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May 12, 2011

Can you feel it?  Yup, the warmer weather is slowly breaking in and hopefully it will be bright and sunny for our long Victoria Day weekend next weekend. Know what that means?  The smile that reaches your face when you wake up and it's a sunny and warm day, summer festivals, outdoor concerts, more long weekends, vacations, sunning, swimming and the list goes on and on.  I, for one, can't wait!

Check out the article on
Bob Marley in TOP STORIES below as a tribute to his passing 30 years ago.  I can hardly believe it's been that long!  But his legacy lives on as I know many of you feel a connection to his values, tenacity, vision and music.

Don't miss out on the diverse entertainment news this week so get on to it and have a read of your weekly entertainment news.

Once again, there is lots of entertainment news this week so I'm going to let you get right to it!  Take a scroll and a read of your weekly entertainment news.


Bob Marley, Then And Now

Source: www.thestar.com - By Garry Steckles

(May 06, 2011) Thirty years after he left us, at least in the physical sense, its easy to forget that Bob Marley used to be regarded with enormous suspicion by the more conservative members of society, whether that society happened to be in Jamaica, England, the United States or a Canadian city that was trying to distance itself from the indignity of being scorned, from sea to shining sea, as Toronto the Good.

Let me take you back to the old Gardens, on College Street, the hockey shrine in which the Leafs actually won a few Stanley Cups. The year is 1978, and Marley, who is touring North America in support of his Kaya album, is taking a break from sound-check chores to sit down for a backstage interview with an up-and-coming young television personality.

After an opening exchange of pleasantries, it becomes obvious that Sandie Rinaldo is out to do a hatchet job on Marley and on Rastafarians in general. Which, strange as it may seem more than three decades later, was not particularly surprising in Toronto in the 70s. Were talking an era in which one of Canadas great newspapers (this one) carried a police top ten most-wanted list in which the description of one of the villains included the information that he was a Rastafarian. There was no mention, needless to say, of the religious affiliations, if they had any, of the other nine.

After introducing Marley positively and listing some of his achievements, Rinaldo quickly shifted gears and started to bombard him with aggressive questions that, today, sound almost bizarre. She told him, among other things, that Rastafarians have a very bad reputation among the upstanding citizens of Toronto, that Jamaicans were notorious for being involved in the trafficking of marijuana and that his appearance (and these are her exact words) was quite strange. Marley, despite looking at first bemused and then as though he could cheerfully strangle the glacial white woman who was trying to sandbag him, fielded the questions adroitly; hed had plenty of experience of dealing with journalists trying to goad him into saying something hed regret and which would give them a snazzy headline or a lively sound bite.

Things change. Sometimes for the better.

Fast forward just over three decades, the worlds a different place and Torontos a different city. You can get a beer in a bar on a Sunday, and Toronto the Good has evolved into a multi-racial, multicultural, multi-everything metropolis in which Caribbean culture flourishes, hand in hand with dozens of others. Its a city where, on February 6, Marleys birthday, the mayor of the moment has, for the past 20 years, proclaimed it to be officially Bob Marley Day and invited Torontonians of all backgrounds to celebrate the music, the message and the legacy of the King of Reggae.

And its a city in which, on
May 11, just four days away, a lot of tears will be shed as we mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Robert Nesta Marley.

A lot of music will be played, too.

Music like No Woman No Cry. Crazy Baldhead. Exodus. Positive Vibration. Trenchtown Rock. Slave Driver. Burnin and Lootin. Concrete Jungle. Rebel Music (3 OClock Roadblock). Them Belly Full (But We Hungry). I Shot The Sheriff. Kinky Reggae. Midnight Ravers. Natty Dread. Talkin Blues. Lively Up Yourself. Get Up, Stand Up. Want More. Roots, Rock, Reggae. Rat Race. War. No More Trouble. Rastaman Chant. Is This Love? Jammin. Easy Skanking. Africa Unite. Johnny Was. One Drop.

Its worth listing so many songs not only because for tens of thousands of reggae fans, each one of them is as familiar as Marleys aquiline features, arguably the best-known in the history of the world, but also because theyre all among the numbers he performed during his four visits to Toronto.

Marley played here first on June 8, 1975, during a landmark tour in support of Natty Dread, the first album recorded as Bob Marley and the Wailers after the departure of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the other core members of the original group, to pursue individual careers. Like just about every other show on that historic tour, the Wailers performance at Massey Hall was a huge success, and a prelude to one of Marleys most momentous concerts. The tour wound up with a handful of shows in England, one of which, at Londons Lyceum Ballroom on July 18 tickets cost 1.50 resulted in the release of a live version of No Woman No Cry, the hit that catapulted Marley from being a huge star in the Caribbean with something of a cult following in North America and Europe to international superstar.

The following year, despite the fact Marley and the Wailers were about to be honoured as Band of the Year by Rolling Stone magazine (in those days the arbiter of what was hot in pop music), Marley was still playing modest-sized venues in most cities. His second visit to Toronto was to the U of Ts Convocation Hall, where he did two shows on the evening of May 5, 1976, early in his Rastaman Vibration tour. The tour was memorable for many reasons, not the least of them being that it brought together one of the most dynamic incarnations of the Wailers oft-changing line-ups, with Earl Chinna Smith and Donald Kinsey on guitar, Earl Wya Lindo and Tyrone Downie on keyboards, Aston Family Man Barrett on bass and Carlton Carly Barrett on drums.

There would be some eventful turns in Bob Marleys life before he returned to Toronto in June of 1978 and not all of them were positive.

When Marley flew back to Jamaica in the early fall of 1976 after winding up the Rastaman Vibration tour, he found his island under a state of emergency, which had been declared in the wake of a deadly outbreak of political violence among supporters of the then-prime minister Michael Manley and his bitter rival Edward Seaga, leader of the opposition. Marley decided to organize a huge outdoor concert in the cause of unity, and it was scheduled for December 5. But two days before the Smile Jamaica concert, as it was called, a gang of gunmen found their way into Marleys Kingston home and headquarters at 56 Hope Road and started shooting at the terrified musicians and friends during a break in rehearsals for the big show.

Astonishingly, no one was killed, but four people, including Marley, were hit by bullets. The concert went on, with Marley defiantly brandishing a wounded arm in front of a huge crowd in Kingstons National Heroes Park, but after it he decided Jamaica was just too dangerous. To this day, no one knows the identities of the men who carried out the attack, and the fear at the time was that they would try again. Marley and the Wailers went into a lengthy exile in London, where they recorded the historic Exodus album in 1977 and where the cancer that would eventually kill him was first diagnosed.

Marley was told he had melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, in the big toe of his right foot, which had stubbornly refused to heal after being injured during a soccer match. In accordance with his Rastafarian beliefs, he refused to have the foot amputated and instead had a skin-graft operation in Miami, with the big toenail being removed along with the cancerous tissue next to it, which was replaced by skin from his thigh area. The operation appeared to be a success, and Marley, after recuperating in London for several months, was persuaded to return to Jamaica to appear at what would be the most momentous of his many epic performances: The One Love Concert for Peace in Kingstons National Stadium on April 22 of 1978.

This time, despite considerable tension and a massive presence of armed soldiers and police, there were no violent incidents, and Marley, headlining a remarkable array of the stars of reggaes great roots era, brought Manley and Seaga on stage to clasp hands with him during an electric rendition of Jammin.

A few weeks later, Marley was back on tour, this time in support of Kaya, and on June 9 he returned to Toronto but this time it wasnt to a small, cosy venue. The Wailers were now one of the worlds biggest live attractions, and despite the suspicion that may still have existed among the more conservative elements of Toronto society, their concert had to be at Maple Leaf Gardens. They returned to the Gardens on November 1 of 1979, this time in support of the Survival album and no one, perhaps least of all Marley, had any inkling that this would be his last visit to Toronto.

A talented athlete and a fitness fanatic, Marley had started to appear a
little gaunt, and was complaining of terrible headaches. Pictures of the Wailers taken in London in 1980 show him looking almost haggard, and in the early autumn of that year, soon after the Uprising tour had taken him to the US after setting attendance records that still stand in Europe, he collapsed while jogging in New Yorks Central Park. A New York neurologist delivered a harsh diagnosis: Marleys cancer, which he thought had been cured, had spread through his body to his brain, and he had only a few weeks to live. All but one of the remaining tour dates (he had been due to play in Toronto in October) were cancelled, and Marleys final concert, on September 23, was in Pittsburgh. After it, he broke the news to the Wailers that he was dying.

Perhaps driven by his ghetto toughness, Bob Marley survived for many
months longer than the New York brain specialist had predicted. He was taken to the Bavarian Alps, where he was treated by a controversial cancer specialist, Josef Issels, but became gradually frailer until it was decided, in early May of 1981, that he would go home to Jamaica to die. He made it as far as Miami, where doctors said he was too weak to survive another flight, and he died in his sleep in the Cedars of Lebanon hospital on the morning of May 11, 1981, a few minutes after drinking some carrot juice given to him by his mother, Cedella, and telling her Im going to take a rest now. He was 36.

Judy Mowatt, who as a member of the I-Three backup vocal trio had toured the world with Marley for years, was in Jamaica that morning, and says she knew the exact moment that the man she thought of as a brother had left her:

It was broad daylight, and there was this great, huge thunder in the heavens. And a flash of lightning came through the house. It came through a window and lodged for about a second on Bobs picture. We didnt know at the time, the radio stations hadnt gotten the news officially to announce it, but people could know that something had happened and that the heavens were really responding to a great force being taken away from the physical place of the earth.

Since his death, in Toronto and throughout the world, Marley has been elevated to a level of fame and adoration that would almost certainly have taken this essentially modest and unassuming man, who never lost sight of his country and ghetto roots, by surprise. No matter where you happen to be in the world, its just about impossible to go a day without running into Bob Marley in some shape or form or hearing one of his songs, by Marley himself or one of the countless cover versions. The most pervasive examples of Marleys visual presence are the hundreds perhaps thousands, its impossible to count given the number of bootlegs of Marley T-shirts. But his image also appears on, among other things: postage stamps, belts, hats, shoes, wallets, postcards, bumper stickers, wall hangings, posters, hoodies, track suits, drinking glasses, jigsaw puzzles, hand towels, blankets, bicycle shirts, iPod covers, London buses, cosmetic bags, necklaces, shorts, incense packages, beach towels, dog tags . . .

Marleys One Love was chosen by the British Broadcasting Corporation as the anthem for their programs to mark the end of the last millennium, his 1977 Exodus was named by Time magazine as the greatest album ever recorded, he became the first reggae artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was honoured with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Grammy, and in late 1999, when the New York Times decided to bury a time capsule under its head office in Manhattan, not to be unearthed until the end of this millennium, the video chosen as an example of the popular culture of the 20th century wasnt of the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Fela Kuti, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Luciano Pavarotti or Elvis Presley; it was a 1977 Bob Marley concert at Londons Rainbow Theatre.

Abel Bekele hadnt been born when Bob Marley died. But Marleys music has played a huge role in the life of the young Ethiopian singer, who handles most of the reggae vocals at an African nightspot in oil-rich Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. Bekeles repertoire is heavy on Marley numbers, and he speaks of the late King of Reggae with a mix of reverence and awe.

In Ethiopia, he says, every person knows him. Every person, from young people to old. And, says Bekele, he was surprised and delighted when he discovered that things were not much different when he came to work in Abu Dhabi about a year ago. Arab people love him, Asian people love him, and when I do my Marley songs they sing them with me, says Bekele.

Bob Marley is everywhere.

Garry Steckles, a former senior editor at the Toronto Star, is the author of Bob Marley: A Life, the first in a Macmillan Caribbean series of biographies of outstanding Caribbean people.

More than one love

Bob Marleys best-known songs, on the nine studio albums he made for Island Records, are a fraction of his recorded output from 1962 to 1980. Following are 10 of the very best that werent part of the Island catalogue:

Simmer Down (1964). This ska scorcher was the Wailers first big hit. It was cut at Studio One in the summer of 1964 at their first recording session as a group. An instant No.1 hit in Jamaica, it sounds as vibrant today as it did all those years ago. Musical history.

One Love (1965). A very, very different early version of the Marley classic that everyone knows and loves. Again in a ska tempo.

Nice Time (1967). One of the first hits on the Wailers own Wail N Soul M label. How this lovely and hugely popular melody slipped through the Island net remains a mystery.

All In One (1971). An hypnotic melange of snatches of nine of the songs that were Jamaican hits during the Wailers time with the wildly eccentric and quite brilliant producer Lee Scratch Perry.

African Herbsman (1971). A reggae version of the great Richie Havens number, also with Perrys unmistakable hand at the controls.

Trench Town Rock (1971). The song Marley would often use to start his live performances, a No. 1 for five solid months on the Jamaican charts and a prototype of the loping, mid-tempo reggae that would become his stock-in-trade.

Screw Face (1971). A little-known gem in the same tempo as Trench Town Rock.

Rainbow Country (1975).
A jazzy, scatty, catchy showcase for Marleys vocal brilliance.

Jah Live (1975). Recorded and released within days of reports reaching Jamaica of the death of Ethiopias Emperor Haile Selassie I, the man Rastafarians worship as a living god. And simply gorgeous.

Smile Jamaica (1976 four versions, two recorded at Lee Perrys Black Ark studio, two at Harry Js). Another jazzy vehicle for Marley to stretch his remarkable pipes.

Kardinal Says Junos Showed 'Utter Disrespect' For Drake With Awards Snub

Source: By Nick Patch, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press 

(May 7, 2011) TORONTO - Toronto rapper
Kardinal Offishall says the Juno Awards showed "utter disrespect" for Drake by snubbing the multi-platinum rapper after he agreed to host their show.

Drake came into the March 27 Juno bash armed with a leading six nominations, but went home empty-handed.

"To me, that's just utter disrespect," Kardinal said on Friday morning during an interview in Toronto, where he was preparing for a free public performance over the weekend.

"He had one of the biggest years ever in rap history as far as being a Canadian, they have him hosting the entire thing that just looks terrible on them more than him."

"It makes absolutely no sense. There's nothing more that he possibly could have done within his career. He sold a gang of records, had great success, has a huge fan base, and then he comes, he hosts the whole thing, and to me, it's disrespect, what they did. Absolute disrespect."

After the show, a Junos organizer admitted that he, too, was surprised that Drake was shut out, but pointed out that the show uses a complex system of member and jury voting to determine winners, and thus the decision was out of organizers' hands.

Still, the snub was unusual recent Junos hosts Shania Twain, Nelly Furtado and Celine Dion hauled in a combined 12 awards in the years they steered the telecast.

Drake hasn't spoken about the result and continued to put in an enthusiastic performance as host even after it was clear he wasn't going to win.

"I thought he handled it really well," said Kardinal, who has won three Junos and has been nominated 11 times.

"The end of the night came and he still was in good spirits and did his thing. 'Cause in all honesty, I don't know, I just thought that was atrocious. But unfortunately, this is the good ol' Canadian system that we have here, where they think somehow that's possibly acceptable."

Kardinal also pointed out that the show's performance line-up which included Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and Sarah McLachlan didn't find room for any hip-hop or R&B artists, which he said "made no sense." A Juno spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the line-up.

Despite his quibbles, Kardinal said he enjoyed Juno night anyway.

"I showed up and smiled and actually had a good time after a couple drinks."

The 34-year-old rapper was in Toronto in part to perform a free outdoor show on Saturday in Dundas Square as part of Coca Cola's 125th anniversary celebrations.

He's still hard at work on his long-gestating fifth studio album, "Mr. International." He's recorded collaborations with Akon, Estelle and T-Pain and says the new disc will feature production from Grammy-nominated Ajax, Ont., beat-maker Boi-1da.

He's now aiming to release the record in the summer or early fall. But given that he's been working on some of these tracks for years, how has he stayed interested in the material?

"By making good music," he responds, laughing. "I really just try to make timeless music. The mistake I feel a lot of artists make is they think about the sound of today ... but when you're an innovator, you're always a couple years ahead.

"For me, it works to your advantage and also to your disadvantage, because sometimes people, it takes a while for them to catch on. ... (But) to me, that's dope. I love being an innovator and coming up with sounds that people have never heard of before."

Canadian Duo Choose NBA Over College

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Michael Grange

(May 09, 2011) There is no going back.

Last night was the deadline for players who had declared themselves eligible for the
NBA draft to stay in or pull out.

After dipping their toe in the NBA waters there was an opportunity to withdraw and keep their college eligibility.

But as the clock struck both Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph - the Toronto-area freshmen who helped lift the University of Texas to a No.3 ranking at one point this season - kept their names in the game.

Of the two Thompson's decision came as no surprise [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/basketball/thompson-declares-for-the-draft/article1995399]. He had a fantastic rookie season in the Big 12, probably the best freshman year a Canadian has ever had in NCAA basketball. A 6-foot-8, 235-pound power forward with NBA-calibre athleticism who earned plaudits for how hard he played, Thompson is a lock to go in the first round and earn the guaranteed contract that comes with it. The only question is whether he sneaks into the lottery or not; he's currently rated [http://www.draftexpress.com/rankings/top-100-prospects] 14th best prospect in the draft. It's expected he's going to be represented by Leon Rose, a powerful NBA agent who also represents LeBron James, among other top names.

As his mother said in a Toronto Star story [http://www.thestar.com/sports/basketball/article/987452-mom-s-the-word-for-gta-hoops-stars], "dollars got to run" - the Jamaican version of take the money and run. Another year of college might have improved Thompson - but given the quality of player development that most NBA teams have in place these days he will develop more in the pros - but also carried with it the risk of injury or the possibility that NBA scouts would pick apart his game and in a stronger draft class his stock could fall, rather than rise.

The surprise to some was Joseph leaving too. He also had a stellar freshman season, but didn't quite put himself on the national radar the way Thompson did - one respected draft evaluation site has him ranked [http://www.draftexpress.com/rankings/top-100-prospects] No.74 among pro prospects; a concern given only 60 players get drafted. He's widely regarded as a heady, team-first competitor and he can shoot the ball well enough. But while he's an awesome athlete by any reasonable standard - having seen him play in person in high school the speed with which he advances the ball on the dribble is eye-popping - the NBA standard for point guard athleticism is off the charts right now.

Derrick Rose, John Wall. Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison, Mike Conley, Brandon Jennings and Lou Williams are on a short list of NBA point guards who could be training for gold medals in one event or another but instead are giving guys like Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon whiplash; and that's without considering some of the best in the game: Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Steph Curry, Steve Nash....the list goes on.

The position is as deep as it's ever been, and in a weak draft Joseph is at best considered a second-round pick, which means he isn't guaranteed anything except an invitation to training camp. There's a real possibility he won't get drafted at all.

So is Joseph making a mistake?

Perhaps it depends on your view of big-time college basketball.

If you're of the mind that it's about developing well-rounded people who pursue twin goals of academic excellence and athletic development in an environment where the individual grows into a citizen, comfortable mingling with the leaders of tomorrow in a wide-range of fields and possibly meeting a future spouse, all while guided by thoughtful and well-meaning coaching staff that has the player's best interests at heart, then maybe staying in college is the right choice for anyone.

