But soccer will be a great way to stay in shape until owners and players work out their differences and the NFL lockout is resolved.

Coach Peter Vermes said Ochocinco had proven himself a hard worker and good teammate and was never a distraction.

“He really loves the game and he was into it. He wanted to try to make it,” said Vermes. “I think it's also good for him. He realizes this is a lot more difficult than it (appears to be).

“For our sport, it's great because I think there's a lot of people out there who question how hard it is to play this game and it's very, very difficult.”

Ochocinco left for home after getting the good news and said he would return “in a week or two.”

“He realized he's not good enough to make the team and play in games,” said club spokesman Dave Borchardt. “This way, he gets to be part of the soccer locker-room, which is a dream come true.”

Ochocinco had appeared to be realistic about his chances of winning an MLS contract.

“I've been away from the game since I was a little kid. I'm just having fun,” he said after Monday's practice game. “The skill set is not there like it should be.

“All I can do out here on the pitch is probably just run fast.”

Ochocinco said his grandmother helped persuade him to give up soccer and focus entirely on football after the 10th grade. If he had stuck with soccer, Vermes said, he would have been a star in that sport.

“There's no doubt in my mind he would be a professional player today,” Vermes said. “No doubt in my mind. We've had guys in here with lesser physical tools than he has.

“He brings something to the field, his attention to detail and he's very conscientious about the game. When you bring that every day onto the practice field you're just going to get better.”

India Upstages Pakistan In ‘Mother Of All World Cup Cricket Matches’

Source: www.thestar.com - C. Rajshekhar Rao

(March 30, 2011) MOHALI, INDIA—A lucky 85 from Sachin Tendulkar was followed by a disciplined bowling effort as India beat Pakistan by 29 runs in a high-stakes semi-final Wednesday to progress to the World Cup final against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan was dismissed for 231 in the last over chasing 261, sparking wild celebrations among the 28,000 people inside the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium and across the nation of more than one billion people.

Pakistan had done well earlier to peg India back to 260-9 after Virender Sehwag’s flying start, with left-arm pace bowler Wahab Riaz taking a career-best 5-46.

The victory continued a streak for India, which has beaten Pakistan in all five World Cup head-to-heads dating back to 1992.

The so-called “mother of all World Cup matches” was touted as a duel between India’s batting line-up and Pakistan’s bowling attack, but Pakistan’s shoddy fielding was eventually the difference between the two sides.

Tendulkar was let off four times, giving him the opportunity to knit together challenging total for India and the bowlers then ensured a third World Cup final appearance for the 1983 champion.

“Going back to Mumbai, especially for this event, is a wonderful occasion,” Tendulkar said of playing a World Cup final on his home ground. “All I want to say is, we want to be calm, focus on our job and get the job done.”

India piled the pressure on a Pakistan batting line-up which failed to produce a single century in the tournament.

Pakistan’s early promise was slowed down in the middle overs as Yuvraj made early inroads and the bowlers slowly took control, marshalled well by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. All five Indian bowlers finished with two wickets each.

The only time Pakistan looked capable of the chase was when openers Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez were at the crease.

Kamran Akmal slashed a ball from Zaheer Khan straight to Yuvraj at point after making 19, while Hafeez went for an unnecessary scoop off Munaf Patel and was caught behind for 43.

Yuvraj then dismissed Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan and Pakistan was reduced to 106-4 by the 26th over.

Umar Akmal added some interest with a 24-ball 29 and Misbah-ul-Haq made a late charge of 56, but with the ball not coming on to the bat too well later in the day, it was always going to be difficult for them.

“I want to say sorry to my nation. We tried our level best,” Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi said. “I want to congratulation the Indian cricket and all of the Indian nation for this great victory. We wish them well in the final.”

Critics condemned the fielding performance — Pakistan dropped six catches in all — and wondered why Afridi didn’t use its batting power play earlier in a bid to throw the Indian bowlers off their rhythm and give the big-hitting middle order a chance with the fielding restrictions in place.

Afridi said it was difficult getting the strategy right with wickets falling frequently. He also refused to sign off without some encouraging words for his squad, which had been given little chance before the tournament started.

“We really played well in this competition — the boys did a great job,” he said. “I’m proud I’m the captain of these guys.”

In the first innings, Riaz exposed India’s traditional weakness against left-arm seamers, striking at crucial junctures. He accounted for a dangerous looking Sehwag (38) and an in-form Yuvraj for a first-ball duck, as the famed Indian batting struggled against his swing.

Pakistan also made Tendulkar wait for his 100th international century despite dropping the world’s best batsman four times. Tendulkar also had an lbw decision overturned on referral and survived a close stumping appeal in what has to be one of his luckiest innings ever.

“I would not like to rate or compare Sachin’s innings but it was a very important one for us,” Dhoni said. “When he is in the middle, it makes a lot of difference to the team because he helps others to bat according to the need.”

Tendulkar faced 115 balls and hit 11 fours even as Riaz pegged back the Indian middle order with the dismissals of Virat Kohli (nine) and Yuvraj off successive deliveries.

Kohli was caught at point and Yuvraj was bowled off a swinging full toss, while Dhoni was trapped lbw by Riaz a little later for 25.

After Sehwag’s blazing start which contained five boundaries in an over from Umar Gul, India failed to get a big partnership.