But if you're conscious that big-time college basketball is essentially a racket and otherwise a holding pen for pros-to-be. A place where lifting your game to a professional standard can be held back by inferior coaching (compared to what can be provided on a quality NBA staff) and NCAA stipulations that players can only train 20 hours a week and not at all (formally) in the off-season and that an athlete's own goals might be compromised by the needs of the team or promises the self-serving head coach has made to other recruits; and that instead of a well-rounded college experience you basically spend all of your time with other basketball players and in the meantime have these pesky academic obligations to pay lip service too, then getting out of college sooner is better.

For Thompson it all makes sense. No Canadian has ever been taken higher than Steve Nash, who was drafted 15th overall in 1996. Thompson would be the first Canadian taken in the first round since Toronto big man Jamaal Magloire (now with the Miami Heat) was chosen 19th in 2000.

It's a choice that certainly carries some risk for Joseph. While a big man like Thompson will always be insulated by his size - somewhere on this earth he will be able to make money playing basketball unless he shrinks or is badly injured - Joseph's position is supremely competitive. There are a lot of athletic six-footers who want the same job he does.

But consider his options: stay at Texas where incoming freshman and fellow Torontonian Myck Kabongo would almost certainly push him from point guard to shooting guard and delay his professional aspirations that much further? Or declare himself a professional at 19 and then choose the best course to navigate his way into the NBA?

Perhaps that's the last spot on an NBA roster learning his craft on the practice court and in pre-game shoot-arounds while watching how the best in the world do it from the best seat in the arena and drawing a healthy NBA rookie minimum salary for the trouble. Maybe it's playing in the NBA Development league, facing better competition than he would in college and drawing a modest pay cheque (though more than he would get in college) along the way, all the while remaining a phone call away from an NBA roster.

Maybe it's a season or two in Europe, earning money and learning the ropes of the professional game over there.

All are possible paths for Joseph now that he's turned his back on college basketball; none come with any certain destination.

But just because he's left Texas doesn't mean Joseph won't be going to school; its just now he'll be earning a graduate degree in professional basketball.

Braxtons Make It A Family Affair

Source: by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

(May 4, 2011) Six-time Grammy Award winner Toni Braxton is ready for reality with a new show, Braxton Family Values. Although Braxton has sold more than 40 million records worldwide, the road has not been easy for the singer: She filed for bankruptcy and was diagnosed with lupus. Starting a new project, the bickering Braxtons are letting it all hang out on WEtv this spring. Three of the TsToni, Trina and Tamartalked talent and toothpaste on the telephone.

See an episode below and at 9 mins. in, you will see Torontos own
Kayte Burgess!

Windy City Times: Hi, ladies. When did this idea of doing a reality show start?

Tamar: I knew since about 2007, maybe 2008. I asked my sisters and they said, "No you're tripping, absolutely not," especially Toni was not interested. It took awhile but she decided that it's time for her to tell her own story and we convinced her into doing it. So here we are.

Windy City Times: Toni, were you worried about how you would be portrayed on a reality show?

Toni: A little bit I have to be honest, yes. But then I said, "I'm just going to let people see the side of me they haven't seen." I want them to see me as a sister and a mom. I wasn't trying to be a diva or keep it up on the glam side. I can always do that on stage. So it's important to me that I display another side of me.

Tamar: We all realized that we all had a story to tell. Trina had her thing with her husband, she went down the wrong path and Toni, her financial and health situation, and myself trying to balance being a wife, trying to launch... Toni is making fun of me right now, my superstarism

Trina: Life goes on.

Tamar: ...life goes on, decisions that she made when she was a teenager she has to live with them now as an adult. We thought that it would definitely make a difference in someone's life that they can take with them and apply it to theirs.

Windy City Times: I saw the part with you, Tamar, talking about Lady Gaga to your husband. Are you a fan of Gaga?

Toni: Gaga is signed to Tamar's husband's record label. He actually discovered her. I hate to say "discovered," like she wasn't there. So she's like family. She's like another little Braxton sister. Tamar sings stuff with her all the time but she's been doing things on her album. Like the single that's out, "Born That Way," that's Tamar you hear in the background.

Tamar: "Born This Way."

Toni: "Born This Way." Sorry, Gaga.

Tamar: In the clip, in my defense and in Gaga's defense, I wasn't saying anything negative towards her. I was just saying if I'm good enough to sing background then I'm good enough to sing the hook or a duet.

Windy City Times: Amen.

Tamar: Whoa. We love you.

Windy City Times: You have been through a lot, Toni, with debilitating illness, marital separation and bankruptcy. How is that covered on the show?

Toni: My marriage I don't talk about on the show. That is not even an option because I have a special-needs son and I don't want him to know what is going on with mom and dad's life unless he hears it from us. Of all my sisters you'll find I'm still the one that's still aloof but for me it was more of a platform of telling my story. In addition to that hanging out, having fun with my sisters and you will see a different side of me. You will hardly ever see me, Toni Braxton as the singer. That's not something I portray in the show at all.

Windy City Times: So behind the scenes.

Toni: Yes, I got my jammies and a T-shirt, and I have toothpaste on my acne trying to dry it up. I wasn't trying to be pretentious, not that I am, but I wasn't trying to be an artist at all unless I was on the stage. You see a distinct difference because we shot a few shows during the taping.

Windy City Times: Would you ever make a whole album together like the Jacksons?

Tamar: Will we ever make a Braxtons album? Let's see. Well, we had a Braxton single out. Was it in 1990?

Trina: It was 1990.

Tamar: We sold three copies to my mom, my dad and my grandma. So I don't know. We're a little sceptical about it. People are in different place in their lives so I don't know. We're talking about it. We'll see what happens.

Toni: I think we'll probably end up in the end doing at least a single.

Windy City Times: How is your relationship with your father?

Trina: It's a work in progress. We're working on mending and healing.

Toni: It's just challenging for us because our dad was such a focal point for our family when our parents were married and now they're divorced. And my dad got remarried and unfortunately when he divorced my mom he kind of divorced us too.

We want people to see that every family goes through changes. We're just one of many families. We hope that we can heal ourselves.

Windy City Times: Toni, I have always wanted to ask you, how do you feel about your gay fans?

Toni: Oh my God, I want to say thank you boys for showing me how to be more fabulous and making me a better girl!

"Un-Break" Toni's heart and watch her show that recently debuted on Tuesday nights. Visit http:// www.wetv.com for listings and details.


Audio: Lady Gaga's 'Edge of Glory' Single Premieres, 'Hair' Coming Next Week

Source: www.billboard.com - by Jason Lipshutz, N.Y.

(May 9, 2011) 
Lady Gaga gave her Little Monsters another preview of her new album, "Born This Way," by releasing the racing advance single "The Edge of Glory" online today (May 9), with another single, "Hair," set for release next Monday (May 16). "The Edge of Glory" digital track was released exclusively to iTunes, while streaming audio of the song was posted on the pop star's VEVO channel.

Like first single "Born This Way," "The Edge of Glory" leans upon sunny electronica that ramps up during its anthemic chorus, and while "Glory" also glorifies risk-taking, it's focused on romance rather than individual inspiration. "I need a man that thinks it's right when it's so wrong tonight, yeah baby, tonight, yeah baby/Right on the limits where we know we both belong tonight," Gaga sings in the opening verse. "Glory" also features a nifty instrumental breakdown showcasing a bluesy saxophone solo that begins at the three-minute mark.

Gaga announced the release of "The Edge of Glory" and showcased the single artwork, which shows the singer prying her mouth open, on Twitter yesterday. Interscope has also revealed that "Hair" will hit iTunes at the same time next Monday, with the full "Born This Way" album arriving one week later. Fans who have purchased all of the "Born This Way" singles can use the Complete My Album feature in iTunes to buy the full-length at a reduced price.

"The Edge of Glory's" debut comes less than a week after the biblically- and biker-inspired music video for "Born This Way's" second single, "Judas," was unveiled online. The track drops to No. 20 in its third week on the Hot 100.

Cornell Dupree, R&B Guitarist, Dies at 69

Source: www.billboard.com - by Jason Lipshutz, N.Y.

(May 10, 2011) 
Cornell Dupree, a prolific session guitarist in jazz, R&B and funk, died at 69 in Fort Worth, Tex. on Sunday (May 8). According to Variety, Dupree had recently been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Texas-born musician was originally discovered by King Curtis, who brought him to New York to serve as guitarist in the King Curtis Band in 1962. Dupree began backing greats like Sam Cooke, Roberta Flack and Fats Domino, and can be heard playing guitar on Aretha Franklin's "Respect" and on Brook Benton's "Rainy Night in Georgia."

Dupree eventually served as the guitarist in Franklin's touring band from 1967 to 1976, and formed the instrumental funk band Stuff in the mid-70s. Starting with 1974's "Teasin'," Dupree released 10 solo albums, including the Grammy-nominated "Coast to Coast" in 1988.

Dupree, whose nicknames included "Uncle Funky" and "Mr. 2500," is survived by his wife, Erma.

Audio: 'Glee' Star Matthew Morrison's Debut Album: Track-by-Track Review

Source: www.billboard.com - by Monica Herrera, N.Y. 

(May 10, 2011) As the first "Glee" cast member to release a solo album, you'd
think Matthew Morrison -- who plays glee club teacher Will Schuester on the hit show  -- would be feeling some pressure right about now. But the Broadway vet-turned-TV star and solo artist doesn't show any nerves on his self-titled debut, which follows through on his goal to merge classing crooning with "eclectic" pop. 

For his first effort, Morrison recruited the iconic Elton John and Sting for standout duets, and his sometime-"Glee" love interest Gwyneth Paltrow for a reprise of "Over the Rainbow." In other words, if, like Emma Pillsbury on "Glee," you're wild about Will Schuester's romancing and impeccably placed locks, this album was made for you.  

How does "Matthew Morrison" measure up? Here's our Twitter-length track-by-track review of each song.

You be the judge: Want to see your take on "Matthew Morrison" published on Billboard.com? Tweet us your own review at @billboarddotcom (using hashtag #bbmrschue). The best tweets will be posted on Billboard.com in the coming days.

1. "Summer Rain" -- Who needs lover's lane when there's a rainy rooftop to make love on? Most people, actually, but go ahead w/your bad self, Mr. Sch- er, Matt.

2. "Still Got Tonight" -- Guitars rev up for this seductive rock ballad boasting raspy vocals. When he sings this to Emma next week, hearts everywhere will melt.

3. "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot" feat. Sting -- Sting and Matthew go together like Santana and Britt on this easygoing, piano-based duet that crescendos nicely w/ a choir and full band. 

4. "My Name" -- Sluggish, semi-clichd take on the pitfalls of fame. "All this love surrounds me, but I'm still alone...that part is only part of me." Next!

5. "Hey" -- Setting aside the fact that Matthew needs no introduction, Bruno Mars fans will dig this track's sweet reggae rhythm & flirtatious ooh oohs.

6. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" feat. Gwyneth Paltrow -- Welcome back, Gwyneth! Can't go wrong with this cover, especially the ukulele version. Lovely when he did it on "Glee," & still is. 

7. "Dancing in the Rain" -- Hello, throbbing bassline - fancy meeting you here! I'll take the welcome dose of adrenaline, but what's with all this shilling for rain?

8. "It Don't Matter to the Sun" -- Matthew dials it down - way down - for this last-ditch effort to save a relationship. If he sang this to us, we'd reconsider - just saying. 

9. "Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters"/"Rocket Man" feat. Elton John -- You know you're hot when you score Elton -- & two of his classics, to boot -- for your album. Only problem: how to match his epic vocals?

10. "It's Over" -- And so it is. We close out with sombre piano, strings and classic crooning about love lost. Schue says: Class dismissed!

Gospel was Next for Nate Dogg

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 7, 2011) *News recently immerged that Long Beach legend
Nate Dogg had his eyes and heart set on Gospel music before his death on March 15.

He was a child of God and he was raised in the church. He had just started work with Gospel groups, Warren G told HipHopDX. He was getting into Gospel music and there wasnt going to be no more I got hoes [Nate Doggs chorus on Ludacriss Area Codes. He was going to the church side of music. He brought people from the church to my studio and had them singing on one of my tracks. We didnt finish it.

Warren G also mentioned that he will continue to build on his friends legacy and release some of his unreleased songs, following the release of his upcoming EP with the passed on Hip Hop icon.

The album will hit shelves this summer.

Chrysler Credits Eminem Ad with Boosting Company Profits

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 10, 2011) *Chrysler execs believe their Super Bowl-launched Imported
From Detroit ad campaign starring Eminem has contributed directly to their recent financial boost.

The commercial, which doubles as a tribute to the rappers hometown of Detroit, features Eminem cruising the city in a new Chrysler 200, with his 8 Mile hit Lose Yourself  as the soundtrack. At the end of the ad, he says, This is Motor City. This is what we do. [
Scroll down to watch.]

The campaign appears to have worked wonders for Chryslers struggling accounts. The company posted figures showing their first profitable quarter since they filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

Executives revealed they made $116 million in profits for the first three months of 2011, compared to the $197 million net loss during the same period in 2010.

Chrysler head Richard Palmer says the Eminem spot clearly had a fairly big impact also on market levels, with (the) Eminem Super Bowl ad being extremely well-viewed on YouTube.

Eminem isnt the only big name to represent Chrysler; his mentor Dr. Dre has signed up to star in the upcoming Chrysler 300 campaign.

Freshly Appealing, Yet Classically Sloanish, After All These Years

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(May 6, 2011) Twenty years of one chord to another, sometimes G
turning to D, but not always. The Double Cross, Sloan's peppy new rock album, refers not to betrayal or deceit, but to the quartet's 10th studio release in its two-decades - the roman numeral XX, like so. In 1991, grunge was being born, the Soviet Union was collapsing, the then-Halifax-based Sloan played its first-ever gig and the federal Liberals were 20 years away from their worst electoral defeat since Confederation.

Speaking of Follow the Leader (the snare-drum-driven, crisply psychedelic album opener), Sloan hasn't one. Hasn't a leader, that is - never has. Which might explain the group's uncommonly successful run and togetherness. Sloan has four songwriters, with almost as many front men. One of them is Chris Murphy, who on Follow the Leader sings hard-learned lessons to a younger generation: "Life is short, so you choose your battles / it's sometimes all you can choose."

The multipart tune segues into Jay Ferguson's sleek and sweet The Answer Was You, which threads into Patrick Pentland's Unkind, a crunchy sort of power pop with guitar harmonies right out of the Fleetwood Mac catalogue. Two tunes later we're at She's Slowing Down Again, the album's strongest and most memorable track. The breezy "bah bah-bah-bah bah-bah" background vocals are a nice touch, and the piano riff is catchy in a Law & Order way.

She's Slowing Down Again is one of two entries from drummer Andrew Scott. It's getting harder and harder to tell the singers apart from each other any more; and all the voices, save for Scott, seem to be oddly rising in pitch as the years pass by. Despite the shared songwriting, the democratic Sloan manages, as always, to produce a cohesive final product. How the band can sound so freshly appealing and yet classically Sloanish after all this time is a bit of a head-scratcher.

The album ends with Laying So Low, which recalls the old tears-in-my-coffee Carly Simon. But it's more of a trailing fade-out compared to the convincing conclusion of the preceding rocker Traces. Here Scott spits in the defiant rhythm of Dylan: "And when I get that feelin', that any mountain's too much to climb / I open my eyes and decide this ain't the first time I tried reliving my original prime." Trying to relive an original prime, Sloan's not the only band (or person for that matter) working on that. It just seems to be better at it than most.

The Double Cross
Outside Music

Sloan plays Winnipeg, May 28; Saskatoon, May 29; Edmonton, May 31; Calgary, June 1; Penticton, B.C., June 2; Vancouver, June 3; Toronto, June 22.

Editor's note: The print version and an earlier version of this story included incorrect information about the distributor. This online version has been corrected.

Paul Simon: A Genial Presence And A Honed Craft

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By James Adams

Paul Simon
At Massey Hall in Toronto on Friday

(May 8, 2011) Of the many fine young singer-songwriters who surfaced between 1964 and 1974,
Paul Simon always seemed the oldest soul of them all. Short, sparse of hair, moon-faced, he had none of Dylan's swagger, Jackson Browne's soulfulness, the acerbity of Warren Zevon. What he had was earnestness, vulnerability, the awareness that a moment in time was just that - that you may be 22 now "but you won't be for long" and "the leaves that are green turn to brown."

Thank God Paul Simon got saved by rhythm, the gospel of which he "preached" to about 3,000 of the faithful Friday evening at Massey Hall. Backed by a supple eight-member band, several of whom doubled and tripled on sundry instruments, Simon - 70 in October - cherry-picked material from pretty much every phase of his long career, including his newly released long-player, So Beautiful or So What, for a two-hour, double-encore audience-pleaser. You left with the feeling that had Simon and crew played an entirely different set of 25 or so songs, the crowd would have been just as satisfied, so vast, varied and beloved is his repertoire.

If the tenor of Simon's voice is now largely a thin, laryngeal croak, the man still has a way with melody, the affecting lyric and rhythmic vivacity that performers 45 years his junior can only envy. It's generally assumed that Simon got baptized in rhythm around 1985 when he went to South Africa and brought forth the benediction that is Graceland. But, as the Massey Hall gig showed, Simon's fondness for sophisticated syncopation goes back even further, certainly at least to the ska/reggae inflections of 1972's Mother and Child Reunion and the salsa-spiced Late in the Evening from 1980, both of which received fine readings Friday.

Thing is, the concert should have gone on even longer or, failing that, had a few fewer tunes. Nothing wrong with performing covers of George Harrison's Here Comes the Sun, Chet Atkins's Wheels and Jimmy Cliff's Vietnam. But this reviewer left the gig wishing Simon's scintillating band - spiked by Graceland-era bassist Bakithi Kumalo and drummers/percussionists Jim Oblon and Jamey Haddad - had accessed its inner Grateful Dead more frequently and let loose the riddum devils to work up the craziness inherent in, say, The Boy in the Bubble, Zydeco and The Afterlife. The last, in particular, from So Beautiful or So What, seemed to really fire up the octet, and you sensed its streamlined Bo Diddley beat could have lifted both musicians and congregation to delirious heights had its be-bop-a-lula been allowed to whomp-bomp for 10 or 15 minutes.

Dressed in what is now his trademark chapeau, with jeans, T-shirt and light cotton jacket, Simon was a genial presence throughout, occasionally offering a hand gesture or look to emphasize a lyric or riff. He'll never galvanize an audience like Elvis Costello nor seduce like Leonard Cohen; he's just too self-contained, even diffident for that. What impresses, finally, is the man's craft - evident right from the start, in 1965's The Sounds of Silence, which Simon reprised, poignantly, with just voice and acoustic guitar Friday (he's a very rhythmically astute guitarist, by the way). That, and the knack for finding the evocative musical moment. Was there anything more hair-raising (in the good sense) at Massey than Andrew Snitzer's raise-high-the-roof beam tenor-sax bridge on Still Crazy After All These Years? It may even have briefly raised Michael Brecker, who played the original part in 1975, from his grave.

Near the end of the show, Simon told his rapturous audience: "I hope I'll come back many more times." We're hoping the same.

Moby: Finding Inspiration In The Dead Of Night

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Brad Wheeler

(May 10, 2011) May I listen to your baggage, sir?

Moby travels light, his publicist tells me when I ask about the simple backpack in the hotel lobby. But I'm not sure that's the case. Life on the road, as documented by a new album and a book of photography, both called Destroyed, could be described in many ways - queer, electronic, chilly, ambient, antiseptic, still, comforting, euphoric - but not light. So, exactly what does this man carry? A thorny relationship with critics, a nerdish introverted personality and a need to count sheep.

"When I have a rare good night's sleep, it's Christmas, Thanksgiving and my birthday all rolled into one," says Moby, born Richard Melville Hall more than 45 years ago. He's an insomniac: An electro-dance maven whose own circadian rhythm is out of step. Many of the shots in Destroyed, the book of photography, were taken in the dead still of night.

"My insomnia has enabled me to see parts of the world at times when no one else is around," he says, sipping black coffee. "I love the fact that it has enabled me to see incredibly busy parts of the world when they're not busy."

We're speaking - where else? - in a hotel lobby, a place of comings and goings. There's an alertness about Moby on this day in Toronto; he's good-natured, but there's a slight tension underneath.

Moby's photography captures the transitory nature of touring: landscapes and city shots taken from airplane windows and hotel rooms, along with airports and empty hallways. There are concert-crowd shots, but often the images are just a bit off. "When I'm performing, I'm so focused on what I'm doing, I'm not that aware of the crowd," says the near-sighted artist who purposely performs without his glasses. "The audience becomes an ambiguous wash of people."

Destroyed is not Moby's first representation of four-star accommodation. But where the check-in/check-out of 2005's Hotel was an analogy for impermanent relationships, the new album is more concerned with the emotional experience of renting by the night. "Going to an anonymous hotel, checking into an anonymous room, having no contact with anyone," he explains, "it's very appealing and very seductive. But it can make you a little bit crazy."

In an ideal world, Moby would have you listen to Destroyed in a hotel room at 3 a.m. in the morning in the middle of an empty city. "But I'm fully aware that not many people are awake then," he allows, "and if they are, they're probably not going to make the effort to spend 75 minutes listening to a record."

Moby goes on to speak of a hotel room's "hermetic comfort." Now, I'm no clinical therapist and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I have to ask: Is Moby a loner? "Well, I'm an only child," he says. "I'm comfortable by myself, and I do tend to withdraw."

And as for the song The Low Hum, with a line "I'm in love with this isolation" sung serenely by his friend Emily Zuzik, what of that? "Love is a strong word," Moby answers. "But there are empty, anonymous environments that over time I've developed a real appreciation for."

If not isolated, Moby - who's quietly released 10 studio albums - already exists at more than a polite distance from his critics. It's a complicated relationship, one that began with 1999's sublimely-cast and commercially successful Play, an album of earthy blues samples set over soothing, shimmering house music. But when the material began popping up on televisions commercials, the backlash began. (In that regard, history may regard Moby not as a sell-out but an innovator.)

Moby admits to coming off as pretentious at times, but during our interview he reveals a more humble side. "The art world has been surprised that my book isn't terrible," says the lifelong darkroom-enthusiast, familiar in the ways of softening images. "I'll take what I can get."

That same sentiment comes through when asked about the album's reception. "There are a lot of pundits who I think decided quite a while ago that they didn't like me and they didn't like my music," he says, simply. "But some of those pundits are coming around, saying that they expected to hate this record, but that they didn't."

Moby says if that's the best feedback he can get, he's "happy for it." Perhaps his modesty is for public consumption, but who knows. Suffice to say, whatever the critics say about him these days, Moby can't lose any more sleep over it.


Lady Gaga on American Idol

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

(May 06, 2011) Lady Gaga will share her wisdom with American Idol's final four on Wednesday's show.  You may remember that the last time Lady Gaga appeared on American Idol, in Season 9, she was miffed at producers for the way her performance of "Alejandro" was edited. But all is forgiven and also, Gaga has an album to promote, so the superstar will be back next Wednesday to mentor the final four Idol contestants (if you missed who got the boot Thursday, check my recap here).  Gaga is also expected to perform on the May 25 season finale.  Next week, the finalists will be singing the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote their biggest hits in the 1950s and '60s (think Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" and Ben E. King's "Stand by Me"). Way to keep the show current, Idol producers. Fox has also confirmed that judge Steven Tyler's new video, for his first solo single "(It) Feel So Good," will have its world premiere on next Thursday's results show. Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks will perform.

Nina Simone Film Starring Mary J. Blige Finalized

Source: www.thestar.com  

(May 07, 2011) *Yay, the Nina Simone biopic is finally underway after a long delay. The film will star singer Mary J. Blige who will play the role of the jazz legend in the midst of her relationship with assistant Clifton Henderson. Written by Cynthia Mort, the movie has actually been put off for years and just last year, it was sold, financed, and will begin shooting in the fall. Im definitely still doing it and Im in acting classes for it now. We start shooting at the end of the month! the singer told BET.com. Blige is also busy with the film Rock of Ages starring alongside Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin. Im playing Justice Charlier, a gentlemans club owner. Im having so much fun preparing for it, and I know Tom. I love Tom. He just really wants the best for everybody.

Audio: Beyonces Charity Single God Bless the USA

Source: www.thestar.com  

(May 06, 2011) *Beyonces cover of Lee Greenwoods God Bless the USA spremiered last night at the tail end of CNNs Piers Morgan Tonight. As previously reported, the song is available for download on iTunes wwith proceeds going to the New York Police & Fire Widows & Childrens Benefit Fund, established to aid families who lost their loved ones following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. We were all affected by the tragedies of 9/11 and continue to keep the families who lost loved ones close to our hearts, Beyonce said in a statement about the track.


Cancer Graduate Lisa Ray Moves Ahead

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry

(May 07, 2011) Having won her battle against a rare blood cancer, actor Lisa Ray has embarked on a series of new roles.

Among them, her inaugural entrepreneurial venture with a yoga studio set to open in the burbs next weekend.

This is my very first business card; Ive never had one before in my life, because I never knew what to put on it, enthused the Toronto resident showing off the recyclable card identifying her as co-owner/director of Moksha Yoga Brampton, located on the second floor of a commercial building at Queen St. and Dixie Rd., next to the Bramalea City Centre.

The former model and star of films such as Bollywood/Hollywood and Water credits the increasingly popular form of hot yoga which she has practised for a decade with both triggering her diagnosis of multiple myeloma and assisting her recovery from the cancer which is now in remission.

It was during a month-long Moksha teacher training stint in Kerala, India, that Ray began feeling unwell.

It was an intensive experience, two yoga classes a day, and I was having this experience where I wasnt able to get off the floor doing shavasana, she recalled.

At the end of the class Id be lying there for an hour and I realized something was wrong. As a direct result of practising yoga and tuning in, I had to confront my health issues.

Following treatment, which included four months of steroids and chemotherapy and culminated in a stem cell transplant, Ray said she relied on the detoxifying aspects of Moksha which is done in a heated room.

Her longtime dream of owning a Moksha studio is a chance to share a practice she has benefitted from, she said.

Im fascinated by entrepreneurship, Ive always admired it, but to actually walk in those shoes, its a lot of work, said Ray.

She also has several artistic projects in the works, including an acting role in a Canadian short film aimed for the next Toronto International Film Festival and an unscripted, six-part documentary style series shot in India for TLC which she describes as having a Michael Palinesque kind of a twist that will air later this year.

As well, Ray is writing a memoir-style book; will appear on stage for first time since drama school at Luminato in a play about the Taj Mahal; and she will hopefully play a role at the International Indian Film Academy awards here at the end of June.

The fact that she hasnt appeared in a feature film since Cooking With Stella, shot before her sabbatical, may be a result of a new measured approach to her career.

I came out of it with a couple of lists. As much as I enjoy going with the flow and you allow interesting opportunities to come your way, for instance, the yoga studio, at the same time, things are a bit more deliberate. Theres a focus.

I have my list of core values and I make sure whatever I do is aligned with them. Its a very simple recipe: I make sure whatever I do is aligned to fun, relationships are important, and enlightening or sharing in some way. In a weird way the deliberateness allows more freedom in life.

Im still realigning myself. I dont want to overextend myself and Im very conscious of doing that. As soon as a great project lands before me and depending on whether I feel that Ive got the capacity and the time, Ill do it.

I call myself a cancer graduate and I have to now start applying the lessons that I learned. Its very easy to just slide back into your default behaviour and ways of being. So I have to be really conscious of that aspect of life which is just being, not always just doing, and finding that balance.

Ray, who recently turned 39, doesnt allow for regrets about previous choices.Its banked, its done, there was always a logic behind it at that particular time. Now Im moving forward.

Shes sticks to no comment about her personal life but says Im really more eligible than Ive ever been in my life, because Ive experienced everything that Ive wanted to, so there isnt that restlessness that I had for a lot of my life. Im glad I didnt settle down before, but Im very inclined to settle down now.

In search of more freedom and control, Ray is looking to produce her own film and TV projects. She realizes it will take the same tenacity and patience of the yoga studio which is still a dusty construction zone ahead of its scheduled opening.

I truly believe in the power of manifestation and positive affirmation and thats part of what brought me through my health journey. It still is nerve-wracking. (Moksha Brampton) has been delayed once. What can you do? Go in and practice and regain your balance.

Extensive Family Film Picks Up Hot Doc Award

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

(May 06, 2011) A documentary about a Ukrainian supermom whos raising a brood of mixed-raced children received the award for best Canadian feature at the 2011 Hot Docs Festival.

Family Portrait in Black and White, directed by Julia Ivanova, received a $15,000 prize courtesy of the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation. It will have a special screening at Sunday, May 8 at 11 a.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

The film, about the efforts of Olga Nenya to raise 16 abandoned children of different races was described by the Hot Docs jury as an intimate, poetic film.

The Canadian features jury gave an honourable mention to Wiebos War by filmmaker David York about controversial Christian eco-warrior Wiebo Ludwig and his familys decade-long battle against the oil and natural gas industry over the impact its having on their family commune.

The award for best international feature went to Dragonslayer, directed by Tristan Patterson, chronicling the life of Californian skate-punk Skreech. The film received a $10,000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs. The festival jury said it was captivated by a nonhero in a capitalistic, nihilistic society in decline.

Dragonslayer will also receive a special screening on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the ROM Theatre.

The special jury prize for international feature went to The Castle, directed by Massimo DAnolfi. The film goes behind the scenes at Milans Malpensa Airport to expose a society obsessed by fear of terrorism. The film received a $5,000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs.

The jury cited the film for noticing the hardship of a system trapped by its own obsession (with) security, turning a regular terminal into an intrusive checkpoint into Europe.

The international features jury also gave special acknowledgement to Grande Hotel, about the plight of 2,500 people living without water or electricity in a faded hotel in Mozambique and Hell and Back Again, about the recovery of a U.S. Marine sergeant wounded in Afghanistan.

Toronto Filmmaker Finalist For Student Oscar

Source: www.thestar.com - By Linda Barnard

(May 11, 2011) Former Toronto resident
Matt Kazman might want to work on his Oscar speech.

The 22-year-old former Northern Secondary School student has been named a finalist in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 2011 Student Academy Awards competition.

His 22-minute film Flagpole, made for a few thousand dollars while Kazman was studying at New York University he graduated a year ago is an honest, emotional comedy about a lovesick 13-year-old boy dealing with his first sexual stirrings and a crush on a classmate, he said over the phone from New York Wednesday.

Kazman finds out May 20 if he makes the cut to be one of three finalists to go to L.A. for the awards ceremony June 11 at the Academys Samuel Goldwyn Theatre.

It means a lot to me, Kazman said of the nomination. I put a lot of my own self in the movie . . . Its a combination of really tense moments and really funny moments. Its not a straight up comedy; its pretty emotional and honest.

David Thompson, who went on to a small role in the critically acclaimed Win Win with Paul Giamatti, plays the teen.

Kazman praises his young star, but was also proud of the work of two extras: his parents. They came to Long Island from their home in Toronto to shoot for a day, playing parents onscreen.

They only had one minute of screen time, but it was a great experience because it let them really see me in action, added Kazman. And I got to direct my parents, which was such a weird experience because theyre not actors, but they brought their A game and even did a bit of improv, which ended up in the film.

Kazman, who works in the video department on Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark on Broadway, said he plans to continue making movies.

I do want to direct, he said.

Robert Redford: The Last Of The Hollywood Good Guys

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By James Adams

(May 06, 2011) The face is a touch jowly, the blue eyes framed by horn-rimmed glasses, the hair a rather suspicious thatch of reddish-blond with a touch of grey at the temples. But at 74 Robert Redford still has that killer smile - an even set of room-illuminating pearlies that, in The Way We Were and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, made for the very definition of movie-star handsome.

He's trim, too. Or at least seems to be: The long-sleeved black shirt he's wearing this sunny Saturday morning is untucked over a pair of jeans, effectively mitigating the presence of whatever paunch there may be. Still, as he takes to the couch in his Toronto hotel room, you're willing to suspend a rigorous investigation into the ravages of time because ... well, because he's Robert Redford, liberal do-gooder, environmentalist, indie-film supporter par excellence, Oscar winner and just generally the Last of the Hollywood Good Guys.

Even all this didn't mean a slam dunk when he brought his latest film, The Conspirator, for its world premiere at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. The movie, which Redford directed and co-produced, arrived at the festival without benefit of distribution - a "failing" Redford was keen to remedy even as he pointed out "we're in a terrible business climate right now and the industry has changed drastically," since his seventies and early eighties heyday. That Redford succeeded, eventually, is quite amazing - not because it's a bad movie poorly directed (it's not) but because it's an earnest courtroom drama (always a tough sell) that doesn't stint on drawing uncomfortable parallels between the "confusion, anxiety and fear" the United States felt in the wake of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865 and the resurfacing of those feelings in the wake of 9/11.

Redford asserted these "tremendous parallels" weren't something he determinedly pushed to the fore in the script, the first draft of which screenwriter James Solomon prepared almost 18 years ago. "That was just sort of an interesting by-product," he explained. "I wouldn't have done the film just for the politics. That was the part that was going to take care of itself [since] the parallels were just there."

More compelling was "the little-known personal story that sat at the heart of these outer levels" - namely, the relationship between Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), the Confederacy-supporting widow whose boarding house in Washington was a prominent meeting place for anti-Lincoln conspirators, her son included, and Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy), a decorated Union officer who, as a rookie lawyer, is assigned to defend Surratt before a military tribunal after she's implicated in the Lincoln murder. Reluctant at first, Aiken slowly warms to Surratt, and vice versa, and becomes convinced the tribunal is more a hanging party than a forum for justice.

"There were a lot of challenges in this film," Redford acknowledged, including its $25-million (U.S.) budget - "extremely small" for a costume drama. This necessitated "a tight shooting schedule," mostly in Savannah, Ga., and "not a lot of time to prepare." Yet perhaps Redford's biggest fear was what he called "proclamation talk" - the tendency for actors in a period piece to "talk like they're reading off a piece of parchment." As a result, he and Solomon worked hard to strike a balance between the idiomatic and the formal.

Would Redford like to do another historical drama? "Not specifically," he replied. Indeed, since its release in the United States in mid-April, The Conspirator has earned less than $9-million, hardly the best incentive. "I'm kinda loose; I just like a really good story that can be well told. I think what I am interested in is my own country, whether it's yesterday or today ... the story beneath the story we're being told. And it all stems from one childhood moment: I grew up in sports, in a lower-class area of Los Angeles ... and I remember being given slogans like, 'It doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.' Well, I realized that was a lie: I was in a country where everything mattered. ... So I've wanted to tell the truth about my country, as opposed to the slogans we're sometimes given."

The Conspirator opens in Montreal and Vancouver on Friday and opened last week in Toronto.

Jumping The Broom: Not Another Tyler Perry Movie

Source: www.thestar.com - By Ashante Infantry

Jumping the Broom
Starring Angela Bassett, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Loretta Devine, Meagan Good, Tasha Smith. Directed by Salim Akil. 111 minutes. Opens May 6 at major theatres. PG

(May 05, 2011) On the heels of the Royal nuptials comes another
glossy advert for weddings, though not necessarily marriage.

Sabrina (Paula Patton) is a beautiful, successful lawyer who keeps choosing the wrong guy. After a particularly humiliating one-night stand she makes a pact with God to keep her legs closed and her options open until he sends her Mr. Right.

Enter Wall Street up-and-comer Jason (Laz Alonso) who is knocked off his feet literally by Sabrina and puts a ring on it after six months of dating when she accepts the job-of-a-lifetime in China.

And thats just before the opening credits.

Then its on to the real hijinks: a weekend wedding where their parents will meet for the first time.

The thrust of this African American romantic comedy is the juxtaposition between Sabrinas old-money, two-parent, estate-dwelling family and Jasons widowed, city-living, postal-worker mother.

The humour centres around class differences and the confounding money plus education equals white and poor plus unexposed equals black definitions that hound African American social structure.

So having lots of money and education, as Sabrinas family seems to, puts them at odds with Jasons down-home mom Pam (Loretta Devine).

When the sushi-vs.-soul-food jokes wear thin, this film is carried by its universal themes, such as parenting, commitment, sacrifice and loss.

Merging traditions is a challenge many young couples face. In this case, Pam feels disrespected when her intended daughter-in-law dismisses the broom Pam and her late husband jumped over for her marriage to Jason.

The ritual, for which the film is titled, dates back to when African American slaves were not allowed to marry and used the practice to formalize their unions.

That conflict between Sabrina and Pam and the revelation of a family secret puts the wedding in jeopardy.

Among the movies finer points are the chemistry between Alonso and post-baby Patton who glows throughout; Bassetts cringingly uptight turn as Sabrinas mother battling her own relationship drama with husband Greg (Brian Stokes Mitchell); and Mike Eppss comic relief as Jasons on-the-make uncle.

Co-produced by Texas mega preacher turned film producer T.D. Jakes, who appears as a pastor in the movie, Jumping the Brooms spiritual undertones and didactic bent have much in common with Tyler Perrys offerings; however, in keeping with the classism the film deals with, its glossy, urbane approach may be more palatable to Perry critics.

This feature debut by Salim Akil, who has directed episodes of TV series The Game, Girlfriends and Soul Food, has the feel of popular black movies such as The Best Man and Brown Sugar.

With postcard landscapes and a dreamy palette, this film is a love letter to Lunenburg, N.S., which stood in for Marthas Vineyard. Its also a feast of fashion, food and decor, as if constructed by Vogue and Martha Stewart. Never mind the acting credits; at the end, I wanted to know who designed the clothes.

Len Gibson and PVIFF Honour 20th Anniv. of New Jack City & Jungle Fever

Source: www.eurweb.com - By Chris Richburg

(May 11, 2011) *As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. If thats the case, can the same village be used to create a film?

If youre Len Gibson, the answer would be yes as he prepares to kick off this years
Peachtree Village International Film Festival (PVIFF). The sixth annual event will take place Aug. 18-21 at the W-Hotel and Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta, Ga.

According to Gibson, the idea for the PVIFF came after discussing the history of film at various film festivals and noticing how much movie makers enjoyed the events.

A lot of times what happens is people go and they party. But they, the filmmakers, leave without the knowledge a lot of times, the 32-year-old self-described film educator told EURs Lee Bailey. Its ok to go have a good time, but when its all said and done what did you learn?

And thats something that I really wanted to implement in an event, continued Gibson. I didnt know if I wanted to start a film festival initially. I just thought maybe I would just do a conference or something. But after really sitting down and thinking about this thing, I decided that it was the right time to at least start a film festival when you come to a film festival, you should come to learn and educate yourself about everything you possibly can as it relates to film as a filmmaker.