Tendulkar continued to work the ball around in the face of some tight bowling in the middle overs and was lucky to see two clear spilled catches off Afridi, the tournament’s leading wicket-taker.

Misbah dropped a sharp catch at mid-wicket when Tendulkar was on 27, while the generally reliable Younis Khan spilled an easier chance at short cover on 45.

Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was unable to glove a thick edge when Tendulkar was on 70 and he was also let off on 81 by Umar Akmal off Mohammad Hafeez.

He was finally out when Afridi himself took a sharp chance at short extra-cover off Ajmal’s bowling. The Pakistan captain held both arms in the air in a v-shape to celebrate the dismissal.

India got a slight boost towards the end as Suresh Raina struck an unbeaten 36 and India accumulated 43 runs in the batting power play taken in the 45th over.


Go For The Burn?  Make Your Life Easier

Source: Matt Bradbury, www.trainmefit.com

Hey - it’s true, at first you are going to be a little sore no matter what.  Some of us may be really sore for that matter!

But nothing great was ever achieved without stepping out of that comfort zone, just a little.  And for you, stepping out of that comfort zone may be taking that first step toward a healthier life!  But you have to understand this before you go any further.  

STOP right there and put down that dumbbell.

We have talked about this before,… going to absolute failure on a set of bicep curls at the gym does not necessarily make you stronger, healthier, or fitter.  (with the emphasis being on “healthier” here at TrainMeFit).

[Muscular Failure: performing an exercise until you cannot possibly do another repetition]

The research doesn’t lie.  

Someone who can only perform a set of 10 push-ups as their max can still receive benefits if they only do a set of 8 push-ups.  (As a set of 10 push-ups may mean someone fully exerting themselves to their max).

What we mean by this is you do not have to “go for the burn” (as advertised on TV) to get something out of an exercise.  Though many of us still have a love/hate relationship with the burn - otherwise we feel like we are not being effective.

Researchers Drinkwater et al (2005) found no significant differences between sportsmen going to muscular failure and those going to non-muscular failure when comparing the bench press exercise over the course of a 6 week trial.

This other group of dudes (Sanborn et al, 2000) actually followed 17 woman without any experience in resistance training.  The ladies trained 3 times per week for 8 weeks and they actually found the group that didn’t go to muscular failure got slightly stronger than the group that did.  WOW!

So with all this being said - what do we actually want to take home with us?
- Using the muscular failure method to bust through plateaus is okay
- Using it to set a new personal rep record for the day is okay too
- You do not have to perform a set until you cannot possibly do any more reps to still reap the benefits of strength training (this is great for the majority of us who have a full time life too, since it can save us from being more sore than we need to be)
- ideally: use the muscular failure method in one or two exercises at the beginning of a workout (Medrano, 2010)

Next time you leave the gym you do not have to feel wrecked to feel you have been effective!

Medrano, I.
  Muscular failure training in conditioning neuromuscular programs.  Journal of Human Sport and Exercise online.  Volume 5 Number 2 May 2010.

Diminishing returns and food variety.

When you first get something new - you are attached at the hip!  Literally.

Take for example when you got your new cell phone - if you were like me you probably carried it everywhere and searched out all the latest and greatest apps.  But what if you had gotten 3 of the same phone at once?

Ya - 3 iPhones all at once.  It really would not make much difference.  After the first one the novelty wore off.  Besides - there is just no way you could use all 3 at once.

When something is new or different we want it and crave it (i.e.. Food)!

So what about the food on your plate?

Well, the more variety you have on your plate the more you eat.  The stimulation of new food allows you to sample each food and receive some benefit from trying each.  So if you put; shrimp, chicken, peas, corn, garlic bread, sweet potatoes, and french fries all on your plate you are likely to eat some of each.  And CONSUME MORE OVERALL CALORIES.

So the trick is, or the just of this, is to LIMIT variety for overall fat loss.

Exception: vegetables and fruit.

Still encourage yourself to pack your cart with produce at the grocery store.  But when it comes to 3 varieties of crackers, 2 types of cookies, 3 different cheeses, and 5 brands of cola in your shopping cart - get real - how do you expect to get healthy eating like this?

If you encourage yourself to eat the basics and to not have all that extra stimulation in your cupboards at home, your fat loss goals will be reached much sooner!  

Researchers actually found that people consumed less calories overall when food variety was kept to a minimum (Raynor et al, 2005).

Stick to the basics: vegetables, fruit, lean meat/protein, and nuts - and you won’t go wrong.  Sure it makes for a pretty simple selection.  But which is it?  Your waistline (aka. Lifeline) or excitement of constant stimulation to the brain with each new ice cream flavour?

And just for laughs - the only other exception to the law of diminishing returns - owning multiple four legged friends.

Exponential returns of love and affection with each new addition.  ;-)

Raynor, HA., Jeffery, RW., Phelan, S., Hill, JO., Wing, RR.  Amount of food group variety consumed in the diet and long-term weight loss maintenance.  Obesity Research.  May 2005; 13(5): 883-90

Waistline aka. Lifeline - Thanks Jack Lalanne


In a world in which demographic growth and progress in communications have put us in very close contact with our neighbors, the very survival of humanity depends on our working together. That is why more than ever, we must look upon humanity as one entity. The problems that we face go beyond individuals and nations. We can only resolve them through an effort of shared responsibility.