Initially attached to the Sweet Auburn Spring Festival, the PVIFF was first known as the film component of the popular happening. After three years, Gibsons creation outgrew what it could do with the Spring Festival as he decided to re-brand the event with the same crew, staff and team he used for the former Sweet Auburn International Film Festival as well as a new name.

The gamble paid off with the birth of the PVIFF, a labour of love for Gibson, who stands by the events commitment to aiding those with big screen dreams.

Whether its here in Atlanta or around the world, were assisting filmmakers. We try to bring in the local business community and as many people that we possibly can to help make this thing happen, he stated. Rather, thats taking a film from the script to the screen or just assisting a filmmaker in any way that we possibly can. We understand that it takes a village to make it work.

In addition to providing guidance for aspiring filmmakers, the PVIFFs claim to fame centers on celebrating the anniversaries of classic features. This year, the gathering will recognize the 20th anniversary of two 90s films: Jungle Fever and New Jack City.

Gibson credits the Wesley Snipes-starring vehicles with providing an early influence on todays cinematic efforts.

We have New Jack City a lot of people love the film, Gibson noted. It was a film that looked at drugs in the inner city and how they (took on) the issue and the drug and law enforcement thing, coming together head to head and how that kind of opened up doors for a lot of other films of that sort during that era.

 And then Jungle Fever, looking at the interracial relationship. That film tackles so many things, he added. So we look at those things and we really talk about what films came after those films and how those films played a very important part in our entertainment industry.

Gibson is currently working to have cast members from Jungle Fever and New Jack City appear at the PVIFF as well as others associated with the films. Among those confirmed for the festival are Fever actresses Ruby Dee and Lonette McKee. As for the films director, Spike Lee, Gibson is waiting on word if the award-winning moviemakers schedule will allow him to make a personal appearance.

The PVIFFs recognition of New Jack City and Jungle Fever falls in line with its niche of shining a light on movies that have made an impact as well as actors, actresses and filmmakers that organizers feel deserve praise, but havent really been acknowledged.

Past PVIFF honourees includes the casts of Lincoln Heights and The Game who both received the TV Spotlight award as well Quinton Aaron, who collected a Best Breakthrough Performance award for his work in The Blind Side.

During this years festival, the PVIFF will give an award to Drop Dead Diva star Brooke Elliott as well as the show itself.

Despite the challenges involved in putting the festival together, Gibson admits the effort is well worth it when its all said and done.

Its a lot of work to put on a festival and do two other large events inside of the festivals but we really enjoy it, he said. And then of course my love is the history of film and TV. So it goes back to the educational thing again. Its really educating people about from whence we came and really letting people understand that we gotta pay homage to those who came before us.

For more information about the PVIFF, visit www.pviff.com.

Woody Takes Paris, De Niro Takes Charge And Bertolucci Grabs A Quickie

Source: www.thestar.com - By Peter Howell

(May 11, 2011) CANNES, FRANCE -
Woody Allen isnt normally one to drop names.

But he did exactly that Tuesday at the Cannes Film Festival, explaining how he cast Carla Bruni, the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for a small role in his new film, Midnight in Paris.

One morning I was just having breakfast with the Sarkozys. And she walked into the room and I thought she was very beautiful and very charming and charismatic. And I just said, Would you like to be in the movie?

Even though Bruni, a former chanteuse, is known more for her singing than her acting, Allen was pleased with her performance. She has the small role of a French tour guide who gets caught in an argument between characters played by Owen Wilson and Michael Sheen.

She did her part very gracefully and lovely and she played her character perfectly, Allen enthused.

Very few filmmakers get to breakfast with the president and first lady of France, much less make actors of one of them.

But New Yorks Allen, 75, has become something of a European statesman or maybe ultimate tourist in the past six years, as he has travelled from Britain to Spain and now France to make his annual movies.

Hes no stranger to Cannes, where 11 of his 42 films have played, five of them as the opening gala.

The openers include Midnight in Paris, which drew the festivals first red-carpet gawkers Tuesday night, as Allen walked the scarlet steps of the Palais des Festivals, accompanied by actors Wilson, Sheen, Rachel McAdams, Adrien Brody and La Seydoux.

The movie, in which Wilson plays the beleaguered fianc to a shrewish McAdams, is definitely one to put in the win column for Allen, whose track record has become something less than a sure bet as hed be the first to tell you.

I do have some talent, but it doesnt go as far as being an artist, he said, and he wasnt kidding.

Allen admitted that he didnt know what movie he was going to make at first, apart from the city choice and the title: Midnight in Paris sounded romantic to him.

He finally came up with the Twilight Zone-ish idea of having Wilsons character, a disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter attempting to become a novelist, go on repeated time travel journeys to the Paris of the 1920s, where he parties with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso.

The movies theme is that everybody thinks things were better in the past than they are now, but generally they werent. For starters, they didnt have air-conditioning in the 1920s, something that comes in handy on a sweltering Cannes day.

Its a big trap to think that living in another time would be better . . . you only extrapolate the nice things, said Allen, who still dresses in the casual nerdwear and big black glasses of his neurotic youth.

I wouldnt like to go back to any time other than right now.

He was pleased to reunite Wedding Crashers pair Wilson and McAdams for the lead roles in Midnight in Paris, because he loved them in that earlier movie but that almost worked against them, he admitted.

I didnt like the fact theyd worked together before. That was a negative for me, he said.

The many positives won. He chose Wilson because he thinks the lanky Texan is completely unlike himself (actually, he seems like an Allen surrogate in the film) and he loved the Ontario-born McAdams energy.

For her part, McAdams said she loved her angry fiance role because shes so often cast as the sweet ingnue, and it gave her a chance to play a deliciously direct character.

The way Allen makes it sound, all he has to do is select good actors and then turn on the camera:

The trick in casting is to hire great people and let them do what they do dont interfere with them too much.

And when theyre great, take credit it for it. Ive done this for many years, and it works like a charm!

DE NIROS IN DA HOUSE: The annual pre-show theatre at Cannes, wherein the Palme dOr jury members pretend to have no opinions whatsoever, went off smoothly Tuesday afternoon.

Except somehow it seemed a little more forceful, having Robert De Niro as president of the nine-member panel. Hes joined by fellow actors Jude Law, Uma Thurman and Martina Gusmn, filmmakers Olivier Assayas, Johnnie To and Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, writer/critic Linn Ullmann and producer Nansun Shi.

The famously taciturn De Niro, looking professorial in wire specs, kept offering terse variations of I dunno to questions of what kind of movie he thinks might win the Palme on May 22, out of the 20 that he and the panel will judge.

Its all up for grabs at this point. Who knows? he said finally, a note of irritation in his voice.

Thurman had a great anecdote about what her pal Quentin Tarantino said in 1994, after his film Pulp Fiction won the Palme.

She imitated Tarantinos rapid-fire patter as she described him waving his Palme in her face: He said, You know whats the only list thats better than the list of people who have this? Its the list of people who dont!

BERTOLUCCI IN 3-D: Italian master Bernardo Bertolucci received a special Palme award yesterday in tribute to his distinguished career, the first recipient of a new opening-day honour that Cannes expect to make an annual event.

The director of The Last Emperor, The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris arrived for his Palme prize in a wheelchair, due to serious back problems.

He said he thought his health might prevent him from ever again making a movie, but the renewal of 3-D has him excited again. He wants to become one of the first to make a 3-D arthouse film, and he wishes the technology had been used more often in the past.

I thought if 8-1/2 by Fellini was in 3-D, wouldnt it be great?

Bertoluccis 3-D film, now in pre-production, involves a teenaged boy, a 35-year-old woman and a basement room.

He got off the best line of the day when a journalist asked him where he gets the ideas for the many sexy movies he makes. Moderator Henri Behar interrupted to warn Bertolucci that he had just 30 seconds left in the news conference to answer.

So it will have to be a quickie! Bertolucci said, to gales of laughter in the room.


TIFF To Help Grow Canadian Acting Talent

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

(May 09, 2011) The Toronto International Film Festival is looking to cultivate the next crop of Canadian acting talent with its first TIFF Rising Stars initiative announced Monday. Four actors will be chosen to take part in an intensive professional development boot camp and networking opportunity during TIFF (Sept. 8 to 18) with Pamela Silverstein, an expert in talent and project development. Applicants must be under age 40 with at least three screen credits. The submission deadline is June 17. Details and application are available at TIFF.net/industry.

Bokeem Woodbine Set for Sonys Total Recall Remake

Source: www.thestar.com  

(May 05, 2011) *Variety is reporting that Bokeem Woodbine is in talks to join Sonys Total Recall starring Colin Farrell. The film is a reboot of the 1990 film starring Arnold Schwarznegger as Douglas Quaid, a man who believes he is a secret agent on a Martian colony. Farrell now steps into the role, with Woodbine playing Quaids best friend who has a kind of big brother relationship with him. Len Wiseman has signed on to direct with Mark Bomback and James Vanderbilt is penning the script. Woodbines recent credits include Saving Grace and Universals Devil.

Sean Penn Heading For The Falls

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

(May 09, 2011) First Al Pacino heads for Canadas honeymoon capital and now its been announced Sean Penn will play Fallsview Casino for a two-night candid interview and question and answer session in August. Oscar-winner and Haitian relief social activist Penn takes the stage Aug. 25 and 26. Pacino appears June 2 and 3 and the show is close to being sold out. Tickets are $90 and available through Ticketmaster (1-877-833-3110 or www.ticketmaster.com).

::TV NEWS::\

Bursting Canadians TV Bubbles

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bill Brioux

(May 06, 2011) It's that time of year again: TV producers are holding their breath, waiting to see which shows get picked up. For fans, too, it can be an anxious stretch. Will there be more episodes of a favourite program?

That's very much in question when it comes to the fate of one of the most popular shows on
Canadian television this season: $#*! My Dad Says. The CBS sitcom, which stars Canadian TV icon William Shatner as a cranky, retired father coping with a grown son who's moved back home, did much better in Canada than it did in the U.S.

That's mainly because CTV ran it right after the most popular show in the country, The Big Bang Theory, where new episodes routinely drew well over two million viewers a week. In the U.S., it got no such lift and thus languished on the CBS schedule.

The same was true of The Defenders, the Friday night Jim Belushi law drama. It clicked on CTV but only did so-so in the States. Prognosis: on the bubble for next season. CTV had another winner Fridays with the CBS import Blue Bloods, starring Tom Selleck. Again, not such a hit in the States.

Shows that are on the bubble are 50/50 for renewal. It all depends on how many new shows networks pick up for the 2011-12 season. The U.S. networks will officially announce their fall schedules May 16-19 in New York; Canadian upfront announcements will come at the very end of this month and the beginning of June.

Rookie Blue returns to Global for a second season next month after scoring impressive numbers in 2010. Summer seems to be the window for Canadian-produced shows no matter how well they perform, with Canadian programmers loath to give up schedule space loaded with pricey American fare it can simulcast during the season.

An announcement is expected any minute on summer runs for two CTV comedies renewed a full year ago: Dan for Mayor and Hiccups.

CBC has already announced the pickup of the new action series Arctic Air, likely to premiere next January. The series is from the same producers behind the popular History Television reality show Ice Pilots NWT.

The public broadcaster has also already announced it is picking up 17 series for next season, including 22 Minutes, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Being Erica, InSecurity and The Ron James Show. One comedy not coming back at CBC is 18 to Life.

Several other shows are also already officially cancelled. If you missed those three episodes of mid-season replacement Chaos, you missed it. The Good Guys, The Cape and Vancouver-lensed Smallville, which ends a 10-season run, are also history.

As for specialty channels, Showtime in the U.S. has ordered another season of The Borgias. Is it the end for Endgame, XIII and King, three recently launched Showcase dramas? Still too early to tell.

Rob Lowe: Dishing On Life In The Public Eye

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Gayle Macdonald

(May 09, 2011) Rob Lowe considers himself a bit of a natural raconteur. So after years of regaling family and friends with the inside dish on Hollywood elite (Liza Minnelli, the Sheens, the Penns and the late JFK Jr. are just a few of Lowe's friends and acquaintances), the former Brat Packer decided to put pen to paper for Stories I Only Tell My Friends - which has since shot to the top of The New York Times bestseller list.

Lowe's memoir is a self-deprecating, funny and blunt reflection of a career that took off when he was only 14, only to spectacularly blow up five years later when the hard-partier was exposed in leaked sex tapes with a 16-year-old girl. Sober now for 21 years, the 47-year-old actor is at the top of his game, nailing comedic roles in some of TV's most popular shows, including Parks and Recreation and Californication. And he credits rehab - and his wife of 20 years, Sheryl Berkoff - for setting him on a course "that literally saved my life."

Was there any one incident that motivated you to finally get sober?

I hit rock bottom one night when my mother called, and left a message on my answering machine pleading for me to pick up the phone
because my grandfather was dying. I was standing next to it, but I was unable and unwilling to do it because I wasn't in any condition to speak to my mom. I decided to finish drinking, go to bed and call her in the morning when I could handle it. This was the lowest of the low. And the next day I took out the card of a drug and alcohol specialist, and I've been sober ever since. Sobriety has given me everything. Prior to that, I was incapable of having a relationship, not just in terms of monogamy, but emotionally. If I hadn't got sober, I wouldn't be married. I wouldn't have children [Lowe has two boys]. It's made me a much better actor and creative force.

You grew up around the corner from Charlie Sheen and his brother Emilio Estevez, and hung out in their pool. Charlie's a friend. What do you think of his latest exploits?

We've stayed in touch really fleetingly over the past 10 years, but ironically Charlie and I had been texting each other up until about six or eight weeks ago. I obviously reached out to him immediately. But he doesn't want my help. I love Charlie. He's charismatic as hell. He's an iconoclast. He's a true original in a world of imitators. But he's doing things his way. We're all pulling for the guy. We'll just have to wait and see where it all ends.

What motivated you to write this book?

One day I was sitting in my study, watching the boys play outside, and I realized my kids had grown to the very age that I was, when I first became famous. That got me moving.

Would you wish on them the kind of media attention you had at the tender age of 14?

Yes and no. It was a remarkable time growing up in Malibu in the '70s. It was a wild, wonderful, and crazy place, and here I was, a kid, having my dreams come true. I would wish that for any 14- or 15-year-old. But a lot of it comes at a price. And that is a very tough call to wish on anybody.

You actually keep your kids away from the paparazzi. Is that an easy thing to do?

I always roll my eyes a little bit at people that bemoan the paparazzi. I got married without a picture being taken. There are ways to do these things, but they require certain choices. And if you're unwilling to make those choices, you're going to have life in the public eye all the time.

Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders launched the careers of Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez ... Do you still see any of the gang?

We all have busy lives so we don't see each other that often, but when I run into Tom [Cruise] it's like we're fraternity brothers, and we go right back to where we were. We have a history that is unique to us, and bonds us very deeply.

Swayze's death must have been hard on you.

Patrick was a wonderful man, and such an unbelievable life force. He's probably the last person any of us would have thought would be the first to go. I went to his memorial, a few of us Outsiders were there, and it was hard to say goodbye. I absolutely adored him. But to me, the most beautiful thing about Patrick was how much he loved his wife.

Last year, you were filming Brothers & Sisters, Parks and Recreation, and Californication simultaneously. Comedy is clearly becoming a bigger part of your repertoire, is that an intentional shift?

Comedy has always been something I've loved to do. The Austin Powers movies, Ricky Gervais's The Invention of Lying, those are parts I had great fun doing. But when I was doing drama and comedy, mixed-up, that's when I have the best time acting because you get to explore different facets of your personality and also take on different challenges. I think it's important for me to try to push through my comfort zones. The key to this business is - in any business, actually - is to constantly rediscover what you're about. And not look back in regret or satisfaction. So the book is a natural extension of me trying to do something that I don't know will be easy or hard. It's simply something I've never done before. And I intend to live my life with no regrets.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Life Beyond American Idol

Source: www.thestar.com - By Debra Yeo

(May 08, 2011) Kara DioGuardi overcame a lot an eating disorder, childhood sexual molestation, her mothers death from cancer, date rape, bad relationships, male chauvinism in the music industry to become an A-list songwriter.

But when she joined American Idol in 2008, she was just the unloved fourth judge in the publics eyes, not a successful career woman at the top of her game.

As she put it in an interview last week, it was like being the one who broke up The Beatles.

I think most people felt I was there to replace Paula (Abdul), which isnt the greatest way to go on the show because people love Paula. And also, you know, it broke up (the judges) chemistry, which people loved.

So its kind of a suicide mission almost, said DioGuardi, who only spent two seasons on the series before quitting (not being fired, as reports at the time said).

DioGuardi, 40, sets the record straight in her newly published memoir,
A Helluva High Note, although shes clear thats only a small part of the reason she wrote the book.

Ive come through a stronger and better person for (the Idol experience) and thats what this memoir is about . . . its about showing people that you can get through things in life.

One of those things for DioGuardi included an eating disorder in her teens and 20s, in which she would mercilessly limit her food intake part of the week and binge eat the other days.

She was molested by the son of a family friend at 11 and sexually harassed by some of the men she encountered in the music industry, including an unnamed record producer who raped her in her own apartment.

But DioGuardi has taken those experiences and put them into songs, a kind of musical autobiography that inspired the book.

Along the way, she has written and co-written hits for the likes of Carrie Underwood, P!nk, Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Kelly Clarkson and many more.

That was the background she brought to the Idol judging panel, but that wasnt the way she was perceived.

I think its funny that I go around now and people are like, Wow, I had no idea, I would have really understood more. Now I feel bad that they didnt give you a shot. . . .

No matter what they (Idol producers) had done in the beginning . . . Im not sure it would have changed the perception of me.

A brief experience as a judge on the short-lived talent show The One, which lasted only a few episodes, didnt prepare DioGuardi for Idol.

Idol, its beyond TV. Its like a planet unto itself, she said.

Among the revelations in the book:

  She was so afraid of wetting herself because of her extreme stage fright and nerves during live shows she considered buying Depends.

  Abdul, whom DioGuardi had met when they wrote a song together in 1998 and roomed with briefly, was upset that she hadnt been told DioGuardi was joining the show until the day before they judged their first auditions together in New York.

  Simon Cowell was pleasant to DioGuardi when she flew to London to meet him (Man boobs or not, this guy was a serious star, she wrote), but he gave her the cold shoulder when she first joined the panel. DioGuardi says she talked too much and interrupted King Simon during his critiques, leading him to suggest duct-taping her mouth at one point. Yet, she learned more about TV from him in two years than she could have learned elsewhere in 20.

  DioGuardi pushed the producers to put eventual Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert through to the televised auditions, after meeting him when she was screen-tested during the preliminary rounds. They almost cut him, fearing Cowell wouldnt like him.

  She couldnt sleep or eat in the week leading up to the infamous Bikini Girl sketch on the Season 8 finale, in which DioGuardi sang onstage in a bikini to play a joke on a failed contestant known for auditioning in a skimpy two-piece. DioGuardi agreed to do it at the last minute only because Idol donated money to her favourite charity.

  Hearing Lambert and winner Kris Allen sing the much-maligned winners song that she co-wrote, No Boundaries, was like watching a plane fall from the sky.

  She almost threw up on Ellen DeGeneres after getting drunk during a getting-to-know-you dinner at the home of DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi.

  She compared reading the (false) news that she had been fired from Idol to the sick-to-her-stomach feeling she had during her mothers surgery for ovarian cancer.

In the end, DioGuardi asked to be released from her Idol contract. For one thing, the shows executives could not guarantee shed be back for Season 10. For another thing, she was busy with her career outside Idol, songwriting, developing talent for the Warner Bros. record label and heading her own company, Arthouse Entertainment. Plus she had already been through three rounds of in vitro fertilization in an unsuccessful attempt to get pregnant.

But DioGuardi isnt done with TV. Shes the head judge on Platinum Hit, a reality competition featuring 12 aspiring songwriters that debuts on the U.S. Bravo network on May 30.

As for Idol, DioGuardi said she keeps in touch with Abdul and judge Randy Jackson, as well as new judge Steven Tyler. DioGuardi met him while writing a song for him and recommended him to an Idol producer as a replacement for Cowell. I thought he was so funny and smart and talented, she said.

She hasnt talked to Cowell in a couple of months, but if I ran into him, Id give him a big hug.

2011 Much Better For Women Pilot Writers

Source: www.thestar.com - By Nikki Finke

(May 08, 2011) The earth didnt just move, it was an earthquake for women pilot writers in 2011. Television audiences judge with their remote controls and its doubtful whether anyone has ever watched a TV show because it was written by a man or a woman. But this year, for some unexplained reason, women were hilarious, just as last year, for some reason, they werent.

The 2010-2011 pilot season was arguably the worst in the last 10 years for women writers. There was no credible explanation for the truly horrible numbers that emerged. As I pointed out in an article written last year, Women Can't Create and White Men Can't Jump, of last years big 4 pilots, only 20% were written by women or male/female writing partners: 24% for dramas and 16% for comedies. Considering only pilots written by a woman or a team of women, the numbers fell even more drastically to 11%. The only bright spot was CW, which may have produced only 6 pilots, but 50% of them were written by women.

Very little worked last year so minds opened wider to find some different voices, different perspectives. For 2011, there are lots of different voices out there perspectives from different genders, orientations and ethnicities. Whether this crop of pilots works better than last years, who knows? Its almost impossible to do worse. So hats off to the network and studio execs who may have been listening. You made great strides and the hope is that more will be made. One can only hope that the powers-that-be will continue to try to make television reflect the viewing audience a bit more than it has. It may still be a mans world, but clearly, they arent the only ones holding the remote control. So who, one could ask, was making these choices? Although Network Chairmen continue to be overwhelmingly male, there are significant numbers of female studio presidents and development executives. Network chairmen may have the ultimate say but women factor into the equation in important ways.

Now for the numbers...

For the 81 pilots produced in 2011, it is important to break these down into two categories: women overall (which would include women writing alone, with a female writing partner, or with a male writing partner) and women only (which would include women writing alone or with a female writing partner). This year, with one exception, every network improved significantly in the women overall numbers.

ABC, which had been the leader among the big four in 2010, showed an 8% decrease in the number of pilots written by women overall (from 36% in 2010 to 28% in 2011); however, and this is a big however, ABC, which, unlike the other networks, did not engage any male/female writing teams this year, showed an increase in pilots written by women only (from 16% to 28%). ABC can still be considered a leader in the field even if its overall numbers, when compared to the other networks, put it in 4th place.

FBC showed the most improvement, but thats a no-brainer. Last year, FBC produced no pilots written by women in any category. ZERO! This year 36% of their pilots were written by women overall, and the 20% of their pilots written by women only still represents a huge improvement over past years.

NBC, likewise, made enormous strides. 41% of their pilots were written by women overall (up from 19% in 2010), more than doubling the number of pilots written last year. More significantly, 36% of their pilots were written by women only (up from 14% in 2010), making NBC the leader in the field.

CBS showed mixed results. By engaging a number of male/female teams, 36% of their pilots were written by women overall (up from 21% in 2010); their record of hiring women only resulted in a negligible increase (from 11% in 2010 to 14% in 2011). Whereas 22% of the 9 CBS comedy pilots were written by male/female teams, none were written by women only. The same was not true of the other nets; and it is here that ABC and NBC shine brightest.

ABC produced 10 comedy pilots, 50% of which were written by women only. NBC was a few percentage points higher: 62% of their 13 comedy pilots were written by women overall, and 54% of those 13 pilots were written by women only. What a difference a year makes as zero comedy pilots were written by women (in any combination) last year at NBC.

FBC, as noted previously, hired no women, in any category, to write any pilots in 2010, so anything this year is an improvement, and improve they did, as women overall wrote 38% of the 8 comedy pilots picked up for production, 25% if you consider women only.

The situation at CBS was a bit more problematic. In each of the last two years (2010 and 2011) CBS produced 9 comedy pilots; this year, 2 of those pilots (22%) were written by male/female teams. In 2010, of the 9 comedy pilots picked up for production, 1 comedy pilot was written by a woman and 1 comedy pilot was written by a male/female team. The overall average, 22%, was identical, with no improvement in a year; but CBS laid a goose egg when it came to women writing comedy without a male partner (from 11% in 2010 to Zero).

Women are funny, except at CBS where they are only funny if they partner with a man. Sometimes its a husband and wife (and what marriage isnt a barrel of laughs), and sometimes it isnt, but its always with a male partner.

Drama, where women have excelled in the past, also yielded mixed results. ABC, which produced 15 dramas this year, showed an overall decline from a high of 25% in 2010 to 13% this year, but this was reflected in a smaller decline when considering women only (from 17% in 2010 to 13% in 2011). Similarly, NBC, which produced 12 dramas this year, declined with women overall, going from 33% in 2010 to 11% in 2011, also resulting in a decline for women writing alone (from 25% in 2010 to 11% in 2011).

FBC, which produced no pilots in any category that were written by women (in any combination), had nowhere to go but up, and up they went. 33% of their drama pilots were written by women (without a male writing partner). As for CBS, they went from 20% of drama pilots written by women overall in 2010, to 60% in 2011. This also translated to a sizeable increase in the number of pilots written by women only, from 10% in 2010 to 40% in 2011 quadrupling their numbers!

Tiny CW, once again ordering 6 one hour drama/dramedies, remained unchanged, continuing to maintain its leadership position of a 50% balance between scripts written by men and women.

So was there positive change? Absolutely! ABC, even showing an overall decline, remains on a positive path toward eliminating gender bias in choosing projects. CBS, while showing improvement overall, led by the double digit increase in women creators on their dramas, appears to have a bias against women in comedy. But they are also in the enviable position of having Chuck Lorre pitching for them, so theres not a whole lot of incentive to fill their bullpen with new voices, let alone those on the distaff side. Almost all of their comedies came from proven commodities like Tucker Cawley, Phoef Sutton, Warren Bell and the team of Bill Martin and Mike Schiff; still Im rooting for
Two Broke Girls by Michael Patrick King and stand-up comedienne Whitney Cummings.

NBC, where Cummings also landed a comedy pilot, definitely thinks women have the funny, going from no comedy pilots with women writers in 2010 to 54% of their 2011 comedy pilots written by women only. And the same was true for FBC, a network that should have held its head in shame in 2010, but assumed a leadership position in 2011.

In all honesty, the viewing audience doesnt care about the ethnicity or gender of the writer; what they care about is seeing something interesting and entertaining, whether drama or comedy. This year the net was cast wider and the resulting pilots were much more interesting and better written than the previous year. This is not to say that the ultimate choices will succeed, and, given the pilots receiving the most publicity and heat leaking from the network viewing rooms, some of those choices are likely to be disheartening. But unlike the previous year, everything was not cookie-cutter safe. We can only hope that the net continues to widen and that the writing staffs on the shows picked up to series reflect the diversity of voices that are available.

Sad to say, but true progress will be achieved when women and minorities are allowed to be as mediocre as white male writers can be. Wouldnt it be great to arrive at a time when studios and networks come to believe that creativity, because in the end this is about creativity and not writing, is not limited to a single ethnicity or gender. Everyone brings something to the table; but Its complicated.

Worst Network Pilot Season For Women, Part 2
Worst Network Pilot Season For Women, Part 1

Well Done Simon And Paula

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

(May 09, 2011)  We bloggers can be people of little faith. I admit I was getting worried about Simon Cowell and his X Factor. It seemed like American Idol and The Voice were stealing the thunder from the singing competition, not due to air on Fox (and CTV) until the fall.

Idol, after all, had confounded predictions that it was going to tank without Simon. New judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez were the talk of the town (too bad their early promise has not been fulfilled in the live shows). And then along came upstart The Voice, with lively judges Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton propelling NBC to a ratings success.

And what did Simon have to show for himself? Well, himself, and Antonio "L.A." Reid, who may be all that as a record executive but was a blank slate for TV viewers. And then we got Cheryl Cole, another blank slate, at least on these shores.

So it's great news that former Idol seatmates Simon and
Paula Abdul will be reunited. While there's undoubtedly still an appetite for Simon's frank honesty (if I hear Tyler tell one more Idol contestant their performance was "beautiful," I may scream), having him and Paula together ramps up the anticipation in a way that Simon and Cheryl, or Simon and L.A. couldn't.

And here's another reason why I'm eagerly awaiting Simon's fall return: his comments to media outside The X Factor's L.A. auditions on Sunday make it clear we're not in for an Idol-style love fest.

Simon said that in the real world successful artists "hate each other ... it's a cut-throat business and I want somebody who has that mentality, you know, steel, ambition and crush the competition. I don't want all this 'We're all here to be friends and we all love each other.'

And furthermore, he doesn't want people to talk "in a weird way, you know, why do you talk about journeys and dreams? Even if I'm on a journey I won't say I'm on a journey," Cowell added.

Yes! I knew there was a reason I had a reality TV crush on you, Simon.

To hear more, including how Simon compares Paula to a wind-up toy, see the clip below from HollywoodJunket.com.

Hugh Grant Decides Not To Be Charlie Sheen's Replacement

Source: www.thestar.com - by: Raju Mudhar

(May 11, 2011) Getty Hugh Grant has reportedly turned down the opportunity to be Charlie Sheen's replacement on Two and a Half Men.

Oooh, this would have been a delectable casting choice. Deadline.com is reporting that Hugh Grant was in negotiations with Chuck Lorre and his production company to potentially be Charlie Sheen's replacement on Two and a Half Men. Grant was reportedly offered a $1 million per episode payday, but decided not to take the gig due to creative differences.

The pressure was on to get a deal signed by next week's
Upfront presentations, but now it's unsure how they will proceed. Other actors that have been rumoured to be considered include Woody Harrelson, Rob Lowe, John Stamos, and Jeremy Piven. But even though Grant's star might be a little less bright, he would have been an inspired choice. He may still reconsider, or perhaps, the 'creative differences' can be worked out.

The actor, whose credits include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and About A Boy, remains well liked, and similar to Sheen has some scandal in this past, getting caught with prostitute Divine Brown in 1995.

Despite all of the turmoil on the set of Two and a Half Men, CBS and Warner Bros. would like to get the show back on the air, because the show is worth billions of dollars in syndication rights. 

General Hospital Leads Daytime Emmy Noms

Source: www.thestar.com - By David

(May 11, 2011) NEW YORK, N.Y.Regis Philbin and ABCs exiting soap operas have multiple opportunities to go out as winners at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

All My Children earned 13 Emmy nods and One Life to Live had 12, in nominations announced Wednesday for the June 19 awards show. ABC has cancelled the durable soap operas, each on the air for more than 40 years, and their final episodes will be in the coming months.

Philbin has said that later this year he is leaving the talk show built around him, first with co-host Kathie Lee Gifford and now with Kelly Ripa. His show has never won a Daytime Emmy for best talk show. Philbin was nominated for best talk-show host, an award he shared once a decade ago with Rosie ODonnell. He also won a Daytime Emmy for best game show host when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was at its apex.

General Hospital leads the way with 21 Daytime Emmy nominations, followed by The Young and the Restless with 20 and Sesame Street with 16. The awards will be distributed at the Las Vegas Hilton, televised by CBS.

All My Children was nominated for best daytime drama, along with General Hospital, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. CBS The Bold and the Beautiful has won twice in a row in this narrowing category.

Two All My Children cast members, Alicia Minshew and Debbi Morgan, were nominated for best actress in a daytime drama. Other nominees were Colleen Zenk of As the World Turns, Susan Flannery of The Bold and the Beautiful, Laura Wright of General Hospital and Michelle Stafford of The Young and the Restless.

Best actor nominees for soap operas were Ricky Paull Goldin of All My Children, Michael Park of As the World Turns, James Scott of Days of Our Lives, Maurice Benard of General Hospital and Christian Le Blanc of The Young and the Restless.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said it was giving lifetime achievement awards to game show hosts Alex Trebek of Jeopardy!
and Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune, syndicated TVs two most dominant game shows. Neither man was nominated for best game show host this year, although both entered the competition.

Instead, Ben Bailey of Discoverys Cash Cab has the chance for a second straight win in the category. Other nominees include Wayne Brady of Lets Make a Deal, who will host the Daytime Emmy ceremony; Todd Newton of Family Game Night on the Hub, a new show on a new network; and Meredith Vieira of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Cash Cab has the chance to make it four straight Emmys as best game show, with competition from The Price Is Right, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!

Besides Philbin and Ripa, nominees for best talk-show host are Mehmet Oz; Rachael Ray; The Doctors team of Travis Stork, Andrew Ordon, Jim Sears and Lisa Masterson; and The View round-table of Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd. Multiple past winners Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres do not enter their names in this category anymore.

The talk show category is now split into two. Live
With Regis and Kelly is nominated in the entertainment category along with The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Rachael Ray and The View. In the category of informative talk show, the nominees are all in the field of medicine: Dr. Phil, The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors.


Head of Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network Abruptly Exits Amid Poor Ratings

Source: www.globeandmail.com -
The Associated Press

(May 06, 2011) NEW YORK In the wake of initial disappointing ratings for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, its head, Christina Norman, has abruptly left the 4-month-old channel. The network announced Friday that Peter Liguori, the chief operating officer for Discovery Communications, will take over on an interim basis. His appointment is effective immediately. OWN, which premiered on Jan. 1, is jointly owned by Discovery and Winfrey's Harpo, Inc. Winfrey said she and Liguori will work together the reminder of this year to recruit a permanent CEO for the network's next phase of growth. Winfrey added that with the end of her syndicated talk show this month, she can devote her full energies to OWN. Norman, formerly president of MTV, arrived at OWN in January 2009.

Its Over for Jacob Lusk; Idol Sends him Home

Source: www.thestar.com  

(May 06, 2011) *American Idol fans may be mourning right now as the world says goodbye to Jacob Lusk, the remarkable 23-year-old vocalist from Compton, Calif. The night before eliminations, he unfortunately didnt do too well in attempting to sing both parts of No Air the duet of Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown as well as Love Hurts made famous by Nazareth and Roy Orbison. I got to share a little bit with America, and I think Americas fallen in love with me, said Lusk after his elimination. Now I can go and put out that good-feeling R&B music that reminds you of Luther (Vandross) or those great old singers. Jacob had a rough night last night, said Idol mentor and Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine. I think his nerves are getting the best of him. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Lauren Alaina was also on the bottom, but was able to save face with a knock-out performance of Carrie Underwoods Flat n the Floor and the Righteous Brothers Unchained Melody. The next week the hopefuls will return with another finalist dismissed next Thursday. American Idols  10th season champion will be crowned on the programs finale, May 26.

Mos Def Joins Cast of Showtimes Dexter

Source: www.eurweb.com

(May 11, 2011) *Mos Def has finalized a deal for a multi-episode arc on the sixth season of Dexter, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The actor/rapper will play a hardened ex-con who claims to have found religion yet seems to continually find himself surrounded by violence. Michael C. Halls Dexter will reveal the truth of who he really is. Production on the sixth season of the Showtime drama thriller begins in June with an eye toward a fall premiere. Mos Def joins Colin Hanks who will appear in all 12 episodes as one of the upcoming seasons villains. Hanks will play Travis, Dexters main nemesis and a highly intelligent ancient artefacts expert who is linked to a series of grisly murders in Miami. At this point it unclear in how many episodes Mos Def will appear. But he is one of multiple recurring characters who will populate the show after the dispatching of season five guest stars including Jonny Lee Miller, Julia Stiles and Peter Weller.


Brown Balls: Asian Stereotypes Are Nothing To Laugh At

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Martin Morrow

(May 04, 2011) Anyone who thinks that Asian male stereotypes are on the wane has only to look at the recent Hollywood movie The Green Hornet. For all its smarmy self-awareness, the misguided comedy basically reinforced a bunch of tired racial clichs: Jay Chous manservant Kato was a martial-arts whirlwind and all-around genius, yet ultimately it was his white slacker boss, Seth Rogens Hornet, who called the shots.

If that galled you like it did me, youll welcome the premise of Byron Abaloss
Brown Balls, which sets out to satirize deeply entrenched Western perceptions of Asian masculinity. Abaloss testicularly titled play, getting its premiere from Torontos fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company, doesnt pull any punches when it comes to attacking the way Asian men continue to be portrayed. Or the way Asian men themselves buy into those portrayals. But youll also wish Abalos had stronger comedic skills to complement his cojones.

Brown Balls begins by generously serving up stereotypes like so much fried rice. The shows three actors Sean Baek, Richard Lee and David Yee greet us at the doors to Factory Theatres studio space speaking in broad Asian accents and behaving like officious waiters in a Chinese restaurant. Once seated, were treated to a slick video suggesting that were attending an Asian-Canadian electronics exhibition. Then, abruptly, our three hosts ditch their bogus accents, bar the doors and reveal that weve been shanghaied, so to speak, into taking part in a conference on Asian male sexuality.

What follows is partly a parody of academic presentations with stuffy talk about paradigms and hegemonic sexuality, pie charts and statistics and partly a satiric revue. The hosts spoof the personae of the three classic Asian male types: wise, Confucius-quoting detective Charlie Chan (Yee), inscrutable master criminal Fu Manchu (Lee) and martial-arts icon Bruce Lee (Baek). They burst into a song, Everybody Was Stereotyping, sung to the tune of Carl Douglass Kung Fu Fighting. They act out a goofy skit about the Spanish and U.S. colonization of the Philippines to illustrate how Western powers imposed their values on the East. And in between it all they bicker, until finally their personal tensions erupt into a dramatic climax.

Going beyond his Asian theme, Abalos shows us, with some finesse, how standards of sexual desirability have been shaped by the white majority and promulgated by mass media. More crudely, he tries to make the point that were all guilty of bigotry. The plays real problem, though, isnt heavy-handedness but an uneven tone and some weak comic writing. The playwright relies too much on his actors to flesh out their characters and make up for a lack of wit.

Lee, as the Chinese J.P., is the bossy ringleader of the trio, while Baeks Korean P.J. is its clown a slavering horn dog and a blissful ignoramus when it comes to political correctness. Yees Filipino-Scottish Charles is his foil, a pompous gay artist who speaks in a voice that sounds like Sean Connery being strangled. Watching Yee, who is also a playwright and fuGENs artistic director, youre reminded of his Paper Series, which premiered earlier this season and included its own, funnier jabs at Asian stereotypes. Here, as Charles, he is saddled with narrating a poky slideshow about Asian erotica, which seems to have been included mainly so that Baeks P.J. can make crass jokes about provocative pictures like Hokusais shunga masterpiece, The Dream of the Fishermans Wife.

The three men are essentially cartoons until the end, when Abalos has them open up about their painful experiences as Asian kids in white society. Their monologues are powerful but also jarring, since there is no previous indication that we were meant to take these guys seriously.

Nina Lee Aquino directs with her customary creativity on a bold red-and-black catwalk set by Jackie Chau, making much use of an upstage screen for projections as well as shadow play. Composer and sound designer Romeo Candido begins by conjuring an Oriental mood with some twee bamboo flute and ends in a more pensive fashion with an Eno-like ambient score.

But production values dont compensate for sporadic and strained laughter. Abalos should reconsider satire as his vehicle of choice. The passion he brings to the dramatic finale of Brown Balls suggests that he could better combat stereotypes by writing plays with complex and sympathetic Asian characters.

Brown Balls

Written by Byron Abalos
Directed by Nina Lee Aquino
Starring Sean Baek, Richard Lee and David Yee
At Factory Theatre in Toronto
Brown Balls runs until May 15.
Special to The Globe and Mail

douard Lock's New Dance Work Making A Splash In Canada

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Paula Citron

(May 06, 2011) When Montreal choreographer Edouard Lock of La La La Human Steps premieres a new work, it's an international dance-world event. His creations' bravura technique and theatrical spectacle have made him a global darling - his latest work premiered in Amsterdam in January to glowing reviews and only now are audiences in Canadian cities getting a chance to see it.

Simply titled New Work, it merges the love stories and music of two operas, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Gluck's Orphane et Eurydice, with the score arranged by British composer Gavin Bryars, who replaces voice with saxophone. It features four live musicians and 10 dancers, among them star ballerina Diana Vishneva as a frequent guest soloist.

Lock's creations are an arresting fusion of speed, complicated combinations of gestures and footwork, the ability to propel bodies through the air at astonishing angles, and the integration of live musicians and film with the dance.

His company, La La La Human Steps, attracted immediate attention when he founded it in 1980. Human Sex (1985), starring his muse Louise Lecavalier, propelled Lock into the international limelight. He has collaborated on projects with David Bowie, Frank Zappa and Bette Midler, and created work for the Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Dutch National Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet.

Lock, now 57, was born in Casablanca, Morocco. His Spanish mother and Moroccan father immigrated to Montreal when he was 3.

The Globe caught up with Lock in Montreal for a conversation that lasted into the wee hours.

Your choreographic style has gone through several key changes. What was your starting point?

Montreal was so isolated in the 1970s that we were instinctive creators. I regard those early works as middle-of-the-road theatrical modern dance. The movement was lyrical, light, diffused and soft.

Your 1985 work Human Sex hit critics and audiences like a bombshell.

I do admit that loud noise and excessive movement dominated the piece, but in reality, there was a vision. Modern dance had become a whisper trapped in a library. I believed strongly that theatre should be the exception to the norms of restraint. I deliberately created a sense of extremes and started to work closely with avant-garde rockers like the British group Blancmange who fused Hindu devotional music with Western pop. People called my choreography "punk," and I got stuck with that label for the next 15 years.

And then came the pointe shoes.

The first La La La piece en pointe was Exauc/Salt in 1998. I'm fascinated by ballet because there is a very sparse set of dance options when you are en pointe. The body is idealized, the lines are highlighted. This is attractive to me as a tool, for either women or men.

How would you describe your company of today?

I never thought I'd have a ballet company, but that's what it is. Theatrical elements and thematic structures are built around movement that is charismatic and complex, but not excessive. The dancers take presentational risks, but not physical ones. Because my works are socially disturbing and perceived as being deliberately provocative, these aspects have been interpreted as dangerous physicality.

With Amjad in 2007, you made deconstructing Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty your central focus. With this new creation, you've been inspired by baroque opera, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Gluck's Orphane et Eurydice. What is driving this deconstruction phase?

In order to deconstruct, you first need historical icons that can trigger cultural memories embedded into the fabric of our society. Then you can shock the audience by attacking these self-referencing preconceptions.

What exactly does the word deconstruction mean to you?

Deconstruction means disassociation. In the arts, dance and music are associated by tradition. The emotion of the music influences how people view the dance, and vice versa. I interfere with the fundamental aspects of arts integration. The music is a separate entity from the dance, and the choreography is a separate element from the narrative. They are linked thematically only because they are taking place on the same stage. I introduce ideas that collide with conventional perceptions, such as Tchaikovsky's ballet fairy tales being the tip of something deep and dark, or the deaths of Dido and Eurydice being mythic journeys into the unconscious. The audience has to connect the dots. That's the adventure of art.

And finally, can you relent and tell us what La La La Human Steps means? I know you balk at that question. Also, why does this new work not have a title?

La La La represents baby talk, sounds without meaning, but with structure. In other words, the potential of the structure of baby talk is language. The potential of human steps is dance. As for titles, they don't mean anything. If one comes to me, I'll use it.

La La La Human Steps performs in Montreal Saturday night; Ottawa, May 18-19; and Toronto, May 26 to June 1.

Sarah McLachlans Life In Balletic Form

Source: www.thestar.com - By Bruce DeMara

Choreographed by Jean Grand-Matre. Until May 7 at Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary; 403-245-4549; May 12 to 14, Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium; 780-428-6839 or www.albertaballet.com

(May 06, 2011)
Sarah McLachlan has made it official. The normally humble Canadian singer/song writer adores Fumbling Towards Ecstasy not her breakthrough 1993 album, which she has every right to admire, but a dance spectacle of the same name that marks the third pop-driven venture masterminded by Alberta Ballets artistic director Jean Grand-Matre.

At a media conference following Thursday nights sold-out world premiere at the 2,500-seat Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary, McLachlan said she found it overwhelming beautiful to see her music transformed into a physical manifestation of its emotions, which pretty much sums up what the ballet achieves.

Although Grand-Matre has given his latest ballet a quasi-narrative that traces the arc of a womens emotional journey from childhood to maturity with all its attendant ups and downs the total effect is more generalized and poetic.

McLachlan fans will inevitably look for parallels between incidents in the ballet and events in their idols life as they did with Alberta Ballets 2007 Joni Mitchell work, The Fiddle and the Drum but just as McLachlans songs as not specifically autobiographical, nor is the dance.

Unlike last years Elton John-fuelled Love Lies Bleeding, where a single dancer represented the pop music knight throughout, this time Grand-Matre has cast different women to embody the emotional journey the ballet encompasses.

While the focus is understandably the challenge of womanhood, with a nod to McLachlans own life, the ballets more universal message is about love, vulnerability and courage.

Grand-Matre has drawn 13 songs from the McLachlan catalogue, including a track from the 2010 release, Laws of Illusion. For lovers of McLachlans music they offer a satisfying sampler of her artistic range from ballad to more hard-edged rock but primarily serve to move the story along from childhood innocence, through sexual awakening, romance, betrayal and to recovery.

Not surprisingly, the power of sisterhood in its broad sense, is a recurrent theme and the men, except for several key duets, are secondary to its basic purpose.

Choreographically, Grand-Matre resorts to a familiar personal vocabulary that blends classical ballet the women in toe shoes with more visceral, contemporary-style movement. Sometimes he over punctuates phrases and the criss-crossing of dancers can become wearing, but overall the movement flows naturally from the music, capturing abstractly the spiritual yearning it often contains.

His collaborators have served him well, creating an atmospheric, mysterious and at times almost surreal environment.

In his first theatrical assignment, Canadian fashion designer Paul Hardy introduces just the right note of fantasy and sensuality. Pierre Lavoies lighting blends seamlessly with New York-based Adam Larsons stunning animated projections. Larsons images, some drawn from McLachlans own artwork or referencing her love of water and sea life, provide a metaphorical subtext both startling and provocative. Larsen also pulls off some neat illusions, turning set designer Scott Reids wavy, cross-stage ramp into a magical dreamland.

McLachlan says her only regret on Thursday night was not to be up on stage with the dancers. I wanted to be right in there. Who knows? Given her delight with the ballet, it might just happen and that would be really something.


Sony Centre Offers Elton Ballet And More

Source: www.thestar.com - By Richard

(May 11, 2011) The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts announced its 2011-2012 season on Wednesday, continuing to offer the broadest possible international programming, while making sure that Canadian excellence is honoured as well. The head item on the season is the Alberta Ballets pop hit Love Lies Bleeding, inspired by the songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Already a huge hit after its debut last year, the work has been acclaimed as an examination of the cult of celebrity and the triumphs and challenges of superstardom. The rest of the programming covers the world, running from the classic (Russias Bolshoi Ballet in Swan Lake), to the populist (Cubas Kings of Salsa), to family entertainment (The Backyardigans), the ethnic (South Africas Soweto Gospel Choir) and the dazzling (The National Chinese Acrobats). Information on the season can be found at www.sonycentre.ca


Culture Days Returns For Second Year

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Marsha Lederman Vancouver

(May 09, 2011) The hand-wringing in the arts community over what a Conservative majority government might mean for arts funding is no secret, but on Monday, the cultural community was all smiles amid the performance art, live painting and drumming at the announcement launching Canada's second annual Culture Days.

"What we wanted to do when we first thought about [Culture Days] ... was try to better connect Canadians and Canadian artists," said Antoni Cimolino, chair of the event's national steering committee (and general director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival) at the national launch in Vancouver. "And maybe in the process we'd find out ... that there's a bit of an artist in all of us. ... But the reason more than any other we wanted to do this was because we suspected it might be fun. And it was fun."

Last year's inaugural Culture Days saw more than 4,500 events, attracting millions of people according to Cimolino. The hope is that this year's event surpasses that. Even before its official 2011 launch on Monday, more than 300 activity organizers in 122 cities and towns had pre-registered.

There's an emphasis on free, hands-on and behind-the-scenes events, so audiences in Toronto will be able to watch a professional ballet class for students at the National Ballet School; in Winnipeg, people will be able to create their own live action or stop-motion animated film at Freeze Frame Storyline FX; and the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company will hold an open house.

"The success of the arts ultimately lies not with governments but with Canadians and their connection with the arts themselves," Cimolino said. "So this notion somehow that the arts are an elitist activity couldn't be further from the truth."

Inspired by Quebec's Journées de la culture event - celebrating its 15th anniversary this year - as well as Alberta Arts Days, Culture Days was initiated by The Canadian Arts Summit, Culture pour tous, the Canada Council for the Arts and The Banff Centre. Its objective is to raise awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement in the arts.

"Culture Days is to me an effort to start to scream at the top of our metaphorical and literal lungs: This is an artistic country," said Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Radio's Q and the event emcee (CBC is a sponsor of Culture Days, as is The Globe and Mail). "We've known that, but sometimes we need a little help with the brand management, you know?"

Culture Days 2011 will run Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and 2. For more information, visit culturedays.ca.

New CN Tower Attraction Offers A Walk On The Outside

Source: www.thestar.com - Carola Vyhnak

(May 09, 2011) Life on the edge is about to get real scary. Like 116-storeys-up scary.

Imagine this: Youre standing on an open ledge on the outside of the
CN Tower. Now lean back, arms outstretched, into nothing but air 356 metres above the city.

All that holds you is a cable attached to a body harness and overhead rail.

Introducing EdgeWalk, the most extreme experience in the towers 35-year history, according to public relations people.

Opening Aug. 1, the attraction will be the worlds highest full circle hands-free walk, tower officials announced on Monday.

It will offer thrill seekers a heart-stopping, 360-degree panorama as they walk a 1.5-metre-wide platform a distance of 150 metres around the top of the main pod.

Heres how it will work:

Adventure lovers will walk hands-free in groups of six to eight while connected to an overhead safety rail via a trolley and harness system. The walk will last 20 to 30 minutes with the entire experience running 1.5 hours.

Trained guides will encourage visitors to push their personal limits, allowing those who dare to lean back over Toronto, with nothing but air beneath them, said a news release.

A guide will capture it all on video for daredevils to relive on dull days.

During our 35th anniversary year we are excited to introduce visitors to the most exciting attraction in our history, said Jack Robinson, chief operating officer of Canada Lands Company, which owns the tower.

Several staffers admitted last week it would be too wild a walk for them.

Its scary, one restaurant worker shuddered. You wouldnt catch me up there.

Itll be pretty windy out there, another offered. I hope theyre taking that into account.

Its going to be a thriller, added a co-worker. But its not for everyone. Its an adrenalin thing.

Spokespeople assured would-be walkers that every aspect of the attraction has been developed with the utmost safety and security in mind.

One employee compared EdgeWalk to a similar attraction at Auckland Sky Tower in New Zealand.

Still under construction, the steel grated platform will be supported by 36 arms linked to separate rails for the tour guide and group of walkers. The support arms can be seen as a series of rods protruding from the roof of the 360 Restaurant.

The walk will cost $175, which includes a video and other souvenirs. Tickets go on sale June 1. The attraction will be offered until October this year and reopen in May 2012.

EdgeWalk facts

  Cost: $175 per person
  Height of new walking ledge: 356 metres or 116 storeys
  Height of CN Tower: 553 metres
  Width of ledge: 1.5 metres
  Distance around: 150 metres
  Number of hands used to hold on: 0
  Weight of steelwork: 16,330 kg
  Duration from design to completion: 10 months
  Number of thrill-seekers per group: 6 to 8

So What Do You Do Jawn Murray, Entertainment Reporter?

Source: MediaBistro - By Janelle Harris

(May 11, 2011) Now celebrating his 12th anniversary in the industry,
entertainment news guru Jawn Murray enjoys notoriety as one of the most recognizable experts on Black Hollywood -- but please don't confuse his inside reporting with the dreaded "G" word. "I guess I technically am in the gossip industry, but I really hate that term," he explains, "because for one, I studied journalism and, for two, 'gossip' has such a negative connotation to it."

Fresh off of a successful stint as a columnist for AOL Black Voices, Murray reluctantly penned his last column for the site after becoming less than thrilled by new creative restrictions imposed by the Huffington regime. With that turbulence behind him -- some are already speculating that Arianna and her crew will dump Black Voices altogether -- Murray is pushing on with his radio gig on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and excited about new possibilities ahead. Here, the self-proclaimed one-man machine talks blogging, business, and his Nancy Grace regret.

Name: Jawn Murray
Position: Celebrity journalist
Resume: Launched career while still an undergrad at Norfolk State University (go Spartans!), penning an entertainment and lifestyle column for EURweb.com. Served as entertainment news reporter to eponymous radio shows for Doug Banks, Bo Griffin and Rolonda Watts. Recruited by AOL Black Voices in 2004 to pen the "BV Buzz" column that ultimately helped drive 75 percent of the site's traffic to the entertainment news section. Former entertainment go-to guy for the now-defunct Star Jones Show on TruTV. Regularly appears on CNN, MSNBC, VH1, BET and TV One and currently featured on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. Penned stories for New York Daily News, OK!, Uptown and In Touch. Named one of the "30 on the Rise" by Ebony and recognized as one of "40 Power Players Under 40" by NAACP.
Birthday: April 21
Hometown: Warrenton, VA
Education: Studied journalism at Norfolk State University
Marital status: Single
Media idol: Oprah Winfrey and "anybody who's ever really worked in entertainment news"
Favourite TV show: The Game
Guilty pleasure: Watching professional wrestling
Last book read: "I just started Star Jones' Satan's Sisters. Before that, I read Kirk Franklin's The Blueprint."
Twitter handle: @jawnmurray

So, when you were an undergrad at Norfolk State, were you the man with all the juicy gossip on campus?
When I was in school, I left for a year to intern at a radio station in Washington, DC called WPGC. Around that time, the Internet was really taking off, so I developed an online newsletter because I had worked with Michele Wright, the midday host there, helping to produce content for her entertainment news segment. And so that's kind of how I got bit by the bug. So I set out to be a one-man Access Hollywood, so to speak. When I went back to school, it was funny because artists would come to town to perform, and people were surprised that they gravitated to me the way that they did. But they didn't necessarily recognize that I had this year to kind of build these industry relationships even while I was in school.

You've held down multiple high-profile gigs. How does each new venture come into place? Do you go out and pitch yourself or do companies generally come to you?
I had been writing a number one column for EURweb.com called "Jawn's Juice," and at that time, they were probably the most prominent urban entertainment portal on the Web. We were reaching lots of people. So when AOL acquired Black Voices, they originally approached Karu F. Daniels about coming on as an entertainment columnist. But when he heard the description, he thought I was better suited for the opportunity and he actually recommended me for it. What was funny was that a year later, Karu joined the company in a different capacity and became my boss.

"I guess I technically am in the gossip industry, but I really hate that term."

Tom [Joyner] and his team had invited me to come on his Tom Joyner Morning Show crew as a personality for three years. And so there was an incident with Bobby Brown that ultimately led to him getting separated from Whitney Houston and I went on the show -- I believe it was in September 2006 -- just as a subject matter expert just to talk about their split. Tom liked the way I did entertainment news in a very talking-to-my-friend kind of way, and I made everybody on the show laugh. They literally made me an offer to join the show that same day.

Are you choosing to keep your focus on the Black community or do you have plans to broaden your interests into, say, an Extra and Entertainment Tonight?
I eat, sleep and breathe Black entertainment, but I also love going on shows like Jane Velez-Mitchell, Joy Behar on HLN and talking about Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera or Charlie Sheen. I really have to credit Star Jones, because when she had her show on Court TV, I was the entertainment and pop culture contributor, and she encouraged me to do stories that were outside of my regular subject matter. Her whole thing was, 'I talk to you on a personal level and we talk about everything entertainment, so I want you to convey that on my show,' which made me an overall better talent. Black entertainment is my focus, but I'm not limited to it.

In 2010, you tweeted "all those militant-nappy headed #angryblack women who didn't think Tyler Perry was worthy of doing For Colored Girls can kick rocks." The people were not amused. What did you learn from that experience?
In retrospect, I probably would not have tweeted it. It was a bad joke; anyone who knows me, anyone who's heard me on the radio, anyone who's followed my work knows that I have a snarky, sarcastic, sometimes dry sense of humour. For years, I had been the one on the phone helping my high-profile friends like Sherri Shepard when her whole "is the Earth round or flat" quote was taken out of context. So, while I've become comfortable being a visible media personality, I never realized the impact and the reach I had until I was on the receiving end of the treatment I got last fall. I learned one, that there are more eyes on me than I recognized, and two, when those amounts of people are watching what you say and do, you have to be conscientious. Some of the irreverent things you would say in private with your friends don't work on the social media platform.

Working in the entertainment business can make you a target for retaliation from celebs who are -- shall we say, resistant? -- to being a topic of discussion. What's a story you regretted covering?
I only have one regret. I was on the episode of Nancy Grace that did like this whole tabloid-y ambush on [singer] Fantasia when she was going through the situation with the extramarital affair. Going into the show, I reached out to her manager to get a statement that captured her voice. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the studio, he had released the statement to TMZ and CNN and to the AP, so Nancy Grace's show wouldn't let me read it on air. The only thing that I was able to say was that I, like all the rest of her fans and people following her career, wanted to believe the best in her. But I did not know that show was going to run these packages that were really damaging. In retrospect, I would not have wanted to do that episode, especially knowing the impact that it ultimately had on her and her saying that it contributed to her wanting to kill herself. I don't feel directly responsible because I did everything I needed to do as a journalist to be fair and balanced, but the show became such a negative situation.

"Blogging has made entertainment journalists the good guys. I mean, we're like the Sunday school teachers because of the salacious, scandalous, inflammatory websites."

There have been some celebrity feuds -- anybody who does anything in entertainment will tell you that celebrities are the most sensitive, insecure people you're going to deal with. And more times than none, they get mad when you tell the truth about them. I had some celebrity wives or ex-wives get mad at me. I've had a comedian get mad at my impersonation of her on the radio. I had a very public and notorious feud with [singer] Brandy, and it's funny because she and I have never met in person. It literally went from her mother wanting to be my manager to them trying to get me fired from all of my jobs. I initially reported a story on the radio that they vehemently denied, but Brandy ultimately disclosed it was true in a Sister 2 Sister magazine cover story a year later. So that's the type of foolishness that we deal with.

What, in your opinion, is the difference between entertainment journalism and entertainment blogging? Is there any difference at all?
Blogging has made entertainment journalists the good guys. I mean, we're like the Sunday school teachers because of the salacious, scandalous, inflammatory websites -- I mean, they're like the Jerry Springer Shows of entertainment news portals. I have issues with the way some people handle the whole blogging platform because anybody who's intentionally mean-spirited is just problematic for me. But on the good side of it, they've made celebrities gravitate to folk like me because they know people respect our voice and we can help them clean up a lot of the mess that's made online.

What advice would you give to other journos looking to branch out the same way you have?
Create your own audience and find your voice, because that is what makes you unique. Don't aim to be like anybody: The reason Ryan Seacrest is Ryan Seacrest is because he's Ryan Seacrest. So, while you may like aspects of why he is successful, find out how to be the best you that you can be. That'll make you stand out in the crowd. Don't do or say anything about anybody that you wouldn't want done to yourself. Maintain integrity and study the industry. Knowing the business, knowing who you are and building authentic relationships that can grow organically can take you far.

Janelle Harris is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. She documents her editorial adventures at www.thewriteordiechick.com.


Kidnap Victim Jaycee Dugard Writes Tell-All Memoir

Source: www.thestar.com - By David Bauder

(May 10, 2011) A woman, kidnapped at 11 from a school bus stop and
held hostage for more than 18 years, is going to tell her story in a book to be published by Simon & Shuster. Jaycee Dugard was abducted in June 1991 and held by Phillip Garrido and his wife in a tent behind their home. During that time, she was sexually assaulted by Garrido and bore two daughters. Garrido and his wife pleaded guilty last month to rape and kidnapping charges. The memoir, entitled A Stolen Life, will be authored by Dugard, 31, and will tell the full story of her ordeal, the publisher said in a statement. It will hit book stores July 12. Last year, the California state assembly approved $20 million to settle claims against the state for negligence in failing to protect Dugard and rescue her sooner.


Nintendo Cuts Price Of Wii

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(May 04, 2011) REDMOND, Wash Nintendo is dropping the price of its Wii game system by $50 to $150 and introducing a new line of cheaper Wii games.

Starting May 15, the newly priced Wii system will come in either black or white with a Mario Kart Wii game and a Wii Wheel accessory, replacing the previously included Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort games.

The price cut the second one since the Wii launched for $250 in 2006 comes less than a month after the Japanese company announced the console will have a successor next year. Nintendo Co. said in late April it will show off a playable model of the new system at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which runs June 7-9 in Los Angeles.

The company said Wednesday that the Nintendo Selects collection of games will come with a suggested retail price of $20. The four games include The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Animal Crossing: City Folk, Mario Super Sluggers and Wii Sports. It's the first time Wii Sports will be sold separately rather than packaged with the Wii.

The Wii redefined gaming when it launched nearly five years ago, expanding video game audience by offering intuitive motion controllers instead of complex buttons. But the Wii isn't as technologically powerful as its counterparts from Sony and Microsoft, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. Unlike those two, it doesn't offer high-definition images.

Nintendo has not given details on the capabilities of the new console.

How To Save Money In Your Digital Home

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Omar El Akkad

(May 04, 2011) On May 1st Ontario Hydro increased electricity prices across the province. It was the third major increase in the cost of electricity in 13 months. In addition to rising energy costs, Digital Home owners have seen the cost of television, Internet, landline and wireless telephone service all increase well in excess of inflation over the last five years.

If your salary has not kept up, then rising prices means cutting back on discretionary items in order to keep the family budget in balance. To help out, here are some tried and true ways to get more for less.

Saving on TV

The quickest and easiest way to cut your TV bill is to reduce the number of channels you subscribe to each month. While most Canadians tune into fewer than fifteen channels a month, most Digital cable customers load up with programming packages that offer hundreds of channels. My recommendation is to analyze your television viewing for a month, find out how many channels you actually watch and then look for a package that best meets your needs. Many Digital channels can be purchased individually so consider subscribing to your providers basic package and then pay for the few extra channels you need individually. In addition consider cutting back your programming packages during the summer when youre not watching a lot of television or cut back the premium movie channels in the winter when there is a lot on regular television. (Readers who like the idea of paying nothing for TV should consider an over-the-air antenna. I wrote about OTA in Goodbye cable, hello free TV last October). Why pay for more channels than you watch?

If you cant bear to lose a single channel then consider changing service providers. Most television providers offer new customers special teaser rates that can last as long as six months and can amount to several hundreds of dollars in savings. After a year, take advantage of the teaser rates from your old provider. Stuck with old equipment? Rogers is currently offering a free $499 HD PVR, two months of free digital cable and a discounted rate for former satellite television customers.

If moving to a new provider seems too onerous then you can threaten to cancel your service. Call up your existing provider and politely inform them the competition is offering you a better deal and can they match it. The customer service representative will often offer to lower the price you are paying or put you through to their retentions department who can offer you a better deal. Digital Home readers often report discounts of 20 or 30% although 10% is more common.

While threatening to cancel may seem extreme, remember its your money. Digital Home readers who have employed these strategies often comment that the real suckers are the customers who dont demand deals from their services provider.

Saving on Internet and Phone Bills

In addition to saving you money on your phone bill, switching providers or threatening to cancel are also excellent strategies when negotiating a better deal on your wireless or landline phone bill.

Canadians in cities where new wireless phone providers -- Mobilicity, Public Mobile and Wind Mobile -- all report the big three wireless operators have been quite willing to lower subscribers monthly costs when it comes up to contract renewal times. Dont sign a new wireless contract with Bell, Rogers or Telus without a discount.

To save on your Internet bill, consider switching to a third party Internet access provider. I am a relatively heavy Internet user. Rogers wanted to charge me $100 a month for 175GB of internet usage. Instead I signed up to Teksavvy Cable and Primus DSL Internet service. Both services cost less than $40 a month. Teksavvy provides me with a 300 GB cap while Primus is Unlimited. For $20 less than what I would pay for Rogers Ultimate Internet, I have two ISPs and virtually unlimited capacity. In addition, I'm never without Internet service even if one provider stops working for a short period of time.

Reducing Electricity Costs

Once youve reduced how much you spend for digital services, its time to find ways to reduce the cost of powering all the electronic devices used when enjoying those services. Heres five ways.

Turn it off: Did you know that a Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 video game console uses almost 200 watts of electricity when its running? Televisions can burn between 100 and 400 watts even with no one using them. A monitor with a screen saver is still burning electricity. If you're not using it, then turn it off.

Have your computer turn off and on automatically: Computers, especially those with discrete graphics cards can burn hundreds of watts of electricity even when idle. During the day, have your computer go into sleep mode after 5 or 10 minutes from your desk. To save even more electricity, my computer automatically shuts down every night at 11pm. My computers BIOS is then set up to automatically start my computer up at 6:48am every morning along with all my favourite programs. The result is my computer is fully shutdown at night but still ready to go when I get to my desk at 7 a.m.

Shutdown your wireless router: A wireless router broadcast signals 24 hours a day even when no one is using the network. Many routers such as those made by D-Link let you turn off the wireless signals for portions of the day. Mine stops broadcasting from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. The result is a 25 per cent electricity savings for eight hours and less likelihood of hackers getting access to my wireless network while Im sleeping.

Eliminate Vulture draws: Standby power, also known as vampire power, is the electricity consumed by electronic appliances when they are in standby mode. According to the makers of the Energy Smart power bar a well-equipped home theatre might use as much as $50 of electricity every year when left on standby for an average of 19 hours per day. To reduce consumption, the company has created a line of surge protectors that save electricity by automatically turning off outlets and preventing standby power waste. You can also eliminate the amount of electricity used by devices in standby power through the use of timers.

Install a programmable thermostat: Reduce the cost of heating your home or running your air conditioner by installing a programmable thermostat that allows Digital Home owners to set temperature settings for specific times of the day. You can raise or lower the room temperature during the day when nobody is home or at night when everyone is sleeping.

Know what electricity costs during the day: With the introduction of smart metres in several provinces, electricity producers have begun to introduce Time of Use pricing, which adjusts the price of electricity throughout the day. Take advantage of off-peak pricing through the use of timers. Put a timer on your pool, your hot tub or your outdoor lights. Heat the pool or your hot tub between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and you can save money. Set your air conditioner to come on at 7 p.m. and run at night rather than run through the day when rates are higher.

Hugh Thompson is the owner and publisher of Digital Home, a consumer electronics news and information website. As a voice for the Canadian consumer, Hugh is a frequent guest on radio and television programs across the country discussing the latest in consumer electronics and the business of convergence in the Digital Home. www.digitalhome.ca

Hugh's column will appear on the first Wednesday of the month.

Feeling Squeezed, RIM Learns To Share

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Omar El Akkad

(May 06, 2011) When Research In Motion Ltd.'s Mike Lazaridis introduced Microsoft Corp. head Steve Ballmer during a speech in Orlando on Tuesday, few in the audience could say they saw it coming.

RIM and Microsoft are direct competitors and rivals. Both companies are fighting for a slice of the growing smart-phone market - RIM with its mobile devices and Microsoft with its Windows Phone operating system. The U.S. tech giant, in fact, has just formed a major partnership with Nokia that both companies hope will lead to attractive phones that steal some of RIM's customers.

And yet here were Mr. Lazaridis and Mr. Ballmer, smiling on stage together.

The announcement itself - that from now on, BlackBerry phones and tablets would come preloaded with Microsoft's Bing search engine - was not earth-shaking. But it was the context that mattered. The day before, RIM had unveiled a new software tool designed to help corporate IT departments manage their companies' smart phones wirelessly, with an important new feature: It could also be used for managing smart phones built or powered by RIM rivals Apple Inc.
AAPL-Q and Google Inc. GOOG-Q

For RIM, it was a tacit admission of the gains that the competition, in particular Apple, have made in a market once monopolized by the BlackBerry - the corporate and government market. That is perhaps the most significant development to come out of this week BlackBerry conference, now in its 10th year. With the loss of its dominance, RIM's approach seems to have shifted, and the company is opening itself up to the idea that it needs more partnerships and alliances to thrive.

"It's a positive that they're offering these tools," said Colin Gillis, director of research and senior technology analyst at BGC Financial. "It's a negative that the market has shifted and necessitated this change."

For RIM, the new software comes with potential risks and rewards. On one hand, it may give some companies more incentive to purchase devices other than BlackBerrys. On the other hand, should companies buy non-BlackBerry devices anyway, at least they may still use RIM's software to manage them, giving the smart-phone maker a foothold in the corporate space even among businesses that aren't purchasing its hardware.

Much of RIM's power as a mobile device maker comes from two things: the technical infrastructure it built to support the BlackBerry network, and the company's massive user base, which now stands at about 60 million. Indeed, this year's annual BlackBerry conference had the largest attendance to date, with more than 5,000 people taking part.

But in terms of growth, especially in North America, some numbers are troubling. According to comScore, RIM's BlackBerry operating system is no longer the top smart-phone platform in the United States, having been surpassed by Google Inc's Android-powered phones.

It is difficult to compare the two, since RIM is the only company manufacturing BlackBerrys, whereas multiple firms make Android-powered phones. But according to comScore, Android phones experienced a six-percentage-point increase in market share in the U.S. between December of 2010 and March of 2011, and now represents 34 per cent of the market. During the same period, BlackBerrys lost 4.5 points, to 27.1 per cent. (Apple has 25.5 per cent.)

Nonetheless, RIM remains the manufacturer of choice for the enterprise smart-phone market, even as Apple and Google experience tremendous growth among consumers. But device exclusivity in the corporate world is quickly coming to an end, as more IT departments offer a choice of phones, or even allow employees to use their
own devices for work purposes.

At RIM's annual conference, all signs suggested the company is aware of that shift, and is attempting to get ahead of it through a strategy that combines strategic partnerships and new products. In addition to the phone management software, RIM also introduced a tool called BlackBerry balance, which essentially splits a device into two gated sections, one for personal use, and one for business. The software is designed to let users enjoy apps, games and other consumer services without risking the security of their corporate data and software - essentially, RIM is attempting to give users two mobile devices in one.

At the same time, RIM's increased willingness to look outward for potential partners reflects the company's attempt to fix some of its real and perceived deficiencies as quickly as possible. Last month, RIM announced it will let users of its PlayBook tablet run applications originally designed for mobile computers running the Android operating system - a move that will immediately expand the number of apps available to PlayBook users by several hundred thousand. As it did with Adobe during the development of the PlayBook, RIM is now partnering with Microsoft to put Bing on BlackBerrys in large part because the two companies share common enemies - namely, Google and Apple. Microsoft was likely interested in the partnership because Google dominates the mobile search market, whereas Adobe was eager to help RIM design its new tablet because Apple's mobile devices won't play multimedia designed with Flash, an Adobe product.

But perhaps the most important development to come out of RIM's annual conference is the company's attempt to position itself as a central cog in the field of enterprise smart-phone management, even if the smart phones those enterprises are using aren't exclusively BlackBerrys any more.

"[The new management software] allows RIM to grow with the market no matter which way it goes," said Ameet Shah, managing director for business development at Toronto-based app developer Five Mobile Inc.

"In a way, they're protecting themselves."


The Beauty of Bali

Source: www.thestar.com - Debra Black

(May 06, 2011) UBUD, BALI In a family compound just outside this small town, a Hindu priest recites prayers as a young couple hold their 3-month old baby. His head is covered in holy water, then, as onlookers make a circle, he is lifted up and down by female family members. His feet are just barely grazing the ground.

This ritual is performed on every baby in Bali. Its part of an ongoing series of ceremonies that occur throughout a child and an adults life, all part of the Balinese Hindu faith.

In Bali babies are considered godlike until they are six months old. They are carried everywhere to protect them against disease and the spirits of the underworld who are considered so powerful they could swallow up the baby, imprisoning them forever in their demonic world. So care is taken to protect them in their early years. They are always held in the arms of their mother, aunt, grandmother.

As incense burns and mixes with the aroma of nearby frangipani blossoms, family and friends look on. Offerings of food, flowers, rice, coins and incense sit artfully on banana leaves. A feast of a stuffed roasted suckling pig is offered to guests.

I was lucky enough to attend this ceremony an auspicious beginning to my two-week stay in Bali. Religious ceremonies are a daily part of life in Bali where sometimes traffic stops so a religious procession can make its way down the streets. Hinduism here is played out not only in family compounds, but on street corners, village temples, even rice paddies. Its all about balancing good and evil; male versus female.

The scene captures the essence of Bali an island full of spiritualism, mysticism and witchcraft. Life in Bali is always about tri hita karana or the relationships between the Balinese and others or God and the environment, according to Janet De Neefe, author and restaurateur in her book
Fragrant Rice which details her life and marriage in Bali.

Indonesia is a cultural gem but Bali is the diamond, said De Neefe in an interview with the Star. It has a diverse culture that incorporates artistry with a reverence for God and nature. It is hard not to be charmed by it.


Whether its from your beach side hotel in Sanur or the secluded beach at Padang Padang where scenes from Eat Pray Love were shot, the beach views are truly breathtaking. Tourism to nearby Kuta took a hit after the 2002 and 2005 terrorist attacks. But it has recovered, and there is a terrific surfer scene as well as fishing and diving.

No trip to Bali is complete without spending time is this quirky town which is an odd mix of expats, the worldly and not so worldly Balinese, tourists and the odd seeker revisiting the 1960s. Walk down any street and youll find offerings burning on the sidewalk, altars to family gods, art, and storefronts for traditional healers. Nearby is the silversmith village of Celuk and the woodcarving village of Mas.

Gunung Batur is a volcano that last erupted in 1994. By noon it is covered in a rolling mist, but the view of it from Kintamani, a nearby village, is spectacular. At the foot of the volcano is Balis largest freshwater lake, Danau Batur.

Northern Bali is often ignored, but the resort community of Lovina, known for its black sand and colourful coral, offers a quiet refuge from southern Balis hustle and bustle. On the way one can visit Braham Arama Vihara, a Thai-style Theravada Buddhist temple with a brightly painted Buddha and other statues. Also on the way is Air Terjun Gitgit, a 40-metre waterfall with a deep pool at the bottom.


For the truly rich and decadent: The Four Seasons in either Ubud or the Barong Resort and Spa or the Four Seasons in Jimbaran; the Bali Hyatt in Sanur; the Bali Inter-Continental and the Ritz-Carlton also in Jimbaran. Also just opened: a W-hotel and spa at Seminyak. Prices vary depending on season. Suites at the Four Season at Sayan, Ubud can average 460 U.S. a night. The W can cost from $270 U.S. to $720 a night. For more everyday budgets: Ubud has dozens of guest houses and cheaper hotels. Rooms at Alam Indah can cost as much as $85 U.S. a night. Or try the Artini 3, which can cost $60 to $80 U.S. or the Peneeda View in Sanur for about $111 U.S. a night. For more suggestions visit www.balitourismboard.org.


Casa Luna (Indonesian fusion) and Indus (also Indonesian gourmet fusion) both are run by Australian expat Janet De Neefe and her Balinese husband Ketut Suardana, Lamak (amazing gourmet fusion with incredible bar), Warung Enak (owned by same owners as Lamak, serving everything Indonesian and more), Caf Wayan (which serves amazing breads and cakes as well as Indonesian fare), Bebek Bengil or the Dirty Duck Diner which is set among the rice fields. Duck is known as the specialty, but try the white fish dish with an Indonesian dry rub of spices. Pizza Bagus makes a great pie. You can go to the market in Sanur and eat Nasi GorengIndonesian fried riceat a table and chairs under the stars.


I woke up early my last morning and shot photographs of the sun coming up over the Indian Ocean. The spectacular turquoise sky shot with pink was like a Camille Pissarro paintingwith just a hint of Salvador Dali


ARRIVING Cathay Pacific flies to Denpassar in Bali through Hong Kong. One can catch a flight from Toronto or Vancouver or if youre not adverse to saving some money fly out of New York. Singapore Airlines and Korean Airlines also flies to Denpassar out of New York.


Walk through the terraced rice paddies; visit a coffee plantation; visit Pura Taman Ayun in Mengwi, Pura Thirtha Empu where a holy spring bubbles up through black sand.
Try the 11th century temple and caves of Gunung Kawi, which dates to the 11th century. Also popular are bike tours, diving, surfing and swimming with dolphins. You can take a yoga class at Yoga Barn www.yogabarn.com, spend two weeks on a yoga retreat with California instructor Ann Barros or spend some time at an ashram near Ubud called Ashram Munivara www.ubudbodyworkscentre.com/ashram. Visit Ubud market at sunrise for fresh produce. Casa Luna and Caf Wayan offer cooking classes. Caf Havana is a new nightclub that features salsa dancing and Latin music. Listen to jazz at Casa Luna on Sunday nights. Attend the International Writers and Readers Festival in October.

AVOIDING Unless you have a thing for monkeys, stay far away from the Monkey Forest in Ubud. Its basically a tourist trap and the monkeys in the forest are downright annoying, snatching away everything from bags to sunglasses. Denpassar is the provincial capital and its like any other big Indonesian city.

SHOPPING Try Bali Becik, with hundreds of handmade beaded sandals in all sizes and styles.

Jean-Francois Fichots on Jl. Raya Pegnosekan combines a unique combination of stones and silver. www.jf-f.com. At Prapen Jewellery you can watch silversmiths work as they create beautiful traditional pieces. www.prapenjewellery.com Fabulous silk and batik pieces can be found at local stalls on the streets and from vendors at tourist attractions. Nowhere is anyone prouder of being a painter or sculpture or designer than in Ubud. The art can be delicately, intricately painted pictures of Balinese dancers or more contemporary works of art like giant sized lotus flowers. For masks and Wayan puppets try I.B. Sutarja, a mask carver in Mas.

At Hardys department store youll find just about everything from a batik fan to peanuts and cookies as well as fresh fruit, appliances and sarongs.

DANCING Dance is revered in Bali. The one I saw was a Kecak Dance and Firewalk at the Laka Leke Hideaway Restaurant. The dancers re-enacted the Hindu story of Lord Rama and the monkey god Hanuman and the search for Ramas wife Sita, who has been captured by an evil lord. Also cool: the procession of life-size puppets of demons called ogoh ogohs in towns across the island on the day before Nyepithe Hindu Day of Silence and New Year in March.


Animal Kingdom Wins Kentucky Derby

Source: www.globeandmail.com - The Associated Press

(May 07, 2011) John Velazquez won the Kentucky Derby by a broken nose.

An injury to
Animal Kingdom's regular rider, Robby Albarado, cleared the way for Velazquez to pick up the mount and once he took the reins Saturday, he rode his good luck all the way to the winner's circle.

"For once, I'm on the good end of it," Velazquez said. The last three years, the New York-based jockey came to Churchill Downs with a colt considered a leading contender, only to have it withdrawn.

This time, he was supposed to ride Uncle Mo before the colt was scratched due to a lingering stomach problem. Then Albarado breaks his nose when he's thrown off his horse and kicked in the face before a race.

"All of a sudden I pick up this one and he wins the Derby, so it was meant to be," he said.

Trainer Graham Motion got lucky, too.

His top Derby horse, Wood Memorial winner Toby's Corner, never even made it to Louisville. He had a leg injury and never left Motion's barn in Maryland.

Animal Kingdom, who'd never raced on dirt before, reacted to his new rider the way a champion should, charging down the middle of the stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths.

Nehro was second and Mucho Macho Man was another neck back in third.

Dialled In went off as the 5-1 favourite, but finished eighth.

"It's words that you can't describe," Velazquez said. "But I do really feel really bad for Robby. I hope he's winning the Derby with me here. I know he got hurt so this is for both of us, buddy. I know you're not on it, but I know you're with me."

Animal Kingdom went off as a 20-1 longshot in the lightly regarded field. He won the Spiral Stakes on the synthetic surface at Turfway Park on March 26, but had never before run on dirt.

He looked right at home under the twin spires.

Velazquez deftly kept Animal Kingdom out of trouble in the 19-horse field and the colt covered the 1 1/4-mile distance in 2:02.04.

Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch, who started from the rail, was vanned off the track with a leg injury and was taken to the backside barns for an X-ray.

Predators Edge Canucks To Avoid Playoff Elimination

Source: www.globeandmail.com - By Matthew Sekeres

(May 07, 2011) Down 3-1 in the series and playing Game 5 on enemy turf, the Nashville Predators needed some breaks and heroes to stay alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

They got both.

Joel Ward and David Legwand each had two goals as the visiting Predators defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 at Rogers Arena Saturday. Nashville can even the Western Conference semi-final, and force a Game 7, with a win Monday at Bridgestone Arena.

"We've got a resilient group here, and we're hungry," Ward said after a three-point evening. "We're not worried about what the critics or what anybody else is saying about us, we're just worried about ourselves."

Ward called it his best NHL game ever, as he scored two goals early in the third period to break a 2-2 tie. Legwand evened the score in the second period with a fluky goal. He flipped the puck over the back of Vancouver's net and goaltender Roberto Luongo, and watched it bounce off Alexander Edler's arm and in.

"We had a little life," Legwand said of trailing on the road in a series where goals have been difficult to come by. "Obviously, when you're down 2-1 after one [period], it kind of gets sucked out of you a little bit. But we came out with a little emotion and we worked hard."

The Canucks must now make a fourth trip back to the American Midwest during these playoffs, one they were hoping to avoid after taking a 3-1 series lead. Vancouver was up 3-0 over the Chicago Blackhawks in its first-round series, but lost three straight and needed a seventh game to advance.

The Canucks were seeking to make their third conference final in the club's 40-year history, and their first final-four since 1994.

"Re-energize, re-focus and get ready for Game 6," head coach Alain Vigneault said. "It's a game of mistakes. We made two and they made us pay for it."

Edler made several in the game, as he was responsible for Ward's second goal after failing to clear the puck from Vancouver's zone.

The bright spot for the Canucks was again Ryan Kesler. The second-line centre had two goals, including one in the final four minutes. He scored that one after taking a puck in the mouth earlier in the third period, and leaving the game for stitches.

Kesler has been the best player in the series, and such a pebble in Nashville's shoe that centre Mike Fisher squirted him with a water bottle during a skate past the Predators bench. Of course, Kesler is no angel and had a few words for that same bench as he was leaving the ice with a bloody mouth.

Raffi Torres had Vancouver's first goal to tie the game 1-1 six minutes into the first period. Legwand opened scoring with a shorthanded tally on a breakaway, the team's second of the series while playing four-on-five.

Canucks winger Mikael Samuelsson left the game late in the first period with a left leg injury and did not return. He will not fly to Music City, and will miss Game 6.

Pekka Rinne stopped 31 shots for the Predators, while Luongo was beaten four times on just 23 shots. It was the most up-tempo game of the series by far, and hardly resembled the slow-moving grinds of the first four contest.

"I didn't want us to play back on our heels," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We said if we're going to get back in the series, let's go for it."

Canada Squeezes Past Sweden At Hockey Worlds

Source: www.globeandmail.com - Chris Johnston, The Canadian Press

(May 09, 2011) KOSICE, Slovakia Canada is showing very little concern for any opponent standing in its way at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

The reward for completing a perfect run through the round robin is an early date with Russia in the quarter-finals, but the Canadians knew that would be the outcome if they beat Sweden on Monday night. However, it didn't keep them from giving their best effort during a 3-2 victory.

You can't pick your poison, said Canadian coach Ken Hitchcock. They're all going to be good teams and you might get them early, you might get them late. But for us it doesn't matter who we play, we're going to have to beat them all to get to the next level. ...

Winning's a feeling and you don't want to let go of the feeling.

Hitchcock also displayed a fighting spirit during a heated post-game exchange with Leif Boork, a former Swedish national team coach who now writes a newspaper column. Boork felt Canadian captain Rick Nash delivered a blindside hit on Mikael Backlund late in the second period and Hitchcock didn't agree with his assessment.

I thought it was a good hit, you thought it was a bad hit, so ask another question we're not going to debate it, Hitchcock said before walking out of the press conference.

Just like that, a tournament that had been off to a sleepy start felt like it had some intrigue.

Next up for the Canadian team is a flight to Bratislava on Tuesday and a do-or-die game against the Russians at the Orange Arena on Thursday (TSN, 2:15 p.m. ET).

Before then, they'll learn if the IIHF wants to further discipline Nash for his huge open-ice hit on Backlund. The captain received a two-minute penalty for charging on the play and felt that it was sufficient punishment.

I don't know if I left my feet or what it was, but I might have a bit, said Nash. It's tough to put people in that situation but he kind of just watched his pass and had his head down.

Swedish coach Par Marts disagreed.

I think the hit on Backlund should give him a game misconduct, it was a blindside hit, he told reporters in Swedish. I hope the IIHF disciplinary committee will review the hit.

The game was the most effective of the tournament for Nash, who was credited with the winning goal at 12:31 of the third period. He was providing a screen on goalie Erik Ersberg but didn't appear to deflect a point shot from Brent Burns.

When talking to reporters afterwards, the two players initially indicated the other had scored it. Then Burns reconsidered.

If he doesn't want it, I'll take it though, he said.

James Neal and John Tavares had the other goals for Canada (6-0) while David Petrasek and Mattias Tedenby replied for the Swedes (4-2).

Jonathan Bernier earned his second straight start in goal and finished with 23 saves, making him the most likely choice to play against Russia. Hitchcock said he'd sleep on the choice between Bernier and James Reimer, just as he did prior to the game with Sweden.

He certainly took a step (forward), Hitchcock said of Bernier. He was very good. We needed him tonight, we really needed him.

The final game of the tournament at Steel Arena was played before an enthusiastic sellout crowd of 7,633 who sang, clapped and whistled throughout.

It made for a delightful atmosphere that was matched by the intense play on the ice. Even though the winner faced the spectre of playing Russia while the loser got Germany in the quarter-finals, it was clear both Canada and Sweden gave their best.

I think it's a lot of pride, said Burns. Both teams wanted to win and test themselves (because) everybody's got to get better as the tournament goes along. Obviously, we knew that they were going to be a big test for us they've got a great team with a lot of size, skill.

Canada managed to handle it in a back-and-forth game. The team isn't expecting it to get any easier against a Russian squad that has struggled despite the arrival of Alex Ovechkin and the presence of other top players.

With experienced teams, I don't think you can judge anything until now, said Hitchcock. This is a team, they've played in a lot of Olympics, they've played in world championships. Their time is now, they'll play well.

They know when they have to play and they're capable of dialling it up.

Hitchcock has coached against the Russians at a number of international events, including the 2010 Olympics when Canada stormed to a stunning 7-3 victory in Vancouver. A number of those players are here as well.

We know them, said Hitchcock.

Notes: Hockey Canada will auction a game-worn sweater from each player on eBay starting May 10 ... Canada wore its red sweaters for the fourth time in the tournament ... The Swedes dressed 14 forwards and six defencemen because blue-liners Nicklas Grossman (knee) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (wrist) are out with injuries ... Ottawa Senators prospect David Runblad played his first game for Sweden at the event.

Belgian Cyclist Dies After Giro Ditalia Crash

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

(May 09, 2011) RAPALLO, ITALYBelgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt was killed Monday in a high-speed downhill crash during the third stage of the Giro dItalia, the first fatality at the Italian race in 25 years.

Weylandt fell during a descent about 20 kilometres from the finish in Rapallo, northern Italy, and lay motionless and bleeding heavily on the roadside before paramedics cut off his helmet and tried to resuscitate him.

We arrived immediately as we were behind his group, Giro doctor Giovanni Tredici said. He was unconscious with a fracture of the skull base and facial damage. After 40 minutes of cardiac massage we had to suspend the resuscitation because there was nothing more we could do.

The Leopard-Trek riders body was covered by a sheet and taken by ambulance about an hour after the accident.

The descent was a technical one, the asphalt was smooth, said Davide Vigano, one of Weylandts teammates. I wasnt told about what had happened during the race. Im lost for words.

The riders team put a picture of a smiling Weylandt on its website with a statement on behalf of the entire Leopard Trek team.

Today, our teammate and friend Wouter Weylandt passed away after a crash on the 3rd stage of the Giro dItalia, the statement said. The team is left in a state of shock and sadness and we send all our thoughts and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Wouter.

This is a difficult day for cycling and for our team, and we should all seek support and strength in the people close to us.

Race organizers cancelled the prize ceremony because of the crash. Spanish rider Angel Vicioso won Mondays stage, a 173-kilometre ride from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo, while David Millar of Britain took the pink jersey as overall leader.

Torontos Michael Barry, who rides for Sky Procycling, finished 86th and is 33rd overall.

Local investigators immediately opened an inquiry into the accident and took Weylandt to a nearby hospital for the autopsy.

Leopard-Trek team manager Brian Nygaard said the rest of the teams riders would meet to decide whether they wanted to continue in the Giro, which finishes May 29 in Milan.

Im shocked and saddened. May he rest in peace, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong said on Twitter.

Last year, on May 10, Weylandt won the third stage of the Giro on its final day in the Netherlands. His other main tour stage victory came in the 2008 Spanish Vuelta when he won the 17th stage from Zamora to Valladolid.

Weylandt was the first rider killed in a crash in one of cyclings three main tours since Italian rider Fabio Casartelli died during the 1995 Tour de France. At the Giro, Weylandt is the fourth cyclist to die during the race and the first in 25 years. Orfeo Ponsin died in 1952, Juan Manuel Santisteban in 1976 and Emilio Ravasio in 1986.

Things like this shouldnt happen. Absolutely sick to the stomach, British cyclist Mark Cavendish said on Twitter. My thoughts are with his family. RIP Wouter Weylandt.

In 2009, Pedro Horrillo was induced into a coma after falling 60 metres over a guard rail into a ravine during the eighth stage of the Giro. The following day, the peleton deliberately rode slowly to protest against safety conditions for riders.

In March 2003, Kazakh rider Andrei Kivilev died after he fell from his bike and fractured his skull while not wearing a helmet during the Paris-Nice stage race. The International Cycling Union subsequently made the wearing of hard helmets compulsory.

Weylandt joined the newly formed Leopard-Trek team at the start of the 2011 season, viewing it as his big break in racing alongside Frank and Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara.

The move followed six years spent with Quick Step, during which time he rode as a support cyclist for Tom Boonen.

UCI President Pat McQuaid issued a statement offering sympathies to all members of Weylandts family, all his friends and teammates, but also to all his colleagues on the Giro, who will have to overcome their grief to continue in the race.

Italian cycling federation president Renato Di Rocco said Weylandts death left the sport in anguish.

My first thoughts go to his family, his teammates, managers and technicians and the Belgian cycling federation, to which the entire cycling community offers its support, Di Rocco said. We are all affected by this grief, caused by the imponderable, which is always a risk despite the measures made to insure maximum safety.

From that point of view, the organizers did everything possible with great professionalism and timeliness. Faced with a tragedy like this no words are adequate.

Weylandt is survived by a pregnant girlfriend.


Celebrity Trainer Shares Top 10 Diet And Fitness Tips

Source: www.thestar.com - Brandie Weikle, healthzone.ca editor

(April 06, 2011) When it comes to your workout, chances are good youre doing it wrong.

Celebrity trainer and star of Bravo's Thintervention (premiering on W Network Sundays at 12:30pm, EST) says theres too much focus on time put in on the gym and not enough on the intensity of the exercises themselves. Its not how long, its how strong, said the Los Angeles fitness guru during an interview with the Star while visiting Toronto recently.

The body actually plateaus after a month. Thats why you see women on the elliptical trainer for an hour and a half and their bodies never change.

Thats actually great news for time-pressed people hoping to ramp up their exercise routines in time for summer.

I train a lot of celebrities and none of them do more than 20 minutes of cardio a day, says Warner, who is the author of This is Why Youre Fat. Instead, they do high-intensity interval training alternating two minutes on a treadmill walking on a steep incline with two minutes of fast running, for example. When getting ready for a movie or a photo shoot, the stars actually spend far more of their workout time on muscle resistance circuit training.

Even without the benefit of a high-priced personal trainer, there are principles the average exerciser can adhere to if they want to see results.

Warner says people should chase the burn instead of running away from it. It means that doing three little sets of eight dumbbells curls with a manageable weight is no longer where its at. Instead, you should add more weight, do each exercise slowly, with purpose, until the muscle is exhausted.

Lower weights with the same purpose you life them, instead of using momentum to lift them and then just passively lowering the weight, says Warner. Using momentum causes injury and does nothing for the muscle.

And company goes a long way to helping people meet workout goals, she says.

I love bootcamps and I love class training. You get a built-in support group, you have an instructor, and you have intensity because theres music always playing.

Here are Warners top tips for shaping up.

Training Tip #1: Turn up the intensity

Long, boring workouts aren't the best way to lose weight. "How long you work out isn't as important as how strong you work out," Warner says. You can get great results from a short (10- to 20-minute) high-intensity workout, making it easy to fit exercise into your busy schedule.

Diet Tip #2: Avoid fat-free food

Don't let food labels fool you. Many fat-free foods are actually loaded with sugar. And too much sugar is often the real reason people gain weight, Warner says. More importantly, your brain doesn't work as well when you eat a lot of sugar. Candy, cookies and soda aren't the only problem. Sugar is in virtually every food you eat. "Breads, crackers, pretzels, chipsthat's sugar."

Training Tip #3: Don't be afraid to lift weights

A lot of women don't want to start a weight-training program because they're afraid to bulk up. But you can't get a toned and tight body without lifting weights, Warner says. Resistance training adds much needed muscle to speed up your metabolism. For the best results, focus on working the biggest muscle groupschest, back, butt and legs.

Training Tip #4: Learn the best abs exercises

You won't get killer abs like doing crunches. Her 6-pack is a result of doing exercises like pull-ups, pushups and squats. These moves are a fantastic abs workout because they really engage your core and build the muscles that burn fat around your belly, Warner says.

Diet Tip #5: Eat the good, the bad, then the ugly.

Classify the food you eat as good (veggies, fruit, lean meats), bad (starches, bread), and ugly (dessert, alcohol). Fill up on the good first and then move on to the other foods. "Last night, I ordered a salad, a hamburger and truffle fries. I ate the salad first, and then about three bites of the burger and four truffle fries. I usually just want the taste of that rich, decadent food."

Training Tip #6: Chase the burn

Burning muscles mean you're working and you're going to have more tone, Warner says. If you're concerned about bulking up, go with lighter weights and higher repetitions, but make sure your muscles are on fire for the last five to 10 reps.

Training Tip #7: Change up your workout playlist

Changing your workout music is just one of many simple ways to stay motivated, Warner says. Plus, studies show that listening to music during your workout can help you work harder and fight fatigue.

Training Tip #8: Get fit for free

You don't need to hire a personal trainer to get in great shape. There's a ton of free and affordable training online, Warner says. Or just go outside! "When I'm at home for the holidays, I run outside for 20 or 30 minutes. And that takes no money at all.

Training Tip #9: Set specific fitness goals

Don't make weight loss your only goal. "My most successful clients are the ones that set specific fitness goals," Warner says. Find a race that you want to run, work toward doing 5 consecutive pushups, or simply increase your speed on the treadmill by a certain amount each week.

Training Tip #10: Keep a training log

Jackie Warner writes her workouts in a training log every morning. "If I feel sore after a training session, I put a smiley next to it," she says. "That way, I remember exercises that were challenging."


Motivational Note

Foolish, selfish people are always thinking of themselves and the result is always negative. Wise persons think of others, helping them as much as they can, and the result is happiness. Love and compassion are beneficial both for you and others. Through your kindness to others, your mind and heart will open to peace.

Source:  Dalai Lama